Monday, December 5, 2016

Here Be Monsters 3: Voting Booth


The Top 5 have been revealed and now it's time to vote for your favorite monster!

For those who need one last look to make their decision, the finalists are:

We are using the Poll Maker website for voting. Clicking the link below takes you to the voting booth where you can cast your vote. You can vote for one monster. You can change your selection by voting again, but only your final vote will be recorded.

VOTE!

The voting is open for seven days, i.e. until Dec. 12. The winner will be revealed shortly after the voting closes.

Also, thanks again to everyone who's helped us with this contest: Adam Daigle, Legendary Games, Rusted Iron Games, Zenith Games, and artists Hugo Solis and Tommi Salama, and to all of you who've entered, commented, and voted.

HBM3 Top 5: Star Cinder by Isaac Volynskiy





Light dims around this small humanoid creature composed entirely of condensed ash, its single empty eye trembling under an unseen pressure.
 
Starcinder CR 7
XP 1,600
NE Small outsider (elemental, evil, extraplanar, fire)
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +12
Aura dead weight aura (15 ft., DC 17)

DEFENSE
AC 20, touch 18, flat-footed 13 (+7 Dex, +2 natural, +1 size)
hp 85 (10d10+30);
Fort +10, Ref +10, Will +8
Defensive Abilities negative energy affinity; Immune cold, fire, elemental traits;

OFFENSE
Speed fly 60 ft. (good)
Melee 2 slams +10 (2d6+4 plus destabilizing touch)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks destabilizing touch (DC 19)

STATISTICS
Str 18, Dex 24, Con 16, Int 15, Wis 13, Cha 9
Base Atk +10; CMB +13; CMD 30
Feats Combat Casting, Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Greater Sunder, Improved Sunder, Power Attack, Weapon Finesse,
Skills Acrobatics +20, Bluff +12, Escape Artist +20, Fly +26, Knowledge (planes) +15, Perception +14, Sense Motive +14, Stealth +20
Languages Ignan
SQ form of annihilation, starflight

ECOLOGY
Environment any (Space)
Organization solitary, gang (2–3), form (4)
Treasure none

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Dead Weight Aura (Su) Neither light nor hope escape a starcinder’s presence. The illumination level in its aura drops one step and when a creature comes within 15 feet of a starcinder, it must succeed at a DC 17 Will save or be able to move at no more than half its normal speed and be shaken long as the creature remains within the starcinder’s aura and for an additional 1d3 rounds after leaving it. Once a creature successfully saves against the aura, it is immune to that particular starcinder’s aura for 24 hours; otherwise, reentering the aura forces a creature to save again. Starcinders are immune to each others’ auras.  This aura is a mind-affecting fear effect.

Destabilizing Touch (Su) Whenever a creature is dealt bludgeoning damage by a starcinder, it must succeed a DC 19 Fortitude save or gain vulnerability to bludgeoning damage until the end of the starcinder’s next turn.  An object struck by a starcinder instead loses 10 hardness.  An attended object or magic object can attempt a DC 19 Fortitude save to negate this effect.

Form of Annihilation (Sp) As part of taking a total defense action, a starcinder can prepare itself to merge with at least three other adjacent starcinders.  Once the fourth starcinder uses this action, they must maintain concentration as if casting a 9th level spell for one round.  Afterwards, the starcinders collapse into a sphere of annihilation which has a move speed of 5ft. The starcinders can maintain this form for up to 24 hours before separating, and cannot assume the form again for another week.
Starflight (Su) A starcinder can survive in the void of outer space. It flies through space at incredible speeds. Although exact travel times vary, a trip within a single solar system normally takes 3d20 months, while a trip beyond normally takes 3d20 years (or more, at the GM's discretion)—provided the starcinder knows the way to its destination.

When a star dies, the thousands of fire elementals which resided in the star die with it.  Rarely, gravitational forces and negative energy bind the dead ashes together into a new elemental, the starcinder.  Starcinders are forces of structural instability, seeking to band up with others of their kind and rampage in areas with dense fire elemental populations (such as a planet’s molten core or a star).  

