Despoiler – 596 Words


Round 3: Create a Bestiary entry

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9 aka electricjokecascade

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Three crackling spears of obsidian skewer this cadaverous humanoid through the back, their tips emerging from the tattered remnants of its holy vestments.

Despoiler CR 7
XP 3,200
CE Medium undead
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +13
Aura desecrating aura (20 ft.)
----- Defense -----
AC 20, touch 14, flat-footed 16 (+3 Dex, +1 dodge, +6 natural)
hp 85 (10d8+40)
Fort +7, Ref +7, Will +10
Defensive Abilities channel resistance +4; Immune undead traits
----- Offense -----
Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +13 (1d6+6 plus 1d6 negative energy and grab)
Ranged black shard +11 touch (3d6+1 negative energy)
Special Attacks black shards, embrace of darkness, pounce
----- Statistics -----
Str 21, Dex 17, Con —, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 16
Base Atk +7; CMB +13; CMD 25
Feats Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Mobility, Spring Attack
Skills Climb +16, Intimidate +16, Knowledge (religion) +12, Perception +13, Spellcraft +12, Stealth +14
Languages Common
SQ black shards, ebon altar, flagellate
----- Ecology -----
Environment any land
Organization solitary or pack (4–6)
Treasure standard
----- Special Abilities -----
Black Shards (Ex) A despoiler is impaled by three shards of negative energy. As a standard action that provokes an attack of opportunity, a despoiler may remove and throw a shard as a bolt of negative energy to a maximum range of 20 feet, dealing 3d6+1 points of damage.
Desecrating Aura (Su) A despoiler has a 20-foot radius emanation equivalent to a desecrate spell (the bonuses are included above). This aura can be negated by dispel evil, but a despoiler can reactivate it on its turn as a free action. A desecrating aura suppresses and is suppressed by consecrate or hallow; both effects are negated within any overlapping area of effect.
Ebon Altar (Su) As a full round action that provokes an attack of opportunity, a despoiler can tear two shards from its body and affix them to the ground, converting them into a small altar. This ability functions as the spell desecrate (caster level 10th), centered on the altar. It has hardness 10, 9 hit points, and break DC 24. The altar’s bonuses are doubled when it is within a despoiler’s desecrating aura.
Embrace of Darkness (Su) If a despoiler begins its turn with an opponent grappled, it can attempt a new combat maneuver check (as though attempting to pin the opponent). If it succeeds, it impales its opponent upon its shards, dealing 3d6+1 negative energy damage per remaining shard, destroying the shards in the process. The opponent can make a Will save for half damage (DC 18). The save DC is Charisma-based.
Flagellate (Ex) A despoiler may generate a shard as a swift action by flagellating itself and taking 1d6 damage. It may never possess more than three shards at once.

Despoilers are undead created from the remains of righteous clerics. Their previous affinity to positive energy provides the requisite balance so that they may house black shards, their bodies acting as reservoirs from which new shards may be drawn.

Despoilers excel in leading lesser undead into battle, planting ebon altars in strategic locations to bolster ranged attack troops before charging the enemy. Occasionally packs of despoilers are sent to desecrate sacred sites or assassinate powerful holy figures.

The knowledge of their creation is rumored to have been a gift from the devourer Sairianthrine to the Whispering Tyrant. They were first encountered mere months before the Tyrant was defeated in 3827, and disappeared when Gallowspire was sealed. Their recent resurgence in Virlych and beyond is seen as a dire omen of greater evils to come.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Phil! 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 Despoiler. Nice, powerful, single-word name. Immediately lets you know you're dealing with something not-nice and that you'll likely want to keep at a distance.

Now, let's examine your creativity in describing and explaining what your monster is all about. "Three crackling spears of obsidian skewer this cadaverous humanoid through the back, their tips emerging from the tattered remnants of its holy vestments. " Very good. Gives us a good indication that we're facing an undead creature. Has enough details to liven up the imagination of any player hearing that as read-aloud text. Reading further, we can see that these are the corrupted corpses of righteous clerics, first appearing during the days of the Whispering Tyrant and the Shining Crusade. They've got a bolstering effect for lesser undead, and a means for establishing an even more powerful altar overlayed with their own self-generating desecrate aura. The can even hurl shards of negative energy or impale grappled victims on them, never having more than three such shards unless they flagellate themselves to create another one. That's some cool, unique identifying abilities to help this creature stand out.

