Round 3: Create a Bestiary entry

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Amanuensis

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The stinger and antennae of this dog-sized wasp pulsate with a dim violet light. Intricate patterns shimmer faintly on the opalescent wings that grow in two pairs from its black exoskeleton.

Gloomwasp CR 6 XP 2400
N small magical beast
Init +4; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, see invisibility; Perception +15

----- Defense -----
AC 19, touch 15, flat-footed 15 (+4 Dex, +4 natural, +1 size)
hp 66 (7d10+28)
Fort +10, Ref +9, Will +4; +2 vs. mind-affecting
Defensive Abilities shadow blending; Immune poison; SR 12
Weaknesses light blindness

----- Offense -----
Speed 10 ft., fly 60 ft. (good)
Melee sting +12 (1d3+1 plus blacklight)
Ranged 2 light rays +12 ranged touch (1d6 plus blacklight)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 7th)
Constant—see invisibility
1/day—dust of twilight (DC 15)

----- Statistics -----
Str 12, Dex 19, Con 18, Int 5, Wis 14, Cha 17
Base Atk +7; CMB +7; CMD 21
Feats Flyby Attack, Point-Blank Shot, Target of Opportunity, Weapon Finesse
Skills Fly +15, Perception +15, Stealth +14; Racial Modifiers +8 Perception
Languages Dark Folk (understanding only), telepathy (100 ft., other gloomwasps only)
SQ corrupt light

----- Ecology -----
Environment any underground
Organization solitary, pair, cluster (3–6), or nest (7–24)
Treasure none

----- Special Abilities -----
Blacklight (Ex) A creature exposed to a gloomwasp's strange radiation emits a violet light for 1 minute (as if affected by faerie fire) and must make a DC 17 Fortitude save or suffer medium radiation poisoning (see Radiation, Technology Guide 56). The save DC is Constitution-based.
Corrupt Light (Su) Three gloomwasps can focus their light rays on a single light source within 30 feet, such as a lantern, a torch, or a continual flame, as a full-round action. The affected light source becomes corrupted, shedding only dim light and exposing all creatures within range to the gloomwasps' blacklight. An attended light source can attempt a DC 19 Will save to resist this effect. The effect continues for as long as the participating gloomwasps spend a standard action each round to focus on the light source. The effect immediately ends and must be started anew if any of the participating gloomwasps is slain, stunned, or otherwise prevented from using its light rays. The save DC is Constitution-based and includes a +2 racial bonus.
Light Ray (Ex) A gloomwasp can fire beams of ultraviolet light from its antennae to damage foes. These light rays have a maximum range of 30 feet. This attack overcomes damage reduction of any type and deals double damage to fungi, mold, oozes, slimes, undead, and creatures with the light sensitivity or light blindness weakness.
Shadow Blending (Su) Attacks against a gloomwasp in dim light have a 50% miss chance instead of the normal 20% miss chance. This ability does not grant total concealment; it just increases the miss chance.

Gloomwasps are the product of experiments conducted by an alliance between the Umbral Court and the dark folk living in the Shadow Caverns below the Uskwood (Into the Darklands 8). Infused with shadow magic and endowed with the ability to use light as a weapon against other underground dwellers, these aggressive creatures were created to enforce the common interest of both parties in the confined passages of the Darklands. Unforseen by their creators, gloomwasps were not only able to reproduce naturally, but also exhibited signs of increased intelligence and independence. They spread quickly into the cave systems deep below the surface, building nests in narrow tunnels and hollow rock formations.
Gloomwasps are most dangerous when encountered in large numbers and work together effectively to overwhelm prey of superior size and strength, including humanoids.

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

Gloomwasp is a pretty ok name. It describes the creature very well and is somewhat evocative.

I like the concept; with so many burrowing creatures this round, I like the variety that these flavorful wasps bring to round 3. They're also legitimately scary; most people hate and fear wasps but uhh these ones are even worse. Much worse. Great concept for a monster!

Descriptive line

Good descriptive line, nice, evocative details and works well as read-aloud text.

