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PaizoCon 2014!

Alexander MacLeod's Chymick Swarm, A Thousand Alchemists


Round 3 - Top 16: Create a Monster Stat Block

Taldor RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16, 2010 Top 4

A thousand metallic bugs fill the air, their metal stingers dripping the same emerald extract that glows from within their glass abdomens.

Chymick Swarm CR 2
XP 600
N Tiny construct (swarm)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +0;
=====
Defense
=====
AC 16, touch 16, flat-footed 14 (+2 Dex, +4 size)
hp 19 (3d10+3)
Fort +1, Ref +3, Will +1
Defensive Abilities caustic defense, swarm traits; Immune construct traits; Resist acid 10, electricity 10
Weaknesses mental degradation
=====
Offense
=====
Speed 10 ft., fly 30 ft. (good)
Melee swarm (1d6 plus 1d6 acid)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks distraction (DC 11)
=====
Statistics
=====
Str 2, Dex 14, Con —, Int 8, Wis 11, Cha 10
Base Atk +3; CMB —; CMD
Feats Skill Focus (Craft [alchemy]), Toughness
Skills Craft (alchemy) +5, Fly +12
Languages Common
SQ alchemist’s boon, swarm traits
=====
Ecology
=====
Environment any desert or urban
Organization solitary, pair, or hive (3-6 swarms)
Treasure none
=====
Special Abilities
=====
Alchemist’s Boon (Ex) For its creator, as well as for any creature that can make it friendly, a chymick swarm can take the place of the basic alchemical equipment needed to make Craft (alchemy) checks. If the swarm is made helpful, it grants a +2 circumstance bonus to checks as if it were an alchemist’s lab, and will use the Aid Another action to further assist its ally’s skill checks. Any creature being so aided by a chymick swarm is immune to that swarm's distraction ability.
Caustic Defense (Su) A creature that strikes a chymick swarm with a melee weapon, unarmed strike, or a natural weapon takes 1d6 points of acid damage from caustic shards of the shattered constructs. Melee weapons with reach do not endanger a user in this way.
Mental Degradation (Ex) Unlike most constructs, the animating force of a chymick swarm is powered by an internal alchemical reaction, requiring that the creatures consume glass, crystal, or silica. Every day that it cannot do so, the swarm takes a -2 penalty to its Intelligence. The entire penalty is removed once the chymick swarm finds sustenance, but if four days pass without the creatures eating, the swarm ceases to function, becoming nothing more than inert copper and glass. The swarm can be reactivated and returned to full mental capacity with the application of four flasks of acid and a DC 20 Craft (alchemy) check.

Typically found in groups of several hundreds, an individual chymick resembles nothing so much as a foot long, copper bee complete with stinger, segmented body, and tiny antennae. The creatures are hollow, with blown glass serving for both protruding eyes and bulbous abdomen. A glowing alchemical extract within both powers the swarm and provides for its acidic defenses.

They can speak common with a thousand echoing voices, but Chymic swarms rarely converse on topics other than the quality of various reagents and the location of the nearest expert glassier.

Chymick swarms are built to serve as both laboratory and assistant to powerful alchemists and potion makers. Dungeons in sandy deserts and crystal-rich areas make excellent lairs for those who use chymicks, and swarms that outlive or escape their creators can usually be found in such regions. Unfortunately, those swarms which become uncontrolled closer to civilization have been known to devour windows, glassware, and jewelry like locusts do wheat.

Construction
The 1,000 individual constructs that make up a chymick swarm are built from alchemically treated copper and glass.

Chymick Swarm
CL 9th; Price 5,000 gp
=====
Construction
=====
Requirements Craft Construct, fabricate, summon swarm; Skill Craft (jewelry) or Craft (sculptures) DC 16; Cost 2,500 gp

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

Sure didn't go the easy route, did you Mr. Macleod? An intelligent, construct, swarm - three unexpected tastes that certainly don't often go together. Points for making the challenge even more challenging.

