Phase Mongrel (Jumm-Vubburath) – 595 Words


Round 3: Create a Bestiary entry

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 8

This vaguely canine creature skitters forward on eight segmented, rootlike legs, accompanied by a gurgling growl issuing from its fanged, mandibled maw. Bulbous fungal pustules covering the mongrel’s deformed body leak clouds of musty-smelling spores as it attacks.

Phase Mongrel (Jumm-Vubburath) CR 7
XP 3,200
NE Medium plant
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft., scent; Perception +11
----- Defense -----
AC 17, touch 13, flat-footed 14 (+3 Dex, +4 natural)
hp 85 (9d8+45)
Fort +11, Ref +6, Will +5
Defensive Abilities reactive escape; Immune plant traits
----- Offense -----
Speed 40 ft., climb 30 ft.
Melee bite +13 (1d8+10 plus grab)
Special Attacks colonize victim, paralytic spores
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 13th; concentration +15)
At will—ethereal jaunt (self only)
----- Statistics -----
Str 24, Dex 16, Con 20, Int 7, Wis 15, Cha 9
Base Atk +6; CMB +13 (+15 grapple); CMD 26 (28 vs. grapple, trip)
Feats Improved Grapple, Improved Initiative, Power Attack, Skill Focus (Stealth), Step Up
Skills Climb +16, Perception +11, Stealth +15, Survival +10; Racial Modifiers +8 Climb, +7 Stealth, +8 Survival
Languages Aklo, Mi-Go, telepathy 100 ft.
----- Ecology -----
Environment any non-cold land
Organization solitary, pair, or pack (2–12)
Treasure none
----- Special Abilities -----
Colonize Victim (Ex)
A phase mongrel can inject a mycelium-egg into the body of a living, corporeal, non-plant creature of at least small size that is pinned or helpless through its fanged mandibles as a standard action. The creature may become infected with an embryonic phase mongrel:
Disease (Ex) (parasite) Embryonic Phase Mongrel: Injury; save Fort DC 19; onset immediate; frequency 1/round for 6 rounds; effect 1d2 Con damage. An infected creature who dies from the disease bursts open 1d3 days later, producing a phase mongrel; cure 2 saves. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Reactive Escape (Su)
Whenever a phase mongrel is hit by a melee or ranged weapon it may choose to teleport up to 30 feet in any direction as an immediate action. Phase mongrels typically attempt to take grappled opponents with them. This ability otherwise functions as the spell dimension door (DC 15).
Paralytic Spores (Ex)
When a phase mongrel is hit by a melee or ranged weapon it can release a cloud of paralytic spores in a 5-foot-radius around itself as a free action. Any creature within range when the cloud is released must succeed at a DC 19 Fortitude save or be paralyzed for 1d3 rounds. This is a poison effect.

A phase mongrel looks like a cross between a large dog, a humanoid spider and a bloom of puff-ball fungus. Mi-Go scientists created these intelligent predators during a visit to Golarion. The aliens combined some features of two natural enemies—blink dogs and phase spiders, with some of their own bio-magical engineering. Phase mongrels are designed to kill and reproduce as quickly as possible, in an act of homage to the fecund goddess Shub-Niggurath. Phase mongrels have an instinctive fondness for Mi-Go and often willingly live with them as pets or guardians.
Without Mi-Go guidance, a lone phase mongrel feels driven to stalk and colonize an immature, elderly, or ill target. Once its offspring emerges from the first victim, the pair of mongrels work together to infect more creatures with their young. The group then forms a pack and coordinates their hunts, stalking, surrounding, and ambushing prey. When a pack grows to around a dozen mongrels, the members typically splinter off and go their own way to start new packs. Once introduced to an area, phase mongrels can easily eradicate a region’s animal and sentient life if not quickly exterminated.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Brian! 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 Phase Mongrel (Jumm Vubburath). That's quite a mouthful. Probably should just be shortened to Phase Mongrel and leave off the tongue-twisting Cthuloid name. Phase mongrel sells it all by itself, and if you really need to call out the name by which they call themselves, you can easily save it for the descriptive paragraphs in the larger write-up.

