Tellasara, Princess in Repose

Round 3: Design a villain

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

Tellasara, Princess in Repose
Portrait: 8
Description: Twenty years ago, Tellasara Morgethai was found mysteriously murdered on the streets of Riverspire. Her grieving father, unable let her go, interred her in a private crypt below the city.
Yet Tellasara still clings to life, suffering the hell of unremitting nightmares as her imagination plays out what the assault might have been like. Perhaps through a latent sorcerous talent, or perhaps through the fermenting of a poison on her assailant’s blade, in recent months Tellasara’s broken mind has somehow begun to project the dreams of her death into physical reality.
Motivations/Goals: At night, a nightmare-born assailant stalks Riverspire, searching for female companionship with which to act out an imagined past.
Schemes/Plots/Adventure Hooks: The party receives a worried message from an ally in Riverspire: several of her friends have been murdered recently, and now she herself is being followed at night.

Tellasara CR 6
Female elven aristocrat 3
NG Medium humanoid (elf)

===== Tellasara’s Abbreviated Statistics =====
AC helpless
hp 10 (3d8-3)
Fort +0, Ref +3, Will -2
Defensive Abilities feverish mind
Special Attacks project assailant (DC 18)
Str 9, Dex 15, Con 9, Int 12, Wis 8 (currently 0), Cha 12
SQ dreamspeaker
Gear cloak of elvenkind, masterwork mithral dagger with Morgethai emblem, +2 ring of protection, ring of sustenance

===== Tellasara’s Special Abilities =====
Feverish Mind (Ex) If Tellasara succumbs to a mind-affecting effect, she carries it out through the assailant (who cannot otherwise be affected). Tellasara's mind is unstable: every day at sunset she automatically reattempts the applicable save (if any).
Project Assailant (Sp) Most nights, 1d4 hours after sunset, Tellasara unconsciously creates a new assailant in Riverspire above her. This functions like greater shadow conjuration with a CL of 11. The assailant persists for 1d6 hours, but never past dawn. The assailant’s appearance is different every night, but an opposed Perception vs the assailant’s Disguise check reveals the face of Tellasara.


The Assailant CR --
Male elven rogue (ripper, R2) 5/assassin 1
CE Medium humanoid (elf)
Init +3; Senses low-light vision; Perception +9

===== Defense =====
AC 15, touch 15, flat-footed 12, disbelieved 11; (+2 deflection, +3 Dex)
hp 19 (6d8+5)
Fort +1, Ref +8, Will +0
Defensive Abilities unbound +5 1/day, uncanny dodge; Immune mind-affecting effects (but see Tellasara’s 'feverish mind')

===== Offense =====
Spd 30 ft.
Melee mwk mithral dagger +7 (1d4+3)
Ranged mwk mithral dagger +7 (1d4+3)
Special Attacks death attack (DC 12), sneak attack +4d8

===== Tactics =====
During Combat The assailant uses his Stealth skill or charmer talent to approach his chosen victim, then uses blitz attack and death attack in tandem. If the victim survives his initial assault, he tries to finish her off quickly.
Morale If the assailant is ever outnumbered, immobilized, or has his cover blown, he can take one more round's worth of actions (typically spent escaping), at the end of which his conjuration ends for the night.

===== Statistics =====
Str 16, Dex 16, Con 11, Int 12, Wis 8, Cha 12
Base Atk +3; CMB +6; CMD 19
Feats Quick Draw, Skill Focus (Disguise), Sly Draw
Skills Bluff +9, Climb +11, Diplomacy +10, Disguise +13, Knowledge (local) +10, Knowledge (nobility) +6, Perception +9, Sleight of Hand +12, Stealth +14
Languages Common, Draconic, Elven
SQ blitz attack +2, butchery, fast getaway, poison use, projected equipment, rogue talents (charmer 2/day)
Gear (see 'projected equipment')

===== Special Abilities =====
Projected Equipment (Su) The assailant carries any equipment interred with Tellasara, as part of the greater shadow conjuration. If an item leaves the assailant’s possession, it fades away after 1 minute.

Dark Archive Contributor

Congratulations on reaching Round Three. My job is to comment on your character concept, not the rules. Also, I’ll leave typos and low-level writing issues to the mercies of the other judges.
I’m hoping to see villains with a compelling motivation and clear goal. I’ll try to point out both strengths and weaknesses before making a simple yes/no recommendation. Good luck in the voting!

The description leaves me with more questions than understanding. Wouldn't it be more interesting to know how Tellasara was murdered and what connection that has to her current state? Likewise, when we get to “perhaps” and “somehow,” I feel we’re reading text meant to tease investigators rather than to inform a GM.

In the motivations/goals, are you describing Tellasara or the one who murdered her? It's all very murky. Likewise in the adventure hooks.

You have been weighed and measured:
I vote not to advance this one.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut Hmmm...
I really had to stop and think on this one. You've gone and given us not one, but two "villains" of sorts. This is a huge risk and a very unorthodox way of approaching the challenge this round. As such, I'm going to depart from the format I've used on all the other villain critiques and examine this one a bit differently.

