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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Thank you. I'm curious to know what version of Adobe readers are using who have mentioned overlapping text; specifically pages 6 and 7 (trainer perks). On all of the files I have, as well as that which I downloaded from Paizo itself, does not experience any overlapping unless I manually turn on the "Plain Text" layer. That layer is off by default, but can be turned on, along with shutting off picture and background layers, to produce a printer-friendly version of the file.

If you are experiencing overlapping issues with text, can you please message me with your version of Adobe Acrobat and whether you're on PC or Mac? I'd like to not have this be an issue for anybody, but it may be beyond my ability to resolve with some computer setups.


Dotting for interest. I love both pokemon and pathfinder so this seems promising. But that robot horse on the cover kinda makes me carefull, first have to see monster lists and reviews from others. But it seems intrresting.


Robot horse? I think you're referring to the dragon engine :) We also have a bunch of the monsters previewed on our facebook page if you want to get an idea of what's inside.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Finally got around to posting my review on this product. I've actually been loving it since I first checked out the preview on DriveThruRPG, but I wanted to make sure I took the time to check it out thoroughly before reviewing since it's a bit different than the pet classes I've played before. This manages to take all the best things about Pokemon and blend them seamlessly into the Pathfinder RPG without intruding on the game's core identity. You can click a Monster Trainer in perfectly with a standard Pathfinder group, and the GM won't need to make a bunch of allowances so the class can scale properly. I was worried that these materials would require extra work on the GM's part to keep adding in monsters to capture, but they really don't. Your starting companion monster has multiple ways to scale and stay effective, and I'd be perfectly happy with any of my players running a Monster Trainer in any Paizo AP or module.


I got a big kick out of M:KoM as well! My only issue was that I was going to play the healer in the group, and even with using my Cleribelle (it's basically the number one healing monster), I was pretty limited to just healing hit point damage. There just weren't a lot of options for playing a dedicated healer who could fix hit point damage and recover status effects like poison, disease, ability damage, etc.


I did shy away from that particularly because of its out of combat usefulness. While I may add something more akin to it in the future, I'm trying to find a way to do so that won't make the Trainer the greatest ally outside of combat (where she can trade monsters in and out with relative ease).

At the moment, the way I've done it is they can generally counter effects they can also create. Since they can't create diseases and similar, they have no ability to reliably remove them. Now, with 154+ monsters and counting, I definitely could have missed something. If you see something that a monster can cause that doesn't have at least one counter to it, I will gladly add something in coming cycles (Halloween coming up now, gift-giving holidays next). Part of the fun of the class is finding and catching the right monster for the right job, after all.


Desha wrote:
I got a big kick out of M:KoM as well! My only issue was that I was going to play the healer in the group, and even with using my Cleribelle (it's basically the number one healing monster), I was pretty limited to just healing hit point damage. There just weren't a lot of options for playing a dedicated healer who could fix hit point damage and recover status effects like poison, disease, ability damage, etc.

You mean your Cleribelle couldn't learn Heal Bell?


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Pathfinder Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This is it. I'm done. I now have a pdf for every character concept I can think of. I don't need to buy more material anymore, well when I put up the money for this.

BTW, thanks to Ssalarn or I wouldn't know that this thing even existed and was sold on it based on his description.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

I love selling people on this book! One of the guys who plays in my Third-Party Thursdays games actually was so impressed by it he went out and bought the .pdf and ordered a hardcopy through DriveThruRPG's print on demand option so he could start a Kingdom of Monsters campaign. ANd this guy is a grizzled old Gygax-era gaming vet who started the night thinking that it was going to be spectacularly stupid.
I talk about the class a bit in my blog recap of the game here, in addition to the review on this site. There's also a couple samples of the art in the book in the blog article.


I'll be happy to hear about what you think, Malwing :) and thank you as always to Ssalarn for the kind words. I'm actually just about ready to post one more update to get it completely lined up with the Quick Reference Sheets I've been working on. Look for it hopefully before the week's out.


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It'll take me a while to review this since there are a lot of moving parts but so far I like what I'm reading. It makes sense in terms of flavor. The full caster without a spell list aspect is extremely clever. You're basically a walking dominate monster. I did try to mentally poke holes in it and it is a pretty sound product, but I do have some immediate questions;

Where do the unsummoned monsters go?

What happens if a monster you control dies?

It doesn't exactly say it but I assume that when you summon a caught monster the one already active is automatically recalled.

Is there an owned monster limit?

I'm going to go ahead and guess that you can only grow a monster if it would reach a CR that's equal or lower than your level.

My only criticism for now is that you can only have one monster per battle, which isn't bad but I hate encounter duration effects, restrictions and powers and more hate when they aren't defined. Also so other things aren't actually defined, like 'active monster' and whether or not I'd get one monster at a time or one monster per encounter.


Once you start reading it in depth, you'll find that all of those answers are there. To tackle them here:

1) Monsters are drawn into your essence(your spirit/soul/etc) when they are not active. Their presence there is magical in nature and affects your aura (see trainer aura).

