Thoughtstealer Ooze

Round 3: Create a Bestiary entry

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 aka Wolfwaker

6 people marked this as a favorite.

A flowing mass of mud with embedded bits of pebbles, bark, and organic matter, this ooze usually appears in the rough form of a human, with a gaping mouth, two tentacle-like arms, and a broad base. It is drawn to sentient beings like a moth to a flame.

Thoughtstealer Ooze CR 5
XP 1600
N Medium Ooze
Init +7; Senses Blindsight 60 feet; Perception +5

----- Defense -----
AC 16, touch 14, flat-footed 10 (+3 Dex, +1 dodge, 2 natural)
hp 45 (7d8+14)
Fort +4, Ref +5, Will +4
Defensive Abilities ooze traits; Resist acid 5
Weaknesses vulnerable to fire

----- Offense -----
Speed 30 ft., climb 15 ft.
Melee bite +7 (1d4+2 plus mind drain and grab), 2 claws +2 (1d4+1)
Special Attacks mind drain (1d4 Int, DC 15)

----- Statistics -----
Str 14, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 1, Wis 11, Cha 15
Base Atk +5; CMB +7 (+2 Grapple); CMD 20 (cannot be tripped, +2 vs. grapple)
Feats Dodge, Improved Grapple, Improved Initiative
Skills Acrobatics +4, Perception +5, Stealth +4 (+12 in swamps), Swim +3; Racial Modifiers +4 Perception, +8 Stealth in swamps
SQ ooze traits, compression

----- Ecology -----
Environment temperate swamps
Organization solitary, pair, or colony (3-6)
Treasure standard

----- Special Abilities -----
Thoughtsense (Su) A thoughtstealer ooze can locate accurately any creature of Intelligence 3 or higher within 60'.
Sticky (Ex) Anyone who hits a thoughtstealer ooze with a melee weapon must make a DC 11 Strength check or that weapon is stuck in its body for one round.
Mind Drain (Sp) Once per round, a thoughtstealer ooze may do 1d4 Intelligence damage to a creature hit by its bite attack. If successful, it gains an equal temporary Intelligence bonus for one hour, to a maximum Intelligence of 10. The Will save DC of 15 is Charisma-based.
Awakened Intellect (Ex)
As the thoughtstealer ooze's Intellegence increases, it gains new abilities and begins to employ more advanced tactics, while its features become more defined in resemblance of its mind drain victim(s).
At Intelligence 3, it avoids being surrounded and can speak one language of its mind drain victim(s).
At Intelligence 4, it can grab a weapon which hits it, forcing the enemy to succeed in an opposed Strength check to free his weapon. It the ooze wins this check, it gains control of the weapon and can attack with it in lieu of a claw, though not proficiently. The ooze can hold two weapons in this way.
At Intelligence 6, it gains the weapon proficiencies of its mind drain victim(s) and takes advantage of flanking opportunities.
At Intelligence 8, it gains a +2 attack bonus to secondary attacks and can use tools.
At Intelligence 10, it learns Aklo and all the known languages of its mind drain victim(s), plus it gains their Knowledge skill ranks. (These ranks do not stack.)

Spawned by the shoggoth godling Nuruu'gal in cruel mockery of humanity, these oozes have bodies that are crude imitations of the human form. They are instinctively aware of the intellect they were intended to have but do not possess, and are drawn to sentient creatures in an attempt to feed on their mental energy.
A thoughtstealer ooze desires nothing more than to gain Intelligence, and quickly applies its new abilities. Some have even been known to use tools and build cunning traps. Unfortunately for the oozes, this awakening is short-lived. Hours after feeding, all they are left with is a pile of treasure they cannot use and some rock-scratched writings they can no longer understand.

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

Clay, your cobra-hood cloak was a knockout in Round 1, and your skinchanger in Round 2 was strong, though I thought you were pushing the rules a bit on the inclusion of hexes. If you do well, expectations go up every round...

And you definitely meet and exceed my expectations here. This round 3 monster is a great concept, sort of a living feeblemind, and sure to terrorize wizards and others. The idea of an ooze that drains your brain, then speaks your language and starts using tools is pretty great fuel for a weird encounter. This ooze fits into any wizard's lab or blasted wasteland. Nice job on a tough category.

