It’s always difficult to review a book that’s a revision of an earlier incarnation. It brings up the question as to whether you should review the new book on its own merits, or try and compare it to the previous version to see how it has been improved. With the revised version of this incarnation of Blackdyrge’s Bestiary, I’m going to try to do both, pointing out what it has, and what’s different from the original.
Blackdyrge’s Bestiary: Terrors of the Under Realm (Revised) is downloaded in a zip folder just over eleven megabytes in size. Only a single PDF of the book is found therein. The book itself is thirty-one pages long, seven pages longer than the older version. It also has bookmarks where the other one did not, and all of the creatures are in the new stat block format (from the DMG II).
The book is fairly generous with its artwork. The cover is the only instance of full color art in the book, but there’s at least a single piece of art for each new creature covered, as well as a few supplementary pieces. Grey page borders are found along the top and bottom of every page, giving basic information about the book (its author, the title, etc). Overall, it shouldn’t be too much trouble to print out, but a printer-friendly version might have been nice.
The book opens with an all-new piece from Blackdyrge himself, describing a creature new to the revision: the writher. Quite a bit of coverage is given to this evil race of centipede-taurs, along with a low-level NPC. After this comes a venomous troglodyte, complete with the venomous template. The undead choker is now a dread ghoul, rather than a greater ghoul. Then comes the half-fiendish mephit blackguard with the sentient weapon, followed by the half-dragon behir. And the crowing monster of the bunch remains the huge otyugh; this one has undergone a fairly substantial revision, and while the CR remains the same as it was, this creature is now size Titanic (the size above Colossal), and has a few unique abilities, making it far more massive than its previous Gargantuan incarnation. Sadly, Blackdyrge’s commentary on the massive creature has been deleted from the revised version. The original book then presented the rot wasp swarm, which is what rot grubs pupate into, and then ended. The new version presents the swarm, but also reprints the information on the rot grub hazard. It also reprints the dread ghoul and gigantic templates, which is a nice touch.
The revised version of Terrors of the Under Realm is unquestionably greater than the old version. While a few things have been lost or changed, much more has been gained. From a new monster, to the conveniently reprinted templates, to simple editing and errata, this is in every way a superior product. If you never owned the original, then this is a very nice book to get if you want a slew of underground foes, with CRs ranging from 2 to 25 for your heroes. Blackdyrge’s new bestiary is an even better tome for a GM looking to bedevil his players.