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Crysalis


Round 2 - Top 32: Create a monster concept

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Crysalis
Description: A crysalis is a lithe, segmented creature composed of layers of interwoven shards of living transparent crystal. Each serrated segment of radiant gems and minerals is supported by a pair of gleaming, razor-sharp legs.
Crysalises twist through the earth with the faint sound of breaking glass, following veins of precious minerals and lashing out at intruders. Devouring minerals, crysalises grow larger over the ages, adding new segments, until they are giant writhing creatures of flashing light and jagged edges.
After ages of growth, a crysalis ceases its wandering, and spins a golden cocoon of crystalline gossamer deep within the earth. When it emerges, it is transformed into an intricate sphere, an unstable nucleus of energy surrounded by a cloud of spinning woven crystal, alive only for days before shattering into nothing.
Powers and Abilities: A crysalis is fierce and vicious. It spirals up from the ground to blind, slash with legs, tail and mandibles, and spin back into the earth to dodge attacks. It can sense movement on the ground above and will strike anything it perceives invading its territory. In a cavern or on the surface, it will curl up into a sphere of barbed edges, hurling itself at its enemies, running down and crushing any in its path. By vibrating its body, a crysalis can shake loose thousands of crystals embedded in its shell, discharging a hail of needles in a flash of brilliant light.
At the end of its life, the crysalis metamorphoses into a sphere of jagged crystal shards, shining with a fierce light as it spins through the earth, searching for another of its kind. It will slice into anything in its way until it finds its mate and shatters apart, depositing its gemstone eggs into the earth.

Contributor

I like the description of this creature.

I do not like the name. It's clearly derived from "chrysalis," I'm sure it's pronounced the same, and the monster even makes a cocoon. When the GM says, "you see a giant chrysalis," I don't want players to ask, "do you mean the monster, or is it some kind of giant cocoon?"

The description of its transformation into an energy form ends abruptly, and you don't get the rest of the story until the end of the Powers section.

I like its attack methods, its senses, and its defenses.

Pathfinder Creative Director, Frog God Games

I also don't like the name, but that's all. Otherwise this monster captures something that has been tried before with limited success--a good gem monster. Sure you've got your golems and dragons, YAWN, but while gems are cool to find they usually suck as monsters. This quirky guy wouldn't want ot be overused, but it makes a nice unique encounter in a Darklands campaign. I'd hate to see what happens when it meets a xorn, though...messy.

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

I agree with Sean on the name. One of the sad truths about RPGs is that it robs words from your descriptive vocabulary. For example, you can't use the words chimera, evasion, or even - uh - fighter without them having specific implication in game. This is one of those cases, where it'd be preferable to keep "chrysalis" term with it's real world meaning and not confuse it with the monster.

Also, just to be clear here, it lives as a weird elemental caterpillar for a few ages then transforms into a cocoon and explodes. Suck for those guys.

This might be the only elemental creature in the group. Good choice. It's a fine break from all the aberrations.

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

Initial Impression: Gem monster. OK, I’m curious. Show me something...

Concept (name, overall design choices, design niche, playability/usability, challenge): C+
A good starting concept that you didn’t take to the next level. What does this thing do? What are its motivations? How do I use it? Why do the PCs encounter it? I have no real idea of its place on the power curve. Its final near death form seems pretty powerful. I’m left not knowing what this thing does or what it wants.

Execution (quality of writing, hook, theme, organization, use of proper format, world neutral, quality of mandatory content—description, summary of powers): C+
The powers, similarly, leave me wanting. Burrow, attack, burrow back down. Throw some crystal shards. The most interesting part of this creature is its end form it takes in the final days of life. There is not much new or interesting here, other than that “it’s a gem guy!”

Tilt (did it grab me, do I want to use one in an adventure?): C
Not Superstar. To my mind this creature only stands out, to the extent it does, because we had so many aberrations and weird, gross, messy monsters. This isn't one of those. But that is hardly enough to recommend it.

Overall: C+
The gem monster left me flat and had some glaring holes.

Recommendation: I DO NOT recommend this creature advance.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Hunt the Crysalis for wealth beyond your wildest imagination!

I look forward to reading everyone's comments and discussion. This was a really fun monster to create and I hope everyone enjoys the crysalis.

Vote early and vote often!

Qadira RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Tarren Dei

I'd like to find a nest of dozens of these creatures in cocoon form ready to explode if they are looked at the wrong way. I'd like the gems that one could gather in that nest to make it worth the risk for the stealthiest party member. I'd like them to fail and run like hell as the nest begins to pop.

That said, nothing in your description tells me that I'll see dozens of these creatures in the same cavern. I actually have no idea how large this is or how many there are. I need more.

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

How did the author respond to the challenge? Good balance of description and working out its physical details.

How does it stack up


  • as an opponent? A variety of attacks, potentially difficult to hit. I can see players having a lot of trouble with a group of these.
  • as something other than an opponent? Clearly sets out its origin, life cycle and personality.
  • in relation to other monsters? I can only think of a few similar mineral threats and this has its own distinct character.
  • in relation to the author's item? Quite different, though again drawing inspiration from real-world creatures.
  • in itself? Imagery is excellent. I have to say I have problems with its style in a number of places. I can see where he went with the name, though I'm not enthused by it.

