Book of Beasts: Monsters of the River Nations (PFRPG)

****½ (based on 9 ratings)
IMPJBE0303

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Book of Beasts: Monster of the River Nations describes new fierce and fantastic denizens of the Lands of Low Character. This volume teems with never-before-seen magical beasts, capricious fey, tormented undead and vicious plant creatures. Bring new life and peril to your adventures.

Book of Beasts: Monsters of the River Nations is a 32-page, fully Pathfinder Roleplaying Game-Compatible supplement containing twenty-four brand-new monsters, several pre-statted-out humanoid encounters, new diseases, templates, haunts, drugs and gambling games.

Written by 2013 RPG Superstar™ Steven Helt!

RPG Superstar is a trademark of Paizo Publishing, LLC.

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****½ (based on 9 ratings)

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Something for everybody--if you like monsters, that is

*****

I like monster books. They're what got me into D&D in the first place. And since I'd heard very good things about "Monsters of the River Nations", I thought I'd give it a shot.

The Good: The monsters presented here are all flavorful and creative. Sure, some of them do fall into the "giant versions of ordinary critters", such as the piranhas and the giant flytraps. But the writing is suitably evocative. There's a nice blend of creature types and CRs; they do tend towards under 10, but so do most monster books and most games. My favorite creatures are the addanc (a hybrid beast pulled from Welsh lore), the autumn death (a skeleton surrounded by whirling leaves) and the silver bell (an animate plant with a very unusual metabolism).

The mechanics are well-done for the most part. The creatures seem properly balanced, and there's an interesting array of unique abilities on display here, particularly in flavorful curses and diseases. The icy disease of the frost mite swarm is nice and shuddersome, for example.

The art is very good, some of the best I've seen in a 3rd party product. It's B&W line-art and it reminds me of the better pieces of the Tome of Horrors line.

As others have pointed out, this product is rather wider in scope than other monster books, featuring two NPC encounters, two gambling games, a number of haunts and diseases, and some quick templates. Those quick templates are especially handy--I can see them getting some use in my campaigns.

The Bad: Editing could have been a little tighter. There are a few stat-block errors, generally to do with monsters applying their Strength score badly (notably the bog ooze, which only deals 1/2 its Str bonus to damage instead of the proper 1-and-a-1/2). There's also some typos and the wrong word being used a time or two, possibly due to spellcheck error (I noticed "desiccant" used to mean "one who desecrates", which surprisingly does not have an adjectival form).

The Nitpicky: I'm having a hard time understanding how the giant flytrap is supposed to work. It has slams with incredible reach, and a single bite attack. Real-world flytraps have multiple mouths, and the creature is illustrated as such, with no reaching tendrils or leaves or anything. Are the "slams" supposed to be extended mouth-leaves and the "bite" the ones in the center?

Final Thoughts: Book of Beasts: Monsters of the River Nations is one of the best 3rd party monster books for PFRPG out there. Is it perfect? No. But it's very, very good.


A good monster book.

*****

Book of Beats: Monsters of the River Nations by Jon Brazar Enterprises

This product is 36 pages long. It starts with a cover, credits, and ToC. (4 pages)

Monster Entries. (21 pages)
Some are obvious what they are like the snapping turtle and Piranha, below is a list of what new monsters are in the book.
Addanc – croc/beaver (neat monster but really odd mix)
Autumn Death – new undead, neat idea.
Avowed Reaver – fire elemental type
Bog Scum – new type of ooze, also nice.
Fly Trap, Giant – plant monster
Fly Trap, Dire – see above.
Forest Giant – defender of forest, cool idea, but I had one issue with the fluff.
Frost Mite Swarm – new swarm
Garmunchi – kinda non evil ogres
Hatethrall Demon – new little demon, meh.
Hydrus – weird lizard animal
Lemkin – new fey
Night Caller – small magical bird
Piranha, Mature
Piranha Swarm
River Dragon – legless, wingless, swimming snake dragon.
Riverswell Spirit – cool new undead.
Shrine Stone, Animated - construct
Silver Bell – plant monster
Skate Spider, Giant
Skate Spider, Swarm
Snapping Turtle
Snapping Turtle, Dire
Stumble Fish

Appendix Humanoids (4 pages)
Cursed Brethren - undead that during the day look human. Kinda reminded me of Pirates of the Caribbean movie a little. I am guessing that is what they was inspired by, regardless it is a neat idea and well written. Two stat blocks for them, one of the rank and file and one of their bandit king.
Grammy Beshic – Gnome NPC that lives in the forest, has a new magic ring as well.

