Hollow One – 594 Words


Round 3: Create a Bestiary entry

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8 aka WalterGM

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This slender biped appears constructed from polished animal bone and intricately carved wood. Its head is crowned with dozens of antlers, and a totemic mask is lashed to its face with strips of sinew. Its wicked claws carry a blood-stained sack.

Hollow One CR 9
XP 6,400
CE Large outsider (chaotic, evil, native)
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +19
Aura fear aura (5 ft., DC 20, 1d6 rounds)

----- Defense -----
AC 24, touch 12, flat-footed 21 (+3 Dex, +12 natural, -1 size)
hp 114 (12d10+48)
Fort +12 Ref +7, Will +12
DR 10/cold iron; Immune fire, poison; Resist acid 10, cold 10; SR 20

----- Offense -----
Speed 40 ft., climb 20 ft.
Melee 2 claws +17 (2d6+6/19-20 plus grab)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks disemboweling critical (DC 22), remove heart, rend (2 claws, 2d6+9)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 12th; concentration +17)
Constant—pass without trace, speak with animals
At will—atavism (DC 19), call animal, dominate animal (DC 18), transport via plants (self plus 50 lbs. of objects only)
3/day—quickened dominate animal (DC 18), snare, spike stones
1/day—summon (level 4, 1 quickwood, 35%)

----- Statistics -----
Str 23, Dex 16, Con 19, Int 17, Wis 18, Cha 20
Base Atk +12; CMB +19 (+23 grapple); CMD 32
Feats Blind-Fight, Improved Critical (claw), Improved Initiative, Power Attack, Quicken Spell-Like Ability (dominate animal), Vital Strike
Skills Bluff +20, Craft (trapmaking) +18, Handle Animal +20, Knowledge (nature) +18, Perception +19, Sense Motive +19, Spellcraft +18, Stealth +14, Survival +19; Racial Modifiers +8 Stealth in forests
Languages Common, Druidic, Sylvan
SQ woodland stride

----- Ecology -----
Environment any forest
Organization solitary or haunt (2-5)
Treasure standard

----- Special Abilities -----
Disemboweling Critical (Ex) Whenever a hollow one confirms a critical hit against an opponent with its claw attack, the target must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 22) or take 1d4 points of Constitution damage as one of its vital organs is ripped from its body. The save is Strength-based.
Remove Heart (Ex) Once a hollow one has pinned a foe it can attempt to rip the creature’s still-beating heart from its chest. This attempt is made as part of the grapple check to maintain an existing pin, and if successful, deals 4d6+12 points of damage to the target. If this damage is enough to bring the creature to fewer than 0 hit points, it must succeed at a DC 22 Fortitude save or have its heart removed; this instantly kills most creatures. The save is Strength-based.
Woodland Stride (Ex) As the druid ability of the same name.

Originally created by Curchanus as both shepherds and stewards for his many animals, hollow ones were quickly corrupted by Lamashtu—their true name and purpose long abandoned. Once capable of placating animals and ensuring harmony between man and nature, hollow ones now exist as a twisted irony, tormenting and slaughtering any who dare wander their woods.

Hollow ones stalk their prey from afar, harassing their targets for days or even weeks at a time. Only once their quarries are exhausted from unprovoked animal attacks and waylaid by snares and traps will a hollow one make itself known, attacking with a company of feral beasts.

Those that flee are the fortunate ones, as those that remain are subjected to the hollow one’s curious and horrific practice of harvesting organs from sentient creatures. What hollow ones do with these macabre collections remains a mystery, but it is agreed that they are not used for consumption, for the most prolific hollow ones carry multiple sacks, each stuffed with rotting flesh.

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!

• Nice descriptive text. I get a clear idea of what this thing looks like and I want to know more. If anything, it’s a bit long and would probably be trimmed down in development.

• Interesting choice keeping the fear aura to adjacent squares.

• All of the relevant numbers for Table 1–1 are on the mark or only a point over or under. The damage output is a little low, though (which typically isn’t an issue for a monster that’s not a frontline bruiser). Rend, grab, and the increased threat range probably helps make up for this, so good call.

• Interesting that they speak Druidic.

• Disemboweling critical is a neat ability, and the wording is mostly standardized language.

• Include “DC” after save in the last sentence. (The save DC is Strength-based.)

• Remove heart is cool and pretty nasty. Good visuals too. As someone who had a character recently killed by having her organs ripped from her body, I approve.

• Woodland stride makes good sense for this monster.

• Nice connection to Curchanus (and later Lamashtu). A lot of times I don't like the “made by a god” angle, but this time it works for me for some reason. The flavor text is nice and it gives the GM a good idea of how to best use these monsters in not only an encounter, but in a larger adventure as a long-term antagonist.

• Native outsider is an interesting choice for creature type. Without the connection to Curchanus I would have thought it to be the wrong call, but your flavor text justified it to me.

