He who paints in streaks of Blood CR 9 - Chris Dailey


XP 6,400

Male halfling slayer 10

NE Small humanoid (halfling)

Init +3; Senses Perception +17

===== Defense =====

AC 20, touch 15, flat-footed 15 (+4 armor, +3 Dex, +1 dodge, +1 natural, +1 size)

hp 60 (10d10+10);

Fort +9, Ref +9, Will +5; +2 vs. fear

===== Offense =====

Speed 20 ft.

Melee +1 stone club +15/+10 (1d4+4)

Ranged javelin +14/+9 (1d4+3)

Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.

Special Attacks sneak attack +3d6, studied target +3

===== Tactics =====

Before Combat He uses stealth, camouflage, and acrobatics to stalk his prey from the canopy, studying them while waiting for the perfect moment to throw a javelin and inflict sneak attack damage. Before attacking he drinks a jump potion.

During Combat He jumps from branch to branch, staying out of reach and using the trees for cover. He uses studied target to increase his damage and relentlessly pelts his foes with javelins. Whenever possible he will use the fog to hide, reappearing the next turn for a vicious sneak attack.

Morale If reduced to 20 hit points he will attempt to stealth away and escape. If cornered he will feign surrender to draw his foes close and lash out at the last moment. Failing that, he will go down fighting, attempting out of spite to do as much damage as possible.

===== Statistics =====

Str 16, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 10

Base Atk +10/+5; CMB +12; CMD 25

Feats Dodge, Point-Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Quick Draw

Skills Acrobatics +23 (+5 on narrow surfaces), Bluff +13, Climb +18, Perception +17, Stealth +20, Survival +15 (+5 to follow tacks)

Languages Broken common

SQ favored terrain (forest), slayer talents (camouflage, fast stealth, snap shot, sure footing, terrain mastery)

Combat Gear 30 javelins, +1 stone club, 2 potions of jump; Other Gear +1 studded leather, belt of giant strength +2, boots of elvenkind, cloak of resistance +1, amulet of natural armor +1, 650 gp worth of uncut rubies

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

Sporewood acclimation (Ex) Halflings of the Sporewood have acclimated to its environment over generations. They ignore both the concealment and penalties to perception inflected by its spores. They are also immune to its mind-affecting properties.

===== Background =====

Isolation has left the halflings of the Sporewood with a unique conception of names. To them names are not a static familial inheritance but a shifting identity that changes over time. In practice most hold names derived from their most significant deed or attribute. . . . He Who Dances Like Summer Wind, She Who Hunts Brazen & Bold. Among the many names that echo in the wood, one stands out like raging thunder in a sea of quiet whispers, He Who Paints in Streaks of Blood.

He Who Paints in Streaks of Blood is tall and stout for a halfling. He has high cheekbones and long, matted hair that flows down to the ground in yellow rivulets. His green eyes are unfocused and hungry, like a wild beast unchecked by any pretense of empathy or self control. In his heart he harbors an animalistic lust for power, a simplistic desire to exert dominance at any expense.

There was a time when many vile souls competed for supremacy in the Sporewood. Reavers, chieftains, and petty warlords, he lured them all with honeyed lies to the center of the forest where the greatest of monoliths holds court amongst the trees. The monoliths are sacred to the inhabitants of the wood; by ancient law no blood may be shed in their sight. Sparing no thought for trust or tradition, he descended upon his assembled rivals. With spear and club he danced amongst them, composing a symphony of violence with each step and spraying their blood in great glopping streaks.

When the slaughter was over, he stood under the great monolith, unopposed as lord of the wood. As if in recognition of his murderous ascension, the monolith began to hum and pulse with fetid light. Fueled by the blood of his fallen rivals, its power swelled. A swirling wind of spores raged out in every direction, storming through the wood and into the world beyond. Come the morning the forest had grown. Miles of new trees stood tall where before there were open fields. The new lord of the wood knew what to do. The forest was hungry and so was he. He would feed the monoliths and in so doing grow his nascent realm. All he needed was blood.


  • 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.

    I get a clear sense that He Who Paint’s actions have made him the undisputed lord of the wood, and this feeds into his desire to control everything in his purview. He seeks to awaken the monoliths to grow the Sporewood, over which he has dominion, which gives him another obvious motivation.

    I get that the halfling is animalistic, so he simply enjoys shedding the blood of others. This also helps him power up the monoliths. His plans aren’t very clear, though. It reads to me as if he’s waiting around for more sources of blood to appear. Does he have allies in the woods (perhaps cowed and subservient halflings)? Why doesn’t he just slaughter them to empower the monoliths? Still, I can see the PCs investigating at the very least because the Sporewood has suddenly expanded into formerly civilized lands, so there is a hook for them at least tangentially.