Appendix New Drugs and Gambling (1 page)
This has 2 new gambling games, well one game and a fight club. With rules on how to run them and how the odds work. It also has one new drug.

Appendix New Haunts (1 page)
This section has new haunts. 6 new haunts, four of them fit very well with the forest theme, two of them not as much but still good haunts.

Appendix New Templates and Diseases. (1 page)
There is five new templates one can apply to monsters and 8 new diseases all of which fit the theme pretty well.

It ends with one ad, OGL and back cover. (4 pages)

Closing Thoughts. All and all I liked the book, the art is nice black and white art. Most of the monsters I thought fit well in the theme as did most of the rest of the book. The stat blocks are easy to read and understand and the book is laid out well. Other than the cover it is a plain simple black and white book, very print friendly. I do have a few minor critics with the book. The fluff with the giants in one part, in that they sleep in branches of tree's I thought was odd. They are 15ft tall that would be some massive tree's. I think they could have left that part out.

My only other issue was some of the stuff just didn't really fit a forest/river theme. The Hatethrall Demon and Avowed Reaver being the two big ones. The hydrus just seemed weird, it seems like it does what it does just because. Now the rest was well done, I would have liked to have seen a few more fey, natural and planet monsters myself but that is personal preference. So whats my rating? Well it is a good book over all, I have a few minor issues with it. I am giving it a 4.5 star review.

Trust me, I'm a Succubus


An amazing little Bestiary!

*****

This pdf is 36 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 blank page inside of the front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/Monsters by CR, 1 page back cover, 1 blank page inside the back cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisements.
That leaves 28 pages of monsters.

-Addanc (CR7): A cross between a crocodile and a beaver, this could be goofy, but actually works. Death Roll (Ex) is a cool ability.

-Autumn Death (CR 8): A deadly undead creature with autumnal abilities. Has two cool signature abilities.

-Avowed Reaver (CR 5):Touched by elemental powers, this is a set of 4 CR+2 templates in one.

-Bog Scum (CR13): Aquatic, climbing deadly ooze.

-Fly Trap, Giant + Dire (CR 2 and CR 6): Cool plants, but lack a way to enthrall their victims.

-Forest Giant (CR 12): A Giant with some spell-like abilities to escape and polymorph others.

-Frost Mite Swarm (CR 10): Terrible insects of icy cold, these critters are quite creepy.

-Garmunchi (CR 6): Ugly, strong, slug-eating Ogre-like Humanoids.

-Hatethrall Demon (CR 6): Flame-clad skull-demons that shoot fiery rays.

-Hydrus (CR ½): A poisonous aquatic lizard that invades others to eat them from the inside. Great critter!

-Lemkin (CR 9): Creepy blow-gun using fey.

-Nightcaller (CR 1): Deadly Raven-like birds that can mimic voices.

-Piranha, mature and Piranha Swarm (CR 1 + CR 2): Iconic fish. Lacking in lethality, though.

-River Dragon (2 pages, two sample dragons provided, CR 7 + CR16): Aquatic dragon with boiling-abilities – want your adventurers medium?

-Riverswell Spirit (CR 7): Drowned spirit with drowning touch.

-Shrine Stone, Animated (CR 7): Guardian golem of Druids and Fey.

-Silver Bell (CR 3): Supremely creepy and cool plant creature.

-Skate Spider, Giant (CR 5) and Skate Spider Swarm (CR 6): Spiders that can walk on water.

-Snapping Turtle (CR 2) + Snapping Turtle,Dire (CR 8): Cool, but I would have expected an expanded threat range.

-Stumble Fish (CR 1): Jumping fish.

The first Appendix features Humanoid Encounters:

-Cursed Brethren (CR 3)and their Bandit King (CR 6) (2 pages): Cursed bandits that share their pain and thus are deadly when acting in concert. Cool ideas!

