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Customer Review

62 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good fantasy bestiary., November 1, 2009
This review is from: Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary 1 (Hardcover)
Following the release of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook Paizo comes up with the Bestiary. Since the Pathfinder is a refreshed, upgraded D&D 3.5, there was no question that the Monster Manual needs an update as well.


A solid sewn hardcover book with over 320 pages in full color. As usual, the artwork and layout is above and beyond. Paizo books have their unique art style, and it shows. There are several navigational aids, including indexes and CR tables. The book is a pleasure to look at and use.


The Pathfinder Bestiary offers circa 350 monsters for use in Pathfinder games. A quick glance at the index shows that the vast majority of monsters from 3.5 Monster Manual are here. Several are missing, be them either intellectual property of WotC (beholders, mind flayers, giths, displacer beasts, carrion crawlers, kuo-toa) or left out as particularly unpopular (tojanida, delver).

However, there are also monsters not found in the original MM - among others such fantasy classics as Cyclopi, Giant Slugs and Sea Serpents. A few classic D&D monsters, made open content via Tome of Horrors are here as well - Vegepygmies, Dark Creepers and Shadow Demons, to name a few.

Curiously, the fantasy classic Hippogrifs are missing, likely an oversight.

The monsters are presented in 1 page = 1 monster format, making the book far easier to use than the 3.5 MM. All the critters received a major refurbishing, with vital stats adjusted for the new rules. In a few cases, the upgrade fixed major 3.5 errors with monsters such as Rakshasa, Ogre Magi or the Undead in general.

However the biggest changes lie with the streamlining of monster use for the DMs. A vast number of generic monster rules were lifted out of the statblocks and placed in a convenient chapter called "universal monster rules", meaning that rules such as Improved Grab are no longer reprinted in several places across the book. The monster advancement rules - a major pain in 3.5 - were reworked as well, with an extensive chapter on "beefing up" the printed monsters.

A monster creation chapter is present as well, with advice on creating new critters from the scratch.

The Paizo design team made a controversial decision of removing the LA and ECL mechanics, stating that the book is a DM's monster book and that the "monsters for players" rules belong somewhere else. There is a short chapter on playing the monster races, but fans of monstrous heroes should be warned that Pathfinder doesn't focus on the idea nearly as much as 3.5 did.


Overall, this is one of the best fantasy bestiaries out there. With outstanding art, evocative flavor text and solid rules upgrade, this is a great purchase for both Pathfinder and 3.5 players.

PS: Several additional monsters are available in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bonus Bestiary (Pathfinder) which complements the Bestiary.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 5, 2009 2:53:42 PM PST
Zonerdorf says:
Nice review, I couldn't agree more. I do miss some of the omitted monsters, but it would be easy enough to create them although I would love to see new artwork for some (beholder, etc). I was blown away by the artwork and some of the changes. I'm not making the change to 4th ed, so I found that this book was, for me, what 3.5 should have been. My only complaint was that my book was missing pages 41-56, and had duplicates of pages 57-63. A new copy is on the way though and I can't wait to read through it.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 25, 2010 2:29:42 PM PDT
Kthulhu says:
Well, the beholder won't be appearing in any Pathfinder products, as it's is Wizard's IP. But nothing stops you from using it in your own home games...all the conversion that is really required would be to calculate the CMB, CMD, and changing the names of a few skills.

Posted on Sep 1, 2012 3:31:02 AM PDT
mao_soup says:
Do the hippogrif!
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