This submission was well done and has some good flavor. I do recommend this designer advance to the next round.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Walter! 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 Hollow One. Sounds appropriately creepy. By the name alone, it could be an undead, a plant, an aberration, or...hmmm, a native outsider. I recall you asking if native outsiders would be within the rules. I believe they are, because that ties them firmly to Golarion rather than an outer plane. The backstory for your Hollow One makes sense, as well. So, you took a risk, and it paid off.

Now, let's examine your creativity in describing and explaining what your monster is all about. "This slender biped appears constructed from polished animal bone and intricately carved wood. Its head is crowned with dozens of antlers, and a totemic mask is lashed to its face with strips of sinew. Its wicked claws carry a blood-stained sack." Hmmm. I am not a fan of the run-on, multi-sentence read-aloud text. It should usually be one sentence. Two at the most, and if so, keep them short. Your description gives a sufficient mental image for the creature, but I'd slice this up and re-word it in development, for sure. Beyond that, the Curchanus/Lamashtu corruption angle is a very creative, Golarion-appropriate bit of flavor to use in defining this creature. The animal angle works, and the special abilities certainly resonate with the butchery of victims while treading the line as closely as possible to the squick factor. Personally, I'm not as big a fan of that as I know others will be, but there's certainly an audience for it.

So, what about the mechanics? In the interests of time, I didn't try to number-crunch everything, but you look pretty solid. The AC, saves, hit points, and attack bonuses are spot-on for a CR 9 creature, though the DR 10/cold iron may give it longer staying power than normal. The damage curve is also a little low, but gets pumped up with grab and rend if the fight turns really nasty. And, quite honestly, it's more about the Constitution damage from the disemboweling critical and the nastier grapple/pin/remove heart that's the real scare. And, in a pinch, it can even bring in an ally by summoning a quickwood. Or, if there are any animals nearby, it can quickly dominate them. Of course, I am a little curious as to why dominate animal appears twice in its spell-like abilities...once among the at-will and then again as a quickened version under 3/day. I assume that's a presentation error that didn't cleaned up when you were ruminating over whether to make it at-will or limited. I'm also a bit worried at how high the DC is for the special ability of remove heart. At DC 22, that's significantly higher than recommended for CR 9 (i.e., 18). Of course, it's got to grapple and pin to employ that ability, but that does seem to be this creature's angle, and the +23 CMB when grappling is likely an autosuccess to put a victim in that state. So, this might need revisiting and/or playtesting before I'd square it away.

Next up, the presentation. You got most of this right. You bolded, italicized, and alphabetized the right things and got everything in order, but you left off the “DC” in citing the Strength-based origin of the disembowerling critical. It's mostly a clean, professional job, though. So, you've done your homework on how to apply everything. That's a good sign.

Bottom Line: This monster design has strong core idea, ties it into Golarion in a very sensible way, and backs it up with some horrifying abilities that'll make for a memorable experience at the game table. So, for now, I'll say that I DO RECOMMEND this designer to 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.

Though you’ve written a good, creepy description, I’m not certain what makes them hollow. Do they not have organs, and that makes them want to harvest those of others? Are they hollow because they don’t have souls? Is it a Dark Souls reference?

The remove heart ability makes me shudder, but in a good way. It’s the sort of thing I want to inflict on PCs, but rarely get the chance, because the heroes always kill the monster first! Otherwise, I don’t see anything mechanically amiss with this entry.

In the end, I weakly recommend that this designer move on to the next round.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Champion Voter Season 6, Champion Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Champion Voter Season 9

So this is how the Forsworn Briarhearts in Skyrim came about! One of these bad boys went around ripping their hearts out. Or getting the hearts to create them...

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

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Even though my Kingmaker campaign is on the last AP volume, yeah, I'm going to have to throw one some templates or class levels on this monster and send a bunch of them after the PCs. Love the imagery and the feel of this one- kind of like a lower-CR wendigo (a nice monster but at its CR, more than likely won't get as used as a hollow one). Nice 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

Neil Spicer wrote:
Of course, I am a little curious as to why dominate animal appears twice in its spell-like abilities...once among the at-will and then again as a quickened version under 3/day. I assume that's a presentation error that didn't cleaned up when you were ruminating over whether to make it at-will or limited.

I think it factors in the different uses -- it can dominate animals all day long, but only 3/day use the quickened version. Whether it needs the different versions is up for debate, I think*, but it felt like an intentional decision to me.

* Is it likely to use the ability even 3/day? Though I guess if it's being used to force animals to harass PCs, maybe so (that way you could have a dozen animals attack, really letting players get the idea something's up and it's not just a random encounter with a bear that crossed their paths).


Creepy. I find myself wondering whether they always looked like this, or if their appearance was corrupted, as well.

I'm not sold on the name, maybe because I've seen it used many other times for other things. What makes it hollow? I'm thinking something punchier, maybe playing off the shepherd concept. Hollow shepherd? Unhallowed shepherd?

Regarding:

Quote:


Disemboweling Critical (Ex) Whenever a hollow one confirms a critical hit against an opponent with its claw attack, the target must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 22) or take 1d4 points of Constitution damage as one of its vital organs is ripped from its body. The save is Strength-based.

I'd clip off the rest of the sentence after 1d4 points of Constitution damage. If you take Con damage and live, which organ was ripped off?

