Gutter Drake

Round 2: Create a Bestiary entry

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 7 aka devilfluff

This dog-sized dragon's body and wings are covered in filthy, dull brown scales, but its long skinny tail is naked pink flesh. With its beady eyes and whiskers, it could easily be mistaken for a huge rat.
Gutter Drake CR 4
XP 1200
NE Small dragon
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, scent; Perception +6
----- Defense -----
AC 18, touch 14, flat-footed 15 (+3 Dex, +4 natural, +1 size)
hp 42 (5d12+10)
Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +4
Immune disease, paralysis, sleep
----- Offense -----
Speed 40 ft., fly 100 ft. (good)
Melee bite +9 (1d6 plus disease)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 5th; concentration +6)
1/day—summon swarm
----- Statistics -----
Str 11, Dex 16, Con 15, Int 6, Wis 10, Cha 13
Base Atk +5; CMB +4; CMD 17 (21 vs. trip)
Feats Improved Initiative, Skill Focus(Handle Animal), Weapon Finesse
Skills Bluff +6, Fly +10, Handle Animal +6, Knowledge (local) +3, Perception +6, Sense Motive +4, Stealth +15
Languages Common, Draconic
SQ vermin empathy +4
----- Ecology -----
Environment any urban
Organization solitary or pair
Treasure standard
----- Special Abilities -----
Disease (Ex) Filth fever: Bite—injury; save Fort DC 12; onset 1d3 days; frequency 1/day; effect 1d3 Dex damage and 1d3 Con damage; cure 2 consecutive saves. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Vermin Empathy (Su) This ability functions as a druid's wild empathy, save that a gutter drake can only use this ability on vermin. A gutter drake gains a +4 racial bonus on this check. Vermin are normally mindless, but this empathic communication imparts on them a modicum of implanted intelligence, allowing gutter drakes to train Small or Medium vermin and use them as guards. Vermin empathy treats swarms as if they were one creature possessing a single mind—a gutter drake can thus use this ability to influence and direct the actions of swarms with relative ease.

Gutter drakes are degenerate cousins to dragons who are a constant threat to communities of all sizes. Cunning and mischievous, their stealthy nature allows them to thrive in the shadows of society by stealing what they desire.
Gutter drakes will lair in any unused space they can access and have been found in abandoned buildings, sewers, or even open crypts. Territorial and jealous, they are usually solitary creatures, but a mated pair will remain together at least until their clutch has hatched. Frequently referring to themselves as the king of vermin, gutter drakes share their homes with rats, spiders, or other foul creatures. Gutter drakes have developed a rudimentary form of control over these creatures and will often employ dire rats as guards or scouts.
Gutter drakes are notorious cowards and strive to avoid contact with people. Occasionally, smarter or more ambitious individuals will bargain with local criminals. They traffic in secrets, trading overheard information for food and shiny baubles.
Small, round ears and pointy muzzles combine with a long skinny tails to give gutter drakes a distinctly rat-like appearance. Adults can grow up to 4 feet in length and weigh as much as 40 pounds.

Goblinworks Lead Game Designer

Hi devilfluff, I'm Lee Hammock, the lead game designer on Pathfinder Online. Before that I did lots of d20 freelance work, but I'm probably going to be leaving mechanics more to the more up to date judges and concentrating on story, overall balance, and how I could see using them in a game.

Unfortunately this entry suffers in comparison to the three other dragon submissions. Unlike those it does not have an interesting breath weapon and it has no ties to Golarion. It's abilities are functional but not really very interesting. I could see using it in a game for an occasional source of information or a low level threat, but I can think of more interesting options for both.

So I would say this one is a Should Not Vote For.

Paizo Employee Developer , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Congrats on making it to this round! May you have the luck and talent to push all the way through to the end!

”How I Judged These Monsters”:

When I develop a monster for the Adventure Path bestiaries, I print out the monster entry, and then go through it in a quick pass, marking up the page with notes and highlighting any problems that I need to address later when I really dig into it. Much of the time I’m circling things in the stat block or flavor text and leaving a quick note. Most often, this quick note pass is performed while I’m writing out art orders for the monsters so I can make sure that the description I give to the artist is what the final monster will be. This is where I make note of any changes I plan to make (some of which I’m sure frustrate some of my freelancers from time to time).

