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Monstrous Lair #46: Basilisk's Den
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/15/2020 06:07:58

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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, outside of the lair, we can find massive barbarian statues, around which thick moss and vines have grown, massive lizard-tracks, and e.g. statues impaled on rocks or branches – in short, there is a savagery, a randomness and bestial quality to the dressing, which sets the basilisks properly apart from e.g. the medusa. Well done! As for what’s going on, we can witness a basilisk defecating gravel-like substance that stinks of rotten eggs, we can find them in the process of doffing furrows with for their eggs…and what about using a petrified elk’s head as a kind of chew-toy? There is a general sense of fantastic plausibility for these creatures here, which is a good start indeed.

As for major lair features, we obviously have the obligatory petrified beings, and there is a focus on those, but much to my joy, there also are, for example, petrified mice as a tripping hazard, fragile spider carvings on the wall and the like – while these could have been a bit more varied, the petrification-angle has been executed rather well. As for minor lair features,, we have a young basilisk petrified by inadvertently gazing into a halfling statuette’s mirror, weaponry gripped in hands of stone, grisly piles of stone body parts, or broken basilisk teeth around a petrified dwarf-head, proving that the stout folk’s fabled thickheadedness is retained in stony death.

As for the different basilisk appearances, we can find scales of different colors, basilisks that have seen their fair share of combat, sporting blotches and missing horns, heterochromia, and the like – these not only allow for different contexts regarding biomes, their respective execution also drives home the unnatural nature of these beings. Treasures suggested include cured basilisk hide, gore-covered, reflective shields, figurines that can create essentially basilisk-y mounts and the like – and what about cloaks that let you merge with stones, or the cultist’s chalice that fills with basilisk blood on command? Rather cool array! As for the less useful miscellanea/trash that may be found in those lairs, we have broken swords, stone mice peeking from cracks in the wall, broken weapon and armor, with petrified limbs still attached – all in all, a cool array.

Conclusion: 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.

Steve Hood’s take on basilisks is a well-crafted, versatile dressing file. While the bestial basilisks obviously are essentially animals, and as such, there are a lot of petrification-themed components, and the pdf manages to retains the sense of the fantastic and retain some groundedness. While not as versatile as the excellent hydra-dressing, this still remains a great, inexpensive little dressing file. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Lair #46: Basilisk's Den
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Thank you for this review, Endzeitgeist. I'm delighted you enjoyed the book!
Monstrous Lair #45: Hydra's Den
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/14/2020 09:00:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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.

As for the outside of the lair, we have broken branches and rocks sporting shredded pieces of old hydra ski, trees with spiraling bark (awesome) or polluted puddles bubbling, hinting at the supernatural nature of the hydra. As for what’s going on, we have hydras lounging in the sun, watching in multiple directions for intruders. We have them coiling protectively around statues, or coiling in a serpentine manner around the branches.

As for the various lair features, we have fragments of toppled towers spread throughout the lair, we have dusty floor resulting in choking fog clouds when the hydra moves, several pits filled with serpents, attracted to the hydra…really cool, and meaningful entries here. The minor lair features include oversized, half-eaten lizard-carcasses, crusty growths on rocks, born from spilled hydra blood, crushed eggs…quite diverse here.

The pdf also provides an array of appearance dressing, which include red and black cobra-heads, crocodilian hydras waiting in deep pools, icy-scaled hydras or ones with pronounced bone crests and shark-heads. Awesome. As for treasures, we have, obviously, the hydra blood angle; we have entwined serpentine rings protecting us from poison, or what about a magical figurehead? As for the miscellanea or trash that might be found, we can find blades made to hack off heads, but only that – too flimsy to swiftly use in combat. We have smashed helmets and shields…and strange feathers, bound together in charms.

Conclusion: 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.

Steve Hood delivers big time in this one; hydras are tough, being primarily defined by being magical and multiheaded; bestial, yet more cunning than a mere animal. It is impressive, then, to notice how he manages to coax new and unique dressing out of this little pdf, all while retaining a well-constructed baseline with the concept. I can’t picture a hydra-centric dressing file doing a better job, which is why my final verdict will be 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Lair #45: Hydra's Den
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Thank you for this review, Endzeitgeist. I'm delighted you enjoyed the book!
Monstrous Lair #39: Otyugh's Sewer
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/14/2020 08:59:34

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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.

