Monsters of Porpyhra III (Porphyra RPG) (Priority Review)
This massive bestiary clocks in at 256 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC (by letter – smart!), 2 pages of alphabetic monster list, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 248 pages of monsters, so let’s take a look!
This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreon supporters.
Okay, so a few things first: The book provides a list by monster subtype, by monster type, by environment and by challenge rating – in short, combined with aforementioned ToC and alphabetic list, handling the book is simple and painless. That might sound like a small thing, but particularly for big bestiaries, it’s seriously helpful. It should also be noted that, if you’re not familiar with Porphyra RPG, this book’s content is pretty much compatible with PF1 – most GMs will be able to use the monsters herein on the fly, without any hassle.
However, this is not where the book stops: 12 pages are devoted to the universal monster rules employed herein, and we also get the rules for subtypes and types. And yes, these genuinely are helpful – take e.g. demon lords: They will be particularly proficient with ritual magic (coming soon), and do not possess a static initiative, providing a glimpse of what we can expect from apex-level outsiders. From ogdoad to the zicree, there is a lot here that is interesting: The zicree can e.g. construct via strange fibroids, and are automatically part of a collective for the purpose of ability interactions – so yes, psionics remain very much a fixed part of Porpyhra. Types have their own entry that lists their metabolism with a new header– so whether they eat, breathe or sleep…which is something I genuinely appreciated being here, as it makes parsing that information swifter than in the previous iteration. It’s admittedly a small thing, but I found it helpful. The slightly tweaked monster creation guidelines (up to CR 20) are also presented herein – it is notable that class skills of monsters have been moved to their types, which I personally like – it means you won’t have to flip pages as much.
Okay, that’s the organizational aspect covered, but there’s another big thing to note: The book has a list of artists, and which creatures they provided the artworks. I am always in favor of crediting people properly for their work, so kudos here – particularly considering the vast amount of full color art herein!! I wish more publishers did that. After this list, we have a pretty detailed “How to Use” for the book, which does include a handy summary of the poison rules (which imho are seriously superior to PF1’s take on poisons!). The section also explains the changes made to initiative (passive total) and Notice, which is essentially passive Perception.
Okay, so the book as a whole, obviously, is a monster book, and as such, it is devoted to presenting a ton of creatures for your game. I have reverse-engineered quite a lot of the critters herein, but not all of them. From the data I collected, I can attest a degree of precision that is beyond what you’d expect to see from a book of this size. Covering each and every creature herein would bloat the review beyond any utility, so I’ll try to provide a cross-section of what this book offers.
All right, so, what do we get? Well, the book supports quite a few of the less prominent outsiders, including aeons, and the CR 8 parabythos deserves special note: They can fire a blast that splits mortals in two – the body and a crystalline form, which is immobile, with both having half the target’s HP. And yes, getting rid/curing the affliction is included – unique, and flavorwise a neat niche covered here. The lepidoral agathion manages to make a bunny-person look cool, and has pretty brutal slaps that can cause confusion for a rather prolonged period of time, and speaking of agathions, there also are owl-agathions capable of creating blizzards. The book also introduces something rather uncommon, namely a low-CR angel, the meadow maid, and the book includes a psionic angel. Speaking of uncommon outsiders: What about a psionic beetle-like asura? The book also features a new demon lord, and something that made a lot sense to me: The apiary devils, essentially a whole low-CR caste of devils that acts as a group of individuals establishing footholds – and making fortresses, for they are super-adept at making new fortified structure. This makes so much sense in the context of infernal efficiency. 2 new genies (metal and wood) are also provided, and there’s a new inevitable as well – they are REALLY creepy to me, tasked with eliminated creatures of mixed bloodlines. Yep, that is a damn chilling thought here, having a four-armed monster come after you for your mixed bloodline…and did I mention the qlippoths designed to interact with mortals? They are also rather chilling.
Did I mention the sonic-themed sluu’gho? Or the four-armed warfan-using Hevaka, agents of Lyvalia, the Whispering Councillor?
