The Colossal Creatures Bestiary
This massive bestiary clocks in at 91 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial,1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 87 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
All right, so there are a couple of things to note from the get-go; number one would be that this bestiary, if the page-count and low price point was not sufficient indicator enough for you, does not feature original artworks. I mention this because I know that it’s relevant as far as creatures are concerned for some folks; the interior artwork is a blending of b/w stock art and public domain pieces. As someone who always values content over shiny visuals, I have no issue there. Where I do take umbrage, though, would be that this huge tome lacks any bookmarks. Yep, almost 90 pages of monsters, no bookmarks, which means that printing this will be seriously the best way of using this tome.
All right, that out of the way, the CRs within range from 1 to the lofty heights of CR 40. Let us start going through the creatures, shall we? The book starts off with the Amgohran, massive turtles, ostensibly children of world-turtles. They are magical beasts with, obviously, armored shells and the ability to collect energy and use it to self-buff – kinda like a lite-version of gathering energy. Interesting one, and certainly more interesting than the more mundane CR 6 turtlehemoth. After this one, we get the 7-winged celestial angel (cue Savior Sephiroth-theme), an angel that has an overwhelming aura and the ability to emit blinding light and fire volleys of holy beams – at CR 25, these are essentially angelic war-machines.
Apocalypse men (CR 6) are tainted men, failed transmutation experiments, who now, grotesquely misshapen, roam the countryside, consuming magical energies. This makes the critter absorb energy that fails to penetrate their SR, and may fire deadly blasts. With a smile, I read about the CR 20 Arachnacthonus – a stony-carapaced, massive spider with magma churning underneath. Dark Souls, anyone? With an earthquake-ish aura and the ability to trail fiery magma, this one looks very cool, and they do get AoE melee attacks with their jumps. The doomweb, in comparison, is a more regular type of spider.
Want a massive caterpillar? Azure worm, and if you want it a bit more magical stuff, Doomworm – poisonous skin, corrosive blood, abilities to fire electricity.
There are a couple of “-hemoth”-versions of regular critters. Need a bear so large it can’t effectively use its muscles (ability score reference not properly capitalized)? You can check out the bearhemoth. The behemoth is covered in sticky honey (which may require universal solvent or copious amounts of water) to free weapons stuck to it. Its buzzing is deafening, and it carries an aura of bees. Beetlehemoths are less interesting – they only are immune to “cones, lines, rays and magic missile spells” – that’s not how that’s supposed to work. A) Why not other AoE-effects? B) Spell-reference not properly depicted in italics. C) Should probably reference force effects instead. Similar things can be noted about the reflective scales of the CR 25 Dracozilla. And yes, I’m aware that these verbiages are based on the Tarrasque’s carapace. That one isn’t as precise as should be either. There btw. also is a King Kong-ish critter herein, the Kongimus Rex.
Boarhemoths can charge better. Okay. The camelhemoth’s spit, oddly, is a touch attack. At this size? That should be AoE, right? Ettihemoths are oversized ettins. Kinda lame. Flytraphemoths are CR 12 colossals flytraps – would have been cooler with some pheromones or the like, or some representation of being faster when striking than one would expect from a creature of this size. Griffohemoth are oversized griffons. That’s it. Gughemoths…bingo, are ginormous gugs. There are also Hippopotamuhemoths (try saying that 5 times fast…). You’ve got three guesses what a hydrahemoth does. Jellyhemoth are more interesting, having a unique representation of their tentacles – they don’t AoO, but cause damage at the end of the turn. Small operation, but I liked it. The manticorehemoth is, bingo, a colossal manticore. Obsidian gargoyles also fall into the category of oversized monsters. Guess what an octohemoth or an owlbearhemoth is? Yep. The latter has a brutal hatred of arcane spells, which is a nice angle – if it saves, it’ll be very angry. Owlhemoths, with animal telepathy and true seeing, represent another oversized creature that I considered to be interesting in its representation within. Scorpiohemoths are oversized scorpions. Shambling mountains are oversized shambling mounds, and sharkhemoths – bingo, oversized sharks. Much cooler here: We do get *drumroll* stats for the SHARKNADO!! (CR 18, fyi!).Wyvernhemoth and yetihemoth do what you’d expect them to.
