August New Releases

Hello, and welcome back to d20diairies! August 2019 is a crazy month for d20 releases, so buckle up! We’re in for one exciting ride!


Dungeons & Dragons

Although there’s no big D&D releases this month, highlights from last month include the first two releases in the Young Adventurer’s Guide line: Monsters & Creatures and Warriors & Weapons! Both of my kids are huge fans of these books. For more information check out our review on the Young Adventurer’s Guides here.


Pathfinder

Last month marked the finale of the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path with Pathfinder Adventure Path 144: Midwives to Death by John Compton. This was the final Pathfinder First Edition adventure to be released. But, as First Edition comes to an end, Second Edition begins. And WOW, there is a LOT of Pathfinder Second Edition products coming out this month!

First and foremost: The Core Rulebook (also available in a Deluxe Edition). This massive 638 page tome contains (almost) everything you need to get started playing Pathfinder Second Edition. With a highly intuitive gameplay system, and incredibly varied character development choices that can be made at every level, Pathfinder Second Edition is shaping up to be absolutely awesome. We’ve just finished reading the rules and can’t wait to get started playing some mini-adventures. GMs, like myself, will also need one other book to play: Bestiary! The Bestiary (also available in a Deluxe Edition) is 357 pages long and contains over 400 creatures with dynamic and diverse abilities. Coming out later this month is another hardcover I’m particularly excited for, Pathfinder Lost Omens World Guide, which advances Golarion’s timeline ten years and shows us what’s happening throughout ten mega-regions of the Inner Sea Region. There’s plenty of changes coming, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us.

The start of this month saw the launch of the first Pathfinder Second Edition Adventure Path: Age of Ashes! The first volume, Pathfinder Adventure Path 145: Hellknight Hill, is written by Amanda Hamon, while the second volume, Pathfinder Adventure Path 146: Cult of Cinders, is written by Eleanor Ferron. The first stand-alone Second Edition Adventure, The Fall of Plaguestone, is written by Jason Bulmahn.

Other Pathfinder Second Edition releases include Pathfinder GM Screens (available in landscape or portrait), Pathfinder Character Sheet PackPathfinder Combat Pad, and Pathfinder Condition Cards.

Maps this month include Pathfinder Flip-Tiles: Urban Sewers Expansion, Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Hamlet, and Pathfinder Flip-Mat: The Fall of Plaguestone. Fans looking for a deluxe gaming experience can check out Dwarven Forge’s Plague Stone series of terrain, which just went up for pre-sale.

Finally, this month brings us five Pathfinder Society Scenarios! Pathfinder Society Scenario #1-00: Origin of the Open Road, written by Ron Lundeen, is an introductory adventure that takes place in Quantium and is intended for level five pregenerated characters. Pathfinder Society Scenario #1-01: The Absalom Initiation, written by Lyz Liddell, is a repeatable scenario designed for Tiers 1–4 that takes place in Absalom. Pathfinder Society Scenario #1-02: The Mosquito Witch, written by Eleanor Ferron, is a Tier 1–4 scenario that tasks the PCs with tracking down a cryptid in the River Kingdoms. Pathfinder Society Scenario #1-03: Escaping the Grave, written by Adrian Ng, is a Tier 1–4 scenario that sends the PCs on a rescue mission to the Gravelands. Finally, Pathfinder Society Quest 1A: Sandstone Secret, written by Linda Zayas-Palmer, is a short, one-hour repeatable quest that takes place in Osirion.


Third Party (Pathfinder 2e) Releases

It may be new, but there’s already plenty of exciting Third Party Publisher releases for Pathfinder Second Edition. Although we haven’t had a chance to read many, below are a few we’re particularly excited for.

Everybody Games

Everybody Games has two issues of their ‘Files for Everybody’ line out. Issue 1: Nashi, by Alex Augunas, brings raccoon-folk to Second Edition, while Issue 2: Acrobatics Feats, by Dustin Knight, contains ten new General Acrobatics Skill feats.

Fat Goblin Games

Fat Goblin Games has two great looking products already out. Fellow Travellers: Animal Companions by Taylor Hubler contains over fifty new animal companions, while Game Changer: Alchemical Tools by Matt Roth contains over one hundred new or expanded alchemical tools from levels one through twenty.

