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RPG Superstar 2015

Christine Schneider

Round 1: Arcane Anvil
Round 2: Theocracy of Carnamach
Round 3: Arthelia "Lady of Legends Undone"
Round 4: Mind the Machine

Mind the Machine


Round 4 - Top 8: Design three thematically linked monsters

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Dark Archive RPG Superstar, Contributor aka Leandra Christine Schneider

MIND THE MACHINE

“How I, then a young girl, came to think of, and to dilate upon, so very hideous an idea?”

-Mary Shelly

Presented Monsters:

Complexity Golem (CR 15)
A universal equation so intricate and complex, it gained an otherworldly sentience of its own.

Dungeon Core (CR 8)
Located at the centre of a dungeon complex, this amalgam of brain, spine and chain causes the very structure it inhabits to come to life and fight any intruders.

Dream Distilled Creature Template (CR +1)
Drawn from the world of dreams by an ingenious alchemical process, these distorted reflections of creatures or individuals become terrifying foes or precious allies.

Thematic Link:
The most dreadful creatures are those we create ourselves. Their bodies crafted in the image of our most sinister thoughts, they inspire fear because they are a part of us instead of being created by nature, chance or some greater evil.
The three creatures presented here are linked by being literally born from the minds of their makers – a thought, a dream and even brain and personality itself replace ordinary steel, stone or clay in the creation of these alien and soulless monsters.
Furthermore, these creatures have several mechanical features in common. They are of the “Construct” type and can be used by players and DMs alike. The “Construction” paragraph in their description details how they can be created by a character with the “Craft Construct” feat and the “Dream Distilled Creature Template” features a level adjustment.
Although all three monsters can be used in the same adventure, they do not depend on each other and function separately if they need to.

COMPLEXITY GOLEM

(Complexity Golems are usually invisible. See the “Incomprehensible” ability for details.)
The creature appears large and heavy, drifting swiftly and silently towards you. Faintly humanoid in shape it is composed of impossible angles, sharp-edged spheres and mono-dimensional planes in all colours and none. Its perfect existence disproves reality where it touches it, yet you seem to witness a flaw in its mind breaking supremacy.

A complexity golem is a cosmic equation designed to come to life. Created by the incredibly intelligent minds of accomplished wizards or psions, these creatures undertake every action their masters command in a logical and systematic way. While able to follow even most difficult commands, a complexity golem is alien to this world and its basic laws. Unable to grasp the meaning of emotion, life and linear time they seem to be mindless and disembodied automatons to us.

Complexity Golem CR 15
Always N Large Construct (Incorporeal)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Listen +0, Spot +0

Defense
AC 14, touch 14, flat-footed 12
(+3 deflection, +2 Dex, -1 size)
hp 129 (18d10+30)
Fort +6, Ref +8, Will +6
Defensive Abilities incomprehensible
DR 5/-; Immune immunity to magic, immunity to psionics

Offense
Spd fly 30 ft. (perfect)
Melee 2 incorporeal touches +15/+15 (disprove existence)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks disprove existence

Tactics
Before Combat Usually a complexity golem is instructed to follow its opponents prior to confrontation in an attempt to analyze their strategy.
During Combat A complexity golem is able to fight tactically. It flanks, disarms and sunders when it is appropriate.
Morale If ordered to, these creatures fight until they are destroyed.

Statistics
Str -, Dex 15, Con -, Int -, Wis 11, Cha 16
Base Atk +13; Grp -
Feats -
Skills -
Languages Common
SQ construct traits, incorporeal traits

Special Abilities

Disprove Existence (Su) The attacks of a complexity golem disprove the fundamental laws that allow their opponents to exist. A creature hit by a complexity golem’s touch is affected by a disintegrate spell (CL 15, DC 19). The save DC is Charisma based. This ability has no effect when used against a complexity golem.

Immunity to Magic (Ex) A complexity golem is immune to any spell or spell-like ability that allows spell resistance. In addition, certain spells and effects function differently against the creature, as noted below.
A disintegrate spell heals 1 point of damage for every 3 points of damage it would otherwise deal. If the amount of healing would cause the golem to exceed its full normal hit points, it gains any excess as temporary hit points that fade away after 1 minute.
A feeblemind spell cast at a complexity golem applies a -6 penalty to its Charisma score and negates the golem’s invisibility. Both effects last 1d6 rounds.
The golem gets no saving throw against any of these effects and they never miss because of its incorporeality.

Immunity to Psionics (Ex) Complexity golems are immune to effects that are subject to power resistance. In addition, certain powers function differently against the creature, as noted below.
A psionic disintegrate power heals 1 point of damage for every 3 points of damage it would otherwise deal. If the amount of healing would cause the golem to exceed its full normal hit points, it gains any excess as temporary hit points that fade away after 1 minute.
An insanity power manifested against a complexity golem causes the golem to act as if confused for 1d6 rounds.
The golem gets no saving throw against any of these effects and they never miss because of its incorporeality.

Incomprehensible (Ex) A complexity golem’s structure is ungraspable by all but the most extraordinary minds. As a result the creature is invisible. This ability is constant, allowing a complexity golem to remain invisible even when attacking. It is inherent and not subject to the invisibility purge spell.
A creature with an Intelligence score of 20 or greater can see the golem despite this ability. In addition it can choose to make Will instead of Fortitude saves against the golem’s disprove existence ability.

Ecology
Environment Any
Organization Solitary or gang (2-4)
Treasure None
Alignment Always neutral
Advancement 19-26 HD (Large), 27-34 HD (Huge)
Level Adjustment -

ECOLOGY
Constructed with the creator’s mental image deeply ingrained in its existence, a complexity golem is mostly loyal to its master. Despite the fact that it is dangerous to control an entity so alien to the most basic principles of the human way of life, many spellcasters covet the prestige of commanding a living prove of their own intelligence.
Driven by logic alone, a complexity golem will commit even the worst atrocities against nature to complete its mission. Some gods have come to consider the construction of this creature to be an anathema to their own creation and therefore a cosmic crime.
CONSTRUCTION
A complexity golem has no body that needs to be created. It is an invented principle drawn to the world of the living by magic and thought alone. Creating an equation that complex is a herculean effort, since many of its variables are hidden in obscure bits of knowledge. The creator needs to uncover an uncountable number of these secrets to complete his equation.
History books, religious scrolls, dungeon maps and other seemingly unrelated texts containing the necessary information have to be obtained. This requires three separate Knowledge (any three) checks DC 30 as well as the expense of 10,000 gp.
CL 17th; Craft Construct, disintegrate, limited wish, caster must be at least 17th level and have an Intelligence score of at least 25; Price 170,000 gp; Cost 90,000 gp + 7200 XP or
ML 17th; Craft Psionic Construct, psionic disintegrate, bend reality, manifester must be at least 17th level and have an Intelligence score of at least 25; Price 170,000 gp; Cost 90,000 gp + 7200 XP.

ADVANCED COMPLEXITY GOLEM
A complexity golem of huge size can only be seen by someone with an Intelligence score of at least 24 (see the “Incomprehensible” ability). In addition, its “Disprove Existence” ability acts as a maximized disintegrate spell with a caster level of 19.

