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Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane (PFRPG) $5.95
Average Rating:5.0 / 5
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Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane (PFRPG)
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Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane (PFRPG)
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Joshua G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/09/2012 12:20:27
Weighing in at 52 pages this PDF presents us with a core bestiary for the Shadowsfall setting, and one seriously twisted collection of critters. The page breakdown is as follows:
Covers, Front & Back: 1 page each
Blank pages: 2, 1 after front cover, and 1 before back cover
SRD, TOC: 1 page each
List of suitable monsters from other sources: 1 page, and an interesting idea to support core products in a very useful manner. Extremely helpful list for a GM.
Advertisement: 1 page, showcasing the Player's companion and Gazetteer for Shadowsfall
New Material: 30 pages of new or variant monsters
Appendices: 14 pages of variants, CR listings, universal rules, new feats, etc.
Formatting follows the standard dual column look for monster statblocks we've all come to know, with embedded artwork that ranges from really spectacular to OK. All interior artwork is B&W, with a few pieces of stock art that prove perhaps the stock pool needs to be replenished (I've seen a few of these pieces elsewhere, several times). Grammatically there were a few missteps, but nothing that couldn't be worked out for meaning quickly enough (i.e. Black work poison instead of Black worm poison or a racid stench for a rancid stench).
Now, before I go into detailing any of the creatures within this collection, I want to point out one of the cooler features of this book in my opinion. The creatures are presented with advice, words of wisdom if you will, from others who have encountered them. The inclusion of this really helps sell the immersion factor, and added a very cool factor to this book making it more than just another collection of monsters. There are also many, many references to pieces of literature detailing these creatures within the Shadowsfall setting, which I love, because it's another immersion technique, and a great way to introduce tomes to our players.
So, let's take a look at the beasties, shall we?
Black Worm: A colossal beast, think the shadow planes answer to the purple worm...on steroids....pissed. At a CR18 this monstrosity can swallow you, that town, and the hamlet on the other side of the river..whole....It's fricking huge, and has a breath weapon to boot. One seriously wicked worm folks.
Centaur Raav: A skeletal abomination built from the bones of a centaur and armed with bone spikes and blades protruding from its extremities, this is one seriously wicked looking creature.
Clawed Kadian: An interesting take on a ghost, the creature is a ghost who is still corporeal, with incorporeal attack options.
Darkling: Now this, this is how dark fey should be presented. The darkling actually accelerates its healing by licking the blood of its victims from its axe or claws....that's just so twisted. Well done.
Deathhand: The ferryman's personal hunting dogs, a deathhand would be the last thing you ever want to stumble across. Charged with collecting those who have tasted death, these are seriously dangerous opponents to have to face in combat. Also presented within this entry are several Deathhand Captains, while no stats are presented, more than enough adventure hooks and thoughts on their advanced nature is provided to use them easily enough.
Quake Dragon With how often we see a variant dragon show up in a new creature book, it is always a pleasure to find one that really is good, and manages to feel fresh and new without departing from the concept of what a dragon is. The quake dragon is presented with a full age progression chart, as well as a couple of full statblocks for various points in it's lifespan. A well thought out creature, with some interesting abilities, like Earth Glide – allowing it to essentially swim through earth, leaving no tunnel or trace of its passing.
Dread Gargoyle: A larger, more dangerous variety of the standard gargoyle with the ability to manipulate its own body to always have stones ready to throw.
Dull Mite: The shadowplane variant on the material plane's Mite, these little fey have been drained of their color, and have the ability to steal their targets, resulting in Charisma penalties.
Shadow Elemental: Detailing a standard as well as a range from small through huge, greater and elder, this entry gives you a total of 6 variations of this elemental.
Great Dodo: Gargantuan in size and pissed that your grandpa ate its cousins, this giant bird has a score to settle.
Headless Hunchback Skeleton: Both a standard and a champion variety are presented.
Helblar: 3 full statblocks for a standard, greater and champion are presented for this odd guardian of the dead and their resting places.
Kyton, Dermistide: Wrapped in bandages that it can control to grapple and flay its targets with, this particular kyton variant is twisted in it's sadism.
Kyton, Noxil: Only as large as a halfling, these wretches have their heads encased in a spiked harness whilst a pendulum blade hangs suspended from their necks.
Monkeybat: So, channeling their inner Oz, this creature not only satisfies those looking for winged monkeys, but goes that extra mile and gives us the adventure hook of the entire arrival of Dorothy (now renamed Dorhana Breeze). Liked the creature, would have liked it more without the over the top references to Baum's characters. It was strong enough to stand on its own, it really was.
Nightshade, Nightstalker: A commander of skeletal armies, this undead lion of shadow hunts the negative plane for the living.
Onyx Ooze: killing with a “cold acid”, the Onyx Ooze is a far more cunning predator than your standard ooze.
Phantasm Swarm: A collection of souls denied an eternal reward after death, this collective rages against religion, and those that serve it.
Psychopomp, Memitim: A collector of souls essentially, the memitim's purpose is to make sure that powerful souls pass on, and do not end up as undead.
Shade Anuran: A frog like race with an interesting ability to utilize the shadows around them.
Spectres: Stats presented for both a spawn and a lord, as are enough fluff to work two epic spectres into a campaign.
Spiderbear: Remember that spider you squished in the shower? Pray these never find out. All the abilities and poison of a giant spider merged with the power, strength and claws of a bear.....dear lord forgive us our spider squishing, we know not what we might be pissing off.
Starak: The ShadowPlane's answer to the Tarrasque, a colossal beast that sleeps for centuries, eats and demolishes nations, and is pretty much an all around bad ass. Add to that a deafening roar, and you have yourself a contender for that massave monster fight you've always wanted to stage (tarrasque vs. starak anyone?)
Unquiet Giant: Ok, I love me some undead, I do. But this feels like a template, not a monster. It's cool, it is, but in presenting it in this manner I am left wondering, if this is an undead giant, what race of giant was it before it died? What happened to those abilities it had in life?
Vampiric Tree: darting its targets with poison sap covered bark, this tree then “bites” into its prey with it's roots, draining them of their blood.
Appendix 1: Shadows - statblocks for variant shadows, who ever said shadows are only human?
]Appendix 2: Skeletons- variant skeletons, including the monkey and minotaur skeletons
Appendix 3: Zombies- variant zombies including a bulette, a basilisk and a gnome.
Appendix 4: Darkened Template- template to transform any creature into a being embraced by the realm of shadow. Example creatures include the Darkened Giant Centipede and Darkened Kraken.
Appendix 5: Universal Monster Rules- 4 pages detailing the universal abilities found within statblocks, helping to keep the statblocks more streamlined and clean looking by organizing all of this information together.
Appendix 6: Feats 1 ½ pages detailing the new feats scattered through statblocks throughout this PDF. Appendix 7: New Creature Subtypes- small paragraph covering the Shadow subtype.
Appendix 8: Creatures by CR- ½ page list