Rusted Iron Games

Rusted Iron Games recently launched Tombstone, a gritty alternate history wild west setting compatible with Pathfinder Second Edition rules that pits PCs against monsters, magic, and The Blight, a terrifying infection from beyond the stars. A mixture of western, fantasy, and occult horror, it’s shaping up to be a fun and quirky twist on RPGs. Current releases in this line include Ancestries of Tombstone: Chupacabra by Joshua Hennington, Ancestries of Tombstone: Jackalope by Jacob W. Michaels, and Ancestries of Tombstone: Rougarou by Dennis Muldoon, all of which are available on DriveThruRPG. Upcoming releases include more ancestries, and class feats. My daughter has decided to make at least five jackalope characters — one for each heritage — so my PDF is proving well worth the money.


Starfinder

Although Pathfinder Second Edition is drawing a lot of attention, the Starfinder team is not to be outdone! This month’s releases include Starfinder Adventure Path 18: Assault on the Crucible (finale to the Dawn of Flame Adventure Path!), Starfinder Adventure Path 19: Fate of the Fifth (beginning of the Attack of the Swarm! Adventure Path!), and Starfinder RPG: Alien Archive 3, which contains over 100 new aliens, and over a dozen playable races.

Other Starfinder releases include Starfinder Pawns: Tech Terrain and Starfinder Flip-Mat: Ice World. Starfinder Society Scenarios include #2-05: Meeting of Queens, a Tier 1–4 scenario written by Kiel Howell that involves the formians of Castrovel, and Starfinder Society Scenario #2-06: The Stumbling Society, Part One: Sangoro’s Lament, a Tier 5–8 scenario written by Mike Kimmel that delves into abandoned Exo-Guardian’s fortress of Sangoro’s Bulwark.


WizKids

And finally, WizKids! This month saw the launch of the Pathfinder Battles: Legendary Adventures Preview Pack, an 8 miniature sneak peak of the upcoming Pathfinder Battles: Legendary Adventures miniatures. Later this month D&D: Icons of the Realms: Baldur’s Gate: Descent in Avernus is scheduled to launch! This set of random booster boxes features 45 different plastic pre-painted miniatures.


And that’s what we’re touching on this month! Got a favourite release? I’d love to hear about it!

Happy shopping!

Jessica

Custom Creations: Scintrix

Hello, and welcome to d20 diaries!

Early in July I participated in a mini-competition on Freelance Forge (a very welcoming private forum for freelancers in the tabltetop RPG industry that I highly recommend aspiring freelancers join!) that challenged participants with creating a Starfinder creature themed around the phrase ‘Red, White, and BOOM!’ — a topic meant to bring to mind Independence Day but, as a Canadian, I immediately thought of Canada Day (happily they both involve fireworks! Haha). The goal of the competition is not to win, but to get inspired, practise making creatures, and to give and receive feedback on each others creations, so that we improve our skills. It was a lot of fun — both the act of creating, and getting to read everyone else’s entries. With the competition over I decided to incorporate some of the feedback I received and post my newly-polished, explosive little creature on d20 diaries.

Introducing… the scintrix!


SCINTRIX
CR
5                       XP 1,600
CN Medium fey
Init +5; Senses low-light vision; Perception +11

DEFENSE
HP 70; RP 4
EAC 17; KAC 19
Fort +9; Ref +9; Will +4
Defensive Abilities vanishing trick

OFFENSE
Speed 40 ft., Climb 20 ft.
Melee bite +13 (1d6+8 P)
Ranged brilliant bolt +10 (1d6+5 E & F)
Offensive Abilities explosive entrance
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 5th)
At will—dancing lights

STATISTICS
Str +3; Dex +5; Con +1; Int +0; Wis +1; Cha +2
Skills Acrobatics +11, Stealth +16, Survival +11
Languages Common, Sylvan
Other Abilities aglow, compression

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Aglow (Ex) A scintrix increases the light level by one step out to a radius of 10 feet. This glow is suppressed while the scintrix is invisible.

Brilliant Bolt (Su) As an attack, a scintrix can shoot a brightly colored bolt of energy from its body at a single target, which explodes upon impact in a shower of sparkling rainbow-hued light. This attack has a range increment of 60 ft. and the aurora weapon special property.

