Book of Beasts: Monster Variations (PFRPG) PDF

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Get more life out of your favorite monsters with Book of Beasts: Monster Variations. This collection of 21 traditional monsters are varied in ways to keep them feeling fresh and unique. Plus there are designer's notes that take you through the various steps of modifying these monsters and the reasons behind it. This will help you in creating unique takes on old monsters for your game. 16 pages.

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Cheap reskinned monsters with guidelines and now without glitches

4/5

This pdf is 16 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving 13 pages of content, so let's check it out!

The pdf kicks off with a page of introduction that gives us the basic premises of this particular book - born of monster-tweets, this pdf contains variants of monsters that include special modifications of the creatures and thus make them more unique. Reskinning monsters is a great practice to make the encounters more unique and keep the fear of the new in the game - take this basic principle, square it and there we are. But are these beasts truly novel or beings that you could easily reskin yourself? Let's take a look!

The first creature is the Attercope (CR 12) - a colossal spider that can attack not only via bites and slam foes with their legs. The second creature, the Bearowl (CR 6) is a avian creature with bear claws and bite-attacks and makes for a nice twist of the being, as does the roaring CR 5 Lionbear. The Bigfoot, a frightening CR 4-creature and a colossal CR 15 centipede - which comes with 22 HD and a hide of hairs that covers it from ranged attacks! There's also the Dragonsnake (CR 4) and the CR 8 Rage Giant. The former comes with a bite attack and the latter can cast rage on himself. The Rage Giant also makes for the first creature I didn't enjoy - adding rage powers would have been more interesting, but perhaps that's me. There are also two variants of the will-o'-wisps, the CR 6 goblin-o'-wisp and the CR 8 troll-o'-wisp.

The deadly CR 11 Hell Blob is a neat ooze with a corrupting aura and unholy acid - the infernal dragon snapper (CR11) on the other hand, is a rather boring variant of the dragon turtle and comes with a typo. The two mummy-variants, the CR 5 halfling mummy and the CR 7 giant mummy on the other hand, are rather boring and didn't excite me at all. The CR 8 Naiad is a variety of the nymph and while not too exciting, is ok. The reign of high-HD vermin includes the colossal Nightmare scorpion (CR 17) and the CR 18 Thundercrab. While the former is rather bland, the latter comes with a cool electricity-based bolt-attack. The CR 3 thunder lizard takes the monitor wizard and makes it elemental-themed, while the Roper Kind is a kind of super roper. The pdf concludes with two sample yellow musk zombies.

Conclusion:
Editing and formattingin the revised edition have been improved and are very good now. Layout adheres to a two-column standard and usually provides 2 monsters per page. The pdf is extensively bookmarked. Oh, how torn am I on this particular pdf. The design-advice is extremely useful and some of the monsters are on par with the best and coolest of the Book of Beasts-line. On the other line, some of the beasts herein lack cool signature abilities and feel like bland reskins that don't feature enough unique properties to feel truly different. The giant vermin rocks, but honestly, especially when taking a look at the thunder crab and comparing it with the Nightmare Scorpion, I can't help but feel that the latter falls short of its potential. I loved about half of the creatures and felt rather underwhelmed by the latter. I'd usually would have settled for a final verdict of 3.5 stars, perhaps even rounded up to 4 due to the low price and now that the editing glitches have been taken care of, I'll gladly round up to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.


4/5

Weighing in at 16 pages (with Cover, PID/OGl, and an Ad taking up 3 of those pages) this collection of creatures is not the typical critter collection, in that there's nothing technically new here. And that, in the end is why a product of this nature is a good product. In attempting to introduce variations and alternative approaches to monsters both GM's and players alike know inside and out, this PDF attempts to give you a useful solution to the ago old problem of what to do when they all become to predictable.

Opening with a one page explanation of the purpose of this book, as well as the mindset behind it, including a few basic examples of what one can do very easily to change a standard monster into something your playgroup may not be expecting, the concept of variety becomes very apparent immediately. Amusingly, my favorite example of a variant creature comes from this intro, with no statblock write up, as it is only an example, a suggestion of what a GM can do at their table. Simply changing the name of goblins to razortooth, and turning them orange gives you a creature that your playgroup will approach more cautiously, as they wont know what to expect from this, when they would normally run right over troves of goblins as cannon fodder.

We are given 21 variant creature builds, all based on well known monsters, and all familiar enough at their core, but definitely something new as they are presented here. Of these there are a few great ideas, and a few not so great, I'll touch on a handful of each.

Goblin-O'-Wisp Your standard Will-O'-Wisp with its electricity damage swapped out, and the visual representation changed to be that of a floating goblin skull wreathed in red and orange light. OK, sounds really basic doesn't? But that's the beauty of this, small changes that allow the creature to remain the same basic creature, but at the same time something entirely new. Trust me on this one, the illustration will sell you on this creature.

Mummy, Halfling OK, first off, (LOL)....OK...I'm better now...I promise...No, no, I'm good. When I first saw this header all I could do was laugh, I mean, seriously, a halfling mummy??? But then I thought about this, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much the idea appealed to me. Players are notorious for taking small creatures for granted, especially when we're talking about something like a halfling. So, what we have here is a creature that's going to force your group to rethink how they view the harmless, even if it kills them.

