Gozreh's Thunderer

Round 3: Create a Bestiary entry

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka DLandonCole

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A bush, covered with thorns and hinged leaves, twists itself at your approach into a vaguely humanoid form, ready to defend its marshy home.

Thunderer of Gozreh CR 3
XP 1000
N Medium Plant
Init +2; Senses low-light vision; Perception +7

----- Defense -----
AC 14, touch 12, flat-footed 12 (+2 Dex, +2 natural)
hp 28 (4d8+8)
Fort +4, Ref +8, Will +2
Defensive Abilities thorns, thicket; Immune plant traits

----- Offense -----
Speed 20 ft., climb 10ft
Melee slam +4 (1d4+1), thorns
Special Attacks disgorge, thunder

----- Statistics -----
Str 13, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 6, Wis 10, Cha 11
Base Atk +3; CMB +4; CMD 15
Feats Combat Reflexes, Power Attack
Skills Climb +15, Perception +7, Stealth +9 (+15 in swamps); Racial Modifiers +11 Stealth in swamps
Languages Sylvan

----- Ecology -----
Environment warm swamps and marshes
Organisation solitary, pair or clump (3-6)
Treasure incidental

----- Special Abilities -----
Disgorge (Ex) A Thunderer of Gozreh can open its leaves and disgorge insects and arachnids trapped inside. This functions as a spider swarm, without the poison ability, appearing next to the Thunderer of Gozreh; it has no control over the swarm. It takes 1d4 days for a Thunderer of Gozreh to trap enough insects to be able to use this ability again.
Thunder (Ex) Snapping its mouth-like leaves open and shut, a Thunderer of Gozreh can make a cacophony as great as a peal of thunder. All creatures within a 30-foot burst must make a DC 14 Fortitude save or take 1d6 points of sonic damage and be deafened for 1d4 rounds. Using this ability does 1d4 points of Constitution damage to the Thunderer of Gozreh and cannot be used again for 1d4 rounds. Disgorge and thunder do not affect each other.
Thorns (Ex) Sharp thorns cover a Thunderer of Gozreh. Anything touching it must make a DC 10 Reflex save or take 1d3 points of piercing damage. Creatures striking a Thunderer of Gozreh with natural attacks or unarmed strikes are subject to this damage, but creatures striking with melee weapons are not.
Thicket (Ex) A Thunderer of Gozreh can revert to a bush-like form, its thorns facing out, as a standard action. Its size decreases to small and its movement decreases to 5 ft. It gains a -2 penalty to Dex, a +2 bonus to AC (including the +1 for small size), a +5 bonus to stealth. The DC to avoid damage from its Thorns increases to 12. While hunkered down, it cannot use its slam attacks but gains +4 to its CMD. The Thunderer of Gozreh can reverse this effect as a standard action.

A Thunderer of Gozreh traps insects and spiders with the pollen it produces in tiny flowers at the base of its snapping leaves, either digesting them, releasing them to reproduce or as a defense.

What appears to be a mundane plant gives a noise when threatened that seems as if it should come from a far larger creature, aided by the buzzing of newly released and angry insects. Forming itself into a biped mass of stems and stalks, it will release its insect prey and move quickly to escape danger.

Druids and devotees of Gozreh will travel great distances to harvest its leaves at dawn on Firstbloom for use as offerings to their deity; to plant a Thunderer of Gozreh on their grave is to accord them a high honour. As a plant living where the water meets the land, whose shout seems to come from the heavens, it is thought to be favoured by the Sky Father.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

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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.

Okay, your monster is a plant creature that can shape itself into something vaguely humanoid.

Intro flavor text should never decide PC actions—in this case, "at your approach." The text has the same feel and effect if you cut those three words.

Stat block nitpicks: don't capitalize the creature's AC (the provided template doesn't) or hit points (ditto). You need a space between its climb speed and "ft" and a period after "ft." The provided stat block template has an entry for "Organization" with a "z," yours has an "s."

Writing tip: Strengthen the tone of your writing: avoid using "will."

Don't capitalize your monster's name in running text (except for Gozreh, which of course is a proper noun).

Disgorge: So there's nothing preventing the swarm from moving into the thunderer's square and attacking it, which is pretty harsh for the creature. I like that it takes time to recover insects to use this ability (though abilities that reset over more than a day tend to be irrelevant in the grand scheme of things... either the monster can use the ability, or it can't).

Thunder: This should say "using this ability deals 1d4 points of Constitution damage" instead of "does." However, given that this is a CR 4 creature and the attack only deals 1d6 points of sonic damage + deafness, I don't think it needs to hurt the creature at all—it's a really harmful drawback for an otherwise weak ability.

