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Kakuen-Taka, The Hunger that Moves


Round 4 - Top 8: Design three thematically linked monsters

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Cheliax RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Contributor

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Kakuen-Taka, The Hunger that Moves

At dawn, our hunters beheld on the southern horizon an unclean darkness – a roiling haze that blew towards us, against the wind, thick and shifting like rust-colored smoke.

Before mid-day, the bloody coils had resolved into a thousand-thousand carrion birds, swarming and screaming in widening clouds above three huge and shambling forms, black mountains hunching slowly towards our village.

High-sun passed, and the three colossi were now visible in all their monstrosity; festering mockeries of great and terrible beasts, walking slowly towards us on shattered legs, driven onward by the black magic of Unlife.

As the sky darkened, the mad, blood-red birds descended upon us; clawing at exposed flesh with hooked, venom-thick talons, their poisons stealing from us strength, sanity, and sight.

When night finally took us, the Ghosts-with-Many-Teeth boiled forth from the bellies of their rotting titans, mere shadows; their drooling servant-beasts, once men and dogs, stalked us with hollow eyes.

In unseen and chattering waves, the Kakuen-Taka hunted.

There was a feast; and our village was no more.

- from the Lost-Spirit Recollections

Legends speak of weird and hungry ghosts that slumber fitfully within walking mansions of pitted bone and rotting flesh, smearing a winding path of desolation and horror in their wake.

As these spirits writhe in their sleep, their vast corpse-castles shuffle along the edges of the world, infectious Feast-Guardians in tow, searching out lonely villages and temples with their ten-thousand glittering eyes – the strange and horrid swarms of crows that fill the skies above them.

And when living meat is found, the Ghosts with Many Teeth slide free of their necrotic homes to feast anew.

Thematic Link:
The Hunger that Moves is a nomadic, alien, symbiotic ecology of interlinked species that aid one another in predation, reproduction and survival.

Bhoga-Kantaka, Ghost with Many Teeth CR 5
Usually NE Tiny Outsider (Native)
Init +8; Senses Darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +18, Spot +1

Defense
AC 24, touch 16, flat-footed 20
(+4 Dex, +8 natural, +2 size)
(natural armor bonus is reduced to +4 if the bhoga-kantaka's pseudo-feathers are removed)
hp 33 (6d8+6)
Fort +6, Ref +9, Will +6

Defensive Abilities Evasion;
DR 5/magic (this benefit is lost of the bhoga-kantaka's pseudo-feathers are removed);
Immune Poison;
Resist acid 10, cold 10, electricity 10, fire 10 (these resistances are lost if the bhoga-kantaka's pseudo-feathers are removed);
SR 15 (this bonus is lost if the bhoga-kantaka's pseudo-feathers are removed)

Offense
Spd 30 ft., climb 30 ft.
Melee bite +10 (1d6+1)
Ranged mwk trident +11 (1d4+1), 10 ft. range increment
Space 2-1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks Sneak Attack +2d6
Tactics
Before Combat Bhoga-kantaka prefer to ambush their prey, singling out soft foes, lone targets and those blinded by the poisons of the Meki-Kantaka.
During Combat Bhoga-kantaka use their telepathy to coordinate complex maneuvers to allow for flanking, spell use by their sorcerers and clerics and rapid retreat, if necessary.
Morale Because they are pack hunters, bhoga-kantaka will usually attempt to flee if outnumbered.
Statistics
Str 13, Dex 18, Con 13, Int 14, Wis 13, Cha 16
Base Atk +6; Grp -6
Feats Improved Initiative, Improved Natural Attack (bite), Weapon Finesse
Skills
Bluff +12, Climb +21, Disable Device +11, Escape Artist +13, Hide +29, Listen +18, Move Silently +18, Open Lock +13, Search +19, Sleight of Hand +13, Survival +1 (+3 following tracks), Use Rope +4 (+6 with bindings); Bhoga-Kantaka have a +8 racial bonus on Climb, Balance, Hide, Listen, Move Silently, and Search checks - these bonuses are lost if the bhoga-kantaka's pseudo-feathers are removed . Bhoga-kantaka can always choose to take 10 on Climb checks, even if rushed or threatened. They use their Strength modifier instead of their Strength modifier for Climb checks.
Languages none; 100 ft. telepathy note: the specific, unique form of bhoga-kantaka telepathy allows it to communicate with meki-kantaka, patal-kantaka and other bhoga-kantaka even though none of the three species have any form of written, spoken or otherwise understood "language".
SQ Evasion, Sneak Attack, Walk With the Dead
Combat Gear 3 mwk tiny tridents, ; Other Gear 1d3 gems
Special Abilities

Evasion (Ex)
Bhoga-kantaka can avoid even magical and unusual attacks with great agility. A bhoga-kantaka that makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save instead takes no damage. Evasion can be used only if the bhoga-kantaka is wearing light armor or no armor. If helpless, they do not gain the benefit of evasion.

This ability is lost if the bhoga-kantaka's pseudo-feathers are removed.

Sneak Attack (Ex)
Bhoga-kantaka can make a sneak attacks like a rogue, dealing an extra 2d6 points of damage whenever a foe is denied his or her Dexterity bonus, or when the bhoga-kantaka is flanking.

Spell Resistance
Bhoga-kantaka possess a spell resistance equal to 9+ their HD.

This ability is lost if the bhoga-kantaka's pseudo-feathers are removed.

Walk With the Dead (Su)
A tribe of bhoga-kantaka can use an ability similar to animate dead to create vast shambling corpses that serve the bhoga-kantaka as walking mansions of rotting flesh. Use of this ability requires a number of bhoga-kantaka equal to the new Hit Dice of the creature to be animated as a zombie, to a max of 32 HD. This ability supersedes the normal 20 HD limit of the spell animate dead, and is most often used on creatures of Huge size or larger.

Using walk with the dead is an intense ritual of dance, howling and violence that requires ten minutes of trance-like activity per new HD of the creature to be animated, and all bhoga-kantaka involved are considered helpless while within the trance.

A zombie of Medium size can hold and house one bhoga-kantaka, a Large-size zombie can carry up to eight, a Huge zombie can contain 32, rare Gargantuan zombies can hold up to 128 bhoga-kantaka, and a zombie of Colossal size could theoretically contain a full 512.

Zombies animated by walk with the dead, often including megaraptors, elephants and Huge specimens of other exotic beings, are controlled via telepathic command by the highest-level member of the group of bhoga-kantaka that created it. A group of bhoga-kantaka can only have one zombie so animated at any one time, and may create a new mansion only when their previous home has been destroyed or abandoned. Freshly hatched bhoga-kantaka band together to kill large creatures and animate mansions of their own.

Bhoga-kantaka without pseudo-feathers cannot participate in a walk with the dead ritual.

Ecology
Environment Any
Organization Individual, Clutch (4-7), Pack (8-16) or Mansion (17-32)
Treasure Standard (represented by Gear, above)
Alignment Usually Neutral Evil
Advancement by class; Favored Class Wilderness Rogue. Levels in Battle Sorcerer are nearly as common and are treated as non-associated class levels, as are levels in Cleric. Mansions are led by Wind-Devourers, clerics of the Chichimec with access to the Domains of Madness, Travel, Trickery and Weather.

Bhoga-kantaka with class levels may wear up to light armor without losing the benefits of their pseudo-feathers.
Bhoga-kantaka possess a spell resistance equal to 9+ their HD. This ability is lost if the bhoga-kantaka's pseudo-feathers are removed.

Bhoga-Kantaka, Ghost with Many Teeth
Your eyes seem to water and glide from it, but you can perceive crouching before you a shifting and shadowy thing, a kind of hunched, unsymmetrical beast no bigger than a monkey; all chattering fangs and shimmering, scaled feathers and slithering whispers of unknown horrors.

It clutches a wickedly barbed spear in a many-fingered hand; cunning, thirsty intelligence glitters out its many red eyes . . . and suddenly more forms, identical, slink out of the darkness.

You’ve been surrounded.

Freakishly difficult to spot while hunting due to their extremely small size and the bizarre “cloaking” ability of their translucent, scale-like pseudo-feathers, the bhoga-kantaka are dangerously and surprisingly intelligent, making use of tools, servants, pack tactics and terrain-based advantages that laughingly frustrate those who would defend against their relentless assaults.

Without their thick, camouflaging coat of light-warping pseudo-feathers, the Bhoga-Kantaka most closely resembles nothing so much as a heavily fanged, miniature Ethereal Marauder with many eyes, four multi-jointed limbs and a prehensile tail; such bizarre anatomy has prompted the few scholars who have studied dead specimens to tentatively suggest some faint biological connection between the two beasts.

The shimmering pseudo-feathers themselves are thinly-woven layers of a semi-translucent, magical keratin alloy unique to the “Ghosts-With-Many-Teeth”; they provide the bhoga-kantaka with a host of advantages including exceptional balance, light-bending camouflage, and sensory input in a manner similar to those benefits provided to a cat by its whiskers. In addition, the pseudo-feathers mystically provide armor, resist extremes of heat and cold and deflect hostile spell energies in ways that baffle sages.

Ecology:

The ghosts-with-many-teeth are vile, carnivorous products of some alien evolution in a place far removed from the world of men, deadly predators at the apex of any food chain. Their wandering corpse-castles travel the length and breadth of many worlds, crossing tundra, forest, jungle, mountain and desert with slow, diabolical purpose. Using ice floes, land bridges and magical portals to cross into new territories, they are guided by the ever-hungry Meki-Kantaka and the divine sky-insight of their mad Wind-Devourer priests, worshippers of the legendary Chichimec, who facilitate communication between the wandering mansions via wide-cast webs of sending spells.

