Thrissik CR 7 - Nicholas Hite

edited July 2018 in DesignFinder Chat


XP 3,200

Female giant spider rogue (scout) 4 (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 258, Advanced Player’s Guide 134)

NE Medium magical beast (augmented vermin)

Init +6; Senses darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 60 ft.; Perception +15

===== Defense =====

AC 22, touch 17, flat-footed 16 (+4 armor, +1 deflection, +6 Dex, +1 natural)

hp 67 (9d8+27)

Fort +8, Ref +11, Will +2,

Defensive Abilities evasion, trap sense +1

===== Offense =====

Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.

Melee bite +14/+9 (1d6+4 plus poison)

Special Attacks sneak attack +2d6

===== Tactics =====

Before Combat Thrissik drinks her potion of mage armorpotion of haste, and potion of greater magic fang before combat.

During Combat Thrissik leap-charges the least physically imposing target from the top of the obsidian pillars to activate her Death From Above feat. If her target tries to disengage, she follows them with Step Up and Strike. On the following round she withdraws to the jungle to hide and recover her health with potions. She will always attempt to re-engage combat by charging from an elevated position. She will not kill an incapacitated humanoid opponent, as she plans to sacrifice them to the Obsidian Spider after the battle.

Morale Thrissik will drink her potion of invisibility and flee when she reaches 20 hp, unless her opponents are attempting to damage the Obsidian Spider, in which case she fights to the death.

Base Statistics Thrissik’s AC includes +4 armor bonus from potion of mage armor, and her bite attack includes +2 to hit and damage from potion of greater magic fang. Her stats do not include the bonuses from potion of haste, which will last the first 5 rounds of combat.

===== Statistics =====

Str 14, Dex 22, Con 16, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 2

Base Atk +6; CMB +8; CMD 24 (36 vs. trip)

Feats Death From Above, Following Step, Step Up, Step Up and Strike, Weapon Finesse

Skills Acrobatics, +25, Climb +29, Craft (weaving) +9, Escape Artist +17, Knowledge (nature) +10, Perception +15, Stealth +21, Survival +17

Languages Common

SQ rogue talents (expert leaper, fast stealth), trapfinding +2

Combat Gear potions of cure serious wounds (3), potion of greater magic fangpotion of hastepotion of invisibilitypotions of mage armor (2); Other Gear silk bandolier, ring of protection +1

===== Special Abilities =====

Ambush Leaper (Ex) Thrissik may leap down onto an opponent from above as part of a charge. If the opponent is flat footed against her, she may attempt to trip them as a free action. This does not provoke an attack of opportunity.

Poison (Ex) Bite—injury; save Fort DC 19; frequency 1/round for 4 rounds; effect 1d2 Strength damage; cure 1 save.

Scout’s Charge (Ex) Whenever Thrissik makes a charge, her attack deals sneak attack damage as if the target were flat-footed. Foes with uncanny dodge are immune to this ability.


Thrissik was once like any of the other giant spiders that were drawn to the power of the Obsidian Spider statue, until she distinguished herself as the most effective and brutal hunter in the swarm. The malevolent minds within the statue manifested the very last of their power to awaken her as their champion, and tasked her to sacrifice humanoids in the red pool before the Obsidian Spider. Sufficient deaths will bring the statue to life to wreak bloody vengeance on the world from which its occupants were driven. Cunning and vicious, Thrissik has been capturing any humanoid that wanders the jungle for sacrifice, and has looted from them a sizable collection of potions which she wears slung in a bandoleer woven of her silk, and a single ring of protection that she wears jammed onto one of her pedipalps.


  • Hello Nicholas, and welcome to the Top 8!

    I’m looking at three primary aspects when reviewing the villain. First, I want to see a strong motivation for the villain. The villain has to have a compelling reason for what he/she/it does beyond “I’m eeeevil.” Next, the villain has to have some kind of plan to achieve its goals. The PCs should have a reason to hear about the villain and seek the villain out. A villain that just waits for its victims/foes to show up is unexciting. This is also where I’ll look at the villain’s suitability for the chosen location. Finally, the stat block has to support the above two points. I’ll consider mechanics and formatting as well when reviewing the villain.

    Thrissik’s motivation is appropriate for an awakened spider (minor quibble: awaken doesn’t typically work on vermin, but it’s the closest thing to what you’re going for) beholden to the cult. She wants to feed victims to the Obsidian Spider to animate it and destroy everything not belonging to the cult.

    Her plans to achieve her goals falls flat for me, though. She just waits for victims to wander by and attacks them. I would have liked to see her do something additional, like attract an army of spiders from her swarm.

    Thrissik’s stat block fits her role as an ambush hunter. I like that you incorporated her acquired potions in a bandoleer in the description, adding verisimilitude. I understand why you added scout’s charge as a special ability, but you could have omitted it to give yourself some extra words to expand on Thrissik’s plans. I’m surprised she no longer has her web special attack; nothing in the description indicates why she would have lost the ability. Also, in the base statistics section in tactics, one typically lists all the affected stats from the items she uses before combat (see the NPC Codex for examples). Finally, you should avoid future tense (“will always attempt,” “will drink,” “will last”) in the tactics, since using “will” adds an unnecessary word.

