Paizo Top Nav Branding
  • Hello, Guest! |
  • Sign In |
  • My Account |
  • Shopping Cart |
  • Help/FAQ
About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
Pathfinder Society

Pathfinder Beginner Box

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Pathfinder Comics

Pathfinder Legends

PaizoCon 2014!

Ankradula the Sane


Round 3 - Top 16: Create a villain stat block

1 to 50 of 68 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 aka The Leaping Gnome

Ankradula the Sane
Portrait: 12
Description: Ankradula is a slight, ashen-skinned humanoid wearing form-fitting black leather, with a shock of white hair that extends from her head in all directions. Her milky white eyes betray a power of focus and concentration alien to derro faces.
Motivations/Goals: Ankradula was cursed with sanity while attempting to capture subjects for experimentation from the Sarenrae temple in the Taldan city of Cassomir. Her lost madness led to her exile from the derro city of Corgunbier, and she abhors the company of other sane beings, instead cultivating an affinity with mindless oozes and vermin. Her driving force is to reclaim her madness and exact revenge for her condition.
Schemes/Plots/Adventure Hooks: In her exploration of the caverns beneath Cassomir, Ankradula discovered the prison of an ancient shoggoth, locked away in ages past by five clerics of different gods. She seeks to reverse their binding ritual by sacrificing a representative of each faith. Ankradula will then lead the beast to the surface, where she will allow it to devour her sanity as it destroys the city.

• Clerics have been disappearing from Cassomir’s various temples. The only clue linking them is a slimy residue.
• Dangerous vermin and ooze have begun to plague ordinarily quiet sewers, consistently approaching closer to the surface streets.

Ankradula the Sane CR 9
Female derro druid (cave druid, APG 99) 7
NE Small humanoid (derro)
Init +9; Senses darkvision 120 ft.; Perception +17
===== Defense =====
AC 23, touch 17, flat-footed 18; (+3 armor, +1 deflection, +5 Dex, +3 natural, +1 size)
hp 102 (3d8+7d8+57)
Fort +10, Ref +8, Will +12; +2 vs. ooze and aberration effects
Defensive Abilities resist subterranean corruption
Resist acid 10; SR 21
===== Offense =====
Speed 30 ft.
Melee +1 scythe +8/+3 (1d6/x4)
Ranged acid dart +13 (1d6+3 acid)
Special Attacks sneak attack +1d6
Domain Spell-Like Abilities (CL 7th, concentration +11)
7/day--acid dart
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 10th, concentration +11)
At will--darkness, ghost sound (DC 11)
1/day--daze (DC 11), sound burst (DC 13)
Druid Spells Prepared (CL 7th, concentration +11)
4th--freedom of movement, life bubble, spike stones(D) (DC 18)
3rd--aqueous orb (2, DC 17), meld into stone, stone shape(D)
2nd--barkskin (2), bear’s endurance, soften earth and stone(D), spider climb
1st--hydraulic push (3), longstrider, magic stone(D), pass without trace
0--create water, guidance, mending, resistance
===== Tactics =====
Before Combat Ankradula casts life bubble, longstrinder, and pass without trace every day. Before combat, Ankradula casts barkskin and freedom of movement.
During Combat Ankradula begins combat floating inside an advanced gelatinous cube, relying on her acid resistance, freedom of movement, and life bubble to keep her safe. She uses aqueous orb and hydraulic push to maneuver foes into previously prepared pits containing oozes or vermin. If the gelatinous cube paralyzes a foe, she takes the opportunity to perform a coup de grace.
Morale Ankradula attempts to flee if reduced to below 30 hit points.
===== Statistics =====
Str 9, Dex 20, Con 18, Int 12, Wis 18, Cha 12
Base Atk +7; CMB +5; CMD 21
Feats Blind-Fight, Deepsight, Improved Initiative, Toughness, Vermin Heart
Skills Knowledge (Dungeoneering) +16, Perception +17, Stealth +22, Survival +13, Swim +12
Languages Aklo, Common, Undercommon
SQ cavesense, lightfoot, nature bond (earth domain), poison use, sanity, tunnelrunner, wild empathy +8, wild shape 1/day
Combat Gear potion of cure moderate wounds; Other Gear +1 leather armor, +1 scythe, headband of inspired wisdom +2, ring of protection +1, spell component pouch, 267gp
===== Special Abilities =====
Sanity (Ex) Ankradula lacks the madness special ability.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

Good name! Feels very "derro" to me. :)

Interesting choice of a sane derro!

I like the tie-in to the shoggoth and its madness ability.

I'm not sure the lifebubble spell would protect her against the gelatinous cube's paralysis goo, so she's going to have to make a save every round. Unless you mean that her freedom of movement is what's protecting her against that, and she only jumped into the cube shortly before combat.

Nasty use of coup de grace on paralyzed opponents.

Nitpick time after a skim of the stat block:
Her speed is 30 feet, but derro have speed 20 ft. I'm not seeing any items or class abilities that improve her speed.

You scaled up her SR with her class levels, but that's not the default rule (drow are an exception).

You spelled longstrider wrong in the Before Combat section.

Because she was a normal derro at some point, you probably shouldn't reselect her racial feats to suit your character concept. I also wonder a bit about creatures with darkvision 120 feet that take Blind-Fight.

Earth domain should be capitalized.

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!

