Sorrow Stitcher – 600 Words

Round 3: Create a Bestiary entry

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Snowblossom

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Empty eyes peer out from beneath the hood of this pale maiden’s patchwork cloak. The silhouette of scissors and sewing needle are outlined in her shadow’s hands.

Sorrow Stitcher CR 8
XP 4,800
CE Medium fey

Init +9; Senses low-light vision; Perception +16

AC 21, touch 15, flat-footed 16 (+5 Dex, +6 natural)
hp 85 (10d6+50)
Fort +7, Ref +13, Will +11
DR 5/cold iron

Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +10 (1D8+1), 1 touch +10 (1d4 Charisma damage + curse)
Special Attacks sorrowful gaze

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 11th; concentration +16)
At will— crushing despair
3/day— overwhelming grief, ray of exhaustion, shadow conjuration, shadow step

Str 12, Dex 20, Con 18, Int 14, Wis 16, Cha 22
Base Atk +5; CMB +6; CMD 20
Feats Ability Focus (curse),Combat Casting, Weapon Finesse, Toughness, Improved Initiative
Skills Disguise +19, Escape Artist +17, Intimidate +16, Knowledge (local) +15, Perception +16, Sense Motive +16, Stealth +17, Use Magic Device +19
Languages Aklo, Common, Sylvan
SQ separate shadow

Environment any urban
Organization solitary
Treasure standard (shawl of life-stealing, other treasure)

Special Abilities
Hollow Heart Curse (Su) Curse – touch; save Will DC 18. effect The creature loses all emotions except fear and sorrow. They take a -2 penalty on all attack rolls. They lose and cannot gain any morale bonuses granted by spells, supernatural or extraordinary abilities. They cannot be subject to a barbarian's rage ability or similar effects. The save DC is Charisma-based. cure Removing and wearing the cloak of the sorrow stitcher that afflicted the creature for 1 hour.

Patchwork Soul Stitching (Su)When the sorrow stitcher affects a creature with its Hollow Heart Curse, it gains fast healing 1 and a +1 morale bonus on saving throws against charm and fear effects, and attack and damage rolls for 1 hour. These bonuses stack and its fast healing increases by 1 for each creature affected by its curse, up to 5. These effects end if the curse is removed or the sorrow stitcher loses its cloak.

Separate Shadow (Su) A sorrow stitcher’s shadow acts separately though it is one creature. When taking a full attack action the sorrow stitcher can replace either its claws or touch attacks with a spell like ability.

Sorrowful Gaze (Su) Blinded by tears for 1d6 rounds, range 30 feet, Will DC 16 negates. Creatures that succeed are instead dazzled for 1d6 rounds. The save DC is Charisma-based

Decendents of fey exiles, these creatures share their forbearers’ curse of a severed connection from the First World. First appearing near the Forestheart rift in the Grungir Forest they have since spread throughout Golarion. They are born with broken spirits and empty hearts, their very shadows warped by their innate grief.

Desperate to experience happiness, the sorrow stitchers gravitate toward cities, jealously drawn to festivals where they steal the joy from the hearts of unsuspecting revelers. Armed with shadowy scissors and sewing needle, the sorrow stitcher’s shadow cuts the emotion from its victim which manifests as a colorful scrap of fabric that the shadow sews into the sorrow stitcher’s patchwork cloak. They will try to extract as many patches as they can before fleeing to savor the sensation of bliss, only venturing back out when they grow greedy for more.

Pale and slender, sorrow stitchers could be mistaken for adolescent humans if not for their blank eyes and razor sharp nails. They are never seen without their patchwork cloaks and would fight to the death before being parted from it. Other creatures who gain possession of a sorrow stitcher’s cloak find it functions as a shawl of life-stealing.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Crystal! Welcome back for Round 3! This is the round where we temporarily set aside your earlier tests--i.e., a magic item "calling card" to showcase your potential, and a map to literally draw in the viewer so they can connect with your vision for an inspired gaming experience at the table. Instead, this go-around, we're testing your skill with monster design--one of the most important skills a freelancer can have--and, it'll be measured from the ground up rather than relying on class levels or special templates to make it stand out. This is absolutely vital to a great designer, because new monsters are always needed, and always in demand. Even if you don't necessarily go on to win the entire RPG Superstar competition, you can still make a significant enough impression in this round to serve you well in securing future freelancing opportunities, whether with Paizo or Pathfinder-compatible third-party publishers.