Outside of an otyugh’s lair, you can find rusting ladders covered in grime, old grates with severed hands clinging to them, sewage flows into pits, mossy vines hanging from the ceiling – a theme of decay is prevalent here, but there are less direct hints for sentience here. As for what’s going on, the otyugh is currently throwing stones into the sewage; the otyugh might be catching dripping waters. It might be hunting, bending grates…or it might be hooting and crying. This table is more interesting – liked it.

The major lair features include deer skull points sticking up from the muck, effluent dripping from above forming stalagmite-like growths, jagged statues blocking sewage and similar icky components – they do have the potential to be relevant in combat, which is exactly what I want from these. The minor lair feature table includes pigskin balls floating in the effluence, boobytrapped ladders, sewer gas and the like – kudos for making these also relevant!

The otyugh appearances include blue tentacles, camouflage and colorful patterns, bristled bodies and the like, providing quite a few means to differentiate them. The treasure table includes figurines of crystal that fortify against disease, pomanders containing herbs, capable of canceling the nauseating sewer stench, fencing foils bearing noble crests and the like – nice table. The trash-table includes collections of spoons (Witcher 3, anyone?), jar decorated with parrot skulls and similar odd components.

Conclusion: 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.

Steve Hood has definitely cracked the code of making compelling Monstrous Lairs – while the first table were a tad bit weaker than usual, the rest of the tables more than make up from this – 4.5 stars, rounded up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Lair #39: Otyugh's Sewer
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Thank you for this review, Endzeitgeist. I'm delighted you enjoyed the book!
Monstrous Lair #44: Chimera's Den
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/18/2019 07:26:02

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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.

Outside of a chimera’s lair, one might find oddly-mixed tracks, splintered bones in rotten manure, shed snake skins, fire-blasted trees, etc. – the author does a great job here. Why? Because the individual entries can be used to expertly foreshadow chimeras. As for the table dealing with what’s currently going on, we have the chimera trying to get a bone out of the goat-head’s mouth, an instance where said head is grazing while the others stare into the distance, lion and dragon heads fighting over food – pretty neat array.

As far as major lair features are concerned, we have three skulls set near broken skeletal remains, ceiling scored with bloody marks, piles of bodies and manure, a strange parody of a dragon’s hoard…or what about fire-blasted shadows of victims? Nice one. Minor lair features include bones and viscera/remnants of previous feasts/hunts., horns embedded in trunks and the like…solid array.

As for chimera appearances, we have pitch-black chimera, tiger-striped hides, spiraling horns, lumps of molten metal embedded in the dragon head and the like – these are very distinct and cool. The treasure table includes torcs that allow you to turn into a chimera, but which also drive you mad. Barbed swords, chimera-themed flails, sets of daggers – these actually made me stat a couple of the items! The trash table includes scorched spear-remnants, odd charms of feathers and sticks, boiled wine, mismatched boots containing skulls and similar odds and ends.

Conclusion: 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.

Steve Hood’s chimera dressing is a very good little file – the treasure table in particular is inspired, and while I wasn’t as enamored with the lair features tables, as a whole, this is certainly worth the fair asking price. 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Lair #44: Chimera's Den
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Thank you for the review, Thilo. I'm glad you liked Chimera's Den!
GM's Miscellany: The Thingonomicon (System Neutral)
by pat e. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/04/2019 20:25:43

I use charts from this all the time to help fill in the cracks in my game world and it doesn't disappoint. I often print a couple of tables that I think might fit in with the adventure that I'm running and keep them close at hand.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: The Thingonomicon (System Neutral)
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Thank you for these words, Pat. I'm glad you find the Thingonomicon so useful!
Monstrous Lair #34: Green Hag's Swamp
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/02/2019 12:34:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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.

