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.


  • 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 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).

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