Gulga Cench, Scion of Cyth-V’sug


Round 3: Create a villain stat block

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Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Gulga Cench, Scion of Cyth-V’sug
Male half-fiend otyugh wizard 5 / cleric 3 / mystic theurge 5

A devious sewer dweller labors in darkness to deliver an army capable of conquering the world in his demon lord’s name.

Description:
The unholy birth of self-named Gulga Cench arose from demonic parasites infecting his otyugh mother during her pregnancy. When apprenticed conjurers hastily flushed the remains of an errant summoning ritual into the sewers, Gulga’s expectant mother dined on the fungal spores of a fiend devoted to the demon lord, Cyth-V’sug. Although Gulga’s mother died giving birth, her infection passed on an abyssal heritage that serves her son well.

Gulga appears distinctly different from typical otyughs due to his chalk-white, moldering hide, imparted by Cyth-V’sug’s parasites. His size reaches 9 feet in diameter and he weighs over 700 pounds. Ragged bat wings stretch behind his primary tentacles, coated in musty spores choked with the stench of decay. Smaller arms with demonic claws extrude from his lower body to feed his massive maw. And multiple horns line the back of his sensory-stalk, bathed in the hellish glow of his unblinking red eyes.

Motivations/Goals:
Far more intelligent than his own kind, Gulga yearns for two primary things – the elevation of otyugh culture to unrivaled prominence; and the day his demon lord subjugates the Material Plane and rewards his faith. Dwelling among underground denizens of wererats, derro, drow and otyughs, Gulga also seeks to amass enough arcane knowledge and illusion-driven guile to grow his Azurescent Consortium of sleeper agents and informers into world-spanning power.

Schemes/Plots/Adventure Hooks:
Gulga works to accomplish his goals by conducting experiments on his own kind. Sometimes he consults with the deviant derro and drow, collecting arcane knowledge of transmutation to enhance the average intelligence of the otyugh species. Other times, he takes a direct hand in siring sporebound otyughs, striving to produce an entirely new breed. Any resistant otyughs become candidates for demonic possession instead.

Gulga has also established relations with followers of Urgathoa to spread disease and weaken those who might resist the armies of Cyth-V’sug. Occasionally, he trades them samples of filth fever and other contagions in exchange for arcane lore to further his studies. He also sends envoys to other parts of the world to find more minions and raise new cells among the sewers of faraway lands. These enterprises are well-funded by the information brokerage and fungus-grown drug-trafficking he conducts with his wererat cohort, Brimback, and stirge familiar, Memorymaker. Few suspect the mastermind behind these activities or their ultimate purpose, as Gulga frequently masks himself with illusions when meeting others.


  • Gulga has shipped his fungal drugs to several major population centers. Once he addicts enough people, he will switch the inhalants to spread Cyth-V’sug’s diseased spores instead. Abadar’s priesthood divines the threat and turns to the PCs for help.
  • Gulga learns the PCs have arcane items that could further his research and offers to broker a deal with them, preparing “alternatives” if they refuse.

GULGA CENCH CR 17 [4 base for otyugh, +3 for half-fiend template (11+ HD), +3 for first six levels of non-associated classes, +7 for next four levels of non-associated classes]
NE Large outsider (augmented aberration, native)
Init +1 [+1 Dex]; Senses darkvision 60 ft., see invisibility, scent; Perception +7 [3 ranks, +2 Wis, +2 Alertness]

===== Defense =====

AC 31 [+4 armor, +4 deflection, +1 Dex, +9 natural, +4 shield, -1 size], touch 14 [+4 deflection, +1 Dex, -1 size], flat-footed 30 [+4 armor, +4 deflection, +9 natural, +4 shield -1 size]
(+4 armor, +4 deflection, +1 Dex, +9 natural, +4 shield, -1 size)
hp 169 (9d8+10d6+94) [6d8 aberration, 5d6 wizard, 3d8 cleric, 5d6 mystic theurge, +3 Con x19, +22 Toughness, +15 false life]
Fort +15 [+2 aberration, +3 cleric, +1 wizard, +2 mystic theurge, +3 Con, +4 resistance], Ref +11 [+2 aberration, +1 cleric, +1 wizard, +2 mystic theurge, +1 Dex, +4 resistance], Will +21 [+5 aberration, +3 cleric, +4 wizard, +3 mystic theurge, +2 Wis, +4 resistance]
Defensive Abilities resist acid 10, cold 10, electricity 10, fire 10 DR 10/magic; Immune poison; SR 29 [base 10, +19 total Hit Dice]

===== Offense =====

Spd 50 ft., fly 20 ft. (average)
Melee 2 tentacles +14 [+10 BAB, +4 Str, +1 Weapon Focus, -1 size] (1d6+4) [+4 Str] and 2 claws +11 [+10 BAB, +4 Str, -1 size, -2 secondary natural weapons] (1d6+4) [Large half-fiend claw, +4 Str] and bite +11 [+10 BAB, +4 Str, -1 size, -2 secondary natural weapon] (1d8+4) [Large half-fiend bite, +4 Str] or Large +3 shock scimitar +18 (with hand of the apprentice) [+10 BAB, +5 Int, +3 magic] (1d8+8 plus 1d6 electricity / 18-20) [+5 Int, +3 magic]
Ranged acid dart +11 ranged touch [+10 BAB, +1 Dex] (1d6+1)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft. (15 ft. with tentacles)
Special Attacks acid dart, channel negative energy (6/day [base 3, +3 Cha], 2d6 damage, DC 14) [3rd level cleric, DC base 10, +1 (half of cleric level rounded down), +3 Cha], constrict 1d6+4 [+4 Str], disease, hand of the apprentice, improved grab, smite good, spell-like abilities, touch of evil
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 19th): [6 Hit Dice from otyugh, 13 Hit Dice from class levels]
3/day—darkness, poison (DC 17) [base 10, +4 spell level, +3 Cha], unholy aura (DC 21) [base 10, +8 spell level, +3 Cha],
1/day—blasphemy (DC 20) [base 10, +7 spell level, +3 Cha], contagion (DC 16) [base 10, +3 spell level, +3 Cha], desecrate, destruction (DC 20) [base 10, +7 spell level, +3 Cha], horrid wilting (DC 21) [base 10, +8 spell level, +3 Cha], summon monster IX (fiends only), unhallow, unholy blight (DC 17) [base 10, +4 spell level, +3 Cha]
Spells Prepared (wizard, CL 10th; +14 touch [+10 BAB, +4 Str, +1 Weapon Focus (tentacle), -1 size], +11 ranged touch [+10 BAB, +1 Dex]):
5th—cloudkill (DC 20) [base 10, +5 spell level, +5 Int], persistent image (DC 20) [base 10, +5 spell level, +5 Int]
4th—dimension door, enervation (DC 19) [base 10, +4 spell level, +5 Int], lesser globe of invulnerability
3rd—gaseous form, lightning bolt (DC 18) [base 10, +3 spell level, +5 Int], stinking cloud (DC 18) [base 10, +3 spell level, +5 Int], vampiric touch (DC 18) [base 10, +3 spell level, +5 Int]
2nd—detect thoughts (DC 17) [base 10, +2 spell level, +5 Int], eagle’s splendor, false life, fox’s cunning, invisibility, touch of idiocy
1st—chill touch (DC 16) [base 10, +1 spell level, +5 Int], expeditious retreat, mage armor, ray of enfeeblement (2), shocking grasp, silent image (DC 16) [base 10, +1 spell level, +5 Int]
0—arcane mark, ghost sound (DC 15) [base 10, +5 Int], prestidigitation, touch of fatigue

(cleric, CL 8th):
4th—cure critical wounds, discern lies (DC 16) [base 10, +4 spell level, +2 Wis]
3rd—mirror image, deeper darkness, meld into stone
2nd—bull’s strength, cure moderate wounds, shield, silence (DC 14) [base 10, +2 spell level, +2 Wis]
1st—bane (DC 13) [base 10, +1 spell level, +2 Wis], cure light wounds (3), magic stone, obscuring mist, protection from good
0—detect magic, detect poison, light, read magic
Domains Earth, Evil

