They lurk in the shadows. They linger in your dreams. They strike in the darkness.
They are the foul and horrible creatures that dwell in Ravenloft, the Demiplane of Dread, and they are waiting for you. From the dream-stalking bastellus to the body-snatching doppleganger plant, this horrific tome contains a great assortment of creatures that will haunt the nightmares of player characters for years to come. In addition, this book presents over 20 unique creatures, including the living brain of Rudolph Von Aubrecker and the dreaded night hag Styrx, all of whom are perfect for use as master villains and NPC's.
TSR is proud to present this compilation of diabolical beings from the first two Monstrous Compendium appendices dedicated to the Ravenloft campaign setting. Fist released in 1991 and 1993, these collections have been unavailable for some time, but always in demand. Now they're back - at a price that's lower than the combined price of the two earlier products. No Ravenloft campaign is complete without this book.
The time has come to return to your nightmares.
The Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium I & II (1996) by William W. Connors were originally published in loose-leaf form back in 1991 and 1993 as two 64-page AD&D Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium appendices. The first was the "must-have" Ravenloft monsters essential to most campaigns, while the second focused on detailed, unique individuals from the Ravenloft setting. The loose-leaf format of the Monstrous Compendium was a good idea marred by some poor execution (alphabetical formats don't work particularly well when one loose-leaf page has monsters from two different letters on it), and it was eventually dropped in favor of a book approach.
These Ravenloft monstrous appendices went out of print when the format changed. This product, the Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium I & II, brought them back into the game as one volume with some new art. Getting these back into print made a lot of sense; there are some stunningly creative monsters contained within, and the Appendix II in particular is a textbook example of how to adapt traditional monsters effectively to give them personality, history, and unique abilities.
Appendix I: Creatures of Dread. These are the don't-miss, guaranteed-to-make-your-players-kinda-hate-you monsters of Ravenloft. Some are relatively mundane; no one is going to miss much sleep over a bat, even intelligent ones that mirror their masters' powers. They're the rare exception in a wonderfully creative collection of monsters, fortunately; Ravenloft's elementals (such as the blood or grave elemental) are going to have players gibving you dirty looks, but that's only until the doll golem runs out from beneath a bed to stab them in the foot. I'm particularly fond of the glass golem, made from stained glass windows and prone to unleashing prismatic spray attacks.
For me, the real treasure in this section is the demihuman vampires. Connors did a wonderful job of taking the notion that a vampire is cursed, then translating that curse into other races. The hardy dwarven vampires, for instance, drain vitality and walk through stone; elven vampires inadvertently kill plants and drain Charisma; gnomish vampires drain Dexterity and can literally make a victim die laughing; and halfling vampires exhaust their foes as they consume Strength and health.
You'll be pleased to know that kender vampires have tremendous difficulty talking. Now that's a curse.
The real advantage here is that many of these monsters are tailor-made as sneaky, intelligent boss monsters. Greater wolfweres, zombie lords, red widows, shadow fiends, greater mummies, ghoul lords, doppelganger plants... it's difficult to read this book and not come up with a half-dozen adventure hooks on the spot.
Appendix II. This appendix focuses on fully developed - "fully fleshed out," you might say, although the living brain might object to the term - NPCs who can also be customized or used as generic monsters. The advantage here is that you get engaging and unique monsters, full of plot and back story, with fun riffs on traditional enemy design: the living brain, a half-golem, a heroic ranger trapped in a mechanical golem, a cursed mass-murderer able to change her head, a bardic lich, an illithid vampire - you can take your pick of interesting villains to drop into your campaign, and then pick and choose the parts of their backstory you want to keep.
I like this combination. Between the solid, terrifying monster design of the core beasts and the unusual development of the monstrous NPCs, this is a supplement whose usefulness goes far beyond 2nd edition AD&D or the Ravenloft campaign setting.
About the Creators. William W. Connors is a game designer, graphic designer, and author who worked on over 50 products for TSR and Wizards of the Coast. He is currently a freelance designer, writer, and publishing professional based out of Wisconsin.
About the Product Historian
History and commentary of this product was written by Kevin Kulp, game designer and admin of the independent D&D fansite ENWorld. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.