Summary: An Enormous Bestiary, in 3 Parts
I'll keep this short and sweet: I'm pretty sure this project is the largest, most ambitious, Bestiary in RPG history.
It will result in a crazy horde of content, usable in any game or campaign setting for Pathfinder or 5E:
- ~450+ unique monsters.
- ~1,800+ total statblocks.
- Quadded Statblocks: Every single monster can be fielded in any adventure of the GM/DM's choosing: thanks to the miracle of this approach (check out the free PDF), each monster comes with 4 distinct stat blocks, covering a wide spread of difficulty levels.
- 3 massive PDFs.
- 3 massive hardcover books.
- ~1,400+ pages of total planned content.
- Additional content and GM tools via unlocked Stretch Goals (see below).
- A GM/DM's dream come true of immediately-playable, insanely-versatile monster content!
Three separate books will be produced:
Volumes 1 and 2 will focus on a complete panoply of OGL and related critters, and will contain about 400 monsters between them.
These are many of the beasties common to fantasy RPGs you know and love. Fundamental building blocks of combat and encounters, beloved monstrosities.
The below was revamped in response to 5E-specific feedback. I will endeavor to make both 5E and Pathfinder look as nice as possible, while still preserving pagecount and viewability of all of the detailed crunch that needs to be in there.
Why should I care about them?
Well, the main reason is that it's not just 400 monsters... it's actually 1,200. Far beyond what you might be able to put your hands on for free online.
That's because each and every critter gets the Quadded Statblock treatment. You may know the Ankheg, for example, as a CR 3 creature, and as a GM, might throw it up against PCs of level 1-5. But what if your adventurers are higher level?
ABR: Volumes 1 & 2 will have stats to field Ankhegs all the way up to CR 16, enough challenge for PCs of virtually any level. Four Ankhegs, specifically, at CR 3, CR 8, CR 12, and CR 16.
Okay, So Why Two Volumes for OGL?
Each monster gets 2-4 pages of content (see the Skelettin example), so the scope of what I want to include will unfortunately not fit in a single tome.
Creatures will be split across the two volumes in alphabetical order (so Volume 1 will be something like A-M, and Volume 2 will be N-Z).
Volume 3: The Aquilae Bestiary
Volume 3 will feature all brand-new creatures, specific to the campaign setting of Aquilae. Some of these have been introduced in the Dark Obelisk line of books.
Although they're part of the Aquilae campaign setting, you can of course use them in any setting or adventure you like.
How many new creatures? Depends on how much funding we get! I'm guessing and hoping for around 50, ideally each with its own custom artwork.
What Pledge Level Does What?!?
I try to provide options to every backer who has asked for them. This tends to err on the side of too much complexity. I get that. I'm sorry.
This might help.
Add-On Unlocked Stretch Goals
These will be handled in BackerKit following the KS campaign. This list will be amended based on how Stretch Goals are slain.
- OSRIC / 1E / S&W Edition: $10 PDF, $50 full-color hardcover. PDF automatically included in Beastmaster, Hardened Beastmaster, and Xenophile pledge levels.
- FlexTale Encounter Generator (FTEG): Free PDF to all pledge levels; $15 softcover. The estimated price for this hardcopy will definitely evolve as we unlock additional stretch goals.
- Virtual ABR Tokens: $10. These are image files, intended for use in VTT games or other purposes. This add-on will include a token for each and every monster, in every book produced as a result of this Kickstarter, that has an illustration. So that includes ABR volumes 1, 2, and 3, as well as Incarnae of Aquilae (if it's unlocked).
- Incarnae of Aquilae: This fourth volume will likely be a $45 add-on in hardcover. The PDF will likely be $20, if it's not unlocked as part of our Cyber Monday press (i.e., hitting $22k by end of day on Monday, November 27th).
- Monster Cards: $TBD. A physical, printed deck (remember, the PDF is free with your non-Lurker pledge) of monster images. GM/player versions, pricing, etc. all TBD unfortunately as I research the best way to go about this. Full information will be included in the BackerKit Add-On.