Now, let's examine your creativity in describing and explaining what your monster is all about. "This vaguely canine creature skitters forward on eight segmented, rootlike legs, accompanied by a gurgling growl issuing from its fanged, mandibled maw. Bulbous fungal pustules covering the mongrel’s deformed body leak clouds of musty-smelling spores as it attacks." This runs a little long as read-aloud text, but definitely sets the tone. I like that you invoked multiple senses, as well, with sight, sound, and smell. Creatively, you've reached for a safer design space. Paizo loves its Lovecraftian-inspired creatures, and so do their fans. So, you know your audience and you're potentially giving them what they want. And, rather than defining this as an outsider (which was against the rules), you found a way to spin it as a locally created monstrosity courtesy of the mi-go. Of course, its got all kinds of visually clashing descriptions...as in game terms, it's a plant, but then we see mongrel in the name and it's described as both dog-like and spider-like. Considering it blends blink dogs with phase spiders, that makes some kind of internal sense, and as a Cthulu-esque beast, we can handwave a lot of weirdness. Of course, the real creative inspiration in this design is the egg-laying in its victims, and the paralytic spores help it carry out such a deed. Meanwhile, the reactive escape lets it take grappled victims with it to further its chances. The novel thing is the reactive escape...as we already have egg-laying creatures in the game. So, I'm not necessarily won over by the creative concept. It feels like it has a fair amount of ground that's been trod already, but for what you did weave into it, you stayed consistent with what's been done before...and then you layered on the reactive escape to make it a little different (and a bit of a pain to deal with in a combat situation).

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 hit points, saves, and attack bonuses are spot-on for a CR 7 creature. The AC is a little low and could probably be bumped up a bit, but the reactive escape is a defense all its own by teleporting the phase mongrel away and pretty much forcing attacks to be a standard action against it rather than a full-attack option. The average damage for this beast is a bit lower than it should probably be, and you could probably stand to give it a couple of claw attacks, while still limiting the grab ability to just the bite. The more vexing mechanical consideration is the DC for the paralytic spores and embryonic disease. At DC 19, it overshoots the high-end of a CR 7 creature (which is normally DC 17), and could stand some dialing back, especially given how easy it is for the creature to grab and abduct prey already. I'm also unsure of how the DC 15 for the reactive escape ability is calculated. Is it Wisdom-based? Normally, dimension door doesn't grant a save as it only works with willing creatures, but you obviously needed to define some means for victims to resist being pulled along with it. Even so, I would have thought it could use this ability in a more conscious way than purely as a reactive thing dependent on someone striking it. Yes, it has ethereal jaunt...and, if this ability is meant to be an extension of that, I'm good with that approach...but, I'd have liked to see you join together the phase mongrel's movement options into a unified whole somehow.

Next up, the presentation. You're mostly clean here. You bolded, italicized, and alphabetized the right things, and got them in the right order. Your special abilities need to all be in one paragraph, though (i.e., not as headers with a paragraph of text beneath them), and your +7 Stealth bonus as a racial modifier is a bit unorthodox. Racial bonuses normally come in even numbered amounts (i.e., +2, +4, +6, +8, etc.). You also need to cite the basis for your save DCs on the reactive escape and paralytic spores abilities. I'm also curious about the CL 13th for its spell-like ability, but the creature only has 9 Hit Dice. Normally, you'd look to keep those things a bit more in sync (but not always).

Bottom Line: This was an interesting creature concept, but I think it relies on a lot of Cthulu mojo to carry it without necessarily giving us anything tremendously new aside from the reactive escape ability. Some of the mechanics and presentation could also be tightened up a bit. So, I'm going to put myself ON THE FENCE for this designer to advance to the next round. If the voters put you through, keep refining your ideas and look for more ways to innovate at the same time you're defining the mechanical underpinnings of your designs.

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 wouldn’t keep both names in the title of the creature. If it’s known as other things, I explain that in the flavor text.

