Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2015/09/23/tabletop-review-cryptworld-monsters-macabre/
Monsters Macabre is the first supplement for Cryptworld, the spiritual successor to the first and second editions of Chill. This is not to be confused with the actual Chill, Third Edition which has the legal rights to the game’s name, but none of soul from the previous Pacesetter and/or Mayfair versions. My strong advice would be to forgo Chill 3e and instead purchase Cryptworld. it’s closer to the original spirit of the game, has better art, and costs less money. You can read my review of the Cryptworld core rulebook here. That way, we can get more supplements like Monsters Macabre, which was a mild success on Kickstarter that deserved more attention AND more money.
Monsters Macabre is essentially the game’s Monster Manual. There are seventy-one monsters to be found in the pages of this supplement, which should keep you busy for a while. Some of these are classic monsters like Banshees, Minotaurs, Gargoyles, Mothman, Liches and Mad Scientists. These are things you would normally expect to find as antagonists in a RPG, be it fantasy or modern horror. Then there are some that are less unexpected but fit the theme of Cryptworld perfectly. These are creatures like the Plague Bat which a giant bat that well… eats people and spreads virulent diseases. I’d also include things like the Headless Huntsman, Incan Mummies, La Llorona and the Vapour From Space into that category. Then you have the really weird things that even veteran gamers might not see coming. These are the creatures that are just so weird and unexpected that they are perfect to throw into a game because how the heck can you prepare for a monster like the Batsquatch, Mongolian Death Worm, Murdermobile or the Creeping Eye? As long as you can craft an adventure where these creatures make sense, you’re sure to knock both the players and their characters for a loop when they finally encounter them.
Every creature in Monsters Macabre is well done. There is a nice balance between background text and stat block, so you get a real sense of how to run one of these monsters and how difficult a time the PCs will have in dispatching them. Obviously no GM will use everything creature in Monsters Macabre, but anyone who is even remotely interested in Cryptworld will want to grab this supplement as it really adds to the overall feel of the game. Plus, less work for the GM who previously had to design his or her own monsters outside of the few in the core rulebook.
There is more to Monsters Macabre than just stat blocks for monsters though. There are five other sections of the book to consider. “It’s Alive!” talks about how to build your own things for Cryptworld. It’s some advice on designs stats, background information and how much experience to dole out once the thing has been dispatched. Meanwhile “Play Things” gives you advice on having monsters as PCs. Of course, Cryptworld is designed to be humans facing evil monsters, but this section gives you ways to work around that. Here you can get a feel for how the game would play if the PCs are sympathetic monsters or if they are playing irredeemably evil horrors as the regular version of Cryptworld supposes. Either way can be a lot of fun if you have the right mix of players and GM. There are also steps for creating a monster PC including the way that they will earn and spend XP. For those of you who like a lot of mechanics and rules – you’ll find a lot here in regards to monster PCs. What to do when there are witnesses to the creature, mundane reaction tables, what to do when a monster is outed to the general public and more. It’s all stuff I personally won’t use as I’ll keep monster PCs to World of Darkness games, but what’s here is really well thought out and written. There’s some good stuff here and it will really change the dynamic of your Cryptworld game.
Section Five is “Random Organizations. This is two pages of tables that will allow you to roll up that are helping, hunting or harming monsters. Section Six is “Tangled Threads” This is a full adventure for Crypt Masters (I wish it was Cryptkeepers) to run for players. It’s a quick one-shot adventure where the PCs must investigate a spooky house that seems connected to four disappearances in small-town Pennsylvania. Of course, this being Cryptworld, there is something not quite natural at the root of the problem.
Monsters Macabre is an excellent supplement and should make most Cryptworld fans very happy. I’m very happy with what is here and I know I more than got my money’s worth out of this release. Here’s hoping we don’t go another two years before we get the next Cryptworld release though.