Each fire elemental destroyed by a starcinder has a 1% chance to be reborn as a starcinder in a random part of the universe.

SEE BELOW FOR COMMENTS FROM JUDGES ADAM DAIGLE, MIKKO KALLIO, JACOB W. MICHAELS, AND MIKE WELHAM:


HBM3 Top 5: Void Herald by Eric Hindley




Four writhing tentacles emerge from a central body that is little more than a gelatinous mass wrapped around a monstrous, pulsating eye.

Void Herald      CR 8
XP 4,800
NE Large aberration
Init +2; Senses all-around vision, darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +17

Defense
AC 20, touch 12, flat-footed 17 (+2 Dex, +1 dodge, +8 natural, -1 size)
hp 102 (12d8+48)
Fort +7, Ref +8, Will +12
DR 10/cold iron; SR 19
Immune cold

Offense
Speed 5 ft., fly 40 ft. (perfect)
Melee 4 tentacles +12 (1d6+4 plus grab)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 15 ft.
Special Attacks enervating grasp
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 12th; concentration +15)
Constant—tongues
At will—breath of life (DC 18), gentle repose
1/day—symbol of pain (DC 18)

Statistics
Str 19, Dex 14, Con 17, Int 18, Wis 14, Cha 17
Base Atk +9; CMB +14 (+18 grapple); CMD 27 (can't be tripped)
Feats Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Endurance, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Toughness
Skills Acrobatics +2 (-10 to jump), Diplomacy +15, Fly +23, Heal +14, Knowledge (geography) +16, Knowledge (planes) +16, Perception +17, Sense Motive +14, Survival +17
SQ void hibernation

Ecology
Environment any
Organization solitary, pair, or envoy (3-6)
Treasure standard

Special Abilities
Enervating Grasp (Su) When a void herald has an opponent grappled with 2 or more tentacles, it can swivel its eye to drain the life force from them. The void herald makes a grapple check with a +2 bonus for each tentacle after the first that is grappling the target. If this check is successful, the void master bestows one negative level on the target. This functions like the energy drain universal monster ability. A successful DC 19 Fortitude save is required to remove these negative levels. If the void herald uses this ability, it loses all-around vision for one round. The save DC for this ability is Charisma based.

Void Hibernation (Ex) Void heralds can enter a state of hibernation for an indefinite period when travelling through space or in other harsh conditions. The void herald encases itself in a gelatinous cocoon, a process that takes 10 minutes. The cocoon has hardness 10 and 60 hit points, and is immune to fire and bludgeoning (including falling) damage. If the cocoon remains intact, the void herald within remains unharmed. The void herald can move the cocoon using its fly speed. The cocoon remains until it contacts a hard surface, such as the surface of a planet.

There are unspeakable things in the spaces between the stars, some of which have untold power. Void heralds serve as ambassadors for these enigmatic entities, exploring new worlds for their masters. They are capable of diplomacy, and often present a friendly and helpful fa├žade. When a void herald speaks, its voice always speaks the listeners native tongue and it seems to come from somewhere a few feet away from the void herald itself. They often have great information, bringing new technologies to a world or other advanced knowledge, such as medicine or engineering. In exchange for its help, a void herald will often ask for a few creatures to act as sacrifices.

In truth, void heralds are sent to test the durability and usefulness of indigenous life for their masters. They can bend the laws of reality to grant themselves power over life and death. They excel at bringing a creature to the brink of death with their energy drain and then bringing them back to life. How long creatures can endure such punishment is vital for their mysterious masters, though few know what fate befalls those deemed suitable by the void heralds.

A void herald is about six feet across and weighs only 120 pounds.


SEE BELOW FOR COMMENTS FROM JUDGES ADAM DAIGLE, MIKKO KALLIO, JACOB W. MICHAELS, AND MIKE WELHAM:

HBM3 Top 5: Eon-Scarred Probe by Jeremy Corff




Hovering silently in the air, this construct is composed of three broad segmented tentacles connected to a central orb with a flickering red gem in the center. The limbs writhe and twitch to some unknown song, and it has an air of unimaginable age.

