Monster Building Guidelines


Rules Discussion


Hi all,

I'm relatively new on the scene to Pathfinder 2 (played and loved 1 for years, didn't even know about 2 until a few weeks ago). I have the CRB and Bestiary, and was hoping to find monster building guidelines in the Bestiary like in the 1st edition Bestiary. Though I didn't find them in that book, I've seen a lot of posts on the forums implying there is some guide being referenced for a typical monster's stats by level. Is there some definitive guide to monster building that I've missed, or have people simply pieced it together from the monster's stat blocks (which I've started to do myself, but it would be nice to confirm the numbers I'm coming up with)?

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

No, Paizo, in its infinite wisdom, decided to hold off on releasing how to build monsters and any NPC in general until 5 or so months after general release.


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Monster building is A) something that not all GMs even do, and B) makes perfect sense to include in the GMG despite it's not being a day-1 release so that page count isn't wasted re-printing it in every Bestiary so that no one feels pressured to buy more than just the one that they are actually interested in.

But hey, somebody at Paizo was saying they thought it was a worthwhile endeavor to get those particular rules out to the playerbase in advance of the book they are going to be put in... so that's a bonus to look out for.


I think it is supposed to be simplified in some manner. The last time they did something like that was in PF Unchained, which involved monster roles. If roles are a thing in PF 2, that will negate any value of "typical monster stats by level", since you would have to know the level and the role. It might mean that monsters with the brute role will get a "brute bonus" to an attack that is unrelated to their stats (but related to their CR or XP) in lieu of juggling feats.


Mechagamera wrote:
I think it is supposed to be simplified in some manner...

Yeah, that is also what I have read, that making stats for monsters and NPCs should be significantly easier. People have also said you shouldn't build an NPC like a player character, but in leiu of some other way of building them...

I was hoping monster building guides would be available from the get-go, especially so that things like Adventure Paths from Pathfinder 1 could be ported to the new rules easier.


I suppose this is just more incentive for me to work on collating data from the Bestiary into my own set of monster building rules.


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Mechagamera wrote:
I think it is supposed to be simplified in some manner. The last time they did something like that was in PF Unchained, which involved monster roles.

Starfinder creates monsters and NPCs this way too. I am expecting something very similar for PF2.

Which I am very happy for. I have created a bunch of monsters and NPCs for my Starfinder games and am very pleased with the process. Building is easy and fun. And the result is a very flavor rich opponent/ally that is appropriate and balanced for the adventure.


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The PF2 system will have broader numbers than Starfinder or previous 3.X/PF systems. You can see that in the Bestiary.

There's a balance to offense, so that you can increase attack by decreasing damage. As long as the next expected damage is similar.
You can see this trait in Level -1 minions that need a higher attack to stay relevant, but you don't want them laying waste to everyone so they have minimal damage. It's hard to validate their attack value based on their base stats. Plus it's a risky idea to arm them with different weapons as the imbalances their offense!

There's a balance to defense, in this case AC, hit points/fast healing/regeneration, saves, weaknesses, resistances, and immunities (et al) all balance with each other. It's explicit in the Vampire template in the Bestiary. The difference between a Level -1 Skeleton vs. a Level -1 Zombie showcases the different combat roles (despite them having the same story role).
You can also see the difference between a heavily armored creature and another of the same level w/ lower AC. -1 AC seems to reward hit points about equal to level (much like a Barbarian) while -3 is about +50% h.p. (which aligns with the +50% damage weapons & targeted spells should then do) while oozes might have -10 or more AC and triple h.p. for their level. So those third swings start looking mighty effective.

AoE's do about 2/3 damage, Agile usually a die type lower than a main attack (or no poison, etc.), and automatic damage (i.e. Constrict) does about minimum (but it's automatic!).

So PF2 monsters are much more complicated to build (which bothers me not a wit!) so it'll take a significant page count to present, rather than one base chart plus some templates like in PF1's Bestiaries.
And they'll likely have some quick build rules too for on the fly construction. Paizo's pretty in tune to real gameplay that way. :)


Thanks for the detailed post Castilliano, it will definitely help. I agree that building 2nd edition monsters will be more complicated, but that's why I was hoping they would lead in with a building guide, since now when they don't have a lot of published material is the time when GMs might have to cook up the most monsters themselves. Later on there will be less of a need with many more published monsters to draw on. That's just me being impatient I suppose. :)


thenobledrake wrote:
Monster building is A) something that not all GMs even do,

Featuring humanoid NPCs, however, is something I would argue every GM does.

The Bestiary definitely is *much* weaker for not having NPC stat blocks for Guards, Knights, Cultists, Druids and what not...


Zapp wrote:
Featuring humanoid NPCs, however, is something I would argue every GM does.

You can argue it... but that doesn't make it true.

It also doesn't make it as relevant as it sounds to be at first because not every humanoid NPC in a campaign will actually need to have stats in order to fully serve their purpose, and those that do need stats to serve their purpose are often easily approximated via existing monsters.

Guards & knights are easily replaced with hobgoblin soldier stats, cultists could vary depending on what their particular cult is about (but using goblins would be my go-to), and druids... that one is a whole kettle of fish because there isn't really a clear fill-in monster that works regardless of level, but also there's a lot less call in the "typical" campaign for the GM to know more about an NPC druid's stats than which level of spells they can cast to help the party, which is covered by the core rules.

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