The Genius Guide to Gruesome Dragons (PFRPG) PDF

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Gruesome is Good!

Dragons are incredibly dangerous threats, but their very popularity robs them of suspense. They fly, they have breath weapons, and you don’t want to get caught next to one when it full attacks.

The idea behind gruesome dragons is to make them more interesting for players and GMs. Rather than face yet another color-coded dragon encounter, the players find themselves facing a plague dragon capable of ending civilizations, or skittering draconic ambush predators obsessed with building the perfect adventurer trap. Gruesome dragons have uncanny appearances, smells, and sounds that makes them more frightening to even veteran characters.

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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This massive supplement clocks in at 53 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page editorial, leaving us with a more than solid 49 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, in case you're not are - gruesome monsters in Rogue Genius Games' terminology point towards templates that can be applied to creatures, usually of a certain type - here, dragons. (D'unh!) These templates sport a fear-rating mechanic called shock value, which, while optional, make them especially useful for gritty/horror games. Better yet (and even more crucial) - the gruesome creatures sport knowledge check-modifications to glean information on the creatures AND reward players that fight smart/do their homework - for gruesome creatures may be exceedingly powerful, but they also sport one or more weaknesses that help dealing with them. Coming from a background of hardcore Ravenloft-DMing, this particular design philosophy is very near and dear to my heart. It should also be noted that each template herein comes with a sample creature, all ready for direct insertion into your home game.

That being said, what exactly can one expect from such an array of dragons? Well, first of all - templates. Lots of them. And unlike quite a few I've seen over the years, these come with quite an array of interesting special offensive/defensive abilities to set the creatures apart. Take the very first dragon herein, the acrid dragon. Striking these fellows with a slashing or piercing weapon damages the weapon - which is damn cool! I just wished the template wouldn't use the wobbly "energy damage" as a terminology and instead settled for, I don't know, force or just remain untyped. Yes, a nitpick, but a glitch nonetheless. Also, a glitch that extends to the elemental aura, which, while 100% obvious in what it means, also falls prey to this. Now don't get me wrong, this template remains very much operable and working...but it still technically could have been slightly more concise. (And yes, this is officially nitpick-land...beware, rabid spirits of the end-times a-roaming'...)

This is especially odd since the added energy damage to regular attacks follows proper wording procedures and aligns its bonus damage in an unmistakable way with the breath weapon's energy type. Same goes for the death-detonation these creatures emit when destroyed - once again, the wording here is airtight. Now at this point, you'll realize another nice trick of the templates - following the size-progression of dragons, gruesome dragons of certain sizes receive additional, particularly nasty tricks to pull off - here, we'd receive an aura that automatically ruins potions et. al. (With a save for attended objects, but still...OUCH - I love it!) On the weakness-side, these dragons LACK a breath-weapon...which makes combat against them a whole different deal.

Of course, the iconic bone dragons can be found herein as well - including channel resistance, phylactery, resting in scattered form (including rapid autohealing and yes, telekinetic control over bones...on the downside, the lack of scales also deprives these creatures of energy immunities... Brittle dragons also are rather interesting - afflicted by constant growth of their bony protrusions, these dragons have fast healing, but at the same time, their rampant, out of control growth makes their bones fragile. Oh, and teeth/claws breaking off in wounds are NOT healthy for the recipients. Worse, at higher levels, their fragility extends to quite a few other beings within their aura...

What can be worse than a dragon? For anyone with arachnophobia (and a large number of people exhibit this...), the drachnid would serve as an excellent answer. A terrifying (and lavishly-illustrated) example of nastiness, these beings not only receive custom spell-like abilities, they also add a web to their breath.- Yeah, nasty...but perhaps you can use their cruelty and unwillingness to go for a quick kill to your advantage. Well, you better should, for these foes are capital D deadly.

Ether dragons take the planar highjacking/near ethereal battles to a whole different level - and anyone who has ever run an ethereal filcher with class level against PCs knows how deadly that strategy can be for the unprepared. Now think "dragon." Yeah, these guys WILL frighten your PCs.

Not enough? Would you rather have something...mythic? Well, know how dragons are incredibly arrogant? It should come as no surprise that the false god, a particularly nasty example of the draconic ilk, can draw power from its followers' fanaticism - and grant their believers a part of their power. if played right, these dragons can be utterly fearsome. Two thumbs up!

