Friday, 18 December 2020

I Stumble through Pathfinder Bestiary Two

Behold! I have read my way through the Pathfinder Bestiary 2 to bring back information which doubtless most of the rest of you knew about already.

I know absolutely nothing about Pathfinders world or fictive constructs, and I barely glanced past most of the very deep, very detailed stat blocks. The second is probably the bigger problem in fairly talking about the monsters since Pathfinder is very clearly heavily stat oriented and if I'm not reviewing the stats and how they would interact in play then in a very real sense I am not reviewing the monster as it would be in that game.

This will not prevent me from talking about them at length.

I experienced , reading this book, the most remarkable sense of cognitive whiplash. A big chunk of the book is what I feared it would be; D&D cruft. The kind of thing that teenage Patrick might be amazed by but middle aged Patrick is slightly despairing over. There were many points where my eyes glazed over and my head began to nod

Yet, amidst all this there were points where it seemed like the creative team had been allowed, even encouraged to go for a bit of a wander, and in these places, where they reach a little further for inspiration, and risk a little more, I found myself experiencing one of those strange and etherial emotions which is not pain.

To ensure that I may end on a pleasing note I shall begin with...



THE BAD


BASIC CRUFT


Few of these are necessarily bad monsters IN OF THEMSELVES. And if this is your first D&D book then explore away, but for aesthetes like ourselves, we have seen enough of these. We know them well. They are bread rolls. One does not request them and one certainly does not expect to find them on the bill.

Badger, Dire Badger Blink Dog, Crysmal, Dhampir, Emperor cobra (snake), Giant Queen bee, Goloath Stag Beetle, ifrit, Mud Elemental!!! Necrophidius - just top putting these in books. Huge number of other things in here under this concept. If I don't mention something consider it here; 


UNDERWATER RACES


Nereid, Tritons, Undines



These have never been good, they will never be good. Just stop!



DINOSAUR SECTIONS CAN FUCK RIGHT OFF


Sorry Dinosaurs are cool but if anyone has ever run a game of D&D where there have been multiple "kinds" of Dinosaur and PCs have interacted with them in an interesting way based specifically on the kind of Dinosaur they were like "ah ha this is an allosaurus" - then type in your comments below but it never happened bro. Sorry but dinosaurs in D&D are FILLER IM CALLING IT.


MEGAFAUNA - Slightly better than dinosaurs but what do you DO with them - same problem



DRAGONS - Brine Dragons, Cloud Dragons, Crystal Dragons, Magma Dragons, Umbral Dragons, more dragons just makes them more and more boring. 

DRAKES - Same deal as dragons but worse, flame drake, forest drake, frost drake, sea drake, just let me die

ELEMENTALS - CRUFT CRUFT CRUFT!

GIANT ANIMALS - Giant Dragonflies, Dire Badgers. I genuinely can't go on so please don't make me.

LYCONTHOPES - werebear, wereboar, weretiger.

TITANS - Elysian, Thanatotic, ok there were only two, for some reason I feared there would be more

TROLLS - Ice Troll, Rock Troll.



VARIETY TO INTEREST GRAPH


So; the Dinosaur/Planar quality growth axis defined - 

Here we have one type of monster, let us say a snake.

Now we shall add another of the same broad concept, but subtly different, and then another, and another and another; Gloom snake, ice snake, smoke snake, cake snake, snake snake,  etc.

There are two broad kinds of curve;

The planar monster curve (we shall look at these laterr) which goes up, then down, then sharply up
And the dragon/drake/snake/giant/titan curve which goes up, then up a bit, then down down down down






BLURS OF IDEAS


Hellcat? Like what?


I mean maybe if a good sword and sorcery artist was painting one on the cover of a book..



NIGHTSHADES -




A rare Pathfinder deep-dive that is actually rubbish. Like they are a combo of shadow and negative energy, one is a shark one a massive bat, they want to end the world, whatever.