===== Tactics =====

Before Combat Gulga casts false life and mage armor every day. If aware of approaching enemies, he also casts bull’s strength, eagle’s splendor, expeditious retreat, fox’s cunning, and mirror image before combat. He then raises his lesser globe of invulnerability, shield and unholy aura to protect himself and his minions.
During Combat Once battle begins, Gulga immediately invokes his blasphemy ability to kill, paralyze, or severely weaken any nonevil opponents. He then summons extra help, usually comprised of 1-3 vrocks, via his summon monster IX ability. While they handle combat on the ground, Gulga takes to the air. Hovering over the fray, he uses his wand of black tentacles to impede and trap those too weak to resist, following up with ray of enfeeblement or enervation against anyone still struggling. He casts horrid wilting, cloudkill or stinking cloud on trapped victims, or summons his hand of the apprentice to draw and wield his +3 shock scimitar from above. If prevented from flying, Gulga doesn’t hesitate to close on opponents, using his improved grab and constrict attacks after empowering them with touch spells or his smite good ability. He also sends his stirge familiar, Memorymaker, to harass enemy spellcasters by delivering a touch of idiocy or hovering near them while cloaked by invisibility and silence.
Morale Due to his highly-developed survival instinct, Gulga never fights to the death. If reduced to less than 40 hit points, he uses deeper darkness to hide before casting a persistent image of himself continuing the battle. He then uses meld into stone as a temporary retreat, taking time within the stone to heal his wounds, observe and learn from the remaining battle’s outcome, as well as eavesdrop on any PCs. Before finally emerging, he casts invisibility or gaseous form to fully aid his escape, but he also saves dimension door for a faster retreat, in case anyone sees through his ruse.
Base Statistics AC 19 [+1 Dex, +9 natural, -1 size], touch 10 [+1 Dex, -1 size], flat-footed 18 [+9 natural, -1 size]; hp 154 (9d8+10d6+79) [6d8 aberration, 5d6 wizard, 3d8 cleric, 5d6 mystic theurge, +3 Con x19, +22 Toughness]; Fort +11 [+2 aberration, +3 cleric, +1 wizard, +2 mystic theurge, +3 Con], Ref +7 [+2 aberration, +1 cleric, +1 wizard, +2 mystic theurge, +1 Dex], Will +17 [+5 aberration, +3 cleric, +4 wizard, +3 mystic theurge, +2 Wis]; Spd 20 ft. Melee 2 tentacles +12 [+10 BAB, +2 Str, +1 Weapon Focus, -1 size] (1d6+2) [+2 Str] and 2 claws +9 [+10 BAB, +2 Str, -1 size, -2 secondary natural weapons] (1d6+2) [Large half-fiend claw, +2 Str] and bite +9 [+10 BAB, +2 Str, -1 size, -2 secondary natural weapon] (1d8+2) [Large half-fiend bite, +2 Str] or Large +3 shock scimitar +16 (with hand of the apprentice) [+10 BAB, +3 Int, +3 magic] (1d8+6 plus 1d6 electricity / 18-20) [+3 Int, +3 magic]; Spells Prepared (+12 touch [+10 BAB, +2 Str, +1 Weapon Focus (tentacle), -1 size]); Str 14, Int 16, Cha 12; CMB +13 [+10 BAB, +2 Str, +1 size]; Skills Appraise +9 [+3 ranks, +3 Int, +3 class skill], Bluff +10 [+9 ranks, +1 Cha], Craft (alchemy) +14 [+8 ranks, +3 Int, +3 class skill], Diplomacy +10 [+6 ranks, +1 Cha, +3 class skill], Intimidate +8 [+7 ranks, +1 Cha], Knowledge (arcana) +17 [+11 ranks, +3 Int, +3 class skill], Knowledge (dungeoneering) +10 [+4 ranks, +3 Int, +3 class skill], Knowledge (geography) +9 [+3 ranks, +3 Int, +3 class skill], Knowledge (history) +8 [+2 ranks, +3 Int, +3 class skill], Knowledge (local) +9 [+3 ranks, +3 Int, +3 class skill], Knowledge (nature) +14 [+8 ranks, +3 Int, +3 class skill], Knowledge (planes) +14 [+8 ranks, +3 Int, +3 class skill], Knowledge (religion) +14 [+8 ranks, +3 Int, +3 class skill], Linguistics +7 [+1 rank, +3 Int, +3 class skill], Spellcraft +17 [+11 ranks, +3 Int, +3 class skill], Swim +5 [+3 ranks, +2 Str]

===== Statistics =====

Str 18 [base 10, +4 template (half-fiend), +4 bull’s strength], Dex 12 [base 8, +4 template (half-fiend)], Con 16 [base 12, +2 racial (otyugh), +2 template (half-fiend)], Int 20 [base 15, -6 racial (otyugh), +4 template (half-fiend), +3 level-based ability increases (8th level, 12th level, 16th level), +4 fox’s cunning], Wis 15 [base 13, +2 racial (otyugh)], Cha 16 [base 14, -4 racial (otyugh), +2 template (half-fiend), +4 eagle’s splendor]
Base Atk +10 [+4 aberration, +2 cleric, +2 wizard, +2 mystic theurge]; CMB +15 [+10 BAB, +4 Str, +1 size]
Feats Alertness, Brew Fleshcrafting Poison, Brew Potion, Craft Wand, Improved Familiar (stirge named Memorymaker), Leadership (cohort: Brimback, male wererat rogue 7; followers: Consortium agents, varying races and classes, levels 1-4), Martial Weapon Proficiency (scimitar), Multiattack, Scion of Cyth-V’sug (see below), Scribe Scroll, Spell Penetration, Toughness, Weapon Focus (tentacle)
Skills Appraise +11 [+3 ranks, +5 Int, +3 class skill], Bluff +12 [+9 ranks, +3 Cha], Craft (alchemy) +16 [+8 ranks, +5 Int, +3 class skill], Diplomacy +12 [+6 ranks, +3 Cha, +3 class skill], Fly +10 [+6 ranks, +1 Dex, +3 class skill], Intimidate +10 [+7 ranks, +3 Cha], Knowledge (arcana) +19 [+11 ranks, +5 Int, +3 class skill], Knowledge (dungeoneering) +12 [+4 ranks, +5 Int, +3 class skill], Knowledge (geography) +11 [+3 ranks, +5 Int, +3 class skill], Knowledge (history) +10 [+2 ranks, +5 Int, +3 class skill], Knowledge (local) +11 [+3 ranks, +5 Int, +3 class skill], Knowledge (nature) +16 [+8 ranks, +5 Int, +3 class skill], Knowledge (planes) +16 [+8 ranks, +5 Int, +3 class skill], Knowledge (religion) +16 [+8 ranks, +5 Int, +3 class skill], Linguistics +9 [+1 rank, +5 Int, +3 class skill], Perception +7 [+3 ranks, +2 Wis, +2 Alertness], Sense Motive +10 [+3 ranks, +2 Wis, +3 class skill, +2 Alertness], Spellcraft +19 [+11 ranks, +5 Int, +3 class skill], Stealth +2 [+2 ranks, +1 Dex, +3 class skill as otyugh, -4 size] (+10 when in his lair due to natural coloration [+8 racial (otyugh)]), Swim +7 [+3 ranks, +4 Str]
Languages Abyssal, Common, Draconic, Terran, Undercommon; comprehend languages
SQ Arcane bond (familiar: stirge named Memorymaker), cantrips, darkvision 60 ft., orisons, permanent spells, scent, spontaneous casting (inflict spells)
Combat Gear Large +3 shock scimitar, bead of force, elemental gem (water), potion of cure moderate wounds (x3), potion of serious wounds, scroll of invisibility, scroll of nondetection, scroll of polymorph, scroll of unseen servant, scroll of water breathing, wand of black tentacles (CL 7th, 39 charges), wand of lightning bolt (CL 5th, 32 charges); Other Gear crystal ball with detect thoughts, handy haversack, masterwork harness w/ scabbard, pearl of power (4th level), pearl of the sirines, periapt of health, stone of alarm.
Spellbook 0—all; 1st—alarm, charm person, chill touch, comprehend languages, expeditious retreat, floating disc, hypnotism, identify, mage armor, magic missile, ray of enfeeblement, shield, shocking grasp, silent image, unseen servant, ventriloquism; 2nd—arcane lock, bear’s endurance, bull’s strength, cat’s grace, detect thoughts, eagle’s splendor, false life, fox’s cunning, invisibility, knock, mirror image, owl’s wisdom, scorching ray, see invisibility, touch of idiocy; 3rd—gaseous form, lightning bolt, major image, nondetection, stinking cloud, suggestion, vampiric touch, water breathing; 4th—black tentacles, dimension door, enervation, lesser globe of invulnerability, polymorph, scrying, stone shape; 5th—cloudkill, contact other plane, dominate person, permanency, persistent image, wall of stone

