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RPG Superstar 2015

Benjamin's Bruck's Churjiir


Round 3 - Top 16: Create a Monster Stat Block

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

Luminescent spittle drips from both this rat-like beast's malformed heads. It rears up onto two pairs of hind legs, standing as tall as a man, and fixes its cunning gaze upon you.

Churjiir CR 4
XP 1,200
NE Medium Aberration
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft., scent; Perception +10
Aura servitor fleas 5 ft. (1d3 plus distraction)
=====
Defense
=====
AC 17, touch 13, flat-footed 14 (+3 Dex, +4 natural)
hp 45 (6d8+18)
Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +8
=====
Offense
=====
Speed 40 ft., burrow 15 ft.
Melee 2 bites +7 (1d6+2 plus gnaw the mind), 2 claws +5 (1d4+1)
Special Attacks nest of memories
=====
Statistics
=====
Str 14, Dex 16, Con 17, Int 16, Wis 13, Cha 6
Base Atk +4; CMB +6; CMD 18 Feats Iron Will, Multiattack, Weapon Finesse
Skills Bluff +7, Climb +11, Intimidate +7, Perception +10, Stealth +16, Survival +10, Swim +11; Racial Modifiers +4 Stealth
Languages Common (cannot speak); speak with rats, telepathy 100 ft.
SQ king among rats
=====
Ecology
=====
Environment any urban
Organization solitary
Treasure standard
=====
Special Abilities
=====
Gnaw the Mind (Su): A churjiir’s bite damages not only the flesh but the mind. Such gnawing leaves behind gaps in the victim’s memory that interfere with the ability to cast spells. This functions as a curse. Moving beyond the range of the churjiir’s telepathy suppresses the curse, but does not remove it. The curse DC is Intelligence-based.
Gnaw the Mind: bite; save Will DC 15; effect target’s takes a -4 penalty on all Knowledge checks and adds 25% to their spell failure chance; this 25% applies even to divine spells and spells without somatic components cure kill the churjiir who bestowed this curse

King Among Rats (Su): The churjiir imposes its will over lesser rats. Rat-like creatures of any type with fewer hit dice than the churjiir are considered dominated as the spell dominate animal once they enter its telepathy range. Creatures with an Intelligence score higher than 2 can resist this effect with a DC 15 Will save. This is a mind-affecting (compulsion) effect. The DC is Intelligence-based.

Nest of Memories (Su): Once per day as a standard action a churjiir can manifest its collection of stolen memories, causing a swirling phantasmagoric illusion to form on a point within 30 ft. A nest of memories has a radius of 15 ft., provides the churjiir concealment from attacks made into or within its area, and lasts for a number of rounds equal to the churjiir’s hit dice. Any creature other than the churjiir that enters the nest is affected by confusion unless it makes a DC 15 Will save. The confusion effect ends immediately when the creature leaves the area or the nest expires. Creatures that succeed on their saving throw are immune to this ability for 24 hours. True seeing negates the concealment but not the confusion effect. This is a mind-affecting effect. The DC is Intelligence-based.

Servitor Fleas (Ex): A churjiir is surrounded at all times by a seething swarm of fleas which it uses to torment its enemies. At the start of the churjiir’s turn opponents adjacent to it take 1d3 points of damage and suffer distraction (DC 15). Damaging the churjiir with a spell or effect that affects an area suppresses this aura for 1d4 rounds. The DC is Constitution-based.

The defining characteristic of any rodent is its urge to gnaw, and the churjiir is no exception. While the average dungeon rat sharpens its teeth on wood or occasionally bone, the churjiir instead chews upon minds. Using its telepathy, a churjiir scavenges the thoughts of others in search of pleasant, happy memories it can steal for itself, leaving behind frayed and warped recollections. From these thoughts it constructs a nest within its mind, a joyful illusion into which it can retreat from the stench of urine and haze of fleas which constantly surround it. Wretched and vile things, churjiirs seek only luxury and comfort for themselves. They take great pleasure in subjugating other rodents to serve their twisted whims.

