Valemask – 512 Words

Round 3: Create a Bestiary entry

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka Cyrad

Clad in hides, this masked humanoid stares greedily while reaching for an arrow that distorts the surrounding air with a vibrant glow.

Valemask CR 7
XP 3,200
NE Small fey
Init +5; Senses low-light vision; Perception +11

----- Defense -----
AC 20, touch 16, flat-footed 15 (+2 armor, +4 Dex, +3 natural, +1 size)
hp 85 (12d6+24)
Fort +6, Ref +12, Will +7

----- Offense -----
Speed 30 ft.
Melee mwk net +10 touch (entangle) or spear +10/+5 (1d6+4)
Ranged mwk composite longbow +13/+8 (1d6+4 plus touch of the wild)
Special Attacks favored enemy (+4 animals, +2 magical beasts), touch of the wild, wild snap trap

----- Statistics -----
Str 18, Dex 21, Con 14, Int 9, Wis 8, Cha 13
Base Atk +6; CMB +10; CMD 25
Feats Deadly Aim, Net Adept, Net Maneuvering, Point-Blank Shot, Rapid Shot, Weapon Focus (longbow)
Skills Acrobatics +15, Bluff +9, Climb +12, Handle Animal +12, Knowledge (nature) +7, Perception +11, Ride +9, Survival +4, Stealth +14
Languages Common, Sylvan

----- Ecology -----
Environment temperate forests or plains
Organization solitary, pair, or troupe (3–6)
Treasure standard (leather armor, masterwork composite longbow +4, masterwork net, spear, other treasure)

----- Special Abilities -----

Touch of the Wild (Su) A valemask infuses its arrows with First World magic to polymorph its enemies into the ideal quarry. Humanoids and native outsiders struck by the arrows must succeed on a DC 17 Fortitude save or take on physical traits of a fearsome Medium animal for 1 minute. An afflicted creature is considered an animal for the purpose of a ranger’s favored enemy, bane weapons, and similar effects. On each following round, the creature must succeed on another Fortitude save or the transformation progresses as shown below.

  • 2: The afflicted creature loses the ability to speak and wield manufactured weapons, but gains its animal form’s base speed, natural attacks, and senses.
  • 3: The afflicted creature fully polymorphs into the animal as beast shape I.

If a creature dies while afflicted, its body permanently transmutes into the shape of the animal form and any equipment melded to the creature appears beside its corpse. The creature reverts to its natural form when brought back to life. This is a polymorph effect that dispels existing polymorph effects as baleful polymorph. The save is Charisma-based.

Wild Snap Trap (Su) Five times per day as a standard action, a valemask can infuse bestial energy into a touched Tiny inanimate plant, causing it to snap at a creature moving adjacent to it. For 24 hours, the plant is treated as a bear trap. A creature that takes damage from the trap becomes exposed to the touch of the wild.

The mask of a valemask conceals an ever-shifting visage of mismatched animal features caused by a spark of the First World within each valemask's heart. Valemasks engage in an eternal game of hunting wolves, dinosaurs, and other menacing predators. They only score points for downing the fiercest of beasts. Unfortunately for villagers of the Darkmoon Vale, these lazy fey exploit a loophole in the rule using their polymorphic magic.

Paizo Employee Developer , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

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Congratulations for making it to Round 3! Your item worked for enough people to make Top and you mapping skills got you through Round 2, and now folks get to see your monster. Like previous years that I’ve judged this round, I’m approaching judging the same way I would do a pre-development pass on a turnover one of my freelancers sent me. I start at the descriptive text at the top and then work my way through the statblock looking for errors or weak spots that need to be addressed in development. Then I read the flavor text and see how it is all integrated. My final judgment is not only based on errors or lack thereof. Some of my comments are just personal preference, so please don’t take anything personally. We just have different tastes.

Now on to your monster!

