Kakuen-Taka, The Hunger that Moves


Round 4: Design thematically linked monsters

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Contributor

I'd love to collaborate with Clinton just so he could write all the cool fluff! All of his prose just grabs me and holds my attention. Great stuff!

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder aka Robert G. McCreary

Boomer, I have to be honest, I haven't been a big fan of your previous entries (though I've been afraid of your competition) - most of them have felt too powerful and well, "epic" for me (for instance, while I loved the idea of Abzirael, I don't think I'd ever have a campaign go high enough to use him).

But Melikiliki-Maka, er, Kakuen-Taka, well, that just blew my socks off!

The zombie mansions filled with swarms of bhoga- and meki- are like brain ooze palanquins on crack, and to me at least, that's a good thing! Your opening description ("black mountains hunching slowly towards our village") was very evocative and hooked me right away, and I wasn't disappointed with what followed. Little monkey-fiends full of teeth FTW! The meki-bird swarms fit nicely, and reminded me of the flocks of crows harrying the Fellowship in LotR. And the patals seem like a good template to make some expendable shock-troops (and the mating/creation ritual was disgustingly genius!).

I did get a bit confused with the names as I read, trying to keep track of which taka was which, but that's a minor problem, and I, too, would have liked to see more about the bhogas' pseudo-feathers and their removal. I really wanted to see a template or stats for the mansions, but I think applying a standard zombie template was a simple and therefore elegant design choice, allowing you to create a completely new third monster for your theme.

In all, great job, I really enjoyed this! I think you've got enough cake under all that frosting, but the frosting does turn off some people, so definitely follow the advice you're getting and look at how some other people used their writing. And please continue to remember that not everyone plays high-powered, Mountain Dew-fueled, "epic" campaigns, and throw us a bone now and then! :)
(James MackKenzie's posts about how to use the Kakuen-Taka in an encounter really helped allay my fears that even these lower-powered guys would have too high of an ECL for me to use easily, so buy him a case of Mountain Dew when this is over!)

Congrats, and good luck!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Aotrscommander

After a good review of everything else, I'm going to go with my initial hunch and say you solidly earn my second vote.

I actually expected to see more monsters, like yours, whose thematic link was functional rather than philosophical (like, say Christine's entry) - my own nascent plans for round 4 ran along that path.

Nice. I like the names. I have to agree with them as wot saids that the pseudo-feathers perhaps detracted too much from the stat blocks, but otherwise, I have few problems. I like expansive ecology and society sections; I feel far too many sentient humanoids are nothing more than bags of Kill/RPG XP with little thought into their socieities (99% of Fey, Monsterous Humanoids, I'm looking at you guys...) The Bhoga-Kantaka have enough to actually justify their easy inclusion into any campaign world. They're pretty much self-contained.

Heck, they fit right in with WotC's 4E 'points of light' philosophy (or as I like to call it, 'unconcious admission that the real wrold is much bigger than you think').

The Patal-Kantaka were the least good of the trio; I think they might have been better with something a little much punchy; poison of disease maybe, as thier schtick on top of just being hitty-smacky. On the other hand, everyone needs meat-shields.

I have no problems with small creatures being strong for a change; though I do think the Bhoga-Kantaka have a rather high AC for a CR 5 party. On the other hand, I think as James points out, these are not really meant for low-level characters to deal with, but as numerous opponents for mid-range parties where they need enough AC not to become chaff without being too damaging. I tend to use much higher numbers of enemies than 3.5 seems to, in terms of chaff monsters, and I usually find that if I'm not careful, they go down too easily or fail to do any damage. The Bhoga-Kantaka seem to fit nicely in that, for example, a mid-to-large encounter would give pause to even the current 10th level party I'm running (which is microscopically less powerful than our usual shocking standard of munchkinism).

Overall, then, excellent job.

Heck, I may even pinch chunks of the Kakuen-Taka to supplement the ranks of my own alien-like Infesters (which fall sowmehere along the lines of Starcraft's Zergs, GW's Tyrannids and the alien from the film Evolution, running around killing stuff for raw material to make more of them; the Kakuen-Taka would fit right in!).

