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RPG Superstar 2015

Matt Goodall's Chaitrakhan


Round 3 - Top 16: Create a Monster Stat Block

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

CHAITRAKHAN

A mosaic framework of luminous sapphire ice rimes the forelimbs and backbone of this pale-furred feline. It has iridescent eyes and its powerful body ends in a long tail tipped with icicle-like spurs.

CHAITRAKHAN CR 6
XP 2,400
N Large magical beast (cold)
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft., heat sense 120 ft., low-light vision, scent; Perception +14
=====
Defense
=====
AC 18, touch 12, flat-footed 15 (+3 armor, +3 Dex, +3 natural, -1size)
hp 42 (5d10+15)
Fort +7, Ref +7, Will +2
Immune cold
Weaknesses vulnerability to fire
=====
Offense
=====
Speed 40 ft.
Melee bite +8 (1d8+4 plus grab), 2 claws +8 (1d6+4)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks pounce, rake (2 claws +8, 1d6+4 and tail-spurs +3, 1d4+2 plus 1d6 cold plus ice netting)
=====
Statistics
=====
Str 19, Dex 17, Con 16, Int 3, Wis 12, Cha 6
Base Atk +5; CMB +10 (+14 grapple); CMD +13 (17 vs. trip)
Feats Improved Initiative, Skill Focus (Perception), Skill Focus (Stealth)
Skills Acrobatics +7, Perception +14, Stealth +6 (+10 in snow), +1 Survival (+5 scent tracking); Racial Modifiers +4 Perception, +4 Stealth in snow, +4 Survival when tracking by scent
Languages pheromones
SQ pheromones
=====
Ecology
=====
Environment cold plains or hills
Organization solitary, pair, or pride (3-8)
Treasure none
=====
Special Abilities
=====
Heat Sense (Su) Chaitrakhans sense heat radiated by objects and creatures. Darkness, invisibility, or illusions that don’t include thermal components, are ineffective against them. Concealment is irrelevant to chaitrakhans, unless the creature and its concealment are the same temperature, or the creature doesn’t generate heat.
Ice Armor (Su) The ice that forms on chaitrakhans gives them a +3 armor bonus to AC. In darkness or dim light, it glows with the equivalent illumination of a candle. In environments above 40° F, the armor melts in an hour.
Ice Netting (Su) On striking an opponent, the unearthly magical cold of a chaitrakhan’s lacerating tail-spurs induces an unnatural extraction of water from both the opponent and the surrounding area. If the opponent is a living creature, it takes 2d4 non-lethal damage from having its fluids drawn out (DC 15 Fortitude halves). The water immediately coalesces and flash-freezes around the creature, crystallizing into an icy cocoon-like mesh. Unless the creature makes a DC 15 Reflex save, it gains the entangled condition and cannot move. A trapped creature can escape with a DC 20 Escape Artist check (full-round action). The ice has 6 hp and can be broken with a DC 15 Strength check. Chaitrakhans cannot use this ability in environments above 40° F. The save DCs are Constitution-based.
Pheromones (Su) Chaitrakhans secrete pheromones, allowing them to silently communicate with each other using a scent-based language. Being in pheromonal contact with other chaitrakhans heightens a chaitrakhan’s awareness and senses. It inspires audacious ferocity and staunch aggressiveness. A chaitrakhan that can smell (see Scent) another chaitrakhan, gains a +1 bonus to Perception checks, and a +1 morale bonus to attack rolls and saving throws against charm and fear effects. These bonuses increase to +2 if it can smell at least three other chaitrakhans.

Chaitrakhans (pronounced CHY-truck-KARNs) are crafty and ferocious great cats that stalk the primeval tundra and snowy crags of the Realm of the Mammoth Lords. Chaitrakhans inhabit the hyperborean terrain near the great glacial wall of the Crown of the World. They live in small packs to endure in a harsh environment dominated by hulking prehistoric beasts.
Chaitrakhans are fierce predators possessing instinctive ancestral memories; this allows a pride of chaitrakhans to use strategic planning when stalking and ambushing their quarry. Chaitrakhans deliberately hunt in mist and snowstorms using their heat sense to easily ambush creatures, and often bury themselves in snowbanks to surprise prey.
Some scholars believe that chaitrakhans came from the Great Beyond with the Witch Queen Baba Yaga when she conquered Irrisen, but the wizened shaman elders of the Mammoth Lord tribes state that the ‘blizzard cats’ have always dwelled in their realm.
Candidates for Mammoth Lord leadership occasionally strive to singlehandedly slay a Chaitrakhan to prove their bravery. Chaitrakhan pelts are worth approximately 300 gp. Adult chaitrakhans are around 6 feet long and weigh about 400 pounds.

