Born of Lightning

Round 4: Design thematically linked monsters

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6 aka adanedhel9

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An inky thunderhead
does sound the clash of drums.
A harbinger of dread:
those born of lightning come.

Thematic Link: The three monsters below share a connection to the fury of storms: the thunderstruck form from the clash of lightning and necromancy; the cloud golem merges the natural force of weather with the artificiality of arcane construction; and the squallherds control the winds that shape storms.


The charred corpse rises from the ground. Its burnt skin crackles with electricity as the smell of ozone fills the air. Though lifeless, the corpse's eyes seethe with hatred.

Thunderstruck are the undead remains of those unlucky enough to die from a lightning strike, or other potent source of electricity, while near a source of necromantic energy. The force of the lightning, combined with the fury of the one struck, triggers the latent necromantic power of the area, transforming the corpse. The result is a malicious spirit imbued with the power of storms.

Jealous of the opportunities stolen from them, thunderstruck hate all living creatures. Most stay in the wilderness during fair weather, happy with destroying the local wildlife. When storms come, more intelligent thunderstruck descend on cities to wreak havoc among the civilized peoples.

Usually content with their random carnage, intelligent thunderstruck will often develop vendettas against creatures that show control over the weather. Simple jealousy gives way to anger at those who collude with the deadly natural forces. Thunderstruck will hunt such foes, actively seeking vengeance for their lost lives. They will fight to their own destruction, if necessary, to kill such an opponent.

Travelers can encounter thunderstruck anywhere thunderstorms naturally occur, but always outdoors. Combat is much more likely during stormy weather, when the thunderstruck are at full power and are looking to cause mayhem.

Sample Thunderstruck
This example uses a manticore as the base creature.

Thunderstruck Manticore CR 5
CE Large Undead (augmented magical beast)
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, scent; Listen +5, Spot +9

AC 20, touch 12, flat-footed 17
(+3 Dex, +8 natural, –1 size)
hp 39 (6d12); fast healing 6 (outdoors during a thunderstorm)
Fort +2, Ref +5, Will +6
Defensive Abilities Immune electricity, sonic

Spd 30 ft. (6 squares), fly 50 ft. (clumsy)
Melee 2 claws +7 (2d4+5+1d6 electricity) and
slam +5 (1d8+2+1d6 electricity) and
bite +5 (1d8+2+1d6 electricity)
Ranged 6 spikes +6 (1d8+2/19–20)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks spikes, shock

Before Combat A thunderstruck manticore stalks its prey, preferring to attack from above when its targets are distracted.
During Combat A thunderstruck manticore begins most attacks with a volley of spikes, then closes. In the outdoors, it often uses its powerful wings to stay aloft during battle.
Morale A thunderstruck manticore flees if outnumbered, or if evenly matched in clear weather. They never flee if an opponent shows the ability to influence the weather.

Str 20, Dex 17, Con —, Int 3, Wis 12, Cha 9
Base Atk +3; Grp +12
Feats Flyby Attack, Multiattack, Track*, Weapon Focus (spikes)
Skills Hide –1, Listen +5, Spot +9, Survival +1; Manticores have a +4 racial bonus on Spot checks
Languages Common
Combat Gear —; Other Gear

Special Abilities

Spikes (Ex): With a snap of its tail, a manticore can loose a volley of six spikes as a standard action (make an attack roll for each spike). This attack has a range of 180 feet with no range increment. All targets must be within 30 feet of each other. The creature can launch only twenty-four spikes in any 24-hour period.

Shock (Su): A thunderstruck deals an extra 1d6 electricity damage on any melee attack it makes.

Environment Warm marshes
Organization Solitary, pair, or gang (3–8)
Treasure Standard
Alignment Always Chaotic Evil
Advancement 7–16 HD (Large); 17–18 HD (Huge)
Level Adjustment

Creating a Thunderstruck
"Thunderstruck" is an acquired template that can be added to any corporeal aberration, animal, dragon, giant, humanoid, magical beast, monstrous humanoid, outsider, plant, or vermin susceptible to a lightning strike (hereafter referred to as the base creature).

Size and Type: The creature's type changes to undead, and it gains the augmented subtype. It retains any subtypes except alignment subtypes (such as good) and subtypes that indicate kind (such as goblinoid). Size is unchanged.

Hit Dice: Drop any Hit Dice from class levels (to a minimum of 1), and raise the remaining Hit Dice to d12s.

Armor Class: The creature's natural armor bonus improves by +2.

Base Attack: A thunderstruck has a base attack bonus equal to 1/2 its Hit Dice.

Attack: A thunderstruck retains all the attacks of the base creature and also gains a slam attack if it didn’t already have one. If the base creature can use weapons, the vampire retains this ability. A creature with natural weapons retains those natural weapons.

Damage: Natural and manufactured weapons deal damage normally. A slam attack deals damage depending on the thunderstruck's size. (Use the base creature's slam damage if it’s better.)

