So, as usual, this isn't much more than a review after what's a cursory glance. The question I had when looking at this book was: will it help me make monsters in Burning Wheel?
The answer is a resounding YES. This'll help me make amazing monsters for Burning Wheel.
Wait, what's all this other stuff in here? Interesting...
OK, so there's a lot more to the Monster Burner than it looks at first glance. There's a section detailing the stats and why they are the way they are, the 100 questions for making a monster, and quite a number of monstrous races, complete with lifepaths for players, several appendices detailing the math behind shades and using the monsters. And of course, the wonderful information on how to build your own lifepaths and traits. There's more, but this is the stuff I thought was important, so I'm gonna review it!
Really, this thing is a catch-all. The sections on stats and shades I found extremely illuminating, and I'm tempted to show my future players these sections for their own education. It just seemed more informative than the Gold explanation, and a lot more in depth! The monster races I like to a certain extent. Basically it seemed like it was just loving on Orcs as far as player races were concerned, which was a bit annoying. That being said, I wouldn't mind using these lifepaths to make really detailed monsters the players would have to face. As a resource for a GM this part is fantastic, but I really wouldn't want to see these as player races.
Of course, I could be (and probably am) wrong. Dunno. Has anyone tried any of these races? If so, please comment and let me know how it went!
The custom lifepaths and traits section is just flat-out amazing. I loved looking through and realizing that creating these things would be relatively easy, especially with the guidelines in the book! I can't wait to give this particular section a whirl and draw up a few lifepaths for, say, a sci-fi game. Or a Japanese game. Or whatever. That's the beauty. These sections are so bloody simple that you could pretty much hack the game however you wanted, and the game would still have a pretty similar level of quality!
This is exactly the sort of book I've always wanted for an RPG: something that breaks down the math and shows me how to make anything I want. Rather than go and make tons of cash off of us by requiring that we buy everything that comes up into his head before releasing the math, Mr. Crane lets us under the hood immediately, and helps us do exactly what RPGs are supposed to do: make up whatever we want and have a good time doing it.
Ha, Carpe! Got here first!