A lot of things in here want to end the world.


Shantak





Soul Eater  - pffft


Soul Eater you are a blob with arms. Actually this image isn't bad but it can't rescue the concept. "What if X, but a mist" is rarely a fruitful line of enquiry.


Thoqqua lava worm thing?


For some reason lava and fire based creature seem to bring out the worst in the pathfinder crew. Its a snake but lava, its a pile of rocks, but lava, its lava, but angry.



Yrthak - ptranodron with a sonic scream? ehhhhhh


Maybe in a Marvel comic, but only for one issue.



JUST SHIT CONCEPTS


Magma Ooze

We've been through the Pathfinder Lava cruft issue, I will not repeat myself here.


Mihstu


Mist again, but now its basically called 'mist' but in a different way. 


Revenant 

D&D cruft


Tentamort




Ah you tried to come up with your own version of piercer and crossed it with the half-life tentacle things - I get nothing from this sorry.



Winterwight - amazingly bad image and boring concept


This almost defines the concept of D&D cruft, or 'Dungeon Cruft' if you want something more euphonically pleasing, "Its a skeleton, but cold." At least it wasn't a lava skeleton.











Alright. That was a brief gazetteer of "Bad", now we enter the strange interval space of;

OH GOD I DON'T KNOW


Thrasfyr



I genuinely cannot tell is this is a rubbish blur of ideas or actually so gonzo its good or what. Is it from myth. It doesn't seem to actually do anything interesting but the combo of having like a whole dragon for a tail and also it has living chains for some reason... This one will depend on my mood.

Vemerak



Own-brand Scorpion men I think? They make earthquakes by driving their tentacles into the ground. Could this be good? Is it bad? I do like the idea of monsters making earthquakes not through a spell but by literally penetrating the earth with magic tentacles, though it makes about as much sense. Could be some good moments in an encounter like "Look out they are going to do the tentacle thing" and "Cut off the tentacles!"







Enough! Let us move bravely on to...

THE GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD


WEIRD STUF I DON'T KNWO WHERE IT COMES FROM


Akata


Hairless blue alien lions. They are from another planet, not another plane or whatever, which is interesting, and they spread this alien zombie plague. Could be good.


Animate Dream


This might be terrible but its going in due to that dang face.


D'Ziriak



 HEY SURPRISINGLY GOOD JOB HERE DON'T KNOW WHY THO

I genuinely have no specific idea why I like this. Shadow-plane dwelling insect people who wear glowing magical tattoos and live in secret cities crafting shadows sounds pretty 5e cruft but this image and the concept just makes it hang together for me.


Krenshar



 Good image, nice concept, this an old D&D thing?


Mu Spore



 From Godzilla?

Well its a Kaiju but also its an alien spore. Also the fact that its floating like a Zeppelin I like.


Neh-Thalggu


 Brain monster. Gets smarter if it gets more brains, puts the brains in these special pods on its back. You can see the pods and work out what its up to right away. Good. Simple, self-explanatory. Wide variety of applications. 



I KNOW THIS BOOK

Jabberwock


 - I got this reference

CRYPTIDS 

(meaningless of these without the complex cultural ecologies which this system doesn't provide here but still nice to have them around)

Chupacabra


This is kind of the worst presented of the cryptids. It does not have a lot of the weird mythic energy of the 'real' creature. More goat obsession would be good.


Mothman


Absolutely lovely. Great powers. Lots of freaky illusion and madness stuff, plus telepathy, it doesn't speak, gaze sends you mental. Not planar, not an alien, no ecology, just an agent of fate? One of the cryptids that carries some of the weird x-files energy of the real thing.

Great image, great monster, would be a wonderful horror villain. Could be terrible as a DM fiat monster if used poorly but if used well...


Water Orm - the Loch ness monster except deliberately magically stealthy - it can turn *into* water, move without trace and can't be detected by most magic.

