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RPG Superstar 2015

In the bleak midwinter


Round 4 - Top 8: Design three thematically linked monsters

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

In the bleak midwinter

Winter is a time that evokes memories of warmth, joy, and the celebration of magnificent feasts, resplendent with gifts, spiced wine and honeyed mead, oft-told tales both heroic and humorous, fond remembrances, and convivial cheer. Away from such festal lights and merriment, however, winter is a time of bleak and harsh majesty. Those happy moments are but a wan and guttering flame, straining to hold back the gnawing cold and bitter isolation that begin to take root when the warmth of summer, the bounty of autumn, and even the hope of spring are only a dwindling memory amidst the drifting snows and encroaching ice. Winter is a time of enfolding silence and lingering darkness, a starkly beautiful emptiness that hungers and preys upon the mind as time seems to stand as frozen as the land itself, the stillness, once so peaceful, now clawing at hope and tearing at sanity as every tiny flicker of movement, every fevered dream, every mournful call just at the edge of hearing, even the beating of your own heart—all are magnified even as they are muffled, smothered, almost suffocated by the heartless chill of winter’s night.

Thematic Link: The brumal fastness of winter twilight links these creatures. Spiteful koloiaq embody the unseen dangers lurking beneath winter’s mercurial charm and beauty, the brooding tamurga its lonely silence, isolation, and latent fury, and the cold-hearted herne its pitiless hunger. While native to misty boreal woodlands, endless tundra, and ice fields of far arctic reaches, these creatures also roam alpine regions and even fields and farms just kissed with the first frost. Wherever can be found snow, ice, and the chill dread of things that go bump in the night, there these creatures make real ancient and nameless fears.

Herne CR 5
Usually NE Medium monstrous humanoid (cold)
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft., hunter’s eye, low-light vision; Listen +5, Spot +5
Aura -

DEFENSE

AC 18, touch 13, flat-footed 15
(+3 armor, +3 Dex, +2 natural)
hp 39 (6d8+12)
Fort +4, Ref +8, Will +6
Defensive Abilities -; DR -; Immune cold; Resist -; SR -

OFFENSE
Spd 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee lance +9/+4 (1d8+2) and
gore +3 (1d6+1 plus 1 cold); or lance charge +11 (2d8+4)
Ranged composite longbow +10/+5 (1d8+2)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft. (10 ft. with lance)
Special Attacks curse of the winterthorn

TACTICS

Before Combat Hernes use the speed increase provided by their harrowing horncall to run down their quarry during a hunt.

During Combat Hernes use their mobility advantage (especially in snowy and/or forested terrain) to avoid close combat, preferring to charge into and out of melee with Ride-By Attack or circling their foes and raining arrows upon them with Mounted Archery. Hernes will often charge into the midst of their enemies to unleash a harrowing horncall and hope to scatter them with fear, then retreating to bowshot range. Hernes planning to focus on melee will always hold their horncall until close enough to get most of their enemies within the area.

Hernes concentrate first on ranged attackers (especially spellcasters) or anyone using fire attacks and leave slower, less mobile targets for last. They are clever enough to notice the effects of damage reduction and may use alchemical silver or cold iron arrows to overcome it. If forced into close combat, hernes will typically make a gore attack against an adjacent foe, then make a 5-foot step and continue their full attack action with the reach of their lance.

Morale Hernes hate to leave a hunt unfinished, but they will flee if they or their mount is dropped below 10 hit points. If their mount is killed or incapacitated before it can flee, a herne will continue to fight on foot until dropped below 10 hit points. A herne will also retreat if a humanoid has fallen victim to its accursed wounding, taking its prize away as a captive. A herne will usually reserve one use of its harrowing horncall to aid in escape.

STATISTICS
Str 15, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 14, Wis 13, Cha 13
Base Atk +6; Grp +8
Feats Mounted Archery, Mounted Combat, Ride-By Attack, Track(B)
Skills Handle Animal +6, Knowledge (nature) +3, Profession (hunter) +7, Listen +5, Perform (wind instruments) +4, Ride +13 (+15 to checks made to stay in the saddle), Spot +5, Survival +14, Use Rope +5; +4 racial bonus to Profession (hunter) and Survival checks, +2 to all skill checks vs. druids, +1 to all skill checks if using harrowing horncall (prayer).
Languages Common, Druidic, Sylvan
SQ cold immunity, darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, harrowing horncall, hunter’s eye, master tracker, step of the frozen forest, vulnerability to fire
Combat Gear studded leather, masterwork mighty composite longbow (+2 Str), masterwork lance, 30 arrows, 5 cold iron arrows, 5 alchemical silver arrows; Other Gear masterwork military saddle, 50-ft. rope.

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Curse of the winterthorn (Su): The antlers of a herne are supernaturally sharp and cold. They are treated as magical weapons for bypassing damage reduction, and wounds inflicted by the antlers continue to bleed for 1 point of damage per round until magical healing or a DC 15 Heal check is applied. Multiple bleeding wounds stack.

In addition, a male humanoid reduced to 0 or fewer hit points by a herne’s gore attack is subject to the curse of the winterthorn. This effect is similar to death knell (DC 14 Fortitude save negates), except as noted below, and can also be delivered by touch (+8 melee touch) as a standard action to a humanoid at 0 hit points or less. The save DC is Charisma-based.

On a failed save, the target is not slain but is stabilized and rendered permanently comatose, wracked with piercing headaches and dark dreams, flesh cold and pale as death. The victim does not suffer damage from exposure to cold environments, but also cannot be affected by magical healing. A herne will carry off the helpless victim, who will be hung from a tree deep in the forest. Each night hung from the tree, the victim must succeed at a DC 14 Fortitude save or be transformed into a herne with no memory of his past life. The save DC is Charisma-based.

If the victim can be recovered before the transformation occurs, the curse can be lifted with remove curse or break enchantment (DC 17 caster level check required). Once it is complete, only a miracle or wish can restore the herne to himself. Non-humanoids and female humanoids are immune to the curse.

Harrowing horncall (Su): Three times per day, a herne can blow a sonorous blast on his hunting horn, limning all creatures in a 20-foot burst with faerie fire, the herne and his allies in lambent green and enemies in ghostly white. The harrowing horncall heartens the herne’s allies as a bless and grants a surge of speed as expeditious retreat. Enemies are affected as cause fear (DC 14 Will save reduces effect to shaken 1 round). These effects last 6 rounds (caster level 6th). This is a sonic, mind-affecting effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Hunter’s eye (Su): Hernes are consummate hunters, difficult to trick or trap and able to sense when their prey is close to death. They continuously use deathwatch and detect snares and pits as the spells (caster level 6th).

In addition, because of their supernatural connection and ancient hatred for druids, hernes recognize members of the druid class on sight even if in disguise or shapechanged and gain a +2 morale bonus to attack rolls, weapon damage, skill checks, and saving throws vs. druids.

Master tracker (Ex): Hernes gain Track as a bonus feat and also gain a +4 racial bonus to Profession (hunter) and Survival checks. Hernes suffer no penalty for tracking while moving at their normal speed and only -10 when moving twice normal speed. Hernes ignore magical or mundane efforts to cover or obscure a trail (including trackless step and pass without trace).

Step of the frozen forest (Su): Hernes never suffer a movement penalty or need to make Balance checks when moving across icy or snowy surfaces or passing through heavy undergrowth or forest terrain, and they never leave a trail in natural surroundings unless they wish it. If a herne is mounted, this ability applies to its mount as well, and herne mounts suffer no movement or combat penalties when ‘squeezing’ between trees.