USE IT TONIGHT

Spoiler:
  • Slaying a complexity golem sometimes causes the knowledge it was created from to be imprinted on its vanquisher. You might want to simulate this by showering a victorious player with several handouts, ranging from "meaningless" to "next adventure hook".
  • Lacking the intelligence to craft a complexity golem himself, a magician has created an expensive dream distilled copy. Unfortunately, the first weakly worded commands allowed it to break free of its feeble master.

DUNGEON CORE

A massive pillar of rusty steel, cogs and moving iron chains dominates the room. Oil seeps from several cracks like black blood pouring out of a wound. Its stench fills the air and mingles with the smell of raw meat. At the centre of the pillar, greyish coils of flesh form a bloated, pulsating brain and its twitching spine. As it witnesses your presence, the movement of cogs and chains accelerates while angry sparks rain down like orange waterfalls.
The almost human scream of metal grinding against metal echoes through the hall.

A dungeon core is the heart of a gigantic creature that controls a whole building. It is rooted to a structure, bound to its creator, and to a degree it is part of both. Charged with the protection and defence of a dungeon or other stationary building, it commands a deadly assortment of spells as well as the ability to control doors, traps and all other mechanical features of its home.
The core itself is a massive pillar of steel interlinked with a dazzling amount of moving chains and gears that disappear into nearby walls. Like a spider in its web, a humanoid brain with attached spine resides at its heart.

Dungeon Core CR 8
Usually N Large Construct
Init -5; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Listen +17, Spot +17

Defense
AC 8, touch 4, flat-footed 8
(-5 Dex, +4 natural, -1 size)
hp 85 (10d10+30); fast healing 1
Fort +3, Ref -2, Will +5
Defensive Abilities foil teleport; DR 10/adamantine

Offense
Spd -
Melee slam +1 (1d6-5)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 10th):
At will—detect magic, quickened message
1/day--alarm, dispel magic, hold portal, illusory wall (DC 17), minor image (DC 15), obscure object (DC 15), see invisibility, silence (DC 15), stone shape
1/week--animate objects, telekinesis (DC 18), wall of stone (DC 18)

Tactics
Before Combat As soon as it is aware of intruders within its area of control, it alerts allies with its message ability and proceeds to close and lock strategically placed doors to guide the trespassers towards traps and easily defendable positions.
If its enemies prove to be serious threats, the dungeon core starts to use its limited spell-like abilities to hinder them or to enhance its allies in combat. If it is in no immediate danger, it always uses its foil teleport ability.
During Combat The dungeon core tires to hold opponents at bay with any spell-like abilities it still has as well as desperately calling for help with its message ability.
Morale A dungeon core can’t flee battle, but it tries to parley if left without other options.

Statistics
Str 1, Dex 1, Con -, Int 17, Wis 14, Cha 16
Base Atk +7; Grp +6
Feats Alertness, Negotiator, Quicken Spell-Like Ability (message)
Skills Concentration +13, Diplomacy +5, Knowledge (arcana) +10, Knowledge (religion) +9, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +16, Listen +17, Sense Motive +4, Spot +17
Languages Common, Giant, Goblin, Terran; telepathy (see bound to creator)
SQ bound to creator, construct traits, control area

Special Abilities

Bound to Creator (Ex) A dungeon core is permanently bound to its creator. They can communicate telepathically at any distance as long as they are on the same plane and while he is within the dungeon core’s area of control, he can’t be flanked or flat-footed.
If a dungeon core is destroyed, its creator takes 2d6 points of Intelligence damage.

Control Area (Ex) The area within 300 ft. of the dungeon core’s position is treated as its controlled area and the dungeon core has several abilities within it. It can see and hear (make Spot and Listen checks) from any manufactured wall within the area. As a move action, it can open, close, lock or unlock any door, activate or deactivate any trap or any other similar mechanical feature in the area. In addition, any spell-like ability it activates may origin from any wall in the area instead of originating from the core itself (touch spells can affect anything that touches a wall).
A character with the trapfinding class feature can make a Search check (DC 10 + 1 per HD of the dungeon core) to detect the presence of a dungeon core and a Disable Device check (DC 20 + 1 per HD of the dungeon core) removes a 5ft. square from the dungeon core’s area of control for 1 hour.
A dungeon core is permanently rooted to the spot where it was created and can’t be moved from the position it occupies. It automatically resists all trip, bull rush or other attempts to move it.

Foil Teleport (Su) A dungeon core can counter any spell with the teleportation descriptor, if the spell teleports anything into a space within the core’s area of control. The spell has no effect and the dungeon core takes 1d6 points of damage per level of the countered spell. This ability activates automatically without requiring an action.

Ecology
Environment Underground
Organization Solitary
Treasure Standard
Alignment Same as creator (Usually neutral)
Advancement 9-12 HD (Large), 13-16 HD (Huge)
Level Adjustment -

ECOLOGY
Nearly helpless when faced in battle, a dungeon core is terrified of anything that could penetrate its defences. This paranoia causes it to overreact easily and more than one wizard has lost precious dungeon dwellers to blade and poison of suddenly activating traps.
In addition to this inborn fear, a dungeon core is a fiercely territorial creature. While it does not demand to be the most powerful creature within its realm, it expects a certain respect and acknowledgement for the protection it grants. Anyone ignoring this request, except its creator, will be either hindered or even attacked as soon as the core witnesses a chance.
Aside from these habits, the personality of the core resembles that of its creator to an unsettling degree and some dungeon cores even have faint memories from a time before their creation.

CONSTRUCTION
Creating a dungeon core is a two-step process. Installing the mechanical features and enhancing the structure the core is going to inhabit costs 1000 gp per HD of the dungeon core and requires a Craft (trapmaking) check (DC 10 + the dungeon core’s HD). The process requires one week per HD, during which the creator must be able to work within the area the dungeon core is going to control.
After completing this work, the creator must suffer through an hour-long and excruciatingly painful process. After swallowing a mixture of alchemical compounds, he grows a second brain and spine. Both have to be cut from the body to be installed as the new formed sentience of the creature (the required cure serious wounds spell takes care of the wound this process inflicts).
CL 12th; Craft Construct, animate objects, cure serious wounds, imbue with spell ability caster must be at least 12th level; Price 40,000 gp; Cost 25,000 gp + 2000 XP

ADVANCED DUNGEON CORE
A dungeon core’s “control area” ability increases in size as it gains HD. Add 30 ft. to the radius of the controlled area for every HD the creature gains. If the dungeon core advances to huge size, its 1/day spell-like abilities become usable at will and its 1/week abilities usable 1/day (CL equal to HD).

USE IT TONIGHT

Spoiler:
  • Two dungeon cores have been created with their areas of control nearly touching. Both constructs are keen on destroying the other and they use everything their respective dungeons have to offer. This includes any PC stumbling into this game of “Kill the Core”.
  • Recently awoken to a psychic consciousness, this ancient dungeon core gained the “phrenic creature” template. It locked its dungeon down and has started to repay its inhabitants for their disrespectfulness. Being imprisoned inside a dungeon waging war on itself, the PCs can take sides or exploit the situation.

DREAM DISTILLED CREATURE

A dream distilled creature is the mercury-extracted essence of an entity from the dreams of a sleeping person. Through the hands of a gifted alchemist, dragons, devils, deceased friends or even the dreamer itself can be plucked from the hazy dream world and sculpted into a creature of near lifelike resemblance.
The resulting construct has roughly the same habits, abilities and sometimes even memories of the original creature as well as mysterious dream powers, but in direct comparison it always seems flawed and lifeless.