===== Ecology =====

Environment Any
Organization Solitary
Treasure 4,885 gp [150,000 gp treasure value – 145,115 gp in gear]

===== Special Abilities =====

Acid Dart (Su): As a standard action, Gulga can unleash an acid dart targeting any foe within 30 feet as a ranged touch attack. The acid deals 1d6+1 points [base 1d6, +1 for every 2 cleric levels] of acid damage.
Channel Negative Energy (Su): Gulga can unleash a wave of negative energy in a 30-foot burst 6 times/day [base 3, +3 Cha]. All living creatures in the radius take 2d6 points of negative energy damage (Will save DC 14 [10, +1 (half of cleric level rounded down), +3 Cha] for half damage). Undead within the area are healed a like amount and must make a Will save (DC 14) [10, +1 (half of cleric level rounded down), +3 Cha] or fall under Gulga’s command. Gulga can command any number of undead whose total Hit Dice do not exceed his level.
Disease (Ex): Gulga’s bite can inflict filth fever (bite, Fortitude DC 22 [10, +9 (half of total Hit Dice), +3 Con], incubation period 1d3 days; damage 1d3 Dex and 1d3 Con). The save DC is Constitution-based.
Hand of the Apprentice (Su): As a standard action, Gulga can summon a ghostly hand to do his bidding. This functions like mage hand, but it can also draw a weapon (including a magic weapon) on his person as a free action. Gulga can direct the hand to make a single attack against a foe within 30 feet, using his base attack bonus, plus his Intelligence modifier on both attack and damage rolls. The hand does not threaten foes and does not make attacks of opportunity. Gulga must concentrate on the hand each round or it winks out, returning any item held to him before it disappears.
Permanent Spells: Gulga has made comprehend languages and see invisibility permanent on himself.
Smite Good (Su): Gulga can smite good once per day due to his half-fiendish heritage. He gains no bonus to the attack roll but receives a +19 bonus [19 total Hit Dice] to damage with a single melee attack. The smite attempt is wasted if the attack misses or if the target is not good.
Touch of Evil (Su): Gulga can cause a creature to become sickened as a melee touch attack. While sickened, the target is treated as good-aligned for the purposes of spells with the evil descriptor. The effect persists for 1 round against evil and neutral creatures. Against good creatures, the effect persists for 3 rounds. Once a creature has been affected by touch of evil, it is immune to its effects for 1 day.

New Feat: Scion of Cyth-V’sug

Spoiler:

Scion of Cyth-V’sug
You carry parasitic fungal spores as a favored minion of the demon lord Cyth-V’sug.
Prerequisites: Con 13, Cyth-V’sug as patron deity.
Benefit: You constantly exude tiny, invisible spores that make you immediately aware of any other creatures within 120 feet that have this feat as well. As a standard action, you may telepathically communicate with such creatures by exchanging spores with them for as long as they remain within range.
In addition, once per day as a free action, you may invoke Cyth-V’sug’s name as you smite a non-evil foe with an unarmed or natural attack. As you do, a visible cloud of spores surrounds the struck creature, siphoning away 1 hp per Hit Die you possess. The target may resist this effect by making a Fortitude save (DC 10 + your character level + your Constitution modifier).
Special: You may only gain this feat if you spend at least 1 week absorbing Cyth-V’sug’s spores from someone who already carries them or if you have inherited the half-fiend template from one of Cyth-V’sug’s minions.

The Exchange Kobold Press

Wow, 3,000 words (ie, 3 pages or more) of stat block madness.

I think this round is going to be tough on Ye Olde Kobold. Much as I like well-designed NPCs, the sheer weight of mechanics rarely does much for me. This is especially a problem at higher levels of play, where monsters have so many choices and templates and class levels just add to it.

I know some gamers love the template+class level+special new twists. I'm just not one of them. So judging this round is going to be a challenge if the villains all look like this.

3,000 words for a demonic otyugh?

Ok, moving on. The feat annoys me. Feats should do one thing, or perhaps two related things. This grants telepathy plus a combat damage bonus. Not related at all, really.

Finally, the section I know I'm going to like: Tactics. This is where designers can really make things come together for the DM. Unfortunately, with the full range of ability score buffs and spell buffs? Bleah. It's mechanically optimized, but it's also not very interesting.

Permanent see invisibility makes me chuckle in DM glee. Not much else here does; it's just too complicated to run easily. It's mechanically ok, but it's min-max design. This is pure mechanical overkill for a concept as great as the fiendish otyugh.

Recommendation: Solid but not much beyond that. Not recommended.

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

Taking a look through the mechanics on this one, they are pretty sound. All of the class levels, and template, were applied properly using the current rules set. There are a few minor format errors here and there, but nothing that is really all that unusual.

Although I know this is a high CR monster, this creature suffers pretty badly from its complication. Just from a rules standpoint, this monster is tricky to run primarily due to its staggering number of options. While this can be a good thing for a main villain, allowing you to base a number of interesting plots around Gulga, I think this goes just a wee bit too far. Two spell casting classes and a template that gives spells is just a bit much.

This does get me to my primary issue with this monster. I am not 100% convinced that the fiendish template makes for a good fit here. It forces some rules elements onto the creature that do not make much sense (Claw attacks?!? really?!? from what appendage?!?). Add this to the fact that it has a fair amount of gear (although it does list a harness, I just have trouble figuring out where it keeps its scimitar), and we end up with a monster that is kinda hard to visualize.

This brings me to my last point. The rules element here wants to be a template... badly. Since we did not allow templates for this rules element, I can see that author tried to shoe horn one into a feat, which does not really work in this case.

All of these things said, I like the concept. An evil fiendish otyugh could be a lot of fun, I am just not sure that I would want to run it in its current form. I could probably run this in an adventure without too much work, but to rebuild it in a simpler form would be very time consuming.

My Grade (on a 1-10 scale) is a 5.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Neil, Neil, Neil. I've been waiting for this. I loved Gulga, like everyone else. This villain was probably the most well-recieved of all of them. For good reason. BUT last round didnt have a stat block. And in the back of my mind I said "oh boy, this could be a mess." And that is just about what we got. Now, I dont really think that is your fault. You didnt make a messy stat block. I think instead it is just a by product of your initial villain decision to make a fiendish -halfdragon - halfoutsider - halfkobold - halfcelestial - halfdrow - halfdemon - halfturtle mess that can only happen in 3E/Pathfinder. OK, I got a little carried away but you know what I mean. The design concept of your villain was going to bring some complexities. Last round, those were hidden because there was no stat block. Not so this round.

Hmmm....

Also, you didnt even attempt to edit or focus so much as a word of your submission. Now, maybe yours was justified. It was clear we all liked Gulga just how he/she/it was/is. So change wasnt warranted necessarily. But with feedback from Ed Greenwood, Sean and Wolfgang, was there really not even a word to change? OK, "not a word" isnt exactly fair as you did modify one of your adventure hooks a slight bit. I think you could have tweaked those a bit more.

Funny, isnt it, that even an entry that is well recieved in the prior round is expected to grow and improve. Your biggest enemy may be your prior success. I dont know if you raised the bar enough. Lucky for you Gulga was so head and shoulders better than everyone else in my view that you had a pretty solid head start this round.

Now to the stats...

I think the stat block does what I was afraid it would--its crazy and shows that this villain as a playable statted creature may be a bit hard to deal with which might not be spotted just by reading about his background. You deliver a reasonable stat block if a bit uninspired. Tactics and stuff are a bit meh. And meh is not what you are going for.

