Geomaw


Round 3: Create a Bestiary entry

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

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A whirlpool of gnashing, jagged blood red crystals fold together like petals to reveal a creature whose outer body consists of stone plates, dark earth and red-hued gemstones.

Geomaw CR 7
XP 3,200
N Large aberration (earth)
Init +2; Senses blindsight 40 ft.; Perception +13

----- Defense -----
AC 19, touch 7, flat-footed 19 (-2 Dex, +12 natural, -1 size)
hp 85 (10d8+40)
Fort +9, Ref +3, Will +7
Defensive Abilities blood lantern; DR 5/piercing
Weaknesses blind, blood gorger

----- Offense -----
Speed 10 ft., burrow 20 ft.
Melee bite +15 (2d6+10 plus grab)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks crystal gnasher, fast swallow, swallow whole (2d6+10 damage plus 2 Con damage, AC 16, 8 hp)

----- Statistics -----
Str 24, Dex 7, Con 18, Int 6, Wis 11, Cha 13
Base Atk +7; CMB +15 (+19 grapple); CMD 23 (can’t be tripped)
Feats Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (bite)
Skills Perception +13, Stealth +7 (+15 in rocky areas); Racial Modifiers +8 Stealth in rocky areas
Languages Canto
SQ freeze

----- Ecology -----
Environment any underground
Organization solitary
Treasure incidental plus blood crystals

----- Special Abilities -----
Blood Gorger (Ex) A geomaw that has swallowed a creature whole devotes much of its body to the task of devouring it and loses its burrow speed.
Blood Lantern (Su) As a free action on any round in which a victim it has swallowed whole suffers Con damage, a geomaw may emit a scintillating pattern of red-hued light from the crystals that cover the outside of its body. All creatures within 30 feet must succeed on a DC 16 Will save or be fascinated. This is a sight-based, mind-affecting compulsion effect. A creature that saves cannot be affected by the same geomaw’s blood lantern for 24 hours. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Crystal Gnasher (Ex) Rows of razor sharp blood crystal line a geomaw’s oversized mouth. Its bite deals damage as a creature one size category larger.
Freeze (Ex) A geomaw can hold itself so still it appears to be a cluster of naturally occurring cave crystals. A geomaw that uses freeze can take 20 on its Stealth check to hide in plain sight as a patch of natural cavern crystals.

Birthed from the unfathomable terrors and untold wonders of the cavernous deep, geomaws roam the Darklands finding easy prey among the covetous races of Nar-Voth and Golarion’s surface. Their hulking bodies can extend up to 15 feet long and almost as wide, weighing between 2,000 and 4,000 pounds. Despite its great size, a geomaw requires sustenance infrequently and can go weeks or even months between meals. It can wait perfectly motionless, displaying its open maw as a cache of valuable crystalline formations. This ruse bears some truth. Duergar, derro and even drow hunt geomaw for the blood crystals that grow in them, while dark folk have devised sacrificial rituals so that they may feed on the faint blood-tinged rays of light resulting from a geomaw’s digestion process.

Geomaw have little society of their own and seem content to traverse the outskirts of wilder civilizations, feeding on the blood and flesh of unwary creatures that seek shelter or riches by delving into caves near the surface. On the rare occasion one cares to converse, it does so through a series of thumps and clinks produced by tapping its crystalline teeth together. Groups of geomaw have been known to produce hauntingly beautiful sounds in such a manner.

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's short, sounds ok when spoken aloud, and it describes the creature really well. However, in the description, you've used in inconsistently. Sometimes the plural is regular (”geomaws roam”) and sometimes it isn't (”drow hunt geomaw”, ”geomaw have”). That's a bit sloppy. I strongly recommend using a regular plural form.

Descriptive line

That's a pretty cool descriptive line. Evocative and dynamic but doesn't describe specific actions. Well done!

Stat block

Its damage is quite low, though swallow whole + fast swallow somewhat make up for that. I'm worried that this is monster is a viable combatant only if it succeeds to swallow a creature in the first round of the combat. If it fails to do so (and its opponents are smart enough to keep their distance) it probably can't catch them easily. It has blindsight but not tremorsense, which means it cannot pinpoint its opponents while it's burrowing because blindsight requires a line of effect. If it does succeed to swallow a PC, it becomes much more terrifying. In other words, one roll largely determines the course of the fight.

Formatting is nearly perfect; the only mistake (if you can call it that) is that you used the hyphen instead of the en dash in ”-2” and ”-1”.

