Friday, September 10, 2021

Reading the Mazes & Minotaurs Creature Compendium: "A"

People are reading the D&D monster books like the Monster Manual and the Fiend Folio, rating and commenting on each creature, a format I quite enjoy. So let's read the Mazes & Minotaurs Creature Compendium! Like all M&M books, it's available for free. Like all M&M books, it's equal parts silly and fun and playable.

Mazes & Minotaurs, by the way, has a pretty good way of creating new monsters, a modular system that lets the Maze Master pick special features from a list, sum it all up, and then calculate experience rewards. It's not a quick system, but overall quite interesting. It is detailed in the Maze Masters Guide. So generally if you can't find the monster of your dreams in the Compendium, you can try and create it using the guidelines.

The Maze Masters Guide is also important, because that is where all the monster special powers are explained in detail. This is maybe a bit of an oversight :( Because unless you remember how exactly a power, say, "Crushing Missiles" works, you have to find it in a different book. I made a print-out for myself for quick reference, maybe I'll post it at some point.

But let's get down to business... All the creatures beginning with alpha letter "A"!

Aberrant Beast

We start off with a lesser variant of the Chimera. Useful if you want to spring a classic mythological beast on your group in the earlier stages, but not very creative from a monster design standpoint. 


This first page is already pretty representative of M&M: half of the monsters are from Greek mythology, the other half are thinly veiled pop culture references :) This is a snowman from Hyperborea, so specific to a far-away land. I guess you can re-skin it to use as an ape-creature in other circumstances. The description notes that the Crushing Missiles feature is how the Abominathol causes avalanches, so that's a good reminder of how this monster can challenge the group. Add a half star for that!


I have mixed feelings about this creature. On the one hand, it is very evocative, a great addition to any forest adventure. On the other hand, I hate it how in the description the mythical individual Actaeon is changed to "Prince Acteos" and "Acteon" becomes a type of a creature, grrrrr, I just don't like such letter changes. Just call the prince Actaeon and the creatures Actaeonids or something. In my own M&M campaign I generally prefer to just use the myth as-is, and not create a "pseudo-myth".
Still, it's a good creature, and useful for low level adventures.


Alseids I like! They are based on myth, but retain their original name, and gain a new spin. I find that this entry builds on myth in an interesting way. They are nymphs who live in ancient ruins, "ruin spirits" or sorts. So definitely a type that adventurers come across often. The description includes good hooks: "Alseids can be very hostile to anyone trying to steal from their ruins, but can also help adventurers who wish to rid those ruins of unwanted creatures".


Obligatory "not-Egypt" Desert Kingdom creature. With Psychic powers! That's a nice Stygian touch. I don't have much else to say about them.


Useful to have, especially as a generic template for any kind of beastly humanoid. Not very evocative or inspiring.


Another representative of the "individual mythic hero or creature turned into a creature type", but it's many-eyed Argus, so it's super cool. "They make excellent guardians" is a useful hint on how to use them in-game (or myth). Big scary giant boy.
In true Mazes & Minotaurs fashion, we get a note that they are "(quite logically) natural enemies of Cyclops".


This is the good stuff, straight from the Herodotean weird bestiary. Who else should populate the margins of your game world?! Horse-riders, Griffin-hunters, fashion icons.


Woman-headed panther of the Desert Kingdom, "love to taunt their prey" - this is a good thing to play up, but, unlike sphinxes, "rarely ask riddles". The additional lore section adds that sometimes these creature are adopted as pets by evil sorcerers, which is a good sword, sorcery & sandals trope, and bumps up this creature a category higher.

Atlantean Noble & Atalantean War Slave

An absolute necessity for any pulpy myth adventure. Haughty decadent psionic precursor race. The Nobles are accompanied by War Slaves, mindless fanatical warriors created by psychological conditioning. This is quite dark stuff.

Attack Kelp

No underwater adventure is complete without the Attack Kelp. Solid monster as obstacle.


Man-sized metal warriors, created by Daedalus. There are other animate warriors later on in the Compendium, this being the least powerful one. I'd say it somehow even feels... underpowered. Not the fight you'd expect from a bronze soldier. But otherwise, it's okay in my books.

This is it for aleph letter "A"!

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