Spoiler: Images

Heart of Fire and Veins of Lava. All he wants is to give you a great big HUG!

Spoiler: Breakdown
Lavaborn Imix-blooded Anthropomorphic Giant Squid. Monstrous Humanoid 11, Psychic Warrior 8.

Ability Scores
Str 22 (Increase at 12 and 16HD)
Dex 20
Con 15 (Increase at 8HD)
Int 10
Wis 19 (Increase at 4HD)
Cha 4

Elite Array: Str(14), Dex(12), Con(13), Int(10), Wis(15), Cha(8)

Spoiler: Story
WATCH FOR IT’S ARMS!!!, shouted Akilu to his Sea Elf shipmate. The beast must have at least a dozen of them!, Iridansa shouted back. They keep coming up out of the magma, how are we to kill it?! What was intended to be a short trip up the island mountain had turned into a desperate battle. A trio of expendable crewmen had been sent from the three allied pirate ships to explore the island. Stories told by the old sea dogs claimed this island was once a popular trading and resupply port between the coastal kingdoms. No single monarch controlled it, so it was a place of free trade. The island belonged to an ancient elf with hair of fire who supposedly lived on top the small mountain in the center of the island.

Back to the deck-ape! He had the right of it when he turned tail and glided away. Akilu could make out their enemy much better now that his eyes had adjusted to the dim glow of the magma all around them. Huge tentacles, like those belonging to a great Kraken were still emerging from the dense pools liquid hot rock. Veins of fire ran the length of the leviathan appendage. What sort of creature could possibly survive in such a hostile environment? Iridansa fought her way free from her immediate threat and began backing up toward the path that led them to this pass.

The island had become forbidden for all those who lived within the kingdoms. The ill-spoken rumor was that at the height of trade season some 30 years ago, the mountain on the island exploded. That it rained down rocks of fire which utterly destroyed everything on and around the island for miles. Coastal people are a superstitious lot. The kingdoms believed it to be a bad omen and made the once popular port taboo. No one was allowed to speak of it, let alone journey there, in free of upsetting the spirits.

Akilu didn’t believe in spirits. The old sea dogs had told him enough stories throughout the years that he believed he knew the truth. It was the ancient elf that blew up the mountain. The old sea dogs say he was a mage that got carried away playing with his elemental magic. Such magic is strictly controlled in the kingdoms, but the island was not part of any kingdom was it.

Ooof… He got careless. Another tentacle had risen out of the magma by the path and wrapped around his leg. He’d fallen flat on his face and his war harpoon had slid away. No unnatural seabeast will get the best of a Darfellan warrior! Akilu grapped hold of the slimy feeler as it lifted him off the ground. He opened his great Darfellan jaws wide, and with a mighty chomp he ripped right through the would-be shackle. Where was Grath? Hadozee are supposed to be brave creatures. At least the Sea Elf had fought beside him instead of turning tail. Akilu, catch. Iridansa tossed him his harpoon. The old ones spoke the truth, she remarked, this is an unholy place. Unnatural creatures born of living flame dwell here. It’s as if the dark prince of flame himself has cursed this island.

Don’t be dense Iridansa, scoffed Akilu. This is nothing nothing more than a mage’s botched experiment. Every unnatural occurrence or magical mishap can be traced back to a bumbling Wizard. We need to report back to the ships. We’ll gather the men and flush out this beastie. I bet it’ll feed all three ships and we likely won’t even need to cook it. Quiet!, snapped Iridansa. There’s something else here, I can sense it.

It’s been so long since we’ve had visitors, came a voice from out of the sultry air. Mother will be pleased.

Show yourself. Are you the master of this hellish place?
asked Akilu.
Oh no, Master Imix doesn’t stay here, remarked the voice, he sends the rivers of flame here so Mother and I may swim freely. As the voice finished speaking, a patch area of lava began to bubble, and the smoldering corpse of a large simian-like creature with wing-flaps was tossed onto the path at Akilu’s and Iridansa’s feet. This one trespassed into our home and tried to steal from us. Is he your friend?
Akilu angrily responded, We knew him, but he was not part of our crew. Show yourself so I may cut your to shreds and be on our way.

