I love low-CR monsters, because they give GMs more options—so not every first level adventure has to be dire rat, kobold, goblin. And I love plausible monsters that are fantastic without being over the top—so that there isn’t such a huge ecological jump from housecat to chimera.
So I’m a big fan of Pathfinder creations like Varisia’s jigsaw shark or the reefclaw. Simple, evocative names for simple, intriguing monsters. The reefclaw’s niche could have been occupied by a dire or giant lobster…but instead we get a new, better monster. If the old man at the dockyard tavern tells my character to watch out for reefclaws, and my character feels something clamp around his legs, I’m going to be right there with him in character screaming, “A reefclaw’s got me!” instead of shrugging at the GM and saying, “I roll to hit the dire lobster.”
Oh, and remember, reefclaws can understand Common. So best not plan that fishing trip out loud. Wait, one more thing: death frenzy! Kill a reefclaw, it delivers one last full attack with its death spasms! Who says CR 1 monsters have to be boring?
The elderly hermit of Bone Creek relies on his sons to bring him food, but a squall swept them out to sea in their coracle. Adventurers can earn the hermit’s (and the village’s) goodwill if they fish the reefclaw-infested waters for him until his sons struggle home.
Adventurers are fording a channel when suddenly the heavily armored members of their party are attacked. A harem of female reefclaws has mistaken the plate-wearing adventurers for fertile males ready to be carved apart during the breeding.
A curse seems to hang over the fishing community. Every time the boats go out, a deckhand fails to come home. In actuality, the fishermen are the victims of a canny school of reefclaws. The reefclaws hide in the prayer pool where the fishermen whisper the name of their next fishing spot and ask the Sea God for luck. The reefclaws then head straight there to lie in ambush.
—Pathfinder #7 88–89 & Pathfinder Bestiary 2 234
I appreciate all the red dragon love, you guys! Now if only one of you can send me a chirurgeon or alchemist to rid me of this nasty bug I came down with…
Simple evocative names for monsters were something I loved about Sword & Sorcery’s Creature Collection books, too. I’ve already given them some love online before, but today I just looked on Amazon and saw that you can get the original (3.0) version used for 44 cents. That’s insane. Even the revised (3.5) version starts at a totally reasonable $18 from the right seller…but c’mon, 44 cents! If you never experienced White Wolf’s take on 3.0, you owe it to yourself to get a copy.