The ghosts-with-many-teeth dwell inside the reanimated bodies of great and fearsome beings slain by thousands of tiny bites and blades – it seems to be a point of pride for their strange tribes to obtain the largest and most horrid forms of zombies for their “walking mansions”, decorated with sweeping whorls of paint and blood. A corpse of Huge size can house and carry a full thirty-two bhoga-kantaka with little difficulty, but the slain bodies of Gargantuan or larger creatures are nearly always beyond the abilities of the ghosts-with-many-teeth to animate. Thus, large tribes often create secondary or even tertiary mansions that travel together in a group, separating to wander in different directions during leaner times.

Society:

Life among the bhoga-kantaka is not well understood, but some elements are clear to scholars: punishments for transgressions within the community, from stealing of food to homicide, are universally applied via a violent gang ritual of forced pseudo-feather removal and expulsion from the tribe.

Those ghosts exiled from the mansions must wander alone, without the benefit of their cloaking pseudo-feathers, their mansion or their tribe, until such time as the ethereal feathers have regrown, a process that can take weeks. Strangely, bhoga-kantaka that survive long enough to reacquire their coats and hunt down their mansions are often placed in positions of high power and authority within the tribe – rewarded for viciousness, cunning and instinct beyond the abilities of their kin.

The bhoga-kantaka spend most of their time fitfully hibernating, gripped fast to the slowly putrefying interiors of their great walking mansions, awaking in shifts of four to seven to scout newly discovered areas, tend their webbed clutches of eggs, craft their masterwork throwing-spears (treated as tiny tridents), consume stores of food (including the Patal-Kantaka, during times of extended famine) and make odd, violent struggles against one another.

Small hunting parties of the ghosts-with-many-teeth, composed mostly of fresh hatchlings, will occasionally leave the mansion for weeks at a time to pursue strange errands understood only by them. Such parties range wide and far, tracking down their mansion when heavily supplied with food, treasure and knowledge of the outside world or forming wholly new mansions. During these expeditions, a clutch of four to sixteen bhoga-kantaka, often led by a priest or sorcerer, will usually travel with two or more swarms of meki-kantaka and possibly a swift-moving patal-kantaka to provide watch.

The ghosts-with-many-teeth wake and move en masse only when their mansions are directly assaulted or when called to the Breeding Feast by the cries of the Meki-Kantaka; swarming in predatory packs upon whatever settlement or feast-place has been discovered.

Combat:

The ghosts-with-many-teeth are feared primarily for their near-invisibility and silence; traits of which they take great advantage in combat. They strike in packs that coordinate their approaches with lethal efficiency, usually led by high-level Wilderness Rogues, Battle Sorcerers and the Wind-Devourers, weird clerics of the Chichimec with access to the Domains of Madness, Travel, Trickery and Weather.

Meki-Kantaka, the Foul-Winged-Blindness CR 6
Always NE Diminutive Magical Beast (Extraplanar, Swarm)
Init +10; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, Listen +4, Spot +16

Defense
AC 20, touch 20, flat-footed 14
(+6 Dex, +4 size)
hp 58 (9d10+9)
Fort +7, Ref +12, Will +5

Defensive Abilities
DR 10/magic; Immune Weapon Damage; Resist cold 10, fire 10

Offense
Spd 5 ft., fly 50 ft. (good)
Melee Swarm (2d6 plus poison)
Space 10 ft./10 ft., shapable; Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks Distraction, Poison

Tactics
Before Combat The meki-kantaka are clever, and will attempt to observe the movements of their prey before they swarm, picking out the sickliest and least armored for the brunt of their attacks.
During Combat The meki-kantaka often use hit-and-run tactics, clawing at their prey and then briefly retreating to a safe distance until the blindness effect of their poison has time to take effect.
Morale If reduced to 9 hp or less, a swarm of meki-kantaka will collapse into a mindless flurry of panicked individual carrion birds. Other than that, the swarms will usually fight with extreme aggression, guided by the telepathic commands of the bhoga-kantaka.

Statistics
Str 1, Dex 22, Con 12, Int 6, Wis 14, Cha 9
Base Atk +13; Grp -
Feats Ability Focus (poison), Ability Focus (distraction), Alertness, Improved Initiative
Skills Spot +16
Languages none
SQ hive mind, Swarm traits
Special Abilities

Distraction (Ex)
Any living creature that begins its turn with a meki-kantaka swarm in its space must succeed on a DC 19 Fortitude save or be nauseated for 1 round. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Poison (Ex)
Injury, Fortitude DC 17, initial damage is 1d6 Wisdom and fatigue. Secondary damage is permanent blindness. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Hive Mind (Ex)
Any meki-kantaka swarm with at least 1 hit point per Hit Die (or 9 hit points) forms a hive mind, giving it an Intelligence of 6. When a meki-kantaka swarm is reduced below this hit point threshold, it becomes mindless and can no longer be directed via the bhoga-kantaka's telepathy.

Ecology
Environment Any
Organization Solitary, Pestilence (2-6 swarms), Plague (7-12 swarms)
Treasure none
Alignment Always Neutral Evil
Advancement None

Meki-Kantaka, Foul-Winged-Blindness
A coil of blood-red wings and hooked talons dripping with thick poison, this swarm of strange carrion birds possesses an obvious and unearthly intelligence – their echoing cries seem almost calculated.

With a sudden burst of rust-colored feathers and jagged screams of lust, a savage beast from another world bursts forward on a thousand wings that beat as one.

A twisting cloud of bloody-tinged carrion birds in the distant air is often the only warning that shambling corpse-giants thick with hungry bhoga-kantaka are on the approach.

Although they bear a more than casual resemblance to normal crows or ravens, the creatures called Meki-Kantaka are the result of a parallel evolution within a wildly divergent, alien ecology; they possess multi-pupiled eyes, exaggerated claws endowed with poison sacs, and tiny, hooked fingers that aid them when they sleep and feed upon the rotting mansions of the ghosts-with-many-teeth.

Bhoga-kantaka use swarms of the Foul-Winged-Blindness to scavenge for live prey, trusting in the predatory instincts of these carrion birds to guide the near-mindless walking corpse-castles inevitably toward under-protected settlements. While the majority of the ghosts sleep, the meki-kantaka ride the winds in spirals around the slowly striding, decayed form of the mansion, hunting down a Feast-Place for their masters.

For their part, the bhoga-kantaka treat the vast flocks of foul-winged blindness that crawl upon and peck at the necromancy-infused flesh of their walking mansions with a casual deference, although Wind Devourer priests occasionally climb across the backs of their zombie households to collect armfuls of meki-kantaka for use in ritualistic, divinatory sacrifice.

Among the most powerful mansions of the bhoga-kantaka, high-level Wind Devourers have somehow succeeded in breeding highly prized half-fiendish flocks of the meki-kantaka.

Combat:

Semi-autonomous swarms of the foul-winged-blindness are used to search out and pacify places for the ghosts-with-many-teeth to hunt and feast. Sweeping into hamlets, temples and other small settlements during daylight hours, they poison and disrupt the populace, blinding or laying low as many defenders as they are able before the bhoga-kantaka and patal-kantaka emerge with the onset of darkness.

Patal-Kantaka Hell Hound, Memory of the Breeding Feast CR 6
LE Large Magical Beast (Evil, Extraplanar, Fire, Lawful)
Init +5; Senses blind, blindsight, scent; Listen +12

Defense
AC 21, touch 10, flat-footed 20
(+1 Dex, +11 natural, -1 size)
hp 46 (4d10+24)
Fort +10, Ref +5, Will +5
Defensive Abilities Immune fire; Vulnerable cold

Offense
Spd 50 ft.
Melee bite +9 (2d6+6 plus 1d6 fire) and
2 claws +7 (1d6+3)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks Breath Weapon, Fiery Bite, Improved Grab, Rend
Tactics
Before Combat Patal-kantaka are not smart enough use clever tactics, but obey the commands of the bhoga-kantaka unfailingly.
During Combat A patal-kantaka is simply a powerful, disposable fast-attack shock-trooper, living shield-wall and siege engine.
Morale All patal-kantaka usually obey, even suicidally, the commands of its bhoga-kantaka masters - fighting until dead or retreating as commanded.
Statistics
Str 23, Dex 13, Con 23, Int 1, Wis 12, Cha 2
Base Atk +4; Grp +14
Feats Improved Initiative, Multiattack, Track(B)
Skills Hide +9, Jump +17, Listen +12, Move Silently +13, Spot +8, Survival +8 (+16 when tracking by scent)
(Hell hounds have a +5 racial bonus on Hide and Move Silently checks and receive a +8 racial bonus on Survival checks when tracking by scent, due to their keen sense of smell. All patal-kantaka have a +4 racial bonus to Listen checks.)
Languages none, but can be commanded via the bhoga-kantaka's telepathy
SQ blind, blindsight 30 ft., fire immunity, servant to ghosts, scent, vulnerability to cold
Special Abilities

A patal-kantaka hell hound’s natural weapons are treated as evil-aligned and lawful-aligned for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.

Breath Weapon (Su)
10-foot cone, once every 2d4 rounds, damage 2d6 fire, Reflex DC 18 half. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Fiery Bite (Su)
A patal-kantaka hell hound deals an extra 1d6 points of fire damage every time it bites an opponent, as if its bite were a flaming weapon.

Improved Grab (Ex)
To use this ability, a patal-kantaka hell hound must hit with its bite attack. It can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity.

