Pathfinder Chronicles: Classic Horrors Revisited (PFRPG)

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Pathfinder Chronicles: Classic Horrors Revisited (PFRPG)
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Things from Beyond the Grave

Born of myth, legend, and even modern film and literature, monsters such as the mummy, vampire, werewolf, and zombie are the stuff of nightmares—and frequent foes of heroic adventurers! Along with flesh golems, gargoyles, ghosts, ghouls, hags, and the mysterious derro, these ten monsters are staples of horror fiction and the bane of countless would-be heroes.

This 64-page book explores the origin of these creatures (in both the game world and real-world history), as well as their creation, habitat, society, motivations, and role in a campaign. Each creature also includes information on new and deadly creature variants, such as nosferatu vampires, corpse chill mummies, gemstone gargoyles, host corpse zombies, and phantasmagoric ghosts. What’s more, each chapter provides several new and notable examples of each creature, as well as a fully statted and ready-to-run sample monster, whether it’s a flesh golem barbarian, a derro magister, a ghoul necromancer, a hag water-witch, or a lycanthrope-hunting werewolf.

Whether your campaign is a standard fantasy monster hunt, a gothic romance, or an exercise in terror, Classic Horrors Revisited provides both historical insight and fresh new spins on these traditional icons of fear!

by James Jacobs, Rob McCreary, and F. Wesley Schneider

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-202-9

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Fantastic Writing

5/5

The idea behind Classic Horrors Revisited is to take ten classic "horror" monsters from D&D's past and expand and update them for Pathfinder. This is the sort of book that could be a bit "blah" in lesser hands, but Paizo put their A-list writing talent on the project: James Jacobs, Rob McCreary, and Wes Scheider. The result is a really good book that adds depth and detail to these monsters while sticking fairly closely to the common understanding of how they operate. In other words, this book isn't a crazy-cool re-imagining of the monsters, but a well-written, cohesive elaboration.

Classic Horrors Revisited is a 64-page, full colour book. I would label the interior artwork as "okay". Better than most other companies', but not as good as Paizo has done in other books. The interior front cover lists books and films that can serve as inspiration for using each of the monsters, while the interior back cover is a reprint of the front cover art (which is a bit too-obviously Dracula to interest me).

The ten monsters covered are: Derro, Flesh Golems, Gargoyles, Ghosts, Ghouls, Hags, Mummies, Vampires, "Walking Dead" (zombies and skeletons), and Werewolves. Each monster receives six pages of coverage, and each entry is broken down into a "flavour" page (a half-page illustration and a half-page in-universe bit of prose), a couple of pages of overview and ecology/society, a few paragraphs on their role in a campaign (which I really liked), a paragraph on two or three known monsters of that kind in Golarion, and then a named NPC example with full stat block and picture. Most monster entries also contain at least a little rules-option "crunch," such as variants, new feats, etc. Here's a little more info about each of the entries:

1. Derro: I really love the Pathfinder approach to Derro--they are creepy, malevolent, and almost alien abductors of people on the surface so that they can perform strange experiments and then return them with no or fragmented memory of what happened. This book introduces four new Derro weapons (Aklys, Crystal Chakram, Fauchard, and Injection Spear) and a new poison (Cytillesh Extract). The sample is Evehxa, a derro magister (enclave leader) and 6th-level sorcerer.

2. Flesh Golem: This will sound stupid, but I never really made the connection between flesh golems and Frankenstein's monster before reading this book! The section has a good discussion of different types of flesh golems, and the writing and world lore is superb. Rules are provided for awakened (sentient) flesh golems, as well as for electrified and unholy variants. The sample is the Beast of Lepidstadt, an awakened flesh golem that haunts Ustalav (written up with 6 levels of barbarian).

3. Gargoyle: I've never found anything particularly interesting about gargoyles in the past, but this book has changed my mind. It's made them scary! Their love of sadism and perverse games gives them an interesting role as capable of inflicting both physical and mental pain. Six variant gargoyles are discussed (arctic, forest, gemstone, obsidian, sandstone, and waterspout), making them useful in far more than just urban environments. The sample is "Ajekrith, the Nightwing Snatcher", a gargoyle with 4 levels of rogue who preys on lone wanderers in Magnimar's Underbridge District.