Stat block

Size categories should always be capitalized (small > Small). The XP value is missing a thousands separator comma. Other than that, the formatting looks correct.

Its damage is way below the target value, though blacklight deals Con drain, so perhaps more damage isn't needed. Other stats are reasonably close to target values.

SR should generally be 11 + CR.

I think the light rays are somewhat contrary to the shadow theme.

In the Languages line, (understanding only) should be (cannot speak).

Special abilities

Blacklight is pretty cruel at CR 6 as the PCs may not have access to restoration yet. I like the visuals very much, though. I guess a PC only makes one save per round even if hit by several light rays, so it's not quite so bad as it could be. But still potentially very crippling.

Corrupt light is a fun ability in that it turns the PCs' equipment into a weapon against them. Its mechanics are also very straightforward. I like it.

With a +12 attack bonus, an attack with a light ray is pretty much an auto-hit against most PCs, so I'm slightly concerned that the gloomwasp doesn't really even need to use the corrupt light ability because it can expose two opponents per round to blacklight very easily.


The description is pretty well written and gives some interesting information about their background. Perhaps there should be more about their behavior, ecology, and society, particularly bits of information that spark encounter and adventure ideas in GMs.

The description mentions that they've been endowed with the ability to use light as a weapon against other underground dwellers, but actually their corrupt light ability is quite useless against creatures with darkvision, blindsight, tremorsense, and similar abilities that most creatures living in the Darklands have. They'll be using their light rays most of the time unless surface dwellers happen by. So, that's a bit of a slip in verisimilitude.

Also, use a spell-checker (”unforseen”).


Great concept, great flavor, and (mostly) great execution. I do recommend this entry for advancement.

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.

I like the name, except that is seems very close to "gloomwing" from Bestiary 2. The description is solidly evocative, and doesn’t fall into any of the common traps.

Corrupt light is neat! Can you end a corrupt light effect on a torch by putting out the torch?

The concept is strong – a wasplike creature, but one that has some very interesting and new things beyond being waspy. It feels very in-tune with the Darklands and general, and you provide a reason it's in Nar-Voth. There are a few issues other judges mention, but overall the presentation is clean.

I'm a big fan of this, overall.

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 like bugs, so this is a good start. The description immediately makes me think of a giant version of a dirt dauber.

• Make sure to capitalize creature sizes. (Should read N Small magical beast).

• When using a feat, spell, or other mechanical element from a source other than the Core Rulebook (such as dust of twilight and Target of Opportunity), we typically cite that with a superscript of initials for that book. Since the codes used in the submission tool don’t account for that, I’m not going to ding you (or anyone) for that. Just pointing it out as a learning experience for folks in their future design.

• When a creature can understand a language but can’t speak, we format it like this: Languages Dark Folk (can’t speak).

• You did a good job citing other books in your submission. I’ve seen a lot of people putting “p.” in front of the page number, and you didn’t. The one thing that you did wrong is not putting the full name of the book. For example, your parenthetical for the Tech Guide should read: Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Technology Guide 56.

• This creature’s damage output is low for its CR, but it makes up for this with the radiation element of its blacklight ability. I think that it getting to use blacklight on all three of its attacks is kinda rough. It ends up causing about as much Con drain as a wraith (which is 1 CR lower), but it can hit multiple targets in a round with that kind of attack and can make it an area of effect attack.

• This is an interesting creature and I like that they work together to accomplish a greater effect. That kind of design informs encounter design regarding these creatures.

• Kuddos for using exact wording for the shadow blending ability and picking up most of the wording for the light ray from the lantern archon.

• This is a pretty deadly creature, especially since you’re likely to encounter at least three of them.

• A few people touched on the Umbral Court, which I think is interesting because I’ve recently refreshed myself with the region while working on a current project. However you touch on not only that location, but also mention an alliance with dark folk from the Shadow Caverns. Those two places are like 500 miles apart, and there are closer dark folk that the Court could deal with that are much closer.

