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Rictus


Round 2 - Top 32: Create a monster concept

1 to 50 of 65 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka DankeSean

Rictus
Description: Undead spawned from and haunting sites where great cannibalistic feasting took place, a rictus appears as a toothy smile unattached to any body, floating in midair. Wispy tendrils of negative energy slowly curl around the teeth. They are also sometimes created as scouts and guardians by necromancers. When not servants to a greater power, they exist solely to feed; not to satisfy any hunger, but to inflict pain and suffering on the living. Individually they are little threat, but sufficient numbers will form deadly swarms. The combined negative energy auras of a swarm dims the lighting in the vicinity- the rictuses themselves seem to be traveling within a dark cloud. Being grouped also transforms them from being near-mindless to possessing a communal intelligence that proves a dangerously cunning hunter. Those who encounter rictuses individually learn to be destroy them before they begin to cluster, or else the last thing they see may be a mass of shadows rushing towards them, dotted with chalk-white teeth grinning and gnashing.
Powers and Abilities: Rictuses have the ability to unerringly hunt and combat prey, even though they lack sensory organs. They are capable of flying at high speed, even outpacing a rider on horseback. The negative energy cloud they generate both shields them and weakens opponents, making them easier prey. They are capable of delivering vicious bites which chew right through solid matter; anything bitten off disappears into a void, though the wounds they leave behind on flesh are real and bloody enough. Upon killing, a rictus swarm usually takes the time to devour their victim right down to the bone and beyond, frequently leaving no more than the teeth and jaws behind—which soon rise into the air and join the swarm that created them.

Pathfinder Creative Director, Frog God Games

Either this is an undead form of the liesinger, or the liesinger is the outsider form of the rictus. Clearly Sean McGowan and Nicolas Quimby are the same person--a person composed of only a single floating Cheshire cat grin. This monster is a creepy little sucker--"haunting sites where great cannibalistic feasts took place"--it's a tough neighborhood that has more than one or two of those. I particularly like the idea that this thing's form of combat unlike most bite-type attacks is to actually eat you as the battle progresses.

Contributor

Apparently (though it's not clearly spelled out) this creature may exist singly or glom together in a swarm. I like the Cheshire-cat look of them and their wisps of darkness.

The description of its powers make me curious about how the designer intended the game mechanics to work for them. And by "curious about" I mean "looking forward to seeing."

I don't like the name--in general I don't like monsters named after real-world terms because it can be confusing when you're trying to use the word outside of its monstrous context.

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

Oh, I quite like the idea of a hungry, toothy ghost. A specter or wraith with a bite attack alone is kind of cool.

I'm not really clear on how the swarm element works in, and I think these guys stand alone well enough without a whole gang.

The whole dismemberment angle can also get tricky with the way the rules work, but could also make for some interesting abilities.

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

Initial Impression: Hey wait another weird mouth? OK so this is the undead version of the magic mouth. Seriously, what are the chances of that. I’m not so sure about this…

Concept (name, overall design choices, design niche, playability/usability, challenge): B
I’m going to try to put the other mouth monster out of my head and judge this one on its own. I have to admit, mouth swarms are not normally the kind of monster that I would like. I want a cool picture in a monster book and I just don’t see it. That said, this is an interesting idea—a cool servant of necromancers that can form an evil swarm. It fills a design niche as a servitor creature. It is a much better obstacle than the other mouth monster (I can’t help but compare them). The thing that I can’t really get past is—why just a mouth? There seems to be little about this creature that plays on the unique idea that it is just a disembodied maw. It makes no sound, which you’d think a mouth creature would. Sure it bites, but what monster doesn’t. I think you failed to maximize your idea. Despite that, I still find this concept interesting.

Execution (quality of writing, hook, theme, organization, use of proper format, world neutral, quality of mandatory content—description, summary of powers): B
The writing is good. I like the evil, cannibalistic feasting description. I like the individual vs. swarm concept, that they might have different powers or abilities if encountered alone. The dimming light, the negative energy shield, the high speed, the way things eaten disappear into the void.
My concern is the niche of this monster. It seems like some low level servitor creature, but then some of its powers seem pretty high level. I don’t have a good feeling for where this thing sits on the power curve and it feels a bit mish-mashed. I don’t know if you have a good idea for where it sits.

Tilt (did it grab me, do I want to use one in an adventure?): B+
Despite having some questions about the mouth choice, I have to admit I’d use these in an adventure. In fact, a swarm of these could be the start of an adventure and it is a rare creature that can do that.

Overall: B+
Chomp chomp chomp! Into the next round I hope!

Recommendation: I DO recommend this creature advance.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

Okay. A flying, undead swarm of wind-up teeth. That is awesome.

And yes, it does make me reconsider my own monster choice, but what's done is done. Hopefully voters will like them both. :)


I can see Nicolas and Sean both thrown into a padded asylum cell in straightjackets, gnashing their teeth, swaying back and forth like a metronome, whispering...

one of us... one of us... one of us...