So, what about the mechanics? In the interests of time, I didn't try to number-crunch everything, but you clearly did your homework. As a CR 7 creature, you have the right mix of AC, saving throws, hit points, attack bonuses, average damage per round, and even the DC for its dark embrace. Really well done on working out the mechanical underpinnings of this creature. Looking deeper into the special abilities themselves, you've done a great job of investing both a ranged attack and a potent enhancement to grappling in the black shards, and it's a great thematic element to weave into how these former-priests were slain and reanimated as undead. Their ability to also use these shards to create an undead-enhancing zone on the battlefield is also a nice touch. Personally, I'd have liked to see a limited duration for such a temporary altar, otherwise, you could see these creatures planting such shards across an entire plain, valley, or nation over time. And, given that new shards can only be created through the flagellation of the despoiler, I think it might be a nice touch if there were a limit to just how many shards it can have in existence at one time, causing any in excess of that amount to dissipate. Outside of that, I really like what you've done here. I think the pounce and grab mix might be a bit overkill, especially since it already has Mobility and Spring Attack.

Next up, the presentation. You look pretty solid here. You bolded, italicized, and alphabetized most of the right things, and got them all in the right order. This is a very clean, polished presentation, and it's virtually ready for publication. From what I can tell, you only forgot to italicize one reference to the desecrate spell in the ebon altar special ability.

Bottom Line: This was a very well done creature concept matched with flavorful, creative abilities with solid mechanics behind them (some of which even synergize with one another). The presentation is just as solid. So, I'm very happy to say I DO RECOMMEND this designer advance to the next round, and I look forward to what you come up with next.

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!

• All of the numbers relevant to Table 1–1 are on the mark. The only thing that’s low is damage, but this monster has other ways of messing people up, so that’s fine.

• Black shards is a cool ability and the wording is good.

• I like desecrating aura and the ebon altar. Good job on spelling out the hardness, hit points and what not of the shards. That’s useful information that gets skipped often in turnovers.

• Embrace the darkness is another neat ability, and there’s only one tiny wording error.

• Even though I don’t totally get how it makes shards from damaging itself, it does help the creature be able to have more than three shards its entire unlife.

• All in all, the special abilities are cool and work together in an interesting way. Good job on matching the wording we use for mechanics.

• The flavor text is fine and it makes it clear how a GM should or could use these monsters in an encounter or adventure. I like that they were clerics. I don’t necessarily like when designers reach for the big toys and link things to the Whispering Tyrant or Aroden, but it works in this instance. Plus, the final line works like an adventure hook.

This is a solid design that was well-crafted. Even though it’s not something that normally flips my “adore” switches, you won me over. Good job. I do recommend this designer 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, the name and descriptive text work well together and are quite evocative. However, I feel like it needs a little more in its origins to differentiate it from the huecuva, another undead cleric. Maybe the despoiler is the restless undead of a cleric killed by negative energy? Hence, its shards of solid negative energy.

Mechanically, I like those shards and the fact that the creature has to take damage to create new ones. The desecrate aura is appropriate, as is the embrace of darkness. I’m not exactly sold on the altar ability, though. It seems to only create a static center for another desecrate aura. I don’t think it’s an ability that is going to get used much; maybe if it had some rules interaction with actual holy sites, giving the GM a plot hook to throw at her players.

In the end, I’m on the fence about this one.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9 aka electricjokecascade

Thank you judges for your feedback.


It has an obvious role in encounter design, and is a new take on the corrupted undead cleric archetype. Well done.

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.

You made an incredibly solid box, but you do not go outside it.

Your monster has all the nuts and bolts nigh perfectly fitted (I do have some small comments later on). But it can be easily summed up as undead with negative energy.

Ranged negative energy attacks, grappling negative energy attacks, portable negative energy aura, static negative energy aura.

You took a single thing (negative energy) and did a thorough declension of it. But nothing else was surprising. Nothing was out of the box.

I liked your item VERY much because it was really out of the box thinking. I did not like your encounter that much because it was too common, too easy, even though it was very well built.