• With the radiation element, these things feel more suited to a deeper level of the Darklands. Since I’m not a huge fan of people engineering monsters (“A wizard did it!”), I’d probably make it that these things originated deeper in the Darklands and in recent decades have infested various chambers in Nar-Voth if I were developing this monster today.

This was an interesting monster. I weakly do recommend this monster to advance.

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

First monster I have seen.

And it doesn't suck so I have high hopes for the other 15.

Good: Corrupt Light, I like the ability, good job!
Bad: Those minor formating errors,
Ugly: "patterns shimmer faintly on the opalescent wings that grow in two pairs from its black exoskeleton." So did I miss it somewhere or was a power cut from the monster? I really thought I would get to see some wing-related power...

Your current rank is 1 of 1.

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

Interesting idea, not a bad mechanic. I almost would rather that these were created by surface folk as an anti-Underdark pest. But otherwise, solid design and execution.

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

Description’s solid. It’s not the most exciting-looking monster (basically a wasp) but the description’s fine.

Write-up’s OK too. I’ve got a good idea of where these things come from but I would like a little more idea how to use them. They have limited intelligence, so what do they want? Do they attack anything they encounter? Do they still follow/enforce the interests of the Umbral Court and the dark folk?

HP =
AC =
Atk =
Dmg – (but has ability damage)
Primary Ability +
Saves: =/-

The SR seems off – typically it’s 11 plus the creature’s CR, while this is 6+CR.

In terms of special abilities, I think corrupting light is the most interesting (blacklight’s nice, combining faerie fire with new rules from the Tech Guide, but isn’t as compelling). I’m a little disappointed that all three gloomwasps have to use a standard action to maintain the corrupting light. I think that nerfs the power a little too much; I’d have preferred it to last 1 minute, like the blacklight. I think that could have really made for a fun battle, with PCs potentially having to keep getting rid of and finding new light sources as the gloomwasps keep corrupting them.

All told, I think this is an interesting creature. I wish I had a slightly better idea how to use them instead of feeling like I need to run out and look up the Umbral Court and the Dark Folk and figure out exactly what their common interests would be, but at the same time, I can see a memorable encounter with a cluster or nest of these guys.

This is the first monster I’ve looked at so far and definitely a weak keep.

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

Name- Gloomwasp. Classic style name. Evocative of its environment, creates an image of what it is and does. Good work!

Description- A little bland. Basically it's a black giant wasp. Art based on this would be rather generic.

Special Abilities- Ability names are good, appropriate. The language of being 'exposed' to Blacklight is potentially confusing, makes it sound as if being within a certain range of the gloomwasp may expose you. Corrupt Light is a great ability, though requiring 3 wasps to take their standard actions to do it could make an encounter with a small number of these a little one-note. I like that Shadow Blending plays off Corrupt Light, though. Nice. Light Ray has a nice touch with the double damage against fungi and so on.

Nar-Voth appropriate- Absolutely. These make complete sense as creatures that attack creatures that need light sources. Deeper in the Darklands that might be a problem, but where they might commonly encounter normal-sighted creatures they work great. Also fit the "wilderness" idea of Nar-Voth.

Other comments- Most comparisons to Wasp, Giant make sense. They're a bit slower on the ground, not sure why, but the rest of it makes sense for a magical wasp vs a really big natural wasp. One possible alternate direction for these - some sort of maddening buzz in their hive area, as the sound of their wings echoes in the confines of a cave environment.

Mojo- Mojo level is high! Lots of imagination here, and it comes together in a coherent whole! This was my favorite monster on my first read of them all.

Will players remember in 6 months- Yes. This would be a fight that stood out in their memories, and an encounter with a nest of these could be a nasty tale for months to come.

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

I like this. It has strong ties to Nar-Voth and it has some cool abilities and a unique niche. Definitely one of my favorites!

(I am trying to imagine what an encounter between a group of these and a deeplit or two would be like. That would be kind of cool!)

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Congratulations on making the Top 16! :D

Ok the visual image of this intelligent wasp is very cool. I like the use of colour and darkness in the description very much. Corrupt light is unique and very evocative. Well done!

