Aelfric Dream-Slayer


Round 3: Create a villain stat block

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

Aelfric Dream-Slayer
Male human (reincarnated wood elf) lich druid 15

”If it prevents an apocalypse, a mere genocide is the lesser of two evils.”

The undead druid, Aelfric, believes that the dream world is a threat to the fabric of reality, and works to exterminate all creatures that sleep and dream. He leads a cabal of like-minded allies, both living and undead.

Description: The square-jawed elf before you wears plain brown robes, but the severity of his hardened features and close-cropped auburn hair suggest that he once wore the uniform of a career soldier…

…Standing over a bubbling cauldron is a mummified figure with blackened flesh. It wears a necklace made of fangs and spider legs, an ornament strongly suggestive of Rovagug...

…As a pack of monstrous vermin charges forth, an enormous, wraith-like figure of elemental mist and darkness looms in the background…

These are but three of the thousand faces of Aelfric Dream-Slayer.

Motivation/Goals: The elven druid, Aelfric, died and reincarnated as a human during a war against aberrant invaders from another reality. Though the aberrations were defeated, they continued to haunt Aelfric’s dreams.

Used to the disciplined dreams of an elf, Aelfric was terrified by his uncontrolled human nightmares. To him, they were evidence that the dream world was a staging ground for an eventual aberrant invasion. Dreamers unwilling to accept this truth were being deceived and likely used as pawns.

Accordingly, Aelfric strives to eliminate all dreaming creatures that are unwilling or unable to master their dreams by abstaining from sleep. Currently, only elves are safe from Aelfric’s genocidal intentions.

Schemes/Plots: Aelfric culls the weakest dreaming populations first, leaving the strongest defenders in place in case he fails in his efforts to thwart a dream-enabled aberrant invasion. A dedicated druid, he also works to secure the world’s ecosystem against the repercussions of these planned extinctions, replacing eradicated dreaming species with monstrous plants and mindless vermin.

Towards these ends, Aelfric regularly orchestrates breeding programs and engineered plagues. He otherwise avoids incremental plans. An admirer of nature’s raw destructive power, he instead favors reckless magical solutions that promise immediate and dramatic results. Aelfric’s decision to extend his life by embracing undeath instead of arranging a series of reincarnations is indicative of his brute-force approach to problem-solving.

Adventure Hooks:

  • With the help of a hired flesh-crafter, Aelfric breeds unique plant monsters that threaten local livestock. Until the PCs intervene, the resulting economic turmoil limits their access to high-priced goods and services.
  • In order to activate an artifact of mass destruction, Aelfric requires the heart of a hero as a material component. A vainglorious bard who sings the PCs’ praises assures Aelfric that the PCs more than qualify as heroes.
  • Aelfric unleashes a widespread plague, and then frames a disease-peddling otyugh for the epidemic. To insure their own health and safety, the PCs must find and eliminate the true source of the deadly outbreak.
  • (Optional) And then an army of aberrations emerges from the dream world.

AELFRIC DREAM-SLAYER CR 15 [class level -2 base, +2 lich]
NE Huge undead
Init +9 [+5 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative]; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +15 [+8 lich, +7 Wis]
Fear Aura (Su): 60-ft. radius; creatures with less than 5 HD that look at Aelfric are affected as if by a fear spell (CL 15th; Will DC 19 [base 10, +7 half HD, +2 Cha] negates). A creature that successfully saves cannot be affected again by Aelfric’s aura for 24 hours.
===== Defense =====
AC 26 [+2 armor, +2 deflection, +5 Dex, +9 natural, -2 size], touch 15 [+2 deflection, +5 Dex, -2 size], flat-footed 21 [+2 armor, +2 deflection, +9 natural, -2 size]; (+2 armor [bracers], +2 deflection, +5 Dex, +9 natural [+5 barkskin, +4 elemental body IV], -2 size)
hp 212 (15d12+18 [+18 Toughness])
Fort +11 [+2 cloak, +9 druid], Ref +14 [+2 cloak, +5 Dex, +5 druid, +2 Lightning Reflexes], Will +18 [+2 cloak, +9 druid, +7 Wis]
Defensive Abilities antilife shell, freedom of movement, resist nature’s lure, turn resistance +4; DR 15/bludgeoning and magic, and 5/-; Immune cold, critical hits, electricity, fire (protection from energy spell, prevents 120 points of damage), magical aging, mind-affecting effects, poison, polymorph (can use polymorph effects on self), sneak attacks, undead immunities
===== Offense =====
Spd 30 ft., fly 120 ft. (perfect), freedom of movement, trackless step, woodland stride
Melee two slams +12 [+11 base, -2 size, +3 Str] (2d8+3 plus 1 Con damage [amulet]) or touch attack (once per round) +12 touch [+11 base, -2 size, +3 Str] (1d8+5 negative energy damage against living creatures only, Will DC 19 [base 10, +7 half HD, +2 Cha] half, plus paralyzing touch)
Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft.
Special Attacks lightning lord, paralyzing touch, storm burst, whirlwind
Special Actions a thousand faces, wild shape (6/day)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 15th)
7/day--obscuring mist
1/day--control winds (DC 17 [base 10, +5 spell level, +2 Cha]), fog cloud
Spells Prepared (DRUID CL 15th) [for all DCs: base 10, +spell level, +7 Wis]
[base spells: 4/4/4/4/4/4/3/2/1; plus bonus spells for Wis 24: 0/2/2/2/1/1/1/1]
8th--finger of death (DC 25)
7th--control weather, creeping doom, fire storm (DC 24)
6th--antilife shell (2, DC 23)*, greater dispel magic (2)
5th--baleful polymorph (2, DC 22), call lightning storm (2, DC 22), tree stride
4th--flame strike (2, DC 21), freedom of movement (2)*, ice storm (DC 21)
3rd--call lightning (2, DC 20), meld into stone (2), protection from energy (2)*
2nd--barkskin (2)*, flame blade (2), tree shape (2)
1st--entangle (3, DC 18), faerie fire (3, DC 18)
0--detect magic, guidance, light, mending
*indicates (one instance of) this spell is already cast
Spontaneous Casting summon nature’s ally spells
===== Tactics =====
Before Combat When expecting combat within the hour, Aelfric casts antilife shell, barkskin, freedom of movement, and protection from energy against fire. Shortly before combat begins, he uses wild shape to assume the form of a Huge air elemental.
During Combat Aelfric's tactics are as subtle as a natural disaster. If he hasn’t already, he assumes the form of a Huge air elemental. He then stands back and casts his most powerful offensive spells as rapidly as possible. If his spells prove ineffective, he engages foes in melee, but he prefers spellcasting to physical combat.
Morale So long as his phylactery exists, Aelfric doesn't fear destruction. He only retreats if he believes he has no hope of inflicting casualties before being taken out.
Base Statistics
NE Medium undead
Init +6 [+2 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative]
AC 21, touch 14, flat-footed 19 (+2 armor, +2 deflection, +2 Dex, +5 natural [lich])
Ref +14 [+2 cloak, +2 Dex, +5 druid, +2 Lightning Reflexes]
Spd 30 ft., trackless step, woodland stride
Defensive Abilities resist nature’s lure, turn resistance +4; DR 15/bludgeoning and magic; Immune cold, electricity, magical aging, mind-affecting effects, poison, polymorph (can use polymorph effects on self), undead immunities
Melee unarmed strike +12/+7/+2 [+11 base, +1 Str] (1d3+1 plus 1 Con damage [amulet]) or touch attack (once per round) +12 touch [+11 base, +1 Str] (1d8+5 negative energy damage against living creatures only, Will DC 19 [base 10, +7 half HD, +2 Cha] half, plus paralyzing touch)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Str 12, Dex 14
CMB +12 [+11 base, +1 Str]
===== Statistics =====
Str 16 [12 base, +4 elemental body IV], Dex 20 [14 base, +6 elemental body IV] Con -, Int 8 [8 base, -2 wood elf, +2 lich], Wis 24 [15 base, +3 ability increases, +4 headband, +2 lich], Cha 15 [13 base, +2 lich]
Base Atk +11; CMB +16 [+11 base, +2 size, +3 Str]
Feats [one feat at 1st level, when Aelfric was an elf not a human; 7 feats for advancing in level] Brew Potion, Combat Casting, Improved Initiative, Improved Unarmed Strike, Lightning Reflexes, Natural Spell, Scribe Scroll, Toughness
Skills [15 levels x 4 ranks/level for an Int 8 human druid minus 5 ranks for 5 levels on which Aelfric was an elf instead of a human = 55 ranks] Diplomacy +2 (+10 to sense motive) [+2 Cha, (+8 lich)], Fly +25 [9 ranks, +3 class, +5 Dex, +8 maneuverability], Handle Animal +10 [5 ranks, +2 Cha, +3 class], Knowledge (nature) +17 [13 ranks, +3 class, -1 Int, +2 nature sense], Perception +15 [+8 lich, +7 Wis], Spellcraft +17 (+21 to cast defensively) [15 ranks, +3 class, -1 Int, (+4 Combat Casting)], Stealth +13 [+5 Dex, +8 lich], Survival +25 [13 ranks, +3 class, +2 nature sense, +7 Wis]
Languages Common, Druidic, Elven
SQ nature bond (Weather domain), nature sense, resist nature's lure, timeless body, trackless step, venom immunity, wild empathy, woodland stride
Gear (melded into Aelfric’s elemental form) amulet of mighty fists with the wounding property, bracers of armor +2, cloak of resistance +2, focus for an active spellstaff spell which stores summon nature’s ally VIII, headband of inspired wisdom +4, potion of inflict serious wounds (2), ring of protection +2, scroll of true contagion (new spell, see below)
===== Special Abilities =====
A Thousand Faces (Su): Aelfric can change his appearance at will, as if using the alter self spell, but only while in his normal form.
Lightning Lord (Su): Aelfric can call down fifteen bolts of lightning per day. Aelfric can call down as many bolts as he wants with a single standard action, but no creature can be the target of more than one bolt and no two targets can be more than 30 feet apart. This ability otherwise
functions as call lightning.
Nature Bond (Ex): Aelfric has the Weather domain, with effective cleric level 15th.
Nature Sense (Ex): Aelfric gains a +2 bonus on Knowledge (nature) and Survival checks (already included in his skill bonuses).
Paralyzing Touch (Su): Any living creature Aelfric hits with his touch attack is permanently paralyzed (Fortitude DC 19 [10 base, +7 half HD, +2 Cha] negates). Remove paralysis or any effect that can remove a curse can free the victim (see the bestow curse spell). The effect cannot be dispelled. Anyone paralyzed by Aelfric seems dead, though a DC 20 Spot check or DC 15 Heal check reveals that the victim is still alive.
Resist Nature’s Lure (Ex): Aelfric gains a +4 bonus on saving throws against the spell-like
and supernatural abilities of fey. This bonus also applies to spells and effects that target plants, such as blight, entangle, spike growth, and warp wood.
Storm Burst (Su): As a standard action, Aelfric can create a storm burst targeting any foe within 30 feet as a ranged +14 [+11 base, +5 Dex, -2 size] touch attack. The storm burst deals 1d6+7 points of nonlethal damage. In addition, the target is buffeted by winds and rain, causing it to take a –2 penalty on attack rolls for 1 round.
Timeless Body (Ex): Aelfric cannot be magically aged.
Trackless Step (Ex): Aelfric leaves no trail in natural surroundings and cannot be tracked.
He may choose to leave a trail if so desired.
Venom Immunity (Ex): Aelfric is immune to poison even if he somehow loses his undead immunities.
Whirlwind: Aelfric can transform himself into a whirlwind once every 10 minutes and remain in that form for up to 7 rounds. In this form, Aelfric can move through the air or along a surface at its fly speed.
The whirlwind is 5 feet wide at the base, up to 30 feet wide at the top, and up to 50 feet tall. Aelfric controls the exact height, but it must be at least 10 feet.
Aelfric’s movement while in whirlwind form does not provoke attacks of opportunity, even if Aelfric enters the space another creature occupies. Another creature might be caught in the whirlwind if it touches or enters the whirlwind, or if Aelfric into or through the creature’s space.
Creatures one or more size categories smaller than Aelfric might take damage when caught in the whirlwind and may be lifted into the air. An affected creature must succeed on a Reflex save (DC 21 [18 base, +3 Str]) when it comes into contact with the whirlwind or take 2d8 points of damage. It must also succeed on a second Reflex save or be picked up bodily and held suspended in the powerful winds, automatically taking 2d8 points of damage each round. A creature that can fly is allowed a Reflex save each round to escape the whirlwind. The creature still takes damage but can leave if the save is successful. The save DC is Strength based.
Creatures trapped in the whirlwind cannot move except to go where Aelfric carries them or to escape the whirlwind.
Creatures caught in the whirlwind can otherwise act normally, but must succeed on a Concentration check (DC 15 + spell level) to cast a spell. Creatures caught in the whirlwind take a –4 penalty to Dexterity and a –2 penalty on attack rolls. Aelfric can have only as many creatures trapped inside the whirlwind at one time as will fit inside the whirlwind’s volume.
Aelfric can eject any carried creatures whenever he wishes, depositing them wherever the whirlwind happens to be.
If the whirlwind’s base touches the ground, it creates a swirling cloud of debris. This cloud is centered on Aelfric and has a diameter equal to half the whirlwind’s height. The cloud obscures all vision, including darkvision, beyond 5 feet. Creatures 5 feet away have concealment, while those farther away have total concealment.
Those caught in the cloud must succeed on a Concentration check (DC 15 + spell level) to cast a spell.
When in whirlwind form, Aelfric cannot make slam attacks and does not threaten the area around him.
Wild Empathy (Ex): Aelfric can attempt to influence animals, and has a +17 [+2 Cha, +15 level] total bonus on wild empathy checks. See Beta, page 24.
Wild Shape (Su): Aelfric can use the wild shape ability six times per day. See Beta, pg. 25.
Woodland Stride (Ex): Aelfric may move through any sort of undergrowth (such as natural thorns, briars, overgrown areas, and similar terrain) at his normal speed and without taking damage or suffering any other impairment. Thorns, briars, and overgrown areas that have been magically manipulated to impede motion, however, still affect him.

