Narrik


Round 3: Create a Bestiary entry

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka mamaursula

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Spikes protrude in place of a neck on this long-limbed headless bipedal figure. Jagged teeth line the open mouth in its chest as its whip-like tongue flicks between its lips.

Narrik CR 7
XP 3,200
CE Medium aberration
Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft., scent, taste fear; Perception +12
Aura frightful presence (30 ft., DC 18)

----- Defense -----
AC 20, touch 15, flat-footed 15 (+4 Dex, +1 dodge, +5 natural)
hp 85 (10d8+40)
Fort +7, Ref +7, Will +9
Defensive Abilities alien anatomy

----- Offense -----
Speed 40 ft.
Melee bite +13 (1d6+6), 2 claws +13 (1d6+6)
Ranged ensnaring venom +11 (poison)
Special Attacks ensnaring venom, erratic demise

----- Statistics -----
Str 23, Dex 18, Con 19, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 17
Base Atk +7; CMB +13; CMD 27
Feats Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Mobility, Spring Attack
Skills Climb +11, Intimidate +13, Perception +12, Stealth +9, Survival +12
Languages Undercommon
SQ compression

----- Ecology -----
Environment any underground (primarily Nar-Voth)
Organization solitary, pair, or pack (3-10)
Treasure standard
----- Special Abilities -----
Alien Anatomy (Ex) Narrik internal organs and fluids are considerably more viscous than typical creatures, which makes them immune to precision damage (like sneak attacks) and bleed damage.

Ensnaring Venom (Ex) Narrik expel a globule of viscous, psychotropic saliva to entangle their prey (functions as a tanglefoot bag with a Reflex save DC 19.) Ensnaring venom increases the target creature’s accumulated fear effect.

Saliva - contact; save Will DC 19; frequency 1/round for 6 rounds; effect 1 Wis and shaken for 1 minute; cure 2 consecutive saves. A target who is already shaken becomes frightened, and a target who is frightened becomes panicked.

Erratic Demise (Ex) Narrik decompose in unexpected ways; 1d3 rounds after death, the corpse erupts violently, spraying all adjacent squares with ensnaring venom.

Taste Fear (Ex) Narrik hunt their prey using specialized sensory organs in their mouths and tongues. Narrik taste the subtleties of their surroundings, including the fear of creatures in their area of effect, effectively giving them blindsight to detect creatures suffering the shaken, frightened, or panicked conditions within a 30 foot radius.

Narrik have broad torsos that open into wide, teeth-lined mouths below their ribcages. Their eyes are beneath their collarbones and small ear holes are closer to their shoulders. Slender tongues flick out of closed mouths frequently, testing the air for prey and intruders. Their long arms end in large, sharp claws and their digitigrade legs provide the power and speed necessary to capture prey. Adult narrik are typically 6 feet tall and weigh approximately 250 pounds.

Frequenting the trade tunnels leading to duergar settlements and surface entrances, narrik live and hunt as packs of both males and females, hunting their favored prey, terrified sentient beings. Without this tainted flesh, narrik poison loses its potency. Their origins lost to time, narrik lack a cohesive society. They live transiently within their territories; narrik care little for building and revel in causing fear and havoc.

Narrik are territorial and packs do not tolerate rivals. When packs grow to more than 10 members, battles of dominance erupt between members for possession of the current territory. Outcast members withdraw, seeking new hunting grounds. Young narrik are protected by the whole pack in a temporary, defendable nest within the territory, likely to require climbing or crawling through narrow cracks to reach. Females give birth to one or two young at a time, which grow quickly and reach maturity in a matter of weeks.

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 doesn't quite work for me. Also, I don't recommend names that don't have a separate plural form.

The concept is delightfully bizarre. I also think the creature is appropriate for Nar-Voth.

Descriptive line

It's a weird-looking creature, for sure. I like that. The descriptive line is sufficiently evocative and is usable as read-aloud text.

Stat block

Other than its slightly low damage output, the stats hit the target values very well. Formatting looks very good, the only very minor quibble is the hyphen in ”3-10”.

I like your feat choices. I personally like Spring Attack very much because it means combat won't clog down to just standing and taking turns to hit.

