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Anzu


Round 3 - Top 16: Create a CR 7 Golarion monster

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 aka MythMage

Anzu CR 7
XP 3,200
CE Large magical beast
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +14
Aura whispers of false promise (30 ft., DC 19)

----- Defense -----
AC 20, touch 11, flat-footed 18 (+2 Dex, +9 natural, -1 size)
hp 84 (9d10+36)
Fort +10, Ref +8, Will +7
Resist electricity 10, sonic 10

----- Offense -----
Speed 40 ft., fly 40 ft. (moderate)
Melee 2 bites +12 (1d8+4 and devour hope), 2 claws +12 (1d6+4)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks devour hope, howl of despair, rend (2 bites, 1d8+6)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 6th; concentration +10)
At will—detect thoughts (DC 15), gust of wind (DC 15)
1/day—malicious spite (DC 17), reckless infatuation (DC 16), suggestion (DC 16)

----- Statistics -----
Str 19, Dex 15, Con 18, Int 16, Wis 15, Cha 18
Base Atk +9; CMB +14; CMD 27
Feats Ability Focus (whispers of false promise), Diehard, Endurance, Iron Will
Skills Bluff +12, Diplomacy +12, Fly +14, Perception +14, Stealth +14; Racial Modifiers +4 Stealth
Languages Aklo, Common, Gnome
SQ change shape (human, alter self)

----- Ecology -----
Environment any plains
Organization solitary or pair
Treasure standard

----- Special Abilities -----
Devour Hope (Su) Whenever an anzu hits with a bite attack, it can feed on the emotional strength of its victim, gaining 5 temporary hit points and suppressing for 1 round all effects currently granting him a morale bonus unless he succeeds on a Will save (DC 17). If the victim has no such effects, the anzu does not gain hit points and the victim is instead shaken for 1 round on a failed save. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Howl of Despair (Su) As a standard action every 1d4 rounds, the anzu can give voice to an ear-splitting howl laced with pure doubt and regret. All creatures within a 30-ft. cone suffer 4d6 sonic damage and must attempt a Will save (DC 17). Those that fail the save are shaken for 1 minute. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Whispers of False Promise (Su) When any creature approaches within 30 feet of an anzu, barely-audible whispers of reckless encouragement crowd the edges of their thoughts. Those that fail a Will save (DC 19) are affected as if by delusional pride. Once a creature saves against this ability, he is immune to that anzu's whispers of false promise for 24 hours. Whenever a victim succumbs to a fear effect while suffering from this pride, the mingling of contradictory emotions renders him confused for 1 round. The save DC is Charisma-based and includes a +2 bonus from Ability Focus.

An anzu has a catlike body with striped purple scales and wings with brittle-seeming feathers that shine like melting glass. It has two eagle-like heads with violet eyes that seem to stare hungrily into one's heart.

Said to be the misbegotten spawn of Imbrex and another, bird-like Eldest, anzus are creatures of conflict and tension. These capricious beasts delight in the flesh of a mortal who has experienced an extreme range of emotions just before death, savoring the entwined taste of triumph cut short by despair, fear laced with hope, or shame mixed with pride. The longer and more intense the mixing, the richer the flavor. An anzu may collect useful and life-saving magic items, hide them in old ruins among difficult but surmountable hazards, and reveal the location to desperate mortals just when all hope seems lost. Then, once the pain and relief has been fully felt, the anzu inevitably returns in its true form to feast on the unsuspecting prey.

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

David, good job advancing to Round 3!

What I am looking for:I’m a big picture guy more than a minute details guy. I don’t think just seeing if you crunched out the rules properly is the right way to judge a good entry for this round. Of course you need to execute the stat block properly. Luckily, Sean, Neil and others are way more qualified than I am to talk about the nit picks and issues with the stat block so I will leave that to them. My comments to you will be more “big picture.” For me, I want to see a monster that is fun and playable—a monster that leaps of the page and makes me find a way to incorporate it at the game table. That, to me, is a superstar monster. So here we go…

Initial Impression: "An anzu has a catlike body with striped purple scales and wings with brittle-seeming feathers that shine like melting glass. It has two eagle-like heads with violet eyes that seem to stare hungrily into one's heart." Wait, what? This thing is like some bummer chimera of despair. It’s bumming me out just reading it.

The Concept (name, overall design choices, design niche, playability/usability, challenge): B
Not feeling the gonzo cat/bird/insect thing. The despair-based abilities are interesting, but I don’t know if you have a well-defined design idea here. It also seems rather thrown together, like maybe you ran into time constraints and had to finish up an idea that was never fully formed. Not sure. That said, mish-mash, chimera-style creatures are a staple of fantasy so I don’t have a major problem with it and the power mish-mash kind of (I said, “kind of”) fits the hodge-podge of the creature.

