Round 3: Create a Bestiary entry

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 8

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As dark as the shadows it clings to, this spindly, sharp-clawed creature waits patiently for its prey. The air around it laden with despair, its forked tongue flickers, ready to envelop its victim and steal their very hope and joy.
Laru CR 7
XP 3,200
NE Medium fey
Init +10; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +16
Aura despair (30 ft., DC 17)
----- Defense -----
AC 20, touch 16, flat-footed 14 (+6 Dex, +4 natural)
hp 78 (12d6+36)
Fort +7, Ref +14, Will +9
Defensive Abilities negative energy affinity; DR 10/cold iron
Weaknesses light sensitivity
----- Offense -----
Speed 40 ft., climb 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +12 (1d6+4), tongue +10 (1d8+2 plus grab)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft. (10 ft. with tongue)
Special Attacks constrict (tongue, 1d8 Cha drain), strangle
----- Statistics -----
Str 18, Dex 23, Con 17, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 4
Base Atk +6; CMB +10 (+14 grapple); CMD 26
Feats Acrobatic Steps, Combat Reflexes, Improved Initiative, Multiattack, Nimble Moves, Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +21, Climb +27 Escape Artist +21, Knowledge (nature) +16, Perception +16, Sense Motive +16, Stealth +21 (+25 in dim light); Racial Modifiers +4 Stealth in dim light
Languages Aklo, Common, Sylvan
----- Ecology -----
Environment any
Organization solitary
Treasure standard
----- Special Abilities -----
Aura of Despair (Su) This ability continually duplicates the effect of the spell crushing despair, except it affects a 30 ft. radius centered on the Laru. The save DC is Wisdom-based.
Charisma Drain (Su) The Laru’s constriction ability inflicts 1d8 points of Charisma drain each round it is maintained. Each time a creature is drained by this attack, the Laru gains 5 temporary hit points. Any creature drained to Charisma 0 by this attack falls into a coma and cannot recover lost Charisma by anything other than magical means.
Strangle (Ex) A creature that is grappled by a Laru cannot speak or cast spells with verbal components.

Legends say that the Laru were once creatures of life and love. Inquisitive fey, they were fascinated by the overlapping of the First World and Shadow Plane. They explored further and stayed longer in the deepest parts of that dark domain and returned tainted with negative energy. The Laru are now pitiful beings. They long for the feeling of joy in their hearts and resort to stealing the emotions of others to satisfy, however briefly, their craving for love.

Standing 7 feet tall but incredibly thin with dark grey skin, the Laru is often mistaken for an undead horror. The tainted creature drains all positive emotions from its surroundings, creating a feeling of hopelessness and despair in all who come near it. This is often the only clue one receives before an attack, for the Laru is a creature of the shadows.

The Laru prefers solitary prey. It stalks for days those individuals that show great emotion or creativity, patiently waiting for a moment when they are alone. Its strangling tongue prevents its target from crying out as it leeches all joy and hope from the stricken creature. As the victim slips into a coma, the Laru fleetingly experiences what it is to be happy once more.

Laru prowl mortal and fey communities, seeking signs of laughter and delight. They are drawn to great festivals and celebrations where joy and happiness are easy to find. Every time they feed, a Laru is reminded of what it has lost and it longs for more. Once a Laru has struck in a community it is never long before a second victim is found.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Hey, Daniel...welcome to Round 3. This carousel doesn't end until you either fall out of the competition or win the whole thing. You've been chugging along and making your way through the competition as best you can so far. Let's see what you've given us this time around.

Wall of Text:


First off, going into monster design, a freelance designer has to recognize certain basic elements of the game...the give-and-take of all the variables upon which it's mechanically founded. The most important defining characteristic (which has a trickle down effect) in monster design is its Challenge Rating (CR). The rules for Round 3 already told you what that would be...i.e., CR 7. Thus, the "test" for this round isn't just determining if you can cook up a really great idea for a monster. It's also to see how well you can interpret what a CR 7 monster is meant to have, mechanically-speaking, that distinguishes it from a CR 6 or a CR 8 monster.

So, what are the trickle down effects you need to know for a CR 7 creature? In general, its AC should be around 20. Its hit points should be around 85. Its best saving throws should be around +10 and its weaker saving throws should still be around +6. The damage curve potential for a combat-focused CR 7 monster should be around a +13 attack inflicting an average of 22-30 points of damage per round if all its attacks manage to hit an opponent. Even a less combat-focused CR 7 monster should still have around a +10 attack and the DCs for any special abilities or SLAs should be a DC 17 for a primary power and a DC 12 for a lesser power. There's still wiggle room within these numbers, but typically, if you make one of those things higher or lower, you want to offset it with a variation in one of the other statistics above.

Additionally, monsters should be built around the non-standard array for their ability scores (i.e., 11, 11, 11, 10, 10, 10) before applying racial adjustments. These adjustments should always come in even-numbered increments (i.e., +2, +4, +6, etc.). That means for a basic monster design, you should end up with three odd-numbered ability score values and three even-numbered ability score values.

Okay. With all that serving as your baseline, let's see where you've taken us...

Creativity Factor:
It's no secret that I really like fey creatures. I've always thought they were a bit underserved in the game and I specifically targeted that genre for my own run through RPG Superstar in 2009. So, I like that you're exploring the same thing while also giving us an all new monster. This doesn't just draw on the easier myths (such as the sidhe used in a couple of other submissions this round). You've charted your own course here and explored something new, yet still appropriate to the fey genre. And I appreciate that.