First, obviously, Tellasara herself isn't a villain, per se. And yet, the foe conjured from her subconscious mind is. That said, I'm not sure I understand Tellasara's current existence. Is she undead? Is she in a coma? The background says she was murdered and her grieving father interred her in a private crypt. So, how is it that she still clings to life and has the means to continue dreaming and projecting her murderous assailant? Obviously, there's a ring of sustenance I could buy off on the coma thing...but it's just unclear.

Secondly, the assailant himself is a bit of a conundrum. How do you stat what's basically meant to be a greater shadow conjuration and apply an archetype to it? I mean, you're kind of breaking new ground here in some ways. And I can see the very horror movie-esque vibe that you're going for where the heroes might slay the conjured assailant only to have it disappear and then reform again each night until they can trace it back to Tellasara. This is an interesting encounter setup. I'm just not sure how well it adheres to the assignment. And this smacks more of the kind of situation where a publisher assigns a freelancer a task and then gets back something completely different than what they envisioned/expected.

Setting that aside, I'm a little put off by the "abbreviated" statistics for Tellasara...which obviously became necessary because you were up against word count. You clocked in right at 600 words and I think that's because you overreached in an effort to design something that would stand out. Well, it definitely stands out. I'm just not sure it's the right way to do so.

So, I'm left with assessing the assailant's stat-block if I really want to get a sense for how you'd handle such number crunching. And yet, you can't really assign it a CR as a psuedo-shadow conjuration. Meanwhile, it's far more potent than Tellasara...who can't be a CR 6 on her own, being helpless, despite the project assailant ability. There's no such thing as a "disbelieved" element to a creature's AC. So, you're breaking rules here in ways that aren't good (in my opinion). And I can't help feeling you would have been better served to just design a Jack the Ripper homage in a standalone villain rather than a projected one.

Thus, I do NOT recommend this villain design to advance, despite some clever reinterpretation of the format and concept. But maybe your flavorful, unorthodox approach will appeal to the voters? Best of luck.


Ok, I gotta give you props for doing something weird and creative here.

But the writing is confusing. You say she was murdered. But then you talk about all this other stuff without actually saying, "she's not really dead, she's lying unconscious for 20 years projecting a nightmare."

Her actual stat block is irrelevant, she's not the villain. She's an aristocrat with no real powers, doesn't know she's doing it, is helpless, and isn't trying to hurt anyone, and is supposedly dead. That's not a villain. The important stat block is that of "the Assailant."

You took some liberties with the stat block--you put an extra line above the ==== lines. Those aren't in the provided format. You shouldn't put extra lines into the provided format because the format is correct. If you put lines in, I have to take them out.

This is just weird enough that if someone submitted this as part of a manuscript, I'd probably just send it back to them and say, "you didn't do this quite right, fix it." The challenge asked for a villain, and you gave us a nightmare-projecting quasi-corpse non-villain and her disappearing dream-projection spell non-villain. Neither of these are villains, any more than a magical trap that conjures a monster from the summon monster V list and sends it out into the town is a villain. The Assailant is a unique representation of a spell... and I don't feel that "someone" you can dispense with using a dispel magic spell is a villain.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

Hey Erik! Congrats on making it into the top 16. I'm approaching all of this round's entries with a developer's eye, as the man who will ultimately be developing the winner's Module and the top 4 contestants' Pathfinder Society Scenarios. So let's assume you're one of those four designers and this is a villain you base your adventure around. What's my reaction when this comes in as your idea for a villain for your big adventure?

Wow! You really went out on a limb here! But careful, the higher up you climb, the more fragile those limbs become.

I have to go with Sean here and say that if this came in as something I'd have to develop, I wouldn't even bother. I'd send it back and require that you follow the assignment. I get that you were trying to do something completely unique, and if the adventure around it were crafted just so, I think it could maybe work. But it wasn't what was assigned.

That aside, let's look at what you provided. I liked the idea that this woman was dead when I saw the picture and read the first line. Then I tried to remember where I'd heard her name before. Tellasara is a decent elven name, but Morgethai is what I was hung up on. Then I remembered: is this lady related to the iconic Damiel? Cause that's his last name. Could be coincidence, but then again, they're both from Riverspire, so I doubt that. We generally don't reference our iconics within canon, so that's got me hesitant as I move on.

Moving past that, I'm intrigued by the concept you've come up with, and by the end of the schemes section, I'm really eager to see how you plan to pull this off.

The statblock itself is, well, it's got stats.

She's an elf, not an elven, first, so even if she were the villain, that's a mark against you. Then you've got the lack of actual formatting there, cramming all her relavent stats into a fairly useless block of stuff that doesn't really matter because she's comatose. Then you've created some new mechanics that don't belong in a villain writeup. Perhaps in a new class or template or monster statblock, but an NPC should use existing rules except in extreme cases, and this one doesn't do that.

When we get to the real villain (the one with the archetype) he's got no CR? Really? But he's effectively a CR 5 creature. So he should have a CR. By this point, I've basically given up trying to make sense of it. It's really creative but it's not something I can work with as a developer.

Final verdict: I DO NOT recommend this villain for advancement. Best of luck.