Explosive Entrance (Su) A scintrix that uses its bite attack while under the effects of vanishing trick reappears with an explosive bang and a flash of scintillating colors. Any creature within 10 feet, other than scintrix, must succeed at a DC 13 Fortitude save or be blinded for 1d3 rounds; on a successful save the creature is instead dazzled for 1d3 rounds.

Vanishing Trick (Su) As a standard action a scintrix can cause its body to disappear, leaving only its eyes and mouth visible. This functions as if the scintrix were invisible. The scintrix can maintain this invisibility as long as they desire, though it ends immediately if the scintrix attacks, sleeps, falls unconscious, or dies. By spending 1 Resolve Point, a scintrix can instead activate vanishing trick as a move action.

ECOLOGY
Environment any forest, jungle, or plains
Organization solitary, pair, or flare (3–7)


Scintrix are the fey embodiment of shock, surprise, and sudden excitement – a burst of vibrant energy given life and shifting form. At home in forests, jungles, and plains, throughout the universe, scintrix are most commonly found on planets with particularly vibrant colors, wild magic, unpredictable weather, or thin planar boundaries. Where nature, physics, or magic defy logic, scintrix are sure to appear.

Scintrix are animalistic quadrupeds with a stocky, thick-set body, gleaming eyes, and a wide grinning mouth filled with white sharp teeth. Their bodies are a kaleidoscope of brightly colored, shifting streaks of light that crackle and burst with energy. Only their eyes, mouth, paws, the tips of their short, pointed ears, and the ends of their frazzled, bushy tail remain stable. Despite appearing as bursts of light and color, the body of a scintrix is squishy and pliable, capable of squeezing through spaces much smaller than their size suggests.

Cunning and clever, with an appetite for fun as well as meat, scintrix are pranksters that take great glee in surprising their prey before devouring them. Stealth hunters, scintrix can become unnaturally quiet and still at a moment’s notice, vanishing from sight almost completely, with only their eyes and mouth remaining visible. They stalk their prey, leaping out to attack only when their prey is completely unaware. Their appearance is marked by a loud bang, blinding flash of light, and bursts of scintillating color.

Vain and talkative, scintrix prefer to hunt intelligent beings. Playful, they enjoy toying with their food, bursting in and out of a fight with crackling laughter, only to vanish and surprise their prey again later. When faced with particularly entertaining prey, scintrix are known to draw their hunts out over weeks, engage their foe in conversation, or take their prey captive as pets. Unfortunately for such prisoners, scintrix are easily bored.

Custom Creations: Sky Bunnies

Hello, and welcome to d20diaries!

My kids love playing roleplaying games and, on occasion, they take the time to create monsters, locations, and adventures of their own. Yesterday I shared a critter created by my son for the Tails of Equestria: Storytelling Game called Mini Notes. Today, we’re taking a look at a creature made by my daughter: Sky Bunnies!

Tails of Equestria is a family-friendly RPG that’s accessible, engaging, and fun to play. Based on the popular My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic television show, Tails of Equestria emphasizes teamwork, kindness, and friendship. For more information on Tails of Equestria check out this blog post.


Sky Bunnies

Body: D6         Mind: D4          Charm: D4         Stamina: 10

Talents: Consume (D8), Fly (D8)

Quirks: Animal

Cute and cuddly but vicious, the nimble sky bunnies dance from cloud to cloud. They are constantly hungry and even though they love to eat ponies best they’ll swoop down from the sky and eat everything they see! They move around a lot, flying off to new places as soon as food or animals are running out.

Sky Bunnies


My daughter hopes you love her ‘vicious cutie pie.’

Thanks for stopping by!

Jessica
(and family)

Custom Creations: Mini Notes

Hello, and welcome to d20diaries!

My kids love playing roleplaying games and, on occasion, they take the time to create monsters, locations, and adventures of their own. Over the next two days we’re going to share a pair of critters they created for Tails of Equestria: Storytelling Game, a family-friendly RPG that’s accessible, engaging, and fun to play. Based on the popular My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic television show, Tails of Equestria emphasizes teamwork, kindness, and friendship. For more information on Tails of Equestria check out this blog post.

