By and large I’m a fan of Pathfinder, but even I have to admit that they missed out on some things. Even overlooking the quagmire that is the debate of what should or shouldn’t have been tweaked, some things just seem like a missed opportunity, with Knowledge tables for what characters know about monsters being one of them. After all, that’s been pretty well integrated into the D&D game over the last several years, so why it was ignored here is beyond me. Of course, Paizo’s oversight is 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming’s opportunity, and thus we have the latest in the GM’s Aid Series: Pathfinder RPG Monster Knowledge Cards.
For those who don’t know (and didn’t read the product page before clicking on this review), this product is a PDF where each page has several cards, one for each monster. Each card has an escalating list of Knowledge DCs, and making a check at or above the listed DC grants you the listed information about a monster, along with all of the information for lower DCs as well. Thus, you don’t need to worry about trying to administer what your characters do or don’t know in-game about the various foes they meet.
That said, I went into this product slightly skeptical. I had the Monster Knowledge Cards for the “normal” 3.5 monsters, and I was wary of this being a reprint. Oh me of little faith. 4 Winds has gone through and not only made sure this is specific to the monsters in the Pathfinder Bestiary (as well as the Bonus Bestiary – a supplementary collection of about a dozen monsters not in the main Bestiary – which was a nice touch) but made sure to retool the listed information to match what’s in the Bestiary, rather than just leave it the same as for the 3.5 versions of monsters. This collection of cards is thus specific to the monsters of Pathfinder.
Of course, there were a few small complaints I had. For example, the introduction lists what monster types match with what Knowledge skill subsets; they still list Giant and Elemental as specific types, when in fact Pathfinder downgraded them both to subtypes. Moreover, there’s a general suggestion that misinformation should be given on a natural 1 result for a Knowledge check, but it doesn’t supply what this misinformation should be, something I’d hoped they’d include this time around.
Of course, those problems aren’t really problems, as they don’t affect the usefulness of the cards, which remain a nigh-essential tool for helping to encourage character-knowledge rather than player-knowledge. In fact, I’ll go one step further and say that I consider these to be virtually essential parts of using the Pathfinder Bestiary – this really should have been part of the book, and I’m glad 4 Winds has provided DM’s with the tools to help integrate information about Pathfinder monsters into their game worlds.
[5 of 5 Stars!]