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Brixbrix's Field Guide to the Creatures of Ados
 
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Average Rating:4.0 / 5
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Brixbrix\'s Field Guide to the Creatures of Ados
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Brixbrix's Field Guide to the Creatures of Ados
Publisher: Tangent Games
by Chris G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/30/2006 00:00:00
This will be my second monster book in as many days. I usually try to space out books of a similar nature but this one and the last are pretty darn different for being monster books. This is a really good thing as it means some publishers are finally starting to break away from the boring Monster Manual format. It is the standard but a really boring read. If it did not have so many of the typical monster I like to use I would have left it behind a while ago. There are lots of monster books out there these days and it really takes something a little extra to break away and get noticed. Brixbrixs Field Guide to the Creatures of Ados is very much like Creatures of Freeport in that it gives a lot of information on the monster and includes adventure ideas for each one.

Brixbrixs Field Guide to the Creatures of Ados is a PDF by Tangent games. The book is two hundred and twenty pages long but there is a bit of wasted space in there. The monster take up two or three pages each with all their information and the next monster appears on the next page even if the previous monster only takes up a quarter of the page. It would have been better if they filled that space with art or something. I do like that each monster starts on a new page though. It makes it easy to just print out the monsters that I am going to use if I do not want to print out the whole book. The art in the book is not that great but they do have art for each creature. The book also has no book marks which are a problem for a book of this size.

The book has over fifty new creatures in it. The book organizes the creature by creature type. I think this is the first book that I have seen do that. Most obviously just list them alphabetically and there is one publisher listing theirs by challenge rating (Expeditious Retreat). Each monster starts on a new page. There is the stat block for the creature, a color picture of it, a section of the world map of Ados showing where the monster can be found, sample treasure, description of the creature, plot hooks for using it, and a sample encounter. I really like the map section showing where the creature can be found. This of course can only be done for monster books that are tied to a world but I really liked when I say Kenzer do this and I really like to see it here. Sections of the monster descriptions are in different color making them easy to locate. The sample treasure is on a green background, the description of the creature is on a tan background, the Sample encounter is on a purple background, and the plot hooks are on a blue background. Many of these are great time saving devices. The sample treasure is obviously useful and easy to use. The plot hooks are pretty creative and offer a variety of different ways to use the creature. There seems to be three plot hooks for creatures. The sample encounters are short but complete. They describe where and how the encounter takes place, have a shortened stat block of the creature, and are ready to be used with ease.

The book has some other things in it besides creatures. The first appendix has a template for Disciple of Pain. It is a template that changes monstrous humanoids into undead creatures that inflict pain on others. There is the messenger template that changes any animal into a magical messenger, spy, and translator. There is the Moon Shadow template for creatures that are devoted to the god of the underworld. There is the Soul Stealers, a template for animals that have been killed through indifference. It is another undead template. Each of the templates has a sample creature along with the full description.

There is an appendix that has the creature alphabetized. On the table it also includes creature type, where in the world it can be found (name of places), type of terrain it can be found in, subtype, challenge rating, and page number. Then there is a table that has the creature names alphabetized with name of the sample encounter and also the encounter level of that encounter as well as the page number. Lastly, there is a table that has those encounters organized by the encounter levels from lowest to highest.

The book has a few new items, their costs, and different services. There is a table for payment on exotic materials from some of the creatures. There are some new spells. One great thing they have done is define some new spell effects. They introduce a new creature type, the undead plant. And then they list all the spells from the core rules that can effect them and how the spell effects them if it is different from the standard spell effect. There are supplemental summoning tables and supplemental reincarnation tables. Lastly, there are quite a few NPCs presented.

This book has really good content, great organization, but not good presentation. There are a bunch of great creatures and useful information in this book. It serves well fo9r the world it was designed for but also makes a good took box book allowing someone to pick and choose from the many different things presented in here. At first I was thinking the book was not going to be that good based on the look, layout and art. But as I read I quickly discovered that the writing and ideas are solid. The extra table in the back like the summoning table, the way spells work on the new creature types, the encounters, the plot hooks, and all the other little extras in here that other monster books simply do not have make this one of the better ones. The books is very DM friendly and quite simply a nice surprise.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Brixbrix's Field Guide to the Creatures of Ados
Publisher: Tangent Games
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/20/2006 00:00:00
Brixbrix's Field Guide to the Creatures of Ados is a 222 page pdf detailing the monsters from Tangent Games' Ados, the Land of Strife, campaign setting. The pdf is supposedly written by the Hunter's Society of Ados, which collects information and details on all the creatures that are unique to the land of Ados. Given the extensive page count one would expect to see a staggering amount of monsters here, but there are in fact only 55 new monsters in this pdf, not counting dragons of different age categories. The pdf makes up for the relatively few monsters by providing excellent detail to each monster creatures, sample encounters, and three adventure hooks per creature presented.