Immune to fire? Maybe that has some tie-in to lore that isn't obvious to me.

Overall, very appealing.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Amanuensis

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Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
Neil Spicer wrote:
Of course, I am a little curious as to why dominate animal appears twice in its spell-like abilities...once among the at-will and then again as a quickened version under 3/day. I assume that's a presentation error that didn't cleaned up when you were ruminating over whether to make it at-will or limited.

I think it factors in the different uses -- it can dominate animals all day long, but only 3/day use the quickened version. Whether it needs the different versions is up for debate, I think*, but it felt like an intentional decision to me.

* Is it likely to use the ability even 3/day? Though I guess if it's being used to force animals to harass PCs, maybe so (that way you could have a dozen animals attack, really letting players get the idea something's up and it's not just a random encounter with a bear that crossed their paths).

I don't think it is a presentation error.

There are several examples for monsters with the Quicken Spell-like Ability feat in the Bestiary (Efreeti, Balor, Pit Find), and they all follow the same format (spell-like ability at will, quickened SLA 3/day).

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Gabriel Almer wrote:

I don't think it is a presentation error.

There are several examples for monsters with the Quicken Spell-like Ability feat in the Bestiary (Efreeti, Balor, Pit Find), and they all follow the same format (spell-like ability at will, quickened SLA 3/day).

Ahhh...you're quite right. That's the effect of Quicken Spell-Like Ability. It takes an existing SLA and grants it as a quickened version of itself, but only at 3 times/day. It struck me as odd, so I commented on it, but the design is accurate. I retract that statement. So, voters please disregard that comment.

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

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Jason Keeley wrote:
Is it a Dark Souls reference?

If it is, it's a poor one. I don't see anything in common with that game's Hollowed. More likely, it refers to the implicit suggestion that there's nothing inside the creature's structure, and it likely harvests others' organs to fill itself in some mocking way.

--

Ninja'd by Gabriel re: quickened.

--

This is vying for my fourth vote as it's the most natural-feeling original creation of the batch. I can see locals telling stories about this thing to kids near pretty much any forest in the Inner Sea region; it sounds like it came from a lost Brothers Grimm story while still integrating well with Golarion's lore.

The primary things holding me back are the organ-ripping abilities, namely the idea that losing a "vital organ" is only worth 1d4 Con. Disembowling Critical should either describe something less drastic or have a much more potent effect; better yet, it could steal from the optional vital debilitating blow's rule for disembowelment (difficult-to-heal Con bleed).

Save-or-die effects are divisive, and I think Neil's on the right track: the DC is high and it can get in position to do this a little too easily. This creature is also pretty clearly geared toward fighting humanoids. (How would it rip the heart or organs out of an ooze? An incorporeal undead? A swarm? A robot?) Those concerns are easy to fix or ignore, though.


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 second monster entry I've seen.

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

The basic stats seem right within the range for a CR 9 monster. Straight-up claw damage is low, but since average damage assumes all attacks hit, then the rend damage brings it up right where it should be. Low-end save is slightly low, but with the SR that's not a concern.

I dig the name. It has an immediately creepy vibe, which is reinforced by the creature's description. This is definitely one of those monsters that gives players a "What the hell is that?!" moment. I like those.

Abilities are nasty, but fit the theme and make this thing truly scary. It's fast, it hurts, and a party caught unawares could have a fatality very quickly if they're not careful. A fight with this thing could be a real nail-biter, and that's okay with me.

I love the history and background of this monster, especially getting a brief but informative tactical overview on how one would interact with potential victims. I could easily place one of these as a random encounter or quick substitute for an existing encounter with very little work on my part.

All in all, I really like this creature. I still have thirteen more to read through, but this thing has a cool factor to it that makes me think it will be one of the monsters fighting for one of my precious few votes. Good job, and good luck to you.

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

I like the description; I can get a good visual of the monster, though maybe it goes on a touch too long.

I'm not crazy about the name; I actually thought it sounded really similar to a previous monster, but I think I was thinking of the Abandoned Ones from a few seasons back.

I think the first part of the write-up is solid. I get an idea where these things came from and how to use them as a GM. I'm not crazy about the final paragraph, though. So I know they have a sack of these grisly trophies -- but then as a GM I'm stuck. What *do* they do with them? Are they just trophies? Do they use them to fill their own hollow bodies? Of course, that brings me back to the name -- I don't really know that they are in fact hollow, just that they hollow other creatures out. I'm tempted to say they should in fact be called Hollowers (though that could just be because I'm reading Peter Brett's latest book so that word is on my mind).

Looking at the stats...
Don't we need more information on the fear aura? Per the fear aura listing in the UMR: "Fear Aura (Su) The use of this ability is a free action. The aura can freeze an opponent (as in the case of a mummy's despair) or function like the fear spell. Other effects are possible. A fear aura is an area effect. The descriptive text gives the size and kind of the area." I'm guessing word count constrained you here; maybe frightful presence may have been a better choice? Truthfully, I'm not sure it adds that much to the monster, considering it's only a 5-ft. radius; it just doesn't feel quite as thematic to me.

