Chakussa Takshu’al CR 10 - Joe Kondrak

Chakussa Takshu’al CR 10

XP 9,600

Unique female drider ranger (wild stalker) 3 (Pathfinder RPG BestiaryPathfinder RPG Ultimate Combat)

CE Large aberration

Init +2; Senses darkvision 120 ft., detect good, detect law, detect magic, low-light vision; Perception +17

===== Defense =====

AC 23, touch 12, flat-footed 20 (+3 armor, +2 Dex, +1 dodge, +8 natural, –1 size)

hp 131 (12 HD; 9d8+3d10+75)

Fort +13, Ref +9, Will +9

Defensive Abilities uncanny dodge; Immune sleep; SR 18

===== Offense =====

Speed 30 ft., climb 20 ft.

Melee +1 obsidian longspear +14/+9 (1d8+7/x3 plus poison), bite +8 (1d4+2 plus poison) or bite +13 (1d4+6 plus poison)

Ranged mwk blowgun +9/+4 (1d3 plus poison)

Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft. (10 ft. with +1 obsidian longspear)

Special Attacks poison, web (+10 ranged, DC 20, 12 hp)

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 9th; concentration +9)

Constant—detect gooddetect lawdetect magic

At will—dancing lightsdarknessfaerie fire

1/day—clairaudience/clairvoyancedeeper darknessdispel magiclevitatesuggestion (DC 13)

===== Tactics =====

Before Combat Chakussa envenoms her longspear, and uses Stealth to sneak up on her enemies.

During Combat If Chakussa avoids detection, she envenoms and fires a blowgun dart before entering melee.

Morale Chakussa flees if reduced below 20 hit points.

===== Statistics =====

Str 19, Dex 15, Con 22, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 10

Base Atk +9; CMB +14; CMD 27 (39 vs. trip)

Feats Blind-fight, Dodge, Endurance, Power Attack, Vital Strike, Weapon Focus (bite, longspear)

Skills Acrobatics +8, Climb +27, Handle Animal +6, Intimidate +15, Perception +17, Spellcraft +13, Stealth +22, Survival +7; Racial Modifiers +4 Stealth

Languages Common, Elven

SQ envenom weapon, favored terrain (jungle +2), strong senses, track +1, undersized weapons, vermin empathy +12

Combat Gear obsidian-tipped blowgun darts (20); Other Gear +1 shadow leather armor+1 obsidian longspear, mwk blowgun, cloak of resistance +1, 8 obsidian gems (25 gp each)

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

Envenom Weapon (Su) As a swift action, a number of times per day equal to her Constitution modifier, Chakussa can envenom a melee weapon or piece of ammunition she holds with poison from her fangs.

Poison (Su) Chakussa’s fangs produce poison similar to that of a giant black widow spider, except it is supernaturally acidic. Red Hourglass Poison: Bite—injury; save Fort DC 20; frequency 1/round for 6 rounds; initial effect 2d6 acid damage and staggered; secondary effect 1d3 Con and staggered; cure 2 saves. The save DC is Constitution-based. 

Applying red hourglass poison to a weapon made of anything other than obsidian or a similar glass-like material deals 3d6 points of acid damage to the weapon (this damage is not halved, but the weapon’s hardness still applies).

Vermin Empathy (Su) This ability functions as a druid's wild empathy ability, save that it works only on vermin. Chakussa uses her Hit Dice as her effective druid level. Vermin are normally mindless, but this empathic communication imparts upon them a modicum of implanted intelligence, allowing Chakussa to train vermin and use them as guardians (although it does not grant them skills or feats).

Centuries ago on a remote jungle island, a wicked cult terrorized the island’s other inhabitants, hunting them like prey. Miscreants banished from their own tribes, the cultists worshipped evil spirits embodied in the form of spiders and other vermin. The cult’s fiercest disciple was Chakussa Takshu’al, a muscular human woman covered with red hourglass tattoos. One day, the cult’s enemies gathered in force and surrounded the cult at its secluded shrine. Cornered, Chakussa and the others chanted for salvation atop their most sacred monument, a colossal obsidian spider. As they chanted, they disappeared one by one, and a horde of giant vermin emerged from the jungle to destroy their enemies.  

Recently, a group of explorers discovered the ancient monument, and while surveying the site, one fell victim to the bite of a black widow spider. Upon the explorer’s death, Chakussa sprang forth from the monument — except she was no longer human. She now had venomous fangs, and from the waist down, the body and legs of a giant black widow spider. Seeing this as a blessing that demanded sacrifice, Chakussa set upon the remaining explorers, slaying them all. Moments later, more cultists emerged from the monument, but with their original bodies intact.

Now, Chakussa serves as the reawakened cult’s champion and defender. Though her mindset is archaic and belligerent, Chakussa is nonetheless cunning. She methodically stalks the jungle, spinning webs to trap the unwary and directing giant vermin to attack intruders.

Comments

  • edited July 7

    Hi Joe, 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.

    Chakussa’s motivations are fairly straightforward. She protects the cult and its lair embodied by the obsidian spider. I think a little more text could have been spent on expanding her motivations to include freeing more cultists or otherwise expanding the cult.