If you reach Top8, you will face very strong contenders. I expect you to merge your ability to build perfectly and with exact detail with the "outside the box" mojo you are capable of.

The small details I noted that might be improved :

- "Despoiler" does not really win me over, as I think many creatures could use this name. And I have many things that come to my mind when I read it, based on its previous uses in RPG, like the Despoiler Wyrm in Werewolf RPG. I feel that an additional word (maybe an adjective) would have focussed my mental image of this monster and give it an even better chance at winning me over.

- Why CE ? Why not LE, since these undead are clearly built to be an important part of something greater. Also I feel CE is the easy monster alignment (with True Neutral) and I need to be convinced that it fits the creature well. Not quite clear here.

- Pounce is too much and appears out of nowhere IMO. The creature feels more like playing a pivotal and tactical role in a battlefield rather than charge and claw.

- I like that you made it a fast creature and gave it all the appropriate abilities. Again, it is something you do quite well : you do think things through and create a solid build.

- I would like some description of how new Despoilers are created. It feels like the Black Shards are essential to their creation, but it is not clearly written anywhere.

- I do not like the flagellate ability. It makes the monster a staff with charges. And it is rather easy to abuse (see Neil's comments above).

Still, you did create a very strong monster with great visuals, even though I feel that it lacks in mojo. I put it on my alternate list :-)

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

Grand Lodge Star Voter Season 9

A solid and well designed monster, whilst the name did not really grab me I applaud the creativity and descriptive text which really gets my imagination running riot.

After grading all the entries it was a tossup between this or another very good monster for my final vote.

The fact that I loved Mr Tuckers first two entries swung it in his favour.

I will sign off now as I seem to be turning into a Philip Tucker groupie which could be worrying for my lovely wife :-)

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

Despoiler
How I’m rating monsters:
Creativity: does this seem innovative and original or does this seem contrived? How is the description?
On one hand the skewers are inspired on the other the rest of the description seems lazy. I’m also not thrilled about obsidian skewers in an undead body seems too literal to the spell component I’m going with a 5/10.
Marketability: are the choices you made smart and marketable to a voting public? Does the name pop?
I feel this would draw on the splatter punk designer crowd except they never stick around. I dislike the name and I’m going to guess this is one that would get by the judges but the voters are going to give you the side eye 4/10.
Trade craft: did you format correctly and scale correct to Paizo standards?
Formatting is tight and this actually very well balanced for it’s level 10/10.
Encounter worthy: as a GM is this easy to use and reuse?
This fits as a boss monster for lesser undead and can gain extra life as the ranged energy attack and easily become ranged healing. I’m going to be blunt and say I dislike this but I can see it as highly reusable. 8/10
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.
6.75 out of 10: I’m going to cut 2 points off and say final verdict 4.75 out of 10 because this suffers from comparison to the other more interesting undead options. I’m not going to use more than 2 votes on undead beasties and there’s 2 I’d say solidly out competed you, arguably 3.

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

I really like that many of the abilities tie back to the black shards, but something about this creature didn't capture me enough to make it from the ones I wish I could vote for, to the 4 votes I have.


I have to admit that the first reading (and especially the name) didn't do anything for me, but a second reading sold me on the monster design. I do have to agree with The Raven Black that the pounce ability seems misplaced here, but otherwise it seems like a solid entry.

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 OK, but doesn't feel all that evocative to me. Something that despoils could be anything (reading on, I wonder if Despoiled might've been slightly better...). I like the descriptive text, though. Nice choice of words like "skewer." (If I wanted to quibble, I might object to holy there, since that's a game term that doesn't really apply in this case, but I think that's being super nitpicky. The obvious use is the phrase is what I think people will take from it.)

The first sentence of the write-up had me questioning a bit -- don't we already have huecuva to fill this role? This appear to be slightly different though as these folks are likely transformed against their will, which could have been made clearly by integrating the last paragraph more into the first one, I think. As is they remind me a bit of the Steel Inquisitors from Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series (the pounce and Mobility feats also make me think of those highly mobile combatants).

That said, I think I know how I'd use this as a GM, and that's the most important part of the write-up, so I think it succeeds there.

Looking at the stats ...
The organization name is a miss, I think. That's an area to show a creative flair and give a little flavor to a monster, iMO, and "pack" doesn't feel at all right for these guys. I think something like cloister or convocation might have worked better. (And there are never two of them?)