I'm not as annoyed as Wolfgang with the feat, but I do have to say it isnt that overwhelming either. Its just kinda there. I do agree it lacks focus and doesnt really make sense from a rules standpoint to tie those powers together but I think thematically it does make more sense with the spores. But again, not knocking my socks off.

I think you took your foot off the gas pedal this round, mate. Good thing you had a lead. Because I dont think you can do that too much and get away with it. This thing isnt in the bag and you better not design like it is. I hope for your sake the voters agree.

I recommend Gulga advance. But put that foot back on the gas pedal.

Contributor

Stat Block: WALL OF TEXT. Which is going to happen any time you have a mystic theurge, it's just magnified because he's a monster and has a template.
The math is solid and I don't spot any errors.
To sum up: you chose a really, really difficult creature to stat up, and you did it correctly. Kudos to you for that one!

New Rule Element:
I see what the other designers mean that this looks template-ish, but I think its powers are in line with a weird feat, and the unique requirements are appropriate (we're doing similar event-requirement feats in the Legacy of Fire PG).
I think the feat is lessened because your villain can already do so much; on a guy who can sing, dance, play piano, paint, fly airplanes, climb Mount Everest, and built a house out of scrap wood, being able to train animals isn't that impressive. I think the ability is fine, it just pales in comparison to what the villain can already do.

Rec: advance.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

I appreciate the review, analysis and recommendations from each judge. Thank you, guys!

I wish I could respond more fully, but, in full respect of the rules, I'll simply ask for those who enjoyed Gulga to please lend me your vote. I'll come back when the voting ends to discuss the stat-block round and design details.

Sincrerely,
--Neil

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

Neil, I didn't vote for you last round only because you were clearly the landslide winner in popularity and I figured I'd throw a few votes out to some other good also-rans. That said, your villain was the lights-out winner on concept.

But stat block? Aiyiyi. From someone who submitted a multiclassed half-fiend nightmare (literally) last year, I knew where this entry was going and it ain't pretty. In the first adventure I had published in Dungeon, I had a mermaid vampire cleric, whose stat block took up an entire page of the adventure. I know, we can't help it. We like complicated monsters, but this thing is a nightmare to read and to play, just because there are so many things it can do. If you're good as a DM, you can roll with it, but when you read a stat block like this you start to see the appeal of the 4th Ed. style of monster design, where each monster has like 3-5 things it can do.

Your rules-fu is fine, and I like complicated monsters, and you may very well end up getting a vote from me, but be careful as you move ahead in the contest of artistic excess. There is such a thing as overkill, and Gulga Cench is very close to finding that place. It's ironic, because Clark is right when he says you pulled your foot off the gas a bit conceptually - in expanding Gulga as an idea and a character - even while you were pouring on the min-max nitrous to his mechanics.

The sheer volume of mechanics didn't really elevate Gulga. It filled out Gulga in smart, effective ways, but they didn't make you go, "Yeah, THOSE are spells that are extra-neat for this guy." Except for black tentacles, of course, as though the battle needed to be even more complicated!

The feat I think is neat and thematic, and while mechanically telepathy + bonus damage gives you a ??? reaction, they both are an application of the spores - like rapport myconid spores that you can also blast someone with for damage. You also get bonus points from me for referencing the cohort and familiar and saying how Gulga used them.

Overall, Gulga's concept is great, the mechanics are well-done, and you're doing well, but keep working to find that balance between turning it up to 11 in service to the character and just turning it up really loud. I've only read a half-dozen, but probably a vote from me this round.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Thanks, Jason. All good advice. I have a feeling I'm going to need a lot of votes to make it through this round, so please consider lending me yours once you've made it through all the entries.

--Neil

Liberty's Edge

just beginning to check the villains stats

yes.. Gulga is monstruous in every sense... and while thestat block is intimidating (well i must admit I as always jumped every spell...)

my only complain would be... to many classes, I understand the cleric/wizard... but adding Mystic Theurge is abit to much...

still I need to read more... and I wand to see Gulga's Lair...I really really expect it to be in Korvosa :P or in a similar place.


Yeah sadly while I just LOVED Gulga Cench last round (he was probably my #1 pick), this wall of text made my eyes cross. I liked his tactics and morale, but it's not a lot of fun to skip over the first half of your entry because you clearly didn't change anything. I was expecting growth too, and for Gulga to become staggeringly awesome. I think you at least managed to maintain your previous awesominicity (no, not a word). Keep it up!!


I'll be honest, I wasn't particularly enamored of Gulga last round (so you're not losing a vote on me either way), BUT I was glad you made to Round 3 because I thought the concept was pretty good. Unfortunately, I'm afraid I'm still "meh" on Gulga. He may still get my vote though as I have yet to read the rest.

Star Voter Season 6

Judges say the math's solid, the creature's optimized, the concept's great, and that there are many options. I'll give this a fuller look tomorrow, but I have to imagine that those would be good things for a creature facing a 14th level party....

Those people who's major complaint is that it's a wall of text... well, that complaint goes for 3.5 as a whole and especially for Pathfinder's new "more options!" design philosophy.

I find it hard to hold it against this submission as well, because that criticism would apply to 15 of the 17 villains.

This villain was so popular, I'm guessing that a lot of people turned to this one first and that if they returned to it later, the wall of text wouldn't be so bad.

Sovereign Court

You can still count me as a Gulga fan, Neil!

Yes, the stat block is wild, but you also proved that you can handle something insanely complicated. There's no way I would enjoy the stat block while reading through an entry like this, but if I view it from the perspective of "I'm running this guy tomorrow", I've got plenty of answers and very few questions or work to do. I find it extremely annoying when I look for something in a published stat block that I need during a game, and it's just not there. So for me, the stat block is a success.

I still love the concept - if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

And I like the feat a lot. I've read other feats that were like this one in style, so it didn't jump out to me as "wha??? this is a feat??" I think it makes perfect sense and fits in gorgeously with the character concept. Well done!!!


A big white poo-beast with delusions of grandeur. I have come to accept this concept somewhat, but a wizard? With spellbooks and everything? I could buy sorcerer maybe... And by splitting between mage and cleric he's pretty underpowered for a CR17. 4/10

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Gamer Girrl

Wow, here we go again :)

The layout looks good, what I checked on the numbers works, and I trust Jason's and the other judges to say if something is out of place there, so on to my quibbles.

I was expecting more Illusion spells in his spellbook and daily mem'd lists, with the emphasis on how he uses illusions to hide himself as the need comes up. I was also looking for more transmutation that might effect others, but that is more experimental in nature, so that can be more iffy. The illusion spells he has are silent image, ventriloquism, invisibility, mirror image, major image, persistant image ... I was really surprised not to see disguise self anywhere.

Under feats, you list Brew Fleshcrafting Poison ... I plead dumb, I cannot find that in the SRD, the Beta, the Campaign Setting, or the new feats list for the Beta. Where did this come from?

I was also a bit surprised at the value of his treasury ... he's a CR 17 villain with a CR20 price value, unless that's been changed from the Beta book?

These questions are for anyone to answer, or for Neil to get to after the voting closes (so keep your fingers to yourself for now, Neil <G>)!

I still like Gulga :) He's my first to be read tonight, and I'll be going through all the villains as carefully as I can, but a big congrats on making this monster readable to the degree you did :)

As an aside, I figure all the villains are going to be the "wall of words" simply because of the showing your math (and bless you for making that in OOC so it was easy to read what was what!).

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Demiurge 1138

Yeah, I still like Gulga Cench. A lot. That's the sort of demented templated beastie I love throwing at my PCs.


Wolfgang Baur wrote:

Wow, 3,000 words (ie, 3 pages or more) of stat block madness.

To be fair, that's 3000 words including the math which wouldn't be in a printed product.


Sheesh, I won't comment the statblock, I trust judges' comments that the math is right. New feat was a bit...dull, I see where it was going but it didn't really impress me.
You are a contender for a vote due to still-great concept and knowing your mechanics. But be careful.

Star Voter Season 6

Gamer Girrl wrote:


Under feats, you list Brew Fleshcrafting Poison ... I plead dumb, I cannot find that in the SRD, the Beta, the Campaign Setting, or the new feats list for the Beta. Where did this come from?

I was also a bit surprised at the value of his treasury ... he's a CR 17 villain with a CR20 price value, unless that's been changed from the Beta book?