So, with that in mind, I'm going into these monster evaluations looking for a handful of insights into what your design choices and overall execution tell me about you. Aside from just a useful, compelling monster, I want to see how creative you are in selecting a particular concept and bringing it to life with your words. I also want to see how you match that with an accurate stat-block, and I want to ascertain how well you understand the mechanics which distinguish one monster creation from another, both as a combination for incorporating existing rules into your design, as well as being innovative enough to invent all-new material which others may eventually reference for their future designs, as well. Essentially, it's one thing to create a competent monster for the game table, but it's quite another to transcend that, and create something truly iconic and ground-breaking. You do the latter and you'll definitely be on your way to the next round.

First up, let's evaluate your monster's name: the Sorrow Stitcher. It's a very appropriate name given what it does. A lot of fey creatures often are known by certain titles or assigned names in mythology, so having such a creature be called a sorrow stitcher works.

Next, let's examine your creativity in describing and explaining what your monster is all about. "Empty eyes peer out from beneath the hood of this pale maiden’s patchwork cloak. The silhouette of scissors and sewing needle are outlined in her shadow’s hands." Nice. I love how you end on the one element that ensures "all is not what it seems" with that descriptive text. It's a little eerie and immediately gets folks thinking it might be an undead creature, only to be surprised as they interact with it that it's far more than that. As I read further into your descriptive paragraphs, we learn more about their severed connection to the First World, their attraction to emotions like a moth drawn to a flame, and the manifest scraps they sew into their specialized cloaks. All nice touches.

So, what about the mechanics? In the interests of time, I didn't try to number-crunch everything, but a few things gave me pause. Your AC and saves are appropriate for a CR 8, but the attack bonuses and average damage are a little low (though the Charisma damage from the touch attack picks up the threat level a bit). The hit points look low at first, but the DR 5/cold iron helps offset that a little. I like the hollow heart curse, but I'd have liked to see you call out a bard's inspiration class abilities in addition to the barbarian's rage. I also like the patchwork soul stitching, but I think the ability to stack the fast healing (and saving throw) increases start piling up fast enough, and there's no real limited duration to the hollow heart curse, that most sorrowful stitchers would easily acquire the maximum bonus just assaulting routine NPC classed commoners long before they encounter the PCs. So, while I get the delayed increase you're building into the ability, I'm not really a fan of how it's mechanically going to play out. It also creates a bit of a mathematical nightmare for GMs to track (or decide) with each encounter involving one of these creatures. Imagine if there were more than one (despite the "solitary" listing in their Organization entry--which goes unexplained in the descriptive text). I like the concept of the separate shadow ability, as well, and I assume that explains the extra touch attack, but I think there's a more elegant way of defining how the shadow contributes what amounts to an extra action by allowing it to either make that touch attack or invoke a spell-like ability. I think that would help root it more solidly in game terms.

Next up, the presentation. There are a lot of missteps here. Originally, we feared you might have gone over wordcount, so we checked it. While there are a couple of places where it appears you didn't adquately space between words (causing them to be counted as one), there were also a few places where certain words wouldn't have been counted separately if you'd joined them correctly with their em-dashes. But you also left off the DCs for your spell-like abilities. It may wind up being a wash, but it still needs to be tightened up. The mini-stat-block for the curse is also missing semi-colons (replacing them with periods, instead). You've also capitalized Hollow Heart Curse when referring to it later on in one of your other special abilities. It should be all lowercase instead. Your feats aren't alphabetized. The Melee attack line is listing 2 claw attacks as well as "1 touch" attack, which isn't the correct representation for that kind of thing, and your listed damage is "1D8" for the claws but "1d4" for the touch attack. You've also left off a period on your final special ability write-up for sorrowful gaze. These are all small missteps, but, as you can see, they add up quickly and will give your developer and editor fits if they have to correct such things all across a larger turnover if you're writing an entire adventure. So, I think it's worth pointing out now so you learn from it.

Bottom Line: This was a great creature concept, but I think it falls short in a few areas, both mechanically and in terms of presentation. I'm also not 100% sure it meets the word count, so this might have needed to be a DQ. Regardless, there are enough missteps here that I'm going to have to say I DO NOT RECOMMEND this designer advance to the next round. If the voters put you through, you're going to have to sharpen your game to match your competition.

