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Old Marm

DeathQuaker's page

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8. RPG Superstar 6 Season Star Voter, 7 Season Star Voter, 8 Season Star Voter. Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber. 6,503 posts (10,453 including aliases). 5 reviews. 5 lists. 1 wishlist. 17 aliases.

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RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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Sharoth wrote:
So what use ARE settlements? They are a huge sink of money and materials. What does the player get out of them other than the satisfaction of building them up?

Beyond being a place where you have guaranteed friendlies where you can keep your stuff (including your companions for easy finding):

- You can farm food, water, and random supplies for free. I don't just mean by manually harvesting plants: any surplus your settlement produces gets stored in your workshop's inventory. So for example, I have a lot of food planted at Sanctuary, a water purifier, and a scavenging station. When I go to Sanctuary after awhile and check the workshop's inventory, I find extra food, purified water, and other things like ammunition and other supplies stored there that I didn't put there. While it's not a massive boon, it's nice and sometimes it's helped me restock on materials for recipes particularly.

- If you have the level 2 Local Leadership perk (and sometimes other pre-requisite perks) you can build shops. Over time they carry pretty decent inventory. The more settlements you have, the less far you have to schlep to sell off your gear and restock on ammo and crucial items.

- Place to build crafting benches. Moreover, if you establish supply lines, settlements share workshop inventory, so not only can you raid all of your settlements for extra food and water per above, but it also means you have access to all your spare mods and supplies for modding your equipment from any settlement--reduced schlepping and weighing yourself down.

- Traveling merchants visit your settlements, like Stockton and Trashcan Carla. While you can also just randomly run into these folks on the road, it's nice, again, to have a guaranteed safe spot where you can deal with them. They can carry some very nice stuff, including some unique gear.

- Oddly, the occasional raider or super mutant attack is "useful" in that basically creatures that tend to carry relatively decent loot spawn in an easily defensible space.

- I haven't tested this yet, but I kind of assume that the stronger and better your settlements are, the more support you can get from the Minutemen if you need it. I could be wrong though.

Now, a lot of this of course is dependent upon your interests in building up settlement-related perks. If you're not into tht kind of stuff, probably best to keep Red Rocket as a homebase for modding your weapons and armor and storing your power armor, and ignore the rest of it. A lot of it is indeed building stuff for the sake of it, so it isn't for everyone.

ETA: Also, what Caineach said.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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Alex Martin wrote:

While I wouldn't mind Obsidian doing more on Fallout, I'd prefer they not muck up the mythology being told on the East Coast by Bethesda. Having played all the Fallout games (and DLC's), I kind of like the degree of difference you see - it gives the feeling of a distinct world despite the common apocalypse and technology.

Obsidian has crafted the Fallout history of the western states; Bethesda has created it's own environment on the east coast. Each is distinct and I'm not sure Obsidian can play in that sandbox without making their adjustments to the game. I'd rather see something that explores something like The Pitt, than another ramble into the politics of the wasteland aka New Vegas of the East.

That's a rather fascinating opinion to read, given that usually Bethesda is accused of ruining the mythology established by Black Isle/Obsidian in Fallout, Fallout 2, and New Vegas, rather than the other way around. For example, a lot of people didn't like the BOS civil war, or the recreation of the super mutants (the super mutants were supposed to be relatively unique creations of the Master out in the West, and some don't like how the East Coast mutants were shoehorn-created by the Vault 87 FEV). (I don't care about either, personally, just noting that point of view is out there.) A lot of folks felt in Fallout 3 in particular Bethesda just raided the West Coast mythology and threw entities that largely "should" have had prominent West Coast presences only (the Enclave (which makes sense it has an East Coast faction, but they were introduced in Fallout 2), the Brotherhood, the Super mutants, even the ghouls in spite of those simply being common radiation mutants) rather than work harder on developing their own factions. And while I'm again, fine with the Capital Wasteland story, I AM glad Bethesda seemed to take that to heart and developed more prominent local factions in Fallout 4, e.g., the Minutemen, the Railroad, and the Institute.

I don't agree or disagree with you, that's just the first time I've seen someone frame that kind of thought in that way, and find it interesting enough to point out.

That said, yes, as Werthead said, I believe just as Obsidian is in California and Bethesda is in the DC metro area, they plan largely to develop areas on "their" respective coasts. I further don't see any reason WHY Obsidian would feel the need or desire to work with the local factions, etc. that Bethesda has developed.

Now, I don't know who gets dibs on, say, the midwest. :)

I still would like a real collaboration--but the point of collaboration of course is that since they'd be working TOGETHER, there would be no unintentional toe-stepping.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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Well, to be fair, I wouldn't say "got them wrong." They were well aware they were changing things and did so quite intentionally. Lyons' chapter was essentially a rogue chapter that caused a civil war, which was made clear in Fallout 3... at least if you paid attention. There's several places that note he is doing something different from what the Brotherhood usually did. There were also the "rebel" BoS in Fallout 3 who would shake you down for tech--they represented the faction as they traditionally were.

The problem was that since Fallout 3 was the introduction for many to the world of Fallout, the more "helpful" BoS was imprinted upon them as the way the BoS "should" be, even though, again, the narrative notes Lyons caused a civil war and was in fact doing things differently.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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Caineach wrote:
At this point I'm level 23 or so. I find a lot of my XP comes from settlement building. Maintaining 10 settlements is hard, but caravans are amazing. I cannot for the life of me find enough oil and fiber optics though.

In the workshop, there's a way to tag resources you're seeking out. Then when you come across items that contain that resource, it'll show a little "magnifying glass" icon by the resource to help make it pop out to you that's something you're looking for.

I've been very lazily selling or scrapping spare weapons rather than swapping out and saving the mods. Gah! So many materials I probably could have saved... ah well. This game really needs a manual and a detailed crafting tutorial.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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Oh, one more thing if you're really getting into crafting and decorating: if you want to put objects on a shelf or something (like putting your collection of children's blocks on a shelf so you can spell "fart" or whatever) --- drop them on the ground, enter workshop mode, then select the item so you can move it. It will keep the item upright (rotated in the direction you want) and set the object on the shelf neatly. This is a lot easier than trying to use the "pick up" function and trying to wriggle it in the proper position as you had to do in prior Bethesda games, and then throwing it at the ground in frustration.

I don't remember the joke, Sharoth! Probably better that way. :)

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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Sharoth wrote:
CapeCodRPGer wrote:
When I was at a armor or weapon work bench when you put stuff in there is an option to scrap for parts.
Cool. I will have to check it out tonight.
Claxon wrote:
If you have the junk in your inventory or in the inventory of the work areas (which is shared between all work areas in a city) then you will automatically break them down when they are needed. I think there might be a manual way to scrap them, but it is unnecessary. Also, be aware that an item that breaks down into multiple things will give you all the parts when broken down automatically, so don't worry. The unused parts for the item your crafting go back into the inventory of the work areas.

Yes, the workshop "auto-scraps" your junk if you store it in the workshop -- plus, when you build stuff from junk, it will show you on the screen what item it is breaking down (e.g., if you are building something that needs adhesive, it will show you that it is using the Wonderglue you stored in the workshop bench).

The manual way to scrap things is if you are IN a settlement area and enter workshop mode, any scrappable item will highlight and give you the option to scrap. THIS IS IN FACT NECESSARY -- well, not necessary I guess if you don't care about the crafting system, BUT is the only way you can scrap items you can't pick up or make use of, like tires, cars, broken furniture, ruined houses, and dead trees. This is the main way you get enough wood and steel for new structures (a dead tree is like 20 wood, a ruined house has a bunch of wood and steel). You will need to do this if you really want to clear space and have a lot of materials for building structures and furniture especially.