All in all, a fantastic collection of creatures. There are a few that did not grab me, and this is normal in a collection of this nature, as the standard right off the bat was set pretty high with the Black Worm, raising the stakes for all creatures after it. As a sourcebook for the Shadowsfall setting, this book is a must, but even without using this specific setting, this collection of creatures is a treasure trove of diabolical deliciousness. Giving this book a solid 5 stars rating, and highly recommending it to any and all GM's out there.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane (PFRPG)
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Dark M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/09/2012 11:22:50
Book of Beats: Monsters of the Shadow Plane by Jon Brazer Enterprises

This product is 52 pages long. It starts with a cover, ToC, OGL, and credits. (4 pages)

Monsters(39 pages)
It starts off with a list of monsters from the 3 Pathfinder Bestiary's that also fit the plane of shadow. There is 57 new monsters in this book so no way I can list them all. They range in CR from ¼ to 21, and they seem to be fairly evenly spaced out in CR ranges over that range. This includes the first four appendix's which included several types of shadows 5, skeletons 6, zombies 6 and a new Darkened Template with 4 monsters having it applied to them already. Below is a few of my personal favorites.
Darkling – evil fey that look wicked cool and are wicked cool. They can self heal by licking blood from their fey axe.
Deathand – think of them like soul stealing grim reapers.
Dull Mite – I love them just for one of their special abilities. Color steal, yes they drain the color from stuff and do Chr dmg. Gnomes of Pathfinder shake with fear.
Elemental Shadows – Something needed.
Great Dodo – It's a giant Dodo being shown eating a man, what more need I say?
Monkeybat – it is a monkeybat that flings … filth... your players will HATE them.
Nightstalker – a Shadow undead lion thing, that causes desecration and fear.
Onyx Ooze – A ooze long ago trapped on the plane of shadow and transformed and spawned a new race.
Phantasm Swarm – tiny undead swarm, one of the coolest monsters in the book.
Vampiric Tree – despite it's name it is just a tree that eats living things.

