A relatively new monster (born in 2000 in the D&D 3.0 Monster Manual), the krenshar has a lot going for it. 1) It’s plausible and fantastic at the same time, combining the surprise factor of our own world’s frilled lizards and Io moths with a Warhammer-esque flair for the osseous. 2) It adds to the always-shallow pool of low-CR monsters to throw at new parties. And 3) it’s just plain cool. (Let’s do the math: Skull + panther = awesome. Duh.) All in all, the krenshar is a great magical beast that’s way easier to rationalize than most. (I’m looking at you, owlbear.)
Because they subsist on both fresh prey and carrion, krenshars are highly flexible predators. After lizardfolk burst the dam at Anchor Falls, krenshar are among the first animals to move into the flood-ravaged city of St. Ishen downriver. Taking up lairs in the second floors of ruined houses, they feast on water-bloated corpses when they must, and refugees and holdouts when they can.
The terrifying cannibal halflings of the Flayed Plains ride krenshars as mounts. They practice all manner of piercings, ritual scarring, and mortifications to more closely resemble their skeletal-faced hunting cats.
The braves of the Karawak tribes must be just that: brave. To be considered an adult, the tribe’s young men and women must hear a krenshar’s shriek and not quail in fear. The Karawaks put visitors through the same test. Unfortunately, a kech hunting band interrupts the orientation, and the visitors must face both the hunger of the wild skull-panthers and the poison arrows and elemental water magicks of the keches.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 2 174
How to Mess With Your GM: A Guide in One Act
Player: Can my ranger have a krenshar animal companion?
GM: He’s a beast master, right? I don’t see why not.
Player: Can the krenshar have green fur and yellow stripes?
GM: For camouflage? I like it.
Player: And red armor?
GM: Sure. You’ll have to pay for exotic barding and add…um, we’ll say 5% to the cost.
Player: Awesome. His name is Cringer the Krenshar.
GM: …I hate you.
I love evil halflings. Monte Cook, if you one day ever read this, I dedicate the above pseudo-jerren to you.
I must also add that while I typically love Pathfinder art, the 3.0 Monster Manual krenshar takes the cake.
Monsters like the Kraken are hard to get onstage; for a GM obsessed with getting his villains stage time and character development, they are tough. They’re the kind of monster that make you want to whip out the Villain-in-someone-else’s-body trick just so you can engage the PC’s in conversation. Of course, as you note, the Kraken has apparently gone from animal-intelligence tentacle beast to Lovecraftian horror of cosmic genius since I played D&D regularly. So it isn’t like this would be HARD for him, y’know?