I like the ideas in this, though enough to overlook the writing? We'll see.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Starglim wrote:


  • in itself? Imagery is excellent. I have to say I have problems with its style in a number of places. I can see where he went with the name, though I'm not enthused by it.
  • Yeah, I can see it being a bit rough in places, but it's also a pre-editor version. Its all there, I'm just afraid of the stat block taking up most of the page, as you'd need one before, and one after the transformation. What if someone attacks it when in its coccoon, is it the centipede, or the ball of light, or something in between?

    I really wonder what would happen if a ketapesh merchant found that one of his gems was really an egg for these guys though, and would her survive the experience?


    Clark Peterson wrote:
    What does this thing do? What are its motivations? How do I use it? Why do the PCs encounter it?
    Seth White wrote:
    Hunt the Crysalis for wealth beyond your wildest imagination!

    Seth, not to be a prissy-pants, but I wouldn't want you to run afoul of the rules... isn't that a clarification?

    RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 , Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Demiurge 1138

    There are a lot of crystal monsters. Not in the core, mind you, unless you're getting into psionics. But I've seen many a crystal creature in my day. Even another crystal caterpillar! The name does it no favors either. Chrysalises are a real thing, even if you take the h out.

    The abilities do stand out a bit, though. Not many crystal creatures can shoot out hails of needles, despite that being awesome. Nor have I seen many creatures, crystalline or not, that curl up into hedgehog balls and bowl over their enemies.

    Unfortunately, the writing does the creature few favors. This guy suffers from a surfeit of adjectives. So much so that it was a bit of a slog to get through. And judging from your wondrous item, I wouldn't have suspected you to have been one of the offenders there.

    So, in short, like the monster, don't like the name, and the writing style needs to be toned back down a bit. I'm not sure if you have my vote yet, but you do have my consideration.

    Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

    These guys seem like a thoqqua variant to me. I like them, but that would be the context I'd use them in.

    -Ben.


    It is nice to see an elemental,

    I have verisimilitude issues with the hordes of creatures that eat veins of metal, Delvers(kinda), Xorns, unless you have other creatures/effects that are creating metal won't you run out and make all the dwarves in your campaign world very depressed.

    I think with a different name this creature could make for some interesting adventure hooks involving gems, miners etc...

    Andoran Contributor, RPG Superstar 2012 , Star Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

    The name didn't bother me, and you have some evocative writing in this with some imaginative abilities. One issue I see is that you've described two monsters rather than one.


    Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

    The basic idea is strong and original - a gem creature and its life cycle, very cool. However, as Clark said - its powers (at least the ones that will be used in a confrontation/interaction with the PCs) are severely limited. You should probably have put more emphasis on that area, for example, make the creature turn into a stack of gems once the PCs kill it.

    As it is, I think there were stronger submissions this round, but I still wish you the best of luck.


    Seth White wrote:

    Crysalis

    cut for space

    This is the fifth monster that I am looking at. I do not read the comments below the entry before posting my opinion. An apology if this is duplicative of someone else’s entry, in part or whole.

    Oooh, a living crystal monster with razor-sharp legs. Cool. I like the novelty of it – it’s a bit different from other things. It burrows in the earth. It gets bigger as it gets older until one day – it blows apart into a storm of sharp-edged stuff. Neat. (Does this form its life-cycle and/or reproductive cycle?)

    Powers:
    *fierce and vicious (hm – perhaps better to skip hyperbole and go with word choices closer to its intended abilities?0
    *blind, spin, slash with legs, tail and mandibles (Starting to sound like a weird crossbreed between ground and insect – why is that? Why does it need mandibles? It could have multiple slashy attacks. That’s cool.)
    *spin back into the earth to dodge attacks (Uh, does it get extra actions? Hm. Not sure if this is a good idea.)
    *sense movement from belowground and attack (tremorsense, a Gotcha Monster)
    *turn into a sphere and crush people (how anime!)
    *throw off crystal needles (ah, okay, nasty, sharp, etc)
    *gets desperate just before death and gives off eggs (mm-kay)

    Summary: This starts off very promising, and then it starts to go into a few too many directions. Ultimately, it sounds like a Bakugon. I think however that there’s no justification for it being able to turn into a ball, and I’m surprised by how much that bugs me. Other than that, it has interesting stuff happening. I think it needs a little polish and work on actual mechanics. I’ll come back on this one when I make my final voting decisions since I like the visuals.

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

    F. Wesley Schneider wrote:

    I agree with Sean on the name. One of the sad truths about RPGs is that it robs words from your descriptive vocabulary. For example, you can't use the words chimera, evasion, or even - uh - fighter without them having specific implication in game. This is one of those cases, where it'd be preferable to keep "chrysalis" term with it's real world meaning and not confuse it with the monster.

    Also, just to be clear here, it lives as a weird elemental caterpillar for a few ages then transforms into a cocoon and explodes. Suck for those guys.

    Makes me think of cicadas, which pupate and mature in the ground for like 17 years and then bust out and live for one summer and die, and wow are they incredibly loud (none of them up here in WA, but I saw and heard em when I was living in Nashville, TN for a year).

    F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
    This might be the only elemental creature in the group. Good choice. It's a fine break from all the aberrations.