Green hags are one of those color-coded critters that can use an infusion of good dressing, so what does this one offer? Well, first of all, I felt reminded of the Thronebreaker game, as the vicinity of green hags is signaled by blood-red water, an abundance of insects, warning signs and the like…and what about the wind whispering the names of fallen friends and lost loves? The table for indicators of hag presence are suitably dark fairy-tale-esque and disquieting without giving the entire ploy away, so kudos there. As for what’s going on, here, the table features hale and hearty washerwomen inviting folks for dinner, naked maidens flaunting their bodies as a lure or e.g. hags in the process of removing entrails from a boar or tending poisonous gardens. On the VERY dark side, what about a hag growing flowers on the corpses of children? Ouch! Here at the very latest there will be no question as to how vile these hags truly are.

The table for major lair features includes large patches of poisonous plantlife, clawing hands grabbing at a pond’s surface from a body wedged in willow roots, walkways of rotten logs – these all are potentially relevant for combat – and diverse! Kudos! Minor lair features include the skeleton of a giant alligator serving as a bridge (which any Gm half worth their salt will make haunted, a potential animate-target or lair action), sharp bones in pits – once more a diverse array that left my mind pondering tricks and encounter design. Nice!

As for the hag’s appearance, here, we have huge bird skull helmets, pitch-black skin, leeches covering warty skin and cloaks made of former lover’s skins, among other things. Love it! As far as treasures are concerned, what about a crown of fish skulls and deer antlers that increases your persuasive prowess at the cost of being, well, super obviously a black magic item? Fungus-filled skull bombs? Human skin sheaves detailed how to animate a hut, Baba Yaga-style? Yeah, aweome! As for miscellanea – what about jars of human ears? A fetish made from a horse’s genitals? A lyre with human hair? Heck yeah!

Conclusion: 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.

This is Steve Hood doing masterclass work. Usually, green hags are the less-evocative annis hags, and this pdf really helps set them apart. The dressing dives deeply into dark fantasy, and is better off for it, offering a thoroughly inspiring glance at wicked hags. I’d use this with the Witcher RPG, for example, or with other fantasy RPGs when I want to highlight how dastardly and magical these beings are. I loved this dressing file, and for the low asking price? Heck yeah, no-brainer! 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Lair #34: Green Hag's Swamp
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Thank you for this review, End. I'm delighted you found the book so cool!
Monstrous Lair #32: Sea Hag's Grotto
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/02/2019 12:32:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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 approach to a sea hag’s lair can feature treacherous undercurrents, ensnaring seaweed, shells of monstrous crabs housing aggressive fish and the like – this time, we thus emphasize the nature aspect a bit more, though sigils and anchors embedded in cavern walls also hint at the magical aspect. It’s a good table, if perhaps not as strong as the one for green hags. As for what’s going on, here, the pdf shines once more in some entries: Sea hags slouching on thrones of rotten wood and bone, while tended to by blind servants? Yeah, makes sense. In contrast, sifting through tribute is a theme that’s featured twice, and both entries aren’t particularly compelling, particularly when contrasted against the other entries in the table: When you see a sea hag dancing to a melody of bones and skulls hitting rocks in the current! That’s what I’m talking about! Instant awesome!

The major lair features are appropriately grisly: We e.g. have rotting corpses floating on the surfaces, drifting via hot air, as though in a huge, disgusting soup. Prisoners in air pockets are a solid, if not brilliant complication, and thrones from figureheads, altars of spiked corals and similar foci are also neat. The current carrying drowned cat? That’s neither a major lair feature, nor interesting – just sad. Minor lair features include once more hot air, only this time manifesting as poisonous fumes, hundreds of rotting hands and arms nailed to the walls – yeah, this is neat dressing.

The appearance table is interesting: Rotten and bloated, the hag might disguise herself as a bloated carcass, and what about a cloak of graving octopus/squid skins, blends of sickly bruises, floating, bloated skin – some gems here. I wasn’t as blown away from e.g. a dress of shredded skin, but that may be me. The treasure table includes a siren’s shawl, a dagger that enhances your speed underwater, cauldrons that mumble profane chants and pearl-embossed kraken-skin armor – I liked this table. The miscellanea includes primarily flotsam of various degrees and damage.

Conclusion: 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.