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

Urizen wrote:

I can see Nicolas and Sean both thrown into a padded asylum cell in straightjackets, gnashing their teeth, swaying back and forth like a metronome, whispering...

one of us... one of us... one of us...

Just you watch, in Round 3 there will be FOUR mouth-monsters!

Even if the round isn't actually about monsters!


Nicolas Quimby wrote:
Urizen wrote:

I can see Nicolas and Sean both thrown into a padded asylum cell in straightjackets, gnashing their teeth, swaying back and forth like a metronome, whispering...

one of us... one of us... one of us...

Just you watch, in Round 3 there will be FOUR mouth-monsters!

Even if the round isn't actually about monsters!

Don't you dare kiss me with those mouths.

<holds hands up>

NOOOoooooooOOOoooooOOooooooooAUUUUGHHHHhhhhhGhhhhhh.....

Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

I really like this monster, it might not have quite as cool of a back story as the other mouth monster this round, but I think it has the edge on it in playability (sorry Hydro). This is a cool monster.

Good luck in the voting!


I'm not sure if these are corporeal or incorporeal creatures from the description. I'm seeing problems with statting them because if you have a group of them it would be so much easier to treat them as a swarm than have to keep track of a dozen different hit point totals, but you've indicated that they can be encountered individually...

As an encounter it seems to me as if there may be some flexibility built into how and when a GM can fit them in, given that the numbers encountered can be scaled, although encountering them does imply necromancy in the area or a site with an unsavoury reputation.

My overall impression is that they are handy little things for a GM to use, but with some concerns over how complicated the maths involved in making them work might get.

Many thanks for submitting this creature.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

I'm pretty sure a creature can have stats both as an individual and as a swarm. Don't rats have individual stats as well as swarm stats?

Sczarni

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


The thing that I can’t really get past is—why just a mouth? There seems to be little about this creature that plays on the unique idea that it is just a disembodied maw. It makes no sound, which you’d think a mouth creature would. Sure it bites, but what monster doesn’t. I think you failed to maximize your idea. Despite that, I still find this concept interesting.

I think this is brought to light is the description, Clark, when they appear naturally it's from victims of cannibalism, and only the teeth - the source of the torment in life rise to torment others in the same way. I like it.


Individually this creature doesn't do much for me, as a swarm of disembodied mouths though... that's really something I would love to inflict on my players. One of those "What the heck is that thing encounters"

Also suits my personal preference toward for monsters that are easy to explain.

I'm going to disagree with Sean regarding real world terms as a name. I really like the name and I can't think of the term "Rictus" occurring in any other adventure/sourcebook I've read. I suspect it's rare enough to use as a monster name without inviting confusion. If it were a core bestiary monster I agree it may be a problem.

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

Sean (McGowan, not K. Reynolds), I don't know if you watch Doctor Who, but in a (fairly) recent episode, there were baddies known as the Vashta Nerada, the Hungry Dark. Your monsters are basically they, with a smile on their non-existent faces.

And that's bloody stylish. The darkness that eats. In single or in swarm (which is one of a couple of monsters this year that can do that, but I think yours have a good reason to), with a great mental image and a good place for a hook.

Of all the monsters I've read so far, yours is the only one to which I have thought, "have to vote for that". Good job.

Cheliax

Definitely a striking image. Yeah a cursory similarity to the aforementioned Dr. Who monster but doesn't seem to be an attempt to copy that. I don't think most players would jump on that. Not to sure about some of the powers and also whether the individual vs. swarm is worth the trouble. I think the swarm is a stronger choice. One mouth by itself might be more comedic than terrifying. I liked the background of the other magic mouth monster but this seems more of a monster to me.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka DankeSean

Me a week ago: 'Ah ha ha, a flying disembodied mouth! NOBODY will come up with a similar concept!'

Oops.

Thanks to the judges for their comments, both complimentary and critical. Whether or not I advance, you've already made me see a dozen ways to tighten these babies up.

Thanks to everyone who has commented, I look forward to being able to answer any and all questions/comments in a weeks time.

Demiurge- as my first (officially declared) voter, I doubly thank you, and can only hope that the line behind you at the polls is quite long. :-)

Vote Rictus! Everyone loves a candidate with a killer smile!

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

I'm unfortunately reminded of the Sci-Fi miniseries "The Langoliers". Still, I like the visual you present, and these are in my top 10, but regrettably not in my top 4.

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

How did the author respond to the challenge? Good description without neglecting to give the essential facts as to how it works.

How does it stack up


  • as an opponent? A high-speed, intelligent swarm is a particularly vicious concept, though a cleric might make short work of an undead version, depending how its hit dice and whatever protection it gets from the negative energy aura compare to channelling at its level.
  • as something other than an opponent? It more or less hovers around and bites things. Good detail given about how they come to exist.
  • in relation to other monsters? Lots of undead in this round and collective undead are not new.
  • in relation to the author's item? I suspect the author might have taken heart from his monkey item getting in to be equally playful here, but it may not take him much further. It could be time to get more serious and original.
  • in itself? It's at risk of being cartoony, for my taste.