Contributor

First thing that caught my eye is the heat sense in the senses line; I know I'm going to have to read up on that later on in the stat block. I've skimmed ahead and I know you cover it--part of my process as a developer is spotting something that may be a problem, then quickly skimming the stat block to see if there's an entry for that problem item so I know I can deal with it later, then returning to the thing that prompted the skimming. So, test #1, you passed. :)

The rake ability with the tail spurs is a flag for me, I'm not sure if there are any other Bestiary monsters whose rakes trigger anything but more claws (I also lack an easy way to search for it at the moment). Rake is a strong ability that can decimate a CR-appropriate PC, and I'd be careful about adding extra attacks to it.

Because the pheremones ability affects the creature's attack rolls, I'd probably list it under Special Attacks. It would be weird to list it under SA and SQ, but when you have an ability that has offensive and defensive aspects....

We don't normally call out the value of monster parts in a monster's entry. However, because you did in this one, I'd probably list its hide in the monster's Treasure line so that information isn't buried in the description.

The heat sense ability concerns me. For one, it has 120 ft. range--farther than a dragon's blindsense, and theirs is pretty much the longest range in the game. Two, it completely ignores invisibility and non-thermal illusions, making it as good as blindsight for that range. Sure, it only applies to heat-based creatures, but as it's fighting PCs 99.99% of the time, it's basically always effective. The part about a creature and its concealment being the same temperature isn't clear and we don't define that anywhere in the rules. In fact, we also don't say whether or not creatures radiate heat--a frost giant has the cold subtype, but we don't know if that affects its body heat or how it impacts this creature's senses. The creature ALSO has scent, which is redundant for the most part because its range is a small fraction of the heat sense's range. If I were developing this creature, I'd make this ability just a Perception bonus to notice/pinpoint creatures with body heat, and specifically exclude oozes, undead, constructs, and creatures with the cold subtype--it's simple, and uses existing rules in a way people understand. (As it is presented, it's more of a subsystem and requires more explanation than we can afford to use in this monster.)

The ice armor is neat. :)

The flash-freeze is a problem similar to the heat sense--it's built on a set of assumptions that make sense in a real-world context, but relies on things that we don't define in the game, such as whether or not a creature has water in its body. Does an earth elemental contain water? A djinn? Someone using iron body? This ability could just be "its tail strike freezes the target in a thin layer of ice, giving the target the entangled condition" and it wouldn't leave the door open to fussy biologists and rules lawyers.

In the descriptive text, you may want to avoid starting so many sentences with the creature's name, and not capitalize the creature's name (if you wouldn't capitalize "lion," don't capitalize a monster's name unless it's actually a proper name, such as "Bob the chaitrakhan").

Paizo Employee Lead Designer

I like the concept here and the execution is pretty good. I am with Sean on most of the concerns here, especially those dealing with abilities based of game info that is not normally provided (such as heat and water quantity). On to a few specifics...

- The hit points are about 30 points off for a CR 6 creature. While some of this can be attributed to its high damage output on a charge, that would usually only put it off by about 10 or maybe 15.
- The saves and attack bonuses are a bit low for its CR as well. Both this issue, and the previous one could be solved by the addition of about 2-3 HD. Although this does not seem like a huge issue, it is actually quite a pain to change on the development end as it means adjusting just about everything in the stat block... either that or lowering the CR. Which is sometimes possible, but usually less desirable.
- I like the ice netting ability, but I agree with Sean, it should be simpler and not based off conditions. I also think that it should not be tied to rake, which is an alteration to the UMR (universal monster rules for those of you playing at home). This would be a fine special ability or secondary type of attack.

I am kinda torn here. I like the monster and most of the execution, but that CR/HD issue is a real stickler for me.

