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List of Pathfinder monsters by mythological origin?


Product Discussion


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Many of the monsters from the Pathfinder Bestiaries are explicitly inspired by real world mythology. Greek, Japanese, Inuit... the list goes on.

However, has anyone created an actual list of which Pathfinder monster comes from which mythology? Many fantasy settings have "fantasy counterparts" to real world regions and cultures on Earth, and finding the right "regional monsters" would be useful for maintaining the proper atmosphere.


I would be intersting, I agree. But hard. Owlbears are from the "D&D mythology", I suppose. But what about nagas? They are originally from Tibetan mythology (or around the Himalayas at least, if I'm not entirely mistaken) but they've morphed considerably during decades of game use.


Good idea! Get on it!


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Rub-Eta wrote:
Good idea! Get on it!

Okay, here is what I can do.

I think I will create a Google Sheet for this purpose - basically, an online spreadsheet that (with the right settings) can be edited by anyone. I will put in the monsters from all the published Bestiaries (well, Bestiary 6 will have to wait until the PDF becomes available) and add the mythological origins I know for any mythological creatures I know, including sources - and others can fill in the rest.

Does this sound like a plan?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

If you can compile the list of names, I will be glad to list the origin.


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I would like to give a suggestion. The list should be organized in a way that the monsters are all mainly classified by their mythological origin.

Example:

Greek | Medusa | Bestiary 1
Greek | Minotaur | Bestiary 1

It would be something like this: Mythological Origin > Creature Name > Pathfinder Source (book where it is)

We already known the monsters and its ease to find their source, but their mythological origin is the most important point of the list, right?


I could help with this. It shouldn't be too difficult to list the origins of all the mythical creatures in the bestiaries, but I'd need someone to list up all the creatures in the APs, Campaign Setting material, modules, etc. so that I could identify the mythical creatures in them.


The Gold Sovereign wrote:

I would like to give a suggestion. The list should be organized in a way that the monsters are all mainly classified by their mythological origin.

Example:

Greek | Medusa | Bestiary 1
Greek | Minotaur | Bestiary 1

It would be something like this: Mythological Origin > Creature Name > Pathfinder Source (book where it is)

We already known the monsters and its ease to find their source, but their mythological origin is the most important point of the list, right?

At least initially I'd like to start with the name of the creature, not its mythological origin. Fortunately, this is a spreadsheet and thus can be searched, copied, and filtered later on.


5 people marked this as a favorite.

Here is what I have so far - it's still in view-only mode, since I want to nail the basic formatting down before opening it up for general editing.

Your thoughts?


Jürgen Hubert wrote:
Does this sound like a plan?

Yes!

I don't think you need to index 'real world' creatures. Though that's only my opinion.


Golem, Clay - Hebrew, European
Golem, Flesh - Literature (Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein")


Lich - European
Wight - European


Zombie - Caribbean
Will O' Wisp - European
Unicorn - European
Tarrasque - European (French)
Troll - Norse
Vodyanoi - Slavic
Ogre - European
Peryton - Roman
Ronus - Roman
Phoenix - Greek or Arabian?


Okay, it's getting close to bed-time in my time-zone, so here is the current status:

I've added base entries for the Bestiary 2 and 3, but without listing their mythology of origin yet - and of course, many entries for Bestiary 1 are still missing details.

Tomorrow I will add entries for Bestiary 4 and 5 as well (Bestiary 6 will have to wait for the PDF). In the meantime, I have enabled public editing for the sheet, so I would appreciate it if others could fill in some details. Let's start with the simple ones - mythological creatures for which there is a Wikipedia entry or similar external source (and please add the link for that as well, like I did). We can discuss edge cases here in this thread.

There is a "Commentary" column as well - this is for cases when the creature does have a mythological origin but was altered significantly for the game (like the Tarrasque, which was originally a fairly "ordinary" non-flying dragon - and not the fantasy equivalent of Godzilla!).


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Okay, I have added entries for Bestiary 4 and 5 (I don't have Bestiary 6 yet, since I am waiting for the PDF). I don't have much time to work on this until the end of the next week, since I have to prepare for a job interview - but feel free to both append existing entries and add further entries for creatures from Adventure Paths or third party publications.

Paizo Employee Developer

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I added some info to a few entries yesterday during my lunch break and this morning before getting to work. This is a fun project.


I've added a bunch of information to various entries, based on what I knew well (mostly Greek, Norse, and Celtic) or well enough to double-check with a quick Wikipedia search. I've also given more complete info for the Cthulhu Mythos entries, since I can cite most of the original stories for those.

I also added a "_" to the front of each header cell's data so that line would remain row 1 regardless of which column it was sorted by. (I'm sure there's a more proper way to protect that row, but this was faster.)

I agree that the real-world creatures should be deleted, since this is a list of mythological origins.

When I have more time, I will try to check other sources in my collection (Monster Codex, Familiar Folio, a couple AP modules, etc.) and add those creatures.

Finally (for now), I have one suggestion that I don't have nearly enough time to implement now: Entries should entered by how they're indexed in the bestiaries. For example, I've changed "Shaggy demodand" to "Demodand, Shaggy" so that it will sort under Demodand with the other creatures in that group.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

Butting in like a bull in a china shop...


