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Aventyr Bestiary
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Aventyr Bestiary
Publisher: AAW Games
by Debra L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/20/2016 01:11:08

Disclaimer: I was a backer on the Kickstarter for this project so I had rather high hopes for this product.

The Aventyr Bestiary states it is a 3.5 OGL and Pathfinder Compatible Product. It is a Pathfinder Product and OGL Compliant but it does not contain dual statistics.

One of the things I really like is that the Table of Contents is linked so you can click and go right to the creature. A+ for that.

The artwork is eyecatching though a tad cartoonish. That's just subjective opinion so if you love the artwork, I'm not going to burst your bubble.

Editing is less than stellar. That said, I'm still rather impressed with the variety of creatures.

I really wanted to like the Icons but Extraplanar is used far too often: It is listed as Climate/Environment AND Twice as Type/Subtype. For Climate/Environment, I would call it Planar so that there is less confusion. .For Type/Subtype, I think the second one was meant to be Outsider. It has the lighter blue circle. Air is also listed as an Environment and as Subtype. I much would have preferred Sky to Air for Environment. Sadly Marsh/Swamp has no icon. (Note the Half-Fiend Dryad may have that icon but it isn't listed). You have a few monsters that could use that. No icon is listed for Ruins/Dungeons for that matter.

What is the Fungus Type or is it a Subtype? There is an icon but no explanation and it is not in the PRD.

I noticed the Augmented Subtype was missing (this is important because I think it was needed for the Fleshdoll Rogue and is lacking though I will comment on that later). While there is an Evil Icon, there is no corresponding Good one. I don't know if this was done on purpose or just an oversight. You have Psionic as a Subtype in a few places but no corresponding Icon. Last of all, there is no Shapechanger icon.

Most of the creatures seem to comply with the standard rules, but I have neither the tiime nor inclination to crunch all the numbers. Suffice to say, unless something jumps out at me, I'm going to presume the stat blocks are correct.

Unique creatures aren't just Solitary. If there is only one of its kind, that should be noted (Exsangunator for example)

Now for the Nit Picks:

Creatures should not have Two Types unless one is an Augmented Type see Elemental Drake and Fleshdoll Rogue. Note: you need to list whch traits they keep and which they lose somewhere, because of conflicts. Immunities should still be listed individually not just as Construct and Undead traits as per Fleshdoll. DMs want the information at their fingertips and don't want to have to look that stuff up.

Creatures do "points of" damage not just a type of damage.

What gives with all the creatures that you couldn't be bothered to add an "s" to make plural. I find this to be just sheer laziness (not to mention it enables illiteracy).

The avatar of Alkumuoto doesn't have a plane of existance listed in Environment. Should an Evil aligned plane at least.

Why does the Biddlytree speak Druidic instead of Sylvan? Druidic is a secret language.

Chicken Coop is a Construct (and no mention of Baba Yaga even) but the Construction section is missing.

The Dark Angel is a wholly wasted Subtype in my not so humble opinion. You could have said this was an evil angel and or at least noted which special abilities are granted by the Subtype. "Subtypes add additional abilities and qualities to a creature." This new subtype is rather lackluster and lackng.

Elemental Drake has two Types. It looks like it should be the Dragon Type with Extraplanar and Native subtypes.

The Draaki has the Graldin Breath Weapon special ability that could have just been noted as Breath Weapon. The phrashing is confusing since it just seems to do fire damage.

Exsanguinator's Ecology section is missing.

Fleshdoll Rogue is all sorts of Confusing: Male Human Fleshdoll Rogue 5. Okay. But then how is it a Construct AND Undead as both are Types? Also, it doesn't need any of the Undead immunities since they are all covered under the Construct immunities. I'd like to see Construction section on this too.

On the other hand, the Forstdeath Dragon is a proper Undead. Sadly, these undead dragons lose their breath weapons entirely.

Fungiant is another favorite of mine. The trunk of a mushroom is properly called a "stipe." Yes, that is particularly nit picky.

