Friday, September 15, 2017

Here Be Monsters 4: Out of the Primal World begins NOW

Having survived monsters from online wishes; Hell breaking loose; and from beyond the stars, Swords for Hire is getting ready for a battle between creatures from the mysterious realm of the fey!  

Here Be Monsters 4: Out of the Primal World, the fourth season of the annual Pathfinder RPG monster design contest from Swords for Hire Development, begins NOW!

We're calling on game designers to create a single monster with the theme "Out of the Primal World"—creatures whose origins tie to the strange realm of the fey. But there's a twist: Monsters may be any creature type EXCEPT fey. Five finalists will be picked 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 Jacob and Mike, as well as Joe Kondrak, who has made the list of finalists in the first three Here Be Monsters contests (and thus isn't eligible to compete anymore). Special guest judge Adam Daigle, a Paizo developer who has designed and developed hundreds of Pathfinder monsters, will return for his third year to add his comments before the finalists 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 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.
  • Rogue Genius Games: PDFs of Monster Menagerie: The Swarminomicon and Monster Menagerie: Troops.
  • Rusted Iron Games: Several PDFs from the Deadly Gardens series.
  • And automatic inclusion in the upcoming issue of Wayfinder, which is one of the best ways to get your work noticed by Paizo staff (the winning monster may be further developed by Mike and Mikko before submission).
  • Also, special thanks to sponsor Tommi Salama, who has again provided Here Be Monsters' contest logo.


  • Sept. 15: The contest begins NOW! 
  • Oct. 2: Submissions are closed at 2 p.m. Pacific daylight time. Judges Mikko Kallio, Jacob W Michaels, and Mike Welham convene to determine the top 5.
  • Oct. 9: The top 5 entries are revealed along with comments from Adam, Jacob, Mike, and Joe. Public voting begins.
  • Oct. 16: The voting ends and the winner is revealed shortly after!

Contest Rules 

Contest entries must adhere to the following rules.
  • Your monster must be 700-750 words.
  • Each entrant may submit one monster.
  • Your monster may not be fey.
  • 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 "Out of the Primal World." (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.
  • 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. PDT Oct. 2. 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 that helps GMs use the monster in adventures and campaigns.

Frequently Asked/Anticipated Questions

Q: Who's allowed to submit a monster?
A: Anyone who hasn't been in the finals of three Here Be Monsters contests. Other than that, 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 "Out of the Primal World" theme is up to you; but the strange realm of the fey is typically considered to be the original home of the gnomes, linnorms, and plant creatures, among others. Creatures may seem similar to those found back "home," but may be bigger, stronger, smarter, or in some other way stranger in the Primal World. Let your imagination go wild.

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 and 3,  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. 

Q: But wait, isn't Wayfinder set in Golarion?
A: Yes. Part of the development process will involve setting your monster into the campaign setting.

Q: Speaking of Wayfinder, I already sent in a monster there. Can I submit it to the contest too?
A: Unfortunately, no, as this could make things confusing for our friends at Paizo Fans United. You can still submit other monsters or another type of article to Wayfinder, of course.

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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