Deeplit


Round 3: Create a Bestiary entry

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

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This granite-skinned humanoid stands as tall as a dwarf, with a ball of colorless fire hovering where its head should be. Shadows in the flames emulate two leering eyes and a crooked scowl.

Deeplit CR 5
XP 1,600
NE Medium undead
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +13
Aura palelight

----- Defense -----
AC 19, touch 12, flat-footed 17 (+4 armor, +2 Dex, +3 natural)
hp 52 (7d8+21)
Fort +5, Ref +4, Will +8
Immune blindness, undead traits
Weaknesses pattern susceptibility

----- Offense -----
Speed 20 ft.
Melee mwk heavy pick +13 (1d6+10/x4), or slam +12 (1d8+10)
Ranged light hammer +7 (1d4+7)
Special Attacks consume light

----- Statistics -----
Str 25, Dex 14, Con —, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 17
Base Atk +5; CMB +12; CMD 24
Feats Cleave, Improved Sunder, Power Attack, Skill Focus (Knowledge [dungeoneering])
Skills Climb +16, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +10, Perception +13, Profession (miner) +10;
Languages Common, Dwarven, Undercommon

----- Ecology -----
Environment any underground (Nar-Voth)
Organization solitary, pair, or team (3-12)
Treasure standard (masterwork chain shirt, masterwork heavy pick, 2 light hammers, other treasure)

----- Special Abilities -----
Consume Light (Su) A deeplit can inhale nearby lights, making a dispel check (+7 modifier) against all light sources within 20 feet as a standard action. Magical light sources use their regular dispel DCs; mundane and alchemical light sources have a DC of 12. Dispelled light sources are immediately extinguished, and the deeplit gains 1 light point for every 10 feet of normal or bright light emitted by the total consumed light sources (rounded down). The deeplit can then either regurgitate or swallow the light as part of the same action. Regurgitating the light deals 1d6 points of damage per light point to all creatures in a 15-foot cone, and blinds creatures in the area for 1 round per damage die. A DC 16 Reflex save halves the damage and dazzles victims instead of blinding them. Swallowing the light enhances the deeplit’s palelight aura for 1 round per light point.
Palelight Aura (Su) A deeplit’s flaming head normally emits dim light in a 20-foot radius. When a deeplit swallows light, its head instead emits light equal to the brightest light source swallowed. Any area of normal or bright light shed by the deeplit’s head functions as a minor negative-dominant plane (Game Mastery Guide 186), which also heals undead (including the deeplit), while any area of dim light causes living creatures to become fatigued while within it (Fort DC 16 negates). Damage from overlapping palelight auras does not stack. A deeplit’s palelight aura disappears when it is destroyed.
Pattern Susceptibility (Ex) Pattern effects and spells affect deeplits normally, ignoring the undead’s immunity to mind-affecting effects.

Deeplits spawn from the corpses of those who become lost in the Darklands due to cave-ins or navigational errors, desperate to find the light at the end of the tunnel. Many deeplits were dwarves who fell during the Quest for Sky, but several failed miners and explorers have joined the deeplits’ ranks. They dig tirelessly through the reaches of Nar-Voth, yearning to see sunlight one last time before their final rest. Their mission’s futility stokes the deeplits’ hatred, both of the subterranean creatures that call their underground purgatory “home” and of surface-dwelling travelers who have beheld the sky that deeplits covet so. Only promises of salvation can capture a deeplit’s attention.

Deeplits paradoxically seek the light that other undead despise, soaking in any fragments of light they can find. Their long exposure to the lightless realm renders deeplits vulnerable to colored lights and patterns, which the undead find euphoric and inspiring.

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 has a nice ring to it. It's sufficiently evocative and describes the creature pretty well.

I think the concept is appropriate for Nar-Voth, and an undead that longs for light sounds intriguing.

