Stonevine Stalker

Round 3: Create a Bestiary entry

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Rusty Ironpants

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This writhing network of roots, vines and tendrils has a gnarled, stony hide. Many chunks of earth and stone hang suspended in the twisted mass.

Stonevine Stalker CR 5
XP 1,600
N Large plant(earth)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60ft., low-light vision, tremorsense 40 ft.; Perception +7
----- Defense -----
AC 16, touch 11, flat-footed 14 (+2 Dex, +5 natural, -1 size)
hp 52 (8d8+16)
Fort +8, Ref +4, Will +2
DR 5/adamantine and slashing; Immune acid, plant traits; Resist cold 5, fire 5
Weaknesses vulnerability to sonic
----- Offense -----
Speed 30 ft., burrow 30 ft., earth glide
Melee 2 vines +10 (1d6+4 plus petrifying touch)
Ranged rock +8 (1d8+4)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks leech minerals, petrifying touch(1d2 Dex, DC 14 Fort), throw rocks

----- Statistics -----
Str 18, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 3, Wis 10, Cha 6
Base Atk +6; CMB +11; CMD 23 (27 vs. bull rush, drag, pull, push and reposition, can’t be tripped)
Feats Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Lunge, Power Attack
Skills Perception +7, Stealth +9
Languages Vegepygmy
SQ rooted
----- Ecology -----
Environment any underground
Organization solitary, pair or small patch (3-5)
Treasure standard
----- Special Abilities -----
Leech Minerals (Su) When a stonevine stalker uses its petrifying touch ability it leeches vital nutrients from its victim. For each point of Dexterity damage inflicted with petrifying touch the stonevine stalker gains 1d6 temporary hit points.
Petrifying Touch (Su) The touch of a stonevine stalker causes living flesh and plant matter to begin turning to stone. The stonevine stalker’s vine attacks cause 1d2 points of Dexterity damage unless the victim succeeds on a DC 14 Fortitude save. Attacking a stonevine stalker with natural attacks, unarmed strikes or grapple checks subjects the attacker to petrifying touch on a successful attack. If a creature takes Dexterity damage equal to or greater than their Dexterity, it immediately turns to stone as if affected by a flesh to stone spell. Every day, a petrified creature may attempt a new DC 14 Fortitude save to return to flesh. If successful, the creature is returned to flesh with Dexterity damage 1 less than his Dexterity. Constructs, elementals, oozes and undead are immune to this ability. The save for petrifying touch is Constitution based.
Rooted (Ex) The stonevine stalker keeps its extensive root system buried in the ground. It gains a +4 racial bonus to its CMD against the bull rush, drag, pull, push and reposition combat maneuvers and special abilities. A stonevine stalker cannot be tripped.
Throw Rocks (Ex) A stonevine stalker can make a ranged attack by hurling one of the stones trapped within its network of roots and vines. The range increment on this attack is 30 ft.

The stonevine stalker is a carnivorous plant that has evolved to thrive in the cold, lightless environs of the Darklands. Deprived of the sunlight that feeds normal plants, the stonevine stalker feeds by leeching vital nutrients directly from living victims – a process that slowly turns those victims to stone. They are so closely tied to their underground environment that they have begun to take on the properties of the earth itself. Stonevine stalkers can tunnel through earth and stone without leaving any trace of their passing.

Found primarily in the Darklands realm known as the Midnight Jungle, stonevine stalkers feed primarily on the native plants and vegepygmy tribes that infest the region. However they will prey upon any targets of opportunity. Experienced Darklands travelers know lifelike stone statues and plants indicate the feeding grounds of a stonevine stalker.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Congratulations on making the Top 16 in RPG Superstar! I'm Mikko Kallio, an RPG design blogger, freelancer, and former RPG Superstar finalist. Some of my freelance work involves designing monsters for Paizo's Adventure Path bestiaries. I'll review your monster much like I do when a fellow freelancer asks me to have a look at an assignment they're going to turn in.

Name and concept

The name is ok. It describes the creature really well, but it doesn't really flare up my imagination.

This creature is made up of roots, rocks, and vines, and it leeches nutrients from its prey, turning them into petrified statues. While I think it's definitely appropriate for Nar-Voth, a pile of rocks as a concept is a hard sell.