Where I begin to lose interest is in the actual attacks of the gloomwasp. Light based attacks that require ownership of the Technology Guide is a miss. A poison effect like what is found in a core book or maybe even the Darklands supplement would have been far better as some people do not like technology in their fantasy. This creature has no ties to tech but uses tech rules? That is a misstep.

The combination of SR, decent AC, and high hp totals for a CR 6 creature makes it a tough fight, even without the 50% miss chance under most circumstances. Each layer of defence effectively increases that hit point total and keeps it in the fight longer. That it’s primary attack penetrates all damage reduction and is a very high ranged touch attack at 2 per round that poisons targets on top of all that…this is a bit too dangerous for a simple CR 6 monster except maybe against a very solid group.

The backstory connects it to Nar-Voth very well, but I think a missed opportunity was here in having giant wasps exposed to the weird radiations of the Darklands and becoming something new instead of having them engineered—that more fits the creations of the drow.

I will not be voting for this entry.

Star Voter Season 8

The Good: Evocative writing, tightly themed abilities and very distinctly tied to the Darklands. The fact they get an extra ray per round when with other wasps is rather neat.
The Bad: I don't think the name is appropriate as wasps are diurnal creatures and this is more of a radioactive firefly, and the sting could have easily been a bite.
The Ugly: Heavy reliance on the Technology Guide, and mechanically awkward due to the use of radiation; As a poison it doesn't repeat the d4 Con drain each time, but it does raise the DC by 2 per hit, and will TPK an appropriately leveled party unless they have neutralize poison or a LOT of lesser restoration.

Honestly, the radiation spam really puts me off this monster. Ranged touch attacks at that bonus are an almost guaranteed hit, and a couple of these monsters pretty much ensure the party all eats d4 Con drain and will be trying to make 2 consecutive saves against daily Strength damage with a DC easily in the high twenties or thirties, due to how poison stacks.

Also; if one doesn't have access to the Technology Guide, you can't use this monster as written. While this is true of many supplements, the Technology Guide is extremely niche and thus less prevalent.

I will not be voting for this entry.

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

Gabriel Almer wrote:

The stinger and antennae of this dog-sized wasp pulsate with a dim violet light. Intricate patterns shimmer faintly on the opalescent wings that grow in two pairs from its black exoskeleton.

Gloomwasp CR 6 XP 2400

Congratulations on Top 16 Gabriel!

I think magical beasts could fill more gaps than they do, though I think wasps in general seem to be everywhere. Maybe the cool striped imagery is easily-transported? Maybe my local PFS has too many Calistrians in it?
The +12 to hit (and 12 SR) seems high, especially since it is for both ray & melee, but not terribly so. Corrupt light is cool and the standard to maintain seems to be a good balance. I do not like corrupting a light source enabling it to poison everyone in it. Sure this is technically not how it works, but visually it is. Likewise shadow blending and 'pulsating stinger' seem contradicting. Visually I like the corrupt light ability--it is something I could play with and shadow blend increasing miss chance without granting cover is a good and interesting design choice.

This critter has a tight theme, and plays with the DARKlands in a logical way. It has made my keep pile. Good luck :)

EDIT: under prefix changed to lands suffix. (Whew caught that name gaff with enough time to edit! )

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

Raynulf wrote:
Also; if one doesn't have access to the Technology Guide, you can't use this monster as written. While this is true of many supplements, the Technology Guide is extremely niche and thus less prevalent.

FWIW, the Tech Guide is in the PRD.

The description of blacklight didn't make it immediately clear what "exposed" meant, although I assume it is meant to apply to the attacks (as listed above) and the corrupt light.

The range on corrupt light is ambiguous, as light sources such as a torch give their range in bands of illumination. It also doesn't specify how far the dim light illuminates; I can infer it might be to the edge of the area it would normally grant up to dim light, but working strictly from a torch, it could be a single 20 foot band. From a balance standpoint, depending on reading, this could be an ability that has to be used on a target within 30 feet but affects opponents within twice that distance or more.

At CR 6, with multiple Con damage possible each round, this is pretty mean. However, as it is usually encountered in groups, in a CR-appropriate encounter, PCs will probably have adequate countermeasures.

