Like previous Alien Archives this book is going to contain over a hundred aliens for allying with or fighting against, as well as over a dozen which can be used as player races. Starmetal dragons, living holograms, ‘body-snatching flayer leeches’ and irokirois from Osoro have all been confirmed to be in the book. Playable alien races include an intelligent swarm of tiny insects and a bioluminescent cephalopod.
As an added bonus Alien Archive 3 is going to contain some other player options and gear, which is a nice change of pace. Best of all? Rule for pets, mounts, and combatant creature companions! My daughters dreams have just come true. Haha.
Pre-order for Alien Archive 3 is scheduled to begin in August 2019.
Last weekend there was a gaming convention in the city where I live, and my husband and I decided we would go check it out. We got a babysitter, and were all set, but during the planning process we realized it was WAY too expensive for us to attend. Just getting in the door for a day was so expensive my husband and I could spend an entire day out, go for two meals together, and buy an item each at a local game store on the same amount of money. Needless to say, a day out with my husband won easily. Recently, we had heard that a man at local flea market was selling a bunch of pre-painted plastic miniatures, so this sounded like a perfect opportunity to check it out. To make it even better, a local game store that actually carries d20 products is just down the street. Perfect!
So, while out children were pleasantly distracted by the arrival of their grandmother, we packed ourselves up for a hot, hot, HOT day riding buses and crossing the city to go shopping for nerd stuff.
First stop? Well, honestly it was to the 7-11 behind my house for a slurpee and a coffee, but after that, the first REAL stop was on the edge of Osborne Village in wonderful Winnipeg, Manitoba! There you’ll find a relatively nice indoor flea market (as far as flea markets go) on the corner of Osborne and Mulvey. The entrance is on the back of the building, bordering the Red River, and there’s ample parking. Here at Mulvey Flea Market we went inside and started scrounging around.
Now, we had no idea WHICH guy in the building was selling miniatures, so it was going to be a bit of an adventure. In addition, I have horrible dust allergies, so being in a flea market for too long makes me feel ill, so we were on a bit of a timer. Still, how hard could it be, right?
To my surprise there were a lot of places selling toys my kids might like, games and game products, so it was harder than I assumed it would be. I ended up finding my son a challenging Skylanders puzzle while we searched around, and got my daughter three nice Pokemon toys for a few dollars total. A lovely little deal. Of course, I was supposed to be out spoiling myself, and none of those things were for me, but hey! It was a nice treat for my wonderful little munchkins. While I was digging through a bucket of Pokemon, my husband ended up finding the man selling the minis. It was one of the last places we passed by, and he had a few on display in a glass case. Some of the big impressive looking ones, you know? A dragon, a wicked looking undead, and a burly bug monster. Not much! But, when we asked what else he had, it turns out he had a LOT.
Now, keep in mind, I was expecting a moderately sized cardboard box full of minis that I’d have to dig through, sold by someone who had no idea what they were worth, and would hopefully let me scrounge a bunch for ten bucks.
This man was not a player of d20 games so, I suppose, in that sense he didn’t know what he was talking about, but he’d done his research. The minis were clean and well cared for, and were stored in little plastic baggies that had all of one type of mini inside of it. Each bag was labelled with a price, so you knew exactly how much one of them would cost and you didn’t have to dig through to find multiples. It was very well-organized, actually. The baggies were stored in nice plastic stacking buckets–the thin kind, not big deep things, so it was easy to pull one out and gawk through them. The man didn’t mind that we covered his counter with minis only to sort through and narrow them down at the end. He encouraged it, actually, and was super nice.
We weren’t on the hunt for big, flashy, pricey miniatures. As awesome as it is to find a new frost giant, or a epic looking black dragon, I find that I get much more use out of smaller and understated minis. Those simple staples like skeletons, zombies, goblins and wolves. Humanoids of all kinds–especially if they can pose as both guards, shady types, or bandits. And PC minis. Ones that make you go: damn, I want to make THAT.
In the end, we did pick up two large sized minis: a Nessian Warhound which can double as any large ferocious looking dog. Considering how often we come across wolves, dire wolves, and barghest in adventures, we knew this guy was going to get a ton of use, plus he was a steal of a deal. Way cheaper than any of the actual wolf or dog minis. The second is a Greenspawn Razorfiend. It looks sort of like a green dragon mixed with a grasshopper. Very cool! Plus, once again, the price was right. Easily able to be any kind of large draconic creature from dragons and wyverns, as well as a good substitute for any large sized dinosaurs, it’s actually quite versatile. Everything else we picked up was medium or small humanoids. Now, there were a TON of cool ones. My particular favourite was Raistlin from Dragonlance, and that Archmage with the black robes and rainbow cloak which came right out of the Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook: Core Rulebook v.3.5. But, alas! Both were far more expensive than I wanted to spend. Haha. It was tough to narrow down the humanoids. We had a massive pile of them on the counter to go through, so we really had to prioritize. What did I need most?
Minis that would immediately see use as our already created characters
Small minis that you actually wanted to play as (I have plenty of small minis, but they’re all very shifty, nondescript halflings)
Minis that are versatile enough to be used asallies, enemies, guards, thugs and bandits. Preferably ones that can be all of those things.
I’m not sure why I have such a lack of female miniatures, but I can honestly say that from among my entire collection (of plastic minis), I probably have… 5% that are female. Yeah! Not many! Especially when you take into account that at least half of the characters made in my household are female. Needless to say, my daughter and I usually dip into my pawn collection for miniatures!
The first thing we picked up was a delightful little Kuo-Toa Hunter which my son could immediately use as a grippli miniature for his character Hopwil, in our Carrion Crown (Book 1: Haunting of Harrowstone) playthrough. Sure, it was bigger than a grippli (it’s medium, while they’re small), but its quite cute, and I can assure you it’s WAY better than what he’s using now! Haha. Next we chose three halflings: one male warrior (soldier of bytopia), one female which my daughter’s going to use immediately (Halfling Enchanter), and one male that could be played as either (Halfling Wizard). With some strong suggestions from my husband we picked out five amazing dwarf miniatures, none of which I had seen before. One is a wicked female fighter (Dwarf Sergeant), one is a male warrior which could also be used as a female and has an awesome helmet that the Shredder would be jealous of (Dwarf Mercenary), The last three were all male dwarves: two warriors and a spellcaster (Warpriest of Moradin, Dwarf Warrior, and the Dwarf Wizard, which was my husband’s favourite. We also picked up am amazing pirate mini called a Cloudreaver which look so cool. Just… Awesome. My favourite mini was the Steelheart Archer, a female warrior with short hair, wicked armour, a big sword and a bow. She looks superb. In fact, the moment I saw it I exclaimed: “I don’t care what else we have on that counter, this one is my favourite!”
The last mini we purchased was a bit of a splurge. It was more than I wanted to pay, but it was a really nice guardian mummy. Considering we’re currently playing the Mummy’s Mask (Book 1 – The Half-Dead City) Adventure Path, I can guarantee he’ll see more than his fair share of use. Unsurprisingly, that campaign has mummies. Lots of them.
