The original Baby Bestiary, marshalled and creatively directed by Andreas Walters, not only provided me with inspiration, it also looked fantastic. I originally pledged for his 2015 Baby Bestiary calendar, but the full Baby Bestiary would have looked so good on my coffee table. I missed out then, but now Andreas has returned with Baby Bestiary Volume 2, and the chance to pick up both volumes in a gorgeous slipcase.
Now, I admit the small calendar hung into the little room, downstairs – but it drew attention and comment throughout the year as a result. Andreas did an exemplary job of getting together a group of artists with the sort of talent that can turn an Owlbear cute and a Displacer Beast loveable.
When you design a tabletop adventures the old quotes about one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration can prove all too true. You might have a hundred and one potential encounters, advice articles and random tables at your fingertips, but until that keystone idea falls into place nothing really hangs together. My personal explanation to my wife for why I need yet another roleplaying book – well, they’re for inspiration, right?
The Baby Bestiary Volume 2 Kickstarter aims to not only fund a completely new book, but also support a fresh reprint of the original volume. That means if you missed out on it the first time you can grab both or even up the ante for a real coffee table experience.
A pledge of $10 will get you the new Baby Bestiary Volume 2 in PDF and $20 will get Volume 1 as well. For pledges ranging from $35 to $75, you can get a physical and electronic copy – with the option to have a slipcase.
The original Baby Bestiary adopted the concept of a hands-on guide to rearing specimens of various beast and monsters. Whether as familiar, guardian, companion or simply a pet, the text accompanying each picture explained how the budding beastmaster might go about rearing, raising and schooling the most unlikely of creatures.
Many of the pictures in the original volume included pictures of young monsters and beasts in training with their masters – and for $400 you too can be immortalized in one of the pictures. Fancy a fantastic picture of you training a pegasus or a fire demon? Well, these pledges are limited so heed the words of the Grey Wizard – “Fly, you fools!”
Only recently my youngest son and his friends started roleplaying a campaign based on a darker vision of the Pokemon universe – and the Bestiary could seriously serve as the basis for this. The text considers how the natural parents raise an infant and what a trainer needs to do as a surrogate. A campaign spent tracking down and capturing the eggs and young of different monsters – whether for a good cause or simply for profit – is not a bad idea at all.
What I liked about the first volume of the Baby Bestiary was that nothing drew upon any specific game world and the information came entirely system neutral. While a few creatures certainly owe their existence to Dungeons & Dragons, many other come from the common myths and legends.
The text references potential complexities of finding nests – like the magical protection raised by Sphinx parents – or risky battle strategies – like armies ‘firing’ foul-tempered caged Wyvern at their enemies – that would make ideal adventure hooks. Do the magical protections of the Sphinx nest linger – and if so might the player character use the abandoned eyrie as the basis for a concealed base of operations?
Having read the Bestiary a couple of times, I find either the text or the images themselves set me off on a fresh tangent with new adventure ideas or possibilities for future encounters. As a perennial GM, I value any book or guide that I can return to again and again knowing that more ideas nestle inside.
The original Baby Bestiary had a strong selection of monsters with rich potential for use in game or simply as a reference. Baby Bestiary Volume 2 has an equally strong offering with the potential for even more if the campaign hits Social Achievements and stretch goals.
This time, I’m planning on picking up the slipcase. My coffee table deserves no less – and it’s for the research value, right?