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RPG Superstar 2011 has a winner!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Paizo challenged amateur game designers from around the world to show off their skills in RPG Superstar 2011, the fourth season of Paizo's search for great undiscovered game designers. Judges Ryan Dancey, Sean K Reynolds, Mark Moreland, and Neil Spicer narrowed the field to 32 would-be RPG Superstars, and guest judges including Paizo designer Stephen Radney-MacFarland, cartographers Jared Blando and Robert Lazzaretti, and Paizo's Creative Director James Jacobs provided their advice as the contestants answered each new challenge.

In the final round, we asked this year's Top 4 to propose a 32-page Pathfinder Module for use with Paizo's Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Contestants Cody Coffelt (Boise, ID), Jerall Toi (Port Elizabeth, South Africa), Sam Zeitlin (Arlington, VA), and Sean McGowan (New York City, NY) responded with four excellent submissions, but there can be only one RPG Superstar 2011, and so after the judges offered comments, the general public selected one winning proposal to be published by Paizo in early 2012.

Congratulations to Sam Zeitlin for his victorious proposal, Grasping at Shadows which will be released as The Midnight Mirror. Here's a brief description of the adventure from Sam Zeitlin's winning RPG Superstar 2011 submission:

A horror and investigation adventure for 4th-level characters.

In shadow-haunted Nidal, the denizens of the Plane of Shadow intermingle with the common man. Now people are disappearing, and it falls to the PCs to stop the terror. Faced with terrible shadow creatures, an unruly mob of scared citizens, and an unpredictable creature of light, can the heroes undo a greedy and uncaring noble's self-serving mistake?

The Midnight Mirror is an adventure for 4th-level characters, written for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and compatible with the 3.5 edition of the world's oldest RPG. In addition to the adventure, this volume also features a brand-new monster and a gazetteer of a brand-new location in the shadow-tainted nation of Nidal.

Written by Sam Zeitlin, the winner of Paizo Publishing's RPG Superstar contest, which allows unpublished authors to compete before a panel of celebrity game designers and legions of their peers for the chance to write a Pathfinder Module.

Pathfinder Modules are 32-page, high-quality, full-color, adventures using the Open Game License to work with both the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the standard 3.5 fantasy RPG rules set. This Pathfinder Module includes new monsters, treasure, and a fully detailed bonus location that can be used as part of the adventure or in any other game!

As RPG Superstar 2011's Grand Prize, Paizo will contract Sam Zeitlin to write The Midnight Mirror, which we will release as a Pathfinder Module in January, 2012.

But you don't have to wait until January to reserve your copy! Head over to the new The Midnight Mirror product page here on to preorder your copy of Sam Zeitlin's winning adventure! If you're already a Pathfinder Modules subscriber, The Midnight Mirror will arrive as part of your subscription.

On behalf of our judges as well as the whole Paizo Publishing family, congratulations to Cody Coffelt, Jerall Toi, and Sean McGowan. Though only contestant one earned the title of RPG Superstar 2011, for the first time in Paizo history, the runners up will be contracted to write a scenario for the Pathfinder Society, Paizo's organized play program. Keep an eye out in the months ahead for when these scenarios will be released.

And we'd like to offer one final thanks to you, the readers of, and to anyone who submitted an entry or voted during RPG Superstar 2011.

And for those of you who didn't, RPG Superstar 2012 is less than a year away!

Hyrum Savage
Marketing and Organized Play Manager

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Nidal Pathfinder Modules RPG Superstar
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Woo hoo!
Good job!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4

Congratulations, Sam!

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber


RPG Superstar 2011 Top 4 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Jatori

Congratulations, Sam. It was a great experience going against you. Now do the class of 2011 proud!

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Well done Sam and all the contestants!

Note to self: I must try harder! HARDER! Eye of the Tiger!

I don't think anyone I've voted for has won anything. Let that be a lesson. If you want to win, get me to vote for someone else. ;)

Seriously though, congratulations Sam. You kicked butt this year and deserve the win.