-Grammy Beshic (CR 9) (2 pages): A Gnome Sorceress including her new “Rings of Rebellion” magic item.

Appendix 2 features 2 new gambling games and a new drug. (1 page)

Appendix 3 presents 6 new haunts (1 page):

Blinding Bushes (CR 6), Chamber of Screams (CR 3), Ensnaring Weeds (CR3), Ice Forge (CR 2), Pool of Betrayal (CR 9) and River Fog (CR 4). They are all cool and feature at least one interesting component to make them stand apart.

The final page contains the last two appendices, containing 5 new mini-templates and 8 new diseases.

Conclusion:

The b/w-artwork is mostly ok and has a nice old-school kind of flair, the editing and formatting are top-notch and wording as well as prose are concise and well-written. The monsters themselves presented herein are great additions to any campaign – most have a signature ability or two, an interesting hook or are just iconic animals and plants. While I personally didn’t care too much for e.g. the Garmunchi, that’s a personal preference. E.g. the Silver Bell is an idea dripping awesomeness and win and there are several of this caliber herein. The new gambling games, drug, haunts, NPCs etc. are great additions (the haunts e.g. singlehandedly surpass any haunts from a haunt-pdf I recently reviewed)to this great book and I can honestly say that this is a no-filler-book and worth every cent. If all monster-books were like that, I’d buy more. My final verdict is 5 stars.


Good deal at a good price

****( )

"Monsters of the River Nations" is a good book that has a nice spread of new antagonists, skewing slightly toward Animals (6) Magical Beasts (3) Plants (3) and Swarms (3). I'd have preferred a few more Fey, but it does provide a little for everybody.

As other commentators have mentioned, one of the best features of this book are the Humanoid Encounters, especially the Cursed Brethren and their Bandit King. It fits well with Pathfinder Adventure Path #31, and could easily serve as a modular replacement for the Stag Lord and his band for DMs who prefer a darker theme or greater challenge.

Other than the Humanoid Encounters, my favorite bit from this book is the "Frost Mite Swarm." These little beasties make swarms fearsome again, and the disease they carry is both frightening and flavorful. I know I would avoid the deep parts of the woods near the solstice if I had a chance of meeting these.

The art is decent - nothing to write home about, but doesn't detract from the book. The layout is standard for a monster manual. I'm taking away one star because I would have preferred to see a tighter ecological theme in a book covering a small geographical area - having Frost Mites and Piranhas in close proximity limits the viability of using all of the monsters and maintaining a sensible world. Altogether a good buy - well worth five dollars.


Excellent smoragasbord of monstery goodness!

*****

I have already used one of the monsters in this book in my PbP game, and I was very pleased to have my players scratching their heads and saying: Wut? I am itching to try out a few more, but I had a lot of fun with the Autumn Death, and I am looking forward to working more of into my game as I go along! A great suppliment for the price! Highly reccommended


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Jon Brazer Enterprises

Scheduled for release in June. Written by Steven Helt. 32 pages.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Any teasers of the monsters inside?

Jon Brazer Enterprises

Callous Jack wrote:
Any teasers of the monsters inside?

Some artwork. What's in the book is the b/w versions of these.

Monster 1
Monster 2
Monster 3

I'll post more later.


Any estimation of how many beasties and page count for this product?

Jon Brazer Enterprises

Urizen wrote:
Any estimation of how many beasties and page count for this product?

Good question. I edited my first post for it.


DMcCoy1693 wrote:
Callous Jack wrote:
Any teasers of the monsters inside?

Some artwork. What's in the book is the b/w versions of these.

Monster 1
Monster 2
Monster 3

I'll post more later.

Best bunyip ever..

Jon Brazer Enterprises

I counted last night. I currently have 25 creatures. A few are two pagers, but the majority are 1 page long. All but approximately 3 are brand new. Those not brand new are bestiary monsters advanced to a high CR, come with plot hooks and are designed to be premade encounters.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

Nice Shiney New Cover added!

Jon Brazer Enterprises

Today's blog post talk more about the monsters inside the first Book of Beasts. Check it out.


