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Voracek


Round 3 - Top 16: Create a villain stat block

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

Voracek
Portrait: 30
Description: Voracek's granite hued skin gives him the semblance of living stone. Engraved, blue glowing tattoos complement his often screaming visage.
Motivations/Goals: A religious zealot, Voracek honors Ayrzul, The Fossilized King, by collecting samples of all seven skymetals, and forging them into a conduit for Ayrzul's raw might.
Schemes/Plots/Adventure Hooks:
-Voracek is abducting veteran smiths from the Gas Forges of Riddleport. Enslaving them provides the skilled labor to craft the Skymetal Conduit. The PCs stumble onto this while procuring a commissioned adamantine item.
-A Technic League captain disappears while investigating rumors of a Numerian technological device auctioned in Absalom. The PCs are hired to retrieve the device and rescue the captain before Voracek forces him to reveal the location of secret skymetal caches.

Voracek CR 9
Male oread barbarian (elemental kin, APG 79) 3/cleric of Ayrzul (exalted armsman, R2) 6 (Bestiary 2 205)
NE Medium outsider (native)
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft; Perception +16
Aura evil
===== Defense =====
AC 20, touch 11, flat-footed 18; (+8 armor, +1 deflection, +2 Dex, +1 natural, -2 rage)
hp 116 (3d12+6d8+64)
Fort +15, Ref +7, Will +14
Defensive Abilities uncanny dodge; Resist acid 10
===== Offense =====
Spd 30 ft.
Melee +2 adamantine morningstar +20/+15 (1d8+16)
Ranged magic stone +12/+7 (1d6+10)
Special Attacks destructive smite 7/day (+3), empowered strike 2/day (+2d6), rage (11 rounds/day), rage powers (knockback)
Domain Spell-Like Abilities (CL 7th, concentration +11)
7/day--acid dart (1d6+3)
Oread Spell-Like Abilities (CL 9th, concentration +7)
1/day--magic stone
Cleric Spells Prepared (CL 6th, concentration +10)
3rd--cure serious wounds, dispel magic, stone shape(D), summon monster III
2nd--aid, cure moderate wounds (2), shatter(D) (DC 16), weapon of awe
1st--cure light wounds (2), divine favor, entropic shield, true strike(D)
0 (at will)--detect magic, guidance, mending, virtue
(D) Domain spell; Domains Destruction, Earth
===== Tactics =====
Before Combat Voracek casts aid, divine favor, entropic shield, magic stone, and weapon of awe.
During Combat Voracek crushes his elemental gem, then rages and attacks the strongest foe. He uses empowered strikes, power attack and destructive smites to quickly destroy opponents. He sunders weapons of troublesome enemies and uses knockback to disrupt foes.
Morale If reduced below 30 hp, Voracek flees and heals. He escapes if possible, otherwise he fights to the death.
Base Statistics When not raging and without his spells, Voracek's statistics are: AC 22, touch 13, flat-footed 20; hp 88; Fort +13, Will +12; Melee +2 adamantine morningstar +15/+10 (1d8+9); Str 20, Con 16; CMB +12 (+14 sunder), Skills Climb +10.
===== Statistics =====
Str 24, Dex 14, Con 20, Int 10, Wis 18, Cha 6
Base Atk +7; CMB +14 (+16 sunder); CMD 23 (25 vs. sunder)
Feats Furious Focus, Improved Sunder, Power Attack, Step Up, Toughness, Weapon Focus (morningstar)(B)
Skills Climb +12, Craft (weapons) +12, Knowledge (planes) +5, Knowledge (religion) +5, Perception +16, Sense Motive +8, Spellcraft +5
Languages Common, Terran
SQ elemental affinity, elemental fury, exceptional resources, fast movement
Combat Gear elemental gem (earth), scroll of earthquake; Other Gear +2 breastplate, +2 adamantine morningstar, belt of physical perfection +2, headband of inspired wisdom +2, cloak of resistance +2, amulet of natural armor +1, ring of protection +1, spell component pouch, adamantine holy symbol of Ayrzul
===== Special Abilities =====
Elemental Affinity (Ex) Oread sorcerers with the Elemental (earth) bloodline treat their Charisma score as 2 points higher for all sorcerer spells and class abilities. Oread clerics with the Earth domain cast their domain powers and spells at +1 caster level.
Exceptional Resources (Ex) Voracek has the gear of a PC rather than an NPC. This equipment increases his CR by 1.

Cheliax Contributor

Congratulations on reaching Round Three. My job is to comment on your character concept, not the rules. Also, I’ll leave typos and low-level writing issues to the mercies of the other judges.
I’m hoping to see villains with a compelling motivation and clear goal. I’ll try to point out both strengths and weaknesses before making a simple yes/no recommendation. Good luck in the voting!

The description and the first part of the motivation are pretty scant. Brevity can be a virtue, but there isn’t much to hang your hat on here.

The detail that cries out for further development is the collection of the skymetal. Explaining more about this conduit Voracek wishes to build and explaining what he hopes to gain by doing so could make him a much more compelling character.

I like the hooks' connection to that core detail. With only another sentence or two on his motivation and goals, he'd be more than a sketch.