It's a really cool shadow fey that feeds on positive emotions to fill the void left by their negative energy taint. And the despair aura gives it a nice vibe right from the start.

I like the strangling tongue and constrict attack to silence its victims and slay them with Cha damage.

It might have been cool to add Shadowtongue to its languages.

I would have liked to see you include a couple of SLAs retained from its heritage as a fey. Not necessarily anything with an offensive attack, but just some utilitarian or mischief-making effects might have been nice.

Mechanical Considerations:
Just because I'm OCD, I did a very quick number crunching of your design using the spreadsheet Paizo provides us as freelancers. I thought it was important to do that just to give some kind of assessment on your technical skills. I'm happy to say that you really did well here. Maybe the best of the whole round. That said, I did have one mechanical concern:

- I'd prefer to see the Cha drain busted down to ability damage, instead. I think 1d8 drain goes a little too far for a CR 7 creature's constrict attack. Charisma has always been the dump stat for any number of PCs, because people tend to roleplay their character's personality and etiquette however they want and ignore the actual number. Meanwhile, it helps them pump up a stat with a greater mechanical bearing on their character's survival. Most of these types of characters would be in dire straits against the laru. So, I'd favor not only reducing its Cha drain to Cha damage...I'd also favor reducing the die code at least a step to 1d6. Maybe even 1d4+1 or something.

Solid here as far as I could tell. Very well done. Best presentation and use of the provided template of any competitor I've reviewed so far.

Bottom Line:
I didn't want to be persuaded to like this fey creature just because of any predisposition I might have towards the genre. That said, you won me over regardless. The core concept works. It's very in keeping with the kind of malevolence the old fey myths could bring to the table. I understood what you were going for...and I think you wrote it up very well. Additionally, the use of the template and most of your mechanical considerations were as tight as any professional freelancer could make them. You still need to work a bit on the game-balance of your designs (i.e., the Cha drain went too far). But, you've still got the rest of the competition to work on those things, provided the voters see you through this round.

Given all that, I'm going to say I DO RECOMMEND this monster to carry you through to the next round. It'll be interesting to see how many of the other judges agree or disagree...and how the voting public reacts to your concept. But, in terms of creativity, professional polish, and overall readiness, you've got above average marks in all those things. I think I'd like to see what kind of encounter you'd build for us.

Additionally, looking back across your earlier work, I thought your elixir of resurgent flame was absolutely inspired. It was the perfect approach of smart design coupled with innovation in order to stand out among literally hundreds of entries to convince us to give you a shot. And then, you gave us your organization for the Anointed Choir of the Rapture, which won me over on concept...and the voters, as well. Now, we get the laru, an especially frightening fey with a very tight, professional design. You're putting forth some solid work in your ideas. It'll be interesting to see what comes next. Best of luck in the voting.

It's a grey biped that lurks in shadows and makes you feel crappy, and will wrap its tongue around you and drain you of charisma if it can.

How do I restore charisma "magically"? Are my friends expected to carry my unconscious body around with them until they get my charisma restored? Will I die from thirst if they don't get it done in 3 days? Why not use Break Enchantment? (Or Dispel Magic or Remove Curse) What happens if someone casts Eagle's Splendor on the target? Do they wake up for the duration of the spell and then lapse back into unconsciousness?

How does this creature work in an encounter? As written it seems like it would be a solitary adversary. But for a CR7 threat it doesn't strike me as being tough enough to slow down an appropriately built party of adventurers. It's an ambush predator so you won't use this as an encounter in a dungeon or wilderness; basically the only use is attacking a member of the party while they're asleep in an inn. In that case it becomes a very binary experience: If the Laru gets to its target without being seen it will almost certainly take that target down. Will it stop with rendering that target unconscious or will it kill the target too? If detected and the alarm raised the Laru is in a bad spot and is likely to die unless it can get the heck out of wherever it finds itself very quickly.

Where does the name come from? Google gives me no clue.

It is described as being dark as shadows in the lead, but grey in the description. Which is it?

A 10 ft reach for the tongue attack means it can probably get to any target in a regular bedroom or inn room if it can get to a window or doorway. That's a huge bonus for this thing. A reach attack for a creature that is more likely to be encountered by a group with a lot of room to maneuver is different than a reach attack for something that will try to strike a defenseless target from a hidden position.

Frankly this monster strikes me much more like a plot device than an opponent of the PCs. And as a plot device except for its unusual Charisma drain I think we've seen it all before - "sneaky fey with shadowy powers that does scary things in the dark".

What is missing:

Shadow powers. Rogue abilities. A built-in escape system.

Overall I give this submission a C - it works, it holds together mechanically but its not very SuperStar.

I do not recommend that you vote for this designer.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Daniel, good job advancing to Round 3!

What I am looking for:I’m a big picture guy more than a minute details guy. I don’t think just seeing if you crunched out the rules properly is the right way to judge a good entry for this round. Of course you need to execute the stat block properly. Luckily, Sean, Neil and others are way more qualified than I am to talk about the nit picks and issues with the stat block so I will leave that to them. My comments to you will be more “big picture.” For me, I want to see a monster that is fun and playable—a monster that leaps of the page and makes me find a way to incorporate it at the game table. That, to me, is a superstar monster. So here we go…

Initial Impression: Gothy fey with a nasty French kiss. Let’s look closer...