Eon-Scarred Probe CR 10
XP 9,600
N Medium Construct (robot)
Init +6; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception + 10

DEFENSE
AC 23, touch 13, flat-footed 20 (+2 Dex, +1 dodge, +10 natural)
hp
131 (13d10+20 plus 40 hp force field)
Fort
+4, Ref +6, Will +10
Defensive Abilities hardness 10; Immune construct traits; Resist acid 10, cold 10, fire 10
Weaknesses vulnerable to critical hits and electricity

OFFENSE
Speed 10 ft., fly 60 ft. (perfect)
Melee 3 slams +20 (1d6+ 6)
Special Attacks binary laser array, song of alien stars

STATISTICS
Str 22, Dex 15, Con --, Int 8, Wis 19, Cha 1
Base Atk +13; CMB +19 (can’t be tripped )
Feats Alertness, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Weapon Focus Slam, Hover, Wingover
Skills Fly +15, Knowledge (history) +5, Linguistics +7, Perception +10
Languages Aklo
SQ self repair

ECOLOGY
Environment any
Organization solitary
Treasure none

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Binary Laser Array (Ex): As a full round action, a probe can beam a message from its laser array once every 1d4 rounds. The beam always starts at an intersection adjacent to the probe and extends in the direction of the probe's choice. The beam is a 200ft line that deals 12d6 fire damage. Those caught in the line can attempt a DC18 Reflex save to take half damage. Invisible creatures are immune to damage caused by the laser array.

Force Field (Ex) An eon-scarred probe is sheathed in a layer of shimmering energy that grants it 40 bonus hit points. All damage dealt to a probe with an active force field is reduced from these hit points first. As long as the force field is active, the probe is immune to critical hits. A probe’s force field has fast healing 10, but once its hit points are reduced to 0, the force field shuts down and does not reactivate for 24 hours.

Self-Repair (Ex) A probe’s nanites heal it of damage at the rate of 10 hit points per hour. Once per day, as a full-round action, it can heal itself of 60 points of damage.

Song of Alien Stars (Ex) As a move action, an eon-scarred probe can emit a barrage of scrambled psychic impressions. All creatures other than probe within 60 feet must succeed on a DC 15 Will save or be confused for 1 round as they experience garbled fragments of alien life and culture. This is a mind-affecting effect. Once a probe begins its song it can maintain it as a free action every round, necessitating another save for all creatures within the range.


Eon-scarred probes are first contact robots sent forth by their long forgotten creators millenia ago to travel the cosmos and find alien life. Originally built to find sentients and communicate the culture of their progenitors via their laser array and pre-recorded psychic messages, unfortunately millions of years, travel through the expanse of space, and exposure to forces unimagined by their makers have left the probes warped. They still seek out sentient life to make first contact, but the recordings have long since become mind jarring gibberish and the laser array is extremely ill suited for communicating with organic life. Invariably the sentients either defend themselves from the hazardous attempts at communication, or flee the inexorable pursuit of the robot only to be tracked down and 'contacted' into oblivion. Once the probe has finished it departs and resumes its search.

SEE BELOW FOR COMMENTS FROM JUDGES ADAM DAIGLE, MIKKO KALLIO, JACOB W. MICHAELS, AND MIKE WELHAM:


HBM3 Top 5: Voidweaver by Matt Roth




Hundreds of vaguely arachnid limbs hold a wiry, larvae-like woman aloft. The air twists around the otherwise limbless figure as she looks on with eight glittering, sorrowful eyes.

Voidweaver CR 6
XP 2,400
N Medium aberration
Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft., see in darkness; Perception +16
Aura graviton (60 ft., DC 17)

DEFENSE
AC 19, touch 15, flat-footed 14 (+4 Dex, +1 dodge, +4 natural armor)
hp 67 (9d8+27); fast healing 2
Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +9
Defensive Abilities gravitational superiority; DR 10/magic; Immune cold; Resist fire 10

OFFENSE
Speed 10 ft., fly 60 ft. (perfect)
Melee 4 claws +8 (1d6 plus implosion)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks gravityweave (+10 ranged, DC 17, 9 hp)

