Round 3: Create a Bestiary entry

Lantern Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka Black Powder Chocobo

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This small humanoid bears large gray eyes. Its round head is supported by a lithe, narrow frame.

Aetherling CR 5
XP 1,600
N Small fey
Init +6; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, force sight 60 ft.; Perception +13

----- Defense -----
AC 21, touch 13, flat-footed 19 (+4 armor, +2 Dexterity, +4 shield, +1 size)
hp 52 (8d6+24)
Fort +7, Ref +8, Will +8
Defensive Abilities aetherwall

----- Offense -----
Speed 30 ft.
Melee dagger +7 (1d3-1/19–20)
Special Attacks force javelin
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 8th; concentration +11)
Constant—mage armor, shield
At will—mage hand

----- Statistics -----
Str 8, Dex 14, Con 16, Int 13, Wis 14, Cha 18
Base Atk +4; CMB +2 CMD 14
Feats Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Stealthy, Weapon Finesse
Skills Escape Artist +15, Knowledge (arcana) +9, Knowledge (geography) +12, Perception +13, Sense Motive +13, Stealth +19, Use Magic Device +15
Languages Canto, Undercommon
SQ force alteration

----- Ecology -----
Environment underground
Organization solitary, squad (3-4), or team (5-8)
Treasure standard

----- Special Abilities -----
Aetherwall (Sp) Aetherlings are able to string together aether strands to form a defensive barrier. As a standard action, an aetherling can create a 5-ft. square of force similar to a wall of force that lasts for 1 round. An aetherling can maintain its aetherwall as a move action, extending the duration another round. Up to nine aetherlings may form their aetherwall next to an existing one, each expanding the original by an additional 5-ft square. An aetherwall can be dispelled by a DC 19 dispel check, the DC increasing by 1 for every two aetherlings supporting the aetherwall.

Force Alteration (Su) Aetherlings manipulate force effects with the same joy and effort as children playing with clay. As a standard action, an aetherling can touch a force effect and make a dispel check against it. If successful, the aetherling alters the effect’s shape, reforming up to a 10-ft. square area. When used on a force effect that grant an AC bonus, the aetherling may reduce the AC bonus to 0, negating the effect. If the effect is on a creature, the aetherling must succeed at a melee touch attack to use this ability.

Force Javelin (Sp) As a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity, an aetherling can launch a projectile of force at a target that strikes as a magic missile with the Toppling Spell metamagic feat (Ultimate Magic) and deals 1d8 points of force damage + the aetherling’s Charisma modifier.

Force Sight (Su) An aetherling has arcane sight to 60 feet, but only to discern force effects such as mage armor or wall of force.

Hidden and reclusive, aetherlings have lived in small villages dotting Nar-Voth since leaving the First World millennia ago, drawn to the numerous pockets of aether trapped within the massive cave system. When the dark fey arrived, most of the aetherlings fled to hidden and isolated caverns to avoid joining the Court of Ether’s vile populace.

Aetherlings are unique in that they can see and touch aether in all of its forms and as such it drives these fey to experiment and perfect their gifts. Their creativity shines brightest when creating elaborate aether art that only they can appreciate.

Typically non-aggressive, a single aetherling prefers to use stealth to avoid confrontation. If noticed, the aetherling will try to slow down an enemy before making an escape. In larger groups, though, they work together to form defensible lines from which they can launch accurate strikes, picking off one foe at a time.

An aetherling stands roughly 2-1/2 feet tall, weighing around 30 pounds.

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

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

Name and concept

The name reminds me of halflings and quicklings, and given their affinity to aether, it certainly fits.

The concept of force-manipulating creatures is interesting, though I'm not convinced that ”aether” makes them appropriate for Nar-Voth. Besides, using aether as a name for force is a mistake since no published source calls it that (yet).

Descriptive line

The descriptive line is not evocative or interesting. All the details are so generic that you could use the same description for any gray-eyed halfling, for example.

Stat block

The damage output is a bit low, but considering that the force javelin hits unerringly, it's not so much of a concern.

