Malkin – 597 Words

Round 3: Create a Bestiary entry

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka thornnm

This stunted creature is a disturbing combination of cat and humanoid with its thick coat of tabby brown fur, clawed hands, and large feline eyes.

Malkin CR 8
XP 4,800
NE Small fey
Init +10; Senses darkvision 60ft., low-light vision, scent; Perception +17

----- Defense -----
AC 20, touch 18, flat-footed 13 (+6 Dex, +1 dodge, +2 natural, +1 size)
hp 87 (13d6+42);
Fort +7, Ref +14, Will +10
Defensive Abilities DR 10/cold iron; Immune sleep

----- Offense -----
Speed 30 ft., climb 20 ft.
Melee 2 claws +13 (1d3+1 plus lethargy), bite +13 (1d4+1)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks breath stealer, sneak attack +4d6, soporific breath
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 10th; concentration +15)
At will—ray of enfeeblement (DC 16), sleep (DC 16)
3/day—deep slumber (DC 18), ray of exhaustion (DC 18)
1/day—dimension door (self plus 50 lbs. of objects only), sleepwalk (DC 19)

----- Statistics -----
Str 13, Dex 22, Con 16, Int 14, Wis 15, Cha 21
Base Atk +6; CMB +6; CMD 23
Feats Weapon Finesse, Dodge, Mobility, Improved Initiative, Spring Attack, Combat Expertise, Improved Feint
Skills Acrobatics +19, Bluff +21, Climb +16, Disable Device +16, Disguise +21, Escape Artist +19, (Knowledge (local) +12, Knowledge (nature) +10, Perception +18, Sense Motive +11, Stealth +30; Racial Modifiers +4 Stealth
Languages Common, Sylvan
SQ change shape (cat, beast form II), swift shapechanger

----- Ecology -----
Environment any urban
Organization solitary, pair, or clowder (3-5)
Treasure standard

----- Special Abilities -----
Breath Stealer (Su) As a full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity, a malkin can steal the breath from an adjacent helpless creature. This deals 1d4 points of Constitution damage. The malkin heals 5 hit points or gains 5 temporary hit points which last for one hour (up to a maximum number of temporary hit points equal to its full normal hit points). A successful DC 21 Fortitude save halves the damage. Sleeping creatures remain asleep unless they succeed at this save. Further attempts on the same creature within 24 hours grants a cumulative +1 bonus on the save. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Lethargy (Su) A malkin's claws inflict weariness upon its victims. Curse—claws; save Will DC 21, frequency 1/day, effect fatigued for 24 hours; cure —. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Soporific Breath (Su) A malkin that has successfully used its breath stealer ability within the last hour may exhale a 15-foot cone of sleep gas as a standard action. Creatures within the cone must succeed on a DC 19 Fortitude save or fall asleep for 1 minute. Using this ability again requires another successful use of the breath stealer ability. This is a sleep effect. The save DC is Constitution based.

Swift Shapechanger (Ex) A malkin can assume cat or its normal form as a swift action.

Malkins are malicious fey thought to be the physical manifestation of acts of cruelty towards people or animals. First seen within the Whipcrack district of Egorian, they have since been found in most major cities. Their favorite haunts include crowded tenements and slums, as they are ripe with potential victims.

Like cats, they play with their prey. A preferred tactic is using change shape to become a family’s pet, often by eliminating their predecessor. Their victims soon begin to suffer from bouts of narcolepsy, dangerous sleepwalking, and a fatigue that sleep cannot alleviate.

Malkins eventually tire of their games. They leave behind them seemingly untouched corpses, or, more often, individuals who believe themselves to have committed a bloody murder while sleepwalking.

A malkin is typically 3 feet high and weighs up to 40 pounds.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

John! 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 Malkin. So, based on this submission and the dog/cat conversation in the Top 32 Guild Hall thread, I take it you're a cat kind of person. Malkin is definitely a good name for a cat monster without outright calling it a cat monster.