STATISTICS
Str 11, Dex 19, Con 16, Int 14, Wis 16, Cha 11
Base Atk +6; CMB +5; CMD 19 (can't be tripped)
Feats Deflect ArrowsB, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Improved Natural Attack (claws), Multiattack, Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +16, Fly +24, Knowledge (planes) +14, Perception +15, Sense Motive +15, Stealth +16
Languages Aklo, Common
SQ no breath

ECOLOGY
Environment any (space)
Organization solitary or nest (2-6)
Treasure standard

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Graviton Aura (Su) A voidweaver manipulates the flow of gravitons in a 60-ft.-radius, creating an area of objective directional gravity (of light, heavy, or normal strength). The voidweaver controls the gravity's direction and strength and may alter it as a full-round action. Creatures that enter the aura must make a DC 17 Will saving throw to control their personal gravity, treating the voidweaver's aura as subjective directional gravity for 24 hours. Creatures that make their save but do not actively control their movement (see Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Gamemastery Guide) treat this as an area of no gravity. Creatures may attempt a save each round they remain in the aura. The save DC is Wisdom-based.

Gravitational Superiority (Ex) Voidweavers are gravitationally independent and may choose to ignore any other gravity effect (such as planets or reverse gravity). A voidweaver gains Deflect Arrows as a bonus feat and, once per day when hit by an attack, can force creatures to make new saves against its graviton aura.

Gravityweave (Ex) Gravityweave is treated as the web universal monster ability with the following differences: it has a range increment of 60 feet with a maximum range of 5 range increments, is effective against creatures two size categories larger, imposes a –8 penalty to Fly checks, uses Wisdom to determine its DC, is incorporeal, and is invisible (requiring a DC 30 Perception check to spot the slight spatial distortion where they lie). Gravityweave may be layered over 1d4 hours to create an area of heavy, light, or objective directional gravity. Creatures that fail to notice the gravityweave and become entangled are immediately subjected to the gravitational effect. 

Implosion (Su) Once per round, when a voidweaver hits a living target caught in gravityweave, it can compress the gravitation field to deal extra damage. The creature takes 1d10+3 damage and must make a DC 16 Fortitude saving throw or be slowed (as the spell) for 1d4 rounds. The save DC is Intelligence-based.

Voidweavers are the result of bizarre gravitational tinkering by a group of too-curious wizards. Its arachnid-like protrusions are complex organs enabling voidweavers to spin gravity like a spider's web. Though not inherently evil, their voracious appetites, tendency to crush meals to balls of organic matter, and anomalous gravitational fields make them seldom appreciated. Voidweavers are capable of gravity-propelled, slumbering starflight, but most voidweavers that take to the stars form collective nests in asteroid belts to pull in passerby with vast nets of gravityweave. The average voidweaver stands 5 feet tall and weighs 110 pounds.

SEE BELOW FOR COMMENTS FROM JUDGES ADAM DAIGLE, MIKKO KALLIO, JACOB W. MICHAELS, AND MIKE WELHAM:


HBM3 Top 5: Strife Wasp by Joe Kondrak


 

A single translucent tendril wriggles between the disgusting mandibles of this enormous black wasp. Dappled with twinkling specks of light, its leathery wings resemble the nighttime sky.

Strife Wasp CR 6
XP 2,400
N Large aberration
Init +4; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +12

DEFENSE
AC 19, touch 14, flat-footed 14 (+4 Dex, +1 dodge, +5 natural, –1 size)
hp 76 (9d8+36)
Fort +9, Ref +9, Will +7
Immune cold; Resist electricity 10, fire 10

OFFENSE
Speed 20 ft., fly 80 ft. (perfect)
Melee bite +10 (1d8+5), sting +11 (1d6+5 plus poison)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks cerebral extraction, malign venom, poison, spiteful glimmer

STATISTICS
Str 21, Dex 18, Con 19, Int 2, Wis 13, Cha 12
Base Atk +6; CMB +12; CMD 26 (34 vs. trip)
Feats Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Great Fortitude, Lightning Reflexes, Weapon Focus (sting)
Skills Fly +15, Perception +12
SQ auroral transit, no breath