You have been weighed and measured:
I vote not to advance this one.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Alright, Joel. You've made it into another RPG Superstar contest and finally advanced to the next round. Congratulations on making the Top 16. But, as you can certainly attest, the competition gets a lot harder from here on out. And that's no different in how the judges will critique your stuff. So brace yourself as I dive under the hood and mark through this thing like I'd do if I were an editor. My comments are mostly going to come instream as I review stuff, and understand that anything I point out is meant to improve you and your designs. I'll also spoiler everything for length:

Spoiler:

Great choice for your character portrait and tying that to an oread (from the Bestiary 2) as opposed to trying to do him up as a stone giant. I'm intrigued by what you'll do with this one, particularly since you're invoking the elemental kin archetype (in addition to the exalted armsman from last round). Very appropriate and thematic. You're making some good choices. Now, let's take a look at the execution of your design.

First, I go into your descriptive text and I'm a little concerned by the sparseness of it. I know words were at a premium this round, but maybe you could have saved a few for another sentence of descriptive text by dropping back to only a single archetype or setting aside the need for his exceptional resources. For me, I'm usually looking for three sentences to make a paragraph's worth of commentary about something. And that's what I would have liked here...especially since the reader may not know much about Ayrzul, the Fossilized King, or the seven sky metals. Clearly, as the author (and someone who did their homework on Golarion), you do know plenty about these things. But you need to step out of your own understanding sometimes and look at it from an uneducated reader's perspective to pull them in with some additional elaboration and explanation.

So, he's a religious zealot. He worships a deity from the Plane of Earth. And he's got a major interest in meterorites and metals from strange new worlds. All of that is apparently driving him to do some dastardly things. Like...enslaving a bunch of smiths and miners to make them work on his own little project. Or...abducting someone from the Technic League to pry out the secret locations of more skymetal. Okay. Not super-villainy or anything...but he's certainly driven by that one all-consuming goal...and it is bringing him into conflict with others in ways that heroic PCs might need to oppose him. Still, I would have liked to see more here. Something to really turn up his villainy to a higher scale.

Alright, so, let's put that behind us and take a look at your stat-block. The CR is correct for a balanced PC-eligible race without racial Hit Dice with the exceptional resources of a PC. So he should be the usual class level minus 1 to determine his CR and then +1 for the extra wealth. It looks to me like your Initiative bonus should be +2 rather than +1, based on a Dex of 14. I'm also unsure of how there were enough skill ranks to boost his Perception to +16. The best I can get to is +10. The hit point calculation is a complicated beast. You've got barbarian rage stacked on top of favored class stacked on top of aid. I got up to 120 hp on an independent calculation, but maybe you saved some of those favored class hit points for extra skill points instead? Could explain the Perception +16. Lastly, I'm unsure on the CMD. I'm coming up with 25 rather than 23.

Everything else is looking really good. You've gone with a very difficult and complicated stat-block to number crunch and did a very good job with it...including the oread's CL increase for domain powers and spells. Really good attention to detail on this one.

Now, lets talk about your villain's tactics. That's a lot of stuff to layer on in the Before Combat section. Powered up with that many effects, this is going to be one bone-bruising oread filled with divine fervor. A lot of these effects would make for a pretty challenging encounter. This is definitely a BBEG in form. However, I'll point out once more that I think you favored so many power-ups and additional stat-block complications (with multiclassing and multiple archetypes) that ran afoul of too few words to ramp up your descriptive text, motivations, and plot hooks. I would have liked to see a better balance between the two. And just by removing a couple of options here and there, you could have bought back the words to do your villain greater justice in that respect. I also think it was a smart design decision (for the purposes of the contest) to include the exceptional resources special ability.

So, for the purposes of this round, I'm going to assess each villain according to concept, evocative description/flavor, appropriateness of the applied archetype, interesting/villainous tactics, and mechanical execution of the stat-block. So, here's how I'd rank this one:

Spoiler:

Villain Concept: Good
Flavor Text: Average
Appropriate Archetype: Excellent
Interesting Tactics: Good
Stat-Block Execution: Good

FINAL RECOMMENDATION: I found this villain somewhat lacking on juicy descriptive details and motivation, but adequate enough to get by. And I think the stat-block execution here is top-notch, with very few mis-steps and enough powers/abilities/tactics to make for a pretty memorable encounter. Attention to detail is very good.

As such, I do RECOMMEND this villain to advance to the next round. Best of luck in the voting.

Contributor

I like the hooks about the blacksmiths and the backstory involving the skymetals.

I think this villain is hurt by being multiclassed--that's extra wordage spent on a second set of class abilities that you could have spent on background or goals (we don't know what the skymetal device is supposed to be, for example).

The stat block is pretty tight. You should make sure you capitalize feats wherever they appear, though (like in the During Combat line).

Paizo Employee Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Hey Joel! Congrats on making it into the top 16. I'm approaching all of this round's entries with a developer's eye, as the man who will ultimately be developing the winner's Module and the top 4 contestants' Pathfinder Society Scenarios. So let's assume you're one of those four designers and this is a villain you base your adventure around. What's my reaction when this comes in as your idea for a villain for your big adventure?

I love that you show a clear understanding of some fairly obscure elements of the setting and how they can interact. Oreads, Ayrzul, skymetals, the Technic League, Riddleport's Gas Forges...all thematically linked and done so very elegantly in the few words you have left over after the giant statblock.

The fact that you didn't make this a stone giant speaks volumes to your ability to look at something from a different angle, as this image is especially linked to a particular race, and you've managed to get around that. Good job.

With the non-core race and multiclassing at play here, you've got very limited room for description, but I think you used it economically and effectively, describing a villain I'd love to see in an adventure.

As for the statblock itself, I don't see any huge errors, though I haven't rebuilt it to check all the math. It appears that you understand how to style and present a statblock (and a complex one at that) and I would have faith that an entire adventure from you would not be a huge time sink in development, at least not as far as statblocks went.