Now, let's examine your creativity in describing and explaining what your monster is all about. "This stunted creature is a disturbing combination of cat and humanoid with its thick coat of tabby brown fur, clawed hands, and large feline eyes." Okay. We've literally got a cat monster now. And it's not your average catfolk, though some folks might interpret it as such at the game table if they hear this read-aloud text. It might be more interesting if you invented some other distinguishing characteristic for this an unusual fey-inspired pattern in its fur, perhaps? Regardless, reading on, we can see that the crux of this creature is all about putting its victims to sleep and then inflicting Constitution damage by stealing their breath. It also comes with a variety of sleep-based spell-like abilities, as befits a fey creature. So, on its surface, it seems like a neat package to tie into a monster concept. The later tie-in to them being the physical manifestation of acts of cruelty towards animals and people is a nice touch, though I prefer the animal cruelty angle more than the people-based one, despite the connection to Cheliax. In fact, I'd have rather seen this concept tied to some carryover from the First World maybe as a now-native fey.

So, what about the mechanics? In the interests of time, I didn't try to number-crunch everything, but I had a few concerns. I'm not sure this concept is best represented by a CR 8 creature. It feels more like it should be dialed down to more of a CR 4 or something, but that said, you've got the right mix of AC, saves, attack bonuses, spell-like ability DCs, etc. Hit points are a little below normal, but the DR 10/cold iron helps out with that, plus it can use its steal breath ability to gain some extra temporary hit points (up to its full maximum, which seems fairly easy to do in any town where it can stealthily sneak up on sleeping victims). In fact, the sheer amount of Constitution damage the malkin can inflict on helpless victims as they sleep...without even waking them pretty significant. The DC for this ability is set very high (21 versus 18 for a normal CR 8 creature), which means even on repeated drain attacks on the same victim, it'll take 3 uses before it a high enough bonus is granted for most victims to make the save. By that point, they'll be down 7.5 Con on average. Thereafter, any ensuing combat is likely to involve its soporific breath which can knock out one or more opponents and most spellcasters with ease since it's a Fortitude-based save. Follow up uses of deep slumber on warrior-types against their weaker Will saves are also likely to seize a further advantage for the malkin. And even its lethargy-inducing claws coupled with a ray of exhaustion or at-will rays of enfeeblement are bound to further weaken the opposition. In 2 or 3 rounds, an encounter with this creature (given the likelihood that it uses its +30 Stealth for a nighttime attack) is likely to lay low an entire party with relative ease. And, if a battle somehow turns against it in a significant way, a quick dimension door puts it well out of harm's way. So, this is one of those designs where I think you put in sleep-based ability after sleep-based ability, but didn't really playtest it or think everything through. The scales are just tipped too much in favor of the malkin.

Next up, the presentation. You're mostly solid here. You bolded and italicized the right things, but your feats still need alphabetizing. You also left an extra parenthesis in your Knowledge (local) skill and left out a hyphen for the Constitution-based soporific breath ability.

Bottom Line: This creature concept has a good premise at its core with a handful of creative, sleep-based abilities, but, in combination, many of those abilities go way over the top in terms of establishing the creature's overall threat level in relation to its CR. The mechanical underpinnings need a bit of tinkering, and could probably use some further refinement in development. The professional polish also has a few missteps which call your attention to detail into question. So, given all of that, and despite a cool, core idea, I think the execution lets us down too much and I'll have to say I DO NOT RECOMMEND this designer to advance to the next round. Regardless, the voters may still put you through if the malkin's concept really resonates with them, and some may want to see what you can bring in later rounds by keeping you in the mix. It might just depend on how many of them are cat people vs. dog people. ;)

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 like the descriptive text. Familiar and creepy, and it doesn’t assume location or action.

• Its hit points are low for a CR 8 creature, but the damage reduction might help that. Its saves and AC are about on the mark. The attack bonus is nicely between high and low guidelines, but the damage output is pretty low. This might be fine for a creature that focuses on other things.

• When presenting lists of information (like feats in this case, but this goes for special abilities, skills, spell-like abilities, etc.), always put them in alphabetical order.