Execution (quality of writing, organization, Golarion-specific, use of proper format, quality of content—description, summary of powers, rules execution, mechanics innovation): B-
No read aloud text or description? That’s a big miss. Plus, I don’t like the meta-game element of the monster design: “An anzu may collect useful and life-saving magic items, hide them in old ruins among difficult but surmountable hazards, and reveal the location to desperate mortals just when all hope seems lost. Then, once the pain and relief has been fully felt, the anzu inevitably returns in its true form to feast on the unsuspecting prey.” This is a bit too meta-game for me. What a convenient excuse for a dungeon and for hiding useful level-appropriate magic items. Don't try to explain that. It’s part of our willing suspension of disbelief. That said, I like some of the despair powers. They are different and unusual.

Tilt (did it grab me, do I want to use one in an adventure?, mojo, just plain fun factor): B-
I know this is subjective (thus the heading) but there is nothing about this monster that makes me say, “Ohhh! I can already think of 10 awesome ways to use this! This is great!” That is what a superstar monster has to do for me, and this didn’t, sorry to say. I hope the voters see it differently.

Overall: B-
Real interesting take on the despair theme, but I felt you were hurt by a lack of clear focus and a monster that just didn’t make me jump up and shout.

The real question, though, is: If an Anzu and a Laru mated, would it make a Lanzu or an Anru? All I know is they would both be bummed from all the touching and likely their love child would be clinically depressed.

Recommendation: I DO NOT RECOMMEND voters consider this monster to advance to the Top 8.

Your clockwork conscience was a personal favorite and I thought the Dreamstitchers were good, but I wondered if the idea for them was fully baked. Now this monster comes along and I see a similar problem—it just doesn’t seem all the way done. I was hoping you would pick it up this round and really remove that concern for me and I don’t feel you have done that. In years past, designers have been allowed a misstep in a round and this may be yours. Certainly the strength of your other work may lead voters to give you a pass into the next round. If they do, you better rediscover that initial mojo!

I have to say, however, that you have done some good work here and I hope the voters see this differently than I do. Good luck!

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Hey, David...welcome to Round 3. This carousel doesn't end until you either fall out of the competition or win the whole thing. You've been chugging along and making your way through the competition as best you can so far. Let's see what you've given us this time around.

Wall of Text:

Spoiler:

First off, going into monster design, a freelance designer has to recognize certain basic elements of the game...the give-and-take of all the variables upon which it's mechanically founded. The most important defining characteristic (which has a trickle down effect) in monster design is its Challenge Rating (CR). The rules for Round 3 already told you what that would be...i.e., CR 7. Thus, the "test" for this round isn't just determining if you can cook up a really great idea for a monster. It's also to see how well you can interpret what a CR 7 monster is meant to have, mechanically-speaking, that distinguishes it from a CR 6 or a CR 8 monster.

So, what are the trickle down effects you need to know for a CR 7 creature? In general, its AC should be around 20. Its hit points should be around 85. Its best saving throws should be around +10 and its weaker saving throws should still be around +6. The damage curve potential for a combat-focused CR 7 monster should be around a +13 attack inflicting an average of 22-30 points of damage per round if all its attacks manage to hit an opponent. Even a less combat-focused CR 7 monster should still have around a +10 attack and the DCs for any special abilities or SLAs should be a DC 17 for a primary power and a DC 12 for a lesser power. There's still wiggle room within these numbers, but typically, if you make one of those things higher or lower, you want to offset it with a variation in one of the other statistics above.

Additionally, monsters should be built around the non-standard array for their ability scores (i.e., 11, 11, 11, 10, 10, 10) before applying racial adjustments. These adjustments should always come in even-numbered increments (i.e., +2, +4, +6, etc.). That means for a basic monster design, you should end up with three odd-numbered ability score values and three even-numbered ability score values.

Okay. With all that serving as your baseline, let's see where you've taken us...

Creativity Factor:
It's a weird magical beast that likes to use and feed off emotion effects, seemingly with a connection to the First World (given the languages of Aklo and Gnome)...

Some of the special abilities you've crafted are actually kind of cool. The whispers of false promise is a neat aura ability to give a monster. And connecting it to one of the new spell effects like delusional pride is a nice touch. I also like the devour hope effect from its bite attacks, granting it the means to strip away some of those annoying morale bonuses various spells and bard performances grant. It's an interesting niche to develop a monster around. And there's an underlying storytelling element reinforcing it. They're almost like the dementors from Harry Potter.

