Living Drug, Shiver


Round 2: Create a Bestiary entry

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6 aka Evil Paul

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Shivering in the cold, what appears to be a dirty and hooded beggar steps out from the shadows, casting aside its ragged cloak. What looks out is a horribly withered face, flesh sagging with sores and infection. Two inky black eyes leer from sunken cavities and where its mouth would be is a long curling tube puffing with smoke.

Living Drug, Shiver CR 2
XP 600
CE Medium aberration
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft., Perception +3

----- Defense -----
AC 16, touch 13, flat-footed 13 (+3 Dex, +3 natural)
hp 13 (3d8);
Fort +1, Ref +4, Will +4
Immune fear

----- Offense -----
Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +4 (1d4+1)
Special Attacks breath weapon, hallucinogenic dreams

----- Statistics -----
Str 13, Dex 16, Con 11, Int 6, Wis 12, Cha 12
Base Atk +2; CMB +3; CMD 14
Feats Improved Initative, Combat Reflexes
Skills Disguise +8, Perception +3; Stealth +6; Racial Modifiers +4 Disguise
Languages telepathy (60 ft., see below)

----- Ecology -----
Environment urban
Organization solitary or den (2-6)
Treasure incidental

----- Special Abilities -----

Shiver Cloud (Su) As a standard action once every 1d4 rounds, a living shiver can exhale a 10-foot cone of gaseous shiver through it’s hideous maw. Any creature that fails its save is immediately affected by shiver, as if ingested. The affected character will have to make an addiction check, as normal (see GameMastery Guide, page 236 ), however the wide dispersal of vapors provides a +4 bonus on this save.

Breath weapon—inhaled; 10-ft. cone; save Reflex DC 12; frequency usable every 1d4 rounds; effect special. The save DC is Charisma based.

Hallucinogenic Dreams (Su) A living shiver can communicate via telepathy but can only do so using vivid images which are plucked from the recipient’s memory. A living shiver can use it’s telepathy to attempt to bend the will of a sleeping subject within its telepathic range. This functions as a charm person spell (DC 12), except with a 24 hour duration. A target that succeeds at the save cannot be affected by that same living shiver’s hallucinogenic dreams for 24 hours. The save DC is Charisma based.

Unnatural Courage (Ex) A living shiver is immune to fear.

Since their discovery in Korvosa 4708 AR, scholars have theorized on what caused the creation of living drugs. Some believe them to be magical experiments gone awry, perhaps the results of illicit research at the Acadamae. Others believe them to be a self-evolving phenomenon, born as a manifestation of the corruption and vice within a city.

In combat, a living shiver prefers to ambush its prey, sending the unwary to sleep with its shiver cloud ability before finishing off those that remain using its claws. Once it has sent one or more people to sleep, it uses its hallucinogenic dreams ability to convince them to submit to future clouds of shiver, delighting in the spread of addiction and suffering.

Living shivers prey on the weak and the poor. They have few motives, other than to spread shiver dependence, hardship and ill.

Living shivers have been known to be manipulated by others, generally in promise of more victims. Ultimately though, they are capricious, with no sense of loyalty or consequences, and such agreements usually end in disaster.

Living shivers are but one form of living drug. There have been reported sightings of others such as living pesh, and the much more deadly living scour.

Goblinworks Lead Game Designer

Hi Evil Paul, 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.

An interesting idea, a living embodiment of a drug. Plus it has some interestingly short sighted goals and is willing to cooperate to reach them, making it a much more interesting monster. One of these teamed up with the right criminal organization could be a really interesting threat. I could even see various dens of illicit activity trying to capture and enslave these as an easy source of drugs, and then see their efforts unravel when the creature turns out to be more cunning than expected.

The stats are okay except for the capacity for it to sleep an entire party of characters for one to four hours with a single attack (and several failed saves, admittedly) that it can do every few rounds. This is mitigated by the fact that the shiver living drug is not interested in killing those it puts to sleep, but it still seems like a possibly frustrating set up since characters who fail the saves will be out for the entire fight.

I'd 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!

This one jumped out to me on the list because I knew it could be a risky design space. Let’s see.

Descriptive line is overly long and assumes far too much action.
You have breath weapon listed, but have it nested in a different ability in the special abilities section. Also, the way you have breath weapon italicized in the shiver cloud ability makes it looks like breath weapon is the name of the affliction instead of the delivery method.
You also call the creature a living shiver, which is different than the name at the top. It’s best to avoid doing that.
You don’t have to link in your entry.
There’s no such thing as an “addiction check”. Make sure you use proper rules terminology in rules sections.
The writing and mechanics could both use some work. This is an interesting idea, but I don’t think you quite hit the mark. I really hoped this one would have wowed me.
This is certainly urban and tied to Golarion. This would take a lot of time to develop for print.

I don’t recommend living shiver 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 Paizo.com.

