Round 2: Create a Bestiary entry

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8

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This small, egg-shaped creature sports one large, devious eye and a maw of snaggled fangs. The flapping of its tiny leathery wings accompanies its snickering, high-pitched chitters.

Miscaster CR 3
XP 800
CN Tiny construct
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., detect magic, low-light vision; Perception +4
----- Defense -----
AC 16, touch 15, flat-footed 13 (+2 Dex, +1 dodge, +1 natural, +2 size)
hp 19 (4d10)
Fort +1, Ref +3, Will +2
Defensive Abilities construct traits
----- Offense -----
Speed 20 ft., fly 50 ft. (good)
Melee 1 bite +5 (1d4-1)
Space 2-1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks feast on magic items
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 4th; concentration +4)
Constant—detect magic
Scrolls Consumed (see feast on magic items below)
2nd—scorching ray (ranged touch attack +8)
1st—color spray (DC 11)
----- Statistics -----
Str 8, Dex 15, Con —, Int 11, Wis 12, Cha 7
Base Atk +4; CMB +1; CMD 14
Feats Dodge, Skill Focus (Stealth)
Skills Fly +6, Perception +4, Stealth +17
Languages Common (cannot speak)
SQ spellscatter field
----- Ecology -----
Environment any urban
Organization solitary, pair, or swarm (3-5)
Treasure none
----- Special Abilities -----
Feast on Magic Items (Su) Miscasters can feast on the magic of scrolls, potions, and elixirs. Using this ability is a standard action that provokes an attack of opportunity. If a miscaster consumes a scroll, the item is destroyed and the spell written on the scroll is stored within the miscaster as if it were a ring of spell storing, using the scroll’s caster level and casting time for the relevant spell, with a minimum casting time of 1 standard action. A miscaster can store up to 5 levels of spells at a time. In addition, a miscaster can imbibe potions and elixirs, receiving the benefits of these items as normal. A miscaster cannot consume staves, wands, or any other kind of magic item. If a miscaster goes five days without consuming at least one magic item, it dies.
Spellscatter Field (Su) Any creature that casts an arcane spell within 60 feet of a miscaster suffers a 50% chance of the spell dangerously backfiring. This causes the spell to fail and deals 1d6 points of damage per spell level to the caster. This ability does not interfere with any spells cast by the miscaster, but affects spells cast from the arcane scrolls and wands of others. The spellscatter field can penetrate barriers, but 1 foot of stone, 1 inch of common metal, a thin sheet of lead, or 3 feet of wood or dirt blocks it.

Creatures of pure mischief, miscasters are an unfortunate reality of studying wizardry in the Inner Sea. Most commonly found in the cutthroat Acadamae in Korvosa and the Arcanamirium in Absalom, miscasters are created by petty faculty and students who jealously seek to undo their rivals. The size of cats, miscasters are remarkably stealthy and can go for weeks without being detected, all while secretly eating a rival’s store of magic items and interfering with his or her spellcasting to deadly effect. Unlike homunculi, miscasters owe no allegiance to those who create them, but will carry out tasks that align with their own desires to dine on magic and cause mayhem. If a miscaster ever finds its way outside of academy walls, it stays within the city, preferring to secretly make its home in an alchemist’s workshop or scroll merchant’s backroom. Miscasters, though typically solitary and often short-lived creatures, readily team up with other miscasters in their shared pursuit of mischief-making.

Goblinworks Lead Game Designer

Hi Mikael, 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 to the more up to date judges and concentrating on story, overall balance, and how I could see using them in a game.

I like the feel this monster can create an intersting encounter, assuming players have some inkling why spells are suddenly going wonky. Normally I'm not a big fan of monsters that make a class useless, but these things are so individually weak it's pretty easy to get rid of the problem once it's identified. It's a nice complication to an encounter that can be eliminated fairly easily; I could see factions that don't rely on magic firepower trying to capture these things to make life difficult for wizards they may have to face. I also like the background element of miscasters being created by scheming academic wizards. Stats wise my only concern is the damage on spellscatter seemed a little high considering there is no save. A level 1-3 wizard could take themselves out of a fight with a single spell. Also how much damage to cantrips do, if any?

I would say this is a Should 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!

Not a fan of the name from a blind reading.

