9/25/2014

Pathfinder Colossus

I've been away for a while. Partly this is because I've been working on a hexcrawl for the blog, Devil's Reach, but also (less responsibly) I've been playing a ton of video games. Video games! Segue!

Oh. Yeah, Kingmaker spoiler warning. I guess.

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As I mentioned back in August, my group is currently playing through Paizo's Kingmaker adventure.  They're now in the third book. At the end of the second book, the player's capital city is attacked by a giant owlbear while the players are away. And this thing is supposed to wreck shop--a whole city full of who are probably the highest level characters in the nation is only able to just barely repel it. This brings up a whole mess of problems about player agency (but we had an army stationed there!) and such, but what really bothers me about this supposedly giant owlbear is, by the book, the lil' shitter is only 15 ft. tall. The fuck? I mean, sure, that's like elephant-sized. And that's pretty big. But on the fantasy scale, that's nothing. I mean I'd shit my pants if that thing came at me, but for 7th level Pathfinder characters, that's like the average size of the stuff they're fighting. An owlbear that is five feet taller than the norm is very unlikely to evoke any sense of wonder from them.

But a 60 ft. owlbear, that's a different story. Take a gander at that screenshot from Shadow of the Colossus above. Look at the size of Wander and Agro compared to that colossus. It's massive and scary and awesome. If you haven't seen or played SotC, check it out. Seriously, check it out. I'll wait.



Giant monsters = bad ass. Climbing giant monsters = even more bad asser. So, I took some cues from SotC, made a subtype, and then made an owlbear colossus, a monster big enough that when my players heard how big it was, they spent 20 minutes of game time trying to confirm its size.

Colossus Subtype
  • Spell resistance equal to CR + 10
  • Resist acid, cold, electricity, fire 10
  • DR 5/- if CR 5 or below, DR 10/- if CR 6 or above
  • Weakpoint: Each creature of the colossus subtype has a spot in which their natural defenses are moot. Melee attacks at this point are made against the colossus’s touch AC, bypass DR, and deal 150% damage.  Generally the weakpoint is in a hard to reach location that requires climbing the colossus or flight to attack.
  • Climbable: Whether because of rocky outcroppings, shaggy fur, or symbiotic moss, colossi are particularly easy to climb, which is fortunate for adventurers trying to reach their weakpoints. Ascending a colossus requires an Acrobatics or Climb check equal to the colossus’s (CMD -20). Climbing up one body part is a move action. Climbing from the ground provokes an attack of opportunity, but climbing from body part to body part does not. A colossus cannot attack with a particular attack if the target creature is climbing on that body part (for example, cannot bite someone on its head). 
The idea behind this is that each colossus has a weakpoint, as described in the template. However, to reach that weakpoint, the players would have to climb up the colossus's body, which I divide into sections, generally around four. Sometimes (like in the case of the owlbear) I give a shortcut (the arms) that bypasses several parts but has a higher DC. I represent this at the table with a large drawing of the sections, and place minis in the appropriate slots. 

How it looks on the table.
Close-up of the owlbear colossus's parts, and a dude climbing them.


I did try just making it a monster template, but I ultimately found that making a subtype and then using the monster creation appendix in the Bestiary gave simpler, more customizable results. I feel like this subtype really only affects game play under level 5, and is utterly pointless after level 10 because flight becomes so common. That's also why I have the weakpoint only be vulnerable to melee attacks--if you want to take advantage of it, you're going to have run the risk of climbing on a fucking massive monster that wants to kill you. 

Making a Colossus
For the base monster, I look to the above mentioned monster creation appendix as a guideline. Here, I want a CR 10 owlbear colossus. I know just advancing the owlbear's hit die will (by the rules) only give me a Huge-sized owlbear, so instead I decided to apply the giant template. Three times. That gives us this guy:

Owlbear Colossus
XP 3,200
N Colossal
magical beast
Init +4; Senses
darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, scent; Perception +12

DEFENSE

AC 19, touch 1, flat-footed 18 (+17 natural, –8 size)
hp 87 (5d10+60)
Fort +18, Ref +4, Will +2
Resist acid, cold, electricity, fire 10 SR 17

OFFENSE

Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +13 (2d8+16 plus
grab), bite +13 (4d6+16)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.

STATISTICS

Str 43, Dex 10, Con 34, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 10
Base Atk +5; CMB +34 (+38
grapple); CMD 44 (48 vs. trip)
Feats
Improved Initiative, Great Fortitude, Skill Focus (Perception)
Skills
Perception +12 
SQ weakpoint (eyes), climbable (DC 24; legs->lower torso->upper torso->head, or legs->arms (DC 34)->head)

According to the template, this should only be a CR 7. And for the most part, the target numbers on the table match our owlbear's: 19 AC compared to 20, 87 HP compared to 85, and +13 to hit right on the dot. But holy shit, 92 damage plus grab? That's above the target number for CR 17! And that Fort save! Still, the owlbear's got far too low of HP and AC to just be a CR 10 on his own. 

In the end, I decided to give the obear CR 10's target HP of 130. I feel like that is balanced by his low AC and resistances, and his high damage is balanced by low to hit modifiers by CR 10 standards. In the end, I'm calling this guy a CR 10. Here's the final stats:



Owlbear Colossus CR 10
XP 9,600
N Colossal
magical beast
Init +4; Senses
darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, scent; Perception +12

DEFENSE

AC 19, touch 1, flat-footed 18 (+17 natural, –8 size)
hp 130 (5d10+60)
Fort +18, Ref +4, Will +2
Resist acid, cold, electricity, fire 10 SR 17

OFFENSE

Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +13 (2d8+16 plus
grab), bite +13 (4d6+16)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.

STATISTICS

Str 43, Dex 10, Con 34, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 10
Base Atk +5; CMB +34 (+38
grapple); CMD 44 (48 vs. trip)
Feats
Improved Initiative, Great Fortitude, Skill Focus (Perception)
Skills
Perception +12 
SQ weakpoint, climbable (DC 24; legs->lower torso->upper torso->head, or legs->arms (DC 34)->head)




 If you use any of this material, I'm interested to hear how it works for your group. This weekend I'll try to post some more example colossi.



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