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Old Marm

DeathQuaker's page

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8. RPG Superstar 2013 Star Voter, 2014 Star Voter, 2015 Star Voter. Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber. 6,226 posts (9,562 including aliases). 5 reviews. 5 lists. 1 wishlist. 14 aliases.


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RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
You could probably ask them to change it, DQ. I asked them to add my middle initial as I'm somewhat OCD about using it for when I publish. They certainly didn't complain about the change (at least not to me; they might have in the office). :)

At this point since the contest is over (and has been for me for a few weeks) and I can't enter again it's not that big a deal, but I may just ask them not to convert my name in the SS forum.

Quote:


Oh, and since you've been so open about requests, I hope you bring back hometowns next year, Owen. That was often added in for the Top 32 after they were announced in previous years, and I think a lot of people liked knowing. I know I ended up meeting one of the previous Top 32 only because his tag mentioned he was from the same area as I am.

FWIW, they did ask the top 32 our hometowns if we wanted to have them be revealed.

I asked for mine not to be revealed since I had an online stalker/harasser problem several months ago.

If because I asked to have my info stay private, they just didn't display anyone's hometown (until the top 4, who did have their info and bios put up), I'm sorry if I ruined anyone's fun.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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What a lovely post, Monica.

And all four of you... whatever happens next... take a moment and BREATHE..... relax.... pat yourselves on the back. Well done all.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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Anthony Adam wrote:
Heh heh, sounds like your mum was like mine and instilled old school gentlemanly manners in you too! :)

Heh. Both my parents were school teachers, and very much into ensuring good manners were had by all. ;) In fact I think my dad is more manners obsessed than my mom was (himself an old school gentleman), but both were very courteous and wanted to instill good etiquette in their kids.

They did a good job teaching me certain niceties, but didn't even quite realize it at first... as I was also a headstrong kid and would butt heads with them. But I really did respect what they taught me, I just couldn't admit/SHOW that right away. They went to a parent teacher conference with MY teachers expecting to hear how stubborn and noncompliant I was only to have the teacher compliment them on my politeness.

Lesson to parents: your kids do listen and follow your example, even if you think they don't. :)

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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DM Jelani wrote:

Hello, I was wondering if anyone else has any interest in working on something like this with me? I've done some modding in a non-organized way when running my own games, but I'd like to develop a robust set of houserules that I can just start using in all my games.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Some things that cause problems off the top of my head:
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1) waiting for the DM to tell you whether you hit/you beat SR/you beat DR/what the monster got on its save/etc.

I actually have found the "hide the AC/defenses" mode of thinking to be increasingly useless. I think the idea has always been to "create suspense" and avoid metagaming but it seldom really has a useful effect and just slows things down.

So in TABLETOP, let alone PBP, I just write on the battlemat the creature's AC, DR, and SR (and in fact in very recent games I've just houseruled out DR and SR entirely in favor of other defenses), so the players can just do the math and get on with it. They still have to figure out in character (with Knowledge checks) things like the source of the DR (so the player knows they have DR X/silver but the PC does not know silver bypasses the DR), but I've got good players who don't cheat with that kind of knowledge. This has done nothing but improve combat and happiness around the table in my games.

In PBP I would strongly recommend doing something similar.

Quote:


2) the DM saying "Okay, everyone roll perception." or "Everyone roll initiative."

The best/most efficient PBPs I have played have the GM do both. The players have no issue with this. They just use the die roller to roll in a spoiler.

For Perception checks, another method--and this is also something I do in tabletop for ambush noticing and the like--is I will sometimes roll a huge block of Perception checks at once. Then when a Perception check is needed, I check the block, use the results, and cross off the line once used. This spares immediate rolling but there's still some suspense and the players don't necessarily know when I'm checking the block. I do this of course only with explicit player permission.

Quote:


3) abilities that have to be declared after a roll, or in reaction to something

I am not really sure I've seen that come up or have it be a major issue. Sometimes stuff is just going to have to be retroactive. If it's a matter of a reaction or defense that will always happen, then the player should put the reminder the ability exists in their race or class line on their profile so it shows up by their name in the PBP forum.

Quote:
4) normal initiative rules

I've had bad experience with the "block" system as people seem to get confused, but that may have been an issue with a particular GM/set of players. Normal initiative can work as long as either --

-- People post reasonably quickly on their turn (they should if it's a "I expect you to post once a day" and that is enforced by the GM), and if they don't, the GM bots them (this again requires advance permission i.e., "Yes it is okay you bot me if I don't post in 24 hours) OR

-- Everyone posts when they are able to post, and the GM just summarizes the actions in initiative order afterward

I'd say "eliminate initiative completely" if there would be a way to fairly determine what/when the monster(s) went.

Some of this makes more work for a GM but a lot of copy/paste can help a little.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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To be helpful, it would be good to know what you have played and what your laptop's specs are.

If your computer can handle it, Pillars of Eternity comes out this week.

The Avernum series might work on your computer. I don't know if they still are but they were recently on sale at GOG.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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Thanks, Curaigh! Feedback is always appreciated.

I've not read that book,but it sounds fascinating, and yes the possibility of those kind of practical applications was what I was going for far more over any sort of sunder ability (its value in the hands of someone already good at sundering is obvious, but that wasn't meant to be the focus).

I'll definitely check the book out!


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Gnome Rogue 3 | AC 19 T 14 FF 16 | HP 14/21 (normal Max HP 23) | F+2 (current +1) R+6 W+2 (+2 vs glyphs) | Perc +9 (+10 find traps) Init +4 | arcane mark 1/1, comprehend languages 1/1, message 1/1, read magic 0/1, Det Mag: 3/3
Spoiler:
Acr +9, App+7, Blf+7, DD+13/16glyphsetc., Esc+8, KArc+3, KEng+3, KLoc+5, Lin+5, Per+9/+10tr, PCook+9, PScr+5,SMo+7, SOH+9, Stl+13, UMD+12

Ceru jumps in fright at the booming (even if quiet for him) voice, nearly a distance as high as her own height, and then jumps again as she realizes the massive creature is addressing her.

She looks in front of her, utterly confused, and particularly at her own hands, to see what she could possibly be pushing. Seeing nothing, she stammers, with tears of confusion in her eyes, "I-I'm sorry!" and just runs away faster.


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Gnome Rogue 3 | AC 19 T 14 FF 16 | HP 14/21 (normal Max HP 23) | F+2 (current +1) R+6 W+2 (+2 vs glyphs) | Perc +9 (+10 find traps) Init +4 | arcane mark 1/1, comprehend languages 1/1, message 1/1, read magic 0/1, Det Mag: 3/3
Spoiler:
Acr +9, App+7, Blf+7, DD+13/16glyphsetc., Esc+8, KArc+3, KEng+3, KLoc+5, Lin+5, Per+9/+10tr, PCook+9, PScr+5,SMo+7, SOH+9, Stl+13, UMD+12
Ceru wrote:
[dice=Perception or Perception aid]1d20+9

With wind, rubble, and chaos, Ceru can barely perceive of the new threat a good 200 feet behind her. Realizing there's little she can do, she just keeps going, muttering plaintively, "I wish we were all safely outside this cavern!"

