I picked up the new Pathfinder RPG Monster Codex PDF a little while ago, so I thought I would talk about it a bit as we didn’t have a session this past weekend.
The title, Monster Codex, is so similar to the NPC Codex that a comparison is one of the first things that comes to mind with this new book in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game range. While there are definite similarities, the Monster Codex is, in my opinion, even more useful to me as a game master.
There are twenty common monster races covered in the Monster Codex, from boggards to fire giants to goblins and ghouls and vampires (although vampires are technically a template). Each race is given a full page description, providing a bit of insight into the monster’s history and society. Then there are a few pages of new rules, from new archetypes to new alternate class features, oracle curses and feats, and more, each customised to the current race – so while goblins have a new oracle curse and witch hex, gnolls instead have new archetypes and feats. There is also some new equipment specific to each monster type.
After the race description and new options is the really good stuff (for me at least): 6-10 character builds for each monster race. These cover a range of CRs and classes, including classes from the Core Rulebook, the Advanced Player’s Guide, and even Ultimate Magic and Ultimate Combat (sadly I didn’t spot any classes from the Advanced Class Guide). Many of the builds make use of archetypes from these products as well. Each page features artwork of one of the builds, ranging from good art to great art (I particularly like the orc art). The builds are generally what you would expect from a given race, from common scouts and fighters to spellcasters, priests and tribal leaders.
Each race also has an associated new monster, whether it’s vampire spawn or the bugbear’s frightful haunter. These are a nice bonus, as relevant new monsters are always welcome. After the new monster is an encounters page, which lists a variety of encounter groups representing monsters from the given race that are likely to be found together. This is particularly handy as it allows GMs to throw together tribes, gangs or groups of scouts that would logically be encountered together and have an appropriate challenge rating.
As a game master, this feels like the book I’ve been waiting for: monsters I can pick up and use immediately in a game. With the Monster Codex, I can build more interesting encounter groups and keep low-level monsters relevant for a few more levels. The new builds and artwork alone are worth the $9.99 PDF price tag to me. While I would have been happy to pay $39.99 for the physical book, I can see the PDF getting more use at my gaming table.
I highly recommend this book to game masters who are looking for some fresh versions of old favourites to drop into their games. I know I’ll be making use of the Monster Codex in my next game.