Mythic Monsters: Celtic
This installment of the Mythic Monsters-series clocks in at 34 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page ToC, 3 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 22 pages of content, though it should be noted that we get quite a lot of text per page.
This review was, funnily enough, requested by a patreon supporter to be moved up in my reviewing queue – and it was the only mythic book that had, prior to that, not (yet) been requested, so this, in a way, makes the completionist in me grin.
Now, as always in these books, we begin with supplemental content – and this time around, the subject matter would be “Naked Courage”, referring to the tendency of some Celtic cultures fighting without armor. In Pathfinder, savage barbarian, swashbuckler or the like can be used to represent this concept, sure. This pdf adds the blue-painted warrior fighter archetype to the fray of such options. These valiant braves lose proficiency with armor, but apply blue-painted symbols to their bodies in a process that takes 1 hour of preparation as well as 1 sp per class level in a process that takes an hour. These symbols grant an AC bonus equal to ½ class level (minimum +1). Bravery is modified to net +4 to Will saves against fear, increasing by +2 for every 4 levels beyond 2nd, and 14th level makes that immunity to fear. Without freshly painted symbols, this reverts to base bravery benefits. Instead or armor training, third level nets the option to choose 1 spell-like ability from a list, and 7th, 11th and 15th level unlock their own lists of SPs and increase the number of SPs from previous lists, basically emulating a spell-list of sorts. The engine does allow for the slotting of lower level SPs in higher level slots, uses Constitution as governing ability score to determine bonus SPs, and the SPs only apply to the character. Instead of gaining an SP, the blue-painted warrior can grant herself an enhancement bonus to AC or a combination of such a bonus and armor special qualities, with a cap of only one SP until 11th level. At 19th level, armor mastery is replaced with shrug it off, a 75% chance to negate critical hits and precision damage based on the symbols – a failure to refresh them sees them slowly degrade down the fortification special ability tree.
The archetype comes with explicit mythic class feature tricks, which allow them to expend mythic power to retain symbol freshness, adding tier to armor bonus and immunity vs. non-mythic fear-sources, as well as the option of granting nearby allies half the bravery bonus. The SP-based engine-component may be tweaked to provide access to the mythic iteration, and allows for spontaneous swapping of choices made. The mythic version can also apply the benefits of these SPs to allies, and the mythic version of the mighty shrug it off allows for automatic crit and precision damage negation from non-mythic sources. It also nets allies an atk and damage boost when you negate a crit. On the nitpicky side, I noticed missing italicizations here. This guy is decent, but not exactly brilliant as far as I’m concerned.
All righty, but this fellow was not what we’re here for, right? Let’s check out the creatures! At the lowest rung of the CR-spectrum, we have nixies, which clock in at CR 1/MR 1. The mythic upgrade has two really nice new abilities. Coat of Mist blurs the nixie while near a body of water, and mythic power expenditure may upgrade this to displacement. Additionally, they get fisher’s touch, which allows for the use of a touch to baleful polymorph (italics missing) touched targets briefly, with non-mythic and charmed targets being more susceptible. Nice upgrade! Also at this CR/MR, we get a mythic upgrade of the alpluachra, who is a bit faster in water and injects its numbing slime with bite attacks as well. Additionally, they may expend a use of mythic power as an immediate action to avoid ingesting harmful alchemical substances, toxins, etc. and withstand the consumption of salt or salt water. Nice evolution of the concept.
At one CR more, CR 2/MR 1, the fuath gremlin, whose attacks now actually can hurt (thank the deities…) and whose mere presence makes waters nearby choppy, increasing the Swim DCs nearby, and they may 1/day warp wood at CL 8th, making them rather dangerous for those braving their waters. Increasing CR once more by +1, we have two CR 3/ MR 1 critters within, with the first being the water leaper receives a stunning shriek and the option to use mythic power to add a whopping +20 to Acrobatics made to leap for 1d6 rounds. The second creature at this CR/MR-array would be the pooka, who is improved to hearken closer to its mythological roots: They get selective invisibility and may execute at-range dirty tricks governed by Charisma, with the option to expend mythic power to retain their invisibility. The final low CR/MR-creature clocks in at CR 4/MR 1, the mythic spring-heeled jack, who may use their ragged capes to glide, Batman-style, with the benefits of Wingover and Flyby Attack that explicitly allows for use of e.g. the breath weapon in conjunction with it. Wounds struck by these fey bleed, and the amount increases if the target is struck by a sneak attack, and further if the target is subjected to one of the detrimental fear-based conditions.
The CR 5/MR 2 gancanagh azata gets a fey flute, which allows them to affect targets in a 60 ft.-radius with SPs sans counting towards daily uses. With their swashbuckler’s blade, they can use AoOs to penalize attack rolls; for mythic power, we get a parry, represented by the imho not very elegant comparing of attack rolls – on the plus-side, they may choose to take half damage and instead riposte, getting an AoO versus the attacker. The gancanagh’s kiss or caress banishes mental dominion, and may even, with mythic use expenditure, remove e.g. a succubus’ profane gift, though this is not guaranteed. Also at this CR/MR, we have the firbolg, whose weapons ignore 5 hardness or DR, and when targeting Medium or smaller creatures, the target must succeed on a save or have its defensive means reduced, though enhancement bonuses cannot be reduced. Additionally, mythic firbolgs get Death’s Decree – when they’d be killed, permanently incapacitated, etc., they may expend 1 mythic power as an immediate action to self breath of life or break enchantment. For an additional mythic power, the offender may also be targeted with a curse that prevents a use of a specific action for 1 year. Nice!