CREATING A DREAM DISTILLED CREATURE

“Dream Distilled” is an inherited template that can be added to any creature (referred to hereafter as the base creature).
A dream distilled creature uses all the base creature’s statistics and special abilities except as noted here.

Size and Type: A dream distilled creature’s type changes to construct and it gains the augmented subtype paired with the creature’s original type if appropriate. Do not recalculate base attack bonus, HD, saves or skill points. Size is unchanged.

Abilities: Str -2, Dex -2, Int -2, Wis -2, Cha -2. Abilities are not reduced below 3. Ignore the adjustment if it would lower the base creature’s ability further. A dream distilled creature has no Constitution score, adjust its hit points accordingly and add bonus hit points based on the creature’s size.

Special Qualities: A dream distilled creature gains the damage reduction and living dream special qualities as well as additional special qualities as listed below.

Damage reduction (Su)
2/adamantine (if 9 HD or less) or 5/adamantine (if 10 HD or more).

Living Dream (Ex)
Formed out of a dream, certain spells affect a dream distilled creature differently. A sleep spell repairs 1d12 points of damage, a deep slumber spell repairs 3d12 points of damage, a dream spell repairs 5d12 points of damage and a nightmare spell deals 5d12 points of damage. Additionally, a dream distilled creature regains 1 hit point per HD, if it remains motionless and in contact with an intelligent sleeping creature for 8 hours.

Dream Distilled: A dream distilled creature gains one of the special qualities listed below if it has 9 HD or less or two special abilities if it has 10 HD or more. Despite their names, the choice of special abilities is not restricted by the exact dream the creature is created from, since every dream contains traces of the abilities presented.

Dream Haze(Su) Surrounded by a hazy dream shroud, any creature ending its turn in a space adjacent to the creature, is dealt 1d4 points of nonlethal damage per 2 HD of the dream distilled creature (at least 1d4). If more than one creature with this ability is adjacent, only the creature with the most HD deals damage. A dream distilled creature may activate or deactivate this ability as a free action.

Fever Dream (Su) Distorted and smouldering, this creature warps the ground it threads upon. If it uses a move action to move, the spaces the creature occupied the end of the last round is treated as impassable terrain that doesn’t block lines of effect for 1 round. A dream distilled creature is never hindered by this ability and may activate or deactivate it as a free action.

Nightmare Born (Su)
Creatures fighting a nightmare born monster are either locked in battle or inclined to keep their distance. Any opponent starting its turn adjacent to the dream distilled creature can’t take a 5ft. step this round. This is a mind-affecting fear effect.
Additionally, the dream distilled creature is immune to the nightmare spell.

Recurring Dream (Su) Instead of being destroyed, these creatures can recreate themselves from the minds of their friends. Once per day, instead of being reduced to 0 HP or below by a damage dealing effect, the creature can make a Will save (DC = damage dealt). If successful, the dream distilled creature instantly teleports to a space adjacent to an ally within 30ft. (as the dimension door spell) and remains at 1 HP, leaving only a silver cloud of mercury behind.
If no ally is present, this ability has no effect.

Wishful Dream (Su)
Radiating pure hope, the presence of the dream distilled creature inspires its allies to fight valiantly. At the start of a combat encounter, any ally adjacent to the dream distilled creature gains 2 temporary hit points per HD of the dream distilled creature. This is a mind-affecting effect. The temporary hit points fade away at the end of the encounter and never stack with those granted by the wishful dream ability of other dream distilled creatures.

CR: +1
Organization: Solitary or same as base creature.
Alignment: Any (usually same as base creature)
Level Adjustment: +2

SAMPLE DREAM DISTILLED CREATURE

Spoiler:

The small humanoid has the nose of a bat, chipped and pointed ears and almost glowing yellow eyes. The odour of faeces and untreated furs surrounds it, forming a visible cloud of vapour that dulls your senses. There seems to be more to these fumes than a disgusting reek and your skin grows numb as you prepare to defend yourself against the blows of the beast’s rusty morningstar.

Dream Distilled Goblin CR 1
Usually NE Small Construct (Augmented Humanoid, Goblinoid)
Init +0; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Listen +1, Spot +1
Aura dream haze 5 ft.

Defense
AC 14, touch 11, flat-footed 14
(+1 size, +2 leather armor, +1 light shield)
hp 14 (1d8+10)
Fort +2, Ref +0, Will -2
DR 2/adamantine

Offense
Spd 30 ft.
Melee morningstar +1 (1d6-1)
Ranged javelin +2 (1d4-1)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.

Tactics
During Combat A dream distilled goblin starts combat by throwing its javelin. It hopes that his opponents will close to melee and become victims of his dream haze.
Morale A dream distilled goblin flees combat if reduced to 5 HP or less.

Statistics
Str 9, Dex 11, Con -, Int 8, Wis 7, Cha 4
Base Atk +1; Grp -4
Feats Alertness
Skills Hide +4, Listen +1, Move Silently +4, Ride +3, Spot +1
Languages Common, Goblin
SQ Construct traits, living dream
Other Gear leather armor, light shield, small javelin, small morningstar
Special Abilities

Dream Haze (Su) Surrounded by a hazy dream shroud, any creature ending its turn in a space adjacent to the goblin, is dealt 1d4 points of nonlethal damage. If more than one creature with this ability is adjacent, only the creature with the most HD deals damage. A dream distilled creature may activate or deactivate this ability as a free action.

Living Dream (Su) Formed out of a dream, certain spells affect a dream distilled goblin differently. A sleep spell repairs 1d12 points of damage, a deep slumber spell repairs 3d12 points of damage, a dream spell repairs 5d12 points of damage and a nightmare spell deals 5d12 points of damage. Additionally, a dream distilled goblin regains 1 hit point, if it remains motionless and in contact with an intelligent sleeping creature for 8 hours.

Ecology
Environment Temperate plains
Organization Solitary
Treasure Standard
Alignment Usually neutral evil
Advancement By character class; Favored Class Rogue
Level Adjustment +2

ECOLOGY
Bound by a magical pact, a dream distilled creature is forced to obey its alchemist despite having a mind and conscience of its own. Some creators try to enforce a strict system of commands and rules to keep the often differently aligned creature under control, while others are more lenient, hoping to achieve a sense of trust or even companionship.
However this relation plays out, a dream distilled creature becomes free-willed at the time its creator dies and occasionally this process is accelerated by the construct itself. Once free, they often try to live the life of the creature they resemble. Shunted because of their strange abilities and flaws, or envious of the life others live, many dream distilled creatures either become loners, outcasts or sometimes even murderers in an attempt to find their place.

CONSTRUCTION
The body of a dream distilled creature is composed of dream altered mercury. To craft it, a sleeping creature with the ability to dream must rest in an alchemical apparatus. Mercury worth 1000 gp per HD of the constructed creature is distilled through the dreamer’s body, a drop at a time. The process requires a Craft (alchemy) check DC 10 + 1 per HD of the created construct.
To successfully create a dream distilled creature, the alchemist must have a caster level, at least equal to the creatures CR. The dreamer must have at least as many HD as the created creature and has to succeed on a Knowledge check as if he were to identify the creature created (see the Knowledge skill for the rules on how to identify a creature).
The alchemist counts as the creator of the creature and has to pay all costs involved. However, dreamer and alchemist can be the same person.
CL equal to CR; Craft Construct, animate objects; Price: CR of the creature, squared and multiplied by 1000 gp; Cost: see the Craft Construct feat.