I’m going to judge this round in a similar manner to how I’d treat a monster I ordered from a freelancer if I asked one of my freelancers to just send me something within the same parameters that you’ve been given. My review isn’t anything personal, and since tone is difficult to communicate online sometimes, imagine my comments and critiques read in a friendly and nudging way. To heighten the experience, imagine my comments on your monster written in purple ink. :)

The blue italicized first line in my review was my gut reaction from reading the name with no context whatsoever. It was a fun guessing game I was playing while reviewing the monsters, so I included that note for everyone’s enjoyment. (Spoiler Alert: I was wrong a lot.)

And now to the monster!

I love the name without reading it. Hope it makes me happy. (Full disclosure, this name hits me because I designed a weird class for 0one Games called the guttermage and co-wrote a book for Midgard Press called Book of Drakes, so this tickles my freelancer memories—something totally appropriate for this competition!)

This is the second dragon I’ve read so far.
Comma in the XP line. This is the second round, but this is where being sloppy can really count against you.
AC is one point high, saves are one point high, hit points are two points high, but the weak damage explains why. An average of 3.5 points of damage better have a cool rider with that disease.
Summon swarm?
I dig the vermin empathy. That flavor is right up my alley.
I guess this is why you included the summon swarm SLA, but I would have been more excited by a cool breath weapon that involved bugs.
I really don’t like that they look like rats. That’s so not dragon it might as well be magical beast, and its lack of a breath weapon and weak physical attacks reinforce this.
This is the shortest entry in the competition.
With a physical description change and some more flavor support this could be awesome.
The monster is urban but has no tie to Golarion.
I’d have to spend a fair amount of time developing this, but the flavor interests me, so it wouldn’t be as onerous.

I don’t recommend gutter drake for advancement.

Webstore Gninja Minion , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

Hi there! I'll be one of the judges for this round, and I'll be looking at a couple of key points for your creature: flavor, GM usability, and how well it fits into the world of Golarion. For some background, I helped found the Wayfinder fanzine before I started working for Paizo, and these are all points that I took into consideration when selecting articles for the magazine. In addition, I oversee every third-party Pathfinder Roleplaying Game product that makes its way onto

I really, really like the vermin empathy and summon swarm spell-like ability, but a botfly swarm breath weapon would have given it a better tie to its creature type. Much like Adam, this warms my freelancer cockles, as I like creatures that are associated with vermin and have used them many times. They do make some echoes to the dog-like kobolds of earlier fantasy roleplaying, which is pretty cool.

GM Usability
Why does it have Handle Animal? Wild empathy (and vermin empathy) both work independently of skills, and the text doesn't really support its usage on other creatures except rats. Somewhat of a waste of a Skill Focus feat without better support in the creature's abilities.

Definitely a very urban creature, but no links to the world setting.

Final Thoughts
Great presentation, but lacking in mechanical oomph and no setting background. I do not recommend this monster for advancement.

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

Unfortunately you came very close to a name with the Guttersnipe (one of my favorites so far) and you didn't come with the awesome factor.

That's your biggest don't have enough interesting and with how short it is it just appears you didn't...put as much effort as other dragon writers did.

Overall this falls to the wayside for me.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Jesse, your gutter drake is a perfectly functional monster, but unfortunately it is not very compelling.

I believe this competition is about swinging for the fences and coming up with new mechanics to implement all kinds of crazy ideas; the first thing I read in the monster entries is their special attacks and abilities, and you do not bring anything truly fresh in that area—just the good old filth fever and some variation of vermin empathy. Even a new kind of disease would have made it more interesting.

The synergy with swarms is a nice touch, but although I like the flavor, the underwhelming mechanics make it hard for me to vote for it.

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

Congratulations Jesse,
I am trying to keep reviews simple to get through them quickly.
Creative: not highly, feels like a rat with were-rat abilities.
Fun to GM: dragons are always fun, and a low-level one is a boon.
Golarion Tie: hmmm...

