Game: Mindscapes: Beasts of the Id
Publisher: Malhavoc Press
Review Dated: 13th, April 2003
Reviewer’s Rating: 6/10 [ On the ball ]
Total Score: 15
Average Score: 7.50
Mindscapes: Beasts of the Id is short, sharp and to the point. The Beasts of the Id are supplemental to the Bruce Cordell’s Malhavoc Press Mindscapes psionic supplement.
Beasts of the Id comes in at 34 pages and that includes cover, inside cover, index, back page, a full-page advert for a forthcoming Event Book and another page for the OGL text. There is room in the $7 (currently discounted to $5) PDF for 18 monsters and new psionic power. The new power happens to be “Calling the Beasts of the Id” which does exactly that.
Even with respect the new power it would be wrong to describe Beasts of the Id as having nothing else going for it but 18 psionic monsters. The PDF glows with Malhavoc’s professional shine.
The contents page, for example, has entries for every sidebar note. The PDF is in the traditional Malhavoc style, designed to be as easy to print off as possible, saving you ink and time. The sidebars predict and then answer those questions DM and players are likely to have.
For example, the Mournwrath carries a deadly +4 greatsword and so the sidebar lets us know just how someone might preserve the weapon after the Mournwrath has been slain and just what the cost of doing so is.
You don’t strictly need the original Mindscapes: A Psion’s Guide to using Beasts of the Id – although it helps. The creatures are presented with the assumption you’ll be using the alternative psionic combat system, the mindscapes duel, from the Psion’s Guide but it is possible to dismiss this. The scrapeworm only comes into existence when a mindscape is called but it’s easy for DMs to ignore this.
The artwork is worth noting. The cover is by Alan Pollack and the interior by Spaceship Zero‘s Toren “MacBin” Atkinson. For every Cordell creature, we have got a MacBin illustration and that’s a great help. Some of these psionic nasties are hard to visualise because they’re just so alien but MacBin’s work really does seem to hit the nail on the head every time.
Beasts of the Id isn’t just straight-up stat blocks either. The Qid is a possible player character race and so we’ve got their attribute modifiers, level adjustment and even notes on how their special attacks and qualities might translate. Their telepathy ability, for example, doesn’t come with the vanilla race if it’s being used as a PC race.
The likes of the Idbeast and Fungiform Ego are templates rather than stat blocks. We’re given the template and a sample creature. The sample creature ensures that a busy DM (someone likely to be being buying Beasts of the Id in the first place) has a plug’n’play monster for every entry in the download.
As an observation the Fungiform Ego’s example is of a typical mercenary infected by the Beast, this typical mercenary is carrying a magical sword and wearing magical armour.
Ever since I was reminded that Challenge Ratings are worked out with compensation for the weapons carried by a “typical party” I’ve been really interested in finding out just what designers like Cordell and Cook assume a typical party will have.
Whether you would have given your average mercenary magical armour and weapons doesn’t impact on Beasts of the Id one whit but I find it to be a useful insight.
There’s a good range of Challenge Ratings in Beasts of the Id. Quite literally the range starts at CR 1 (the Qid) and reaches CR 20 (the scary Xenocrysth). In fact, there’s a Beast for CR 1 through to 13. There are two CR 6, 8 and 13s, one 15 and then the Xenocrysth finishes off.
I think this balance is just about dead on. There should be an encounter for everyone. Near the start of the download, there’s a list of monsters by Challenge Rating.
These entries aren’t hyperlinked so you can’t click on them and the page number entry assumes you’ve printed the document out and so are off by one if you’re using Acrobat’s page count (add one). Mindscapes: Beasts of the Id does come complete with bookmarks though and it’s easy enough to click on the tab and then on the monster name.
Beasts of the Id have my preferred default settings. The document opens so that the page is as wide as possible (rather than shrinking to make sure the whole length fits in the screen), it scrolls continuously (rather than one page at a time or with facing pages) and the use of the bookmarks keeps the page in fit-to-width mode. It’s just nice not to need to fiddle with these things.
Mindscapes: Beasts of the Id fulfils its promise and serves up a dose of psionic monsters. It does so without beating around the bush, in a tidy and well-organised PDF. If you want a range of psionic monsters designed and drawn for you then you’ll be pleased with this niche product.
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