• The descriptive text assume action and gives little physical description. If it’s masked, how do I know it’s staring greedily? :)

• Hit points and AC are on point, and the attack bonus is on the low end. Saves are mostly fine except for a high Reflex (which is probably fine). Its damage output is low for a CR 7 creature (which can be fine if the monster focuses on other things that combat).

• On the melee line, when you have an “or” situation, hit enter and list the second attack type in its own line.

• I like that this monster has a ranged attack.

• Touch of the wild is an interesting ability. I like the progressive transformation aspect, but I dislike how you presented it. I’m typically not a fan of bullet points in special abilities (but I’m fine with them in judging monsters!). ;) They take up more space and often signal an overly complicated ability. In this case, what really bugs me is a list that starts with the number two. I understand why you did this since that’s the second round the target is affected by the ability, but it just throws off my brain and looks like an error. The final transformation if the target dies is neat, and can actually be a benefit as carrying the corpse of your companion back to civilization might be easier if they were a lighter creature. :)

• Wild snap trap is a neat ability visually. I like the idea of a plant that can act as a bear trap and I like that you have it work with touch of the wild.

• You spend a lot of design choices making these creatures good with nets, but you never bring that up in the flavor text. In fact, your flavor text is very light. You also mention Darkmoon Vale and mention that dinosaurs are among the ferocious beasts that valemasks like to hunt, however, there really aren’t any dinosaurs in the Vale.

This is a decent submission, but I think it could be tighter. I do not recommend this designer advance to the next round.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Garrick! 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 Valemask. Sounds very mysterious and forest-y. Very in keeping with a fey creature. Eager to read on.

Now, let's examine your creativity in describing and explaining what your monster is all about. "Clad in hides, this masked humanoid stares greedily while reaching for an arrow that distorts the surrounding air with a vibrant glow." Okay. That sounds ominous. Air-distorting arrows and a masked figure clad in hides? Sounds pretty rad. Moving further down, we can see this is a fey with the ability to polymorph its victims into animals with its arrows or traps, which it then likes to hunt down. On the surface, that seems pretty creative. From an encounter perspective, I'm not 100% sure how often it'll have the chance to work those abilities on the PCs and then take advantage of them. The best opportunity would be for its traps to do the transformations as PCs enter its lair. Then, it can start the hunt. But, realistically, I'm not sure that would make for great fun at the gaming table for the players as they have to fend off a CR 7 creature in a less than ideal form. Granted, it takes a lot of failed saves to bring everyone down in this manner, but those with poor Fortitude saves aren't likely to make them.

So, what about the mechanics? In the interests of time, I didn't try to number-crunch everything, but I have a few concerns. The AC, saves, and hit points are spot-on for a CR 7 creature. And the bow is its primary attack, and that fits, as well. The damage curve isn't that lethal, but it's really the magical polymorph effect that matters here. The DC is appropriately set at 17 for a primary ability, so you're juggling the numbers well. I think where things start to break down for me are in the description of your new monster abilities. The touch of the wild states that it polymorphs a victim into a fearsome Medium animal as beast shape I. Is the form chosen by the valemask? Or does the victim get to choose? Clearly, once it takes effect, the favored enemy bonuses of the valemask come into play and the chase is on. In a group, this could be particularly devastating, but also a bit of a bear to run at the table trying to track all the polymorph and partial-polymorph effects. I don't know. In many ways, it's innovative. In other ways, I feel like it still needs some shoring up pending a few playtests.

Next up, the presentation. You're pretty solid here in terms of the template use. You bolded, italicized, and alphabetized the right things and got everything in order. You didn't give us much on the descriptive write-up, though. Just 4 sentences...barely enough to qualify as a paragraph. That's a result of underwriting the assignment, where you used only 512 out of your allotted 600 words. While this meets the requirement of the rules, it also leaves this write-up feeling short. You had 15% more words that could've gone towards giving this thing more life and I think this was a misstep in selling us further on your writing abilities by injecting some more flavor into it.