ECOLOGY

Environment Cold forest
Organization Solitary, hunt (2-5 plus 1 giant owl), or great hunt (6-12 plus 1 huntmaster and 1d4 giant owls); plus 1 winter wolf (or alternate mount) for each herne
Treasure Standard coins, standard goods, double items, plus gear
Alignment Usually neutral evil
Advancement 7-11 HD (Medium), 12-18 HD (Large)
Level Adjustment +3

The burly, rough-coated warrior before you, his long braided hair and beard tangled with bits of leaf and twig and rimed with frost, sits easily astride his cold-eyed steed. His breath seems almost to freeze the air before his perpetually shadowed face, and his luminous green eyes are the only features more than faintly visible beneath his rough, iron-studded leather helm. Surmounting his head are two black stag-like antlers, sharpened and polished to a cruel shine.

Hernes (HURNZ) are the tragic descendants of an ancient druidical curse upon a legendary huntsman, Herne Vilhaur. In time, the curse caused Herne to forget his life, his land, everything but his own name, his hatred for the druids who cursed him, and an all-consuming compulsion to hunt. The curse was passed down through dark rituals and unfortunate progeny, and the ‘descendants’ who took his name as their own have spread throughout the cold forests of the world. Hernes avoid becoming too numerous in each place, however, always making sure there will be enough prey.

ENCOUNTERS:

Hernes are rarely encountered afoot and favor winter wolves as mounts, finding kindred spirits in their cold, predatory hearts. Where hernes gather, entire packs of winter wolves can be found, and they also raise giant owls as scouts, hunting beasts, and even as flying mounts. Rare hernes may train packs of smaller hunting animals or ride warhorses, large elk or stags (use bison statistics), or dire wolves or boars, including fiendish versions of these creatures.

Hernes may be encountered while simply out looking for prey or drawn to a site of combat (or lured there by a mischievous or vengeful koloiaq). PCs might encounter hernes already in the midst of a hunt for someone or something else entirely, and they may talk with PCs if it would not interfere with their hunting. Of course, hernes could also be enlisted to track PCs specifically at the behest of some dark patron.

HABITAT & SOCIETY:

Hernes are always male, reproducing through their curse. Usually this occurs with the touch of their accursed horns and ritual hanging, but children (always male) sired by a herne may manifest the curse on reaching adulthood. There is little in the way of ‘family life’ among hernes and many are solitary, perhaps because they do not wish to share their kills, while others prefer the strength of numbers to bring down stronger prey. A few hernes resist their sinister urges, hunting only non-sentient creatures (or even evil races), and do not pass on their curse.

Hernes take great care training and tending their mounts. While dangerous hunters alone, hernes understand that their mounts are key to their hunting prowess and treat them as intelligent allies who are integral to planning and executing their hunts. Hernes and their mounts share in trophies and treasures collected from their victims.

LORE:

Hernes were created by an ancient druidic curse on the legendary hunter Herne Vilhaur. Mortally injured while hunting a sacred white stag with his master the king, Herne was taken by the druids of Allender and hung him from a great oak. They laid upon him the ‘curse of the winterthorn,’ transforming him into a stag-horned avenger. Where once Herne had been a hunter of nature, the druids sought to create a hunter for nature, but his hate made him far more than they intended. His creators became his first victims, but with his life ruined he took to the forest forever. Herne soon forgot his past life, everything but his own name, his hatred of the druids, and the compulsion to hunt. The accursed spawn who bear his name and legacy, crowned with antlers—their own ‘winterthorns’—and continue to haunt the winter woods. (DC 20 bardic knowledge).

Hernes are expert riders, archers, and hunters with an unnatural swiftness, even through snowy forests (DC 15 Knowledge (nature)).

Hernes can terrorize their enemies and inspire their allies with their hunting horns and can pass on their curse through their magical antlers (DC 20 Knowledge (nature)).

HERNE HUNTMASTERS

Herne advancing to 12+ HD transform into huntmasters, striding alongside packs of winter wolves or other dreadful beasts, or astride Huge mounts, scouring the winter woods and even racing across the stormy winter sky.

Huntmasters have +1 magical gear and Charisma of 14+. Their harrowing horncall grants allies good hope and either haste or air walk and affects enemies as crushing despair rather than the usual effects. Huntmasters gain the following spell-like abilities: At will—gaseous form (self only, appearing as swirling snow); 1/day—animal growth, call lightning storm (DC 17), control weather, ice storm, sleet storm.

_________________________

Koloiaq CR 2
Always CN Tiny fey (cold)
Init +4; Senses eyes of the storm, low-light vision; Listen +5, Spot +1
Aura distracting aura (-1 initiative and skill checks, 30 ft., no save)

DEFENSE

AC 16, touch 16, flat-footed 12
(+4 Dex, +2 size)
hp 4 (1d6+1); fast healing -; regeneration -
Fort +1, Ref +6, Will +3
Defensive Abilities snowmantle, wind-rider; DR 5/cold iron; Immune cold; Resist -; SR

OFFENSE

Spd 10 ft. (2 squares), fly 40 ft. (good)
Melee -
Ranged -
Space 2-1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks Breath of hibernal dusk, cackle fever, distraction
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 3rd):
At will—ghost sound (DC 12), gust of wind (DC 14), mage hand, ray of frost (+6 ranged touch, 30 ft., 1d3 cold), speak with animals, ventriloquism (DC 13), whispering wind
1/day—enthrall (DC 14), sleet storm

TACTICS

Before Combat Koloiaq will shadow enemies from hiding and use their distracting aura as well as ghost sound and ventriloquism, both simply to annoy and to confuse PCs about the type and location of enemies they face. When ready to engage in combat, koloiaq will call up a sleet storm to cover their approach and to hamper their enemies.

During Combat Koloiaq avoid melee at all costs. If several koloiaq are present, they will seek to maintain a continuous sleet storm; when one ends or is dispelled or their foes move out of the area, another koloiaq will create one. Even without a sleet storm, koloiaq use Flyby Attack feat to move, attack with ray of frost or their breath of hibernal dusk, and then return to hiding or cover. In between attacks, they will continue using their spell-like abilities to confuse and misdirect their opponents. They use their breath to infect enemies with cackle fever to make them more vulnerable to their mind-affecting powers on subsequent days as the disease takes hold.

Against flying enemies, koloiaq will use gust of wind to knock them out of the sky or push them into trees and other solid objects. They use their snowmantle to douse torches and similar fires, both because they hate and fear fire and to take advantage of their low-light vision when fighting in dark or shadowy conditions.

Morale Koloiaq flee when attacked with fire or when faced with determined foes too strong to be easily beaten or chased off. If multiple koloiaq are present, one will hold a sleet storm in reserve to cover their withdrawal. A retreating koloiaq will use whispering wind to attempt to draw monstrous attention to the PCs and their location. Particularly angry koloiaq might then return and use enthrall to keep their foes from leaving before the creatures they have called arrive.

STATISTICS

Str 1, Dex 18, Con 13, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 14
Base Atk +0; Grp -13
Feats Flyby Attack
Skills Escape Artist +5, Handle Animal +5, Knowledge (geography) +4, Knowledge (local) +4, Knowledge (nature) +4, Hide +15, Listen +5, Move Silently +8, Spot +1, Survival +5, Tumble +5
Languages Common, Giant, Sylvan
SQ Immunity to cold, low-light vision, vulnerability to fire

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Breath of hibernal dusk (Su): Once per day, koloiaq can exhale a 10-foot line of freezing enchanted mist. This chilling mist causes 1d6 points of nonlethal cold damage and makes targets drowsy (fatigued) for 1 minute. A DC 12 Fortitude save negates nonlethal damage and reduces fatigue to 1 round. More insidious, those who fail their saves begin to develop cackle fever after a 1 day incubation period. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Cackle fever (Ex): Disease—breath of hibernal dusk, Fortitude DC 16, incubation period 1 day, damage 1d6 Wis. The save DC is fixed. [This disease is usually called ‘cabin fever’ in the cold lands where koloiaq dwell.]

