Monstrous Physique — Making Monsters, Part 3

Today we take the mass of offense and defense we made last time and give it some character! Special attacks and abilities can make your new creature very interesting and memorable. Let’s give your monster the pizzazz it deserves!
Once again, we’ll start with Kasama’s stats from last time.KASAMA THE INCOMPLETE CR 30??
XP 9,830,400
N dragon
Init +7; Senses low-light vision, darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +6
DEFENSE
AC 48, touch 17, flat-footed 41 (+7 Dex, +31 natural)
hp 705 (30d12+510)
Fort +36, Ref +26, Will +25
Immune sleep, paralysis
OFFENSE
Speed 70 ft., swim 100 ft.
Melee bite +48 (8d6+36/19–20), 2 claws +48 (6d6+36/19–20)
Special Attacks blasting breath, breath weapon, capsize
STATISTICS
Str 47, Dex 24, Con 45, Int 32, Wis 23, Cha 32
Base Atk +30; CMB +48; CMD 65
Feats Bleeding Critical, Critical Focus, Great Fortitude, Improved Critical (bite, claw), Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, 8 unassigned feats
Skills 6+Int (+11) per hit dice
SQ powerful strikes
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Powerful Strikes (Ex) Kasama applies twice her strength modifier to her natural attack damage.

First on our list is her breath weapon. To create this breath weapon, I’m going to look at the biggest, meanest breath weapon-er, the red dragon. A red dragon’s breath weapon scales up based on size and CR, up to a massive 24d10 fire damage for the CR 22 great wyrm red dragon. 24 dice is nice, but more damage is always more fun. Let’s kick it up to about 40 dice. They don’t need to be d10s, though, as most breath weapons are d6s and d10 damage dice for breath weapon is a special thing reserved for dragons. With Kasama’s volcanic theme, I’m tapping into a real life phenomena, the dirty thunderstorm. Essentially, whenever a volcano erupts, there is a good chance there are massive lightning storms with it. Awesome! Thanks to this, we’re giving her some electricity damage. Finally, as she is expected to be a kaiju, we’ll make her breath a line, reminiscent of all the other cool kaiju breath attacks. Thus, we get this:

60-ft. line, DC 42, 20d6 fire and 20d6 electricity, usable once every 1d4 rounds

It’s a little small, but that will change once Kasama grows up. It looks good for now, though. Let me pause for a moment to speak about damage for monsters. It can be difficult to gauge what the damage for a particular ability should be, especially if there is not a like ability you can reference. In this case, your best best is to look at spells. Spells like burning handsfireballharm, and lightning bolt are great references for this kind of thing. Look for a spell that would be around the creature’s range. Level 1 spells are good for CR 1 and 2 creatures, level 2 spells for CR 3 and 4, and so on. Generally, you’ll be looking at one damage die for every 1 HD or 2 HD, depending on how much damage you want. In this case, there is no Level 15 spells, so I kind of eyeballed it, giving us 20d6 for fire and electricity (a “20th level” fire and electricity spell).

Nobody tell him Kasama’s is bigger.

Next we move on to the Special Ability section. We created one special ability for her already, Powerful Strikes. This allows her damage to get close to what is recommended on Table 1–1. She’s still a little short, though. Let’s fix that. As Kasama is heavily fire themed, why not give her some extra fire damage? Maybe something like this:

Heat (Ex) Kasama generates so much heat that her mere touch deals additional 4d8 points of fire damage. Creatures striking Kasama with natural attacks or unarmed attacks are subject to this damage, but creatures striking with melee weapons do not take damage from its heat. This heat can melt or char weapons; any weapon that strikes Kasama is allowed a DC 42 Fortitude save to avoid destruction. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Melee bite +48 (8d6+36 plus 4d8 fire/19–20), 2 claws +48 (6d6+36 plus 4d8 fire/19–20)

With the Heat ability, Kasama’s damage moves up to 82, 75, and 75 average for each attack, giving us a total of 232 average damage per turn. This is pretty close to where we want her, so this is where we leave her for now. I have some extra things up my sleeve that will add to this down the road.