That being said, the creature itself is pretty simple. Aside from its caustic defense - rightly taking a cue from creatures like ice golems and howlers - its other abilities aren't real combat players. That's fine, but what that does is turns this into a creature that doesn't really shine in combat, making it more of a plot creature. That's a little bit of a shame, as the acid and glass related abilities could have really opened up some doors you don't typically see in swarms.

Well done with the formatting and what not, nothing jumps out as an egregious error, though we don't see "construct traits" in there twice.

As for the description, it's not bad, but it doesn't really sell me on one of the major factors of this creature: its Intelligence. That they're tiny, metal, and driven by chemical reactions doesn't really explain why they're any smarter than your typical golem. And that they seem pretty benign pretty much shoots down the city eating nannite swarm angle that these creatures seemed well suited to. Nothing wrong with the route taken, per say, but every monster should also be a plot hook and get readers to think "OMG, I need to run this, this, or this adventure with this monster!" This monster DOES do that, but I think it had potential for more.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

There's a trailing semicolon at the end of the Senses entry.

Alchemist's Boon: This is actually pretty cool, I like the "animated lab" concept.

The Mental Degradation ability needs to be more clear about how much glass it needs to ingest to avoid this Int penalty (presumably four flasks, which doesn't sound like much to keep the entire swarm going). I'd also like to know what the creature's reaction is to someone that reanimates it from an inert state--is it friendly to them? Does it consider them its new master?

You had some words left over; it would have been great to see this thing with an ability to drink potions and distribute the potion's effect over all creatures, or a swarm full of tanglefoot chemicals, or poison. I think that would have pushed this over the "coolness threshold" for Wes.

Paizo Employee Lead Designer

Well, this entry is really clean and I like the concept, as it plays out in the statistics.

Along with my fellow reviewers, I guess the only real disconnect here is the Intelligence. Its cool that it is intelligent, but it is nonstandard for both constructs and swarms. That is not to say it is wrong, just that it deserves a bit more treatment in the flavor text.

I too, think this could have gone a bit further and one some more crazy things, like producing various alchemical affects.

All of that said though, I cannot find too much wrong with this monster and I think it fills out the concept nicely.

I give this monster an A-.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

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

Note: In my view, this round is more than just making a stat block in a vacuum. I don’t think just seeing if you crunched out the rules properly is the right way to judge a good entry for this round. Instead, I think it’s about taking a concept from someone else and delivering on it mechanically. If a concept has four stated powers, I want to see you execute those four powers somehow unless you have reconcepted the creature. Of course you need to then execute that stat block properly. Sean, Wes and Jason are way more qualified than I am to talk about the nit picks and issues with the stat block. So what I am going to look at is how you took the concept you chose and how executed that concept with your stat block. Because really, that is what freelancing is all about–getting an assignment from someone else and delivering on it.

Initial Impression
I like these creatures a lot and I want to like your submission because my first read shows this to be a solid submission. Let’s dig a bit deeper…

The Execution
Sean and Wes have given their thoughts and are far more qualified than me to address those issues. That said, here are my thoughts:

In my initial review of the concept of this creature I worried about where it sat on the power curve. You peg it at CR 2 and I have to say, that still seems way too low for me. But let’s see if your other design choices change my mind. Well, I think you addressed the value of the essence by making it only really useful in a live creature. That addresses one of the issues I had—that killing these if they are low powered results in really valuable treasure in the form of the essence. So good fix there. And in the end I think you put this in its proper place on the power curve.

All right, so what do Chymicks do and how did you turn those into actual powers?

Well, I like the powers you did detail. Good job. I do think there is a real glaring weakness in your submission—you don’t detail what they do to glass, how they attack it, what damage they do to it, how it is they eat it. I need to know that as clearly these creatures will try to eat potion vials and other glass items of the PCs. Plus, they may be used to attack glass creatures or constructs. I think this is a really glaring omission. Plus you don’t mention anything about their ability to rapidly consume non-living material (even non-glass). While you perhaps decided to omit the latter you certainly aren’t doing away with the glass eating. Also, I don’t like your power of caustic damage as it seems to apply to any attack when I think the initial concept was more of a retributive attack when the creature is killed, and I think that is a cooler power.