Its a giant predatory cryptic that leaves no evidence behind, actually a pretty good concept.


Wendigo




Cultural appropriation done, if not right, then *well* - a good image and the spooky semi-magical rules for this one are wonderful. its feet don't exist - bunt away by it running through the air, but it walks as of they do.

Drives a'l near mad, grabs you and carries you off into the wind by just running on the wind, can turn you into one in which case you go mad and run into the wind yourself, your own feet burning away.



PLANAR STUFF I DON'T KNOW WTF PATHFINDER IS UP TO HERE

Aeons 

Faceless caretakers of reality. No idea how you use these (maybe have the PCs break some rule of reality and then they are chased by them until they can somehow even the scales?) but some wonderful designs.

(Do they know the Mothman??)


Agathions 


Beastly angels, neutral good, ascended furries. You want to bang and/or kill a furry, here you go.


Angels - these are still around I guess, bad really but whatever

Archons - Also angels or something?

Azatas - Chaotic Good fey angel types?

Daemons

Not demons guys, "dAemons", which are slightly different and want to destroy reality for slightly more neutral reasons.


Astrademon, not that interesting in play it would seem but a lovely design.



I like that these boys compulsively carry bows. They are also 14 feet high and the skulls they use as heads can be any skull but they tend to seek out horse skulls for the purpose which suggests a lot of possible higjinks.



Cruft concept, but wonderful execution. Sometimes you can be a Daemon that's just really into death and that's ok. Its ok to be normal.


See something that summons an evil magical dagger made of raw shadow is a bit eh, but f you say it has four arms and summons exactly four daggers, one for each hand, somehow it gets better.



Inevitables - anti-chaos super-golems, kinda own-brand modrons

Jyoti

 
Positive energy plan xenophobic bird men? Would be boring but at least they are racist.


Proteans 


Raw chaos dudes, off-brand slaad -  a good idea but that idea was basically slaad and someone already had it. Some good images but this was the best one.


Qlippoth


No idea, like neutral evil cambrian explosion demon ghost prima things??? these are pretty good tbh. are these from the kabbalah? I feel like I read about these in Promethia.

Scaedvinar - like the opposites of those xenophobic positive energy bird-dudes, kind of rubbish except they hate those bird guys which makes them more interesting

PETITIONERS - planar ghost things? These guys are how you turn into one of the above,


LETS LOOK AT THE CURVE!!!!




These things would work really well if you could make them hang out in some kind of semi-civilised environment where they had to argue and scheme over the precise moral dialectics of why they each wanted to save/destroy/dominate reality. Encountering them one by one is not so great I think. need more Sigil.



CRUFT IDEA RESCUED BY GOOD IMAGE


Marsh Giant 


Cruft concept, great image. 
the other giants; rune giants, tagia giants, wood giants, suck.


Alchemical Golem


Hee he hee



CAMEL


This is the first time I have seen a camel in a beastiary and thought "Fuck I really want to ride a camel."



Locathah 


This is the only time they have ever even looked interesting, they are still rubbish but this is a good picture


Monkey Swarm 


Not even that bad an idea but a great image


Reefclaw


Boring monster. Looks metal as fuck here.


Urdefhan


Not a bad idea in itself but a great image for the 'transparent flesh' gang



FEY THINGS


GREMLINS - hey Pathfinder wend deep on gremlins for some reason

NUGLUBS


Its the fact that their robe is actually back hair, the three blue glowing eyes and that they just really like knecapping people and beating them to death. They are just violent guys! Very strong monster.



LURKER IN LIGHT 



Evil bright light fairies this is a surprisingly good idea.

Shining Child is another bright evil thing






LOVECRAFT STUFF


GUG


Look its still a good idea. I won't say no to a Gug.


Hound of Tindalos 


Great image. Classic monster.



WEIRD TRADERS?

These guys suck very slightly on their own (except for the 'Denizens' of Leng) but would be really good all hanging out in the same market,

Mercane 




Witchwyrd


These guys disuse themselves by wearing robes and crossing one pair of arms behind their backs.