In all, I'm really impressed with this one, Joel, and I hope to see what you can come up with in future rounds.

FINAL VERDICT: I RECOMMEND this villain for advancement to the next round. Best of luck in the voting.

CEO, Goblinworks

Summary: 2 Points
Recommendation: Not recommended for advancement

Joel my approach to this round was as a brand manager. I'll leave the detailed mechanical analysis to the others. If I were in charge of the product this villain would appear in, I'd be thinking the following:

Did you follow the instructions?

You picked the stoney blue tattooed guy and delivered something that certainly fits that description.

1 Point

Is this villain memorable and will it add value to my IP?

I don't think he's very memorable. The GM is going to know way more about this guy than the PCs ever will. Working all that backstory (which is highly unlikely to intersect with the PCs much) into a series of lead-up encounters is going to be really tough and assumes a certain kind of player group who relishes that level of deep-background.

He's much more likely to just be the Foozle you kill to end the scenario, with his backstory going mostly unmentioned.

You also made this guy super extra complex. That shows some real design chops, but it didn't help much for your IP delivery.

0 Points

Does the villain's concept make sense within the IP?

Yeah, he's well integrated - you do risk becoming so obscure here that most GMs will just ignore the details though.

1 Point

What's the twist? (All great villains have a surprise within them)

The twist is that he's banal. He's got all this complex DNA and it reduces down to "likes shiney!" What's this device all about? Its the center motivation for the whole character and yet we get zero about it other than the fact that its built with lots of skymetal.

0 Points

Paizo Employee Designer

Howdy. I’m Stephen, and I will be one of your guest judges for this round of RPG Superstar. I’m looking at the stat block purely based on what I consider fun or interesting to run. I have a little experience with that. That means the villain should be evocative, clear, effective, and big extra credit points go for interesting. There’re a lot of good villains out there, yours needs to stand out is some way.

I guess round 3 is the Starstone or vampire (or dhampir) round. While Voracek’s description is brief, there is a lot of flavor in his stat block, which I like. His motivations are rather simplistic, and not overtly malicious, but I guess that’s okay every so often. He’s a screaming oread out for power and he’s not going to let a bunch of pesky PCs stand in his way.

The stat block is well done. And I love a well done stat block.

I’m going to recommend this guy for advancement. Good luck in the voting, Joel.

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

I would have liked to see a bit more at play with the backstory and motivations. Perhaps a sentence about who this weird god is and why he might like exotic starmetals. But the stat-block is top-notch and looks like it'd be fun in play. And I can come up with a bunch of other hooks to hang onto this chassis.

So he's a bit sparse in the description department, but I like the mechanics (and the oread!) enough that I think you're going to get a vote. I make no promises.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013

Excellent racial selection here, I was thinking much the same for this pic (stone giant is just way too high). He does, however, seem overly complex for what essentially amounts to a combat bruiser. If the PCs are unable to grasp the depth of the villain they can't possibly be menaced by that depth. He needs either a more elaborate plot, or slimmed down stats.

Andoran

Hey -- the stat block is top notch. Probably the best of the 16.

Crunch wise, A1. But as a character? No. The motivation is just not there, the backstory nonexistent and -- in the end -- I really have no idea how to run with this guy as a villain.

I get the feeling you were done in by word count and decided to preserve the stat block and cut on the description. *sigh*

I'm glad I'm not the one who had to make that choice, but you went too far -- and too light -- on the description of this villain for my preferences.

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

[spits gag out of mouth] I don't have much time before they

Spoiler:
I don't know who They are exactly, but I think they might have been sent by Neil. He stared at me while thinking menacing thoughts.
discover I've slipped the gag off, but I wanted to say thanks for your support and please vote for my villain! I really appreciated the judges comments, criticisms and insights, as well as comments from the voting public. If you have questions, I'll be happy to answer them once voting for this round is closed. Uh oh, I hear them coming, they're about to put the gag MWARrmpft.


Unlike the judges (and perhaps most of the voters), I am less concerned with completeness than I am with inspiration. I always expect to have to reskin or rebuild most characters before I can use them anyway. And the epic scale combined with the fuzzyness of this character's ambitions leave a lot of room for me to take the character and make it my own within one of my games. So you have my vote to continue.


Meh.

I also don't like the fact the judge said anything at all about it. It's best to let it sit and see what happens, imho.

Anyways. I loved the backstory of Tartulmauk the Kobold Shaman from Kingmaker, but there wasn't much opportunity to put it into the game other than through his journal when my trigger happy PC's marched through killing whatever they could.

This guy kind of suffers the same fate. He's just the next BBEG to get thwomped and left to the dirt. I mean, he sounds and looks cool, and his backstory is thought out, but there isn't a whole lot going for him.

HOWEVER, I think this shows great potential for detail and an eye for an interesting story that could be useful when designing a module, and think maybe I'd like to see what else the author can throw out.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Not one, but two archetypes! Including one from Round 2! That's a plus in my book.

I'll trust the others who say that your stat block is fine. It appears pretty complex with multiple spells effects. Attention to detail is important.

I don't know if I would include this guy in a campaign, which is largely my measuring scale. However, I wouldn't not. I'm pretty on the fence, but the attention to detail might swing me to vote for this one.

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

I think the guy's motivations, while not particularly rich and delicious, are clear and designed in a way that will naturally lead to conflict. He is out for a particular goal and has a number of specific plots in play to achieve it, any of which could logically make him cross paths with the PCs.

