Anaralante, Priestess of the Fallen Flame CR 8 - Chris Harrell

edited July 7 in DesignFinder Chat
Anaralante, Priestess of the Fallen Flame CR 8
XP 4,800

 

Female elf inquisitor (heretic) 7/rogue (investigator) 2 (Advanced Player’s Guide 38, 133, Ultimate Magic 45)
CE Medium humanoid (elf)
Init +7; Senses low-light vision; Perception +16

 

===== Defense =====

AC 25, touch 18, flat-footed 20 (+4 armor, +3 deflection, +5 Dex, +3 shield)
hp 78 (9d8+34)
Fort +8, Ref +11, Will +8; +2 vs. enchantments
Immune sleep; Resist fire 10
Defensive Abilities evasion

 

===== Offense =====

Speed 30 ft.
Melee +2 flaming burst morningstar +16/+11 (1d8+3 plus 1d6 fire)
Ranged  mwk composite longbow +12/+7 (1d8+1/x3)
Special Attacks bane (7 rounds/day), sneak attack +1d6
Inquisitor Spell-Like Abilities (CL 7th; concentration +9)
    At will—detect alignment
    8 rounds/day—discern lies
    5/day—fire bolt
Inquisitor Spells Known (CL 7th; concentration +9)
    3rd (1/day)—greater magic weapon, nondetection
    2nd (4/day)—bloodhoundAPG, flames of the faithfulAPG, invisibility, undetectable alignment
    1st (5/day)—cause fear (DC 13), shield of faith, tireless pursuitAPG, true strike, wrath
    0 (at will)—daze (DC 12), detect magic, guidance, light, read magic, resistance
Domain Fire

 

===== Tactics =====

Before Combat Before a patrol, Anaralente casts greater magic weapon. She prepares for combat by casting shield of faith and flames of the faithful.
During Combat While she always has a pool of minions, Anaralante prefers a blunt approach to combat over delegation. She wades directly into combat, lashing out with her morningstar utilizing her judgement of justice ability. She tends to have a suicidal focus on one target, picking whatever opponent she deems to be the most criminal. If possible, she keeps her targets alive for later interrogation, using her street-fighting experience to grapple enemies before restraining them with her manacles.
Morale When Anaralente falls below 20 hit points she switches to her judgement of escape to hide and escape. If necessary, she will use a tanglefoot bag to encumber pursuers, although she prefers to save these for her own prey.
Base Statistics Without greater magic weapon, flames of the faithful, shield of faith, and judgement of justice Anaralante’s statistics are AC 22, touch 15, flat-footed 17; Melee mwk morningstar +13/+8 (1d8+1)

===== Statistics =====

Str 12, Dex 20, Con 15, Int 12, Wis 15, Cha 8
Base Atk +6; CMB +11; CMD 22
Feats Agile Maneuvers, Combat Reflexes, LookoutAPG, Precise StrikeAPG,Toughness, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (morningstar)
Skills Bluff: +13, Disguise +11, Intimidate +10, Knowledge (local and religion) +13, Perception +16, Sense Motive +18, Spellcraft +13, Stealth +19
Languages Common, Elven, Goblin
SQ cunning initiative, elven magic, follow up, hide tracks, judgement (3/day), lore of escape, rogue talent (hard to fool), solo tactics, stern gaze, track +3
Combat Gear caltrops, potion of cure moderate wounds, scroll of searing light, tanglefoot bags (3), wand of interrogationUM (20 charges); Other Gear +1 heavy steel shield, +1 studded leather, belt of incredible dexterity +2, cloak of resistance +1, elixir of hiding, elixir of truth, masterwork composite longbow, masterwork manacles, masterwork morningstar, spell component pouch, 66 gp

 

Despite calloused hands and a nose broken many times, Anaralante was once a lovely, and meticulously tidy, elf woman. She grew up an orphan on the streets of Hraungard where, despite extreme hardship, her youthful resolve kept her from giving up hope for her city. When she came of age she joined the House of the Sun, a temple of light and order, to enter the ranks of her heroes.  Her skills and passion led her to the life of an inquisitor, fighting crime on the streets she once slept on.

 

Yet after a century of service, seeing her city give in to its darkest urges while corrupt officials looked on, wore at her steadfastness. She progressively took matters into her own hands, hunting the streets at night while adopting a more tyrannical approach to crime fighting. Passion became bitter obsession, and her fastidious ways degraded. When her mentor confronted her during one of her nightly outings, she murdered him while he professed the forgiveness of their goddess. It was then that she sought out a new patron, discovering a forgotten tome proclaiming a god of the relentless Sun, one without mercy for his enemies. She has turned to this deity of savage warfare, and a new god is now worshipped in the House of the Sun.