This is another instance where I’m happy to admit that this ability is blatantly stolen from somewhere else. Particularly, this is stolen from Xotani the Firebleeder, one of the Spawn of Rovagug which also has a fire theme. “Borrowing” abilities from other creatures is a really easy way to have a creature do what you want. For example, if you made a mind control themed creature able to dominate people with a simple touch, you could create a new ability or look to the succubus. The succubus energy drain ability does this almost perfectly, A simple reskinning by renaming the ability to Dominating Touch or a small tweak of the ability and you have a “brand new” ability without worrying about the mechanics. Someone else already did that work for you! Next on the theft list, is the firebleeding ability.

Firebleed (Ex) Kasama’s very blood is made of a magma-like liquid that is dangerous to her foes. Any attack that does more than 10 points of damage to Kasama causes the wound to erupt in a 30-foot cone of magma. This cone deals 1d6 points of fire damage plus an additional 1d6 points of fire damage for every 10 points of damage dealt by the attack. Thus, an attack dealing 22 points of damage results in a cone dealing 3d6 points of fire damage, while an attack dealing 49 points of damage results in a cone dealing 4d6 points of fire damage. Creatures affected by the cone may make a DC 42 Reflex save to take only half damage. Ranged attacks and any magical attacks that deal damage also cause this special ability to take effect. Kasama cannot firebleed at will, but might do so 15 times per round (an amount equal to its Constitution modifier). The save DC is Constitution-based.

This is one of my favorite monster abilities of all time. Not only is it just super cool, it’s super scary! Players striking Kasama are in for a big surprise the first time they attack her, especially the big damage dealers in the party. For somewhat complicated abilities like this one, it helps to add an example or two for ease of understanding.

Pictured: Rovagug upon learning how much I stole from his Spawn.

 

Last on our “to steal” list is an ability that comes from Kasama’s base creature.

Capsize (Ex) Kasama can attempt to capsize a boat or ship by ramming it as a charge attack and making a CMB check. The DC of this check is 25, or the result of the boat captain’s Profession (sailor) check, whichever is higher. For each size category larger than Kasama’s size, it takes a cumulative –10 penalty on this CMB check.

The dragon turtle has this neat little ability and it only made sense to port it over to Kasama. It isn’t a very powerful ability, but is very interesting. It is the kind of ability that inspires encounter ideas. A dragon turtle is cool but one that almost knocks over your ship, forcing you to struggle to keep the boat upright while also fighting the dragon turtle is memorable. We have one last ability, so this one I will make myself (sort of).

Blasting Breath (Ex) As a standard action, Kasama may spit a giant ball of flame and lightning to a point within 1,000 feet. This functions like a fireball except that it deals 20d6 fire damage and does not offer spell resistance. Upon erupting, arcs of electricity shot forth from the flames, striking all creatures within 60 ft. This functions as lightning bolt except that it deals 20d6 electricity damage and does not offer spell resistance. A DC 42 Reflex halves all of this damage. This ability shares the same recovery time as Kasama’s breath weapon and neither can be used during the 1d4 rounds of recovery time. The save DC is Constitution based.

Kasama has one means of ranged damage, but I think this other one would be helpful, too. This time around, I focused on an area attack. As I did with the breath weapon, I’m using fire and electricity damage here. Fireball and lightning bolt do exactly what I want for the purpose of this ability, so I referenced them for ease of use. However, this ability is kind of clunky and kind of difficult to read. It could stand some development for ease of use. In fact, let’s do that. With a bit of reworking, here’s the new blasting breath.