Funglet is another Two Type creature. It looks like this is just an Intelligent Plant that happens to have a humanoid appearance. I'd just leave it as a Plant Type and lose the Humanoid Type. Plants are immune to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, morale effects, patterns, and phantasms). Immunity to paralysis, poison, polymorph, sleep effects, and stunning. What are those Subtypes (audire, funglet)? They should be noted somewhere or at least note some source where they can be found. You completely wasted an advertizing goldmine by not putting the book where this is in the OGL section. How do you think people find these books?

Gitwerc are a nice addition though it would have been nice to have dweorg too since the two are so closely related. And why isn't your book that has those listed in the copyright notice? This is exactly how people find your products because they are listed in your other books.

Goemul's deadspeech ability notes speak with dead, which as a spell should be in italics (really nit pickiing here).

Libreum is also spelled as Liberum. Which one is correct?

The grizzly bear rug is terrific and another one of my favorites as it can be used in many settings. I want this to be a magical beast however. A druid made it after all. Why is this as strong as normal grizzly bear since it is so much thinner? About 1/4 the weight of a male grizzly. Also, grizzly bears have a racial modifier to Swim, which is lacking but not noted so it appears to be a mistake. See here: http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/bestiary/bear.html#bear-grizzly

Are gyeongsa warpstorms affected by natural or summoned weather?

I also am quite fond of the Ireful Hellion. A devil that is chaotic. It should retain its Lawful Subtype however even if its alignment is Chaotic. See Lawful Subtype.

I'm also fond of the Hordenheim riot. Thank you for acknowledging where you bend the rules.

Hoyrall warrior is another with two Types. Just because it is humanoid in shape doesn't make it Humanoid. This should just be an aberration.

Jinn Wizards are a bit of a misnomer since they aren't actual wizards at all and don't cast spells. They probably should have the Psionic Subtype since you have the icon for it.

Karz slug and Karz slug queen should also have Psionic subtype since you have an Icon for it. They may also have a Swamp Icon that isn't in the Icon list.

Should kra’tah have Underground icon since it isn't listed in their environments?

Mortdravva is not only Solitary but also seems to be Unique (see Organization).

If mutah can breathe air, then they should not have the Aquatic subtype. Just because a creature lives in an aquatic environment doesn't mean it has to have the Aquatic Subtype.

Naghith also seems to be Unique (See Organization)

Necro-pede's Psychic Vampire ability contains no game mechanics. How long does it take to feed and what happens to the victim it feeds off? Should there be a saving throw for example?

Nitnam also seems to be a Unique creature.

Nogth Ma’klurl’uth also appears to be a Unique creature. Madness Within ability has singular/plural issue. In the stat block the creature is an it (no gender is given) but in the flavor text the creature is noted as HE. Also, the drow witch is female. You should probably clarify this mystery.

Ollphéist should be Magical Beast not Animal as it has an Intelligence of 5.

I'm not sure why Petrous has the elemental subtype: Elementals do not need to breathe, eat or sleep. No elemental immunities are listed. The text contradicts the subtype.

Phoso are kinda slow for their size at 40 ft., even with that many legs.

Pubo should be magical beasts not animals as they are naturally psionic.

Rellum the correct subtype is extraplanar not outsider. Outsider is a Type. Environment should list its home plane.

Snow Roc's Icy Gust probably shouldn't be a free action as it is a supernatural attack. That means that a target can take damage from its Icy gust and from its normal attacks in the same round. It should be a standard action otherwise it seems overpowered.

Rufidier should probably have an "s" as a plural. Also, free actions should not be attacks. Flame gout should be a standard action.

Rust mite swarm is bound to piss off a lot of players. I see this as a Deus Ex Machina to get inappropriate items away from PCs.

I'm not sure I understand the purpose of the salt worm's regenerating maw. Why would it ever lose its maw in the first place? Methinks it needs to be rewritten for clarity. What wound is regenerating? See your other gaping maw ability in Szaboans,

Screaming Severed Skulls melee attack should read 1d2 plus 1 cold. Don't take shortcuts with + signs. I'm not sure why it has a slam attack instead of a bite since it has no limbs. Does it ram its skull into you?

Why should an incorporeal shadow rat be able to bite a corporeal foe, even if it's just to allow a bite that does only Strength damage? That's pretty harsh for a CR 1 encounter. It can immobilize a level one party in an hour. I see a TPK here.