Size : Damage
Fine : 1
Diminutive : 1d2
Tiny : 1d3
Small : 1d4
Medium : 1d6
Large : 1d8
Huge : 2d6
Gargantuan : 2d8
Colossal : 4d6

In addition, any melee attack, whether natural or manufactured, deals extra electricity damage (as indicated in the shock ability description).

Special Attacks: A thunderstruck retains the base creature's special attacks and gains the special attack described below.

Shock (Su): A thunderstruck deals an extra 1d6 electricity damage on any melee attack it makes.

Special Qualities: A thunderstruck gains the special quality described below.

Fast Healing (Ex): A thunderstruck heals a number of hit points per round equal to its Hit Dice, provided it is outdoors during a thunderstorm.

Immunity to Electricity and Sonic: A thunderstruck cannot be further hurt by what ended its natural life.

Saves: Base save bonuses are Fort +1/3 HD, Ref +1/3 HD, and Will +1/2 HD +2.

Abilities: Dex +2, Int –4 (minimum 1). As an undead, a thunderstruck has no Constitution score.

Climate/Terrain: As base creature.

Organization: Solitary, pair, or gang (3–8)

Challenge Rating: As base creature, ignoring class levels.

Treasure: As base creature.

Alignment: Always chaotic evil.

Advancement: As base creature (or — if base creature's advancement is by character class).

Level Adjustment:

Cloud Golem

Dense puffs of cloud fill out an iron skeleton to the form of a well-muscled giant. Occasional blasts of cold mist pour out between the metal ribs, only to be drawn in again, creating the illusion of breath. Its steady, golden eyes remain constant among the shifting hues of mist and fog.

The Cerulean Sisterhood first crafted the cloud golems as defenders of their floating ziggurat. The Sisters hid their new guardians, capable of self-sustained flight and concealment, amongst the jungle mists around Jhansi. Many an unsuspecting intruder fell under the sudden force of living cloud bound with iron. As Iskandria's influence grew, the secrets of the cloud golem spread across the Material Planes.

The final phase of construction of a cloud golem must take place during a thunderstorm. As the final spell is cast, a tower of cloud and lightning descends from the storm to the empty skeleton. This tower grants form and life to the golem, fusing cloud, elemental spirit, and iron into a cohesive whole.

Whenever possible, the elemental spirit that drives a cloud golem reforms the construct's body with vapor taken from the local environment. While this allows the golem to repair itself, it also makes it susceptible to changes in the atmosphere. The masters of these golems have found ways to use this to their advantage, while others have determined how to use this trait to disable them.

As is typical with all golems, the cloud golem loyally serves one master, and most encounters with a cloud golem involve that master. Beyond these situations, flying travelers may meet a cloud golem that is running an errand or defending an airborne site. Few masters would put a cloud golem in an enclosed structure, where other golems would serve better.

Cloud Golem CR 10
NN Large Construct
Init –1; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Listen +0, Spot +0
Aura emit cloud

AC 20, touch 8, flat-footed 21
(Dex –1, natural +12, size –1)
hp 96 (12d10+30); fast healing 5 (in fog or cloud)
Fort +4, Ref +3, Will +4
Defensive Abilities emit cloud DR 10/adamantine; Immune ability damage, ability drain, critical hits, death effects, disease, energy drain, exhaustion, fatigue, magic, mind-affecting effects, necromancy effects, non-lethal damage, paralysis, poison, sleep effects, stunning
Spd 40 ft. (8 squares), fly 40 ft. (perfect)
Melee 2 slams +13 (2d6+5)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks

Before Combat A cloud golem's master typically directs it to use its Emit Cloud ability as combat approaches, giving it the advantage of surprise and concealment.
During Combat Unless directed otherwise, a cloud golem attacks the opponent closest to its master. Whenever possible, it stays above its target, using its reach and Emit Cloud ability to maintain concealment.
Morale A cloud golem only leaves combat if ordered to by its master. If the master dies, it stops fighting.

Str 21, Dex 9, Con —, Int —, Wis 11, Cha 1
Base Atk +9; Grp +19
SQ beserk, construct traits
Combat Gear —; Other Gear

Special Abilities

Berserk (Ex): When a cloud golem enters combat, there is a cumulative 1% chance each round that its elemental spirit breaks free and the golem goes berserk. The uncontrolled golem goes on a rampage, attacking the nearest living creature or smashing some object smaller than itself if no creature is within reach, then moving on to spread more destruction. The golem's creator, if within 60 feet, can try to regain control by speaking firmly and persuasively to the golem, which requires a DC 20 Charisma check. It takes 1 minute of inactivity by the golem to reset the golem’s berserk chance to 0%.

Emit Cloud (Ex) Once per round, as a free action, a cloud golem can emit a thick cloud. This cloud functions exactly like the fog cloud spell, centered on the golem, with a duration of 1 round. Note that since the cloud dissipates before the start of the golem's next round, it cannot use this ability to fulfill the condition for its fast healing.

