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    Default [Creature]It literally makes your skin crawl...

    This is my first homebrew, so I'm still trying to learn the techniques of it... please critique honestly, and feel free to tell me where I messed up...


    Centuries ago, a necromantic lich plagued the land with his undead creations. While his experiments varied widely in size, shape, and function, they all bore his signature - they all had the ability to drip flesh blood. At the height of his reign of terror, a group of powerful adventurers invaded his castle, intent on destroying him. They emerged victorious, and brought his destroyed phycaltery with them as proof of his destruction... or so everyone thought...
    It now appears that either he tricked the adventurers and somehow escaped, or someone has managed to mimic his signature, as new breeds of undead are appearing, all of which drip blood..
    Among the worst is the Skinshred Swarm, a diabolical tornado of razor-edged skin. However, the swarm itself is not the main problem - it is the disease that it carries that makes it horrible. The disease, known as Skin Crawl, will create a new Skinshred Swarm out of anyone unfortunate enough to be infected by it...
    May the Gods help us all...
    -Jazu the Arch Mage, sole survivor of the Andores Tower Massacre


    --------

    Skinshred Swarm
    Diminutive Undead (Swarm)
    Hit Dice: 12d12 plus 36 (114 hp)
    Initiative: +11
    Speed: Fly 40 ft. (8 squares)
    Armor Class: 21 (+4 size, +7 Dex), touch 21, flat-footed 14
    Base Attack/Grapple +6/-
    Attack: Swarm (3d6 plus skin crawl)
    Full-Attack: Swarm (3d6 plus skin crawl)
    Space/Reach: 10 ft/0 ft
    Special Attacks: Distraction, skin crawl, whelm
    Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 ft, unholy toughness, strip flesh, immune to weapon damage, blood drip, change pigment, hive mind, swarm traits, undead traits
    Saves: Fort +4, Ref +11, Will +7
    Abilities: Str 1, Dex 24, Con -, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 14
    Skills: Disguise +17, Hide +22, Listen + 16, Perform(dance) + 17, Spot +16
    Feats: Ability Focus (skin crawl), Ability Focus (whelm), Improved Initiative, Improved Toughness, Lifesense
    Environment: Any
    Organization: Solitary, storm (2-4 swarms), or plague (7-12 swarms)
    Challenge Rating: 9
    Treasure: None
    Alignment: Always neutral evil
    Advancement: None
    Level Adjustment: -

    As you continue through the darkness, the wind that you've been hearing suddenly changes pitch. Confused, you look behind you to see a cloud of some cloth-like substance, swarming around menacingly. Bile rises into your throat when you look the second time, as you can tell the cloth-like substance is actually strips of flesh, still fresh and supple. As it approaches to attack, it leaves drops of blood in its wake...

    Skinshred Swarms are clouds of undead skin, animated by the final stage of the Skin Crawl disease. They take pleasure in only one thing: killing. However, they prefer to kill their prey... creatively... using their abilities to hide and disguise themselves until it is too late for the victim to run.
    Skinshred Swarms rarely speak, but they can move in intricate patterns to create an airy voice similar to wind blowing through trees. They speak Common and Draconic.

    Combat: Skinshred Swarms love combat, but they prefer to ambush their prey, as their victims are more likely to be easily slaughtered that way. If they are facing only one enemy, they will happily use their Whelm ability to quickly dispatch them.

    Blood Drip (Su): A Skinshred Swarm can release up to 6 drops of blood as a free action. While this provides it no statistical benefit, it is normally used as a way to lure prey to a dark alley, allowing it to kill them... privately...

    Change Pigment (Su): As a full-round action, the disease animating the Skinshread Swarm can drain or add pigment to the cloud of skin, allowing it to blend in with its surroundings, such as a snowstorm or autumn leaves. It gains a +10 circumstance bonus on its next Hide or Disguise check.

    Distraction (Ex): Any living creature that begins its turn with a skinshred swarm in its space must succeed on a DC 16 Fortitude save or be nauseated for 1 round. The save DC is Constitution-based.