Denizen of Leng 


While these guys disguise themselves with just a robes situation.

Again I want all these guys hanging out in the same city or something



JUST A SURPRISINGLY GOOD IDEA?


Moonflower


It blasts you with moonlight I think? (this is actually pretty good)


Sard


Something like a lightning-stuck or post-forest-fire tree full of embers or something but its actually some magic spider monster thats also somehow a tree that shoots lightning and poisoned barbs and which also explodes when you kill it? And it has a stealth mode.


Slurk


Hey its a sticky-backed tusked albino frog mount. Pops grease at you from its pustules. you can ride one but its so sticky back there you might not be able to get off. Good frog energy all round.  



Totenmaske


Long hollow claws that drain your life and then change shape to become you, literally eats your hopes and dreams with its bites, can permanently reshape your face like clay - pretty great! Nearly on a MothMan level.



LESSONS LEARNED?

If someone offers you a Pathfinder game where you investigate Cryptids or go to own-brand Sigil or whatever, say yes, but maybe don't as with stat blocks weighted this heavily then it seems to me it would be a nightmare not uantum-ogreing a lot of stuff, which makes investigations and city-adventures somewhat boring pseudo-choice adventures.

But I might be wrong! And even if I'm not maybe you are into that?

Further lessons;

Everyone likes fucking about with Planar Bullshit  and it often brings out the best in people.

You can just stop putting the old cruft monsters in things.

There may be treasure in the Cryptids if you do a deep dive on them.

Rip off Lovecraft

The thematic arrangement of mainstream monster manuals means they will inherently be a bit of an aesthetic and conceptual blur.

Only I and whakoes like me seem to care about this.

What happened to Pathfinder? Whats going on with those mighty-thewed arms and galaxy brains fit to lift and comprehend statblocks of biblical length like heroes of old? 



49 comments:

  1. Krenshar's got a foreskin face

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    1. I wonder how he cleans it if stuff gets trapped underneath?

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    2. It reminds me a bit of the red uakari monkey. Also, I think the name sounds like "Crenshaw" in non-rhotic dialects, which might be a shout-out to someone?

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    3. Maybe it is a classic D&D monster? I KNOW I've seen it in an RPG in the '80s, but can't remember where.

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  2. Some cool ones mixed in with the usual D&D / Pathfinder stuff.

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  3. It never occurred to me until I read this post but it really does seem like they created a random creature table and then rolled some dice and wrote up the results. Unfortunately the table was heavy on lava, but hey, what you gonna do, the dice gods have spoken.

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    1. "Better than the results of a random combination table" should be one of the axis upon which a bestiary is judged.

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  4. I have not read any pathfinder stuff in a long long time, but at least from my memory, the Pathfinder bestiary series feels like the definitive "modern fantasy" catalogue. While principally I don't like all the "cruft" as you put it, for some reason with Pathfinder I can kind of appreciate it for what it is. If I were into that sort of thing, this feels like the best version of it, and I can respect that on some level. And prior to the more recent Sandy Petersen bestiaries, these felt like the definitive Lovecraft mythos bestiaries. Which again, I agree with the argument that that's not really the most interesting interpretation of Lovecraft, but I can enjoy the pretty pictures.

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    1. I have Petersons Guide to the Dreamlands and feel a mixture of pain at its rationalisation and reduction and, like you say, ooohh pretty pictures.

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  5. Most of the "blur of ideas" monsters go back to at least 3e / appeared in the 3.0 Monster Manual (thoqqua, yrthak, hellcat, and nightshades). The 3e yrthak was blind and navigated by sound in addition to having sonic attacks, which was slightly more interesting ( http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/MM35_gallery/MM35_PG262.jpg ). Krenshar first appeared in the 3.0 Monster Manual; I think I read that they were added to give the paladin and bard's abilities that interacted with fear effects something to do at low levels.