What would have happened if a certain Dr Victor F. had access to draconic corpses? Well, the fleshwired dragon would be the answer to that. And you thought regular flesh golems were bad news. Oh, and yes, using their asymmetric nature against them may prove your melee guys' one chance of survival...nasty indeed! Compared to that, the glutton dragon feels pretty straight-forward. Hermit dragons are not necessarily solitary old coots - they are afflicted by something that destroys their scales, requiring them to graft pieces of armor to their flesh. Hoarder dragons on the other hand tend to accumulate...everything, creating deadly lairs where conditions not only are unsanitary, but where the debris cluttering everything might actually be used against the PCs.

Truly frightful would also be the mind-collectors -dragons that obsess over living minds and endeavor to capture them within their gems, leaving comatose shells of their victims...an obsession smart adventurers can turn against the draconic threat. Still, personally, for a me a particularly creepy concept. Plagued dragons once again can be considered harbingers of exactly what's on the lid - plagues. Nasty and pretty iconic would be the spawnwyrm - clad in a shroud of defensive eggs, these beings can unleash swarms of deadly spawns while being at the same time utterly overprotective. These things make for a great way to insert a sense of the alien and inhumane into the context of dragons and explore a very interesting frame of mind that is distinctly non-mammalian.

Want MORE? Well, what about no less than 5 new dragon types, so-called abhorrent dragons? These beings have a certain, slightly Lovecraftian vibe and are theme-wise just as nasty as their monikers suggest - aberrant, breeder, destructive, corruptive, maddening. They come with 3 sample statblocks each as well as full draconic age-category progression...and you know me. I love nasty dragons. I love well-executed Lovecraftiana...and you gotta love dragons with decadence-auras or those that can spontaneously birth aberrations...right? Right!

The last 4 pages of the pdf are devoted to various new spells, with 6 progressively stronger means of animating a hoard to better flight, tighter, missile-like breath (to avoid killing allies...for example) to transferring your breath weapon to a creature, which not only is rent asunder by it, but also serves as the focus point for it...can I hear "false god gambit"? Yes. What about a spell that keeps a target alive, in order to allow the dragon to paralyze foes longer? Flensing foes? Automatic undead-ification of the next foe you slay? What about a spell that allows your next grapple to deal 10 x caster level force damage? Yeah, ouch! These spells are powerful and worthy of dragons...I'm not sure I'd allow them for PCs (or dragon PCs, for that matter, if you're using In the Company of Dragons or the Dracomancer...), but as nasty BBEG-spells...heck yeah, they work!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty tight, though not perfect - I noticed a couple of instances where yours truly could nitpick specific wordings, as demonstrated in the beginning of the review. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column standard in full-color, with plenty of downright GORGEOUS artworks on par with the cover. The art does not adhere to a uniform style, though - we also receive some nice Jacob Blackmon originals (love your work!) as well as a few CGI-models (which personally, I don't like as much). The pdf comes with excessive, nested bookmarks.

The Four Horsemen have crafted a great supplement of truly nasty draconic templates here. The design decisions, more often than not, have at least one unique, far-out ability, an interesting tactical option or something I haven't seen in a d20-based draconic variant - which is to say something. Now yes, some classics like the bone dragon, the eats-all-dragon etc. are less inspired, are representations of tropes that have been done before...but the sheer fact that the pdf managed to bring up some ideas I haven't seen before is worth quite a bit in my book. Is the pdf perfect? No, but it *is* rather inspiring. I ADORE the false god-template (which I'll develop further with Legendary Games' supplements) and it provides an excellent bang for buck ratio. I always value creativity over mechanical perfection and quite honestly, this pdf is pretty awesome in both regards, though the latter imho could have used some slight finetuning. Still, this represents a great resource for DMs seeking to make their dragons frightening again AND reward their players for intelligent fighting. And I *really*, really like that. AND, while not all templates herein are absolutely mind-blowing, some constitute the coolest templates I've seen in any non-Rite Publishing-book. The Book of Monster Templates still is one of THE staples in my own home game. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval - these dragons are just too cool!

Endzeitgeist out.


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Any chance of getting a basic list of just what the templates are in this PDF? It certainly sounds nice and creepy from the title.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Eric Hinkle wrote:
Any chance of getting a basic list of just what the templates are in this PDF? It certainly sounds nice and creepy from the title.

Sure!

In fact, here's a quick rundown of everything in this 50+ page book!

