Creature Compendium for the Mor Aldenn campaign setting from Headless Hydra Games is a 35 page PDF, introducing us to 21 creatures of varying CR's. PDF follows the dual column format and standardized statblock layout for the Pathfinder compatible products. Interior artwork is B&W, and we do get a piece of art for almost every creature entry.
Opening with the Arachnus (a Tauric creature formed of a Giant upper torso and head and the body of a Spider) this creature tome comes out the doors swinging. Following this nightmare up with the Black Glass Undead (variant Wight) and Blacktalon Lizardfolk (variant Lizardfolk) however, kind of a letdown after the initial creature. We are given a template for the Black Glass Undead as well as the creature write up though. The Marsh Dragon, who gets a standard statblock as well as 3 for various age progressions, is an excellent addition to the draconic family. Being more akin to the plants of the marshes and swamps it lives among, it can raise and control Shamblers, and attacks with spores for a breath weapon (nasty side effect from this one, brilliant). The Gaiant (a fey giant race resembling humanoid trees, and presented here with stats for a druid) and the Bog Giants give us two new entries into the family of Giants.
The odd looking Gold Caps ( a mushroom cap and stalk with four leglike appendages) deal in the market of information as humanoids deal in precious stones and metals. The Hag Spider (our cover monster) is an amalgamation of phase spider and hag that preys upon the sleeping by trapping its foes in ethereal webs and plaguing them with nightmares. Leyspinners are another addition to the fey, these being closely bound to the ley lines that crisscross their homes. Leyspinners have the ability to manipulate these ley lines to affect the world around them in a few varied ways. Mahr could quite easily stand in for those dark and scary things we all used to tell our younger siblings were under the bed. A bestial sharp clawed fey with the capacity to teleport through shadows with a grappled foe, the mahr feed off of fear,and spread panic and paranoia throughout communities.
The Manifest Children of the Ether I'm going to have to say are amongst the oddest entry for the book. A race of outsiders who's very presence offends reality causing damage to all within a radius of their presence, these creatures are presented as having no desire to communicate with any beings other than themselves, and any attempts to sway them from their desired goal is to invite combat with a rather hefty foe. Up next we have the Marshlings, a twisted nightmare version of vegetation gone bad. These things are wicked, in every sense of the word and a design win in my opinion, their rot ability makes them insanely dangerous to attack, their method of mobility (they retract a leg into their body, and expel a new one out of the front) is just visually cool, they're just a really cool creature. The Mirejack (a fey appearing as a small humanoid built of sludge and vegetation) offers up yet another fey addition, this one of a CE nature and being bound to the foul marshes of the world.
The Mythraven appears to be a huge raven at first glance, until you catch site of the embedded magical gemstones in its beak, oh, and it opens it mouth and says hi, that's usually a dead give away that's there's more going on than just really big bird. Sought after for their crystal eggs by mages these large avians can either be a valued friend, or fierce enemy. Plaguecrawlers are a giant centipede creature that attacks from ambush spraying whatever it can bite into with a disease ridden liquid, than retreats to tail its target, waiting for it to weaken. Appearing as a tiny winged humanoid with a portly build, the Portune is another addition to the fey numbers, although this handy little fey is a tad more friendly than most towards others, and can in fact be taken as a familiar by those with the improved familiar feat. Puppet Imps are literally bipedal constructs of debris given animation by the projections of will from malign forces. The cool thing about Puppet Imps, if given the chance in combat, they will scrounge the ground for material to rebuild damage, effectively healing themselves (for a penalty).
The Spell Pike is an altered fish, given spell like abilities depending upon which of the eight schools the fish is associated with. The scales of the Spell Pike bear runes that react much as a scroll, in that one can copy down the runes to learn the spell like ability. Unfortunately, this entry is the one that I have the most problems with out of the entire book. There's no artwork for this creature (the rune work would have been cool to see), and either the CR or the XP is way off. The Spell Pike is listed as having a CR of 4, with 400XP. Now, according to Table 12-2: Experience Point Awards (pg 398 CRB) a CR of 4 should have an XP of 1,200. To get an XP of 400, we would need a CR of 1. I know it's a small thing, but between the lack of art, and the botch job on the CR, this creature doesn't live up to the others.
The Stiltskin appears as a wizened of man, but in fact is very much fey. They collect and cherish secrets, and will trade and barter for them with secrets they know, or the gold they spin. The Tuskbeast looks very much like a large boar with a ridge of bony spines running down its back. A blind animal, they are still a widely feared hunter. The book closes with the Veraxer, a great brown tiger with stripes of green, and an intelligence far beyond animal. 10 feet in length and weighing in at 750 lbs., these large cats act as mounts and allies within the elite cavalry for the elven nations.
OK, a few things about this book that drove me nuts, first and foremost, the previously touched upon issues with the Spell Pike. Sorry, can't let that go, making sure things like the XP to CR ratios are accurate are important. Secondly, how many times one entry ran into another. There are numerous entries “sharing” a page, and that makes the book look very busy and cluttered in my opinion. Third, design wise, quite a few of these creature's feel like they are all bite, having massive attack, but not much in the way of defense. There is also no ToC or bookmarks, which is a huge negative for me, If a PDF is going to be more than a few pages long, I fee at the very least a ToC is required, bookmarks always preferred.
Final tally, pros far outweigh the cons on this collection of creatures, but it does have a handful of flaws. Giving it a 3.5, rounded to a 4 star rating.
[4 of 5 Stars!]