Imposter Maw

Round 2: Create a Bestiary entry

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka michaeljpatrick

A figure lunges out from the darkness. Its mouth opens impossibly wide- so wide that the flesh disturbingly peels away to uncover a hideous visage. The revealed face is dominated by a massive gaping mouth full of predatory teeth
Imposter Maw CR 3
XP 800
NE Medium Monstrous Humanoid
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +4

----- Defense -----
AC 15, touch 12, flat-footed 13 (+3 natural, +2 Dex)
hp 32 (4d10+12)
Fort +6, Ref +5, Will +3
----- Offense -----
Speed 30 ft.
Melee bite +6 (1d10+2 plus grab)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks swallow whole (2d8+5 damage, AC 11, 3 hp)
----- Statistics -----
Str 14, Dex 14, Con 16, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 6
Base Atk +4; CMB +6 (+10 grapple); CMD 18
Feats cleave, great cleave
Skills Disguise +7, Intimidate +5, Perception +4, Stealth +4
Languages Common
SQ change shape (human, alter self)
----- Ecology -----
Environment any urban
Organization solitary or pair
Treasure standard
----- Special Abilities -----
Change Shape(Su) As a standard action an imposter maw can assume the form of a non-specific human. In human form the imposter maw has all of its attributes except it lacks the bite attack and swallow ability.
Swallow Whole(Ex) Because of its oversized mouth an imposter maw can only swallow an opponent of medium size or smaller. Only one creature may fit in the imposter’s stomach at a time. It takes one day to fully digest a medium sized opponent.

Imposter maws are ravenous carnivores who hunger most of all for human flesh. To satisfy their cravings they hide in plain sight within human settlements and wait for opportunities to prey on the weak and the vulnerable. Imposter maws are primarily solitary and keep to themselves even if they live in a community. Occasionally one will settle in a quiet village or a poor, run down neighborhood of a large city. For cover the imposter will take on an unassuming profession. Some have been known to prey on a populous for years without suspicion. More frequently the imposter maw will adopt a nomadic lifestyle and travel from town to town leaving no more behind them than a trail of missing persons.

The imposter maw lures its victim to a secluded spot then reveals its true form before attacking. In some instances a mated pair will hunt in unison. An imposter will almost never attempt to take on more than one opponent at a time. If faced with a superior force the imposter maw will generally flee into a crowd if possible, disguised as an ordinary human. Its first priority is to avoid detection by all means. Its second is to feast on human flesh.

In human form the imposter maw dresses in plain clothes and adopts a mild manner so as not to draw attention to itself. When revealed its hideous face is usually gray but sometimes a blotchy mauve. The skin of the imposter maw is tough, smooth, and leathery. The eyes are black and shark-like.

The origin of this terrible creature is greatly debated. Some sages hypothesize that the imposter maw’s stomach opens into a nondimensional space like a bag of holding. This would imply a magical or extra-planar origin. Others suggest it is the result of a curse similar to lycanthropy.

Goblinworks Lead Game Designer

Hi Michael, 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.

This monster just sort of leaves me cold. It's stats seem perfectly functional, but urban hunter is something we've seen several times in this contest and it's been done better. The background of the imposter maw is not particularly interesting, detailed, or tied to Golarion. While I like the idea of a married pair of these beasties snacking their way across the countryside, that's really the only time I could see using this monster considering the other more interesting creatures that could serve the same purpose.

Nothing really jumps out at me in the stats; they all seem reasonable. It does seem like the imposter maw is one of the more fun straight up fight monsters in the contest.

Still, I'd have to give it 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’m going to guess it’s a mouth that pretends it’s something else.

Monstrous humanoid isn’t capitalized
“out from the darkness” doesn’t really belong in the descriptive line.
Didn’t italicize alter self. Keep yourself focused on getting the formatting right going forward in the competition.
Didn’t capitalize Medium when talking about size.
All of its ability scores are even. There should be three even and three odd.
It’s kinda weird that a Medium creature can fit another Medium creature in its belly, but I guess that helps make it weird and monstrous. I don’t like the wishy-washy explanation at the end of the flavor text. Don’t hide information from the GM.
These guys are basically hungry serial killers, at least, that would be a role for them in an adventure.
This is a fine monster all in all, it’s just not striking me. Even though it is urban, it doesn’t really have any ties to Golarion. This would take some time to develop for print.

I don’t recommend imposter maw for advancement.

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

Hi Michael! 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

A good opening description, but on but it kinda feels like a reskinned mimic, especially with its "unspecified human" change shape ability. Its name makes me look for an emphasis on its bite, but that's not there.

GM Usability
A monstrous humanoid? Why not an aberration, particularly with its ability to swallow creatures of its own size? Its Disguise check seems low for its intended purpose of looking like something else--Deceitful or Skill Focus would have been a good feat selection here. With bite damage like it has, I'm wondering why you didn't give it a feat that really lets it emphasize damage against a single target, instead of attacking another target in reach. I mean, it can only fit so much in its stomach, why give it an ability to take down multiple foes at once? Also, your creature requires Power Attack for Cleave, which is not listed in the statblock.

