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Between your entry and Chris', I'm going to have a hard time casting my vote!
If I had made the final round, I was actually working up a concept pretty similar to this one: something set in an isolatable part of the Court of Ether, with an opportunity to ally with svirfnbelin nearby. Love me those dark fey. And I really like what you did with this idea, and particularly the way you worked your material from earlier rounds into the adventure; I would have been nervous to do that, but you made it all work.
I think the orphne is an awesome dark fey, and would love to see it developed. And I really love the villain's motivation and tactics; tormenting a hated nemesis in undeath is wicked cool.
You've been one of my favorite contestants from the beginning, and I had you pegged for the Final Four from the start. You've come on strong in every round, and I've also always appreciated your positive and judicious presence on the forums. And I think it's just awesome that you've done all this as a first-time designer; you must just have creativity coming out your ears, but you also seem to be able to master the gritty parts quickly too. It's great that you took the step into designing, and whether you win the contest or not, I hope you'll keep at it!
Between your submission and Monica's, I'm going to have a hard time casting a vote. I really liked this entry, from start to finish.
Personally, I wasn't bothered by the timer; I like sandboxy adventures a lot, but for me there biggest problem is they can easily let a party do an encounter a day, which means they can use up all of their daily resources all at once without having to worry about leaving something in the quiver for later. (I've had a lot of problems with this DM'ing Kingmaker.) Putting the party on a timer removes some of that problem. By maybe tweaking the amount of time a bit and choosing the sorts of threats they face judiciously (it isn't that hard to steer clear of monsters that do ability damage, for instance), it should be possible to make this work. Even if the party did face threats that could weaken them long-term, won't they have a well-equipped and supported army to return to? And won't that army have some healing available for them? I think it's totally doable.
I loved the dimmix and the dragon, btw. I seem to have a limitless appetite for dark fey, and the dimmix is a great concept. The phobic dragon reminded me of an old article from Dragon magazine about dragon madnesses that I always thought was cool.
You were one of my picks for the Final Four from early on, and you haven't disappointed at any stage. I think you've got great chops as a designer, and I hope to see lots of published work from you eventually, whether as Superstar or whatever!
I love it that you centered an adventure on the Bellflower Network, since that's always seemed to me a very flavorful part of the Golarion world that hasn't seen a lot of development in published Paizo products. I don't mind the railroading particularly either, although I worry that your set-up leaves a lot of room for the PC's to go off the rails at the beginning. I like the Group Survival system too, and think that could be fun to apply. My biggest concern, though, is that some of the materials at the end just don't feel particularly well integrated; the derro elements in particular sort of came out of nowhere.
I don't think I'll be voting for this one, but your stuff has been fun to read throughout, and I hope we'll see you start publishing soon!
I'm pretty much on board with what others have been saying. It felt to me like you were having a hard time deciding how sand-boxy to make the adventure, and ended up not tying everything together strongly enough as a result. I also agree with earlier posts suggesting that you'd have been wise to play up the whole "special brew" angle more prominently throughout; I myself would probably have tried to find a villain or antagonist of some kind that wanted the secret ingredient for its own purposes, and made that a big part of the adventure.
*Could* round 1 be something other than an item? Obviously it has to be something short. Feats are probably too bitty. Artifacts seem to me to invite disaster. Maybe a spell?
And Owen, let me also join the chorus of gratitude; it's been a super fun ride, and you've done a wonderful job. I won't even hold it against you for voting against me twice ;-)
Perhaps it's inevitable that things have gotten so quiet since the top 4 are all presumably working hard on their adventure pitches, but know that I at least think of you all often and hope you're doing well! Still looking forward to seeing what you come up with; I know all the pitches are going to be great. I hope you're managing the stress well.
Meanwhile, anyone planning on backing the new Dwarven Forge kickstarter? I haven't decided yet whether I'd rather get the new city stuff or buy more caverns pieces instead.
Thanks, RD, I appreciate that. I'm not embarrassed by the encounter, and I do think there were some good ideas there. Ah well, what might have been....
