Coryphae


Round 3: Create a Bestiary entry

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

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Dressed in exotic finery, this willowy humanoid has smooth skin of jet black, a graceful and athletic frame, and a hairless head topped by a crown of softly glowing crystals that flash as it moves; its sharp-featured face shines with manic and sinister joy.

Coryphae CR 6XP 2,400
NE Medium Fey
Init +9; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +14

----- Defense -----
AC 21, touch 21, flat-footed 10 (+5 Dex, +6 dodge)
hp 65 (10d6+30)
Fort +6, Ref +12, Will +8
Defensive Abilities cut in with care; DR 10/cold iron

----- Offense -----
Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +11 (1d4+1)
Special Attacks enchanting dance
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 10th; concentration +15)
Constant—feather step
At will—charm person (DC 16), dancing lights, ghost sound (DC 15, quickened 3/day), lesser confusion (DC 16)
1/day—suggestion (DC 18)

----- Statistics -----
Str 13, Dex 21, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 21
Base Atk +5; CMB +15; CMD 22
Feats Agile Maneuvers, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Mobility, Quicken Spell-Like Ability
Skills Acrobatics +18, Escape Artist +18, Perception +14, Perform (dance) +18, Perform (sing or percussion) +18, Stealth +18
Languages Aklo, Undercommon
SQ elegant maneuvers, evasion

----- Ecology -----
Environment underground (Nar-Voth)
Organization solitary, troupe (2-6), or company (8-12)
Treasure standard

----- Special Abilities -----
Cut in with Care (Su) If a coryphae successfully claims someone as a dancing partner (see enchanting dance below), until the beginning of its next turn any attack roll made against the coryphae has a 50% chance of targeting its partner.
Elegant Maneuvers (Su) A coryphae adds its Charisma modifier to its attack rolls and CMB, and as a dodge bonus to its AC and CMD. If the coryphae moves less than 5 feet in a round, these bonuses are lost until it moves at least 5 feet.
Enchanting Dance (Su) As a full round action, a coryphae may move up to its movement speed while dancing and attempt one combat maneuver against a single target (Medium or smaller) within 5 feet of any square it moved through. Its movement provokes attacks of opportunity as normal, but its combat maneuver attempts do not. If the maneuver succeeds, it claims the target as its "dance partner", pulling her along with it as the coryphae incorporates its partner's movements into the dance. Both creatures gain the grappled condition. At the end of the coryphae's turn, the claimed partner takes 2d6 non-lethal damage from her buffeting in the frantic dance, and must succeed at a DC 15 Will save or take 1d3 Wisdom damage. If a claimed partner's Wisdom score drops to 0, she falls utterly under the coryphae's command as though she had succumbed to a dominate person spell (CL 10th).
An individual can be claimed by only one coryphae per round.

In the elegant, darkly beautiful Court of Ether, the coryphae (pronounced KOR-i-fay) entertain and protect the nymph-queen Frilogarma. They live to perfect their dance, honing their skills both for love of the craft and the better to serve their demanding mistress. Usually encountered in groups, stealthy coryphae often approach unnoticed; a sudden burst of frantic music is the only warning that the coryphae have arrived. They gracefully sweep enemies up in their unearthly frolic, bewitching the weak-willed and turning them to their dark Majesty's service. Coryphae of both genders especially favor attractive and charismatic "partners", though they will readily welcome to the dance anyone who threatens their queen, however homely and brutish. If unable to intervene against intruders, coryphae skulk in the shadows and await their chance, but willingly sacrifice themselves to prevent harm to their liege.

Scarab Sages Modules Overlord

NOTE TO VOTERS: There was a template error for some contestants that placed name, CR, and XP all on one line. That is not a contestant error, and they should not be penalized for sticking to the template we told them to use.

Don't describe something using game terms, unless it matches those game terms. This creature is not a humanoid, so it's a bad idea for the description to say "this willowy humanoid has smooth skin." A player hearing that might well feel he has been told he is facing a humanoid, and plan accordingly.

A dancing fey that can charm and knock out its dance partners is a very strong concept. The Court of Ether is absolutely in Nar-Voth, and this critter is a very evocative fey, but there's not much contact between most natives of the Darklands and the Court of Ether, and vice-versa. I certainly don't penalize you for picking a well-known Nar-Voth location, bit I'd be more impressed if you had also managed to find a logical reason for the coryphae to interact with the rest of the Darklands.

We often talk about a creature's movement, We talk about a creature's speed. We don't talk about a "movement speed." Terms for movement are odd enough in pathfinder without creating new constructions to describe them.

