Sunday, 7 August 2011

review: midgard bestiary volume 1 by open design

Metric: Beasts.  This being a bestiary, this seems fairly obvious. 
DISCLAIMER: This review is based on a PDF review copy from Open Design.
Overall: 5 beasts (nicely done, hopefully the first of many...)
A grim grimoire of Midgard monsters.  Open Design fans will see plenty of familiar faces adapted to AGE spread across the settings.  The mechanics provide challenges for characters at varied levels and in varied environments. Entries range from sellswords to young dragons.  AGE game masters are going to find these new monsters welcome additions to their arsenal.

Contents: 5 beasts (a balanced mix of monsters)
This being Midgard, theres's plenty of automata action and the undead are well-represented.  Amazingly more goblins than kobolds as well!  A mixture of terrains gives a GM additional options and monsters for each level which bridges AGE Sets 1 and 2.  From the tempestuous ala to the relentless zobeck legionnaire, there's no shortage of flavour .  Adaptations of familiar monsters (like the kobold slyblade) stand alongside original works  into AGE stats provide a GM with a baseline to work from for other manuals or compendia they own.  This is a surprisingly versatile collection of monsters.

Artwork/Layout: 5 beasts (simple, uncluttered, decorative)
The cover is a wonderful piece by Aaron Miller.  Interior pieces by various artists showcase the monsters. Statblocks are intuitive and where needed, additional options for weapons are set out for use by players or GM.  Each monster fits onto a page which makes for quick use and layout is uncluttered.  A mix of colour and monochrome art avoids the blandness of pure monochrome.  More interior colour would have made this book perfect and in keeping with Green Ronin's own presentation.  The art is very good and some pieces really evoke the danger of some of these monsters or provide a suitable whimsy for certain entries.

In conclusion, this is an excellent source of monsters for an AGE games master.  The price is good and this offers a flavour of how AGE will be supported in Midgard.  It's encouraging to see this is the first volume, it looks like there will be more coming along.

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