The descriptive line

The descriptive line is ok. The details aren't terribly exciting as such, but it flows well, is sufficiently dynamic, gives just enough details about the creature, and could be used as read-aloud text.

Stat block

The formatting is pretty good. There are 3 missing spaces–plant(earth), 60ft., and touch(1d2 and you've used the hyphen rather than the en dash for -1 size and small patch (3-5).

The stats are reasonably close to what you'd expect of a CR 5 creature. The damage is a bit low, but Power Attack and the petrifying touch certainly make up for it.

I'd recommend against non-standard melee attacks like ”vines”. The assassin vine, for example, has a slam attack. Does a vine attack deal slashing or bludgeoning damage? Also, as per the Natural Attacks By Size table, any natural attacks that fall into the ”Other” category are secondary attacks, which would affect its attack bonus and damage.

It has five even and only one odd stat. It should be three and three.

I find it very interesting they can speak Vegepygmy. I can't decide whether I like it or not. The description reveals that they hunt vegepygmies, but how did they learn the language with their Int 3? I wish you had mentioned something about it in the description. It would have been cool if these creatures somehow used their tremorsense to eavesdrop on vegepygmies communicating (i.e. tapping, beating and clicking), so as to better plan their attacks. You should probably have included ”(can't speak)” because even vegepygmies themselves can't speak their language.

Why is a group of these creatures called a small patch? The name would make more sense if there were also bigger groups.

Special abilities

The special abilities are very appropriate for the creature, and consistent with its concept. However, none of the abilities really show off your rules-fu and creativity. We've seen Dexterity damage before, petrifying touch is similar to the cockatrice's ability, rooted is similar to the dwarves' ability, and throw rocks isn't anything new, either.

Actually, since the petrifying touch is so similar to the cockatrice's ability, I'd say that you should have used similar words and phrases. That also includes the last sentence, which should read ”The save DC in Constitution-based.”

In the leech minerals ability, you should replace ”inflicted” with ”dealt” (Paizo style). Also, a comma in each of the sentences would increase readability.


Since you only had 600 words to use, you should have used your remaining words more economically. For example, the sentence ”stonevine stalkers can tunnel through earth and stone without leaving any trace of their passsing” doesn't add any new information. ”Earth glide” in the stat block already tells us that. You could have discussed how that useful ability affects their hunting tactics, for example. In other words, don't repeat information, expand on it.

The second paragraph is much better as it contains some information that the GM can use. I'd argue that lifelike statues don't necessarily indicate the feeding grounds of a stonevine stalker because there are a number of other creatures that also petrify their victims.


I think this monster would make a fine addition to a bestiary. However, for RPG Superstar, it isn't ambitious enough mechanically or conceptually. So, unfortunately, I weakly don't recommend this entry for advancement.

Scarab Sages Modules Overlord

This is a case of a monster hinging on a single question - is a petrifying underground plant a Superstar idea?
My main issue here is there's nothing to tie this to Nar-Voth except that you say it's found mostly in Nar-Voth. The Midnight Jungle is a great place for it, but it doesn't feel thematically tied to that beyond being a plant with weird powers.

The write-up mostly feels like existing abilities repurposed for a big plant-basilisk, and that's not creative enough to show you can do truly new things rather than combine existing elements logically. It's not bad, it's just not Superstar.

I weakly do not recommend this monster for advancement to the next round.

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!

My Judging Process:

I’m treating these like a pre-development pass.

When I develop a monster for the Adventure Path bestiaries (or anything really), one of the first phases is where I print out the monster entry, and look it over, 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-making 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 figured the best way to judge this round is to treat it like my normal day-to-day work and do what I mentioned above. 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. Some of the things I comment on might seem nitpicky or overly critical of a small element, but I blame that on my job. I’ll probably even use terms that aren’t that familiar outside of publishing. :)

One thing to keep in mind is that nothing in my review here is 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 all of these comments scribbled in purple ink on a sheet of paper containing your monster.

I start by googling the name to make sure that it isn’t something already existing, a weird term that could mean more than one thing, or isn’t secretly offensive or illegal.

Then I read the flavor line under the monster’s name.

