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RPG Superstar 2015

Sensory Stalker


Round 2 - Top 32: Create a monster concept

Dark Archive RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015 aka Boxhead

Sensory Stalker

Description: A two foot long beetle-like creature scurries through its victim’s peripheral vision, but disappears when the viewer tries to focus on it. A distant dripping sound slowly escalates into footsteps, even though the listener is alone. The distracting fragrance of a lover, now long since dead, pervades the room, though no one else seems to notice...these are the signs of a sensory stalker.

This outsider appears as a hideous insect with a glossy carapace that shimmers with a myriad of colours. A pair of whip-like antennae sprout from its head, lashing with terrific speed. Its long spidery legs end in hard talons. It is rarely seen however, as it normally exists as a ghost-like presence on the fringes of a creature’s senses. A fleeting glimpse or distant clatter of legs is all the warning it gives its victims. These creatures feed on powerful feelings and extreme sensations, often pushing their victims so far into extreme experiences that they go insane.

Powers and Abilities: This creature is usually incorporeal and invisible, lurking on or near a potential victim. It can manifest itself to be tangible to any of the five senses: sight, smell, hearing, touch or taste. These "phantom" sensations slowly drive the victim mad as they relive vivid memories and experience growing paranoia. The creature can also manifest fully when threatened, lashing out with full force using its antennae to amplify its assault against a victim’s senses, causing blindness, deafness, nausea or even pain.

Contributor

Hmm, another R2 monster that feeds on psychic stuff. Strange how certain themes are common in each competition. :)

Incorporeal and invisible monsters are really hard to kill and can be very frustrating to PCs.

Adjudicating how this creature works (as it usually only "manifests" to one sense at a time) is going to be a pain in the butt.

I also wonder how it kills someone who's trying to kill it... can it bite? Or is it limited to attacking the senses?

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

This seems like a tricky one, and is probably a good example of how some ideas that are cool in your head, movies, or fiction don't make the best creatures in RPGs. I can't think of any non-NPC Bestiary monsters I'd call subtle, which is what I think this guy is going for. I'm not saying that a clever designer can't pull this one off, but anything that is intended to "slowly drive the victim mad" is going to be a trick.

This also reminds me a little of the "inviso-beetle," a concept proposed to fill a CR gap in the 3.0 MM, but never quite materialized - for one reason or another.

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

Initial Impression: Illusory senses bug. I’m worried about this one.

Concept (name, overall design choices, design niche, playability/usability, challenge): B-
This is a big idea with little execution. You nailed a big core concept, but I don’t think you developed it. I get the sense you didn’t have enough time. Slow drive to madness? Just how do the PCs fight this thing? And why would it attack them? You’ve made some poor design choices here. I don’t see this as a very playable or usable monster. This is a random throw-in monster, or perhaps a story hook. I just don’t think you ever actually found this monster. To really design a monster pitch you have to think of it as more than an idea. You have to think of mechanically what it would do. I don’t think you’ve done that. You certainly don’t convey to me in your pitch that you could even stat this up.

Execution (quality of writing, hook, theme, organization, use of proper format, world neutral, quality of mandatory content—description, summary of powers): C
Invisible and incorporeal are convenient tricks to not have to really do much work on a creature. They also generally aren’t fun. The other powers are very strange. I can’t even conceive of how you will do them–manifesting to one sense at a time, drive mad, etc. Poor execution.

Tilt (did it grab me, do I want to use one in an adventure?): C
This monster doesn’t excite me.

Overall: C+
The bug fails to deliver, with wonky implied mechanics and lack of a design core.

Recommendation: I DO NOT recommend this creature advance.

Pathfinder Creative Director, Frog God Games

This guy seems like an ongoing trap that a nasty wizard would put into his citadel to cause intruders to continually make Will saves--at least until they cast mind blank. As a monster, though, it would be tough to present as an encounter.


I think the impressive description hooked me on this monster, even though I have very little patience with "It feeds on fear" type critters.