I added a few origins, like the Nuno and Isonade, as well as fixing a few sorting errors, namely the Harbinger Archon, Legion Archon, and Jungle Drake, which now fall the same conventions as the rest. I like this project a lot.


Oh, and I placed the origin of Globster as "Real World", but I feel the need to expand on that as it is based on a phenomenon in real life, but isn't a real life being. I'm running into the same problem with Swamp Mummy. I'm going to put them as "Real Phenomenon" for now.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This looks like a great project - good work!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Albatoonoe wrote:
Oh, and I placed the origin of Globster as "Real World", but I feel the need to expand on that as it is based on a phenomenon in real life, but isn't a real life being. I'm running into the same problem with Swamp Mummy. I'm going to put them as "Real Phenomenon" for now.

Similar hangups with things like the Grig (it's an English word of unclear derivation but usually used to refer to tiny things) or the Tophet (it's a word from Hebrew mythology, but it was a place, not a creature)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

I'd actually list Globster as cryptozoology. That is where the term is generally used in the context of.

Also I would probably leave the animals in, just for completeness sake. Also at least some of the dire animals are not actually "real world", while some are basically prehistoric animals. Same thing with the Vermin: most are loosely based on some real world critter, but some are also movie homages, and certainly none of them have a size category above tiny in real life.

Paizo Employee Developer

I agree that globster should be listed as a cryptid.


Alright, so I changed the globster's origin. Also, I did the change that keeps the column titles at the top. Makes it easy to look through it.


I updated a few of the more obscure creatures. I'm climbing up from the bottom and I'm at R. There are more Hungarian creatures in the game than I realised.


I changed Alraune's origin to Castlevania. Though the name is derived from the novel, the novel (sadly) does not feature a plant woman.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

I've started tagging creations I know to be Golarion or Paizo-specific as "Pathfinder" (as opposed to the D&D tag that applies to stuff like Ropers)

Paizo Employee Designer

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Albatoonoe wrote:
I changed Alraune's origin to Castlevania. Though the name is derived from the novel, the novel (sadly) does not feature a plant woman.

The novel, though, is based on medieval plant legends connected to mandrake root / mandragora, where it could facilitate pregnancy but would lead to conceiving a creature with no soul that couldn't love.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Albatoonoe wrote:
I changed Alraune's origin to Castlevania. Though the name is derived from the novel, the novel (sadly) does not feature a plant woman.
The novel, though, is based on medieval plant legends connected to mandrake root / mandragora, where it could facilitate pregnancy but would lead to conceiving a creature with no soul that couldn't love.

While this is true, all of the abilities more closely reflect the video game monster than the original myth.


The bestiary Gorgon is a variant of the Catoblepas, yet they are listed as completely different origins. The name still refers to Classical sources, however.

Edit: as well, some of the Dire/megafuana ones are not entirely based on real animals, such as the Dire Bear having spikes.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

I changed the origin for the Dorvae, as they are an original Paizo creation. The art for the Dorvae was originally ordered for the Dirae who are from Roman myth, but as the art didn't work for that critter they used it for a new monster.

Also added more info for Drow: While the name comes from the Orkneys, most of the actual details about them owe inspiration to the Black Martians from the Barsoom books.


As I found out while contributing, Solifugids (camel spiders), whip spiders, and whip scorpions are all different types of arachnids, despite looking very similar.


The Sideromancer wrote:
Edit: as well, some of the Dire/megafuana ones are not entirely based on real animals, such as the Dire Bear having spikes.

The spikes are a weird holdover from v.3.0/v.3.5 artwork (it's dire! but it's not scary-looking enough! better punk that thing up!) and have always been purely cosmetic. It's clear from the parenthetical "(cave bear)" in the dire bear's Bestiary entry that the same stats are intended to be used for both.

Paizo Employee Designer

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The Sideromancer wrote:

The bestiary Gorgon is a variant of the Catoblepas, yet they are listed as completely different origins. The name still refers to Classical sources, however.

Edit: as well, some of the Dire/megafuana ones are not entirely based on real animals, such as the Dire Bear having spikes.

Wes pulled out a bunch of primary sources for the gorgon-as-bull during a meeting one time. Fortunately I don't have to remember them all because he also posted his findings online.


Two things:

- You can enforce line breaks within a cell by pressing "Ctrl + Enter". I've used that on certain commentary entries which were rather lengthy so that they become more readable.

- Would it be useful if I also created an "Extended Commentary" open document (not a sheet) where people could add more details on individual monsters that warrant it? This document could be linked to from the "Sources" column.


Does anyone know if the giant whiptail centipede is based on a real centipede species?


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Googling "whiptail centipede" only gave me PF results, and I found nothing on wikipedia's centipede article for species with a long tail, without equally long legs. My guess is it's custom.


I went ahead and listed the Capramace as an American urban legend, since I'm fairly certain it's based on the Goatman.


A lot of the Aeons as concepts/themes they are concerned with, if not their actual monster design, are based on old Hindu religious concepts. I guess that's not the same as a mythological origin, though.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

Many of the Outsiders types seem to derive from a number of sources- which is fitting.


Now that Bestiary 6 is out, I have added base entries for its creatures.


Could the Gluttongrass be PF's version of the Fear Gorta or hungry grass?

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