    Ironically, it seems like advice for future Superstar contestants might be to NOT go for gross-out, because gross-out itself has become overdone. Give us a cool SOMETHING monster that doesn't make us want to lose our lunch.

    The name is weak, but other than that I actually really like these guys. I like the crystal centipedes, I like the visual and the outline of their abilities. This thing is not supposed to be a well-rounded jack of all trades monster. Conceptually it's a xorn or a thoqqua in a rhinestone hat and that matures into a Rolling Crystal Ball of Death. What's its motivation? To burrow around, eat gems and crystals, mature, mate, and die. How does it do that? By grinding through the earth, popping out and slicing people up, blinding them with its inherent blingitude, and then burrowing back into the depths of the earth. It's a super-animal in gemstone form, which is a perfectly agreeable monster concept. I like the life-cycle description.

    Now, some notion of whether you can harvest loot from the dead monster might be nice, and whether the crystal monster can eat your gems or glass when it hits you might be good too. Does it sniff them out and come after them like a xorn would?

    P.S. My all-time favorite gem monster was the glitterhaunt that James wrote up years ago for the WotC website when he was doing a series of monsters for specific terrain types. I used that one and had good fun with it, including it killing a PC in most epic fashion, but she went down happily, drowning in shinies! If you're gonna go, whatta way to go!

    Overall: Pretty! I like it, I think its motivations are right about what they should be. The prose itself is so-so, overdone in places, but the monster and its powers seem straightforward, appropriate to the creature, and should be nice to use. I don't know if it's quite up to get a vote, but it's in my "I'll think about it" pile.

    Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

    Thank you everyone for your comments. I'm really enjoying the discussion and analysis. I can't respond to anything at this time, but thank you very much for your votes.

    Jason, your analysis of the monster was very thorough and great for me as a designer to read.

    I look forward to seeing more comments, criticism and questions about the crysalis. It's a great honor and pleasure being part of this contest.


    Praise:
    This is, as Clark might say, "ganzo". This is, IMO, among only a handful of entries in terms of that all important "Superstar" quality. It's simple, concise, and original. Essential qualities for RPG writing. Some people go for lavish excessive description, hoping to overwhelm the reader. You go for a subtle elegance, saying exactly what you need to, without being short or sparse. I liked(but not loved) your squid thing, if only because I am a big squid fan, but this has definitely shown you deserved this spot.

    Concerns:
    The name could be seen by some as generic. Personally, it conjures the appropriate imagery. I love crystals, and "Crystalis" is one of my classic NES favorites. But this could be personal bias, the name is not the most original part of this. Other than that, my only criticism is that you came very far, and played it safe. This could have been a world ender, or at least a city ender, but it just dissipates quietly into the earth, leaving behind a brood. I would take it a step further. This thing, in it's final days, consumes a critical mass of ore and earth, creating sinkholes and tremors. Finally, it goes supernova, blowing a huge hole in the earth. The PCs have to stop it, but how do you stop a natural disaster? Without that, this falls into a category with the bulette and similar nasty-but-not-evil creatures, and is a lair guardian or a nuisance. Perhaps an evil nasty wizard's tool of destruction(but what isn't?)

    Overall:
    That said, the bulette is one of my favorite creatures, and this is a hell of a nuisance. It's nice to have a neutral threat sometimes, that isn't part of a worldwide conspiracy. A monster is eating all the local ore and the miners are going out of business. It's even eaten a few. Low level adventures could have the PCs retrieving an egg for study, and high level adventurers could face a formidable ages old behemoth. The description is fantastic, this thing is terrible and beautiful at the same time. The creativity is there, the writing is there. Well done sir.


    The entry goes into a good deal of detail about the life-cycle of this creature, but doesn't give any indication if it has intelligence or does much apart from eat and grow (or fight if something invades whatever it currently considers its territory).
    I also can find no indication of the size/scale of the energy sphere that emerges from the coccoon stage. Is this thing the size of a halfling, and simply a threat to any creature it comes across, or the size of a modest dragon, setting forests on fire and levelling villages?
    From a stat block point of view, it seems to me you might need to indicate several growth stages of the 'segmented' phase, and produce a different stat block for the energy sphere phase.

    From the information supplied, a crysalis appears to be something most likely encountered at random. It has no goals or concerns beyond eat, grow, metamorphose, reproduce, die. It has no minions or treasure beyond what surviving crystals might be picked from the wreckage of the body.

    My overall impression is of an elemental version of a wild animal hazard creature. It doesn't do much, although some thought has been put into devising a combat routine that makes sense.

    Thank you for submitting this entry.


    Seth White wrote:

    Crysalis

    I don't like that this is a multisectioned worm.

    That is just too videogamey for me. (I can think of zelda, bomberman, mario, and countless others featuring something like this)
    I simply don't get the vibe, why this should make for a memorable and interesting encounter.

    I don't like that it is a bunch of crystals and gems.

    This confronts you with either the problem of flashing the corpse away ( and leaving chunks as treasure), or with your players trying to cart a 10 ton beast of gems to town and sell it.