Then I work my way down the statblock looking for anything that stands out or is in the wrong place or is formatted wrong. Most of these comments are just things that jumped out at me from a glance and are super easy to fix while I’m developing a monster. (I don’t get annoyed at my freelancers for these little typos and oversights unless it gets really sloppy or persistant.) During this I also look at how much the stats match up to Table 1–1 and how different elements of the design account for numbers that are off the average. During this part I often have questions about why a decision was made or why the creature has this element. I jot these down. Many times I figure out the decision once I read the flavor text and go back and scratch those notes out.

This leads me to the flavor text. This is the part of the monster where I get to see how well the designer can write. (One of the reasons I often test new contributors with monsters is that it pairs up design and writing in a nice compact package.) I also look at how the designer used the tight wordcount. This round’s rules used pretty much the same wordcount that we’d use for one of those monsters, and it can be difficult finding the right balance of flavor text and statblock. Too much flavor can sometimes result in a boring creature mechanically, but when 90% of the turnover is statblock, the GM doesn’t have much to go on for how to run the critter.

In judging, I also go back and evaluate some of my critiques and revise after looking at the monster again with fresher eyes.

I notice that I say “probably” a lot in my reviews. When I use that word I pretty much mean that I’d either really think it over and research a few things more than I normally would before making a particular change. This would certainly include me turning around in my chair and getting feedback from other developers (including any editors that heard me in the next cube over).

Even though most of my comments are very “stream of consciousness,” I spent a good amount of time with each of these monsters, typically an average of 30 minutes on each submission. Some more than others. I also did all of my reviews blind without seeing the other judge’s comments. I didn’t want what they had to say influence me. I apologize ahead of time if we end up being repetitive.

And now onto the monster!

• This seems, on a basic level, like an assassin vine that has some stone abilities. Space between the darkvision number and the “ft.” part. You did that with tremorsense, so I'm going to assume this is a typo. I don't like the use of "environs" in the description. You could have cut "environs of the" and saved three words.

• I don’t see why this has the earth subtype. That’s something that typically suggests an extraplanar connection, but this doesn’t seem to need it. Adding this subtype also contributes to you adding earth glide and tremorsense to this creature.

• I think I like the connection to vegepygmies. I wonder how many others are going to latch onto vegepygmies. The thing that’s weird with this connection is that that the monster is intelligent and speaks Vegepygmy, but none of the flavor text or assumed tactics of the creature assume this. From the rest of the write up, you could have left off the language. I see that you likely gave it an Int score so that you could give it skills and feats, but this monster isn’t described as needing it. It’d be way cooler if it mentioned that it used its ability to “speak” as a way to lure in creatures.

• I like that you went with a plant for underground. It’s obviously a good niche to wriggle into. I wonder if others are going to do the same or similar thing(s)?

• I also like the idea of a stony vine that can petrify people as it feeds. That’s pretty neat.

• Bad space between “paralyzing touch” and the parenthesis.

• You call it carnivorous, but you mention that it also eats plants. That doesn’t match up. It either only eats fleshy creatures or it’s omnivorous. You could have said that it was an ambulatory, hunting plant instead.

• Which leads me to something else. I don’t like the rooted ability. It describes the critter as having an extensive root system. [Which actually, plants that exist underground don’t really have root systems. Most of them aren’t even technically plants. Most are fungi, but whatever.] The real tricky thing is that it has not only a 30 foot land speed AND a burrow speed AND earth glide. That seems like a ton of mobility for a creature that is supposedly “rooted” enough to get bonuses from it. If I were developing this monster I’d cut this ability completely OR I’d reduce its speed to 5 feet and get rid of all the other movements.

• We use en dashes between ranges of numbers or for minus signs. Not too many folks know that, so I’m not going to ding you. I’m just bringing this up for educational purposes.

• I appreciate that you alphabetized “Constructs, elementals, oozes, and undead” in the petrifying touch ability.

• Throw rocks is a fun ability.

• I would have broken out the part of the petrifying touch where the attacker is affected into a separate ability and put it in defensive abilities.

• Organization line: We use serial commas. (and en dashes between a range of numbers).
I don’t understand why it’s vulnerable to sonic. That seems like something that should be mentioned in the flavor text. Stony things aren’t inherently vulnerable to sonic damage, so I want to know where this comes from.

This was a neat idea, but I weakly don’t recommend this monster to advance.

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

I a not a fan of this monster.

