Old Greybeard that started role-playing in the early '90s. Bear with me as I ramble on.
This is my sandbox
The Immortals Handbook - Epic Bestiary is an hilarious independent splatbook for D&D edition 3.x, born when a terminal Epic nerd named Craig Cochrane (otherwise known as Upper_Krust on the Web) dozed off to sleep after an heavy meal, a Doctor Who marathon and the consumption of one too many Marvel comix. This led him to seek answers to insane questions like "How many hit points does a planet have?" - "Can I have stats for a star-sized Elemental?" and "What about having monsters the size of continents?". If this questions had ever bothered you too, or if you've ever felt the need to throw an actual
bucket TRUCKLOAD of dices, look no further: here you get has all the answers you need and more.
Its selling points are the the passion and devotion that the author has put in this work, and some moments of sheer brilliance, but the results are frankly staggering. Reading feels like a slow descent into madness: no single step is particularly worrying, but before you know you find yourself transitioning from "Hey, let's play a 40th level Mage, it's gonna be cool" to "I cast 17 multiversal abilities to hit a 3036HD Macrobe who wields a 656th level Dragon has a whip" (that's an actual Adventure Idea form the book)
All this and more is condensed in a jumble of broken math, some really cool concepts and a general lack of irony that makes the book:
- Totally useless in any serious game.
- Priceless in both concept and execution
Fun fact: in the preface the author names some "test players". Make of that what you will.
The book's art - all self-made - goes form the pretty bad to the REALLY bad, but you can at least appreciate the effort the author has put in creating 100% of the material for the book - and his bold disregard of even basic Photoshop improvements.
The expanded universe, detailed in this book and in The Immortals Handbook - Ascension, shows a strange fascination for classical mythology (hence names and concepts like Yetzirah, Malakim or Akasha) mixed with Doctor Who (with literal Time Lords) and Cosmic level Marvel entities. Ol' H.P. Lovecraft is thrown in for good measure, and so does the classical D&D Kosmography with planes like Limbo or the Abyss getting all new inhabitants. To put it gently, it's a clusterfuck that reads like someone put a tome of classical mythology and a nerd comicbook stash in a blender and set it up to eleven.
- In a moment of drunken magnificence, our Author sat on his couch with a staggering amount of Mangas and said to himself: "Holy shit, this is awesome! Dual-wielding swords to kill Titans while flying... How can I top that?" And lo! Three-weapon fighting was born. This technique is basically using two sword to fight while you constantly juggle a third - yes, it is as goofy as it sounds - because if cool kids can dual-wield weapons to gain double cool-points, imagine how cool it would be to wield THREE WEAPONS AT ONCE. In the manual there's a 117th level albino Vampire that fights with 6 major artifact swords simultaneously, because if you gonna go over-the-top you'd better do it right.
- The Metamagic system gets a reworking via two new Feats: Metamagic Freedom - which allows you to stack Metamagic feat one on top of the others without limits, allowing you to cast a 10x Empowered Fireball if you so desire - and Automatic Metamagic Capacity, which gives you 1 free level of metamagic per round that you can add to any spell you cast. On first sight they look like game-wrecking buffs for spellacasters (that at Epic levels hardly needs any), and when applied to the horrifically hi-level mosters of the book they work, but if you're grinding levels one after the other you'll notice that they are massive Feat sinks with no major effects.
The size rules for D&D had their limitations, because the original Game Designers thought that facing monsters the size of a Great Wyrm Red Dragons would be sufficient for anybody... Woe unto them.
The new scale system is simple yet clever: you start with the standard progression (Fine, Diminutive, Tiny...), and when you get past Titanic (the old Colossal+) you start again by adding the "Macro" prefix: "Macro-Fine", "Macro-Diminutive" etc. The book comes with handy tables detailing the basic stats for monsters of all sizes up to Mega-Fine (which are nearly 100 miles tall. Overcompensating much?). But if you feel that's still limiting, fear not: with some reverse engineering you can expand things up to "Xona" sizes and roleplay Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann at full scale. Fuck yeah.