Add-On Crunch from Other Products
- Dark Obelisk 1 Character Compendium (Pathfinder only): $20 PDF, $35 hardcover & PDF. This book of 419 pregenerated characters.
- Dark Obelisk 2 Character Compendium (Pathfinder only): $20 PDF, $35 hardcover & PDF. The upcoming book of ~400 pregenerated characters as described in this KS campaign.
- Dark Obelisk 2 Villainous Compendium (Pathfinder only): $20 PDF, $35 hardcover & PDF. Upcoming book of 10-50 villains and henchmen and monstrous characters, as described in this KS campaign.
In addition to the following specific, milestone Stretch Goals, keep in mind that the more pledges we get, the more illustrations we'll be able to include in all three Volumes.
My ultimate goal would be to give each and every monster its own illustration... but that will be somewhat ludicrously expensive. However, my backers have shown me in the past that their generosity and belief has a way of surprising me immensely, so never say never.
That said, my priority with commissioning artwork will be an emphasis on getting new, custom creatures (Vol 3) illustrated. I'll also make sure there's at least a hefty portion of the Vol 1/2 critter pictures too, though.
- UNLOCKED! $3,000: FlexTale Encounter Generator (FTEG): Another product promised as part of the DO2 KS, everyone at non-Lurker pledge levels will receive a PDF of this versatile tool to generate an infinite number of random encounters. Also available as a softcover Add-On ($15). Learn more about FlexTale, and associated tools, with a free PDF download here.
- UNLOCKED! $3,500: Index by CR: A full Index listing monsters by CR, across all three Volumes. This will be a massive list, likely its own PDF, and depending on the size, a standalone softcover as well!
UNLOCKED! $4,000: Encounter Tables.
By terrain, by theme, by enemy Type, and by Alignment.
UNLOCKED! $5,000: FlexAI.
Power versatile combat decisions using quick and easy tables. Each monster will have a mapping to "FlexAI tables", which are randomized tables that dictate combat behavior based on environmental conditions. Leveraging the power of FlexTables, FlexAI will allow for context-sensitive combat decisions. An Aggressive Brute monster, for example, might have a 75% chance of attacking in melee normally, but if it's reduced to fewer than 20% of its max HP, it may have only a 50% chance of doing so.
UNLOCKED! $6,000: FlexTreasure.
Take the most useful, fun, raw-crunch treasure-randomizing tables of the Dungeon Master's Guide and similar tomes, and mix it liberally with the context-sensitivity that FlexTables allow. Bake it all in the oven of a massive Bestiary, and you have a hugely useful randomization tool that's not only applicable to over 1,200+ monsters, it's useful completely on its own.
- UNLOCKED! $7,000: OSRIC / 1E / Swords & Wizardry Edition: I'm surprised, but there's actually been some interest expressed in this. As someone who cut his own geeky RPG teeth on first edition, and having a respectable trove of 1E books and content, I'm only too happy to oblige if we get to this point. Given the massive complexity and verbosity difference here, I'm seeing this edition as a single PDF/hardcover volume which includes the content from Vol 1, 2, and 3 of the other editions. I think I can get it all into a single book under the printer's max pagecount. PDF will probably be a $10 add-on, and the hardcover will be $50... but it's a single volume with all ~450 critters. Think Monstrosities for S&W.
- UNLOCKED! $8,000: Art Folio: If we hit this point, we'll likely have dozens of pieces of custom-commissioned artwork for the critters in the three Volumes. Some collectors and art fans like a separate, high-quality book dedicated to art; this is for those folks. Premium-quality paper and color, enlarged artwork from the Volumes, designer notes, and more make this a bit of an indulgence... but a rather nifty-looking one, it must be said. Likely a $5-10 PDF add-on, and $25 hardcover, but it really depends on how much art we end up with.
- UNLOCKED! $9,000: Lore and Tactics section for all custom monsters: I've always felt that, come combat, Knowledge-skill classes kind of get the short end of the stick if they're not also combat-capable. Remember in How to Train Your Dragon where that one Viking was really knowledgeable about analyzing dragons and identifying their weak points and how to fight them? That. Lore and Rumors is one of the types of content I'm particularly proud of in my books, and taking that approach to monsters seems a reasonable and exciting next step. Basically this will take the form of a set of tables for each monster, allowing PCs with Knowledge or related skills to have a chance to innately know certain things about the critter based on their accumulated intellect. "This one's undead, even though it doesn't look it!" "Use a blessed crossbow bolt!" And so on.
