Nominated for two 2005 Gen Con Awards including Best Adversary Product, A Magical Society: Beast Builder is 224 pages packed with information that helps you make your own monsters. In the tradition of A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe and A Magical Society: Ecology and Culture, A Magical Society: Beast Builder gives you the tools you need to make your own campaign-specific monsters to challenge and excite your players while adding to the depth and realism of your campaign world.
Chapter One: Monster Concepts and Functions
Monster concepts and functions drive what a monster is and even more importantly, what it does. This chapter discusses common concepts such as creature hierarchies (juvenile, adult, elder etc.), additive abilities (like the vrock's dance of ruin), mythological inspiration and other monster building aspects.
It gives advice on creating a good concept based upon the function of a creature. Every monster has a concept and a type (such as giant, vermin, etc.), but more than that every monster has a function; the part of the monster that answers the question "What does it do?" It outlines the 20 most common functions such as grappler, caster, disabler, energy attacker and PC killer, and how such functions play out in the game. Under each function, you'll also find a list of the creatures from the SRD as well as creatures from Monster Geographica: Underground that possess that function.
Chapter Two: Monsters and their Environment
Every monster has a place in your world and every place has its monsters. This chapter is simply stuffed with useful information about environment, ecology, biology, and behavior that will help you completely customize every creature to suit your needs. We all know that statistics alone don't make a great monster. The best monsters are ones with a rich place within your world and this chapter will help you give your new creation a fitting background.
Chapter Three: Monster Statistics
Although a great background is a must for a great monster, statistical accuracy is just as important. This 19-page chapter discusses every bit of the monster stat block and gives you the information you need to insure your great fluff isn't let down by poor crunch.
Chapter Four: Type and Subtype
Continuing the statistical breakdown of creatures, type and subtype is analyzed in chapter four. It give advices about determining subtype (just what is an aberration anyway?) as well as breakdown on ability scores based upon the SRD monsters. You'll find that although the rules say one thing, the execution often shows another when it comes to ability scores.
Chapter Five: Templates
Worthy of their own chapter, templates are great additions to any GMs bag of tricks. This chapter gives you information on the main 14 template themes (such as archetypal, greater, half, and planar-aligned) as well as seven main ways of acquiring a template. It finishes with a template-only version of chapters four and seven, giving you all existing information so you'll have more options when designing your own templates.
Chapter Six: Bits and Pieces
Bits and pieces is a short chapter filled with campaign-oriented monster parts. In a magical world filled with hostile monsters, holistic magic plays its role and the remains of fallen foes can often be used against those who lived. This chapter helps think of monsters from yet another perspective.
Chapter Seven: Special Attacks, Special Qualities, and Conditions
This huge chapter provides you with 600 special abilities taken from all the creatures in the SRD and all the creatures in Monster Geographica: Underground. Each of these abilities has been broken down to component parts to demonstrate useful guidelines when using them with any CR creature. For example the balor's death throes SA/SQ is now tied to a creature's HD, instead of being a straight 100 points of damage. Every SA/SQ has its source monsters (the monsters that possess that ability) listed as well. Once you jump into this chapter there's no turning back; there are simply so many cool things you could do when making your monsters you may not want to move on.
Appendix I: D20 Mechanic Table
A single table showing the d20 mechanic. You'll be surprised how useful this is when deciding monster hit percentages and saving throw percentages. It's much easier than just doing it in your head.
Appendix II: Editing Checklist
Every monster should face the checklist! A short outline-format editing checklist that covers the most common dangers/errors of d20 monster creation.
Appendix III: Random(ish) Monster Generator
And last but not least, a random(ish) monster generator is provided for when inspiration has simply gone dry. Don't expect the most sensible results, but anything can happen! This is particularly useful if you want to make creatures for the hordes of chaos.
Author: Joseph Browning
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