Today we’re showing off my son’s creation. He’s hopes you enjoy it!


Mini Notes 

Body: –         Mind: D8          Charm: D4         Stamina: 6

Talents: Teeny Tiny (D6), Creative flair: music (D6), Special skill: dancing (D6)

Quirks: Unliving

Special: Must sing instead of speak

Mini Notes are tiny creatures that love to sing and dance. Especially brainy, they are quick, clever, and always sing instead of speak. Their love of music usually brings them to towns and cities with lots of music and festivals. In the wild they are often found near birds or whales.

Mini Notes


He’s very proud.

Thanks for stopping by!

Jessica
(and family)

Review: Monsters & Creatures and Warriors & Weapons!

Hello, and welcome to d20diaries!

A new series of Dungeons & Dragons books aimed at children is scheduled to launch next week and we are absolutely thrilled to be in possession of advance copies of these delightful new books, which we’re going to share with you today!

The Dungeons & Dragons Young Adventurer’s Guide series is written by Jim Zub, Stacy King, and Andrew Wheeler. The series begins with two simultaneous releases on July 16th, 2019: ‘Monsters and Creatures’ and ‘Warriors and Weapons.’ There are two more books in development that are scheduled to be released in Fall 2019 (Dungeons & Tombs: A Young Adventurer’s Guide) and Spring 2020 (Wizards & Spells: A Young Adventurer’s Guide) and, if they’re popular enough, there may be more beyond that in the future. The D&D Young Adventurer’s Guide series is intended for middle-grade readers (ages 8-12) and meant to inspire these young readers to read, write, create, imagine, and of course, play D&D. The American cover price for each of the books is $12.99, with the Canadian cover price $17.50. Each book is 105 pages long.

Young Advendturer's Guide

Before we take an in depth look at each of the books individually, let’s talk first impressions…

These books look and feel great! They have high quality hard covers, sturdy glossy pages, tons of unique full colour art, and a design aesthetic that’s in line with the adult D&D releases. These books feel like they’re a part of the Dungeons & Dragons line — which is absolutely awesome! It makes my kids feel like these books are just as important as the rest of our D&D books, which in turn makes them feel included and a part of the hobby.

Taken on their own, the Young Adventurer’s Guides have a nice layout, easy to read text, beautiful art, and are well organized. They’re approachable, interesting, engaging, and clearly written for kids, but, at the same time, the books don’t talk down to the reader. These books are written with care, and meant to provide younger audiences an easy to understand introduction to the world of roleplaying games and storytelling, as well as inspire them to make the world and stories their own.

Young Adventurers Guides

I have two children, a seven year old girl and an eight year old boy, making them on the young end of the intended audience for these books. Both of my kids have very good reading comprehension for their age. That said, both of my kids thoroughly enjoyed these books. My son had no problem reading the books and seemed to understand everything he read. My daughter, understandably, had more trouble, having to sound out a tricky word or two with each flip of the page, and often asking for definitions of words. Despite this, she was fully engaged with reading the books, and never got frustrated. As is typical with many fantasy books, the trickiest words are fictional names of characters and places. While many kids will stumble over these words once or twice before internalizing them, just as many will skip over them and move on. My son didn’t come across any content that he found inappropriate or too mature for him, while my daughter came across a few creatures she decided were a little ‘too spooky’ for her right now, so she skipped those pages and continued on enjoying the rest of the book. Considering the age and reading abilities of my kids, I think these books are well suited to the middle-grade reader level they’re advertised as. My kids loved them, and they definitely have room to grow with the books. We haven’t had them long and already my kids have read and re-read them more than a few times. They’ve already started utilizing information they picked up from the books in their play, storytelling, roleplaying, and gaming. These are the sort of books my kids get a ton of use out of, coming back to them often, and using different sections for inspiration at different times.

It’s important to note that these books are NOT a replacement for the D&D Player’s Handbook or the Monster Manual. The Young Adventurer’s Guides do NOT contain game mechanics or rules. They lay out the major concepts, roles, gear, and monsters in a way that is easy to understand, approachable, and engaging. They’re meant to inspire creativity, without overwhelming readers with rules. I highly recommend this series for for any kids who love adventure, fantasy, horror, monsters, roleplaying, storytelling, or who have exposure to RPGs.