Overall, a mean but balanced creature, interesting concept, with a weak name and some wobbly rules writing. I think corrupt light is not bad for a first draft but needs to be rewritten for balance and ease of play.

Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

I liked this monster but wasn't sure if it should have been a magical beast. I mean, it's a vermin + techno abberation + stuff.

I don't like the thought of it shooting blinding rays of white light while being a gloomwasp, but thats not a big deal really. I know some folks are knocking the name, but I don't think a descriptive name is so terrible.

Its just confusing on how to portray this to players.. its augmented with tech guide rules and feats, but is supposed to be an insectoid, but is also intelligent with no stated goals/tendencies other than hive activity.

Creativity and Theme: 3/5

Running this monster as a DM: 3/5

Encountering this monster as a complex/story encounter: 2/5

Encountering this monster as a random encounter: 3/5

11 / 20 pts.

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

IMO, people are reading a little too much into the use of radiation from the Tech Guide.

Pathfinder Chronicles: Into the Darklands has a section on radiation as a hazard:

One of the strangest and least understood aspects of the Darklands are the unusual forms of radiation that permeate the deepest regions. Some of these are useful and some are extremely deadly; some are natural in source while others have mystical or magical sources. Following are the three most commonly known forms of radiation to be found in the Darklands.

Now, it does list three types of radioactive hazards, but I think it makes sense to use the updated radiation rules from the much more recently released Technology Guide. I don't think this is any sort of tech creature, or is even mixing sci-fi with fantasy, it's just the designer using more recent rules.

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

Not a fan of the name. Love the blacklight radiation and the intricate patterns shimmering - just want to know a little bit more about what they are and why they appear on the gloomwing.

I was less worried about the light-antennae being light for a gloomwing than how light was emanating from the antennae. Now I'm more worried about the light beams directly.

I get the feeling Nar-Voth has cramped folks.

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


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

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

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

Good You went for a flying creature underground which was a demonstration of you're growth in monster design. There's a lot to like here with the radiation and the light in darkness. You took on the challenge and played with convention in a way that is very strong.
Bad and Ugly The name evokes the Gloombat from Diablo which is a shame this is not that and you prolly don't want me thinking you're sourcing other material as a designer. I'm not aq fan of radiation in a fantasy setting but that's not your fault it is a part of Goleran so it's a valid choice.
Overall This is likely to get my vote but there are elements I'd reskin for my own game in particular the radiation doesn't land with me. These seem like a great answer to the summoner that over uses lantern archons... Compared to previous season favorites I'd rate this an -A which is where I rated my favorite this season. It doesn't hold up to favorites of previous seasons but against this batch it will likely pick up my vote. I loved you map hated your staff and your monster is one of the better options.

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

I'm a little put off by the name since there already exists a Gloomwing, which is an outsider. Not necessarily a bad thing but this shares the beginning of the name with that creature and is a magical beast instead.

Dog-sized doesn't necessarily equate to Small. Some dogs are Large sized. Some dogs would be considered Tiny.

The Will save is +2 to mind affecting, which is by far the most commonly used spell type that requires a Will save. So basically this thing only has a bad save against a fear effect, and only non mind affecting fear effects at that.

Wasps are pretty good fliers...not sure why this isn't perfect but that's a small nitpick.

Something seems wrong with the +12 to sting.

2 light rays, on a creature that thrives in darkness and has light blindness...doesn't really make sense. Plus, a +12 to a ranged touch attack is guaranteed to hit.

Int 5 but constant see invisibility and dust of twilight? Not sure what kind of caster this is, but if it is a Bard type, using Cha, then that's the only reason for such a high Cha score. If not, then its Int is way to low to cast this.

Any underground? So in an underground lake of magma? :)

Ahh now I see why the light ray, I would have called it Ultraviolet Ray instead. Light Ray with a light blind creature is too weird.