The Brew Fleshcrafting poison is from the Second Darkness Adventure Path. There's a whole section on its distorting effects on various humanoids. Think of it like a bath in radioactive acid in a 1950s sci-fi film.

The Beta book lists treasure values for NPCs on page 338. Gulga has the gear of a heroic 19th level NPC.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Tarren Dei

Evil Genius wrote:
Wolfgang Baur wrote:

Wow, 3,000 words (ie, 3 pages or more) of stat block madness.

To be fair, that's 3000 words including the math which wouldn't be in a printed product.

I agree with the evil genius. Once the 'show your math' comes out, this doesn't really seem very long at all. I'm off to work now, but tonight I'm going to try taking out the math and compare it to creatures of a similar CR in published Paizo adventures. I think Gulga will come out on par for the course as Neil pays attention to the conventions and does excellent work.

Dark Archive

*gets dizzy at the options , rules and templates given UUfff, playing Gulga effectively remembering all the abilities is going to be hard, i dislike to be handling villains with lots of markers to recall what he can do and what he can't.

Somehow, I find this entry a bit lacking, for me a villain's stat block is not a place where people shows how much they know about the game, but where they blend the villain's concept with the game's mechanichs.

In my opinion is this and not how complex the villan is or the knowledge of the rules what is is evaluated here.

So far, this follow up of Gulga is a step backwards from the previous round (and given the heights you reached in the first, a very very big step backwards)

In any case as I really don't care about monster stats or rules, but about concepts and ideas, you can count with my vote, even if Gulga is a DM's nightmare in terms of rules (the whole idea of running him/her/it, against my group gives me cramps) , he is "teh villain" , I really look for using it in my game.

I hope to see you in the next round.


Personally, I prefer complexity. Especially in my super-villains. I rarely play published critters the way they were intended, so the more malleable the critter is the easier it is for me to fit it in to my story.

Gulga here is a good example of what I would like to see more of.

K.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Gamer Girrl wrote:
These questions are for anyone to answer, or for Neil to get to after the voting closes (so keep your fingers to yourself for now, Neil <G>)!

Must...resist...urge...to...answer...questions!

;-D

Actually, that's all good stuff. There's lots of good folks jumping in to answer right now. I'll certainly add my two-cents once the voting round's "vow of silence" gets lifted. But at this point, I'm honor-bound to hold my tongue and that's exactly what I'll do.

In the meantime, thank you again to everyone who continues to like both the concept and stat block execution for Gulga. I appreciate all your comments and support. Please vote for him to keep me around in the competition and I hope to put the "pedal to the metal" in future rounds for everyone.

Sincerely,
--Neil


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

That’s a lot to put together, so congrats on that. I guess the claw attacks would come from extra limbs.
The attack bonuses seem too low for a creature of that CR, so I’d have advanced the otyugh +8 aberration HD, which would also require a size change; this would have meant that the class levels would also have all been non-associated, so to make full use of the non-associated levels I’d have also added a 6th-level of mystic theurge.
This would keep the same CR [4 base for otyugh, +2 for advancing 8 aberration HD, +1 for Huge size, +3 for half-fiend template (11+ HD), +7 for levels of non-associated classes (wizard 5/cleric 3/mystic theurge 6)], but it would be a much tougher beast! :)

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

Neil... I liked Gulga from before, and now after seeing (and reading) his stat block... Wow... you did a fine job. I didn't think Gulga would be as high of a CR as he is... if I make use of him in my CotCT game it might have to wait until the PCs have concluded the AP. (I've got 6 players, so xp amounts during CotCT will be a bit wonky.) Anyway... good job with Gulga Cench, Scion of Cyth-V'Sug... and you also get another vote from me. (Can't wait for the Lair round... what will we see I wonder...) ;)

Dean; the Minstrel_Wyrm

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Gamer Girrl

roguerouge wrote:
Gamer Girrl wrote:


Under feats, you list Brew Fleshcrafting Poison ... I plead dumb, I cannot find that in the SRD, the Beta, the Campaign Setting, or the new feats list for the Beta. Where did this come from?

I was also a bit surprised at the value of his treasury ... he's a CR 17 villain with a CR20 price value, unless that's been changed from the Beta book?

The Brew Fleshcrafting poison is from the Second Darkness Adventure Path. There's a whole section on its distorting effects on various humanoids. Think of it like a bath in radioactive acid in a 1950s sci-fi film.

The Beta book lists treasure values for NPCs on page 338. Gulga has the gear of a heroic 19th level NPC.

Thank you, Roguerogue :) The fleshcrafting was really bugging me last night, as I was sure it was familiar. But I haven't read it other than the Blogs about SD, because I'm a player in that AP <G>

And you are right, it is a heroic 19, my eyes slipped over one column. And Gulga's a heroic 17 ... not too bad a bump for a boss mob with an organization ::nodding::

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Tarren Dei

Out of curiousity, I cut the 'show your math' stuff from Gulga above to see how much of the 'wall of text' statements were justified.

  • Gulga+math = 2352 words on 185 lines.
  • Math-free Gulga is 1494 words on 132 lines.

    Gulga's still a bit longer than, say, Alicavniss Vonnarc (Pathfinder 16, pp. 37-38) but he's not nearly as 'wall of text' as is suggested above.

    Neil has been very thorough in 'showing his math,' which is what we were asked to do. Almost 1/3 of this stat block is Neil being fastidious in his attention to detail.

    Well done, Neil!


  • Initial impression:
    For an otyugh who spends a lot of time underground whilst exhaling fungal spores, (and who posted on the Round 2 thread to say he liked occasional mud baths) I was hoping to see some nod to this in details regarding the construction/nature of the spellbook.
    The spellbook didn't even make the gear list.

    Hmmm.

    Will come back later.

    RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Epic Meepo

    Tarren Dei wrote:
    Out of curiousity, I cut the 'show your math' stuff from Gulga...

    For anyone who's interested, here's what Gulga looks like without the math*:

    Spoiler:
    GULGA CENCH CR 17
    NE Large outsider (augmented aberration, native)
    Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft., see invisibility, scent; Perception +7

    ===== Defense =====

    AC 31, touch 14, flat-footed 30
    (+4 armor, +4 deflection, +1 Dex, +9 natural, +4 shield, -1 size)
    hp 169 (9d8+10d6+94)
    Fort +15, [/b]Ref[/b] +11, Will +21
    Defensive Abilities resist acid 10, cold 10, electricity 10, fire 10 DR 10/magic; Immune poison; SR 29

    ===== Offense =====

    Spd 50 ft., fly 20 ft. (average)
    Melee 2 tentacles +14 (1d6+4) and 2 claws +11 (1d6+4) and bite +11 (1d8+4) or Large +3 shock scimitar +18 (with hand of the apprentice) (1d8+8 plus 1d6 electricity / 18-20)
    Ranged acid dart +11 ranged touch (1d6+1)
    Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft. (15 ft. with tentacles)
    Special Attacks acid dart, channel negative energy (6/day, 2d6 damage, DC 14), constrict 1d6+4, disease, hand of the apprentice, improved grab, smite good, spell-like abilities, touch of evil
    Spell-Like Abilities (CL 19th):
    3/day—darkness, poison (DC 17), unholy aura (DC 21),
    1/day—blasphemy (DC 20), contagion (DC 16), desecrate, destruction (DC 20), horrid wilting (DC 21), summon monster IX (fiends only), unhallow, unholy blight (DC 17)
    Spells Prepared (wizard, CL 10th; +14 touch, +11 ranged touch):
    5th—cloudkill (DC 20), persistent image (DC 20)
    4th—dimension door, enervation (DC 19), lesser globe of invulnerability
    3rd—gaseous form, lightning bolt (DC 18), stinking cloud (DC 18), vampiric touch (DC 18)
    2nd—detect thoughts (DC 17), eagle’s splendor, false life, fox’s cunning, invisibility, touch of idiocy
    1st—chill touch (DC 16), expeditious retreat, mage armor, ray of enfeeblement (2), shocking grasp, silent image (DC 16)
    0—arcane mark, ghost sound (DC 15), prestidigitation, touch of fatigue