It is super mobile for a plant.

It doesn't have eyes but can see amazingly well and has tremorsense to back up its awesome vision.

Awesome defenses. DR 5/Adamantine and slashing might as well be DR 5/- at level 5. Immune to 1 element, resist the most common 2. Slightly balanced by being weak to a rare element.

Things are petrified by having minerals added to them not taken away.

And in the end there really isn't anything new about this plant.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Darkjoy

Third monster I have seen:

Good: Leech Minerals ability
Bad: Rooted + fast movement, does not compute on my end.
Ugly: It defenses are just too good, as Browman also noted

Your current rank is 2 out of 3.

This is the second monster I've viewed. On my initial read-through, things look fairly interesting. Let's see how things break down here.

Description: Gives a clear picture of the monster, and from a PC's perspective, that picture isn't good. Immediate "uh-oh" impression, which is to be expected.

hp: Hit points are below the CR 5 standard, yet it has one more hit die than a plant of this CR would typically have. How is that possible? Seems to be some problems with the number-crunching here.

AC: AC is also well below average for the CR. Granted, it has some hefty DR to make up for that, but why? It has a stony outer surface. Surely it can meet the AC baseline. DR/adamantine is rare outside of golems and other constructs, and to have both adamantine and slashing? Seems a bit much for the CR.

Attacks: Attack bonuses are within the appropriate CR range.

Damage: Damage falls on the low end for melee, which isn't necessarily bad given its other abilities. As already noted, it should have slam attacks listed. Also, rock throwing damage is too low. According to the universal monster ability, "[d]amage from a thrown rock is generally twice the creature's base slam damage plus 1-1/2 its Strength bonus," which should put it at 2d6+6, putting it up closer to the low end damage for CR 5.

Ability DC: Again, too low. It's at CR 3 level. Unless this is a boss monster in an adventure, most PCs fighting it can make this save fairly regularly. The stonevine stalker clearly needs a Con boost.

Saves: On the money for the first two, but Will is low. Granted, being a plant, Will saves aren't usually a problem, but if this is a lower level encounter for the PCs, a properly prepared druid or cleric with the plant domain will own this thing.

Feats: Combat Reflexes I can see. Lunge seems odd. Why not just increase its reach? Power Attack is okay, but Cleave seems out of place.

Skills: Skills are off. With its Int score, it should have 8 skill points. Divided evenly, that should give it Perception +9, Stealth +9. Also, it really should be an ambush predator. Given its stony complexion, and the fact that it lives underground, why doesn't it have a bonus to Stealth in its natural environment?

Special Abilities
Leech Minerals: I like that it has an ability that fits its type in its environment. It's a carnivorous, subterranean plant. This works well for me.

Petrifying Touch: While petrification isn't exactly new, having a plant turn you to stone certainly is. I like it. However, I'm not sold on the saves to unpetrify. First, the save is already too low. Second, petrification is usually pretty permanent without a break enhantment spell. Sure, I could handwave it with the "it's magic" explanation, but the ability just feels half-baked. Given the nature of the ability, I would have been fine with a restoration being able to restore Dex and reverse the condition.

Rooted: Yeah, okay, I can see that, except that I never usually see PCs attempting to bull rush or reposition plants. Seems like a missed opportunity to increase its offense, rather than its defense.

Throw Rocks: Should read "Rock Throwing." I have to admit, I'm amused at the idea of a plant throwing rocks at things. The concept is appealing.

Earth Glide: I understand it fits with the earth theme, just not sure why it has it. Is this thing originally from the Elemental Plane of Earth? Not according to the description. Also, why is it so fast? Most other plants are slow-moving. This thing is a plant, and stony, and moves as fast as your average humanoid. Again, I have to ask "why?"

Background: There is a missed opportunity here to give it a stronger tie to Nar-Voth. Its primary prey appear to be vegepygmies. It understands their language, and can apparently speak it as well (which makes sense, since it's a non-vocal language.) Again, this screams ambush predator to me. Lure them in with cries of help, and Bam! you've got yourself a meal. More detail on its predator-prey relationship would have cemented its role better.

There are a lot of design missteps and mechanical mistakes here. I find myself asking "why" a lot. Like why does it have darkvision and tremorsense? Seems like overkill. While I find the overall concept appealing, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Good luck to you in this round.