Fast Healing (Su): Whenever a cloud golem is in a cloud or other foggy environment, it gains fast healing 5.

Flight (Su): A cloud golem can cease or resume flight as a free action.

Immunity to Magic (Ex): A cloud golem is immune to any spell or spell-like ability that allows spell resistance. In addition, certain spells and effects function differently against the creature, as noted below.

A cloud golem within the area of an acid fog spell absorbs the fog. The normal effect of the spell ends, but for the remainder of the spell's duration, the golem's slam attacks deal an extra 2d6 acid damage.

A cloud golem within the area of a cloudkill spell absorbs the cloud. The normal effect of the spell ends, but for the remainder of the spell's duration, the golem is stunned, with no saving throw.

A cloud golem within the area of an incendiary cloud spell absorbs the cloud. The normal effect of the spell ends, but for the remainder of the spell's duration, the golem's slam attacks deal an extra 3d6 fire damage.

A cloud golem within the area of a mind fog spell instantly goes berserk (see Berserk entry above). So long as the golem remains within the mind fog, its creator cannot regain control over it.

A cloud golem within the area of a solid fog spell absorbs the cloud. The normal effect of the spell ends, but for the remainder of the spell's duration, the golem is slowed, as the slow spell, with no saving throw.

A cloud golem within the area of a stinking cloud spell absorbs the cloud. The normal effect of the spell ends, but for the remainder of the spell's duration, any creature hit by the golem's slam attack must make a Fortitude save (with the same DC as the original spell) or become nauseated for 1d4+1 rounds.

Environment Any
Organization Solitary or gang (2–4)
Treasure None
Alignment Always Neutral
Advancement 13-20 HD (Large); 21-42 (Huge)
Level Adjustment


A cloud golem's body forms around a skeleton of iron and precious metals worth 1,500 gp; building this framework requires a DC 15 Craft (armorsmithing) or DC 15 Craft (weaponsmithing) check.

CL 11th; Craft Construct, animate objects, control winds, fog cloud, caster must be at least 11th level; Price 44,000 gp; Cost 23,500 + 1,700 xp.


Elven figures with mottled grey skin and tangled white hair glide around the clouds on transparent wings. Occasional flashes of lightning accompany their passes, and the clouds seem to reshape themselves before their paths.

Squallherds are the shepherds of the sky and the guiders of weather. Using powerful blasts of wind, they push fronts across the vast expanse of heavens, often creating massive, destructive storms. The squallherds follow some unknown sign in their drives; they have little care for the effects of the storms on the world below.

Unlike many of their fey kin, squallherds are very structured and organized. Moving a storm requires significant coordination and dedication: scouts monitor conditions, drivers push the front, and others support and defend the drivers. This organization drives not only storm fronts, but also squallherd society. Adolescent squallherds look forward to their first drive and the mark of adulthood earned by it. Those drivers talented enough to enter into the ranks of the scouts gain much respect and a position of leadership in the clan.

When not herding storm fronts, squallherd clans relax in mountain-top settlements called aeries. These settlements feature few buildings and structures, but a clan will return to the same aerie year after year. Other clans rarely even approach another clan's aerie: squallherds closely defend their homes and are quick to assume ill intent of intruders.

Most encounters with squallherds will occur in mountainous regions near their settlements. However, their drives take them all over the Material Plane, so adventurers could meet them anywhere. When encountering strangers, a lone squallherd (a scout if available) will challenge the intruders while the remainder ready to fight or flee.

Squallherd CR 3
LN Medium Fey
Init +2; Senses low-light vision; Listen +7, Spot +7

AC 17, touch 12, flat-footed 15
(+2 armor, +2 Dex, +2 natural, +1 shield)
hp 13 (3d6+3)
Fort +2, Ref +5, Will +4
Defensive Abilities DR 5/cold iron Resist cold 5, electricity 5, sonic 5

Spd 30 ft. (6 squares), fly 40 ft. (good)
Melee short spear +2 (1d6+1/x3)
Ranged short spear +2 (1d6+1/x3)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks become bolt
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 3rd):
At will—gust of wind (DC 13)

Before Combat Whenever possible, squallherds ambush from foggy or cloudy areas.
During Combat Squallherds try to enter combat with Become Bolt, striking multiple opponents if possible. When fighting in groups, some squallherds use gust of wind to maintain distance while others use ranged attacks.
Morale A sqaullherd does not leave combat if he feels that his clan or the drive is in danger. Otherwise, they flee any time they are outnumbered, using Become Bolt to put distance between themselves and their foes.