    (cleric, CL 8th):
    4th—cure critical wounds, discern lies (DC 16)
    3rd—mirror image, deeper darkness, meld into stone
    2nd—bull’s strength, cure moderate wounds, shield, silence (DC 14)
    1st—bane (DC 13), cure light wounds (3), magic stone, obscuring mist, protection from good
    0—detect magic, detect poison, light, read magic
    Domains Earth, Evil

    ===== Tactics =====

    Before Combat Gulga casts false life and mage armor every day. If aware of approaching enemies, he also casts bull’s strength, eagle’s splendor, expeditious retreat, fox’s cunning, and mirror image before combat. He then raises his lesser globe of invulnerability, shield and unholy aura to protect himself and his minions.
    During Combat Once battle begins, Gulga immediately invokes his blasphemy ability to kill, paralyze, or severely weaken any nonevil opponents. He then summons extra help, usually comprised of 1-3 vrocks, via his summon monster IX ability. While they handle combat on the ground, Gulga takes to the air. Hovering over the fray, he uses his wand of black tentacles to impede and trap those too weak to resist, following up with ray of enfeeblement or enervation against anyone still struggling. He casts horrid wilting, cloudkill or stinking cloud on trapped victims, or summons his hand of the apprentice to draw and wield his +3 shock scimitar from above. If prevented from flying, Gulga doesn’t hesitate to close on opponents, using his improved grab and constrict attacks after empowering them with touch spells or his smite good ability. He also sends his stirge familiar, Memorymaker, to harass enemy spellcasters by delivering a touch of idiocy or hovering near them while cloaked by invisibility and silence.
    Morale Due to his highly-developed survival instinct, Gulga never fights to the death. If reduced to less than 40 hit points, he uses deeper darkness to hide before casting a persistent image of himself continuing the battle. He then uses meld into stone as a temporary retreat, taking time within the stone to heal his wounds, observe and learn from the remaining battle’s outcome, as well as eavesdrop on any PCs. Before finally emerging, he casts invisibility or gaseous form to fully aid his escape, but he also saves dimension door for a faster retreat, in case anyone sees through his ruse.
    Base Statistics AC 19, touch 10, flat-footed 18; hp 154 (9d8+10d6+79); Fort +11, Ref +7, Will +17; Spd 20 ft. Melee 2 tentacles +12 (1d6+2) and 2 claws +9 (1d6+2) and bite +9 (1d8+2) or Large +3 shock scimitar +16 (with hand of the apprentice) (1d8+6 plus 1d6 electricity / 18-20); Spells Prepared (+12 touch); Str 14, Int 16, Cha 12; CMB +13; Skills Appraise +9, Bluff +10, Craft (alchemy) +14, Diplomacy +10, Intimidate +8, Knowledge (arcana) +17, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +10, Knowledge (geography) +9, Knowledge (history) +8, Knowledge (local) +9, Knowledge (nature) +14, Knowledge (planes) +14, Knowledge (religion) +14, Linguistics +7, Spellcraft +17, Swim +5

    ===== Statistics =====

    Str 18, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 20, Wis 15, Cha 16
    Base Atk +10; CMB +15
    Feats Alertness, Brew Fleshcrafting Poison, Brew Potion, Craft Wand, Improved Familiar (stirge named Memorymaker), Leadership (cohort: Brimback, male wererat rogue 7; followers: Consortium agents, varying races and classes, levels 1-4), Martial Weapon Proficiency (scimitar), Multiattack, Scion of Cyth-V’sug (see below), Scribe Scroll, Spell Penetration, Toughness, Weapon Focus (tentacle)
    Skills Appraise +11, Bluff +12, Craft (alchemy) +16, Diplomacy +12, Fly +10, Intimidate +10, Knowledge (arcana) +19, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +12, Knowledge (geography) +11, Knowledge (history) +10, Knowledge (local) +11, Knowledge (nature) +16, Knowledge (planes) +16, Knowledge (religion) +16, Linguistics +9, Perception +7, Sense Motive +10, Spellcraft +19, Stealth +2 (+10 when in his lair due to natural coloration), Swim +7
    Languages Abyssal, Common, Draconic, Terran, Undercommon; comprehend languages
    SQ Arcane bond (familiar: stirge named Memorymaker), cantrips, darkvision 60 ft., orisons, permanent spells, scent, spontaneous casting (inflict spells)
    Combat Gear Large +3 shock scimitar, bead of force, elemental gem (water), potion of cure moderate wounds (x3), potion of serious wounds, scroll of invisibility, scroll of nondetection, scroll of polymorph, scroll of unseen servant, scroll of water breathing, wand of black tentacles (CL 7th, 39 charges), wand of lightning bolt (CL 5th, 32 charges); Other Gear crystal ball with detect thoughts, handy haversack, masterwork harness w/ scabbard, pearl of power (4th level), pearl of the sirines, periapt of health, stone of alarm.
    Spellbook 0—all; 1st—alarm, charm person, chill touch, comprehend languages, expeditious retreat, floating disc, hypnotism, identify, mage armor, magic missile, ray of enfeeblement, shield, shocking grasp, silent image, unseen servant, ventriloquism; 2nd—arcane lock, bear’s endurance, bull’s strength, cat’s grace, detect thoughts, eagle’s splendor, false life, fox’s cunning, invisibility, knock, mirror image, owl’s wisdom, scorching ray, see invisibility, touch of idiocy; 3rd—gaseous form, lightning bolt, major image, nondetection, stinking cloud, suggestion, vampiric touch, water breathing; 4th—black tentacles, dimension door, enervation, lesser globe of invulnerability, polymorph, scrying, stone shape; 5th—cloudkill, contact other plane, dominate person, permanency, persistent image, wall of stone

    ===== Ecology =====

    Environment Any
    Organization Solitary
    Treasure 4,885 gp

    ===== Special Abilities =====

    Acid Dart (Su): As a standard action, Gulga can unleash an acid dart targeting any foe within 30 feet as a ranged touch attack. The acid deals 1d6+1 points of acid damage.
    Channel Negative Energy (Su): Gulga can unleash a wave of negative energy in a 30-foot burst 6 times/day. All living creatures in the radius take 2d6 points of negative energy damage (Will save DC 14 for half damage). Undead within the area are healed a like amount and must make a Will save (DC 14) or fall under Gulga’s command. Gulga can command any number of undead whose total Hit Dice do not exceed his level.
    Disease (Ex): Gulga’s bite can inflict filth fever (bite, Fortitude DC 22, incubation period 1d3 days; damage 1d3 Dex and 1d3 Con). The save DC is Constitution-based.
    Hand of the Apprentice (Su): As a standard action, Gulga can summon a ghostly hand to do his bidding. This functions like mage hand, but it can also draw a weapon (including a magic weapon) on his person as a free action. Gulga can direct the hand to make a single attack against a foe within 30 feet, using his base attack bonus, plus his Intelligence modifier on both attack and damage rolls. The hand does not threaten foes and does not make attacks of opportunity. Gulga must concentrate on the hand each round or it winks out, returning any item held to him before it disappears.
    Permanent Spells: Gulga has made comprehend languages and see invisibility permanent on himself.
    Smite Good (Su): Gulga can smite good once per day due to his half-fiendish heritage. He gains no bonus to the attack roll but receives a +19 bonus to damage with a single melee attack. The smite attempt is wasted if the attack misses or if the target is not good.
    Touch of Evil (Su): Gulga can cause a creature to become sickened as a melee touch attack. While sickened, the target is treated as good-aligned for the purposes of spells with the evil descriptor. The effect persists for 1 round against evil and neutral creatures. Against good creatures, the effect persists for 3 rounds. Once a creature has been affected by touch of evil, it is immune to its effects for 1 day.


    *I had to reinsert the BBCode by hand, so any formatting errors are likely mine, not Neil's.

    Star Voter Season 6

    Excellent work, Eric and Trevor!

    Liberty's Edge

    NSpicer wrote:

    Please vote for him to keep me around in the competition and I hope to put the "pedal to the metal" in future rounds for everyone.

    This villain was good in round two and it's still good now. You've been working on this thing for a year, haven't you? How much are you going to improve in only a week?

    Anyway, this is a closer round. You're in my top seven and may get my vote.

