||My concern when approaching epic material is how is it made epic. The difficulties in creating truly epic creatures is great and, unfortunately, this product failed to pull it off. The creatures are interesting, but they are not very epic. I took a closer look at some of the creatures in the book and reviewed them individually.
The Flying Serpent
The Flying Serpent is described as the most influential creature in the world, but does not have the stats to back up this claim. Its Diplomacy is a paltry +24. (A 2nd level character who takes 5 ranks in Diplomacy, Skill Focus (Diplomacy), takes 5 ranks in the 3 synergies and has an 18 Charisma, has a +18 Diplomacy.)
The Flying Serpent?s 300 hit points puts it within a one-round kill for high level adventuring groups. Its saves are a low 22/16/9. Finally the serpent only has a single attack, a bite for 4d6+15. It has a solid spell selection as a 24th level caster but this is its only serious offensive ability.
A Great Wyrm Red Dragon, with a CR 26, has 660 hit points, saves 32/22/22. The dragon?s bite does 4d8+13 and it has five other attacks. The dragon has 19th level spellcasting abilities, slightly lower than the serpent. The Great Wyrm Red Dragon is considerably tougher at a lower Challenge Rating. While it is not a completely fair comparison, the serpent could use a little beefing up, a few more hit dice.
There are three adventure hooks for the Flying Serpent. Two of those ideas have nothing to do with the Flying Serpent, except that they take place in his territory.
This finy size creature has only 9 hit dice and a Challenge Rating of 18. With a level adjustment of 9, the Challenge Rating should actually be about 13-14 (CR is level adjustment + about 1/2 the HD varying by type according to the Monstrous Manual).
Doing 1d3+7 or 1d2+11 damage, its melee and ranged attack are not very threatening despite its wounding attacks and huge attack bonus. With a +35 Hide bonus it is an effective assassin. Tucked in among the spell-like abilities is ?power word kill 1/day? making it dangerous once per day.
This is an interestingly put together creature, dealing low amounts of damage with great accuracy. It could be a real challenge for high level adventurers but only an annoyance for epic characters.
Tossed in with the not-so-epic creatures is Milmang, a 225 Hit Dice, Challenge Rating 150 creature. Thor would be hard pressed to take this monster ? seriously, you can compare his stats from Deities and Demigods.
Adventure Hooks: Many of the adventure hooks refer to other products and to rivals of the PC?s, another adventuring group, rather than having anything to do with the monster. The adventure hooks switch between present and past tense from sentence to sentence.
Monsters as Player Characters: Many of the monsters in this book are ?playable as characters?. With +47 Strength bonuses and other epic abilities, and relatively low level adjustments (+9 to +15), I would hesitate before allowing a player to play such a race.
A Final Note
This product has a lot of potential and, if it gets reworked, I would like to see it.
LIKED: These creatures are tough and are built on original ideas. There are some Easter eggs nestled in the back. The new armor ability, globe of greater invulnerability spell and new magic items are worth taking a look at. The picture of the scroll containing globe of greater invulnerability is a great idea (how about some color?). The cover looks good its worn appearance.
DISLIKED: This product needs to be reworked. The challenge ratings need to be closer together rather than ranging from 18-150. A number of tense and grammar mistakes need to be fixed. There are good ideas but they need to be refined. This product introduces some interesting creatures and hint at a much larger history. More of that history needs to be included. 2 of the 18 pages are dedicated to Reading the Entries, something already covered in the Monstrous Manual. As a PDF space is hardly a concern unless someone wants to print it.
[2 of 5 Stars!]