And that’s it! Or was it?
The prices were much more than I was expecting, but they were fair prices. Much cheaper than you’ll find on Canadian Amazon. Clearly, he had done some good price checking. So, although I wouldn’t get a steal of a deal, the minis were fairly priced, well organized, and there was a very large selection. Better than most (all but one, if I’m being completely honest) of the local game shops in Winnipeg. In addition, he told us that if we were getting more than a couple he’d give a discount on all the labelled prices, and he was not kidding. At the end we paid maybe 2/3 of what they were labelled as. He also gave us an extra mini as a gift–of a pricey female elf that we knew my daughter would love but couldn’t afford. THIS was our real, last mini. The beautiful Evermeet Wizard, which made her day.
So, although we well overspent our budget (which was ten bucks, haha), we actually got a really, really good deal. The owner was very nice, and welcoming, and all the product was great quality. Honestly, it was a great place to go.
So, if you happen to be in Winnipeg, and you happen to like d20 games, definitely stop by the Mulvey Flea Market and scrounge around for this guy’s booth. It’s well worth the effort!
When we left the flea market with our purchases in hand–actually, I shoved it in my backpack with my puzzle and Pokemon toys–we went for a walk down Osborne to GameKnight Games and Cool Stuff. Seriously, that’s its name. A mouthful, I know, but its the best place in the city to browse d20 books. In addition, they have a TON of other games.
It took a while to get there, fifteen minutes or so in the heat and sun, but it was a nice walk. Until we got there and read the sign on the door that said they had moved.
Luckily, it was still on Osborne!
Back the way we had come. Haha. It was across the street and maybe a minute down the road from the flea market.
So we crossed the street and walked back that way, until we found the place. And WOW, moving was a great idea! The space is much bigger than their old one–really, really, big, actually. It’s no longer crowded or cluttered. You can move around easily. There’s a lot of room to expand and carry more product. They have a vast area for unpainted minis and paints, another big area for card singles, and associated products, and a nice open gaming area behind which is an awesome mural that looks like you’re in a medieval or fantasy marketplace. It’s actually awesome! I’m so glad we popped in!
With that in hand I set about browsing the other games and found something I knew she’d love. A boardgame called Bunny Kingdom Strategy Board Game. It’s a complicated looking game, but she learned how to play the Starfinder Roleplaying Game in a weekend, so I think she can handle it. She ADORES board games. Plus, it’s got rabbits. And, as I’m sure everyone reading knows by now, she’s positively obsessed with rabbits. She even created her own race for Pathfinder, the Rabbitfolk. And the first Starfinder monster she created? Galactic Rabbits. She has a few awesome rabbit board games at home already, including the card game Bad Bunnies, two wonderful puzzle games: Carrots and Jump-In, and a kids game called Jumping Jack. She plays them all the time, and frankly, I could use a new one to play with her. Unfortunately, I had no excuse to purchase her a new, expensive board game. But, I showed it to my husband and we decided to pick it up for her anyway. I’ve hidden it in my closet until the next gift-giving holiday comes. She’ll get it for Christmas, at the latest. Haha. Maybe for an end of the school-year treat. She’s going to love it.
As we were waiting in line, my husband picked up some new dice (clear and quite snazzy looking) and passed me a Pathfinder Battles: Heroes & Monsters Booster pack, which is a single random mini. It’s quite pricey in my opinion, at $4.49 Canadian retail, but we’d never picked one up before, and we wanted to see what the quality was like. The mini we got inside is quite sturdy (stronger than most of the Pathfinder Battles medium humanoid miniatures, but not as sturdy as the old Dungeons and Dragons ones by Wizards of the Coast). It looks awesome, too! We got the half-elf cleric, which is a short haired female warrior, holding a holy symbol and a longsword. She’s got practical looking armour, with a red tabard overtop emblazoned with Iomedae’s holy symbol. It’s a versatile looking mini. She can be a cleric, paladin, warpriest, knight, or occultist. She’s make an awesome knight, or guard, and the symbol is generic enough that is could be a knight’s heraldry, or a sigil of a town or mercenary company. She’s very cool. And, even though it’s still more expensive than I’d like, it was a nice treat.
While I paid my husband oohed and aahed over some absurdly expensive dice made of semi-precious stones. Needless to say, the opal dice set was not in the cards, haha. And, although the ‘Gnomish Copper’ polyhedral dice set by Norse Foundry was a much more achievable price, it’s still not coming home with us. Nope. No way. But wow, they looked neat!
So, with our day of splurging behind us we headed home to have dinner with our family, and to finally get around to watching The Black Panther (blu-ray) movie (which was awesome!).
Later that day we got to open my Alien Archive box, which was a blast. There were a ton of cool minis, a lot of which we’ll use right away. Dragonkin, ikeshti, space goblins, skittermander and sarcesians will all immediately see play as some of our player characters. My son was particularly fond of the elementals, the wrikreechee, and the novaspawn. My daughter loved the electrovore, the apart constituent, and the anacite wingbot. My personal favourites? The blue dragon, the crest eater, and the drow! So cool! Now I just need to find room for them in my house…
Maybe we’ll have another splurge day. In like… a year or two. Haha.
OutPost marked my first PFS convention. It was also my husband and children’s first foray into play-by-post gaming, and their second adventure in the Pathfinder Society, so it was pretty exciting for us! My husband signed up for one game, while my children each signed up for two. And me? Well, I signed up for a lot. Three for Starfinder and three for Pathfinder. Plus the Solstice Scar Special.
All of the scenarios were a blast, and we had the wonderful luck to play alongside some awesome GMs and players. All told, not counting specials, OutPost hosted fourteen games of Core Pathfinder Society Scenarios, fifty-seven games of Classic/Standard Pathfinder Society scenarios, eleven games of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, and twenty-four games of Starfinder. That makes for nearly a hundred games!
So, what did we play?
I’ll tell you!
My husband, children and I all signed up for an old classic: Scenario #06: Black Waters. From season zero, this adventure is intended for tier 1-2 and 4-5, and was written by Tim and Eileen Connors back before Pathfinder had it’s own rules set. It was being run by one of my favourite GMs I’ve had the pleasure of playing alongside on Paizo’s Messageboards, GM Shieldbug, who gave us a great game. Seriously. It was such a wonderful experience, my kids and husband are now thoroughly spoiled. I warned them after we finished this scenario to lower their expectations for whatever scenario they signed up to next, because not all GMs are as awesome as Shieldbug. They didn’t believe me at the time, but for the record, they do now. If you happen to be lucky enough to join a game he’s running, I highly recommend leaping at the opportunity. You won’t regret it.
Black Waters takes place in the Beldrin’s Bluff district of Absalom. Once a neighbourhood full of the wealthy elite, this area was devastated by an earthquake a decade or so ago, which killed many, and sent an entire chunk of the cliffs the neighbourhood was built upon, tumbling into the sea. Included in this devastation was a school for the city’s elite called the Tri-Towers Yard, which collapsed into an ancient underground necropolis. As the buildings are destroyed, black foul water rose up from below, drowning all those who weren’t crushed. The Tri-Towers yard was sealed up, and no one has been allowed inside–or into the necropolis–since. Lucky for us, the Pathfinders have finally been granted clearance, presuming they treat the site with respect.