Descriptive line

While it certainly isn't the first humanoid-like creature with a flaming head, I do think the descriptive line is adequately evocative. I get a pretty good idea of what the creature looks like. I wouldn't have used ”ball” to describe its head, though.

Stat block

The radius and DC of the aura should be mentioned in the stat block. There's a trailing semi-colon at the end of the Skills line. You've used a hyphen instead of the en dash in ”3-12”. Other than that, the formatting in the stat block looks correct.

For the most part, the numbers look ok for its CR. Its melee damage is quite low unless it crits, and it seems you have bumped its Strength quite a bit to get closer to the target value. Perhaps you could have used a light-based bonus damage instead.

Special abilities

I think consume light is mechnically more complex than it needs to be. The GM rolls a number of dispel checks (quite oddly, also against nonmagical light sources) and then calculates the light points. Which I think is an unusual mechanism for a monster to have, especially because it cannot even store the light points for later use. That seems like a meta-mechanism you added just because you couldn't think of a more elegant way to handle the mechanics.

There's no cap on the damage, and as far as I can tell, none of the standard resistances or immunities apply, so it could be potentially devastating in the worst case scenario (a place with lots of torches on the walls, for instance) or in the hands of a clever PC with Command Undead.

I do like the synergies, and turning the PCs' equipment into weapons against them is always a fun idea.

I like the variable radius of the aura. However, referring to the traits of a minor negative-dominant plane is a really, really complicated way of saying that the aura deals 1d6 points of damage per round. Besides, I don't know if it's a good idea for a CR 5 creature to have an effect that makes creatures at 0 hit points crumble into ash; it prevents the PCs from using raise dead.

Pattern susceptibility is a nice touch, it gives the undead creature a refreshingly human trait.

Description

The description provides interesting details on their origin and motivations. If many of them are dwarves that fell during the Quest for Sky, I can only wonder why they haven't been able to dig their way out during the intervening millennia. Perhaps they wander around in an endless loop, unable to learn from their mistakes now that they're dead?
I like the idea behind the sentence ”only promises of salvation can capture a deeplit's attention”, but I think it's not quite enough information for the GM on how to roleplay the creature if the PCs try to reason with it. Most of the monsters in round 3 are useful in only combat encounters, so expanding on this idea would have been a great idea.

Verdict

While I have some mechanical concerns about the abilities, I sense mojo in you. I was on the fence about this monster, but I want to see what you can do in round 4, and so, I weakly recommend this entry for advancement.

Scarab Sages Modules Overlord

I like the name, and I like how appropriate it is for the concept.

And the concept is awesome. This is a monster that belongs in Nar-Voth, and both invoking the Quest for Sky (giving it a legendary origin and a strong tie to the region), and noting that there are other ways they can be created (so a GM isn't hamstrung by all of one class of undead being created in the ancient past) is a smart, Superstar-quality move.

I like giving them picks, too. Appropriate for undead dwarves and miners.

Consume light is a great name, and it's thematically strong. The rules are clunky and could easily become unbalanced. They'd have to be fixed, but I'd be excited to be the developer who got to fix them.

I do 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!

• Your description sounds cool, but I don’t understand what colorless fire is. How do I see that? Sure it’s intriguing, but huh? I get the image you’re going for, but I think you could have used a different adjective than colorless. “an ephemeral ball of fire” or something would have worked pretty well.

• I have a post-it note on my desk at work that says “monster that consumes light sources,” so of course like the theme of this monster.

• I know it was against the rules of the Round, but this would make a cool, low-end template that could apply to a lot of different creatures like skeleton and zombie.
The damage output is low, but the consume light attack could make up for that. In fact, that ability is pretty swingy and could possibly result in more damage than a CR-appropriate party could handle.

• The aura line should show the range and DC at a minimum unless it’s a tricky ability.
Your consume light ability assumes that the creature is inhaling only magical sources since it requires a dispel check. What about a torch or a sunrod or a creature’s bioluminescence? I also don’t know how I feel about creating a “light point.” There’s something about that kind of design for such a minor thing. We already have a zillion different points and levels in the game, each time a new one is created I get leery.

