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Classic Monsters Revisited – Pathfinder Chronicles Review

March 8, 2012

Pathfinder seems to have it’s own distinct style when it comes to monsters. The recent Pathfinder Battles miniature line recently brought these iconic creatures to the game mat, but Paizo has been writing about toothy watermelon-headed goblins for years. Classic Monsters Revisited in the Pathfinder Chronicles series came out in 2008, but is still an excellent resource for looking at very common foes in a whole new light.

Reading down the table of contents of this book is like a greatest hits album of monsters that, if you’ve ever spent any time playing DnD or Pathfinder, you’ve encountered these guys more times than you can remember: Goblins, Hobgoblins, Bugbears, Gnolls, Kobolds, Lizardfolk, Ogres, Orcs, Trolls, and Minotaurs. Unlike a typical monster manual, that list is a complete list of all the monsters in this 63 page book. This book isn’t geared towards someone looking for a complete creature catalog, or a casual GM who just sketches out a map on some graph paper, fills it with some baddies, rolls on a random treasure table and calls it good. Not that there is anything wrong with that. This book is made for GMs who want to know how hobgoblins organize themselves in their society, or that a bugbear lives to cause terror, as the scent of fear has narcotic effects on them. This is for GMs who want to throw a twist or two at their players.

All the common creatures in this book have general background information, but it goes so much deeper than a blurb in a monster manual ever could. For each creature there are several paragraphs not only providing a physical description of the average specimen, but their habitat and societal structure, as well as their typical role in a campaign, what treasure they would likely have, dangerous variants, and where they would be found in Golarion. Of course, if you don’t play in Golarion it will still give you an idea of the climate and general environment in which you could place them in whatever world you adventure in.

This is a fantastic resource for low-level campaigns, especially for veteran GMs and players. The variants of common monsters can bring a certain amount of mystery to even the most grizzled, campaign-proven adventurers; and the section on campaign role and ecology of the monsters is a sure-fire cure for GM writer’s block. This is a great book, and the first of a series of “revisited” titles by Paizo. This one is a keeper.

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