The enchanted dance is a bit odd. A character with a Wisdom score of 0 is incapable of rational thought and is unconscious. I presume the domination ends if the Wisdom is restored back to 1 or more (though it doesn't say that), but while dominated with Wisdom 9 the victim can't actually do anything.

Also it's damage is quite low for its CR, even allowing for the enchanting dance. Given it's high DR, high AC, and Cut in with Care, fights with a coryphae are likely to be long grueling affairs with lots of frustration and missed or negated attacks, likely ended by a spellcaster.

I really like the idea, but the execution doesn't wow me. In the end the concept and strong prose writing is going to just edge me over to favoring it.

I do recommend this monster for advancement to the next round.

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

I like the name, it just rolls nicely off the tongue.

I like the concept and I think it's appropriate for Nar-Voth.

Descriptive line

The descriptive line gives a pretty good idea of what the creature looks like and it's usable as read-aloud text. Using ”has” isn't quite as dynamic as I'd like, but overall, it's a good descriptive line. It has an air of madness fitting for a fey creature.

Stat block

Fey shouldn't be capitalized. You've used hyphens instead of en dashes in the Organization line. Other than that, the presentation looks good.

Quicken Spell-Like Ability should specify the selected spell-like ability on the Feats line. This is particularly careless considering that adding in those two words would technically put you over the 600-word limit.

Though its hp is slightly below the target value, overall, its defenses are probably a bit too good for its CR. DR 10 is quite a lot though not unheard of at CR 6. Its AC and saves are also a bit above average. Cut in with care further makes it difficult to hurt the creature.

There's something odd about its CMD. CMB = +5 bab +5 Dex +5 Cha, but CMD is actually less than 10+CMB.

Special abilities

Cut in with care and elegant maneuvers seem thematically appropriate, and elegant maneuvers also helps with the stats without adding the need to bump its Dexterity absurdly high to make the monster a viable combatant. As mentioned above, I'm worrited that cut in with care combined with the monster's other defensive capabilities make it too difficult to hurt.

Enchanting dance is fun and very fitting for this concept. It's not mechanically quite as straightforward as I'd like it to be, however. Does the forced movement provoke AoOs against the dance partner from other creatures? Does feather step enable it do dance through difficult terrain with a partner? I guess so.

If a creature's Wisdom score drops to 0, that creature is rendered unconscious, and dominate person is quite useless, at least until the dominated creature regains 1 point of Wisdom. So, the coryphae is stuck with the unconscious creature for at least 8 hours until it's ready to do what dominated creatures do.

Description

The description mainly focuses on explaining how, where and why the coryphae use their dancing ability. That makes them a bit one-dimensional. Since it's an intelligent creature, I would have liked to hear about more things than just their dancing unless dancing for their queen really is all that there is to them.

Verdict

While I like the creature, I think encounters with them will inevitably end up being quite predictable as there's only one thing that defines them. For such intelligent beings, they are a bit lacking in personality. I weakly don't recommend this entry for advancement.

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

Congrats on making it to this round! May you have the luck and talent to push all the way through to the end!

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 dig the description. I’m not convinced the name isn’t too… something. I can’t put my finger on it.

• Hit points are a tad low for a creature of this CR, but the damage reduction and (possibly overly) high AC easily make up for that. I wouldn’t want to see a creature with those defenses be at or above the average when it comes to hit points. Well done.

• Damage output is way low for a monster of this CR, though I admit that direct combat doesn’t seem to be this monster’s main focus. (Edit: I just saw that enchanting dance helps with this.)

• The best way to present ghost sound in the spell-like abilities is to add a new line for 3/day and make it quickened ghost sound and also keep ghost sound in the at will section (or just get rid of one of those, likely the at will one).

• Even though the name of the cut in with care special ability is overly-long, I like it. I also like the way it works.

• For the elegant maneuvers special ability, you don’t need to include that its Charisma modifier to CMD since dodge bonuses already apply to that. (saves a few words)

• Elegant maneuvers might be too good. On a basic level, it’s doing a combination of grapple, drag, and reposition, but better. I really like the image of it, though.

• I don’t like the use of emphasis quotes, especially in rules text, like you did in the enchanting dance special ability. What’s worse is that you quote that the target is a dance partner, but in cut in with care (which is almost an overly-long special ability name—but I like it!) you call the target the dancing partner. Keep an eye on consistency.

• Also in that ability, make sure to use “points of” in between the XdX and the type of damage.

• All that said, it’s a cool ability. I like the idea of a creature dancing someone to mental and physical exhaustion and then taking over their control.

• In your flavor description, I’m not a fan of your pronunciation. I’m sure a lot of readers like that, but it’s not something we do in our products that often.