2) A captured monster that "dies" returns to your aura. You can call upon it again later. A wild monster that dies is dead, just like any creature reduced to 0 or fewer hit points.

3) Calling upon a monster is a move action equivalent to drawing a weapon, but only one at a time. Your aura isn't strong enough to call upon a second while in combat (until later in levels)

4) You can capture as many monsters as you want. Since you're limited in how many you can control, capture them all and choose which feels good for the moment or use one in particular and rely on your spell familiarity to get you by in situations when it doesn't otherwise hold up.

5) Correct. Monster Growth only lets the monster go up to the next stage if the CR is equal or lower than your level.

6) One monster per battle is a strategy/rp/balance factor. As you capture monsters, you learn which ones suit your personal needs best and supplement those with your spell familiarity.

Hope that helps.


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malcolm_n wrote:

Once you start reading it in depth, you'll find that all of those answers are there. To tackle them here:

1) Monsters are drawn into your essence(your spirit/soul/etc) when they are not active. Their presence there is magical in nature and affects your aura (see trainer aura).

2) A captured monster that "dies" returns to your aura. You can call upon it again later. A wild monster that dies is dead, just like any creature reduced to 0 or fewer hit points.

3) Calling upon a monster is a move action equivalent to drawing a weapon, but only one at a time. Your aura isn't strong enough to call upon a second while in combat (until later in levels)

4) You can capture as many monsters as you want. Since you're limited in how many you can control, capture them all and choose which feels good for the moment or use one in particular and rely on your spell familiarity to get you by in situations when it doesn't otherwise hold up.

5) Correct. Monster Growth only lets the monster go up to the next stage if the CR is equal or lower than your level.

6) One monster per battle is a strategy/rp/balance factor. As you capture monsters, you learn which ones suit your personal needs best and supplement those with your spell familiarity.

Hope that helps.

Okay, I read up and read deeply. This product needs some playing before I can get a proper review in, but I have some comments before that;

I get more references about monsters coming out of the aura but not when it goes back in. This is how I assume things work.

*If a monster is okay, then you can recall it as a standard action because that's the action used to catch it in the first place.

*If a monster gets knocked unconscious it goes back into the aura automatically.

*If in one shot like from massive damage then its dead-dead, as in never coming back.

*You need to heal them by summoning them. (I don't know if they stabilize or heal in the aura or what so I presume it works like an eidolon in that regard)

What happens when you cast Capture Monster on a unconscious but not dead monster? I'm guessing since it doesn't work on mindless creatures it has to be awake for you to cast it but might as well not make that distinction because players will just tie the thing up and heal it so that it's awake again.

I didn't think of it before but is it weird that the monster's power is defined by CR as opposed to Hit Dice?

I understand why you get one monster per encounter, but one of my issues with per encounter abilities is that it doesn't cover what happens out of combat. Like is it a legit strategy to just start capturing a hundred cats and summon one each time you come across a motion trap you want to spring? What if they only come out when your emotions are in 'fight mode', how then do you heal your monsters or otherwise interact with them? Can they cut down trees or move rocks for you? The Inquisitor, Cavalier and Path of War gets kind of a pass because those abilities have no possible applications beyond affecting an enemy.

Once I do some test runs I'm going to try out a few house rules;

1) I'm probably going to introduce some homebrew templates for Monster Growth. There's too much opportunity for monster Growth to do nothing and it doesn't cover monsters that kind of move past being useful or dead monsters so I'm also giving the ability to reallocate monster growth each level.

2) For silliness I'll probably give a scaling maximum of monsters you can have in your aura and allow you to recall and call them at will. Then introduce Monster Phylacteries that require an hour after rest to put monsters in or out of.

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My understanding is that summoning a captured monster outside of combat is functionally unlimited; any monster you've captured can be brought out freely absent the stress of battle.

I think it actually makes sense from a mechanical execution perspective to use CR instead of hit dice, since number of hit dice can actually vary quite a bit within the same CR, and balance-wise you want equivalent expectations of the monsters.


Hmm, would you look at that? I usually refer to my resource docs rather than the PDF file, so I had no idea that information was missing. I've added it to the text that will be in the file with the update I'm posting hopefully tomorrow. Thanks for noticing that!

---
When you call your monster back into your essence, you take damage equal to the damage it was dealt while active. If your monster is ever reduced to 0 hit points, it returns to your essence as a free action and you take damage equal to its total hit points. This damage cannot reduce your hit points to less than -1. If you are ever reduced to 0 or fewer hit points while your monster is active it can continue to act until combat ends or it is reduced to 0 hit points, at which point it returns to your essence. If you die, your monsters remain bound to your soul, and only the strongest of spells (miracle, wish, etc...) can free them.
---

Keep in mind that your monster is not summoned. It exists and is real while you have it active, but it doesn't die at any time once it's bound to you, even if one shot. Recalling your monster is the same as sheathing a weapon (a move action), but recalling it in combat leaves you without a monster.