    Oh, to hell with it! You're not in this contest just to see how you stack up against the other folks. You actually crave winning this thing with all your greedy little heart. Besides, I really want to see what you can do in the next two rounds and want to see what you can do with a full module. You've got one of my votes.

    Now I have to eliminate three of my six other favorites...

    Sam


    Looking at the stat block sans-math what occurs to me is this. Any party who is facing Gulga will have to be well passed 10th level to have a chance. With that in mind, the DM's work is already elevated due to the party's skill sets so running Gulga won't be that much more work. Options increase with every level and that's just a fact of the game. If I were DM'ing I'd love to make him a cameo background villain and would jump at the opportunity if the party thought to seek him out and fight.

    Dark Archive

    Jason Nelson wrote:

    If you're good as a DM, you can roll with it, but when you read a stat block like this you start to see the appeal of the 4th Ed. style of monster design, where each monster has like 3-5 things it can do.

    I've got to agree with Jason on this one. I like 4E monster design for this very reason: at high levels every 3.5 stat block starts to look like a wall o'stats.

    The concept is cool, the execution accurate. Go Neil!


    Bad news Neil. You're in for a beating from Gulga for stealing from his gear the spellbooks he prepares his wizard spells from and the divine focus (holy symbol) he uses to cast his clerical spells. Your efforts to prevent Gulga Cench from spell-casting will not go un-noticed I suspect - especially since wizards such as Hecataeus don't let their spellbooks out of their sight.

    Nevetheless all the detail which has been put in on Gulga Cench puts him in my 'consideration for a vote' pile alongside Hecataeus.

    Myconids in second edition AD&D (I don't think that they're in third edition, or if they are, they didn't make the SRD) could communicate telepathically via the use of spores, so that aspect of the new feat makes sense to me.

    NB
    CR 17 Gulga Cench with 19 HD and blasphemy; do I smell potential TPKs of parties of interfering 'do-gooders'?

    RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Epic Meepo

    Charles Evans 25 wrote:
    You're in for a beating from Gulga for stealing from his gear the spellbooks he prepares his wizard spells from...

    Huh? Gulga's spellbook is listed immediately after "Other Gear."


    Epic Meepo wrote:
    Charles Evans 25 wrote:
    You're in for a beating from Gulga for stealing from his gear the spellbooks he prepares his wizard spells from...
    Huh? Gulga's spellbook is listed immediately after "Other Gear."

    If 'Spellbook' literally means 'spellbook', then the spells listed there occupy well over 100 pages, so I presume that there is a 'Blessed Book' somewhere which I'm not seeing, or something else has gone wrong.

    Scarab Sages

    Charles Evans 25 wrote:

    If 'Spellbook' literally means 'spellbook', then the spells listed there occupy well over 100 pages, so I presume that there is a 'Blessed Book' somewhere which I'm not seeing, or something else has gone wrong.

    Actually, no villain in any of the Pathfinder modules has more than one spellbook, either. Even the ones with "every spell in the PHB, except for <prohibited schools>. Feel free to add a few spells from other sources as well". It's the most commonly ignored rule in existence. Yes, it's still a rule, and it should probably count against him, but I don't consider it important enough to even track, personally.

    RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Epic Meepo

    Charles Evans 25 wrote:
    If 'Spellbook' literally means 'spellbook', then the spells listed there occupy well over 100 pages...

    I think "Spellbook" means "Contents of spellbooks(s)." But then again, the specifics of which spells are in what book, and the resale value of said books, seem to be an oft overlooked facet of wizard characters in published adventures. So maybe "spellbook" just means "spells learned," and the GM is supposed to wing it regarding the details of the actual book(s).

    RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka Lord Fyre

    Oh my!

    Huge!!

    Good thing it is all tight and well put together. :D

    I bow before your strong Rules-Fu.

    RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Aotrscommander

    I confess, I didn't vote for Gulga last round, mainly because he was an otyugh. Not that I have any particular dislike of otyugh themselves, but more a general reticence about creatures that are specific to D&D's mythos. (3.5 is to me just a good set or rules not a genera all it's own; frequently my worlds use little if any of the Monster Manual.)

    That said, your little in-character posts after last round made me re-think and this time you've won me over.

    Aotrs Commander's Villain critieria:

    Initial Impressions

    He's complicated.

    Good. Simple monsters are a) no fun for me as DM to play and b) liable to be be pulverised by any party in my high-optimisation, high-tactic, high-party co-operation enviroment of play. Most of the player characters approching this level translate to a wall of text in statblock form.

    Concept: Good. Smart, evil (and above all, witty) villains are always preferable (at this level, they need to be just for the tactics!)

    Optimisation: (Or: how much would I have to modify this to deal with the PC in my own games to provide a threat?)

    Fair to good.

    At 226 max hit points (and I never use anything less than maximum for any serious fight) Gulga will stand for a bit. AC is okay for an arcanist, but relies on quite a few buff pre-combat. Leadership gives him at least a handful of chaff at all times to take away the PCs attention for a round (and that's about all they'll get but it's better than nothing!) (Were I to use him in one of my own games, I'd probaly shunt his stats up from the elite to my own standard, but that's not really a major issue.)

    The scimitar seems pointless, though. Gulga is not ever going to be a great melee combatant due to Thurge and Wizard levels. This loss could be compensated for by the Divine Trinity (Divine Favour, Divine Power and Righetous Might at higher levels), granted but otherwise, he'd be better spending his feats and gear elsewhere, I think (or at least not burning a feat on it and using a mace or something). Outside of Pathfinder/SRD, I'd replace that with Practised Spellcaster (probably ditto with Alertness or Weapon Focus).

    Blasphemy is as always the big problem, inherent to the spell. The Pathfinder version makes the ability at least possible usable against parties of lower than 14th level without being an automatic "I win" button. Still, that's Blasphemy's problem, not Gulga's.

    No Dispel Magic. *slaps Gulga's tentacles* No. Bad caster. ANY caster of 5th level or higher should always have as a matter of principle some dispel capability, even if only a scroll or two. Doubly so for a hybrid like a Thurge who's got spell slots to spare. Not doing so is tantamount to suicide for any serious opposition for an even-half-way organised party of adventurers at the sort of level Gulga is looking at. The ability to heal some slight hit point damage (the Cure spells) pales into insignificance compared to the ability to dispel the party's buffs (and you can bet they'll have them - perhaps even nearly as many as Gulga himself) or dig himself out of a hole when he gets status-to-death'd by the party spellcasters.

    No problems with the feat at all.

    Tactics: Good overall, though I question his eagerness to go toe-to-toe in melee sans flight as he stands without some better buffs. (Divine Power is basically a requirement if he really wants to do this (making up for the BAB shortfall); otherwise, his bonuses are only on a par at best with full-BAB classes in the level range he's going to deal with.)

    Nice work, I hope you make it the next round.


    I've got to give major props to Neil for this round. It was said he took his foot off the gas, but in my view, he floored it.

    As is repeatedly said, this is RPG Superstar, and this is the create a stat block part of the competition. I can't criticize the complexity of the stat block in a competition to determine if someone has the chops to deal with the system at the Superstar level. I would think by definition that includes handling that level of complication since the system supports it.

    It just seems like this part of the competition is about proving you can take on any stat block the system can throw at you. Heck, I'd want an RPG Superstar to provide a stat block that is correct and I would have to put some effort into running. Otherwise, they are just putting together a stat block I probably could have made myself.

    Doesn't mean I expect that level of complexity in every NPC they create, but I want to know I can trust those characters to be right when they do come up.

    So kudos to Neil for not only doing that, but being able to tie those mechanics into a villain with a great story and tons of potential.

    Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

    let me start by saying I LIKE complicated villains that have a a lot of tricks in their arsenal... I can completely understand how that can make them harder to sue in a single adventure where they can't bring their full talents to bear, but as a DM it gives me much more flexibility with how I use them later on (assuming that they don't bite the big one in their first encounter with PC's, I love comic books and am a huge fan of the 'reocurring' villain). There for I cast my vote for Gulga this round, one of my two votes that carried over from the previous round. Although honestly the other carry over vote came because he made me much more interested in the villain, while Gulga's came from not letting my interest level slip. All in all I thought Gulga's new rule addition was weaker (as in not as well designed) than some of the others this round, but not so much so that it pulled my vote away.