The stat block is nicely done, though a bit heavy on the prep spell effects. Still, if he's intended to be a BBEG, that's not such a bad thing.

Overall, I like him. He could've used some more descriptive text to give him more panache and personality, or to describe something of what this item is that he's intending to build, but I see enough here that I can use him, and have enough mechanical meat here to know HOW to use him.


I voted for this villain.

The basics are really simply here -- but like the theme, solid. The baddie has a goal, he has steps that need to be taken to reach the goal. Those steps can easily put him into conflict with the PCs (from something as simple as a kidnapping, to an attempt to steal a starmetal weapon they have). Since the goal is so 'simple' plot wise it's something I can grab and drop quickly without having to alter what else is going on in my story. There are enough places that bread crumbs can be dropped that a PC that wants to find the story would have a means of doing so (since the theme of what the villain is doing is so tight) without forcing the party to care if they don't want to.

The stat block is solid and for a spell caster easy to use, which is important -- I don't have to go jumping around looking up special abilities all the time.

All in all this is a villain I can use quickly, enhance as needed and drop just as quickly as such it is wonderful for a quick story arch or to move characters a bit (either up in level, or up/down in gear).


Joel Flank wrote:

Voracek

Description: Voracek's granite hued skin gives him the semblance of living stone. Engraved, blue glowing tattoos complement his often screaming visage.
Motivations/Goals: A religious zealot, Voracek honors Ayrzul, The Fossilized King, by collecting samples of all seven skymetals, and forging them into a conduit for Ayrzul's raw might.
Schemes/Plots/Adventure Hooks:
-Voracek is abducting veteran smiths from the Gas Forges of Riddleport. Enslaving them provides the skilled labor to craft the Skymetal Conduit. The PCs stumble onto this while procuring a commissioned adamantine item.
-A Technic League captain disappears while investigating rumors of a Numerian technological device auctioned in Absalom. The PCs are hired to retrieve the device and rescue the captain before Voracek forces him to reveal the location of secret skymetal caches...

Disclaimer:

You should know the drill by now, but in case you (somehow) missed it so far, Ask A RPGSupersuccubus is posting from the point of view of a (very advanced) CE aligned succubus:
Spoiler:
Fairness means both the mortals falling off the plank into the lava at the same time, balance is something a succubus weighs herself on against a sack full of bloody archon feathers to check that she hasn’t been overindulging this month, and logic means that it’s never the succubus at fault – always the incompetent idiot of a second-rate hairdresser who is incapable of living up to a succubus’ expectations. Oh: And always remember it’s a succubus’ privilege to change her mind without any warning…
;)

If a sister succubus seduces this villain or a key henchman and things take their course… Well is this villain likely to be good around a young alu-fiend?
This villain is a Religious Zealot. He's obsessed with nothing but his 'god' - who is an exceedingly obscure figure at that. I guarantee you that if I pull half a dozen sages out of a pub-crawl in Korvosa and ask them 'who is Ayrzul the Fossilized King?', I'll get nothing but blank stares (and maybe one or two of them trying to hit on me). Well not unless there's a conference of specialists in matters pertaining to the elemental planes on at the Acadamae or Theumanexus that week...
Anyway, getting back on track, no this man is not likely to be good for anything unless it happens to be to pertain to his god.

Should a succubus tip off any organisations as to the identity, location, and/or activities of this person?
Definitely.
The question is as to whom?
Dealing with Riddleport's crime-lords is always tricky and to be frank they don't have much energy to deal with things which aren't already on their turf - and if Voracek's abducting smiths in Riddleport I assume at least one crime-lord already knows about him and has his back if he's actually operating in Riddleport.
The Pathfinder Society might be interested in the information, but unless Voracek's been stupid enough to abduct a Pathfinder, they're as likely to send an academic type up there to chat with him about his project as to do anything useful about him.
Now a group of nice mercenaries certainly has potential for dealing with Voracek and might really value information about him. After all there are all those rare metals lying around which (if they could only somehow persuade the current owner to part with them) would make rather snappy armour and weapons. (This would also serve Ayzrul's faithful right for that incident three thousand odd years ago involving a dragon that they 'helpfully' tipped off as to the location of a valuable jewellery collection (at that time in Abyssal hands) so that they could nip in and mine the dragon's lair for samples of a rare ore whilst the dragon was out...)
Failing that, since Voracek has been abducting people, an order of paladins could probably be relied upon to go after him on their white chargers.

How much money would I lend this person?
Lending money to religious zealots obsessed with obtaining rare metals to make a object holy to their god is never a good idea unless you're also a big fan of that deity - or the loan will guarantee a more spectacular finale when it all comes crashing down.
So basically, I wouldn't lend Voracek anything.

Other comments? (including fruitcake rating where appropriate)
Voracek (or indeed the person informing on him here) appears to be assuming that just because he only currently knows about seven forms of skymetal that there aren't any more. If he gets long enough to research/get on with his stuff he might discover some more...
Fruitcake rating:
Writing as a succubus who doesn't share his obsession Ayrzul, Voracek rates a couple of currant buns and a cherry pie with regard to his sanity or lack thereof. His fellow devotees might view him as an exceptionally holy and wise prophet - or as a heretic/rival who must be purged from the world for his blasphemous works.

Rating on the Gulga-Bracht supersuccubus scale of villainy:
3 to 4 depending on mood (petty criminal to minor organization leader (or equivalents)).