Senior Designer

Howdy. I’m Stephen, and I will be one of your guest judges for this round of RPG Superstar. I’m looking at the stat block purely based on what I consider fun or interesting to run. I have a little experience with that. That means the villain should be evocative, clear, effective, and big extra credit points go for interesting. There’re a lot of good villains out there, yours needs to stand out is some way.

This thing is an interesting idea, but a cluttered mess. What Dave said about the description, I echo when it comes to mechanics. The idea is has merit, but the application of it is a maze of confusion.

I know I said I want interesting, but I also need clear and effective. This is too unclear to be effective.

Good luck with the voting, Erik, but I do not recommend this villain for advancement.

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

I think you bit off way more than you could chew here. The psychic assailant trope is a fine one to try for, but it does not work within the context of this challenge. Tellasara is dead, or maybe not, but her mind generates a villainous killer, who isn't really. I think Stephen Radney-MacFarland's phrase "maze of confusion" is an apt one. This seems like a home-game villain, not one suitable for publication.

I will not be voting for this entry.

Summary: 2.5 Points
Recommendation: Recommended for advancement

Erik my approach to this round was as a brand manager. I'll leave the detailed mechanical analysis to the others. If I were in charge of the product this villain would appear in, I'd be thinking the following:

Did you follow the instructions?

This is the crux of your whole submission, isn't it. If I decide the rules are "one and only one character per submission", we're done.

Lucky for you, I would rather reward out of the box thinking. If you take big risks, you have to deliver big returns too.

The key sense of this round is "did you create a villain", not "did you follow the instructions to the letter". I think you did create a villain so I'm going to continue to critique your submission.

.5 Point. You broke the rules, but you did so with elan. Let's see if you can survive the round.

Is this villain memorable and will it add value to my IP?

In a word: Yes

The idea of a sleeping source of horror loose in the city is pretty good. The horror itself, as an essentially "unkillable" opponent will drive some players absolutely mad as they try to figure out how to beat it, what it is, and if it's "legal" or not within the rules (or just some crazy GM adhockery).

No matter what, that's going to be memorable.

1 Point.

Does the villain's concept make sense within the IP?

No, it doesn't.

The root problem you have is that you've created something that requires much more mechanical explanation than you're allowed for this round.

Is Tellasara asleep, in some suspended state, or dead? How is that caused? What are its practical implications.

How is the Assailant generated?

Neither of these critical things are explained in your submission and therefore the whole thing is deeply flawed.

0 Points.

What's the twist? (All great villains have a surprise within them)

The twist is that the "villain" isn't really a villain at all. It's a plot device, or a challenge, but not someone directly opposing the PCs or trying to do evil in the world.

Lets assume the PCs track down the source of the Assailant, and burst into Tellasara's crypt ready to do mayhem. They find a seemingly deceased beautiful elf-girl who is utterly unthreatening. The moral quandries are glorious! What if they waste her assuming she's much more dangerous than she looks? What if they try to communicate with her - do they determine she's at fault despite her trauma? What if they want to try to heal her? What if there's a significant reward for elminating "the Assailant" - how will they prove they've earned it?

1 Point

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 4 aka Scipion del Ferro

I don't usually respond to other peoples, but I think you've found one of the few situations someone could have used the dreamer archtype from last round.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka motteditor

Not to pile on, since I think there's definitely the interesting germ of an idea here, but why is she having to imagine what the assault was like? Didn't she suffer it? Was she knocked unconscious and then (I assume) sexually assaulted and killed?

I thought you were going to have something very similar to the dream one of your competitors created (Lady Rosiline Mistandre) but it didn't quite work as is.

Star Voter Season 6

Cody Coffelt wrote:
I don't usually respond to other peoples, but I think you've found one of the few situations someone could have used the dreamer archtype from last round.

Exactly. Great, great point. Either that or make it a ghost ripper, if that's even legal for this round.

Basically, this is a great plot with lots of RP-developing situations, but the mechanics just fall down splat here.

I also don't particularly respond to the motivations or schemes. It seems like these reenactments should lead to her killer in some way.

Still, what annoyed me the last two rounds was how safe and stolid most submissions were, so this one will get a second look from me for a vote.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

This is a huge risk, and it's not really working within the confines of assigned publishable material. Kudo's for the risk, but it's gonna leave a lot of people behind. I think Cody hit the nail pretty squarely here, this should have been done with the dreamer archetype. It would have made for a much cooler uncontrolled monster while keeping with the round a little better.

I also have an issue with finding a solution to this problem. It's all well and good to leave it a mystery to the PCs, but as a DM I'd really like to see some manner of solution to present to the PCs if they run into a dead end. It seems like the only means of killing off the "stalker" is to deal with the "dreamer". But how? If it turns out to be as simple as waking her up or healing her the PCs will feel ripped off (why didn't dad try that?) If the solution is as extreme as killing her you run into a moral issue. She's essentially innocent and is definitely helpless, a good character (certainly a paladin) would never in a million years go for this. If there is some manner of quest or something it really needs to be detailed. I don't think many DMs will use this idea without some means of bringing it to a close.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka motteditor

I think you could work that out pretty easily, Nick. If you connect back to the original assailant who almost-murdered Tellasara and deal with him, it lets her soul be at rest. Almost a two-for-one murder mystery.

I need a lot more information on how she was killed, and how she got her powers.