 

Gathering a hidden following, she commands her patron’s worshippers in her shadow war to eradicate anyone and everyone she deems unworthy of life, increasingly losing sight of any justifications for her trail of bodies whilst creating cancerous divisions within the temple.

Comments

  • Kim's Note: The instances of APG and UM were all correctly formatted as Superscript, but this doesn't seem to translate over to the forums, where Superscript is not functional.
  • edited July 7

    Hello Chris, 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.

    Anaralante has a sensible motivation in becoming disillusioned by her experiences as a member of the House of the Sun. This makes her somewhat sympathetic, even though she has become an unrepentant murderer. She has become a vigilante because the people she sees in power do nothing to stop injustices.

    She has solid plans to achieve her goals. She has gathered a following, which helps her achieve her goals. It’s hidden, though, so it seems like the new deity she and her followers worship are unknown to the rest of the House of the Sun. I could see the PCs becoming interested in a bunch of murders piling up, and perhaps Anaralante could target one of the PCs. However, I’m not clear on whom she targets, and her end goal is not spelled out. Whom does she deem unworthy of life? When will she stop killing? For me, this comes dangerously close to her killing for the sake of killing.

    The stat block supports her motivations and general plans. I like that you chose the heretic archetype, since it makes sense for her to attack those she views as enemies of her new faith. The investigator archetype allows her to track down her enemies and make surprise attacks.

    Overall, I found Anaralante to be a sympathetic psychopath, which is a great way to present a villain. Perhaps some morally grey PCs would agree with her methods. However, her overall plans do not come together for me. Finally, this could have done with a proofread (you’ve got some passive voice and a run-on sentence in the flavor text). I do not recommend Anaralante advance to the next round.

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

    Edited to remove notes about formatting issues.

  • A note here - regarding the Resist and the missing italics. Those were done correctly in Chris' submission - they did not transfer over when it was moved from the email to the forums. That is my mistake, as I had to redo the submission manually, and obviously missed that. It has now been fixed.
  • 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 this might be the only entry of the Top 8 that fleshed out an NPC named in the text of the adventure location, and it’s neat to see you digging deeper into your created world.

    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. Anaralante is probably too tough for a CR of 8. Her AC is a full 4 points higher (consistent with a CR 11 monster), and her attack bonus looks only a little bit high, but as she’s quite likely to turn on her bane weapon property and justices to attack, her attacks are too powerful as well. The risk is that she’ll overpower PCs appropriate for a CR 8 encounter, and a villain built to overpower them is not fun.

    Be careful to not include page numbers to your sources, as you did at the start of your entry. The Compatibility License doesn’t allow third-party publishers to do that. Only do that in work you do directly for Paizo.

    I haven’t done a deep dive on the stat math, but an elf can only have a Con of 15 at this level (and with this gear and spells) if it started with a 15 in the first place; in that case, her Dexterity is too high. This makes me suspicious enough at the math to want to rebuild the whole character, and that’s not a great use of developer time. Be sure to check and double-check your own math, as that lets your developer focus on making your work even more awesome, rather than having to check your math.

    You have a few misspellings; I want to spell judgment with an extra “e” all the time, myself. (Let me tell you, that was particularly problematic in my previous career as a lawyer!)

    You focus a bit too much on backstory, which is a problem I’ve seen with a lot of villains, but even your quick version of the backstory leaves a lot of questions, and needs to be tighter. (Was going out at night somehow frowned upon? How did she get the authority to create divisions in theology in the House of the Sun?) The few sentences devoted to her current actions and plans are insufficient to make clear how she might run afoul of the PCs, although if she deems them “unworthy of life” somehow, they might make her hit list, perhaps? Her Tactics aren’t much help here, as that states she has “always has a pool of minions” (whom?) and targets the PCs she finds “most criminal” (in what way?)

    Finally, I’m opposed to the assumption that a woman with calloused hands and a broken nose can’t be lovely. To quote Nelson Algren about my native Chicago: “Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real.”

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

  • First of all, Chris, 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.