I think the mechanics would take a very ingenious approach lest the monster be either A) impossible/irritating, or B) irrelevant dependant on the level of the party.

Might get my vote, if only because I think stats for the creatures is round 3 and I'd like to see if this delivers.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I like this monster. It would definitely have to be used in service to the story, but I don't see that as a draw back.

As for how it would work in an encounter, I see it really being a function of the DM's imagination. In addition to adding a psychological component to the battle the monster also possess lethal abilities. Extreme pain can easily incapacitate, or even kill people. When mucking around with peoples vision, it's quite conceivable for them to accidently turn on each other, especially after being set on edge.

I can see myself using this in my campaigns. I always enjoy adding some horror elements to my games, It allows for some GREAT role-playing.

This definitely has one of my votes. I'm very interested in seeing what else comes from this contestants mind.

Dark Archive RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015 aka Boxhead

I want to give a huge thank you to the judges for their criticism and time. Obviously, I wish I received a more positive reaction, but sometimes it's not in the cards.

I also want to thank Maugan22 and DP Smith for the postive comments, I'm looking forward to your votes!


Seems like an awesome tool for a subplot in a epic adventure, but you would have to be an amazing DM and know your players very well to pull it off.

Star Voter 2013

To respond to one judge's concerns, the mechanics of self-defense seem pretty easy to guess: ability damage to CHA or WIS, which eventually immobilizes the opponent. Claws would finish the shnook off. Add in the ability to impose conditions and you have an unusual monster very apt for urban campaigns, horror campaigns, mystery campaigns and Lovecraftian ones. I'm somewhat surprised that the judges didn't jump all over this one.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
roguerouge wrote:
To respond to one judge's concerns, the mechanics of self-defense seem pretty easy to guess: ability damage to CHA or WIS, which eventually immobilizes the opponent. Claws would finish the shnook off. Add in the ability to impose conditions and you have an unusual monster very apt for urban campaigns, horror campaigns, mystery campaigns and Lovecraftian ones. I'm somewhat surprised that the judges didn't jump all over this one.

I'll say upfront that I know the contestant but I'd also concur with rougerouge's statement. Creepy delusion-inducing cockroaches should be lots of potential fun for a horror/mystery style game. An old manor or the city's sewers having an infestation problem could lead to a few interesting possibilities. Though after thinking about it being invisible and incorporeal might be a bit much. One or the other would do.


roguerouge wrote:
To respond to one judge's concerns, the mechanics of self-defense seem pretty easy to guess: ability damage to CHA or WIS, which eventually immobilizes the opponent. Claws would finish the shnook off. Add in the ability to impose conditions and you have an unusual monster very apt for urban campaigns, horror campaigns, mystery campaigns and Lovecraftian ones. I'm somewhat surprised that the judges didn't jump all over this one.

I agree. In hindsight, perhaps the submission would have been stronger if it included some of the creature's vulnerabilities? I could imagine all sorts of non-combat methods being used to ward the creature off (kind of like garlic is supposed to keep vampires at bay in pop culture).

Sczarni

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

Adjudicating how this creature works (as it usually only "manifests" to one sense at a time) is going to be a pain in the butt.

I also wonder how it kills someone who's trying to kill it... can it bite? Or is it limited to attacking the senses?

If it isn't manifesting to touch, would you even feel it's bite? Obviously it's major weapon is WIS or INT drain (the 'drive you insane' bit), but I feel that it needs something more .... and this is going to sound corny for an invisible creature... more substantial

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

I love putting PCs off balance with creepy, off-key hallucinations (blood drips from your backpack, rain puddles that seem to have drowning people in them, terrifying shadows of monsters that aren't there; there was a whole list of these in Heroes of Horror). You've given me a monster with both the desire and the ability to cause these things, and I love you for it. This thing actually WANTS to screw with the PC's heads. And its reasons, while simple, are nevertheless refreshing when contrasted with the usual "capricious ghost" card.