- UNLOCKED! $10,662: Kickstarter-Exclusive Edition: For surpassing all my previous Kickstarter funding, hardcopy backers will receive an exclusive KS version with custom cover and introduction. This edition will not be available for general purchase and will not be published outside of Kickstarter.
- UNLOCKED! $11,000: Excel Files for FTEG Tables: Microsoft Excel compatible files will be published and made available for free to all backers for the FlexTale Encounter Generator FlexTables. For the technically-minded, these allow you to quickly get randomized content without dice rolls. Though you miss out on an excuse to roll dice, booooo.
- UNLOCKED! $12,000: Monster Cards: A deck of cards with monster pictures and names on them, available in both GM and Player versions. Player version is the picture and name only; GM version contains some basic information. I've not produced cards before, so final pricing and content etc. will vary as I progress the effort, but my goal here is to allow GMs a convenient way of sharing visual info with players, and also as a useful quick-reference of vital data. The print-it-yourself PDF for this will be free, automatically included in everyone's pledge. A physical deck of printed cards will be available as an Add-On, price TBD.
- UNLOCKED! $13,000: Additional Monsters: Aberrations. At least 5 additional monsters of the Aberrations type.
- UNLOCKED! $14,000: Additional Monsters: Oozes. At least 5 additional monsters of the Oozes type.
- UNLOCKED! $15,000: FlexAI support and tables for OGL monsters: The same concept described in an earlier Stretch Goal, but applied to the hundreds of OGL monsters as well. Greatly expands the versatility of a beloved set of beasties!
- UNLOCKED! $16,000: Additional Monsters: Undead. At least 5 additional monsters of the Undead type.
- UNLOCKED! $17,000: Additional Monsters: Monstrous Humanoids. At least 5 additional monsters of the Monstrous Humanoid type.
- UNLOCKED! $18,000: Additional Monsters: Fey & Plant. At least 5 additional monsters of the Fey and Plant types.
- UNLOCKED! $19,000: Additional Monsters: Vermin & Magical Beasts. At least 5 additional monsters of the Vermin & Magical Beast types.
- UNLOCKED! $20,000: Incarnae of Aquilae: If we hit this lofty goal, a fourth Volume will be developed, dedicated to the concept of Incarna. Whereas Golems and Elementals tend to be physical qualities given a mobile, semi-sentient form, Incarna are coalesced physical manifestations of abstract concepts and phenomena--psychological qualities, feelings, thoughts, and so on. Lust, revenge, regret, rage, greed... these are the tip of the iceberg. Includes Incantatnions of Incarnae, a chapter describing rules on how to create an Incarna. I'm excited about this because A) golems and elementals are some of my fav critters whenever I open up a new Bestiary; B) the potential for some really stunning commissioned artwork here is incredible; and C) the narrative potential for some of the special abilities of these creatures is just mind-blowing. This separate, fourth Volume will also include story hooks and a sample adventure or two dedicated to specific Incarnae.
- UNLOCKED! $21,000: Lairs for custom monsters: Some custom monsters will get their own maps, detail, and adventure setting of their lairs. Those of you who are fans of my already-published books may agree with me when I say that mapping tends to be my strong point, so I'm really excited about this possibility.
- UNLOCKED! $22,000: More lairs! Even more custom monsters get their own lairs.
- UNLOCKED! $23,000: Mini adventures for custom monsters: Far beyond a simple set of story hooks, some custom monsters get their own mini-adventures, runnable one-or-more-session modules unto themselves!
- $24,000: More mini adventures! Even more custom beasties get their own mini-adventures.
- $25,000: Lair and/or Mini Adventure for every custom beast: That's right, if we hit this point, I'll ensure that each and every custom monster gets its own lair map and/or mini-adventure content. This will make Volume 3 potentially the largest, and easily the greatest value, of the entire project.
