Any adventurer can swing a blade, but it takes planning and training to fell the greatest beasts. Today we're sitting in on a crash course on monster hunting to show off some of the new Pathfinder Player Companion: Monster Hunter's Handbook!
"You want to fight monsters, eh? You? The lot of you are scrawny, sickly, sorry excuses for adventurers whose heads are more likely to be appearing as goblin chamber pots a month from now than the polite side of a commemorative coin. If you were serious about this business, you'd have signed on with real talent, like the Duskwardens, the Mendevian Crusaders, or hell, even the Pathfinder Society. See that lady in the heavy armor over there? She's a Hellknight in the Order of the Pike—all dedicated to killing monsters and just shrugging off punishment. That spear isn't to keep fiends at a safe distance; she's more dangerous the closer you get, so her killing something with a reach weapon's a professional courtesy! Nah, I figure if you're training with me, you're either rejects... or you want the real secrets to slayin' beasts.
"Normally I teach a six-week course, but I can tell from the burning village over there that some of you are in a rush to get back and defend your farms from whatever crawled out of your great-grandma's crypt. Lemme boil the profession down into four easy steps: identify, approach, kill, and repurpose. Master those, and you have a long and fruitful career ahead of you of sleeping in the rain, crawling through mud, reading scat, skinning beasts, and getting paid handsome purses of gold for your trouble! Now... 'scuse me as I gather a few educational illustrations."
"If you don't know what you're up against, you're going to die. There, I said it. Now see this? The first key to monster-hunting is knowing what in the Abyss you're even hunting and how to identify it. As you can see here, Lirianne and Ezren are in for a brutal surprise because they believe owlbears are a form of caterpillar that dwells in the leaf litter. Rookie mistake.
"Some hunters can't tell the difference between a centaur and a centipede, much less between boggard and a boggart. The easiest solution is to team up with someone who knows what's what and can spot it coming from a mile away. Rangers and inquisitors are great for that—first one can forage a mean stew, besides, and the second can practically smell monsters... uncanny. As an added bonus, think of these friends as an early warning system; if he gets snatched up by a dinosaur and screams, ‘Oh sweet Erastil, I'm being eaten by an allosaurus," chances are good there might be a dangerous predator nearby. Be sure to ask him about any special weaknesses the beast might have before he gets eaten."
Developers' Note: Been failing a lot of Perception checks? Maybe the abolisher inquisitor archetype's ability to pierce disguises is for you. Don't forget new feats like Monster Spotter and Needle in a Haystack to trace a monster to its lair and get the jump on it.
"Right, so you know what you're after? Great. Monsters are canny scoundrels that have more senses than you have years of remaining life expectancy. The moment they notice you coming is the moment they flap off screaming, gather their friends, and choose a home ground advantage that going to be a real pain to navigate. Ideally, you're going to sneak in and snap the beast's neck, but looking at you, I'm guessing it's better to have some contingencies for approaching the creature's lair like magical flight, invisibility, teleportation, or, y'know, rope. But let's be clear: that's the old way of doing things. ‘Round here we've mastered a new technique called Monstrous Masquerade. Allow me to show off our winter collection:"
"Amiri is wearing triple-ply yeti hide harvested just this morning, as designed by the eminent Cronarg the Obliterator. Accessories include cold resistance, climb speed, and a sinister sense of recycling for a good cause—all for the low cost of a couple feats and some spare gold. Never underestimate the power of dressing like your enemy in order to get the drop on your enemy. So Amiri, how do you like the outfit?"
"MNYARRR! I'M A YETI!"
"Umm, of course you are. As I'm sure Amiri meant to say, taking a few ranks in Disguise and learning to speak Aklo can play a big role in the success of your disguise."
Developers' Note: New feats like Monstrous Disguise and Monstrous Masquerade allow you not only to disguise yourself as monstrous humanoids but also to replicate some of their abilities—flight speed, energy resistances, and more!
"Ah, the sweet song of steel ringing against a creature's scales... it's that cheerful reminder that brute force isn't always enough to cut through a gorgon's hide. You can't just hit everything with an axe until it stops moving—okay you can't always hit things with axes. Sometimes you need to apply some finesse. That's especially true if you're trying to make a living off of monster hunting. See those bounty posters? See how the monsters have faces? If you can't kill a monster without saving some recognizable piece to collect the bounty, you're never gonna get paid.
"Case in point: See Crowe here? He was sent to kill a bugbear chief, but he's gotten a little carried away with the slaying part and now doesn't have any monster parts. If he knew a bit more about goblinoid's he'd have a much cleaner kill and much cleaner boots. Rookie mistake."
Developers' Note: There are some intense options for monster slaying in here. If you're a fan of the ranger's favored enemy ability, you're going to love the Creature Focus feat, which provides you some similar benefits; the Focused [your most hated creature type] Expertise feats then build off that or the favored enemy ability, allowing you to apply that favored enemy bonus on other checks and saving throws your targets love to use. Another favorite is the green scourge druid archetype, which allows you to prepare flame blade and shillelagh using higher spell slots in order to grant the manifested weapon magical properties.
Also yes, we know that's a lemure. We've just seen Crowe in action and know he tends to reduce most foes to piles of glop.
"So let's make an assumption: let's say you prevailed, and the creature's dead at your feet. An amateur is going to lop of the beast's head, heave it before the constable, and get paid. A real pro doesn't let a good carcass go to waste! Scales, teeth, horns, eyeballs... it's all an organic treasure trove just waiting for some enterprising spirit with a carving knife and a little know-how. Chances are that if it came from a powerful monster, a wizard somewhere has developed a spell that uses it. Even if you don't have any friends in the spellcasting business, you can turn spare pieces into downright ferocious trophies and armor.
"Any yokel with a sword and PC class levels can wear dragonhide; that doesn't take any creativity. Talk to me when you've chased off a chimera by turning its cousin's horns into a bullroarer or its teeth into a set of wind chimes. If you want to identify a true master of the craft—like that one over there—watch for the weird trophies. Nobody makes armor out wing membranes if he wants to deflect attacks; he does it because he can kill any threat before it scratches him."
Developers' Note: That's right, there are rules for harvesting critter parts and turning them into magic items and temporary trophies that can spook similar kinds of creatures! If you think Mavaro's looking pretty dapper in his variant red dragon hide armor and array of grisly trophies, take a look at the psychodermist, an occultist archetype that swaps out conventional implements for magically preserved pieces of creatures you've slain (and whose powers you can channel)!
"So what have we learned? Travel with friends, learn what you're up against, kill efficiently, and let nothing go to waste. Right, that's all the time we have. Grab your weapon of choice from the corner, there, and go make a name for yourselves!"
Developers' Note: And most importantly, grab a copy of Pathfinder Player Companion: Monster Hunter's Handbook, full of everyday "solutions" for exceptional beasts!
Organized Play Lead Developer