Game: Monster Geographica: Underground
Publisher: Expeditious Retreat Press
Review Dated: 21st, March 2005
Reviewer’s Rating: 5/10 [ Perfectly acceptable ]
Total Score: 5
Average Score: 5.00
Here’s a blast from the past – Out of the Pit was published in 1985 and was a round up of the best monsters from the Fighting Fantasy series. How many thousands of gamers must be younger than Out of the Pit?
This isn’t a review of Out of the Pit (which, I fear, does best as a childhood favourite rather than a supplement of any innovation) but this might well be a review of d20 fantasy’s own Out of the Pit.
Expeditious Retreat Press’s offering is a 14cm x 21.5 cm book (half size, essentially) and has that browny-red colour. Monster Geographica: Underground, of course, has a front cover dominated by a monster. There’s 200 pages of monsters here for your money and has the book does not do internal art that amounts to some 92 monsters. These are 3.0 D&D d20 critters updated to 3.5. It’s a shame the book has no illustrations. I freely admit it’s often the artwork which sells me on bestiaries – perhaps it helps me kid myself that the splatbooks are actually academic treatises or my roleplaypolgy.
This is a book of monsters. This is a book of underground monsters too (as the title handily makes clear) and is intended to be one of a series. It’ll be a series that doubles in worth if it completes because at that moment DMs will have access to a handily sized collection of monstrous encyclopedia.
These aren’t original monsters. Monster Geographica: Underground re-prints monsters from D&D fantasy supplements. There are pages of legal acknowledgements and copyright notices. There dozens of d20 publishers accounted for here; everyone from Atlas Games to White Wolf Games.
The book begins with an alphabetical list of monsters. This list is essential as inside the book the creatures are arranged by Challenge Rating. A second contents page lists these underground horrors by type. Both of these contents pages come before the Introduction and this saves the DM from some page turning faff. The idea behind arranging the creatures by Challenge Rating complements the geographically targeted scope of the book. You need an underground combat encounter quickly, your group is at level 6, jump straight into end of the first quarter of the book and you’ll pretty damn close to a good match.
The biggest negative issue with the book is that it is money for old rope. If you need a third party publisher to tidy up and re-present the work of other third party publishers then this Monster Geographica is handy. If not – then it’s hard to be too sycophantic about the book.
There is a PDF version of Monster Geographica: Underground which currently costs $7.