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

Congratulations for making it to Round 3! Your item worked for enough people to make Top and you mapping skills got you through Round 2, and now folks get to see your monster. Like previous years that I’ve judged this round, I’m approaching judging the same way I would do a pre-development pass on a turnover one of my freelancers sent me. I start at the descriptive text at the top and then work my way through the statblock looking for errors or weak spots that need to be addressed in development. Then I read the flavor text and see how it is all integrated. My final judgment is not only based on errors or lack thereof. Some of my comments are just personal preference, so please don’t take anything personally. We just have different tastes.

Now on to your monster!

• I really like the image you present in the descriptive text.

• Its hit points are low for a CR 8 creature, and the DR isn’t enough to offset this. The AC is on point and the saves are mostly on point. Its attack is pretty low, which is actually pretty common with the fey creature type. That it gets two claws and one touch attack in the same round was weird to me until I read further. Also, when you have an additional effect tied to an attack, like the creature’s curse in the touch attack, use the word “plus” instead of the plus sign. (Ooops on the capitalized “D”.)

• In the feats line, the whole name of the special ability affected by Ability Focus should be in the parenthetical. There’s also a missing space.

• The hollow heart curse is cool, but it needs some work with its formatting and wording to standardize things. You also call out that barbarian’s rage won’t work, but that’s already covered by negating morale bonuses.

• I like that the patchwork soul stitching works with the curse, but the language for the ability could be cleaned up.

• I really like the separate shadow ability, but I don’t like the second part of the ability. I would just leave it as having a bonus touch attack a round.

• Sorrowful gaze is a neat and flavorful ability, but the wording is choppy.

• I really like the flavor text for this monster. I like the image of snipping out emotion from victims. I like the patchwork cloak. I like that they are drawn to revelers. The only thing that gives me any real pause is that their cloaks act as a magic item, because that means that the creature has built in treasure, which is something I do very sparingly for monsters.

• You bumped right up against word count, which is scary in a competition like this. This monster could have used another edit before submitting. There were a few typos and some incorrect language in the special abilities.

Overall, I really like the flavor of this monster but wish that it wasn’t as sloppy. Unfortunately, I do not recommend this designer advance to the next round based on this submission.

Paizo Employee Editor

Welcome to the top 16! Great job getting this far! Now let’s take a look at your monster.

First off, the name has me very interested. And the description definitely has me wanting to read more. Nice touches!

However, I spotted a couple of formatting errors in the stat block. Paizo style is to use ‘plus’ (not ‘+’) when adding effects to attack damage and the creature’s feats weren’t in alphabetical order. Finally, I couldn’t find the shawl of life-stealing in the SRD. I assume that it’s a cursed version of a shawl of life-keeping, but there’s no indication of what it does.

In the end, despite some very good flavor text, I do not recommend this designer to move on.

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

Neil Spicer wrote:
I like the hollow heart curse, but I'd have liked to see you call out a bard's inspiration class abilities in addition to the barbarian's rage.

It does note "they lose and cannot gain any morale bonuses granted by spells, supernatural or extraordinary abilities," which I read to include bardic abilities. (I can't tell Neil if you thought they weren't included in the curse's effects or you thought they too should be called out specifically.)

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
(I can't tell Neil if you thought they weren't included in the curse's effects or you thought they too should be called out specifically.)

The latter.

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

Sorrow Stitcher
How I’m rating monsters:
Creativity: does this seem innovative and original or does this seem contrived? How is the description?
Stands out in terms of creativity in a pool filled with undead and other less interesting fey. Description is excellent 8/10
Marketability: are the choices you made smart and marketable to a voting public? Does the name pop?
Fey are a popular category and this would fit well into many a dark fairy tale style game (The Old Margreve and Irrisen come to mind) so again high marks 8/10
Trade craft: did you format correctly and scale correct to Paizo standards?
Formatting is flawed and mechanics are a little awkward in places but Neil already expounded this to death. I have less a problem with it 6/10.
Encounter worthy: as a GM is this easy to use and reuse?
You’re going to get dinged again for some of the powers being a little convoluted here. I am going to say that with a few adjustments I can easily see playing with this chassis over and over though so I’m calling it 7/10
All get a 1-10 score which I will then average. I reserve the right to add or subtract points from the final score as long as they are justified with reasoning.
7.25 out of 10: Despite really liking this and you as a designer I think that bus you got thrown under by the judges is going to stop your chances to advance and that’s a shame. If you don’t advance hit me up for freelance work, I’d take you in FPC games in a heartbeat.

