ith Children of the Night: The Created, the Kargat once again deliver a solid supplement to the excellent Van Richten Guides, catering primarily to DM's with a thirst for new, unique villains. Although not a particularly vibrant work, The Created details thirteen intriguing golems, accompanied by short, relatively intelligent adventures.
The book is perfect-bound, continuing a recent TSR trend that I appreciate. The stunning cover art depicts one of the book's most dangerous creations, the spellrune golem Azenwrath. Not only is it encouraging to see cover match content for a change—Ruppel's werejaguar on Werebeasts was cool, but nowhere to be found inside—Todd Lockwood has rendered the best CotN cover art yet in my opinion (no surprise, really, since he gave us the magnificent Shadow Rift cover). Kevin McCann's interior art is variable in quality, ranging from the sharply elegant to the uninspired. The artwork is kept to a minimum, however, featuring only golem portraits and a handful of adventure illustrations.
As with previous CotN works, the Kargat devote a couple of pages to summarizing the "Van Richten alterations" to Monstrous Manual's dull cookie-cutter beasties. Because the adventures in The Created do not deal excessively with the golem creation process (and because golems do not have the "power-levels" of other Ravenloft monsters), Van Richten's Guide to the Created really isn't utterly essential. However, DM's who aren't familiar with the idea of golems born of obsession may be a bit confused by the unmagical origins in some of this book's animated monstrosities.
The golems themselves are largely interesting and intelligently written, although many are exceedingly dangerous:
The Aggregate Golem, semi-standard flesh golem with multiple personalities.
Overall, the multiple authors (one for each golem) show through rather obviously. Although none of the creatures or their associated adventures is of poor quality, there is a broken feel to the product as a whole. Some, such as Gestalt and Azenwrath, have intriguing and well-written backgrounds. Others boast particuarly interesting adventures, such as Lumina and the Automatic Man. I found the least memorable creatures to be those which played upon existing D&D monsters to create particularly powerful and silly foes, such as the Doppleganger Golem and the Living Armor. Generally, there is good variety in golem types, backgrounds, and story emphasis.
Aside from a few scattered notes of inconsistency (half-elven anchorites?), the book slides easily into the RAVENLOFT canon, as well as working well with any D&D campaign, a much-heralded but rarely-achieved goal of recent RAVENLOT products. Some authors utilized the RAVENLOFT setting to good effect, while others left the scene of their creations purposely vague. Generally, the adventures are more mature and developed than those in previous CotN books, with the welcome addition of some explicitly nonlinear plots.
To reiterate, The Created is another quality entry in the Children of the Night line, with enough variety to give every type of Dungeon Master at least one villain to play with. If you're a RAVENLOT DM who has enjoyed the previous CotN outputs, you won't be disappointed. If you like golems, but haven't kept up with the RAVENLOT product line for one reason or another, give this book a look.