    I do like that to stick to your theme and make the best of it. Your creature is vividly described and all its powers and its behavior are believable and feel like one big whole ( except for the dying part, i simple don't get it)

    But the dislikes are too strong for me to consider this for a vote.
    Sorry.
    I hope you get your votes nevertheless.
    Good Luck

    Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

    caith wrote:

    Praise:

    This is, as Clark might say, "ganzo". This is, IMO, among only a handful of entries in terms of that all important "Superstar" quality. It's simple, concise, and original. Essential qualities for RPG writing. Some people go for lavish excessive description, hoping to overwhelm the reader. You go for a subtle elegance, saying exactly what you need to, without being short or sparse. I liked(but not loved) your squid thing, if only because I am a big squid fan, but this has definitely shown you deserved this spot.

    Thank you for your comments. I hope I got your vote. I really enjoyed coming up with this monster and I hope people will get a chance to use it in their campaigns. Thanks!

    Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

    Charles Evans 25 wrote:

    The entry goes into a good deal of detail about the life-cycle of this creature, but doesn't give any indication if it has intelligence or does much apart from eat and grow (or fight if something invades whatever it currently considers its territory).

    I also can find no indication of the size/scale of the energy sphere that emerges from the coccoon stage. Is this thing the size of a halfling, and simply a threat to any creature it comes across, or the size of a modest dragon, setting forests on fire and levelling villages?
    From a stat block point of view, it seems to me you might need to indicate several growth stages of the 'segmented' phase, and produce a different stat block for the energy sphere phase.

    From the information supplied, a crysalis appears to be something most likely encountered at random. It has no goals or concerns beyond eat, grow, metamorphose, reproduce, die. It has no minions or treasure beyond what surviving crystals might be picked from the wreckage of the body.

    My overall impression is of an elemental version of a wild animal hazard creature. It doesn't do much, although some thought has been put into devising a combat routine that makes sense.

    Thank you for submitting this entry.

    Thanks for the break-down, with your criticism and concerns. I really value the comments of the community. I greatly appreciate the time spent reviewing this entry.

    Star Voter 2013

    Something that destroys gems and minerals. Unless they are exceptionally rare, this kind of creature ruins the implied economic system of the game, which is based off precious metals. Basically, this thing's either been hunted near extinction or you have to center your campaign around its effects. Since there's not much interactivity or intelligence to the creature, it's going to be a sop to players of druids and dwarves and dwarven druids.

    Shadow Lodge Star Voter 2013

    I can see this creature living on the Elemental Plane of Earth, where it's food supply is constantly "regrowing." The accidental trip to the Material Plane turns into a vacation for "exotic foods."

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

    I have mixed feelings on this. While I like that it's different from most monsters, and works in a relatively open space - the crystal monster niche, I felt that the end of it's life cycle was a bit of a letdown. It goes through it's whole life, eating crystals and gems, growing, then it cocoons, and transforms, and then....it's a interesting sounding crystal energy sphere, which then dies after a few days. While this might mimic the natural life cycle of many insects, from a monster, I want something that has an evolution into something cool that can be a mature version that is usable on its own. Similar to how a nabasu or bhargest eats, feeds, grows, and then ends up as a more powerful version that can be used on its own as a monster.

    In addition, not knowing how large or intelligent it is makes it harder to visualize as well as think about how you could use in adventures. Is it animal like? Can it be tamed? Is it intelligent and therefore ally with other creatures?

    While I like this monster better than some I've read in R2, I'm only 4 in so far, so I expect that others will beat this out for my vote.

    RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka Epic Meepo

    My thoughts on the crysalis...

    The Name: I'm not particularly fond of singular, real-world words used as monster names.

    The Description: I believe this monster could have benefited from a few more words devoted to its size and intelligence. As is, I'm not sure I can pin those down. Beyond that, I have the same problem with this monster that I have with all monsters made of valuable materials: I need to know what happens to all of the valuable materials when the monster dies. Presumably, adventurers will want to salvage them.

    The Powers: I like the powers of this monster. They give it some interesting options in combat without going overboard, and all spiral nicely into the monster's theme.

    The Buzz: In another thread, some posters were chiding a contestant for describing a juvenile monster without describing its adult form. I'm going to have to chide the crysalis for doing the exact opposite. The adult form of the crysalis described herein would clearly have different stats than a larval crysalis. As a result, this entry seems dangerously close to a description of two (related) monsters instead of a single monster.

    The Vote: The crysalis has a decent set of powers and an okay description, but I'm a bit put off by the way an adult form of the crysalis is included in this entry. Several other entries this round present stronger concepts, and do so without adding a bonus second monster into the mix. Accordingly, I will not be voting for the crysalis.

    Osirion

    Seth White wrote:
    Crysalises twist through the earth with the faint sound of breaking glass, following veins of precious minerals and lashing out at intruders. It spirals up from the ground to blind, slash with legs, tail and mandibles, and spin back into the earth to dodge attacks.

    I find these two sentences especially evocative, and am 'seeing' this creature in my head as not just large, but also inhumanly fast and graceful, slashing through the air, and twisting through the earth.

    I'm not in love with that name, but that's a minor quibble.

    The sentence about the metamorphosis in the first section really felt out of place, and the entire bit should have been kept together at the end of the second section, IMO.

    On the one hand, this critter isn't hugely different, niche-wise, than a Purple Worm, and being made out of crystal isn't a big difference, other than cosmetically. On the other hand, the metamorphosis (and replacing the poison sting with a shower of crystalline spikes from its hide) take it to a whole new place, and make it much more interesting than the Purple Worm (as well as possibly tie it into the Elemental Plane of Earth).