All objects that can be scrapped will either highlight as a bright yellow color, or whatever your HUD color is (so I set my HUD to blue so everything highlights in blue, so when I say "blue" here, think of whatever your HUD color is; I think the default is green). If it's BLUE, it is a usable object -- for example if it's a chair, you can keep and use it as a chair. You can scrap these, but you can also select them and place them elsewhere; for example, if a chair that is toppled over on the floor highlights blue, you can select it, and it will upright itself and you can replace it in a more aesthetically pleasing manner. The IMPORTANT THING to note about this is it costs more materials to MAKE an item than you will get breaking it down, so if you want a chair, don't scrap an existing one and then rebuild it, because you'll waste materials. (But if you don't want the chair and would rather scrap it, then do so!).

A yellow object is an item that is broken and/or cannot be moved or made use of. Things like broken furniture, dead trees, and tires highlight in yellow; those can be safely scrapped. However, SOME CONTAINERS highlight as yellow, like suitcases and some safes: they are not "broken," they just can't be moved.

BE SURE BEFORE MOVING OR SCRAPPING ANY CONTAINER (no matter whether it highlights yellow or blue) that you have removed the contents, or else they disappear. I think I've lost some loot because I accidentally scrapped a suitcase or file cabinet before realizing I hadn't looted it first. Workshop mode does NOT tell you if objects are in a container, so leave workshop mode to loot, then go back into workshop mode to scrap.

And on that note, the one thing this game SERIOUSLY lacks in is proper settlement building tutorial. A lot of stuff you have to figure out through experimentation, and the UI is not intuitive. I just tried my hand at building a house and it was weirdly frustrating -- the metal walls include a "corner piece" that doesn't bend in the right direction, and while there is a grid snap system, the snaps can be very fiddly. Trying to figure out how to wire powered items to a generator is also not clear, especially when trying to figure out how to get lights to turn on (hint, you need a wall switch: build the generator, then build a switch, then build the light attached to a nearby wall or ceiling, then go back to the generator, press SPACE (on PC) to bring up a wire, and then drag the wire to the switch and click to attach it. The bulb SHOULD turn on (although sometimes it takes a few seconds for it register).

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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Paizo Booth Babe, please do not quote me out of context. It's rude.

I said "Titties or Assface." Please give asses their proper due.

(Seriously though, the joke is cute, I see what you were going for, but it's very poor etiquette to change the wording of someone's actual quote. If you had actually just copy pasted it, the joke still would have been clear, or you could have just replied without quotation at all.)


I think the power armor access and early SPOILER fight is rather clever design. The devs are well aware there are people who are going to figure out where the high end equipment is and just try to sprint for it and hope they get lucky and get it. This way it's right in front of you--but not in great condition. You have a source of assistance if you want to take on some harder areas (so you don't feel monster walled -- one of the big complaints about New Vegas, even if you had half a brain you could get around it pretty easily), but it's limited. (And if course if you want to try to take on the dangerous stuff without power armor you can try.)

Likewise you get to see how tough some high tier enemies are early on, so you can judge if you've walked into an area you can't handle yet (or if it's a place you want to spend a rare fusion core on).

My one big complaint is one I've seen in reviews as well -- it's annoying you can seem to be able to add piecemeal armor pieces to some under-suits, but not all, and it is not evident which is which. Nor, I think, should there be a distinction. If I want to wear a spiky raider leg over a tuxedo I should be able to do so. Not sure I see why they did it like that.

Otherwise I'm having a great time. I might say this is the best work Bethesda's done, that I've personally seen anyway. Looks great even on my low-end PC, I like the settlement building, and I like the neighborhoods and characters.

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S&S Tactical Map

:) I told John and Deb I was visiting them this weekend EVEN THOUGH Fallout was out. LOOK AT MY DEDICATION.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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It's frustrating yet amusing that turns out I picked a name that won't be vocalized -- Rosie, as in "the Riveter," a classic WWII reference -- but if I had picked "Titties" or "Assface" I would have been fine.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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I was gonna wait at least a couple weeks so a few patches would be out.

But I'm going away this weekend and I... I just can't. I need to have it in my hot little hands. It's Fallout.

So it's paid for, full price, and pre-loaded on my PC, waiting to go. I know this doesn't seem like a big deal but I'm a cheap gamer. I in fact hate pre-ordering and hate a lot of corruptions in the game industry it encourages (like pre-order bonuses that only pre-orderers get, or hyping a really awful game and getting enough people to buy it before people know how awful it is). Unless I backed it on Kickstarter (wherein the game is probably unusual and the developer one I trust), I never pre-order. In fact, I am the kind of person who waits till the GOTY edition or at least until it's on sale on Steam.

But it's Fallout. IT'S FALLOUT DAMMIT.

I am not planning to call in sick at work Tuesday, but I AM tempted to skip chorus rehearsal tomorrow night... I've been a good girl all season and I've got my music learned.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

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Wanted to comment on these before the contest ended, but time was not on my side. Congrats, Nick, for your well-deserved victory!

I loved this proposal, from the title to a lot of the nitty gritty details. Your summary at the start has enough detail to make it feel specific to the region and provide some compelling backstory without getting bogged down in too much background. It makes a lot of sense to use a thunderbird for the Sodden Lands and it's a creature we don't get to see enough of otherwise. Your proposal is clear, well-organized, and easy to follow, and I like that you took the time to outline some PC hooks.

The start of the adventure makes me feel a little nervous. You propose a new mechanic that is going to have to work just right and be easy to pick up to help the game move along (still, your design chops suggest you should be able to pull this off). Starting the adventure in a bit of a sandbox can also be tricky -- it puts a lot of expectation on the PCs to be outgoing and risk-taking to find the things they will need to find; being a GM with players who are often very timid when given the option to simply explore or fashion adventure on their own, so I am prone to worrying about giving the PCs enough hooks---and my players would be the kind who didn't do the "thorough enough" investigation to find the items required to deal with encounter 3 in chapter 3. You do of course provide some scripted adventures so hopefully such things would not be as much of a problem as the anxious part of me worries.

Still there's a lot of really creative encounters, a good narrative flow and build up, and all kinds of different opportunities for adventure here. I look forward to the release of this module!

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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Steve Geddes wrote:
DeathQuaker wrote:
Entertainment value and ease-of-use should not be mutually exclusive.

Yeah, I agree. Some of the methods people have tried to make modules easier to run ruin the readability-for-fun and some of the modules which are enjoyable to read are a nightmare to find important stuff during the game.

I didn't mean to suggest that publishers need to make a choice between one group or the other. It seems to me that if a method could be found to improve the experience for both there can only be winners. :)

I don't think that's what you were arguing but I realized we (the participants in this thread in general, myself included) were starting to take on the tone of "Crunchy!" "Creamy!" "Crunchy!" "Creamy!" and not really getting anywhere. :)

So, I've been arguing before that we need to prioritize ease-of-use for GMs--since ostensibly the whole POINT of adventures is to make GMs' lives easier--but we're uselessly splitting ourselves up into "camps" and not getting what I think ALL OF US want: delicious peanut butter. I mean, a well-written, well-organized adventure.

I've said before that I don't prioritize "entertainment value" personally--but I've realized dismissing that elides the point that frankly, a well-written, well-organized adventure SHOULD be, in fact, entertaining too. And that nothing is wrong with wanting an adventure to BE entertaining.

So let's not use entertainment value--or any other factor--as a conversational deflection from discussing what we all want here: better adventures.

I think we all can agree that Paizo and other publishers do put out great adventures, but there are sticking points folks have with many, and maybe lots of people buy them as is, but if there's a way to make them better so more people buy things, that can only be a good thing.

When it comes down to it, when I've struggled with bad adventure organization, the things that made me struggle as a GM to use ALSO made it hard to simply read through the adventure just to get a sense of or enjoy the plot. I'll bring up Skull and Shackles again just because I'm running it right now (in a PBP here): the first book's organization (or seeming lack thereof) is not only a nightmare for me as a GM to work with, it's impossible to read through and get a consistent sense of story, character, or action. For example, the whole beginning of the story gets bisected partway through by a lengthy, several-page-long description of the ship before going back to the narrative---that does NOT lend itself to "entertainment"; rather, an average reader is likely left distracted and confused. I do NOT have fun reading this AP book. It is NOT fun at all. And I have probably done as much or more prep for this campaign as I have for the campaigns I've run from scratch/on the fly, in part because the book is so poorly organized. I am having fun running the game, but much of that is thanks to my players and the ability to finally bring the NPCs to life--with little and confusing help from the book. I have sat down and made lots of cheat sheets and other things to help me run the game, but that's time I shouldn't have had to spend, given the ostensible point of pre-written adventures is to save a GM time -- nor should I need a cheat sheet if I am reading through just to enjoy it, but for S&S you might need one just to remember who all the NPCs are.

