In the beginning of the book is a very short article on running monsters with their own motivations and it succeeds rather well in a fairly short amount of space. In fact, I’d say that this primer is very much the heart and soul of the work. The monsters are meant to be a little different, and most certainly meant to be generally intelligent opposition. There’s a repeat of the “how to read the monster stat blocks” section in the Monsters and Treasure book, and then the monsters!
The Castles & Crusades Classic Monsters Manual has over 200 monsters, all of them with C&C statistics. About half of the monsters come from the Tome of Horrors by Necromancer Games, which in turn contains a bunch of monsters that had only shown up previously in modules (Vegepygmies, for example). I happen to own Tome of Horrors, and so I can tell you that this book is not a reprint of it. Not every monster in Tome of Horrors is in Classic Monsters, and many (at least half) of the monsters are original creations, or at least original to this book. Of course, the utility of this book is pretty much restricted to people who use Castles and Crusades.
However, if you are like me and enjoy seeing all sorts of monsters, and mining ideas of them for yourself, you’re in for a treat. Assuming you are not interested in the creatures that have appeared previously let me illuminate some of the cooler original monsters for you. The Bendith y Mamau is a fae type creature that resides in a house to protect it from evil. They are easily insulted and wreak havoc on people and places which do insult them, often require greater offerings to appease them. That is one hell of an adventure seed right there.
Another example is the Chawl Witch, a creature that is really entertaining to a polyglot like me. They are basically language masters, able to understand and comprehend languages after only a few hours with them. They are always female, but reproduce with a male of any humanoid species. They lay eggs, and the eggs and young are coveted by wizards who want a servant/slave. Once again, an adventure seed that is not to be sneered at.
There are some really cool werecreatures in the book: werefoxes, werespiders, and werehounds. Each is given a description which includes a solid adventure seed like in the previous examples. Having devoured this book, I can say with authority that every single creature listed has an adventure seed in the description in which an entire night’s play can be thought up by a competent GM. There are some really fantastic ideas in here for using unusual creatures in unusual adventuring circumstances, as well as just some cool stuff to fight.
[5 of 5 Stars!]