I didn't really care for the body text description of manipulating desperate mortals into huge hopeful upswings of emotion just so they could lay them low. I like the emotion-feeding aspects of the core idea to this monster. As worded, however, that section just came off kind of flat and uninspired to me. I'd rather see that cut.

I'm guessing the ability to speak Gnome and Aklo relates to the First World? I didn't really see any basis for that in your descriptive text. Were you wanting to imply this creature somehow contributes to the Bleaching or originated in the First World? I don't know. I think you might have been on the cusp of doing something incredibly innovative to tie this creature into Golarion more fully by having it leech away some of the gnomish community's enthusiasm and zeal for life. Maybe they're even attracted to...and feed upon...the anguish a bleachling gnome goes through. That could have sold this even more on the creative side of things.

Mechanical Considerations:
Just because I'm OCD, I did a very quick number crunching of your design using the spreadsheet Paizo provides us as freelancers. I thought it was important to do that just to give some kind of assessment on your technical skills. I had some concerns on a few things. You might want to go back and check the following:

First, this monster brings out the "kitchen sink" syndrome or SAK effect. Look at everything it can do...and then tell me what it can't do. It's highly mobile (with a faster land speed than most PCs, plus the ability to fly). It can see in the dark. It's a potent melee combatant with 4 separate attacks plus the rend ability. It has access to a number of SLAs to help it spy and manipulate others. And it's got access to some custom, really powerful special attacks, one of which has a DC that pushes the limits of what a CR 7 creature should be able to do. It can also change shape and serve as an infiltrator. In short, it's got everything but the "kitchen sink" within its capabilities and I think you may have gone too far with it in your eagerness to showcase anything and everything which might appeal to the judges and voters in an effort to standout. That's my concern, at least.

You chose to ramp up the DC of your whispers of false promise with the Ability Focus feat. Why? The high end for DCs in a primary special ability for a CR 7 creature should cap out at around DC 17. You were on track for that. And, in fact, all your other ability DCs are in line with that. Yet, these whispers of false promise are part of the creature's aura. As a result, it's pretty much constant. And you're going to vault it even higher to DC 19? You wouldn't normally face that until CR 10. I think this was a misstep. And, you could have saved a feat by not spending one on Ability Focus.

Speaking of feats, you also shorted yourself one on this design. It should have a total of five.

You didn't use the 11, 11, 11, 10, 10, 10 non-standard array around which to construct your monster's ability scores. Paizo's spreadsheet which they give to freelancers would guide you in that respect. But, basically, you should always have three odd-numbered ability scores and three even-numbered ability scores in a base monster design. They can chance if you increase a monster's Hit Dice as part of advancing it...or, if you add class levels to it. But you need to stick with the non-standard array in base designs, because that's the foundation upon which monster CR's are game-balanced in relation to one another.

I also couldn't get the skill points to add up. I had 2 ranks leftover. It looks like you probably tried adding those to its Fly skill, but even with maximum ranks the best it can reach is +12, not +14. That's where the 2 additional ranks came from, I guess.

Presentation:
Other that completely missing the need for the italicized read-aloud text that needs to go at the top of the writeup, you're mostly good here. Your fly speed needs to be (average) rather than (moderate). But, other than that, it's pretty solid.

Bottom Line:
I'm kind of torn on this one. I like where you were headed. I think it's a bit overpowered, though, for a CR 7 creature with such a SAK design to it. I think you could have benefited from distilling this idea down to its main elements and then set aside some of the ancillalry stuff that only served to power it up. That might have saved you more words to expound a bit on the descriptive text and widen out the reader's understanding of the creature's origin and purpose.

Given all that, I'm going put myself ON THE FENCE with this one. I'll leave it up to the voters to decide. If they put you through to the next round, I won't have a problem with that as I think your designs are improving from round to round. It might be interesting to see what you can do with an encounter design and what kind of glimpse that'll give us into your capabilities with that kind of assignment. You'll just need to make sure you crystallize your core idea and know when enough is enough in each area of it.

Looking back across your other work, your clockwork conscience was a big hit with most everyone. It had the right mix of innovation and creativity in core idea and mechanics. Your organization with the Dreamstitchers was also quite inspiring, with some cool, creative bits to it, as well. This latest entry has elements of that, too. But the competition is really tightening at this point. You've got to ramp things up and bring your best work to keep standing out in the later rounds. Let's see if you can meet that challenge. And best of luck in the voting.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

Welcome to Round 3! I'm posting this little blurb at the top of my reply for everyone. FYI, I'm not going to crunch all the math in your stat block, for several reasons. One, I don't have an hour for each monster. :) Two, I'm sure you've been very diligent about this and if anything is wrong, it's probably only off by a little bit. Three, if you were writing this for publication in a Paizo book, you'd be using our stat block spreadsheet, which takes care of the math for you--your job is to understand the rules and bring the mojo. Four, Neil's going to scrutinize that stuff because he is a machine. :) My focus in this review is on the overall coolness and balance of your monster, with an eye on how efficiently you put it together and a spot-check of stat block elements that catch my eye.

