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So, You're Designing a Pathfinder Monster...


RPG Superstar™ General Discussion

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Paizo Employee Developer , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

50 people marked this as a favorite.

Howdy folks! Some of you entering and following along with RPG Superstar know me already, but some of you don’t. If that’s the case and you’re interested knowing more about me, clicky on the button right there. Onward to monster design tips!

”More About Daigle”:

I’m Adam Daigle and I’m a developer here at Paizo. I mainly work on the Adventure Path line and I’m in charge of everything that isn’t the adventure, and I work with James and Rob to help them plot out the APs as a whole and the stuff that goes into each Adventure Path volume. I’ve been working here for nearly two years and it’s been both a blast, but also a learning experience.

Before coming to work here at Paizo, I was a freelancer and contributed to dozens of Pathfinder products for both Paizo and a number of awesome third party publishers. Being a huge Pathfinder and Paizo fan, I spent a lot of time on these messageboards and got to know a ton of great people that also spent their time posting with people they either only know online or only see at conventions. It was actually folks in this community that convinced me to start freelancing. I love watching the RPG Superstar competition each year. I submitted an item the first three years, failing to place in the Top 32 each time. So, to all of you that didn’t place—I feel ya. Been there.

A fair portion of my freelance RPG work has been in the design space of monsters. Designing the divs and the azi dragons for the Legacy of Fire Adventure Path was among my earliest of assignments for Paizo and I had been doing monster work for Open Design (now Kobold Press) prior to that, so I ended up getting more monster assignments from publishers. Sean hit me up for at least a couple dozen monsters for each of the hardcover Bestiaries, and Wes assigned me plenty more for the Adventure Path Bestiaries. I won Kobold Press’ first King of the Monsters contest and Wolfgang even had me work as the lead developer in putting together the Midgard Bestiary, which was my last big freelance project before coming to work at Paizo.

Now, I assign and develop around 60 monsters a year for the Bestiary in the back of the Adventure Paths. I work with some great freelancers and I use monsters as a way to try out new authors. Monsters are a great way to see someone’s skill in both mechanics and writing.

Monsters are something I’m super-interested in, and I’m glad that I’m able to judge this round of RPG Superstar.

Most of the advice that follows is taken from a document I give to freelancers who design monsters for me for the Adventure Path Bestiaries. Some of this is personal preference. Some of it comes from our house styles. As with all advice, take it or leave it. At the end of the round, it’s the voters that make the call. I hope this helps not only those of you that make it into the Top 32, but I also hope it helps GMs working on their homebrew games and aspiring freelancers (heck, even working freelancers).

If you’ve never designed a monster for Pathfinder before, start here: Monster Creation
Bookmark it if you don’t have the physical page handy. You will reference this frequently.

Designing monsters can be difficult. A fair amount of monster design is an art and not a science. The author needs to be both an engaging writer and they must have a strong grasp of the rules. Monster design is a great way to see how people come up with brilliant ideas and make them conform to the rules. A monster entry is a good way to evaluate an author. Monsters also take up a small, defined amount of space, so the writer must make careful decisions to present only the most relevant and crucial information about their monster and sacrifice all the other ideas. In fact, we set the rules to include a word count very similar to what we ask of the freelancers who contribute to our hardcover Bestiaries. Each of the single page monsters in a Bestiary are between 500 and 600 words (give or take depending on art), so when we assign a bestiary entry it needs to fit in that space or else things have to get cut. What follows are just a few pointers, arranged in no particular order.

• As you are designing your monster, make sure you check your creature against Table 1–1 in the Bestiary. This table sets lays out where a creature’s various statistics should be for their Challenge Rating. Not everything needs to hit those numbers 100%, but most of them should. If one or two is higher than the values for that specific CR, consider lowering one or two somewhere else to balance that out. For example, if you have an AC much higher than your CR 4 creature should have, consider having its hit points be a bit low for a CR 4 creature. You can be slightly off the mark for one or two things, but it’s always best to make up for it somewhere else. That said, with low CR monsters a little off the mark can be a bigger deal than with mid- or high-CR monsters.

• Look for commonalities between existing “families” of monsters. If you see what looks like a trend and don’t understand it, dig deeper to figure it out. In addition, if you are designing a monster that is part of an existing “family” of monsters, make sure your monster has the necessary elements. For example, if you are making a new dark folk it should have a death throes ability. If you are designing a div make sure it has a weird aversion or compulsion.

