These cunning creatures may look like dogs from a distance but the slimy skin, poison, and other strange abilities will change your mind fast. Pack-hunting jungle predators, the wastehounds are on the prowl. And they’re hungry!
5 new monsters—ghulhound, wastehound, wastehound alpha, wastehound exile, and zelodian mutant
Ecology of the wastehound
Explorer’s camp with detailed color map
3 different mini-adventures of varying levels, featuring wastehounds
And tons of hooks!
Here Be Monsters brings you new monsters, their ecologies, and mini-adventures to bring them to life. Each episode focuses on one monster but presents several different types of that monster or closely related monsters. More than that, a full ecology fleshes them out for your game, and a lair or other locale is presented—complete with a map—with one or more different scenarios utilizing the creatures.
Let the killing begin!
Here Be Monsters is a high quality, full-color, web-optimized, 17-page PDF from Zombie Sky Press with convenient links to d20PFSRD.com for common gaming terms. It uses the Open Game License and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatibility License and is compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and standard 3.5E fantasy RPGs.
Design: Liz Courts, David Schwartz, Joshua Stevens
Illustration: Michael Jaecks, Ashton Sperry
Editing: Scott Gable, Dora Wang
This pdf is 17 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1/3 of a page editorial, 1/2 of a page SRD and 1 page full color world map of an unspecified setting, leaving us with 14 1/6 pages of content, so let's check out Zombie Sky Press' latest pdf on monsters!
Reminiscent of the ecology-articles, we are first introduced to the origin myths of Wastehounds - th myth has it, that when a decadent empire ceased to pay obeisance to a dark jungle god, one man escaped the divine slaughter: Qilal, the hunter and master of hounds of the city's corrupt ruler betrayed all he knew and pledged allegiance to the torrent of destructive divine will, taking his hounds with him into dark and everlasting servitude. Thus born were the wastehounds. Legends also have it, that Lethisyell, a celestial, was one of his victims: When she failed to heed an order and failed subsequently in her duty as a rear-guard, she was ultimately consumed by Qilal's hounds, her blood creating the black wastes, which to this day ebbs to and forth and is anathema for celestials and infernals alike. From her flesh and strengthened by her suffering were the first wastehound alphas born.
Psychology and phisiology are also covered and are rather interesting - the erstwhile hunting dogs have lost their fur in favor of a green-splotched skin covered in translucent slime. They have also developed poisonous fangs akin to a snake. The most intriguing parts of them physiologically, though would be the sacks of filth they develop - once they have gathered enough poison/filth, they develop into the silvery alphas that are the only fertile members of their species. Psychologically, they are also interesting: Bred from servitude to their shadowy master, the wastehounds have since internalized the trained hunting techniques and guerilla warfare stratagems of pack-hunting predators to a point where they actually are considered to almost act telepathy-style in concert. More on that later, though...
The pdf also provides two legends - one of a merchant guild that did some pretty horrible things and now is seeking to make amends and also of the fall of a sultan and hs realm - perhaps the latest time, dread Qilal has influences mortal realms...
After this, we are introduced to the crunch of the respective waste-hound variants: The Ghulhound is a CR 6 undead version of the wastehound, including a burrow-speed, energy drain and negative energy leakage every time they're damaged. Standard wastehounds come as CR 5 magical beasts with poisonous bites, count always as having a running start and never provoke AoOs when dragging prone targets. Also, wastehounds can determine the exact position of foes by scent in a 100 ft. radius. Alphas clock in at CR 10 and can discern lies as per the spell. The stats for CR 9 exiles are also provided alongside those for CR 7 Zelodian Mutants - humanoid aberrations with human hands grafted to them, courtesy of an insane druid -worse, they can actually fly and are deadlier when attacking with their spears while flying.
The pdf also provides a short gazetteer of a jungle-explorer's camp of a certain merchant's consortium and there are three short scenarios (level 8th, 9th and 11th - more encounters with a set-up, really), all dealing in some way with the respective camp and combinations of the hounds. The camp gets a BEAUTIFUL full-color map - but not a player-friendly version sans numbers to hand out to the players - a pity, for as provided, my players will never get to see the excellent cartography.
Editing and formatting are very good, though I have a complaint: If I'm not jumbling the numbers, there's something major off with the statblocks. Wastehound Alphas as magical beasts have a BAB of +14 and a str-score of 23 for +6. The Alpha also has Weapon Focus (Bite) for another +1, making the final attack +21 - the statblock only states +20, though. Unless I'm missing something, that's wrong. The wastehound exiles attack also is off by 1 and I'm unfortunately too busy to calculate all the statblocks from the ground up, so if I'm not somehow missing something, that's something you should be aware of. Layout adheres to a full-color 3-column landscape format and the piece of artwork of the wastehound is brilliant, though the comicy renditions of e.g. Zelodian mutants feel out of place and detract from the unified look of the pdf. The camp is nice, but the fact that we don't get a player-friendly map unfortunately makes the beautiful cartography a wasted addition to this pdf for me. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks and is hyperlinked to d20pfsrd - per se awesome, though I wished the hyperlinks were highlighted in some way - I found myself clicking on one by accident.
The second installment of the Here be Monsters-line has been a long way coming and the wastehounds per se are an interesting addition to the fold of monsters - were it not for some gripes I have with this pdf: First, unless I'm starting to get senile, there's something off with teh statblocks, which is a problem. Secondly, there's an absence of the legendary leader of the pack - Qilal's stats would have been the icing on the cake. The Wastehound Exile may be a tougher version of the regular wastehound, but lacks a unique ability to reflect his scarring by being cut off from pack telepathy. Speaking of which: Why not make this cool idea more pronounced? The potential is there and tapped upon with a +2 bonus to flanking when in range of an alpha's telepathy, but they could have done so much more. Seriously, I was rather blown away by the concept and ideas of teh wastehounds, only to be disappointed by their mechanical execution: Why don't they get a bonus to escape artist due to their slimy hides? Why can't they spew forth diseases from their sacks as a last resort? What happens when you puncture such a sack with a weapon and spill its contents? There's much potential for coolness in the fluff here that has been left mostly untapped by the crunch. As written, the wastehounds make for a nice addition of canine pack-predators and the fluff etc. is well-executed. But they also fall flat of what they could have easily been with a bit more work and daring. What about the black waste and the influence of the blood? A small sidebox perhaps?
The pdf is very cheap and offers an excellent bang-for-buck ratio, but when all's said and done, the cons accumulate: From the statblock-glitches to the lack of a player-friendly map for the camp to the cartoonish artworks that collide with the awesome piece depicting a wastehound to the missed chance of making something more unique out of them with their sacks, leader and awesome origin myth, we have a pdf at our hands, or at least I do, that fell short of its own promise. Usually, I'd rate this down to 2 stars for the statblock-glitches alone. But then again, this pdf is VERY cheap and actually does provide some neat creatures. For the relatively low price of 2 bucks, I feel I can justify adding half a star and round up to 3 for the purpose of this platform. If the statblocks get a proper revision of the minor glitches I noticed, I'll add another.