Classic Review by Crothian
One type of book that I do not seem to see as often these days are books filled with bits that are easy to incorporate into one’s game. I think that was always been a strength of the d20 system. Sure people complained about books filled with feats, prestige classes, spells, equipment, etc.; but in the end it is these types of books that are easiest to use in a game. Many books seem to want one to start a new campaign using the books and while that can be good and fun there are simply to many books that seem to have this as their goal. I have selves filled with books that I really like, but because I would need to build a campaign around them instead of having them easily fit into the campaign I want to build they get little use. This is one thing I really enjoy about the small PDFs some companies put out. They are designed to be used in my game right now. I like that and I tend to find a way to use these books since they are so easy to use.
Masterworks Monsters: Bugbear Feats and Throwback is a new PDF by Clockwork Golem Worshop. This PDF Company has done a nice job with small PDFs that are about one topic. They have been very easy to use in my games. This nine page PDF has a basic layout with a few pieces of art. It is all black and white with some minor page borders making it easy to print out. There are no book marks in the book and while such a small product does not benefit as much with book marks as say a 256 page campaign setting; I still always like to see book marks. They are one of the big advantages over printed books PDFs have.
The book covers new options for bugbears. I think this is great as it takes a standard monster people know and expands upon them in easy ways within the rules of the game. Bugbears for the most part area race that has not been expanded on a lot. There is a Slayers Guide to Bugbears Mongoose put out in the early days of d20 and Kenzer recently put out a very nice book for Kalamar that covered Bugbears as well as elves. So, it is nice to also see them take something that has little support as while there is a great amount of d20 books there are nice big gabs in the areas covered.
The book offers twenty five new feats specifically designed for Bugbears and one small class. While these options are specific to the Bugbear race there are a few that really can benefit other characters. One great thing is the bugbear attitudes and basic personality is well reflected in the feats. They are not redefining the bug bear. They are building upon what has been presented. Some of the feats enhance the natural attacks of the Bugbear like Bear Claws and Savage Bite that both increase the damage they can do with natural attacks. There is a nice meta magic feat that allows the caster to craft a small representation of their victim to make their spell be harder to resist for that person. There are feats that allow the Bugbears to get more use out of scavenged weapons and armor, even if they are broken, incomplete, or if the bug bear is untrained in the items. There is Strong Arm that allows one handed weapons that are not normally able to be thrown to be thrown. Many of the feats would be very useful for primitive and barbaric cultures as well as scavengers and bandits.
The Bugbear Throwback is a very interesting four level class. The idea is that as Bugbears age they regress. It is a rare class so not all Bugbears would go through this. It is not a prestige class so there are no requirements to get into the class. The class makes Bugbears a little stronger, a bit more able to survive in the wilderness, but they are illiterate. It is a nice simple class with a great idea behind it. The rules of the class are all simple and easy to incorporate.
Clockwork Golem Games once again has a nice creative book on a single topic. The rules are all fine and nothing looks like it would be close to questionable in terms of game balance. The feats offer a nice ability as well as a way to personalize the bugbears and role play them differently. The Throwbacks is a nice simple option that can really change how some Bugbears are. This is a good and solid small PDF that should benefit anyone interested in using and expanded on Bugbears in their game.