Book of Beasts: Monsters of the River Nations (PFRPG)

****½ (based on 9 ratings)
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Book of Beasts: Monster of the River Nations describes new fierce and fantastic denizens of the Lands of Low Character. This volume teems with never-before-seen magical beasts, capricious fey, tormented undead and vicious plant creatures. Bring new life and peril to your adventures.

Book of Beasts: Monsters of the River Nations is a 32-page, fully Pathfinder Roleplaying Game-Compatible supplement containing twenty-four brand-new monsters, several pre-statted-out humanoid encounters, new diseases, templates, haunts, drugs and gambling games.

Written by 2013 RPG Superstar™ Steven Helt!

RPG Superstar is a trademark of Paizo Publishing, LLC.

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****½ (based on 9 ratings)

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Something for everybody--if you like monsters, that is

*****

I like monster books. They're what got me into D&D in the first place. And since I'd heard very good things about "Monsters of the River Nations", I thought I'd give it a shot.

The Good: The monsters presented here are all flavorful and creative. Sure, some of them do fall into the "giant versions of ordinary critters", such as the piranhas and the giant flytraps. But the writing is suitably evocative. There's a nice blend of creature types and CRs; they do tend towards under 10, but so do most monster books and most games. My favorite creatures are the addanc (a hybrid beast pulled from Welsh lore), the autumn death (a skeleton surrounded by whirling leaves) and the silver bell (an animate plant with a very unusual metabolism).

The mechanics are well-done for the most part. The creatures seem properly balanced, and there's an interesting array of unique abilities on display here, particularly in flavorful curses and diseases. The icy disease of the frost mite swarm is nice and shuddersome, for example.

The art is very good, some of the best I've seen in a 3rd party product. It's B&W line-art and it reminds me of the better pieces of the Tome of Horrors line.

As others have pointed out, this product is rather wider in scope than other monster books, featuring two NPC encounters, two gambling games, a number of haunts and diseases, and some quick templates. Those quick templates are especially handy--I can see them getting some use in my campaigns.

The Bad: Editing could have been a little tighter. There are a few stat-block errors, generally to do with monsters applying their Strength score badly (notably the bog ooze, which only deals 1/2 its Str bonus to damage instead of the proper 1-and-a-1/2). There's also some typos and the wrong word being used a time or two, possibly due to spellcheck error (I noticed "desiccant" used to mean "one who desecrates", which surprisingly does not have an adjectival form).

The Nitpicky: I'm having a hard time understanding how the giant flytrap is supposed to work. It has slams with incredible reach, and a single bite attack. Real-world flytraps have multiple mouths, and the creature is illustrated as such, with no reaching tendrils or leaves or anything. Are the "slams" supposed to be extended mouth-leaves and the "bite" the ones in the center?

Final Thoughts: Book of Beasts: Monsters of the River Nations is one of the best 3rd party monster books for PFRPG out there. Is it perfect? No. But it's very, very good.


A good monster book.

*****

Book of Beats: Monsters of the River Nations by Jon Brazar Enterprises

This product is 36 pages long. It starts with a cover, credits, and ToC. (4 pages)

Monster Entries. (21 pages)
Some are obvious what they are like the snapping turtle and Piranha, below is a list of what new monsters are in the book.
Addanc – croc/beaver (neat monster but really odd mix)
Autumn Death – new undead, neat idea.
Avowed Reaver – fire elemental type
Bog Scum – new type of ooze, also nice.
Fly Trap, Giant – plant monster
Fly Trap, Dire – see above.
Forest Giant – defender of forest, cool idea, but I had one issue with the fluff.
Frost Mite Swarm – new swarm
Garmunchi – kinda non evil ogres
Hatethrall Demon – new little demon, meh.
Hydrus – weird lizard animal
Lemkin – new fey
Night Caller – small magical bird
Piranha, Mature
Piranha Swarm
River Dragon – legless, wingless, swimming snake dragon.
Riverswell Spirit – cool new undead.
Shrine Stone, Animated - construct
Silver Bell – plant monster
Skate Spider, Giant
Skate Spider, Swarm
Snapping Turtle
Snapping Turtle, Dire
Stumble Fish

Appendix Humanoids (4 pages)
Cursed Brethren - undead that during the day look human. Kinda reminded me of Pirates of the Caribbean movie a little. I am guessing that is what they was inspired by, regardless it is a neat idea and well written. Two stat blocks for them, one of the rank and file and one of their bandit king.
Grammy Beshic – Gnome NPC that lives in the forest, has a new magic ring as well.

Appendix New Drugs and Gambling (1 page)
This has 2 new gambling games, well one game and a fight club. With rules on how to run them and how the odds work. It also has one new drug.

Appendix New Haunts (1 page)
This section has new haunts. 6 new haunts, four of them fit very well with the forest theme, two of them not as much but still good haunts.