    At this point, I'm in love with this creature for an assortment of reasons, but I'll admit that some of those reasons are for what it is *not.* It isn't dripping anything noisome. It doesn't have tentacles. It doesn't have exposed flesh or a stench of decay. It doesn't lay eggs or larvae in living creatures. It doesn't resemble a human bodily organ. It doesn't feed off of thoughts or fear or dying breaths. It doesn't splorch acid all over someone and then slurp up their dissolved remains. There's no 'gross' here, just something elegant, beautiful and coldly deadly. Nice!

    Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

    Set wrote:
    Seth White wrote:
    Crysalises twist through the earth with the faint sound of breaking glass, following veins of precious minerals and lashing out at intruders. It spirals up from the ground to blind, slash with legs, tail and mandibles, and spin back into the earth to dodge attacks.

    I find these two sentences especially evocative, and am 'seeing' this creature in my head as not just large, but also inhumanly fast and graceful, slashing through the air, and twisting through the earth.

    I'm not in love with that name, but that's a minor quibble.

    The sentence about the metamorphosis in the first section really felt out of place, and the entire bit should have been kept together at the end of the second section, IMO.

    On the one hand, this critter isn't hugely different, niche-wise, than a Purple Worm, and being made out of crystal isn't a big difference, other than cosmetically. On the other hand, the metamorphosis (and replacing the poison sting with a shower of crystalline spikes from its hide) take it to a whole new place, and make it much more interesting than the Purple Worm (as well as possibly tie it into the Elemental Plane of Earth).

    At this point, I'm in love with this creature for an assortment of reasons, but I'll admit that some of those reasons are for what it is *not.* It isn't dripping anything noisome. It doesn't have tentacles. It doesn't have exposed flesh or a stench of decay. It doesn't lay eggs or larvae in living creatures. It doesn't resemble a human bodily organ. It doesn't feed off of thoughts or fear or dying breaths. It doesn't splorch acid all over someone and then slurp up their dissolved remains. There's no 'gross' here, just something elegant, beautiful and coldly deadly. Nice!

    Thanks for the great comments Set, and I hope I get your vote.

    I'm grateful for all comments and critiques people have. I look forward to contributing to the discussion when voting is done. It's an honor to be part of this contest, and I hope everyone is enjoying the monsters we've submitted.

    Osirion

    Crysalis...Crystalis The second might be a better choice if you stat it up.

    I like this creature, but I don't like the "it lives as larvae for a long time, then cocoons and dies quickly after metamorphisizing." That makes it seem more like a bug than an elemental.

    I don't see this like a purple worm at all. It has ranged attacks, defensive maneuvers (porcupine ball), isn't poisonous, and as far as I can tell, doesn't swallow PCs with an insane CMB/CMD.

    As for why PCs would meet up with it: dungeon random encounters, something dwarves put in to protect an unused mine, or just something that PCs go hunting after. Definately needs its weight and gem type (or similar price value) in the write-up.

    Good luck, and you're in the running for my vote!

    Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

    Deidre Tiriel wrote:

    Crysalis...Crystalis The second might be a better choice if you stat it up.

    I like this creature, but I don't like the "it lives as larvae for a long time, then cocoons and dies quickly after metamorphisizing." That makes it seem more like a bug than an elemental.

    I don't see this like a purple worm at all. It has ranged attacks, defensive maneuvers (porcupine ball), isn't poisonous, and as far as I can tell, doesn't swallow PCs with an insane CMB/CMD.

    As for why PCs would meet up with it: dungeon random encounters, something dwarves put in to protect an unused mine, or just something that PCs go hunting after. Definately needs its weight and gem type (or similar price value) in the write-up.

    Good luck, and you're in the running for my vote!

    Thanks for the comments Diedre Tiriel. I hope I get your vote!

    Star Voter 2013

    "A crysalis is a lithe, segmented creature composed of layers of interwoven shards of living transparent crystal. Each serrated segment of radiant gems and minerals is supported by a pair of gleaming, razor-sharp legs. " Nice description of a bejeweled crystalline centipede

    "Crysalises twist through the earth ..."Spinning twist or sidewinder twist?

    "... and lashing out at intruders." might have worked this in elsewhere

    "adding new segments, until they are giant ..." so what size is giant? A non-dnd giant centipedes are maybe 2 feet long

    "spins a golden cocoon of crystalline gossamer deep within the earth." why does it have to be a spun cocoon?

    "When it emerges, it is transformed into an intricate sphere.. before shattering into nothing" look out for the bejeweled treasure bomb

    "A crysalis is fierce and vicious." Why is it is fierce and vicious?

    "It spirals up from the ground to blind, slash with legs, tail and mandibles, and spin back into the earth to dodge attacks." how does it blind? It has a tail and mandibles? It slashes with it's mandibles?

    "It can sense movement on the ground above and will strike anything it perceives invading its territory." I might have put this in the description

    "In a cavern or on the surface, it will curl up into a sphere of barbed edges, hurling itself at its enemies, running down and crushing any in its path." seems awkward. If Im understanding this sentence correctly it rolls itself up as an attack sonic the hedgehog style

    "By vibrating its body, a crysalis can shake loose thousands of crystals embedded in its shell, discharging a hail of needles in a flash of brilliant light." Thousands! Why does it flash? why doesnt it flash when it does the hurling roll attack

    Seems like solid concept. I see this as a 'filler encounter' but not a 'boss'. It also doesnt have a lot of hooks other than the elder gem bomb, which would be very limited hook wise.