The Concept (name, overall design choices, design niche, playability/usability, challenge): B
The role of a creature you choose to design has consequences. The "sneak up on you" or the "attack the person on watch" aka "ambush" monster has a real limited play value. It really only encounters the party when they are resting. Not the best superstar choice. These would have been cooler as fey hound creatures that other evil intelligent creatures used as pets or as shock troops to weaken encamped foes before they attack. So I’m dinging you there as a result of your choice. I like the core despair theme you found here, but I don’t like the name.

Execution (quality of writing, organization, Golarion-specific, use of proper format, quality of content—description, summary of powers, rules execution, mechanics innovation): A
I’ll give you this, I like how you write. But this isn’t a story telling round, it’s a monster creation round. I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t mention your excellent writing, however. Plus, I also have to say that though I don’t have the highest rules-fu it sure looks like this is world class quality on its technical execution. We spend so much time saying how the magic Paizo spreadsheet would help people avoid errors I think it deserves mention when you pretty much nailed it without that. Now that is some superstar execution. I like the crushing despair ability. I just wished these things were designed to work in concert with something else instead of being solitary hunters. Can't you see some surface drow raids having these things under their command? That would be cool.

Tilt (did it grab me, do I want to use one in an adventure?, mojo, just plain fun factor): B+
Though their playability has some limitations, I really want to find a way to use them and that says something.

Overall: B+
The strange undead-style fey of despair makes the grade.

The real question, though, is: If an Anzu and a Laru mated, would it make a Lanzu or an Anru? All I know is they would both be bummed from all the touching and likely their love child would be clinically depressed. I should note, often times in Superstar when two or more contestants submit items or creatures that overlap in the niche they fill to some degree it is hard not to compare them, to the detriment of the one that is determined to be the lesser of the two. I found the Laru superior to the Anzu. I also find it strange how similar both the concepts are and the names. Strange.

Recommendation: I DO RECOMMEND voters consider this monster to advance to the Top 8.

Plus, I like your writing so much I really want to see what you can do when you get a true writing task, such as the one for next round. I hope you get that chance.

Your elixer and the Hot Succubii Choir Girls of Death, as I have called them, were really good. Though I think you made a few missteps here, I have to note both your technical excellence and your awesome writing. I really hope the voters advance you so we can see you stretch out next round.

Good luck!


Welcome to Round 3! I'm posting this little blurb at the top of my reply for everyone. FYI, I'm not going to crunch all the math in your stat block, for several reasons. One, I don't have an hour for each monster. :) Two, I'm sure you've been very diligent about this and if anything is wrong, it's probably only off by a little bit. Three, if you were writing this for publication in a Paizo book, you'd be using our stat block spreadsheet, which takes care of the math for you--your job is to understand the rules and bring the mojo. Four, Neil's going to scrutinize that stuff because he is a machine. :) My focus in this review is on the overall coolness and balance of your monster, with an eye on how efficiently you put it together and a spot-check of stat block elements that catch my eye.

The italicized description text sounds more like a story description of a monster than an encounter description of a monster. It also doesn't really tell me what this looks like--a "spindly, sharp-clawed creature" could be humanoid, a lizard, or a bug for all I know.

Its Environment is listed as "any." Lemme tell you a story about that. Back at TSR, Ravenloft designer William W. Connors pointed out that the Monstrous Manual listed the iron golem and the death knight as "Environment: any." That meant you could cast fly, go straight up, and you'd have a chance to encounter Lord Soth with an iron golem under each arm, rocketing through the sky a mile above the ground. The moral of the story is, "Don't say its environment is 'any' unless you mean it can be encountered on the land, in the air, and at the bottom of the ocean."

Under Charisma drain, the reference to a coma and magical recovery isn't needed--that's built into having your Cha reduced to 0 and the rules for ability drain attacks.

Your stat block is fine. The amount of the Charisma drain is probably a little too much, especially as Charisma isn't an important stat for most PCs and two above-average rolls can knock out such a PC.

The theme is good. I think it could be improved by allowing for non-solitary encounters with these things, perhaps by an ability or just flavor text that they come together to share flickers of stolen emotions, so a pack of them doles out bits of happiness to stave off the bleakness in their souls.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 8

Thanks judges for your criticism.

Everybody else, I hope you like the Laru, please vote for me and I will answer any questions when voting closes.



I really like your monster, not going say much about your execution skills, it is obvious you are a superstar there and the judges agree as well...

not so sure about the Laru stats as i am not an expert there but ill say this is the kinda monster you would put in either a one-off horror adventure or a side-quests, something to give the players a bit of a mystery chase or time-out in a campaign...basically it is an easy monster for any GM to build a short plot around a small village in the middle of nowhere with a haunted inn perhaps...

you will get my vote this round too...why? i like how and what you write and i want to see your encounter...i am upping the ante here, Daniel, so dont dissappoint me if you get through the next round...

oh and a bit of cliche, if i had money, i would make a Hollywood movie called "The Laru", would be a great horror flick!!

Undead-like fey. I have seen it somewhere before... Like in Ravenloft or in Grimm fairy tales or in some myths. I like it.

The only problem I have with this that description is sooo vague that it is nearly nonexistent. Is it humanoid? Is it not? Does it have hair or something? (I am thinking of a spindly grey-skinned humanoid with emo hairdo of pale grey hairs and sad eyes, no make-up, however ;)

Star Voter Season 6

I like this creature, it's well balanced and memorable. However, the one thing I can say against the creature is nothing against your or the design in anyway. Simply I've seen a lot of fey-related submissions this year and across the 3 stages so far. I'm wondering about where all the Fey love came from? Personally, I've always been abused by Fey in game, so I'm not too fond of the creatures myself.

