Mystical: Kingdom of Monsters (PFRPG) PDF

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A world of great heroes and villainous thieves...
A world of mad kings and young adventurers...
A world of monsters.

In Mystical, you can play as a Monster Trainer or one of 6 archetypes for that class. Utilizing your unique talents, you and your party will travel through a realm known only as The Kingdom in search of monsters to capture and raise. Along the way, you'll find upwards of 154 monsters; some new and some Pathfinder Roleplaying Game favorites.

By capturing monsters, you gain access to new spells that you can use to either battle other trainers in the arenas that exist throughout the Kingdom or combat evils in your own or another campaign world. As you master the spells those monsters grant you, you can capture even stronger monsters and learn different spells on your journey to become one of the greatest trainers there is.

In addition, there are several new feats for the dedicated Monster Trainer as well as those that will help you to incorporate a little bit of monster training into other classes such as the Druid, the Summoner, or even the Wizard. Any class that gains a companion in some form or another can learn something from monster training.

New spells and magic items accompany would-be trainers on their quests, and a brief description of several locations throughout the Kingdom (including where to capture certain monsters) can be found as well!

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An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

***( )( )

This revised edition of Mystical: Kingdom of Monsters clocks in at 206 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of ToC, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page credits, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 196 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review is based on the version 11-01, which is the most current one – NOT the one that reads “finished” at the end.

So what is this book? In one sentence: Pokémon for Pathfinder. As such, the book begins with a pretty concise introduction to be then supplemented by easy to grasp fast-play rules. These include the notion of “heart” – which represents a benefit to the monster’s stats based on CR faced. This captures, to an extent, how power-levels of characters in Anime tend to fluctuate with the challenges faced. The result of this rule is that lower level creatures have a higher chance of being capable of contributing in fights against more potent adversaries. Whether you like that or not depends ultimately on your own vision.

Anyways, the main meat, the nexus of this book if you will, would be the new Monster Trainer base class, and it was what provided a lot of the issues of the original version of the book. These guys can see the aura of a monster, which allows them to determine whether they can capture a given monster – this is concisely-presented: The creature can’t have class level, may not be summoned/captured or gained through feat or class ability; the monster’s CR must be equal or less than the monster trainer’s level – that should probably be class level. Creatures sans Intelligence score must btw. be awakened prior to capture.

Mechanics-wise, the monster trainer gets d8 HD, 6+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, all bows and the whip as well as light armor and they may cast trainer spells while wearing light armor sans spell failure chance. Spells? Yes, and this would be one of the mechanically most interesting features of the class: While monster trainers cast Cha-based arcane spells like a sorceror, of up to 9th spell level. They can only cast spells granted by their active monster and only if the trainer is high enough a level to cast the spell and uses the active monster as a channel of sorts – it is the origin of line of effect and sight. The latter is a bit weird, since RAW, the monster hunter still needs to cast the spell himself and line of sight of monster hunter and active monster are bound to be different.

The class also gets 3/4 BAB-progression and good Ref- and Will-saves. Additionally, each monster trainer may cast the capture monster spell at will and begins play with one monster already caught. This spell is crucial for the functionality of the class, so let me give you the details: It has a casting time of 1 standard action, a close range and targets one monster. The cantrip can be resisted via a Will-save, which is modified in the following manner: Monsters above 1/2 of their hit points receive a +5 bonus, +2 when above one quarter of the monster's hit points and SR, if applicable, applies. AT 9th level, the DC increases by +2 and the monster trainer gains Heightened Spell, but only for use with this cantrip. Weird: What if the monster trainer has the feat? Does the class ability override universal usability of the feat? This needs a bit of clarification. At 13th level, spellcasting is further modified: When resting, the trainer can choose a monster and may cast a spell of the monster from each of the spell levels available as granted by the monster, regardless of active monster. At 17th level, the monster hunter may catch a monster sans saves, SR, etc. – RAW, exactly ONCE. Not once per day or the like, ONCE. Additional levels beyond 17th allow for another use of the ability, but predicated on the release of a previous target.

Starting at 2nd level and every even level thereafter, the monster trainer gets to choose a spell that may now be cast regardless of active monster.

Monsters already captured cannot be captured again (no monster theft) and, as mentioned before, monsters with a CR higher than the monster trainer's class level cannot be caught against their will, though higher CR adversaries may be willingly caught – this is known as accepting a monster into her essence and the duration for the process takes time governed by CR. This works like copying spells, but does not take materials – so, does that include costs? I assume so, but I’m not 100% sure.

From the get-go, this makes me question what the in-game rationale for monsters with class levels not being able to be captured? I'd *really* need a reason, for if indentured slavery BEYOND DEATH to those pesky humanoids is all they can look forward to, I couldn't imagine a single intelligent monster NOT going for a class level (or, well, suicide if in a pitch…) as soon as possible. Big plus, on the other hand: A sidebar now mentions more powerful creatures (since the CR-system is more precise than HDs, but still not perfect) and templates in particular and explains why the captured monsters do lose templates while captured.

Deploying monsters in combat is, rules-wise, inspired by drawing weapons - you need a move action to call a monster, but do not require the BAB +1 prerequisite to do so. Monsters may be sheathed as a move action; a trainer cannot call upon a monster with a higher CR than monster trainer class levels in combat. This still makes no sense, for combats are a fluid, non-defined time-frame in-game; there ought to be a more salient way of explaining this…and there is. I mean…think of Pokémon and Ash’s issues when attempting to control critters with too high CRs. Why this is not represented here as a limit, I don’t know.

