Monsters Unleashed, Volume 2, is more monsters rescued from obscurity by the fine people at Purple Duck Games. If you need some interesting monsters at a bargain price, take a look.
Monsters Unleashed, Vol 2 is a 16-page PDF (12-pages if you remove the OGL pages) for the Pathfinder RPG written by Mark Gedak and Stefen Styrsky and published by Purple Duck Games. This is part of Purple Duck Games’ Monsters Unleashed Subscription.
The layout is a traditional book design, primarily two-column and easy enough to read. The monsters follow standard Pathfinder template. The art is black and white with each creature having its own illustration. A sheet of creature tokens is included on the last page.
The Challenge Ratings of the monsters unleashed here range from three to 22 (!) mostly good direct combat creatures, including the Fenris Wolf (the CR 22), yes, that Fenris Wolf. Indeed, the Clay Warriors even come in three varieties. Each creature descriptions suggests some good adventure hooks for each of the creatures. All of the creatures each has its own table of what you can find out about it on a successful knowledge check.
Additionally, there is a named and leveled version of one of the monsters, a companion creature for the named monster and a new spell.
Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
It’s never been said (insofar as I’m aware) but I’m of the opinion that the otyugh was created either to fill an ecological niche in the game world (as to what cleans up the poo of dungeon-dwelling monsters) or as a nasty surprise when the PCs actually stop to go to the bathroom. Either way, they seemed like a monster that was fairly one-dimensional for what they offered. Mark Gedak and Stefen Styrsky, however, are determined to prove otherwise with their Otyughnomicon series of releases. In this case, we look at the Northern Waste Otyugh.
This book is a short one, being eight pages long (albeit with a six-page OGL listing, thoughtfully included as a separate file). Despite its brevity, full nested bookmarks are present, and copy-and-paste is enabled. There’s only one illustration here, a black and white picture of an icy otyugh, but the pages have a light tentacle in the background, and there are tokens of said otyugh (and, somewhat oddly, a polar bear).
After a quick introduction, the book tackles a topic that’s clearly dear to the authors’ hearts – should the otyugh be an aberration, or a magical beast? The rules say the former, while the authors clearly think the latter. As such, the first sample otyugh for the template (see below) is reproduced twice, once as an aberration otyugh, and once as a magical beast otyugh – all further otyughs in the book are magical beasts.
In all honesty, I don’t necessarily disagree with the reasoning given in this book, but I think that there’s something of a missed opportunity here. If you’re writing your own version of something you disagree with, you should introduce it in-game as something new! Perhaps the magical beast otyughs are a new breed that are edging out their aberration forefathers (in that case, you could even call them…neo-otyughs).
Following this is the new Northern Waste Creature template. It’s a fairly simplistic template (though not a simple template, in Pathfinder parliance), and does a good job of making a creature into an arctic counterpart, though I question the decision not to add the cold subtype.
After the two sample otyughs (and a new variant disease, frost fever, to offset the usual filth fever), we then get a sample tribe of northern waste otyughs – only the two leaders are outlined, as most of the tribe are typical specimens, whereas the leaders have class levels. I wish some attempt, no matter how small, had been made to give us some flavor text about these individuals, as they’re presented only as stat blocks. Another missed opportunity.
Six new icy-themed spells are provided then, though the majority of these seem to be cold variants of existing spells (e.g. hibernate instead of sleep, ice shape instead of stone shape, etc.). I don’t necessarily dislike spells that are variants of other spells, and these did a fairly good job differentiating themselves. But it was the next section that was magical.
The authors note that one of their fans made, on their facebook page, a comment about the sex lives of otyughs. Would that that fan had remained silent, and we’d have been spared the thought of what sort of union would produce the otyugh sorcerer bloodline. The bloodline is just as disgusting as its parentage, and I foresee some truly nauseating villains using it (as well as some gross PCs). Several new spells are presented as part of the bloodline spells, and these were much more inspiring. Spells to curse the land (with disease, undead, etc.), make a creature a disease carrier, or even cause an epidemic, are very much in the theme of the otyugh.
Overall, this is a good book if you’re a fan of the otyugh, but it could have been more. What’s here is solid work, but a little more polish could have made it great. Who are these northern waste otyugh leaders? What makes aberration otyughs different from magical beast otyughs? Still, these oversights don’t diminish what’s here, which are some great options for icy otyughs and those of otyugh ancestry. Pick this book up, and let these otyughs give your PCs all sorts of crap to deal with!