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malcolm_n wrote:


---
When you call your monster back into your essence, you take damage equal to the damage it was dealt while active. If your monster is ever reduced to 0 hit points, it returns to your essence as a free action and you take damage equal to its total hit points. This damage cannot reduce your hit points to less than -1. If you are ever reduced to 0 or fewer hit points while your monster is active it can continue to act until combat ends or it is reduced to 0 hit points, at which point it returns to your essence. If you die, your monsters remain bound to your soul, and only the strongest of spells (miracle, wish, etc...) can free them.
---

Holy Crapbaskets! That's a pretty huge limiter for something not in the book. My first thought was; Why bother with keeping monsters at one per encounter when having a monster out in the first place is a pretty fat liability, especially since creatures with a CR equal to your level is likely to have more HP than you, but I guess if you get the Quick Draw feat and somehow got your hands on a 'Quick Sheath' ability then you effectively become a sorcerer with infinite growth to your spell knowns by calling monsters just long enough to cast a spell. But this makes me want to go ahead and try out the house rule of keeping a scaling maximum limit for how many are in your aura and keep the rest in Phylactery Containers(PCs). If I can make that work out, no offense, I'm abandoning this 'per-battle' mumbo jumbo.

Although I still have the question of how you heal these things. If they default at going into your aura at 0hp then how do you recall them to cure them or shove a potion in them? Or is the assumption that when it's gone it just stays stuck in your soul without coming out forever? Seems like something that needs some additional rules or at least a new spell/item/pokemon center.

New question; How do you make a character of a later level? Basically this class has growth potential based on actions. A wizard is in a similar boat since they can find and learn new spells but that can be factored in by his wealth by level. The problem with a trainer is that I don't know how many monsters he has if I, say, make a 5th level trainer. There's also the issue of where my Monster Growths go. As I mentioned before I was going to later try out house rules where Monster Growth has an series of associated monster growth templates that can move because there are plenty of opportunities for Monster Growth to go nowhere and its based on what monster you have at a given time making post lvl 1 character creation difficult and in need of house ruling to work.

Sorry for being somewhat of a rules stickler about this but I want to like this product and figuring out how well it works as written is going to matter when I make a review. I am reviewing this btw, but this is kind of a wobbly looking class so I need to play it out a bit before making a final judgement.


No worries; and I understand, but that's how we've played it since day one and it's not as limiting as it seems at first glance. I actually really appreciate the time you're putting into looking at it and feel confident that you'll enjoy playing it just like the rest of us.

I think there's a disconnect here, but I can't seem to make out what it is. While active, the monster is a second character, similar to a follower. The difference is you give up your own actions to control it on a one-for-one basis. It's healed like a character, attacks like a character, and can be reduced in HP like a character. In a lot of cases, you'll either have a healer in the party who can heal the pet, or you can gain access to healing yourself by capturing the right monster. You can have a monster out prior to battle (and can interchange them at will if you want) in the same way you can have your sword drawn. When combat starts, if the monster's already out, it becomes your active monster (unless you have the monster companion feat). When combat ends, you can also keep your active monster out long enough to heal it so that you don't just soak the damage suddenly and fall over almost dead.

That the monster has more HP than you, usually, is a benefit rather than a detriment, and the HP loss was already explained in the Swap monster ability, I just highlighted it better for you earlier on so there was no confusion about monsters returning to your aura.

Hey Ssalarn - How have you been playing monster defeat/death? Maybe the absence of that paragraph made for a better experience in some way for you? I agree with Malwing that it can be open to abuse without it, but if you've had different experiences, let me know. It's not outside of the realm of possibility for it to change.


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Malcolm, I had some similar thoughts when I was reading the class for the first time. Some concepts seemed un-defined to me, but I was able to eventually pierce things together (sort of like how precision damage is never defined in the core rulebook, but it's referenced in a bunch of places).

Might be worthwhile to find someone else who hasn't read the thing to go through it with you, and note down all their questions :)


Cheapy wrote:

Malcolm, I had some similar thoughts when I was reading the class for the first time. Some concepts seemed un-defined to me, but I was able to eventually pierce things together (sort of like how precision damage is never defined in the core rulebook, but it's referenced in a bunch of places).

Might be worthwhile to find someone else who hasn't read the thing to go through it with you, and note down all their questions :)

Cool, thanks. I can see what you mean in that questions like these can pop up for somebody who hasn't been staring at it for almost 2 years. As I continue to work on different and new stuff related to the world, I am keeping an eye on these and trying to shore them up when I can, whether in the new product or (in the case of this week's upcoming update) in the existing.


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In the case of why I'm confused on how to heal monsters; As written, assuming that I can call monsters any time I want outside of combat, if the monster has hp left then I can bring it out and heal it with a spell or potion or something. But my problem occurs when the monster has zero HP or less. As written, when I call the monster it goes back into my aura since it has 0HP and so I have no opportunities to heal it, unless I can call it while it's unconscious. Also I'm uncertain about the nature of what happens to it while it's in the aura, so I don't know if it heals naturally while it is not being called like any other creature that takes bedrest. Eidolons kind of spell this stuff out for that reason.

