Top positive review
5 people found this helpful
How a monster supplement should be written.
on 16 December 2008
Before we go any further, scroll up and have a look at the page count of this book. It's not the thickest book out there. You have been warned.
The book cleanly divides into 2 sections - a player and a GM section if you want to call them that. The first section simply has descriptions of the beasts contained within. There are only 50 or so creatures but each one's been so much care and description that a GM can incorporate them meaningfully into a campaign making them memorable (for those who play WFRP for the campaign setting) rather than the next piece of easily forgotten sheesh kebab as in D&D.
The sections the creatures are grouped into - 'Forces of Chaos,' 'The Greenskin Races,' 'Denizens of Athel Lorien' (eg treemen, dryads), 'Children of the Horned Rat,' 'Brigands and Beasts,' The Restless Dead.' It's a pretty comprehensive list of the basic warhammer creatures though in some places (eg skaven) not as detailed as the specific supplement for race in question. Each creature is written from several points of view - first hand accounts from various people in the old world. For example orcs are written from the POV of soldiers, merchants, peasants, scholars and the orcs themselves. Some entries will have you cracking a big grin which is a testament to what a good rpg should be about:
"Oh yes, I remember the summer when we had the plague of Giant Spiders. No one knows why they swarmed down out of the hills that day, but we was overrun! Most decent folk locked themselves in their root cellars. They trampled on everything and carried off every sheep, goat and pig in the village. I heard tell that they took the mayor's daughter as well, and her only babe in arms too. Mind you, they said some funny things about him and his goings on. His house got burned down a few years after that, and not by accident neither. Funny business. But like I said, I was no' but a little'un."
The book doesn't bore you as you read. NPCs fly off the page and I can see quite a few campaigns developing just from misconceptions and prejudices towards certain creature types.
The second half of the book contains the creature stats. One nice feature is the 'slaughter margin' - ie how a standard average fighter would find a fight against the creature in question. Easy against a goblin, impossible against a proper dragon - creature combats become easier to scale depending on the player party.
Also included are a summary of mounts, some new chaos mutations, 2 new careers (apprentice shaman, shaman) and a new lore (lore of spirits to go with shaman careers).
Overall the book's a joy to read, and it's easy to see how it won an award at GenCon in 2005. It's a tad on the thin side but generally is worth checking out as an 'ideas' book alone.