Pyramid #3/76 – Dungeon Fantasy IV Review (Dire and Terrible Monsters)

This is the fourth issue that is devoted to Dungeon Fantasy. No surprise – it’s the most popular sub-line, having spawned at least 16 or 17 books, and of course, since it occupies the same turf as the most popular game today (D&D in all its flavors, be it D&D5, Pathfinder, or the various OSR or D&Derived versions).

This issue is quite eclectic in its coverage, and some of the articles are downright . . . well, somewhere between odd and squicky, but in an I have to put that in my game kind of way.

So, let’s delve in . . . but remember you’re descending from an upper level, where psychic freakin’ Jedi can be found . . . or slighty below that, where books and mighty spells can’t be found. Nope. Nothing to see there. Though you’re going to want to lose your lunch after spending time in the horrid living room of your bad guy. But don’t worry, you can always punch him in the gut with a magically-enhanced fist of death.

But what’s this we see here? Awww . . . it’s so cute. A tiny, fluffy little bunny. I’m sure it’s cuddly and oh my glob, it’s attacking me! The pain, the pain! Aaaaaahh!

Dire and Terrible Monsters ( +Peter V. Dell’Orto and +Douglas Cole )

Of course, I co-wrote this one, so you can take my review with a grain of salt. That being said, I noted in a previous post that this article was more fun than any other of mine to write thus far. Peter wrote about it as well.

This article presents a couple new prefixes, a staple of DF monster-making, which turn regular monsters or other creatures into something else Angry monsters, Enraged, etc. The article presents two prefixes – Dire and Terrible – that take an ordinary creature and make it larger and more ferocious (Dire) and surprisingly lethal (Terrible). The text and sample monsters are presented in an over-the-top, humorous fashion, but the prefixes themselves are not inheretly silly.

Style, Writing, Execution [-2 to 2 points]: Peter and I had a great time writing this, and it shows. Others that read this one loved it; even my wife, who doesn’t always read my stuff, read it end-to-end and loved it. 2 points.

Background, Inspiration, Epiphany [0 to 4 points]: The premise here is good – and can be applied to any and all monster creation to amp up any critters you need. 3 points.

Drop-in Gaming Utility [0 to 4 points]: You can use the prefixes for any DF game to give your players a challenge, or a quick, surprise, nasty fight. Applied to (say) a werewolf or mundane animal, a new challenge can be made of an old threat. 4 points.

Overall: 9/10.  A good premise, easily extendable, and a fun read. 

Would I use it? Yes. Obviously. I’m biased, of course; I wrote it, and Peter’s one of my favorite authors, as well as an outstanding collaborator. 

Biases Aside: An alternate scoring if you’re approaching the article as not-me.

Build it Yourself: Even though there are sample creatures, there’s some work to be done, especially on the Terrible creatures, to make them useful. That would take it down to a 3.

Your Humor is Lost on Me: Some may object to the tone and flavor of the article – silly creatures like the Terrible Terrier might not be the right tone for some. That doesn’t lower the mechanical utility of the article, though. Writing score would drop to 0-1.

Background for DF?: I knocked it down a point because it’s light on why, and jumps to how. But if you just don’t care, then what you can do with more prefixes is simply pure fun. 

Upper-Lower bound Rating: The worst this one will rate is about 6, and the upper bound is the only perfect 10 I’ve given. It’s the same score as Pointless Slaying and Looting, which is probably my favorite GURPS article to date, bar none. On that scale, I’d say that this one is closer to 8-8.5 . . . or pointless slaying is better than I gave it credit for (probably true).

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