The layout is done in a rather 'unique' fashion in that it uses colored blocks of text to highlight different aspects of the text. For example, sample encounters come in a purple background blocked section, while beige fields contain the actual creature descriptive text. Normal text outside of these different sections of blocked text is designated as open content, and this is probably one of the few pdfs, barring those that offer 100% OGC, that highlights OGC very effectively in the pdf. Art is done by a variety of artists and ranges from stunning art such as the sand orc and shura, to very mediocre and often poor art such as the wind runner. A lot of the art also looks 3D rendered, something that's not often seen in a monster d20 sourcebook. Combination of full-color art and colored blocked text throughout the pdf makes this a no-printing pdf. It would've been extremely useful to include a print version, particularly for such a large monster pdf.

One of the things sorely lacking in such a large pdf is bookmarks. While the table of contents is thorough, the page numbers provided are not the actual pdf page numbers, but rather the content page numbers and so are off by a few pages with the pdf page numbers. Lack of bookmarks make this very difficult to navigate, particularly since the creatures are organized by type in the pdf and not alphabetically. If you don't know the creature's type and name, then it'll be very difficult to find without a trip to the table of contents first. While the creatures in the pdf are arranged alphabetically by type, ample tables are provided that organise the creatures differently, such as alphabetically by name.

Monsters are very well detailed in this pdf, including small details such as pictures of monster footprints, world maps of Ados indicating where the creatures are found, images of the skeletons and skulls of creatures, and general information about the creatures within Ados, such as range and habitat. While a lot of information about Ados is provided in the text, these creatures should be easily adaptable to any campaign setting. Each monster entry also contains a sample encounter, three plot hooks (stat blocks to the NPCs mentioned in the plot hooks are provided in the appendix), and excellent descriptive and background information on each monster.

Almost all the creatures types are represented in the pdf, except for elementals, giants, monstrous humanoids and oozes. Dragons (not always true dragons but rather mostly drakes) and undead are the two most common creature types, and, as it happens, probably the best selection of monsters in the pdf as well. The pdf also provides several templates in the appendix based on some of the undead creatures in the pdf, such as the disciple of pain. The appendixes themselves offer a wide variety of information (new spells, details on undead with the plant subtype, monster summoning tables, reincarnation tables, and a list of exotic materials and items crafted or harvested from the monsters in the pdf), making this a very complete monster pdf with a lot of information and useful detail.

Like the art in the pdf the monsters range from very good and interesting critters to the bland and uninspiring monsters. While the majority of the monsters listed are good, their stat blocks unfortunately aren't. Almost all the stat blocks contained errors of some kind (most related to incorrect attack bonuses or grapple bonuses, but also incorrect hp or Hit Dice), but also some poor mechanics and some dubious CRs. The CRs are particularly off when attempting to scaling creatures. One creature, the natili, for example, casts spells of a level equal to twice its HD, which does not scale well if you wish to improve the monster according to HD as the level adjustment suggests. For a 5 HD creature, it casts spells as a 10th level sorcerer, yet is only CR 8.

There are, however, some interesting, inspiring and creative creatures in here, despite it generally being a mixed bag of creatures. The dragons and undead are particularly good, as are some of the other creatures in the pdf. Given that there are 55 creatures in the pdf, one can expect to find a good proportion of those that are unique, interesting and most of all useful. With a few corrections here and there to other monsters and the addition of some more interesting abilities, each of these creatures will make for a good encounter. The encounters and plot hooks provide give some excellent examples of how to use these creatures and provide all the details required to run successful encounters with them. Tables in the appendix also list the encounters by EL and by creature name.


LIKED: This is a very comprehensive and detailed pdf with fantastic detail on each of the creatures presented. The dragons and undead are particularly good, and some of the art is outstanding. The addition of sample encounters and plot hooks makes each monster much more useful, and all the supplementary information is a welcome addition to this collection of often very good creatures.

