I debated putting together a complete, full-length review of the Bestiary 3 for Pathfinder Second Edition (PF2). Certain books, like the Lost Omens line, warrant an entire post. Books like those are packed with player options and lore tidbits that offer a lot of creative room to explore and divulge.
When it comes to Bestiaries, it’s sort of common knowledge of what you’re going to get: more creatures for your games. A deep-dive into a Bestiary involves highlighting certain creatures and discussing the quality of the content therein.
So why is the Bestiary 3 different?
The first few Bestiaries or Monster Manuals are all very similar, right? They’re going to hit you with the low-hanging creature fruits that you expect. We’re talking about creatures like goblins, dragons, and bugbears. Fairly standard fantasy-fare.
With the second Bestiary installment, it’s a lot of the same but features some of the more uncommon creatures. This might include, at least in the case of Pathfinder Second Edition, creatures like neolithids, hippogriffs, and scarecrows. Things that people are familiar with, but you wouldn’t find on an everyday stroll through the world.
Now that we’re in the third Bestiary tome, this is when things start to really get interesting. At this point, creativity starts to stretch and we begin to see the trappings of creatures that are OUT THERE.
Paizo has certainly affected my dreams with some of these creatures, both positively and negatively. Seriously – there are creatures in here that are quite nightmarish. No more Penanggalans for me, thank you very much.
Anyways, let’s talk about the Pros and Cons regarding the Pathfinder 2E Bestiary 3!
Bestiary 3: Pros
- As always, Paizo continues to fire on all cylinders with the art direction in Bestiary 3. Every single creature has an image associated with it, which is the entire reason why I pick up a Bestiary to begin with. Especially when you get into more obscure creatures, it’s important to have a visual that makes you stop flipping the pages and say, “This one right here!”
- Compared to other prominent d20 systems, the sheer volume of creatures in the Bestiaries is enough to vault Pathfinder 2E right to the top as far as GM options are concerned. We get an additional 300 pages of monsters, which is on par with the other two, previously-released Bestiary tomes. Combine that with the Lost Omens lines and creatures in Adventure Paths, and we probably have over 1000 pages of PF2 creature content on our hands. It’s incredible.
- We get rules for Troops! Troops are essentially like swarms, except that they’re made of Small or Medium creatures taking up a staggering 16 squares. As Troops are damaged as a whole, the space they take up gets gradually reduced. Additionally, they have their own special abilities like Troop Defenses, Form Up, and specific Troop Movement. On page 307, you can also find tips for describing attacks against a troop, which is a nice touch.
- There’s a table at the back ordering creatures by Level, which is such a huge thing for GMs. It makes it much easier to narrow down the creature pool.
Bestiary 3: Cons
- This is a minor knock, but for all of the really creative and interesting creatures in the book, Bestiary 3 has a few duds in the sense that I’d consider them to be creatures that should have been in Bestiary 1 or 2. In my opinion, I like my Bestiaries to get gradually more complex, which helps with GM preparation when I can slide a specific book off the shelf knowing that I’m getting creatures of similar complexity. I mean, I’m flipping the pages past Maftets, Mazlans, and then BOOM – Monkey and Moose back-to-back. They seem like odd inclusions, but I suppose that Paizo wants anybody to be able to pick up a Bestiary and be able to have a wide range of creatures to choose from, even those analogous to the real-world.
- There aren’t enough Troops! For a new type, I was hoping there would be more than the three that I saw: Nightmarchers, Rancorous Priesthood, and City Guard Squadron. What would have been a great addition would be to list how to create your own Troops from existing creatures. How does the HP scale? How do abilities work? I’m hoping it shows up in a future installment.
Honestly, those are the two main cons I have about the book. It’s a Bestiary with tons of creatures inside!
Bestiary 3: Favorite Creatures
Even though I mentioned it at the top, I’m still going to highlight my three favorite creatures from Bestiary 3:
Cunning Fox (PG 252)
Why I love it: Not only is the art incredible, but I love spirit creatures. I especially like creatures that can be “kit-bashed” or re-flavored while keeping the same statblock. Plus, you can see the different between a lower-level spirit guide compared to the Feathered Bear on the next page!
Hyakume (PG 139)
Why I love it: Creatures that feed on knowledge are so cool! A Hyakume wheels and deals for information, but is sort of like a devil in the sense that they are always trying to get the better end of an unfair deal. So many eyes!
Tolokand (PG 272)
Why I love it: Tolokands are basically like Horsemen of the Apocalypse, bringing destruction and blight wherever they go. They are rare creatures, which makes them perfect for sidekicks to a big-bad in your campaigns. Again, it’s left up to GM discretion of what kind of destruction they bring: natural, industrial, societal, relational – the possibilities are endless and make for great story.
Honorable Mention: Agash (PG 69)
Why I love it: The big blue eye is gorgeous.
Bestiary 3: Parting Thoughts
If you’re a completionist who wants access to everything that Pathfinder 2E has to offer, then the Bestiary 3 should be the next book on your shopping list. Plenty of interesting and varied creatures within, including a Tooth Fairy Swarm if you really want to kick the weird up to 100.
I continue to be impressed with Paizo’s Pathfinder 2E content, and the Bestiary 3 lives up to my high expectations. It does everything that a Bestiary should do, and it does it with fantastic lore and ‘fun facts’ sprinkled throughout.
Disclosure: Nerds on Earth was provided a copy of the Bestiary 3 in exchange for an honest review.