USE IT TONIGHT

Spoiler:
  • If you prefer a game without resurrection abilities, or if a slain hero (or villain) is unable to return from the dead for any reason, a dream distilled doppelganger might be a way to bring a very similar character back to play.
  • An opponent of the heroes has managed to distil them from his nightmares. He now delights in using them for his evil schemes. For one session, the players take the role of the dream distilled servants, trying to pervert the commands of their enemy and to defeat him in an attempt to win their freedom.

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

Your design style reminds me of David "Zeb" Cook in the Planescape days: willing to entertain wild ideas and try to make them concrete. That's a great way to make a superstar impression. It's risky, in a good way.

Complexity Golem
The initial premise strikes me as very much in keeping the Planescape tradition of pushing "philosophy with clubs". And it's so ambitious! An equation come to life: very cool, tell me more!

Almost immediately, though, I see problems in the presentation. It's cludgy to say "Presented Monsters": Why not just list them? Ok, that's nitpicking. But it's even cludgier to present a physical description of a monster that's usually invisible. So I'm not exactly hooked to start.

Then we get to the abilities. Incorporeal is fine, but a touch disintegrate attack? Even at CR 15, that's pretty harsh. Or is it not a touch attack? It's actually hard for me to tell for sure from the text, and that's a problem.

Immune to magic and psionics makes two further party members likely to be useless against this creature. Flavorwise I'm 100% with you, and mechanically I hate it. So far, I'm the only design choice I like in the Construction section, which is inspiring. But it's a little late. Maybe the next one is better.

Dungeon Core
The flavor is good on this as well, the oil-slicked machine of malevolence aspect. And I like some of the mechanical choices, if you'll forgive the pun. The self-healing machine is good, and foil teleport is a very interesting ability that will likely see imitation in other venues.

AC 8 and just 85 hit points strikes me as quite vulnerable for CR 8. DR 10/adamantine helps, but I'm not sure playtest would show this is quite right. It depends utterly on allies, but the write-up doesn't say much about those allies, other than that they are dungeon denizens.

Again, the construction section is top notch. The second spine is ick-tastic stuff. For the adventure seed, WHY would anyone create two cores with their areas of control touching?

Given that I love the flavor and inventiveness of the first two, I really want to tinker with the mechanical issues. Something to watch out for, I think. Monsters need to work as foes for a CR, as well as work in story terms. I'm not 100% convinced of the design choices here.

Dream Distilled Template
This is the one that works best for me, because it puts such a great spin on the old idea of the doppleganger or the clone. The dream haze mechanic works pretty well for me, and the class of distilled dream creatures is something I can really imagine building a campaign plot arc around. Really nice work on something that could so easily, in lesser hands, have fallen apart into cliche.

Rating: 2/3

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

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

I loved your upfront quote. In a contest that has seen an escalation of out of control upfront quotes, you hit the right note with yours. It was beautiful, actually. I read it and said, “oh man, I can’t wait to see what she is going to do with this.” And you didn’t disappoint. You continue doing the things you do well—good writing and big ideas. You have an incredible amount of talent. I’m not sure the thematic link is tight enough, though. I also have to agree with Wolfgang about the clunky presentation headings. But those are nit-picky items compared to the quality of your submission. The only knock on your entry, perhaps, is that the monsters are not the most playable.

Monsters (proper format, good build, abilities and tactics, quality of mechanics, interesting new mechanics): A
You know, I really liked the idea of the “Use It Tonite” spoiler info, but frankly the ideas you put there weren’t that great. Which surprised me.

Golem: A
Christine, I have to admit I felt like I was listening to Rush when reading your Complexity Golem entry and that isn’t generally meant as a compliment. Rock is supposed to be rebellion and energy, not simply talent and math. But luckily for you, your entry was like a great Rush song that really rocks despite being mathematically precise and sung by a guy with a girly voice. I don’t know how you did it, but you took math and made it cool. Just like a good Rush song your monster is a cosmic equation come to life. I love the ability names (disprove existence and incomprehensible). But shouldn’t disprove existence be WIS or INT? I’d be interested to see your design decision there.

Dungeon: A
Creepy. But is it really only Large? How do you come up with this stuff? You have the cool ideas that are almost as funky as Boomers, but your presentation is so much more mainstream and approachable. He needs to read your stuff. Back to the monster, I like the control area and foil teleport abilities. Nicely done. Oh man that creation process is icky. I love it.

Template: A+
My favorite one out of three very good ones. Great work. I love the sleep healing power.

Tilt (did it grab me, is it unique and cool, do I like it, flavor): A
Very nice. I think the across the board A’s speak for themselves. I liked it.

Overall: A
Big idea with great writing and no noticeable flaws—yep, it’s another entry by Christine.

Christine, you are quickly developing yourself as a major talent. You are working very hard on the language issue and you are doing an amazing job. You could well win this thing. Keep it up!

Strongly RECOMMENDED FOR TOP 6

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

Your English is clearly improving, and as the judge who has harped on this the most since the very first round I thank you for your dedication to this aspect of the craft. It is very much appreciated (and necessary to your continued advancement). I don't think most readers would know that English is a second language for you based on this submission, so whatever you've been doing, it's working (although the language does get a little rough again in the dream distilled creature template near the end).

That said, I think you could have set up your entry in a much more compelling way. The Mary Shelly quote is ok, but the generic list of the monsters followed by the very matter-of-fact description of the thematic link left me cold. You're also putting quotation marks around a lot of things that don't need them, such as "Construct" and "Craft Construct" and "Distilled Dream Template". Also, the latter does not need to be capitalized.

So while the English is coming along, there is still some distance to tread on matters of style. Pay very close attention to how rules concepts are delivered in existing product and try to emulate that as closely as possible. This part of the job isn't any fun, but the ability to turn over material that is publishable with very light editing is the silver bullet in every true RPG Superstar's pistol.

I am not overly impressed by the complexity golem. The flavor is interesting, but basically it's an invisible pile of hit points with two disintegrate touches per round. I honestly see this creature as more a source of frustration in the encounter than fun, and I can't imagine including it in one of my campaigns. That said, the first hook in the "Use it Tonight" section was quite interesting.

I don't strongly dislike the monster, but I think it could have used a little more oomph. It's ok, but all of the emphasis is on atmospherics and there aren't enough interesting mechanics. The tactics section gives this away, since all you basically say is "the monster attacks."

The dungeon core gets off to a much better start, with one of the most compelling physical descriptions thus far in the round. Like the complexity golem, though, you're under-delivering in the combat tactics and abilities. I think opening and locking doors throughout a dungeon, leading the PCs toward traps, and stuff is going to be cool throughout an adventure, but by the time the PCs finally fight their way to the dungeon core I think they're going to be awfully disappointed by a fight that doesn't provide much interest in the way of tactics and abilities. Sure, the core can use message to call other monsters to defend it, but that doesn't really speak well for its own value as a monster. So, weirdly, we have a monster here who is more fun in play before you meet it and fairly underwhelming when it comes to the final battle. I'm unconvinced that that is good game design, and I'm fairly confident it does not rise to the level we're looking for in an RPG Superstar.

On its face I really like the dream distilled creature template. The idea is great, and the use of alchemy and mercury gives it a nice flavor edge that makes it more interesting than other dream creatures I've seen (or published). The fever dream power is quite evocative, and would make for interesting escapes.