I am not voting for this one since I don't see how I can use it in any of my games.

Some really cool creepiness in this villain concept, and that's what wins my vote. Yes, there are some elements that need revision or fleshing out; but the fundamentals are there and fascinating. I do disagree with some of the comments by the judges, since identifying the need for additional content can be sufficient, enabling a GM to craft his own connections and make them unique from campaign to campaign. I would rather have something that's 70% inspiring and 20% not there than something that's 20% inspiring and complete.

I had to re-read this a couple of times, which isn't good. It's confusing, in the whole "is she dead or isn't she" sort of way. It could lead to some interesting choices and encounters if done right, but I think it's also easy to overcome.

Fighting a monster and then realizing it's a (sort of?) alive innocent is a bit of a conundrum. If I were reading over a module and came across this part, I'd probably re-write this entire part. In fact, this made me think the "Dream Summoner" archetype that was in the previous round would come in handy. More of a plot device, and not really well made. I think if you had a shadow conjuration type monster, guarding the sleeping princess and feeding off of her anger or what-not, and killing based on her memories and dreams, it could still pull off a similar feel without all the mechanical issues.

Maybe I'm wrong, and I think getting points for out-of-the-box thinking is nice, but it also leads to alot of amateur mistakes and could make deciphering an entire module with encounters like these difficult and uninteresting, in my opinion.

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

Points for swinging for the bleachers. But as the judges said, within your word count limit, you just didn't manage to sell the idea. This could be a neat villain for a whole module with another half-page to develop it. With that said, I do think the "demons of a sleeping mind" theme is a bit overused, even if not so much in Pathfinder. I like that she's summoning back her "murderer", that's a nice twist on traditional ghost or haunt themes.

I'm putting this in the "no" column for now, but with a note to come back to it. I'd be interested in what you do next if you make it to the semis.

Scarab Sages Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7

I wasn't too sure about this one, but the image of her, trapped in her crypt, tortured by her dreams, unknowingly creating the very essence of her fears to stalk the streets stayed in my mind while reading through all other villain entries.
I want to see an adventure with her as the main plot - though I wouldn't call her the villain.
I guess that is enough to vote for this one.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

As the others have pointed out, this one tries to push the envelope. That's a good thing! However, the execution is unusual to the point that it is too distracting.

I want to be able to vote for this, but I don't think I can.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

Thanks everyone for your comments and your feedback. I've definately learned a lot from this panel, and am deeply appreciative of everyone's time. I look forward to hearing more from the community over the next few days.

It looks like this is going to be a very competative round, so if you're on the fence, and thinking you might want to see more from me in a subsequent round, please, consider voting for me!

Thank you all so much!

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

This is a neat and clever idea and could work in an adventure and be both maddening and memorable for players. The mechanics are inherently wonky because we can't reconstruct them... because they don't really follow the rules but instead make up new ones. HOWEVER, I think that most GMs would know exactly how to run this creature. The stat block IS usable for running the "ripper," as long as you don't worry too much about how that stat block got there.

As a creative exercise, this is a win.

As an exercise in following the rules and delivering specifically what is asked, this is a failure.

Both of those are important qualities for a future freelancer to have. Which is more important? They BOTH are important. The trick for voting will be how people measure them. Do people vote because they think you're a creative genius even though your entry doesn't exactly follow the rules, like Samuel Kisko's Migrus Locker from the first Superstar. We will see.

The Exchange

Cody Coffelt wrote:
I don't usually respond to other peoples, but I think you've found one of the few situations someone could have used the dreamer archtype from last round.

That was my exact thoughts when reading the background, I was suprised when her stats/class was not a summoner.

Got my vote. I like the idea of a Jack the Ripper-type who is actually a conjuration of a comatose trauma victim.

So you missed on some of the technical aspects - to me, creativity >>> technical execution. I'd like to see what you do in the future, so you got one of the six votes I cast.

Shadow Lodge


Shadow Lodge Marathon Voter Season 6

This seems really strange because in essence so many rules were broken and so many things required for the brief were not (and could not be) forced into the "disgustingly limited" 600 words. In terms of auto-fails for this round, you've more than likely dinged most of them.


There is enough in your incredibly imaginative description to get me thinking; to grab you 600 words and spin it out to the length it's scope demands and work out how to use it in my campaign. The villain who is not really a villain but acts like one all the same is a neat twist. Essentially, this submission resonated more than any other so far for me.

Unless I get four strong entries to vote for (which at this stage working through the list alphabetically I have not got), I am definitely going to give this a "wildcard" vote simply for the awesomeness of the idea as well as for the strength of previous submissions.

Best of luck - I think you will struggle based on the judges comments but I hope you scrape through all the same.

Best Regards
Herremann the Wise

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 9

This one is full of holes, but nothing a 25+ year veteran DM couldn't patch up with little effort. It's also a pretty cool concept.

vote given. good luck.

Two improvements and this would be all set:

1. Explain how she remains in a comatose/suspended animation state.
2. Forget the archetypes, give her the Dreamspun sorcerer bloodline and let her mess with the heads of entire towns.

It would be GREAT to roleplay against her. Everyone in the town would have their memories changing. Their stories would change, and any kind of detect motive would show them to be genuine (if incorrectly so).