I like the feel of this creature and I loved the choir from last round. The one thing I really question here is the charisma drain. I understand the thought, that we are sucking away the sparkle and joy of life but it strikes me that it might work out pretty oddly in play.

Also, this makes me think 'uber-goth'. Which isn't bad, but it makes me smile.

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

I like fey, shadow creatures and ambush monsters, so I'm already half-sold coming into this entry from the start. And fortunately, the laru delivers on that promise. The mechanics are solid, which I really appreciate. All the "I"s are dotted and the "T"s crossed. The monster's signature abilities are tightly focused, being memorable without going over-the-top into excess.

As to Neil's concern about the Charisma drain, it is a powerful ability. But it needs to grapple in order to use it, which makes it more vulnerable to attack by other party members, which is not a place the laru wants to be. One CR up, the greater shadow is throwing around a like amount of Strength damage, which makes it harder to fight, and it's incorporeal to boot!

My one complaint is the descriptive text. Reading that description, I don't have a very good picture of the laru. Is it a humanoid? How many limbs does it have? The rest of the entry clears things up a little, but more detail to the appearance would be nice.

All in all, this is one of my favorite entries I have read so far, and you definitely have my vote. Good luck!

I have to say, I really enjoyed this creature! My first impression from the name alone was not a good one, however. Laru doesn't really imply any particular feeling in me. But I think that the monster's stat block is very tight and the story behind the creature is especially intriguing to me. I think I might highjack this for my Kingmaker game! I will most likely be voting for this entry.

Congratulations on a well-done creature!

The Exchange Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

In my head I can see a sorceress crying after this fight.

The dead fighter I have no problem with, but that poor sorceress. One maintained grapple and she might have only 0 lvls spells.

Scarab Sages Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7

Not perfect, but an enjoyable, creepy ambush encounter that might have some real tight RP impact on an evening it is used (I will try this out!)
You got my vote.

I'm a little over halfway through reading this rounds entries, and I think this is going on the "vote for" pile. I like the description but I'm not so sure about the the fact that it goes after solitary prey. That makes it a bit difficult to fit in to a game that revolves around parties.

You got my vote!

My criteria for deeming a monster voteworthy:

1. Can I drop this into my home campaign and still do something interesting with it outside of Golarion? Sure.

2. Does this monster inspire me to design an encounter just for the purpose of featuring it? Not really. I could see using it as a random encounter in a populated area where a celebration is occurring, though - maybe as a "screw you" moment while the PCs are celebrating their success in saving a small community from another evil.

Hmm... y' Carrion Crown players are still living it up in Ravengro. Might be time to shake them up a bit. >=]

3. Will my players think the monster's physical description is cool, or will they laugh it off of the table? It does sound neat.

Additional Thoughts: I'm picky about fey - I either instinctively love them or downright hate them. I hated these at first, but they are growing on me with a second read-through. But there are a lot of other entries this round that I like more. I'm on the fence for now.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

I'm on the fence about this. It's nice, but not super exciting. It's well balanced except for that pesky 1d8 cha drain. Hmm.

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

Daniel, this seems like a bit of a gotcha monster; not necessarily a bad thing but capable of sidelining a couple character types early on. Good luck in the final voting!

Here's what I like:
- solid ambush creature that's constructed to perform its function well.
- feats chosen fit a shadowy movement-based fey quite well.
- nicely thought-out details; light-sensitive, negative-energy affinity, etc.

Here's what I don't like:
- the thing about ability drain is that there's no way OTHER than magic to restore drained ability scores. You don't need to call this out specifically. Drain is a huge issue for mid-range characters since it takes a restoration spell (4th level) and 100gp in diamonds to fix this condition. So 1d8 drain per round is no trivial matter. Plus, this creature is going to get to you first. With a +10 initiative and a +25 stealth, this guy is not only going to catch you flat-footed (that's one grabbed sorcerer in the surprise round; 4-5 points drained, and again at the top of round 1; another 4-5 points drained.) but will also neutralize that sorcerer in round 1 before anyone knows what's going on. I think this ability drain ability needs some polish.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6 aka Evil Paul

The Laru gets my vote. I don't have a problem with an ambush monster. Granted you don't need as many of them in a Bestiary as you need straight up in your face monsters, but they still have a role.

The best thing about it is the background writing, as Clark says. I don't think that should be discounted. The end goal is writing a module after all, stats are good, but we want a good writer to win the contest.

This one has my vote! Creepy and dangerous! Good Work!

Daniel Rust wrote:
The air around it laden with despair, its forked tongue flickers, ready to envelop its victim and steal their very hope and joy.

As with one or two of the other entries, grammatical errors begin appearing in the first paragraph. This year, numerical agreement seems to be presenting a particularly difficult hurdle. A single victim is not a "them." Rather, the victim is a "he" or "she" (presumably, although an ooze victim might well be an "it").

Grammar aside, I very much like the no-saving-throw Charisma drain, in stacking amounts great enough to make people really regret dumping their PCs' Cha scores down to 5 and 6. This isn't just a monster -- it's a much-needed mechanical incentive for everyone (except the obvious spontanous casters and paladins) to stop treating Charisma as "that worthless social stat."

Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7

Meh, d8 charisma drain is excessive for level 7. That killed it for me. Also, doesn't the aura need text stating that creatures that make their save are immune to 24 hours? Also why does this have a climb speed?

Liberty's Edge

I like the concept of this one, but I don’t get a real good sense of its appearance, and I think the 1d8 charisma drain might be too tough for CR 7.

I do like these ‘dark fey’ type creatures (if done well), and I liked your round 2 entry, based on that you are on my short list for a vote.

Good luck Daniel.

Dark Archive

This reminds me more of the dementors from Harry Potter than the Anzu does. If it didn't really remind me of them, then this would probably be an auto-vote from me; however since no one else seems to have made the connection it's probably just me.

CR 7 is a bit too low for this monster; with an attack that potentially does 1d8 points of Charisma drain per round, survivors of this fight would require multiple castings of restoration (and more than likely greater restoration) to recover from, and at the level that most PCs would encounter this that is a tall order. If instead it was 1d6 points of Charisma damage per round (or something a little less dire than 1d8 drain, this is just the first recommendation of the top of my head) then I think you would have had a solid CR 7 monster.

I wasn't a fan of your organization or your item; however you may be getting a vote from me this round.

With regards to the monster, I love it, it's creepy and used by a good GM would make me crap my pants. But I'm biased, as the designer's my brother.

Biased or not I have to mention that:

Stuffy Grammarian wrote:
A single victim is not a "them." Rather, the victim is a "he" or "she" (presumably, although an ooze victim might well be an "it").

I hate to get drawn into the grammar but as an English teacher I feel obliged to say that Daniel's usage is exactly right, "their" is the possessive pronoun used in either the plural case or instead of "his" or "her" when the sex is not known.

Please see

or any grammar book for details.

Good luck Dan!

I love it! you have my vote :)

Star Voter Season 6

Michael J Rust wrote:

With regards to the monster, I love it, it's creepy and used by a good GM would make me crap my pants. But I'm biased, as the designer's my brother.

Biased or not I have to mention that:

Stuffy Grammarian wrote:
A single victim is not a "them." Rather, the victim is a "he" or "she" (presumably, although an ooze victim might well be an "it").

I hate to get drawn into the grammar but as an English teacher I feel obliged to say that Daniel's usage is exactly right, "their" is the possessive pronoun used in either the plural case or instead of "his" or "her" when the sex is not known.

Please see

or any grammar book for details.

Good luck Dan!

gramatical argument:

This reference disagrees
Your reference seems to be the only one that finds it acceptable that I can find, and the usage note for "them" still admits it is not univerally accepted. The next best I can find is is something that lables it as both controvertial and primarily spoken.

Paizo has an established convention in its style guide to use singular pronouns in such cases, alternating between masculine and feminine in different sections, often using the gender of someone on assoiciated with the text. Pronouns in the classes, for instance, use the gender of their respective iconics. Typically though, they try to reword things to avoid using a pronoun.

On topic:
Nothing about this monster comes at me as inspiring. The 10 ft tounge has been done before, and I don't particularly care for it. It has what amounts to a fear aura. And that is about it for its abilities. I just don't see the excitement.

The charisma drain for me is a huge miss-step. 1d8 is enough to bring down even your charisma-based characters and neuter them within 3 rounds for potentially days. 2 rounds can easily drop non-charisma based characters. All for a pretty generic ambush encounter.

Finally, the constrict wording seems vauge. It says they get constrict(1d8 charisma drain), but then clarifies that it only gets this when it maintains a grapple. Constrict happens whenever they have a successful grapple check. I can see this being a big arguement at the table on wether or not they get it first round.

Also isn't this monsters name Ural backwards although that could just be coincedence.

Michael J Rust wrote:

Please see
or any grammar book for details.

"Any grammar book" tells me that your (and Dan's) usage, while considered acceptable as a spoken colloquialism, is inappropriate for technical writing.

Hi Caineach and Stuffy Grammarian and all, points noted. I realise here is not the place so I won't defend my ( correct ;p ) position. I'm satisfied that both opinions have been expressed, and people can do their own research to find out if it's acceptable or not.

If anyone wants to continue the discussion over an ale, then I'll be crawling the inns of Whitethrone, Irrisen, and, as my oddly raw meat scented breath melts the the ice in your beard, I recommend you choose your opinions carefully...

Dedicated Voter Season 8

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Hello again, welcome in round 3 and congratulations on making it this far. I really liked you organization idea, and you did get a vote from me, so I'm excited to see if I'm getting something for my vote.

Now, round 3 is for monsters, so let’s have a look at the beastie:
I'll be trying for thorough this round, as those who make it on will have an increasing chance of writing a supplement, which I'll likely have an interest in buying. Therefore both to help me and help you, I'll do my best and fiercest to give constructive critique here.
1) Rules (I want to be reassured that you have your attention to detail and sharpness for rules along here, especially since the organization round tested little on this spot): Yes,it looks beautiful It seems I have strange group of PCs. Very few of them dumps Charisma, unless they have a specific wish to play decidedly UN-Charismatic. The only exception is my one player who hates social encounters. And he likes when I (very, very rarely, as I don't like it) kill off or significantly hurt my PCs. So while I agree that this the ability DRAIN is too much... I'm tempted not to reduce it too much. I do want it to be damage. Drain is too mean at CR 7. And 1d8 is unusually high. That said, I'd probably make it 1d4+something or 1d6. And make all those sorcerers and oracles and other 25+ charisma characters I'm pestered by recently HURT. In fact, I'm stealing it for that express purpose in my kingmaker campaign (not like it won't fit), right here, right now... Success! I'm only commenting on the rules elements, and I already want to steal this thing.
Rating: 4/5 - The unreasonable Cha-drain looses you the full 5. Sorry. I have to be mean. I'm too fond of this thing.

