The Book of the Dead: An Undead Bestiary is a supplement by Timothy Gonzalez.
This is a pretty big supplement. It’s 142 pages and features 120 monsters. The supplement may be an undead bestiary, but it has some other types of monsters as well. They are connected, however, with death in one way or another. To be specific, the monsters you will find in this supplement are the following:
- 106 undead
- 3 oozes
- 3 beasts
- 4 constructs
- 1 humanoid
- 2 giants
- 1 dragon
Of course, the majority of the monsters included are undead. Someone could debate whether some should be undead but I won’t for two reasons. The first one is that it’s D&D and you can do whatever you like. The second one is that it’s good to experiment because you end up with interesting monsters to throw at your players. The only monster whose type I’d question would be the Cadaver Collector, because it’s mentioned it is a construct and has a construct nature, but in the stat block you’ll see it as an undead.
As for the variety of the monsters, I wasn’t disappointed. Some monster ideas are amazing. The Challenge Ratings go from 1/8 up to 27. In fact, there are four monsters above CR 24, and each one of them looks pretty dangerous. Around half of them, however, are in the CR 1-10 range, so they can easily be used. A helpful CR index is included at the end of the supplement.
Since I mentioned CR, though, I’d like to point out that you shouldn’t use only that when you want to decide which monster to use. That’s because a few of the monsters in this supplement have abilities that can put the characters in “save or die” situations. Most of these monsters have a CR of 8 and above, but there are a couple of them that are lower than that and can kill.
For example, the Entomber has a CR of 2 and can punch a character into the ground to the point that they start suffocating. Another example is the Gravecrawler (CR 3) that has an aura that can petrify anyone inside its radius. I don’t consider these monsters bad design but you should be careful when using some of them. One of the good parts of D&D 5th Edition is that monsters that have a lower CR than the party’s level can still be dangerous, and thus you can still make good use of them. Well, some of the monsters in this supplement take that to heart.
Every monster also comes with some information on its tactics. It’s not a huge segment, just a couple of sentences, but it covers all the important parts like how it engages combat, which attacks it prefers using, and under which conditions it may decide to flee. That’s really useful for new and experienced DMs alike.
Another important thing to note is that some of the monsters come with templates. This lets you create even more monsters using this supplement, because the templates target creature types. For example, humanoids can become Graveknights, elementals can become Necromentals, and any living creature can become a half vampire.
As for the art of the supplement, its nice. The cover is really beautiful and there’s artwork for the majority of the monsters. However, in some cases the artwork doesn’t exactly match the monster’s description.
The editing is good, with only minor errors, and the layout is great. The stat blocks don’t break over pages, which is helpful. I have only two issues here. The alphabetical and the CR indexes could have hyperlinks. This isn’t really an issue in most cases, but this is a 142 pages long PDF and hyperlinks could be extremely helpful. The second issue is that you can’t copy and paste stat blocks. Depending on how someone prepares their sessions, being able to copy stats from documents could be very useful.
Overall, The Book of the Dead: An Undead Bestiary is a good supplement. If you want a lot of undead monsters, templates that help you make even more, as well as some higher level enemies, you should check out this product.