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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Curaigh wrote:

One other thing I would like to see, which is more for the community than for Paizo. Can we limit participation in the 'let-voting-steam-off-thread' to people only with a Star Voter* tag. (This year's So far I've seen or last year's Voter's Incessant Ramble.) I feel those threads sway voter's against something particularly mentioned. Even non-negative comments can affect this. 'I see a lot X' makes it look like X is not very creative, when in fact X** is just a weapon found on page 123 of the CRB. A lot of new voter's especially take cues from more experienced people here.

As Rich mentioned it adds to the community dialogue so is very easy to bring new people in. Maybe it is just me,*** but I feel it can really sway opinions when people get excited about a very cool contest and want to participate.

To whomever starts that thread next year please include a little bit of etiquette along the lines of Eric's Guildhall. Maybe Mamaursala's New viewer's guide can also mention it.

*Star Voter is kind of random, the community might come up with a better guideline.
**see previous statistics on the overuse of filigree.
***I've seen enough other people's posts to suggest it is not just me. :)

I really dislike this idea. I know the root of what you want to achieve is a good thing, but I am not fond of the suggested method. Voting requires time and Internet access not everyone has in great supply. I get "merely" to Star because that's what my time allows for, and that "small" amount seems to absorb an inordinate amount of my free time I really probably should be using for the rest of my life. If people vote--or even if they just want to observe the contest, ask questions, etc--they should feel free.

Restricting to voter count also just increases the bizarre competitiveness for voter ranks as well. It frankly got really boring watch people bicker over who was going to get to Champion, Marathon, etc. first. And anyone who votes at all, whether it's once or 10,000 times should feel appreciated.

The issue of those posts is they can build a negative tone. (And I apologize for any of that I might have contributed to in the past.)

You want to have a less negative tone, don't put arbitrary restrictions on people based on what they choose to do with what little or ample free time they might have. Instead, set an example for the tone you'd like to see, by starting positive threads or question/answer discussion threads, and ask others politely who are being overly negative to back off.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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Curaigh wrote:

A couple of thoughts for the sake of discussion.

Tight timelines are understandable. I think they should be a measure of a potential freelancer which RPGSS is all about. I wonder if tight timelines need be a measure every round. That is: do five tight timelines tell you more about a potential designer than four do? more than two? more than one? I am guessing a huge difference exists between one and five, but it might be a smaller difference between three and five.

The open call had the tightest deadline of any Round 1 yet. Tight not only in terms of days open, but tight as in here's a twist go back to the drawing board.

One good reason--that has nothing to do with testing entrants' sensitivity to deadlines--to elongate the R1 deadline is to ensure enough people find out about it and have time to enter. I know a lot of die hard Pathfinder fans. None of them, save one who is a regular poster on this board, had EVER heard of the Superstar contest until I told them I was in the top 32. And even though I know about Superstar, I only heard about the contest opening until a few days before the deadline. Obviously I did alright ;) . But regardless, making sure the word gets out is a good thing. OTOH, I know there were a lot of R1 submissions so maybe restricting visibility is intentional. Anyway, just food for thought.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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I had some thoughts on the monster repetition issue... but wanted to wait until the round was over so I could talk about it a little more freely.

So, my name is Rep and I used the geomaw.

(Hi Rep.)

So -- one thing to note is I at least devised a location first, then picked the monster that I felt suited it best. So that was the geomaw. I expect at least some of my fellow geomaw users may have thought along similar lines. There's some assumption here that creature is always picked first so just thought I'd point that out.

And the thing is--while yes, it was fairly easy to predict that the encounters would include R3 monsters and take place in Nar-Voth, we couldn't be sure of it until the rules were announced. To get a 1400 word item and map anywhere close to perfected, I at least felt I had to start drafting encounters well before the rules reveal. That meant drafting a number of encounters that didn't RELY on use of a given location or creature, or could at least be modular enough we could take out or insert whatever the eventually announced twist would throw at us. And I think that's why so few monsters got picked from, because it was tempting to pick a monster that would be reasonably easy to insert or replace in a given encounter as needed. I could be wrong, but that's my theory.

At any rate--yeah, it's odd, a weird fluke, even, that only a quarter of the available monsters were used. But maybe there were other contest specifics that contributed to that, however subtly. Also, the monsters chosen were cool monsters. :)

And I don't think, even having gone through this, it would be a good idea for the top 8 to confer on what they're picking for the reasons stated--sometimes seeing how two different people use the same monster can be as enlightening, if not more, than see people use a different one. It would also be a shame if someone avoided using a monster that really would be PERFECT for their encounter because they felt they couldn't because someone else was using it.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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Benjamin, can I guess you were thinking of the spiroskek for that encounter? :)

Lady Firedove wrote:

Hey, Top 32!

What do you think?
Would you rather have a more condensed overall contest timeframe, but a full week to complete each round?
Or are the off-weeks valuable to you?

There are pros and cons to either. Having some down time to both research and brainstorm as well as to do laundry, work, rest, and do other life-living stuff is a good thing.

On the other hand, and this contest can nearly, depending on circumstances, put your whole life on hold for two months if you are a contestant--something folks entering really need to bear in mind--so it being shorter definitely would have its benefits beyond just helping keep people engaged.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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If I could change one thing... get the encounter back to 1500 words, especially if there's going to be a lot of additional requirements like traps. Seeing how tightly people can write is important, but the contestants also prove that with the 300 word item and the 550-600 word monster (and in other years, an additional written entry in round 2-3). I feel like there was a good reason the round was the way it was for prior years. The word reduction was the only change or twist that happened this year that felt like it was done ONLY to make things arbitrarily harder. (Comparatively, the no-rules before reveal and tight deadlines with weekdays only to work also made things a lot harder, but I could fully understand the reasoning behind them in terms of showing what you can produce within a certain period of time, etc.) They may not seem like much, but I think those extra 100 words could help with descriptions, establishing scene and urgency, etc. I'm not just speaking from personal experience here, but also what I would have liked to have seen from the other--PHENOMENAL--entries, and compared to prior years' entries.

Regarding Nar-Voth -- well, at least with so many Nar-Voth rounds, I felt like my purchase of Into the Darklands was worth it. ;)

This is a very specific area with some very specific limitations on what kind of creatures or locations can exist there... more restrictive, I think, than "river" or "urban" -- had the requirement been simply "Darklands," that would have been more comparable. This specificity creates, perhaps, a greater challenge for contestants, although working within greater restrictions can sometimes make things easier because you can quickly eliminate a lot of possibilities and get down to a short list of ideas quicker. I can't speak to whether it's the reason some interest was lost/comments were fewer this year--I really have no idea how it felt to be an observer this year up until now. :) If it WAS, I'd guess it's because it's a region I'd guess a lot of people don't feel too familiar with; as far as I was able to find, relevant sourcebooks and APs are from quite awhile ago (Into the Darklands is a 3.5 book) and maybe because people didn't feel that familiar with it, they felt like they didn't have a lot to comment on. OTOH, this is also probably why Paizo is wanting new material on Nar-Voth NOW.