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

Almost like sentient lichen? Seems like standard filler for a Nar-Voth focused book with monsters. That isn't a bad thing, it just means it's standard issue. Well enough written, but not quite "amazing" -- but I'd throw one at my PCs if I were bored and wanted a random encounter.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Rusty Ironpants

Thanks for the feedback everyone. There are some really enlighting comments so far! Different kinds of dashes are a thing! Who knew? (Not me.)

I will wait until after voting to address comments/answer questions.

Thanks again.

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

I like that you put some thought into the ecological pressures that resulted in this thing evolving (and the niche it fills). I'm not sure that it needs to be mobile (or even why it is) nor why it is intelligent and has a language other than perhaps some feats and skills were wanted. There are some cool suggestions for how and why that might be from judges and commentators here, though, that would really help expand that aspect of it. Otherwise, I'd just use some bonus feats and racial skills if needed and let it remain unintelligent.

I wish it had a stronger Nar-Voth tie (in particular) but it does have a general Darklands connection at least, so that's good.

This could be a really cool plant creature I think, with a bit more (and tighter) development.

Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Clouds Without Water

Name- Stonevine Stalker. Descriptive in a clear way, you get a pretty good idea what it will be, though I'm not sure I see the "stalker" element.

Description- Functional, if not exciting. But "hide" might not be the right word, it's a little confusing put against "writhing network of roots and vines".

Special Abilities- Logical and coherent, but not much new here. Rooted seems to be odd for such a mobile plant.

Nar-Voth appropriate- Yes. I like that you tied in the lack of sunlight to their new way to feed. Also like the vegepygmy tie, might have been worth playing that up a bit more.

Mojo- I feel like some ideas were there that didn't quite add up to as much as they could have. Maybe reduce their mobility and have them blend in more with their environment. Maybe look like part of the stone to which they are attached until they ambush creatures, like vines carved into the stone. Maybe some sort of combat maneuver attack that pulls the creature into the stone.

Will players remember in 6 months- Probably not. It's the usual kind of thing you encounter a lot.

Champion Voter Season 6, Champion Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Champion Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Congratulations on making the Top 16! :D

I like the imagery of petrified people and plants. That might suggest a medusa, cockatrice, or gorgon rather than a plant, though the plants might suggest something odd is going on. Very cool!

The rooted seems to not work in the face of the rapid movement rate this vine has. Trying to envision the actual monster in combat with those two abilities is kind of odd. The vegepygmy language thing comes out of left field a bit. Why would this plant learn the language of its primary prey? There doesn’t appear to be a reason for it.

The appearance of this monster isn’t all that great. It really has nothing going for it except through its attacks and effects. Like I said above, this creature in action isn’t very exciting. Deadly, possibly. Exciting, no.

As it is, I will not be voting for this entry.

Star Voter Season 8

The Good: Interesting theme and visuals, with the earthgliding plant whose vines emerge from the walls to attack. Defense looks solid, with lower AC but some DR to compensate.
The Bad: While the petrifying touch is thematic it is very excessive when applied to a creature already a melee monster, and should likely raise the CR - refer to the cockatrice for an example.
The Ugly: Hits like a truck with Power Attack (two slams +8, d6+8), and with good reach, Lunge and Combat Reflexes and earthglide it will brutalize a 3rd level party, long before it turns them to stone.

I kinda like the Stonevine, but I think the gestalt of the abilities is worth at least a CR6, if not more.

I will not be voting for this one.

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

If it petrifies by leeching minerals, why do creatures get a chance to recover from being petrified? They should be utterly dead.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka motteditor

OK, description. I get an image of what it looks like, but it’s not particularly the most exciting-looking thing.

Interesting write-up. Part of me felt like it’s odd that it turns creatures to stone, but I was also reminded of my recent visit to the petrified forest in Sonoma (Napa? I forget which county it was in). I feel like that’s what you were going for, but it didn’t quite hit the mark. I also feel like these are monsters that basically are random encounters, which is always a little disappointing for Superstar, IMO.

hp =
AC – (but has DR)
Atk =
Dmg – (but has petrifying touch)
Abilities =
Saves =/-

I like that it’s got burrow, which I think is neat for a plant, and I think throw rocks makes sense. I’m a little less crazy about leech minerals and petrifying touch. Again, they just don’t quite synch for me, where it’s slowly turning something to stone and at the same time drawing nutrients out. I wonder if it’s just some wording difficulties? If it had said it replaces the fluids it drains with a calcifying mineral would it click for me? I’m not sure.