• I think I like this creature best out of all the ones that are connected to Court of Ether. That manic dance element just really jives with what I think of when I think of the fey in Candlestone Caverns.

• Despite the problems in this submission, I like the idea and think it’s worth developing. I weakly do recommend this monster to advance.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

Thanks for the time and care you put into your assessment! I appreciate the feedback, and also look forward to what others have to say.

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

Dancing Dark Fey. I really want to "love" this creature, but your stats and build for it are weak. You suffer because we have no real rules (that I'm aware of) in Pathfinder for "dancing" so it's hard to affect rules when you basically need to create them. That said, I also feel like the mechanics could have been done differently. For one, this is too closely tied to its setting and set up. That's fine in a AP book or in a book focused on the location of Nar-Voth, but I'd hope a RPG SS entry could be stand-alone, showing up in Bestiary 5 without much modification. Also, I should read the creature and KNOW where it fits in the world without needing you to spoon-feed me (though I'll admit I don't know a lot about Nar-Voth -- but I was aware there's a Court of Ether.)

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 Scott some early feedback on the coryphae, so I’m likely to limit my comments somewhat on this creature.

Nice description and I thought a good solid write-up that lets me know how to use these creatures.

HP =
AC +
Atk =
Dmg –- (but has ability and nonlethal damage potential)
DC =
Saves +/+

Abilities seem nicely thematic, with enchanting dance looking to make for some fun/interesting combats.

These monsters feel like they're only going to be seen in a very specific situations, but I think they definitely could add a lot to those scenes in Frilogarma’s court.

This is just the second monster I’ve looked at, but I think it’s a keep from me. I mentioned before the round started (and before I looked at this monster) that I thought a dark fey could be a good choice, and I think this is the type of thing I was thinking about.

Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Seeing as Coryphee is the lead dancer in a ballet troop, I see what you did there. I like the name pun.

Your my first monster to look at, but I like the idea of this leading an encounter with a troop of dancing monsters with bard levels.

I was worried at first I was going to look in here and find a dancing manakin, ripping off the IP of Wyrd's Malifaux creatures, but should have known better.

A designer this far isn't going to do something like that. I like the potential as a plot monster or something with a lot of setup to create a mood, but less enthusiastic about encountering a couple of these outside of that type of setting.

Creativity and Theme: 4/5

Running this monster as a DM: 5/5

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

Encountering this monster as a random encounter: 1/5

13 / 20 pts.

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

I really like the creature; it definitely fits the whimsical and oft malicious fey, and its abilities match its theme very well. I get the connection the the Court of Ether, and agree that- if found in the Darklands- that is a great fit for them. Otherwise, though, there doesn't seem to be any particular reason for them to be a Nar-Voth creature; they would fit in just as well any other place fey live. That is the biggest drawback to me, here- the weak tie to Nar-Voth. But it is creative, well written and (as near as I can tell) well designed, so I'm highly inclined to vote for this one all the same.

Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

This is a fun creature. I worry it's a bit of a one-trick pony, but it certainly has a schtick, which is pretty vital. Great job!

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

9th monster I have seen.

Good: It eludes me for the moment
Bad: NE Fey who selflessly sacrifice themselves....
Ugly: I kind of dislike that the monster has no depth beyond its dancing routine.

Your current rank is 7th.

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

Name- Coryphae. First impression is that I have no idea what this is. But it's a unique name without being a jumble of letters, so it's fine. My natural pronunciation matches the one given, so you might be able to leave that out.

Description- Appropriate for a "cave fey". Illustration for this could be cool.

Special Abilities- "Cut in with Care" is an awkward name, but the ability itself is appropriate and synergistic with the others. I like Elegant Maneuvers a lot, and requiring movement for it to apply is a nice touch. Enchanting Dance is a nice mechanic, and will be the most memorable part of this encounter.

Nar-Voth appropriate- Dancing fey isn't screaming "Nar-Voth" to me. Would fit as well or better in any fey community.

Mojo- Some. The ideas are appropriate for the creature and mesh well. I think something with music of a troupe would be a nice addition. I'd like to see something play off the dark, too. Maybe the partner is plunged into blindness? A frantic dance in pitch blackness could be cool. In any case, this is a nicely cinematic creature.

Will players remember in 6 months- Probably. The dance mechanic is what will stand out.


This is the 7th entry I've read thus far. Initial reaction is positive. A creepy underground fey with enchanted dancing abilities? Sounds interesting. Let's dive in and break it down.

Name: I like it.