So while I really like your vision of these creatures, I don’t think you delivered as well as you could have. The lack of glass eating details and the change to the acidic death explosion are mistakes, in my view. I can’t just look at this submission in a vacuum. I can’t just say “this stat block is good,” though it is. The real goal of this round is to take something someone else concepted and deliver on it mechanically. You didn’t do that as well as you could have.

Final Thoughts
Alexander, I liked your scapular and I was a big fan of the Ardorwesp. I think you took the foot off the gas pedal here a bit. Your execution is sound, but I think you failed to maximize this submission by leaving out the glass eating details and muffing one of the powers I was most looking forward to. That said, you also eliminated the treasure weakness in the original and you delivered a solid monster write up.

I RECOMMEND this for Top 8, but you need to pick it up.

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

I don't think add much that the judges didn't already say, but I will try. It would have been interesting to see some more on their tactics given that they are intelligent. How they deal damage to glass is missing and what they do with that ability besides feed. If they drink potions after they eat the bottle what do they do with it? Are they able to inject allies with consumed potions? Or letting them add fire damage if they consume alchemist's fire? I also envisioned them as higher CR, but that's my problem. The abilities seem well described for the most part. I like the fact that they can be revived if they run out of "gas" and I like the bonus on craft(alchemy). Nice submission. Good Luck


Interesting, very interesting...a lab assistant construct...

Just saw a single grammatical error with "Typically found in groups of several hundreds"; the "s" in hundreds doesn't belong.

I'll keep reading the rest of the entries.

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

I can't say I'm a fan. I wasn't that keen on the original monster, but this stat-block doesn't really deliver on that concept. It's an intelligent swarm, which is interesting, but such things are generally hiveminds (see the torble swarm in PF 25, or the hellwasps from the SRD). How do the individual intelligences interact with each other? The primary hook of the original chymick, the glass-eating, is glossed over mechanically. What about eating the PCs' potion vials? The fact that they're intelligent and civil takes out a lot of the mystery and threat of these critters. The original was steampunk-Borg. They come to your town, assimilate your resources into their mass, leave a trail of property damage in their wake. These seem like nice guys. Helpful. The menace is missing.

A lot of the sentence structure is clunky, with an overconfidence in commas. I'm guilty of comma splices myself on occasion. The word "both" is used an awful lot.

Lastly, the CR is definitely too low. With 19 hp, construct and swarm immunities, the ability to do 2d6 points of damage a round no attack roll, no save, the reactive damage if they're hit and resistance to one of the two energy types low-level PCs tend to be able to do in splash/area of effects, they'd destroy most 2nd level parties with ease.

What did I like? The alchemist's boon is a good idea for an ability, and like Clark said, it helps them avoid exploding into very valuable treasure. But the alchemist's boon is also their weakness. It makes them plot-monsters. They wouldn't be used in an adventure for their own merits, but because they make the alchemist NPC more interesting. They're scaffolding, not Superstars.


Hmm, the poster who gave us the ardorwesp in Round 2 picks the other wasp entry available to stat up for Round 3...
Constructs (especially golems) often describe some method/event which causes them to regain hit points. EG magical fire attacks vs an iron golem, magical electrical attacks against a flesh golem, etc, etc. No indication is given that such a method exists for this construct.
I'm surprised, given the corrosive nature of acids, that creatures dealing melee damage to the swarm may be at risk of taking damage back, but that any weapons that they use are apparently unharmed?

I have to assume that the intention is that the swarm 'eats' glass and other silicates by dealing regular the listed melee damage to the objects in question.

