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CC1 Creature Compendium Pay What You Want
Average Rating:4.7 / 5
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CC1 Creature Compendium
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CC1 Creature Compendium
Publisher: New Big Dragon Games Unlimited
by Barry S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/05/2019 10:42:07

I threw ya a $20 because, well, people that makes such amazing online content such as this product deserve to be paid for it fairly. Any other print title with as many cretaures in it as CC1 has would be over $20. I enjoy purchasing monster tomes and this one certainly qualified. Well done! A+



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CC1 Creature Compendium
Publisher: New Big Dragon Games Unlimited
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/01/2019 15:13:23

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book clocks in at 94 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page Foreward (which is a typo or a pun – I opt for the latter), 1 page alphabetic ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 88 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Why am I reviewing this? Well, Gavin Norman’s B/X Essentials-line up of new and refined takes on the classic and much beloved B/X-rules made me look for monsters, and this is one of the books I found. As noted in the “foreward”, the mission of this book, and I quote, is “The memories of that original tome inspire this one—a book that is just as fun to peruse as use, a book that strives to challenge and surprise, and a book that attempts to rekindle that “first time” gaming table joy.”

This is, in essence, a blurb that is as generic as it can be; I’ve found variations of exactly this sentiment in a plethora of books – to the point where I skimmed past it, not thinking much more about it. But we shall come back to this sentiment, as it informs the whole of the design paradigm that went into this.

First things first: This supplement, as far as rules are concerned, is a dual-stat book: We get 0e/1e stats for the monsters within, as well as B/X stats – this means HD-ratings and descending AC are standards, fyi.

However, there is something to note that differentiates this supplement from comparable offerings. That would be the fact that it is very much cognizant of an issue in OSR gaming. While the different OSR-rulesets like Labyrinth Lord (LL), OSRIC and Swords & Wizardry (S&W), to name a few of the big ones, are all transparent regarding the structure of their rules at first glance, detailed scrutiny offers some serious differences, and I don’t mean e.g. the wholly different focus of e.g. LotFP (Lamentations of the Flame Princess). In the latter game, Strength modifiers are not added to damage. More commonly known examples include saving throw differences, presence or absence of roll-under checks, ascending and descending AC. Ultimately, when you try to run things by the book, you’ll be surprised at the intricacies and differences of these systems. Just take a look at B/X’s cure spells, to note one example. Level caps, race classes – the list goes on. And yet, there is a celebration of hacking the games, which, while a good thing for the community and for the selection available for the games, also can give rise to frankly sloppy design.

This is most commonly encountered when games like LotFP that have no reliable means of magic nuking hordes of enemies are faced with high-level wizards…or when said games myriad of “I wreck the world”-options are faced with a high density of magic-users. The transparency only goes so far, and requires, more often than not, some deliberation on part of the referee/GM. It does make a difference if you require a specific spell to get rid of things like paralysis, or if that’s another function of a given, commonly used spell. Power-levels also fluctuate between systems…but I digress.

As far as monsters are concerned, an annoying stumbling stone for referees that run monsters and the game by the book, is certainly Treasure Types. Well, guess what? We get an appendix with treasure types by edition, providing rules for 0e, 1e, HB, and B/X. Moreover, we do get an index of customized experience point award for 0e, S&W, B/X/BECMI, LL and OSRIC! For all critters! That is really epic, a ton of work, and it makes the book immediately more compelling and easier to use. So, that’s the formal component here.

Beyond this component, this book contains no less than 200 critters. Yep, that many. Taking a look at the page-count, this makes a couple of things immediately clear: there will be multiple monsters per page, and these monsters won’t have detailed notes on ecology and society/habitat; instead, we’ll get a rough average of two paragraphs of text that will feature, rules language and flavor information, with the ratio of these components depending on the critter in question.