Descriptive text: Here, I'll agree with Owen about using the word "humanoid." The fey descriptions I read through tend to use the word "figure." The remaining text tends to lend evidence that the "figure" in question is basically humanoid in shape. Besides that, it's a very clear picture, and being a subterranean fey, its body reflects its environment. Good stuff.

Speed: Given its focus on grace and mobility, I would have preferred a 40 foot speed.

hp: A little low for its CR, but not overly so. In fact, less so for most fey.

AC: High for its CR, CR 8 range, in fact.

Attack: Slightly low for its CR.

Damage: Very low for its CR, but as fey generally aren't built to be melee monsters, this is fine.

Primary Ability DC: On target for its CR.

Saves: Fort is on target for a low save. Reflex a bit high, Will a bit low. Not too far as to be out of whack though.

Spell-Like Abilities: Seem appropriate for the creature. Judges have already mentioned formatting.

CMD: Shouldn't it be 25?

Feats: Appropriate for it build. Quicken Spell-Like Ability should have the name of the SLA it augments in parentheses after the name of the feat.

Skills: No problems. Thank you for keeping the math simple.

Special Abilities:
Cut in with Care: Seemed a bit overpowered at first glance, then I realized the 50% chance is only during the first full round of it using the enchanting dance ability. Not so bad, and a clever ability.

Elegant Maneuvers: Fitting ability given its others, and thematically appropriate.

Enchanting Dance: I like it, but I have problems with its mechanics. This is an opportunity to make up for its practically nonexistent offense. Maybe up the damage to 3d6, or even 4d6 since it's nonlethal. The Wisdom damage thing is weird. Creatures with 0 Wis are usually comatose. I think this could use some tweaking.

Background: Excellently written. I get a clear fix on their presence in Nar-Voth.

Overall, I really like the flavor of this monster. There are a couple of mechanical issues, but it has a lot of mojo. We'll see if the mojo is enough to carry it past half the contenders into the next round. Good luck!

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

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Congratulations on making the Top 16! :D

Mystical dancing fey has some evocative imagery and I like the physical description of these dark fey creatures. This creature is definitely tied to Nar-Voth and one of its kingdoms, so kudos there! I like the idea of eerie singing and percussion music coming from nearby a surprised party as these elegant creatures dance into view.

Their physical attack method doesn’t seem to fit with the notion of dance partners, however. It is an attack using very low damage more than enchanting someone into a doomed dance. The Wisdom damage definitely fits better than the other mechanics.

There is something missing here; maybe tighter mechanics covering a more evocative dance/battle technique. As a result I will not be voting for this entry even though it has some interesting ideas.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka SmiloDan

I imagine the AC is high for its CR because coryphae are not usually encountered alone. They are usually encountered in groups with an ECL above 7, such as a pair at ECL 9, or a quartet at ECL 11, etc.


I get the sense of a cool concept. I think where this could use the most help is in the mechanics.

Elegant moves forces me to recalculate its bonuses if anything happens to slow this creature down. Like, say, dancing with a Large and powerful creature.

I think enchanting dance could lean on the standard rules a bit more. I'm thinking this creature should get grab on its claws, Improved Grapple as a bonus feat, and the batter/Wisdom drain should be a grappling benefit. Cut in with care could apply whenever the coriphae has someone grappled.

A creature with Wisdom 0 that is dominated is still unconscious. Oops.

I like the visuals, but it does remind me of the temptation scene from Legend, so no bonus points there.

Star Voter Season 8

The Good: Where to start? Okay; it's a fey creature that manages to be otherworldly and true to the style of the creature type while still being a credible threat and not relying on a bunch of SLA, and thus, impressive for that alone. It's a very clever use of the grapple rules to make it a dangerous, keep combat mobile and the players on their toes. Its high AC, DR and Cut in with Care are balanced by its dependence on moving; force it to stay still and it becomes a much easier target, making the fight require tactics and thought. Adding to that, the SLA it has gives the GM tools to vary one encounter from another. Lastly, the use of nonlethal damage gives a whole pile of roleplay opportunities in lieu of a TPK should things go badly for the PCs.
The Bad: There are some clunky bits, as have been pointed out. The dominate ability needed to clarify that rather than being unconscious at Wis 0, they are instead dominated. Or have it stop at Wis 1 and dominate then.
The Ugly: There's some number wrangling if it's slowed down, which is a tad annoying and will be forgotten frequently (I've been in a lot of games where the GM forgets to remove the shield AC from goblins and such using bows. It's extra math that gets overlooked very frequently).