4. Ghost: There's an insightful discussion here about the differences between ghosts and other undead: not only are they usually bound to a fixed location, but they exist for a particular purpose. I've panned the artwork in this book, but the picture on page 22 of a ghost carrying its own head is fantastic. This entry provides new abilities for ghosts depending on why they're materializing; it's a great way to better tie a ghost's powers to its story, and I highly recommend using it. The sample ghost is Maven Mosslight, a ghost with 9 levels of sorcerer who seeks her lost love in the Boarwood in Galt.

5. Ghouls: I've been running an adventure path that happens to features ghouls quite prominently in one chapter, so I've had a lot of time to think about them. This entry offers some surprisingly deep insights into them. And, I managed to incorporate the symptoms of ghoul fever into the game when a PC got infected. So . . . bonus! This entry includes rules for making ghouls of larger and smaller races, as well as specific mention of what happens if other creatures (like lycanthropes or fire giants) get transformed. Three new feats are added for ghouls, but they have *really* high prerequisites and only exceptional ghouls would be able to qualify. Still, I like them in the abstract: one gives a ghoul bonuses for eating brains, one allows ghouls to pass as humans (and ghasts to suppress their stench), and one gives a ghoul a burrow speed. The sample ghoul is Ehrimun, a 14th level necromancer exiled from the ghoul city of Nemret Noktoria.

6. Hags: I've never really used these in a game, but the entry does provide a useful discussion of the relationship between the three most common types of hags (Annis, green, and sea hags) as well as night hags. There's some discussion of the powers that hag covens (as opposed to individual hags) could possess. The sample is Ulla Jarnrygg, a formidable hag with 9 levels of sorcerer and ice giant ancestry.

7. Mummies: There's an excellent discussion here of the role of mummies in a campaign: as (un)living transmitters and reminders of the game world's history. Mummies are often focussed on recreating the society and time period from when they died, and this allows GMs to incorporate otherwise dry historical information as an important part of a story arc. The entry gives four different ways to re-flavour mummy rot, and the sample mummy is very cool: Shielseis, Queen of Asps in Osirion. The artwork for her is great.

8. Vampires: I'm one of those annoying people who think vampires have been overused in pop culture, and frankly there wasn't anything in this entry that I found new or exciting. The entry offers five new variant vampire abilities, including everything from changing into a swarm to being able to survive longer in daylight. The sample vampire is Audbrey Aldamori, a pretend "aristocratic fop" who travels the Inner Sea feasting on those of noble blood.

9. Walking Dead: We're talking zombies and skeletons here, and Pathfinder sticks with the traditional concept of them being mindless, low-level threats. The artwork in this entry is pretty bad. There's 13 variants, however, which really spice things up. Throw some "Exploding Skeletons" or "Gasburst Zombies" at your players and watch them recoil in surprise! The sample is a "Gillamoor Plague Zombie", which (unlike all the other samples in the book) is not a named NPC.

10. Werewolves: This entry has a good, clear summary of what it means to be a werewolf in Pathfinder (different forms, means of transmission, etc.). I was intrigued by a passing mention of good werewolves inspired by the dead god Curchanus. The sample NPC is Ruxandra Katranjiev, a werewolf with levels in ranger who is also a cleric of the goddess Jezelda and wants to purge the Varisian town of Wolf's Ear of all non-werewolf lycanthropes.

Classic Horrors Revisited is an older book (2009), and some of the monsters here have also been revisited in more recent Pathfinder products (such as ghouls and vampires in the Monster Codex and derro in the Inner Sea Monster Codex). That being said, there's great value for the money here if a GM is hoping to gain better understanding of these monsters and to add more depth to running them in a storyline. Bestiaries can give a basic stat block, but usually don't have room for much description, making books like this one quite useful. As I said at the beginning, the writing is top-notch even if the artwork is of varying quality. I'd definitely recommend this one for a GM who is interested in any of the monsters covered.


Things that go bump in the night

5/5

These books are brilliant. They give you the flavour that you wish they could fit into the one page creature descriptions which you just know they cannot.

Buy these books, as I have never struck a bad one yet :)


Bring the Horror! Classic Horrors Revisited!