• Breath stealer is a neat ability, but it’s a bit weaker than other similar abilities. The wording for the bit about hit points is a bit truncated from how it typically appears, and I’m confused about the amount. Does this mean that it can essentially have double its normal hit points if it used this ability 17-ish times within an hour?

• Lethargy and soporific breath are both pretty solid, and I like how they work with the monster’s other abilities. Swift shapechanger is solid too.

• The flavor text is fine and it gives the GM ideas of how to use these creatures. This monster is certainly more of a story monster than a tough combatant, which is perfectly fine. You did a good job of representing this folklore monster. My only real quibble is that I personally feel like the chosen CR is a bit off. I feel like you could have done it at CR 6 and still had a fine entry.

Overall, this was a good submission, but 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, you immediately get my attention with what I guess is a Shakespearean reference. Though technically, “malkin” is also an Elizabethan insult for an untidy woman (if you know what I mean). That being said, the name works for a catlike fey. I also appreciate the collective noun you used, and the description works well for me.

However, I can see a couple of errors in the stat block. Feats should be in alphabetical order, and the spell is beast shape (not beast form).

Despite those errors, I like this monster. I weakly recommend that this designer move on to the next round.

So, it has some style. I think it has to be noted that this concept basically combines medieval European superstitions about stray cats with some of the game mechanical tropes of the therionthrope. I think that's not a bad place to start. However, the concept itself doesn't sell me right away.

What is disturbing about its combination of cat and human features? Does it have weird bulging eyes or something?

A lot of cat stuff. A lot of sleepy stuff. I thin it needs more in the mix. Boots and a sword? Cinammon-colored fur? I don't know. But I think it needs more of a gimmick. I'm missing a roleplaying hook beyond these creatures being not very nice.

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

I like this monster, and not just because I am a sucker for a weird sisters Shakespeare reference. I see it as similar to Brown Jenkin from H.P. Lovecraft's 'The Dreams in the Witch House', but with furry cat-like features (rather than the rat like features of Brown Jenkin), hands like a human, and a wicked, bearded human face.

As a cat person myself, I find it especially frightful that a Malkin might replace a family pet.

I believe that there is room in the monster collection for weird, evil fey, and perhaps because many people love cats, there really are not enough evil creatures with ties to the domestic house cat.

This kitten has got my vote!

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 fifth monster entry I've read.

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

Hit points and AC are low for a CR 8 creature, but that's offset somewhat by the DR. Attacks are good. Damage is way low, but then this isn't a creature designed for a straight-up fight. Ability DCs are rather high. Saves are up and down, but not to the point of major concern. Still feels a little squishy. I'm thinking that a build at a lower CR might have been appropriate for both mechanics and theme, but more on that later.

I like the name. It's appropriate for the creature. The description needs work. There are catfolk in the game. There's nothing disturbing about a cat-like humanoid unless you tell me why it's disturbing.

The abilities have a tight theme that draws on folklore. Nothing wrong with that, but in the right circumstances this could be a TPK machine, especially for PCs with poor Will saves, since the DCs are so high. (Unless it was unlucky enough to cross a group of elves and/or half-elves with cold iron weapons and lots of damaging spells.) Going back to the folklore theme, I have to wonder if this is an appropriate CR, given that it's likely to prey on people who aren't much challenge to it. I also have a hard time with it being able to suck the life out of helpless opponents without drawing attacks of opportunity. I realize it's a supernatural ability, but it doesn't fit for me thematically. The breath weapon and shapechanging abilities are fine and work quite well with the overall theme.

As to the flavor text, it fits well into Golarion and provides a GM with a good way to work it in as an encounter. However, I'm once again drawn back to the theme. It preys on people in the slums, who are no challenge to this thing. So why is its CR so high? It still feels like it would fit better as a challenging encounter for lower level PCs, with a CR of 4-5, maybe 6 on the outside. I'm undecided about this entry, but I still have ten more to go, and there are things I do like about it, so it could still have my vote. Good luck to you.

With the CR being so high, catching one of these things would be like an episode of Supernatural.

