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PaizoCon 2014!

Lief Clennon's Lantern Thrall


Round 3 - Top 16: Create a Monster Stat Block

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 aka tejón

Lantern Thrall (Fawan’abd) CR 5
XP 1,600
N Medium outsider (native)
Init +5; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +9
Aura thrall's boon (30 ft.)
=====
Defense
=====
AC 17, touch 13, flat-footed 14 (+3 armor, +2 Dex, +1 dodge, +1 shield)
hp 45 (6d10+12)
Fort +4, Ref +6, Will +5
=====
Offense
=====
Speed 30 ft.
Melee mwk scimitar +10/+5 (1d6+3/18–20)
Ranged mwk composite longbow +8/+3 (1d8+3/×3)
=====
Statistics
=====
Str 17, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 6, Wis 11, Cha 14
Base Atk +6; CMB +9; CMD 20
Feats Dodge, Endurance, Improved Initiative
Skills Bluff +11, Disguise +9, Perception +9, Stealth +10; Racial Modifiers –4 Disguise
Languages Common
SQ human soul, incandescence
=====
Ecology
=====
Environment any
Organization solitary, candelabra (2–4) or chandelier (5–10)
Treasure NPC gear (mwk studded leather armor, mwk buckler, mwk scimitar, mwk composite longbow [+3 Str bonus] with 20 arrows, disguise kit, other treasure)
=====
Special Abilities
=====
Human Soul Within every lantern thrall, a human soul is suppressed—but not replaced—by a bound elemental spirit. A thrall recognizes people, places and objects known to its body-host, but remembers no events before its creation. Death severs this bond, leaving a human corpse. The human soul does not remember the thrall's experiences.
Incandescence (Su) A lantern thrall radiates light as the spell, tinted according to its type. Perception checks opposing a thrall's Stealth and Disguise checks gain a +4 circumstance bonus in dim light, and +8 in darkness. Magical darkness suppresses this glow.
Thrall's Boon (Su) Each type of lantern thrall possesses a particular aura which benefits only lantern thralls. This aura requires line of sight and is blocked by magical darkness; however, a thrall always receives its own boon. The benefit of any thrall's boon can be suspended or resumed by the recipient as a standard action. Thralls' boons of the same type do not stack.

Human in form, lantern thralls (from the Kelish fawan’abd) seem sculpted from smoked glass, translucent and lit from within. Still, carefully disguised, they often pass undetected among humans. Ageless and aimless, lantern thralls seek to serve. Though few know the secrets of their creation, many powerful beings value fawan’abd loyalty and versatility. Each lantern thrall glows a certain color and grants a certain boon, according to its type. The types of lantern thrall are listed below.

Amber Lantern Thrall
Incandescence: tawny
Thrall's Boon: Gain the effect of the blur spell.

Amethyst Lantern Thrall
Incandescence: violet
Thrall's Boon: Gain +4 natural armor.

Carnelian Lantern Thrall
Incandescence: orange
Thrall's Boon: Deal +1d8 fire damage with melee attacks.

Citrine Lantern Thrall
Incandescence: yellow
Thrall's Boon: Gain fast healing 2.

Coral Lantern Thrall
Incandescence: pink
Thrall's Boon: Gain the effect of the gaseous form spell.

Crystal Lantern Thrall
Incandescence: white
Thrall's Boon: Gain the ability to hurl an orb of cold up to 60 ft. as a standard action, dealing 2d8 damage with a successful ranged touch attack.

Garnet Lantern Thrall
Incandescence: red
Thrall's Boon: Gain a molten coating that functions as a babau's protective slime ability (see Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary, page 57) except that it deals fire damage and the Reflex save DC is 15.

Jade Lantern Thrall
Incandescence: green
Thrall's Boon: Gain a breath weapon that can be used every 4 rounds as a standard action, unleashing a 15-foot cone of slime that deals 2d8 acid damage and causes living creatures to be sickened for 3 rounds. A Reflex save (DC 15) halves the damage and negates the sickened effect.

Lapis Lantern Thrall
Incandescence: indigo
Thrall's Boon: Gain DR 5/—.

