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Written by Sam Zeitlin, the winner of Paizo Publishing's RPG Superstar contest, which allows unpublished authors to compete before a panel of celebrity game designers and legions of their peers for the chance to write a Pathfinder Module.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 paizo.com 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 paizo.com, 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!
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!
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.
RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16
Star Voter aka JoelF847
Great job Sam! I'm looking forward to the finished product.
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.
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. :)
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.
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 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!
RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16
Marathon Voter 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
RPG Superstar 2013
Dedicated Voter 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!
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 :-)