Thorns: You should say "creatures striking with manufactured weapons" rather than "creatures striking with melee weapons," because natural attacks and unarmed strikes are melee weapons, and you're actually wanting to exclude manufactured weapon attacks from being affected by this ability.

Thicket: "Small" and "Stealth" should be capitalized. This ability would be a lot simpler if it didn't involve a size change, and you could give it other abilities to make it a viable defense (such as an increase to natural armor, increasing the thorn damage, and so on).

As I told you in your archetype entry: Paizo writes in American English, so you need to stamp out that "u" in "favoured" and "honour." I'm not joking, here: if you leave it in, I or an editor has to take it out, which means you're making more work for someone down the line.

I like the theme of this monster, but the technical problems in the execution make me disinclined to vote for it.

I do NOT recommend this monster for advancement.

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

First Impression: Woah, a CR 3 plant monster! That is taking some design risks for sure, as plant monsters as a category are often difficult to pull off, and a lower CR monster is often harder to design than the higher one.

So what have we got here? The gathering and disgorging swarms is neat, and the thicket ability is amusing enough. Overall, the powers are entertaining but Sean's right, there's a lot of niggling little errors that make the editor in me say "Hm, maybe someone else is paying more attention to their craft as a writer of text." The thundering plant theme is not executed well enough to get me excited to fix the problems throughout.

I do NOT recommend this monster for advancement.

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

Initial Impression: A thorny, human-y bush thing. I think the thorn is a good metaphor for this entry because it is your many small errors here that trip you up. Often times, mistakes are ok. I excuse them as things to fix in development. I think this is an example of when that is over the line and shows just a lack of readiness with your craft. On top of that, and maybe this is just subjective, but the idea isn't good enough for me to look past those many thorns. Thus, the death of a thousand cuts for this one.

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

Landon, 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. This was a tight round and unfortunately having read all 16 I still feel how I felt above—the core idea isn’t good enough to survive the many other mistakes I find here. As a result, this monster doesn’t get my recommendation.

Design (name, overall design choices, design niche, playability/usability, challenge): B+
I thought the name was unwieldy. I also thought Wolfgang did a good job summarizing my thoughts. I have to admit I enjoyed the swarm disgorging ability but it’s just not enough to get me past the other issues.

Execution (quality of writing, organization, Golarion-specific, use of proper format, quality of content—description, summary of powers, rules execution, mechanics innovation): B-
The fact that Sean and Wolf find a laundry list of mistakes shouldn’t make you hang your head. Heck, any number of freelancers would get those kinds of notes from those two, they are sticklers! Which is also why they are so great. As I noted in my initial impression, I don’t hold mistakes against you quite as severely in this round as I see you all as budding Superstars. But I think what I’ve seen here from you this round and prior rounds suggest that you aren’t quite as polished in this craft yet as some of the others and I think that is showing through.

Tilt (did it grab me, do I want to use one in an adventure?, mojo, just plain fun factor): B
Solid idea, just not enough to get past the others.

Overall: B
Landon, you know my view on this so I don’t need to say it again. I think you’ve done a good job in a tight round with the main problem that others have simply done better this time.

Final Verdict: I DO NOT RECOMMEND this monster advance.

Your binnacle was not one of my favorites from Round 1 (but for goodness sake it was still top 32) and I was on the fence on your archetype. I wish you the best of luck, but I think you’ve finished too far back each time to make it this time. It’s up to the voters, though!

Good luck!


I like this monster as a whole except for several points. First, dealing Con damage to yourself is unnecessary. Considering that you die if your Constitution ever reaches 0, why on earth would ANY natural creature (plants are natural creatures) evolve to possess a defense like this? Its quite literally a "stop hitting yourself" defense.

I was actually planning on voting for this monster until I read the description. I really wanted to hear about how it lived, what it ate, why it might fight. Typical bestiary stuff. Instead, we get a brief recap on what the monster looks like and how it attacks, plus an article about what some Druids do with it.

Star Voter Season 7

I agree with everything said above. It's an interesting idea, but there are a number of issues with the execution, and I don't think it's going to get my vote.

Also, since the issue which actually jumped out at me the most hasn't been mentioned yet, I'll point it out:

Stealth +9 (+15 in swamps); Racial Modifiers +11 Stealth in swamps

Why does it get +11 in swamps? As Sean said on the Iceroot Devourer: Most monster bonuses are +4 or +8, for consistency. In addition, 9 + 11 != 15. Either it should be +4 base, "(+20 in swamps)", or "+6 Stealth in swamps".

