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My first custom monster


Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew


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I'm trying to come up with a monster that doesn't exist in the Bestiary index. At lowish levels. I've got a draft, but something needs fixing...

Drawn Curtain:
Ferny Bloodsucker -- CR 6
This appears to be an odd garden of moss, ferns, and spongy growths.

XP 2,400
N Gargantuan plant
Init –2; Senses low-light vision; Perception +9

< Defense >
AC 13, touch 4, flat-footed 13 (–2 Dex, +9 natural, –4 size)
HP 59 (7d8+28); fast healing 5
Fort +9, Ref +3, Will +5
CMD 29 (can't be tripped)
DR 5/magic; Immunities amorphous, plant traits

< Offense >
Speed 5 ft
Melee 4 tentacles +17 (1d8+12 B)
CMB +21 (+4 on grapples; 2 tentacles necessary)
Space 20 ft (5 ft tall); Reach 10 ft
Special Attacks blood drain (1d2 Con) + distraction (DC 17)

< Statistics >
Str 34, Dex 6, Con 18, Int 3, Wis 8, Cha 3
Base Atk +5; CMB +21; CMD 29
Feats Improved Grapple [and 3 more]
Skills Perception +9
Languages [any one] (cannot speak)

< Special Abilities >

  • Amorphous (Ex) Immune to critical hits, flanking, or additional damage from precision-based attacks.
  • Blood Drain (Ex) Drains blood at the end of its turn if it grapples a foe -- inflicting 1d2 Con damage and causing targets that fail a DC 17 Fortitude check to be nauseated for 1 round (Distraction).
  • Plant traits (Ex) Immune to mind-affecting effects, paralysis, poison, polymorph, sleep effects, & stunning.

< Explanation & Questions >
What I want is a monster that can easily be avoided or run away from -- unless you happen to need to get to the other side of its room, when it should become a nasty hazard.

The AC is really low, but then it's got other defenses. Hopefully it balances out correctly?? The Con is lower than base for the size, too, which leads to lower HP, in deference to the fast healing 5.

I want the high CMB & CMD, but the melee attack bonus & damage (even after arbitrarily reducing the size of the tentacles one step) are way too high. (And given that there are no other melee/ranged attacks, tentacles do apparently count as primary.) What to do?

At least without a grab ability the ferny bloodsucker has to pick between slamming and draining for each pair of tentacles. Yes, I want my monster to be able to grapple two foes, but is blood-draining and nauseating them both too OP?

I'm picturing medium-size characters or smaller as moving among the foliage of this creature, just as they would hack their way through foliage in general. What do I need to allow this?

Thanks for your help!


You need to envision how an encounter with this creature is likely going to pan out. Logically, it seems like an ambush predator. It fills a room, the PCs stumble in, conflict. That should work about once, after that, they're probably going to see the rest coming (any room filled with an herb garden,) so unless they absolutely have to pass the room, it's probably lost most of its 'oomph'. So you're probably going to want to at least make it memorable.

Quote:
At least without a grab ability the ferny bloodsucker has to pick between slamming and draining for each pair of tentacles. Yes, I want my monster to be able to grapple two foes, but is blood-draining and nauseating them both too OP?

It could be considered as such, and I will probably side with 'yes'. While the two abilities make sense, what you have is Blood Drain lowering Con, which will lower Fort saves. Since the Fort save is what you need to make every round (or only get a standard action) that's a very complimentary attack combo. Not a bad thing... but something you need to be aware off.

I think just going with Grab is easier and more straight-forward.
It's not like you're giving it Constrict too. Plus, this has the added bonus of giving a GM the option to have the creature take a -20 to the check if it wants to remain 'ungrappled' (or likely the GM knows the characters have no chance of beating the plant's CMB normally but doesn't want to flat-out fudge rolls ;p)

You could keep the Distraction (something like spores and such given off) and change the Blood Drain to something else, like Bleed. Then, instead of the creature 'sucking' the blood, it's just 'drinking' or 'absorbing' the spilled blood.


  • Not sure how you envision the blood drain, but since you require grappling, I would almost envision the 'tentacles' as being vine-like with thorn-like or piercing spines; digging into creatures and sucking out their tasty juices. Could note that it does Piercing and Bludgeoning damage. Not that you're publishing stat-blocks, but you could probably rename the tentacle attack to 'vine', if so desired (or maybe it does have giant tentacles, I am just going be the brief description.)