And while I've been blown away by the Mind Drain/Awakened Intellect, I actually think that Sticky is a smart, simple design that makes combat entertaining. Nice job on that as well.

I DO recommend that this monster advance. Strongly recommended.

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

Initial Impression: Shoggoth-bred, wizard-sucking, living feeblemind oozes! Bring me more of that awesome sauce! Another ooze this round, and this one is better. This is a very strong submission.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

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. :) 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.

Your monster is an intelligent ooze that temporarily gets smarter by sucking Intelligence out of its opponents.

Stat block nitpicks:
The italic flavor text intro should just refer to what the PCs could tell when they encounter the creature--it's supposed to be text the GM could read aloud to the PCs--so the "it is drawn to sentient beings" is off because the PCs don't have a way of knowing that.
Don't capitalize blindsight.
If it has the grab UMR, it doesn't need Improved Grapple because grab gives it a +4 on grapple checks (and it doesn't qualify for IG anyway because it doesn't have the Improved Unarmed Strike feat prerequisite).
The grab bonus to CMB should include the unmodified bonus to CMB (in other words, it should be "CMB +7 (+9 grapple)." Don't capitalize "grapple" in the CMB parenthetical.
CMD parenthetical should be "can't be tripped" instead of "cannot be tripped."
"Ooze traits" shouldn't be in SQ (you correctly list them in Defensive Abilities).
The special abilities should be in alphabetical order so you can find them easily in the middle of combat.

Thoughtsense: This ability should be listed under senses. It should say "feet" instead of a foot mark (') because this is running text. The creature already has blindsight to the same range, so this ability is redundant. Maybe you meant for this to work like blindsight but only for intelligent creatures. Or maybe you originally meant to give it blindsight and then thought up this ability and didn't change it.

Mind Drain: This ability doesn't need to say "once per round" because it only trigger's on the creature's bite and it can only bite once per round.

Sticky: I'd compare this ability to the mimic adhesive ability. The DC 11 is trivial for most characters who'd attack it with melee weapons. And I don't know if this is supposed to be a flat DC or if it's based on one of the creature's ability scores.

Awakened Abilities: This is going to be a complex encounter, with the GM having to deal with new abilities added to the creature every round.
Int 4: Grabbing an opponent's weapon and using it without proficiency instead of using a claw is a worse option for the creature, especially as that means its attack bonus with the weapon is going to be –4 instead of +2 with claw. And if it uses two weapons, it's even worse at it. And there's a two-point window between this ability and the Int 6 "gains proficiency" ability, so odds are it's only going to have to deal with this penalty for one round, which means the GM has to update its attack bonus on its next turn.

I like the basic concept of this monster but the technical problems in the stat block and the other abilities make me hesitant to recommend it for advancement.

I do NOT recommend this monster for advancement.

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

Clay, welcome to Round 3!

Now that I’ve read all 16 entries, I can say that there are some real strong entries here—more strong entries than spots, unfortunately. Some good submissions won’t make the cut. I am only going to recommend 8 of you since only 8 can advance. In close cases, I took into account your prior work.

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 and Wolfgang 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…

You got my Initial Impressions above.

Design (name, overall design choices, design niche, playability/usability, challenge): A+
This is what I am looking for from a Superstar—a big idea, swing for the fences without being Gonzo kind of submission and you delivered in spades. Oozes are interesting. Your creature is playable and memorable and it does what a Superstar monster should do—it makes me absolutely itch to make an adventure that includes it. Great work. This would be a very memorable encounter, which is the heart of Superstar design.

Execution (quality of writing, organization, Golarion-specific, use of proper format, quality of content—description, summary of powers, rules execution, mechanics innovation): B
Props to my boys Sean and Wolf for their criticisms. I join Sean in most of his criticisms, though to me most are development notes not fatal flaws. You aren’t Superstars yet, you are budding Superstars and so I don’t expect flawlessness. That said, I think your execution is your weakest part and you need to step up next round if you make it. To me, rejecting this monster for technical flaws is failing to see the forest for the trees because this is a great monster (In saying that, I’m not criticizing Sean, he has to do the real development after all! I just take a bigger picture view)

Tilt (did it grab me, do I want to use one in an adventure?, mojo, just plain fun factor): A+
Clearly one of the best of the group. I love the big swing you took and I love what it says about you as a designer.