4/5

This is a great suppliment made to spark the fevered imagination of the most Jaded DM back to sadistic life! Check out my full review: Classic Horrors Revisited


Paizo brings the Horrors home

5/5

I love horror, and I love pulp fantasy, so it's no surprise that I love this. It's a great collection of classic monsters, from immortals like vampires and werewolves through their lesser-known cousins like the ghoul and the hag, to newcomers like the derro and the flesh golem.

The monsters are brought to (un)life in classic style, and the NPC critters are very well done and nicely illustrated as well. There are new feats and tips to individualize any monsters of your own creation as well. This book is worth every penny I paid for it.


Even More Horrifying

5/5

A solid product packed with suggestions on how to add a new twist on a number of gothic monsters. Tons of hooks and ideas to help spark a GM's imagination.

Absolutely worth picking up if you're planning on running a horror themed adventure, and are looking for something a little different to terrify your players with.


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Asgetrion wrote:
... the more I hear about ... variant campire abilities, the more excited I grow as I'm waiting for my copy to arrive!

I know it was a typo ... but ....

CAMPIRE!!!

I'd say definitely every single vampire from Underworld, for example, was actually a "campire". :-)


Doug OBrien wrote:
Now, maybe I missed it in my initial flip-through, but I would have liked a bit more ecology and a note on where these creatures fit into Golarion. Again, I may find more to adders this upon a closer look.

Are we still talking about the derro specifically, or are you talking in general about the rest of the creatures in the book? If you're talking about derro, they live in warrens under several of Golarion's cities. Specifically...

Spoiler:
they are know to have dwellings beneath Korvosa in Varisia(see PF#7 Edge of Anarchy) and Corentyn in Taldor (see Cities of Golarion). I think there is also a reference to a derro enclave beneath one of the major Chelaxian cities, possibly Egorian, but I am not sure off hand about the details or where I saw them.
Paizo Employee Creative Director

Seldriss wrote:

In the Gargoyles chapter, four armed gargoyles are mentioned, but they are not in the variants section.

Are these stated somewhere, in another supplement ?

Four-armed gargoyles are statted up in the Tome of Horrors. But if you want to just give a normal gargoyle two extra claw attacks... that works as well.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

"Into the Darklands" has a bit more information about derros, specifically more information about where they live in Golarion. We didn't reprint that in "Classic Horrors" because we wanted to include more about derro society and all that; there just wasn't room, and since that info already existed in print it was an easy choice. (Also, we try to focus less on Golarion and more on the monsters in this line of books anyway.)


James Jacobs wrote:
"Into the Darklands" has a bit more information about derros, specifically more information about where they live in Golarion. We didn't reprint that in "Classic Horrors" because we wanted to include more about derro society and all that; there just wasn't room, and since that info already existed in print it was an easy choice. (Also, we try to focus less on Golarion and more on the monsters in this line of books anyway.)

I completely understand the constraints from both a thematic and page-count perspective.

Thank you, and also Davelozzi, for a point in the right direction for the desired info! =)

Dark Archive

James Jacobs wrote:
Seldriss wrote:

In the Gargoyles chapter, four armed gargoyles are mentioned, but they are not in the variants section.

Are these stated somewhere, in another supplement ?
Four-armed gargoyles are statted up in the Tome of Horrors. But if you want to just give a normal gargoyle two extra claw attacks... that works as well.

This reminds me... I wonder if Bestiary 2 will have rules/template for building four-armed creatures?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Asgetrion wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Seldriss wrote:

In the Gargoyles chapter, four armed gargoyles are mentioned, but they are not in the variants section.

Are these stated somewhere, in another supplement ?
Four-armed gargoyles are statted up in the Tome of Horrors. But if you want to just give a normal gargoyle two extra claw attacks... that works as well.
This reminds me... I wonder if Bestiary 2 will have rules/template for building four-armed creatures?

Probably not.

Dark Archive

James Jacobs wrote:
Asgetrion wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Seldriss wrote:

In the Gargoyles chapter, four armed gargoyles are mentioned, but they are not in the variants section.

