Saturday, August 30, 2014

Interview: The Veranthea Codex Kickstarter

Mike Myler is back! This time I'm interviewing him about the Veranthea Codex Kickstarter, which launches on the 5th of September. I previously interviewed him about the Snow White Kickstarter.

Here Be Monsters: Some statistics from the first week

Here Be Monsters was announced a week ago, and there are still two more weeks left before the deadline! We want to be transparent about the contest, and that's why I'm posting some statistics about the first seven days, and discussing what we the judges do. The statistics are deliberately vague so that those who haven't submitted yet don't gain an unfair advantage.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Here Be Monsters contest begins on 23 August!

A Sword for Hire and the Freelance Forge proudly present:

Sponsored by:

Saturday the 23rd of August marks the beginning of a new Pathfinder RPG monster design contest!

We've got Sean K Reynolds on board as a guest judge. He is best known for his many TSR, WotC and Paizo credits, and many people also remember him as an RPG Superstar judge. Sean also publishes RPG products under his own imprint and teaches wondrous item & monster design.

Besides Sean, the judging panel consists of three RPG Superstar (repeater) finalists, Mikko Kallio, Mike Kimmel, and Jacob W Michaels, each known for their monster-crafting skills.


  • Aug 23: The contest begins! The open call is open for three weeks.
  • Sept 13: Submissions are closed. Our judges (Mikko Kallio, Mike Kimmel & Jacob W Michaels) convene to determine the top 5. 
  • Sept 20: Entries are narrowed down to top 5. Our guest judge Sean K Reynolds starts commenting on the top 5 entries. 
  • Sept 27: The top 5 entries are revealed along with comments from Sean, Mikko, Mike and Jacob. Public voting begins. 
  • Oct 4: The voting ends and the winner is revealed shortly after!

Contest Rules 

  • Rule 1: The word limit is 700 words. Each entrant may submit one monster. The monster should be presented in Pathfinder format, a template for which can be found below. Monster creation guidelines are given here. 
  • Rule 2: The deadline is 2 p.m. PST (5 p.m. EST) Saturday, Sept. 13. 
  • Rule 3: The monster must have been requested on the Bestiary 5 wish list thread on 
  • Rule 4: The entry cannot be or use a monster template (fiendish, lich, and so on). 
  • Rule 5: Entry cannot have class levels. 
  • Rule 6: Entries must be submitted via email to Include the monster's name in the subject line of the email.
  • Rule 7: All entries remain the intellectual property of their authors.


Thanks to our excellent sponsors, we have an amazing pile of treasure just waiting for the finalists to get their hands on!

The winner gets:
  • A print and PDF copy of The Book of Monster Templates, and PDF copies of 101 Not So Simple Monster Templates, 101 Variant Monsters and 101 Monster Feats, courtesy of Rite Publishing.
  • One of all of the following: a Mythic Monsters series PDF, a Beasts of Legend series PDF, and the Construct Codex, courtesy of Legendary Games.
  • A PDF copy of Scions of Evil, courtesy of Raging Swan.
  • A PDF copy of the Psionic Bestiary, courtesy of Dreamscarred Press.
Each of the runners-up gets:
  • PDF copies of 101 Not So Simple Monster Templates, 101 Variant Monsters and 101 Monster Feats, courtesy of Rite Publishing.
  • Any one of the following PDFs (finalist's choice): A Mythic Monsters series PDF, Beasts of Legend product, or the Construct Codex, courtesy of Legendary Games.
  • A PDF copy of Scions of Evil, courtesy of Raging Swan.
Our fifth sponsor Cartography by Tommi Salama designed our sweet Here Be Monsters logo—special thanks to Tommi!

In addition to the prizes, Mikko Kallio's A Sword for Hire blog offers to interview each of the top 5 contestants! Best known for 3PP interviews, Mikko's blog is something of a "Who's Who" of the 3PP industry. Get your name out there!