Rumors persist that a churjiir’s psychic abilities result from its second head, and that three or four headed monstrosities exist with even greater powers.

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
Just when I thought I’d seen all the Churjiirs, this one comes along. Let’s see how it goes…

I like CR 4. That works for me. I’ve discussed the aberration vs. magical beast thing in a different thread and I agree it works, particularly with this vision of the creature. I think perhaps your powers are the most fun we have yet seen for this creature. You chose to focus less on fleas and more on the mind powers and you did it with special abilities rather than spell effects. Nice choice. It also stays the most true to the original concept of the creature. How important that is, I leave to the voters. But I think this is our best Churjiir.

The Execution
CR 4 is good. I like the aberration frame for this thing, as I have discussed elsewhere. In particular, your vision of the Churjiir seems to fit even better as an aberration.

As with the other incarnations of the Churjiir, the issue is what did you do with the special abilities. The Churjiir, as designed, has:

• Churjiirs can mentally control and communicate at a distance with rodents of any size. This includes intelligent or enhanced rat-like creatures, such as wererats
• It has the magical power to scavenge through a nearby creature’s mind, feeding on and devouring thoughts, tainting the creature’s recollection, and often excreting diseased and foul memories in their place
• Its corrupted bite can unnaturally diminish a victim’s spellcasting ability
• while putrescent saliva causes painful necrosis of the wound
• Churjiirs can send forth hordes of fleas to torment enemies

So what did you do with those?

Again, Sean and Wes can dig into the mechanics of the powers themselves as they are far more qualified than me to do so. But here are my thoughts:

I loved that you focused on the gnaw the mind powers. I like the spell failure chance and that it is ended by killing the monster. I do think there are some problems with that—namely, that is a way powerful curse type effect. There has to be another way to remove it or cure it. I also think you failed to address the fact that the mind powers don’t just affect spellcasters. I think you missed out using the modify memory power that others used. Also, where is the necrotic bite? That said, I love your naming of the powers. I didn’t like another entry with its “rat control,” and you give us “King Among Rats.” Now that is a power name. Nice work. As much as I like your version, it has some holes in its execution. But I really think you did something more. You found this creature and you found a cool way to implement its most interesting power—one that everyone else who did this kind of stayed away from or did in a clunky way. A fight with this thing would give PCs fits. I love the idea of spell failure (I dont know that it works perfectly, but its a nice idea; it is a bit hard to see a CR 4 monster giving spell failure and basically no other creature or ability does, but that's swinging for the fences). Nice. I also think your version of the fleas was the best (I love it as an aura) and didn’t fall prey to some of the pitfalls that came with the other ways to do the fleas. Now, that said, your version is not without its problems as I am sure others will point out.

Final Thoughts
Benjamin, the gut stone and the Chymick were home-runs in my book. And this version of the Churjiir was, too (at the very least a triple). You managed to do something really difficult, something that is a prized quality in a freelancer (and thus an RPG Superstar). You took someone else’s idea and framework and you made it your own. You put your personality into this creature. That is huge. Freelancers don’t usually get assignments to “just make something cool and give it to me,” they usually get: “Benjamin, I need 3000 words on the political history of the Principality of Erikon by Monday!” In other words, you get someone else’s idea and you have to make something great. To do that, you have to make it your own. You showed me you can do that with the way you handled this monster. Was it perfect, no. But did you show me Superstar stuff? Yes. No doubt about it.

I RECOMMEND this for Top 8.

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

Wow, those are some ability names. A word on naming monster abilities: keep it simple. You don't need to sell GM on which abilities to use, they;re going to use them all. One or two words is fine. Once you're ability names start sounding like the titles of horror novels, you're getting into trouble. These are meant to be markers for quick reference and don't need to show how clever the designer is (unless he can be clever in a word or two).

