Tome of Horrors is a 400+ compendium of monsters for Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition culled from the first and second editions of the game.
The book’s published by Necromancer Games, the d20 company that prides itself on products with “Third Edition Rules, First Edition Rules.” It certainly lives up to that motto with the Tome of Horrors, which reads like an honor roll of monsters from ages past.
The majority of the monsters in this book are taken directly from the original 1E sources, including Monster Manual I, Monster Manual II, the Fiend Folio as well as modules like A4 In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords and S4 Lost Caverns of Tsojanth. The monsters themselves, like the books they are drawn from evoke all manner of happy memories from the dawn of gaming.
There’s the Fiend Folio’s Iron Cobra, a snake construct that obeys the commands of its master, the demon Orcus, who first ruled Monster Manual I, and the Lost Cavern’s vile Olive Slime. They’re all old friends (or in the case of players, old enemies) resurrected from memories to live in a new age.
There are a few new additions as well. The book includes about 100 entirely new monsters, most written by Tome author Scott Greene, as well as another three dozen monsters taken from other Necromancer products.
This is all great news for old timers like me, who still have copies of their first edition books lying around, but it does beg the question “did all of these monsters need to be updated? The answer is probably “no”. For example, I could have done without the 2nd edition gem “Hamster, Giant” or the “Lava Children”, and I doubt anyone really was longing to see the “Flump” updated to 3E.
The book is laid out using the format established in the 3E Monster Manual, only not quite as successfully. While most of the entries are fine, more than a few have formatting issues. The most common problem is improper tracking (the spacing between letters) — there’s either too much of it, or to little. There are also a few places where columns aren’t aligned properly. These errors aren’t critically bad, but they do detract from the overall presentation.
There’s also the issue of the monster headings — they aren’t consistent. For example, all of the books various types of trolls are grouped together under the common heading of “Troll”. The same goes for giants, and that makes sense. What doesn’t make sense, however, is however, is how this methodology doesn’t hold true for other creatures, like Oozes and Puddings. — “Dun Pudding” shows up under the “D’s”, while “White Pudding” appears under the “W’s”. It runs contrary to the rest of the book, and only serves to confuse the reader.
These flaws will probably infuriate perfectionists, who might be turned off enough to not buy the book. That’s a shame, because the content really does make it worth picking up and using, warts and all. As a DM, I’m always looking for more monsters, especially unusual and uncommon one’s that my players haven’t seen before. Many of the monsters in this book fit that criteria, and that made it a worthwhile addition to my library.
- Tome of Horrors
- by Scott Greene
- 322 pages
- ISBN 1-58846-112-2
- Necromancer Games
- MSRP $29.95
- Buy it from Amazon