While urban, there's nothing tying it to the setting itself. The imposter maw would have fit in well as an urban denizen from Tian Xia, as a native outsider with the oni subtype.

Final Thoughts
Not mechanically sound enough to make up for its lacking flavor. I do not recommend this monster for advancement.

Dark Archive

I love the (implied) visual of someone sweeping back their hood or hair to reveal that it's got no face at all, just a yawning maw full of teeth that distends impossibly to swallow someone of it's own size.

Aberration seems to fit more than monstrous humanoid, 'though.

I didn't have a lot of time for item reviewing this weekend, so I'll do 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 Atk: n/a
High Dmg: --
Low Dmg: n/a
Primary Ability DC: n/a
Good save: =
Poor save: +

Adam already addressed the stylistic and formatting issues, so I'll leave those alone. I'm liking the visuals. This is similar to the dread eater entry. Again I'm wondering if this shouldn't be an aberration. Its abilities are more geared toward creepy weirdness, especially being able to swallow something its own size. Stats are about right for its CR. It's melee damage is under par, but balanced by the damage dealt with the swallow whole ability. Unlike the dread eater, this monster is mechanically geared toward making the most of its special ability.

Here I'm seeing a general lack of flavor, especially when it comes to fitting the monster into the Golarion setting. I've got no way to anchor the creature there as opposed to anywhere else. Rather than giving me the creature of mysterious origins, I'd rather have something concrete that grounds the creature and lets me know where it fits in, to help me as a GM by giving me ideas on how to effectively use it in my Golarion game.

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

Ok...the name has my attention.

Aside from a little bit of awkward phrasing you still have me after the read aloud text.

Whew...1d10 bite...kinda cool and makes sense for an oversized walking mouth.

Grab and Swallow Whole...I hope you modify Swallow Whole to allow same size.

2d8 base Swallow Whole damage?

Yikes, Cleave AND Great Cleave. Parties beware!

Something is starting to strike me as off about the offensive capabilities.

Change Shape! Cool but not necessarily a right fit. Because they should look like humanoids when their mouth is closed anyway.

"prey on a populous for years" Population?

Overall you've got a fun cool idea...but you are all over the place on the mechanical design and it's just not quite there in terms of mojo.

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

Sort of bland flavor, and while there is nothing in the rules stopping you from cleaving with a bite attack, I don't think it really fits with what a cleave is.

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

The whole bit with the face peeling back to reveal a huge toothy mouth kind of reminds me of the leviathan monsters from the show Supernatural. That's not a knock; it's a seriously creepy image (which was undermined on said show by increasingly poor writing, but that's neither here nor there...) So that got my attention, in a positive way.
I like the extradimensional swallow whole angle, and I think this would have been a stronger entry if you'd played that up a bit more, instead of waffling with the 'sages speculate' bit. (Like I've said on a couple of other entries at this point, playing obscure in a monster entry is not the best choice.)
In the end, though, this doesn't really excite me. It's a hungry doppelganger with a big mouth. I need more of a reason to be from my monsters than 'they like to eat people'. Lacking that, this drifts down towards average for me.

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

Imposter Maw
The Good: Like the description
The Bad: How can you cleave on a bite with grab
The Ugly: the medium creature swallowing whole isn't going to have many victims.
Overall: 4/10- What did you invent here? I'm not seeing even a variation of a special ability.

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 loved the visual of a medium humanoid distending it's mouth to swallow a medium prey, and extra-dimensionally swallow it, the rest of the monster didn't live up to the premise.

Aside from the feats not really meshing with it's combat tactics, the maw doesn't really present any new abilities, which is part of what I look for in the Superstar monster rounds. Also, it's entire methodology of living among the population for years in an unassuming profession screams that it should have ranks in the Profession skill so it can actually pull that off.

I also agree with many others that this should be an aberration, not monstrous humanoid, and that you shouldn't have been wishy washy about how it came to be. Finally, there's really no Golarion tie, just generic urban.

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

Love the name. Very evocative. And I like the bite damage on this, but that's about it. Feels like a mimic with human-hunger. And that just feels way too specific.

And populous should be populace.

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

I like the idea of a carnivorous doppelganger with more base desires than the doppelganger. It makes for an interesting encounter, a la The Thing, where the party must discover the killer who blends in with the rest of the people in a settlement.

I think its intelligence should be lower to fit the concept, and there's no tie to Golarion (which you had ample opportunity to provide when you discussed its origins).

Good luck in the voting!

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

Congratulations Michael,
Though voting is over, I still have a couple to comment on & trying to keep it simple to get through them quickly.
Creative: not really, A big mouth & swallows whole. going for the medium was a good choice, but not hitting out of the park. I will give kudos to the back-story that really fleshed out this critter.
Fun to GM: swallow hole is, but I can only use it on one PC at a time, so this will be a one shot.
Golarion Tie: Nope and 'mostly nomadic' takes out the urban. The 'sometimes' takes up a profession would have been better and again shows how much the back story supports the critter.

Good luck! :)

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