I give this monster a C+

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

I would have liked to see a bit more precision in the descriptive details for this creature. The first two sentences say where these things live, though sort of in a "the same but different" kind of way. We've also got a section later that suggests a Baba Yaga connection but then immediately refutes it, making it pretty much just a continuity name drop. Weak. Using the monster's name in all but one of the descriptive sentences also gets pretty repetitive real fast - especially as the first word and especially when it's such a clunky name. The writing isn't bad, but when you're cramped on space (or on anything that crosses my desk for publication) I'd like the author to be a bit more precious with his words and use them to say more.

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
Another Chaitrakhan. I didn’t love the other version, so let’s see how yours does…

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:

The Chaitrakhan has a number of powers:

• forelimbs, spine, and wickedly barbed tail.
• This ice armor fluoresces an eerie blue light that intensifies as darkness falls and combines with a chaitrakhan’s languid movements to give observers the impression that the creature’s very body shifts between ice and water with each breath.
• the creature’s ability to mentally connect with others of its kind makes it a deadly pack hunter, stalking and killing yeti, winter wolves, and even dire bears without fear.
• A chaitrakhan senses the heat given off by other living things and can pinpoint prey through all manner of illusions and camouflage. They deliberately ambush in blizards and blinding snowstorms to make full use of this advantage.
• Using the serrated barb at the end of its tail, a chaitrakhan stings its prey and injects a paralytic poison that violently expels water from the victim’s body and instantly refreezes the water into a binding net of ice.
• Lastly, scent glands in the chaitrakhan’s paws secrete pheromones on fallen snow, attracting others of its kind and creating a shared and cumulative intelligence among pack members. This mental link confers increased speed, strength and heightened awareness on each creature in the bond and makes a chaitrakhan resistant to mind-affecting magic. The mental bond grows in power based on the number of chaitrakhan in the pack.

Wow, that’s quite a list. Let’s see how you implemented them.

I hear what Sean is saying, but I like the way you worked the tail barbs in. Though I think the beast should have its own tail attack, not just as a part of the rake, I do like the idea of trying to mix it in with the rake. You’d likely get it back from me as the developer, though, with a note saying “Dude, no other creature does something that nasty, and I’m not letting a CR 6 ice kitty be the first to do it. Please rework.” Yes, rake is nasty and so is rend. But I enjoy killing PCs, so I am biased. But I like what you were trying to do—that is make the barbed tail be extra nasty because that is what the concept promises and this round is about taking the concept and trying to stat it out. So nice try. Moving on, I see you actually give the beast ice armor. Nice work. I really like the other powers you give to the ice cat of ours.

Final Thoughts
Matt, I liked your vambraces and I think I was pretty effusive in my praise of your bad ass rat. I think you really delivered with this monster. It has some bumps. But you found the concept from the prior round and you really tried to implement it. That is what this round is about and you did a real good job. Keep this up and you might just win this thing.

I RECOMMEND this for Top 8.

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

Thanks to all the judges for their comments. Everyone has really taken time and looked indepth at my write up.

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

Since I picked the same monster I won't say much. I like your choices for much of the implementation. The judges have pointed out most of the obvious problems. That is once nasty rake attack. The Golarion fluff is nice. Good luck!

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

I think you've buried the lead here. The coolest ability for ice kitty is the sting + ice web combo, and here it's tied to a secondary rake attack. Nothing has secondary rake attacks, and it's conditional to the point where most fights won't get to witness it, which is a shame. The ice armor is well implemented, and I have to say that you made the pheromone ability not stupid, which I was pleasantly surprised by. Also: the adjective hyperborean. I approve.

That said, Jason's right on the HD problem. This guy's really fragile for a CR 6, and that CR is poised just right for PCs to start pulling off fireballs. He won't survive round 2 if they figure out the cold subtype.

I like this incarnation of the chaitrakhan more than I did the original flavor-only version, but I don't know if that translates to a vote.

Dark Archive

Jason Bulmahn wrote:


I am kinda torn here. I like the monster and most of the execution, but that CR/HD issue is a real stickler for me.

Ok, what do I think of this monster? lets break it down step by step.

The first thing that I noticed, is that numerically, this thing sits right on the CR 5 curve for damage, HPs, AC – EVERYTHING. This was initially an alarm bell, but I know better – so I read on. This implies, following a STRICT interpretation of the rules, that barring ANY other major abilities, this beastie is CR 5.