Special abilities

I like the blood lantern ability – it's evocative, straightforward for a GM to use, and is mechanically linked to its swallow whole ability. While fascinate isn't a new effect, the use of swallow whole as a trigger is something new. That's Superstar thinking in my opinion.

I also like it that it has the blood gorger ability, which prevents it from escaping with a PC in its stomach. That's also good thinking (though some old-school GMs might disagree ;-) ).

Crystal gnasher, however, is unnecessary as an ability. You can give your monster a bigger damage die without calling it out, as long as it's not absurdly oversized, which it isn't. The creature is literally a huge maw, so having a bigger damage die is definitely justified.

Description

There are some interesting facts about their behavior and interactions with other races. Considering that these creatures mostly only live to eat, I appreciate it that you've also described their behavior in one non-combat situation – when several geomaws meet. However, the description is somewhat inconsistent with itself. Their organization entry says they're only encountered alone, and the description says they're solitary, but then there's the bit about how they produce hauntingly beautiful sounds in groups, so it doesn't quite fit.

Verdict

Despite my concerns, I sense mojo in you, and I want to see what you can in round 4. I do recommend this entry for advancement.

Scarab Sages Modules Overlord

This is a strong concept, and it's supported throughout the write-up with rules that make sense. I like the geode-of-eating vibe, and having that idea both define how it hunts, and why other creatures might hunt it, gives lot of potential story ideas in just a few words.

Given its low damage output for CR, I might have looked at something like the tyrannosaurus's powerful bite ability and/or an increased threat range (to represent the razor sharp aspect) rather than just upping the damage die by a size category, but those are minor things.

Overall I like the idea, I think it's appropriate for the region, and I mostly like the execution.

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!

• The description is evocative.

• In your weakness line you note blind, and while I can figure out what that means, you don’t have a description in the special abilities. (Look at the yrthak for an example of this.) If you were talking about the blinded condition, you used the wrong word. I still get what you mean, though.

• Its numbers are a bit low for a creature of this CR, but they’re not too low in my opinion.

• Blood gorger is an interesting restriction for the creature, especially since its burrow speed is higher than the normal movement speed.

• Its swallow whole is particularly nasty. Con damage always sounds minor alarms to me. I’d probably run this by other developers for their opinion and compare the creature to a lot of other monsters that do similar things at similar CRs.

• I’m not sold on the language choice, but I like how its is described in the flavor text.

• Blood lantern is a cool ability, but it doesn’t mention a duration for the fascination.

• You don’t really need the crystal gnasher special ability. As the designer, you can just make it do more damage than what’s on the table for natural weapons (as long as you don’t stretch that too far).

• Freeze is already a universal monster rule, so you don’t need to include the description in the special abilities unless it works differently than the UMR states.

• Your flavor text is good and puts a lot of information into a small space. It lets me know more about what they look like, how to use them, and how they interact with other creatures in their environment. The singing thing is weird and a nice way to end the submission. There were a few minor typos and errors, but overall it was good. The thing that jarred me the most in reading is where you are inconsistent with plurals in the creature’s name. Sometimes you treat it as a regular plural while other times you treat it as an irregular plural.

This was a neat idea that I didn’t think I’d like that much at first. I do recommend this monster to advance.

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

I grew up in an area where geodes were common to see, and thus, the idea of one coming to life and attacking me appeals to me. I don't know if I love your exact set up, but I'd still totally use this in an adventure. Are "blood crystals" a thing? Or do we need to include a little bit in the larger book this creature would show up in to discuss "blood crystals" and what they're really actually useful for?

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

Thank you for your comments! I'm eager to share my thoughts about the design of this critter once voting closes.

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

4th monster I have seen:

Good: Blood! Bonus points for doing interesting things with blood. It's a no-no with magical items but A-ok with monsters!
Bad: blind as a weakness....??? What does it mean and do?
Ugly: Crystal Gnasher is a good term, sadly it doesn't do anything, so wasted words, which is ugly.

Your current rank is 1-2 out of 4.

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

Maurice de Mare wrote:
Bad: blind as a weakness....??? What does it mean and do?

It means it cannot "see" beyond 40 feet, the range of its blindsight.

The distinction is important. A creature with blindsight that doesn't have the blind weakness sees normally and additionally has a very acute nonvisual sense.

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

Mikko Kallio wrote:
Maurice de Mare wrote:
Bad: blind as a weakness....??? What does it mean and do?