Blasting Breath (Ex) As a standard action, Kasama may spit a giant ball of flame and lightning to a point within 1,200 feet. The fire burns creatures in a 20-ft.-radius spread, dealing 20d6 fire damage. Arcs of electricity shot forth from the center, dealing 20d6 electricity damage to all creatures within 60 ft. A DC 42 Reflex halves all of this damage. This ability shares the same recovery time as Kasama’s breath weapon and neither can be used during the 1d4 rounds of recovery time. The save DC is Constitution based.

That’s a bit better. No reference to spells requiring extra time to look them up. No worry about spell resistance. It’s a shorter ability. Yeah, that looks good.

A quick note before I move away from special abilities is about save DCs. The typical calculation for a save DC is 10 + 1/2 a creature’s Hit Dice + an ability score modifier (usually Constitution). Again, Table 1–1 has the estimated DC for your creature, so it’s important to realize that a monster has many moving parts. If you decide your monster’s hp is a little low and you try to add more hit dice and Constitution, it could throw the DC of its abilities way off. In this case, you can instead look to other ways to determine the save DC. A lot of monsters use Charisma in place of Constitution for their save DCs, so that might be one option. However, that might not always work or make sense for your particular monster. You could instead use a feat like Ability Focus to get the DC where you need it if it’s close. As this part is focused on special abilities, though, maybe your solution is not to fix the DC, but your hp issue. You could make an ability that adds to your monsters hp, instead and then not worry about messing up the DCs! Special abilities allow for plenty of solutions to problems such as this.

The last thing for today is to finish up Kasama’s Statistics entry. There are a few things I’d like to tweak to get her where I’m content. First, I’m going to reduce her mental stats. As I imagine her more of a force of nature than an intelligent creature, Kasama can stand to be dumbed down a bit. She won’t be completely mindless, but she isn’t a super genius lava turtle either. Additionally, I’m turning up her Strength just slightly. This gives an extra +2 to hit and +4 to damage for each attack, bringing her average to 244, just shy of the recommendation.

Str 51, Dex 24, Con 45, Int 12, Wis 23, Cha 18

Next up are feats. She has some already, but needs the rest. I focus on adding more combat related feats, such as Improved Bull Rush and Combat Reflexes. There’s not much to say about feats other than that they should complement the creature’s theme. In this case, big, hulking beast gets big, strong attack feats.

Feats Awesome Blow, Bleeding Critical, Blind-Fight, Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Critical Focus, Great Fortitude, Greater Bull Rush, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Critical (bite, claw), Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Power Attack

A growing monster needs BIG feats.

Skills are important, too. Again, theme is important. Skills are one place you can give a creature an interesting twist. Granting an almost mindless creature ranks in Knowledge (religion) can set up an unexpected aspect to a creature. Perhaps all of the creature are zealots of a particular lost god, for example. Another thing to shoot for is to keep maximum ranks in all of your skills. It makes it simpler for your math and eases on your word count if you do. It’s not necessary, but it makes things a little simpler. One last thing to consider is racial modifiers. Animals are good at moving around in their natural environment, quasi-invisible creatures are good at hiding, etc. This is represented by racial bonuses, which can be as small or as large as you like. Pick something that makes sense. In this case, I figured Kasama would be good at hiding while swimming in lava.

Skills Diplomacy +37, Intimidate +37, Perception +39, Sense Motive +39, Stealth +17 (+25 in water), Survival +34, Swim +49; Racial Modifiers +8 Stealth in lava

Finally, we have languages. Mindless or low Intelligence creatures generally do not have any languages. Sometimes, such as the case with the Int 3 Tarrasque, a creature can understand a language, but not speak it. Languages are again up to you. For Kasama, I imagined her as a creature of reason, capable of being dissuaded from attacks if spoken with. For that, I gave her a decent array of languages mostly based on her draconic and fire themes.

Languages Aquan, Common, Draconic, Ignan

And with that, we are so close to completing Kasama. How does she look?