Unfortunately, as is, I don't think I can vote for this one, but it's close.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4 aka OamuTheMonk

Well, you get a vote for me. You may be the only one who saw any potential in my 'Ripper' concept, and I dig the execution here. Good Luck!

This is not a villain, it's an encounter, but it's an awesome encounter.

Sean K Reynolds wrote:

This is just weird enough that if someone submitted this as part of a manuscript, I'd probably just send it back to them and say, "you didn't do this quite right, fix it."

This. Even though nearly all the judges turned the entry down this shows me that it isn't deniable. Everyone who's read this wants it to work and it very nearly does. If the assailant had motivations, if its personality was more apparent or if it was aware of Tellasara and wanted her to remain asleep then it would be more interesting (or at least feel like a villain).

Mechanically I like what's going on here, but how is it being done? Is she cursed? Does she possess a template? Is she really a different subtype of elf who has some defensive dream self ability? Even though I often appreciate not having all the information story-wise, mechanics-wise I want every detail.

In the famous words of SKR, "you didn't do this quite right, fix it."

Oh wait, you can't. Crap. You got my vote anyways, though. I prefer to award the attempt since I know the final product, with a little more time, would be amazing.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Levis

This is so unorthodox, but really cool. I'm not sure it has my vote, but I like how creative it is. Mechanically, it doesn't work that great, and might be a nightmare to run as a GM, especially if you have a rules-lawyer in the group.

I need to think on it, but part of me really likes this.

Liberty's Edge Dedicated Voter Season 6

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber


Big, big fan of yours so far. I've enjoyed everything you've presented so far.

While I agree with the judges, that your presentation was severely lacking in this villain... your concept has inspired me.

I really give lots of points to things that inspire me.

Therefore, you got my vote. But tighten it up dude, you won't continue to get my vote if you can't tighten up the writing for your location.

Star Voter Season 8

I try really hard not to comment on the entries I don't vote on, since I don't want to be negative towards someone that made it much farther than me. However I am going to in this case.

Erik I want to vote for this one. You have style, ideas, and a feel to this villain that is lacking for other entries. However the mechanics of what you presented were so sloppy I simply cannot do so in good conscious. The 'princess' isn't a villain, isn't a threat, and doesn't provide a means of real conclusion.

The plot hook also suffers from being both too vague and too hard to see how it would naturally lead to the supposedly dead girl. It relies on storytelling and narration too much: Without some detective work the story of this villain wouldn't come out, and without that story the whole of it is much too random to really work. I don't see an easy way to really put clues in the way of the PCs without it looking like that is exactly what was being done.

Perhaps if a grave robber had broken into her vault and stolen the ring of sustenance leaving her on the verge of death, and the robber with a cursed ring that caused him to acted out her feverish memories then we would really have something that could have led together into a more complete set up or villain... but as it stands I don't see a villain here -- simply a nightmare poorly set up.

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

Wow. I see an entry that should be disqualified for not using an archetype, and a huge missed opoprtunity. As soon as I read it, I thought "soeone had the stones to use that bad dreamer archetype...and then you didn't.

This is a ballsy, exciting, creative villain concept. Now, normally, my idea fo a villain is a conscious, willful foil for the Good team and not a passive dreamer accidentally killing people, but the idea really speaks to me.

But, you didn't use an archetype, and you missed the chance to make a very flawed archetype shine. Imagine the usefulness of a different eidolon every night. The signs of the murder are different every time. GMs would have to do a little work, but they'd love it.

Writing is a little clunky and there aren't enough useful details. I just really think you swung for the fences and failed to connect. I don't thin I can vote for someone who completely skipped the archetype rule, but I sure wish you hadn't. It's maybe the most creative thing I have seen in this year's contest.

EDIT: going back, I see the ripper class added to the assailant. So maybe not a DQ, but it should have ben soo clear you'd have rocked this round with a nightmare eidolon murderer that changes shape and abilities ever night. Mmm.

Scarab Sages

I love the concept, but you make it very confusing. I'd like to use this as a side villian in my upcoming Carrion Crown Campaign, but I'd have to do a little bit of adjusting to carry it out fluidly.

Is she in a coma or what? If she is, then why did her father (who wasn't necessary) think she was murderered and bury her? Anyone knows not to bury a "corpse" that is still warm and never got stiff.

Also - what's going on with these dreams? There is a clear villian who started this whole mess by "murdering" her. Why was she murdered? Who murdered her? Where are these dreams coming from?

This is a great idea, but not what was asked for.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Luz

Erik, congratulations on making to round 3! I see this is quite the controversial baddy you've written up, a very interesting idea.

All of the comments made by others are quite correct. The mechanics behind your villain are full of holes, so there is no need to flog a dead horse here. But you went for it in spite of this and presented a concept that is way too good to pass up. Six hundred words is definately not enough to to cover your concept, but instead of playing it safe and going with another villain you went with your strongest idea. For that, I'll tip my hat and my vote to you. This villain has fantastic potential and I'd love to see it fully realized.

I only suggest that you really tighten up on your writing. Rounds 4 and 5 will not be so forgiving with grammar mistakes and/or unclear descriptions, so this is a must. That and keep a little more within the confines of the contest rules from here on. Best of luck!

