New (Old) Monsters!

 Today, this arrived for me from DriveThruRPG , a softcover copy of the D&D Creature Catalog, first published in 1993 in this form, and now re-released as a print-on-demand volume.

It was intended as a companion volume to the Rules Cyclopedia, published in 1991, and both of them gathered together material scattered through a multitude of BECMI volumes into these two books.

The Creature Catalog presents a couple of hundred new (at the time) monsters, and it includes an index of all the critters for the system up to that point, detailing which could be found in which volume.

This reprint is based on scans of a printed book, rather than the original artwork. As a result, the tones in the greyscale images are noticeably compressed, and they tend to look rather muddy. The artwork is not, for the most part, particularly good, though I've seen much worse in other published RPG material. The images are good enough to do their job, which is to provide some reinforcement to the printed descriptions. The text is quite clear and legible, and the paper is acceptably white and opaque — it's not as luxuriously heavy as the original AD&D manuals, but then again you so seldom get that sort of quality in RPG material these days (or ever, really).

I have an original hardcover copy of the Cyclopedia, and although I've never actually played D&D using it, conceptually speaking it's my favourite edition of D&D ever. I like the idea of having the whole system collected into and playable from a single volume (which is one reason why I'm so fond of OSRIC, the AD&D retroclone) and I also really like the "change it if you don't like it" ethos of the system, which was quite the opposite of the rather restrictive and regimented AD&D. To be fair to AD&D, a big part of why it was published in the first place was to bring some consistency to D&D games throughout the world, and it did do that, though whether that was a good thing or not I leave to your own personal opinions.

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