It means it cannot "see" beyond 40 feet, the range of its blindsight.

The distinction is important. A creature with blindsight that doesn't have the blind weakness sees normally and additionally has a very acute nonvisual sense.

Ah, thank you

Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

This one reminds me of old-school D&D monsters, and that's a very good thing. I could see this fitting into the ecosystem easily, and I love the idea of Duergar and Drow hunting for their crystals. Great job!

Star Voter Season 8

I like the combination of fascinating enemies and then slowly crawling towards them- good suspense. The flaw here is that it has t swallow someone first before it can use fascinate, which means it is also all or nothing in this respect. No swallowing = no threat.

Scarab Sages Star Voter Season 8

Lucus Palosaari wrote:
Are "blood crystals" a thing? Or do we need to include a little bit in the larger book this creature would show up in to discuss "blood crystals" and what they're really actually useful for?

Yep, they're a thing. As far as I know they're not really referenced anywhere else either, so this monster gives us a decent "origin" for a relatively mundane item. Not to say that all blood crystals must come from the geomaw, but it's still a neat idea.

I like this monster! Very neat concept, really driving home the "terror" aspect that hits us all in Pathfinder sometimes (i.e. "Oh God, oh God, what the hell do we do?!"). The little bits of flavor really shore it up as well, in my opinion - it's not just a mindless mass of crystals bent on devouring your party. Sometimes they just like to sit around and chat, making thrumming, drumming and clinking sounds... almost like a hippie commune! That is, if the hippies then wanted to devour you.

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

I'm having a little trouble picturing this one from the physical description. I think you've given some thought into the creature's niche and ties to the Darklands and its abilities. That said, for some reason this one just doesn't really wow me, and that's probably more a testament to my personal tastes than it is to your design capability.

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

Name- Geomaw. A bit on the boring side for me, though I see what it's aiming at.

Description- The whirlpool folds together to reveal the outer body of the creature? Kind of loses me there. The elements of it might make for cool art, though.

Special Abilities- Blood Lantern is the key here, and obviously Freeze is there to help it ambush and get that initial swallow whole. Not exciting in itself, but I like the visuals of Blood Lantern.

Nar-Voth appropriate- Mostly. Feels like it could be any Darklands, but it's definitely got a cave-y vibe.

Mojo- Some, with the visuals of a geode maw and the resulting blood lantern. The tight synergy of the design is nice too.

Will players remember in 6 months- Maybe. Getting swallowed by some sparkly rocks might stand out.

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

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

Congratulations on making the Top 16! :D

The imagery around this monster is terrific! Very solid with bright red on dark. Crystal make for a very intriguing monster look, but I’m confused as to why this creature doesn’t have a stronger tie to the Elemental Plane of Earth than just having the “earth” sub-type. I LOVE the visual image of the blood lantern: red lights flashing and drawing in the viewer? Really neat in the mind’s eye.

Aside from a single powerful bite attack, the really cool powers only come from swallowing whole and as it is large sized it can only take one character down that way. This is a creature that better get its damage in quickly if it is going to have any significant effect.

The cool imagery with OK mechanics is enough for me to vote for this entry.

Star Voter Season 8

The Good: Abilities and visuals all tied together very neatly, well put together, numbers are pretty much on target, and very cool in appearance.
The Bad: Very reliant on ambush and baiting adventurers, making it hard to use more than once.
The Ugly: I only get four votes.

This one was tied for my fourth vote for a long time, but ultimately got edged out to be a close 5th, largely due to the low re-usability, though that is a common problem for Ackbar monsters.

I will not be voting for this one, though I wish I had another vote so I could.


Well done! I don't see any issues here that couldn't be ironed out in editing, and it's a cool, evocative concept that nonetheless builds on a solid foundation of existing abilities. It's creative.

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 really like the description – to a point. You use great imagery, but I don’t know if what shape or anything this creature is. Is it bipedal? Quadruped? Something else?

Write-up does sort of clarify that eventually – this are sort of cave mimics. I actually dig (no pun intended) the idea – I like how they can go from hunter to hunted and it reminds me a bit of the greatshells in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archives series (in a good way as they’re otherwise not at all similar).

You do mention that group produce haunting melodies, which I really like, but the organization only lists solitary.