• The palelight aura ability is a cool idea, but the rules writing is a bit clunky. If I were developing this monster, I’d pretty much rewrite this ability. I wouldn’t link the ability to planar traits, and would instead just say what it does without making a GM refer to another book to use the ability.

• I like the weakness you gave the creature.

• I like the dwarf connection in the flavor text and I like the idea of these things, but it’s kinda weird that the ones that were dwarves during the Quest for Sky “covet” something they’ve never seen. This also brings up another question I have about these things. Since they are only as deep as Nar-Voth, what happens to one of them that crawls out of a cave and sees the sunlit landscape of the surface? That would have been a cool thing to include. I totally realize that you were bumping right up against the word count. People always want more than you gave them. :)

I like the concept, and even though it has a few problems, I weakly do recommend this monster to advance.

Dark Archive

I liked this one a lot, made me think of an Angler Fish luring in lost prey in the darkness. (I mean what group of lightless, lost adventures wouldn't sprint toward a moving dim lantern-ish light?) I don't know if it's my place or not to comment on the Judges rulings, but Adam mentioned that there was no DC for non magical lights, in the Consume Lights description he does say that normal and alchemical lights has a DC of 12. Also am I wrong when it comes to levels of light, but if the creature is always at dim light and it absorbs levels over that wouldn't the max amount of damage from it's regurgitating light attack be only 2d6? (Is there something beyond bright light level? I'm being lazy and not looking it up) I wouldn't even of thought it could do more than 2d6 if Mikko hadn't mentioned the possibility and now it's one of those scratchless itches.
I'd honestly love to see this as something you could animate someone into. It's a walking torch you can send out ahead that would have a chance of hamstringing other light sources it walks into! How much fun would that be! I'd like to know what happens in daylight though, if they become immobile like wraiths or are just destroyed like vampires (I could see a light explosion after a round of two of trying to eat the sun as a way to screw with a party *insert evil laugh here*)
Anyway, those are just my two cents so thanks for taking the time to read this!

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

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7crown wrote:
...I don't know if it's my place or not to comment on the Judges rulings, but Adam mentioned that there was no DC for non magical lights, in the Consume Lights description he does say that normal and alchemical lights has a DC of 12. ...

Thanks for that catch. I guess my eyes slid right over that. Now that that's pointed out to me, I redact that part of my comments. (Even though it still seems weird to use a dispel check against something that's not magical.) Thanks, 7crown!

Dark Archive

Adam Daigle wrote:
7crown wrote:
...I don't know if it's my place or not to comment on the Judges rulings, but Adam mentioned that there was no DC for non magical lights, in the Consume Lights description he does say that normal and alchemical lights has a DC of 12. ...
Thanks for that catch. I guess my eyes slid right over that. Now that that's pointed out to me, I redact that part of my comments. (Even though it still seems weird to use a dispel check against something that's not magical.) Thanks, 7crown!

Man, if I had a nickel for every time my eyes missed something the world would be out of nickels! LOL. I actually like that they have a very low default DC since he gets a +7 on the dispel checks so there is a very slight chance that for whatever reason it won't work. Of course I never seem to roll low when I'm a GM...my dice love to torment me that way.

Shadow Lodge Star Voter Season 6

"Colorless" stands out for me as well. Does that mean ah, monochrome? Black? White? Or is it there but not there? Schrodinger's fire.

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Undead Miner, with a purpose. So I'll be honest, I almost glossed over your whole entry after reading the name, the description and seeing "undead". I hoped down to the judges comments and saw a thing or two and trudged back up.

It was worth the proper read.

I used to work in an abandoned/closed down mine giving tours. This frigging thing, walking out of the dark tunnels after producing a eerie glow that I stared at in awestruck horror, only to have its face barely illuminated before it "swallowed" my headlamps light...

