Monday, December 5, 2016

HBM3 Top 5: Voidweaver by Matt Roth

Hundreds of vaguely arachnid limbs hold a wiry, larvae-like woman aloft. The air twists around the otherwise limbless figure as she looks on with eight glittering, sorrowful eyes.

Voidweaver CR 6
XP 2,400
N Medium aberration
Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft., see in darkness; Perception +16
Aura graviton (60 ft., DC 17)

AC 19, touch 15, flat-footed 14 (+4 Dex, +1 dodge, +4 natural armor)
hp 67 (9d8+27); fast healing 2
Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +9
Defensive Abilities gravitational superiority; DR 10/magic; Immune cold; Resist fire 10

Speed 10 ft., fly 60 ft. (perfect)
Melee 4 claws +8 (1d6 plus implosion)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks gravityweave (+10 ranged, DC 17, 9 hp)

Str 11, Dex 19, Con 16, Int 14, Wis 16, Cha 11
Base Atk +6; CMB +5; CMD 19 (can't be tripped)
Feats Deflect ArrowsB, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Improved Natural Attack (claws), Multiattack, Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +16, Fly +24, Knowledge (planes) +14, Perception +15, Sense Motive +15, Stealth +16
Languages Aklo, Common
SQ no breath

Environment any (space)
Organization solitary or nest (2-6)
Treasure standard

Graviton Aura (Su) A voidweaver manipulates the flow of gravitons in a 60-ft.-radius, creating an area of objective directional gravity (of light, heavy, or normal strength). The voidweaver controls the gravity's direction and strength and may alter it as a full-round action. Creatures that enter the aura must make a DC 17 Will saving throw to control their personal gravity, treating the voidweaver's aura as subjective directional gravity for 24 hours. Creatures that make their save but do not actively control their movement (see Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Gamemastery Guide) treat this as an area of no gravity. Creatures may attempt a save each round they remain in the aura. The save DC is Wisdom-based.

Gravitational Superiority (Ex) Voidweavers are gravitationally independent and may choose to ignore any other gravity effect (such as planets or reverse gravity). A voidweaver gains Deflect Arrows as a bonus feat and, once per day when hit by an attack, can force creatures to make new saves against its graviton aura.

Gravityweave (Ex) Gravityweave is treated as the web universal monster ability with the following differences: it has a range increment of 60 feet with a maximum range of 5 range increments, is effective against creatures two size categories larger, imposes a –8 penalty to Fly checks, uses Wisdom to determine its DC, is incorporeal, and is invisible (requiring a DC 30 Perception check to spot the slight spatial distortion where they lie). Gravityweave may be layered over 1d4 hours to create an area of heavy, light, or objective directional gravity. Creatures that fail to notice the gravityweave and become entangled are immediately subjected to the gravitational effect. 

Implosion (Su) Once per round, when a voidweaver hits a living target caught in gravityweave, it can compress the gravitation field to deal extra damage. The creature takes 1d10+3 damage and must make a DC 16 Fortitude saving throw or be slowed (as the spell) for 1d4 rounds. The save DC is Intelligence-based.

Voidweavers are the result of bizarre gravitational tinkering by a group of too-curious wizards. Its arachnid-like protrusions are complex organs enabling voidweavers to spin gravity like a spider's web. Though not inherently evil, their voracious appetites, tendency to crush meals to balls of organic matter, and anomalous gravitational fields make them seldom appreciated. Voidweavers are capable of gravity-propelled, slumbering starflight, but most voidweavers that take to the stars form collective nests in asteroid belts to pull in passerby with vast nets of gravityweave. The average voidweaver stands 5 feet tall and weighs 110 pounds.


Congratulations on making the Top 5! Here’s some feedback on your monster.

The monster has a cool, evocative name that describes the creature pretty well. The description is flavorful and dynamic without assuming action or an observer.

The stat block is mostly correctly formatted. A few things I’d change, though. The Space and Reach line should be omitted because both are 5 ft. The hyphen in Organization should be an en dash.

I can’t figure out why the monster has Multiattack. Claws are primary natural attacks, and it doesn’t use them in a combination with manufactured weapons, so it doesn’t need that feat. The attack bonus should be +10 because they aren’t secondary weapons (and I think the CMB should be higher, too). Also, it doesn’t need Improved Natural Attack. When you design monsters, you can just decide that its damage die is one or more size categories bigger. I’d recommend feats that give the monster interesting combat options, such as Flyby Attack. Deflect Arrows is a great choice (but see further comments below).