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

Landon, I like the idea of a walking thornbush, with the ability to spit up swarms of monsters, but there's a serious problem here: see my spoilered rant in the miremane (where I misread its size as speed). it's way too slow.

Now, this creature could be a lot worse, because it can swarm out and it's not quite as slow, but 20 ft move speed is too slow to not have some sort of ranged attack. Any smart character will outrun this every time.

The rest of the creature isn't too bad. Like I said, I like the idea - and other than the speed, I don't have any mechanical concerns (though - swarm XP? is it summoned?)

Star Voter Season 9

Am I missing something, or does Thunder blow up the creature's self-defense swarm?

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

Going against judges grain here think you deserve a spot, Solspiral bump.

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

Naming: I like the monster name. Ties to the world and feels right.

Cool Factor: Well, it's got the plant thing to overcome, and it doesn't feel like it does. The swarm thing is kinda neat, and the thunder thing is kinda neat, but they don't seem to be cut from the same cloth. Maybe one of those would have been good to develop further and build other stuff around.

I don't see players talking about how much fun this one was in later sessions. Afraid it doesn't quite make my cut.

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

Have to say that this entry doesn't work very well for me. Thunderer of Gozreh sounds interesting - but then I find out it's a bush? I was expecting a big flying bird with sonic/thunder abilities - yes, it's completely my perception of the name, but I felt let down from that initial impression.

I will say that as plan monsters go, I don't recall any that are bushes - so that's a good move. However, the rest doesn't work well. The swarm ability is cool, but at this point there's been quite a few swarm generating monsters, so not as original as a few years ago.

The thunder ability works okay, but not with the self con damage - it's not that powerful to need a limitation - at least I'd have like to see it stun for a round if the save is failed, on par with sonic burst spell.

As for thicket - most turtling abilities aren't very useful for monsters - if the PCs are beating it already, getting a few boosts to defencese in exchange for not attacking just mean the fights over. To have any effectiveness in combat, it would have to inflict the thorns power to anyone attacking it within 10 feet of reach or something, and those in adjacent squares (which would still let PCs just shoot it to death).

President, Jon Brazer Enterprises

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My own take on this monster:

Flavor: I'm bored. "a mundane plant" "when threatened" "Druids ... harvest" Something like this belongs in the "Slimes, Molds and Fungi" section of the core book, not the Bestiary. I can't give this a grade.

Crunch Considering your first mistake is on the first line XP 1000 when it should be 800, it doesn't bode well.

To save time I'm just going to list the technical errors I am noticing.

  • Wrong good save (it should be Fort, not Reflex), not to mention the math is off on all of them.
  • Thorns is listed under Defensive Abilities and Melee when it should only be Defensive.
  • It should be climb 10 ft.
  • Damage is way below what is expected for a CR 3.
  • You sent 14 skill ranks when you only had 4 available. Plus you did not add the conditional racial bonus correctly.
  • None of your abilities with a DC state what ability they work off of.

Mistakes happen, but the quantity of mistakes and the kinds of mistakes made lead me to believe you are a novice at monster design. Keep practicing. Again, I can't give this a grade.

[b]Conclusion: Like I said, you're still a novice at monster design. Keep practicing and you'll get it. This monster, however, is not superstar.

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

@Landon Cole: I think this monster suffers from having too many self-defeating abilities: an ability to spit out swarms that can hurt the thunderer itself; a sonic ability that kills any swarms that do happen to attack the thunderer's foes; an ability to sit in one place and not attack in exchange for some minor defensive benefits. I'm not convinced this monster poses a serious threat to a party of PCs.

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

On the one hand I'm relieved to see a plant that moves beyond 'special things to do with crushing vines and sucking thorns' for its special abilities, but ultimately I find myself kind of letdown by this. The abilities are just weirder than I'm comfortable with- I have a really hard time imagining a venus flytrap making a huge sonic peal by snapping its mouth open and shut- and the fact that both of its special attacks have negative consequences for the plant itself is very offputting.

Also I'm kind of let down by the flavor text: it's a great honor to have one of these planted on your grave. But it's a plant that MOVES, so... apparently the honor is fleeting?

Just not doing it for me. Sorry, but best of luck regardless.

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

I like that you took a risk with a plant creature. However, it seems like you could have spent another pass at editing this, and, for me, it doesn't distinguish itself enough from the competition. Congratulations on making it this far, and best of luck in the voting!

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

Landon, congratulations on making it this far.

You made an interesting plant monster, but in the end it did not capture me enough to get my vote.