The elemental themes of Porphyra are also represented in some really cool multi-type elementals, like the mighty CR 17 backdraft, which can suck targets prone and towards it, then deliver truly devastating multi-damage type explosions? Or the masagmasvima, hurling magma and an aura that can sicken targets?
Of course, there are a lot of other critters herein. For example, there are the one-eyed Abaasy giants with a fear-inducing gaze and horrid, metal lashes, the chthonic cyclops, and there are the anakim giants (aesthetically-coded as quasi-Sumerian); and with chingatrüll and drainpipe trolls provide 2 new types of trolls with unique signature abilities. Speaking of which: In case you were wondering, yes, this book does include several templates as well, for example ones for the unknowing creature, which is used to design creatures that haven’t realized that they’re dead – and who don’t take kindly to that being pointed out. Another example would be the hexenbiest template, which is a means to represent beings bound to a hag – as such, there is quite a bit of variety even within the template. Templates, of course, do include several sample creatures. I am particularly fond of the moldering template, since this template allows for the use of common molds and slimes as infections that take over the bodies of host creatures.
Do you like dragons as much as I do? Well, then this book has quite a lot of material for you! Beyond the guardian, hagiographical and porphyry drakes (4 statblocks provided for each of them), we also have the arid, ashen, darkstone and hoard dragons (3 statblocks + global rules provided for each of them), and the new CR 13 wasteland linnorm, which comes with suggested sample treasure. While an elemental, the sleet dragon is draconic in form, and the qi dragon is actually an animal and not exactly smart. I was surprised seeing that this fellow was not at least a magical beast, but its design is very much in line with the design paradigms of animals – very much focused on being a hunter, etc. The grotesque CR 20 typhoean, with its draconic headed arms can also be roughly considered to be a part of this section…and this also holds true for the really cool paper dragon golem! (CR 26, btw. – and yes, they are extremely deadly!)
Of course, there are more constructs in this book: There would be a spiderbot with laser webs, there are drones, there is a really cool guardian made from blood, linked to a ward? One of my favorites is the nightmare collector – a boss-monster-level construct that can create dark duplicates, with a smart Achilles’ heel – a very cool example of a puzzle boss!
Of course, the book also makes ample use of the notion of a fantastic ecology, which includes new oozes, giant wolf spiders, the long-limbed trog flies…and what about a horrid amalgamation of grizzly, shark and octopus? (!!) Two new owlbear variant are provided, and we can find the massive whalecrocs, and a mongoose-like creature bred with an eye towards thwarting killers, able to detect poison and studded with skunk-like spray. Dinosaurs and megafauna are also provided, and what about the grotesque psionic moddey dhoo, with their curse of the black dog, moving in perpetual silence? Did I mention that the book provides stats for dire penguins, or the rot monster, a chilling relative of the rust monster that is really creepy? The chameleon-like psionic shadowcat and the sheepsquatch, or the shadow-themed anglerfish-thing…the strange flora and fauna really help and add to the flavor presented here.
As you can see, there are some fun critters here – and this playfulness can also be partially seen among the fey, with beavertails…and did I mention that Tiny fey preferably ride…DIRE CORGIS? On the creepier side, the undead/fey crossover botachs, who portend disasters, are also here. Coral dryads and other water-borne critters are provided. Plants also deserve special mentioning: For example, there are spores from space which blight and transform organic material, generating twisted lifeforms. What about oozes grown in bear-form (jellybears?), or a take on the CR 15 leucrotta, or the roog, which are fey that have adapted to urban life, distilling poison from their surroundings? The eye-plucking Vaar’s ravens are magical beasts, but also sport this flavor, and we do get a wendigo template as well as a take on Old Man Winter. Did I mention the racing snails, including brief rules on handling races?
Do you prefer the macabre? Well, the yaramayahu has a grossly-enlarged head and can swallow foes and regurgitate those slain as spawn, their bite shrinking targets. This monster would be ridiculous, but the artwork actually made it in equal parts disturbing and surreal. The crypt mother is a genuinely disturbing undead, twisting the themes of motherhood, with the children of the dead complementing this in a twisted manner. What about swarms of eyeballs? Based on porphyran lore would be undead nature spirits and deist spirits. The typhoid mary creating plague doctor undead also offers a twisted angle – and if my fey examples above were too much on the cute/myth-side – there are truly twisted fey here as well, for example the organ thief…and yes, nomen est omen.