Distracting aura (Su): The illusory sounds and whispers of a koloiaq are so pervasive and insidious that creatures within 30 feet are distracted by intermittent auditory hallucinations, suffering a -1 penalty to initiative rolls and skill checks for as long as the koloiaq is present and for 1d4 hours thereafter. The distracting auras of multiple koloiaq stack. Animals, plants, fey, and creatures unable to hear are immune to this effect. A koloiaq can suppress or resume its distracting aura as a free action. This is a sonic, mind-affecting effect, and it can be negated by calm emotions.

Eyes of the storm (Ex): A koloiaq's vision is never hindered by rain, snow, sleet, mist, fog, or wind-blown debris, whether natural or magical.

Snowmantle (Su): Koloiaq are continuously surrounded with a shroud of whirling snow that fills any square it occupies, blocking vision into or through it and providing concealment for the koloiaq within, though the miniature blizzard itself is visible (although it may not be recognized as hiding a koloiaq). The snowmantle also extinguishes torches and small fires in any square through which the koloiaq passes. Koloiaq wishing to hide can suppress (or resume) this ability as a free action.

Wind-rider (Ex): Koloiaq are never damaged or slowed, checked, knocked down, blown away, or otherwise impaired by natural or magical winds of any strength.

ECOLOGY

Environment Any cold (including temperate regions in winter)
Organization Solitary or gang (3-6)
Treasure No coins; standard goods; standard items
Alignment Always chaotic neutral
Advancement 2-3 HD (Tiny)
Level Adjustment +3

Barely visible within a miniature blizzard, a strange face seems to float disembodied, reminiscent of a stylized aboriginal mask of polished wood or bone, surrounded by a fringe of beaded white braids, with cold blue pinpoints of light in its dark eyeholes. A second glimpse reveals a tiny, emaciated body shrouded in diaphanous, tattered garments flitting wildly in the wind.

Koloiaq (koh-LOH-ee-ack) are tiny fey who gleefully gambol about through winter storm, dancing between falling snowflakes. Though rarely seen, their magical handiwork and whispering voices echo across the frozen landscape.

ENCOUNTERS

Koloiaq are sometimes playful, helping travelers in need, calling for aid on a whispering wind. If bribed with sweets, liquor, and offerings of beads and especially fine carvings, they may converse with PCs, offering information or advice. Koloiaq are capricious, however, and often malicious, loving to torment winter travelers, dousing fires and disrupting their sleep with illusory footsteps, bestial calls, whispering voices, haunting melodies, and noises at windows and tent flaps for days on end. If PCs attack them, koloiaq will call upon their kin or try to draw predatory animals or intelligent monsters (e.g., hags, trolls, tamurga, hernes) to prey on the PCs, either directly or with a whispering wind.

HABITAT & SOCIETY

Koloiaq are nomadic, sleeping in icicle-hung trees and rocky ledges, and traveling as the wind and the opportunity for mischief take them. They may settle briefly, acquainting themselves with an area and its inhabitants, moving on when they have exhausted its possibilities. Independent but sociable, koloiaq will converse (sometimes by whispering wind) with their kin or other intelligent creatures, boasting about their latest exploits and soliciting potential allies to call when enticing prey is found.

Koloiaq collect beads, jewels, and especially fine carvings of wood, bone, stone, or precious metal. A koloiaq’s body dissolves into snow when it is slain, but its mask-like skull is left behind and easily mistaken for a crafted item. Some blame this taking and selling of their mortal remains as trinkets for the koloiaq’s generally spiteful attitude towards humanoids.

LORE:

Koloiaq are fey accidentally released by the curiosity of the First Druid from a magical chest holding every ancient winter from the dawn of the world. They hate fire but sometimes can be appeased with offerings of sweets, liquor, or fine carvings. (DC 15 bardic knowledge).

Koloiaq whisper on the wind, tormenting those they meet with strange and unnerving sounds and voices and breathing a fell mist that turns men to madness. They also can call to savage beasts of the wild, inciting their rage and their hunger (DC 20 Knowledge (nature)).

Special: Koloiaq may be called with summon nature's ally IV.

___________________________

Tamurga CR 15
Usually N Gargantuan ooze (cold, earth)
Init -2; Senses blindsight 60 ft., tremorsense 300 ft.; Listen +20, Spot – (blind)
Aura swarm cloud (within 5 ft., 1d6 swarm damage, -4 Concentration, Listen, Spot)

DEFENSE

AC 20, touch 4, flat-footed 20
(-2 Dex, +16 natural, -4 size)
hp 251 (18d10+156); fast healing 5
Fort +15, Ref +8, Will +10; +10 vs. spells which force movement, -2 vs. sonic
Defensive Abilities freedom of movement, immovable, not subject to critical hits or flanking; DR 5/-; Immune cold, gaze attacks, illusions, paralysis, poison, polymorph, sleep, stunning, visual effects; Resist acid 10, electricity 10, fire 10; SR -

OFFENSE

Spd 30 ft. (6 squares), burrow 15 ft.
Melee slam +22 (4d8+18 and 1d6 cold)
Ranged rock +7 (2d6+12 and 1d6 cold)
Space 20 ft.; Reach 20 ft.
Special Attacks improved grab, inescapable grasp, swallow whole, trample 4d8+18 and 1d6 cold
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 12th):
At will—chill metal (DC 13), entangle (DC 12), fog cloud, quench (DC 14), soften earth and stone, spike growth (DC 14), warp wood (DC 13)
1/day—antipathy (DC 20), creeping doom, earthquake

TACTICS

Before Combat Tamurga dislike being disturbed and make their lairs as difficult to approach on foot as possible through liberal use of soften earth and stone and spike growth, while flying creatures are dissuaded by heavy use of fog cloud. Knowing the curiosity and persistence of some races, tamurga will also use antipathy every day, attuned to whichever intelligent race is most numerous and intrusive in its area; usually humans but sometimes other humanoids, giants or rarely powerful cold-dwelling monsters such as white or silver dragons.

During Combat Tamurga try to keep the fight in areas of difficult terrain and foggy obscurement. If forced to leave such an area, tamurga will use quickened fog cloud at the end of its movement, especially if ranged attacks have been used against it. Tamurga will sometimes then burrow down out of the fog cloud and burst up from the ground elsewhere to attack.

If enemies are tightly grouped, tamurga usually begin combat with a trample attack. Individuals strong enough to survive the attack will be grappled and engulfed. Tamurga will try to move and attack each round whenever possible.

If enemies are spread out, tamurga will unleash a creeping doom to attack its foes, sometimes then burrowing underground and controlling the swarms’ movement from beneath the earth, guiding them with tremorsense. Armored opponents will be targeted with chill metal and archers with warp wood. It prefers to use its earthquake ability to destroy structures but will use it if hard-pressed in combat.

When faced with flying opponents, tamurga will disgorge swarms to attack them in midair or hurl solid chunks of its own body mass as missiles, though it can only perceive opponents up to 60 feet away if they are not on the ground. It will use quench to extinguish fiery spells or destroy fiery creatures and will attack fire-using creatures in preference to others.

