Monstrous Lair: Drow Outpost (system neutral)
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.
So, the dark masters of the Ebon Realms – which hints at the presence of one of their outposts, what may be found outside their lairs? Well, we have noisy shards as an impromptu warning system, fronds of strange fungi, trails of slaves, improvised collapses and the like. If that does not seem particularly drow-specific to you, you’d be right, alas. As for what’s going on: We have drow whipping slaves and terrorizing prisoners, male guards waiting while a female communes with a spider effigy, slaves fighting for promises of freedom….you get the idea. Two entries feature two drow chatting over a dead body – once above a killed merchant, the second time over a dead surface elf. Again, this table, alas, did not exactly impress me.
As for major lair features, we have spider-shaped fence-gates, thick webs, piles of boxes etc., spiders lying in wait…and what about stone tentacles, awaiting the priesthood’s commands to strike? Interesting! The minor lair features include bone shards shaped as a woman-faced spider mosaic (AWESOME!!!), but also scuttling insects feasting on blood pools, or scuff marks from salves being dragged around. Individual drow appearances include being clad in spiderwebs and black silk, shoes of polished dwarf skin, cloaks of aboleth-hide (including wriggling tentacles – awesome!!!) and the like – this table is as strong as I’ve come to expect from the author! The treasure table features shields that protect against poison, ghoulish cloaks made from the skin of fair maidens, embellished with brown hair, plat wrought from cave fishers…pretty cool entries here – and yes, they spell out very well how EVIL the drow actually are. The final tables, which features miscellanea/trash includes collections of thumbs, nifty assortments of thorns and hooks, pouches containing strange dust, fans made of dwarf-parts – grisly! Love it!
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.
If I didn’t know any better, I’d claim that the first and second pages had been written by different authors: Steve Hood delivers big time on the second page, offering grisly and decadent convenience items that perfectly spell out how vile the drow can be. Contrasted with the bland and often pretty darn generic first page, this generates a discrepancy in table-quality that is almost whiplash-inducing. The lair features do have a few cool entries, but as a whole, this is much more uneven than usual. The first page is weak, but the second one does make up for it. My final verdict can’t exceed 3.5 stars, rounded up due to the low price-point.
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