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Monsters of Sin #2: Envy (PFRPG) PDF

****½ (based on 2 ratings)

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Monsters of Sin epitomize the very worst of our natures—and prey on others’ weaknesses.

This second book in the Monsters of Sin series for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is devoted to Envy, the desire for what someone else has—whatever that someone has! It includes:

  • The Bone Swarm, mindlessly destroying the object of its desire.
  • The Emerald Eye, a creation of the mind that wants the same things as its creator, but only for itself.
  • The Echo Doppelganger, who can make you doubt your friends.
  • The Embodiment of Envy itself, a bodiless outsider that can effortlessly pit friend against friend.
  • Details on Envy within the Midgard Campaign Setting.
  • Rules for incorporating Envy into your NPCs and monsters.
Whether you’re running a Campaign of Sin, or simply want to make other GMs jealous, Monsters of Sin: Envy offers a wealth of possibilities!

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Product Reviews (2)

Average product rating:

****½ (based on 2 ratings)

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4.5 stars, rounded down -cool critters, could have a tighter focus on sin-theme

****( )

This mini-bestiary is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD/advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving a total of 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Second in the series on sin-themed monsters, this pdf kicks off with a short introduction as well as the envious creature CR+2 simple template. After that, we're off to the monsters:

-Bone Swarm: A CR11 undead swarm, this conglomerate of undead parts can not only deal painful distraction damage, it is essentially a mode-creature that can lose its swarm-traits when grappling a foe and instead move them at up to their speed - nice when paired with environmental hazards and generally a cool creature, though not one I'd get a particularly strong envy-themed vibe from.

-Emerald Eye: This CR 2 crystal is essentially a psicrystal of an envious nature and utilizes the Dreamscarred Press rules, but comes with all necessary information to run it even if you don't feature psionics in your campaign. Trying to inspire jealousy in others, these twisted crystals can even mimic ioun stones and make for cunning foes indeed. Great to see some psionic love from Open Design.

-Echo Doppelganger: CR 14 brutish doppelgangers that can adapt to a specific fighting style, copying not only appearance, but also feats, proficiencies and even spells, making its mimicry almost flawless. Cool creature, though I think that the lack of sophistication on part of the Echo Doppelganger detracts slightly from its appeal.

-Embodiment of Envy: This CR 19 incorporeal immortal wisp of envious thoughts is the most brilliant adaption of the concept conceivable - lacking everything, even a body, this thing seeks to possess any that cross its path and combined with the power to create an aura that compels those subjected to it to attack it with their most formidable array of powers and attacks, this being is a rather deadly, cool predator and makes for the best of the creatures, at least in my opinion. The pdf closes with the embodiment of sin monster subtype as well as a sidebar on envy in the upcoming highly anticipated Midgard Campaign setting..

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the original pieces of b/w-artwork rank among the best I've seen in any monster manual. The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a minor bummer, but on the other hand, the length is not such as to warrant a downgrade in the final score.

After reading the first installment on Avarice, I knew that I would be enjoying this series and while the second had some technical difficulties (hence the late review), the content is top-notch indeed - the new creatures are all well-designed, have at least 2 signature abilities each and come with some awesome mechanical innovations and choices and especially the embodiment of envy is simply stunning. However, I also maintain that unlike the first pdf, most of the creatures herein have a rather tenuous connection to the deadly sin they're supposed to be aligned with. While "envious" abilities are there, e.g. in the doppelganger's case they feel rather like a survival strategy, not a malevolent intent on the powers/abilities/social status/identity of the person they're replacing - the writing of the fluff could have done a better job of aligning theme and crunch of the book. Since that's rather important for me and since the creatures herein, at least to me, felt slightly less iconic (Yet another undead conglomerate of bones? Yes, the crunch is awesome, but the critter-concept per se? Boring.) than in the predecessor, I'll rate this slightly lower, at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.


*****

The second in the series of Sins, Envy weighs in at 10 pages, with 4 of those pages going to covers, credits and the OGL. Interior artwork is handled by Aaron J Riley, and the writing credits go to Ryan Costello, Jr. following the two column format established with the first installment in this series (Avarice), with embedded artwork, most of the pages remind me of the monster manual pages of old, one page, one creature. Whereas this has always been a clean manner of handling monster entries, it has come back to bite a few folks, in that sometimes one page is not enough room to handle everything. So, let's see how this sin is handled, shall we?

Envy, jealousy, the little green monster...we all know this one, inside and out, and there have been some truly horrible things done throughout history in the name of jealousy, and in pursuit of envy. Envy at its base is irrational, and far exceeds desire to possess, typically formulating in the desire to harm or destroy the very thing one originally sought to possess in the first place. It is with that mindset that we look to these designs, and see how well they encapsulate envy for the game table.

Bone Swarm is an interesting creature, in that it is not one creature, but the collective of many creatures, some represented in whole bone, others in fragments and shards, but all there nonetheless. A collective of those who hunger for the life they no longer have to the point they have learned to totally entrap a target within their amassed frame, and move said target against its will, recreating the concept of vicarious living. Well done and a nice touch! It would be wrong to not mention the insanely cool piece of art that accompanies this creature, and so needs to find its way into a color print on a pawn on my game table, soon!

Now, anyone who follows my reviews will notice there is a severe lack of anything in regards to Psionics, and this is for a very good reason. I am not a fan of them, period. Henceforth, I barely understand them, as I have not spent much time reading relevant material, so the next creature is lost on me to a point, as the Emerald Eye is a rogue psicrystal. Regardless of my expertise on psionics, I have to say the idea of a psicrystal betraying its creator and going rogue is pretty wicked, and an intriguing concept. Artwork for the piece is of a faceted gem (as one might expect).

The Doppleganger, Re-Echo fills the role of the perfect assassin, complete with a muscle memory ability that allows it to adopt any fighting style or weapon it sees, on top of the typical doppleganger physical and audible imitations. The only thing I question, and only because I fear it may make the creature to strong in all reality (it is a CR14 though), is its ability to copy any spell it sees as a spell like ability as long as it uses the ability quick enough. Not that I am against the idea of the spells being copied as well, just thinking that's really putting this creature in the Holy Crap bin, lol. Artwork is an excellent bipedal humanoid that appears to be either in mid-transformation, or is simply one seriously ugly dude.

The embodiment up this time is a much more interesting creation than the last sin embodiment, and I am thrilled to see it. Envy's embodiment is an incorporeal outsider who possesses its targets, getting those around their target to attack out of jealousy...how's that for crapsauce with a side of screw you? Possessed and attacked by your allies...love it!!

Again we close out with a mention of how to work this sin into Midgard, with hooks a plenty spread around the setting world.

And the template this time? Once again, a small blurb, nothing more. I am hoping to see at least one installment in this series give the template some true attention, and perhaps an example creature/NPC. It would be a welcome change to the very small amount of attention the template is currently getting in this series.

Final thoughts. Huge improvement over the first installment. I noticed no grammatical missteps, the formatting and editing were both top notch. Sidestepping the psionic crystal of which I have no room to talk, this was a group of creatures that caught my attention and made me want to use them. And let's be fair here, even the emerald eye got a nod from me, as I don't have to be a fan of psionics to recognize that the design idea is a good one, and twisted. The outsider is an excellent design, and fits well into the theme for this addition to the sin series. All in all, a total improvement, and I hope evidence of where this series is going. Well worth the price of admission, and a solid 5 stars.


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