What’s an RPG without a creature catalog? A few slices short of a loaf, I say. My favorite sourcebooks have always been the bestiaries, and The Encountered serves up a healthy dose of weird to mix into your post-apocalyptic Alpha Omega campaign.
It’s a few hundred years in the future, humankind has warped and splintered, society has devolved into walled city-states glaring at each other through their bristling defenses, and cosmic aliens walk the Earth alongside demons. Yeah, it was that kind of apocalypse. What does this world desperately need? I’ll tell you one thing, it probably doesn’t need zombies or hostile robotic children, but it’s getting them anyway.
I’ve already raved effusively about the gorgeous graphic design and color art in Alpha Omega’s Core Rulebook, and the creature catalog doesn’t drop the ball by any means. Each creature in the book gets a full-color image. Not some little pencil drawing, either – a big, evocative, awe-inspiring image like the Augmented Sentience Killer above. Major creatures get a two-page spread. Once again, Mind Storm has hit it out of the park in this regard.
The mechanics of the book are pretty nuts and bolts, exactly what you want out of a creature catalog. Each monster page is well-organized, and all the relevant stats are clearly displayed in one large vertical chart. A few paragraphs are given regarding each creature’s origin and behavior. Some GMs might prefer a bit more background material – this book leans toward crunchy stat blocks rather than a lot of fluff. The Encountered is not deficient in this regard – there’s good, often creepy info (including far more than you’d probably care to learn about the way reanimated corpses smell), just not pages and pages of it.
The creatures themselves are really quite weird (and I mean that as a compliment of the highest order). You’ve got the aforementioned AI kid-bots; freaky little mutants that are part living Cabbage Patch Kids, part post-apocalyptic cannibal hobbits; giant alien warbeasts; demon dogs; super-zombies and hideously mutated abominations that look like a casting call for a Tool video.
When released, The Encountered will contain 200 creatures within its 300 pages. PDF versions have already been sent to those who pre-ordered. Once all the kinks have been worked out, the hard copy will be released (it’s on the way to the presses and should be out in June). In the meantime, you can head over to the NWSEC Collaborative Workspace. NWSEC (New World Science and Engineering Commission) is the organization that catalogs critters in the Alpha Omega game world, and the workspace is a wiki where players and GMs can work together to develop their own monsters (as well as equipment and other useful items) to unleash on unsuspecting PCs. Don’t forget about the official Alpha Omega site, or the Mind Storm Labs official site.