The force sight should be listed before low-light vision; alphabetize. You've used a hyphen instead of an en dash in ”1d3-1”, ”3-4”, and ”5-8”. Dexterity shouldn't be written out in full in the AC line. Other than that, the formatting in the stat block looks ok.

The monster should have three odd and three even ability scores.

Special abilities

I love the visuals of a group of these creatures building an aetherwall, adding more and more square fields of force, though of course, only the aetherlings themselves can appreciate the visuals. I find it strange the only up to nine aetherlings may form an aetherwall next to an existing one; does this mean that you have to leave a gap if there are more than 9 aetherlings? Or just that the DC won't increase any further? Actually, the way dispel magic works, it's smarter for the aetherlings to form individual walls than make a big wall that can be dispelled with one check.

The biggest problem with force alteration is that it's very situational. It's not like there are lots of force effects around. Mage armor and shield are the most likely targets. I would have preferred a shorter ability description that focuses on these spells rather than describing a lot of things that will hardly ever be used unless the aetherlings fight each other.

Fighting these creatures would be very frustrating since a bunch of them can easily block a corridor in such a way that low-level PCs can't get through. They only need a miniscule gap to use the force javelin, which hits automatically and can be used every round.


I wasn't able to verify that there are ”pockets of aether” (i.e. force) in Nar-Voth, so I'll leave it to the other judges and the voters to decide whether that reference makes the aetherlings more appropriate for Nar-Voth.

There's a bit of information about their origin, abilities, and tactics. However, seeing that these creatures aren't particularly aggressive, you missed a chance to include information that would be useful in social encounters. Overall, there's not a whole lot of useful information for the GM.


I like some of the ideas, but I don't think it is a Superstar monster. I don't recommend this entry for advancement.

Scarab Sages Modules Overlord

Don't describe something using game terms, unless it matches those games terms. This creature is not a humanoid, so it's a bad idea for the description to say "This small humanoid bears large gray eyes." A player hearing that might well feel he has been told he is facing a humanoid or monstrous humanoid, and plan accordingly.

It's a bad idea to base anything on playtest rules, and this looks to tie into the occult material not yet published. We've specifically forbidden that before, but didn't this time. It's still a bad call, since it means you are building your entire idea on concepts in flux.

Once you do that, you really have to sell the concept, tell GMs how to use it, and make sure it feels thematically like it belongs in Nar-Voth even to folks who haven't read the playtest yet. I don't see any of that in here.

I also have a much bigger issue with the low damage than Mikko. Even with unerring force javelin, it's doing just 8.5 hp/round on average. That's way low for a CR 5, and fights with these become either standoffs on either side of aetherwalls, or short brutal fights PCs walk away from without being seriously hurt.

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

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

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

My Judging Process:

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

When I develop a monster for the Adventure Path bestiaries (or anything really), one of the first phases is where I print out the monster entry, and look it over, marking up the page with notes and highlighting any problems that I need to address later when I really dig into it. Much of the time I’m circling things in the stat block or flavor text and leaving a quick note. Most often, this quick note-making pass is performed while I’m writing out art orders for the monsters so I can make sure that the description I give to the artist is what the final monster will be. This is where I make note of any changes I plan to make (some of which I’m sure frustrate some of my freelancers from time to time).

I figured the best way to judge this round is to treat it like my normal day-to-day work and do what I mentioned above. I’m going to judge this round in a similar manner to how I’d treat a monster I ordered from a freelancer if I asked one of my freelancers to just send me something within the same parameters that you’ve been given. Some of the things I comment on might seem nitpicky or overly critical of a small element, but I blame that on my job. I’ll probably even use terms that aren’t that familiar outside of publishing. :)

One thing to keep in mind is that nothing in my review here is personal, and since tone is difficult to communicate online sometimes, imagine my comments and critiques read in a friendly and nudging way. To heighten the experience, imagine all of these comments scribbled in purple ink on a sheet of paper containing your monster.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And now onto the monster!

• The descritpive intro line is a little weak, but I get the picture.

• Armor class is a bit high for a creature of this CR.

• Its melee damage output is low for a creature of this CR, but it has other things that make up for it.

