Strings of ever-shifting symbols run across this serpentine creature's scales and disappear in a flash as they converge at its horned iguana head.
Protean, Anomiak CR 5
CN Medium outsider (chaotic, extraplanar, protean)
Init +4; Senses blindsense 30 ft., darkvision 60 ft., detect law; Perception +13
Aura entropic cipher (30 ft., DC 15)
AC 18, touch 14, flat-footed 14 (+4 Dex, +4 natural)
hp 51 (6d10+18), fast healing 5
Fort +5, Ref +9, Will +7, +4 vs. language-dependent effects
Defensive Abilities amorphous anatomy, freedom of movement; Immune acid, polymorph; Resist electricity 10, sonic 10; SR 16
Speed 30 ft., fly 30 ft. (perfect)
Melee 2 claws +9 (1d4+3) and gore +9 (1d6+3) or tongue +9 touch (glossolalia)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft. (15 ft. with tongue)
Special Attacks devilbane, unravel
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 6th; concentration +8)
Constant—detect law, tongues
3/day—dimension door (self plus 50 lbs. of objects only), erase
Str 16, Dex 19, Con 16, Int 11, Wis 14, Cha 15
Base Atk +6; CMB +9; CMD 23 (cannot be tripped)
Feats Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Lunge
Skills Bluff +11, Knowledge (planes) +9, Linguistics +9, Perception +13; Sense Motive +13, Stealth +13
Languages Infernal, Protean; tongues
SQ sound mimicry (sounds and voices)
Environment any (Limbo)
Organization solitary, pair, or babble (3–6 plus 1–2 naunets and 1 imentesh)
Devilbane (Ex) An anomiak's natural attacks deal an extra 2d6 points of damage against creatures with the devil subtype and automatically bypass any DR these creatures might possess.
Entropic Cipher (Su) An anomiak's aura transforms all mundane or magical writings within 30 feet into incomprehensible scribbling. This cipher functions similarly to an illusory script (Will DC 15, CL 6th) concealing the original writing, except that any attempt to read the cipher triggers a lesser confusion effect on a failed save (in place of suggestion). Enciphered writing becomes readable again after 24 hours. Magical items and attended objects receive a DC 15 Will saving throw to resist the aura's effect. Any object that succeeds on its save but remains in the aura must continue to save each round on the anomiak's turn. Save DCs are Charisma-based.
Glossolalia (Su) Curse—tongue; save Will DC 15; onset immediate; frequency 1/day; effect victim loses its ability to speak or use telepathy (if any) and can only babble incoherently, as if affected by fumbletongueUM; cure 1 save. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Tongue (Ex) An anomiak can make a touch attack with its tongue that causes glossolalia. This attack has a reach of 15 feet.
Unravel (Su) Whenever an anomiak successfully erases a mundane or magical writing, the nascent energies explode into a warpwave (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 2 213) affecting all creatures in a 5-foot-radius burst (Reflex DC 15 negates). The save DC is Charisma-based.
When devils succumb to the entropic energies of Limbo, the plane absorbs their fiendish essence and gives birth to a new sub-race of proteans known as anomiaks. Released from an eternity of servitude to Hell, these strange creatures obsess about overthrowing infernal rule. Often treated as neophytes by other proteans, anomiaks make up for their lack of shapeshifting abilities with the uncanny power to distort language, subvert logic, and dissolve contracts, allowing them to unravel the foundations of Hell itself. Left to their own devices, anomiaks playfully combine sounds and syllables into new words and phrases that mortals find impossible to pronounce, let alone comprehend. Some scholars speculate that the multiverse itself speaks through their seemingly erratic ramblings.
Anomiaks sometimes share physical features with devilkind, such as bat wings or cloven hooves, as if to mock their infernal origin.
Jacob W. Michaels
Congratulations to the Top 6 monster designers; we had a lot of great entries, but these rose to the top. For my comments, I'm including what were, for the most part, my stream of conscious thoughts as I read each monster (edited slightly for public consumption).
A search on the name seems to be completely made up. Description's good. The rest of the write-up on the other hand is excellent. Love that we finally got a non-devil (NOTE: this was the first non-devil that was submitted to the contest). And I really love the idea of "the uncanny power to distort language, subvert logic, and dissolve contracts, allowing them to unravel the foundations of Hell itself." That's playing with what we wanted to see in this contest, without a doubt. I get some idea how to use these things, and I think it'd be a lot of fun to run one of these and make up words like strategery.
Template use looks pretty good. It's missing the constrict and grab special attacks that proteans are supposed to have, as well as change shape, though the latter is called out in the write-up. These things are pretty tough -- they line up with the standard numbers for CR but also have fast healing 5 and SR. That said, if they're anti-devil, I think it's possible they'd end up as tenuous allies for a typical party, instead of definitely a threat to be fought.
Devilbane's a fine, thematic power though not likely to come into effect for most PCs. I'd have liked to see it maybe extended to devil-born tieflings, infernal bloodline characters and others with some sort of link to Hell (like the legalistic oracle curse).
Entropic cipher on the other hand could really mess with players who use scrolls. Fun power. Makes me want to go look at the infernal contract article in the recent Hell's Rebels path to see how they would interact.
Glossolalia is fun too. It could get annoying (there's a reason "mute" is not given as an oracle curse intended for PCs), but it's not a super high save DC and you get to make it again every day.
Warpwave's again fitting (though you can't use page numbers for Paizo books unless you're writing for Paizo).