Paizo Employee Designer , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

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Neil Spicer wrote:
Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
(I can't tell Neil if you thought they weren't included in the curse's effects or you thought they too should be called out specifically.)
The latter.

And note that Neil, as is often the case, is correct. The most important part of the bard's performance abilities grants competence bonuses, for instance attack and damage rolls for inspire courage, although the saving throws against fear, which is not the main reason people use inspire courage, are morale.

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

In the interest of sharpening my skills I'll finally be chiming in on entries! I do a stream-of-consciousness style of review (just like my other critiques) and I will do my best not to read other folks' comments so as to not be influenced one way or the other. I believe creatures serve more than just a combat capacity, and removing choices from players (such as forcing them only into combat with a specific creature) is not Superstar design. Plus, who doesn't like outwitting/outsmarting/etc. a creature?

Sorrow Stitcher

Name feels good. Although, it reminds of a problem that Nintendo highlighted way back when the Wii was called Project Revolution...R's are hard for certain non-English speakers and Sorrow Stitcher could suffer the same. But it does have flavor and makes me think this is going to be some kind of creature that stitches together folks' sorrows to assault them with.

Good intro although I will say I don't like the "shadow's hands" bit at the end of the 2nd sentence. I'd have changed it to "shadowy hands" because saying they are "shadow's hands" makes me think this is an actual shadow incorporeal undead type creature.

I love fey!

Defense and such look good.

Don't capitalize the D in 1d8+1 for the damage dice on its claw attacks.

I'm not quite sure that's how you present a touch attack. You probably should give it a special attack name and then put it down below. I could be wrong that's just how I would do it.

Sorrowful Gaze looks like it is suffering from cutting too much to make wordcount. Even though I know that it is a gaze attack, the way its worded it looks like the Sorrow Stitcher is the one blinded and then I have no idea why the rest of it is there. If this were worded differently it would alleviate any concerns.

Caster Level 11th but 10 HD? Is that a normal practice?

At will crushing despair? Yeouch. I'm a little concerned on that as Bards are either just getting their 4th 3rd level spell at 11th level or still only have 3 3rd level spells at 10th level. This creature is busting out a 30ft cone burst that lasts for 11 minutes when it is successful...and the penalties stack. An invisible sorrow stitcher will likely get this off twice before a party can react AND have a good shot at doing it a 3rd time casting defensively. This needs to be brought down to 3x per day or even 1x per day.

Your other spells are good, maybe I would instead reorganize for 3x per day crushing despair and 1x of these 4th level bard spells.

Except...wait...overwhelming grief is also 3rd level bard spell and ray of exhaustion is 3rd level wiz/sorc only...which is gained at level 5. I think you've got these all kinds of mixed up and it is quite possibly because of wordcount.

The spells make good flavor sense though.

Hollow Heart Curse is not listed anywhere in the stat block except in special abilities. I get from the description that it's a touch this what the + curse is on the touch in the offense section? Again...wordcount woes it appears. The curse makes sense but the way you present it, the formatting, and the weird template is off-putting.'s a rough curse that lasts forever until wearing the cloak of a sorrow stitcher for 1 hour. Minimum 1 hour.

Patchwork Soul Stitching makes sense...but the way it's edited again makes it feel...disjointed.

You also keep mentioning the sorrow stitcher's cloak and it is a little weird until you take the whole creature at once...and it works. Plus...good job including it as non-standard treasure.

Doh, you mention they are NEVER seen without their cloak...but c'mon you're telling NOONE has ever cast hold monster, nabbed a cloak, and teleported out? Good flavor but kinda unbelievable.

Separate Shadow as an ability does not live up to its description. It also kind of doesn't make sense that its shadow acts as a seperate entity but only replaces the stitcher's claws with an SLA. This needed to either be statted up as a creature companion or mention that it is a shadow (the creature).

These are only solitary? They feel very witch-like and I would imagine there would be a coven of these somewhere.