• You should alphabetize pretty much everything. Force sight should be between darkvision and low-light vision.

• A monster should have three odd numbered ability scores and three even numbered ability scores.

• Spell out foot or feet in running text.

• Aetherwall is interesting, but I worry that it is too much. I do like the cooperative usage.

• Force alteration is interesting, but like aetherwwall, I worry that it’s too much. It’s not that they are particularly powerful, but they seem like they can be easily abused. Manipulating force effects just feels like something a higher-CR creature should be doing, not the domain of a CR 5 creature.

• The force javelin ability is cool, but I would have worded it differently. Instead of stating that it’s like magic missile with a metamagic effect, I would just write out all the relevant rules elements of the ability so that it’s all right there for the GM.

• The force sight ability is interesting.

• Aether is kind of coming out of the blue here. You don’t give any background to this element, but I’m assuming that you’re talking about aether as it relates to Occult Adventures. Since the only material on that is the playtest, and not a final product, I think this attempt is risky.

This is a neat idea, but it doesn’t quite hit my mark. I weakly don’t recommend this monster to advance.

Lantern Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka Black Powder Chocobo

Thank you for your time. This is definitely a learning experience.

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

Fey that love aether. Is "aether" a thing? <<<I know it represents the 'force' element, but the term itself is used oddly in Paizo books, like aetherships>>> Like well defined (looks like from judges comments it might be from the Occult Adventures book, which is a mark against you). Here's my thinking... if it IS a thing, and I just don't know it -- then you've made the "generic humanoid-like creature for that thing" (see fetchling, quickling, tiefling, etc.) That's filler, even if it's important. If aether isn't a thing, you're playing at an idea that needs like a whole dedicated source book to add it. Maybe there is/will be one said book but as it is... either you're inventing too much or you're just applying the formula.

That said, I like the creature, and I would look forward to their inclusion in Pathfinder, especially if Aether is a thing, for instance introduced in Occult Adventures, but I don't know if they'd work well as a playable race, and that makes me sad :( Not sure I see "fey" as the go-to choice either for force-manipulators... need to read a full story for that.

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

I like the name. The description is a little too light; it makes me think of greys, and that doesn't seem to fit what you're going for with these creatures.

I was thrown by the use of the term "aether," even having looked at the Occult Adventures playtest. While I do like the concept of creatures who utilize and manipulate force effects, ultimately the description here doesn't seem to justify why these are a Nar-Voth (or even Darklands) creature, other than just because. Further, their Neutrality and behavior doesn't easily lend itself to providing a niche for the creatures to me as a DM. They don't seem terribly antagonistic, so probably not opponents of PCs. They don't seem particularly helpful, so not necessarily allies. With one or the other of those roles, I could see a potential to showcase their odd abilities, but as neutral fey, I don't envision any encounter ideas offhand.

Ultimately, though, the lack of real Nar-Voth connections is what hurts the most, to me.

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

6th monster I have seen.

Good: you found a theme.
Bad: The overall feeling I have for this monster is to leave them alone. In a game revolving around conflict that doesn't help you.
Ugly: I don't equate aether with force.

The aetherling is just to bland for my tastes.

You currently rank 4th.

Sovereign Court Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

I'm sorry, I can't un-think this

Any other feedback I could have has already been covered by everyone else.

Unfortunately, I don't recommend this entry to advance.

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

To me the theme with this monster seems over emphasized. And an at will version of magic missile seems way to awesome, especially when you can hide behind a wall of force and use it.

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

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

Congratulations on making the Top 16! :D

There is nothing in the descriptive text to excite me here. This fey appears like a pech or brownie without much more interesting features. This lack of dynamic appearance really hurts the “cool” factor.

Its ability to affect and use force effects is kind of neat and this creature is held to a relatively tight theme. I like the idea of them not only creating their own force effects, but also using other force effects they can locate to their own advantage. Neat!

Unfortunately I can’t tell where this Aether material is coming from. I don’t recall that from the Darklands supplement and this doesn’t seem to have that strong a tie to Nar-Voth as some other entries.