I like the use of the black shards, though I'm not sure I like flagellate as a recharge mechanism. Seems a bit odd to me.

I'd have liked to see something a little different with desecrating aura. Just adding a spell effect to a monster doesn't excite me -- tweak it somehow, like you would/did in your R1 magic item.

I do like embrace in darkness, sort of. I wish it were more of a defensive measure, as a nasty surprise if someone grapples them. I feel like there's some disconnect going on here; they can pounce and have Mobility and a ranged attack, making me think they're going to be highly mobile, but then they also have grab and a special ability connected to grapple. I guess there's no reason they can't close after starting as mobile, but considering one's going to cost them the use of their black shards, it just seems a little counterintuitive to me.

That's compounded a bit by the altar, which again uses up that limited resource. I like the concept behind the thing and making them a "boss" monster, which will lead toward varied encounters with them.

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?

Despoiler

The name is visceral and elicits a gut reaction. As a theatre professor once told me, whether it's love or it's hate you must elicit a reaction.

Yeesh good intro. Makes me think of those iron spike dudes from the Mistborn series. Terrifying.

Desecrating aura is good but giving it back as a free action means it can reactivate right after it is dispelled. A free action can occur at any time. I'd have made it a swift at the least.

Defense looks good.

Channel resistance sure.

Offense looks good, negative energy claws and grab!

Ooo cool throwing shards of the stuff impaling it as negative energy bolts.

Oooooo impaling combat maneuver (thank you for referencing an existing maneuver with pin) with the shards that destroy the shards. Lots of negative energy damage.

Pounce? Doesn't...really make sense.

Feats look good and so do stats.

Now the ebon altar could get overpowering but it's pretty darn cool.

Now flagellate is kind of weird. I don't get how shards generate from flagellating itself. I would have left this off and just leave it as running out of shards...there's some story scenarios that could result from a crafty party that has it run out of shards.

Your descriptive text is serviceable but your last paragraph might be a little too much lore-y for this contest.

Overall, I really like this mobile altar building undead. It's flavorful, although a little lacking in the bottom description, and I can envision lots of uses in different types of encounters for this. I'm not going to say you're getting my 4th vote but unless the remaining few I have to look at are out of this world then I will likely vote for it.


Jacob W. Michaels wrote:


The first sentence of the write-up had me questioning a bit -- don't we already have huecuva to fill this role?

I see the huecuva as more of a lurker. This critter reminds me of something you might see depicted in a real time strategy game. Not necessarily a boss, but a top lieutenant, like a ringwraith or the Ten Who Were Taken.

It's a fairly narrow concept, but it has style. And considering the problems with some of the other entries, there is a lot to be said for doing one thing and doing it well.

Flagellation is a little weird. I think maybe some sort of generic ritual might be better... I like the idea of them pausing to blaspheme the powers of Good and life.

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

RJGrady wrote:
Jacob W. Michaels wrote:


The first sentence of the write-up had me questioning a bit -- don't we already have huecuva to fill this role?
I see the huecuva as more of a lurker. This critter reminds me of something you might see depicted in a real time strategy game. Not necessarily a boss, but a top lieutenant, like a ringwraith or the Ten Who Were Taken.

Oh, I agree. I'm just saying I was thrown by the first sentence, and it's something for designers to be aware of -- I think had Philip brought a little more of the origin from the third paragraph into that first sentence, he'd have avoided that initial gut reaction on my part.

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.

Not a bad name. I have a definitely idea of what I expect it to do from the name alone.

Cracking spears of obsidian in its back feels a little video-gamish. Not sure what I think about that. Holy vestments is interesting, reinforces the vibe of the name.

I have a slight bias against undead. They just seem to come up too often, so they need to be a step above.

More climbing undead. I know some undead climb well, some don't. I've never been able to figure out what makes which ones which. It doesn't seem to always thematically fit.

Special Ability names are flavorful, always nice to see.

The shards are an interesting mechanic, allowing for ranged and/or grappling damage. There's a method for regenerating them, and doing so relatively quickly, so that keeps its damage output up. The aura and altar are cool, turning this into a kind of support creature for a larger group of lesser undead. That's a neat niche to play in. I do wish the altar had some sort of duration specified. As it is, it feels exploitable.

