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I am guessing that writing roleplaying encounters that challenge PCs in a defined way are extremely tricky. Designing combat encounters or trapped dungeons and the like are well defined in the rules. You can do them well or badly but the process is clear.
Encounters like this are central to what a roleplaying game is but the rule set doesn't provide the same clear framework for design. I think that is as it should be. Scenes like this are going to run very differently for every group. Hats off for putting in an encounter like this and trying to quantify an outcome that isn't just a few diplomacy checks. I can see it being a very personal and intense scene if played well.
Thanks for providing your views James. It's great that you have provided thoughtful responses to the concerns raised here.
I'm going to add my voice to the thought that the problem has cropped up because this is cast very much as 'an encounter'. An encounter has to have a tangible challenge to overcome and consequence if it is not.
By far the majority of parties will never come across the problems identified because the main challenge of the encounter is - be confident, but not overconfident, heroes. That should be no problem for most groups that get this far. For most of them it will be a roleplaying encounter with a goddess. It should be awesome.
However, the focus of the encounter is more on what happens if the PCs mess things up. Most groups will never see that, but most GMs will and it will likely colour the way they run this. Even if all goes to plan, my reading of the Inheritor is not a pleasant one and I'll have to get around that when I run her.
My personal response as I read the encounter went from excitement to bafflement. "She does what? Why would she do that?" Looking at it again, the chance of the bad stuff happening is slim. Only characters who are not the champions that Iomedae really wants them to be are in danger. I still think the damaging trumpets are a mis-step but, even with them included in the write-up, they shouldn't be relevant most of the time.
So, I could have used more time spent on beefing up the awesomeness of the meeting (lots of nice ideas already thought up in these threads), rather than so much time spent on the punishments for ineptitude. So much time spent on what to do if your PCs act stupidly means that we don't have as much time spent on what Iomedae does if she's pleased. It comes across as underwhelming, when the meeting with Nocticula in The Midnight Isles was super exciting.
I totally understand what James is saying about how he meant this scene to play out and I think with the changes mentioned in his post a few up from here, it would work much better.
Aside from this though, I love the adventure. The two set on the abyss are exactly how I want high level planar adventures to feel. Weird, scary and exciting. Great job all round. (I do hate being negative. Especially when so much is so good.)
Firstly, I'll get behind a few of the ideas already raised. Blood of the Elements/Genies is my number one request in the Blood of... line. I would snap that up immediately. I'd like to see it expand the elemental touched races away from just genies. Having Oread clans up in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings would really appeal to me. Spread those guys and gals around.
The Artificers Handbook would really work for me. I'd love to see more detail on building constructs, expanding the possibilities of animated objects, non-magical means of creating artificial intelligences, that sort of thing. That is a very appealing idea.
A thieves book would be great too. One of my favourite 2nd ed. books was the Complete Thief's Handbook. Thieves and assassins guilds and the organisations that oppose them are great fodder for PCs and villains alike. There's an instant conflict within the terms of the book that would allow all sorts of people to get use out of it. Catching a thief could be as much a focus as being one.
While I loved Kobolds of Golarion, I can't see much of a future in these books for more humanoid monsters. It's getting too far away from PC relevant territory and into GM aids. I love hobgoblins and have always championed them as a potential PC race, but I'm not sure going down that kind of route would be a good move. The Revisited books are probably the place for these things.
One race I would really like to see fleshed out would be Androids of Golarion. I would say the market for that might not be there but, given recent announcements, there might be after all. I really like changelings too, and would get behind some kind of book that supports them. Maybe that incorporates other fey-touched races (yes, I know hags aren't fey but they're from the same tradition).
For the People of... line, how about People under the Yoke (or something like that) about Nidal, Ustalav and Geb. Not geographically related but all featuring people suffering under supernatural tyranny. Maybe sub Razmiran in for one of them. Osirion, Thuvia and Rahadoum make for a more obvious trio, but I guess something along those lines is already on the schedule for early next year?
The Tournaments idea is good. I really like the performance combat rules and think they could be developed further. Maybe broaden its scope to cover all sorts of entertainment and call it Festivals of Golarion. As well as gladiators and jousting knights you could have rules for participating in games of Ruk (from Katapesh), new bardic masterpieces, archetypes for different types of religious celebrant to lead these festivals, ways in which festivities can enhance ritual magic (calling planar allies of Cayden Cailean during an epic - sorry, mythic - drinking session), for instance.
Just thought I'd pop in to say congratulations to you all!
I like what you've done with the place. Ostentatious. Not like in my day. (Is that Hodge Podge? Who let him back in?)
I'm a bit late to the party, but I'm working on reviewing all your work to date. I like what I've seen so far. You're some talented people.
Good luck in the voting!
Congratulations Scott on making it to the Top 32 again!
It's the second paragraph that does it for me. The first paragraph is just a bunch of abilities that don't really stand out for me. Why would it grant a bonus to an eidolon's armour class? It's not bad by any means, it's just not doing a lot for me up to that point.