    Hive Mind (Ex): In high quantities, the disease animating a skinshred swarm develops a terrible level of intellect. As long as it has at least 1 hp, the skincrawl swarm has an Intelligence score of 12.

    Skin Crawl (Su): Any living creature struck by the skinshred's swarm damage must succeed on a DC 20 Fortitude save or contract Skin Crawl (description below). The save DC is Charisma-based.

    Strip Flesh (Su): Whenever the skinshred swarm deals swarm damage, it rips away part of its victim's skin. The skinshred swarm recovers 1 hp for every 3 points of swarm damage dealt.

    Unholy Toughness (Ex): The magical disease animating a skinshred swarm provides it with extra vitality. The skinshred swarm gains additional hp equal to its Charisma modifier times its HD.

    Whelm (Ex): As a full-round action, the skinshred swarm can attempt to wrap itself around a creature of size Large or smaller. The victim must succeed on a DC 25 Reflex save or be engulfed by the cloud. It loses all senses and ability to act, automatically contracts skin crawl, and must make a save every round against the effects of skin crawl due to the volume of the disease being poured into it. While using Whelm, the skinshred swarm loses its Dexterity to AC as well as its immunity to weapon damage. However, any damage done to the skinshred swarm deals an equal amount of damage to its victim. The victim can escape by succeeding on either a DC 20 Strength check or a DC 25 Escape Artist check. The save DC for Whelm is Dexterity-based.

    Explanations
    Spoiler
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    I figured I needed to put this in here, at least to explain the bizarre skill selection...
    The intention of the Blood Drip and Change Pigment abilities, as well as the Disguise skill, are to give it ways to ambush prey during the day, when shadows are hard to find.
    Perform (Dance) is the only skill I could think of that might include knowledge of how to move the swarm to mimic sounds, such as a light breeze or a voice.
    It has Unholy Toughness simply because the group I play with loves blaster casters, so the extra HP is to let it survive another round or two.
    I'm pretty sure Whelm is too wordy, but I don't know how to condense it...

    --------

    Skin Crawl
    Skin Crawl is a vicious magical disease, known for its rapid onset and progression. It gets its name from its primary symptom: it makes the skin of its victim ripple and crawl as it detaches the skin from the body.
    Incubation Period: 1d3 minutes
    Save: DC 20 Fortitude, 3 consecutive successes to fight off the infection
    Ability Damage: 1d4 Dexterity damage plus 1 Wisdom drain
    Special: Unlike normal diseases, the victim must make a save every hour to avoid progression of the disease, as opposed to every day. When the victim's Dexterity reaches zero, its skin tears away from its body, forming a new Skinshred Swarm. Whether the victim survives after this is under GM discretion.
    Treatment: If the infected area is on a limb, amputation can prevent the spread of the disease if it is caught early (before victim fails a save). Remove Disease doesn't work, but instead renders the disease dormant for four hours. Remove Curse followed by Remove Disease allows the target to make a DC 20 Fortitude save, with success meaning the infection is destroyed. Heal, Limited Wish, Wish, or Miracle all remove the infection instantly...but that's to be expected of such powerful magic.

    --------

    So, what do you think? Any suggestions/comments/places where I messed up?
    Last edited by Fako; 2008-08-17 at 03:29 AM.
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    Skinshred Swarm (CR 9) / Reaper Wolf (CR 5) / Demonecris (CR 18)
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    Default Re: [Creature]It literally makes your skin crawl...

    Anything that leaves flayed corpses scattered around randomly gets my seal of creepy. Your formatting and concepts are veteran grade, and even the vets miss the sorts of things I see missing from this sometimes.

    You need to specify at what point Skin Crawl kills the target since technically even being drained to 0 wisdom isn't fatal. Is it when Dex hits zero? When Wis hits zero? When the victim dies of thirst due to not being able to move?

    People are always telling me to simplify my stuff, so take it with a grain of salt when I tell you that Whelm looks pretty well written.

    Personally I would allow Heal to cure Skin Crawl.

    Lastly, congratulations... I would never have thought that someone else would come up with such a different way of considering undead skin... HERE was my take on the subject, also, HERE is the (un)natural predator of this monster.
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    Default Re: [Creature]It literally makes your skin crawl...