My main problem is that I can’t see many situations where this creature would be in conflict with the PCs. A neutral and shy creature that doesn’t go out of its way to help or hinder? Conflict is the heart of any action adventure and these “monsters” have built in reasons not to go into conflict.

As such I will not be voting for this entry.

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

Name- Aetherling. Not having read the playtest material, my first thoughts run along the lines of steampunk material more than fantasy.

Description- Not a lot to go on here, very generic description. Not enough for unique art.

Special Abilities- These blend well together, and you can see how the idea is spend a move action to keep the wall up and a standard action to cast force javelin. That said, this seems like a very standoffish kind of monster, and the battles with them could be more annoying than fun.

Nar-Voth appropriate- Not especially. If I understand the aether concept at all, it's not limited to Nar-Voth, so why would these guys be?

Mojo- Some in the abilities area, but not so much in the fun area. They feel like reclusive artists, and they need to be either more elaborate along those lines, or take a different, more aggressive approach.

Will players remember in 6 months- Maybe, but likely mostly in a frustrating way.

A litany of sins, amigo.

1. The name has already been used so many times.
2. The terms aether and Ether both appear on the same page. Why would you purposefully create such a clash of aesthetics?
3. How is aether, force?
4. By associating aether with force, you are setting this writeup on a collision course with canon, as other writers may make entirely different assumptions about aether.
5. The one color mentioned is its eyes; what does this thing LOOK like?
6. Fey associated with force? Eh, that's a stretch.
7. The ability to shape force effects is too broad. Can they turn floating disks into floating walls? Can they turn walls into floating disks? Who knows?
8. One-note thematics. You might as well have called them Forcish Forcelings of Forcelandia. It's one of my pet peeves. Fey creatures, especially, deserve some personality.

Star Voter Season 8

The Good: Fey that excel at hit-and-run tactics is a neat concept.
The Bad: Force-manipulating fey? That's really, really out of left field for the fey. Outsider or monstrous humanoid maybe. HP is on target, but huge AC coupled with their ability to automatically hit from 180ft makes for a very frustrating encounter, never mind the constant trip attempts.
The Ugly: These appear to have no connection to Nar-Voth, but feel like they should be carrying the extraplanar subtype and be native to the astral plane. There may be a connection... but I'm not really seeing it.

As a FYI: Aether was what people assumed was beyond the sky and is generally associated with space and interplanetary travel in most fantasy, though not always.

All told, I couldn't find myself really getting into this monster, as it felt like a bit of a mash of several creatures, coupled with some mechanics that would drive players insane (in a bad way).

I will not be voting for this one.

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 There's a cool monster idea in here and that's a little guy that can kick your butt with force effects.
Bad and Ugly For me there are a umber of missteps that start with a weak Darklands tie in (aethor) to making them generally non-threatening. The contract between voter and superstar contestant in the monster round is you give me a nasty new toy to unleash on my PCs and I vote for you. Making them neutral and non-aggressive pretty much means good parties aren't going to end up in conflict with these little guys. That's a shame because with their powers I'd pair him up with a quickling or 2 use the aethor wall in a diagonal corner and the shield spell to rain force javelins from a nigh unassailable position until the PCs did something clever...
Overall To use this I'm going to reskin it a little lower it's hd and saves and make it about a CR 3 or 4, change it to evil and make it like pairing up in gangs of quicklings and redcaps... This is a B for me when I look at its competition from this year and previous years.

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 OK. I can picture the creature, but there’s nothing particularly exciting about it.

For the write-up, I’m not sure what aether is. I see a reference to it as a drug, but nothing to indicate pockets of it in Nar-Voth (maybe there’s a reference in Into the Darklands, which I don’t have with me at the moment, but didn’t see anything on the Pathfinder wiki). Non-confrontational isn’t the best option for Superstar, and I think that’s going to bite you. It seems like this is mostly going to try to avoid the PCs, leaving me wondering what to do with them in an adventure…

hp =
AC +
Atk =
Dmg -
Saves =/+

Abilities seems strongly thematic, around force effects, but I’m not sure how relevant they are. Sure, PCs will cast some spells with force effects, but I don’t think enough that I want/need a monster to mess with them.

