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I just asked Andrew. The artist is Roberto Pitturru.
There is going to be an article about androids in the first volume of the Iron Gods Adventure Path (Pathfinder #85), and that should answer most of your questions.
(I'm not answering the tortoise question... I see what you're trying to do to me.) ;)
Until then, there has been a lot of discussion about androids (along with some answers from James and myself) in this thread.
Silly Technic League... think they know everything. :)
On a partially selfish note, I really really hope that "help on future books" includes god articles. Those have tended to be the first things I've read in each book that had them, going all the way back to the Desna one. :)
After drying my eyes, I selfishly asked the same thing about the deity articles. :)
Christopher Wasko wrote:
Other folks have covered some of the points, so the biggest advice I can give (in a concise nature so I don't derail this thread) is to find out who is accepting pitches or looking for freelancers. Once you locate a company you want to write for, look at their catalog and get familiar with the styles they use and things they've already published (that way you don't look like a fool pitching something they already published).
Another thing that can be super helpful is becoming friends with other freelancers. When I first started freelancing I was lucky enough to have a few friends that were already doing it, and then I got invited into a freelancers guild called the WereCabbages. Having a group of people to review work, act as fresh eyes, be sanity-checkers, and just the pool of experience was absolutely one of the most helpful things I could have ever had. A lot of our freelancers are friendly with one another and bounce things off each other pretty often. I always encourage that kind of shared learning.
Hey folks! I was going to send emails to a bunch of my freelancers to see who was coming to Seattle for PaizoCon, but I figured it'd be easier if I just made a thread. I also thought it'd be neat for folks to see who of their favorite Pathfinder authors will be at the show.
So, sound off, freelancers! Who's with me!?
Being blind, this post has a bittersweet aspect to it. Hopefully, my fellow players have an adequate amount of descriptive mojo in them to do it justice.
You tell your fellow players that I demand that they describe each and every facet in lush detail! :) They have a few weeks to brush up their skills.
Jeff Lee wrote:
Water dependent: I like that you included this, as the idea of a fey spirit tied to a particular location or natural feature is stock and trade in both mythology and gaming. However, I wish you'd taken the time to rework it in your own words. As it stands, it's just a cut-and-paste of the dryad weakness with a few words changed. If you'd cut out the entirely extraneous "eventually, this separation will kill her" (Well, duh, that's what Constitution damage does...) you would have saved yourself six words to help strengthen the descriptive text.
I don't mean to disagree, but Brian did the right thing by using pretty much the exact same language.
I even included that in my monster creation advice:
Daigle Advised wrote:
If a special ability is just like another creature’s ability with only a slight change, make sure to copy that ability’s language exactly (aside from the exception). There is no reason to reinvent the wheel. Furthermore, you’ll notice that the rules elements in monster design are very formulaic. Sometimes the best guide is looking at other monsters and seeing how their abilities are written and formatted. Rules need to be consistent and use the same language, so compare your special abilities to similar existing special abilities and follow that language.
Congrats on making it to this round! May you have the luck and talent to push all the way through to the end!
”How I Judged These Monsters”:
When I develop a monster for the Adventure Path bestiaries, I print out the monster entry, and then go through it in a quick pass, marking up the page with notes and highlighting any problems that I need to address later when I really dig into it. Much of the time I’m circling things in the stat block or flavor text and leaving a quick note. Most often, this quick note pass is performed while I’m writing out art orders for the monsters so I can make sure that the description I give to the artist is what the final monster will be. This is where I make note of any changes I plan to make (some of which I’m sure frustrate some of my freelancers from time to time).
I’m going to judge this round in a similar manner to how I’d treat a monster I ordered from a freelancer if I asked one of my freelancers to just send me something within the same parameters that you’ve been given. My review isn’t anything personal, and since tone is difficult to communicate online sometimes, imagine my comments and critiques read in a friendly and nudging way. To heighten the experience, imagine my comments on your monster written in purple ink. :)
The blue italicized first line in my review was my gut reaction from reading the name with no context whatsoever. It was a fun guessing game I was playing while reviewing the monsters, so I included that note for everyone’s enjoyment. (Spoiler Alert: I was wrong a lot.)
And now to the monster!
I hope it’s a troll that lives in a chimney.
Neat! The second Large monster in the competition. I didn’t really expect many monsters would be larger than Medium, but I was a bit surprised there were so few, so kudos for taking the risk.
I do recommend chimney troll for advancement.
I'll wait on that until folks actually have the book in their hands, and can see what's presented.
Ha! I didn't notice that. That's probably some weird techrelic from another blog. The map is the handiwork of Andrew Vallas modifying Rob Lazzeretti's original.
Thomas LeBlanc wrote:
I thought I discovered the answer to the question of the Silver Mount's origin a while back...
Unless I'm missing something, I don't think your link went where you expected it to go.
Zi'on Darkbane wrote:
I don't really mind. After all, I want to read 32 awesome entries. That would make the decision part more difficult, but it would make the whole experience—for me and the voters—much better at the end of it all.
If there are questions that I don't want to answer, I won't answer them. After all, most of the time other posters have popped in and given great answers to folks' questions.