First, an important flaw: I think you missed that the provided template has an italicized monster description above the stat block, just like the monsters in the Bestiary. Maybe that's what you intended the "An anzu has a catlike body with striped purple scales..." sentence to be, I'm not sure.

Fly maneuverability should be "average," not "moderate."

Devour hope is cumbersome in combat because the target has to undo all of his morale bonuses, then reapply then 1 round later. That can be an annoying amount of paperwork for something that probably adds up to about +2... better to just let it apply a penalty to a target with a morale bonus (much like what happens if the target has no morale bonuses).

You're missing a feat.

I get that this creature feeds on mixed emotions, and that its SLAs manipulate those emotions, but I see a lot of buff/debuff tracking when running this monster.

I get that it's descended from Eldest of the First World, but that means it should probably understand Sylvan rather than Gnome, as Gnome (in Golarion, at least) is the language Gnomes built out of pieces of various mortal languages.

I like your themed (mixing emotions) and I like that you drew on Ultimate Magic emotion spells (part of the point of the spells in that book was to fill "holes" in the list, like various other emotion spells). In terms of actual gameplay, I think it ends up a little cumbersome. I'm also not sure what's the point of its human form... maybe it sets itself up as a coincidental rescuer/plot device who points out a useful item to get the PCs out of a jam. I think in terms of manipulating emotions, you could have made it more active, pushing the PCs against each other or unseen foes, rather than this more subtle presentation/strategy.

CEO, Goblinworks

It's a big flying cat with two eagle heads.

(You wouldn't know that from the missing initial encounter description though)

What does Anzu mean? Anzu is a Raven God opponent in Sethekk Halls in World of Warcraft. You're not on top of that IP, but you're close. Be careful about stuff like this. There's enough passing similarity between your submission and this WoW content to make me nervous about your source material.

Ok, a classic monster archetype - the mishmash of animals. Some folks like this stuff, others don't but there's enough precedent in the game for this that you can't really knock a designer who tries this path.

It speaks gnome. Right there I started to not like it.

Devour Hope special ability: Pronoun abuse: Who is "him"? I'd much rather lose a morale bonus than be shaken. -2 penalty to pretty much anything going on in combat sucks.

Whispers of False Pride: Are you trying to synergize with the Shaken condition? I'd rule in favor of that interpretation but I'm not sure the RAW support that conclusion.

I think this thing is overpowered for CR7. It has a lot of melee abilities. It moves faster than most humanoids. It flies too. And it changes its shape so that you don't know what you're dealing with. It has a lot of hp too. I could see this thing overwhelming a properly constituted party. The handwaving about providing magic items to help heal or recover doesn't offset the mechanical advantages the creature has.

Overall it didn't excite me. The combination of overpower and a lot of mechanical complexity seems like too much work for the payload of fun.

I give this submission a C.

I do not recommend that you vote for this designer.

Star Voter 2013

I was rather ambivalent towards your Clockwork Consceince, and I did enjoy your Dreamstitchers, however, I'm to being ambivalent again and that can't be a good thing. I like the idea of the Anzu, and where you seemed to be going with it, it just didn't jump out at me.

You are still a contender in my book though, and I've seen some rather bad submissions so far.


Ryan Dancey wrote:
What does Anzu mean? Anzu is a Raven God opponent in Sethekk Halls in World of Warcraft. You're not on top of that IP, but you're close. Be careful about stuff like this. There's enough passing similarity between your submission and this WoW content to make me nervous about your source material.

Zu, also known as Anzu: summerian deity that has bird and big cat traits. Actually David seems to be much closer to original idea than Blizzard.

Quote:
Devour Hope special ability: Pronoun abuse: Who is "him"? I'd much rather lose a morale bonus than be shaken. -2 penalty to pretty much anything going on in combat sucks.

Regretful that ability is poorly worded.

I like the general idea, I would tweak around with some of its abilities.


Drejk wrote:
Ryan Dancey wrote:
What does Anzu mean? Anzu is a Raven God opponent in Sethekk Halls in World of Warcraft. You're not on top of that IP, but you're close. Be careful about stuff like this. There's enough passing similarity between your submission and this WoW content to make me nervous about your source material.
Zu, also known as Anzu: summerian deity that has bird and big cat traits. Actually David seems to be much closer to original idea than Blizzard.

