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Dennis Baker's Churjiir


Round 3 - Top 16: Create a Monster Stat Block

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

Churjiir CR 6
XP 2,400
CE Medium outsider (chaotic, demon, evil, extraplanar)
Init +9; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +11
=====
Defense
=====
AC 20, touch 16, flat-footed 14 (+5 Dex, +1 dodge, +4 natural)
hp 68 (8d10+24);
Fort +5, Ref +11, Will +6
DR 10/cold iron or good; Immune electricity, poison; Resist acid 10, cold 10, fire 10; SR 17
=====
Offense
=====
Speed 40 ft., burrow 10 ft.
Melee 2 bites +10 (1d6+2 plus disease and spell dissonance), 2 claws +10 (1d4+2)
Special Attacks Flea Horde
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 8th; concentration +12)

At will--darkness, detect thoughts (DC 16)
2/day--modify memory (DC 18)
1/day--charm monster (rat-like creatures and were-rats only) (DC 18)

=====
Statistics
=====
Str 14, Dex 21, Con 17, Int 14 , Wis 11, Cha 18
Base Atk +8; CMB +10; CMD 26 (30 vs. trip)
Feats Dodge, Improved Initiative, Nimble Moves, Skill Focus (Diplomacy)
Skills Acrobatics +16, Climb +16, Diplomacy +18 (+22 vs. rat-like creatures), Knowledge (Local) +13, Knowledge (Planes) +13, Perception +11, Stealth +20, Swim +13; Racial Modifiers +4 Stealth, uses Dex to modify Climb and Swim
Languages Abyssal, Celestial, Common, Draconic, Undercommon; telepathy 100 ft.
=====
Ecology
=====
Environment urban
Organization solitary
Treasure standard
=====
Special Abilities
=====
Flea Horde (Su) A carpet of obedient fleas covers the churjiir. As a swift action the churjiir directs the fleas to attack a single creature within 20 ft. The target must make a DC 18 Fortitude save or be nauseated for 1 round. Area effect spells that bypass the churgiir's spell resistance suppress this ability for 10 minutes. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Spell Dissonance (Ex) The churjiir excretes a corrupting toxin in its bite which interferes with the flow of magic. Creatures bit by the churjiir must make a DC 17 Fortitude save or be unable to cast spells or use spell-like abilities for 1d6 rounds. Each round at the end of their turn a creature affected by this ability may attempt a new saving throw to end the effect. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Disease (Ex) Filth fever: Bite—injury; save Fort DC 17; onset 1d3 days; frequency 1/day; effect 1d3 Dex damage and 1d3 Con damage; cure 2 consecutive saves. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Rodent Empathy (Ex) Churjiir can communicate and empathize with all rodents and rat-like creatures. They can use Diplomacy to alter such a creature's attitude, and when so doing gain a +4 racial bonus on the check.

The Churjiir is a two-headed, hairless, rat-like demon; it reeks of musty urine, and a haze of servitor fleas seethes over its six legged form. Lumps and lesions mottle the creature's muddy gray hide, and a long filthy tail twitches behind. Each head is topped with 2 malformed ears and cavernous, crimson eyes dominate the churjiir's faces. Below its feral eyes, yellowed fangs jut down from its snout and needle-like teeth fill both jaws.

These repugnant demons derive perverse pleasure from rooting through a creature's thoughts and tainting memories. A churjiir crouches in hiding, patiently sniffing surface thoughts looking for hooks to hang foul confabulations of a person's loved ones or childhood. Creatures repeatedly exposed to the churjiir's attentions have huge portions of their past rewritten as a twisted travesty.

In combat a churjiir orders its minions to engage more heavily armed opponents and focus their own special abilities on spellcasters. Though vicious and effective fighters the cowardly churjiir rarely fight to the death if they can avoid it. To preserve themselves churjiir sacrifice allies or betray their masters and always have an escape plan.

Generally sent to the Material Plane as spies or proxies for more powerful demon lords, churjiir are most comfortable in the sewers of large cities. When establishing a new territory they quickly craft a twisted labyrinth of tunnels for a lair. From the relative safety of this lair they quietly build a network of rodents and were-rats to serve their whims and gather information. The rat demons care little for the sinister plans of their superiors but enjoy their autonomy on the Material Plane.

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

Wow, this was THE popular monster this year. I didn't expect to see this done up as a demon, though - interesting. There's some other unexpected choices in here too, like Skill Focus (Diplomacy) on a demon, especially this demon, and an environment not on the Abyss.

The flea hoard is also an unusual but interesting take on what might usually get designed as a ranged attack or "save or be nauseated" effect. Either way, the flavor really makes this something more interesting than a typical, cookie cutter ability. I also like that spell effect angle, where the fleas can essentially be burned away. Nice.