Turquoise Lantern Thrall
Incandescence: blue
Thrall's Boon: Gain the effect of the expeditious retreat spell.

Creation
Much like animating a golem, the creator of a lantern thrall binds a mephit into a living human. This human, immobilized and coated in unguents worth 1,000 gp, can attempt a Will save (DC 16) to prevent the binding. If the creator fails the requisite Heal check, the subject must also make a Fortitude save (DC 16) or be slain.

Lantern Thrall
CL 8th; Price 11,000 gp
Construction
Requirements Craft Construct, plane shift, creator must be caster level 8th; Skill Heal DC 13; Cost 6,000 gp

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

The problem with saying its environment is "any" is that "any" includes a lot of environment types you may not have intended: ocean, planar, underground, and urban. It reminds me of the 2nd edition Monstrous Manual, which had "Environment: any" for both the iron golem and the death knight, leading designer Bill Connors to say, "so you could be flying a mile in the air, heading to a cloud giant's castle, and pass Lord Soth flying by with an iron golem under each arm." So... don't say "any" unless you really want this creature to hang out with aboleths, marids, and morlocks.

I don't see why Craft Construct is required to bind an elemental's spirit into a living humanoid.

I think this monster tries to do too much--there's a long list of powers/colors/gem types but there's not much tying them together. Basically, I'm not seeing why the elemental spirit needs the gems, or why the gem ritual needs the elemental spirit. It's like if you described "dragon" as a one-page monster entry, then has a section covering the colors and breath weapons of the ten dragon types--you wouldn't really have enough about what dragons *are* or *want,* just what their powers are. The discussion of this monster in R2 was much about whether or not this was a template--and your presentation here sort of works like a template in that you're adding abilities to a base creature, without actually "giving in" and making it a templated monster--which I think is a flaw, because people know how templates work, and this easily could have been something like the half-dragon, with a limited subset of powers and a template that you can add to many different creatures. With its ties to the desert, it would be cool to have a gnoll with this template, or some dwarves with earth-mephit infusions, but as presented this monster is strangely limited (in that it's just one type of base creature we don't know a lot about) and strangely expansive (in that there are a lot of potential powers to choose from).

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
I think this monster tries to do too much...

No doubt: this monster absolutely attempts to do too much. What I'm left with is a lot of rules to handle sort of 10 different monsters, but no real compulsion to actually want to. As there's not much in the way of description I'm not inspired to put these into an adventure, and even if I had to, I'd have to largely create where they go, who they work with, what they do, and what their motivations are. One of the big reasons these guys got voted into this round was because of an interesting interaction between mortals and mephits - giving this the potential to be a neat, "mephits but more" creature. This didn't really pick up on that angle, which seems like a real missed opportunity.

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 think the execution of this monster proves that we were right in our concerns last round.

The Execution
Sean and Wes have weighed in and I echo their concerns.

I think you did your best, but I think you kept hitting up against the same problem—this should be a template. My guess is you had the best intentions. I can tell from the boards that you liked this monster (though if I read it right, you didn’t actually vote for it to advance, which is kind of funny you would stat up a monster that had such flaws that you didn’t vote for it). Like me, and like many of us, you were drawn to the writing. And on those merits Chris advanced. I have a funny feeling that pretty quickly you realized there was no good way around the template problem. But the turn around was so quick you didn’t feel you had time to start over with a different monster when you saw the mechanics just weren’t working. As it is, all we have is sort of a multi-flavored pick your mini-template without it being a template creature. It just doesn’t work in my view. The voters may disagree. But that is how I see it.

Final Thoughts
I’m glad Chris advanced with the concept for this monster. But Lief I think you fell into a trap with it, I am sorry to say. I think you got sucked in with the great idea and great writing but I don’t think you solved the mechanical problem. And that is what this round was really testing. I loved your blossoms and the Rotling. I sure hope the mojo this thing had that helped Chris advance carries over to you, because as it is I just can’t recommend this advance. I also have to admit, if anyone is on the fence about it and they chose to look at the strength of your prior work, that would sure help you as you know how strongly I feel about your item and creature. But on it’s own merits, I think all you did here was confirm the problems we found in this creature last round.

