Product Reviews – Denizens of Avadnu (d20)

It’s amazing what you’ll buy for $10.

No, seriously. See, while you probably know I LOVE Paizo, there’s one thing I don’t like about them: Their shipping. Jesus Tapdancing Christ their shipping. It costs like woah, and I hate it. But, as I like to support Paizo, and they do tend to make it well worth my while, I ignore that little fact, and simply try to avoid snagging single items. As such, this often means I wait on purchases, or dig into their bargain bins.

Which brings us to today’s entry, Denizens of Avadnu, from the Violet Dawn campaign setting.

What’s that? You’ve never heard of it? You aren’t alone, as I had not either. What little I know of it has Violet Dawn coming from a small publisher going by the name of Inner Circle. So small, in fact, that they’ve switched over to full PDF printing for both, their older works and their new 4e products… Wait, I thought GSL didn’t allow that? Yeah, I thought that, once you printed your first 4e product, you were bound to the GSL, body and soul, your blood pact for supporting the horrible regime of…

… No, no, I’m not being a grognard, I just really hate GSL. Maybe I have a flawed understanding of it, or maybe they removed the “sadistic choice” element from it, as all it did was turn Paizo into a juggernaut…

Anyway, website is here, if you want to see it. Okay, so they haven’t updated much. Neither have I…

At any rate, what I’ll say us, Violet Dawn is weird. Here, I’ll quote from the back of the book: “Within these pages lurk Adavnu’s most malevolent spawn. From insidious vylar to rampaging hakalaa, from mighty automentals to nightmarish xxyth, the denizens of Avadnu are as unique as they are deadly.”

… Yeah. That kind of talk is just daring you to open the book, isn’t it? Well, when you do, you fund something you might not have expected from a small publisher: 227 pages, hardcover, full color, and dear god is it some good color we have here. The artwork and presentation are top-notch.

As for the monsters themselves? Kind of a mixed bag. No, not in the bad way; The book promises unique monsters for its Violet Dawn setting, and this book delivers. It’s just that… Avadnu is an alien world, so many of the creatures so presented are weird.

Some of them are pretty much twists on existing monsters, like the Automental, which was created from an attempt to fuse the four elements into a single construct. This granted them elemental attacks. So, golems with an attitude, all well and good. Then we have Inscribers, bizarre undead whose search for knowledge has driven them utterly mad, and in death, their continued ravings constantly appear on their own skin, which they have to periodically tear off and put into massive tomes they carry. Oh and they can drink the words from books. Okay… That’s something…

Then we get into the strange stuff, like the Dark Wanderer, mysterious shapeshifters who have the ability to change between their smaller, more seductive, female gender and their larger, reptilian, male counterparts… with four arms. Or how about the Goldencrest, a peculiar, seaborne ooze that is infused with positive energy.  Stranger still are their magical beast types, including the Grimvole, a rodent-like beast that emits a debilitating necrotic field (and can evolve into a larger form with intelligence and the ability to control undead…).

The list goes on, with creatures making strange use of light and darkness, mosters tied to the sun and the moon (including templates for this purpose), and bizarre outsiders that are pure chaos in a physical form.

Like I said; It’s weird.

But that’s a good thing, really. Each monster is unique in its own way, all have abilities that make them compelling opponents, and it paints Violet Dawn as a strange and outstanding world unto itself.

Also of note are the new magical items and Prestige Classes made available herein. I’d go so far as to say this book has something for almost everyone.

I don’t know how good Violet Dawn is as a setting, and frankly, I rather dislike “alien” worlds, as it makes it harder to sell on groups, but that’s just me. Likewise, though, this book is d20, meaning people who are running 4e games won’t be able to make use of it without converting the monsters first… But expect me to make a post on that in the future. Suffice it to say, it’s not that hard. Even then, if you were looking for ways to make monsters unique and memorable, this book has tons of inspiration.

Anyone with a current 3.5e, Pathfinder, or other similar d20 campaign could probably stand to snag this for $10. Or just grab the PDF from their website for $2.50… Paizo has been selling the book for a good two years now, and it still hasn’t gone out of stock, so they apparently have a lot of them left. That said, if it’s gone, just get the PDF. It’s worth it.

The price is right, either way.

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