Tome of Monsters is a new Pathfinder RPG book from 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming full of new (and old) monsters. The product is a 118 page pdf document, containing more than 120 monsters and monster variants to terrorise and surprise players with. The presentation of the product is very good, and very well organised. I was pleased with the tables provided to make monster selection easier (by CR or type, for example) and the general layout and monster format, particularly the references to the real worlds origins of the monsters. The artwork ranges from brilliant to rather mediocre, but at least every monster has a picture to enhance the written description. Writing and editing are good, and some of the monster descriptions really come to life when reading them.
My first impressions of the product were very favorable. The first monsters were very unique, contained excellent write-ups and background details, and the artwork was catching. I particularly like the details on the origins of the monster concepts as it related to the real world, which at times made for fascinating reading. As I progressed through the product I couldn't help shaking the feeling that this product was in places scraping the bottom of the barrel. Many monster books had been released previously for the OGL and I'll be the first to admit that coming up with new monsters concepts is hard, so while the product has many fascinating monsters it also has a lot of filler monsters that aren't particularly unique and only subtly different from existing monsters. Animals such as rabbits, squirrels and robins spring to mind, but also water cats, more troll or drake variants and the variety of winged and flying animals. A winged template could cover half a dozen monsters easily in this product, and while it's nice to have more animal familiars like squirrels or peacocks, I'd rather see more interesting monsters that can challenge the characters. With this is mind, quite a proportion of the product isn't particularly useful.
Having said all that, the product does contain plenty of the good stuff with some rather excellent selections. It would be remiss to ignore the creative talents of the product's many authors in creating some nice creatures supported by good artwork. The collection of fey is particularly good, and also some of the obscure real world creations that I'm fairly sure are seeing the light for the first time in a monster book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading many of the write-ups which contain plenty of detail and background. In places plot hooks would literally jump out of the page while reading a monster description. Challenge ratings range from 1/8 to 18, providing a wide range of challenges, and indeed all the various creature types are covered in roughly equal measure is well.
Tome of Monsters is a good monster book, though perhaps the selection of creatures that made the cut could've been improved to include more unique and interesting creatures while leaving out the more mundane or subtle variant monsters which are really just minor reskins of existing monsters. That said, it's a book for both GMs and players, as both will find plenty of inspiration and utility from its pages. Good product, some fantastic art, dozens of creative monsters and good imaginative writing.
[4 of 5 Stars!]