I feel that it might lack substance* beyond this, however- maybe it's just me, but I think something this wickedly clever ought to have an interesting if alien psyche of its own. Though even some throw-away lines on ecology or history would have helped it come to life in my mind, letting me see it as more than just a nasty head-trip for my players.
I also share the judge's concerns about how well this concept would actually translate into a D&D monster, but I'm not going to knock you for stats that you haven't written yet. If you go through to the next round (and said next round involves statting your own critter), you'll definitely have the opportunity to wow us if you can pull this off.

*edit: kirstov beat me to the pun, and I didn't even realize I was punning.

Liberty's Edge Contributor , Star Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

This is a great visual, but it leaves me wondering how you're going to pull it off. I would be interested in seeing what you can do with this, assuming a later round requires contestants to stat up the monsters.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka SmiloDan

I think this could be a really neat monster. I recently statted up a monster that you can't directly see, but catch glimpses of in the corner of your eye, and it's not necessarily that hard to fight. I also like how it feeds on ability damage (Wis probably) and can interfere with the PC's senses.

Having it manifest one sense at a time also lets PCs with unusual sensory abilities (like a raging barbarian with the scent rage power or a spellcaster polymorphed or wildshaped into something with tremorsense) get a chance to shine. The taste manifestation might let someone with poison resistance or immunity use it for something other than defense.

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

These guys are odd. They're very well written, but I agree with the judges in that I don't see it working too well in play. It's incorporeal, invisible, drives opponents to distraction with its hallucinatory abilities. How does one fight it? I like the suggestion up-thread that its "damage dealing" can be done by using touch to cause pain, and any excuse to bust out the Heroes of Horror random creepy tables is a plus in my book.

It'd be nice if we got some why here. Why do sensory stalkers cause sensations in their victims? What's it to them? Nutrition? Malicious fun? Are the strong sensations of humanoids like a drug to them?

A good descriptive hook doesn't make up for the lack of substance behind it. Without knowing why, I don't especially want to use this creature, and from what I know about its abilities, I don't know how well it would work in play. I'm going to have to pass on these guys.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

Demiurge 1138 wrote:
It'd be nice if we got some why here. Why do sensory stalkers cause sensations in their victims? What's it to them? Nutrition? Malicious fun? Are the strong sensations of humanoids like a drug to them?

Nutrition I assume. I take "feed" literally in cases like this, as there have been plenty of D&D monsters which subsist purely on various sorts of psychic energy.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

The Pros: Your flavor text just makes me take this monster and run it (or, in this case, develop this further). The basic premise is sound. There is nothing remotely similar to your creation already in the game (at least, that I can think of), so it's highly original to boot.

The Cons: I think this would work very well in a novel. Heck, it would work perfectly fine in a computer game, where lots of cut scenes could show the creature blinking in and out at the edge of your vision, feeding you strange sensations. In a D&D game, I'm not so sure. I don't think this is un-stattable (if that's even a word). However, I think you would have to cook up some completely new mechanics for that. It's not enough, in my opinion, to say 'madness and smells and sights and sounds, that's all the DM's flavor text'. If the players are going to interact with it, this will need its own mechanic, because the players will try to think of a counter. And, while some of its abilities might be represented by ability damage or the like, I don't think this could be statted without introducing a mechanic that's previously unused in PFRPG (which can still be done, I just don't think it's a very good design choice).

'Hmmmmm ... Difficult to rate, this one is.' Still, I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, and see what you can do with your monster, assuming the following rounds allow that. You've got a strong idea and know how to present it. Anyway, the best of luck for the round!

Star Voter 2013

Demiurge 1138 wrote:
It's incorporeal, invisible, drives opponents to distraction with its hallucinatory abilities. How does one fight it?

Fireball?


Praise:
Hrm, paranoia, dissension, bad memories, and outright terror. I can see this doing some real damage.

Concerns:
Huh. Incorporeal, with an exoskeleton? And hard talons? Invincible while incorporeal, deadly when corporeal. A weird psychic ghost beetle? There's almost too much going on here. Then it will only manifest to a certain sense? I can't really imagine that working too well. If it was just a bug thing with sensory attacks, or just a ghost thing with sensory attacks, I could bite. But a ghost bug thing with sensory attacks is overly complex.

