||Ever feel like every day is another challenge to be overcome? Not in that “it’s a new adventure today!” feeling, but more of a “what awful thing is going to happen today?” sorta way. I imagine that PCs must feel that way a lot, and if so then the endless parade of monsters probably has quite a bit to do with it. Sometimes it must seem like there’s a new monster every day. Speaking of which…
Creature Monthly is the aptly-named monthly compendium of creatures from the Creature Daily website, which delivers a new monster for your Pathfinder game every weekday. This first compilation presents the monsters for April, 2012. Let’s flip through the pages and see what creatures lie in store.
This product comes with two different PDF files, one called April12CDweb and another called April12CDpdf. I’m not sure what the technical difference between the two is, but there’s clearly some sort of difference, because my computer can view the former file smoothly, but the latter one has persistent viewing problems. To be more specific, whenever I try to look through the “April12CDpdf” file, my Acrobat Reader X (on Windows XP Home, if that helps) informs me that it’s having a problem viewing the file (error code 40), and refuses to display the artwork – the text comes through just fine, it’s only the artwork that refuses to display.
Of course, it’s something of a moot point, though a disturbing one, as the April12CDweb file displays just fine. From what I can make out, the two files are meant to be identical in terms of their visual presentation, so there’s no loss of content for the error. Hence, the rest of this review will deal exclusively with what’s in the “…web” file.
The April ’12 Creature Monthly is a forty-seven page PDF that contains exactly twenty monsters, something that always seemed slightly off to me, as there were twenty-one weekdays in April. I know that one missing monster is a small thing, but I can’t help but wonder what happened to the twenty-first creature.
Unfortunately, the book irked me from the get-go, as it lacked the ease-of-navigation tools I’ve come to expect both for PDF files and for bestiaries. To be clear, the book does have a table of contents, listing each monster alphabetically by name. That’s it. No hyperlinks in the table of contents, no bookmarks, no index of monsters by CR or creature type or even terrain. The only way to get an overview of what’s here is to read through the entire book and use the table of contents as a refresher. Hopefully future months will be more forthcoming with the GM aids.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the artwork here, however. Each monster has a full color illustration, and the quality for the picture if exceptionally high. In each case the picture fairly leaps off the page, and will definitely wow your players. Given that the book it set on a light grey background, with borders of darker grey and slight whorl patterns on them, the presentation element of the book is strong. It’s so strong, however, that the lack of a printer-friendly version is notable in its absence. Likewise, size-specific counters to represent the creatures on the battlemat aren’t to be found either.
But after all of these technical issues, what about the monsters themselves, you ask?
The twenty monsters to be found here run a range of CRs, from ½ to 16, and surprisingly there’s an underlying theme to the monsters here – the majority of them are from a cold environment. Now, there are plenty of monsters for whom that’s not so, but a significant number of them are monsters with a wintery theme.
I should mention that most of these monsters could have stood to go a few more rounds of editing. In reading over what’s here, I found creatures with typographical errors (e.g. an opening parenthesis one space too soon for the Blood Shadow’s Ability Focus feat), stylistic errors (the storm angel is a Chaotic Neutral creature with the angel subtype, for instance, or how the Storm Wraith has the electricity subtype…which doesn’t exist), and errors in stat blocks (e.g. the Storm Wraith’s AC bonuses are +1 dodge, +4 deflection, and +7 Dex, giving it an AC of…24? What?). Little errors like these peppered the vast majority of the monsters here, and that’s just on a casual inspection.
Overall, this is a monster book with good intentions but flawed execution. The monsters here are, for the most part, very good in terms of their underlying idea, and in how they want to stat those ideas up. It’s a host of technical problems, from the PDF format to the stat blocks themselves that are holding the book back. Hopefully, these will be a learning experience for the publisher, and next month’s creatures will be easier to use to terrify your players.
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