Beat me to it. Drat.


Drejk wrote:
Ryan Dancey wrote:
What does Anzu mean? Anzu is a Raven God opponent in Sethekk Halls in World of Warcraft. You're not on top of that IP, but you're close. Be careful about stuff like this. There's enough passing similarity between your submission and this WoW content to make me nervous about your source material.

Zu, also known as Anzu: summerian deity that has bird and big cat traits. Actually David seems to be much closer to original idea than Blizzard.

Sheesh, next thing you are going to do is tell me that Warhammer isn't a total rip-off of Warcraft and Aliens didn't rip off Starcraft as well.


Caedwyr wrote:
Sheesh, next thing you are going to do is tell me that Warhammer isn't a total rip-off of Warcraft and Aliens didn't rip off Starcraft as well.

Yeah, what's more?! Maybe Neil Gaiman hadn't plagiarised Harry Potter in his Books Of Magic comics?!


Drejk wrote:
Caedwyr wrote:
Sheesh, next thing you are going to do is tell me that Warhammer isn't a total rip-off of Warcraft and Aliens didn't rip off Starcraft as well.
Yeah, what's more?! Maybe Neil Gaiman hadn't plagiarised Harry Potter in his Books Of Magic comics?!

I don't know... that one seems to be going a bit far beyond the realm of the believable.

/tangent off

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

I'm glad to see I've been beaten to the punch with the monster origins topic. I always like to see a critter with a basis in real-world mythology, and so seeing the name anzu in the forum made me smile a bit. This was the first monster I clicked.

Unfortunately, that smile faded a bit when I read on. The lack of descriptive text at the beginning is an annoying lack of attention to the format. While I don't agree with Neil that this monster does too many things too well, I think he's on the right track with claiming this guy's over the top in terms of difficulty. It has multiple debuff abilities, all of which stack with each other. Fighting this thing is going to be a huge pain for both the players and the GM, having to track so many +2s and -2s. Also, remember that fear effects stack. An unfortunate soul who gets hit with the howl of despair in round 1 and two bites in round 2 is going to be sucking up three shaken effects, which mean he's now panicking if he fails his saves, which is likely because there are now penalties to all his saves. Was this intentional?

The changing shape seems to be tacked on. The flavor-text makes it work a bit more with their modus operandi of screwing around with adventurers and liking contrasting emotions, but it strikes me as gilding the flying, two-headed lily.

To sum up, although I like the concept, the execution leads these guys into the realm of being annoying, both to fight and to run. I wouldn't want to use this anzu in an encounter, and I won't be voting for it. I wish you the best of luck.


It's a shame about the missing introductory text as it kind of sets the scene for me before reading the special abilities and description.
"the anzu inevitably returns in its true form" - I'm not sure about this bit. It seems to indicate that the Anzu has shape shifted at some point.


My criteria for deeming a monster voteworthy:

1. Can I drop this into my home campaign and still do something interesting with it outside of Golarion? Possibly, but why would I want to?

2. Does this monster inspire me to design an encounter just for the purpose of featuring it? Nope. I get where you're going with the despair angle and I see opportunities for storytelling there, but I can't get over the goofy description.

3. Will my players think the monster's physical description is cool, or will they laugh it off of the table? Uh. It's a scaly purple cat with shiny wings and two eagle heads. This thing just looks dumb. Sorry, man.

Additional Thoughts: I just do not like this monster at all, aside from some minor thematic elements (Devour Hope's removal of morale bonuses is a neat idea, even if it will be a pain in the rear to track at times). I have a lot of other choices to fill this CR and role that don't look like something out of a My Little Pony-fueled acid trip.

Star Voter 2013

I had to read it twice before I noticed you didn't include a read-aloud section. You should be more careful with your template by this point, and it really sets a bad mood for the submission that the rest of the entry doesn't mitigate well.

In the end, it really didn't wow me. It feels like "just a monster", even though it had some fun playing with emotions powers and a bit of promise.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4 , Star Voter 2013 aka raidou

David, I think that this entry shows that you are paying attention to what people like about Paizo's bestiaries.

Here's what I like:
- draws on real-world mythology for inspiration; I can envision using this monster in much the same way I'd use a sphinx. I see a lot of positive feedback when Paizo draws on real world myth to populate its monster manuals. So good job here in displaying awareness of that.
- has multiple ways in which it can be used - as heavy-hitting debuffer, stalk and skirmish antagonist, deceptive ambusher, etc.
- makes clever use of new emotion-based spells from Ultimate Magic.