Dragon Templates:
Acrid Dragon
Bone Dragon
Brittle Dragon
Drachnid
Ether Dragon
False God
Fleshwired
Glutton
Hermit Dragon
Hoarder
Mind Collector
Plagued
Spawnwyrm

Abhorrent Dragons (full dragon races):
Aberrant
Breeder
Corruptive
Destructive
Maddening

New Spells:
Animate Hoard I-VI
As the Wind
Ballistic Breath
Dragon Senses
Draconic Eruption
Feline's Mercy
Flensing
Flensing, Mass
Murder's Claim
Pilferer's Path
Pulp
Scales of the Ancient
Swift Breath


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Owen KC Stephens wrote:
Drachnid

...that...that can't be what I think it is right? That sounds horrifying.

Welp this is on the to buy list. My players are going to hate me though.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

If you think a drachnid has eight legs, webs, and a breath weapon.... then yeah it's what you think!


Have some questions about the maddening dragons breath weapon. What kind of damage does it deal? And what is mental damage?


We are really proud of the drachnid and other dragon templates. You're right to be horrified.

I want to remind everyone that the Four Horsemen maintain a commitment to add extra free content for every book that gets sales support. We've already added a group of variant half-dragon templates to reflect the addition of abhorrent dragons to the game. Want to play a Lovecraft-style half-dragon? Buy the book and send us a message on our Facebook page.

Thanks for your support, and feel free to ask questions or let us know what you'd like to see next from the Four Horsemen!


Pestilence was on his game when we worked on Gruesome Dragons. He beat down a bout with insomnia by outlining the abhorrent dragons in one night.

Abhorrent dragons are extra-dimensional horrors native to far realms and bizarre in their appearance and structure. Though mortals perceive them as draconic in form, they are very different and frustrate a lot of normal expectations when it comes to dragons.

A great example of this is the maddening dragon's breath weapon. It operates like an old school psychic crush, dealing hit point damage as the mind grapples with what it sees. But the realization of the nightmare causes an additional effect. Anyone who fails a Will save (yes...a breath weapon with a Will save) takes full damage as a mind-affecting effect, but is also emotionally drained by the effect, so they suffer a penalty similar to crushing despair.

More teases this week...but trust me when I say this book sets the tone for the kind of work we want to do. Something for GMs and players, and something to take any campaign in a new direction.


Any tempalte to have non spellcasting?


Four Horsemen—Famine wrote:

I want to remind everyone that the Four Horsemen maintain a commitment to add extra free content for every book that gets sales support. We've already added a group of variant half-dragon templates to reflect the addition of abhorrent dragons to the game. Want to play a Lovecraft-style half-dragon? Buy the book and send us a message on our Facebook page.

I bought the book but I don't do facebook. I would like to play as a Lovecraftian half dragon though.


Four Horsemen—Famine wrote:

Pestilence was on his game when we worked on Gruesome Dragons. He beat down a bout with insomnia by outlining the abhorrent dragons in one night.

Abhorrent dragons are extra-dimensional horrors native to far realms and bizarre in their appearance and structure. Though mortals perceive them as draconic in form, they are very different and frustrate a lot of normal expectations when it comes to dragons.

A great example of this is the maddening dragon's breath weapon. It operates like an old school psychic crush, dealing hit point damage as the mind grapples with what it sees. But the realization of the nightmare causes an additional effect. Anyone who fails a Will save (yes...a breath weapon with a Will save) takes full damage as a mind-affecting effect, but is also emotionally drained by the effect, so they suffer a penalty similar to crushing despair.

More teases this week...but trust me when I say this book sets the tone for the kind of work we want to do. Something for GMs and players, and something to take any campaign in a new direction.

And thanks for answering my question about the maddening dragon.


Nico...we thought about that, but dragons are totally magical creatures, and to totally rob them of spellcasting seems strange.

However...we are almost finished with a new book for Rogue Genius Games called the Talented Bestiary. This book provides an alternative system for creating any creature you like from the ground up. If you want an advanced drider who specializes in reach weapons or a dragon with amazing combat features but no spellcasting ability, you will be able to make them quickly, and the system balances abilities for you. The math in the system is excellent, so anyone with that book will be able to create encounters that do anything they want given a certain CR, and with a little practice, you'll be able to do it quickly.

I'll promise that if the book reaches a certain milestone, we'll get you a template that strips spellcasting in exchange for something....awful.

Strongblade: send me a PM with your email address and I'll have Pestilence give you access to the in-progress free content document.


Four Horsemen—Famine wrote:
Strongblade: send me a PM with your email address and I'll have Pestilence give you access to the in-progress free content document.

Thanks and sent

Sovereign Court

OO OO OO This sounds interesting.....


Go get it, Malikjoker! I've handed out links to our free content document several times already today. That's a really good deal for $3!


Aleron wrote:
Owen KC Stephens wrote:
Drachnid

...that...that can't be what I think it is right? That sounds horrifying.

