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Commenting always drops off at this stage. I'm sure there's some fatigue at work, but mostly it's just a LOT more work to read and comment on encounters and adventure proposals.
And I want to comment on all of them, but I need the time to do it. Commenting on a map or a monster was something I could do in relatively short blocks of time. Encounters aren't so much...
Taylor Hubler wrote:
He may have been referring to a comment (not from Garrett) that makes a definitive statement about the inspiration for one the special abilities.
That made me uncomfortable as well, as it feels against the spirit of the no clarification rule.
Ah! I looked carefully at the full size version and spotted the windows. It was difficult even when I knew to look for them!
Yeah, you did suffer a bit from those symbols and lines not being as obvious as they should be.
And credit for finding a location that at least made sense with your squarish limitations.
If it helps, the map I turned in last year was worse. I was in the same boat as you- no drawing skills and terrified by that. I've practiced some since, and even bad hand drawings are better than bad computer drawings. Even if it looks like a 3rd grader drew it, it's usually better to get ideas across by hand. And it improves with practice!
I think your idea could make for a great map and a very fun encounter.
However, I think the limitations on this map made it the wrong idea for this round. The map itself can be at most 120 x 150 ft, and that's just not enough space for this idea.
Cloud palaces, not to mention the clouds themselves, need to be much larger than they are. The 'massive' galleons mentioned are just 25 x 8 ft., not to mention they aren't really mapped for us. The maelstrom isn't very large either. Etc, etc.
This was a good idea, just the wrong one for this map.
Another cool idea that looks like it needed more development time. The basic concept is strong. I'd like to see this location based on the concept.
I like the phrasing "Progress is manifest by way of sweltering heat, molten steel and ignorance burning away."
I'm wondering too about the 8 stall stable. Seems like a lot of horses, even if that is a giant cart!
I *think* the idea here is that coal is fed into a fire below the floor, and that's what keeps the metal molten, but I'm not sure.
There's a few boxes with Xs inside outside the southern wall, not sure what those are supposed to be.
Anyway, the core of this is cool, but it did need some more development to push it to the top for me.
I think the mapping round might be the hardest round of the contest.
The encounter round has a map too, of course, but most of the focus is on...the encounter. Which is something a homebrew developer has probably spent a fair amount of time doing in the past.
Same with magic items, monsters, even whole adventures. As a homebrewer you've almost certainly done all those things to one degree or another. Maybe not to a professional level, but you've done it.
World maps, continent maps, region maps, city maps...sure, you've done those. Maybe even designed a castle or three.
But an encounter-level map, on it's own, without the actual encounter? You easily could have never even attempted it.
And if you're like me, when you have done this level map for an encounter, you could get away with sketching some lines on graph paper and letting your words sell the situation. No such luck here.
It's a tough round. I do think it serves the contest well, finding those of the Top 32 who are ready to advance.
I was a big fan of the name. Somehow you know what it looks like from the name alone.
The first sentence is a bit awkward to me. Use of "dental crown" may have cleaned that up.
Personally, I never like items that refer to previous owners. What if I just crafted it myself?
And the powers of the item aren't traditionally what wins superstar, being just a couple of bonuses and a re-roll.
However, I voted for this more than once, and it was the image of a scallywag failing bluff, smiling with his gold tooth gleaming, and then succeeding. It just feels fun.
I'll be honest, during voting I was undecided about this one. I liked the tight theme, but sometimes the howling seemed kind of...cheesy.
I didn't always get that vibe, and I think it's easy to fix. Add a little flavor to it, something about being overcome with the instinct of the hunt or something.
That said, I did like the pack aspect of it, and I think that was a really smart direction to explore.
Never saw these, but it would have been a very easy upvote if I had.
Clever item, and it does what I like most- gives players options. And the wording is both evocative and tight, which is rare.
Yeah, it's maybe a little overpowered in some situations, but this is otherwise a superstar item all around.
Voted this one both up and down.
There's some good ideas here. The inspiration of shark's teeth is quite solid. The spinning aspect is a great visual.
The execution wasn't quite there for me though. The name felt very off. I'm not as worried about infinite +1 daggers as some are (I don't think it would matter much in practice), but it's a very fine line of balance you're walking there. And overall, I don't think it quite lived up to the inspiration. The core idea is something very cool, but the actual effects are kinda so-so.
Didn't see this during voting.