I like the spell choices, especially atavism. It really gives a lot of potential to use this monster at a wide range of DRs, as you can simply up the number of animals -- and make them more dangerous -- to boost the total encounter's CR.

Which brings us to the special abilities. Disemboweling critical's got great color (probably a bloody crimson, to be specific). I think my PCs would totally remember something that ripped out their gizzard (or -- if you're being really mean -- take out the drunken master's liver; on the other hand, roll a 1 for the amount of Con damage? You've only lost your appendix). I think Con damage fits the bill, though I do also really like Garrett's idea of the optional vital debilitating blow rule.

Remove heart doesn't work quite as well for me, though. I think the problem is the damage isn't that great, which means most of the time it tries to remove the heart it's probably failing. I think I'd rather have seen this as a coup de grace attempt or something along those lines.

All in all, though, a solid monster.

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

Hollow One
How I’m rating monsters:
Creativity: does this seem innovative and original or does this seem contrived? How is the description?
Points for description, points for going outsider despite people’s unfounded fears of it being a DQ, and points for making it creepy as hell 10/10
Marketability: are the choices you made smart and marketable to a voting public? Does the name pop?
Cool name? Check. Badass backstory? Check. Evil druid vibe check and mate from a marketability standpoint 10/10
Trade craft: did you format correctly and scale correct to Paizo standards?
Formatting and balance seem fine 8/10
Encounter worthy: as a GM is this easy to use and reuse?
It holds up with a lot of abilities normally used by PCs and can deliver some serious hurt. This monster is an instant classic for me. 8/10
9 out of 10: This is one of my votes for sure
Good luck.

Dedicated Voter Season 9

You hit the ball out of the park this round; design, style, execution 3/3. I voted for you ;).

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

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

Name feels pretty generic, though it does give me ideas about what to expect.

The description is nice, makes me want to see the illustration.

The spell-like abilities along with the description give me a clearer idea of where this is going, but that vision just makes the name feel wrong.

Bluff seems a bit of an odd choice.

Special ability names are functional, if not exciting. And while disemboweling and remove heart seem thematically linked, I'm wondering how that ties into the more druidic things we saw earlier.

The plural "quarries" seems odd there, I think the singular would have worked fine. Very minor personal preference, though.

Ok, after the text I have a clear idea of what these are supposed to be, sort of feral and animalistic. For me then, the big mistake of this monster is the name, which doesn't convey that at all.

Overall though, I think there's an absolutely terrifying encounter with this thing in the hands of a good GM. Stalked by a feral but intelligent creature that enjoys the hunt, punctuated by moments of extreme gut-ripping violence.


I was skeptical that this would be another walking list of combat stats, but you've tied together enough thematic stuff that the whole package seems to work. Nice job, Walter.

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?

Hollow One

The name is intriguing enough to make me want to read on. I expect an outsider or construct of some sort.

Commit to description! It is, not appears to be! You also presume an action. Otherwise it is serviceable.

Yep outsider!

Senses and such look good.

Hmm...base fear aura can work just doesn't feel superstar at the moment.

Defense looks good.

Offense looks good but its melee seems a bit generic.

Disembowling critical seems way underwhelming in mechanics compared to its description. Why not just impaling critical or something that already exists.

Remove heart should be a CdG, much like the guillowed's summoned guillotine. It doesn't make sense to rip out a heart and the PC doesn't die shortly thereafter. Not sure I like the way this is presented and while I see what you are doing with a powerful attack that has the potential to rip out a heart...it would work better the way the guillowed does it.

Rend makes sense.

Spells seem fine. Except atavism is a 4th level druid spell...I don't see that should be an at will. Without checking the rest, be careful on these. At will is powerful to give high level (for its CR) spells.

Stats look good feats look good.

Skills are nice and flavorful and good languages.

Woodland stride, I'm not sure if you needed to call it out in the special abilities section since it literally is the druid ability.

Descriptive text is good.

Overall this is in the middle for me. It's got some great images but your mechanical execution is kind of all over the place and the abilities kind of don't make sense between fluff and mechanics.


To follow up, this is my favorite entry this round, but with two reservations: the monster's name is really trite and cliched. I also have to echo Garrett's comment that 1d4 Con damage doesn't scream "losing a vital organ". Fix those, though, and you've maybe got a winner.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
To follow up, this is my favorite entry this round, but with two reservations: the monster's name is really trite and cliched. I also have to echo Garrett's comment that 1d4 Con damage doesn't scream "losing a vital organ". Fix those, though, and you've maybe got a winner.

Those are things that can be fixed in development. However, this is a contest, so avoidable problems aren't the kind you want to have.

I like this critter. It reminds me of the creatures at the end of Time Bandits, and the terrors from The Village.

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.

This monster is inspiring, terrifying and almost flawlessly executed.

Just a few nitpicks though :

- "Constructed" in the descriptive line had me expecting a construct, which it is not.

- Why Hollow One ? I felt like this was already the name of some monster out there. And it seems to allude to abilities that are just not present in the monster stat block, nor described in the accompanying text.