NEW SPELL

Contagion, True
School necromancy [evil]; Level cleric 6, druid 6, sorcerer/wizard 7
===== Description =====
If you have never deciphered a scroll of true contagion, you cannot cast this spell.

This spell functions as contagion, except the disease caused by this spell is contagious in addition to having its normal properties. A creature infected with a contagious disease becomes a carrier for that disease for as long as the creature remains infected.

Touching a carrier - or an ounce or more of uncooked matter that was part of a carrier’s living body within the past twenty-four hours - exposes a creature to the carrier’s contagious disease. Unless the exposed creature saves against the disease at its normal DC, the exposed creature both becomes infected and becomes another carrier for the contagious disease.

An exposed creature that successfully saves against infection by a contagious disease cannot become infected with the contagious version of that particular disease for twenty-four hours.

In addition to the above effects, each time you cast this spell, you may choose to add one of the following properties to the disease it inflicts:

Sparing: Each time you add the sparing property to a disease, choose a creature type or subtype. A creature is immune to a particular sparing disease if its type or subtype was chosen for that disease.

Targeted: Each time you add the targeted property to a disease, choose a creature type or subtype. A creature is immune to a particular targeted disease if neither its type nor its subtype was chosen for that disease.

The effects of a true contagion spell can be produced by a magic potion. This is an exception to the rule that potions can only produce effects which duplicate 3rd- and lower-level spells.

Contributor

Stat block:
Can he actually cast spells in elemental form? Meaning, does the spell actually let him do that? Edit: I mean, I don't think air elementals even have arms, so they couldn't cast S, M, or DF spells.

Weird interaction of his elemental form and lichdom; does he still cause fear by sight? Do his elemental slam attacks still cause permanent lich paralysis?

New Rule Element:
{If you have never deciphered a scroll of true contagion, you cannot cast this spell.}

I don't know why this limitation would have to be in there, especially for cleric and druid casters.

{This spell functions as contagion, except the disease caused by this spell is contagious in addition to having its normal properties.}

This sort of effect is something we avoided, avoided, avoided while at WOTC because the effects are so limitless that it's impossible to price. With the casting of one spell you can just wait for an entire city to die. And with a base DC of 10 + 6 (spell level) + 3 (minimum ability bonus for someone who can cast 6th-level spells) = 19 means that it's super-communicable and eventually everyone will catch it.

{The effects of a true contagion spell can be produced by a magic potion. This is an exception to the rule that potions can only produce effects which duplicate 3rd- and lower-level spells.}

This makes me grumpy. There are potion-like items in the game that exceed the 3rd-level cap; they're called elixirs, and you don't use Brew Potion to make them.

Overall, many questions here and not enough answers. When you design something and you realize these questions are there, you either answer those questions (either with rulings from existing rules, or making a new rule to cover them) or you redesign the creature so those questions don't come up.

Rec: do not advance.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Eric, you know I liked the mojo of Aelfric a lot. In fact, the mojo helped you get into this round despite some deficiencies. So Aelfric was on my short list of villains I was excited to read this round to see what improvements, if any, were made. In my view, you had a diamond in the rough. So lets see what you did to polish that baby up into an epicly-rad story-driving TPK-machine!

Here we go...

Right off I like the focus on the many faces of Aelfric. That is a huge improvement to just telling us he uses magic to assume different forms. Much better. But the real problem with Aelfric was his insanity and the issue of whether or not he is right with his fear of dreams, because if he is than the party would wind up on his side. You played this down a tiny bit, and you upped the relatively weak quality of your hooks, which is an improvement. It appears clearer now that these dream land invaders are real and this is a real threat. I still think your fundamental issue reamins: that this guy would be fine if you just came up with a solution to the dream problem. I dont want a villain that is fine with everyone being alive. There is still a pretty significant way to solve the problem of this villain--and even get his help doing so.