The question is whether or not the following, are worth an ‘EL’ or CR increase to 6:

1. A very dangerous pounce, particularly once one applies the +2 charge bonus
2. An entangling ability
3. Effective Blindsight
4. Situational Bardic Buffs
5. The environmental factors.

I think point 5 is pretty important. Let’s look at a Shark for example. A shark on its own is the SAME CR as two level 2 Orc Fighters. Compare the stats – the Barbarians are so utterly more dangerous it beggars belief.

What is the difference? The Shark is fought underwater. This is included in the original CR, that was ported over to 3.75

I view the Arctic Pussy as being in the same boat; (pun intended) in that the ONLY time a PC sees one of these things when it is jumping on his face and pouncing the heck out of him. One or two of these creatures, acting in the stated tactics/environment of mist or a blizzard will mess up a party that cannot see them.

For an idea of what I envision when I see this creature; see this scene from the new Star Trek adaptation: (ignore the giant red thing, focus on the polar bear thingy)

Kirk gets scared by a Chaitrakhan

As such, from this context; I think the creator is justified in his CR upgrade.

Think of it this way: CR 5 is for level 4s to fight, and would a party of level 4s stand up to this thing in a snowstorm? That fireball looks pretty necessary right now… The Blizzard makes the party automatically split, both for healing and ranged attacks (read the rules for visibility/concealment) and when you factor in immobilizing targets and withdrawing for more pounces – or have 2-3 of these critters, and it becomes TOO dangerous a fight for a party of 5s.

I voted for this monster, because I think it represents a good effort to turn a monster with some less than savoury (imo) abilities (read: hive mind and generic scorpion tail) into something a bit more iconic. My favourite monster of the previous round was the rat beastie, which you couldn’t do (hence my interest in your Artic Pussy)

Put your PCs in an arctic area on route to some plothook/location, hit em with a snowstorm/morning fog, and THEN one or two of these things, and I think you will see the CR is a bit more appropriate.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

Demiurge 1138 wrote:

I think you've buried the lead here. The coolest ability for ice kitty is the sting + ice web combo, and here it's tied to a secondary rake attack. Nothing has secondary rake attacks, and it's conditional to the point where most fights won't get to witness it, which is a shame. The ice armor is well implemented, and I have to say that you made the pheromone ability not stupid, which I was pleasantly surprised by. Also: the adjective hyperborean. I approve.

That said, Jason's right on the HD problem. This guy's really fragile for a CR 6, and that CR is poised just right for PCs to start pulling off fireballs. He won't survive round 2 if they figure out the cold subtype.

I like this incarnation of the chaitrakhan more than I did the original flavor-only version, but I don't know if that translates to a vote.

Big props for the bolded above.

I agree, though, that the tail attack should've been a bigger deal - that seems to be its "neato-cool" attack, but it seems like it can ONLY do it on a pounce/rake.

One thing you also probably should've included in a charge-based monster is some kind of ice/snow movement penalty exemption (like a white dragon, or a druid's woodland stride for ice and snow), because otherwise it's not going to be ABLE to pounce in its favored snow and ice terrain because it can't charge (see "difficult terrain").

The guy is another glass cannon with a lot of abilities going on. I think it's right on the edge of coming together, but there are stat block issues described above. On the fence on this one.


Not to pick on Sean, but it appears he missed a section of the entry on the ice netting ability

SKR wrote:
The flash-freeze is a problem similar to the heat sense--it's built on a set of assumptions that make sense in a real-world context, but relies on things that we don't define in the game, such as whether or not a creature has water in its body. Does an earth elemental contain water? A djinn? Someone using iron body? This ability could just be "its tail strike freezes the target in a thin layer of ice, giving the target the entangled condition" and it wouldn't leave the door open to fussy biologists and rules lawyers.