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

It's certainly a unique approach to hack apart the template for a classed character to represent a unique new monster that expresses the entry's main concept.

Murdered - that means dead, I believe, but she's alive with 0 wisdom, in nightmare-haunted sleep, which at least conforms to the rules. I'm very confused about the physical state of Tellasara's body, which might become important in a scenario. Maybe she's Schrodinger's elf, creating a unique physical state that lets her do these unheard-of things.

I'm not at all convinced that a shadow conjuration of an elf with INT and WIS scores should be immune to mind-affecting effects, so I'll take that as part of her unique Feverish Mind ability.

It's a fascinating idea, the stat blocks look reasonable - even notably effective - for what they are, but now I have to decide whether this bears enough relation to the contest rules (or the Pathfinder rules) for me to want this writer working on an adventure Paizo might offer for sale.

I like the concept. I think this would make an interesting villian.

I think it should have stated more clearly about her mind living on while her body is dead. I also think it needs to clearly state what caused her condition.

Erik Freund wrote:

Tellasara, Princess in Repose

Description: Twenty years ago, Tellasara Morgethai was found mysteriously murdered on the streets of Riverspire. Her grieving father, unable let her go, interred her in a private crypt below the city.
Yet Tellasara still clings to life, suffering the hell of unremitting nightmares as her imagination plays out what the assault might have been like. Perhaps through a latent sorcerous talent, or perhaps through the fermenting of a poison on her assailant’s blade, in recent months Tellasara’s broken mind has somehow begun to project the dreams of her death into physical reality.
Motivations/Goals: At night, a nightmare-born assailant stalks Riverspire, searching for female companionship with which to act out an imagined past.
Schemes/Plots/Adventure Hooks: The party receives a worried message from an ally in Riverspire: several of her friends have been murdered recently, and now she herself is being followed at night....


You should know the drill by now, but in case you (somehow) missed it so far, Ask A RPGSupersuccubus is posting from the point of view of a (very advanced) CE aligned succubus:
Fairness means both the mortals falling off the plank into the lava at the same time, balance is something a succubus weighs herself on against a sack full of bloody archon feathers to check that she hasn’t been overindulging this month, and logic means that it’s never the succubus at fault – always the incompetent idiot of a second-rate hairdresser who is incapable of living up to a succubus’ expectations. Oh: And always remember it’s a succubus’ privilege to change her mind without any warning…

If a sister succubus seduces this villain or a key henchman and things take their course… Well is this villain likely to be good around a young alu-fiend?
Tellasara's asleep and apparently unaware of her surroundings and situation. The fragment of her nightmares which is projected into the Material world tends to break up and reform, and there's no indication that it retains memory of who or what it is. So in either case no.

Should a succubus tip off any organisations as to the identity, location, and/or activities of this person?
Only if the demon queen Lamashtu shows an unholy interest. At that point it might be advisable to tip someone off, so they can deal with Tellasara before the Demon Queen can use her as an incubator for something unpleasant. (Assuming she's not already doing so.)

How much money would I lend this person?
I'm uninterested in lending either Tellasara (who is unconcious) or the fleeting nightmare figment any money at this point in time. I don't see either as good prospects for repayment of loans. Although since I doubt either has much need for money at present this is mostly moot...
Nevertheless, you can guarantee that there's a devil out there - somewhere - at this very moment trying to work out if he 'loans' the nightmare figment a coin at extortionate interest rates whether he can then (legally) go after Tellasara and her family for repayment of that loan?

Other comments? (including fruitcake rating where appropriate)
There is no indication that Tellasara is consciously aware of what she's doing, or in any way motivated or driven to intentionally do 'bad' stuff to others. The situation is that she's asleep, she's dreaming about things, and that dreaming happens (unusually by Avistan standards) to be causing Unpleasant Things to happen to those in the same city. That doesn't seem terribly villainous on her part to me.
Fruitcake rating:
On the other hand, given that it's because her psyche has shattered that these things are (ostensibly) occurring, Tellasara clearly merits a high fruitcake rating. I rate her as the equivalent of the contents of a modest patisserie shop when it comes to insanity.

Rating on the Gulga-Bracht supersuccubus scale of villainy:
1 (as villainous as any normal man or woman)

Further Disclaimer:
Ask A RPGSupersuccubus (still with half an eye on Lord Orcus) would once again like to clarify that mortal voters should probably rely on more than just her own (impeccable) assessments in making up their minds on how to vote. Thank You.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka surfbored

Erik Freund wrote:
Tellasara, Princess in Repose

I like the "Princess in Repose" as it makes you immediately want to find out more. The portrait works for me too. +1

Erik Freund wrote:

Description: Twenty years ago, Tellasara Morgethai was found mysteriously murdered on the streets of Riverspire. Her grieving father, unable let her go, interred her in a private crypt below the city.

Yet Tellasara still clings to life, suffering the hell of unremitting nightmares as her imagination plays out what the assault might have been like. Perhaps through a latent sorcerous talent, or perhaps through the fermenting of a poison on her assailant’s blade, in recent months Tellasara’s broken mind has somehow begun to project the dreams of her death into physical reality.

