Dread Eater

Round 2: Create a Bestiary entry

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 aka Thanos Maximo

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With a sinister laughter that echoes through the empty street, this deformed little humanoid comes out of a dark corner, its bloodshot eyes wide open and its horrifically large mouth deformed in the mockery of a grin.

Dread Eater CR 2
XP 600
CE Small fey
Init +3; Senses darkvision 120 ft., low-light vision; Perception +11

----- Defense -----
AC 17, touch 14, flat-footed 14 (+3 Dex, +3 natural, +1 size)
hp 13 (3d6+3)
Fort +1, Ref +6, Will +4
DR 5/cold iron

----- Offense -----
Speed 30 ft., climb 20 ft.
Melee bite +5 (1d4 plus grab)
Special Attacks night terror, taste the fear
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 3rd; concentration +4)
At will—ghost sound (DC 12)

----- Statistics -----
Str 10, Dex 17, Con 11, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 14
Base Atk +1; CMB +0; CMD 13
Feats Toughness, Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +9, Bluff +8, Climb +14, Escape Artist +9, Knowledge (local) +7, Perception +11, Stealth +13; Racial Modifiers +4 Perception, +4 Stealth
Languages Common, Sylvan

----- Ecology -----
Environment urban
Organization solitary, pair, or gang (3-6)
Treasure incidental

----- Special Abilities -----
Grab (Ex) a dread eater can use its grab attack against a foe up to one size category larger than itself.
Night Terror (Su) As a standard action, a dread eater con fill the mind of a target with terrifying visions. The target must succeed on a Will save (DC 13) or become shaken for 1d3+1 rounds, as illusions of shadowy monsters only the target can see appear out of nowhere and attack the target. This is a mind-affecting fear effect with a range of 30 feet. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Taste the Fear (Su) If a dread eater begins its turn with a shaken humanoid grappled with its bite attack, it may try to rend the target's soul and feed on the target's pain and fear. The target must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 13) or suffer 1d3 points of Wisdom damage. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Dread eaters are wretched fey who infest mortal settlements and prey upon unfortunate souls foolish enough to venture into the streets at night. They resemble small humanoids with thin, spindly limbs disproportionately long for their size, and pitch black skin which seems to shimmer dimly if exposed to light. Their mouths are filled with several rows of needle-like teeth, and stretch grotesquely around their faces and upward toward their ears, giving the illusion of a monstrous perpetual grin.

Cruel and sadistic to the extreme, dread eaters sustain themselves as much on flesh as on fear and despair. After choosing a victim, they stalk their target, waiting for the right moment to strike. Only when their prey is most vulnerable they reveal themselves and make swift use of their fear-inducing ability, devouring the terrified victim moments later. Packs of dread eaters are especially vicious, as their natural abilities make them extremely effective at ganging up on a common target, a tactic the vicious fey are ready to adopt with glee.

The dread eater's peculiar appearance and hunting habits has led scholars to hypothesize a connection between their race and the Shadow Plane, and possibly with the enigmatic fey lord Count Ranalc, one of the Eldest of the First World, exiled to the Shadow Plane in ages past. While such theories remain unsubstantiated, the simple fact documented sightings of dread eaters have dramatically increased since the siege of Absalom by the Archwizard Nex, when the Eldest allegedly disappeared, remains a disturbing coincidence.

Goblinworks Lead Game Designer

Hi Selka, 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.

The dread eater seems fine, but nothing really jumps out at me. It feels like something I've seen before, possibly because I read the agoravore first (while the two are very different in execution they're both fear using, Wisdom draining, urban fey) or because we've had several other “grapple and then I do terrible things to you,” monsters, of which this is the least interesting. The dread eater just didn't have any pizzaz or wow factor for me. The stats are perfectly serviceable and seem appropriate. I could see using a pack of them for enemies in an urban game, but I think I would pass them by more for monsters that excited me more.

So I'm going to rate this one 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 pretty sure this thing eats dread.

It’s AC is pretty high for a CR creature, and it’s hit points are low. That balances it out a bit, especially paired with DR.
That typo is going to haunt you, but it shouldn’t. I noticed it but skipped right past.
The special abilities are flavored well to match the monster, but they could use a tiny amount of tweaking.
I like sadistic cruel fey, so this is a pretty cool monster. It’s not super risky, but it does what it’s supposed to do. It’s urban and tied to the setting. It could use a cooler name.
The monster is urban and includes a tie to Golarion. This wouldn’t take much time to develop for print.

I don’t recommend dread eater for advancement.

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

Hi Selka! 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.

The name is evocative, but they don't actually eat dread...they eat flesh. (Unless flesh is dreadful?) I have visions of diminutive slendermen in my head, with needle-filled jaws--which if that's what you were going for, well done. Beyond that, nothing particularly wows me about it.

GM Usability
There are certain themes and genres that I've found over the years can be handled phenomenally or extraordinarily poorly. Fear-inducing creatures (particularly in horror-themed games) fall into this category, and this creature runs the risk of either being terrifying or laughable depending on how its presented. The abilities aren't terribly complex, but they're not memorable either.

Very strongly tied to the setting and some historical facts--looks like you did your homework on this front.

Final Thoughts
Really great backstory and origin, but underwhelming mechanically. I do not recommend this monster for advancement.

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: =
Good save: +
Poor save: =

Low hp, but a high AC and DR to offset that disadvantage. For something with a mouth that big, I'd have upped the damage it does. Also, a buff to its grappling mechanics to assist in making its special abilities more effective seems necessary.

Flavor-wise, this monster has a lot going for it. There's a good tie-in to the shadow plane and it gives off a really creepy vibe. Not sure about giving it the fey type; this strikes me as more of an aberration, but you've grounded it firmly so I can work with it just fine.

Mechanically, it needs work. If its primary ability is to feed off the fear of grappled opponents, then it needs to be able to grapple them. With a +0 CMB that's not going to happen often against a group of PCs in an encounter, which just leaves it doing an average of 2 hit points a round with no other effects. That's not much of a threat at CR 2. An expansion of its primary attack abilities is much needed to really make this monster a worthy opponent.

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

Mmmmm....the word Dread is cool and Eater can be cool but the name just kind of makes me roll my eyes at first read.

Statblock looks ok but not super interesting.

Grab a Medium or smaller creature...ok.

Night Terror is cool...but only shaken? Would have been even cooler if it did frightened or worse at night time.

Super specific case on Taste the Fear but I JUST ran a Rise of the Runelords encounter

with an ability kind of like this so I dig it.

Overall there's nothing too terribly exciting about this creature. I think the concept you wanted to go for would have been much better served at a higher CR and an Illusionist wizard could do much of the same ambiance this creature serves.

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

Like I said in the bogle entry, there's already plenty of fear-themed fey out there, but there's still plenty of room to create something new and exciting in. Unfortunately, this entry doesn't so much excite me.
I get the space you're creating in here; these guys are like gremlins 9movie Gremlins, not so much the Pathfinder ones) or the creepy little monsters from Are You Afraid of the Dark?; nasty little things that cackle from the shadows and slowly horrify you before moving in for the kill. But for all that, I'm not feeling the fear from this entry. Night Terror is a little bit too obvious a power, really; I can get that using a fear SLA might not have been an option, if you're wanting these creatures to simply produce shaken rather than frightened as a condition, but as it is it makes me wonder why have an ability like this when ranks in Intimidate would do just as well. Actually, this could have been a nifty ability if it somehow worked in conjunction with Intimidate (which is a skill I think these guys absolutely should have had.)
This is another entry where I don't think anything is bad, just average, and there's enough above-average entries out there already.

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

Dread Eater
The Good: Fey are cool, and I dig the skill array.
The Bad: The names are just not very good.
The Ugly: If you are going to name something the dread eater it had best eat things.
Overall: 3/10 No stand out bits of cool, can't vote for it.

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 there's nothing that's especially wrong with this entry, there's also not a lot that grabs me. Urban fey are cool, but this doesn't feel like an urban fey to me - it feels like a more generic bogeyman monster that hunts in cities, fey tend to have a connection to the natural world (or even the unnatural world if they've been corrupted somehow by evil or civilization), but this doesn't. In fact, it feels just like any other fear producing monster, and while you've given a few evocative named abilities, they really don't do anything new or exciting.

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

The descriptive flavor text sets the mood for this creature right away. You also did a great job of applying Golarion lore to this creature's origins.

I wish this creature had more to set it apart from many other fey with this MO.

Good luck in the voting!

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

Congratulations Selka,
Though voting is over, I still have a couple to comment on & trying to keep it simple to get through them quickly.
Creative: Seen tiny fear-mongers. The description of a death-shake targeting the soul is nice though.
Fun to GM: If there is a Pali in the party, not so much. Draining wis will be a twist for my players, but it won't go far. Is this grab different than the UM grab?
Golarion Tie: Well done, except for the hedging. The first world eldest tie is inspired.

Good luck! :)

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