    The stat block fits his bloodlust, and I’m glad to see you included Bluff as one of his trained skills, since you mentioned him using “honeyed words” to lure his enemies to the monolith. The addition of the Sporewood acclimation special ability (note, acclimation should be capitalized, as should Perception in the description) makes sense and hearkens back to your description of the Sporewood’s halflings from the previous round. There were a couple of other minor formatting glitches (Common should be capitalize, and you don’t need to show the iterative value in Base Atk). I also understand the desire to use the word “will” in the morale section of tactics, but it is unnecessary, and removing them gives you a couple extra words to spice up your description.

    Overall, I feel like He Who Paints has the right power level to be a regional warlord. He has a strong motivation, but his plans are too one-dimensional for me. In my opinion, the text is quite evocative but becomes overwrought in some places (“great glopping streaks,” for example). I do not recommend He Who Paints 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?

    I started reading this eagerly, as I love halflings, and halflings that invert the trope by being murderous bastards are delightful. Unfortunately, a closer look showed a lot of problems.

    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. In just about every metric, your villain underperforms for a CR 9 foe. An average PC party will have no problems at all with him, and that means he might not be very memorable to them, unfortunately.

    The flavor here, however, is quite good, and players going through the creepy, creepy Sporewood should be delightfully horrified when this little savage murderer jumps out them. Although some of your word choices puzzle me—matted hair doesn’t flow in rivulets, in my mind, and light can’t be fetid—your history of this halfling’s slaughter is well described. But it falls short of explaining what he does next. He needs blood—but why, exactly? And so he…holds a blood drive? The real adventure hooks here are in the Sporewood, not in He Who Paints in Streaks of Blood.

    You have a distressing number of rules errors: you don’t have enough feats, “Broken Common” isn’t a language (and halflings should know Halfling), we have “potions of jump” not “jump potions,” a BAB entry shouldn’t show iterative attack modifiers, studied target should list how many targets and the action type to enact it, he doesn’t have the stalker and track abilities listed, his saving throw bonuses are too low, weapons don’t go in Combat Gear, and so on. For something like this, look how Paizo has presented this class before and make comparisons to see where you missed things you should include. (Some of the above I noticed by glancing at the Butcher, a human slayer 9, in the Villain Codex.) I would feel like I have to recreate this entire stat block from scratch, which would take a lot of my time I’d rather spend finessing your words to make them more awesome.

    You also have several typos that I couldn’t get past. A bonus to follow tacks, for example, shows you were relying too heavily on a spellchecker rather than a read-through. Acclimation and Perception should both be capitalized in the Special Ability section, and so on.

    In all, there’s a lot of unmet potential here; 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.

    I have to admit when I first saw the villain name, I was a little put off. That continued as I started reading the intro to your write-up, but then I think you brought it around, so it ends up being a very nice example of showing, not telling. Naming is tough and this actually ends up fitting a logical name convention for the world while also giving us dramatic insights into the nature of the villain. Your writing throughout is very evocative, though it borders (and some might say it's even on the wrong side of that border) of being overwrought. I know I worry about crossing that line in my own writing, but I think the phrase "and spraying their blood in great glopping streaks" in particular was one that might have done better with a little restraint.

    Edits like that (and maybe just a touch shorter in your first paragraph, which was around 90 words) might have given you a few more words to describe He Who PTain's plan, which is what really transforms him into a villain/makes him of note to the PCs instead of just being the wild beast you compare him with early on. We know he wants to feed the monoliths to expand the Sporewood and that requires blood, but I think there just needs to be something beyond that. Needing specific types of blood (and thus having to leave the woods to go collect victims) or other factors that motivate him on to greater villainy  would make him more something the PCs are going to feel the need to learn about and defeat.

    I didn't do a full dive into all the mechanics of the stat block, but tried to do some spot checking, and your block has some issues as pointed out by Mike and Ron. I do like He Who Paint's tactics, though 30 javelins seems like an awful lot for this guy to be carrying with no magical means to do so (I'm not so much worried about the weight considering his Strength, but it's breaking my suspension of disbelief). I also think instead of having Sporewood Acclimation apply to all haflings (since that seems like a pretty powerful  racial trait but doesn't appear to have replaced any other halfling racial traits that I can tell), I might have made that specific to He Who Paints thanks to the monolith massacre. I might even say that was worth a +1 CR if you consider it's going to allow him to ignore fog/concealment in any location the PCs are likely to encounter him and whatever mind-affecting effects the Sporewood is revealed to have.

    In the end, I decided that the strength of the writing outweighs my concerns with this villain. I do recommend it 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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