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

I like blood gorger a lot as a weakness. A mean GM could easily have a PC swallowed whole with the creature then burrowing away, which would be cheesy, so this stops that. Blood lantern’s also evocative, and I think definitely has a creepiness to it. It’s like the very light is being squeezed out of your body along with his light. I don’t think you need to spell out freeze, since it’s in the UMR, but that’s not a huge problem.

You mention blood crystals in the treasure, but there’s no further details about that. I have no idea how valuable they are or if they have any other special qualities. Oh, wait, I just remembered somehow that those are a game term, but I think I’d still need to know how much is available…

I think I like this guy. I wish the write-up gave me just a little bit more to work with, but I think there’s enough other good stuff here that I'm definitely considering voting for it (still working my way through all the entries, though).

Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Despite a boring name I kinda like this guy, especially the chance that while he is gnomming on someone the whole party might get stuck just watching.

Thats a neat trick, and shows some cool moxy.

I don't like your feats. A dex 7 creature with Improved Init is a little weird. You could have added Improved Bite and saved yourself the bother of typing out a special rule.

I like the idea of sending players on a gem hunt, and hitting them with a few of these!

Creativity and Theme: 4/5

Running this monster as a DM: 4/5

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

Encountering this monster as a random encounter: 4/5

14 / 20 pts.

Dedicated Voter Season 8

1 person marked this as a favorite.

This...

Brian Fruzen wrote:
On the rare occasion one cares to converse, it does so through a series of thumps and clinks produced by tapping its crystalline teeth together. Groups of geomaw have been known to produce hauntingly beautiful sounds in such a manner.

...is just fantastic. This goes beyond 'tying' the monster to Nar-Voth and adds something to the mythology of the Darklands...

Dark Archive

I really like how this monster is tied to the setting, and other races, with the line about Darkfolk having a means to draw nourishment from the creatures digestive illumination being particularly cool to me. It doesn't just exist in a vacuum.

Neat visual, solid themes, strong formatting, cool all around.

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 You got it in on time, formatting looks solid, and the name is cool.
Bad and Ugly I have a thing about overdoing blood imagery, this does that think I hate.
Overall The true killer is that it reminds me of a better monster form a previous year (also had maw in the name.) I'm sorry but this si my least favorite monster thus far F for me.


So this is the 11th monster entry I've viewed thus far. Initial impression is positive. A big rock-monster that swallows its prey whole? Sounds like fun. Let's dig in and see what we have.

Name: Not a huge fan, but it's a descriptive name that fits the creature.

Description: I'm having trouble getting a complete image here. What's it shaped like? Does it have legs? I get the big, crystal-toothed maw, but that's about it.

hp: Right on the money for its CR.

AC: Slightly low for its CR. Why not just up the natural armor by 1?

Attack: High for its CR, but since the bite sets up its major offense, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Damage: Low for its CR, but again, the set-up leads to some nasty damage from swallow whole, assuming it works. I think Owen is right that there were options you could have used to make it more threatening even if its big ability didn't pay off.

Primary Ability DC: Low for its CR. I'd have upped its Charisma to put this on par, since the power is its main way to deal with multiple opponents outside of melee, and it really needs this power to work since it can't escape with its main method of travel with swallowed prey.

Saves: High, low, and low. Given its overall abilities and methods, not a terrible array.

Feats: I would have just upped the damage of the bite and saved yourself a feat. Otherwise, good selection.

Skills: Everything adds up here.

Language: Had to look this one up, as I wasn't familiar with it. Excellent choice.

Special Abilities:

Blood Gorger: Nice bit of flavor here with this weakness, and nicely offset by the blood lantern ability.

Blood Lantern: Very creative. I like this a lot.

Crystal Gnasher: Unnecessary, really. There are plenty of monsters that do damage higher than the baseline for natural attacks of their size without needing special powers to do so.

Freeze: As has already been said, no point in wasting words to reiterate this if it doesn't operate differently than the standard ability.

Background: Well done. Establishes the monster into the Nar-Voth ecosystem and gives it some excellent flavor. My only concern is that you've tied the blood crystals into the treasure found (a great idea) but didn't note what amount and value of blood crystals can be harvested from an average specimen. That's important information for the GM.

Overall, I'm pleased by this entry. It's flavorful, interesting, and fun. A few glitches here and there but a strong entry overall. Good luck to you!

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

Passed over this quickly on skimming through the 16, but now I return and it has grown on me.

I like the description a lot, and the lore ties this into the required region almost better than any other entry.

It feels very 1e, which is ok - some of those mimic-trap creatures are a little strange, but this seems reasonable.