On a personal note, I was only disappointed in the Nar-Voth requirement for round 4 because I had a really cool idea for an encounter that used a Round 3 creature that didn't take place in Nar-Voth.... I know, I know, that doesn't make sense because the creatures are from Nar-Voth, but I made it work... ;) But on the other hand, it's a cool setting and generally speaking I thought people usually liked the Darklands. Personally I do prefer other settings myself, but I did enjoy the challenge and themes that came along with it.

Also regarding audience interest.... maybe I miss something, but it really feels like this contest doesn't get marketed much after the open call and Top 32 announcement. Customers/observers will certainly lose interest if they don't get reminded of it, particularly since this contest goes for so long, and voting doesn't take up your time like it does in round 1. I could be wrong, but don't recall getting any updates in the Paizo newsletter about it for awhile. When you go to the main site, you usually get the Store Blog rather than Paizo Blog updates, and you can glaze past that Superstar link if you don't know what it's for or it's not why you're there. Now, I'm not on Facebook, so I don't know if Paizo does stuff for it there. I am on Twitter, and I didn't see a lot of Tweets about Superstar, not from the @Paizo account nor from the many Paizo staff I follow. I admittedly don't follow masses of external gaming sites, but the only external support/shout outs/discussions of Superstar I saw outside this board was at EnWorld--where the announcements were focused on the "free items/monsters/maps" etc. that the contest effectively produces rather than on the contestants or the purpose of the contest--and the Know Direction podcast which I did not see publicized here at all. Seems like there should be press releases going out, statements made, and social media manipulated if you want people continuously paying attention through this three-and-a-half-month-long event. I am not noting this as a contestant as much as coming from the point of view as an observer... in prior years I KNOW I forgot to check in with what was going on about Superstar as time went on because no one, outside of this forum, was ever talking about it and in the two weeks where you're waiting to see who advanced... it's easy to lose sight of things. NOW... all that said... maybe it's better less attention is drawn to it--there's still a massive pool of people who enter during the open call and that could get unwieldy the more publicity this thing gets. But just on the subject of why interest appears to wane.... that's my two cents (you don't own that phrase, Neil!).

Also, is it me, or did the judges post less often than in prior years? I realize they are FREAKING BUSY and should not be expected to entertain the masses on top of doing their jobs, but without them to help engage conversation, that could be a factor as well. Wasn't there a year where SKR was "host" but not a judge; should someone play that role again?

What I can definitively say -- it's been an absolutely amazing opportunity to be a contestant here. Gruelingly hard, too, but amazing. I really appreciate all of you who have been able to take the time to post, comment, and keep everyone's spirits up and engaged as possible. I am pretty sure all of the top 32 and above feel that way as well. Now that I get to be part of the audience too, I will try to return the favor. :)

ETA: Anthony, I'm still waiting for your commentary on my map, now... ;)

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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Thanks for all of the very substantive and helpful comments. They have helped me see very clearly where I have done well and where I need to improve.

Not going to do a point by point response this time, but I'll note for those who are perhaps thinking about how to approach encounter design in future competitions... because I know if anyone at all is reading this, it might be a top 8 contestant next year trying to research the round...

It may not seem the apparent source of my issues, but I let the trap twist trip me up (say that 10 times fast)! Not a Superstar thing to do! I had, prior to the reveal, pretty much the whole encounter (expecting the traditional 1500 word limit, a little over 1400 words) drafted, albeit roughly. I knew that I should expect an additional twist like a trap or something. I still did not quite work it in well. The focus was originally much more on the geomaw and shrine itself--and the shrine's effect on the geomaw and environment. There were going to be incidental troglodytes more as set dressing, to help emphasize the idea lots of creatures are being drawn to this place and wanting to investigate it for different reasons. But I needed to have a reasonable source for the trap and this led to me emphasizing the troglodytes' (later, troglodyte) role.

Long story short I ended up with less of a central focus and too many moving parts. I could have scrapped everything and started from scratch, and that's a decision you have to make in situations like these--whether it's easier to try to salvage an idea that ends up not quite working but would take less time to rewrite, or start from the beginning and hope you can produce something as polished in a short amount of time.

I did try to make sure my pre-reveal encounter drafts (I had a few) had some modular, moving parts so I could adjust for any twists... but not enough, it seems. If future Superstars continue in the vein this one did, where rules are not revealed (save in round 5) prior to the voting results, that modularity is something contestants will have to think about when preparing their drafts. So that's my 2 cents as it were... and also something to take home as I think about where to go from here.

I've learned so much from this competition and feel more motivated than ever than to polish my work and get submitting where I can ASAP -- and get back to editing! -- and am grateful for this opportunity. I'm also enjoying the chance to kick back and watch the top 4 in action from here. :)

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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Monica, Brian, Kalervo, Christopher, can you hear me shouting? Congratulations!

In other news, I sleep now.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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In other news... I don't think anyone's posted a link to the Know Direction interviews. I'm on my phone... Can someone else please put that in a new thread? :)

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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Good luck with your training, Monica.

And to everyone on the results!

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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I think it also takes longer to read through and analyze the entries. Possibly some folks are trying to playtest the encounter, though it seems unlikely.

The relative silence is a bit unnerving though.

I think certainly active interest in these forums wanes as time goes on... in years past, I know I've seldom posted much in the past post item round... I just felt like I ran out of things to say. Folks frankly get weary too... this started back in December, it goes on for quite awhile!

ETA: How many random ellipses can I throw into a stream-of-thought sentence...?

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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Captain Phoenix wrote:
RonarsCorruption wrote:
I just want to say, as a usability geek, this is one of my favorite threads of this years competition. I really appreciate all the contributions within.

So true. Such a wealth of information. This is what I've been loving about RPGSS, it's a free school for 3PPs and freelancers.

I'm interested to know how an editor runs through a writers work and checks dashes. Find & Replace was mentioned, but is there more to it than that? Does Find & Replace catch all the variations?

There's a visible difference between the dashes. You just look and be sure it's the right one. And you want to do more than find and replace because beyond replacing hyphens with dashes, you want to be sure the dashes are being used correctly. Em-dashes can particularly be overused or misused. Sometimes this does mean going line by line to be sure everything's correct, but then again, that's basically what editing is.

Quote:
Also, with regard to style guides, what other guides are common in the industry? Are there British English style guides that anyone can recommend?

For British guides, I don't know, but I'd suggest looking at major British publications that accept submissions and see what they have in their instructions for authors. I'd guess that the Oxford style guide is common, but this is entirely a guess and could be wrong.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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Scott LaBarge wrote:

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 ;-)

Rock on! This is indeed a unique and exciting experience and I'm glad to be getting to know everyone too. Don't mistake anything I've said--I did not want to come off as unnecessarily negative, more sympathize--for the fact that I am very grateful and honored to be here, with all of you.

(And I SO want to go to Paizocon and it always ends up being scheduled at the same time--entirely randomly given the new date--as a major family event.)