Monsters & CreaturesMonsters & Creatures: A Young Adventurer’s Guide is an illustrated guide to the many beasts of Dungeons & Dragons. Featuring one-of-a-kind entries for some of its most memorable monsters, and over 60 brand new illustrations, this book is sure to ignite the imagination of young readers. This book begins with a short, one page introduction which gives the book some context and explains the books ‘Danger Levels,’ which is a 0-5 point scale meant to show how tough a creature is. Although similar to Challenge Ratings in D&D, these numbers are NOT equivalent. Beginning at 0, which denotes a creature that is essentially harmless, moving on to 1, which is an acceptable challenge for low-level or beginning adventurers, and ending at 5, which is a difficult challenge for high level heroes. There is one Danger Level higher than this: EPIC, which denotes a creature so powerful only the most legendary heroes could hope to triumph over it.

Monsters & Creatures - Inside Cover

The creatures in this book are sorted by the regions they call home, beginning with underground creatures, which are found in ‘Caverns & Dark Places,’ moving up onto the surface with ‘Forests, Mountains, & Other Terrain’ dwelling creatures (which also includes a special sub-chapter on giants of all kinds). Following this is ‘Moors, Bogs, and Boneyards,’ a chapter which primarily focuses on undead creatures with a special sub-chapter on vampires, and ‘Oceans, Lakes & Waterways,’ which is packed full of aquatic creatures. Finally, airborne monsters can be found in ‘Mountain Peaks & Open Sky,’ which also contains a special sub-chapter on dragons. Each monster profile contains information on the size of each beast, its danger level, and tips for how to survive an encounter with one. There’s also lore, special abilities and powers, typical tactics, and a handy list of do’s and don’ts for dealing with these beasts. Finally, new art! This book is packed full of it!

Monsters & Creatures also features encounters, which are short, one page stories that introduce a famous D&D character, place them in a perilous situation involving one of the described creatures, and then ends, leaving each opening scene with a cliffhanger ending. Following this is questions that ask the reader what they think the characters should do next, what would happen in response to those actions, and what the characters should do afterwards. These encounters are meant to guide kids to roleplay their own endings to exciting stories, and question the ramifications of their actions. This problem-solving is a great way to introduce kids to RPGs as both a player and DM.

The book ends with a short chapter on how to use monsters to tell stories, and important questions to contemplate for kids who decide to make stories or engage in RPGs on their own. Things like, ‘who are your characters,’ ‘where does your story take place,’ ‘how do things change as the story proceeds,’ and so on. Finally, there’s a short blurb about Dungeons & Dragons, and how to get into the game.

So what creatures, exactly, are featured in Monsters & Creatures? Plenty! ‘Caverns & Dark Places’ includes the beholder, bugbear, carrion crawler, flumph, goblin, mind flayer, myconid, and the legendary Demogorgon. ‘Forests, Mountains & Other Terrain’ includes the centaur, displacer beast, owlbear, sprite, treant, unicorn, hill giant, stone giant, frost giant, fire giant, cloud giant, storm giant, and the legendary fire giant Duke Zalto. ‘Moors, Bogs & Boneyards’ includes the banshee, skeleton, vampire lord, vampire spawn, and the legendary vampire Count Strahd Von Zarovich. ‘Oceans, Lakes & Waterways’ includes the aboleth, dragon turtle, and merrow. ‘Mountain Peaks & Open Sky’ includes the griffon, pegasus, white dragon, green dragon, black dragon, blue dragon, red dragon, and the legendary Tiamat, Queen of Evil Dragons! Encounters are included for the frost giant, green dragon, myconid, skeleton, and unicorn. My son most enjoyed reading about unicorns, flumphs, blue dragons, and vampires. My daughter most enjoyed reading about the beholder, flumph, dragon turtle, dragons, and Tiamat. My daughter also came across a few creatures that she decided, either from the art or after reading the first few sentences, were ‘too spooky’ for her. She promptly skipped those monsters and moved on with the book. The monsters she skipped were the carrion crawler (she’s afraid of bugs), the aboleth (she thought it looked creepy), and the mind flayer (it had a giant brain behind it and she was pretty sure she didn’t want to know why).