    Of course, you could change it to Bleed, as mentioned and it could still be scary for many groups, but they could stop it with healing magics or a decent Heal check and not need to wait days to heal the ability damage or cast lesser restorations. Just say the sap or whatever prevents clotting. You can always specify that the Bleed ends naturally after 1 minute or something if not healed.
    That's just an alternate option though.

  • Most things that move this slowly probably sense things through vibrations in the air or ground rather than typical visual organs. You should probably give it Tremorsense or even Blindsense to 30 or 60 feet.

  • I would probably change the DR '5/magic' to 'DR 5/magic and slashing'. I may just be picturing it wrong again, but I mostly get the impression this creature seems like a low-laying moss or mat of fungus or vegetation; as such, slamming the ground with a mallet or jabbing a rapier into it probably should be less effective.

  • You should give it some unique defenses when attacked in manners that a typical party might use. Obviously you don't want it to be overpowered, but you don't want it to be boring. This current build is just begging for the party mage and archer to just hang back and fill it with arrows and infinite cantrips like acid splash, ray of frost, etc. Especially with you lowering the hit points. The DR thing above should help with arrows. You might even consider upping it to DR 10. A 6th-level party should either have a magical blade, spells, or be able to overcome 10 points if they insist on using a club. Only my opinion.

  • It needs a defense against range attacks or energy. You could give it a spore cloud that functions as obscuring mist. Sure, that makes it hard to hit, but the PCs will have no trouble at least targeting the square; it's so huge and not likely to have moved. So at least that stops autohits from complete safety. You can either have it release it if attacked from out of range or have it go off when hit with fire or whatever. If you want to give the spores a slight secondary effect, like -2 distraction penalties for those who fail a save, go ahead.

    Otherwise, if it still needs a defense against ranged attacks, let it shoot thorns or quills within 30 feet (or 60 if you give it a larger sight range.) Something easy, 1d4 damage but Bleed effect or an irritating poison.

  • Animals and plants tend to take straight-forward feats. Some likely feats would probably be: Combat Reflexes (it won't get any extra AoOs because its Dex is atrocious but it can make its one AoO even if caught flat-footed somehow.) That would let it also take Stand Still, which would make it harder for a creature to just run or fly or dodge past the room or over top of the creature.

    You could go with the Endurance and Die hard combo. The creature seems hardy enough and maybe its learned to 'play dead' when it gets to where it would otherwise be bleeding and dying.

    Toughness is logical, but you've specifically gone light on hit points.

    Weapon Focus (tentacle or vine) would give it a better chance to hit.

    Blind-fighting would be another good choice if you give the creature a concealment power, like a spore cloud (ala obscuring mist.) That way, it still has a fair miss chance like everyone else, but it's adapted to working with its abilities.

    If at else fails, Skill Focus (Perception) or (Stealth) is always solid. And you could just give it a racial bonus to Stealth checks, say +5 or +10 in vegetative areas or somesuch.


So far, I agree completely with Pizza Lord.
As is the vines should do MORE damage with a 1.5str modifier for a primary natural attack.

I agree that the blood drain for a CR6 is a bit much, minor bleed or even an acid effect would probably work better and remain thematic for a plant.

The damage is high, but not un-survivable.
Perhaps you could switch it to an armor spike equivalent, and change the "vines" to a longer ranged pure grapple mechanism.
Then the vines could be 20-30-60ft long, maybe with a bleed effect or acid effect 1d2/1d4. The armor spikes could then become secondary, and act as a natural DR/Magic Slashing for the creature, symbiotic living armor instead of part of the creature proper.

Vine Whips: +26 Grapple (1d2 bleed or 1d4 acid each round a creature begins grappled). The creature is never considered grappled itself.

Fern Spikes: +13 (1d4+12 S).

Special Attacks: Vine Snap: Creature targets a square and launches a vine at tremendous velocity up to 60ft. All targets in a 5ft radius must succeed vs a DC17 FORT or become Dazed for 1 round. All targets in a 20ft radius must save for a DC17 FORT or become deafened for 1 minute.

Special Movement: The creature can spend a full round action using its free vines to partially bury itself in soft soil or sand, thus gaining partial cover and +4 AC until it moves again.
(This could also help with STEALTH for the initial ambush).

Spores, dirt, or even insect clouds could help vs ranged attacks a little. Which is an obvious weakness of the creature.