- The DR and other defensive abilities seem right for its CR. I like that it is almost a demon without actually being one, like a synthesis between demon and fey. Well done and risk-taking due to it being an outsider as it was skirting very close to the "native to Golarion" rule. This kind of risk-taking is a great point in my book for any designer. And you pulled it off perfectly, mostly thanks to the blurb explaining its origin. It is spot on and merges very well with the stat block.

- I had some trouble at first with all the SLAs, especially the ones for obscure spells (atavism), where I would have liked a link to the PRD. Thankfully the description you gave of its hunting habits explained it nicely.

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

- I like that it speaks Druidic, as it makes perfect sense thanks again to its origin story. You really did an awesome job there and in this specific point you show an attention to detail I appreciate.

- Why link the 1d4 CON damage to having a vital organ ripped from the body ? It adds nothing IMO and breaks the wall between crunch and fluff, which usually is a strong recipe for heated arguments at the game table.

- The wording of Remove Heart could be polished a bit further as how the damage relates to the grapple check is not completely clear.

- I believe the correct wording is "The save DC is Strength-based" ;-)

All in all, this is a great, if a bit complicated monster (because of all the SLAs), made awesome by its origin as reflected in both the stat block and the text. It is definitely on my Keep list :-)

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

Dark Archive

I went back and forth with my fourth vote, and finally settled on this. I agree that the name seems a little off, as the description doesn't particularly explain it. I also would rather see remove heart be a CdG. Other than that, this is a tight design, and the descriptive text that is there is well written. I would love to see how an encounter with a Hollow One played out! I think it would be memorable for all involved, and the PCs would have fun finally bringing this thing down.
Good luck, and I look forward to seeing what you bring us in the next round!

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

Hollow One
Name It’s an evocative name, and makes me think it’s going to be missing something (organs? A soul?).
Gimmick It wants to steal your organs. Presumably because it hates you. And likes your organs.
Description It’s skinny, it steals organs and stuffs them in a sack. It’s well-written, but makes me think of other monsters. There’s a similar monster in the old Iron Kingdoms monster book (not that I expect you to know that).
Usefulness People do hate when their insides end up on the outside, so it’s pretty reasonable to use this in just about any encounter. It’s smart enough to act as a mastermind, sending animals to attack in its stead. It would be a reasonable subject for a short side quest.
New abilities Disemboweling critical is cool, but I’m not a big fan of save or die powers like heart ripper. It fits great thematically, and isn’t too deadly, but I’m still not a fan.
The rest The stats match the guidelines fine. Improved Critical is a waste of a feat on a monster, you can just note that it has an expanded threat range. It’s a cool monster with great visuals.

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

On the surface, this is one of my favourite entries - the visual description is one of the strongest.

I'm very disappointed that the abilities don't do very much exciting - the organ ripping is understated if not downright incorrect, and the rest is pedestrian.

What I can see immediately is a Hollow creature that rips things from inside other creatures. Why isn't it placing said organs inside itself? It is Hollow after all...That would also give it much more thematic reason to bodychop and allow it to gain cool and various powers - based on the stolen organ perhaps. Ok, so not all combatants HAVE those organs, but still...

I'm just not feeling the sack - feels a little olde-worldy giants, faeries and redcaps.

Also given that it has been perverted by Lamashtu, the Mother of Monsters I'd much rather see the Hollow One perpetrating unspeakable acts against animals, eviscerating them, building bizarre sculptures out of their anatomy etc.in an attempt to provide obeisance to their patron goddess - however mindless or barbaric you see them as being - which to point out another thing - these things are genius level - 17 Int and 18 Wis and 20 Cha and they are carrying a bloody sack around?

Too many disconnects here irk me, but the core theme is solid - I just wish the design path followed it a little more. Or perhaps I just wish it followed the theme the way I see it. ;) Nice work all the same Walter.

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

The read aloud description text may be a bit long, but I don't mind because I immediately liked (and was created out by) this. You may want to keep it shorter for people who aren't quite as into this aesthetic as I am. I guess. ;)

Your hollow one scores major points with me; I love the corrupted nature shepherd origin, there's plenty of different encounters this could make happen with plenty of info in the longer description about how to make those happen, and overall this is a truly frightening creature to have to encounter.

There are a few issues. The name is creepy and fitting, but like Jason it makes me think of Dark Souls. Which isn't a bad thing, since you don't necessarily know that, but I feel like I've heard names similar to this in a lot of places. I think I'd like to see a name that reflected what it is or does better, if you could land on one that was as appropriately creepy as the current one.

My other main issue is with wording in Disemboweling Critical and Remove Heart. Other people have already pointed out the issue with Disemboweling Critical doing a relatively small amount of Con damage, which doesn't jive well with the image of literally losing a vital organ. But it also looks even stranger alongside Heart Ripper! First of all, let me say that I like this ability, despite not usually going for instant death effects, because the hollow one has to bring you below 0 hp to do it and you get a fort save even if it is a difficult one. And the imagery of ripping out someone's heart to put in a bloody sack is great! But the reason that these abilities look weird next to each other is that Heart Ripper kills you because of the icon of the heart. Your liver or lungs are just as vital, but "Liver Ripper" isn't as narratively impressive. Weirdly, it's the weighty symbolism of the heart that kills you, which means that it's also what keeps you alive more than other just as important organs?