• When designing a monster, think of monsters that do similar things or have similar abilities and use them and their abilities to guide the design of your monster.

• If a special ability is just like another creature’s ability with only a slight change, make sure to copy that ability’s language exactly (aside from the exception). There is no reason to reinvent the wheel. Furthermore, you’ll notice that the rules elements in monster design are very formulaic. Sometimes the best guide is looking at other monsters and seeing how their abilities are written and formatted. Rules need to be consistent and use the same language, so compare your special abilities to similar existing special abilities and follow that language.

• Related to the above point: Don’t reinvent Universal Monster Rules. If you have an idea for a new special ability that’s very similar to one in the UMR, consider if that slight difference is important. If not, then just use the UMR and it will save you a chunk of word count by cutting out a special ability. Including all the rules for a special ability add up quickly with word count (“The save DC is Charisma-based.” is a short example.)

• Make sure you put any special abilities that are in the Special Abilities section into its proper line in the statblock (for example: Defensive Abilities, Special Attacks or SQ). If you are using a UMR it tells you where in the statblock it goes. You can also compare similar abilities to existing statblocks to determine the proper line.

• Remember that a monster is typically only in a fight for a short number of rounds. (There are obvious exceptions). If you design a creature with 6 special abilities and a bunch of spell-like abilities, chances are it’s only going to get to use 3 or 4 of them. Also, consider the GM that is going to be tasked with running your monster creation. If your design has too many options or overly complex combinations of abilities, it could slow down the game for those playing it. Just something to consider.

• Make sure the monster’s Intelligence matches its described culture and behavior. I sometimes get a turnover of monster that has an Intelligence of 3, but it is described as having complex hunting methods, elaborate societal hierarchies, or a keen understanding of something that the rules presented don’t back up. On the flip side, I’ve seen creatures turned in that have Int 22 but act simple. Avoid this.

• There are a few feats that are pretty worthless for monster design: Improved Natural Armor, Improved Natural Attack, and to a lesser extent Toughness. (There are probably others, but these are the key ones.) When you are designing a monster you can break a few rules. (Though I laud it, Table 1–1 and some elements of the Monster Creation chapter of the Bestiary are guidelines.) If a Medium creature normally has a claw attack that deals 1d4 points of damage, but your creature has gigantic hands or razor sharp claws, you, as the designer, can just decide to make those claw attacks deal 1d6 points of damage without having to choose a feat for it. (It took me a few monster creation tries before I learned that.) You also can set natural armor for whatever you want (as long as it makes sense), so Improved Natural armor is a complete waste. Toughness is a waste because 9 times out of 10 you can just adjust the creature’s Constitution (or Charisma) score to get the hit points to where they need to be according to Table 1–1.

• Spend some time just thinking about your monster and researching real world animals, cultures, or science that involve some of the elements of your monster. Make sure that the monster as a whole makes sense. It’s easy to get caught up in mechanics, meeting word count, and using proper grammar, and miss contradictions that can pop in. If it has tentacles, consider why it has tentacles. If it has three eyes on the crown of its head, why are they there and why are there three? If it doesn’t have a mouth, how or what does it eat?

• Names: One of the more difficult parts of monster design. Different people think different things sound cool to their ears, and it’s not uncommon for people to completely disagree with each other about that. When naming there are a few ways to avoid certain pitfalls. First, make sure you read the name out loud to make sure it isn’t goofy or suggestive. Google the name of your monster. This helps you not accidentally copy something else, and it helps you realize what people might see if they searched for it. Some searches will make you rename a monster. I’ve been there. Trust me.

• The italicized introductory description line in the submission template: This is the one-to-two sentence descriptive text found just under the creature’s name and right before the start of the stat block. This is the first thing people read after reading the creature’s name. This text should be rich and evocative. It should never include “you” (as in, “You see this beast rising up from a stagnant pool.”) This leads in to another no-no. Never assume PC action and never assume location. Don’t mention that a creature “slinks out of the shadowy alley.” in case a GM uses the monster indoors or underground. Bonus points: If applicable, use more than just sight.

• Make your first sentence of the flavor text really pop. Establish the monster’s role in the first one to three sentences.

• I’ll end with just a personal preference: I dislike joke monsters and only like cute monsters if they are really solid. (Says the guy with a flumph avatar.)

Sorry about all of that. I got a bit talkative. :)

If you’re reading this and just made it to the Top 32, congrats! I’m looking forward to reading your monster and I hope all of you make it very hard for me to decide.

Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Thanks Adam!
Hmmm I'm dedicated already? I thought I would not make it until today :) g

Paizo Employee Developer , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

You're very welcome! I kept trying to make it shorter, but then gave up and figured the more folks know the better things might turn out. Hope it's not too intimidating.

Silver Crusade Dedicated Voter Season 7

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Not at all, many thankies :3

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thanks for the tips! This will be useful even if I don't make it into the Top 32 ever again!

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Phloid

Yeah, great advice. And the longer the better. Thanks for posting this for us. I don't think it is likely I will make the next round, but I will be working on monsters just in case. Last year, when I didn't make the monster round, I submitted a creature I had been working on to Wayfinder. And any work you do for the game is never a total loss.

Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka Gio

Great advice Adam!, This cleared up a some stuff that had me confused!

Thanks!

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

Thank you. I have a question, one that I've had for a long time, really:

Is there any rhyme, reason, or formula for determining monster ability scores apart from the (very broad) guidelines in the Bestiary Monster Creation section? Any general sense of point buy + "racial/size bonuses"? Or is it basically, check the size table, consider mental fortitude, and come up with what feels right? (And compare to an existing similar monster to see how it stacks up...)

Honestly I will be heavily surprised if I hit the top 32, but I love the challenge for the monster entry so I'm going to write one up anyway.

The Exchange Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Shadowborn

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Adam Daigle wrote:
You're very welcome! I kept trying to make it shorter, but then gave up and figured the more folks know the better things might turn out. Hope it's not too intimidating.

Well, you're no Neil "Wall o' Text" Spicer, but that was a heroic effort. Good advice all around.

Paizo Employee Developer , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

DeathQuaker wrote:

Thank you. I have a question, one that I've had for a long time, really:

Is there any rhyme, reason, or formula for determining monster ability scores apart from the (very broad) guidelines in the Bestiary Monster Creation section? Any general sense of point buy + "racial/size bonuses"? Or is it basically, check the size table, consider mental fortitude, and come up with what feels right? (And compare to an existing similar monster to see how it stacks up...)

There's a Hit Dice and Size table just after Table 1–1 that provide some guidelines (the Size table in specific), but it's basically what you said: "check the size table, consider mental fortitude, and come up with what feels right? (And compare to an existing similar monster to see how it stacks up...)"


It's two years since you started to work for Paizo full-time, Adam? Shesh, How that time is going...

Paizo Employee Developer , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Yep! It'll be two years in mid-March. Sometimes it feels like I've only been here a fraction of that time, then other times it feels like much longer.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

Thanks!

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Arkos

This is excellent design advice! Thank you!

Shadow Lodge Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 9

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Well .. since the rules and the template is out I'm starting to make my own entry and I stumbled in a dilemma.

Usually, special abilities are listed in alphabetical order.
I was doing so but then I realized that a special ability dependent on another one was listed first. It just looks weird to see this special abilities that says "When X does Y" and you have no idea of what it is talking about.

I think I will cut the chase and simply adjust the ability names so that they are listed in a better designed way but, just out of curiosity what would be the procedure?

Do you list the abilities alphabetically anyway? or you break the rule and list them accordingly to their use? (or maybe you just force a rename as I am doing?)

Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

I'm curious, does Golarion mean anything beyond place of origin? Like a specific theme, ability, etc etc.

Paizo Employee Developer , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Scarletrose wrote:

I think I will cut the chase and simply adjust the ability names so that they are listed in a better designed way but, just out of curiosity what would be the procedure?

Do you list the abilities alphabetically anyway? or you break the rule and list them accordingly to their use? (or maybe you just force a rename as I am doing?)

Looking at all of our monsters we've published you'd notice that we list special abilities in alphabetical order. We pretty much always use alphabetical order. This includes listing abilities in the Special Attacks lines and similar places.

When in doubt, always look at a bunch of other Bestiary entries and see how they address something. Compare, compare, compare! :)

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Great stuff, Adam. I really wish you had posted this back in 2012, especially the bit about not using "you" in the monster description.

One thing you don't mention is the convention that monsters attributes follow the 10/10/10/11/11/11 array + racial modifiers, so you should end up with three even scores and three odd.

Paizo Employee Developer , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Mr. Whatever wrote:
I'm curious, does Golarion mean anything beyond place of origin? Like a specific theme, ability, etc etc.

It should make sense for our Campaign Setting and fit into the themes and tones of our world.