My husband played Enzo Jeggare, a well-groomed, Chelaxian nobleman with pale skin, black hair, grey eyes, and a fabulous moustache. He’s a handsome, if lanky, gentleman with a reputation as a philanthropist and a conjurer. He enjoys fine wine, fine company, and ancient magical objects. Enzo is a secretive man, which gives him an air of mystery. Though well-practised in the art of evasion, he’s an awkward liar. He is never without his Devil Deck—a beautifully illustrated harrow deck adorned with images of devils and infernal symbolism—and a worn-out dog figurine that he can occasionally be seen speaking to. Enzo’s an occultist who specializes in conjuring creatures. He used his esteemed family’s political connections to gain membership into the Dark Archive’s faction of the Pathfinders, and is hopeful that handling other objects of power will allow him to access other magical abilities.
My daughter played a two-tailed kitsune druid (saurian shaman) with pink fur and eyes by the name of Bunny Paras. She is always accompanied by her pink and yellow pet parasaurolophus, called Paras, and adores rabbits. She and Paras run a rabbit farm–although they are sold only as pets, and are not for eating! Bunny Paras is a vegetarian, and a good healer. Paras loves to sing and dance, and is very, very loud.
My son is playing Senton, a pale Ulfen ranger better known as Mr. Ice. He is always shivering with cold, and has constantly chattering teeth. He wears warm winter clothes in every weather, including a big furry hat on his head, and a fur cloak and boots. He has a black patch on his cheek from some old frost bite, a big bushy beard, and a full moustache. Under his hat his hair is grey and his eyes are blue. He likes to fight with his short swords and his fine longbow. Senton works on Bunny Paras’ rabbit farm as a guard. He often lays traps to protect the farm.
But, this kooky trio wasn’t the only Pathfinders on the case. I played my wood kineticist, Everbloom, a wild and curious kitsune who grew up alone in the wilds and views life and death as just another fascinating part of existence. Her fur is an orangy-brown, with bits of leaves and flower petals constantly tangled in its length. Everbloom’s easily fascinated by people and places, and just as easily bores of them. More than a little aloof and uncaring, Everbloom comes off as way nicer than she actually is.
The final character was Tera Fosham, a veiled ifrit oracle with clouded vision whose healing touch and blessings were invaluable on this adventure.
Together, these five Pathfinders enjoyed some awesome roleplaying with their venture captain (Drandle Dreng), at a fancy dinner party held alongside Absalom’s nobility, and with the caretaker of the Tri-Towers Yard, who is equal parts sad, deluded, and gifted. Possibly insane. I’ll leave that up for debate! From there they investigated the haunted classrooms, and foul black waters of the estate. Battling off monstrous bugs and undead, they descended into the ancient necropolis to discover its secrets. Along the way, they made some amazing discoveries, and even saved a little girl. The frail–but still alive–Junia Dacilane. Junia reappears a decade down the road in the Pathfinder Society Scenario #7-05: School of Spirits (which is a delight), and can even be found in the Pathfinder Society Pawn Collection, which I only recently discovered and am itching to get my hands on!
Want to follow along with their adventures? Check out the complete gameplay for our group here.
My children were so excited to play in OutPost that they created a second character each for the occasion, a pair of twenty-five year olds who couldn’t be more different. Lady Naysha is an oracle of whimsy who stumbled in the First World through a fairy ring, and came back over a decade later looking like not a day had passed. A few years have passed since then, but she still doesn’t look a day over twelve. Lady Naysha has a child-like enthusiasm and innocence about her. She believes her stuffed rabbit, Miss Whiskers, is the source of her powers (which is entirely false, by the way), and can all upon her fairy friend to play tricks on her enemies. Contrariwise, my son made a paladin of Iomedae who is brave, bold and true! Unfortunately, he died fighting in the Worldwound. Iomedae took pity on him and granted him a second life, but he was reincarnated as an old man, with horrible memory problems. Unable to even remember his name, he calls himself Fuzzzy, and he relies on his pet owl, Bobby, to keep him on track. For full details on my Lady Naysha and Fuzzzy, check out my blog post OutPost Commences.
I joined them, with my dwarven fighter, Juno Berik, a self-centred woman who believes she’s far more important than she’s given credit for. Together with some other quirky characters, they entered a complicated maze underneath Absalom City to search for a lost minotaur prince, Nuar Spiritskin, in another classic PFS Scenario, #45: Delirium’s Tangle. This is a tier 1-5 scenario written by Crystal Frasier. Personally, I find this is a difficult scenario to run by play-by-post, as navigating a maze is always tricky in person, never mind over message boards. When it could take an entire day for a team to roll a single perception or survival check–which could be done in seconds in person–there’s a high probability the game will get bogged down. Fortunately, our GM was wonderful at streamlining the navigation process. In fact, this scenario finished first out of all the games I played! As poor navigators, the sheer number of pit traps we endured (and by endured I mean fell into over and over again) was painful (literally), and has left permanent mental scarring on Juno. Fuzzzy was also traumatized by the event–for about a minute before he promptly forgot about it. The fights and secret chambers were interesting, and left my kids hungry for more information on the maze and its connecting chambers. The final battle was interesting, as was the wrap-up roleplaying. All in all, we had a lot of fun, although this one certainly left a lot of unanswered questions.
You can read our complete gameplay experience here, if you’re interested.
In the time since, Lady Naysha’s begun Scenario #5-08: The Confirmation, alongside my husband’s character, Toban Tangletop (check out the ongoing gameplay here). Fuzzzy’s moved on to combat the Master of the Fallen Fortress (a free download on Paizo’s website, by the way) and rescue a lost Pathfinder (check out the ongoing gameplay here). And, Juno’s decided to tell the Aspis Consortium where to shove it, in Scenario #4-07: Severing Ties. Currently being as boorish and mean as she can be, she’s in Riddleport, happily dragging the Aspis Consortium’s name through the mud. This scenario’s about to begin a two-week break while some of the participants go on vacation, but you can check out it’s progress so far, here.
The Unseen Inclusion
I was positively thrilled to bring my beloved half-orc monk, Kenza Bloodborn, through Scenario #9-04: The Unseen Inclusion. Why? Well, as a member of the Scarab Sages, whose faction stories have come to an end, I wanted to see my stoic warrior tackle a Scarab Sage-centric mission. Taking place in the Thuvian city of Merab, Kenza delved into haunted ruins on the hunt for a mysterious spirit that even now seeks her master’s jewels… Part dungeon delve and part investigation, I had no idea what to expect with this scenario when I signed up for it, but I ended up having a blast. She had plenty of opportunities to hurl herself into danger to protect her allies, and nearly died on more than one occasion. You can check out the complete gamplay here.