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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You realize, Feros, if something happens tomorrow like Paizo's servers going down suddenly and unexpectedly, we WILL be blaming you. :)

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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Scott LaBarge wrote:

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.

Question for successful freelancers out there, especially ones who have been Superstar contestants: It isn't like this all the time for a freelancer, is it? Do you walk around obsessing about game design constantly? Or is the dynamic of the competition a unique thing? I'm kind of appalled with how much head space this whole business is taking up.

I hear you, Scott, and Monica too. Although at this point, I feel antsy just about the general idea of waiting for something to happen at all than that what happens to me specifically. Do not get me wrong--I am very grateful for this opportunity, which if nothing else has been a giant, necessary kick in the pants to get me properly committed to freelance game design work which yes, I am new to (outside of freelance-editing some game materials).

I am NOT new to the idea of freelancing in general, and have done a good deal of freelance editing and a little writing; I've also worked full time for publications and am more than well aware of deadline crunch and the hurry up and wait game that the process sometimes entails. I've worked for a local newspaper--under a man I swear was the clone of J. Jonah Jameson--and have had to do things like, no exaggeration, write a long, quality, correct front page level article in 10 minutes because it was a breaking story but the paper needed to go to bed immediately. And I understand bizarre, doom-impeding stresses that come with when you hear someone proclaim things like "crap, we've got to edit the blues" and other things that sound nonsensical to the outside world. I've also worked in other areas that are high pressure and sometimes publicly viewed. While all of these come with notable pressures, one of that has been anywhere near as emotionally or energetically draining, nor moreover, obsession inducing, in precisely the unique way that Superstar is.

Several key differences between Superstar and the freelance/publishing work I've done are that
-- Working on a publication is collaborative, not competitive. Which is why I love this kind of work (by which I mean writing, editing, publishing). Even if you're editing from your bedroom 3,000 miles away from the publishing office, you're aware you're a part of a whole team and contributing to something bigger than just your bit. It's great to feel like you're part of this great big project that's going to look and read amazingly when it's done, even if all you did was delete a comma or get a cranky editor coffee or tweak a graphic, let alone if you wrote most of the content. You want to do well not only to show how well you can do but also to do right by your team. You're always communicating with the team--no, you should not be asking unnecessary questions or wasting people's time, but my general experience is there's always a lot of open communication between editors/clients/writers and the work you're doing is the better for it; you can't communicate with the judges, though, the way you'd stay in touch with your editor/client. You also CAN, although of course you must be very politically sensitive and polite about it and be sure not to be being reactive or defensive, tell your editor/client you think they're wrong right away. ;) But Superstar is by it's nature competitive and moreover we are, understandably, warned against saying anything, and thus it is extremely, extremely isolating. And I never realized how isolating it would feel until I was in the thick of it. That's where checking the board obsessively comes in, to feel less disconnected. :)
-- Even if the end result is very public, you don't feel in the public eye the way you do when you're waiting for people to vote for you. And moreover, usually pre-publication, NDAs keep you from interacting with the public--but also, because it's pre-publication, the public isn't going to be talking to you anyway. We're in a weird situation where the public has access to something and is talking about it publicly, before we're allowed to talk about it. (ETA--yeah, the public can bug you about giving spoilers for something that's been announced but not out--to which you very easily just go "nope" and move on your merry way--but that's different from responding to feedback.)
-- More with the public eye, I think we're in a very small (relatively speaking) but avid group of observers and we feel a lot more WATCHED than most folks who have credits on a game book. This can contribute to some performance anxiety.
-- In freelance or publishing, I've yet to get as an assignment in the following manner: "we need you to write something a month from now, but we're not going to tell you what the subject matter is until two and a half days before it's due, so you can't even research what it is we want you to be working on."
-- The whole point of freelancing is you control your schedule, and do your work when you have time to and set your commitments around that. Obviously, you have to make yourself available and accept jobs whenever possible, because if you're always telling employers "well, I can't do it because..." they'll stop asking you to work for them. But at the same time, you can be very up front with your editors/clients about your schedule, e.g., "I work full time so it would be best to get assignments/jobs for the weekend, even if you don't get it to me until Friday afternoon and I turn it in first thing Monday morning" and they can work with you on that. Even though you absolutely MUST prove you can work hard and fast and stick to deadlines (getting things in early even), scheduling is, within reason, flexible and negotiable. When you sign up for Superstar, you signed up for a very fixed and unforgiving schedule---now, we all knew what we came in for and the schedule was posted well ahead of time--but then you're asking if this is what freelance is like and my general experience is, no, it's not.
-- It's not usually a three-four month long ride with a lot of hurry up and wait in between (although there definitely can be hurry up and wait issues in publishing); with a freelance project it's more often a project that comes in, you do it, and it's done, often in a week or less, and then you get on with your life till the next thing comes in or your decide to respond to an open call, etc. I've had longer projects like editing novels, but those are sustained activity rather than rushing through a two and a half day deadline and then waiting two weeks for the next assignment while being largely isolated from anyone I'm supposed to be working with.

The last I think is why Superstar is particularly stressful... just because of the sheer length of time you end up committed to this cycle if you are successful. And it's a reality that doesn't really set in until you're in the middle of it. And that's also why the obsession kicks in--because it's important, and you don't want to lose sight of it while you know you're only waiting for the next step to happen, so your brain keeps reminding you of it. And you want to check in with everybody on the message board to be reminded you're really not alone in this. At least, that's where I'm coming from. Maybe it's just me.

Please note none of the above are complaints, per se, just my observations on what I feel are differences between freelancing/publishing work and this contest, and why those differences may contribute to some anxiety/compulsiveness. Most of the aspects of Superstar are the way they are for GOOD reason--including not replying (which is really to protect US) and the way the schedule works, etc. And who knows... maybe this is what freelance game design in particular is like... but I doubt it is as isolating at least.

All this is to say--chin up, you're getting some good writing challenges and experiences and I am pretty sure it isn't always going to feel like this. :)

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Treasure is an interesting thing, as I didn't really think about it for this round since we were told not to. But it occurs to me, while I've written a lot of encounter and adventure outlines as a GM (which I fully recognize is different from writing one as a designer), most of the treasure I've often written has been bearing partly in mind the specific party I am running for. Obviously what is appropriate to the particular creatures/challenges/environment is the other part of it, but I'm used to tailoring.

I'd be challenged to think about what to include when you have to consider all kinds of different party make ups -- as you still want stuff that is going to be interesting or useful for most PCs. And yet at the same time you don't want to be obviously generic...

Maybe it's not the most important thing, but something I should incorporate into practice runs and collections for my portfolio.

Glad we did not have to do a treasure line for the round though, for the reasons the rules themselves state.

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The goblins already have my soul, my happiness, and my chocolate chip cookies. If they take my submission I will hotglue them to the Happy Hut and force them to watch the Brady Bunch forever.

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Monica Marlowe wrote:
dana huber wrote:
*eats popcorn, observes!*
We will remember this moment Dana.