This take on the churjiir is pretty distinctive in that it really embraced the mind control, mind affecting aspect. The servitor fleas working like an aura is a nice effect. The curse gets weird though: I don't understand the distinction between a suppressed curse and a non-existent curse.

This is also another one where the majority of the word count went to the stats, leaving the description on the weak side. Part of the trick with monsters is finding a good balance, part interesting and fun statistics and part cool description to really sell the creature and inspire adventures. That second part is lacking somewhat here. Though I do have to say, points for creativity, this background is a definite departure from the other "churjiir as ratiest rat" write-ups, making this interesting without being wahoo... which can be a tricky line to walk.

Contributor

You accidentally pulled the Feats line up onto the BAB/CMB/CMD line.

Bites and claws are both primary attacks, so you don't need Multiattack (natural attacks changed a little bit in PF, and Multiattack is now only needed if a creature has an attack type like a tentacle that the game defines as secondary).

The gnaw the mind curse is interesting.

Given how this thing rules over rats and wererats, you should list creature combinations in the Organization line (such as "solitary, court (1 plus 1d4 rat swarms), or kingdom (1 plus 1d4 rat swarms and 1d3 wererats").

Nest of Memories: This ability is interesting, but I think it may be too powerful for a CR creature (though it's mitigated by the fact that leaving the area ends it, though THAT is mitigated by the fact that the affected area is 30 ft. diameter and therefore it's hard for the PCs to get out).

Servitor Fleas: I was worried about how you were going to make this work, but limiting it to just the distraction ability pretty much covers it.

Paizo Employee Lead Designer

Beware the telepathic rat!

So, it looks like most of the abilities here are handled relatively cleanly, but there are some statistical issues. I agree with most of the other points of my fellow reviewers, especially when it comes to odd choices such as Multiattack. Here are a few others...

- CMD appears to be wrong. It should be 19.
- It looks like the skills are off. I think you assigned it class skills for some skills that are no class skills for Aberrations.

All and all these are relatively minor and it seems to me that the concept here plays out rather well.

I give this monster an A-.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

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

Thank you very much for your comments and critiques!

Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

"greh hurgrr gr*fkl lxxsq rrughu"

= "The awesomeness of this true KING AMONG RATS has devoured the Broca's area of my brain, thereby damaging my speech production capabilities."

= 1 big vote from me

[/slobbering]

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Congrats, Ben! Some very positive reviews from the powers that be. I knew you could do it! I think the voters will be pleased as well. And with 6 votes this time, there's a lot more love to go around.

I'll be sketching up a churjiir sometime soon. Final image to be posted after this round's finished, of course.

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

Marcus Ewert wrote:

"greh hurgrr gr*fkl lxxsq rrughu"

= "The awesomeness of this true KING AMONG RATS has devoured the Broca's area of my brain, thereby damaging my speech production capabilities."

= 1 big vote from me

[/slobbering]

Hey, Marcus, thanks for your support. I noticed you started up the exit poll thread and talked my Churjiir up there. I also noticed you've voted for me every round so far (even if the round one 'votes' were just for fun.) That really means a lot to me.

I don't wanna sound like a suck-up or nothing, but if it weren't for you and people like you, I wouldn't be in the contest right now. So thanks!

Ashton: I think with this round being mechanics-based, there shouldn't be an issue with you posting art (plus, any benefit there might be to me will be shared with the other three guys in the Rat Pack). If you do make art, be sure to go mention it to Matt Goodall, it's his critter after all, so I'm sure he'd get a kick out of seeing it.

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

Hah! Rat pack.

Anywho, this is the first of the churjiirs that I'm looking at, and I like what I'm seeing. The bipedalism and focus on mental powers does help sell this as an aberration. The stats look overall good, except for the Multiattack problem and the CMD that Jason mentioned--it's entirely possible that second one was a typo, but every edit counts!