Morale Tamurga are tenacious fighters, but if reduced below 40 hit points they will burrow underground to allow time for their fast healing to work. They will also retreat below ground if faced with aerial opponents outside its blindsight range.

STATISTICS

Str 35, Dex 6, Con 25, Int 10, Wis 15, Cha 12
Base Atk +13; Grp +37
Feats Great Fortitude, Improved Natural Attack (slam), Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Power Attack, Quicken Spell-like Ability (fog cloud), Track
Skills Climb +12, Knowledge (nature) +5, Knowledge (religion) +1, Listen +20, Survival +20 (+22 aboveground natural environments)
Languages Sylvan
SQ death throes, freedom of movement, immovable, immunity to cold, sensitive to noise, vulnerability to fire

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Death throes (Ex): When a tamurga is slain, its magical and spiritual energy is released back into nature in destructive fashion equivalent to an earthquake centered on the tamurga. Following that, a 20-foot radius centered on the tamurga collapses into mud as per soften earth and stone and from it wells up a veritable explosion of vermin in the form of 1d4+1 mosquito swarms (statistics as locust swarms) and 1d4+1 centipede swarms.

Disgorge swarm (Ex): 60-ft. line or 20-ft. cone, once per hour; damage 2d6 swarm plus special. As a standard action, a tamurga can belch forth a gout of mosquito swarms (statistics as locust swarms) or centipede swarms. This eruption of voracious myriapods initially appears as a 60-foot line or 20-foot cone beginning adjacent to the tamurga but then breaks into 3 discrete swarms of the appropriate type. On subsequent rounds, these swarms will move and attack the nearest living creatures other than the tamurga. These swarms are not summoned creatures and they attack until destroyed, though within 24 hours they will be reabsorbed by the tamurga.

Fast healing (Ex): Tamurga gain fast healing 5 as long as they are in contact with the ground.

Freedom of movement (Su): The semifluid nature of a tamurga makes it virtually impossible to grasp and allows it to move easily through difficult terrain. Tamurga thus enjoy a constant freedom of movement effect (caster level 12th).

Immovable (Ex): Tamurga gain a +10 bonus to resist attempts to bull rush, overrun, or trip them and to saving throws vs. effects that would move them against their will, such as telekinesis, repulsion, or reverse gravity (tamurga on the ground are always entitled to a save against this spell).

Improved grab (Ex): To use this ability, a tamurga must hit with its slam attack. It can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking attacks of opportunity. If it wins the grapple check, it establishes a hold and can try to ‘swallow’ its victim in the following round.

Inescapable grasp (Ex): Because tamurga flow over and engulf their foes when grappling, it is very difficult to escape their grasp. Making an Escape Artist check to escape their grapple is a full-round action and suffers a -5 penalty. In addition, even creatures using freedom of movement can be grappled by a tamurga, although it takes a -20 penalty to its grapple check against such foes, and they are entitled to make one Escape Artist check as a swift action each round to escape a tamurga’s grapple.

By flowing into and through tiny cracks and flaws, this ability enables a tamurga to inflict double damage when attacking objects.

Sensitive to noise (Ex): Tamurga hate loud noises and suffer a -2 penalty to saving throws vs. any sonic or deafening effects, and when targeted with a sonic effect a tamurga must succeed on a DC 20 Will save or be shaken for 1 round.

Swallow whole (Ex): A tamurga can try to embed a grabbed opponent of up to Huge size within its sludgy mass by making a grapple check. On a successful check, the unfortunate victim is considered grappled must hold its breath or begin to suffocate while is crushed for 2d6+12 points of bludgeoning damage each round. In addition, the interior of a tamurga teems with crawling insects, so each round a swallowed creature suffers an additional 2d6 points of biting damage and must succeed at a DC 26 Fortitude save or be nauseated for 1 round. The save DC is Constitution-based.

A swallowed creature can attempt to carve its way out with a light slashing or piercing weapon by inflicting 30 points of damage to the interior of the tamurga (AC 24). Once the creature escapes, the oozy substance of the tamurga reforms to seal the hole. A tamurga’s body mass can hold 2 Huge, 4 Large, 16 Medium or Small, 64 Tiny, 256 Diminutive, or 1024 Fine creatures.

Swarm cloud (Ex): Any creature within 5 feet of a tamurga is accosted by swarms of biting insects, inflicting 1d6 damage and suffering a -4 penalty to Concentration, Listen, and Spot checks due to the constant distraction. The swarm cloud can be dispersed with gust of wind, cloudkill, stinking cloud or a similar spell, but the tamurga can reform it on its turn as a free action.

Trample (Ex): 4d8+18 damage and 1d6 cold, Reflex half DC 31. The save DC is Strength-based.

ECOLOGY

Environment Cold plains or hills
Organization Solitary
Treasure No coins, double goods (gems only), no items
Alignment Usually neutral
Advancement 19-30 HD (Gargantuan), 31-42 HD (Colossal)
Level Adjustment -

A seething abomination of crumbling permafrost, tufts of tundra grass and scrub brush, and chunks of rock and ice sheathing a core of half-thawed deliquescent muck rises before you. Slithering worms and scuttling insects swarm across its surface and hover in a buzzing cloud around it, and gaping holes almost seem to suggest a face in the frost that clings to it.

Tamurga are solitary creatures of the frozen north, sometimes mistakenly called ‘tundra spirits’ by native tribes. In fact, they are strange, amorphous amalgams melded from the animate stuff of the land infused with a hive-mind of tundra vermin. Their origin is a mystery, even to tamurga themselves, but whatever ambient nature magic or twisted druidical experimentation gave them life, tamurga react violently when their dim ruminations on their existence are disturbed.

ENCOUNTERS

PCs may encounter a tamurga while exploring a remote wilderness area, perhaps warned by locals of the haunting ‘tundra spirit.’ Its home will be shrouded in fog and sown with spike growth, the ground boggy even in winter, and its antipathy power will discourage many from approaching. A tamurga is usually hostile to intruders, though those speaking Sylvan may soothe it through Diplomacy and enable conversation.

Tamurga find the noise of battle or similar loud, repetitive sounds irritating and try to find the source of the noise and silence it permanently. Repeated disturbances in a tamurga’s territory provoke it to track intruders to where they sleep, flattening tents, crushing cabins, and laying waste to whatever and whomever they find. PCs could be enlisted by wealthy or noble allies to respond to a tamurga’s devastating incursion.

HABITAT & SOCIETY

Tamurga are solitary creatures, lying dormant for long periods in the frigid hills, valleys, plains, and bogs, drawing sustenance from the land itself and stretching their limited intellect in frustrated brooding or vain hopes of forgetting their own tortured existence. Tamurga are exquisitely sensitive to even tiny movements and faint sounds. While grudgingly tolerating ambient environmental sounds or even rare visits from fey or other intelligent creatures attuned to nature, they loathe the presence of industrious races that drive them to distraction with the ringing clash of pick and hammer, axe and saw.

Tamurga resent the incursions of civilization, such as buildings and roads, and destroy all traces of it they find, in the hope of remaining far from the madding crowd. Most creatures aware of a tamurga avoid its territory (such as hernes, whose hunting horns and howling mounts invite tamurga retribution), but koloiaq actively seek them out. It is all too easy for koloiaq to drive a tamurga into a murderous fury directed at their enemies, and the ominous crashing and rumbling of a tamurga’s approach might be mistaken for mere koloiaq trickery until it is too late.

Tamurga do not collect treasure, but precious stones (particularly amber) can be found embedded in their earthen bodies.