Rend (Ex)
A patal-kantaka hell hound that wins a grapple check after a successful bite attack establishes a hold, latching onto the opponent’s body and tearing the flesh. This attack automatically deals 2d6+9 points of damage.

Servant to Ghosts (Su)
Creatures with this special quality are always considered to be under the effects of a charm monster spell cast by any bhoga-kantaka that makes contact with them using telepathy. Patal-kantaka hell hounds will even obey suicidal orders given to them by bhoga-kantaka, but the bhoga-kantaka must win an opposed Charisma check against the patal-kantaka hell hound.

Ecology
Environment Any
Organization Always in service to the bhoga-kantaka; solitary or mob (2-6)
Treasure none
Alignment Always lawful evil
Advancement 5-8 HD (Large), 9-12 HD (Huge)

Creating a Patal-Kantaka

Spoiler:

"Patal-Kantaka" is an acquired template that can be added to any living, corporeal creature that is not immune to poison (referred to hereafter as the base creature).
A patal-kantaka uses all of the base creature's statistics and special abilities except as noted here.

Size and Type: The creature's type changes to Magical Beast. Its size increases by one step: the creature gains a -1 (or more) size penalty to AC and attacks, a +4 bonus to grapple checks, a similar penalty on Hide checks, a die-size increase to damage on bites, claws and other natural attacks, and an increase in Space and Reach. Do not recalculate base attack bonus or saves.

Hit Dice: Increase base creature's base HD by one die size, to a maximum of d10. Do not increase class HD.

Speed: Base speed is increased by 10 ft., other movement modes remain unchanged.

Armor Class: Natural Armor improves by +6

Attack: A patal-kantaka has a bite attack and two claw attacks, and the bite is the primary natural weapon. Its extreme deformities are such that the patal-kantaka loses any ability it once had to use manufactured weapons.

Full Attack: A patal-kantaka uses its bite and both claw attacks, its secondary natural weapons, when making a full attack. The patal-kantaka loses any ability it once had to use manufactured weapons.

Damage: Patal-kantaka have bite and claw attacks. If the base creature does not have these attack forms, use the damage values as listed in the table found here. Otherwise, use the those values or the base creature's damage values, whichever are greater. Because the base creature increases in size by one category, be certain to increase the base creature's damage values on the table accordingly before you perform the comparison.

Special Attacks: A patal-kantaka retains all of the special attacks of the base creature and gains the extraordinary special abilities of Improved Grab and Rend.

To use these abilities, a patal-kantaka must hit with its bite attack. It can then attempt to start a grapple check as a free action without provoking attacks of opportunity. A patal-kantaka that wins a grapple check after a successful bite attack establishes a hold, latching onto an opponent's body and tearing the flesh. This rend attack automatically deals damage equal to a bite attack, although it deals one and one-half times strength modifier damage.

Special Qualities: A patal-kantaka has all the special qualities of the base creature, plus scent and blindsight to a range of 30 ft. It becomes blind and loses all other modes of vision, including darkvision and low-light vision. In addition, all patal-kantaka acquire the special quality servant to ghosts, losing their ability to fight against the will of the mansions of bhoga-kantaka that spawned and command them.

Servant to Ghosts (Su): Creatures with this special quality are always considered to be under the effects of a charm monster spell as cast by any bhoga-kantaka that makes contact with them using telepathy. Patal-kantaka will even obey suicidal orders given to them by bhoga-kantaka, but the bhoga-kantaka must win an opposed Charisma check against the patal-kantaka.

Abilities: Increase (and decrease) from the base creature as follows: Str: +10, Con: +10, Int: -8 (minimum 1), Wis: +2, Cha: -4 (minimum 1). Patal-kantaka with intelligence scores below 3 lose the ability to understand or speak languages, but may be commanded via the bhoga-kantaka's telepathy.

Skills: Although a patal-kantaka's intelligence score drops precipitously upon transformation, it retains whatever skill-ranks the base creature possessed - its total skill value should merely be adjusted for its new ability scores and larger size category. A patal-kantaka who advances by Hit Dice after its transformation gains skill points as a magical beast and has skill points equal to (2 + Int modifier, minimum 1) x (HD + 3). Do not include Hit Dice from class levels in this calculation - the patal-kantaka has magical beast skill points only for its racial Hit Dice, and gains the normal amount of skill points for its class levels, as adjusted for its sharply lower intelligence.
Treat skills from the base creature’s list as class skills, and other skills as cross-class.
All patal-kantaka receive +4 racial bonus to Listen checks.

Feats: Because patal-kantaka with class levels lose their abilities to use manufactured weapons, replace upon transformation any of the base creature's weapon-related feats with more appropriate feats such as Improved Grapple, Improved Natural Attack (bite), Multiattack and Weapon Focus (bite).

Challenge Rating: Same as base creature + 3 (minimum 4)
Alignment: Always lawful evil

Patal-Kantaka, Memory of the Breeding Feast
It was once a man, or something very like one – orc, maybe, or lizard-folk, or perhaps even a wolf. That much can be guessed.

But it has swollen with infection, and thick, rubbery bone and ropy coils of slithering muscle and otherworldly corruption to the hunched shape of a drooling troll, mucus-caked and hollow-eyed, and it lives to serve new masters now; to walk beside rolling castles of festering meat, to protect with potent teeth and claws the monstrous works of horrors from another world.

It is the bodyguard of black magic, a memory of hot blood spilled on cold earth for the orgy of the ghosts-with-many-teeth.

The sad remnants called Patel-Kantaka are the twisted result of the bhoga-kantaka’s horrid mating rituals – “survivors” of the hunt given new life and purpose as guards, shock-troopers, living siege engines and mobile emergency rations.

The creation of patal-kantaka is volatile, messy and infrequent. Bhoga-Kantaka have little or no comprehension of gender, and make no lines of gender-distinction within their society – they divide the necessary chores of their continued existence among the various blood-lines of their mansion in whatever way is most expedient to the ruling elites, often by whim of the insane Wind Devourers.

The exception to that ignorance comes only when a tribe engages in a particularly successful hunt, providing more than adequate food to satiate every member of the mansion and simultaneously refill their putrescent larders. Given the voracious appetites and long fasting periods of the bhoga-kantaka, this usually requires three or more Medium-size creatures per member of the tribe – one hundred humans for a mansion of thirty-two ghosts.

During such a meal, hormonal changes occur over the course of hours, and the vile Breeding Feast commences as the ghosts-with-many-teeth develop secondary sexual characteristics of ghastly design and function. Females double in size as their bodies swell with throbbing eggs waiting to be fertilized, losing nearly all ability to move; males bicker for dominance as they manifest frilled, engorged poison-sacs in their lower jaws. All bhoga-kantaka then enter a “heat,” seeking to breed with as many members of their mansion as possible.

Because males outnumber females by a ratio of about three to one, the many males without partners rapidly become violently agitated. Males waiting to breed vent their frustrations on living prey with dozens of weird, almost gentle “love bites” – often falling upon blinded, terrified humanoids and animals not yet killed and eaten.

The strange poisons of the male bhoga-kantaka enact a horrid and painful transformation on the prey; helpless creatures infused with the toxins collapse into a sort of churning chrysalis, and the hungry, warped things that emerge in the daylight are fed a meal of raw meat, their first as servants to the satiated bhoga-kantaka.

Patal-Kantaka are the lowest of the low within the ecology of the Hunger-that-Moves, guided always by the telepathic command of the Ghosts that the Memories-of-the-Breeding-Feast follow blindly behind, their short lives marked by extremes of violence, deprivation and horror.

The bhoga-kantaka cannot be said to feel much of anything for their drooling servants, though a Huge patal-kantaka - such as a servant generated from a Large size creature like an ape, horse or brown bear or one that increases in Hit Dice – is well-suited for expedient transformation into a meal & a new walking mansion after its death; bhoga-kantaka usually watch such precious creatures closely, hoping to retrieve the fallen body once the servant dies in combat.

Qadira Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

I think that I'm just going to say your powerful prose does what it is meant to do: hammer the reader into submission. There's enough Unlife and gigantic beasts and desolation and horrid blood-red birds here to fill a Lovecraft story.

That's part of the fun, of course.

The thematic hook is symbiosis, which a couple other contestants have used as well. It's a fairly literal approach, but it works. I'm a little less crazy about the naming with "Kantaka", which seems like a pretty lazy fantasy name to me. Onward.

Bhoga-Kantaka
I wish there were some description of this before the stat block. As a reader, I'm having trouble picturing it. The abilities are fine, but what is it? I don't know what the heck pseudo-feathers are for a looooong time, though they are mentioned constantly. Your sequence of presenting these seems off.

Mechanically, I'm not sure I buy a 1d6 bite on a Tiny creature. And I'm not crazy about giving Sneak Attack to a creature without class levels, but that may just be me.

Favor-wise, I love the use of the chichimec reference and the variant domains and classes to build an alien feel for these guys. I love the "mansions" and the look of them. Unfortunately, that flavor starts very, very late in the sequence of the monster writeup.

Further, the 1750-word Bhoga writeup eventually started to drag. You needed to cut this short, because while I thought we were heading into the higher mountains, it turns out we're still stuck in the foothills. Onward, to the heights!

Meki-Kantaka
A much shorter and more focussed writeup. Swarms are pretty straightforward. This works. I'm not sure that the tight connections between this and the other linked monsters make it as flexible as it could be, though, which is a weakness of the symbiote choice made at the beginning, rather than any weakness in the writeup.