    Most of my favorite villains are more complex, characters that don't think they're the bad guy but rather believe they're doing good for the world. Anaralante fits that description, and to me at least feels like a fully fledged villain. I like how her being an elf plays into it; having a century to stew over the problems in the city and change her perspective seems to resonate, adding depth to her story.  Unfortunately, though, we don't really know what she considers criminal, which makes it much harder to judge how she would come to the attention of/interact with the PCs. The write-up mentions corrupt officials, but it's not clear if she's just become so zealous that she kills folks for streetwalking, if she's engaged in an "Arrow"-like campaign against those more powerful folks who've failed the city, both, or neither. Perhaps there's something more she wants to do as the first (?) new/current follower of this god of the relentless Sun, which appears to be an unknown deity based on the way you've described him. While background often plays an important role in defining our villains, I think there was room here (and in the Tactics section) to trim a bit to get a little more specific about what Anaralante hopes to accomplish.

    Speaking of the stat block, I think there are some errors in it: I didn't do a full dive into the mechanics, but tried to do some spot checking, and your stat array appears to be off. An NPC with class levels should start with an array of 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, and 8, but even accounting for her belt and level changes, I'm not seeing how you got Anaralante's final stats. I'm not sure the build quite supports the tactics you indicate either -- it says she grapples enemies, but she doesn't have Improved Grapple, and she carries a heavy shield.

    Despite some concerns about wanting to know more about her goals and some errors in the stat block, I think there's a lot of potential for Anaralante to be a memorable villain. I do 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.

  • Congratulations on making it to Round 3! You've definitely entered rarefied company.

    I am not a judge. I am not rating you on your stat block design or spelling (unless it really needs mentioning or I'm confused) and I'm just one person reading, voting, and enjoying your participation and contribution ... and possibly, also somewhat jealous at your success/furious at the judges' lack of recognition towards my obvious genius that I didn't even pass Round 1 (don't worry, I'll take it out on you all equally).
    So I am just going to stick to the basics of how easily I could use your villain or run it with the personality and goals you've provided.

    Your villain has a believable story.  She fits into the setting you've provided and also works well enough with the plot described in the map you chose in regards to a cloud-shrouded area with some sun-worshiping overtones but a bit of a problem between the upper and lower sections of the dynamic. I feel her youthful optimism morphing into brutal extremism matches that. Her physical description fits that of a scrappy street youth, fighting for everything and later a tough-as-nails enforcer (or just later, as a tough-as-nails enforcer if she was still 'purty' when she joined the church).

    You've described her as a leader type, having some minions at her command and also how she prefers to confront problems. I always enjoyed the inquisitor class's solo tactics ability and enjoy seeing good use of teamwork feats that allow them to benefit from nearby allies (even if the allies don't get any benefit). Your choices are solid enough, in tactics, I might have liked to know which was the first teamwork feat and which was the second, since her inquisitor ability allows her to swap out the most recent one and maybe mentioning that in x situation she trades [Lookout/Precise Strike] for [other interesting teamwork feat that would be creative and useful in that situation]. As a GM, I'd probably try and have Lookout be the swap-able one currently, since that tends to lose benefit after initiative, but that's me.

    Other than that, I get puzzled that you are adding your +2 profane justice judgement bonuses to your melee attack listing but not to your ranged attack listing with your bow (looks like just 6 BAB + 5 Dex + 1 mwk). I get that she tends to wade in, according to tactics, and maybe that's just how stat blocks work, but it puzzles me that both melee and ranged aren't taking into account the same bonuses.  Also, it looks like your masterwork composite longbow is taking advantage of her +1 Strength modifier, so presumably it's a [+1] bow (I am not totaling up gear and equipment values or wealth or anything, and it's a piddly enough amount that I don't care), but it looks like the bow should be listed as a '(+1 Str)' bow in the Other Gear section to indicate this.

    Again, congratulations on your success to this point.  I look forward to seeing how things progress and what you do in the future.

    ----------------------------------------------------------
    There are some things I wanted to ask of others here (not the author, since he can't comment or point out things in a manner that might affect the voting). I don't want to call something out as a mistake if it turns out to be not be the case, so if someone could help me clear up my observations before I do my voting I'd appreciate it.

    1. As a 7th-level caster, wouldn't greater magic weapon only give a +1 enhancement bonus to the masterwork morning star, making it a +1 flaming burst morningstar when used with the flames of the faithful spell?
    2. How is the villain adding Dexterity to the morningstar attacks? I see Weapon Finesse, but I didn't think that applied to a morningstar and that's the only way I am adding up to the numbers listed is by assuming Dex is being added instead of Str. If that isn't the case, I don't see a need for her to have Weapon Finesse at all.  Am I overlooking a trait, ancient elven secret racial ability, or class feature that applies here?

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