I probably shouldn’t have read this back to back with the Green hag installment – Steve Hood delivers a good, inexpensive hag dressing file here, but it is evident that he had less ideas for the sea hag than for the green variety, which was stunning to me, as, mechanically, sea hags do offer more angles. Don’t get me wrong – each table herein has a couple of good ideas, but there are also a couple of instances here where the dressing felt less exciting, particularly in contrast with the superb Green Hag-installment. As such, my final verdict will be 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Lair #32: Sea Hag's Grotto
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Thank you for this review, End. I'm sorry this book didn't knock it out of the park for you.
Monstrous Lair #35: Ghost-Haunted House
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/28/2019 06:11:54

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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 time-honored haunted house…what hints at its presence? The “Outside the Lair”-table sports the classic thick bushes and sickly trees, a zone bereft of vegetation surrounding it, chill hanging in the air, oddly muted sounds, shadows hovering and the like – I was positively surprised by this table. While it deals with classic entries, it does cover a breadth of interesting components. As for what’s currently happening, we have the classic cawing crow flying away, clouds obscuring the sun, shutters banging in the wind, hints of movement within – in contrast to many of the installments in the series, this table provides further dressing for the house, and not for the ghost itself….which is valid here, as one could construe the creature featured within to be the house itself.

Major lair features include rotten floorboards (shouldn’t that be “rotted”?), weakened supports, minor poltergeist activity, doors swollen shut and the like; while the phenomena per se are not mind.-boggling, they all have meaningful potential impact on the game, which is what I expect from this table. The minor features table sports creaking floorboards, doors nailed shut, and periodic sensations of something breathing down your neck. The ghost appearance table contains swirling dust interrupting leaves, scraps of paper, etc. There is a ghost of a child, dragging its severed head along, ghostly women wearing smoldering clothes…or what about a ghost with hands bound behind. Solid array. The treasure table includes gold lockets nailed to doors, strange leather books, beautiful silken gloves, remains of a sewing kit, including a silver thimble…interesting. The miscellanea-table that sports trash includes bent spoons, drief blood next to a hammer and stake (wouldn’t that be more suitable for vampires?) and remains of silver shavings from hurled holy water.

Conclusion: 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.

This is one of the best dressing files I’ve read by Robert Manson – the author focuses more on the specific in this installment, and while the dressing file is not necessarily a must-own offering, it does provide a solid amount of atmosphere that you can use to supplement e.g. the haunted houses you can generate with Zzarchov Kowolski’s superb “The Price of Evil.” While the ghost-angle was slightly more subdued than I’d have liked, I do consider this to be a nice little dressing file. All in all, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Lair #35: Ghost-Haunted House
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Monstrous Lair #42: Derro Outpost
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/26/2019 09:16:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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.

All right, this time around, we’ll take a look at an outpost of the loathsome, insane derro, and considering their madness, it should come as no surprise that their presence is hinted at by cave paintings, hollows dug into stalagmite tops containing weird offerings, stacked bones and the like – these do hint properly at the presence of the insane dwarves; there’s a method to the madness that might be misinterpreted as the presence of savage beings. Like it! As for what’s going on, we have obsessive ordering of stones, derro hopping around while listening to insanely babbling sorcerers, insane dwarves hurling spears at a wall before running and similarly puzzling happenstances – I’m happy to report that these all feel very derro-esque and unique.

The same holds true for the major lair features, which include fungal sticks with hooks, stone bowls polished to mirror sheen containing insects and similarly puzzling things…including a corpse-dump, just to drive home that these dwarves are not the harmless kind of insane. Minor lair features also emphasize this, with stacks of skulls held together by orange paste, stinking mashes of fungus and feces in low dips and similar indicators that these dwarves are not well. What about footprints painted on a tunnel wall? Yeah, cool!

With huge, bushy moustaches and shocks of white hair, derro may be both comical and terrifying; they might be wearing weird armor woven of leather and fungus, and e.g. having meaningless gibberish tattooed all over? Yep, can see that. The appearance-table does not disappoint. The treasures found include strange holy symbols, flensing knives, shotgun-style repeating crossbows and unstable wands. Did I mention the shrunken heads with their madness-inducing fumes? The miscellanea table includes anti-slug salt laced with quartz (probably not wise to use it for seasoning), grub-cheese, picture books of imaginary creatures and the like – I like these.