Are these stated somewhere, in another supplement ?
Four-armed gargoyles are statted up in the Tome of Horrors. But if you want to just give a normal gargoyle two extra claw attacks... that works as well.
This reminds me... I wonder if Bestiary 2 will have rules/template for building four-armed creatures?
Probably not.

Awwww.... James, don't you know we want to have our four-armed fiendish gnomes in PF RPG? ;P

Dark Archive

gbonehead wrote:
Asgetrion wrote:
... the more I hear about ... variant campire abilities, the more excited I grow as I'm waiting for my copy to arrive!

I know it was a typo ... but ....

CAMPIRE!!!

I'd say definitely every single vampire from Underworld, for example, was actually a "campire". :-)

C'mon, don't tell me you haven't heard of Chelish Campires? They are partially fiery creatures (relatives to Realmsian Vampyres) who materialize in campfires, leaping out to surprise hapless travelers! ;P

Dark Archive

Aberzombie wrote:
I really enjoyed this book. Kudos to the writers.

Isn't this like a porn mag for you? ;P

Liberty's Edge

mine.....all....mine......


hehe anyone notice that we can now put the Doctor on Golarion...the weeping angels feature as a variant gargoyle


A very good read and some interesting mythological variants of popular monsters. The only thing that seemed off was the challenge rating for the Gillamoor Plague Zombie which seemed kind of low in comparison to other challenge rating one monsters.

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder

ntin wrote:
A very good read and some interesting mythological variants of popular monsters. The only thing that seemed off was the challenge rating for the Gillamoor Plague Zombie which seemed kind of low in comparison to other challenge rating one monsters.

By the rules, the Gillamoor plague zombie would be CR 1 (CR 1/2 for normal plague zombie, +1 CR for relentless, +0 CR for brain-eating), keeping in mind that it loses the standard zombie DR/slashing.

Its stats do fit more for a CR 2 creature however, especially with all of its extra added abilities.

That said, I think one of these wouldn't be too hard for a group of 1st-level adventurers to take on, if you wanted to leave them at CR 1.

Sovereign Court

As I'll soon be playing a Whispering Way alchemist, and really loved Clasic Horrors Revisited, I came up with the following discovery:

Ungents of Animation: You can spend 25 gp per Hit Die on a concoction to create undead as per the spell animate dead, save that you can only create alchemical zombies (Clasic Horrors Revisited 54). An alchemist must be at least 8th level before selecting this discovery.

Think this works?


I just saw on the blog that this book is nominated for an ENnie but it's up against the Pathfinder Bestiary.

I'm pretty sure the Bestiary will beat it out since it's a core book and everyone loves it but Classic Horrors Revisited is my favorite book in the Chronicles line and I hope it wins anyway!

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Remember to vote for Pathfinder Chronicles: Classic Horrors Revisited for Best Monster/Adversary!

And don't forget to vote for Mark Green for 2011 ENnies Judge!

-Mark
My judge profile

Contributor

Lamashan Dalastonor wrote:

As I'll soon be playing a Whispering Way alchemist, and really loved Clasic Horrors Revisited, I came up with the following discovery:

Ungents of Animation: You can spend 25 gp per Hit Die on a concoction to create undead as per the spell animate dead, save that you can only create alchemical zombies (Clasic Horrors Revisited 54). An alchemist must be at least 8th level before selecting this discovery.

Think this works?

Yeah, that's cool. Just put a level 7 requirement on the discovery and you're golden.


Vigil wrote:

So is Rob a big Dr. Who fan?

I only ask because the "Blind Angels" in the gargoyle chapter is very reminiscent of "Blink" from season three of the new show.

Not that that is a bad thing. In fact, it's good. It's very good.

I'm glad I'm not the only Doctor Who fan to have noticed this! =:-o

Cheers, JohnH / Wanda


After having read this superb book, I have a question pertaining to the Harlot Queen...

In Classic Horrors Revisited, she is described as a mummy, right?

But I thought that in the Campaign Setting hardcover, she is described as a lich?

Which (if either) is correct?? :-/

Cheers, JohnH / Wanda

Contributor

It is unclear which is correct. She's been depicted as a mummy, but there's no reason why she couldn't have been mummified, and then had her soul put into a phylactery, which would make her a lich.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
It is unclear which is correct. She's been depicted as a mummy, but there's no reason why she couldn't have been mummified, and then had her soul put into a phylactery, which would make her a lich.