I DO NOT RECOMMEND this for Top 8.

Paizo Employee Lead Designer

Interesting. I think my fellow judges saw this as a bit too complex and I am inclined to agree. Mechanically, this entry is quite sound. I am not really seeing any big issues, but I think that is due to the fact that so much of this monster's word count is devoured by the multiple types. In the end, this monster could be cool, but I think you did not have the space needed to pull it off.

No big issues... but it feels a bit incomplete.

I give this monster a C

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8, Contributor

Tejon,
I struggled with this one too, thinking I might want to try my hand at it because I thought the concept was so good. I think it was a really hard choice and that a lot of what the judges said is valid but, for what it's worth, I really thought you gave a great stab at a VERY complex design goal where this creature was concerned and definitely would have wanted to read more about them...
All the best.
-QGJ

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

The use of Craft Construct is my one stickling point on this monster. I understand the desire to express how the lantern thralls are made, but adding a humanoid to an outsider with a construct feat to get a construct? It's weird. And if you had left out that info, you could have given us more flavor-text as to the role of the lantern thralls in the campaign. These guys actually have more flavor-text than their component mephits, but it's less focused. What are mephits? They're servants of more powerful elemental beings. What are lantern thralls? Uh... ditto? Maybe?

Although the flavor text is a tad anemic, the actual mechanics are solid and I like the lantern light effects. Perhaps some of that word count could have been spared on a sentence about how multiple lantern thralls have a higher effective CR than just the one, but I like them. And this is probably going to end up with one of my votes, to reward ambition and because it stands out as creative among this crop.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

tejón,

I tried to stat out the thrall but the word count threw me for a loop. It didn't occur to me to go the 'not template' route as you did. Definite props for taking one of the more challenging critters.

I'm pulling for you, hope to see you in the next round T16 Bro.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Lief,

It's nice to see what you've done with the fawan'abd, how you moved their positions. I think you made some good mechanical decisions here. I'm sorry to see the mephits-qua-mephits go, but I can see why you made that decision, and you replaced one flavor (mephits) with another (gems) that play off the glass / transparent motif. (Maybe you could have gone further and made each thrall gemlike? Maybe that would be too far?) In particular, I think your use of the Aura feature is brilliant; I would never have thought to do that.

Good luck and kudos for a stand-up entry.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

I just want to point out one of the non-obvious but cool things about this entry. The auras overlap so a team of 4 different thralls each have 4 boons. This is a critter that gets tougher when it's next to his buddies.

Oops... probably not a good idea to point out the cool things about the competitors :o

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Dennis Baker wrote:

I just want to point out one of the non-obvious but cool things about this entry. The auras overlap so a team of 4 different thralls each have 4 boons. This is a critter that gets tougher when it's next to his buddies.

Oops... probably not a good idea to point out the cool things about the competitors :o

Don't worry Dennis, I'm gonna join you. :D

It is cool and it was in the original write-up. Lief did a good job in not short changing the original entry just because it was complicated.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter 2014

I removed some posts pending the judges discussion. DO NOT discuss your own entry.

Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

These are Slivers from the Magic: The Gathering CCG in a different wrapper. I love Slivers...vote given.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I like the original concept of this monster, and some of the design choices you’ve made in developing it are quite cool, some seem a bit odd. I think word count worked against you. I’m wondering why the powers aren’t tied closer to a mephit / elemental type.

Not sure about this one yet, but good luck.


Lief, you still impress. When others took the easy way out or stated the favorites from the previous round, you took the high road and took what i and many others believe was the hardest creatures to stat out this round according to the rules imposed by the judges. I would of voted for you just on effort alone. But i am truly impressed how you worked this out, and i can see my parties getting confused when trying to figure out which light is the brightest and should be extinguished first. I for one am going to throw these at a party or two and see how they respond. Hopefully we see you in round 4 as long as you are not over run by two headed rats and watered down critters. Also the group names were a great touch.

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

I liked the writeup in general. The overlapping auras could be pretty hardcore (although the one with gaseous form would be a bad mixer with most of the other powers, since it prevents using any physical attack). The incandescence is neat, and I like the gem angle itself...