Unfortunately, I think I’ve just got too many questions on these ones. You seem to have aether as some sort of force effect and it baffles me (ah, I see looking at the judges’ comments that that’s based on the Occult Adventures playtest, which I didn’t look closely at; my reaction is why they generally say don’t use those rules in Superstar). I think if this excited me more, I might go download those rules and give them a good read, but unfortunately, I have to say I don’t think I’m intrigued enough to do so. Sorry.

All right, this is the 14th monster entry I've read. Initial impressions are favorable. A non-evil, subterranean fey that focuses on force effects? Haven't seen that before. Let's dig in and see what's here.

Name: Not bad.

Description: Bland. Little head, big eyes, skinny body. Not a lot to go on, and doesn't really evoke a clear image.

hp: Slightly low for its CR.

AC: Very high for its CR.

Attack: On the low end for the CR, but it has an auto-hit for its special ability.

Damage: Very low, though the special attack is just low with an auto-hit and the extra effect.

Primary Ability DC: n/a

Statistics: Monsters should have three odd-numbered stats, and three even.

[b]Saves: Fort is high for its CR. The others are on the money.

Feats: Reasonable selection.

Skills: Everything adds up here.

Special Abilities:

Aetherwall: I have concerns about this ability. It's wall of force, albeit with a limited area, but with a perpetual effect, so long as the aetherling continues to concentrate on it as a move action. Combine that with the force alteration effect and I now have total cover from which I can throw force javelins to my heart's content, since they act as magic missiles and can just slip around my wall. Add in the cooperative effect and this seems like something outside the realm of a CR 5 monster.

Force Alteration: Again, this will rip through a wizard or sorcerer's defenses quickly. It does bring them in melee range, but with a healthy AC and decent hp, they might last in close quarters for a bit. At least they don't have the typical fey DR/cold iron.

Force Javelin: Big magic missle at will. Auto-hit every round. Sure, it's an average of 8.5 hp a round, but with a squad of 5 that's suddenly 42.5 a round.

Force Sight: Fits with the theme, but not terribly impressive.

Background: I really wish the judges had made the playtest material off limits. It's not official, and not everyone is familiar with it. I've only given it a cursory glance, so my first thought was that we were talking about the drug from the Gamemastery Guide, which made this monster really, really weird at first.

Also, even with additional description added here, I still don't know what these things look like. I know they're garbed in force, so are they looking naked to everyone but themselves? What color is their skin? Do they have hair? Are they more elvish looking like some fey, or more like leprechauns, or brownies? I can't say, because the listing doesn't say. The only real link to Nar-Voth is that they live there because the aether is there. I'll have to take your word on that. I just don't feel a real connection here.

Overall, it's an interesting concept, but very one-note. If there was a more creative description concerning their appearance, some social interaction with the rest of Nar-Voth, something, I might warm to them. Mechanically the powers seem above what I'd expect for a creature of this CR, but at the same time Owen might be right that fights could grind on without a clear victor. This one isn't really winning me over. Good luck to you in the voting.

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

Echoing the comments that this is a solid idea, but not very broad.

These lil guys definitely feel like First Worlders stuck in the caverns. All the feats, spells and abilities are tight on theme.

I like that they can all work together to make a bigger wall - I get a strong feeling of a community of pacific, stealthy, scared weird little guys that could be a valuable group to know and treat with respect. So extra points for making not-a-monster-exactly.

No fan of the name or aether=force.

Not sure why they have daggers - sure force javelin is ranged, but the lil pokestick seems out of character. Feels like something else could have gone here.

I excoriated your previous round's entry and wasn't a fan of your item - this is not grabbing me either, but that's more than likely me than you. Nice work.

Marathon Voter Season 8

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!

So, it's nice that this is an intelligent creature whose first response is stealth that has its own society, meaning its interactions with PCs won't necessarily be automatically violent. It's not so nice that this society is not explained at all beyond the fact that they create art only they can meaningfully interact with. I think you wasted words trying to give backstory that justifies them as Nar-Vothian, rather than expanding on how they'd really be used in play.