The reason the "The Wormwood Mutiny" is unfun is because the developers tried to cram effectively a sandbox into a dungeon-design format, and it doesn't work. This goes back to an earlier point I've made: if the format makes it harder for a GM to use--or a reader to read--THEN IT HAS FAILED. Period.

So--everybody: when a module IS fun and easy to follow when reading, what does it do?

When it is not, what happened?

We've said some things about making sure encounter descriptions clearly delineate mechanical actions a GM may need to be aware of. What else is helpful? What has worked in existing adventures? What hasn't? People talk about Delve not working--but for those of us who haven't used it, what specifically about it failed?

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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Entertainment value and ease-of-use should not be mutually exclusive.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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If I want to read a story, I buy a novel.

If I want to run a story, I buy a module, but I want the designer to trust me to bring that story to life and stick to the details I need to know.

I like to read modules for ideas and inspiration, certainly, and yes, like everyone I suspect I own more than I've run. Concisely listed stats and mechanics makes it easier for me to get the information I need to adapt for my uses. Brief narrative text is fine and good writing is always appreciated regardless of format. However, if the text is badly organized, where key points of what is there and what it might do and how to manage it are buried for the sake of trying to fit a square peg (a game accessory) into a round hole (prose fiction), this makes it LESS readable to me for my purposes, harder for me to make use of it, and thus less likely to purchase it. Currently, I purchase very few modules or adventures.

Obviously, YMMV.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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On a more possibly useful note, I like Schadenfreude's and Dudemeister's suggestions. Some stuff like lighting could be indicated by icons, as someone suggested upthread, to save space.

I like stuff in Rusted Iron Games' example, but it repeats some stuff and indeed does take space. One thing is is I would forget the encounter scaling notes, preserving that only for key fights. I think most games have a sidebar for suggestions for scaling encounters, and it's best to let GMs decide what they want to do for scaling on their own--as sometimes they need to adjust for party build and/or player styles as well.

My biggest worry at this point is we won't see needed changes to help GMs--especially new GMs--where game developers might prioritize nostalgia and an intentionally restricted perception of what is "fun" over readability, comprehensibility, and ease-of-use, and friendliness to new GMs (who may not know, be used to, have "fun" with, or care about "what it used to be like"). The game can't exist without GMs, so everything to cultivate them and make their lives easier should be top priority --- not making something look like it did in 1980 because reasons.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:

"Why is the adventure format stuck in the past?"


"You may ask, but how did this tradition get started. Well, I'll tell you...

"... I don't know.

"But it's a tradition!"

The RPG industry in a nutshell.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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To clarify something earlier, I don't mind if the text itself is descriptive (provides color and detail) and of course it needs to prioritize the GM needs to know and needs to share with the players... I just don't personally need it in the format of "you see X as you enter the room." I think the issue is I'd rather the text "speak" to me as the GM and not alternate between "speaking to the PCs" (I want complete control of that) and providing GM only detail. I think the constant perspective/POV shift is where I get lost (and MY brain farts).

I also grok that other people need that "you" POV to keep them on track.

If only all our brains farted in the same way!

Wait a minute...


Dale McCoy Jr wrote:

Don't get me wrong, your feedback is good. We've been toying with ways of having skill checks stick out and making them a different color is something we will definitely try inhouse before showing it off publicly. Thank you.

Cool. While I like in theory listing all the checks separately (that someone else suggested upthread) I think that does add wordiness and space-taking issues. As bold text is used for other purposes, another color (or perhaps font--e.g., gothic if the running text is roman--if you're publishing in B&W only) is the easiest option I could think of.

Glad you and other 3PPs are thinking of this, and maybe that's the best/most obvious place such experimentation can take place.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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Dale McCoy Jr wrote:
We (we being JBE) talked about it and came up with a modified adventure design format. Check it out at and please tell us what you think.

I like the order of information given(e.g., creatures, traps, room desc.), especially creatures being listed first (we can skip it easily if the creatures left). But personally I do not like that the sample puts things in "read aloud text" with a lot of wordy (space consuming) fluff I don't need. As GM, I don't want to be told what to say, I want to be told what is there, and for the developer to trust me to determine what to describe or not myself---especially if I've tweaked the adventure or my players have taking things off the rail--I just want to know what is there. If I want to read purple prose, I'll buy a novel, that's what they're for.

It also does not follow the for-good-reason standard that you don't describe monster actions, as you can't always presume what they do, again based on player actions (if the players saw spiderwebs at the edge of the cavern and just threw a fireball in there pre-emptively, the spiders don't "turn to look at you" because they are already dead. (But you DO need to know spiders are in there to see if the fireball killed them.)

Using your sample, I'd want something like this:


Three spiders sit in the NE corner of the room. A fourth (Perception DC 12 to notice) hides on the ceiling. They will attack the first living creature they spot.

((Personally if it were MY adventure, I'd put the statblocks in the back of the book with a page number here for where to find the stats. That way if the same monster is used later, I don't have to flip back to this encounter but one easily bookmarked spot.))

This is a 10x10 room covered in cobwebs. There is a crumbling stone altar near the western wall with a skeleton grasping an axe lying upon it (the skeleton is trapped). A small pile of coins sits in the SE corner (Perception DC 10 to see they are gold coins).

The skeleton arm is rigged to swing an axe when a creature stands adjacent to it.

((Trap statblock--or at the end of the entry or back of book is fine))

21 gp.

I'd like all the skill checks in another color rather than bolded. This of course only is what I'd like and can't speak for everyone. This isn't necessarily the best either (not to say it isn't good or better) and for sandbox adventures a different, looser format might be better. Adventures are often more sophisticated than they used to be and a one-size-fits all approach may (note I said may) not be ideal.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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James Jacobs wrote:
The best bet might be to tinker on things that aren't for public release—sort of an R&D type environment. But that's not something we at Paizo currently have the time or resources to pull off at this point.

And that's fair enough. I just hope Paizo is taking notes when the formatting is getting IN THE WAY of helping a GM run an adventure, because that means the formatting doing the opposite of what it's intended to do.

As I noted above, I deeply understand and value importance of standardized formatting, and know it's better to have it than not.

At the same time I have seen circumstances where the standard formatting was "forced" on a (normally unusual in nature) module/adventure and it made running the adventure overcomplicated and frustrating, which is not what you want your adventure/module designs to be. These things are supposed to save GMs time, and if they fail at that fundamental purpose, something is wrong.


So for now, my preference is to stick with what we have. It's familiar and while it might not be organized best for every single play style... it's fun to read AND even if it doesn't match your particular play style, the familiarity of it makes it easier to reorganize as you need.

While this isn't the main point of the thread, I wouldn't assume all of your audience finds adventures/modules fun to read. . Personally, I have always found them difficult to follow, and can't think of a time I have ever had "fun" reading through one in the 25+ years I've been gaming -- over time I've figured out how they work and valued them for all that they provide, so I can and do make use of them. I have had fun of course running the module once I made sense of it, but simply reading them, worthwhile experience though it may be, has never merely entertaining. (Thinking HOW to organize one's thoughts to fit the formatting when constructing, say, even a single encounter is also a huge challenge for me -- and is probably a major factor as to why my title above ends at "top 8." :) ) I know a lot of folks who certainly DO find reading adventures actually fun, but stating that "reading these is fun" as universal fact is inaccurate and even possibly detrimental.