2) Innovation (I want to (again) see promises of an adventure I couldn’t just think up myself, I want to see great and new thoughts, thoughts that seize my attention and holds it): Hmm, hmm. Well, evil fey are plentiful, but positive emotion draining fey isn't around yet, I think. Anyway, your handling is beautiful, so I'm ready to forget that the idea may not be the newest around. The "kiss" ability is novel enough to make up for it.
Rating: 4/5 - I'll have to be mean, and say the evil-emotion-draining fey may not be the newset idea in the universe. That said, my fingers want to change this to a 5 for the good handling of the concept.

3) Creativity (Alike innovation, I want something that isn’t just new, it’s the good kind of new, and awesome at that): Yes, yes, yes. Do I need to say more? This sticks together beautifully, and while it's mean to low or heavy-use Charisma characters, it's not useless against everything else. Gorgeous. It ties together perfectly, and I love your writing (see below). I'm tying an advanced template to this, or class levels or something, just to make them mean enough for keeping around at higher levels. The shadow/undead flavor added to fey WORKS. I've been wanting something like this for a while. Thank you for writing it up for me. The only thing I'm missing is looks, and I know just hów I want these to look, so that's not an issue to me.
Rating 5/5 - I surrender. This does not allow for me to be critical in the area of creative. It is just very, very neat. Shadowy, gothy, undead-ish fey. Love it.

4) Writing (I’m a nitpicker for good writing, and I want to see it. This isn’t the most writing intensive round, but that just means I’ll be looking for wasted words, that I really get nothing from, and checking the bits that are ever more carefully): You have something. your writing takes simple and beautiful and makes it come alive to me. I don't really need to see these to know how they're wrapped in shadows, twisted, near-human, yet not... I like this, a lot. Okay, a teensy critique, I have no clue why their name can't sound a little more sinister. I want a slightly more sinister name for my evil goth fey.
Rating: 5/5 - It's just beautiful. I don't even want to check for bad grammar. I just enjoy reading it. And nothing springs in my eye. The grammar monster is ever so happily sleeping.

5) Golarion (Most monsters can be fitted into my campaigns, but as I mostly run Golarion, I have a keen interest in monster fitting seamlessly with the rest of the world, without expansive details for why they do so): Oh yes, they fit right in, First World and all. Not one word spent, and I'm already assigning a large group of them to at least one of the Eldest of the First World, and wondering if I can't scatter them loosely through-out Ustalav and Nidal, to keep the atmosphere down. Maybe not enough for them to do there.
Rating: 4/5 - There's nothing technically Golarion in them. Of course, the Bestiaries aren't strictly Golarion. I can use this anywhere. It fits seemlessly with Golarion though. I'd have loved a miniature First World reference, but I'm not too touchy about it.

6) CR appropriate (I don’t want a monster pretending to be CR 7, when it’s just not fitting for what my players can reasonably handle at any level near 7, or opposite, won’t represent a challenge even to a level 5 group): Perfect. Only issue must be the charisma drain.
Rating: 4/5 - I'll steal another point for Charisma-draining and go back to plotting how to insert this in as many campaigns as I can. You know, my players won't like you. Most of my campaigns are above level 5, and advancing these things to CR 11 or so is tempting beyond measure.

7) Previous work (I’m not just looking for monsters, I’m also looking back at the former rounds, especially since they may well be tie-breakers for my votes, but also because one single round doesn’t show all anyone has to bring): Okay, here's one thing about you. You seem to be improving in this contest. Your item was interesting to me, and I wanted to like it, but I wasn't won entirely over. Your organization had flavor, much stronger flavor than your item. Your monster avoids the just a little too incredible of your organization. You seem to be keeping your strengths and improving on them every round. Very well done.
Rating - 5/5 - Okay there's been teensy issues with your earlier things, but you're doing a lot to remove my worry. I see both improvement and greatness in all your submissions. i think you are sneaking very solidly into my personal top 4.

8) Promise for Adventure (I want to, as a potential buyer, contemplate how likely I am to buy an adventure written by you – based on your previous RPG Superstar work, your monster and my impression on how well you’ll do with an adventure): Why yes, I want you to write an adventure. I get to enjoy your fine, evocative writing, and your ideas are both delightful and diverse.
Rating: 5/5 - Honestly, last round I might have wanted you in top 4, this round, I'm sure I want it. Please, write more things that fill exactly the space in the game I've been wanting filled, please.

9) Personal Rating (Sometimes, at the end of it all, there’s things I just like, even if there’s other things that might be better for multiple reasons – now I don’t want to tell you I don’t like something, but I do want to, positively, say that I like a particular piece of work a lot): You're not fair. You use fey, goth, darkness, shadow plane and you tie it all together very beautifully. This isn't even fair to my chance of not liking this monster. It's too hard to even try to be critical. I want to like this.
Rating: 5/5 - If you'd written awfully and had horrible mechanics, I'd have congratulated you on your fine idea, and choice of subject. You don't so now I need to fight to be critical. Okay, maybe I agree a little with Ryan. I want more shadow powers and roguishness. I'm making a rogue or ninja or something of one of these...