Overall:
I could see this in a game like Call of Cthulhu, but not in Pathfinder or D&D. The mechanical complexity of the sensory effects and incorporeal-but-corporeal aspects of this creature lead me astray.


Very well described, good concept, but difficult to DM. It could be fun with the right player, but often times telling a PC his character is going mad can bring down the proverbial "house" on your head. I'm not saying its out for me, but it's not near the top of my list.

Good job, though. It caught my attention and I wanted to read it through to the end.

Ken


This appears to be an invisible incorporeal beetle which can make PCs hallucinate from range. I don't know about driving PCs mad, but it will certainly get some players throwing things at the GM, hard, if there aren't any saves allowed.
Since it seems to me that it only targets one PC at a time, this is going to cause a potential problem right there, since everything else stops whilst the action focuses on that PC. What's more, the game is stopping for something to which the other characters don't have any obvious clues about what is going on, as any beetle induced hallucinations are all in the mind of the target character.
Besides these problems, it isn't indicated to have any drives or ambitions beyond 'find the next meal'. Half a dozen of these might infest a location the PCs enter, but once the PCs leave that location, they might never encounter the things again - or figure out why they kept having weird hallucinations that one time. They might not make any effort to look into things further unless they actually have a base of operations plagued by these things, but such an infestation may go down badly with players, and be taken as evidence that they're better off not having such a place if all the GM is going to do is badger them with weird stuff there.

As encounters, these could in theory pop up in many places, but how effective they may be is going to depend on the players and what spells/effects block their messing around.

My overall impression is that this entry aspires to originality but seems more irritation than monster. I'm not sure if the contestant has thought through how use of this outsider may play out in-game.

Thanks for entering this submission. I think you have a good concept here (and it reminds me of something much nastier from a Doctor Who episode), but at present I am sceptical as to it's suitability for an RPG such as D&D or Pathfinder. Kudos to you or any other contestant if in a later Round you can make this work.

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

I dunno with this guy. Your writing is good and the concept is excellently creepy. I like the hallucinations and madness angle and actually went for something similar with the koloiaq in the monster round of Superstar 2008.

I just kept thinking "wendigo + bug," and I wasn't sure I was feeling excited about that as a concept.

The "appears to one sense at a time" concept is interesting, but very sticky to implement. I think *attacking* one sense at a time is simple enough, but it's everything else that goes along with it. Essentially that could mean it has superdupermegainvisibility that doesn't go away when it attacks, plus it's incorporeal anyway, so finding it is going to be a complete pain. Will things like see invisibility and faerie fire/glitterdust even work on it?

Overall: The writing is good, the effect concept is solid (pun intended for the incorporeal creature) but an odd pairing with the bug to me, enough that it might not appeal to everyone. The implied mechanics are treacherous, and the name, while perfectly descriptive, is about as bland as it gets. A decent entry, but I don't think it's quite there.

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

Charles Evans 25 wrote:


Thanks for entering this submission. I think you have a good concept here (and it reminds me of something much nastier from a Doctor Who episode), but at present I am sceptical as to it's suitability for an RPG such as D&D or Pathfinder. Kudos to you or any other contestant if in a later Round you can make this work.

What Doctor Who episode, by the way? It reminded me a bit of the time beetle in "Turn Left", but after my Vashta Nerada reference in my rictus review I didn't want to be pulling Who parallels in every comment.

Dark Archive RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015 aka Boxhead

Hey everyone, thanks for the great I just want to take a moment and thank anyone who has put input into this thread:

Thanks to the Scotch Assassin, B_Wiklund, TwiceBorn, Cpt_kirstov, Nicolas Quimby, taig, SmiloDan, Demiurge 1138, Dance of Ruin, caith, Kenneth.T.Cole, Charles Evans 25, Jason Nelson and any lurkers who may have read it and not posted.

Hope you vote for me!

Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2015

is Sensory Stalker the right name for these bugs? not sure

"beetle ... scurries through its victim’s peripheral vision, but disappears when the viewer tries to focus on it" Nice, gets the paranoid level going. A problem I see is how does it know when its being looked at?

"these are the signs of a sensory stalker" good job on including some tricks of the bug it adds depth to this concept.

"This ... appears as a hideous insect" OK I know its hideous looking, but how?

"... distant clatter ... is all the warning it gives" So it doesnt clatter all the time?

"These creatures feed on powerful feelings and extreme sensations, often pushing their victims so far into extreme experiences that they go insane." so they feed on feelings. How would pushing the target to insanity be beneficial for feeding?

"It can manifest itself to be tangible to any of the five senses(snip). These "phantom" sensations slowly drive the victim mad " I know what you were trying to say, but its worded funny right now it reads like the bug could manifest itself so you can taste it (ewwww). Probably by replacing 'itself' with thoughts or sensations would create the result you were looking for.

"The creature can also manifest" this creature could be more effective and feed more if the 'can also' is changed to 'will'. What would be more maddening then having this bug driving you insane then appearing from no where only to whip you with its antennae

very well done concept. I think the problem this critter is how to fight the unknown, unseen, and incorporeal. Which means the critter probably has to have its incorporeal ability tweaked.
Would love to drop these into a minotaur's maze to help aid in the madness

Liberty's Edge

mmmm
i have contradictory thoughts on this one
I don't like the name... its a description, but not a name

and certainly i don't like it being a bug...

but i do like the general theme... still this feels more like either a ghost or a psiquic creature... very Ravenloft, very Ustalav... I see this creature draining Int or Wis from its victims slowly...

i could use this either as a haunting or as someone's else little "joke" on the PCs

still undecided if voting or not on the little bug


Eric Hindley wrote:

Sensory Stalker

cut for space

This is the fourteenth 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.

Evocatively written intro. It’s a beetle. Not the Blue Beetle. It pushes people over the edge into insanity. Okay. Why?

Powers:
*incorporeal and invisible (okay, yet another monster that gets a surprise round on the party
*manifest to be tangible to one sense (hm, interesting idea that could be mechanically tough to describe, especially if it then becomes an ‘extreme experience’ for the victim)
*phantom sensations drive the victim mad and induce paranoia (Yeah – does it drain stats, induce a condition, what? I’m growing less fond of mind-attacking creatures that don’t have something unique as a twist about the attack itself, and here just senses don’t do it for me.)
*cause blindness, deafness, nausea or pain (now we’re talking – that could drive people crazy)

Summary: Scary beetle? Sorry, I’m not quite seeing it. I don’t get a sense of it’s character, its origin, it’s raison d’etre. I mean, sure, this is D&D, and we need monsters to fight. However, we’re looking for a little more flavor on our steak today. If it weren’t a beetle, ironically, I think I’d be a little more intrigued. If I knew what it wanted to do with people once they were crazy, I’d be more intrigued. I do like your intro. That shows some good writing. I don’t think it’s enough to put this in my top four as it stands. This would still make a decent opponent with some work.


Two sets of comments, one for Eric one for the rest.

First for Eric, I love the flavor of the monster, it's great and makes me not want to be walking alone in an alleyway with one of these near by. I agree with a few comments on it might be nice to have a bit more history or ecology but I do know you only had 300 words. As a PC Invisible and Incorporeal worry me a bit but when it really comes down to it there are ways around it. Nothing else really worries me and I whole heatedly agree with the great mystery/horror monster comments.

For the rest, I think everybody's had some really great comments and feed back, and as a general comment I feel like some people are getting caught to much on possible mechanics.

Quote:
This round is about your ability to describe a monster, not your ability to create perfect game statistics.

Just because something sounds like a pain doesn't mean it will be. If mechanics are all your worried about, give people the benefit of the doubt and let next round weed them out.

Also when it comes down to it I can't believe that someone would make something like this without a plan of how not to make it a mechanical nightmare for the DM and PC's.


