Mutated Monsters Review

The writers of Mutated Monsters went all out when it comes to creepy in this book. The art is amazing and just adds to the feeling of dread players will have when dealing with some of these creatures. It was like the writers took an average 5E monster and asked, “What kind of creature can we merge this with to make it nightmare fuel?”

5E Compatible Sourcebook from Dice Dungeons.

Wayyy back in 2021 when I still had gainful employment, I backed a book from Dice Dungeons called Mutated Monsters. Link to the Kickstarter here. I have not seen this book available commercially yet outside of Kickstarter and DriveThruRPG.

Link to the book on DriveThruRPG HERE.

It took Dice Dungeons a while to get these books out to the backers. The wait was totally worth it and we did get the pdfs well ahead of the printed material. I suspect a lot of the printing and shipping delays were a mish-mash of Covid, cargo ships stuck sideways, shortages, etc. They did the best they could getting it out to us.

Nightmare fuel to make your 5E players shudder.

The writers of Mutated Monsters went all out when it comes to creepy in this book. The art is amazing and just adds to the feeling of dread players will have when dealing with some of these creatures. It was like the writers took an average 5E monster and asked, “What kind of creature can we merge this with to make it nightmare fuel?”

I was excited about this from some of the social media ads that Digital Dice ran prior to the Kickstarter. The mutated rat shown was enough to convince me to add this to my already large collection of 5E monster books. If a regular rat was made this terrifying, imagine what they could do to a T Rex or a Kraken? <shudder>

A few highlights.

This is a list of the things that stood out to me, but there is much more worth digging into on these pages.

  • Animated Topiary. I was overjoyed to see this monster return to 5E because it was one of my favorites from an old 3E supplement.
  • Annhilator Worm. It’s a Purple Worm, only made more Kaiju and harder to kill. This is one most adventurers are going to be able to just hack down. If low or mid level characters see one, their best bet really is to run away. The artwork alone is intimidating on top of the lore. The stat block almost seems superfluous.
  • Arachin. <shudder> Spider + animal, humanoid or other monster. Yeesh. I mean, awesome for a dungeon I’m working on, but definitely creepy.
  • Behir Mastermind. Let’s take something that was fearsome on it’s own and give it an oversized brain, some innate spells that resemble psionics on top of its usual Behir abilities. Frightening at any level. The art for this monster stands out.
  • Bulette variants. Amazing artwork. Absolutely devastating to run into either one. If properly combined with terrain or other monsters, either of these variations could spell doom for many adventurers. Why the wasp? (Cries for the PCs.)
  • Cockatrice of the Burning Sands. Thinly veiled Dark Sun reference? Maybe? Cool creature nonetheless. Beware ye caravans of the desert sands for ye may not return. Really would work in Athas.
  • Cricket Panther. Terrifying and strange. Definitely not something to underestimate. Fabulous art on this one.
  • Dragon, Mechanical. As the name suggests, a clockwork not to be underestimated.
  • Dragon, Vampiric. A writer after my own heart created this. I ran something similar in a 3.5E dungeon once. Ah, fond memories and now there’s a 5E version that can maybe get the job done.
  • Iron Aboleth. They took one of the most intimidating aquatic monsters (with psionics) and made it a huge construct. Because it wasn’t hard enough to kill before?
  • Naga, Scorpion. I gotta find me a way to work one of these things into a dungeon strictly for the intimidation value. Spells + multiattack + poison (OMG the poison…) + Lair actions = crazy dangerous.
  • Nature Guardian. Serious Princess Mononoke vibes on this one.
  • Owlbear, Fire Breathing. Hats off to whomever came up with this one. It rocks.
  • Remorhaz, Crystal. Another one of my absolutely favorite creatures made more deadly and far harder to kill. Oh, and more dangerous in its home environment than ever before. Great art all throughout the book. The picture for the Crystal Remorhaz is excellent.
  • Star Kraken. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water after seeing the Shipwreck Whale, there’s this Chaotic Evil CR 25 Titan. I can scarcely describe the amounts of damage this thing is capable of doing. Truly frightening.
  • Starved Lich. Because the well-fed kind weren’t undead enough? Interesting concept for many a DM’s favorite monster. It’s a soul vampire on top of all of the undead and spellcasting a lich would normally have.
  • Troll, Translucent. They turn invisible. They play pranks. Plus troll.
  • Turtle Shark. This book excels at giving me reasons to never put one of my own characters on a boat ever again. Megalodon with a shell. Abandoning ship is just like throwing fish food in the water for it.
  • Ventriloquist Snake. This particular danger noodle is capable of ruining an entire day’s travel for a group if encountered on the road.
  • Xorn, Flytrap. At least they’re not super aggressive. They lure unsuspecting adventurers in with the promise of a shiny jewel then slurp them down like a Venus Flytrap with a house fly.

These are just a smattering of the ones that stood out to me as a DM and a monster collector. I really have to say how much I really love the art for this book. It truly makes the creatures in this book come to life.

Another sweet, sweet feature of Mutated Monsters is the “Additional Loot” on many of the monsters. Look. You can make a +1 dagger out of this creature’s horn. You can use this creature’s scales for a Potion of Invisibility, etc. It’s so cool that they took the time out to put these little tidbits in the book. I wish Wizards of the Coast, with their overpaid writing team, would learn to do the same. But, hey, at least they let the indie creators do all the fun stuff.

It’s not just cool creatures.

There are some pretty epic lairs in this book, too. We like to talk about Lair Actions in D&D, but how often do we get cool lairs to go with them. This is enhanced further by each lair having regional effects and additional actions available to the lair’s owner or denizens. My favorite is the Demon’s Castle. It’s pretty much certain doom for adventurers before the proper dungeon is even built.

The Alterkin and new subclasses.

The Alterkin are shapeshifters of sorts and offer the only new Ancestry available to the players. There are also new subclasses for the Barbarian, Bard, Monk, and Ranger. My only criticism here is I wish there had been more options for this section. There is a lot of room for development of Clerics, Fighters, Paladins, and Warlocks. It felt like the creators ran out of time or energy in this section.

New mounts and new deities.

There are several mount possibilities throughout the book and toward the end there is a new taming system and more mounts. What character wouldn’t want to bond with a Sabertooth Rhino? Clockwork Elephant would be a pretty shiny cool mount if a character were to harness one.

The Gods of Mutation section is well crafted. I think it might take some work on the part of the DM to fit them into a preexisting pantheon such as Forgotten Realms. But if the DM is going to use some of the more profoundly frightening creatures in this book, why not have a god or demigod to go with them?

Wrapping up.

I’m happy and grateful to have backed this Kickstarter. The book is a good investment for game systems beyond 5E. I would recommend it for Dungeon Crawl Classics and Mutant Crawl Classics as well as Pathfinder. It’s also easily adapted to any number of other fantasy settings in order to really challenge the characters. It might also be useful for throwing those know-it-all players for a loop once they get the regular Monster Manual memorized.

In conclusion, I have high praise for Mutated Monsters. Please check it out if you get a chance. Thank you for being here. I appreciate it.

Author: Jeff Craigmile

I'm a tabletop role-playing game writer and designer from Des Moines, Iowa. I'm the father of four boys and human to three cats.

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