LORE

Tamurga are ‘tundra spirits’ that despise fire and loud noises and seek solitude and quiet, destroying buildings and other traces of civilization they find. They can engulf creatures or flow over them like a living avalanche and teem with crawling and flying vermin. (DC 15 bardic knowledge Knowledge (nature))

Tamurga are sentient oozes that draw strength from the land, moving easily through obstructions and even burrowing through the ground. They wield strong nature magic, which is released cataclysmically when they are killed. (DC 20 Knowledge (dungeoneering) or DC 25 Knowledge (nature))

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

Jason, you've nailed it.

I like the loose grouping here, of winter monsters such as you might find in Frostburn or a similar sourcebook. I like the use of real mythological reference, such as Herne the Hunter, and turning that into a general monster type, just as the unique Pegasus became a breed of creatures long ago in the original D&D. I don't know the source of the Koloiaq, but it wouldn't surprise me to learn it was based on Inuit mythology, it's that convincing.

And I like the mechanical moves you put on things here: the use of a flying fey with a low CR (always harder to design well than a high CR beast). I even like the thematic and mechanical use of a hunter's horn; it works because the abilities are combined with a strong Tactics section.

Yes, there are a few places where things could improve. The "Curse of the Winterthorn" ability is a bit of a catch-all, with lots of things dumped into it: bypassing DR, wounding and spawn generation are not usually things that go into a single entry. It's messy and tough to run a creature that makes too many exceptions to the rules.

And the Hernes do have a largish number of special abilities, making them tougher for a DM to play. The usual rule of thumb at Open Design is 3-and-done.

Despite that, the flavor and the sheer utility of these monsters is undeniable. I can use them in any game that has a winter season. They work extremely well in an underserved category, namely druidic antagonists and wilderness natives.

I haven't read all the others yet, but this is my favorite for a Recommended rating so far.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

Interesting thematic choice. It's cold as a witch's spit outside right now, so the idea seems appropriate for the season. It also helps to fill in a niche that could use a little more populating. There just aren't all that many awesome cold/winter creatures, so it's nice to see you step up and try to plug some of the gaps.

The writing in the introductory paragraphs is strong, but it's on the borderline (with perhaps one foot on the wrong side) of purple prose. Be careful not to overdo it, please. That said, the writing is evocative and interesting and demands my attention right from the very start, which is a nice trick you've picked up from your existing professional credits and it's an absolute necessity for the gamer we'll select as the true RPG Superstar.

Herne the Huntsman of the Wild Hunt was kind of an obvious choice. He's been in nearly every edition of the game and his stats have appeared several times in Dragon. I actually like that you didn't stat up Herne himself but rather his degenerate descendants, but I think I would have preferred that these guys were called something like "Wild Huntsmen" rather than Hernes.

"Saves vs. druids" is the most first-edition construction I've seen in this entire contest, and while seeing it warms my heart in the midst of this treacherous Seattle winter, there is probably a less lame way of saying that they get a bonus on all saves made against effects caused by druids.

Conceptually, I like the way that hernes reproduce by hanging their victims from leafless limbs in a forlorn forest. That's very evocative and suggests a creepy scene in which the PCs come across a comatose victim without knowing what's going on. In fact, that strikes me as a wonderful way to foreshadow an encounter with a herne, so nicely done there. I also want to commend you for letting a herne pass its Step of the frozen forest ability to its mounts. For such a mount-oriented creature, that could have resulted in an annoying problem, and it didn't.

By the way, when you hang a person from a tree that person has been _hanged_, not hung. Sort of a weird language quirk almost no one gets right. Please do watch out for it.

The koloiaq seems like a fun little monster. I don't think the name needs to be an irregular plural, though (the game has lots of those already), and it's a good thing you included a pronunciation guide, because I hadn't the foggiest idea how to pronounce their name. You use of the future tense in this entry (particularly in the tactics section and the ecology section) jarred me a bit, as present tense would have worked better throughout.

Also, they seem more of an annoyance/RPG encounter than something players would enjoy fighting. That doesn't make them terrible, but it does knock a couple of points off for me. The perfect monster offers fun roleplaying and challenging tactical encounters, and in this regard I feel that the koloiaq perhaps comes up a bit short.

The tamurga isn't hugely exciting, but I like the idea of tundra spirits and the writing in their description and lore section is very evocative. I like monsters that "blow up" when they die, but I think the fact that this one summons a bunch of swarms just slows down play for a not-that-great effect. The earthquake was nice, though.

The disgorge swarm idea, which conceptually strong, is a touch loosey goosey on the rules side. Where does the DM place the swarms on rounds subsequent to the breath weapon attack? What happens to characters trapped within the initial cone? I see that they suffer 2d6 of something called swarm damage, but what do you mean by "plus special"? I found that a little less clear than I would have liked.

Overall I think this submission shows solid writing. Using Herne the Huntsman is quite cliché, but I suspect it will prove a popular choice and it definitely fits in with your theme. The koloiaq is a fun creature that seems more suited to backstory and flavor than combat, and the tamurga is an above-average giant with some itty bitty mechanical problems. I have plenty of submissions yet to write, but since we're only cutting two contestants this round I strongly suspect that you'll survive into the next round.

MY RATING: 2/3.

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

Jason, I want to use this as an example. Good writing, not gonzo. Cool ideas (literally). Professionally presented. This is something that could see print, its not just a show pony to make us go ooooh! and aaaaah! (Boomer, are you paying attention here?).

THIS is the work of an RPG Superstar. Just like the Darkblight (though I think the Darkblight is better). The two submissions are very similar in their "this is ready for publication now" feel. Only a few key mistakes hold you back.

Great title too.

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-
Great. The winter theme is solid, with its lurking danger, lonely isolation and pitiless hunger. Well organized. Professionally presented. This is what true professional content looks like. I could publish this now. Very playable and useful. Some tense issues.

Monsters (proper format, good build, abilities and tactics, quality of mechanics, interesting new mechanics): A
Let’s see what these frosty beasties do for me. I should point out, you don’t need lots of tricky abilities to have a good monster. I think you should have put descriptions up front, but that is just my preference.

Herne: B+
A few slightly wonky abilities, but I am being a bit picky. I like the lore and the huntmasters advanced version. Nice touch. (I liked the save vs. druids thing, go 1E feel!)

Koloiaq: A+
Wow, nice choice. CR 2 fey. Great abilities. This is truly superstar stuff. Excellent work listing what nature’s ally spell summons them.

Tamurga: A-
This is a fun ooze. I like the abilities a lot. Excellent description.

Tilt (did it grab me, is it unique and cool, do I like it, flavor): A-
Really liked it. I would have preferred a truly original first monster instead of a Herne. But that hardly hinders this strong group.

Overall: A-
A very professional submission with useful monsters.

Jason, very nice work here. Not quite the Darkblight, but this one is up there. This is what a professional submission looks and feels like. Your prior work is strong and I’m glad your evil horsie didn’t stop you from getting to this round.

RECOMMENDED FOR TOP 6

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

Thanks to the judges for their positive comments. I'm glad you got a chuckle out of "saves vs. druids" and liked the work overall.

To all of the voters, I have no groan-inducing puns this time (I guess I could have riffed on Shakespeare and called my entry A Midwinter Night's (Bad) Dream... or not), so I'll just ask you to vote, vote, vote for me!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013 aka Core

Would I use this in a game - Yes.

Is it well written - Adequate.

Does the theme hold up - Yes.

3/3

Comments - The round 1 entry left a bad taste in my mouth and honestly I would have DQed it if I were running the show. It was pretty much a 200 word Crucible of Blackflame, which I would be very surprised if you had not run across before considering your background. Even the name is similar. But this is not about your round 1 entry so...

