Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary (OGL)

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary (OGL)
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Here there be monsters!

What is a hero without monsters to vanquish? This 328-page book presents hundreds of different creatures for use in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Within this tome you'll find fire-breathing dragons and blood-drinking vampires, vile demons and shapechanging werewolves, sadistic goblins and lumbering giants, and so much more! Yet not all the creatures in this book are enemies, for some can serve lucky heroes as allies or advisors, be they summoned angels or capricious nymphs. And it doesn't stop there—with full rules for advancing monsters, adapting monsters to different roles, and designing your own unique creations, you'll never be without a band of hideous minions again!

The Pathfinder RPG Bestiary is the must-have companion volume to the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook. This imaginative tabletop game builds upon more than 10 years of system development and an Open Playtest featuring more than 50,000 gamers to create a cutting-edge RPG experience that brings the all-time best-selling set of fantasy rules into the new millennium.

The Pathfinder RPG Bestiary includes:

  • More than 350 different monsters
  • Dozens of monstrous variants to modify creatures and keep players on their toes
  • Numerous lists of monsters to aid in navigation, including lists by Challenge Rating, monster type, and habitat
  • Extensive rules for creating effective and balanced monsters
  • Rules for advancing monsters by hit dice, template, or class level
  • Universal monster rules to simplify special attacks, defenses, and qualities like breath weapons, damage reduction, and regeneration
  • More than a dozen feats tailored especially for monsters
  • Suggestions for monstrous cohorts
  • Two dozen additional animal companions
  • More than a dozen different wandering monster encounter tables
  • ... and much, much more!

Available Formats

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary is available as:

Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-60125-183-1

Errata
Last Updated - 9/12/2011

Other Resources: This product is also available on the following platforms:

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Without Opponents, Combat Sure Wouldn't Be Much Fun!

5/5

Bestiaries are Pathfinder's version of the D&D Monster Manuals: reference books containing descriptions and stat-blocks for hundreds of new creatures for PCs to battle, bother, or befriend. They're not designed to be read cover to cover, but that's exactly what I did for this review. The Bestiary weighs in at 327 pages and contains (according to the back-cover) over 350 different monsters arranged in alphabetical order.

The book starts with a two-page Introduction, and it's actually worth reading because it explains what the (28!) different categories of information in a creature's stat block mean. It also introduces the the "Monster Icons" scheme, wherein each monster receives three different icons to visually denote its creature type, terrain, and climate. I like the idea of the icons, but I find them too small and similar to be useful, and I'm not interested in flipping back to page 5 too figure out what they mean. I'm happy just reading the corresponding entries in the stat block.

For monsters, we start with Aasimar on page 7 and run through until Zombie on page 289. This is what the book is all about, but it's a challenging thing to review as my notes are full of bits of scattered remarks about dozens of different monsters. As I can't figure out a coherent way to synthesize them, I'm going to take the unusual tack of just including them as a sort of impressionistic picture of what's in the book. Skim to the bottom for more of the review.

"A"

--aboleths are a lot tougher than CR might indicate!

--Not officially Golarion, but flavour in entries generally compatible

--backdoor cosmology with angels stuff

--really good write-up of Solar Angels

--Army Ant Swarms are pretty nasty!

--like archons--I've never really seen them used outside of summoning, when no RP is involved

--azatas: CG celestials

Bs

--cool how barghests become greater!

--bebiliths: wow, awesome art for an awesome creature!

--bugbear artwork is weird, but fascinating bit on "The Nature of Goblinoid Evil"

Cs

--creepy Choker

--good mixture of animals and various types of monsters

--a lot of classic ones, but some new ones (like chuul) as well

--like history of cyclops and flash of insight power

Ds

--dark folk and dark stalkers?!?! humanoid subtype with language--never heard of them...

--demons! Good, engaging, clear explanation

--don't argue with a balor demon!

--great stories for demons--quasit familiars taking master's souls!

--devils! emphasis on hierarchy

--a good variety of tough foes, with lots of HP and resistances

--great writeup of lemure devils

--fantastic artwork all the way through!

--Devourers are pretty nasty for their CR!

--too many dinosaurs!

--dragons! stat blocks are so long, there's very little description

--driders and drow: underused

E

--elementals

F

--familiar (no idea that was here!)

--froghemoth--really?

G

--gelatinous cubes are really dangerous!

--genies

--love Shaitan genie art

--ghosts: emphasis on story-based customization, 2 page spread

--Giants!

--fun gibbering mouthers artwork

--goblins

--golems

Hs

--half- templates

--occasionally the titles aren't the most intuitive: "Herd animal, bison" for example

--need full stats for combat-trained horses

Is

--intellect devourer--WTF!

Ks

--kytons are cool/creepy

Ls

--lamia artwork is regrettable

--lich: gotta have 'em!