I like the writing style of this description, but I'm not to fond of all the questions that remain for the GM. As a GM I want to know what is going on, not guess (e.g. "perhaps", "somehow").

Erik Freund wrote:

Motivations/Goals: At night, a nightmare-born assailant stalks Riverspire, searching for female companionship with which to act out an imagined past.

Spooky! But where's the motivation and goals? The description section holds more information on motivation than this area does, which seems like such a waste.

Erik Freund wrote:

Schemes/Plots/Adventure Hooks: The party receives a worried message from an ally in Riverspire: several of her friends have been murdered recently, and now she herself is being followed at night.

This is a reasonable hook, but only one. Options are key here because my PCs may not know anyone in Riverspire.

Erik Freund wrote:

Honestly, I'm not sure how to even rate this as it is so unusual. Don't get me wrong though, I love unusual, I'm just not sure how this plays out. My gut tells me you have something fun here, but my head wonders how much work it's going to be for me.

A creative, complex villain that has too many unanswered questions.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8 aka Benchak the Nightstalker

I think this is a really cool idea, but executed in a very awkward way.

I think you also caught some bad luck on the parallel development front, with Sean McGowan's villain being pretty similar and very well written.

Honestly, I think you've got some decent design chops, and I'd be interested in seeing what you do with your adventure proposal (which might earn you my vote anyway), but I can't vote for you on the merits of your entry this round. Sorry :(

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Standback


Best of luck with your villain entry! Here's my thoughts, written before I've read anybody else's.

Concept: You've got a very powerful premise here - a murdered girl, recreating her killer, night after night, in her feverish dreams. That's strong stuff.

Unfortunately, it's got some serious issues as well. A primary one is that, since it's Tellasara's subconscious, entirely outside her control, conjuring the killer up, I find it difficult to accept Tellasara herself as a villain - but that's the way your entry portrays her. That skews your entry into all sorts of weird directions. Consider: what's the climactic scene in this sequence? The heroes confront the villain and... she's pretty much dead. Where is this going?

Other concept issues:
- If she's still alive, in any sense, then healing her really shouldn't be a big deal. That kind of undermines the entire premise.
- I don't get the sense that Tellasara and her fate are central in current Riverspire awareness. Given that, I feel like you haven't provided us with sufficient links or clues from the Assailent back to Tellasara. I think that pulling this story off would require a lot more preparation work than the entry implies (and more than you yourself intended).

Plot Hooks: Very meager, I'm afraid - you've definitely got enough to bring the PCs on scene, but I'm not convinced the plot will flow very far from that point (as mentione above). What's more, you only suggest one likely direction to make this villain interesting; that's a shame, because more varied plot hooks can really demonstrate how brightly a villain concept shines.

Mechanics: Two stat blocks must have cost you. Most of the stats here are for a generic ripper nightmare; I'm not going to delve into them and I have little to add. I'm not sure why the CR is blank (is that a typo? or is this something special I'm unware of with shadow-creatures? it looks very, very off [[edit: it was the shadow-creatures option]]). I was also thrown off initially by "any equipment interred with Tellasara," which sounded like it was up to the GM and hence something of a cheap trick on your part, until I saw that you'd listd gear for the princess - the phrasing made it sound like it wasn't referring to any specific list.

Use of Archetype: We run up against the "who's the villain" issue again here, with the nightmare Assailant getting the archetype rather than the supposed villain. I have to say that makes me deeply uncomfortable with this entry - I feel like it's skirting very close to breaking the rules. It's also simply not giving me what the contest challenge promises: a fleshed-out NPC of a certain archetype.

That said, the Assailant certainly fits the ripper archetype very well; this is well-established in the description and is central to the core concept.

Use of Portrait: You tackled a very difficult portrait. I can see why I might have picked it in your place - that is a cool picture to try to twist into a villain. It fits your princess well.

All in all, I think you latched onto a great concept and let it drag you adrift. It dragged you into two very, very dangerous territories - a double stat block, and a villain who is not the actual villain. It also didn't leave you room to make up for those elsewhere in the entry. And sadly, the one element you kept that is extraordinarily powerful - your base concept itself - is being overshadowed by Sean's Lady Rosaline, who took a very, very similar idea, but dealt with its difficulties much more adroitly.

The "villain who is not a villain" issue has come up in several contest entries before; I'd be very interested to hear if you consider Tellasara to sidestep this issue - or to be able to - as that would give me a lot of insight into the dramatic manner you expect her to be used in-game.

Wishing you lots of luck! :)

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

With only 3 hours left to go in the voting, if there's some last-minute holdouts, or people wondering where to put their last couple votes: please consider voting for Tellasara and her nightmares. I'm just below the cusp on the exit polling, and you could be the one to push her over the top!

I'd love to show you guys what I've got cooking for rounds 4 and 5, but you only get to see it if enough of you vote for me. (And trust me, I'll be incorporating your feedback in spades.) And really, aren't you the least bit curious to see what will come from that?

I really appreciate everyone's feedback so far. This has been an amazing contest. I especially thank those that have been following me round-to-round. You above all I aim to not disappoint.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

Thank you everyone for your comments! And especially those that stood up to defend me. It was such a draft of encouragement anytime someone would try to argue on my behalf.


