Riddle me this, dear reader: what’s the difference between something old, and something classic? I can’t quite describe it, but I suspect it’s one of those things where you know it when you see it. It’s that principle that makes Forgotten Foes, from Tricky Owlbear Publishing, such a great monster book – it’s a book of classic monsters brought up-to-date for the Pathfinder Role-Playing Game.
Of course, looking at the book’s pedigree, it’s kind of hard to imagine this book not being totally awesome. Written by Mark Gedak and Stefen Styrsky of the Grand OGL Wiki, with a stable of artists from Headless Hydra Games, and of course published through Tricky Owlbear, this book is at the center of a perfect storm of talent. It quite literally had to be just this good.
Just shy of two hundred pages long, Forgotten Foes brings over a hundred monsters to your Pathfinder game. I can’t quite say “new” monsters, because a significant majority of these creatures are ones who were mainstays of 3.5 who were subsequently abandoned during the Pathfinder changeover. Not all of these fall under that category, however, as there’s a handful that are from third-party 3.5 sources, also updated here. And I’m sure that a few totally new monsters are in here as well, though it’s difficult to be totally sure.
The book’s technical aspects do what they’re supposed to do. Full bookmarks are here, and the text allows for copying and pasting. Besides the front and back covers (which display some truly stunning pieces. I don’t know what that monster is on the front cover, but he’s one intimidating bastard), each monster has a black and white illustration (though shading is used far more often than not), something I was grateful for, since illustrations are very important for showcasing monsters. There’s also an alternating border on the side of the pages.
Most of the monsters in the book are given a single page all to themselves, though sometimes this rule is broken. Each has the usual combination of stat block and descriptive text, but as an added bonus there’s also a box showing what you learn about the creature on a specific Knowledge check; it’s one of those little extras that really make a difference. I should mention that the flavor text for the monsters is original, since in most cases the original source didn’t make that part Open Game Content to begin with.
One of the things that might not be obvious on the first read-through, it should be noted, is that the authors sometimes slipped in new additions or other changes to some monsters during the update to Pathfinder. The ravid, for example, now has some variants listed, in case you want a ravid that is more in tune with the life of nature and animates plants, for instance. Titans are mostly the same, but have the ability to assume the form of an elemental; an aspect of how, as near-divine beings, they’re connected to the primal elements of the universe. Little things like that are all over the place.
Of course, some things didn’t make the transition. The tojanida, for example, only has a single stat block, rather than three for younger and older incarnations of the creature. Similarly, it would have been nice to have seen variants on the half-dragon template for the sin dragons.
The book has several appendices, and while these cover the usual ways of breaking down the monsters (by type, by CR, etc.) there’s also a bit of new rules here as well. A new planar trait is given, in reference to a particular monster’s entry. Several new spells are presented, mostly because some monsters use them as spell-like abilities. Interestingly, ten pages are given reprinting the universal monster rules from the Pathfinder Bestiary. Presumably this was done for ease of reference.
Forgotten Foes is one of those books where, having read it, I’m honestly not sure how I was running a Pathfinder game without it. There’s so many monsters in here that were staples of 3.5, it’s shocking they haven’t been brought to Pathfinder before now – the bodak, the hellcat, the formians; it’s past due for them to make a comeback. Pick up Forgotten Foes and let your PCs know that the monsters that they once feared have followed them to Pathfinder.
[5 of 5 Stars!]