... but like some of the other entries it's just trying to do way too much. Take it from someone who has a bad habit of overcomplicating things at times, less is usually more. Wolfgang Baur said much the same to me 2 years ago during the monster round in 2008 and it was good advice, and that was with an entry that "won" the monster round by the count of the exit poll!

The basic monster is simple enough, but the long list of gems seems like a mix and match. It's a diversion from the mephit-binding concept, which is fine since you were allowed to reconcept the monster, but the mephit fluff is still sorta-kinda in there but now not reflected in the monster itself.

Like I said in another thread, we're far enough into the contest that people can reasonably vote on your portfolio as well as your current round. I don't think this entry by itself is going to win a ton of votes, but the blossoms and the rotling may give you enough juice to squeeze (pun intended) into the next round.

Star Voter 2013

This basically requires a new feat, as the fleshcrafters did in Second Darkness 4, which is why the craft construct feat was chosen. Brew Potion might have been a better pre-req, as it would have used the oasis connection.

I'd like a radius for this aura and how muffled it gets with the clothing. I assume it has to be seen, since it's based on light/darkness spells. If it is based off light, however, the question of what the effect of the second 30' of illumination has on this power would come up. Basically, cut one of the thralls and explain this power more clearly. Cut three of them and give me more flavor text.

How does the gaseous form power work? If they're in the aura they CAN have it up or they MUST have it up?

Do people think one of these guys is worth 6000 gp? I don't. I think my BBEG could be spending his money more wisely.

Star Voter 2013

Thinking it over, I think that the judges and the voters are judging this entry by different standards than the other monsters. They're judging this one based on how various thralls work together. That's fine. But they're not doing the same with the other pack monsters and hive monsters. To my mind, you don't judge a wolf's stat block based on how it would work as a single wolf. You judge it based on how it works as a pack, which is how you will use it. A lot of these submissions change once you start asking how 4-6 of these are going to work and what level party will be encountering them as a result.

Thralls have synergies. The other pack and hive monsters will play worse than they look in a single monster stat block because their LACK of synergies will make them under-CRed for their actual table use. They are worse than the sum of their parts.

Good luck.

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

The following is the unanimous ruling of all judges and Paizo representatives following meeting and discussion:

Unfortunately, we have decided to disqualify competitor Lief Clennon from the 2010 RPG Superstar competition.

The Round 3 rules state that a submission may be disqualified if
"Competitor adds to, expands upon, or clarifies the contents of his or her own submission during the voting period, whether this takes place on paizo.com or elsewhere."

The Official Rules for the entire contest state
"14. During public voting rounds, contestants are prohibited from any public discussion that could be considered as adding to, expanding upon, or clarifying the content of their current submission. This applies to (but is not limited to) personal blogs and messageboard posts on paizo.com or elsewhere, including the paizo.com discussion thread for the entry itself. Any such discussion may result in disqualification, in the sole discretion of the judges and/or Paizo."

The competitors were warned during Round 2 about crossing the line for what is acceptable posting. In Round 3, the clarifying language was moved from the FAQ to the rules to make it more prominent. The Round 3 rules also moved the suggested "thank-you" response text closer to the front of the rule to make that more prominent.

We've reached the point where gentle warnings about "do this one more time and someone is getting disqualified" are not sufficient. While we want this to remain a friendly and pleasant competition, Paizo needs to make sure that competitors can follow the rules of a contest (just as we'd expect them to follow the rules of a work contract or a confidentiality agreement).

In future rounds, contestants will not be allowed to post about about their submissions while voting is open other than to post the suggested "thank you, vote for me" text provided in the rules.

Lief Clennon's entry is disqualified and he will not advance to the next round. No alternates will be brought in to take his place. To prevent a technical issue where deleting his entry may accidentally redistribute votes for him to other competitors, his entry in the voting booth will have a line through it; if you vote for him, that vote will not count. You are still able to reassign your votes until the voting period ends on February 15th.