But I still have the garlic butter for the popcorn... *whistles*

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*hits submit*

*applies fresh coat of deodorant*

(Seriously, actually sweating up a storm and it's a balmy 7 degrees outside.)

Christopher Wasko wrote:
And now, of course, I think of one little tweak that would have made my encounter significantly stronger :/ Ah well, the die is cast.

Oh, I'm right there with you. Already thinking of things I should have done differently.

Is this the part where we all hold hands and pray?

And Kalervo, I'm with you too. Was nearly falling asleep at keyboard, went to bed, proceeded to have endless actual nightmares about things going crazy wrong with the map, word count, etc.

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Christopher Wasko wrote:
Pedro Coelho wrote:
If you have the chance, I strongly recommend that you playtest your encounter. There's still time to make some tweaks afterward.
If I had time and a group to do so with, I would. But everyone works, sadly :/

This. Remember unlike previous years we have not been given full rules until the advanced contestants are revealed (and in this round the rules were further delayed a little), and the deadlines have been designed specifically so we don't have the weekend to work with. (As an aside, my freelance editing clients usually, though of course not always, do give me the weekend, even if it's only those 2 days.)

While I think a lot of us probably guessed many of this encounter's details beforehand and started work early, still hard to be sure you're on the right track (and worry about wasting time barking up the wrong tree), or make arrangements with friends to help, especially when friends also work, have families, etc.

Certainly under other circumstances, finding time to playtest when possible would be ideal.


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Gnome Rogue 3 | AC 19 T 14 FF 16 | HP 14/21 (normal Max HP 23) | F+2 (current +1) R+6 W+2 (+2 vs glyphs) | Perc +9 (+10 find traps) Init +4 | arcane mark 1/1, comprehend languages 1/1, message 1/1, read magic 0/1, Det Mag: 3/3
Spoiler:
Acr +9, App+7, Blf+7, DD+13/16glyphsetc., Esc+8, KArc+3, KEng+3, KLoc+5, Lin+5, Per+9/+10tr, PCook+9, PScr+5,SMo+7, SOH+9, Stl+13, UMD+12

Busy now! Bot Ceru as needed! :)

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Gabriel, Monica, Brian, Kalervo, Ben, Scott, and Christopher--Congrats!

Is it me or are the rules for the encounter round not up yet? 'Cause if round is already open, we need the rules! Minutes are going by! *panics*

(Ninja'ed by Mamaursula. It's not just me!)

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I ban whining, chatter that distracts from game when the GM asked people to shut up and focus ten times already, and people who do not provide the GM chocolate.

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Thanks all for the feedback and comments. I fully admit I have not designed a lot of monsters in my time so really wasn't sure how this was going to turn out, and even in spite of many--legitimately pointed out--flaws, I am happy with how this turned out, and moreover that many were sufficiently creeped out by it or could see ways to use it. It's interesting to see it compared to a lot of things from pop culture I'm not actually familiar with (except wheelers, but I wasn't really thinking of those). :)

What follows is a lengthy set of explanations and answers to concerns and suggestions mentioned. They are not excuses. Read or not as you desire.

Spoiler:

YOU DIDN'T ALPHABETIZE THE IMMUNITIES None of you will ever understand how very angry I am at myself for doing this, given I only checked the document for consistent alphabetization approximately 800 times, and my friends who checked over my creature didn't notice it either.

How does the "wheel" work? Being a magical creature, it could any number of ways, but I picture it like this: the hind legs of this insectoid have turned in and move on a complex series of turny joints, and have grown large chitinous flaps that come together to make the wheel shape. If you looked with invisi-vision through these flaps, you would see the hindlegs gyrating away to create forward or backward motion.

Although I also dig the idea of a symbiosis or synthesis with a giant pillbug. Why not?

"It's not a magical beast!" So, I did a LOT of Bestiary reading through, and a LOT of examining of magical beasts in particular. I also looked at, for comparison, aberrations, animals, and vermin. Amongst the magical beasts, I read about many truly bizarre creatures, such as a human-faced shapeshifting spider spellcaster (aranea), a elepha-camel that drinks and spews magic (disenchanter), a bull with natural grown stone armor and a breath attack (gorgon), a space whale (oma), and many more. I don't see "huge bug with a spherical hind-limb" to be any weirder than those things (in many cases it's less weird), and no less likely an "evolution" than, say, a lion that's grown a scorpion tail and dragon wings. The PRD says

PRD wrote:
Magical beasts are similar to animals but can have Intelligence scores higher than 2 (in which case the magical beast knows at least one language, but can't necessarily speak). Magical beasts usually have supernatural or extraordinary abilities, but are sometimes merely bizarre in appearance or habits.

The spiroskek fits this; it is more insectoid than animal, but other intelligent insectoids and arachnids are found amongst magical beasts, such as the aranea and ankheg.

It also is much more like an aranea, ankheg, or gorgon than it is like, say, a cloaker or a gug or most other aberrations, whose "bizarre anatomies" tend to not merely stop at something like a wheel-like appendage and be more things like carnivorous eyeballs and flaps of stalactite shaped toothy skin that eat people. I feel strongly aberration would be inappropriate.

It cannot be vermin, because vermin by definition are always mindless, without an Intelligence score (even an ankheg, with its whopping Int of 1, is a magical beast).

No, Rep, I'm sorry, it's just too weird: My magic pruning tool and quaint cliffside town were seen by some as too normal, boring, and safe. I figured I needed to amp it up a little. Can't win. ;) Really, the Darklands is occupied by mongrelmen, vegepygmies, araneas, gugs, and other utterly, twisted and bizarre things. If I was going to make a Darklands creature I felt it needed to be a bit odd and creepy at least. Sorry it didn't work for some.

Small, Medium or Supersize? I most definitely checked statistics for an elk before drawing the comparison and expected most detail oriented enough to question it would do the same; as you can see from the link they are Medium-sized creatures. Cervids do look bigger than they are because of their antlers; I wanted to draw a similar comparison because I pictured the spiroskek's antennae, etc. also giving it "height." In retrospect, perhaps I should have picked a different creature.

I did not want to make them any larger than Medium for this reason: I have run Darklands-based adventures, and high level ones at that. Many high CR creatures are Large or larger. But Darklands are supposed to be full of tunnels, and even larger caverns can be filled with columns, stalactites, and other obstacles. Running fights with Large or larger creatures--using for example the Darklands flip-mat or the Caverns map pack to help provide terrain--I found that PCs quickly had the advantage regarding maneuverability. So I felt what the underground needed were some Medium, maneuverable enemies, and the spiroskek in part came out of this concern. I would definitely not be cool with the spiroskek being made larger. Its momentum is in part the source of its force---force equals mass times acceleration squared, after all. For its Medium size, it could have been heavier; that's one of those things I don't have a good sense of estimating and need to work on.