As for how much of a liability a monster having a lot of HP is; Well if damage to monsters eats your HP when they're recalled or drop this makes area of effect abilities hurt you double if they hit your monster too making it already a risk, but sometimes monsters have a lot of HP at the expense of lower defenses meaning if it has a lot more HP than you it is very easy to get a monster that eats a lot of damage but is in itself fairly weak meaning that you eat a ton of damage disproportionately. I'm currently building a character to play tonight so I'm not sure exactly how big of a deal this is but I can already imagine situations where I'd drop from recalling one monster before it's even bloodied. At the very least I can only really call about the equivalent of one monster per day before healing.

As it stands I'm excited to play tonight but I'm building around a lot of power limiters.
1) I got one monster per encounter.
2) Me and my monster share the same action economy.
3) If my monster loses a fight I am very likely to drop to 0 HP if it's CR is close to my level.
4) I'm very susceptible to AoEs.

I'll post my build before I go off and play it.


Ah, I see what you're asking. The damage is removed from the monster when it's transferred to you. You don't both hold onto the damage, so you don't have to heal it later. That's why you can choose to keep the monster out and not eat its damage after combat; then you can heal it before sending it back. The end result should be that you have taken 1 set of damage (sans AOE) from the whole fight, whether it was you or your monster that got hit.

Example: Kurt and his bulette are both fighting a wizard that only they could safely reach while the rest of the party deals with minions. On his turn, Kurt directs the bulette to pounce the spellcaster, whose shield and mage armor prevents 2 of the 4 attacks. The wizard goes next, casting scorching ray, one at each of Kurt (8 damage) and his monster (11 damage). On his next round, the wizard hits them with fireball, but thanks to evasion only Kurt takes damage because he rolled a 1. When the fight ends, Kurt uses cure light wounds (spell familiarity) to heal his 8 damage, then recalls his bulette and waits for the cleric to come heal the 11 damage he now has. Before the cleric can get everybody back to full, though, an ambush of orcs attacks, and Kurt uses his surprise round to call upon his Bulette again, which is now back to full HP.

AOE is a factor, agreed, but it never came up in our games because I was either out of the way or using evasion from trainer perks to help cut down on it. I'll look forward to seeing your build :)


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I....I can have a bullete?

0.0

*adds the hell out of this to his cart*


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malcolm_n wrote:

Ah, I see what you're asking. The damage is removed from the monster when it's transferred to you. You don't both hold onto the damage, so you don't have to heal it later. That's why you can choose to keep the monster out and not eat its damage after combat; then you can heal it before sending it back. The end result should be that you have taken 1 set of damage (sans AOE) from the whole fight, whether it was you or your monster that got hit.

Example: Kurt and his bulette are both fighting a wizard that only they could safely reach while the rest of the party deals with minions. On his turn, Kurt directs the bulette to pounce the spellcaster, whose shield and mage armor prevents 2 of the 4 attacks. The wizard goes next, casting scorching ray, one at each of Kurt (8 damage) and his monster (11 damage). On his next round, the wizard hits them with fireball, but thanks to evasion only Kurt takes damage because he rolled a 1. When the fight ends, Kurt uses cure light wounds (spell familiarity) to heal his 8 damage, then recalls his bulette and waits for the cleric to come heal the 11 damage he now has. Before the cleric can get everybody back to full, though, an ambush of orcs attacks, and Kurt uses his surprise round to call upon his Bulette again, which is now back to full HP.

AOE is a factor, agreed, but it never came up in our games because I was either out of the way or using evasion from trainer perks to help cut down on it. I'll look forward to seeing your build :)

Oh, so by passing the damage to you it heals itself so each time you call a monster it's fresh. How does this work for status ailments like energy drain and whatnot? Does the monster just get cured?

My build so far;

Nail, Lvl 6 trainer.

Str 8
Dex 16
Con 14
Int 10
Wis 10
Cha 18

I just put max ranks into Bluff, Craft alchemy, Diplomacy, Handle animal, Knowledge Nature, Perception and Survival. The Craft alchemy is because since I have a bow as a primary weapon with no real bow support I wanted to craft alchemical arrows.

Feats are; Toughness, Rapid Shot, Weapon Finesse, Dodge, Agile Defense(3rd party feat).

I got the Evasion Perk.

I'm clocking out about 21 AC, 5 Fort, 9 Ref, 5 Will.

I chose Catning, as my first companion which is now a Lightnynx but was unsure of how to handle what other monsters I have. For now I assume I completed the first book of Rise of the Runlords and caught what I could remember was catchable; The boar from the boar hung which is now a Dire Boar due to monster Growth, and the Vargouille and a Wrathspawn from the Catacombs of Wrath. I have 3 unused Monster Growths. Because of the lack of monsters that give me spells or even spell-likes my spell familiarity grants me Shock Shield, Cat's Grace, and Lightning Bolt.