Note the bolded section of the Ice Netting ability

Quote:
Ice Netting (Su) On striking an opponent, the unearthly magical cold of a chaitrakhan’s lacerating tail-spurs induces an unnatural extraction of water from both the opponent and the surrounding area. If the opponent is a living creature, it takes 2d4 non-lethal damage from having its fluids drawn out (DC 15 Fortitude halves). The water immediately coalesces and flash-freezes around the creature, crystallizing into an icy cocoon-like mesh. Unless the creature makes a DC 15 Reflex save, it gains the entangled condition and cannot move. A trapped creature can escape with a DC 20 Escape Artist check (full-round action). The ice has 6 hp and can be broken with a DC 15 Strength check. Chaitrakhans cannot use this ability in environments above 40° F. The save DCs are Constitution-based.

It looks like to me that Matt has already thought of the issues you've raised and dealt with them in his entry.

There are issues with the entry, and yes the monster is a glass cannon, but given it is presented as an ambush hunter I don't see these things picking fair fights very often.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

Matt,

Nice entry, I like the cold kitty a lot. In particular I like the ice armor, that's a cool ;) idea.

Good luck Top 16 brother!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Interesting. This was not one of my favorite reatures in round 2. But the stats sort of make me come round to yout point of view. Good job.

I really like the way you made the special abilities work really well in it's own environment and suck outside of it.

Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

Nice Job.

I really liked how you put a pronunciation for its name in yours.

I have a few more to read (and I see we get to vote on 6 entries!) Wow! But I believe you have earned one of my votes.

Good Luck for continued success in RPG Superstar!

Dean; The_Minstrel_Wyrm

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Nice entry Matt. I think you’ve perhaps made a few odd design choices (as others have commented on), but its generally fairly solid. Good luck moving forward.

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

Thanks everyone for your support. I'll be able to respond to your comments and questions once voting for this round is closed.


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
...We don't normally call out the value of monster parts in a monster's entry. However, because you did in this one, I'd probably list its hide in the monster's Treasure line so that information isn't buried in the description...

As another poster has commented on another thread, Paizo doesn't list a unicorn's horn in the treasure line of its Bestiary entry, so the contestant could be assumed to be following Paizo's own example. :)


Comparing this version of the Chaitrakhan to a young white dragon (CR 6 in the Bestiary) this entry seems a bit underpowered for a CR 6 creature. It doesn't have the dragon's ability to fly, the area attack weapon, or the damage output in melee unless a Chaitrakhan gets in a rake attack.
I think you might have been a bit on the cautious side here in rating this entry CR 6.

This is the second of two Chaitrakhan entries that I've read this round, and whilst the wording of the Heat Sense of this entry may be a bit tricky, I do find it to be the preferable version out of the two different ones represented in this round.

By and large I like the attention to detail of your stat block (down to and including making the distinction of treating the tail as a secondary rather than primary attack).

You actually state that these chaitrakhans use pheromones as a language which the other entry sort of hinted at but didn't quite say, although I think the actual ability detailed under the heading 'Pheromones' could have been called something like 'Pack Hunters' given that the combat and save bonuses derive from morale. (I'm not quite sure why smelling a different Chaitrakhan heightens awareness, however? Why doesn't its own scent give it a bonus, or if it does (there are those racial bonuses, after all) why does adding in weaker, secondary, scents give it a further boost?)

With regard to some of the points I raised over the Round 2 entry:
You sort of do something with the 'icy net' although you still outright refer to it as 'icy net' and imply some sort of regular mesh, although to be fair you don't actually refer to it as if it were a poison; so this could be thought of as some sort of weird injection-based potion/elixir (possibly related to the manner in which the Chaitrakhan generates its own ice armor?).
You do do something with the ice armor, dropping the weird shimmering patterns element of the original and having it as an interesting natural armour variant, which goes away when it gets too hot.
You do make clear the size of the creatures.
You do not make any reference to whether these creatures have a place as possible animal companions for Druids or Rangers.

My overall impression is of a fairly well reworked and intelligently tweaked version of the respective Round 2 entry, in many places doing just enough where it was needed. There are a couple of rough patches, but it seems to me a good developer would have little difficulty sorting those out.
As an aside, the contrasting stories of origin might belong more to a Pathfinder monster write-up than to a Bestiary entry.

My thanks for submitting this entry.