Welp this is on the to buy list. My players are going to hate me though.

The drachnid does demand attention on name alone. We're glad you're intrigued!


Owen KC Stephens wrote:
If you think a drachnid has eight legs, webs, and a breath weapon.... then yeah it's what you think!

...as if spiders couldn't get any worse...


Cheapy wrote:
Owen KC Stephens wrote:
If you think a drachnid has eight legs, webs, and a breath weapon.... then yeah it's what you think!
...as if spiders couldn't get any worse...

Yeah, when you can take this and give it flight and a breath weapon, it's time to go home.

I just bought this, and the drachnid makes me want to make my players cry.


Readerbreeder wrote:
...the drachnid makes me want to make my players cry.

It'll get the job done. If you want to ramp the crazy up a few notches, build an encounter that pairs a drachnid's web-filled deathtrap with a hermit dragon who lures victims to the drachnid so it can scavenge skins from the kills.


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Four Horsemen—Death wrote:
an encounter that pairs a drachnid's web-filled deathtrap with a hermit dragon who lures victims to the drachnid so it can scavenge skins from the kills.

O_o ... Ooooh, I like you!


I try not to play favorites, but I do love the drachnid.

As Famine mentioned, we are offering free content for people purchasing the product. A fan requested half-dragon variant templates based off the gruesome dragons. As of the moment we've thrown together some for the drachnid, the false god, the fleshwired, the glutton, and the plagued. We've also included a linnorm half-dragon, and a variant for the abhorrent dragons.

If you pick up a copy of the book, just PM us or message us on Facebook and we’ll send you a link to the google document! It’s an in-progress effort, so we’ll continue to add templates and make edits as time goes on.

As a sample, here is the drachnid half-dragon variant (unless otherwise noted, the variant gains all of the abilities of the half-dragon template)…

Drachnid Half-Dragon
Sometimes a drachnid dragon becomes so amused by prey that they keep it alive as a pet. The one-sided relationship can result in drachnid half-dragons. These unfortunate creatures are raised by their monstrous parent through constant torture, and it amuses drachnids to pit spawn against each other. A rare few half-dragons might manage to escape the drachnid’s lair, but never without great sacrifice.

Special Qualities and Defenses: The drachnid half-dragon does not gain any immunity to energy damage.

Speed: A drachnid half-dragon possesses a set of arachnid-like limbs that grant a climb speed equal to the base creature’s land speed. This ability replaces the half-dragon’s wings and fly speed.

Melee: A drachnid half-dragon gains the rend special ability when successfully striking with two claw attacks. The rend attack deals damage equal to the half-dragon’s claw attack plus 1-1/2 the half-dragon’s Strength bonus. This ability replaces the half-dragon’s bite attack.

Special Abilities: A drachnid half-dragon retains all of the special attacks of the base creature and gains a breath attack that acts as the web spell, except it affects a 30-foot cone, and is usable once per day (Reflex negates; 10 + ½ creature’s HD + creature’s Con modifier). This ability replaces the half-dragon’s breath weapon.

Trapfinding: A drachnid half-dragon learns to avoid traps as soon as they begin walking, or they never reach adulthood. The Perception and Disable Device skills are treated as class skills, and the creature adds ½ its racial HD as a bonus to these skill checks. The creature can use Disable Device to disarm magic traps.

Abilities: Increase from the base creature as follows: Str +2, Dex +6, Con +4, Int +6. These ability modifications replace the half-dragon ability modifications.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

If you liked Gruesome Dragons, you probably want to take a look at Gruesome Giants! It just received a Five Star review from Endzeitgeist!


Forgot to mention I got this and it is definitely worth the price! You get a lot of fun critters and templates that really inspire the imagination!


Thanks for your support, Aleron! Now get out there and flense somebody!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek, GMS magazine and posted here and on OBS and on d20pfsrd.com's shop!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

That's one heck of a review, End. Thanks for reminding me about this PDF, I'd actually forgotten that I bought it!


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Thanks, Eric. I'll have another Dragon toolkit coming this week as well. Combined, these two have become pretty much the staple for my dragon-builds.


I am starting an Underdark campaign that will feature Drow as the main antagonist, and having a Drachnid Dragon just sounds so cool for the Matron Mother of the House, and some of her high level subordinates.

Question, as these are templates, is there a minimum Dragon Age Category that they are intended for?

Can I have a CR 8 or 9 Earth Dragon add the Drachnid template? A CR 14 or 15? Are the templates "upgradeable" depending on the base dragon level?

