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Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane (PFRPG)

***** (based on 6 ratings)
IMPJBE0306

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The Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane details the deadly and frightening monsters that go bump in the night. More than 50 brand new monsters for your Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, these monsters will frighten players and challenge their characters in new and exciting ways. This monster book is the latest in the award-winning Book of Beasts series and is the bestiary to the Shadowfall series, premiering in 2012.

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Product Reviews (6)
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***** (based on 6 ratings)

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out of the shadows and into my players nightmares

*****

Having bought and really liked the players companion in this line I have long looked at this book. Well thanks to a little spare cash E-bay and a wife who knows Valentines day isn't always about flowers and chocolates (thanks dear) I finally got myself a copy. This is a great assortment of beasties, low level to high there were not any I looked at and couldn't see myself using. The best part is my regular gaming group has no idea what is in this book so anything I pull out is new and interesting. Stand outs were of course the Monkeybat and I really liked the Spiderbear as well. I look forward to future releases in the Shadowsfall line up.


A rather evil book of monsters!!

****( )

I pre-ordered this book on the merit of the one Shadowsfall Legends tale that was out and the previews posted on the Jon Brazer Enterprises blog. I am still new at reviewing books, I would counsel you to look to KTFish7, Dark Mistress, and Endzeitgeist's excellent reviews for a blow by blow of the book.

The monsters are a lot of fun. Some of them are VERY challenging, some are a very low challenge rating. My favorite in the book is the Cave Fisher Shadow in Appendix 1. It attaches an incorporeal filament to a creature's shadow and drags them away by its shadow. Awesome!

The flavor text for each monster is phenomenal providing some words of advice on facing the creature (usually they say to run away), or providing a hint at what inspired the monster. Artwork is black and white and ranges from good to excellent. Some of the artwork is reminiscent of 2nd edition monster books and on par with the artwork in The Tome of Horrors Complete. Editing was good with very few errors or glitches given the size of the book. Format is two columns with text flowing around the art. One monster per page, until you get to the appendices where they are lists of statblocks in challenge rating order.

If you are a GM or you ever plan to be a GM, you will not regret purchasing this book. The monsters are fresh and imaginative. The descriptive and flavor text is well written and grabs your attention. I will definitely be picking up the rest of this line as it comes out.

4 stars taking the one down because of the spelling errors that I did find.


Yet another contender upholding the excellence of the Book of Beasts name!

*****

Disclaimer - I received a review copy of this item from the authors. Of course, I would have had already bought it if the store hadn't sold out of the Print/PDF bundles at the time and kept me from ordering it then! :)

At any rate, this is a spectacular little collection of monsters. I'll be using at least two of them as early as my next game session. (The begging-to-be-a-familiar Monkeybat and the Kyton-offshoot Noxil... both of which should have had statblocks for player use as well, actually.) There's not a single beast in this thing that isn't well-worth your purchase dollars. On top of the awesome new creatures, there's also some great variants on existing creatures, like Shadows, Spectres, and Skeletons. The beasties have a big range on them as well, from city destroyers like the Starak and the Black Worm to appropriate challenges for beginners, like the aforementioned Monkeybat and Noxil.

Oh, and the monster feats in back are pretty cool. Is this the first appearance of Combat Patrol? I really loved that one.

The flavor text of this thing is pretty awesome too. Lots of data on how these beasts fit in-world, and each little excerpt is amazingly well-written. I can't wait to see the other books in this line, just on the quality of this stuff.

In the final analysis, Jon Brazer's knocked another one out of the park... and I'll be buying this myself when the print/PDF combo goes live again and I have the available funds... it's that good!


*****

Weighing in at 52 pages this PDF presents us with a core bestiary for the Shadowsfall setting, and one seriously twisted collection of critters. The page breakdown is as follows:
Covers, Front & Back: 1 page each
Blank pages: 2, 1 after front cover, and 1 before back cover
SRD, TOC: 1 page each
List of suitable monsters from other sources: 1 page, and an interesting idea to support core products in a very useful manner. Extremely helpful list for a GM.
Advertisement: 1 page, showcasing the Player's companion and Gazetteer for Shadowsfall
New Material: 30 pages of new or variant monsters
Appendices: 14 pages of variants, CR listings, universal rules, new feats, etc.

Formatting follows the standard dual column look for monster statblocks we've all come to know, with embedded artwork that ranges from really spectacular to OK. All interior artwork is B&W, with a few pieces of stock art that prove perhaps the stock pool needs to be replenished (I've seen a few of these pieces elsewhere, several times). Grammatically there were a few missteps, but nothing that couldn't be worked out for meaning quickly enough (i.e. Black work poison instead of Black worm poison or a racid stench for a rancid stench).

