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Monsters of Sin #1: Avarice (PFRPG) PDF

****½ (based on 4 ratings)

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The Monsters of Sin epitomize the very worst of our natures, and prey on others’ weaknesses. Designed for GMs, this first book in the Monsters of Sin series for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is devoted to Avarice: the insatiable lust for wealth. The monsters in this book are powerfully motivated by wealth, or they tempt player characters to make poor choices in the name of greed.

Monsters of Sin: Avarice includes:

  • The Hoard Golem, guardian of treasure, born from the paranoia of dragons.
  • The small, but often deadly Map Mimic—bane of dungeon dwellers!
  • The golden Midasites, fey creatures with an invaluable talent.
  • The embodiment of Avarice itself, a colossal outsider with gleaming armor and filthy fur.
  • Details on Avarice within the Midgard Campaign Setting, or any fantasy campaign.
  • Rules for incorporating Avarice into your NPCs and monsters.

Whether you’re running a Campaign of Sin, or just want to add a little greed to your game, Monsters of Sin: Avarice offers a wealth of possibilities!

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Product Reviews (4)

Average product rating:

****½ (based on 4 ratings)

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4.5 stars - a nice collection of avarice-themed crreatures

*****

This mini-bestiary is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving a total of 6 pages content, so let's take a look what Ryan A. Costello has created here!

After a short discussion on the nature of 7 deadly sins, we delve right into a CR+0 simple template to create avaricious creature that can once per day heal themselves via the consumption of valuables.

The first creature, at CR 12, is the hoard golem - born from the greed of dragons, this massive construct can not only steal items by becoming a whirlwind, it also detracts gazes from other threat - with potentially fatal consequences.

The CR 1 Map Mimic is another ingenious creature that can not only mislead adventurers and make for a great story-creature, it is also potentially very deadly if it can get in your face - one of the coolest CR 1 beasties out there.

Midasites, CR 4, locust-headed fey, can permanently turn their victims to gold via a touch. At CR 4 I'm not even I am particularly comfortable with a save-or-die ability, even with a HD_restriction per day imposed on the creatures.

The final creature is a joy to behold: The rodent-faced, facet-eyed, adamant-scythe wielding, 12-stories high CR 20 embodiment of avarice is simply awesome: Each of its eyes can spawn swarms of spidery rat things to steal, has an internal vault, its own outsider subtype and an aura that can potentially disable all opponents close. I love the thing - it is joyfully, beautifully corrupt and disturbing.

The pdf closes with a mini-section on avarice in the Midgard campaign setting.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. The layout done by Marc Radle is in full-color, beautiful and adheres to a two-column standard. The pdf has no bookmarks and I hope that if/when there'll be a compilation, we'll get bookmarks. The creatures all come with awesome b/w-artworks by Aaron J. Riley - kudos to this talented artist's vision of these beasts. This is one of the best mini-bestiaries I've seen for any game and would immediately go for 5 stars + endzeitgeist seal of approval, were it not for SGG's Ravagers of Time - while the bang-for-buck-ratio of both publications is mostly equivalent and the artworks in this supplement are stellar and slightly superior to some in SGG's offering, the latter has more supplemental material. And then there's the midasites one-trick pony ability and its rather unpleasant consequence at this low level. Thus, while this is still an excellent pdf, I'll settle for a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded still up to 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


***( )( )

Open Design has brought an interesting idea to the table, a collection of PDF's designed around the deadly sins, each installment covering a different sin, with creatures, a template, and an Outsider to spice up your campaign, and add the literal embodiment of sin to your game. So, the question then becomes, did they succeed? Let us take a look at the first installment in the series, Avarice.

Weighing in at 10 pages, with 4 pages eaten by covers, OGL, and a credits page. One page goes to the intro behind the series concept, and a brief refresher on just what Avarice is, as most of us refer to it as greed, and are not entirely aware of just what falls under that scope.