I really like its support role, but I don't know that I like it on its own. By itself it's just not quite clicking with me. Still, you do call out that support role specifically in the text, so that does help.


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 eleventh monster entry I've read thus far.

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

Looking over the stats, everything looks to be on par for a CR 7 monster. Low saves are slightly higher than norm, but that's fine.

Decent name. It's evocative and the accompanying imagery from the descriptive text provides a frightening image.

I'm not sure why it has the pounce ability. Seems wasted on two claw attacks. Now if it could use its embrace of darkness ability as part of a pounce, that would make sense.

Speaking of embrace of darkness, I'm so glad that's there! when I read the descriptive text I was hoping someone could get impaled on those things.

As for the ebon altar, that's a cool ability, but I agree that it needs limitations. Only one altar in existence at any one time would be good. Having it work in conjunction with its own desecration ability is a nasty touch.

The flagellation ability makes sense, and I'm glad you put the limitation in the ability keeping it to three shards at any one time.

You've taken a central theme and built a compelling monster around it. My concern here is that in building up a theme where all its major offense centers around negative energy, putting death ward on the party's fighter (or worse, paladin) effectively neuters its offense and in ideal circumstances it goes down in less than three rounds.

That said, with its Golarion ties as they are, a despoiler leading a strike force of undead (or a pack of despoilers) against a temple of a good deity sounds like a thrilling encounter. I just wish you'd had the word count to verify just who would be sending them out to do this. Given their ties to the Whispering Tyrant I can certainly guess, but an extra pointer for those short on Golarion-fu would have been nice.

All in all, this is a fine monster and an excellent entry. You've upped my list of monsters clamoring for my votes to five. Since I only have four to give, I'm going to have to review and see which designers deserve them. Good job, and 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

Despoiler
Name It has a generic noun for a name, like the devourer. I’m not a big fan of the name, but it’s fine.
Gimmick I only sort get the idea behind this monster. It has (renewable) shards that it uses to bolster itself and other undead.
Description Very evocative description shows off how evil these fallen holy men are.
Usefulness Undead are always handy, especially mastermind-type undead that have some support for other monsters.
New abilities The powers all revolve around the black shards. The black shards are pretty neat, but with the aura of desecrate, the altars seem a little redundant, but the powers are clearly written. I kind of wish the aura was tied to the shards, to keep everything in a neat little package, but that’s just a personal choice.
The rest Statistics seem to match the CR fairly well. None of the skills or feats seem particularly outstanding in either direction.

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

Congratulations on Top 16 Philip!

Creative: +- Undead means an uphill battle for me. Cleric undead is a plus, and it fits into the negative energy this has so many options to inflict. Buffing other undead also fits clerical role good job there.
Useable: -+ the alter sounds good, the impaling is good (but doesn't have to be undead). Negative energy is not negative level drain, I had to remind myself of that for some reason. However creating all those altars will leave the boss with no hp. Its intelligent & deals negative energy so it can heal itself (I'm just no sure how) negative energy damage (1d6) < damage (1d6+6)
Memorable: +- as a boss I think so. The spiked altars the party has been discovering for the previous week's adventuring suddenly get explained. That will stick.
Voting: Weak Keep

Dark Archive

The idea behind this is good, but the mechanics seem slighty off to me. I agree with others that pounce seems weird for a Despoiler to have, especially since the shards don't do anything when this happens. I'm not sure how Flagellate translates to new shards (I understand the ability, I'm just not sure it makes logical sense), and desecrate on top of desecrate seems like a little much, especially when there is no limit to how many ebon altars can be in existence at once. A Despoiler could literally litter the surrounding area with altars, ensuring that there would always be an area of double effect. The pounce attacks and negative energy damage will cause the party enough trouble without the long list of abilities, so I think you could have pared them down a little and still had a strong monster. The name could also use some work, as it doesn't grab me. I do love the description though, and I really like black shards and embrace of darkness.
This monster has its points, and overall the good outweighs the bad, but unfortunately it's not enough to make it into my top four for this round. Regardless, I wish you good luck!

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

I'm not feeling this creature - always appearing as if they had three spears stuck through them feels trite and somewhat unwieldy.