If you're presuming all your readers find it "fun" and/or are veteran gamers used to this format--and thus solely designing for that section of your audience--you may be alienating newer players unused to both the formatting and what a module is trying to accomplish (deeply structured adventures are common in fantasy RPGs but not always used or even encouraged in other RPG systems). Of course you can't please everyone, and I am NOT advocating for a "let's make this fun for DeathQuaker personally" mentality (I am well aware what is "fun" for me is very definitely not for everyone). But remembering your--very, very wide with mixed experiences--audience is important.

Again I understand trying to change things would be hard and that Paizo doesn't have the resources for that right now, but I hope the company remains open to opportunities for trying alternatives as they may occur. Thanks.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

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I think there's a semantic problem here as regards to the meaning of "workshopping." I think different people have a different sense of what it means.

I think most agree having some folks look over your submission before you submit it is a good idea. Gathering feedback and technical corrections is good ("this needs some oomph"; "you spelled this wrong"; "I don't think this monster you reference exists."). My sense from Frank's post and elsewhere is that's what he and others are trying to talk about.

"Workshopping" CAN indeed however mean deeper input---writing or design by committee, which is where I think Neil is concerned. If someone starts feeding specific suggestions like, "This should be able to fart rainbows and shoot lightning out of its eyes," and you add that to your entry, and then even perhaps advance because people liked "your" rainbow-farting ability so much, you essentially advanced due to someone else's creativity than your own. When stuff like that happens, we aren't seeing what YOU, as a designer, by yourself, are capable of, and that can cause problems down the line, both in terms of legality as well as relying on an individual to provide quality work (amid a myriad of other issues, if you lost touch with rainbow-fart guy and no longer have him to get ideas from, and can't do the same on your own, you can't deliver what others have come to expect from you).

From my POV, the take-home is that giving specific feedback is good, but you need to give feedback on WHAT IS THERE, not what you would make of it (because it's not your entry).

Development of course can be and usually is collaborative, but this is still a contest that assesses an individual's skill---just as in this industry, assessing individual skill is still crucial to determine what any given person may contribute TO a team.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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IIRC, it's actually officially standard practice to NOT include creatures (or actions of said creatures) in read-aloud text, believe it or not. Which adds to those ridiculous GM moments of, "Here is an immaculately maintained parlor with floral print curtains blocking out the light from the window, a lamp with an exquisite stained glass lampshade sitting on a mahogany end table, and a red velvet sofa. ... Oh, and the Tarrasque. The Tarrasque is there too. I guess it's sitting on the sofa."

I guess the reason is if something happens in the adventure that would make the creatures disappear, they don't want the GM to have to alter the text on the fly. Say, for example, the room is a barracks; in some circumstances, it could have guards in it. But if the PCs trigger an alarm elsewhere in the area, those guards would leave the barracks to investigate the alarm. Presuming the PCs dispatch the guards, they would then enter an empty room, so read aloud text including the guards in the description would then be inaccurate.

I actually don't like read aloud text. I often find stuff in the read aloud text not to be important (or worded in a way I wouldn't word things) while stuff I DO want to share with the PCs is elsewhere in the description. I'd rather just have a BRIEF description of the room followed by observable threats followed by threats the GM knows about but the PCs don't, a list of checks they need to make upon entry (and I mean need to, like saving throws due to a hazard or Perception checks, not Spellcraft checks to ID an aura), and let me determine what to share in what order.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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I totally agree with the OP in the spirit of what he's saying. I find APs and modules often very hard to read and make sense of... especially when an adventure is NOT a typical "dungeon crawl" where it's "you enter a room and this happens and then you enter a room and this happens."

At the same time, I get why how listing certain explicit GM notes explicitly ends up getting cumbersome on a design and publication level. I think it would take a lot of work and experimentation to find a way to improve things.... but I'm willing to endure, as a customer, the experimentation.

Part of the problem I think is adhering to the "adventure format" when it sometimes, simply doesn't work for the adventure (or for a particular encounter at least).

I am running the Skull and Shackles AP. I love the idea of the adventure and much of its story, but the organization of the first book is driving me NUTS. The way the book is written is downright NONSENSICAL and unintuitive for how to run this ship adventure, and it's because it's an atypical adventure that's getting shoehorned into the "established adventure format." Examples:

- The game's action starts on Page 8, but by page 9 the prose digresses at length going more into meta-information for the GM regarding how to get the PCs' equipment and the like (and yet further similar meta-information doesn't show up until page 23 or so).

- Then it goes back into the first day of in-game adventure for a most of page 10, including assigning the PCs to jobs that aren't detailed until PAGE 23. Page 11 starts meta-describing in detail, every single part of the ship the PCs are on as well as all of the NPCs, and doesn't get BACK to the adventure narrative until page 26.

- Most NPCs are described pages 16-22... except for the one described on page 27 AND the other three described pages 52-56. Two NPCs show up together frequently, but one of them is on page 21 and the other on page 54, which is a big f*~@-you to me if I want to quickly references both characters' stats when they show up in the same scene. One character has DIFFERENT sets of details provided on him on page 21 and then on page 52-3, so if I fail to quickly check both, I may screw up his interactions with the PCs.

- A substance given to the PCs is described on page 26 but the statistics for what the substance does is on page 67, in an easily-missed sidebar.

All of this stuff is designed this way because they were trying to shove a square sandbox into a round dungeon crawl hole. Because they said, "Oh, but we have to have the special NPCs fleshed out in the back of the book because that's how they do it" they threw the NPCs all over the place. If ALL the NPCs were in the back of the book, even if some are little microstatblocks and others are fully fleshed out, that would be fine--that's only one section rather than several that I have to bookmark. But because no, because we put microstatblocks HERE and fight statblocks THERE and detailed NPCs OVER THERE, I get to develop a migraine from excessive book flipping.

I understand the very very crucial importance of having a standardized way of formatting -- having done freelance editing for Paizo, no less, I am usually more than happy to point out deviations in that formatting -- because it creates consistency that is supposed to help people have an EASIER time of finding things.

However, if sticking to the format in a particular circumstance makes it HARDER to find things, then it is not serving its purpose. Then the readers get punished for the sake of a tradition that is not serving the audience the way it is supposed to.

Being certain that the way things are structured are serving the desired purpose is crucial. If not, then it's time to look at something different.

The hard part is that takes time... and trying things that may not work well along the way.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

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Having sucked at the encounter round last season, I will offer this as "learn from Rep's mistakes!" advice:

If you find an element isn't working or tripping you up, don't be afraid to scrap whole parts of the encounter or even just entirely go back to the drawing board. The time crunch in this contest is obnoxiously grueling and stressmaking unlike anything else I have ever experienced (including work I've done in journalism and publications) and I totally understand the desire not to start over when the deadline is flying toward you like a cannonball. BUT... I know last year the trap twist threw me---a trap just didn't work for the encounter I was mainly working with, and rather than pick one of my other encounter concepts from my pre-round brainstorming, I stubbornly tried to shoehorn something in to what I was working on. The shoehorning showed. In spades. The whole thing lacked tightness that should have been there.

Flexibility is probably one of the most important skills you can develop.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

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It's a lovely dungeon map; I love the layout and it's aesthetically very pleasing. I agree with the other posters that it doesn't quite have the sewer look I think you were going for, but it would be awesome as something like a thieves' lair in a river-trade town or something. You obviously have a good sense of space, so it's time to work on a sense of story. Your map can't merely look good, it has to tell a story, give GMs ideas. It also has to have some internal logic, and show some research--look up what some actual sewers look like, for example, before drawing a sewer lair. Think from the wererats' perspective as to what kind of space they would live in and what features it would have (CC3 has loads of "debris" images so you weren't lacking for decorative options by sticking to that program).

I can't comment on it as I would for round 2, because you don't have it labeled, legended, or your 50 word text to support it. The important thing to remember for round 2 is the point is to design a location for an encounter from a designer's point of view, not just merely to make the prettiest map. This isn't a cartography contest, it's a game design contest, and folks who confuse the two in Round 2 seldom advance. Every single entry in this contest boils down to "what story do you tell in this?" even if it's just an item, monster, or map. You can have artistic skill out the wazoo, but if you can't tell a story with your image, then you're not a Superstar.

