Hacklopedia of Beasts - Volume IV
Hacklopedia of Beasts - Volume IV Capsule Review by Anthony Roberson on 04/03/02
Style: 4 (Classy and well done)
Substance: 4 (Meaty)
From Hoar Fox to Medusa, Volume IV of the Hacklopedia of Beasts is filled with both classic and brand new monsters you're sure to love (or at least laugh at)
Product: Hacklopedia of Beasts - Volume IV
Author: Tony DiGerolamo
Company/Publisher: Kenzer and Company
Page count: 128
Year published: 2001
Comp copy?: no
Capsule Review by Anthony Roberson on 04/03/02
Genre tags: Fantasy
The Hacklopedia of Beasts - Volume IV (Hob IV), as the title suggests, is the fourth release in the eight volume 'Monster Manual' for Kenzer & Co.'s HackMaster* RPG. This volume covers from Hoar Fox to Medusa and contains listings for about 220 monsters.
Hob IV is softcover, 128 pages long and has a cover price of $19.99 (US). Like previous volumes, it has color cover and black-and-white interior art. It also continues the running gag of having one party member killed on each volume's cover. This time around the hapless halfling is done in by a group of kobolds.
The overall theme of the Hacklopedia of Beasts seems to be that 'more is better'. Instead of just having one version of familiar monsters like the orc or kobold, Kenzer tosses in at least a couple of variant and/or beefed up versions of each. For instance, in HoB IV, there are three kinds of kobolds, four kinds of lizardmen and no less than seven kinds of leeches! While some might see this simply as Kenzer's way of padding out the creature count, most GMs will appreciate the huge variety of critters now at their disposal. The other theme that I have unfortunately noted is that quite a few monsters seem to enjoying attacking the groin…
The biggest subcategories in this volume are Jurassic creatures (dinosaurs) and Lycanthropes (were creatures). HoB IV includes nineteen kinds of dinosaurs and eleven kinds of lycanthropes. There is also a short section on the history and ecology of lycanthropy, including a new spell Cause Lycanthropy. This volume also includes some classic AD&D monsters that you might remember like the hook horror, invisible stalker and iron cobra
A few of my favorite monsters from HoB IV include the:
Killwi - kiwi with a very bad attitude and a sharp beak
My quibbles with the HoB are few. I don't really care for the art. It's clean and well executed for the most part, but for me it doesn't capture the classic feel of the original Monster Manual. I also wish that Kenzer would index each volume by Hack Factor, in addition to just alphabetically. This would speed up the time I spend searching for foes of appropriate challenge level to harass my players with.
I have been pleased so far with the four volumes of the HoB that I have purchased. Sure, they do cost about $20 a pop, but I didn't have to buy them all at once. And for about the same price as six boosters of the latest Magic expansion, I get a vital supplement for my HackMaster campaign that is also damned entertaining (if not outright hilarious) to read. A fine bargain in my book.
As an added bonus for the grognards out there, the HoB is almost completely compatible with 1st/2nd Edition AD&D. And if you want to spend a little time doing some conversion work, you can have creatures like the subterranean masticator slaughtering PCs in your 3E campaign as well.
*Contrary to the belief of some uniformed parties, HackMaster is not a 'joke' RPG. HackMaster is a real game, albeit one filled with lots of funny and/or silly bits, all based on an expanded version of the 1st/2nd edition AD&D rules.