Given that the size given for individual chymicks in this entry is a foot long, I am surprised that a swarm of a thousand such creatures is considered to only have 3d10+3 hp. I am also surprised that the space listed that they occupy is only 10ft square. Yes, in theory, if they stand on one another's backs and arrange themselves in squares, they will all stack into a 10 foot square cube. If the listed length of 1 foot is the greatest dimension, there may even conceivably be some vertical and horizontal scope for them to flap their wings, but that still seems likely to me to require very precise formation flying nonetheless...

You refer to the possibility of other creatures being able to make chymick swarms friendly under Alchemist's Boon, but do not really go into the sort of interactions that might make this possible. Is this dependent on a Diplomacy check? Bribery with large quantities of glass? An Intimidation check 'do it or I'll whack you with a giant animated fly-swat'? As to what Alchemist's Boon does, I'm not sure what to make of that at present... In fairness the intelligent alchemists idea is to a certain extent interesting, apparently playing off the 'alchemy' of real world honey bees.

With regard to particular questions I called out in the Round 2 entry for consideration by anyone attempting to further develop Chymicks:
You give no indication of if these can independently replicate themselves? (This could have been a means by which the swarm could regain lost hit-points, even if rare conditions (for example summer solstice needed - literally the longest day of the year) limited when the constructs could do so).
You give no indication of what the lair/hive of such creatures might look like.
You do look at alternate food sources.
You do not indicate how much per day chymicks eat. (Although to a certain extent leaving it to individual GMs to decide does give them some leeway of how potentially destructive chymicks to be in their games.)
You do list construction requirements.

My overall impression is of an entry which aspires to caution and basic competence (and came in almost a hundred words under budget) in building on what I considered the best Round 2 entry. The stat block seems reasonably tight, but I feel you could have developed this entry more.

Thank-you for submitting this.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8 aka Benchak the Nightstalker

Charles Evans 25 wrote:


Given that the size given for individual chymicks in this entry is a foot long, I am surprised that a swarm of a thousand such creatures is considered to only have 3d10+3 hp. I am also surprised that the space listed that they occupy is only 10ft square. Yes, in theory, if they stand on one another's backs and arrange themselves in squares, they will all stack into a 10 foot square cube. If the listed length of 1 foot is the greatest dimension, there may even conceivably be some vertical and horizontal scope for them to flap their wings, but that still seems likely to me to require very precise formation flying nonetheless...

When I was writing the concept for the Chymick, I actually had them at a foot in length through my first couple of drafts. I eventually dropped them down to half a foot based on your exact concern (would you be able to fit enough of them in a 10ft x 10ft cube to make a swarm?).

I don't blame him at all for bumping them back up, if I had to guess I'd say he was probably worried about making sure they were a Tiny swarm, as opposed to Fine or Diminutive (which would make them immune to weapon damage and pretty much negate the fun of their counter-attack).

On to the entry itself!

Alexander, I like it! It's not quite what I was expecting, but I think the changes you made are for the most part really fun and interesting. Turning them into a living set of Alchemical equipment is a really great idea, and one I'm ashamed to say I didn't come up with myself. It also deftly handled Clark's concern about giving expensive treasure to low-level groups. The Aid Another action is great as well.

Like everyone else, I would have enjoyed seeing how you tackled them eating glass in combat, but overall I feel you did a pretty good job, and you definitely picked up on the "bee as a metaphor for the alchemist" angle I was riffing on.

Therefore, I approve!

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Nice work Alexander. I think you chose an excellent (and challenging!) monster to stat up. I think you did a pretty good job, some interesting abilities, although I would have liked to see the concept pushed a bit further – I would have loved to see these as sinister, civilization killing mechanical locust swarms!

Good luck!

Cheliax

I really like the option of this monster becoming an ally if you can make friends with it.

Cheliax

Very interesting concept; I like the intelligent construct bit as well as the special abilities.

I am a little lost on the HD for the number of creatures and the size; I would expect more HD or smaller/less of them to stay at the 3HD mark.

Over all I like it and would use it in Osirion, Karapesh or Qadira region.

Shadow Lodge

I like what was done here, and as written it just seems like these would be a god-send to the Alchemist-in-the-field, a portable alchemy lab! Makes me wonder if these things would be something a high level Alchemist would be able to make...

Grand Lodge

I am already formulating uses for this creature. With its ability to devour certain materials this creature could be a useful tool to thieves. Could this creature become a familiar for the Alchemists?

I do understand the idea of their intelligence decreasing over time without sustenance. Its the same concept that drives clockwork; you need to wind the gears to keep them working.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

Alexander,

I liked this creature in round 2 and you did a solid stat block for it. The idea of a thousand miniature wasps helping an alchemist craft something is kind of cool, reminds me of the mini clanks from Girl Genius!

Good luck!

Shadow Lodge

Cody Landis wrote:
I am already formulating uses for this creature. With its ability to devour certain materials this creature could be a useful tool to thieves. Could this creature become a familiar for the Alchemists?

This. I definitely see this as something an Alchemist should be able to make with Craft(alchemy), and keep as a familiar type creature by making alchemical items and feeding them to the swarm. That just screams flavor to me, which is one reason this one was one of my top votes for this round. I really hope to get your thoughts on this usage of your envisioning of the Chymick swarm once the voting is over and you are able to comment. So for now I will repeat, well done and good luck!

Andoran RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8 aka AWizardInDallas

Sweet visuals, like winged flying potion bottles. I'd like to know who crafted these little guys and how they were introduced into nature. :)

Well done and good luck to you! :)


I have to admit that I actually like this creature. I am usually not a fan of constructs, however the very nature of it, beneficial and otherwise to it's creator and any being that can make friends with it is awesome. The one thing I usually do not like about creatures like this is the way you have to hunt and dig for a weakness. Not so with this creature. Good job.

Paizo Employee Senior Art Director

Easily my favorite of this round. Well done!

Edit: Not that I didn't like a lot of the rest :)

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka A Man In Black

This is an interesting treatment and has some fantastic imagery. I especially like the little ecological notes; not only do you have a reason to oppose this, you have a reason to talk to it.

It's probably too low CR, conceptually; swarms are hellish on low-level groups, especially swarms which are immune to acid flasks. This is 100% more hardcore than a rat swarm, and rat swarms are tough to fight. A level 2 fighter is going to have something like 21 HP, and in a turn and a half of fighting this thing he can easily take 5d6 damage. That's probably too much damage, especially since any party without an alchemist or a pile of alchemist fire flasks is going need 2-3 turns of solid beating on this to break it up.

I'm not sure if I can vote for this. This is quite cool and one of the more ambitious choices, but it needs another iteration on the math starting with CR. If this were offered as a sample for a monster book, I would be interested but leery of the balance/editing.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka flash_cxxi

One of my favourites from last Round, I'm glad to see someone tackled it.

At 1 foot though I have trouble seeing them as a Swarm of several hundred. That's just me though and I was nitpicky about the Swarm aspect last round as well.

I like what you've done with it and with 6 Votes this round I think I can quite easily vote for this, although I still ave a number of entries to read.
Good Luck! :)

Taldor RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16, 2010 Top 4

Charles Evans 25 wrote:
Hmm, the poster who gave us the ardorwesp in Round 2 picks the other wasp entry available to stat up for Round 3...

Heh.

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

And I mean that!

A.


I can not really add anything my fellow peps already said. This stat up rocked. I love the fact they are "busy" bees. I and i would love to see the look on a town-folk's face when the swarm eats all the nobles jewelry and stain glass windows....you sir get a vote

Star Voter 2013

Being a newb does darkvision supersede low-light vision? If so should low-light have been listed?

Space = 10 ft = 10x10x10 = 1000 cu feet. If the bees are 1 foot in length lets assume the fill 1 cu foot that means you can have 1000 bees in the swarm. But that is a very tight airspace so lets assume the bees need 3x3x3 = 27 cu feet that means there can be 37 bees in the swarm. If a bee can have a max hp of 33hp (3d10+3) does 1221 (33*37)total points of damage and 22200 xp (37*600) equal a CR2 swarm. Or does each bee have less 1 hp (33/37) and 600 xp for the swarm.

I agree with Clark on the Caustic Defense. Plus Caustic Corpse is a better name ;)

Mental Degradation, not a fan of the implementation. Churches with all their stained glass would hate these things.

No chemical stinger attack :(

While I was reading this I had the thought. Instead of being Flying Labs what if the nests were the labs, with crystal honeycomb chambers full of strange liquids. These chambers could be boken loose from the nest, opened and drunk as a random potion/flask, just dont drink the larval bee

Spoiler:
treasure: per nest, 2d6 crystal chambers that have a 50% chance of containing a random potion, other wise it contains a wingless larval bee that attacks. Exposed Chambers last 48hrs before spoiling

Spoiler:
As you break open the crystal out of the black murkiness inside leaps a slimy white larval bee

Shadow Lodge Star Voter 2013

You get my vote... and I'm stealing this creature. I have an alchemist that is going to be more like Shino now... ;D

*places vote in ballet box, grabs stat block and runs*


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

While I won't claim to be as knowledgable as others on the mechanics of the creature, I think the abilities were well done. I could see the monster being a little more challenging in terms of damage or level.

This wasn't one of the entries I was very impressed with in R2, so thanks for changing my mind. The idea of a flying, chemical construct as you show seems feasible instead of too "gimmicky." Making the alchemy theme a part of the monster grounds it more - it also explains how it could be used as random threat or as part of a bigger story.

While the skill support idea is interesting, not entirely sold on that side of the idea. Still, props for creativity on expanding it in terms of game mechanics. Nice work, Alexander! Certainly considering it for my vote.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I liked the Chymick entry from round 2 and I love what you've done to the stats.

You've got my vote.

Star Voter 2013

No glaring errors except for the foot-long individual creature size. That's one plus in a round where everyone seemed to have a one step forward, one step back submission. It's the lowest CR creature we've had, which is another plus. It works on both sides of the 'tagonist fence, which is good.

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

I liked this creature and voted for it last round...

and I LOVE what you've done with it.

I love the non-fight-kill aspects of the creature. Portable swarm of lab assistants? Yes please! Could use some more detail on glass eating, tho.

Flying swarms are quite hardcore at low levels, especially since as constructs they are immune to nonlethal damage from wind effects and other stuff that might be used to break up a normal swarm. Probably CR 3 is better. Still, it's well within the target range for this round.

Yes, you could've done more with the words left over - an ability for the construct swarm to use (and share) potion effects would've been neat and very appropriate. So would the upthread suggestion about them having nests where you might find stored chyme/essence stuff that works like potions but spoils quickly.

On the other hand, we've seen a lot of entries this round that fall on the side of trying to do way too much, and I'm inclined to support a contestant who recognizes the value of economy of words and of design. Simple doesn't have to mean boring. It can also be clean, tight, and focused.

Clark is right, you do need to step it up a little because you need to find the right balance. You had a LOT of words left over; you came in like 15% under word count. That's pretty significant, and when you go for tight, lean, and focused but leave extra words lying on the cutting room floor, that opens you to critique for being TOO lean and not giving quite enough mojo.

This one is definitely getting a vote - I love the monster and I love your interpretation - but put your foot to the floor on the next round. You've shown that you're good, but now you need to show that you're a Superstar!

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

I'm not 100% sold on your interpretation of the chymick, if only because the glass-eating was largely relegated to flavor text. It's like you statted up a rust monster without giving it the dreaded metal-to-rust power, added a throw-away line saying it eats metal, and turned it into a friendly chum that helps dispose of scrap metal.

That being said, this is probably the most technically-accurate, campaign-useful stat block this round. The numbers are correct. The alchemical boon is clever. You avoided giving the swarm immunity to weapons, which keeps it on the high end of its CR without going over. The chymicks can fill lots of niches, which is unusual for a swarm monster.

Well done. You've earned my vote.

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

I wasn't a big fan of these in R2, and feel that has translated into not liking it so much in R3. My main issue is still why would someone create one of these? As a combat threat, it's not all that powerful (though I agree it's probably higher than CR2), but the main use that this has over just a basic construct is that it helps the alchemist. I still don't get any explanation on why an alchemist would want one of these to help them. Yes, having a portable alchemist's lab is useful, but you can do that with a bag of holding and a regular lab. Also, if you do want your portable alchemist's lab, why would you throw it into danger as a combatant ever, instead of keeping it safely in storage until you need it.

Finally, constrcuts have a huge disadvantage as monsters - they tend not to have any culture of their own, and thus aren't particularly interesting unless their actual powers are cool. In this case, while it's intelligent, there's no description of how it acts and uses that intelligence, and it's powers aren't particularly exciting either.

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

This will be getting one of my votes.

Overall, I like your interpretation of a creature I liked from round 2. You've given them a role which makes a lot of sense, and nicely expanded on the original description.

I was hoping to see a "glass eating" ability, but the lack of that ability did not detract much from your entry.

Good luck in this round!

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 aka tejón

The judges touched on most of the points that pop out at me. I'd love to know more about their behavior, since their intelligence will make it complex than your average construct and/or swarm. Its attitude toward someone who reactivates it after it "starves" is very important. I also agree that you should have expanded more on the mechanics of their glass consumption.

Unlike Clark, I don't mind that you turned the individual death bursts into a damage return effect, because... you didn't! It's a swarm! With the ratio of hit points to individual entities, you're bursting dozens with every swing. Mind you, I think the HP (and CR) should have been a bit higher for exactly this reason... which ties in with the issue of a thousand foot-long chymicks fitting in a 10-foot cube. There's a mechanical-conceptual dissonance there. I don't think it kills the entry, but it sticks out more and more as I think about it as something that should be fixed one way or another.

The one thing that concerns me from a balance perspective is that this swarm can become an ally to the players... in fact, it's set up to do so. The "living lab" concept is really cool; but hand-in-hand with it is "pet swarm," and for a 2nd level party that might be a little too good.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 , Star Voter 2014

I would have liked to have seen something less swarmy, but that's just my preconception of the Chymick from last round. Taken as a swarm, I think you did a good job and this is on my short list to advance.

Shadow Lodge

Joel Flank wrote:

Yes, having a portable alchemist's lab is useful, but you can do that with a bag of holding and a regular lab. Also, if you do want your portable alchemist's lab, why would you throw it into danger as a combatant ever, instead of keeping it safely in storage until you need it.

Because thats BORING!! :) This screams serious flavor, and really plays in with the idea behind an alchemist, at least in my mind. Wizards keep alchemy labs in BoHs, Alchemists ( who I see as having a bit of a looser grip on reality from mutagen exposure) go for pizazz! So essentially, just fits the flavor that I personally see the alchemist having. YMMV, as always. And who says the alchemist uses his swarm in combat? Maybe he just treats it as an alchemical familiar, names it Terry and mutters under his breath how it better stop talking back to him, or else! Or else what? Exactly!


I'm sorry I don't have time to do a full review, like I've done for other entries. Real life intruded, and the vote ends tomorrow.

It's my opinion that this is both visually less apealing than the original, and has an incorrect CR. Like many other people mentioned, I don't think you thought about what 1000 one-foot creatures would look like in a 10x10x10 cube. I also feel that this submission is too tough for a CR 2. I ask you to compare it's defenses with the damage a standard 2nd level character is capable of dealing. Sorry, but I will not be voting for this.

Congrats on advancing, and good luck with any future design.


Love the whole thing about when they die they shoot acid onto you...reminds me of the Alien movies. Which I loved. You got my vote. Also I would like to see what they do to gems and such, yea I know they are not technically glass but not only are they after your potions, but your loot as well. Great good.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I didn't see the point of this monster on the previous round, and you turned it into a flavourful encounter. Plus the statblock is clear and describes effectively a nasty alchemist or wizard lab guardian for a low-level party.