And why not both?

Contributor

Agreed. :)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

A more exact answer, though, is that Arazni the Harlot Queen is a lich. Has been since Pathfinder #2, so that's got squatter's rights. (That, and she's a lich, and depicted as such, in the upcoming World Guide: The Inner Sea.)


James Jacobs wrote:
A more exact answer, though, is that Arazni the Harlot Queen is a lich. Has been since Pathfinder #2, so that's got squatter's rights. (That, and she's a lich, and depicted as such, in the upcoming World Guide: The Inner Sea.)

And here I thought the official word would be, "Nobody's survived to report back with any greater degree of accuracy. . ." ;-D

Thanks and Cheers, JohnH / Wanda


James Jacobs wrote:
A more exact answer, though, is that Arazni the Harlot Queen is a lich. Has been since Pathfinder #2, so that's got squatter's rights. (That, and she's a lich, and depicted as such, in the upcoming World Guide: The Inner Sea.)

And, if you don't believe dear, sweet James, just stop by Mechitar for dinner one night and see for yourself!

Scarab Sages

Just wanted in jump in here to talk about James' Derro entry. This is absolutely phenomenal, and completely redefined how I thought about a relatively minor classic monster.

Bravo, sir!

I will seriously begin considering how to incorporate these little beasts into my own campaign, and hope that we'll see more of them in the future. This one hits all the right buttons for me, and I think it's one of the strongest designs I've encountered from Paizo, which is saying something.

While we're on the subject, I was completely unaware of the Shaver Mystery, and would love to pick up a book on the subject. However, most of what's listed on Amazon looks like it has a high probability of being second-rate. Does anyone have suggestions on research material?

Finally, my only disappointment was in the "Hags" section. While I loved what was written, I was disappointed by how little was said on the subject of Night Hags. Can we hope to see more about them in the future?

Oh, and in a final note, I wanted to say that I appreciated the subtle reference to H.P. Lovecraft's "The Mound" on p. 5, one of his most under-appreciated masterpieces. "Blue-litten catacombs", indeed.


weirmonken wrote:

Just wanted in jump in here to talk about James' Derro entry. This is absolutely phenomenal, and completely redefined how I thought about a relatively minor classic monster.

Bravo, sir!

While we're on the subject, I was completely unaware of the Shaver Mystery, and would love to pick up a book on the subject. However, most of what's listed on Amazon looks like it has a high probability of being second-rate. Does anyone have suggestions on research material?

The only two books that deal with it that I can recommend would be Walter Kafton-Minkel's Subterranean Worlds, a sympathetic yet very skeptical overview, and Lost Continents and the Hollow Earth by Adventures Unlimited Press, which is written by true believers. I'd go for SW myself, as it also goes into detail about other hollow earth/underworld legends and myths besides the derro, like the serpent people, prehistoric monsters, and (of course) UFOs.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

weirmonken wrote:

Just wanted in jump in here to talk about James' Derro entry. This is absolutely phenomenal, and completely redefined how I thought about a relatively minor classic monster.

Bravo, sir!

I will seriously begin considering how to incorporate these little beasts into my own campaign, and hope that we'll see more of them in the future. This one hits all the right buttons for me, and I think it's one of the strongest designs I've encountered from Paizo, which is saying something.

While we're on the subject, I was completely unaware of the Shaver Mystery, and would love to pick up a book on the subject. However, most of what's listed on Amazon looks like it has a high probability of being second-rate. Does anyone have suggestions on research material?

Finally, my only disappointment was in the "Hags" section. While I loved what was written, I was disappointed by how little was said on the subject of Night Hags. Can we hope to see more about them in the future?

Oh, and in a final note, I wanted to say that I appreciated the subtle reference to H.P. Lovecraft's "The Mound" on p. 5, one of his most under-appreciated masterpieces. "Blue-litten catacombs", indeed.

You should check out "Into the Darklands," then, since "The Mound" was one of the BIGGEST influences on that book as I was writing it—that's why Golarion has a tripartite darklands, after all, because of how the underworld was set up in "The Mound." It's also the first book where we talk about derro, and it has some more (not much, but a little) info about them and their cities.

