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PaizoCon 2014!

Wyrmhiri


Round 2 - Top 32: Create a monster concept

Taldor RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Wyrmhiri
Description: Wyrmhiri, or stunted wyrms, are the dark secret of dragonkind: the result of dragon eggs that fail to properly develop. Wyrmhiri are six-foot-long legless eyeless dragons. They are winged, but their wings lack membranes between the phalanges, leaving them unable to fly but able to use the wings for climbing and for bursts of rapid movement. Wyrmhiri vary in color but usually are a mottled pale form of their parent dragon’s color with a single blunt horn on their short snouts. They are ambush predators and possess a draconic cunning. They burrow through the earth, hoarding precious gems and metals, which they swallow and regurgitate in hidden caches. Newborn wyrmhiri instinctively flee the nest, seeking to avoid being slain by their siblings and parents. Wyrmhiri hate and are fiercely jealous of true dragons, from whose hoards they are prone to steal. They grow quickly, eating insatiably in their first year. Among dragonkind it is forbidden to speak of wyrmhiri.
Powers and Abilities: Wyrmhiri compensate for being blind by having keen senses of smell, hearing and vibration that allow them to locate their prey. They are patient, remaining still for hours before suddenly bursting from underground with unnatural speed, using their wings to propel themselves upward before they attack with their wicked jaws. Wyrmhiri have a slight resistance to the energy type of their parent dragon. Their scales develop a rocky coating, giving them resistance to any blow save one able to pierce the skin. They lack a dragon’s breath weapon, but can violently regurgitate swallowed gems and metal if desperate. Wyrmhiri possess a supernatural affinity for stone, learning to speak to it and share its memories.

Pathfinder Lead Developer, Frog God Games

I like this as a variant of the typical dragon encounter--the cockroaches of the dragon community. A good secondary type of encounter for adventures in and around dragon lairs without having to throw the actual dragon at them right away--the kind of things that sneak out and steal the virgin being sacrificed before the dragon gets there. I'd drop the last two powers, though. This seems more a devolution of the dragon than an evolution, and those last two (especially the stonespeaking) seem more like evolutionary steps than developmental stuntedness.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

I like this creepy little runt! Nice physical description, nice movement variation. I can see these being the pets (or mounts!) of degenerate kobolds that aren't cool enough to serve real dragons.

I'd drop the DR and the stone-speak, no real reason for these guys to have something that's better than a true dragon's.

I also approve of Greg's description of these as the "cockroaches of the dragon community." :)

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

I don't know. While I'm not one of those folks who are super precious of their dragons, there's a lot of draconic hangers-on already. After dragons you've got wyverns and drakes, and below them you've got your pseudodragons and faerie dragons, and then you get into the world of dragon ticks and sentient dragon tails and hoard guardians, and so on. Pretty much each step down the ladder you get from true dragons you lose a little more coolness each time. I've seen a few bestiaries go hog-wild with dragon this, dragon spawn that, dragon blood this other thing, and in the end all you get are monsters that aren't as cool as the monster they're riffing on.

While I don't think this creature suffers from the worst of dragon "me too" syndrome, there is a touch of it here.

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

Initial Impression: Red-headed step-dragons? A raised eyebrow and look of concern on my face as I start reading...

Concept (name, overall design choices, design niche, playability/usability, challenge): B-
The “debased dragon” concept is definitely ground that has been well-covered (over and over). However, I have to say that this idea seems perhaps a bit better and more organic than some of the other “lesser dragon” ideas.

Execution (quality of writing, hook, theme, organization, use of proper format, world neutral, quality of mandatory content—description, summary of powers): C+
You basically just put a dragon-y covering on an ankheg.
Lose the DR and stonespeak powers for sure. And are you suggesting they can spit some type of gem stream breath weapon? I hope not (though the more I think about it the more interesting it gets).

Tilt (did it grab me, do I want to use one in an adventure?): B
I’ll give you points here. This is a usable and different sub-species of dragon that I think I could find a use for in an adventure.

Overall: B-
I just don’t think you did enough, and when you are working with such “been there, done that” material as the lesser dragon you really needed to bring something more interesting to the table.

Recommendation: I DO NOT recommend this creature advance.

Taldor RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Thank you for your support and please vote for my item! If you have questions, I'll be happy to answer them once voting for this round is closed.

Qadira

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It seems to me that we've pretty much established kobolds as being the rabble of the draconic kingdom.

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

Well, except for Wolfgang. He's like an advanced kobold or something.


I like this, agree with Greg's sentiments entirely.

The creature is easy to visualize, and it's origins don't require a ton of backstory. I love the idea of missing wing membranes, and vomiting gems as a last resort is incredibly flavorful. I would love to spring one of these on my players.

I could see DR for mutant skin being resonable, but stone speaking is a step too far IMHO.