    Paizo Employee Developer

    My main problems with this are its name (I know, not an original criticism) and it's weird life cycle. I love that it's a unique, gem-based earth elemental with a distinctive appearance. I actually really like the means of attack, and even its mating patterns, though the simple explosion into nothingness doesn't make sense. Why would a creature do that? I hope to see this get statted up in future rounds (because I want to use it in a game) so best of luck to you. I hope voters can look past the name and pick this one to move on.

    RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Orange Toque

    Does it grab me visually: I liked all of the description for this until you got to the adult stage. I would have been happy if the just grew into massive gem caterpillar. I love the ball of crushing crystals attack.

    Would I use it in game: I can see this as a random encounter. Not sure that it would be a good adventure hook, because it would be difficult to track as it burrows through the earth. My big concern is what happens to all those gems after the creature is killed. That’s a lot of jewelry to just hand out.

    Would my players enjoy an encounter with it: If they get to keep all those gems that make up the creature, yes. A fight with this can be fairly annoying as it keeps burrowing and popping up to attack.

    Osirion RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka flash_cxxi

    Not a fan of the name, but love the creature. It's done well but I'd like to hear a little more about the thing that emerges from the cocoon though.

    I'm going to put this into my Keep pile for the moment.
    Good Luck! :)

    Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

    Thanks to everyone for the excellent comments and discussion.

    It was difficult to not respond, but I really appreciate all the great questions, analysis, and criticism of this monster I designed.

    I hope that I won your votes and I look forward to seeing what the future rounds hold. Whether I progress to round 3 or not, I'm excited about this contest and look forward to seeing what's next.

    There were many great entries, and I feel honored to be among some really good designers. Best of luck to everyone. It's been a lot of fun so far!

    Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

    I'd like to thank everyone for your comments. I have gone through some of the discussions and added my thoughts. I haven't had time to reply to everyone yet, but I hope I can touch on some of the key comments.

    Sean K Reynolds wrote:

    I like the description of this creature.

    I do not like the name. It's clearly derived from "chrysalis," I'm sure it's pronounced the same, and the monster even makes a cocoon. When the GM says, "you see a giant chrysalis," I don't want players to ask, "do you mean the monster, or is it some kind of giant cocoon?"

    Lesson learned: Don't name a creature (or any game element) after something real. I think just about every comment said something about the name, and I'm sure that really hurt because the name is probably the most important thing. I was going for descriptive and I ended up at confusing/uncreative.

    F. Wesley Schneider wrote:


    Also, just to be clear here, it lives as a weird elemental caterpillar for a few ages then transforms into a cocoon and explodes. Suck for those guys.

    This might be the only elemental creature in the group. Good choice. It's a fine break from all the aberrations.

    Yes, I wanted it to not only somewhat mimic real life, but I wanted to give it a sense of urgency in its end days. I also wanted to include every aspect of its nature in the description: what it eats, where it lives, how it reproduces, how it dies. I don't think of it as sucking. It lives, it fulfills its purpose, and it dies.

    Avoiding undead and aberrations was intentional. I wanted something that was deadly, but beautiful; vicious, but not malicious. It lives and dies, destroying things in its path, not out of malice, but out of a desire to reproduce. It is light and beauty and wealth, but it is, by its very nature, cruel and jealous and greedy.

    Clark Peterson wrote:

    Initial Impression: Gem monster. OK, I’m curious. Show me something...

    Concept (name, overall design choices, design niche, playability/usability, challenge): C+
    A good starting concept that you didn’t take to the next level. What does this thing do? What are its motivations? How do I use it? Why do the PCs encounter it? I have no real idea of its place on the power curve. Its final near death form seems pretty powerful. I’m left not knowing what this thing does or what it wants.

    Size:

    I implied rather than stating their size. They are first encountered as creatures large enough to be capable of "running down and crushing any in its path," and then grow "larger over the ages, adding new segments, until they are giant writhing creatures," and then transform into "an intricate sphere, an unstable nucleus of energy surrounded by a cloud of spinning woven crystal."
    I thought that I conveyed that they began pretty big--bigger than a human -- and grew larger over time, until they were "giant writhing creatures." I assumed common sense would dictate that a "giant writhing creature" was pretty big. I tried to avoid specific game terms like "gigantic" or "colossal", but I see that I should have been more clear in describing its size. My intention was that it would start at huge size and grow to colossal size.

    Motivations and hooks for players:
    I didn't specifically state that it's from another plane (quasi-elemental plane of Mineral if it exists in the campaign; otherwise plane of Earth works fine), but it's obvious the creature is an elemental (eats minerals, earth glide, tremorsense). When something alien is brought into another ecology, it is by its very nature hostile. Its motivation is to consume minerals, following veins of precious minerals through the earth. This instantly causes conflict with civilization, as these things eat precious metals and gems, the most valuable commodity and the basis of economics.

    It also rewards anyone who hunts them, since the thing is made of gems. "Treasure Monster" is enough hook for many PCs. A "gemstone egg" could easily be found or given to PCs, transforming into a juvenile crysalis.