I agree that it's a little odd that the curse is suppressed outside the aura of the churjiir's telepathy. I assume this means that the person who leaves no longer suffers the spell failure chance, but if they re-enter the telepathy range, they do. I like the forcible application of spell failure--not something I've seen monsters do before, but sensible within the rules. The nest of memories ability is pretty darn strong; with that, I'd say that this churjiir should probably be a CR 5 rather than 4, but CR application is as much an art as a science (even with Pathfinder's attempts to standardize it).

Unless something crazy happens, this incarnation of the churjiir has one of my votes. Good job!


I'm a new player, so I can't really judge whether or not the stats work. I will say that I love the names you've chosen for the special abilities. They're evocative, and IMO will make your churjiir stand out from the other entries. When I went back to re-read all of the entries, I found myself asking whether "this" churjiir was the one with the cool SA names... Unfortunately there are three other churjiirs to compare against. For me though, yours stood out because of the special ability names...

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

Demiurge 1138 wrote:

Hah! Rat pack.

Joshua Kitchens made the joke first, I'm just running with it! Thanks for the vote!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Ben, I love your work from the last two rounds, and although the Churjiir was not one of my favourite monsters from the last round, I think you’ve done a really solid job with it. It’s become quite cool and sinister in your hands. Servitor fleas indeed!

Nice work and good luck – hope to see you in the next round.

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

Mothman wrote:

Ben, I love your work from the last two rounds, and although the Churjiir was not one of my favourite monsters from the last round, I think you’ve done a really solid job with it. It’s become quite cool and sinister in your hands. Servitor fleas indeed!

Nice work and good luck – hope to see you in the next round.

Thanks, glad to hear you enjoyed it, along with my previous work!


Oy! Four people did the same creature, so unfortunately for you (and the other 3 contestants), all of you will be compared and contrasted more closely than the other submissions. Fair? Who knows, but it is what it is. That said, I immediately skipped other entries to read the four Churjiirs first.

Compared to the original concept:

Creature type: Aberration? Originally I saw this as a magical beast, but consider my opinion changed. Aberration works.

Creature size: correct. 2 yards in length.

Abilities:

…..The good:

1) you limited the claw attacks to 2, even though it has 6 legs. I’m OK with that, however, as it helps reduce the CR, and I for one was not clear on how many claw attacks the concept stated it should have.
2) The Aura mechanic for the fleas was my favorite “flea power” out of all the churjiirs.
3) Intelligence 16 falls within the realm of “calculating intellect”, as mentioned in the concept.
4) Stealth +16 = “adept at remaining unseen”
5) Burrow = “, it gnaws through wood and other barriers with ease. It can gouge a hole in a solid brick wall in minutes.

…..The bad:

1) Mental control: While this could work, it would have been simpler to just give him a spell-like ability. Also, I’m not fond of the “automatic” dominate animal you gave the churjiir. A standard action seems more appropriate, which goes back to my point of giving it a spell-like ability.
2) The concept stated that the churjiir could “ scavenge through a nearby creature’s mind” , which implies a ranged ability. You included a -4 to knowledge checks with the bite. Not only is this not a ranged power, but it’s not nearly as cool as the ability is described. How many times are you going to use a knowledge skill in the middle of combat? I much prefer the detect thoughts and modify memory spells that two of the other churjiirs used.
3) You completely left out the “putrescent saliva (that) causes painful necrosis of the wound.”
4) Your special ability names sound like the names of 4e powers. While neat sounding, they don’t match the feel of the bestiary named powers.

Compared to other creatures of the same CR:

For this section, I'll try and choose a variety of same CR creatures.