    Quote Originally Posted by DracoDei View Post
    Anything that leaves flayed corpses scattered around randomly gets my seal of creepy. Your formatting and concepts are veteran grade, and even the vets miss the sorts of things I see missing from this sometimes.

    People are always telling me to simplify my stuff, so take it with a grain of salt when I tell you that Whelm looks pretty well written.
    Thank you

    Quote Originally Posted by DracoDei View Post
    You need to specify at what point Skin Crawl kills the target since technically even being drained to 0 wisdom isn't fatal. Is it when Dex hits zero? When Wis hits zero? When the victim dies of thirst due to not being able to move?
    Clarified.

    Quote Originally Posted by DracoDei View Post
    Personally I would allow Heal to cure Skin Crawl.
    I agree. Updated.

    Quote Originally Posted by DracoDei View Post
    Lastly, congratulations... I would never have thought that someone else would come up with such a different way of considering undead skin... HERE was my take on the subject, also, HERE is the (un)natural predator of this monster.
    I think it would be interesting to watch a skin spider's attack against a skinshred swarm...
    Last edited by Fako; 2008-08-10 at 08:06 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gramarie IRC
    <Fako> Most of my contributions to the system have been in the form of taking a baseball bat to other homebrewer's works.
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    <Fako> You laugh because it's true :P
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    Skinshred Swarm (CR 9) / Reaper Wolf (CR 5) / Demonecris (CR 18)
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    Default Re: [Creature]It literally makes your skin crawl...

    Very well done, Fako. The Demented One would be proud.

    One thing, though: Change Pigment needs some mechanical explanation. Maybe it grants a large bonus to Hide checks, or it might make the swarm invisible for a round, or something.
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    Default Re: [Creature]It literally makes your skin crawl...

    Quote Originally Posted by Eighth_Seraph View Post
    Very well done, Fako. The Demented One would be proud.
    Thank you! Now to add that to my sig...

    Quote Originally Posted by Eighth_Seraph View Post
    One thing, though: Change Pigment needs some mechanical explanation. Maybe it grants a large bonus to Hide checks, or it might make the swarm invisible for a round, or something.
    Updated to include a bonus to Hide or Disguise when used.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gramarie IRC
    <Fako> Most of my contributions to the system have been in the form of taking a baseball bat to other homebrewer's works.
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    Skinshred Swarm (CR 9) / Reaper Wolf (CR 5) / Demonecris (CR 18)
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    Default Re: [Creature]It literally makes your skin crawl...

    That's creepy. This...this? This is your first piece of homebrew?
    ....the Force is strong in this one.

    Monster with good fluff and crunch. Heck, there's a new disease to boot!
    Excellent work

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    Default Re: [Creature]It literally makes your skin crawl...

    Quote Originally Posted by Lappy9000 View Post
    That's creepy. This...this? This is your first piece of homebrew?
    ....the Force is strong in this one.

    Monster with good fluff and crunch. Heck, there's a new disease to boot!
    Excellent work
    Thank you It's great to see that the Skinshred Swarm is well liked!

    I added a link to the Lifesense feat as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gramarie IRC
    <Fako> Most of my contributions to the system have been in the form of taking a baseball bat to other homebrewer's works.
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    <Fako> You laugh because it's true :P
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    Skinshred Swarm (CR 9) / Reaper Wolf (CR 5) / Demonecris (CR 18)
    Indomitable (Melee PrC [5 Lvl])

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    Default Re: [Creature]It literally makes your skin crawl...

    Yeah, I like it. Very creepy. Very harsh disease, which is the kind of thing I'm a fan of.

    Also diseases changing someone into undead for the final stage, which I did in a simpler way with my Dread Zombies. This is a little more encounter+ length and I'd say more interesting. (The Dread Plague is set up to be plausible as an adventure, or, if taken far enough, a small campaign)

    Definitely excellent, and that's regardless of first piece or hundredth. Get VT over here to look at this. You've even got a pun in the title.
    Last edited by Icewalker; 2008-08-10 at 10:46 PM.
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    Default Re: [Creature]It literally makes your skin crawl...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fako View Post
    I think it would be interesting to watch a skin spider's attack against a skinshred swarm...
    Actually Skin Spiders also only appear in swarms in case you hadn't noticed... it would be like watching a war between a swarm of flying beetles and a swarm of bees or something...