A monster trainer may only control one monster at a given time. A monster does not gain its own actions in combat, instead being directed by the trainer – this uses a telepathic bond with a medium range as the means of conveying orders. Recalling a monster immediately heals it fully and transfers the damage to the monster trainer – though this damage cannot kill the monster trainer, only reduce him to -1 hit points. The action economy of the 0 hp-threshold is covered, which is nice…but this still opens up a problematic question: What prevents monster cycling and infinite healing siphoning exploits? RAW, nothing. Since the monsters that are recalled are fully healed upon being recalled, the monster can soak damage, which is then transferred to the trainer. Trainer keels over. Healer buddy whips out that cure light wounds wand and there we go. The next monster can once more soak damage or have HP transferred to allies; then recall, keel over – presto, we have just upgraded cure light wounds to a better version of frickin’ heal. And yes, with a bit of creativity, you can make this an infinite healing exploit. As soon as level one. Yeah, the class desperately needs a limit regarding the healing of monsters here. This is broken. At 15th level, the monster trainer may recall and redeploy a monster as the same action and may instead assign damage to the new monster, exacerbating the issue.

On the plus-side, the commanding process of the monster per se now works better than it did before. It is important to note that improvement via monster growth has been hard-wired into the progression of the class – much like e.g. Pikachu in the series, favorite monsters thus retain their significance at higher levels.

First level yields Eschew Materials and the aura of a trainer is harder to discern. 2nd level yields favored enemy +2 against all monster types she has captured…which is unnecessarily gameable and favors diversified trainers over specialists. Why not make the number of types to which the bonus applies contingent on class level, with higher levels unlocking new ones and player agenda to select the switch? This is particularly relevant, since 3rd level unlocks empathy, which means that creatures that qualify for favored enemy also increase their starting attitude, with influence as a 1d20 + class level + Charisma modifier check that takes one minute. RAW, this stacks with the hard cap of Diplomacy, though that may or may not be intended.

Yes, 5th level grants the ability to share some senses between monster and trainer – the ability has been cleaned up. At 10th level, the trainer gets 3 + Cha-mod uses of charm monster as a SP, but only while no active monster is in play. The capstone nets 3/day shapechange into a fully grown monster – RAW, it’s Su, when SP would make a bit more sense here.

4th level unlocks the talents of the class, trainer perks. The ability RAW does not state when additional perks are unlocked – you’ll have to consult the class table for that. These include making a monster gain the benefits of animal companion at -3 levels; swift action boosts for the monster, having monsters manifest within 30 ft., natural armor sharing, etc. and the class can choose both evasion and its improved benefit and, at higher levels, stalwart. While the perks sport a few cosmetic hiccups, the list is significantly improved.

Speaking of improvements: While capture monster still does not note interaction with temporary hit points, we actually can catch monsters in downtime now, which is a definite plus. As a whole, I consider the monster trainer to be still stronger than most Pathfinder-classes, but the revision at least makes the base chassis work. The class can potentially be cheesed in some ways, but the improvement is significant and palpable.

A total of 6 archetypes are provided - the monster auror cannot channel spells through his monsters.

is broken as hell: When subject to a spell by a monster, he automatically learns it and even when not, he can learn a creature's spell, even ones that are not on his list – sure, usable only 3 + Cha-mod times per day, but…boy. And he may even learn spells that don’t directly target the auror on a proper Spellcraft check. It suffers from similar issues as the trainer, only exacerbated since it does not nearly pay enough for this power.

Monster Breeder replace spell familiarity and channel monster with either an animal companion or familiar, which do not count as monsters for the purpose of the active monster cap. The archetype also provides significant atk bonuses (and less significant ones to damage and AC) to monsters below his CR - yes, this means he's pretty much glass-cannoning via his pets.

Monster Gamblers or their active monsters can take up to -5 to a single d20-roll as a free action and grant it as a bonus to the other or use it themselves to the next attempt to perform such an action – and now, this is tied to action and target, which means you can no longer abuse the living hell out of it. The archetype also gets sneak attack and a 1/day reroll.

Monster Performers get limited spells (only up to 6th level) and bardic performance that can be maintained by the creature. Monster researchers get no proficiencies and d6, but better skill-checks and channel monster. Oh, and they get bonus feats like Augment Summoning, which builds on summon-themed perks.

Monster scouts would be the d10 martial monster trainers with 4 levels of spells and Monster Companion as a bonus feat at first level, while also gaining smite monster at 2nd level or the option to upgrade favored enemy analogue to the ranger. Ironic here: Since the archetype nets the favored enemy of the ranger, it actually RAW loses flexibility granted by the base class.

Next, we have a massive list of trainer spells by level as well as new ones - like Battlefield Adept, which grants you Dodge, Mobility and Spring Attack for while it lasts and it has this cryptic note: "If you can cast Battlefield Adept without preparing it first, you can learn feats with Dodge, Mobility, or Spring Attack as a prerequisite. Those feats can only be used while the spell lasts." Note something? Yes, any further prerequisites are ignored, meaning that any feat that has any of these in the prereqs suddenly turned wildcard. And yes, I understand how this is supposed to work, providing a spell-centric alternate and limited prereq-option. Still not a fan.

The level 1 blind-lock spell has been cleaned up, thankfully. We can also temporarily disrupt links.

The pdf does sport a toolkit for making regular monsters into monstorin as a race, i.e. Pokémon-like creatures. While certainly not perfect, it does do its job surprisingly well and provides such stats, handily, for each of the monsters - and yes, this book is chock-full with them. The race also comes with extensive favored class options for the race, with all Paizo-classes minus vigilante covered. The vast array of the critters and their available spells granted to monster trainers is interesting and while some monstorin end up as slightly lopsided on the physical or mental attribute side, the respective entries do sport some nice ideas and a vast array of downright cuddly Pokémon-style artworks that help visualize the creatures featured. It should also be noted that the guidelines here try to mitigate issues. We also get a racial archetype for a monstorin trainer – think Mewto, essentially. How much monsters are here? More than 122 pages. While the first section of the book, in the original, was a mess, the following, massive write-up of these creatures has been pretty nice and remains so.

