Contestants: Would you like a critique of your villain stat block?


RPG Superstar™ 2008 General Discussion


I was wondering if any of the contestants would like a critique of their villain stat block. I've been working in the industry as a writer, editor, and stat block editor for three years now, and I would be more than happy to offer my expertise.

What I want to do is go through the stat block (and only the stat block) and point out any formatting, math, or other errors that I find. It could be a really helpful tool for later rounds, especially the upcoming monster round. I will not make any comments on flavor or creativity; this will be a straight mechanical critique.

I'll only do this for contestants that request it. I've actually finished the critique for the first entry. So, Mr. MacLeod, if you'd like to see my critique of Torquil, let me know. Don't worry; you did a very good job. =]

BD

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6 , Dedicated Voter Season 6

Blackdirge wrote:

I was wondering if any of the contestants would like a critique of their villain stat block. I've been working in the industry as a writer, editor, and stat block editor for three years now, and I would be more than happy to offer my expertise.

What I want to do is go through the stat block (and only the stat block) and point out any formatting, math, or other errors that I find. It could be a really helpful tool for later rounds, especially the upcoming monster round. I will not make any comments on flavor or creativity; this will be a straight mechanical critique.

I'll only do this for contestants that request it. I've actually finished the critique for the first entry. So, Mr. MacLeod, if you'd like to see my critique of Torquil, let me know. Don't worry; you did a very good job. =]

BD

I'd certainly like to see it. I've done a lot of stat block editing myself for the RPGA, but there's always room to grow. Thanks!


Russ Taylor wrote:
I'd certainly like to see it. I've done a lot of stat block editing myself for the RPGA, but there's always room to grow. Thanks!

Great job, Russ. That was a bear of a stat block, and the errors you made were very minor; in fact, the AC is the only real “error,” the rest are pretty nitpicky.

Your grade, sir, for this stat block is an A-. Without the AC error, I would have given you a solid A.

Spd: The number of squares Seskadrin can move in a round (6) should be listed next to his land speed. However, this may not be Paizo formatting, although it is standard for WoTC.

Melee: The damage for the +1 elf bane trident should be listed as (2d6+7 plus 2d6 against elves)

Hp: Should be 144 (monstrous humanoids [4.5 +4 Con]*8 plus paladin [5.5+4 Con]*8)

AC: It looks like his base armor class should be 23 (-1 size, +1 Dex, +7 natural, +4 bracers, +2 ring), which would make his touch AC 12, and his flat-footed AC 22

Spell-Like Abilities: Add the saving throw DC for the contagion spell. It should be: contagion (DC 15 [+3 spell, +2 Wis]), This really should be done for all spells and spell-like abilities that require saving throws.

Blood Frenzy: Personally, for abilities like rage and blood frenzy, I like to see a listing of all the stat block entries that are affected by the condition. For example, how the ogre barbarian is listed in the SRD.

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

YES, I MOST CERTAINLY WOULD!

(btw, I know a few of the places that I screwed up already, but I'm at risk of a DQ if I mention them out loud.)

Every writer needs an editor.

A good writer, however, needs a GREAT editor.


thatboomerkid wrote:

YES, I MOST CERTAINLY WOULD!

(btw, I know a few of the places that I screwed up already, but I'm at risk of a DQ if I mention them out loud.)

Every writer needs an editor.

A good writer, however, needs a GREAT editor.

Okay, Clinton here it is. There were a number of formatting issues, some errors, and one pretty glaring omission (the SQ entry). Not the worst I’ve seen, but there were some errors here that would affect playability. I give you a C+ for this stat block.

CR: Should be 15. There is no increase for the elite stat array when a monster has levels in a PC class. The elite array is assumed.

Hp: Should be 227

SR: Should be 30 (10 + 20 HD).

Melee: The fire damage from hand afire and sneak attack damage should not be listed in the damage values for natural attacks. Situational damage like this isn’t typically listed unless it’s actually a function of the weapon. For example, an orc bane longsword would list as: (1d8+4 plus 2d6 against orcs).