From out of the lava, a large fiery tentacle popped up and reached for the shore. Then another. Then another. A mass of tendrils crawled onto the path and slowly began to untangle themselves. Soon, a creature covered in flame that seemed part humanoid and part squid stood before the two pirates. Mother is a simple creature, not much more than a beast really, exclaimed the very large humanoid squid. I care for her. I bring for food when the supply in the lava lake runs short. I can’t allow others to hurt her, you will die for your audacity in attacking her. As he finishes, 8 of his tentacles rise up in an attack position, the ends of them reshaping themselves and hardening in great pincer claws. With barely enough time to blink, the creature lunged forward and was instantly able to wrap it’s writhing limbs around both Iridansa and Akilu. With muffled cries of protest, the creature began dragging them into the lava to alive. Iridansa managed to work her head free. Don’t kill us! If we don’t return, our crew mates will come out in force looking for us. You won’t stand a chance against a two hundred bloodthirsty pirates.

Two hundred living creatures like you? Marvelous. The creature begun to grow larger. And larger. And Larger! It was now as large as any of their ships. It called down in a booming voice, as he drained the last bits of life from the two pirates. I'll go bring Mother a tasty meal. With 200 fresh bodies, she’ll eat well for a month.

This is a lot of firsts for me. First time entering a build contest, first time using CR advancement, first time writing a story. Ignore the story if you’d like. I don’t think I did my character justice with it.

Spoiler: Templates and Creature Abilities
Lavaborn: Magical Beast (Augmented Animal), Natural Armor +2, natural weapons deal 1d6 fire dmg, Immunity to fire, breathe lava (can no longer breathe regular water), +4 Con, +1 CR.
Imix-blooded: Fire-subtype, Imix’s Wrath– 1/day fire flows over body and weapons, attacks deal +4 fire dmg, Burn– 3 fire dmg to melee attackers, Death Throes– burst of fire dmg upon death, +1 CR.
Anthropomorphic Giant Squid: 3 Racial HD, +8Str, +8Dex, -2Con, +0Int, +4Wis, -4Cha, +6 Natural Armor, Skills (2+Int mod)x6, Land speed 30ft., Swim speed 80ft., 8 tentacle attacks (1d4 + Str mod) dmg, constrict 1d4+6 dmg, Space/Reach 10ft./10ft. (tentacles 20ft.), Imp. Grab, Jet (320ft. restricted movement), Skills:Listen, Spot, Swim, +8 racial bonus on Swim checks, +4 racial bonus on Grapple checks.
Tentacles can be sundered as if they were weapons. 10hp each, destroy tentacle deals 5 dmg to the creature. Severed tentacles regrow in 1d10 days.