On the other end of the spectrum, the spell dissonance ability is rough and pretty much just a bad idea. "Save or lose your magic" is a crippling effect for many creatures, but especially for sorcerers and wizards who have poor will saves. The consideration here isn't so much as question of is the effect viable - sure, you can create an effect that does this without busting the game - but is it fun? And the answer there is a pretty blatant no. If your party's wizard gets hit with this, then he's shut down for the duration. Yeah, there's some nice back doors to limit it - random duration and a save every round - but any round this effects a character he's going to feel robbed. Even similar effects like silence at least have ways out. So yeah, in general, try to avoid abilities that stop a fighter from being a fighter, a wizard from being a wizard, etc, etc. And if you are going to do this, keep it to higher levels and make sure there are player controlled ways out.

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
OK, yet another rat boss. I’ve said it before, this was a risky design choice as you had to think someone else would likely also do this guy. Let’s see how yours goes.

I really think CR 6 is a mistake. I don’t like that right off the bat. More on that below. YOU made him an outsider. Hmm. More on that below, too. That said, I think you have done the powers of this monster the best of all the entries so far. But I’m not sure this is even our beloved Churjiir anymore. Let’s take a peek…

The Execution
I have to admit, my gut says CR 3 is probably where it sits best. See my other Churjiir discussion. I think CR 6 is too high. It’s no longer the cool low level boss anymore.

I said in both the other Churjiir threads that this isn’t about the stat block, presuming everyone would do it like I would—as a small magical beast. And then I get an aberration and now I get from you an outsider. I was OK with the aberration, but outsider? I didn’t get that from the original monster pitch. Now, you are permitted to tweak the original pitch and change it if you want. I see this as a pretty substantial change.

When I read the powers of the outsider type, I just don’t think this works as one.

But that just gets us to what is really going on here: You’ve changed the concept of this creature. I think you have really changed this creature from a low level rat boss into a rat demon. Now, that’s cool, but that isn’t the creature the voters voted into this round. If you change it, you change it at your peril. It’s going to be up to the voters to decide if they like what you have done or if they want their original Churjiir back. As the rules say: “You may make revisions or clarifications to the monster you choose. Be aware that significant changes to the theme or presentation of the monster (for example, changing a murderous, undead monster to a trickster fey monster) may disappoint voters who liked the monster in its original form.” I think you are going to test this provision. I don’t think this is the same concept anymore. It has the same powers, but it’s a different creature concept.

All right, so you’ve changed it. What do you do with the special abilities. Because it seems the execution of the special abilities is the real trick of the Churjiir.

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 like your flea horde. It’s simple, but it does what I want it to do without running into the problems of some of the other incarnations of the power we have seen. Again, you use detect thoughts and modify memory, which I think are good ways to implement the powers detailed in the pitch. I thought the filth fever was a throw away tack on. Where is the necrotic bite? I don’t think filth fever is good enough. I like the rodent empathy Diplomacy aspect. It’s not enough on its own, but you fix that with charm monster.

With all these changes, I agree that this monster should be CR 5. And here we’ve come full circle on this thing.

Final Thoughts
Dennis, I liked the spark in your item. Though I wasn’t a fan of the brown urus, the community was and I sure won’t hold that against you. I’m not sure what to make of this monster. You’ve reconcepted the Churjiir from the fun, surprising low level boss out of its fun zone and into a demon rat. Somehow that moves it from interesting to “just another demon” for me. That said, I thought you did a good job with your Churjiir with the powers and the execution of the powers. In the end, that is what we are testing in this round so I have to admit you did a good job with that. Where that leaves us is up to the voters.

I’m not ready to recommend this just yet, despite its strengths because I think there are 8 others that are better this round. I DO NOT RECOMMEND this for Top 8, sadly.

Paizo Employee Lead Designer

A two headed rat demon.... Seems to be a popular monster this year.

Mechanically, the execution here is really pretty good. I am not finding any problems that raise huge red flags. The monster is just about on target for a CR 6 creature and the abilities are a good extrapolation of the theme.

I am with Wes though on one bit. The save or lose your magic is way too rough. It basically is a save or do nothing for 1d6 rounds for most classes based on spellcasting. I suppose this is less of an issue at lower levels than at high, but it is still quite powerful. I think I would have preferred to see a penalty on concentration checks or perhaps even forced concentration checks while the effect lasts. That would have been far less powerful.

That said, that particular issue is a relatively easy fix, making this monster a pretty good entry.

I give this monster a A-.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

Contributor

There's an extra semicolon at the end of the hp line.

This thing speaks a lot of languages for having Int 14 and no Linguistics skill, especially as it's a demon and naturally has telepathy.