I won't rule it out for my vote yet, but it's a big risk.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 aka tejón

Ooh, this was on my short list. Ultimately, Starglim hit the nail on the head with his final bullet point: despite all the horrid little details, when I try to imagine this it turns into a deleted scene from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.

You've got a solid shot at advancing, and you'll deserve it if you do, but I hope next round you can show me something that I don't suspect is winking with the other eye.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I like this far better than the liesinger. Stronger name, better execution, not as much weird description. This is a monster I want to run. Which is why I want to see it statted up. Which is why I hope you will advance :). Best of luck to you!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Cool!

I see the challenges of illustrating it, but I like the text description. I also like that you've provided a reason for these creatures to spring into existence. All of that dying hunger, never satisfied mixed fury coalescing into existence.

Rather than the shock effect of cannibalism, I would go with starvation. As a story point however. A greedy lord starves his peasants, these things come to wreak an awful vengeance.. but their hunger is not limited to just the guilty. So here come the heroes!

I'm wondering the effect of channel energy in putting them down. I mention that because I've seen an undead swarm before.. and they dropped like flies the moment the cleric blinked.

Channel energy might be a great way to defang what could be a really dangerous and lethal swarm. You just have to find the right mechanical balance.

Good luck!

Star Voter 2013

Finally, a gluttony creature that's not obese or starved. I like this quite a bit. I wish I'd had it two years ago when I was doing a gluttony adventure. I like the possibility of an unseelie court connection too, if you're going to go Alice in Wonderland with it.


DankeSean wrote:
Rictus

Mega-cool. I love undead, and your description makes me want to stage a horseback chase with the PCs needing to use every buff at their disposal to keep one step ahead of the rictus swarm - or at least, one step ahead of the slowest party member.

Vote-worthy.


Praise:
Completely solid entry. I see very few grammatical or spelling errors, if any. Well written, descriptive, and to the point. Interesting and different, I am a fan of swarms. Not overly gross but definitely creepy, I would be scared s*less of a wall of munchy necromantic mouth approaching me.

Concerns:
As I said, a very solid entry. I don't see anything that jumps out and says "this is a pass", but I'm not grabbed either. I don't see a ton of adventure hooks surrounding these, but as a nasty creature, this fits.

Overall:
Well this is the second swarm subtype, and the second mouth creature I have seen. It is completely distinct from either, but funny the themes that entries seem to share. Also a theme this year: collective intelligence. However, this is a swarm, and thus has a different bent. I can find no fault with this entry, but for some reason it does not demand my attention. I would use it, but it lacks that 'wow' factor. Similar to the 'Cacophonous Monkey', it lacks errors, but lacks spark too.


Jim Groves wrote:
I'm wondering the effect of channel energy in putting them down. I mention that because I've seen an undead swarm before.. and they dropped like flies the moment the cleric blinked.

Funny, when I saw his bit about a 'cloud of negative energy surrounding the Rictus', I immediately thought that would give some sort of Positive Energy Resistance, or absorbing a certain amount of Positive Energy Damage, besides possibly having an area-damage-effect on any living creatures in the area.

Seems like a solid creature that I could easily see being published in a Pathfinder AP or Bestiary. Good job!

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

Hydro wrote:
I'm pretty sure a creature can have stats both as an individual and as a swarm. Don't rats have individual stats as well as swarm stats?

They do indeed. So do spiders.

I like these guys. They come together and do exactly what they say they do. The power level of the abilities is ambiguous, but hey, they're SUPPOSED TO BE for this round. This is just the flavor text, and flavor text can't really tell the difference between, say, enervation, finger of death,[i] and [i]energy drain - they're all bolts of black negative energy that assaults the very living soul of the target.

The attack all seem to work together, and you place it in the ecology of the D&D world in a way that fits and makes sense, including a creepy spawning ability that totally makes sense for the kind of creature it is.

I think the visual of this swirling cloud of teeth trailing wisps of negative power is cool; makes me think a little bit of jellyfish swarms in water, but with snapping teeth instead of domes. I wouldn't make them silent, though; what's the point of snapping, chattering teeth if they don't moan and clack together.

The one downside is the name; I get the reason why you chose it, but it could be a good deal better.

Overall: I like it a lot. You came up with a theme and ran with it and resisted the temptation to make it a Swiss Army Monster. These guys are on the short list for a vote.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This... this is my favorite monster of the round. Really.

I know there are people who think it's cartoony... I say it's cartoony in the sense that Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass are. Like the Cheshire Cat. But it's surreal, exaggerated, and distorted, and troublingly knowing. It's the kind of reason that Alice in Wonderland material makes good horror stories when viewed through the proper lens.

Or even better, like the Isz from the Maxx. Comical in a certain light, until you consider them as compulsive carnivore intruders from another dimension who'd like nothing better than to gnaw you to a skeleton.

Or the tooth fairies from the second Hellboy movie. They should be cute, but they're vermin that want to devour your bones.

