Nightmares: A Saga Bestiary I for 5e
Designer: Matt Corley, Mark Hart, Cat Evans, Sandy Petersen
Artist: Graey Erb, Alyssa McCarthy, Carl Springer, Damien Mammoliti, Darko Kreculj, Dynasty Gusa, Erick Efata
Publisher: Petersen Games
Year Published: 2021
No. of Players: 2+ (1 game master and players)
Ages: Not listed (recommend 10+)
Playing Time: NA
Main mechanic / Theme: D&D 5e, Cthulhu Horror
Lovecraftian Horror comes in many guises.
As the adventurers continue on their path through the nightmarish lands of forgotten times and places, they maintain their vigilance against the creatures that either twisted this place or were twisted by it. There are monsters they have never seen but have heard about in the tales of those who are mad. Every sound is a warning, every shadow a nemesis. Never knowing what to expect, they move forward with desperate hopes of seeing a new day.
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Sandy Petersen Games has released a collection of monsters designed for and from their Cthulhu Mythos Saga settings. Nightmares: A Saga Bestiary I is a collection of monsters developed from the first three Sagas: Ghoul Island, Yig Snake Granddaddy, and Dark Worlds.
I received a copy of Nightmares: A Saga Bestiary I for review purposes.
If you are already running one of the three Sagas, you will recognize some of the 100 plus monsters in this collection. Because it includes the encounters from those settings, this is a great addition to any of them for creating side adventures to what the campaign settings have in them. Having the monsters in a separate book to make them easier to reference and it helps hide the fact the party is having an encounter.
Every monster included has a complete statistics block and a visual representation. The layout makes the book easy to use with the information for running the encounter on one page. The art fits the theme and tone of a solid piece of Arkham Horror. You don't have to worry about how to explain how the monstrosity looks, you can show it.
Not everything is a monster. There is plenty of information on the more mundane encounters included in the Sagas to expand any of those or your own horror campaign, or you can use them to give a little twist to any base fantasy setting.
The rest of the layout makes entries easy to find and use. Everything is easy to read. If you need to pull together an encounter, there is a Challenge Rating table to keep a balance for your adventurers.
Using Beyond the Sagas
There is plenty of great information that can be used even if you are not running one of the Sagas. In earlier editions, there were creatures from Lovecraftian horror. This tome updates some to include in the 5e system (like the Gibbering Mouthling).
Horror elements are usually a part of any major story. Those elements can come in different ways. Nightmares gives a collection of creatures from the dark Under Hells and the age of dinosaurs. If you're using the Planet Apocalypse campaign setting or Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Mythos Nightmares will give you readily available encounters and side quests. A game master can easily add an encounter out of this encyclopedia into an existing campaign to provide their group something they may have never seen before.
Because Nightmares is developed for the 5e system, this work can also be easily used and adapted for a different genre and setting you may be playing. You may also come up with a new setting you want to run and mash in a few of the nightmares presented.
I like Nightmares. It is another great piece within the larger Cthulhu collection from Petersen Games. Putting this together with some of their other works is creating a solid reference group for a growing setting. I have also started thinking about crossovers with other genres.
I have a mixed group of players at my game table and there is nothing in this book I would feel uncomfortable sharing with any of them. I will admit the youngest player is in their mid-teens and some of the theme of horror might not be appropriate for younger players.
I recommend Nightmares for gamers who like horror, especially Cthulhu. Game masters who are looking for something different and new for their table will find this volume of encounters useful.
Lissa, our priestess, stared at the slowly disappearing puddle as the remains of the creature melted away into a vile smelling steam. Her mental state was already being questioned by Garlyn who felt his mastery of magic gave him protection. I could tell she would be fine. Urlan and Karl were already making a perimeter check to secure the area. The trees could hide all sorts of things, but there was nothing out there that would harm us.
I knew these things. I knew because I'd heard Hastur's name and embraced. Now I had his blessing, and I am preparing his path.
About the Author
Daniel Yocom does geeky things at night because his day job won't let him. This dates back to the 1960s through games, books, movies, and stranger things better shared in small groups. He's written hundreds of articles about these topics for his own blog, other websites, and magazines after extensive research along with short stories. His research includes attending conventions, sharing on panels and presentations, and road-tripping with his wife. Join him at guildmastergaming.com.