Filth Dragon

Round 2: Create a Bestiary entry

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8 aka Jrcmarine

6 people marked this as a favorite.

This small mottled brown and green dragon sits on a disheveled baby doll while snacking on a piece of discarded meat covered in maggots.

Filth Dragon CR 3
XP 800
NE Tiny Dragon
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., Scent; Perception +8
Aura stench (10 ft., DC 14, 5 rounds)
----- Defense -----
AC 18, touch 15, flat-footed 15 (+3 Dex, +3 natural, +2 size)
hp 31 (4d12+4)
Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +5
Immune disease, paralysis, sleep; SR 14
Weaknesses light sensitivity
----- Offense -----
Speed 10 ft., fly 30 ft. (average), swim 30 ft.
Melee bite +4 (1d4-1)
Space 3 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks breath weapon, distraction (Fort DC 14 negates)
Spells Known (CL 4th; concentration +6)
2nd (4/day) – detect thoughts
1st (7/day) – charm person, interrogation, ray of sickening
0 (at will) – arcane mark, mage hand, mending, message, open/close
----- Statistics -----
Str 8, Dex 17, Con 14, Int 16, Wis 14, Cha 16
Base Atk +3; CMB +4; CMD 14
Feats Cosmopolitan, Persuasive
Skills Bluff +10, Fly +7, Intimidate +12, Knowledge (local) +10, Linguistics +7, Perception +10, Sense Motive +7, Spellcraft +7, Swim +15
Languages Common, Aklo, Draconic
SQ water breathing
----- Ecology -----
Environment city/urban
Organization solitary or clan (2-7)
Treasure standard
----- Special Abilities -----
Breath Weapon (Su) A 5ft. swarm of tiny maggots (1HD) is exhaled up to 10ft. away from the filth dragon. The breath weapon possesses all swarm traits, except as noted in this description. The swarm can immediately attack any creature in the space which it forms, dealing 1d3 damage. Creatures standing in the space where the swarm forms make a Ref save DC 14 to negate this attack. They must also make a Fort save DC 14 or become sickened for 1 round. A filth dragon can use this breath weapon once every 1d4 rounds. The swarm continues attacking for 3 rounds before dispersing. The save DC is Constitution-based. This breath weapon may be empowered using feats.
Spells A filth dragon casts spells as a 4th-level sorcerer.

Filth dragons are cunning collectors of trash and information. Skulking in the sewers below the major cities of the Inner Sea, they accumulate the discarded detritus of people’s lives for bargaining, blackmail and trade. Those adventurers who encounter the reclusive filth dragon discover a treasure trove of local knowledge.

Filth dragons are cautious yet friendly toward potential clients seeking information. In combat filth dragons attempt to subdue an enemy relying on their breath weapon, distraction ability, and spells.

Filth dragons primarily eat the refuse found in trash, feasting on rotten vegetables, eggshells, and any other discarded food item. They will also eat rats, fish, and insects. They have a particular fondness for rotten meat which provides both sustenance and defense.

Filth dragons are eclectic hoarders, possessing everything from a gold candlestick to a dented watering can. The lair of a filth dragon is a dam, comprised of accumulated trash piled on top of collected sewer muck, usually near a stagnant pool of water in the filthiest portions of the sewers. This dam possesses the stench quality (15ft., DC 14). Filth dragons store rotten food inside these “dams” to harvest maggots for nutrition and to fuel their breath weapon. Filth dragons usually live in small clans of 2 -7 dragons consisting of a mated pair and their offspring, although larger families of filth dragons do exist in larger cities.

It is rumored the filth dragons of Cassomir often exchange information with the derro of Corgunbier and facilitate a large portion of the humanoid slave trade there.

Goblinworks Lead Game Designer

Hi James, 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'm a sucker for monsters you can talk to and reason with, so the filth dragon has a leg up there. I like the idea of the disgusting information source, especially one that can be a friendly, family-oriented disgusting information source. I'd love to use one of these as a contact in a urban campaign where the players hate having to deal with it because it's really gross, but they have to in order to get the information they need.

The spell resistance seems a bit much for the CR, but considering the limited combat ability of the monster otherwise I don't think it's terrible.

I'm putting this one down as a Should Vote For.

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

Hi James! 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

It's like the scruffy unwashed cousin of fairy dragons (and I meant that in the best way possible). It definitely makes its mark with the combination of its abilities, appearance, and oh the breath weapon. I really don't want to know the physiology behind where it's keeping all of those maggots for its breath weapon while away from its nest...and yet, I kinda want to know... Anybody who encounters a filth dragon is going to remember it.

GM Usability
You've given the filth dragon a number of memorable abilities, but not so unique that I need to look it up each time that I want to use it. The ability scores feel a little high for me, but this is a nice addition to the ranks of "creatures I'm going to find while crawling around in the refuse of thousands."

The sentence at the end feels tacked on, like it was an afterthought, and name drops some cities, but it's not really tied to the rest of the creature's description.

Final Thoughts
There are a few areas that could be improved upon, but this is a memorable creature that I'd like to see more of. I do recommend this monster for advancement.

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 expecting to see a dirty gutter dragon.

The mention of the baby doll in the description line seems overly specific, but I can certainly see the image presented.
You don’t capitalize creature types or senses. You didn’t bold SR. You didn’t include DCs for its Spells Known. Alphabetize languages.
I like that its breath weapon is spitting a bunch of maggots on its foe, but the rules language and formatting isn’t clear or correct. There are other abilities like that you could have referenced to get it right. The last sentence seems tacked on, and it actually brings up more questions than it answers.
I like these filthy little dragons, but the execution is off. It could certainly use another pass.
The monster is urban and has a tie to Golarion. This monster would take some time to develop for print.

I don’t recommend filth dragon for advancement.

I love smaller than average dragons.

There are execution problems, though. It certainly could use some editing and checking - it notes Perception of +8 in senses line, +10 in skills line and actually should be +9. Other skills are off too failing to calculate all the bonuses.

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

Filth Dragon...kinda cool name I have to admit.

I think the concept and the possibilities of this creature more than makes up for template and a little of the mechanics issues.

I love the creativity I see behind this and would like to see what you can do given the chance.

BUT. You do need to work on tightening your mechanics writing and template issues.

Keep for now.

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

I really like this. Wasn't sure what to think going in- the name is at the same time intriguing and yet sort of generic, but I think you came up with a lot of really cool (and appropriate) abilities that made it more than the sum of its nomenclature.

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

Great visual on the dragon though I agree the setup is a tad too specific.

I guess the intelligence makes this even more enticing, like a draconic Oscar the Grouch - sees all, knows a lot, smells awful.

I love the name, and the breath weapon is horrific sounding (and can be empowered by feats - nice design nous) but doesn't actually seem that horrific mechanically.

The spell use and hit points however combine to make this Tiny critter a harsh little information broker or even behind the scenes mini boss for beginner players…

Nice work!

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

This thing is super gross, which generally appeals to my sensibilities. There are some moderately serious executions issues, and I think it's int is probably higher than it should be. That said I already want to put this into my River Kingdoms campaign as an informant in Daggermark. Definitely the first monster that leaped off of the screen and into my game, which makes me want to ignore the problems and vote for it.

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

There are a lot of mechanical things I don't like here. The ability scores should generally be 3 even/3 odd. This affects things like magic gear and advancement. The breath weapon creates a swarm, so it isn't really a breath weapon, it expels maggots, which then attack as a swarm. A creature of this type, at this CR, ought to have an SR of 6+ instead of 11+. Too great a chance that parties won't get past the SR.

I like a gritty game, so disgusting monsters that spew maggots make for great descriptive text. So the mojo is okay even though the execution isn't great. But then I also have to compare it to the other dragons in the round, and right now I like the steel miser and guttersnipe better.

But I'm not fond of oozes and monsters derived from other types of monsters, so my last couple of votes are up for grabs.

The Exchange

Ha, Steven Helt, you talk as if you know anything about the RPG superstar competition ;)

Anyway, I actually like this guy, though I don't like that it's a dragon. Somehow, dragons should be too proud to collect the trash of humanoids, I feel.

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

Oh, I think this is my new favorite dragon from this round. Sorry, guttersnipe! You're still pretty!
I love the fact that, yes, this is an evil monster, but you've still established it as having a strong story purpose besides just 'It's dangerous, let's kill it!' Trash-hoarding information brokers below the city? Yes please.
The maggot breath is cool, but I think it could be slightly stronger and still be worthwhile. Maybe have it affect an area instead of a 5-foot square? I don't think mass 1d3 swarm damage is significant, even at this level.
I do agree on the magic resistance criticism, and the other mechanical issues addressed, but I'm willing to acknowledge these are flaws and move on because, well, the rest of it works just so well. Vote from me.

Star Voter Season 7

Starfinder Superscriber

Voting for this as well!

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

I can see removing the standard dragon low-light vision due to the light sensitivity weakness, but why give it scent? How could it possibly smell anything over the reek of its living conditions?
Space should read 2-1/2 ft, not 3 ft.
CMB is wrong. With a -1 for Str and -2 for size, the score should be +1.
Organization should read: solitary, pair, or clan (3-7). Two is always a pair.
Skills are off. With a maximum of 4 ranks per skill, I'm counting 29 skill points (33 if the -4 for its tiny size was factored into Intimidate) when it should have 36. Perception score doesn't match what it reads at the top of the stat block either, and as Drejk points out, it's miscalculated in the skills section.

A bit rough for a CR 3 encounter. Aside from damage output, this thing is tough. Good saves all around on top of an SR that gives 3rd level casters only a 50% chance of making a dent. Add to that the stench aura to knock down melee effectiveness against it. Then the icing on the cake: it can cast spells too. Make your save against the aura? That's okay, eat a ray of sickening. Saved against that? Here's a breath weapon that also causes sickening. I'm sensing a theme. It won't be doing much damage to a party in return by itself, but a clan of these things could be a major pain. I get that they're more likely to be a monster to negotiate with or deal with subtly, but if someone decides to set this up as a creature for PCs to remove, I predict a long, drawn-out boss fight.

Breath Weapon: Just "breath weapon" and not "spew maggots?" I'm not sure it should actually deal damage if they're just maggots, and a rot grub swarm would raise the CR of this creature significantly. Maybe it should just have been a more generic swarm of insects? Also, you describe them as "tiny maggots" which is not only redundant, but may also confuse readers who may think that's a size category and not simply an (unnecessary) adjective.

The descriptive text is solid, though the Golarion connection is tenative and feels a bit tacked on. I like the niche you've set for them and I can see some definite roleplaying potential. If it weren't for several mistakes in the basic stat block, voting for this one would be a no-brainer. For now, it will sit on the fence until I've checked out the rest of the entries.

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

Congratulations James,
I am trying to keep reviews simple to get through them quickly.
Creative: sewer dragon... not so much though more literal than other sewer dragons I've seen. maggot breath weapon is cool, even if more demonic than dragon in my head.
Fun to GM: I'm a little confused if the distraction is its own attack or the swarms. Gross factor will be good short term distraction for my players, but not one I can use a lot.
Golarion Tie: major cities of inner sea is close though not strong. If the Cassomir connection was not 'rumored' it would be a cinch.

Good luck! :)

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

Filth Dragon
The Good: Sewers are awesome, dragons are awesome points for ascetic.
The Bad: spell list is a missed opportunity- mudball, tarball, grease, web bolt, and so on.
The Ugly: The behavior described doesn't lend itself well to conflict. They feed on vermin and hoard trash, not seeing many causes for conflict.
Overall: 8/10 -Despite my quibbles I'm likely as heck to vote for this little guy.

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 like the basic concept of this tiny trashpicker, but I don't think the execution is solid. First, it seems too powerful for the CR. What pushes it over the top is casting spells as a 4th level sorcerer, which for a PC race is a CR3 to start with...and the filth dragon is CR3 as well, and it also has natural armor, a maggot swarm breath weapon, dragon subtype, flight, and SR. If you cut the flight and SR, then the rest of its abilities might be roughly on par with a 4th level sorcerer's bloodline abilities, and the CR would fit better.

Also, this might be nitpicking, but when the name of a monster includes "dragon" I expect a full dragon with age categories, etc. There are exceptions like faerie dragons and pseudo-dragons, but those were both grandfathered in from 1st edition. Newer monsters that are dragonlike but aren't true dragons tend to be wyrms or drakes, etc.

The breath weapon is a cool concept, breathing a swarm, except if you do that, you either need to reference an existing fully stated swarm from another source, or provide the full stat block on the swarm. How many hp does it have, what's it speed, etc? Also, why do you need to say "this breath weapon may be empowered by feats". If a feat can empower a breath weapon, then it can, you don't need to say so in the monster description...those words could have been used to have a better description of the breath weapon itself. Since there isn't a weak enough swarm around to do what you want, you might have been better off not having it be a swarm, but a static effect that creates a carpet of maggots which do the damage and sickened effects. Also, swarms as monsters don't have a save to negate their swarm damage, and always have a distraction ability, this just felt like a miss.

The descriptive text did a great job showing how to use these monsters, and creating a role for it in game, kudos on that. The Golarion tie in line was horrible though, more of a rumor about how the monsters in one city act, but not really making this monster Golarion specific in any way. It would have been better to just skip that line and have no Golarion tie in than have something tacked on like that. I'd forgive skipping it if your monster was that much more awesome due to other uses of word count, rather than trying to hack it.

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

This is the first dragon I've encountered in my voting, and I like what I've read. I prefer little, intelligent dragons that fill a niche (go figure...), and this tiny trash eater fits that perfectly. This is quite obviously an urban creature, and I could see the filth dragon going about its collecting unobserved, which allows it to overhear tidbits of information that it can offer to others.

The Golarion tie is thin at best, so I encourage you to consider how to tie your encounter entry more strongly to the setting. Also, I think you would have been better off with a selection of spell-like abilities rather than making this a sorcerer.

Overall, I'm strongly considering a vote for the filth dragon. Good luck in the voting.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8 aka Jrcmarine

Thank you all for your votes, compliments and most importantly your critiques! My main goal in entering this contest was to become better at something I love to do- create fantasy. I plan on addressing people's questions and comments once I know if I need to polish my encounter.

I would like to address the biggest comment that was a repeated comment. The mechanics of the Filth Dragon were spotty and some of the formatting was off. I agreed with all of these comments and was very angry with myself as soon as I saw the entry and read the comments. But I am not surprised at the poor mechanics fu or the formatting mistakes. My wife and I were moving the entire time I had to work on the encouter. She is also 6 months pregnant, which means yours truly did most of the moving and cleaning up of our old apartment. Soo not only did I not get to proofread or re-work my submission before I hit send, I didn't even have everything complete. I am pretty sure I was the last contestant to submit an entry and would love the team at Paizo to confirm my suspicion. For those interested, I submitted somewhere between 4:58pm and 4:59pm on the final day.

Fortunately the move is pretty much done and I have spent much more time on my encounter if I advance. Thanks, again, everyone for your comments, compliments and votes!

Paizo Employee Developer , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

James R. Casey wrote:
.... I am pretty sure I was the last contestant to submit an entry and would love the team at Paizo to confirm my suspicion. For those interested, I submitted somewhere between 4:58pm and 4:59pm on the final day.

You can actually see what time you submitted in the post. You got yours in 2 minutes before deadline. If I recall correctly, yours was the last one in. (Which is also the last monster I read, since I went through them in the order they were submitted.)

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8 aka Jrcmarine

Thanks, Adam!

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