Construct traits are a nice, beefy bonus, but the various dream powers (while evocative) are all rather insignificant in game terms. Given that you lose TEN stat points when you take this template I am unconvinced that you get enough bang for your buck to account for the +1 CR bump. The DR is nice but rather small. I need to think on this a bit, but my sense is that the monster would have been cooler with a +2 or +3 CR bump, more than one dream power, and slightly beefier dream powers, at that. The monster is almost too subtle, in my estimation.

Overall, I think your real strength as a writer is in the concepts, but you need to work a bit more on the mechanical side of things to create really memorable monsters that have a real impact on the encounters that feature them. Of these three, I think only the dream distilled creature template does that effectively, and even there I have some mechanical concerns.

I have really enjoyed all of your submissions thus far, and feel that this one is a bit of a step backward for me. However, you have a strong body of submissions behind you and I have every confidence that you will be moving on to the next round.

MY RATING: 1 of 3.

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

I like the ideas here, and they are pretty inspirational. The BBEG in my campaign is an insane derro artificer/spellthief, and his lair for the final confrontation is based roughly on the 7 deadly sins, and I've been looking for something for Sloth, and your dream stuff might fit the bill.
I'm kind of scared of an incorporeal immune to magic disintigrator. Seens REALLY hard (and kind of annoying) to fight. But really, REALLY cool, flavor-wise.
I was a bit disappointed with the Dungeon Core. Ehh.
The dream template thing is a really neat concept, but it seems pretty weak. Needs a little more oomph.

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 - Yes.

2/3

Comments - Your writing has improved and it is on the level of the other contestants now (the other entries were noticeably halting). This is an interesting theme and it is well presented, but this is something I would likely find in Warhammer 40k RPG game rather than D&D. Of course this may be a matter of personal taste but it does not ring fantasy with me, which is the D&D core market.

The template was interesting and I think it was a good idea to mix it up in there. 'Immunity to Magic' is never a good idea, period. Immunity to Psionics seems a bit odd, but then again I rarely use them. I think it is one of the better entries here however so I am guessing it will be enough to move on.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

I really like this entry. The only criticism I can find is that Mary Shelley has two Es in her surname, which is a pretty lame criticism.

I've just got to write a new campaign for them; no way will these three slip easily into an average game.


Hmmm. I wonder of Wolfgang was reminded of the Moigno from the AD & D Planes of Law boxed set, with regard to the Complexity Golem? (Though the Moigno was *very easily* disrupted by psionics, and obsessed with pi.)
It can be difficult trying to put something similar that you've seen before out of mind, to fairly review something new.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

After reading this, I came in hoping to be wowed, I just had one comment: WOW!!! Perhaps I'll get to a more indepth comment when I reread it.

Scarab Sages

Christine Schneider wrote:
Dream Haze(Su) Surrounded by a hazy dream shroud, any creature ending its turn in a space adjacent to the creature, is dealt 1d4 points of nonlethal damage per 2 HD of the dream distilled creature (at least 1d4). If more than one creature with this ability is adjacent, only the creature with the most HD deals damage. A dream distilled creature may activate or deactivate this ability as a free action.

That part I bolded? This is exactly the sort of thing that gets totally overlooked, and not just by fans on message boards, but by professionals who should know better, and then we end up with fans on message boards kvetching about how Hive Minds work or how they can create an infinite damage loop using some low CR demons with an ill-conceived ability.

Being a huge fan of the simulacrum spell, the Dream Distilled template is a very cool alternate version.

The evocative test describing the Dungeon Core critter was awesome and a bit creepy, although I'm not 100% sold on the creature itself. I could see a mechanical apparatus, *or* I could see an organic pulsing fluid-slicked construct in a 'dungeon' that has walls of tissue and bone and veins, but both at once just felt odd to me.

As for the 'Concept Golem,' that was just a slice of pure awesome, and as interesting in it's own right as Eberrons 'Living Spell' critters.

Really, really excellent stuff.


I've been a big fan of yours since round 1, and you really delivered this time.

Great monsters all around. The complexity golem took a tired creature type and wowed me. The dungeon core gives me a "living dungeon" monster I actually want to use, and the dream distilled creature is just plain cool. :)

Monsters are my favorite part of the game, and I've worked on several monster books and a web site devoted to monsters for the past few years, and these are among the most interesting I've seen. Nice work!

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

I think it would have been more interesting to have the Complexity Golem not be invisible, but rather, you can only see it out of the corner of your eye. It would still have full concealment, from a mechanical aspect, but you could still play havok with its weird geometries and sharp cornered spheres and what-not. Maybe even require a DC 25 Int check to locate it.

Still one of the strongest entries.


The Complexity Golem is neat, and I could see myself using it. The Dungeon Core is a really good concept (I take very little attention of the detailed stats, so I'm not so concerned about those as some others seem to be), although one I can't really see myself using. The dreamstuff creatures are perhaps the weakest conceptually for me... but I can still see myself using them, so they're certainly good enough. However, I do have some difficulty in seeing how I could use these creatures in a scenario (compare with the Darkblight, where the scenario practically writes itself), which was a bit of a let down.

I was uncertain as to where to put my third vote, but, in the end, it went here. I look forward to seeing more!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka Clandestine

I love this, the name Dungeon Core immediately evoked an image in my mind. After I read all 3 presented monsters, you're definately getting my vote. Very peculiar, interesting ideas and cool concepts. I hope you move forward. :)


Christine, I'm floored. This is top-notch stuff. An editor ought to be able to work with your non-native english skills for the honor of working with material this good. You said "Use it tonight" - I want to, I really do. The dungeon alive, and unhappy that you are there? Killer! A golem NOBODY thought of? Superb (though I would attempt to divide by one on it, an instant kill, I'm sure). The dream-distilled template? Awesome move! Tactical! Here, not one monster, but many! Thank you, Christine, I've only read two and you've got my vote.

Erik: I respect the work you do; it's not easy, but you want this one on your team, she's worth it!

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

I really like the concepts here and love the names (disprove reality? That rocks! Does it work on objects as well as creatures?).

I do have some of the same mechanical reservations about the golem that Wolfgang mentioned--Is the super-invisibility too good? Is the disintegrate by touch 2/round too good? (at CL 15 that's 30d6 untyped damage, Fort save for 5d6 as a TOUCH attack - OUCH! - and with the Huge version of the golem it's MAXIMIZED - super OUCH - that's effectively 2 9th level spells per round (okay, maybe 8th since it's touch instead of a ray)). The only characters with high enough INT to see it won't be able to hurt it (immune to magic).

I also wonder, should the Dungeon Core be more able to physically attack? Maybe directly with its chains and cables or with an ability like a chain devil's. Or, maybe make its animate object ability something it can use more often, or give it animate rope at will (or an equivalent ability that works with its chains).

Of course, if the dungeon is already stocked with plenty of traps and minions for it to use, maybe it doesn't matter. Sometimes a brain in a jar is just a brain in a jar. Once you get past the minions, you smash the jar and smush the brain; the challenge is IN the minions, and once you get to the core (literally in this case) it's game over.

Anyway, that's all just nits and picks. Yours is the first one I've given a close read (just got off work a little while ago) and it's great stuff as usual from you. You continue to show a great handle on taking unusual or far-out ideas and making them feel tangible and usable and very cool.

