Here's the last of the Here Be Monsters interviews: Wendall Roy, whose entry was the taniwha, a creature from the Maori mythology.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
a freelance writer and game designer in the Twin Cities. Been gaming
for about 30 years, been actively submitting Pathfinder-related material
for publication for 4-ish years.
Have you designed a lot of monsters before?
publication and formal contests, not a lot. I tend to focus on world-
and personality-building, and working on unique character play
experiences such as the In the Company series from Rite
Publishing that provide players a comprehensive 1-20 lvl play as various
creatures/monsters. For home campaign use and intellectual exercise,
quite a bit. Monster design is something I use as often as item design
for creative exercise, but I don't have much in the way of creature
material in print.
Why did you choose the taniwha and what thinking went into your design?
jumped at the chance to do something from Maori myth when I saw it on
the Bestiary 5 wish list. It's a rich mythology that hasn't been plumbed
much for gaming inspiration.
For my design, I
wanted to take a limited and specific range of thematic elements from
taniwha myths and weave them into something unique. I wanted the
mythological inspirations for the creature to be apparent to anyone
familiar with Maori mythology, but at the same time wanted to avoid it
seeming derivative or a condescending cultural appropriation. It's
something designers should always be careful of when working with a
living mythology. Hopefully people enjoy my creation and it comes off as
respectful to its inspiration.
In your opinion, what makes a good monster?
good monster provides an enjoyable encounter for the players and GM. It
is balanced to its CR and challenging to players face in combat and/or
social roleplay. Its mechanics do not give GMs headaches and its tactics
are understandable for the GM to run.
What are your favorite monsters in the Pathfinder RPG (including monsters in 3rd-party products), and why?
not a fan of "bests" or "favorites" and have fond memories of many
monsters. If there is a memorable time where my friends were enjoying
that encounter, it's on my list. If I had to choose... the first one
that pops in to my head is the hound archon. There was a summoned hound
archon that had my players in stitches the way I RPd him for some
reason, so he made several appearances in our game. I got so fond of the
little bugger that I eventually played him as a PC for a while when
another GM took over the campaign.