This seems a tiny bit situational, but that's offset by being powerful in those situations where it's useful. Enough so that it would likely be a commonly purchased item in many games. That's a pretty good balance to strike.
The recharge mechanism prompts me to ask - 24 hours of actual sunlight? Would exposure to the sky at night count? Normally I'd say yes, but given what this item is doing, that doesn't feel right. Feels like it needs to be actual sunlight. Maybe change that to 12 hours and solve that nitpick.
I utterly bombed the map round last year. Luckily I was an alternate and so my map was never seen by the public.
I made a number of mistakes, but the biggest was not planning ahead for actually entering the round. I believed in my open call submission, and I thought all along I had a legit shot at Top 32, but I was unprepared to move on in the contest.
If you're serious about the contest, practice your maps now. I'd never made a map that had to be above a standard of "Here's some vague shapes I'll tell you about so we can play." I can't draw, so I attempted to learn some map software as well as design my map in the few days of the submission period. That plan didn't work out.
In retrospect, I'd have been better off spending the time drawing by hand. Won't be the same for everyone, but at least I wouldn't have been trying to figure out software at the same time. At least by hand, I can make some shapes that look like what I'm thinking of.
The real lesson, though, was that I should have been prepared. I've spent some time since drawing maps and thinking about what makes a map interesting. Honestly, I still don't think I'd advance past that round, but at least today I wouldn't be embarrassed by what I sent in.
How come the participants from the Top 8 who did not win are barred from competing the following year?
Garrett Guillotte wrote:
A "RPGDB" site isn't a bad idea. I should add it to my list of things I'll never get around to making. ;-)
Well, I'm not contesting, but I'm still obsessed with the contest this time around.
I've watched this contest every year, and I've entered most years, but I've never had the goal of becoming a freelancer. I had a competitive desire to get in the Top 32 (which I still haven't done, but oh so close), and that made designing and entering items fun.
But we got to the map round and I totally whiffed it. I turned in something, but it would barely count as a map. I had a decent enough idea. A dwarven gold mine structure, like you see on mountainsides in Alaska or the old west. A multilevel building, with all kinds of sluiceways and machinery running through it. But I lacked the skills to execute it. Believe me, my map was nowhere close to that, it was basically some boxes on a grid.
My biggest mistake was trying to learn some mapping software in the short time I had available. It wasn't the right time to get distracted with software, but I thought my hand-drawn style wouldn't be workable. Even if I had hand-drawn a map it would have fallen short of what I had in my head, but it would have been better than what I turned in.
And frankly, even the perfect version of what I had in mind wasn't great. I've just never thought about maps beyond sketching something out before.
Anyway, failing at that has strangely motivated me to spend a lot more time thinking about the contest and rpg design in general. I've been going through all the previous year encounters, for example, and reading them and the comments and thinking about what works and what doesn't. Thinking about what I'd do with each of the monsters of the last round, what makes them cool, how you could showcase that with an encounter. That kind of thing.
I've got a lot of work to do, but I would like to move toward freelancing in the long run. I really enjoy thinking about this stuff, and it would be great to do it on a professional level. If nothing else, the journey will be fun.
I'm excited about round 4! This year was a golden playground of opportunity with the environment and the monsters available, and I can't wait to see what these guys did with them!
So now that all the entries are in, which of the top 16 monsters do you think was most used? Which would you have used?
I think Deeplit will be used more than once. There's just too much eerie atmosphere built into it to pass up, though I think it's also got some danger for the encounter designers. It would be easy to let the 'cool' of the encounter to come from the monster, so you have to work harder to make sure the encounter lives up to it.
I'd have used the Spiroskek. There's some ways to use it in a setting it prepared for itself that could be completely terrifying and memorable. You could showcase both monster and the unique environment of Nar-Voth. Plus you get to play with several senses at once. Total fun!
What does everyone else think?
I was vaguely reminded of the Danse Macabre monster from the Skeletons of Scarwall AP, but Coryphae was different enough that it's its own monster.
I really do think regardless of the outcome of the contest, this monster is the one that needs a version in the official bestiaries. It's a niche of fae that should exist.
I was just looking at the overall situation, including past rounds, to see who I think the final 4 will be. Man, I think it's going to be the strongest final 4 in years, with no obvious favorite to win. In recent years I could spot the winner fairly early on, but this year is wide open from my viewpoint.
The 8 are going to have their work cut out for them, that's for sure.