Senses: darkvision 60ft., scent, perception +10
…..Dire Boar (large animal): low light vision, scent, perception +12
…..Barghest (medium outsider): darkvision 60ft., scent, perception +11
….Owlbear (large magical beast): darkvision 60ft., low-light vision, scent, perception +12
…..Otyugh (large aberration): darkvision 60ft., scent, perception +9

Conparison: appropriate

Hit Points: 45
…..Dire Boar (large animal): 42
…..Barghest (medium outsider): 45
….Owlbear (large magical beast): 47
…..Otyugh (large aberration): 39

Conparison: within the normal range for this CR

AC: 17
…..Dire Boar (large animal): 15
…..Barghest (medium outsider): 17
….Owlbear (large magical beast): 15
…..Otyugh (large aberration): 17

Conparison: Within the normal range for this CR

Damage reduction/immunities: none
…..Dire Boar (large animal): none
…..Barghest (medium outsider): 5/magic
….Owlbear (large magical beast): none
…..Otyugh (large aberration): none

Conparison: appropriate

Speed: 40 ft., burrow 15 ft.
…..Dire Boar (large animal): 40 ft.
…..Barghest (medium outsider): 30 ft.
….Owlbear (large magical beast): 30 ft.
…..Otyugh (large aberration): 20 ft.

Conparison: better than the average creature

Attack Bonus: +7, +7, +5, +5
…..Dire Boar (large animal): +8
…..Barghest (medium outsider): +10, +10, +10
….Owlbear (large magical beast): +8, +8, +8
…..Otyugh (large aberration): +7, +3, +3

Conparison: a little on the high side, but within an appropriate range

Max possible Damage/Round: 29
…..Dire Boar (large animal): 21
…..Barghest (medium outsider): 26
….Owlbear (large magical beast): 30
…..Otyugh (large aberration): 36 (with constrict)

Conparison: Within the normal range for this CR

Spell like abilities: none, but there should be (see above)
…..Dire Boar (large animal): none
…..Barghest (medium outsider): six at CL 6.
….Owlbear (large magical beast): none
…..Otyugh (large aberration): none

Conparison: Within the normal range for this CR

Special Abilities/attacks: nest of memories, gnaw the mind, king among rats, servitor fleas
…..Dire Boar (large animal): ferocity
…..Barghest (medium outsider): feed
….Owlbear (large magical beast): none
…..Otyugh (large aberration): disease, constrict

Conparison:many more abilities than most creatures at this CR

Conclusion: 6 or 7 of the categories are within the normal range for this CR, and 2 or 3 categories are higher than the normal range for this CR. My gut is telling me that this is a CR5, but I’m not 100% sure it isn’t a CR4 as you suggested. Actual play-testing would help determine which side of the line this falls on, but it’s close enough that I won’t count it against you.

The Vote: I still have plenty to read, but this submission MAY get my vote. I still have some reservations about your changes from the concept, but I really like your aura of fleas idea. Much more elegant than the other churjiir fleas.

Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Benjamin Bruck wrote:


Hey, Marcus, thanks for your support. I noticed you started up the exit poll thread and talked my Churjiir up there. I also noticed you've voted for me every round so far (even if the round one 'votes' were just for fun.)

Not just 'voted for'- but 'voted for gladly and willingly.'

I think I said this in a recent post somewhere, but in the 3 years this contest has run, I look for a contestant who I'm enthusiastic about in every single round. (Sure, it's a tall order- but hey- this is the RPG *Superstar* contest).

You and Mr. McGee have been doing that for me this year, amply.

So hey- thank you! *I'm* the one getting quality fluff-'n'-crunch here, gratis... beats TV any day...

The Exchange

Paizo Superscriber

Sweet Ben!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Benjamin Bruck wrote:

Ashton: I think with this round being mechanics-based, there shouldn't be an issue with you posting art (plus, any benefit there might be to me will be shared with the other three guys in the Rat Pack). If you do make art, be sure to go mention it to Matt Goodall, it's his critter after all, so I'm sure he'd get a kick out of seeing it.

