Malevolent Medium Monsters
This bestiary clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of introduction/how to use, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Okay, let’s be real – ginormous monsters are awesome! Duking it out with Godzilla as a demigod-like high-level character? Heck yeah! Here’s the thing: Running these titanic foes on the battlemat? That can be a pain. Worse: What if you need a good showdown in the middle of a dungeon? Suddenly, the vast threat is a lot less mobile, cool, and you need to structure the dungeon to account for it. Retreating battles are out of the question…and I could go on.
This is where this book comes in – within its pages, we get an array of new Medium monsters for mid to high levels. Better yet – the creatures are new, and they all come with their own full-color artworks. Beyond that, they not only feature unique signature abilities, they also come with full write-ups for their ecology as well as habitat & society! These are not just bland statblocks, they have a context. I thoroughly applaud this!
But what kind of monsters do we get within? Well, first, there would be the alabaster beetle, and I love it: This CR 12 vermin has a carapace that renders them invisible to darkvision (Now that’ll be a nasty surprise!) and they also are capable of emitting a spray of acidic, paralytic spray with a cooldown. Add grab and constrict, and we have a critter that feels plausible in its streamlined nature, and creative. Strong first critter!
The homunculus dragon (CR 16) has easily my favorite artwork within this book: They have blood points that they can use to metamagically enhance their spells, and the draconic patchwork creature has a chaotic breath weapon – it may manifest as cones or lines, and damage types similarly are random…oh, and the length? It also oscillates! Cool! The homunculus dragon can also generate a random elemental aura, and with its clever feat array, it makes for a kickass adversary!
Taking a truly horrifying concept, we also are introduced to a new construct, the CR 14 Ersatz (which btw. means “replacement” in German); an ersatz comes with programmed skills, depending on the role it’s supposed to take, and they are superb at imitating the creature they’re designed to mimic. Its disguise only becomes flawed once it has taken a sufficient amount of damage…oh, and guess what…they have a self-repairing trance. Being actually composed of a bloodlike matter, they can bypass armor and shield bonuses by worn equipment, but not their enhancement bonuses. Oh, and yes, construction notes included. Basically, we have liquid replicant blood-terminators. How cool is that???
At CR 15, the faithslain are undead wearing porcelain mask, a darkened void behind the eye-slots, a slithering, black tongue that deals negative energy damage (or heals undead) projecting from the mouth. Creeped out yet? They are vulnerable to good magic…but its tongue? It may instill heretical thoughts in those hit, tainting the target. Really nasty and creepy – as undead should be. The write-up also btw. includes a good version
Then, we get general rules for fiendfused creatures, which are a kind of extremely possessed humanoid: They all can change shape, and gain fiendish knowledge. Sufficient damage from [good] spells or holy weapons (not italicized; like a couple of other spell-references here) can actually rip free the fiend, annihilating the fiendfused, but confronting the PCs with a well-rested and angry fiend… and while fiendfused have the monstrous humanoid type, they detect as outsiders, but do NOT count as such for the purpose of effects that inflict additional damage versus fiendfused.
There are a total of 4 fully-statted fiendfused included: The first, at CR 18, would be the Abyssal tyrant, who is a fusion of humanoid and balors that is wreathed in a nimbus of “unholy damage”-causing energy. There is no such thing in PFRPG. Cool, on the other hand: On crits, these fellows can snare targets in bonds of force, and they get a backlash versus targets that crit them – oddly, here they get the damage type right…but on a flavor nitpick, the ability shouldn’t be called “Hellfire Rebuke” – balors are demons, not devils. While I’m nitpicking: The magic weapons the creature uses are not properly italicized, a minor oversight that also extends to the CR 15 coil kissed fiendfused. These fellows add 1.5 Strength bonus to damage with slams (Strength not properly capitalized), their weapons become magical, and they have an increased slam reach. Their grapples are weird, though; or at least: Inconvenient. One ability kicks in when the fiendfused hits two or more times with a slam, but the standard attack array only sports one slam; an alternate, weapon-less attack array would have made this more convenient to use.
On the lawful evil side of things, we also get CR 18 infernal despots, pit fiends fused with mortals. These fellows can grapple foes with their tails, get poisonous pins, and immediate action quickened fireball retribution for crits is neat, as is the ability to tear the DR-ignoring properties of defensive tricks of armor etc. away. Nasty, brutal – love ‘em! The final fiendfused is the fellow we can see on the cover – at CR 11, we have the shearing menace, a fusion of mortal and glabrezu, who gets an alternate attack that can neuter the movement rates of targets, confuse targets subject to rend, and 1/day retaliate for a crit with power word: stun.
Finally, there would be an aberration – the CR 18 misbirthed, a thing straight out of your Silent Hill-ish nightmares, with not only a nasty SP-array, but beyond that, even looking at it may render you insane, as per insanity! And yes, the ability does still affect those immune to fear, though to a lesser extent. Sure, it only is this bad when seen in proper light…but here’s the issue: Proper lighting is the only thing that can suspend the creature’s regeneration…and no, daylight does not suffice. In darkness or other lighting conditions, on the other hand, the misbirthed warps reality and may attack multiple targets…Creatures successfully subjected to the misbirthed’s rend attack have a chance to be randomly greater teleport/plane shift-ed away. Truly a horrifying monster! To quote the flavor text: “Bruised and red skin stretch over a malformed alien skeleton. It’s impossible to tell what parts are bone or what parts are flesh, amid the body of the writhing creature. This thing should not exist.”
Editing and formatting are, for the most part, very good on both a rules-language and formal level; it’s just in the fiendfused that sport a couple of minor hiccups, two of which, unfortunately, slightly influence rules-integrity on a rules-language level; on a formal level, there are a few missed italicizations, more than I’m accustomed to see from Legendary Games. Layout adheres to the two-column full-color standard of the Wrath of the Righteous plugins, and the plethora of full-color artworks provided for the monsters is cool. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Thurston Hillman and Jesse Bonner provide a great array of flavorful, high-concept critters – quality over quantity. Much to my pleasant surprise, even the fiendfused aren’t just straight ability-grafts, but do creative things. On a metalevel, I really love how they have abilities that discourage builds that focus solely on critical hits, and how it doesn’t go the easy route – these are high-complexity, well-written adversaries, which makes up for some of the minor, formal snafus. There is not a single creature herein that I disliked or considered boring – and it’s only the minor hiccups that make me omit my seal of approval from this pdf, which makes this clock in at 5 stars.
You can get these cool critters here on OBS!