Of course, if epic tales are more to your liking than the horrific, this book delivers as well: There are the mighty techtonic terrors (pun intended), a construct doomsday machine capable of causing earthquakes, searing those nearby and firing jets of magma. There are the starfallen inquisitors, heralds of strange worlds beyond; there are steam-powered turtles, and the mighty CR 22 Colossus of Dhu (CR 22) recontextualizes the Rhodos notion for an oasis in an epic manner. The artwork of the lion-headed golden titan certainly set my mind ablaze. Or perhaps you liked the notion of horde demons, of standing against a Berserk-like flood of deadly demons? Good enws: We get a whole category with the Bosch demons, so named after ole’ Hieronymus, with several menus of abilities. I mentioned the zicree before: Think of these as psionic octopi with multiple eyes and strange exposed brains – and did I mention their guided evolution and potent creations? 8 zicree are provided, with surprisingly different tricks – these breathe a nigh-perfect pulp-angle, and it’s been quite some time since a creature-species immediately made me want to write a whole series of adventures for them.
Editing and formatting are super-impressive on a formal and rules-language level; this ook is impressive regarding its precision as a whole, particularly considering that it’s essentially an indie production, even though you wouldn’t notice! Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column standard with purple highlights, and each monster gets a proper full-color artwork. An original one, mind you! (!!) The blending of styles is rather nice – horrifying monsters look horrifying; goofier monsters goofier – the assignment of artists to monsters was handled very clever. Moreover, the styles don’t differ too much, providing a rather consistent aesthetic identity. The book also includes a couple of full-page artworks. The pdf-version comes fully bookmarked with EXCESSIVE bookmarks – links are included for each critter. Kudos!! I can’t yet comment on the print version yet, as it hasn’t been released as per the writing of this review, but I’ll be sure to get it.
Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr, with additional material by Derek Blakely, manage to deliver something genuinely impressive: Not only are big bestiaries hard to make, delivering the third (!!) such massive book, the purple ducks managed to actually provide creatures here that I haven’t seen before: There are plenty of unique abilities, and I’d be hard-pressed to mention a creature I didn’t enjoy. Oh, and the authors achieved that without being redundant, adding unique twists to classic concepts in the few instances where the like was quoted. Moreover, the supplement manages to be incredibly well-rounded, filling niches in monster-coverage even when already using PF1’s 6 Paizo-bestiaries and the first two Monsters of Porphyra. The thematic gamut runs from science-fantasy to pulp to horror to the mythological, to monsters drawing from D&D’s tradition of weird fantastic ecologies. Like dragons? This delivers. Enjoying dinosaurs? The book has material for you. Enjoy pulp? Monsters for you are right here. Do you need some horror-critters? The book has you covered.
This is even more impressive when you consider that this book didn’t have a huge team of people working on it – apart from the ton of talented artists (Bob Greyvenstein, Brett Neufeld, Brian Brinlee, Carlos Torreblanca, Gary Dupuis, Gennifer Bone, Jacob Blackman, Jayaraj Paul, Justine Stilborn, Kristen Collins, Matt Morrow, Michael Syrigos, Rick Hershey, Ryan Rhodes, Tamas Baranya, Theresa Guido), only three people managed to make this gem of a book. For context: This actually is my favorite Monsters of Porphyra-tome so far – the genesis regarding the transition from PF1 to Porphyra RPG did not hurt this gem. My final verdict is 5 stars + seal of approval, and this gets a nomination as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2020.
If you’re looking for a great bestiary for PF1 or Porphyra RPG, get this! Oh, and as an aside – by using Monsters of Porphyra I – III as the creatures in your new campaign, you can really change up the tone of your game in a cool manner. Try it!
You can get this great bestiary here on OBS!
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