Patal-Kantaka Hell Hound
The whole package here is starting to remind of me of the vegepygmy/brown mold/spiky dogs triad. Not a bad thing, necessarily. But that same vibe of alien humanoid plus domesticated species. The writeup itself doesn't do much for me; it is a hell hound variant with a couple twists, but not as inventive as some of your other work.

Plus, it is 1800 words long; not a negative since the stat block has no word count limit, but it is a lot of space for a fairly simple variant monster.

Rating: 1/3, though I suspect this is largely a matter of personal taste. Your work is solid, the stats work, and there's more than enough flavor. It's just too weird for me.

Fortunately for you, I know there are many gamers who would happily add this odd trio to their campaigns, and they will surely vote you into the next round.

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

Initial Comments (name, title, thematic link, design choices, playability, quality of writing, hook, theme, organization): B

I just roll my eyes and shake my head when I read your stuff. You just drip with style. It’s sick, really. I don’t know how you do it time after time. Names are a bit whacky, but so is the whole thing (maybe it’s just ‘cause it’s the holidays but I can’t help but sing Melakaliki Maka when I read this entry). One way that your totally “out-there-ness” hurts you is usability. You can’t just drop these guys in any campaign, like, say, the Darkblight monsters. Organization is also a bit jacked. I had to read all through it just for some simple descriptions that should be right up front. But in classic Boomer style, why do it simply if you can really dress it up. Seriously, though, can’t we please get a short description right up front in normal language? Boomer, don’t forget that people are actually supposed to be reading this in a book and using it for play. It’s got to be presented in a practical, useful way—not as an incredibly artistic genius mess, which is what this is. If your writing wasn’t so freaking great your flaws would be more fatal.

Monsters (proper format, good build, abilities and tactics, quality of mechanics, interesting new mechanics): B-
See above.

The Teeth: B-
The gratuitous use of non-core stuff from d20SRD.com is distracting frosting, but its yummy frosting. Tiny masterwork tridents? What? Walk with the dead is really cool.

The Wings: B-
More frosting. When you wipe the massive amounts of frosting off, I’m not sure there is much cake here. Ok, some bird things. Not that interesting, but not bad. I’m starting to wonder if your incredible writing is a cover up for worries that your designs are not as good as your writing.

The Horny Things: B-
I think I would need a nap about midway through an adventure in one of your campaigns. It’s just non-stop craziness: “A patal-kantaka is simply a powerful, disposable fast-attack shock-trooper, living shield-wall and siege engine.” And then the whole breeding feast and heat thing. Again, wipe off all the crazy frosting and what do you have? Not much.

Tilt (did it grab me, is it unique and cool, do I like it, flavor): B
One thing your stuff is, Boomer, is cool. My players would grab their heads and freak out if I threw these things at them. And it grabbed me, like your stuff always does since it is so unique and original.

Overall: B-
Gonzo. Again. But with style. But is the gonzo frosting really just covering up some rather plain monsters? The fans will have to decide.

Boomer. What am I going to do with you?

Here is what I wrote in response to your villain:

“Boomer, I have to admit that it is tough for me to critique you. Of all the contestants, while you don’t always deliver the best entry, I am convinced that you are one of the top 3 in raw talent. No question in my mind. It is hard for me not to just focus on that talent and give you great marks. It might actually lead me to being overly-critical of you. I have to really work hard to critique what you actually submitted. And I feel it is only fair to disclose that bias I have. I can honestly say I am a fan of your work. And I am one picky mofo. There are not a lot of people that I would say I am a “fan” of. But talent like you have can be a blessing and a curse. It brings high expectations. It can also lead to sloppiness. You don’t have this thing in the bag. It is time for you to really focus.”

I don’t think this submission is what I was expecting from you. Trust your talent. Pass on that extra helping of frosting and actually give me some more cake. You are lucky only two are getting cut, because this wasn’t your best. I don’t want to mainstream you, but you have to remember in the end you are supposed to be making stuff people will actually use not just read and freak out about.

You need to do better next round. Your unbelievable writing voice won’t win the whole thing for you without more substance under the frosting.

RECOMMENDED FOR TOP 6, but with a raised eyebrow.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

I have read so many s!&$ty in-character "Dear sire" introductions to D&D articles that thinking about it almost makes me want to puke, but I must commend you on an excellent in-character introduction. Your writing is very evocative, and I think this introduction is your strongest yet. You do have an extremely wahoo element to your style, and while that will attract a certain strong fandom, a lot of gamers are more conservative in their conceptions of fantasy than you are. They are not averse to weird things happening in their game, of course, but they are skeptical of the crazier stuff. One way to get everyone going in the same direction is to give your material a sound foundation in good writing, which is something that I feel has improved from you with each and every submission. You are taking this contest very seriously, and your dedication and focus on craft are reflecting very well on you as a designer.

All that said, I'm not quite sure what to make of the bhoga-kantaka. My game has not been crying out for tiny ethereal marauders, at least so far as my conscious mind is concerned, so (as usual) you're dwelling in somewhat risky territory.

I do like the bit about the bhoga-kantaka living inside mansions of flesh, but while their write-up does provide a lot of pretty language about their living habits I don't really have a great sense of what it is I'm supposed to _do_ with these little critters in my campaign. I get how their defensive powers will make them annoying, and I like the atmospherics alluded to in the in-character opening, but the goals of the ghosts with many teeth have been left deliberately inscrutable, which doesn't leave me with a whole lot to go with.

I must say that the business with half of the creature's powers going away when its pseudofeathers are removed added a lot of sloppy artifice to what could have been a cleaner stat block. Readers are treated to that phrase four times in eight lines of text, which leaves me to wonder if there isn't a better way to present that information. The strange aside about the bhoga-kantaka language also felt alien and grafted on to the stat block. The specifics of its communication style are probably best left to the text part of the stat block. Even so, I'm not certain it's even worth the fluff payoff, but I imagine some people will really like the value of the feathers and the stigma of losing them. Echoes of China Mieville's Perdido Street Station, there. Perhaps too much so.

Moving on to the meki-kantaka, I'm glad to see a swarm in this contest, as I really like the way they work in the game. Players are justifiably terrified of them, and I love it.

I like using permanent blindness as a secondary effect for a poison. I don't know if you're simply porting that from something already in the game or if you came up with the idea yourself, but I really like it.

I am getting a little bored with your name constructions. The Whirling Cackling, the Foul-Winged-Blindness, etc. The double-gerund approach on the former upsets digestion, and the extra hyphen in the second is a giveaway that you're operating on the edge of your knowledge of the language and grammar. That's good. We want you on that edge, but to be a true RPG Superstar you're going to need to know good construction from bad, and this is definitely an area where you should focus on improvement.

That said, I do like the meki-kantaka. I like the atmospherics, I like the way they presage the appearance of the corpse-mansions, and I like that they have a parallel evolution to ravens. The description is quite creepy, and unlike the bhoga-kantaka I actually have a decent idea of what they look like.

Even though you hid it behind a spoiler, you still have to jump through the format hoops on the template write up for the patal-kantaka. You can't just say "this creature has improved grab and rend." You've got to actually write it out.

As for the creatures themselves, well, a template seems like a lot of work to make essentially blind zombies. I'm not real impressed with these, but the story about the weird sexual characteristics of the bhoga-kantaka was interesting, and you always bring something different to the table.

Honestly, I'm sort of disappointed this time out. All of your submissions so far have "gone up to 11," and my expectations were very high. You again went for something over the top, but whereas previous submissions have involved elements with mythic touchstones (rakshasas, giant genies), you're pretty much flying without a net here, and the results are not 100% positive.

The bhoga-kantaka are fascinating creatures with questionable value to an encounter. I just don't really get what their point is in combat except to order other creatures around, which is boring. So while elements of these guys are really cool, I think it was sort of a misfire.

The walking mansions are a great concept and really cool, but they aren't really one of the three monsters, so they just reinforce the entry's unassailable atmospherics.

The meki-kantaka, as mentioned above, are solidly interesting.

Not so the patal-kantaka, which have underwhelming powers with, once again, strong atmospherics.

And while I appreciate strong atmospherics, that was the last challenge, and the purpose of this one was to bring to the table cool monsters that would be fun to put into the game. By that reckoning, I think this was not universally successful.

MY RATING: 1 of 3.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka SmiloDan

To be honest, I'm kind of disappointed with this entry. It seems weird just to be weird, and the overarching theme is that they're part of the same quasi-symbiotic ecology. That's like saying leaves, deer, and wolves share a theme: They live in the woods. Kind of weak.

Also, the bhoga-kanatakas or whatever with the feathers removed? Could have been cool if there was a neat mechanic or combat manuver to remove their feathers, but that wasn't explained. Well, maybe it was, but it was hard to read through all the weird flavor-text just to see if there was a special quality like:

Removable Wings (Ex). If a successful Disarm attempt is made against the boca-raton to pluck its feathers, the boca-raton loses the benefits of its SR, energy resistances, and its natural armor is reduced by 4.

But I didn't see that, so it just seemed like more weak & wacky flavor text. Maybe you should concentrate on easy to read and easy to use mechanics, and let the wackiness take a break if you make it to the next round.

Osirion

I'll be short.

You lost me on this one. My eyes started to blur trying to read it all and I got lost on what I was reading often. The color text up front was great, but the rest of it was a maze I had trouble taking in. I may go back and read it again later and try again.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013 aka Core

Would I use this in a game - No.

Is it well written - Adequate.

Does the theme hold up - No.

1/3

Comments - Looks like a product of having too much time for round 4. Over thought and over written. The theme is not clear and is muddled between prose, an attempt to instill dread, and italizied fluff that tends to be more distracting than useful. Sometimes it is just better to be clear, concise and purposeful and this generally goes the other direction.