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

By the way, please keep discussion in here to the Lantern Thrall submission. Those wanting to discuss the DQ can do so in a thread I created for that: Disqualification

Thanks everyone. Sorry to have to do this.

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

Aw, there goes one of my planned votes.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 aka tejón

As I commented in the exit poll thread, I'm only disqualified from advancing -- not from receiving votes! ;)

Meanwhile. Spilled milk, make lemonade, etc. Secondary pointer to the link Clark posted just above.

So hey! Now I can directly respond to questions and concerns. Let's do that! Starting with a couple that I've seen raised more than once...

Craft Construct?
WTF, right? This was actually the reason I picked the lantern thrall to stat up. Oh, there were other things that got it on my short list; tricky mechanical concept, enticing visuals, etc. But the reason I picked it was when I suddenly realized:

Chris Mortika's lantern thrall wrote:
She seated there, amidst bone and sinew, minor spirits called mephits, through whose influence she now commands the creatures’ never-ending service.
Golem, PFRPG Bestiary wrote:
...golems are granted their magical life via an elemental spirit, typically that of an earth elemental. The process of creating a golem binds the spirit to the artificial body, merging it with this specially prepared vessel and subjecting it to the will of the golem's creator."

The repurposing of Craft Construct to work with an already-living body was no clunky toss-in, it was the concept that drew me in! It's a bit light on the other requirements compared to most golems; that's to allow a janni to make them, per Chris's original description, without having add more than that one feat.

Why'd you weaken the mephit connection?
I didn't. It's still there, as strong as ever. Eight mephits, eight thralls, and there's a direct correlation between them. However, that correlation is irrelevant to their abilities, and will be unknown to the majority of individuals encountering them -- even most of their masters. ("...few know the secrets of their creation...") Cutting "Mephit Type: Foo" from each thrall freed up thirty words. Ironically, twenty of those went to adding "Lantern Thrall" to each thrall type header to match the format of the mephits as printed.

If I had more words, I'd have left the specific links in -- though I'd probably have moved them to the Creation section, which would have taken even more words for context -- but given the limitations, my thought process was, "People who are sufficiently interested will easily figure this out on their own." Now, that may have been a mistake with regards to this contest: people are reading sixteen entries, and may not move beyond surface impressions. If these were printed in a book, I think the initial reaction would be, "Huh, why's that?" and it would only take a moment to figure out. But here, the reaction is, "that doesn't look right," and it's chalked up as a mistake without a second glance. To "know your audience," I must add, "know your venue."

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

Lief Clennon wrote:

As I commented in the exit poll thread, I'm only disqualified from advancing -- not from receiving votes! ;)

Meanwhile. Spilled milk, make lemonade, etc. Secondary pointer to the link Clark posted just above.

So hey! Now I can directly respond to questions and concerns. Let's do that! Starting with a couple that I've seen raised more than once...

Craft Construct?
WTF, right? This was actually the reason I picked the lantern thrall to stat up. Oh, there were other things that got it on my short list; tricky mechanical concept, enticing visuals, etc.

This was one of the two creatures I started but I decided to pursue the Churjiir instead. When I was statting this out I had the mephits energies contained in the human husk using powerful magics... which were not really defined in-game. I think it worked Ok but your craft golem idea sews that whole thing up neatly.

So my thought wasn't "WTF", it was cool, why didn't I think of that.

Quote:
If I had more words, I'd have left the specific links in -- though I'd probably have moved them to the Creation section, which would have taken even more words for context -- but given the limitations, my thought process was, "People who are sufficiently interested will easily figure this out on their own."

You would probably have been better off limiting the scope of your creation so you had fewer mephits more fully detailed rather than grabbing all 10 and covering them thinly.

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

Dennis Baker wrote:
Lief Clennon wrote:
If I had more words, I'd have left the specific links in -- though I'd probably have moved them to the Creation section, which would have taken even more words for context -- but given the limitations, my thought process was, "People who are sufficiently interested will easily figure this out on their own."
You would probably have been better off limiting the scope of your creation so you had fewer mephits more fully detailed rather than grabbing all 10 and covering them thinly.

You could also have saved words by keeping all ten, but using the table format from the chimera entry in the Bestiary.