Now, before I go into detailing any of the creatures within this collection, I want to point out one of the cooler features of this book in my opinion. The creatures are presented with advice, words of wisdom if you will, from others who have encountered them. The inclusion of this really helps sell the immersion factor, and added a very cool factor to this book making it more than just another collection of monsters. There are also many, many references to pieces of literature detailing these creatures within the Shadowsfall setting, which I love, because it's another immersion technique, and a great way to introduce tomes to our players.

So, let's take a look at the beasties, shall we?
Black Worm: A colossal beast, think the shadow planes answer to the purple worm...on steroids....pissed. At a CR18 this monstrosity can swallow you, that town, and the hamlet on the other side of the river..whole....It's fricking huge, and has a breath weapon to boot. One seriously wicked worm folks.
Centaur Raav: A skeletal abomination built from the bones of a centaur and armed with bone spikes and blades protruding from its extremities, this is one seriously wicked looking creature.
Clawed Kadian: An interesting take on a ghost, the creature is a ghost who is still corporeal, with incorporeal attack options.
Darkling: Now this, this is how dark fey should be presented. The darkling actually accelerates its healing by licking the blood of its victims from its axe or claws....that's just so twisted. Well done.
Deathhand: The ferryman's personal hunting dogs, a deathhand would be the last thing you ever want to stumble across. Charged with collecting those who have tasted death, these are seriously dangerous opponents to have to face in combat. Also presented within this entry are several Deathhand Captains, while no stats are presented, more than enough adventure hooks and thoughts on their advanced nature is provided to use them easily enough.
Quake Dragon With how often we see a variant dragon show up in a new creature book, it is always a pleasure to find one that really is good, and manages to feel fresh and new without departing from the concept of what a dragon is. The quake dragon is presented with a full age progression chart, as well as a couple of full statblocks for various points in it's lifespan. A well thought out creature, with some interesting abilities, like Earth Glide – allowing it to essentially swim through earth, leaving no tunnel or trace of its passing.
Dread Gargoyle: A larger, more dangerous variety of the standard gargoyle with the ability to manipulate its own body to always have stones ready to throw.
Dull Mite: The shadowplane variant on the material plane's Mite, these little fey have been drained of their color, and have the ability to steal their targets, resulting in Charisma penalties.
Shadow Elemental: Detailing a standard as well as a range from small through huge, greater and elder, this entry gives you a total of 6 variations of this elemental.
Great Dodo: Gargantuan in size and pissed that your grandpa ate its cousins, this giant bird has a score to settle.
Headless Hunchback Skeleton: Both a standard and a champion variety are presented.
Helblar: 3 full statblocks for a standard, greater and champion are presented for this odd guardian of the dead and their resting places.
Kyton, Dermistide: Wrapped in bandages that it can control to grapple and flay its targets with, this particular kyton variant is twisted in it's sadism.
Kyton, Noxil: Only as large as a halfling, these wretches have their heads encased in a spiked harness whilst a pendulum blade hangs suspended from their necks.
Monkeybat: So, channeling their inner Oz, this creature not only satisfies those looking for winged monkeys, but goes that extra mile and gives us the adventure hook of the entire arrival of Dorothy (now renamed Dorhana Breeze). Liked the creature, would have liked it more without the over the top references to Baum's characters. It was strong enough to stand on its own, it really was.
Nightshade, Nightstalker: A commander of skeletal armies, this undead lion of shadow hunts the negative plane for the living.
Onyx Ooze: killing with a “cold acid”, the Onyx Ooze is a far more cunning predator than your standard ooze.
Phantasm Swarm: A collection of souls denied an eternal reward after death, this collective rages against religion, and those that serve it.
Psychopomp, Memitim: A collector of souls essentially, the memitim's purpose is to make sure that powerful souls pass on, and do not end up as undead.
Shade Anuran: A frog like race with an interesting ability to utilize the shadows around them.
Spectres: Stats presented for both a spawn and a lord, as are enough fluff to work two epic spectres into a campaign.
Spiderbear: Remember that spider you squished in the shower? Pray these never find out. All the abilities and poison of a giant spider merged with the power, strength and claws of a bear.....dear lord forgive us our spider squishing, we know not what we might be pissing off.
Starak: The ShadowPlane's answer to the Tarrasque, a colossal beast that sleeps for centuries, eats and demolishes nations, and is pretty much an all around bad ass. Add to that a deafening roar, and you have yourself a contender for that massave monster fight you've always wanted to stage (tarrasque vs. starak anyone?)
Unquiet Giant: Ok, I love me some undead, I do. But this feels like a template, not a monster. It's cool, it is, but in presenting it in this manner I am left wondering, if this is an undead giant, what race of giant was it before it died? What happened to those abilities it had in life?
Vampiric Tree: darting its targets with poison sap covered bark, this tree then “bites” into its prey with it's roots, draining them of their blood.
Appendix 1: Shadows- statblocks for variant shadows, who ever said shadows are only human?
Appendix 2: Skeletons- variant skeletons, including the monkey and minotaur skeletons
Appendix 3: Zombies- variant zombies including a bulette, a basilisk and a gnome.
Appendix 4: Darkened Template- template to transform any creature into a being embraced by the realm of shadow. Example creatures include the Darkened Giant Centipede and Darkened Kraken.
Appendix 5: Universal Monster Rules- 4 pages detailing the universal abilities found within statblocks, helping to keep the statblocks more streamlined and clean looking by organizing all of this information together.
Appendix 6: Feats- 1 ½ pages detailing the new feats scattered through statblocks throughout this PDF.
Appendix 7: New Creature Subtypes- small paragraph covering the Shadow subtype.
Appendix 8: Creatures by CR- ½ page list