Special abilities

The lack of a separate plural form for the name distracts me and makes it look like there are grammatical mistakes. Anyway, I really like ensnaring venom, a useful debuff with very straightforward mechanics.

Erratic demise made me smile and nod approvingly; again, a very concise and mechanically straightforward but brilliant ability.

Taste fear has neat synergies with the other abilities.

Description

Thanks to the concise ability descriptions, you had a lot of words left for the description. And I think you used them well; it's by far the most complete description of all the round 3 monsters. There could be a bit more information suitable for aiding the GM in building encounters with these monsters, but overall, I think it's a really good write-up.

Verdict

Nice job; I do recommend this entry for advancement.

Scarab Sages Modules Overlord

Nice descriptive line, it's evocative but doesn't assume anything about what either the narrik or the viewer are doing, and it avoids terms like "humanoid" when it isn't one.

The name is a bit odd, and I prefer to avoid irregular plurals unless there's a really good reason to sue them.

It's a bit odd to be immune to sneak attacks, and not critical hits. I can't think of any other example.

Conceptually this thing is somehow both bizarre and believable, which is a nice trick.

The mix of abilities are really solid - a narrik can get involved in melee just fine, but has neat other options and abilities that will shake things up in interesting ways.

You tell us enough about narrik to tie them strongly to Nar-Voth, and to tell a GM ways they might be used in an adventure, on top of good societal and physical details.

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!

• I know that Judy or one of the editors would ask if we could make the plural of this creature something regular (i.e. add an “s”)

• Nice image in the descriptive intro line. These make me think of a blemmyes-like creature that’s actually scary instead of goofy.

• Its AC, hitpoints, and attack bonus all look good numerically, but the damage output is a bit low.

• I like the psycotropic effects of its ensnaring venom ability. (Even though the format for the ability was bit off.)

• The erratic demise ability is cool too, and I really like the taste fear ability.

• I like the additional physical description in the flavor text. It really helps visualize the monster and would result in an easy art brief.

• Then you go on to give a good and reasonable place you’d encounter them and wrap up with a bit of talk about society. You did well in hitting on a few different topics in a small space.

I like that you worked with something that I used to think was silly and made it cool. I do recommend this monster to advance.

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka mamaursula

Thank you judges for your feedback. Once voting is over I will be back to answer any questions.


My initial impression here is favorable. Yours is the first creature I'm reading, and the bar seems to be set pretty high from the start. Let's see how this breaks down.

Formatting: No errors I can see.

Name: Meh. It's not terrible, but I don't love it.

Descriptive: Excellent. Evokes a clear picture of the creature. I think Adam hit the nail on the head with the blemmyes comment. You've taken a silly mythological form and made it creepy and playable.

hp: Right on the money for the CR.

AC: Right on the money for the CR.

Attack: Right on the money for the CR, for a creature that mainly relies on damage output.

Damage: Slightly lower than the high mark, but well within the range. Since it has other abilities to compensate, seems fine. Still, with a mouth that runs the entire length of the torso, I'd expect the bite damage to be higher, at least 1d8.

Primary Ability DC: On the high side, hits the CR 10 mark.

Feats: Good selection. The creature is built for hit and run attacks.

Skills: Skills are way too low. A quick breakdown reveals that this is because the +3 bonus for class skills was left out.

Saves: Again, on the high side. Good save is at the CR 9 mark, poor saves at CR 10.

Special Abilities
Alien Anatomy: An appropriate ability for an aberration, but might be a bit much on top of the high saves. Makes this thing a bit tougher than your average CR 7 monster. Of course, there's a tradition of creatures in the Underdark/Darklands/call-it-what-you-will being tougher than things on the surface, so that might get a pass.

Ensnaring Venom: Great ability. Creative, creepy, and effective. Two missteps: 1) The poison's effect section should specify damage or drain, and it does not. 2) Poison effects require a Fort save, not a Will save.

Erratic Demise: Monsters with death throes are one of those things that are real pains in PC asses. With its other abilities, this might be over the top. The radius is small, but the melee types are liable to get hosed, literally. The 1d3 round delay does offset this a bit.

Frightful Presence: This is definitely overkill. It already has a poison effect that creates fear and reduces Wisdom, making subsequent saves (since for some reason this requires a Will rather than Fort save) less likely to succeed. Add in the fact that already shaken opponents become frightened if hit with another shaken effect...this may be a bit over the top for the CR.