This is somewhat of a 'by the seat of my pants' build because I don't fully 'get' the classes weaknesses and strengths and I'm a bit gimped by limiting myself to the monsters in Rise of the Runelords. The quasit has class levels and would have been nice to catch but the prospect of an at-will Invisibility seems a bit much. I'm wary of sno-cone wish machine effects so that ability may have to be cut and redone unless you limit what counts as a monster a bit more. As it stands the ability to gain a monster's spell-like abilities is very dangerous.

Recording monsters captured is a bit of an issue. The best way to deal with it so far is just print the monster's stats or ask the GM to print them. This class is going to take a lot of book keeping since there's an indefinite number of monsters you can have on your aura.


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Nate Z wrote:

I....I can have a bullete?

0.0

*adds the hell out of this to his cart*

Bulette, behir, rust monster, pit fiend and my personal favorite, a jub jub bird. Pixie, unicorn, satyr, too. And that's just some of the Pathfinder stuff.

For genre savvy players, there are some monsters very similar to popular characters in different parts of nerd-culture like Doctor Who, Harry Potter, and the Final Fantasy series. :)


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I'll update tomorrow on how the playtest went but for now based on building I'll give out some comments/concerns.

Monster Growth, as I feared, does nothing if you don't have something for a monster you caught to grow into.

Starting at anything other than level 1 is problematic. There isn't a current way to determine how many monsters you have.

Catching monsters outside of the monsters in the pdf can be dangerous. If the quasit from Rise of the Runelords did not have witch levels I would have access to an at-will invisibility. I fear what would happen if I got my hands on a genie. I'm not sure what can be done about that other than only use this product to play games that only have monsters from the pdf or only the monsters from the pdf are catchable.

side note; I forgot to grow my Vargouille to a Giant Vargouille which leads to me another issue with non Kingdom monsters. You need a wide range of knowledge of GM oriented books to advance monsters.

I'm unsure as to what happens when I recall a monster with a status effect, energy drain, negative levels or any other persistent effect.

As it stands my character looks sort-of effective. I can favored enemy animals, magical beasts, abberations and Evil Outsiders, which is nice.

As it stands this product brings up a lot of questions making it not play well with a normal campaign without some house rules. It's otherwise pretty robust in it's own context.


I imagine that at some level, wide-open classes like this will require some level of "Work it out with your GM". It's still important to identify those places explicitly, but I don't think it's necessarily bad to have them. Some ideas just don't fit into the extremely rules heavy nature of PF, as they are too free form. (There are rules for what Strength check result you need to hold open a trapdoor. It's a rules heavy system!) Guidelines can help a lot in these situations, showing what sort of things are reasonable, and what aren't. Perhaps that sort of thing could be used?

And yea, I was wondering about the "starting after 1" question as well. I thought that Kobold Press' Savant had a system for this as it's reliant on observing enemies to get new powers as well, but it looks like it doesn't.

Spoiler:

It's DC 13, btw.


You're exactly right, so I'm going to create a cross reference for every monster in the current bestiaries to add in on the back of the PDF. That should make it easier to vet into a non-book game if you can still reference the book with the printed stats of the monster.

Can't sleep, so I'm starting on it now.


Here we go. I finished Bestiaries I and II. Working on III and IV now.

So, if and when I add any of these monsters to future books, the monsters on these lists will be considered variants and those in said books will be the standard (for more information on variants, check out the Haunted Eve Monsters Only Pack). The list itself is not comprehensive because some of the monsters don't yet have an equivalent (so I will be creating their spell lists entirely new), but it comes close, and I have flagged the monsters I'll be creating stats for.

Bestiary I and II Equivalent Monsters


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Put up my review based on my readings and playing last night. It was the same build as above But I realized that the perk feat didn't have a prerequisite so exchanged Weapon Finesse for Tough Companion. I guess I won't be using slashing grace with my whip.

The class functions to an extent but observing all the limiting factors, including the called-monster's inability to divert damage away from me I'm not terribly thrilled. I got suggestions on house rules because we like the class too much to abandon it. What we're going to do is making Animals and the Summon Monster/Nature's Ally/any other summon list we can find the default 'I can catch this' list. (with the same restriction that they can't summon more things which means you don't get the spell-like) We'll add to that as much as we can and this is in addition to the monsters in the book. We're also using a few simple templates from another third party book to be our Monster Growth templates for when we don't have a monster that has a place to grow. These can be reshuffled each level. If you start at a level other than 1st you default with 2 monsters of each summon monster level you can cast. We decided to eliminate the per encounter monster limit and just had a hard limit of monsters in your aura that scales from 1-6. We also decided to hard code phylactery containers (PCs) as a class feature much like the wizard's spell book. Excess monsters automatically go into the PC. We also took away the HP drain from recalling the monsters and just let the phylactery heal them after 8 hours of rest. We're allowing players to take healing effects for their monsters so that they can be healed by things like Restoration. We didn't get to play it out with those house rules but we agreed to go with that.

