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I've re-purposed my 198 stat blocks. They use the same illustrations that Threeshades is using, but I've given each of them a twist that should make it different from other adaptations of the same monster.
When I eventually finalize my page layout and rewrite my flavor text, you'll get MORE MONSTERS!
Ciaran Barnes wrote:
I didn't know he was going to be a father soon. Tragic.
Steve's sister posted the following in a comment on this blog:
Nikole Gardner - Steve's Sister wrote:
I never had the opportunity to meet Steve in person, but I had the pleasure of working with him a few times, and I can say without a doubt he was one of the most enthusiastic and supportive people I've ever met. He had a way of making everyone he talked to feel like the most important person in the room, and he was genuinely interested in seeing everyone around him excel.
I still remember our first conversation from a few years back. I was pitching an idea for a product and I mentioned, as part of introducing myself, that I had written several articles for Dragon magazine. Out of curiosity, Steve asked their names, so I rattled them off. The list included an obscure pair of articles I had written some ten years earlier.
Imagine my surprise when Steve not only recognized those two titles, but cited his favorite part of the first article off the top of his head. As it turns out, Steve, gaming enthusiast that he was, kept a binder filled with photocopies of all his favorite Dragon magazine articles for ease of reference. To this day, knowing that I contributed to that binder remains the biggest compliment I have ever received as a game designer.
But the great thing about Steve was that he did that for everyone he worked with. He could cite all of his freelancers' best work, and he could push them to produce more of it, because he wanted everyone around him to succeed. He was an amazing collaborator, an amazing publisher, and an amazing man.
This week, the industry lost a muse and quite a few people lost a friend.
Steve Geddes wrote:
I find the whole Aroden's-death-is-forever-going-to-be-a-mystery thing really, really irritating. This one doesn't bug me, for some reason...
Spoiler from Starfinder AP #1: The PCs discover proof that Aroden traveled forward in time and died as a direct result of whatever events took place during the gap in history.
I'd dislike seeing vancian magic make an appearance...
I'm glad someone brought this up. I was starting to get worried when I didn't see Vancian magic mentioned on page 1.
For 30+ years, every time someone put psionics in a D&D or Pathfinder product, a vocal group of objectors would complain, "Psionics is too sci-fi. Power points are too sci-fi. All these pseudo-scientific power names are too sci-fi. It's too different from the feel of the game's traditional magic system."
Now we have Starfinder, and Starfinder is sci-fi. The most sci-fi fi that Paizo ever claimed was fi about sci. And it's a stand-alone game. There is absolutely no excuse for Starfinder to use anything other than psionics as its default magic system. Actual psionics, not Vancian magic with the serial numbers filed off. Psionics with power points that make narrative sense from a pseudo-scientific perspective.
If you aren't making use of non-OGC world content from WotC, then the Dungeon Master Guild is almost certainly a bad deal for you, but fortunately the OGL is still there.
If you're trying to join WotC's stable of 5e freelancers, the DM Guild is arguably a better deal than entering RPG Superstar. The "voters" in the DM Guild vote for up-and-coming freelancers with actual dollars, so you might make a few bucks even if you don't crack the Top 32 DM Guild bestsellers.
The third party reference site isn't going to be making revisions to core rules, it'll just be hosting additional 3rd party content alongside the official SRD rules. Exactly like they do with Pathfinder.
Like nature, OGL designers abhor a vacuum. I've already stumbled upon an online discussion where designers were debating the best way to replace the rules omitted from the SRD with similar but differently-worded 3pp content, to be hosted on the same website as the official SRD.
Incentivizing designers to create a reworded PHB knock-off that will be more widely available in an electronic format than the actual PHB can't be good for D&D as a brand. You want to create a situation where third parties generate familiarity with the core rules of your game, not one where third parties create potential confusion by blending a fraction of your official rules with reworded rules written to fill an intentional content gap.
In these quotes taken from a Reddit discussion, the D&D folks at WotC have confirmed that they have no plans to add more content to the SRD aside from a few mistakenly omitted items. So, thanks to the content gap in the SRD, the biggest third-party "5e" reference site will inevitably become a D&D clone competing with (instead of complementing) D&D. *sigh*
On the plus side, the D&D staff say the folks running DriveThruRPG are working on a solution to the problem with artwork in the DM Guild, and expect that the concerns folks here and elsewhere have raised should be addressed in the near future.