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka amusingsn

I like how you integrated the different monster types into a coherent and symbiotic theme.

I'm not sure how they'd fit into a game world though. They seem to be based on wreaking overt havoc and laying waste, and it seems like if there are any high level NPCs in a given setting, they'd just wipe out all these native outsider creatures -- they're not powerful enough to pose too much trouble to higher level adventurers and they're horrible and terrifying enough to make it worth their time to polish them off.

I guess I would have liked them more if they were natives of the shadow plane, occasionally entering our world for flesh before returning to the shadow plane to slumber the centuries away.

Owner - House of Books and Games LLC , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

SargonX wrote:
... And please continue to remember that not everyone plays high-powered, Mountain Dew-fueled, "epic" campaigns, and throw us a bone now and then!

However, some of us do :)

I'm planning on using this, but with something unbelievably humongous as the mansion. Blue whale skeleton, titanic alligator, who knows. Something heinous.

And look. The latest issue of KQ has the Prince of Swarms.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Aotrscommander

amusingsn wrote:
I'm not sure how they'd fit into a game world though. They seem to be based on wreaking overt havoc and laying waste, and it seems like if there are any high level NPCs in a given setting, they'd just wipe out all these native outsider creatures -- they're not powerful enough to pose too much trouble to higher level adventurers and they're horrible and terrifying enough to make it worth their time to polish them off.

Depends how big a world you're playing on. Don't forget that the world, is like (to paraphrase the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) really big.

My worlds tend to lean as close to real-world ball-park figures as possible, and there's a hell of a lot of room in the world. In such a world, you only have to go a mile or two off the road or path like in the real world, and you're in the wilderness. Certainly I could easily see these things fitting in my Dreemaenhyll, the primary continent (which is not the biggest of the three) which covers I estimate about 16.4 millions square miles; that's getting on the for size of Asia minus Europe, of which just over half is not populated by any major nations (and those that are consist of clusters of civilisation around rivers and trade routes like the real world.)

So you could easily have them wandering around somewhere in the Styx (sic) and the odd maruading group finding civilisation to feast on. Finding them would be a massive hassle, even for high level adventurers. All the scrying, the teleporting for no XP and little to no gold, while their are likely to be Bad Things much closer to home that are more pressing for a groupd of virtuous heroes to be dealing with! Besides, nobody's wiped out Gibberlings or Chaos Beasts yet, not to mention lots of other low-level nasties.


Boomer:
Huge zombies shambling through the night disgorging swarms of nasty flying little extraplanar things, whilst tiny little outsiders and packs of yapping/snarling/growling servants things run hither and thither on the ground: You demonstrate imagination on an epic scale.
BUT:
Your presentation of the ideas seems chaotic and disorganised. I don't know if you ran out of time to write in this round; you certainly leave me with the impression that you did.
Other people have already poked holes in the mechanical side of your presentation. I have a further one.
As far as I am aware, swarm creatures take an extra 50% damage from area effect spells. Your swarm creature entry (Meki-Kantaka) does not mention this in the stat blocks, despite your including the 'immune to weapon damage' bit which is also a feature of swarms of such small creatures. From a DM perspective I do not like it, when prepping a creature, if I find that the stat-block is apparently partially at odds with the abilities/qualities/vulnerabilities that it should possess by creature type according to the glossary in my Monster Manual. It sends me off to have to check websites for errata, and if that fails maybe even to have to write to someone to enquire. In your defence I can only presume that in the crazy morass of stats and abilities that your design process involved this was another one that slipped by you.

EDIT:
Template for Patal-Kantaka located underneath the spoiler tag, so one complaint struck out.

Like others, I also have doubts as to the CR of the first part (Bhoga-Kantaka) of your entry. Whilst in theory their reduced stature renders them less effective as to combat, the sneak attack of +2d6 more than helps to offset that- especially given the durability in combat situations which the high AC, the SR, and the EVASION all combine to give them. (The latter two in particular work together to make Bhoga particularly obnoxious to many 5th level spell-casters lacking a Glitterdust style solution.) Without some way to neutralise those pseudofeathers being available to PCs (maybe they 'short circuit' when wet, or if a PC cleric succeeds in a positive energy 'turning' attempt?) I'm not so certain that the Bhoga who aren't social outcasts oughtn't maybe to come in at CR6.