I'm a bit disappointed you didnt spend some time working on focusing and fine tuning that aspect of Aelfric. I thought you had the chance to improve that aspect and didnt. Frankly, I'd prefer that the dream threat simply be madness--that way there is no way for him to ever be on your side. He MUST kill all dreamers. Period. Beacuse in reality, the enemy in your villain is not the villain, its the dreamworld abberant invaders. They are the bad guys. Aelfric just happens to have a crazy plan to stop them. But get him going the right way and he can be your biggest ally.

Bottom line is this: in a campaign that has Aelfric in it, the big threat isnt Aelfric, its the dream invaders. That means you missed the villain in your own campaign arc, in my view. Now, the flip side is that he is the mid-high level villain and the dream bad guys are the final twist mystery, which doesnt stop Aelfric from being a villain. There is just a greater evil behind him. I still think you missed a chance to find his full evil.

Call me a sucker, but I love that you wove the other villains into your submission--the bard, the otyugh, etc. Nice work. Some may not like it, I did.

I share Sean's concerns about the statblock and some of the implications of it and questions about attacks, etc. And I agree with him that the new rules bit is not well done or balanced.

You had a good idea here. I dont think you took the chance to revise it sufficiently. I also dont think the stat block and new rules bit is as good is they could be. I love the engineered plague element and I think you were trying to hit that with your new rules bit, but I think you went wide of the mark.

Aelfric is not recommended to advance.

The Exchange Kobold Press

I'm not a huge fan of this villain concept, but it does seem to have potential for very weird, interesting stats. And I very much like how you've positioned Aelfric as the power behind a number of other villains in the hooks: nicely done!

That said, there's serious problems mechanically. Some are simple: I have no idea how you get 212 hp from 15 x 12 (180) plus another 18. Seems like 198 hp would be the max allowed. So there's something wrong there.

The spell choices seem fine for Aelfric's role, though a part of me still thinks that a druid lich might be a contradiction in terms (yes, yes, Richard Pett did one in KQ issue #3). After all, in theory, druids revere nature, and this is where they gain their power. Aelfric's powers run against this role in the game, and this becomes especially apparent in the necromantic spell true contagion.

It's fine so far as it goes, though with problems. First it could be a bookkeeping nightmare for the DM and the rule breaking for potions seems excessive (Sean's right, this should be an elixir for the power level you are generating). The other issue is that the whole spell seems un-druid-ish. It's anti-life, anti-nature, interfering with the normal course of disease and plagues. That's all great stuff for a necromancer, not so likely for a druid. To me, your mechanical choices are undercutting the villain concept.

So overall, I think I'm still not sold on the original concept, and that's bleeding over into my evaluation of the mechanics, and certainly others may see it differently. But I suspect this would have worked better with a dual-class build of some kind, and with more careful attention to the rules-breaking elements in the spell.

Recommendation Not recommended.

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

So, reading the background for this villain leaves me with a number of questions. First off, why was he reincarnated as a human and what purpose does this serve to advance the villains concept. The only thing it does for me is muddle the rules component a bit. I like the fact that the adventure hooks seem to be nods toward some of the other villains, but this might just be a coincidence.

On to the stats. This is sort of a mess. I can understand the default form being an air elemental, but since he can assume so many forms, it only makes sense to list his base form instead. Also, the reincarnate bit from above adds confusion throughout the stat block (some of which comes from the rules themselves, but it was an issue that could have been avoided, had you eliminated this component of the back story). Aelfric is not getting his bonus hit points for Charisma from being undead (see pg 296), and his hit points are calculated incorrectly (it should be 115). Some of the elements under Defensive Abilities should be moved elsewhere. His slams should be listed as "2 slams" not "two slams", and his touch attack should not allow a save for half damage. His storm burst ability should probably be called out as an attack, giving it a bonus to hit, and effects. I can appreciate a condensed spell list, with multiple copies of the same spell prepared, but I think you take it a bit too far. The number of spells, however, is correct. Moving on to the ability scores, feats, and skills, and that nasty reincarnation problem returns. Technically, Aelfric should lose all of the racial traits of his old race (elf) and gain those from his new race (human), this includes things like bonus feats, ability modifiers, and other traits. Reincarnate is messy and best avoided for villains unless it is their big schtick. Aelfric is short on feats and skills for the same reason, since these bonuses are a racial trait. I am not sure why Sense Motive is listed with Diplomacy.

As for the new rules element, there is currently nothing in the rules stating that a disease caused by the basic contagion spell cannot be spread, making this sort of superfluous. I can see that there is no clear rules for this however, which is why you created this item. That said, it does have some oddities associated with it that other reviewers have already mentioned. Suffice to say, I think this could have been far more interesting.

If this were being developed for a product, it would need a good amount of work to convert to a non-elemental form and remove the reincarnate strangeness.

My Grade (on a 1-10 scale) is a 3.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

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

I voted for Aelfric last round, and I really like the concept. I will again disagree with Wolf's complaint about this guy being an evil bastard druid. The rules support evil bastard corruptor druids! Druids are masters of nature, not necessarily lovers of nature. Druids get spells like poison, finger of death, storm of vengeance, creeping doom, and contagion - why not a plague spell (though as Jason B points out, there is nothing stopping regular old contagion from doing the same thing).

I really liked the nods to the other villains (especially the Sharina hook), and I liked the description of Aelfric's forms. I also think that Aelfric works fine even if he's not the A number 1 grand poobah villain of your campaign. Clark is right, that the aberrant hordes are the true ULTIMATE villain, but that doesn't make Aelfric any less of a villain, and just because it is possible for the PCs to work alongside him doesn't make him not a villain either. There are innumerable examples in comicdom of heroes having to ally with hated enemies and diabolical villains, even people who have murdered loved ones (or themselves) to fight a bigger foe. Superman teamed up with Doomsday, THE GUY WHO KILLED HIM, to fight Imperiex! Doomsday was still a villain, but he was briefly channeled into the service of common survival against an even greater threat.

Were Goering, Goebbels, and Himmler not villains just because they answered to Hitler?

Maybe a better example, was Stalin not a villain just because he eventually came around to fight against the Nazis?

Anyway, while I think those points are arguable, the stat block has some significant issues (not least the mash-up of human, elf, druid, lich, and elemental traits), and the new rules element has some mechanical and conceptual issues that you probably should've addressed and didn't.

I still like Aelfric as a villain, and I am 100% in the bag for druid liches and evil druids not having to apologize for being evil, and for villains being complex enough to be great villains even when they occasionally do good things (in the infamous example, "in Hitler's Germany, the trains always ran on time"). That said, if I only have 3 votes out of 17 entries, I think Aelfric will fall short for me.

Star Voter Season 6

Jason Nelson wrote:
I have only 3 votes

Actually, you have four.

Scarab Sages

Hm. I do like the revision to Aelfric's high concept, and I appreciate that you modified the dream angle to account for elves being able to dream. However, I feel that the reincarnation simply made the stat block too complex for no real mechanical or conceptual reasons. Aelfric could just as easily been affected by some kind of post traumatic stress disorder-alike and had his dreams go haywire on him even as an elf, and it would have saved a lot of headaches in the stat block.

Furthermore, I have to agree with the judges: there are some real head-scratchers in the stat block. Having the air elemental be his default form? What's up with his hit points?

Finally, the new mechanic is totally broken. A single casting of true contagion in a major trade city, such as Absalom, has the potentially to obliterate the world's population, especially if the caster was smart and picked a sailor in a tavern who was due to ship out to a nearby city the next day. This is why the WotC contagious disease spell is an Epic spell.

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

roguerouge wrote:
Jason Nelson wrote:
I have only 3 votes
Actually, you have four.

Really? That surprises me. We had 4 last round, I guess I assumed it would go down by 1 each round. That's what I get for thinkin'.


Well you certainly took into account comments made regarding Aelfric's intelligence from the previous round.... :)
I'm seeing some clearing up work having been done on the background, and revision of the adventure hooks to feature arguably 'the top three' villains of the previous round.
I'm still forming initial impressions of this round's entries....

Sovereign Court

While I liked the core concept in round 2, I didn't vote for Aelfric and I am probably not his strongest supporter. But I feel compelled to point out that the POINT of Aelfric is his reincarnation from elf to human. He would not be the villain he is if that hadn't happened. I love that the transition from an elf mind to a human mind basically screwed his mind up. That's really clever and it makes sense that something like this would happen in a world where reincarnation exists.

I also want to mention that the aberrant invasion plot is specifically noted as "optional". While part of me thinks it was a bit wimpy not to make a decision one way or the other, the DM in me says...okay. I like the idea of going in that direction if I feel like it or my players seem interested in pursuing that path. But if you have a problem with Aelfric coming off as a crazed prophet instead of a full-blown villain (which I think he is either way), then just don't use that plot.