If the creatures blew me away I think I would lean to give it a nod but that is not the case for me. I doubt I would personally ever use them.


the sneak attack w/o levels bothers me but there is no "natural" sneak attack so what can you do?
ill hop aboard the patal kantaka.


Yeah, its a crazy, way-out idea, with more atmospherics than comprehensible stats. But, hey, I don't really read the stats in these things; I only care about the atmosphere. And this has that, in spades. If I were to use this, it would have to be the focus of the scenario. A sort of 'WTF is going on here?' plot, if you will. But I can see myself finding a use for this somewhere, and it does seem quite cool.

So, you have one of my votes.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka Clandestine

I love the concept behind this entry, as well as the creatures provided. I can see why some people may be disappointed by this, but not me for sure. It is most certainly making it's way in my next campaign, and most certainly getting my vote.

Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Jorrik the Fat wrote:
Yeah, its a crazy, way-out idea, with more atmospherics than comprehensible stats. But, hey, I don't really read the stats in these things; I only care about the atmosphere. And this has that, in spades. If I were to use this, it would have to be the focus of the scenario.

Right ... I can see myself using the concept here, but there's a lot of stuff here and it is tough to wade through - like trying to read one of those White Wolf rulebooks that is 75% flavor and 25% rules.

I also have to read it again - I was expecting some sort of massive, mansion-sized creature that held all of these things, kind of like that forest-eater in the old Thunderbirds TV show.

Just watched Resident Evil: Extinction, however, and I can totally picture the murder of crows from hell.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka SmiloDan

gbonehead wrote:
Jorrik the Fat wrote:
Yeah, its a crazy, way-out idea, with more atmospherics than comprehensible stats. But, hey, I don't really read the stats in these things; I only care about the atmosphere. And this has that, in spades. If I were to use this, it would have to be the focus of the scenario.

Right ... I can see myself using the concept here, but there's a lot of stuff here and it is tough to wade through - like trying to read one of those White Wolf rulebooks that is 75% flavor and 25% rules.

I also have to read it again - I was expecting some sort of massive, mansion-sized creature that held all of these things, kind of like that forest-eater in the old Thunderbirds TV show.

Just watched Resident Evil: Extinction, however, and I can totally picture the murder of crows from hell.

But they already statted out the Murder of Crows swarm in Heroes of Horror or something, so I was looking for something cool and neat, and instead I got diarhea of the mouth (or typing fingers). It needs to be neatened up and the word count has to be halved or quartered. Also, I'm not sure what the unifying theme is, except non-memorable names that kind of rhyme.


Wow.

Clinton, you are hands down the best pure writer in this competition. This whole entry oozes with atmosphere and evocative style, and, unlike a lot of gaming material, it's actually a pleasure to read.

That said, I have to agree with Clark; your sheer talent sometimes covers up some very real flaws in your design. But, you know what, who cares. You can always work out the kinks in your design skills, but no one can teach you how to write like you do, and that's a commodity I would gladly pay for.

You have my vote simply because I'd like to read more of your writing. =]

BD


gbonehead wrote:
there's a lot of stuff here and it is tough to wade through - like trying to read one of those White Wolf rulebooks that is 75% flavor and 25% rules.

Hmm... well I can't say that that strikes me as a particularly bad proportion. Which may be why we differ! :)


All I have to say is I've talked to some people who've played in your Cthullu stories, and this seems to fit in with the general terror they've told me they felt. All in all, this is an interesting topic and idea, if I was running a DnD horror campaign would definitely be something I would want in play. I would also be terrified by seeing this in a Cthullu story, which in my opinion is where it kind of belongs. Anyway, flavor text was delicious but could have been cut down some and it would have been nice to see descriptions up front. Still though, it shows potential I believe and I would like to see what you can do next round.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Sheyd

AH Boomer! My mind is still reeling from reading this entry. As Whacked out and mind-churning this entry is I can actually say I have a use for it in one of my settings so consider it yoinked. This is the first entry I've read and I may have to go lay down for a moment before going on. You've spun my senses on this one. However as stated by judges and other posters I do have a few issues.

Your names had me singing songs from Lilo and Stitch.

A description of these things before the stat block would have been nice.

Pseudo feathers? Guy I had to read through most the stat block wondering what they were and if I as a player could collect them after everything was killed.

It's a good entry, the theme is strong and there's a template so I'm liking it despite the sanity points I lost reading it!


Swarms are good. Links to undead are good. Creepy horror is good.

Getting lost in the writeup and not knowing what to make of the total package is bad.

I don't think you're in danger of dropping out this round, but listen to what the big guns are telling you. They are giving you instructions on how to win.

I like the names. You all can stop making fun.

Cheliax RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Contributor

I thank each and every one of the judges and voters for their time, attention, comments and criticism, and hope only to learn and improve from the feedback.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

I got a little dizzy reading this--the signal-to-noise ratio seemed even more Boomerific than in your previous entries. Still, I might have used these freaked out mutants in my last campaign. They do seem like the sort of horrors that the Far Realmsian ubervillains I was using would have unleashed on the world.

I think giving a monster sneak attack and evasion is fine. Better than trying to come up with some goofy mechanic that was sort of like it but not exactly, just to say it wasn't a 'class ability.' Yeah, the feather thing could have been clearer, but I like the tiny tridents and the fact that we have TINY creatures that are stronger than an average human. I was surprised you didn't give the bhogas the Tumble skill, given their monkeyish feel and the fact that they seem to be primarily melee monsters with zero reach, so they have to move INTO opponents' squares to bite or poke them (AoOs). Still, as pack hunters you have one or two suck up the AoOs and the rest of your buddies go to town unless the PCs have Combat Reflexes. Anyway, I like the evil gremlins (they remind me of Gremlins... just don't let em hurt Phoebe Cates... mmm...) with 'roid rage.

The fleshy mansions could have been... well, fleshed out... as their own separate monster (maybe in place of the template), but I think they work fine for what you're doing with them. I think there was a monster in MM2 (hullathoin?) that belched out zombies, and some sort of worm that vomited up skeletons, and I get a similar vibe (which I would call a good thing) thinking about a big shambling zombie with a platoon of gremlin freaks jumping out of it--though I guess it's reversed, the zombie is the bus, not the driver.

The killer crows are nice as I'm a fan of swarms, but the template didn't grab me as much (though the origin/background for acquiring the template was masterfully icky). I've still only read half the entries so I need to come back and look again when I'm done.


this leaves me wanting to see the anime based on your fantasy game, but not to try to *run* your campaigns.

I'm not sure what to do with that feeling.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Thematically and organically related, totally. Well written, insanely so. Now, I wouldn’t use these all the time, but they’d certainly make for one memorable adventure. The first writeup was a bit long, and the Ghosts were definitely the most interesting, the Wings next, and the Memory a little blah. I know the walking mansions are more plot trimming than monster, but I’d have liked to hear more about that maybe instead of the hounds. These monsters would be perfect in some kind of variant campaign – Nyambe comes immediately to mind.

I give it a solid B!

Andoran RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka JoelF847

Your entry reminded me of the Nifft books, which I recently read, but unfortunately, that's not necessarily a good thing, since I didn't enjoy them that much. The completely alien and crazy ecology of bizarre monsters fits in that world though; if you haven't read them, I suspect you'd like them. (They're by Michael Shea, in case you want to look them up.)

That being said, I also was very curious about what you were doing with the pseudo-feathers (or would they actually be quasi-feathers or faux-feathers). It would have been cool as an earlier posters said, if you could remove them in combat somehow.

The template really didn't sit well with me - I basically read it and though, so, this basically changes anything into a blind, super-anything. It just seemed to heap on too many bonuses without a particular theme or reason. Finally, the fact that it allowed you to replace feats that weren't useful anymore seemed blatantly wrong. My reaction to that is, if you're captured by weird alien outsiders and transformed into a mindless beast of war, why should you get to replace your feats?

Finally, if all of these Katanas (I know that's wrong, but I read it that way every time and had a difficult time not imagining samurai somehow involved) are outsiders, where are they from? I guess I could imagine that they're from the ethereal, due to the supposed ethereal marauder link, but I'd rather the monster description tell me instead of me having to guess.

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

The link between these creatures forms a strong and evocative whole. It might, though, provide two good monsters and a number of not-very-effective hangers-on. It wasn't clear to me from the thematic section which monsters the author had chosen to describe in detail or exactly what the name Kakuen-Taka referred to.

The Ghosts-with-many-teeth really needed to start with a physical description to give me an idea what they actually were. Very shortly after that, they needed an explanation of what pseudo-feathers are. I skimmed past the stat block, looking for this, so all that work was more or less wasted in convincing me to vote.

After reading the description of pseudo-feathers as woven from alloy, I got to the next section and found that I still had completely the wrong idea, and also that I should have taken note earlier that encounters with bhoga-kantaka without their pseudo-feathers are important.

It's sufficient to say that I found the structure here very confusing. By that stage, I had a rough idea what the concepts and strengths of the entry were, with a clear problem: great visuals, very difficult to follow the details. Depending on the strengths of other entries I'll see if I need to go further into it.

edit: OK, from reading a couple of other entries and posts, the structure that's causing such a problem is either mandated, or at least a common interpretation of the rules. I'll spend some more time on this later.


I've saved commenting on this one for last. You have a lot of talent, but I really think you try too hard with your descriptive text. I liked the concept of the Bhoga, and the other two concepts were decent, but the whole thing just literally drowns in prose. And this is a little thing, but those name descriptions like "Memory of the Breeding Feast" are starting to get on my nerves as you put one on each of your creatures, along with your villain from last round. Sometimes simple is better.

