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DARK PLACES & DEMOGORGONS - The Cryptid Manual - An OSR Bestiary $4.99 $3.74
Average Rating:4.4 / 5
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DARK PLACES & DEMOGORGONS - The Cryptid Manual - An OSR Bestiary
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DARK PLACES & DEMOGORGONS - The Cryptid Manual - An OSR Bestiary
Publisher: Bloat Games
by A customer [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/02/2019 15:03:25

I’ll begin by admitting I love cryptozoology. I mean, really love it. Cryptids—monsters that science says doesn’t exist but legend say might just—are endlessly fascinating and have found their way into several of the non-fiction books I’ve written over the years. As I result, when I learned about Bloat Games’ Cryptid’s Manual, I was instantly excited.

This ‘Monster Manual’ for Dark Places and Demogorgons clocks in at 92 pages. The stunning cover, an atmospheric depiction of chupacabra, only increased my anticipation. I couldn’t wait to crack it open and take a look!

The book begins with the Hope Excerpts, supposed excerpts from the journal of an explorer searching the Staff of Bel, an ancient artifact that was used by Sumerian priests—and later heroes of other cultures from Greece to India—to defeat monsters. With the fall of Rome in 476, the staff was claimed and then destroyed by a hairy 9-foot tall Barbarian (perhaps as Almas of Central Asia?), its pieces scattered around the globe. Our explorer seeks to find these fragments and reconstitute the staff to defeat monsters that dwell in the shadowy recesses of our world.

All right, so that out of the way, let us get to the meat of the book and check out the monsters themselves. There are 55 in total, pulled from legend and lore the world over—from skinwalkers and thunderbirds of Native American culture to the mokele-mbembe of Africa, the Mongolian death worm of Asia, and the bunyip of Australia all regions are covered. There’s a strong European and North American leaning, however, which is understandable as the average reader would be most familiar with these cryptids. From North America we get the hodag, Jersey Devil, and Sheepsquatch, while kelpies, medusa, spriggans are among those culled from European sources. We also get 8 species of hairy hominids and 5 types of extraterrestrials.

For every instantly recognizable hellhound of wendigo, we get one—mishipeshu, nain rouge, or sheckles, anyone—that is more obscure. I’ve been reading and writing about cryptozoology for years and yet there were still some surprises in store for me—nice!

A page or two is devoted to each cryptid, which comes with game stats (naturally), as well as some—admittedly brief—details on its habits or physiology, and quite often a sentence or two of flavor text in the form of brief testimony from supposed eyewitnesses. I was really impressed with the way the mechanics were used to evocatively bring the monsters to life. It would have been really easy, for example, to make the eight hairy hominids statistically identical, but instead each comes across as quite unique, accurately reflecting differing cultural views.

The beautiful artwork deserves particular praise. Creatures are often shadowy and somewhat indistinct, lacking in details. This is perfectly in keeping with the nature of the subject matter. Cryptids are elusive, fleetingly—if ever—seen, and testimony often differs enormously in specific details. Presenting the monsters this fashion means something is left to the imagination. It’s a brilliant design choice and gives the book a distinctive look.

The book then concludes by providing a number of templates that can be added to the assembled cryptids, or indeed any creature. They include giant, rabid, radioactive, were-beast (were-skunk ape from the deep bayous—cool!), vampiric (an undead, bloodsucking sheepsquatch—even cooler!), and zombie.

Conclusion

Editing is excellent and the rules not only constituent but expertly handled throughout. I couldn’t find a single flaw. The layout is a thing of artistry, the occasional blood splatter adding to the illusion you’re reading a Top Secret file that Powers are desperate to keep under wraps.

Jodie Brandt and Josh Palmer have written an awesome offering: The supplement provides endless hours of adventuring opportunity by breathing life into some of legend’s best cryptids. Each monster represents an adventure-in-waiting.