For a creature built to have minions, I'd expect its Organization line to include "and X rat swarms" or something like that.

Spell Dissonance: I want to say this ability is harsh, but given that the creature has SR, too, spellcasters are already having a difficult time with this creature, so shutting down all their casting is almost redundant.

Overall, I think making this a low-level demon is an interesting choice and makes it stand out a bit from the "underground monster with a petty little empire" sort of feel that the R2 writeup had. This is a satisfactory writeup of the monster concept.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This was a popular monster for this round, wasn’t it?

Not sure that this is my favourite version of it, but the mechanics seem pretty solid, some interesting abilities … and a very brave choice in making it a demon. I wouldn’t have thought of it, but it sort of works I think. I can see it. I’m not sure if it will pay off as opposed to a ‘safer’ choice such as an aberration or magical beast, but at least you think outside the box!

Good luck.

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

This is the second churjiir I've read (out of four), and I was sort of expecting them all to turn out the same. This one's a demon, though, which I definitely did not expect. Bold choice. I don't know if it'll translate to votes, but I respect it.

As far as its actual abilities go, first off, THANK YOU! You've created a CR 6 monster that actually has the hp, AC and saves to pull off the CR. There have been so many glass cannons and woefully-under-CRed monsters that I am immediately relieved upon seeing your monster. The flea swarm directing is kind of neat, the spell-like abilities are appropriate and it generally seems pretty solidly built. I'm not a huge fan of your spell dissonance ability--I agree with the judges that it's rather mean to save-or-suck that much. Of course, hold person also shuts someone down for a few rounds until they make their save, but it seems less targeted at casters specifically.

So you have my consideration. The fact that you can actually make a monster the CR it's supposed to be is a breath of fresh air, frankly, but there is another churjiir written up I like better. This monster might get my vote.


I think I will be voting for TWO "Rat Kings", which is ironic given I wasn't super-thrilled at the original description in Phase 2, but I think both Dennis' and Benjamin's take on them succeed at making a great CR-appropriate monster, and indeed, sub-BBEG material.

Dennis' Demonic take really "worked" for me: The original Churjiir's description just made me think "Great, a Big Super Rat dominates other rats and has fleas, so what?", while a Demon in Vermin-Rat form really starts to make it come together WHY this is an opponent PCs would take seriously, and even care about - especially the "Ecology" information connecting with the plans of other, more powerful Demons. That a "flavor" of Demon would be perfectly manifested in a Rat-like form, and have abilities feeding off actual Rats and live amongst their environs makes perfect sense to me.

Some of the judges seem to be implicitly criticizing him for this change, but it's a change that makes the concept come together more, which is a good thing in my eyes (and one that is not at all discouraged by the rules, except the warning that 'some voters may not like your new flavor' which is obvious and equally applies to voters who didn't like the original idea)

My only criticisms of Dennis' version are similar to some of the judges': that the 'Spell Dissonance' ability should probably be less 'Save or Suck' and more like forcing Concentration or Caster Level Checks. Also, not giving any explanation how or why they have/use their Memory Modification SLA seems like a lost opportunity (and one Benjamin's version played perfectly).

That said, over-all it "works" very well and the strengths definitely outweigh the few weaknesses enough for me to solidly give this my vote to proceed with the Top 8 entries to the next stage. Good job!

Grand Lodge

This is an interesting addition to the plethora of demons out there.

If your party relies heavily on magic then this monster could be an awful challenge. With abilities like Smite and feats like Alignment Channeling, this creature could go down quickly.

I look forward to the results of the voting.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

@All the judges, Thank you again for taking the time to make this awesome freak show a reality.

@Quandary I didn't thank you enough in the last round for your support so I'll start early this round. Thanks!! and double thanks for your support in the last round :D

@Cody I see you are bucking for that second free re-roll (Cody is in my group). *sigh*

@Demiurge 1138 & Mothman Thanks for your comments, I appreciate your consideration

*awesome*

Osirion

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

After rather disliking the Churjiir in Round two, I had to see what all the fuss was about, so I've read this first.

I have to say I'm pretty impressed with the way Dennis turned it out, and I don't think changing it to a demon was a bold choice, I think it was a necessary one. I can't think of any creature that isn't a demon that has so many extraneous (but related) powers as the Churjiir write-up had. That with the magic powers and "rat seduction" just screams demon to me.

I am slightly iffy on this being as low as CR 6 though, and I think the 8-HD choice may have been a bit much. Most demons (and other outsiders) have equal HD to CR (or even less HD). I think 6 or 7-HD would have done the job, and knocked the DC's down a touch.

Good job on a nasty critter!

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

Thanks Majuba!

You bringing goblin brains to Paizocon again? :)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka Sir_Wulf

When I was looking at this one's description, I also saw it as some sort of outsider, largely due to the varied abilities it displayed.