• I like that you incorporate sound and smell into the descriptive text, but you assume too much action in the description. I think it’s also too long and would likely get trimmed down in development. I do like the image of a insect-dog-plant.

• Its hit points are on the mark for a CR 7 creature, but its AC is a little low. Its attack is on the mark, but its damage is low.

• It doesn’t meet the prerequisites for Improved Grapple. I know, I know. I wish that monsters with natural weapons and grab could count as Improved Unarmed Strike, but that’s not the case.

• Since it has 8 legs, its CMD against trip should be 6 higher.

• The formatting for most of the special abilities is off. You don’t need a line break after the name of the ability.

• There’s some sloppy language in the colonize victim ability, and the format for disease is a bit off.

• I’d also reword some of reactive escape, but its clear enough to use.

• Paralytic spores is cool, but you need to call out what ability score the DC is based on.

• I like that these things were made by mi-go, and that’s a clever way to get an alien-like creature past the “native to Golarion” rule. I also like that they are derived from natural enemies. The rest of the flavor text is fine, and it provides enough details to let a GM know how to use this monster in an encounter or adventure. I don’t fully understand why they go after elderly, immature, or ill creatures to colonize, but I assume it’s because they are typically easier targets and will succumb to the disease faster. Also, you don’t capitalize mi-go. This is an interesting monster with a good dose of weird, but this could have used a more careful eye before submission.

This was a descent submission, but it has its problems. I’m on the fence about whether this designer should advance to the next round.

Paizo Employee Editor

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

First off, there is a lot of action and movement in the monster’s description, which is something we try to avoid as much as possible. You never know how and where GMs might introduce the monster to their players. However, the concept of the mi-go coming to Golarion and crossing blink dogs with phase spiders does fire up the imagination. I can’t imagine how the mi-go who dreamt up this idea proposed to his comrades! I was a little confused that this monster was a plant, but then I remembered that so too are mi-go.

Mechanically, I’m not too sure how the reactive escape and paralytic spores abilities work together. Can the phase mongrel do both when it is hit? That feels like a bit much. I would maybe do the spores on a hit and the reactive escape when an attack misses. That would probably make this monster pretty frustrating to fight, though!

Two other points: the word “non-cold” in the environment line is a bit unusual. We would probably change that to “warm or temperate” (which is what “non-cold” means in bestiary environment terms). And the description begs the question: if they are so fecund and dangerous, why haven’t they taken over already? Are they a new species? Is there some group out there exterminating them? I would have liked a little more explanation about that.

In the end, I’m on the fence about this entry. Cthulhoid monsters are a tough sell if they aren’t already part of (or hinted at by) the Lovecraft canon.

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

Phase Mongrel
How I’m rating monsters:
Creativity: does this seem innovative and original or does this seem contrived? How is the description?
So it’s a puffball fungus dog-spider? I can dig that but we’re rubbing up to the gonzo line 7/10
Marketability: are the choices you made smart and marketable to a voting public? Does the name pop?
The double name and all the bioengineering kills this for me. I really want to like it but it just goes too far. 4/10
Trade craft: did you format correctly and scale correct to Paizo standards?
Formatting is fine balance is also fine this is going to fair escape often 8/10
Encounter worthy: as a GM is this easy to use and reuse?
It’s going to escape and come back and try to breed and escape again. with a teleport and ethereal jaunt a smart GM is going to use this as a harrier 7/10
6.5 out of 10: name it better and rewrite the fluff a little and this gets like 2 more points as is I think it’s getting edged out.
Good 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, so this is the seventh monster entry I've read so far.

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

AC is rather low for a CR 7 monster, as is its damage output. I'm not certain the abilities it has offset these problems. Sure, it can move, and on a battlefield where it can use the environment to prevent charges, that's fine, but there's still the possibility of full attack actions from ranged weapons, which could make a fight against this thing too short for its offensive abilities to shine. Saves are a little varied, but not overly so. I get the CL for ethereal jaunt. It's part phase spider, and a phase spider's CL for its ability is 15th, despite only having 6 Hit Dice. You went with minimum caster level for the spell. Fair enough.