BOOM! you got me.

That said, I like when undead have a purpose, a reason they're soul wont rest. I like it even more when it isn't simply "bah, I was a bad person and I want to do bad things" --- those souls get to go to Hell/Abyss/Abaddon/etc., undead need to cling to life for the wrong reasons. And those reasons don't need to start out as "evil" its just that in their unlife, their means are.. well, I don't think Pathfinder includes undead that aren't "evil" right?

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I like this monster a lot. I do wonder, though, after reading its description, if it might be a better fit for Sekamina or Orv. I'm not sure why a creature that yearns for sunlight and a Knowledge (dungeoneering) skill hasn't found its way from Nar-Voth to the surface yet.

(Then again, I wonder, even as I write this- perhaps it is encountered in-transit, and its running across surface worlders lends it more determination in its journey?)

Not a major complaint, however. I still really like the monster; it is a very unique undead and it has strong ties to Golarion's Darklands.

I wonder what would happen if an army of these things were to reach the surface? That could be very bad... :D

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

7crown wrote:
I don't know if it's my place or not to comment on the Judges rulings, ...

No worries, you are definitely allowed to comment on our rulings! A lot of things are subjective, and even with the more objective rules issues, we do too sometimes make human errors. So please do feel free to comment on anything you see. :)

Quote:
Also am I wrong when it comes to levels of light, but if the creature is always at dim light and it absorbs levels over that wouldn't the max amount of damage from it's regurgitating light attack be only 2d6? (Is there something beyond bright light level? I'm being lazy and not looking it up) I wouldn't even of thought it could do more than 2d6 if Mikko hadn't mentioned the possibility and now it's one of those scratchless itches.

I'll quote the relevant part of the ability: "Dispelled light sources are immediately extinguished, and the deeplit gains 1 light point for every 10 feet of normal or bright light emitted by the total consumed light sources (rounded down). The deeplit can then either regurgitate or swallow the light as part of the same action. Regurgitating the light deals 1d6 points of damage per light point to all creatures in a 15-foot cone, and blinds creatures in the area for 1 round per damage die."

I'll use an example: There are three lit torches within 20 feet of the deeplit. A torch sheds light out to a 20-feet radius (and another 20 feet of dim light, but it's irrelevant for the purpose of the ability). The deeplit manages to dispel two of the three torches, and gains 4 light points (2x 20 feet). When regurgitated, the light deals 4d6 damage.

Of course, it's possible that it intended to work the way you think it does. In that case, I'd argue that the mechanics aren't clear enough for me to understand them, which reinforces my point that the author should have used more straightforward mechanics. Besides, it would be a really complicated way to deal a meager 2d6 points of damage. I do however believe my interpretation is correct.

Either way, it's a pretty cool monster and I wish Christopher the best of luck in the voting!


This is the fifth entry of this round I've read thus far. My initial reaction is positive. It's the first undead monster I've seen this round, and the overall flavor is interesting. Let's break it down and see what we find.

Name: I'm not as fond of it as the judges, but it's okay.

Description: In agreement with the others about the "colorless" flame. Otherwise, a decent description.

hp: Slightly low for CR.

AC: Slightly high for CR.

Attack: Melee goes above the high end. Ranged hits the low end. If it crits with that pick though, ouch.

Damage: Average damage for melee and ranged is below the lower limit for its CR.

Primary Ability DC: Slightly higher than standard for CR.

Saves: Low all around for its CR.

Statistics: Typically, monsters have three odd stats and three even. This has four even stats.

Feats: Good selection, except maybe for Skill Focus. Too bad its Base Attack isn't just a little higher, then it could have Improved Critical for that pick.

Skills: Should have 20 skill points for its HD. Ran the numbers on the skills and came up a point over. Twice.

Special Abilities:
Consume Light: I like this ability. Undead should be scary, and being deep underground without a source of light other than the thing attacking you is scary. I think non-magical sources of light should automatically go out. I'd probably ditch the "light point" think and have a set number of rounds/damage dice dependent on the number and brightness of light sources.

Palelight Aura: Nice little ability. Aura info should be included in the line at the top of the stat block for quick reference.

Pattern Susceptibility: Great idea. My only reservation is taking a monster whose overall stats are baseline or below and giving it a weakness on top of that. It should have some ability that is balanced by this weakness.

Background: It almost works. If they want to see the light, why not just use Knowledge (dungeoneering) and follow the tunnels that head up? What would happen to one should it actually reach the surface and behold the sun, moon, and/or stars? Still, it ties in nicely with Nar-Voth specifically and Golarion history in general.

Overall, I like the combination of abilities and flavor of this monster. Mechanics are sound with a few minor errors here and there. Is it good enough to garner a vote? That remains to be seen, but I have a good feeling about this one. Good luck!

Star Voter Season 8

Being a chemist, I feel I must explain that colorless fire is absolutely correct: if you mix natural gas and air in the right proportions, it will burn colorless. You will notice only a distortion of the air. A common mistake is to assume that this is not a hot flame, it is!
That being the case, I would recommend enhancing the description by adding some blue flame tongues, so readers will make the connection with gasses and understand better.

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

16th and final monster I have seen.

I think it is typical that both the first and the last monster are both strong entries.

Your current rank is 3rd.

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

Koboldhammer wrote:

Being a chemist, I feel I must explain that colorless fire is absolutely correct: if you mix natural gas and air in the right proportions, it will burn colorless. You will notice only a distortion of the air. A common mistake is to assume that this is not a hot flame, it is!

That being the case, I would recommend enhancing the description by adding some blue flame tongues, so readers will make the connection with gasses and understand better.

Science to the rescue! Thanks, Koboldhammer.


Koboldhammer wrote:

Being a chemist, I feel I must explain that colorless fire is absolutely correct: if you mix natural gas and air in the right proportions, it will burn colorless. You will notice only a distortion of the air. A common mistake is to assume that this is not a hot flame, it is!

That being the case, I would recommend enhancing the description by adding some blue flame tongues, so readers will make the connection with gasses and understand better.

Thanks for the clarification. The problem here is that it's still a visual description. The Deeplit gives off light. It wouldn't do that if the flame were colorless and simply a "distortion in the air," especially if it is putting out all other light sources in the area. Adding the blue is a good call, because then it's actually generating light in the visible spectrum.

Sczarni

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I was going to say something similar to Koboldhammer, but he beat me to it... one of the few things from my 'beginning using bunson burners' class at the beginning of high school Chemistry that I remember

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Congratulations on making the Top 16! :D

Eerie and imaginative description line here. This really does feel like an undead duergar that is different from other such monsters. It also has an origin story that fits into Golarion history and Nar-Voth exceptionally well. This feels like an undead creature that should have been there from the beginning. Nice!

The “consume light” ability could become something of a bookkeeping chore as it is currently written. Figuring out how many “light points” it has will require knowledge of the light radius of every light source and changes up the lighting of the encounter. With a dispel check on every light source as well, it makes for extra rolling in combat, which always slows things down. Essentially a great visual with attendant math and measuring.

I really like the imagery, especially the restoration of mind-affecting pattern spells which makes them seem tragic as much as dangerous.

This was the strongest design idea of the lot and that overcomes most of the mechanical difficulties with me. I will most definitely be voting for this entry.


Why do patterns affect a headless dwarven miner ghost? If it's granite-skinned, how much skin are we seeing, and why? What happens if they reach sunlight, aboveground? I find this entry very confusing.

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

Name- Deeplit. Not crazy about it, but it does work.

Description- I get the confusion about colorless flame, but it made sense to me right off the bat. The face in the flames is nice too.