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    1. Thoqqua, Hellcat, and Nightshades are from earlier editions than 3rd. IIRC, the thoqqua is from the Fiend Folio, the Hellcat is from Monster Manual II, and Nightshades are from one of the higher level BECMI books.

      Yrthaks seem like a Lovecraft thing to me for some reason. Does anyone know their origin?

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    2. I don't think Yrthak's go any further back than the first D&D3 monster manual in 2000. D&D3 made 'sonic' a D&D damage type for the first time and consequently had to make up a bunch of new sonic-attack-using powers, monsters, etc.

      'Yrthak' does sound a bit like 'Shantak', though, which *is* an avian Lovecraftian monster.

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    3. I feel so sad about all these monsters with no niche in a game but they still just have to keep on existing.

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  6. Tentamort is a classic D&D monster; Krenshar and Inevitables were created for D&D 3rd Ed. I have many hardbound Pathfinder books but never bothered with Bestiaries, my 3rd Ed. MMs are easy to convert and stats for all monsters are free online. Love Mothman tho.

    I don't know anyone who plays Pathfinder rules-as-written and suspect it's not possible; most games are completely built around the DM creating a chain of setpiece encounters; class abilities and spells are players' bailiwick, GM has to take their word for how their gimmicks work and hope they're honest. Rules for things like shopping, interacting with NPCs, trekking through woods etc. exist but no PF GM I've seen bothers with them and my own players fought me when I tried implementing out-of-combat systems. Pathfinder at this point is like an old and itchy wool blanket: you hate it but it's familiar and sometimes you want it when you're exhausted and addlepated.

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    1. Huh, is there anything Pathfinder is known for actually coming up with themselves?

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    2. Inevitables definitely predate 3e, as they appear on my planescape bestiary. They do look different than the 3e version, but iirc they serve the same role

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  7. Neh-Thalggu were from D&D 3rd edition, too.

    My impression is that Pathfinder's really struggling at the moment. It got a massive boost from the relative unpopularity of D&D 4th, but 5th edition has brought back most of the D&D players who were alienated by 4th, and is also just generally much more popular and easier to find players for, leaving Pathfinder to a dwindling band of hardcore fans who live for page-long monster statblocks. They had a second edition the other year but the reaction seemed to be fairly muted.

    I read a bunch of PF bestiaries at one point but stopped because I wasn't getting much out of them: too many of them were just 'regular D&D monster but made of fire / ice / thorns / shadows / knives'. A few made it into my own games, though, including the Marsh Giants, who I think are a really strong concept. Humans mate with Deep Ones. Giants mate with *sea monsters*!

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    1. Do you think pathfinder is finally uncool enough that we can adopt it and do the pretentious version?

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    2. Brain collectors showed up as early as BECMI, they were added as a needlessly powerful Epic D20 version later on and given a connection to the Far Realm.

      D20 did comparatively little innovation on the setting front that was actually carried over.

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    3. Pathfinder is just too LONG to adopt it and do a pretentious version. Have you seen the size of the core rules? If there is a version of D&D to adopt and do a pretentious version of it has to be 2nd I think.

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  8. Qlippoth is indeed from Kabbala (Qliphoth: "...literally "Peels", "Shells" or "Husks" [...] are the representation of evil or impure spiritual forces in Jewish mysticism, the polar opposites of the holy Sefirot"

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    1. I guess they just stole the name because they don't seem to have anything else in common with the Kabbala version.

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    2. What they have in common is that both are sort of the bad first draft of our reality (qlippoths also being the own-brand version of oberyths, the demons who are older than tanar'ri and less concerned with human stuff). I feel like the Cambrian Explosion aesthetics do really fit with this, at least. They FEEL old, primordial, alien, vast cool unsympathetic, and just kinda neat.

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    3. Matthias, I didn't think about this this way. The idea of demonic strata can be interesting.