Qadira

Paizo Superscriber

Good job Mr. Baker!

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

@James & Ted -> Spectacular guys, glad my churjiir speaks to you... while you were chatting did he say "Vote team Ogre"?


Ok; my thoughts as a player and a GM: I like the heck out of this creature. I especially like the Spell Dissonance; about time someone did that. Spell Casters as sacred cows needs to stop and this is a fair way to do it. As a spellcaster if you can't make this saving throw then don't play a spellcaster.

I have to admit that I was creeped out by the carpet of fleas and that was almost a turn off. However I like this a lot and would use the heck out of it in the roll of Mastermind. I do love setting the players up for some big bad nasty creature only to see the shock on their faces when they discover that...'They're not always cute when they're small.'

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Dennis,

I think you handled a lot of difficult design features well. The designation as demon, the flea horde not being a swarm, the Skill Focus (Diplomacy).

The nice thing about the four Churjiirs is our ability to compare them to one another and see how they express the original concept in game terms. You've turned a weird idea into a solid, playable critter. Super job!

Osirion RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka flash_cxxi

Dennis, I find it interesting that you made this into a Demon. Not bad interesting, but although I'm not sold on the idea, I'm not opposed to it either and it's made yours stand out.

With 6 Votes this round it's quite possible that this could make it into my Top 6, although I haven't finfished reading a lot of the other entries yet.
Good Luck! :)


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: Outsider? Originally I saw this as a magical beast, but it could work as a demon. Perhaps the best argument for being a demon is that it’s an evil creature designed to corrupt (scavenge and change thoughts), and it is eternally tormented by irritating, biting fleas. Evil, corrupting influence, and eternally suffering? OK, I’ll buy the fact that this could be a demon.

Creature size: correct. 2 yards in length.

Abilities:

…..The good:

1) You limited the claw attacks to 2, even though it had 6 limbs. That works at this CR level. Also, I for one was confused about how many claw attacks the churjiir got in the original concept.
2) The flea horde works. Perhaps not as elegant as the aura from one of the other churjiir, but it does its job.
3) Telepathy works for mentally communicating with rats.
4) Like one of the other churjiir, this one uses detect thoughts and modify memory to replicate its ability to scavenge thoughts. It’s simple and it works. No reason to re-invent the wheel.
5) Adept at remaining unseen = stealth +20
6) Gnaws through barriers = burrow

…..The bad:

1) What happened to it’s “cruel and calculating intellect”? Intelligence is the second lowest score, after Wisdom.
2) Charm monster, once per day, doesn’t match the original concept of mentally controlling rats.
3) Giving this filth fever was a very bland way of simulating it’s “putrescent saliva” ability, and I’m not convinced it qualifies as “necrosis of the wound.” If the original concept had intended disease, why not just say it has a disease infested mouth? Komodo Dragons have diseased mouths. Your churjiir is a demon. A basic disease is a let-down. I was hoping for something else. Something unique to this creature. At least one other person agrees with you on this. James Martin’s churjiir also used filth fever.

.....the so-so:

1) Spell Dissonance does its job, and isn’t broken (in my opinion). It doesn’t require long-term paperwork, and doesn’t have long-term penalties for spellcasters. Of the four churjiir, this is my favorite version of the original concept’s anti-spellcaster bite. However, 3 of the experts in the field disagree with me. I'll have to defer to their judgement. There is one problem with this power. More on that later.

Compared to other creatures of the same CR:

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

Senses: you gave it darkvision 60, perception +11
…..Demon, Babu (medium outsider):darkvision 60, see invisibility, perception +19
…..Girallon (large magical beast): darkvision 60, low-light vision, scent, perception +11
…..Ankylosaurus (huge animal): low-light vision, scent, perception +14
….Salamander (medium outsider): darkvision 60, perception +16
Conparison: under the power curve for this CR

Hit Points: you gave it 68
…..Demon, Babu (medium outsider): 73
…..Girallon (large magical beast): 73
…..Ankylosaurus (huge animal): 75
….Salamander (medium outsider): 76

Conparison: under the power curve for this CR

AC: you gave it 20
…..Demon, Babu (medium outsider): 19
…..Girallon (large magical beast): 18
…..Ankylosaurus (huge animal): 22
….Salamander (medium outsider): 18

Conparison: acceptable.

Damage reduction/immunities: you gave it DR 10/cold iron or good, immune- electricity and poison, resist- acid 10, cold 10, fire 10, and SR 17
…..Demon, Babu (medium outsider): DR 10/cold iron or good, immune-electricity and poison, resist- acid 10, cold 10, fire 10, and SR 17
…..Girallon (large magical beast): none
…..Ankylosaurus (huge animal): none
….Salamander (medium outsider): DR 10/magic, immune- fire (vulnerable-cold)

Conparison: high, but completely identical to the Babu.

