This installment of the Monstrous Lairs-pdfs clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Sometimes, you just need a bit of dressing for a wayside encounter – or something specific to a monster type. Finding appropriate entries can be rough, and so, this series attempts to remedy this shortcoming on 2 pages, with a total of 7 d10-tables. It should be noted that this is the first installment that changes not the formula per se, but the layout of the tables and the headers: Instead of “approaches” we now have “outside the lair”, and “notable features” now are called “major lair features”, “trinkets” are now called “trash” – you get the idea.
Outside of the lair, rubble may slow movement, and crude tribal sigils, trails of humanoids dragged towards the caverns and bloody footprints speak of deadly adversaries awaiting – while these ar not particularly specific, they are okay. As for what’s going on, we have troglodytes waiting in ambush, perhaps alerted by some sort of inexplicable sixth sense, troglodytes lolling around, content and sated, and good-natured wrestling, gambling or a dispute in progress. Major features include outcrops that have been crudely fashioned into an approximation of chairs (odd, considering troglodytes are usually depicted with tails…), the signature stench (does that constitute a major feature?) or a forest of mushrooms. The minor features include uneven floors, polished collections of shells and the like. The two best entries here feature albino insects buzzing around lichen and hollow stalactites dotting the ceiling, dripping water.
Individual appearances may include leather belts worn as bandoliers, being one-eyed, having scras or oversized teeth, etc. As far as treasures are concerned, we have shards of onyx, skull-fetishes and swirl-decorated skulls, to name a few. The trash-section includes buckets from which water drips, skulls used as makeshift containers via hardened mud and crude, roughly ziggurat-shaped statuettes.
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard, and we get a nice piece of b/w-artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, in spite of its brevity (kudos!) and is included in two versions – one optimized for screen-use, and one for the printer.
I was not impressed by Robert Manson’s take on troglodyte lairs. Somewhat generic, the tie-in to the troglodytes themselves didn’t shine through as much as I hoped it would. For the most part, you could use these dressings for any primitive cave-dwellers; certainly much less compelling than e.g. the take on kobolds or the amazing one on gnolls. My final verdict will be 2.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.
You can get this lair-pdf here on OBS!
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