The work here is clearly well done so I am glad you made it through. This entry will probably share the top with The Darkblight, as these are honestly the only two that fulfill all of the criteria of the contest. Good luck in the future rounds, I am sure you will make it through.

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

I would definitely use the first two monsters of this entry, and maybe even the ooze. Wonderful flavor and great mechanics. You might want to reduce the number of special abilities your critters have, if only because some of them will probably never get used in standard encounters.
But a great job!

Scarab Sages

My eye twitched at lines like 'wan and guttering' and 'voracious myriapods,' but I took a deep breath and let it go.

The Hernes rock on toast. Very, very cool. I'm actually surprised that they weren't Fey as well! The whole spawn thing, about putting people into a life-in-death frozen state and hanging them to 'ripen' was just visual as all hell.

The flying Fey, interesting, and made a good use of a rarely used spell to transform them from a minor nuisance to a serious challenge.

I'm not real big on the Ooze (which vaguely reminds me somewhat of the very first villain Alpha Flight ever fought, an animate chunk of tundra), but the abilities are consistent with the theme and it's well-written.

Very clean formatting. This was one of the easier-to-read entries, and when I'm looking up a critter, I tend to gloss over anything that isn't written in such a way that I can 'get it' in a single pass.


The Hernes don't really do anything for me, I fear. The tundra-monster is pretty good, for an ooze. It's the little fey critters that stand out for me, though. I can really see myself using those. I really like this entry, but I'm afraid it doesn't quite make it into my Top 3 for this round.
One of the main reasons why not is the overblown writing; for my tastes, it's just over the line into Purple Prose territory.

Still, FWIW, it would probably have got my fourth vote, had I had one...

Dark Archive

I'm an unsophisticated voter. My bottom line for critter entries is simple:

Would I use this in my game?

In this case I definitely have to say: Hell yeah.


I like these monsters alot. Very flavorful, with mechanics to back it up. Nice and old-school, not the one-trick ponies of 4e.

And bonus points for working in The Face in the Frost. :)

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka Clandestine

That entry just says "Solid." right into my face. I'll go on my way to read the few remaining entries, but this is quality stuff all around.

EDIT: You're getting one of my votes.


Great work again here. I liked your country, loved the concept, if not completly the execution, of your villian. And you've got a real good entry in for the monsters.

I like the Hernes, just the sort of beasty I love to use against my PC's. I'm sort of 'meh' on the fey guys, but that's purely a personal bias, and while I don't 'like' them, I can appreciate they fit the theme and are well written. And with their abilities can actually fight a little if needed unlike pixies, et al. The Ooze? great, loved it. I love the "nature spirit" hook for it. Would definitely use it.

At this stage I think you have one of my votes.

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

Shade wrote:

I like these monsters alot. Very flavorful, with mechanics to back it up. Nice and old-school, not the one-trick ponies of 4e.

And bonus points for working in The Face in the Frost. :)

I do love to drop a little Easter egg in there now and then. Glad you enjoyed.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Sheyd

Jason, I'm going to have to find where you have those cameras and mics hidden because you've written up three monsters that will fit in my current campaign. They fit as well as Avinash did.

Some of the lines in your opening though... You're using the thesaurus too much man! *smacks hand* Bad Jason!

Overall however these are three monsters that not only have my favorite linking theme (winter) they're just what I've been looking for. Those two facts alone would get you my vote. Your stat blocks look good to me and the abilities fit well. Good work!


I can just picture you, sitting at a desk, tapping your pencil on paper, muttering "think, think, think, thematically linked", then just glancing outside at world covered in ice and snow. From that moment you are a furious blur of inspiration.

That or your cold, calculating nature made you do it.

I like these. Hooray for ooze.

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

Sheyd wrote:

Jason, I'm going to have to find where you have those cameras and mics hidden because you've written up three monsters that will fit in my current campaign. They fit as well as Avinash did.

Some of the lines in your opening though... You're using the thesaurus too much man! *smacks hand* Bad Jason!

Overall however these are three monsters that not only have my favorite linking theme (winter) they're just what I've been looking for. Those two facts alone would get you my vote. Your stat blocks look good to me and the abilities fit well. Good work!

A friend of mine read the intro block to his girlfriend and her response was really funny: "I started to feel... despair. You need to NEVER let that man be alone on Christmas again!"

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

Kevin Olmstead wrote:

I can just picture you, sitting at a desk, tapping your pencil on paper, muttering "think, think, think, thematically linked", then just glancing outside at world covered in ice and snow. From that moment you are a furious blur of inspiration.

That or your cold, calculating nature made you do it.

I like these. Hooray for ooze.

Could be both, man, could be both. Inspiration comes where you find it.

Glad you enjoyed!

Dark Archive RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Contributor

Clark Peterson wrote:
Jason, I want to use this as an example. Good writing, not gonzo. Cool ideas (literally). Professionally presented. This is something that could see print, its not just a show pony to make us go ooooh! and aaaaah! (Boomer, are you paying attention here?)

Yes, I am paying attention!

*grin*

When all is said and done, I hope only that I might get a chance to work WITH some of the amazing writers who have been a part of this competition, rather than dread their L33T-skillz as a competitor.

This whole "kumite" thing is taking it out of me. "I fight to . . . SURVIVE . . !"

Also: a fantastic set of monsters, Jason, and critters that I want to add to my games, like, NOW. Well done!


I really like these. They are evocative, interesting, and the right tone for my own games. Very well done, and thanks.


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

First of all, extra brownie point for referencing my favorite Christmas carol. And providing the pronunciation is something every monster author ever should do, so everyone including the judges should learn from that. Now, the theme is a little weak however. "Cold critters." I mean, that’s OK but nothing to write home about. Although then reading through them carefully there’s that druidicial link, that helps.

The herne are pretty cool. I like the method of turning a victim into one of them. And I like that they’re a good "fearsome legendary monster" that’s only CR5, good for terrorizing those zero-level locals. (Yes yes, I know there's not zero-levels any more in 3e...)

I’d really prefer some description before launching into the stats. I have to skim the stats thinking "bah" before I get to what the deal is.

I like the koloiaq too, a low-powered fey – definitely more interesting than a "straight-up fight" monster.

And the Tamurga is the same kind of thing – a great excuse to have a “no man’s land” out there in the cold-lands.

Now the one weakness here is that I’ve never managed to get PCs interested in a Frostburn kind of setting. But if I could get them to be Inuit natives, these three would do the trick!

I give it a solid B. It didn’t totally knock me socks off but they’re solid and more interesting than say anything in MMIII-V.

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

Ernest Mueller wrote:

First of all, extra brownie point for referencing my favorite Christmas carol. And providing the pronunciation is something every monster author ever should do, so everyone including the judges should learn from that. Now, the theme is a little weak however. "Cold critters." I mean, that’s OK but nothing to write home about. Although then reading through them carefully there’s that druidicial link, that helps.

The herne are pretty cool. I like the method of turning a victim into one of them. And I like that they’re a good "fearsome legendary monster" that’s only CR5, good for terrorizing those zero-level locals. (Yes yes, I know there's not zero-levels any more in 3e...)

I’d really prefer some description before launching into the stats. I have to skim the stats thinking "bah" before I get to what the deal is.

I like the koloiaq too, a low-powered fey – definitely more interesting than a "straight-up fight" monster.

And the Tamurga is the same kind of thing – a great excuse to have a “no man’s land” out there in the cold-lands.

Now the one weakness here is that I’ve never managed to get PCs interested in a Frostburn kind of setting. But if I could get them to be Inuit natives, these three would do the trick!