Despite the judges insistence that lantern thralls should be several different monsters with different monster entries, all five varieties of chimera in the Bestiary use a single monster entry, and are distinguished from one another only by details included on a single, five-line-plus-header table.

Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Demiurge 1138 wrote:
Aw, there goes one of my planned votes.

Mine too. :-(


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Sorry to see this one get dropped. Nice work in any case, Lief.


This was going to receive one of my votes, though I was a bit shocked by the statement the author made immediately after the Judges' comments and I wondered if that would be allowed. I see there was a disqualification. Condolences regarding that.

Still, I liked the inventiveness of this entry. It was a bold risk and it took a unique design tack. Hopefully we'll see you next year.


Yeah, I think you were definitely going to get alot of people's votes with this one, Lief.
I think it was great because it turned so much of the criticism against the original concept on it's head (that it would be 'too complicated', etc, etc).

I hope to see you next time around!

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

I just finished reading every entry, and I have to concur with several of the above posters that your lantern thrall probably would have won lots of votes, mine included. I'm still not understanding the complaints about there being ten variants of this monster, as the lantern thrall is still pretty clearly a single monster (as is the chimera, despite having five different possible colors, each with its own type of breath weapon).

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka A Man In Black

I don't think this is too complex; I think this is simply a bad idea. This is a low-mid level outsider that has an aura that only affects other outsiders of the same type. Trouble is, slivers/plague zombies explicitly break CR scaling. It's neat in a game like Magic: the Gathering, where there's an opportunity cost to balance trying to build your borg to crush the opponent, but these cannot possibly be balanced on APL for groups because they explicitly do not scale linearly. The design tempts the GM to use them anyway, despite the unworkable group scaling. They're not at all interesting on their own; their entire schtick is working in groups. You can't even really use them in mixed groups and have them be interesting at all.

You also picked a monster so complex that you couldn't spare any words on ecology, behavior, or setting. "Though few know the secrets of their creation, many powerful beings value fawan’abd loyalty and versatility" is a trite nonstatement. It's important to not be so enamored of a brilliant idea that you let it overwhelm everything else. If you're cutting words to make wordcount, that might be a sign that you just can't fit what you want to do in the space alloted. I see a lot of support in the comments here for the monster you wanted to make and not the monster you wrote, while when it comes down to giving people a product for money I'd rather see a conservative design with lots of room to sell itself than a fantastically creative design that is nothing but a stat block.

I would not vote for this had it not been disqualified, and I would not purchase a hypothetical monster book for which it appears as a preview due to concerns about a lack of proper flavor text. I have a lot of respect for your work, but I couldn't support this even if I were allowed.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 aka tejón

Jared Goodwin wrote:
Trouble is, slivers/plague zombies explicitly break CR scaling.

I invite you to run a few playtests. I did several, on that same concern. Short version: the sliver analogy breaks down when the numerical-effect auras don't stack; CR scaling accounts for level-appropriate group buffs just fine.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka A Man In Black

Lief Clennon wrote:
I invite you to run a few playtests. I did several, on that same concern. Short version: the sliver analogy breaks down when the numerical-effect auras don't stack.

Oh, I imagine this works in a pack. The problem is that if you balance them to work in packs, they don't work singly. I doubt most colors of these are much of a threat at all singly or in twos, just from eyeballing them. You can break it on the high end or break it on the low end but you can't fit a curve like this on a line, it just doesn't intersect at some point.

A monster that only works in packs of the same sort has one very narrow application, and you need enough words to sell me that narrow application. You didn't have enough to give it any more than the standard golem treatment.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 aka tejón

Jared Goodwin wrote:
The problem is that if you balance them to work in packs, they don't work singly.

Again, I invite you to run playtests. :)

Not addressing the rest of what you've said, by the way, because it's a valid opinion and I'm sure you're not the only one holding it. I'm just saying that the target of your factual analysis was one of my own primary concerns during design, and ceased to be a concern after closer inspection.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka A Man In Black

Lief Clennon wrote:
Again, I invite you to run playtests. :)

That's the other half. If I set aside my natural tendency to respond to a challenge and just evaluate the submission, I just don't care enough. If I have the time and the wherewithal I usually do test monsters before I run them, but nothing about this entry makes me want to go to the effort to use the slow-witted outsider/golem people. The mechanically-cool thing about this is something that doesn't integrate into D&D very well even if you somehow managed to make all the math work, and there's nothing else here to sell the idea.

