What Do I Know About First Impressions? Hit Point Press Presents Big Bad Booklet Patreon

Picture2I thought I would look at another Patreon providing Dungeons & Dragons 5e content, and this time around, we’ll be looking at Hit Point Press’ Big Bad Booklet Patreon. The Big Bad Booklet is a product created by Hit Point Press to provide a “boss monster” character that DMs can slot into their campaigns, along with plot hooks and support material.

The Patreon

This Patreon has the following levels:

  • $2: PDF of the booklet and print and play PDF of the reference cards for the month
  • $10: PDF of the booklet, print and play PDF of the reference cards for the month, and physical copies of the reference cards
  • $15: PDF of the booklet, print and play PDF of the reference cards for the month, physical copy of booklet and reference cards
  • $20: PDF of the booklet, print and play PDF of the reference cards for the month, numbered physical copy of the booklet, printed reference cards, and an art print

In addition to the above, picking one of these levels of the Patreon grants access to the Discord server for the Patreon, as well as the ability to vote for what reference cards are going to be produced.

The Reference Cards

I’m only backing at the entry level, to get a peek at the Patreon, so I haven’t seen the physical reference cards. However, I do own the animated Deck of Many Things produced by Hit Point Press, so I have some idea of what the cards are like.

While these aren’t from the animated line, the physical cards that I have seen are solid tarot-card sized reference items. Depending on the type of reference card, there is an image on one side, along with some baseline information like challenge rating or rarity, with full details of the items on the reverse side.

The specific print and play cards that I received in this month’s bundle included the “boss monster” NPC, four monsters, and six magic item reference cards. Both Captain Fulmini and the Vampirate monsters were printed on two separate cards due to the amount of text for the monsters.

I’ll go into the NPC and the monsters when we get to the booklet, but I wanted to touch on what magic items were included this month:

  • Staff of Power
  • Staff of the Magi
  • Staff of the Python
  • Staff of the Woodlands
  • Instrument of Destruction
  • Spool of Werespider Silk

From what I understand, the number of brand-new monsters and magic items varies from month to month. This month, all the monsters are new creatures, and four of the magic items come from the SRD.

The Booklet

The Big Bad Booklet itself (at least for this month) is 14 pages long, including a full page OGL statement, a credits page, and page of contact information for Hit Point Press, and a full-page image of our villain, Captain Fulmini. The artwork looks great. It’s colorful, but with stormy, nighttime accents that accentuate the source material for this month.

Captain Fulmini’s backstory is explored, explaining how she became a vampire, lost her true love, and made a bargain with the gods of sea and storm. Her cursed ship filled with vampirates and wereoctopuses is cursed to roam the sea, unable to leave the ship. There are definite D&D-isms + Pirates of the Carribean vibes to this backstory, but thankfully, that’s exactly my jam.

There is a section on roleplaying Fulmini, as well as a couple of paragraphs spelling out her tactics. This section on how to portray her ends with her ideal, bond, and flaw, and as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, using these traits for villains is almost always more effective than the “drop down” list of options given under PC backgrounds.

Fulmini also has lair actions on her cursed ship, as well as regional effects for the waters where the ship sails. Fulmini’s crew is filled out with vampirates, wereoctopuses, and a priest of the god of storms that has come to view her as an avatar of their will.

There are also three plot hooks for introducing Fulmini into an existing campaign, either as a raider, as the target of a bounty, or to rescue her adopted holy man.

The Captain’s Competencies

Fulmini herself is a CR 14 creature. She doesn’t have to worry about running water, but she can’t leave her ship. Instead of being dependent on a coffin, she is beholden to her resting place, her cabin. Lightning heals her, and she gets her full slate of legendary resistance and legendary actions.

Instead of bats or wolves, she can turn into sea birds or an octopus, as well as the mist form that she shares with more standard vampires.

For her legendary actions, she can bolster her crew, effectively giving them a bardic inspiration style resource to spend. She can also burn two of her legendary actions to get in a bite attack, and for three actions, she summons the power of a hurricane, which can heal her while zapping all her foes.

