Tatterghoul – 599 Words

Round 3: Create a Bestiary entry

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Mark D Griffin

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Two thin, gray arms slither out of a pile of filthy rags, ending in ruinous claws. A roughly humanoid form coalesces noiselessly from the refuse.
Tatterghoul CR 7
XP 3,200
NE Medium undead
Init +4; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +15
----- Defense -----
AC 19, touch 15, flat-footed 14 (+4 Dex, +1 Dodge, +4 natural)
hp 85 (10d8+40)
Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +9
Defensive Abilities naturally ignored; Immune undead traits
----- Offense -----
Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +11 (2d6+1)
Special Attacks isolate, sneak attack +2d6
----- Statistics -----
Str 12, Dex 18, Con —, Int 10, Wis 15, Cha 17
Base Atk +7; CMB +8; CMD 22
Feats Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack, Toughness, Weapon Finesse
Skills Climb +8, Escape Artist +7, Heal + 5, Knowledge (local) +10, Perception +15, Stealth +17
Languages Common
SQ freeze (rags)
----- Ecology -----
Environment any urban
Organization solitary, pair, or family (1–2 tatterghouls, 1–10 attic whisperers)
Treasure incidental
----- Special Abilities -----
Isolate (Su) As a standard action a tatterghoul can force a living creature within 10 feet to attempt a DC 18 Will save or be cut off from the help of other living creatures for 1 minute. Living creatures may not aid, cast beneficial spells on or otherwise assist the affected creature. In addition, an antilife shell is created around the creature. This acts as the spell antilife shell except that the affected creature may not move within 10 feet of a living creature who is outside of the shell. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Naturally Ignored (Su) Living creatures are incapable of looking directly at a tatterghoul. Against the living, a tatterghoul has the hide in plain sight ranger class feature for urban terrain and any area of dim light, as well as concealment (20% miss chance). Living creatures are also considered flat-footed against a tatterghoul's attacks. True seeing negates this ability. This is a mind-affecting effect.

Tatterghouls are spawned as a result of slow, preventable deaths witnessed by multiple indifferent onlookers. Given these circumstances, tatterghouls are most often found in large cities, especially in nations like Cheliax, Katapesh or Nidal. In these places the urban poor often succumb to starvation or exposure on the street while passersby pretend not to notice. As they were ignored and invisible in life, so are they in death. The eyes of living creatures subconsciously refuse to linger on a tatterghoul, making direct observation almost impossible. This is not true invisibility, however, and they can be seen in peripheral vision. Shrouded in dirty rags, the tatterghoul's ashen torso and limbs are unnaturally slender, but their claws are oversized and razor-sharp. Its head is featureless except for a gaping mouth and all-white eyes.

Filled with rage at their unnecessary deaths and the callousness of the living, tatterghouls stalk the areas where they died looking for lone victims at night. They rarely kill in combat, preferring to stabilize unconscious enemies and keep them somewhere to watch them starve or succumb to the elements. When faced with multiple dangerous opponents, tatterghouls prefer to use isolate on physically weak enemies before employing hit-and-run tactics.

Most disturbing of all are the unexpected relationships formed when tatterghouls encounter attic whisperers. Seeing attic whisperers as kindred spirits, tatterghouls form profane families with them, lairing together in abandoned buildings or sewers. A tatterghoul’s mournful brood multiplies through the abduction of children. The tatterghoul transforms them into attic whisperers to assuage its unending loneliness, often causing mass hysteria in cities as children go missing. Tatterghouls heading larger families sometimes advance by taking class levels in rogue, becoming devastating combatants.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Mark! 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 Tatterghoul. Ghouls are an awesome undead monster. Putting “tatter” in front of it automatically invokes images of tattered burial vestments and the tattered remains of its victims. I'm in!

Now, let's examine your creativity in describing and explaining what your monster is all about. "Two thin, gray arms slither out of a pile of filthy rags, ending in ruinous claws. A roughly humanoid form coalesces noiselessly from the refuse." Coalesces, eh? Interesting. Not your average ghoul then. And, upon reading further, we learn this creature is very difficult to discern because it can hide in plain sight and barely registers as a flicker in your peripheral vision. Extra creepy! Then, we learn it can isolate living creatures within an anitlife shell to prevent others from helping it while the tatterghoul tears them apart. Ouch! Mean and nasty retribution visited upon those who once ignored these creatures before they became undead. Pretty unique core idea behind this beastie. I'm intrigued. Upon reading about their association with attic whisperers, a red flag goes up for me, because Paizo is very conscious about avoiding anything that poses too much of a threat or smacks of violence and harm against children. So, while associating with existing attic whispers doesn't pose a problem for me, the suggestion that the tatterghoul engages in active abduction of children and their transformation into attic whisperers might be pushing the envelope a bit too far.

