Friday, 9 September 2011

review: rpg creatures bestiary 1 by cloister publications

Metric: Claws. 
DISCLAIMER: Review based on a PDF copy provided by Nicholas Cloister of RPG Creatures and Cloister Publications
Overall: 5 claws (exquisite art and innovatively weird creatures)
Fifty unique creations will surprise your players, a combination of high-concept (undead feathered dinosaurs, drug-making pet lizards) and variants on classics (goblin crow-shamans, ice demons).  The artwork is truly exceptional in quality and quantity.  The pieces remind me of concept art for Guillermo del Toro.  If every bestiary looked this good, games would draw a wider audience.

Contents: 5 claws (fully-realised creatures with adventure hooks)
There are fifty creatures in this bestiary.  Each is notably different and has flavour to spare  Statblocks suggest a system usable with Basic Role Playing or GURPS.  Converting to D&D or varied retroclones is easy enough without invoking licensing issues.  The naming of these beasts implies an exotic setting with the influence of otherworldly forces.  Some monsters straddle existence (undead as well as living and immortal) as well as environment.  It would be easy to imagine these creatures in high fantasy or sword and planet games.  Those wanting low fantasy or dark fantasy also catered for.

Art & Layout: 5 claws (lots of eerily beautiful art, solid layout).
A full-page colour plate for every monster!  Each and every picture in the bestiary would make an excellent cover piece.  The contents page has hyperlinked pictures to take you to individual entries, a very nice touch.  The standard is consistently brilliant.  The text uses a sensible mix of shading and typeface to provide clarity.  Descriptions are evocative, perhaps not native English, excellent in lyricism, detail and mechanical exposition. Others could learn from this.

In conclusion, this is a great start to what I hope will be a beautiful series.  If you want something a bit different, you will do worse by going elsewhere.  I'd heartily recommend the RPG Creatures blog so you get an idea of the standard of this book.  More please! 

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