There’re also a couple minor wording issues: “If a creature takes Dexterity damage equal to or greater than their Dexterity, it immediately turns to stone as if affected by a flesh to stone spell” switches between singular and plural pronouns (it looks like every other reference kept it singular, and I can appreciate it’s tough sometimes to not want to use plural). “the creature is returned to flesh with Dexterity damage 1 less than his Dexterity” also threw me at first; it might have worked better as “the creature is return to flesh with Dexterity damage equal to its Dexterity –1”

I'm afraid I probably won't be voting for this one. Sorry.

Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

I dont mind the name as much as some, and I like what he does in a fight. I can't say I'd want this thing to the the crux of an adventure or anything, but he would be just fine as a random underground encounter in the Jungles, which you should have mentioned more!

Taking away minerals was neat, but as was pointed out, thats the opposite of the petrification process.

Creativity and Theme: 3/5

Running this monster as a DM: 2/5

Encountering this monster as a complex/story encounter: 3/5

Encountering this monster as a random encounter: 3/5

11 / 20 pts.

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

Name is ok - I like the visuals of this creature, its methods and its habitat. The lore makes sense and doesn't feel like a forced input to Nar Voth.

The abilities are thematic and make sense with each other.

Not sure why it speaks Vegepygmy (nor why it would eat them - bad bad bad naughty stonevine stalker) - it feels more like a mute brute quietly hiding and ambushing unwary mr and mrs brussels sprout and their ... sprout rather than grabbing them for an in depth chest thumping about the latest soil nutrient spike or infernal frost heave.

Nice monster Russ - I could see this wandering dark forests as much as Nar Voth.

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


The Monster round is my favorite in the competition as it generally exposes the designers in a way previous rounds do not. 300 words is enough to make an impression but does not tell me much about you as a designer.

The monster round tells me about your gaming ascetic, your attention to detail, and if you have the creative chops to be different. Anyone can make a boring monster it takes a special kind of mind to make a Chimney Troll or a Yellow Tongued Hulk. IS it fair to compare you to my favorites from prior years? Probably not but I'm going to do so anyway.

Format you'll find familiar but shorter than my item reviews. I'm combining bad and ugly and I'm going to be harsh even on the things I like, this is because compliments don't make you better.

Good This is a few edits from being pretty awesome... I'm likely to play with it after some edits.
Bad and Ugly Burrow speed makes more sense then earth-glide, lose lunge, make it have a Vampiric touch ability and a paralytic poison and yeah I could totally use this.
Overall Its a C+ for me.

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

I think, on first read, the name should be just Stonevine.

Adamantine and slashing DR makes sense, but if its is stony wouldn't bludgeoning be good at smashing it?

Burrowing and Earth gliding.

I think you should say 2 slams instead of vines...there's no game term for vines as an attack is there?

So its CMD is only valid for grapple.

I think instead of temp HP, giving it DR would have been better on leech minerals.

I like petrifying touch! I don't like that the only somewhat possible combat maneuver means you are subjected to this.

With Rooted, I would imagine that its move speed should be lower than 30, or at least mean it can only take 1 move action per round while rooted.

Good ranged attack.

Its not really carniverous...its not eating the victims, it is just getting nutrients.

Overall, I like this well enough but I don't think it needed the burrow or earth glide since nothing really works in tandem with those abilities and in fact the Rooted ability makes it seem like it wouldn't move MUCH at all.

Marathon Voter Season 8

How I Judge/Disclaimer:
I'm probably not your "typical" judge of monsters. When I GM, I tend not to use pre-generated creatures and statblocks, preferring instead to build custom foes for the PCs (this is partly because my houserules remove, most significantly, magic items, excessive wealth, and instant, permanent debilitating effects, like instant death, ability drain, energy drain, permanent curses, etc. and partly because I just like doing it). However, I do, occasionally mine extant creatures for ideas, and adapt them to suit my needs.