Not a huge fan of the name - it is a huge freaking thing of which the maw is merely the front!

I also really enjoyed the Blood Lantern.

One thing bothers me though - why blood? I would suggest perhaps some mineral intake, but it isn't specified in the text, nor the properties of the blood crystals humanoids hunt for. I'm guessing word count hemmed you in.

The haunting sounds of a group of geomaws is a nice touch - kinda doesn't gel with the rest of the creature for me, but it's your beast. :)

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

Brian Fruzen wrote:

A whirlpool of gnashing, jagged blood red crystals fold together like petals to reveal a creature whose outer body consists of stone plates, dark earth and red-hued gemstones.

Geomaw CR 7

Congratulations on Top 16 Brian.

The visuals were a little confusing to start, and I still am not sure what its body looks like. Not that it matters; the crystal teeth is the part my players shall remember. Are crystals susceptable to piercing (I'd expected bludgeoning)? I had to read the abilities twice to see the fascinate in them, and it seems a little weird to tie it to swallowing someone. Tying it to crystals makes sense and is a nice touch for a darklands critter. Blood gorger is kind of neat, my players will especially thank you for not being inside a stone wall when they cut themselves out.

Good job, in my tops so far :)

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

This is one of my top monsters mainly because of how well thought out its special abilities are.

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 don't have a clue what this thing looks like. Your description is deliberately confusing to engender fear of the unknown, but, well, I still need to know and have a more solid description for the end when it's dead or otherwise stops moving.

Blood Gorger feels tacked on. It doesn't feel like it makes sense with the creature's biology, just like you needed a way to prevent a worse case, way-above-CR scenario in which this thing would swallow someone and then burrow away where the PCs couldn't help and the swallowed guy had nowhere to escape because he'd be buried in rock when he did so. Don't get me wrong, I am glad you added it to prevent just such a problem, but I wish it felt more logical and consistent.

Using Fascinated is a tricky choice for Blood Lantern. I get the idea is to make it harder and more frantic to try and save your swallowed friend, but I feel like knowing your friend is currently being consumed might be enough to count as an obvious threat. It's a gray area, I think.

Anyone can take 20 Hide, so the Freeze ability is missing something. I think the intention is that taking 20 doesn't take extra time.

This is 15' long and almost as wide, but it's Large (10x10), not Huge (15x15)?

Anyway, I don't really care for this at all. First, it has no purpose in the world other than to randomly attack the PCs because, reasons. Just another predator that doesn't act like a real world predator at all (i.e. it attacks groups of heavily armed and armored adventurers even though it is intelligent enough to know better, rather than single easy targets, or the weak links in non-aggressive groups). A fight with it would be very straightforward. It's a typical "swallow whole" fight except it also drains con from the one inside and fascinates those on the outside. Eh. Nothing special--we already have swallow whole monsters and what this adds is not enough to make it feel special.

And yeah, I still have no idea what this thing looks like at all. So, no, not for me, sorry.

Star Voter Season 6

This is the eighth monster I have read.
Here are my thoughts:
Neat description! Fun idea.
I like the gaping crystaline maw swallowing whole.
I like the psychedelic blood lantern.
I would need to know how long the fascination effect lasts and what value of blood crystals it contains.
I'm not sure I have enough votes to choose this one, but it's well done.
Good job! :)

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

mplindustries wrote:
Anyone can take 20 Hide, so the Freeze ability is missing something. I think the intention is that taking 20 doesn't take extra time.

Actually, the freeze ability is worded correctly in the entry. Cf. the gargoyle:

"A gargoyle can hold itself so still it appears to be a statue. A gargoyle that uses freeze can take 20 on its Stealth check to hide in plain sight as a stone statue."

However, as Adam Daigle pointed out, it's unnecessary to repeat the text for a UMR if it works exactly as the UMR.

Marathon Voter Season 8

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I see, so, the ability is not "take 20 faster," but "hide in plain sight as this thing and take 20." It didn't affect my vote, but it's always good to learn something new.


Quote:


Since taking 20 assumes that your character will fail many times before succeeding, your character would automatically incur any penalties for failure before he or she could complete the task (hence why it is generally not allowed with skills that carry such penalties).

So, no, most creatures cannot take 20 on Stealth checks, else they would fail before they succeeded.