So, what about the mechanics? In the interests of time, I didn't try to number-crunch everything, but I had a few concerns. As a CR 7 creature, it's got reasonable AC, hit points, and saves, but the attack bonuses and average damage might be a little low for a monster trying to fill a combat role. Of course, since living creatures are always flat-footed, the sneak attack bonus helps offset the latter a bit. Even so, the tatterghoul could probably do with a Str boost, and even a higher Cha could free you up from having to rely on Toughness for one of its feats, thereby letting you give it yet another option in combat. Additionally, the DC for its isolate ability is a little higher than the top end for a primary special ability. Given that it literally puts opponents into a one-on-one fight without the support of their companions, that might be problematic. Of course, you've tied the DC to Charisma, so it'll limit you on what you can do to dial it back. Undead always face this problem because of how vital Charisma can be to their DCs and hit points. When faced with this situation, it's sometimes useful to juggle around the creature's Hit Dice and Charisma until you hit upon the best blend you can find between average hit points and primary ability DCs. Outside of that, I kind of like the isolate ability as something new and innovative. You don't see a monster with that ability everyday, and imagine the frustration of the other PCs when can't reach their friend to save them or have to resort to ranged attacks and spells to fight the tatterghoul from a distance after its latched onto such a victim. I'm not a fan of the name of the naturally ignored ability, nor its phrasing as it's not that living creatures are “incapable” of looking directly at a tatterghoul. It's just more difficult to discern it. There might be some better ways of describing this effect, but I get what you were going for. And, because of that theme, I didn't really care for the freeze (rags) ability, as it doesn't really feel necessary because of the hide in plain sight it already has.

Next up, the presentation. You look pretty solid here. You bolded, italicized, and alphabetized the right things, and got them all in the right order. Nothing really stood out as a problem, so kudos on getting the professional polish down.

Bottom Line: This is a cool creature concept at its core with a handful of creative abilities. The mechanical underpinnings could use some further thought, but there's nothing too egregious that couldn't be worked out in development, and the professional polish on the presentation helps trim down the amount of time that would take. I think it walks a fine line in tying it so closely to terrible acts against children, but Paizo would ultimately trim that out if they felt it was necessary. So, on the strength of the initial concept, execution, and presentation, I'll go ahead and say I DO RECOMMEND this designer advance to the next round, but I'll be watching your future designs very closely.

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!

• The descriptive text is evocative, but it assumes a location, unless the rags are it and not something just pile dup in an alley. (Now I see that is the case with its freeze ability. Nice)

• Hit points, saves, AC, and attack bonus are on the mark, but damage is a bit low. Sneak attack could help that in certain circumstances, so it’s probably fine.

• The isolate ability has some unique flavor to it. I wondered at first if the antilife shell effect was too much, but it lasting only a minute isn’t that tough. I’d like to know what happens when the affected creature bumps up against living creatures. The spell typically fails at that point, but the way you have things worded it makes it seem like that might not be the case.

• Naturally ignored is a cool ability, but the second sentence is unclear to me. I feel that the word “and” between talking about the hide in plain sight ability and the mention of dim light should be “in” instead. The part about living creatures being flat-footed to tatterghouls is neat and that answers my concern above about damage output.

• I really like how they are spawned. That first sentence of the flavor text is sad, and we’ve all heard those stories. I like that they’re urban creatures and the places you mention them being makes good sense. I like the additional physical description in the flavor text. That these creatures keep people and watch them suffer the same fate is creepy. I really like that they associate with attic whisperers, and that relationship is nicely creepy as well.

• This monster has a lot of good flavor and the abilities are solid. Good job on this one!

This is a nicely creepy submission. 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, this monster’s backstory is very sad, but also quite creepy, which I can appreciate. In addition, you’ve connected them to another sad and creepy undead, the attic whisperers, which is a nice detail. They form families? That sends a shiver down my spine.