Lastly, for such an awesome and flavorful creature, “nest” is a bit boring name for a bunch of these creatures.

The special abilities are my favorite part of this monster entry, and I think your monster has by far the coolest and mechanically impressive abilities of the monsters submitted in HBM3. I like it that they’re all thematically linked to gravity, and I think it’s an underused design space, so it’s a great choice. But what I like even more is that there are also interesting synergies between the abilities. (For future reference, everyone, this is one of the easiest ways to get a Keep vote from me.)

While I think the abilities are quite well written, I’d change a few things. Gravitational superiority says these creatures are gravitationally independent and may choose to ignore any other gravity effect, and then they gain the Deflect Arrows feat. Why? I assume they can cause gravity warps or bubbles within their aura, but their being gravitationally independent doesn’t explain why they have this ability to ignore one ranged attack / round. A voidweaver can force creatures to make new saves, but I’m not 100% sure if that happens when a creature hits the voidweaver or vice versa, and again, being gravitationally independent doesn’t explain why they can do this. The ability looks like a “Swiss army knife” to me, three abilities bundled as one just because three separate abilities would have eaten more of the word count, or something like that.

The implosion ability should probably mention that it’s a free action to compress the gravitation field.

If the gravityweave is incorporeal, is it even possible for a material creature to become entangled? For example, a ghost’s equipment “ normally for the ghost but passes harmlessly through material objects or creatures.” Ghost touch weapons, of course, work normally against both material and incorporeal creatures, but as-is, the web would seem to entangle only incorporeal creatures, which I think wasn’t intentional. Also, avoid passive sentences like “Gravityweave may be layered…”.

My least favorite part of the entry, the write-up offers little new information, and I think the backstory could be far more interesting than “the wizards did it”.

Overall, the voidweaver is a flavorful creature with innovative abilities. While the mechanics need a bit of fine-tuning, I think this creature has a lot of creative “mojo”. Thanks for submitting this awesome monster!

First of all, Matt, welcome to Here Be Monster's Top 5, and congratulations.

I think you've created a fun monster with the voidweaver; I'm a sucker for gravity effects and I think you handle them well here. The idea of an arachnid-esque monster weaving gravity feels very natural.

While your stat block is mostly clean, you do have a few missteps: You don't need a space/reach line when both are 5 ft. and you have different values for Perception in senses and skills, for example.

As I mentioned, I thought you did a good job playing with gravity in the special abilities. I'm not sure about the extra save in gravitational superiority — I feel like it's not really related to ignoring other gravity effects (unlike Deflect Arrows, which makes sense with the way you do it) — but otherwise none of the abilities feel like they're too obvious while also not leaving me feeling like it's missing something. Gravityweave is a nice way to use a UMR effect while tweaking it enough to make it feel like something new/unique.

My main issue with the monster comes in the write-up. There's some good information there (and nice writing/imagery, with them crushing their meals into balls of organic matter), but I'm not sure a GM has  enough information to use this monster. You mention that they have a voracious appetite but not really how they interact with other creatures; it feels like you want them to be eating machines but they also have enough Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma that they could presumably have some other sort of interaction with PCs.Will they just try to eat anything they encounter, or might they bargain for a better/easier meal?

I also chuckled a bit at the average weight note at the end — while that's often useful information, a creature that controls gravity can weigh whatever they want to...

Hi Matt and welcome to the top 5! We had a couple of gravity-based monsters, which makes a lot of sense given the theme, and the void weaver was one of the best to come through.

The stat block is quite clean, with only a couple of minor issues. “Natural armor” should just be “natural” in the AC block. Improved Natural Attack is not necessary; you can give a monster appropriate damage dice outside the typical value. Improved Natural Attack is typically something you apply to an existing creature you advance with class levels allowing you to add feats to the base monster. You could also have bumped up its Strength to increase its attack and damage rolls.

The voidweaver’s gravity-altering special abilities are cohesive and evocative. Save DCs are typically Charisma-based or Constitution-based, and there is no clear idea why you went the route you did for the Wisdom-based and Intelligence-based save DCs. Graviton aura is fun and presents a great challenge to characters who don’t make the save. Gravitation superiority makes sense, and I am glad you addressed gravity-based spells and effects. I’m a little unclear on why getting hit by an attack allows it to force new saves against its aura, though. Gravityweave and the related implosion ability are a nice tandem featuring cool gravity tricks. The implosion ability needs to add the kind of action (immediate, swift, free) the voidweaver requires to activate it, since it seems to be a conscious decision on the part of the creature. While you didn’t explicitly give it a special ability to travel the stars (saving a little bit for your write up), I appreciate you discussing it in the descriptive text.