From your various posts around here, your pride in your mapping work is clear. And I can see from your deviantart page, you indeed display talent. I urge you, only because I hope you can be successful in the area that you're passionate about, to consider why you'd enter Superstar... versus, say, a mapping competition held by Profantasy. Make sure you're pursuing the avenues that get you where you want to go. If your focus is on cartography, Superstar probably isn't the thing for you.

If you DO think Superstar is the thing for you, then my advice would be don't practice mapping -- obviously, you've got that bit down. You need to practice all the OTHER things that get someone through this contest, from item design through to monsters, encounters, and of course the pitch. I think especially encounter design would be a good thing for you to focus on. Once you've refined a sense of what makes a good encounter, you can map a location for it that will knock people's socks off.

The other VERY CRUCIAL THING if you enter Superstar is DO NOT POST YOUR ENTRY PUBLICLY ANYWHERE. "Public" includes anywhere on the Internet. As Garrick correctly noted, you posted your entry publicly to DeviantArt, and both because you posted it publicly elsewhere AND, making matters worse, prior to when Round 2 began, you would have been disqualified even if you had made it into Round 2. Also, talking about it in DeviantArt counts as "discussing your entry." Superstar contestants cannot talk, discuss, or post about their entries ANYWHERE, not just avoiding the Paizo boards.

Also, perhaps you are not aware, but anything you submit as an entry to Superstar becomes Paizo's intellectual property. If you had gotten into Superstar, entered this map into the contest, and THEN published it on DeviantArt, Paizo would have the right to ask (or even force) you to remove your map on DeviantArt as it would own the rights to it.

My final advice based on the above is to read the rules carefully as your actions suggest you did not do so. Failing to fully read the rules is only going to get you in danger of disqualification, no matter how awesome an entry you have.

Good luck with your mapping and I hope you find an appropriate venue to submit your work.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

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Good luck, top 8, and congrats!

Some unsolicited and probably entirely unnecessary advice, but just in case---do make sure you hit that "preview" button before submitting on this one. I noticed last season, the higher the word count, the greater divergence between Word's word count feature and the submission tool's.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

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Robert, congrats on getting into the top 16!

What I like: I was worried AT FIRST, because the name and a quick glance at the abilities made me think, "Oh, some broken anti-spell-caster schtick." But reading along, you DON'T fall into that trap, nor even repeat the abilities of loosely thematically similar creatures such as disenchanters. The abilities are actually really quite balanced and do not actually gimp any one character type, but simply force other tactics. I LOVE that ordinary weapons bypass its damage reduction, and would (perversely) love watching PCs puzzle over what on earth could penetrate its hide (or thinking that it is a special material because they use a nonmagical cold iron or adamantine weapon and find that it is effective). The Mana Wastes lore fits right in with the creature.

What I struggle with: Not much, at least at a glance -- I kind of wish it had a little more zip, somewhere, and I want the read-aloud text to hint a little more at its nature than just "weird cat thing" (of which there are many in RPG monsterdom). I'm not sure why treasure is incidental, perhaps it would collect magic items in hopes of absorbing their magic eventually (even if they cannot directly do something to them).

Is it one of the three monster types I've been totally sick of since, oh, about the Bestiary 3 (dragon, fey, or undead)? No! Hallelujah for your taking the opportunity when being asked to make ANY monster suitable for Golarion to think outside the box a bit.

Final Thoughts: While I don't have that ooooooh I need to use this right away thrill that I get from some other monsters, this is very solidly designed. Well done.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

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Congrats on getting into the top 16, Isaac!

What I like: It's an OOZE that is INTERESTING. Accomplishing that alone is a challenge. I also like "hazard monsters" -- things that aren't necessarily outright vicious or menacing, but their presence can nonetheless cause trouble for PCs depending on when and where they show up--especially as moral PCs may struggle with how to contend with a creature that is draining their resources by their nature but not actively causing harm. These creatures could also be used to the advantage of PCs, and I can see creative PCs capturing and using tranquility oozes to halt evil barbarian charges, etc. Your background suggests their use in monasteries but I can see other origins and uses for them as well. I'd love to see a paracletus have one for a pet, except that it is higher CR than the paracletus. ;)

The abilities work well together and are tightly thematic.

What I struggle with: There's some mechanical issues others have pointed out, and some awkward phrasing, such as the first clause of center of emotions. Unlike another monster I just looked over where the numbers were too high, your ability saving throw DCs are a little too low -- should be 18 rather than 16. While the target numbers for a monster of a given CR are suggestions and not hard rules, the creature's special abilities are the focus of the monster so they need to be on par with other creatures of its CR.

Minor niggle: treasure should probably be "incidental" since it engulfs creatures and, as with many oozes, might contain some random stuff from the creatures they engulf.

Is it one of the three monster types I've been totally sick of since, oh, about the Bestiary 3 (dragon, fey, or undead)? No! And an ooze, no less--not often seen, and this one is really unique.

Final Thoughts: I love this creature. You need to work a bit more on mechanical and writing polish, but you excel at establishing and working within a theme.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

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Hi Crystal, congrats on getting into the top 16!

What I like: This is a great gloom/horror creature with a lot of flavor, without pulling on shock or gore tactics, or hard-to-incorporate mechanics. You provide strong visuals and a clear, unique theme that makes these creatures as heartbreaking as they are potentially frightening. I can even see these creatures being non combatant but story-focused NPCs who challenge the PCs in other ways. At first I was wondering if this would make a better monstrous humanoid, but your flavor text ties the fey concept nicely. And your flavor-text in general is excellently written; I'm glad you didn't skimp on it. My favorite ability is the sorrowful gaze and wish that was fleshed out more.

What I struggle with: There's just a lot of LITTLE things that makes this not quite come together for me. The separate shadow ability is unclear and probably could have been removed entirely and, while a cool idea, other mechanics tightened up in its place. Some of the SLAs could just be made quickened. I wonder if sorrowful gaze and maybe some of the other effects should be specified as mind-affecting despair effects.

I cannot find an item called a shawl of life-stealing in the PRD, although it's possible the search engine is failing me. There is a shawl of life-keeping, and if that's what you meant, you should have double checked that item name. And as it is, I am not sure I would have used this -- one of your monster's signature "abilities" is really a wondrous item effect, one that can be gained by those who kill the sorrow stitcher, so that weakens its uniqueness.

You really could have used a good proofreader--there's a lot of little errors that could have been easily picked up by a second pair of eyes, e.g., misspelling of "descendant"; missing punctuation; feats are not alphabetized. Likewise, there are phrases you could have deleted to make that word count more comfortable -- for example, under the curse, you could say "they lose and cannot benefit from any morale bonuses," without specifying from what source (since it's all bonuses, that's implied and you don't need to waste word count on it). It's important at this phase to be sure you get at least one person to get feedback from before submission. While most of the errors are minor, combined they make the entry lack polish and show that as a designer, you do not pay much attention to detail.

Is it one of the three monster types I've been totally sick of since, oh, about the Bestiary 3 (dragon, fey, or undead)? Yes, it's yet another fey. It's a cool concept though, and not a fey idea I'd expect.

Final Thoughts: I think you have a phenomenal sense of STORY and atmosphere, and this shows in spades in your monster concept. The devil is in the details, and here is where you fall short. Still whether here or elsewhere, I hope we see more work from you.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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Skyrim Rampage Cap'n Yesterday wrote:

So i'm 17th level, a personal high in two years, and i'm barely limping thru Labrynthian looking for David Bowie... i mean the Staff of Raistlin... Magnus! the staff of Magnus.

any who, i'm getting killed left and right so i remember someone suggest i look up a video of someone else do it, because sometimes the walkthroughs aren't much help without a visual. and this dude is like 50th level and evidently has artifacts, and is almost bored to death "yep, so bored with ice trolls, ice troll here, blah blah" and i'm like " away from ice trolls..."

So, how do i make the baddest ass character for Skyrim and just devastate everything.

what race works best for martial, two handed weapon types and whats the baddest wizard type combos, rogue types too.

i've been going archer magic focus but not having the best of luck.