Eric Hindley wrote:

Sensory Stalker

This is very small, this is incorporeal and invisible, this normaly isn't directly involved in combat, but just plays with the minds and perceptions of his victims.

This monster could as well be nonexistent (it's already nearly "not there")and rather be a haunt (I don't know exactly how these work, having only experienced them from a players perspective) A pure, disembodied force that tries to feed from the experiences and emotions of it's victims while amplifying them.
or It should be a full fledged outsider, adept at stealing the senses of his victims one at a time. But it shouldn't be both.
I really think this is a haunt, disguised as a creature.

I'm not considering you for a vote.

Good luck anyway.

Paizo Employee Developer

This seems like a great monster for a horror movie or book. The very idea of something that you *know* is there but can't ever pin down is pretty terrifying, so in that respect it is doing what you want. But in terms of game rules and playability, I have to agree with the judges that this would be a pain in the donkey to run. Maybe even in a different system, like CoC, this would be easier to do, but how would the creature appear only in a PC's peripheral vision, for example? There's no facing in Pathfinder, so how would this be carried out?

I think this is an awesome idea and represents a wealth of creative material waiting for future rounds. I hope to see what you can put forth in round 3.


Nicolas Quimby wrote:
Demiurge 1138 wrote:
It'd be nice if we got some why here. Why do sensory stalkers cause sensations in their victims? What's it to them? Nutrition? Malicious fun? Are the strong sensations of humanoids like a drug to them?
Nutrition I assume. I take "feed" literally in cases like this, as there have been plenty of D&D monsters which subsist purely on various sorts of psychic energy.

I think Nicolas is on the right track here; however, I personally don't see the lack of information regarding the creature's motives as a real issue in the first place. It seems perfectly reasonable to me that the motives of the Sensory Stalker would be unclear. Whatever the compulsion is that drives the bug to feed on emotions or sensations might as well be vaguely understood as "the nature of it," as far as I am concerned.

Fleshing out the Sensory Stalker in game terms will take some careful consideration, but the problem is far from insurmountable. Besides, that's not what this round is about.

The Sensory Stalker is not just another "spank and tank" monster. It's interesting, and definitely something I would want to use.

Gets my vote.

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

How did the author respond to the challenge? Ties in its abilities well to a central idea.

How does it stack up


  • as an opponent? It might work better against a lone opponent (and with considerable time to work its effects) than in the typical adventuring situation. Good to see consideration of both an iconic attack sequence and something to fall back on if forced to fight directly.
  • as something other than an opponent? There's not much else to it, though interesting hints that it feeds upon something other than physical nourishment.
  • in relation to other monsters? It's not common, in this game at least, to see an insect with this sort of unusual feeding method. A China Mieville influence?
  • in relation to the author's item? Good to see this entrant extending his thinking. This is very different from the hourglass.
  • in itself? The idea's well sustained with some powerful images. I think this would be a memorable and maybe drawn-out encounter.

Good prospect for a vote, among several.


I don't know why the reception to this monster is so bad. Quite frankly I'm getting raving annoyed with the same type of monsters. Congratulations, new monsters, but they're all something we've already seen before, just blenderized. If we stick within our little bubble, how do we expect the story to grow? I think Fire-Hawk and Dance of Ruin had some of the better constructive criticisms...

I don't care if this one doesn't end up in the books, I love this monster. Not everything needs to have a ridiculous name that makes it sound 'wickedsick'. I mean, Living Dead is a classic example of a name that describes the subject, and yet i dont see people screaming in protest at the obviousness of the name. Sure, Aural Violator sounds cooler, but... no, now its making sexual references, someone is likely to get offended.

In response to dance of ruin:
it doesnt have to be flavour, leaving those options gives the DM the chance to go about it how he wants. Who knows how the story went so far and how best the characters can be traumatized? Inducing vision in a blind character, or making a deaf character hear are two other things i see this monster doing.

Varianor:
umm... just because you dont like the exotic sauce on your steak doesn't mean its not flavourful.

Generally, i feel the monster is being criticised for its lack of back-story/context, because it is so different. Id love to see someone else do that AND provide the monster description in the limited space...

