Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Runequest: Monster Island - an Overview

I'm still working through my physical copy of Book of Quests (don't have it in PDF) but I also have Monster Island in PDF format thanks to some timely PDF sales at rpgnow. This means I can provide some more details for those interested in what they get for the $14.99 PDF sale price.

Monster Island is one part sandbox setting and one part monster manual for Runequest 6. The book consists of a lengthy introduction to Monster Island proper, including a map. The print version has a full color pull-out version, and a separate Companion download for $4.99 includes this map with some collected charts and tables; presumably this keeps the price down on the main PDF. For those concerned about price, the black and white maps in the main book are perfectly serviceable. I haven't picked up the Companion yet, but will let you know if it's worth it when I do (come on rpgnow sales, don't fail me now!)

The  book spends roughly 187 pages on the island itself, although that includes 15 pages on the general nature of sandbox campaigns and how to run them. The latter half of the book is about 94 pages of monsters, and the book includes a wide variety of new beasties for your Runequest campaigns (and easily adapted to Legend, Magic World or BRP if you're using any of those systems, too). Here's a summary of the new monsters for those interested (note that some campaign specific monsters that appear in the setting section are not included):

Adaro (shark men, samebito)
Alan (moon bats)
Giant Ant Lion
Carnivorous Ape
Arumco (hellfrog)
Assassin Conch (terrifying sea snails)
Aswang (yes! I love Aswang as monstrous foes)
Bakunawa (a very neat and freaky shadow eel)
Bone Wraith
Bultingin (werehyenas!)
Byangoma (wise, fortune-telling magic birds)

...let me pause a moment to state that this monster list is AMAZING so far. Loads of fascinating and decidedly non-western mythical beasts, ripped right out of mythology and folklore....

Cannibal Spirit (wendigo)
Giant Centipede (welcome to Interzone, biatch)
Giant Clam
Cob Hobbler (probably one of the neatest new monsters in the book....a parasitic infestation that turns the victim into a spider-monster)
Giant Cockroach
Deathdrip Flowers
Dudreyas (a carnivorous plant with a siren like twist)
Dune Haunter (a sand ghoul!)
Dziwozoana (succubus-like swamp demons)
Giant Eagle
Giant Eel
Lightning Eel
Ettin (treated as a template applied to other humanoid creatures that would like more than one head; did not include a sample...i.e. an ogre-ettin or something, unfortunately, but the template is easy enough to apply)
Febrilis (winged snakes)
Flocks, Hoards, Packs and Shoals (a mess of tiny monstrosities and how to manage the swarms of such, includign bats, leeches, pirahna and more)
Flying Worms (oh yeah, they went there...purely awesome here)
Gibberer (a template for one possessed by a dark spirit)
Hitotsume-Kozo (a jump to Japanese legend, cyclopean Japanese boys....and we all know that Japanese children are terrifying)
Huakaipoor (warrior ghosts)
Ophidian Hydra (OMG a hydra at last statted out in Runequest. The world may end soon)
Isnashi (skunk ape meets King Kong)
Ivory Impaler (another deadly plant....Monster Island is a tough place....)
Succubus Ivy (...)
Giant Jellyfish
Jempulex (okay, I love this one...a hand-sized wasp that stings you to turn you into its zombie servant)
Kanaima (a werecreature formed from people bonded with/possessed by shape-shifting spirits)

...This is already my favorite monster book, fyi....

Kapre (bear men)
Kitsune (fox folk, natch)
Kraken (!)
Kulamyu Pod (we're in little shop of horrors land here now)
Lakooma....okay, this is one of my favorites....it's...well:

Lammasu (the classics! yay!)
Blood Lizards
Thorny Lizards
Lizardfolk of Monster Island (at last...at long last....lizardfolk, real, honest-to-god lizardfolk in the rule system most suited to their use and presentation in classic pulp fantasy....swoon; EDIT: sigh, I keep forgetting that RQ6 has lizardmen in it, too; its MW and some other D100 system books that are missing them. My bad!)
Malcathorn (a nasty beast)
Manananggal (a terrifying form of vampire....one of my favorites, used it extensively in it's Pathfinder incarnation)
Mantithorn Cactus
Mokele-Mbembe (my wife, being the cryptozoologist she is, should be happy to see him show up here)
Moonflower (there are a lot of deadly plants on Monster Island...)
Morko (a unique monstrous hag)
Lotus Moth
Naga (ah yes, one of my favorites)
Nanaue (weresharks of a fashion....disturbingly so...)
Nukekubi (a variant head-detaching monstewr ala the pennangalan, sweet zombie Jesus this book has a lot of cool monsters)
Olgoi (nasty worm)
Ophidiodis (literally a ball of snakes)
Panopticus (terrifying giant amoeba)
Pihuichen (another flying snake, this time vampiric)
Possessed Plant
Polong (a hideous thing created from the collected blood of the murdered)
Quathil (Runequest gets its version of the flumph)
Rokurokubi (long necked demons who masquerade as normal by day)
Giant Scarab
Sentinel (giant golem-like animated entities)
Spellbreaker Serpent
Serpent People (one cannot have a place called Monster Island without both lizardfolk and serpent people; I can now put my Malleus Monstrum book away, MI has all I need)
Snapdragon (one can imagine at this point the list of safe flora on MI is tiny)
Spineapple Tree
Tengu (for those who are accustomed to playing Tengu as PCs, I think these would work for such just fine, too)
Tetrapus (yet another great aberration; on MI they exude from the Smoking Mirror)
Therizinosaurus (hey....there are a lot of dinosaurs in this book...)
Tikbalang (another of my all time favorites; monsters of the forest formed from fetuses aborted by black magic)
Trifrond (read; triffid)
Tiger Turtle
Palm Vampire
Vorompatra (giant predatory flightless birds)
Vorslurp (brain eating slugs!)
Giant Vulture
Waheela (giant bear dogs)
Yeti (voormi...degenerate humanoids)

And that's just the regular bestiary. Many more sample monsters, NPCs and location-specific entities are detailed in the campaign section and the appendix is loaded with specific sample monsters. The best part of the appendix is on "The Gods That Walk," which is a polite way of saying "Kaiju!" Yep, we've got, among others (find the analogues...) Gamaru, Ghidoru, Kangu, Varanru (hint: Varanru is Gojira, m'kay) and more.

This is a loaded book. Will be buying the print version ASAP and now need to set my RQ6 campaign intentions to IMMEDIATE.


  1. Wow, now that is what I call an enthusiastic monster review. Many thanks. You chose a great picture for the header too! ;)

    1. No, thank you Pete for such a good book, this is the sort of stuff I was hoping you'd write, and you knocked it out of the park with this one!

  2. Russ Nicholson art? Excellent!

    I've been looking forward to this for several months. Great to hear that the PDF is available.