These PDFs vary in length from 8 to 12 pages and each present three new monsters in the expanded format Mishler first used in Monsters & Treasures of the Wilderlands I, which should appeal to those of a Gygaxian naturalist bent. There are, unfortunately, no illustrations included with any of these PDFs; they're pure text. And while the text is well written, several of the monsters described are outré enough that an illustration would have been helpful. I also noticed that this series of PDFs, unlike the aforementioned Monsters & Treasures, is not explicitly associated with the Wilderlands of High Adventure setting, making the products more generic and a little less flavorful in my opinion. Mishler is one of those guys who clearly gets the Wilderlands and its surrealist qualities and the lack of such details makes these PDFs a little less appealing overall, at least for me.
Monstrous Menaces #1 is the shortest of the three at 8 pages. The monsters it describes are:
- Gharlidh: Subterranean humanoids with an incapacitating keen. I can't say they made a huge impression upon me.
- Grulnosc: Acidic giant snails. I found them less interesting for themselves than for the uses to which their carcasses can be put.
- Rocktopus: Who doesn't love evil, intelligent, land-dwelling octopi?
- Blade Dancer: No, not the ridiculously over-powered kit from The Complete Book of Elves, but humanoid constructs made from bladed weapons.
- Goblin: The bulk of this PDF is taken up with an extensive description of goblin society and culture. If one likes fantasy sociology, it's quite well done.
- Tharghûl: A form of undead that rules over ghouls and ghasts. I'll admit that I've been a sucker for this concept ever since I read references to the King of Ghouls in the Monster Manual.
- Akhlat: Chimerical sphinx-like creatures. I could have really used an illustration to get a better sense of what they looked like.
- Oogloog: Intelligent oozes from outer space. I was reminded -- happily -- of the old Judges Guild adventure "Night of the Walking Wet" by these guys.
- Woodwose: A "wild man" that borrows from legends of sasquatch, the yeti, and similar creatures.
That said, I would have preferred fewer monsters like the gharlidh or woodwose, neither of which filled a clear gap in the existing fantasy menagerie, and more like the rocktopus and oogloog. I know all too well that monster creation is a very hit or miss affair, with more misses being produced than hits, so I can't fault Mishler here. I suppose it's more that, having seen his best work, I wish all of it were of the same quality. As they are now, the Monstrous Menace series is somewhat uneven, a flaw offset to some degree by its bright spots and its price. They're well worth the price if you're looking for ideas to pillage and it's probably in that context that they deserve the most praise.
Presentation: 5 out of 10
Creativity: 6 out of 10
Utility: 6 out of 10
Buy This If: You want to swipe a few ideas for new monsters.
Don't Buy This If: You're expecting new monsters unlike any you've ever seen before.