It's a crossbreed between a phase spider, a blink dog, and a fungus. I suppose my first question is why is it still a plant with all the extra stuff in the mix? I probably would have gone with aberration as the type. The fungal crawler, an existing animal/plant fusion, sets the precedent here.

The reactive escape ability is the high point here. I really like the ability on the whole. As I've said elsewhere, I'm a fan of monsters that make PCs have to change up their tactics and find new approaches to combat. Mechanically speaking it needs work. I'm likewise confused by the DC, and there's no indication as to what stat the DC is based on.

The paralytic spores work into the overall build and offensive strategy, so this is fine.

Colonize victim. Why "colonize?" I understand it's a fungus and the word fits, but it sounds odd, because when a fungal colony inhabits a person, we call it an infection, which it is because mechanically it's treated as a disease. Minor formatting problems here.

The background works and you've given the phase mongrel a home on Golarion. I'm a mythos fan, and I do like to see mythos-related creatures. The experimentation element here is nice because it doesn't really make sense, but given the alien minds we're dealing with, it's possible to see some sick connection in their melding two enemy species together.

Overall, this is a fairly solid concept, but I'm looking askance at some of the creative choices, build problems, and minor formatting issues. I can't say that entry will get a vote from me, but I also have eight other entries to view, so it's certainly not out of the running. Good job, and good luck to you.

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

Not a big fan of the name. I think picking one or the other would've been the way to go. And truthfully, I'd probably have gone Cthulhian as phase mongrel doesn't do much for me (it also led me to expecting some sort of canid creature, so having a plant really throws me).

The description assumes too much action, though you do use some nice verbiage in there. The last sentence especially makes them seem pretty terrifying.

The write-up's clear and lets me know how to use these things. It explains where these things come from and why a combination of two magical beasts give us a plant. I still think that's really odd though, and unfortunately it's throwing me from the rest of the monster (I know mi-go are plants, but still). Unfortunately, these are a bit one-note -- you give an affinity for mi-go, which suggests other possibilities with these things, but I think the mi-go would be the star in any of those. These more or less hunt and kill and there's only one type of encounter to have with them.

Looking at the stats...
I think you did a good job making sure not to just make this an amalgam of the two base creatures. I think that would be a very easy trap to fall into, but this definitely stands on its own, so well done there.

I like colonize victim; reminds me a lot in a good way of the ol' slaad. It also feels very Cthulhian to me and I think would really creep players out.

I think reactive escape could be frustrating, though. It would force players to use different tactics, which is fun to do. Though as an immediate action, I think it'd only be able to use the ability once per round, correct? (I know you can't answer now, Brian) So maybe it's not quite as frustrating as I thought on first glance, and would just mean maybe a little more coordination as one person triggers the ability and then it could be peppered with ranged attacks.

However, I think combining that with paralytic spores (a free action, so it'd happen multiple times in a round) may be a little too much. Heck, I think having that be unlimited is probably too much, though you don't really have the word count to put some limits on it.

In the end, I think this is a really imaginative idea but it just doesn't gel for me, I'm afraid.


A cool critter, but also maybe slightly too Lovecraft-derivative for its own good.

Mechanically, I don't much like CR 7, HD 9, CL 13. Yeah, I know, the game itself is infamous for giving critters caster levels and spell levels way above their CR or HD range (efreeti: CR 8, HD 10, CL 11th, 9th level SLAs???), but I feel that shouldn't encourage us to do the same.

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

My first reaction was "cool a fast plant monster!" Most plant monsters are slow and lumbering, or practically stationary trees. I definitely liked the tone of the alieness and linking it to mi-go. The highlight is the reactive escape, especially combined with bringing a grabbed creature along for the ride and implantation. With that ability, I do feel that the paralytic spores are overkill though. A single one of these could easily deal with a party enough to get away with its victim and make a buddy to take down the rest. When this clearly isn't a boss monster, that's a bit much.

My final concern is that it can breed really fast. How can these have not destroyed entire cities?

