By Thilo Graf
This pdf is 7 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD and two pages of print-out mini-sheets for monsters, a nice bonus for the DM. That leaves 3 pages for the new creatures, the Calibans.
This is straightforward, as it includes two statblocks of the new race of monstrous humanoids it introduces, the white-skinned, barbaric Calibans. Think “The Hills have Eyes” if you want to know what to expect. Degenerated, cannibalistic, brutishly strong guys.
Two statblocks are given:
- Caliban (CR 1/3): This section also comes with information for Caliban characters, who get +4 Str, -2 to Int, Wis and Cha, Ferocity, Darkvision (60 ft.), Light Sensitivity and familiarity with Caliban weapons.
- Caliban Headhunter (CR 3): This is a two-handed fighter, as per the APG-rules. All rules necessary to play them are included, though.
The pdf also includes 6 racial feats for the Calibans:
- Consume Brain: Gain knowledge of the deceased person’s memories and, in a limited form, their skills by eating their brain. Great idea to implement them as a roleplaying device or make PCs traffic with the brutish Calibans. I’ll use this feat in my campaign, if only to gross out my players and force them to make hard decisions.
- Consume Heart: Eat hearts to gain temporal bonuses to Str and Con, depending on the HD of the creature consumed. While not providing as many roleplaying opportunities as Consume Brain does, it still makes for an iconic feat for a villain to have.
- Terrible Sunder: When successfully sundering armor, weapon or shield, you may add your Str-modifier to the excess damage. Ok feat, I guess.
- Filthy Beast: Gain half your level as a bonus to saves against poison and disease. I’d never allow this for PCs, as it is EXTREMELY strong, depending on your campaign’s style.
- Plague Carrier: Makes your Caliban immune to a certain disease and lets you inflict it on others via unarmed strikes and natural attacks, although Calibans per se don’t have the latter. This feat left me with a “been there, done that” feeling.
- Prime Specimen: +1 to all Str-based Skills and +3 to all Str-checks. Ok, I guess.
Me being a huge fan of the unfortunately discontinued 3.0/3.5.-interpretation of Ravenloft (not the mockery WotC has made out of it with a certain 3.5.-adventure…), the Caliban has hit a soft spot of mine. On the plus side, the artwork as can be seen on the cover and layout are beautiful, we get these monster-sheets and some bonus feats. However, we don’t get a lore-section, a fully detailed ecology or the like. The feats are ok, but should be handled with care if you allow a player to play a Caliban. Consume Brain is a great roleplaying catalyst and I would have loved to see more along the cannibalism angle. Editing-wise, I didn’t notice any mistakes or typos. What struck me as kind of strange, though, was that on the one hand Calibans are familiar with Caliban weapons, but none are given in the pdf. I think that meat-hooks, gruesome weaponry etc. would have improved this file even further – as written, the weapon familiarity is unfortunately quite useless. This being my only true point of criticism, especially for the low price, I’ll settle for a solid 4-star rating. A good race of monstrous humanoids that could have been a 5-star file.
I can’t comment on the counters, they were not part of my complimentary copy.
Monsters of NeoExodus–Caliban is available from: