Ammut, Bearer of Hearts


Round 2: Create a Bestiary entry

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6

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This creature combines the head of a crocodile, the torso of a lion, and the hindquarters of a hippopotamus. Slitted yellow eyes stare unblinkingly from behind its great jaws.

Ammut CR 3/MR 1
XP 800
LN Medium outsider (mythic, native)
Init +5; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +9
----- Defense -----
AC 15, touch 11, flat-footed 14 (+1 Dex, +4 natural)
hp 32 (3d10+16)
Fort +5, Ref +2, Will +4
Immune death effects, disease; Resist fire 10
----- Offense -----
Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +6 (1d4+3 plus grab), bite +4 (1d6+1)
Special Attacks devour heart, mythic power (1/day, surge +1d6), pounce
----- Statistics -----
Str 17, Dex 12, Con 15, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 17
Base Atk +3; CMB +6; CMD 17
Feats Alertness (M), Improved Initiative, Multiattack
Skills Disguise +9, Intimidate +9, Knowledge (history) +6, Knowledge (religion) +6, Perception +9, Sense Motive +9
Languages Ancient Osiriani
SQ alternate form
----- Ecology -----
Environment any urban
Organization solitary
Treasure incidental
----- Special Abilities -----
Alternate Form (Su) As a standard action, an ammut can assume the form of a Diminutive ankh-shaped talisman. It gains a +20 racial bonus on Disguise checks and functions as a ring of feather falling which occupies no item slot for any creature that carries it, but can take no actions except to resume its normal form as a standard action. If an ammut resumes its normal form while another creature is carrying it, it appears in the nearest unoccupied space and can attempt to trip that creature as a free action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

Devour Heart (Su) If an ammut pins a living opponent, it can pull out their still-beating heart by expending one use of mythic power as a swift action. If the creature succeeds on a DC 14 Fortitude save, it is staggered for 1d4 rounds as its heart melts through its chest and lurches back. If the creature fails its saving throw, the ammut devours their heart, inflicting 2d6 points of Constitution damage immediately and every round it maintains the grapple. The creature's heart can be retrieved by ending the grapple or with a successful disarm or steal combat maneuver, but the creature continues to take 1 point of Constitution damage per round until its heart is replaced. This operation takes a DC 20 Heal check made as a full-round action to cut open the creature's chest cavity, followed by any amount of magical healing to reattach its still-beating heart. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Ammuts are spirits created by ancient Osirian god-pharaohs and interred with mummies to shepherd their souls to the afterlife. By absorbing the weight of sin carried in the pharaohs' hearts, their souls would be free to ascend to paradise. Perhaps several dozen survive to this day, scattered throughout cities where Osirion's relics are sold. Most Osiriontologists are unaware the ankh talismans are anything more than minor arcane trinkets, for nearly all have fallen into slumber over the long centuries. When an ammut reawakens (usually by exposure to sinful activities inherent in cities), it is enraged to find itself separated from the pharaoh whose soul it was created to protect. Such an ammut embarks on a rampage of destruction, slaying all beings it deems evil. Characters who return the guardian spirit to its pharaoh, however, earn its eternal gratitude: such an ammut may even bestow the power of Osirion's god-kings upon a good-aligned character who it deems sufficiently worthy, imbuing her with mythic power.

Goblinworks Lead Game Designer

Hi Calder, 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.

Wow, that's a cool backstory. And who doesn't love ripping the hearts out of people! While possibly harsh for it's CR, what with the heart ripping and all, it's CMB isn't terrible so getting a pin easily seems unlikely. The means to put the heart back does seem a bit underwhelming; cutting open a person to put a heart back does no damage and is only DC 20? I'm assuming since the devouring of the heart does no actual hit point damage this is a magical process, so why not use something similar to get it back in rather than a really odd use of the Heal skill? Like the Kaliswyrm, I could see using this for a great murder mystery adventure when heartless bodies of sinners begin turning up with no explanation.

I'm listing this one as a Should Vote For.

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

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Hi Calder! 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
Nice nod to Egyptian mythology with the ammut, and I can see it working very well with the Mummy's Mask Adventure Path. Your initial descriptive paragraph feels like you're trying to brain-dump a bunch of background information and could be tightened up to eliminate some extraneous details. Pretty awesome set of abilities though, and you managed to capture the feel of the source material quite well.

GM Usability
Oh ho ho. Daring to dip the toes into mythic waters... Gutsy! Not sure this creature is a mere CR 3/MR 1 though, especially given its origins and purpose in Egyptian mythology. I do have some concerns regarding its alternate form... Any Osirionologist worth their salt is going to have somebody who can detect magic available at all times. How does the ammut appear? I personally would have taken a page from the raktavarna's ability that's somewhat similar to what you had in mind.
That devour heart ability... Ouch. I really adore the idea and visuals with it, but I don't think the mechanics you've provided support it very well.

Setting
Osirion is a natural place of origin for your creature, and it's a given. I would have liked to have seen more creativity in this area, as I think the idea of a guardian creature for the afterlife would get the Pharasmin Seal of Approval(TM), and could easily appear elsewhere in the Inner Sea (and beyond).

Final Thoughts
Incredibly flavorful creature, but a little shaky on balancing the mechanics for the stated CR and MR. I do recommend this monster for advancement, but with some hesitation.

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!

Since I’m currently developing monsters for the Mummy’s Mask Adventure Path, I’m well aware of Ammut. I’m worried how something of that magnitude is going to be represented CR 4 or lower.

Going the mythic route. Interesting and possibly risky twist. I admire your guts. I also want to add that I’m separating this ammut from any possible ammut that may or may not already be in upcoming products.
Outsider is a good choice for creature type, but Medium seems small for something like Ammut.
The trip attack thing on the alternate form seems tacked on, but I like the rest of the ability.
The rules language in the special abilities is rough and unclear in some places. Devour heart is especially dense.
I like that their tie to cities is that they resemble relics.
How did the ancient Osirians create outsiders? That seems weird. I think that this creature would have been better with a different name. You could have related them to Ammut without making them a small version of Ammut. This may just be a personal opinion on it, but I don’t see Ammut less than CR 15.
I do like the mythic source tie-in at the end of the description. It suggests an adventure if not an encounter.
You worked in a tricky design space and made a cool monster, but it has a few rough spots.
This monster would take a bit of time to develop for print.

I don’t recommend ammut 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

Since the judges covered everything I would have said I can only say this is interesting and cool...for a much higher level. This feels like you had a creature already written up for a much higher CR and then just dialed it back to fit the rules.

I like Mythic and I tip my hat to you for trying it. It just didn't help at this level and with the concept you chose.

Overall I can't vote for this because the mechanics choices and with how it doesn't feel like it fits the CR.


Hi Calder!

With the upcoming Mummy's Mask, I'm on a bit of an Osirion high lately, so that was a good choice for a venue for your monster!

I tend to look at the mechanics over more things, and I see a few mechanical and game-use difficulties.

  • Alternate Form - this ability is well standardized to grant a +10 bonus to disguise. Setting it at +20 seems needlessly complicated.
  • Devour Heart - the writing is somewhat unclear, particularly "its heart melts through its chest and lurches back". Also the ability is troublesome in general, as it should (and probably will) mean instant death - yet it 'only' deals 2d6 con damage for eating a creature's heart.
  • Claws and Bites - unlike 3.5, these are both primary attacks and should be at full attack bonus and full strength damage. This also means the Multiattack feat is unnecessary.
  • Grab - CMB should be notated as "+6 (+10 grapple)" due to this ability.

Your visuals and backstory are interesting and well-written. If you continue in the contest, I recommend a little more effort on the mechanics. Unfortunately, the issues above will not allow me to vote for your monster.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

Points for moxie.

Sovereign Court Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

This monster is begging to be the center of a one-shot or a PFS scenario. Excellent work!

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

There's a number of unfortunate choices made here.
The name of the entry drew my attention in right away; unfortunately, it wasn't in a good way. Giving your monster a 'title' just comes off as trying too hard. An often repeated bit of advice when designing for the contest is 'look at existing equivalent stuff in the various books'. No bestiary monster immediately comes to mind that gets pimped out in the name; you should have avoided that here.
And, I realize this will be beating a dead horse, but yeah, the mythological ammut is definitely not a CR4 monster. It has a primary function in the afterlife and is hand-fed by a god. It should not have much to fear from a party that's just learned to cast 2nd level spells and do 2d6 sneak attack damage. I do respect that you tried to represent that via its mythic rank, but that just doesn't quite do it for me.
And I'm not really feeling the signature ability of heart-ripping. Having the heart just phase out through the chest is... weird. And it's way too strong a potential insta-kill (yes, it's not a save-or-die, exactly, but 2d6 con damage at this level might as well be.) Which, to belabour the point, would be better placed on a higher CR monster.
I respect your efforts, but I don't see myself voting for this. Best of luck, because your round 1 item was awesome and it would be nice to see you continue.

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7

You took a risk where others seemed to play save. Your monster is cool and flavorful and the rough edges are, imho, offset by your guts.

I think that the 2nd round is there to reward taking risks, though the final rounds are not, so if you make it (which I hope) you need to up your rules-fu.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

I agree with all the above. I love Ammut, I like mythic, but this feels like 'baby ammut', a creature that should be way more powerful.

Also, I don't really buy the tie in to cities. Sure, they can be mistaken as common ankhs, and they might be picked up and sold, and cities tend to make them crazy. That doesn't make them urban.

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

I agree with almost all of Sean McGowan's critiques. Especially giving it a specific/personal name...

Regardless of real world myhology the combination of those creatures (lion, hippo and crocodile) smacks of one of those kids books divided into three sections that allow you to make random bizarre crocliohippos, elegirpards or kancuszelles.

Also: I don't see going mythic as "brave". It's a design call. Fair enough - you like the mythic stuff - good for you. It won't make me not vote for it if the creature intrigues me.

Grand Lodge Marathon Voter Season 7

I'm in agreement with the others on the CR. It feels like you took a CR 15 or so monster, stripped off several abilities, and dropped the DCs of the ones you left in so that you could get it down to the round's CR restrictions. I'm not a great big fan of a CR 3/MR 1 monster bestowing mythic ranks, either, and I have a hard time seeing it able to embark on a rampage of destruction when most villages in Golarion have sufficient resources to slay it.

EDIT: If it were described as, say, a "fractured portion of Ammut's essence," I'd have a much easier time accepting it.

All that aside, I feel like I can "see the developer underneath" the monster, and I am very likely going to vote for you to advance to the next round. I've really enjoyed your item and monster submissions' mojo, and would like to see you continue.

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

Congratulations Calder,
I am trying to keep reviews simple to get through them quickly.
Creative: I like the ammmut angle, and eating of the heart could have worked, but I found it complicated.
Fun to GM: a heart-eater would be cool. But the mechanics of it are convoluted. Especially returning it. Alternate form is meh for me.
Golarion Tie: Golarion has a tradition of real-world myths turned generic critter. Osiron is an obvious link,
Good luck! :)


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

Everything looks good except for saves. A mythic creature with low saves just strikes me as wrong. As it turns out, the monster has one less hit die than recommended for its CR, which is the reason the saves are low for its CR.

Alternate Form: Interesting.

Devour Heart: Having one's heart remove without it being an instant kill just seems like too much for suspension of disbelief. This is a power that shouldn't be attached to a CR 3 creature.

I'm in agreement that this sounds like too big a concept crammed into too small a package. This thing is screaming for a more powerful treatment. The choice to make something that is part crocodile, part lion, and part hippo a Medium creature is indicative of this forced treatment. If you had been given a wider range of CRs to work with, I've no doubt you could have turned this into a fearsome beast, but within the strictures of the contest this design just doesn't work for me.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Demiurge 1138

I've given this round a lot of thought. I've read over all of the monsters, done some deliberation, and come to my conclusions. That said:

This entry is gutsy. Making a mythic creature, and one based on a classical mythological creature no less, is pretty daring. The Minotaur, the Medusa and the Hydra were once all unique creatures, so why not an ammut? Points for chutzpah.

Unfortunately, the entry falls apart in the clutch. Although it is daring to slot the Eater of Damned Hearts who sits at the feet of the gods itself at a CR 3, it doesn't really work. The fact that it can eat your heart at a CR seems indicative of that. And the heart eating mechanic doesn't work conceptually well, either. It phases the heart out magically? Having your heart removed doesn't straight up kill you? The heart can be surgically restored without doing any damage to the victim? This fails the suspension of belief test, even for a game as crazy as Pathfinder.

The "transforming into an ankh" ability feels shoehorned in. It strikes me as an excuse to make this an "urban creature". And the fact that it can, according to the flavor text, bestow mythic tiers? Weird. And if it's LN, why does it favor Good creatures with that particular gift?

This entry shot for the moon, but in my opinion didn't make it. It's messy and confused where it should be brash and exciting. I will not be voting for this entry. Best of luck!

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Steven T. Helt

I am on the fence. I want to reward a designer that swings big, but a mighty swing has to connect. I have to feel "if he'd just gotten to the ball on time, it was going yard".

In this case, I feel the single mythic tier and low CR don't do the concept justice, nor do they honor the mythological origin of the creature. Imagine a CR 5 Charybdis or CR 6/m1 Jabberwock.

The tie in to Golarion is a little obvious and not really uniquely urban. He could be underground. He could be in any single structure isolated by any other terrain. I'd like to see a more specific Osirion tie-in. Another good practice is to ignore the obvious Osirion connection and give the ammut a connection to a similar culture.

Good luck next round.

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

I wasn't familiar with the Ammut, but looked it up as soon as I saw the "bearer of hearts" tag in the title. While it's an honorable attempt to translate into the restrictions of this round, I felt you forced it.

As others have said, the mythological Ammut simply isn't a CR 4 creature, nor is it really an urban one. This feels like you wanted to write up the Ammut, then saw the CR and environment restrictions and tried to retro-fit your monster into those requirements. Unfortunately, the CR doesn't do the abilities you gave it or the mythological source justice, and your alternate form into an ankh feels tacked on to justify why it would be urban rather than extra planar or just in tombs or something.

Great chutzpah, but I feel this is 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

Ammut, Bearer of Hearts
The Good: You have guts to go mythic, hats off for that.
The Bad: DC 14 for what amounts to a save or die.
The Ugly: Mythic beings that early don't jibe for me.
Overall: 7.5/10 This is on the bubble I might vote for this, though it is far off from a no brainer.

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

The name for this creature led me to believe that this was supposed to be a high-CR creature, so kudos for giving it a mythic rank, which gives it a reason to have a unique name. You gave it a strong Golarion tie, and it makes absolute sense that one would encounter this in Osirion.

However, other than the hiding-in-talisman angle, this entry didn't convince me that it belongs in an urban environment. It seems more appropriate in a tomb.

Good luck in the voting!

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