#6 of my Top Ten of 2015!
The Kaiju Codex clocks in at 53 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD,2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 48 pages of content – quite a massive book, so let’s take a look!
If you’re following my reviews, you’ll note that this is “early” – it jumped ahead in the queue. This is due to one of my patrons requesting it to be tackled sooner via my patreon. The verdict of the product was not influenced in any way, only the place in my review-queue.
All right, let’s dive…wait. If my nickname “Endzeitgeist” wasn’t ample clue for you, I do have a certain weak spot for anything cataclysmic, in particular, for vast, deadly creatures. You know it – the feeling of giddy anticipation when you as a DM take a look at a given Elder Evil of Dragon or Spawn of Rovagug, take a look at the DAMAGE-OUTPUT and cackle with glee. I call it the Tarrasque-syndrome – vast, unstoppable killing machines are just awesome and, at least for my part, they inspire me. I slave away for months, with subtle foreshadowing, hints, etc. before I finally unleash them upon my unsuspecting PCs. Well, guess what? This book is full of just such creatures.
All creatures herein share the Kaiju subtype – and it’s formidable: Attacks count as epic and magic. Darvision 600 ft. (no hiding…ever!), DR 20/epic, fats healing 30, ferocity, immunity to all ability drain and damage, death effects, disease, energy drain and fear and resistance 30 to acid, fire, cold, electricity, sonic and negative energy. Oh, and they can hurl foes as byproducts of attacks and they can only be flanked by huge creatures. Moving through squares inhabited by puny mortals and vice versa, running througha Kaiju’s square – all covered. Better yet, climbing the creatures is also mentioned. And even if you bring down such a beast temporarily via paralysis, mind-control, etc., the may simply reroll every round. Oh, and once per year, if an attack would kill a kaiju, it instead heals it for twice the amount – this, however, leaves the kaiju nauseated and makes it return to its lair – unless one is foolish enough to attack it – then, its rage resumes. I love this subtype and will definitely use it for different creatures in the future!
The Kaiju in this book range from a whopping CR 30 (!!!) to CR 8, and each and every one of them sports a surprisingly well-written piece of fluff to accompany the statblock of these massive threats -Elaine Betts certainly delivers in these – take a look at for example, the first creature, the Worldshaker – vast beyond belief, it rose from a wound in the very planet, bringing to mind both in its prose and image the legendary Weapons from Final Fantasy VII -here, we literally fight a walking mountain – or better, scram the hell away out of its path!
Speaking of glorious artworks – if you prefer what amounts to Scylla or Charybdis crossed with lovecraftian tentacle-horror, than the Beast of the Deepest Depths, at 1 CR less than the CR 30 worldshaker, will probably fit your bill – with nasty amounts of lethal tentacles and the option to create Tsunamis, the introduction of this primal brute ought to bring back the fear of the bottomless depths of the oceans. Oh, and yes, Charybdis, the fleet-eater actually can be found within these pages as well! Speaking of great prose – That Which The Stars Rejected, a massive, plasma-ray (electricity/fire) blasting ooze-thing can spawn plasma oozes to do its bidding comes with a very disquieting little tale – and a nasty inferno of rays, even before its foresight and magnetic aura come into play. Would you prefer a living storm to scour your campaign – well the incorporeal untouched, with earth-shattering lightning and electrical fire may just fit the bill!
What happens if a clumsy fool age is short-sighted enough to make a wish at a crossroads? Well, in the case of one particular individual, said man became the greatest warrior of his age – but even with nigh-demigod-level powers, he could, in the end, not best the crossroads devil that made the pact with him – for Xel’unchesk is not just any crossroads devil – he is a kaiju and kingdoms shatter, legends die at his feet. Adam, the Defender has a more human story, though one wrought in the ink of tragedy – a man who dared love his enemy, he remains a valiant and benevolent guardian, a mute sentinel that has paid the ultimate price for peace and love.
Deep within the most primeval of forests, there is a mythical valley of peace, an elysium on earth where predators and prey coexist in a state of bliss and peace and all is well – until you realize that the calming fragracne that suffuses the valley is the sedating lure of a vast, all-consuming plant-creature…Kudzu awaits here. Speaking of odd lulls – in one land, the crops fails, the houses lie in abject squallor and the people still seem content – as if tranquilized, while everything rots around them. This may be the doing of the Voice of Beyond – a deadly creature indeed and quite frankly closer to what the lovecraftian color ought to be able to do than its regular, imho rather lame PFRPG-incarnation. The next Kaiju answers the question “What are liches afraid of?” – the answer here would be an undead, abyssal, soul-devouring engine of destruction that will track you to the ends of the worlds and lanes, if it has to. Yssian is coming, and there’s no place to run. On the nitpicky side, I do think the creature ought to have some ranks in survival to track its prey, but oh well.
Formians are a pretty iconic race- but most of the time, I did not consider their overall execution too exciting. now, what if they had created an artificial kaiju that can be powered by a formian, thus joining the hive mind? Suddenly more exciting, right? And yes, Forius is just that. Now not all kaiju are nasty – in fact, the psionically-active Neuros, The Brain Between Worlds, actually just wants to play – no, really, the thing may be alien and potentially, exceedingly deadly…but if you’re nice to it, it won’t hurt you…probably. The same can’t be said about primal Cclth – a creature born from the mutation of a charda, a creature that never stopped growing… The approximately-minotaur-shaped anti-Kaiju humanoid weapon Tauruso is just that – slayer and foe to these impressive beings, though one that ought to specify that the con-damage it deals bypasses the immunity to such damage that Kaiju usually enjoy -after all, he does have such an exception-rule for his Dazzling Display-feat.