As for if it is TOO big or awkward or weirdly built to do what it does: tunnels where most adventures take place would seldom be smaller than Medium, because many PCs are not smaller than Medium, not to mention many Darklands residents such as duergar, drow, troglodytes, and mongrelmen. And duergar in particular would probably be pretty good at maintaining travelable passages for its slave caravans, trade groups, fighting sorties, and so on. So I figured a Medium-sized creature would not have trouble maneuvering. And especially not in Nar-Voth in particular, where there appears to be, relatively speaking, lots of passages to major settlements (good hunting grounds for the spiroskeks) connected by the Long Walk. Maybe I misunderstand how it works, but my sense of the Long Walk is it is large and generally smooth enough it could be host to spiroskek speed rallies easily. An early draft did mention the Long Walk and trade routes but I had to cut it for space.

I do dig the concern about there being a lot of difficult terrain in many areas, and in retrospect, rather than nod to that meagerly with Nimble Moves, I should have just allowed wheel barbs to ignore difficult terrain, which would also reduced charge issues with monstrous momentum.

Silent Image feels tacked on: I worried about this; an early draft had nothing like this and a friend commented it needed some mystical abilities to reflect Darklands flavor more, and that if it hunted humanoids and fey, an illusory ability would be appropriate. Another friend commented it needed something to help tie its tactics together. This did it and I felt made it feel more "Darklandy"---BUT I concede this: it should have been a special ability that more limitedly just glamered terrain. I honestly did the spell-like ability because it strained the word count less, and that's not good reasoning.If I could revise this, I would change the ability in this way.

With its mental stats, it should have more culture: I wanted it to seem vicious and thus "uncultured," but in retrospect I agree, and actually I should have built on the idea of an "oral" (well, clicky-vibraty) tradition of hunting stories and so on. I do stand by it being loyal according to nest and not species, but accept one's mileage may vary on that idea. FWIW, I gave it its own language because I don't see it capable of "normal" speech (much like the flail snail has its own written language it scribes with its slime).

Bleed doesn't work/isn't explained well: I imagined the spiroskeks relying on it in the way theheadkase described. But I also concede it's not described well. One thought I've had since is that it should instead have a gore attack (like horns on a stag beetle) which fits in with a creature whose attack is built on a charge.

I wish, as we all do, I had more time---unfortunately the week the top 16 was announced, I became occupied by a number of things entirely out of my control, including having to serve jury duty and being selected for a trial. I've kept Superstar pretty high priority, but even it is beaten by showing up for the trial so I don't get arrested for contempt of court. I actually turned in my monster early because I was afraid on Friday I was going to be in the courtroom without Internet access all day through the deadline. Oh, and yes, I did make practice monsters before the round, but I did not anticipate the "twist" AT ALL (I figured underground monsters had pretty much been done, but I guess that's why making more new ones is a challenge)--so it goes. If this were a real freelance assignment, when the editor/client contacted me about it, I would have immediately explained the circumstances and said I could definitely deliver something but it might lack the polish it deserves, and that if they decided to go with another writer, I'd understand. And with the spiroskek, if you decided it lacked polish and thus decided to give your vote to another monster, I understand.

Coulda-Shoulda-Woulda: If I could revise this creature, it would have the above mentioned gore attack instead of bleed, a more precise terrain glamer, and wheel barbs would allow it to ignore difficult terrain. Nimble Moves would be removed and feats would be rejiggered to include Dodge, Mobility, and Spring Attack (adding any of these as bonus feats as needed).

This has been an especially exciting round, and the competition VERY stiff, so it's just amazing to get this far, even if I go no further.

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R D Ramsey wrote:

So let me ask, in all good faith...

Does it make a difference to readers of the published materials?

And if not, why bother?

Makes a difference to me. Now, I'm not a typical reader in that I also do freelance editing so I often notice "wrong" dash usage and find it distracting, but it shows me a given publisher has high production standards and is ensuring easiest readability for their readers. The truth is many readers might not actively notice the differences, but yet their eyes will still scan the pages differently if punctuation choices are off (as Garrett elaborated upon).

Garrett, thanks for pointing out the issue with minus signs vs en-dashes in screen readers (everybody should read that spoiler)... I never knew that, and I have two players who use JAWS screen reading software and that's actually important to know as sometimes I mail them statblocks/character sheets.

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On PBPs --- fortunately/unfortunately the GMs of three of my PBPs disappeared in December/January essentially dooming the games to death (two GMs, three games), and the other two PBPs the others have been patient and understanding so far with my intermittent participation.

A "Top 32" PBP could be fun except I don't really want to join any more games while I'm still potentially a contender. Also, if all 32 of us joined it would be really unmanageable unless it was just freeform RP. (I'm in a PBP game where there's something like 10 or so players and it's really hard to keep track of what's going on). Maybe later though...

I've always wanted to run a PBP if I had time... but this is definitely not the time to get that kind of thing started. What I'd like to run is a Pathfinder conversion I made of Goodman Games' "Legends are Made, Not Born," a module that starts at 0-level. I ran a brief tabletop game of this and it worked out well; I had everyone start in an NPC class and when they attained a certain level of heroic achievement, they gestalted their NPC level with a level 1 PC class, where from there they just level normally in their PC class(es) of choice. Hopefully would get to try it someday.

Jensen, if you want to see what's available now, you can always check the recruitment board.

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Sorry to hear that, Monica. I pray all goes well.

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Okay, monster's submitted, trial for jury duty is over, the day is ending.... let's address some more.

First of all, thanks all for all of your feedback -- positive, negative, indifferent, all is informative and helpful.

I sat down at one point writing a point-by-point response to various concerns and I realized the majority came down to one lesson:

Label more stuff. Label houses, label random things, label inns, label the highways, label the hunting grounds across the river, label more points that could be adventure hooks, label label label.

Why didn't I label more?

First, this was my presumption, but I felt like since this was supposed to be a focus on the design itself, and I didn't want too much text to be distracting. Perhaps not the right choice. The parameters were so wide, I found gauging how much information to provide to be quite difficult. How much to explain and how much to leave to imagination? I guess based on responses, the answer is don't leave anything to the imagination at all. Draw for a specific gazetteer or encounter, not for a map folio. (Note: I feel like the above may come off as complaining or begging off---I am not complaining. Just trying to explain my thought process and that I understand where I went wrong.)

Secondly, I was concerned about legibility. I hate looking at a map where the font is teeny teeny tiny and I can't read anything (often indeed because it was designed for print but presented online). There was a particular challenge here as we were asked for a screen-ish resolution (if a larger one) but a print size, and with only some amateur experience at graphics production, I wanted to err on the side of caution. I opted for larger font that would be readable on as many screens as possible. But this meant that I had to include less text.

Unfortunately, I had no way of knowing that my efforts to ensure readability wouldn't matter as they would fix that issue later. So it goes. (I do hope next year the judges specify a size good for monitors in web resolution.)

I probably could have better prioritized what information I did label. Of course I should have marked where the inn was (for the record, it is two blocks to the east of the memorial park, the backwards-L shaped building and the little shed next it). I was more concerned about conveying more governmental logistics for some reason--and that probably makes sense for city design in general, but I of course should have prioritized conveying what is useful for adventure design.