    Quote Originally Posted by Lappy9000 View Post
    This...this? This is your first piece of homebrew?
    ....the Force is strong in this one.
    You found the words to clearly express what I only hinted at.
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    Default Re: [Creature]It literally makes your skin crawl...

    Sorry, I'd give some constructive critisism but I'm too distracted by the mental imagery.

    Very creepy home-slice. The idea of a freakin' storm of flesh chasing a person into a dark alley, or hidden grove and... and.... and...!

    Well, you know the rest. Creeper.

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    Default Re: [Creature]It literally makes your skin crawl...

    Quote Originally Posted by Riva View Post
    Sorry, I'd give some constructive critisism but I'm too distracted by the mental imagery.

    Very creepy home-slice. The idea of a freakin' storm of flesh chasing a person into a dark alley, or hidden grove and... and.... and...!

    Well, you know the rest. Creeper.
    Actually, the mental image I prefer is a man running out of a dark alleyway, his skin writhing as if thousands of bugs moved underneath it. He trips and clutches to the nearest (shocked) bystander, and croaks "Help me..." before his skin explodes off his body to become a swarm, with the original Skinshred Swarm then emerging from the alleyway...
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    Skinshred Swarm (CR 9) / Reaper Wolf (CR 5) / Demonecris (CR 18)
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    Default Re: [Creature]It literally makes your skin crawl...

    creepy. grotescue(spelling?). i like it!

    a wonderful dark-alley scenario pops into mind, but if i told you you'd be locked away for a few months...
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    Default Re: [Creature]It literally makes your skin crawl...

    I don't have much experience with the mechanics of this but just the creativity of this monster and the thought put into it is A+ in my book.
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    Default Re: [Creature]It literally makes your skin crawl...

    Wow, there is no way this is your first homebrew. Simply inconceiveable. Kudos to you. Very nice.
    Last edited by SilentNight; 2008-08-12 at 06:23 PM.
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    Default Re: [Creature]It literally makes your skin crawl...

    Quote Originally Posted by SilentNight View Post
    Wow, there is no way this is your first homebrew. Simply inconceiveable. Kudos to you. Very nice.
    ^this. exemplary work, and i might ask for your help on a project or two...

    with your permission of course...
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    Default Re: [Creature]It literally makes your skin crawl...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobi_goodboy View Post
    ^this. exemplary work, and i might ask for your help on a project or two...

    with your permission of course...
    Are you talking to me or him?
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    Default Re: [Creature]It literally makes your skin crawl...

    him, but anyone can help out(it'll be posted on the boards under its own name) i was just saying i might specifically call him in.
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    Default Re: [Creature]It literally makes your skin crawl...

    Wisdom drain doesn't (to me at least) seem consistent with what's largely a physical process (skin tearing itself off one's body). I suggest altering the wisdom drain to constitution drain. That has the secondary effect of making subsequent saves a little tougher once a few failures are in, too. Of course reducing his con to 0 would kill him and raise a new Swarm the same as dex would, right? (or, if left unamended, wisdom drain would result in the same)

    I'd also alter the remediation. Remove disease should have a chance to remove this, or at least to help significantly, and at 4 hours that's not going to happen. Remove disease and curse both together should be more or less the same guaranteed success as more powerful healing. My suggestion:
    Remove Disease should stall the disease's progress for only two hours, but should also be considered equivalent to two successful saves (so only one more is required to fight off the infection)

    Finally, when the skin peels itself off and forms a new swarm, I have two thoughts. One, the subject should be automatically reduced to -1 and bleeding if he's not there already; it just makes sense that someone with no skin attached is going to be a tad uncomfortable. Two, the swarm occupies his space and while he may not have skin left, it might want his blood. :)

    I like it though. I like anything that seriously screws with the party, and the concept of someone staggering out of an alleyway, their skin writhing, is a beautiful hook. Pretty much exactly what I'd conceived from your initial description as well. :)
    Don't bother trying to appeal to my better nature; I don't have one.