I'm getting a bit too far into literary analysis rather than design critique I think, so I'll end there. Those are my only real issues with this otherwise very impressive entry. 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

Overall, a pretty good solid monster. I especially like the druidic flavor and abilities, as those are rarely used by monsters, especially non-fey. I can see this being a fun threat to run, and the ability to have a posse of dominated animals (not to mention stealing PCs animal companions and mounts) make this a multi-dimensional threat, not simply an ambush predator.

I thought that the name was a bit odd without any explanation of what makes them hollow. The stealing organs seems to fit, but you drop the ball with "no one knows why they steal them". I'd rather have had at least flavor text if not an actual ability of how they use the stolen hearts to do something - buff themselves, use them in rituals to create other types of monsters, etc.

Another thought I had reading it was the odd similarity with the pteryton, which is also antlered and steals hearts. Not saying there's anything wrong with this, but somewhat odd parallel development. If it was conscious, then a reference to their relationship is in order. Also a bit odd that it doesn't have a gore attack since it has antlers.

For now this has my last vote, but while I liked the monster overall, and it works on multiple levels, there wasn't something that was amazing and new that makes this a lock.

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

Walter, congrats on getting into the top 16!

What I like: While "protector of the forest" is a common theme, I love your twisted take on it, especially with the background flavor of being a holy creature corrupted by Lamashtu. This could be a truly terrifying thing the PCs encounter.

What I struggle with: I wish you extrapolated upon its current relationship with animals--it has a lot of animal-control abilities, but does it hunt and mutilate them as well, or in a mockery of its original shepherd role does it collect hunting packs to help it fight? I kind of hope the latter, but wish you had clarified 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)? Nope! And it's a native outsider which I love and suits both your theme perfectly and is very usable in Golarion.

Final Thoughts: Fun, nasty, creepy monster that is challenging but not broken.

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? There are unanswered questions about the what and why of this creature, but by calling out the mystery of it you diffuse any criticism that could be leveled. Having them be outsiders while their purpose was originally so intertwined with the mortal plane is a bit puzzling.

Are the abilities exciting to run? The abilities are on theme with the origin and purpose of the creature. They’re also terrifying. This thing is brutally efficient and that’s a good thing. I wonder if the Constitution damage should be drain instead. I mean, would a day of bed rest help heal a missing kidney?

Does it spark ideas for use in an adventure? I’d be eager to include one or more of these in an encounter, so spending some time thinking up ways to use them would be a welcome task.

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8 aka WalterGM

Hi guys! Thanks for all the C&C on my monster! This was the second critter I made for RPGSS this year and I ended up liking it a lot more than the first. Really glad I went with it instead of my other design.

Background: I was inspired by this picture of a rune golem. I really liked the imagery of an evil creature that haunted woods, stalking people Blair Witch style and doing something disturbing with their bodies. I also love telling people about the Curchanus / Lamashtu connection, so I wanted to make a creature that worked off of that as well. Having a corrupted servant of a dead god that was originally designed to promote harmony between man and beast but now sows content between them is where I started, and I wanted to steer clear of territory already covered with the swaithe (Inner Sea Gods). Since the swaithe deals with livestock, I decided I could combine my evil forest monster with the Curchanus connection if I had it deal with wild animals instead.

Name: So I honestly spent most of the last day before submission trying to wrangle a better name for this monster (about 5 hours). Initially, my creature was more flora-themed and was called a Mourn Strider. Through revisions, the name bounced from mourn strider to Grove Tender, Grove Guardian, and others. But once I got into the lore of Curchanus more and more, I realized that it should be more fauna-themed, which required a less “planty” name. Hollowed came up, and I liked it—the idea being that its victims are hollowed out and that it’s existence is also hollow. But my friend pointed out that the name could be confused with hallowed, so I switched it to Hollow One. I’ve never played Dark Souls, so I was unware of the reference there. The only thing that came up on my Google search was that some of the greater mummies in Diablo 2 are called Hollow Ones in the later levels. But since no one picked up on that, I guess no one really plays that game any more. Ultimately, I’m not 100% happy with name “Hollow One”, but I just couldn’t come up with anything better before the deadline =/ Fortunately, I am very happy with the mechanics and descriptive text, so that’s good! :)

Creature Type: Why isn’t this a fey? Because a lot of the servants of deities are outsiders (using ISG as my reference point for this claim) and this originally was created to serve Curchanus. I also liked the HD size, saves, SLAs, and feats that you get with an outsider over a fey. Given its history, it also seemed to fit, and native definitely fit. I will say that I’m very glad that I wasn’t auto-DQ’d for making an outsider :)

Aura: 5 ft. aura of fear? So it started out as a larger aura, the idea being that only those with the strongest hearts would remain, which would be the people the creature would prefer to harvest from. But then I realized that the 30 ft. aura be too powerful, and 20 ft. is a weird distance, but 5 ft. already exists (Bone Devil, also CR 9). So I settled on 5 ft., the new concept being that when you are grabbed and brought adjacent to the Hollow One, you realize how “off” the creature really is and that’s when you get scared. Hence the fear aura.