Marathon Voter Season 8

RJGrady wrote:
Quote:


Since taking 20 assumes that your character will fail many times before succeeding, your character would automatically incur any penalties for failure before he or she could complete the task (hence why it is generally not allowed with skills that carry such penalties).
So, no, most creatures cannot take 20 on Stealth checks, else they would fail before they succeeded.

There's no penalty for failing Stealth because you actually can't fail Stealth. Stealth has no DC to roll against--it essentially sets the DC of opposed Perception checks. You can hide as part of a move action, so you can take 20 to hide as part of 20 move actions. You just can't normally do so in plain sight while pretending to be some other object.

Look at it like this: you're spending extra time finding the exact perfect place to hide, how exactly to pose to maximize it, etc.

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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.
Definitely has flavor, but I’m concerned this is a bit of a one-trick pony. If that bite/swallow combo doesn’t work, the rest of the monster is a bit of a let-down. Not much potential outside of combat either. Clearly a monster, but it encroaches a bit into hazard territory for me, given its speed and hunting style.
Still, the Force is strong with you and I hope to see what kind of an encounter you can cook up. Good luck!


mplindustries wrote:


There's no penalty for failing Stealth because you actually can't fail Stealth. Stealth has no DC to roll against--it essentially sets the DC of opposed Perception checks. You can hide as part of a move action, so you can take 20 to hide as part of 20 move actions. You just can't normally do so in plain sight while pretending to be some other object.

The skill says this:

Quote:


Your Stealth check is opposed by the Perception check of anyone who might notice you. Creatures that fail to beat your Stealth check are not aware of you and treat you as if you had total concealment.

and Taking 20 says this

Quote:


Taking 20: When you have plenty of time, you are faced with no threats or distractions, and the skill being attempted carries no penalties for failure, you can take 20. In other words, if you roll a d20 enough times, eventually you will get a 20. Instead of rolling 1d20 for the skill check, just calculate your result as if you had rolled a 20.

Taking 20 means you are trying until you get it right, and it assumes that you fail many times before succeeding. Taking 20 takes 20 times as long as making a single check would take (usually 2 minutes for a skill that takes 1 round or less to perform).

Since taking 20 assumes that your character will fail many times before succeeding, your character would automatically incur any penalties for failure before he or she could complete the task (hence why it is generally not allowed with skills that carry such penalties). Common “take 20” skills include Disable Device (when used to open locks), Escape Artist, and Perception (when attempting to find traps).

and the using skills section says this

Quote:


Some skill checks are opposed by the target's skill check. When making an opposed skill check, the attempt is successful if your check result exceeds the result of the target.

Thus, when a character uses Stealth and attempts to take 20, they fail repeatedly against the observer's Perception check. The rationale works fine for freeze (they take extra time) but normally characters cannot take 20, effectively. They take 10.

Marathon Voter Season 8

RJGrady wrote:
Thus, when a character uses Stealth and attempts to take 20, they fail repeatedly against the observer's Perception check. The rationale works fine for freeze (they take extra time) but normally characters cannot take 20, effectively. They take 10.

What you're suggesting seems like you can't roll Stealth unless someone is looking for you. Like, even if you're totally alone and hide in some bushes, you don't actually roll Stealth until someone walks up and could potentially observe you. Is that what you're suggesting? Because that seems very cumbersome and strange to me.

I am not above admitting I may be doing it wrong, but the way I have always handled Stealth is that the "hider" rolls stealth when they hide. Then, if someone could observe them, they roll Perception against that previously established Stealth roll.


You can roll it, but each observer only opposes the roll when they try to perceive you.

Marathon Voter Season 8

RJGrady wrote:
You can roll it, but each observer only opposes the roll when they try to perceive you.

Right, but you're saying I can't take 20 when I'm alone and hiding because I'd be failing over and over, but if there's nobody there to observe me opposing my roll, how can I fail?

I feel bad at this point, derailing this thread based on one, super minor ability of this creature...

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I've always ruled at my table that if anyone (PC or monster) has the time to hide themselves very, very well, they can take 20, and hence set the Perception DC to notice them as high as it can go. YMMV.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

SKR's explanation

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My favorite monster. 'Nuff said.


mplindustries wrote:
RJGrady wrote:
You can roll it, but each observer only opposes the roll when they try to perceive you.

Right, but you're saying I can't take 20 when I'm alone and hiding because I'd be failing over and over, but if there's nobody there to observe me opposing my roll, how can I fail?

How can you succeed?

Quote:


I feel bad at this point, derailing this thread based on one, super minor ability of this creature...