As much as I love traditional vampires, I really appreciate a vampire that is adapted to their circumstances or to the conditions of a curse, as well. I’m an easy mark for pirates, lost loves, and cursed ships, so this one is pulling on my heartstrings.

The Crew

The Vampirate is a CR 6 version of a vampire adapted for life at sea. They don’t have any issue with running water, but they also aren’t shapeshifters. They do gain some roguish options for their bonus actions, as well as a swashbuckling parry option.

The Wereoctopus is a CR 6 creature with the standard werecreature humanoid, hybrid, and animal form. In this case, they are making six attacks per round if they don’t rely on their beak, and in the water, they gain an ink cloud ability. While not included in its stat block, the illustration shows a wereoctopus wielding a pistol in each tentacle, and honestly, I want to recreate that scene.

Beyond the Crew

I wanted to touch on the additional monsters that were included as reference beyond those that are specifically part of Fulmini’s crew. The additional monsters are:

  • Flintbeast (CR 6 Giant)
  • Rolling Moss (CR 7 Plant)

I’m always interested when giants get used for monsters that aren’t just very big humanoids that may be elementally/environmentally attuned. In this case, the flintbeast is a regenerator that claws and bites, and sometimes strikes its teeth together to produce a blast of thunder and fire. I like the visual of gnashing teeth together to generate an effective breath weapon. It’s an imaginative twist, although for whatever reason, “beast” doesn’t quite feel right to me for a type of giant.

The rolling moss is effectively a plant creature that grows through several rocks and boulders. It can use is bonus action to reconfigure it’s stones to either roll faster or become extra defensive, or to turn into a battering ram.

I don’t know that I have ideas on how to structure a whole adventure around them, but both of these are different and fun, and would be great “swap ins” for encounters with creatures like trolls or ogres, which might feel less predictable.

Monster Math

Once again, I’ll touch lightly on the math behind the monsters, and hope it’s at least a little bit worthwhile. But we all know that the secret geometries of monster creation are beyond mortal ken. Regardless.

  • The Wereoctopus is a little low in the armor class and hit points. It is on the high side of potential damage with six attacks that all have solid damage. I’m sure the armor class and hit points are concessions to the full-on immunity to non-magical/non-silver weapons, although that’s always such an on/off switch, where it either has a major advantage or the advantage is completely subverted. That’s D&D 5e werecreatures, however, not just this monster.
  • The Vampirate is dead on for attack and armor class. Their hit points and damage per round are a bit on the low side for that CR, but they also have their parry ability, regeneration, resistances, and the ability to lower maximum hit points as well.
  • The Flintbeast is slightly higher for armor class, a little low in hit points, and just a wee bit under the low end of expected round by round damage. Since it’s a regenerator, that explains the hit points a bit, and having a rechargeable area attack also probably figures into the damage per round.
  • The Rolling Moss’ armor class is a little on the low side, but its hit points are right on track. When it’s in its offensive mode, it’s damage is spot on, and the defensive mode’s armor class is in line with standard appearance.
  • Captain Fulmini’s armor class is just slightly low for her CR, as are her hit points. She has a slightly higher chance to hit, and her damage is low. Her DC effects are right around where she should be. Again, I suspect that the resistances and regeneration are why the hit points are lower, and the damage may be mitigated by the hit point maximum effect, although bites aren’t as easy for vampires to just use, unfortunately.

    That said, my usual disclaimer that my math may not mean anything is really in effect here, because Fulmini has lair actions and legendary actions. One of those lair actions can potentially restrain foes, meaning that the player characters are back on the menu.

Final Thoughts

So far, I’ve only seen one month of material from this Patreon, but I’m pretty excited about what I have seen so far. There are times I would much rather have adventure seeds than whole adventures, and I like the range of creatures included with this set. The backstory and motivations are easy to work with in a campaign.

I’ll be very interested to see an additional month for the sake of comparison. While I usually don’t point out price in my first impressions or reviews, it’s hard not to feel satisfied with this content at the $2 tier. That’s a lot of work in artwork, layout, and rules development that went into this product, and it’s well executed.

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