Speed: you gave it 40 ft., burrow 10 ft.
…..Demon, Babu (medium outsider): 30 ft.
…..Girallon (large magical beast): 40 ft., climb 40 ft.
…..Ankylosaurus (huge animal): 30 ft.
….Salamander (medium outsider): 20 ft.

Conparison: on the high side of the curve, but acceptable.

Attack Bonus: you gave it +10, +10, +10, +10
…..Demon, Babu (medium outsider): +12, +12, +12
…..Girallon (large magical beast): +10, +10, +10, +10, +10
…..Ankylosaurus (huge animal): +14
….Salamander (medium outsider): +11, +6, +6

Conparison: the attack progression has a lot of variation at this CR. You are within the norm.

Max possible Damage/Round: you gave it 28
…..Demon, Babu (medium outsider): 32 at the above attack value, 38 at a lower attack value
…..Girallon (large magical beast): 52 (with rend)
…..Ankylosaurus (huge animal): 30
….Salamander (medium outsider): 71 (with grab and constrict)

Conparison: a little low, perhaps.

Spell like abilities: you gave it four at CL 8
…..Demon, Babu (medium outsider): five at CL 7 (one of which is included in senses)
…..Girallon (large magical beast): none
…..Ankylosaurus (huge animal): none
….Salamander (medium outsider): none

Conparison:on the high side of average for this CR

Special Abilities/attacks: you gave it flea horde, spell dissonance, disease, and rodent empathy
…..Demon, Babu (medium outsider): protective slime
…..Girallon (large magical beast): rend
…..Ankylosaurus (huge animal): stun
….Salamander (medium outsider): constrict (included in damage), heat (included in damage)

Conparison: higher than the average for this CR

Conclusion: you have 6 categories that are “on target” for this CR, 2 that are low, and one that is high. My gut tells me that this is close to a CR 6, but perhaps a little weak compared to other CR 6 creatures. In my opinion, Only a slight “tweak” upward is needed. Especially considering that the disease ability and the rodent empathy have little combat value while the PC's encounter the churjiir.

The Vote: Well, it's not my favorite churjiir, but you did some things well. I particularly liked the short-term effect of the spell dissonance, better than the long-term effects other churjiir proposed. However, I don't like it in combination with spell ressistance. Give the churjiir one or the other. Both is too much. I've still got more to read, but this one MAY get my vote.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

@Catra, Chris, Craig: I'm glad you liked it. I would appreciate it if you followed up with a vote!

@Jason: It's awesome that you are putting in this much effort into analysis of the entries. I can talk about your bullet points after the fact.

Jason:
One minor nit, you mispelled comparison 6 times per review and on every single review. Don't let that nit distract or discourage you though, as I said above, I appreciate the effort you put into this!

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

Another churjir! Yeah, and I have two more to read after this. :)

Demon isn't what I thought of when I read the monster at first, but I think it works just fine as a demon, playing up that horror angle. I do think the rat empathy/control angle could've been played up more (perhaps even just giving it summon swarm (rats) as an SLA if you didn't want to worry about dealing with the paperwork of an empathy/charm power).

I'll disagree with the judgery about the spell dissonance power. In part that's because it has a random duration, a modest save DC, and you get a new save every round, but here's the real reason:

It's a melee attack.

That means that it's never going to come into play against most spellcasters that are relying on their spellcasting (and therefore staying out of melee). Casters who do a buff or two and then move up to melee it probably aren't going to be too discomfited by having their casting zapped. The primary spellcasters aren't going to get close enough to get bitten very often. Even if they are... hey, life is dangerous.

Think about it this way: A grappling creature is almost effective at stopping a spellcaster (with their usually weak CMD and relatively few verbal-only spells) as a blanket "no casting" effect. Which do you think is easier for a spellcaster to escape?

a. A modest saving throw that happens every round and takes no actions?

b. An Escape Artist check (uh huh), CMB check (fat chance vs. the CMD of any creature bothering to use grapple as a tactic), or successfully casting a verbal-only spell (if they have one) while grappled (vs. a harder Concentration check than this save DC) that actually frees them from the grappler (not a guarantee, even if the target fails its save).

Yes, the bite has advantages over grappling (FoM doesn't make you immune, and the churjir can bite you and move on without having to maintain the grapple), but on balance I don't think the churjir's spell dissonance bite is unreasonable at all, compared to a bog-standard combat tactic that a quarter of the monsters in the Bestiary use on a regular basis.

Still have more monsters to read, but I may be voting for (at least) two churjirs this round. Best of luck!