Description makes it seem like a weird homonculous. I like it. I’m listening.
Its hit points and saves are low, but that’s a hard thing to get on target for a construct, especially a Small or smaller one. Damage output is low too, but that’s not this thing’s focus.
Not a fan of you creating a new line in the statblock for Scrolls Consumed. It is rare that we alter a statblock in that way. It would have been better to put that information somewhere else.
Fun flavor for these things. Good ties to the Inner Sea region.
The spellscatter field ability is kinda rough. I’m not sure I like that it can penetrate barriers.
I wasn’t sure I’d like this one, but I think it has some fun uses with a little work.
The monster is urban and has a tie to Golarion. This entry wouldn’t take much time to develop for print.

I do recommend miscaster for advancement.

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

Hi Mikael! 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 Paizo.com.

Close to the homunculi, but not so close that it feels like a copy/paste, and flavorful abilities make it stand out from similar creatures. I can see some wails from players complaining about how it's eating the loot.

GM Usability
Scrolls consumed is in a weird spot, and it would have been better to define it as a special attack and just give it a flat damage depending on the spell level consumed. The spellscatter field feels awfully huge for such a creature of this size and CR, and placing it as an aura would work better, and just the failed spell chance would be plenty for this creature (not every ability has to do damage). Also not a fan of the ability penetrating barriers, but I could easily see myself using this creature in an adventure.

Excellent ties to the setting and tailor made for some hijinks in more populated areas.

Final Thoughts
I like it--a fun creature with easy to use mechanics. I do recommend this monster for advancement.

Construct egg with wings that eats scrolls and drinks potions? I like it! My primary concern is Spellscatter Field which seems too powerful for its CR, though.

Lantern Lodge

I keep getting an anime feel when I read the creature description.

Its like something you expect to see in a Final Fantasy game. :P

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

Hmmm...I think I like miscaster as a name, let's see where you go with it.

This sounds like one of those flying eyeball creatures from Final Fantasy from the read aloud text (not necessarily a bad thing)

A construct?! Go on...

Ok...I'm a fan. There's some odd phrasing and grammar issues but I love this Tiny flying construct of spell item eating and spell misfiring.

You made the keeper pile!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Mark D Griffin

I like this guy a lot, but Spellscatter Field definitely needs to get some kind of save or check or something. If Baba Yaga casts a spell within 60 feet of this thing, she should not have a 50% chance of it failing.

Recommend for advancement!

Shadow Lodge Star Voter Season 6

I'll just say one thing here because it's the kind of thing that's so rarely said - I actually agree with how you added Scrolls Consumed where you did, even though it's not the norm.

It's a good exception to the rule, and that's exactly the first place a GM would want to see it.

I don't know if that kind of thing would cause havoc with spreadsheets/databases - that would be the only reason not to do it that way, but there's no way you could have known that, and not knowing that would mean being on the GM's side is your best option.

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

A tiny construct that eats magic and makes casters' spells blow up in their faces? Color me interested. A lot here is on the low end, but it is a construct, and a tiny one at that, and it has a lot of power concentrated in its special abilities.

Feast on Magic Items: Great ability. I know why Adam and Liz said not to modify stat blocks the way you did, but I also understand why you put the info there. Intuitively, it works. That might be okay for a particular miscaster in a particular encounter, but probably not for a Bestiary entry.

Spellscatter Field: Ouch. This gives a CR 3 monster the chance of killing spellcasters outright, with a better chance of doing so the higher level they are. If my 12th level evoker blew himself up due to a 50/50 chance monster ability he couldn't protect himself from or have some chance of preventing, I'd be a mite upset, especially if it was in the next room and I didn't know it. This could use some tweaking.

All in all, this is a strange little critter and I rather like it. Your Golarion lore gives it solid placement and rich soil to cultivate encounters using your monster. Good job.

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

Although I love anticaster tropes this creature is ridiculous looking, and shallow aesthete that I am I can't get past it.

I also agree with your formatting decision to place the Scrolls Consumed where you did. Good work! Thus are horizons extended and games given longevity. Spreadsheets and digital builders be damned.

I like the feasting on magic items, but then why no wands et al? I guess the low level of the critter cramps the ability. Perhaps a bigger Miscaster might be able to do this. Hopefully it has more than one eye and is not egg shaped.

I do not like the name of the creature, though it works for *part* of what it does.

Star Voter Season 7

Congratulations on making it past the first round.

As a lifelong GM, this kind of construct makes me giggle as I imagine all of the shocked expressions on the faces of players who are attempting to use scrolls or cast spells. "That flying egg just ate my scroll of magic missile and shot the spell at my barbarian? WHAT!!?"

Hee hee...

I agree that the spellscatter field needs to be further developed, but I like what you did here, and you have my vote.