Or, heck, Vargouilles. Join the flock. Who needs a body?

This, to me, has all the harbingers of something that's cute and funny until you really think of the idea of a thousand Slasher Smiles grinning at you from the darkness. A thousand dead minds focused solely on feeding. No need for bodies, no need for stomachs, for the darkness consumes everything and leaves nothing. All it needs are teeth, to bite off nice chunks.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Cool monster. Alice in Wonderland meets the evil dead - In wonderland.

You went the right way with the descripion. A single mouth vs a swarm. I would love to see the stats on this baby.

Good job!


Sean McGowan wrote:

Rictus

cut for space

This is the fifteenth 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.

It’s an undead Cheshire Cat! Whoa. They can swarm. Okay. They turn into a dark cloud of mouths rushing at you, biting and chomping. Cool. (I wrote a spell a few years ago that appeared in Eldritch Sorcery called Fangstorm. Reminds me of my original before the developer got ahold of it.) So, giant vicious smile herd. Got it.

Powers:
*unerringly hunt and fight…(okay, what does unerringly mean in this context)
*…lack sensory organs (then what do they get instead?)
*faster than a horse while flying (yep)
*negative energy cloud weakens opponents (like it)
*vicious bites that chew through solid matter (what about liquid matter – kidding – okay, big bite)
*devours victim down to the bones and the smile, which joins the crowd (even though that’s not quite a power, I really liked that bit)

Summary: Chomp. Cool visual image. Very cool visual image. Sadly, I find by the end of the entry that it seems a little too out there as a critter or a swarm. Probably due to having approached this very visual myself in a different fashion, so I must admit to having a bias. I like certain ideas in it. I feel like with another pass at it, you could tighten this up a lot, focusing on some of the cooler aspects. I’d be intrigued if you can approach it a little differently to make it work.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka DankeSean

I'm wary of commenting too much both out of fear I'll slip up and say something I shouldn't, or that I'm worried about self-pimping or kissing up, but I just need to say one thing here:

Drakli wrote:


This, to me, has all the harbingers of something that's cute and funny until you really think of the idea of a thousand Slasher Smiles grinning at you from the darkness. A thousand dead minds focused solely on feeding. No need for bodies, no need for stomachs, for the darkness consumes everything and leaves nothing. All it needs are teeth, to bite off nice chunks.

Drakli. Marry me.

And while I am already in smoochy mode, thanks again to everyone who's commented. The positive comments are keeping me sane; even if I'm not earning your vote it's nice to glean approval. Of course, I'd still rather earn your vote, so feel free to change your minds if you've already gone elsewhere. :-)

And those who don't love it- I appreciate that you take the time to comment and let me know where you find flaws. Sure, I'm second guessing myself left and right now, but that's what a learning experience is, right? So thanks for that too.


Sean McGowan wrote:

Rictus

Now, thats how I like my disembodied , floating smiles. Gnashing gnawing, always feeding, only a thread by the hundreds, but becoming an unstoppable force of hunger once they gather.

You really gave this two-dimensional ( pun intended) monster a three-dimensional image, yet sticked with the basic theme without trying to do too much.
When you are a disembodied mouth, there is not much space for anything more than just feeding , feeding and a bit more feeding.
The only thing I don't like (again) is the communal intellect angle. In my eyes only few types of monsters are viable to become really smart in packs. swarm intelligence is one thing, but suddenly evolving form a mindless hunter to an expert tactician is too much in my eyes.

Creativity/Innovation:
A vortex of gnawing teeth? I'm sure I've heard of this before, but not in this incarnation. In my eyes the rictus are perfectly suited for a low level horror campaign. ( Just imagine the PCs exploring a cave, when they hear a strange , chittering sound approaching. The Pcs will think they just scared up some bats only to see these rushing at them out of the darkness. Oh the horror, and the carnage)
You did something new and exiting and really brought your concept to life. Again everything about this monster fits to its theme and is understandable and believable. No one will say: " A swarm of floating mouthes' that bite chunks of you and makes them disappear, this doesn't sound right."

Tilt:
How can a mindless, undead swarm grab you and get you thinking about ways to bring them to your game? After all they are either pretty random encounters or servant type monsters.
But i like them enough to be searching for a villain that might use these and how to get him on stage, just to feature this monster, so you certainly grabbed me.

I'm considering you for a vote. You had a tight theme and sticked to it, didn't try to do everything and presented me a well thought trough, well rounded monster, ready to come alive. This way you got me interested in a theme I usually don't like too much. There were some minor glitches in language, but they didn't do it too much harm for me.

Great work and good luck.

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

My thoughts on the rictus...

The Name: I can't say I like a single, real-world word being used as a monster name.

The Description: Another entry this year was a disembodied mouth, and the concept was equally silly in that entry. However, that entry was intentionally whimsical, whereas this one is meant to be deadly serious. The problem with that is not the lack of terror characters will experience in game upon seeing a swarm of mouths, but the incessant jokes that the players will inevitably start making out of game. Because let's face it, a disembodied smiling mouth leaves ample room for jokes. That plays into the hands of a whimsical monster, but can be problematic for a scary one.