I'm impressed with the conceptual changes this round and despite stat block issues Aelfric is high in the running to get my vote because I want to see what's next. Oh, and I love diseases. The new spell needs some fixing, but I love the attempt at making diseases scarier.


Was one of my favorites from last time. He's a druid who wants to stop an aberrant dream invasion by killing anything that can dream. Fair enough! Fluff slightly reworked and seems not as tight as last round. I feel like the addition of the Rovagug reference is to be gratuitously Golarionesque. And the stat block is kinda messy and error-prone. Hrm. 5/10

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Gamer Girrl

First off, I like the retake on what makes Aelfric the way he is. The story is much tighter, and far less is left unexplained for the GM.

That being said, one of my big problems from before was the layers on layers, and instead of tightening here, it feels to me you added more layers ...

Plot Hooks: For me, while I appreciate the nod at the three villains you chose to use, I don't like it, as those three were much stronger villains than Al here, and for him to be using them just doesn't feel right, imo.

Wood Elf? Okay, this is standard SRD, but then it feels as if you were using some personal amalgam of old SRD rules and Pathfinder rules which felt off again. Also, you note the -2 to his INT from being a Wood Elf, but you fail to make any note of the Human +2 to any stat that Pathfinder gives. Also, he had 5 levels of Druid as an elf, and then gained 10 more as a human ... so he should only be a level 14, right? Because of the one permanent negative level? (My Reincarnate-fu is badly rusty, we hardly ever use it in our campaigns.)

He's a druid, a lich, once upon a time an elf (wood), formerly a human ... but he spends the majority of his time as an air elemental? I was starting to wrap my brain around the rest, but here's another layer tacked on ... this one just becomes unwieldy for me.

And I don't like the new spell ... too much, too nasty.

Sorry.


Elora wrote:

While I liked the core concept in round 2, I didn't vote for Aelfric and I am probably not his strongest supporter. But I feel compelled to point out that the POINT of Aelfric is his reincarnation from elf to human. He would not be the villain he is if that hadn't happened. I love that the transition from an elf mind to a human mind basically screwed his mind up. That's really clever and it makes sense that something like this would happen in a world where reincarnation exists.

I also want to mention that the aberrant invasion plot is specifically noted as "optional". While part of me thinks it was a bit wimpy not to make a decision one way or the other, the DM in me says...okay. I like the idea of going in that direction if I feel like it or my players seem interested in pursuing that path. But if you have a problem with Aelfric coming off as a crazed prophet instead of a full-blown villain (which I think he is either way), then just don't use that plot.

I'm impressed with the conceptual changes this round and despite stat block issues Aelfric is high in the running to get my vote because I want to see what's next. Oh, and I love diseases. The new spell needs some fixing, but I love the attempt at making diseases scarier.

I think more or less similarly: I liked the elf-to-human reincarnation angle too and thought it would be something which easily could happen (and thus shame for everyone else for not thinking it up before).

Same goes for (optional) plotline too. I can take that route if I want to, or not. If it is true, well, it doesn't mean that Aelfric is not a nutcase, then it is more a question of Hitler vs Stalin, pick your side, as another commentor pointed out.

And giving nods to other villains was a nice touch, and I am rather fond of diseases too...

So conceptually I like Aelfric a lot. Mechanistically...oh dear. These issues have been covered already by judges and I am forced for now to shortlist you as possible fourth vote, but I might pick something else instead of this.

I thought this already last round, and I do it again: I would like to read RPG fiction from you. I am not so sure if I would want to read RPG supplements from you.

Liberty's Edge

liked the changes in the description and background, it make sit clear he just want to solve things NOW, ironic but the elf is becoming quite human in how he acts, he plans for the future but in the short end.

i liked how he added theother villains into his hooks, ti giveshim a long story

I am still undecided in mechanics you could have done better.

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

I would like to thank everyone for their feedback, even the harsh stuff. I look forward to using it to improve upon Aelfric. Or refuting it by citing specific rules, as appropriate to the criticism in question. :-P

(For the record, I cannot say whether or not that last line will even apply to anything in this thread. I have no specific reaction to your feedback at this time, except to say that I appreciate it.)

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
I wasn't that impressed with Aelfric in the beginning. The language used to describe him still seems rushed. I don't like the descriptions of his appearance and the descriptions of his goals being from different perspectives. I don't see that much has changed or that his presentation matured any with feedback. Maybe a bit less backstory, but I was never moved by his premise to begin with.

The old hooks aren't special. They are wht anyone would do with this character. Give me "Aelfric enlists unknowing allies in his assault on nearby human cities, by driving the lesser races to attack elves in retribution for his on crimes. The response from his former brethren will help him accomplish his gonocidal goals more quickly."

The new hooks, using the other entries are amusing, though I feel that you're tapping someone else's good stuff to brighten your own. It reminds me that those entries weremore compelling than yours to begin with. Brave, but maybe counterproductive.

Mechanics
-Why is Aelfric Huge? If he's a human druid lich, he's not Huge. If he is encontered under the effects of a spell or wildshape, put that in the tactics.
-Like a couple of other entries, I don't really expect to see these combined or presumptive stat blocks. Give me the base stat block to the human druid lich,and then remind me in tactics he likes to fight as an air elemental. Giving me two stat blocks isn't that helpful - he could be lots of things. Just tell his favorite and save me some time.
-In no way do I understand giving this guy Improved Unarmed Strike. He has a slam attack if he fights as an elemental, he has his lich touch if caught off guard. He already has the feat for all intents and purposes. Some might point out he wasn't always a lich or hasn't always been able to become an air elemental. I think good design is above that - give us an encounter we can use now, and abilities that he developed with synergy. A stew of uncomplimentary abilities doesn't really give him personality or character developed over time.Just waters him down.
-Skill choices could be more wisely chosen. Knock off two ranks of Knowledge (Nature) to gain a +4 bonus each to Stealth and Perception. -2 for +8 is pretty smart. Of course, you might say Stealth isn't a class skill for druisds, but I would argue it should be for liches, given the racial bonus.
-How does one give the wounding property to an amulet of mighty fists? That's pretty munchkinny, and should be outragiously expensive. I don't mind it if a PC makes it and pays the right cost for it. But giving it to the PCs after Aelfric is defeated? Hope the next campaign arc is a humdinger.
-I don't think he retains all of his lich abilities while in elemental form. This is a problem with presenting us with combined stat blocks. The slam attack, the unarmed attack, and the lich touch are all different. In looking it over, it seems the elemental body spells don't take any abilities away, nor do they change your current type. The language "allows you to assume the form of" needs clarification. Polymorph is just never gonna let us pin it down.

New Hotness
Mass contagion is a good idea. True contagion is not. The game has a few of those effects where the world ends if taken to their logical conclusion. Shadow spawn are a good example. Once a shadow spawns, you have to nuke the dungeon from orbit before the incorporeal strength drainers take over. Your new spell might not ruin the adventurers' live right away, but an average villager can't resist the disease, and you'll wipe out Absalom or all of the Mwangi Expanse in days. Introduce this spell, and you're no longer looking to commit genocide, you've already done it and the PCs are sifting through corpses trying to find out what happened.

EDIT: As I see it now, the only thing that makes this more of a plague than a regular mass contagion is the elevated DC. So, Heighten Spell would accomplish more than this spell would. I still don't like how rapidly the diease might spread at DC 20 or 22, but that was possible before you made the new version. Now the new spell is just redundant. Some version of the sparing/targeted feature might be worked into an interesting feat, though. Also, maybe a feat where you can make someone a carrier but making them stronger against the disease - say, the Fort save happens half as often. This might set up a fun "patient zero" scenario, which would become your best adventure hook.

Overall
I didn't buy Aelfric from the beginning. This round is a little different - I don't like his new mechanic or his combined lich/air elemental stats. While I acknowledge the system might be to blame there, you chose thise villain and his stats, and so I would expect a clean presentation regardless. If you can't make the mechanics of your villain clear, design a different villain, or specialize in different abilties. While I didn't get excited about him last round from conception, I acknowledge some growth, and I appreciate you listening to your judges and peers. The mechanics are not presented well in my opinion, but the numbers themselves are put together well. While this round you have improved your villain concept and your biggest stat block issues are as much the game's fault as your own, I just don't like the reincarnated elf idea, and don't buy his obsession with dreaming creatures. And, of course, I still prefer that elves dream during reverie. Ups for big improvement, but your stat block includes a flawed decision to presented the buffed, air elemental version and that might be enough to lose my vote.

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

I really liked Aelfric last round, so I was excited to read his revision and stat block this round. While the basics are the same, it didn't read as exciting to me this round. My biggest problem was the internal inconsistencies of "he's stupid and uses brute force" and "he orchestrates breeding programs and engineered plauges" and his various adventure hooks all show a sign of mastermind behind the scenes. Pick one, since both don't work well together.