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

The Good: Good GM utility if the pary is using consumables too often.
The Bad: once it uses it's consumed magic it is useless in a fight aside form annoyance.
The Ugly: hit points so low that maybe my "bad" isn't going to matter.
Overall: 8/10 its not perfect but there's enough mojo to make me vote for it.

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

I loved this. Itty bitty construct, magical pest, flying egg. And then I hit spellscatter and that killed it for me. Maybe it's unfair to let the entire entry be unhinged by one ability, so I'll come back and re-evaluate before voting, but giving all arcane casters in the vicinity a harder time casting their spells than if they'd all decided to wear full plate that morning- and damage them on top of that- just goes way over the 'fun design' line for me.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6 aka Transylvanian Tadpole

Hmmm. Hopefully it's just one of those parallel development things, but this immediately struck me as very similar to Ed Greenwood's Wingless Wonder, which I think apprars in the Menzoberranzan 2nd ed boxed set.

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

So we have an intelligent construct who's only motivation seems to be to eat scrolls and potions. Right off the bat, this doesn't work well for me - it seems that it should either be non-intelligent and driven by programming to seek out and eat magic, or intelligent enough to have more going on with it's motivations. Would it ally with a spellcaster who feeds it every few days so it won't die?

Speaking of which, who would make something like this, when a) it's not controlled by its creator, and it's likely to starve to death after a few days of messing with people. It would make more sense to have it lose it's spellscatter ability if it hasn't consumed magic in 5 days. Speaking of which, where's the construction section? That's a pretty much required section for a construct that you specifically call out as being created by spellcasters.

This just didn't work for me, as a concept, in addition to agreeing that the spellscatter was far too overpowered with both it's range, effect, and inability to make a save, concentration check, or other way to negate.

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

Mark D Griffin wrote:
If Baba Yaga casts a spell within 60 feet of this thing, she should not have a 50% chance of it failing.

Sure, try telling that to the secret Irrisen resistance and their Miscaster Mines!

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

I must say that the description really caught my attention in a good way. I also think that arcane casters should have their own specialized version of the rust monster to inspire terror in their players. Like the rust monster, I'd only want to use this sparingly, though.

I like the Golarion-centric origin for the miscaster, but I'm not sure why any wizard in his or her right mind would create one, since the miscaster has a strong chance of backfiring on its creator. Then again, some wizards are not exactly in their right minds.

Overall, I'm considering voting for the miscaster, and I wish you luck in this round.

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

Congratulations Mikael,
Though voting is over, I still have a couple to comment on & trying to keep it simple to get through them quickly.
Creative: yes, spellcasters main threat comes from their lack of hp, but now they have something else to fear. This will affect their offense without outright killing them and that is a great niche.
Fun to GM: since scrolls and potions work differently I would prefer them being two abilities, except that destroying a potion is actually just using a potion (I can see why the elixer was included) It might have enough hp to surive a round of casting as well.
Golarion Tie: cutthroat mages in the Acadamae & Arcanamirium? well done!

Good luck! :)

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8

Hi everyone!

Thank you so very, very much for your critiques and for those of you who voted for me. I'm truly honored to have made it this far into the competition!

Having never played any of the Final Fantasy games, I was surprised to see how closely my description matched up to an actual monster from that series (thank you, Google Images). I looked up Ed Greenwood's wingless wonder and could definitely see some parallels there as well. I started playing in 3.5, so I hadn't heard of that monster before, but it's funny how such similarities in both designs.

As for the spellscatter field, I agree that there were some oversights on my part. I was operating under the assumption that arcane spellcasters, once made aware of the field's effects (either through Knowledge [arcana] or trial and error), might find themselves relying on school powers, bloodline powers, hexes, eidolons, or melee/ranged weapons (in the case of magi, bards, etc.). I hadn't considered that the level of the spell might kill a spellcaster outright (considering the CR is low enough that the most backlash damage would be 3d6 from a 3rd-level spell), but I suppose it could certainly happen, especially if already wounded. In retrospect, maybe I could have limited the chance of backfire to spells under a certain level or below a certain caster level, so that Baba Yaga might have a fighting chance against one of these guys. ;)

I had hoped to include construction details as well, but limited as I was with the word count and on account of my unwillingness to abandon this little guy, I had to give it up as a non-essential for what I wanted to do in this round of the competition.

I'm very happy that so many of you liked my entry for this round and I'm grateful for feedback, all of which was helpful and constructive.

Thanks again!


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