Pathfinder 2E Remaster: Monster Core review – Oh, monsters are scared, that’s why they’re monsters.

As you run out of the room with the giant blood monster swiping at your heels, you see the creature that belongs to the squishing sound you heard earlier has appeared from down the hall. The creature has a sickly mixture of yellow, gray, and black hues throughout its jelly-like substance of a body. As a member of your party trips and crashes into the wall, the jelly moves toward the sound. A throw of a dart towards the creature connects, but an acidic smoke and the smell of burning accompanies the strike. No matter what you do, the creature keeps oozing forward. I wonder what the creature would do if it met the unstoppable monster from the previous room…Creatures in a role-playing game can come in many different shapes, sizes, iterations, and are only limited by someone’s imagination. However, sometimes you don’t have the time to create or need a good starting place. Enter the Pathfinder Second Edition: Monster Core. 

The Monster Core is the third release of the Pathfinder Second Edition Remaster Project following the Player Core, reviewed here, and the GM Core, reviewed here. As stated in our previous reviews, the remaster project is really 2nd edition 2.5 rather than a brand new edition. As the world of role-playing games has evolved, publisher Paizo has taken errata, or updates and changes to rules, released since the 2nd edition release in 2019 and included some new content in the 2023 remaster. From the Paizo website:

“The new core rulebooks will also serve as a new foundation for our publishing partners, transitioning the game away from the Open Game License that caused so much controversy earlier this year to the more stable and reliable Open RPG Creative (ORC) license, which is currently being finalized with the help of hundreds of independent RPG publishers. This transition will result in a few minor modifications to the Pathfinder Second Edition system, notably the removal of alignment and a small number of nostalgic creatures, spells, and magic items exclusive to the OGL.”

The Monster Core features over 400 different monsters and is remaster’s greatest hits from the previously released Bestiary 1, 2, and 3. In this updated edition, Paizo aligns the selected monsters with the language from the remaster project, removes creatures borrowed from the Open Game License, and also creates some new creatures to fill those voids. Some creatures have been redesigned and updated to make them more balanced within the system and others have gotten a facelift to make the creatures look closer to the lore from which they were inspired. The remainder of this review will be focused on the book as a standalone product.

This book was created primarily for game masters as they take players through a campaign. The first part of the book introduces players to the organization of the rest of the book. Each creature comes with stat blocks with some of the same characteristics that players might have including hit points, armor class, the attacks they can use, and any other attributes that could affect its behavior in the game. The introduction also outlines how to adjust creatures to the level of your players and when given certain conditions.

The meat of this book comes in the list of monsters. Monsters are organized by creature or groups of related creatures with a brief description of each preceding the statistics of the individual monsters. Many creatures come with sidebar information that provides additional lore advice and rules on how to play the creature, location information, related creatures, and any treasures and rewards given when defeated. For example, when looking at the creature group of dragons, the sidebar information describes the shifts Pathfinder made to the different draconic groupings. Rather than color based and metallic dragons, dragons have shifted to magic classes of arcane, divine, occult, and primal. Another sidebar describes the conditions needed to find the different elemental creatures featured in the book such as a “Living Wildfire” or a “Water Scamp”. Creatures such as vampires and liches come with creation rules to be used in conjunction with other background traits that suit the story they are entering. 

Following the massive list of monsters, players will find an Appendix with a few sections to help them with playing a monster in the game. The ability and traits glossary helps players understand the actions and abilities listed in creature state bars in a further detail. The traits section describes how specific traits interact with other traits from player attacks and attributes of a creature’s attacks. More lists go into details surrounding rituals and languages. A “Creatures by Type” list helps players narrow down specific creatures holding unique capabilities. The final part of the book lists the names and page numbers by creature level to help game masters pick creatures adapted to a specific difficulty. In place of a normal glossary at the end of the book, a list of creatures in alphabetical order is found at the front of the book. 

The Monster Core is another great entry into the Pathfinder Remaster Project. The production is on par with previous releases. The user interface with the book makes it easy to find creatures by name, type, and even level. Now, in one small section of the “G” creatures, the header image switched to one from the Player Core, but it was a small mistake. There are many instances where pages from GM Core are referenced to give further insight into the rules surrounding playing the monsters in the game. The sidebar feature, also present in the other redesign core books, allows players to quickly flip through the book to find the creature names alphabetically. The artwork throughout the book is mystical and inviting. The artists take care to embody the fantasy elements of the creatures that help players…Even though it’s a small touch, having the images of the creatures overlap the text on the sides of the pages helps the monsters pop off the page making them feel more alive. Another thing I noticed about the creatures is the alignment to the lore that inspired them. Some of these discussed the inspiration behind the creatures abilities and some of the visual depictions, such as the archon angels, more closely portray their biblical references. Lastly, without spoilers, there are some fun takes on classic creatures and I will never look at the Tooth Fairy the same way again.

Lead Tabletop Editor | [email protected]

Dan is an educator from Colorado. Growing up as an Air Force dependent gained him lots of new perspectives on the world and a love for making new friends, especially over a good board game. When not at school or playing a board game, Dan is probably at the gym, attending a local sporting event, or performing or attending theater. Dan loves heavy euros, deck builders, living card games, and great solo rules.



Pathfinder 2E Remaster: Monster Core

Review Guidelines

Overall the Monster Core is a great addition to the core rulebooks for game masters and players who are just starting in the world of Pathfinder. Since all of the previously released Bestiaries are still relevant to the remaster project, players who own those books may not feel the need for a new book. However, as a standalone monster book, you get a ton of monsters, some great art, and plenty of content for most situations your players may encounter.

Dan Hinkin

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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