Lastly, I really liked the spoiler-hidden "use it tonight" tags and the creature creation rules for each (especially the "Ewwwww gross" method for the Dungeon Core).

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Sheyd

I wasn't certain going by the name what to expect when I clicked on this entry. I thought of the Sheens from the DRAGON articles and had hopes. While they weren't sheens the idea of a 'living' dungeon and a formula that's come to life are very interesting.

I felt the stat blocks were clunky but I'm not one to complain, as a DM I rarely ever manage to build a complete statblock for a monster before I use it.

Overall these are three well linked and designed monsters. Well done!


The originality in this really yanks me in a way that I have not seen in a LONG LONG TIME. On the other hand, even as a near noob to 3.5 I have some worries about the mechanics.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka JoelF847

It's been said already in this thread, but I'll say it again, WOW! Another great, mind-bending job. Now that the pure praise is done, I have to say, I loved the Planescape vibe of the golem and dream born template, and the dungeon core can be used in any campaign with ease for a nice unique dungeon. The dungeon core is such a great concept, that I imagine that there will be tons of variants used as well, with slightly different sets of powers, tied to the theme of a particular dungeon complex.

After reading through your entry, I can definately say that you've had nothing but thrilling to read, entertaining entires, and I'm glad I'm not competing with you anymore, since I would vote for you over me! I'm hoping to see you in the finals!


While I suspect I'll rewrite all or nearly all of the mechanics, the core ideas here are really, really neat and NOT things I have seen elsewhere, or thought up myself. And that counts for a lot.


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

Thematically related – definitely, I like the "we create them ourselves" tagline.

I was initially dubious about the complexity golem and thought it’d be gimmicky, but it actually kinda makes sense, but is a little tough (incorporeal invisible disintegrate touches!) for CR15. I like the "shower its slayer with a bunch of miscellaneous handouts" trick. In fact it’s neat enough I’ll overlook the psionics! This one is really bad ass.

Dungeon Core. Makes sense in a number of situations. What, no guards and wards? This fills a definite missing niche – dungeon intelligence – that is usually addressed by "handwavey magic" in scenarios. Having an actual statted creature behind it that the PCs can destroy or deal with is wonderful.

Dream distilled creature. Pretty cool too!

These are definitely way innovative! Props! A little concern about the golem toughness, but these definitely have the perfect mix of "Boy, I haven’t seen *this* before!" and "I could actually use these!" I give it a solid A-.

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Rather than nit-pick, for this round, I'll try to focus on what decided me on an entry.

- I don't find the theme very well focused or developed. Right from the Mary Shelley quote, the idea seems quite broad and vague and doesn't shape the individual monsters very strongly.

- It's appropriate that the complexity golem is affected by feeblemind and insanity. I'm not convinced by the specific effects, though.

I very much like the Incomprehensibility power and the minimum Intelligence to defeat it. Does this also override use of see invisible, true seeing and equivalent modes of perception? I think it should.

The creation process is a good idea but I think it needs to go further. The texts mentioned are too logical - to me, it needs a stronger dose of surrealism: cook's shopping lists, pages of randomly generated numbers, treatises on card games, pictures of whales and parrots. Likewise, the adventure hook with knowledge imprinting on people present when the creature is destroyed could be a lot more strange than it is.

It's highly appropriate that either a wizard or psion could create one. I like the intelligence restriction too.

- Mostly the dungeon core description is visually effective, but there are some lapses. In particular the spider simile is tired and inaccurate.

Good details for trapfinding. The creation process is exceptional.

- The dream-distilled creature starts with the handicap that I know of several very similar creatures in Bruce Cordell's work.

I like the handling of spells for the dream-distilled, not so much its adamantine damage reduction. The variant dream abilities are a very nice selection.

I'm not convinced there's a reason a dream-distilled creature should be free-willed and intelligent except to make the adventure hooks work. Having said that, they're very good adventure hooks.

I really like the creation process for this one also.

--

I was disappointed by this entry. It's unquestionably publication quality but I don't know that it's winning quality. I'll see how it compares to the others.


Christine you have a definite flair for developing interesting ideas without going to gonzo (as Clark would say). I don't know if I could ever use the golem as I don't know if my PCs will get to a level where they could challenge the thing before my campaign ends. The dungeon core is an interesting creature though. It reminds me of Antrax from the Terry Brooks novel of the same name. The dream distilled template is one I could make use of later on in my campaign, and has a nice ring to it.

I've enjoyed your last few entries, but I'd have to put this in my second tier behind Darkblight and Bleak Midwinter as it's just not as usable for me. So now I have to decide between this one and my other second tier entries for my final vote.

Liberty's Edge

The dream distilled template is really cool. I agree with the David 'Zeb' Cook thing Wolfgang Baur said. I like these a lot.


Christine, I think you might have presented the best writing this round. It's clear, distinct, and succinct when it needs to be.

Concepts are also great and I love the theme.

You've got one vote for certain because I've given a vote for best writing each round (whether Blink dogs or Whirling Djinn). My initial read has this one winning in a runaway.

Dark Archive RPG Superstar, Contributor aka Leandra Christine Schneider

Finally!

There is something distinctively annoying about reading through ones own judges comments and then loosing internet access. Especially if you loose it for a longer period of time :-S

So, thank you for the comments and suggestions made and I am happy that you like these little critters.
I'd love to elaborate on the "Why" of so many design choices (it is much worse than in any other round :P ), but I'll have to wait a little to do that.

Until then, kill your time and your players while voting for these little Frankensteins.
(Did you know that I live only a few hours from the real Castle Frankenstein?...they make a hell of a Halloween party there :-)

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Sollir

I've been watching your stuff throughout the contest and have been very impressed overall! After reading up the short descriptions I accidentally exited out of the webpage the first time I viewed this and really scrambled to find it again quickly because I was so intrigued.

Concepts and flavor as usual are top notch. The Complexity Golem is a little bland in combat, but I really liked the part where you mentioned that they can fight tactically-I can easily imagine the disintegrating touch of theirs used to sunder. I don't really see how they can really disarm if they're incorporeal, but I don't actually know how the rules interact there. One potential tactic if it were intelligent would be to fly under PCs and then use its disintegrate touch to create an impromptu pit trap to start off combat-or perhaps to cave in the ceiling with it. If they were more physical I would easily be frightened if I was grappled by one of them, for sure! Nitpicking a bit but the DC for the Distintegrate seems to be off, it should be 22 (+9 for HD and a +3 Cha mod)

Dungeon Core has great flavor but does seem to be underpowered as well, though this could be easily remedied. It'd be really cool if they could establish a connection with other constructs and give them insight bonuses while in the control area and such. I would hate to be a wizard creator if I lost 2d6 intelligence points-it does make me want to incorporate it in an adventure where you simply go through the dungeon to temporarily weaken the villain you're fighting.

Dream Distilled creatures seem like a lot of fun. I like the plot hook about using dream versions of the PCs, I think my players would get a kick out of that and the 'pseudo-ressurection' idea seems innovative as well. I'd disagree with the judges on the CR increase, it seems appropriate to me at least for low levels because besides the DR 2/adamantine, Construct traits are so powerful and the extra hit points aren't too shabby for your average goblin or kobold either. The abilities do seem a little too weak to be that noticeable and I think Fever Dream would be something really hard to keep track of, especially if you have more than one creature with it.