Bottom Line: This creature is interesting and meets the mechanical expectations of a CR 7 monster. It's also got an innovative approach to presenting the PCs with a heretofore unexpected attack-by-polymorph schtick. So, it'll certainly make for memorable encounters, even if the recordkeeping might get a little complicated as a result. The professional polish is mostly there, but I think the word count being so low is a major knock against it, too. As a Superstar designer, you should instinctively know when you're passing up opportunities to wow us further. So, given all of that, I'm still just half-and-half on the concept and I'll put myself ON THE FENCE for now. If the voters put you through, I'd recommend that you resist taking your foot off the gas at any point. Keep raising your game, keep looking for ways to innovate, and make sure you assess everything you design for how it will play out at the table.

Paizo Employee Editor

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

First off, I was a little confused about the name until I read its origin. That’s fine, as a lot of things are named after where they came from. There is a bit too much movement in the descriptive text, which is something we try to avoid as much as possible. You never know how and where GMs might introduce the monster to their players.

Mechanically, the progressive polymorph ability is interesting, but the presentation makes it look a bit more complicated than it actually is. And while it has a couple of feats for its net, I’m not sure why it would using that net in combat or hunting. Why does it hunt? I assume for the thrill of the chase, since it doesn’t need to eat. Is it capturing animals to release and hunt all over again? Some explanation in the description would have been nice.

In the end, I do not recommend this designer move on to the next round.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka Cyrad

Thank you, Judges. I genuinely appreciate your honest analyses.

Int 9 seems low.

I assumed favored enemy is as the ranger ability, but that should be called out.

I like the transformation aspect, but this seems almost more like a specific NPC or an AP premise than a monster description.

Damage is low, very low. About half where it should be, and its attack bonus is on the low side. Deadly Aim and Rapid Shot an help with lightly armored opponents, at the cost of sinking its attack bonus even lower into the dirt.

I guess, along those lines, you went with 12 HD, the recommendation for a CR 7 fey. However, most fey are more reliant on unusual spell-like abilities, or have more of a story role where they can use traps or charm abilities. This character is fundamentally a skill-user and a ranged attacker. Fey are very soft for their HD as any sort of combatants. I would have gone 14 HD and used the extra feat to shore up its ranged attacks. Net Maneuvering seems like a wasted feat, why trip or disarm people if you're trying to polymorph them and then shoot them? It would probably be stronger built around CR 3 with ranger levels added, which goes back to my comment about it seeing more like an NPC or a unique group of monsters than a general type.

If this thing meets a summoner or any character with a pet, it is toast. Seriously. Low attack bonus, very low damage, a primary supernatural ability that does not work on elementals and is largely ineffective against animals... Wind wall is also something to worry about. I feel like it would be a stronger entry with a second or third use for arrows, maybe a targeted dispel magic, and or a telekinetic bull rush.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Arkos

Just gotta say that it's tough to make a small fey that throws damage around. So you need to find a new way to make them a threat to PCs, and I feel like your bestial transformation plan is a fun way to make that happen. This creature feels well suited to a long-term, strike-and-flee style action against the players, slowly sending them through a series of bear traps, and attacking from range before hiding in the woods. A pair of these with a GM willing to play them Predator style would make for a fun and memorable encounter.

Anyone who put these into a regular Pathfinder meat-grinder would feel them to be a less than successful encounter. But that's the way fey seem to be designed at these levels. I would like to see more supernatural defenses to keep them at range, to make up for their low speed against something like fly. A few fun ranger spells may have helped out!

I've got a known weakness for fey that require strategy from a GM, so you're getting one of my votes!

