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Dungeon Crawl Classics Presents: Blackdirge's Dungeon Denizens $12.99 $6.00
Average Rating:4.2 / 5
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Dungeon Crawl Classics Presents: Blackdirge\'s Dungeon Denizens
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Dungeon Crawl Classics Presents: Blackdirge's Dungeon Denizens
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/30/2007 00:00:00
Dungeon Crawl Classics Presents: Blackdirge's Dungeon Denizens is a 129 page d20 fantasy pdf product collecting all the new monsters and creatures that have featured over the years in the Dungeon Crawl Classics line of adventures. The Dungeon Crawl Classics series of adventures is one of the most popular series of adventures for the d20 system, and has featured a whole host of new and interesting monsters. This product sees them all collected and compiled by Aeryn Rudel, also known as 'Blackdirge'. The creatures, more than 100 of the best monsters from the Dungeon Crawl Classics line, have all be updated to the revised d20 core rules.

The product comes as a very presentable pdf file containing both a full set of useful bookmarks and a table of contents for easy navigation. The product very much has an old style look to it, and gamers from the early editions of the game will recognise the look of the product. The product contains a very good cover, and some fantastic interior art drawn from the Dungeon Crawl Classics series. Over the years many great artists have contributed to the series, and this product showcases their talent with almost every monster having its own artwork.

Writing and editing is good as well, as is the layout, although some of the monsters tend to start their entries on odd places on the page which often means that a statistics block runs over two pages. Speaking of statistics, generally good, but there are a fair number of errors in such things as hit point totals, and other odd things like the governing ability score for the save DCs of some constructs being listed as Constitution. Overall, though, great art, great presentation, and good writing and general stats.

Blackdirge's Dungeon Denizens collects more than 100 creatures into one easy to use library. The creatures are listed alphabetically in the product itself, and a number of tables are provided to help you select a creature further. These include the obvious alphabetical table of contents, but also a listing by type, CR and environment. CRs range from 1 to 21, although the bulk of the creatures are in the range CR 1 to CR 0 (~ 85%). Most of the creatures tend to be aberrations, outsiders, elementals, swarms, undead, constructs, or magical beasts. Fey, dragons, or giants get no representation (barring in one or two templates where type changes), and there is only one solitary humanoid, although in the latter case that's probably not such a bad thing. In addition to all this useful information in the product, a list of summoning spells is also included along with the creatures that are applicable to each level of summoning spell. This is something I wish were included in more monster products, and so it's very welcome to see here.

Like the adventures of the Dungeon Crawl Classics line, the monsters themselves are quite eclectic and varied, and in most instances very good. This is one of the better monster books that I've seen in a while, with some interesting choices, good background information and details, and in some cases excellent concepts. There are of course a fair number of standard fare as it were, or creatures that standard with a different ability tagged onto their stats. Another type of bat, another type of swarm, another beetle, yet another demon, etc. But for the most part this collection contains some very enjoyable creatures - bone swarms, doomtwitch zombies, the spirit of uru-nuk, and some of the others, including several templates. Any DM will find a lot of use out of the creatures in this product, and the strength of this product is testament to the huge impact that the Dungeon Crawl Classics series has had on the d20 adventure market.

Dungeon Denizens is a good monster book. It's got a great selection of monsters that come out of a great selection of products. There are a lot of interesting critters, some good ideas, and some fantastic artwork and descriptive writing. Barring the fair number of stat block errors in the product and some minor layout quirks, there's really nothing bad to say about it apart from a few 'standard' monsters too many, and not too many new and unique creatures. It's a thoroughly enjoyable product and well worth a look at.


LIKED: Great artwork, good monster variety and selection, interesting monster concepts, good descriptive writing, and generally a good product. If you're a fan of monsters or monster books, then this is worth a look at. DMs and players that regularly use products from the Dungeon Crawl Classics line will look with fondness of the creatures it has created.

DISLIKED: The product still contains a fair number of stat block errors or incorrect mechanics. It's limited, but still present. Otherwise nothing really negative to say about the product.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics Presents: Blackdirge's Dungeon Denizens
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/22/2007 00:00:00
Dungeon Crawl Classics Presents: Blackdirge's Dungeon Denizens is a d20 monster book from Goodman Games. The product is in a zipped file just shy of fifteen megabytes, containing a PDF of the product and what seems to be a PDF interface for Mac operating systems. The book is one hundred twenty-nine pages long, including single pages each for the cover, the credits, the table of contents (which is not hyperlinked) the preface by the author and company owner, as well as for the OGL and an ad for the DCC adventures. There are also full bookmarks present for easy navigating.

BDD has quite a bit of art. The cover is the only instance of full color, but being a monster book, the majority (though not all) of the monsters have a black and white illustration depicting them. The pages have black borders along the top and bottom denoting the monster entry on that page as well as the page number. The lack of a printer-friendly version could be seen as a downside, but if you're printing off individual monsters, it shouldn't be too bad.

There are almost a hundred monsters in Blackdirge's Dungeon Denizens, all from DCC modules or other Goodman Games products. A list of creatures by type is given before the entries themselves, and by the look of it there's a nice spread of creatures here, though there are no fey to be found. The entries themselves have stat blocks in the MM format (rather than the newer format from the DMG2) and entries frequently spill over onto the next page, rather than each one being confined to a page or two exactly. The stats seem well done, but minor errors are present if you go looking for them. The creatures themselves are quite interesting, especially some of the more exotic ones like the new rakshasas, or the daevas. Several (such as the latter two) are based on mythological creatures, and there are brief sidebars mentioning the real-world roots of such monsters.

The first appendix notes creatures by Challenge Rating, and looking it over reveals that the book is fairly heavily slanted towards the lower levels. At CR 10 and above, the number of monsters begins to drop off sharply. There's then an appendix of monsters by environment, where there'll be a quick paragraph about an environment and a listing of monsters from this book that make their home there. Finally, there's a quick note about what monsters can be summoned with summon monster and summon nature?s ally spells.

Blackdirge's Dungeon Denizens does a great job of presenting a wide variety of interesting and challenging new monsters. While it has some areas that it pays less attention to (such as fey or higher-level creatures) it does very well with what it focuses on. The minor errors some entries have are an occupational hazard of monster books, and while this is no exception, there's nothing glaring, making this a solid choice for a book of foes for your PCs.



LIKED: This book has a wide array of interesting new creatures. This book has everything you'd expect from Blackdirge and Goodman Games.

DISLIKED: There are some areas that the book pretty well excludes, such as the lack of fey creatures and the sparse amount of higher-level monsters. Some monsters don't have artwork, though all have a brief description, and some stat errors are there.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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