If this sounds insane, congratulations: it means that you still have a modicum of sanity left. But this is not always the case: there are people around with an Excel spreadsheet and too much time on their hands and, inevitably, this happened.
As mentioned before, in this book everything goes into Insane Troll Logic territory really fast, but you just can't see the exact moment when common sense runs down the drain and you are left in a padded cell mumbling "ROLLING D1000 FOR DAMAGE, YESssS"... So let's examine this train of thoughts:
- Strength is related to muscle mass. Yes, stands to reason
- So if a character is stronger, he should be heavier. Yes, I know. When I go to the gym I get heavier, because muscle mass is heavier than fat, also I gain muscle mass
- Epic characters and monsters are really strong, and their strength is not modified by antimagic fields ...and your point is?
- So their strength is not supernatural but merely physical Ah, ok...
- They are stonger, so they must have more muscle mass, yet they are not bigger. This means they are DENSER! Wait, what? This kinda makes sense but...
- But wait, there's more! If a character gets denser as he gets stronger... I don't like this... at all
- It means he gets stronger as he gets denser! Dude, you're insane... No, wait, it works: a small character that weights a lot must be really strong if he's to get around.... Why does this sound reasonable? AARRGH, get out of my head!
- So I can reverse-engineer density-to-strength ratios and.... Look, a Golem made from the heart of a dying star!! Look at his stats! over 200.000HPs! +666 on fortitude saves!
In short the new density determines strength rules plays out like this: the denser a character is, the stronger it gets. Let's not indulge ourselves in rational thought like "Hey, but wouldn't a superheavy man standing on his feets just, you know, sink?" and appreciate the sheer controlled madness of all this.
The Handbook details a huge quantity of new monsters and new templates, of variable quality but general good execution. The declared CR for monsters are off-the-charts, and even if some of the mosters are MASSIVELY over-CRed, all the critters requires a lot of effort to be put down. All CRs must be taken with a pinch of salt, and some of them can be defeated by beings of an order of magnitude (or more) lower level than they are - but this is mostly due to Epic-Level D&D being more broken than a NEET bank account than bad design on the author's part.
Many monster concepts are good, with a bunch of Eldritch Abominations done absolutely right, and a Game Master worth his salt should be able to turn them into interesting encounters and good Final Bosses to use in more sensible games.
- Amilictli (CR 62): has the dubious privilege of being displayed on the cover. Basically a supermassive air elemental with tornadoes for fingers that grows stronger and stronger the more you hurt him.
- Anakim (CR 38): Hyper strong human-looking abominations. Despite being mouthless they have a good sonic attack due to the author being familiar with '90s videogames and old, good sci-fi, and has an everdancing chain as a weapon because if Andromeda from Saint Seiya can have one so can an half-naked brute.
- Gibborim (CR 48): a gargantuan monster born out of the vomit of Gods of gluttony and hunger. While not huge, it's a lot bigger on the inside: its innards are a nightmare of flesh and putrid acids that functions as a separate demiplane notable for having his own Random Encounter table. You've read that right: an encounter table for the insides of a monster, complete with questing Devas on the rescue of trapped inhabitants, acid rains and 24HD Digesters. While the concept is brilliant, a monster looking like an obese man with an elephant head and having two stumpy chicken-wing arms is not exactly scary. The name is taken from Biblical mythology.
- Odium (CR 42): The bastard love-child between a Venus Flytrap and some Cthulhoid abomination, it's a carnivorous plant that uses enslaved victims as puppets. Not the most inventive of monsters, but perfect if you want to play Invasion of the Body Snatchers 2: Electric Boogaloo.
- Sadim (CR 39): A Construct that rises from treasure hoards possessed by the Gods of Greed. They desire gold and wealth above everything else, but they spread a magical disease that causes valuable items to crumble to dust - so they need to steal continuously. Sadim is Midas spelled backwards, for those who can't find their own asses using both hands and a Find Ass spell.