Sorry for the harsh review but as written its got some problems. Would change for an update or in light of any kind of patch product that comes out. But I still loved it so I felt like I was putting down a puppy.


Any review's a good review. Thank you for the suggestions; I'll keep them in mind and will continue to improve upon everything as I go.

By chance, did you notice the list I placed so that you can more easily get spells from other monsters? I'm finishing up bestiaries III and IV now, so that will help the problem related to using adventure paths, etc. And to address the concern of 9th-level wish and other abilities; I'm making sure to spell out that you don't get spells in any capacity (spell-like or otherwise) unless you're the appropriate level to learn it otherwise. If the spell isn't on the trainer list, default to wizard, cleric, druid, bard, ranger, paladin, in that order.


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I did notice. Although since its not reflected in my review since it doesn't appear in the PDF it makes things much easier for the trainer and provides a guideline for third party monsters. Gaining the spell-like abilities from the Talented Trainer class feature is the real problematic thing. I have yet to dig for exploits from supernatural and extraordinary abilities so I don't know if my house rules will entirely replace that class feature but as a whole spells are the real issue that may be salvageable from restricting the catchable monster list. I'm trying that first because I want to limit spell list referencing as much as I can for simplicity sake.


I think you and I are playing this class entirely different. Not a bad thing, necessarily, just different.

When I've played a monster trainer, I have one monster at any given level that I use almost exclusively as my character's favorite. I then supplement my spells by capturing other monsters and accessing them through Spell Familiarity. I don't have to look at a lot of spell lists because I have one monster whose page I'm on most of the time and a couple of extra spells I write on my character sheet.

Granted, I can understand the wish to have any monster every time, which is fine too, and in cases where my character has time to prepare for a different fight that wouldn't showcase my favorite monster, I know which one's I've captured so far.

Both Talented Trainer and non-book monsters: Here's the sidebar - When capturing monsters not found in this or other Kingdom of Monsters books, you can always find an equivalent monster and use its spell list. For ease of reference, we have placed such a list at the end of this book that you can check when playing as your monster trainer.
In addition, some monsters not presented in these texts can have abilities far surpassing those you should rightfully possess at a given level (at will invisibility at 2nd, wish at 9th, etc.) Check with your GM when capturing such a monster and consider using lesser spells/abilities (vanish instead of invisibility), reducing uses per day, or some combination therein.
Remember this. A monster cannot grant spells to a trainer unless the trainer is of a high enough level to learn them as a spell anyway. In the case of invisibility and wish, those are 2nd- and 9th-level spells, requiring the trainer to be 4th- and 18th-level, respectively, before he can use them in any way (spell, spell-like, supernatural, or extraordinary ability).
Finally, Capturing monsters, in or out of these books, should be easy enough. Just keep an eye out for outliers. Happy hunting!


You know what would be cool? I'd like to use some of your house rules you mention here to create an archetype that would better suit your playstyle. Then we can both(all) play how we want.


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malcolm_n wrote:

I think you and I are playing this class entirely different. Not a bad thing, necessarily, just different.

When I've played a monster trainer, I have one monster at any given level that I use almost exclusively as my character's favorite. I then supplement my spells by capturing other monsters and accessing them through Spell Familiarity. I don't have to look at a lot of spell lists because I have one monster whose page I'm on most of the time and a couple of extra spells I write on my character sheet.

Granted, I can understand the wish to have any monster every time, which is fine too, and in cases where my character has time to prepare for a different fight that wouldn't showcase my favorite monster, I know which one's I've captured so far.

Oh for sure, but I'm making my gameplay assumptions based on what the class seems to encourage. For example I defaulted to archery because;

1) My only martial/exotic proficiencies is with bows and whips so I'm more likely to do that than anything else since taking a feat for more weapons is beyond inefficient.

2) I'm feat starved so there's no way I'm going to take the Trainer perk to share combat feats with my monsters, especially since it does virtually nothing the first time I take it and I have to take that twice to get it. (Different story if I get my monster's feats. If that's the case that perk is beast.)

3) Archery is really good when you have a static damage bonus like Favored Enemy

I want to catch as many monsters as possible because;

1) The versatility of my spell list depends on it. If wizard vs sorcerer has shown anything its that casting versatility=power in this game so there's absolutely no reason to not catch anything I can get my hands on for that reason alone.

2) Favored enemy can be a game changer, especially if you're incensed to use archery or two weapon fighting. The only thing as good would be making some sort of reach build with combat reflexes. Either way getting all the favored enemies I can is really good.