Paizo Employee Developer , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Jacob Trier wrote:

Great stuff, Adam. I really wish you had posted this back in 2012, especially the bit about not using "you" in the monster description.

One thing you don't mention is the convention that monsters attributes follow the 10/10/10/11/11/11 array + racial modifiers, so you should end up with three even scores and three odd.

That's an excellent thing to bring up! Thanks, Jacob.

Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Cool. Where is a good place to bone up on if a monster would fit or not? XD

Paizo Employee Developer , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Mr. Whatever wrote:
Cool. Where is a good place to bone up on if a monster would fit or not? XD

The PathfinderWiki is by far the best free resource to learn about Golarion.

Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Thank you very much!

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

Adam Daigle wrote:
That's an excellent thing to bring up! Thanks, Jacob.

You're welcome. As mentioned, I really wish you (or anyone) had posted this advice back in 2012. Some lessons are hard learned. It didn't help that I had never created a monster in my life before the monster round that year.

Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Inner Sea World Guide is the best, which conveniently Adam gave me a copy of two years ago :)
(go blue dragon on Black rock! :)

Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I don't know how others are going about this, but my progress prep work so far is...

Create blank doc.

Paste Round 2 rules and template in.
Go to Monster Creation as linked above, copy paste relevant parts into the relevant sections of the template as aide de memoirs.
Snip up Adams marvellous points, distrubuting to the relevant parts of the template as additional pointers.

I now have my concept and am researching all 4 bestiaries, the bonus bestiary and the relevant beasties in Golarion area related products that match my Golarion theming for my monster.

What I am researching is the average word spend for the initial description, the proportion of ecology to crunch and abilities at the CR I am looking at.

Then by Monday, I just have to write up my monster constantly being prompted of things to do and not do, then it is just polish polish polish.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka theheadkase

Thanks Adam (and Jacob)!

Even if I don't get to make an entry for RPGSS '14...this is invaluable insight.

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter Season 7

Cool beans. =)

Shadow Lodge Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 9

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I wrote the entry, The whole template, the descriptions and turns out is 660 words after various revisions.

And I'm obsessing with it like I was a top 32 already and the date to submit is tomorrow.
I guess I'm getting too excited over this year contest.

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter Season 7

So, is the next round also anonymous?

The Exchange Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Shadowborn

Tokoz wrote:
So, is the next round also anonymous?

If thing go as they have in previous years, then next round the Top 32, who will have already been announced, will have their monster submission posted along with the judges commentary. Each judge will recommend that a contestant do or do not get sent on to the next round, but the voting is up to the public, with the 16 getting the most votes moving on to the next round.

At this point, everyone gets to say as much as they want publicly about the submissions except for the Top 32. They aren't allowed to expound on their submission or answer questions. The submission has to stand on its own.

Scarab Sages

Thanks Adam!

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter Season 7

Jeff Lee wrote:

If thing go as they have in previous years, then next round the Top 32, who will have already been announced, will have their monster submission posted along with the judges commentary. Each judge will recommend that a contestant do or do not get sent on to the next round, but the voting is up to the public, with the 16 getting the most votes moving to the next round.

At this point, everyone gets to say as much as they want publicly about the submissions except for the Top 32. They aren't allowed to expound on their submission or answer questions. The submission has to stand on its own.

Thanks. I'm trying to be somewhat prepared, just in case, but the urban area put me soundly on an idea that people will recognize as mine if they know me. =)

Paizo Employee Developer , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Something else to keep in mind, urban can go from village to metropolis. At least as far as I'm concerned, it should include pretty much something that would work in any settlement. Urban is a tight design space, but it's an interesting one. I'm eager to see what kind of diversity can be explored with that restriction.

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter Season 7

Adam Daigle wrote:
Something else to keep in mind, urban can go from village to metropolis. At least as far as I'm concerned, it should include pretty much something that would work in any settlement. Urban is a tight design space, but it's an interesting one. I'm eager to see what kind of diversity can be explored with that restriction.

Keep making it easier for me Adam. =)

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

Great post, Adam! :)

The Exchange Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Shadowborn

Tokoz wrote:


Thanks. I'm trying to be somewhat prepared, just in case, but the urban area put me soundly on an idea that people will recognize as mine if they know me. =)

No problem. If you want a better idea of how things go, then check out last year's forum. The monster round is all laid out there.

