Publisher: Bastion Press
Review Dated: 13th, January 2002
Reviewer’s Rating: 9/10 [ Something special ]
Total Score: 10
Average Score: 5.00
I found myself with a small pile of new RPG supplements in my hand the other day. I had to decide which one to read first and so I flicked through them all. Minions jumped out as the one to read. Full colour. Glossy pages. A wonderful ‘solid’ feel. That lovely new book smell. I find it hard to believe that Bastion Press isn’t a well established veteran of the industry… at least, that’s what I felt until I double checked their website and discovered that key members of their staff are actually well established veterans of the industry.
Minions lives up to its name; it is a collection of nearly one hundred monsters. If you’re expecting much else then you’ll be disappointed although there are sections on trying to play a half troll as a character and I really did like the Inner Planar Creatures as familiars. Imagine having a little cute blue imp-like creature called a “Blue Spitter” as a magical companion. It certainly beats having a bat, if you ask me.
I can’t fault the physical book at all. It is lovely. For the purposes of this review I’m left to gaze over the ensemble of fearsome foes. Except, well, not all the creatures are foes since a few goodly in nature and might even aid your brave band of heroes. In fact, it’s the diversity of the beasts in the book that is the very real strength of the book (prettiness aside). I went looking for something negative to say about the monsters as something, anything, to balance this review out. My initial cynical first guess was that all the monsters would either be giant and terrible demons, undead or humanoid things. I was wrong. Yeah sure, there are plenty of bipedal monsters that could just as easily have been called orc or troll but there are plenty other too. There are quite a few strange plant creatures, snake style beasts and underwater horrors such as monstrous sharks. The different size of the creatures covers the spectrum too, everything from giants to little critters that are small enough to crawl into your ear.
Minions may just be a collection of monsters but it is more than just a series of pretty pictures with numbers and dice attached. The creatures are presented along with information on how they might fight, what their societies might be like and how you might be able to put them into your campaign. I think the campaign information is vitally important for the book, these sections includes useful advice on trying to keep any encounters balanced for your group of players or just what sort of situation you might be able to make best use of the monster in. Many of the beasts have special or unique abilities and these are presented clearly (normally in the combat section) and in the same sort of style as you’ll find in the core rules.
It’s hard to fault Minions in terms of quality. Possible problems only arise when you consider the suggested price. At nearly $25 the book does not come lightly off the shelf. That’s about 25c a page. Personally, if you can afford it then I don’t think you’ll regret spending your money. Minions is simply too pretty to complain about. You have to ask yourself whether paying $25 for a book of monsters is going to enhance your game. Many DMs will be happy to create their own creatures or look to cheaper alternatives. E-Minions is one such cheaper alternative, a PDF download very much in the style of Minions, produced by the same company, just as good and a lot less pricey. There are many people, though, who much prefer books to downloads and plenty of gamers without credit cards to make the online purchase.