Maybe it's just that I have a soft spot for a well-made fey creature that isn't all about giggle-poking people, but this is my definite favorite out of the ensemble, I must admit. It's a very clever design that promotes some outside-the-box thinking on behalf of the players. I love it.

I most definitely will be voting for this one.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka SmiloDan

Cut in with Care might work better as an immediate action that allows the coryphae to redirect an attack against it to the creature it is dancing with.

Maybe have enchanting dance cause 3d6 or 4d6 points of non-lethal damage each round, and if the (one round) result exceeds the victim's Wisdom score, it becomes dominated.

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 The dancing ability and the description sell me and the mechanics overall feel well thought out.
Bad and Ugly There's a few wording issues but an editor will coax out better from you.
Overall B+ this is likely to get my 3rd or 4th vote.

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

Its a humanoid, so why no gender pronoun? I was kind of thrown off on the descriptive sentence because you kept saying "it" instead of choosing a gender pronoun for the fey.

Not particularly a fan of a fey with a name that has a play on the word fey in the name (I read it as Cory-fey)

I feel like its Will should be a better save.

The name "cut in with care" is long, you could have cut the "in".

It's a little weird that this is CR6 with 10 HD. Just saying...

With the dancing theme I still want to see a gender pronoun...this thing is clearly more humanoid than monsteroid.

Ahh, now I see why you named the ability Cut In With Care. You still could have been less clunky with something like Step In Lightly.

Elegant Maneuvers feels weird, I get why you did it, but it feels like you had a class in mind and this was your way of getting around the restriction of no monsters with class levels.

Enchanting Dance needs something about if ANY of the Improved or Greater feats that affect CMB also affect this. It also would have benefitted greatly from come cooler version if a troupe or company dances with a creature.

I feel like I'm missing a dance related dodge ability.

Overall, this is...interesting. A Riverdance kind of feeling but I feel there are several execution missteps. I also have questions about the abilities and how they interact if multiple coryphae dance together (and why there's a lack of a witch's coven type ability for multiple dancing coryphae).

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

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theheadkase wrote:

It's a little weird that this is CR6 with 10 HD. Just saying...

That's the appropriate number of HD for a CR 6 fey, from 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?

(copy/pasted from Narrick thread)

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka SmiloDan

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Probably because fey have d6 HD AND +1/2 BAB. So 10d6 leads to 35 hit points and +5 to attack rolls, before any ability score modifiers.

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

I get the sense that where the coryphae would shine the most would be as part of an encounter that included other dark fey creatures as well, like redcaps, evil satyrs, and the like. While very evocative and unique in its own right, this critter seems like it would 'play well' with other enemy monsters, so to speak.

Definitely has my vote. :)

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

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theheadkase wrote:
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?

Dan Jones is right.

If a fey had a much lower HD than the table indicates, it wouldn't be able to hit the target values for attack bonus and hp in the other table in the same section of the book. Of course, it's possible to compensate for a low HD with high Str and Con, but usually HD is the more elegant solution -- that way, the monster won't end up having absurdly high Str and Con for its size/concept.

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Mikko Kallio wrote:
theheadkase wrote:
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?

Dan Jones is right.

If a fey had a much lower HD than the table indicates, it wouldn't be able to hit the target values for attack bonus and hp in the other table in the same section of the book. Of course, it's possible to compensate for a low HD with high Str and Con, but usually HD is the more elegant solution -- that way, the monster won't end up having absurdly high Str and Con for its size/concept.

Nice summation Mikko. I do like these snippets that explain the logic of the ruleset. Thanks.

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Elegant and darque. Would fit right into the shadowroads of the Midgard Campaign Setting, or that settings Courts of the Shadowfey.

Doesn't feel like it belongs in Nar Voth, and I am unfamiliar with Frilogarma.

Does feel like a one-trick pony, but what a trick!

Cut in With Care is awesome.

The spells, skills and feats are all on theme for this tricksy fae.

Nice organizational distinctions.

Not my favorite type of creature, but extra points for making something a little different than true-combat hulk or just-weird aberration.


From Google, it seems that Koryphae is possibly a German synonym for the Korybantes (Corybants). The Korybantes were Phrygian ecstatic dancers. I do like a good bi-lingual pun, but in this case, it kind of spoils the joke.

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You made my top 8, but not my top 4. It just didn't connect with me enough to get a vote. Though overall it is well done.

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This was the seventh monster I read.
I'll just be giving my initial impressions:
Huh. Creepy. I like it.
I like the name, I like the concept of a dancing fey ensnaring a partner, and I like the writing style toward the end.
There were a few aspects of the mechanics that made me wonder if something actually would work a certain way, but I'm afraid I'm too tired right now to look it all up myself, so I'll just be reading the judge comments and, if they don't call out any of it, I'll be giving you the benefit of the doubt.
So, yeah. I'd enjoy using this creature in a game!

