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It's RPG Superstar Time!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tomorrow marks the official launch of RPG Superstar 2012, Paizo’s annual open-call RPG design competition! That means a lot of excitement here at the Paizo offices, because if this year’s Superstar is anything like the previous four, we’re about to discover some serious design talent that will help us years into the future.

As in previous years, the final winner of this year’s RPG Superstar will receive a contract to write a Pathfinder Module to be published by Paizo. Previous winning modules include Christine Schneider’s Clash of the Kingslayers, Neil Spicer’s Realm of the Fellnight Queen, Matthew Goodall’s Cult of the Ebon Destroyers, and The Midnight Mirror, by last year’s Superstar winner Sam Zeitlin, which is scheduled for release in February!

And while winning the chance to write a published Pathfinder Module is great, it’s also important to remember that RPG Superstar offers value to more than just the single winner. This year, the three finalists will also earn a contract to write a Pathfinder Society Scenario, a downloadable adventure sanctioned for play in Paizo’s worldwide Pathfinder Society mega-campaign. The first Pathfinder Society Scenario from last year’s finalists, Jerall Toi’s The Edge of Heaven just came out last week, and the two additional sequels that make up the “Quest for Perfection” campaign arc are all being written by RPG Superstar finalist and semi-finalist alumni.

Speaking of prizes for finalists, did you know that Pathfinder Adventure Path developer Rob McCreary first came to our attention as a finalist in the first year of RPG Superstar? He didn’t win the final challenge, but his hard work and excellent creativity made him a natural choice when a staff position opened a few years ago, and he’s now one of the most important elements of Paizo’s monthly editorial effort here at the Paizo offices.

This year’s competition begins tomorrow with an open call that asks you to submit an original wondrous item by January 6, 2012. If you can use your 300 words wisely (and awesomely) enough to earn a place in the judges’ Top 32, you’re on your way to what might just become a RPG design career! As a special treat, we plan to include selected wondrous items from this year’s Top 32 in 2012’s Ultimate Equipment Pathfinder RPG hardcover, which will also include selected favorites from previous years.

See paizo.com/rpgsuperstar for more details, a complete RPG Superstar calendar, and rules for Round 1.

So start sharpening your pencils and shaking up your creativity. The next RPG Superstar could be you!

Erik Mona
Publisher

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Pathfinder Modules Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Pathfinder Society RPG Superstar
Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Good luck to everyone!!!! Already getting nervous about my idea... :)

Taldor RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka primemover003

And so it begins...

--For those about to Vrock! WE. SALUTE. YOU.

Andoran Star Voter 2013

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Getting my typing hand warmed up for this one. Good luck to everyone!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Good luck folks! Don't be afraid to try. You won't regret it.

Andoran RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka JoelF847

1 person marked this as a favorite.

And so it begins....

Extra cool news about some of the top 32 items getting into Ultimate Equipment!

Taldor RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka primemover003

Joel Flank wrote:

And so it begins....

Extra cool news about some of the top 32 items getting into Ultimate Equipment!

Yeah Erik leaked that at GenCon in the Future of Paizo seminar. I hope my Boots make it in! That would Vrock my socks off!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka John Benbo

Good luck to everyone. Joel, Scott, I hope to see both your names again next year.

Silver Crusade Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

Good luck to everyone!

I'm super psyched!

Paizo Employee Developer , Dedicated Voter 2014

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Good luck, folks!

The secret to winning is wowing everyone with stacks of awesome!


Very cool. Good luck, everybody!

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013

And here I was thinking about not entering this time around. The chance to appear in Ultimate Equipment is too good to pass up.

Hmmm... time to get noodlin'.


Wait, Ultimate Equipment? But... But... My money! ;_;

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Think I may have to enter this one. Now what to do...Hmm. Oh the ideas.

Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

I (like so many others) am super-excited by this year's RPG Superstar... it comes with the wonderful return of Mighty Orcus himself... Clark Peterson! (Welcome back Clark!) And not only that, Sean, Ryan and Neil will continue in their judgement duties as well. We contestants that are about to submit, salute you judges!

Just wanna polish my item... I've had it since last year actually... it was one of the few I didn't submit... hoping that this one will be the one this time. :)

Dean

Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Adam Daigle wrote:

Good luck, folks!

The secret to winning is wowing everyone with stacks of awesome!

+1

...covered in AWSOME syrup! :)


good luck, we will be watching :)

Cheliax

Good luck to everybody! I'm afraid that after I postmy entry I will get better idea! It always happens to me! I'm getting nervous!