Mechanically, I like the isolate ability. It evokes that nightmare of being alone in a crowd. Very cool. I am a little concerned that the monster’s naturally ignored ability is going to allow it to use its sneak attack with every swipe of its claws. I would either reduce the base damage a single claw attack or maybe only give it one claw attack per round.

In the end, I recommend that this designer move on to the next round. Well done!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Mark D Griffin

Judges, thank you so much for your honest critiques. You've given me a lot to think about in the event that I move on to round 3. I wish everyone the best of luck at the polls!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8 aka John Benbo

This one reminded me a bit of one of the monsters from RPG Superstar 2012- the abandoned one- an undead monster that seeks to isolate its prey from others. However, I think the mechanics in the tatterghoul are bit more streamlined and sound, making the idea of an isolating undead work.

This is a super creepy monster that reminds me of Japanese horror films. Good work on this!

I like the name, love the imagery, and I'm down with the overall approach. I'm weighing that against several things I don't like.


Living creatures are also considered flat-footed against a tatterghoul's attacks.

No, just no. Apart from making this creature unpredictable to balance, this departs notably from the precedent made by creatures avoiding a gaze attack.


Tatterghouls heading larger families sometimes advance by taking class levels in rogue, becoming devastating combatants.

Apart from breaking me out of creepy fiction land into the realm of prosaic character-building -- I think it's sinful to encourage people to add class levels to non-template undead. It's a useful option, when other options fail, but it's messy. Further, these are not deliberately created undead, but resonances of human suffering, so I would not expect them to change very much over time. They already have sneak attack. Instead, I would simply suggest that there are advanced tatterghouls, who gain an additional die of sneak attack and an assassin's death attack ability.

I think it needs Str 14 in order to be stronger than most of its prey. Especially if it's going to be dragging its unconscious victims around.

Rather than a Heal skill (and why would it have this general skill, exactly?), I would suggest a (Ex) or (Su) ability that creates a stabilize effect.

Despite my criticisms, this is definitely on my list of potential keepers. Well done!

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

How I’m rating monsters:
Creativity: does this seem innovative and original or does this seem contrived? How is the description?
The inspiration of an undead seeking vengeance for dying in the open is powerful and really sells me on this, it using that ambivalence as a weapon is just perfect. 10/10
Marketability: are the choices you made smart and marketable to a voting public? Does the name pop?
Name is excellent, there’s a good story in the creation and I like the tie in with attic whisperers 8/10
Trade craft: did you format correctly and scale correct to Paizo standards?
Formatting is good but I want a will save for mind affecting abilities which is my biggest ding 7/10.
Encounter worthy: as a GM is this easy to use and reuse?
This thing builds an undead family, that’s recurring villain territory right away. I can think of tons of ways to use this in a mix even with other entries this year! 8/10
8.25 out of 10: My favorite undead and easy top 4 for me. It tells a story which makes all the difference and ultimately I’m adding a +1 for that making my final score 9.25 out of 10

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.


Good concept, with excellent ideas for its new abilities but somewhat sloppy execution.

- The name is great, though it kept me waiting for a kind of ghoul (ie, with paralysis) which it is not really ;-)

- The descriptive sentence is problematic : "ruinous" sounds strange and "coalesces noiselessly"
had me expecting incorporeality, which it does not have either :-/

- The stat block seems ok, apart from Toughness which is one of the unneeded feats for monsters (Neil talked about this above).

- The ideas behind the abilities are great, but I feel that the way they are written opens many potential GM-players disagreements.

And they feel too powerful too. Antilife Shell is a level 6 spell. True Seeing is level 5. Those are quite high for a CR7 creature.

- Living creature might need some clarification. Is a dhampir considered a living creature for these abilities ? What about an outsider ?

- Isolate is full of mojo and a terrifying ability, but need some heavy clarification. What constitutes "assisting the affected creature" ? What if an ally tries to pull the target closer ? What if they attack the monster ?

- Naturally ignored is a wonderful translation of the circumstances of its death (though that only becomes apparent when reading the text that comes after the stat block), but its wording can be improved. It seems a visual effect but does not state so. What if its opponent just closes his eyes or is blind ? Also consider that it will almost always be on (and thus sneak attack almost always added too) since True seeing will be out of reach for most parties encountering a CR 7 monster.

- It seems a bit strange to me that they would have their enemies die the same lonely death as they did while creating families with other similar undead. Note that the latter bit is excellent, except the purposeful killing of children to create attic whisperers which is a bit too much for this contest (but that is a really minor point to me).