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?
I’m a Dresden fanatic so I was a little worried this was going to be a complete rip off, it was not. Description is a little lacking and I’m not as impressed as I could be 5/10
Marketability: are the choices you made smart and marketable to a voting public? Does the name pop?
Name is cool, and usually Cats + Internets = winning. Description hurts this badly as does it’s natural comparison to the Jim Butcher monster which is an uphill battle for any author… 6/10
Trade craft: did you format correctly and scale correct to Paizo standards?
Formatting is okay but the power balance is heavier than Paizo standard in that a creative GM might TPK a party. I’m not going to mince words here, the Paizo standard is actually weak tea and I’m usually having to throw epic encounters to get a mundane fight anyway so I’m not dinging your score hard here 8/10.
Encounter worthy: as a GM is this easy to use and reuse?
This has a good chance at surviving finding more allies and coming back for more fights which makes it a potential recurring villain, yep 10/10
All get a 1-10 score which I will then average. I reserve the right to add or subtract points from the final score as long as they are justified with reasoning.
7.25 out of 10: I’m bumping this by a +1 for a final score of 8.25 out of 10. The reason for the boost is that you actually give this a decent chance at survival while most of the competition gave em a fight to the death monster. There are tactical possibilities that color outside the usual lines and I think you got dinged harder than strictly necessary by the judges.

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 like the name -- though a search for malkin brings up LOTS of Michelle Malkin hits, so I'm tempted to ding you for that. :p

I was surprised to see people seem to think of this as a small catfolk. I pictured something more like a cat (or rather a humanoid on all fours) with human face (and cat eyes). That said, the fact we're all seeing different things does maybe mean we need a bit more description -- is it bipedal? (The lack of bonus to CMD vs. trip and the shape change to cat make me think maybe it is and my vision of it is the one that's off.)

Write-up seems solid (though I tend not to think of fey as physical manifestations, which seems more undead to me -- I wonder if you meant "embodiment" there). I know how to use these things and they seem suitable evil. I'm a dog person, but using cats as a chassis for a monster is always OK to me, as it brings attention to how evil they are. :)

Great collective name -- I had to look it up (which I like, since it means I'm learning a new word), and it's perfect for these. Thanks for calling it out, Jason.

Looking at the stats...
Probably should have the shapechanger subtype, considering it's not only got the ability to change shape but can do so extra quickly.

Soporific breath, lots of sleepy spells ... I'm seeing a theme developing. I am a little concerned as sleep-type effects can really knock out a party and lead to a TPK quickly.

Breath stealer seems like a good power to me, though I don't like the number of temporary hp you allow them to get. Doubling their hp seems a little excessive.

Lethargy and soporific breath, though, start feeling like too much to me. Maybe I wouldn't mind them without the SLAs you've already given it, but at this point, I think PCs are going to have such an incredible time resisting this creature's effects that it's overkill. I feel like no matter what they do, they would have a really hard time not ending up asleep, and that's not going to be fun for 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?


The name is serviceable. I'm thinking it is using the root "mal" for bad and kin making this some sort of bad band of things.

Hmm...are they always tabby brown furred? No variations? The descriptive text is ok. It gets the point across but isn't super evocative.

Hooray Fey!

Senses and such look fine.

Defense looks good, although DR 10/cold iron is maybe steep...but at the level this is encountered cold iron is easily met.

Offense looks good, lethargy is interesting. I'm not sure I like that you went with a curse effect (although it kind of makes sense for a fey) instead of using ray of exhaustion as a basis. 24 hours is a long time. That will basically put the PC out of play for an encounter and then they rest.

Breath stealer is...strong? With a Stealth + 30 (which seems really high for CR 8, even a dire tiger isn't coming close to that in tall grass) this is going to be a big screw you to sleeping parties. Sure, the action provokes, but if folks are sleeping and it is stealthing then the guards posted aren't likely to catch this creature and it can just Co damage someone to death quickly. Maybe waking the target on a successful save would be better. Also, what's stopping this creature form carrying around a bag of mice and breath stealing before an encounter and then soporific breathing the PCs from stealth?