    Overall, I feel you did a fantastic job describing Thrissik in the few words you used, and I love the image of the silk bandoleer filled with potions. I wish she would have had a more proactive way to achieve her goals. I do not recommend Thrissik advance to the next round.

    Most of the above is subjective. The voters may take a different view than mine on your villain than mine. All the villains this round have been great, and many are a handful of edits away from excellence. Good luck in the voting!

  • Hello! I’m Ron Lundeen, a developer for Paizo Inc. and a frequent freelancer for several Pathfinder publishers. Congratulations on making the Top 8!

    When looking over a villain, I keep in mind the player perspective—more specifically, how the players at a table will interact with the villain. Are the mechanics of the villain sufficient to create a good encounter? Could a plot centered on finding or confronting the villain feel particularly heroic? Will the villain’s actions convey its motivation and goals?

    I think you’ve been brave in creating a villain out of a non-standard monster, but I was thrown off on my first read-through by why a giant spider would have class levels (or in Intelligence score) at all; it wasn’t until I was in the narrative that I realized this spider was awakened. That should have appeared right at the beginning, as “Female awakened giant spider rogue (scout) 4.” Although you never explained how a vermin got awakened in violation of the rules of the spell (which only affects animals and trees), you did properly note the creature’s type as “magical beast (awakened vermin),” I suppose.

    Although villains aren’t built the same way as monsters, it’s handy to look at the table on page 291 of the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary and check their stats. Monster Statistics by CR gives the expected toe-to-toe fighting ability of an opponent of a particular CR—with the caveat that NPCs often struggle to have as many hit points as the chart expects. For your monster, I have to give you credit for looking at what the stats are, not slavishly following the “adding class levels to monsters” rules, which sometimes can get some wildly incorrect CRs. Here, you have slightly fewer hit points and slightly better AC than a CR 7 monster. Your attack bonus is just about right, as is your expected damage output (assuming sneak attack). So CR 7 feels like the right place for this, with a couple of exceptions. First, your poison DC is wrong, and the correct DC (10 + 1/2 racial HD + Con is 15) on the low side. Second, Thrissik’s Will save is almost comically low. Since she doesn’t enjoy the vermin immunities anymore, expect mind-affecting spells to wreck her day if the PCs think to use them against a creature that looks like a big spider with a bandolier of potion vials.

    I don’t see a lot of clear actions against the PCs here; rather, I think I see them, but they’re obscured by your word choices. Thrissik “has been capturing any humanoid” before now, but is she still doing so? Will she try to do so against the PCs? Her Tactics section implies yes, but the description should build on this more. I don’t see anything other than a “just grab ya” monster here.

    Don’t use the future word “will” in your Tactics text (or any text, if possible); it’s a sign of weak writing and, most often, a wasted word. Don’t say “Thrissik will drink her potion when…”, say “Thrissik drinks her potion when…” or, even better, “When X happens, Thrissik drinks her potion.” Some of the best early writing advice I got was to do a word search for “will” in my text just prior to turnover, and you could benefit from this.

    Look at how Base Statistics are presented in other products. It’s very formulaic, saying “Without X, stats are ABC.” You didn’t do that here, so it requires some math to recalculate what happens if someone hits this villain with a dispel magic—something quite likely at this CR. You note that haste isn’t included because it only lasts 5 rounds, but it probably should be—this villain isn’t likely to be in a battle for more than 5 rounds anyway, even given her tactics of retreating, drinking a healing potion, and jumping back into the fray. 

    You needed another proofing pass; you have an errant comma at the end of your saving throws, a misspelling of “bandolier,” and you didn’t italicize a magic item name in your final sentence. You omitted the UC superscript for the Death From Above feat and the APG superscript for the Following Step feat and expert leaper rogue talent. I also can’t see where the Ambush Leaper ability comes from. These all show you haven’t been as careful as I’d prefer, and it makes me feel like I have to double-check some deeper fundamental design statistics. That’s more work as a developer, and the best way to get further freelance is to make your developer’s work as easy as possible.

    Finally, you left a lot of opportunity for description out of this entry; you used only about 620 words of your allotted 750 words. For this contest, I’m considering this only as a missed opportunity—as the assignment was for no more than 750 words and you met that. If you’re commissioned to write a piece freelance, the word count is not only something you shouldn’t go much over, it’s something you shouldn’t go much under. We assign word counts based on expected words on the page, and I can see getting 620 words for a 750-word assignment and thinking, “ugh, now I’ve got to do this person’s job to fill the rest of the page.”

    In all, I do not recommend this entry to advance.

  • First of all, Nicholas, congratulations on getting to Round 3. Ron and Mike have already offered some fantastic feedback, so I'm going to try not to duplicate what they've said.