Taste Fear: Again, a great ability. The fear theme runs well here.

Creature Background: Well grounded in Nar-Voth. Evokes ideas in me as a GM on how to incorporate this into a campaign or adventure. Well done.

Overall, my main concern is that while physically the Narrik is right on the line for its physical abilities, its defenses and abilities are powerful enough to warrant considering whether it is still a CR 7 monster. One could argue that the saves and overlapping fear effects bump it to a CR 8. There are some missteps here. Whether they're enough to count against what is overall a really compelling monster remains to be seen. Good luck!


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Psychotropic saliva. YES!

This monster is terrifying and disturbing without being gory. The flavor of the monster reminds me of some of China Mieville's best monsters. (Slakemoths... *shudders*) I will definitely be stealing this to terrify my players.

You are easily my favorite contestant this year. Good luck!

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

Fear Incarnate. From the description and the build (stats) you're building a sort of "perfect melee combatant" that would be a tricky fight all by itself -- which is a noble goal but it also lead to designs I don't like (the alien anatomy thing isn't terrible, but it's so common in a sense at this point that I wish we'd just make something like that a standard aspect of being an "aberrant" <though likely not complete immunity>).

I also don't like things you did for flavor that actually make me ask questions. If a saliva is "psychotropic" (meaning "affecting the mind") is it a "mind-affecting ability"? I get you're playing on fear-inducing, but then you have it cause various tanglefoot bag effects and it feels kind of a mess.

Then you have them able to "taste fear" which is again a cool concept, and then you just make it function as blindsight, but I would wonder if it is affected by immunity to fear abilities? I guess it must, because it would ONLY function if they're shaken/frightened/etc. Ok, so if this blindsight only-works on scared creatures, does it just constantly go around gibbering and slobering and trying to make freaky noises to freak things out? No sneaking up on it, because if a creature were just at the campfire without a care in the world it couldn't sense it... or no, it has darkvision so it can see... anyways. Nitpicking.

Reading the last bit, I personally prefer my aberrants to have bizarre social set ups not just be tribal pack animals, but that's personal preference.

This things seems like a nasty fellow to have the characters, that think they just escaped danger, and are now "safe" in camp or something face to keep the action going.

It's also the kind of creature I'd throw at the party when the rogue's upset me one too many times because they've dominated combat EVERY-SINGLE-TIME. Solid write up of a nice mythos-bent.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka MythrilDragon

Nice and scary, I'd be afraid but then one might taste-smell me. Hope to see you in the next round!

Star Voter Season 6

This was the first monster I read. (Ladies first...)
I'll just be giving my initial impressions:
The name doesn't grab me. (But, I don't mind that the plural of Narrik is Narrik.)
I will be curious to hear why you chose the name when you are allowed to discuss it.
The monster is creepy, and weird in a good way for a monster.
The abilities work nicely together, and I like the detailed write-up.
It seems like this monster would make for an interesting and challenging encounter.
Nice job! :)

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

10th monster I have seen.

Good: the monster
Bad: Bad bad name.
Ugly: Erratic demise, not a big fan

Good monster, your current rank is 4-5.

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

I like this monster, but I'm pretty sure I can't vote for it. My big problem is that Taste Fear combined with frightful presence is pretty much exactly the same as a very popular mechanic from a popular monster from last year. While the monster packaging is different, this seems to take a lot of cues from the Bogle's Echoed Whispers and Discern Dread. And I'm fairly certain you've seen this monster because your husband was in the competition last year. At the very least it seems like you didn't do your homework, so while I think you'll progress to the next round (and I like this monster) I won't be voting for this.

Dedicated Voter Season 8

Got a.winner here. You entries have all been solid.

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

This one reminds me of the Gugs, in terms of description (although they are very different creatures). Perhaps there is some filial relation? Or perhaps it is just the almost Lovecraftian horror that you've built into it.

Really like the "taste fear" ability, and the way you've described their niche and predations. Overall it looks like a pretty well designed monstrosity. I'd love to see a bit more background on where and how and why it came to be in Nar-Voth, but you got me interested enough in the Narrik to even ask those questions in the first place.