ECOLOGY
Environment any
Organization solitary, pair, constellation (3–6), or invasion (7–19)
Treasure none

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Auroral Transit (Su) When a strife wasp flies through a cloud of ionized gas such as a planet’s aurora or a comet’s tail, it supernaturally senses the locations of similar phenomena across a vast expanse of space, and can transfer itself to one of those locations as a standard action.
Cerebral Extraction (Ex) Using a tendril specialized for just such a purpose, a strife wasp can extract a portion of cerebral tissue from the brain of an adjacent, helpless creature as a full-round action. This deals 1d4 points of Intelligence and Wisdom damage unless the target succeeds at a DC 18 Fortitude save. The save DC is Dexterity-based.
Malign Venom (Ex) Any round a creature fails its save against a strife wasp's poison, it must succeed at a second DC 18 Will save or become hostile toward its allies for 1 round as if affected by murderous command. This is a mind-affecting poison effect. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Poison (Ex) Sting—injury; save Fort DC 18; frequency 1/round for 4 rounds; effect 1d2 Wisdom damage plus malign venom; cure 1 save. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Spiteful Glimmer (Su) As a standard action, a strife wasp can cause the twinkling lights on its wings to brightly pulse with eldritch light. Creatures within 30 feet that can see the strife wasp must succeed at a DC 15 Will save or be overcome with spite for 1 round, as if affected by murderous command. This is a mind-affecting effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Strife wasps are strange, alien bugs that travel throughout the universe, hunting and spreading misery wherever they roam. Though they can fly through the upper atmosphere and even outer space, strife wasps do not fly quickly enough to navigate interplanetary or interstellar distances. Instead, they travel from one planet to another by teleporting between the planets’ auroras.

Strife wasps possess a rudimentary intelligence, but are driven primarily by instinct and appetite rather than malign intent. In order to produce viable eggs, they must ingest unspoiled cerebral tissue. After ingesting a suitable amount of such tissue, a strife wasp travels to a comet using its auroral transit ability, and then lays its eggs on the comet’s icy surface. To properly incubate, the eggs require a substantial period of cold and darkness, hatching only after the comet makes a complete trip around its parent star. Scholars and seers on planets repeatedly plagued by strife wasps associate the arrival of the strange invaders with the appearance of particular comets. A typical strife wasp is 12 feet long and weighs 900 pounds.

SEE BELOW FOR COMMENTS FROM JUDGES ADAM DAIGLE, MIKKO KALLIO, JACOB W. MICHAELS, AND MIKE WELHAM.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Here Be Monsters 3: From Beyond the Stars observations


It's always interesting to see how people interpret themes, as oftentimes game designers find themselves mining similar territory for their creations. It's a trait we've seen many times in Paizo's RPG Superstar, and it holds just as true in this contest.

In this case, we noticed a few similar features in many of the monsters submitted: tentacles and eyes (or lack thereof). For what it's worth, having one of these commonalities didn't hurt a monster's chance to make the Top 5 -- at least one monster with one or more of these features made the cut.

Nearly a quarter (7) of the submitted monsters had tentacles of some sort. I feel like we can thank the Cthulhu mythology for that, though that's mostly a guess: The tentacled monsters in this competition weren't all Cthulhu-esque and actually seemed to mine a wide range of inspirations.

We also thought we noticed a trend toward monsters with just a single eye, leading to the quip that in space, no one needs depth perception. Crunching the numbers for this blog post, though, it turned out that it was a little less of a trend than we thought as we were going through them: It turned out only four creatures had a central orb. (I think, as happens with Superstar voting to winnow down the magic items, sometimes you feel like you see something and just become hyper-aware of it, leading to the perception that thing is occurring more often than it does.)

Finally, we also had a similar commonality with naming: "Void" was a popular choice, with four monsters submitted with some variation of it in the name. "Star" came in second place, appearing in three monsters' names.

Here Be Monsters 3: From Beyond the Stars stats



One of the things the Swords for Hire crew really enjoys about running contests is seeing what kind of entries we'll get. While the first Here Be Monsters had a more wide-open theme (contestants were asked to pick a monster from a fan wish list for the not-yet-published Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary 5 on the Paizo forums), the second (Hell Breaks Loose) and third contests have had a more unifying theme. That's seen competitors tend to focus on similar areas in their designs, though there's still plenty of variation.