Addition after reading judge comments: Yeah, the unconsciousness due to wisdom damage was something I was wondering about... So that part would really need to be clarified or adapted. Overall, I really like the concept and writing, though!

Also, Lucus, I disagree that this monster is too closely tied to it's setting. The contest rules specifically wanted a creature tied to Nar-Voth, not a more generic Bestiary entry. This is a niche monster, but I believe that's what was requested, and this one fits its niche beautifully.

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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 sorry, this is ridiculous. This thing dances me into servitude? Really?

And beyond that, it's not even well set up to do so. The Dance is poorly explained. You give both the grappled condition, but give no procedure for continuing the dance on an already grappled target. Moving, for example, is totally different in a grapple. The nonlethal damage is also counterproductive here--it's actually somewhat likely that you'll knock an enemy out before they take enough Wisdom damage to dominate, and there's also no provision for dancing with an unconscious opponent.

I also am not sure what makes this especially suited to Nar-Voth beyond you saying it lives there. No, I really don't like this creature at all. Too silly, sloppily written, no place in the world beyond "they randomly sneak up on parties and dance battle them for, you know, reasons." Sorry, but no.

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mplindustries wrote:
I'm sorry, this is ridiculous. This thing dances me into servitude? Really? ... I also am not sure what makes this especially suited to Nar-Voth beyond you saying it lives there.

I suppose this just shows a difference of opinion and play-style preference. Personally, I think the concept of a gleefully manic fey dancing a victim into servitude is creepy and fitting for a fey creature.

The mechanics of the dance could, I agree, use some clarification.

However, this creature is particularly well suited to the Court of Ether, which, a quick google search will reveal, is already an established Nar-Voth location.

EDIT: One additional comment since I just had an amusing thought... Hey, Scott, you, your avatar, and your monster all Zumba! :) Maybe one of you should wear my Varisian Dancing Chain...

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Lady Firedove wrote:
mplindustries wrote:
I'm sorry, this is ridiculous. This thing dances me into servitude? Really?

I suppose this just shows a difference of opinion and play-style preference. Personally, I think the concept of a gleefully manic fey dancing a victim into servitude is creepy and fitting for a fey creature.

I agree, the dance seems quite fey-ish to me. If there isn't another fey that does this already, this one should be added to the official roster.

The only reason I didn't vote for this monster is that I was sure enough other people will, and I moved a vote to one I felt might need the boost. I'm sure Scott hates to hear that, and I'll feel bad if it doesn't make it, but it really should.

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I just pictured the Jack Nicholson Joker dancing with Vicky Vale in that creepy bell tower.

If this monster isn't voted up, there should definitely be an evil bard spell that lets you make an opponent dance with you, take non-lethal damage until it is dominated, and act as a (demi?)human shield.

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Yeah, I think other people's games have a much different tone than mine.

To clarify, I agree that elegant dancing is a thing the fey would do. I can very much imagine the PCs attending a Fey party, and having it be a tense affair where they have to fit in and mingle to get a boon or accomplish some other goal, but there are harrows at every turn, including food/drink that enchants you, dancing that sweeps you away and makes you susceptible, etc. In that context, the idea is solid gold.

But this is not a creature for an enchanted ball. This is a creature that sneaks up on people in underground tunnels and ambushes them...with a surprise waltz! It's absurd and ridiculous. Fey are awesome, and the high noble fey enchanting you with a dance is awesome. But not as an ambush in a dark tunnel!

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mplindustries wrote:
But this is not a creature for an enchanted ball. This is a creature that sneaks up on people in underground tunnels and ambushes them...with a surprise waltz! It's absurd and ridiculous. Fey are awesome, and the high noble fey enchanting you with a dance is awesome. But not as an ambush in a dark tunnel!

Where do you see that? The first line of the write-up is "In the elegant, darkly beautiful Court of Ether, the coryphae (pronounced KOR-i-fay) entertain and protect the nymph-queen Frilogarma."

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Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
mplindustries wrote:
But this is not a creature for an enchanted ball. This is a creature that sneaks up on people in underground tunnels and ambushes them...with a surprise waltz! It's absurd and ridiculous. Fey are awesome, and the high noble fey enchanting you with a dance is awesome. But not as an ambush in a dark tunnel!
Where do you see that? The first line of the write-up is "In the elegant, darkly beautiful Court of Ether, the coryphae (pronounced KOR-i-fay) entertain and protect the nymph-queen Frilogarma."