Scarab Sages

James Jacobs wrote:
You should check out "Into the Darklands," then, since "The Mound" was one of the BIGGEST influences on that book as I was writing it—that's why Golarion has a tripartite darklands, after all, because of how the underworld was set up in "The Mound." It's also the first book where we talk about derro, and it has some more (not much, but a little) info about them and their cities.

Thanks for the suggestion. I actually picked up "Into the Darklands" at the same time as Classic Horrors Revised, but haven't had a chance to sit down with it yet. I'll certainly make time, though!


I know it was mentioned further up, but I've been reading some of the Pathfinder settings books that I've only glanced at previously. I was very pleased to see the Weeping Angels as a gargoyle variant.


So, can someone give me a bit of info on what werewolves get in this book? I really liked White Wolf's Ravenloft books how they let you change up your werewolves and such, so I was wondering if this book does similar, or what?

I plan on buying it either way, but if someone can sell me on the werewolf info, it will move up on my priority list heh.


Rob McCreary wrote:
ntin wrote:
A very good read and some interesting mythological variants of popular monsters. The only thing that seemed off was the challenge rating for the Gillamoor Plague Zombie which seemed kind of low in comparison to other challenge rating one monsters.

By the rules, the Gillamoor plague zombie would be CR 1 (CR 1/2 for normal plague zombie, +1 CR for relentless, +0 CR for brain-eating), keeping in mind that it loses the standard zombie DR/slashing.

Its stats do fit more for a CR 2 creature however, especially with all of its extra added abilities.

That said, I think one of these wouldn't be too hard for a group of 1st-level adventurers to take on, if you wanted to leave them at CR 1.

The Apocalypse Zombie that appears in Carrion Crown's bestiary section (sorry, can't remember which volume) is identical to the Gillamoor Plague Zombie except it lost its Grab ability. I think the lose of Grab is an accidental omission since Grab is granted by one of its listed zombie upgrades. It's listed at CR 2.


Concerning the Queen of Asps, the sample mummy in Classic Horrors Revisited, how are her stats generated? When comparing her to the standard mummy from the Bestiary, she's way better. Her STR score is the same, but everything else is higher. At first I thought maybe she had the Advanced Simple Template, but that would take up her STR too.


John Mangrum wrote:
Wolf Munroe wrote:
I suspect the nosferatu of Denizens of Darkness(D&D3.0) and Denizens of Dread(D&D3.5) go the way they do to put them apart from the Nosferatu clan of Vampire: The Masquerade, which were more like Count Orlok and Barlow in appearance.

Actually, the real answer was pretty mundane; those nosferatu were a "grandfathered" element from second edition.

2E Ravenloft included a number of variant monsters which, although nicely atmospheric, were essentially identical to the "standard" monsters they replaced. (In 2E, the mechanical difference between a fire elemental and a pyre elemental, or a treant and an evil treant: none.)

The 2E nosferatu was one of these variants. Once the fluff is pushed aside, the 2E Ravenloft nosferatu is nothing more than a Monster Manual vampire without the energy drain ability. These nosferatu were tied into the RL setting (including at least one darklord), and thus I felt they should be preserved somehow, but for 3E purposes this was a distinction so minor it barely warranted a sidebar mention, much less a full monster entry.

To make bringing nosferatu into 3E worthwhile, they needed to become much more distinctive, and thus came the decision to model 3E nosferatu on the classic "Byronic" vampire that predominated before (and in way culminated in) Dracula.

Actual Nosferatu-inspired nosferatu didn't exist in 2E Ravenloft, but I've always liked the monstrous nature of actual vampire folklore, so the vrykolaka variant was created to stand alongside the "beautiful" nosferatu.

Thanks for this reply. Not sure how I missed this before. Interesting read, caused me to pull out my copy of Denizens of Dread and reread some of it.

And in keeping this on topic for a product discussion...

Classic Horrors Revisited is still one of my favorite Pathfinder Chronicles/Pathfinder Campaign Setting books, right along with Rule of Fear.

After rereading parts of this thread, I need to make sure my own Apocalypse Zombies have the Grab ability I pointed out the ones in the Carrion Crown volume were missing up-thread.

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