The verdict:

As an adult reader, I was pleasantly surprised with the array of creatures featured in this book. There’s a lot of iconic monsters in here, a ton of fantasy staples, and some quirky creatures that most kids will be discovering for the first time. Some of the choices were a bit gutsy for a kids book — the mind flayer and demogorgon, for example — but I’m thrilled to see them included. I’m pleased to see that not all of the monsters are evil creatures, there’s plenty that can be befriended or negotiated with.  The information included in the monster entries is absolutely wonderful. There’s integral information, great advice, and enough engaging descriptions to get my kids interested and curious. The encounters were a definite highlight of the book, as was the beautiful new artwork found throughout. The book is high-quality and sturdy, which is important since our copy is sure to take a beating. I’m far from the intended audience for this book, but I really enjoyed reading it. Even more than that, I loved sharing this book with my kids. I loved watching them discover and wonder over the creatures inside. Monsters & Creatures is a refreshing new take on the world and lore of D&D, sure to delight young readers, spark their imagination, and inspire them to tell stories of their own. Cover to cover it’s great fun.

My daughter: “I loved this book. It was fun to read and the pictures were beautiful! I give it two thumbs up! I think I will read it again and again. I really loved the flumph! It was the best creature in the book. That’s what I think.”

My son: “I think that I love this book. All kinds of kids should read it. I think most would love it, too! Especially if they already like D&D and RPGs and things. I think that it is fun and I’m going to read it a lot!”

“Monsters & Creatures is a refreshing new take on the world and lore of D&D, sure to delight young readers, spark their imagination, and inspire them to tell stories of their own. Cover to cover it’s great fun.”

Warriors & Weapons


Warriors & Weapons: A Young Adventurer’s Guide is an illustrated introductory guide to the many kinds of warriors you can create in Dungeons & Dragons, along with the weapons, armour, and adventuring gear that they’ll make use of. Featuring one-of-a-kind content and over sixty new illustrations, this book gives young adventurers the information and inspiration they need to create their own characters.

Warriors & Weapons begins with a quick introduction that makes it clear that this book is meant to help the reader and their friends make characters of their own. The rest of the book is divided into three major sections: fantasy races, character classes, and equipment. There’s a large array of fantasy races covered in this book — most I expected to see included, but a few were surprises that I knew of but didn’t expect to make the cut. Each race is covered in two side-by-side pages. It starts with new art and a few questions that can help kids figure out if they’ll like playing that race. You’ll also find information on their age, size, attributes, and a few paragraphs about the race and how they act or fit into the world. The races included in this book are human, dwarf, elf, gnome, half-elf, half-orc, halfling, dragonborn, kenku, tabaxi, tiefling, and tortle.

Gnome

Warriors & Weapons is a book about warriors. It should come as no surprise then, that not all of the character classes are covered in this book. The martial classes are included. That means there are six classes covered in the chapter on classes: barbarian, fighter, monk, paladin, ranger, and rogue. Each class entry contains a few questions that can help kids figure out if they would enjoy making a character of that class, information on the class, its major low level abilities, and the weapons, armour, and gear they’re capable of using. Many also include information on the various archetypes, paths, and specializations available to those classes. After each class entry is a two page spread that takes a look at a famous example of that character class. These ‘legendary heroes’ include Wulfgar the Warhammer, Bruenor Battlehammer, Whey-Shu, Redclay, Minsc the Mighty, and Shandie Freefoot. The class section also includes a little flowchart that can tell kids what class they’re most like, and a short section on character backgrounds, attire, details, inspiration, and flaws.

The Equipment section takes a quick look at weapons (swords, polearms, other melee weapons, ranged weapons, and special weapons), armour (light, medium, heavy, and shields), survival gear, adventuring gear, tools, and some special packs for more specialized endeavours (burglar’s pack, dungeoneer’s pack, explorer’s pack, and vampire hunter’s pack). All of the weapon and armour entries talk about the pros and cons of utilizing items of that types, and showcases a few popular versions. The other equipment entries talk about the purpose of different kinds of gear, being prepared for your adventures, and why selecting the right equipment for your character is important. Finally, this section also contains a quick monster entry about the terrifying… rust monster!