The Powers: Creatures that cause things they devour to vanish into the void make me nervous, because they immediately make me wonder what happens when they start swallowing small magic items that would otherwise be resistant to bite damage. Intelligent swarms that move faster than horses make me even more nervous, because that has "total party kill" written all over it. An intelligent, super-fast creatures can respond to PCs attacking some other part of a lair, swooping in and hitting them after they have expended most of their resources in another fight. And swarms are invulnerable to weapon attacks, so the lack of those expended resources may mean the party has no means of harming the swarm at all.

The Buzz: As others have noted, we have two disembodied mouth monsters this round. Accordingly, each of those monsters will be subject to a bit of side-by-side comparison. I happen to prefer my disembodied mouth monsters whimsical, but there seems to be no shortage of voters who prefer the rictus to the competition.

The Vote: I will not be voting for the rictus, though I won't be surprised if a large number of other voters do.

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

Overall, I like the mix of powers, theme and vibe of this monster. Both as an undead swarm and as a undead unattached body part it fills a niche that doesn't have a lot of competition (though it made me think of the Forgotten Realms crawling claws a little bit - the Rictus is way cooler.) I had a few issues with the 'ecology' of how they're created. Generally, cannibals are either loner freaks who probably wouldn't have feasting, or they're from a whole society of cannibals. In the later case, I have a hard time imagining their victims regularly turning into undead. In addition, we already have an undead that comes from cannibals - the ghoul. While it does seem that ghouls come from the cannibals themselves, and the rictus comes from the vicitms, with their similar origins, I'd have liked to hear how the Rictus interacts with ghouls. Do you find them together? Do they attack each other on sight?

Since I'm still way behind reading most of the entries, this one's on the bubble for me until I see what else is out there.


Jason Nelson wrote:
Hydro wrote:
I'm pretty sure a creature can have stats both as an individual and as a swarm. Don't rats have individual stats as well as swarm stats?
They do indeed. So do spiders.

Just to be explicit:

Normal rats do not have stats. Neither do normal spiders. Dire rats and giant spiders have stats. Standard Diminutive-sized rats and Fine-sized spiders do not have stats in Pathfinder.

I'm actually not aware of any swarm creature that has stats as individuals. There aren't any in the Bestiary for sure.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

In the PRD, normal rats have stats under the "familiar" entry.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 aka tejón

Zurai wrote:
I'm actually not aware of any swarm creature that has stats as individuals. There aren't any in the Bestiary for sure.

I'm pretty sure I saw a stirge swarm at one point during 3.5. The DMG2 also had rules for "mobs," which were swarms of larger things.

Star Voter 2013

"Rictus" discriptive, but unimaginative name. I imagine there can be some humor to be had with its similarity to rectum

"Undead spawned from and haunting sites where great cannibalistic feasting took place, a rictus appears as a toothy smile unattached to any body, floating in midair." why does a cannibalistic feast equate to a smile?

"They are also sometimes created as scouts and guardians by necromancers." not sure why you would want a scout which lacks intelligence or vision

"making them easier prey."might have used 'the victim(s)' instead of 'them'

"They are capable of delivering vicious bites which chew right through solid matter"'They are' who the victims? dont like the use of soild matter, this allows for a Langolier style world eating event.

solid entry does everything thats asked for. It just doesnt seem original enough for me. It also seems gimmicky. Again its a solid well done entry congrats
What happens if they encounter/swallow acid or flaming oil? Can they be glued? Can they swallow arrows? now imagine how that would have changed the arrow scene in '300'
Can you cast magic mouth on spirit teeth?

Paizo Employee Developer

This is a pretty cool concept. It might cover too small a niche in game to get a lot of play, but I do get the sense that when used it would be very memorable. Some of its abilities seem like they'd require complex new mechanics to make them work, especially it dismembering its victims. I'd love to see this statted up. Does that mean I hope you make it to the next round? The giant floating lips say, "yes."

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Orange Toque

Does it grab me visually: Not really. I like that they form at site of mass cannibalism, and undead swarms are fun, but flying mouths just don’t really grab me.

Would I use it in game: Maybe. I like that they can be found singly or in groups. It rewards players who take these out fast.

Would my players enjoy an encounter with it: After getting over being attacked by flying mouths, yes. Being eaten alive and watching your flesh disappear sounds quite horrifying. And they would probably scour the area to make sure that there were no more of these who didn’t get swept up in the swarm.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka flash_cxxi

Another floating mouth. hmmm...

I do like this one more than the Liesinger but I just don't thik I like it enough to put it into my Keep pile. It's in the just missed out pile (it's only I think the 4th in there though).
Sorry and Good Luck. :)

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka DankeSean

And... that's it for the voting. Thanks again to one and all who took the time to comment; special thanks, and I think I speak for all the contestants, to the the ones that took the time and effort to comment on every single entry. Seriously, even if I didn't earn your votes, you have my respect for pulling off a daunting feat. I know for a fact I couldn't have done it, at least not with the level of thought and respect you guys did.