Creature types

Of the 26 monsters submitted for From Beyond the Stars, nearly half (11) were aberrations (which probably isn't surprising as the theme almost screams aberration). Outsiders (5) took up the No. 2 position, while we also had a scattering of constructs (3), monstrous humanoids (2) and oozes (2). A single fey, humanoid and undead were also submitted, but we received no animals, dragons, magical beasts, plants, or vermin.

The subtypes were pretty limited; one of the constructs had the robot subtype, a couple of the outsiders carried the phantom subtype, and we had one incorporeal and a couple shapechanger monsters, but there were no swarms or troops in this year's submissions. Edited to add: I realized as I was going through the entries again that there was in fact a swarm; my apologies.

Challenge rating

The (mean) average CR of the submitted monsters was 8.15, while the median average is 7 (I think; I don't have much call to do math anymore, so I'm operating from memory here, folks).

The lowest CR we received was 3, while our high submission was 18.

Alignments


Seven of the nine possible alignments were represented, with the consensus apparently being that space creatures are neither chaotic good nor lawful neutral.

Twelve of the monsters were evil, with three of those chaotic evil, one lawful evil and the rest (8) neutral evil.

Two monsters were good, one of them lawful good, the other neutral good.

The remaining monsters were neutral, three of them chaotic neutral, and nine of them true neutral.

For those of you who, like Mikko, prefer to see your alignments in tables, here are the same statistics:



LawfulNeutralChaotic
Good11--
Neutral--93
Evil183


Sizes

Kiel asked in the comments about the sizes of the entries: They were all 590-610 words, as required in the rules. Wait, what? Oh, wrong type of size. (See, I like bad jokes...)

The monsters ranged from Fine to Huge, though most of them (11) were Medium. Six creatures were Small, while five were Huge, four were Large, and one was Fine.

And, yes, for those of you who note the oddity in that set of statistics, those numbers are in fact doublechecked and are correct.


--

We'll have some more details on the contest entries in the next couple days, taking a fun look at some of the areas we saw some parallel design from our competitors.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Here Be Monsters 3: From Beyond the Stars begins NOW




Look to the skies, for there are monsters coming!

Here Be Monsters III: From Beyond the Stars, the third season of the annual Pathfinder RPG monster design contest from Swords for Hire Development, begins Nov. 9!

We're calling on game designers to create a single monster with the theme "From Beyond the Stars" —Cthulhu-ian horrors, alien aberrations, despotic robot invaders or whatever your mind may envision. Entries will be judged by the Swords for Hire team, consisting of Paizo contributor Mikko Kallio, accomplished freelancer Jacob W. Michaels, and RPG Superstar Mike Welham.

The Top 5 entries will go on to be judged by special guest judge Adam Daigle, a Paizo developer who has designed and developed hundreds of Pathfinder monsters, before going on to a public vote to determine the grand winner.

In addition to invaluable feedback from Adam and the other judges, the Top 5 contestants will each receive copies of Swords for Hire's Villain Codex I: Foes for Fledgling Heroes and Villain Codex II: Adversaries for Advanced Heroes, published by Outland Entertainment; as well as any one PDF of a Legendary Games monsters product (Mythic Monsters or Beasts of Legend). 

The grand prize winner will receive even more stuff! Our generous Third Party Publisher sponsors have agreed to provide the following:
  • Legendary Games:  A signed Mythic Monster Manual .
  • Rusted Iron Games: PDFs of the Spooky Gardens: Autumn Special and Frozen Gardens: Winter Special.
  • Zenith Games: A PDF copy of the Colossal Creatures Bestiary.
  • And finally artist Hugo Solis has agreed to provide a large color illustration of the winning monster.
  • Also, special thanks to sponsor Tommi Salama, who has again provided Here Be Monsters' contest logo.