Star Voter 2013

0gre wrote:
In combat a churjiir orders its minions to engage more heavily armed opponents and focus their own special abilities on spellcasters. Though vicious and effective fighters the cowardly churjiir rarely fight to the death if they can avoid it. To preserve themselves churjiir sacrifice allies or betray their masters and always have an escape plan.

Anal-retentive writing tip: you should put a comma after subordinate clauses. In this paragraph, it would read like so:

In combat, a churjiir orders its minions to engage more heavily armed opponents and focus their own special abilities on spellcasters. Though vicious and effective fighters, the cowardly churjiir rarely fight to the death if they can avoid it. To preserve themselves, churjiir sacrifice allies or betray their masters and always have an escape plan.

Even better would be to reduce the word count and sentence structure repetition by getting rid of the "To preserve themselves" clause, as it duplicates what's implied by the sacrificing of allies and escape plans.

More substantive stuff: I like the demon switcheroo. The stat block is tight. I STRONGLY dislike the Spell Dissonance ability which no other monster in the game gets, to my knowledge. What's the next step? Get hit and lose your BAB for 1d6 rounds?

On the other hand, you have to look at this monster and how it will be used, as with the hive and pack monsters. It will have buddies accompanying it, which will give the spell casters something to do if they can't get through its SR. To me, that mitigates some of the damage caused by the Spell Dissonance ability, especially since just one AoE spell getting through nerfs its fleas.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

roguerogue, Jason -> Thanks for the kind comments and I do appreciate the writing tips roguerogue.

Everyone ACK... in light of the recent events I'm probably going to keep quiet until the voting ends... thanks in advance and feel free to ask questions. I'll reply when the round ends.

Oops, almost forgot. VOTE FOR DENNIS!


I just wanted to revisit this one, to remark that Jason's commentary about Spell Dissonance changed my opinion of it completely. I think Spell Dissonance works GREAT as-is, because you get another Save EVERY ROUND, so as he says, it's not much different than being Grappled or some-such. And the mechanic, besides being simple, actually feels MORE appropriate to fending off poison-based effect than a 'generic' Concentration check.
Further, the Casters MOST LIKELY to be in melee range with it in the first place would be Clerics who have a GOOD FORT SAVE (and who probably don't care about casting further spells, but are attacking it with the buffs they've already casted). Not to mention, Wizards or Sorcerors with Familiars can get an Aid Another from their Familiar to help their Saving Throw.

Just for clarity, here was what Jason Nelson wrote:

I'll disagree with the judgery about the spell dissonance power. In part that's because it has a random duration, a modest save DC, and you get a new save every round, but here's the real reason:

It's a melee attack.

That means that it's never going to come into play against most spellcasters that are relying on their spellcasting (and therefore staying out of melee). Casters who do a buff or two and then move up to melee it probably aren't going to be too discomfited by having their casting zapped. The primary spellcasters aren't going to get close enough to get bitten very often. Even if they are... hey, life is dangerous.

Think about it this way: A grappling creature is almost effective at stopping a spellcaster (with their usually weak CMD and relatively few verbal-only spells) as a blanket "no casting" effect. Which do you think is easier for a spellcaster to escape?

a. A modest saving throw that happens every round and takes no actions?

b. An Escape Artist check (uh huh), CMB check (fat chance vs. the CMD of any creature bothering to use grapple as a tactic), or successfully casting a verbal-only spell (if they have one) while grappled (vs. a harder Concentration check than this save DC) that actually frees them from the grappler (not a guarantee, even if the target fails its save).

Yes, the bite has advantages over grappling (FoM doesn't make you immune, and the churjir can bite you and move on without having to maintain the grapple), but on balance I don't think the churjir's spell dissonance bite is unreasonable at all, compared to a bog-standard combat tactic that a quarter of the monsters in the Bestiary use on a regular basis.

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

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

From a technical standpoint, this is one of the better stat blocks this round. All of the numbers seem to work. The fleas are a bit boring, but the fact that area attacks can burn them away is clever enough to make up for it. And I definitely dig the choice of spell-like abilities, because that's almost exactly what I was picturing when I first read the description of the churjiir.

The part that makes this entry iffy for me is the re-conception of the churjiir. At first, I was a bit put off by the fact that a mortal boss monster was turned into a demon minion monster. But the rules do allow that sort of change and the churjiir's odd combination of powers do have a demon sort of feel to them. And once it becomes a demon of CR 6 or less, it necessarily becomes a minion, given the demon power curve. So I eventually came around to seeing this monster as a demon.

However, the decision to go demon, no matter how logical, troubles me a bit, because it's a terrible choice of a monster niche if you want to stand out from the crowd. "Let's make another demon," is a very overdone approach to monster design, to the point of being cliche. In 3.5, there were so many demons it started getting silly, and I don't want to see those floodgates opened again in PRPG.