Further Disclaimer:
Ask A RPGSupersuccubus (still with half an eye on Lord Orcus) would once again like to clarify that mortal voters should probably rely on more than just her own (impeccable) assessments in making up their minds on how to vote. Thank You.

Star Voter 2013

A hockey fan? You have my vote!


I really did not like this one at first, but after a couple readings I came to the realization that this villain is essentially trying to build a Death Star.

Think about it!
He collect sky metal.
He bullies smiths into working for him.
He can cast spells.
He is creating a metal contraption as a "conduit for Ayrzul's raw might."
This guy is Darth Freakin' Vader!

The description is definitely missing the detail on the device he is creating. Also, maybe he creates other smaller devices with the left over material. That way the adventure isn't one be build up, and can instead have other smaller conflicts along the way for the party to resolve.

You have my vote.


composermike wrote:
Unlike the judges (and perhaps most of the voters), I am less concerned with completeness than I am with inspiration. I always expect to have to reskin or rebuild most characters before I can use them anyway. And the epic scale combined with the fuzzyness of this character's ambitions leave a lot of room for me to take the character and make it my own within one of my games. So you have my vote to continue.

+1

This pretty much sums up my feelings, but I don't know if you will get my vote or not (I'm only halfway through the villains and I already have too many favorites). I'll be saving my final judgment for the end, but I really like depth of this nature. It challenges me to incorporate it into my games. For that I thank you.

Plus EngineerAuthorMan made an excellent point. Fricken' Death Star man!

Qadira RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6, Contributor , Dedicated Voter 2013

I freely admit to having a bias against unneeded multiclassing in a stat block. That really hurts my chances of voting for this one. When that's combined with wanting more words on his plans and his personality, it's a double mark. What's here is written pretty well, especially the stat block, and I like what you've done to move it away from a stone giant. But I want more about his cult and his conduit, and in particular, how an apparently frothing barbarian managed to learn how to build it.

I'm also a bit concerned that the stat block was more concerned with tush-kicking in mind than being a reasonable opponent. With his tactics and powers, I'm not sure he's a balanced CR 9.

All in all, not a bad entry, but my quibbles with it are enough to push it into my no vote column.

Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

I am really impressed by your work. This is a multi-layered villain tied tightly into Golarion. Your statblock is nice and shows that you can do these sort of things even when they get (imo needlessy) complicated.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Steven T. Helt

I might be on the opposite side of Russ on this guy. I think the execution of the stat block is great, but I think for most Pathfinder parties he's simply unchallenging. The spells don't mean much, and all buffed up he's basically reduced to dealing 1d8+22 for two or three rounds before being knocked unconscious (and therefore dead).

I am bothered by the idea that when "reduced to 30 hitpoint", the raging barbarian has the presence of mind to run. Seems very unbarbarianlike. I get the argument that being a certain class or alignment doesn't automatically make you stupid, but maybe barbarian is more 'to the death' than any other class. Also, I am irked at non-chaotic barbarians.

This is the first entry 've read, and I am sure to be coming back to it. On one hand, you've done well with the stat block, although the multiclassing and use of two archetypes eats up too much word count for little mechanical payoff. On the other hand, while you ddin't develop the ideas about the conduit, what it does, how he came across the idea, etc, I certainly want to know more.

Finally, this guy does not strike me as very villainous. Seems like you could track him down, end him and move on. Your use of Golarion references is great and tightly themed, but your villain's ability to be around for a while is very limited.

Andoran Dedicated Voter 2013

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I really like this guy. I really want to know more about the conduit and seven sky metals and such... but those are all things I can look up.

Unlike some of the judges, the lack of some information is ok as long as the information can easily be found elsewhere. As a GM, I don't mind looking things up.

You got my vote with this guy.

Osirion

Why should the PCs care if this guy makes his skymetal device?

So his methods for doing it are a little villainous. I can see a party, who don't know about Ayrzul, trying to be diplomatic and working a deal with the guy to get him his skymetal without hurting people.

And, please put in a blurb about why Ayrzul is bad. I know a bit about Golarion and I've never heard of this guy.

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

I've come up blank as well on who Ayrzul might be and why channelling his raw might would be wrong. That doesn't leave much I can work with in the author's description. His motivation reminds me more of a rust monster so far than anything else.

He doesn't seem to have any followers (not surprising, with his Charisma) or plans to sneak up on people who have skymetal, so somehow he has to cast his 6 rounds of buffs, then wade in and beat everyone in a 9th level party to the ground single-handedly. Is there any more to this than a thought experiment in stacking up weapon damage?


I would like to have seen more in the motivation/goals section. The villian seems underdeveloped in that area.

Andoran

Stephen Radney-MacFarland wrote:
The stat block is well done. And I love a well done stat block.

I am with SRM on this one, very nicely done. I am also partial to barbarian / cleric combos and I think earth is one of those overlooked elemental affinities. It works so well with the oread. I guess what I like best is that the guy is a powerful adversary, providing a solid challenge, and the aspects of the character concept blend so seamlessly.

I know you are limited in terms of text for the contest, so you can't really flesh out motivations and goals, but you did a great job within those limitations. There's a nice seed that a good DM could take and run away with.

You've got my vote. Nice job, Joel!

-George

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka surfbored

Joel Flank wrote:
Voracek

Okay, there's not much to see name-wise, but not every name needs to be an epic tale, so that's fine.

Joel Flank wrote:

Description: Voracek's granite hued skin gives him the semblance of living stone. Engraved, blue glowing tattoos complement his often screaming visage.