In the time since, Kenza’s journeyed to Absalom for the first time, in order to pay her respect to the centre of her order. There, she’s been called on by Venture Captain Drandle Dreng, on a mission of great importance… Fetching him a bottle of wine. Fortunately, this mission is a lot more than it seems at first, leading the group through hidden chambers, abandoned homes, conspiracies and secrets, and even into Absalom’s Temple of the Fallen. That’s right, she’s playing through a super quick run of Scenario #6-10: The Wounded Wisp. Check out her adventure so far, here.
But not everything’s about Pathfinder! I’m also involved in three wonderful Starfinder Society Scenarios. My primary SFS character, a bold, boastful vesk solarion with far more brawn than brains by the name of Julakesh Starfist participated in Scenario #1-03: Yesteryear’s Truth. We’ve already spoken about Julakesh earlier this week, but if you’ve missed it, check out my blog post Competitions and Compliments. If you’re interested in reading Julakesh’s experiences in Yesteryear’s Truth, the complete gameplay if found here. Want a summary? She discovered a new planet, engaged in amazing battles, attempted to befriend the planet’s natives, and made a lot of people laugh! Seriously, a ton of fun. Speaking of fun, Julakesh recently began a new adventure that’s tailor made for her: Scenario #1-07: The Solar Sortie. Or, it’s half made for her, anyway… Sent to retrieve information from a corporation that orbits the Sun, Julakesh gets to begin this infiltration by impersonating a gladiator! This pretty much consists of her being herself, in front of a large adoring crowd. Awesome! And all that other subtle espionage stuff? Well…. we’ll cross that bridge up (and mess it up horribly) when we get to it! Check out the start of out adventures, here! It’s been a ton of fun so far (and it’s only just begun).
Fugitive on the Red Planet
I also used OutPost as an opportunity to try out two Starfinder classes I had yet to have a chance to test. Firstly, I created a proud, smooth-talking ysoki xenoseeker envoy by the name of Aurora Vim (Rora, for short) who was tasked with finding a rogue Starfinder and retrieving an powerful object he stole from the Society in Scenario #1-02: Fugitive on the Red Planet. Her adventures took her to the grungy planet of Akiton alongside a haan, a human, and a whopping three other ysoki! Apparently those furry little fellows are popular! All in all this scenario was a lot of fun, and Rora really had a chance to shine throughout its length. It was completed quite quickly, and was hosted by a wonderfully humorous GM. You can check out the complete gameplay here.
Following her adventures on Akiton, Rora hopped a shuttle back to Absalom Station, where she’s been invited to attend a gala in honour of the First Seeker, Luwazi Elsebo. Scenario #1-05: First Mandate is right up her alley, and has seen her wheeling and dealing with a bunch of movers and shakers–including Zo!, who I’ve been dying for her to meet! This scenario is reaching its climax, but you can check out its progress so far, here.
Cries from the Drift
I also made a curious but awkward shirrin spacefarer operative, Zez’ka, who is prone to announcing her emotions to the world. She’s friendly, but super awkward, and honestly a blast to play. Unfortunately, Scenario #1-04: Cries from the Drift, is a horror scenario, which tossed my chipper shirren into the most traumatizing, suspenseful, and gory Starfinder Scenario to date. This adventure particularly benefits from having the element of surprise, so I won’t mention much more in the way of spoilers. What I will say is that if you’re uncomfortable with body horror, don’t play it. That being said, when played by play-by-post the suspense is lost, so it turned out to be a fun, romp despite the tone. For those of you who aren’t afraid of spoilers, our complete gameplay can be read here. In the time since, Zez’ka has joined a delightfully fun and carefree mission, which won’t possibly be as traumatizing for her as her previous one was! Right? Right…? Wrong. She’s currently engaged in Starfinder’s second horror scenario, Scenario #1-10: The Half-Alive Streets, which amuses me to no end. She’s currently oblivious to the dark turn this scenario’s going to take, and is currently having great fun making friends and shopping. You can check it out here.
The end to these Starfinder scenarios will mark the sixth games I’ve played in the SFS, which means I’ve reach a milestone on my Alien Archive Boon. No idea what that means?
Well, let me enlighten you!
For every Starfinder Society game you participate in as a player (not a GM) you can get your GM to sign your boon sheet, which is available here. When you have six games played you can apply this sheet to a new character to make them either a wrikreechee, or a ryphorian. Or, you can wait until you have twelve games played, and then apply it to a new character to make them a barathu. After applying it you can start a new boon, and begin earning new plays. Note, that there is a time limit on earning credit for this boon. After June 14th of this year they’ll be releasing a new boon in its place, which will let you unlock other races for play.
Now, of the current options, I think I’d get a kick out of a Barathu, but I won’t have a chance to earn that bad boy. I’ll be hitting six, which leaves the wrikreechee and ryphorians. And for me, the choice is clear! Ryphorians! I have honestly no idea what I’m going to make for her class, but its definitely going to be different than the others I’ve got! Soldier, perhaps? That’s a question for another day!
And that’s it!
OutPost and its associated adventures have come to an end–for this year. But, there’s plenty more adventures out there waiting to be played!
Just the other day we took a look inside the covers of the Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Alien Archive. I shared some of my favourite creatures, spoke about what the book contains, and touched on the easy and adaptable monster and NPC creation process. My children and I tested out the creation system, and today, we’re going to share what they made in order to emphasize just how fun and easy it is.
Now, it should be noted, that my children are young. My daughter turned six last month, while my son turned seven last month. This means that if they can do it, you can do it.
Now, where to start?
The first step is the concept and CR. My daughter immediately decided to make a colossal rabbit which flies through space, firing laser beams from her eyes, breathing fire from her nose, and feeding off the electrical energy of space storms, starships, asteroids, and even other living beings. It’s quite big and strong, so she’s hoping to make it a CR 10 or so. And my son? He made radioactive robots! As their creators and their societies were destroyed by nuclear war, some of the robots survived the devastation. Damaged from the blast and the centuries that have passed since, these robots have broken chassis, exposed wiring, and scratched and dented frames. Their solar panels no longer work, but they absorbed a huge amount of radiation, and function on nuclear power, instead. He’s aiming for a lower powered monster, making it CR 3.
The next step is to choose the creature’s array, which is its role in combat. Although my daughter strongly debated changing around her concept to make her space rabbits spellcasters, in the end she stuck to her original concept, and made her space rabbits a combatant. My son chose the same. Once you know your array you check out the associated charts and get all of your statistics for the creature. We wrote these down, and got ready for the next step: selecting a creature type. My daughter’s space rabbits were going to be magical beasts, and didn’t need a subtype. This means they’ll be getting dark vision, low-light vision, +2 to Fortitude and Reflex saving throws, and +1 on attack rolls. Meanwhile, my son’s radioactive robots were going to be constructs, which grants his monster a -2 to all its saving throws, a +1 to its attack rolls, and some snazzy traits including darkvision and construct traits. They would also have the technological subtype, which didn’t add any new abilities.
The next step is adding a class graft, which neither of my children’s creations needed. Skipping this step meant we would next be adding any any other templates they desired, which they also both decided against.