I'm not going to lie, i get sick of golem-like creatures that you can predict how they will behave. This one throws in a nice curve-ball, it gets my vote.


Nicely said, Dr. Faustus. It gets my vote, too. With an idea as original as this, I think it would be great to see the author get a crack at developing the mechanics for it. And if he can do it successfully, that should make folks (including the experts) stand up and take notice...

"Do or do not, there is no try... the Force is strong in this one!"

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka Epic Meepo

My thoughts on the sensory stalker...

The Name: An apt descriptive name. Nothing wrong with that.

The Description: My first reaction upon reading the description: "Haven't I seen this on Doctor Who?" That might be an unfair reaction, as any resemblance to the Doctor Who monster might be entirely coincidental. But the resemblance is strong enough that it entirely dominated my first impression of the monster, even if it was all a coincidence.

The Powers: Some of those powers are rather vague and open ended. But then again, so are many illusion spells. I have to wonder about the whole invisible and incorporeal thing. Since 'manifesting' is also mentioned, wouldn't it be more concise to just say that this creature lurks on the Ethereal Plane and manifests like a ghost? Although I suppose that would make it even more difficult for players to interact with the sensory stalker.

The Buzz: Clark mentioned invisible, incorporeal monsters being an automatic design mistake, but I have to disagree. I could easily see an invisible, incorporeal poltergeist. Of course, a poltergeist has a limited set of powers and is tied to a specific location, giving players without the tools to fight it the option to get away. The thing that makes me nervous about the sensory stalker isn't that it's invisible and incorporeal. It's that the monster is both of those things plus its a stalker that will likely follow the PCs around wherever they go. That could get frustrating very quickly.

The Vote: Fairly or unfairly, this creature's close resemblance to a Doctor Who monster gave me a feeling of deja vu that detracted from the monster. I might have overlooked that deja vu if the Doctor Who monster in question was a Weeping Angel. But alas, it was a mere 'something on your back.' I will not be voting for the sensory stalker.


Off-topic:
You can't expect a poor little beetle to compete with the weeping angels or vashta nerada though in the Doctor Who terror stakes.
(And yes the beetle from Turn Left was what I had in mind, Demiurge 1138.)

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka Epic Meepo

Charles Evans 25 wrote:

Off-topic:

You can't expect a poor little beetle to compete with the weeping angels or vashta nerada though in the Doctor Who terror stakes.

That's pretty much my point. That beetle wasn't as cool as the Weeping Angels, so I'm not particularly inspired to vote for something similar to that beetle, whereas I might have voted for something more like a Weeping Angel.

Even more off topic:
The guy who created both the Weeping Angels and the vashta nerada is now the head writer for Doctor Who. The upcoming season should be very interesting.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Another monster that has a nice creep out factor. I agree with a few of the comments about it being good for a horror campaign. Kind of like the old horror movie bit about not showing the monster, since what you imagine will be far worse. I'm always in favor of messing with my players heads. The writing also got my attention initially. That said, I also think game mechanics would be hard on this one. In terms of PCs fighting back, I think it would be difficult to build an encounter around it.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I love the concept of this monster. It can be developed over the course of an adventure, slowly building up, and then sprung on the party. Just pick on one PC and let the others worry.

As someone said above, this kind of subtlety is rare. But it's refreshing.

I agree the mechanics will need a lot of spelling out to make this a functional monster though.

There needs to be a way to directly confront it.

I do like it.


From a PC's point of view, I can tell you that I'm tired of playing hack and slash campaigns. Introducing this creature in the midst of an adventure would certainly bring the role playing aspect to another level, as your character slowly delves into madness.

Bottom line, the Sensory Stalker gets my vote.

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

Love the descriptions of it and it's hallucinations. I'm not sure how well it would play though. It sounds like a long stream of will saves, and some eventual Wisdom damage, and frustrated PCs not sure if they're dealing with a trap, odd magical effect, a haunt, or a creature. My other question is why does this thing need to give the hallucinations? Can't it just follow adventurers and feed off the strong experiences they constantly encounter?