I enjoyed seeing Hokkamus, Patriarch of Waterfowl here – CR 12. An animal with stench and a putrid plumage, it can clean itself to modify its stats, akin to having two different modes. Nice. I also very much enjoyed the iron-bark tree with its gold/mithril/adamantine/withered variants – there is some mythological resonance here. Having had the chance to walk once under the majestic sequoia, I loved that we get a CR 14 sequoia treant – even more so when I saw their explosive cones and ability to quickly lift targets to dangerous heights.
Also interesting would be the CR 21 braghummor, a kind of addition to the neh-thalggu lifecycle, who enhance their impressive abilities the more thralls they have enslaved. Aboleth mindmothers follow a similar paradigm – basically an elder brain-like thing, just for aboleths. The Cr 24 yuggothian shamble, with its heat rays, consistent of mindless fungal drones, was a winner here that positively surprised me.
Colossal beheaded are pretty much what it says on the tin, and they do come with some variants. Crystalbacks are massive humanoids with crystals on the back and resonance powers, including a mage’s disjunction, which is pretty cool and makes these deadly. Ocean elementals are a pleasant surprise – more than just an overblown water elemental, they sport extremely corrosive salt water, storm auras and the like – nice! Pyrrhan, the living conflagration, is another winner – with brutal novas, recharging meteor swarms and the ability to counter cold damage, these are brutal and cool.
What about a battering ram on spider’s legs, shrouded in perpetual silence? Yeah, this is what I’m talking about! Very cool! Compared to that, the colosogog smoke demon is less impressive. It is brutish and has an aura of smoke. It’s deadly and tough, but not very interesting at this level. Dreadnoghtus dinosaurs are generally cool but at a speed of just 20 ft., they’re more a hazard for lower level PCs than a creature, which is also enforced by not being too fast. There also is btw. an even larger T-Rex, the megarex. Low-level (CR 6) failed experiments to make draconic creatures. Speaking of draconic remains – what about constructs made from shed draconic molt? Cool. The earthen host is a taken on the elemental dragon, with auras of acidic vapors. Speaking of dragon – Ryujin, the 5-headed dragon gets a CR 26 statblock herein.
There is a CR 19 incorporeal nightmare with a massive array of SPs, but personally, I liked the duster more – a CR 8 hellish butterfly that can evaporate water and desiccate targets, all while clad in nightmarish illusory hellscape. Dypthera are less planar in angle – poison and tornado are the angles here, and we get two stats here – the second is for the larval stage. There also are lurkers in the depths. While we’re on the subject of magical beasts – what about a fish that can instill visions of lost civilizations, the immortal lurker in the deep? And what about the creature that mimics whole lakes with its illusions? The latter is interesting in that it gets to attack ALL creatures in range with 3 pseudopods. Yes, it has that many.
Etherworld fishers are ginormous jellyfish that can manifest their tentacles in the physical world and drag targets to the ether, including a rift aura. This is mechanically more complex and interesting than I expected it to be. I also liked the massive fenrin, a CR 9 wolf – that enjoys hunting in packs. Ouch. Nannuraluks are cool – mountain-sized bears with brutal roars and the ability to shake off rocks from their fur in devastating shard sprays. Thankfully, these apex predators hibernate for a long time… There also is a representation of a massive monkey mob.
I also liked the furnace mother – it’s something dwarves would make: A gigantic, heat-radiating smithing construct in the shape of a dwarven woman, with smoking wounds and the like. I did enjoy the CR 3 rusted colossi, once grand warmachines, now pitiful remants of the magic might of empires past.