Special Abilities- I didn't like this monster the first time I read it, but upon re-reading it, I really like the Palelight Aura. For me that's the best part. It captures the essence of their nature. Consume light seems like a lot of bookkeeping, and potentially very overpowered. Pattern Susceptibility feels tacked on.

Nar-Voth appropriate- Yes. These belong in caves, but not too deep. They have to be creatures who long for the light, which means there should be some hope, however thin, that they might reach it.

Mojo- I'm torn. The flavor and the Palelight Aura are quite cool. But the mechanics of the special abilities need work. Still, I admire the creativity at work here!

Will players remember in 6 months- Probably. Mournful light-stealing flameheaded undead dwarfs! That's why you go adventuring in caves!

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RJGrady wrote:
Why do patterns affect a headless dwarven miner ghost?

As to this, my take on it is that it is the interplay of varying wavelengths of light (ex, colors) that fascinates the creature.

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Criteria:

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 Description and back story made this monster for me. It has strong ties to the Darklands and the vey concept of a dead miner yearning for light again in undeath is great design
Bad and Ugly The Mechanics of consume light and palelight aura are not very well written and have possible exploits due to clarity issues.
Overall +B as in I will likely vote for it but I'm not sure I would vote it over some of my favorites in prior years. I like it do not love it.

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

I gave Chris some early feedback on this one, so will be a little restrained in my comments…

Solid description. I know what the creature looks like. Write-up’s short, but I think it gives me enough to know how to use these guys. Also like the origin story for these guys, which feels like it could make a new type of undead.

hp =
AC =
Atk +
Dmg – (but palelit aura compensates)
Abilities =
Saves =/=

Interesting abilities. As with the gloomwing, I like playing with the lighting, which can really mess things up for characters in the Darklands.

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I like this. I'm biased though, having contributed a (not particularly exciting) spell consume light to Kobold Press' Deep Magic tome.

I like that it is a light seeking undead with light points and although I blasted the narrik for nominally being headless, here it makes sense, inasmuch as any undead do. The head functions and has purpose, and the creature as a whole makes thematic sense.

I like the pattern susceptibility that distances them again from other darkstuff, mindless undead, and the backstory is very neat - I'm always very interested in just what kind of demise spawns particular undead.

You've definitely done your homework on the pale light aura - sure it's a complicated way of saying something simpler, but it show you know your stuff.

Nice work!

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

Christopher Wasko wrote:

This granite-skinned humanoid stands as tall as a dwarf, with a ball of colorless fire hovering where its head should be. Shadows in the flames emulate two leering eyes and a crooked scowl.

Deeplit CR 5

Congratulations and welcome back to the Top 16 Chris!

I am not a fan of undead and the game already has more than I can use, but the generation of the deeplit and the description have me sold. Well done there. The special abilities feel a little muddy. I might have had an easier time reading them if they were broken up into a couple more. But that might also make it worse, as readers would say so ability X only works if Y has happened. Why not combine them? Oh well, a professional designer would make that call. The abilities are tied well to the critter and I especially like that it is susceptible to color spray and the like. Well done. :)

Despite being undead, this is in my keep pile.

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 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.). 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.
Now, on to the monster!

I really like this. It has a cohesive purpose and agenda (see the surface, eat light, punish those who have light/have seen the surface). It has interesting abilities that make the fight more interesting, especially when paired with other creatures, as it eats PC light, then projects deadly light, forcing people to choose the darkness (possibly full of other monsters) or slowly taking damage. The Pattern Susceptibility is a cool touch, though, I wish all of its immunities were removed for the purposes of Pattern spells, because a few blind (Colorspray and Scintillating Pattern) and another nauseates (Loathesome Veil).

Still, I like this and I think it has my vote.