Is this the book that Sam was contributing to? Trying to get my wires straightened out.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

Urizen wrote:
Is this the book that Sam was contributing to? Trying to get my wires straightened out.

Nope, Steven Helt wrote almost all of the monsters in this book. I'm contributing maybe two monsters. The rest is all the genius of Steven.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013

I'm very excited to see this come out. Bring it to Xorvintaal or Iron Dungeon Master at Gen Con and I'll sign it for you! This will add exactly zero to the book's value, but when you throw some of these bad boys at your players, you'll be able to cast the blame on "this guy".

Can't wait!


Is this being released through Adamant at all? The cover looks very similar to their design and I'm confused now.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

yoda8myhead wrote:
Is this being released through Adamant at all? The cover looks very similar to their design and I'm confused now.

Sorry for confusion. We both bought the cover from Sade and customized it to our own styles. I had not noticed Adamant used the same cover until I had already bought advertising featuring the cover.

If I had not already bought the advertising, I would change it, but its a good number of places at this point and not possible to change. Future books in the series will be using a different cover.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

New Preview posted to JonBrazer.com

Dark Archive

If that second picture is of a Leshy, it's kinda cool looking.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

Set wrote:
If that second picture is of a Leshy, it's kinda cool looking.

The middle one is the final image. The top was the original sketch from the description. The bottom image was something the artist decided to do on his own. I love the color image, but the final book is b/w.


River Nation?

Jon Brazer Enterprises

It should be River Nations. They are the lands of low character filled with raiders, fey, plant creatures, and dangerous animals (magical and mundane). They are ideal creatures to throw at your players explore dangerous wilderness, start their own nation on an unclaimed stretch of land or any other type of adventures in such an environment.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013

DMcCoy1693 wrote:
They are ideal creatures to throw at your players explore dangerous wilderness, start their own nation on an unclaimed stretch of land or any other type of adventures in such an environment.

..and some of them are unsportsmanlike. : }

Jon Brazer Enterprises

Steven T. Helt wrote:
DMcCoy1693 wrote:
They are ideal creatures to throw at your players explore dangerous wilderness, start their own nation on an unclaimed stretch of land or any other type of adventures in such an environment.
..and some of them are unsportsmanlike. : }

I imagine a monster that crawls in your mouth and makes its own exit out your belly button would be considered very unsportsmanlike. ;)

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

DMcCoy1693 wrote:
It should be River Nations.

Fixed... our distributor tends to shorten product names, and we don't always catch 'em. (The name they originally provided for this was "Book of Beasts:Monsters River Nation".)

Jon Brazer Enterprises

Vic Wertz wrote:
DMcCoy1693 wrote:
It should be River Nations.
Fixed... our distributor tends to shorten product names, and we don't always catch 'em. (The name they originally provided for this was "Book of Beasts:Monsters River Nation".)

Wow! Thanks Vic! You guys are awesome!

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Excellent - I like it. Monster number 2 is sweet! He reminds me of another critter I have been toying with in the back of my head. Is it a fey creature?

Very cool. Are monster books the way of the future for JBE? Best wishes,
-will


No PDF available for this one. :(

Jon Brazer Enterprises

xidoraven wrote:

Excellent - I like it. Monster number 2 is sweet! He reminds me of another critter I have been toying with in the back of my head. Is it a fey creature?

Very cool. Are monster books the way of the future for JBE? Best wishes,
-will

Monster #2 is a personal favorite of mine. Its fey alright. Its called a Leshy and is half halfling and half rabbit in the same way a satyr is half man half goat. It's really cool.

Are we going to be doing more monster books? It depends on how well this one sells. We've got some majorly cool ideas for future books (i.e. dragons, daemons, other environments, etc). But we'll see how well this one does. We've got alot of hope for it.

Aureus wrote:
No PDF available for this one. :(

There will be a PDF for it and it will be released when the book is available or shortly thereafter. Right now, the book still is very much in the editing phase. So yes, there will be PDF for it.


DMcCoy1693 wrote:
There will be a PDF for it and it will be released when the book is available or shortly thereafter. Right now, the book still is very much in the editing phase. So yes, there will be PDF for it.

Oh, great! I am really looking forward to it! Thank you. Is there a release date anyway?