Overall, I like what you want to do, I just don't think you executed very well. I think you needed to cut down one or two abilities and instead spend more time on tightening the theme and making sound decisions on that theme. For example, Corrupt Light requires 3 gloomwasps to focus their light rays (both in a round or just 1?) to subject all creatures within 30 ft. to blacklight. That's pretty crazy at CR 6 to begin with but the gloomwasps would be blinded by the light source to be able to focus their rays on it...meaning they have a 50% miss chance just to target a stationary light source. If you removed the light blindness (which only makes sense because its an underground creature, but its a magical beast so why?) then that wouldn't be an issue but as is it would be largely useless and the theme conflicts.

Star Voter Season 8

Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
Raynulf wrote:
Also; if one doesn't have access to the Technology Guide, you can't use this monster as written. While this is true of many supplements, the Technology Guide is extremely niche and thus less prevalent.
FWIW, the Tech Guide is in the PRD.

I know - it's how I found the rules for what the radiation poisoning does :)

I've also gamed at a number of tables where all digital devices are banned... which might sound a bit archaic, but to date they've been excellent games (a lot depends on how good the individuals involved are at leaving the internet alone and focusing on the game).

It's not a show-stopper, but the monster really could have used a short description of what mild radiation poisoning does. In my opinion, anyway.

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

theheadkase wrote:
Any underground? So in an underground lake of magma? :)

That's a standard phrase that applies to a lot of monsters. Svirfneblin, rust monster, phantom fungus, purple worm, ...

In other words, it's not a mistake.

This is the 15th (almost there!) monster entry I've read. Initial impressions are positive. A radioactive, laser-shooting cave wasp? Sounds good so far. Let's break it down and see what's here.

Name: From just the name, I was expecting something shadow-based, not light-based. Not sure if this is the best fit.

Description: Excellent. I've got a clear mental image of the thing.

hp: Low, but close to target. HD is actually one higher than typical for a magical beast of this CR.

AC: On the money for its CR.

Attack: On the high end of its CR.

Damage: Really low, but the special attacks might balance that.

Primary Ability DC: A little high for the CR.

Saves:Little high, little on target. No problems here.

Spell-Like Abilities: They fit. Constant see invisibility is nasty, but in a good way.

Feats: Good selection that fit the monster. Again, another teamwork feat. Walking into a nest of these things would be scary.

Skills: Math adds up. Looks good here.

Special Abilities:

Black Light: I share Adam's concerns that multiple attacks using this ability could be severe. That Con damage really adds up.

Corrupt Light: Neat ability. I like it. Very original concept.

Light Ray: Mikko makes a good point that there's no real need for using corrupt light when it has these attacks, especially with the teamwork feat added in.

Shadow Blending: Neat defensive ability.

Background: I like it overall. Tight theme, fits nicely into Nar-Voth.

On the whole, this is a strong entry. Good concept, themed abilities, and a monster I'd like to throw a party against. Good luck to you in the voting.

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

I would disagree Mikko, that was one of the things SKR mentioned specifically in previous years.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka JoelF847

Overall, I like the monster, but I'm not sold on it being based on a wasp, when it was engineered by darklands cultures. Giant wasps aren't really underground creatures, and if darklands races experimented to create a radiation monster, I'd think they'd use something more native to the darklands. To keep it as a flying threat, I'd have used a bat rather than wasp, or changed the origin to support why it's a wasp deep in the caverns of the darklands. It could be extraplanar and migrated, or something maybe.

Also, while there are some radiation themes withe the darklands, using the rules for radiation from the tech guide are harsh if you're not specifically playing in a technology based game. In Numeria, you have tech items and characters who have to contend with it and are semi-prepared to do so. It's a bit more jarring to have it come out of the blue (or out of the dark as the case may be) when exploring the darklands.

There are burrowing wasps.

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

despite some mechanical issues I really like this monster. The fact that they gain a new ability when there are several of them allows this monster to be slightly more effective when used in multiples against a higher level party is awesome.

Marathon Voter Season 8

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

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

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

I really like this creature's abilities. The radiation is cool (I actually like the tech guide, even though other voters seem very opposed to it), I like the teamwork abilities (Corrupt Light and Target of Opportunity), pretty much everything.

