Monsters Are to Pathfinder What Icing Is to Cake

Monday, April 23, 2007

I've made no secret of my obsession for new monsters. I love them. I can never get enough of them. Will I ever use all the monsters I've collected through my decades of RPG enthusiasm? Absolutely not. But I wouldn't give up any of them.

Unlike magic items or spells, new monsters are things that a GM can introduce into a game without fear that they'll disrupt a campaign. If they prove too lame (as was the case of my home campaign's flying, slavering eradu—a sort of warthog-shark intended to be the "new bulette," but who ended up being glass-jawed, one-hit loser), it's easy enough to never use them again. But once your PCs get your hands on things like new spells and new magic items, it's much harder to back them out of the campaign without a lot of tears and thrown dice.

With Pathfinder, we're embracing the new monster completely. Every volume will feature a bestiary that spotlights roughly six new monsters. Some of them will have roles in that month's adventure while others might just be there to add flavor to our new campaign setting. A few might even be previews of an Adventure Path years down the road. Some will be drawn from real-world myth, some from cryptozoological reports, and some wholly from the minds of our authors. Hopefully we'll all have some new favorite monsters in the months to come!

But talking about monsters isn't enough. We don't have art in yet for the six new monsters that are going to be in the first volume of Pathfinder to support the first adventure, "Burnt Offerings," but we do have descriptions of them. And while names of these monsters are placeholders in many cases, their descriptions are locked in. Check them out! (Warning: as with most of these blogs, spoilers below!)

Attic Whisperer

This undead thing resembles a child's skeleton with the paws and grinning skull of a fox. It is gray and covered with cobwebs, and dust falls endlessly from its mouth. It holds a ragged stuffed child's toy, its eyes pierced by pins, in its skeletal, fox-like hands. The creature is dressed in a small sleeping gown that looks like it was partially burned in a fire, as if it were the remains of a child who had died in bed.

Giant Gecko

There are two breeds of giant gecko in Varisia. The first is the size of a small horse or pony, maybe 8 feet long from head to tail. His eyes are bright blue and his body brightly colored. His open mouth holds hundreds of fangs, and his feet have large flat toes.

The second breed is much larger and more muscular, running about 14 feet long from snout to tail tip. This gecko has horns and a ridge of spines running down its back. Its eyes are bright red, and green smoking drool drips from its mouth, indication of its venomous bite.

Goblin Dog

While goblins ride worgs, wolves, and giant geckos when they can get them, most goblins are stuck with these disturbing mounts. Shaped like a limber greyhound but with a feral, ratlike face and tail, goblin dogs share their masters' hatred of real dogs. Their front two paws are tiny, black, ratlike hands, and their attitudes are all snarls and froth.

Goblin Snake

This strange snakelike monster is about 6 feet long and coiled around the roots of a tree that hang down from the roof of a cave. The snake has a black body with a thin racing stripe down its flank. Its back is a ridge of tiny horns. Its head is actually that of a goblin, but with a forked tongue and no ears. It has wide white snake eyes and a large mouth with two large viper fangs in the front. Some sages hold that goblin snakes are atrophied, deformed nagas, while most goblins believe that they're reincarnated heroes sent back to this world to punish goblin enemies.


Humanoid but deformed, the runespawn is an emaciated horror with unnaturally long arms and legs. Its hands each have two talon-tipped fingers and a thumb, and their legs bend like those of a dog. It's dressed in tatters and rags that expose much of its skin; veins bulge all over their bodies, forming dark blue or red patterns that look like twisted runes. Their flesh is pale and hairless. The runespawn's heads are curiously elongated. They have only a pair of slits for a nose, and their eyes are bulging and red, with no visible eyebrows. Yet for all this horror, their mouths are the most disturbing, for their lower jaw splits in half at the chin into pedipalps that end in tiny three-fingered hands that writhe about, eager to feed delicious morsels into an open gullet with a lolling tongue.

Sandpoint Devil

This critter is heavily inspired by the northeastern U.S. legend of the Jersey Devil. The Sandpoint version of this monster is a horrible horse-like creature with a fang-filled mouth, large bat wings, and a reptilian tail. Rumored to have been birthed by a woman cursed by Lamashtu, goddess of monsters and madness, the Sandpoint Devil is one of the most famous local legends. Despite long-standing rewards for its capture, it has never been caught. But when hunters and travelers go missing, chances are you'll hear tell that the Sandpoint Devil got them.

James Jacobs
Pathfinder Editor-in-Chief