The third chapter then provides more supplemental material regarding monster training: For example, there are feats that allow you to cast spells through allies at +2 level increase; granting a limited evolution pool to a monster is interesting and minor monster trainer tricks for non-trainers may be found. When making a monster attack as a full-round action, you can execute an attack as a free action, basically in a split flurry at -2 to atk. This stacks with the swift command trainer perk, which has a similar benefit – both of these have one issue, though: You get to rack up extra attacks rather quickly and the respective write-ups imho should prevent stacking with haste et al. The feat is also pretty much a no-brainer must-get level of powerful…it would make more sense as a class feature, particularly since it may be taken multiple times. Semi-autonomous monsters out of combat, etc. – there are some interesting tweaks here. Monstrous Cohort also deserves mention, it’s now broken in a different manner: "If your cohort is a monstorin or a monster that could grant spells to a monster trainer, you can direct it to cast those spells using your spell slots, as the monster training class feature. Doing so uses your actions, not the cohort’s, and your cohort can still act normally on its turn." LOL. Srsly? You don’t even have to strain to realize the issue here, right? I mean, your ally can suddenly double-cast? Put a cadre of folks with the feat behind casters and have them yelled at, suddenly double-casts?? *sigh* (And yes, this actually is an improvement in rules-integrity over what the feat did previously…)

The items provided here don’t all live up to the precision of rules-language required. Take this 140K item: “An orb of the master trainer is a consumable item that allows a monster trainer to capture a single monster without fail. The monster must still be one the trainer is able to capture.” Okay, how? Activation? Is a roll required? Does it not grant a save? That’s a non-entity of rules-language.

We also get alternate summon-lists, an amorphous eidolon base form and a few new evolutions.

The final section of the book, which provides an all too brief glimpse at the eponymous kingdom of monsters, alongside random monster tables for respective environments is interesting- and the writing here is really nice. The level of passion that went into this is also mirrored by the copious indices: Monsters by CR, by spell granted and even those not covered in the book (up to Bestiary 4) provide page upon page of handy information. Kudos!

Part II of my review can be found here!


****( )

[Update: 6/11/2015] Since I last posted there was an update to the PDF clearing up language, adding some material and some changes to how things work. So how does this affect my feelings about the product? Well the changes are;

The function of losing life equal to the damage the recalled monster has taken is actually in the document. Something I knew but is somewhat of an important limiter. It means you can’t start catching a bunch of low CR creatures and use them for trap triggering. It also makes collecting monsters with spell-like abilities to make a sort of Schrodinger Wizard effect a risk. This does include what happens when a monster is recalled, specifically how it heals, clearing up some things.
The wording is less explicit about calling a monster being once per encounter and changing it to one at a time during battle. The situation is slightly more ambiguous but miles better than ‘per encounter’ which avoids a few silly interactions that can leave the trainer unable to switch monsters when they start with a monster already out, not to mention general complications that come with per encounter abilities that have the possibility of functioning outside of combat.
There’s a new sidenote that describes how to handle spells gained from monsters outside of the book referencing a new table that equates Bestiary monsters to monsters in the PDF for the purposes of spell lists. The sidebar also gives permission for the GM to restrict monster abilities that are obviously too powerful so the Trainer can’t capture a genie and start getting infinite wishes or something like that. There are some guidelines, mainly restricting SLA unless it's of a spell level that the Trainer can cast using the FAQ’s method of determining SLA spell level. Its a reasonable means of dealing with it but as a whole I don’t like the solution over outright restricting monsters capturable differently because at it’s heart it’s a GM fiat restriction and I hate it when products make me do work.
Without monster calling being a per encounter situation a lot of things stabalize and the rest of the clarifications make it so that I’m less likely to make judgement calls when players are using the class. There class still needs a lot of GM attention for my tastes for products but it has moved to being mostly functional without GM interference save for the GM judgement calls for powerful supernatural or extraordinary abilities as those aren’t really tied to any kind of progression. This moves the product up a star with my same general warnings and praises.
________
Mystical: Kingdom of Monsters, introduces us to the Monster Trainer base class. Monster trainers hunt down monsters and catch them using a zero level spell that permanently imprints the monster in their aura. The class itself is built on a d8 HD, ¾ BAB, bad Fort, good reflex, good will, 6+int skills per level chassis. It also gets 9 levels of spontaneous arcane casting but doesn’t actually have a spell list other than it’s capture monster spell. In order to get spells the Monster Trainer needs monsters that give him a spell list.

The description of how monsters are captured and how they work after is a lot too short and not descriptive enough for my tastes but the general idea is there; Essentially you first find yourself a monster to catch. You get one for free at character creation so you have a bit of help. The monster you want to catch has to have a CR equal to or lower than your level, not be mindless and not have class levels. If the monster can be caught you can cast the Capture Monster spell. Since it’s a cantrip the will save on it is going to be fairly low, thankfully its a spell so Heighten Spell works but you can also increase the DC by reducing the monster’s hit points or giving it a status ailment (not really a fully defined parameter.) Once the creature fails it’s will save it is now a part of you and can be summoned from your aura. You can catch as many monsters as you want but you can only summon one at a time and only one per encounter. I also found out from the forums (not in the pdf yet) that if a monster is recalled you take damage equal to the amount of damage on the called monster. but this can’t reduce you to negative HP. When you have a monster out you can cast any spell that it grants you and even cast spells through the monster itself.

Every even level you add a spell granted by a monster you’ve caught to your spell list so that you can cast it without calling a monster. You get monster empathy, much like animal empathy. You can use your active monster’s spell-like abilities and later supernatural and then extraordinary. ( I feel like this is backwards in terms of power but whatever.) You get talent-like trainer perks every 4 levels, and a Dominate Monster spell like ability. Monsters you’ve caught also give you Favored enemy of it’s type. Each level you get a chance to advance a monster you’ve caught into a higher CR creature that’s related. And that’s the real relevant abilities.

