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Monster Menagerie: Oceans of Blood (PFRPG) PDF

***( )( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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Welcome to Oceans of Blood, the sixth in our line of monster books called Monster Menagerie. Each volume in this line presents a small set of monsters tied to a single theme, but spread over a range of CRs. For Oceans of Blood, the theme is threats of the sea, with an emphasis on monsters that bite, tear, and rend. Author Sam Hing has created aquatic adversaries ranging from the mindless CR 1 harpoon weed and razor shoal to the incomprehensible CR 14 anemone behemoth, with enough surprises in-between to spice up seaborne adventures of any level.

Oceangoing adventures have a long and famous history in adventure stories, from the Greek legends of the Odyssey or Jason and the Argonauts to the modern terrors of Poseidon Adventure and Jaws. Adventures at sea are often rife with exploration and horror, likely because the sea was the best known "final frontier" for centuries, representing a place in which you could get lost easily, find new things, or get killed just for visiting. We are creatures of the land, and the threats of the sea are always going to be a little stranger, and thus more frightening because of that.

GMs can find it difficult to simulate that fear in a roleplaying game setting where fireballs are common and raise dead is an option (although reading and enforcing the rules for stealth and detection underwater as well as underwater combat in Chapter 13: The Environment of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook is a good start). This is especially true for experienced players, who can identify an aboleth from a single vague sentence and quote the differences between merfolk and sahuagin by heart. So more than any environment, the untold depths of the vast oceans are begging to be inhabited by new, strange, and (for player and character alike) previously unknown threats that can get fear flowing once more. And that's enough to make any GM smile.

We're confident that you'll find something useful in this, our sixth Monster Menagerie. We have chummed the pages to draw out the nastiest of swimming slayers, and they're ready to make your players afraid to go back to the beach. Dive in, and see how warm the red waters are.

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Product Reviews (3)

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***( )( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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Subpar aquatic monstrosities

**( )( )( )

This installment of SGG's Mythic Menagerie is 12 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD/editorial, leaving 10 pages of content for new aquatic monsters, so let's check them out, shall we?

After the obligatory one page introducing us to the matter at hand, we already get a truly disturbing creature as a kick off - the CR 14 humanoid, huge Anemone Behemoth comes with deadly abilities as well as a disturbing concept. Strange, lethal and unmovable, these titans shamble across the sea's floor, immovable by tides and foes, following unknowable designs. Neat!

The next creature, the Dracopus, is a prime example of "whacky combination creature", combining a draconic head and a huge octopus body as well as the signature abilities of the base creatures: Jet and breath weapon. An ok critter, I guess, but nothing to truly write home about.

On the waves drift the CR 1 Harpoon Weeds, tangles of seaweed that shoot harpoon-like tendrils via bubbles of compressed air at anything coming too near. I like the carnivorous plant that can be harvested for silk-like ropes.

The CR 6 Lashray is another magical beast of the "rather weird"-category - 6 lashes with 6 different kinds of toxins are sported by the ray-like creatures - even though the idea of adding poisonous tentacles to a ray is not too exciting, I like the signature ability enough to consider using the creature.

The CR 2 small Piranha-men come with blood-frenzy, but are rather bland. Nothing about them is truly distinct. Just another race of evil, bloodthirsty aquatic humanoids - next.

The CR 1 Razor Shoal-swarm that cuts foes to ribbons by swimming around them. I've already seen this idea several times before and their implementations felt more exciting in another release.

The CR 4 Sarcophagus Clam is a neat idea: A carnivorous clam that hunts via using its tendril and crushing foes in its dread embrace - especially due to the fact that contrary to many other "Swallow Whole"-creatures, no weapon can cut you from its embrace - a DC 30 Str-check is the only way apart from the clams demise to rescue its victims. I sincerely applaud this design decision as well as the fact that no grapple check or similar shenanigans help you escape from its dread confines.

The CR 11 Toothwraith on the other hand, is rather lame in my opinion: The ghost of a supreme predator, it uses its jaws as a focus and telekinetically tries to consume its foes as it did in life, reappearing a ghostly outlines of its once resplendent predator's grace. When compared to a certain golem from Engines of Destruction, this one feels rather bland.

The final new creature is the elemental Wave Horse, which clocks in at CR 7 - its signature ability, drawing a crushing wave in its wake, is not precisely worded, though: While it mentions how the wave hits its foes, as written it is not entirely clear how said attack is handled.

Editing and formatting once again are only ok - the minor glitches that have haunted the Mythic Menagerie-line are once again present in this installment. Layout adheres to the 2-column-standard. It should be noted that the pdf does not have any bookmarks and that the artwork, usually quite neat in the line, this pdf's artwork is rather subpar.