Kudzu Wrap - Usually voted for. Odd that it looks like a single wooden leaf when not worn. Something using kudzu should play off kudzu's extremely fast growth rate, and this kind of does that the the 'explosion' thing. I feel like it's a power that won't come up often in play, though. Not a bad start for an item, but needs something more.
Ring of Remembrance - Usually voted against. This is just a pearl of power. It is a ring-y idea, other than that.
Clangoring Chime - Usually voted against. Not a bad idea, I think I usually voted against it because it seemed like a really annoying thing to have in a party, always making noise. Not just stealth, but walking around town would be annoying. Needs clarification on any penalties "stowed and muffled" would have on readying time.
Counter Shield - Usually voted against. Another redirecting shield, and a basic take on the idea. The concept is one that readily comes to mind, so it really needs some serious mojo to click with voters.
Vestment of the Twin Soul - Voted for and against it. Not sure it's very armor-y. The idea of increased bonding is cool, but none of the manifestations of that idea here knock it out of the park. It basically just lets the bonded roam further from each other. Needs more.
O-yoroi of the Eternal Flame - Voted for and against it. Yes, it's super-expensive. But I think its main weakness was that the really cool power is activated on death. Players just don't want to spend that kind of money for something that only works when they failed. I also think the random round later resurrection could end up being very bad situationally.
Freebooter's Longcoat - Voted for and against. Too situational. Even if you're a pirate, it's only useful in very limited circumstances of pirating. And even then, when its big moment comes...it's not a very big moment.
Dagger of Dretch Dominion - Don't remember it from voting. This is even more situational than the last item. Seems very, very niche. Seeing it's from a former Top 16'er, I'm wondering if I'm missing something.
Corpse Thicket Javelin - Mostly voted for. I like the idea of it, and the images. Does a fair amount of ongoing and removal damage. I like the implied end result of a forest of trees after a battle.
Ghastly Plate - Mostly voted against. Too basic an idea. Nice name, probably worth thinking on that name and seeing what it leads you to that's worthy of the name.
Rod of Eldritch Horror - Mostly voted against. Somewhere along the line I've picked up a personal bias against Lovecraftian items. I feel like they're trying to leverage something that isn't theirs. Probably not fair of me. In any case, if your item is "of Eldritch Horror", I have very high expectations for it to meet. This doesn't quite get there, needs more...eldritch horror. I'd also cut the gibbering mouther. I get what that's going for, but it's the kind of thing voters don't generally like.
Dreaming Star - Voted for and against. Some nice imagery, would like that same feeling to carry over to its main power. The main power feels exploitable with the permanence factor, though I appreciate you tried to limit that via gold value. But I'm nearly certain players would find ways to take advantage of it that skirted around that limit.
Lash of Wild Roses - Usually voted for. I like the flavor and fluff. Not really a fan of specifying command words, these are items anyone can make. Probably should say the only way to escape is X. There are likely other ways that should work.
Foe Stitcher - Usually voted for. Neat idea, in some ways. But overly complicated in execution. I'd drop the whole drag aspect and focus on them not being able to move further apart. In a way, that implies some of the drag aspect. Seems relatively cheap for what you could do with it.
Disruption Disc - Mostly voted for. I like the concept here a lot. I think you hit on areas of improvement in your notes, particularly increasing the failure chance per disc. The risk is that then 2 of them might mean a 50% chance of failure, yikes! It might be worth making the effect non-stackable. You still keep the cool core idea and lose a lot of the mechanical complication.
Traitor's Blade - Mostly voted for. An assassin's dagger that exists partially in the shadow plane is cooooool. I think two things hurt this- One, several other daggers with betrayal as a theme, even though they weren't like this one. Two, the damage to the wielder. I see what you were after, but I don't think it was necessary.
Rod of Resonance - Voted for and against. Logical item, but maybe a little too obvious. Needed an additional twist or two.
Rheumatic Rod - Mostly voted for. I liked the flavor, and the idea of aging creatures painfully is kinda neat. Needed to push that theme further with another idea or two, though.
Mimic Skin - Voted for and against. Thematically tight, but needed to step out of the monster in a can vibe. Needed more of its own unique flavor.
Norgorber's Lens - Voted for and against. I couldn't make up my mind about this one. Still can't. I'd drop the dimension door effect. The lens effect of being totally concealed by the item is cool. There's some mojo there, though the cone aspect of it is potentially messy in play. Some streamlining and you could get this to Top 32 material.
