This little bestiary clocks in at 16 pages, 3 of which are devoted to editorial, etc. – leaving us with 13 pages for the critters herein.
The review is based on the dead-tree version I received at Gencon in exchange for an unbiased, critical review. Due to me receiving a print copy, this was moved up in my review-queue.
All right, so we begin this bestiary with the CR 1 Chimerette, which is an AMAZING concept: Think of these guys as anti-familiars, instilled with an intense hatred for spellcasters and a will to free their enslaved brethren. And yes, non-spellcasters may gain these as companions with a new feat presented herein.
The CR 4 Cystling is a similarly evocative concept – basically a fey that has literally been consumed and trasnformed by the cancerous growth of unchecked civlization’s refuse into a horribly disturbing mockery of its former self. Yeah…evocative.
The giant cone snail and its increased emperor iteration at CR 1/2 and 3, respectively, are similarly cool: Trails of slime make terrain difficult, poisonous stings, soft bits and the option to traverse walls make these nasty threats Speaking of animal-like threats: The vessel-capsizing CR 5 black boar with its jagged tusks is another effective, deadly threat that maintains the streamlined emphasis on efficiency you expect from animal builds.
The denlock, at CR 3, are basically long-necked, hairless degenerate dwellers of the realms below, adept at swarming and leaping pounces. The CR 2 plague drake is a great story foe – they hatch from dragon eggs corrupted and diseased and thus can make for a perfect angle to introduce draconic mentors or do one of the scaled majesties a favor.
At CR 7, the gatorpede is actually one of the few examples of weird hybrid creatures where I really can see it work – unique and deadly, it has the potential to become as popular as the classic owlbear. The CR 3 filth golem is usually not created – it happens when refuse manages to gain accidental sentience, emitting a powerful stench, nauseating blows and the classic immunity to magic make this for a great foe.
The CR 6 prismatic cube determines its color and precise effects anew every single round – from fire to acid and poison, it is a unique twist on the gelatinous cube. I’ve, as often, kept the best for last: The CR 9 rat emperor is basically a composite entity composed of a swarm of rats that grant it a collective intelligence – as such, it can swarm, spellcast, inflict the bubonic plague on foes…and worse. That’s campaign BBEG-material, just add the required class levels and there we go, even at higher levels. My favorite critter herein, though…is one you will never see. No, not even with invisibility purge. Dire Midge Swarms, at CR 4, cause horrible itching and painful welts and they are particularly nasty when facing foes that are bleeding…oh, and they are so small you can’t see them. This is amazing and I already know how I’ll be using these critters.
Editing and formatting are very good; I noticed a minor formatting glitch of a purely aesthetic nature, but the Gaming Paper-crew has since told me they had fixed it, so consider this to be excellent. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly, solid 2-column b/w-standard and each critter herein has a nice, original piece of artwork, all adhering to a uniform style. The softcover is solid and does not leave much to be desired for such a booklet.
A bestiary at this length has a tough job – it NEEDS to be all killer, no filler to warrant its dead tree price point, which is why you don’t see too many small bestiaries at this length. Thankfully, the Gaming Paper crew has hired industry-legend Owen K.C. Stephens to write this pdf. This may be the first bestiary of his I have read and it’s absolutely glorious, an all-killer, no-filler beauty that I really want to use in my games. Not a single creature herein is even “only” good – every single critter here is superb, making this one of the best small bestiaries I have read in a long, long while – and Legendary Games has spoiled me big time regarding great creature design. This is superb and well worth getting in print. 5 stars + seal of approval.
This was made originally to supplement the cool Gaming Paper Mega-Dungeon game-aid. You can get that here!
You can, as per the writing of this review, only get this gem here on Gaming Paper’s shop!
Finally, there is currently a cool kickstarter running by Gaming Paper, providing paper that helps you draw those amazing isometric old-school maps! You can check it out here, but it only has 30 hours to go, so if you want in on the KS-discounts!