RPG Reviews – Scarred Lands Creature Collection (Handiwork Games & Onyx Path Publishing)

Scarred Lands Creature Collection (Handiwork Games & Onyx Path Publishing)

Bestiaries are fun! I have very fond memories of repeatedly perusing the Monster Manuals (and later Monstrous Manual) for AD&D 1st and 2nd Edition Monstrous Manual. The best part, of course, being when I found a foe I couldn’t wait to throw at my players next time we met.

The Scarred Lands Creature Collection has a noteworthy history. When D&D 3rd Edition was released and the Open Gaming license became a thing, the original version of this book managed to hit the shelves before the official Monster Manual, providing gamers with a wealth of monsters before D&D could, as well as an introduction to an intriguing new world (See my review of the fifth edition book here). It wasn’t just a generic set of creatures too – there was a good spread of opponents with sufficient utility in the absence of the “generic” book, but with the flavor of the setting.

Handiwork games, with Onyx Path Publishing, released a new version of the core Creature Collection for the Fifth edition of D&D and it meets the standard set by the original. Plenty of foes for use in any D&D game, all with a Scarred Lands flavor.

Among all game reference books, a bestiary should be designed as one of the easiest to get around. In the event of needing to pull together an encounter on-the-fly you’ll want to be able to find something suitable quickly, whether you have access to a search function for a PDF or are flipping physical pages. The Creature Collection does that through a system of icons arranged on the edge of the page for each entry. The example below, the Corpse Whisperer, a Titanspawn race empowered by Belsameth to raise legions of undead, has a Challenge Rating of 4, is a Humanoid, and is typically found in Desert and Forested areas.

(I can’t find the specific artist to credit, but spooky! – illustrations overall were done by Britt Martin, Scott Purdy, Jon Hodgson, Sam Manley)

So that’s a pretty quick and easy way to provide a reference system. In addition there’s an index by Challenge Rating, as well as a standard one, and all entries are listed alphabetically.

The entries themselves cover a wide spread of offerings, from “unredeemed” Titanspawn races, to fearsome undead, cool mechanical constructs, lots of “blood” creatures (a signature of the setting), and some benevolent “adversaries”, like the angelic “Hope” beings. Scarred Lands variants appear for a number of D&D monsters like Gorgons, Hags, Naga, and Golems (including the impressive Mithril Golem), and a series of formidable “Wrack” Dragons – elemental engines of war. Some of these, like the Hags, have unique entries making them more like NPCs than a monster listing. Ranging across all challenge levels, there are adversaries suitable for all tiers of play.

Speaking of NPCs, fans of the setting see a return of the Jack of Tears and the Carnival Krewe, rulers of the Blood Bayou. I wasn’t as thoroughly versed in the setting when it first released, but I was aware of this sinister court. There isn’t a lot of context for them (besides the Jack being the ruler of the Carnival of Shadows and his swamp kingdoms), though that does give the DM a little more freedom with their use.

The layout for the book is quite good, aided by the creature legend, and the artwork is excellent. Entries range from the awesome to the grotesque, each depicted beautifully.

There’s also a series of 8 encounters (complete with maps), designed to make use of the denizens of this book. They cover a spread of challenges for 1st to 18th level characters, with suggestions on how to drop them into your game.

Overall, the Scarred Lands Creature Collection is a solid set of intriguing and fun opponents to throw into any setting, bringing the dark heavy metal fantasy flavor of the Scarred Lands with them.

You can delve into this tome of terrors and unearth it in traditional offset print at IndiePressRevolution and by following the Affiliate links below to help support this site!

DriveThruRPG (PDF and Print-On-Demand)

One thought on “RPG Reviews – Scarred Lands Creature Collection (Handiwork Games & Onyx Path Publishing)

  1. Pingback: RPG Reviews – The Vigil Watch (Scarred Lands) | The Tabletop Almanac

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