I would definitely like to see pics of a churjiir.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Alright, gang, I'm gonna start up on churjiir art; I'll post it up on dA as I work on it. If the Paizo folks ask me to pull it 'til after Round 3's done, I shall do so.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka A Man In Black

How does a creature with multiple heads fix its cunning gaze on me?

Anyway. This is an absolutely outstanding low-level BBEG. It's balanced to fight an entire level 1-3 party on its own, it has a motivation, and it has built-in minions. The defenses and damage are right in the CR 4 sweet spot.

My only qualm is that the DCs feel a little high. In its nest, this creature forces both DC 15 fort and will saves or you lose about half your actions. That's a little brutal for a creature that also forces casters to lose a quarter of their actions on a hit and does respectable melee damage.

I intend to vote for this. If I saw this as a preview for a monster book, I would be seriously considering a purchase.

Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Dude, you knocked it outta the park 3 rounds in a row. Thusfar, you're the strongest contender for the 2010 title IMO. keep up the good work.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka flash_cxxi

Awesome work again Benchak. This Monster wasn't one of my favourites last round, but you've definately won me over with your Stat Block.

Some minor errors and a few wonky choices aside this is actually a really good monster that can be quite a challenge for a 4th level party.

I haven't finished reading all of the entries yet, but with 6 Votes this round I can easily see this making it's way into my picks.
Good Luck! :)

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Standback

I think it's kind of fun that one monster has so many variations; it may not be great for the contestants, but I think it's wonderful for the contest. Seeing different versions of the monster, different ways people can build it up, really brings home what this contest is all about - how it can be done better, or worse, or wonderfully-but-different.

Benjamin, I really like the spin you've taken on the Churjiir. Truly, a rat of the mind. That's a great image, works wonderfully with the original concept, and I think you've really brought it to life. Well done!

Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Wow, those are some ability names. A word on naming monster abilities: keep it simple. You don't need to sell GM on which abilities to use, they;re going to use them all. One or two words is fine. Once you're ability names start sounding like the titles of horror novels, you're getting into trouble. These are meant to be markers for quick reference and don't need to show how clever the designer is (unless he can be clever in a word or two).

I know this is Paizo's contest for working in Paizo's environment, but I really liked your choice of names for the powers-- it could be the Ars Magica background, but I think these feel more mythic and lend themselves to a better description in their use. When he bites a caster, I know exactly how to add a bit of flavor to the attack with your name. If it had been called "memory loss," well, then the flavor might have been lost, depending on the point at which things happened.

Sure, one or two words might be great when you're creating a lot of monsters and statblocks for a lot of adventures, but this is a matter of artistry over utility. It's probably why I like steampunk, too. Sure, you don't have to give the monster the brass trim, but you did, and I like it better for it.

-Ben.

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

Jared Goodwin wrote:

How does a creature with multiple heads fix its cunning gaze on me?

Anyway. This is an absolutely outstanding low-level BBEG. It's balanced to fight an entire level 1-3 party on its own, it has a motivation, and it has built-in minions. The defenses and damage are right in the CR 4 sweet spot.

My only qualm is that the DCs feel a little high. In its nest, this creature forces both DC 15 fort and will saves or you lose about half your actions. That's a little brutal for a creature that also forces casters to lose a quarter of their actions on a hit and does respectable melee damage.

I intend to vote for this. If I saw this as a preview for a monster book, I would be seriously considering a purchase.

I'd agree with all of the above - great job, Benjamin. I liked the churjir okay but didn't love it, but this guy is very nicely put together, no major issues, and seems like it would be a lot of fun to use without being mechanically obnoxious.

I've only read like 5 or 6 so far, but this is the first one I'd put on my vote list without reservation.

P.S. I like the ability names, even if they are a bit on the ornamental side.

Star Voter 2013

Boss monster for sewer crawl with don't touch me abilities focused on meleers and casters. Very solid, with the only question being whether telepathy requires line of sight. If it works around corners, its environment makes it that much tougher to get out of range of its curse.