Special Attacks: The special attacks should be listed here in an abbreviated form. The full detail should be listed under Special Qualities at the end of the stat block. Sneak attack should be listed among the special attacks, as should most of the pyrokineticist class abilities (fire lash, hand aflame, bolt of fire, etc.).

Spell-Like Abilities: The DC for poison should be 19; it’s a 4th-level cleric spell. The 1/day heading should be listed only once; it’s okay to mix the spell-like abilities from djinn and half-fiend. You’ve omitted the djinn’s ability to assume gaseous form 1/day.

Skills: You’ve over spent on skill points. I count 253 points spent; 7 points over the maximum of 246 ([8+4]*[15 outsider Hit Dice] + [2+4]*[5 pyro levels] + [8+4]*[3 rogue levels]).

SQ: This section is missing pretty much everything. It should include the left over rogue stuff (trapfinding and trap sense), as well as the remaining pyro stuff (fire adaptation). Plane shift should be listed among the spell-like abilities, as it functions exactly like the spell of the same name.

Combat Gear: The magical items should not be capitalized.

Special Abilities: Typically, special abilities from the core PHB classes (such as evasion and trapfinding) are not detailed in the stat block.

Thanks for volunteering. It was a hairy stat block, and it took balls to let someone go over it with a fine-toothed comb. I hope this critique, and any others I do in this thread, will help you in future rounds.

BD

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar aka Leandra Christine Schneider

Hi there!

I'd love if you do mine too if you still have the energy (:P).
Also, I have a few questions I'd like to ask:

1. Is it required to take average values for hp? It certainly makes sense, but I always thought that there is a little freedom involved. If you look at the rules for round 3 it is even hinted at that.

2. What should I do with the gender part of my stat block, if the creature I describe isn't simply male or female? (Have a look at my entry and at the judges reply for details.)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6 aka adanedhel9

Hey, BD, I absolutely would love a check of my stat block. I already know of a few mistakes I've made (one of which I spotted approximately 3 minutes after I submitted), but having someone else go over it with a fine-toothed comb would be great.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka amusingsn

Feel free to post a critique of the stat block of Mwana, Queen of the Slithering. All criticism is welcome.

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Hey, if you're feelin' it, go for the gusto. The misplaced (though not missing--just in the wrong place) hit point entry, of course, has been already pointed out by the judges, but feel free to give it the full monty.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka Sir_Wulf

I'd appreciate your feedback regarding the Haunter of the Hills. The text errors in the Special Attacks area have been pointed out, but that's the first stat block I've ever written, so your experience will be invaluable.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 8

Blackdirge wrote:

I was wondering if any of the contestants would like a critique of their villain stat block. I've been working in the industry as a writer, editor, and stat block editor for three years now, and I would be more than happy to offer my expertise.

BD

Please do.

Joseph Yerger


LeandraChristine wrote:

Hi there!

I'd love if you do mine too if you still have the energy (:P).
Also, I have a few questions I'd like to ask:

1. Is it required to take average values for hp? It certainly makes sense, but I always thought that there is a little freedom involved. If you look at the rules for round 3 it is even hinted at that.

2. What should I do with the gender part of my stat block, if the creature I describe isn't simply male or female? (Have a look at my entry and at the judges reply for details.)

Okay, Christine, that’s a pretty solid stat block. The only real error is the armor check penalty, but that’s pretty minor. The rest is all formatting stuff. Since I think I figured out why your villain has the “female mindset,” I’m going to bump the grade the Clark gave you (B+) to an A-. Good work!

_______________________________________________________________________

If I understand your character correctly, he was a female before being remade as an elan, hence the female mindset. Is that correct? If so, I have no issues regarding how you listed it: Male (female mindset) elan…

Hp: Should be 37. To answer your question, standard SRD format uses an average amount. This amount is gained by taking and average hit point total based on the type of Hit Die the monster or NPC possess. The average amounts are:

1d4 – 2.5
1d6 – 3.5
1d8 – 4.5
1d10 – 5.5
1d12 – 6.5

To get the average hit points, take the average mount from the Hit Die, add the Constitution modifier, and then multiply by Hit Dice. So, for your villain, it would be (2.5-1)*1 plus (5.5-1)*8, which, rounded down, equals 37.

