Fixing a Broken Creature
A lot of my initial perspectives on Pathfinder 2E came from my first GM experience with the game: the Extinction Curse Adventure Path. That’s sort of funny because this Adventure Path was the second one developed for the Pathfinder 2E roleplaying game, which means it still has a fair number of development issues. Some encounters aren’t balanced well, some monster design is wonky, and other strangeness make it a rather peculiar play experience, especially for a new Game Master.
Introducing the Broken Creature
One creature in this adventure path that gave me pause was the
My initial concern with the creature is that it was built as a Barbarian, so it has a Rage action. The creature even has a rage-only ability, No Escape. All of this signals that this creature should rage as soon as possible. But, this only exacerbates what would become my major concern: the melee attack.
58 damage!!! At level 2!
Sure, that’s just the high end of the range. But, it’s pretty extreme, especially for a level 2 monster! This is damage that one-hit-kills even the strongest player characters. Even without the critical success and the extra damage, there is the fact that its average damage is also higher than the extreme for its level.
Did I mention that their Armor Class was also high to extreme for their level?
After one battle with these monsters, I quickly decided that they were hot garbage and decided to do something a bit more reasonable.
Trying Something Different
My big issue was that, as written, this creature (in essence, a basic warrior) was extremely deadly but wasn’t especially interesting. On its turn, it enters a Rage and starts hitting for too much damage. Maybe it uses its shield, or maybe it just kills its enemies before they get a chance to attack. In my experience, a creature who’s sole function is “kill PCs in one hit” isn’t super fun for GMs or players, especially when that crushing damage potential isn’t obvious when the battle starts. “Suprise! You’ve been killed!”
With that in mind, I had two goals:
- Fix the damage expression to be less outrageous; and
- Do something a bit more interesting with the Rage.
First thing first, I renamed the creature.
What can I say, I was inspired by a thesaurus.
For the damage expression, I just grabbed the high damage expression for level 2 from the GameMastery Guide (1d10+4) and tweaked it to make it look more like a trident (1d8+5), as I can appreciate the idea that the same weapon should sort of look the same, no matter who uses it. That means I wanted to stick with the standard Trident d8. Of course, you may wonder why the high damage expression instead of ExTReMe?
Because I’m not a sadist.
But, also, there’s still the Rage. I liked the idea that this monster started only mostly threatening but then became really threatening. Regarding the Rage, I had a simple idea. At first, these creatures are more defensive, using their shields to increase their AC and block damage. But, once they get hurt enough, they lose their cool and fly into a rage, ditching their shield and dealing extra the damage.
To accomplish this, I fell back on an old D&D 4E standby: Bloodied.
Reacting When You’re Bloodied
D&D 4E described Bloodied as:
The bloodied value of a typical creature equals one-half its maximum hit points. A creature is bloodied when its current hit points drop to its bloodied value or lower.
On its own, Bloodied doesn’t mean anything. However, certain abilities or reactions can trigger off of a creature being Bloodied. In the alternative, some abilities are only available if the creature is (or is not) Bloodied.
In my mind, “the first time the creature became Bloodied” seemed like a great opportunity to trigger the rage. At this point, it gives up on defense, ditches its shield, and goes on the full offensive. However, the change is obvious to the players, so they realize that it is important for them to defeat this enemy before it can drop the bigger damage on them.
As this was my first attempt at really messing with the Pathfinder 2E rules and system, I didn’t go too crazy with this. I just mostly used the Rage ability as written, but changed it from an action to a free action that triggered on the
The net result is a creature that starts out more defensive, but shifts to a more damaging stance once the players get into it. However, this provides an interesting opportunity for the players to defeat them before they have an opportunity to put their new damage potential to good use.
Str +4, Dex +1, Con +3, Int +0, Wis +2, Cha +0
Items trident, hide armor, wooden shield
Tainted Rage f
Trigger The vile aspirant is Bloodied for the first time in the battle;
Effect The vile aspirant enters a rage and gains 6 temporary Hit Points for 1 minute. While raging, the vile aspirant deals +2 additional damage with melee weapon and unarmed attacks, has a -1 penalty to AC, and cannot
AC 18; Fort +10, Ref +8, Will +5
HP 32 (Bloodied 16)
Shield Block r (Hardness 3, HP 12, BT 6)
Speed 25 feet
Melee 1 trident +11, Damage 1d8+5 piercing
Raise a Shield 1 The vile aspirant raises their shield, granting a +2 circumstance bonus to AC. The shield remains raised until the start of their next turn.
A Last Note
Remind me, I mean. I’m the GM. And I forget.