The next step they found the most fun: selecting special abilities and your creature’s attack forms. Their array and CR will determine how many abilities they can choose. In addition, some abilities are free. It should also be noted that this number is a guideline, and can be altered as necessary to make your monster concept come to life. The special abilities you can select include things like feats, universal monster abilities, and statistic increases. You can also select abilities that show up in other stat blocks.
So what did they choose? Well, our space rabbits already have darkvision and low-light vision from being a magical beast, but my daughter was very intrigued with the idea of giving them blindsight (voltage), which would allow them to detect and see electrical fields to a range of 60 feet. If she did choose to add this, it would count as one special ability. Attacks are necessary to the creature, so the natural attacks it would receive (a piercing bite and laser beam eyes) would be free of charge. Other free abilities creatures receive is anything that they require to survive in their environments. For our space rabbits this means they need immunity to cold and a vacuum, as well as the no breath ability. Because of her CR she’d get a third immunity, so my daughter chose electricity.
Which brings us to our second special ability! Space rabbits would get a breath weapon which shoots out a super heated blast of energy–fired from their nose, of course! She also contemplated taking the swallow whole ability, but was undecided. This would be their third ability, if she chose to select it. And lastly, they’d need a supernatural fly speed so that they can move around in space. Luckily, movement speeds (within reason) are also free. That left her with three abilities. Her chart suggested having two, but, as mentioned, you can go over within reason (or under, for that matter). There was one other ability my daughter thought they needed: the ability to land upon and leave planets safely. After all, how could they escape a planet’s gravity with only a 60 ft. move speed…? We left my daughter to mull this over, and moved on to help my son.
So what did our radioactive robots need? Well, unlike the rabbits, they didn’t need any special abilities to survive in their environment, nor did they need a fancy move speed. Just walking was fine. As a construct, they would already have plenty of immunities and snazzy traits, so he didn’t want to add to that. The robot’s natural attacks would be a slam attack. Originally this would have done bludgeoning damage, but my son adores the idea of them broken and crackling with electricity, so he decided it does bludgeoning and electricity damage. He also gave it the arc critical ability. To represent that the robots are already broken open and damaged, he gave them a weakness: vulnerable to critical hits. The first special ability he knew he wanted to give them was an aura of radiation. Due to their minor CR, it would only be low level radiation, which he thought was a little disappointing–especially since they would be found on a radiated planet and the PCs would likely already have their armour’s environmental protections up (which would make them immune to low levels of radiation). We decided to revisit the radiation levels later, and continue on with planning. For their ranged attack, he decided that they would shoot out a beam of their internal nuclear energy–an attack against EAC which would deal fire damage. He wants them to explode upon destruction, so we gave them the self-destruct special ability, but we were torn on whether to make it deal fire or electricity damage–fire to represent their minor nuclear explosion, and electricity to represent their sparking, glitching exposed wiring. In the end we decided to make it deal fire. There was one other thing he wanted to make his robots do: spark with electricity when touched in melee combat. We decided that this would do only minor damage, just a single zap of damage to anyone touching them with a manufactured or natural melee attack. And that was it! He was happy.
From there we chose which skills each creature would be best with, a simple step which was over in a flash. Then you select spells and spell-like ability–if your monster has a spell casting class graft or a special ability which grants them casting. Neither of our creatures did, so all that was left was to put it together and check it over.
DEFENSE HP 165 EAC 23; KAC 25 Fort +14; Ref +14; Will +9 Immune cold, electricity, vacuum
OFFENSE Speed 30 ft., fly 60 ft. (Su, good); thermal flight (speed 6; maneuverability good (turn 1)) Melee bite +21 (2d8+18 P plus swallow whole) Ranged eye lasers +19 (3d4+10 F) Offensive Abilities breath weapon (70 ft. cone, 11d6 F, DC 17, usable every 1d4 rounds), swallow whole (1d6+15 F, EAC 23, KAC 21, 41 HP) Space 30 ft.; Reach 20 ft.
STATISTICS Str +8; Dex +5; Con +3; Int –2; Wis +2; Cha +0 Skills Acrobatics +24, Intimidate +19, Survival +19 Languages Sylvan (can’t speak any language) Other Abilities no breath, thermal flight
SPECIAL ABILITIES Eye Lasers (Ex): Galactic rabbits can fire laser beams from their eyes at a range of 120 feet. Despite having two eyes, both laser beams must be directed at the same target, and function as a single attack.
Thermal Flight (Su): Galactic rabbits can use the thermal energy stored in their stomachs to achieve incredible bursts of speed for a short time. This enables them to land upon and take off from planets without difficulty, and reach speeds equivalent to that of a spaceship. A galactic rabbit cannot activate thermal flight if they have used their breath weapon within four rounds. Once activated, the galactic rabbit gains shields as if it were a starship (20 shields, split evenly between its four quadrants), and a fly speed of 6 hexes (good maneuverability). This flight speed lasts for a number of minutes equal to the galactic rabbits CR (10 minutes for adult galactic rabbits). After activating thermal flight, galactic rabbits no longer have enough thermal energy to utilize their breath weapon, or thermal flight for 24 hours.
ECOLOGY Environment space Organization solitary, pair, or herd (2 galactic rabbits with 2–6 galactic bunnies)
GALACTIC BUNNY CR 4 XP 1,200 N Large magical beast Init +5; Senses blindsense (electicity) 60 ft., darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +15
DEFENSE HP 50 EAC 16; KAC 18 Fort +8; Ref +8; Will +3 Immune cold, electricity, vacuum
OFFENSE Speed 30 ft., fly 40 ft. (Su, average); thermal flight (speed 4; maneuverability average (turn 2)) Melee bite +12 (1d6+9 P plus swallow whole) Ranged eye lasers +9 (1d4+4 F) Offensive Abilities breath weapon (40 ft. cone, 5d6 F, DC 13, usable every 1d4 rounds), swallow whole (1d4 F, EAC 16, KAC 14, 12 HP) Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
STATISTICS Str +5; Dex +3; Con +1; Int –2; Wis +0; Cha +0 Skills Acrobatics +15, Intimidate +10, Survival +10 Languages Sylvan (can’t speak any language) Other Abilities no breath, thermal flight
SPECIAL ABILITIES Eye Lasers (Ex): Galactic bunnies can fire laser beams from their eyes at a range of 90 feet. Despite having two eyes, both laser beams must be directed at the same target, and function as a single attack.
Thermal Flight (Su): Galactic bunnies can use the thermal energy stored in their stomachs to achieve incredible bursts of speed for a short time. This enables them to land upon and take off from planets without difficulty, and reach speeds equivalent to that of a spaceship. A galactic bunny cannot activate thermal flight if they have used their breath weapon within four rounds. Once activated, the galactic bunny gains shields as if it were a starship (4 shields, split evenly between its four quadrants), and a fly speed of 4 hexes (average maneuverability). This flight speed lasts for a number of minutes equal to the galactic bunnies CR (4 minutes for galactic bunnies). After activating thermal flight, galactic bunnies no longer have enough thermal energy to utilize their breath weapon, or thermal flight for 24 hours.