Overall: A
Clay, you rocked this monster big time, in my view.

Final Verdict: I DO RECOMMEND voters consider this monster to advance.

Your cloak was great and I liked your Round 2 archetype a lot, too. You didn’t get a unanimous judicial recommendation so I really hope the voters see what I see in this great submission!

Good luck!

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

I love monsters that get more powerful with every successful strike. This is a creature I would definitely vote for and put into one of my games.

However, from the description and attacks it doesn't seem like an ooze to me. I know there is no rule set in stone, but oozes usually have only one slam attack (like grey oozes, gelatinous cubes, etc.) and are not hard enough to form claws or jaws. It would be kind of like having Jello biting or clawing at you. It's just too soft to slash anything. Maybe having the Thoughtstealer as an aberration would have been a better choice?

That's just a minor nick-pick. Great work with this!


The concept is cool, but what I really don't like about this monster is that a DC 11 Strength check seems far too easy to pass for a CR 5 monster.

EDIT: But I see that SKR thought the same.

I also agree with Haakon that the humanoid appearance makes me hesitant to call it an ooze. Oozes are usually somewhat amorphous and using the phrase "human form" in the description is distracting.

Star Voter Season 7

I have to say that this monster is probably my favorite. I find that oozes have a very good potential for creativity like this here.

I agree with the low DC Strength check nitpick. That's about it though. I'd hate to fight this bugger (though I'd love to set it loose). :P

Star Voter Season 7

Clark Peterson wrote:
I join Sean in most of his criticisms, though to me most are development notes not fatal flaws.... That said, I think your execution is your weakest part and you need to step up next round if you make it. To me, rejecting this monster for technical flaws is failing to see the forest for the trees because this is a great monster

This pretty much sums it up for me. I love the concept, but as a mechanics-focused GM first-and-foremost, reading the details of this monster just makes me cringe.

As Haakon said, this really doesn't feel like an ooze at all. I could buy the idea of an ooze that maintained a mostly-humanoid shape all the time, but not one that has sharp enough teeth to bite and claws too. Even the Plasma ooze (Bestiary 3, 220) which is a CR 16 ooze still only has a single slam attack for melee. It's a dangerous slam attack, but it's still only the one. I would much have preferred it to start out as a vaguely humanoid glob which just had a slam attack, which then became firmer and took on the features of what it fed on, possibly gaining a second slam (which some monsters do) after it had gained enough power.

As far as the tactics go, there's nothing about being low Int which would require a creature to not avoid getting surrounded or not take advantage of flanking. Some of the most cunning real-life predators only have Int 2 in pathfinder, and they could certainly tell when something is coming up behind them or benefit from a distracted target. Mindless creatures, on the other hand, can't do that, but this ooze has an Int of 1, which makes it a genius among oozes, and roughly as smart as a shark. Admittedly, most of the mammals are Int 2, but 1 is still far higher than --. My suggestion would have been for it to remain mindless, with general mindless tactics ("Moves towards the smartest person it can sense and attacks, with no regard for its own safety"), until it drained some Int, at which time it would gain an Int score, lose the mindless trait, and start using some self-aware tactics.


Overall, I really like the idea. This is definitely a superstar-quality idea. And as Clark said, the mechanics can be worked out. However, RPGSuperstar is specifically looking for both (and I love crunch) so I'd have to put this just slightly on the "keep" side of the dividing line. You have my vote for now, but it may end up getting bumped later.

I think most of the comments so far are spot on. I'll probably vote for it because I like the concept so much, but I agree that this doesn't seem much like an ooze with its claws and bite attack. Then again, the PCs who actually fight the thing won't know what it's called or classified as. They'll just watch in horror as it steals their weapons, takes on their appearance slowly and starts gibbering :-D

In terms of an actual encounter, this is really really cool.

Scarab Sages Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7

This monster needs a very good encounter setup to get close to its full story potential, but if done right I am sure it can be used for a very creepy, memorable encounter. The idea and background are great and the few mechanical issues are not grave enough to bring this one down.

A monster that needs the GM to work for it but will make that work very rewarding. This one gets my vote.

Good luck with the remainder of the contest!

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

Naming: Functional. Named for what it does, which is how the people in the world would call it. Not exciting, but it works. SA names functional. Doesn't help, doesn't hurt.