This might get a vote from me.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Funny thing about a creature done multiple times. I automatically compare them and chose one. So on the one hand you're taking a risk with a popular creature (because if I like the other one better I'm not going to vote for you). On the other hand, If you're better than the rest, I'm certainly going to vote for you.

In this case, your entry comes out on top. Congratulations and a great job!

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

I'll be considering you for one of my last three votes.

From a technical standpoint, this stat block is fairly accurate, and I love what you did with the fleas. That's exactly how I wanted to see the servitor fleas done. I also don't mind the colorful ability names. They're flavorful, but I don't think they go entirely over the top.

However, I have to wonder if this isn't a bit overpowered. Both of the abilities that allow saves use the suggested value for a primary ability DC, with neither using the suggested value secondary ability DC. King among rats seems a bit extreme. And the nest of memories, while inspired, may be a bit too much when added on top of everything else this monster has going on.

Also, gnaw the mind could have been stated in much fewer words without dragging the curse mechanics into the equation. As far as I can tell, the ability just says, "Save or take X set of penalties whenever you are within the range of the churjiir's telepathy." That sort of effect doesn't require you to invoke the curse mechanics. It could just stand on its own.

That being said, the concerns I have about your stat block don't result from you stepping on any big landmines, and might be outweighed by the strength of your previous entries. I haven't yet decided.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka JoelF847

I'm way behind on reading this round, so I'm going to be brief. I liked this monster quite a bit. I lied the R2 entry for it, even though I felt like the mental powers seemed a bit tacked on there. Your write up of it did a great job of integrating the powers, and giving a background that linked them in, so they didn't feel extraneous. I also liked the power names, I think interesting and descriptive power names can go a long way to suggesting the theme and personality of a monster beyond what you can fit in the background and descriptive text.

Mechaniclaly, the fact that you're using the 3.5 rules for natural attacks and multiattack is a problem, and it also looks like the save DCs for the special abilities is too low. They should be 10+ 1/2 HD+ ability modifier. With 6HD, and and Int and Con bonus of +3, these should all be DC 16, but you have 15. Was this write up at once time 5 HD, and when you updated to 6 you forgot to update the save DCs? If this is corrected, then that might make this more of a CR5 monster - especially with a likely horde of rats and rat monsters serving it. It sounds unlikely that you'd actually fight a Churjiir solo.

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

I like your decision to make the memory modification into a curse that affects Knowledge checks and spellcasting, and the servitor fleas ability is well-designed in my opinion.

Best of luck in this round!

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 aka tejón

Ben, you're on my short list for the grand prize. There are a few technical questions here, which others have touched on; and I think you could have done with a couple more edit passes on the writing, just to tighten it up. But that's stuff you can learn with a little practice. Across the board, you've displayed an undeniable spark of awesome, and your treatment of the churjiir is no exception. In particular, you took powers which seemed random and unnecessary in the original and drew them together with bonds of pure ratness.

I might have pushed through this round on technical execution, but I kind of missed the boat on maintaining and conveying flavor. Your churjiir has some weak points technically, but still gets a passing grade... meanwhile, it raises the bar in every other way!


The trouble with four contestants choosing to stat out the same creature is that I find myself wanting to mix and match them, take the qualities I like best from each and make a new creature out of that. Here, it's the aura of fleas I like the most. However, it does bring up the same question I had about one of the other entries, so with a little help from cut and paste...

The area affect spells supressing the fleas is just too vague; I can understand a sleep, dispel magic, fireball or other damage spell, but any area affect spell? Even alarm?

Basically, I don't think a blanket "any area affect spell" works; it would be better, to me, if you said any damage-causing area affect spell. As for the ability names, I like interesint names myself, but kind of have to agree with Sean that sometimes simple names work best. Still, they DID get my attention, so if that's the point, it works.