I'm tentatively voting for it, despite it's problems, but have 7 more entries to read, and wouldn't be surprised if something knocks this out of the running for my votes.


It seems to me that when you combine two magical beasts and add some plant traits, you ought to end up with an aberration. Not sold on the concept, although the visuals are nice and the spores are interesting.

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?

Phase Mongrel

The name has me slightly perked. At first it suggests that it would be a dog themed version of the phase spider, and then I thought about the name some more and it looks like it could exist in many settings, especially one like Numenara's Ninth World. Not sure exactly what to make of the parenthetical name, the sound I pronounce it as makes me think of Dune.

Your whole first sentence is basically assuming actions. I would cut most of the first and take only first few descriptive words and merge it with the second sentence.

Ooooo it's a plant dog creature! Interesting.

Init and senses look fine.

Defense looks ok, AC feels like it's a tad low, HP too, but that could be a plant thing. Although with a skittery dog plant I'd imagine a little higher AC.

Reactive escape seems fine...except when you say they typically attempt to take grappled creatures with them. As far as I know, there is no teleport type spell (and especially not DD) that can take an unwilling creature. They all mention objects held by unwilling folk (giving the object a save) but to casually mention this without really expanding the entry with rules mechanics has me worried. Especially because there is no limit to how many times reactive escape can be used.

Offense seems fine, although attack routine seems short.

Colonize Victim isn't a new idea, and a quick scan of the UMRs surprises me there isn't one for implant. This won't get used unless successfully stealthing a sleeping creature...the only thing this beast has is Improved Grapple to help its grappling and grab. Plus, you hint at an embryonic phase mongrel but there's no stats for that (and there would be no room in this entry for that). How long does it take for the embryo to pop out? I only may become infected with it? This ability needs some revision.

Paralytic spores also isn't a new idea, a defensive ability that imparts some penalty when attacking in melee range. This isn't even that imaginitive and it's unlikely to be effective. I mean, parayltic spores could happen but even that's somewhat unlikely considering melee types usually have high fort saves. If it's a monk then this poison effect probably won't even affect with their class ability against that. Barbarians have something in their rage powers too that protect against poison affects I believe as well.

Ethereal jaunt doesn't need to specify self only...the spell is already personal. I believe it's only called out like this when it includes objects of a limited weight (such as the succubus). Perhaps there're places Paizo's been inconsistent before on this though.

Stats look good, but grapple seems a little low for a grapple focused creature.

Skills look good but the racial modifiers are pretty high.

Languages are good.

Non-cold is a weird to say "any warm".

Now a pack could be dangerous with 12 of them. But...at the time a party is encountering 12 of them none of their abilities will likely be affecting anyone. I like that you did go for the dog feeling by making it a pack but it's just impractical to see it happen. This is pretty nitpicky but just be sure in the future if you progress to think about little things like this.

No treasure?!?!? Bold choice.

Descriptive text gives a good background with aliens and such. But the danger here is that I get no sense as to why the Mi-Go created this specific creature. There's no motivation...potentially simple curiousity after stumbling on to the two creatures? These are also presented more as aggressive pests as opposed to a wolf like pack and that can work but here the whole description just kind of feels disparate.

Overall, I'm not entirely fond of this. I was excited to get a plant monster, but this doesn't break a whole lot of new ground with its abilities and the execution of it is somewhat wonky. I like the ideas you have and your descriptive bottom text is good, but I'm not exactly sure what to make of all of the disparate parts that came together. I'm sorry to say I won't be voting for it but I'd be happy to see you progress...if you do you'll need to really tighten your designs and execution.

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

Phase Mongrel (Jumm Vubburath)
Name Makes a lot of sense. It’s a teleporting spider dog, so invoking the phase spider and blink dog in the name works. I can even say the “real name”.
Gimmick It teleports around and spreads a disease for procreation. That’s cool. It’s a bit like its ancestor creatures, maybe too much.
Description It is certainly an evocative description, if a bit long.
Usefulness Sure I'll use it, it can fight anyone, anywhere. It’ll teleport around, spread some spores, rinse and repeat.
New abilities Reactive escape is awesome. I don’t know why the spores are a free action instead of something that just happens. The disease is just a pretty basic disease, which isn’t a problem in and of itself, but also isn’t particularly interesting.
The rest Stats seem fine, egg-laying monsters are cool, the bizarre origins of the creature are neat, if a little forced. Overall, it’s pretty cool.