Cool Factor: I like the concept of this monster. As others have said, I'm not sure it's oozey in its appearance, but there's something about its leechiness that makes it work.

Having said that, I'm not sure how it would play in practice. Is it going to live long enough to get the flavor of its increase in intelligence?

The flavor for this is great, I just dunno if it works. I think the other ooze is much better because it has the ideas and execution.

This one is borderline for me.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

Clay, this is a tough call. You have a really neat idea here - but your execution is lacking. Monsters that change a lot during a fight cause all sorts of bookkeeping trauma.

Couple that with the already shaky statblock you've already created, and it worries me that you made so many mechanics errors. Still... those can be fixed, and this is undoubtably a cool ooze. A humanoid gelatin shape that tries to restore a sentience it never had? Very neat!

Another comment that is neither good nor bad, but this feels a lot like it should be, or is based off, a psionic monster. I know, that's not exactly core rules, but the observation remains the same.

Star Voter Season 9

Hours after feeding, all they are left with is a pile of treasure they cannot use and some rock-scratched writings they can no longer understand.

The notion that these critters go through a Flowers for Algernon scenario every time they feed...

The actual mechanics are pretty wonky, and as written I would NOT want to run a group of these because of the book-keeping involved. But it is a cool critter.

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

I like the concept, but agree there are lots of mechanic issues. The mind drain once per round is fine, since if hasted or something, it could bite twice...but I'm not a huge fan of limits like once per round just because, though there is a precedent for it with energy drain attacks.

Also, the sticky power while cool not only has too low a DC, but it should be DC 15 assuming it's based on HD and Con like most powers from the body of a creature, like poison, are.

I wish there were a bit more motivation for them - while normally oozes don't need one, as an intelligent ooze, I'd like to know what it is trying to accomplish in its brief moments of enhanced lucidity stolen from others. While 'dormant' sure, it's a crafty hunter of brains, but what does it want to do when it gets smarter? Putting something like that in could give fun and useful plot hooks to GMs for how to use the monster.

I do agree with people that it doesn't really feel like an ooze. Not just the claws and bite, but it even has a good will save even though oozes have no good save.
Other minor nitpicks: your CMB should be 21 (2 str + 3 dex + 5 bab + 10 + 1 dodge), and your skill block should probably include climb as well, since it has a climb speed.

Great background and concept for the Azlanti, weird mechanics suit this kind of monster.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Phloid

Though definitely not perfect, this is my second favorite concept after the Abandoned One, which I am NOT voting for. I think the Awakened Intellect ability needs some serious work and perhaps some play-testing. Its ooze nature may need to be reconsidered or its features should be made closer to what we expect from a ooze. But overall, I love the concept and I think this one is mechanically salvageable, where the Abandoned One is likely not. For this you have my vote. Good luck.

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

Great concept, certainly. :D I like this for having a cool, cinematic effect - but also, I could see definitely see these as repeating monsters, used for much, much more than a single encounter. (That said, running an encounter with four or fice or six oozes, each with different abilities, would be crazy.)

Two things bother me here, at the conceptual level. One is, a CR 5 creature who steals intelligence should totally be enjoying the bag-of-rats effect. All he needs to do is munch on some easy swamp critters to get a major boost to his abilities. And secondly, I'm really not feeling the effect of the twist, of the swamp connection. I get that this ooze hangs around in swamps, 'cause the text says so. But I don't see why it'd be restricted to there, or why a swamp would be the preferred hangout of a creature drawn to great intellect. Since the environement was a central constraint of the round, I'm sorry to be missing a stronger use of it.

Best of luck! :)

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 4 , Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 9 aka MillerHero

I believe the RPG needs more oozes, and an ooze that is noticeably different from the vast majority of other oozes made me smile. However, the Awakened Intellect mechanic turned me off. Not only is it cumbersome for the GM to use, but it effectively changes the CR of the creature depending on whether it recently stole some thoughts or not.


I love this monster. It would have fit nicely in the swamps east of Belhaim...