All in all, I really like this monster, even if its abilities seem a bit too powerful as is. I put it on my Keep list :-)


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 third monster entry I've seen.

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

Stats are pretty much on the money for a CR 7 monster. DC for its ability is slighter higher, and the saves are up and down, but not to a point of concern.

I like the name. It's evocative and combined with the descriptive text it conjures an image of a terrifying monster with a really creepy vibe.

The isolation ability is really nasty. It's a great mechanic that allows the monster to cut a PC off from aid, singling out a target and disrupting normal teamwork tactics. It's always fun to have a monster that can throw a group off its normal game and force them to rework their tactics.

I love the naturally ignored ability for its flavor, but I'm unsure about the mechanics. RJGrady was right to go to the avoidance feature of the gaze attack. You get concealment, which works hand-in-hand with hide in plain sight. However, by circumventing the game's mechanics and making anyone who avoids looking at it flat-footed, you're going a step too far. It already has the ability to use Stealth at will, and that score is going to be hard to beat, so getting its sneak attacks in will be easy. I realize it needs to hit with sneak attack to get its average damage for a CR 7 monster, but this feels forced. You could always raise the sneak attack to +4d6 and not unbalance the monster, especially using its feats for hit-and-run attacks.

As for the background, I think it's fantastic. The idea of taking the ignored and unseen and having their deaths become a compounded evil is inspired. Solid ties to Golarion. All in all, this is one of the best monsters I've seen thus far and I think it deserves a vote. Granted, I still have nine other entries to read, but this is one of the top two I've seen thus far. Good job, and good luck to you.

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

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Bonus point : I love that you used links. It really simplified assessing your monster. Thanks for that.

Isolate (Su) As a standard action a tatterghoul can force a living creature within 10 feet to attempt a DC 18 Will save or be cut off from the help of other living creatures for 1 minute. Living creatures may not aid, cast beneficial spells on or otherwise assist the affected creature.

I applaud the fact that you've come up with a unique ability -- I'm all in favor of that! But in doing so, you also need to step up your rules language to match it.

What you've written, to me, immediately leads to questions I can't answer. What if the cleric channels positive energy? The description doesn't say that the isolated creature is unaffected by aid; rather, it says very clearly that other creatures cannot aid the victim -- like it's some kind of mind-affecting thing on your allies. So, can you channel positive energy with the victim in the area? And that's just one that immediately popped into my head. I'm sure that I can think of any number of others. Can you use teamwork feats, for example? I can keep asking them.

When I use a monster at the table, I want to know, right then, what its abilities do -- not have a discussion on it.

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

Wow, this is a great monster to evoke terror in players. Most of their normal tactics won't work if isolation kicks in, especially if its stealth and naturally ignored allow it go get a nice squishy mage in the back of the party and the brawny types can't get close to help out. 2-4 of these at a time would be really nasty.

Mechanically it also reminds me a bit of Weeping Angels or Silence from Doctor Who, in that you can't see them normally for one reason or another, and that's a very good connection.

The background and origin of the monster are a perfect fit, and enhance the creepy factor. And tactics and motivation provided give great hooks in how to use these in an adventure. Great job!

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka motteditor

I gave Mark some feedback during development, so I'll be somewhat limited in my comments here...

I really like the name on this critter. Descriptive text is solid; I think it was a cool idea to use noiselessly to bring a second sense into the picture, even when there's no audible component to actually be heard.

There are lot of undead creatures, so it's always neat to see people find new ways for them to be created (like Chris Wasko's deeplit in the Superstar contest earlier this year). I thought this was an evocative one and lived up to that promise. The profane families are creepy and set up a lot of interesting possible encounters with these guys.

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?


Name makes me think of something frayed and worn and a ghoul so...it works!

Suggesting actions in the intro...Bad Mark! :) Otherwise it's a serviceable intro.

Sense and such look good.

Defense looks good.

Whoa...Naturally Ignored is like a semi-invisibile thing that doesn't go away when it attacks living creatures. Only true seeing negates it. So this thing is likely to always be attacking flat footed PCs. True seeing isn't even availble to clerics until level 9. This is almost too much and I look ahead and do see sneak attack so basically it is alway sneak attacking. Plus the name makes me initiall think of the SEP (Somebody Else's Problem) field in the Hitchhiker books, which I enjoy but not what you really wanted here as that's more whimsical.

Offense looks good.

Yikes and isolate is really powerful too. Clerics don't get antilife shell until 11th level...this creature only has 10 HD. You're a little all over the place with power on this creature.

Stats look good, feat choice is a little blah.

Freeze is used but I'd like to have seen disguise in its skills to complement.

Descriptive text is good but long. Maybe a little too long. The abilities you have are powerful, but there's only 2 so this creature doesn't have too much going for it aside from freeze and it's two abilities.

Overall I'm just not feeling this undead. You have a theme and stick with it but your mechanical execution falls short. It feels like you tried to overcome that by having a long and good bottom description but it doesn't quite pull it through for me.

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.

I like the name. "Tatter" is a good word. Makes me expect an undead, though, and as I mentioned elsewhere, I have a slight bias against undead. The bar is a bit higher for me.

Description is fine. "Ruinous" is another good word. I do wonder about "coalesces", though. Is that literal or poetic?

Climb is interesting. Seems unusual for the rest of the monster concept.

Ability names are functional.

Isolate could be terrifying. I assume the everyone can still see each other, they just can't help the victim. What happens if a living creature is 5 ft. from the victim when the ability kicks in?

Naturally Ignored is cool too. Not crazy about the "incapable of" language, but I know what you mean anyway. Probably should find better language for it though. It does make me wonder if the description is appropriate though. Maybe revisit that to get across the experience of Naturally Ignored.

The origin of these is inspired. Well done.

I like the creepy family aspect, that's also well done, and grows out of their lonely deaths. I also don't think Paizo can complain about using something that's in their own PRD. Attic Whisperers lure living children in to their grasp, you're barely a half-step past that, if that.

I'm undecided on the flat footed issue. I like the intent of it, though I worry it may be too powerful. In the end, I don't think it's wholly appropriate, if only because the PCs know there's *something* there, and will be on guard even if they can't directly see it.

This isn't really a ghoul, though. No paralysis (though maybe there should be) and no corpse-eating. So the name could be considered misleading.

Overall, there's no doubt that players will remember this encounter. And with the origin story, there's plenty of material for a GM to work into campaign about individual tatterghouls and how they came about. I suspect this needs some work, but it would be worth doing.

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

Name I like this name. It’s reminiscent of the tatterdemalion and the ghoul, which seem like appropriate roots for it.
Gimmick It’s a pile of rags that has risen from the death of an ignored unfortunate. That’s neat.
Description Absolutely matches the gimmick. And evocative to boot!
Usefulness This one could be the basis of an adventure, or an encounter, or something in between. Especially if we go all the way to the “family” and run a whole creepy scene around that.
New abilities Isolate is very cool. I have a few issues with clarity for naturally ignored. I can’t tell if the concealment only applies in urban environments, or in dim light, or both, or neither. It’s a neat idea, but I’m not sure it’s the right idea.
The rest Since the AC and hit points are almost on target, having concealment all the time might make this creature too tough. Mobility and Spring Attack are flavorful but not terribly useful feat choices, since they cut its damage output in half (and down to an almost laughable level for a 6th level party). Otherwise, I like nearly everything about this critter.

Dark Archive

I have a love-hate relationship with this monster. I love the name, and the description. I hate how the only way a living creature can see one of these is with true seeing. What if a PC has a ridiculously high perception? Hide in plain sight still allows a perception check against a creature's stealth. The way naturally ignored is worded, it's not clear if a check is allowed or not. Isolate should also be clarified as to whether area effects can still affect the target. Also, what if someone is trying to hurt the target? Only helpful effects are called out as not being effective.
I really like the idea behind this, and I wish I could say I loved it all around, but unfortunately there are just too many important questions that need answers. Sadly this means I won't be voting for Tatterghoul, but I wish you good luck!

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8 aka moon glum

While this monster was not my favorite, I think that personal tastes aside it may be the best monster of the bunch. Its story matter is excellent in that I could use it to create a whole 1 session adventure based on the monster, and it is poetic, sorrowful, and horrific. I immediately reminded me of the Harlan Ellison short story, 'The Whimper of Whipped Dogs'.

Then the mechanics present unique abilities that could well lead to some memorable and terrible battles.