The stat block wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. The confusion of reading he was huge at the beginning didn't sit well with waiting until his tactics to figure out why. It would have been better to lead with his regular lich form and follow up with his huge air elemental combat form. His spell list does follow the brute force approach, but it's boring to run as a solo villain. I don't see him lasting long in a fight when he's using direct damage exclusively.

The big let down was that you made a point to use the reincarnated villain, and then blew it in the stat block. As pointed out already, all the elf stuff should have been stipped and all the human stuff should have been added.

Finally, this is a lich, and it mentions that he'll fight to the "death" as long as his phylactery is safe, which is good. Unfortunately, there's no mention of what his phylactery is and where it's at.

I still like the villain overall, but I'm not as wowed by him this round as I was last time around. I'll have to read the rest of the entries to see where he falls in respect to my votes.

Star Voter Season 6

Clark and Sean: Check out his feat, Natural Spell: Pathfinder, page 92: "You can complete the verbal and somatic components of spells while using wild shape. You substitute various noises and gestures for the normal verbal and somatic components of a spell. You can also use any material components or focuses you possess, even if such items are melded within your current form."

Jason: "First off, why was he reincarnated as a human and what purpose does this serve to advance the villains concept." Because this elf was driven mad by dreaming. See 'Motivations and Goals': "Used to the disciplined dreams of an elf, Aelfric was terrified by his uncontrolled human nightmares." Reincarnate is central to his schtick.

Kick ass description.

Background: paranoid schizophrenia is fun! And possibly I'm not crazy!

"Aelfric culls the weakest dreaming populations first, leaving the strongest defenders in place in case he fails in his efforts to thwart a dream-enabled aberrant invasion." Brilliant.

"Aelfric unleashes a widespread plague, and then frames a disease-peddling otyugh for the epidemic." LOL. The inclusion of Sherina's good too.

A plot hook could have been that the dream world contacts the PCs to serve as their waking heroes. With a fey angle, maybe. And then they invade.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Personally, I enjoyed the 'And then the aberrations attack' hook... felt very tongue in cheek, humorous, kind of a... 'things can't get any worse. Oh yes, they can.' moment.

And in Aelfric's defense as a villain, he pretty much wants to save the world... by killing everybody who can dream. Which is just about everybody. That's pretty villainous, and I for one, enjoy seeing a villain who thinks he's doing the right thing instead of being psimply psycho or pselfish, or worshipping the evil god of evil for evil's sake.

Scarab Sages

Drakli wrote:
And in Aelfric's defense as a villain, he pretty much wants to save the world... by killing everybody who can dream. Which is just about everybody. That's pretty villainous, and I for one, enjoy seeing a villain who thinks he's doing the right thing instead of being psimply psycho or pselfish, or worshipping the evil god of evil for evil's sake.

I agree, the villain with a sympathetic goal but reprehensible means of meeting that goal provides an extra layer of depth. Magneto was always one of my favorite villains because his goal (mutants not having to fear for their lives every minute of every day) was one I can entirely empathize with, even though his methods (destroy all the non-mutant humans) were obviously villainous. Of course, the other thing that makes Magneto so incredible is the interplay between him and Professor X, who has the same goal but much more humane methods - sometimes too humane, leaving the reader somewhere in the middle.


Steven:
P. 366

Pathfinder Beta Playtest (Amulet of Mighty Fists) wrote:
...Alternatively, this amulet can be enchanted with melee weapon special abilities, so long as they can be applied to unarmed attacks. See Table 15-7 for a list of abilities. Special abilities count as additional bonuses for determining the market value of the item, but do not modify attack or damage bonuses...

I think that wounding would probably count as a legitimate ability to add to such an amulet.


This "new rule"...um...rule for round 3 is probably my favorite part. Kudos to Paizo for doing it.

I like what you were attempting with your spell, but I also agree that it is too powerful for it's level. Someone pointed out a "patient 0" effect, and I'll admit, as I was reading your spell, I was thinking the same thing. Thats what you should have done.

However, my take would have been slightly different. I would have a "target: You". YOU become patient 0, meaning you don't cast this unless you can cure yourself. Or you are suicidal. That would tone it down some. Also, reduce the duration. 24 hours is too long. I would go with 10 minutes, but then you dont get the effect I think you are looking for. Perhaps 1 hour/level? Even with that, this spell should be higher level.

One slight cosmetic thing. Just a personal preference. I would have people infect each other by coughing or sneezing on their target (ranged touch attack, with a range of 5 ft?) I like the imagery better than simply touching your target. Hack, cough! Ewww! That went into my mouth. Gross.

I think you would have been better served by making a new disease instead of a new spell. The DMG only has 10 diseases.

I'm on the fence with your submission. I'll have to read the others. I hope this was constructive.


(edited)
Eric:
The true contagion spell leaves me wondering if you checked the PFRPG throughly for what the toys your villains uses do, since as Jason Bulmahn pointed out in the Beta there is nothing in the contagion entry (page 212) or the glossary entry on Diseases (see the Afflictions section which begins on page 389) to indicate that a contagion cannot spread. If you had wanted to indicate that the disase was super-communicable, you could have added something like 'and the disease gains contact as a means of comunication'.

In fact since Pathfinder RPG currently only has 9 diseases, a new disease in its own right - as the previous poster suggested - might have been simpler and more effective idea, but you seem to be going for conveying that Aelfric is a 'plague master' able to churn out diseases every day if he feels so inclined; diseases tailored to hit (or miss) whatever targets he fancies.

The way that the spell has been executed tips Aelfric over onto the pile of villains who are not priority cases for my Round 3 votes.

Star Voter Season 6

Regarding the stat block as an Air Elemental issue: In the last AP, Paizo's been putting stat blocks with tons of pre-cast spells embedded in the stat block, with the tiny "natural stats" version towards the end of that. The Superstar says that the Air Elemental's his default form, so I have no problems with him making a stat block that indicates that fact. It's an extension on Paizo's existing AP policy of assuming that their villains have the time to cast prep spells.

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

Charles Evans 25 wrote:

Steven:

P. 366
Pathfinder Beta Playtest (Amulet of Mighty Fists) wrote:
...Alternatively, this amulet can be enchanted with melee weapon special abilities, so long as they can be applied to unarmed attacks. See Table 15-7 for a list of abilities. Special abilities count as additional bonuses for determining the market value of the item, but do not modify attack or damage bonuses...

I think that wounding would probably count as a legitimate ability to add to such an amulet.

Now THAT is a sweet change. Expensive, but SWEET.

Does it mean that it's limited to a +1 amulet with added abilities, or you could make any combination up to +5 total?

I mean, I'm gonna go look it up myself, but I think it makes for good discussion, so everyone knows the amulet is legit.

EDIT: I don't like that it doesn't even have to have a bonus to add special properties. It shold be just like anything else.

That doesn't apply here, and the amulet is awesome. Now I'm thinking about keen, flaming burst animal companions.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4 , Star Voter Season 6 aka raidou

Or vorpal dragons. Whee!!!

-eric

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Aotrscommander

You get my vote again, though slightly less enthusiastically this time.

Aotrs Commander's Villain critieria:

Initial Impressions
Stat block problems. Concept good...execution...could use some work.

Concept: The concept is what keeps me going. It's a damn good idea and I second Jason's point about villains not always having to be directly against the PCs.

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

Well, let's get the bad out of the way first. A bit, shall we say, messy in execution. I second what has been said before; his normal form would have been a better base, and the primary air elemental form stat's summarised (ala last year's druid villain Mwana). Also, you should have ditched the -2 Int from Wood Elf when he became human (reincarnation is not like Polymorph et al; your mental stats do change).

Leaving that aside, then, let's see what else we have to work with.

Overall, optimisation is passable. You're starting from Lich druid, so that's a high point (especially since Pathfinder makes wild shaped druids generally better, since they keep their kit bonuses and special abilities if I'm reading it right), but Aelfric could have been better attuned.

Improved Unarmed strike seems entirely redundant, given Aelfric's natural attacks in any form. The money spent on the Amulet of Mighty Fists was probably best invested elsewhere, such as boosting his mediocre armour class.

Spell selection is okay, but he could probably benefit greatly from some increased varity. However, you get bonus points for having two Greater Dispel Magics.

He's still going to be a tough nut to crack, if you fill forgive the almost unseemly appropriateness on multiple levels of that phrase...

Tactics:
Average. Nothing special, and really, not massively optimal given his spell load out. This could use some improvement, especially with regard to spell load out. He's got a massive wisdom - and higher Int than you gave him, so Hectateus is allowed to be cunning with his tactics if he likes.

All that said, I like the concept enough that I'm willing to give you a pass this round anyway, if for no other reason that I'd like to see where you go from here.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Aotrscommander wrote:
Also, you should have ditched the -2 Int from Wood Elf when he became human (reincarnation is not like Polymorph et al; your mental stats do change).

Is that something new to the Pathfinder version of the Reincarnate spell? (don't have a copy with me or on this computer.)

According to the SRD version, mental stats are unchanged.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Gamer Girrl

Drakli wrote:
Aotrscommander wrote:
Also, you should have ditched the -2 Int from Wood Elf when he became human (reincarnation is not like Polymorph et al; your mental stats do change).