I have a hunch you'll make top 6, but I just can't bring myself to vote for this. My honest reaction is it would be my #6 out of the 8 entries. I really like your imagination, but you keep crossing the line just a little too much each time for my taste.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Ezekiel Shanoax, the Stormchild

I like this. The intense weirdness going on here is quite appealing to me, and let me tell you why:

The idea of all those Tiny little bhogas skittering around in the shadows or clutched together inside the rotting ribcage of a lumbering zombie-mastodon is totally creepy, alien, and bizarre. Their description is certainly unique, but the fact that they are Tiny creatures I find really interesting - after all, when do we ever have Tiny monsters? D&D parties excel at slamming their big swords and big spells into big foes that take up several squares on the board and just scream "flank me", but hordes of little (yet crafty) monsters lend themselves to complex maneuvers and a real challenge. I keep thinking of the movie Gremlins...

The description of the Breeding Feast is wonderfully gruesome.

Also, I'll note that I think the bhogas, even though they are the motive force behind all the other elements, still strike me pleasingly as 'monsters'- not 'villains', and not just new 'magical beasts'. And I'm not just talking about comparing this assignment to last round, no. I'm thinking about what a "monster" is: it is supposed to shock the observer, generating horror not only in its actions, but by its very existence. Any man can slay an animal, and warriors all can put their spears to beasts, magical or otherwise. And villains can be outfought and defeated. But a real /monster/... should be alien and horrific enough that one's fight is not merely for survival, but for sanity.

Bravo to a set of monsters daring to be truly /monstrous/.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Steven T. Helt

From my posts before this round started, you'd expect I was gonna be hard on the top 8. I said the theme had to be strong, but was a tie breaker. At home I can break up the trilogy and use the monsters however I want, but I can't use monsters that aren't mechanically sound.

Thematically, you rocked my expectations.

I like the name scheme. Very literate with the Indic mythology and such.

The intro was excellent. I want to be scared of a monster after I read its intro. It was like a good horror movie preview. 'Pray this never happens in your town.'

I think this is a boss theme. A symbiotic ecology is about as interconnected a set of creatures as you can have. As I said on the boards: the mechanics and uniqueness is the priority for me. Theme is a requirement and a tiebreaker, though not an afterthought. Therefore, I think your theme might be hard to beat. Well done.

Mechanically, I have some issues.

Spoiler:

A quick comaparison to cr 5 creatures in the MM has me worried. A bhoga by itself is a tough encounter. These things beat down all other CR 5 creatures, including dragons and arrowhawks (which are barely CR to me).

A fighter 5 with 20 STR, wpn focus, and a +1 wpn still needs a 12 to hit. AC 24 seems high, especially in conjunction with a fair resistance to magic, all good saves, immunity to poison, and DR 5/magic. Maybe the fighter 5 really has a +1 wpn, but his whole party's relying on him to put on all the hurt. Maybe +8 nat is a little high for a tiny creature?

Plus all those resistances, and that absurd hide check. Pretty damn hard to kill. Add in the fact that they are like a locust plague of Tiny terrasques, and I think most DMs start looking for ways to encounter just one of them.

Bite attack +10 (1d6+1) should be: +6 bab+4dex+2size=bite+12. Small bite damage is usually a d4. I don't think there should be many exceptions to size-based damage.

Trident attacks should be: +10 melee, +13 ranged

Very high STR for tiny creature. S m u r p h-size and considerably stronger than humans?

Grapple math is off: you say -6 but I count -1 (+6bab+1str-8size)

I like that they are telepathic only, but do not have a hive mind.

Sneak attack is a strange design choice since creatures with 0 reach can't flank. But I guess they rely on hide checks to enter their opponent's squares? Tough to beat, since they can move unseen through cover, attack, and still hide at +9.

The SR is appropriate. Maybe raise the SR to 11+ and fire the resistances or evasion? Sucks to get that cone of cold through only to have the thing not take much damage for two reasons.

Concerning how many live in a mansion, I would much rather see the consistent *4 progression (1/4/16/64/256). As if 256 of these things on a colossal zombie, surrounded by hellhounds and swarms of birds isn't a lot like God spraying oven cleaner on the entire countryside.

Awesome use of the chichimec. I love that guy. Used him in the big campaign last spring. Chichimecs are hardcore DND, and also give the campaign somewhere to conceivably go after the world is saved from these things.

You have favored classes, and notes for armor-wearing bhogas with class levels, but no ECL. I think +6.

They are Int 14 and have little forges cranking out tridents, but they don't hammer out mw chain shirts? A Tiny-appropriate 0-2 points of natural armor, combined with +4 armor bonus would solve my AC complaints. Some.

Now the feathers: I hate the feathers. These things are whoopass and complicated enough already. You could make them CR4 and fire every benefit from the feathers. You'd save yourself words and not add the extra confusion.

Also, pseudo-feathers sounds bad. I can't picture them. Gossamer feathers, spectral feathers that reach into the ethereal, or just plain feather would be easier to comprehend.

SWARMS
Poison?Distraction save DC: I see 10+4(9 HD)+2(ability focus)+1Con=17

That's a kickass poison. And I like the fatigue element. Poison should have a disorienting, incapacitating feel to it.

TEMPLATE
The hellhounds should have the descriptor: 'Augmented outsider'

Why is the patal as good a tracker, forger, or diplomat as it used to be. Perhaps it only retains instinctive skills like climb, balance, move silently? Maybe its class skill list becomes only such things. It's likely Int 1 (dumber than all mammals. As smart as a fish. Just keep swimming!

How about "The creature loses all weapon-related feats, and any feats with an intelligence prerequisite. The creature gains Weapon Focus as a bonus feat." Replacing feats means the creature is giving up less than other templates require, but getting so much more. Maybe the bonus feat instead, and loses the ability to do thinking things. Also, you already got a bump in size.

You are a good writer, and very scenic and descriptive. But sometimes it's like you get paid by the adjective. Practice more economy and save words. With this awesome, apocalyptic symbiot, you could save words on adjectives and give us a small paragraph about what it's like when the first bhoga show up, followed by reports of huge zombies in clouds of carrion birds. Maybe too much detail on the reproductive thing - you are talking about the patal, then launch into this in order to explain that half the males get left out. More to the point saves you words for a more satisfying ending.

I hope you won't be upset with me. This is how I will grade the other entries. I think this is the hardest round in the game. You obviously worked very hard and presented a unique and terrifying concept. I would have 86ed the feathers, dropped some of the excess descriptive text, and included a small chart describing the overall EL of sample mansions loaded down with these guys. It helps to do some of the math for your DMs, and this is a very complicated encounter structure.


It's overwritten. Some of it is quite good, but much of it seems to lose focus in an attempt to squeeze in adjectives. Many areas could do with some editing for precision. I think the assembly line nature of the contest has finally shown some chinks in the writing process for you.

That does not flow over to the concept creativity, however. I found the theme and individual concepts intriguing and inspirational. The abilities and mechanics were a bit hit and miss. Sneak attack and evasion are fine for monsters (there are a few of WotC monsters with these abilities built-in), but it's not that attention grabbing.

I think you got indulgent here, mistaking verbosity for having the same effectiveness of a clear, precise detail in evocation.

But, I tell you what, that I find myself considering the actual writing to such a level speaks to your gift. I need to think more on how my votes will go before giving a yay or nay.

Cheliax RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Contributor

I request:

feedback
votes
love for all humanity

Cheliax RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Contributor

Ezekiel Shanoax, the Stormchild wrote:

I like this. The intense weirdness going on here is quite appealing to me, and let me tell you why:

The idea of all those Tiny little bhogas skittering around in the shadows or clutched together inside the rotting ribcage of a lumbering zombie-mastodon is totally creepy, alien, and bizarre. Their description is certainly unique, but the fact that they are Tiny creatures I find really interesting - after all, when do we ever have Tiny monsters? D&D parties excel at slamming their big swords and big spells into big foes that take up several squares on the board and just scream "flank me", but hordes of little (yet crafty) monsters lend themselves to complex maneuvers and a real challenge. I keep thinking of the movie Gremlins...

The description of the Breeding Feast is wonderfully gruesome.

Also, I'll note that I think the bhogas, even though they are the motive force behind all the other elements, still strike me pleasingly as 'monsters'- not 'villains', and not just new 'magical beasts'. And I'm not just talking about comparing this assignment to last round, no. I'm thinking about what a "monster" is: it is supposed to shock the observer, generating horror not only in its actions, but by its very existence. Any man can slay an animal, and warriors all can put their spears to beasts, magical or otherwise. And villains can be outfought and defeated. But a real /monster/... should be alien and horrific enough that one's fight is not merely for survival, but for sanity.

Bravo to a set of monsters daring to be truly /monstrous/.

Ezekiel, I think that your post got eaten by the post-eating monster.

Regardless, I both acknowledge your feedback and encourage you to vote for my submission.

Cheliax RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Contributor

propeliea wrote:

It's overwritten. Some of it is quite good, but much of it seems to lose focus in an attempt to squeeze in adjectives. Many areas could do with some editing for precision. I think the assembly line nature of the contest has finally shown some chinks in the writing process for you.

That does not flow over to the concept creativity, however. I found the theme and individual concepts intriguing and inspirational. The abilities and mechanics were a bit hit and miss. Sneak attack and evasion are fine for monsters (there are a few of WotC monsters with these abilities built-in), but it's not that attention grabbing.