Congratulations on making the Top 6! I'm just going to jump into the monster and give my feedback.
The description gives me a great idea of what to expect with this monster. It only covers one sense, but it does so in a very evocative way. Proteans are always CN, and the shifting symbols back up the chaotic nature of the creature.
The stat block looks clean. Its save bonuses, attack bonuses, damage, and save DCs conform to the CR. I appreciate that the damage skews toward the low end, since this is not a martial creature. It does extra damage against devils, of course, but that doesn't typically affect PCs. The spell-like abilities fit the creature's concept. It has the typical abilities for a creature with the protean subtype, except for grab, constrict, and change shape, but not all proteans have all protean abilities (because they're so chaotic, evidently). You also reference their lack of shapeshifting to fit them into protean "society".
The special abilities are where the anomiak really shines. They all fit thematically and they have some cool and unusual effects. I really like the idea that their chaotic nature makes them a living Tower of Babel. Having its erase trigger a warpwave is a terrific choice.
Their origin works very well for me, and I like that they become obsessed about defeating their former kin. Devilbane and their subverting of words and text make them truly formidable foes for devils, but they also make terrifying encounters for non-devils (especially spellcasters).
This was my personal favorite submission of the bunch.
Thanks for submitting a monster, and congratulations on making the Top 6! Below are some comments on your entry.
The description is evocative and gives me a pretty good idea of what the creature looks like.
The stat block looks correctly formatted except for the semi-colon in Skills, and the comma before fast healing should be a semi-colon. I also noticed that the em dash in 1/day—divination is italicized, which makes it look slightly different from the other em dashes. That is a very small mistake, but since your formatting is already almost perfect, I wanted to mention it so you can make your stat block formatting even better in future entries you write. Also, it's often the smallest mistakes that are the easiest to miss in development.
Its stats seem appropriate for a protean that opposes devils, language, and logic. I like it that it has Combat Reflexes and Lunge as they make the creature more interesting to fight than just giving it +X feats. I also very much like it that it's a tongue attack that causes glossolalia; there is some delicious irony in that.
I think it's uncommon for the Organization line to list stronger creatures as a "plus". Usually it's minions, I think. Besides, no other types of proteans seem to form groups with proteans from different castes, so I think it's quite un-protean-like for the anomiaks to band together with naunets and imenteshes. At any rate, babble is a great name for a group of these creatures.
Devilbane seems appropriate, but I'm not entirely convinced that it should be an Ex ability. A naunet's very similar adaptive strike, for example, is a Su ability.
Entropic cipher is a very evocative and thematically appropriate ability. It probably won't have a major effect in a combat encounter, because scrolls are the only type of writing the PCs (or devils) are likely to use during a fight. After the fight, of course, it's going to inconvenience the party if the wizard tries to use his spellbook.
Glossolalia, on the other hand, is likely to make life more "interesting" for spellcasters, and even if a PC doesn't rely on words to use her abilities, it's going to cause interesting RP in the party. (Anybody remember Haley Starshine from the OotS?)
Unravel is another evocative and thematically appropriate ability, and an interesting variation on how the warpwave is triggered. However, I'd probably make it a Fort save because you're trying to resist a transformation.
I think you chose the concept for the monster very well. Most of the entries we received were either denizens of Hell and/or allies of Hell, and I really like it that you didn't pick the most obvious option. However, I'm not entirely convinced that a protean--a being of purest chaos--could form from something lawful like devils.
The entry describes their goals pretty well, but I'd probably include something that a GM could use as plot hooks or encounter ideas with a normal party of PCs. Maybe these proteans oppose any creatures that carry books or scrolls (maybe they can even smell paper or papyrus from afar?). These creatures could also potentially be temporary allies for PCs who are also enemies of Hell. Giving them a dual role as potential enemies and allies of PCs would make them a lot more useful for GMs than a creature that only attacks devils and cares little about anything else.
A monster entry should include the creature's weight and height/length, by the way.
Despite the minor flaws, this was one of the most polished entries we received this year.
Congratulations on being selected for the top six monsters! Monster contests are a blast, so I hope you had fun coming up with this cool critter. When judging, I’m not going to focus too much on the mechanics and making sure it hits all the numbers on Table 1–1 in the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary (because I’m sure one of the other judges will cover that). Instead, I’m just giving my gut opinions on the monster and focusing on the style and formatting. With that said, on to the comments!
I admit I wasn’t expecting a protean in this batch of monsters related to or associated with Hell. Points for thinking about the theme in a different way.
For the most part, your statblock is pretty clean. The only formatting error that jumped out was that you didn’t move the second option melee attack to the next line and indent it.
I like the special abilities you gave the creature. The devilbane ability is crucial for this protean to even be considered matching the rules for the contest, but the good stuff comes from entropic cipher and glossolalia. Those are fun abilities and I like that they work to give the creature a way to mess with the spoken and written word.
I’m concerned that giving a CR 5 protean a warpwave ability is a bit too much. If the CR 7 naunet protean doesn’t have a way to make a warpwave happen, I don’t think that a CR 5 protean should be able to.
Somewhat related, I’m curious why you didn’t give this protean change shape? While not every creature has to have every ability listed in the subtype, change shape seems like something every protean should have. The CR 2 voidworm even has it. I know that it’s written that its ability to mess with language is to compensate, but I don’t see that as a trade off. It could have both abilities and still fit the listed CR.
This is a fun monster and it was unexpected, though I’m not entirely sold on its fascination with killing devils and overthrowing infernal rule. This is certainly a good effort.