    Arachnophobia's a real thing for a lot of folks -- look at all the spider-themed creatures Pathfinder offers already -- so a villainous spider feels like a great choice. It's got a built-in creep factor already for a lot of people. The idea of a giant spider that has a bandolier of potions and other magic items adds to that and I think will have a lot of players going, "Um, uh-oh. What the heck is this and why is it not acting like I expect it to." Unfortunately, I think Thrissik is a missed opportunity in a lot of ways. First of all, you've left more than 100 words on the table, as it were. You weren't required to have a minimum amount, but you had a chance to expand a lot more on what her plans and goals are (plus to specify the shrine affected her as awaken, which would have resolved the issue of her not being a legit target for the spell). As is, the plot and motivation are somewhat limited. While we know why she's capturing and trying to sacrifice creatures that enter the woods, will the PCs? Other than the potions, what's going to make the PCs invest in Thrissik as a villain as opposed to just a strange giant spider capturing creatures and hauling them off to its web to devour later?

    This is compounded in a sense by the stat block, where you list the abilities from the archetype, which typically isn't done (we assume GMs will look those up for themselves, which is why the source of the archetype is listed in the stat block). I didn't do a full dive into all the mechanics of the stat block, but tried to do some spot checking: Your ability scores also seem to be very off, from what I could tell. Monsters with class levels should receive +4, +4, +2, +2, +0, and –2 adjustments to their ability scores; and Thrissik should get +1 for being 4th level. (She gets Intelligence obviously from the awaken effect, but should also have a +1 Cha if we take the spell as it's normally treated.) From what I can tell, it looks like Thrissik got +4, +4, +4, +2, +1, +0. The ambush leaper ability appears to be new -- so is correctly laid out in that special abilities section, but also needs to be called out in the special attacks line and perhaps called out in the write-up as something she can do that's special for her. I think you had a chance to maybe also give her a couple other special abilities (which could have been explained as gifts from the shrine), such as a detect magic or aura sight ability of some sort. She could identify the potions through taste (via Perception), but how does she know her ring is magical, as opposed to presumably all the other rings she hasn't bothered to take.

    All in all, I'm afraid there are too many missed opportunities for me with Thrissik. I do not recommend this to advance. That said, this round especially I had a lot of difficulty deciding which entries should get my recommendations, so other voters may disagree with me.

  • Appreciate the feedback. Definitely a lot to work from, should I have opportunity to do this again.
  • I love quirky villains. PCs tend to remember that one quirky villain more than anything else and Thrissk's hit and run tactics and strange origin make her very interesting.
  • edited July 2018
    There's a feat in the PRD called Vermin Heart, that allows you to target vermin with any spell that would normally target animals. I figured it was reasonable that one of the spider-worshipers would be a druid with that feat, and since I wasnt statting out the spirity guys inside the obsidian spider itself, it could be left unsaid. I gather it should have been explicit? 

    I think the goof with the stats was that when rolling her int I used an average roll rounded up for each die (3.5 rounded to 4 for the 3d6) on her int, and again on the cha boost from being awakened, rather than adding the fractional dice together and then rounding the result. I also gave her a stat point for her 4 racial hit dice, which appears was a mistake.

    ronlundeen  - I was aiming more for mechanically correct (as well as that worked out) rather than matching against the target attack and defense characteristics for a monster of that CR. Obviously she ended up with a real low will save, as most rogue-types generally do. Do you feel it's more important to match up with the target values, and... I guess build in special abilities to handle weaknesses? I gave her a few pre-combat buffs to try to bring things up to par, this is an appropriate way to handle that?

    Giant spider has a section at the bottom that lists out that a jumping, rather than web-building spider, loses the web ability and gains a +8 racial bonus to jump. I considered putting "awakened giant jumping spider" as her species, and decided against it. I think that would have helped clarify things, but "giant jumping spider" isnt a monster type per se. Is it appropriate to adjust race/species titles like that when appropriate? 

    I think my biggest missed opportunity is not building out an active plan to advance her goals which would bring her into conflict with the PCs. They can obviously wander by and encounter her when they reach the statue, but she fits a more "guardian" archetype, because she rarely leaves the area. This is really a fundamental misunderstanding of what people were looking for from "villain."

  • edited July 2018

    Yes, I think you should have made the awakened connection more explicit, and you had plenty of words to drop a sentence or two to this effect.

    And to respond to your question to me: I find the target numbers allow you to spot glaring weaknesses, and you can probably count on PCs to exploit those, which might make your villain much easier than intended to defeat (although there are some exceptions--you might want to plan a low-Fort-but-high-everything-else villain who the PCs learn is particularly susceptible to disintegrate, for example, as a plot element). I would generally prefer to see special abilities or spell effects to handle those weaknesses. (A trick you can see used quite often, if you look: just about any villain that casts bear's endurance or uses a potion of bear's endurance before combat almost always does so to get their hit points closer to where they ought to be for a monster of their CR, and is almost always still just a little bit shy of it.)

  • Thanks Ron. The feedback through this program has been by far the most valuable part of the process. 
  • I'll also respond to your comments, Nick, but want to wait until after the final round...
  • All good man. 
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