Appendix 5-8 (8 pages)
Appendix 5 is a copy of the universal monster rules. Six is copies of feats used by the monster within this book. Seven is a new subtype of monster the shadow subtype and Eight lists the the creatures by CR groups.

It ends with a ads and back cover. (3 page)

Closing thoughts. The art work is black and white and range from meh to pretty good. Editing and layout is very good. I didn't notice any errors at all. It is well bookmarked which is a big plus for a PDF this size. There is a whole host of varied and well done monsters, with new and interesting abilities, how they fit into the plane of shadow ecology, etc. While not all the monsters where great, there was very few bad ones and the vast majority where very good to outstanding. If this is the type of product we can expect from the rest of the line I really can't wait for it. I should note I am somewhat biased. I love the plane of shadow and have been looking forward to this book and the rest in the series since I heard about it. Plus I live there, so I am curious to see how well mere mortals get it right. So what's my rating? I am giving this a 5 star review. If you want monsters for the Plane of Shadows or more options from that plane then pick it up. You won't regret it.

Trust me, I'm a Succubus.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane (PFRPG)
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/31/2012 11:55:51
The first of the supplements for the upcoming Shadowsfall-prodcuts centered on the shadow plane, the latest Book of Beasts (the predecessor made it on my top-10-2011-list) is 52 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside the front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, 1 page ToC, 1 page containing suitable monsters from the core-books (nice support for the DM!), 1 page advertisement, 1 page blank inside back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving 44 pages of content, so let's check this out!

After the lists in the beginning, we are introduced to the first new beast, and glorious it is: The Black Worm (CR 18) is essentially the shadow plane-version of a purple worm, just...well...worse - add negative energy breath weapons, insane SR etc and you're in for a good example of what to expect from this book: While the beasts herein are thematically linked and shadow-plane-themed, they do feature massively different abilities from their prime material counterparts, if such exist. Also, each entry features a descriptive fluff of the beast and some text by one of the survivors or other players of the setting. The CR 7 Centaur Raav is an undead centaur with scyth-blades at the arms and bone-spikes protruding from their skeletal frames. While cool, the semi-incorporeal Clawed Kaidan (CR 9) features an aura of lethargy and feature not only a disturbing artwork, but also abilities to match and a neat weakness.

Truly disturbing and one of my favorites in this book is the (blandly named) CR 6 Darkling - Troll-like fey with an aura of silence, the ability to spray deadly snow and wicked stone axes - awesome creatures supplemented by a stellar b/w-artwork. The CR 17 Deathhands, hunters of Charon seeking to kill people who cheated death also make for a neat take on the Grim Reaper-trope. The Quake Dragons (3 sample stats) are also a neat new creature and actually a kind of dragon that does add something to the draconic family. Dread Gargoyles, essentially CR 10 more badasss gargoyles, are the first creature that somewhat fell short for me personally, in spite of its disturbing ability to form the stone of their own body. Then, there are the Dull Mites (CR 2), shadow plane versions of the mites that can steal your colors! Of course, we also get shadow elementals, rather tricky customers (6 statblocks) and while there's nothing bad about them, they fall terribly short of the...

GREAT DODO (CR 7)! Yep, you read right, there are still giant dods on the plane of shadows and they subconsciously know that your ancestors have hunted them to extinction on the prime material, thus making them even more ferocious and fueling their rage of extinction. Fast, deadly, cool and a little bit silly, the Great Dodo is a prime example of stellar monster design. For those discerning liches who are truly equal-opportunity, we get 2 stats for hunchbacked skeletons and then there are the Helblar (3 statblocks) - these undead guardians of the graveyards adhere to special ethics and woe to any who disturb their chosen fields....

