Game: Nightmares & Dreams II
Publisher: Mystic Eye Games
Series: The Hunt: Rise of Evil d20
Review Dated: 13th, January 2002
Reviewer’s Rating: 7/10 [ Good ]
Total Score: 49
Average Score: 7.00
Nightmares and Dreams II is, as you might guess, the second in the series. The original book was received with wide acclaim and with the likes of Bastion Press’s Minions out there on the shelves, N&D II was bound to have a fight on its hands.
A quick comparison between Minions and Nightmares & Dreams II would seem to put N&D II at a loss. I think you would be wrong to compare the two too quickly though, each book might be a collection of monsters but they’re very different beasts. Nightmares and Dreams II is, for example, less than half the price of Minions. Minions goes for gloss, colour and a wide range of creatures, Nightmares and Dreams is a more standard black and white (hence the impressive price difference) and gives you creatures specifically designed for Gothos (although you could use them in any world) with its unique dream theme.
Gothos (the world for The Hunt) is a dark and brooding place; it is composed from the dreams and nightmares from our very own Earth. To that end the monsters in Nightmares and Dreams are designed to be the sort of monsters that could be conjured into existence from our own nightmares. I had a go at trying to think up a few “nightmare monsters”. I managed only a few, the bogeyman, the monster that lives under the bed and the monster that lives in the closet! I don’t think there will be much of a career for me as a creature collection writer, whereas the authors of N&D II have added another 30 to the Gothos collection. If you are after that specific sort of monster then N&D is certainly a book for you. That’s not to say that the creatures in N&D II are so specialised that they’re all the same. Unlike my “monster under the _insert blank_” attempt the horrors in this Mystic Eye Games book cover a good range. I thought the tiny undead carrion bird was inspired and the idea of having a squall, a large sea storm, as a monster was a brave and successful move.
The presented monsters tend all to have pictures each and I wouldn’t like to under estimate the importance of that. There’s nothing quite like being able to show the players a picture, even if, like me, you’d rather describe the situation and encounter first and save the picture for after. Each entry has also a nightmare / dream section that goes some way of explaining how such a creature might be dreamed into Gothos or, if you’re running a more generic game, the sort of “flavour” a scene with the critter might have. They all also have combat and special power notes, which describe any unique or important abilities that might be used in encounters.
Additionally, N&D II includes a good sampling of adventure hooks that scenes with certain monsters might create or inspire. There are suitable, in theme, magic spells and items as well. The spells tend to reflect creatures in the book, for example, a hideous undead that seems to be composed of a collection of limbs on a torso is presented in the book along with a new necromantic spell that covers such a creation. I appreciate details like that. I think it shows experience of games mastering by the writer, I mean, I know many groups of players who might think “Hey! That’s an idea…” when shown something like that and so it is nice to have the answer to the next question “Can I do that?” right at hand.
I also appreciated the format of the book. There was one monster per open spread of pages, the name and the statistics of the creature clearly on the top left and with the additional text carefully placed on the rest of the spread. A consistent layout makes it easy to find the creatures when you are in a hurry. Additionally, the table of monsters near the start at the book that also included the challenge rating and special powers of the monster as well as the page number was particularly clever. I know I often find myself looking for a monster simply through the unusual feature I remember it having, for example “that monster with the fungi armour”, rather than having remembered the name of the darn thing from whenever I last read the book.