Flavor
My immediate thought on reading the creature's name was wondering if this was going to be a play on living spells from Eberron, and hoped that it would be a new ooze creature. Alas, it is not, and it feels like it's trying to do too much. I'm trying to figure out how a creature (even an aberration) can use a crafted and created item (the drugs in question) beyond its original application with no limit and apparently self-replenishing, and it's a bit too much handwavium for me. (Yeah, I'm one of those folks that seeks a certain amount of reasonable explanation even in a magic-heavy setting.) Naturally occurring poison is one thing, but drugs are an entirely different animal, and there's a reason we have a separate rules subsystem to handle it.

GM Usability
Immunity to fear seems an odd choice, but given the creature's origin, it's certainly applicable. My question remains that if you're basing these creatures off existing drugs, what's the difference between the shiver and pesh living drugs? Pesh has different effects than shiver, and not providing this information when you've mentioned the variants seems a bit sloppy--doubly so for not mentioning the possibility that these other living drugs would have different stats. The creature's motivations feel lacking, and adding a detail like it requiring the drug much like we might require food, or a mechanic that intensifies the shiver cloud effect for addicts would make it much more interesting.

Setting
There's no ties to the shiver-producing spiders from Korvosa where the drug originated from (nor ties to pesh, which has an entire country *and* city named after it). It's certainly urban enough, but not tying this to the setting feels like a serious misstep.

Final Thoughts
An excellent concept for alchemists everywhere that does not live up in its execution. I do not recommend this monster for advancement.


I like the idea of living drug but I would more expect... Ooze? Or a humanoid transformed into a wretched aberration by magical drugs.

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

The name doesn't do it much for me. Living Shiver is fine...just not WOW.

The living drug concept is intoxicating to try and design...but it's extremely hard to pull of properly and especially in a lower CR range.

I find it odd that its melee attacks don't subject targets to the effects of the drug.

Overall, for much of the same reasons as the judges and my couple of additions I don't find this very well written and am unable to vote for this.

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

I give you some big props for the concept here- a living drug? The name alone really had me in anticipation.

I'm not quite sure you nailed the mechanics, though. The ooze suggestion is an interesting concept, though I think this might work better as a template (which wouldn't have been allowable under the rules, alas).

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

I like the concept, and it definitely feels like the starter for a whole range of Living Drug - xxx's. So I commend you for creating your own niche.

I like the two signature abilities conceptually, but the unnatural courage leaves me cold - it is really just a fear immunity.. which could have gone in the statblock. ;) I feel it could really have been replaced with something more dread and shiver-esque.

I think the judges have identified the weakness with this submission - I just wanted to comment on the parts I liked. Nice idea!

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

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I think this is an insanely cool idea. Back in 2010, I strongly considered the idea of a sentient disease as my monster entry for that round, so I certainly respect the design area you're working in here. Unfortunately, the executionleaves me with a lot of questions.
What exactly are these? Are they the risen bodies of shiver users that OD'd, who have been converted into a new creature by a magical or tainted batch of the drug? Are they a new form of life that spawned from a shiver processing den? Are they something else entirely? I think being cagey in your entry was a bad idea; 'scholars have theorized' is stuff that should be in an adventure background, not a monster entry. For a monster entry, tell us exactly what we're looking at and where it came from.
I do like the implication that this is an entirely new creature category (Living Drug, with various other sub 'races' like Living Pesh, Living Opium, etc.); that said, I can see why Adam and Liz got hung up on the way you used that information in your entry; it could have been presented a little more cleanly.
I'm not 100% sure where this falls for me yet; I still have a lot to read through, so I'll likely come back and re-evaluate later. It's got a dark horse chance at my vote just based on the idea, though.


This is a really interesting monster and one of the best I've seen so far. I like the idea of a kind of anthropomorphic personification of a problem in urban areas, both real and imagined. It's a little darker and grittier than you might expect and a brave choice indeed. For me, it's a stand out for its concept alone.

I'm running Curse of the Crimson Throne at the moment and this would fit in really well, so I'm definitely going to give it a go. It's threatening but not over-powered; the chances of an entire party failing a DC12 save and then failing on the D% are fairly low and if the worst happens, well it just adds a legitimate level of threat to the game!

Gets my vote!


This is fantastically well designed and written. I particularly like the ambush attack idea.

Dark Archive

I admire the stones it takes to design a monster that isn't just a monster, but a gateway drug (pun intended) to a whole new class of monsters (all sorts of living drugs). I've tried that sort of thing twice in the magic item round, but not made it past the gate. :)

That said, I'm not in love with the monster itself. I'd prefer it be a template applied to an addicted creature, that attempts to addict others and spread it's 'infection.' But this aint the place for templates, I suppose.


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

As it stands, the design for the living shiver is a bit of a glass cannon, except that the cannon doesn't pack much of a punch. Higher AC counters the lower hp--a bit--but then the DC for its abilities is lower than it should be for its CR. Just raising the Charisma two points would have gotten it where it needs to be, but higher DCs would be justified given that this monster, on the whole, just isn't very tough.