Is that something new to the Pathfinder version of the Reincarnate spell? (don't have a copy with me or on this computer.)

According to the SRD version, mental stats are unchanged.

I think it's still just the Str, Dex and Con that get scrubbed and done over on a reincarnate ...


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Oh man, I really want to vote for this guy. The concept of someone starting out as a race that doesn't dream, or at least not the way most creatures do, reincarnated as one that does... especially one so traumatized by aberrant incursions that he only gets nightmares, that's great stuff. I think the people complaining about why he has to have been reincarnated from an elf are missing the point. That's a solid, stirring, evocative way for a fantasy being to go mad. It's kind of like those mundane people in Horror stories who go insane by touching a fragment of the Outre, only in reverse. An outre being gets dragged into the 'mundane' world of needing to sleep and dream and just can't deal.

Grant you, if your elves do dream (and that's fine and good,) it makes him less viable for you... but I find it hard to ding a guy for taking elves the way they traditionally work in 3rd Ed/3.5 and using it to give his villain an unexpected quarter twist.

William Senn wrote:


I agree, the villain with a sympathetic goal but reprehensible means of meeting that goal provides an extra layer of depth. Magneto was always one of my favorite villains because his goal (mutants not having to fear for their lives every minute of every day) was one I can entirely empathize with, even though his methods (destroy all the non-mutant humans) were obviously villainous.

And that's a perfect parellel to illustrate why I like Aelfric as a villain. Thank you!

... and then, I get to the stats and it's kind of a mess. Theoretically, because he's straightforward in action, I can just go boom-boom-boom, using all the biggest baddest spells he's got until he runs out, and I could run him from the stats and assume they're close enough, but that's ignoring the mechanical issues the judges point out. (I don't have time to run an error count of my own.) It's hard to ignore that in a stat-block round.

I think it probably would have been more elegant and take up way less space to stat him based on his normal shape and do the adjusted stats he gets from the air elemental shape in the second bar, listing the special abilities without describing them in full, like it does in the elemental body spells. Having to keep the monster manual bookmarked to Air Elemental is easier on me than the way this is presented.

I voted for him last round, but I'm afraid I oughtn't this time.


I will not vote for this character.

I feel the concept is great, and the concept was improved upon for this round.

I like letting the DM decide whether there really are invaders. You clearly stated this as optional.

However, the stat block is lacking. I like that you gave the air-elemental version and the base version, but the numbers seem off. Since the stat block is not a minor part of this round's submissions, this is a big minus.

The contagious contagion is way over-powered. As stated previously, you can easily kill entire cities, even countries. If you want to keep the basic concept, have the DC get easier each generation, or hav eit contagious for only a certain length of time. etc.

Maybe others will be more impressed.


Unfortunately, I'm kind of in the same place as several other people on this thread: I absolutely love the concept of a reincarnated elf being driven to paranoia as a result of experiencing dreams for the first time. But giving his stats primarily as an air elemental just really doesn't work for me. Flavor-wise, it just doesn't fit for me with how I wanted the character to look and feel, and it seems really inconvenient to me to primarily have wild-shaped stats and have to work more to construct what he might do in his natural form.

I don't want to be discouraging, because I really do think the idea is fantastic, one of those fun little implications that I never would have thought of but seems obvious in retrospect. I'm still on the fence about using my fourth vote this round because most of the ideas that inspired me last round don't seem to have held up in the mechanics. I keep thinking about how I could work up a campaign using this idea, and I'll have to decide if that's enough to look past stats I found unnecessarily complicated.


I am really drawn to the concept of this character, I think an elf, who is used to pretty long term thinking, mostly logical thoughts, and a dreamless waking sleep WOULD go mad when exposed to the complete chaos that is often a human's mind. Dreams would make no sense to them, as they haven't been tempered to the random dischord and scary visions we are taught to accept. People used to think dreams were magical and could cause curses, tell the future(well jury's still out) and any other number of things. It seems to me that it may have been a slow decline, slipping further and further downward, and making that final decision towards lichdom was the final step. That said, I really have no idea what this guy is doing from a rules perspective. I understand the tactics description(I like that he's a berserker) but most of the rest has to be picked apart to understand how to run him, which was the point of this section. Great concept, poor execution, but I will still use a vote to see what you can do next round. As an aside, the new rule would have been much better used to fit something more directly to his back story i.e. the dream hunting. Something to do with sleeping, dreaming, or thoughts, something more directed than being able to target dreaming creature types with a virus which is a little flat.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka Lord Fyre

As one of the other druids that got cut last round, I cannot hold being an "evil bastard druid" against you. :)

However, with your submission, my first impression is that you are trying to cram too much in. The end result is a mess.

But, the real breaking factor is the new spell. There are all kind of problems with it.

  • The infection effect is WAY too powerful. Once this spell spreads, it would quickly break a campaign. (See my second point.)
  • Why the restriction on learning the spell? For one thing, the rules would not support that kind of restriction. What prevents a Necromancer with very few morals from reverse engineering the effect. (Divine spells with that restriction work because the Deity can choose not to grant them.) For that matter, why wouldn't Golarion deities Urgathoa or, especially, Ghlaunder grant this?
  • The potion exception is unnecessary under the current rules. While I do agree that folding them under "Create Wonderous Item" makes that feat too powerful; fixing existing -if broken- rules was not your assignement for this round of the contest.

So, all and all, I cannot see myself voting for this character.

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

Aelfric keeps finishing above the middle, but not quite high enough to vote for. He's about what I expected from the original entry, which isn't a bad thing. I like the air elemental hook - something appealing about a dark wind blowing through the forest. Also liked the cute nods to manipulating the other villains towards his ends. I note my criticism last round was that he's too busy, you've done a nice job tightening it up, an opportunity lots of your competition missed.

The new spell is a bit spooky - I think the balance would work better if the DC dropped towards the base disease each time it infected a new victim.

Ultimately, the villain doesn't grab me quite enough to get a top 4 vote from me, but I'm hoping to see what you have for round 4.

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

I would like to thank everyone for the feedback. I look forward to responding to it soon, assuming my head hasn't exploded in frustration before voting ends.

Russ Taylor wrote:
I'm hoping to see what you have for round 4.

While I think there's no chance of that happening, I appreciate the sentiment.

Star Voter Season 6

Epic Meepo wrote:

I would like to thank everyone for the feedback. I look forward to responding to it soon, assuming my head hasn't exploded in frustration before voting ends.

Russ Taylor wrote:
I'm hoping to see what you have for round 4.
While I think there's no chance of that happening, I appreciate the sentiment.

Eh, I wouldn't put too much trust in the exit polling at the margins. There's a ton of people who vote but don't bother to post here, 'cause they're just not that into that sort of thing. Friends, family, guys and gals in gaming groups online... the list goes on and on. If you're within a handful of votes, you're not out of it.

And take solace in the fact that your writing really did improve this round.

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

roguerouge wrote:
And take solace in the fact that your writing really did improve this round.

And my stat block fu will improve immensely next round based on what I'm hearing in this thread.

Aelfric is the friend of invisible voters everywhere. Vote Aelfric!


Epic Meepo wrote:
Russ Taylor wrote:
I'm hoping to see what you have for round 4.
While I think there's no chance of that happening, I appreciate the sentiment.

And I'm hoping to see what you have to offer generally in future. On both rounds now your entry has been for me on second quarter full of great things but failing to deliver well enough to actually get my vote. But I hope you make it to the next round (and as said, don't put too much faith on exit polls) and even if you didn't, I insist you keep on writing or I will haunt your dreams. And as can be seen, results will not be pretty.

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

First, I would like to thank everyone who provided feedback and everyone who voted for me. And I would like to thank Paizo for providing this opportunity. I would also like to say that, though I lost this round, I’m okay with losing to the eight finalists that remain. I lost to the best eight entries in the competition, and there’s no shame in that.

Now, on to the part where I scream what I’ve wanted to scream in frustration for over a week now. People don’t like that I presented Aelfric’s air elemental stats as his default stats. In fact, I don’t like that I presented Aeflric’s air elemental stats as his default stats, either.

I DID NOT WANT TO present Aelfric’s stat block in that format. I felt that THE RULES REQUIRED ME TO. A high level druid with Natural Spell should almost always use wild shape as a before-combat tactic. And the preformatted stat block was very specific about where I should put the base stats and where I should put the wild shape stats.

The fact that I was forced to list the wild shape stats as the default stats required me to choose one specific wild shape as Aelfric’s preferred wild shape, instead of listing several options in the Tactics section. (I chose the wild shape that looked the most undead; air elementals and dread wraiths are both big, misty, vaguely-humanoid spirits.) Had I felt that it was allowed by the rules, I would have listed multiple different forms from which the GM could select.

For anyone still interested in Aelfric’s base stats, the following is the format I wanted to use this round*.