Appendix New Templates and Diseases. (1 page)
There is five new templates one can apply to monsters and 8 new diseases all of which fit the theme pretty well.

It ends with one ad, OGL and back cover. (4 pages)

Closing Thoughts. All and all I liked the book, the art is nice black and white art. Most of the monsters I thought fit well in the theme as did most of the rest of the book. The stat blocks are easy to read and understand and the book is laid out well. Other than the cover it is a plain simple black and white book, very print friendly. I do have a few minor critics with the book. The fluff with the giants in one part, in that they sleep in branches of tree's I thought was odd. They are 15ft tall that would be some massive tree's. I think they could have left that part out.

My only other issue was some of the stuff just didn't really fit a forest/river theme. The Hatethrall Demon and Avowed Reaver being the two big ones. The hydrus just seemed weird, it seems like it does what it does just because. Now the rest was well done, I would have liked to have seen a few more fey, natural and planet monsters myself but that is personal preference. So whats my rating? Well it is a good book over all, I have a few minor issues with it. I am giving it a 4.5 star review.

Trust me, I'm a Succubus


An amazing little Bestiary!

*****

This pdf is 36 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 blank page inside of the front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/Monsters by CR, 1 page back cover, 1 blank page inside the back cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisements.
That leaves 28 pages of monsters.

-Addanc (CR7): A cross between a crocodile and a beaver, this could be goofy, but actually works. Death Roll (Ex) is a cool ability.

-Autumn Death (CR 8): A deadly undead creature with autumnal abilities. Has two cool signature abilities.

-Avowed Reaver (CR 5):Touched by elemental powers, this is a set of 4 CR+2 templates in one.

-Bog Scum (CR13): Aquatic, climbing deadly ooze.

-Fly Trap, Giant + Dire (CR 2 and CR 6): Cool plants, but lack a way to enthrall their victims.

-Forest Giant (CR 12): A Giant with some spell-like abilities to escape and polymorph others.

-Frost Mite Swarm (CR 10): Terrible insects of icy cold, these critters are quite creepy.

-Garmunchi (CR 6): Ugly, strong, slug-eating Ogre-like Humanoids.

-Hatethrall Demon (CR 6): Flame-clad skull-demons that shoot fiery rays.

-Hydrus (CR ½): A poisonous aquatic lizard that invades others to eat them from the inside. Great critter!

-Lemkin (CR 9): Creepy blow-gun using fey.

-Nightcaller (CR 1): Deadly Raven-like birds that can mimic voices.

-Piranha, mature and Piranha Swarm (CR 1 + CR 2): Iconic fish. Lacking in lethality, though.

-River Dragon (2 pages, two sample dragons provided, CR 7 + CR16): Aquatic dragon with boiling-abilities – want your adventurers medium?

-Riverswell Spirit (CR 7): Drowned spirit with drowning touch.

-Shrine Stone, Animated (CR 7): Guardian golem of Druids and Fey.

-Silver Bell (CR 3): Supremely creepy and cool plant creature.

-Skate Spider, Giant (CR 5) and Skate Spider Swarm (CR 6): Spiders that can walk on water.

-Snapping Turtle (CR 2) + Snapping Turtle,Dire (CR 8): Cool, but I would have expected an expanded threat range.

-Stumble Fish (CR 1): Jumping fish.

The first Appendix features Humanoid Encounters:

-Cursed Brethren (CR 3)and their Bandit King (CR 6) (2 pages): Cursed bandits that share their pain and thus are deadly when acting in concert. Cool ideas!

-Grammy Beshic (CR 9) (2 pages): A Gnome Sorceress including her new “Rings of Rebellion” magic item.

Appendix 2 features 2 new gambling games and a new drug. (1 page)

Appendix 3 presents 6 new haunts (1 page):

Blinding Bushes (CR 6), Chamber of Screams (CR 3), Ensnaring Weeds (CR3), Ice Forge (CR 2), Pool of Betrayal (CR 9) and River Fog (CR 4). They are all cool and feature at least one interesting component to make them stand apart.

The final page contains the last two appendices, containing 5 new mini-templates and 8 new diseases.

Conclusion:

The b/w-artwork is mostly ok and has a nice old-school kind of flair, the editing and formatting are top-notch and wording as well as prose are concise and well-written. The monsters themselves presented herein are great additions to any campaign – most have a signature ability or two, an interesting hook or are just iconic animals and plants. While I personally didn’t care too much for e.g. the Garmunchi, that’s a personal preference. E.g. the Silver Bell is an idea dripping awesomeness and win and there are several of this caliber herein. The new gambling games, drug, haunts, NPCs etc. are great additions (the haunts e.g. singlehandedly surpass any haunts from a haunt-pdf I recently reviewed)to this great book and I can honestly say that this is a no-filler-book and worth every cent. If all monster-books were like that, I’d buy more. My final verdict is 5 stars.