Spoiler: Build Table
CR HD Class Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Skills Feats Class Features Power Points/Day Powers Known Maximum Power Level Known Manifester Level
10 1HD Racial HD 1 +1 +0 +2 +2 Listen +5, Spot +5, Swim +14 Multigrap (SS p.37) Imp. Grab, Constrict(1d6+8) - - - -
10 2HD Racial HD 2 +2 +0 +3 +3 Listen +5, Spot +6, Swim +15 - - - - - -
10 3HD Racial HD 3 +3 +1 +3 +3 Listen +6, Spot +6, Swim +16 Greater Multigrap (SS p.35) - - - - -
11 4HD Psychic Warrior 1 +3 +3 +3 +3 Autohypnosis +6, Concentration +3, Listen +7, Spot +7, Swim +16 Practiced Manifester Bonus Feat, Ability Score Increase (Wis) 10 1 1st 4
11 5HD Racial HD 4 +4 +3 +4 +4 Autohypnosis +6, Concentration +3, Listen +8, Spot +8, Swim +16 - - 12 1 1st 5
12 6HD Psychic Warrior 2 +5 +4 +4 +4 Autohypnosis +7, Concentration +4, Listen +8, Spot +8, Swim +16 Fire Devotion (CC p.58), Practiced Manifester Bonus Feat 16 2 1st 6
12 7HD Racial HD 5 +6/+1 +4 +5 +5 Autohypnosis +7, Concentration +4, Listen +7, Spot +8, Swim +17 - - 18 2 1st 7
13 8HD Psychic Warrior 3 +7/+2 +5 +5 +5 Autohypnosis +8, Concentration +6, Listen +7, Spot +8, Swim +17 - Ability Score Increase (Con) 23 3 1st 8
14 9HD Racial HD 6 +8/+3 +5 +6 +6 Autohypnosis +8, Concentration +7, Listen +8, Spot +8, Swim +18 Combat Reflexes - 25 3 1st 9
15 10HD Psychic Warrior 4 +9/+4 +6 +6 +6 Autohypnosis +9, Concentration +7, Listen +8, Spot +8, Swim +18 - - 30 4 2nd 10
15 11HD Racial HD 7 +10/+5 +6 +6 +6 Autohypnosis +9, Concentration +7, Listen +9, Spot +8, Swim +19 - - 32 4 2nd 11
16 12HD Psychic Warrior 5 +10/+5 +6 +7 +7 Autohypnosis +10, Concentration +8, Listen +9, Spot +8, Swim +19 Fire Heritage (Planar HB p.39), Imp. Unarmed Strike Bonus Feat, Ability Score Increase (Str) 37 5 2nd 12
16 13HD Racial HD 8 +11/+6/+1 +7 +7 +7 Autohypnosis +12, Concentration +8, Listen +9, Spot +9, Swim +20 - - 39 5 2nd 13
17 14HD Psychic Warrior 6 +12/+7/+2 +7 +8 +8 Autohypnosis +13, Concentration +9, Listen +9, Spot +9, Swim +20 - - 46 6 2nd 14
18 15HD Racial HD 9 +13/+8/+3 +8 +8 +8 Autohypnosis +13, Concentration +9, Listen +10, Spot +10, Swim +20 Final Strike (SS p.34) - 46 6 2nd 14
19 16HD Psychic Warrior 7 +14/+9/+4 +8 +8 +8 Autohypnosis +14, Concentration +10, Listen +10, Spot +10, Swim +21 - Ability Score Increase (Str) 52 7 3rd 15
19 17HD Racial HD 10 +15/+10/+5 +8 +9 +9 Autohypnosis +14, Concentration +10, Listen +11, Spot +11, Swim +21 - - 52 7 3rd 15
19 18HD Racial HD11 +16/+11/+6/+1 +9 +9 +9 Autohypnosis +14, Concentration +10, Listen +11, Spot +11, Swim +23 Imp. Grapple - 52 7 3rd 15
20 19HD Psychic Warrior 8 +17/+12/+7/+2 +9 +10 +10 Autohypnosis +15, Concentration +11, Listen +11, Spot +11, Swim +23 Expanded Knowledge: Energy Emanation (FB p.108) Bonus Feat 59 8 3rd 16

Powers Known: 1st Claws of the Beast, Expansion, Grip of Iron; 2nd Energy Emanation, Psionic Lion’s Charge, Body Adjustment, Wall Walker; 3rd Claws of the Vampire, Empathic Feedback

Spoiler: CR:10
CR10 is where Cuddles starts out with zero class levels or extra racial HD. He’s a scary creature when you first notice him but can’t take much of a hit due to only 3 racial HD. He likes to hang out in the lava pools and moats surrounding his creators fortress. He’s completely immune to fire, swims through and breathes molten lava, constantly has fires pouring out and around him, and has 8 tentacle attacks with 20ft. reach that deal 1d4+6 bldg dmg and 1d6 fire dmg each. Each hit with a tentacle also grants a free grapple attempt with no AoO, that can constrict for 1d8+6 dmg. 1/day flames coat his tentacles and weapons and deal an extra 4 fire dmg for one round.

The best part is that Cuddles is allowed to maintain the grapple using only the tentacle that hit the enemy at no penalty. Normally it would be a -20 modifier, but thanks to the feats multigrab and greater multigrab, he’s still able to fight relatively normally against other opponents. Grapple modifier is only +17 though. Nice swim speed of 80ft. He can just stay in the lava and attack people on the shore or a bridge. If he does get killed, he’ll explode in a fiery burst, 30ft. radius, for 5d6 fire damage. Ref. DC:8 for half.

Spoiler: CR:15 Sweet Spot
He’s much better able to survive a fight now. He has nearly 4x the amount of HP, access to 1st and 2nd level powers at manifester level 11, and a few more fun feats. He has 8 tentacle attacks, up to 6 AoO per round, augmented Expansion turns him into a Gargantuan creature with 40ft. reach, augmented Claws of the Beast gives each tentacle 6d6+8 slashing dmg and 1d6+1 fire damage, Psionic Lion’s Charge lets him full attack after a charge for another potential +8 damage each, and his grapple modifier is +24 base, +36 buffed up.

So, 8 tentacles +15 atk, (6d6+16 slashing dmg 1d6+1(to 5) fire dmg), constrict (1d8+6 dmg). 6 AoO per round.
Anyone damaging him in melee with a non-reach weapon also takes 3 fire dmg.