I give it a solid B. It didn’t totally knock me socks off but they’re solid and more interesting than say anything in MMIII-V.

Dude, just turn the calendar! Winter will roll around someday.

Well, unless you're in the tropics...


These are good monsters, ones I would definitely use if I were currently running an icebound campaign. I could probably meddle with them a bit to turn them into something I could use right now though. Herne fits in with a god of the hunt that has a small presence in the current campaign I'm running.

The only reason I'd put Darkblight ahead of this one is that those monsters are usable right now for me (and likely will be used) in an upcoming adventure I'm working on that takes place in a dreary forest/swamp. If I were running an adventure a bit farther north than this one would be number one. :)

Once again, you have my vote.


Yep, I think you'll get a vote if for the hernes alone. But I'm a classicist.

Best design of the round. The form of the writing supports the function of the design and keeps me reading. That's what I want from 80% of any RPG product.


Very creative entry. I liked the first sentence clean and simple writing which nailed the winter concept in a way that almost everyone should be able to envision. The subsequent paragraph was way off target IMO particularly in a D20 fantasy campaign normally without electric heating and insulation. Not everyone will agree.

IMO this entry would be quite a bit better without the contradictory paragraph describing winter. It isn't how I visualize winter and it really hurts the entry taken as a whole. I prefer fluff to contradictory conflicting off base imagery. Simply swapping and reversing the descriptors summer for winter and hot for cold it isn't how I'd describe summer and how freezing cold it gets.

The Herne are a great concept, extremely well written and easy to visualize due to your evocative description of them. I visualize "A Game of Thrones" for a Frostburn type setting with the long winter approaching. The winter fey are pretty good but I dislike the ooze and strongly dislike the winter text paragraph so I'm currently sitting on the fence regarding having one of my three votes. Good luck in round 4.

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

Ah, ah,
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.

Ahem (or is that a-herne?)

I'm not too keen on the ooze myself, I do like the Herne more now that I've given them a second read, and I like the dark little fae.

I know someone compared to Ooze to Tundra, but the koloiaq remind me of small versions of Kolomaq. A whole lot in fact.

Jason Nelson wrote:
Barely visible within a miniature blizzard, a strange face seems to float disembodied, reminiscent of a stylized aboriginal mask of polished wood or bone, surrounded by a fringe of beaded white braids, with cold blue pinpoints of light in its dark eyeholes. A second glimpse reveals a tiny, emaciated body shrouded in diaphanous, tattered garments flitting wildly in the wind.
Wikipedia Entry on the Great Beasts wrote:
Kolomaq possesses energy welding powers but his main ability is to create blinding snowstorms. Seven pages of Alpha Flight issue 6 are white panels captioned with dialogue and narration. ...Kolomaq appears as a white Yeti-like creature with an angry totem mask as a face.

As much as I like the Herne, this just bothers me enough to not vote for this, sorry.

Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

These are well-conceived and solid monsters. As an added bonus, I can use all of these immediately in my desolate ice world homebrew.

The Herne is a lot of fun, and they possess just enough interesting abilities to put PCs on the defensive, especially with the advancements included. (I'm with Eric on the name, but then I'm not a classicist, I'm a purist.) Koloiaq are mechanically well-built and, though they don't catch me with the same wide-eyed appeal, there's nothing wrong with them. And the Tamurga -- disgorging swarms and swarm clouds and swallowing whole? Tasty and savage. I would use the Tamurga right now as is...and, in fact, may pit my hapless PCs against one very, very soon...(Mwahahahahaha!)


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Matthew Morris wrote:
As much as I like the Herne, this just bothers me enough to not vote for this, sorry.

Yeah, we'd hate for you to draw inspiration from somewhere...

I mean, I don't like things that are straight-ported into D&D, but if it's obscure enough and changed up a bit enough it's great. Like Christine's Theocracy of Carnamach - after a bit, I thought "Hey, that's kinda inspired by Princess Mononoke". But it's not a total rip, so fine. And in this case, Kolomaq was winter themed, but he was a huge ass muscled beast... http://image.comicvine.com/uploads/item/24000/23485/114432-kolomaq_400.jpg

It's not like the comics were shy about doing that to generate their villains... I still remember when Marvel was running so low on ideas that they would just name villains after whatever new song or whatnot was out. Foolkiller vs the Defenders, Brother Sun and Sister Moon vs Spider-Man...

Anyway, at worst a little bit of a name change to file the serial numbers off more and there's no problem here.

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

Ernest Mueller wrote:
Matthew Morris wrote:
As much as I like the Herne, this just bothers me enough to not vote for this, sorry.

Yeah, we'd hate for you to draw inspiration from somewhere...

[snip]

Anyway, at worst a little bit of a name change to file the serial numbers off more and there's no problem here.

I understand. and I don't want to, blatently, subtlely or otherwise accuse him of the big P word. It jsut disturbed me enough to knock it out of my top 3.


I'm not a big fan of this, but then I don't care much for Fey in general or for real-world mythology (especially the woefully overused pandora's box riff) popping up in my games.

The Ooze is interesting, but even with you 'encounters' section I'm finding it hard to picture it every actually attracting enough attention from my players to get them to actually encounter it.

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

Matthew Morris wrote:
Ernest Mueller wrote:
Matthew Morris wrote:
As much as I like the Herne, this just bothers me enough to not vote for this, sorry.

Yeah, we'd hate for you to draw inspiration from somewhere...

[snip]

Anyway, at worst a little bit of a name change to file the serial numbers off more and there's no problem here.

I understand. and I don't want to, blatently, subtlely or otherwise accuse him of the big P word. It jsut disturbed me enough to knock it out of my top 3.

All I can say at this point is that I will be happy to discuss design, inspiration, influences, and all of that once the voting period is over and we are allowed to say more than "hi" "thanks" and "vote for me"!

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

Jason Nelson 20 wrote:


All I can say at this point is that I will be happy to discuss design, inspiration, influences, and all of that once the voting period is over and we are allowed to say more than "hi" "thanks" and "vote for me"!

Sounds like a deal to me. I do wish you luck.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka Darkjoy

You've got my vote, clear presentation, good theme and basicly I get a cool vibe.


Nice, I like this entry. It's got the right feel for my games and also is clearly presented and well-written.
The Herne arne't that interesting for me.
The fey are really cool and will definitely see use in my games. I like fey, especially vaguely creepy ones and these are pretty damn good.
The ooze is okay (which is a compliment since I generally hate oozes and would never use them). The disgore swarm ability is a little odd for a creature of arctic environs. It fits from a theme standpoint but not really from an enviromental standpoint. How many worms are you going to find crawling on the ice?


I like this entry alot. The theme is nothing mind blowing, but it is executed so well, that it doesn't matter at all. I haven't really got much to add. I've been commenting on all the entries, and yours happened to be last, and I think I'm just all commented out. (There will be a few people IRL surprised I'm actually out of words).

But I think this is my favorite, and has definently got one of my votes. The three creatures can easily be dropped into any campaign, and I can't wait for my PCs to head into the mountains :)

Well Done.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Me like.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

sigh...I'm a sucker for winter-themed monsters..

this one may have my vote!

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015

The thematic link is a bit weak for my tastes. But...

I love the Herne. About as well done as this kind of creature can be, and I can see a solid night of adventuring with these fellows as the advesaries.

The other two are ok, but let me bring special attention to the tactics sections- I think you may have used these better than anyone. You could run any of these creatures well based on what you have here, and I think that's a big plus.

You hit a real highpoint with the Herne, I think. Nicely evocative.

