Forbidden Lands Book of Beasts: A Played It Review

The Book of Beasts introduces 28 more with random encounters along with additional rules

Forbidden Lands includes 23 monsters in the core box set. The Book of Beasts introduces 28 more with random encounters along with additional rules. Any GM writing their own adventures using Forbidden Lands is going to find practical value in this book.

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My thanks to Free League for providing a copy of the book to me for review. I’m going to cover one of the monsters and how to use them and then go over the new rules including creating a new artifact. This approach will show how useful the book can be, especially when you realize I’m only looking at one of the 28 monsters included.

Iron Dragon Random Encounter: The Dragon Slayer

The iron dragon is the antithesis of forging and engineering. It is in fact the opposite of Creation itself and all that has been created and endowed with physical form by divine powers and dwarven hammers. It is a primordial force of destruction, a herald of decay, constantly gnawing at the roots of the world and eroding the bedrock with its treacherous snake holes.

These huge wingless dragons have thick armor, corrosive acid breath, and the ability to tear open the earth to swallow foes and rain down rock shards. A successful Lore check might just reveal a vulnerability however. And pure metal can be extracted from a slain iron dragon, providing weapon and armor bonuses.

The GM is provided with two random encounters to choose from: a straight ambush and meeting a dragon slayer. Let’s look at the dragon slayer since that has more options and interaction. This encounter is with a dwarven dragon slayer. We’ll call him Dougg Diggby. The PCs encounter him while he is hunting and they see him disappear into a cave system. A GM could slow this down a bit, and then have the PCs and Dougg enjoy a conversation about iron dragons, the god Huge and his whiskers, and iron in general. As the talking winds down, the ground cracks open nearby and Dougg gleefully slides down and disappears.

The PCs then have options. Move on, pursue Dougg, or simply choose to explore the opened tunnel system now or later. A GM can develop these caves into a whole adventure site, using the tables on page 172 of the Gamemaster’s Guide. There might be an orc kingdom under the ground and maybe their king is looking for would be dragon slayers or visiting sacrifices to appease an iron dragon….

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D66 Random Encounters and D66 Traps

In addition to the monsters, there is a table of d66 random encounters. Each one gets a few paragraphs. Some depict horrifying events like The Birthing Manticore to terrifying wonders like The Burning Bush. Some lead to combat, some to meeting new NPCs, and others depict weird mysteries or possible adventure sites.

There is a full page table of traps from classics like a net or poison darts to the magical like domination and teleportation.

Books and Journeys

A random table generates a ballad, manual, or grimoire drawn from result #61 in the GM Guide tables for “Carried Valuable Finds” and “Carried Precious Finds”. Ballads provide Rank +1 in a talent, manuals Rank +1 in a skill, and grimoires provide +1 to a magic talent.

Journeys are enhanced with tables for each hexagon type with what location can be found there. Typical campsites are also provided for each terrain type. And weather tables detail wind, rainfall, and temperature.

Strongholds and Potions

Strongholds get a table of random encounters for events that happen there and a table of servants covering name and kin, personality, and secret. There is also a new function: Laboratory that works with the new talent.

The new talent, Alchemist, allows a PC to brew potions. These cover things like Strength and Wisdom to healing to curing conditions and more. Poisons also get a table of new options.

Artifacts and Solo Rules

Rules are provided to create new artifacts. Example: Irilla’s Longbow provides an artifact bonus of d10 in the morning, d12 in the evening, and d8 at night. This artifact was created by rolling randomly on the provided tables. Artifacts enhance either weapons/armor or skills and include an interesting oddity.

There are 14 pages of rules and tables for solo adventuring for GMs and players who can’t get together with a group right now but can’t wait to play.

Should You Get the Book of Beasts?

If you create adventures for Forbidden Lands, yes you should get the Book of Beasts. Even if you use existing adventures, you can easily add the new monsters and the new rules work regardless. If you GM Forbidden Lands, this book is a great addition to your world and campaign building toolbox.
 

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Charles Dunwoody

Charles Dunwoody




BenjaminDecker

First Post
I think the attack tables are all too similar: area attack, single attack, fear attack, double attack and some have a magical effect.
There some cool monsters here (Mire drake, giant spiders, Vampire) but most are your standard type, that you could have made up yourself in no time.
The art though is awesome while sometimes contradicting with the description of the monster and thereby not useful in session. I don't know, I got some use out of this, but it could be much better.
 

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