Vic Wertz wrote:
Yeah, that's what I was getting at regarding the new SRD.
If the SRD had been either more permissive or less permissive, it would have been much more effective.
A more permissive SRD would allow third-party reference sites to explicitly include core D&D character options, generating familiarity with WotC-published content and promoting WotC's vision for the game.
A less permissive SRD would have allowed third-party publishers to expand upon the D&D 5e rules without also being able to create comprehensive reference sites that dilute the authority of the PHB.
Instead, WotC chose a middle route that has the disadvantages of both. The SRD is just restrictive enough that you can't create an authentic reference site, but just permissive enough that you can create a designer-impostor reference site. That's probably the least beneficial result WotC could get from releasing a System Reference Document.
Scott Betts wrote:
I'm speaking from the perspective of an independent publisher offering advice to would-be independent publishers. Never base your business ("build your house") on a single, revocable license to someone else's IP ("land you don't own").
That's not a value statement about WotC's DMG Program (which is much better than, say, Paizo's Adventure Card Creator). That's a suggestion that aspiring publishers read and understand the full ramifications of any license they want to use, and then develop their business model accordingly.
Steve Geddes wrote:
I kind of think of the SRD as a way for publishers to produce compatible content without fear of legal action, not as a player resource.
The SRD 5.0 is obviously a publisher resource, not a player resource. On behalf of third party publishers everywhere, I thank WotC for publishing it.
On the other hand, I think the current version of the SRD is a poorly-executed business strategy. Within 12 hours of the SRD's release, a third-party publisher created a 5e SRD website intended for use as a player (not publisher) resource. Third parties are already discussing the best way to populate the 5e SRD site with clones of the content excluded from the official SRD, and those clones will be reiterated by numerous 3pp products drawing upon the 5e SRD site. Based on the history of third-party publishing, none of this should surprise anyone.
Essentially, WotC just outsourced the online gateway to the 5e rules. Except, instead of allowing the online gatekeeper to promote the actual 5e rules, it has incentivized the gatekeeper to create a competing edition of the 5e rules (one which renames and rewords most of the core character options). WotC now suffers all of the drawbacks of the OGL (3pp products can ride WotC's coattails and/or create competing game systems) with none of benefits of the OGL (3pp products can do nothing to introduce new players to the character options appearing in the PHB, and thus generate limited interest in official 5e products).
Vic Wertz wrote:
You retain ownership of the content you create, but you give them "the exclusive, irrevocable license for the full term of copyright protection available (including renewals), to develop, license, reproduce, print, publish, distribute, translate, display, publicly perform and transmit your Work, in whole and in part, in each country in the world, in all languages and formats, and by all means now known or later developed, and the right to prepare derivative works of your Work."
You retain ownership of your house, you just can't live in your house, rent it out, modify it, sell it, or tear it down. Also, we can move into, rent out, modify, sell, or tear down your house whenever we want.
(Which is why you should never build a house on land you don't own.)
Steve Geddes wrote:
Leaving stuff out isn't as awkward as declaring stuff closed content.
I don't know. Leaving out a bunch of feats is rather awkward.
This leads to a situation where the only complete, "try it before you buy it" SRD is going to be a third-party website with a bunch of designer-impostor feats (and clones of other official D&D character options like archetypes and backgrounds). Wouldn't it be better for D&D if the game's most comprehensive online reference tool was a site that listed the official wording of the game's most common character options instead of listing a bunch of third-party workarounds?
Welcome to the playtest thread for the Custom Class Builder Preview. While the rules in this PDF have been playtested as much as possible by the designer, they allow more choices than any one person or group could playtest in a lifetime of gaming. Accordingly, any feedback from readers is greatly appreciated, and will be taken into account when finalizing the full version of the Custom Class Builder, which is scheduled for release in late 2016.
Note: This thread is being posted a few days before the Custom Class Builder Preview is released so text in that preview can be hyperlinked back to this thread. I will post a link to the preview once it is available for download. The preview will be released a few days after this post as a 64-page, pay-what-you-want PDF product.
I've decided to add a sample class to the Custom Class Builder Preview so readers can walk through an example of the class creation process. I've also found a few more pieces of artwork I want to include if I can find room without going over 64 pages.