Paizo Employee Developer

Congrats, Sam! Look for an email from me soon outlining the next steps. I'll give you a day to bask in the glory of winning, but then you have some writing to do. ;-)

This was an incredibly competitive last round, and all four contestants deserve all the praise we can give them. To the three runners-up, I'll be contacting you soon to go over the plans for PFS scenarios.

Again, congrats to Sam and the other three final four contestants. It was a great experience judging for all of you, and I look forward to working with each of you in the coming months!

Mark Moreland wrote:


Shouldn't you be working instead of posting in a blog thread? ;P

Paizo Employee Developer

Black Fang wrote:
Shouldn't you be working instead of posting in a blog thread? ;P

Yes, I'm doing that part of my job which is posting on the messageboards. Also, keeping up a good rapport with four of my brand new freelancers is more important than you might realize. Also, it's my lunch break.

Congrats again, Sam! Please ignore the threadjack all about me.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka JoelF847

Great job Sam! I'm looking forward to the finished product.

Now stop basking in glory and start writing it!

Dark Archive

Nidal! I'm completely pumped up for this!

And I'll be the first one to ask Hyrum and Mark:

Will this be PFS compatible?

Dark Archive

Congrats to you, Sam! Great work!

Congrats Sam, look forward to seeing the finished project.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Standback

Yay Sam! Way to go! :D I'm really happy for you, and looking forward to what you've got in store for us.

And kudos to all the final four - I've wrote this elsewhere, but I'll say it again: I was extremely impressed with all the proposals this year. You all had great ideas, and you gave professional, polished, well-considered proposals at a level I don't think this contest has previously enjoyed. And I'm really happy you're all being thrown right into the writing pool - I'm looking forward to the results from every single one of you.

All the best!


Paizo Employee Creative Director

Congratulations, Sam!

And congratulations to all four of the finalists, in fact! As Mark said, this last round was VERY competitive, and it was pretty nail-biting here at Paizo watching the votes come in. Good times! :-)

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Congratulations Sam!!!!!!

Way to go!

Looking forward to it!

EDIT: Especially love the Shadows.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka primemover003

Congratulations Sam you captured the imagination of many a Paizonian with your Shadowy goodness!

Good job to Cody, Jerall, and Sean as well. Can't wait to see what you'll do for PFS.

--RPG Vrockstar

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

Congratulations Sam!

Well done.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Outstanding Sam!

Well Done and Congratulations! Can't wait to see what you have in store for "us" in Nidal.

Take a day and bask in the glory of it all. :D

Also, congratulations to the other top 3, I haven't gotten any PFS scenarios in the past... but based on how much I enjoyed your writing and story crafting I just might need to check out your scenarios when they become available. :)


Dedicated Voter Season 8

Congratulations Sam, and to the others as well.

Good work and best wishes for the further writing.

Todd Morgan wrote:
Will this be PFS compatible?

Yep! Our goal is to have every module from now on be PFS compatible.


Liberty's Edge

Great work Sam!!

Grats to you and the other finalists as well.

Dark Archive Star Voter Season 6


Liberty's Edge Star Voter Season 6

Congratulations Sam!
I am looking forward to playing your adventure!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

I'll add my "two cents"...

Job well done, Sam. You ran the gauntlet and stayed the course. In the end, there can be only one. And you're the last guy standing with the most appealing adventure proposal. Take some time to catch your breath and then gear up for the next stage of a pretty amazing journey into professional freelance game design. I can attest that the ride most certainly does not end here.

Same thing goes for the rest of you. Writing a PFS scenario, in some ways, is even harder to do, because you have a smaller word count...much of which needs to be spent on tiered encounters and faction missions. Everyone pay attention to your developer, Mark, and he'll guide you through. And the Paizo community will be all the richer for it.

Best wishes, guys. And thanks for a pretty memorable contest this year. I challenge all of you to come back in 2012 and cheer on the next class of RPG Superstars. They'll need your support and wisdom along with all the lessons you've now learned. Give back as you can.



Congrats to Sam, the other Top 4 finalists, and everyone who submitted a wondrous item or a vote this year. Thank you. :)

Congrats to Sam, the other Top 4 finalists.