And 4d6 sneak attack, which makes sense thematically, but dang if this creature starts CdG'ing sleeping creatures while it stealths + 30. That's gonna be insta-death and I actually don't see a reason to use any of its other abilities besides stealth and CdG on sleeping opponents. Ok, maybe to use the soporific breath to knock folks out and then CdG.

Soporific Breath makese sense...but again the synergy is so good that this creature is a walking CdG machine. Especially with a bag of mice.

Stats look good...Stealth is danged high. Disguise is really good. Bluff also really good.

Feats are good but really makes this feel like it wants to be a PC instead of an NPC.

Yikes and it can swift change to a cat and back. How would you ever recognize/catch this creature. I'm all for deadly and hard encounters but this a little beyond that.

What is a clowder?! Thanks for teaching me a new word!

Descriptive text is good and hits all good points.

Overall, I'm a little concerned about the power creep of this creature. I'm also just not overly fond of how you've written your abilties as of this presentation. I don't find it particularly engaging other than as a murder machine. A group of these things with bags of mice and stealthing will be a guaranteed TPK. I don't think I can vote for this.

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

I'm completely behind having a cat based monster, as opposed to a monster based on one of the great cats like lions and tigers. While making it a stealthy predator makes sense, I'm not sure I see the connection to it being a sleepy cat. Sure cats sleep a lot, but it seems like a stretch to go from that to a monster who's powers are "I can put your to sleep, and then after that I can put you to sleep, and afterwards, I can put you to sleep again. Oh, and to break things up, I'll make you tired..then I'll put you to sleep."

Breath stealer seems like a nice way to explain why the malkin is always healed no matter how wounded it was last time you fought it, since as a full round that provokes action, it won't see a lot of use during a fight that's still going on.

As for it's motivations and use in the game, it seems like a bit of a powerhouse to use to go after people who abuse animals. An adventure investigating murders of animal abusers sounds more like a low level one, and CR 8 is outside of that range. Also, many good characters might find out why victims are being killed and/or messed with and just say "sounds like they're getting what they deserve, go Team Malkin!" Sure you could simply use them as malicious in general because they're evil fey, but then you make them like any other "it's bad because it's evil - that's all you need to know about it" monster.

I mostly share Neil's concerns. Honestly, I'm not going to use a breath-stealing kitty as an end boss, so the party would have to be 6th level or above by the time a CR 8 critter sees any use. But unless we're stuck back in Forgotten Realms in which every random NPC is 30th level, by 6th level we're dealing with major adventurers who don't have or care about house pets. And you can't sic this thing on an NPC they care about, because a CR 8 monster will wipe out any number of low-level NPCs with impunity, before the PCs can ever have a chance to intervene.

To make this thing really work, you'd want some kind of mystery -- why is everyone so fatigued? -- followed by a tough fight. Much like the segment from Stephen King's Cat's Eye, back in the '80s. To that end, a CR 4 or so monster works really well. I think if you scaled all its abilities WAY back and entered it at that CR, you'd have a very strong entry.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

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Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
I like the name -- though a search for malkin brings up LOTS of Michelle Malkin hits, so I'm tempted to ding you for that.
Kiel Howell wrote:
The name is serviceable. I'm thinking it is using the root "mal" for bad and kin making this some sort of bad band of things.

I assumed it was more of a play on "graymalkin" which even from Shakespeare's Macbeth was meant to be a gray cat. In British dialect, malkin generally means a "cat," though it's also a less complimentary term for a woman that sleeps around a lot.

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

Good point Neil. Words are fun!

Dark Archive

I read the introductory description, and was excited by this. Then I read the abilities, and found myself disappointed, as I think this overdoes the sleep effects. I love breath stealer, and can understand the spell-like abilities, but the rest seems like overkill. Instead, I would have liked to see your word count go towards some sort of concealed casting, to prevent anyone observing the Malkin from thinking it was more than just the family pet. I could also see this having some sort of hypnotic purr, which would give the target/those within range a penalty to their save(s) against sleep. I think you have a good concept, but were just a little overzealous with the execution. A big part of designing anything creative is knowing when to stop, and I think you slightly overstepped this point. That said, I wish you luck!