Having said that, the creation of a "pool" that is represented by the shards, and the ability to regenerate through flagellation is pretty cool given the theme of dead righteous clerics.

I'm kinda torn on this one. I'm not fond of the exposition, the theme, though clever feels both a little force AND makes a certain kind of sense - the mechanic approach is ambitious.

Interesting.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka mechaPoet

With the black shard ranged attack, the impaling grapple maneuver, the undead bolstering, and the surprising mobility (Spring Attack? Not what I expected but not necessarily out of place), the despoiler strikes me as a dangerous foe straight out of Dark Souls. That's a good thing in my book considering the excellent monster design in those games.

I think the major issue here, as others have pointed out, is the lack of duration for those altars. For me, the most out of place part is the Flagellate ability. It's good that they have a way to regenerate shards, and probably a good idea to limit their creation to one per turn. But it just seems like the wrong verb. They have claws, not any sort of whip, so I don't understand what the motion of this is. Plus, flagellation is a penitent motion, and there's nothing else here that really speaks to that theme of the mutilating supplicant. Maybe they could claw a hole in themselves and pull the shard out?

I don't know that all of their big damage being negative energy is a bad thing. If the players come prepared to fight undead and evil clerics, then it just seems like good strategy to exploit those advantages. Plus, it buffs other undead, so it's not like there are no other threats to deal with when facing this thing.

Lastly, I think I'd like to see them placed a little more firmly in Golarion. That said, I think you've used your word count well in describing their creation and tactics, so I'm not particularly bothered by that.

Overall this is pretty solid, and I could see myself voting for it. Good luck!

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

While there's not a lot wrong with this monster, there's also not a lot that makes me feel it's a needed addition to the undead hordes already in existence. As Jason noted, it's thematically the same as a heucuva, and attacking with negative energy and desecrate effects are also pretty standard fare.

My biggest concern is the embrace the darkness. If the despoiler has all three shards in pace, that's a whopping 9d6+3 damage to an already wounded opponent (since it has presumably been hit by at least one claw already.) It can only do this once thankfully, without regrowing new shards.

Also, it has the grab ability, but doesn't include the bonus to grapple in the CMB (should be +17 with grapple).

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

Congrats on getting into the top 16!

What I like: Tossing shards of negative energy is cool, and gives this undead a niche that makes it give me a reason why I might use this creature over other undead. In fact, off the top of my head I can't think of a lot of undead that have a ranged attack, and that makes for a useful PC antagonist. I like the Ebon Altar idea, as well as the theme of it being a marshal for other undead, something that could have been built upon even more.

What I struggle with: The flavor is not coming together for me personally. I'm failing to make the leap of logic from "was a righteous priest in life" to "monster that throws shards of darkness." I DO see the difference from a huecuva, which are the restless spirits of heretical priests, but I don't see HOW or WHY these creatures form the way they do. Are the priests' corpses purposely desecrated to make these undead, or do they form for some other reason? Tying it to a lost soul killed in the shadows, or some other darkness/negative energy related theme, would make more sense. The descriptive text in general feels piecemeal and actually in my opinion undermines a strong creature concept rather than helps pull it together.

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. Its ranged attack is why I'd use it over other undead, but that's about it.

Final Thoughts: You've got a very strong sense of design and excellent grasp of mechanics. The theme falls apart for me however. I still hope your excellent design skills take you far.

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? Your description breathes life into the world by use of an origin that is an upset of balance, rather than something horrible and unnatural. That’s a thought provoking situation and a welcome change from the standard reasons for undead being around.

Are the abilities exciting to run? The description is evocative, interesting, and gives sensory details about one of its primary attacks. Good work showing that you’re devoted to creating a tightly-designed entry. Ebon alter is a great way to bring alter mechanics into situations where players won’t expect to see them. Flagellate is a necessary means to recreate the spears, but it’s also the only part of this entry that seems a little out of place. If these are created by being receptive to negative energy, are the rituals performed during the cleric’s life at all important to the functioning of the beast anymore? Is flagellation still penance when there is no remorse behind the act?

Does it spark ideas for use in an adventure? Perhaps. They’re a striking and memorable image, so I expect encounters with them to be fun to describe and play out as the GM.

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