Since you did challenge me, expected PC AC on a melee character at level 5 is something like 20. A full-attacking thrall's DPR against that is ~6.97, or ~10.68 if it's the fiery version. That's not scary at all. I compare a single thrall to a troll or a cyclops, and it's not even in the same ballpark as a brute. If it's supposed to be relying on a special attack, compare it to an ice golem or winter wolf, which is tougher, hits harder in melee if pressed, and has nastier special attacks. I'm not seeing how this hangs out at CR 5.

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

Darn it, Lief! I wanted to see a great implementation of the lantern thrall in this round, and you delivered. I would have given you one of my votes.

I really do hope you enter next year. I look forward to seeing you in the contest again.

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

Since I finished reviewing the other R3 entries, I thought I'd share my thoughts on these as well, despite the DQ. I wasn't a big fan of the R2 version of these, but actually like your R3 version a bit more. However, you've used up so much word count on abilities and creation that you don't have a lot left on their motives, goals, and how they'd be used as monsters, and I think that hurt your R3 submission.

I'll echo the suggestion that a table would have saved you a lot of space on the specific abilities, and if you had to cut something on the individual abilities, then I'd have cut the gem types and/or colors, in favor of the mephit types. Since these are created by binding a mephit, as both a reader and a creator of one, I'd want to know what mephit type ties to which lantern thrall type.

I'm also curious about how their using disguises works with their aura. Since the aura requires line of sight and is blocked by darkness, then I'd think a disguise (such as a robe that covers up their glow) would also block their aura, and make it harder for their main power to kick in. Unless these guys regularly wear tear away basketball pants that can be removed as a swift action. (which would be silly, but also somewhat amusing).

I also would agree with previous posters that gasseous form isn't a good fit for these guys - to keep an air theme, either a personal wind wall sheild or a protection from arrows with wind thematics would have worked well I think instead.

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

Hey Lief,

Sorry to see you go, you are a very strong competitor. I know that you would have got significant votes this round. I hope I get a chance to work with you in the future. Jared's (MIB) comments reminded me to thank you for making the DPR Excel sheet. Very useful for churning numbers. Creating something like this (hours of work) for the community to use, shows the kind of person you are.


Hmm. I'm seeing this entry more as an intelligent construct driven by a human spirit warped and infused with a mephit (instead of the usual 'elemental spirit') than as an outsider.
I don't see this as a template. A monster with a table of variants, maybe, but not as a template.

The CR is tricky though. A combat with four amethyst thralls is going to play somewhat differently to a combat involving an amethyst thrall, a carnelian thrall, a lapis lazuli thral and a turquoise thrall, not least because (initially, anyway) the lantern thralls in the second combat are going to hav a wider range of powers/options open to them.

Good try, and I think you got part of the way towards indicating what the original intention of the Round 2 entry was.

Best of luck if you try again next year.


Jared Goodwin wrote:
If I set aside my natural tendency to respond to a challenge and just evaluate the submission, I just don't care enough.

I care enough. I really liked the idea of these, and wanted to see something like this statted up. I am not doing playtests, but I will compare it to it's R2 concepts, and other monsters of the same CR...

Compared to the original concept:

Creature type: Outsider could work. Arguments could be made for Monstrous Humanoid, Aberation, Augmented humanoid, construct, monstrous humanoid, and even undead. The original concept was that they were “once human”, and inhabited by a mephit. Flesh golems are a collection of body parts, not the entire body of one person, so it’s less likely (although still possible) that this is a construct. The “never ending service” implies that they don’t age, reducing the likely choices to outsider and undead.

Creature size: correct. Medium

Abilities:

…..The good:

1) You kept the power sharing ability.