Str 13, Dex 15, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 13
Base Atk +1; Grp +0
Feats Ability Focus (become bolt), Blind-fight
Skills Balance +1, Climb +0, Escape Artist +1, Hide +11 (+15 in fog or cloud), Knowledge (nature) +8, Listen +7, Move Silently +7, Spot +7, Survival +7 (+9 in aboveground natural environments), Swim –1; Squallherds have a +4 racial bonus to Hide in foggy or cloudy environments
Languages Auran, Common
SQ endure heights
Combat Gear buckler, leather armor, 5 short spears Other Gear

Special Abilities

Become Bolt (Su): A Squallherd can charge with such natural fury that he actually becomes a miniature lightning bolt. Three times per day, he can take a full-round action to move ten times his normal fly speed (400 feet) in a straight line. During this move, he can move through any creature in his path; any such creature takes 1d8 electricity damage (Reflex save DC 14). A squallherd draws no attacks of opportunity when moving this way. The save DC is Constitution-based and includes a +2 bonus from Ability Focus.

Endure Heights (Ex): Squallherds are resistant to the effects of extreme height. They can survive comfortably in conditions as cold as –120 degrees Fahrenheit, and they can breathe the rarified air found at the height of storm clouds.

Environment Any aboveground
Organization Solitary, pair, drive (10–20 plus 2–3 3rd-level scouts), or clan (30–40 plus 6–12 3rd-level scouts, 1–2 3rd-level shamans, and 5–10 noncombatants)
Treasure Standard
Alignment Usually Lawful Neutral
Advancement 4–6 HD (Medium), 7–9 HD (Large) or by class; Favored Class Ranger
Level Adjustment +2

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Initial Comments (name, title, thematic link, design choices, playability, quality of writing, hook, theme, organization): A-
Very professional presentation with good writing. Your intro quote is weak. Solid, but a little uninspired. Lacks some of the brilliance of other submissions from a writing standpoint.

Monsters (proper format, good build, abilities and tactics, quality of mechanics, interesting new mechanics): A-

Thunderstruck: A-
Not a fan of the Thunderstruck name (I keep hearing the AC/DC song). That said, I love that this is an undead template. Cool idea. Good sample creature.

Golem: A-
Great description. I would have liked to see lightning heal the golem, which I think is more fitting to your theme, though all the cloud effects are cool.

Squallherd: A
Interesting concept. Another interesting low CR fey. Nice powers. I like the become bolt ability.

Tilt (did it grab me, is it unique and cool, do I like it, flavor): B
A little something is missing for me here. This submission seems a bit safe. But solid, and professional.

Overall: B+
A solid and professional submission, if a bit on the safe side and lacking some of the brilliant writing found in the other submissions of this caliber.

Joe, you know I think you could win this. This was not your strongest, but I think you definitely did enough to advance. Yours isn’t as good as Russ, Jason or Christine’s, in my view, but it is solid and you should advance.


Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

The thunderstruck is a great example of a forehead-smack creature. I've been reading RPG stuff for 30 years and editing for 10 and I don't think I've ever seen an undead created by a lightning strike or electrocution. And yet it seems so... obvious.

I LOVE it when this happens. I also like that this one happens to be a template, which means I can use the atmosphere with whatever creature is appropriate to my campaign. The associated powers aren't all that creative or spectacular (shock is obvious, and it's difficult to grant brownie points for +2 to natural armor), but the fast healing during a thunderstorm is a really nice touch.

Using the word "skeleton" in the first sentence of the cloud golem's write-up is a bit confusing, as we're sort of hard-wired to take words like that literally when reading stuff for the game. I think what you meant to say was "exo-skeleton," but even so you'd probably be better off saying something like "shell".

Or maybe it _is_ a skeleton with a cloud body surrounding it? But you specifically call it an "empty skeleton," so I'm confused again. I'm going to assume it's actually a skeleton with a cloudy Michelin Man body built around the skeleton. The bit about air escaping from between ribs doesn't seem to really work with this view of the creature, but I'm going to keep it.

The side-effects of the various cloud spells was quite interesting. I think it's sometimes fun when monsters have a certain vulnerability to specific spells.

Conceptually the squallherds are very interesting, and it makes sense that they are fey. Their "become bolt" power is very good.

This is an excellent submission. With minimal editing I think all three monsters are publishable.

MY RANKING: 3 of 3.

The Exchange Kobold Press

Joe, I like the theme you chose and the monsters all work well enough: the cloud effects are great, the encounter possibilities during a thunderstorm are a D&D cliche that deserves some monsters that actually take advantage of that environment, and the cloudherds could make a very interesting society for cloud giants and cloud castles to interact with. The Become Bolt ability really makes the squallherds into something fun and memorable. It's all solid stuff, and as Erik points out, cleanly written and publishable.

That said, I think Clark was onto something when he said it seemed a little safe.

There's no design failures here, but there's also not a lot of risk-taking or wild wahoo elements or compelling language. I'm not saying go gonzo, that's not your style and it's not necessary to win. But it think is it possible to play it too close to the vest, and you're running that risk. Get in touch with your inner demon, poet, or wild man, and let us see what you've got.

Rating: 2/3

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

I agree, by the way. Although I gave this one my highest rating, I do feel that it could have used a little more oomph and I look forward to you stretching a bit more in the next round.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6 aka Core

Would I use this in a game - Yes.