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.

Name is serviceable. I'm good with archaic names for things.

Description feels a bit bland. And to me it reads as a bipedal creature, with "humanoid" and "hands" referenced explicitly, so I hope that's the intent.

Skipping ahead. That's just too many sleep-inducing and fatiguing abilities. I like tight themes, but you gotta spread it around inside that theme too. I'd pull both the at will abilities and Lethargy too. Doubling its hp via breath stealer does seem excessive.

I like the folklore this is playing with. And so the breath stealing is the core mechanic here to me. I get how you go from that to needing it to put people to sleep, but I think there's just too much of that.

The other factor here is that there's nothing less interesting to a player than having their character totally incapacitated. This could do that to several players at once. Around a table, they'll start looking at the clock on the wall...

I almost think it might be better to not have any sleep abilities at all, just the breath stealing and maybe lethargy scratches. Then it becomes a stealthy creature that sneaks up at night and wakes you with your breath half gone. Then it fatigues you, escapes with dimension door, and you're looking at every cat in the city with suspicious eyes for the next month.

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 It’s a cat monster, so malkin works fine.
Gimmick It’s a play on cats smothering infants, presumably. Ok, I can work with that. Seems like a lower CR monster than presented.
Description It’s a cat-person that turns into a cat and steals people’s breath.
Usefulness If the party wakes up, or finds this thing murdering an NPC, I guess they’ll have an encounter. It seems like it’ll be more obnoxious than threatening, but sometimes that’s ok. I can’t imagine using it more than once.
New abilities Save DCs are high, and powers are super dangerous. Doing Con damage, and then using that to put more people to sleep, and then doing more Con damage. They fit very well thematically, but seem a little high on the power curve.
The rest Skills and feats seem fine. I’m not a huge fan of the spread of spell-like abilities. Ray of enfeeblement seems especially out of place. And how many ways to make people sleep does one creature need? It has 2 spell-like abilities and a breath weapon.

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

Not really the grimalkin I would like to see - this malkin doesn't wow me very much from the description to the soporificalness. The Golarion tie in feels tacked on.

I do like the shape change factor, but I would have like to see these more as scheming controllers that moody fey that toy with their victims - with such great Intelligence and Wisdom and more importantly Charisma, coupled with the high Knowledge skills and humanoid shapechanging I could see cult leaders and movers and shakers - there is some intrigue alluded to, but that is all.

Where the tatterghoul (for example) exemplifies it's source this creature doesn't really draw on the acts of cruelty to animals or people that it details being the manifestation of.

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

John Leclaire wrote:

This stunted creature is a disturbing combination of cat and humanoid with its thick coat of tabby brown fur, clawed hands, and large feline eyes.

Malkin CR 8

Hi John,

Cool a cat-shaped fey (& a shapeshifter too :)
Creative: +- I like the non-humanoid fey, the breath stealing goes to an uncommon cat-myth (thanks Mulder & Scully). Sopoforic breath is a nice way to turn the party resources on them, though HP & even Con are not a resource my PCs are likely to notice until they are at zero.
Useable: -+ not in combat, once my PCs decide it needs to go down it will. If they do not decide it needs to go down before they are all asleep that is. Can only steal breath from a helpless target, and it needs the stolen breath to make party helpless... did I get that correct? SLA will have to drop everyone (ending the encounter) or the party ingores its abilities for the rest of the encounter.
Memorable: -+ a great addition to ambushing PC camp, but not much else.
Voting: Not likely, sorry

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

John, congrats on getting into the top 16!

What I like: If you asked me before I read this, I could swear there was already a grimalkin-type monster in Pathfinder just because it's so obvious there SHOULD be. But yet, there isn't, and so you found a classic mythical creature concept to build upon, tying in equally classic ideas like breath stealing.