Feats: I know that a lot of feats aren’t needed when making monsters (Improved Init, Crit, Toughness, etc), but I needed a couple fillers. Blind-Fight fit, given its hollow appearance and how a lot of Lamashtu’s critters are built. Quicken-SLA was needed, as was Vital Strike and Power Attack (stupid feat tax!). That left me with two holes. I wanted it to go quickly in combat, given its guerilla hit-and-run kind of tactics, more than the +3 Initiative would allow, and I didn’t want to increase it’s DEX without good reason. So Imp Init was added. I thought about giving it a higher threat on its claws without Improved Crit, but that seemed cheep. Its claws aren’t especially sharp, or sharper than regular claws, it just knows how to slice with them. Improved Crit seemed to fit that theme better than just arbitrarily increasing it’s threat range.

Disembowling Critical: This got some mixed reviews, specifically regarding the language of “vital organ” and the 1d4 Con damage. I really wanted this creature to mess people up on a crit or a rend. The rend was too frequent to have a brutal ability, so I settled on the critical. Looking at some other monsters, I didn’t see much for critical effects (except for a bird in Serpent’s Skull that has a vorpal beak!) so I looked into other sourcebooks. Demon Hunter’s Handbook has a pair of barbarian rage powers that are pretty brutal. The first lets you rip out an organ on a crit, the second lets you eat it as an action to heal some damage. Rather than invent some new language, I used the existing language for the first rage power as a template for my ability—both in the “vital organ” description and the 1d4 points of Con damage. I agree that Con drain would make more sense for the ability, but I was using existing Paizo material as a reference point, and thought keeping in line with that would be the wiser decision.

Remove Heart: So originally, I could only use this ability on helpless people and it was a full-round action. But then I was like “wait, I could just CDG a helpless target as a full-round action… this ability literally does nothing!” So I had to change it. I liked the idea of it grabbing someone, throwing them against a tree, and ripping out their heart. So I tried to make an ability that did that. And on the surface this ability as it is looks too good. But the language of “This attempt is made as part of the grapple check to maintain an existing pin” was my attempt to clarify that. So, with my understanding of rules, it would go down like this. Round 1: Attack+Grab or make a Grapple attempt. Round 2: move to pin, deal damage. Round 3: roll to maintain existing pin, Remove Heart. Similar to the sever-head ability of a Skull Ripper (Rise of the Runelords). Nothing too overpowered, as it’s not dealing the double claw+rend damage in the round leading up to the chance at insta-death, and it’s CR 9. So I’m pretty happy with it as is.

Atavism and other SLAs: Avatism is over the spell-level guidelines for monsters. But the spell is the exact ability I was looking for with this monster. It is also relatively weak for a 4th level spell, so I decided to make an exception. Also given the infrequency that it will actually be used against a party (only against people with animal companions, really), I didn’t see a problem making it an at-will ability. Quickening a 3rd-level spell, dominate animal? That was more risky. It should only be able to quicken a 2nd-level spell (again, following the guidelines in the Bestiary) but again, the spell is only going to be used infrequently against parties. Unlike a Bone Devil’s 3/day quickened invisibility, which will be used in every fight against PCs.

Descriptive Text: So why the hell does it collect organs!?!? There were lots of ways this was going in development. At first I thought they would gain some bonuses, like a Nabasu. Maybe heal some damage by eating them. Or they could steal some spells like certain ghouls can do when they eat brains (with the right feat). There were a lot of options available. All of them would have taken up precious design space and been subject to comments of “this is neat, but XYZ already does it.” Also, none of them screamed “that’s what this monster does!” to me. I don’t actually think it needs to eat hearts or anything so clichéd. So I decided to leave it vague. Given its forgotten original purpose, I think it takes on a sort of “no one knows why this creature does this, but it’s got some broken programming from it’s former God-creator, so that could explain it. Either way, it’s still a terrifying habit.”

If I had more text, I would have hinted at a sinister greater purpose. Something like “When their organ sacks are full, hollow ones will gather at secret places in the woods. They exchange little words, but are uniform in purpose as they hand their organs to one another and present them as dark offerings to the Mother of Monsters. What these rituals accomplish, if anything, has yet to be uncovered.” I still like leaving it vague, because it enables the GM to plug these in as needed to their campaign, allowing them to fill a variety of different roles.

I can easily see this monster being a session on its own, hunting the PCs for days as it attacks them with waves of random animals, leads them into traps, and interrupts their sleep with swarms of bats and other nocturnal beats. I could also see the hollow one being a PFS scenario on its own. Maybe one where the Pathfinder’s have to escort some NPCs through a forest the locals claim is haunted. Success conditions based off the number of surviving NPCs at the end of the scenario as this terrifying creature stalks them on their journey? I like it already :)

Anyway, I've rambled quite a bit. If you've got any more questions or comments about this, I'm happy to clarify as best I can. And I'll certainly be running this monster in any home games I GM :D


I don't agree with people who kvetch about Toughness and such for monsters. If anything, I think too many monsters have overly complex feat choices. Feats are a useful way to get creatures into the expected parameters, or alternatively, an excuse to go a little higher with an appropriate use of design resources. My advice is to ignore that kind of feedback.