--linnorms are nasty, especially curses and poison!

--lycanthrope template

Ms

--medusas, minotaurs, mimics--all the classics!

--mummy rot sure is nasty!

Ns

-- nagas look dumb

--neothelids are intriguing! need more

--nymphs have cool boons

Os

--Oni need better explanation

Ps

--good amount of player detail for pegasi

Rs

--rakhasa: a lot of potential in the right campaign

--retrievers are scary

--rust monsters!

Ss

--sea hag artwork is great! (and evil eye comatose ability!)

--shadows can be quite more lethal than CR

--touch ACs are so low because of artificial natural armor bonuses, making Alchemists and Gunslingers especially powerful

--shoggoths arent very scary for CR19

--skum have surprisingly interesting write-up

--giant slugs too goofy

Ts

--tarrasque: bad pic, underwhelming

--troglodyte pic is great!

Us

Vs

--vampires: elaborate template

--vargouille's kiss is nasty

Ws

Xs

--xills are awesome!

Zs

--zombie pic is hilarious

Hm, that was embarrassing. Sorry!

After the monster entries are a series of appendices, and these definitely add value to the book.

Appendix 1 is Monster Creation, and it offers a very thorough and clear guide to monster creation. There are a *lot* of moving parts to creating balanced monsters in Pathfinder, so this will take some time until you get the hang of it. Appendix 2 is Monster Advancement, and this is another important part of the book because it shows GMs how to adjust creatures in the book to make them more or less powerful by adding simple templates (like "Giant" or "Young") and by adding racial hit dice or class levels. Appendix 3 is the section of the book I use more than any other, and it's indispensable: Universal Monster Rules. In order to save space and avoid repetition in stat blocks, common monster abilities are fleshed out here: everything from Darkvision to Damage Reduction to Incorporeal and more. Only very, very experienced GMs should try to run creatures just from the stat blocks without remembering to double-check what their monster abilities do, precisely, in the Universal Monster Rules. The same appendix also contains creature Types and Subtypes, which are like packages of basic information that all creatures of a particular category, such as demons or animals, share. Again, this is to save space in stat blocks. Appendix 4 is very short, and provides some advice on Monsters as PCs. I've never used it. Appendix 5 is Monster Feats, though some PCs may actually legitimately use some of them like Craft Construct. If you notice that a monster has a feat you can't find in the Core Rulebook, that's probably because it's listed here. Appendices 6 and 7 list Monster Cohorts (for the Leadership feat) and Animal Companions (for druids and rangers), respectively. Appendices 8-12 are indexes that help a GM who is looking for monsters of a particular type, CR, terrain, etc. Really useful information that most people who just use online databases probably never realized was available. Finally, Appendix 14 contains Encounter Tables broken up by terrain. These include average CRs for an each table, but I still think it'd be foolish to actually roll on them: in a Hill/Mountain, region, for example, your PCs could run into CR 3 orcs or CR 12 fire giants. A party that is challenged by the former would be curb-stomped by the latter. Good random encounter table design needs to have a narrow range of CRs before they become feasible.

I'm not a huge monster guy like some people, but I definitely enjoyed reading the Bestiary and I learned a lot about the core monsters of the setting. I know there are five later books that expand the selection far more, but much of what I see in APs and PFS still draws from this book. Along with the Core Rulebook, it's safe to say that the Bestiary was one of the releases that helped to solidify Paizo's reputation as a company that publishes the highest calibre of RPG books in terms of writing quality, artwork, design, and layout. It's not indispensable since there are multiple websites that present the same information, but for ease of use (and the joy of skimming), the Bestiary is one of those books that every GM should have.


It all starts here babee

5/5

One only two books you require to jump in and play Pathfinder, it is the essential meat in the gaming stew. As important and the core rulebook is, it is nothing with out this work.

Expanded and tweaked off the OGL 3.x material, its cleaner, better organized and tweaked for the Pathfinder rules. Every hero needs a foe, every damsel in distress needs a captor, and every GM needs a source of badies to keep the group on their toes. You will find it all here, between these pages is years of destruction and mayhem.

No matter if you playing Pathfinders own setting, one of your own design and creation, or another publishers material, this is the must have companion to your CRB.


They need more monsters

5/5

not as useful as the advanced raced guide for the monsters you could play as it does have a lot. i own this and well do my best to keep it hidden from my players. they keep trying to make them fight dragons... they are lvl 5


great reference book

5/5

This book has all the monsters you would need on a starting campaine


The standard by which all monster products will be judged by.

5/5

By now, there are several Bestiaries out in print, but when this book first came out you arguably needed to own it to play the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Was it worth the purchase? Decide for yourself!