Overall, I really, really want to like this. I love the idea. The execution is simply off. I feel like the 600 words really constrained what you wanted to do and your creature's ability suffered for that. You wanted to provide good background on it, but that chews up a lot of words. Plus, some of the abilities and the templating for spells and such are very odd. I don't think I'll be voting for this, but I won't be sad to see you make it through with the good ideas you have here. If you do proceed, please use that revision comb in the right places...make sure the mechanics make sense before cutting too much out.

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

I'm not the greatest judge of mechanics, so for me a good visual and well thought out description and niche tend to sway me the most. That said, I feel that this has all of the above, and certainly won my vote.

Dedicated Voter Season 9

I rework mechanics 90% of the time anyways, so I'm only looking at monsters in terms of inspiration and description -- both categories you nail; if you do proceed from this round I highly recommend polishing up your mechanics more, this is last round where potential might outweigh performance. You got my vote :).

I really want to like this entry, but I can't seem to do it. It's a sad fey that makes everyone sad. The mechanics are solid and the theme is very tightly-integrated -- so much so that my first instinct was to say it probably appeals most to an emo teen audience (the claws, scissors, and needles remind me of "cutting," too). However, the generally positive comments above indicate that the appeal is a lot more widespread than that, and that I'm obviously a very poor judge in that regard.

That said, here's the (very silly) thing that popped into my head:

Have you ever seen the Powerpuff Girls episode where they want to be comic book characters? One of them asks of the others, "Where's the angst?!" When they have to go, she sulkily declares, "Mange only travels at night." The monster they're fighting makes fun of her. I suspect I'd feel like her if I used this in a home game, with the players making fun of me.

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

Name's solid. Doesn't wow me but gives me some idea of what to expect.

I think you were smart in your description to give us the shadow visual, as otherwise you'd have a fairly mundane looking monster. Instead, it's got a nice creepy vibe to it.

Write-up's nice, with some florid (in a good way) bits: "They are born with broken spirits and empty hearts, their very shadows warped by their innate grief. Desperate to experience happiness, the sorrow stitchers gravitate toward cities, jealously drawn to festivals where they steal the joy from the hearts of unsuspecting revelers." is excellent IMO. I like that these aren't just a fight-and-move-on monster, and I can see having a small festival with one of these showing up as a great encounter for PCs/start of an adventure (similar in some ways to the start of Neil's Realm of the Fellnight Queen).

Looking at the stats:
I'm glad the judges brought up the word count, as when I saw a missing space at one point, I was worried it'd be over. Since that's happily not an issue, we can focus on the abilities themselves.

I read the first three SLAs and was starting to think it was going to have emotional overload, so I was glad to see the two shadow spells at the end. That's a big part of the monster, so I'm glad to see it wasn't forgotten.

It probably makes sense that these are solitary, though I think it's always a shame not to have more options.

I like the curse -- it's creepy and I think you give good mechanical effects; that said, as the judges noted, it's also not completely clear how it interacts with inspire courage, which would feel like an emotional bonus but as Mark noted is a competence bonus. It's forcing a GM to make those rulings. Obviously word count was a big factor in your design, though there are a few places you could have cut ("They will try to extract as many patches as they can," for example, could be "They extract as many patches as possible...").

I like the patchwork soul stitching and am glad you gave it an upper limit (though it reads as if that limit only applies to the fast healing, which I'm not sure was intended). Separate shadow also is a nice ability (taking into account Neil's suggested changes in phrasing).

I'm not sure I like sorrowful gaze as much, though: Being blinded by tears just feels a little too much. I think dazzled makes more sense, or some other effect that covers a few more additional effects of sobbing, but blinded just seems ... incongruous, I guess (even with the fluff of it being blinded by years).

Silver Crusade Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

I personally feel that the strong focus on mechanics and presentation by the judges is secondary to what I look for in a new bestiary entry. This has loads of flavor and is more easily pictured in the mind's eye than many of the other entries. I call this a winner that merely needs a little TLC from the development side to fit into the Paizo format. You have my vote once again.

