A Folklore Bestiary is a collection of monsters inspired by folk tales, by the Merry Mushmen.
The Merry Mushmen have created a very interesting collection of creatures that come from folk tales. These creatures come from three different continents so there are a lot of different ideas to get inspiration from. The Folklore Bestiary is available for 2 systems, one being D&D 5th Edition and the other one being Old-School Essentials.
There are 38 monsters included in this book, ranging from CR 1/8 to CR 22, meaning it covers pretty much every level of adventure. Each monster entry begins with a mention of where they come from and their pronunciation. While seemingly minor additions, I believe they are important. It’s good to know how your monsters are pronounced (so you can be able to tell their names to your players without delays caused by too much laughter) but also knowing their origin allows you to research further if you are interested.
Next, we get a few paragraphs of lore regarding the monster, the stat block itself, and, finally, some plot hooks that allow you to use the monster more easily along with roll tables. The amount and type of roll tables vary with each monster. And this is the standard part of each monster. After that, we get different pieces of content that are either related to the monster’s lore, or that help you use the monster. So, in this book, you will get about half a dozen small dungeons, 2 new races, a couple of adventures, a hex map, and more.
What all this content does is that it allows you to open the book on a random page and, most probably, be able to run a quick adventure without really having to prepare anything, or having to open another book. You can just read about one of the monsters and run a session with just the content that comes along with it. And to help with that even further, it also has 6 ready characters for players to use.
Art & Layout
The book mostly uses the standard two column per page layout. However, the ton of roll tables, hooks, and the rest of the extra content comes like notes added on top of pages and in various colours. I think this is something some may like and others dislike, depending on how readable it is for them. For me, who doesn’t like having a monotonous piece of long text, is something nice that also helps me easily mentally mark what I have read and where I am on a page.
As for the art, the style is somewhat cartoonish but also dark, which manages to perfectly capture the spirit of the book. Each monster entry comes with a full page piece of art. Apart from that, you may see a small sketch or two as well. Finally, the ones that come with a dungeon or an adventure also have a map.
The Physical Book
The physical book is hardcover and A5 in size. This scratches an itch I have on the back of my brain because it looks similar to a journal, and I love journals. Plus, it’s much easier to carry and I can literally just grab that and a set of dice and go anywhere to run a session. The paper is coated paper so it is quite glossy and easy to turn. The pages can probably withstand some wear and tear, but I suggest being careful with them nonetheless.
A Folklore Bestiary is a fantastic book. It’s not just a collection of monsters. The content it provides allows you to just take this book and run a session. Moreover, the monster entries are packed with lore and ideas in such a way that will make you look up more folk tales in order to create similar creatures. You should definitely give the book a look because you will definitely find something that piques your interest.
You can find the D&D 5th Edition version here and the Old-School Essentials version here.