So I'm going to try and answer questions that were posed over the course of the week. In the (slim) chance I made it through to the next round, and given the (less slim) chance that the next round involves statting up round 2 entries, I'll try and avoid any stat block specific comments. Whether or not I make it through, I'll be posting a stat block for my entry sooner or later, so hopefully those questions will answer themselves in time.

Greg A. Vaughn and F. Wesley Schneider:

Spoiler:

Greg A. Vaughn wrote:
I particularly like the idea that this thing's form of combat unlike most bite-type attacks is to actually eat you as the battle progresses.
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
The whole dismemberment angle can also get tricky with the way the rules work, but could also make for some interesting abilities.

Not to disappoint, but as far as damage goes I never really planned on anything besides standard bite/swarm damage. By 'bite through anything' I had another ability or two in mind, but they wouldn't be chomping off hands and limbs of opponents mid-combat. Hope I wasn't setting up false expectations there.

Sean K Reynolds:
Spoiler:

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
I don't like the name--in general I don't like monsters named after real-world terms because it can be confusing when you're trying to use the word outside of its monstrous context.

Valid complaint. I was hoping that the term 'rictus' was at a lower risk to inspire confusion of that sort- I figure a DM is less likely to use the term individually than he is to say, 'You enter a room and see an effigy. No, not a MONSTER kind of effigy, I mean an actual effigy of the goblin leader. God, did you guys learn nothing from the gazebo incident?' But I definitely acknowledge (especially since multiple other people had the same complaint) that the name wasn't the best I could have gone with.

Clark Peterson:
Spoiler:
Clark Peterson wrote:


My concern is the niche of this monster. It seems like some low level servitor creature, but then some of its powers seem pretty high level. I don’t have a good feeling for where this thing sits on the power curve and it feels a bit mish-mashed. I don’t know if you have a good idea for where it sits.

My idea was that it could be both, actually. A party might encounter a few of these individually at low levels, probably as minions to a wannabe necromancer, and take them down with maybe slightly more effort than they would a goblin or kobold. Fast forward to much later in the campaign, when the party is investigating catacombs where hundreds of cultists had been walled up and left to starve to death a century ago, and they see a couple of these flitting around as they go, maybe smash a few just to establish that they still aren't any stronger than they were six or seven levels back, get a bit overconfident, and then a swarm of them shows up and strips the barbarian down to the bone in the first couple rounds of combat and the party is rapidly forced to reassess the threat level posed. Of course, that esentially does give two monsters for the price of one, but given Sean Reynolds' clarifications on the rules prior to the entries being submitted, I still felt it made a valid entry. If I were to go with ONE concept, though, it would be the swarm, since that's a bit nastier and deadlier.

Charles Evans:
Spoiler:
Charles Evans wrote:


I'm not sure if these are corporeal or incorporeal creatures from the description.

I probably could have been clearer about that, since one or two other people mentioned 'spectres with teeth' too. They're corporeal, actual physical teeth. I thought that including the create spawn bit at the end and saying that the teeth of the devoured victim rise to join the swarm was enough to imply that, but since it was at the end of the entry it might have been to late to register as such. My bad.

Demiurge:
Spoiler:
demiurge wrote:


I don't know if you watch Doctor Who, but in a (fairly) recent episode, there were baddies known as the Vashta Nerada, the Hungry Dark. Your monsters are basically they, with a smile on their non-existent faces.

This is easily the comment I've has the second-hardest time having to bite my tongue on. I AM a huge Who fan, but I didn't even think of the association at all till you pointed it out. I'm not willing to say that the idea wasn't there subconsciously, but if so, I never knew it. The HUGE irony of this, though... of the two entries I wrote up that I didn't use, I had one that was my absolute favorite conceptually, and it WAS consciously riffed off of a Who monster. Which was why I didn't go with it, since I figured it was too obvious and I'd get criticized for lack of originality. (Hint: Weeping Angels) Just funny, really.

Starglim:
Spoiler:
Starglim wrote:


I suspect the author might have taken heart from his monkey item getting in to be equally playful here, but it may not take him much further. It could be time to get more serious and original.

I really want to address this: if you don't care for the rictus, and you find it comedic, that's fine, and is potentially a case of bad design on my part. I do want to be clear, though, that I did not in any way intend this as a humorous entry. If someone finds the idea of little mouths flying through the air and biting to be funny, it's simply a case of different images inspiring different concepts in people. Me, I find it modestly terrifying. If I failed to account for the fact that someone else might think it was a joke, then that's my fault. Seeing as a couple of people did, then it IS my fault. But I really want to state for the record that at no point- with this or with my monkey- was I doing anything besides taking this competition 100% seriously.