The class itself is a bit hard to really grasp. Catching monsters and using them to fight is definitely a focus but because of the casting and there is definitely a lack of combat focus. Taking damage from your downed monsters and sharing your monster’s action economy means that you don’t have the same advantages of having an eidolon, animal companion or summoned monster. You have proficiencies with all bows but you’re feat starved so there’s not much you can do about that, especially since you’re going to need Heighten Spell. Disregarding that with 9 levels of casting getting into combat is going to make you as MAD as the Monk. When you hit the table there’s a bit more versatility by having different monsters but in a lot of situations calling a monster can be a liability. Essentially you produce 2 targets for the same HP pool and half the action economy. If you focus on your gimmick Favored Enemy and getting spells from your monsters will help you out without needing to summon anything. Being a full arcane caster with some monster abilities makes the design a bit conservative and have about one too many nerfs to really shine.

One thing you’ll notice is that Monsters don’t grant spells. Well in this book there are over 150 monsters that do add spells to a trainer’s spell list. Which is the beginning of part of this class’s problems. You can’t really start playing an adventure path with this class and hope for the best or your spell list will suffer. Sometimes thing go too well and you can gain spell like abilities that you have no business having, like a 9th level Wish. The class doesn’t really play nice with the rest of the game and takes direct GM support, GM fiat and house rules to function in a normal game. There’s also the business of calling monsters being encounter-based. There are ways to make assumptions to widdle out how this works in game but as written encounter limitations means the inevitable questions of how this works out of combat, why on earth it it happens in the first place when you can call and recall in combat, and the nature and definition of what an encounter is in the first place. There is also an issue of trying to make a Trainer at a level other than level 1 since part of your growth in power depends on actively catching monsters which are not defined by your wealth by level or anything like that. Then having any number of creatures means a ton of book keeping if you want to catch a lot of monsters.

If you can’t tell, this product allows you to play a pokemon-like campaign. It has all the tools to do so. You get a bestiary of 150+ (mostly)cute monsters to catch, that are all nicely bookmarked and referenced by spell they grant, CR and random encounter tables. Each group of monsters even comes with racial traits for a new Monstorin race that is essentially a Monster-tiefling/aasimar. Personally I think it comes off more like a blue mage from Final Fantasy but that’s just me. The Monster hunter functions in it’s own little universe but just isn’t a very solid class. The Monster catching rules are good enough but deployment and use is too wonky and it is very easy to come up with an incredibly shoddy trainer or abuse an exploit when it interacts with bestiary monsters. Luckily in playtesting I found that a few house rules and restricting what the trainer can catch more can salvage the class and make it more agreeable to the system as a whole. Unfortunately to me it needed too many house rules and GM fiat to really reach anything past 3 stars, particularly since it seems to be missing some rules and doesn’t define or mention some of the hard limits of things. I needed to check the product forum for clarification on more than a few rulings.

Fortunately it doesn’t fall into useless garbage because it does come with a cute bestiary, a realistic framework for a pokemon/monster hunter campaign, a race with around a hundred sub races and a class that tackles a very difficult subject and almost comes out of it alive. This product has too many small but glaring problems to really rate it highly but I like too many things about it to rate it too badly. Plus anyone that gets it will likely look beyond its problems and easily house rule or play a campaign where these aren’t issues so I’ll give it three stars. I love it and will recommend it as a resource but mechanically there are a lot of holes. Patchable holes but holes nonetheless.


Gotta Train them All!

*****

Mystical: Kingdom of Monsters is a 180 page supplement primarily built around a new class it introduces, the Monster Trainer. Along with the Monster Trainer class, this 180 page .pdf includes archetypes, new spells, and over 150 monsters both new and familiar that the Monster Trainer can capture and tame. Let's dive into the meat of this thing-

The Monster Trainer is a 3/4 BAB, 6 + INT skill, 9 level caster who captures monsters and utilizes them in a symbiotic blending of man and beast. Does 3/4 BAB, good skills, a pet, and 9th level casting seem a bit much? It did to me at first too, but it make a lot more sense as you dig in to the class and mechanics.
The Monster Trainer doesn't have a spell list of his own; instead, he gains knowledge of spells determined by his active monster and casts them as a sorcerer of his level. This generally means your spell list is much more limited than a true 9 level caster's, and is dependent upon the monster you're currently using. The bond between the trainer and his monster is also more limited than that of standard pet classes, since the Trainer must spend his actions to command his monster.

If some of this is starting to sound pretty familiar, that's not a coincidence. The supplement was inspired by Pokemon and that influence can be seen in both art and mechanics. The art in this supplement is beautiful, and tip-toes carefully down a line blending traditional fantasy art styles with more anime-esque art. Truthfully, I was pretty skeptical when I stumbled upon this, saying something to the effect of "Pokemon for Pathfinder? Pffft!" Turns out, I shouldn't have been so dismissive. When I went to see what kind of train-wreck had evolved from that concept, I was stunned to find a mechanically elegant, beautifully illustrated, and excellently fleshed out supplement with all the rules necessary to either graft the subsystem onto your home game's world or to enter the world of the Kingdom as laid out in the supplement.

The monsters are my favorite part, and honestly, I've spent as much time ogling the art and mechanics of the various monsters as actually playing with any of them. There's 150 critters laid out within, with everything from low level "companion" monsters (think starter pokemon) to high level beasts from the Bestiary like the glabrezu, updated with appropriate companion stats and abilities. The large array of low level monsters is excellent, giving the class a huge level of replayability. You could play a melee focused monster trainer, a trainer who focuses on blasting and/or utility with just about any element, a healing focused character, a buffer... If there's a role in the game you want to play, there's probably a class feature and monster combination that will allow you to fill it.