Bearowl OK, ignoring the obvious attempt to invoke the Owlbear with the name, this creature is a reverse melding, with the head of a bear on an owl's body. The designer notes point towards the griffon, but I gotta say it feels more like a peryton to me, and those things just never found a place in my game as I thought they were amongst some of the worst designed creatures ever added to the game.

Bigfoot Am on the fence when it comes to this critter, as in the end all he really is is a temperate yeti, but, this creature build is exactly what this book is about. It is a variant of a creature presented within Pathfinder's rules that was previously not there, and is not outside of the realm of a logical variant.

Centipede, Hulking House Taking the concept of big bugs to a new level, this ones cool enough, but I'm baffled by one of its abilities, as the description makes no sense to me. The distraction SA for this creature is based upon the hair on its legs causing nausea....I don't understand. Perhaps I am not enough of a bug guy to understand why seeing a giant hairy bug walk by would cause nausea.

Presented in a two column format, this PDF began its life online with a few hiccups, but I am glad to see that with the latest update editorially this PDF is a major improvement over previous versions. Jon Brazer Enterprises responded quickly to review concerns regarding editorial issues with this PDF, and I, for one, was happy to see that, as it shows that they, as a company, are listening.

Artwork wise we get three pieces, all black & white. There of course is the cover art and the ad, but neither really qualify as interior art. Of the three pieces of art, one is essentially a line drawing, another was fair, and the art for the Goblin-O'-Wisp I am seriously thinking of having inked into my back between my shoulder blades. Yeah, its that freaking cool.

Looking over the 21 variations for monster ideas here, there are four right off the bat that I know I'll be using within the next week at my table, with a few others I'm keeping on the back burner for later purposes. Where as there are a few that, for me, will probably never see usage, that is true of almost any collection of creatures, so I'm not going to hold that against this PDF to much, as that comes down to personal taste and preference. All in all, the PDF set out to give some simple variations on easily recognizable monsters, and gives an insight into the design process along the way with designer's notes sidebars. More artwork would of have gone a long way towards helping this product, as all creature books in the end rely heavily upon the visual to sell the creature.

Edit- With a now fully updated copy in hand, I am finalizing my review at 4 stars.



Reviewed here and at RPGNow.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

Yea, this is not the final version. I uploaded the final version to drivethrurpg this morning just before leaving town for the weekend, since paizo had not posted it earlier, I thought I still had until I got back to get the final version up here. It'be uploaded once I'm back. Until then, I ask any reviewers to hold off until the correct version can be uploaded, unless you downloaded it from drivethrurpg. *sigh*

Jon Brazer Enterprises

I just reread the review. Did I really reupload the wrong file in my rush to leave this morning? *sigh* quite possible.

The one question posed about the hair legs causing nausea. I don't have my books with me but iirc the distraction ability in the bestiary says it causes the nauseated condition.

Edit. Just double checked that in the prd. Distraction causes nausea. The ability for that monster does not require damaging its Target, hence why it was detailed.


Yeah, I grabbed both copies from RPGNow Dale, so there's a good chance that the updated copy they are sending out the emails for are in fact the same as the original. (Look at it this way, once it's all cleared up, it'll make a funny story)

Appreciate you checking the PRD on the distraction nausea question, am feeling like I probably should of done that myself, so I really appreciate the fact that you did, and I guess now I know why the effect is there.

Will be watching my email for the notice on the file be updated.


Reviewed here, on DTRPG and sent to GMS magazine! Cheers!


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

Dale,

Did you check the version here at Paizo? Is it the correct one?

-- david
Papa.DRB


I just re-dled it via OBS and while some glitches are not there, I still noticed a bunch of em.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

Papa-DRB wrote:

Dale,

Did you check the version here at Paizo? Is it the correct one?

-- david
Papa.DRB

I updated it last night/this morning (depending on when it hit midnight where you are). Errors mentioned have been addressed.

Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Updated PDF now available.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Updated my review here and on DTRPG to reflect the changes made to the pdf and the decrease in glitches. Great product support! I wish all 3pps would care as much about their products as e.g. you, RiP, RSP etc. do!


@Endzeitgeist: Your review does not appear to have been changed. It's still showing as a 3 star review and has comments about the poor editing.


@Caedwyr: Thanks for the info, but it shows the changed version of the review in my browser. Oo Have you refreshed the page? Perhaps a cookie-glitch?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Review updated, was happy to see the updated version make it online, as this PDF deserved to stand on its material, not any editing issues.


@Endzeitgeist: Must be some strangeness with the site. KTFish7's review is showing the updated version, but your review is still the same as before. Hopefully it will appear in the next day or so.


Caedwyr wrote:
@Endzeitgeist: Must be some strangeness with the site. KTFish7's review is showing the updated version, but your review is still the same as before. Hopefully it will appear in the next day or so.

I'm seeing End!'s revised review and rating. Not sure why it isn't showing for you Caedwyr, that's really weird.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm also seeing the four-star review.


Yep, the 4 star review is showing up for me now as well.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

I just want to thank you gentsfor updating your reviews.

President, Jon Brazer Enterprises

For Black Friday, this PDF will be on sale for $0.99. Be sure to grab it this weekend for this low, LOW price.

President, Jon Brazer Enterprises

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

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