I'll answer when I can until Sean or someone else advises me not to. I don't want to shake things up too much, but I like helping people.
Mike Kimmel wrote:
Mike is correct. Initiative isn't something you set in design, it is instead indicated by other things, in this case Dex, which touches a lot of other moving mechanics. Raising the Dex to make the initiative go up by four would throw a bunch of the other numbers off.
Mike is incorrect in calling me Sean, though. ;)
Look through the rules for the different creature types, and look at the monsters that make up those types. I can't think of anything that doesn't fit into one of those categories, so, you're probably over-thinking it. Comparing your idea to existing ideas really helps narrow in your design. Look at all the monsters in the Bestiaries in the PRD and for monsters that have appeared in our Campaign Setting books and Adventure Paths, look at what the Archives of Nethys provides.
It is always super-helpful to compare your monster to similar existing monsters to see how they deal with mechanics and such. Sure, people are going to have cool and creative new ideas, but for the most part, elements of those monsters conform to existing design.
Compare, compare, compare!
(Be careful with online resources. d20pfsrd.com can't use the Compatibility License because it sells stuff and generates revenue, so it changes the names for the sake of IP (for the most part). When working in the setting of Golarion, this can trip you up. The Archives of Nethys site linked above is 100% in-world.)
Jacob Trier wrote:
That's an excellent thing to bring up! Thanks, Jacob.
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Okay, folks! My post got kind of big, so I made a new thread. Check it out! So, You're Designing A Pathfinder Monster...
Howdy folks! Some of you entering and following along with RPG Superstar know me already, but some of you don’t. If that’s the case and you’re interested knowing more about me, clicky on the button right there. Onward to monster design tips!
”More About Daigle”:
I’m Adam Daigle and I’m a developer here at Paizo. I mainly work on the Adventure Path line and I’m in charge of everything that isn’t the adventure, and I work with James and Rob to help them plot out the APs as a whole and the stuff that goes into each Adventure Path volume. I’ve been working here for nearly two years and it’s been both a blast, but also a learning experience.
Before coming to work here at Paizo, I was a freelancer and contributed to dozens of Pathfinder products for both Paizo and a number of awesome third party publishers. Being a huge Pathfinder and Paizo fan, I spent a lot of time on these messageboards and got to know a ton of great people that also spent their time posting with people they either only know online or only see at conventions. It was actually folks in this community that convinced me to start freelancing. I love watching the RPG Superstar competition each year. I submitted an item the first three years, failing to place in the Top 32 each time. So, to all of you that didn’t place—I feel ya. Been there.
A fair portion of my freelance RPG work has been in the design space of monsters. Designing the divs and the azi dragons for the Legacy of Fire Adventure Path was among my earliest of assignments for Paizo and I had been doing monster work for Open Design (now Kobold Press) prior to that, so I ended up getting more monster assignments from publishers. Sean hit me up for at least a couple dozen monsters for each of the hardcover Bestiaries, and Wes assigned me plenty more for the Adventure Path Bestiaries. I won Kobold Press’ first King of the Monsters contest and Wolfgang even had me work as the lead developer in putting together the Midgard Bestiary, which was my last big freelance project before coming to work at Paizo.
Now, I assign and develop around 60 monsters a year for the Bestiary in the back of the Adventure Paths. I work with some great freelancers and I use monsters as a way to try out new authors. Monsters are a great way to see someone’s skill in both mechanics and writing.
Monsters are something I’m super-interested in, and I’m glad that I’m able to judge this round of RPG Superstar.
Most of the advice that follows is taken from a document I give to freelancers who design monsters for me for the Adventure Path Bestiaries. Some of this is personal preference. Some of it comes from our house styles. As with all advice, take it or leave it. At the end of the round, it’s the voters that make the call. I hope this helps not only those of you that make it into the Top 32, but I also hope it helps GMs working on their homebrew games and aspiring freelancers (heck, even working freelancers).
If you’ve never designed a monster for Pathfinder before, start here: Monster Creation
Designing monsters can be difficult. A fair amount of monster design is an art and not a science. The author needs to be both an engaging writer and they must have a strong grasp of the rules. Monster design is a great way to see how people come up with brilliant ideas and make them conform to the rules. A monster entry is a good way to evaluate an author. Monsters also take up a small, defined amount of space, so the writer must make careful decisions to present only the most relevant and crucial information about their monster and sacrifice all the other ideas. In fact, we set the rules to include a word count very similar to what we ask of the freelancers who contribute to our hardcover Bestiaries. Each of the single page monsters in a Bestiary are between 500 and 600 words (give or take depending on art), so when we assign a bestiary entry it needs to fit in that space or else things have to get cut. What follows are just a few pointers, arranged in no particular order.
• As you are designing your monster, make sure you check your creature against Table 1–1 in the Bestiary. This table sets lays out where a creature’s various statistics should be for their Challenge Rating. Not everything needs to hit those numbers 100%, but most of them should. If one or two is higher than the values for that specific CR, consider lowering one or two somewhere else to balance that out. For example, if you have an AC much higher than your CR 4 creature should have, consider having its hit points be a bit low for a CR 4 creature. You can be slightly off the mark for one or two things, but it’s always best to make up for it somewhere else. That said, with low CR monsters a little off the mark can be a bigger deal than with mid- or high-CR monsters.