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.

DO NOT ANSWER ME NOW. DO NOT DQ YOURSELF.

Mix and mash do not an awesome monster make.

This monster tries to be and do too many things. It would have needed a greater specific focus beyond its intended ancestry.

- Double name does not cut it for me. Actually, the chtulian-sounding name would have fit it better as it gives me directly an otherworldly aberrant feeling.

- Plant is interesting but the theme is not really developed here. Which is something that can be said about all the components of this monster : a juxtaposition of interesting ideas but no real integration within a powerful concept.

- Pet peeve : why so many monsters with Improved Initiative coming out of the blue ?

- Colonize victim is rather classic. Nothing that really awes here.

- Reactive Escape is good, and I like the added possibility to escape with its prey, but it would need some opportunity for the victim to counter this (say, a save). At will is far too good though, especially if it automatically works. It will be very frustrating for players and not in a good way I think.

- Paralytic spore is ok by itself, but in addition to Reactive Escape, it becomes too much, overkill. Some variety in its abilities so that they can open new possibilities in different situations would have been better.

- Origin story, like the rest, feels a bit too mismatched. As if you had been taken by surprise by this round.

All in all, I feel that the concept could have resulted in a pretty awesome creature if it had been much more focussed and streamlined. As is, it feels too much like a bunch of abilities hastily glued together.

ONCE AGAIN : DO NOT ANSWER NOW. DO NOT DQ YOURSELF.


For this CR range, Improved Initiative is fairly common. CR 6 to 8 creatures have anywhere from four to eight feats, and many of the PCs they will be facing have Improved Initiative by this level.

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

Brian, congrats on getting into the top 16!

What I like: The visual image of a fungal canine. This would be fun to describe in an encounter, and useful in a number of scenarios. It's got a good CR and good abilities for that CR (which is harder to accomplish than one might first think).

What I struggle with: Even the text itself notes it: this is less a unique creature than a cross between a number of existing creatures. It's basically an evil, fungal blink dog. I am not sure WHY plant scientists from outer space made these--how do these creatures serve the mi-go?

The special abilities, while technically new, are largely re-workings of similar monster abilities (create spawn, phase spider phasing, etc.). I'm also a little tired of plant monsters that spread by "colonizing" living victims (and the mi-go themselves don't do this and thus wouldn't create a creature that had to spawn in this way). It's been done, and I don't like using such monsters as a GM as it's not a heroic death for a PC (I'm too nice a GM, I know).

Some mechanics are off: the monster does not need Improved Grapple -- the "grab" ability alone is Improved Grapple for monsters, as it does not provoke and gives it a +4 bonus to grapple (which you didn't include in your math--you only included the Improved Grapple bonus). As one of the judges noted, a monster that DOES have such a feat still needs to meet the prereqs. I'm not sure why it has or needs a climb speed.

Is it one of the three monster types I've been totally sick of since, oh, about the Bestiary 3 (dragon, fey, or undead)? No! Hooray. I just wish as plants go you were a little more daring with some truly new abilities to go along with the unique visual you provided.

Final Thoughts: You have a good sense of balanced design and a clean writing style; you just need to be willing to go for more oomph and refine your grasp of monster mechanics.

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

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What a description - I can totally picture this thing, and it makes sense, even though it is a completely bizarre, and I'm usually not a fun of the jumble-creature approach.

I like this entries concept and the ambition of bending the Golariona into outer space and realms beyond. I'm no Cthulhu fan so I see none here. ;P

It kind reminds me of a vegepygmy/russet old combo in that it can create more of itself, and is a plant.

I'm a little put off by the having TWO options when it is hit by a weapon - I think I would have more fun if it blink/BAMF'd randomly.