For example, the write-up of the Heikegani, one of my favorite monsters within, devotes two of the three paragraphs devoted to it, dealing with their unique rules – they can see most invisible creatures, have two attack routine (stabby legs and pincers), and are gifted with premonitions. If you have a decent grasp of Japanese, you’ll know that heikegani, or 平家蟹, are a species of crab in Japan that bears a pattern reminiscent of a human face- this has been taken by the pdf and extrapolated into a fantastic context: In the game, they are giant crabs, inhabited by the spirits of warrior that died a dishonorable death. This is a piece of real world lore that is slightly odd, and one-ups it for the context of the game, which is a surprisingly effective example of how inspiring tidbits can inform design without necessarily requiring the paraphrasing of established mythology.

Another example for this pattern would be the Kala, which I assume to be inspired by the Sanskrit term that doubles as “dark” and “fate/death”, also being used as a Yama-reference. These beings of pure disease and decay. They target creatures with higher life expectancy, and they have poison, a coma-inducing paralytic effect, a rotting disease, AND hits, even if your HD fortify you against most of these, still leave festering boils! These are so virulent, so neat an impersonation of decay, they made me smile. They are genuinely creepy. Not all of the critters are as mechanically interesting as these fellows, though – there is, for example a blood-drinking undead somewhere between a vampire and a ghoul, that latches on a target on a 19 or 20, draining blood. Okay, mayhaps using threat range can be considered to be brave in classic contexts, but considering that this is a base component of the rules-chassis of more than one game, these left me somewhat unimpressed. There is a Jersey devil-ish draconic horse, and speaking of Americana, there is also an iteration of the mothman within these pages.

While there are a few instances of monsters based on slightly more obscure components of mythology, like the forest-dwelling Leshii, these tend to be weaker than the interesting monsters within. The take on the redcap is also exceedingly lame, and while I’m at the topic: There are a couple of *insert element name”-walkers – basically lame, humanoid elemental dudes that kinda walk around and sometimes perhaps help adventurers. These have no real identity and are the textbook definition of filler.

Now, an issue in pre-template games is that there are plenty of filler monsters in older games, and frankly, many of them, though by now part of the canon of gaming and thus beloved by virtue of nostalgia, aren’t particularly exciting with the nostalgia goggles taken off. While this book does contain a couple of critters that I’d consider to be palette-swaps/templates by another name, these are few. Some offenders would be stone giants that can phase through walls – which is, however, more interesting than regular stone giants at least. As an aside: Say what you want and grognard-rage about Paizo all you want, but their take on Easter Island-ish looking stone giants and their ties to the ancient Thassilonian empire actually, for the first time, provided a proper cultural identity for these…but I digress. On the positive side of things that would be templates in more complex rule-sets, would be e.g. the Kam Warrior, and here, I really enjoy what this provides: The creature is basically a supernatural warrior that splits, ooze-style, into two upon being slain, with both split creatures having half HD – until you reduce them to 1 HD. This only works relatively smoothly here because of the structure of old-school games basing the attack capabilities on HD, and would be a vastly more complex operation in more rules-heavy systems, but it works here, and I really enjoy this. “Templated” creatures that are less compelling, would for example be canine flesh golems, which really made me think that just establishing some templates for B/X and the like would have made sense. It’s not like that framework would be mathematically hard to design. If the multi-armed gorillas known as girallons (themselves inspired by Appendix N classics) always struck a chord with you, you’ll be happy to note that they do get an iteration herein, including a valid take on the rending mechanics that set them apart in more complex systems. On the less interesting side: There is a forest version of the yeti, the hibagon. No, it’s not interesting in any way.

There are some creatures that live by virtue of the flavor more than by virtue of the generally exceedingly precise rules language – the jelly death, for example: These would be roughly humanoid, paralytic oozes that flow over their victims to absorb them…but they are jealous and attack other jelly deaths for their food! So, if a thief scouting ahead was paralyzed, there actually is a chance, without being merciful/fudging dice, that PCs saving the thief may be warranted! This is a small tidbit, a brief behavioral peculiarity, but it’s one I immensely enjoyed.