So this is what I've got:

behind the curtain:
Ferny Bloodsucker -- CR 6
This appears to be an odd garden of moss, ferns, and spongy growths.

XP 2,400
N Gargantuan plant
Init –2; Senses blindsight (blind); Perception +9

< Defense >
AC 13, touch 4, flat-footed 13 (–2 Dex, +9 natural, –4 size)
HP 73 (7d8+42); fast healing 5
Fort +10, Ref +2, Will +4
CMD 29 (can't be tripped)
DR 10/slashing or magic; Immunities amorphous, blind, plant traits

< Offense >
Speed 5 ft, Burrow 5 ft (movement uses short roots)
Melee 4 thorny vines +13 (1d4 P plus 1d2 bleed plus grab), reach 30 ft;
bladed ferns +8 (1d6+6 S), reach 0 ft.
CMB +21 (+4 to grapple; is never considered grappled itself.)
Space 20 ft (5 ft tall); Reach 30 ft thorny vines; 0 ft bladed ferns
Special Attacks bleed (1d2), captivating spore cloud

< Statistics >
Str 34, Dex 6, Con 22, Int 3, Wis 8, Cha 3
Base Atk +5; CMB +21; CMD 29
Feats Combat Reflexes, Stand Still, [+2]
Skills Perception +9
Languages [any one] (cannot speak)
SQ Camouflage

< Special Abilities >
<*> Bleed (Ex) Secretes a sap that prevents clotting, inflicting additional damage each round at the start of the target's turn (which stacks with later attacks). This bleeding can be stopped by a successful DC 15 Heal skill check or through any magical healing.

<*> Blindsight (Ex) Pinpoints breathing creatures or moving objects within 60 ft (given line of effect) via vibrations in the ground and currents in the air.

<*> Camouflage (Ex) Looks like a normal patch of ferny vegetation when at rest, so a successful DC 17 Perception check is required to notice it before it attacks for the first time. Survival or Knowledge (nature) may be substituted for Perception to notice the plant. The save DC is Constitution-based.

<*> Captivating Spore Cloud (Ex) May release a dense cloud of spores in a 20-foot spread centered on the ferny bloodsucker which persists for 2d4 rounds unless dispersed by moderate or stronger wind. The cloud obscures the area affected (as Obscuring Mist). It further has the power to lull the minds of those that smell the spores (a mind-affecting effect). All creatures in the cloud at release or who enter it while it persists must succeed on a DC 17 Will saving throw or become captivated. If captivated, a creature takes no actions save to approach the center of the ferny bloodsucker (as if in difficult terrain when in an area occupied by the ferny bloodsucker) via the most direct route possible. If this path leads it into an area that is dangerous for any reason other than being occupied by the ferny bloodsucker, such as through fire or off a cliff, that creature receives a second saving throw to end the effect before moving into peril. A victim that is attacked by the ferny bloodsucker gets a new saving throw as an immediate action to overcome the effect, but if it succeeds, it is dazed for the next round. Once a creature succeeds on the Will save to avoid or end being captivated, it cannot be captivated again by any ferny bloodsucker's captivating spore cloud for 24 hours. Once a ferny bloodsucker has used its spore cloud attack, it cannot do so again for 1 minute. The save DC is Constitution-based.

< Explanation & Questions, v. 2.0 >
Yes, this is an ambush monster.

I changed the senses.

Looking at the low DPR, I upped the DR, and went back to a Con of 22, to add 14 HP & +2 Fort -- except that I then reduced all of the saves by 1, to make them closer to book values for CR 6.

I simply gave the critter Burrow 5 ft with its roots. Is that materially different from a special movement?

I realized that I had forgotten the size mod for the to-hit on the vines, which brings that down to manageable. And I do need the grab ability; I forgot to check the prereqs for Improved Grapple. Note that I no longer require a pair of "tentacles" for the grab -- can it now grapple (and damage) 4 creatures?

On feats, Combat Reflexes & Stand Still look great! However, since I've raised the Con & HP, I'd rather do something else than rather than Endurance & Diehard. And is Blind-fighting necessary even with the new spore cloud? It's got blindsight! Any other ideas?

Repeat Q: I'm picturing medium-size characters or smaller as moving among the foliage of this creature, just as they would hack their way through foliage in general -- through difficult terrain, of course. What do I need to allow this?