Crunch
When we talk about a book's crunch, we're looking at its game rules, mechanics, and similar stats. As a monster book, the Bestiary is 99% crunch, and for Paizo's first real Bestiary, it is absolutely fantastic. There isn't a whole lot you can really say about monster stat blocks; they work perfectly and there aren't any monsters that feel ridiculous for their challenge rating (CR). The book also includes several new races that are appropriate for player characters; in this book, we have aasimars, the tieflings, and drow, as well as the applicable but seldom appropriate deurgar, drow noble, and svirfneblin. The book stays true to the rules of its predecessors; when you look at a drow, you recognize it as a drow from previous games. Because of the significant power up that the core races received these classically "OP" races aren't very far out of line with your traditional player characrers, and as a result we don't see the Level Adjustment system in Pathfinder. If you're unfamiliar with the term, in older editions of Dungeons and Dragons, some races were deemed so powerful that you had to actually forgo class levels in order to be a member of the race. For example, if you wanted to play a drow, you had a LA of +1, meaning that your race counted as 1 class level when determining your party's level. This either meant you were more powerful than your friends or (and more commonly) your GM had you start at a lower level to compensate. And believe me, it is not fun to be a sorcerer of an LA race because of how far behind your party is! The racial benefits seldom made up for the loss of character levels and it was a pretty terrible mechanic all around, so good riddance.

Although the book's theme is classic monsters, Paizo manages to add its own spin on fantasy games by including weird and amazing monsters. A perfect example is the froghemoth, which is basically a giant aberrant frog-monster. As a huge Lovecraft fan, I was ecstatic to see monsters like the shoggoth creep up in Pathfinder as well. For a first Bestiary, the spread of monsters is well-chosen and you could definitely run a game with only this book if you really wanted to.

What probably amounts to the best change of all, in my opinion, is the changes to the rules for building your own monsters. These rules are difficult to comprehend and enact in other games, but the Paizo team does an excellent job of laying out step-by-step every detail in crafting your own monsters by including handy charts and tables. For a game that knew it wasn't launching with much material and that it wanted to be backwards-compatible with older products, it was a very wise choice to streamline monster-making as much as they did and its probably the best reason to keep a copy of Bestiary I in your library alongside future monster tomes. 5 /5 Stars.

Flavor
When we talk about a product's flavor, we're talking about its fiction content, its style, and its overall feel. This section is always very opinionated, because even though I whole-heartily enjoy Lovecraft and his works, there are those who don't like their minds thrust into insanity and the mere sight of a shoggoth or whatnot. When you read the Bestiary, the one thing that becomes very clear is that there simply is not much room for flavor. Most monsters get a paragraph and a half of descriptive text and a beautiful picture, but that's about it. Honestly, however, that's all this product needs. The monsters that are detailed are classic monsters, so the information provided about them tends to be enough that classic gamers can recognize the creature for what it is and new players can get a sense of wonder and learn enough about the monster to be on the same page with the veterans. The art is fabulous in this book and supplements the descriptions perfectly, even when the monster concept is weird text-wise a beautiful illustration helps to sell it to you personally.

The elephant in the room is that Pathfinder wants to have its own identity as much as it wants to follow in the footsteps of its predecessors. This means that every so often the Paizo team completely re-imagines and redefines the traits of a specific monster. Usually this happens to a relatively unknown or under used monster (we'll talk more about this in Bestiary III), but there is one monster in particular that is relatively well-known and got the Paizo makeover in a big way. That monster, which has become Paizo's mascot of sorts, is the goblin. To give a little bit of background, traditionally goblins have admittedly lacked character; they were little more than evil halflings in most settings. Paizo's very first adventure path, Rise of the Runelords, shook this up by drastically changing the image of the goblin; they were now psychotic savages who were obsessed with fire and scared of dogs and horses. They sang Children of the Corn style songs about death and murder and often filled a role as comic relief in many of the adventures they have been featured in while simultaneously managing to inspire fear and terror in many a party. In my experience, you either love or you hate the new look of goblins. Many classic gamers that I've played with deplore the "new" goblin if only for the art design; big heads, small bodies. Honestly, however, it doesn't bother me much; my gaming generation includes Warcraft's techno-suicidal goblins and Warhammer's hordes of insane, suicidal goblins; next to those, Paizo's take on the goblin fits in rather nicely.

For being limited to several paragraphs of text per monster, the Bestiary gives you everything you'd expect and more flavor-wised. Its a book of monsters that feel threatening and believable; there's nothing too dumb or too far out there unless you're a hard-core medieval traditionalist. 5 /5 Stars.

Texture
When we talk about a book's texture, we're talking about its grammar and layout, among other things. As someone who has actually sat down to try and write a bestiary, let's be clear that if there's one thing I get, its that stat blocks are HARD. They're hard to format, they're hard to standardize, they're even hard to spell check because of the sheer amount of text that a book like the Bestiary has. All of its complex jargon, half of it made of surreal naming conventions. With all this mind, if there's one place that the Bestiary is amazing, its the texture. There is almost no errors of any kind in this document. Perfect grammar. Perfect spelling conventions. Perfect formatting. Everything is perfect.

