Game: Monster Geographica: Underground
Publisher: Expeditious Retreat Press
Review Dated: 25th, November 2004
Reviewer’s Rating: 6/10 [ On the ball ]
Total Score: 11
Average Score: 5.50
I don’t normally notice whether a PDF opens up to show its bookmarks or not. I like bookmarks in a large PDF and tend to notice when they’re missing or when using them annoyingly re-sizes the PDF.
This Monster Geographica from Expeditious Retreat Press is a large product. We get 200 pages for a mere US $5. It needs its bookmarks and has them. Okay, okay, why start waffling about bookmarks so soon? The first thing I noticed in Monster Geographica: Underground is that there are three lists of monsters. We have monsters by CR. We have monsters by Type. We have monsters by Alpha. Pause there. Have some more coffee. Monsters by Alpha equates to Monsters in Alphabetic order.
That there is Monster Geographica: Underground’s major innovation. This is an easy PDF from which to find yourself a monster. By default the monsters are listed by Challenge Rating. The theory is that if you’re looking for one random encounter set at CR 6 then it pays to be lurking in the CR 6 section. You’ve the next one lined up already. Don’t knock this; this is an extremely handy feature and it’s magnified by being able to quickly click-click to alphabetical or type lists.
There’s another “power up” in Monster Geographica: Underground’s favour too. The entire product (barring art, logos and company name) is OGL. You can take these monsters and use them yourself (providing you do the legal foo correctly). If you just happen to make a living or enjoy a fun hobby of publishing d20 adventures then Expeditious Retreat Press have done you proud.
You worked out that all the monsters here are suitable for underground encounters, right? Good.
There’s a reason why Expeditious Retreat Press have been so generous with this Monster Geographica. These aren’t their monsters. There’s a joke about the world’s largest legal section for this PDF and do check it out. It’s a prestigious list. What we have here is a mammoth harvesting task wrapped up with the extremely useful administration. We’ve creatures initially created by Goodman Games, to Necromancer Games and even some prolific Mongoose Publishing thrown in for good measure. You loose plenty in terms of originality here but gain some suspension of disbelief. It really depends on your gaming group but mine our immediately cynical of All New And Power But Never Ever Seen Before Monsters (especially when they’re strong against the group’s weakness). In fact, there’s something to be said for the reprinted 3.0 monsters in here. As you’d expect for this day and age (he says, in November 2004) Monster Geographica: Underground is 3.5.
It’s the 3.5 edition which explains why this Monster Geographica is both a first in the series and has a 3002 number. What happened to 3001? It sounds like an even more Herculean task of administration and bringing stats together to make life easier for DMs – but it was 3.0.
Monster Geographica: Underground is a collection of stats. I feel the PDF really lacks artwork. I often wonder why I like bestiary books quite as much as I do. I don’t like NPC books. The answer, I think, partly lies in the illustrations. I like to see the monsters. I like to be able to tell players; “It looks like this” and show them. The artwork inspires me.
I think I’d get the most out of Monster Geographica: Underground if I already had most of the books and wanted to bring most of the monsters from them together in one world. Alternatively, if I wrote more, I’d use it as a resource.
It is worth repeating the price tag; $5. That’s super cheap. You can’t really go wrong there.
Also, since the book’s OGL and purely for the purpose of a fair review, let’s squeeze in a monster.
Hit Dice: 12d8+156 (210 hp)
Speed: 10 ft. (2 squares)
Armor Class: 19 (-1 size, +3 Dex, +7 natural), touch 12, flat-footed 16 Base Attack/Grapple: +9/+17
Attack: Slam +12 melee (2d8+6)
Full Attack: Slam +12 melee (2d8+6)
Space/Reach: 10 ft./10 ft. (15 ft. with slam)
Special Attacks: Abhorrent stench, mucus pustules
Special Qualities: Blindsight 60 ft., lowlight vision, plant traits, tap root
Saves: Fort +21, Ref +7, Will +0
Abilities: Str 19, Dex 17, Con 36, Int —, Wis 2, Cha 4
Challenge Rating: 11
Alignment: Always neutral
Advancement: 13-24 HD (Large); 25-36 HD (Huge)
Level Adjustment: —
The stinkgnarl is a tall and pulsing mass of fleshy fungus that periodically belches a small gray cloud from under its cap. This cloud is the first thing everyone notices when approaching the stinkgnarl, having a rank odor that hangs in the air. There is no one color specific to the repugnant fungus, but most are brightly colored yellow or green, and a few phosphorescent specimens have been identified. The whole of the spherical cap is covered with fist-sized weeping pustules and is protected by a random pattern of woody plates that allow freedom of movement.
This fungus grows best near pools of standing water or wet caverns, but can be found nearly anywhere underground. It will tolerate most any plants and fungus that grow nearby, but it will not tolerate Violet Fungus or other poisonous plants, and will attempt to smash any that come close enough.
Combat This fungus does not hesitate to blast an area with its stench, or flail its massive body like a rubbery hammer at anything that comes near.
Abhorrent Stench (Ex): Whenever approached, the stinkgnarl emits a misty spray of foul gasses that fills up to 300 square feet, rising 10 feet in the air, and lingers for 1 hour. Living creatures able to smell the cloud must make a Fortitude Save (DC 31) or become severely nauseated, gagging and coughing as tears well up in their eyes. Nauseated creatures are unable to attack, cast spells, concentrate on spells or do anything else requiring attention. The only action a nauseated creature can take is a single move (or move-equivalent action) per turn. These effects last as long as the character is in the affected area and for 1d10 rounds after leaving the area. Those who remain in the area that make their save must continue to save each round with a +1 resistance bonus. Creatures with the Scent or other heightened olfactory qualities suffer a -4 circumstance penalty to resist the noxious vapors. If a creature spends 10 rounds breathing inside the affected area, they must make a Fortitude save (DC 31) or take 1d4 points of subdual damage the next round and each round thereafter. Leaving the area will end this damage. The save DCs are Constitution-based.
Blindsight (Ex): The stinkgnarl has several simple “ears” that detect sound and changes in air pressure, allowing the stinkgnarl to locate creatures within 60 feet.
Mucus Pustules (Ex): Whenever the stinkgnarl makes a successful slam attack, it causes several of the spherical pustules to burst and splatter the target with slimy mucus. The stinking glop acts like a powerful glue, and if a creature is hit 3 or more times with the mucus attack, they will become entangled for 10d6 minutes. The target suffering mucus entanglement must make a Reflex Save (DC 19) every turn or become stuck and immobile. The save DC is Dexterity-based.
Taproot (Ex): In order to gain more leverage for its flailing slam attacks, the stinkgnarl possesses a thick, woody taproot it can drill deep into the rock. This gives the stinkgnarl a +4 stability bonus against charge-type attacks.