Shield Wardens should have their home plane listed in Environment or at least any lawful plane. What a boon if the party can get this kind of help!

Sigbin have the potential to be a TPK as well. I assume Negative is negative energy damage in the damage. That doesn't see intuitive but I'm willing to let it pass. The party isn't likely to have any items that bypass negative energy damage so this is a bit tougher than would be expected.

Skildpadder(s) should probably be magical beasts rather than animals considering they're the offspring of bulettes.

Cold Mutated Ogre Spiders are a mouthful to say the least. Not a fan of the name.Does this imply that there are other ogre spiders that aren't cold or mutated?

Giant legwater spiders aren't all that swift as they only move 30 ft., which is standard for a medium sized creature. The walking on water thing is just gonna get it called Jesus Spiders. You know that right?

A sloth spider with a hasted burst. Oh, the irony.

That's some black pudding, just saying. I guess there is no real Stone Salve-Shaped Template; pity.

Riding slug? Ewww. Also death from above when it drops on you. How much do these weigh? See falling damage.

Tri-Tongue Horror source material isn't listed in Copyright section. At least you cite to it.

Do ethereal and incorporeal creatures have a diminished sense of smell? See Veinar.

Vestraadi subtype text is missing.

Waspite should do electricity damage not electric damage.

Zvucni (really isn't that pronounced zucchini?). It is NOT an ooze. It's an aberration.

Zwerc.Again with the double Types. It looks like it should be Fey (augmented humanoid, dwarf, zwerc). Again reference to dweorg.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Aventyr Bestiary
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/21/2016 09:13:54

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive bestiary clocks in at 148 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 143 pages of content, one of which is devoted to the cover artist Raven Mimura's biography as well as the story behind the cover.

This book, just so you know it, is dedicated to Joshua Gullion, KTFish7, fellow reviewer, colleague and friend - he always did champion a bestiary for AAW Games' Aventyr setting and I does warm my heart to see this dream realized. In particularly since Aventyr's critters, from humble A03 onwards, have been a defining staple of the setting. The crab-like Kra'tah that haunted the Vikmordere burial ground is but one of the creatures found within this book alongside new variants of the evocative monstrosity.

So yes, beyond simply being a massive collection of monsters can also be seen as a kind of "best of" of what has come out of creature-design for the Aventyr-setting - the evocative underworld races introduced under their own product line have representations here, from the crystalline colliatur to the alien funglets and the related creatures, they find their representations within this book. We can find deep badgers with the respective animal companion stats and classics like the delightfully disturbing NITNAM from classic A09, a gigantic blob of flesh, a parasite-like infection of flesh on a wizard's tower, can be found herein as well.

Each of the monsters is codified via an easy to use monster icon key that depicts the climate in which the monster can be found as well as types and subtypes via pretty self-explanatory glyphs - though, as one nitpick pertaining the layout, the borders of these icons could be cleaner/sharper in the pdf-version.

So, this would cover the basics - but what beyond them? Well, there is a certain truth in the old saying that a campaign setting's monsters somewhat define a given world and system. One of the reasons that drew me to Pathfinder back when I bought #1 of RotRL was the take on goblins - the fact that they were evocative and different. The themes evoked in the book, from the Jersey devil-like Sandpoint Devil to some encounters all provided a mature theme I preferred to that of almost all official WotC-modules and inclusion of themes from the Dark Tapestry and ever more twists on the familiar tropes ultimately did their fair share in ensuring I'd stay with Pathfinder as my default system.