Is it well written - Moderate.

Does the theme hold up - Yes.


Comments - Excellent theme and it is presented fairly well. I like the idea that the theme is both obvious and original. The writing was good but not great and 'Immunity to Magic' is never a good idea, period. Those were the only hold-ups for me but the content is strong enough to push this to the next round me thinks.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka SmiloDan

A good, solid entry.

For the Thunderstruck, I would have given them a straight up Fast Healing 5 or 10, if only because those numbers are easier to do math with while running the encounter.

I'm kind of golemed out, but I think it's a little weird that Cloudkill harms the Cloud Golem, when most of the other cloud-related spells give them combat boosts. Maybe have Cloudkill give them the Wounding ability for 1 minute, and maybe Solid Cloud can give them Stunning Fist for 1 minute? Electrical Healing would have been nice, too.

I like the lightning fey, but you don't say if a successful Reflex Save causes half damage or negates the damage. Cool ability, though.

Scarab Sages



More later.

I like the squall-herds; they're cool. I could see myself using them. (Perhaps its something about fey - I liked the ones in the winter theme, too). The cloud golem rather strikes me as being odd for the sake of it, and the thunderstruck just isn't all that interesting.

But, no, overall, I'm afraid this doesn't get one of my votes.

For those about to rock, we salute you. :)

I immediately thought of a use for thunderstruck followers of Talos in the Forgotten Realms. I'm with Erik...that was a definite head-slapper. The cloud golems were well-constructed, if not inspiring. The squallherds are fantastic. I'd definitely use them.

Overall, nice work. And you've got me thinking up monsters associated with Back in Black, Highway to Hell, and Mistress for Christmas (OK, not the last one). ;)

Can we combine your technical skills with Boomer's writing for a tie? That's what i want!

Did I mention that I love Undead? You did them right here with a painfully obvious method of creation, and did it up as template for more monstery goodness.

Although I've always believed golems should be heavy lumbering fleshy hard to stop things, you've got me excited about the cloud golem.

Little cloud-elves? Interesting. Not heart-stopping, but yeah, if I was running cloud giants, or any campaign in Northern England (where I currently live), there'd be plenty of room for these little zappers.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Sheyd

I love the Thunderstruck, consider it claimed. My party just recently dealt with an Elementally infused storm so now I have a template to use to bring some of the things it killed back to horrible undeath! Yay!

Golems are something I rarely ever use. No reason for it, just never used them much. It looks well written but alas it wouldn't be used often by me.

The Squallherds. An interesting idea and another low level fey, I'm certain it'll find use in my current campaign. It didn't blow my socks off but still well written.

Overall this is a good trio of linked monsters, you did well on them.

The Exchange

I like that Joe's monsters submission is easy to read. It seemed very well organized and because all the information was easy to find I can see myself printing it right off the website to use in my game without having to do a lot cut-paste-highlight on the text.

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

Honestly, I had to fire up the youtube and listen to 'Thunderstruck' when I saw your entry, then popped my "Back in Black" CD in the computer. "Shoot to Thrill" is playing right now!

The Thunderstruck I love as a concept, but at the end of the entry I was left saying, "Was that it?" It was fine, nothing wrong with it, but I wanted more. Heck, even just having 'shock' affect its melee AND ranged attacks (think about that thunderstruck manticore with that!). Maybe a 'death throes' type of ability that when killed releases some sort of electro/sonic pulse. Not sure exactly, but I just wanted a little more of SOMETHING with the monster.

The cloud golem I thought was really neat and liked the different oddball effects of the spells, cuz I like little oddball corner cases like that. Nice little name-drop with Iskandria in there as well. I thought the description worked and I think I have a good visual for it.

The squallherders... at first I just didn't like the name, and then at the beginning of the descriptive text I was thinking "cloud cowboys? WTF?" but by the end of the entry I was sold. I love the become bolt ability. I might give them a better ranged weapon than shortspear (heck, even javelins if you don't want to go with good ol' bow & arrow), but overall this guy works just fine.

Overall, that's some good stuff.

In the "Attack" section of the thunderstruck template, you refer to the creature as "the vampire". Cut and paste this section from the vampire template?

That said, the thunderstruck template is awesome. I agree with some earlier posters that it is very obvious in hindsight, and I am going to use it as soon as possible. Perfect.

So all of these are serviceable – and the thunderstruck is a neat idea. But where’s the flavor text? I mean, you don’t have to go all Boomer but these are mainly stats with a quick explanation, and just don’t move me like many of the other entries. The connecting theme is "weather", which is OK I guess. I’m not sure I’d use more than the thunderstruck in a game, and the entry just didn't have wow factor. I have to give this one a C.

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

I like the concept of these monsters a lot. I've always enjoyed lightning-related creatures so the thunderstruck template was great. The squallherd was interesting too. I'm not quite as much into the cloud golem, but that doesn't mean it's not a good monster, just not ones I can use as easily as the thunderstruck template or the squallherd.