ECOLOGY Environment space Organization solitary, litter (2-6), or herd (2 galactic rabbits with 2–6 galactic bunnies)
Galactic rabbits look surprisingly like their mundane counterparts—on a much large scale. Although capable of flying through any environment, galactic rabbits prefer to live in the void of space. They survive on electrical energy, and are capable of seeing it from great distances. They can devour any sources with electrical fields, including electrical devices, starships, satellites, asteroids, and even other lifeforms. They can also absorb it directly from space storms. Electricity is digested and stored as thermal energy in their stomachs. This thermal energy can be released in a superheated exhalation shot from their constantly twitching nose, or used to power extreme bursts of speed.
Although quite rare, galactic rabbits can wreak havoc on technologically advanced planets and starships and are often attacked with extreme prejudice when spotted. Because of their modest intelligence, Xenowardens often befriend galactic rabbits. In most cases, this is to protect them, or raise them as companions, while more violent xenowardens use them as a weapon against their enemies, releasing them upon corporate satellites, and exploitive colonies.
It is unknown how galactic rabbits came into being, although their ability to understand the language of the fey makes most scholars suggest that they are a beings of the fabled First World, or perhaps the result of fey experimentation upon the galactic rabbit’s mundane cousins. Whatever the case, galactic rabbits are here to stay, and are capable of procreating incredibly rapidly. Their offspring, galactic bunnies, are capable of living alone after only two months, and are full grown within a year. Galactic rabbits live for centuries, and can go for extended periods of time without feeding. They are capable of birthing two litters of young a year, if given even electrical currents to feed off of. Although this can easily overrun a planet, the galactic rabbit’s fondness for space means that this is rarely a problem. Even a horde of well-fed galactic rabbits cannot overpopulate the infinite solar systems.
There are rumours that a galactic rabbit exists deep in the Vast, so large it can devour an entire planet, and swallow the largest of starships whole. These rumours are unsubstantiated, and no reliable source has ever reported or proven such claims.
Radioactive Robot (Patrol Class) CR 3 XP 800
N Medium construct (technological) Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +8 Aura radiation (15 ft., DC 13)
DEFENSE HP 40 EAC 14; KAC 16 Fort +3; Ref +3; Will +1 Immunities construct immunities, electrified exterior Weaknesses vulnerable to critical hits
OFFENSE Speed 20 ft. Melee slam +12 (1d6+7 B & E; critical arc 1d4) Ranged nuclear beam +9 (1d4+3 F; critical burn 1d4) Offensive Abilities self-destruct (1d6+3 F, DC 12)
STATISTICS Str +4; Dex +2; Con —; Int —; Wis +1; Cha +0 Skills Athletics +8 Languages One local language (can’t speak any language) Other Abilities mindless, unliving
SPECIAL ABILITIES Aura of Radiation (Ex)
Due to the devastation of nuclear war or extremely radioactive environments, radioactive robots have absorbed extreme levels of radiation, and have evolved the ability to produce, store and redirect this energy without being harmed by it. A radioactive robot emanates low radiation out to 15 feet.
Electrified Exterior (Ex)
Radioactive robots are broken and damaged, and spark with electricity. Making physical contact with a radioactive robot can cause electrocution. Any creature that succeeds on a melee attack against a radioactive robot with a manufactured or natural weapon—even if this attack does not harm the radioactive robot—takes 1 electricity damage.
A radioactive robot is highly unstable and self-destructs when it is reduced to 0 HP, dealing an amount of fire damage equal to 1d6 + the robot’s CR to all creatures in a 10-foot-radius burst. A creature can attempt a Reflex saving throw to reduce this damage by half. This ability destroys any technological components that could have been salvaged from the radioactive robot.
Radioactive Robot (Enforcer Class) CR 7 XP 3,200
N Large construct (technological) Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +14 Aura radiation (30 ft., DC 17)
DEFENSE HP 105 EAC 19; KAC 21 Fort +7; Ref +7; Will +4 Immunities construct immunities, electrified exterior Weaknesses vulnerable to critical hits
OFFENSE Speed 30 ft. Melee slam +18 (2d6+12 B & E; critical arc 1d6) Ranged nuclear beam +15 (2d6+7 F; critical burn 1d6) Offensive Abilities self-destruct (1d6+7 F, DC 15)
STATISTICS Str +5; Dex +4; Con —; Int —; Wis +2; Cha +0 Skills Athletics +14 Languages One local language (can’t speak any language) Other Abilities mindless, unliving
SPECIAL ABILITIES Aura of Radiation (Ex)
Due to the devastation of nuclear war or extremely radioactive environments, radioactive robots have absorbed extreme levels of radiation, and have evolved the ability to produce, store and redirect this energy without being harmed by it. A radioactive robot emanates medium radiation out to 15 feet and low radiation for an additional 15 feet.
Electrified Exterior (Ex)
Radioactive robots are broken and damaged, and spark with electricity. Making physical contact with a radioactive robot can cause electrocution. Any creature that succeeds on a melee attack against a radioactive robot with a manufactured or natural weapon—even if this attack does not harm the radioactive robot—takes 1d4 electricity damage.
A radioactive robot is highly unstable and self-destructs when it is reduced to 0 HP, dealing an amount of fire damage equal to 1d6 + the robot’s CR to all creatures in a 10-foot-radius burst. A creature can attempt a Reflex saving throw to reduce this damage by half. This ability destroys any technological components that could have been salvaged from the radioactive robot.
ECOLOGY Environment any environment with high levels of radiation Organization solitary, pair, unit (3-4 radioactive robots attempting to complete a similar objective)
Radioactive robots are found in places where nuclear war or high levels of radiation have destroyed technologically advanced societies. The few robots who survive such destruction are battered and broken—sparking with electricity form their exposed, tattered wiring and circuitry. These robots have absorbed the radiation around them, and use it to power themselves. Mindless and glitching they wander aimlessly, sometimes attempting to continue their original purposes, and other times corrupted to the point of senseless violence. They never wander far from their radioactive environments.
Radioactive robots can be found in localized areas of devastation, like the ruins of exploded nuclear reactors, or the wreckage of crashed starships that were once powered by nuclear engines. They can also be found in large swaths of territories that have high radiation levels, like the desert wastes of a planet destroyed by nuclear war, or natural phenomenon. They are a common sight on the ghibrani homeworld of Elytrio, which was devastated by thermonuclear war, and Jasterax, a planet in the Vast wracked with fierce storms of radioactive rain.
I hope you enjoyed reading about our creations as much as we enjoyed making them. My kids and I had a blast, and they couldn’t be more proud with what they’ve developed.
Have any creations you’d like to share with us? Let us know in the comments!
Today on d20diaries we’re going to take a look at an awesome supplement book for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, the Alien Archive! This book has a hardcover, and clocks in at 159 pages. It’s got an American cover price of $39.99, which means that if you’re Canadian (like myself), you’re looking at a cost of around forty-five to fifty dollars for the book online, or up to sixty in your local game store. There’s a sequel in the works, Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Alien Archive 2, which is due out in October, though I’ve heard little more than that about it.