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  9. uh sorry but a brine dragon sounds amazing. what does it do, live in a giant pickle jar? pickle enemies with its breath?? I'm putting one in my next dungeon now this is fucking incredible

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    1. I think its just a Dragon that swims in the sea. Its kinda one of the versions its bad, because its combining to game-niches which are already massively oversubscribed; big flying dragony things and big swimming sea-serpenty things. Oh look, it can do both these things which a million other things can do. Its like owning a microwave which is also a televsion.

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  10. One of the best blog posts I've read in awhile. Thanks for the laughs.

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  11. Neh-Thalggu are from X2: Castle Amber.

    Nightshades appeared in BECMI, as did lava oozes (which were probably inspired by Star Trek's Horta).

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    1. What on earth were they thinking with the Nightshades?

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    2. Sorry y’all, I love Nightshades, I can dig the “not a demon and not undead, just an insanely powerful blob of darkness/negative-energy shaped like some bat or something”

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  12. the only good underwater races are mermaids and the stuff that's already there like sharks but you can talk to them when they aren't eating you

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    1. Ok but, have you ever had a good adventure where you hung out with mermaids?

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    2. We had a good time with 'Beauty Corrupt' (Dungeon 63, basically 'The Little Mermaid' in D&D) when I ran it back in 1997 or thereabouts. No idea what I'd think of it today, though.

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  13. Half of these things are re-dos of D20 monsters that were themselves re-do's of earlier D&D monsters, culled from specific setting or adventures where they made a bit more sense or had an in setting reason for existing or whatever. Winter Wights were originally in the batshit insane Return to the Tomb of Horrors for example. Is there merit in converting the entire bestiary if you are going to make a play for the Throne of the most popular role-playing game? There must have been a reason why they took most of the old stuff like Nightshades but left all the terrible post MM3 D20 stuff on the cutting room floor.

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    1. So they wanted to be the Britannica?

      Yes its become clear from the responses here that I am looking at the tail end of a huge cultural flow of monster transmission, most of which I am unaware of, and that many of the claims for and against Pathfinder are lowered in moral intensity because the question goes from "Why did you invent this" to the more-boring "why did you include this2?

      Now I want a monster college of heralds who can trace the descent for each monster and its instantiation in each particular book. I want to know if Pathfinder invented anything at all!

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    2. Pathfinder had to rework some of DnD's already bloated cosmology to fill in some of the trademarked demesnes and the resulting trend perpetuated an ever-increasing influx of outsiders. Asura's and psychopomps are nowhere to be found in DnD proper...but are they new? Ditto the Grendel, the Kaiju class (that I recall them adding...Bestiary 2? Bestiary 3?

      I would recommend Beings From Beyond by Ben Evans as a bestiary of nothing but outer planes weirdness that is infinetely superior to anything Paizo manages to shit out for its band of dirty book-readers.

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    3. > I want a monster college of heralds who can trace the descent for each monster and its instantiation in each particular book.

      This is a cool idea. And those heralds can debate if the renaming+change of some abilities of a monster creates a new monster or what is degree of 'consanguinity' two different monsters portrayed similarly in pictures but with very different abilities have or if heralds should concern themselves with DnD/PF monsters only or homebrews/other system-setting lineages also count.

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  14. Excellent post, one problem: you appear to have misplaced "snake snake" on the uninteresting end of the theoretical snake scale. (Really, the whole list is backwards.)

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  15. Paizo (Pathfinder, Starfinder) has several gifts for posterity.

    First is that they have been the principal commissioners of high quality, high utility fantasy character and creature art for the last decade. I say “high quality” as someone who has bones about the quality and style of a fair amount of Paizo art, but it generally beats WotC and there is no arguing with its utility because almost every piece of character art and monster art that has been commissioned by Paizo has been transmuted into its Pawns. It is difficult to overstate the quantity and variety of Pawns that are available today.