One of my favorite things about this supplement is how well it plays with other classes. The shared action economy and limit of calling one monster per encounter means that you aren't taking up any more table time than any other player, and the game presents several options for advancing your monster, keeping your initial companion relevant through all levels of play. The two main methods of advancing your monster are either through monster "growth" (think evolution), or through spending one of your class features (called Trainer Perks) to allow your companion to advance as a druid's animal companion. This is especially nice for groups where the GM may be inclined to let a player try the class out, but doesn't want to have to make extra allowances in his campaign for the player to capture new monsters at every level.

All in all, I was beyond pleasantly surprised at the quality and execution of this supplement. The class is well balanced and very interesting, the concept is fun, the mini bestiary is surprisingly extensive, and everything about the supplement serves to bring it to life in a way that is extremely fun and enhances any game without getting in the way or intruding on the established parameters of a current campaign. I have to highly recommend this to anyone who's interested in running a pet-based class that is better balanced than the Summoner and has more variety than the traditional animal companion classes. It's also a great source of possible inspiration for GMs looking for something a little different for their next home game.


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For those who bought (or received as part of our Kickstarter) one of the original copies before I took it down, I have a special gift to say thanks for your support. I'll spill the beans on this at the same time that I add it, but if you're reading this and you happen across it in the intervening seconds between when it goes live and when I do what I plan, take a deep breath before doing anything :)

... I kid you not, as soon as I hit submit, I got an email from DtRPG saying that they're finally pushing it through so I can print a proof copy. Not long now!


The premium hard cover is now available in addition to the softcover copy and both look awesome (uploading pictures to Facebook soon). I'm currently working with One Bookshelf on a way to send those of you with the previous hardcover a special discount to get the premium hard cover at cost to print (my way of saying thanks for the support).


What are the differences between the printed softcover and hardcover (premium) editions? Any difference between the PDF and do either of the books have additional content? I am deciding if I want to purchase soft or hard printed versions of this most awesome product!


I've gotten partway through this and it's such a cool thing. Really wish I had a group so I could play some of this awesome third party stuff. This, Ponyfinder, the playable monsters Rite Publishing does... so many things I want to do.


Carrion wrote:
What are the differences between the printed softcover and hardcover (premium) editions? Any difference between the PDF and do either of the books have additional content? I am deciding if I want to purchase soft or hard printed versions of this most awesome product!

No differences between them except for minor tweaks between the time it took to get each out (nothing game-changing). The PDF should be what you can expect to find in either edition.

TaliaKirana wrote:
I've gotten partway through this and it's such a cool thing. Really wish I had a group so I could play some of this awesome third party stuff. This, Ponyfinder, the playable monsters Rite Publishing does... so many things I want to do.

I'm very happy to hear about that. Actually, those are some of the things on my radar right now as well. There may be something there for those who want to play all of the different takes on cartoon-friendly classes...


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The monster trainer is now officially available for your referential ease on d20pfsrd along with a handful of sample monsters and links on existing monsters to help those in search of what to capture. Enjoy!

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/3rd-party-classes/northwinter-press/monster -trainer


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Monster Trainer

Finally can see the obscured portion of the text my PDF has scrambled....


We never could figure out why that was happening to you. The only answer I could find was that it was a version support issue (PDF compatible with 7.0+) or a non-Acrobat Reader program. If you want to pm me an email I can share a file with, I'll generate a copy without layers for you and see if that clears up the issue.

In either case, I'm glad that portion is now available for you to use online.


Is calling a monster SU or EX? The monsters do not disappear in antimagic fields right?

Do monsters keep their equipment/barding/weapons when they return to the essence?

Is it possible to trade monsters with another trainer?


Ex. Monsters called upon by the trainer don't disappear in anti-magic fields.

They do not keep items given to them unless the item was made to be transported in such a way (currently, no such item exists). Equipment and whatnot falls to the ground. For a monster that you want to keep equipment, consider the Monster Companion feat that allows a monster of you choice to stay by your side while inactive.

It is possible, though I never provided much detail initially (more just a passing story). The idea is that it's a ritual you perform with the other trainer during which you each choose a monster you've captured and exchange their essence. In this way, you could get a higher CR monster, but you still wouldn't be able to call upon it until you are the right level.

Hope that helps. :)


Can you capture familiars/eidolons/animal companions/monstrous cohorts/etc.?

How does monster training work with animals and the trick system? It seems like it overrides it?

The trainer perk "Appraise Monster" did not have a DC given for the Appraise check??

How would a succubus "profane gift" work with supernatural channeler?

Also- with the super channel ability would that ability remain constant if the succubus evolves?


Hey, sorry had a family gathering this weekend. I will get back to you with answers tomorrow.


What's in the box? wrote:
Can you capture familiars/eidolons/animal companions/monstrous cohorts/etc.?

Bonded creatures such as those mentioned here are already tied to their respected classes in a manner similar to a monster trainer, so are already "captured." That said, if somebody purchased a trained owlbear and used it against a trainer, they could technically lose the creature to him if he were so inclined.

What's in the box? wrote:
How does monster training work with animals and the trick system? It seems like it overrides it?

Animals are still animals and can be trained as usual. You can't direct a creature to do something it doesn't know how to do already. A monster trainer that captures an animal gains access to the spells it grants them (if any), but doesn't suddenly grant it extra knowledge on their own (hence the Monstrous Bond feat). Without the feat or time spent teaching tricks, most animals aren't very good in battle.

What's in the box? wrote:
The trainer perk "Appraise Monster" did not have a DC given for the Appraise check??

This makes the Appraise skill into monster lore (see Knowledge) and turns "current hit points of that monster, its CR, and whether it has any bonus to save if he tries to capture it" into a single useful piece of information as described by that skill. So I could roll Appraise DC 5 + CR for a common monster to learn the above or to learn something else about it.

What's in the box? wrote:
How would a succubus "profane gift" work with supernatural channeler?