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

Name- Narrik. First impression is I have no idea what this might be. Still, a unique name that's pronounceable, so it works.

Description- Evocative, should make for some cool art. Looks like a nasty encounter right off the bat!

Special Abilities- The Ensnaring Venom / Taste Fear synergy is a nice touch. Frightful Presence is the thing that makes the theme work for me, more than the special abilities themselves. If their poison loses is potency when they don't eat fearful flesh, doesn't that put them in a sort of death spiral? Lack of food leads to less ability to get the food they need.

Nar-Voth appropriate- They work in Nar-Voth, but not sure they're as integral to the environment as they could be.

Mojo- Some. Coherent theme with solid visuals that feed into the theme. Could be interesting to try giving them benefits as creatures become more frightened, but to also force them to focus on frightened creatures. A feeding frenzy type thing.

Will players remember in 6 months- Maybe. As much for the visuals as anything.

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

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Congratulations on making the Top 16! :D

Very interesting looking creature here with something of a Japanese anime vibe. Very dark and very cool. However with spikes coming out where its head and neck should be, I was kind of expecting those to have an attack of some sort and not be totally ignored. I’m reminded of Chekov’s Gun: if you aren’t going to use it, don’t put it in.

The tie to Nar-Voth is there in the connection to duergar settlements, but it isn’t very strong. Although I can think of a number of reasons why they would lurk near the duergar, this has not been spelled out in the descriptive text.

I like how the fear components have been integrated into the overall design and how each of its primary abilities feeds into one another. The ensnaring venom is a really nice touch; a combination of reducing movement and increasing fear at the same time. Nice!

There is a bit of an explanation problem with erratic demise in that they always decompose in the same manner; the variable is when it will happen. With various levels of fear coming into play throughout a combat, it could get quite complicated for a GM to keep track of which character is at what level of fear and how much action they can take if the players aren’t playing close attention, but that is a minor quibble.

Overall, I really liked this monster and am going to vote for 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 some early feedback on this monster, so will limit my comments on it.

Strong descriptive line: I know what the monster looks like, and it looks interesting. I think the write-up’s enough to let me know how to use the creatures. I don’t know if there are that many uses for them – disappointing considering their 10 Intelligence – but I wouldn’t have questions as a GM.

hp =
AC =
Atk =
Dmg =
Abilities +
Saves -/+ (Jeff, its good save is actually a touch low – consistent with a CR 6 creature; while the poor saves are consistent with CR 8 creatures, not 10, unless I’m misreading something)

Stats seem pretty much as expected. SLAs have a consistent theme. I like the way this builds on the fear mechanic, with the theme integrated throughout its design. Also, so often it seems like something either makes you afraid or doesn’t, and I like that this builds to progressive levels of fear.


It's definitely an aberration. Good on that. I'd make two editorial suggestions. First, Taste Fear should be Sense Fear, I think. Second, there should be some way to kill it that interferes with its combustive decomposition. I like that it has three general themes working together: fear, speed, and a gnarly, dangerous appearance.

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

That's another thing I liked that I forgot to mention, RJGrady- I like how the Narrik's feat choices and abilities sort of suggest this thing strikes fast and deadly, without having to come out and directly state tactics for it. It reminds me of the sort of thing you'd find in a horror movie- creature leaping out of the shadows and striking before anyone has a chance to process.

Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

See also: Pinsir, The Stag Beetle Pokemon.

I liked how your abilities and mechanics played out, but I was constantly turned off by your word choices in the descriptive texts.

I like the idea of the monster, a fear taster that can strike and be gone, especially in a tunnel or underground, that can pretty much negate any attempt to foil it from locating his target as long as they are scared.. but the psychotropic poisons that are contact based, the giant full body mouth thats only 1d6 damage and can't deliver it's poison..

Also, the above poster is right. This monster seems heavily inspired by a previous entry.

Creativity and Theme: 2/5

Running this monster as a DM:4/5

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

Encountering this monster as a random encounter: 1/5

10 / 20 pts.


