Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
I am fairly confident that the last tabletop roleplaying game bestiary or monster compendium that I even touched was the Monster Manual from Dungeons & Dragons 3.5. That is not necessarily a bad thing though, as some of my favorite memories of high school centered around the stories that arose from our D&D group, so it is actually quite refreshing to revisit a similar concept nearly twenty years later, but in a whole new universe. I have long been interested in the Pathfinder games, both the tabletop roleplaying game and the (extensive) adventure card game and I was recently able to go through and get my hands on a nice little stockpile of Pathfinder RPG books so when I was offered the chance to give my thoughts on Paizo’s newest book in the Pathfinder roleplaying franchise, Bestiary 6. Though still new to the franchise, Bestiary 6 is easy to pick up and quick to implement all of these new obstacles for your merry band of warriors to fight.
From a DM point of view Bestiaries and various compendiums have always excited me; they are food for the primary campaign to consume and simply looking one over with the most cursory of glances has me itching to write up a campaign. Bestiary 6 is no different and with gems like the Charnel God or the Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Apollyon, Charon, Szuriel, and Trelmarixian who are all amazingly wicked and downright horrifying to come up against).
The level of detail in the backgrounds / “flavor text” for these new monsters are what we have come to expect, with rich and deeply detailed information providing background for any aspiring campaign creationist or aspiring dungeon master. A small tidbit of the flavor text for the aforementioned Charnel God, which is really just a dead god, reads as follows, “Further, they feel the pain of being incomplete, of being only a small portion of what they once were, and this torments them” (55). That is just a simple line out of an entire page worth of text that builds the character. Each monster is not just some sort of bland cannon-fodder, but rather a sub-character that can be injected into your primary or secondary plot-lines while providing the campaign creator/dungeon master an incredibly detailed background on exactly WHO that monster is.
It is truly brilliant.
There are plenty of monsters in this 320 page bestiary and like most monster manuals or compendiums, Bestiary 6 follows a loose “style” or theme. As Nick mentioned in his review of Bestiary 4, “Part of the reason I am probably partial to this particular Bestiary is the layer of horror theme running through it (Cthulhu is in here for crying out loud).” that particular book seemed thematically dispossessed toward Lovecraftian horror (which, the older I get the more I enjoy), Bestiary 6 though, seems to be more Biblically or Religiously-oriented. Not only will you find the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Szuriel is terrifying by the way), but you will have monsters such as the Psychopomp, Memitim who looks like the would be a fallen angel right out of an episode of Constantine (their flavor text literally says “Soldiers know memitims as the angels of death who protect fallen combatants and others who die as mass casualties from soul-hungry scavengers” (219)). Not all things appear to be doom and gloom, even if the dark art theme says otherwise as on the following page you have the Psychopomp, Olethros who is a this golden, heavenly, and quite beautifully drawn monster on the following page.