Blackdirge's Bargain Bestiaries: The Created - Lesser Golems is the first product in the latest new series of monster products from the creative mind of Aeryn 'Blackdirge' Rudel. This 7 page product is the first in a series of bargain bestiaries - short pdfs containing a handful of monsters for good value for money. This first instalment features five new monsters, all of them lesser golems, created creatures moulded from cheaper and more common materials than the standard high power golems. This product is suitable for use with the 4e GSL.
Despite the low price tag, the product is very neatly and professionally presented, with all the frills and features one would expect from Blackdirge Publishing. As usual, regular artist Jesse Mohn is back to illustrate all five golems, while author Aeryn Rudel creates well written descriptive text and well crafted mechanics. The format, design and layout is very good, with 5 pages out of 7 devoted to content, one page to each of the monsters in the product. Overall, very professional presentation, apart, perhaps from one or two editing errors in the stat blocks where cut and paste went awry.
Lesser golems are created creatures much like iron or stone golems, except made by those spellcasters that do not have the skill or fortune to make a more powerful or expensive golem. Nevertheless, these lesser golems function much like their more powerful cousins, and can still serve as guardians or servants to their masters and creators. The golems included in this product are the dung golem, glass golem, straw golem, wax golem and wood golem. The power levels range from 1 all the way to 10, with a good mix of creature types and roles. Not much is said about the details of creating these creatures, but it's fairly easy to come up with something suitable to enable one to offer these lesser golems to your party spellcasters. A little guidance would've been useful though.
Each monster entry in the product provides a brief paragraph or two on tactics and background, as well as skill checks required to know or learn more about these creatures. That's pretty standard fare, really, being largely based on the type of material the golem is made of, and similarly the statistics are fairly standard as well for creatures of their level and role. The product does, in my mind, an admirable job of creating a bunch of new and interesting monster abilities that are specific to these creatures and will make them more unique than just a golem with big fists. Each creature's ability entries are quite novel and more importantly useful - they're not just abilities added for ability's sake, but rather carefully crafted to fit the concept and theme of the monster. The straw golem, for example, can create an itching cloud; the dung golem a stench, and the wax golem is particularly good at disarming people.
Overall, this is the kind of pdf that you would expect from Blackdirge Publishing - good monsters, good presentation, good art, good value. The monster abilities are creative and seem fun to use, and the monsters themselves are easy to insert into any campaign. There isn't really a down side to this pdf, although the flavor is a bit on the thin side but only just. Good pdf.