For the walking among it, a space of 20ft is for humanoid or vertical creatures, and they can be 32 to 64ft TALL, and the floor space is for typical creatures, but exceptions exist.
Second last chart shows the size difference effectively

Your creature could be 64ft (60ft area) by 40ft (flattened area, moving is 20ft) by 5ft (tall, doubled to 10ft when compressed and moving).
Oozes are a great example, there is one called Living Lake that occupies 100ft flat.

Then it could easily occupy a massive space, and with INT 3 it is more than capable of delaying attacks until foes are well inside its reach. Then with symbiotic "natural armor spikes", it would take no damage from the hacking and slashing as they tread the "rough terrain" at half speed.

Yes, you would have 4 grab attacks at a time.
Burrow is basically the same thing, it could easily burrow for 2 rounds to heal, which would give the party equal time to heal and change equipment out. Then round 2 could start (maybe at 75%hp it comes back).

You could add monster feats as well: Improved natural armor, or Ability focus for +2 DC to spores.

I would be careful about having too low saves, your touch AC is already terrible so you will take a lot of primary damage hits, saves could reduce the secondary damages a little and help prolong the fight.

Blind fight is irrelevant with blindsight (Vibrations)

You still lack an effective way to deal with range, but burrow could at least see the creature flee or slowly chase after. If it waits until they are well inside its space, then ranged should not be an issue.

I could easily see variants of this creature for mushroom gardens, desert cactus fields, or jungle/temperate clearing variants with different symbiotic attacks and benefits.


Blind-fighting isn't necessary if you've given it Blindsight. When I suggested it as a feat, I was going with the idea that it might have Blindsense or Tremorsense. Blindsight is much more powerful. About the only reason you might still consider Blind-fighting is if you want the creature to able to be burrowed and still attacking, since its vines are very long. In that case, the ground would technically block line of 'sight/effect' and blindsight wouldn't work, it would still have a miss chance (and also have to guess their square, unlike with tremorsense which would let it know the square, but still have to contend with any concealment. I mean... you mention that its blindsight works via ground vibrations... so maybe you should just give it tremorsense as well, instead of bundling it all into Blindsight.

Yes, you could grapple up to 4 creatures. Normally, since maintaining the grapple is a standard action, it wouldn't be able to make other attacks while grappling. It would have to take a -20 to the grapple checks it makes so as to only be considered grappling with one vine. However, since you've listed that it is not considered grappled as an inherent part of its stats, it should be function they way you want.

I'd still probably go with 'DR/magic and slashing', rather than 'DR/magic or slashing'. Either one of those is so very simple and easy to get that a 2nd-level or even a 1st-level party probably has a slashing weapon. Since the creature is so slow and easy to hit, it should have some mitigation. Just my opinion.


This time, I'm just copying the stuff with changes, which I've bolded...

Spoiler:
Ferny Bloodsucker -- CR 6

Gargantuan plant [I want it to occupy at most 30x30x5 ft, so what size should it be?]

Senses blind; blindsight & tremorsense 60 ft

< Defense >
AC 16, touch 7, flat-footed 15 (+1 Dex, +9 natural, –4 size)
Fort +10, Ref +5, Will +3 [I previously had Will 1 pt higher than it should have been for Wis 8, plus I've raised Dex.]
CMD 34 (cannot be tripped) [Augmented for Defensive Combat Training plus Dex.]
[In general, I'm now going with higher defenses but low DPR. (Plus I wanted to reward my feat choices a tad!) So all 3 changes reflect increasing Dex to 13. This baby is still a heckuva big thing and easy to touch, but the other ACs are distinctly improved.]

DR 10/magic & slashing

< Offense >
bladed ferns +8 (1d6+6 S), reach 0 ft. [This is only 1 bladed fern attack/turn, right?]

Space 20 ft (5 ft tall) [Should this be "Space 30 ft (5 ft tall)"?]

< Statistics >
Str 34, Dex 13, Con 22, Int 3, Wis 8, Cha 3 [As noted above, I upped Dex by 7 pts.]

Feats Combat Reflexes, Defensive Combat Training, Nimble Moves, Stand Still. [No, it's not nimble, but it's tough to handle with combat maneuvers and flexible enough to flow over obstacles at its normal stately pace.]