The 'Why don't they wear armour?' point is also bothering me. Nothing medium or heavy- I see that their evasion would go, their sneak attack, and their pseudofeather bonuses if they wear anything other than light- but certainly chain-shirts (as at least one other poster has already suggested) or some form of leather for their heroes with higher Dex. scores, unless their society/culture is completely anathema to the idea of making things- although their trident usage would appear to contradict this.

One final observation:
The favoured class of the Bhoga (Wilderness Rogue) may be SRD, but it isn't in the basic PHB or DMG. However this is very much a minor quibble in the scale of things, and has little bearing except maybe in situations where a DM wishes to produce 'champion' versions of these pests to spearhead attacks.

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

Steve Greer wrote:
I'd love to collaborate with Clinton just so he could write all the cool fluff! All of his prose just grabs me and holds my attention. Great stuff!

I am stunned into awed, honored silence, sir.

Thank you, and I look forward to ANY opportunity I might have to fulfill my end of that bargain.

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

Charles Evans 25 wrote:

Boomer:

You demonstrate imagination on an epic scale.
BUT:
Your presentation of the ideas seems chaotic and disorganized. I don't know if you ran out of time to write in this round; you certainly leave me with the impression that you did.
Other people have already poked holes in the mechanical side of your presentation. I have a further one.

I assure you that I am taking ALL of these comments, questions, concerns and criticisms VERY seriously - and I ask the community for more feedback!

More feedback for Booms!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Very atmospheric, and if used right a real challenge. I can easily see having a party follow the destruction left in the wake of the Moving Hunger and/or preparing to defend against it.

There are two big missings, though:
- How do you remove those feathers? (If it's there, I couldn't find it), and
- Stats for the Corpse Castles. This is just such a great image. They need their own stats because the players will want to take them down.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka Sir_Wulf

Jeb Boyt wrote:

There are two big missings, though:

- How do you remove those feathers? (If it's there, I couldn't find it), and
- Stats for the Corpse Castles. This is just such a great image. They need their own stats because the players will want to take them down.

I was under the impression that the "mansions" were treated as normal zombies of whatever size.

The feathers could use the same rules as removing well-secured objects while in battle (Grapple and get a pin first).

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

Sir_Wulf wrote:


I was under the impression that the "mansions" were treated as normal zombies of whatever size.

The feathers could use the same rules as removing well-secured objects while in battle (Grapple and get a pin first).

James, if you're at Origins or GenCon this year, be ready for a big ol' smooch, right on the lips.

. . . from my girlfriend.

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

Sir_Wulf wrote:
Jeb Boyt wrote:

There are two big missings, though:

- How do you remove those feathers? (If it's there, I couldn't find it), and
- Stats for the Corpse Castles. This is just such a great image. They need their own stats because the players will want to take them down.

I was under the impression that the "mansions" were treated as normal zombies of whatever size.

The feathers could use the same rules as removing well-secured objects while in battle (Grapple and get a pin first).

I had the same confusion about the mansions on my first read. A second pass showed me what I had missed--they are just big zombies of whatever kind.


Crazy (good and bad), too long, great imagery. I'm not that inspired to use it. It makes me think of a lot of page flipping and a combat that would take up most of the session (if not all of it).

Sovereign Court

I vote No.
So if Robert Salvatore, Michael Moorcock, Clark Ashton Smith, and C.L. Moore put their genes together and spawned a writer of overblown pulp noise, this is it. Seriously, this made me want to put my head in front of a table saw. It biased me against the rest – it’s about the monsters, not about how extravagant you can make your prose.
The little guys and the crows are good, but the template is lacking, and like others, I would much rather have seen the walking mansions written up. In simple, tacit terms.
The pseudo-feathers are also a point that troubles me. Why not just feathers?


Boomer:
With regard to your Age of Worms observation beneath a spoiler on another thread, I know that there is at least one such monster scheduled in the Adventure Path, having read the dungeon Magazines in question; your DM may not have had it in for you, but been using a bona fide dirty trick.
I'm putting this comment here since I figure that you'll be reading responses in this thread fastest.