Survival Gear

The book ends with a few comments about how you can use your characters to tell stories of your own, and a quick blurb about Dungeons & Dragons and how to get involved in the game. Most of the information on these back few pages is the same as that contained at the end of Monsters & Creatures.

The verdict: 

My kids both adored this book. They love flipping through the races and classes, answering the questions, and making up characters. My daughter particularly enjoys the flowchart that helps you pick out the class you’re most like, and has spent a lot of time making up her own quizzes to determine our race and class. She often sits down beside me, flips open her book, and announces, “Mama! Pick a race!” I cannot stress enough how much she enjoys using this book to make characters and character concepts. My son really enjoys reading about the legendary heroes, with both of my kids agreeing Minsc the Mighty and his hamster Boo are the coolest characters in the book. (I’m pretty sure Boo the hamster would win in a popularity contest between the two of them around here, haha). When it comes down to it, I think they enjoy the sections on races and classes more than the section on equipment. Warriors & Weapons is, without a doubt, a book that has sparked my kid’s imaginations. It’s inspired them to create characters, make stories, and share their ideas with the people around them. With a few flips of the page they imagine themselves heroes. And what could be better than that? This book is sure to have a place on my kids’ bookshelves for years to come.

My daughter: “I loved this book! Especially the little chart! It’s so much fun! It was a great book and I give it two thumbs up!”

My son: “Warriors & Weapons was pretty much as good as Monsters & Creatures, but I liked Monsters & Creatures better. I love how it lets you make your own characters with races and classes. The legendary characters were the coolest part. Especially Whey-Shu and Boo.”

“Warriors & Weapons is, without a doubt, a book that has sparked my kid’s imaginations. It’s inspired them to create characters, make stories, and share their ideas with the people around them. With a few flips of the page they imagine themselves heroes. And what could be better than that? This book is sure to have a place on my kids’ bookshelves for years to come.”


My family and I had an absolute blast with these books. Monsters & Creatures and Warriors & Weapons have both been read a lot by my kids, and I expect them to continue to see heavy use in the future. My kids have already decided they would each like their own copies, so they’re saving up their money to pick up an extra copy of each book. We’re very excited to hear there’s more Young Adventurer’s Guides on the horizon, and will definitely be picking up a copy (or two) of Dungeons & Tombs and Wizards & Spells when they come out.

We’d like to give a special thanks to Penguin Randomhouse Canada for sending us advance copies for review.

Thanks for stopping by d20diaries! We’ll chat again soon.

Jessica

 

Alien Archive 2

For my birthday yesterday my family gifted me a wonderful book I’ve been itching to get my hands on: Starfinder Alien Archive 2! And what better way to celebrate than to share it with all of you? So today we’re taking a deep dive into the latest Alien Archive! Ready?

Let’s go!

Starfinder Alien Archive 2
Starfinder Alien Archive 2

Alien Archive 2 is an awesome supplement book for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game. This book has a hardcover, and is 159 pages in length. 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. It’s currently on sale for around $32 Canadian on that handy link I posted, so I highly recommend picking it up cheap while you can.

At it’s core, Alien Archive 2 is a book of monsters. You’ll find a ton of creatures to fight and ally with inside this book, as well as some new player races. The book is easy to use, adaptable, and well organized. It also has some new character options, like new spells, equipment, and feats, scattered amongst the monster entries.

The Alien Archive features lovely cover art by Remko Troost which depicts a glitch gremlin, a mi-go, and a trox. The inside front and back covers feature an image of the Pact Worlds. After that we come to the table of contents. Alien Archive 2 has sixty-five 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 one hundred and twenty-six by my count). Of these, sixteen are playable as character races. There are also three starships, and twenty-six template grafts.

Combatant
Combatant

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 will need to read, some of the information is quite important. Of course, all of this will be business as usual for owners of the first Alien Archive.

Expert
Expert

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.

Spellcaster
Spellcaster

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.

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Starfinder Alien Archive

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 Forman entry gives us stats for a CR 7 taskmaster, along with a CR 10 myrmarch. Similarly, the akata entry features the both the akata and the void zombie, which are controlled by its parasitic offspring. Some entries include many stat-blocks (such as the herd animals, predators, and dinosaurs) or include simple grafts that can be added to a featured creature to make it into other versions (such as metallic and outer dragons). Many of the archive entries introduce new gear, rules, or consumables. My personal favourites include the arquand horns found on the arquand gazelle’s entry, the glass skin of the glass serpent, and the apocalypse solarian weapon crystals from the living apocalypse.

