One of the joys of a monster design contest for me is always seeing monsters at the low end of the CR spectrum. It is much easier to design a monster at a medium-to-high power level, because you have more options: the creature can have more powers, more magical fallbacks, and elements that only a medium-or-high level-party can handle. So, I want to shine a bit of the judge’s spotlight on two low-Challenge Rating creatures from the recent Monarch of the Monsters contest that I found entertaining and rated higher than average.
The first of these is the cobbleswarm (by Christopher Gilliford), a CR 2 creature that draws on longstanding D&D tradition by resembling a cobbled street or floor. Be still my heart, someone is attempting a monster in the style of the lurker, the trapper, and the mimic! And yes, this swarm of stony crabs is hard to spot, and it somewhat resembles a street—and it knocks creatures prone and it can carry creatures short distances as one of its powers. This has possibilities, to my mind, because it is not lethal, but it is perfect for splitting the party. A nice twist for a creature that otherwise is not a deadly threat after the first couple levels of play. Add in some High Weirdness in the description to your players (“The street below you opens its eyes—dozens of eyes—and begins to move”) and a rudimentary understanding of traps, and you see how this truly odd creature might fit into a dungeon ecology. It’s one of those things that strikes me as quintessentially D&D-ish.
It is very much a niche monster and an oddball, but sometimes those are perfectly entertaining. And certainly what I’m looking for is entertainment from monsters like this!
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be bringing you some commentary from the three Monarch of the Monsters 5 contest judges regarding monsters that did not make it into the public voting phase. This week, Steve picks out two monsters to highlight. We invite you to share your own insights in the comments field below!
By Dave Breitmaier
Medium humanoid (Kryt), neutral evil
Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 120 (16d8 + 48)
Speed 25 ft.
STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
20 (+5) 10 (+0) 16 (+3) 6 (-2) 18 (+4) 6 (-2)
Skills Insight +7, Perception +7
Senses Darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 17
Condition Immunities Exhaustion
Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)
Hold Breath. The kryt can hold its breath for 15 minutes.
Most stone giants spend their long lives in peaceful pursuits on the rocky peaks of mountain ranges: raising livestock, contemplating the passage of history, and educating captured adventurers about the tribe’s peaceable intentions before releasing them.
But hotheaded young stone giants would rather change the world than observe it — and a charismatic young leader with enough followers can unleash catastrophic attacks against lowlanders.
Larger Than Life: Stone Giants is a new 16-page PDF from RPG Superstar Mike Welham with plenty of material for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game GMs who want to bring giants into their game, including:
19 new stone giant racial feats including Granite Fists, Root In Place, Surety of Stone and Unyielding Mind.
New stone giant gear: clarity moss, exploding rock, stone drums and stone softener; plus 4 new magic items
7 new stone giant spells including bombardment, erupting wall, stone motes and tremor
Stone giant variants, adventure seeds and a CR 13 NPC, the bard Song of Slate
An extensive overview of stone giant society, customs, religion and relations with other races
Hill giants don’t make world-dominating plans, but that makes them no less terrifying to their victims. Concerned mainly with finding food and shelter, these giants quickly consume all the game in their territory and start wandering into human settlements looking for easy prey—or enter service as shock troops for dragons and other, cleverer giants.
Larger Than Life: Hill Giants is a new 15-page PDF from RPG Superstar Mike Welham with plenty of material for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game GMs who want to bring giants into their game, including:
• 16 new racial feats including Force Submission, Knockdown Strike, and Lift and Smash.
• New hill giant gear including dung boulder, flexhide and liquid bravado
• New spells, weapon special ability and magic items
• Hill giant adventure seeds and a CR 11 NPC, the mastodon-riding Hirga Treesmasher
• An extensive overview of hill giant society, customs, religion and relations with other races
In the course of the Monarch of the Monsters 5 contest, we had a huge number of entries from many monster designers out there. Now you, the voting public, can pick which one you want to see win the Monarch of the Monsters 5 contest!
Please familiarize yourself (possibly again) with the sixfinalists, then proceed to the poll.
Which monster would you like to see win the Monarch of the Monsters 5 contest?
Xanka by Jeremy Hochhalter (33%, 218 Votes)
Skein Witch by Sersa Victory (22%, 145 Votes)
Living Wicks by Ben Wertz (17%, 112 Votes)
Chronalmental by David Gibson (13%, 89 Votes)
Fext by Dave Olson (7%, 48 Votes)
Spire Walker by James L. Crawford (7%, 48 Votes)
Total Voters: 660
So many thanks go to those who submitted such interesting and creative monsters, plus our intrepid judges — Wolfgang Baur, Rich Howard, and Steve Winter — were amazingly awesome for spending time with each of these creatures and evaluating them. So, please take a moment to thank them, too. Now, it’s your turn to make this contest a fun and wonderful thing: Vote! And thanks in advance for doing so!