Overall fantastic, I really enjoyed the advancement sections on all of them-you go far above and beyond what most monster creators do here. I hope to see you in the next round!


LeandraChristine wrote:


(Did you know that I live only a few hours from the real Castle Frankenstein?...they make a hell of a Halloween party there :-)

They THROW a hell of a Halloween party, Christine.

But that's what editors are for.

You've got my vote.


I've been reading and absorbing quietly in the background through this competition and forming opinions on all of the entrants and their sterling work.

I can't keep quiet any longer. Stop the contest now! Aping the words of Clark. RECOMMENDED WINNER!

I'd be very happy if Christine won this compo or got a job or two from interested parties viewing this competition if she failed to do so.

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

This one, like Darkblight, has the (dis?)honour of having all three creatures likable and usable by me.

I was thinking I'm going to have to toss in the complexity golem in the climax of RotRL. Maybe have it 'announce' itself by disintigrating a hiring or cohort.

Then I thought the dungeon core would fit in Seven Swords, if/when I run that.

Then I realized dream distilled fae would fit well in the Bloodsworn Vale.

I try not to engage in hyperbole, or use the slang that is in vogue at the time, but words fail me on this entry.

I've said it before. Christine, I think I'm in love.

Erik, hire this woman. Now!


Great job Christine. Nice to see you advance. Really like the concept but wouldn't want to encounter them with a favorite PC for the first time but nice surprise change up monster for a DM with a party who are familiar with the campaign Monster Manuals. Your entry gets one of my round 4 votes. Good luck in the round 4 polls. Hope you advance to round 5.


Erik Mona wrote:
but by the time the PCs finally fight their way to the dungeon core I think they're going to be awfully disappointed by a fight that doesn't provide much interest in the way of tactics and abilities. Sure, the core can use message to call other monsters to defend it, but that doesn't really speak well for its own value as a monster. So, weirdly, we have a monster here who is more fun in play before you meet it and fairly underwhelming when it comes to the final battle.

Isn't that exactly what makes this monster interesting. You have a lot of "main-monsters" doing nothing all the time and then making boom when you bump into them. The are all fearless fighters fighting till the end. This one (dungeon core) does exactly the opposite. It is brave as long as it is save and then turns out to be a weakling. I like the flavour of an enemy annoying the players all the time and then laying (nearly) helpless in front of the players. For a change it is a great thing! And there is no reason for the dungeon core (for the DM) to be the only "boss-encounter" in its dungeon. You could combine a classic boss-encounter with a dungeon core... What they could do together ;-)

I like the dream distilled creature a lot. It has some very interesting rules.

Wolfgang Baur wrote:
Or is it not a touch attack? It's actually hard for me to tell for sure from the text, and that's a problem.

I think it is pretty obvious ;-)

It says: "Melee 2 incorporeal TOUCHES +15/+15 (disprove existence)", and "A creature hit by a complexity golem’s TOUCH is affected by a disintegrate spell"

The complexity-golem's disintigrate touch attack seems to be very strong, but being CR 15 it seems to me to be ok. Strong but ok. Isn't that they way it is meant to be? ;-)

Some don't like the golem to be immune to magic... No player likes any immunities, i think. But a golem without immunity to magic?

Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

From a creative standpoint, these constructs are first-rate. The Complexity Golem is the legendary stuff of which bards sing and histories lament. It's brilliantly conceived. The Dungeon Core is also imaginative and memorable, and while the Dream Distilled Creature isn't to my tastes, it's still interesting enough to read through more than once.

I readily acknowledge the mechanics issues -- I think the Golem is under-CRed, and the Core over-CRed -- but I'd incorporate both of them right away into an appropriate campaign (albeit with a few tweaks), and that is the ultimate litmus test in my book.

I've liked all of Christine's contributions so far (I've been lurking since early on), but this is just way over the top.


COMPLEXITY GOLEM - love the flavor, hate the mechanics. It's just too darned powerful for that CR and the combination of immunities and incorporeal nature means that the average party may have no way to deal any significant damage to the thing.

DUNGEON CORE - awesome "Metroid" feel to this thing (and by that I mean the original 8-bit game). I can see it being a challenging encounter in person by placing it in a room with some reusable traps that the brain can attempt to juggle the characters into repeatedly. Lava/acid pits + conveyor belt floors, area and line spell effects that can be triggered in sequence, moving partitions that control the flow of the battlefield... lots of possibilities for a very memorable encounter.

I'd also like to add that it makes -perfect- sense for someone to have two (or more) Dungeon Cores in proximity to each other if the actual dungeon is a large enough complex that just using one would leave large portions out of it's effective range.

DREAM DISTILLED - I feel there's a disconnect between the dreamy nature of the template and the various powers that it can impart (well, except for the nightmare one). Very "Sandman"-ish idea but you didn't sell me on it.


My post that was eaten from late last night:

Christine, I think you might have presented the best writing this round. It's clear, distinct, and succinct when it needs to be.

Concepts are also great and I love the theme.

You've got one vote for certain because I've given a vote for best writing each round (whether Blink dogs or Whirling Djinn). My initial read has this one winning in a runaway.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

The second plot hook for the Complexity Golem made me think of the Finite Improbability Drive.

Very nice work here. These are fun monsters.

Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

I really like the complexity golem ... and the same darn thing with a slightly different name and mechanism would be a wonderful construct from the Far Realm. Not that I need Far Realm critters. Nope, move along folks.

I'd probably add some kind of sanity leeching aspect, however, for people that were smart enought to see it and yet dumb enough to keep looking at it once they had seen it.

The dungeon core? Done. I know exactly where that's going in my campaign. And think of this ... an awakened dungeon core with artificer levels. Yee-haw!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I'm somewhat torn reading this entry. First, let me echo Wolfgang: you've got a great Planescape vibe going on there, melding thought and flesh and machine into three creative monster entries. This alone should have been enough to get me to vote for you. Alas, it wasn't. I felt that your Dungeon Core was the strongest of the three submitted monsters. The other two were nice, but it would have been better IMO if you had developed something more strongly tied to the Core. As it is, the link between the three felt somewhat weak.

Your writing is solid, don't doubt that for a second. But the main challenge this round - IMO - was to really stress the thematic link between the three creatures you were supposed to write up. In this, your entry isn't as strong as it could be. Nevertheless, keep up the good work! Even Boomer was struggling this round, or so it appears.


Chris Mortika wrote:

The second plot hook for the Complexity Golem made me think of the Finite Improbability Drive.

Very nice work here. These are fun monsters.

1. Do you mean (In)finite Improbability Drive?

2. Yes! I got that feeling, too, but couldn't think of a name for it! Thank you for putting the words out there.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Chris Mortika wrote:
The second plot hook for the Complexity Golem made me think of the Finite Improbability Drive.
Kevin Olmstead wrote:
Do you mean (In)finite Improbability Drive?

Well, if I recall correctly, they'd started with the FID, but found the far-superior IID to be, itself, too improbable to be invented. So they calculated just how improbable the IID was, and thereby used the FID to generate it, poof.

Scarab Sages

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

I have two questions about the dream distilled creature.

In the Living Dream entry it states the nightmare spell deals 5d12 points of damage, but in the Nightmare Born entry it states the dream distilled creature is immune to the nightmare spell. My questions are this: 1) Do the two entries contradict each other, or does the immunity to the nightmare spell only apply to a nightmare distilled creature? 2) If they are considered opposite poles of the same creature, would sleep and slumber spells damage a nightmare creature while the nightmare spell heals it?