Conclusion: 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.

We have a return to form here for Steve Hood. After obviously struggling slightly with the previous two outposts, he manages to once more deliver a truly exciting little dressing file here, one that is chock-full with evocative and novel dressing that oozes with the derro’s delightful and twisted insanity. 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Lair #42: Derro Outpost
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Epic! Thanks for this review, End. I'm glad this Monstrous Lair worked for you!
Monstrous Lair #41: Duergar Outpost
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/26/2019 09:14:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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.

Okay, so, the outside of the lair features improved defensive positions on alternating sides of the corridor, accounting for the duergar’s low speed; hidden deadfalls, crossbow emplacements, guard posts with a large steel gong – this is generally a table with a couple of cool entries, though once more, we have slaves stumbling along booted tracks, and there is a bit of a strong focus on poisons, which struck me as slightly odd. As for what’s going on, we have duergar chasing wounded dwarves, we have duergar branding slaves, consulting elf-skin maps, etc. The table also includes duergar forcing slaves to pile rocks, and examples for their cruel and unrelenting obsession with duty – I liked these former entries; forcing two elven slaves to fight to the death? Less unique.

Among the major lair features, we can find mutilated dwarf corpses, braziers emitting light and smoke, stone statues lording with evil smiles over crushed adversaries, stalactites poised to collapse – several interesting ones, though there are two brazier entries, the second of which is cooler and renders the first pretty obsolete. Minor lair features include heavy stone blocks crashing down, hollow pebbles that break loudly, catapults firing oozes at intruders – oddly, these minor lair features are much cooler than the major ones – and more mechanically significant. Though a dead elf hanging from the wall? Not that interesting.

The different duergar appearances include bushy eyebrows poking forth from helmets, duergar growing to wield huge towershields with halflings strapped to the front, individuals with spike-hand prosthetics or priests wielding red-hot, fiery chains. I can get behind this table – it’s varied and interesting. The treasure section includes light-absorbing amulets, barbed whips made from roper tendrils and doppelgänger face-masks – grisly, and yet distinct from the decadence that was on display in the drow-entry. Nice! The miscellanea this time around includes empty vials of spider venom (kinda lame, duergar are not exactly the race that is known for their spider-theme), edible puffballs, spore-stained copper rings. The best entries here deal with well-crafted items that have subtle traps/caveats included – these are great, and I wished the whole table consisted of the like.

Conclusion: 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.

Duergar are harder to set apart than e.g. drow, but for the most part, Steve Hood’s pdf does a solid job; while not all tables are winners, each has a couple of entries that I considered to be genuinely interesting. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Lair #41: Duergar Outpost
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Epic! Thanks for this review, End. I'm sorry this Monstrous Lair didn't worked for you 100%
Monstrous Lair #40: Drow Outpost
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/26/2019 09:13:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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 sysem, 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!

Conclusion: 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.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Lair #40: Drow Outpost
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Epic! Thanks for this review, End. I'm sorry this Monstrous Lair didn't worked for you 100%
Monstrous Lair #33:Dryad's Glade
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/25/2019 05:35:47

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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.

As always, we begin with things outside of the lair itself, and we’re off to a promising start that already points at peak fey whimsy/weirdness: Tree trunks inexplicably sprouting fresh water, filling lily ponds? Heck yeah, sound like dryad-weird to me. Buzzards swooping down next to a rabbit to preen their feathers instead of eating the lagomorphs? Yep. This table does a great job hinting at the presence of fey or old magic. As for what’s going on, we have burly, charmed folks politely asking the party to leave, dryads languishing naked in bubbling water (natural spa, baby!)…or what about dryads singing wood into shape? Love that. In contrast to singing wood into shape, “sculpting a wooden bowl” feels bland and somewhat redundant.

Major lair features include soporific pollen that enhance the dryad’s sleep enchantments, protective animals, slumbering goblins, roof-like canopies, etc. – potentially all combat-relevant, how I like them to be. Minor lair features include roots that can attempt to tangle intruders; branches that could whip assailants; carnivorous plants and the like. Much to my pleasant surprise, these are pretty diverse and also potentially combat relevant – more than just dressing.

