There is not a word wasted in this book. The introduction tells you what the book is for and gives some advice on how to use the book and build interesting and thematic encounters.
Then we get to the meat of the book, the beasts, monsters and villains. As with all things 13th Age this book gets to the nub of the matter, only presenting information that will be useful to you, whether that be the monster backgrounds, plot hooks or the stat blocks themselves, everything is geared towards being useful, and fun.
Each creature entry has the following:
- Creature background / ecology / names
- Building battles - using the creatures in combat encounters, usually suggesting pairings with other creatures that make thamtic sense, but may not be obvious
- Relationship to the icons
- Adventure hooks
- Things that you find with the creature (in their lair/in their general environment/things they carry)
- Stat blocks - usually multiple variants of a creature type (such as the four variants of the black dragon - Catacomb, Gorge, Void and Empyrean)
- Nastier Specials - options to make creatures different from the norm and make them even nastier! (This is not present on all creature entries)
The creature ecologies and plot hooks are that awesome that even those that don't play 13th Age would find them useful (although I think it would be a bit of an expensive book just for those). The creatures feel like they are really grounded in a living breathing world, without it ever becoming too restrictive on the DM to have to use them in "one true way".
The sidebars suggesting variants from what is presented, the suggestions of how to relate the creatures with other creatures and the adventure hooks, means that there is no way any two games are going to have exactly the same experience with any monster in this book.
The book ends with a detailled look at how GMs can create their own monsters. A brief description of reskinning monsters, a bit more in depth about how to tweak exisitng mosnters and then a detailled explanation of how to create your own monsters from scratch.
All in all, if you run 13th Age - buy this book. If you run 4th Edition D&D it would probably be useful as the monsters shiould be relatively straightforward to convert. If you run any other fantasy RPG, then it's certainly worth a look, but may be wait for a sale to buy it rather than purchase it at full price as while it is an awesome source of inspiration you may not get full use of the book.
Read more: http://www.enworld.org/f-
[5 of 5 Stars!]