• Look for commonalities between existing “families” of monsters. If you see what looks like a trend and don’t understand it, dig deeper to figure it out. In addition, if you are designing a monster that is part of an existing “family” of monsters, make sure your monster has the necessary elements. For example, if you are making a new dark folk it should have a death throes ability. If you are designing a div make sure it has a weird aversion or compulsion.
• When designing a monster, think of monsters that do similar things or have similar abilities and use them and their abilities to guide the design of your monster.
• If a special ability is just like another creature’s ability with only a slight change, make sure to copy that ability’s language exactly (aside from the exception). There is no reason to reinvent the wheel. Furthermore, you’ll notice that the rules elements in monster design are very formulaic. Sometimes the best guide is looking at other monsters and seeing how their abilities are written and formatted. Rules need to be consistent and use the same language, so compare your special abilities to similar existing special abilities and follow that language.
• Related to the above point: Don’t reinvent Universal Monster Rules. If you have an idea for a new special ability that’s very similar to one in the UMR, consider if that slight difference is important. If not, then just use the UMR and it will save you a chunk of word count by cutting out a special ability. Including all the rules for a special ability add up quickly with word count (“The save DC is Charisma-based.” is a short example.)
• Make sure you put any special abilities that are in the Special Abilities section into its proper line in the statblock (for example: Defensive Abilities, Special Attacks or SQ). If you are using a UMR it tells you where in the statblock it goes. You can also compare similar abilities to existing statblocks to determine the proper line.
• Remember that a monster is typically only in a fight for a short number of rounds. (There are obvious exceptions). If you design a creature with 6 special abilities and a bunch of spell-like abilities, chances are it’s only going to get to use 3 or 4 of them. Also, consider the GM that is going to be tasked with running your monster creation. If your design has too many options or overly complex combinations of abilities, it could slow down the game for those playing it. Just something to consider.
• Make sure the monster’s Intelligence matches its described culture and behavior. I sometimes get a turnover of monster that has an Intelligence of 3, but it is described as having complex hunting methods, elaborate societal hierarchies, or a keen understanding of something that the rules presented don’t back up. On the flip side, I’ve seen creatures turned in that have Int 22 but act simple. Avoid this.
• There are a few feats that are pretty worthless for monster design: Improved Natural Armor, Improved Natural Attack, and to a lesser extent Toughness. (There are probably others, but these are the key ones.) When you are designing a monster you can break a few rules. (Though I laud it, Table 1–1 and some elements of the Monster Creation chapter of the Bestiary are guidelines.) If a Medium creature normally has a claw attack that deals 1d4 points of damage, but your creature has gigantic hands or razor sharp claws, you, as the designer, can just decide to make those claw attacks deal 1d6 points of damage without having to choose a feat for it. (It took me a few monster creation tries before I learned that.) You also can set natural armor for whatever you want (as long as it makes sense), so Improved Natural armor is a complete waste. Toughness is a waste because 9 times out of 10 you can just adjust the creature’s Constitution (or Charisma) score to get the hit points to where they need to be according to Table 1–1.
• Spend some time just thinking about your monster and researching real world animals, cultures, or science that involve some of the elements of your monster. Make sure that the monster as a whole makes sense. It’s easy to get caught up in mechanics, meeting word count, and using proper grammar, and miss contradictions that can pop in. If it has tentacles, consider why it has tentacles. If it has three eyes on the crown of its head, why are they there and why are there three? If it doesn’t have a mouth, how or what does it eat?
• Names: One of the more difficult parts of monster design. Different people think different things sound cool to their ears, and it’s not uncommon for people to completely disagree with each other about that. When naming there are a few ways to avoid certain pitfalls. First, make sure you read the name out loud to make sure it isn’t goofy or suggestive. Google the name of your monster. This helps you not accidentally copy something else, and it helps you realize what people might see if they searched for it. Some searches will make you rename a monster. I’ve been there. Trust me.
• The italicized introductory description line in the submission template: This is the one-to-two sentence descriptive text found just under the creature’s name and right before the start of the stat block. This is the first thing people read after reading the creature’s name. This text should be rich and evocative. It should never include “you” (as in, “You see this beast rising up from a stagnant pool.”) This leads in to another no-no. Never assume PC action and never assume location. Don’t mention that a creature “slinks out of the shadowy alley.” in case a GM uses the monster indoors or underground. Bonus points: If applicable, use more than just sight.
• Make your first sentence of the flavor text really pop. Establish the monster’s role in the first one to three sentences.
• I’ll end with just a personal preference: I dislike joke monsters and only like cute monsters if they are really solid. (Says the guy with a flumph avatar.)
Sorry about all of that. I got a bit talkative. :)
If you’re reading this and just made it to the Top 32, congrats! I’m looking forward to reading your monster and I hope all of you make it very hard for me to decide.
Would you be surprised that there was more than one that was 600+?