On the downside, there are a couple of pretty lame ones: Half human/lower half horse-ish dude with two legs? Okay, not excited. Glowing, drifting things that can detonate? There was this spore cloud thing, right? Now, I don’t object to one-note or “useless” monsters – there is, for example, a statblock for flying skulls herein. Which are exactly what you’d picture them to be….so if you’re planning on using Goodman Games’ “The Emerald Enchanter” with OSR-rules, this will be useful to you. Conceptually less interesting, but mechanically distinct would e.g. be the possessors – beings from the negative energy plane, who move into targets and take them over – and yes, their rules properly frame the pretty complex interactions and ramifications of this. On the conceptual side of things, there is a critter herein that will make many a fan smile: There is a being herin that is basically a squig by another name. Love that!

On the somewhat lame side, we get skinwalkers, a couple of skeleton variants (templated monsters, basically), and stats for a giant two-headed snake. See what I mean with “OSR games would benefit from a template engine for monsters?” – a couple of these frankly don’t necessarily warrant their own statblocks. There are some, that may not seem like it, but that definitely do. White elephants, for example: These beings are magical, you know, and as such, they do grant benefits to their owners if cared for properly – but ONLY when not directly asked for it! And after generations of care, when they die, they may actually grant a wish upon dying…if they’re not asked directly, of course! This has “amazing questline/intrigue” written all over it and really inspired me.

But let me return to one of my initial points, namely that this attempts to recreate the themes of the original monsters, and it brings me to a slight tangent: I have been championing, for quite a bunch of years, a return to the practice of providing actual context for critters. One of the strengths of the 3pp circuit for both PFRPG and 5e would be that, in contrast to official supplements, we now often get some notes on how a critter interacts with its environments…you know, context. This was one part of the reasons I more fondly remember the bestiaries of old. Don’t get me wrong – I disliked filler critters back then as much as I do now, and if I had a dime for every lame “it’s an incorporeal undead that smothers/chokes and/or possesses you” old-school critter in my bestiaries and manuals, I’d have a bunch of money. It’s good that advances in design got mostly rid of these and used rules complexity to further differentiate critters. And this pdf (as well as many more current OSR-offerings) does a good job at providing mechanically distinct effects within a more rules lite framework. However, I have to make a statement here that may prove to be controversial: The advances in design also made us lose one aspect that made these old-school bestiaries so charming in the first place, and this also can be seen in many newer old-school bestiaries. We expect more, cooler, distinct stuff. And we have lost a whole creature type that has, paradoxically, done A LOT to establish the identity of D&D-based games.

I am talking about the misfit monsters. Think about it. The flumph. The owlbear. The wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing. These critters are rites of passage. And they have been made “cool” in some contemporary books. When that’s not necessarily the point. They are, in a way, somewhat goofy, but plausible. This book’s main point of differentiation for me, would be that it can be taken as a love letter to the lost art of making a misfit monster, but with the caveat that the monsters still benefit from the more mechanically advanced expectations we nowadays have, even in the context of our old-school games. Take the skunkbear, who is pretty much self-explanatory in what it does. It’s goofy, but oddly plausible when thinking about the fact that armadillos, platypodes and potoos exist IRL. Add magic and these oddballs make sense. All the design paradigms and smart decisions noted before are employed for these as well.

