Review – Bestiary 2

One of the cool things about a second edition is that ‘everything is new again’ feeling. Paizo has always been able to come up with cool foes to populate another Bestiary, but here in Pathfinder 2E we’re still at Bestiary 2 (which is slated to release in late May) and I’m still able to find a lot of entries that make me go “oh, yeah, definitely need to have that available.” I can’t say technically that Bestiary 2 is a necessity for a GM, because the original Bestiary isn’t exactly lacking in options. But even if it doesn’t rise to the level of “must have,” Bestiary 2 is certainly on the “you’ll really, really want this” level.

Bestiary 2 follows the same formatting as the Bestiary, so you’ll get the well-organized stat blocks, excellent art, and sidebar tidbits that you saw in the original (and if you don’t have the original, go buy that one first). There’s a great index in the back that runs through every stat block by level, and a ‘table of contents’ in the front that runs through all of the stat blocks alphabetically (which, so far as I can tell, makes it more of an ‘index in the front’ than a table of contents).

It’s nothing new for Paizo, but I still really love how great the art is, and how you get pictures for almost every single thing (this only doesn’t happen when there’s more than one stat block per page, so no badger to go with the badger, giant … also, that giant badger is pretty vicious-looking). Favorites are a matter of taste, of course, but mine included the zelekhut, aolaz (see below), trumpet archon, veranallia, hezrou, gylou, brine dragon, crystal dragon, icicle snake, grippli, lerritan, lunar naga, sylph, augnagar, skirk nettle, totenmaske, vaspercham, and ostiarius.

Returning classics include hippogriffs, mephits of the dust/ice/steam variety (plus ooze), blink dogs, gorgons, chokers, brownies, draugr, planetar and solar angels (two of the four angels in Bestiary 2), hound and trumpet archons (two of four archons), cornugon devils (one of six devils), intellect devourers, kytons (sorry, six kinds of “velstrac”), nuckelavee, specters, bodaks, behir, tritons, nixies, jabberwocks, twigjacks, and hippocampi. I’m not sure if the froghemoth is a classic, but I’ve always loved that name so I’ll include it here as well. Given the love for goblins in the Pathfinder community, others might put the grindylow here. And the Sandpoint Devil gets its due.

The biggest array of new PF2 offerings is the animals (and their giant and swarm versions) – ants, badgers, lizards, cockroaches, crabs, dragonflies, non-dragon flies, elephants, frogs, hippos, jellyfish, leeches, mosquitos, ravens, rays, rhinos, scorpions, slugs, snakes, spiders, turtles, squids, ticks, toads, centipedes, and wolverines, plus a variety of dinosaurs (and non-dinosaur ancient reptiles). I continue to appreciate that Paizo puts orcas in the dolphin category (rather than whales).

In addition to the angels, archons, and devils mentioned above, Bestiary 2 also starts an expected building-out of the various plane-specific cadres of outsiders, from the very well known (CE demons) to the moderately so (L aeons, CG azata, NE daemons, C proteans, N psychopomps).

Other creature types with multiple new options include dragons, who get fifteen stat blocks for five primal true dragons (natives of the four elemental planes and the plane of shadow), plus the undead raveners and an assortment of non-true dragons. The geniekin pick up blocks for ifrit, oreads, suli, sylphs, and undine. Wereboars and weretigers show up. Plus there are drakes (two stat blocks), elementals (16, in addition to the mephits listed above), fleshwarps (2), giants (4), golems (carrion, ice, wood, glass), gremlins (2), leshy (sunflower, flytrap), linnorm (4), naga (2), oni (4), oozes (6), serpentfolk (4), trolls (4), and urdefhan (2).

The cthulhu mythos crowd picks up options like the denizens of Leng, leng spiders, hounds of Tindalos, qlippoth (seven versions), and probably some other things I didn’t realize were from the cosmic horror subgenre. Personally, I prefer the entry for petitioners, which provides information on the nature of the generic form taken by souls who are sorted to the various planes.

Bestiary 2 also let me discover new monsters and/or rediscover more obscure ones (let me confess to being unwilling to guarantee that what I think is a new monster is actually new).

  • The returning ahuitozl is a level 6 amalgam of badger and otter, but with a hand at the end of its tail (which it can use to drag foes into its square).
  • The aolaz, a gargantuan Jistkan construct, is level 18 and, as such, hard to use often. But the incredible art of this massive armored-elephant-being launching an ultrasonic blast from its trunk really makes me want to try. Did I mention it can roll up into a (massive) ball and go zooming across the battlefield?
  • The melody on the wind (a huge level 10 air elemental) harnesses the destructive power of music for abilities like hostile duet, retune, and mesmerizing melody.
  • The returning, level 4 mandragora is a blood-drinking, vaguely child-shaped, animate plant.
  • The level 11 spiral centurion is a whirling top of death. That’s cool on its own, but I liked the added possibility of giving them glitches to represent breakdown over thousands of years of use.
  • Apparently witchwyrds have in in Pathfinder all along, while I had been thinking of them as a Starfinder creation.

Of course, for all that it feels like I just listed a ton of creatures, that’s only a portion of the hundreds appearing in Bestiary 2. There’s just a lot of both quantity (over 350 stat blocks) and quality to be found within.

Promotional consideration was provided in the form of a review copy.

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