    I say Pathfinder Pawns are “high quality” as someone who has often wanted Scrap Princess Pawns. I could also refer to Pathfinder pawns as “high-resolution, general-purpose”. I have need of different styles for different campaigns.

    Your campaign needs to be deeply avant garde, or IP-specific, or simply too moderate in tech level to not get utility out of a broad sampling of Pathfinder and Starfinder Pawns. I say that as someone who has run a fair number of campaigns where I could not use my Pawns because they just weren’t suitable (Delta Green, Star Wars, Warhammer/40K, Veins of the Earth, bespoke weird detective fiction, completely bizarre games I ran for strangers on Chatroulette around the time Pathfinder first came out). In the main, these Pawns are an extremely useful product, and they rest on Paizo’s exhaustive process of commissioning huge numbers of both de rigueur monsters and outlandish Outsiders.

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    1. Clearly your life has taken you to a different path, but I just can’t bring myself to use non-3D minis... I’d rather use the wonkiest 3D not-exactly-the-monster-I-say-it-is than the most beautiful 2D flat art XD

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  16. The second gift is Paizo’s expanded cosmology over standard D&D. This goes hand-in-hand with my point about their transmutation of more or less every piece of character/creature art they’ve commissioned into Pawns; it’s true that much of their hardback bestiaries are given over to traditional monsters, as are the Pawn sets, however Paizo’s interest in the outer planes and in extradimensional cosmologies that were brushed over or not utilized by TSR/WotC has resulted in vast numbers of fascinating, outre and beautiful creatures being made into table-ready Pawns.

    Examples of these cosmologies in alphabetical order (this does not include the greatly expanded families of demons, daemons, devils, angels, archons, inevitables and genies): Aeons, Agathions, Asuras, Azatas, Demodands, Divs, the Empyreal Lords, Kami, Kytons, Oni, Proteans, Psychopomps, Qlippoths and Sahkil. Each set occupies almost as much space conceptually as the demons/devils once did in terms of speciation.

    This also goes for all the random cryptids, local folklore spirits and manifested mythological/conceptual forces that Paizo has tackled throughout its vast library of bestiaries and Adventure Path-specific encounters.

    I don’t care where they originated as concepts. I don’t care about the quality of their fluff. I care that excellent art has been created for vast quantities of them and is now available as playing pieces that you can place on your tabletop and use in whatever context you please.

    I have used that randy-looking Alchemical Golem a lot, by the way.

    If you have a favorite rando creating outer planes splatbooks and you announce his shit is a lot cleverer than Paizo, good for him and good for you. Both of you share a cookie for that accomplishment, but I'll use my own fluff for the outer planes if I’m not running Planescape, and if I want to use said rando's shit (or my shit or Dave Cook's shit), then there's a good chance I can get a professional visual approximation of the idea onto the table because someone channeled an industrial-scale artistic throughput into the finest tool for RPG visualization that I know of, Pathfinder Pawns. They are a product that can’t yet be matched in its combination of quality, quantity, vividness and economy by 3D printed minis, although that will likely become the future of the representation of characters and creatures at the tabletop at some point. They can be used with vast quantities of non-Paizo products and systems; I have only run one campaign *in the Pathfinder system* but I’ve used my pawns in every pre-industrial and far-future campaign I’ve had the chance to use them in because they allow the game to inspire the visual interest of an isometric RPG a la Baldur’s Gate. You can’t do that with minis without handcuffing your creative output- even with unpainted Reaper Bones, you just don’t have enough of them. I’m speaking from experience. That said, a lot of players love to have self-painted minis for their own characters; despite initial misgivings, I've found that meshes pretty seamlessly with the chipboard Pawns because PCs command more visual weight anyways, and handpainted minis are usually better than the Robocop-melted abominations that prepainted minis so often are.

    By the way, if you need high resolution commercial art, I recommend trawling the artist lists in Pathfinder Pawn sets. The artists are far more accessible than you might think.