I think you got indulgent here, mistaking verbosity for having the same effectiveness of a clear, precise detail in evocation.

But, I tell you what, that I find myself considering the actual writing to such a level speaks to your gift. I need to think more on how my votes will go before giving a yay or nay.

Propeliea, I think that your post got eaten by the post-eating monster.

Regardless, I both acknowledge your feedback and request your vote.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013

Kakuen-Taka!
What a horrid set o'beasts!
Kakuen-Taka!
Just a movable feast.
What are pseudo-feathers,
And how do we remove them please?
A confusing entry, no vote from me
Kakuen-Taka!

Ahem...

As others have mentioned, my eyes glazed over and it took several times to read through this. I, too, worry they're too strong, too resistant and too hard to hit.

Maybe i'm jaded, but the lovecraftian giant zombies moving across the plains of Africa, disgorging swarms of these little buggers, didn't do much for me.

Sorry, good prose but no donut.


Wow very creative and evocative submission. IMO you standout as one of the best writers in the RPG Superstar contest. You are very talented and I am expecting to see some of your work published in the next year or so. Your biggest hurdle IMO is your writing always seeems to be on full strength. I believe it would be beneficial to tone some of the writing down a notch or two. Sometimes less is more. Your writing is so strong it actually overpowers the actual mechanics of your work and the reader. It is actually a little hard for a DM to paraphrase some of it in their own words which is usually better than the DM struggling through reading the creature description for the party. Many readers like myself actually need to step back and distance ourselves from your writing due to it's intensity. It ened up being between you, Jason and Russell for my third vote. Wishing you the best I have enjoyed seeing all your work. Good luck.


I think that ancientsensai hit on a point that I was noticing when reading through this entry.

The hook of this monster is it's combination. You're talking several 8+ of the little guys, a swarm, maybe two, and at least a few of the Patal's. That makes for a fairly high level encounter, but none of these things on their own would really make an interesting encounter. If your party encounters a few of the ghosts, it doesn't have the same dramatic effect.

That being said it means a lot of math for the DM to come up with (especially with clunky stat blocks and things like psuedo-feathers to keep track of). Since most DMs aren't used to running combat with tiny monsters that means they'll more than likely be struggling with attacks and provoking attacks of opportunity, not to mention the swarm which is another kind of unique monster type that DMs may not be inherently familiar with, and then given a blind zombie template tossed in there. That's a lot to keep track of as a DM. I'm fairly new to DMing I realize, but I got a little overwhelmed the other night running a combat with 10 humanoid opponents vs 6 PCs forgetting bonuses and aoo's and what not. Throw in the additional complexities of these monsters means even more of a headache for me as a DM.

Yours is the third monster entry I've read thus far so I can't say for sure if this is going to get my vote or not, it's on the borderline for sure.


The whole Time I'm reading this I can't help but picture a group of the little bobble-head guys from "Princess Mononoke" gone horribly wrong.

The little guys I like, the wing-things i like, but the last one feels very 'meh' to me. I would have preferred it if you had made the mansions as a more distinctive undead template and crunched them out instead.

Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Jason Nelson 20 wrote:
... but I like the tiny tridents and the fact that we have TINY creatures that are stronger than an average human.

heheheh

Give a Tiny creature the pseudonatural (epic) template and it gets +22 to Strength and a bonus tentacle attack that does 2d8 damage.

Can certainly make a lantern archon interesting. Not that I'd know.

Ahem.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Sorry, Boomer. I loved your entries thus far and have voted for every single one of them. This time, though, your entry does next to nothing for me - I didn't even get to the stat blocks, because the fluff entries were so convoluted and distracting. Add to that the "Oriental Adventures" naming vibe (which provokes allergic reactions for me ...) and you've probably lost some readers before the strenghts of your entry could really show.

Let me echo that "just over the top" will probably make you win this contest, while "far out there" will not. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for your advancement, though. :)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka Sir_Wulf

In some ways, the symbiosis of the Hunger That Moves reminds me of David Gerrold's Cthorr novels: Bizarre, eerie, and alien. I liked the basic idea, and found the descriptions engaging, with definite moments of imaginative genius. The flavor text was excellently done, leading well into the descriptive writing. While your prose sometimes veered into the “purple”, I vastly prefer that extreme to dry, flavorless writing.

You were not the only author who suffered from the required format. Since the “crunchy bits” sat in front of the descriptive text, vitally important description lay hidden deep within the piece.

Bhoga-Kantaka, Ghost with Many Teeth
Some of the information in this creature’s stat block was hard for me to credit. 6 hit dice, 13 Strength, and a 1d6+1 bite (…plus two more dice from their sneak attack!) from creatures in the same weight class as a housecat?

Unfortunately, your descriptive writing suffered from needless complexity. Some of the social details about the feathers were interesting, but their amazing multipurpose feathers were hard to believe. They seem to do everything but chop julienne fries!

Other details distracted from the main points of the creature. As an example: Their levels in wilderness rogue made sense, but adding battle sorcerer as a second class? Unique telepathy? Various rogue abilities before their rogue levels are added? +8 “feather” bonuses on numerous skills? This “chrome” added complexity without need. Frankly, I appreciate creatures that I can run on the last day of a ‘con without having to look up 50 different details.

Sadly, I also didn’t envision these creatures as a fun fight for my PCs. Sound tactics on the monsters' part suggest that they would attack from ambush, often gaining initiative due to their high bonus. After the PCs begin knocking them down with organized resistance, they would flee, possibly luring pursuers into new ambushes. Honestly, fighting them sounded frustrating to me.

Meki-Kantaka, the Foul-Winged-Blindness
A flying, intelligently guided swarm with fire and cold resistance: I give high marks for creativity on this one, but expect they would be a grim battle for the typical 4th or 5th level party expected to handle such encounters.

This creature is much more straightforward, without the Byzantine complexity of its predecessor. It is described clearly, although more supporting information about its life-cycle would have been appreciated. They compare adequately to swarms of carrion birds I’ve seen in other material, and work well as part of the symbiotic whole.

Patal-Kantaka, Memory of the Breeding Feast
Again, the flavor text was well done. The hell-hound example creature was well-chosen, and could easily become an interesting encounter. The template itself was uninspiring. It makes the victim into a big, subservient brute: We’ve seen those before.


I really like the flavor you have going here for this entry, the idea of a massive zombie that rolls across the countryside spewing out these abominations to feed is awesome. However I have the same concerns as ancientsensei and propeliea.

A common concern I am finding this round is great ideas and writing that are let down by clunky, bad mechanical weaknesses. Of all the submissions I think this one possibly has the biggest jar between the writing and the mechanics. I really like the idea of the pseudo-feathers (but not the name), but then after going through all the trouble of pointing out what they do, you don't tell us how (or even if) a PC can remove them in combat. If it's not going to affect the encounter with the PCs, we really don't need all the details about it.

But my biggest concern with this is the encounter you expect to have against the PCs. Let's have a look at the expected encounter. Assuming a huge Zombie, (Probabaly CR 7 or so), we have 32 Bhoga's (at CR 5), we will probably have a couple of Meki as well (say 4 at CR 6), and throw in a couple of Patals to round it out (say 3 at average CR 6), and then a "head" bhoga to lead it all (say Cleric CR 8 or so), and we have a EL of 16! Yep, that's right, SIXTEEN. And I have to run 40 individual creatures.

At this stage, one AoE spell from the wizard will wipe everything out. I'm sorry, as designed, there is no way these guys can be a good challenge for PCs. They may work with like 4 bhoga's, a patal and a meki, but where is the fun in that? These are designed to be encountered in large numbers. But in large numbers, they either wipe out the party, or get wiped out by a single AoE spell. I'm sorry, that's just not good enough form an RPG superstar. How am i suppossed to actually use these great monsters?

And it's disappointing, because this is a great idea that has been let down by the execution. The picture of the PCs facing down this huge zobie as it rolls toward a village, dealing with the flying swarm as the bhoga's attack out of the zombie and the patals dart in like shock troopers is an awesome image that I would love to reproduce in my game. But unfortunately, these creatures as presented just can't work like that in DnD. They either completely overwhelm the party with pure numbers, or are wiped out with one (maybe 2) AoE spells from the wizard.

When I read the Bhoga entry, I was thinking shock trooper, not leader, but it seems the leaders of the Bhoga castles are simply advanced bhogas? I don't know, something about tiny leaders doesn't sit right. And the Patals just seem tacked on. Almost like you had a cool creature story (which I loved), and wanted a template / creature to show it off.

With the same flavor, I would have preferred something like a monster with innate spellcasting power, (probably medium size) able to cast animate dead. The animate the zombie which they use as a mount. Keep the Meki swarm, but change the bhoga's to a swarm as well. I don't really see why they need to be individual creatures. Then you have this awesome cleric dude riding an undead mount, which empties swarms at the PCs, distracting them while they try to deal with the leader. Same flavor, most of your description still stands, and it is actually an encounter I can use with my PCs.

Cheliax RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Contributor

Sir_Wulf wrote:
In some ways, the symbiosis of the Hunger That Moves reminds me of David Gerrold's Cthorr novels: Bizarre, eerie, and alien.

Oh, man, I am in LOVE with the "Chtorr War" novels! Solomon Short got me through Jr. High, and still mostly sane.

Note: reading a book entitled "A Matter for Men" or "A Day for Damnation" in the cafeteria will cause many people to look at you funny.

Cheliax RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Contributor

mevers wrote:

I really like the flavor you have going here for this entry, the idea of a massive zombie that rolls across the countryside spewing out these abominations to feed is awesome. However I have the same concerns as ancientsensei and propeliea.