DISLIKED: There are a number of other problems with this pdf, such as lack of print version, lack of bookmarks, poor art in places, large number of stat block errors, balance errors and dubious CRs, or some stat blocks not being correctly formatted for 3.5e, particularly those for NPCs in the appendixes. Some of the creatures are also rather uninteresting and bland, lacking in anything truly special.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Brixbrix's Field Guide to the Creatures of Ados
Publisher: Tangent Games
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/19/2006 00:00:00
Brixbrix?s Field Guide to the Creatures of Ados is a monster book from Tangent Games for the Ados: Land of Strife campaign setting. The zipped file is 8.5 megabytes, and the single file therein is just over 10. The entire book is 222 pages long, including covers and the OGL. There is a (non-hyperlinked) table of contents, but no bookmarks.

The product is full-color, with no printer-friendly version. Both the front and back covers are done in color, and all of the monster entries have a color picture showcasing them. As several artists were used, the pictures for the monsters ranged from cartoony to quite impressive. While the pages don?t have borders, various parts of the text are in colored boxes to denote the text is talking about; beige-boxed text is flavor text, for example, and blue-boxed text is an adventure hook.

The book opens with an in-character explanation for the creation of this book, giving a one-page notation of how this guide is made in the name of Brixbrix. After that, it explains how all of the creatures in this book are from the continent of Ados, and have a small map in their entry outlining which part of the continent they?re normally found on.

The table of contents breaks down how the monsters are given alphabetically by type. Instead of the entire compendium being alphabetical, all of the aberrations, then the animals, then the constructs, etc. are given. A total of fifty-five monsters, altogether, are showcased here. In addition to statistics, flavor text, and a picture, most monsters then have a sample treasure listed, an example encounter given, and a few adventure hooks.

Appendix one gives four new templates, along with example creatures which have had the template applied. Unlike the aforementioned monsters, none of these have sample encounters, treasure, or adventure hooks listed.

Appendix two is a series of tables arranging the information about the book?s monsters. The creatures are given in a single alphabetical listing, as well as listings for their average encounter levels (in the sample encounters), and by encounter name.

Appendix three is a short list of items that can be made from/for the creatures listed. Most of these consist of items used for riding or handling the new animals here, though some are products made from dead monsters. Much like in the PHB, these give a table with the pertinent information, and a short description of each item. Listings are also given for raw materials that can be harvested, and services that some of the new creatures can perform.

Appendix four covers magic. Five new spells are given, all that specifically deal with animating, creating, and controlling undead plants (as the normal spells for these don?t target or affect plants). After this is a listing for a few dozen existing spells (from the PHB) and exactly how they affect undead plants. Following this are new tables that show how the new monsters here can be summoned with summon monster spells, and where the monsters suitable for PC races fit in on a modified reincarnation table.

Appendix five covers NPCs. One new NPC given here is Issilor, an epic-level evil druid who is a major, but hidden, power player on Ados. After this, concise stat blocks (and no flavor text) are given for all of the NPCs mentioned in the various sample encounters from the previous monster listings. The book then closes out with a short notation of credits for various artists and authors, the OGL, and a page of ads for other Ados products.

Altogether, this was a product that was very impressive in how far it went. While the artistic design and presentation of the monsters, and somewhat unsightly layout (unbordered pages with blocks of colored text), combined with the lack of a printer-friendly version made me skeptical of the book?s contents, the monsters themselves were quite serviceable. Add into this the new spells, new NPC, and extensive retrofitting of existing spells, along with the integrated guide for presenting these monsters in the Ados campaign world, and I raised my initial rating up to 4 out of 5 stars. Brixbrix?s Field Guide to the Creatures of Ados is a book that does nothing by half-measures.



LIKED: I liked how this product gave small maps of the creatures' habitats, along with sample encounters and adventure hooks. The revised summon monster tables, reincarnation table, and notes on how existing spells affect undead plants show that the product is dedicated and informative.

DISLIKED: This product had no printer-friendly version. Moreover, the lack of bookmarks or hyperlinks made moving around it somewhat cumbersome. Small errors in stat blocks crept in throughout the product (size bonuses to grapple checks often were overlooked, for example).

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Brixbrix's Field Guide to the Creatures of Ados
Publisher: Tangent Games
by Bill F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/21/2005 00:00:00
From the Coral Dragon to the Shura, what is not to like about this guide. Tons and tons of info explaining each creature in detail and ways of implementing them into an encounter. For anyone looking for something new and orginal, this creature guide is for you.

LIKED: The vast amount of different creatures presented. I also enjoyed the encounter examples that give DMs a way to place a certain creature into an adventure.

DISLIKED: Some of the art could of been better.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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