This entry puts you into my second tier behind Darkblight and Bleak Midwinter. I still have to decide where I want to put my last vote.

I like the theme, though the writing seems to fail you in some spots (though only briefly).

I like all the monsters. Enjoy their utility. I'll consider this one for a vote.

Great concept "Born of Lightning" thunderstruck undead. On the rare occassions a Druid PC or NPC uses Call Lightning to kill a BBEG the DM could spring this on them. It gets one of my votes. Good luck in the round 4 polls.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6

Thunderstruck: Yes, one of those d'oh! moments. Simply inspired, cleverly executed. I'll avoid AC/DC referecnes and pop in Ride the Lightning. Thought it's funny, I have an Eric Masterson Heroclix at my desk right now.

Cloud golem: Meh, nice concept, but I just can't wrap my brain around it. Must be a mind fog

Squallherders: Fae Riders in.. the Sky... I like the concept of fae that serve a clear purpose, though shouldn't they have some kind fo group control weather ability?

All in all, Two Out of Three Ain't Bad.

The Exchange

Joe - these are great monsters. I love them and will use them, straight away which is just what I wanted from the contest.

Well done and this is the first time I have voted for your stuff by the way.


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

Oh no. I just read the title and got the Underdog theme song stuck in my head.

And I like these monsters too! Argh!

(looks for icepick)

I noticed the "vampire" too but didn't hold it against him because I do the same thing all the time. The writing kept throwing me off for some reason. I had to go back and read a couple lines. I really liked the fact that the golem had a skeleton instead of just being a floating cloud. The 0% chance of berserk thing didn't make sense to me and the save vs Become Bolt didn't say if it was for 1/2 damage or none so I was left wondering.

This is going to be a tough round to vote on. This is pretty good stuff and I would definitely use the thunderstruck. The herders probably wouldn't make it into my game but they're decent and the golem was cool too.

Let's see... a somewhat ho-hum undead template that fills a glaring void, an interesting golem with quirky spell interactions, and the strangest Fae I've ever seen put to paper.

Good use of theme overall, but I'm not entirely sold.

This is a strong entry, IMO. I like the Thunderborn a lot and I can see it being a nasty surprise for a lightning-happy player.
The Cloud Golem is kind of meh. There's nothing wrong with it the concept just doesn't grab me.
The cloud fey are okay. While the idea doesn't grab me, it is nice to have somone give the fey a distinct purpose in life. I like fey but it would be nice to have more info on their goals and what they did than "Oh they sit in the woods enjoying nature." Kudos for giving them a purpose.
Also, a distinct plus in my opinion is that you included the description before the stats. I like that.

I like these monsters, alot. I agree with Clark that it seems a little safe and professional. But after reading all the other entries, I appreciate that alot. This is a clear entry, that is really easy to follow and get a clear idea of what is going on. It is nice for once not having to wade through dense, heavy writing to understand what is going on. These three creatures are clear, straightforward, and it's clear what they do.

And they are three creatures I can easily drop into my campaign. The thunderstruck is a cool concept that fills a very much needed hole in the game, but maybe is a bit too plain. It needs another 1 or two abilities to make it spark. All it gets is shock and immunity to electricity and sonic. That makes perfect sense, but just leaves it a bit plain feeling. It needs something that screams "I was killed by lightning" so the PCs can work out what is going when they fight it.

The cloud golem is cool as well. I like that he absorbs any cloud spells cast in his area, and then those spells have an effect on him. But looking through the spells and their effects, I'm not sure if there is anyway (short of the obligatory Knowledge check) for the PCs to work out which cloud spells are harmful and which buff him.

But my favorite of all your creatures is the squallherd. I don't really have much more to say about these guys other than to agree with the good comments from the other posters, and to again congratulate you on the become bolt ability, that is great.

Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Clouds Without Water

This is a tough one.

Two of the three are quite nice.

Thunderstruck are going to be the most used monster out of this round, and so far it's the mostly likely entry (of all rounds) for Paizo to actually use. It's such a clearly plug-n-play idea for most any campaign (and thus the best use of the template concept in this round as well).

The Squallherds are also very cool. They're the sort of world-mythology fleshing out I tend to like.

But the Cloud Golem doesn't really go anywhere interesting. If I were to sit down and plan out a Cloud Golem, my first thoughts would look a lot like this one. I appreciate the attempt to hit a classic monster type, but it seems to me it hits the trap of that approach, and is more or less just another golem.

Overall, this is a strong maybe entry.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Steven T. Helt

Well, I gave them all a full review and the post was eaten or whatever.

I will cut down to a few comments:

The entries are serviceable, but not Superstar. I am not really motivated to use any of them at all.

I don't like the acquired template forcing a DM to rwwrite the whole monster, and it seems like the only template in the game that ought to donwgrade the monster's CR. Your poor manticore got screwed for 2 points of dex, 2 points of armor, and the fast healing thing. FH 6 won't keep that poor guy from dying earlier than a living manticore. Also, he can be turned now. No wonder he hates the living.