While some of the creatures in this pdf are ok, most are either a bit whacky or not too exciting - while I usually enjoyed at least some of the creatures in the line and considered some downright brilliant, this spark is absent from this installment of the line. The only creatures I really liked was the Anemone Behemoth and the Sarcophagus Clam and both were not as awesome as e.g. the Erlking from Goblinoids.
Seeing that I can't find true reasons to recommend this pdf content-wise, taking the editing glitches into account and that the wave horse's signature ability is rather unclear in its wording, my final verdict will be 2 stars - other installments of the line are better.

Endzeitgeist out.

A decent collection of undersea creatures

****( )

Mythic Menagerie: Oceans of Blood by Super Genius Games

This product is 12 pages long. It starts with a cover and forward. (2 pages)

Creatures (9 pages)
This book is about sea monsters. Following is a list of the creatures with in. Each one has a full stat block and black and white art.
Anemone Behemoth – CR 14, a headless tentacle aberration.
Dracopus – CR12, kinda a T-Rex, squid thing.
Harpoon Weed – CR 1, a weird floating plant thing
Lashray – CR6, a tentacled stingray fish.
Piranha-Man – CR2, small sized piranha-Man humanoids that travel in packs.
Razor Shoal – CR1, fish whose fins are razor sharp
Sarcophagus Claim – CR4, giant claims that swallow things whole that come in range.
Toothwraith – CR11, undead predator jaws.
Wave Horse – CR7, elemental water horse.

It ends with a credits and OGL. (1 pages)

Closing thoughts. The art work is black and white, it ranges from ok to pretty good. Layout and editing was well done. The monsters within the book are ok. None of them are bad but then I didn't think any was great either. The Toothwraith was a bit odd in how it was drawn, just floating jaws. The rest where all decent. In addition some of the mechanics for the monsters where not as clear as they could or should have been. So what's my rating? Well I find myself reading this and mostly go, ok that’s decent, or that’s ok. Nothing really grabbed me though. If you are running a undersea adventure or campaign it is worth the price to pick it up. I decided to give this a 3 ½ star. I almost gave it a 3 but felt it was a bit better than a 3.

Trust me, I'm a Succubus.

Clever monsters, some fiddly mechanics and a worrying piece of art

***( )( )

Although I wouldn't necessarily call myself a huge fan of the Mythic Menagerie series, I do certainly enjoy them. And since I've written a review of each of them I've read so far, I thought it only fitting to write a review of their newest offering, Oceans of Blood.

The Good: Oceans of Blood contains monsters in the theme of aquatic adventures, which is highly appreciated. Aquatic monsters tend to be somewhat same-y, so there's a nice variety on display. My favorite monsters here were the anemone behemoth, which has a Lovecraftian feeling (they are barely intelligent, but arrange stone plinths in bizarre patterns across the ocean floor) and the toothwraith (a ghostly shark that swallows its victims whole and suspends them telekinetically in its ectoplasmic mass while draining their energy).

The piranha-men are suitable for freshwater, which was a pleasant surprise. I would have appreciated more freshwater critters, though.

Core mechanics are as fine as they've been in the Mythic Menagerie series. Everything has the proper Hit Dice, skill points, feats and seems like it'd be an appropriate challenge for the CR, which has been a problem in previous releases.

The Bad: Unfortunately, some of the spotlight mechanics, the unique abilities that make a new monster interesting, are either weird or just plain don't work. Why can't you grapple your way out of a sarcophagous clam? Should breaking out of the shell do some damage to it, or reduce its AC? And why can't you attack the shell with a bludgeoning weapon? The wave horse's spotlight mechanic is that a wave follows behind it, and does more damage the more wave horses follow (inspired by Fellowship of the Ring, perhaps?). The problem is that it isn't made clear how a wave horse hits an opponent with the wave (trample?), how far the wave extends or how long it lasts. As such, the creature is kind of unusable.

My last problem isn't with the writing so much as it is the art. The art here is the weakest I've seen yet in the Mythic Menagerie line. Which isn't a huge problem--art is subjective, after all. What is a problem is plagarism. The cover beast, the dracopus, clearly has its head stolen from paleo-artist Todd Marshall's depiction of a Dimetrodon, as seen here. Same head shape, same angled eye sockets, same tooth array and the kink in the upper jaw, everything. That's not cool. That's not legal. Reference is one thing, but that's outright theft.

The Nit-picky: There's some editing errors that could have been caught with another editorial pass. Missing periods, a character becoming invalid in the piranhaman's critical entry, that sort of thing.

Final Thoughts: I really did like Oceans of Blood; the text was probably my favorite of the line so far. So why am I giving it only three stars, when I gave Engines of Destruction four? Two words: art theft. I feel like I need to send a message, and that message is: dump that artist and get someone who doesn't plagiarize art they found on the Internet. Gift Certificates
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