Timeline


  • Nov. 9: The contest begins NOW!  
  • Nov. 26: Submissions are closed at 2 p.m. Pacific standard time. Our judges (Mikko Kallio, Jacob W Michaels, and Mike Welham) convene to determine the top 5.
  • Dec. 7: The top 5 entries are revealed along with comments from Adam, Mikko, Jacob, and Mike. Public voting begins.
  • Dec. 14: The voting ends and the winner is revealed shortly after!


Contest Rules


Contest entries must adhere to the following rules.
  • Your monster must be 590-610 words.
  • Each entrant may submit one monster.
  • Your monster must be designed for the Pathfinder RPG, and you must use the monster template (you can find it here for Microsoft Word or Open Office).
  • PLEASE send your monster in the BODY of an email, not as an attachment; .docx files especially are problematic as my word processor strips random spaces out of them, which makes it look like errors in your monster.
  • Your monster entry must be appropriate for the contest theme "From Beyond the Stars." (See the FAQ below for more details.)
  • Your monster may not have class levels or templates.
  • Your monster must be setting-neutral.
  • Your monster's CR must be at least 1 and may not be higher than 20. Please note that you only have 600 words, and higher-CR monsters may eat up all your words with describing special abilities, which could leave you limited space for describing it.
  • Your monster may use feats, spells, and other resources available in Paizo's Pathfinder PRD. Your monster may not, however, have mythic ranks.
  • You must submit your monster via email to monster.design.contest@gmail.com before the deadline 2 p.m. PST Nov. 26. Include the monster's name in the subject line of the email.

Additional Judging Criteria


Following the guidelines presented below maximizes your chances of winning.
  • Your monster's concept is something new and creative or puts an interesting spin on a classic theme.
  • Your monster's name and read-aloud text are evocative.
  • Your monster's stat block is correctly formatted. Use any recent Pathfinder RPG bestiary product published by Paizo as your style guide.
  • Your monster's statistics are balanced against other creatures of the same CR. Refer to the Monster Creation chapter in the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary for instructions.
  • Your monster has interesting new special abilities with reasonably simple and elegant mechanics.
  • Your monster entry includes compelling lore about the monster which helps GMs use the monster in adventures and campaigns.

Frequently Asked/Anticipated Questions


Q: Who's allowed to submit a monster?
A: Anyone! It doesn't matter if you've never made a monster before or if you're a well-known builder of beasts—you're eligible to enter. Also, the contest is international, so you're eligible to enter regardless of your location (PLEASE NOTE: International competitors may need to pay shipping costs for any print products they win in the contest).

Q: What kind of monsters are you looking for?
A: How you interpret the From Beyond the Stars theme is up to you; consider Iron Gods, Strange Aeons, and what is known about Starfinder at this point good sources for inspiration, though of course, the mechanics should be compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the monsters should be setting-neutral, as mentioned in the rules (and below).

You may also get some insight from the judges' comments on previous monsters, which you can find right here on A Sword for Hire. Mikko, Jacob, Mike W. and Adam all judged the top contenders of Here Be Monsters 2,  while the original contest (you can find it in September 2014 in the older posts sidebar on the right side of the blog) featured Mikko and Jacob along with Mike Kimmel and Sean K. Reynolds as the judges.

Q: Can I set the monster in Golarion or another campaign setting?
A: No. We do not have the rights to use anyone's intellectual property. Monsters should be developed to be setting neutral. 

Remember that Lovecraft's works are in the public domain, so references to mi-go or the starspawn of Cthulhu are fine, but references to creatures like Stargate SG-1's replicators are NOT.

Q: Where will my monster be published/shown?
A: The top 5 monsters will be revealed on Mikko Kallio's A Sword for Hire blog.

Q: Do I get to see the judges' comments if I don't make the Top 5?
A: Only comments on the Top 5 monsters will be revealed; Jacob typically offers to share his comments with any contestant who asks (this will happen AFTER the winner is revealed so as to not detract attention from the Top 5). Other judges may make the same offer.

Q: What happens with my monster after the contest?
A: We'll be using hold monster spells to keep your monsters contained for judging, but afterward we'll be releasing them back in to the wild (i.e. you keep all rights to your creations).
A Sword for Hire