My only complaint, and it's a big one that might cause you to lose my vote if the last three I have to read are great, is that this creature doesn't seem to have any goals or purpose. You gave it a backstory, but beyond calling them "aggressive," I don't know how I'd use these. Why do they attack? Do they eat people? I have nothing to go on here, meaning it seems like their purpose is, "you are randomly attacked by these cool bug monsters...uh...because." I hate that--natural creatures don't behave like that, and I see no reason why supernatural ones would, either, when holding a similar position in local ecology.

I'm going to have to weigh my vote carefully here, but you might get it.

Star Voter Season 6

Thirteenth monster I've read...
Neat monster, neat concept, generally tight mechanics, fits the setting...
Not sure if I like it enough for one of my four votes, but well done! :)

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

Brief critiques as I prep for the possibility of advancing, focusing on feedback that is hopefully new and constructive to future designs.
Really neat monster, one of my favorites. I don’t really dig the name, but the theme is strong. Watch out for making references to outside sourcebooks, that tends to limit monster accessibility (a fact I should have remembered for my own entry!). I agree that Con drain is pretty devastating for a CR 6 monster, maybe taper that back some. SR not really necessarily to me (in fact, it kind of unbalances it given how dangerous it is alone, never mind in a swarm where magic is all but crucial for defeating them). Love the swarming aspect. I do wish it was more than just combat/random encounter fodder, but still makes for a memorable fight.
Really nice work, you’re clearly one of this year’s consistent frontrunners. Keep up the awesome if you advance, good luck!

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Amanuensis

I would like to thank the judges for their detailed reviews as well as everyone else who took the time to comment on my entry. I found your critiques very helpful and it is really great to see so many different perspectives. I'll share my own thoughts on the subject once the round 3 results are announced.

In the end, you got my vote. I really liked your critter. With a stronger field of competition, the looseness in the writing could have done you in, but in this case, I was willing to give a pass. The concept was strong, and when I looked at my final four, I saw yours clearly belonged.

Best of luck with this round!

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Amanuensis

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Many thanks to everyone who voted for these nasty little monsters!
Considering that this is one of the first monsters I ever designed and that I struggled with a mean cold at that time, I'm content with the result (though I wish I had caught some of those annoying template errors).

A while ago, I did some research on underground monsters in preparation for my home campaign and I made an interesting observation: There are quite a few 'classic' creatures with darkness-based powers (darkfolk, darkmantles, drow), which is odd, becausw they wouldn't be able to use their abilities against other underground creatures (since most of those have darkvision, blindsight, or tremorsense). Darkness-based abilities only make sense against surface dwellers, which they would hardly encounter on a regular basis in their natural environment. The underlying problem here is that these creatures need to have scary powers that can be used against the PCs, but they also need to make sense from an ecological perspective. Darkness-based powers play on a very basic human fear and from a narrative perspective that certainly justifies the inclusion of these monsters, even if there are some logical inconsistencies.
Anyway, this got me thinking: wouldn't a creature with light-based powers be the perfect Darklands predator? Most underground creatures have light-sensitivity or light-blindness, and certain creatures are particularly vulnerable to light effects (see spells like sunburst or sunbeam). I thought that something like a 'dark' lantern archon would be very flavourful and the use of ultraviolet light would be more in theme with the Darklands. And Nidal was a good fit, because the shadow theme implies a combination of darkness and light. Maybe I should have included a few clues as to what the shadowcasters did to those cute little lantern archons during the creation of the first gloomwasps...

The other main concept that I had in mind was to design a creature that can be used in large numbers (meaning they would face more powerful PC's than their CR might suggest) and still be dangerous enough to pose a threat. The bestiary guidelines for monster creation seem to assume encounters with single opponents ('boss monsters') as a baseline. However, it is common knowledge that this kind of encounter design only works for the first few levels--thereafter, action economy works against the GM. In my experience, challenging encounters usually include overwhelming action economy on the GM's side, which usually means a combination of several monsters of lower CR that have good synergies. Unfortunately, many monsters can't keep up with the PC's power progression for long. The fact that gloomwasps use ranged touch attacks means they will still hit reliably and the frequency of their attacks means that radiation poisoning is still a threat, even if the save DC is low compared to what is to be expected for an encounter of the appropriate CR. An encounter with, say, five gloomwasps would be CR 11; eight of these creatures would make for a CR 12 encounter. And at that level, the PC's should be able to handle this kind of threat.