This one falls a bit into the GM Fiat area, but here's how I'd run it:

1) Before talented trainer (supernatural), you could only direct the succubus to use profane gift while it's active 1/day. Once the succubus returns to your essence, the bonus goes away (painlessly because it isn't forced).

2) After talented trainer, you or your succubus could use the ability 1/day, but once she goes away, so too does the bonus.

3) After supernatural channeler, you can use the ability with or without the succubus 1/day and it stays for as long as you wish, but you have to end one bonus before you can start another, so the creature receiving the bonus from you directly would take the 2d6 Charisma drain.

4) If you have 2 succubi, you could grant the bonus to 2 separate creatures (1 from you or a succubus and 1 from the other succubus), but the succubus granting the bonus will need to remain active (or at your side with the Companion Monster feat).

What's in the box? wrote:
Also- with the super channel ability would that ability remain constant if the succubus evolves?

If the creature it grows into (another demon, perhaps) doesn't have that ability, there's nothing to draw from so the bonus falls off without penalty/drain.


one thing my group talked about since most campaigns start above level 1 is the cost of monsters.

W sorta defaulted to monsters having a cost associated with their capture equaling the level of wealth a NPC (lvl equal to monster CR) would start with and limiting characters to a number of monsters able to purchase equal to HD.

So if you are starting a lvl 4 and you wanted to purchase a Faerie Dragon you could spend 390 of your 6000 gp to have that. You could use your remaining wealth to "purchase" up to 3 more monsters.

We were clear to indicate that the "cost" is more a measure of resources (potions, alchemical items, hirelings, etc.) consumed in tracking/combating/capturing the monster than a consumer/merchant interaction.

I was wondering what you think would be a good system of approach for compensating for a MT being built at higher than lvl 1?


I posted this to Facebook some time ago and still plan to include it in an upcoming book (possibly the psionic guidebook I'm getting ready to open playtest). I like your reasoning behind it (not just buying it, but actually spending resources to find and capture it).

Want to start a trainer at a higher level? You can "buy" monsters using your starting wealth. The monster's value is equal to its Challenge Rating squared x 500 gold. Only during character creation can you buy monsters in this way.

In game, if there is ever a reason to buy or sell a monster, have the GM figure its value relative to an encounter of the same level and either charge or pay accordingly.
Some monsters, particularly constructs, already have a charge to be created or raised until they can be used by a trainer. These monsters retain their existing cost and value, even if it would be higher or lower than that which is stated here.

Alternatively, I have build monster trainers that get 1 monster at their current level -1 plus their original monster (grown to the appropriate category). Since capturing monsters isn't required to be useful, this works out well enough. You can still be a good trainer even with only 1 monster from which to draw spells.


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Part II of my review:

Is there something positive to say here? Yes, there is: The pdf does sport a toolkit for making regular monsters into monstorin as a race, i.e. Pokémon-like creatures. While certainly not perfect, it does do its job surprisingly well and provides such stats, handily, for each of the monsters - and yes, this book is chock-full with them. The vast array of them and their available spells granted to monster trainers is interesting and while some monstorin end up as lopsided on the physical or mental attribute side, the respective entries do sport some nice ideas and a vast array of downright cuddly Pokémon-style artworks that help visualize the creatures featured. How much of them are here? More 122 pages. Yes, the horribly flawed mess I was complaining about only spanned 21 pages. As jarring and annoying as the former chapter was, as nice and useful is this one and, let me emphasize that, it almost feels like it comes from a different book.

The third chapter then provides more supplemental material regarding monster training: For example, there are feats for non monster trainer characters...like this one: "If your eidolon models a monster that would grant spells to a monster trainer, you gain access to those spells. Add the eidolon’s spells to your spells known as long as it models the chosen monster, is alive, and is available to you. Spells that are not ordinarily on your class’s spell list count as 1 spell level higher for the purpose of this feat." An eidolon doesn't "model" anything. Does it need to look cosmetically like the monster? What does it need to do to qualify for free spells, which may even belong to different spell lists? This shows an ignorance on how the summoner rules work. Monstrous Cohort also deserves mention: "You can now recruit a monster as a cohort. The monster’s effective level is equal to its CR."

Okay, do you get the spells? The abilities? Does it stack with companions and active monsters? Is it autonomous? Does it need to be taught tricks if none too bright? I'm so tired of this right now, I'm not even going to dignify pointing out all the ways in which this feat makes no sense and leave it at the base: This feat does nothing. Monsters, like all creatures, can be taken as a cohort and there is nothing in the vanilla rules preventing that. This level of issues extend to everything herein...apart from the monster statblocks...and the final section of the book, which provides an all too brief glimpse at the eponymous kingdom of monsters, alongside random monster tables for respective environments - and the writing here is really nice. The level of passion that went into this is also mirrored by the copious indices: Monsters by CR, by spell granted and even those not covered in the book provide page upon page of handy information.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting aren't bad on a formal level. On the level of rules-language, this book, there's no way around it, FAILS. Layout adheres to a per se nice two-column full-color standard that remains pretty printer-friendly and the child-friendly Pokémon-style artworks of the monsters are neat and inspiring if you enjoy the aesthetics - I certainly liked them. The book comes with excessive bookmarks for your convenience.

Damn, I HATE writing reviews like this; In fact, the reason why this review was delayed time and again, was due to the authors tinkering with the book, updating it and improving it - or so I noted via update e-mails. I really, really commend this level of commitment and passion for one's material and I so hoped I'd be able to write something positive here and reward this level of service.

You see, while I never was too much into Pokémon, I REALLY wanted the rules here to work - as a huge fanboy of the Shin Megami Tensei franchise and the superb Lucifer's Call game in particular, I've been waiting for a good "recruit foes"-class for ages. The frustrating thing is - this could have gotten it right. The monster trainer does look strong on paper, but is in basic playtest very MAD...the issue being that a truly meaningful playtest with this class is impossible at this point. Why? Because the class requires a huge amount of DM-calls to work. See the never-ending list of questions and complaints above? That's not even half of what came up.