The golem is uninspired to me. Yay. Another golem. With twice the spells to keep track of, most of them beneficial. That might make the other golems jealous. I just move on to a better monster.

Squallherders are the most original idea of the three. They don't excite me, and maybe should be EL4. I would rather see them have full immunity to sonic and electricity. Res 5 for their hobbies just means they leave a good-looing corpse.

Congratualtions on makeing Top 8. The top 1% of all contestants. Go you!

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder aka Robert G. McCreary

I originally went with "storms" as my theme as well, before throwing everything out and going with oozes, so I was very interested to see what you did with it.

So I'm scrolling down, la-di-da, and I see the cloud golem in Iskandria! It was fun to see what you did with "my" theme and my country. I had thought of a construct guardian for the ziggurats as well, but couldn't figure a way to overcome the cliche. But the cloud golem is a great new version of the old standard. I love the cloud form over the iron skeleton, and the different effects of spells on it. My only real problem is with the effects of cloudkill - if the PCs use it, the golem is stunned for at least 10 minutes, which means it's toast. A golem should have a weakness, but I think this one is too much. I also think making it immune to electricity would make sense. But otherwise, I really liked it.

Not a big fan of the thunderstruck (mainly because I'm annoyed with the overabundance of undead templates), but like everyone says, it does fill a niche. Of course, AC/DC came into my head with the name, too. Another poster called them thunderborn, which is a better name, IMO.

And finally we come to the squallherds. I was turned off by the name at first, I think because of the psionic thrallherds last round, but the name really fits. I, too, was working on a fey for my storm theme and I think you really brought it here. I love the concept, and of course, the become bolt ability. I would have liked to see a little more about why they herd clouds, but I'm sure the word count restrictions affected you the same as all of us.

Really cool entry, love the theme, and loved seeing what you did with it. Congrats, and good luck!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Aotrscommander

Stupid ********* boards. That's two posts it ate this morning, naturally the only time when I didn't copy right before I posted.

Sigh. Again then, though shorter this time...(seriously, Paizo tech monkeies, you need to get this sorted out. Out of all the boards I frequent, this only one of two that does so with shuch shocking regularity.)

I didn't smack my forehead about the Thunderstruck, since I've been playing around for some tiem with a similar concept (the Storm-Slain). As I haven't statted them out yet, I might well use parts of the Thunderstruck (nice name, by the way.) The only thing I think I'd have added was a rangded lightning attack of some sort, I think.

The Cloud Golem was a bit so-so. Not a bad idea, but not a massively inspirign one, either. I think the Cloudkill 'I win' stun button needs to go. Actually, I thought that and Solid Fog would be joining the ranks of the mist-buffs, actually.

I like the name Squallherd (I love this kind of play-on-words/twist naming), though I'm less entralled about the actual monster. Become Bolt was the highlight, though (but Reflex save for half or negates; you don't say unless I missed it). I'd have made it scale with level, too.

Overall, not a bad job, just one that failed to grab like some of the others did.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka JoelF847

Core wrote:
The writing was good but not great and 'Immunity to Magic' is never a good idea, period.

I disagree with this comment. It's the second golem in the round I've read and you've said it for both. However you might feel about the design choice of this SQ, it's a core power of true golems, and therefore very appropriate for new golems. If you don't like it in core 3E, that's okay, but I don't think you should knock a new golem following the footsteps of the game's definition of a golem.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka JoelF847

Overall, a good entry, but not in the top tier. I liked the thunderstruck entry, and if/when I use it, I'll probably give it shocking burst on a crit also.

The cloud golem is a great new golem concept, but I felt it lacked two things. First was some sort of cool offensive power, probably something tied to its fog cloud ability - or maybe causing it to rain, further reducing visibility and affecting fire spells in its area. I also thought the immunity to magic was lacking - not that you had it (see above post), but that some offensive cloud spells hurt it and others helped it. I kept waiting to see how gust of wind hurt it and what a whirlwind spell would do to it. (I'd rule 3d6 damage for gust, and save or die for whirlwind.)

I liked the squalherd as well, but felt that a little more information on what they do other than move storms around would have been good. What do they like and dislike that will cause conflict with the PCs. I like the become bolt power, especially since one of my favorite newer D&D spells is Lightning Leap from the PHII, which uses a similar mechanic.

I love, love, love the thunderstruck. I'm a sucker for new undead templates that are both flavorful and simple. Yeah, the shock ability is a no-brainer, but it's so obvious I would have thought you a little crazy if you hadn't included it.

The other two I'm not sure about. As far as I looked at the mechanics and writing they seem fine to me, it's the concepts I'm not sure about. Cloud golem...not bad, just a bit uninspired. The squallherds are very interesting visually, but I just can't imagine ever using them in one of my campaigns.