Here's what I don't like:
- while it fits right in with sphinxes, owlbears, and chimeras, a purple-scaled cat thing with two eagle heads is probably more silly than I'll implement as written.
- There will be a lot of bonus/penalty recalculation in a fight with this guy. Not sure that you've found the right work/fun balance here. You've got buffs, debuffs, fear stacking, and multiple enchantment effects forcing people into tactical predicaments. Challenging to run, indeed.
- Descriptive text spends words on stuff that doesn't matter. In this monster entry, I want to see less emotional cookbook, more utility and clarity.

Other notes:
- Even though I think the new spell use is a net positive, you can't ignore the fact that this creature takes some research and preparation to play. Everybody knows generally how a fireball, lightning bolt, or silence spell works; you probably don't need to have the rulebooks open to them all the time. But when you have a lot of new fiddly enchantments to throw around, you will be looking this stuff up in-game.

President, Jon Brazer Enterprises

Overall, a great concept, but a little ... eh ... on the execution. First off, kudos for pulling something from mythology. The 2 headed thing I don't think really works on it. Plus you didn't have mechanics to support it (all around vision, perception bonus, bonus vs mind affecting effects). So if this came across my desk, I'd dump that part. There are a few mechanics issues here, but nothing an edit pass can't take care of. So I can't find any reason to say its an auto-reject.

However, I'm not wowed either. This would definitely make it into a monster book I edit, but for a superstar contest, its just missing that ... something that really sells it. That makes peoples eyes just pop out of their head saying, "I WANT THIS IN MY GAME TONIGHT!"


Hmm. I'd probably paint it a different color than purple, but I don't mind anything else about the form. It reminds me of other mythical beasties like a sphinx or a chimera.

But the players aren't going to meet it that way, because it's going to shift in order to chat with them and mess with their minds. I think. Maybe not. It seems like it would. But then it's specials are based on its natural form.

So... I'm picturing an encounter where it goes in to mess with the PCs shape shifted, they figure out something's up eventually. They attack the critter and it pops into its full double headed frightening glory, and then they are hit with Whispers of False Promise before getting howled at and bitten. I wasn't liking it initially, but I might have talked myself around. That would be fun.

I won't pile onto what others have said about the mechanics, I'm more about style and story.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It’s a pity that there are a few problems with the presentation of this one. I don’t think the author should be pinged for using the same source material for inspiration as Blizzard did (Paizo would never use any mythic monsters as inspiration if they tried to find something that no one else had used in some manner over the years), but it seems that David has used the name and the bird / cat theme and little else – if people are going to use mythology as a source I actually like to see something more in keeping with the original myth in terms or purpose, origin or ability.

The two heads are presumably a ‘nod’ to Imbrex, but I think they kind of work against the entry, it almost seems like bizarreness for the sake of bizarreness, and the creature gets no real mechanical advantage for it (except the two bite attacks and the rend, which is kind of cool, but it could equally have rended with claws, or had a rake or pounce attack or something for that extra oomph in combat).

Of course without the extra head it really just looks like a hippy griffon (as opposed to a hippogriff).

Good luck David.


Hello again, welcome in round 3 and congratulations on making it this far. I'm sorry I didn't get by your organization last round - I can't seem to remember getting to comment it; I walked into my winter disease period.

Now, round 3 is for monsters, so let’s have a look at the beastie:
I'll be trying for thorough this round, as those who make it on will have an increasing chance of writing a supplement, which I'll likely have an interest in buying. Therefore both to help me and help you, I'll do my best and fiercest to give constructive critique here.
1) Rules (I want to be reassured that you have your attention to detail and sharpness for rules along here, especially since the organization round tested little on this spot): Hmm, okay, so all the emotion draining effects seem clear enough to use, though they may get bothersome in large combats and -1 or -2 could make the difference between survival and death for any number of players in any number of situations. It seems a little too complex. Whether you're being daring and innovative or just making things harder, I'm not quite sure. The entire thing seems somewhat over the top in power level. I don't really get why it needs rend or electricity resistance, anyway. A lot of the things just seems like bird mashed with cat with negative emotion effects. I don't really get the feel of why.
Rating: 3/5 - decent, but I think things doulc stick together better and be more balanced.

2) Innovation (I want to (again) see promises of an adventure I couldn’t just think up myself, I want to see great and new thoughts, thoughts that seize my attention and holds it): The devour hope bite is innovative, all right. I'm getting just a little worried about your own ability to differentiate your subject: your item dealt with negating control (enchantment spells), thereby focusing on social/emotional aspects of the game. You organization dealt with taking people away from negative emotions, using dreams as a drug (illusion and enchantment stuff) and your monster deals with applying negative emotions. Either you're subconsciously sticking to a theme, you're overly interested in this theme, you're consciously trying to make a red thread in your work or - my concern - you're just too fond of this theme to do something not related to it, which will, eventually make your work repetitive. As for the monster itself, the idea is innovative enough, though mashing it into multiple forms and such just confused the fine essence, where it should have been distilled.
Rating: 4/5 - I'll put you well for now, but if you advance, I do hope to see something newer from you. So a fear-centered encounter location would really worry me.