SQ Camouflage, Low Profile

< Special Abilities >
Grab (Ex) If the target of a grab is not in a square occupied by or adjacent to the ferny bloodsucker, the grab pulls the target to an adjacent open space or it fails. The ferny bloodsucker does not gain the grappled condition itself. It may maintain up to 4 grapples/turn (with the +5 circumstance bonus); while automatically doing normal thorny vine damage, it may pin its target or move it 5 feet into a square it occupies, toward its center, without giving the target a free attempt to break the grapple. It must remain stationary, however, while maintaining a grapple.
[Looking over the rules, I'm picturing the following:
- 1st round: I make a successful attack with a thorny vine, roll damage, and make a grab attempt at CMB +25 -- which must involve pulling the target to an adjacent open square if farther away.
- Later rounds: If I maintain the grapple at CMB +30, I do thorny vine damage, and can ALSO pin my target or move it 5 feet into a square my critter occupies. Note that this will let me opt to additionally make a bladed ferns attack.]

Captivating Spore Cloud (Ex) May release a dense cloud of spores in a 20-foot spread centered on the ferny bloodsucker which persists for 2d4 rounds unless dispersed by moderate or stronger wind. The cloud obscures the area affected (as Obscuring Mist). It further has the power to lull the minds of those that smell the spores (a mind-affecting effect). All creatures in the cloud at release or who enter it while it persists must succeed on a DC 17 Will saving throw or become captivated. If captivated, a creature takes no actions save to approach the center of the ferny bloodsucker (as if in difficult terrain when in an area occupied by the ferny bloodsucker) via the most direct route possible. If this path leads it into an area that is dangerous for any reason other than being occupied by the ferny bloodsucker, such as through fire or off a cliff, that creature receives a second saving throw to end the effect before moving into peril. A victim that is attacked by the ferny bloodsucker gets a new saving throw as an immediate action to overcome the effect, but if it succeeds, it is dazed for the next round. Once a creature succeeds on the Will save to avoid or end being captivated, it cannot be captivated again by any ferny bloodsucker's spore cloud for 24 hours, but if captivation simply ends because the spore cloud disperses, the creature must make a new save if subject to another such cloud or be captivated again. Once a ferny bloodsucker has used its spore cloud attack, it cannot do so again for 1 minute. The save DC is Constitution-based. [What do you think?]

Low Profile (Ex) Creatures smaller than it can occupy the same squares as it does, and move among its foliage as if through difficult terrain. [What do you think?]

< Conclusion >
This may be a low DPR monster, but it now has robust defenses and could render an entire party of four helpless and ultimately dead. What is the right CR?


How do you make spoilers?


Lazaryus wrote:
How do you make spoilers?

You can check the spoiler under "How to format your text" at the bottom of your screen, below the edit box, for a lot of codes. But I can sympathize; I found some of the codes given for things like spoilers hard to understand from the brief text given.

Version 1: I turned a crucial = into ~ in the first code so you can read it! (I also italicized the text to be spoilered, to set it apart from the spoiler codes. The italics codes won't show up on your screen, of course.)

[spoiler~Movie plot spoiler]This is a spoiler, such as revealing who really did frame Roger Rabbit.[/spoiler]

<<< >>>

Version 2: This time, I used the = in my code instead of ~, so the post would appear normally and you can see how the various bits of text show up -- what's the title for the spoiler, and what's the spoilered text.

Movie plot spoiler:
This is a spoiler, such as revealing who really did frame Roger Rabbit.

<<< >>>

Version 3: This time, there's no title at all. I simply left out the = and any text after it within the square brackets. The main text is unchanged.

Spoiler:
This is a spoiler, such as revealing who really did frame Roger Rabbit.

<<< >>>

I hope this helped! If you have questions about other formatting in "How to format your text," just ask.


Btw, I've noticed another effect of upping the Dex: Init is now +1.


bitter lily wrote:
Btw, I've noticed another effect of upping the Dex: Init is now +1.

Yep, that did it. Officially overpowered now.


bitter lily wrote:

This time, I'm just copying the stuff with changes, which I've bolded...

** spoiler omitted **...

You can increase the flat size to be up to 64ftx20ftx20ft for a gargantuan prone creature to give the players more creature to walk onto.

It looks tough, but not unbeatable, your players should be able to do damage every round exceeding DR/10+FH5, so it shouldn't seem an impossible fight to win.
Grapples will annoy, and the grappled damage should encourage them to escape rather than counter attack, thus extending the fight.

