Julian Neale opens the 100% Crunch series for Raging Swan with Skeletons. Now, we all know these walking bone piles, and for a great deal of game tables out there the skeleton has for many years been a go to for cannon fodder. But they can be so much more. Ponder this, when you think of the word skeleton, the image of a human, or at least humanoid skeleton comes to mind, doesn't it? Not hard to understand why, as they are the easiest and most basic of the creature when it comes to a statblock write up, hence forth they are the creature most of us have faced or used. But what if it wasn't an issue of time and difficulty in applying the skeleton template to a mass variety of races? What if there were a repository of pre-built, ready to go statblocks of skeletons that defy the norm?
That my friends is exactly what the 100% Crunch series is all about. Giving the GMs of the world a resource of statblocks with options, lots and lots of options...97 of them to be exact. With creatures ranging from merfolk to T-rexs, rats and orcs, dolphins and fire giants...if you can't find a new and cool skeleton in here to keep your stories fresh I'll be surprised. But, just in case you cant, and you have an idea not covered there are hints in the book on how to handle that easily, and with minimal effort.
A full CR breakdown listing of all the statblocks included, a listing of skeleton worthy creatures from the three bestiaries, the full skeleton template provided here for the sake of ease and completeness. A handful of various templates including many we have seen before like the bloody and burning. A great deal of what is here is in fact material one could glean from “official” sources, that is very true. But, I know I don't have the hours it must have taken to put this listing together, and I doubt you do either. And that is where a product of this nature excels. By providing in one source one specific theme, with a large amount of options and potentials.
Could there have been some new and interesting twists thrown in? Sure. But adding a great deal of new stuff without any fluff could get rather boring if you think about it, and that in the end is detrimental to the new material. This series promises 100% Crunch, and provides just that.
Editing and formatting follow the high standards I have come to expect from Raging Swan, with a dual column layout and a few pieces of art that invoke an old school feel. Now, I feel the need to state, for the record, that I didn't think I was going to like this product. Heck, I didn't think I was going to like anything in this series. I am primarily not a crunch kind of GM. I understand its importance, but I prefer the story element to the rules element. I always have. So I went into this book with a halfhearted reluctance, feeling more an obligation to review it than a desire to. It didn't take me long to begin to not only see the value of a product of this nature, but to find myself enjoying the read through.
My point being this, I am not a huge fan of Crunch only material, and I liked this product...I liked it enough that I am looking forward to the next in the series. It made me realize how underused the skeleton really is when it comes to various racial options for the base creature. It brought to light the immense amount of time one could put into designing various skeletons to use, and why so many people stick to just the basics. This product belongs in your collection folks, as I guarantee it will save you an immense amount of time, as well as inspire you with ideas...(skeletal merfolk??? Seriously???)
Stamping this with a golden 5 star rating, and labeling it well worth the price of admission!
[5 of 5 Stars!]