Star Voter 2013

Note to self: don't get too excited and submit an imperfect item on the first day of the competition.


Just a quick question i didn't see anything about in the rules: can you submit multiple entries for the first round?

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4 , Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Nope, one entry per person. It´s the second entry of the contest rules:

"2. One entry per person. Anyone found submitting more than one entry will be disqualified and any prizes won will be immediately forfeited."

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013

Betatrack wrote:
Wait, Ultimate Equipment? But... But... My money! ;_;

Your money?

When my tankard came out in KQ, I bought everyone in the family a copy. If it's un UE... *shudder*


Pedro Coelho wrote:

Nope, one entry per person. It´s the second entry of the contest rules:

"2. One entry per person. Anyone found submitting more than one entry will be disqualified and any prizes won will be immediately forfeited."

Damn... i have so many ideas, how to pick the best one?

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013

michael peitersen wrote:
Damn... i have so many ideas, how to pick the best one?

My advice?

Conceptwise, ask friends or coworkers. People who are familiar with fantasy tropes but not gamers* If there's consensus on a 'neat' item, that's likely the one you want to go with. (For my tankard, I used two friends who while gamers, neither are the Pathfinder/D&D type.)

Mechanics, ask your local gaming group. They'll be able to spot flaws you miss. If you have an optimizer, they might see exploits that you miss as well.

Proofreading, go back to the non-gamer. Mechanics may be Greek to them, (unless they speak Greek) but sentence structure will be more obvious since they're not a gamer and less likely to gloss over errors that they know what it means.

Of course, choose people who know how to keep quiet. Nothing worse than having a 'codpiece of awesomeness' that would make it through the process, except that someone put on their facebook page** "I just saw Michael's Codpiece of awesomeness! It's going to rock!"

*

Spoiler:
Make sure they aren't hooked on one part. If they ask why your 'vampire's fang necklace' doesn't make the wearer sparkle, or why your boom stick doesn't require the wielder to yell 'blowus stuff uppus!' you likely should ask someone else.

**
Spoiler:
Or google plus, but who actually reads google plus ;-)

Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

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

I'm amped! Make way - for a contendor is feeling the fire!

Too bad that this year doesn't feature a round for archetypes; I have a super glossy all shiny one prepared for that. But first I need to wow the judges with the wonderous item.

/me writes a big sign on his wall, to focus: Ultimate Equipment! That's where the item needs to get to!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

michael peitersen wrote:
Damn... i have so many ideas, how to pick the best one?

My advice?

Make at least three items. Take a break for a couple days, and then pick the best one. Your attachment to any one idea is actually a hindrance to developing an even better idea. The tendency is to try to think of the one perfect idea and make that into the one perfect item, and you become attached and invested. That leads to putting blinders on your own creativity.

I'm quite serious. This Sunday night I made a better item in 30 minutes than I squeezed in the Top 32 with a couple years ago. I wasn't tense, anxious, and I wasn't attached to it. That helped me be more creative and think clearly.

You're not going to be able to divest yourself of tension and anxiousness, but you can bust up that attachment to the fabled 'one perfect item'.

Make at least three items. Sleep on it for a couple days. Pick the best one.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013

one other bit of advice.

Hot water.

Seriously most of my more well received ideas seem to come to me while I'm in the shower. (Some people sing, I design stuff)

Want more proof?

I can't draw maps in the shower. I rest my case ;-)

Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Jim Groves wrote:

My advice?

great stuff.... The tendency is to try to think of the one perfect idea and make that into the one perfect item, and you become attached and invested. That leads to putting blinders on your own creativity.
...more great stuff

+1

The item I submitted was often in my reader's top two, but not everyone's top pick. I could not see past the fine-tuning I had been doing forever.
Matthew Morris wrote:

one other bit of advice.

Hot water.

Or a leash. I find walking my boys lets bad ideas die, and good ones to percolate into something better. :)

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Jim Groves wrote:
Make at least three items. Sleep on it for a couple days. Pick the best one.

^ Wisdom.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Champion Voter 2013, Champion Voter 2014

Vic Wertz wrote:
Jim Groves wrote:
Make at least three items. Sleep on it for a couple days. Pick the best one.
^ Wisdom.

Should have done that myself last year, but I was too anxious and worried I might overthink mine. This year I am channeling the grasshopper of patience.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

Jim G wrote:
Make at least three items. Sleep on it for a couple days. Pick the best one.