Bearing in mind I am nowhere near a power player for Elder Scrolls, I'm also a character with a lot of Archery and magic focus, although my character is more focused on being a thief at the moment. I'm playing largely Vanilla (just SkyUI and some other minor tweak mods)... here's some advice for your current character, if you decide to stick with him/her:

- First, do another questline for a little while. I haven't done it in this playthrough yet, but I recall some of the later quests in the Mage Guild quest are tough, and 17th level is fairly "low" for that.

- Level up more--if carefully--which means use skills. For your archer/mage: the spells you want to be good at, cast them over and over (even if you don't need to); activate the Mage Stone near Helgen to help those go higher. I find archery does not seem to level as quickly as some other skills (even with the appropriate Stone, the Thief stone, activated) but again, use it use it use it. Find places where there are low level creatures you can shoot lots of (like the animals that run around everywhere) and zap spells at. Some skills do seem to boost faster than others, like enchanting, smithing, and sneak, but be aware of course it's not helpful to boost those skills massively if you're not planning to use them. If you keep leveling due to improving your sneak, but you want to buy Archery perks, but you haven't leveled Archery enough to do that, it's not going to help. (That said, Sneak and Archery do combine well because sneak attacks with the bow deal x3 damage.) I find wandering around fighting bandits (who are EVERYWHERE) a great way to level.

If you do want to be good at Smithing, indulge in Hearthfire if you have that DLC. Crafting all those nails and stuff for your house building can raise that very effectively.

- Find better gear. Daedric Prince quests are usually fairly short and often net you some cool stuff. Go through As someone else said, the Thieves' Guild and Assassins' Guild quests also net you some good gear --- but depend upon your playing a thief/assassin sneaky type, of course. I am playing an archer-thief and the Thieves' Guild quests have helped me level a lot as well, but again, that's if you want to play that kind of character. Thieves Guild quest ends with you getting a good bow as well. If you have the DLC, the Dawnguard quest line also nets you a good bow.

- Archer-mage isn't a BAD combo, but the challenge is good protection. The character I'm playing is rather glass cannonny as it is because I'm not good at focused builds myself. You don't want heavy armor because you want speed. You can't cast and shoot at the same time (unlike, say, a sword-mage who can swing with one hand and cast with the other). So--learning from my own mistakes--you may either want to really focus on clothing+Alteration spells for protection, or buy up light armor perks to max out your protection.

General build advice, presuming Vanilla:

I chose dark elf because I felt like it, but turns out that's a great choice for the thief/mage/archer I'm playing, because they start with good sneak, illusion, destruction, and light armor.

Khajiit and Bosmer are also great archers as well as thieves, but are poorer mages.

I would go Breton or High Elf for mage build; the high elf's improved magicka regeneration is especially helpful here.

For sheer melee butt-whupping, I would do one-handed-weapon+shield (as shield maneuvers build Block effectively) with an orc (heavy armor) or Nord (light armor). Redguard's also good. Orc would be my first choice for their berserker rage ability on top of good skills. I would in that case do the Riverwood and Whiterun quests and join the Companions -- of course being able to become a werewolf can also amp up the melee skill as well. :) I'd go and take the civil war quests for that kind of character as well, as lots of opportunity to run around and attack things and build up weapon and armor skills.

Good luck!

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

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Taylor Hubler wrote:

I am somehow imaging Neil Spicer in a dark room doing that evil master mind thing with his hands.

"Impressive. Very impressive. But you are not a Superstar yet."

<obscure old anime warning>

And now I'm imagining the Superstars going down in Mikage's Confessional Elevator, waiting for the Black Rose to be plunged into their hearts.

</obscure old anime warning>

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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Oh why not? I am just answering the OP's inquiry and have not read other replies, and like the OP, am not here to engage with them.

And I'll give a quick answer to the OP first: if you are not sure, try it. Run an all-caster campaign and see what happens.

DISCLAIMER: I can only speak from my personal experience, with my particular gaming groups that I've played with or PBPed with. I will not speak from theory (where often ideal circumstances or high levels are presumed, when ideal circumstances and high levels seldom occur in gameplay); I will speak from practical experience with parties that most typically start at 1st level and go up to about 7-9th before the campaign ends, playing in adventures that are either Pathfinder modules and APs or built in similar ways. I have also run a high level party and can speak to that.

Things to bear in mind: I've played in a variety of groups, but most groups I've played with do not presume 15 minute adventure day and feature fairly well-rounded parties. Most people I play with are not uber-optimizers but tend to create effective-to-powerful builds.

I have also actually played in an all-arcane caster party and will also speak to that. Likewise I have also played in martial-heavy parties and that experience also informs me.

First, my general observation: The main difference between a caster and a non-caster (whether martial, skill monkey, or something else) lies in resource management. The challenge of playing a caster is that your resources are somewhat finite; while you always have at least endless 0-level spells as a last resort, but if you're playing in what I'd consider a typical Pathfinder adventure (akin to what might be presented in a module, AP, or by a creative GM), you're not going to be able to stop and rest every two minutes. Prepared casters struggle to make sure the "right" spells are prepared---a wizard can technically know every spell, but if he prepared unseen servant and charm person that day and it turns out he would have been better off with magic missile and shield, then it doesn't matter what's actually in his spellbook (and likewise, if he's in an urban-intrigue campaign where the PCs are infiltrating and gathering information, and he prepared magic missile, he'll be kicking himself he didn't prepare charm person instead). Spont casters likewise have to be very careful with choosing known spells. You have to constantly figure out when and where is best to cast a given spell, and hope you have something that speaks to a certain situation. An enchanter will dominate in a fight with humanoids, but without a versatile enough spell list, will have nothing to contribute in a fight against undead. Clerics who prepared spells to defeat evil fiends may regret it when they are attacked by an inevitable. And so on. A clever caster player knows how to manage resources carefully. One who doesn't may find they have little to practically contribute; yeah, it's awesome you can create that demiplane, but if you can't do anything to affect the golem that's crushing us to death right now, what are you good for?

This is not to say that a good game forces casters to death-march for days without resting, but a typical, well-run adventure day where people are not stopping to rest after every fight (because if they do that, the dragon is going to have time to eat the princess), a caster has to manage their limited resources carefully.

What martials do are much simpler---they don't have the potential field of options a caster has---but they don't run out of the core of what they do---although pool-based characters like gunslingers, swashbucklers, barbarians, and monks do have some limitations in that regard. With few exceptions, they don't have to worry about how they set themselves up that morning to be effective that day. Still, the strategy in working with a combat focused character is more in initial build than in, say, choosing daily abilities and hoping they picked right. Their positional builds are different.

Players are human beings, and human beings come in a wide variety of preferences, skills, and talents. Therefore some players work better with strategies focused on casters and others work better with strategies focused on martials, and a good party will accommodate both (and other) play styles.

In short, one answer to "why would I want a martial in my party," is "if one of your players can manage martial strategy more efficiently than caster strategy, they should play a martial."

This is not the only answer of course, and we shall continue.

Here are your questions:

A) What people THINK fighters are supposed to be doing

I'm going to use the general "martial" rather than "fighter" specifically since there is more than one kind of combat-focused character, but of course much of this applies to fighters.

Martials are supposed to-

- Have high base armor class. Especially at low levels, where casters often struggle to raise their AC save for temporary buff spells that aren't always available.

- Take lots of damage, both via higher hit die and usually an ability to raise Con. At low levels, for example, a fighter can easily survive a hit that would kill your typical wizard. In the arcane-caster-only game we played in, we struggled with having low HP overall, even though we were allowed to multiclass and some folks had good Con.

- Have good Fortitude and/or Reflex saving throws and generally other good innate physical defenses. This also not just from base saves but from physical stats that are more likely prioritized. A rogue at higher level can shrug off a fireball or better AOE spell like it's nothing; a wizard at the same level could be killed by the same attack (unless the wizard thought to be protected from fire, but that could be said for any character regardless of party role). Yes, some casters have good Fort or Ref too, and of course yes, all casters generally have good Will which is less common amongst non-casters---but that's the tradeoff, of course. A good party will have a variety of characters each with different strengths so they can shore up each other's weaknesses. The barbarian who can shrug off poison and the wizard who can shrug off charm can protect each other.