- Cherumim (CR 136):
- Elohim (CR 46): Why would you name an angel "God"?
- Kyriotates (CR 92):
- Malakim (CR 61):
- Ophanim (CR 130):
- Seraphim (CR 182): The Angels of Love, and their love will make you explode unless you have at least 88HD. Yes, it makes no sense.
- Akishra (CR 44): An infinitely long, eyeless Anglerfish in spaaace! that takes reality and divides it by zero. Also the severed tentacle of a Cogent (see below). A scary-as-hell monster that feeds on dead gods in the Limbo, appears to be infinitely long because it transcends reality and can surround you by himself and attack you anywere by bending space. Despite being the severed part of another monster, there's an 8-headed version of this called an Astral Hydra (CR 87) - because fuck you fluff. This baby can pull off 64 attacks of opportunity per round. Can you spell rape?
- Cogent: Floating brains. May sound silly, but read on. Disembodied brains of the Elder Gods, they come from the Far Realm to party hard and are totally capable of tearing Reality a new one since they give exactly zero fucks to even basic rules like "look, we play in 3 spatial dimensions here". One of their ability is called Mind Boggling and allows them to attack a single target with all of their tentacles at once - you have seen enough Hentai so see were this is going, and that's before you factor in the fact that each tentacle is a monsters that makes an Anglerfish looks like a cute fluffy bunny.
- Grigori: Uatu the Watcher from Marvel Comix. No, we don't know what the fuck he's doing here, either.
Daemons, Demons and Devils
Neutral Evil spirits form the Lower Planes,
- Cicatrix: The Horse-Headed head torturer of the Lower Planes, draped in the flayed skin of his victims. It's supposed to cause fear and generally be horrible and fearsome, until you realize you're looking at an horse wearing a robe. Is worshipped as a minor deity, because if someone believes in a 75-million-year old tirant that killed people by bombing volcanoes venerating an evil horse is pretty normal by comparison.
Loads and loads of them.
- Quintessence Elemental
- Diamond Golem
- Force Golem
- Ioun Golem
- Mercury Golem
- Neutronium Golem
- Orichalcum Golem
- Akalich: A Lich with all the Lichness turned up to eleven, so he's able to Lich like no one has ever Liched before. As you can become and Akalich only after having existed as a Demilich for longer than written history, your bones have long been eroded by time, and just the soul gems remains. They can fly around faster than a jet (because why not) and can use the high level souls he has captured to respawn themselves or deal a couple of hundred HPs of damage with no save allowed.
- Amidah: The Ultimate Mary Sue. Literally, all there in the manual: he uses D100s for hit dice, has maximum hit points per dice; can use Wishes at will, is Omnicompetent I.E. he knows everything, and is perfect at everything he does. You name it, he's got it. The example character is the aforementioned 117th Albino Vampire Warrior that fights with 6 major artifacts at once. For some reason "Amidah" is the central prayer of the Jewish liturgy, not that it matters.
- Atata: The template with the goofiest name ever. It supposed to be the exclamation of anguish an immortal creature utters when is released from an eternity of torture. Derp.
- Dire Creatures: Remember how this book introduces a whole new system for monster sizes, allowing you to get monsters as big as planets? New Dire templates lets you exploit the system for Fun and Profit. Remember that you can stack multiple templates one above the other.
- Simple Dire creatures have been around since 1st Edition, remember the Giant Space Hamster?
- Behemots are creaturs increased by two size categories, still nothing offensive
- Teratoid creatures gets 3 size categories larger.
- Brobdingnagian: (say that 10 times, fast) makes a creature 4 size categories larger. Take a Tarrasque, make it Teratoid then add this template and you get Lavos from Chrono Trigger, complete with world-ending spike rain.
- Macrobe: A creature with 10 size categories added. It seems harmless, but if you take an unsuspecting Turtle and make it a Double Macrobe, you get A'Tuin the Star Turtle from Discworld, and if it has stats you can kill it
Revisions and work in progress