    The thing in general is just territorial so it can attack anyone who happens to be wandering around underground (adventurers). And the elder crysalis is a ticking time bomb whirling through the earth, looking for another of its kind to explode around. And the

    For hooks I had:

    1. it eats treasure, coming into conflict with miners and treasure troves
    2. it's made of treasure, which means it's hunted
    3. its eggs are gemstones that can hatch
    4. it's fiercely territorial
    5. it's a ticking time bomb at the end of its life, and its drawn to others of its kind

    I cut the following hook because it wasn't setting-neutral, and it was a bit too specific for the monster entry: In some places, deep gnomes (or dwarves) domesticate the creatures and use them to find new veins of precious metals and harvest the gems that grow off their backs -- almost like underground sheep. They have no idea what they turn into after they metamorpihize, nor do they know the crysalises they keep are magnets for any elder ones that exist.

    Clark Peterson wrote:


    Execution (quality of writing, hook, theme, organization, use of proper format, world neutral, quality of mandatory content—description, summary of powers): C+
    The powers, similarly, leave me wanting. Burrow, attack, burrow back down. Throw some crystal shards. The most interesting part of this creature is its end form it takes in the final days of life. There is not much new or interesting here, other than that “it’s a gem guy!”

    The powers I called out were:

    1. "spirals up from the ground"
    2. "blinds" with "flashing light"
    3. "lashes with legs, tail and mandibles"
    4. "spin back into the earth to dodge attacks"
    5. "sense movement on the ground" (tremorsense)
    6. "curl up into a sphere of barbed edges"/"running down and crushing any in its path"
    7. "discharging a hail of needles in a flash of brilliant light"

    In its end phase:
    1. "unstable nucleus of energy surrounded by a cloud of spinning woven crystal"
    2. "shining with a fierce light"
    3. "spins"/"slice into anything in its way"
    4. "shatters apart"

    varianor wrote:


    I think however that there’s no justification for it being able to turn into a ball, and I’m surprised by how much that bugs me. Other than that, it has interesting stuff happening. I think it needs a little polish and work on actual mechanics

    I was using the real-life pillbug (and to a lesser extent, armadillo) as inspiration for curling up into a sphere. I felt this armored segmented creature could also curl up, except instead of it being merely defensive, it could roll over the PCs Indiana Jones-style.

    Jason Nelson wrote:


    Makes me think of cicadas, which pupate and mature in the ground for like 17 years and then bust out and live for one summer and die, and wow are they incredibly loud (none of them up here in WA, but I saw and heard em when I was living in Nashville, TN for a year).

    This was a key part of the concept. I really like this part of the monster. Live a long time, then change into something new with one driving goal.

    I toyed around with the monster being a sleeper agent for good, that lived ages as a mindless monster, and then when the stars aligned, it transformed into a radiant creature to accomplish one task it was pre-ordained to complete.

    This idea had glaring inconsistencies though, so I axed it and happily settled on its overwhelming drive to spawn. I really like that it dies giving birth to its young in a destructive blast of energy and crystals.

    Jason Nelson wrote:


    Now, some notion of whether you can harvest loot from the dead monster might be nice, and whether the crystal monster can eat your gems or glass when it hits you might be good too. Does it sniff them out and come after them like a xorn would?

    I felt that it was implied that the gemstone creature would give out gems as loot, but I could have been more clear.

    I didn't think of the idea of it eating glass or gems when it strikes you, but I really like that. Maybe its light attack metabolizes gems and glass, sundering them when it strikes, which would make them easier for the monster to later consume.

    I didn't want to give the impression I was copying the xorn, so I didn't say anything about sniffing out the treasure PCs carry, though it probably would be able to detect it, as it follows precious minerals to feed on.

    caith wrote:


    Other than that, my only criticism is that you came very far, and played it safe. This could have been a world ender, or at least a city ender, but it just dissipates quietly into the earth, leaving behind a brood. I would take it a step further. This thing, in it's final days, consumes a critical mass of ore and earth, creating sinkholes and tremors. Finally, it goes supernova, blowing a huge hole in the earth. The PCs have to stop it, but how do you stop a natural disaster? Without that, this falls into a category with the bulette and similar nasty-but-not-evil creatures, and is a lair guardian or a nuisance. Perhaps an evil nasty wizard's tool of destruction(but what isn't?)

    I failed to convey the size and potential for destruction the elder version of the monster has. That was my own short-coming. I should have been more clear about that.

    I see it as very much a high-level threat that could threaten a dwarven city, or even a surface village. It is drawn to another of its kind, which it destroys when it explodes, so the hatchling the wizard stole could draw it to the city. Or the large gemstone given to the king as tribute by a conquered foe. Why did Baron Kuvass gift the king with such an exquisite gemstone obviously worth a fortune?

    Azmahel wrote:


    I don't like that it is a bunch of crystals and gems.

    This confronts you with either the problem of flashing the corpse away ( and leaving chunks as treasure), or with your players trying to cart a 10 ton beast of gems to town and sell it.