Monica Marlowe wrote:
Speaking as someone who didn't sleep every other week, contestants absolutely MUST have a week off between submissions. There is no possible way that 4-32 people are all able to be effective designers 24/7 for a month and a half. Having weekly turnarounds is a bad idea, we have lives, jobs, families, bodily functions. It would be cruel to expect a 7 day turnaround for both contestants and judges, even if it is just Owen, who never sleeps as far as I can tell. The suggestion does not take into account that there would still need to be judge review time, that doesn't happen overnight. I understand the desire to keep the interest in the contest up throughout, but this is a contest, not an endurance marathon with a triathlon tacked on to the end.
The real trick is, is it possible to shorten the total duration of the contest without making it even more grueling for the contestants? The elements you have to work with are (1) how long you give the contestants to work, (2) how long you give the voters to vote, and (3) any extra time in between, like the day you spend prepping the announcement of the advancing people after voting ends. At present, since the rules reveals have come only with the announcement of the last round's winners, the voting stretches have also effectively been downtime stretches for the contestants. (Though the contestants could of course work on the next round during that period — with the chance that an unexpected rules twist might make a lot of that work useless. I think the encounter and adventure rounds were pretty easy to anticipate, but there was no way really to prep in advance for the monster round with any confidence.) What Lady Firedove is suggesting would take away the downtime by moving up the rules release to the beginning of the voting period for the previous round. If you also then shortened or removed the period after voting when contestants would just be working on their next entries, that would shorten the length of the contest as a whole. Depending on how you did it, that might mean that contestants could have exactly the same number of days with rules in hand to prepare their entries, but with no downtime stretches in between rounds while people voted. And Monica suggests, reasonably I think, that (at least some) contestants really need that downtime. And as a busy person with a career, I totally get that. (If you were running this contest during the summer, however, when I'm relatively free, I'd have had no problem with a faster schedule. If I were ever to be a freelancer, I think I would be a *summer* freelancer.)Maybe you could split the difference? What if you gave out the next round's rules halfway through a given round, and shortened the submission period just a little? That way people could start working in earnest if they wanted to, and maybe even have more total days to work, shorten the overall contest a little, and not take away all the downtime? Also, by halfway through the voting period, it's often pretty clear at least some of the entries are at the bottom of the pool and probably aren't moving on, so some of the contestants could probably safely infer that they probably didn't need to bother. (I know I wasn't working as hard on an adventure pitch this week as I would have been if I had thought my chances were better, and given the result, and how much else I have to do these days, I can't regret that choice.) I also tend to think that a week is maybe too long to give the voters sometimes, though maybe voters might feel differently.
Lucus Palosaari wrote:
I really want to be wrong and I really want all 4 of you to make something I didn't see coming, but even if you had an original feeling to an idea in your encounters, having to set it in Nar-Voth made much of it end up feeling cliche to me.
Fwiw, I was really struggling with exactly this problem as I thought about what my adventure pitch would have looked like if I were in the Top 4. But I think these 4 have mad designer skillz, and I believe they have it in them to surprise us.
I've been trying to find time to talk a little about my encounter since the end of voting yesterday, and finally have it, so here goes:
Let's just say I knew I had some problems. I was worried about the location being too generic, I was worried about the wimblewyrm not featuring prominently enough, I was worried about player motivation to get engaged, I was worried about the artificialness of having a tremor reveal the cave, and I was worried about people thinking that the tremor should have tripped the trap. (I even had a sentence about that in an early draft which I had to cut for word-count.)
(And secretly, I'm delighted not to have to worry about producing a 3,000 word adventure pitch over a very busy couple weeks....)
It's been a really fun run! Thanks to everyone who gave me any kind of support along the way.
Lady Firedove wrote:
Jacob is right, this whole process takes a lot more out of a person than I realized before I was in the thick of it. But I tend to think Lady Firedove's suggestion might work out, especially if it allowed for more actual work time. There was a lot of fretting down-time when I couldn't do much to prep for the next round without worrying that a rules twist was going to send me back to square one. (I almost had to scrap my monster when the Nar-Voth twist came, for instance.) I think that overall it might be a good change.
I guess I've got a few thoughts to share on this topic too.