There is, for example, an otter/dog-ish mammal that has a taste for human flesh. Why? Because. It’s a weird critter; it’s not magical, it’s not mechanically exceptional, but it managed to inspire me. There are magical creatures with a lion’s body and the head of an elephant…and there is a snake that ends in a hand…and that loves stealing stuff! This is WEIRD, not in the way of weird fiction, but in that pre-corporate ID-runs-rampant sense; these critters don’t feel calculated, and when you read about the vulture/bat hybrid, you’ll smile. I know I did. Also: Giant woodpecker. Cactus cat. These sound odd; these should, by all accounts, end with me rambling about how ludicrous they are, how this isn’t design-wise too interesting…but they work. Perhaps it’s the pretty impressive rules-precision of the special tricks; perhaps it’s because the hybrids and misfits are not simply concepts that have been jammed together willy-nilly. There is deliberation here, and an honest love of this odd magical ecology of outrageous things that set our pen and paper games apart from corporate videogame worlds that feature the standard orc/goblin/ogre/dragon-etc. cadre. Did I mention the bugs that, mind-flayer style, want to eat your brain? In short – in spire of my aforementioned criticism of some component critters herein, this book made me smile, time and again.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top-notch on a formal and rules-language level, which is rather impressive for a book of this size. It’s also nice to see proper precision in more complex abilities – writing for old-school games is no excuse for sloppy rules, and this pdf represents one of the examples that precision can really elevate a book. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard, and much to my surprise and shock, every creature herein gets its own artwork. The author Richard J. LeBlanc Jr. has actually also drawn all the b/w-artwork, and frankly, while not all artworks are winners, I can list a ton of offerings and b/w-artworks that look much worse. There are some gems in the artwork here, and while style varies, it’s impressive to note. Less impressive and a huge comfort detriment: the pdf has no bookmarks, which is a huge no-go at this length. Navigation of the pdf is a chore, and I strongly suggest printing this or getting print. I can’t comment on the print version as per the writing of this review, as I don’t have that version available to me.

That being said, there is a factor that does feature herein, and it’s one I usually don’t highlight: The price-point. This massive bestiary, all original artwork, more than 200 new critters…costs a grand total of $3.00. Or at least it did when I got this – right now, this massive tome is available for PWYW!! And you a) really should check this out and b) seriously reward the author for all the love and heart’s blood that obviously went into the creation of this book.

To contextualize the original and already ridiculous original price: You can’t even get a cup a joe for 3 bucks around here. This is insane, and further testament of what this pdf pretty much oozes: Passion. At this point, I have read and reviewed so many roleplaying game supplements, that I have become pretty good at noticing when someone phones in designs. And this, even in the instances where a monster is conceptually or rules-wise not that cool, does have these small flourishes, these tidbits that show that someone cared. The jealousy of the jelly deaths, the giant cat-dragon-thing…and then there would be the amazing magical animals, like birds that only can be seen by some particularly smart folks, like a burrowing mantis shrimpy-cricket thing…and did I mention the yak-men? Well, now I did.

There is charm herein; there is passion – and there is genuine love for a design paradigm, for a slightly tongue-in-cheek innocence I creature design, that I had feared to be lost to the refinements of the market. This book is a charming offering that made me smile with critters I ought to hate or consider to be lame – and instead ended up loving. Believe me – when I first flicked through this, I furrowed my brown at the creature concepts, and it took reading and analyzing this, in spite of my first knee-jerk reaction, to start loving what’s inside. So if my tangents and rambling just made you think “Those sound lame, skipping this” – please reconsider. Have a heart for critters that don’t give a damn for the rule of cool, that don’t try to be cool, or creepy, or gonzo, or over the top. That are just plain, old-school fantastic strangeness and wonder. They are definitely worth checking out. While the lack of bookmarks and the very few monsters that missed the mark herein do prevent me from rating this as highly as some critters would deserve, the superb bang-for-buck ratio does offset some of this book’s minor shortcomings. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CC1 Creature Compendium
Publisher: New Big Dragon Games Unlimited
by Michael B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/30/2018 17:24:32

I was only going to get two monster manuals, I would get this one for inspiration and B/X Essentials: Monsters for reference (when certain modules mention a monster but don't provide information about the monster.)