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 can see where the vibe of this come from… if this was a setting with greek mythology it would totally work as an evil creature that serve Diana in a warped way. Potential is there but execution seems forced and didn’t do it for me going over the gonzo line 6/10
Marketability: are the choices you made smart and marketable to a voting public? Does the name pop?
There are other fey that did fey better and this is hurt by those entries. Nome and description don’t help… 4/10
Trade craft: did you format correctly and scale correct to Paizo standards?
Formatting is fine but the balance issues are certainly there as this completely shuts down casters 5/10
Encounter worthy: as a GM is this easy to use and reuse?
IF redeemed to something more functional mechanically this has some mojo but I have to deal with what is in front of me not what it could eb 5/10
5 out of 10: Sorry but this is likely end of the line.
Good luck.

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

I gave Garrick some feedback during development, so my comments will be limited on this one...

I think there's an interesting core concept here -- the descriptive text talks of a hunt, which is a very fey idea and possibly a lot of fun in a game -- but I'm not sure the whole thing came across, unfortunately.

I do think the main touch of the wild power is fun, though. There've been several monsters this round that aim to take players out of their usual tactics, and I think this definitely does some of that. I think the slow nature of the transformation puts a clock on the combat, which adds an element of tension that often doesn't exist outside concern over dwindling hit points/attributes.

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?


Description assumes action but is serviceable otherwise. I like the air distortion arrow.


Init and senses are good.

Defense looks good.

Offense looks good. Glad to see a net being used! And I had to look ahead and yep, Net Adept!!

Since I looked ahead and Touch of the Wild is just plain cool. Polymorphing into favored quarry is a brilliant idea. The only hitch is polymorph doesn't allow unwilling creatures specifically. You break the rules here but if you would have gone with baleful polymorph it would work better. The only rule you're breaking with that is the size...instead of following baleful's Small or smaller you list Medium...that's a little more believable and workable than First World magic breaking the spells specifcally nixed target. Or maybe, upon reread, you just mention this works as baleful polymorph (like you do at the end) and list your exceptions. Saved wordcount to use elsewhere.

Favored enemy makes sense for a ranger fey.

Wild snap trap is a good twist on ranger trapping stuff and my only quibble would be to stick with First World magic instead of bestial energy.

Stats look good and feat choice is excellent.

Skills look good and so do languages.

I like the troupe collective. Even though it's usually used like a dancing troupe...I still like it.

Treasure is good, I like how you get specific. But this is where some really special treasure, like their polymorphing arrows, would have been great to see.

The descriptive bottom text is short. I would have liked more, because I really like the eternal hunting game aspect and I'd like to have seen mention of an organization or a great tournament or what have you.

Overall, I really like this fey. I do. I have some quibbles but you brought together a nicely themed fey ranger thing which hints at malicious use of its polymorphing arrows (would have like these to be only magically made or an actual arrow with stats), and an organization of them keeping track of the "points" they score. I like this and this is getting my 4th vote! If you do progress, make sure to use that revision comb once or twice more and keep an eye out for things where you can just reference an existing spell or ability but with whatever exceptions you list.

The monster round is always my favorite, so I'm going to give some feedback on all the entries. Basic run-through using the monster creation rules to see if the numbers line up, then general thoughts and critique. I'm running down the list as I find them. This is the twelfth monster entry I've read.

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

Stats are on par for a CR 7 monster where hp, AC and Attacks are concerned, though the attack rolls are on the low end. Damage is low, but just within the CR range, assuming it uses its rapid shot feat and ranged attacks. Saves vary, but are within reasonable limits. What's glaringly missing here is DR #/cold iron. It's a fey without DR. That's very odd.

I wasn't taken with the name. I understand where it comes from, but it seems rather arbitrary to me. Something with a hunting theme feels more appropriate. As to the descriptive text, I'm not sure how I'm supposed to tell a greedy stare when I'm looking at a creature in a mask.

Touch of the wild is an interesting ability. I like how you've taken an advantageous spell effect and turned it into a disadvantage. The favored enemy bonuses will come into effect, which is good, as it bumps up the damage range to respectable levels, even slightly higher than the high end of average damage output. The staged transformation is interesting and I think works mechanically, but the penultimate line confused me. "This is a polymorph effect that dispels existing polymorph effects as baleful polymorph." If the target is already under the effects of touch of the wild (not to mention dead) what difference does another polymorph effect make?