What I struggle with: Stat-ifying a real world myth into a monster has the downside that you have to not just fill that niche, but still make it stand out as a monster exemplary of your particular unique vision and creativity. This is a solid build but for lack of better description, it just doesn't POP. There's not a lot here that makes me want to choose this, say, as a nemesis or challenge in an adventure. I want a little more motivation for the creature--there's a seed there in terms of avenging cruelty to animals, but it doesn't quite get there.

The lethargy ability could have been simplified as a touch attack that fatigues the target. As written, your "curse" seems to go away on its own in 24 hours, which I don't think curses normally do.

Your ability saving throw DCs are quite high for a CR 8 monster.

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. Fey is a more than sensible choice for the idea of course, although based on its concept it could have also been a magical beast or evil outsider.

Final Thoughts: If this concept were tightened and a little lower CR, it would be an awesome Improved Familiar for an evil witch (also befitting its inspirational source material). A lot of potential here, just missing a little pizzazz. Good luck.

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 though to Round 3! Here’s what I’m looking for in a monster.

Does it make sense as something that could really exist? A Malkin is ripe for all kinds of folklore and urban legends to erupt around one’s presence. It draws the fortitude out of it’s victims and so is also a type of vampire that isn’t undead. Its abilities serve it in its preferred method of hunting. I like it.

Are the abilities exciting to run? It has a nice combination of abilities that will have players wondering what it’s going to be hitting them with next.

Does it spark ideas for use in an adventure? This would be a fun creature to plague a party with, and I can think of numerous ways to do it. You provide some examples in the descriptive text, but I think the wording of that text could have been more engaging. It reads more like “this is how you can use this monster” instead of breathing a rich ecology into them.

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

R Pickard wrote:

John, congrats on getting into the top 16!

What I like: If you asked me before I read this, I could swear there was already a grimalkin-type monster in Pathfinder just because it's so obvious there SHOULD be. But yet, there isn't, and so you found a classic mythical creature concept to build upon, tying in equally classic ideas like breath stealing.

I thought so too, but the closest I could find was a Graymalkin Academy in one of the later Dungeon issues. :)

There's a "grimalkin" in the 3.0 Monster Manual II, I think.
It's an empathic housecat that can polymorph into more dangerous animals.

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

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Sorry for posting this after the voting ended on this round. Life was more than hectic these last few days.

A sneak attacking cat that makes you sleep.

Through no fault of your own you are starting on a bad foot with me here. I had my favorite PFRPG character almost die to a cat-like creature who alternated Deep Slumber and Coup de Grace in a quite unbalanced way. So, I will be extremely attentive to your creature's overall balance.

- Name is appropriate for a fey cat-like creature.

- Description is not quite coherent. I see nothing disturbing in what you depict there. Actually, it sounds cuter and more normal-looking than many PCs I know.

- A bit too many SLAs for my taste. Though they fit the theme, I feel that they lay it a bit thick, especially when compounded with the new abilities. I agree completely with pursuing a theme, but you should aim for keeping it concise too so that your creation does not lose focus. I think that too much of a thing (say here Sleep and similar effects) can become easily complicated for the GM (all these abilities to keep track of and that end up doing similar things) and tedious to the players (Yaaawn).

- I like the feats. Improved Initiative being here makes sense as the other feats clearly show that this is a fast creature.

- Breath Stealer : I like the gist of this ability, but it is too restricted in when you can use it AND too powerful in that specific set of circumstances. This is exactly the kind of ability where a PC can do nothing about his own fate for several rounds except hoping for a good save roll. Frustrating and not in a good way.

- Lethargy is rather strong as it can be done again and again.

- Soporific Breath is nice, though it is likely the straw that breaks the camel's back as far as sleep/fatigue/weakness effects are concerned. I feel also that linking it with Breath Stealer makes it uselessly clunky.

- The very last part of the description (bloody murder while sleepwalking) opens nice hooks, but I would have liked some crunch that accompanies it, for example an ability to dominate sleeping targets and use them as puppets.

All in all, this monster feels too restricted and mono-dimensional in its abilities. I think it could have used more varied powers while still being true to its theme.

There's a greymalkin in the Iconic Bestiary by Ronin Arts.

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