I am paying VERY close attention to the feedback presented here on Paizo, and I thank everyone on these boards for their continued discussion of my work and the work of my peers - I hope only to become a better writer and self-editor!

Also, I assure you that I would very, very much like to respond to many of your valid and challenging questions and concerns. Rather than risk a DQ, however, might I ask some of my Paizo people to perhaps field some of these questions?

Again, thank you everyone!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Ezekiel Shanoax, the Stormchild

thatboomerkid wrote:
mevers wrote:
Also, I assure you that I would very, very much like to respond to many of your valid and challenging questions and concerns. Rather than risk a DQ, however, might I ask some of my Paizo people to perhaps field some of these questions?

I can see that in the rules for Round 4 the contestants were REQUIRED to post the stat blocks /before/ the descriptive texts for their monsters. Hrm?

I don't know if the format-gods intended it to be this way, but I think a lot of contestants, including the Boom, suffered by having to follow that format.

Let's not fault anybody this round for following instructions.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka Sir_Wulf

mevers wrote:

But my biggest concern with this is the encounter you expect to have against the PCs. Let's have a look at the expected encounter. Assuming a huge Zombie, (Probabaly CR 7 or so), we have 32 Bhoga's (at CR 5), we will probably have a couple of Meki as well (say 4 at CR 6), and throw in a couple of Patals to round it out (say 3 at average CR 6), and then a "head" bhoga to lead it all (say Cleric CR 8 or so), and we have a EL of 16! Yep, that's right, SIXTEEN. And I have to run 40 individual creatures.

At this stage, one AoE spell from the wizard will wipe everything out. I'm sorry, as designed, there is no way these guys can be a good challenge for PCs. They may work with like 4 bhoga's, a patal and a meki, but where is the fun in that? These are designed to be encountered in large numbers. But in large numbers, they either wipe out the party, or get wiped out by a single AoE spell. I'm sorry, that's just not good enough form an RPG superstar. How am i suppossed to actually use these great monsters?

While I wasn’t without criticism of Boomer's critters, I feel for the guy: Please allow me to suggest how they might be used.

They seem best suited to an APL range of 6 to 8: PCs capable enough to handle the monsters’ nastiness, but not so potent that they'll effortlessly walk over the creatures’ defenses. At this level, the party would encounter the creatures in a piecemeal fashion:

The Appetizer
While the heroes enjoy a pleasant evening in the tiny hamlet of Defenselessford, swarms of flying horrors descend upon the village. Not all of the fiendish swarms target the PCs: Some of their spite is released on the villagers, what warhorses are available within the town, and other vulnerable targets. The attacking force is actually made up of 6 meki swarms, led by 4 bhoga scouts: Up to 3 of the swarms attack the PCs, while the bhoga remain hidden some distance away, coordinating the sortie and evaluating the town’s defenses.

After the creatures are repelled, the PCs will want to know what’s going on. Successful Knowledge skill checks, along with consultation of musty tomes in the Chapel of St. Whatshisname, reveal the true nature of the menace facing the town. They can expect an imminent attack!

The First Attack
The heroes have a grim choice: Go hunt the creatures that face the town (leaving it virtually defenseless) or help the villagers prepare for the impending attack. After they prepare, the next attack begins. A motley assortment of 3 patal hell hounds, 4 patal ogres, and 2 patal warhorses wander into the defenses, forcing the defenders to commit themselves while a group of 8 bhoga infiltrate. The bhoga don’t manage to place themselves until their minions are dying, so the fortified party faces two back-to-back fights. The tiny bhoga are capable of sneaking into many locations: They might climb a building to dig in through a thatched roof, for instance.

Refugees
In the middle of the night, a band of travelers arrives at the town, desperate for shelter. They may set off defenses or cause trigger-happy PCs to waste spells. Their exaggerated tales of the hordes of hideous monsters lurking in the night may cause surviving villagers to panic.

The Climax
After fending off the first serious attack, the party may be feeling a bit shot up, but optimistic. Hours pass before the horrors’ attack ratchets up to the next level. Their “mansion”, once a giant, lumbers into the village and starts wrenching the villagers’ defenses apart. 12 surviving bhoga are led by two with 4 wilderness rogue levels each and one 5th level cleric. The bhoga scuttle into the village as the giant zombie knocks holes in walls and tears roofs apart. Surviving swarms may fly down chimneys or enter through cracks in buildings.

A party that had a rough time earlier may not be able to handle this threat, in which case the bhoga spend more of their efforts trying to kill or disable innocent townsfolk instead of the defenders. They don’t want their food to get away! Some bhoga may have feasted upon unattended bodies (probably livestock); a few of them may attack individually, attempting to bite as many creatures as possible

A proactive party may seek out the bhoga and their mansion to destroy them. They still find the bhoga in numbers similar to the town battles, but the bhoga try to lure them into ambushes, hiding themselves near their mansion.

The logical follow-up to this scenario would be a quest for the source of the bhoga, perhaps the lair of a wizard more daring than prudent in his experiments.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka Sir_Wulf

As soon as I jotted it down, it occurred to me that my little "defend the village" (7 Samurai) plot needed an extra layer. I suggest that the PCs came to Defenselessford following a rumor: A notorious thief, "Sable" Pirre McGuffin, regularly visits a widow from the tiny hamlet. It is perhaps the only opportunity to corner the elusive rogue, who seldom leaves the dangerous warrens of his home city. The PCs patron hope that they can recover a cache of magical lore stolen by the thief.

This adds sorely needed interest to the hoary plot given above. The creatures' attack may distract the PCs from their quest, or the rogue may aid them in their battles. His hidden tunnels may provide a safe haven, or may become a hidden achilles' heel in the party's plans.

Cheliax RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Contributor

Sir_Wulf wrote:


While I wasn’t without criticism of Boomer's critters, I feel for the guy: Please allow me to suggest how they might be used.

James, I could kiss you right on the lips.

If you prefer, I could probably get one of the PSA girls to smooch you on a cheek.

Anyway, thanks.


Sir_Wulf wrote:
A great outline of how to use these guys in an encounter

Thanks for that. It really captures how the PCs might actually encounter these creatures. But it just makes my point I think, that information like that should have been in the entry.

I think the biggest mistake a lot of the contestants made this round was that they got distracted by designing great, flavorful creatures, and forgot they were supposed to be designing creatures for a DM to actually use. These entries are supposed to appear in a Monster Manual of some description, and so should contain everything a DM (especially a new DM) needs to run them in his campaign. A number of the entries this round failed to do that. It wasn't just Boomer, although I did pick on him because I felt the disconnect between the quality of his writing, and the "usability" of his creatures more than the others. And for me it was disappointing to see all these awesome creatures, and be left feeling "But how to I actually use this in my campaign?"

In my opinion Boomer could have improved his entry greatly by cutting a bit of the fluff, and adding in some info, even in summary form along the lines of what you just posted, outlining how to actually use these guys in a campaign. Do that, and he probably had my vote.

Boomer, you write great, evocative, stuff that is dripping with flavor. But it feels like you are writing to impress the judges (and the fans) with your writing, and not to provide good material that is EASY for DMs to use. I would love to play in your campaigns, or read some of your writing, but I'm not sure I want to run a module written by you (which is the prize in the contest), simply because I feel like I would have to do a lot of work to actually be able to use it.

I don't want you necessarily to tone down your writing, but to at least give some thought to us poor, unskilled, lacking in time to prepare DMs out there, who are relying on easy to run modules to keep our games going.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Steven T. Helt

thatboomerkid wrote:


If you prefer, I could probably get one of the PSA girls to smooch you on a cheek.

Do you takes checks or plastic?

Cheliax RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Contributor

mevers wrote:


I don't want you necessarily to tone down your writing, but to at least give some thought to us poor, unskilled, lacking in time to prepare DMs out there, who are relying on easy to run modules to keep our games going.

Got it - and I sincerely thank everyone here for their feedback.

I am paying attention. Honest.

I hope only to put these lessons to use.

Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
thatboomerkid wrote:
mevers wrote:


I don't want you necessarily to tone down your writing, but to at least give some thought to us poor, unskilled, lacking in time to prepare DMs out there, who are relying on easy to run modules to keep our games going.

Got it - and I sincerely thank everyone here for their feedback.

I am paying attention. Honest.

I hope only to put these lessons to use.

Dude, keep writing this stuff. I suspect that in a standard format without a word count, your writing would be awesome, and that it's largely the limitations of the format that are killing you.

Andoran Star Voter 2014

Awesome. I like the way you roll. Creamy Lovecraftiness.

Suggestion: maybe more explanation of how the little guys ride their mounts. Maybe they get the benefits of some of the mounted combat feats.

So you're into designing RPGs and films. What about straight-up fiction? Your prose is powerful and fun to read.

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Well...

First of all, don't listen to anyone who tells you to tone it down. Your ability to remain at 11 is your strength, don't give it up.

But.

Do modulate for effect. "boom boom BOOM" is more effective than "BOOM BOOM BOOM". See a lot of movie trailers for examples, it's a common device in a lot of the better ones. And comedic timing. Same thing could apply here.

Those ideas seem contradictory, but they aren't, and if you combine the two, you're in the top of pretty much any writing field.

Anyway, I love this stuff, all of it. While I was reading it, the tune to "Baba Yaga's Hut" from Pictures At An Exhibition kept going through my head as I imagined the corpse mansions walking around.

Great naming. Well done, sir.

If players don't panic facing these, they aren't paying attention.

That said, it's time to tighten it up. There's definitely a better entry this round, and she's just getting tougher as the rounds progress.

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