At CR 1, graveblobs are massive ooze-like masses of corpses, which is pretty cool, though it could have used a few more HP – it’s slow, has atrocious AC and bad atks (-5), and I love the idea of a level 1 Colossal critter, but as written, it’s easier to kill than many CR 1 foes. Shrine oozes are clever – these can trick divine casters, making their magic less reliable, and consume the unwary. Greeneaters are massive oozes that can deforest whole woods or destroy the harvest, consuming vast amounts of vegetation. Gurggs, abyssal, sentient oozes get sprays and can turn into waves – I really liked this one – I tried it out, and it works surprisingly well, making for a damn cool ooze-boss for high-levels! Kudos! Puddinghemoths are less interesting – basically oversized black puddings. Same goes for pyrelights, save that these are oversized will-o‘-wisps.
While we’re on oozes – here’s a surprise: The highest CR creature, the CR 40 harbinger of time? It’s an ooze. With a cube-form and multiple devastating auras, it reminded me of Yadis, the super-boss of Final Fantasy 9 – in a good way. As an aside – with aging auras and the like, this is a great creature to use in conjunction with Everybody Games’ “Childhood Adventures” and age-modifying options. Just as an aside. Hungry clouds are also conceptually cool – and once more, they’re a ooze! Some really gems for our slimy friends herein!
Jotnar are trolls grown too large by their regeneration, while pastorix are basically living fey hillocks. Less benevolent, the shadowman is not only the title of one of my favorite Selofan-tracks, it’s a fey shaped as a wispy boulder with human legs – weird and unique…and has surprising staying power for a fey. Procyron are a nice notion – basically, a colossal scavenger, drawn to metropolises or kaiju rampages, it carries the lyssavirus, has a gaze attack and may generate darkness. The stormghost ship does pretty much what it says on the tin, and does so well, drinking life and sporting an aura of both lightning and despair. Speaking of storms – a lobster-tailed humanoid shrouded in a thundercloud, red lightning dancing around? Yeah, stormswimmers are weird in the right ways. Torthen, the lightning bird, would be another storm-themed being, this time around focusing on wind, thunder and electricity bursts. Titankarps are CR 22 ship-wrecking karps. When the gods are angry, they may send forth a swarm titan – massive conglomeration of insects, capable of consuming not only flesh and bone, but thoughts as well. Unicornicopia (kudos for the atrocious pun – love it!) are colossal unicorns that, bingo, can generate food to alleviate famine etc.
The second most potent critter herein is another favorite of mine – The Tribinual Wheel, a CR 33 instrument of divine punishment and law, a true world-ender that is full of unique abilities.
Editing and formatting are goo on a formal level – I noticed a couple of formatting hiccups. On a rules-language level, the pdf is surprisingly good; not always perfect, but considering how many people worked on this, solid. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard with b/w-artworks taken from stock resources or public domain, and the pdf has no bookmarks, which, as mentioned above, is a serious detriment to the book’s immediate usefulness.
This book if the work of a lot of authors: Jeff Gomez, Jason Owen Black, Matthew Carroll, Kim Frandsen, Wojciech Gruchala, Scott Janke, Joshua Hennington, Matt Kimmel Jacob W. Michaels, Nikolaï Samarine, Joe Smith, Maria Smolina Jeffrey Swank, Robert Thomson, Margherita Tramontano, Jarryd Webber, Mike Welham, Landon Winkler. If you’ve been paying attention to who writes your critters, you’ll notice quite a few veterans here, and it shows – this book contains a lot of truly awesome and amazing gems. Particularly, to my surprise, the oozes get quite a lot of truly cool critters here, and the super-bosses are awesome. The magical creatures also manage to often evoke a mythological resonance, a sense of belonging, and there are also quite a bunch of creatures that do unique things.
At the same time, this book also contains A LOT of “oversized xyz”-critters that don’t gain anything but size and power. In a couple of instances, these were executed better, but there were plenty of these critters that fell flat for me. Similarly, the classic kaiju-takes did not exactly impress me, to put it mildly.
So, how do you rate this? Well, as a whole, I consider this to be a mixed bag with some filler, but also some true gems – and usually, I’d frankly round down due to the lack of bookmarks. HOWEVER, considering the very fair price point, I will instead round up from my final verdict of 3.5 stars. This is worth getting for the gems that you can find within this book!
You can get this inexpensive bestiary here on OBS!
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