- UNLOCKED! Popularity Contest (192 Backers): Additional Monsters: Swarms. If this Bestiary becomes my most popular Kickstarter, surpassing Artifacts & Artifice, I'll add some additional new custom monsters of the Swarms type. Get it? Swarms of backers? Eh.
Pathfinder & 5E
Eagle-eyed backers may notice that there's a discount involved for the PDF pledges that are 5E versus the Pathfinder edition. That's intentional.
This is because I do all of my writing in Pathfinder first. Every IGS product is designed and composed initially as a Pathfinder product. I then go back through everything and adapt it to 5E. This is partly because I have a great deal more experience with PFRPG, but also because its much greater complexity means it's easier to "scale things down" to 5E rather than the reverse.
For NPCs, I recreate each character statblock from scratch designed to 5E explicitly.
For monsters, I have a "script", set of instructions, that I walk through to convert the Pathfinder stats to their 5E equivalent.
For all other content (treasure, doors, etc.), I simply rewrite it as 5E content.
This results in pretty good 5E output. Any GM should be able to use the results easily. I will say, based on my informal discussions with folks far more expert in 5E than I am, the monsters tend to end up a bit overpowered for their difficulty, but that's easily remedied if you're a GM who's looking to level the playing field.
So in short: because these are books of beasts, and my script will knowingly result in converted output, I can't honestly claim that the 5E output will be just as high-quality as the Pathfinder edition. So I figured I'd reflect that in the price.
Why are only the PDF pledges discounted?
Because I'm essentially breaking even on the hardcover pledges; I can't discount them any further really.
Why is there not a separate "Aquilae Patron" pledge level for 5E, with a discount?
Because perfect or not, every monster in that book will be my own creation, and most of the energy and cost comes from the artwork commissions to depict them.
What happens if you don't make your funding goal for this project? I still create Aquilae: Bestiary of the Realm. Except it'll be a black-and-white, softcover, single volume, most likely won't include custom monsters, and will almost certainly not include much commissioned artwork. Plus, if you didn't back Dark Obelisk 2 and get ABR included in your pledge, you'll have to pay full retail price for the result.
Dark Obelisk 2 was planned to be a modest continuation of the adventure path. In the course of its KS campaign, it saw a tenfold increase in funding, and more than a dozen Stretch Goals . One of these Stretch Goals was "Aquilae: Bestiary of the Realm" (ABR).
In fulfillment of the DO2 Kickstarter, the core Bestiary is being produced regardless of the success of this KS campaign. The "core Bestiary" would be a single-volume product, and would still offer a massively useful assortment of about 400 monsters in quadded statblocks.
This Kickstarter campaign seeks to add more unique, new monsters, and to include illustrations for as many of those monsters as we can fund.
Backer Clarification: Who Gets What
Any backer from the DO2 campaign who is eligible to receive ABR will automatically receive Volumes 1 and 2 in the appropriate format (PDF vs. hardcover, Pathfinder vs. 5E).
Volume 3, the Aquilae-specific book with new monsters, is not included automatically to DO2 backers, but is available to those backers via the "Aquilae Patron" and "Hardened Aquilae Patron" pledge levels.
Risks and challenges
Time. I can guarantee that it'll be completed, and worth the wait and worth your pledge dollar; I cannot in any way guarantee *when* it will be delivered! Any dates listed or mentioned are guidelines, like the Pirate Code... they shouldn't be taken as written in stone (or indeed, too seriously!).
IGS strives to make the best possible indie RPG gaming products we can. As a result, we tend to err on the side of "late but great": an excellent product when it's done, as opposed to an okay product immediately.
The good news is that the books we've already published, and the ones that are currently being worked on, include tons of monster content that will be leveraged for this project. To wit, about 12% of the content is already created.
So barring a natural disaster, I can pretty much guarantee this will happen. It's just a matter of how long it takes me to finish!
As with everything else I do, how long it takes is a function of the competing elements of my life: three kids, a family, a full-time day job, stupid bodily requirement to get more than 3 hours of sleep a night... that sort of thing.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (60 days)