Fundamentally, I think it's important to begin by celebrating how wonderful the contest is to begin with. This is such an amazing opportunity, and I don't just mean for the people who make it into the top 32. As I've said before on the boards, it's a master class in game design that's open to the public, and that alone makes it special and an act of great generosity. You don't have to be a competitor to learn a lot of the lessons that the competitors are learning (though having been on the other side now, I'd definitely say we learn more. Having skin in the game changes things — a lot.)
Re: the short timeframes for submission: Obviously, more time is nice, and I'm willing to bet I'm as busy or busier than most contestants. The only time I found it really confining was the Encounter round. Partly that's because it included no weekend days, and partly that's because there's just a lot more to get right there. Personally, I think it might make sense to shorten the voting period on the encounter round and add those days to the time contestants have to prep their submissions.
I also tend to agree with RD that the shorter word limit in Round 4, plus the requirement of a trap, felt a bit much — sort of, look how crazy-tough we can be!!! But then, obviously some contestants were able to work just fine within those constraints, so maybe there the problem lies with me.
On Nar-Voth: I can see both sides on the question of whether it's wisest to restrict the bulk of the contest to a single region/theme. You probably don't get to see the contestants' absolutely best work, but it probably is a better test of skills you want to see in a freelancer, and I think Brian makes a good point about enabling comparisons. And I can understand Paizo's desire to steer the contestants toward a product they feel would serve their needs. I also think, though, that inevitably you're going to end up giving a boost to the contestants who by chance happen to favor the environment you chose. For instance, like RD, I'm less at home working in a Darklands environment than I would have been with something urban or in normal wilderness. And I had (what I think was) a great idea for an adventure that wouldn't work at all in Nar-Voth, and was struggling to fix on an idea that I really liked for that environment. (My best idea was a derro-themed adventure that I very much doubt they would have accepted, given their recent publication of No Response from Deepmar.) This isn't to say I feel unfairly treated or anything, just voicing a regret.
In the final analysis, however, I'm deeply grateful to have had this opportunity, and thoroughly enjoyed my ride as long as it lasted. And I expect to watch next year's contest with great interest, even though I won't be competing again!
Kalervo Oikarinen wrote:
Don't worry, Kalervo, I'll submit a great adventure for you ;-)
Seriously, I'm sure they'll sort out the kinks post haste.
R Pickard wrote:
I believe that's Brian you want to be shouting for, though I appreciate the sentiment!
And in other news, I am being invited by the RPGSS page to submit my entry for the next round. If only!
DQ, I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading your very thoughtful and delicate reply. Everything you said made a lot of sense. Especially about competition vs. collaboration — the competition is fun, but it would be a totally different kind of fun to build something collaboratively with a crew like this!
Also, for all that the competition can indeed be isolating, it's also given me an opportunity to have some great exchanges with other contestants, present and past, whom I might not otherwise have gotten to know at all. You people are even making me toy with the idea of a visit to PaizoCon (though don't tell my wife!)
And the "chin up" is appreciated, but don't worry, I'm fundamentally doing great. I've been having a blast the whole way through, and don't regret a minute. It just gets harder to wait through the downtime each round, and there's less and less distraction here on the boards to be had. But happily, my life provides other distractions in spades, most of them welcome ;-)
I'm not sure why, but I'm finding this wait harder. Jacob said something in one of his Sword for Hire blog posts about being kept awake at night by RPGSS-related thoughts, and I've definitely been feeling that way much more this round than before. This obsession is much more unpleasant when there's nothing happening on the messageboards, too.
How long do you and the company like to go between adventure module treatments of the same sort of thing? For instance, since you published No Response from Deepmar in 2012, how long would you typically want to go before you do another derro-themed adventure? (This is not, alas, an innocent question.)
Steven Helt wrote:
Believe me, I would have loved to do a treasure entry, but 1,400 words was pretty confining to begin with. Give us that 100 words back, and I'd have been willing to spend it on treasure!
Steven Helt wrote:
This definitely got my blood pressure up. Then I went and double-checked the rules, and found this:
2015 Superstar Rules wrote:
So you're using the same rules we are, right? Right?
EDIT: It would be extra cruel to BOTH cut our word limit by 100 words AND ask us for a treasure listing too. I think?