"Usually encountered in groups, stealthy coryphae often approach unnoticed; a sudden burst of frantic music is the only warning that the coryphae have arrived. They gracefully sweep enemies up in their unearthly frolic, bewitching the weak-willed and turning them to their dark Majesty's service."

They are from the court, but they encountered as stealthy, dance ambushers. You're walking around, when--Bam! You got served!

I can only imagine the sudden burst of frantic music as "let's see you dance, sucka you got nothin' on me..."

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Adam Daigle wrote:
That manic dance element just really jives with what I think of when I think of the fey in Candlestone Caverns.

Heh. 90% of the time when people say "jive" in this context they mean "jibe", but in this case "jive" makes a pretty good pun, intentional or not.

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Now I'm picturing those creepy dancing wooden doll-looking demons from "Once More, With Feeling" on Buffy....

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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.
Very evocative fey, which is my favorite creature type. Love the dancing effect and the image that comes with it. I’m concerned about the limited potential for use, seems pretty specific to the Court of Ether and unlikely to be found anywhere else (and Nar-Voth is a big place). Kalervo’s dread glutton also hails from the Court, but strikes me as more likely to be found elsewhere. As mentioned before, the dancing risks it becoming a one-trick pony as well.
Hope to see an equally evocative encounter with cleaner execution from you if you advance. Good luck!

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I can talk now, right?

The big thing is to thank everyone for their feedback — yes, EVERYONE! I never assumed my monster was for all tastes, and if people hating my monster leads to cool links to South Park cartoons, hey, I can live with that.

There are certainly some things I'd do a little differently if I had a re-do, though I think I got the essence of the monster across well. And like, I imagine, a lot of the contestants, I really wish I had had another 50 words to play with. (An early draft I sent Jacob (Michaels) had 10 special abilities/weaknesses to choose from, which, he pointed out, is more than Cthulhu has. I forget how many words it clocked in at, but it was A LOT.)

As for the details, here are spoilered items you can read as you wish:

The Name:
The first draft was a neutral creature called a Terpsichorean, but the switch to the Darklands required a revision. Thunderfrog nailed it: I took the French word for the chief ballerina in a ballet troupe ("coryphee", with an accent over the first "e" I don't know how to code), switched the accented vowel for an "a", and voila, we have the Coryphae. But I wanted it to be pronounced like its namesake, hence the pronunciation guide in the write-up. I went back and forth on that, and I knew some people would object, but what can I say, I hate not knowing how weird monster names should be pronounced, and the thought of people pronouncing it wrong really bugged me. (It still drives me nuts that no one is sure how to pronounce "drow" — like "crow" or like "cow".) Can't say I regret that choice, whatever the judges say. Also, being a Classicist, I know about the Corybantes, but they were never in my mind when I renamed the monster. I can't see the harm in another connection to manic dancers, though!

The inspiration:
The dancing scene in Legend was mentioned, and I remember that scene clearly (beautiful imagery, no?), but I confess I was inspired not by that but by the dancing scene in Labyrinth. I am well aware that some of you will now feel compelled to despise me, but hey, my daughter loves that movie with the burning heat of a thousand suns, and it would make her happy. That's worth some contempt from strangers in my book :-)
I also got some mileage out of the fey in the wonderful novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which every lover of fey should definitely check out.
I kept expecting somebody to mention the Baobhan Sith, another fey that uses dancing, but though I knew about that monster, I built the coryphae to work very differently. So it's just as well no one mentioned it.

this willowy humanoid...:
Saw this one coming. I myself didn't like calling it a "humanoid", for exactly the reason the judges gave: it makes the reader expect a humanoid-type creature. Somewhere along the way, in this thread or another, someone suggested "figure" instead, and that's certainly a superior choice. Wish I had thought of it :(

CMD:
Yep, should be 27. I left out its BAB. Oops.

Defense:
Several people commented on how hard it would be to take these guys out — between DR 10, a decent AC, evasion, a high Reflex save, and "cut in with care", they're hard to hit. (An early version had a special ability called "dance all night" that granted fast healing when they were dancing too, but I dropped that as overkill.) But I always knew this monster wasn't going to be dishing out damage the way other monsters typically do, so they needed to be durable enough to last a while if they were going to have any chance at posing a threat. And since, as elegant fey, I wanted them to be a bit on the frail side and not have loads of hit points, that meant making them hard to damage in the first place. In retrospect, I probably should have left the DR at 5, but otherwise I think their defenses are about right.