Wild snap trap sounds like a fun ability. I can see it used in ambush sites to get victims into animal form for the hunt.

As for the background text, it falls a bit flat. I've got a total of four sentences, when you had another 88 words to play with. I'm told that what's under the valemask's (Mask on face + Darkmoon Vale = valemask. Now I don't like the name at all.) is much scarier and more intimidating than the mask it wears, which makes me not want the mask. I've got an idea that these things hunt for points. The bigger and scarier the prey, the more points they get. So I have to ask, why transform adventurers into animals at all? It makes them easier to kill, but also makes them less dangerous.

Overall, this idea has potential, but I don't think it was executed to the best of the author's ability. If these are hunters, why don't they have other abilities that make them better at hunting? Being small is a disadvantage. A 30 foot movement rate means they can't keep up with fleeing prey without a mount, and none are mentioned in the description. Many fey have spell-like abilities. This one has none at all. Even something like expeditious retreat to increase movement would have been good. Perhaps haste once a day? True strike? It seems in need of further development.

With eleven other entries viewed, five of which are already fighting for my vote, I don't see myself adding this one to the list. It's an interesting concept with some inspired ideas, but I don't think it evolved fully into a Superstar-worthy entry. Good job, and good luck to you.

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

I like your concept here: a fey that hunts animals and also turns people into animals to hunt them. This is certainly not your average monster fight, and even when transformed the players still have a chance to take this thing down as a tiger or whatever, since it wants to turn them into dangerous animals for "points."

Your execution on this ability is a little confusing as others pointed out. Who chooses what animal I get turned into? Do I? Does the monster? Do I roll on a table? The Wild Snap Trap is also appropriate and cool for a tricky fey beast hunter, but it also has some clarity issues. How long do they last? You say they function as bear traps, which you have to step on to trigger (i.e. enter its space), but you also say it snaps at adjacent creatures. Doors this trigger it, do they give away the trap position, is this just flavor text?

The description is also lacking just because it's so short. I want to know more about this point based hunting competition! How do they use their nets? As hunting weapons, as a means to capture humanoids to polymorph later, both? They're called Valemasks, but what are those masks for? I suspect you may have just run up against the deadline here and didn't get to finish your write up, and the end result is that I'm left with a neat concept that needs a bit of polish and perhaps just completion.

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 has a mask and lives in vales, I assume? It’s not bad, but doesn’t really jump at me.
Gimmick It’s a fey that turns people into animals and then hunts them. That’s awesome. It’s a bit weird to me that it has a bunch of net abilities, since the arrows have the polymorph effect AND are the creatures only source of damage.
Description The patchwork mask and hides is cool as a show of the monster’s trophies.
Usefulness I’d probably only ever use the monster once. It might make for a neat encounter, but is equally likely to fall flat, since the transformation takes as long as many encounters.
New abilities Touch of the Wild is a really neat concept, but I think it falls a bit short in execution. It simply takes too long to work. The vagueness surrounding the choice of animal hurts it too. It also makes me think of The Gamers (You turned him into an ogre, those things are dangerous!), and not in a good way. The snap traps are cool, but don’t add enough to the creature. It could just set actual bear traps if it uses them before an encounter, and using them during an encounter seems unlikely.
The rest Stats seem fine. I think this creature has too many options, most of which are unlikely to see play unless a whole troupe of them are plaguing the PCs.

Jeff Lee wrote:
" If the target is already under the effects of touch of the wild (not to mention dead) what difference does another polymorph effect make?

You can only be under one polymorph effect at a time, so I assume it was keyed to baleful in order to avoid re-inventing the wheel.

RJGrady wrote:
Jeff Lee wrote:
" If the target is already under the effects of touch of the wild (not to mention dead) what difference does another polymorph effect make?
You can only be under one polymorph effect at a time, so I assume it was keyed to baleful in order to avoid re-inventing the wheel.

Yeah, I see it now. I was just hung up on the line about the transmutation completing upon death when the baleful polymorph lie had nothing to do with that.

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

I am going to be rather direct in my feedback.



I now that there are several points that could be clarified or mechanically improved in this monster, but whether in its theme or each of its abilities, it just exudes mojo.

And mojo defeats every rational assessment for me.

Some specific points :

- Touch of the wild does not specify what you transform into. Which just might end up crucial in later rounds.

- The way the latter transformation rounds are presented could be improved, but I did immediately get how it worked. And I just love the concept and mechanics of it, from the first round to the later ones.

- Wild snap trap shows the same mojo, though it does not need the restriction to Tiny plants IMO. The visuals are great and it adds variety to the monster's tactics.

- I like very much the blurb, especially the last sentence, but I would have liked even more of this awesomeness.

All in all, I just love how you took a classic monster trope (hunting fey) and created a beautifully streamlined yet varied enough monster with it.

This is most definitely on my Keep list.


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

Garrick, congrats on getting into the top 16!

What I like: There are myths of creatures turning people into animals to hunt them down, but there are few reflections of this in the Bestiaries, so you're filling a good niche here. The image of the vicious, barbaric fey hunter also works well, and I LOVE the "snap trap" ability. This provides a lot of cool encounter potential, as we have not only the monster itself to deal with, but the hazards it creates.

It is interesting (a love-nor-hate feature) that your key ability, touch of the wild, is dependent upon its use of the bow, since it explicitly states the monster's arrows deal this effect. This means that a valemask forced into melee, disarmed/sundered, or out of ammunition loses its key advantage. This is either a useful planned weakness or an unintentional chink in its metaphorical armor.

What I struggle with: I love the idea of the touch of the wild, but the execution is both wordy and problematic; beyond the restricted-to-bow question above, I wonder if some afflicted creatures (a PC) might find an advantage in being polymorphed in this way, even if the valemask can deal more damage to it. If it was more typical to animal-shaping banes (a la baleful polymorph) where the afflicted creature loses its mind (or has a chance of doing so) this would be more effective. And/or, perhaps it should be changed into one TYPE of animal only (e.g., mythology would call for a stag as the classic example).

I wonder why this fey doesn't have DR/cold iron. While fey don't HAVE to have this feature, most do, and a classic foresty-type creature as this seems to be, it would be thematically appropriate and fine for its CR.

Given your theme, why is its Survival skill so low? I know fey don't typically have Survival as a class skill, but for this creature I would find a way to make this an exception or at least give it a notable racial bonus (the favored enemy bonus still results in a fairly low result for such a creature).

I think I'd like to see a simplified touch of the wild ("as baleful polymorph, but... ) and more space devoted to flavor text and, building on wild snap trap, ways this creature manipulates its environment to its advantage. The net seems extraneous--I'd get rid of it (save that word count) and rejigger its feats for bow, spear, and boosting other abilities.

Is it one of the three monster types I've been totally sick of since, oh, about the Bestiary 3 (dragon, fey, or undead)? Yup. But it's a great idea for a fey at least.

Final Thoughts: You have a phenomenal concept. Just simply needs more polish.

Dark Archive

This is an interesting concept, but I'm not sold on it. As a GM, touch of the wild seems like it could get overly complicated, which means I would have to be well prepared before throwing this at players (as opposed to a random encounter). There are also the questions about this ability that other posters have raised, and having it only apply on either a hit with an arrow or the wild snap trap seems very restrctive, since this is the Valemask's main shtick. Then there are the net feats, which I don't understand, as there's no special mention of nets anywhere in the description. You had plenty of word count left, and I think you would have been better off using that to further explain your choices. The Valemask seems like it should be LE, as opposed to NE, since you specifically mention that they exploit a loophole, which sounds like a very lawful thing to do. I think there is some redesign needed before this is the monster you were envisioning, but if I'm reading between the lines correctly, this could be something great!