This is one of the best I've read so far, almost certainly has my vote.

Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

this one just sort of made me shrug... it seems like a good solid monster, but not a great one in my opinion, and in this round I see about seven which I think could well be great monsters, so I decided to pass on this one.

Andoran

Yeah; this is pretty cool. Cockroach of the dragon community....I like that.


I dig this critter a lot and love the fact its a "weak" dragon. You def get a vote!

Shadow Lodge Star Voter 2013

I want one...

Andoran Contributor , Star Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

This is an interesting creature, and I like it enough that I'd consider cramming it in with all the other dragon entourage.

One question, when you get a chance to answer: Since wyrmhiri can theoretically be underdeveloped dragons from any type of dragon, why wouldn't they have some unique abilities from their parents? Or is the ecology of these creatures something along the lines of "all wyrmhiri are so underdeveloped that they haven't even differentiated yet"?

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

I don't think that just because the wyrmhiri are ambush predators means that they're ankhegs with the dragon wallpaper on. It's not as if they're designed to grab and drag away victims, or they have an elemental natural weapon that they lose if they use their breath weapon.

That said, they do have some issues. I like the fetal dragon look, and I like the idea of them spitting up swallowed minerals as a defensive mechanism and using their membraneless wings to haul themselves along. I think I'm not alone that the stonespeaking seems a little out of focus. If the world itself took pity on them, perhaps. It requires more justification. And I'm not sure how differentiated they'd be by breed. Would this be sort of a chimera deal, where they're all pretty much the same except there's a table with energy types on it?

These guys have the same problem as a few of the other monsters this year. They're solid, but not remarkable. They could round out a Bestiary, but they're not Superstars.

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

I rather like the aborted dragon concept; it's a little gross but not excessively, and it's a logical idea for a monster that could exist in a D&D world ecology. The abilities aren't really thrilling me, though, and this creature actually reminds me a lot of the tatzlwyrm (since the vestigial wings end up amounting to claws anyway).

Overall: It's not bad, but it's just kinda okay.

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

I do like the idea of these little guys spitting coins and gems at the PCs. "OW, it just hit me in the eye with a garnet!" might be a fun alternative to "Oh no, they're drinking our treasure!" when the kobolds drink potions of cure light wounds.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

The Pros: Nice imagery and description. You fill a niche that was previously empty; IIRC, there are no degenerate dragons out there yet. You make me actually want to run a draconic creature that is not a dragon (which doesn't hold true for pseudodragons, fairy dragons and their oh so cute ilk). I see no mechanical problems statting this up (but see below).

The Con(s): The name doesn't really grab me. I would drop the stone speak and DR abilities, and make the breath weapon spit gravel and gem shards, instead of coins and gems (it's a little hard to see how you intended that).

All in all, I think you've got a nice idea there. I wish you the best of luck for the round.

Qadira

Okay, I'm confused. If their parents are out to kill them, and they steal for their parent's hoards, how exactly don't they get killed?


Praise:
I like the concept. Dragon rejects with a grudge. They are kinda gross and weird, but not overtly so. They have a lot of peripheral abilities, and could be very difficult to prepare for. Points for originality. I feel like I've seen something similar, but not terribly so.

Concerns:
Again, I feel like I've seen this before, but not exactly. The name is not bad. Putting both DR and ER can be a record-keeping pain, but not too bad. Either or could be removed, the rocky skin doesn't necessarily make sense but I'll bite. Their behaviors don't necessarily mesh; they hate dragons, and are seemingly inferior to them, but dare to steal their hoards? I don't think any of these would last long with that kind of suicidal mindset. I also see these being very similar worms, with the burrowing and crust bursting and DR, albeit with a draconic bent.

Overall:
A decent random encounter, I think this could fit in with owlbears, manticores, ankhegs, and other similar magical creatures with isolationist attitudes. Adventures revolving around these would, in my mind, mostly be of the "destroy the nuisance" type. I could see a particularly intelligent wyrmhiri using some PCs against a brother or parent. Although I am not particularly grabbed by this monster, I could definitely see it as part of an encounter, so that's a big plus.

Taldor RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

I'd like to thank everyone for their comments and thoughts. I will be happy to answer questions and explain my choices after this round is over. In the meantime, please remember to vote for your favorites and once again, thanks for the opportunity to be here!


Hmmmmm. As previously mentioned, dragon variants have been done to death. In particular, the idea of flightless "lesser" dragons are covered in the Bestiary (why did no one mention Linnorms? There is an entire region of Golarion named after them!) The illustrations of Linnorms also seem to indicate that Linnorms have only 2 forelegs, which is very similar to your Wyrmhiri having no legs, but web-less wings.

If you are going to use a dragon variant, you had better come up with a good shtick. Otherwise, your entry is going to get lost in the crowd of other almost-dragons. I'm not sure "birth defects" are a good enough shtick.