And yes, the revisions have improved this book...but not by enough to make the class even remotely functional sans copious DM-calls. In one sentence: The rules-language is horrible. That is if you're using the normal rules. Use the fast play rules and the precise engine that is pathfinder comes crumbling down in the realm of GM-fiats. This is the single most imprecise class I've read in a while and it simply does not work...and this frustrates me to no end. Why? Because I can make it run. So can expert (and I MEAN expert!) developers and designers - I can see crunch-wizards salvaging this one and having a blast with it since the complex framework, in all aspects ALMOST works - but the lack of proper development and the at times downright sloppy rules-language undermine the very foundation upon which this whole book is built, never mind the issues with other classes and rules.

At the same time, though, the indices and monsters provided are pretty awesome and something that bespeaks the passion that Malcolm Northwinter has put into this book...and similarly, the campaign setting information, brief though it may be, is nice.

So, how to rate this? See, that's difficult: The monster-section is pretty cool and takes up the majority of the book and thus should have a more pronounced influence on the rating...but its usefulness as intended is based on a rules-foundation that is horribly flawed in several objectively bad ways, requiring more GM fiat than any other class for PFRPG I know, while the rules-aspects of the editing job are simply insufficient to run most classes, much less one this complex. Worse, that's before the MAD comes into play and objective balance-concerns stemming from the opacity of the rules-language of the class enter the equation.

Damn, I hate being this guy...but I have to tell you: Each iteration of this book's rules made me rage-quit at least once and I hoped that this final one wouldn't. It did. More than once. It really was a heart-rending experience to see this almost get it right and then botch it so hard.

Even if I take into account the freshman offering bonus, I can't rate this for the monsters alone, but have to rate it for its intent, which is making a Pokémon-ish setting/gameplay available - and here, the book objectively fails. It fails even harder for kids. Yes, I playtested that with kids who were really into the concept...and failed to grasp the opaque rules, mirroring my rage-quit in one case...and we're talking about kids that know Pathfinder and have no issue with complex classes like e.g. those in Akashic Mysteries - you don't want to see that 10 year-old's Guru...ouch!

How to rate this? Well, let me reiterate: This one, were it not for the cool monsters and the nice setting information, would get a really bad bashing. As written, it is so flawed I can't even recommend it as a mixed bag to any but the most experienced of GMs willing to spend a LOT of time essentially doing the development work for the Monster Trainer: Codifying rules language, including answers to all those issues. You may get some mileage out of this...but still, the fact remains that this is an exceedingly flawed, problematic book - as much as I like the concepts, I cannot go higher than 2 stars, even with the freshman offering bonus.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here and on d20pfsrd.com's shop.

Endzeitgeist out.


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Thank you for the review. I will use what I can of it to push forward and continue to improve on my work.


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malcolm_n wrote:
Thank you for the review. I will use what I can of it to push forward and continue to improve on my work.

As a fan of the book and someone whose GM has taken the time to write up a quick clarification document so we can continue to use it despite the flaws, I want to say that I think this response to a review that had some very harsh things to say shows class and aplomb, and I remain very much a fan of you and your work.

I have watched friends work on monster design for Pathfinder before and can easily imagine how much work went into the massive monster section of this book, so I just want to say that while I can not call out anything in Endzeitgeist's review as incorrect, I would still be tempted to give this 4 or more stars for its quality as a bestiary of whimsical and interesting monsters alone.


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Desha wrote:
*snip*

Thank you for the kind words. Please, I encourage anybody who's bought a copy to at least rate it. As you said, you have your own feelings. Let them be known (I'd certainly appreciate it). Not sure if you can do just a rating here, but there's also Drivethru RPG and the d20pfsrd store if not. :)

As I'm moving forward, I'm taking everybody's (End, Ssalarn, etc) thoughts into consideration and making sure that I address any open issues with future options, such as the monster psychic and monster binder alternate classes that will be available hopefully in the coming months (first as open playtest and then PDF/Print).


@Desha:
Then rate it as such! In the end, all opinions are valid and while the errors herein made it impossible for me to rate this higher, you may have other priorities/standards. So publish your review and let everyone hear your take on the book and its strengths/weaknesses. :)

@Malcolm: Thank you for being professional. I certainly hope I'll be able to one day revise this review and rate MKoM higher.


We are starting a new campaign and the DM approved this class and approved a monster 'purchasing' theme to encapsulate the character starting beyond level 1 (we are level 10)

But... something that I am a little hesitant about- I could have an Efreeti. Which would give me 3 wishes per day, and I could grant other party members wishes... Did I miss something that limited that?

I am a bit of a munchkin and enjoy the whole min/max-ing of characters... but having an everlasting flow of free wishes seems a little unbalanced (at any level but especially) for our level.

But maybe I overlooked something?


What's in the box? wrote:
*snip*

You don't gain access to a spell of a given level (in the case of Wish, 9th) until you could cast spells of that level (a 17th-level monster trainer). This applies to the monster's spell-like abilities as well. Basically, your aura makes it impossible for the efreeti to fully use its powers until you're strong enough. As written, once you hit 17th-level, you can certainly cast up to 3 wishes 1/day (ie, one creature gets up to 3 wishes) using an efreeti, but as stated, since some monsters are particularly powerful, your GM can limit that further.

For me, by 17th-level, a wizard can do this anyway, so I don't personally see it as an issue, especially given the nature of wishes. The genie may or may not enjoy being your captured companion, so beware making wishes with multiple meanings. Most of the time, I would feel better sticking to emulating other spells with it.


A note: This above is why, when I've converted several monsters directly from the Bestiaries, I have typically done the work of clearing out specific spells. For monsters not already updated, there's a little more front-end work involved.


