Old Greybeard that started role-playing in the early '90s. Bear with me as I ramble on.
This is my sandbox
"The Time Lords were the Type 4 civilization. We had no equals. We controlled the fundamental forces of the entire universe. Nothing could communicate with us on our level. Most races pray to lesser beings than the Time Lords."
— Now roll 1034D1000 for Initiative
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 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, that also gets 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 spellcasters (that at Epic levels hardly needs any), and when applied to the horrifically hi-level monsters 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 stronger, 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 200.000HP! +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 monsters are MASSIVELY over-CRed, all the critters requires a lot of effort to be put down. All stated CRs must be taken with a pinch of salt, as 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.
Actually using the monsters "as stated" is an interesting experiment. Some of them rolls so many dice that you need a spade or a bucket: the Great Wyrm Nexus Dragon has 680D1000 hit points, meaning that you need to roll 2040 dices just to start the encounter. At 10 gram per dice, it's a weight of 20 kilos - 44 pounds for the less enlightened.
Then there's the logistics of the fight: some of the monsters have a superluminal speed, meaning that you just can't see them. And if you think about it for a second, you'll realize that something hitting you at light speed is... well, let's say that "total point-black annihilation" barely describes it.
- 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.
Angels are a really questionable aspect of the D&D mythology: their existence implies the existence of an "absolute" God rather than the multiple pantheons that are common in all setting. Also PCs that fights monsters in the level of magnitude of those described there are probably minor Deities or Demigods themselves, so the existence of a God with a standing army is problematic to say the least. All this is obviously totally unanswered, and all the explanations you get are a nice chart with precise numbers for all types of angels, an omnipotent and omniscient God, infinite Time Lords (yes, literally like our beloved gallifreyan Doctor) and some mystical mumbo-jumbo.
- Cherubim (CR 136): You all know Cherubins right? Plump kids flying around with bows that makes you fall in love? Well, forget about it: this Cherubim is an huge Lamassu that left the Chaos Dwarves when Warhammer fantasy forgot about them, took a bunch of steroids and ended up here as one of the strongest angels. Members of the Egkosmioi (the First Choir of Angels), only 24 of them exists, every one "woven" in a layer of the higher planes (how? Sodomy Non Sapiens), so don't expect them to just wander around. Their roar alone causes enough damage to one-shot Great Wyrms and keeps echoing until someone stops it via 'miracle' or 'wish' and they give off a constant Prismatic Spray in addiction to being constantly on fire.
- Elohim (CR 46): the classic Battle Angel In Shining Armour Carrying Huge Sword To Smite Sinners that fundamentalists jacks off to. Each one of them commands an army the approximate size of the entire military of a mid-sized nation. One question remains: why would you name an angel "God"?
- Kyriotates (CR 92): basically Battlepopes tha carries a tiara and a cross and are dressed up in a white robe, only they're called a "Triple Crown", a "Double Rod" and the "Robes of the Septemnary". Each of the 7 of them is the Governor of an Upper Plane, which makes no sense: just imagine the vikings of Ysgard or the beasts of the Beastlands bowing down to a Pope, even one as badass as this.
- Malakim (CR 61): An Assassin Angel that puts the FUN back into FUNdamentalist.
- OphanimCR 130): The rulers of the Second Choir of Angels, only one of them now exists even if in the past they were hundreds. For no reason whatsoever they have a Ray attack that changes your sex.
- Seraphim (CR 182): One of the two monsters in the books cover and by far the strongest. An angel with 4 heads and 12 wings, they can convert you to Good by simple touch - because screw you free will - and generally kick an incredible amount of ass. Somehow they obey to the far weaker Ophanimsm and have the cosmic string ability that states that the are can't be killed by adversaries weaker than them. They also are the Angels of Love, and their Love will make you explode unless you have at least 88HD - don't think about this too hard. Powerful opponents derived from a boring concept, but one of the Adventure Ideas given for this monster is really nice: an artifact that can rotate the axis of the outer planes, changing the Alignment of their inhabitants accordingly. Why such an object was ever made is not stared, but we can imagine a trickster overgod planning a Trolling of multiversal proportions, and could make the basis for a really good Doctor Who episode.
- 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 anywhere 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?
- Brood: Essentially, Slaads 2.0. They live in the plane of Limbo and embody Chaos and randomness. Sygyzy (CR 40) the Brood Lord of Time looks like two toad-like humans joined by the head, one with its feet to the floor and one to the ceiling. It's as stupid looking as it sounds.
- Cogent (CR 88): 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 abyssal fish looks like a cute fluffy bunny.
- Grigori (CR 17): Uatu the Watcher from Marvel Comix. No, we don't know what the fuck he's doing here, either.