The dryad’s appearance is interesting, accounting for non-traditional beauty standards – thick-limbed and sturdy dryads, Grey/black/white “goth” dryads protecting silver birches, thorny skin, maple dryads with seasonally-changing skin – some seriously cool angles here. Positively surprised here, particularly in how the dressing always maintains the tree connection. I also now want a goth dryad grove. Anyhow, as far as treasures are concerned, we can find holy symbols, lovingly shaped by the dryad for her champions, spears regrowing when thrown, curative berries, glass-encased playing cards embedded in trees and disks of fungus-shuriken? Heck yeah! Read that again: Disks of essentially fungus-shuriken. Awesome. The table that contains trash? Goblin skull plant pots. Wispy dresses of spider silk hanging from branches. A brazier that doubles as a hat. Awesome.

Conclusion: 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.

Even among Steve Hood’s illustrious array of excellent dressing files, this one stands out. It is creative, novel, whimsical, always with the underlying current of femininity and danger – in short, it is pretty much a prime example of how good a small dressing file like this can be 5 stars + seal of approval, easily given.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Lair #33:Dryad's Glade
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Thank you very much for the review, End. I much appreciate it!
Monstrous Lair #31: Wyvern's Nest
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/21/2019 04:11:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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.

Okay, so, wyverns – that ought to be a tough cookie to crack, as they are basically aerial predators that don’t have much in the ways of culture to set them apart from other monsters, so how does the pdf fare? Well, in the vicinity of wyverns’ nests, you can find rotten cow carcasses dangling from trees, discarded bear bodies, mazes of broken bodies and shattered bones, markers with serpentine patterns or huge swarms of flies – essentially, the pdf runs with the vast size of these creatures and capitalizes on their predatory diet, using other animals and sheer quantity as hints of the things to come. Clever! As for what’s going on, we have wyverns attempting to dislodge bones from their maw, to ones that ask corpses stupid questions or ones scratching shedding skin. The wyvern might also be lamenting a shattered egg. This one is solid, if not necessarily genius – but considering what the author had to work with, a solid table – I also like how it takes the prey-themes (bears, cows) from the previous table and develops them further.

The major features table is gruesome in a cool and savage manner – rotting intestines used as tripwires, vomit laced with rocks, remnants of a Pegasus, drying venom – these feel visceral and brutal – as befitting of the wyvern. Minor lair features include splintered wooden shields, broken tree trunks used as scratching posts, rudimentary pits and bodies impaled on branches for storage. Once more, leitmotifs maintained. As for the appearance of wyverns, we have different skin/scale tones – but also crowns of tusks and horns, intended to masquerade as a dragon, or broken manacles. These are solid, if not always genius. The treasure table includes blades emiting clou-like shadows, venom-dripping spears, crowns that allow for communication with dragons, and more – this table is once more a winner. Trash includes tattered cloaks, which might seem generic, but the heraldic crest depicts a wyvern – coincidence? It’s a small thing, but such flourishes maintain thematic rapport and distinguish, ultimately, a good or excellent dressing file from a mediocre one. Bent and twisted thief cages, candles with writing scratched in…it’s an interesting little table, if once more not the best herein.

Conclusion: 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.

I fully admit to the fact that I’d have a hard time writing a dressing file, even a short one, for wyverns. They don’t exactly have a huge tradition of D&D-adjacent lore or culture to choose from, and that makes things harder than writing for e.g. a humanoid monster. Particularly if you want to differentiate them from dragons. Surprisingly, Steve Hood manages to make the entire little pdf feel very much distinct and “wyvernish” – savage, brutal, primitive, and yet, suffused with a sort of horror bred by sheer size and sapience. This is quite an achievement, and while not all tables are brilliant here, there is plenty to love, more than I deemed possible. 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Lair #31: Wyvern's Nest
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Epic! Thanks very much for this review, End, and I'm delighted you enjoyed this Monstrous Lair!
Monstrous Lair #43: Wolves' Den
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/21/2019 04:10:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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.

