Demon lords, devil princes, dark gods, ha! They all pale next to Elder Evils, the latest hard cover supplement designed for the ultra high-level player. Oh seriously now, if as the book describes, that even Gods are wary of standing in the way of Elder Evils, what chance do even the mightiest of player characters have? The first thing that is well evident is that this is WOC’s attempt at creating cosmic monstrosities in the mode of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. Even the name ‘Elder Evils’ freely borrows from Lovecraft’s Elder Gods and Old Ones, mythical creatures whose hint of existence can drive men insane. These Elder Evils are not merely monsters to battle and gain treasure from, but rather these are threats on an epic scale, such as a Morgoth or Sauron, if not even more threatening. These are what challenges epic level characters when there is nothing left to challenge them. Elder Evils have no interest in life other than to destroy it.
Chapter one provides an introduction to Elder Evils. The arrival or awakening of these being is usually foreshadowed by signs of its presence. These can be things like drastic changes in weather, outbreaks of disease or infestation, the dead returning to life, and so on…Cults soon spring up devoted to the Elder Evil. Dozens of new feats are included that can be acquired by the servants of an Elder Evil.
The next nine chapters spotlight a different Elder Evil being. Each chapter provides a background on the being, its goals and motivations, the signs of its arrival, tips on running the being in a campaign. The Elder Evil have several powerful minions which serve them and would be the likely actual foes of the PCs. These servants are also included in each chapter with full statistics and abilities included. Finally, each chapter comes with a mini-campaign that is fully developed and comes complete with maps and locations.
The Lovecraft influences are again very obvious as you read about each of these ultra-powerful foes. Father Lymic, for example, seems to be a bit of an amalgam between Cthulhu and Azathoth. He sleeps, dormant, in an icy prison, locked in a glacier, yet his alien thoughts are still lethal to mortals.
Leviathan is a great sea creature which owes its influence to both biblical writings as well as the Norse Mythology of Jörmungandr, the Midgard Serpent which is large enough to completely encircle the world. Ragnorra, Mother of Monsters is almost certainly based on the Babylonian myth of Tiamat who gave birth to all manner of dragons and serpents.
As you can see, there’s not a great deal of originality to Elder Evils. These are creatures that seem mainly built on existing myths and legends. But how does it all come together in D&D land? Well, that’s a tough question. Even with very high-level characters I can’t see where a good DM would have to resort to the use of these mega-powered threats in order to provide a challenge. On the other hand, the mini-campaigns are actually very good and I can see taking these, and adapting them for use without incorporating an apocalyptic-style of campaign. This is another WOC product that falls into the category of being well designed but is it necessary?