Jim Groves:
Spoiler:
Jim Groves wrote:


Rather than the shock effect of cannibalism, I would go with starvation. As a story point however. A greedy lord starves his peasants, these things come to wreak an awful vengeance.. but their hunger is not limited to just the guilty. So here come the heroes!

And this is another reason you're almost certain to advance while 16 of us are left sighing out in the cold. I actually DID have them tied to a 'cannibalism as a result of starvation' theme that fell victim to word count; think 'Donner Party', and then make it much nastier and worse. You manage to make it even more elegant and give it a neat little plot hook as well. Curse you and your superstar ways. (Insert a smiley or an LOL to clarify that I am not actually invoking the wrath of the dark gods on Watcher; I voted for the skintaker myself.)

Jim Groves wrote:

I'm wondering the effect of channel energy in putting them down. I mention that because I've seen an undead swarm before.. and they dropped like flies the moment the cleric blinked.

Channel energy might be a great way to defang what could be a really dangerous and lethal swarm. You just have to find the right mechanical balance.

Though at least here I was thinking ahead of the game; they're still a swarm and still vulnerable to area effects, of course, but I planned to toss in a thingy or two to make nuke-by-channeling a less win button option.

Quandry:
Spoiler:
Quandry wrote:


Funny, when I saw his bit about a 'cloud of negative energy surrounding the Rictus', I immediately thought that would give some sort of Positive Energy Resistance, or absorbing a certain amount of Positive Energy Damage, besides possibly having an area-damage-effect on any living creatures in the area.

Yup; definitely among my ideas as to what the negative energy field could do.

Jason Nelson:
Spoiler:
Jason Nelson wrote:


The one downside is the name; I get the reason why you chose it, but it could be a good deal better.

Yup; see my above response to Sean as far as that goes. Based on feedback, I think I have a few better name options, especially if I go with these as a swarm, including one Golarion-specific one I'm quite fond of.

Jason Nelson wrote:
I wouldn't make them silent, though; what's the point of snapping, chattering teeth if they don't moan and clack together.

Clark said the same thing, which made me wonder if I wrote something I didn't intend. I just double checked the entry to be sure, and I don't THINK I indicated that they're silent; they'd certainly make nasty chattering and gnashing noises, and I have a few ideas about speech as well. If I did put soemthing in there about silence and I'm just failing to see it, oops. Complete mistake.

Also, Jason, thanks especially for commenting. I mean, thanks to ANYONE who said 'I like this', but I have a huge amount of respect for you as a writer and designer, and your comment came through right at the worst part of the week when I had convinced myself I was out of the running, and made me feel like I still had a shot. Now, of course, I'm back to being convinced of the worst, but I still appreciate it. (And yes, I know you voted elsewhere in the end, but making your shortlist still makes me feel much much better.)

Varianor:
Spoiler:
Varianor wrote:


*unerringly hunt and fight…(okay, what does unerringly mean in this context)
*…lack sensory organs (then what do they get instead?)

This was my clumsy way of saying that they had blindsight without just saying 'they have blindsight.' Honestly, it probably wasn't even necessary and I could have saved myself a few extra words to be used elsewhere, but the thought that someone would say 'hey, they don't have eyes and ears, how do they find things to eat?' just nagged at me.

Eric Morton:
Spoiler:
Eric Morton wrote:


And swarms are invulnerable to weapon attacks, so the lack of those expended resources may mean the party has no means of harming the swarm at all.

The more accurate way to phrase that would be 'Some, but not all, swarms are invulnerable to weapon attacks.' Without giving any actual statistical info, I'll point out that rats are Tiny creatures, and part of my research for this week involved watching a rat scurrying down in the subway and wondering if I could fit it in my mouth if I tried.

The really sad thing is I'm sure that's not the weirdest thing to go through the minds of one of the top 32 over the past couple weeks.


Joel Flank:
Spoiler:
Joel Flank wrote:


I had a few issues with the 'ecology' of how they're created. Generally, cannibals are either loner freaks who probably wouldn't have feasting, or they're from a whole society of cannibals. In the later case, I have a hard time imagining their victims regularly turning into undead.

Yeah, I did have something more in mind than just Hannibal Lecter's victims rising up from the grave. This was more 'cannibalism commited by mobs out of desperation', like I mentioned to Jim above. Though as far as being caused by practitioners of cannibalism... hm. I'm actually getting an interesting picture of a game world equivalent of the Sawney Beane clan going undiscovered for years and years until one day their charnel pit reaches a kind of critical mass and spawns a rictus swarm.

Joel Flank wrote:


In addition, we already have an undead that comes from cannibals - the ghoul. While it does seem that ghouls come from the cannibals themselves, and the rictus comes from the vicitms, with their similar origins, I'd have liked to hear how the Rictus interacts with ghouls. Do you find them together? Do they attack each other on sight?

Given the differences in origin, I didn't really think much about having the two types be found in the same location. Plus I was debating giving some definition to the rictus' sensory abilities as a kind of 'life-detection' power, and that other undead (and constructs, as well)would be effectively invisible to them. Don't know that I would have done that, but it's part of why I didn't put much thought into potential ghoul interaction.