As you can see in the picture I included, the Bestiary breaks from traditional monster books in that it limits one monster page, with only a few exceptions (mostly animals and familiars). There is extreme attention to detail in the text placement, and its very impressive that the book manages to be as descriptive as it is with as little space as it has; almost every monster is illustrated, after all, so not only are you juggling stat blocks, but you're also juggling them with text descriptions and illustrations. This book is a marvel of editing and layout and nothing less. 5 /5 Stars.

Final Score & Thoughts
Crunch: 5 / 5
Flavor: 5 / 5
Texture: 5 / 5
Final Score: 5 / 5

This book does everything right. It is the shining star by which all monster-based products should be judged. For a first attempt, Paizo smashes their monster book out of the park, past all expectations. It makes me excited to start looking at the future Bestiary products.


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James Jacobs wrote:

For attack lines, the use of a comma and the use of the word "and" are equal. Had we been more diligent, there would have been NO commas in those attack lines, but as it stands it's merely an unnecessary extra word.

There's no difference between "Melee gore +16 (2d8+10, slam +16 (2d6+10)" and "Melee gore +16 (2d8+10 and slam +16 (2d6+10)." In both cases, the monster can make both attacks as a full round action.

Only if the word "or" appears does the monster have to choose which set of attacks it wants to use.

Thank You.

Dark Archive

This is a big thread!Wait...that sounded a little dirty...

I just picked up my Bestiary about an hour ago and I have to say great job Paizo! If you guys know how to do one thing wicked good its AP's, but a very close second is how you guys do monsters!Thanks for all the hard work! I look forward to future installements in the series. In particular I hope to see a fully Golarionized version of the Tome of Horrors.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

James Jacobs wrote:
Matthew Morris wrote:

Ok, question.

I like that the cockatrice, gorgon, and basalisk all have 'outs' for their petrification. Just curious why not the medusae. Is it because she's an intelligent foe?

It's becasue the medusa is high enough CR that it's "fair" to play with petrification. The basilisk and the cockatrice are lower level, and thus their petrification powers are less "permanent" since it's not good to hit lower level PCs with effects they can't really handle.

Thank you James, I figured it was something like that. Still with the medusa being CR 7 and stone to flesh being 11th level... I think I'm going to have my 'medusa masterminds' use this.

Spoiler:

Stheno’s kiss
Transmutation
Effective level: 6th
Skill checks: Spellcraft DC 23, 2 successes; Disguise DC 23 4 successes.
Components V, S, M, B
Casting time: 60 minutes
Range: Touch
Target: one petrified creature
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw Yes (Harmless)

This incantation, known primarily by medusa, can turn a creature petrified by a medusa’s gaze attack back to flesh. The target is anointed with the blood of the medusa who petrified the target and a mixture of unguents and cosmetics to give the target a more flesh like appearance. The target is then restored to flesh and must make a DC 15 fortitude save to survive the experience. The caster is fatigued, the target is exhausted.
Failure: Each failure increases the DC of the fortitude save by +1, and inflicts 1d4 points of dexterity damage to the caster. If the caster is reduced to zero dexterity, she is turned to stone as well.
Material Components: The blood of the medusa who petrified the creature, and cosmetics and unguents worth 500 GP.
Backlash: The caster is fatigued, the target, if he survives, is exhausted.
(Math: Ad Hoc modifiers: Requires 2 skills, one not on the wizard list (-2) Medium to touch (-4) Ad Hoc target/Ad hoc duration (+0) Expensive Material Component (-1) Backlash: Target is exhausted Ad hoc (-1) Caster is fatigued (-1))

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Matthew Morris wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Matthew Morris wrote:

Ok, question.

I like that the cockatrice, gorgon, and basalisk all have 'outs' for their petrification. Just curious why not the medusae. Is it because she's an intelligent foe?

It's becasue the medusa is high enough CR that it's "fair" to play with petrification. The basilisk and the cockatrice are lower level, and thus their petrification powers are less "permanent" since it's not good to hit lower level PCs with effects they can't really handle.

Thank you James, I figured it was something like that. Still with the medusa being CR 7 and stone to flesh being 11th level... I think I'm going to have my 'medusa masterminds' use this.

** spoiler omitted **...

Stone to flesh is out of reach at that level... but break enchantment is not. Although it would appear that break enchantment doesn't specifically work against petrification anymore... so, hmmm.

Watch out for those medusae!

Contributor

There's also stone salve, which only costs 2,000 gp, and given that a 7th-level PC's wealth is 23,500gp, that's quite affordable.

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
There's also stone salve, which only costs 2,000 gp, and given that a 7th-level PC's wealth is 23,500gp, that's quite affordable.

