One of the great things about the d20 core rules is that they're expandable and customizable, and for monsters that is a real treat. With templates, advanced monsters and other means around, the DM can create a treasure trove of wild beasties to throw at their players. No two monsters of the same species need to be the same, and the flexibility this allows is huge. In fact, some of the best books for the d20 market out there have dealt with templates. Part of the DMs job is to create fun and challenging encounters, and customizable monsters offers a powerful tool in doing just that.
The Lazy GM: Dungeon Beasts is the latest product from Creative Conclave and the 5th product in their Lazy GM series (6th if you count Creative Conclave's free Halloween release last year). This product show cases (within the limits of the core d20) the power of customization of monsters. In the pages of this product 40 dungeon beasts have been turned into over 400 through the use of advancing, templates and the like. As the name suggests, this product is about dungeon beast, essentially all the creatures with the magical beast or aberration types. The Lazy GM: Dungeon Beasts presents 146 pages of stat blocks of every CR allowing the DM to pick a dungeon beast to suit his needs without any hassle. This product is compatible with the revised d20 core rules.
This product comes as a single easy-to-use pdf file. While there are no bookmarks, the product allows you navigate at the click of a creature's name, meaning with the extensive table of contents you can go wherever you want within the pdf. Layout is in a single column, with the various monsters sorted alphabetically throughout the product. Like the other products in the series, the stat blocks are impeccable, and with over 400 stat blocks in this product, that's saying something. The product also includes an extremely useful introduction, as well as handy tables to sort creatures by role, such as ambushers, guardians, and relentless hunters. This is a very well presented pdf, with excellent mechanics.
The Lazy GM series is all about providing DMs with scores of pregenerated stat blocks of various creatures in a large number of different variations. Dungeon Beasts features creatures such as: ankheg, grick, rust monster, hellhound, choker, basilisk, owlbear, manticore, chimera, gorgon, and numerous others. Naturally these creatures have been expanded and advanced in numerous ways, and templates such as zombie, skeleton, vampire, paragon, phrenic, fiendish and pseodonatural have been applied liberally to each creature, creating a vast quantity of creatures of every CR. Some creatures have class levels as well, where appropriate, for example, with a blink dog. And speaking of CRs, the CRs range from 1/3 for the lowly dire rat, to 35 for that paragon purple worm. The majority of the creatures fall in the region below CR 10, but there are a fair number of scores of creatures in the higher CR ranges.
A product like this is a huge undertaking, particularly if you want to provide huge variation and get the details right. Creative Conclave have once again succeeded at this, creating an extremely useful document for those that don't really like generating creatures or typing out stat blocks for various creatures. It's one thing to create a product with 40 stat blocks, and quite another to do that for 400 accurate stat blocks. This is a valuable resource, and along with the other four products so far in the series, almost means you'll never really need to create another stat block again. Creative Conclave have produced an impressive product. While it doesn't bring anything new to the d20 arena, its utility is enormous and as such a product that many DMs wonder what they did without it. This product can shave hours off preparation time, particularly if combined with other products in the series. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what's next for The Lazy GM series. Excellent product.
[5 of 5 Stars!]