Thundering Shield - Don't remember it from voting. Feels pretty spell in a can, and not particularly shield-y. Also, a thunderous sound seems like it should affect more than a 15 foot cone.
Ring of the Forgotten Acquaintance. Mostly voted against. Skill bonus item, and only in limited circumstances. Those things have a hard time with voters. There's maybe a cool idea there, but it needs to be more than skill bonuses.
Tempest Bow - Voted for and against. Cool visuals. 100 feet is a long way! Feels like it could use a bit more to it. The basic idea is strong, but it needs another level.
Dynamic Staff - Voted for and against. I feel like this is violating the spirit of staffs somehow. I admit that's a fine line, and others will feel differently. But a staff that lets you store whatever feels a little to meta for me.
Staff of Thin Air - Mostly voted against. A dimension door item, of sorts. A bit too much teleporting for my taste. I get the escape theme from the spells, I wonder if the teleportation could be tied more closely to that idea somehow?
Skywalker's Cloth - Voted for and against. Unfortunate name, even though it's appropriate. I like the theme of it, but it's maybe a little too specialized. Mostly players would want this for constant air walk as that's useful most anywhere.
Riftcarver Bow - Mostly voted against. A lot of cool flavorful build up, then goes into...a ranged trip mechanic. Kind of a letdown. The second mechanic is better, but still not super-exciting. I do like your description, though. Good stuff.
Rerouting Shield - Mostly voted against. I had a similar idea for a shield, but it would reroute attacks to allies only. In any case, I felt it was a bit too obvious and mechanically messy, and the same things pretty much apply here. The second mechanic is more interesting, and with some development and flavor it might have done well.
Rod Of Illusory Casting - Mostly voted for. Very rod-ish. Neat, logical effects, but fairly circumstantial for their usefulness. Seems like there should be some sort of save to see through it. As it is, in the right circumstances, this could be a cheap way to a deadly effect at higher levels.
Dwarven Armor Of Exploration - Mostly voted against. A little hard to get excited about turning into mud. The powers are useful, but a bit too utilitarian and not enough flavor and/or mojo. There's probably something in this idea, but it needs a better theme.
Gnome Splat-Pelter - Mostly voted against. The name was a turn-off. Having said that, an ooze firing weapon has its place, it's just not exciting. I think the parts about firing other items are distracting, though if you tightened that up with some themes and some additional powers when you do that, it might well be the basis for a better item overall.
Black-And-White Sword - Mostly voted against. The text jumps around a bit and doesn't quite gel into a coherent whole. I think you knew what you wanted this to be, but I don't think it comes across on the page. Tighten this up and work at getting across what's in your head and you may have something.
Varisian Dancing Chain - Mostly voted against. I like what this is doing, and I like the implied flavor. It's not really exciting enough, but it's thematically strong. I think it might have benefited from making the flavor more explicit, and from adding on some additional thematic power.
Springheart - Mostly voted against. Wonderful description and flavor. I now this was a crowd favorite, but I couldn't get past it being a single use spell-in-a-can. You've got the mojo. Just channel it into something more exciting and you'll do very well.
Raw Meat Hook - Voted for and against. Thematically very strong. Very much an ogre weapon. Promises some very gory combat! And that might have hurt it. For whatever reasons, a certain percentage of voters don't like gore. It could probably use a bit more oomph that plays with the same theme.
Shield Of The Fallen - Mostly voted against. Two things seriously hurt this item. One is that its primary value comes from the player's death. As a rule, that's something to avoid. Two, it references real world Spartans. You'd have been much better off leaving that implied. Having said all that, it's a logical item, just mostly misdirected for this contest.
Warbreaker's Staff - Don't remember how I voted. Decent theme. Needs a better name, and some sort of capstone power than really drives it home. The sunder doesn't quite do it.
Ring of the Clockwork Sentinel - Voted for and against. It's a neat idea. I feel like a bit too much time is spent explaining the rotating combination rings. At first I thought it was alarm-in-a-can, but the compulsion to not steal the item is a nice add. The ability to locate the stolen item sort of works and sort of doesn't. It could be more elegant. Overall, the problem is that voters likely wouldn't find this item exciting enough. It's trying to avoid a nuisance problem.