On the iconic and truly disturbing side of things, we get two new kinds of Kytons -the CR 11 Dermestide (who skins foes alive and wears the straps like a mummy) and the CR 1 Noxil Kyton, who wears a spiked head mask and a heavy pendulum blade attached to it, forever suffering under its weight - very cool idea and features a unique fighting style - especially awesome for a CR 1 creature - they feel wholly distinct from any regular creatures of the same CR. Kudos!
The shadowplane is not Oz, yet there are Monkeybats (CR 1/4) as well and the filth is both a carrier for diseases and a great component for wizards. Not so great for wizards (or any other living being) is the new Nightstalker (CR 12), a lion-like Nightshade of black flames that heals via inducing fear while it leads its undead armies. The Onyx ooze (CR 8)on the other hand is a rudimentary intelligent predator that will make your PCs double-check any source of water.
The Phantasm Swarm, a conglomerate of dissolved souls forever barred from the afterlife (CR 12) seeks to wreck its vengeance on any priests and pietous characters (and comes as an undead swarm with an awesome artwork). The new Memitim Psychopomp (CR 14, I still can't get over the creature class-name - not the fault of this book, though) is a kind of reaper-angel that tries to escort powerful beings into the afterlife. When compared with this array of awesome beings, the CR 3 Shade Aurans, amphibious frog-like humanoids fall somewhat short, but this is offset a bit by two new statblocks on spectres and information on legendary spectres of the Shadowsfall.

Grognards like yours truly get a nice blast from the past/homage in the form of the Spiderbear, a CR 9 magical beast that had me remember Mishka and his dread demons. The CR 19 Starak is not even a bit cute - a class of legendary beasts, their control of the earth itself makes them for dragon-strength foes below the surface - very cool. The Unquiet Giant (CR 13) has a nice twist on the trope of the undead giant: They rhyme while squishing foes! While the idea is cool, I have some problems with this creature: a) I think it should have been a template. b) Been there, done that - x times. c) with exactly that (admittedly gorgeous) artwork - I've seen it 5 (!!!) times in different publications - we need a new undead giant artwork out there! The final creature of the pdf is the vampiric tree, an iconic CR 10 blood draining, voracious part of the flora that ensures that going to the deep dark forest is nothing to laugh about - they stun you via bark darts and then pummel you into submission to ram their blood-draining, fang-like roots into your body - ouch!

The appendices provide ample additional undead for your campaign, i.e. 5 different shadows (including a titan centipede shadow!), 6 sample skeletons, 6 sample zombies, the darkened template (CR +1), 4 sample creatures and for your convenience's sake, reprint some universal monster rules and monster feats as well as the rules for the shadow subtypes and a list of creatures by CR.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches, which is quite a feat over so many pages. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard that features awesome artworks - kudos to the participating artists. The pdf is extensively bookmarked, adding to the usability of the book and the overall organization of the content is awesome. The bits and pieces of information on the settings, specific individuals/advanced creatures etc. made me anticipate more books from the line and the overall standard of the critters, their signature abilities and sheer iconic qualities has baffled me - while there were 3 creatures that felt like falling a bit short of the standard of the book, said standard is so high that this was to be anticipated. In fact, I was rather baffled that this book turned out not to be another selection of easily exchangeable undead/dark creatures, but rather contains a wealth of cool creatures and ideas. If I had to voice one gripe I have with this book, then it would be that it does not include hazards and sample NPCs like its predecessor, but I gather that's because of the other books in the line. Thus, I look forward to seeing more supplements for the plane of shadows and, taking the more than fair price into account, remain with a final verdict of 5 stars and a definite recommendation for this excellent bestiary.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane (PFRPG)
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Alfred B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/31/2012 10:34:34
Dale and Jon Brazer Enterprises put together an excellent product every time and this is no exception. Monsters of the Shadow Plane is a great first step into the world of Shadowsfall or just the Plane of Shadows itself. The monsters here are balanced and represent a wide range of CR’s so any GM will find a good use for this book. If you are interested in running your players through a Plane of Shadows adventure or maybe just mixing up the standard bestiary line-up, this is the book for you.

Read my full review here: http://www.thealfredeffect.com/?p=879

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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