I would say that at least 75% of the foes my PCs face are intelligent, social creatures with class levels, as I always prefer it when, 1) there is a logical reason for an encounter (I dislike illogical filler encounters when 1d4 darkmantles drop on you just for the hell of it) 2) there are multiple ways to overcome a challenge (such as parley, escape, manipulating the environment, etc.). So, for an actual, legitimate monster to interest me, it needs to have logical reasons to interact with the party beyond "they're close by and it attacks for reasons," and ideally, it needs to create a memorable interaction thanks to a strange ability or behavior pattern.

From the PC side of the table, meanwhile, I'll be judging on how fun it would to encounter this creature. Now, I don't mean "how easy it would be to defeat," I mean how dynamic and exciting facing it would be. There are tons of filler creatures already that you just beat on until someone falls over. I want something involving unusual tactics, but that wouldn't just be frustrating.

Oh, and always remember that my comments are never meant to be hurtful. They are only intended to help draw your attention to problem areas. Learning from criticism is an important part of any creative endeavor.

Now, on to the monster!

So, it's a rooted plant that moves as fast as people, earthglides, has DR 5/adamantine against 5th level (or lower) PCs, annoying immunities, and constantly heals itself while dealing you Dex damage. That just, frankly, sounds awful to deal with.

This is kind of the worst of all worlds from my perspective. This is a barely intelligent plant that will attack the PCs because, uh, that's just what it does (even though it normally hunts vegepygmies, which are much easier game than heavily armed and armored adventurers), but it's annoying to fight because:

1) Played by a typical GM, it's just a tedious slog through its HP and excessive defenses (given the level of PC facing it) and pseudo self healing.

2) Played optimally, it's a tedious slog through its HP and excessive defenses while it effortlessly glides through walls, floors, and ceilings, attacking from angles the PCs cannot effectively fight back from, constantly pseudo-healing itself and whittling down Dex before escaping again because PCs at this level have few, if any options for dealing with tactics like that when traveling around natural earthen caverns--even stone shape will have minimal application, assuming the PCs even are 5th level and have a Druid/Cleric with them.

There is something interesting here, however--I do like its ability to Leach Nutrients. I may incorporate that somehow into a different sort of creature. Otherwise, sorry, I did not like this creature at all.

Star Voter Season 6

This is the ninth monster I've read.
My thoughts are as follows:
Hmmm.... a mass of vines with a stony hide?
I like how stone throwing and leech nutrients work, but it seems odd that this causes the petrification. Also, I'd have liked to see something more to play up the stalker aspect.
Overall, it's not a bad monster, and it has some interesting mechanics, but not quite enough to be Superstar for me.
The write-up makes it seem quite Nar-Voth appropriate, though.
Well done! :)

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 8

Brief critiques as I prep for the possibility of advancing, focusing on feedback that is hopefully new and constructive to future designs.
Some similarities to 2012’s leechroot, but lacking some of Pedro’s flavor. I’m only loosely following some of the specific stats: the DR, the resistances, the language, the vulnerability. It’s close but not airtight. Overall sound entry, just needs zip.
Hope to see you up the awesome next round if you advance. Good luck!

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Rusty Ironpants

Thanks Chris.

I didn't actually have time to go back and read all the entries from previous years. I will have to check out the Leechroot.

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

Russ Brown wrote:

This writhing network of roots, vines and tendrils has a gnarled, stony hide. Many chunks of earth and stone hang suspended in the twisted mass.

Stonevine Stalker CR 5

Congratulations Russ!

I like plant creatures, and an underground one made of stone seems really cool. I was unclear on what a 'network' looked like, and the 'hide' seemed more animal than plant, but otherwise I liked the visuals. The petrifying touch can be frightening, and I like that. Mechanically it can scare players more than straight hp damage. I also like the potential Rip Van Winkle effect this could have. The leech minerals ability might need a cap, or at least a time limit. I think most carnivorous plants would use this to feed, which is missed in the description. Roots hanging from a tunnel ceiling are an adventuring staple and this is where I would use such a creature in Nar Voth. See if my players realize these roots would have to be miles long if they belonged to an actual plant :)

Nice job and a good run. :)

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Rusty Ironpants

Curaigh wrote:

Congratulations Russ!

Thank you!

Curaigh wrote:

I like plant creatures

Me too, and I have been busy making some more.

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