I like the premise that what's broken about Ankradula is that she’s gone sane. However, I wish there’d been some specific detail explaining how or why, which could lead to a nice connection to modus operandi or some other aspect of her character. Of course, it leads me to wonder why a sane derro would seek to have her sanity destroyed. Isn’t that an insane act? Initially it’s a tidy reversal of expectations, but it demands another detail of plausible if twisted motivation to make it work.

Strong basic concept, but the follow-through is disappointing.

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

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Alright, Trevor. Congratulations on making the Top 16. But, the competition gets a lot harder from here on out. And that's no different in how the judges will critique your stuff. 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:

Another derro. Interesting. You've chosen to take this monster in the direction of a cave druid archetype with an affinity for not only oozes, but also vermin. Nice touch. Descriptive text is a little short and, though I like much of the motivation and plot hooks, I'm looking for something a little more evil to her villainy...especially since she's a derro unsaddled with true madness...which I would take to mean that she can truly focus her devious mind of some massive villainy. Instead, the driving force of reclaiming her madness and taking revenge for her condition feels only half-baked to me. I'd have prefered to see you spin that into something else. So, it feels like a missed opportunity to do something really awesome.

Nevertheless, let's take a look at your stat-block. Hmmm...there's some stuff that seems off here. First and foremost, the ability scores are off. A derro usually has racial bonuses of +4 Dex, +8 Con, -6 Wis, and +6 Cha. And, by going for a druid, you've immediately built up a need for an increased Wisdom score. Thus, making her sane is paramount as that resets the racial modifiers for Wis and Cha back to zero. I can certainly see the justification for it, but even with that adjustment, I still can't figure out how you arrived at the rest of the ability scores. With both Int and Cha at 12 with no racial modifier or magical enhancements doesn't make sense...as there's only one 12 in an elite array of 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, and 8. Likewise, I'd assume you'd need your level-based ability score increase along with the headband of inspired wisdom +2 to reach a Wis 18...which means that level-based ability score increase wouldn't be available to bump up your 8 Str to a 9. Same goes for the Dex of 20. I just can't figure out how these ability scores make sense. So, this build is broken from the get-go. And that'll have a trickle-down effect on everything else.

The AC is also busted. You've given her barkskin as a Before Combat boost in her Tactics (which you've attempted to factor into the AC), but that should stack with the derro's natural armor bonus as a result of her race, bringing it to a total natural armor bonus of +5. Hit points are also miscalculated. You've got the right number of Hit Dice and bonus points, but it should be 104 rather than 102. You've also boosted her derro spell-like abilities according to her overall class level Hit Dice, as opposed to her racial Hit Dice. I believe that's a mistake, though Sean can likely set me right if I'm wrong. Your druid's wild shape ability should appear as a Special Attack rather than a Special Quality. And, it looks to me like you've overspent on gear by a few thousand gp's.

As far as your Tactics go, I like how you're thinking. This isn't your run-of-the-mill druid encounter. She's got ooze-based minions helping her. She's employing her spells and abilities to maximize her effectiveness. This could make for a pretty memorable encounter. But I'd still like to see the villainy turned up a notch to make it more than just an interesting battle against an evil opponent.

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: Average
Flavor Text: Good
Appropriate Archetype: Excellent
Interesting Tactics: Good
Stat-Block Execution: Very Poor

FINAL RECOMMENDATION: I think you kind of misfired a bit on the villain-meter and missed an opportunity to really turn it up a notch. And, though I liked your tactics, I think your mechanics and stat-block execution need help. Of course, much like John who also chose a derro, you're dealing with a monster that has class levels which can be tricky to figure out, so there's some degree of difficulty involved here, too.

That said, I do NOT recommend this villain to advance to the next round. There's just not quite enough on the villainy or technical execution of this design to pull through for me. But best of luck in the voting.

CEO, Goblinworks

Summary: 1.5 Points
Recommendation: Not recommended for advancement

Trevor 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?

Does your image look like a sane, ooze loving villain? I don't think it really does. But you did pick an image that looks like a derro and then made a derro character so you get half credit.

.5 Points

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

It's a derro that sanely hangs out with oozes and vermin. The value in the derro is the idea that they're a real-world source of nightmares - a creepy idea that says that not all dreams are imaginary.

Removing the madness of the derro archetype changes them from something interesting into just another underdark humanoid. This isn't adding value to my IP.

0 Points.

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

Your villain is a derro who is a druid, but is kind of acting like a cultist trying to free a shoggoth. Isn't that an insane act? Would a sane person want to become insane again? It seems that the only reason you made the character sane was to work within the druid class. The madness/sanity of the character is not really being used to any effect since she's acting insane anyway and trying to become insane again. Couldn't an insane derro be doing the exact same thing - unleashing a shoggoth is not the act of anyone rational.

0 Points.

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

Your sane derro druid rides around inside a gelatinous cube. That's pretty great as a visual and really great as a tabletop opponent. I almost don't care if this works mechanically - I'd be willing to handwave a wonderous item into existence to justify it if I felt I had to do so.

1 Point.

Paizo Employee Developer

Hey Trevor! 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?

You certainly took some risks on this. I think that making a "sane" derro is an interesting, memorable, and creative choice. Despite lacking actual madness according to the rules, she's still pretty crazy, and I like that. I'm less impressed with the weird ooze-riding thing she's got going on. Not only do I think she's not as immune to the cube's effects as she thinks she is, it's also a pretty complicated combat to run for a GM. I think there are better ways you could have capitalized on her "sanity" other than going this gonzo.