I went into this with both eyes wide open that I was taking a huge risk and flirting with the edges of the rules. I wanted to be bold. I figured that I needed to wind back the bat and swing for the fences.

The previous round, archetypes, had a lot of voters claiming they were bored and unimpressed with how cautious people were being. My thought is that anyone who "played it safe" in round 3 would get eaten alive, and that the only survival strategy was to go "way out there" - well, I think I went a bit too far for most people's tastes.

I think the biggest mistake I made is that I wasn't writing for Pathfinder. The way this entry was written (intentionally leaving origins vague, providing a no-moral-way-out solution, GMing the GM, having black fade to grey, primarily defeating the challenge through skill rather than combat, etc) was essentially a World of Darkness villian. I feel like if I was in a White Wolf publishing contest, I would have done far better. However, this is not White Wolf, this is Paizo, and here the community is much more interested in hard facts, specific details, and "readily usable" material. I went for "GM's toolbox" approach, but I needed to go "fully constructed scenario" with this crowd. And I've learned that lesson acutely. I need to respect the turf I'm on and the domain that I'm in.

Now, above and beyond cultural differences, there are certainly mistakes I made here. I thought it would be obvious that Tellasara was fundamentally alive (ie not undead, or in some other strange state) and that having a Constitution score made that clear. However, apparently it was not, and that's great feedback for me. (And makes me feel a bit foolish in retrospect.)

I'm a little sad no-one actually did a deep-dive into my stat block. Despite the weird extra rules I made for how he worked, fundamentally the Assailant was built as a by-the-book elven rogue. I was very careful in selecting all of his stats (did anyone notice his mental stats were identical to Tellasara's?), making sure his skills properly reflected what Tellasara would know plus what he needed to do, and that his feats and rogue talents gave him a nice breadth of ways to carry out interesting murders. I would have enjoyed having specific feedback on my mechanical choices, as I know I still have room to learn in that area, based on the feedback I got on the Moon Shaman.
I'll confess here that I discovered one typo after submitting: "fast getaway" is a rogue talent, yet is listed outside that bracket in with the rest of the SQ's.
I am glad that Neil caught my Ring of Sustinence and that Starglim caught the 0 Wisdom thing being by-the-book accurate.
Oh, and Neil: why'd you ding me for the "disbelieved AC"? If you read the Shadow Conjuration spell, it has a special (and annoying to calculate) AC for characters that pass their saves: why not precalc that info for the GM?

Some people have asked "how are the PCs supposed to defeat this thing?" and this is something I greatly struggled with whether-or-not to include. However, I decided that at the end of the day, I was not writing up a module or encounter, I was just writing up a villian, and didn't need to provide that information. Reading the feedback: I guess I was wrong. Very wrong. Lesson learned.

I have lots more thoughts of course, but this post is getting overlong. In a few hours, I'll learn whether my swing for the fences eeked it into the bleachers, or if this was a fly ball.

Thank you AGAIN to all who comment or post in my thread! Reading your entries was an incredible distraction this week :-)

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Erik Freund wrote:
Oh, and Neil: why'd you ding me for the "disbelieved AC"? If you read the Shadow Conjuration spell, it has a special (and annoying to calculate) AC for characters that pass their saves: why not precalc that info for the GM?

I totally got what you were trying for, Erik. The only issue I had was that there's no precedent for including "disbelieved AC" values in a stat-block along with the rest of the normal AC values. Some might have seen that as innovative. To me, it just came off as misplaced. For instance, I think you could have described the reduced AC value in the Tactics section of the villain (e.g., maybe under Morale?)...or even the descriptive text of an actual encounter, which wasn't part of this round's requirements, so that would actually mean not including it for this write-up would have been more appropriate. In my opinion. I certainly wouldn't have dinged you for it if you hadn't mentioned anything about a "disbelieved AC."

But that's just my two cents,

Ask A RPGSupersuccubus is posting from the point of view of a CE aligned (very advanced) succubus; the clarifications of the Abyssal meanings of ‘sorry’ and ‘commiserations’ which she made in the previous round don’t bear repeating here, but the Abyssal definition for ‘sympathy’ has some mileage for repetition, so (once more) in the language of the Abyss ‘sympathy’ is military jargon for a popular model of half a mile high siege-tower with spiked wheels, ballistae and fireball hurling catapults. (By way of explanation for the latter it’s a demonic joke: ‘See, we have sympathy for your situation’.)

Obligatory End of Round 3 Results Post:

Congratulations on making it to the top 16. Obviously you didn’t get any further otherwise I wouldn’t be making this post. Still: you can now focus on plotting your triumphant return for a future year (if you feel so inclined), have that nervous breakdown which recent events may have made seem *much* more attractive, and/or get on with any other important stuff you’ve been letting go for the past few weeks – E.G. vaporising minions for not scrubbing the scullery floor properly, paying your dressmaker’s bills (important not to let craftsmen skilled with phase-spider silk go out of business) and house-training that paladin of Iomedae you captured a couple of months ago…
And of course there’s still a statistical chance that your villain, even though she failed to see you (personally) through this round, may show up again in this contest…

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