The book offers, thus, a ton of excellent fuel for creative GMs. Heck, you could play an entire campaign with just the creatures continued within. It’s an invaluable—even vital—resource for Dark Places and Demogorgons game masters.

My final verdict is an enthusiastic 5 stars. I can’t recommend it enough.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DARK PLACES & DEMOGORGONS - The Cryptid Manual - An OSR Bestiary
Publisher: Bloat Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/24/2019 16:35:09

If I have said it once I have said it a hundred times. I LOVE Monster books. Any and all monster books. I even grab monster books for games I don't play. So when Eric Bloat they head monster hunter at Bloat Games asked if I would be interested in looking over his new monster book (Kickstarting today) for his FANTASTIC Dark Places & Demogorgons I screamed HELL YES at my computer.

Now I promise to be fair here but a couple of words of full disclaimer. First I was sent this book as part of an agreement for a review. That is no big, I get a lot of books this way and I always try to be fair. Secondly. Well, look above. I am predisposed to like Monster books and I already love DP&P and cryptids are a TON of fun. So please keep all this in mind.

Dark Places & Demogorgons: Cryptid Manual is a digest-sized book weighing in at 90 or so pages. Some bits look like redacted Governmental documents and blood splattered hunter's notebooks. It's actually pretty cool looking if not 100% original (see Chill, Supernatural and Conspiracy X). That being said though it is also 100% EXPECTED. That's HOW I want my 80s monster hunting guide to look like.

The interior and the cover features two-color art (blacks and reds) on glossy pages. Now the gloss might just be my pre-copy version, or not. In any case the color, the art, and the layout are all a leap ahead in terms of style and look than all the previous DP&D books. If this is the future of their books then the future looks good.

A little over 50 monsters fill this book. They use the same stat block as DP&D so that also means they are roughly compatible with Swords & Wizardry (I'd say about 99%) and most other OSR-flavored games. Given the size of the book it fits in nicely with my Swords & Wizardry Whitebox games, so I have another monster book now for that! Each monster gets a page. Some exceptions occur with the Bigfoots and the E.T.s, but still, it's a good bit for each one.

There are also templates in the back of the book that work like the monster templates from 3.x. So you can apply the Vampire, Werewolf or my favorite Radioactive, template (among others) to any monster. Radioactive Bigfoots? Hell yes! There is also a table of enhancements and how they change your monster. So now it's Agile Radioactive Bigfoots! There are some conditions ported over from 3.x (more or less) but very, very useful and I am happy to see them here.

Ok what are some of my favorites? There is the Almasti, which I also used in Ghosts of Albion. They have a special place in my heart. I'll likely include Almasti Shamen in my DP&D games like I did with Ghosts. Old faves like the Bunyip and Chupacabra. Holy crap there is a Crocoduck!

I have to admit I nearly shot coffee out of my nose when I first saw that. Worth the price of the book alone in my mind. Flatwoods Monster, all the various extraterrestrials (Nordics, Reptilians, LGMs, Greys), Hellhounds, the Hodag! (love those things!), Jersey Devils, Skin Walkers, and the Wendigo. So plenty really and many more. The monsters mostly come from modern cyptids, but there some classics from myths and local monsters.

This book is great really. While I may have been pre-disposed to like it, it really delivered and then some with me. The art is great and fun. The layout top notch and the monsters are just too much fun.

While reading it I could not help but think how well this would also work with White Star or other White Box derived game. So even if you don't play DP&D (and you should really, it's just too much fun) you can still get a lot of enjoyment out of this book. For example the Cryptid Manual is 90% compatible with Swords & Wizardry White Box. There is not a lot of overlap in monsters, so this makes the CM a perfect monster book for S&WWB players. Also, there are a lot of "new" monsters in S&W for the DP&D player/GM. Who's to say that an alien life form could resemble an orc or a wyvern.

In fact, this is true for nearly every clone. The clone game provides monsters for DP&P and the Cryptid Manual provides new monsters for your clone of choice. You just need to justify why they are there.

Worth picking up.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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