This adequately matches the portrait. It reads well enough too. +1

Joel Flank wrote:

Motivations/Goals: A religious zealot, Voracek honors Ayrzul, The Fossilized King, by collecting samples of all seven skymetals, and forging them into a conduit for Ayrzul's raw might.

Not much villainy here, but there's the start of a setup. Still not much meat though.

Joel Flank wrote:

Schemes/Plots/Adventure Hooks:

-Voracek is abducting veteran smiths from the Gas Forges of Riddleport. Enslaving them provides the skilled labor to craft the Skymetal Conduit. The PCs stumble onto this while procuring a commissioned adamantine item.
-A Technic League captain disappears while investigating rumors of a Numerian technological device auctioned in Absalom. The PCs are hired to retrieve the device and rescue the captain before Voracek forces him to reveal the location of secret skymetal caches.

Wait, that's all? I don't have a full sense of the villain yet and now we're up to the stat block.

Joel Flank wrote:
[STAT BLOCK]

Ah, here's where all the words went. This (overly?) complex stat block ate up all of your villain. Assuming you got it all right (I didn't check), the stats are pretty ambitious. But this only helps me for the actual combat, not the plot that leads up to the combat.

A villain with more crunch than flavor.

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

What a relief to be able to address the concerns and comments about Voracek. Before going into specifics, I wanted to comment on the balance of stat block vs. descriptive and motivation text. I very quickly realized that 600 words was not enough to provide both a challenging stat block and an in depth description, etc. for a villain. In the grand scheme of crunch vs. fluff, my strengths are more on the crunch side of the spectrum, so I chose to make a challenging of a stat block as I could to show off that strength. As icing on the cake, I re-read the name of round 3 - create a villain stat block.

That being said, I can see that many of the voters were looking more at the villain concept than the stat block, so hopefully I pleased enough of the public to advance to round 4, since by the nature of the challenge, there's a lot more story and background and text, and I'd love to be able to show what I've been working on.

I certainly did have more to share about Voracek, but I wound up making as tight of a submission as possible, and cut lots from all sections of the submission. It was actually very interesting to see how I could save a word or two here and there to hit the word count. Gone was the silence spell and the tactics that he'd cast it on himself to engage spellcasters, the belt of physical might (strength and constitution) became a belt of physical perfection (and while I thought I updated everything for the additional +2 Dex, I did miss the initiative, so that's why that was off.) Gone was the extra information on Aryzul and what the Skymetal Conduit would do. I thought I did a pretty good job of hinting at things and maximizing the impact of the words I did use in the top section, and was glad to see some people appreciate that.

As for some of the specific comments:

@Neil: I think his perception was correct, with 9 ranks, +4 from Wisdom, and +3 for being a barbarian class skill.

For hit points, I gave him max barbarian hp for first level (12) - at least sometimes Paizo uses that for PC classed creatures, then added average hp for 2 more barbarian levels (+13) and 6 cleric levels (+27), the increased Con from rage (5*9=45), Toughness feat (+9), and the aid spell of caster level plus average 1d8 roll (+10) for a total of 116. I did put his favored class bonus into skill points, since he had more than enough hp.

CMD I calculated as 10+ 7(BAB)+7(Str)+1(Dex: I missed the belt bonus to Dex here also)-2(AC penalty from rage) = 23. Looks like I missed the deflection bonus also that would bring it to 25.

@Sean: thanks for the tip about feat capitalization when used in text, I hadn't picked up on that before, but I know I'll never forget it now.

@Vincent: Now that you can't change your vote, I'm sorry to say that I'm not a hockey fan actually, but when I Googled the name, that's the only reference that came up, so I figured I was safe using it as a villain name. In a way the name fits - hockey players have a reputation for hitting hard also.

@EngineerAuthorMan: I think your comment is my favorite. I certainly wasn't thinking in that direction when designing Voracek, but any positive reference to him being like the most recognized villain from science fiction and probably the 20th century is a good thing!

@Russ and Steven: Hopefully your views on his power relative to his CR indicate that he's actually somewhere in between and is just right.

@Steven: He should be doing more than 1d8+22. Not only will he use power attack, but his destructive smites add +3 to damage 7/day (which should be more than enough when fighting the PCs), and another +2d6 2/day from empowered strikes.

@Starglim: You do bring up an excellent point about no mention of minions. Alas, another victim of word count. However, I had imagined him as simply buying the loyalty of additional muscle, with his better than average wealth from previous skymetal raids he's made. Selling adamantine weapons can raise money pretty well when you have a troop of enslaved master smiths.

I'm off to have some Valentine's Day chocolate fondue now, but if anyone else has questions I missed, I'm happy to answer them. (I will hold off on any more information though about his goals, background etc, since I don't want to spoil anything if someone has selected him for their R4 submission.)

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

I do have a question for Sean, Mark, Stephen, or another developer or designer though. When making the stat block for a cleric, or other character that has the class ability of "Aura" (i.e. detects strongly good, or evil, etc.) what's the preferred format? I found examples that listed "aura good" in the top section of the stat block, examples that listed "aura" as a special quality, as well as examples that didn't mention it at all. With the word count limit, I chose the last option for R3, but was wondering what was right.

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

Joel,

Best of luck with your villain entry! I feel bad for writing this after the voting's already closed - busy, busy, busy... Unlike my other reviews, I did read the comment thread before voting; still, this review mostly summarizes my own initial first impression.