Spoiler: CR:20
Cuddles’ll make a great climactic villain. He now has self-healing, is able to walk on walls and ceilings without trouble, heals half the base dmg every time he hits a living creature, and any melee non-reach attacker takes half the damage they dealt plus more fire dmg. Cuddles now has Imp. Grapple, for more constrict goodness. He can easily grab multiple people, without penalty, and just mosey off through the lava while carrying them with him. 1/day for one minute, his attacks do even more fire damage and on a failed Ref save (DC:16 negates) they catch fire. He can manifest small bursts of energy that damages all around him for over 1.5 minutes.

Up to 6 AoO/round, Grapple up to +50, 8 tentacles +24 atk, (7d6+9(to 22) slashing)+(1d6+4(to 12) fire), healing half the base dmg per hit.

No one is safe anymore. Cuddles could be stalking you from the ceiling or outside the walls of the fortress, lying in wait in the peaceful molten rock, maybe just waiting patiently for a straggler to fall behind so he can carry them down underneath the lava.

If anyone ever does manage to defeat the cuddle-monster, he has one last surprise for them. “Imix is quick to reward those who follow him, but his fiery anger is legendary.” When Cuddles dies, his body explodes in three great final blasts of element destruction. Within 30ft., 10d6 fire dmg (Ref DC:16 for half). Everything within 60ft., 19d6 fire dmg (Ref DC:22 for half) + (Light Blast) 9d6 fire dmg (Ref DC:22 for half)

Spoiler: Thoughts and Notes
The CR of Anthropomorphic creatures are based off of the base animal. Anthropomorphic Giant Squids begin with a CR of 8 but lose ¾ of their racial HD in the process. To help counteract this, I decided to switch off every other level between racial HD and class levels. Since Monstrous Humanoids gain 1 CR per 3 racial HD, it allowed me to dramatically increase the overall survivability and effectiveness of Cuddles. I kept racial HD and class levels relatively equal as I didn’t want a creature that was too much more of one than the other. Giant Squids also increase a size category at 19 racial HD and I didn’t want to have to deal with what might happen to him t that point.

I calculated BAB and Base Saves using the fractional base bonus system in Unearthed Arcana. Since they went back and forth every level, it seemed the sanest way to do it.

For the fire-subtype, I looked first at applying the Half-Elemental template from Manual of the Planes, but it just didn’t feel right for the type of monster he was. I really loved the idea of Lavaborn from Dungeonscape but it doesn’t grant the fire-subtype, only immunity. I settled on Imix-blooded from Monster Manual V for its supernatural abilities and went back to Lavaborn for flavor. Lavaborn doesn’t technically work with anthropomorphic aquatic creatures, but it fits well fluff-wise that I overlooked it. For a PC I wouldn’t ever consider it. For an NPC Villian, I didn’t see much of an issue.

Class-wise, I had first planned on giving him a couple levels in Pyrokineticist to apply its Hand Afire ability to all eight of his tentacles all day long. Unfortunately, the wording of Hand Afire says ‘Unarmed Attack’, and I didn’t want to push the rules/limits too far. A large creature wielding 8 large Fire Lashes with a reach of 35 ft. would still have looked pretty awesome though. :D With the limited number of class levels I allotted myself, Psychic Warrior seemed the best fit. It couldn’t give me much fire to work with so I handled that with the two templates and a few feats.

For a little extra fun, if he wields a weapon made specifically to be wielded with all his tentacles, he adds 4.5xStr mod to its damage (SS p.42)

Equip him with whatever gear you deem appropriate. He has a decent naked AC of 20(+6NA, +5Dex, -1size), but could always use some help. Just make sure it can survive in lava. :D

Spoiler: Sources
Player’s Handbook 3.5:
Savage Species (SS): Final Strike p34, Multigrap p37, Greater Multigrab p35, Anthropomorphic p215.
Expanded Psionics Handbook: Psychic Warrior p24, Feat p39, Powers p73.
Complete Psionic: Practiced Manifester p 57, Powers p76.
Complete Champion: Fire Devotion p58.
Planar Handbook (Planar HB): Fire Heritage p39.
Dungeonscape: Lavaborn (variant of Acidborn) p112.
Frostburn (FB): Energy Emanation Power p108.
Monster Manual I: Giant Squid p281.
Monster Manual V: Imix-blooded p65.
Unearthed Arcana: Fractional Base Bonuses p73.