There are other issues. I can buy the fact that they are missing limbs, but, why are all of them blind? The creature that spawned them can see. Also, would a good dragon try to kill a wyrmhiri? You seem to indicate that they would, and that doesn't sit well with me.

I'm sorry, but in my opinion, this isn't "Superstar". Although I will give you props for your twist on it’s breath weapon. A wyrmhiri attacks adventurers with money. Heh. That gave me a chuckle and was this entry’s one shining moment (pun intended).


James Martin wrote:

Wyrmhiri

Description: Wyrmhiri, or stunted wyrms, are the dark secret of dragonkind: the result of dragon eggs that fail to properly develop. Wyrmhiri are six-foot-long legless eyeless dragons. They are winged, but their wings lack membranes between the phalanges, leaving them unable to fly but able to use the wings for climbing and for bursts of rapid movement. Wyrmhiri vary in color but usually are a mottled pale form of their parent dragon’s color with a single blunt horn on their short snouts. They are ambush predators and possess a draconic cunning. They burrow through the earth, hoarding precious gems and metals, which they swallow and regurgitate in hidden caches. Newborn wyrmhiri instinctively flee the nest, seeking to avoid being slain by their siblings and parents. Wyrmhiri hate and are fiercely jealous of true dragons, from whose hoards they are prone to steal. They grow quickly, eating insatiably in their first year. Among dragonkind it is forbidden to speak of wyrmhiri.
Powers and Abilities: Wyrmhiri compensate for being blind by having keen senses of smell, hearing and vibration that allow them to locate their prey. They are patient, remaining still for hours before suddenly bursting from underground with unnatural speed, using their wings to propel themselves upward before they attack with their wicked jaws. Wyrmhiri have a slight resistance to the energy type of their parent dragon. Their scales develop a rocky coating, giving them resistance to any blow save one able to pierce the skin. They lack a dragon’s breath weapon, but can violently regurgitate swallowed gems and metal if desperate. Wyrmhiri possess a supernatural affinity for stone, learning to speak to it and share its memories.

Yay! And what does the creator of The Runcible Spoon have to offer? In the hope of finishing on a high note, I have saved you for last. :)

Hmm. Underdeveloped dragons...
Okay, I like the way that you've tried to imagine what a scaled-back dragon which went wrong and didn't develop properly might look like; how it might act and think too. It occurs to me that the strange elemental earth related powers may be part of the reason why these things 'went wrong in the egg', so to speak.
I'm not clear on how intelligent these creatures are and if they speak regular languages. I'll take the 'draconic cunning' as indication that they are at least reasonably intelligent, and probably capable of communication with most other beings.
I'm not clear if these creatures (besides being able to burrow through earth) are capable of digging through rock too.
The '...Their scales develop a rocky coating, giving them resistance to any blow save one able to pierce the skin...' line is a little confusing to me and I'm not quite sure how this is supposed to work/what this is meant to imply?
The regurgitated gems attack is interesting.

These seem to me to be creatures probably suited to mid-level encounters. The 'they come out of the ground at you' to a certain extent may define how an encounter goes, unless a wyrmhiri is a servant or ally of other creatures.

My overall impression is of a well thought-through entry. It may not look so good when I come down from the high of having completed a sweep through all 32 monsters but for now it stands shoulder to shoulder, at the very least, with most of the other entries in this contest.

Many thanks for submitting this entry.


James Martin wrote:

Wyrmhiri

cut for space

This is the eighth 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.

Stunted dragons. Aha! Interesting concept. The name reflects it somewhat. These are the runts of the draconic litter. The description could be punched up a bit, however it’s factual and accurate. I like the comment that the dragons don’t talk about these lesser kin.

Powers:
*They’re blind. (That’s not really a power. Okay.)
*They get senses to compensate. (Hold on Charlie, dragons already get tremorsense and a whole lot more. These guys lose darkvision to get what? Extended tremorsense? 240 feet instead of 120? I don’t think that’s a big “power”.)
*remain still for hours before bursting from underground (okay – lots of critters get to burst out from the ground this year – did you guys all get together on that point? Kidding…)
*unnatural speed (cool, they’re fast, so are dragons)
*wicked jaws (mm-kay)
*slight energy resistance (mm-kay)
*DR (really good description of DR X/piercing – kudos for that!)
*regurgitate gems and metals (Cool! It gets to spew its treasure over people.)
*speak with stone and share its memories (Wha? Now I’m fairly interested, but this is the last paragraph.)

Summary: Not a creature I can vote for. Sorry. The idea is sound – draconic runt of the litter. The execution appears to try to justify stripping down a dragon to a much less powerful opponent that gets to (dun-dun-DUHN!) leap out from hiding at high speed. The most interesting things it gets are not really expanded upon. If something had been made of the weird breath weapon and its stone speaking abilities to change this up from being just a really weak, stubby dragon to something different but cool and interesting it would work for me. I do appreciate the time that went into deconstructing dragons to get to the runt. That was a lot of skull sweat put into the creature. I have the feeling that you wanted to do more with it but struggled with the space limitations. Good luck!