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  17. The third gift is that they took on the task of creating complex statblocks and ecologies for a variety of extremely powerful monsters. If you ever need to choose an actual concrete mechanical power for some outlandish creature (in whatever system you use) and you’re stumped, you will always be able to glance at how Paizo did it, because they did it at some point. I say that as someone who prefers systems that are much lighter on rules than Pathfinder, but as a GM if you’re doing something both intricate and dangerous in your game it’s good to have a rules function to point to so that no one feels they've been treated arbitrarily, even if that function is completely standalone.

    Here are a few passages about Trelmarixian, Apocalypse Horseman of Hunger, picked semi-randomly from this page:
    https://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/outsiders/

    “Predecessor’s Rage (Su): Trelmarixian consumed the previous Horseman of Famine, and portions of that previous Horseman’s essence still exist within Trelmarixian’s belly, being slowly digested like a sweet, spiritual lozenge. This previous Horseman was herself a parasitic entity, and once per hour as an immediate action, Trelmarixian can lower his resistance to his predecessor’s rage to allow her to infuse him with fury from within. When Trelmarixian does so, he gains the effects of righteous might, and his regeneration increases to 30 for 4 rounds. When this effect ends, Trelmarixian is staggered for 1d4+1 rounds if he fails a DC 35 Fortitude save, or for only 1 round if he succeeds.
    ...
    Wail of the Consumed (Su): Trelmarixian can, as a standard action once every 1d4 rounds, call upon the tattered fragments of the innumerable souls he has consumed to unleash a mind-shattering wail. This affects all creatures within a 60-foot spread. Affected creatures take 1d10 points of Wisdom drain and are stunned for 1 round. A creature that succeeds at a DC 36 Will save instead takes 1d4 points of Wisdom damage and is staggered for 1 round. This is a sonic mind-affecting effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.
    ...
    The youngest but perhaps most ambitious of the Four, Trelmarixian the Black obsesses over soul consumption, riding the line between brutal, amoral science and quasi-religious zealotry. A perpetually ravenous shapeshifting horror, Trelmarixian maintains a three-headed humanoid shape—but only just, with his frame constantly shuddering and shifting and threatening to slump into a protoplasmic slurry of bile, blood, and mucus. Trelmarixian was once a meladaemon himself, and his meladaemon servitors, while always emaciated and bestial, have become more canine in appearance under his rule. When the so-called Lysogenic Prince rose to power, he overthrew and consumed his predecessor, but he maintains a fragment of her existence within him to fuel periodic bouts of parasitic rage.
    ...
    As a mortal, daemon-blooded tiefling, Trelmarixian exterminated all life on his world with a work of profound sorcery, but in doing so he condemned himself to starvation.”


    Personally, I was overjoyed to see this post. Patrick, your work will never be anything like Paizo’s, so to me it’s interesting to see your worlds intersect from your perspective. I don’t care at all if Paizo originated these monsters; to me, that’s not the point. The point is twofold: the art, and the superior concentration of disparate concepts into high-utility tomes.

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  18. Pathfinder invented gremlin-cute goblins.

    That Thrasfyr image is surprisingly good considering how silly the concept is. I don't know what's up with that.

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  19. "Sorry Dinosaurs are cool but if anyone has ever run a game of D&D where there have been multiple "kinds" of Dinosaur and PCs have interacted with them in an interesting way based specifically on the kind of Dinosaur they were"
    Well now I want to take on the challenge and do a dinosaur-focused D&D campaign called Jurassic Park for Shitheads

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    1. Stone Age D&D where knowing whoch kind of dino acts like what is a thing I've seen tried. Dino's aren't the central focus, but it can work. Everyone just needs to ignore the anachronisms.

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  20. I think the one monster manual that stands out from memory from 3e and retro clones is the Iron Kingdoms one. Definitely more thoughtful. Another monster book worth looking at The Complete Book of Denizens from Inner Circle.

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