As far as what it does with the collected body parts, my thought would be that they are used to construct yet another kind of creature, something really gross and dangerous.

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

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
RJGrady wrote:
I don't agree with people who kvetch about Toughness and such for monsters. If anything, I think too many monsters have overly complex feat choices. Feats are a useful way to get creatures into the expected parameters, or alternatively, an excuse to go a little higher with an appropriate use of design resources. My advice is to ignore that kind of feedback.

Honestly, I feel that it would be unwise to do so. After all, this kind of feedback clarifies some voters' way of assessing monsters.

Using feats such as Toughness is risky when designers themselves advise against it. If it makes sense within the monster's concept and build, then it's ok. But if it seems to come out of nowhere, it can costs votes.

Granted, the use of Toughness this season was not such a big thing. Out of the 15 monsters we saw, only 4 had this feat. Of those 4, I feel that 2 were using it appropriately, being difficult to kill monsters, one would have been better with some other choice and the last one stood somewhere in the middle (as in, could have the feat but not really that close to the concept).

Improved Initiative on the other hand was everywhere this season. Out of the 15 monsters, only 4 did not use it. And I think it is not by chance that these 4 had a well-thought and well-focussed selection of feats.

Of the 11 monsters that had Improved Initiative, 3 were obviously fast monsters where it made sense, 2 could somewhat justify having it and the last 6 just had nothing in their build or depiction clearly showing that this feat made sense.

I feel that everything in a Superstar monster build and description should be clearly in line with its concept. And that includes its feat selection.

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

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Alternative names : grim herder, grim sheperd

Dark Archive

Hollow Heart?

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

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Hoarder of Hearts


The Raven Black wrote:


Honestly, I feel that it would be unwise to do so. After all, this kind of feedback clarifies some voters' way of assessing monsters.

I don't. You are more likely to be dinged for a weird feat choice than a boring one. If your other four choices were spot on, no one cares if you take Toughness, unless the monster doesn't seem like it would be tough at all. Like, don't give Toughness to your Magic Creampuff Pie Pixie.

Quote:


Improved Initiative on the other hand was everywhere this season. Out of the 15 monsters, only 4 did not use it. And I think it is not by chance that these 4 had a well-thought and well-focussed selection of feats.

Improved Initiative does not require any great justification, especially for mid-CR monsters. Higher CR monsters tend to be fighty. Improved Initiative is Fighty.

Quote:


I feel that everything in a Superstar monster build and description should be clearly in line with its concept. And that includes its feat selection.

Okay, yes. But you also shouldn't spend a lot of time agonizing over minor choices, like whether someone thinks Toughness and Improved Initiative are justified by a monster's overarching theme.

In my view, it's the "interesting" feats that need to be considered carefully. Everything you do that makes a monster more complicated to run has the potential of muddling the monster's basic concept. You know what bugs me? Seeing Power Attack on big, strong monsters that aren't very tactical opponents. Because if a monster has Power Attack, the monster has to decide when to use it. And that means the GM has to decide when the monster decides to use it. If the monster is not very tactical, it's a meta decision -- when does it "seem" the monster is using Power Attack? So, unless your monster is fairly smart in combat, or it needs Power Attack as a prerequisite, I say it should generally be avoided. Take Toughness, Improved Initiative, or Weapon Focus, instead. Those will make your monster stronger, without making it more complicated. It will stay closer to your original concept.

I'm not an RPG Superstar. I don't work for Paizo. I'm just some guy who plays Pathfinder and publishes some stuff. But if you want my advice:

Focus on the feats a creature *needs* to work properly, to fulfill its concept, to meet reasonable numbers. Don't forget to give your giants Martial Weapon Proficiency. Make sure your ball of claws and bites gets Multiattack. Slap Great Fortitude onto your high HD monstrous humanoid that's supposed to be a melee monster. Then fill up the rest with boring feats. Simple, boring, vaguely thematic feats. Smart monsters get Iron Will, tough monsters get Toughness, aggressive monsters get Improved Initiative. And so forth.

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

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Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

RJG, I agree heartily with most of your points. It's just that seeing Improved Initiative everywhere made me feel as if this was almost a feat tax for any serious build, whether for monsters, NPCs or PCs.

And 5 great monsters this round showed us that such is not the case, including 2 that made Top8.

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8 aka WalterGM

I like Grim Herder, or at leas the direction that name is going. Maybe something with Shepherd in it? Not for vanity, I assure you.

Now stop distracting me! I need to work on this encounter >.<

Community / Forums / Archive / Paizo / RPG Superstar™ / Previous Contests / RPG Superstar™ Season 9 (2016) / Round 3: Create a Bestiary entry / Hollow One – 594 Words All Messageboards

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