Monday, March 27, 2023

Review: Trilemma Adventures Compendium Bestiary

I followed Michael Prescott's blog during the G+ days (Note to self - restore blog onto reader feed). The guy has the one- to two-page adventure down to an art, with compact perspective maps, terse but flavorful descriptions and enough theme variety and weirdness to make them more than a bog-standard crawl (I mean, you have stuff like I write for that...). So when Michael Kickstarted a compendium of 48 of his blog/Patreon adventures, with expanded descriptions and supplemental material, I threw in my support. The product won multiple Ennies in 2020. I realize the book has been waiting quietly on my shelf, and I need to do another read-through to find some seeds and locales to borrow. I highly recommend it as a resource for drop-in locations and one-shots, as it is an overlooked gem and does not get mentioned enough when folks ask for one-shot materials. The compendium is available on DriveThru for those interested in perusing further. 

With the Kickstarter, I apparently received the companion bestiary as a pdf, which compiles all of the custom beasties and foes included in Michael's adventures. I had forgotten about this collection until I was recently procrastinating, err... reorganizing files... Scrolling through the pdf, I realized needed to order a print copy to pore through more closely, since dead-tree reading materials work best for me. 

Book in action. Note post-it bookmarks for future hijinks.

The book was immediately filled with bookmarks and notes made for both set-piece monsters and wandering encounters. Last week, my group made the acquaintance of a Chitin Drake while rescuing a wayward acolyte, defeating the creature after one PC was paralyzed, and a second char-broiled.

The book (B/X version) clocks in at around 150 pages, and contains 112 creatures to encounter. The range of foes is of the usual types, including beast, humanoid, undead, mechanical, and infernal (I think the only major category missing is the ooze/slime). Creature HD ranges from <1 to 20 (If you want to interact with a god-tortoise trundling along with a hive of giant wasps living in its shell).

Emperor Tortoise with tenants

Each creature is written up with a brief, evocative description. Most are presented on a single or double-page spread. Since the monsters were created to augment Michael's adventures and world, the descriptions reference events or groups specific to the adventure lore. However, feel free to discard or treat these as flavor text, as any monster may be easily ported into your own game. Monsters are a combination of re-skinning of familiar monsters to fit Michael's adventure setting (ex. wyvern, vampire, wraith), or new creations built from scratch.

Of course there are spiders (Sylph Spider)

Each is also accompanied by its own artwork, created by Michael, Juan Ochoa, Russ Nicolson, Peter Mullen, and others. I mentioned elsewhere of the book having a Fiend Folio vibe - probably a subconscious influence from Mr. Nicholson's few illustrations sprinkled through the book.

Cave Stitcher, by the inestimable Russ Nicholson

As all good bestiaries, each critter comes with its own qualities and abilities. There is a solid selection of things to talk to, things to fight, and things to run screaming from... 

The Dire Flea, for when rot grubs become passé

As I mentioned, I've read the book through, and have a fair number of the provided critters in mind as options in future writings and/or game sessions. The Chitin Drake has already appeared, and has even provided a ready-made hook for future investigations. 

I highly recommend this bestiary to add some variety and flavor to your game. It is a high quality production, with consistent content, and will be well suited to shake up things for players used to the familiar rogue's gallery of opponents. 

The alien Nuss Harbinger

The Trilemma Adventures Compendium Bestiary is available in versions statted up for B/X, 5E, Dungeon World and Year Zero.

No comments:

Post a Comment