3) Creativity (Alike innovation, I want something that isn’t just new, it’s the good kind of new, and awesome at that): I don't know. You have a really innovative element in the "negating positive emotions" rather than the usual "applying negative emotions". But you kind of ruin it for yourself by gettign unfocused and going a little this direction and then a little in that direction. I'd love to see you focus more on bringing out the creative in ab "emotion removing" monster.
Rating: 2/5 - I'm not seeing a lot of creative here. The idea is good, the execution lacks.

4) Writing (I’m a nitpicker for good writing, and I want to see it. This isn’t the most writing intensive round, but that just means I’ll be looking for wasted words, that I really get nothing from, and checking the bits that are ever more carefully): I don't know but your writing seems a little confusing and uncentered to me. I'd like a little more solid in places. I get a tactic for this beast which I'll mostl likely not be using. It seems to me you need to prioritize your writing to focus on more than just one situation, instead telling me about a monster. It seems a little to me like you've envisioned one particular situation, and made a monster based on that, rather than made a monster and then envisioned what it is, does and possibly thought of this one situation, among many others. Really, magic item relief is hardly the strongest emotion about.
Rating: 3/5 - Your writing is generally fine, if unfocused and not really evocative enough to bring me to amazement.

5) Golarion (Most monsters can be fitted into my campaigns, but as I mostly run Golarion, I have a keen interest in monster fitting seamlessly with the rest of the world, without expansive details for why they do so): Uh, er, the Eldest/First World/Fey angle. Once again, would have worked if you focused it. Specialize them is gnomes bringing them to the bleaching by depriving them of excitement. As of now, you have a magical beast, who wants to be a fey, and speaks gnome, but is a different kind of chimera, but is really just preying on emotions, which is probably why it's not really fey. Basically it feels to me like you wanted a Golarion tie in, picked fey for some, to me unknown, reason, but couldn't quite fit it in with the monster.
Rating: 3/5 - The connection is there, and it's not that it couldn't work it's just that, as written, it doesn't work, for me.

6) CR appropriate (I don’t want a monster pretending to be CR 7, when it’s just not fitting for what my players can reasonably handle at any level near 7, or opposite, won’t represent a challenge even to a level 5 group): Okay, I'm not positive. This could be really dangerous against some groups. Group focused towards superior maneuverability and ranged attacks/spells, with no bard, would probably not take too much issue. This is kind of an anti-bard. I don't like it. As if the poor bard aren't disliked enough by their parties for not dealing the same kind of damage as the rest. The sonic damage troubles me. It just seems viciously high compared to any sonic damage spells. It's the very least resistable damage-type. I don't really like putting this much of it against the PCs, while making the only sonic focused class kind of negated. The best way to deal with this might well be to have the CMB character grapple it in a Silence area, negating it's sonic damage, grappled to keep it from attacking. And then, slowly but surely, kill it. Sure, it could annoying, but annoying isn't good. Challenging is, but I'm not sure that's what this is.
Rating: 2/5 - it might be overpowered, it's definitely very anti-bard and the right tactics probably makes it completely underpowered. Against anything but a bard.

7) Previous work (I’m not just looking for monsters, I’m also looking back at the former rounds, especially since they may well be tie-breakers for my votes, but also because one single round doesn’t show all anyone has to bring): I kind of liked, but didn't really favourite your item. I didn't really like, but didn't entirely dislike either, your organization. I don't know. My biggest concern is probably your emotion theme, and a slight lack of focus and fully-done feel to your two last submissions. Try and work with that.
Rating: 3/5 - Item was good, organizatio had the idea but lacked the finish. I think this one has the same problem. Possibly, the short deadlines just aren't that kind to you. Sad thing is, you need to deal with those.

8) Promise for Adventure (I want to, as a potential buyer, contemplate how likely I am to buy an adventure written by you – based on your previous RPG Superstar work, your monster and my impression on how well you’ll do with an adventure): Oh I don't know. You seem to have the good idea down, but lack the finishing touch. And, I don't really want an adventure centered about emotion effects. I'm going to dare to say that while I wouldn't mind an adventure written by you, it's not really what I want, either, and you don't quite come across as ready for it, to me.
Rating: 2/5 - Not really against the idea, but got nothing too great for it, either.