That said, if we take it as a given that she is in fact riding a gelatinous cube around, you've done some clever stuff with it. I love the coup de grace against paralyzed foes, if only because it really drives home that she's not-a-nice-yet-misunderstood-person. She's actually evil and villainous and the sort of thing PCs are supposed to go hate. I also think your plot hooks are good, simple, and thematic, especially when one considers the history of the bound shoggoth and the various faiths responsible for that (flavors of Rovagug's imprisonment, anyone?)

Moving on to stats, I'm not seeing any major presentation issues here, other than the misspelling of longstrider in the Before Combat section, and the omission of a Base Statistics section because she's assumed to be under the effects of that spell.

In all, I think most of my development time on this would be spent trying to wrangle such a bizarre concept, and then making sure that all the rules worked together to make the gimmick work, since a single wrong interpretation (like whether she has to save against paralysis every round) could completely nerf the whole thing. An adventure is like a house of cards, and it's the developer's job to make sure it's as stable as possible. This villain risks making even the most sturdy of plots incredibly flimsy.

Final verdict: I RECOMMEND this villain for advancement with trepidation, as the success or failure of the concept hangs from a very narrow thread. Best of luck in the vote.

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.

First off, I’m intrigued and a bit troubled by the idea of a sane derro, so…kudos to you. One riding around in a gelatinous cube? That’s both creep and very little strange. I guess derro sanity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, eh?

I’m not positive that life bubble protects against the cube’s anesthetizing slime, but it seems like it should, so I’m going to give that one a pass.

I really wish you would have called out the spells and feats you got from APG, I just think that’s good form.

Overall, I think your stats are pretty solid (I could quibble about some things, but they are only quibbly things). I’m personally fine with swapping racial feats, races should have an amount of diversity after all, especially when you make an exception to their standard, like Ankaradula here. I also question the Blind-Fight feat. I feel like you could have found something with a tad more punch. I wonder if you spent one too many rules items justifying Ankaradula’s strange mode of transportation.

Overall, cool, creepy, weird, old school without being too old school, if not a little wobbly around the foundation.

My recommendation is to advance this sane derro’s creator to the next round. Maybe I'm just a sucker for derro. Good luck in the voting, Trevor.


I don't know if I completely love this, but I might have to vote for it solely based on the cube-riding thing. (Even if I'm not 100% sure that mechanically works out?)

Osirion

Easily the coolest derro villain I've seen, ever. I love the plot hook about the shoggoth, and her vermin / ooze associations, particularly the advanced gelatinous cube 'mount.'

A derro, thrown out of derro society for being too sane? That's pretty wild.


You had me at druid.

I like the concept. It's a cool villian.

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

Yours is the derro I prefer. The seeking to reclaiming her madness hook is pretty delightful, and the link to oozes via cave druid works pretty darn well. Your flavor-text and your mechanics hook up nicely, which is something that hasn't happened often enough this competition.

Plus the ooze-riding is hilarious and awesome.

You've got one of my votes.

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

Alas, I hate both derros and druids. You're already working at a disadvantage for me. This is quite the pity, since I loved the Impaler. That said, I'll try to give this a fair shake.

The description for a derro's insanity says that only wish or miracle can restore a derro to sanity. I'm a little curious as to how Ankradula would have been "cursed" with sanity with that explicit requirement. I do realize that you only have 600 words, though.

Most of your feat choices are well-connected to the character description.

I would have liked to know which 5 gods that are being targeted.

Overall, while I'm cool to the concept, it's strong enough on its own merits to get a mild 'like' from me. I don't know if it's strong enough to vote for, but I certainly will consider it.


Meh. Not that interesting to me. You took the insanity, which makes the Derro awesome, and made it lame. I think it's like saying "The troll that can't regenerate" or the "Elf that sleeps" while it might add uniqueness, it takes away from the character as well. I agree with most of the other comments, and honestly; this next part could really be seen as me not being nice, but I think it's effective, constructive criticism over something that probably isn't a big deal but could be.

Spoiler:

You don't have to spell everything on the internet correct all the time. But when you're submitting something for a contest that hundreds of others were passed over for (not sour grapes, I'll get to my justification in a second) and you can't be bothered to spellcheck something or re-read it, then why should you be considered for advancement?

I went over a ton of applications today for my IRL job with my boss, and I deselected every candidate who misspelled or misused a word. He wanted to know why, and my reasoning was:
"In a job market suffering this badly, why should we give someone a chance who can't even re-read what they're submitting for a high paying management job?" If you're trying to be one of the "top" dogs (especially in a sales management team) why should you be selected if you don't have even that much of an attention for detail?

Yeah, I know it's kind of harsh criticism over one misspelled word, and nobody else really cares, and I'm sure someone will snipe at me for it, but that's my opinion. Three days isn't long, but if you prepared yourself before hand, and spent two minutes rereading your own writing, you'd find it.

That's all.

Osirion Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

I like both of the derros in the villain rooster. While I usually turn away from druid villains, as I encountered to many druid madmen trying to crush civilization during 3rd edition, this one is different - and making a derro villain creepy because she is sane is just a great Idea.
Voted.

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

Trevor,

Best of luck with your villain entry! Here's my thoughts, written before I've read anybody else's.

Concept: Great concept! You're playing beautifully off the insane derro, creating something really unique. Ankradula is very clear, well-defined, and colorful.

Plot Hooks: Clear and very good for bringing the PCs into conflict with your villain. I will say that "release the mighty uber-monster" is not the most original plotline out there, but it's plenty good, and this sounds like a fun story arc.