Star Voter 2013

So close. So very close.

Basically, your monster is the dragon world's answer to the Spartan practice of abandon children with birth defects. PLAY UP THAT ANGLE! Make players feel pity for these creatures, exiled from their mommies and daddies. Make that their driving desire, not hate and jealousy. Have them try to emulate those that rejected them, hoping to fit in. They goal of these encounters should be pity. These guys set up the encounter with the Evil Dragon, making the players hate it even more. (And the moral complexity of a gold version of one of these things would be a real tear-jerker and a blackmail hook for a villain.)


James Martin wrote:

Wyrmhiri

Description: Wyrmhiri, or stunted wyrms, are the dark secret of dragonkind: the result of dragon eggs that fail to properly develop. Wyrmhiri are six-foot-long legless eyeless dragons. They are winged, but their wings lack membranes between the phalanges, leaving them unable to fly but able to use the wings for climbing and for bursts of rapid movement. Wyrmhiri vary in color but usually are a mottled pale form of their parent dragon’s color with a single blunt horn on their short snouts. They are ambush predators and possess a draconic cunning. They burrow through the earth, hoarding precious gems and metals, which they swallow and regurgitate in hidden caches. Newborn wyrmhiri instinctively flee the nest, seeking to avoid being slain by their siblings and parents. Wyrmhiri hate and are fiercely jealous of true dragons, from whose hoards they are prone to steal. They grow quickly, eating insatiably in their first year. Among dragonkind it is forbidden to speak of wyrmhiri.
Powers and Abilities: Wyrmhiri compensate for being blind by having keen senses of smell, hearing and vibration that allow them to locate their prey. They are patient, remaining still for hours before suddenly bursting from underground with unnatural speed, using their wings to propel themselves upward before they attack with their wicked jaws. Wyrmhiri have a slight resistance to the energy type of their parent dragon. Their scales develop a rocky coating, giving them resistance to any blow save one able to pierce the skin. They lack a dragon’s breath weapon, but can violently regurgitate swallowed gems and metal if desperate. Wyrmhiri possess a supernatural affinity for stone, learning to speak to it and share its memories.

I think this is a great example of a draconic like creature, using a lot of inventive and unique ideas without overdoing it. You have done a good job of portraying the creature's description, personality, motives and abilities. The writing is a bit blocky. It could use some more flair. Your idea is sound and the concept is something I would like to see developed in a Monster Manual, and would use it repeatedly in my own campaign.

This one goes near the top of my list. I would like to see more creative writing, but I can live without that if the presentation is well done and it is.

Good job,

Ken

Star Voter 2013

You got my vote.


James Martin wrote:
Thank you for your support and please vote for my item! If you have questions, I'll be happy to answer them once voting for this round is closed.

Is he allowed to do that? I thought it was against the rules.


He's fine. He said "after the round is over". Contestants are encouraged to seek popular support! :)

Star Voter 2013

"Wyrmhiri ... are the dark secret of dragonkind" you blew the secret in the first line. If you went back and redid this submission by only eluding to its heritage you would have had a much stronger entry

"They are ambush predators and possess a draconic cunning" How does an eyeless, legless reject have draconic cunning?

"Wyrmhiri hate and are fiercely jealous of true dragons" I'm not sure an 6 foot impaired wyrm should have hate and jealousy when its survival is probably a daily thing

"Their scales develop a rocky coating giving them resistance to any blow ..(except) one able to pierce" While we know this a reject, is it a mutant as well? Should a 6 foot wyrm have the ability to withstand all physical attacks? A bladed attack on rocky surface sounds like a hard task as well

"They lack a .. breath weapon" yet have a treasure spewing weapon. This would have been probably better converted to vomiting rocks and mud

"Wyrmhiri possess a supernatural affinity for stone" How does an 6 foot eyeless, legless reject gain this ability?

As submitted I think this creature rides on the coat tails of the dragon a little too much. With some tweaking this would be a good low level encounter, or plot device (the reason for kobolds in a cave as they are sent to kill it). But I'm an unsure of how reusable this creature is

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

  • Writing: I would suggest varying your sentence structure a bit. You use the phrase "they are" or "Wyrmhiri are" quite a bit. Otherwise you paint a good sight picture.
  • Originality: The last big campaign I ran was Red Hand of Doom which has more dragon variants then you can shake a stick at. Did you consider creating this as a stand alone creature rather than tying it into the dragon family tree?
  • Mojo/ spirit: I can't see using this in my campaign.