Star Voter 2013

But, again, the pack issue crops up. Clark's right that we think of pack hunters as appearing in more than groups of four... which means that a group of six of these unspellable ice kittens has CR 11 encounter. Since this is strictly a wandering monster creature, we're talking an APL of 8 or 9. These combats are going to be short and brutal, with unstoppable pounce coming up against unreachable flyers. If these kitties don't get the airwalking cleric and the flying wizard on the ground by round two, they're toast. (And for outdoor adventuring, you can bet your bottom dollar that they selected their spells to avoid climbs and falls into ice crevasses.) Ordinarily, I'd be the one scoffing and saying they have no ranged capacity. But...

These kittens have 5 attacks at +12 during the pounce, at 7 or 8 points of damage each, with a +7 maybe for its key netting attack. Remember, as ambush predators, the PCs don't have any prep spells except those that last for 1 hour per level. Then, if the cats win initiative, they can make a fight out of this, but, frankly, the +2 CR here over the other contestant's unspellable ice kitten makes a big difference. I wasn't convinced that the DM would avoid a TPK there. Here, I am.

The wizard might go down, but if there's a druid, that low Will save will come in handy.

These creatures function better as solo hunters than as pack creatures.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka Epic Meepo

Well, you've gone a long way to making the pheromone ability less goofy, though I don't know that it qualifies as a language, per se.

But I think you hit a big landmine when you combined the rake and tail attacks into one. The tail should have been one of the monster's primary attack forms, bring its signature freezing poison to the forefront. As others have pointed out, you've buried your lead.

Together with the other concerns that have been raised and amply discussed by the above posters, this hurts your design for the chaitrkhan. I'm going to have to pass on your monster this round.

Liberty's Edge Contributor , Star Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

This is getting one of my votes.

One of my top 10 favorite monsters from round 2, you've done an excellent job of preserving the original flavor, but making this creature your own. You've done an excellent job of considering the environment for the creature's abilities. Tying them to the Mammoth Lords and the Crown of the World was obvious, but you did it in a clever way.

Best of luck in this round!


Once again we have a creature with Golarion refernces throughout its background, and that, for me, is a put off. No offense to the judges and the people at Paizo, as I really enjoy the Pathfinder system and am ever so grateful that my 3.5 books will be doing more than collecting dust, but I do not use Golaria as my game setting. Whenever I see one of these creatures using that setting for background, my first thought is it becomes world-specific, and I feel like passing on it because it's likely to have abilities that reflect that.

That said, I'm glad I didn't pass on this one, as I do like most of what I see here. This creature is more elemental than beast, and I like that; I have a penchant for using elemental templates on standard monsters for extreme climates and especially regions of interplanar activity, so this works well for me. However, I do have to wonder if raising the local temperature, say for instance having a large fire going, would affect the creature's abilities.

I'm not too keen on the rake uncluding the tail strike; have to agree that should be its own (secondary) attack. I see the judges' concerns over relying upon non-defined concepts like body temperature, but I think if you implemented something along the lines of Sean's suggestions, this would definitely be a solid creature. I would agree the CR should be lower, though. I'm thinking 4, but then, I'm still getting used to Pathfinder's monster creation rules myself (which is why THOSE guys are getting the paychecks, and I'm just a lowly DM ;-)

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 aka tejón

I'm going to pitch with the "aww, no independent tail attack?" team. That's really a bummer, it's their signature attack! On top of that, it's there to immobilize the prey, so they can be finished at leisure... but it only comes at the end of a huge damage burst which probably killed the recipient outright. Ah well, moving on! You toned down the pheromones to something far less annoying than "hive mind," thank you.

Heat sense really does seem too good, and I echo the concerns that ambient temperature is not a commonly tracked data point in the game. For the same reason, I think the ice armor is more trouble than it's worth. Also, add me to the list of folks who don't like the throw-away Baba Yaga name drop. Not too shabby overall, but doesn't really cry out to me.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka JoelF847

Since I'm behind on R3, I'll be brief with my comments. I have to repeat the theme of - the coolest part of this monster is the ice sting, and you've made it only able to use it on pounce attacks, which is a problem. That combined with the too low HD for the CR is a big problem. I think everyone else covered other details here. As for comparing to the other R3 write up of this monster, I think some things about yours are better, and the other one also had a few areas that were better. Unfortunately, I don't think either entry really nailed the monster, which is a shame, since I liked the R2 version.

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

Thank you for your support and please vote for my entry.


