Hacklopedia of Beasts Volume III
Hacklopedia of Beasts Volume III Capsule Review by Charles Phipps on 15/02/02
Style: 5 (Excellent!)
Substance: 5 (Excellent!)
My favorite of the guides thus far
Product: Hacklopedia of Beasts Volume III
Author: Jolly R. Blackburn
Page count: 128
Year published: 2001
Comp copy?: no
Capsule Review by Charles Phipps on 15/02/02
Genre tags: Fantasy
Hacklopedia of Beasts Volume III
The third edition of the Hacklopedia of Beasts is emblazoned with with an image of the much maligned Shambling mound pounding to death some poor Half orc against the walls of a tomb. For those of you unfamiliar with the Hacklopedias, they are a wonderful semi-serious product by the creator of Knights of the Dinner Table Jolly R. Blackburn. The basic format is identical down to the stat profile of the Monstrous Compeniums but the Monster entries are given "Hack factors" to give a rough idea how badass your player is for killing one, "Yield" charts which detail what sort of taste the creature's dead body has to it along with magical benefits, and general quirkiness to make them interesting reading instead of dry text.
Since the Third Volume of the Hacklopedia of Beasts includes Elementals, Elves, Giants, Golems, Gnomes, and Halflings it contains fewer completely new monster entries than there have been in the previous two guides but it takes the time to include a great deal more new information about the species than it had to with such fan favorites. Every Elven subrace is given a rather thorough description in the entries with special attention paid to the half-humor only Grunge Elves whom are formed around the basic idea of what would you get when you cross Hack'n'slashers with the Drow and punks from the eighties. I was somewhat dissapointed with the Elemental entries because the Dragon write up had been so evocative of their society while the above two entries barely gave much of a sketch on them and their origins. The Giant entry while not certainly a full sourcebook on them did have some very amusing bits and a good sense of the ecology/attitudes of each subrace.
New entries and variants in the book include the Blood Golem, Gaurdian Golem, Golem Master (more a character class than anything race specific), Gnome Titans/Gnomish Doom Lords (for the die hard hack'n'slashers), Gargoyle Lords, Gold Bane, Gagwallers (the Big headed bug eyed aliens from the X-Files), Grendel (yes the villain from Beowulf), and the somewhat ridiculous magic cow in Hedley Cows. A few beings were better fleshed out in this work as well such as the Gloom Wing, Gaurdian familiar, and Elven Animals. All in all some very satisfying new creatures, some very interesting completely humorous entries, and quite a bit of new information with every bit monster it runs save the Elementals (whom I shouldn't complain about since the Anti-Elementals while badly done in Book 1 did give some idea of Elemental culture/ecology).
The art is noticibly improved in Volume 3 of the Hackclopedias from the merely good to the excellent. One thing that was amusing in Book 3 is that it has adopted the 1st edition frequent pictures of the female form. While nudity is always absent by the well placed arm or hair it does have the sort of fanboyish quality of many animes. The Gaurdian Golem, the Beautiful Harpy, and the occasional low cut dressed elven woman dot the pages. Hackmaster is also nothing but faithful to it's source material in interspersed with these lovely ladies is scenes of shocking violence upon would be adventurers. These scenes while not White Wolf Tzimisce graphic are usually quite gory with the griffon (or whatever) quite clearly tearing some poor schmuck to bits.
All in all this is my favorite of the Hacklopedias thus far and one that I recommend to buy for it's heavy information.
Special Note: Players of the Card Game "Fairy Meat" will especially enjoy that the little cannibalistic buggers are written up and their tormenting persecuters in the setting nonspecific Tinker Gnomes.