    Guide:
    Writing: My impression of your writing style.
    Originality: Is this creature a unique creation? Does it fill a unique niche in the game?
    Mojo/ spirit: Do I want to see your creature in my game?

  • Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

    How did the author respond to the challenge? A couple of awkward circumlocutions to convey game abilities without explicit stats, but I can probably put that down to general difficulties of style.

    How does it stack up


    • as an opponent? There are a few entries already that use the "burst out from underground" opening and this one possibly combines it with some sort of leap attack. Surprise might give it an initial chance to get in a hit on its own terms, then it has to rely on tough hide.
    • as something other than an opponent? I'm not sure how often the creature would cross an adventurer's path, since it seems to burrow around and hoard its gems in the depths of the earth without much offense to surface-dwellers. The stone tell ability is interesting.
    • in relation to other monsters? I don't mind, personally, seeing another dragon-related creature, despite the vast array that different sources have described over the years, if there's something interesting about it, like a blind crawling abortion that hates its parent but returns through some twisted instinct. I don't like the derivation of the name much.
    • in relation to the author's item? Ah, the runcible spoon, also an interesting variation on an existing theme.
    • in itself? Not a bad description, though I'm not sure the use of its wings contributes much.

    I wouldn't say it's in the lead, but still a creditable effort, worth passing to the next round, though not with one of my votes this time.

    Paizo Employee Developer

    This a a versatile and evocative monster, which I could see using in a number of applications in a campaign. I have to agree with the judges that the DR and stonespeak abilities seem out of place if this is supposed to be the degenerate, runt of dragonkind that it's described as being. I get the earth angle, with its burrow speed, tremorsense, and precious metal breath weapon, but the last two elements move it out of the realm of dragonkind and into magical beast territory for me. At that point, what makes it a dragon? I think you have a strong enough base idea to explore without needing to resort to giving this additional powers that a pure form of dragonkind wouldn't have. Stick with exploring its raggedy, climbing wings, eyeless face, and mutated legless body. I hope voters keep you around for another round, cause I'd love to see what you can come up with in the future, especially if you can really focus on what works and not feel the need to overcompensate with add-on powers that don't really fit.

    Osirion

    Having made my own 'wyrmkin,' kobold like critters that hatch in packs from unfertilized dragon eggs (and removing all draconic ties from the old 1st edition dog-men kobolds), I'm a big fan of dragon eggs spawning some things other than just dragons.

    These critters remind me both of the babies roaming around Vermithrax's lair in Dragonslayer, and the little monsters that fell off of the Cloverfield monster, both in a good way.

    I would be inclined to dump most of the supernatural stuff, and make them a purely beasty menace, with, at best, a bite that inflicts +1d6 of the appropriate elemental damage, as a pale shadow of their parent species breath weapon. Alternately, or perhaps, additionally, they might have a venomous secretion from their skin, or their unsanitary habits might cause infection and disease with bite or claw attacks. Either works better for me, asthetically, than the regurgitating metal attack.

    Still, neat idea, to put some 'softening up' encounters in a dragons lair that aren't actually specific traps left behind by the dragon, and to also perhaps 'trap' even the lair of a defeated dragon, as the resident wyrmhiri have grown hungry and bold in the absence of their parent dragon.

    Andoran

    You did a great job coming up with the senses for this monster. I think part of me likes that the most about what you did with a dragon-related monster. You knew that it had to have some negatives. Makes sense. When I found out Round 2 would be about Monsters I just guessed that someone would make a monster somehow related to dragons. And you did really well with it. Instead of making something that already basically exists plus a few twists. Good deal :o). While this monster may not be my "favorite" of the bunch I think what IS my "favorite" is the fact that you took time to think about what you would need to change about the Wyrmhiri to make it definitely NOT a dragon in disguise. :o)


    James Martin wrote:

    Wyrmhiri

    for some reason I love degenerate monsters. They have an air of creepyness and horror around them, that all the simply grossed out, tentacled monsters of DOOM fail to deliver with me.

    It's one thing to battle the unspeakable, bloated horror with tentacles and all kinds of gross powers. They have a kind of horror thats easily to grasp and soon loose their creepiness for exactly this reason.
    But if you encounter a wyrmhiri, a pale, sick kind of creature with nonfunctional wings, that makes up for it's useless eyes by sniffing you out and instead of spewing deadly fire vomits a stinking sludge spiked with the random gem or sharp piece of metal at you, nearly collapsing while doing so.
    You nearly feel pity for such an creature, yet are repelled by its very nature. You don't want to be near anything that is just so plain wrong. It might infect you.
    While it's clear that the first kind of horror needs to be battled and destroyed, with this you aren't sure any longer. You don't know whether to kill it to end it's misery or to free the world of something evil. And here lies the true horror.
    This concept of course works best with dragons, pride and powerful creatures they are.
    But this brings you in the situation that pretty much anything Dragon has been done and doesn't feel new or exciting.
    I like the wyrmhiri though and could easily build a whole world around them and the degeneration of dragonkind ( and in fact i already have done that. the wyrmhiri would have been handy at the time.)