Why would the PCs interact with them? What would happen when they do? This feels like a disproportionate amount of words devoted to making them a combat threat despite obviously not being strictly meant to fight the PCs.

The worst part is that, while they are barely a threat when played by a typical GM, they would just be awful to actually fight when played by a highly tactical GM.

Can you imagine PCs of the level that would face CR 5s running into Walls of Force? I mean, that's ridiculous. The Dispel DC is really high, and even that assumes both that you have at least 5th level full casters and that they prepared Dispel (in my experience CR 5s face 3rd and 4th level parties--APL + 1 or 2 is the real baseline, not APL). I would absolutely hate to run into a couple of these things that popped an impassable wall of force across the tunnel, shaped a tiny hole in them, and then unerringly threw force javelins at us until we gave up in frustration. They could even counter false retreats by just forming force walls around corners. They'd just be a guerilla nightmare.

So, intelligent, social creature that manipulates force: good. Intelligent, social creatures with basically nothing about their society or potential reasons for interacting with PCs: bad. CR 5s that make at-will force walls and higher damage magic missiles: very bad.

Star Voter Season 6

1 person marked this as a favorite.

This is the tenth monster I have read.
Hey, I like these guys! Neat little fey that see, create, and play with force effects ... Sweet!
I like the fact that they hide from the more sinister Court of Ether fey and that they make force effect art ... Cool!
There is the question of why these critters would ever become PC antagonists. Certainly, monsters that have the potential for diplomatic encounters can be very interesting, but most bestiary entries have at least some reason given that a group of PCs might possibly conflict with them. As currently written, it feels like any PCs who would actually attack these guys would have to be massive jerks.
Still, I like the critter, and I could actually see using them as creatures calling upon the PCs for aid in defense.
I'd like to vote for this one, but I'm not sure if I'll have enough votes to do so...
Still... nice job! :)

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.
Not really buying the force–Darklands link. This seems more like a magic academy monster to me. I like the cooperation aspect, but I think the gloomwasp pulled it off better. The whole Occult Adventures link is its own issue, as mentioned by the judges.
Hope to see some more focused flavor and exciting rules next round if you advance. Good luck!

Lantern Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka Black Powder Chocobo

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Thanks everyone for their comments. I want to post more, but I'm still catching up after a family emergency last week.

To those who liked my monster, thank you for your praise. For those who were brutally honest, thank you again as I'm sure this will improve my ability next year.

Admittedly, this is my first time ever designing a monster. Between the odd (for me) location and strict word count, I failed to cut the mustard of awesomeness that others easily spread.

I'll try to post a revised version if I have time.

Star Voter Season 6

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm sorry to hear about the family emergency, and I hope everyone's alright.

Personally, I really liked your aetherling!

Star Voter Season 8

I like the basis of these guys: shy, stealthy, with a good defense by manipulating force. Where it goes wrong is the javelins. It would have been superstar if they used force to imprison PCs, possibly limiting their air supply. I could design fun encounters with the PCs having to negociate with these nuisances. A creature strongly focussed on defence would have added a real new flavor.

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

David Higaki wrote:

This small humanoid bears large gray eyes. Its round head is supported by a lithe, narrow frame.

Aetherling CR 5

Congratulations on Top 16 David!

From the visuals I see an easily broken neck. Appropriate for a fey, but not very threatening... unless that neck is supported by force effects. OK I'll buy that, but just. SLA support this idea. I would like a force field more, but that is well out of CR I am sure. I liked most of the special abilities, but as force, not aether. Aetherwall is a good the additional aeitherlings supporting it should add something (extra area? harder to dispel?) otherwise it is a tactic & doesn't need to be called out. Does force javelin ever miss--not 'as magic missile' which is a lot of damage. Force sight limited to force effects a nice touch, I would have expanded it some.

Working force affects is a cool idea. I think this could be hammered into something cool, but not there yet.

Nice work, hope to see you back next year :)

EDIT: best wishes to you and your family David!

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