And even if you do not make it to the next round of this contest, I do not think that you need despair; you have made a name for yourself in this competition, with one of the Paizo writers expressing an interest in working with you after all!


gbonehead wrote:
I'm planning on using this, but with something unbelievably humongous as the mansion. Blue whale skeleton, titanic alligator, who knows. Something heinous.

Tarrasque, just for the OMGWTF value. :P

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

Charles Evans 25 wrote:

Boomer:

With regard to your Age of Worms observation beneath a spoiler on another thread, I know that there is at least one such monster scheduled in the Adventure Path, having read the dungeon Magazines in question; your DM may not have had it in for you, but been using a bona fide dirty trick.

As I remember it, the thing literally comes out of NOWHERE.

It's like, "Well, tonight should just about be the last session of the Campaign! Yep, off we head to go kill the big bad-guy, and . . . wait! What's that, up in the sky? Legolas, do your keen elven eyes perceive the sort of shenanigans that MINE perceive?"

And then BAM! Super-monster from space! For NO REASON!

There is a chance that the text of the adventure gives SLIGHTLY more contextual fore-warning than THAT, but . . . wow, I was taken aback.

Charles Evans 25 wrote:
I'm putting this comment here since I figure that you'll be reading responses in this thread fastest.

Guilty!

Charles Evans 25 wrote:
And even if you do not make it to the next round of this contest, I do not think that you need despair; you have made a name for yourself in this competition, with one of the Paizo writers expressing an interest in working with you after all!

I shall not despair, no matter what - I am simply honored to have had my work seen and critiqued by so many wonderful, brilliant people.

Certainly, I hope that I've made a name for myself, even among people who aren't quite convinced of my aptitude with mechanics or turned on by my style.

My hope would be that such people would see an adventure or a supplement that said "Created by: Clinton J. Boomer", immediately look for the "Edited by" note, and then buy it.

Liberty's Edge Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Congratulations! Glad you made it to the next round.

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

James Hunnicutt wrote:
Congratulations! Glad you made it to the next round.

Me, too!

I intend to present a couple of Designer's Notes, Behind the (DM's) Screen comments and answers to frequently asked questions, but . . .

Well, I'm exhausted at the moment - and ready to move onto the next round after a good night's sleep. My first draft of the encounter is done, so now it's off to bed.

If anyone has really, REALLY important questions about the Hunger That Moves - for, say, a Friday night game-session - pop your question up right here, and I'll get to it first!

Contributor

thatboomerkid wrote:
Steve Greer wrote:
I'd love to collaborate with Clinton just so he could write all the cool fluff! All of his prose just grabs me and holds my attention. Great stuff!

I am stunned into awed, honored silence, sir.

Thank you, and I look forward to ANY opportunity I might have to fulfill my end of that bargain.

Boomer, you brilliant bastard, drop me a line at sgreer@lvcoxmail.com. There's some stuff I want to discuss with you that I'd rather not post on a public forum. (Yeah, I know you're probably working your butt off on your next RPG Superstar assignment. When you get a minute.)


And there we go, Boomer. Steve Greer asking you to email him. Well done, and good luck.


I have basically the same problems as everyone else, its a bit chaotic and disorganized and the feathers aren't explained early enough, but I absolutely love the flavor of the monsters. I can imagine an entire campaign designed around these things, culminating with the PC's blasting their way through hordes of advanced Meki-Kantaka, Bhoga-Kantaka with class levels, Patal-Kantaka, and mansions to finally kill a high level Bhoga-Kantaka cleric guarded by two great wyrm gold dragon mansions and some influential npc allies that have succumb to the poison of the Hunger that Moves and been transformed into Patal-Kantaka, only to find that the chichimec that the hunger worshipped was not some legend, but the real deal.

These are some of the better designed linked monsters I've ever seen and I can't wait to put these in my next campaign, two thumbs way up.


You know this would be totally cool on Occipitus in the Shackled City AP. The whole plane-as-a-body thing would give you the opportunity to do some cool things with all these creatures.

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