I like the arachnid imagery for this and the gravity web-spinning adds to the excellent image. The implications of it compressing creatures into balls of flesh are gruesome, but appropriately so. I also enjoyed getting an idea of how a party can encounter voidweavers in space.

Good luck in the voting!

I’m going to be going over these monsters as if I was doing a quick development pass on them to note what is strong in the entry and what I’d need to address for a full development of the monster. This is usually the first step I take when developing a monster. I start with the descriptive text at the top of the statblock and then read the flavor text at the bottom before I go through the actual statblock. Then I do a quick look to see if it’s hitting the numbers it needs to in regards to table 1:1 in the Bestiary. After that I check out the special abilities and feats and skills and see how they all work with one another.

I really like the description line at the start. Then again, anything bug-like gets my attention. It also sounds really creepy, which is something else I like. I’d love to see art of this monster.

All of the relevant numbers seem to hit their mark. The offensive numbers are a little low, but all of the special abilities make up for that, specifically implosion.

I don’t see why the movement rate is so low with all those arachnid legs. The fast fly with perfect maneuverability looks like a good choice when going for the floating menace image.

Gravitational Aura: I see this more as a Fortitude save than a Will save, and I don’t see how it’s Wisdom-based. Regardless, it’s an interesting tactical ability.

Gravitational Superiority: This is a weird ability that actually contains three abilities. The last sentence of that ability is unnecessarily complicated as it blends two abilities and the last part of the sentence doesn’t clarify which creatures have to attempt a new saving throw against the graviton aura.

Gravityweave is a neat ability, and you did a good job of linking its effects to another UMR.

Implosion is interesting, but I could totally see it as a constrict attack with the slow rider still intact. That’s kinda how its worded anyway.

Adding the idea of them having a starflight ability in the flavor text is kinda weird and confusing, I enjoy the idea of giving the GM the ability to use these creatures in a greater role, but you should have just given them starslight as an ability in their statblock.

Rules language could certainly be tighter. Look at how other similarly-acting abilities are worded and use that language when designing new rules.



  1. I liked that this creature plays with gravity which would make for an interesting encounter, but I don't like the mechanics of the graviton aura special ability.

  2. Spidery gravity weaving monster is a great concept. I know there was limited space, but I wish we had a little more about this thing's past. 'Too-curious wizards' is fine, but are they a self sustaining race? Do they have culture of their own? Strange gravity art?

  3. Congratulations Matt!
    I skipped over your entry initially because I feel we had some parallel design in a few aspects, and I wasn't sure what to say in case I also made it in.
    So apologies for being somewhat brief. I love the weaver theme and how the abilities tie together.

  4. Cool monster.
    It made me look at utilizing gravity in games as an interesting option. I was a little uncertain on the motivations of this monster like Jacob noted.

  5. Overall, I really like the concept and theme, except for the last special ability. If you're going to name an ability "implosion," then it had better cause the target to implode, not just be "slowed for 1d4 rounds." That's a serious misnomer.

  6. I love the idea of this guy, especially the image of its limbs. Its the best of both worlds between tentacles and spider legs, and that's awesome. The implosion concept is great, and Deflect Arrows works well, IMHO. As others have said, that high intelligence could have featured in a truly scary monster description at the end, and I'd love to see what you come up with if you went back and wrote it again.

  7. This is my second-favorite, given the abilities, but ... isn't darkvision redundant with see in darkness? Also, wizards creating it by accident/incompetence isn't that compelling to me.

    (Also vaguely arachnid-like scared me off a bit; aside from AUGH SPIDERS why would something living in space use that many legs?)

    1. I noticed your question about darkvision and see in darkness. I wouldn't consider it a mistake. Most devils and divs, for example, have both of these abilities. Like outsiders, aberrations automatically gain darkvision 60 ft., so most of them have that ability even if they gain other special senses. There's one exception, though: blind creatures lose darkvision and other sight-based special senses.

  8. Thank you for consideration among the Top 5! For now, I'll simply say that I had a ton of fun designing this beastie and am proud to stand in such good company. Comments and thoughts and discussion all to come when the voting ends.


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