With regards to Alanya's comment above, I think that people can see them, but they will have 20% concealment and you will be flat footed without true seeing. That's the way I read the naturally ignored power.

I also read the isolate power as allowing someone to attack a tatterghoul that is fighting an ally, but the they can't target the isolated ally with anything helpful (e.g. mass cure wounds, bardic performance, haste, aid another action), though the power is unclear on this issue.

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

I'm definitely feeling this creature, and its spawning is well horrid. I would have liked to see more special abilities that either take advantage of obfuscation or play on the theme of observed death, social horror and indifference.

It is definitely an ambitious entry, and one that is not ambitious for ambition's sake but rather being born out (and here, borne out well) of meeting the needs of the theme.

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

Mark Griffin wrote:

Two thin, gray arms slither out of a pile of filthy rags, ending in ruinous claws. A roughly humanoid form coalesces noiselessly from the refuse.

Tatterghoul CR 7

Hi Mark! Another undead, in a game I feel already has too many.

Creative: -+the most interesting part came from their creation backstory & being ignored while dying. The next most interesting part is their ignoring their victims.
Useable: -- This seems more plot device than critter, but as plots go this could make a fun murder-mystery.
Memorable: +- If I can have one target a PC's family yes, but by their nature PCs will forget about them & I fear my players would as well. (was that the hiding guy with the attic whispers?)
Voting: Not likely, but I like what you have done so far in the competition so it will depend on the competition.

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, Mark!

What I like: The FLAVOR and THEME here are in spades; although it's fascinating to me we've seen a few undead here who form as victims of neglect. Still, this creature is a very suitable urban-themed undead, and I especially like the naturally ignored ability, that is both mechanically useful and builds upon your theme quite well. Your descriptive text is fantastic and provides multiple seeds for adventure alone, especially with the attic whisperers.

What I struggle with: It's interesting that a creature built on themes of isolation has sneak attack, an ability most easily gotten off regularly through flanking, and thus requiring teamwork. Although you allow for tatterghouls working together (and with attic whisperers), this feature weakens its potential as a solitary encounter, where it's unlikely to be able to use this extra damage after an initial surprise attack. If it had better ambush capabilities (although freeze definitely applies) and/or feats oriented toward aiding solo-sneak attack (feint feats). I feel like the sneak attack was more of a way to give it some combat bulk and I wonder if there were other, more effective ways of doing that.

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. As such this is a creature I would only use if it was very suitable to the story; otherwise there are more combat-terrifying undead that already exist I'd rather rely upon.

Final Thoughts: Beyond being a solid designer, you're a really good writer, Mark. I'm not all that excited by yet another undead alone, but I enjoyed reading your entry for the creativity you still expressed through your design; your writing "voice" comes through loud and clear and that's a good thing.

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? Undead visiting the circumstances of their death on the living is par for the course. I like that you incorporated social agendas into their reason for existing, and gave it defensive measures for justifying its continued existence in an area where undead would be rooted out rather quickly. The thing that killed them in life protects them in death. Creepy.

Are the abilities exciting to run? I like your take on the “can’t be seen” mechanic, as well as the effects of isolate. I’m a little less sold on exactly how isolate works though, in-game. It just wills this antilife shell on its victims? It seems like this could be integrated a little more flavorfully.

Does it spark ideas for use in an adventure? You’ve given me a few ways to use one of these, and a villain that turned out to be in front of the players the whole time could make for a fun reveal.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Mark D Griffin

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Well now that I've finally finished my encounter, I can do a write up on my monster. I don't expect many people will read it, but it's more about catharsis for me than anything else. I'll try to answer the questions that I saw crop up more than once.

Attack and damage to low/high

Because most creatures will be flatfooted to a tatterghoul's attacks, it will get to Sneak Attack almost always (unless it's fighting something undead, something with blindsight, someone with true seeing, or someone with uncanny dodge). That is by design because Sneak Attack is what brings it's damage up to the appropriate level. I also left it's attack modifier a little low because it would be getting a variable bump to its attack rating based on its enemies Dex modifier. It will be better at hitting some kinds of PCs than others. I thought that was neat actually, that being dexterous was a hindrance in this case. I was generally happy with this, but someone did point out it could use higher strength to be dragging bodies around, and that's a good point.

Violence against children

Not much to say here, too each their own I suppose. As a parent, when I see a monster or NPC hurting children, I get extra motivated to stop them. Another person might be made uncomfortable. I will say that I did write the tatterghoul in such a way that everyone can be miraculously saved in the end, because they let people die slowly.