…..The bad:

1) I don’t like the gem descriptions. I don’t get where you are coming up with these gems, as opposed to others, and it makes it confusing to determine which mephit belongs to which gem.

…..The so-so:

1) You outlined all of the abilities, but you left out the confusion of the ash mephit. Also, I’m not fond of the gaseous form.

Compared to other creatures of the same CR:

For this section, I'll try and choose a variety of same CR creatures. I’ll compare these to ONE lantern thrall. Why one? because a ballanced creatue should work singly, as well as in groups. With all due respect to roguerouge, I disagree with his wolf example. A wolf is a CR 1, and a viable option for a 1st level encounter.

Senses: You gave it: darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +9
…..Large Fire Elemental (Large Outsider): darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +11
…..Mummy (medium undead): darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +16
…..Troll (large Humanoid): darkvision 60 ft.; low-light vision; scent; Perception +8
…..ice golem (large construct): darkvision 60 ft.; low-light vision; Perception +0

Conparison: you are below the power curve here.

Hit Points: You gave it: 45
…..Large Fire Elemental (Large Outsider): 60
…..Mummy (medium undead): 60
…..Troll (large Humanoid): 63
…..ice golem (large construct): 53

Conparison: you are below the power curve here.

AC: You gave it: 17
…..Large Fire Elemental (Large Outsider): 19
…..Mummy (medium undead): 20
…..Troll (large Humanoid): 16
…..ice golem (large construct): 17

Conparison: Acceptable, but on the low end of the power curve.

Damage reduction/immunities: You gave it: none (base creature)
…..Large Fire Elemental (Large Outsider): DR 5/-, immune- elemental traits, fire, vulnerable- cold
…..Mummy (medium undead): 5/-, immune- undead traits
…..Troll (large Humanoid): Regeneration 5 (acid or fire)
…..ice golem (large construct): 5/adamantine, immune- construct traits, cold, magic, vulnerable- fire

Conparison: you are below the power curve here.

Speed: You gave it: 30 ft.
…..Large Fire Elemental (Large Outsider): 50 ft.
…..Mummy (medium undead): 20 ft.
…..Troll (large Humanoid): 30 ft.
…..ice golem (large construct): 30 ft.

Conparison: acceptable.

Attack Bonus: You gave it: +10, +5
…..Large Fire Elemental (Large Outsider): +12, +12
…..Mummy (medium undead): +14
…..Troll (large Humanoid): +8, +8, +8
…..ice golem (large construct): +9, +9

Conparison: a little low, but acceptable.

Max possible Damage/Round: You gave it: 18 (or 22 at a lower attack bonus)
…..Large Fire Elemental (Large Outsider): 28 (includes burn)
…..Mummy (medium undead): 18 (does NOT include mummy rot, which has a 1 minute onset).
…..Troll (large Humanoid): 48 (with rend)
…..ice golem (large construct): 30 (includes cold)

Conparison: you are below the power curve here.

Spell like abilities: You gave it: none
…..Large Fire Elemental (Large Outsider): none
…..Mummy (medium undead): none
…..Troll (large Humanoid): none
…..ice golem (large construct): none

Conparison: acceptable

Special Abilities/attacks: You gave it: Human Soul, Incandescence, Thrall's Boon
…..Large Fire Elemental (Large Outsider): burn (included above)
…..Mummy (medium undead): despair, mummy rot
…..Troll (large Humanoid): rend (included above)
…..ice golem (large construct): cold, icy destruction, immunity to magic (included above)

Conparison: acceptable.

Conclusion: I feel that there are 5 categories where you are “on target” for this CR, and 4 where you are too weak for this CR. That's telling me that this is too weak for it's CR. If you disagree, I invite you to playtest one of these against a variety of CR5 creatures.

The Vote: As much as I wanted to see a lantern thrall stat block, I don’t think I would have voted for this if I could have.


Commiserations. (Maybe we'll see you next year in at least the top 32...)

Paizo / Messageboards / Paizo Publishing / RPG Superstar™ / Previous Contests / RPG Superstar™ 2010 / Round 3 - Top 16: Create a Monster Stat Block / Lief Clennon's Lantern Thrall All Messageboards

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