Jacob W. Michaels wrote:


Saves -/+ (Jeff, its good save is actually a touch low – consistent with a CR 6 creature; while the poor saves are consistent with CR 8 creatures, not 10, unless I’m misreading something)

You are correct, sir. My eyes must have jumped a line in the table when I was consulting it. Happens sometimes when I'm reading off a screen rather than out of a book.

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

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 This feels familiar in a previous edition type of feel, which is good for the grognard vote. Mechanically sound everything with formatting and mechanics look on point to me, I like the gobs of sticky tanglefoot effect.
Bad and Ugly Mouth out of chest just doesn't do it for me, poison is over used, and I'd almost rather see this as an insect aberration feels wrong.
Overall B as this is on the bubble of my vote and I'm giving you bonus point for being one of my favorites from the previous rounds. This would pass with 8 votes but with 4 you're lucky the overall crop of monsters is not impressing me this year.

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

The description makes me think of those iron spiked disciple killers in the Mistborn series. Not bad, but if you didn't intend that it IS something to be aware of.

Ooo taste fear...sounds cool.

An aberration!

CR 7 is closer than CR 6 in other entries, but 10 HD still seems odd.

Finally, a full attack routine!

Any underground...like in a lake of magma? :)

Ooo, an ensaring AND psychotropic spittle? Which ties right in to their taste fear thing...nice.

Erratic Demise will be divisive. Some folks are ok with dying attacks...others see it as a GM saying "screw you"

Taste fear is awesome and I can totally see these creatures being used as bloodhounds of sorts by stronger, fear inducing creatures.

Overall, I really like this nasty critter. Nothing overtly stands out as flawed, it is flavorful, and I get lots of ideas from it. Well done Monica!

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

theheadkase wrote:
CR 7 is closer than CR 6 in other entries, but 10 HD still seems odd.

10 HD is the appropriate number for a CR 7 aberration per the monster creation table.

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

Interesting. It just seems...weird! It still didn't take any points away from it for me...I wonder if Adam or another judge would like to chime in on the design philosophy behind that value in that table?

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

I find this creature a jumble of unrelated ideas mashed together to create something that makes little sense to me.

Not a fan of the headless mouth in chest creature. Feels a bit silly.

The social lore makes no sense - they apparently have two genders, and children, and roam like transients in packs that fight when they get too numerous and care for their young communally. Sounds pretty cohesive to me.

So they taste fear, explode, possess psychoactive saliva AND alien anatomy? I don't mind creatures with a bunch of abilities, but these don't work to a theme, largely because I don't get a feel for a hulking 6 foot headless biped that apparently sneaks around narrow cracks in caves.

Moreover, the increasing fear effects just scream out for an ability to take advantage of that, but mostly it just makes you easier to hunt if you get away.

There are some exciting ideas (would like to see the explosion do something more exciting than just more of the same), and some nice writing, but as a whole I'm not a fan. As a shallow aesthete the visual/description turned me off immediately. It beggars my verisimilitude.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka Cyrad

Rather interesting and creepy. They have really interesting abilities that all synergize rather well with one another. They have a fear aura and a fear spit special attack. They make enemies run away from them, but they're really fast and have an ensnaring ranged attack. They have blindsight against feared foes (my favorite ability) to find prey that hides. I can picture hunting strategies terrifying prey towards a trapped area.

My biggest issue is that for a frightful monster, it's not very scary. It doesn't do much damage. A lone level 7 PC could take the monster easily. However, it would go extremely well combined with another monster. It also seems weird that they have alien anatomy and yet they give birth and raise their young like a human. Though, I must admit that imagining a pregnant female narrik disturbs me.


Well, they raise their young in communal nests and the young grow up in a matter of weeks, so that's strange. Since they grow so rapidly, they aren't really limited in size by their birth weight; you could throw the giant simple template on one, no problem, and just go up from there.

Marathon Voter Season 8

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'm not a fan conceptually, as this is just another monster that will randomly attack the PC for "reasons." There's no underlying goal or agenda that makes them compelling beyond a random encounter in the dark. It's also so bizarre looking that, I can't help but find it a bit silly.

I like the way it tastes fear and how that interacts with its other powers. I kind of wish it didn't also have Darkvision, though. I'd have liked it a lot more, from a world building perspective, if it could only see fear.