Out of curiosity, is there anything preventing a monster trainer from having a Monstorin as one of their monsters? My fiance and I do a lot of twosie campaigns, and we've been wanting to give this one a go. I figure playing a monstorin she tamed would make for a perfect NPC/DMPC.

Still reading the PDF over, but haven't found anything discounting this yet....


Artemis Moonstar wrote:
Out of curiosity, is there anything preventing a monster trainer from having a Monstorin as one of their monsters?

Can't you have any creature as a monster?


Artemis Moonstar wrote:

Out of curiosity, is there anything preventing a monster trainer from having a Monstorin as one of their monsters? My fiance and I do a lot of twosie campaigns, and we've been wanting to give this one a go. I figure playing a monstorin she tamed would make for a perfect NPC/DMPC.

Still reading the PDF over, but haven't found anything discounting this yet....

Monstorin usually have auras too complex to be captured (since they have class levels). If, however, you wanted to roleplay the connection, there's nothing preventing it otherwise.

If you're high enough level (around 7), you could instead play as a follower if she takes the Leadership feat.

You could also play as a regular monster and she takes both the Monster Companion and Human Personality feats to allow you to interact with her like a regular ally. You wouldn't be able to fight in combat while she has another monster active, but it would allow you to roleplay with her in other situations.

It sounds like a fun interaction to have, so don't let me stop you, but by the book you cannot capture monstorin (again, because they are a player race that gains class levels).


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Some major additions are on the way this year with Player's Advantage: Monster Trainer coming in December.

In anticipation of the new book, I have gone back to John Reyst's d20pfsrd and cleaned up the monster trainer class page, which was a little disheveled after the website moved. Now, it's cleaner, prettier, and I've even added some minor updates that will be included as a sidebar in PA: MT to help monster trainers better understand how to capture and train their monsters.

I'm really happy with how this update is turning out, but If you've followed us for a while and have played or are playing a monster trainer, take a look at this cleaned up text on the website and let me know what you think here or on our Facebook page.


--Get a free copy of Player's Advantage: Monster Trainer! Read below to see how--

Great news! I have completed the updates to Mystical: Kingdom of Monsters that I mentioned previously. Before I post the update, though, I want to get some of your feedback. To that end, I'm looking for 3 volunteers (first come, first serve) to give the updated book a read through and provide feedback on the updates, the additions, and if anything seems wrong or is missing that I skipped over in my final read through. I need this completed before 11/1, so please only reply if you have time. On 11/1, the update will be available to everybody and this offer will no longer be valid.

In exchange for your feedback, I will provide you with a free copy of Player's Advantage: Monster Trainer when it comes out in December.

**Please note that you will have to have already purchased Kingdom of Monsters to get the updated version since that is how I will be providing it to you.

Thank you for your help, and happy hunting!


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I'm up for a read-through - as a backer of the original KS, I'm still holding out for a truly updated, streamlined and usable M:KOM hardback book. But an updated PDF will work too...


Oceanshieldwolf wrote:
I'm up for a read-through - as a backer of the original KS, I'm still holding out for a truly updated, streamlined and usable M:KOM hardback book. But an updated PDF will work too...

Sent you a PM. Thank you :D


And replied!


Part II of my review of the revised edition:

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting have significantly improved on a formal and rules-language level – where previously, the book was unusable RAW, it now works – though there are still quite a few issues in the more complex aspects of design-aesthetics and balancing. Layout adheres to a per se nice two-column full-color standard that remains pretty printer-friendly and the child-friendly Pokémon-style artworks of the monsters are neat and inspiring if you enjoy the aesthetics - I certainly liked them. There are a lot of them in the book, so yeah…aesthetically pleasing. The book comes with excessive bookmarks for your convenience.

You see, while I never was too much into Pokémon, I am huge fanboy of the Shin Megami Tensei franchise and the superb Lucifer's Call game in particular. In short, I've been waiting for a good "recruit foes"-class for ages. Good news first: The monster trainer as presented herein now mostly works. While there are still hiccups to be found and while it still remains a very, very potent class that will make balance-conscious GMs gnash their teeth, I can see a trainer-campaign work, for example.

The latest revision has significantly improved the book. While it is still apparent in some details that the author Kevin Glusing is not familiar with all tenets of the balancing-process of classes, at least now the base framework works, even if said framework is not exactly what I’d allow in any of my games. The material works, but internal balance and that with existing class options out there is somewhat dubious – beyond purely monster trainer-based campaigns, a power-level as assumed by Path of War, for example, may be the best way to think about this supplement.

At the same time, though, the indices and monsters provided are pretty awesome and something that bespeaks the passion that went into this…and similarly, the campaign setting information, brief though it may be, is nice.

So, how to rate this? See, that's difficult: The monster-section is pretty cool and takes up the majority of the book and thus should have a more pronounced influence on the rating...but its usefulness as intended is based on a rules-foundation that, while significantly improved, is not yet 100% up to the level I demand to see from other supplements. My impulse is to round up from my final verdict, mainly since I absolutely love the extent of the improvements that were made. Similarly, I wholeheartedly applaud a lot of the design-decisions made to streamline the class and the playing experience. However, it would be unfair to the other books I review, many of which have been rated down a whole star for a single problematic/broken design-decision…and this book does sport a few of them. Then again, this is a massive book, and the racial options for the monstorin and the stats for the critters themselves are surprisingly well-made…and make up the vast majority of the book, so I can’t well compare it with a 7-page pdf that has a similar glitch.

As a summary: This revision of the book has made the engine work, but the flourishes and details could have used further polishing, particularly regarding functionality in conjunction with other classes. While there are components herein that require GM-oversight to prevent being gamed, the book also sports a lot of components that one can love. Ultimately, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars – and while I can see this work as a 4-star book for many a group out there, the fact remains that it requires some GM-oversight, has some decisions in its crunch that I consider to be problematic; the chassis works now, but the blemishes in the details are still here. Hence, I have to round down.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.

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