That means I need to spend a few hours creating tables, shuffling artwork around, and making some page layout adjustments, but the finish line for the preview PDF is definitely in sight.
Instead of releasing a PDF in November, I'm going to add some Animal Races material to d20pfsrd.com so I have some free, sample crunch I can point to if anyone wants to see it.
For December, I'm working on Animal Races: Clan of the Seabird so folks will have penguins in time for Christmas: cute penguins; umbrella-toting crime boss penguins; giant, Lovecraftian, albino penguins. Also, albatrosses and ghost ships.
My first few releases in 2016 will be:
I am currently doing graphic design and page layout work on the Custom Class Builder preview PDF (a.k.a., the alpha playtest document I mentioned in previous posts). I'm also looking through some stock art to find some illustrations I can use to add a bit of color.
Despite my best efforts to condense the awesomeness that is the Custom Class Builder into as few words as possible, the preview PDF is going to be 64 pages long (possibly a bit longer, depending upon the final graphics and artwork).
The Custom Class Builder preview PDF includes:
And that's just a small fraction of the full Custom Class Builder that should be ready next year. In fact, the full product has so much more to offer than the 64-page preview, I'm going to make the 64-page preview PDF available for free or pay-what-you-want as soon as I've finished all the necessary graphics and layout work.
Scott Fernandez wrote:
The Rock of Bral is like a thousand times the size of this place...
That's why I think the Rock of Bral was a better implementation of this concept. Any map that meets the requirements of this challenge is too small to do a flying landmass justice (as evidenced by all of the rooms missing from the house on this map). To me, this map feels like a case of too much portrait, too little canvas.
As a voter, I want to see a designer who understands the scope of a 120-foot-by-150-foot area, both in real life and on a battlemat. Too many times, I've gone to draw an epic map from a module on a battlemat only to discover that the map is actually small and cramped because its designer overestimated how much area was actually being portrayed.
After this round is over and contestants can talk about their maps without getting in trouble, I'll be curious to hear how many of them actually drew their maps on battlemats and moved minis around on them to get a feel for the size of their locations.
I suspect I'm going to be the only critical voice in this thread, so I'm going to skip all the praise I could offer and move right to the criticism.
This concept was really awesome when it was published twenty years ago as the Rock of Bral poster map in the Spelljammer boxed set. Flying boulder with buildings on it? Rock of Bral. Underside with opposite gravity? Rock of Bral. Big lake on one side? Rock of Bral. It's entirely possible the creator of this map never saw the Rock of Bral poster map, but the Meandering Oasis isn't doing anything that hasn't been done before and done better.
I've played Spelljammer and Planescape. I've played modules set on cloud islands and in flying castles. You can't impress me with a map just by saying, "Look, it's flying terrain!" I've been there and I've done that. If you want to impress me with flying terrain, it needs to be really interesting flying terrain.
So, ignoring the flying aspect of this map, what do we have? We have a standard lake, a standard pond, a couple of boulders, and the ruins of a mansion that's missing lots of stuff (dining room but no kitchen, guest bedroom but no parlor for entertaining, no bathroom or lavatory, etc.). If this were mapped on level ground as a meteor-struck, lakeside mansion, it would be okay, I guess. If we pretend the crash that wrecked the mansion wiped out all of the rooms that should be there but aren't, this map would probably make for a decent, reusable Flip Mat. But taking that okay location and turning it into an okay flying location does nothing to increase my excitement. It's still just an okay map, and now it's too niche to be reused after running the handful of specific encounters designed to take place there.
I fully suspect this map will advance, probably with a large percentage of the vote, but I still think it is a flawed map using its high concept as a smoke-screen for its shortcomings. And, as I noted above, it's high concept has already been done as a poster map in the Spelljammer boxed set, so it's nothing new to me.
I think the voters did fine without judge intervention. I would just like to see the algorithm tweaked to spread the items around better. That way, I'd feel more confident that most voters' thoughts on an item have been heard before I get an opportunity to down-vote that item nineteen times.
Instead of generating a random item pair each time someone casts a vote, perhaps the system could assign a (behind-the-scenes) string of pre-generated item pairs to each account before the start of voting. That would let Paizo better regulate the distribution of items to voters. No one would get twenty times as many votes on a given item than anyone else; everyone would see unique items more frequently without having to wade through constant repeats; and Paizo could encourage people to cast even more votes by offering incentives like, "Every Marathon voter is guaranteed to see each item at least once."