Okay, so this one should be interesting, in that we kinda know wolves from our real world – as such, the dressing table for outside the lair focuses very much on classics that remain plausible: Amonia and musk smell, dead prey, paw prints…but there also are some subdued and fantastic notions, such as a glade containing statues of sleeping wolves. As for what’s going on, we have solitary wolves digging burrows, a pack dragging a bear carcass around, older wolves flanked by pups beneath a monument, wolves fighting each other, etc. I liked the massive wolf atop a stone throne, but as a whole, I wasn’t too blown away here – I think some additional contrasting of the mundane, yet mystically-charged wolf with the very real magic of the fantasy game would have been nice to see here.

As for major lair features, we have entrances carved like massive maws by primitive tribes, a cacophony of sound inside that makes pinpointing targets hard, effigies of demonic statues, rough cave drawings, etc. – these do actually provide a blending of the mundane and fantastic in a meaningful manner. Minor lair features include tattered bone chime remnants, broken-off statue heads, etc.: Here, it becomes apparent that it’s hard to make the lair stand out from that of other creatures, and at this point, we’re at the fourth entry that features some sort of statue. It’s not a bad table, but it’s not as unique as the ones the author usually delivers.

As far as wolf appearances are provided, we have stripes on scarred worg skin, albinos, massive pack leaders, erstwhile pets, etc. If you expect fighting harnesses or similar equipment, mutations or the like, I’ll have to disappoint you, though. Treasures include wolf fang-studded chains, remnants of previous explorers and a plethora of wolf-themed items, which is a smart way to go about this. The table covering trash includes a variety of items of things ruined by wolves, including a red hooded cloak (nice!). An arrow protruding from a tree stump, though? Hmmm, not that interesting; at least have a tuft of fur and flesh there.

Conclusion: 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.

Steve Hood had a hard task with dressing for wolves, and while the supplement is better than it could have been, it is not as creative or diverse in the entries as his usual offerings. Particularly contrasted with some of his peak-awesomeness takes on Monstrous Lairs, or e.g. the similarly hard to write wyvern dressing, the wolves-file doesn’t successfully capitalize on the mythological aspect or the interaction of the fantastic and mundane. It doesn’t do a bad job, mind you, but in contrast, feels like “only” a good little dressing file. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to the low price point.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Lair #43: Wolves' Den
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Creator Reply:
Epic! Thanks very much for this review, End, and I'm sorry this Monstrous Lair did hit the spot for you.
Monstrous Lair #30: Assassins' Hideout
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/20/2019 08:52:32

An Endzietgeist.com review

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.

The table for outside the lair this time around is cool, in that it focuses on where the hideout is hidden…or not. One entry actually has a plain sign! And yep, the handle is coated in poison, the inside littered with traps. You can’t say you weren’t warned. As for what’s going on, we have some seriously neat entries, including an old, deaf lady cooking poisonous stew, men competing at dagger throwing, or assassins burning hearts in ritual bowls or milking poison? Cool

The pdf also features major features for the hideouts, which include curtains that conceal minute poisonous hooks (awesome), containers featuring sea snakes, bookshelves rigged to collapse – some seriously creative material here, and it’s encounter-relevant. Like it! Minor lair features include patterns of odd glyphs on the floor, poisonous fungi patches, blood-soaked clothes soaking, thousands of beetles in the process of stripping flesh from a corpse, etc.

The assassin’s appearance table runs the gamut from smiling noblemen to feather-cloak wearers with poison-taloned hawks…as well as twitching, giggling madmen. The treasures include books bound in human skin that explain poisons. What about arrows that turn into venomous snakes on impact, or ceramic blades that snap off in the target, miraculously regrowing each day? Loving these! The miscellanea includes bracelets with tally marks, poorly made sketches on victim skins, improvised garrotes and the like…cool.

Conclusion: 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.

Steve Hood has seriously cracked the code of making awesome Monstrous Lair dressings; particularly considering that there have been other entries in the series dealing with bandits etc., I was super-impressed by how creative some of these entries are, by how distinct they are, and by how they retain the connection to the assassin-theme. For the low asking price, super worthwhile and recommended! 5 stars + seal of approval!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Lair #30: Assassins' Hideout
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Creator Reply:
Epic! Thanks very much for this review, End, and I'm delighted you enjoyed this Monstrous Lair!
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