Jon Brazer Enterprises

By ordering Monsters of the River Nations, you get the PDF for free. Find out more about our PDF Guarantee here.


Any updates on its release. Thanks

Jon Brazer Enterprises

It went to the printer last night. After we get a sample back and make some last minute adjustments it'll be printed, in distribution and out to you.

With any luck, it will be in stores before the end of the month (but early August is more likely). Over the weekend, we apologized for the situation on our website.

I should also mention that major previews will start going up on the web soon. Like within a week. Stay Tuned!

Jon Brazer Enterprises

Let the Previews Begin!

First up is the Autumn Death.

Jon Brazer Enterprises would like to thank our friends at d20pfsrd.com for posting the preview on their site.

The Exchange

No problem Dale!


Like the preview... added to my list to buy.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

The preview is up! This week: the Hatethrall.

Incase you do not remember, the hatethrall got its name from a contest that Jon Brazer Enterprises ran last fall.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

Just a quick update: I talked to the printer today. They said it should be shipping to the warehouse this week. By the time it makes its way through distribution and into game stores, I'll probably be the second week in August.

Sovereign Court

Can't wait to have it !

Jon Brazer Enterprises

Preview #3 is up. The Hydrus. While this monster works great against a low level party, imagine the players being rulers of the land and hearing the devastation this little monster caused.

Again, we would like to thank d20pfsrd.com for hosting the previews.

The Exchange

If other 3rd Party Publishers would like to preview upcoming content in a similar fashion, feel free to contact me. We'd love to help try to build excitement and enthusiasm for your products.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

You don't need a Knowledge check. Find out what kind of monster killed your character in your Pathfinder game with this Facebook quiz. Featuring monster in the Book of Beasts: Monsters of the River Nations, this Facebook quiz helps you figure out what else is lurking in the Lands of Low Character.

Take the Quiz Today!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Those damn little slimy bastards did me in.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

With the release of the Book of Beasts just around the corner, we bring you the latest preview. The Book of Beasts features several appendixes. One of which details new crunch from the newly released GameMastery Guide. Today's preview is one of the haunts in one such appendix.

Find out more here.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

With the Book of Beasts: Monsters of the River Nations making its way through the distribution channels as we speak, we have one final preview of the Book of Beasts. This final haunt from the appendix is sure to make you quiver with fear. The Pool of Betrayal can turn your staunchest ally into a dangerous enemy. Gaze upon it if your dare.

Sovereign Court

There was talk of getting a pdf copy when the actual book is shipped. Will this pdf be available like other paizo books?

Jon Brazer Enterprises

KARLAN TALKINGTON wrote:
There was talk of getting a pdf copy when the actual book is shipped. Will this pdf be available like other paizo books?

Hi. Thank you for your interest. It looks like the PDF will be available next week and will be freely available to those that purchase the print.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

It looks like the Book of Beasts: Monsters of the River Nations is now available at Paizo.com. The PDF will be available soon.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

I've been having trouble uploading the PDF to Paizo's download store so it is currently not available on PDF from Paizo. But that shouldn't stop you from getting your "PDF Guarantee"-ed PDF. Those that purchased the print book can either send me a picture of you holding the book at an odd angle or a copy of the receipt from the order (with address and credit card information removed) to contact AT jonbrazer DOT com and I will send you a coupon for the PDF.

I apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

We got our first review and it is a 5-Star!!!

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

DMcCoy1693 wrote:

I've been having trouble uploading the PDF to Paizo's download store so it is currently not available on PDF from Paizo. But that shouldn't stop you from getting your "PDF Guarantee"-ed PDF. Those that purchased the print book can either send me a picture of you holding the book at an odd angle or a copy of the receipt from the order (with address and credit card information removed) to contact AT jonbrazer DOT com and I will send you a coupon for the PDF.

I apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience.

Apologies due are all Paizo's—the uploading problems were entirely our issue, but we've got it taken care of. If you've purchased the print version from us, you don't need to worry about sending in your info—we know who you are, and we'll get you access to the PDF as soon as we have it.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

Looks like the PDF version is now available at Paizo.com.

I just want to say thank you for the Paizo crew for taking care of the Print/PDF bundle. You guys really are a great.

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