Can I mix templates?

thanks, -- david


Drow-raised drachnid sounds perfect.

None of the templates require a minimum age category specifically, but some have other requirements, such as having a breath weapon, or being of Large size or larger. The size requirement will factor in to age categories, as some dragons of a given age will qualify and others will not.

Drachnid specifically does not have a size restriction.

As far as mixing templates, the GM's discretion is generally the rule on that one. Some make sense to be able to mix (a brittle dragon could be skinned by adventurers and somehow survive, only to become a hermit as well). Bottom line, if the resulting monster is awesome and your players will fear or love it, fire it up.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Endzeitgeist wrote:
Thanks, Eric. I'll have another Dragon toolkit coming this week as well. Combined, these two have become pretty much the staple for my dragon-builds.

Thanks for the review Endzeitgeist! I'm especially thrilled you loved the false god!

Also just as a reminder we are offering free content (half-dragon templates inspired by the book for PCs) as a thank you to anybody who picks up a copy. So just comment here or private message me and I'll send a link!


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And purchased, and the Drachnid read.

Oh my players are gonna hate you!!!!

-- david


DM Papa.DRB wrote:

And purchased, and the Drachnid read.

Oh my players are gonna hate you!!!!

-- david

Thank you DM Papa.DRB! You should have a link to the gruesome half-dragon variants in your inbox!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Four Horsemen — Pestilence wrote:
DM Papa.DRB wrote:

And purchased, and the Drachnid read.

Oh my players are gonna hate you!!!!

-- david

Thank you DM Papa.DRB! You should have a link to the gruesome half-dragon variants in your inbox!

Cool, and thank you !

I am running a PbP on this site, and they are going to run into some half-dragons later in the campaign, and being able to personalize them will make a big difference.

-- david


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Endzeitgeist wrote:
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek, GMS magazine and posted here and on OBS and on d20pfsrd.com's shop!

As always, thanks for the review End!


Question about the free stuff: how long does the offer last? I have seen this offered with other products as well but I have not yet purchased them. Will I still be able to get the freebies at a later date?


Bob_Loblaw wrote:
Question about the free stuff: how long does the offer last? I have seen this offered with other products as well but I have not yet purchased them. Will I still be able to get the freebies at a later date?

No time limit on the offer! Just PM me if it is an older product!


Thanks! I am strapped for cash right now as I'm preparing for surgery in the next few months but after that I'm going to need something to add to my gaming repertoire.


I purchased this back on nov 5th but didn't read this thread til now any chance of getting the free stuff you all got me some nice free stuff for the construct book a week or so ago and thank you for it I love all your stuff I own a lot of it. :)


ladydragona wrote:

I purchased this back on nov 5th but didn't read this thread til now any chance of getting the free stuff you all got me some nice free stuff for the construct book a week or so ago and thank you for it I love all your stuff I own a lot of it. :)

You should have the link in your inbox! Thank you for your support and kind words! =)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

A great book full of crazy evil dragons. I purchased this over on dtrpg, might I get a link to the free expansion content?


Four Horsemen—Famine wrote:

Nico...we thought about that, but dragons are totally magical creatures, and to totally rob them of spellcasting seems strange.

However...we are almost finished with a new book for Rogue Genius Games called the Talented Bestiary. This book provides an alternative system for creating any creature you like from the ground up. If you want an advanced drider who specializes in reach weapons or a dragon with amazing combat features but no spellcasting ability, you will be able to make them quickly, and the system balances abilities for you. The math in the system is excellent, so anyone with that book will be able to create encounters that do anything they want given a certain CR, and with a little practice, you'll be able to do it quickly.

I'll promise that if the book reaches a certain milestone, we'll get you a template that strips spellcasting in exchange for something....awful.

Did this happened?


Talented Bestiary is still in process, but it has not yet come out.


Owen KC Stephens wrote:
Talented Bestiary is still in process, but it has not yet come out.

What about more talented classes?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Rosita the Riveter wrote:
Owen KC Stephens wrote:
Talented Bestiary is still in process, but it has not yet come out.
What about more talented classes?

Talented bard and talented witch both have drafts, which are just waiting for me to find time to develop them and send them off to editing. Since I am currently on the 8th of Grinduary (25 8-or-more-hour workdays in a row), it strikes me unlikely that's going to happen before Halloween at the earliest.


Yukigono wrote:
A great book full of crazy evil dragons. I purchased this over on dtrpg, might I get a link to the free expansion content?

Absolutely! It should be in your inbox now, and thank you for your purchase!

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