    I'm strongly considering you for a vote. The sick dragons need some lovin' ( Long range lovin. I'm not going to hug one of these! )


    James Martin wrote:

    Wyrmhiri

    Description: Wyrmhiri, or stunted wyrms, are the dark secret of dragonkind: the result of dragon eggs that fail to properly develop. Wyrmhiri are six-foot-long legless eyeless dragons. They are winged, but their wings lack membranes between the phalanges, leaving them unable to fly but able to use the wings for climbing and for bursts of rapid movement. Wyrmhiri vary in color but usually are a mottled pale form of their parent dragon’s color with a single blunt horn on their short snouts. They are ambush predators and possess a draconic cunning. They burrow through the earth, hoarding precious gems and metals, which they swallow and regurgitate in hidden caches. Newborn wyrmhiri instinctively flee the nest, seeking to avoid being slain by their siblings and parents. Wyrmhiri hate and are fiercely jealous of true dragons, from whose hoards they are prone to steal. They grow quickly, eating insatiably in their first year. Among dragonkind it is forbidden to speak of wyrmhiri.
    Powers and Abilities: Wyrmhiri compensate for being blind by having keen senses of smell, hearing and vibration that allow them to locate their prey. They are patient, remaining still for hours before suddenly bursting from underground with unnatural speed, using their wings to propel themselves upward before they attack with their wicked jaws. Wyrmhiri have a slight resistance to the energy type of their parent dragon. Their scales develop a rocky coating, giving them resistance to any blow save one able to pierce the skin. They lack a dragon’s breath weapon, but can violently regurgitate swallowed gems and metal if desperate. Wyrmhiri possess a supernatural affinity for stone, learning to speak to it and share its memories.

    Okay, nitpick time. I suspect dragons have a number of dark secrets, of which wyrmhiri are perhaps maybe only towards the top of the range. I would have preferred to see 'a dark secret' rather than 'the dark secret'. And I wouldn't so much imagine that it is not 'forbidden' amongst dragonkind to speak of them, so much as socially embarrassing, particularly if you were one of the parents. They're the elephant in the room no dragon talks about (except for the purposes of taunting another dragon). Now I can see that it might be taboo subject in conversation with other races, because dragons generally wouldn't want to admit that they could be capable of producing 'failures' to lesser beings.

    Those are really matters of my personal opinion though.

    A thought occured to me, building on an idea I had in a previous post... Maybe wyrmhiri are a result of an 'imbalance of elemental energies'. The wyrmhiri outlined above have too much earth energy, hence the enhanced earth-related powers and (since in a circle of elements earth often opposes air) the weakened/mutated breath weapon and the jokes of wings.
    Playing on this theme it might be possible to develop variations of wyrmhiri. I don't think it would be a good idea to take this too far, though, as apart from a few minor variations in powers, the central idea is fairly strong I feel, and I think it might be damaging if one wyrmhiri didn't look too much like another. They need to be basically recognisable for what they are, irrespective of supporting logic, which is as underdeveloped/stunted dragons. I think another poster used a description to the effect that they are 'the runts of dragonkind', which seemed to me to be a neat summary.

    This entry shows relatively few of the errors/problems that I see with entries that this round might stake a claim to greater creativity and this seems to me to be a solidly written entry, that with a minimum of development work could go in a bestiary. I feel the creature is reasonably flexible in what a GM could do with it in terms of use in encounters, and on the basis of the flare that you demonstrated with the Runcible Spoon in Round 1 I have put my second vote for this Round in the box for Wyrmhiri.
    If you make it through the vote, best of luck for Round 3. :)

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

    My thoughts on the wyrmhiri...

    The Name: I like that "wyrm" gives a clear indication of its origin. I'm not so sure I like the "-hiri" suffix. I really like the "stunted wyrm" nickname.

    The Description: Now this is a monster with pathos. It'd be hard not have sympathy for this little guy, even after he eats a few maidens and loots a few coffers in a spiteful effort to prove to the world that, yes, he is a real dragon after all.

    The Powers: I love the 'breath weapon.' One of the more interesting one's I've seen. I understand the burrowing and the blindsense. The earth-elemental-themed powers could use some more justification. I can think up several such justifications, and tried my best to do so because this little guy is just so beautifully tragic he deserves my vote. But in the future, don't leave it to the reader to justify your monster's abilities. Include a sentence or two explaining what the monster's thematic powers have to do with its origin story.