The template presented here was so small in it's offering that I honestly overlooked it, and had to refer to the TOC to figure out what it was I was looking at. Not a good start, the template is a one trick pony, in that consuming gp in value will allow you to heal a set HD every day....that's it? That's the entire Rebuild for the template for an avaricious creature? Am hoping to find more within the creatures then I got from the template.

The Hoard Golem is not only an awesome idea, but is well represented with an excellent illustration that really helps sell the concept of this creature. The backstory explaining how these golems came to be created in the first place, the reasoning behind them, is a fantastic touch. Fell in love with the idea of a massive hoard pulling itself up and defending itself against intruders...now I just want to sit down and build an appropriate miniature to unleash this on my players.

The Map Mimic is another fantastic addition to a GM's arsenal of critters, with yet another fantastic piece of art to sell the idea of this creature. Love the idea behind the map engulfing the map reader's face and head, after leading the PC's back to a parent mimic....oh yeah, the map mimics? Think along the lines of tadpoles swimming home, they're the offspring of mimics, smaller, less powerful, but just as devious and dangerous. Well done!

When it comes to the Midasite, I find myself torn. Whereas a new evil fey is almost always a good thing, and one that turns folks to gold with a touch is pretty nifty for many many reasons, not the least of which would be destabilizing an entire nation's economy with just a few weeks worth of gold statue making, but I can't help but look at this particular fey and feel, I don't know, underwhelmed I guess. In comparison to the Hoard Golem and the Map Mimic, the Midasite just doesn't have the wow factor I guess. Perhaps it was the extreme one trick pony routine, the "look out, I'll turn you to gold"...well, what else does he do?

The Embodiment of Avarice is an oddity, a bipedal titanic rat faced thing armored in the finest plate mail, and carrying an immense scythe of adamantium. It's head is covered with thousands of “eyes” that double as “eggs” filled with swarms of spider/rats, that it can release and send out to steal goodies for it, that it then stores within an inter-dimensional space within its stomach. OK, lets cut to it here, this felt like someone had an idea for a bad-ass outsider type, and they shoehorned it into the slot for avarice...this outsider doesn't feel like it has anything to do with this sin, at all. The art is pretty wicked, I'll give you that much, but as far as following the theme of avarice, not so much.

The PDF finishes up with a neat little tidbit of story hook and NPC intro for those using the Midgard campaign setting, showing an example of avarice within said setting.

Final thoughts. Editing and grammar had a few minor missteps, and truth be told, I am hoping for more from this series than what was shown in the first installment. Two creatures of truly awesome inspiration and design, coupled with a dismal template, a boring fey, and an outsider who simply didn't belong here...taken at it's own, the outsider might be pretty interesting, the problem is I don't feel it lives up to the theme for this PDF, and therefore it fails to deliver in the medium it is presented. The fey, technically it does deliver on the concept for the theme, but it really brings no wow factor to the table for me, other then perhaps the art makes it look like a horse-headed bi-pedal locust. And, again, the barely there template - how I wish there had been more attention paid to the template's design.

Taking into account that the two creatures who did stand out for me were awesome designs, I am going to settle with a 2.5 star rating for this PDF, rounding up to a 3 for the purposes of this medium.


An RPG Resource Review

*****

Whether or not you believe, you'll have heard of the concept of sin... going your own way, indulging in your own desires, rather than paying attention to the wishes of your deity. This is the first in a series of resources focussing on the so-called 'seven deadly sins' and providing ample material for GMs to lead characters astray...

Avarice - the desire to accumulate wealth and resources far beyond what you actually need - is a sin that probably besets most fantasy adventurers every so often. Here are presented three monsters whose theme is based around avarice, a template to enable you to bring out the worst in any monster or NPC and a creature that is the pure embodiment of avarice itself - fitting climax to an adventure based around this sin.

First up, the 'Avaricious Creature' template. These poor beasties are corrupted to such a level that they literally eat valuable items. Next come three monsters: the hoard golem, the map mimic, and the midasite. Each in some way typifies avarice - displaying it or goading those characters unfortunate enough to meet them into becoming avaricious themselves.