Mechanics: I love the combat tactics! You do a great job of spotlighting Ankradula's connection to the oozes, in lots of different ways - and using that to create a really unique battle scene. Fighting inside a felatinous cube! Wow! Now I want to do that! Kudos, sir.

Use of Archetype: Perfect. You chose an archetype that lent itself well to a themed villain; you justify it in the villains history and motivation; you feature it in the plot; you create an awesome battle scene tailored to its specific abilities and theme. Way to go :D

Use of Portrait: Excellent match with an unusual portrait. Cool!

All in all, this is a real winner IMHO. Creative, polished, and fun. Wishing you lots of luck! :)

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 aka The Leaping Gnome

Thank you everyone for your feedback and support! I look forward to responding to your comments after voting has ended.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013

unlike others. the name didn't grab me. All I could think of was Waspinator.

Spoiler:

Blackarachnia: Shrapnel? That was a Decepticon from the Great War three centuries ago! He's wacko.
Waspinator: Wacko? No, Wonko! Wonko the Sane! [salutes the audience, then begins punching his own head]

How she became sane doesn't worry me. I think it's kind of a wasted oportunity though.

Sorry Trevor, I'm not going to vote for this.


@ Neil - So I looked up the stats on the derro, and looked at page 297 of the Bestiary to check class levels as they are applied to monsters and it would seem that the bonuses are +4,+4,+2,+2,+0 and -2. Add in the stat bonus from Hit Die 4 and 8 and you get Str -2, Dex +4 (and +1 from Hit Die 4), Con +0, Int +2. Losing Madness drives Wisdom up +6 (+4, and +1 from Hit Die 8) and Cha -6 (+2). His stats appear to be right on. I believe you also said this about the other derro, Meneena, on the list, but I think you may be using the conversion rules from 3.5.
The AC is indeed busted, but her hp is spot on. 4.5 multiplied by 10 is 45, plus 57 (4 Con times 10 hit die, 10 from toughness and 7 from Favored Class), is 102. This appears, again, to be correct.
I also looked up the gear. She gets 10,050. That is EXACTLY how much she has in gear. I ran the calculation, but I can put it here if you like. How did you get a couple thousand less? Heroic level CR 9 creatures get 10,050, according to table 14-9, pg 454.

@Sean K Reynolds -

Sean K. Reynolds wrote:

Her speed is 30 feet, but derro have speed 20 ft. I'm not seeing any items or class abilities that improve her speed.

You spelled longstrider wrong in the Before Combat section.

I don't mean to point out the obvious, especially with rules master Sean, but....I believe longstrider makes up for the 10 speed you are missing.

Also, I do not think there is any question whether or not Freedom of Movement makes you immune to paralysis.

PathfinderSRD.com wrote:
This spell enables you or a creature you touch to move and attack normally for the duration of the spell, even under the influence of magic that usually impedes movement, such as paralysis, solid fog, slow, and web.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

Anuvin wrote:
I don't mean to point out the obvious, especially with rules master Sean, but....I believe longstrider makes up for the 10 speed you are missing.

Yep.

Anuvin wrote:
Also, I do not think there is any question whether or not Freedom of Movement makes you immune to paralysis.

Right, I was referring to the Tactics entry that says, "Before combat, Ankradula casts barkskin and freedom of movement." It was really a timing issue for me, as she has to cast two spells and then climb into the cube before combat starts. It's not a big deal, and if I got this in a turnover I'd just ask the designer a question about what was going on, and update the text to clarify.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Anuvin wrote:
@ Neil - So I looked up the stats on the derro, and looked at page 297 of the Bestiary to check class levels as they are applied to monsters and it would seem that the bonuses are +4,+4,+2,+2,+0 and -2. Add in the stat bonus from Hit Die 4 and 8 and you get Str -2, Dex +4 (and +1 from Hit Die 4), Con +0, Int +2. Losing Madness drives Wisdom up +6 (+4, and +1 from Hit Die 8) and Cha -6 (+2). His stats appear to be right on. I believe you also said this about the other derro, Meneena, on the list, but I think you may be using the conversion rules from 3.5.

I know I'm definitely not using the conversion rules from 3.5. I just applied the spreadsheet technology from Paizo to the equation. Initially, I know I did have a hiccup where I wasn't compensating for the "sane" adjustments, but I went back to recompute it after Sean pointed that out for me. Still didn't add up. I'm at the office at the moment, but I'll likely pull the spreadsheet again tonight and review it once more. Anything I cited above on this design (number-wise) wasn't a snap assessment. I actually spent more time trying to analyze this one than the others.

Anuvin wrote:
The AC is indeed busted, but her hp is spot on. 4.5 multiplied by 10 is 45, plus 57 (4 Con times 10 hit die, 10 from toughness and 7 from Favored Class), is 102. This appears, again, to be correct.

I think you're right on that one. Maybe when I reviewed the hit point calculation, I did so based on the stat rejiggering I was having to do in the spreadsheet? Regardless, as presented in the stat-block here, the final result is correct. The underlying basis for the Con modifier might be what caused the difference in my comparison.

Anuvin wrote:

I also looked up the gear. She gets 10,050. That is EXACTLY how much she has in gear. I ran the calculation, but I can put it here if you like. How did you get a couple thousand less? Heroic level CR 9 creatures get 10,050, according to table 14-9, pg 454.