Three is a nice start. I guess it depends on how badly you want it.

In my experience the more ideas you get down on paper the better. Take a little time and brainstorm 10-20 basic ideas over a few days. Pick out the best then develop those into submit-able items. Then revisit it a couple days later as Jim suggests.

Also, as with anything, the more you do it the better you get.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

Thomas LeBlanc wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
Jim Groves wrote:
Make at least three items. Sleep on it for a couple days. Pick the best one.
^ Wisdom.
Should have done that myself last year, but I was too anxious and worried I might overthink mine. This year I am channeling the grasshopper of patience.

Rather than channeling all that energy into overthinking and over-designing spend the time writing more items. Sometimes the best sounding ideas just don't work out with any amount of poking, sometimes you just stumble across a better idea.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka John Benbo

I agree with Jim and Dennis. I found it helpful to write out an item, even if I didn't think it was the best. For one, it was good practice, and second, it cleared that idea out of mind. Seriously, one item I wrote up was basically an electric guitar that had some sort of sonic or lightning attack. But by doing it out, I was able to expunge it from my brain and move on. Also, the first couple of ideas that I came up with I thought were really cool but then realized they were too similiar to things I'd seen in a video game or a comic. In fact, one idea that I liked and thought would be innovative was very similiar to one I found later in the APG. As I cranked out more items, I felt I kept getting better ideas for new ones. My Cocoon Cloak was pretty much a last minute idea. But that had spitballed from another item I wrote and if I hadn't done that first item, I wouldn't have come up with my Top 32 one. In the end, it came down to two choices so I backed away and watched a movie to clear my head before making the decision on which item to submit.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka DankeSean

John Bennett wrote:
Seriously, one item I wrote up was basically an electric guitar that had some sort of sonic or lightning attack. But by doing it out, I was able to expunge it from my brain and move on.

I think it's definitely worth putting a spotlight on this: sometimes you don't realize a bad idea is a bad idea until you've fleshed it out and seen the emperor has no clothes. I've got a file full of dozens of general magic item ideas that I came up with between '09 and last year's contest. Out of those, a lot of poor ideas were pretty obvious just from the one or two lines of description and never got developed, but there were also more than a few that I thought were cool ideas until I gave them a full write up, at which point I said 'ugh'. And even some of those I thought were still worthwhile ideas until I came back and reviewed them later and suddenly realized how non-superstar they were.

All of which, I suppose, is me agreeing with what Jim, Dennis, John, etc. have been saying.

So, to add something new to the conversation: let's say you have three+ items that, after a cooldown period and a discarding of subpar ones, all seem solid and equally valid; all of them avoid SKR's auto-reject guidelines (or you're extremely confident will fall under the aegis of rule #27...). So, how do you pick which one of these potentials makes or breaks you? My advice here is kind of simple, obvious, and after school specialish, but... believe in yourself here. Don't take your three items and do an side by side comparison with every entry from the top 32 from years prior. Don't try and game it by saying 'okay, what can I do to make this appeal to this years judges.' And don't, for the love of god, convene a panel of your friends and poll them to see which is the 'best'. (I do advocate having a buddy/proofreader or two to bounce ideas off of and look over finished entries for weaknesses, but that's different from saying 'tell me what to submit! I can't decide for myself!' In all likelihood, their advice won't be unanimous and you'll wind up second guessing yourself even more.)

You have instincts. If you actually want to have a chance as a contestant, you need to trust those instincts. Pick the item that excites you more than the rest- no, seriously, you know you have a favorite. Go with that. If you're really behind that, that excitement actually comes through in your writing when you do a rewrite on it, which, IMO, does a lot more for making your item superstar than any amount of metagaming 'well, Clark likes this, and Neil likes this, and I'm not sure about Sean, but I think I can win Ryan over if I add this...'

Go with the idea that excites YOU the most. Like I said, really simple and obvious, but every year I see a lot of frustrated people in the critique threads who overthought it instead of going with their gut.

Oh, and to follow up Matt's statement: I personally never came up with an idea while grabbing a shower. My best ideas always seemed to percolate while waiting for the subway. So, if bathing doesn't work for you, try standing in a dingy, foul smelling, noisy place where you can watch a bunch of rodents scamper around. Who knows, it may pay off.


I had no idea what RPG Superstar was until today, and now I'm all stoked about trying my hand at it! Started working on an item until I saw one nearly identical to it in one of the ones chosen for the 2008 competition... but I'll take that as a good sign!

Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Where is the information on how to format your submissions?

Shadow Lodge Marathon Voter 2013

osuracnaes wrote:
I had no idea what RPG Superstar was until today, and now I'm all stoked about trying my hand at it! Started working on an item until I saw one nearly identical to it in one of the ones chosen for the 2008 competition... but I'll take that as a good sign!

There are so many pitfalls in creating a wondrous item but there are also so many good threads of advice pointing out how to avoid every one of these pitfalls. Read all of SKR's auto-reject threads, listen to the RPG Superstar seminar podcast and go through all the items that have been deemed good enough to make top 32 over the years and work out why they made it and also why they might have been lucky to make it. Read anything and everything Clark Peterson has ever written in these forums and then with the sliver of time left before submissions close... knock our collective socks off!

Best of luck and enjoy yourself.

Best Regards
Herremann the Wise

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

the Haunted Jester wrote:
Where is the information on how to format your submissions?

Round 1 Rules

If you haven't used BBCode much before, see "How to format your text" at the bottom of the screen when composing a message, and I suggest trying each code a few times.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Starglim wrote:
the Haunted Jester wrote:
Where is the information on how to format your submissions?

Round 1 Rules

If you haven't used BBCode much before, see "How to format your text" at the bottom of the screen when composing a message, and I suggest trying each code a few times.

Thank you Starglim, your link was very helpful!! *so nervous about submitting*

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013

Dennis Baker wrote:
Also, as with anything, the more you do it the better you get.

Except getting married. :P

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

I suspect if I suggested to my wife that we should get married all over again I'd get a big huge kiss.

Star Voter 2013

But, if you suggested you wanted to get married again - to someone else, it likely wouldn't go so swimmingly.

Unless you're that guy from Sister Wives. Then you're okay. ;)

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Jiggy

Vic Wertz wrote:
Jim Groves wrote:
Make at least three items. Sleep on it for a couple days. Pick the best one.
^ Wisdom.

So... I shouldn't have just hopped on during my lunch break and whipped up the first thing that popped into my mind?

I blame being taken by surprise. Never heard of RPG Superstar before yesterday.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

Jiggy wrote:


So... I shouldn't have just hopped on during my lunch break and whipped up the first thing that popped into my mind?

That's what I did last year, and I really wish that I'd let the item sit in my mind for a few days before submitting. It may have made the difference between "alternate" and "top 32." Then again, I may also have made it worse if I tweaked it too much! Still, I highly recommend letting your item sit for at least a day, just in case you have any additional thoughts about it.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Jiggy

I'll keep that in mind next year.

Or alternatively, pee my pants this year. ;)

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Jiggy, two things to keep in mind.

1) There are people who will follow every step of advice, and still not make it.

2) The Bracelet of Shields was not meant to get into the top 32. It was meant as "Submit something get it rejected, get the judge's feedback. lesser restoration ego, go on." Of course the ego needed more like true ressurection after round 2. ;-)

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Jiggy

*crosses fingers*

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Jiggy wrote:


So... I shouldn't have just hopped on during my lunch break and whipped up the first thing that popped into my mind?

I blame being taken by surprise. Never heard of RPG Superstar before yesterday.

Matthew is right. You might get in.

And you can do everything right and still not get in.

There are even a few items that will be great, but get beat out by something just a little better.

What is done is done. Sit back, relax, and prepare to be surprised!

**************

BUT JIGGY- if you make it to the Top 32, you should piss your pants, and then take the competition very seriously. I'm serious here. Don't accept that Top 32 position if you're not going to really compete with all you got. Promise me if you get in that you'll take Round Two very seriously (and every round after that), or just write the judges and let an alternate take your spot.

And I am sure you will take it seriously. I give you every benefit of the doubt and I'm not trying to pick on you at all; rather I'm speaking to the whole community.

You see, everyone associated with this contest, from the judges to the support staff, to alumni like myself.. we're all heartbroken and pissed off when someone enters just to see if they can make the Top 32 and then writes publicly that it didn't really matter to them.

Don't misinterpret me here. The contest is for fun, and it should be fun. I'm just sayin', it's also for real. This is one method to jump start a freelancing writing career. If someone isn't here for that, please don't crowd out someone who is.

Best of luck, Jiggy. I mean that sincerely.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

I know of at least one freelancer who works for Paizo actively who said he wasn't able into the first round of RPG Superstar so it's a tough nut to crack. Definitely bring your A-Game :D

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