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.

The name doesn't do much for me. A bit too literal and it doesn't evoke any sense of anything. Names are always hard. Do they have a name for themselves? For the game they play?

The description is sparse, and assumes action, but it does give a sense of the creature.

I like its archer nature, and the feats and so on built around that.

I too thought it might have a higher survival skill, as well as a higher Knowledge (nature). It lives to hunt, after all.

I like the collective noun. Works for me.

Special Ability names are good, not merely function. Wild Snap Trap is fun to say, too.

Presentation of the polymorph sequence could be better, but it's a neat sequence.

I suspect nearly all encounters with these guys are going to be ambushes. Either triggering a trap (and thus the polymorph) or arrows coming out of prepared hiding places. In that sense, I do think a polymorph or two will progress to the end before combat begins in earnest.

So little text is a missed opportunity. There was a lot more that could be done here, and the words were just not used at all.

In the end, I'm not totally sure this concept really makes sense. It sounds cool at first, but a lot of questions arise pretty quickly. If nothing else, more explanation of the rules they play by is needed.

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

Not sure I'm sold on this monster. While the core ability of turning someone into a beast to hunt isn't bad, I'd expect the ability to then chase the beast down. With a speed of 30, most transformed beasts can outrun the valemask pretty easily. Also, for motivation, I'd have preferred something more ironic than it kills beasts to brag about how good a beast killer it is to other fey. I was looking for the classic - it turns hunters into prey trope.

In addition to the clunky presentation of the touch of the wild ability, what happens if a creature makes its second save? Does it keep saving every round for the rest of the minute to see when it eventually fails and takes the 2nd or 3rd failure effect, or does it stop transforming further?

I also felt that the juxtaposition of a bow hunter fighting wild beasts with a trapper who uses bear traps and nets and a spear doesn't work for the way you've described the monster. It seems far less brag-worthy to say I caught a guy in a bear trap plant, threw my net on him, and while he struggled, I peppered him with arrows, than I tracked and hunted down a beast and killed it with a few shots as it charged with fang and claw at me.

EDIT: one last thought was why does the touch of the wild ability only work on humanoids and native outsiders? I could see it working on a monstrous humanoid for instance. Also not all native outsiders are bipedal in form/PC races, so if you're including all native outsiders, you might as well include just about anything.

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 some of what I’m looking when considering a new monster:

Does it make sense as something that could really exist? The First World can easily manifest as something twisted and hateful in the mortal world, so the valemask doesn’t break with the preconceived ideas of what an enemy from the First World could be. It twists the rules that it’s supposed to live by, and that definitely fits in with the deviousness we expect from fey. It’s a hunter, and the description and stats are supporting that.

Are the abilities exciting to run? The mechanics could use some fine-tuning, but I like where you’re heading with the ideas here. My biggest concern is the rounds it requires for the ability to realize it’s transformative potential. Forced transmutation is a scary predicament for a PC, and I’d like to see it happen before the combat is over. The fact that it’s effects can be delivered from range will certainly help, but the short duration of 1 minute could limit ways to use the monster effectively.

Does it spark ideas for use in an adventure? Perhaps. I could see a troupe of these being used to target one of the PCs and forcing the others to strategize to effectively protect them. As hunters, I don’t see them engaging directly with a well-armed group of adventurers, but I could see adventurers being called in to deal with them when too many lone travelers go missing in a region. You mention that the valemask only scores points for downing fiercest of beasts. I like that this implies a greater force they work for, or a community that could represent a greater threat to the PCs, but it's worded in a way that removes me from the fiction we're creating. Speaking so starkly of points reminds me of the mechanics of the game we're playing, and suspends my imagination to some degree as a result.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka Cyrad

I thank everyone for taking the time to respond to my entry.