Good luck! :)

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

Okay, so a draconic pied piper.
I actually really like the description giving them rat-like features; it makes them distinct, and I don't think it detracts from their dragon-ness anymore than, say, a dragon turtle's shell does. I do agree that the lack of breath weapon was a misstep, though.
It's the abilites it does have that fall a bit flat for me, though. Disease makes sense, but is a bit boring. Summon swarm is fine, but SLAs are not what usually make a monster stand out for me. Vermin Empathy is pretty much the signature ability of these guys, and it's a little too focused for its own good.
As far as a story with these as a monster goes... I could see an interesting gaming session heading down into the sewers, coming across more and more trained and strangely intelligent vermin, and expecting something completely different at the end of the road and then finding a rat-dragon. But aside from the surprise factor there, I'm not finding a lot of love for what gutter drakes have to offer. It's not at all bad, just kind of middle-of-the-road generic to me.

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

While not striking me as amazing I like this lil fella too. I think the abilities are all thematic, but there isn't enough to wow me. I could definitely see this as an accompaniment to Adam's aforementioned Book of Drakes.

Rather than the Skill FOcus (Handle Animal) I'd rather have seen a real power based on the vermin empathy - perhaps some vermin control or even vermin swarm companion…

I didn't have a lot of time for item reviewing this weekend, so I'm doing monsters instead. First I'll look at how the monster's basic rundown fits the monster creation table, then general theme and abilities.

= Monster meets the target statistics for its CR
+ Monster exceeds the target stats for its CR
++ Monster greatly exceeds target stats for its CR
- Monster's stats do not meet target stats for its CR
-- Monster's stats are greatly below target stats for its CR

hp: +
AC: +
High Atk +
Low Dmg --
Primary Ability DC: --
Secondary Ability DC: n/a
Good save: -/=/--
Poor save: n/a

Above average on everything but damage output (abysmal), saves (okay), and Ability DC (too low; even if it is only filth fever, it could be based off the monster's Con, so at least it would be close to average. Let's hope the abilities offset its lack of threat.

Disease: Plain old filth fever, which for a CR 4 isn't spectacular. You had the opportunity to do something new and original here--something Superstar--and took a pass.

Vermin Empathy: An interesting ability, but it doesn't pack a punch. Sure, it can summon swarm and direct them, and making friends with local giant vermin has some moxie, but then it's basically a dragon that lets bugs fight for it while it sits back and plays coach. Not terribly impressive. Also, the description mentions them using dire rats, which are animals, not vermin.

No breath weapon? Are you sure this thing is a dragon?

The flavor is decent, but there's no Golarion tie-in. This monster filla a niche similar to two other entries--the guttersnipe and filth dragon--but doesn't do it as well as either of them. It's also called a drake, but doesn't share characteristics of those dragon types. I'm afraid this one is a bit of a miss.

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

Gutter Drake
The Good: I like drakes and I like the vermin empathy bit.
The Bad: Dislike that this resembles a rat it should resemble a drake.
The Ugly: The filth fever is a wasted power as it can summon swarms, and you've given nothing particularly innovative in the mechanics.Overall:6.5/10 not likely to get my vote its on the wrong side of the bubble.

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

While I like this execution of a "sewer" dragon better than the filth dragon, and it's mechanically sound, it's also mechanically boring. There's no new mechanics here at all, and we've seen several vermin empathy creature, such as mites already in the game. Combined with no Golarion tie, this just doesn't seem to bring anything new to the table.

Liberty's Edge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2012 , Star Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 9

Another dragon, and this time it's a drake! Cool! I like that it surrounds itself with rats, and it has a rat-like appearance (one you could have downplayed somewhat to allow its draconic nature to shine through). Rats are quintessentially urban, so you did a good job anchoring the gutter drake to the environment.

The gutter drake had no tie to Golarion, and it looks like you had plenty of space to explore that.

Good luck in the voting!

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 7 aka devilfluff

Well, I guess I can take a minute to run through some thoughts.

I made a couple of glaring missteps.

I failed to tie it to the setting. Rookie mistake. I was under the impression that the monster had to fit in the world more so then be tightly connected. I will admit I'm not super knowledgable about Golarion, so I erred on the side of world agnostic. Obviously a poor choice.

Breath weapon? Should gave given it one... It was a conscious decision. I was trying to differentiate it from the classic dragon, but just lost the flavor and some of the dragon coolness.

I actually had a nastier disease prepped, but swapped it to filth fever to tie closer to the rats. Another poor decision.

The look? Hit or miss. I don't regret that choice though. I really think a dragon in the city would draw a ton of attention. How do you avoid it? By looking less like a dragon at a glance...

I think the core idea was good, but I could have executed it better.

Thanks for all the feedback, and please keep it coming.

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