That's the sort of change I'd like to see. I think it would make voting both more reliable and more enjoyable for voters.
I agree with 90% of the culls and I didn't see too many surprises in the Top 32, so I think the process did a fairly good job of identifying high-quality items. In fact, this is the first season where I haven't seen a single Top 32 pick that made me ask, "How did that get in here?"
That being said, based on my Marathon voting, I saw some areas where the voting system might have broken down a bit, especially after the final cull. Based on purely anecdotal evidence, the biggest problem I saw was the tendency of certain items to "follow" me as I voted. In other words, my nearly 2000 votes were not evenly distributed across the available selection of items.
Looking at only the final 223 items, I voted on each item an average of ten times. (I saw my own item seven times and one of the items I workshopped thirteen times, for example.) However, there were eleven items I saw fewer than five times each and thirteen items I saw more than fifteen times each. That's 10% of the final 223 that received a disproportionate number of my votes.
Let's look at the two most extreme cases. There was one item in the final 223 that I never saw. There was another item in the final 223 that I saw twenty times (and down-voted nineteen times, though I could see how other voters with different preferences might have liked it). That happenstance was pure chance. There was an equal probability that my viewing numbers for those two items would have been reversed.
For the sake of argument, let's say the item I never saw was one I would have really liked and up-voted almost every time I saw it. Let's also say that both of the items in question were middle-of-the-road items for voters other than myself. If my viewing numbers had been reversed, that would have meant 10 fewer down-votes and 10 more up-votes for the item I never saw (but would have liked) and 10 fewer down-votes and 10 more up-votes for the item I saw twenty times (but didn't like).
Would those additional up-votes have affected the chances of those two items? The answer to that question depends up lots of complicated things, but I don't think it's unreasonable to speculate that an extra 10 up-votes might have bumped either of two items already in the top 223 up a few spots. If one of those items finished in 37th place, it might have missed out on the Top 32 simply because its number of views by yours truly was a statistical outlier.
TL;TR: Item views need to be better distributed across all voters. When Marathon and Champion voters see a small number of items twenty or more times, their influence on those randomly-chosen items is disproportionately large.
Interior. Suburban house. The TWO GUYS sit on a couch, eating junk food.
(Thunder claps. The lights in the house flicker briefly.)
GUY #1: "Wow. Big storm."
GUY #2: "Yeah, I'd love to see the New Kid's face right now."
GUY #1 (lauhging): "Yeah, that would be totally hillarious."
(Enter GIRL #1.)
GIRL #1: "What would be totally hillarious?"
GUY #1: "Oh, nothing."
GIRL #1: "No, really. Tell me."
GUY #2: "We told the New Kid we'd meet him out in the woods by the old Guildhall at midnight tonight, so he's probably out there in the rain and the wind right now."
GIRL #1: "What? Why would you send him out there and leave him hanging all night?"
GUY #2: "Because it's funny."
GIRL #1: "You are such an ass." (Grabs her coat off a nearby coat rack.)
GUY #1: "What? Where are you going?"
GIRL #1: "I'm going out to the old Guildhall to make sure the New Kid isn't lost or hurt or being attacked by wolves or something."
GUY #1: "There aren't any wolves around here."
(Girl #1 puts on her coat.)
GUY #1: "You're not serious. You're not really going out there to look for some stupid New Kid?"
GIRL #1: "I am. And if you ever want to have sex with me again, you're coming with me."
GUY #1: "What? No. It's pouring rain out there."
GIRL #1: "Well, you should have thought about that before sending the New Guy out there. Now get your keys. You're driving me out there."
GUY #1: "Dammit." (Stands up. Collects his car keys. Looks at GUY #2.) "Well, come on."
GUY #2: "What?"
GUY #1: "We're going out to the old Guildhall to find the New Kid."
GUY #2: "Why am I coming?"
GUY #1: "Because this prank was your idea."
GUY #2: "Okay, fine, but I'm inviting my girlfriend. And we're stopping at my house so I can steal some of my Dad's beer. If I'm going to drive out to a big, empty house in the middle of the night, I'm going to have some fun while I'm there."
GUY #1: "Bro, I like the way you think."
GIRL #1 (rolling her eyes): "Guys."