The leaves though, are superstar. They capture the conflict inherent in the druid class. Using, yet preserving, nature's resources should be a constant struggle for every druid (where do they get those wooden shields from). The daily harvest of the tree tokens is a joyous moment for the druid, yet whenever she uses the power of the crown to protect the natural world, it is diminished and will never return to its former state.
That's beautiful man...
A good way to avoid the stress during the competition?
Most of the big reveals last year were on game night for me. It was one of the advantages of being 8 hours ahead. If you're immersed in running or playing in a game session, it really gets rid of the tension - you're simply not able to refresh the boards every 10 seconds if you're GMing.
So get gaming on 22nd January!
(Of course, a five star hotel, dinner and a show would work too...)
Comrade Anklebiter wrote:
You've got to love Mark Twain:
Cooper's art has some defects. In one place in "Deerslayer," and in the restricted space of two-thirds of a page, Cooper has scored 114 offenses against literary art out of a possible 115. It breaks the record.
There have been daring people in the world who claimed that Cooper could write English, but they are all dead now.
Good luck everyone. The biggest barrier to winning this competition is not getting that first entry in. Once you've done that, you should be proud of yourself.
Write, re-write and write again, but above all submit. Even if you don't make the top 32, you'll have learned a lot about the process. It took me three years to get in and each year's entry was an improvement on the previous time.
Also, write up your ideas in the format as you go along. Don't wait until you've got a winning idea to get writing. All my entries last year (other than the awful last one) came out of re-writes that eventually bore little resemblance to the original concept. The first idea might stink, but you can probably take something from that write-up into you next draft. Hopefully it will evolve into something great.
Movement and divination are the biggest things to worry about when planning adventures at this level. Teleport, Commune, Dominate Person (to get all of your plans), True Seeing, Scrying etc can all massively complicate things. Next level you could be up against Legend Lore, Find the Path and Shadow Walk.
It makes for a very different game, but it is certainly manageable. You need to think a bit further ahead, be flexible in the direction it can take and plan your NPCs' defences and vulnerabilities. You don't want to stop the PCs using their funky tools and abilities, but you don't want them barging in on the BBEG in session one, ruining all your careful plans.
Spellcasting villains should probably have wards against scrying and teleporting but henchmen should be vulnerable to this. Have a few ideas ready for when a PC scries that can provide new clues to what's going on that they wouldn't have known of otherwise. That way they feel smug about finding out your 'secrets' and you can drip feed info to them. You can also scare the bejaysus out of them by showing them some terrifying monster on the other end, or you can enrage them with a vision of the villain's atrocities that they cannot stop.
If you throw in an aggressive defence you can give them second thoughts about using those pesky 'game-breaking' spells. A teleport deflecting ward that bounces them into a pool of green slime or traps them in a force cube. Have the villain spot the scrying device and stare them out or start casting a spell at them. Most of the time there should be no problem, but if they always have that one disastrous occasion in mind, you'll find they will be much less gung-ho with the teleporting etc..
Commune and contact other plane are great opportunities for roleplaying. The other being has an agenda and the PC should feel worried about contacting such a powerful being. Powerful angels, infernal dukes and the like will help, but there might be a price at some point. Feel free to have the being contact the PC of its own accord later in the campaign. The PC might regret starting this communion...
Mike, I didn’t expect to like this. I never thought I’d be able to get past the MRA. But, I am surprised and really pleased to say, this is awesome.
I think this submission is the most fun. It’s creepy and funny at the same time which is really hard to pull off. One group might run it as a dark thriller and another might see it as a light-hearted romp. It would work just as well for both, which I think is a real triumph.
It’s really well set up and structured too. It’s not just fun ideas and no substance. You’ve really put it together well. I’d maybe lose one scene to cut the length down a bit. Probably the Night Hunters. The others are just too much fun. I love the toad and the warren. A bit more detail on the Emissary would have been nice and some of the DCs are a bit much, but I don’t think there’s much wrong otherwise.
The only thing that pulls me away from voting for you is that I think it could be more polished. It’s a bit of a rough gem and feels a little bit like a really great homebrewed adventure. Some of the writing could be tidier. I don’t think you’re as strong there as some of the other contestants. I think you’ve really improved though which gives me confidence that you’ll continue to get better. The re-skinning of monsters is a good idea for a home campaign and as a short hand for a competition but it doesn’t feel like something you’d see in a Paizo adventure. Using a boggard with wizard levels is absolutely something I would do at home and it would be a lot of fun but it’s a bit of a rough and ready patch for a professional module.
All that said though, this is a great submission. I would definitely play it and I’m already thinking of stealing elements of it for my own game. You’ve got a fun imagination and a creativity which either hits or misses in a big way. Paizo might see that as a risk and I’m sure you’ll have Mark Moreland banging his head on his desk a few times if you win, but I think when you get it right, like you have here, you really bring an entertaining sensibility to the game. Having fun is what it’s all about after all.
I haven’t quite decided yet, but you’re very close to getting my vote. Good luck in the voting and I look forward to seeing what wacky scenario you come up with next!