I really like the last paragraph, from the situating as being sometimes bereft of mi-go agency, to choosing of weak victims to proliferation and subsequent ecosystem desecration - shows that the designer ids thinking about their creature beyond the mere statblock.

Dark Archive

This monster is interesting. I really want to love it, but find it falling short. As written, it has too many problems for me to vote for. Since these have already been mentioned by others I won't rehash them here. However, I wish you good luck!

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

Brian Minhinnick wrote:
This vaguely canine creature skitters forward on eight segmented, rootlike legs, accompanied by a gurgling growl issuing from its fanged, mandibled maw. Bulbous fungal pustules covering the mongrel’s deformed body leak clouds of musty-smelling spores as it attacks.

Hi Brian,

Phasing critter? plant monster? Yes please. :)
Creative: +- reactive dim door is neat as is the reactive paralysis. I don't care for the backstory, implant disease is creepy (but expected) and not something to use in an encounter.
Useable: -+ I'm not sure the mechanics are finished. the cool parts are reactive which will frustrate some beat-stick players (that's a plus and a minus IMHO) so will have to be used sparingly.
Memorable: ++ bouncing around during combat, paralyzing those with successful attacks. Yes that will keep my player's attention.
Voting: Weak Keep I wish it had a more active presence.

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

Not of fan of this being a plant and things are a little too all over the place for me to vote for it.

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? As an engineered creature, it’s allowed to part with sensible evolution and just be weird. A dog-spider-plant? Ok. Their purpose is linked to their creator’s faith, which is at least some reason for them to do what they do.

Are the abilities exciting to run? There isn’t a whole lot happening here that hasn’t been similarly packaged in other creatures before. They’re good abilities though. Players becoming hosts to unsettling monsters is usually a memorable experience. The reactive escape is a fun way to surprise players, and makes me wish there was more like this tied into the creature.

Does it spark ideas for use in an adventure? Getting these around the time players are making more use of dimensional travel means we could start exploring what’s happening between space. That’s a good excuse for these showing up to ruin a character’s day.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 8

So now that I'm out of the running I figure I should go back and address some people's comments on the Phase Mongrel.

First of all I want to say that after doing this I realized I've never made a monster from scratch before. I've never needed to with the massive amount of monsters, templates and NPCs out there for d20/PFRPG. So this was my first ever monster creation effort.

I have been kicking myself repeatedly since the submission, due to a lot of last-minute, panic induced changes I made.

Straight up Mistakes

  • CMD bonus - More legs = higher versus trip
  • CMB - Should have included a +4 on grapple from grab
  • Not meeting pre-reqs for improved grapple - This was cause by adding HD at the last minute after playtesting it a few times. I needed a feat fast and didn't do my due diligence because of time restraints/panic.
  • Special ability formatting - My brain insisted there was a line break there...even though there shouldn't be.
  • The wording of Reactive Escape - I had originally worded the ability as: "Whenever a phase mongrel is hit by a melee or ranged weapon it may choose to teleport up to 30 feet in any direction as an immediate action. The phase mongrel may take a small or medium grappled creature with it. This ability otherwise functions as the spell dimension door." I changed this to the version above in an attempt to reduce word count. The reason I thought DD allowed for taking a non-willing opponent was a panicked misreading of the line "Saving Throw none and Will negates (object)".
  • Racial skill bonuses - I failed to reverse engineer/notice that they should be even values.
  • Any Non-Cold Land - I swear I saw this in a bestiary, but now I can't find it. Must have been stress induced psychosis :P

    Not Mistakes, but Things I Regret Changing

  • Plant - for 99% of its development life, the Phase Mongrel was an aberration. I changed its type at the last minute for two reasons. The first was that medium aberrations have been the most common type of monster submitted in past years. Secondly, because I wanted it to have plant immunities. I was unable to find a single creature in the bestiaries that had plant immunities but not the plant type, so I decided to go with precedent. If I could go back, I would have left it as an aberration.
  • Jumm Vubburath - The secondary name was added at the last minute as well...but it's apparently horribly unpopular to have two names for a monster. Would have just knocked this off if I could go back.