Veins of the Earth is great, Monstrosities is great. I'm glad I have them. However, I find CC1 essential.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CC1 Creature Compendium
Publisher: New Big Dragon Games Unlimited
by Cold C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/29/2018 18:38:33

Not all the creatures are great, but the good ones are very good. This one should have a price on it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CC1 Creature Compendium
Publisher: New Big Dragon Games Unlimited
by A customer [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/07/2016 17:06:13

Seriously, I can’t say enough good things about this book. Without a doubt this is the best pub I have picked up here on DriveThruRPG. This manual is professional-looking, absolutely functional, and nails the old school flavor. I am running Keep on the Borderlands, and I am stocking the hills and caves with the critters in CC1. PC’s beware!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CC1 Creature Compendium
Publisher: New Big Dragon Games Unlimited
by A customer [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/29/2016 08:49:57

This is a very good product and I definitely feel I got more than my money's worth. It's well laid out with an easy to read font with quality drawings, and as a bonus it includes stats for 0e,1e and BX variations. It has drawings for nearly all of the monsters (so far only found 1 missing), which helps a great deal when quickly scanning all the unfamiliar creatures and you are looking for just the right one.

I do wish publishers would include an index based on HD or challenge rating or similar to help the poor DM quickly find an appropriate monster, but hunting through the book is fun and really not a chore.

As a point of interest, I came back to pay for this because I thought maybe I had "paid what I want" of $0 to preview it first, but found I had bought it and decided to review it instead. Now I want a print copy.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thanks for the review. For those interested in print copies, they're available from Lulu.com: http://www.lulu.com/us/en/shop/product-22133783.html
CC1 Creature Compendium
Publisher: New Big Dragon Games Unlimited
by Eric F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/21/2015 10:02:39

Do you need monsters fast for tonight's game or shall we say something unique to torment your adventurers? Something to slip in between the cracks of your ruin or sci fi base? Well,the Creature Compendium has you covered. There are monster books and then there are those monster catalogs that include stuff you wished you'd thought of as a DM. Well, the Creature Compendium is one of those. And if your thinking that this book can't be used with your AD&D 1st edition or OSRIC games then think again. According to the company's website: Creature Compendium for OD&D, AD&D, and B/X D&D. This 92 page supplement has a host of new creatures to harass your players with. This thing is wall to wall artwork by Richard Leblanc Jr. And its very well done, this is a dual statted book and I know what your thinking, so what big deal? Well it means that you can use any of these critters right out of the gate upon your adventurers. Each monster is "dual" stated for 0e/1e and BX. Sometimes there is no difference. For example an AC of 3 in AD&D is roughly an AC 3 in BX and the monsters will either list 3 or some other close number. Movement rates are easy to convert of course and alignments are different systems & edition, but all in all it is still easy to convert. The Pdf clocks in at about 92 pages for two dollars and the monsters are well worth the pdf and man these things could easily be incorporated into a wide variety of games or campaigns. And all of these monsters are perfectly suited for a wide variety of dungeon environs but that's not all. Many of these horrors are straight up generic enough yet weird enough to go right into a post apocalyptic wasteland or better yet your favorite space based dungeon. Seriously there is a ton of potential and I love the way that you get your money's worth out of this product. Using these with White Star or Swords and Wizardry would be a snap as these monsters have a very old world pulp quality to them. Look this is exactly the sort of book that I need for tonight's game, monsters pulpy enough to fit into any environment but different enough to give the PC's pause and make them come up with a plan for the horror's demise. And these monster's are not going to go down easily, they're capable of taking out an entire party of adventurers with relative easy if the party isn't careful. There's a lot of potential here for TPK's if the players' are not paying attention to the monster's patterns,behaviors, and attacks. These horrors don't follow the usual monster biology BS that so many writers slip into the background. The author knows his stuff and keeps things busy and interesting in the background of the design of the critter's. Several of these horrors could be mini adventures into themselves and here's where I mentioned White Star or one of the sci fi retroclones being very useful for a quick night's one shot using these things. With the revive on the post apocalyptic front these horrors could easily be slipped into the back drop of an advanced Mutants and Maze's game of Mutant Future. Of particular use is Appendix A gives the DM Treasure Types by Edition. 0e, 1e, HB and BX. There are subtle differences in each, but it's easy to convert between each. Appendix B gives us the monster XP totals for various editions as well. 0e, S&W, BX/BEDMI, LL, 1e and OSRIC. These are essential elements that I wish, wish other retroclone systems would incorporate as well. The bottom line is this grab the damn book right now and don't wait, for the price this is really a no brainer. Five out of five because its so well done and I can't find fault with it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CC1 Creature Compendium
Publisher: New Big Dragon Games Unlimited
by Dominique C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/02/2015 10:28:59