Not sure if this guy has my wote, though; while I do like some of what you've done, I'm not 100% behind this guy yet. I DO like this as an aberration, though; the original concept sounded too strong and too varied to be just a magical beast to me.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 aka tejón

I voted for this.


Hmmm.

The Bluff is 3 points too high. Unlike Intimidate (which is a class skill for aberrations) Bluff is not.

This version of the Churjiir seems about comparable to a Dire Wolverine (CR 4) until you start adding the special abilities on, including the Nest of Memories with that confusion element. I’m not sure how that measures up to the Dire Wolverine’s Rage, and if it should perhaps nudge it over into CR one higher.

I'm not quite clear how the Gnaw the Mind functions. The description says it's suppressed beyond the range of the Churjiir's telepathy. Does this mean that a victim somehow gets their memories back by walking out of range, but automatically loses them again if they walk back into it? If so how does this Churjiir have the Nest of Stolen Memories ability to activate unless it keeps most of its victims close at hand? I suspect you mean that only the 25% spell failure is suppressed 'out of range', and that the Knowledge checks penalty is permanent (or at least endures until the Churjiir is killed).
I'm not sure what to make of the concept that apparently memories can be sent back where they belong just by killing the Churjiir. Can they be intercepted instead? What about the memories from victims who have since died? Or does the Gnaw the Mind ability not actually steal memories but emplace some sort of psychic link/bond that might be removable by the likes of break enchantment or dispel evil (and which is only active within range of the telepathy) although this again comes back to a problem of if there are too few victims close up, how does the Nest of Stolen Memories activate?

You write in your description that the Churjiir uses its telepathy to scavenge the thoughts of others. That is quite outside the bounds of what the telepathy ability does, mechanically speaking, and does not seem to correspond with what your stat block does, either, unless it ties up with the Gnaw the Mind ability.
You add a sentence at the end about ‘rumors’, when speculations seldom appear in the bestiary. I think that this was a mistake, and that you should have come out and stated such things exist or used the words on something else instead such as detailing some combat tactics for the creature.

My principle concern of the Round 2 version of this creature was something to the effect of 'why aren't these things running the world?' You do address that, painting a picture of a creature whose ambitions are very limited.

My overall impression is of a creature whose ambitions extend to thinking happy stolen thoughts all day, to escape the wretchedness of its own squalor and surroundings. (In a sense if stolen memories can be considered drugs, this is an addict.) There are some slight problems with the stat block and awkward turns of phrase in abilities and description. However I would like to add that kudos to you for differentiating between primary and secondary attacks, and taking the time to think about things such as the Multiattack feat.

Thank-you for submitting this creature.


Good Stuff

The stats are right about where they need to be for CR 4. Hit points are slightly high, AC is spot on, saves are slightly high, attacks are slightly low, damage is slightly high, DCs are spot on.

Implementing the servitor fleas as an aura was a good idea.

I like the way you implemented Gnaw the Mind. Using spell failure chance to "unnaturally diminish a victim’s spellcasting ability" was a great way to represent that ability mechanically. I also like that the curse goes away if a victim leaves the churjiir's telepathy range, but comes back if they reenter it, and the only way to get rid of it for good is the death of the churjiir that cursed you.

Bad Stuff

The claw attacks and damage are wrong because primary/secondary attacks work differently in Pathfinder. Consequently, this also means this creature doesn't need the Multiattack feat.

Standing on four legs, the churjiir should have a +4 to CMD vs. trip.

Bluff is not a class skill for aberrations, so the churjiir's Bluff modifier should be +4 rather than +7.

Since the churjiir likes to surround itself with rodent servants, there should be more to the Organization line than just "solitary".

Nest of Memories is just wonky, and nothing in the original description of the churjiir suggested this ability.

The description you give implies that the churjiir can steal and alter memories with its telepathy, but nothing in the stat block mechanically supports this.

Overall: Not bad but not quite good enough for a vote.


Congratulations on making it through to Round 4.

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