The hoard golem is, like all golems, a mindless construct, one made out of precious items. Said to have been the invention of a dragon so paranoid about his hoard that he found a way to make his hoard guard itself (rather than hire or enslave guards who might be tempted to help themselves!), they take the form of a shambling heap of treasure that can bedazzle characters with the sheer wealth involved, and conduct a whirlwind attack during which they purloin any valuable items that their target carries.

The map mimic is actually an infant mimic, appearing as a treasure map which shows the way not to loot but to its parent mimic! If it does not lead folks astray and into danger, it has a nasty attack of its own - it attempts to adhere to its victim's face, blinding and eventually suffocating them.

As for the midasite, it is a small insect-like creature whose touch can turn flesh to gold, a bit like a flesh to stone spell only with gold rather than stone as the result. It's a small fey, and wears gold armour itself. Some sneaky art collectors have been known to attempt to capture or befriend a midasite, and then have it create them gold statues on demand!

Finally, the Embodiment of Avarice is a CR20 colossal outsider. Impressive at first glance, it has rat-like features and a dirty furry hide wrapped in fine silks and adamantine full plate armour. Its malign influence can cause the unwary to pull out a valuable item and admire it, ignoring peril, whilst having the capacity to steal precious things and store them in its stomach. When an area contains enough avaricious people - or one who is spectacularly so - it turns up to steal their stuff...

Ending with a few notes on where to find avarice in Midgard, if you use that setting, this book provides some interesting ways to deal with those characters who want to gather far more wealth than they could possibly need, or to build adventures around the theme of avarice. Something to make characters think about what they are doing, and what their true motives are, perhaps... certainly with the potential to be entertaining.


Good, could use improvement (or am I just being greedy?)

****( )

I purchased this product through a subscription to the seven-part series on the KQ website.

The author is Ryan Costello Jr (I noticed that's not mentioned anywhere on the product description). The interior art is quite good, black and white in the style of the best S&S used to put out (by Aaron J Riley). Layout is fine.

There's not much background here. A paragraph on what avarice is at the beginning, half a page on avarice in Midgard, which here means Zobeck, mostly a one-paragraph adventure hook of sorts and then a short paragraph on avarice for worshippers.

The bulk of the product is the monsters. Solid, but I would have liked to have seen a few changes that went the extra mile. The author has gone for simple and direct. The "template" is a single SQ, but it's good and very evocative.

The Hoard Golem is interesting, but lacks the absolutely essential quality that separates golems from other constructs, namely spell immunity. I'd love to see this corrected, because it otherwise has a very innovative twist on a standard monster ability. Not sure why players have to be punished with the "broken treasure" quality - was it meant to break the characters' treasure?

The map mimic will shock players used to a standard mimic encounter. Very clever and generally well executed.

The Midasite is creative and could provide for a very interesting mini-adventure or encounter, but I have to say that full on save-or-die (or at least save-or-gold) at CR4 is going to be a bit hard on the players. Some kind of solution should have been built in to the monster - it has stone to flesh as a spell-like ability, but even a comment on what they'd want in payment for this would have been nice. Also, if they turn objects into gold, what is the value of the object? Again, very flavorful but I would have liked to have seen a little more thought put into it.

The Embodiment of Avarice is an enormous CR20 outsider with some clever and evocative abilities, but definitely in the less-is-more camp, no huge suite of spell-like abilities here. It's very clear what the monster is supposed to do, namely, beat the crap out of your party while simultaneously stealing your stuff. There's even a bit of a dead man's trigger for the greedy, which is highly appropriate. Personally, I would have knocked down the CR a bit to make this useable at more levels - we're not given the kind of background to make using this critter as a master villain for a campaign, it really comes off more as ultimate summoning fodder.

Overall, some really interesting ideas in need of a few tweaks, and perhaps just a bit more background for the overall concept. I look forward to seeing how this will progress in future installments. Well worth a look if you're playing RotRL or Shattered Star.




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