So you've designed a very elegant little fish, but then you've stuck it in a very, very big pond. I don't yet know if it stands out enough from the demonic crowd to earn one of my votes.

Andoran Contributor , Star Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

One of the many churjiirs in the contest, yours took a unique route in making it a demon. You also made an elegant design choice by giving it charm monster as a spell-like ability, though it seems to me that you could have made the frequency higher, even up to "at will".

I wish you luck in this round of the contest!

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

I'm way behind on R3, so I'm going to be brief. Overall, I thought this was a well written monster and stat block, so good job there! The fleas were handled well, and I like that as a swift action they are used in addition to the monster's other actions.

On the other hand, I'm not sold on it being a demon. Not only was this a significant change from the R2 description, but I don't see demon (being living for malicious destruction) fitting with the rat king of a underground petty empire that is the main focus of the Churjiir. Beyond that, your write up includes the mental abilities from R2, but doesn't make them seem to gel with the rest of the monster concept. They seem to be tacked on SLAs.

I thought the spell dissonance was a fine ability - it doesn't really shut down a caster any more than lots of other affect, or more than lots of affects shut down other characters - it's actually less harsh than a confusion effect, dominate, hold person, or many others. At least the caster can still use supernatural abilities, use magic items, run and hide, drink a potion, etc.

Finally, while I like the fleas being temporarily destroyed by area attacks, I'm not sure that they should be affected as described - by area affect spells that penetrate SR. First of all, what about area affect spells that don't cause damage, such as glitterdust? If the Churjiir makes its save, then there's no blindness, so why would the fleas be affected. Similarly, what about area affects that aren't spells, such as a breath weapon, alchemist fire trap, etc.? This could have been better handled by triggering when the churjiir simply takes damage from an area affect.

While I don't think you got my vote this round, it is a strong effort, and I hope you make it to the next round.


Personally, I find it interesting that everyone feels the spell dissonance ability is too strong when Dennis statted this out as a CR6 critter. Last night, I ran my 5-player level 2 party up against a CR3 gelatinous cube and almost had a TPK due to a DC20 Fortitude save to avoid being paralyzed (4 out of 5 failed, and the 5th never had to make the save). There are not a lot of level 2 characters that can make that very easily; even a warrior-based class with a decent Con bonus would fail the save at least 60% of the time. So no, I don't have a problem with the spell-hampering effect, although I myself might have made it more an ability drain effect since the creature is being presented as an outsider. That's just me, though.

I like this concept being presented as a demon; it's nice to see something other than imps and lemures as low-level "servitor" outsiders. I think more could have been done with its territorial establishment; this seems more a soloist here, while the original concept made it a lord of its demense. Where are its subjects? Charm monster once a day doesn't work for me. Also, I have to agree with Joel that 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?

Honestly though, the original concept didn't really appeal to me all that much, and what you've presented here has changed my opinion about that. Not sure yet if it has my vote- haven't checked out the rest of the "nest" yet- but it definitely is one I'm considering. Well done.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 aka tejón

I'll open with blunt honesty: Benjamin's churjiir is a tough act to follow, and makes it tough to properly review this. Mind you, that's not a killer, because your entry is solid on its own. We get a lot of votes this round, which will also help: people won't be especially shy about tagging multiple rats!

I'm so-so on the demon angle. On the upside, it really does make sense and helps to pull the abilities together. Conversely, as has been commented: Yet Another Demon. In all, though, I think that spin is more good than bad.

The one thing I honestly don't like is your implementation of Spell Dissonance as a poison. I mean, it works fine mechanically (and being a Fort save makes it particularly nasty), but the flavor just doesn't speak to me.

Clark had a good point about this guy losing some charm with an increased CR: the churjiir's niche seemed to be "petty despot," and that's great at CR3 or CR4 because it's often a stretch to tie events at that level to a much more powerful campaign-driving BBEG; a largely unrelated mini-boss is a great toy for the GM. At CR6, and without absolute mastery over other rodents, "field lieutenant" seems like a more appropriate position. Swinging to the positive, that works very well with making it a demon.

All in all, I think the biggest problem with this entry was calling it a churjiir! You deviated pretty far from the original concept, but the end result is still a good monster on its own merits.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 aka tejón

I voted for this.


I'm not sure how much use this version of the Churjiir's modify memory will actually see in terms of campaign except on occasional sewer workers unfortunate enough to bump into it or on it's own minions. Given this creature's size, and the mentioned smell, it seems to me likely difficult for it to get the sort of time needed for serious memory modification with anyone who isn't already wandering around its favoured abode. But, it would be fun (uh, I mean highly frustrating) for one of these to send minions out with memories of some local official giving them orders, if it knows the PCs are onto its activities and in a habit of relying on detect thoughts to carry out research.