    I intended to have the creature give out level-appropriate amount of treasure when it dies that can literally be carved from its body (naturally scaling with level as it grows larger). It is not all solid rubies. It is a mass of crystals, mineral, and gems fused together. But a certain amount of gemstone treasure can be harvested from its corpse, calling for a few appropriate skills to appraise or hack away the treasure. Craft gem-cutting, or the like, would allow a PC to gain a little more wealth than normal, but recognizing that few PCs will have that skill it won't be necessary to get a good level-appropriate haul from the monster.

    Joel Flank wrote:
    I have mixed feelings on this. While I like that it's different from most monsters, and works in a relatively open space - the crystal monster niche, I felt that the end of it's life cycle was a bit of a letdown. It goes through it's whole life, eating crystals and gems, growing, then it cocoons, and transforms, and then....it's a interesting sounding crystal energy sphere, which then dies after a few days. While this might mimic the natural life cycle of many insects, from a monster, I want something that has an evolution into something cool that can be a mature version that is usable on its own. Similar to how a nabasu or bhargest eats, feeds, grows, and then ends up as a more powerful version that can be used on its own as a monster.

    A monster doesn't have to live long in game terms to make a very vivid and powerful encounter. In fact, most encounters last less than a minute.

    The lifespan of the elder crysalis can be a century, a decade, a day, or an hour. It doesn't matter as long as it fulfills the needs of the adventure. A meteor that will crash onto the planet may only impact the planet for a split-second, but the repercussions and the suspense leading up to that impact are far greater than that one event.

    An elder crysalis on a crash-course with the ancient dwarven citadel of Nordurhel doesn't need to survive longer than a few days if at the end of those days it explodes within the walls of the dwarven hall.

    Thanks everyone for you comments and votes. Your analysis gave me some good ideas moving forward and advice on how to avoid pitfalls in future designs. I'm very pleased with this monster, but there are a few things I would change now having seen the criticism: a new name, clearer description of size and intelligence, more emphasis on some of the more interesting powers (such as its light attack), and more space devoted to its motivations, plot hooks and what happens in regards to treasure.

    I hope this gives you some of the thoughts behind my entry, and I hope that it gives you all ideas on how to use this monster if you choose to include it in your campaign.

    I'm avoiding any stats or any specific game mechanics to avoid any problems if somehow I progress to the next round. I plan on statting up the monster after round 3 is complete, so as not to steal the thunder from the top 16.

    Thanks!


    Seth White wrote:
    ...It lives and dies, destroying things in its path, not out of malice, but out of a desire to reproduce. It is light and beauty and wealth, but it is, by its very nature, cruel and jealous and greedy...

    And that practically poetic piece would have looked so good in your actual Description...

    Hmm. Well best of luck with next year if you advance not further this time.


    Commiserations.

    Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

    Charles Evans 25 wrote:
    Seth White wrote:
    ...It lives and dies, destroying things in its path, not out of malice, but out of a desire to reproduce. It is light and beauty and wealth, but it is, by its very nature, cruel and jealous and greedy...

    And that practically poetic piece would have looked so good in your actual Description...

    Hmm. Well best of luck with next year if you advance not further this time.

    Thanks for all your comments, Charles. I learned a lot from these rounds in the contest, and it was a lot of fun. Hopefully I'll get another shot next year.


    Well, Matthew Morris has proved it's possible to do it two years running, so maybe... ;)

    Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

    Charles Evans 25 wrote:

    Well, Matthew Morris has proved it's possible to do it two years running, so maybe... ;)

    Absolutely! +1

    Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

    Hey Seth, I found your explanation of your creature made it make a lot more sense to me. I can see what you were trying to do. It is always interesting to see what others make of each of the phrases we use in our description. I hope you give the next RPG Superstar a go, if you make something even close to the cool factor of your squid ship, I'm sure you will have two RPG Super Star tags after your name.

    Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

    Matt Goodall wrote:
    Hey Seth, I found your explanation of your creature made it make a lot more sense to me. I can see what you were trying to do. It is always interesting to see what others make of each of the phrases we use in our description. I hope you give the next RPG Superstar a go, if you make something even close to the cool factor of your squid ship, I'm sure you will have two RPG Super Star tags after your name.

    Thanks Matt.

    I'm really looking forward to seeing the unveiling of the stats for the <redacted> in the next couple hours.


    Umm, officially until the Round 3 entries go up apart from the judges and any contestant who statted a *censored*, we don't know if anyone did stat a *censored* up.

    Edit:
    Smurf. I'm probably overthinking here, but my point is we don't know for certain what has been statted until the Round 3 entries are posted.

    Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

    Charles Evans 25 wrote:

    Umm, officially until the Round 3 entries go up apart from the judges and any contestant who statted a *censored*, we don't know if anyone did stat a *censored* up.

    Edit:
    Smurf. I'm probably overthinking here, but my point is we don't know for certain what has been statted until the Round 3 entries are posted.

    Good point.

    It will be really interesting to see what monsters got statted up.

    tick tock tick tock.


    I have to say that I am interested in how you'll stat this one up.

    I did not vote for it (Sorry), but as I noted in the voting thread, it was the next one on my list and I think I might use a variety of this in a game I may run in a desert cave.

    After reading your responses, I enjoyed the creature a whole lot more because I could understand it better.

    (I had no problem with the name.)

    Still, even with a party that lacks gem-cutting, what is to stop them from dragging the monster back to town in a cart? Or stuffing the entire thing in a bag of holding?

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