Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Best of the beasts

With their Round 2 work done 10 days ago, the Superstar competitors have been focused on monsters for a while now. Even if they don't know the exact rules, they should have been practicing, and coming up with ideas for Round 3.

For the rest of us, though, now that voting on the maps is over and the Top 16 to be revealed shortly, it's time to turn out attention that way ourselves.

Monsters have long been a staple of Superstar, having apparently permanently supplanted villains in 2012 (which makes sense; while villains are also a staple of gaming, constructing an NPC with class levels isn't quite as challenging as making a monster from scratch). That means there are a lot of monsters to look back at.

First of all, some numbers from the contest's 80 previous monsters (data are from 2010 and 2012-14 but don't include 2009, when contestants were asked to make three thematically linked monsters and which included templates):


The following alignments have been represented in Superstar monsters:
CG: 2
NG: 1
LN: 2
CN: 12
N: 24
CE - 22
NE - 17

There have been no lawful good or lawful evil monsters, Until 2014, all the monsters had been neutral, chaotic neutral, neutral evil or chaotic evil.


Monsters haven't quite come in all sizes and shapes, with none being Gargantuan or Colossal. That's likely a factor of the CR, which since 2010 have never been allowed to be more than CR 7 (and other than in 2012, were always lower than that).
Huge: 3
Large: 20
Medium: 30
Small: 18
Tiny: 6
Diminutive: 1
Fine: 2


Aberrations have been the most common monster type, followed by magical beast. As with sizes, though, these numbers have likely been influenced a bit by restrictions: In 2012, monsters couldn't be a construct, dragon, ooze, or outsider.

Aberration: 15 (with 1 air, 4 aquatic and 1 incorporeal subtype)
Magical beast: 14 (2 cold, 1 swarm)
Fey: 12 (1 water)
Outsider: 8 (2 chaotic, 1 demon, 2 evil, 2 extraplanar, 2 incorporeal, 1 kami, 1 mythic, 4 native)
Plant: 6 (1 cold)
Undead: 6 (1 incorporeal, 1 water)
Construct: 6 (1 swarm)
Dragon: 5 (1 earth)
Ooze: 4 (2 aquatic, 1 swarm)
Monstrous humanoid: 3
Humanoid: 1 (1 giant)

Aquatic: 5
Incorporeal: 4
Native: 4
Cold: 3
Swarm: 3
Chaotic: 2
Evil: 2
Extraplanar: 2
Water: 2
Air: 1
Demon: 1
Earth: 1
Giant: 1
Kami: 1
Mythic: 1

And finally, a few of my favorite monsters from the competition over the years:
* 2010 was a slightly unusual year as contestants had to first come up with a concept and then in the next round actually stat up the monster. For me, Alexander H. MacLeod IV's ardorwesp really sang. There was just something about this creature and its description that stuck in my mind and made me think there's no way I would want to cross one of these (my Calistrian inquisitor might enjoy meeting one, though). I think it may be the implanted pupa — shades of "Aliens," anyone?
* Adam Donald's pyrebloom was probably my favorite of the 2012 collection. I really liked the use of the alchemist's bomb mechanics (alchemists were still relatively new at the time) but it was the tie-in to Golarion that makes this stick in my mind. This feels like something that feels completely natural for the setting, and it's a single line — "pyreblooms occasionally attract small tribes of goblin followers" — that really makes that happen.
* Scott Fernandez's yellowtongue hulk takes the prize in this round, with Sean McGowan's link in the thread really bringing home how creepy this is. Again, the author does a great job linking his creature to Paizo's iconic goblins, with the growth point mechanic being something fun to play with. Michael Eshleman's bloodroot vine's ruinous harmony with vrocks were another highlight from this year, Michael Pruess' egelsee cocktail is another one that feels like a Golarion-specific monster as opposed to a monster you just happen to find in Golarion.
* Mike Kimmel's chimney troll oddly didn't appear in any of the 16 encounters in this round despite being one of the round's best monsters. I would typically say it would be a big mistake to base a Superstar entry on an already existing monster, but this pulls it off. It's different enough from the core monster that it works as its own creature and the tie-in to Golarion is strong. 

So which creatures have been some of your favorites? Have you sicced any on your players, and if so, how were the results?

1 comment :

  1. Thanks for the breakdown, Jacob. Last year was my first year following the contest—the chimney troll was one of my favorites, too.


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