Grand Lodge

Awesome! Can't wait to read it in all its glory adn run it for my gaming group! Well done!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka Ezekiel Shanoax, the Stormchild

Congratulations to Sam, the Top 4, and every competitor, contributor, and commentator for this year's most enjoyable Superstar! Thanks to the honorable Judges and Paizo.

This is a truly wonderful event that over the years has sparked a lot of wonderful things for many people, myself included. Now - everyone - don't wait until next year. The real test of a Superstar is doing the work, adding to the game, and getting yourself out there with something awesome. Whether it is continued excellence in your home game, your next insightful post on the boards, or your first publication:

Good Luck and Game On!

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7 aka Draconas

Congratulations, Sam! And a hearty good job to the other three as well. Good luck with the next few months as your new Paizo-ian overlords crack the whips and tighten the chains around your immortal souls! Just kidding. I can't wait to see the Midnight Mirror in all its finished glory in a year's time.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka DankeSean

Congratulations, Sam! This is a win that's very well-deserved. Your magic item was one of my favorites, you solidified my fandom with your monk archetype, and I've loved everything you've done since. And this was by far my favorite entry this round (yes, even including my own!) Kudos. Can't wait to see it as a finished product.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 4 aka Scipion del Ferro

Congrats, Sam. You were a worthy opponent. I look forward to working with you and the others on various projects. Hopefully more than just our Scenarios ;) Let's all do awesome!

Dark Archive Contributor , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Boxhead

Congrats Sam! I can't wait to see how this turns out!

Star Voter Season 6

Congratulations Sam!! Well done, and I'm proud to say I knew you when ... I saw you posting on a messageboard- but hey, I'll take whatever brushes with greatness I can get ;)

Congratulations also to the top three and all the other contestants! It's really amazing to see what comes out of this contest every year, and I think you all did the people cheering from the sidelines proud.

Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9


Great Big Congratulations!

congratulations to Cody, Sean, and Jerral too :)

RPG Superstar 2011 aka Ignotus

Thanks for the kind words, all! Participating in this has been all kinds of fun, and most of it has been because of the awesome camaraderie between the community and the contestants. I'm grateful for your support (and your votes), and after this initial adrenaline rush fades, I'll be getting to work on making this a module worthy of your expectations.

And congratulations to Jerall, Cody, and Sean; your stuff has been a pleasure to read and awesome throughout. I'm sure I'll be seeing your names on many more things beyond the PFS modules in the months/years to come.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Big time congrats to all 4!!

Big congrats to Sam Zeitlin!!!! WOOT.

And sorry for you other 3 finalists... the thought of not being able to enter this competition again would be a little heartbreaking. :-(

Congrats, Sam!!! This looks very cool...

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7

Congratualations to all 4 finalists and especially Sam Zeitlin

We all hope to hear from all of you soon, be it PFS or Module.

That said, thanks Paizo for another round of this great contest.

Liberty's Edge

Congrats, Sam! Great work all around from all the contestants. Many Kudos.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Congrats Sam! Great work throughout the contest. It's gotta be pretty glorious standing among Christine Schneider, Neil Spicer, and Matt Goodall as the newest RPG Superstar!

I'm really looking forward to seeing your module. Though I didn't pull the lever for your adventure module, it was very, very hard to decide, and I put off voting til the last minute. I know I'll love what you come up with.

Also, congrats to the top 4, and for every one who competed in RPG Superstar 2011. It was a great year. I really enjoyed each stage of the contest.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Steven T. Helt

Congratualtions to the top 32 on up. And congrats to Sam for winning the whole shebang. Look forward to the adventure!

Dedicated Voter Season 6

Congratulations Sam! Good show I say.

And to everyone who contributed anything this year, thank you and well done, especially the other top 3. I hope to see everyone back next year for yet another grueling round of top-notch gaming fun :-)

Congratulations Sam. You did some really good work.

The Exchange

Congratulations, Sam! I hope you find Nidal as fascinating as I do!

Congrats Sam! Looking forward to getting your adventure in the mail...I know it will be worth the wait!

Shadow Lodge


Dark Archive


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