Frequently Asked/Anticipated Questions

  • Can I submit a monster I requested myself? No, it may not be a monster your requested yourself.
  • Can I choose a monster that hasn't been named, only described in the wish list thread? Yes, you can pick a monster that's only described. If you do so, please mention the post number in which the monster was described. When you click the link that has the date on it, the url changes in the address field so that you can see the post number.
  • Who's allowed to submit a monster? 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.
  • How many monsters can I submit? Just one. It's going to be hard enough to keep all the monsters from eating each other as is, and multiple monsters might overwhelm our holding pens.
  • What CR can my monster be? Your monster can be any CR from 1-20. Remember, though, that you only have 700 words, and higher-CR monsters may eat up all your words with describing special abilities, which could leave you limited space for describing it.
  • Do I have to use all 700 words? No. If you think you can make a compelling monster in just 500 words, that's fine.
  • What sources can I use for my monster? You may use any Paizo Pathfinder material other than Mythic Adventures (with so many rules and options, we want to have a common basis for judging and voting).
  • Can I set the monster in Golarion or another campaign setting? No. We do not have the rights to use anyone's intellectual property. Monsters should be developed to be setting neutral.
  • Can I give my monster class levels or templates? Nope; sorry.
  • Where will my monster be published/shown? The top 5 monsters will be revealed on Mikko Kallio's A Sword for Hire and Mike Kimmel's Freelance Forge blogs.
  • Do I get to see the judges' comments if I don't make the top 5? No; only comments on the Top 5 monsters will be revealed.
  • What happens with my monster after the contest? 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).

Monster Template

Copy-paste the following template into a Word or Open Office document for editing. You may send your monster in a file as an attachment, or copy-paste it directly into the email.

Before you submit, check that the formatting (bolded words, italics, etc.) matches the template and that you have replaced or deleted all the placeholder text (marked with [square brackets]) and placeholders for numbers (marked with ##). Also, remove any lines that you don't need (such as the Aura line if your monster doesn't have an aura).

Please do not include anything else in your submission. For example, explaining your math or design choices is not allowed.

[Description line of one or two sentences.]

[Monster Name] CR ##
XP ##

[Alignment] [Size] [type]
Init +##; Senses [sense], [sense]; Perception +##
Aura [aura name] (## ft., DC ##)

AC ##, touch ##, flat-footed # (+## [modifier name], +## [modifier name])
hp ## (##d##+##); fast healing ##
Fort +##, Ref +##, Will +##
Defensive Abilities ##/[ability]; DR ##/[material]; Immune [type]; Resist [type] ##, [type] ##; SR ##
Weaknesses [type], [type]

Speed ## ft., fly ## ft. ([maneuverability])
Melee [attack type] +## ([damage] plus [other effect]), [attack type] +## ([damage])
Ranged [attack type] +## ([damage])
Space ## ft.; Reach ## ft.
Special Attacks [type], [type]
Spell-Like Abilities (CL ##th; concentration +##)
At will—[spell name], [spell name]
1/day—[spell name], [spell name]

Str ##, Dex ##, Con ##, Int ##, Wis ##, Cha ##
Base Atk +##; CMB +## (+## [conditional maneuver bonus]); CMD ## (## vs. [maneuver name])
Feats [Feat Name], [Feat Name]
Skills [Skill Name] +##, [Skill Name] +## (+## [condition]); Racial Modifiers +## [Skill Name], +## [Skill Name] when [condition]
Languages [Language Name]
SQ [type]

Environment [climate] [terrain]
Organization [type], [type], or [type]
Treasure [category]

[Ability Name] (Ex/Sp/Su) [Ability description paragraph.]

[Monster description paragraphs.]

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Monster design tips: #1 There are many unwritten rules

I'll be posting a few monster design related articles throughout the week. The first one is about the unwritten rules of monster design.

The countdown begins!


The countdown to a big announcement begins today! I'll be posting teasers throughout the week, and next Saturday I'll reveal what I've been planning the past few weeks!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sellsword, part III: July-August 2014

There was no new weekly blog entry last Saturday, so I'm posting one now. Some details about my latest freelancing experiences!

Sean's RPG Design Course

It's now possible to purchase tickets to Sean K Reynold's online RPG design course. If you're interested in freelancing or the RPG Superstar contest, please check it out!

Sunday, August 10, 2014


It's been a busy week and unfortunately I didn't have the time to finish the article I planned for this Saturday. However, I can guarantee that something BIG, new, fun and interesting is coming up soon. And it's one of the reasons I've been busy lately.

And it's something that all my readers can be part of.

Stay tuned.

It's gonna be huge.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Interview with a Designer: Robert Brookes

This week I interviewed Robert Brookes (RPGSS 2014 top 4). I asked a few questions about RPG Superstar, maps, freelancing and his blog, the Encounter Table.

Welcome, Robert!

A Sword for Hire