A world's monsters very much define its tone, a crucial component for any fantasy gaming setting: Introduce enough goofy creatures and the whole setting feels lighthearted; introduce enough grimdark elements and it similarly becomes rather dark. But beyond that, creature-design for setting bestiaries very much requires, at least in my book, a feeling of cohesion. Ultimately, my main measure for setting based bestiaries would be the fact that a bestiary like this needs to evoke a cohesive identity via its creatures between the lines - to succeed here, we require a sense of the down-to-earth baseline for a given world in the animals and plants. The aventyr bestiary does provide the like, with subterranean boars called vvors, svirfneblin riding slugs (!!!)...and then there would be skildpadders. Scandinavians may already glean at what these creatures precisely are, the name translating to tortoise - but the creature itself is massive. Skildpadders in the context of Aventyr are giant bulette-tortoises, used as elephant-on-speed-like beasts of burden by the dwarves, with howdahs and the like...and yes, they are damn dangerous and ravenous...but mere words do an insufficient job in describing the impact this creature had on my. Build-wise, it may not be the most evocative one, but the almost two-page-filling, massive artwork of this beast and the iconic nature of the concept adds a whole level of ideas to the game: I can see these titans making their way through the gigantic subterranean landscapes of the underworld, with their crews defending caravans of the gigantic beasts against the numerous threats below the surface. Images like this are truly fantastic in the best of ways and provide a unique sense of consistency to the world.

Another of my favorites would be the Szaboan: Think of a colossal crab with mantis-shrimp-like, scintillating coloring and two surprisingly cute rabbity-looking "ears" as feeler and red eyes...above a gigantic, all-consuming lamprey-like mouth, large enough to swallow whole houses, with rows upon rows of churning teeth? Yeah...at once cute and creepy...I love it.

Similarly, no (A)D&D/d20-based bestiary would truly be complete without an odd hybrid creature and this bestiary does offer such beings; as an example, I'd like to mention the Stegaloviper - at CR 7, this Huge foe is a disturbing cross of viper and centipede, with a massive, stegalodon-like club as its tail - think of a titanic rattle-snake that can bludgeon you to death with her rattle, while also have Alien-like mandibles in the gaping maw and insectoid legs on the underside of its belly. I almost expected this creature to feature in one of the classic, beloved Chronicles/Savage Sword of Conan-comics. Speaking of which - the builds of such fantastic creatures that breathe a certain sense of the unique can also be seen in the variants of fantastic spiders, with the CR 11 sloth spider and its lethargic aura and slime coating rendering it pretty powerful - but its stone carapace does render it staggered...until it erupts in devastating bursts of speed. Finally, the alien and tentacled Veinar, somewhere between Lovecraftian horror and plant-like aberration certainly should make fans of sword & sorcery tropes grin with glee.

Rust mites would also be pretty cool and certainly a creature PCs and players alike will come to hate: After all, how do you make rust monsters novel and nastier? Bingo. Make them a swarm. Speaking of magical vermin - chikfari would be grasshopper-like predators with devastating kicks. One of my own favorites, though, would be the dread karz - carnivorous slugs with bony protrusions , the ability to psionically lure in foes and a coating of poisonous, paranoia-inducing slime. And yes, before you ask: Salt does help. One component of this bestiary I personally very much enjoy is that the creatures herein often feature reward-mechanisms for smart groups to exploit, emphasizing creativity over just rolling the dice and comparing math.

There are also some truly weird monsters in this book that very much feel like they could have been picked from the pages of the mythology of our very own world: Take the Sigbin, for example: The winged predator with its black/red-striped fur, claws and goat's head, it has sleep-toxin coated spines, is infused with the essence of shadow and can grapple and pin shadows of those that run afoul of it. The three variants of the shield warden, spanning CRs from 7 to 18 would be the creatures featured on the cover - and they are similarly feeling like they belong, though here, the analogue one can find would be with the tropes and concepts of the magical guard, the superb security and guardian. What about constructs that resemble weird crosses between chickens and houses?

Speaking of constructs: What about sentient, psionic asteroids with gravity fields? And yes, the book also features golems galore - Two variants of book golems, the lavishly-rendered totem golem (one of the coolest creatures in the book with a ton of unique tricks), mosaic tile golems or spells/power points-leeching constructs...and more. On a less positive note, there is a rendition for a mob as aswarm herein - when that one was originally released, there was not yet a troop subtype, but conversion into it wouldn't have hurt the mob. Still, that issue extends to only one adversary herein.

However, as any good setting-specific bestiary acknowledges, there are also some threats that are, well, pretty much unique threats; bosses. This book also features those - a force of nature, the feral titan called Mortdravva (CR 22), for example. Noght Ma'klurl'uth the Madness Slug; or the insectoid, devilish titan called Naghith, the many-winged father, worshipped and feared by primitive tribes. The artworks for some of the adversaries herein are simply stunning, with the latter being a prime example for pure greatness. What about the Rellum, a gargantuan CR 24 ooze and incarnation of pure, destructive chaos?

