Categorized | RPGs

Critter Cache: Lovecraftian Bestiary Review

Posted on December 10, 2009 by spikexan

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    Published by Goodman Games/BlackDirge Publishing
    Written by Aeryn “Blackdirge” Rudel

    I’m surprised it took this long. I know there have been flirtations between Dungeons & Dragons and Call of Cthulhu in the past; however, the affair is now fully public. Two of the biggest games in the market now have a serious connection. This book offers nearly fifty pages of how to bring Lovecraft’s creations into your beloved fantasy game. It’s essentially a small book of monsters. It’s just happens to be a damn good book of monsters.

    Erik Nowak’s graphic design and layout catches the reader’s attention towards exactly what you need. Stats are blocked out differently than the flavor text. Bold fonts and borders keep the reader wrangled into the material. The green-white mix is pleasant to look at as well. Maybe the printer won’t love this book as much, but it’s small enough to get made proper by the professionals at Staples (I’m assuming you need a Masters or Doctorate to work there. I can’t fact check everything).

    The artwork, provided by Hunter McFalls, is some of the stranger artwork I’ve seen this year. For those who know me, that isn’t a negative comment. The cover artwork and much of the interior artwork is so heavily-laden with details I found myself looking for easter eggs in the designs. While I didn’t find any, I can’t shake the feeling. Not every piece knocked me over though. Some of the pieces early in the book (pages 2 and 24 come to mind) seem like they were drawn by a totally different person. They seem amateurish in comparison with some of the books moodier pieces. Since one artist is at the helm of this ship, I’m not sure how that happened.

    Rudel’s writing shows a deep appreciation for D&D and CoC. Some oddities like Gug are included while iconic horrors like Nyarlathotep are not. With a span of fifty pages, the author had to make some serious decisions on what beasts to bring into the book. I think the overall result makes sense. His stats for the characters seem to add up. For extra effect, there are some tweaks available in the rules so that Dungeon Masters can tweak the right version of a monster for their gaming group (I want them to fight Shoggoth right the Hell now).

    Each creature write-up has a brief introduction, the creature’s stats, its tactics (my favorite bit in most cases), lore for the creature, and how they are typically encountered. All in all, each monster gets about four pages dedicated to it. Most even have artwork linked as well. Since this is intended as fantasy, we see the Mi-Go chasing down Clerics and Knights rather than detectives. It’s a fun spin that most gaming groups will enjoy. Heck, I’d play a D&D game with these kinds of monsters. My scores for Critter Cache: Lovecraftian Bestiary are:

    Layout: Five out of Five Dice (Be.U.T.Ful)
    Artwork: Three out of Five Dice (the cover is 5 out of 5, but the inconsistent interior art dings the score)
    Writing: Five out of Five Dice (No faults here. It’s a well-written monster book)
    Overall: Four out of Four Dice (Excellent addition for campaigns)

    Review by Todd Cash

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