Behind the Monsters: Bulette is a short 7 page d20 pdf product and the third in Tricky Owlbear Publishing's new Behind the Monsters series of products. Those familiar with Bret Boyd's Behind the Spells series from Ronin Arts and Tricky Owlbear Publishing will no doubt be familiar with the idea behind this series of products. Each product in the Behind the Monsters series details the history, creation and background of a particular monster, and includes new variants and rules based on the particular monster. This product features the bulette, or landshark, and is written by Mike Ferguson, with illustrations by Rick Hershey. The product is compatible with the revised d20 core rules.
The product comes as a single pdf file, complete with a useful set of bookmarks. The product follows a design and layout similar to other products in the Behind the Monsters series, and indeed similar to the Behind the Spells series (originally written by Tricky Owlbear Publishing's owner, Bret Boyd). Layout features a simple two-column format with a title page and introduction, followed by the content of the pdf. Two pieces of good black and white art are included, one featuring the narrator of the pdf, Jadrin Nelv, and the other a bulette. The editing, writing and mechanics of the new material are all good. A good job for a short pdf, particularly the inclusion of the art, and the solid layout and mechanics.
This product describes the creation and origin of the bulette, also known as the landshark. The bulette is a burrowing predator, aggressive and always hungry, living only for the kill and the taste of meat. In this pdf the narrator, Jadrin Nelv, a monk of the Order of the Sacred Branch who teaches about monsters and their ecologies, describes the origin of the bulette, and provides a number of additional useful pieces of information, including a new monster and a new spell. The origin tale tells how an aquatic elf sorcerer, in his desire to have vengeance on the land-based elven races, created a creature that would be both terrifying, powerful and aggressive. He succeeded, creating the bulettes, but failed to control them, and hence unleashing them on the world. The tale is interesting, and incorporates nicely all the aspects of the bulette into the story, such as why it is called the landshark, why it is aggressive and lives the way it does, and other aspects of the creature. There is an individual table of Knowledge checks related to the bulette, that incorporates the information in this product, and allows PCs to know more about the creature they encounter.
The next section deals with encountering bulettes, and provides some useful tips on tactics and spells that can be used when facing a bulette. This is mostly additional rules information not contained in the description of the bulette monster itself, and expands nicely on some of the ideas in the product, while giving PCs a few more options when facing this dangerous creature. The pdf also details a new spell, bulette strike, and provides details of a new monster, the maglette swarm. This swarm is a land-based version of the piranha - like the bulette is the landshark, so this swarm is the equivalent of the deadly piranha.
Overall, I enjoyed this pdf. The concept behind it is very good, and the material provided gives the DM and the players something more regarding a creature they may encounter. This provides a more complete world-view to any campaign story, turning creatures encountered into more than just an encounter, but also a myth or a legend. The information can easily be incorporated into a campaign world, as, for example, a bard's tale in a tavern. The new spell is useful, and the maglette swarm will provide an interesting and unusual challenge to a group of PCs. A good pdf, an interesting read, useful material, and a good taster of what's to come in the rest of the series.