KASAMA THE MOSTLY COMPLETE CR 30
XP 9,830,400
N dragon
Init +7; Senses low-light vision, darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +6
DEFENSE
AC 48, touch 17, flat-footed 41 (+7 Dex, +31 natural)
hp 705 (30d12+510)
Fort +36, Ref +26, Will +25
Immune sleep, paralysis
OFFENSE
Speed 70 ft., swim 100 ft.
Melee bite +50 (8d6+40 plus 4d8 fire/19–20), 2 claws +50 (6d6+40 plus 4d8 fire/19–20)
Special Attacks blasting breath, breath weapon (60-ft. line, DC 42, 20d6 fire and 20d6 electricity, usable once every 1d4 rounds), capsize
STATISTICS
Str 51, Dex 24, Con 45, Int 12, Wis 23, Cha 18
Base Atk +30; CMB +50; CMD 67
Feats Awesome Blow, Bleeding Critical, Blind-Fight, Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Critical Focus, Great Fortitude, Greater Bull Rush, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Critical (bite, claw), Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Power Attack
Skills Diplomacy +37, Intimidate +37, Perception +39, Sense Motive +39, Stealth +17 (+25 in water), Survival +34, Swim +49; Racial Modifiers +8 Stealth in lava
Languages Aquan, Common, Draconic, Ignan
SQ firebleed, heat, powerful strikes
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Blasting Breath (Ex) As a standard action, Kasama may spit a giant ball of flame and lightning to a point within 1,200 feet. The fire burns creatures in a 20-ft.-radius spread, dealing 20d6 fire damage. Arcs of electricity shot forth from the center, dealing 20d6 electricity damage to all creatures within 60 ft. A DC 42 Reflex halves all of this damage. The save DC is Constitution based.This ability shares the same recovery time as Kasama’s breath weapon and neither can be used during the 1d4 rounds of recovery time.
Capsize (Ex) Kasama can attempt to capsize a boat or ship by ramming it as a charge attack and making a CMB check. The DC of this check is 25, or the result of the boat captain’s Profession (sailor) check, whichever is higher. For each size category larger than Kasama’s size, it takes a cumulative –10 penalty on this CMB check.
Firebleed (Ex) Kasama’s very blood is made of a magma-like liquid that is dangerous to her foes. Any attack that does more than 10 points of damage to Kasama causes the wound to erupt in a 30-foot cone of magma. This cone deals 1d6 points of fire damage plus an additional 1d6 points of fire damage for every 10 points of damage dealt by the attack. Thus, an attack dealing 22 points of damage results in a cone dealing 3d6 points of fire damage, while an attack dealing 49 points of damage results in a cone dealing 4d6 points of fire damage. Creatures affected by the cone may make a DC 42 Reflex save to take only half damage. The save DC is Constitution-based. Ranged attacks and any magical attacks that deal damage also cause this special ability to take effect. Kasama cannot firebleed at will, but might do so 15 times per round (an amount equal to its Constitution modifier).
Heat (Ex) Kasama generates so much heat that her mere touch deals additional 4d8 points of fire damage. Creatures striking Kasama with natural attacks or unarmed attacks are subject to this damage, but creatures striking with melee weapons do not take damage from its heat. This heat can melt or char weapons; any weapon that strikes Kasama is allowed a DC 42 Fortitude save to avoid destruction. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Powerful Strikes (Ex) Kasama applies twice her strength modifier to her natural attack damage.

Come back next week when bring Kasama up to size and figure out just what being a real Kaiju means. If you have any questions about making monsters (in either Pathfinder or Starfinder) leave them as a comment here, drop me a line at KnowDirection@hotmail.com, or send them to me on our Discord server. I’ll see you soon!

Luis Loza

Luis Loza is a developer at Paizo, working on the Pathfinder Campaign Setting and Player Companion lines. He's done freelance for Paizo Inc, Legendary Games, Rogue Genius Games, and more third-party publishers. His hobbies include gaming both tabletop and video, making jokes, obsessing over time travel, taking naps with Nova the cat, and walks with Heather the wife. He is eternally plagued with a hunger for tacos.

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