    Things I Consider Poor Criticism

  • Low damage/Low AC - If this thing had high damage, along with its other abilities it would be overkill. The whole point is the paralysis, disease, and teleporting about dragging PCs and generally panicking them at their lack of normal tactics working. The high save DCs for its abilities makes up for the (slightly) low values in other places, imo. It's AC is by far the lowest for its CR, but it wants to get hit. During my playtests the fighter type would usually run up and hit it, possibly paralyzing themselves, and then the phase mongrel teleports over to the wizard or archer and starts a grapple. Drag that weakling away from the party and infect them, then either go in for more, retreat to the ethereal plane, whatever...it's intelligent and has options. It can also CDG paralyzed players if it wanted to.
  • Why does it exist? - "Phase mongrels are designed to kill and reproduce as quickly as possible, in an act of homage to the fecund goddess Shub-Niggurath. Phase mongrels have an instinctive fondness for Mi-Go and often willingly live with them as pets or guardians." Why do Mi-Go exist? Why do owlbears exist? Why do dwarves exist? A creation by a race of bio-engineers as a work of art/worship of their crazy monster fertility goddess is as good a reason as any in my book.
  • Why haven't they taken over the world? - Why haven't wraiths/shadows/vampires/whatever spawning monster taken over the world? Well presumably adventurers are out there killing them, or they reproduce beyond the ecosystem's ability to feed them and die off. There is an implicit suspension of disbelief in regard to spawning monsters already worked into Golarion's setting. I think it's only fair that it extend to all spawning monsters, not just familiar ones.
  • Caster Level – 13 is the minimum caster level for ethereal jaunt. Many extant monsters function this way, including the phase spider which is a worse offender with a CL 15.

    The Verdict

    I messed up. I allowed panic to set in and made a bunch of changes which took my monster from pretty good, down to meh. I really wish I could go back and submit a previous draft of the Phase Mongrel, but that's impossible now. Thank you everyone for the feedback, I have learned a lot. I would advise any future contestants to go with your gut, and not let yourself panic. If you made it this far you are probably better than you think. Keeping cool is one of the keys to winning SS.

    Here is the version I should have submitted, for posterity:
    Phase Mongrel 2.0


  • Brian Minhinnick wrote:

    Things I Consider Poor Criticism

    Low damage/Low AC - If this thing had high damage, along with its other abilities it would be overkill. The whole point is the paralysis, disease, and teleporting about dragging PCs and generally panicking them at their lack of normal tactics working. The high save DCs for its abilities makes up for the (slightly) low values in other places, imo. It's AC is by far the lowest for its CR, but it wants to get hit. During my playtests the fighter type would usually run up and hit it, possibly paralyzing themselves, and then the phase mongrel teleports over to the wizard or archer and starts a grapple. Drag that weakling away from the party and infect them, then either go in for more, retreat to the ethereal plane, whatever...it's intelligent and has options. It can also CDG paralyzed players if it wanted to.
    Why does it exist? - "Phase mongrels are designed to kill and reproduce as quickly as possible, in an act of homage to the fecund goddess Shub-Niggurath. Phase mongrels have an instinctive fondness for Mi-Go and often willingly live with them as pets or guardians." Why do Mi-Go exist? Why do owlbears exist? Why do dwarves exist? A creation by a race of bio-engineers as a work of art/worship of their crazy monster fertility goddess is as good a reason as any in my book.
    Why haven't they taken over the world? - Why haven't wraiths/shadows/vampires/whatever spawning monster taken over the world? Well presumably adventurers are out there killing them, or they reproduce beyond the ecosystem's ability to feed them and die off. There is an implicit suspension of disbelief in regard to spawning monsters already worked into Golarion's setting. I think it's only fair that it extend to all spawning monsters, not just familiar ones.
    Caster Level – 13 is the minimum caster level for ethereal jaunt. Many extant monsters function this way, including the phase spider which is a worse offender with a CL 15.

    I agree with you. The CL is something I've run into in some of my projects.

    But seriously... a plant??? :) :) :)

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