I agree with others that this is a cool creature, but I think better suited for a movie or short story than a fantasy RPG monster.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Orange Toque

Does it grab me visually: I love attacking the victim’s senses. If played right, it could make for some very tense moments. But I don’t like that when the monster is finally revealed, it’s just a big bug.,

Would I use it in game: Yes. I’m a big fan of making PCs think that they’re crazy.

Would my players enjoy an encounter with it: Yes and no. They would love the lead up to combat with all of the sensory attacks. However, they would become very frustrated when they could not find the source of the mental assault. And when the beetle is finally revealed, I think that they would be let down a little and a bit mad that a beetle gave them so much trouble.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka flash_cxxi

I like it, but I think that it ill be very difficult to incorporate it's abilities into a Statblock.
Incorporeal would have been enough, you should have left invisible alone.

I do like both the writing and the creature itself, but not enough to put it in the Keep pile (although it would have only just missed out).
Sorry and Good Luck. :)

Dark Archive RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015 aka Boxhead

Just thought I'd step in one final time before voting closes and thank everyone for their feedback! I do not have time to do personal thanks right now (I'm at work), but I'll be sure to soon.

Remember, voting is still open a little longer...


Commiserations.

Dark Archive RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015 aka Boxhead

I just want to take a moment to congatulate the top 16 and thank everyone for their support and votes. Here's my shot at designer notes for the Sensory Stalker:

My appraoch

Spoiler:
I wanted to make sure my monster was something that wasn't a typical monster. I went for a bit of a curveball and started ruling out what would seem boring to me. I made a quick list of things I hated in new monsters:

1. Straight up brute. There are enough giants, animals, dire animals, magic beasts, etc. in this category for my tastes. I really didn't want to make a simple hp/damage brute.

2. Anything involving elemental damage. It's too easy in my mind to simply add cold, fire, electricity, acid or sonic damage to a monster and claim it's new. Most of the elements have plenty of great monsters already available without me adding to the glut.

3. The "cram two monsters together" monster. Owlbears, Chimeras and monsters like that are great, but it's too easy to fall into the "deadline monster" trap.

With these ideas in mind, I tried to figure out something I hadn't seen before. I got to thinking about the 5 senses, which Pathfinder acknowledged with its expanded Perception skill. I got the idea for a creature that attacked the senses, pushing victims to experience extreme sensations. It needed a direct way to combat the PCs, so it gained the ability to focus its attacks through its antennae to cause serious damage.

The concept evolved over the next day or so into its current incarnation.

The name

Spoiler:
This was the part I struggled with most. Trying to find a good monster name is one of the hardest things I've ever done. It's far too easy for something to sound great to you, but for everyone else to hate it. I ran through a few ideas like Stimulous Demon, Sensorax and my personal favourite- the Creeping Sensation. The last name seemed like it may be construed as a pun and derail my whole thread into groans, so I went with my "safer" choice.

How do you stat/fight this thing?

Spoiler:
Contrary to popular opinion, I had fairly solid stats in mind for this creature. Pegging it at roughly CR 5, the incorporeal ability isn't that big of a deal. Most of the party should have some sort of magic attacks by this point. The creature would deal Wisdom damage (hence the madness angle) until the PCs took steps to find it (probably see invisibility or invisibility purge, then a real combat can ensue. at that point it relies on its antennae to fight the PCs. Is it a pain? Yes. Is it too much of a pain? Maybe it is. I certainly didn't think so when I submitted.

At the end of the day, I took my swing for the fences with something a little different, and it didn't pan out for me. I'd be thrilled to answer any more questions here, and look out because I'll be back next year!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Hey Eric, I think that your monster suffered a bit of the same fate as the Mind Reaper. It is a bit of a hard monster to actually be able to find, let alone kill (or that is what people were worried about).

You did swing for the fence and try something different. Remember that you always don't have to be way out there, your hourglass was pretty cool without being gonzo.

Good to hear that you are going to give the competition a go next year.

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