    The Buzz: I see that this monster has inspired several posters to think of interesting ways to use the wyrmhiri in adventures. As a warning that dragons are in the area, as a softer encounter to include in the lair of a powerful dragon, as a foil for establishing its parents' villainy. Let me throw another angle into the mix. This is one of the few dragons I've seen that would fit really well in a horror campaign. A degenerate spawn of fabled beasts, it is forced to lurk beneath the ground, wallowing in self-pity while scheming to prove its worth by terrorizing those on the surface. It's a monster whose goal is to prove how much of a monster it really is. The adventure practically writes itself.

    The Vote: This is one of the eight monsters I will be considering when it comes time for me to vote.

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

    I like the plausible origin of these creatures, and the overall reasonable powers for a stunted dragon. However, I'm left wanting to know more about them, and less about true dragon's thoughts about them. Also, while I can completely see an evil dragon killing them on birth, what about good dragons? Another question raised is if they're both stunted and legless, how are they so fast?

    I do like the gem spit breath weapon, and that they steal from true dragon hoards, but not sure where the earth DR and magic comes from. There can be reasons for it, but they're not described as particularly earth related other than burrowers in the submission. Because of that, these parts seem tacked on.

    Good and interesting idea, but not fully developed.

    RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Orange Toque

    Does it grab me visually: Somewhat. The description is interesting (especially the missing wing membrane) but I don’t like that when dragons of different types fail to develop in the egg, they all produce something with the same abilities. I would like some discussion on what separates a blue wyrmhiri from a silver one. I do like the gem-vomit breath weapon.

    Would I use it in game: Probably not. There are already so many creatures that can fill the niche of a “dragon encounter without actually fighting a dragon.”

    Would my players enjoy an encounter with it: I think my players would feel sorry for it, once they knew what it was. It could lead to some interesting role playing, but I think they would just kill it to put it out of its misery.

    Osirion RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka flash_cxxi

    I... like this. More and more as I read (well until I got to the DR and Stonespeaking part).

    Drop those last abilites and you've definately got something here.

    It's in my Keep pile for the moment.
    Good Luck :)

    Taldor RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

    Alright, now that voting has closed and it's safe to speak: I'd like to thank everyone for their feedback. Most of it was very helpful. This contest has made me appreciate what 300 words can convey and how much D&D monster descriptions rely upon stats. Describing damage reduction in terms that doesn't include DR 5/piercing is challenging.

    As for the concept behind this monster: My initial read of the task was to create a creature that would fit into a standard fantasy bestiary. I originally thought of an undead creature, but in my reading of D&D monster books, there are a ton of niche undead creatures and I didn't have any ideas that would significantly add anything. However, one niche I have seen is low level dragon challenges. Sure, you could use a wyrmling, but beating up on infants, even infant dragons just never set well with me. The wyrmhiri was meant to be a low CR creature that filled a niche as a dragon-like creature, but also could be used at higher CRs as a source of information about either a dragon hoard or a missing lead on a forgotten tomb.

    As to certain portions of the beastie: wyrmhiri are meant to reflect that the inherent magic of a dragon doesn't always mix well with the egg. What results is a wyrmhiri. They've been twisted by the magic while in egg, and as a result, are born eyeless, legless, but yet sharing a shred of the dragon magic with their trueborn siblings. True dragons kill them, even metallic ones, because dragons are almost universally proud and having the truth that even they are prone to mutation would be a blow to their draconic egos. (Sure individual dragons might treat them differently, but speaking of that would require more of an ecology article and not a 300 word pitch.) Because of this they hate and fear their true dragon siblings, and being dragons at heart, they stick around the nest to steal from their siblings because they want to attempt to prove that they are better than their siblings. EVen if it courts death.

    A number of commentators spoke about the stone tell and stone skin powers. I chose this because dragons are inherently magical and one that spends all its time beneath the ground might reasonably develop a coating of stone on its skin to supplement its scales and a supernatural affinity for stone. The breath weapon is not a breath weapon, but a single use vomit attack. The idea behind this is to deal some damage, but also to give the opponent something to oooh and ahhh over while the wyrmhiri escapes. The burst of speed is produced when the wyrmhiri uses its membraneless wings as catapults to spring forward with a burst of speed.

    I did note the similarity to the tatzelwyrm, but figured there would be room for both in the mythos. Indeed, my thought was that a race of true dragon mutants might explain the sheer number of dragon-like creatures out there due to further mutation or cross breeding.

    I understand that kobolds might be seen as filling the same niche, but I don't agree. Kobolds are dragon servants, humanoids easily customized by adding class levels. Wyrmhiri are dragons with training wheels, or as Greg coined them (which I dig) draconic cockroaches.

    I really dug a lot of the entries in the monster category this year. I feel pretty happy with this entry among them. My other option was a boss creature that really would be the focus of an adventure and then never used again. I chose this monster because my initial reviewers felt, rightly, that it would be more useful to a game and more likely to be dropped into an adventure than a boss that had to have an adventure built around it.