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    Default Re: [Creature]It literally makes your skin crawl...

    Quote Originally Posted by fangthane View Post
    Wisdom drain doesn't (to me at least) seem consistent with what's largely a physical process (skin tearing itself off one's body). I suggest altering the wisdom drain to constitution drain. That has the secondary effect of making subsequent saves a little tougher once a few failures are in, too. Of course reducing his con to 0 would kill him and raise a new Swarm the same as dex would, right? (or, if left unamended, wisdom drain would result in the same)
    Personally, I put the Wisdom drain to account for the damage to your psyche from having your skin constantly crawl. It was based off of the Corporeal Instability effect of the Chaos Beast. I initially had it as 1d4 Constitution damage and 1 Wisdom drain, but I felt that Dexterity damage would be more fitting, as it would represent the skin's unwillingness to comply with the victim's actions.

    According to the DMG, reaching 0 Wisdom will render the victim unconscious, but isn't "lethal" per se.

    Quote Originally Posted by fangthane View Post
    I'd also alter the remediation. Remove disease should have a chance to remove this, or at least to help significantly, and at 4 hours that's not going to happen. Remove disease and curse both together should be more or less the same guaranteed success as more powerful healing. My suggestion:
    Remove Disease should stall the disease's progress for only two hours, but should also be considered equivalent to two successful saves (so only one more is required to fight off the infection)
    My logic here is that the disease is perpetuated by magical effects, and as such doesn't function in the same way as a normal disease, similar to Mummy Rot. However, it isn't as resilient as Mummy Rot, which is why Remove Disease disables it for a while. Another way to look at it is that the sinister intelligence of the disease recognizes the attempt to destroy it, so it lays low until it figures it is safe to attack.

    Quote Originally Posted by fangthane View Post
    Finally, when the skin peels itself off and forms a new swarm, I have two thoughts. One, the subject should be automatically reduced to -1 and bleeding if he's not there already; it just makes sense that someone with no skin attached is going to be a tad uncomfortable. Two, the swarm occupies his space and while he may not have skin left, it might want his blood. :)
    For the first part, that is why I said survival is under GM discretion. For the second, I thought the occupation of the same space would be assumed, as would the Skinshred Swarm's desire to kill its former "ally"...

    Quote Originally Posted by fangthane View Post
    I like it though. I like anything that seriously screws with the party, and the concept of someone staggering out of an alleyway, their skin writhing, is a beautiful hook. Pretty much exactly what I'd conceived from your initial description as well. :)
    Thank you. I'm shocked that everyone is liking it so well, and I hope its success isn't a fluke... We will find out sooner or later... just depends on when I get an idea for another monster...

    Also, feel free to alter any effects of the monster to your liking. In my opinion, this is just how I envision it; it may not be the same in your game. Besides, it's not like I can monitor everyone using it to make sure that my monster is 'preserved'

    Tobi_goodboy, I'll be happy to provide any assistance I can manage. Just send me a private message when you post it.
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    <Fako> You laugh because it's true :P
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    Skinshred Swarm (CR 9) / Reaper Wolf (CR 5) / Demonecris (CR 18)
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    Default Re: [Creature]It literally makes your skin crawl...

    Heh I just like making the bad guy's special effects avoidable to an extent; as written, it's pretty much a sure bet somebody's going to die before the cleric can prepare the spells he needs to cure them, assuming he doesn't have them prepped already. As long as it's used with caution it's still fine, don't get me wrong, but it'll take a DM who's familiar with his party's tendencies and spell prep lists to avoid a potential TPK. I tend to try to design such that even stupid DMs can use the critter, but - I'll reiterate - I have no problem with critters that stupid DMs should be avoiding, either. :)

    I still think that the victim has to suffer some kind of incurable bleeding (incurable short of magic, anyhow) when his skin erupts... But I suppose I can live with you leaving it to DM's discretion. In my world these'll be pretty lethal :)

    Ooh ooh. Screw constitution. Have it drain Cha instead of either wisdom or con. :) Brilliant! :)
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