Technically your bladed ferns could be as a single slam, or as damage on the grapple and they are dragged past them. I like to think the creature just heaves upwards and slams everyone that was standing on it (or they fall ft back down onto the ferns).

I like the low profile.

CR6-7 still seems appropriate, its defenses should be crackable, and a good party could overcome the damages (or even tank the ferns) by this point. Party AC should be from 18-25 easy before spells. Attacks should be from +9 to +12 at base levels as well, damage will be the main factor on fight duration, as long as they can do 12 dmg on each hit they will make progress on it. If they can overcome DR, even better. I might actually suggest maximizing its HP, because 4 players could likely drop it by 40hp a round together.


bitter lily wrote:
bladed ferns +8 (1d6+6 S), reach 0 ft. [This is only 1 bladed fern attack/turn, right?]

Yes, it would only be one attack per turn as you have it written. Someone might surmise that each character sharing the space with the creature should have to deal with the ferns, however.

If you wish every creature to be affected by the bladed ferns, similar to how a swarm deals damage, you would have to add an ability along the lines of:
Bladed ferns (Ex): Any creature ending its turn in the ferny bloodsucker's square is attacked by its bladed ferns.
Alternately, you could go with 'At the end of the ferny bloodsucker's turn, any creatures within its space are attacked with bladed ferns.' Both are mechanically similar, but one way you would do all the attacks and damage for occupying creatures at one time (when the ferny bloodsucker ends its turn), the other would have the rolls spread out over the round (at the end of each occupying creature's turn). It's your call, assuming that's what you would want to do.

I might suggest you add a Bleed 1 effect to the Bladed Fern attack and possibly change the Bleed 1d2 effect on the vine attacks to just Bleed 1. Here is my reason for this:
In this combat, you are going to have lots of things going on. You've got the creature making its vine attacks, bladed fern attacks, you've got the grab/grapple checks, and you've got the spore cloud saving throw every round. That's not even the players' actions, which will be attacks, concealment checks on their attacks for the spore cloud, damage rolls, and grapple checks to break free of the vines. That's already a lot of rolling. Do you really need another roll on their turn to see if they take 1 more point of bleed damage? With all the attacks of this creature, most likely everyone's gonna be bleeding and since Bleed doesn't stack typically, just keeping it at 1 point per round (or 2 if you want to be harsher, no one's gonna beat you up) save a dice roll per round for everyone and keep it simple.

Other than that, the Captivating Spore Cloud wording could use some cleaning up. Again, the creature is just for you and your game so it's not like you need a rules lawyer or exact formatting. If I were to clean it up, it might look like this:
Captivating spore cloud (Ex):Once per minute, the ferny bloodsucker may release a dense cloud of spores in a 20-foot radius spread centered on it. The spore cloud persists for 2d4 rounds or until dispersed by a moderate or stronger wind. The cloud obscures vision (as obscuring mist) and creatures within or entering the cloud must succeed at a DC 17 Will saving throw or become fascinated [I use the term 'fascinate' because that is a defined condition, with any variations to it being described immediately after it]. Fascinated creatures take no actions other than to approach the center of the ferny bloodsucker and stand there [removed the part about difficult terrain; that's covered in the Low Profile ability description. Removed the parts about new saves for dangers as that's covered with the Fascinate condition. Removed the part about a new saving throw for being attacked since that's covered and it's pretty much assumed that every round they'll be attacked somehow; by tentacles or the Bladed Fern ability or there will be some obvious danger and threat which would allow a new save] If a fascinated creature succeeds on a new save to end the effect, it is dazed for 1 round. Once a target has saved to resist this effect, it is immune to the spores of this particular ferny bloodsucker for 24 hours. This is a [mind-effecting] ability. The save DC is Constitution-based.

It would be something like that. These are of course, only opinions and suggestions. It seems like you've got a good handle on the basics for now.


Almost forgot the spoiler!:
Guardianlord, it's easier for me to think in terms of 5x5x5-foot cubes. A gargantuan humanoid would stand in roughly a 2x2 square footprint, with 7 to 12 such layers. (It qualifies for its allotted 6x6 area on the strength of moving its arms & legs.) That's 28 to 48 cubes. I want to spread those cubes out flat, one cube high, so 36 cubes in a 6x6 area (30x30 feet) is reasonable, but my original 4x4 (20x20 feet) was not. And since it's in a 6x7 square room... 6x6x1 squares it is! Thanks for helping me look at its size this way.