9) Personal Rating (Sometimes, at the end of it all, there’s things I just like, even if there’s other things that might be better for multiple reasons – now I don’t want to tell you I don’t like something, but I do want to, positively, say that I like a particular piece of work a lot): I like bards. Stop negating my favourite class. I won't have it in my games. Also, I like your base idea, but I think you got distorted - and too busy negating sonic damage too, just to bother the poor bard further.
Rating: 1/5 - Sorry, but I can't like an anti-bard monster. It upsets me. I could have liked a anti-positive emotions monster. Not this. Just personal feelings, but that's how they are.

10) Overall (This is where I try to give my opinion on what to improve on, how I feel about your submission in general, and finally, the thing you really want to hear, if you’re getting a vote or not): You had the idea, but lacked the focus and finish. Also, leave the poor bard alone! No, seriously, I'm actually getting increasingly concerned that your idea with this started out as "negating those annoying bard morale bonuses" and escalated to an anti-bard monster.
Rating: 3/5, but close to 2, as well. You have the idea, and I may be interpreting your monster wrong. I just don't like it. Sorry, but I don't have enough votes to send one this way.

Congratulations on top 16, good luck on your road to top 8!

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Phloid

I don't know. No descriptive text in the beginning. Kind of crazy emotion thing going on. For a Large magical beast this sort of seems out of place. These spells and abilities collected together seem cool, but I think they were paired with the wrong monster. I would have liked to seem them on a creepy fey or even an undead. Lastly, I just liked the Laru better. No vote.


As a monster designer, I look forward to this phase of the contest most..so lets see..
Odd critter, I enjoy chimeraesque monsters, although purple is a little..strange.
It feels like it has no great focus to me, trying to do everything at once. The base concept of feeding on diffrent emotions was a great start, and the whispers of false promise ability is wonderful(my st thought was that would be great on a major devil..), but it wandered a bit from where it started from.
In the end..I like the abilities more than the actual monster, and would scavenge them for other creatures in my home game. I have not decided on my votes yet, so we shall see.

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

I couldn't vote for something that stepped in it so many times as regards the monster template and presentation. I think the monster is a clear CR 8 or 9, and is as much a mish-mash of abilities (rend, energy resistance are not tied to theme at all, although the visual of rending with bites is pretty cool).

This is early monster design and not superstar monster design. What's worse, if we allow that you have spent a couple of months studying and preparing for this round, it seems clear you didn't bother to read Beastiary monster entries and familiarize yourself with common conventions like fly speeds, average power levels, presentation of DCs (they are part fo the sentence...must succeed on a DC 17 Will save...), the italicized physical description, or location of (or necessity of) sentences that exist in standard rpesentation. For example, you don't need to spend word count on the +2 bonus from Ability Focus being included in the monster's description, and the immune for 24 hours sentence should be presented in conformity with other entries.


Forcing multiple saves a round is something I call "spamming" saves, and as a player you know that if you roll enough times you will roll low, and it is not fun. I would have the devour hope only apply once per round, and last for a set amount of rounds, hopefully long enough so that the fight is over when it wears off. It helps with bookkeeping.


David Ross wrote:
Anzu CR 7

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 an essential feature in a good diet (let’s not look too closely at the use of the word ‘good’ in that context), 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…
;)

Maths is Important. How many points is the name worth, and does it successfully ‘Scrabble’ around for extra points?
Ordinarily 13 points, but I'll give it a double word score for a total of 26 points.

Would a specimen of this creature look good on the cream and scarlet paisley pattern sofa I have in my Druman villa?
Purple stripes? No. I don't think so. Plus it's a feline. It'll probably try to use it as a scratching post or something like that.

What place does this have at a dinner party?
I suspect that this one would actually taste rather good, lightly sautéed and then with a mushroom, cream, and white-wine sauce. Plus you can probably use the feathers as table decorations.

Other comments?
With two heads and a penchant for misleading folk I have to wonder if it's related to the hagas we saw in these parts a couple of years ago? Hagas were of course two-head birds, but although this thing may be feline it flies, too...

Rating:
If this creature were a crime, what sort of crime would it be (expressed in the time honoured culprit/implement/location format)?
Susan the priestess of Shelyn, with the potion-brewing kit, in the wine-cellar.

Ask A RPGSupersuccubus – turning hope to ruin, victory to despair, and asking the important questions which really matter since whenever.

Congratulations on making the top sixteen. Obviously at this point your run in the contest is now over bar the tearful speeches and the 'but I will be back, ha-ha, if I feel like it, another year!' comments, but you did make it through to Round 3.

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