3) Where I'm incensed to become Scrooge McDuck with monsters is gaining their spell-like abilities, which is pretty much bonus spells. I don't even really need Talented Trainer for this, I can just have the monsters cast for me. If I have a large back catalog of monsters with SLAs I can pretty much be the best spontaneous caster in the game. Example, Mothman grants me 14 SLAs suddenly at lvl 6. Some of them are things the wizard gets a level later and they don't eat my spell slots.

The base Trainer class basically encourages you to collect as many monsters as possible and use them based on whatever magic bullet the monster produces for the situation which is why the house rule of a hard limit of monsters in your aura per day. That and to make it's design space sych up with the Occultist from the upcoming Occult Adventures.

Quote:

Both Talented Trainer and non-book monsters: Here's the sidebar - When capturing monsters not found in this or other Kingdom of Monsters books, you can always find an equivalent monster and use its spell list. For ease of reference, we have placed such a list at the end of this book that you can check when playing as your monster trainer.

In addition, some monsters not presented in these texts can have abilities far surpassing those you should rightfully possess at a given level (at will invisibility at 2nd, wish at 9th, etc.) Check with your GM when capturing such a monster and consider using lesser spells/abilities (vanish instead of invisibility), reducing uses per day, or some combination therein.
Remember this. A monster cannot grant spells to a trainer unless the trainer is of a high enough level to learn them as a spell anyway. In the case of invisibility and wish, those are 2nd- and 9th-level spells, requiring the trainer to be 4th- and 18th-level, respectively, before he can use them in any way (spell, spell-like, supernatural, or extraordinary ability).
Finally, Capturing monsters, in or out of these books, should be easy enough. Just keep an eye out for outliers. Happy hunting!

Actually as I said above, the most exploitative spells I don't need to actually cast it if my monster can cast it so I'm much more comfortable using the existing summon lists to limit what can be caught, although I have half a mind to nix the ability all together or both all things considered. Mostly I like to avoid having to make on the spot rulings or make rulings on every monster encountered and nip things in the bud before they can happen.

But overall go ahead and use any of my house rules any way you wish. I'll write up the logic behind each of them so that you can identify which ones seriously need to be taken with a grain of salt because even now I realize that the summon monster list doesn't solve all the problems just the infinite combo ones.


Cool. :) I am going to add one other thing to Talented Trainer that should help.

"Self only abilities on a monster can only be used by the monster and only while active."

Then the quasit and other monsters like it naturally control themselves. Talented trainer is just a way for players who don't want to always use their monster to access its other abilities after some time. It shouldn't require on the spot ruling if I can just make it clear when you can't use it (did that for disease, etc, not so much at wills)

Also, I didn't forget about the disease/similar question above. The monster will have those, and they don't transfer to you upon recalling it. They just go away like they never happened. Same for ability damage and the like.

Again, thank you all very much for taking the time to have this discussion. It's nice to not be in a bubble with nobody to talk to about these things. Even the stuff we're working out is great, so much appreciation.


Pathfinder Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Okay, for my house rules I've committed to so far;

1) Limiting the list of catchable monsters to the monsters in the PDF, animals, magical beasts and monsters that are on a summon list. This is in addition to the restrictions already in place. This does mean that all captured monsters cannot summon or otherwise conjure another creature, nor can it use any teleportation or planar travel abilities, not counting spells using your spell slots.

Most monsters within those parameters can't do too much that I don't like to see too early. Its easy to grasp so players don't have to check back with me constantly to know whether or not it can be caught or whether or not an ability of something they've caught is okay. Because of the growing number of alternate summon lists the list of catchable monsters stays pretty high and includes a lot of things.

2) Monster Growth can instead grant a monster a 'Companion Talent'. (Monster Talent list to be determined.) At each level you may reallocate Monster Talents. A single monster can only gain one talent or monster growth when you gain a level. Unused talents and monster growths can be saved until the next time you gain a level.

If you go the route of having a favorite monster it is possible for it to reach a limit to how it can grow and it grows in huge spurts rather than gradually scale like an animal companion often leaving your main monster kind of weak. Also this leaves room for Monster Growth to do nothing and the rules don't cover what to do with unused ones. Then there are monsters you may like that don't have a growth progression. In these cases you can just use a monster talent which is functionally a template so you don't have to abandon your favorite monster for a higher CR one. Being able to reallocate them means that you can power up your main monster until it grows into a new monster, then you put the monster growths onto other monsters rather than abandon them. It also encompasses newly found favorite monsters.

3) At 1st level you can only have 1 monster within your aura. at 2nd level and every 4 levels beyond that this limit increases by 1 to a total of 6 monsters at 18th level. Excess monsters are either discarded or are automatically sent to your phylactery.

Firstly this limit feels more like Pokemon so there's that, but having infinite monsters in your aura, even with the one monster per encounter limit kind of gives you a Schrodinger Wizard effect, capable of producing any magic bullet spell for a given situation. Spell-like abilities compound the problem by expanding the effective spell list.

4) You have a phylactery that holds all monsters not in your aura. Once per day after 8 hours of rest you can swap in or out monsters. This process is an hour long and heals all monsters in your aura of damage and afflictions including negative levels. This ruling replaces the rule that causes you to absorb the damage of your recalled monsters.