I'll check this one, too. I usually started adding up the gear costs one item at a time and once I outstripped the "Wealth by CR" value, I stopped counting. I'm not sure which item put this one over the top for me. But it should be recorded in my analysis somewhere.

Regardless, I will point out that I think Sean took the right approach with the stat-block analysis. It's not so much the numerical differences that matter. The spreadsheet Paizo uses will identify those kinds of problems early on for a designer. It's the other stuff that the built-in math and table lookups of the spreadsheet can't help you with that's most important to assess. Still, I think there's some value in making sure designers (and hence, RPG Superstar competitors) have a feel for the underlying rules mechanics and number-crunching so they can get a sense when something is off in their work.

Thanks for taking the extra time to check me. I would have been really surprised if everything I checked was absolutely perfect. And I knew the voters would have a lot more time to verify and validate than the judges get.

--Neil

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013

This is really interesting. A previously insane member of a villainous race, cured of her mental instability only to go off and do even more villainous things in an effort to lose her mind again. Makes you wonder if they know something we don't. Very cool, very unusual but very cool.


Neil Spicer wrote:
I'll check this one, too. I usually started adding up the gear costs one item at a time and once I outstripped the "Wealth by CR" value, I stopped counting. I'm not sure which item put this one over the top for me. But it should be recorded in my analysis somewhere.

I went back to check these figures. I don't know which item pushes it over, but if you find it, please let me know.

I would also like to see what the stats should be, if not what is written, if you can find some time in what I am sure must already be a busy day to let me know your reference documentation.

Neil Spicer wrote:

Still, I think there's some value in making sure designers (and hence, RPG Superstar competitors) have a feel for the underlying rules mechanics and number-crunching so they can get a sense when something is off in their work.

Thanks for taking the extra time to check me. I would have been really surprised if everything I checked was absolutely perfect. And I knew the voters would have a lot more time to verify and validate than the judges get.

I couldn't agree with you more about developers and RPG Superstar contestants needing to have an exceptional understanding of the rules. I have to quadruple check things when I make anything because my memory of the rules gets muddy sometimes. I do have lots of time to make sure that the stats are good, and I vote based on mechanics, but that is what stopped me. This entry, despite a couple errors, is by and large mechanically excellent, as far as I can tell with the rulebooks I have.

I wouldn't say this if I didn't think the entry was solid. I also wouldn't waste my time telling you if I thought you wouldn't care, or couldn't take the criticism. I respect that you must have a fantastic grip of the rules and I respect you as a fellow rules-lawyer. But I do want to know what the numbers really are, because that is how I vote.

Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

That's funny. The name makes me think of Dracula.

Did get one of my votes though :)

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Anuvin wrote:
Re: Overspending on Gear...I went back to check these figures. I don't know which item pushes it over, but if you find it, please let me know.

I found my answer here. Basically, the spreadsheet isn't looking up the correct wealth level based on the table. Apparently, I've stumbled across one more bug to raise with Sean so he can adjust the calculations on the table. He may have already fixed it...as the version I'm using is dated from September of last year when I was working on Carrion Crown.

Regardless, the gear expenses for Ankradula are spot-on. Criticism retracted.

Anuvin wrote:
I would also like to see what the stats should be, if not what is written...

I figured it out. Here's where our combined analysis diverged...

Spoiler:

A basic derro has Str 11, Dex 15, Con 18, Int 10, Wis 5, Cha 16. These scores result from an underlying array of 11, 11, 10, 10, 11, 10 with racial adjustments of +4 Dex, +8 Con, -6 Wis, and +6 Cha. If you remove a derro's insanity, the Wis and Cha racial modifiers reset to zero, leaving only a +4 Dex and +8 Con. In addition, by assigning Ankradula class levels to go along with her racial Hit Dice, the underlying scores can be further adjusted by -2 Str, +4 Dex, +2 Int, +4 Wis, and +2 Cha to bring her more in line with what an elite array would be. Throw on a headband of inspired wisdom +2 and a +1 level-based ability score bonus at 4th level and you can get Akradula to Str 9, Dex 20, Con 18, Int 12, Wis 17, Cha 12...which is pretty much what we've got except for the Wis 18 Trevor gave her. So, even going this route still results in the ability scores being off...just not by the wide margin I had originally assessed.

However, the method by which I actually crunched the numbers the first time started from a different angle. I chose not to go with the +4, +4, +2, +2, +0, -2 adjustments to the base derro. Instead, I rebuilt it from scratch. Thus, I determined what the derro's racial modifiers would be for a sane derro (i.e., +4 Dex, +8 Con). Then, I used the elite array of 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, and 8...threw on the level-based bonus from 4th level and the headband of inspired wisdom +2. Obviously, this arrives at a much different conclusion, as follows:

Base assignment:
Str 8, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 15, Cha 13

Add racial modifiers (+4 Dex, +8 Con)
Add level-based modifier (+1 Wis)
Add headband of inspired wisdom +2 (+2 Wis)

Final result:
Str 8, Dex 18, Con 18, Int 12, Wis 18, Cha 13

The difference maker for me is that I've always prefered the "build from scratch" method than the "boost with +4, +4, +2, +2, +0, -2" method, because the latter approach lets you basically turn two base scores of 11 into 15's by applying your two +4's there. When, in reality if you applied the "+4, +4, +2, +2, +0, -2" method to the base array of 11, 11, 11, 10, 10, 10 it gives you an 11+4 (15), 10+4 (14), 11+2 (13), 10+2 (12), 10+0 (10), 11-2 (9)...which results in 1 better than the elite 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 array by replacing it with a 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 9 array. In addition, it gets further out of whack if you get to apply those higher bonus adjustments to all the underlying 11's instead of including some 10's. So, it's just not my prefered way of changing a base creature when you're assigning it class levels. Yes, it's a quicker method. And yes, that's allowable as laid out in the rules. I just go a different route...and I shouldn't have in this case.