Hmm. I wouldn't call 10% on a consumable affordable - expensive :) But hey, cheaper than being dead!

Sovereign Court

thenorthman wrote:

A little curious why you are getting it from the Super Big Mega Distributors?

Sean

I've got a B&N giftcard that I put aside months ago just for this purchase. Unfortunately economically I can't pull of a $40 book at the moment, otherwise I'd have picked it up at my FLGS.

I'll just plug along with the pdf for awhile longer.

Thanks for the clarification Vic!


So I've come to this thread late, but I'd like to know. What are the big differences in this book from the 3.5 MM? (Ignore stuff about CMD/CMB.) Given that the PC classes have been boosted, have the monsters, too?

Dark Archive

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
There's also stone salve, which only costs 2,000 gp, and given that a 7th-level PC's wealth is 23,500gp, that's quite affordable.

Nah, that's for those sissy Taldorian campaigns... Chelaxians don't use "MagicMarts" or let the PCs shop for stuff -- you kill things, and steal their stuff (i.e. whatever stuff the GM graciously lets you get).

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
ericthecleric wrote:
So I've come to this thread late, but I'd like to know. What are the big differences in this book from the 3.5 MM? (Ignore stuff about CMD/CMB.) Given that the PC classes have been boosted, have the monsters, too?

The big difference is that the Bestiary is much more easy to use - one monster per page format, streamlined rules for special abilities, more info on advancing and creating monsters.

All monsters have now 1 feat every 2 HD, several monster types were altered (undead get now Cha bonus to HP), dragons are even meaner than they were in 3.5, oh and the few really wonky monsters (Ogre Magi and Rakshasa for example) were brought in line with their CR (read: buffed).

Contributor

Russ Taylor wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
There's also stone salve, which only costs 2,000 gp, and given that a 7th-level PC's wealth is 23,500gp, that's quite affordable.
Hmm. I wouldn't call 10% on a consumable affordable - expensive :) But hey, cheaper than being dead!

And cheaper than raise dead.

Kinda reminds me of a discussion I had with Monte about adventures Gary Gygax wrote and adventures that Frank Mentzer wrote.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Kinda reminds me of a discussion I had with Monte about adventures Gary Gygax wrote and adventures that Frank Mentzer wrote.

Do tell!


Thanks, Gorbacz!

Contributor

Ross Byers wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Kinda reminds me of a discussion I had with Monte about adventures Gary Gygax wrote and adventures that Frank Mentzer wrote.
Do tell!

Basically, Gygax's monsters tended to have treasure that would help you recover from the special attacks of the monsters. Mentzer's monsters tended to have treasure that would have been REALLY useful against the monster you were fighting. So if Gygax had an encounter with a medusa, the medusa might have a scroll of stone to flesh, whereas a Mentzer's medusa would have a scroll of protection from petrification or a +1 sword, +3 vs. medusas.


Hee-hee-hee!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Basically, Gygax's monsters tended to have treasure that would help you recover from the special attacks of the monsters. Mentzer's monsters tended to have treasure that would have been REALLY useful against the monster you were fighting. So if Gygax had an encounter with a medusa, the medusa might have a scroll of stone to flesh, whereas a Mentzer's medusa would have a scroll of protection from petrification or a +1 sword, +3 vs. medusas.

So Gygax's monsters gave you a hand up, while Mentzer's gave you the finger from beyond the grave.


Ross Byers wrote:
Mentzer's gave you the finger from beyond the grave.

::Rogue abandons combat to rifle through the room as the party is getting torn apart::

"What are you doing?"

"If we wait to loot the place until after the fight, we'll never beat this thing."

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

Monte has a whole riff on Gygax vs. Mentzer dungeon design. I wish I had it on tape.

Scarab Sages

Ross Byers wrote:
Mentzer's gave you the finger from beyond the grave.
KnightErrantJR wrote:

::Rogue abandons combat to rifle through the room as the party is getting torn apart::

"What are you doing?"

"If we wait to loot the place until after the fight, we'll never beat this thing."

I recall that was my tactics, during 'Forge of Fury'!

Scarab Sages

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Basically, Gygax's monsters tended to have treasure that would help you recover from the special attacks of the monsters. Mentzer's monsters tended to have treasure that would have been REALLY useful against the monster you were fighting. So if Gygax had an encounter with a medusa, the medusa might have a scroll of stone to flesh, whereas a Mentzer's medusa would have a scroll of protection from petrification or a +1 sword, +3 vs. medusas.

Both situations are fair, though.

A previous group may have brought them to combat the threat, but died of overconfidence.

"The goblin we roughed up, told us the medusa lived below the next set of stairs, so we'll make our way to the top there, then use our protective items..."

<Hissssss>

"GAAAAAHHHHH!!!!"

Dark Archive

It kinda makes sense monsters would have things useful against them. From previous adventures that came to kill them.

