Around October 2007, the Creative Conclave released something rather special to the world. For just a week or so, the Lazy GM Halloween Special was available for free download, and I’d guess from the lack of follow-up to that thread, 90% of all gamers missed it.
I’m hoping they make it available from their site for all to download, all the time, because it’s pure brilliance! Consider this a belated review and something of an apology for not raving about it when it was released. Sorry, guys.
Ordinarily, the Lazy GM product line does what it says on the tin by providing full stat blocks for one monster with lots of different class levels and templates applied. For example, the taster for the flagship Goblinoids pdf alone provides full stats for a standard Goblin Warrior, Sergeant, 2 Lieutenants and 2 Leaders – and that’s just on one page! OK, so they’re just your standard Goblin with 1,3,4,5,6 and 7 Warrior levels applied respectively, but that’s a fair chunk of GM prep work all done and dusted on this page alone. It’s pure gold. The taster also gives stats for several levels of Hobgoblin Archer and two Hobgoblin Vampires (on a Fighter-5, the other a Fighter-10). Even if you’re not interested in forking over cold hard cash, the taster is a worthy free download if you use Goblins in your game (and who doesn’t?!), and the full product (and it’s siblings) are even better.
But I’m not talking about them. Oh no.
The Lazy GM Halloween Special took a different, more orthodox tack by providing stats for ten different pre-generated foes. As they admit, it’s more in line with a standard monster book than their usual line, though that certainly doesn’t deviate from it’s usefulness.
All of the monsters have a common theme in that all of the monsters are non-terrifying. By that, I mean these critters are most definitely not designed for combat. At best, they might be a challenge for a lone 1st level character or a threat to your familiars, but that certainly doesn’t mean they’re pointless. These are monsters (using the word loosely) that would make for a great mini-scenario fodder. Crack open a page on this book and you’ve got the perfect foil for a single session adventure. In essence, the Halloween Special offered 10 mini-adventures complete with re-usable foes, especially if your players aren’t of the “kill-it-all” variety. Great stuff.
What’s most impressive about the monsters (I’ll be getting on to them Real Soon, promise!) is that, as with other Lazy GM products, they’re all built using only the SRD (plus one template for one particularly cute monster). It’s a testament to D&D that it’s possible to get such variety and downright strangeness with the tools we’ve been provided.
Anyhow. On the the monsters themselves.
We have ten on them in total, and they are:
- The Dread Beast of Worminghall, a CR2 Fiendish Ghost dog who would be perfect for a Hound of the Baskervilles mini-game
- Ectoplasmic Cube, a CR 5 Ghost gelatinous cube. I’ve used one of these before, and they make great dungeon fodder
- Gabrield the Were-Toad, a CR 1 Lycanthropic human Expert. He’d be a good NPC or foil for a Deep Ones inspired session
- The Harmless Template featuring my favourite critter, the Harmless Tyrannosaur, an 18HD purple and green monstrosity which gambols among children. Very carefully, I suspect
- Half-Dragon Donkey, CR 3 versions of the critters from Shrek 2 & 3. Just add a Harmless Ogre and Awakened Donkey, and you’re there. I love ‘em. They could be very, very annoying if they take a liking to your adventuring party.
- Mugwump, CR2 Half-Fiend monkeys. Tiny, winged and straight from the Arabian Nights. They’d make a great familiar and spy for an Evil Sorcerer.
- Owl/Bear a CR 2 shapechanger which is a Bear by day and an Owl at night. This is such a terrific, obvious take on the classic Owlbear I’m amazed no one has thought of it before.
- Small Purple Worm, a CR 6 version of the Purple Worm, only smaller. Well, duh. They’d make a good precursor to the real thing, or be passable foes in a small dungeon crawl.
- Black Fly Swarm, a CR1/8 swarm which does no damage but is very distracting. Good swamp dressing.
- The Devil Cat of Twistleharbour, a CR 3 Vampire Cat. Yes, Cat. The backstory alone is worth the price of entry. This is a great low-level foe for an urban adventure where the players think they’re hunting an ordinary Vampire. Expect a climactic battle with lots and lots of cats!
There you have it. 10 great, re-usable foes all in one non-combat orientated package.
Creative Conclave, please make it a free download, all the time, for all. Please?
Take a look at their other products too. They’re great!