Basically a spellbook for monsters. Again much like the PCs in Pokemon. Not too keen on having monsters be a HP liability taking away one of the main benefits of having two monsters. Also not keen on keeping all your spells despite a monster being knocked out. Keeps the Schrodinger Wizard phenomena further in check since you’re liable to lose spells known when you lose a monster, and losing a monster will last until the next day. Adding Trainer Perks that let you switch out monsters more often.

5) You can now recall a monster as a move action or as part of movement. No limit is imposed as to how often you can call and recall a monster.

I seriously hate anything that is ‘per-encounter’. I could go on all day with how it doesn’t work in Pathfinder, especially when it comes to something that could potentially happen out of combat, and there are plenty of reasons to call a monster out of combat even if it’s just to play fetch with them. Also it just seems kind of mean to only be able to pull them out in a fight as if they don’t have feelings.

6) Supernatural Channeler and Extraordinary Channeler can be chosen more than once.

Honestly one isn't enough and they are a bit weaker than the spell like abilities. This way you can make a proper blue mage. This is probably a bad idea but it seemed good last night. since you don’t get many perks.

7) Swap Monster is obviously nixed so in it’s place Favored Enemy scales at the same rate as Ranger’s favored enemy. The improved favored enemy perk does not exist anymore. Favored enemy only works on monsters currently in your aura.

Since I chucked out some casting potential I thought I should give it more incentive to get into combat. not limiting it to the monsters in your aura was just too good though, giving you an effective ‘smite anything’ just by catching a dozen monsters.

Possible things to get nixed or changed.

I’m seriously on the fence about the Talented Trainer ability. Since you’re sharing the same resource pool and I guess the same DCs and the monster needs to be active for you to use it really DO anything? Channel monster is useful by virtue of not needing the monster active to do it. I’m only leaving it alone due to archetypes being disrupted but it's only a matter of time before I rewrite those to conform. It is possible to just have the basic effects of Talented trainer as the perks.

One thing that seemed odd, I always felt that Extraordinary abilities were worse than Supernatural which are worse than spells, but here you qualify for them in the opposite direction. I’m doing some digging to re-evaluate the situation.


Pathfinder Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

To clarify the house ruled favored enemy goes up by +1 instead of +2 at the same rate as Ranger's favored enemy since it can apply to a gross number of creature types at once that you can change per day. Another reason I'm doing this is because the Favored enemy perk seems too much of a nobrainer to not be hardwired into the class itself.


Eh, too many fundamental changes for my taste. You're almost looking for a different class at this point. In any case enjoy it the way you want. :)


I heard that Ssalarn will be in a game set in the Kingdoms, sometime soon. Maybe he'll have some interesting things to say.


Updated the I and II post from before with the rest of the monsters, rather than leave some out. Also posted the III and IV equivalents. Hoorah, off to a good start for the week!

Bestiary III and IV Equivalent Monsters

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

When are you expecting to release the next update to the PDF?


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Mad Alchemist wrote:
When are you expecting to release the next update to the PDF?

Short answer: As soon as the Paizo Staff reviews it and puts it through (there will be an email).

Long Answer: Sorry it took me a couple days. When making updates such as these, I'd hate to send something out and have to immediately fix an issue that was missed despite my best efforts.

As the email will state for those who already have this product, this is the last update I intend to make to this particular document. Anything else changing or updating the way something plays (a monster, the trainer class, or any archetypes) will come in future supplements/expansions going forward (which may or may not be free based on the content). I have greatly appreciated everybody's feedback/input about this product and my work on it. I love it dearly, and look forward now to adding to it in the very near future.

I'll, of course, keep watching the thread and chiming in on the conversation where relevant, or hit me up on Facebook (the Northwinter Press or Mystical: Kingdom of Monsters pages). I'm always happy to chat about the Kingdom and its denizens or even just design in general.


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Trying to sort out a Pokemon campaign.


I appreciate the updated review; thank you.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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Will a print on demand option be available again anytime soon? I'd like to gift my old copy to one of the GMs who plays in my Third Party Thursdays game and grab a new one with the updates.


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Ssalarn wrote:
Will a print on demand option be available again anytime soon? I'd like to gift my old copy to one of the GMs who plays in my Third Party Thursdays game and grab a new one with the updates.

Yes; I'm finalizing the POD for both a premium print copy and a soft cover. It'll be a little more expensive to print (no change to my own cut), but the general quality will be higher and it will include all of the additional content (like a premium version, almost).


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The soft cover is now available over on drivethru rpg. Not even kidding, it looks very nice. Is there a way to do POD here? If so, I'd love to explore the option. Anyway, I'll update again when the premium hard cover finally gets approved.


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Yes, I'd be interested in an updated Hardcover...

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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Oceanshieldwolf wrote:
Yes, I'd be interested in an updated Hardcover...

My exact words!

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