    Good Job, and Good Luck.

    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

    Congratulations on Superstar 09 Top 16!

    Growth
    Going into this, I hear rumors that you phoned this one in. If you did, you're buying me a Dew.
    I didn't mention this before, but 700 pounds seems light for a 9 foot tall quadraped with lots of girth and long tentacles.

    Mechanics
    -If he attacks with just the scimitar, he gets reiterative attacks, meaning +16+11. I use those numbers because my eyes glazed over and I couldn't find where it should be higher (+10 base +4 STR +3 enh -1 size).
    -This math is pretty solid, and the highlight 'math text' is always appreciated.
    -I like the tactics section. It can really smooth out a monster that has too much going for it. At these CRs, every encounter has too many otions. You pick something interesting and fight. It's important to rmeember that this presentation is not a designed encounter. It's everything this villain has to offer. In a planned encounter, you might only provide a little more than Gulga needs.
    -I do challenge the wisdom of the dual spellcaster. He's still limited in options per turn. In plannig ahead, he would have been fine as just a wizard or just a priest, and not doubling up on spells, buffs, tactics, etc.
    -Some comments say your tactics don't bring a lot of pizazz. Who expects a flying otyugh raining spells down and attacking with reach? It's already one of the most memorable encounters I have never played.

    New Hotness
    This is your only weakness. You have fiendish fungal otyughs. You have drugs, diseases, and networks of sewer-dwellers building an empire under every major civilization they can. And this is the new rule you choose?
    I don't like it's dual function (I would prefer a series of fungal feats that do different things, like the heritage feats of the last few 3.5 books), and I don't like how tightly tailored it is to your concept. Make a feat that many can use. Make its use and accessibility more broad, and then comment that it is common among the favored of Cyth V'sug. Chosen feats have their place, but I prefer design that fits into multiple game worlds without much shoehorning.

    Overall
    I am by no means a homer. I still won't accept OU as a number one seed until they beat Texas at Texas next week. Having said that, you remain my favorite each round. I agree you didn't add much, but then you set the bar higher than everyone else last round. You should have have something that was WOW incarnate, but you shouldn't be penalized because others left themselves more room for improvement. At this time, I am voting for you, Volner and maybe the rakshasa. I expect you to have a lair that some of us are to scared to run, let alone play.

    Or it'll be another Dew.


    I'm venturing beyond my usual realms here to wish you good luck in this contest. This could be a very cool thing for you. A couple of thoughts:

    1) I don't read stat blocks if I can help it.

    2) I agree with these guys:

    santinj@ wrote:
    Jason Nelson wrote:

    If you're good as a DM, you can roll with it, but when you read a stat block like this you start to see the appeal of the 4th Ed. style of monster design, where each monster has like 3-5 things it can do.

    I've got to agree with Jason on this one. I like 4E monster design for this very reason: at high levels every 3.5 stat block starts to look like a wall o'stats.

    3) A designer should not be penalized for the requirements/deficiencies/complexities of the system for which he must design. It looks like you have successfully designed this guy within the constraints given. I also think it's interesting that the bad guy has to be created for upper-level play, where a lot of statistical and design stuff does seem to break down.

    4) You have clearly proven your writing skill and gaming expertise elsewhere. Writer to writer, I think we share a penchant for verbosity. You write well enough that most of the time you can get away with it. But if you can find that best-friend editor you mentioned to help you be concise and let you know when to say when and when to take it up a notch, it will only benefit you in the long run.

    Good luck!


    William Senn wrote:


    Actually, no villain in any of the Pathfinder modules has more than one spellbook, either. Even the ones with "every spell in the PHB, except for <prohibited schools>. Feel free to add a few spells from other sources as well". It's the most commonly ignored rule in existence. Yes, it's still a rule, and it should probably count against him, but I don't consider it important enough to even track, personally.

    To be fair, I think the most commonly ignored rule is the use of material components. Most games I've played, it's just assumed the spellcaster has 'em. They never have to buy or search for them (unless there is a listed GP value), and no one ever tracks if he runs out. However, I do agree that most DM's just require 1 spellbook. I don't have a problem with Gulga having only one.

    I am suprised that Gulga Cench is a wizard. Sorcerer would have made more sense to me, especially with the new pathfinder bloodline coolness (Aberrant? Abyssal?). Also, there are not many spellbooks floating around in the sewage for him to have gotten his start as a wizard, and the damp environment has got to be hard on his current spellbook(s).

    I'm not a fan of the feat. In terms of power, it seems more like a feat-and-a-half. Beyond that, however, it just doesn't feel like a feat.

    Finally, I'm not clear on how he is experementing on other otyughs to make them more intelligent. Polymorph doesn't change mental stats. Neither does your new feat, and even if it did, I wouldn't call spending time with someone an experiment. You said he had "arcane knowledge of transmutation to enhance the average intelligence of the otyugh species", but I don't see it. I know the focus of this round was the stats, so perhaps you could address this in a later round? You teased us with a promised ability, and I'm still waiting for the payoff. I think it was a mistake to not make that the focus of your new rule.

    Despite all that, I still feel you are a contender. You didn't change much, but then you didn't need to. Your round 2 submission was stronger than several others that advanced. You may get my vote, but I still have a few more to read...


    Gulga Cench has a high Intelligence score, and ranks in a number of knowledge subjects, so I'm prepared to believe his efforts to better his brethren could involve something as 'mundane' (although perhaps not the most adequate word given the involvement of otyughs) as a selective breeding program.

    I expect he also has a number of clerical colleagues more focussed upon calling upon the puissance of Cyth-v'sug (or other, allied, deities).

    Scarab Sages

    Jason Rice wrote:

    I do agree that most DM's just require 1 spellbook. I don't have a problem with Gulga having only one.

    Also, there are not many spellbooks floating around in the sewage for him to have gotten his start as a wizard, and the damp environment has got to be hard on his current spellbook(s).

    His spellbook doesn't have to be paper or parchment.

    I'd make it scratched into stone tablets or some other material that would resist the putrid soup of his filthy pit.

    As for all published NPCs only having one spellbook, I'm glad of that.
    When I run, I'll often change tactics here and there, especially if they survive to fight another day, and then I need the full list in one place. Not a dozen here and a dozen over there.
    It also makes it easier to hand a list to the players, when/if they defeat their opponents and salvage their stuff.

    Any DM who wants to enforce the 100-page limit per book is free to split the list up into as many fragments as they like, but for ease of running the NPC, one list is the way to go.


    To me the point of this round of the competition is whether the candidate can take his or her concept and stat it according to the appropriate 3.5/PF rules. This isn't the pretty, touchy-feely part of RPG design that is being tested here. This is "can you do the math?" and "can you apply the rules correctly?" and "can you dot every 'i' and cross every 't' in the technical side of the job?"

    For several judges to criticize Neil's work when he took on a challenging combination of templates and class levels and did it right is appalling.

    Look guys, no offense, but if you want pretty little statblocks for everything, ditch 3.5/PF and adopt 4e. Seriously. You write these ridiculously complicated rules, claim they're much better than the "grossly over-simplified" system that Other Game Company came up with, then when someone uses your rules correctly, you slam them for it?

    Too often, I have read stat blocks full of obvious errors, improperly applied templates, butchered abilities, pointless feat choices, and other rubbish that shows how little attention some designers are willing to pay to the rules of the game.

    If the intent of this round is to see who can write the shortest stat-block, then y'all can vote for the 1st level Fighter who has alot of money and uses high-level hirelings to rule the world with an iron fist. I'm voting for Neil.

    Scarab Sages

    JSL wrote:
    Look guys, no offense, but if you want pretty little statblocks for everything, ditch 3.5/PF and adopt 4e. Seriously. You write these ridiculously complicated rules, claim they're much better than the "grossly over-simplified" system that Other Game Company came up with, then when someone uses your rules correctly, you slam them for it?

    Applause.

    And that goes for any of the other contestants, too.
    I want to know they can handle the kind of mad combos required to test a group of PCs over the course of a whole campaign.
    I don't want to see a 20th-level Commoner who bought Skill Focus ten times.

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