The overall concept seems to hang together fairly well otherwise to me, and the maths seems tight. I'm not too bothered by the extent that this differs from the original concept.

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 in my opinion - your version are lazy creatures, cowards by nature, who enjoy bossing things around in their own petty fiefdoms, concerned with not much more than covertly gathering information for their masters back home and who in any case (down to that smell and size) are going to have trouble getting into a position to cause much damage with their mind-meddling.

My overall impression is of a well thought through and written subterranean boss, probably useful as a recurring minor villain, especially if it tends to run once the tide of battle starts to turn against its minions.

Many thanks for submitting this entry. :)

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

Hey guys, thanks for the comments. I wanted to address a few of your concerns. First of all with regards to the ****** I have to say I *** ***** *** and the ****** **** *****. As for ****'s comments about ******...

Hmm... this isn't working well. I guess just thanks and keep me in mind when voting comes around. Looking good this round!


Owing to some concerns which have been raised elsewhere regarding the maths of another Round 3 contestant, this entry gets the third and last of my Round 3 top 3 votes.
Well done on the maths front, Dennis, and it's a pretty solid all-round entry too. It's been a pleasure to vote for this one. :)

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

Once you're able to comment, I'm very much looking forward to hearing about your choice to cast the Churjiir as a demon. Lots of luck :D

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

Contestants are prohibited from commenting on their own entries (in the entry's own thread or elsewhere) while the voting booth is open, other than to thank others for their support and encourage voting.
Voting booth is closed so...

Why Demon rather than magical beast?
The combination of weird mental powers, two heads, six arms, disgusting, description and weird, nauseating flea power just seemed like a demon more than a magical beast or aberration to be. The magical beasts I think of are generally fairly simple, one trick creatures and this was definitely not that.

Spell Dissonance, WTF do you hate casters?
(In adddition to Jason Nelson and Quandary's excellent comments on this)
For starters, the 'pitch' said "It's bite screws up magic" and I was challenged to create an effect that did that. I could have backed it off and made a more generic effect but I was trying not to deviate from the pitch unless I felt it was too much.

As for the ability itself; it is significantly less destructive than a commonly used third level spell, Stinking Cloud. Compare the two.

  • Both target FORT (DC 16-19)
  • Both prevent casting, sticking cloud prevents a lot more than that.
  • Stinking cloud is a large area effect the bite is single target
  • Stinking cloud's effects last for 1d4+1 rounds after you leave the area and offers no secondary saves.

    The feeling I get is people are turned off because it 'targets' spellcasters. Had it been called "Nauseating Bite" it would have the same effect (and more) and few people would have complained about it. I will point back to the original pitch...

    Speaking of the Original Pitch, what happened to the necrotic bite?
    I felt having two powerful effects on one attack was over the top. Originally I gave the two heads different effects, one necrotic bite, one spell dissonance. This felt like it would be too unwieldy to run so I dropped the necrotic bite.

    This creature had a lot of abilities and getting them all into it was a challenge.

    SR + Spell dissonance, isn't that overkill?
    Keeping in mind that I felt this was a good fit overall for being a demon I used other demons for comparison when creating this monster. So DR and SR were inherited since they are pretty universal in demons.

    Mid level CR boss with low level minions, this won't work!!
    I am going back and forth on this question. CR 6 is a tough encounter for a 4th level party and a cakewalk for 5th level. I think you could fairly easily make an urban adventure arc that starts at 1st level fighting rats with were-rat bosses and works it's way up to climax with the characters fighting the rat king in his lair with his minions at 4th-5th level. You aren't going to have 4 levels of solid rat-wars but as an intermittent thread in an adventure it could work quite well.

    Also, the use of a demon allows for some obvious tie-ins to higher level adventures.

    "Area effect spells" suppress the flea effect
    Umm... it would probably make a little more sense area effect spells that damage the churgiir.

    It's just another demon
    A little truth in advertising here, I don't have a huge library of D&D books to get a jaded opinion of one creature type. It's both a curse and a boon. I made a similar comment about the Wyrmhiri in the previous round so I can understand your feelings.

    Did I catch everyone's concerns?


  • Commiserations.

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

    Hey Dennis,

    Thanks for doing the Churjiir, I did like seeing all the different versions that people made. I did like that you made it as a demon, to keep it different. I also liked that you went for it and did all of the abilities that the Churjiir was described as having. I was happy to see people support you for putting in both the spell eating bite and the necrotic saliva. Go for it, keep up the cool designs (and the amusing Haiku) and I know you will be there for RPG Superstar in 2011.

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