A few other things -- there was a textile mill in my first draft. It disappeared. I expect the griffon fell on it. (Seriously, somehow I forgot to re-add it in subsequent drafts. Major oversight.) There are two highways but I probably could have highlighted them more and also made sure they hooked up better. I forgot to label the very highest level of the cliff (the blob above the cemetery is Woodcliff; "Highcliff" is where the temple to Gozreh is, the area above that I forgot to key/label because there's no buildings on it save the witch's hut). I should have made it clearer Cliffshadow was carved straight into the cliffside, which I hoped would make it an intriguing possible adventure site (maybe even then, that's not enough). Houses aren't terribly varied in shape because I was afraid in a hand-drawn map odder-shaped buildings might just look like unidentifiable anomalies (but in the hypothetical universe where I'm handing this to a pro cartographer, I'd say if he wanted to vary up the buildings as his artistic heart led him, to go for it).

I dig that some folks ain't that into town maps, and others like them. I knew I was taking a risk there--and I guess it paid off! :) Me, I love city maps more than any other kind of map (Cityscapes is my favorite 3.x supplement). I had some overlands, encounters, settlements all to consider for what to finalize and submit. I chose the town map because drawing town maps IS hard, but more because I LOVE town maps and I could only hope I might be able to convey that love through my work. I'd like to think I was at least somewhat successful on that part. Also, this let me save my encounter map ideas for round 4 if I get that far. :) And if I gained anything from this competition so far--beyond of course a gajillion great pieces of advice about Pathfinder design--it's that I really like maps and drawing them even more than I realized.

I'm very happy many of you liked this--that it looks bustling is a terrific compliment, as is James's delightful narrative involving my very failed wondrous item from last year. :) And to hear from Robert Lazzaretti that he would enjoy working on this -- WHAT a compliment. Thank you very much. And thanks again to all of you for your support and feedback.

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Monica Marlowe wrote:
Russ Brown wrote:

okay, let me just say that waiting sucks!

.
.
.
.
.
is it tuesday yet?
I feel like I need to be sedated.

Thanks, now the Ramones will be in my head for the next four days.

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The rear limbs of this elk-sized insectoid loop into a large chitinous sphere. The creature swiftly propels itself forward on this “wheel” while scanning the area with glittering eyes for new prey.

Spiroskek CR 6XP 2,400
NE Medium magical beast
Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, tremorsense 60 ft.; Perception +12

----- Defense -----
AC 19, touch 14, flat-footed 15 (+4 Dex, +5 natural)
hp 69 (8d10+24)
Fort +9, Ref +10, Will +6
Defensive Abilities wheel barbs; Immune poison, disease

----- Offense -----
Speed 40 ft., Climb 10 ft.
Melee bite +12 (1d6+4 plus bleed), 2 claws +12 (1d4+4)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks bleed (1d6), monstrous momentum
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 8th; concentration +11)
At will—silent image (DC 14)

----- Statistics -----
Str 18, Dex 19, Con 16, Int 9, Wis 14, Cha 17
Base Atk +8; CMB +12; CMD 26 (30 vs. bull rush, drag, reposition, and trip)
Feats Combat Reflexes, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Nimble Moves
Skills Climb +12, Perception +12, Stealth +10, Survival +4 (+12 when tracking); Racial Modifiers +4 Perception, +8 Survival when tracking
Languages Aklo (cannot speak), Spiroskek (clicks and gestures)

----- Ecology -----
Environment underground (Darklands, Nar-Voth)
Organization solitary, pair, or nest (3–6)
Treasure standard

----- Special Abilities -----
Monstrous Momentum (Ex) While a spiroskek’s wheel-limb can push the creature forward on its own, the spiroskek can push off with its forelimbs, giving it extra momentum while running or charging. If it activates this ability when charging, it can move up to triple its base speed. If the spiroskek successfully hits during this charge, it can immediately attempt either a bull rush or an overrun combat maneuver at a +4 bonus to the check; this does not provoke an attack of opportunity. If using monstrous momentum while running, the spiroskek moves up to six times its base speed and does not provoke attacks of opportunity. This effort renders the spiroskek staggered during the following round.
Wheel Barbs (Ex) The spiroskek’s wheel-limb is covered in tiny barbs that lay flat while it moves but spring out reflexively in order to help keep the creature upright. These grant the spiroskek a +4 bonus to CMD versus bull rush, drag, reposition, and trip maneuvers, and to Acrobatics checks to avoid falling on slippery terrain.

Wise Darklands-dwellers learn to listen for—and flee from—the faint, eerie “skek-kek-kek” noise that a spiroskek's “wheel” makes when turning rapidly. These purplish-black carnivores of Nar-Voth prefer hunting intelligent prey for the challenge such creatures provide. Certainly, generations of devouring derro, fey, and duergar has caused the spiroskeks to develop improved stamina and a little mystic skill. Spiroskeks enjoy hunting through tricks and ambushes, using their silent image ability to change terrain slightly to confuse a chased target, conceal ambushes, and steamroll prey onto hidden jagged rocks or pits. Many spiroskeks dwell in tunnels near slaver paths to target slaver sorties, as some meat arrives pre-captured. Other spiroskeks have developed a taste for fey and patrol treacherously close to the Endless Gulf in hopes of catching a denizen of the Court of Ether. Such fey-eating spiroskeks sometimes gain bizarre colorations or mutations due to their unusual diet. Spiroskeks are intelligent but have little culture; they communicate in a language of mandible clicks and bodily gestures, which they use to give warnings and exchange tales of successful hunts. Normally loyal to their nest, spiroskeks consider other creatures, even other rival spiroskeks, either enemies or prey.
Spiroskeks are 5–6 feet tall and weigh approximately 170 pounds.

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Anthony Adam wrote:
Feros wrote:

Hmmm...I wonder if we commentators can work together to make sure each commentary mentions a fatal flaw in every map...but not explain specifically what the fatal flaw actually is until after the voting is complete.

I wonder how that would affect the Top 32's sanity levels? An interesting sociological experiment is born! ;)

Or pointing out the fatal flaws now with just enough time left for a despairing wail! ... something like this maybe?

*evil grin*

Titulus in omnibus debuit convertere in chartis.

*really big evil grin* as they all rush to google translate...

Don't spoil it now! ;)

R D Ramsey wrote:

In the monster round, comment "Oh, that's not how that works at all." in each thread, with no explanation.

That would make for a fun week for the Top 16. :-)

The fact that y'all seem to think we have any sanity left to lose is really cute. :)

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Thanks all for some very valuable feedback, both specific praise and specific questions/suggestions/criticisms/"why didn't you do this...?" is incredibly helpful, and I'm flattered to hear some of you want to use this for some of your games.

I will address specific concerns later (on a quick lunch break--and well, may not get to it if I get into the top 16 for awhile). I am also tempted, once I have time, to redraw the map in CC3 for a final version (this is handdrawn with digital colors in case that's not clear), as long as that's okay with Paizo (since they own the rights to the design [CC3 licenses finished maps to the creator so that's not an issue in and of itself]).