Instead, as you laid out, the "+4, +4, +2, +2, +0, -2" method can be applied here just as easily. As far as I can tell, though, it still leaves the final array of ability scores off by 1...either on Dex or Wis, depending on where you spend the level-based adjustment. Given the final tally here, I'm left a little curious as to whether Trevor might have originally statted the derro as an 8th level druid and maybe had two level-based ability score increases to spend...then scaled it back to a 7th level druid to meet the CR requirement and just forgot to take out one of the level-based increases? I'm still unsure.

Regardless, that's apparently the explanation. And the whole exercise of going back through it was worthwhile (for me at least).

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

Trevor Merback wrote:

Ankradula the Sane

The name just rolls off the tongue (ankh-rah-doola), no goofy, hard to pronounce strings of characters that people seem overly fond of but nobody says it the same way twice. Adding "the Sane" creates just enough interest to draw you in for more. +1

Trevor Merback wrote:

Description: Ankradula is a slight, ashen-skinned humanoid wearing form-fitting black leather, with a shock of white hair that extends from her head in all directions. Her milky white eyes betray a power of focus and concentration alien to derro faces.

Oddly this description didn't do anything for me. Form-fitting black leather? Is she a biker? And, "...white hair that extends from her head..." reads off to me. How about, "White shocks of hair splay wildly about her head"? I'm also not sure how milky white eyes betray focus.

Trevor Merback wrote:

Motivations/Goals: Ankradula was cursed with sanity while attempting to capture subjects for experimentation from the Sarenrae temple in the Taldan city of Cassomir. Her lost madness led to her exile from the derro city of Corgunbier, and she abhors the company of other sane beings, instead cultivating an affinity with mindless oozes and vermin. Her driving force is to reclaim her madness and exact revenge for her condition.

Oh no, you broke the game! Someone that is seeking insanity?!?! What a very nice surprise. "Abhors the company of other sane beings" and then preferring mindless oozes is (gooey) icing on the cake. This is a great paragraph both for plot development and readability. +1

Trevor Merback wrote:

Schemes/Plots/Adventure Hooks: In her exploration of the caverns beneath Cassomir, Ankradula discovered the prison of an ancient shoggoth, locked away in ages past by five clerics of different gods. She seeks to reverse their binding ritual by sacrificing a representative of each faith. Ankradula will then lead the beast to the surface, where she will allow it to devour her sanity as it destroys the city.

• Clerics have been disappearing from Cassomir’s various temples. The only clue linking them is a slimy residue.
• Dangerous vermin and ooze have begun to plague ordinarily quiet sewers, consistently approaching closer to the surface streets.

This is like the climax of a novel. You hint at the villain's condition earlier and then punch it in with vivid details. I can't wait to play this villain! And I won't have to because you give good reasons for my PCs to go find her. +1

Trevor Merback wrote:
[STAT BLOCK]

As long as it's close, that's all I care about. Perfect numbers are never a factor in my games as long as they don't go too far off the reservation.

Trevor Merback wrote:

Before Combat Ankradula casts life bubble, longstrinder, and pass without trace every day. Before combat, Ankradula casts barkskin and freedom of movement.

During Combat Ankradula begins combat floating inside an advanced gelatinous cube, relying on her acid resistance, freedom of movement, and life bubble to keep her safe. She uses aqueous orb and hydraulic push to maneuver foes into previously prepared pits containing oozes or vermin. If the gelatinous cube paralyzes a foe, she takes the opportunity to perform a coup de grace.

As a GM, this is what I really care about. Is this villain bringing anything new to the table that my players will remember later. I want them glued to the table during combat -- and a gelatinous cube encased derro is hard to forget!

Then, you make sure to include clever combat maneuvers during combat. +1

As a GM, this has everything I want in a villain.

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

I like the "wants to be insane again" part a fair bit. I'm pretty sure I've come across it before, but not very often, and it's a nice tweak on what constitutes "normal" for a derro.

Not so big a fan of riding in a gelatinous cube.

Of the two derro, I'd have to say I prefer this one. But after reading it, I'm going to have to push them into my no-vote pile. This one's a better concept than the other, but neither one's grabbing me enough for the win.

It's solidly in the top half for the round, if I had more than 4 votes you'd get one. Hope to see you in the semis!

Edit: since it turns out we have eight votes, you're in, along with the other derro.


Why is she a cave druid? Other than living in a cave, her motive for being a villain is to release the shoggoth. It has nothing to do with preserving the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites.

Otherwise, I think the core idea of being sane and wanting to be insane kills this one for me. Sure, it's unique, but it doesn't make sense on several levels. Namely, I don't care how much you miss the good old days, if you were once insane, and now you're sane, part of that sanity is realizing that being insane really isn't that desirable.

You get huge points for the ooze riding thing, but I don't think that's enough for me to vote this one into the next round. Best of luck.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Russ Taylor wrote:
It's solidly in the top half for the round, if I had more than 4 votes you'd get one. Hope to see you in the semis!

You have 8 votes this round, Russ.

Taldor

I don't think she's as sane as she thinks she is...