The book also features no less than 6 templates, from the gorgeously rendered Colliatur monstrosity to the HEL-creature to making titanic versions of standard critters, the templates offer for neat customization options.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, particularly for a book of this size. Layout adheres to a gorgeous two-column full-color standard, though, at least in the pdf, it could be a bit sharper. The book sports a huge array of artwork: Avid fans of 3pp-supplements may recognize a few of the artworks from previous releases, but the new ones truly shine, with several absolutely superb pieces that immediately grab your attention. The book also features several really big, one-page renditions...in short: This is a beautiful book. A very beautiful book. The pdf-version comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Now I don't (yet) own the print of this book, but I am sure as HEL going to get it - my print copies of Snow-White and Rise of the Drow are simply gorgeous and the smaller AAW Games-releases similarly are aesthetically pleasing....so yeah. If you can and prefer print, go for the premium paper-version. Worth it.

Mike Myler, Jonathan G. Nelson, Michael Allen, Curtis Baum, Wolfgang Baur, Brian Berg, Adam Daigle, Jeff Gomez, Joshua Gullion, Jacob Kellog, Jared Jeanquart, Juan Lucha, Justin Andrew Mason, Jonathan McAnulty, Michael McCarthy, Raven Mimura, Brian Wiborg Mønster, Will Myers, Jason Nelson, Owen K.C. Stephens, Colin Stricklin, Cory Wickruck, Stephen Yeardley - notice something in this list of authors? Yep, this is a veritable who is who of not only the gifted authors in the cadre of AAW Games, it also features some of the biggest names in third party publishing - and it shows.

The Aventyr Bestiary is a great book brimming with imagination and truly unique ideas - whether you want a fix of sword-and-sorcery-esque themes, strange horrors or simply cool animal-like creatures, the book breathes a sense of the fantastic. More surprising, though, is that it retains, in spite of the breadth it covers, in spite of the various voices of designers herein, a sense of cohesion and consistency. Reading this book, you can't help but slowly get a feeling for the world of Aventyr, one that extends beyond the confines of individual monster entries. It's subtle; it's, in fact, almost imperceptible...but it's here. A feeling of everything coming together, of a fantastic world that feels different from others; by virtue of its creatures and the themes they provide. The presence of what one could consider "puzzle foes" in the book similarly is something I cherish and quite a few creatures in this book made me go "Damn, this one could carry a whole adventure!" and then start brainstorming.

This, to me, is testament of the quality and imaginative potential this offers. At the same time, though, you should be aware of the fact that rabid fans of Aventyr will see some old acquaintances here: If you, like me, own a majority of AAW Games' output, you'll encounter quite a few of the best-of critters featured in the respective modules. These tend to be winners and evocative indeed, mind you, but it is still something to bear in mind. Format-wise, this book very much adheres to the bestiary-formula championed by Paizo, which means that this book is mainly crunch - so, if you want extensive background information beyond a few paragraphs, you may gnash your teeth a little. Then again, I'd truly love to see extensive and detailed ecologies and modules depicting a lot of these creatures, so consider me wanting to know more about them testament of how damn evocative they ultimately are.

How to rate this...see, this is where it becomes a bit difficult for me. As a person, I absolutely adore this book. It features some of my favorite non-mythic critters in ages. As a reviewer, I had to nitpick a bit, as you've read above...but honestly, it's been a while since I've read a bestiary of this size with this much soul, a book of monsters that made me envision a fantasy world that, by virtue of their very existence, behaves differently from other fantasy settings...and this is a huge deal for me. If you already own the majority of AAW Games' catalogue, you'll get a bit less mileage out of this book, but the vast majority of the new critters more than makes up for this...and hence, after long and careful deliberation, I will ward this book the full five stars + seal of approval. There is simply too much awesomeness in these pages. If you thought even once "Heck yes!" regarding the monster-concepts I mentioned above, you'll probably sit before this book with a broad grin on your face. I know I am.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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