Pathfinder RPG Bestiary Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated: March 18, 2016.


Claws and Talons: If I gain claw attacks, can I put those claw attacks on my feet?

If you are a bipedal creature (roughly humanoid-shaped, with two arms and two legs), your claws must go on your hands; you can not assign them to any other limb or body part.

If you are a quadruped (or have more than four legs), you can have claws on your feet. If you have claws on all of your feet, normally you can't use all of those claw attacks on your turn unless you have a special ability such as pounce or rake.

Talons are much like claws, but go on a creature's feet, usually a bipedal creature (especially a flying bipedal creature such as a giant eagle or harpy). An ability that grants you claw attacks cannot be used as if they were talon attacks (in other words, you can't "re-skin" the ability's game mechanics so you can use it on a different limb).

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Constrict: When a creature with the constrict universal monster rule (Bestiary, page 298) grapples a foe, when does it deal constrict damage?

A creature with constrict deals this additional damage every time it makes a successful grapple check against a foe. This includes the first check to establish the grapple (such as when using the grab universal monster rule).

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How does DR interact with magical effects that deal bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage?

Although the Bestiary definition of Damage Reduction (page 299) says "The creature takes normal damage from energy attacks (even nonmagical ones), spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities," that's actually just referring to damage that isn't specifically called out as being of a particular type, such as fire damage or piercing damage. In other words, DR doesn't protect against "typeless damage" from magical attacks.
However, if a magical attack specifically mentions that it deals bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage, DR affects that damage normally, as if it were from a physical weapon. (Otherwise the magical attack might as well not have a damage type, as it would only interface with B/P/S damage in a very few corner cases, such as whether or not an ooze splits from that attack.)
For example, the ice storm spell deals 3d6 points of bludgeoning damage and 2d6 points of cold damage. If you cast ice storm at a group of zombies, the zombie's DR 5/slashing protects them against 5 points of the spell's bludgeoning damage. Their DR doesn't help them against the spell's cold damage because DR doesn't apply to energy attacks.

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Negative Energy Affinity: How is this ability (Bestiary 2, page 299) supposed to work?

The intent of this ability is that the creature is healed by negative energy (like an undead) and harmed by positive energy (like an undead); this is automatic and has nothing to do with the intent of the target or the energy-wielder. However, as written, the ability is a bit confusing because of the phrase “reacts to,” which doesn’t have a clear definition. This ability will be changed in the next printing of Bestiary 2.

Update: Page 299—In the description of the Negative Energy Affinity ability, replace the current entry with the following:

Negative Energy Affinity (Ex) The creature is alive, but is treated as undead for all effects that affect undead differently than living creatures, such as cure spells and channeled energy. Format: negative energy affinity; Location: Defensive Abilities.

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Grab: The grab rules for the Bestiary say the ability only works on creatures smaller than the monster, but the grab rules for Bestiary 2 say the ability works on creatures of up to the monster's own size. Which is correct?

Bestiary 2 is the new, updated version: grab works on creatures up to the size of the monster with the grab ability. The next time we do a reprint of the original Bestiary, we'll update all references to grab and similar abilities to reflect this change.

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Incorporeal Creatures and "Counts as Magic": Say I have an attack that counts as magical for the purpose of bypassing damage reduction, such as from the monk's ki pool (magic). Does that mean I can't harm an incorporeal creature at all, since the attack doesn't count as magical for that purpose?

Such attacks should also be able to harm incorporeal creatures as if the attack was magic. This will be reflected in future errata.

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Pounce: If have this ability (page 302), can I make iterative attacks with weapons as part of my full attack?

Any melee attack sequence you can perform as a full attack is allowed as part of the charge-pounce-full attack. For example, a barbarian with the greater beast totem rage power gains the pounce universal monster ability and could make iterative attacks with manufactured melee weapons as part of her charge-pounce-full attack.

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Pounce and Haste: If a creature with pounce is under a haste effect, and it charges, does it get the extra attack from haste?


Edit 9/9/13: This is a revised ruling about how haste interacts with effects that are essentially a full attack, even though the creature isn't specifically using the full attack action (as required by haste). The earlier ruling implied that pounce did not allow the extra attack from haste because pounce wasn't using the full attack action.

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Pounce and Slow: If a creature with pounce is under a slow effect, and it charges, does it still get its full attack from pounce?

According to the rules as written, pounce would allow the creature its full attack, despite the slow effect.

(This happens because there is no "partial charge" action in the Pathfinder RPG.)

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Spells: Can a monster with spellcasting ability use spell trigger and spell completion items?

Yes, a spellcasting creature counts as a member of that class for any effect or ability relating to casting spells as that class. For example, it can use spell completion and spell trigger items usable by that class or use magic items that affect that class’s spellcasting (such as incense of meditation or a pearl of power).

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Trample: The Trample Universal Monster Rule indicates that the monster is moving around as part of the trample, but it never says how far it can move. How far can a trampling creature move?

A trampling creature can move up to twice its land speed as part of the trample.

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Archon: Is an archon's greater teleport ability spell-like or supernatural? Individual archons list it as spell-like, but the archon subtype entry lists it as supernatural.

The ability is spell-like.

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Swallow Whole: Once you've dealt enough damage to a monster's insides, what kind of action is it to escape?

A swallowed character must use a standard action, move action, or 5-foot-step to escape. This applies whether the acting character is the one who cut his way free or another swallowed character making use the exit carved by another character.

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Tiny creatures, Climb, and Swim: Should all Tiny creatures use Dex instead of Str for Climb and Swim skill checks, or is that just for familiars?

Any creature of Tiny or smaller size should use its Dex modifier instead of its Str modifier for Climb and Swim checks. This will be added to Bestiary 4 as a new Universal Monster Rule.

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Vampire: Does a ranger with favored enemy: humanoid (human) get his favored enemy bonus against a human-turned-vampire?

No. According to the vampire template, a human-turned-vampire doesn't keep the (human) subtype, so the ranger's bonus doesn't apply—the vampire isn't quite human enough anymore. In general, favored enemy: humanoid isn't effective against a creature that is a type other than humanoid (such as a vampire, which is type: undead).

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Vampire: Does casting disintegrate on a vampire permanently kill it?

No. This is a matter of "which special exception has priority?" As the vampire monster entry states how a vampire can be permanently killed (and disintegrate is not one of those ways), and disintegrate doesn't state "this can permanently kill a creature that can only be killed under special circumstances," the rules in the vampire monster entry have priority. Reducing a vampire's hp to 0 with disintegrate just forces a vampire into mist form, at which point it retreats to its coffin.

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Creation and Advancement

Change Shape: Does a creature with this ability use the duration of the change shape spell, and have to keep renewing as it expires?

As originally written, with how the Pathfinder rules for change shape work, a creature with the ability must keep renewing it every few minutes, as it is based on a spell with a duration. This negatively affects creatures such as doppelgangers, which live for extended periods in an alternate form, and having to reactivate this ability would ruin the ruse, especially as it couldn't do so while it slept.
The way this ability works is being updated as of Bestiary 2. For now, unless a creature's description says otherwise, treat any creature with change shape as if it had the ability to remain in its alternate form indefinitely, without needing to reactivate the ability. (SKR 9/23/10)

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