Thunderstruck. Great name choice. Cloud golem? Eh. Squallherds? Also a really good name choice. You get points for a good, linked theme. I also like the flavor text at the beginning and at the start of the entries. (I note that this is the second entry that I have read that mentions constructs significantly.) However, I would have liked to see the actual monsters relate more closely together. Aside from being storm related, they are pretty far apart.

The thunderstruck critter itself? Eh. It deals lightning damage, and it has some immunities. Not bad. Not amazing. Still solid.

The cloud golem has a vast array of defense powers. Its offense however is very straightforward. You have excellent writing here. I’m not quite sure the creature lives up to the promise inspired by the idea of clouds bound into a metal skeleton. However, it does possess a cool ability to generate a fog cloud every round. That’s verging into new territory and I like that aspect of it.

Squallherd – I wasn’t quite sure that this was CR 3 until I read the full entry. I love the idea of huffing, puffing fey. They have an unusual, appropriate ability with their gust of wind. That’s cool. Then you let them turn into lightning. That’s really cool. You get points for executing a low-level monster interestingly and well, in tune with the flavor of the entry. I would like to have seen you indicate the upper degrees of their temperature range for Endure Heights. That could be important.

So, one creature I know I could steal, and two I might steal. Overall, good writing here. I didn’t notice anything glaringly wrong with the entries, and they had a nice, short set of powers apiece. I think you pull ahead of the pack with substance over style.

Since in my PHB acid fog is solid fog with the addition of acid damage, I was slightly surprised that acid fog did not slow the Cloud Golem, besides giving it acid damage to its melee attacks; but maybe the higher level of the acid fog spell in some way empowers the Cloud Golem to in some way overcome what might otherwise logically be a slowing effect.
I liked the squall-herds, but one out of three in this round isn't enough for me, with the competition that Joe is up against for my votes.

I liked these in general, and this was one of my votes.
One quibble - as others have noted, the description of the cloud golem is a bit unclear. Is it a giant-shaped cage filled with cloud, or a metal skeleton fleshed in cloud?
I really like the Become Bolt ability of the cloudherders.

Sovereign Court

I started from a viewpoint of why would I use this and then I got to the elven cloudherds and said no. No.
Nothing makes the thunderstruck stand out as an undead choice. There are so many undead, why use this one?
The cloud golem falls into the same boat. Why use it instead of some other golem? Because it can fly? Why does it need a skeleton? It seems like flavor test for the church of a sky god in a particular campaign.
As for the squallherds, they are just too silly for me. I don’t buy it.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6 aka adanedhel9

I struggled with this round. I spent too much time working on ideas that didn't pan out... eventually I chose a theme that I knew that I could execute, even if it wasn't the most exciting or original. So when I started on this concept (with only a few days to go) I just wasn't drawn to it, and I had a hard time forcing myself to work on it.

The result was a rather short entry with several oversights: yes, I copy-pasted parts from "Creating a Vampire"; the cloud golem is supposed to be clouds around an iron skeleton; the save for Become Bolt halves the damage. Given another shot, I'd have added more crunch to the thunderstruck (I particularly liked the suggestion of a death-throes effect), cleaned up the cloud golem some (maybe even replaced it with something else), added more fluff to the squallherds (such as a full-blown "Squallherd Society" section), and actually written an introduction.

To the judges and all those that saw past the problems and found something they could use: thank you for your support. Those 3-1/2 days between submission and posting were terrible on me, and all the friendly posts really helped get me excited for this contest again.

And to those who voted for me: I am excited for the next round, and (assuming I'm still in the running) I think you'll be rewarded for your confidence in this designer.

I just recently discovered paizo's site here,
but I wanted to leave my feedback about your work,
actually your Kotalya demon-nymph
(I thought I'd post it here, since it seems the active/current thread)

...I noticed alot of comments on how there wasn't much MOTIVATION, etc, of the Kotalya character, some actually liking it, and I actually appreciated it as well, because if I am actually going to use some element like this is in a campaign, I need a certain room to imagine AROUND it, or fit it into my specific campaign world...

the unexplained WHY she left the Demon plane to muck around some corner of the material plane with no big goals leaves so many options to link into, certainly suggesting PROBLEMS on the Demon plane that made a sabbatical in the sticks a more safe choice...

Equally, I thought the evil druids could be connected to a larger faction of them, specifically reminding me of the evil Desert Druids in the Bereket nation created by another writer in this contest (!)...

...and either of those plots (or BOTH) could be a way to BRING the characters to Kotalya (as a side-track from bigger epic conflicts, bringing more information/connections/important loot) or to LEAD them into those larger dramas thru information gleaned from Kotalya & minions, or evidence from the aftermath.

Good job & good luck on the final round!

I like the idea for the thunderstruck (though i also hear the song in my head) because I cant remember an elecctrically themed undead, ever.

I like golems. Other than that no comment on the cloud golem.

The squallherds are genious. I love the image of hundreds of lightning bolts emerging from a cloud and striking an enemy army or some other large gathering, only to spring from the searing impact as elfish creatures and attack.

Overal, a very good job.

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