By Thilo Graf
This first pdf of TPK Games’ monster supplements is 18 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This bestiary is different, as Richard A. Hunt’s introduction makes clear from the beginning – this pdf is all about Fear and Dread and thus, we first get some interesting pieces of advice: People fear the unknown and thus, the pdf kicks off with advice on avoiding the sense of boredom that comes with e.g. the oomphteenth’s ogre – from etymological research, avoiding monster names and reskins, we get a treasure trove of interesting ideas that also contain sample names, interesting features, descriptive combat and awarding ranks put into skills to research monsters/gathering information. If you’re familiar with how the Ravenloft-books of old introduced great ways of making the game more immersive, then you’ll get what approximately to expect from these pages. The pieces of advice are helpful, especially for relatively new DMs and especially the “never call a monster by its bestiary-name”/research-angle is great – I’ve been using that one for 2 campaigns now and it changed my game for the better.
The book also contains 6 new feats: One to enhance your blood-draining, one that makes you faster when you inflict a bleeding wound or inflict said bleeding wounds. You may also command your undead to form unliving shieldwalls around you, emit a despair-inducing cry, get an additional web ability use and a feat that enhances your webs to entrap, grab, trip or pull foes via your webs, each time you take the feat, get access to another of the web-uses.
The 6 new traits should drive the fear back into your players via their disturbing nature: Whether it’s eating eyeballs, emitting weird keening, having a smelling, rotten limb, a creepy hide-out and the option to locate bodies of potential victims, these are dark with a capital “D” and offer some very specific and iconic options. Impressive!
The pdf, of course, also features new monsters, first of which would be the CR 21 Gravebane Colossus. Remember the Tombstone Elemental of Ravenloft? Yeah, this one’s worse: Massive, deadly, the creature is an undead construct, immune to magic, healing fast, absorbing foes, can create elementally-infused fast zombies, disguise itself as a cemetery, throw deadly clutches of corrupted elemental earth and tombstone fragments and is surrounded by an aura of maddening whispers of the damned. A deadly pinnacle of necromantic arts, this creature has more signature abilities than many monster-pdfs! Stellar!
The second creature herein is no less sadistic: The Sundered One is the result of stitched together bodies of small creatures (yes, that means halflings qualify, as do children and other innocents…) and yes, the deadly undead is surrounded by an aura of madness, a master of using its mutiple limbs and is additionally covered in nasty, deadly slime.
There are also 2 new magic items – a magical girdle that inflicts you with lycanthropy and an infernal trident that is particularly deadly versus good foes.
Editing and formatting are very good, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a two-column standard with a parchment-style background. The pdf is fully bookmarked, but in contrast to other TPK-Games-releases, not hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com The artwork is mostly stock, though we get two original, extremely cool artworks for the new creatures herein – at this price-point: Two thumbs up!
This is a great advice-book for DMs and the monster-feats are cool and balanced as well. What steals the show for me, would be the very specific (and cruel) traits! Traits mostly suck/are boring or overpowered. These are neither and should help prospective DMs drive home the fear of their psycho-killer humanoids. The two monsters are gloriously disturbing to behold and will see use in my campaigns. Two thumbs up again!
While personally, I didn’t learn anything new from the DM-aid sections, the validity of the tips is undoubted and should enhance many a game. With the rest of the content being top-notch and available at the fair asking price, I practically have to settle on a final verdict of 5 stars + endzeitgeist seal of approval. Just don’t be squeamish, this content is not for the faint of heart!
The runelord of evaluation has spoken,
Rawr! – Volume 1: Fear and Dread is available from: