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David Posener's Astrumal


Round 3 - Top 16: Create a Monster Stat Block

Andoran RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Dementrius

A rock-like, black shell sheathes the bulbous body of this hovering, spheroid abomination. Obscene swells of pallid flesh spill forth from groaning fissures in the creature’s shell, exposing numerous large, twitching, segmented appendages. Its wide, tooth-ridden maw exposes an iridescent void which emits a disconcerting, rhythmic hum.

Astrumal CR 5
XP 1,600
Always CE Medium Outsider (chaotic, evil, extraplanar)
Init +0; Senses blindsight 120 ft., detect thoughts; Perception +10
Aura aura of lunacy
=====
Defense
=====
AC 19, touch 10, flat-footed 19 (+9 natural)
hp 57 (6d10+24); fast healing 3
Fort +8, Ref +5, Will +6
DR 5/magic; Immune cold, fire; SR 16
Weaknesses vulnerability to electricity
=====
Offense
=====
Speed 20 ft., fly 30 ft. (good)
Melee Bite +11 (2d6+4 plus annihilation), 3 pincers +8 (1d8+2 plus grab)
Ranged Electrocuting Ray +6 ranged touch (1d6 electricity plus 1d3 Int damage plus pull or push)
Special Attacks annihilation, electrocuting ray, pull (ray, 10 feet), push (ray, 10 feet)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 6th; concentration +8)
Constant—detect thoughts
At will—charge metal (as heat metal, with electricity instead of fire damage) (DC 14), hold person (DC 14)
1/day—repel metal and stone (metal only) (DC 20)
=====
Statistics
=====
Str 19, Dex 10, Con 18, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 15
Base Atk +6; CMB +10 (+14 grapple); CMD 20 (can’t be tripped)
Feats Great Fortitude(B), Improved Natural Attack (bite), Multiattack, Weapon Focus (bite)
Skills Fly +13, Intimidate +11, Knowledge (the planes) +10, Perception +10, Spellcraft +10, Stealth +9, Use Magic Device +11
SQ conductivity, no breath
=====
Ecology
=====
Environment any (Leng)
Organization solitary, shock (4-12) or apocalypse (50-500)
Treasure standard
=====
Special Abilities
=====
Annihilation (Su) The void-field within the maw of an astrumal annihilates any material within, dealing an additional 1d6 damage. An astrumal can disintegrate up to a 1-foot cube of non-living matter per round, including force effects.
Aura of Lunacy (Su) Any living creature within a 30-foot radius of an astrumal must succeed on a Will save (DC 15) or yield to the creature’s insidious, oscillating magnetic field. Those who fail succumb to confusion and rage for 6 rounds. Creatures resistant to electricity are unaffected. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Conductivity (Su) Temperature affects the speed and power of an astrumal. At temperatures below freezing or if attacked with cold damage, it benefits from haste but reduces the save DCs of its spell-like abilities by 2. At temperatures above boiling or if attacked with fire damage, it suffers from slow but increases the save DCs of its spell-like abilities by 2. These effects last for the duration of exposure (minimum 1 round).
Electrocuting Ray (Su) An astrumal fires rays of electricity, out to a maximum range of 120 feet, damaging foes and incapacitating their minds. The rays may only push or pull creatures that wear metal armour or are composed entirely of metal.
No Breath (Ex) An astrumal does not breathe and is immune to inhaled poisons and diseases. An astrumal is immune to pressure damage.

Nightmare creatures birthed from the twisted essence of Leng, astrumals are slaves to their hunger, despite their intelligence, driven to devour worlds in a ravenous frenzy. The abominations emit a sinister magnetic field driving nearby creatures berserk or catatonic. An astrumal also uses this field to sense its surroundings, read surface thoughts, incapacitate foes or electrocute enemies, quickly burning out their fragile minds. The monster’s magnetic aura also provides control over metallic objects and enables its flight.

Denizens of Leng rain astrumals on Material Plane worlds as instruments of genocide against hapless mortal populations that provoke their ire. Astrumals spawn quickly after feeding and, if left unchecked, spread across the world leaving frenzied anarchy and collapsed civilisations in their wake. The teeming abominations strip the crust of organic matter before slaking their endless thirst on the iron-rich magma at the planet’s core.

When the husk finally collapses millennia later, astrumals leave the barren rock and float across the vast dark gulfs between the stars looking for new worlds, rich with life and metals, to decimate. A planet’s magnetic poles attract astrumals and it is here the inhabitants first glimpse the pale lines of meteoric fire which foreshadow the coming devastation.

Paizo Employee Lead Designer

Let me start off by saying that I think this monster is a bit overwrought. When I think of world ending threats, CR 5 is usually not my first choice. That said, I think the execution makes it possible.. sort of like a swarm of locusts. The other part of that is that the monster might just have a little bit too much going on, with its disintegrating maw, push/pull ray, multiple resistances, spell-like abilities, aura, and variable conductivity quality. Its just a bit much to keep track of with a CR 5 critter.

On to the specifics.

- Detect thoughts should list a DC... either up top or in the spell-like abilities area.
- I think there is a bit of a disconnect with the electricity vulnerability and the fact that it has an electricity ray. Seems sort of odd.
- The aura should cause rage or confusion, but both makes little sense, especially since the confusion makes it 75% likely that the rage has little effect. That said, a confusion aura is really quite powerful to throw at 5th level characters.
- Too many defenses for CR 5. Fast healing, DR, SR, and immunities is probably a bit too much for 5th level characters to overcome, especially considering that its hp and AC are just about on target for that level.
- Damage output is too high. Its one round average is around 32 and should be about 20.
- Repel metal and stone is way too good for CR 5. This means that the fighter types basically cannot engage the creature.
- Improved Natural Attack is usually reserved for advancing monsters. If the monster needs a better damage value, you can assign it one (although it this case, it probably needs a lower value)

Most of the math here looks right and I appreciate the large group being called an apocalypse, but this critter is just too complicated and deadly for CR 5.

I give this monster a C-

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

Contributor

The "always" {alignment} thing is a 3e/3.5 habit, Pathfinder doesn't do that (notice that the sample monster format doesn't have an entry for alignment preponderance, and the creatures in the Bestiary don't list it).

As an outsider, this should have darkvision.

The additional abilities of this creature's (electro)magnetics are new compared to last round's version of it, and I had to read the description below the stat block before continuing so I knew where you were going with this.

Improved Natural Attack is mainly used for advancing an existing monster; if you want your new monster to have a better natural attack, just give it the better damage.

Anihilation: This is listed as part of its bite attack, but the ability doesn't explain what happens when it bites a creature wearing metal. Does it wreck the target's armor? Damage the target's armor? Force carried magic items to save or be destroyed?

I'm not sure what you mean by its Environment is "any (Leng)." Does that mean "any (it's from Leng)"? "Anywhere in Leng"?

Knowledge (the planes) is called Knowledge (planes) in Pathfinder.

If this creature eats living creatures and even inorganic materials such as lava, why does it carry treasure? Why would it have Use Magic Device when it's probably going to eat everything it sees?

Please tell me you don't really expect to deal with an encounter consisting of 50-500 of these?

Aura of Lunacy: My problem with this power comes from the rage, which not only requires all affected PCs to recalculate a lot of stuff on their character sheets, but it completely shuts down affected spellcasters for 6 rounds, no chance to break it on your own (unlike, say, hold person, where you can at least re-save every round).

Electrocuting Ray: This power runs right into the problem with magnetic abilities—it only affects creatures "wearing" metal armor, which means someone carrying a suit of armor or even 100 lbs. of adamantine ingots is immune to this ability. That makes it easy to determine who's affected and who's immune (though studded leather is still questionable), but in terms of how the ability works it doesn't make sense.

This monster has some problems and probably tries to do too much for its CR.

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

Awww dude, "Leng" got stuck on the side of this monster like Pepsi on the side of a race car. Soda has nothing to do with racing and electric asteroids have nothing to do with Leng. These guys just don't feel Lovecraftian to me, much less like the tools of inscrutable traders like the Denizens of Leng. They're not nearly subtle enough. It's hard to do Lovecraftian right. When it's on, you notice. And when it's not, you notice even more.

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

Wes, I am right there with you. I didn't like the Lovecraft tack on with Leng.

I think it's my fault, though.

Here is what I put in my review of the initial concept:

"Boy, I don’t know. This is a bit sci-fi. It presumes solar systems and aliens. The rules want setting neutrality and they also say a submission shouldn’t be “science fiction, steampunk, or some other genre creature that could not reasonably be a part of a standard fantasy roleplaying game.” I’m not sure this monster fully runs afoul of that restriction, but it’s close. I will agree it’s not a clear violation. The voters will have to determine how much to grade you down for this. I guess the “dark gulfs among the stars” gives it the suitable Cthulhu rather than sci-fi flavor that makes it OK. But then the whole metal and magnetism thing makes it too sci-fi for me."

I think David was perhaps just trying to "Cthulhu-up" the monster to take it out of the "unacceptable" sci-fi realm and into the "acceptable" Cthulhu realm.

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

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
Its no secret this wasn’t my favorite creature from last round, but the community advanced it so I won’t hold that against you! Let’s see what you got…

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:

An Astrumal, as described in the initial concept, has the following powers and in parenthesis I put the things I expected to find in the stat block as a result:

* floats unsteadily above the ground (some hover or flight)
* numerous large, twitching, crustacean legs and pincers (multi-leg and pincer attack)
* wide, tooth-ridden maw (bite attack)
* Their bodies emit varying waves of magnetism that draw and push them between places until they reach a new planet rich with life and metals (some kind of intergalactic travel power)
* consumes everything it comes across (a need to consume and some ability to devour more than just a mouth)
* The astrumal’s body radiates a constant aura that repels or attracts all metal around it. The aura can be altered at will but it cannot be suppressed and gives the astrumal some innate magic ability dealing with metals (magnetism power)
* Completely without normal sensory organs, the astrumal can detect its surroundings using its magnetic field (maybe some magnetic blindsense)
* While it can defend itself with its limbs, the astrumal primarily uses these to grab and drag prey to its mouth (some type of grab or grapple attack and follow up bite)
* The bite of an astrumal is particularly deadly because of the highly corrosive saliva it uses to break down metals in its diet (corrosive bite, perhaps part of the “need to consume” power)
* An astrumal’s exoskeleton is made to withstand the heat of entry to a world and thus resilient to damage from both weapons and fire (resistance/DR/armor)

That’s a pretty long list. And, frankly, it gives me concerns that you can do it at CR 6 or less. So let’s see what you did.

Hover or flight: It’s got flight, but no Hover feat–yet there is hovering in the intro text. Hmm. Though it’s fly bonus is enough to let it hover without much problem. Still, I think this thing needs Hover.
Legs and pincers: Check
Toothy maw: Check. And I like the annihilation power. But it is pretty over the top for a CR 5 monster.
Corrosive bite/Consumption: No corrosive bite, but the consumption is there.
Intergalactic travel: I guess the no breath thing solves that. Not sure how this guy travels through space at that movement rate. He gets a haste bump in the cold of space, it seems.
Magnetism power: I thought the repel metal solution was, in theory, a good one. The problem is that is simply not a CR 5 monster power. No way.
Blindsense: You gave it blindsight.
Grab or grapple: You handle this with text, not a power. That’s fine.
Resistance/armor: This thing has tons of resistance.

Then you add on top of a monster that already is overpowered and has too much going on for a CR 5 monster these extra powers of hold person, aura of lunacy and this electric ray.

David, I just think this thing is too much for CR 5, even had you kept it to just the powers described by the initial concept. But adding all that other stuff in, no way. I really think you missed the mark here.

Final Thoughts
David, I liked the seeds and the Haga. But I think you made a bad choice of monster concept to stat up and I think on top of that you compounded your problems with the extra rays and powers. This is just not a CR 5 monster. It’s up to the voters, but I can’t advance this entry.

I DO NOT RECOMMEND this for Top 8.

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

Hmm. I like the conductivity bit. I agree that the electric ray does seem to mesh with the vulnerability to electricity. It seems like maybe you wanted them to be affected by electricity in some way since they are magnetic. Which makes sense to me, but if that is the case, I don't care for your execution. I also don;t get why the disintegration destroys force, but that may be some lack of experience deal with those aspects of the game mechanics on my part. The Apocalypse bit is interesting, but I don't see a way to resolve that in any way other than a "deus ex" in an actual game. I could see a party encountering one, then a sock and then a build up as they hunt for the deus egg that will make the horrible bad monster cloud go away, but I don't know if it is a realistic quantity for any other purpose. You tried to bring the uber beast down and I appreciate that, good luck.

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

Jason Schimmel wrote:
Hmm. I like the conductivity bit. I agree that the electric ray does seem to mesh with the vulnerability to electricity. It seems like maybe you wanted them to be affected by electricity in some way since they are magnetic. Which makes sense to me, but if that is the case, I don't care for your execution. I also don;t get why the disintegration destroys force, but that may be some lack of experience deal with those aspects of the game mechanics on my part. The Apocalypse bit is interesting, but I don't see a way to resolve that in any way other than a "deus ex" in an actual game. I could see a party encountering one, then a sock and then a build up as they hunt for the deus egg that will make the horrible bad monster cloud go away, but I don't know if it is a realistic quantity for any other purpose. You tried to bring the uber beast down and I appreciate that, good luck.

The disintegrate vs. force bit is presumably a pick-up from how Dis. destroys a wall of force.

I really liked the Astrumal - it fell just outside of my top 4 for the last round, and your monster, the haga, was my favorite for this round.

Overall, I like your vision of the astrumal and could see using it. I'm no Cthulhu scholar, so the Leng bit doesn't inspire love or hate for me, except that I agree that it seemed kind of randomly tacked on for the sake of window dressing.

The powers you gave the monster are nice; I was interested to see how you would pull of the magnetism angle, and frankly I'm surprised you didn't just go with a telekinesis power that only affected metal. I did like the electrocution ray as a power, though it didn't really match anything from the original monster last round. The bit about hot and cold was fun and a nice touch, and so was the electro-heat metal power.

The thing is, although it has lots of neat parts, it just has WAY TOO MANY for CR 5, and they are way too good.

- Total immunity to cold and fire?
- Aura that totally bones spellcasters (rage = no casting) and non-spellcasters (bad will save = confusion) alike?
- DR and SR?
- An "I win" button against most melee fighters (its repel power)?

There were some bits that were a little wonky (like the annihilation bite - does it dissolve a PC's equipment if they get grabbed?), but I think the bigger problem was it just had too much going on for the CR you were targeting.

I liked the seeds and I loved the haga, but I don't think this guy is going to get you through to the next round.

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

I'm amused by all of the judges picking on the confusion and rage combination when it's been used in published Pathfinder material before. The chortov devil from Pathfinder 27.

As for this guy...

Wow. I think I like the astrumal more now. But not as a CR 5. Certainly not. The electric ray and the madness make these guys feel more like Daleks, which is always a plus in my book, but between the aura, the immunities and the repel metal, they've got too much oomph for their CR bracket.

If this were a CR 10-15, I'd be all over it. The push and pull on the electric ray is an elegant mechanical way to do magnetic powers. The aura of madness is really potent, and flavorful. But again, not CR-appropriate.

There are some dubious choices, CR issues aside. As was mentioned, it's weird that the eaters of worlds carry treasure and have ranks in UMD. I'm also not sure why the madness aura conveys magnetism in its flavor text. And I am in concordance with F. Wesley Schneider about the Leng name-drop, even though Pathfinder's established that Leng's full of awful things that aren't of Lovecraft-level subtlety, like Wolfgang Baur's inverted giants and the Oliphaunt of Janderlay. It's the fact that they're associated specifically with the Denizens that does it. Orbital bombardment is hardly inscrutable.

This guy is borderline for me. I really like it, but I'd like it a lot more if it had the CR cap taken off. It may get a vote; it may not. But if you think the average 5th level party can take one of these things, you're either a sadist or your party's seriously overpowered.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hey Dave, glad to see you in this round. Wow, like Chris taking on the Haga, I think you may have bitten off a bit more than you can chew working these guys up as CR 5. Like others have said the abilities – while definitely interesting, cool and fitting – are probably a bit much for CR 5 or even 6. I also would have preferred to see these guys remain as aberrations from space, rather than outsiders from Leng – just doesn’t work that well for me.

Otherwise, I like what you’ve done with a monster that I wasn’t totally sold on at first. I think there’s some good work here, I think you just let it get away from you a bit. My impression from some of your work in the past has been that monster design is one of your strengths, and the fantastic Haga concept from last round definitely strengthened that impression. I think maybe you were going for something to challenge yourself here, push the boundaries – and you got close, but not quite all the way with this.

I don’t know if this alone will be enough to advance you, but I thought your previous round entries were fantastic – I hope they, and the recognition of what you were trying to do here will be enough to push you through to the next round. Good luck!

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

Mothman wrote:

Hey Dave, glad to see you in this round. Wow, like Chris taking on the Haga, I think you may have bitten off a bit more than you can chew working these guys up as CR 5. Like others have said the abilities – while definitely interesting, cool and fitting – are probably a bit much for CR 5 or even 6. I also would have preferred to see these guys remain as aberrations from space, rather than outsiders from Leng – just doesn’t work that well for me.

Otherwise, I like what you’ve done with a monster that I wasn’t totally sold on at first. I think there’s some good work here, I think you just let it get away from you a bit. My impression from some of your work in the past has been that monster design is one of your strengths, and the fantastic Haga concept from last round definitely strengthened that impression. I think maybe you were going for something to challenge yourself here, push the boundaries – and you got close, but not quite all the way with this.

I don’t know if this alone will be enough to advance you, but I thought your previous round entries were fantastic – I hope they, and the recognition of what you were trying to do here will be enough to push you through to the next round. Good luck!

I've only read this entry and Chris' Haga, but I just wanted to point out that it is absolutely an appropriate choice to vote for a CONTESTANT based on their entire body of work, even if you are not sold on their entry for the current round as being the best of the best.

At this point, we have three rounds worth of data; if in your (the collective you of the voting public, not just you personally) estimation 2/3 of those are good enough to outweigh the latest 1/3, then throw the guy a vote. If someone lays a total stink bomb, that's hard to overcome, but if they score two GREATS and one WELL, IT WAS OKAY-ISH...

I'm just saying, remember that you are not compelled to vote solely on a round-by-round basis, though you can if you want to. You also can take past performance into account if you want to.

Either way... the power is YOURS!

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

David,

You picked a tough one to stat up and I salute you for that. I really like your overall take on this creature, the conductivity power makes a lot of sense for a creature that would have to survive outer space and re-entry.

Good luck Top 16 Bro!

Andoran RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Jason Nelson wrote:


I've only read this entry and Chris' Haga, but I just wanted to point out that it is absolutely an appropriate choice to vote for a CONTESTANT based on their entire body of work, even if you are not sold on their entry for the current round as being the best of the best.

At this point, we have three rounds worth of data; if in your (the collective you of the voting public, not just you personally) estimation 2/3 of those are good enough to outweigh the latest 1/3, then throw the guy a vote. If someone lays a total stink bomb, that's hard to overcome, but if they score two GREATS and one WELL, IT WAS OKAY-ISH...

I'm just saying, remember that you are not compelled to vote solely on a round-by-round basis, though you can if you want to. You also can take past performance...

At the end of the day, it is about whose adventure you would want to play in or DM. I think the past entries convince me that I would want to play an adventure he wrote.


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
I'm not sure what you mean by its Environment is "any (Leng)." Does that mean "any (it's from Leng)"? "Anywhere in Leng"?

To be fair, this format is taken exactly from the Bestiary, where demons have "Environment: any (Abyss)" and devils have "Environment: any (Hell)". So it's a little bit of "Do as I say, not as I do" here...

Andoran RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Dementrius

Thanks everyone for the comments and I'll get back to you with some specific Astrumally feedback once the voting closes.

Silver Crusade Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

While this entry doesn't quite fit the design brief (too much power for a CR 5 monster) it has a lot of nifty abilities. If you had a couple more levels of CR to work with you would have a new Beholder (something of a holy grail for pathfinder, along with a new Mindflayer) overall your body of work combined with what you attempted to do here will garner my vote.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Zynete

Clark Peterson wrote:
Intergalactic travel: I guess the no breath thing solves that. Not sure how this guy travels through space at that movement rate. He gets a haste bump in the cold of space, it seems.

But if one just takes movement rates at face value, acceleration doesn't exist in Pathfinder. If you go from a dead stop to a full run, you have hit your maximum speed before your turn is over. Similarly, even if you are booking it at full speed, you are still able to stop on a dime, as long as the dime is the size and shape of a 5 foot square. I don't think that this isn't a bad thing, as the rules don't need to be more complicated than that for the average game.

It is reasonably viable that if this creature can produce some sort of thrust, even if the amount is very small, over months, years, or decades during travel, it could accelerate beyond 10 feet per second, 50 feet per second, 100 feet, or more.

That is why the fact that the creature doesn't have an ability that gives it a speed boost during years of travel doesn't bother me. The fact that acceleration isn't really noted throughout the rules does not mean that it doesn't exist.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka flash_cxxi

Gah... I still keep picturing an Astereater, even though I know the Astrumal has appendages. :/

I'm not sure I like the change to Ousider as others have said. Given my above statement I still see this monster as coming from space.

I liked your other stuff (although the Haga really threw me) and with 6 votes this Round there's a good chance you'll get my Vote again but without reading more entries, so far this one is not grabbing me. Sorry.
Good Luck though. :)


Repel metal or stone is an eighth level druid spell in PFRPG, and allows no save; I'm not clear why you list a DC for a save, or even if (since you describe the power as repel metal and stone) repel metal or stone is what you were thinking of?

I compared this version of the astrumal to a bearded devil, and the comparison (in terms of CR) was looking reasonably balanced to me until I got to this astrumal's pincer attacks and the ranged touch attack which deals intelligence damage. Even despite the vulnerability to electricity and poor Reflex save I figure this monster should have been at least CR 6.

Despite these problems and those which others have already highlighted, I do like the overall writing style of this entry. I'm on the fence as to whether or not denizens of Leng might credibly use this creature in the manner described; generally my impression of them is that they're not usually quite so direct on such as scale (or at least not the ones seen thus far on Golarion) but there could be a small faction of them whose idea of a temper tantrum after having some scheme thwarted is to do their best to devestate a planet.

With regard to my concern over the Round 2 entry you do make clear how astrumals strip solar systems bare, by coming in large numbers.

My overall impression is of an interesting creature with a lot going for it, but under-rated in the CR department - possibly fatally so.

Nevertheless, thank-you for submitting this entry.


"IT'S A TRAP" is the first thing when i seen the rules for round three...its a grenade you should not of jumped on. I get the (pardon the pun) attraction of wanting to show how bad arse this critter is but i think you bit off more than the void could consume. Also why does it have a use magic item bonus? Am i missing something blazingly clear?

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka A Man In Black

It's a space lightning rock...thing. On one hand, it's weird in a kind of cool way. On the other hand, I have trouble picturing what this looks like and would have trouble describing it to the players.

It's a flying enemy with a confusion aura and at-will Hold Person. And it has DR and fast healing. And it has a 120' ranged attack that does int damage. (Why do lightning bolts do int damage?) This has waaaay too much going on; it's a puzzle monster with no solution I can figure out. About half of the abilities need to be cut, and I can't find a good place to start cutting.

It's also really fiddly. On-the-fly short-duration changes to its save DCs? Triggered slow and haste? Push and pull powers? A bite attack with bonus damage that isn't included in the stat block? This is also caused by the ability bloat, I think.

This just has too much going on for one low-CR statblock. You've got enough different abilities here for a whole section of variant astrumals. I can't fault your enthusiasm or creativity, but I can fault you for not knowing when to say when.

If this were the preview for a monster book, I'd...well, I'm not really sure. I wouldn't ever use this monster but I'd give the book a look. I'm not sure if I can in good conscience vote for a monster I'd never run and shudder to see as a player, but it's interesting pieces assembled in a nonfunctional whole. I'll come back to this.

Andoran RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Dementrius

*Mr Astrumal holds up a crudely-painted sign between two vicious pincers which says "Wil dance for yor votes". The "e"s are written backwards. The edge of the sign looks slightly nibbled.*

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

Well, you've earned praise for attempting something difficult.

Unfortunately, I agree with many of the previous posters that this monster is just trying to do way too much. There's no way I'd want to run a monster this complicated as a GM, let alone an apocalypse of 500!

By the way, "apocalypse" should be the term for a vast number of zombies, not a vast number of aliens. :P

Back on track, I also have to agree with the judges that the entire Leng angle just seems a bit tacked on.

I'll be passing on your astrumal this round. This astrumal just isn't very CR 6 and isn't very Leng.

Star Voter 2013

Demiurge 1138 wrote:
I'm amused by all of the judges picking on the confusion and rage combination when it's been used in published Pathfinder material before. The chortov devil from Pathfinder 27.
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
I'm not sure what you mean by its Environment is "any (Leng)." Does that mean "any (it's from Leng)"? "Anywhere in Leng"?
hogarth wrote:
To be fair, this format is taken exactly from the Bestiary, where demons have "Environment: any (Abyss)" and devils have "Environment: any (Hell)". So it's a little bit of "Do as I say, not as I do" here...

"These kids today, eh, Jason? I don't know where they get it from. Now, Sean, honey, go fetch mommy her ciggies... and top off my bourbon while you're over there!"

More seriously, Jason Nelson's summed up my major concerns with this creature. It's two bridges too far and they're named Electricity Vulnerability and Aura of Lunacy.

But, I will give you this: this creature is pretty METAL. That means I will return to this one and see if you merit my sixth vote.

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

Since I'm way beind on R3, I'm going to be brief.

My first thought, like the R3 entry for the Haga was that this wasn't a good choice for a CR6 or lower creature. The initial write up strongly suggested a CR10-14 to me based on the types and amounts of powers it had. So, not a great first impression on this entry, and the concern definitely showed up in the entry - this guy just has too much going on to be in the CR6 range (much less the CR5 that you pegged it at).

Next, I felt that while there is room to expand and improve on the R2 description, in this case you changed the core of what the monster is (not in description or powers so much, but in terms of its origin and creature type. The Astrumal is very closely linked to its dark void of space origin, and by making this an outsider (much less linked to sinister extraplanar traders from Leng), that really diverged from what I felt was one of the strengths of the original entry. Not only that, but by making it an outsider, you make it vulnerable to lots of effects that just don't fit with what this creature is supposed to be and do (a threat to your world from beyond). You can banish, dismiss, or just use magic circles against it, which weakens the sense of threat to me.

Some specific points follow:
- I didn't like the name for the annihilate power. In game, this suggests a power along the lines of the sphere of annihilation, and this power basically just does an extra 1d6 of untyped damage. A disintigrating bite that did disintigration damage would fit better (and if there's anything out there with immunity to disintigrate, will let that come up).
- The electricity ray seems odd. I get the electro-magnatism link, but this makes one of the main cool powers of the R2 write up (the pull or push ability) into a secondary effect by doing electrical damage, Int damage, and also, by the way push or pull. And this only comes up when making a ranged attack instead of other attacks. I would have preferred this to be one of the main powers of the creature, and have it be a swift action to pull or push (with more range than 10 feet) in addition to attacking. When reading the R2 entry, I imaginged a creature that would push away strong fighters, while targeting archers and spellcasters with a nasty bite (pulling them in to supplement it's fly speed if needed)
- the aura of lunacy seems out of place. Not only is it overpowered for CR5, but I'm not seeing this as a fit for a space monster that uses magnatism and eats anything
- I like the charge metal - if this were the only electrical power on the monster, that would be a good fit
- for the organization entry, what if you have 15 of these? I think it would have worked better as "solitary, shock (4-12) or apocalypse (13-50)" which would have also kept the numbers in a more realistic level. Sure, you can have hundreds of just about any creature, but at those numbers, it becomes a mass combat system you're looking for, not a RPG.

Andoran Contributor , Star Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

I like that you tied electricity into the suite of powers for your astrumal, and I feel Leng was an audacious choice for the origin of these creatures.

Good luck in this round!

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 aka tejón

I've been looking for things I could add to what others have said... can't really find any. The bases have been solidly covered. One thing I think needs emphasis: the Leng reference was a bad call for several reasons; case in point, I had to look it up. And I started in the Pathfinder campaign sourcebook, where it isn't.

You've got momentum with me. Haga was my unqualified favorite last round, and I think you deserve to move forward: as has been commented, the real question is whether I'd like to play in a module you've written, and the balance still leans to "yes" overall. But if this were round 1, in a vacuum, I wouldn't bet on your advancement.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 aka tejón

I voted for this.

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

I feel very odd about this one.

I don't think it's CR 5. I don't think the Leng part fits either.

That said, if my players every go back to {Second Darkness Spoiler}

Spoiler:
Devil's Elbow
, I know I'll be using this.

It's a very tough cookie on the defenses, and hold person at will is just nasty (especially with more than one of these).

I *love* the push/pull thing, and don't find anything wrong with electricity using creatures being vulnerable to it.

Mechanical faults:
Fort save is one too low.
Damage for Bite and Pincers was very high for a medium sized creature (most medium attacks are in the 1d4-1d6 range). I do not fault you for using Improved Natural Attack though. I do fault you for an ability called "Annihilation" that does 1d6 damage. :)

Good luck David!


David Posener wrote:
Astrumal

Critter Comments

As I did not have time during this last round to comment, I am going through now to offer a few comments.

1. Gotta say, I’m automatically disappointed that this is a CR 5 critter. From the prior writeup, it sang to me as being more hit dice than 6d10. That said, this is a surprisingly good rendition of a low level horror.
2. You give it detect thoughts, however that requires concentration. (Excellent idea though.) Should it be 360? Otherwise it’s constantly scanning one sector out of four, and that’s going to hamper it. Though admittedly the blindsight lets it find a lot out as well.
3. The maw ability is not entirely clear – I would state the additional damage in the attack line and italicize it or capitalize is so that it links down to the text below it.
4. Nice job with the confusion field. That’s awesome.
5. Conductivity needs a bit of work. It’s a neat attempt to reframe vulnerability, and it shows lots of creativity. I like that. However, it does need clarification. Any fire or any cold damage? This is a creature that exists in the vacuum of space, so I think I get the haste portion, but wouldn’t it make sense for it to slow after it eats? I realize that doesn’t flow with the theme of course.
6. The electrocuting ray is nasty. I like it.
7. Bonus points for a Leng reference! Awful monster from space plus HPL? Kudos.

Overall, a pretty good rendering of a monster that’s unique. This one stands out for me for a number of reasons. I think you may have an issue if you get past this round that some of your ideas don’t get quite enough finished. Then again, maybe not. I’ll be curious to see how this critter does.


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

Andoran RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Dementrius

Stay tuned everyone for the "director's cut". I'm halfway through a really busy day at work.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Jason Nelson wrote:

At this point, we have three rounds worth of data; if in your (the collective you of the voting public, not just you personally) estimation 2/3 of those are good enough to outweigh the latest 1/3, then throw the guy a vote. If someone lays a total stink bomb, that's hard to overcome, but if they score two GREATS and one WELL, IT WAS OKAY-ISH...

I'm just saying, remember that you are not compelled to vote solely on a round-by-round basis, though you can if you want to. You also can take past performance...

Definitely, and in fact three of my six votes this round went that way. While others may well disagree (and yes, I realise a true Superstar needs to be good in a range of areas), to me a great idea (whether it’s a wondrous item or a monster concept, or an adventure idea for that matter) is far more important than a perfectly balanced stat block.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 , Star Voter 2014

Mothman wrote:


Definitely, and in fact three of my six votes this round went that way. While others may well disagree (and yes, I realise a true Superstar needs to be good in a range of areas), to me a great idea (whether it’s a wondrous item or a monster concept, or an adventure idea for that matter) is far more important than a perfectly balanced stat block.

For the sake of the editors who receive the stat blocks, I wish they were perfect. But my voting was definitely based on how people delivered over three rounds. Consistency of quality is good, because then I know I'll want to buy the adventure when it comes out. :)

Andoran RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Dementrius

OK boys and girls, here we go…

My initial thought was “can this monster actually devour a world”? Thinking along those lines, the acid bite had to go, and was conveniently replaced with an attack that threw the conservation of mass in chemical processes out the window (look out below!). Even armed with the annihilation attack* that can consume a 1-foot square every six seconds I had to check if it was even feasible to eat an Earth-sized planet in a reasonable timeframe(back of the envelope calculation below).

Spoiler:

For those of you playing along at home…

OK, to start how big is Earth?
It’s 14700 km in diameter or a radius of 24,500,000 feet.
= a volume of 61,600,872,350,364,300,000,000 feet3 (4/3 x pi x r3)

How much can an Astrumal eat in a year?
= 1ft per 6 seconds x 10 x 60 x 24 x 365
= 5,256,000 ft3 per Astrumal per year

How many Astrumals are there?
Lets assume that the Astrumals strip the entire biomass of the planet (about 2,000 billion tonnes) and convert 10% of it towards creating new Astrumals. Let’s also assume that an Astrumal has a density 10% greater than that of a human.

Weight of an Astrumal (given a 5-foot diameter, spherical shape)
= 4/3 x pi x (0.75 m)3 x 1000 kg / m3 x 1.10
= 1,950 kg.
Or ~ 2 tonnes

# of Astrumals
= 2,000,000,000,000 x 0.10 /2
= 100,000,000,000 Astrumals

Therefore, number of years to eat a planet:
= 61,600,872,350,364,300,000,000 feet3 / 5,256,000 ft3 per Astrumal per year / 100,000,000,000 Astrumals
= 117,201years

In my first draft, I had “eons” in the last paragraph, but I updated it to “millennia” once the results came in.

Short answer: "Yep."

*The annihilation bite was the extrapolation of magnetism to the nth degree – it stops the movement the subatomic particles in every atom, causing the matter to unravel.

Andoran RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Dementrius

What’s with all the new freaky mental attacks?

The original Astrumal, in terms of horrible deaths, could offer you the dismemberment of your choice. But, you may have noticed that every other monster in the Bestiary offers exactly the same deal. The specific fear that Astrumal II inspires is the thought of losing control and harming those around you, especially your closest loved ones (the guy that heals you after you get hurt - I really love that guy). Thus the aura of lunacy was generated, inspired by thoughts of electroshock therapy for treating mental illnesses (using the power for evil instead of good). I was unaware of the chortov devil from Pathfinder #27, but you can probably chalk that one up to convergent evolution. The Int damage from the ray, and the hold person power were also designed as “extreme magnetism / electricity mess with the neurons in your brain” powers.

An interesting point with the confusion part of the aura of lunacy is that it plays differently to the normal confusion spell, in that most of the time the Astrumal itself is the “closest creature” for the 76-100 roll, making a PC who fails a save still effective 50% of the time. Also, PCs that close to the Astrumal tend to get attacked by the creature, making them 100% effective again. The fact that the aura’s rage power prevents spellcasters from casting spells is a feature, not a bug. Here’s some handy hints: 1) don’t get within 30 feet; 2) You’ve got a good Will save, use it; 3) resist energy and 4) sometimes spellcasters need something to give them that warm feeling in their pants when they just wee themselves a tiny bit in terror.

The idea is that the first time you meet one it roughs you up a little, the second time you stock up on resist energy potions and spells and tear that sucka a new one.

Andoran RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Dementrius

The Long list of Mea Culpa
* "always" {alignment}
* Knowledge (the planes)
* detect thoughts DC missing
* repel metal has a DC
* Too much going on. 100% hindsight – yeah.
* Third pincer attack and Improved Natural Attack. The third pincer attack was an effort to give it some freaky asymmetry. Improved Natural Attack was an effort to change 1d8+1d6 damage to 3d6 damage (including annihilation) to simplify things at the table. The sum of these two changes made it a bit strong in melee.
* Spell Resistance. Yeah, totally should have skipped SR.
* Treasure and UMD. Q: “It’s intelligent, why wouldn’t it use items it found?” A: “Because it’s an alien monstrosity from beyond the stars which exists only to consume.” *bang head on desk*

Andoran RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Dementrius

The Medium List of “Let Me Explain”

* Electricity Vulnerability – ever run a vacuum cleaner near a CRT television? Imagine if that TV was alive.
* Repel metal or stone – It’s a line. The spell, at worst, moves you back 60 feet. You take a 5’ step and move out of the line. You charge the Astrumal again the next round or shoot him with arrows. Worst. 8th. Level. Spell. Ever. The Astrumal has used one of its rounds to delay a PC by one round. While the other members of the party pummel it.
* Annihilation - works just like disintegrate. It can damage creatures or unattended objects. That’s it. No strange rules about damaging armour required.
* Any (Leng) – As pointed out it is exactly the same format as “any (Abyss)” in the demon entries.
* The “apocalypse” of 50-500 is really a bit like the “band” entry for orcs (30–100 plus 150% noncombatants plus 1 sergeant of 3rd level per 10 adults, 1 lieutenant of 5th level per 20 adults, and 1 leader of 7th level per 30 adults) - to be treated as a guide for how many of the creatures would be in an area if it was saturated with them.
* Leng – pretty much Clark summed it up:

Clark Peterson wrote:

Wes, I am right there with you. I didn't like the Lovecraft tack on with Leng.

I think it's my fault, though.

Here is what I put in my review of the initial concept:

"Boy, I don’t know. This is a bit sci-fi. It presumes solar systems and aliens. The rules want setting neutrality and they also say a submission shouldn’t be “science fiction, steampunk, or some other genre creature that could not reasonably be a part of a standard fantasy roleplaying game.” I’m not sure this monster fully runs afoul of that restriction, but it’s close. I will agree it’s not a clear violation. The voters will have to determine how much to grade you down for this. I guess the “dark gulfs among the stars” gives it the suitable Cthulhu rather than sci-fi flavor that makes it OK. But then the whole metal and magnetism thing makes it too sci-fi for me."

I think David was perhaps just trying to "Cthulhu-up" the monster to take it out of the "unacceptable" sci-fi realm and into the "acceptable" Cthulhu realm.

Here is the science fiction disqualifying line. Move away from the line. I actually thought that Leng was a pretty good fit for these creatures, but apparently not. The other idea was to link them to the featureless steel balls floating around the Elemental Plane of Air, but I got this searing pain in the back of my head that said, “Don’t mess with Golarion’s secrets”.

Demiurge 1138 wrote:
… you're either a sadist or your party's seriously overpowered.

Replace the “or” with an “and”.


(edited, corrected)
With regard to the repel metal (or stone), if a party happens to be in a straight 5ft wide dungeon corridor (or astrumal chewed tunnel), Mister Astrumal can slam the metal-wearers up against the end wall and zap away with his electrocuting ray.
It's situational, but it has its possibilities. ;)
I await reports of the demise of your munchkin PCs. :)

Andoran RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Dementrius

Charles Evans 25 wrote:

(edited, corrected)

With regard to the repel metal (or stone), if a party happens to be in a straight 5ft wide dungeon corridor (or astrumal chewed tunnel), Mister Astrumal can slam the metal-wearers up against the end wall and zap away with his electrocuting ray.
It's situational, but it has its possibilities. ;)
I await reports of the demise of your munchkin PCs. :)

Ha! You should have seen the look on their faces when they faced my gold dragon with the Vow Of Poverty feat.

CR 14, AC: 54. Good times. :)


David Posener wrote:
Charles Evans 25 wrote:

(edited, corrected)

With regard to the repel metal (or stone), if a party happens to be in a straight 5ft wide dungeon corridor (or astrumal chewed tunnel), Mister Astrumal can slam the metal-wearers up against the end wall and zap away with his electrocuting ray.
It's situational, but it has its possibilities. ;)
I await reports of the demise of your munchkin PCs. :)

Ha! You should have seen the look on their faces when they faced my gold dragon with the Vow Of Poverty feat.

CR 14, AC: 54. Good times. :)

And, best of all, no treasure to loot. :)

Andoran RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Dementrius

Charles Evans 25 wrote:

And, best of all, no treasure to loot. :)

;)

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

In the first round I really thought you were going to the top 4. The seeds were a little complicated mechanically, but they were just so freaking cool. But by the second you started to gain a reputation as "the guy who comes up with crazy-awesome s$%! that's hard to use in actual play". Unfortunately, this last one followed that trend as well.

I actually really liked this monster, in spite of its issues with complexity and power. My least favorite part, surprisingly, was the attempt to tie them in with Leng. This approach changes them from “Bizarre horror from beyond space” (which fits in perfectly in Golarion) to “creation by these other guys, who are creepy outsiders”. In other words, you went from “Lovecraftian on its own merits” to “Lovecraftian by association”. That’s a downgrade, and it sheds a lot of the Astrumal’s flair in favor of a pretty generic origins story.

Personally, I think that the Astrumal (in either incarnation) is more Lovecraftian than the Denizens themselves. Weird fiction- especially Lovecraft’s- is a very tricky recipe which manages to combine “Cosmicism/cosmic-horror”, “Spacey quasi-science”, and “cheesy monster movie” in a uniquely tasty way. I think that Joshua Kitchen’s original concept hits the nail on the head there, and I think that many of your elements (the “void between its teeth” and the “mind-ruining magnetic field” angle) only strengthen that theme.

Not everyone got that last bit, but I thought that was a brilliant move, dovetailing perfectly with both the "electromagnetism" and "mind-rending horror" angles. One of the trickiest elements of lovecraftian creepiness is throwing seemingly strange, unrelated things at the reader/viewer, orchestrating that moment where those things 'click' together and make that creepy sort of sense. "What the hell? It's an alien ball from space, it's on the north pole, we can't think when we're near it, it's shooting electricity everywhere and pushing around the guys in armor, and it keeps making that weird humming sou- OH!"

Anyway, my point is that I think you're a cool guy with a lot of raw talent, and I hope you keep at this.


Commiserations.

Andoran RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Dementrius

Thanks for the commiserations guys. While I'm obviously disappointed, I'll be back again next year. In the mean time, I'll keep plugging away at PFS scenarios (gotta collect the whole set of rejections - 14 in a row so far!), Kobold Quarterly and Sinister Adventures (if it ever gets moving again). Tenacity is not my weak point.

Anyway, off to bug Josh Frost again...

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

Hey David,

I'll admit, I was quietly barracking for a fellow Aussie to get into the top 8, and I did think that while both Astrumals diverged from the original design, I thought both were equally well done. Keep submitting stuff, because I know that I want to see some of your 'crazy awesome' in a PFS scenario. BTW, I used to live in Sydney, and I'm going to be up for Eyecon over Easter, I might see you up there.

Andoran RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Dementrius

Matt Goodall wrote:

Hey David,

I'll admit, I was quietly barracking for a fellow Aussie to get into the top 8, and I did think that while both Astrumals diverged from the original design, I thought both were equally well done. Keep submitting stuff, because I know that I want to see some of your 'crazy awesome' in a PFS scenario. BTW, I used to live in Sydney, and I'm going to be up for Eyecon over Easter, I might see you up there.

Thanks Matt, I had an antipodean bias to my voting too. I might be able to get to Eyecon over Easter. If I do it would be great to catch up!

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