Firehawk:
Spoiler:
Firehawk wrote:


why does a cannibalistic feast equate to a smile?

Mainly because any set of teeth that don't have gums or skin covering them tend to look like they're smiling. I gave it a bit more extreme slant than that, mainly because I like the image, but it's also fair to say that the rictus take a great deal of pleasure in what they do.

Firehawk wrote:


not sure why you would want a scout which lacks intelligence or vision

Fair point. I hadn't really thought that through as well as I should have, and I wanted to give them reasons to be created individually for lower levels. I've pretty much dropped the 'undead servant' angle from my idea for them by now, though, as a result.

Firehawk wrote:


What happens if they encounter/swallow acid or flaming oil?

They'd take damage from the act of swallowing it, I'd imagine, and if it was a splash attack they'd take 1.5 times normal damage as is standard for a swarm. If you're asking me if it would continue to hurt them after being swallowed, I'd say no, less because of the nature of the critter and more because the rules don't really have any kind of proviso for what happens when a monster swallows something less than healthy for it.

Firehawk wrote:
Can they be glued?

Individually, yes; as a swarm, no. I think that's how you'd resolve a tanglefoot bag versus a swarm, at least.

Firehawk wrote:
Can they swallow arrows?

Not ones that are flying through the air, no, though if a DM wanted to play with their feats and give them deflect arrows, it would be a fun visual.

Firehawk wrote:
Can you cast magic mouth on spirit teeth?

Sure, though good luck to you keeping all your fingers if you try...

And that's it for questions needed answering, I think. Whether or not I got your votes, I am seriously honored to have been worth your interest. Thanks again guys.

Andoran RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013

Rictus? Damn near ROLLED us.

Couldn't resist. Great monster.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka DankeSean

Charlie Bell wrote:

Rictus? Damn near ROLLED us.

Couldn't resist. Great monster.

And now I'll be haunted not just by the image of disembodied biting teeth, but of disembodied biting teeth singing 'Never Gonna Give You Up.'


One VERY interesting concept - Positive Energy rebounding. Wow, can't wait to see that filter through the PF-o-tron.

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Sean McGowan wrote:

But I really want to state for the record that at no point- with this or with my monkey- was I doing anything besides taking this competition 100% seriously.

I don't doubt it. With this round we're into the difficult and sometimes painful part of having to decide on limited information between many sincere hard-working people who can't be equally capable of reaching the top of this contest. I saw a trend in what you've presented which, if not balanced in further rounds, could prove to be a limitation of thought, and that's all I intended to convey with these item comparisons I made generally.

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

Sean McGowan wrote:
The HUGE irony of this, though... of the two entries I wrote up that I didn't use, I had one that was my absolute favorite conceptually, and it WAS consciously riffed off of a Who monster. Which was why I didn't go with it, since I figured it was too obvious and I'd get criticized for lack of originality. (Hint: Weeping Angels)

Also quite ironic, I wrote the following a few days ago in the Sensory Stalker thread:

Eric Morton wrote:
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.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

I think that you have a lot of voters who just weren't using the exit polls. However, in the event that you do advance I still want stats for these, because they belong in my game. I thought that the Rictus and the Liesinger could really only be compared in terms of imagery (they're very different creatures); nevertheless, at the risk of sounding self-depreciating, I felt that (as written) you brought the better monster this round.

Best of luck, and I hope we're both still here in eight hours.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka DankeSean

Starglim wrote:
Sean McGowan wrote:

But I really want to state for the record that at no point- with this or with my monkey- was I doing anything besides taking this competition 100% seriously.

I don't doubt it. With this round we're into the difficult and sometimes painful part of having to decide on limited information between many sincere hard-working people who can't be equally capable of reaching the top of this contest. I saw a trend in what you've presented which, if not balanced in further rounds, could prove to be a limitation of thought, and that's all I intended to convey with these item comparisons I made generally.

Fair enough. Just wanted to be sure it was my abilities, and not attitude, that were in question here. ;-)

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka DankeSean

Eric Morton wrote:
Sean McGowan wrote:
The HUGE irony of this, though... of the two entries I wrote up that I didn't use, I had one that was my absolute favorite conceptually, and it WAS consciously riffed off of a Who monster. Which was why I didn't go with it, since I figured it was too obvious and I'd get criticized for lack of originality. (Hint: Weeping Angels)

Also quite ironic, I wrote the following a few days ago in the Sensory Stalker thread:

Eric Morton wrote:
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.

I saw that, yes. Rest assured there was much frustrated gnashing of teeth on my end. But second guessing yourself IS a traditional part of this contest, no? (Of course, another part of why I didn't submit that was that they'd be a really difficult creature to effectively stat up. How do you handle whether or not anyone 'sees' them? Give every member of the party an effective gaze attack that cant be turned off? It could be a fun problem to work out, but it's the sort of question that, when raised in a concept round, can lose lots of votes.)

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