Concept: Hmmm. He's mostly defined by his goal - which is a "collect the coupons" quest. That's not a bad choice, for a villain - an arbitrary quest for the villain won't be felt to be as arbitrary for the PCs, who'll be reacting very non-arbitrarily to his destructive activities. It also provides structure for a continuing plot arc. On the other hand, this quest concept isn't something that strikes me as particularly exciting. I don't think your entry sold me on why it was cool.

One significant concern I've got is that a Barbarian/Armsman seems an unlikely combination to deal in metallurgy projects and research heists. He seems like he'd be good in battle, but that battle would be a poor way to achieve his aims - maybe, in-game, I'd give him a roguish companion. And on the other hand, you've given him Wisdom 18, which means this guy is not going to be barging into workshops and vaults willy-nilly.

Plot Hooks: This is interesting - the coupon quest lets you place lots of very varied hooks pretty much anywhere that can be connected to a skymetal. So this plot can advance in lots of different ways and places. On the other hand, while I appreciate the versatility, I feel almost as if you're saying "this villain can be placed anywhere, and the hook can be anything" - I'm not feeling a unique flavor to these hooks; you've taken standard enslavement/theft mcguffins and tied them to the metal theme.

Mechanics: Whoa, a double-archetype multiclass! And, dear me, 24 strength - nasty! Consensus seems to be that you've done a great job with a very tricky stat block, so kudos to you. I'm sorry that the stat block, which is a TON of work for you contestants, gets glossed over by most voters (including myself), simply because checking all the math and skills and combat abilities is so much more work than reacting instinctively to a character concept. I really hope you'll get the recognition this deserves in the voting.

Use of Archetype: Well, you did double-archetype. And elemental kin certainly suits an oread. "Exalted armsman" felt like more of a stretch to me; I don't feel you justified that in the description. I personally prefer better-substantiated archetypes over having lots of 'em - they can add a lot to flavor, but here I feel like they were mostly tacked on in an afterthought-ish manner (not literally - just in the sense that you read the whole thing, an then go, huh, look, he's also got a couple of archetypes). Of course, this is partially a function of your choice to focus on a complex stat block rather than a more intricate character description.

Use of Portrait: Sounds like oread was a cool choice for a stone creature. I'll confess I'm entirely unfamiliar with oreads; I wonder if it might have been possible to give this character more personality, but I have now idea how oreads are usually portrayed, so...

All in all, I think this is a worthy entry - a solid concept well-suited for a continuing campaign; an unusual villain race and goal, and The Best Stat Block This Round (tm). I think the entry is severely hampered because the one element you've mostly neglected is making your entry sexy and exciting, which can be crucial for an open-voting contest.

Wishing you lots of luck! :)

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Joel Flank wrote:
...on the balance of stat block vs. descriptive and motivation text. I very quickly realized that 600 words was not enough to provide both a challenging stat block and an in depth description, etc. for a villain. In the grand scheme of crunch vs. fluff, my strengths are more on the crunch side of the spectrum, so I chose to make a challenging of a stat block as I could to show off that strength. As icing on the cake, I re-read the name of round 3 - create a villain stat block.

For what it's worth, I faced this problem in 2009's competition...but in a different way. That year saw the separation of villain concept from villain stat-block. So, to me, Round 3 was far more about getting the "math" right and showing proper rules-fu than rehashing the descriptive text, pimping out the tactics, and tacking on a new rules-y bit. So, I too focused on the stat-block...to my detriment. I took a lot of lumps in that round because I didn't adjust the descriptive text hardly at all...went kind of uber-power-up on the tactics...and threw together a new feat that was kind of thematically appropriate, but also uninspiring. It was very easy to wrap myself in the comfort of tight stat-blocking (because it's where I felt strong, too)...and yet, it caused me to "play it too safe" in the other areas...or "take my foot off the gas"...and so on. The judges (and voters) rightly dinged me for it.

So, I think the lesson here is that...yes, it's a pretty vital skill for future freelancers to demonstrate they can properly handle a stat-block. But, much like the wondrous item round, it's perhaps more important (especially for the voting public) to do something awesome with the descriptive stuff and core idea of your villain. That was made paramount in this year's Round 3, because the stat-block and villain concept were both required as part of the assignment. So, you had to be awesome with both.

That said, I specifically wanted to do a deeper assessment of the stat-blocks for the very specific reason that a lot of voters kind of gloss over it...much like actual customers of Paizo products may tend to do, as well, I suppose. Yet, for people like yourself, who did some really potent work on the actual math side of things in crunching the rules for a proper stat-block, I wanted to make sure you had someone among the judges who combed through it. Unfortunately for me, I admittedly made a few incorrect assessments. Some of that might have stemmed from the haste with which I needed to power through the stat-block replication. Some of it might have developed from an over-reliance on the Paizo stat-block spreadsheet we use as freelancers. Regardless, I still think it was worthwhile to do some analysis around it, because it certainly fostered discussion. And, in many cases, it helped several designers learn an additional trick or two...or give them insight into something they had previously overlooked in stat-block designs.

Joel Flank wrote:
I think his perception was correct, with 9 ranks, +4 from Wisdom, and +3 for being a barbarian class skill.

I think you're right. I'll have to go back and see how I crunched the spreadsheet (and don't know if I'll even have the time now). It may be that I ran out of skill points while assigning them...and Perception just wound up short. But, if you placed all 9 ranks there with his Wisdom bonus and class skill bonus, that would explain it.

Joel Flank wrote:
For hit points, I gave him max barbarian hp for first level (12) - at least sometimes Paizo uses that for PC classed creatures, then added average hp for 2 more barbarian levels (+13) and 6 cleric levels (+27), the increased Con from rage (5*9=45), Toughness feat (+9), and the aid spell of caster level plus average 1d8 roll (+10) for a total of 116. I did put his favored class bonus into skill points, since he had more than enough hp.