Good deal at a good price

****( )

"Monsters of the River Nations" is a good book that has a nice spread of new antagonists, skewing slightly toward Animals (6) Magical Beasts (3) Plants (3) and Swarms (3). I'd have preferred a few more Fey, but it does provide a little for everybody.

As other commentators have mentioned, one of the best features of this book are the Humanoid Encounters, especially the Cursed Brethren and their Bandit King. It fits well with Pathfinder Adventure Path #31, and could easily serve as a modular replacement for the Stag Lord and his band for DMs who prefer a darker theme or greater challenge.

Other than the Humanoid Encounters, my favorite bit from this book is the "Frost Mite Swarm." These little beasties make swarms fearsome again, and the disease they carry is both frightening and flavorful. I know I would avoid the deep parts of the woods near the solstice if I had a chance of meeting these.

The art is decent - nothing to write home about, but doesn't detract from the book. The layout is standard for a monster manual. I'm taking away one star because I would have preferred to see a tighter ecological theme in a book covering a small geographical area - having Frost Mites and Piranhas in close proximity limits the viability of using all of the monsters and maintaining a sensible world. Altogether a good buy - well worth five dollars.


Excellent smoragasbord of monstery goodness!

*****

I have already used one of the monsters in this book in my PbP game, and I was very pleased to have my players scratching their heads and saying: Wut? I am itching to try out a few more, but I had a lot of fun with the Autumn Death, and I am looking forward to working more of into my game as I go along! A great suppliment for the price! Highly reccommended


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Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013

The point of the name I submitted for them was to leave clues to the real-world mythic origin of the armouchiquois, but not have it seem out of place in River Kingdoms. I wasn't in the loop about why the name was changed, but as freelancer all you can do is write and cash the check. The hard work of changing names to fill out the alphabet or put a page in just the right layout and all that is for someone else!

A similar thing happened with the addanc. There are a few similar-sounding names for the crocodile/beaver hybrid, which I think originally was a Scottish lake spirit. But someone in a contest for mosnter design I entered submitted an 'athanc' and got published, which led to my changing to one of the other old names for it.


I really like the garmunchis and your approach to their design! Therefore I designed some new magic items with this race in mind: magic snails!

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8

I've just posted a review and I wanted to say, good job, guys! Easily among the best 3rd party PFRPG products I've read.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

Demiurge 1138 wrote:
I've just posted a review and I wanted to say, good job, guys! Easily among the best 3rd party PFRPG products I've read.

I really appreciate you taking the time to review it Demiurge. And thank you for the compliment.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013

Many thanks for everyone's comments. I am working to find out how to get from 'on the list for an Ennie nomination' to 'nominated'!

Jon Brazer Enterprises

Steven T. Helt wrote:
Many thanks for everyone's comments. I am working to find out how to get from 'on the list for an Ennie nomination' to 'nominated'!

The judges will handle that. Its in their hands at this point. JBE got the book in to the Ennies crew on time, and until July 8 there's nothing else that can be done.

President, Jon Brazer Enterprises

For Black Friday, this PDF will be on sale for $1.25. Be sure to grab this Award-Winning, Highly-Acclaimed monster book this weekend for this low, LOW price.

President, Jon Brazer Enterprises

JBE would like to congratulate Steven Helt for making it into the Pathfinder RPG Suprestar Top 32. Congratulations good sir. Best of luck to you.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Wow! Thanks for the opportunity. I hope I'll earn a chance to work on a future JBE project!

President, Jon Brazer Enterprises

All week long, the Book of Beasts: Monsters of the River Nations will be on sale for $3 because it was written by Steven Helt, the new Superstar of RPGs. Grab it today.

President, Jon Brazer Enterprises

Just a quick reminder, the Superstar of a Sale is still going on, but is ending soon. Download it today before this sale ends.

President, Jon Brazer Enterprises

Be sure to pick up Book of Beasts: Monsters of the River Nations while it is still $1. The I'm Not Going to PaizoCon Sale ends soon.

President, Jon Brazer Enterprises

Grab this exceptional bestiary while it is at 30% off!

Jon Brazer Enterprises

Dale McCoy Jr wrote:
Steven T. Helt wrote:
DMcCoy1693 wrote:
They are ideal creatures to throw at your players explore dangerous wilderness, start their own nation on an unclaimed stretch of land or any other type of adventures in such an environment.
..and some of them are unsportsmanlike. : }
I imagine a monster that crawls in your mouth and makes its own exit out your belly button would be considered very unsportsmanlike. ;)

Wow. It was 7 years ago today I said this....

Man I feel old.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

This excellent assortment of monsters is a great way to start the year off.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

Only hours left to grab the Book of Beasts: Monsters of the River Nations for only $1.25. Download now while there is still time.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

Thinking about the new Kingmaker? Grab the monster book designed for that adventure path.

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