Daemons, Demons and Devils
Evil spirits form the Lower Planes, complete with hierarchy and precise numbers: for instance there are exactly 888000 Low Daemons. No clue of how this works, but we can imagine the Lower Planes' most unfortunate clerk crossing out the number then walking up to a lesser Daemon and telling him "Look, John has been butchered, you've been promoted, sign here, here and here" every time you kill one of the poor sods. Daemons are Neutral Evil and should represent the Yugoloths, Demons are Chaotic Evil and takes the place of Tanar'ri, while Devils are the Legal Evil Baatezu.
- Cicatrix (CR 31): 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 scary, 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 tyrant that killed people by bombing volcanoes venerating an evil horse is pretty normal by comparison.
- Kabiri (CR 43): The Master of Secrets. A demon with 6 shadows that can trigger PTSD.
- Maskim(CR 60): The former rulers of the Nine Hells, of which 7 are stated to exist. How they divided 9 layers between 7 kings is not mentioned, but we can expect a lot of Derp was involved. One of their powers is derived by literal poor hygiene, as they are so covered in blood that weapons skid on them.
No D&D bestiary is complete without adding a lot of new Dragons. The Immortals Handbook is no exception. The book divides them into 4 main categories:
- True Dragons: Your standard Dragon
- Epic/Neotic Dragons: The class of beings that includes good ol' Tiamat, Bahamut and all the huge serpent-like monsters from mythology
- Adamic Dragons: Dragons in spaaace!. Million years old, they are distinguished by never having just one head: they have two or more or none.
- Nehashimic Dragons: Superdragons
in spaaace!from other diiiiimensions!. More Cosmic Horrors than Dragons, they are billion years old and looks like something a cubist artist on heavy drugs would draw during a really bad trip.
All this dragons age like any other, with their power growing and expanding with each age category, and they reach truly ridiculous levels of power. In the following list the CR are listed for both Wyrmling and Great Wyrm, but since all of this Dragons are immortal they can be advanced beyond using standard rules.
- Time Dragon (CR 116/248): Two-headed Adamic Dragon - looks like a snake the size of a supertanker with one head on its tail and spiraling horns. Its seventh sense ability allows him to meta-game: every day he can replay a number of rounds equal to its age category. Good luck DMing that.
- Nexus Dragon (CR 416/680): No, you haven't misread that. Nexus Dragons, as all Nehashimic Dragon, are a middle finger to the laws of physics - and it shows: they have a stupid amount of Hit Points (wyrmling starts with over 400000HP), they know every skill, can duplicate every spell up to 100+ level as a free action every round, their breath weapon eradicates you so hard that prevents you from ever having existed at all, they nullify your levels just by existing, you will go permanently insane just by looking at them and they gain a Size Category every round because they break reality. Have Fun.
- Platinum Dragon (CR 29/95): A Dragon Paladin which looks like an unicorn. Calling them [[[Bronies]] will get you multiple new assholes in places where no asshole should ever be.
- Polychromatic Dragon (CR 20/86): Evil beasts born out of "normal" dragons, they are so loathed that they are killed in their infancy by their own mothers. Good luck pulling that off, thought, since even a Very Young Polychromatic Dragon is a CR26 beast that can take a Red Dragon, bend him over and tell him to bite the pillow.
- Timber Dragon (CR 26/92): A Dragon druid that resembles a tree so much that it can't fly in winter due to having lost all its foliage. Yes, it's a Dragon tree. If you make a Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great Wyrm Timber Dragon you get Yggrdasil
- Titanium Dragon (CR 29/95): Epic Dragons with scales that looks like armour. Likes to fight. Really not interesting.
- Void Dragon (CR 128/260): An headless Dragon made of night, hate and void, that causes permanent damage and erases non-magical matter with their bare claws. They have the Abrogation supernatural ability that allows them to negate the benefit of the enemy's strongest ability. What it is or how to determine which to negate is not specified, so expect much trolling if you ever play against one of those. Interesting monster and good execution, but the overall effect is somewhat spoiled when you read the Adventure Idea: "An immortal adventurer returns claiming to have encountered a demiplane where the missing heads sprout like trees" and try to make a mental image of that.
- Quintessence Elemental (CR 10/52): as the name implies, is an elemental made out of Quintessence. Quintessence is what make Gods divine, and apparently you can take the divinity out of a God and have it walk around as an autonomus entity. You are even given a spell that's literally named god-scissors to separate a God form it's Godhood. They look like Zeus on fire.
- Unelemental Elemental (CR 10/52): sentient and humanoid Spheres of Annihilation. Nothing special, but a tough nut to crack since the damage they do is permanent.
- Diamond Golem
- Force Golem
- Ioun Golem
- Mercury Golem (CR 12/153): the T-1000 from the much belowed movie Terminator 2. The rules works a lot on the unstoppable aspect of the
TerminatorMercury golem, but sadly doesen't mention shapeshifting.
- 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 an 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 HP of damage with no save allowed. (It's LICHTASTIC!!)
- 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?
- Behemoths are creatures 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.