“Bestiary” Review: Grandmother Crookbesom’s Book of Hags (Cat Evans, et al): 4.5 Stars
Whether you’re here for the malevolent or the grotesque; wicked godmothers, canny predators or classic malicious crones, Grandmother Crookbesom’s Book of Hags has something for you….It’s an excellent deal, dearie, and at such a low, low, price. You should bite our hand off. Don’t let Grandmother think you ungrateful.
Grandmother Crookbesom’s Book of Hags is a primarily Lore and Background focused supplement to bring life and personality to the existing hags in the fifth edition line up. While they do develop a few new types of hags and some “weird magic”, the strength of the product lies in its ability to develop thematically and narratively striking NPCs from normal stat blocks. By and large, the authors deliver on their promise–if you use hags, you’ll want this book. If you don’t use hags, you probably should be.
Writing Style. The writing style and flow combines the best aspects of all the authors: levity, brevity, and a depth of content that makes for quick and engaging reading. Each hag’s section is like reading a short story or vignette and leaves you with an intimate knowledge that allows you to run them as an NPC without feeling like you read a bunch of unnecessary fluff. The humor is sharp and witty.
Lore and Background. Each hag’s vignette comes with a hook followed by sections on the legend, appearance, traits and personality, lair, long term goals, interactions, and statblocks. You will need both the Monster Manual and Volos’ Guide to Monsters to use this supplement. While all the sections are extremely helpful in running the hags as an NPC, my absolute favorite section is the interactions, as they give you specific ways in which the hag will try to engage with the party.
Unique Hags. The authors provide three new hags (thimble, empress, and hearth) as well as a small fey companion. I absolutely love the thimble hag, a unique twist on the concept who is so small she can make her home in the skull of a corpse. The concepts for the new creatures are very well done and they are properly balanced and will provide excellent combat and social encounters to those who use them.
Weird Magic. Weird magic is the special powers some of the hags have, usually consisting of special items or crafts. While not necessarily usable by the PC’s, they are fun, interesting, and could be useful to the resourceful and brave character who tries to steal from the hag. There’s not an overabundance of them, but what’s there is expertly crafted.
Layout. While the layout was technically well-done, the monster stat blocks were difficult to read. They weren’t really set apart from the rest of the document by any sort of box or border and they just seemed to sprawl on for multiple pages. While there are some obvious weaknesses to how WotC does their statblocks, they are official and I’d like to see more conformity to them. Overall, it’s not a content issue, but I personally consider it slightly more than a trivial issue.
Niche. Obviously the product is rather niche. If you’re not going to use hags, you won’t really benefit at all from this product. Still, you probably should be running hags, at least occasionally, and this product is a great item to have in your library to pull out whenever you may need it.
Grandmother Crookbesom’s Book of Hags is a highly recommended product that we’re giving 4.5 Stars. Even if you don’t use hags often, you should pick it up so you have it when you need it! Click through to the product using the picture below.