    Likewise, Chakussa’s plans are just stalking the jungle and killing intruders. The PCs might be interested in this if they were in the region, but, otherwise, a GM would have to work hard to introduce her as a villain.

    The stat block makes sense and befits her role as the cult’s champion. I like that as the first cultist to emerge, she changed, but all subsequent cultists remained human. You made some adjustments to the stat block to highlight her uniqueness, but none of the changes make overwhelming enhancements. The poison is slightly more powerful than usual, but I think it fits her CR. Vermin empathy as a replacement for wild empathy makes perfect sense.

    Overall, I like the evocative descriptions of her as a human and as a drider, and her history is very interesting. Unfortunately, this left you little room to describe her motivations and plans as a villain. I do not recommend Chakussa 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!

  • 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?

    You’re the only Top 8 competitor to use the magic word “unique” in the creature type and class line of the stat block. That shouldn’t be used often (in fact, about 1 in 8 is right), but it gives some greater leeway in how the monster is designed, and lets you patch over some errors with “well, of course that number is off by 2 or 4 or whatever, this creature is unique.” But I won’t let that be an excuse for sloppy design—let’s dig in!

    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. Starting with a high-CR creature like a drider means it’s more likely you’ll hit these benchmarks, particularly if the base creature hits them for its CR (which the drider sort of does). In your case, you continue to hit these benchmarks right on point (perhaps a little low for attack bonus and damage, but that’s where the drider is a little low, too). Your villain is therefore an appropriate challenge for its CR.

    Now I can see just why this drider is unique—she lacks spells, and in exchange gets better poison and greater flexibility in how to use it. That’s neat, and ties well to the arachnid themes of the location she’s in. Vermin empathy is a clever way to explain why other spiders do her bidding, and automatically sets her up as an opponent accompanied by vermin. That’s good expectation-setting in the stat block design. Very well done, and inventive.

    I see only a few errors here; your obsidian weapon needs a UE superscript so the GM can find the rules for that, attacks that follow an “or” start on a new line, the detect spells in the Senses line should be italicized, you should include obsidian (or similarly glassy) darts for the blowgun.

    I want to talk a minute about your Tactics section. This is an excellent example of “less is more.” This conveys enough information for the GM to know just what to do as the fight starts, but then lets things flow naturally. Tactics that say, “in the first round the villain does X, in the second round Y, in the third round Z” ignore the fact that PCs hardly ever comply with that program. You’ve given enough information here to let the GM be flexible; her weapons are poisoned, and now she’s gonna use ‘em.

    Despite the cleanness of your mechanical stat block, your narrative spends too much time on past history, without clear ways for the PCs to get this (will they talk to descendants of other island natives who remember the cult? Some survivors among the explorers?). It’s also unclear to me why the other cultists kept their own bodies—was it because only Chakussa was “blessed,” like she believes? You don’t need to keep truths like that from the GM. Finally, I see that Chakussa is an active hunter, which is a good way to make sure that the PCs encounter her, but she just webs them and attacks. I worry that the PCs are likely to consider her merely a tough guardian, and will expect something more interesting going on at the Obsidian Spider.

    In all, I think this villain’s role is a bit weak but its stat block is quite good; I recommend this entry to advance.

  • First of all, Joe, 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.

    Driders are a classic fantasy roleplaying villain and make a lot of sense for the obsidian shrine. With no drow likely in an adventure surrounding this location, it's an interesting choice and benefits from being something PCs won't expect. You play up the strangeness of this particular drider (who's not created from a drow, as most are) by declaring it to be unique, which is smart (more on that in a bit). Chakussa's history and motivation are certainly clear, but I wish there were a little more there. She's evil and part of this cult just because she always has been. We don't really know what drove her to it other than she was presumably one of the miscreants who were banished. Certainly not all villains need a complex back story, but for me it falls a little more flat without it. Along those same lines, Chakussa's plot is a bit distressingly straightforward, to the point I'm not sure she really has a goal. She kills people simply for the sake of killing them. If she were looking for other "special" people who could cause a spirit to emerge as a fellow drider -- or had some goal connected to the explorer whose death triggered her emergence -- I think there'd be something more for the PCs to discover. As is, I'm not sure if PCs will see her as anything more than an obstacle as opposed to something they're specifically motivated to deal with. I think an adventure could be set up where she's the latter, but it's not intrinsic to her creation.

    As far as your stat block, by using unique, you're allowed to break the rules a bit, and you definitely seem to have done that somewhat. I didn't do a full dive into the mechanics of the stat block, but tried to do some spot checking, and it looks like you may have somewhat significantly weakened the base drider, which has an array of Str 15, Dex 15, Con 18, Int 15, Wis 16, Cha 16 and should get +4, +4, +2, +2, -2 for being a monster with class levels. It appears Chakussa instead gets +4 (Str), +4 (Con), 0 (Dex), -2 (Int), -4 (Wis), -6 (Cha); she also doesn't seem to have spells, but does have some other poison effects. As Ron points out, her final scores match what would be expected of a CR 10 monster, so I guess that does all balance out as it should.

    Despite my desire for her to have a greater set of plots/motivation, I think the writing itself is strong in both the flavor and the stat block. 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.





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