Addition of class levels

I love adding class levels to things that don't generally have class levels. That's just a personal preference of mine, but maybe this wasn't the right place to do it.

Not actually a ghoul

The original name for this monster was the Gutter Wraith, but someone mentioned to me that this was misleading because it's not incorporeal like you would expect. It was hard for me to come up with a name that invoked the feeling of undead without actually containing a word that was itself already a kind of undead creature. Ghoul seemed like the lesser of two evils, and I thought it sounded pretty sweet.

And now on to the big stuff.

Naturally Ignored
I didn't realize how divisive this ability was going to be, but it sounds like lots of people had problems with it. That probably means I should have written it another way, and that's okay. There is more than one way to invoke the feeling of "this thing is hard to see in death because you never cared to see it in life." So while acknowledging that a complete rewrite is probably the way to go, here is what I was actually thinking

If you are not undead, use sight to locate things, and don't have true seeing, the tatterghoul always has concealment against you. Your eyes basically refuse to focus on it, but you can see it in your peripheral vision. The tatterghoul may hide in plain sight if they are in an urban environment, and they may also hide in plain sight in any area of dim light regardless of environment.

That is how is it supposed to work, but why? True seeing negates it because it seems like the kind of thing True Seeing is good for. A lot of people said that doesn't seem fair because PCs won't have true seeing at this level. That is by design, you aren't supposed to be able to get around Naturally Ignored, if you could then it would be a pushover. You can still see it of course, but only barely, and only if you can beat it's stealth check (it will be trying to hide most of the time).

Should this get a will save? Maybe? I'm not sure if there is a precedent for a mind affecting effect that doesn't allow one. As I said before, the challenge of this monster revolves around not being able to see it. Much like an invisible stalker, if you can always see this thing, there isn't much point to it. That is why I called it Naturally Ignored, by the way. I was trying to hint towards the similar ability Naturally Invisible used by things like Invisible Stalkers and Will-o-wisps.

So why is the penalty so much worse than the penalty for avoiding Gaze Attacks? I did that on purpose, since to avoid gaze attacks you can simply look at a creatures torso, or see it in a reflection. Naturally ignored is much worse than that. Try holding something up in your peripheral vision, how well can you see it? I made the penalties worse because the effect seems worse to me.

All of these questions add up though, and it points to a clunky implementation of the idea I wanted. Hopefully that's the kind of thing that wouldn't be hard to fix in development.

How does Isolate actually work anyway?

Oh man. This one. I added Isolate to the tatterghoul extremely late in development. I wanted something to make combat with it more unique that was also in line with its theme, and Isolate fit the bill. The day after I submitted it I was thinking about an cool encounter with the tatterghoul casting Isolate on an NPC who was imminent danger from a deadly trap. At this point I realized that the rules for Isolate were WAAAAAAAAAAAY too vague, and I immediately began imaging the judges tearing my apart and being drummed out of the competition. Fortunately that didn't happen, but Isolate remains my biggest regret with the tatterghoul. If I could do it again I would be very clear:

"Living creatures may not target the isolated creature with the aid another action or affect the creature with any targeted beneficial spells. Blah blah antilife shell."

I'd probably also throw in that teamwork feats don't work as well, since someone pointed that out.

Everyone can still see the isolated creature, they can still attack the tatterghoul as long as they don't enter the antilife shell, area affects work just fine, and any harmful actions are allowed as well.

The antilife shell should work just like the spell, with one difference. Usually if someone with a shell moves within 10 feet of a living creature, the shell is dispelled. In this case, the shell is not dispelled, the creature just can't move any closer. That's because this spell is used as a debuff against the target instead of a buff. If the target could dispel the debuff with a simple move action, there would be no point to it.

Is antilife shell to good at this level? I don't think so, but again that's because it's a debuff and not a buff. Used defensively antilife shell may be too good at this level, but offensively I think it's okay. The affected creature and the party have lots of options to mitigate how effective it is (including ranged attacks, area affects like channel energy, the targeted creature and run away from the tatterghoul), it just require the PCs to try new tactics.

Anyway, that was long and ramble-y, but I feel better. The tatterghoul was not without flaws, but I'm pretty proud of it. Thanks to everyone who shared their opinion, and everyone who voted for me.

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