Star Voter Season 6

This is the twelfth monster I have read.
Thoughts:
Wow. That's pretty cool, and really tightly written. The abilities are both clear and evocative, without the need for lengthy explanations.
I'm not completely sure if I'm voting for this, since I only have four votes and the core concept doesn't fit my personal preference as strongly as some of the other monsters, but the tight design combined with effective prose is certainly making me consider it.
Very well done! :)

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

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Thank you so much to everyone who supported and commented on my entry, especially to the judges who never cease to teach me new things about design! I’m currently working on prospective encounters in case I advance, so I’ll keep my responses brief.

Use of “colorless” – My original intent was for “colorless” to mean “monochromatic” (i.e. black and white), I did not anticipate the general confusion (and far less the actual chemical reaction – thanks @Koboldhammer!). Looks like I gotta be more careful with word choice in the future. Still, it seems like most people still got the gist of the creature’s appearance, so I’m glad about that.

High attack/Low damage – A couple people noted this, my original intent was for the Power Attack feat to balance these stats out (applying the feat put the stats right in the appropriate CR range). When I GM I always assume monsters Power Attack when they have the feat, but I see now that it’s not a given, so I should be more explicit.

Complexity of the consume light and palelight aura mechanics – This was easily the biggest sticking point for my entry, including for me when I wrote the monster. Believe it or not, this version is the third or fourth revision of the ability: to quote one member of my pit crew (whose opinion closely aligned with my own), “I like this ability a lot in general, but I don't like the "points" aspect. It doesn't seem like something Pathfinder monsters typically do. On the other hand, I can't think of a particularly better way to handle the mechanic.”

Mikko Kallio wrote:
That seems like a meta-mechanism you added just because you couldn't think of a more elegant way to handle the mechanics

@Mikko Kallio, you hit the nail on the head; I invented an arbitrary light point system in order to facilitate the mechanic that I wanted (a power that scaled with how much light it consumed) without excess verbiage or confusion. Given that your example of how the ability works in response to 7crown’s question is spot on, I’m happy that the idea was effectively communicated even though it wasn’t pretty. I agree that this ability needs to be streamlined somehow, I just wasn’t able figure out how to do so over the span of three workdays this time around. It also definitely needs a damage cap.

I also agree with the criticism of the Game Mastery Guide reference in lieu of just flat negative energy damage. This was my most blatant oversight and it dawned on me the day after I submitted, costing me much sleep. The lack of stat block radius/DC info, however, was intentional since I didn’t want it to muddy understanding of the aura’s variable range.
Also, shoutout to @7crown for catching the nonmagical dispel, thanks for pointing it out! I’ll also note that learning that the great Adam Daigle and I had similar ideas for a monster ability may have made my entire RPGSS experience (along with Owen’s excitement about my monster, about which I’m deeply honored) ^_^

Skills/Why not just leave the Darklands? – According to my interpretation of the skills, finding one’s way out of the Darklands requires Survival, not Knowledge (dungeoneering), which is why I chose the skills I did (I’m also pretty sure I got the skill ranks right, @Jeff Lee –> 4 ranks/HD x 7 HD = 28 ranks, used to max out the four skills). I wanted it to know a fair amount about the underground (having been trapped there for so long) and to know how to dig deeper or navigate mines, but not possess the skills to find its way out independently.

What if they do reach the surface? – An earlier draft/idea featured info text addressing this, as well as a fourth special ability. I had to cut both to meet the word count, but in the end I was happy to have that hook to keep people curious about the monster. I guess you may never know ;)

Thanks again to everybody, and fingers crossed that I advance! Best of luck to everyone!

Star Voter Season 8

Late to the party I know, but part of what I like about this one is the fact there is a "hope" for these undead, which is really rare.

This is one of the few undead where the purpose can be fulfilled. You don't just have to destroy it to release it, it's not some "dread fell purpose" or some rubbish that is never explained by the author -- you have something you can actually do for these guys.

Granted there is the "It's only fluff" argument but I think it's worth much more than that.

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