Dark Archive RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Boxhead

Geez, Adam, how easy are you trying to make this? It's like you want to see 32 good entires... ;)

Paizo Employee Developer , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Eric Hindley wrote:
Geez, Adam, how easy are you trying to make this? It's like you want to see 32 good entires... ;)

I know! Weird, huh? ;)

Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Do you have any advice for a creature that doesn't really fit into any of the already established types? I have an idea that I really like, but can't quite pin point where it should fall.

Paizo Employee Developer , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Look through the rules for the different creature types, and look at the monsters that make up those types. I can't think of anything that doesn't fit into one of those categories, so, you're probably over-thinking it. Comparing your idea to existing ideas really helps narrow in your design. Look at all the monsters in the Bestiaries in the PRD and for monsters that have appeared in our Campaign Setting books and Adventure Paths, look at what the Archives of Nethys provides.

It is always super-helpful to compare your monster to similar existing monsters to see how they deal with mechanics and such. Sure, people are going to have cool and creative new ideas, but for the most part, elements of those monsters conform to existing design.

Compare, compare, compare!

(Be careful with online resources. d20pfsrd.com can't use the Compatibility License because it sells stuff and generates revenue, so it changes the names for the sake of IP (for the most part). When working in the setting of Golarion, this can trip you up. The Archives of Nethys site linked above is 100% in-world.)

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Mark D Griffin

So the monster should fit into all urban environments? I can't pick a specific one like Mechitar or Kaer Maga?

Paizo Employee Developer , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

From what I know, there's no rule restricting your design to one city in particular. Though that could limit your appeal to voters.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Mark D Griffin

I'm just referring to your quote, "At least as far as I'm concerned, it should include pretty much something that would work in any settlement." As a judge for the round, would you prefer to see a monster that works in any urban environment?

Paizo Employee Developer , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

I'm just a judge for this round. I don't make the rules, so nuaces should be directed to Sean. I only prefer to see monsters that fit within the requirements that are interesting.

I'm not making the rules so I'm not going to chime in on what is "urban" (other than the Environment line). I think the voters will know it when they see it.

Paizo Employee Developer , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

It's a call you have to make.

It's also a rule we have to make. If someone sends in an entry talking about the City of the Seven Dragon Towers, then we know they are simply off the mark (and it's obvious that they want the world in their brain to be Golarion. If someone doesn't identify a particular location, but still places their monster in a city and it doesn't stray from the themes and tones of Golarion, then the designer is on point. The important thing is that the monster makes sense in an urban environment. The name and details of that environment are secondary.

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter Season 7

Adam Daigle wrote:

It's a call you have to make.

It's also a rule we have to make. If someone sends in an entry talking about the City of the Seven Dragon Towers, then we know they are simply off the mark (and it's obvious that they want the world in their brain to be Golarion. If someone doesn't identify a particular location, but still places their monster in a city and it doesn't stray from the themes and tones of Golarion, then the designer is on point. The important thing is that the monster makes sense in an urban environment. The name and details of that environment are secondary.

There's a enough real world concepts to work with though. There's a type of fish in the Provo River, Utah that you can't find anywhere else in the world. There's also one in Devil's Reservoir, Arizona that can't be found elsewhere. In these cases it is from an extinction cycle.

There's bugs that can only be found in Brazil and we just learned that there was a type of tiger that could only be found in a very narrow area in India.

In each of these cases though, the animal has come to be defined by where it is. With lion fish and some types of freshwater clams, it's become not only where they are from in the world, but where they are now turning up.

A cryptid that resembles a hairy human is Bigfoot or a sasquatch in the Northwestern United States, a yeti in the Himalayas or a hobbit in New Zealand. They could all be the same species, but have slightly different adaptations for their climate. Again, their geography defines them.

I'm definitely not saying that it's the only way to assure that a creature is rooted in Golarian, but there are plenty of real world examples of how geography can be included in what defines a monster. Seems like if it shows a knowledge rooted in Golarian geography (a desert creature in the middle of Mwangi?) then you can accomplish the goal with very few words. At least you shouldn't have to beat the reader over the head with it.

The Exchange Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 9

Thanks very much for this invaluable advice. Even if I never see the light of a Top 32 this is good stuff, for any campaign

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

Mark, you're allowed to create a monster that's only found in one particular city.

Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

Is there a preferred phrasing for saves?

Spot-checking Bestiary 3, I see

  • "must succeed at a DC 20 Will save"
  • "must succeed on a DC 20 Will save"
  • "must make a DC 20 Will save"
  • "requires a DC 20 Will save"
  • "must attempt a DC 20 Will save"

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