Please let me know (if these questions are allowed to be answered before the polling closes).

Living Dream (Ex)
Formed out of a dream, certain spells affect a dream distilled creature differently. A sleep spell repairs 1d12 points of damage, a deep slumber spell repairs 3d12 points of damage, a dream spell repairs 5d12 points of damage and a nightmare spell deals 5d12 points of damage. Additionally, a dream distilled creature regains 1 hit point per HD, if it remains motionless and in contact with an intelligent sleeping creature for 8 hours.

Nightmare Born (Su)
Creatures fighting a nightmare born monster are either locked in battle or inclined to keep their distance. Any opponent starting its turn adjacent to the dream distilled creature can’t take a 5ft. step this round. This is a mind-affecting fear effect.
Additionally, the dream distilled creature is immune to the nightmare spell.


Is it interesting? Yes
Is it useable? Yes
Does it fire my imagination? Yes
This entry is a definite winner in my book. All of the ideas are solid and fun. I can think of a lot of uses for these. You've got a vote.


I really like these entries. Of them all, the Dungeon Core is my favorite. I would have liked to see what you would have done with 2 other creatures to go with it. I love the idea of the PCs exploring through a dungeon with all these seemingly intelligent traps going off, doors closing etc, and the and they get to the enter and work out it was all being controlled. Makes a lot of sense for a Tomb of Horrors style dungeon, where nearly every square is trapped in some way, while still allowing the dungeon denziens to move around freely. The Dungeon core only activates the traps when the PCs are there.

The Complexity Golem is a great concept but I am not sure of the mechanics. An invisible, magic immune, incorporeal construct with 2 disintegrate spells a round as a touch attack? How exactly are the party supposed to defeat it? Seems like the best option is to run.

On my original read through, I was not sold on the Dream Distilled Template, but after reading other's comments, I went back and reread it, and I think it has grown on me. Not sure it is worth a CR bump of 1, but I particularly like that you don't layer on the special abilities. It gets a few which make perfect sense (and good work on the options).

Having said that, there is still something that stops me from falling in love with this entry. I'm not sure what it is. I think putting it all together, maybe it is all just a bit to "out there," too fresh and exciting and new, and I have no base line to compare it to. I can see myself using the Dungeon core in a game, but probably not the other two.

Well done on the use it tonight plot hooks. They may not be the best, but you get points from me for the effort, and they at least provide sparks of ideas for DMs to jump off.


Charles Scholz wrote:

I have two questions about the dream distilled creature.

In the Living Dream entry it states the nightmare spell deals 5d12 points of damage, but in the Nightmare Born entry it states the dream distilled creature is immune to the nightmare spell. My questions are this: 1) Do the two entries contradict each other, or does the immunity to the nightmare spell only apply to a nightmare distilled creature? 2) If they are considered opposite poles of the same creature, would sleep and slumber spells damage a nightmare creature while the nightmare spell heals it?

Please let me know (if these questions are allowed to be answered before the polling closes).

Charles, Christine won't be able to answer your questions before voting ends, But I'll offer my thoughts. The immunity to the nightmare spell only applies to the nightmare born creature. Each Dream-Distilled creature picks two of those special abilites, so not all dream-distilled creatures are therefore immune to the nightmare spell.

As for your second question, I'm don't think the sleep etc spells should affect them differently. Even though they are born of nightmares, they are still born of dreams, no use to introduce added complexity if it is not needed.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Are people forgetting that golems require magic tricks to defeat?

Every standard golem in the SRD is immune to magic and has two or three powers that affect it. Just sayin'...

I love the bizarre concepts, CS, and I like the linked theme.

Unfortunately, this is the first entry I've read. I have been a fan for the first three rounds, but cannot quite say if I will vote for this one.

Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

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

Are people forgetting that golems require magic tricks to defeat?

Every standard golem in the SRD is immune to magic and has two or three powers that affect it. Just sayin'...

I love the bizarre concepts, CS, and I like the linked theme.

Unfortunately, this is the first entry I've read. I have been a fan for the first three rounds, but cannot quite say if I will vote for this one.

Right. Either use a trick or pound the living crap out of it. That's how you defeat a golem.

Unless it's an awakened stone colossus. Then you should just run.

Liberty's Edge

Christine, you rock. These are some of the most intriguing creatures I've come across in a long time.

They're definitely getting one of my votes.

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Ok, so...

Wow.

And my second reaction-

Wow.

This entry knocks it out of the park in every way. This is exactly what I want from anyone with the title of superstar. Imagination in spades, execution, and an ability to handle overall big-picture considerations.

The theme is the best of the bunch, and it's very cleverly used. The intro quote is perfect and properly evocative. The creatures are all fascinating things I never would have thought of myself, and unlike anything I've seen in various compendiums. This is new stuff, and it's all well done.

Christine is now my odds-on favorite for this competition. She started out among the few strongest, and she just keeps getting better. Here's the bar, gentlemen, leap higher.

PS- If you're worried the Dungeon Core is a bit underpowered, think about the Control Area and what proper setting design could do for you. You could have all the attacks of whatever sort you desire...

The Exchange

I loved this, your imagination is outstanding.

One vote for you.

Cheers and well done.

It must feel great to have produced such well received stuff.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Aotrscommander

Christine, you've done it again. The complexity golem alone was worth the price of admission.

I love that idea; an invisible equation of enormous magnitude and incomprehensible form that erases other things from existance. I may have to swipe this one right here and now!

One or two quibbles - and but quibbles they are really. The AC is a bit low for a CR 15. Even with the horrific save-or-die slap and more-or-less total invisibility, it seems a bit too low. I'd have pumped the deflecton up a bit. And, no, I personallt don't ave any problems with the Disintigrate touches. Any fighter of level 15 who can't make a DC 19 Fort save reliably by thius point frankly deserves to be erased from existance...Plus watching the players soil themselves after the first hit is totally worth it!

In the tactics section, you said it disarms and sunders. Technically, is can neither disarm nor sunder, as it's incorpoeral and has no slashing or blugeoning weapon (a touch attack is neither). It could conceiveably use it's touch attack to obliterate it's opponent's weapon (which would be either attacking and object or more likely considered a sunder attempt by most sane DMs). I'm nit-picking here, I know; all I'd do is come out and state it uses it's touch on weapons in the tactics section.

The Dungeon Core screamed Dungeon Keeper Dungeon Heart to me, which is Pure Awesome. Again, my only quibbles are it's a bit weak for a CR 8. Granted, dealing with the dungeon it controls is the real challenge, so this is going to be a very abstract value even for CRs. I'd have said a better guide was, say, 4-5 plus 1 for every umpteen traps it controls (plus maybe something for the denizens). Alternately, boost it's SLAs with a few more options; maybe Dispel at will, plus some control spells (Entangle - reflavoured to be in the cogs or something - or maybe Black Tentacles).

The Kill the Core adventure is so DK it's funny...

The Dream Distilled is quite nice, though I think it's the least good of the three (which is good, because you lead with your best!)

No real quibbles there, though I might argue that a CR 1 that deals D4 damage, no save is a bit much; I'd say the template ought to have a CR of +1 or 2, which ever is higher.

So, I think based on this and your superb work in previosu rounds, you must get my first vote right now!

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