You have to like shadow mastiffs. It’s just required. This is one of The Rules. I don’t care if you don’t like hell hounds (too fiery) or werewolves (too people-y) or yeth hounds (what’s the first thing you’re going to notice when spotting a flying naked dog from below…?—’nuff said). But you have to like shadow mastiffs.
Why? They’re big black dogs…almost. (Sort of like the things in Ghostbusters were almost dogs.) With spiky black tails. With panic-causing howls. And with a flat 50% miss chance in anything but direct sunlight. (And as someone who love, loved, loved playing an eldritch knight with blur on tap, let me tell you that when the dice are going your way a 50% miss chance plus good AC can make you nigh invulnerable.) And since they’re found all across the Plane of Shadow and the evil Outer Planes, not to mention being in reach of any mage who can muster lesser planar ally, they can combo with half the evil monsters in the Bestiaries.
Plus, shadow mastiffs have had a fantastically evocative role in Pathfinder’s Golarion setting. They were a big part of the reason that the entire city of Westcrown shut down at night (at least before the events of the Council of Thieves Adventure Path). We already know I’m a sucker for using endemic monsters to make cities memorable: You don’t want to overdo it—every town shouldn’t have its own signature baddie—but when applied with restraint it’s a great tactic, and the shadow mastiff is a perfect candidate.
And let’s not forget that they come in larger sizes, too…
The huecuva Father Bertram St. Croix died of the pox, caught from the very ladies of the evening he so frequently sermonized against (and so violently visited, usually with coins swiped the offering ewer). Now flanked by a pair of shadow mastiffs he found waiting loyally at his gravesite, he hunts his former parishioners for obeying the vows that he so flagrantly flouted.
Pride goes before the fall, or so the saying goes. Certainly many azatas are saying this about Everem Dygalion. A consummate huntsman and hound breeder, he is convinced he can command any canine pack—including evil canid outsiders. Currently his favorite project is a pack of shadow mastiffs that he is confident he can bring to heel. Barred from bringing them to the celestial planes, he has established a lodge and kennel in more neutral (in every sense of the word) territory.
The Huge shadow mastiffs of the Deathless Jungle are not mastiffs at all, but rather ebony allosauruses. Instead of baying, these creatures emit terrible roars, and their tail slaps can level young trees. They also hunger for the flesh of living mortals. The Deathless Jungle is place of joyless regeneration—petitioners return at each waxing moon to be hunted again—and the shadow allosauruses prefer more substantial fare when they can get it.
—Pathfinder Bonus Bestiary 16 & Bestiary 3 241
I would totally play in a Ghostbusters-based Pathfinder campaign, especially a cleverly disguised one.
Also, several of my readers have liked The Daily Bestiary’s format enough to try their own hands at it. (And they’ve all been really great about given this blog a shout-out in the process—thanks, guys!) I’m not sure if I’ve given yogior props yet, but go check out Daily Planescape for a TSR/Planescape-centric take on the form.