Spoiler:
AELFRIC DREAM-SLAYER CR 15 [class level -2 base, +2 lich]
NE Medium undead
Init +6 [+2 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative]; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +15 [+8 lich, +7 Wis]
Fear Aura (Su): 60-ft. radius; creatures with less than 5 HD that look at Aelfric are affected as if by a fear spell (CL 15th; Will DC 19 [base 10, +7 half HD, +2 Cha] negates). A creature that successfully saves cannot be affected again by Aelfric’s aura for 24 hours.
Fear Aura doesn’t require a specific appearance or body part to function, and the rules do not say that polymorph effects remove supernatural abilities (see Beta, page 159). Thus, despite some judges’ uncertainty, Aelfric DOES retain Fear Aura when using wild shape. Of course, using the format here, that isn’t even an issue, since Fear Aura is listed with Aelfric’s base stats. Either way, leaving Fear Aura in place during wild shape was NOT AN ERROR.

===== Defense =====
AC not including barkskin: 21 [+2 armor, +2 deflection, +2 Dex, +5 natural], touch 14 [+2 deflection, +2 Dex], flat-footed 19 [+2 armor, +2 deflection, +5 natural] (+2 armor, +2 deflection, +2 Dex, +5 natural [lich])
hp 212 (15d12+18 [+18 Toughness])
Those hit points are a typo; I should have typed 121 [12 max 1st level, +6.5 average x 14 HD, +18 Toughness] instead of 212. I should also have added +30 for Aelfric’s Charisma, a rule which everyone but Jason Bulmahn seems to have missed. That makes ERROR #1.
Fort +11 [+2 cloak, +9 druid], Ref +14 [+2 cloak, +2 Dex, +5 druid, +2 Lightning Reflexes], Will +18 [+2 cloak, +9 druid, +7 Wis]
Defensive Abilities resist nature’s lure, turn resistance +4; DR 15/bludgeoning and magic; Immune cold, electricity, magical aging, mind-affecting effects, poison, polymorph (can use polymorph effects on self), undead immunities

===== Offense =====
Spd 30 ft., trackless step, woodland stride
[Melee unarmed strike +12/+7/+2 (1d3+1 plus 1 Con damage [amulet]) or touch attack (once per round) +12 touch [+11 base, +1 Str] (1d8+5 negative energy damage against living creatures only, Will DC 19 [base 10, +7 half HD, +2 Cha] half, plus paralyzing touch)
Contrary to Jason Bulmahn’s comment, a lich’s touch attack allows a saving throw for half damage; see the Damage section of the lich template in the SRD. The saving throw for half damage was NOT AN ERROR
Special Attacks lightning lord, paralyzing touch, storm burst
Special Actions a thousand faces, wild shape (6/day)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 15th)
7/day--obscuring mist
1/day--control winds (DC 17 [base 10, +5 spell level, +2 Cha]), fog cloud
Spells Prepared (DRUID CL 15th) [for all DCs: base 10, +spell level, +7 Wis]
[base spells: 4/4/4/4/4/4/3/2/1; plus bonus spells for Wis 24: 0/2/2/2/1/1/1/1]
8th--finger of death (DC 25)
7th--control weather, creeping doom, fire storm (DC 24)
6th--antilife shell (2, DC 23), greater dispel magic (2)
5th--baleful polymorph (2, DC 22), call lightning storm (2, DC 22), tree stride
4th--flame strike (2, DC 21), freedom of movement (2), ice storm (DC 21)
3rd--call lightning (2, DC 20), meld into stone (2), protection from energy (2)
2nd--barkskin (2), flame blade (2), tree shape (2)
1st--entangle (3, DC 18), faerie fire (3, DC 18)
0--detect magic, guidance, light, mending
Spontaneous Casting summon nature’s ally spells
===== Tactics =====
Before Combat When expecting combat within the hour, Aelfric casts antilife shell, barkskin, freedom of movement, and protection from energy against fire. Shortly before combat begins, he uses wild shape to assume one of the forms whose statistics is provided below.
During Combat Aelfric's tactics are as subtle as a natural disaster. He stands back and casts his most powerful offensive spells as rapidly as possible. If his spells prove ineffective, he engages foes in melee, but he prefers spellcasting to physical combat.
Morale So long as his phylactery exists, Aelfric doesn't fear destruction. He only retreats if he believes he has no hope of inflicting casualties before being taken out.
Statistics in Air Elemental Form

    NE Huge undead
    Init +9 [+5 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative]
    AC not including barkskin: 21 [+2 armor, +2 deflection, +5 Dex, +4 natural, -2 size], touch 15 [+2 deflection, +5 Dex, -2 size], flat-footed 16 [+2 armor, +2 deflection, +4 natural, -2 size] (+2 armor, +2 deflection, +5 Dex, +4 natural, -2 size)
    Ref +14 [+2 cloak, +5 Dex, +5 druid, +2 Lightning Reflexes]
    DR 15/bludgeoning and magic, and 5/-; Immune cold, critical hits, electricity, magical aging, mind-affecting effects, poison, polymorph (can use polymorph effects on self), sneak attacks, undead immunities
    Spd 30 ft., fly 120 ft. (perfect), trackless step, woodland stride
    Melee two slams +12 [+11 base, -2 size, +3 Str] (2d8+3 plus 1 Con damage [amulet]) or touch attack (once per round) +12 touch [+11 base, -2 size, +3 Str] (1d8+5 negative energy damage against living creatures only, Will DC 19 [base 10, +7 half HD, +2 Cha] half, plus paralyzing touch)
    No one called me on it, but Aelfric’s first air elemental natural attack should add his lich’s touch attack damage. (See the melee section above for an explanation of why the touch attack damage DOES allow a save for half.) Forgetting to add that damage makes ERROR #2. Note that if I hadn’t made this error, I would not have erred by list “two slams” instead of “2 slams,” since the slams would not have been grouped together in the first place.
    Special Attacks lightning lord, paralyzing touch, storm burst, whirlwind (DC 21, MM 95)
    Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft.
    Str 16 [+4 elemental body IV], Dex 20 [+6 elemental body IV]
    CMB +14 [+11 base, +3 Str]
Statistics in Earth Elemental Form
    NE Huge undead
    Init +3 [-1 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative]
    AC not including barkskin: 19 [+2 armor, +2 deflection, +1 Dex, +6 natural, -2 size], touch 11 [+2 deflection, +1 Dex, -2 size], flat-footed 18 [+2 armor, +2 deflection, +6 natural, -2 size] (+2 armor, +2 deflection, +1 Dex, +6 natural, -2 size)
    Ref +10 [+2 cloak, +1 Dex, +5 druid, +2 Lightning Reflexes]
    DR 15/bludgeoning and magic, and 5/-; Immune cold, critical hits, electricity, magical aging, mind-affecting effects, poison, polymorph (can use polymorph effects on self), sneak attacks, undead immunities
    Spd 30 ft., earth glide (MM 98), trackless step, woodland stride
    Melee slams +14 [+11 base, -2 size, +5 Str] (2d8+5 plus 1 Con damage [amulet] plus touch attack damage plus paralyzing touch) and slam +14 [+11 base, -2 size, +5 Str] (2d8+5 plus 1 Con damage [amulet]) or touch attack (once per round) +14 touch [+11 base, -2 size, +5 Str] (1d8+5 negative energy damage against living creatures only, Will DC 19 [base 10, +7 half HD, +2 Cha] half, plus paralyzing touch)
    Special Attacks lightning lord, paralyzing touch, push (MM 98), storm burst
    Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft.
    Str 20 [+8 elemental body IV], Dex 12 [-2 elemental body IV]
    CMB +18 [+11 base, +5 Str, +2 size]
Statistics in Tendriculos Form
    NE Huge undead
    Init +3 [-1 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative]
    AC not including barkskin: 19 [+2 armor, +2 deflection, +1 Dex, +6 natural, -2 size], touch 11 [+2 deflection, +1 Dex, -2 size], flat-footed 18 [+2 armor, +2 deflection, +6 natural, -2 size] (+2 armor, +2 deflection, +1 Dex, +6 natural, -2 size)
    hp 212 (15d12+18 [+18 Toughness]), regeneration 5 (acid or bludgeoning damage)
    Ref +10 [+2 cloak, +1 Dex, +5 druid, +2 Lightning Reflexes]
    Defensive Abilities ; DR 15/bludgeoning and magic, and 5/-; Immune cold, critical hits, electricity, magical aging, mind-affecting effects, poison, polymorph (can use polymorph effects on self), sneak attacks, undead immunities
    Spd 30 ft., trackless step, woodland stride
    Melee bite +14 [+11 base, -2 size, +5 Str] (2d8+7 plus 1 Con damage [amulet] plus touch attack damage plus paralyzing touch plus improved grab) and 2 slams +9 [+11 base, -5 secondary attack, -2 size, +5 Str] (1d6+5 plus 1 Con damage [amulet]) or touch attack (once per round) +14 touch [+11 base, -2 size, +5 Str] (1d8+5 negative energy damage against living creatures only, Will DC 19 [base 10, +7 half HD, +2 Cha] half, plus paralyzing touch plus improved grab)
    Special Attacks improved grab (MM 241), lightning lord, paralyzing touch, storm burst
    Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft.
    Str 20 [+8 plant form III], Dex 12 [-2 plant form III]
    CMB +18 [+11 base, +5 Str, +2 size]