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

Neil Spicer wrote:
Russ Taylor wrote:
It's solidly in the top half for the round, if I had more than 4 votes you'd get one. Hope to see you in the semis!
You have 8 votes this round, Russ.

Figured that out in the booth, oops :)

I assumed we'd shrink as the rounds did. Happy to have 8, though, it help get a more representative voting sample on the middle-of-the-pack entries.

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

Anuvin, I just want to say how great it is that you double-checked Neil's math on this, and spoke up to make sure Trevor was getting a fair trial. That's a lot of hard work, but certainly not thankless - Trevor must be overjoyed at your efforts, not being able to correct Neil himself with his original calculations. So until Trevor's allowed to thank you himself, I just wanted to say how impressed I am, and how great it is that community members are willing to do so much to encourage the contestants - all the contestants - and help them along in any way they can. Kudos.

And, on an entirely different note:

EngineerAuthorMan wrote:
Why is she a cave druid? Other than living in a cave, her motive for being a villain is to release the shoggoth. It has nothing to do with preserving the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites.

Because (A) she's a derro, who live underground to begin with, so a cave druid is a lot more natural than any other type of druid, and (B) because of her described affinity to oozes.


The "riding inside an ooze" concept sounded familiar to me, so I ran a search and found a 3rd edition DnD item in the Arms and Equipment Guide called the Amulet of Ooze Riding (28,000 gp). So, at least the idea that someone can safely stay inside an ooze with magical protection has existed for a while.

Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

Whoa, this entry conjures a lot of vivid images. Derro incased in Gelatinous Cube is just the icing on the cake.

This has what I need, a nice concept that almost automatically translates into a plotline AND a memorable BBEG encounter with things not seen 100 times before.

Very nice work!


Neil, thanks for taking the time to go through that with me. I really appreciate it.

Standback, thank you for your kind words. I am just part of a group of dudes who are very rules conscious, and in building a somewhat similar character I ran into the same issues that required a fair amount of referencing rules again and again. I am betting that Trevor had to go through similarly horrible rule decisions and I wanted to see that his work had been recognized for it's complexity.

Trevor, good luck with this submission. As Neil, Meneena's creator John Bennet, and myself now know, you must have really worked hard to make this work out as well as you did.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Anuvin wrote:
Neil, thanks for taking the time to go through that with me. I really appreciate it.

No problem. I'm glad you asked about it.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

Perhaps I've misunderstood, but it appears to me that Trevor did apply the 8th level ability boost, because the creature has a total of more than 8 HD (the logic would be that the 4th level ability boost actually came when she took her first druid level, putting her total HD at 4).

Rereading the rules I now see that ability bonuses only come for additional hit dice. But if this is a mistake then it's a mistake I probably would have made too.


Nicolas Quimby wrote:


Rereading the rules I now see that ability bonuses only come for additional hit dice. But if this is a mistake then it's a mistake I probably would have made too.

I DID make this mistake as well. I thought the 8th level hit die would confer the ability score that is missing, but upon rereading, I found the rules on this matter to be vague, as many game rules at this level of complexity seem to be. I am still not sure what the rule is supposed to be.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

Anyway.. the concept here is great, but it could have been so much better with better development. I see potential for some really creepy commentary on the nature of sanity, possibly supplemented by WHAT IS A MAN levels of existential angst and/or deliciously cheesy dialogue. It also works on a lovecraftian level, with the creepy cultist seeking out a shoggoth in a desperate bid to flee from sanity, and that's cool.

When I read this, I read "madness" as referring to the madness of the derro; a feyish, madcap delirium which acts more like a security blanket than anything, allowing them to function and insulating them from the cruelty of their situation. To be "sane", in this context, is to be bereft of this security blanket: to see the world in cruel and perfect clarity, with no delusions to fall back on. It's easy to imagine why such a creature might want to go back. Sure, by any human-centric standard of sanity she's still pretty crazy, but the very nature of the character challenges the validity of that human-centric reasoning (forcing one to ask what sanity is), and that's one of its strengths.

The reason I say it needed more development is that I'm not sure if everyone else is (or can be expected to) see it the way I am. Admittedly, you had very few words to work with, but with good writing your description of her mental state could have set a much stronger and more compelling tone, making it easier for the reader's imagination to fill in the gaps. As a DM, I have to work to believe in this, because on the first-read-through it fell kind of flat.


Nicolas Quimby wrote:
Rereading the rules I now see that ability bonuses only come for additional hit dice. But if this is a mistake then it's a mistake I probably would have made too.

I did make this mistake when trying to go over Trevor's stat block, and I can see why you and he also made this mistake. Like you, I am not even sure if this is a mistake. Upon rereading the rules I still cannot figure it out, because the rules on this matter are a little vague, or maybe I am not understanding them correctly.

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

It's on page 296 of the Bestiary:
Step 3: Ability Scores
Once you have determined the number of additional Hit Dice
possessed by the creature, use this number to modify its other
statistics. Start with ability scores. For every 4 additional Hit
Dice gained by the monster, add 1 to one of its ability scores.
In addition, make any modifications to its ability scores
based on an increase in size, as noted on Table 2–2.

Star Voter 2013

The main hook is that this particular derro is sane. But how are the PCs ever going to find that out? He's trying to end the world, hangs out with oozes and fights within a GCube. If it looks like a duck... That, plus the stat block problems...

Wait, there aren't major stat block problems! The speed's right, the equipment's right and the ability score are off by only 1 point in one category.