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


Congratulations on making it through to Round 4.

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

First of all I would like to thank the judges for their comments, I felt that almost all of these were very accurate and aimed at pointing out areas I needed to work on more.

CR: After I submitted I realised that I hadn’t changed it to CR 5 like I wanted. That was a D’oh! moment. That said, I don’t like under CRed monsters, under CRed monsters are the thing that will kill characters. I would much rather have something that is a fragile CR 6 rather than an overpowering CR 5. Anyway, it was one number wrong by 1 point.

Heat Sense: It was maybe a little long in the range, but I expect that chaitrakhans need to be able to see their prey to hunt it. Maybe I could have gone 90 foot, but I figure the difference between 90 and 120 wasn’t going make much difference in most cases. Yes, my description talked about differences in heat, I guess I was considering the Predator movie, where Arnie is able to hide from the predator by masking his heat signature. This made it too complex.

Why scent?: It is a cat and all the other cats have scent, also this determines the range of when its pheromones kick in.

Pheromones: I went for the equivalent of a bardic performance mechanic for the pheromones, because it makes sense without being overpowered (they get inspired by being near and smelling each other). I had considered making it a bonus to attack rolls and (natural) weapon damage, but realised that with as many attacks as these things have, that would be a very significant bonus. The reason I stopped at a max of four creatures for pheromones, was because chaitrakhans each take up a 10 ft x 10 ft square, realistically you aren’t going to get more than that close enough to each other for it to matter during a combat. As for the pheremones being a language, I didn’t think it would be for complex discussion, just things like “Ambush now”. I also thought of the old Red Dwarf episode where Lister is learning the cat language: “sniff, see, sniff, spot, sniff, run. Sniff, run, sniff spot, sniff, run.” :-)

Ice Armor: glad people liked it; it seemed the best way to do that ability. I did use 40°F for a reason. It is something a DM may have to track because it is the temperature that you start taking cold damage. See Environment

Ice Netting: The chaitrakhan’s signature ability. I was torn here, I did want to make it cool (freezing in fact) but making it as a poison is just asking for someone to harvest this poison and sell it. This ends up being a headache for the DM (and the players after every assassin starts using it on them). Also I, like a lot of the posters on the round 2 forum, couldn’t see a cat with a stinger. I did consider a poison with a save or be staggered (slowed) until you make a successful saving throw, but ultimately I wanted it to make it still something a mammal (not an insect) would have. The platypus is one of the few mammals that has poison and it has spurs to inject it. That sounded better to me than a stinger. I also couldn’t see poison both drawing out water and instantly freezing it, this really sounds like a magical effect to me. The drawing out of water was a problem, yes some creatures not have water in them, but every other mechanic I looked at didn’t worry about it. Horrid wilting and blight spells, heat dangers (heat stroke), even the salt mephit’s dehydrate ability all don’t track if a creature has water in it. I went with a heat stroke style mechanic, this is why it is non-lethal damage. Thanks to Caedwyr for posting about the Ice Netting drawing water out of the environment as well as the creature when I couldn’t.

Rake only tail attack: I now know this wasn’t popular, but I considered two things, Realism: could a cat really attack with a tail while claw, claw, biting someone? When do you want it to happen: if it is a signature ability and you make it a normal attack, it is just going to happen at random, not on the cool initial attack. Note: a creature with rake can also use it in a grapple, and chaitrkhan’s have the grab ability so they can get into grapples pretty easily. I may have been overly cautious, but a chaitrakhan that hits with its tail every round can cause a lot of hurt on a party. Jason (Nelson) you are correct about the snow movement thing. I considered trying to squeeze it in the stat block, but not enough words.

Charles Evans 25: Thank you for your comments and support. I did want to answer your question about them being a druid’s animal companion: as a magical beast (not an animal), chaitrakhans don’t qualify to be an animal companion (I did think of this in the design process though).

Golarion fluff: I hope people liked this, and yes my wording here needed another run of proofreading. The Baba Yaga reference wasn’t meant as a throw away (she is an ice witch, who comes from another plane and brought across ice creatures like ice trolls and such). It seemed like a good tie in. I fully accept that I didn’t word it well, and give the right feel to it.

Overall, definitely some good lessons learnt for me in this round.

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