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Articles By Author - Frank Gori

Old Hat Monsters: Animal Companions, Familiars, and Mounts

“When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes.” ― William Shakespeare, Henry V Fantasy novels love a good cavalry charge, or a hero who fights alongside a wolf, or a potent mage who spies from the eyes of a soaring bird. In Pathfinder, the only class feature that trumps the animal companion or familiar is spellcasting. Having...

Old Hat Monsters: Signature Weapons

A good gaming session has a few of the same elements as some traditional wedding receptions. Both are a gathering of friends in a festive atmosphere, likely with food at some point. As with one wedding tradition I could name, each session could feature “something old” and “something new.” Those familiar with my series here at Kobold Press know my favorite way to make nostalgic classic monsters new is to use templates to create an unexpected...

Old Hat Monsters: Survey Says

Last week, I had a survey that would pay off with this week’s article. Responses were consistent on wanting a CR 7–10 encounter, but there ended up being a tie between kobolds and bugbears for this week’s star! House rule: When there’s a tie between kobolds and something else, kobolds win. I can perhaps be persuaded to stat out our bugbear rivals in the comment section. An encounter works best when you have more than one thing to think about....

Old Hat Monsters: Tribal Shaman

“Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson In many tribal societies, the chieftain leads the social hierarchy (along with sometimes a council of elders), the hero leads war parties, and the shaman serves as spiritual leader. The tribal shaman is sometimes the only member of a tribe with magic, and he or she often serves a conduit to the spirit world. Given the debate that preceded this week’s article (and its...

Old Hat Monsters: Tribal Hero Template

“My lands are where my dead lie buried.”—Crazy Horse Tribal cultures sometimes have a different leader in war then when in peace. The tribal chieftain template I discussed last week was for a chieftain who mostly leads primarily by speaking. The tribal hero, or war chief if you prefer, leads by action. You can represent this by simply applying the advanced template if you want fast, easy, and boring. If, instead, you’d like to challenge your...

Old Hat Monsters: Tribal Chieftain Template

“The sight of it made the earth seem unearthly. They were accustomed to look upon the shackled form of a conquered monster, but there—there you could look at a thing monstrous, beautiful, and free.” —Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness. My first Old Hat Monster article was about breathing new life into the classic monster races with my civilized template. The idea plays off a common assumption that the monstrous humanoids are generally going to be...

Old Hat Monsters: The Encounter

We’ve civilized, mutated, and mashed our classic monsters into a fantasy paradox; they’re familiar yet new. On the horizon I have at least three more monster templates ahead that may well breathe new life into your old favorites, but I must confess that sometimes the best way to surprise your players isn’t to change the monster at all. The encounter is easy to hand wave. All too often I see GMs simply place their player characters and monsters...

Old Hat Monsters: Mashed

Try to remember for a moment a more innocent time in your life. Back then, the thought of vampires and werewolves lurking in the dark might have sent a chill down your spine. These days, though, when people discuss shows such as The Walking Dead or Being Human, it’s not with the same sense of fear that they once had in the past. The classic horror monsters have become mundane. Zombies, werewolves, ghosts, and vampires lost that mystery of the...

Old Hat Monsters: Mutated (Part 2)

Last time, we went over a quick system for mutating your monsters so that they can provide a more unknown challenge for your player characters to face. Let’s take a look at a few examples, starting with the humble goblin. Goblins For starters, goblins are not CR 1. To get there, they need 2 player character class levels. The stats below reflect a 15-point buy, the goblin template located here, and 2 levels of rogue, which are highly favorable...

Old Hat Monsters: Mutated (Part 1)

A good GM is one part entertainer and one part engineer. And, like a magician, you are only as good as your last trick. Players are like a savvy audience at a magic show—you aren’t going to wow them with the standard magic act. All too often, it seems like they’ve seen behind the curtain. So, when you apply templates to a monster, doing so can be akin to using a little of the magician’s skill at misdirection: The player expects to see the same...

Old Hat Monsters: Reborn

“Orcs again—yawn. Wake me up when it’s my turn.” We’ve all been there. No matter what level your players’ current characters are at, your players have seen it all. Like a perpetual arms race, you can frantically try to find new monsters to throw at their CR or make up new ones, but the fact remains that the novelty of new monsters wears off. No matter how many monsters there are, your players will adapt, and they all eventually become old hat....

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