All in all, a fantastic collection of creatures. There are a few that did not grab me, and this is normal in a collection of this nature, as the standard right off the bat was set pretty high with the Black Worm, raising the stakes for all creatures after it. As a sourcebook for the Shadowsfall setting, this book is a must, but even without using this specific setting, this collection of creatures is a treasure trove of diabolical deliciousness. Giving this book a solid 5 stars rating, and highly recommending it to any and all GM's out there.


Very cool monster book for the plane of shadow.

*****

Book of Beats: Monsters of the Shadow Plane by Jon Brazer Enterprises

This product is 52 pages long. It starts with a cover, ToC, OGL, and credits. (4 pages)

Monsters(39 pages)
It starts off with a list of monsters from the 3 Pathfinder Bestiary's that also fit the plane of shadow. There is 57 new monsters in this book so no way I can list them all. They range in CR from ¼ to 21, and they seem to be fairly evenly spaced out in CR ranges over that range. This includes the first four appendix's which included several types of shadows 5, skeletons 6, zombies 6 and a new Darkened Template with 4 monsters having it applied to them already. Below is a few of my personal favorites.
Darkling – evil fey that look wicked cool and are wicked cool. They can self heal by licking blood from their fey axe.
Deathand – think of them like soul stealing grim reapers.
Dull Mite – I love them just for one of their special abilities. Color steal, yes they drain the color from stuff and do Chr dmg. Gnomes of Pathfinder shake with fear.
Elemental Shadows – Something needed.
Great Dodo – It's a giant Dodo being shown eating a man, what more need I say?
Monkeybat – it is a monkeybat that flings … filth... your players will HATE them.
Nightstalker – a Shadow undead lion thing, that causes desecration and fear.
Onyx Ooze – A ooze long ago trapped on the plane of shadow and transformed and spawned a new race.
Phantasm Swarm – tiny undead swarm, one of the coolest monsters in the book.
Vampiric Tree – despite it's name it is just a tree that eats living things.

Appendix 5-8 (8 pages)
Appendix 5 is a copy of the universal monster rules. Six is copies of feats used by the monster within this book. Seven is a new subtype of monster the shadow subtype and Eight lists the the creatures by CR groups.

It ends with a ads and back cover. (3 page)

Closing thoughts. The art work is black and white and range from meh to pretty good. Editing and layout is very good. I didn't notice any errors at all. It is well bookmarked which is a big plus for a PDF this size. There is a whole host of varied and well done monsters, with new and interesting abilities, how they fit into the plane of shadow ecology, etc. While not all the monsters where great, there was very few bad ones and the vast majority where very good to outstanding. If this is the type of product we can expect from the rest of the line I really can't wait for it. I should note I am somewhat biased. I love the plane of shadow and have been looking forward to this book and the rest in the series since I heard about it. Plus I live there, so I am curious to see how well mere mortals get it right. So what's my rating? I am giving this a 5 star review. If you want monsters for the Plane of Shadows or more options from that plane then pick it up. You won't regret it.

Trust me, I'm a Succubus.


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