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The Lazy GM: Dungeon Beasts $21.99 $9.99
Average Rating:4.7 / 5
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The Lazy GM: Dungeon Beasts
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The Lazy GM: Dungeon Beasts
Publisher: Creative Conclave
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/04/2009 20:24:22
Even before I started reviewing Creative Conclave’s work, I knew that their “Lazy GM” series of books was aptly named. It’s not that GM’s are an inherently lazy bunch, but rather, the amount of work that any given GM has to do for even a single adventure is strenuous at best. Even if you’re running a pre-generated adventure, it’s no picnic to prepare and run, and if you’re running an original adventure, well…you’ve got your work cut out for you. Nowhere is that more true with making appropriate encounters. After all, the d20 System allows for incredible flexibility when advancing or otherwise altering monsters, but you better be prepared to sit down and work out the math in painstaking detail…for each creature. Here, however, Create Conclave saves GMs from such burnout with their Dungeon Beasts product, covering a rather wide variety of monsters from the SRD.

Here, we find forty monsters are presented, none of which are humanoids of any basic sort (that is, don’t expect to see trolls or giants here). Each creature has a series of variant stat blocks; all have advanced nature Hit Dice presented, and then various combinations of templates, class levels, and/or size alterations (and, sometimes, natural Hit Dice advancement in conjunction with one of these). There’s no particular rhyme or reason, that I could see at least, for how these latter sections go. Some creatures got skeleton and zombie templates applied, others had fighter levels, some had advanced Hit Dice with the half-dragon template, etc. The variety is enough so that even if you don’t find something exactly like what you’re looking for here, you’ll find something close.

Lest this sound utterly dull, the book doesn’t just throw stat blocks at you and walk away. It opens with a brief introduction, goes over the format of the stat blocks and how to alter them as you see fit, and then has a hyperlinked listing of each stat block by CR, letting you zip to exactly where you need. There’s also a discussion of what monsters work best in what roles (e.g. flyers, guardians, etc). Each monster is presented in alphabetical order, and begins with a short paragraph describing them (and covering their variants). The only drawback that I could find here was that there was no way to zip straight to the entry for a particular monster, whether in bookmarks or a hyperlinked table of contents. This was corrected in their later book, Savage Creatures, but it would have been nice if they’d gone back and added that feature here too.

That said, the truly staggering number of stat blocks here is a great advantage for any GM that’s having a hard time making themselves wade through the sea of numbers that comes with advancing creatures. Rather than going to all that trouble, why not just look here and pick up an advanced monster that’s already been formatted for you. These Dungeon Beasts won’t let you down.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Lazy GM: Dungeon Beasts
Publisher: Creative Conclave
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/25/2008 11:14:36
In a way, I guess all of us Gamemasters are lazy about one thing or another. I know some guys who love to nitpick and assign every single skill and feat for every single creature in their game. I on the other hand have players whom could care less or not if the Fire Giant blacksmith had craft skills. For this type of lazy GM, whom would rather do other things that stat up creatures, The Creative Conclave presents the Lazy GM: Dungeon Beasts.

Dungeon Beasts ventures into territory that many publishers have done with NPCs. Instead of rehashing the same old monsters, it takes a few dozen monsters and incrementally advances them, providing the reader over 400 varieties of creatures for their game.

The book goes about this by presenting a creature, a brief description and several advancement. It also presents several templates applied to the creature. It is a very simple and effective approach. Whereas most of the 146 pages of the book contain monster entries, the first few pages detail the types of monsters found in the book and reference pages for them.

The book is very simple in its layout, so much so that it becomes its biggest negative. There are no bookmarks or navigation tools and the statblock format is neither the new or old form.

For the DM
Can not say I have ever thought about zombie Bulettes before, but I sure will use one in my game now.

The Iron Word
I would hope to think that the second thing someone thinks of when creating a reference book is navigation (the first being the actual reference material). Still, Dungeon Beasts simple layout and descriptions overcomes this faux pas and feels like one of those books that you should have on file in your laptop for just in case incidents. It is an excellence monster source.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Lazy GM: Dungeon Beasts
Publisher: Creative Conclave
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/08/2008 09:35:07
One of the great things about the d20 core rules is that they're expandable and customizable, and for monsters that is a real treat. With templates, advanced monsters and other means around, the DM can create a treasure trove of wild beasties to throw at their players. No two monsters of the same species need to be the same, and the flexibility this allows is huge. In fact, some of the best books for the d20 market out there have dealt with templates. Part of the DMs job is to create fun and challenging encounters, and customizable monsters offers a powerful tool in doing just that.

The Lazy GM: Dungeon Beasts is the latest product from Creative Conclave and the 5th product in their Lazy GM series (6th if you count Creative Conclave's free Halloween release last year). This product show cases (within the limits of the core d20) the power of customization of monsters. In the pages of this product 40 dungeon beasts have been turned into over 400 through the use of advancing, templates and the like. As the name suggests, this product is about dungeon beast, essentially all the creatures with the magical beast or aberration types. The Lazy GM: Dungeon Beasts presents 146 pages of stat blocks of every CR allowing the DM to pick a dungeon beast to suit his needs without any hassle. This product is compatible with the revised d20 core rules.

This product comes as a single easy-to-use pdf file. While there are no bookmarks, the product allows you navigate at the click of a creature's name, meaning with the extensive table of contents you can go wherever you want within the pdf. Layout is in a single column, with the various monsters sorted alphabetically throughout the product. Like the other products in the series, the stat blocks are impeccable, and with over 400 stat blocks in this product, that's saying something. The product also includes an extremely useful introduction, as well as handy tables to sort creatures by role, such as ambushers, guardians, and relentless hunters. This is a very well presented pdf, with excellent mechanics.

The Lazy GM series is all about providing DMs with scores of pregenerated stat blocks of various creatures in a large number of different variations. Dungeon Beasts features creatures such as: ankheg, grick, rust monster, hellhound, choker, basilisk, owlbear, manticore, chimera, gorgon, and numerous others. Naturally these creatures have been expanded and advanced in numerous ways, and templates such as zombie, skeleton, vampire, paragon, phrenic, fiendish and pseodonatural have been applied liberally to each creature, creating a vast quantity of creatures of every CR. Some creatures have class levels as well, where appropriate, for example, with a blink dog. And speaking of CRs, the CRs range from 1/3 for the lowly dire rat, to 35 for that paragon purple worm. The majority of the creatures fall in the region below CR 10, but there are a fair number of scores of creatures in the higher CR ranges.

A product like this is a huge undertaking, particularly if you want to provide huge variation and get the details right. Creative Conclave have once again succeeded at this, creating an extremely useful document for those that don't really like generating creatures or typing out stat blocks for various creatures. It's one thing to create a product with 40 stat blocks, and quite another to do that for 400 accurate stat blocks. This is a valuable resource, and along with the other four products so far in the series, almost means you'll never really need to create another stat block again. Creative Conclave have produced an impressive product. While it doesn't bring anything new to the d20 arena, its utility is enormous and as such a product that many DMs wonder what they did without it. This product can shave hours off preparation time, particularly if combined with other products in the series. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what's next for The Lazy GM series. Excellent product.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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