At CR 11/MR 4, the fellow on the cover, the famous nuckelavee can use its mythic power to double the range of its aura, and yes, it may spoil potions or food within its aura. Its signature mortasheen disease requires mythic magic to cure, and may be rendered highly contagious by the creature. Additionally, for mythic power use, the nuckelavee’s mythic iteration may speed up the progress of the vile disease. In their wake, they spread filth and disease, rendering water difficult terrain, and the creature’s rancid odor touches those hit by bite or breath with a truly foul smell. AWESOME!
The CR 17/MR 7 death coach comes with a reprint of the mythic Lightning Stance and receives an upgrade to its soul-collecting abilities that make them truly devastating; epic here: The mythic iteration can take a standard action at any point during its movement, and may take an additional one for mythic power expenditure. The coach also gets the ability to trample through targets of any size, with the chance to frighten those failing or foregoing their saves. Those struck cower (OUC) on a failed save, and protection from fear may end up being dispelled by such attacks. More than all of this, non-good creatures that have their soul collected may strike a bargain with death, fulfilling a quest in exchange for their souls…AWESOME. I adore this build. It makes the ghost carriage really work, is deadly, and oozes narrative potential, even at lower levels. Where was this critter when my main campaign was in Ravenloft?
The highest CR/MR creature herein would be the CR 19/MR 7 Nemhain, who gets some DR/epic for better staying power and the means to upgrade the SPs to their mythic iterations. Speaking of which: Will-saves vs. effects that deal positive energy damage? Those behave as though the critter had a specialized form of evasion. As a standard action, the nemhain may return to the location of their ritual objects, and the ritual object, if destroyed, repels the living, for one more chance. Oh, and the object may be fortified by the nemhain’s mythic powers. As a full-round action and for one mythic power, they may attack all creatures (up to Dexterity-modifier) that damaged her. Then, there would be the bound spirits ability: The Nemhain is surrounded by swirling cloud of spirits that may be directed as a swift action to attack within a 30-ft.-radius, and they can deliver harm and similar effects. These may also be sent forth as scouts, as a kind of impervious cloud – reminded me of my slaver of the damned design in a good way! While they share the nemhain’s space, they btw. net concealment and SR. I love how this high-level threat is all about resistance and striking incredibly hard – this fellow won’t be easy to slay!
Now, as always, the book does contain a totally new creature that doesn’t exist yet – this time around, that would be the lavishly-illustrated Cyhyraeth, a tragic and mighty incorporeal undead that clocks in at CR 15/MR 6. These spirits get rejuvenation, DR, and natural invisibility. The staves they wield threaten critical hits on 19-20, and on a critical hit, they may demoralize the targets. A target demoralized for more than one round cowers for 1 round, and the cyhyraeth may expend mythic power to prolong that. When striking a creature with their staff, they can expend mythic power to affect the target with fog cloud, save that only the target sees the fog! Nasty! As a move action, these spirits may release a tri-fold moan of demise; on a failed save, targets then hear the subsequent moans, even if deaf. The first moan also provides a debuff and increases damage taken from melee and ranged weapon attacks; the second moan further increases the penalty and also provides an increased threat range versus those affected by the moan, while the third moan causes death. The horrifying thing: Hearing a moan is permanent. Unless the creature is destroyed, the moans will keep their potency indefinitely – or unless removed with very high-powered mythic magic. When they cause fear or death, these spirits can call will-o’-wisps to their side, and 1/day, they can curse locations or vessels with deadly accidents – 50% chance on natural 1s to take damage. Oh, and yeah, they have a heart grip that may knock targets out – and yep, this may be used in conjunction with the staff… A glorious masterpiece of a critter here!
Editing and formatting are very good on a rules-language level, and almost very good on a formal level; I noticed no serious hiccups, but a few cosmetic ones are here. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the original artworks presented are pure awesome. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Mike Welham and Jason Nelson are both true masters of creature-design, and its shows in this book, it really does. While the archetype left me less than blown away (I’d rate that, on its own, probably somewhere in the 3-4-star vicinity), the creatures, and that should be made abundantly clear, are all killer, no filler. There is not one mythic build herein that I wouldn’t vastly prefer over the original creature. This hold particularly true for the high-level creatures that actually have a chance of standing against mythic heroes, that all can carry their own adventures. They made me flash back, in the best of ways, to all those years upon years of Ravenloft-campaigns I ran, made me really stoked to run some gothic horror. So yeah, the series ends with a huge BANG, and not with a whimper – 5 stars + seal of approval.
On a personal side: I can’t believe I’ve reviewed 50 of these books. Tempus fugit, indeed. Anyways, I wanted to write something about it: The Mythic Monsters-series has redefined what I dare to expect from creatures, and what I frankly want to see from creature design. It represents a paradigm-shift away from solely new combinations of math, feats and spells/SPs, towards the mythological roots of the creatures, or, where not applicable, towards creatures that are set apart by unique abilities that make them stand out. They provide narrative potential beyond being stuff to be hacked apart, and present us with a great fusion of powerful crunch-skills and the narrative demands of, you know, ROLEplaying. If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do so. Even if you don’t run mythic campaigns, your veteran players will enjoy the challenge these magnificent monsters provide. I will genuinely miss reviewing this series and am grateful for all the joy it has brought to my table. I raise my stein to all the talented designers that crafted this outstanding series! Here’s to you!
You can get these fantastic critters here on OBS!
Can’t get enough mythic monsters? The massive Mythic Monster Manual 2 can be found here!
For more mythic player-facing options, you should check out the Mythic Character Codex here!
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