Are you as unsatisfied with regular yeti as I am? You know, these guys ought t be legends…feared…deadly. Well, White Death is just that – with ice-entombing and deadly ice-powers, he is the REALLY big yeti. Inu would be a black wolf the size of a mountain – and intelligent as well as surprisingly cooperative for such a vast creature. Iruk would be more of an apex-predatr, one that provides for a good rationale to keep the Christmas tree of magic items etc. at home – he can see them. If a giant-sized flee can exsanguinate a cow, then you can easily imagine the size of a blood-sucking beast that can drain giants – yes, Grezk is pretty disgusting… Ykcor the Windstorm, then, could have come from the vivid imagination of the heads of studio Ghibli – think of a massive flying squirrel. Yes, I SO want such a pet! The thought alone makes me gooey-eyed! The final creature among the Kaiju will bring a smile to all fans of classic Magic: The Gathering’s Moggs – Hubrun is a huge goblin – deadly, powerful…and an utter coward that has no immuniyt to fear. So both as a boss and as a plot-device, awesome!
The supplemental material lists psionic powers and skills used, horrifically overpowered feats used in the builds…and provides the Iron knight. What’s that, you ask? It’s a gargantuan land vehicle/mech that requires a crew of 4 to move – a commander, a gunner, a driver and an engineer. Interaction with ramming damage etc. and getting up are covered. But combat works somewhat different: The driver rolls initiative and sets it at -5, 0, +5 and +10; the party may freely decide in which order to act in the round, each getting a full-turn. Beasts get full turns at +0 and +10. Now here’s the cincher – capabilities of the PCs, depending on which console they’re sitting at, influence the performance of the Iron knight and provide feats/class feature benefits – however, at the same time, there are actions exclsuive to a console. While the initiative-explanation could have been a tad bit more clear, in direct playtest, this worked perfectly. Yes, this is essentially every Gundam or Power Rangers-fantasy you ever wanted to play out and adds a whole new dimension to this book. Yes, one can make a case that the crew-ability transference could be more complex, but this is bonus-content, so I’ll give it a slip. Now can we please have a full-blown mech-book? With more variants of this guy? Please?
The pdf also provides an artifact to control Kaiju and provides advice for how to make Kaiju fit more seamlessly into a medieval fantasy setting – the advice provided is sound.
Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect – I noticed some minor typo-level glitches here and there and in the case of two Kaiju, fluff and crunch did not perfectly line up. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing’s two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf sports numerous gorgeous full-color artworks of the Kaiju, most of which are downright stunning and awesome.
Okay, imagine me taking the font-size, for one word, and increasing it by 600%: SQUEEEE!
I fully admit to being a sucker for big monsters, the nastier, the better. My dragons are big, my monsters are big – I adored the opponents the Power-rangers faced when I was a child and I unapologetically start grinning from ear to ear whenever the words “Gundam,” “Neon Genesis Evangelion” or “Code Geass” are mentioned. I adore mythology, lovecraftiana and the classic movies. Speaking of which – I expected lame copies of Godzilla, Mothra et al – and, let’s face it, one can find such online. instead, we receive unique, inspired creatures herein, ones that tap into classic mythology and are more inspired than the simple rethreading of material could have hoped to be.
What I’m trying to say is – this pdf is almost impossible for me to review sans passion – because each and every single component is geared to making me squee like a little girl – from Justin Sluder’s complex statblocks to Elaine Bett’s imaginative prose, this book just made me HAPPY. No, really. I read this, stared at the massive beasts and was HAPPY. I couldn’t turn off my emotional response to these creatures, I couldn’t turn it off – for whenever I managed to do it, some component turned it on again. After the final statblock, the Iron Knight brought it back and when the slightly opaque way in which its initiative count works stumped me for a second, the additional content brought me back. From the first page to the final playtest combat, this book has been a source of joy for me – it revels in its genre, it is unapologetically inspired in various ways and still manages to frame the concepts quoted in a way that makes them seamlessly fit into a given setting. The only questions that remain for me are: When do we get the sequel? When do we get a massive mech-book? When do we get the sequel to the sequel? When do we get an Obsidian Apocalypse-style “Rise of the Kaiju”-event-book or AP?… and so on.
Yes, I could probably nitpick the Iron knight more (its secondary attacks and the like are a bit opaque and suffer from there not being a whole chapter that covers all the bases and explains how mechs work before the stats), but as written it is functional – not perfectly so, but for what it is, it works – and that’s what counts. I love this book. I love it so much. Beyond being a great read, this book is inspired and utterly fun – oh, and adding the kaiju-subtype to big dragons makes btw. for an instant, easy way to make them much, much nastier… This book is a great example of some of Rite Publishing’s strengths as a company – this is a good read, provides massive statblocks and revels in HIGH concept themes. As such, it should come as no surprise that my final verdict clocks in at 5 stars + seal of approval – and since it’s my list, I’ll also nominate this as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2015.