Contributor

... in which case, they didn't work so well (barring Snorter's example scenario). ;)


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
ericthecleric wrote:
So I've come to this thread late, but I'd like to know. What are the big differences in this book from the 3.5 MM? (Ignore stuff about CMD/CMB.) Given that the PC classes have been boosted, have the monsters, too?

The appendix has a treasure trove of really useful "stuff".

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I finally got a good look at the bestiary today and we very, very happy with it. I know some are dissatisfied, but as a GM (never a player), I'm thrilled with the final product. This is exactly what I'm looking for in order to run a game smoothly without doing a ton of prep work. I very much appreciate the quick rundown on each monster's battle style and tendencies. Sure, it's fun to have more flavor, but isn't that what the ecologies are for? Again, thanks, Paizo, for a great product!


I would also like to add I am very pleased with the content of this MM/Bestiary. Plus, with the exception of maybe 6 pieces of art, I think this is a superior looking MM as well.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4

Robert Miller 55 wrote:
I would also like to add I am very pleased with the content of this MM/Bestiary. Plus, with the exception of maybe 6 pieces of art, I think this is a superior looking MM as well.

Yes! It just goes to show how much better it is to reuse great art from great artist then to commission 200+ piece and hope it all works out in time. The genie section is a great example! So let us hope there's some Steve Prescott/Wayne Renyold monster covers in future.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4

So the merrow got pushed back to Bestiary II, does that mean they'll have move difference from surface ogres besides the amphibius special quality?


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Wow, so kind of a random thought, but why do Apes only have a 15 strength? I was under the impression they were considerably stronger without being dire.

Scarab Sages

Recieved the book yesterday. A damn good looking book. I can not wait to use this book!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

TheTwitching King wrote:
So the merrow got pushed back to Bestiary II, does that mean they'll have move difference from surface ogres besides the amphibius special quality?

Probably.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Devil of Roses wrote:
Wow, so kind of a random thought, but why do Apes only have a 15 strength? I was under the impression they were considerably stronger without being dire.

15 Strength IS pretty strong, when you consider that average human strength is 10. An ape's average strength being at 15 means that a really strong ape (built using the 15 point buy method) could easily be above 20 in Strength.

As to why we put the Strength at 15, it's all about balance. We didn't want to change monster CR scores from the 3.5 SRD unless we had no other choice, and for apes (and any monster with the rend ability), a high Strength score EXPLODED the damage they do in a round. The only way to maintain them as a CR 2 creature and not turn them into TPK machines was to lower their Strength.

Scarab Sages

Robert Miller 55 wrote:
I would also like to add I am very pleased with the content of this MM/Bestiary. Plus, with the exception of maybe 6 pieces of art, I think this is a superior looking MM as well.

I would agree. Though I would add that I actually like the MM as a book. It was one of best in the D&D 3.5 line up in my mind.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Devil of Roses wrote:
Wow, so kind of a random thought, but why do Apes only have a 15 strength? I was under the impression they were considerably stronger without being dire.

15 Strength IS pretty strong, when you consider that average human strength is 10. An ape's average strength being at 15 means that a really strong ape (built using the 15 point buy method) could easily be above 20 in Strength.

As to why we put the Strength at 15, it's all about balance. We didn't want to change monster CR scores from the 3.5 SRD unless we had no other choice, and for apes (and any monster with the rend ability), a high Strength score EXPLODED the damage they do in a round. The only way to maintain them as a CR 2 creature and not turn them into TPK machines was to lower their Strength.

I don't think it would be terribly unbalanced if they had a strength of 18 or something, ah well, I suppose if it came down to it I could always make my own adjustments. I think I saw a company who sold PDF's on your sight that tried to make stats for animals as realistic as possible rather than what was listed in the 3.5 srd for the sake of balance and mechanics over realism. Can't remember them but animal statistics was always something I disliked about 3.5, just seemed like the stats were thrown together as an afterthought when there was a depth of research material at their fingertips. But they're just animals right? :P

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Devil of Roses wrote:
I don't think it would be terribly unbalanced if they had a strength of 18 or something, ah well, I suppose if it came down to it I could always make my own adjustments. I think I saw a company who sold PDF's on your sight that tried to make stats for animals as realistic as possible rather than what was listed in the 3.5 srd for the sake of balance and mechanics over realism. Can't remember them but animal statistics was always something I disliked about 3.5, just seemed like the stats were thrown together as an afterthought when there was a depth of research material at their fingertips. But they're just animals right? :P

At CR 2, Strength 18 was actually relatively unbalanced; too good. It also made the difference between the ape and the dire ape even less; since there's only a 1 point difference between the two creatures' CR scores it made assigning their Strengths even trickier.


