Ronin Round Table: We Have a Bestiary. And it’s Advanced!

Over the next few weeks, print copies of the Advanced Bestiary are finally going to be getting into the hands of first, the Kickstarter backers, and then a wider audience. This is the first major d20 release for Green Ronin in a long time, and has been one of two things that have taken up most of my time since being brought on as the developer for Pathfinder-compatible Green Ronin projects almost a year ago. So having the book finished and in distribution represents a major milestone both for me, and for Green Ronin’s plans for Pathfinder-compatible content.

There are still some elements of this project being developed (the Hero Lab files, for example), but with the print book arriving in warehouses, a major stage of work is complete. The original Advanced Bestiary became one of the most popular third-party products for the previous versions of the game, and I have every reason to think the same will be true for our updated version. Now that people are beginning to get a look at the book, I wanted to take a moment to talk about it.

First I have to say, Jeffrey Hersh has done an amazing job on this book. Updating the original Advanced Bestiary to be fully Pathfinder compatible takes a lot more effort and expertise than might be obvious. It isn’t just a matter of being rules-savvy about changes between older game systems and Pathfinder—there are also conceptual differences between the games that have to be considered. For example, In the Pathfinder Bestiaries it’s explained that oni are spirits that take the form of various humanoids, including giants, resulting in the ogre mage and various giants such as the fire yai. That idea is noted in the entry for the giantblooded template along with guidance on how to handle the offspring of giant oni and yai. Similarly, the giantblooded template covers types of giants present in Pathfinder but not the older versions of the game, ensuring GMs looking for a way to represent creatures related to rune giants or slag giants have those options laid out for them.

It’s also important to note there are some major improvements in format over the original Advanced Bestiary, including the fact the book is more than 300 pages long. That gives considerable extra space that has been used to expand on the classic templates when necessary, and to present brand-new templates original to this volume. It’s also a full-color book, which obviously makes it more attractive to look at, and also more evocative in play. It’s not easy to clearly describe exactly how a shadow-traced creature and its traces would look, but a single color illustration shows the power’s visuals easily.

While many things have changed, I think to the improvement of the final product, the Advanced Bestiary‘s greatest asset remains. Rather than a set of static creatures that may or may not match the needs of a specific adventure, it offers options that can be used to modify any creature to work better in any context. The Advanced Bestiary is a toolkit of rules and ideas that makes all your other bestiaries more flexible. That’s why F. Wesley Schneider, the Editor-in-Chief of Paizo Publishing, said "Honestly, we wouldn’t have been able to tell the stories we wanted to tell in Pathfinder without the Advanced Bestiary."

I hope the new edition helps you tell the stories you want to tell!

— Owen K.C. Stephens