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

@Clay: While the concept of this monster is intriguing, I can't say I'm enamored with the actual mechanics. This monster is a bookkeeping nightmare that never pays off, because in the average encounter, it'll be dead before it's changing Intelligence produces any quantifiable results. Compare this ooze to a doppleganger with Improved Disarm, and the doppleganger does the "I become you and steal your weapon" sthick much better (and faster) than does the ooze. Sure, the ooze adds an element of Intelligence drain, but to me, that's more of a hassle than it's worth.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka DankeSean

This one mostly works for me; IO feel like it could benefit from a revamp of how the awakened intellect ability works, just because as it stands it's going to take a good while before the creature sees any real benefit from it in the average party encounter, if at all. Plus the actual benefits it gains are, as listed, somewhat questionable in nature, like others have pointed out before me. Still, the concept is very solid and the execution, while flawed, isn't irredeemably so.

Unlike others, I don't mind at all thyat it's an ooze that bunches itself up into humanoid form. I don't think all oozes need to be flowing globs; after all, one of the most famous oozes comes in strict geometric cube form. No reason at all one that routinely feeds on intelligence of more solid life forms can't emulate those life forms, in my book. So points for doing something different with what is frequently one of the more boring creature types.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

Clay, congratulations on making it this far. I really like your monster, and voted for it.

I feel a real kinship with you, since the critique of your monster is very similar to the comments I got for my monster last year: Awesome idea, not-so-awesome execution.

I think the concept of the Thoughtstealer ooze is fantastic, but as a GM I cringed when I read the stat block. This thing is going to be a bookkeeping nightmare, and will likely be dead before it can use some of it's more interesting powers.

In the end, I really wanted to reward the creative spark you have shown. Mechanics can be taught, and you have great developers to back you up. True creativity is harder to come by. That said, in this competition you are up against people who are great at both, so shape it up if you make it to the next round.

Good luck in the vote.

Liberty's Edge Contributor , Star Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 9

This is a very cool idea, but it seems like it would take a bit of work to hammer it into shape. Hopefully, you'll be able to get in based on the creativity you've shown in this and previous rounds. Good luck to you!

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 aka Wolfwaker

Thanks for the comments, guys. I will try to do a rewrite at some point accounting for some of your suggestions, especially making the bookkeeping easier.

Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Congratulations and nice job Clay!

I want to give feedback that will help you progress in the game. Not sure if this is it, but here you go :) the overall flavor is decent, though I think oozes are less exciting than other creatures and you've given it a humanoid form. Sticky and minddrain would definitely keep my characters on their toes (good). Running the creature (changing int) will take more work as a GM which is not a good thing. Overall: SP, not the best but still shiny.

Star Voter Season 7

Sean McGowan wrote:
Unlike others, I don't mind at all thyat it's an ooze that bunches itself up into humanoid form. I don't think all oozes need to be flowing globs; after all, one of the most famous oozes comes in strict geometric cube form. No reason at all one that routinely feeds on intelligence of more solid life forms can't emulate those life forms, in my book. So points for doing something different with what is frequently one of the more boring creature types.

At least for me, it wasn't so much that it was a humanoid-shaped ooze, as that it was a solid enough one to have teeth and claws. If it had slam attacks instead, I think it would have irritated people less.

That being said, congratulations on making it through, Clay! I look forward to your next entry, and to eventually seeing your revision to this one.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 aka Wolfwaker

I wasn't thinking it would have hard teeth and claws but I was trying to come up with some mechanical way to grapple with its mouth so I figured a bite attack with grab would require the least rules elaboration. I downsized the damage to a d4. Same thing on claws, I didn't know what term to use for an "arm" based attack. I guess it could be a tentacle.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 aka Flak

The weird thing for me is the slashing damage. Otherwise, claws and a bite make sense just fine. I didn't count, but if you had the words, it wouldn't be too hard to just say 'yo, these do bludgeoning damage because oozes aren't sharp,' right?

p.s. sweet monster ;)

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 aka Wolfwaker

Totally forgot about the slashing damage!

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 aka Wolfwaker

As to the bag of rats, his thoughtsense only works on INT 3 and up. I didn't want him to stop when he got a player down to 2 though. I guess I could say the victim must have a starting INT of 3.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka GM_Solspiral

You got thru without the solspiral bump, did you get help from Colbert! But seriously, when I accounted prior rounds I regretted not giveng you the nod this round. Glad you made it thru! This was awesome but I had to give that thunderer beastie a vote because it made me smile despite its flaws you were my number 9...

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