Jacob Trier wrote:
How is the map/encounter prep going? Like in the organization round, I've raided my bookshelf for some 2nd ed goodness that is still useful today.
You know, when I read the Maidens of Veiled Vengeance I immediately thought of Lady Silith. I love that book. It made medusae work for me as society villains and I guess it did for you too, Jacob. I think that's why I loved your organisation.
The system may have been 'troublesome', but some of the writing on 2nd Edition was superb and still useful today. I still use The Complete Book of Villains for inspiration. A recent campaign of mine had a Half-Elf ranger as a recurring villain, taken straight from that book. Such a fun character. Ravenloft, Planescape, some of the Forgotten Realms stuff (Faiths and Avatars of course) all get regular use in my games.
As dark as the shadows it clings to, this spindly, sharp-clawed creature waits patiently for its prey. The air around it laden with despair, its forked tongue flickers, ready to envelop its victim and steal their very hope and joy.
Legends say that the Laru were once creatures of life and love. Inquisitive fey, they were fascinated by the overlapping of the First World and Shadow Plane. They explored further and stayed longer in the deepest parts of that dark domain and returned tainted with negative energy. The Laru are now pitiful beings. They long for the feeling of joy in their hearts and resort to stealing the emotions of others to satisfy, however briefly, their craving for love.
Standing 7 feet tall but incredibly thin with dark grey skin, the Laru is often mistaken for an undead horror. The tainted creature drains all positive emotions from its surroundings, creating a feeling of hopelessness and despair in all who come near it. This is often the only clue one receives before an attack, for the Laru is a creature of the shadows.
The Laru prefers solitary prey. It stalks for days those individuals that show great emotion or creativity, patiently waiting for a moment when they are alone. Its strangling tongue prevents its target from crying out as it leeches all joy and hope from the stricken creature. As the victim slips into a coma, the Laru fleetingly experiences what it is to be happy once more.
Laru prowl mortal and fey communities, seeking signs of laughter and delight. They are drawn to great festivals and celebrations where joy and happiness are easy to find. Every time they feed, a Laru is reminded of what it has lost and it longs for more. Once a Laru has struck in a community it is never long before a second victim is found.
Anything could happen in the next half hour...
Whatever does happen, it's been a pleasure and a privilege competing in the Top 32. You're all great guys. It's felt like a real team effort to make this competition the special event that it is. I'm proud to be working alongside you all.
Anointed Choir of the Rapture
A rising faction in the Taldan church of Shelyn, the Anointed Choir of the Rapture is directed by the succubus Calliana, in covert service to the Demon Lord, Sifkesh. The Choir, based at Roseheart Hall, is formed around the impossibly beautiful singing voice of an 18 year old girl, Rayna Tellos. Said to be gifted by Shelyn herself, Rayna’s voice bestows a euphoric ecstasy on all mortal hearts that hear it. The succubi who comprise the rest of the Choir are not mortal however, and their accompanying harmony of corruption seeds lustful urges into the enraptured souls of the flock before them. High Chorister Calliana delights in these appetites, driving the faithful to the limits of depravity in Shelyn’s name.
Structure and Leadership
High Chorister Calliana directs the actions of the Anointed Choir and controls all access to Rayna, who is entirely in her power. Her succubi choristers are themselves all breathtaking singers, able to compliment Rayna’s voice, yet debasing the holy words. Calliana has placed small cells of initiated mortal choristers in Shelyn’s temples across Taldor, spreading the corrupting song of the Choir to all parts of her church in the old empire.
Calliana plans to corrupt the Taldan church to the core, filling all devout souls with unnatural lust. Only when an individual’s defilement is complete does she reveal the extent of their blasphemy, driving the lost soul to suicide and into the clutches of Sifkesh. The succubi are careful not to allow too many deaths or disappearances at any one time or place, picking off souls one by one and glorying in each horror-filled revelation. Calliana dreams of uniting the church in one, great, orgiastic frenzy dedicated to Shelyn, destroying the name of the Eternal Rose and damning her faithful to the abyss.
The Anointed Choir is universally loved in Cassomir, bringing joy and happiness to all. The scandalous thoughts and obscene acts that come to audiences in the days following a performance have not yet been linked to the beauty of Rayna’s song. Calliana’s grip on her demonic choristers is strong for now but if the attention of the inquisition is drawn on them by any recklessness, her control of the Choir may start to slip.
Elixir of Resurgent Flame
Three times each, as an oracle (CL 5), the drinker may use the burning flash and lesser cure effect words, with the personal or selected target words. If the drinker is already a wordcaster they may also add burning flash and lesser cure to their list of words known for the next 24 hours.
For the duration, the drinker can combine fire and healing effect words into one wordspell, deciding at the point of casting whether to make it destructive or rejuvenating. If the wordspell is destructive, any points of healing granted by the healing word are converted to fire damage with an effect identical to the fire word. If the wordspell is rejuvenating, all fire damage is instead converted into healing. If either word would normally grant a saving throw, the consequences of the save apply to all effect words.