Pathfinder Monster Codex Review

MonsterCodexCover (575x734)I picked up the new Pathfinder RPG Monster Codex PDF a little while ago, so I thought I would talk about it a bit as we didn’t have a session this past weekend. 

The title, Monster Codex, is so similar to the NPC Codex that a comparison is one of the first things that comes to mind with this new book in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game range. While there are definite similarities, the Monster Codex is, in my opinion, even more useful to me as a game master.

There are twenty common monster races covered in the Monster Codex, from boggards to fire giants to goblins and ghouls and vampires (although vampires are technically a template). Each race is given a full page description, providing a bit of insight into the monster’s history and society. Then there are a few pages of new rules, from new archetypes to new alternate class features, oracle curses and feats, and more, each customised to the current race – so while goblins have a new oracle curse and witch hex, gnolls instead have new archetypes and feats. There is also some new equipment specific to each monster type.

After the race description and new options is the really good stuff (for me at least): 6-10 character builds for each monster race. These cover a range of CRs and classes, including classes from the Core Rulebook, the Advanced Player’s Guide, and even Ultimate Magic and Ultimate Combat (sadly I didn’t spot any classes from the Advanced Class Guide). Many of the builds make use of archetypes from these products as well. Each page features artwork of one of the builds, ranging from good art to great art (I particularly like the orc art). The builds are generally what you would expect from a given race, from common scouts and fighters to spellcasters, priests and tribal leaders.

PZO1130-BugbearEach race also has an associated new monster, whether it’s vampire spawn or the bugbear’s frightful haunter. These are a nice bonus, as relevant new monsters are always welcome. After the new monster is an encounters page, which lists a variety of encounter groups representing monsters from the given race that are likely to be found together. This is particularly handy as it allows GMs to throw together tribes, gangs or groups of scouts that would logically be encountered together and have an appropriate challenge rating.

As a game master, this feels like the book I’ve been waiting for: monsters I can pick up and use immediately in a game. With the Monster Codex, I can build more interesting encounter groups and keep low-level monsters relevant for a few more levels. The new builds and artwork alone are worth the $9.99 PDF price tag to me. While I would have been happy to pay $39.99 for the physical book, I can see the PDF getting more use at my gaming table.

I highly recommend this book to game masters who are looking for some fresh versions of old favourites to drop into their games. I know I’ll be making use of the Monster Codex in my next game.

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7 thoughts on “Pathfinder Monster Codex Review

  1. Are you able to comment on the Feats. Are they Monster (NPC) specific or do they add to general feats that are usable by PCs as well? Thanks for the review!

    • Hi! I just had another look through the book and although most of the feats do have monster races as prerequisites, there are a handful that would be usable by PCs. The bugbears, for instance, have a bunch of combat feats that are not bugbear-only. 🙂

      • Thanks! Can you infer whether or not they intend those Feats to be PC applicable? To be honest this is the only reason I might consider this at this time, as I am usually GMing existing modules and such. Does that make sense? Thanks for your time and energy in this regard!

      • No problem. I’ve copied a couple of the feats below – I think they could be applicable to PCs. (Others in the book are probably not meant for PCs even though they are not restricted by race – they have prerequisites like swim speeds or Str 25 etc.) I’m not really sure the book would be worth it just for the small number of new feats – perhaps wait until they add them to the PRD to see if they would be useful to you?

        I am also busy GMing a published adventure, but I think these extra monster builds will be useful to flesh out some of the encounters (would have loved it when I was running the stuff with goblins!) or differentiate the monsters a bit.

        Hurtful (Combat)
        You know how to add injury to insult.
        Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack.
        Benefit: When you successfully demoralize an opponent within your melee reach with an Intimidate check, you can make a single melee attack against that creature as a swift action. If your attack fails to damage the target, its shaken condition from being demoralized immediately ends.

        Bushwhack (Combat)
        You can subdue an unsuspecting foe quickly.
        Prerequisites: Dex 13, Improved Grapple, Improved
        Unarmed Strike.
        Benefit: When a flat-footed creature is unaware of your presence and you successfully grapple it, you can attempt a second grapple combat maneuver check to pin the creature as a free action. If you have the Chokehold feat (Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Combat 92), you can instead use this second combat maneuver check to initiate a chokehold.

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