    Once again I'd like to thank the judges and the commentators and anyone who might have voted for me. I hope you're enjoying this whole experience as much as I am. I look forward to seeing what the next rounds bring and the eventual module that will result. Most of all, I am happy that the game to which I have devoted the last eight years of my life is still alive and well thanks to Paizo and the Pathfinder fans. Thanks to all of you for keeping my brain candy fresh, sweet and pleasantly crunchy!


    Congrats James,

    Awesome Critter, I'm thrilled to see you advance, here's hoping that someone stats out your beastie for their round three. I'd be eager to see what you had in mind once the round is complete.

    Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

    Welcome to the Top 16 James!


    Congratulations on making the top 16. And now you get to turn your skills to one of the other entries of this Round... :)

    RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

    James:
    First of all, congratulations on making it to the Top 16. I thought I would wait until after the voting for Round Two ended before offering any commentary or advice. And I'm going to come at it a little differently, in that I'm not going to focus primarily on your design this round. Rather, I'm going to have a go at examining your entire portfolio to this point to sort of assess what you've done well, where you could shore up a few things in your overall design and writing, and then give you some more pointed advice on stuff you could showcase in future rounds to maybe improve your chances of going all the way to the end. So, with that in mind, here goes:

    Spoiler:

    Looking back at your Round One wondrous item, I thought the runcible spoon was a good idea that tried to do too much. And I think I'd probably say the same thing about the Wyrmhiri, as well. You were moving along good with the backstory, the stunted dragons from underdeveloped eggs, and limiting them with lots of problems that one could almost describe as "birth defects" which they've had to find ways to overcome or compensate for...but, then you glommed on the regurgitation "breath weapon" of gemstones and metal...as well as the misplaced ability to speak with stones...and that leaves me feeling like you took it too far again.

    I think from a design perspective you haven't quite got to the point where something completely gels for you in the best package possible. I would encourage you to find the core of your designs and stick with it. Then, push the boundaries with how you describe the elements that "fit" your core concept rather than adding more stuff to it. That way, I think your work will come out stronger and grab the voters' attention (and the judges') better. I actually think it was pretty bold to come out in the monster round with something dragon-related. You risked doing something overdone, but you gave us a fresh spin on it that attracted attention rather than putting people off. And it got you through to the next round. So, your ideas are strong. Your execution of them sometimes goes too far. I'd advise you to rein yourself in a bit, trim off the pieces that don't add much from a visual or flavor standpoint, and then inject more awesome visuals and flavor into what's left.

    Looking forward at Round Three, I also think you need to focus on showcasing your rules-fu. Up until now, there really hasn't been much of an opportunity in your ideas to showcase your knowledge of the mechanics. So, the stat-block is going to be vital to establish that about yourself. Secondly, I think you avoid putting in too much on the powers and abilities of whatever design you select. But, you need to really polish the descriptive elements of both the powers and abilities that remain, plus the actual descriptive text of the creature. Show everyone you can do that without going overboard...and in a way that causes all the parts to contribute and play off one another in ways that make perfect sense for the creature's design niche...and I think you'll really enhance your standing in the competition.

    Best of luck,
    --Neil

    Taldor RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

    Neil Spicer wrote:

    James:

    First of all, congratulations on making it to the Top 16. I thought I would wait until after the voting for Round Two ended before offering any commentary or advice. And I'm going to come at it a little differently, in that I'm not going to focus primarily on your design this round. Rather, I'm going to have a go at examining your entire portfolio to this point to sort of assess what you've done well, where you could shore up a few things in your overall design and writing, and then give you some more pointed advice on stuff you could showcase in future rounds to maybe improve your chances of going all the way to the end. So, with that in mind, here goes:

    ** spoiler omitted **...

    Neil:

    Spoiler:

    Thanks for that! I think you're probably dead-on. I've been thinking the same thing with regards to this next round, so I'll do my darndest to take your advice and crank this badboy up to 12. Because 12 is better than 11. It's louder. [/Spinal Tap]

    Thanks for the advice!


    James

    Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

    Hopefully what I am offering will help your writing/design in future rounds, so good luck!

    Visual: 15 Charisma
    Creativity: 15 Intelligence
    Would I use it: 15 Dex
    Overall: 15 Strength:
    The visuals are good not necessarily great, but different enough from a dragon to be its own creature yet close enough to be identifiable. A poorly developed dragon egg is a solid backstory. Dragons is the name of the game (well it used to be :) so I think this was a good choice. The best part was not going for the tiamat-spawn so many others do. They have to swallow their treasure to keep it from the big dragons? Also good. Regurgitation because the traditional breath weapon did not develop? Fits well with the runt theme. Unlike most entries you did not roll any 18s for me. however all the aspects voted on were strong and few others did that as well.

    Youg got my vote. Congratulations and good luck in future rounds!

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