For those who haven't seen me around before, I am a software engineer who moonlights as an indie game developer and got into tabletop game development in order to build my game design skills. When I'm not working on my puzzle platformer Displacement, I write free Pathfinder RPG content and serve as an active member of the homebrew forum. My work includes the runari race based on the characters of my indie computer game and the artiforged , a base class that takes a setting-neutral approach to creating a cyborg-like character.

So what went behind the creation of the valemask?

Inspiration: I consider polymorph and transformation as a fascinating design space that seems surprisingly unexplored in D&D and Pathfinder. The selection of polymorph spells seem utterly bizarre and incomplete. At 9th level, you can permanently turn a dragon into a chicken, but you can only turn a man into an elf for a few minutes. Similarly, until recently, the only hostile polymorph effects were save-or-die spells like the ubituquous baleful polymorph spell. There's much more that could be done here.

Design Goals: I wanted to create a monster with a hostile polymorph effect that was not a save or die effect. I did not want the effect to be completely disabling. In fact, I thought it would be interesting if it had some advantages as well.

Implementation: I tried several methods of a polymorph effect, but ultimately liked the gradual application better with each disability also granting a benefit. This added tension and played well with the monster kiting with ranged attacks and using Stealth to prolong the fight. I decided against giving the creature damage reduction in order to make sure the polymorphed victim's natural attacks don't become completely ineffective.

It made perfect sense that this monster would be a fey, but I needed to answer the important question of why a creature would polymorph their enemies into anything less than totally crippling. I conjured the narrative of a race of little fey hunters that use polymorph magic to cheat at their own hunting game ("First World Logic" I like to call it). The valemasks carry a spark of the First World that constantly shifts their form and allows them to temporarily mutate nearby plants. As a result, they wear masks to reveal their identity rather than to conceal it. They gain personal satisfaction from downing creatures larger than themselves. Dinoasaurs are the holy grail of scary creatures to down, but they are rare -- or more accurately, don't exist in the Darkmoon Vale, which was a mistake on my part. With humanoid settlements growing nearer to their hunting grounds and beasts becoming more difficult to track, using their curse to exploit a loophole in their hunting game became ever more attractive.

Statting high level fey is fairly difficult due to the low base attack bonus that reduces their number of attacks and makes some feats inaccesible. To fill the gap and round out the creature's combat options, I added a net attack and some net feats so they have a melee option. This also utilized the high Strength I needed to give the creature to make their archery attacks effective.

In the moments leading to the deadline, I watched my wordcount carefully. Unfortunately, much of the work and communication of the monster's tactic had to be cut from the monster due to wordcount. Though, this did force me to improvise. An earlier version of Wild Snap Trap acted as a magical explosive that made plants grow and exposed creatures to Touch of the Wild. I simplified the mechanic by simply turning a plant into a bear trap, which played well with the valemask's polymorphic theme.

Post-Mortem: It's obvious from the judges's analysis and voter's questions about the monster that the wordcount margin proved highly detrimental to my entry. I watched my wordcount carefully. However, I realized too late that Paizo's system does not use the same wordcount algorithm as my word processor. My entry clocks at 591 words in my wordprocessor, but Paizo's system says 512 words. I never use the submission form during the design process due to RPG Superstar's history of contestants disqualifying themselves after accidentally submitting an incomplete entry.

Far too exhausted so close to the deadline to add an extra 70-80 words that might muck up the entry with mistakes, I submitted it anyway. Quite infuriating as I could have used that to add more lore to the description, which could have told the monster's motivations, hunting strategies, and other aspects originally cut from the entry that would better communicate my design decisions. I can't completely blame the technical problems -- even with my illusory wordcount, I should have focused more on the lore than the mechanics.

I'm happy that the valmask captured the imaginations of some of the voters, and I appreciate the feedback everyone provided. In closing of my Season 9 run, I offer the following gift I've drawn to honor those who followed me throughout this competition.


Thank you and best luck to the Top 8!

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