- Deal CONSISTENT and LARGE amounts of weapon damage. Yes, anyone can do damage. But a caster cannot deal lots of weapon damage, and there are a lot of monsters that can shrug off the brunt of most magical/elemental attacks but succumb to a single blow from a well-designed fighter. An optimized martial will deal in one blow typically more damage than a spell that a caster of the same level can cast. There are very few creatures that are immune to weapon damage (the only thing I can think of are swarms) and DR is very easy to bypass -- even without the special material, you optimize a martial's damage output enough, they do enough that DR doesn't make a notable difference (DR IMO is one of the most useless features in the game, but that's another conversation).

Your first fight with a golem--which are pretty common RPG enemies--will demonstrate exactly how important having a strong martial member of the party is.

I ran a HIGH (15th-19th) level Pathfinder game that was , probably not unsurprisingly, caster heavy. The casters did a LOT, do not get me wrong. And they did a lot that relied upon caster-ness. The party would probably not have succeeded without having casters in it. BUT... the character that usually killed bad guys in one or two blows was the fighter/rogue/shadowdancer, with well-placed sneak attacks (he was VERY good at getting in flanking position). The rogue also still handled traps and other typical "dungeon obstacles" in a way others couldn't (the cleric was not going to waste her time preparing find traps and the wizard was not going to waste his time preparing knock when both of them had way more crucial spells they needed to rely on at that level).

In another game I am in right now (a PBP here, DM Papa DRB's Moru Country, if you want to look at it) we're at 8th level, and we have a scary-optimized ranger who typically one-shots the bad guys before the casters can do a damn thing. If there's one outshining "star" of the campaign, it's him. The character I play is a bard-archeologist, and she generally has been more invaluable for her skillset than her spellcasting.

- Again, be able to do what they always do without running out of resources easily, and usually not have to rest to recuperate their strengths.

B) What spell casters can do to invalidate and more importantly

I really don't know what this means. If you mean "spellcasters can invalidate what martials usually do," this is a bit of a falsehood spread by theorycrafters who I'm fairly certain never actually sit down and play the game. Yes, a cleric could prepare find traps but why would you when there's way better spells to prep and someone else can do that? Again, casters have limited resources. If they waste those resources trying to fill other party member roles, then they probably are doing it at the expense of the thing that class is actually most valuable for (healing, buffing, blasting, or battlefield control).

In the all-arcane game I played in, we struggled in dealing with foes quickly (no focused damage dealer) and the only reason we could cover all bases was largely because 3/4 of us ended up dipping into non-caster classes. We also were all glass cannons and went down easily if the dice were not on our side. (Mind, this was due to being all ARCANE; maybe all-caster there would have been more diversity.)

C) Why do martials require a place in game if they're not really allowed to be important

Given every game I've played in over the course of decades, not just in Pathfinder but its D&D predecessors, martials have been important (let alone "allowed" to be) and have shone as brightly as the casters in the group, so this question is untruthful and irrelevant.

EDIT: D) What can a martial do that no other class type can do. Clearly anyone does damage, what else?

See above. It's not about what you can do uniquely--uniqueness should come from the player--it's about what you can do BEST.

Final Thoughts: The best party is one that works together and builds upon each other's strengths. A party that is set up where players pit their PCs against one another in essentially fighting over who shines the most is doomed to fail in a typical campaign. But in a good party, the martial character blocks the caster from taking damage, while the caster buffs the martial to make her do even more damage to the bad guys. The caster alters the battlefield so the martial gains the high ground, the martial deals reliable, consistent levels of damage that are not resisted by magic immunity, saving throw, or spell resistance. The caster uses area of effect spells to wipe away minions while the martial can safely get close to and focuses upon the BigBad. By themselves, each can be good at something or not, but a good party full of a variety of roles will always make each other better.

At the end of the day, it's the party together that should shine as a whole, and not any one member of it.

I've been very lucky enough that in most of the games I've personally played, that is the case.

And again: You don't want to play in a party with martials? Fine. Don't. If that's how you and your gaming group has fun, and you find you can do it successfully, go for it. Others do have fun with martials in the party, however, and neither they nor the game itself is wrong for including them.

Have fun and happy gaming.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

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I didn't have a chance till after the top 16 was announced to comment on these, but I remember last year really appreciating any constructive feedback I got, so I am trying to return the favor.

Congrats on getting into the top 16 with this amazing cemetery map.

What's amazing about it? That we see cemeteries all the time in fantasy games. Common place to fight undead, good place for low level adventures, etc. And yet this place does not look uncommon. You do a lot with building shapes, overall design, terrain, so what could have been quite ordinary stand out as unique. It is challenging to come up with a location no one's ever made before. It is even more challenging to take something typical and elevate it to something special, and you did that. I love all the circles and arcs that give the sense that an architect designed this place--something you'd see in a cemetery for nobility--not just a place where people dump their dead wherever they can.

Your map is very easy to understand and I know pretty much what everything is without having to consult your legend or text at all. This is especially a feat since you chose not to use color and is an excellent example that a well designed map does not require color or complicated software to convey the right details.

I actually disagree with you on "too much rubble" -- I see a lot of maps where people put "difficult terrain" in places that is all too easily avoidable by the PCs, making its presence pointless. I like that you have lots of rubble.

Your text is a good supplement to your map and in two words, "rebel hideout," you add a whole other level of potential in what kind of adventures may be had here. Even aside from standard undead hunts, there are a lot of different kinds of adventure to be had here, and it looks like a great start, even, to a whole story, potentially.

The only suggestions I can think of is to put your labels (rather than numbered references) on the map itself so that you could have used more of your 50 words to set up even more encounter possibilities (haunts? desecration? etc.).

Congratulations again and well done.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

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I didn't have a chance till after the top 16 was announced to comment on these, but I remember last year really appreciating any constructive feedback I got, so I am trying to return the favor.

Congratulations on making it into the top 32 and for putting such a strong contender in the map round.

What I like about this map is you put a lot of encounter potential and different kinds of danger into a fairly simple concept/area. You've put a lot of thought into the kinds of things can happen here, and this is a location that despite your placing it in a single place in Golarion, it could be used for a number of different places (I just found recently an AWFUL map I made awhile ago of a switchback path down a cliff in the Darklands -- adapting what you made here would have been far more useful!). I like you thought to put a sniper there because he can take care of those pesky flying creatures and PCs that may not be stymied by the rest of the terrain.

I am surprised to hear you lament your "polish" abilities because this looks very polished to me in many respects -- the grid is clear; the lines dark, clean, and precise; the details obvious and understandable. You use minimal color to good effect to outline key areas. As you say, drawing a cliff area is hard, but I think you rose to that particular challenge.

Your text as it is, is fine, though as noted I wish there was a little more detail as to what was there and why -- and why PCs might need to travel through this dangerous area. More hooks are always good (something I learned in last year's map round). What you can't put in the text you could put on the map ("ogre witch's lair" (or whatever) in a label can change the possibilities of what might happen right there).

I am amused to see you mentioned video games because when I first pictured this, I thought of "Donkey Kong" and similar, except I was picturing PCs climbing the cliff while trolls or giants stood at the top throwing boulders instead of barrels. And that is its appeal and also, I think, a bit of its downfall -- it just lacks that narrative OOMPH that makes it stand out from a more standard "cliff hazard"/"player character platformer."

Trust your instinct for tactical terrain--that you have down VERY well--and focus on hooks and potential story, and you will do very well if we see you again. Good job.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

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I am not sure why the Paizo judges and staff cannot state clearly or loudly enough that round 2 is not a cartography contest. It's for how module designers convey location.

Perhaps it should be called "Create a map CONCEPT" or something.

(As for getting unlabeled maps from Paizo, that's what the various map .pdfs are for. I've found the ones that come with APs invaluable. I don't know how high res they are for VTT, nobody I know can afford that kind of equipment just for gaming.)

