Friday, July 8, 2016

Review & Commentary On Black Box Books Tome Eight: Handlist of Horrors From Ivanhoe Unbound For Your Old School Campaigns

I'm always on the look out for another way of using monsters & adding in a bit more mayhem to my games. The truth is that you have to add in the touch of the unexpected into games because of very experienced & jaded old school players. They've seen it all and played it all. The fact is one way of adding a bit of the weird and unexpected are the monsters. I use a mix of standard and the unusual for creating old school style adventures.


   Black Box Books -- Tome Eight: Handlist of Horrors From  Ivanhoe Unbound is another creative and highly evocative tools of the DMing trade. A handy list of weirdness that can add any number of tiny seeds for creature creation, with suggested hit dice levels and a method for calculating all the other statistics from that hit dice level.
Monsters & stats are keyed here for adventure creation with a flare for the unusual & for ninety five sense you do get your money's worth. Example of creatures range from the esoteric such as the DECKLER (10): Undead creature rarely formed when someone dies via a spell. Obsessively devours spell scrolls to the demonic such as the EPHIALODAEMON (7): 6’ tall mantis with head of human infant. Voice like a castrato.
This is one of those non standard monsters books that works when you as the dungeon master want a non run of the mill monster but don't want to spend the rest of the day detailing the still born horror of a monster. There is a mixed bag of creatures & monsters making this a perfect combination of horrors that will keep players on their toes and guessing what's around the next bend of the dungeon or wilderness survival crawl.

This is a case of the monster could be used to build the adventure around them. This makes the hooks & bait for the adventure an on going process that the DM's needs to dip into  Handlist of Horrors. But is this book a welcome set of tools or simply a waste of money? Well this is a resource with tons of potential to keep even the most jaded player on their toes. Things such as the VISCERA MYRMIDON (9): The intestines of several warriors woven together and animated by a wraith. This is a perfect monster to throw into a game of Lamentations of the Flame Princess. This book brings fifty five monster seeds to the table and then keeps things going with solid hooks and leads inside the dark underbelly of the  Handlist of Horrors. This basically means that players are going to have a hard time identifying the weirder monsters. But even the weird ones are variations of many old school stand by's but done in such a way as to keep things fresh.
 Tome Eight: Handlist of Horrors  is a great book to use as a monster fill gap for unexpected encounters during a game when PC's wander into places that might provide them with weird adventure encounters. These places might include wasteland ruins in games such as Mutant Future or even the upcoming Mutant Crawl Classics. Because of the universal nature of Swords & Wizardry this popular retroclone's abilities as a platform are going to be tested.  Tome Eight: Handlist of Horrors is there to fill the gap. There's enough adventure and monster fodder to keep the DM going for years to come.
Four out of five for originality and utility for adventure construction.

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