Ah, putting the favored class bonus into skill points clears up a lot of it. I did try to flip things around to see if that's what some of the competitors had done on their spreadsheets. For some reason, it wasn't quite adding up yet. I kind of wish this round had included a "show your math" element so it would have made it clearer what each of you had done. That would have sped my duplication of the stat-block via the spreadsheet...and improved my accuracy, I think. Regardless, I didn't think the hit point calculation or skill point assignment issue was all that big of an issue. As Sean pointed out, the spreadsheet will ultimately guide you and calculate those things for you. And your developer at Paizo will use that to validate your work.

Joel Flank wrote:
CMD I calculated as 10+ 7(BAB)+7(Str)+1(Dex: I missed the belt bonus to Dex here also)-2(AC penalty from rage) = 23. Looks like I missed the deflection bonus also that would bring it to 25.

Yep. That's a calculation where the spreadsheet really sped the analysis...and proved pretty reliable. And this is an area where I think this kind of feedback helped remind folks of some stuff they may not have previously considered with calculating CMB/CMD values.

At any rate, I think it's cool you came back to walk through some of your design decisions. And I salute you for the hard work that I know you put into trying to make the stat-block perfect. As one of only a handful of two-time RPG Superstar competitors, you've already demonstrated tremendous passion for your designs. And I, like many, really respect that about you.

My two cents,
--Neil


Disclaimer:
Ask A RPGSupersuccubus is posting from the point of view of a CE aligned (very advanced) succubus; the clarifications of the Abyssal meanings of ‘sorry’ and ‘commiserations’ which she made in the previous round don’t bear repeating here, but the Abyssal definition for ‘sympathy’ has some mileage for repetition, so (once more) in the language of the Abyss ‘sympathy’ is military jargon for a popular model of half a mile high siege-tower with spiked wheels, ballistae and fireball hurling catapults. (By way of explanation for the latter it’s a demonic joke: ‘See, we have sympathy for your situation’.)

Obligatory End of Round 3 Results Post:

Spoiler:
Congratulations on making it to the top 16. Obviously you didn’t get any further otherwise I wouldn’t be making this post. Still: you can now focus on plotting your triumphant return for a future year (if you feel so inclined), have that nervous breakdown which recent events may have made seem *much* more attractive, and/or get on with any other important stuff you’ve been letting go for the past few weeks – E.G. vaporising minions for not scrubbing the scullery floor properly, paying your dressmaker’s bills (important not to let craftsmen skilled with phase-spider silk go out of business) and house-training that paladin of Iomedae you captured a couple of months ago…
And of course there’s still a statistical chance that your villain, even though he failed to see you (personally) through this round, may show up again in this contest…


I know round 3 was sooooooo three weeks ago, but I have a question. Was the name for the character at all inspired by the Columbus Blue Jackets player Jakub Voracek, or is it just a strange coincidence that your villain has the same name as some NHL player from the Czech Republic?

Just curious, since I'm a big hockey (and Pathfinder) fan.

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

EngineerAuthorMan wrote:

I know round 3 was sooooooo three weeks ago, but I have a question. Was the name for the character at all inspired by the Columbus Blue Jackets player Jakub Voracek, or is it just a strange coincidence that your villain has the same name as some NHL player from the Czech Republic?

Just curious, since I'm a big hockey (and Pathfinder) fan.

No, it wasn't based on him. I ran across the name about 15 years ago and have been saving it for a cool villain ever since then. When I was writing the entry up, the only thing that came up when I googled it was the hockey player, and I felt that since he wasn't a huge celebrity that everyone would associate the name with, and that it wasn't a name in use in fantasy ficiton or game matieral anywhere else* that it would be fine to use for my R3 entry.

*it is actually used in for a wyrmling black dragon in an encounter in Monte Cook's Dungeon a Day, but that was after Monte solicited the members for a list of cool names that he could pick from when designing encounters. So, technically I've used the name twice now, and I'll now retire it from future use.


It's still a cool name. At least it had it's 15 minutes of fame.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka John Benbo

Joel, I just wanted to give you a shout out and thank you for your support of Apep's Head. I didn't want to comment before because of the villain and encounter rounds being tied together, but I think you did a great job with Voracek. I was considering a couple of villains but I kept coming back to him. Even though his description was a little light, I thought there was enough there for the GM to use and inspire adventures around him.

Curious, though, what did you have planned for Voracek's doomsday device? I didn't have enough words to detail it, but I was almost thinking some sort of petrifying ray that would turn everything into stone or metal. Kind of comic booky, but that was my first thought.

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

John, again, I'm glad you liked Voracek enough to use in R4. As for my plans for the conduit, I also was thinking along the lines of comic booky, but was thinking that it a) would allow Voracek a suite of powers related to each of the skymetals (something like a permanent haste effect from the Horacalcum, SR from the Noqual, etc.) and b) let Voracek transmute creatures into elementals that he could control, thus using it to create an army of earth elemental creatures to claim Gloraion in the name of Ayrzul.

I had breifly considered having Voracek use the power from the conduit to take the test of the Starstone, since it seems to be the largest concentration of skymetal on the planet, but in hindsight, I'm glad I didn't go that route, since becoming a god isn't really something a priest would do, since it would detract from their own diety, and also there was quite a bit of Test of the Starstone plans in R3.

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