I just got it, and I must say I am a bit disappointed with the hitpoints of high CR monsters. While both the Balor and Pit Fiend got a nice boost, this does not account for the increased damage output PCs will dish out, not even to speak of the fact that a group of four higher level PCs easily dish out 200+ HP damage per round.

And Dragons HP got really hit with the nerfbat... the ancient Red Dragon loses 150+ HP to his 3.5 version. Is this really intentional? Dragons are already kind of weak when caught not on the wing, I'd think they'd need some buffing rather than nerfing.

I'd really have liked massive HP buffs for the "endgame" monsters, since it is kind of lame that they can be killed in 2-3 rounds. No amount of healing can deal with the damage high level PCs can dish out, in my experience, so a big boost to HP would have been necessary.

Otherwise a fine book, from my first look.

Scarab Sages

Well done, guys! Just love it...

Paizo Employee Creative Director

magnuskn wrote:

I just got it, and I must say I am a bit disappointed with the hitpoints of high CR monsters. While both the Balor and Pit Fiend got a nice boost, this does not account for the increased damage output PCs will dish out, not even to speak of the fact that a group of four higher level PCs easily dish out 200+ HP damage per round.

And Dragons HP got really hit with the nerfbat... the ancient Red Dragon loses 150+ HP to his 3.5 version. Is this really intentional? Dragons are already kind of weak when caught not on the wing, I'd think they'd need some buffing rather than nerfing.

I'd really have liked massive HP buffs for the "endgame" monsters, since it is kind of lame that they can be killed in 2-3 rounds. No amount of healing can deal with the damage high level PCs can dish out, in my experience, so a big boost to HP would have been necessary.

Keep in mind that if you want a massive "endgame" monster, you shouldn't be throwing a monster whose CR = the Average Party Level at the PCs. A CR 20 monster's tough and scary, but it's still a CR 20 creature, which means that it's NOT a good choice for an "endgame" monster against a 20th level party. They WILL tear through that monster in a few rounds. That's not an error, that's the CR system working precisely as it was designed to work.

A CR 20 monster would make a good endgame boss for a 15th or maybe 16th level party. If you're looking for monsters for a 20th level party, the CR 20 monsters should be the things they fight as they're working their way to the boss. The boss itself should be something more like CR 24 or 25. If you want to use a balor boss for a 20th level group, then, you'd want to give him 5 levels of fighter or maybe 10 levels of rogue or maybe just advance his Hit Dice and Size until he's properly scary.

Dark Archive

Also, there's the circumstances in which the party meets the bad guy to consider. In many cases, parties will have drained some of their resources fighting their way to the end game boss, who's possibly fighting in his home turf, meaning henchmen, traps, additional gear and spell boosting, and other obstacles that the heroes must overcome in the end encounter.


Given that the only Balor mini I could get my hands on is the current WOTC mini, I'm thinking the next Balor that shows up is getting the "giant" template anyway . . . ;)


Oh, I get that CR 20 monster are meant to cost an equivalent level party 20% of their resources, and therefore you'd need higher CR monsters to make credible end-game challenges.

However, my argument was meant more in the direction that damage output by high-level parties is generally very high and hitpoints of even 3-4 higher CR monsters can't seem to keep up with that. And my experiences are from 3.5 campaigns, so Pathfinder campaigns should exerbate this problem. I do wonder if this problem only turns up in my campaigns and if playtests didn't bring it up for the Pathfinder RPG.

BTW, is there a particular reasoning why Dragon hitpoints were nerfed? As I said before, if not encountered on the wing, they are not particularly scary, due to the economy of actions ( They can only do one thing at a time... use their breath weapons, full-attack or cast spells ). As they are iconic monsters, it is a bit sad to see them made even less of a threat.

Dark Archive

WOO-HOO! My copy has *FINALLY* arrived at my FLGS, and I'm getting it tomorrow! =)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

magnuskn wrote:

Oh, I get that CR 20 monster are meant to cost an equivalent level party 20% of their resources, and therefore you'd need higher CR monsters to make credible end-game challenges.

However, my argument was meant more in the direction that damage output by high-level parties is generally very high and hitpoints of even 3-4 higher CR monsters can't seem to keep up with that. And my experiences are from 3.5 campaigns, so Pathfinder campaigns should exerbate this problem. I do wonder if this problem only turns up in my campaigns and if playtests didn't bring it up for the Pathfinder RPG.

BTW, is there a particular reasoning why Dragon hitpoints were nerfed? As I said before, if not encountered on the wing, they are not particularly scary, due to the economy of actions ( They can only do one thing at a time... use their breath weapons, full-attack or cast spells ). As they are iconic monsters, it is a bit sad to see them made even less of a threat.

Try out some high level games with the Pathfinder rules—I'd be very curious to see how they went for you. (And if you used any additional rules beyond the core rules...)