Offense:
It's true that they can't hit hard, but I was following the lead of classic fey like the nymph (who's close in CR) in that regard. Also, I was hopeful that some people at least would see "cut in with care" as a sort of back-door offensive ability; instead of the coryphae dishing out the damage directly, they'd let the players do that for them. In fact, I really like that image, and enjoy imagining the face of the first player who accidentally chops into his buddy who's been swept up by a coryphae. It would push the players to seek other ways of dealing with the threat than just charging in with axes flying, which, to me, is a really desirable outcome.
Also, I can understand why people were calling the coryphae a one-trick pony, but I'd also point out its SLA's, which give it a few other solid options beyond dancing.
A couple people suggested that this monster is the sort that could have extra abilities develop when they work in groups; I also had that thought, and had a special ability for the original "Terpsichorean" version of the monster that worked that way, but I just didn't have enough words to play with.

Enchanting Dance:
This ability is of course the central element in the monster's design. From the start, my goal was to make a monster that confronted the PC's with an unusual sort of threat, something cinematic that would also not be just your typical slog to see who runs out of hp first. The trick is to make it a serious threat without making it overwhelming, and keeping the effect simple enough that the GM can easily track it. Earlier drafts were a lot more complicated (and wordier); I had a system tracking how many rounds a coryphae had danced with you, with new effects (fatigue, charm, exhaustion, etc., some triggering immediately, some triggering once you stopped dancing) kicking in with each successive round. Too complicated, out it went. The word limit kept what remained from being as clear as I'd like. Some basic things I'd like to clear up: (1) I intended the domination effect to take the place of the usual coma at Wisdom 0, but should have said so, or made Wisdom 1 the trigger point and not let the Wisdom damage take anyone below that level. (2) If the coryphae succeeded at claiming a partner, the partner would go wherever the coryphae took it, effectively granting it whatever movement abilities the coryphae enjoyed for the duration of its "partnership". (3) When PC's are moved around by the coryphae, they do provoke AoO's (just as the coryphae do). (4) The coryphae needs to make a new CMB check each round to continue dancing with a captured partner.
I know that's a lot of unclarities to clear up, but like I said, I really wished I had another 50 words to play with. Hopefully people still saw the potential enough to vote for it, and if anyone ever wants to use the coryphae at their own table, hopefully this clears some things up.

a couple random bits:
I had intended the monster to have a couple of weaknesses: "dependent on music", which would have reduced the DC's of all its abilities if the coryphae couldn't hear music, and "connoisseur", which would have staggered it (and thus removed enchanting dance as an option) if it observed a non-coryphae make a DC 25 Perform (dance) check. And it had a special ability called "contagious skill" that gave its partners an increasing bonus to Perform (dance) checks the longer they danced with it, to make it easier for them to hit that DC 25 the closer they got to being dominated. Again, just not enough words to play with!

Again, thanks to everyone who took the time to read my monster's write-up and comment on it; every comment, positive or negative, helped me obsess a little less throughout the week. I'm especially grateful to those who tried to speak up for it and clear up misperceptions while I was unable to speak for myself. And a big thanks as well to those who voted for it! Hopefully there were enough of you to get me into Round 4!

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I was vaguely reminded of the Danse Macabre monster from the Skeletons of Scarwall AP, but Coryphae was different enough that it's its own monster.

I really do think regardless of the outcome of the contest, this monster is the one that needs a version in the official bestiaries. It's a niche of fae that should exist.

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That's a high compliment! Thanks very much, sincerely.

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Huzzah! I'm thrilled that you got through!
This was one of my favorite monsters and earned my vote.
Nicely done. :)

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Scott LaBarge wrote:

Dressed in exotic finery, this willowy humanoid has smooth skin of jet black, a graceful and athletic frame, and a hairless head topped by a crown of softly glowing crystals that flash as it moves; its sharp-featured face shines with manic and sinister joy.

Coryphae CR 6XP 2,400

Congratulations on Top 16 (now 8!) Scott,

Since you already thanked me I guess I should comment... :)
I liked the concept a lot. Dancing as an attack is one of those why-hasn't-this-been-done-already? moments when I read it. Fey is the perfect choice. I didn't like the mechanics of it though. The 50% works fine (glad you included 'see below'), but is a little passive for what I imagine a dance-attacking fey would have. Using the 'ride skill to avoid an attack on your mount' would be a fun mechanic to base this off of--doubtful if it is worth the words--but it would make the ability more fearsome. Enchanting dance took me several read-through's to get it and I kept thinking the inspire courage bardic ability would have been more direct. The fact that the movement provokes AoO seemed unreasonable with mobility, cut-in, and a +18 to acrobatics.

BUT this is an inspired critter and the game will be better for it. :)

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