Descriptive Line:
The first version of this monster included a wing-based power, which was cut. I kept the part about the wings, because I liked the visuals. My inspiration for this monster was the black wasp (sphex pensylvanicus), which I thought was both beautiful and scary.

I knew gloomwasp was not terribly original, but I've grown somewhat wary with creative names. My personal favourite would have been cimmerian stinger (probably too poetical and most people would have thought Howard instead of Homer).

Below average SR:
Obviously, the judges felt that SR should generally follow the formula of 11 + CR and I will keep that in mind for the future. It makes sense from the perspective of game mechanics, but I would argue that there is also a psychological aspect to it that speaks for lower SR. The chance of failure due to SR (even if it is only a negligible chance) adds to the encounter's tension and instills rewarding feelings in players who have invested in the Spell Penetration feat (which often seems like a boring, yet necessary choice for spellcasters).

I'm not totally surprised by the fact that referencing the Technology Guide turned some people off, but in this case, it seemed like the most reasonable choice. As Jacob kindly mentioned, radiation is a feature mentioned in Into the Darklands, a somewhat outdated 3.5 sourcebook. The Technology Guide is the most recent source for radiation rules and, since it is part of the PRD, also the most accessible. The alternative would have been to repeat the rules (which are somewhat cumbersome--there is a reason why they don't follow the usual poison format) or create new rules (adding yet another set of rules to those from the existing sources mentioned, which seemed unwise). Ultraviolet light is part of the CRB (see spells like sunburst or sunbeam) and has nothing to do with the Technology Guide.
The fact that radiation is a poison effect (and therefore something that PC's have to deal with on a regular basis) means that players should be prepared for such situations (antitoxins, potions of delay poison). As always, a GM who expects the party to have problems with such an encounter is well-advised to use foreshadowing (having the PC's stumble upon corpses with signs of radiation poisoning) and/or should drop some curative/protective items as loot a few encounters before. Also, keep in mind that using several of these creatures (as intended) increases the CR of the encounter.

Corrupt Light:
I admit that this feature could have used some fine-tuning. The wording could have been clearer and the effect is probably not worth spending a standard action each round just to maintain this power (an increased DC, depending on the number of participating gloomwasps, might warrant the investment). From the rules on vision and light in the CRB, I thought it was pretty clear that a source of dim light does not have a secondary illumination range, but it could have been spelled out for clarity.

I'm not sure if I get Adam's comment about the distance between the Shadow Caverns and the Umbral Court. According to Into the Darklands, the Shadow Caverns lie below the Uskwood, deep in the heart of Nidal (page 8). Both the historical information on the Everwar and the map on page 7 support that information. I get, however, that engineered monsters are a somewhat overused trope. Mutation as a result of exposure to underground radiation could work, but then I would have had a hard time selling this as a Nar-Voth creature.
I guess I should have included more information on how to use this monster as a GM (I struggled with my word count). While implied, it's not stated explicitly that gloomwasps feed on warm-blooded creatures (and would therefore nest preferably in proximity to settlements or trade routes). Many people have stated their desire for more intelligent/social monsters, which is quite understandable. When I started practicing monster design, I thought that there was a distinct lack of social monsters in the game and I created one for the same reason. It was even a monster with Darklands ties, but there was simply no reason for it to be in Nar-Voth, which is basically a wild and largely uninhabited environment.
I have to admit that I found the Nar-Voth tie to be very restrictive. Since Nar-Voth regions usually aren't connected with each other, one would either have to create a monster that is specific to a certain region (and therefore potentially a plot device) or come up with a very good reason for the creature to be a common Nar-Voth encounter. I am very impressed by how some of the other contestants dealt with that challenge.

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