Posted on June 4, 2010 by spikexan
Available at RPGNow.com
Before I dive into this review, let me point out that it reads differently. I think a good review should not only weigh a product’s pros and cons. No, they should also speak to previous tastes and biases. Comparisons. Rather than dwell here, let’s dive right into the Hellfrost: Bestiary review.
Hellfrost: Bestiary (Triple Ace Games; 132 Pages) is a massive collection of fantasy monsters for the Hellfrost setting and Savage Worlds’ game engine. The book covers all manner of vile creature from the evil deer (page 20) to truly loathsome Dread Liche (page 84). These antagonists also offer many variations of trouble for PCs. There are “tanks” with toughness of 23, psionics, pesky swarms, and mystical adversaries. Trouble. Loads of trouble.
The PDF has a handsome bordering/water-coloring throughout that catches the eye while keeping a reminiscent of an ancient tome. Chris Kuhlmann’s cover art pulls in the reader and lets them know what to expect (for those rarities who don’t know what to expect from a bestiary). Kuhlmann teams up with Justin Russell on the interior artwork, which consists mostly of black and white sketches. These sketches are fitting for the book’s feel, but the enhanced full-color images (such as the gathering of trolls) deliver a much more potent punch. The artwork within the book is frequent and often chooses the rarer beings within the book (a plus for me).
The authors don’t get a chance to stage much setting in this book (that would be the Hellfrost setting); however, they do get to detail hundreds of creatures that can be dropped into any Savage Worlds campaign and (with a little work) any fantasy setting that requires them. The smattering of stats I number-crunched had no errors, which I expected with a product from this line. I’ve only checked out a few games from Triple Ace (I like Egg of Seven Parts best), but find their products to be well-edited and well-written. The creature, character, and Wild Card write-ups in the book could have been dry encyclopedic accounts; however, the authors took familiar beings, held them to the light of the Hellfrost setting, and created subtle changes. This
is what wins me over today.
Fans of Savage Worlds, fantasy settings, less number crunching (though there will doubtlessly be epic battles for those heavily using Savage Worlds and a fantasy setting), and bestiaries are the primary audience for this PDF. Because it is a monster book (and can thus be converted by ambitious game masters. A CoC Keeper could transfer some of these things over maybe by playing with the Realms of Cthulhu supplement) there are few that this book wouldn’t work for. It would mainly depend on a strong bias against this game engine or a fantasy setting to turn any true interest away. For the most part though, this book is a bit more open-ended towards its audience.
My scores for Hellfrost: Bestiary are:
Layout: 5 out of 5 Dice (smart looking)
Artwork: 4 out of 5 Dice (solid)
Writing: 4 out of 5 Dice (Excellent for a bestiary)
Overall: 4 out of 5 Dice (well worth the value, necessity for fans of fantasy-based Savage
Many thanks to Triple Ace Games for my free reviewer’s copy of their game.
Review by Todd Cash