Other Magic II (2020)

Other Magic II (2020) goes where all great RPG lines wind up eventually: a monster book. Subtitled Monsters of the Americas, it is a collection of unusual creatures from a variety of American folk traditions, all accompanied by Jesse Ephraim’s minimal yet evocative woodcut art.

Some might be familiar to well-read aficionados of monsters from oral traditions. The Raven Mockers, for instance, which I know from their appearance in Manly Wade Wellman’s Silver John novel The Old Gods Waken. Over all though, I suspect Other Magic II will be the first time readers encounter most of these creatures, like the headless mule (gouts of fire shoot from the neck of this monster, which is actually a woman cursed to take the form) or the Lagahoo (a man whose head is a coffin topped with three burning candles, who rather reminds me of Pyramid Head, actually).

Most of these monsters are interesting for a couple of mechanical reasons. For starters, they aren’t really good for D&D style combat encounters. Rather, their reasons for being almost all beg for whole, dedicated scenarios (I can easily see these used in spooky games like Vaesen or Call of Cthulhu). This is partly because of another interesting feature: most of the monsters can’t be killed in conventional ways, if at all. The majority of them can only be driven away temporarily. For some, the only strategy is avoidance. Like the magic of the first volume, this implies different modes of play for readers to investigate on their own, which I am more than happy to oblige!

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