I was a bit put off by you calling it Gozreh's Thunderer in the title and Thunderer of Gozreh in the stat block. It is most likely a proofreading failure, but you really can't afford those at this stage. Same goes for the British U's Sean called you on. And neither version of the name got me very excited.

I like the disgorge ability, but feel the thunderer ability stretches my sense of disbelief a bit - this thing is able to cause sound that physically hurts you by snapping it's leaves. Maybe it's just me, but I'm not convinced. And with the name, the thunder ability should be the main stichk of this critter. Now it is sort of just rolled up along side the spiders and the thorns.

Good luck in the voting

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka DLandonCole

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I think I let myself down with this one and I'm assuming I'm not going through. As a few people have mentioned, the editing was poor; I'll freely admit that editing my own work is not a strong point for me, but I still could have done better. I'm particularly annoyed about using English English rather than American English; I set my word processor to 'colonial' mode but I did quite a lot of it on the road without changing the language setting. When I brought them together, it kept the language settings from the tablet version and so the spellcheck didn't pick up the mistakes.

In my defence, I'd never even tried to design a monster before getting through to this round. I came up with four ideas, half developed two and this is the one I liked best.

So, my apologies for the editing and my thanks for everyone who took the time to comment.

The idea I had was that it would use its sonic ability to deafen people (maybe I should've gone for stun), disgorge a swarm and then run up a tree. The Con damage it did to itself was because I didn't want it to keep using it and I wanted it to be self-limiting without a hard cap. Clearly, this was the wrong way of doing it.

Some thoughts on people's thoughts:


Jacob - I realise I'd done that about two heartbeats after submitting. Yeah, it was stupid. With regards to the sound, bear in mind that the loudest thing in the ocean is shrimp - they can block out sonar! Still, it was perhaps a bit much.

Mike - I agree about the editing. It gives me some hope that the idea for the monster could, with more work, have been decent.

Sean - I didn't think of that. D'oh! Maybe it should've been a flower or leaf.

Eric - but it would give their position away :)

Dale - yes, I am absolutely a novice. I appreciate the constructive criticsm from someone who does this professionally. Thanks for the specifics - I'll learn from them for next year.

Joel - fair points. I thought of the 'thicket' form as its sort of default, but that didn't come out as written. I was hoping that a loud plant that threw out a swarm would be unique enough :)

Clouds - thankyou! I was actually quite pleased with 'Thunderer of Gozreh' as a name and tie-in to Gozreh's portfolio.

Solspiral - thankyou too!

Zhangar - it would do, but not if it thunders before disgorging.

Ronar - I take the point, and will remember it for next year, but that's why it can go up as well as along and can throw a swarm out there, too.

Bobson – That's just a good, old-fashioned screw-up from me. I'm glad you found it interesting, though, and it does makes me feel that perhaps there's something in there.

Alexander – as above, I wanted it to be self-limiting, but clearly didn't do it in the best way. I take the point on the description – it was the first one I'd done and I was short on words.

Last but not least, the judges:

Clark – frankly, I think you're being generous in your grading, but it's a real boost to me that you were able to find so many nice things to say!

Wolfgang – well, I figured no-one else would go for a plant that does sonic damage and spits out a swarm. I hope I have the right gist of what you're saying – that there were a lot of problems, particularly with the execution, but that the idea behind it had something to it.

Sean – I'm going to be echoing what I've said to Wolfgang and Clark, and to Jon Brazer above, but I will learn from this for next year. If I get to the monster round next year, I will make sure that the stat block is done much, much better.

This was my first entry into RPG Superstar, so I'm delighted to have reached round three. Given that I wasn't going to win, now is the time to go out, otherwise I wouldn't've been able to enter again! I'll be having another go next year and I'll improve over the intervening months. Thanks to everyone who took part in RPG Superstar as a contestant, voter or judge. I look forward to playtesting the entries for the next couple of rounds!

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

Considering this is the first monster you've designed, I think you did an awesome job. It's taken me several dozen to get anywhere decent at monster design. :)

You never know, the voters could have decided to vote on your body of work and considered this a misstep you'll recover from. Good luck!

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

I'll echo Mike here. First off, you're not out yet. Second, you've made some awesome things, especially considering this is your first stab at RPG Superstar.

Also, you've demonstrated that you are able to absorb criticism gracefully and that you are willing to learn from your mistakes. These are important traits.

Besides, if your ride ends here, you have the privilege of doing it all over again next year.

Fantastic blog. Reading your articles was enjoyable. For me foodle, this was a really enjoyable book. I have it bookmarked and am eager to read more things from it. Continue your wonderful effort!

I think so, too flagle

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