===== Statistics =====
Str 12, Dex 14, Con -, Int 8 [8 base, -2 wood elf, +2 lich], Wis 24 [15 base, +3 ability increases, +4 headband, +2 lich], Cha 15 [13 base, +2 lich]
As in 3.5, the reincarnate spell in the Beta rules does not remove all ability score modifiers of the old race and apply all of the modifiers of the new race. The spell removes only the physical modifiers of the old race [a +2 Str mod for a wood elf], and applies new modifiers based on the table accompanying the spell [no new modifiers for becoming a human]. Ability scores are otherwise unchanged [leaving the -2 Int for a wood elf in place and not adding a floating +2 for being human]. Aelfric’s racial modifiers after reincarnation are NOT AN ERROR.
Base Atk +11; CMB +12 [+11 base, +1 Str]
Feats [one feat at 1st level, when Aelfric was an elf not a human; 7 feats for advancing in level] Brew Potion, Combat Casting, Improved Initiative, Improved Unarmed Strike, Lightning Reflexes, Natural Spell, Scribe Scroll, Toughness
I applied the human trait, Bonus Feat, correctly when giving Aelfric only one 1st-level feat. In the Beta rules, as written, the Bonus Feat trait does NOT say, “Humans select one extra feat.” It says, “Humans select one extra feat on first level.” The trait lists a specific condition under which its effects are applied; Aelfric has never met that condition, since he was never a 1st-level human. The conditional benefit of the Bonus Feat trait does not apply. According to the rules as written, Aelfric not having a 1st-level human bonus feat is NOT AN ERROR.
Skills [15 levels x 4 ranks/level for an Int 8 human druid minus 5 ranks for 5 levels on which Aelfric was an elf instead of a human = 55 ranks] Diplomacy +2 (+10 to sense motive) [+2 Cha, (+8 lich)], Fly +25 [9 ranks, +3 class, +5 Dex, +8 maneuverability], Handle Animal +10 [5 ranks, +2 Cha, +3 class], Knowledge (nature) +17 [13 ranks, +3 class, -1 Int, +2 nature sense], Perception +15 [+8 lich, +7 Wis], Spellcraft +17 (+21 to cast defensively) [15 ranks, +3 class, -1 Int, (+4 Combat Casting)], Stealth +13 [+5 Dex, +8 lich], Survival +25 [13 ranks, +3 class, +2 nature sense, +7 Wis]
For some reason I still haven’t figured out, I listed Sense Motive with Diplomacy, which is an error. It should have been listed separately as Sense Motive +15 [+8 lich, +7 Wis]. That makes ERROR #3.
However, I applied the human trait, Skilled, correctly when assigning Aelfric’s bonus skill ranks for now being human. In the Beta rules, as written, the Skilled trait does NOT say, “Humans gain one additional skill rank per level.” It says, “Humans gain an additional skill rank at first level, and one additional rank whenever they gain a level.” For the same reason he doesn’t gain an extra feat on first level (see above), Aelfric also doesn’t gain an additional skill rank. Also, he doesn’t gain additional ranks for levels he gained prior to having the Skilled trait. The trait only activates when Aelfric gains new levels; it provides no benefit for already having existing levels. According to the rules as written, Aelfric not having extra skill ranks for his first five levels is NOT AN ERROR.

Languages Common, Druidic, Elven
SQ nature bond (Weather domain), nature sense, resist nature's lure, timeless body, trackless step, venom immunity, wild empathy, woodland stride
Gear (melded into Aelfric’s form when using wild shape) amulet of mighty fists with the wounding property, bracers of armor +2, cloak of resistance +2, focus for an active spellstaff spell which stores summon nature’s ally VIII, headband of inspired wisdom +4, potion of inflict serious wounds (2), ring of protection +2, scroll of true contagion (new spell)
===== Special Abilities =====
A Thousand Faces (Su): Aelfric can change his appearance at will, as if using the alter self spell, but only while in his normal form.
Lightning Lord (Su): Aelfric can call down fifteen bolts of lightning per day. Aelfric can call down as many bolts as he wants with a single standard action, but no creature can be the target of more than one bolt and no two targets can be more than 30 feet apart. This ability otherwise
functions as call lightning.
Nature Bond (Ex): Aelfric has the Weather domain, with effective cleric level 15th.
Nature Sense (Ex): Aelfric gains a +2 bonus on Knowledge (nature) and Survival checks (already included in his skill bonuses).
Paralyzing Touch (Su): Any living creature Aelfric hits with his touch attack is permanently paralyzed (Fortitude DC 19 [10 base, +7 half HD, +2 Cha] negates). Remove paralysis or any effect that can remove a curse can free the victim (see the bestow curse spell). The effect cannot be dispelled. Anyone paralyzed by Aelfric seems dead, though a DC 20 Spot check or DC 15 Heal check reveals that the victim is still alive.
Resist Nature’s Lure (Ex): Aelfric gains a +4 bonus on saving throws against the spell-like
and supernatural abilities of fey. This bonus also applies to spells and effects that target plants, such as blight, entangle, spike growth, and warp wood.
Storm Burst (Su): As a standard action, Aelfric can create a storm burst targeting any foe within 30 feet as a ranged +14 [+11 base, +5 Dex, -2 size] touch attack. The storm burst deals 1d6+7 points of nonlethal damage. In addition, the target is buffeted by winds and rain, causing it to take a –2 penalty on attack rolls for 1 round.
Timeless Body (Ex): Aelfric cannot be magically aged.
Trackless Step (Ex): Aelfric leaves no trail in natural surroundings and cannot be tracked.
He may choose to leave a trail if so desired.
Venom Immunity (Ex): Aelfric is immune to poison even if he somehow loses his undead immunities.
No one called me on it, but in the stat block using the format required by the contest rules, I listed the whirlwind special ability without declaring that it was a supernatural ability. That makes ERROR #4.
Wild Empathy (Ex): Aelfric can attempt to influence animals, and has a +17 [+2 Cha, +15 level] total bonus on wild empathy checks. See Beta, page 24.
Wild Shape (Su): Aelfric can use the wild shape ability six times per day. See Beta, pg. 25.
Woodland Stride (Ex): Aelfric may move through any sort of undergrowth (such as natural thorns, briars, overgrown areas, and similar terrain) at his normal speed and without taking damage or suffering any other impairment. Thorns, briars, and overgrown areas that have been magically manipulated to impede motion, however, still affect him.

*I have not yet edited out any of my stat block errors, so as to comment on them.

Ignoring the formatting issue – over which I felt I had no control – note that I made only four errors in my stat block (as explained in the spoiler, above):

    1) I listed the wrong number of hit points.
    2) I neglected to add Aelfric’s touch attack damage to one of his natural attacks.
    3) I incorrectly grouped Sense Motive with another skill.
    4) I did not declare that the whirlwind is a supernatural ability.

To the best of my knowledge, those are the only four errors in my stat block. Despite comments to the contrary, I contend that I implemented the polymorph rules 100% correctly, even when I left the supernatural abilities of a lich in place in air elemental form (as explained in the spoiler). Despite comments to the contrary, I contend that I implemented the reincarnate rules 100% correctly, even when retroactively applying human traits (as explained in the spoiler). For that matter, I was also correct in listing a save for half damage against a lich's touch attack (as explained in the spoiler), something which I've seen done wrong in multiple published adventures.

In each case, I applied the rules exactly as written. I did not attempt to divine designer intent. I merely read what the rule said and applied it exactly as stated. In the case of reincarnation, I was using a messy corner-case rule, so the result was messy, even though it was 100% correct.

In the case of the polymorph rules leaving supernatural abilities in place, I didn’t feel that this even warranted an explanation; polymorphing creatures with supernatural abilities are hardly a corner case, so every GM needs to know how they work. Even if you never use a polymorphing lich, the same confusing issues apply to lycanthropes, vampires, metallic dragons, and a long list of shapechanging outsiders.

Of course, the time I spent getting all of that polymorphing and reincarnation correct clearly hurt the rest of my entry. As I mention, my stat block does include four silly errors. And as others have observed, my new rule could have been much better. (Though one complaint about true contagion was incorrect: since it is based on the contagion spell, the diseases it creates use their normal DCs, not the spell’s much-higher DC.)

All that being said, I still believe that the best eight entries moved on this round, and I wish the best of luck to this year’s Top 8.


Commiserations.
And interesting to see your thoughts on the entry now.

Star Voter Season 6

Congratulations on your success! Sad that you can't advance farther this year, but you've still come a long way. And, yes, given how many published Paizo stat blocks include auto-prep spells, I feel it's silly that you got slammed for doing the same with the druid wild shape ability.

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