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

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Profantasy (makers of Campaign Cartographer) also occasionally do contests, so keep an eye out for that. The winner I believe gets essentially all of their software for free.

Much as I think as it would be cool to have such a contest here, Paizo does this to specifically cultivate game designers, a freelance pool of which is always needed. They have an in-house cartographer so I don't know if there is demand (here specifically) for any more.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

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I am really excited about the reveal today. Can't wait! Is that weird?

Anyway, good luck, top 32!

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

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Map Fu wrote:

*Yawns and stretches, awoken by Template Fu's gentle snores*

Ahhh, it must be time for Maps soon! I smell fresh scanning in the air!

*Takes his leave to the bathroom to refresh for the reviewing ahead*

*sees map fu, clutching her unreviewed map from 8 months ago; sits in a corner and weeps out of the cruel cold of abandonment*

(ETA: I realize it is far more important at this point to focus on the new season, not old news. I'm just being a drama queen (with a far amount of silliness to boot).)

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

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Congratulations everybody! Give yourselves a pat on the back, and take a deep breath....

Before you realize you're on the lift hill, and the chain is clicking up, up, up, up.... don't look down, and get ready for a big ride!

Good luck in the next round!

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

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*while getting ready to either congratulate the next top 32 or fight ghosts, knocks off her glasses and proceeds to feel about for them on the floor*


RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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Yes, this is what we call "victim-blaming."

The onus is on people to not be creeps, and the community to discourage a*$%@&+ behavior. The "jerks will be jerks" attitude is unbelievable -- jerkish behavior is BEHAVIOR, and behavior can be changed. I can't change that I am a woman, and the notion that 51% of the human population should hide who they are or be ashamed of it because they might get hurt is ridiculous.

It's all the more ridiculous on a message board owned by a company with a large female staff, including a female CEO. Should we tell Lisa Stevens not to tell anyone who she is because she might get harassed in the gaming industry?

ETA: Oh, and I missed this the first time: the suggestion that people who get harassed encourage it for attention's sake is downright insulting. No lynching, just callout, a flag, and a block for that. That's what we're supposed to do, right?

Upthread I've encouraged people to report when stuff happens and be clear about boundaries with folks, and that's the best we can do--and what I have done (the situation that did happen to me I did report, explain to the person why I was uncomfortable, and got out of the situation). We can also call people out on poor behavior, and encourage a welcoming community. That doesn't preclude sympathy to those who may not feel secure playing with certain strangers on the Internet, especially as even if we did build an ideal community of nice people here, they may still have had bad experiences elsewhere.

But always, always, always, the effort is to make folks be comfortable to be themselves and assert their boundaries, not make them feel like they have to hide or be ashamed of themselves with this community. Note "be a jerk" is not included in "being yourself" as again, toxic social behaviors are not innate and can and should be encouraged to change.

Korak, I agree, you have to set boundaries very clearly, especially in communities where a number of us are socially awkward/not good at social cues.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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I know I'm being a fuddy duddy, but I've been finding I want to vote less this year in Superstar because I've got this long string of "star voter" tags and don't want to make my title any longer than it is. It already feels cluttery to me. (The season 9 glitch just makes it worse.)

I am also proud enough--perhaps overly, I warrant--that I'd rather just have my Top 8 tag show up without any other things next to it to distract from it (save perhaps my subscriber tag, which got eaten by my top 8 tag due to some other forum glitch).

I know many RPGSS voters are very proud of their voting accomplishments, especially those who've reached champion and marathon, and this is not intended to diss those who've put so much time into the contest and want to wear their badges proudly. I'd just personally not rather have the voter tags.

Can they be removed? (Without borking anyone else's up?)


RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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DoubleGold wrote:
The world is safe. Just certain cities that aren't, but I also live in a town/city where troublemakers are rare. And where I work, the worst you get is a jerk/rude customer 10% of the time.

I have been made to feel unsafe on these boards, which was the point.

Good for you, that your circumstances allow you to remain oblivious to the harder parts of life. I pray you learn to be compassionate towards those who can't be, rather than insinuate they're wrong for living a life different from you.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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I think it can also depend on either experimental attitudes -- seeing how one character can handle something -- and the type of story you want to tell (there's one "hero" rather than a band of players).

FWIW I'm with you regarding the leeriness, I wouldn't volunteer for a solo game with a GM I didn't know or trust (I'd totally be down with someone I did know well and trusted). I've already had to deal with creepy invasive GMs before and am not keen to do it again. I don't feel the world is unsafe, I KNOW it is unsafe based on direct personal experience.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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KeefX if you can get your character alias at least started that would be awesome (the way Lathiira has made Threnody). If you need instruction on that let me know.

If you can also talk amongst yourselves about any existing party dynamics... you all served aboard the same ship so you know each other to at least some extent.

You're about to be thrown into a situation full of strangers, many of them hostile, so determining how you three work together and get along ahead of time will be beneficial to you.

Go to the Queen City Creamery and ponder the sorcerership over some ice cream. :)

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

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Twisted Path wrote:

I'm hoping that I make to Round 2, but concerned about being able to submit a legal map entry if I do make it.

So, 24 x 36 grid, or 24 x 30? People have said both in this thread. So, my entire image should be 24 squares x 30(36?) squares, with nothing going outside that area.

I don't have a scanner, or a printer. So, I'm also concerned about being able to use the grid that will be supplied to us.

I'm pretty much looking at drawing by hand onto a sheet of graph paper. That leads to another issue, making this the right DPI. I'll probably have to take a photo of my map and then load it into my computer. Not sure about how I'm going to meet the requirements from there.

This is all moot if I don't make Round 2, but I'm hoping to figure this stuff out in advance, just in case.

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer!

If you have a means to edit images digitally (there are free programs that can help you with that), you could also create the image on the grid you download without needing to either print or scan anything.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

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Oh, right.

You know, "disqualification" is one word. Shouldn't it be "D"?


Anyway, yes, just to repeat it the nth time for fun, it's if you obviously designed the item for a different game. Errors are not auto-disqualifications. It'd be like saying leaving in one of the ZZs in the pastable template is against the rules. It's not, just a mistake. IIRC, even some of the winning module proposals have had (minor) rules errors in them.

I think the disqualifiable stuff is the big, broad rulebreakers like breaks 300 word limit, is written for other game, violates IP, writer identifies their own item prematurely, etc.

*goes off to buy a Blizzard(TM)*

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

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Rather than speculate further, I'd just advise re-reading what Owen has said about the round so far, not read too much into it beyond what he has said, look at prior map rounds and encounter rounds, and practice practice practice.

Regarding quality of artwork: what is important is clarity, what the person can see there. Good artwork AND clarity might wow some voters, but the point is to make something a professional cartographer can turn into a final art product (read: you are not expected to provide a final art product).

READ OVER THE PRIOR MAP ROUND. You'll see black and white drawings with high praise--because the location was INTERESTING and the design was CLEAR--and pro-looking artwork dismissed because it was not exciting and it wasn't clear what everything was.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

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I would GUESS that the map would be an encounter map and someone in round 4 would have to chose from round 2 maps to use in their encounter.

So, IF I AM CORRECT (and I may not be), it would be an encounter map first and foremost.

Note a lot of flip-mats ARE also specific adventure locations in Paizo's adventure paths and modules, however: the pirate ship is the PC's pirate ship in "Skull and Shackles;" one of the first dungeon maps is the entire dungeon in "Crypt of the Everflame"; the bandit outpost is a key location early on in "Kingmaker"; etc. So good flip-mats are detailed enough to serve as specific locations while also being versatile enough to sell as products that a GM may use for a number of purposes.

Just make lots and lots of maps, basically.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

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I didn't submit because I can't (and if I could I wouldn't because I'm still exhausted from the last Superstar), but I came up recently with an entirely non-Superstar, completely useless item that I LOVE: a wooden artist's mannequin that takes on the appearance of any humanoid you want (for the purposes of accurate drawing and also sticking it next to your sleeping party member and seeing their face when they wake up next to a tiny orc). Because every adventurer needs that!

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