Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pathfinder Bestiary: Petrification & Dragons

I recently launched a Pathfinder RPG campaign. I highly recommend the game if you liked D&D 3.5 - I know that some folks consider it D&D 3.75. I still catch myself calling it Dungeons & Dragons. 

In my first post, I mentioned that I had purchased the game's Bestiary as a PDF. I liked it so much, that I had to get my hands on an actual hard copy through the local gaming store. I don't bring the laptop to the gaming table too much and I tire of printing stuff, especially if I just need a quick flip reference. 

Paizo really got the Bestiary right. I expected some measure of revision of flavor, but was unsure how the mechanics would get tweaked. I am leisurely studying the tome, so I'm sure I'll have more discoveries that haven't leaped out at me. Here's one thing that already put the monster catalog over the top for me: petrification attacks.

The D&D game has had several monsters capable of turning our heroes into stone since its earliest days in the 1970s: basilisk, cockatrice, gorgon, and medusa come readily to mind. They do it variously by gaze, breath, or bite. As the game has evolved, the variety focused primarily on the attack method, although the save mechanic changed with the D&D 3rd Edition (ie. some monster petrification attacks were harder to resist than others). 

Pathfinder Bestiary has spiced this dynamic even more. A failed saving throw might not immediately result in petrification with most of the previously mentioned monsters, except for the medusa - and that's just the way it ought to be. The designers added some interesting ways to overcome the petrifying process in some cases as well.  

I can also say they got the dragons right too. Their powers seem very intuitive and I catch myself thinking how awesome they seem - again. One of the best things that ever happened to the game was when TSR restructured and boosted the power of dragons in 2nd Edition. In my opinion, they have made another great leap with Pathfinder. 

Kudos to Paizo for doing such a great job with the monsters we love to battle.

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