It can’t really be denied that 3.5 is a game system that requires a fair amount of work to run. Whether it’s calculating the Encounter Levels in your homebrew adventure or building a high-level PC, there’s a lot of numbers to take into account. Nowhere is this more ubiquitous than when designing a non-standard monster (“non-standard” here meaning a monster that differs from how it’s presented in its source material). Luckily, the guys at Creative Conclave are taking care of that for us with the latest addition to their Lazy GM series: Savage Creatures.
The book takes just over forty monsters from the SRD, and introduces myriad variant stat blocks for each and every one. Advanced (and sometimes diminished) natural Hit Dice, templates, class levels, and combinations thereof are given for each creature. Some creatures have only a half-dozen variant stat blocks while others have over a dozen. Each entry also has a brief paragraph discussing the creature (and occasionally offering a variant idea or two) and also lists the unaltered stat block for the creature just to be helpful.
What impressed me most about this book, however, was that Creative Conclave didn’t just throw the stat blocks in here and leave the GMs to figure out what to use. Instead, after a hyperlinked table of contents of creatures, there’s a handy introduction that discusses the various aspects of the stat blocks in terms of how they were made and tips for making your own alterations. There’s also a hyperlinked of creatures by CR, and beyond that, a breakdown of creatures by the roles they play (e.g. “guardians,” “ranged attackers,” etc.), and an index of the variants used. Creative Conclave clearly understood that in a product like this, cross-indexing is king.
It’s almost impossible find fault with a book like this. It does the heavy lifting on one of the most mathematically-intensive aspects of the game, and does it very well. There are hundreds upon hundreds of stat blocks in here, which means that even if you only use a fraction of those in your game, you’re saving yourself a metric ton of effort. Even if you still want to make an altered stat block, using these as a baseline can still save you quite a bit of work. There’s really no downside to this book; just a list of different ways it helps you out.