Talon - Mostly voted against. The name seems a little more unique than it should, particularly engraved on the item. Also don't think the name suits what is essentially a ranged healing item. Along those lines, it just doesn't feel weapon-y overall.
Celerity Blade - Voted for and against. Not sure the main power is appropriate for a weapon, more like boots. Hiding the movement and the flat footed effect are interesting though. There might be a direction to explore there.
Outrider's Band - Mostly voted against. I see what you're going for, but the problem is one that's often been addressed in various ways in previous contests. Vocabulary probably hurt you too. I don't think this is too gonzo, I just think it's not 'cool' in the way that voters enjoy. There's a lot of text spent on things that make sense, but players won't find exciting.
Finally getting around to posting comments on every item. Haven't read other comments, so I may well be repeating them.
Man, the first couple pages are bears!
Windpath Razor- Mostly voted for this one. Like the name, descriptive but not utilitarian. I read this as a wuxia style item, but it looks more like it was intended to be Arabian Nights with the scimitar angle. One concern is the limitation that the power only works when the weapon is being drawn, so there's no mid-combat use of it. "Hovering" is a little misleading since players can move along the wind bridge. Speaking of which, could you use it to cross a chasm? It looks like the answer is no, since you can only be 1 foot off the ground, but the overall vibe seems like it should work that way.
Rod Of Versatile Channeling - Mostly voted against, but that's due to a personal bias against items that interchange positive/negative energy. They usually feel like they're working around choices than making players make new ones. I would move the bit about it working as initally described for neutrals and necromancers to the first paragraph. Keep the limitations with the powers being limited, for clarity.
Alchemist's Retort- Mostly voted for. I didn't like the name, it's a little punny for me. The item itself seems mostly like a way for an alchemist to get a free attack, but that seems pretty reasonable given the circumstances. The way it does it is clever, and I like the touch about the shield indicating what's in it. One of the better shields.
Enlightend Jian- Mostly voted for. Definitely has the wuxia vibe. Not the most imaginative, true, but fills a logical niche. My votes for it were mostly just because I like wuxia. Might work slightly better if the sword can not be used offensively while it's maintaining air walk, like it has to be pointed in a direction to move around, etc.
Mail Of Ash Woven Ramparts - Voted for and against. I liked the visuals on this one, but I don't think I ever got the "ash" theme behind it other than it would look cool. Why ashes? I like that it doesn't work quite like I expected, in that you can go in easily, it's getting out of an ash cloud that's hard. I also don't get why this is armor. It feels a little wondrous item to me.
Grave-Nettle - Mostly voted against. Essentially zombie-in-a-can. That said, the flavor of it is neat, and it's an item that makes sense to exist.
Staff Of The Vineyard- Sometimes voted for. I like the flavor of this one well enough. The berries are cool, and the entangle mechanics are clever addition. I think what hurt it was that it would mostly be used for the entangle, and as such isn't overly exciting to voters. It's a nicely made staff, though.
Angazhan's Bloodthirsty Spear- Mostly voted against. The name is a problem, X's Y items usually don't do well in this contest. Plus, is this really Angazhan's personal spear? Probably not. Some mechanical issues, with what looks like unlimited crit confirmation bonuses. Needs to define how close behind a pierced target the additional target needs to be. As it is, there's no limit, could be any distance. The increasing bonus weapon is a decent idea, it just needs a good twist to make it in the contest.
Chrysalis Carapace - I don't remember this one from voting. The flavor is very nice, though I worry about the butterfly wings feeling a little silly. Moth wings might have served better in this case, though that might seem a subtle point. Just less on the delicate side, you know? I like the concentration check mechanic, though it could use some flavor explaining why it's something this item can do.
Dirk Of Treachery - Voted mostly for. I think there were at least a couple of items along these lines, and I may have confused them at times. I remember this one as my favorite of the type, though. What does it mean to be unaware of its presence? If a victim has seen in sheathed on my belt, do I not gain that bonus? And I know the "gm discretion" probably cost votes, but I did like the additional damage to allies. It's the whole theme of the item, after all. I like what you were after with disguise self, but it probably was better left out since it's not mechanically there. Your idea about a bonus to hide it during searches is a good one.
Monastic Staff - Don't remember how I voted. This feels a little SAK. I get the general monk theme, but the staff itself just seems like random things a monk would like to have. It needs to be somewhat tighter in the theme and a more specific name. As an example, it could play off the idea of super-fast monk vibrations, building off the haste and blur. Add some to that line of thinking and it could work.