Immune: Aberration traits are not normally listed in the immunities section; however, since elan are so unusual, I think it’s easy to forget that they are not humanoids. So, normally, it’s not listed, but I think listing it here wasn’t a bad idea.

Melee: Short sword and mind blade are two words. Extra damage for weapon special abilities should be listed with a “plus” rather than a “+,” also, when a weapon has a x2 crit modifier, it’s not listed. So your weapon entry should look like this: +2 vicious mind blade (1d6+2 plus 2d6/19-20).

Ranged: See melee.

Special Attacks: Personally, I think all the mind blade stuff should be listed here rather than in the SQ entry, but that’s certainly open for debate.

Powers:grease, psionic should be listed as psionic grease. That’s standard for any spell or power with words like psionic or greater in the title.

Skills: There should only be a –1 armor check penalty to all the applicable skills. The +1 chain shirt and +1 buckler are both considered masterwork, so their associated armor check penalties are reduced by 1.

Languages: All languages should be capitalized.

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar aka Leandra Christine Schneider

Blackdirge wrote:
If I understand your character correctly, he was a female before being remade as an elan, hence the female mindset. Is that correct?

I think I'm not allowed to answer that, yet ;-)

Thank you very much for the critique and that spell entry with the "," struck me as strange too...I just didn't realize that "psionic"~"greater" in that case.

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

Blackdirge wrote:


Okay, Clinton here it is. There were a number of formatting issues, some errors, and one pretty glaring omission (the SQ entry). Not the worst I’ve seen, but there were some errors here that would affect playability. I give you a C+ for this stat block.

*SNIP!*

Blackdirge wrote:


Thanks for volunteering. It was a hairy stat block, and it took balls to let someone go over it with a fine-toothed comb. I hope this critique, and any others I do in this thread, will help you in future rounds.

BD

Sir, I thank YOU - your insights are much the same as my own, although far more in-depth and professional. I would hope that any DMs wishing to use Abzirael would kick by this thread and make the errata-adjustments necassary for play.

I said to myself about three minutes after I hit submit & then re-read the draft, "Well, at least they'll know that I didn't have any help from anybody."

Thank you again, sincerely, for helping out a guy with big ideas, a sense of how to spend feats & stack stats, and an apparent complete, crushing inability to build a competent SQ section.


thatboomerkid wrote:
Sir, I thank YOU - your insights are much the same as my own, although far more in-depth and professional. I would hope that any DMs wishing to use Abzirael would kick by this thread and make the errata-adjustments necassary for play.

You're very welcome. I have no doubt that you will continue to sharpen your mechanical skills as the contest progresses.

thatboomerkid wrote:
I said to myself about three minutes after I hit submit & then re-read the draft, "Well, at least they'll know that I didn't have any help from anybody."

Trust me, your stat block wasn't that bad. I've seen much worse. By the way, I love your villain. I have a reputation for crazy monster and NPC builds, so a half-fiend four-armed sahuagin pyrokineticist/rogue is right up my alley. I mean, I publish two lines of products narrated by an advanced doppelganger lich bard. =]

thatboomerkid wrote:
Thank you again, sincerely, for helping out a guy with big ideas, a sense of how to spend feats & stack stats, and an apparent complete, crushing inability to build a competent SQ section.

What I would reccomend to you, or any of the contestants that make it through, is to get a copy of any current Paizo product with stat blocks. Really study what goes into all the various stat block entries, especially SQ, Special Attacks, Defensive Abilities, Immune, and Resist. This should give you a clear sense of formatting, and what the Paizo editors expect.

BD


Hi all,

I'm going to try to get to everyone that requested a critique in the next couple of days. I plan to have them all done before the next round.

I can still take a few more, so if anyone else would like a critique, let me know.

I'd also like to say that, overall, I'm impressed with the stat block execution this round. Keep up the good work.

BD

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