But yes, it would be easy to raise the CR at some point and bump the size to Colossal, at which point the lid on horizontal coverage is off.

When I think about my party, I think I'll have to go back to DR 5. However, I always max out HP for my monsters; I was giving the typical average HP so you all would recognize numbers. Thanks for the encouragement that it's manageable as CR 6!

Pizza Lord, this critter likes to capture prey and digest its meals slowly, so I want it to have discretion on the bladed ferns. I totally follow your thought on the 1 pt bleed. Therefore I now have:

< Offense >
Melee 4 thorny vines +13 (1d4 P plus grab plus 1 pt bleed), reach 30 ft
Base Atk +5; CMB +21 (+4 grapple; is not itself grappled)
SQ bladed ferns +8 (1d6+6 S); bleed (1 pt); captivating spores (2d4 rnds, Will DC 17)

< Special Abilities >
[...]
Bladed Ferns (Ex) As a swift action, it may attack any or all creatures within its space at the end of its turn with bladed ferns, melee +8 (1d6+6 S) -- reach 0 ft.

Bleed (Ex) It inflicts 1 pt of bleed damage per thorny vine strike (stacking) at the start of its targets’ turns, due to sap that prevents clots.

Grab (Ex) If its target isn’t in a Ferny Bloodsucker-occupied or adjacent square, the grab pulls the target to an adjacent open space or fails. The creature doesn’t become grappled, & maintains up to 4 grapples/turn (+5 circumstance bonus). Maintaining a grapple does normal damage automatically, and it may pin a target or move it 5 feet into an occupied square toward its center (without a free attempt to break the grapple), but the FB must remain stationary while maintaining a grapple.

//////

And now we get to the nubbin: Are spore victims fascinated?

Core under Glossary wrote:
Fascinated: A fascinated creature is entranced by a supernatural or spell effect. The creature stands or sits quietly, taking no actions other than to pay attention to the fascinating effect, for as long as the effect lasts. It takes a –4 penalty on skill checks made as reactions, such as Perception checks. Any potential threat, such as a hostile creature approaching, allows the fascinated creature a new saving throw against the fascinating effect. Any obvious threat, such as someone drawing a weapon, casting a spell, or aiming a ranged weapon at the fascinated creature, automatically breaks the effect. A fascinated creature's ally may shake it free of the spell as a standard action.

There's a lot of features there that I don't care for! Maybe for CR 6 I should live with them anyway, but I don't like them. The target is in a hostile environment by definition, so it's getting Will saves every turn. I could just say so. But letting an ally shake a victim free as a standard action, not so good. And I certainly don't want the effect broken the instant the FB attacks! So here's my next attempt at wording:

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Captivating Spores (Ex) Once per minute, the ferny bloodsucker may release a dense cloud of spores in a 20-foot radius spread centered on it. The spore cloud persists for 2d4 rounds or until a moderate or stronger wind disperses it, and obscures the area (as Obscuring Mist). All creatures within or entering the cloud must succeed at a DC 17 Will saving throw or become captivated. Captivated victims get a new save at the beginning of each turn; failure means they take no actions other than to approach the center of the ferny bloodsucker and stand there. If a captivated creature succeeds on a new save to end the effect, or the effect ends because the cloud is dispersed, the victim is dazed for 1 round. Targets who have actually saved to resist this effect are immune to the spores of any ferny bloodsucker for 24 hours. Captivation is a mind-affecting ability. The save DC is Constitution-based.

What do you think, especially of the Captivating Spores?

And yes, this critter is much improved. Thank you!


Captivated certainly trumps fascinated. At DC17 a few will break out, and the rest will just have to keep trying or hope a spell caster is wise enough to boost their saves for a bit (after throwing some fireballs of course).

You can easily leave some contextual clues on remains to let them think something bad is up ahead so they prebuff. Then let them walk into nothing (heh), then spring the feast (er, encounter) halfway into the area, spores then captivate, and thorns begin the mastication (um, attack).

I might suggest giving them reason to enter the area such as a door on the other side, undigested coins and armor scattered about (uh, situational treasure I mean).

You have the stats down, the behaviors down, motivation down (food), and the strategies and environment down, now you just need the party down (I mean encountering).

Glad to help, it is fun coming up with custom encounters, especially for knowledgeable parties. Keeps the GM's having fun, and the players guessing and having fun. Happy Gaming!

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