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

Nothing grabs me about this monster. There's nothing that makes me want to run one instead of another evil fey really. By the same token, there's nothing that seems wrong with the monster, but nothing about it really stands out either. I feel this would be lost in a bestiary among cooler monsters that would be much more likely to get used. I could possibly see this as an anti-bard type monster, with the large amount of debuffs it can bring to play, but thematically it seems too much like a one trick pony (similar to the malkin) in that it can make you sad, and also make you sad, and also make you not be able to be happy (which is really just another way to make you sad). Seems like any martial character in the group (other than barbarian) will simply walk up and power attack it in to evil fey paste pretty easily (though perhaps not if they used Cha as a dump stat - I do have a fondness for Cha damage I admit, and in this case it fits thematically.)

As for motivations, its out there to take out its hatred of its very nature on anyone unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Because of that, in many ways it's just like many undead or vermin - simply forces that attack whomever is around. Nothing about it's background suggests much of a plot or what it does (other than the stealing of your joy).

Dark Archive

I believe there is a good monster in here somewhere, but I couldn't get past the confusion and disorder of this entry. I had to read it several times to figure out where the various abilities were coming from, which is not a good sign. Everything needs to be clearly laid out and explained for the GM, so that there's no chance they miss (or add!) something that completely changes the encounter, and thus the CR.
Creatively, I think you've got something, which is the hardest part of this whole contest. Presentation/formatting wise however, this doesn't stand up. While the latter is something people can learn and improve on with practice, RPG Superstar has some high standards, and ultimately the title will go to someone who shows they have both areas mastered. You had a strong first and second showing, so I'm hoping this round is just an anomaly, and that if you advance, we get to see some more of what got you here in the first place. I sincerely wish you luck!

The monster round is always my favorite, so I'm going to give some feedback on all the entries. Basic run-through using the monster creation rules to see if the numbers line up, then general thoughts and critique. I'm running down the list as I find them. This is the thirteenth monster entry I've read.

Basic Stats [+: high for CR; =: within CR range; -: low for CR]
hp =
AC +
Atk =
Dmg -
DC ?
Saves +

Hp and attacks are on par for a CR 7 creature. AC is a little higher, as is the primary ability DC. The reason I have a question mark next to DC is because the numbers don't add up. With a 22 Cha and 10 Hit Dice, the DC for abilities should be 21, and neither ability is anywhere close. The damage is low, but it looks like it's special abilities and spell-like abilities might make up for that.

I like the name. It has a creepy vibe to it that is reinforced by the descriptive text. I'm also glad that the creature is Medium-sized. I get tired of itty-bitty fey.

The hollow heart curse is a nasty ability. I like the premise, though if you have multiple creatures affected, they'll have to figure out who gets to wear the cloak first. I think adding the destruction of the cloak as another possible cure would have been a good idea.

Patchwork soul stitching is a good idea, but what you're describing are essentially permanent buffs, since the only way to remove the curse (aside from remove curse, presumably) is to wear the cloak. So unless the sorrow stitcher lives in an isolated area without anyone to prey upon, she'll conceivably always have the maximum bonuses at all times.

Separate shadow confused me. Does it get double its normal attacks for a round this way?

Sorrowful gaze. Again, not sure where the DC is coming from. It should be much higher. Don't think the mechanic fits. "Blinded by tears" is a figure of speech. No one ever goes blind from crying. Dazzled would work. Giving all viewed targets concealment might even pass muster, but not blindness.

I like the background and they have a solid Golarion connection. This would make a great urban encounter.

Overall, this is a really strong concept that falls short in mechanics and execution. At this stage, contestants really need to be on their game and this is the only entry that I've seen thus far that's been so weak mechanically. Some voters might be inclined to let that slide, or to vote you in based on your prior designs. I already have five picks vying for my four votes, so I'm afraid that this entry doesn't give enough for me to add it to the list. Good luck to you.

Dark Archive RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Boxhead

Sorrow Stitcher
Name It’s a neat name, and gets the point across. This thing stitches sorrow, presumably.
Gimmick It picks an opponent, and steals their feelings? Ok. That seems reasonable.
Description It does look cool, and would be a weird but cinematic foe in an encounter.
Usefulness This monster would be lucky to get used once. It’s weird, and lacks motivation. It certainly might be something the party would have to deal with at a festival, but otherwise it’s just random encounter fodder.
New abilities I don’t like its curse. There are plenty of conditions that could have substituted for the flat penalty to attack rolls (why just attack rolls?). I think calm emotions might have been useful to reference. Patchwork soul stitching is odd, especially since it doesn’t affect the same things as the hollow heart curse. Sorrowful gaze would benefit from some flavor text. I’m unclear if separate shadow requires it to replace one of its attack methods. I think it would be better to have OR in the attack line and just let the shadow cast a spell.
The rest Two claws and a touch attack are a weird combo. I also think there’s too many spells and abilities crammed into this monster. It’s a neat concept, but I think the execution falls a little flat on this one.