Excellent product, I love it! Except for the relatively mediocre cover, it's like the old Fiend Folio done right! That is, a Fiend Folio with more interesting monsters. The layout is top notch, and the art reminds of old school monster books. Excellent, I love it. It's one of the very few OSR books that I later intend to buy in printed form (POD). If only it could be released in hardcover (I only saw it in softcover at Lulu), that would be great...

I only have a minor bad point with this book: It is dual-stated, but for games that are very similar (i.e. 1e/Osric and basic/Labyrinth-Lord). Personally I could use a monster book that has 1e/Osric stat-blocks with both games; for me the basic/LL stat-block are useless.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CC1 Creature Compendium
Publisher: New Big Dragon Games Unlimited
by James M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/19/2015 20:18:13

Every page of the Creature Compendium is filled with pure awesome. And at less than a penny per fully-illustrated creature, New Big Dragon's Creature Compendium delivers value like no other product on the market today.

Whatever your flavor of Old School, the new Creature Compendium supports it, with bells and fireballs on...

Whatever your campaign style, you will find a plenitude of creatures in this volume to populate your campaign. Or you might even be inspired to create a whole new campaign setting based merely on the monsters found in this volume.

The art is gorgeous Old School style black and white line art, and would fit in nicely along with the works of Sutherland, Dee, Otus, Roslof, and Willingham. With the layout style, I felt like I was reading a supplement for the old Moldvay/Cook edition published by TSR in their heyday.

The only way this product could have been better is if it had even more creatures! But now, that would be greedy, wouldn't it? As it is, this is among the best ways you will ever spend $2 for a game product... it would be a deal even at the full retail of $5.95.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CC1 Creature Compendium
Publisher: New Big Dragon Games Unlimited
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/10/2015 16:43:29

"Remember those flashes of inspiration that electrified your brain when you first picked up that hardback volume of monsters all those years ago?" Richard LeBlanc begins this new monster book right where I need to, reminding me of the absolute JOY I had holding the 1st Ed. Monster Manual in my hands for the first time.

This book doesn't quite fill me with that joy (that is a TOUGH act to follow) but it does come close and for the price it is a damn fine book.

So what does this book have? Well it is 94 pages total and over 200 new monster for your Old-School game. Which system? All of them, or nearly enough. Each monster is "dual" stated for 0e/1e and BX. Simply read the stats that work the best for you and take what you need from the other. Sometimes there is no difference. For example an AC of 3 in AD&D is roughly an AC 3 in BX and the monsters will either list 3 or some other close number. Movement rates are easy to convert of course and alignments are different systems, but all in all it is still nice to have.

There are a lot of fun monsters here too. A mix that reminds me of the old Fiend Folio to be honest. Even the art, which is good, reminds me of the FF a lot. Every monster is illustrated, or if they are not I didn't see it. So a lot of art.

Of particular use are the two appendices. Appendix A gives us Treasure Types by Edition. 0e, 1e, HB and BX. Subtle differences in each, but best to line up what you are doing. Appendix B gives us the monster XP totals for various editions as well. 0e, S&W, BX/BEDMI, LL, 1e and OSRIC. Great to have.

If they wanted to capture the feel of reading the old MM then they were successful. If you love old school games and monsters then this really is a must buy.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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