Alien Archive 2 - Glass Serpent -Armor
Armour made from a Glass Serpent

After this we come to the meat of the book: the aliens 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 squox, a CR 1/3 or 1 creature which is utterly adorable and makes a fabulous pet. I also adored the adaptable entries on dinosaurs, herd animals, and predators, each of which comes with a sample stat block for a creature of each size, followed by simple rules for how to make an innumerable combination of custom creatures of those types. It’s simple, incredibly useful, and has awesome art. LOVE IT. Glitch gremlins were a fun low level challenge I also really enjoyed, as were the akatas, which I’m thrilled to see included. For a great high-level challenge check out the calecor and the living apocalypse.

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Starfinder: Alien Archive Pawn Box

Mixed amongst the monster entries are sixteen 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 mollusk-like embri, and the  silicon-based quorlu. 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 aasimar, tieflings, ghorans, hobgoblins, orcs, and trox,  but many were brand new. I honestly loved a TON of these races, but my favourite new additions are damai, osharu, pahtra, and the wolf-like vlaka.

Curious about the playable races available in this book? Well, look no further! The Alien Archive includes:

  • Aasimar: celestial blooded humanoids you’ll find under ‘planar scion’
  • Bolida: armoured burrowing arthropods with a wide array of senses
  • Damai: pale, scrappy humanoids forced to hide underground from the colossi they share their world with
  • Embri: masked, mollusk like aberrations with a rigid social order secretly controlled by the forces of hell
  • Ghoran: delicious plant beings from Golarion who have terraformed their own planet-paradise and genetically split into two subraces: oaklings and saplings
  • Hobgoblin: tall, war-mongering, militaristic humanoids with faces similar in appearance to goblins
  • Kanabo: a red-skinned oni, which is a type of evil spirit given a physical form
  • Orc: strong humanoids conditioned as slave labour by the drow of Apostae
  • Osharu: slug-like creatures that view religion and science as intertwined
  • Pahtra: asexual cat-like humanoids that adore music and battle
  • Phentomite: agile humanoids acclimated to thin atmospheres and high altitudes that live on a broken planet
  • Quorlu: silicon based quadrupeds with tentacle arms and eyestalks capable of digging through earth and stone
  • Tiefling: fiendish blooded humanoids you’ll find under ‘planar scion’
  • Trox: large, chitinous, gentle humanoids that have been magically transformed since their time on Golarion
  • Uplifted Bear: intelligent, bipedal bears that you’ll find under ‘bear’
  • Vlaka: wolf-life humanoids from a dying world often born deaf or blind

Past the statistics for all those snazzy new aliens we come to the Appendixes, of which there are eleven. Appendix One contains two pages of creature subtype grafts and Appendix Two contains two and a half pages of environmental grafts. Appendix Three contains rules for the polymorphing creatures. This section is around seven pages long and frankly, feels quite complicated to me. Definitely not something my kids could use. Appendix Four contains all of the universal creature special abilities. Appendix Five, Six, and Seven are very short, sorting the creatures in the Alien Archive 2 by CR, type, and  terrain. Appendix Eight lists the template grafts and the pages they can be found on, while Appendix Nine lists the new character options and gear and the pages they can be found on.  Appendix Ten contains a chart of average vital statistics for all playable races from Alien Archive, Alien Archive 2, and for the Legacy Races from the Starfinder Core Rulebook. Finally, Appendix Eleven is a list of the playable races and their page numbers.

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Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook

That’s it. We’ve come to the end of the Alien Archive 2.

And what did I think?

In short: I loved it. Alien Archive 2 is packed full of a wide array of monsters and cool races. Many of the stat blocks are highly adaptable, there’s plenty of new templates and grafts that help with monster creation, summon spells, and polymorph. There’s content in here for players and GMs. I’m supremely happy to own Alien Archive 2, and highly recommend it to fans of Starfinder!

Want a sneak peek at some of the playable races? Check out the image below! Got a favourite creature from Alien Archive 2? let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

Jessica