Skewer Shield - Mostly voted against. The core idea of loading a shield with a weapon didn't work for me. Firing the weapon out made this feel not like a shield, but like some sort of strange weapon-gun. I'd also remove the choice of returning or anchoring and make one or the other the permanent feature. Why does the shield not provide armor bonus after firing the weapon?
Catapult Ring - Voted for and against. I kept having the image of a gnome launching giants all over the place, and mostly laughing. This could be a very fun item, but it's probably overpowered. A touch attack to move and damage a creature seems too easy. Not particularly a ring. Still, the havoc would be glorious and maybe worth it.
Living Copperthread Net - Didn't see this one until late in the voting, was happy when I finally did. A fun item, and I like the active grappling that it does. The image of an animated net chasing people around seems a little cartoonish, though. That would suit some gaming styles and not others. Might have been better to focus more on the grappling than the chasing. Was glad to see a net item.
Shield Of Compassionate Radiance - Mostly voted for. I'm not sure the core tradeoff of laying hands for small heal bonuses is worth it. Seems like that would be very circumstantial. I also don't see why it should be limited from scrolls or wands. I get that this is a relatively low level item, but the benefits seem a little limited for what you're giving up. It does seem like an appropriate paladin shield, though, and nice job there.
Jailbird's Sweetheart - Voted for. I was a fan of this one. Circumstantial, but something that opens up certain options for stories. I like the touch that one side is a file. The kissing for attuning is fine, but saying that there's no indication of that seems needlessly complicating.
Weapon Trap Shield - Mostly voted against. The name is very utilitarian. As you probably know, there were several shields with this theme. Mechanically, this is one of the better ones, but it could use more flavor. I get what you were after with the polymorph any object, but it still seems an odd choice. The basic problem with this one was that it needed some mojo to stand out in its crowd.
Ragathiel's Regalia - Don't remember it from voting. Essentially a spell in a can. Might be armor of choice for certain paladins, though. Needed more to it, and at the price there was some room to add some minor things for flavor.
Perpetual Vortex Staff - Remember the item but don't remember how I voted. Reading it now, I see it's more themed than I thought. I like the description and its visuals a lot. The powers aren't really related themselves, but I see how the staff's concept connects them. They also aren't spells, so it's not really a staff in game terms. It's tough, I like what this is, it's just not what it should be.
Raven Leather - Voted for, mostly. I like the visuals, though it's probably better to say "transforms himself in to a raven-like mass of shadows and swirling feathers", as it reads now the first power seems like he becomes a flock of actual ravens. Also not sure this is really armor and not a wondrous item. It doesn't do much that's armor-like.
Wing Smasher's Hammer - Don't remember how I voted. The name tells you what it is. Main concern is it's a little one-note. It fills a niche, certainly, but it needs some more flavor and mojo. Also picturing it being a thrown weapon, and maybe needing the returning property.
Courtier's Solitaire - Mostly voted for. Nice flavor, and I'm always in favor of non-combat items. Nice name too. Non-combat items do tend to suffer in the voting, though. Now and then one gets through, but it's a tough hill to climb. Most of this item is some basic bonuses, which don't win voters. But then there's the automatic detection and surprise round actions, which seems pretty overpowered for the price.
Staff Of The Hidden Blade - Mostly voted against. Nicely themed item, but lacking excitement. Needs more flavor, and at least one interesting additional power. The ki substitution mechanic has potential.
Staff of Entwined Elements - Mostly voted against. I have a personal bias against items that blend all the elements. Allowing changing of energy types of the spells just excaerbates the situation. I'd strongly prefer that an item pick one and run with it. Otherwise it starts to feel a little SAK, trying to be all things in all situations.
Honeycomb Cuirass - Mostly voted for this one. Loved the flavor (so to speak). A perfect fit for druid-y armor. Laughed when I saw profession (beekeeper) in the requirements. Probably this needed something more, an additional cool power, but it was on the right track.
Deadeye's Shepherd - Mostly voted for. Like the name. Sort of an obvious niche for a bow, which helps and hurts. Probably would have left out the interaction with the ring. I get what it's going for, but that kind of thing usually hurts in the contest. If anything, I'd focus on expanding the central bull rush theme with additional related powers.