10) Overall (This is where I try to give my opinion on what to improve on, how I feel about your submission in general, and finally, the thing you really want to hear, if you’re getting a vote or not): Vote given. Nothing could possibly change my mind here. This may well be among this rounds very strongest submissions.
Ratings: 5/5 - There's flaws, but they just seem to be washed away by sheer Superstar writing, concept and perfection. Of the things I've looked at so far, this monster effortlessly win the day. Congratulations on the vote. I'll go and make sure it's in, just in case.

Congratulations on top 16, good luck on your road to top 8!

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Darkjoy

This monster is pretty cool, pretty sure you'll get my vote.

Dedicated Voter Season 8

I agree with Raza- the versatility you've consistently brought with every entry is impressive and leaves the GM with a wide range of options. Of all the entries, this is by far my favorite.

I'm a much bigger fan of giving GM's general guide lines and the tools to do things on their own, with a lot of room to adapt, than I am the very story/plot/situation-driven monsters many others have presented. This could be a plot driving element, or it could be just something that the party hears about when they stop in a random village one night, and they might decide to do something or they might not, either having a possible plot impact.

The creature itself is unique and, as many have pointed out, lends a creepy aspect to the game that's not normally present. It also explains why all the villages in old horror movies are ugly- this thing drained their charisma.

On that note, Kirth brings up a really good point- too often in Pathfinder/D&D is charisma treated as a dump stat by most classes. The importance of charisma is directly linked to good role-playing- if you lose charisma, you're losing your looks, your social skills, your patience, and to some degree your will power/presence. The added rping after the fight when the once charming rogue is now at a severe penalty makes this worth voting for by itself!

As for the grammar debate on the use of "them" instead of "he/she," well, if that's the worst thing people can say about this entry, than let's all just vote for it.

As a monster designer, I look forward to this phase of the contest lets see..
Nice work, solid creature, and useful. Always good to see more fay.
The statblock was solid, which is a happy thing. The only thing I was really missing was a solid description. Always give a passing thought to the artist that has to try to bring your critter to life. A bit of tightening up of the ways to heal the CHA drain would have been good too; I assume any of the "normal" ways of healing ability damage/drain would work. I would use this as a hard encounter against lower level characters, or make a group to challenge a larger party. One note..its low Charisma makes story sense, but makes it glass jawed if the players have any Charisma-draining abilities of their own.
In the end..I enjoyed this creature, and it could easily see use in my home game! I have not decided on my votes yet, but this is high on the list.

Blackerose wrote:

1. Always good to see more fay.

2. A bit of tightening up of the ways to heal the CHA drain would have been good too; I assume any of the "normal" ways of healing ability damage/drain would work.
3. makes it glass jawed if the players have any Charisma-draining abilities of their own.

1. Fey, not "fay."

2. Ability drain. The rules are standard -- precisely so that there is no need to rehash them in each monster entry. Ability drain not healed by resting, etc. -- unlike ability damage.
3. Such as? I can't for the life of me think of any PC abilities available in the core rules that allow Cha drain.

As advice to an aspiring professional, I'd suggest that as a self-proclaimed monster designer, your knowledge of the rules governing them might be due for a refresher... no offense intended, only an observation.

I generally don't go over casual conversation posts with a fine toothed comb. I also note one of the judges mentioned the same thing about the Ability Drain healing..I assume you plan to mention this to him as well?
I don't claim to know ever spell out there..just pointing out that 4 in any ability score makes a creature or player open to a one shot. Even if there are no specific player spells/abilities that drain Cha, I am sure summoning/charms/etc could generate a pet that does so.
As far as self proclaimed..I let my body of work speak for itself. I didn't know the comments were judged as well...

Star Voter Season 6

Kirth Gersen wrote:

3. Such as? I can't for the life of me think of any PC abilities available in the core rules that allow Cha drain.

There is at least 1 poison (1 drain, 1d2 damage a round after, costs 1000gp) ANything else that I can think of has a limit of dropping it to 1.

Caineach wrote:
There is at least 1 poison (1 drain, 1d2 damage a round after, costs 1000gp) ANything else that I can think of has a limit of dropping it to 1.

Thanks, Cain! It would take a few doses, but given that most fey have notoriously low Fort saves, that might do the trick.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8 aka John Benbo

I voted for this. The theme and the abilities are very tightly woven together. It's not bogged down with a lot of spell-like abilities which keeps it simple and easy to run. I love that it deals Charisma damage. It makes sense and it usually is a player's lowest score. That puts a bit more fear into them. I'm definitely thinking of including this in my Kingmaker campaign along with Will's Sidhe Lord. While I didn't understand your wondrous item, I thought the idea and writing behind it were well executed and your organization got a vote from me for it's creative idea.

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

Note: I'm only giving a full review to finalists that requested one in the Top 32 Guildhall.

While the laru doesn't particularly excite me, I can see how it could be used in a horror/mystery campaign, and can appreciate how well it is designed to fit that niche. Thus, I'm giving this monster the Epic Meepo Seal of Approval.

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

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I think most new fey are reaches conceptually. We want to explore a theme that hasn't even made good use of the normal fey offerings, so in the attempt to be different, we offer something that's just sort of bizarre or mediocre. But this is better than such fare, and I'm excited to use them when I get a chance.