Shiver Cloud: It's not a cloud, it's a breath weapon. Cloud denotes a specific area of effect that this ability doesn't have. "Shiver breath" would have been accurate enough. Mechanics aren't together with this, and inclusion of links doesn't excuse lack of execution.

Hallucinogenic Dreams: This could have been much more than just a charm person effect. Control and influence of a deeper sort would have been good. Perhaps a suggestion from the dream to bring more victims to a place the living shiver could addict them at its convenience.

I find the idea behind a living drug inspired. It's a real fringe design space and I wish it had been run into full gonzo territory. Aberration works, I suppose, though I might have gone a little more alien with the appearance. Shiver is made from dream spider venom, so an arachnoid appearance would have made sense. Several posters keep going back to the template idea, and one wonders if that is what was originally intended, but then changed because of the "no templates" rule. The concept of a living drug spreading its taint through a city is a great hook for an encounter or adventure and I wish it had been delivered with greater detail and skill. It might have been better served making it a CR 4 encounter, which would have allowed more design space for better abilities and overall strength. Unfortunately, this offering won't be getting my vote.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Congrats on making the Top 32!

I'll echo another sentiment up-thread - I think you did a great job in creating a niche design space. I really like your monster. It does suffer from its own appeal, though.

Your monster is a very niche one that might not be welcomed or challenged in some groups. I think it is a very strong design choice in that it is bold and controversial, so kudos for taking that leap. It is one of those topical points that might turn some voters off. (Not me)

Despite some mechanical flaws, I really like what you did here. I felt it was too powerful for the CR range, but thought it would make an awesome daemon-type rather than an aberration.

Yes, a daemon. Good luck and thank you!


I like this concept a lot. This could be a lot of fun to play with my PCs. Getting them addicted and then fleeing the scene. I am always interested in reoccurring monsters and this one certainly has a nice dark side to it.

The scope for all of the other drugs is really cool and sparked my imagination as to what they would be like.

This one gets my vote.

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

Congratulations Iain,
I am trying to keep reviews simple to get through them quickly.
Creative: Not seen a living drug before, but we did have the ooze last year that folks got addicted too. Sending the narcotic via breath weapon is new to me, but I think a Fortitude save would be better than Reflex.
Fun to GM: I'm not sure what the creature would do after it drops someone asleep. If it attacks them it wakes them and then they are immune. Hallucigenic dreams is a plot device unless in combat, but charming a sleeping person at best lets the shiver leave unmolested. It will be scary (for my players) if everyone falls asleep on the first breath weapon, but that means everyone fails the save and that they do not become immune to fear. Too iffy to be dramatic.
Golarion Tie: the best I have seen yet. I am not crazy about the history lesson (full of theories-not facts a GM should have), but the inclusion of Pesh and Scourge completes the deal. Well done.

Good luck! :)

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

Great job with making up a new sub category of creature. The fact that you chose to make it living drug, shiver also creates an instant tie to Golarion, and also a niche of monsters to create for other drugs.

I had no problems with the mechanics of the monster, though agree unnatural courage could have been in the stat block as immunity fear to leave room for more of something else.

This would be a perfect partner for actual drug dealers in the game, as it creates customers for them.

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

Living Drug, Shiver
The Good: Nice description and I like the shiver tie in.
The Bad: Having your hero addicted to drugs isn't everyone's idea of a good time.
The Ugly: Nancy Regan put you up to this- admit it!
Overall: 6/10- Make this a variant smoke mephit and I might be sold. The monster before me is just not likely to gain my vote.

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

Shiver at least notionally ties into Golarion, and this is a creature I would expect to find in an urban environment. Your opening description is appropriately creepy, if overlong.

Good luck in the voting!

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

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

This is abit of a mixed message to me, one the pcs are fighting against drugs but two, as a parent, I am uncomfortable when drugs and fun are together, especially in our shared game. You made an incredibly brave choice to choose something so polarising of the public. Personally, i wont vote for this because my uncomfortable exceeds my desire to use this creature.

I also note that your item involved drinking liquid, now a monster that is drug based, and so could be conceived as following a theme in your entries. Please avoid drinking, eating, imbibing, etc in your encounter .

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka Cyrad

This initially sounded like an interesting idea. When I read the stats and the name, I pictured some kind of gaseous creature that possesses people and promises to cure their raving addiction unless they subject others to the drug. Unfortunately, it did not meet my expectations or wow me.

As for the subject of drugs in a game, I can picture such a creature being used for a campaign where the PCs try to crack down on drug dealers. Might not fit everyone's tastes, but it would make a good low level adventure.


Blew me away - great job.

I also think "Addiction Check" was clear, but Addiction Save might have been clearer. The only grey area, to me, in your entry is whether and when it actually feeds on victims (e.g. with its claws), instead of just mind controlling them. Perhaps when they make their charm save?

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