Game: Possessors: Children of the Outer Gods
Publisher: Philip J Reed
Review Dated: 4th, June 2003
Reviewer’s Rating: 7/10 [ Good ]
Total Score: 7
Average Score: 7.00
Okay. I admit it. I just love the combination of Philip J Reed’s writing with Christopher Shy’s art. It’s a harmony of oxymorons, succinct depth in the writing, gritty surrealism in the illustration. The introduction makes it clear that they work together, tossing ideas back and forth and maturing the product together.
Possessors: Children of the Outer Gods is a one horse show or perhaps more accurately, a one monster bestiary. Mind Flayers, there, I said it. We’re told that the Possessors are an effort to produce d20 open gaming license material for Philip J Reed’s favourite monster. This is just this reviewer’s guess but I suspect the favourite monster in question is the Mind Flayer. This at a time where Wizards are restricting the SRD – just when they’re taking out popular monster and their campaign names from what third party publishers can use. It just so happens that third party publishers can use Possessors, it just so happens that I think Possessors are far more atmospheric and engaging than the Mind Flayers which I never liked much anyway.
Possessors are floating squid-like beings. It’s very Lovecraft. Shy’s illustrations suit wonderfully. These floating octopus creatures have rows and rows of shark like teeth on the lower side of their bulbous head. The Possessors bite hold of their victim’s head, drape their tendrils over the victim’s shoulders and take control of their host psychically. The result is a humanoid aberration with tentacles dangling over their mouths. It’s a creature that snugly fits the aberration category description.
The 17-paged document has room to do more than just include spooky drawings and a thorough stat block. There’s a good amount of background on the Possessors. This background material comes with a caveat that I always find annoying; no one knows the true history of the Possessors. No one knows that that the Possessors are the first race; they worshiped ancient gods and didn’t like it when the ancient gods made more races to worship them. No one knows but some people believe, that the Possessors tried to push their luck by possessing the new lesser races and telling the ancient gods it was to ensure that they worshipped correctly. The ancient gods flung the Possessors out the deepest ranges of space (where, one assumes, there are no gods hence the previous gods are the outer gods) where the Possessors evolved and mutated into what they are today. The Possessors then, eventually, made it back to Earth and other planets. Actually, let’s not labour the “no one knows” point too much; the fact is that the race is designed to be old and mysterious and that suits them. I think this is a symptom of the Lovecraft (don’t explain the mysteries) with the d20 (explain everything in a series of sourcebooks) system and it’s easy enough for the GM to use or ignore the text here.
At the minute Possessors: Children of the Outer Gods is less than $2, it’s on discount, even if you miss the sale price (and PDFs remain discounted for yoinks) the full price is still well below $5. This is great value for money. You actually get two products, the full colour one and a grey-scale version. The grey-scale one is still laden with illustrations and it’ll eat your ink but since it’s not colour, it’ll not eat your colour ink.
It’s pretty simple; if you want a thorough and atmospheric product for spooky and powerful fantasy-cum-Lovecraft monsters then you should race to download Possessors: Children of the Outer Gods. It seems a shame to put forward a product like this in such a way but if you’re looking to push clear of RPGNow’s $5 minimum checkout value then this is an ideal product. On the other hand, if you’ve no time for pre-genned monsters, you want to it all your self, or don’t care for anything other than four-colour monsters then you’re less likely to need Possessors. I really liked this product but I would have liked it even more if it duel statted for D20 Modern too.