Rod Of Ghost Teeth - Voted for and against. Nice creepiness factor, but it's basically a dressed up magic missile in a can. The tongues is a nice touch. Not sure it's all that rod-ly.
Grandmaster's Plate- Mostly voted against. Personal bias against mass battlefield repositioning. Seems like there's a chess themed item for this every year. I get the appeal, but it's a little too meta for me. The particular mechanics of this item would incline me to use it for the extra damage alone in a key fight. Also, doens't seem particularly armor-y.
Sightstealer Rapier - Mostly voted against. As you mention, it's not exciting enough. Also not sure why it's a weapon, at least not as described. You made the right choice adding 'rapier' to the name. In the end, though, I just don't know that the benefit is enough to make it interesting.
Thieving Buckler - Mostly voted against. The basic idea is cool, and it works as a buckler where it would seem out of place as a shield. The text seems a little disjointed and unclear in places. If I snatch arrow or disarm on an attack, does the weapon go to the extra dimensional space? OK with the bit about it taking some time to find an item, but the time required for the item start acting like a handy haversack is trivial.
Dimensional Skewer - Mostly voted against. It seems in practice this effect wouldn't be very useful. An opponent who was skewered is more likely to be around your allies than theirs, so most of your potential targets would be your own allies. There are circumstances where this would be useful, but I feel like you'd always be trying to create them rather than just fighting as your normally would.
Phantom Guardian's Ring - Mostly voted against. Limited uses, so a ring to switch in and out of the slot. A lot of work describing an effect that's not super-exciting. Certainly useful, but it doesn't feel very ring-ish. I feel like this is better suited to a wondrous item, or even just a plain ol spell.
Mummer's Slapstick - Mostly voted against. Personal bias against jokey items. Pink flamingos and cartoon birds take me out of it. I like that hitting someone laughing keeps everyone laughing. I like the gems made out of paste. Just didn't click with the basic idea.
Name- Labyrinth Weaver. Evocative. Not thrilling, but it certainly sets the stage.
Description- Creepy, esp a humanoid face with 6 purple eyes. The art for this should be cool.
Special Abilities- Wall Weave is the star here, the key to the concept. I like the possibilities. I agree Poison should probably be confusion based rather than fear based, in keeping with the theme. As others have pointed out, Stone Tunnel is very powerful in some situations.
Nar-Voth appropriate- Yes. This monster uses the cave environment quite well. With naturally limited exits in caves, this creature can work to full effect. Also fits the 'wilderness' theme of the region.
Mojo- Yes. The core concept of weaving tangled mazes instead of tangled webs has quite a lot of mojo. I also like that they might taunt their victims. "And now a recitation of my favorite story, The Cask Of Amontillado."
Will players remember in 6 months- Yes. If only for messing up their maps if nothing else.
Mikko Kallio wrote:
While it's arguably less work, it's a different and possibly more difficult task to make a make that's interesting with nothing more than the map itself and a key.
I spent the last week going through a lot of books and modules, and the vast majority of the maps I saw wouldn't have had a chance in this round. Not to say they're bad maps, it's just that their tasks are different different.
Anyway, I think the short time frame was a good filter, and people who know how to make good maps were able to shine through very clearly.
The short time frame also showed me I personally can't make good maps, I'll post more on that soon. But it's a good thing.
Jeff Heikkinen wrote:
As far as I know, it's not explicitly against the rules, but in past years some voters have said such comments bias them against the contestant, even when the comments are wholly positive. If they're even slightly critical, the dislike increases. Best not to for that reason alone.
I disagree rather strongly about whether someone "should" or "should not" need validation to keep at it. People need what they need, and it's different for everyone.
I have no doubt whatsoever that in some cases it can make the difference between someone continuing in a creative endeavor and giving up. I've seen it happen any number of times, with people that went on to become professionals in whatever particular field.
I've been around various creative worlds for most of my life, to a greater or lesser degree. Music, film, writing. I've encountered the idea that 'if you need validation, you aren't going to make it anyway' in each of them, but in my observation I've seen it proved wrong over and over again.
There are some people who are going to make it no matter what. Most people who are going to hit it really big are apparent early on. They have an intense internal drive that's integral to their personality. Those people may not "need" validation (though they quite often crave it intensely).
But the business isn't just superstars, there's a lot of rank and file pros that make the industry work. And some of those people actually do benefit from validation. It really can be the difference in making it or giving up. I've seen it over and over.