At it’s core, Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Alien Archive is a book of monsters. Like Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary, you’ll find a ton of monsters to fight and ally with inside this book, as well as some new player races. With that being said, there are a lot of differences between the Alien Archive and the many Bestiaries available for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. For starters, it’s shorter, with a typical Bestiary being around 325 pages in length, compared to the Alien Archive’s 159 pages. But, that’s only scratching the surface. The Alien Archive is also easier to use, and much more adaptable, than any Bestiary I’ve ever read. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
The Alien Archive features lovely cover art by Remko Troost, which shows off some of my favourite creatures inside the book–the dragonkin and the skittermander–as well as a robot. The inside front and back covers feature an image of the Pact Worlds, although it’s faded looking, instead of shiny and bright. After that we come to the table of contents.
The Alien Archive has sixty distinct monster entries inside it, many of which have more than one stat block or variation of that creature, making the actual number of foes inside larger than it seems (around ninety four). Of these, twenty-two are playable as character races. Each of these player races is differentiated from the other entries by a star beside their name, which is really useful for quickly referencing player options.
After the table of contents we reach the introduction. This is where we learn how the races are oriented, and how to read a stat block. While most of this is basic information that only a player new to d20 games with need to read, some of the information is quite important.
For starters, each of the stat blocks inside the Alien Archive is sorted into one of three categories: combatants (which excels in physical combat), experts (who are most effective with skills), and spellcasters (who rely on spells or spell-like abilities). These categories are represented by an icon in the left margin. These images are easy to distinguish and provide a quick and easy way for GMs to realize the role each monster plays in combat, which makes it super easy to find the type of creatures your looking for, or to quickly discern a creature’s tactics.
There’s also a few interesting things to note about the stat blocks themselves. Very few of the creatures inside have Resolve Points and none have Stamina Points. A creatures ability scores aren’t listed, instead, their stats show their ability modifiers. This is a simple change that will make it easier for GMs–especially new GMs–to handle unexpected situations (like unlisted skill checks) in combat. Not all of a creatures feats are listed in their entry. Instead, only feats that grant new combat options will be shown. Feats that grant static bonuses (like improved initiative, or skill focus) are already factored into the stat block and will not be listed anywhere at all. This really streamlines the stat blocks, and makes it easier to find important information fast. Similarly, not all of a creature or NPCs spells will be listed in a stat block. Instead, it only features their most powerful spellcasting options.
In addition to information provided in this chapter, I’d like to point out a few other things of note. Every one of the bestiary entries in this book is two side-by-side pages long. These entries include information on the creature, where they’re found, their use throughout the Pact Worlds, and their society–if they have one. Many of the entries include more than one stat block on a theme. For example, the Aeon Guard entry gives us stats for a CR 3 rank and file soldier, along with a CR 7 specialist, capable of working without support for weeks and months at a time. Similarly, the apari entry features the both the hive-like apari, and it’s tiny, bug-like constituents. Some entries include many stat-blocks, or simple grafts that can be added to a featured creature to make it into other versions. Examples of this include elementals, which are statted out by size and have grafts which apply the elemental abilities themselves (including air, earth, fire and water), and dragons, which have one age category statted out, rules for making other age categories, and grafts which can be applied to determine the dragon’s colour (including black, blue, green, red and white). In fact, as you’ll soon discover, grafts and templates are a common sight in the Alien Archive, and are used to great effect. Many of the archive entries introduce new gear or consumables. My personal favourites include the shadowstaff found on the draelik’s entry, and the bone cestus of the crest eater.
After this we come to the meat of the book: the Alien Archive itself. There are a ton of cool creatures in this book, and even some that I wasn’t sure I’d like on first perusal, I ended up really enjoying. Some of my favourites you should check out include the asteray, a CR 12 fey which is to space what mysterious water creatures like mermaids and nixies were to the oceans and waterways of golarion. I also adored the caypin, a CR 6 aquatic tentacle beast with eyeball mouth worms which can detach and explore their surroundings, before returning to the caypin’s face. Seriously cool! Electrovores were a fun, low level challenge I also really enjoyed, as were the radioactive fey, hesper.
Mixed amongst the monster entries are twenty-two playable races. Each entry features two different CR stat blocks representative of their race, a bunch of interesting information on their societies and home worlds, and a side bar which include the rules for playing them as a race. Although many of these were ‘humanoid shaped’, with arms and hands or some sort, there were some which were not, most notably the jellyfish-like barathu. This was just awesome to see, and I really enjoyed it! Some of the races and monsters from old Golarion were up for selection, including contemplatives, drow, and space goblins but many were brand new. I honestly loved a TON of these races, but my favourite new additions are dragonkin, ikeshti, sarcesians, and the cheerful skittermanders.
Curious about the playable races available in this book? Well, look no further! The Alien Archive includes:
Barathu: highly adaptable jellyfish-like race who float like blimps through the sky
Contemplative: telepathic creatures with massive brains and atrophied little bodies
Draelik: green, nihilistic, gaunt humanoids with ties to the negative energy plane
Dragonkin: large bipedal dragons who form a close bond with their soul-mate
Drow: dark-skinned, demon-worshipping, evil elves–a fantasy classic!
Formian: ant-like humanoids who live in hives and are resistant to sonic effects
Space Goblin: comical little runts with big heads, and bad attitudes. You know you love them!
Gray: small, hairless humanoids with bulbous heads and telepathic powers who abduct and experiment on other beings for unknown reasons
Haan: large insectile humanoids who can spew fire and create buoyant balloons of webbing
Ikeshti: small lizardfolk who live in desert wastes and can squirt blood from their eyes
Kalo: aquatic humanoids with wing-like fins who live in freezing cold waters
Maraquoi: primitive simians with prehensile tails who have exceptional hearing
Nuar: strong minotaurs with pale skin, a great sense of direction and an affinity for complex patterns
Reptoid: cold-blooded reptilians who can assume the appearance of specific individuals
Ryphorian: trimorphic elves who have adapted to the generations-long seasons of Triaxus
Sarcesian: large humanoids who can survive in a vacuum for a time, and grow glowing wings of energy in the void of space
Shobhad: large, four-armed, nomadic giants who are ferocious and quick
Skittermander: small, furry, six-armed humanoids with a cheerful disposition who love to lend a helping hand
Urog: large, crystalline magical beasts with meticulous minds, a lack of tact, and a resistance to electricity
Verthani: tall, long-limbed humanoids with black, orb-like eyes and skin capable of camouflage
Witchwyrd: terribly mysterious interstellar merchants with four-arms who are capable of absorbing force from magic missiles and launching them back at their enemies
Wrikreechee: amphibious, humanoid, filter-feeders who look like a mix between bugs and mollusks
Past the statistics for all those snazzy new aliens we come to arguably the most important part of the book: Appendix 1: Creating Races and NPCs. In Starfinder, monsters and NPCs–even those with class levels–are created differently than PCs. Within these fifteen pages you’ll find simple, easy to use instructions on how to make any kind of creature you can imagine. To use some options you’ll also need access to the Starfinder Core Rulebook, which shouldn’t be an issue, as if you’ve purchased the Alien Archive you probably own the Core Rulebook it already. And if you haven’t? Well, you really should! Haha.