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

Beautifully horrorful and suitably grim and moody the theme is exceptionally strong with this entry. Evocative wiring and nice details throughout the piece make for a very strong theme that is borne out by the abilities.

I think I would have preferred the Hollow Heart Curse as an Aura given the concurrent bonuses - that way s long as one creature is still affected the Sorrow Stitcher is buffed. Still I think a solitary curse suits the theme, particularly the sewing onto the patchwork cloak.

Separate Shadow is a cool concept, and I do like the design approach of the swapping of SLAs for full round attacks - I'd also like to have seen even more possibilities given to this ability.

There are some rough edges, but they are more than made up for by the creativity and design path that follows it.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

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Hi Crystal, congrats on getting into the top 16!

What I like: This is a great gloom/horror creature with a lot of flavor, without pulling on shock or gore tactics, or hard-to-incorporate mechanics. You provide strong visuals and a clear, unique theme that makes these creatures as heartbreaking as they are potentially frightening. I can even see these creatures being non combatant but story-focused NPCs who challenge the PCs in other ways. At first I was wondering if this would make a better monstrous humanoid, but your flavor text ties the fey concept nicely. And your flavor-text in general is excellently written; I'm glad you didn't skimp on it. My favorite ability is the sorrowful gaze and wish that was fleshed out more.

What I struggle with: There's just a lot of LITTLE things that makes this not quite come together for me. The separate shadow ability is unclear and probably could have been removed entirely and, while a cool idea, other mechanics tightened up in its place. Some of the SLAs could just be made quickened. I wonder if sorrowful gaze and maybe some of the other effects should be specified as mind-affecting despair effects.

I cannot find an item called a shawl of life-stealing in the PRD, although it's possible the search engine is failing me. There is a shawl of life-keeping, and if that's what you meant, you should have double checked that item name. And as it is, I am not sure I would have used this -- one of your monster's signature "abilities" is really a wondrous item effect, one that can be gained by those who kill the sorrow stitcher, so that weakens its uniqueness.

You really could have used a good proofreader--there's a lot of little errors that could have been easily picked up by a second pair of eyes, e.g., misspelling of "descendant"; missing punctuation; feats are not alphabetized. Likewise, there are phrases you could have deleted to make that word count more comfortable -- for example, under the curse, you could say "they lose and cannot benefit from any morale bonuses," without specifying from what source (since it's all bonuses, that's implied and you don't need to waste word count on it). It's important at this phase to be sure you get at least one person to get feedback from before submission. While most of the errors are minor, combined they make the entry lack polish and show that as a designer, you do not pay much attention to detail.

Is it one of the three monster types I've been totally sick of since, oh, about the Bestiary 3 (dragon, fey, or undead)? Yes, it's yet another fey. It's a cool concept though, and not a fey idea I'd expect.

Final Thoughts: I think you have a phenomenal sense of STORY and atmosphere, and this shows in spades in your monster concept. The devil is in the details, and here is where you fall short. Still whether here or elsewhere, I hope we see more work from you.

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

Just a quick preface - the point of commenting for me is to force myself into coherent thoughts about the design choices. That might make it feel like I'm being super-critical of a given monster, but that's not my intent.

The name is both evocative and fitting, so well done there!

The description is nice. I like the tools in her shadow's hands. I do think I'd like something emphasizing the colorful nature of her cloak, since the cloak is such a big deal for her and visualizing it more clearly would be good.

At will crushing despair seems like it's probably too much. That could easily turn into a substantial advantage for her. And with Hollow Heart, you've got a -4 attack roll penalty.

Disguise is interesting. To me it suggests she may use it to blend in with a crowd of revelers to feed off them. In fact, I wonder if victims would even necessarily know they've been attacked by Hollow Heart in that kind of situation. Actually, that does seem to be implied in the bottom text.

I like the Special Ability names. Evocative and functional both. I particularly like Hollow Heart.