I will answer one question now -- no, I'm not colorblind. :) I think I got lucky--I suspect the neutral gray background helps the objects pop even if the color tones can't be perceived accurately (but I chose the color because it was supposed to be a rocky environment, so that result is for better or worse coincidental). I did make sure the problematic colors (red and green) were assigned to distinctly different shapes (houses and trees). I'm glad it worked out, and I'm glad to know about the online tool to check for the future.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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Well, today at 5 I find out one thing: whether I have to report to jury duty tomorrow.

Then somewhere between 6 and 8--i.e., when the Paizo boards stop breaking--and/or I do or do not get a notification email, I find out if I've got to finish up a monster.

0_o

Good luck everyone.

Favorite Pathfinder monster...

I'm a general fan of outsiders... really like the newer ones Paizo came up with like Aeons and Asuras and Empyreals.


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Gnome Rogue 3 | AC 19 T 14 FF 16 | HP 14/21 (normal Max HP 23) | F+2 (current +1) R+6 W+2 (+2 vs glyphs) | Perc +9 (+10 find traps) Init +4 | arcane mark 1/1, comprehend languages 1/1, message 1/1, read magic 0/1, Det Mag: 3/3
Spoiler:
Acr +9, App+7, Blf+7, DD+13/16glyphsetc., Esc+8, KArc+3, KEng+3, KLoc+5, Lin+5, Per+9/+10tr, PCook+9, PScr+5,SMo+7, SOH+9, Stl+13, UMD+12

Ceru, as if trying to remember what she was doing out of a reverie, realizes death and destruction is still everywhere and tries to shoot at another cacoblightning.

Attack: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (13) + 6 = 19
Damage: 1d4 ⇒ 4

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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More on comic book inspired shows: Oh, yes, Agents of SHIELD too; this seasons is MUCH better than last.

Although what I really fantasize is about a "Bad Ass Chicks of SHIELD" show or movie starring Black Widow, Mockingbird, and Agent May as the field team with Maria Hill as their handler and Jemma Simmons as the science support. That would be the perfect show for me, personally.

Taylor Hubler wrote:
It is all about the full contact heavy metal jousting and international longsword competitions.

My state's official sport is jousting but we don't have nearly enough tourneys.

The randomizer looks fun... may try that later after breakfast and reading through Bestiaries...

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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And I just posted the above, which now shows up after another admonition to be completely silent.

I'm going to talk about this issue once, and accept that I am taking a risk in doing so:

When I got my "you're in the Top 32!" email, one of the things it strongly suggested was to go out and post on the boards, introduce oneself, get to know each other and the community, and build visibility.

Then on these boards we're advised to post on, we're being constantly scolded to keep completely silent.

Receiving such conflicting advice is very frustrating. (And I recognize the parallel in that sometimes that happens in the publishing world too.)

Yes, the more we say anything, we can run a risk of disqualification (or even just turning off voters). We have to be expected to be mature enough to understand and accept that--that's part of trying for a professional position.

The less we say anything, the more we run a risk of alienating each other and the community. We also lose a tremendous possibly one-time-opportunity to get to know some really cool, creative people.

The rule not to talk about one's entry before or during voting is crucially important. Not debating that at all.

It is also important not to be distracted by the boards so we end up not putting due time into our entries. Not debating that either.

But this is also a pretty unique situation where we get a chance to chat and network with some really cool people, and it's kind of sad we're now being told not to. I understand and appreciate that everyone's advice is only out of concern, but the conflicting nature of the advice is overwhelming (nice thing about actual publication work is you're usually working with one lead editor and what they say ultimately goes, even in a team-based environment; here we are effectively beholden to Paizo, the judges, and the voters).

If we really should not say a single word, anywhere, ever, once the Top 32 are announced, then I hope in the future that the encouragement to do so is removed from the notification email.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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Ouch, sorry to hear about the disqualification.

Allana, congratulations and good luck!

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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I would add to all that's been said--all good stuff--that a challenge to making puzzles is incorporating in the cooperative/team play that much of playing an RPG should, IMO, encourage. While everyone has their own niche/way to shine, a good adventure offers challenges where everyone must learn to rely upon each other's strengths, shore up each other's weaknesses, and do things that require folks working together to survive.

A lot of puzzles are designed such that they only really occupy one character--or worse, as Brian said, one or two players solving the puzzle effectively out of character. A brief puzzle like that could be okay if it means, say, the wizard is getting his high-Int moment to shine (but the wizard also rarely has trouble shining elsewhere), but it's hard to make that compelling or memorable over the course of the adventure.

Things where the PCs really have to work together ("okay, you stand on that square, I'll stand on this one, and Bob'll pull the rope") can engage everyone and make everyone feel useful, and is a good way of emphasizing party teamwork outside of combat.

Even then it has to avoid a lot of design pitfalls though.

Certainly a compelling puzzle within an encounter/adventure proposal could really help a Superstar-contestant shine... but it's also risky in alienating voters who just generally dislike puzzles.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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Taylor Hubler wrote:
Jensen Toperzer wrote:
I'm half hoping I make it in, but half not because it probably meams some poor soul missed the deadline :(
Well I am half worrying about being DQ for something overlooked on my end.

I am not you, and have nothing to do with your overlooking anything!

No, I will never stop with that joke. :)

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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I have submitted mine and now live in perpetual fear, especially since it's Mercury Retrograde, the email will be eaten and it won't be seen and I'll be disqualified even though I sent it in early. (All you people talking about panic and anxiety, I have no idea what you're talking about.) (ETA: the nifty submission tool thingy on the main Superstar page says my submission was entered, so phew.)

And for anyone panicked I got it in early--I have to go away tomorrow morning, so I had to submit it now! As it is I have not yet packed...

But I'm sitting here instead eating celebratory homemade pan-popped popcorn with roasted garlic butter. /wins RPGSnackerStar

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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Town of Griffon Falls

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DeathQuaker

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Thanks for all of your feedback! I've finally got a bit of a breather to respond. :)

I worked a lot on theme before specific mechanics and I'm glad that came through--even if more work could have been done to further reflect the desired theme without raising potential problems. Something to continue to work on.

Likewise, cost is a challenge--and I realized I halved the base item cost with everything else for the cost about a day after I submitted the item. We were spoiled by wondrous items! As for its price: I calculated what an item using diminish plants would cost and then roughly halved that, then added the cost of a +1 keen weapon. It could definitely be tweaked more.

Thanks for this opportunity, and your votes--and even your downvotes, because yes, there's always room for improvement. :)


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Gnome Rogue 3 | AC 19 T 14 FF 16 | HP 14/21 (normal Max HP 23) | F+2 (current +1) R+6 W+2 (+2 vs glyphs) | Perc +9 (+10 find traps) Init +4 | arcane mark 1/1, comprehend languages 1/1, message 1/1, read magic 0/1, Det Mag: 3/3
Spoiler:
Acr +9, App+7, Blf+7, DD+13/16glyphsetc., Esc+8, KArc+3, KEng+3, KLoc+5, Lin+5, Per+9/+10tr, PCook+9, PScr+5,SMo+7, SOH+9, Stl+13, UMD+12

Busy with Superstar! Will try to check in when I can! Wish me luck!

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