Paizo Employee Senior Developer

My original, original idea for a theme was "cold," but I didn't get any farther than a note reading "some kind of ice fey - too close to Uldra?" So I was really interested in seeing what you did with it.

Well, you certainly went far beyond my embryonic thoughts - your Koloiaq are fey that are not at all close to the uldra. Very cool - I like the breath of hibernal dusk and snowmantle, and the tactics of using their spell-like abilities were very well done (excepting the use of "will" - like Erik, I think tactics should all be in present tense, but it's a minor quibble, really). I especially like the description in Habitat & Society about their little totem mask skulls, and why they're so spiteful. It's a tiny detail, but really flavorful and brings them alive.

I didn't want to like the Herne, at first. My first thought was the Cold Rider, as shown on Paizo's blog and in E1 Carnival of Tears. But lo and behold, other than a cold guy on a mount (which is just parallel design, IMO) the herne are completely different too. By the end, I loved it! It seems fey would be the obvious choice for type, but I like the idea of monstrous humanoids better. Curse of the winterthorn and harrowing horncall are very evocative, and I like the idea of riding winter wolves (it's an obvious choice, but my mind would immediately go to horses or stags instead, and winter wolves are obviously much cooler). Big kudos on the details for Herne Huntmasters for advancement, too. My only quibbles are the name (I didn't know the Wild Huntsman had a name, so Herne just sounded weird to me - calling them something as simple as Huntsman would be better), and the fact that I wish they were normal humanoids instead of monstrous, with a lower LA, so I could play one more easily (which really isn't a quibble at all).

And finally, we come to the tamurga, an ooze. How can I not love an ooze? The insect swarms are a great idea, and I like the flavor of a giant, noise-sensitive ooze that just wants to be left alone. This is a perfect fit for the Ooze Imperium's plot to oozify everything - how else can they turn arctic/tundra into ooze? - so I'm stealing it. Thanks!

Great job, congrats, and good luck!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Aotrscommander

Try a-freakin'-gain. Grr.

Nice intro, though I think you were laying on a just a tad thick there.

I liked the Herne as a mounted foe, but nothing else really caught me. I never been a fan of monsters of the Hunt (whatever vaguely unspecificed Hunt that may be), though yours is better than most.

The Koloiaq were mechanically nice, but you let me down on the fluff. Mischievous/vicious fey are so terribly cliche by this point, and I expected better from you! I'd have made them more organised, and maybe with a more interesting goal, like the spreading of winter or explugning fire from the world of something. As it is, theyre just more of the same tired old nuisence, albiet with some pretty sweet mechanics to back them up.

The Tamurga was a nice idea; I like the ooze plus swarm motief. I agree that the swarm breath needs a bit of clarification, but it was a novel idea. It did bug me (bwahahaha) though that it was a cold-based creature, as insects are not all that common Up North aside from in summer. A sentient swarm of vermin-ooze would have fitted in better ina clim more suited to insects (tropical or at least nontemperate). But a flavour nitpick only.

Collectively, the special ability names were pretty damaned awesome.

Nice job, but you didn't quite manage to claw a vote from my boney grasp this time around, despite coming very close.

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

Overall, a good solid entry. I had a few minor problems with the Herne, in that it had several abilities which automatically nerfed PC abilities. Hunter's eye automatically lets it identify druids, even if wild shaped? Shouldn't it instead give them a good bonus on spot vs. disguise against druids? Similarly, the Master Tracker ability completely ignores even magical efforts to obscure a trail? I'd prefer to have those magical abilities increase the DC to track by +10 or so, which would still let the Herne beat the ability, but not automatically. I'm just not a fan of powers that work automatically on something that a PC could have specialised on and wants to be good at - there should always be a roll, bonus, or penalty involved in my opinion.

The Koloiaq were aweseome - probably the best monster I've read in the contest so far (though I'm slow this round, still have lots to read.) Nothing to nitpick on, lots of flavor, and I like spiteful fey instead of goody-goody smurf fey that only help PCs.

The Tamurga was pedestrian. It was a big old ooze with a laundry list of powers, it seemed to have too much to easily run. However, that wasn't too much of a problem as many CR15 monsters have simliar long lists. My big issue was the cold combined with mosquito swarms. Maybe I'm off here on my real life knowledge, but I thought cold kills off mosquitos, and they only return in the spring when its warmed. Finally, the Tamurga has another, I Automatically Nerf Your Ability power, with inescapable grasp. This one was better than the Herne's since it still allowed some bonuses for having freedom of movement, and in a way it does the reverse, by foiling a PC ability that always works, so maybe it actually doesn't bother me upon reflection.

I'll have to read the rest of the entries, but you're at least a strong candidate for a vote.

EDIT: Is there some strange Paizo code that changes your avatar if you use the word 'smurf' in your post? Very cool! :)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Aotrscommander

Aotrscommander wrote:
Try a-freakin'-gain. Grr.

That comment was directed at the boards, by way, not you Jason! (It having eaten two posts in a row, the last time being the only time I forgot to copy the post first and the earlier because it didn't submit properly...)

I just realised, having checked the thread again and re-reading my post, that it might have sounded needlessly critical!

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

Aotrscommander wrote:
Aotrscommander wrote:
Try a-freakin'-gain. Grr.

That comment was directed at the boards, by way, not you Jason! (It having eaten two posts in a row, the last time being the only time I forgot to copy the post first and the earlier because it didn't submit properly...)

I just realised, having checked the thread again and re-reading my post, that it might have sounded needlessly critical!

I was a little taken aback. In the immortal words of Austin Powers: "Ouch, baby. Very ouch."

It's all right either way. I've found it amusing that each of the three monsters has had its lovers and its haters, some that think it's super-cool and others blah. I'm glad that the general consensus is positive, though, and encourage all bony (yours) and fleshy (everyone else's) fingers alike to vote for me!

Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
JoelF847 wrote:
Finally, the Tamurga has another, I Automatically Nerf Your Ability power, with inescapable grasp. This one was better than the Herne's since it still allowed some bonuses for having freedom of movement, and in a way it does the reverse, by foiling a PC ability that always works, so maybe it actually doesn't bother me upon reflection.

Well, it's nice to see turnabout for once.

Look at how many monsters have heinous abilities that all depend on a grapple or pin. And then consider how many high level parties will never be caught without freedom of movement. Since I try to keep some logic in my campaign, there is little most of these monsters can do about it, since I'm not going to give all of my monsters at-will rings of disjunction.

Kind of takes the wind out of the sails of many creatures, though.


well, although the monsters are kinda cool to use, the introduction didn`t grab me at all.
It starts like a christmas tale and doesn`t make me think of monsters at all. You might have wanted to show that contrast, but I would have liked a more precise introduction to those monster. The descriptions later are nice though.


Matthew Morris wrote:


Wikipedia Entry on the Great Beasts wrote:
Kolomaq possesses energy welding powers but his main ability is to create blinding snowstorms. Seven pages of Alpha Flight issue 6 are white panels captioned with dialogue and narration. ...Kolomaq appears as a white Yeti-like creature with an angry totem mask as a face.

Oh yeah, I remember that issue. Wish they'd compile those early issues of Alpha Flight. Good stuff.

Oh, and I love these monsters. Thank you for the ooze.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

The ooze is just a great monster to throw at a party in a cold environment. It's like a Winter Tendroculus.

The fey are also intriguing. They could be used in some atmospheric ways.

The Herne-inspired entry didn't work for me. I've seen several different interpretations and ways to use Herne and the Wild Hunt. This one just seems like another monster. Although you have some great imagery with the hanged men in a forlorn, frozen forest.

Also, there was one problem with the ooze. Insects and cold don't usually go together.

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