All Tabletop RPGs Could Learn From Pathfinder’s Bestiary 3
Say what you will about Pathfinder 2e–I know many think the rules are too complicated–but the Paizo design team has one thing indisputably mastered: the art of organizing a book. That doesn’t sound like the sexiest element of a game, but it actually does wonders to make stories more exciting and battles challenging.
Case in point: just last week I finished running a Dungeons & Dragons campaign of Rime of the Frostmaiden. The titular goddess of winter had been gathering her forces as the party snuck around solving riddles to find the big MacGuffin-treasure thing. They got what they were looking for, but to get out they would have to fight through the Frostmaiden’s army. For this epic final battle, I needed stats for snow golems, ice mephits, various types of undead, a group of wizards, and the Frostmaiden herself. Roll20 made this as easy as a few clicks, but I still wanted to keep the Rime book out for more detailed descriptions like Lair Actions.
It was then that I noticed that Wizards of the Coast makes some odd choices when it comes to organizing pages of monsters. Everything is technically arranged alphabetically, and yet sometimes things are instead put into categories. This happens in D&D’s Monster Manual too, where demons are all filed under one entry instead of each demon type’s name. This is great if I’m running a demon-themed campaign, but I feel like I often miss cool enemies because I don’t think to flip through the demon section. Enter Pathfinder’s Bestiary 3 and its wonderful ways of presenting baddies.
Just look at this “Creatures By Level” table.
There are supposedly over 300 creatures featured in Bestiary 3, and every single one is arranged by level in this Appendix table. This is by far the best way I’ve seen to find the creatures that best match my party (or overpower them when I’m feeling frisky), see their category so I know if they make sense in the current location, and get their exact page number.
If that wasn’t enough, another section divides the creatures by type. So if you do want to look at demons and demons only, you can still do that.
Seriously, nothing is left unexplained in this Appendix. Other sections break down, in detail, the abilities creatures can have, what languages they can speak, and what spells could summon them.
This wealth of easy-to-access information is a lifesaver for Game Masters because it encourages us to explore new creatures without demanding too much research. Considering “The Lazy Dungeon Master” is a top-selling book, there’s something to be said for content that makes a GM’s job easier. That in turn makes for a better game for players, as GMs will throwing down a variety of challenging and mysterious foes. So takes notes TTRPG publishers, because Paizo has this whole Bestiary thing down.
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A copy of Pathfinder Bestiary 3 was provided for this coverage.
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Sergio is the Lead News Editor for TheGamer. But usually he asks people to call him “Serg” because he wants to sound cool like the guy from System of a Down. He began as a convention reporter for FLiP Magazine and Albany Radio’s The Shaw Report to get free badges to Comic-Con. Eventually he realized he liked talking to game developers and discovering weird new indie games. Now he brings that love of weird games to TheGamer, where he tries to talk about them in clickable ways so you grow to love them too. When he’s not stressing over how to do that, he’s a DM, Cleric of Bahamut, cosplay boyfriend, and occasional actor.
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