As for dragons, they were brought in line with what their CR scours should be. In 3.5, there was a stealth design philosophy that dragons should be "tough" for their CR, which is not really fair. By making dragons tougher than their CR should be, you're basically ruining the use the CR scale has. Much better to say: "When you use dragons, if you want your dragon fights to be tough, simply use a higher CR dragon."

As for hit points in general, they're probably the EASIEST part of the game to adjust. The hit points listed are, of course, averages. If you're finding that the monsters are still dying too quickly, try giving them maximum hit points.


James Jacobs wrote:

Try out some high level games with the Pathfinder rules—I'd be very curious to see how they went for you. (And if you used any additional rules beyond the core rules...)

As for dragons, they were brought in line with what their CR scours should be. In 3.5, there was a stealth design philosophy that dragons should be "tough" for their CR, which is not really fair. By making dragons tougher than their CR should be, you're basically ruining the use the CR scale has. Much better to say: "When you use dragons, if you want your dragon fights to be tough, simply use a higher CR dragon."

As for hit points in general, they're probably the EASIEST part of the game to adjust. The hit points listed are, of course, averages. If you're finding that the monsters are still dying too quickly, try giving them maximum hit points.

Oh, of course we used the "Complete" series books and Player Handbook II, not to mention that some players had pretty high attributes ( Rolling Attributes =/= balanced parties ). So, yeah, that was definitely part of it. But since the classes have been upgraded with the Pathfinder RPG and we got some pretty sweet feats with it, I think I can already say that the power level won't really drop that much. I could be wrong, of course, and probably should ask my players to make one or two trial combats.

As for the dragon thing, it seems reasonable. IIRC, the design philosophy was somewhat along the lines of "for normal monsters the party is assumed to have stumbled on them without preparation, for dragons the party is assumed to have pre-buffed itself before the encounter".

And of course the hit points are the easiest to adjust... since I already know how much damage gets put out by players, I normally give them an "adjusted" number anyway, so they put up a good fight. :D

I just wonder if the damage output / monster hitpoints relationship never came up in playtesting. Of course I don't know at which power level playtesting was done, but most classes should be able to put out 50 - 100 points of damage per round at level 16+.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

magnuskn wrote:
I just wonder if the damage output / monster hitpoints relationship never came up in playtesting. Of course I don't know at which power level playtesting was done, but most classes should be...

Check out Appendix 1 of the Bestiary. It pretty much lays out all of the assumptions and guidelines and rules we followed and used to build the monsters and determine what each CR really means.


James Jacobs wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
I just wonder if the damage output / monster hitpoints relationship never came up in playtesting. Of course I don't know at which power level playtesting was done, but most classes should be...
Check out Appendix 1 of the Bestiary. It pretty much lays out all of the assumptions and guidelines and rules we followed and used to build the monsters and determine what each CR really means.

Which is something I really like. I converted one of my homebrewed monsters and pretty much hit the CR I was aiming for when compared to the chart (had to increase it by +1 CR after tweaking the special abilities).

Sovereign Court

Just wanted to add how user-friendly the Bestiary is, especially the grab-and-go approach to universal monster rules along-side the elemental pages spread! Fabulous! This reminds me a lot of the old 1e days, when the GM would open the FF, or MM or MM2 and grab on-the-spot and run with little prep. The art is so inspirational, and the description quality is great. This brought me even more joy in last night's game. Thanks again!

The Exchange

This is the best bestiary I own. I love how the monster/pc races are easy to use as encounters or characters. I haven't touched my other four 3e monster manuals since I got this book.


James Jacobs wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
I just wonder if the damage output / monster hitpoints relationship never came up in playtesting. Of course I don't know at which power level playtesting was done, but most classes should be...
Check out Appendix 1 of the Bestiary. It pretty much lays out all of the assumptions and guidelines and rules we followed and used to build the monsters and determine what each CR really means.

Thanks, I'll do that. I'll make a playtest with some friends next week, too, to determine how damage output changes from 3.5 with high stats and many splat books to PFRPG core with 15 point characters. I'll report back on my findings. :)


I just got this in the mail yesterday and am overall fairly pleased with it so far. My one compliant is the stunning lack of the beholder. I bought this specifically because my group is about (after three years this month) to finish Age of Worms. I'm slated to run Shackled City, and we want to switch over to Pathfinder for this campaign. Anyone know what fate befell the beloved beholder?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Beholders are intellectual property of Wizards of the Coast, and as such cannot be used by any third party. Your best bet is to get the number cranking and convert said beholder to PFRPG using the guidelines from the Bestiary and Conversion Guide.

For the very same reason, the following are missing:

- kuo toa
- mind flayer
- githzerai
- githyanki
- carrion crawler
- umber hulk
- displacer beast
- slaadi

Also, the names "eladrin" and "guardinal" are also WotC IP. However, the actual monsters are NOT, so you get your Bralani and Avornals, except that they are called Azatas and Agathions in Pathfinder.

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