I don't like Alien Anatomy, which makes it immune to precision damage, screwing swashbucklers and Rogues (two classes that definitely do not need screwing) but not critical hits. And Erratic Demise just feels bizarre for the sake of being bizarre.

Saliva is good, but it's not clear how it's delivered. Will a bite do it? Can it lick its claws to pass it on? Is it carried in the ensnaring venom? Speaking of Ensnaring Venom, what does "increases the accumulated fear effect" mean? Or rather, I know what it means, but that's not the proper way to word that at all.

Where it scores big with me, though, is how fun it would be to fight these. They are adequately dangerous (maybe a little bit light on damage) when played typically, but if their full abilities are utilized (ensaring venom to glue people down, then spring attack in and out until they are panicked but unable to run), the fight becomes very dynamic. They'd be really dangerous without being frustrating, as counters exist (readying attacks, pinning them down somehow, having good enough saves, etc.).

I'm torn on this one. I don't like its place in the world as, essentially just a combat waiting to happen, but its actual combat abilities are really well thought out. There are some errors, but nothing unforgivable. It's the best I've seen so far, but it's only the fourth I've seen. It's not sure thing but I may end up voting for it if nothing else impresses me more.

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Brief critiques as I prep for the possibility of advancing, focusing on feedback that is hopefully new and constructive to future designs.
I envy your concise writing and clean use of rules. I strive to design like that (as evidenced by my monster, my biggest personal battle is overcomplicated mechanics), and I think this monster is a beautifully-packaged, thematically-connected creature. My main issue with it is entirely a personal one: I really dislike the fear mechanics beyond shaken, since they remove PC autonomy and trigger my “why should I be frightened just because the GM is telling me I’m frightened” response. I prefer fear mechanics that make me, as a player, afraid like my character is without railroading my decisions (the mummy’s despair is a decent, although still flawed, example of this). I was disappointed to see a monster that so heavily relied on these distasteful mechanics, but the elegance of its packaging ameliorated the issue. Last points, I agree about sticking to traditional plurals when possible, and I’m a little unsure whether it ends with “-ck” or “-k,” since it switches back and forth between links and references.
Like Gabriel, you have been a consistent frontrunner, and I look forward to seeing an equally creative, evocative, and elegant encounter next round if you advance. Good luck!

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Christopher Wasko wrote:
Last points, I agree about sticking to traditional plurals when possible, and I’m a little unsure whether it ends with “-ck” or “-k,” since it switches back and forth between links and references.

Huh. I hadn't noticed this, but it does look like they misspelled Narrik with a "-ck" on the main RPG Superstar page. Who do we ask about fixing that?

I assume Narrik is the correct spelling, since it looks like that's the way it's spelled everywhere Monica wrote it.

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Thank you all for your comments, I really appreciate it!

Last round I tried to address all the comments, this time I'm just going to tell you all the story of

How the Blemmyas became a Narrik:
In the contest of firsts, this is the very first monster I have ever created. I started my monster creation the only way I could think of, I looked for an image (#7), because I am a visual person. I did not have time to read 4 Bestiaries and all the monsters in previous RPG SS, I'm really not that fast of a reader. I spent all of my lead time learning how to actually make a monster from scratch. Ironically none of my proofreaders caught the similarities between my monster and last year's entries and all of them were either in that round or following it quite closely. Parallel design happens in nature. I would have still made this monster had I been aware of similar monsters.

As you can see from the link, I found a pretty terrifying image for a creature with a lame mythology. I could not agree more with Adam, I was really torn on making this monster based on the core mythology, it was going to make a sad cryptozoological entry, but I loved the image. I started crafting the monster without knowledge of the Round 3 rules, my Blemmyas started out true to myth as a plain dwelling nomadic tribe of giants who hunted along the trade routes in Katapesh, giants who swallow you whole, that's terrifying. When the twist of Nar-Voth rolled out and I found mention of the slave routes near the duergar settlements, it was the best fit I could have hoped for, but it could no longer be a giant and given its other weird qualities aberration was the most natural fit. I did not want to give it darkvision, but aberrations get darkvision and I didn't want to get dinged for not following the creation rules, despite it being redundant and not actually very appropriate, I know better now. I tried to stick close to the metrics of monster creation and I didn't think this was the time or place to really finesse something I wasn't familiar with, like fear conditions, they can stack and it makes sense for this monster to make that happen.