I like that the laru is really tough in a one-on-one ambush, but screwed when the party bursts on the scene. The encounter isn't too tough, but it starts like a nightmare and visually, I think players would remember this thing and love to hate it. I can see sorcerer's gulping when they hear they may have to go after one of them. I can see a group of laru assassins ambush individual party members at night. SOMe wil get out of the encounter wuickly and go help their friends, some are jsut trying to hold on until help arrives. THis is superstar design.

I think the writing could be tighter. Avoid discussing 'the Laru', as if it's a unique creature in one paragraph, an then referring to them as 'the laru' in plural in the next paragraph.

Usually I think comments from Ryan Dancey are spot on. I am a little confused by his thoughts on this creature, especially the ramifications of Charisma damage and how it might be healed. To be certain, 1d8 drain is too much for CR 7. I think 1d4 damage would be more appropriate.

With only a couple of entries left to evaluate, the laru has clinched a vote from me.

I like this one. That charisma score never gets attacked enough.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 8

Thanks everyone for your insightful comments. It’s been a real learning experience once again. I’m very pleased that a lot of people liked it. I hope I can apply the lessons of what was popular and what didn’t work so well to the next round, if I’m lucky enough to advance. Let’s address some specific points raised:

The name: Laru is the ancient Etruscan word for spectre or ghost (if you found that out, I’m seriously impressed – it took me long enough to find). I wanted something that had a classical ring to it and could be believed as the name the Laru called themselves. They were once good and beautiful fey and I didn’t want to call them something that just emphasised the scary aspect they currently sport. To my ear, ‘Laru’ has a tinge of sadness amongst the pleasing long vowels, which is exactly the impression I wanted to create with the monster as a whole. However, it’s entirely subjective if the word creates that effect and I can see that it may seem meaningless to some. Joy Slurping Tongue Monster could work, though.

That pesky Charisma Drain: Do you know what? I bumped it up to 1d8 at the very last moment before I submitted. It was 1d6 in all earlier drafts. Doh! My theory on the whole thing was that the Laru had to have a potent enough attack to take someone down quickly and I didn’t want that to be normal damage. It is weak in pitched combat so needs to be in and out fast. I wanted it to be drain, rather than damage, for story reasons (which I can see brings it into Ryan Dancey’s dreaded “Plot Device” category). If it was damage, victims would just get better and I didn’t want that. Drain means that victims without magical healing (yes, restoration not beak enchantment) do not get better. They will die if not attended to. I wanted that to happen, so that the PCs could come across the Laru’s victims and it be a real tragedy, not just something the victim would get over in a few days. However, by combining the combat need of taking an opponent down quickly and the story need of making the damage very hard to recover from, I’ve made something a bit too potent.

Insufficient description Guilty as charged. I was surprised looking back that my description had somehow missed the important stuff like whether it was humanoid or not (it is). I was trying to make that all-important first two lines as evocative as possible that I missed the basic point of describing what the creature actually looks like. SKR is spot on that it’s a story description, not an encounter description. Is it shadowy or grey? Well, let’s just say very dark grey.

The whole ambush thing Firstly, I just thought the reach was cool. It could reach into a room form outside the window and do its nasty tongue trick. Yes, it’s pretty potent, but I don’t feel overpowered. It needs an edge in combat and reach, along with a good climb speed (which I didn’t do anything to justify in the text, I realise), gives it the sudden in and fast out that will keep it alive just long enough to return another day. Yes, sneaky ambushers are limited but I don’t think the Laru would only appear while the PCs are resting at an inn, as Ryan says. In my games, the PCs are always splitting up in town (the fools) and would be ripe for an encounter with something like this. I take Clark’s point that a similar creature, as a pet of something like Drow, would be fun. I do see them as something that congregates in times of great joy (maybe a royal coronation or a celebration of some great heroes’ deeds) but I didn’t emphasise that in the last paragraph as I could have.

I'll come back later to discuss some more things (like grammar!), but it's gone midnight and I need to sleep. Thanks again for all the votes and comments.

Daniel Rust wrote:

As dark as the shadows it clings to, this spindly, sharp-clawed creature waits patiently for its prey. The air around it laden with despair, its forked tongue flickers, ready to envelop its victim and steal their very hope and joy.

Laru CR 7


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 an essential feature in a good diet (let’s not look too closely at the use of the word ‘good’ in that context), 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…

Maths is Important. How many points is the name worth, and does it successfully ‘Scrabble’ around for extra points?
The name gets 4 points, and no bonuses.

Would a specimen of this creature look good on the cream and scarlet paisley pattern sofa I have in my Druman villa?
Umm, it's grey. It would blast itself of existence in shame by comparison with the glorious colours of the sofa in question.

What place does this have at a dinner party?
Hunting trophy on the wall, stuffed by a taxidermist.

Other comments?
It's a hybrid shadow fey frog thing. Or at least from the description of what it does, that's what it seems to have been at some point. These fey who mess around cross-breeding species to produce weird stuff like this (how credible really is that shadow plane explorers story? - it was a bored powerful fey that created these from some underlings who annoyed it, I tell you) are the reason why, children, you don't mess with fey - or associate with them unless you absolutely have to do so.

If this creature were a crime, what sort of crime would it be (expressed in the time honoured culprit/implement/location format)?
Pixie Jellynose, with the paperknife (obviously not very effectively), in the study.

Ask A RPGSupersuccubus – turning hope to ruin, victory to despair, and asking the important questions which really matter since whenever.

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