The SAs are thematically tight without overloading any particular aspect. But Soul Stitching at 5 fast healing and +5 to attack and damage rolls and you've got an ugly fight. Combined with the penalties on her opponents and that could get nasty fast.

Sorrowful Gaze is probably unnecessary. It's nice flavor, I just don't know if it's needed.

The write-up is cool, good stuff in there. But since you were riiiiiiight up against wordcount, it might have been a good idea to chop out a sentence or two.

I'm not crazy about monsters with built-in treasure, but it seems to work in this case.

Overall, I like this monster. I think the sort of encounter you could build with it, at some sort of festival, and the way you could sort of slowly build up to the moment of confrontation, is really cool. I do think the penalties and bonuses are a bit overdone, but that's tweakable.

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

Crystal Malarsky wrote:
Empty eyes peer out from beneath the hood of this pale maiden’s patchwork cloak. The silhouette of scissors and sewing needle are outlined in her shadow’s hands. Sorrow Stitcher

Hi Crystal,

Fey creatures are a good start for me.
Creative: +- Nice visuals, I like turning the curse into fast healing.
Useable: -+ I think so, but it will be party dependant. Neither of my current groups have bards or barbarians & the casters are all blasters. Different parties will get more mileage.
Memorable: +- gaining fast healing by stealing party bonuses will creep my players out. The shadow silhouette will keep them on their toes.
Voting: Weak Keep

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

I think you ran out of words to properly execute this idea.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

Congratulations on earning the votes to see you through to Round 3! Here’s what I’m looking for in a monster.

Does it make sense as something that could really exist? A fey creature stealing joy is a believable, maybe even predictable, monster type. You do it with some panache here, and the flavorful descriptive text goes a long way.

Are the abilities exciting to run? The way you integrated the shadow is interesting, but I would almost prefer it increase the monster’s action economy given its solitary nature. Are creatures blinded for 1d6 rounds in addition to being dazzled, or is it really just a repetition of the duration and the effect is just that it’s dazzled?

Does it spark ideas for use in an adventure? The item-centric nature of the creature makes it easy to come up with a few ideas for its use. What would a spell or magic item that uses one of these shawls as a base component look like? What would a town plagued by one of these look like, and how long would it take for players to root out the cause?

Liberty's Edge Star Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I am going to be rather direct in my feedback.


An interesting concept and some good-looking abilities but it ends up too haphazard for my taste.

- The name is interesting and fits its fey nature.

- The second part of the description is a bit complicated. It took me some time to understand what was described.

- A bit too many (and too powerful - at will Crushing Despair) SLAs for my taste. Though they fit the theme, I feel that they lay it a bit too thick, especially when compounded with the new abilities.

- You included both the Improved Initiative and Toughness feats that I dread in monster builds.

- The Hollow Heart Curse is interesting though somewhat strangely-worded. I too feel that it should have covered the Bardic boosts.

- Patchwork Soul Stitching is also strangely worded and seems prone to bag-of-cats syndrome. Come to think of it, I feel that many points of advice for the Create Magic Item round could have been applied to this creature, which is a bit awkward.

- I like Separate Shadow and I feel that it can open a lot of design possibilities, but once again the wording should be polished here.

- Sorrowful Gaze I rather dislike, as the visuals do not fit the power level (blinded by tears is not the same as Blinded in my book) and it comes a bit out of nowhere.

- The origin story is rather bland even though the words here are perfectly evocative. I regret that the inspiring fluff does not mesh better with the crunch above.

- Th shawl thing feels clunky : too similar to other creatures' gimmick and not really needed here. In fact, it detracts from the rest of the description.

In the end, I feel like this monster is something you created for a home game and had trouble translating in a RPGSS entry.


Grand Lodge RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Snowblossom

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I’m in quite a bit of shock right now that I managed to make it into the Top 8, considering all my missteps with this entry. Thank you to everyone who voted on me despite the flaws. And thank you very much to the judges and everyone who commented and provided very insightful feedback. This is such a learning experience to me so I truly appreciate hearing from everyone.

I want to address a lot of the feedback, comments and questions here, but right now I would like to focus on prepping my encounter entry for Round 4. Once I am done with that I will post with a more detailed response. Again, thank you all so very much.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Well, you made a crowd-pleaser. That's a good thing! Congratulations.

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