Judges, this is the third submission where the judges have made a mistake that framed the response of one or more judges. I haven't even read half of the submissions yet. And this is the first year where it's been a problem to this degree.

I know you can't edit your posts, so please be even more careful than usual. It would be a shame if one of these people missed out by a single vote due to judge error.

In short, I'll probably vote for this submission just to make up for a lost vote due to these circumstances. Trevor, you might have gotten my vote anyway on the merits, but you'll never know because I feel obligated to give you a makeup vote due to several egregious judge errors. Good luck next round.


Russ Taylor wrote:

It's on page 296 of the Bestiary:

Step 3: Ability Scores
Once you have determined the number of additional Hit Dice
possessed by the creature, use this number to modify its other
statistics. Start with ability scores. For every 4 additional Hit
Dice gained by the monster, add 1 to one of its ability scores.
In addition, make any modifications to its ability scores
based on an increase in size, as noted on Table 2–2.

That is what I found too, but it says additional, and that is where I am getting tripped up. I can't decide if that means that the stats are spot on, or one off. If you are right Russ, then the stats are indeed right on.

Any judges (other than Neil whose time I have wasted enough) want to weigh in on this?

Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

Ankradula gets my vote.

Lately I've been passing on the judges comments. I might read them after reading the entry, I might not, and I'm doing this for many of the same reasons that others have noted above.

So, congratulations Trevor, you and Ankradula earn one of my votes. :)

Good Luck in the next round.

~Dean

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

I might have to go through this round a bit more quickly.

Despite some small writing concerns, this is a good start to my reading, using D&D and Golarion canon well and presenting a clear motive to cause trouble.

Shadow Lodge

For me, and how I've always used the rules, the stats are correct.

That said, I KNEW ooze-riding had been done before (thanks for the find!). Its not the villain's whole gimmick, but it is still a decent chunk of it. I think the method used feels a bit clunky to me, so this entry is on the fence.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

Actually, I think that "additional hitdice" is pretty clear; my guess is that the author of that section wanted to avoid the implication that high-HD monsters have already gained several "level-based" ability boosts, which would need to be calculated separately and may unnecessarily complicate monster design. But IANAJ

My last couple posts were rushed (I won't be online for much of this voting period), but to clarify a bit, I do think that the concept of the durro trying to be rid of her own sanity is really cool, and I don't think that's an accident. I think Mr Merback had a killer concept here. But just a little more love for her history, personality, and/or motivation would have done a lot to bring the character to life. As written, in my eyes, she doesn't live.

Admittedly that's easy for me to say, because I don't have to stare down such a stiff wordcount (case in point: Ankradula's actual description is about 3/4ths as long as my own last post in this thread). But I still think it's a too-rushed and too-clinical treatment of what could be a very compelling character; maybe the stat block could have suffered (by making her lower level), maybe the writing could have been approached differently, or maybe the concept just wasn't a great fit for the contest. I don't really have the answer there, but suffice to say that I'm still interested in what this author may do in the future.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 aka The Leaping Gnome

I'd like to thank everyone once again for the feedback! Keep it coming, I love it all.

Star Voter 2013

This one has really grown on me over the past few days, like a good ooze or slime should ;)

I think I voted for it already, but now I prefer it to the other Derro, and will happily vote for it on its own merits, rather than just voting for you based on your prior work.


Spoiler:
You get a vote from me

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

I think he attempt to use life bubble to remain unparalyzed is cool and the coup de grace detail is vicious. Vicious and cool are great ways to start a villain.

Now, I think there's some disconnect in the sane/insane paradigm. Summoning a shoggoth in order to sacrifice the lives of thousands in order to lose your sanity is not sane. But it is evil an villainous. Giving a clearer motivation would have maybe brought this one all the way home. Maybe the shoggoth contacts her in her uniquely sane/insane dreams. It tells her how it can be free, maybe dominates her somehow, or promises that it can amke her whole again and bring acceptance. Maybe you describe that with sanity come burdens like headaches, responsibility, moral compassing, and that torments her - she just wants the freedom that comes with unaccountable, broken thought.

So, tactically you ahve one of the more unique presentations, but you ahve stat block errors and your fluf leaves out some details I feel would be essential in published work.

Not unlike your derro, I'm torn.

1 to 50 of 68 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Paizo / Messageboards / Paizo Publishing / RPG Superstar™ / Previous Contests / RPG Superstar™ 2011 / Round 3 - Top 16: Create a villain stat block / Ankradula the Sane All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.

©2002–2014 Paizo Inc.®. Need help? Email customer.service@paizo.com or call 425-250-0800 during our business hours: Monday–Friday, 10 AM–5 PM Pacific Time. View our privacy policy. Paizo Inc., Paizo, the Paizo golem logo, Pathfinder, the Pathfinder logo, Pathfinder Society, GameMastery, and Planet Stories are registered trademarks of Paizo Inc., and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Pathfinder Player Companion, Pathfinder Modules, Pathfinder Tales, Pathfinder Battles, Pathfinder Online, PaizoCon, RPG Superstar, The Golem's Got It, Titanic Games, the Titanic logo, and the Planet Stories planet logo are trademarks of Paizo Inc. Dungeons & Dragons, Dragon, Dungeon, and Polyhedron are registered trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., and have been used by Paizo Inc. under license. Most product names are trademarks owned or used under license by the companies that publish those products; use of such names without mention of trademark status should not be construed as a challenge to such status.