With Wizard’s of the Coast’s publication of Descent into Avernus, we got to see a lot of new cool stuff on DMs Guild. Attack on Avernus was a fine little adventure for 4th tier players, for example. It was inevitable that we’d also get a dedicated bestiary. Darrin Scott (of Drizz’t Do’Urden’s Guide to Combat and others) and friends have teamed up to bring us the Blood War Bestiary. This supplement has villains, lairs, monsters, and lore on Blood War diseases including a new one called Hellish Fever.
Blood War Bestiary
Writer(s): Darrin G. Scott, Micah Watt, Patrick E. Pullen, David Stephens, Steve Fidler, Anthony Joyce, Bryan Holmes, Alex Clippinger, Jason Mpakos
Publisher: DMs Guild
Product Length: 84 pages
Available Format(s): PDF
For me, the best supplements are the straight-forward ones that you can sit down and use immediately. No preparation required. This is one such supplement. You can read it ahead of time if you want. It’s actually not a bad idea so you can plan encounters accordingly. But if your players happen to already be chumming around in Hell or the Abyss, then this bestiary can also help you with some ad hoc encounters as with Stygian Dragons or Avernian Leeches. Simply put, it’s teeming with thematic monsters who may or may not be directly involved in the Blood War. Regardless of their loyalties and devotion, these monsters can either help or hinder the PCs’ progress depending on what kinds of unlikely alliances the players are receptive to.
There are a handful of in depth villains and lairs and while they are wonderful, they’re not this product’s focus. After all, villains and lairs have been covered in depth by others already. Nonetheless, the ones that are present are more than enough to establish thorough adventures and the two lairs actually have ties to other publications: The Heir of Orcus (which I have already reviewed) and The Temple of the Opal Goddess (which I have not).
My only real nitpicky critiques involve the art and the table of contents. It’s all good individually. But the different styles detract from the product as a whole. Some styles are pencil sketch with inked lines while others are highly polished grayscale images (no color art except for the cover and one map, which is good for maintaining the theme, actually). Each artist’s style is good work, just different. Consequently, the overall work looks a tad unfinished. Above all, the supplement is helpful to the DM.
As for the table of contents, it’s actually not the problem. It’s an Index but at the front of the document and all hyperlinked (the entries are in alphabetical order…not in the order in which they appear). It would have been convenient to have bookmarks within the PDF. Again, minor criticisms here as the product is nicely done. Good writing, proofing, and editing. It also has a good layout and design. So it’s certainly a supplement worth owning if you go anywhere near the Avernus modules.
- the Fort Balator lair almost serves as a mini adventure
- lots of well-written aberrations, devils, demons, and more
- I take minor issue with art inconsistency and the lack of bookmarks