83199[1]By Thilo Graf

This mini-monster manual from Super Genius Games is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving 11 pages of content for the new monsters, so what do we get?

The one page introduction makes clear the design-goal of this Mythic Menagerie – to provide the equivalent of an undead court.

The first creature, the Bean Chaointe, already kicks off with everything you want in a monster – the ghostly, banshee-like protectors and scions of hopelessness and despair prove to be both blessing and curse to their families, fiercely protecting their lineage, but also bringing untold sadness. Unique signature abilities make the CR 9 spirit stand out and offer for nice roleplaying incentives.

The CR 12-bloodknight, a vampiric knight who can use cursed items without penalties would make for a cool knight, but I have a problem with his presentation – while it’s obvious that the knight features a modification of the vampire-template, no information on the template is given, making it hard for you to create your own bloodknights with e.g. cavalier-levels. Major bummer.

The CR 5 Dark Messenger on the other hand, is again a cool creature with iconic abilities – being the heralds of undead lords, they have a kind of ability-enforced diplomatic immunity and cool abilities.

Next up is the CR 10 Lich Tyrant, a take on the undead sovereign who may be a non-caster and uses a modification of the lich-template. Again, though, the cool concept is essentially squandered by not providing the template used to create the undead ruler, again preventing you from getting more out of the entry than the provided statblock.

The CR 3 Masque Ghouls are a cool servant creature – by day, these ghoulish creatures look like regular folk only to become dread creatures by night, closing the niche of daylight retainers for e.g. vampires. Neat!

The true Star of this pdf, though, would be the CR 15 Night Dragon, an undead dragon. Yeah, I hear you yawn, but hear me: The Night Dragon is actually an enraged genius loci, driven to action and wrathful rampages by the depravity of the inhabitants of the land, making for an interesting creature that goes beyond the expected abilities and provides a nice array of roleplaying possibilities.

The CR 7 Rot Giants is a tough, disturbing creature who can disgorge skeletons of consumed foes and withstand a lot of punishment – a nice rook, to speak in chess-terms.

The final creature is the CR 6 Soul Harvester, a dread, bloated creature with a spiked fist and the ability to consume and burn the souls of the fallen, which eternally strive to break through the skinny confines of its distended belly. Creepy and cool!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good – while I did notice some punctuation glitches, none impeded my ability to understand the content. Layout adheres to the two-column standard and the interior b/w-artwork by Kimagu and Forge Studios deserves special mention, offering very cool images for the foes. The pdf has no bookmarks. Author Sam Hing has provided a lot of cool creatures here and the undead offer us several neat signature abilities that actually make you want to use these undead foes. However, there are some downsides, too, which tarnish an otherwise excellent offering: First of all, we don’t get lore sections for the monsters, which is a bit of a pity. Secondly and more importantly, though, the bloodknight and lich tyrant are prime examples of wasted potential – why not provide the template and THEN a sample statblock instead of applying it to a creature and then omitting the template? Without it, it is quite hard (though not impossible) to reverse-engineer the modifications and create your own bloodknights and lich tyrants. This essentially robs two very cool creature variants of their true value for the customer, which is a pity. This installment of Mythic Menageries could have easily been 4.5 or even 5 stars, but due to the glitches and lack of templates, I’ll have to rate it down. Make no mistake, it’s still a nice purchase for the low price, but due to these minor problems, my final verdict will be 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.

Mythic Menagerie: The Kingdom of Graves is available from:

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