I did want to do something with a bull rush and the spikes on top of the "head," but I ran close on words and it slipped my mind. I should have given it a secondary damage type "spikes" and just left it as a no-brainer type of attack for GMs, they are some smart people :-)

I am ashamed that as a biologist I totally did not think about having a bite transmission of the spitting saliva attack, the university will probably revoke my degree. Narrik probably should have a higher dice for the bite attack, but I was already pushing some of the numbers to the edges of CR 7, so I opted to hold back, they do get a claw/claw/bite and they hit the target range of damage for their CR.

The erratic demise was originally a roll for percent chance of exploding and then a roll for time after death but that felt like more bookkeeping than I would want to do as a GM, so I truncated it to always and shortly afterward. The main reason being if a narrik died, it was pinning its killer to the ground while its pack mates showed up to rain down some righteous revenge, because that's how they roll. In fairness, these are not monsters I envisioned being presented singularly, so they could be pushovers in head on fights but their high end maneuverability makes them a little harder to hit. It is for this reason that I spent a bit of time talking about how they run together in packs, they should be terrifying in packs.

While the societal information was a holdover from the nomadic background and I did leave that as an homage to the original monster, I could no longer really call this monster a "Blemmyas." The new monster was pretty far from its origins. I needed a short name, no more than 2 syllables that sounded like it belonged in the Darklands. I had the name of the region erroneously stuck in my mind as "var-noth" and when I came up with "narrik" I almost changed my mind because I didn't want it to be too close to "Nar-Voth" and then I realized, what does "Nar-Voth" even really mean? Maybe they share some root word and went with it.

I did ask for the spelling to be corrected, it is spelled "narrik" and I didn't like "narriks" as a plural, but I could have gone with "narrix" but feared it would look like a misspelling.

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Congrats, Monica! Although I didn't end up voting for your Narrik... (I obsessed over this for a while, but it ended up fifth on my list.)... You're the contestant I would have been most crushed to see leave the competition. You give so much to this community on these forums. You created my second-favorite map, and I'm mentally creating a campaign around it. Your work has been consistently excellent and flavorful, showing great attention to detail, and I can't wait to see what your encounter brings! No pressure. ;)

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Pressure, pressure! I'm sure your next contribution will be so brilliant, it puts all else to shame!

>:)

Seriously, congratulations mamaursula! You are definitely one of the bright points in this competition every year and I am overjoyed you have moved on to Round 4! Brilliant! :D

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Jeeze...I don't think the Andrew's will ever hear the end of this! CONGRATS!!!!!

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Feros wrote:

Pressure, pressure! I'm sure your next contribution will be so brilliant, it puts all else to shame!

>:)

Seriously, congratulations mamaursula! You are definitely one of the bright points in this competition every year and I am overjoyed you have moved on to Round 4! Brilliant! :D

Man, I hope so.

Seriously though thank you so much for your support.

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Andrew Black wrote:

Jeeze...I don't think the Andrew's will ever hear the end of this! CONGRATS!!!!!

I don't know about that, I wouldn't be here if he hadn't started this journey first. I especially wouldn't be here if he didn't keep saying things like "that's not scary, challenging, exciting or SuperStar enough, go back and do more."

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Way to go Dear!

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I save this until after the voting...

for some reason this is what your description brought to mind

http://www.greatamericanink.com/Webstore/images/P/82473.jpg


Monster Level Achieved: Tékumel

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FireHawk wrote:

I save this until after the voting...

for some reason this is what your description brought to mind

http://www.greatamericanink.com/Webstore/images/P/82473.jpg

Yeah, I love Gossamer, but he was definitely not what I was envisioning while making narrik :-) If you do an extended search of "Blemmyas" or "Blemmyes" he shows up as do some very weird hand drawings from Pliny the Elder.

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Monica Marlowe wrote:

Spikes protrude in place of a neck on this long-limbed headless bipedal figure. Jagged teeth line the open mouth in its chest as its whip-like tongue flicks between its lips.

Narrik CR 7

Congratulations Monica!

I loved this description and this critter never went down from there. Scary looking critter to play on scary tactics.

Good luck in the Top 4!

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