You have my vote.

Bran.


This was the first entry I looked over, and since then I have picked up some tips on thing to watch out for from other posters and fom the judges.
Coming back to this one, I cannot see where the skills given come from.
If 1 rank has been put into Fly then the Fly score adds upto 12 (1 rank, + 3 class skill bonus as creature with fly speed, +2 size bonus, +2 Dex, +4 maneuverability) but then the Craft score only adds up to 4 (2 ranks, +3 skill focus, -1 Int). If all 3 ranks have gone into Craft, then the Craft score is correct, but the Fly score ends up 4 points lower owing to the class skill bonus not being activated.


You narrowly made one of my 'honourable mention' votes.


Congratulations on making it through to Round 4.

Taldor RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16, 2010 Top 4

Charles Evans 25 wrote:
Given that the size given for individual chymicks in this entry is a foot long, I am surprised that a swarm of a thousand such creatures is considered to only have 3d10+3 hp. I am also surprised that the space listed that they occupy is only 10ft square. Yes, in theory, if they stand on one another's backs and arrange themselves in squares, they will all stack into a 10 foot square cube. If the listed length of 1 foot is the greatest dimension, there may even conceivably be some vertical and horizontal scope for them to flap their wings, but that still seems likely to me to require very precise formation flying nonetheless...

The 1,000 comes directly from page 313 of the Pathfinder Bestiary which states that, "A swarm of Tiny creatures consists of 300 nonflying creatures or 1,000 flying creatures." And, as Benjamin Bruck suggests, I did increase their size to Tiny so that weapons would affect them.

Jared Goodwin wrote:
It's probably too low CR, conceptually; swarms are hellish on low-level groups, especially swarms which are immune to acid flasks. This is 100% more hardcore than a rat swarm, and rat swarms are tough to fight. A level 2 fighter is going to have something like 21 HP, and in a turn and a half of fighting this thing he can easily take 5d6 damage. That's probably too much damage, especially since any party without an alchemist or a pile of alchemist fire flasks is going need 2-3 turns of solid beating on this to break it up.

Looking back, I think I only took one of the swarm's four 5-foot squares into account when looking at a CR 2 monster's average damage. With more squares of the critters being able to put out more damage, they probably should be CR 3...

Jason Nelson wrote:
Clark is right, you do need to step it up a little because you need to find the right balance. You had a LOT of words left over; you came in like 15% under word count. That's pretty significant, and when you go for tight, lean, and focused but leave extra words lying on the cutting room floor, that opens you to critique for being TOO lean and not giving quite enough mojo.

I have exactly 1,200 for my next round, but, yes, I was quite a bit under this time. Although, I think James Jacobs mentioned that for the first Bestiary they had a 5-600 word limit. Can I convince you that's what I was aiming for? You'd all believe that, right? :D

Charles Evans 25 wrote:
Coming back to this one, I cannot see where the skills given come from.

Ah, another tough one. Flying creatures always have Fly as a class skill, but constructs never have any class skills. I leaned towards the later.

Once more, thank you to everyone who voted for me. I hope to keep you with me through the next round and on to victory!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

I just wanted to add that I enjoyed writing up your creature! Good luck!

(Voters, I hope this was okay for me to say, because we're between Rounds right now!)

Taldor RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16, 2010 Top 4

Jim Groves wrote:
I just wanted to add that I enjoyed writing up your creature! Good luck!

Why, thank you, sir. Hope we see each other in the next round, too.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Alexander MacLeod wrote:
Jim Groves wrote:
I just wanted to add that I enjoyed writing up your creature! Good luck!
Why, thank you, sir. Hope we see each other in the next round, too.

Me too!

Paizo / Messageboards / Paizo Publishing / RPG Superstar™ / Previous Contests / RPG Superstar™ 2010 / Round 3 - Top 16: Create a Monster Stat Block / Alexander MacLeod's Chymick Swarm, A Thousand Alchemists All Messageboards

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