My kids and I gave making monsters a try and found it very simple and easy to use. It makes use of a few handy charts, some simple templates and your creativity. That’s it, that’s all. For those of you more interested in the nitty gritty, I’ll give you a quick rundown. First: a concept. Figure out what you want to make and what CR. Next? Pick an array. That means deciding if it’s a combatant, expert or spellcaster. Then you look at the chart for that category. Each category has two charts for it, which give you the all the stats you need to make the monster. These numbers are the actual values you’ll be using, so you won’t need to do any calculations. These values include everything from ACs, and hp, to the amount of damage they’ll do with ranged and melee attacks. In addition, it lists how many extra special abilities they’ll be able to select later on.
Once you’ve got your stats you need to select your monster’s creature type from a list. Each of these will grant your monster a slight variation to its statistics, as well as a few other static abilities (typically related to its vision types, and innate immunities). For example, aberrations gain darkvision 60 feet, and a +2 to all Will saves, while fey gain low-light vision, +2 on Fortitude and Reflex saves, and a -1 to all attack rolls. Simple and easy. Once you’ve got your creature’s type applied, you pick out it’s subtype. Not all creatures will have one, but if they do, it will grant them some extra traits. Give your monster the cold subtype and they gain immunity to cold and vulnerability to fire. Give them the demon subtype and they gain immunity to electricity and poison, resistance 10 to acid, cold and fire, the ability to summon allies, and telepathy. Slightly more complicated than applying a creature type, but still easy.
What’s next? A class graft. Now, not all monsters will have a class graft, but many intelligent NPCs you make will. This is essentially a quick and easy way to give your creations access to class abilities. So, how does it work? First, you choose the class you want them to have, then you check out the class graft. This will have a requirement (for example, envoys need to use the expert array), a few adjustments (like which saving throws they get an extra bonus to, and which skills they’re best at), a quick formula for giving them equipment, and a helpful chart. On this chart you look up the CR you’re aiming for and check out which abilities you’ll be applying. Now, this isn’t the full class abilities, but rather a few of the best abilities, which the creature will be able to use. You’re not literally applying a whole class here, but just the selected items on this list. For example, if you’re making a CR 1 mystic, the chart tells you to select one first level connection power and one special ability. Pick those out and you’re done. If he’s instead CR 11, the chart tells you to select the first, third, sixth and ninth connection powers, mind link and telepathic bond. Done and done. Although not overly complicated, this is the most difficult step involved in monster creation.
Once you’re done with your class graft (if you’re adding one) you can choose to add a simple template. These are available later in the Alien Archive (in Appendix Three) and include choices like fiendish, giant and two-headed. These grafts are as easy to use as the creature type ones are, and take barely any time at all to add. There’s also some other templates found in the Alien Archive which can be chosen.
The next step is to select your monster’s special abilities. Depending on their array and CR they’ll have a number between one and four that they can choose from. In addition, some abilities are free. These abilities include things like feats, universal monster abilities, and statistic increases. You can also select abilities that show up in other stat blocks. If you’re like my son, you’ll want to make radioactive broken robots, so you could select an aura of radiation as one ability, the ability to shoot blasts of electricity as a second, construct immunities as a third, a vulnerability to critical hits (to represent their broken chassis), and have them self-destruct upon their destruction. If you’re like my daughter, you’ll want to make colossal sized flying space rabbits who shoot laser beams from their eyes, breathe fire from their noses and can survive in a vacuum. Yes, that’s seriously what she made. So pick up a breath weapon as your first ability, a ranged natural attack as your second, as well as immunity to cold, vacuums, and the no breath universal monster ability. This is also where you’ll decide what kind of attacks your monsters will use. Maybe the aforementioned radioactive robots have a slam attack with the stun critical ability, or perhaps their slams do bludgeoning and electricity damage. (My son’s pretty fond of both at once). And the flying space rabbits? Their bite attacks do piercing damage, and perhaps they can swallow you whole. But their laser beam eyes? Definitely fire damage.
Once you’re done with the special abilities, you can select your monster’s skills. Your array chart already gave you the skill points you’ll have, and how many you’ll be good at, but now’s the time you choose which skills those will be. This is a simple step, and will be done in a flash. Then you’re onto selecting spells and spell-like abilities (if your creature happens to have them from a class graft or a special ability you’ve chosen). If it does you check out a simple chart to see what you’ll be adding by CR, make your spell selections and away you go. If you happen to be making a CR 2 creature with Spell-like abilities, they’ll have two 0 level spells usable at will, and two first level spells each usable once per day. If they instead are CR 16, they’ll have two third level spells usable at will, four fourth level spells usable three time a day each, and two fifth level spells usable once a day each. The chart works the same for spellcasting, but with different numbers. Again, only the most powerful spells will be added into your stat block. Your CR 15 creatures won’t have level one spells available, since they’ll be much more likely to use their third fourth and fifth level spells during battle.
And now it’s time for the last step: checking it over. Take a gander at your creation and make sure it lives up to your concept.
And you’re done! It may sound complicated, but it’s actually very easy to use in practise. Even my kids, who are only six and seven, managed to make something fun, balanced, and unique in a short amount of time.
Once you’re done with the first appendix you move on to the second, which focuses on summoning creatures. Much like the monster creation process, this six page section makes use of charts and grafts, although this is infinitely simpler and easier. Each time you gain access to a summon creature spell you select four specific creatures that you can summon. But what are the options? They’re awesome is what they are! Balanced, thematic and adaptable all at the same time. So what do you do?
First, head on over to the elemental statistics. These will be the base stats for all summoned creatures. The level of summoning spell you’re using determines which size stat block you’ll be using. Then, check out the charts and select what you’re summoning. Is it an aeon, agathion, angel or archon? An elemental? what about a protean, robot or shadow creature? Depending on what you choose it will allow you to select either an elemental or summoning graft which you can then apply to the creature. These grafts are simple and easy to use. And that’s it! You’re done. Get summoning. I, for one, can’t wait.
Which brings us on to our third appendix: simple template grafts. This is two pages of simples grafts, which I already mentioned when I spoke about creating monsters. In addition to their use for monster creation, NPC creation and summoned creature statistics, you can also use these templates to quickly alter existing creatures into new creations.
Past this is our fourth and final appendix, which focuses on universal creature rules. Here you’ll find a listing of the common abilities that the different monsters in the Alien Archive have, which also happen to be abilities you can choose to give your monstrous creations.
So what’s left? An index which sorts the creatures by CR for ease of reference, and an advertisement at the back of the book.
That’s it. We’ve come to the end of the Alien Archive.
And what did I think?
I highly recommend this book for players, even if just to have access to the plethora of fun races, but for GMs? This book isn’t recommended, it’s necessity. You need it for the monsters inside, and you need it for the monster creation rules. Lucky for us, this book is just awesome! I’m supremely happy to own it.
And now it’s time to say goodbye!
But before I go, I want to hear from you! What’s your favourite creatures and races from the Alien Archive? What have you made with it? Let me know in the comments!