Well, we already covered "don't repeat a standard ability," so that's about all there is. :)

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I should probably get around to posting my thoughts about the geomaw’s design now that it’s so popular with the Top 8 in the encounter round. First, I’d like to express my profound thanks. I am deeply honored that my creature inspired so many among this year’s talented Top 8.

Everyone who took the time to offer feedback on the geomaw has my gratitude as well. Thank you. I appreciate the effort you made to write a response and will put those critiques to good use when considering future design work. Here’s some of my thoughts about my choices and missteps, what I think worked and what I might have done differently if time had allowed.

The Name:
I’m not particularly fond of ‘geomaw.’ It works to provide a sense of what the creature does and what it looks like, but it didn’t really wow me like I wanted it to. I played around with a few other names. Geognasher and geonathian were at the top of the list but seemed a bit too bulky when I saw them in repetition over the course of the write-up. I decided to go with the simpler name, but not before mass replacing the name a few times only minutes before I submitted. This is where the plural inconsistency crept in. I simply missed it after I changed back to the irregular plural ‘geomaw’ from the regular plural ‘geognashers.’

Appearance:
I hoped the name (invoking the typical appearance of a geode) and the fact that it couldn’t be tripped would be enough to help steer reader’s imaginations to a worm-like creature. Earthen spherical slug-shaped is what I was aiming for. I thought about giving it legs, but worried it would be too similar in appearance to a xorn. In hindsight, I might have liked that, as it would make one wonder if the two species are related somehow.

Unnecessary Abilities:
I consulted numerous existing monsters with abilities similar to crystal gnasher and freeze before deciding that it would be reckless not to include them. Mikko even listed the example of the gargoyle, which is one of the monsters I looked at. I assumed they all had them written out because the exact form of their “freeze” needed to be included in the description. The gargoyle appears as a statue. A hollow helm appears as normal armor. Of course, I only looked at the first few pages of results that turned up by searching “freeze” in the bestiary PRD, and if I had continued to look at newer bestiary entries I would have realized the form was shortened to freeze (example). I was in a similar position with crystal gnasher. Abilities like the t-rex powerful bite seemed to tell me that I had to account for anomalies in the stat block by calling them out as abilities.

Place in the World/Game:
I gave thought to how this creature would hunt in the wilds of Nar-Voth and knew it would be a variation of a “snatch and grab” animal, not at all dissimilar to numerous real world ambush predators like the crocodile or the alligator snapping turtle. Yet it had to be more fantastic and have developed an ability that would force it to stick around so there would be a chance for a party to save their friends. Blood lantern and blood gorger were the answer to that. I meant blood lantern to be a delightfully terrifying experience for a PC. I intended the fascinate effect to be continuous while a creature is being eaten. When the meal is digested, the light stops and unfortunate onlookers trapped by the effect would no longer be held in thrall by the sight-based effect. The ability evolved as a defensive ability to compensate for being unable to easily escape while digesting a meal.

I intentionally designed the geomaw to be relatively easy to handle by a GM and not take a lot of time to include, both for how it can be incorporated into a campaign and in terms of the length of a combat it’s used for. I wanted it to create a few brief rounds of terror as PCs realized they were going to be forced to watch their ally get eaten, and the high initial damage is meant to reinforce that. The geomaw is easier to deal with after its initial strike and swallow though, which is meant to give players a chance to regroup and tackle the threat. Inspiration for the geomaw initially came from the pyura chilensis, also known as the living rock.


Solitary?:
Yes it is solitary, most of the time. Just as an orc is not necessarily always evil, I didn’t think the solitary entry necessarily meant it would always be solitary. Their hunting tactics would mean they spend most of their time traveling and waiting in the lightless depths, but they would sometimes encounter others of their species in their roaming. When they do, they sing, then part ways and travel alone again into the dark. On very rare occasion, and for reasons unknown, they might be found in a group, but I wanted that to be an exceedingly rare, almost mythical occurrence. I thought listing them as a group would imply they often congregated, which isn’t the case.

Well, that’s that. If I forgot to address anything or if anyone has additional questions, I would be happy to oblige you in a response. Once again, you have my thanks for your continued interest in my work.


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If this thing ever sees print, I suggest calling it a "geodon," from "geode" (a crystallized rock) and "-don" (teeth). It also happens to be the name of an antipsychotic drug, and I do like a good throwaway pun in my monster names. :)

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