GUY #1: "Whatever. Let's do this."
GUY #2: "To the Guildhall!"
(Thunder claps. The lights in the house flicker ominously.)
Exterior. Night. The NEW KID stands in the middle of the woods.
(The New Kid glances at a smartphone, checking the time. In addition to telling the time, the phone indicates that no service is available at its current location.)
NEW KID (shouting): "Okay, guys, I'm here! Guys, where are you?"
(An ominous wind stirs the branches in the wood.)
NEW KID (shouting): "Seriously, guys. Let's just do this initiation thing so I can get back inside."
(Lightning flashes. Thunder claps. Rain starts to fall.)
NEW KID (shouting): "Come on, guys, where are you?"
(Branches rustle. A shape that might be a wolf dart between two large shrubs.)
NEW KID (shouting): "Guys, this isn't funny."
(More shapes move in the underbrush.)
NEW KID (shouting): "I'm going back to the car."
(The New Kid turns, but a wolf is blocking the path. Lightning flashes. Thunder claps. The wolf growls.)
NEW KID (shouting): "Guys!"
(The New Kid turns and runs. The wolf pursues. Other wolves join in. The New Kid stumbles through the dark and rainy woods, occasionally tripping on falled braches and stumbling. The wolves move effortlessly through the underbrush, but are alwasy just a few feet shy of their target.
(The New Kid stumbles out of the woods and into a clearing. Lightning flashes, revealing a large but worn-down house atop a nearby hill. The New Kid glances back in the direction of the wolves, then sprints for the old house. The wolves give chase, grey blurs darting across the clearing in pursuit of the New Kid.
(The New Kid reaches the porch of the old house and bangs frantically on the front door. No one answers. The New Kid glances back towards the wolves. They have all stopped at the threshhold of the old house's lawn, where they stand in a line, growling but unwilling to advance.
(The New Kid knocks on the door of the house, a bit less frantically this time.)
NEW KID: "Hello, is anyone there?"
(The New Kid turns to look at the wolves. Behind the New Kid, the house's front door swings open, seemingly of its own accord. The creaking of the opening door attracts the New Kid's attention.)
(Lighting flashes. Thunder claps. The wolves howl. With one last glance at the animals standing across the lawn, watching hungrily, the New Kid enters the old house.)
Greetings. On behalf of all the haunts and incorporeal undead sent packing for the next life by the latest batch of Superstar items, I would like to congratulate everyone who competed. I would also like to welcome this season's class of Top 32 finalists and alternates to the Top 32 Guildhall. (Pay no attention to the poltergeist activity in the room with the bloodstained floor. We're having that area dusted and fumigated. A dead guy I spoke to assured me that will fix the problem.)
As always, the Guildhall is a place for all past and present Top 32 finalists, alternates, judges, and Paizo staffers to hang out and chat during the course of RPG Superstar. If you belong to one or more of these listed groups, feel free to post in the Guildhall any time after the names of the Season 9 Top 32 have been revealed. Just keep in mind that posts in this thread are visible to the everyone on the boards, not just the Top 32. Don't say anything here that might result in a disqualification!
Again, this thread is intended for past and present Top 32 finalists, alternates, judges, and Paizo staffers. I ask that community members not belonging to these listed groups please create new threads when posting commentary, congratulations, or other messages to the Top 32. Posts from the voting public are important to the finalists. Such posts deserve their own dedicated threads so they don't get buried in Guildhall banter, where they might get overlooked by the finalists.
Thank you. Good luck. Let the games begin.
Congrats to our two(?) four-time Champions for keeping the streak alive!
Having seen every item remaining in the competition, I can honestly say I have no idea what items I'll see when the Top 32 are revealed tomorrow. I have my own short list of favorites, but there are well over a hundred items I could see potentially making the Top 32. Depending upon which voters are seeing which items the most often, just about any of those hundred-plus items could make the Top 32.
I think it's a testament to the quality of this season's entries that I can't even begin to predict this year's Top 32. In previous seasons, I've been able to narrow things down to a list of fifty or sixty items I thought had a good chance, but not this year. I know what items I'd pick as my own personal Top 32, but if none of them make it onto the official list, I won't be particularly surprised. The competition is just that tight this season.
You can do it, Feros.
Four seasons, twenty-thousand votes.
It only took 1244 votes, but I have now officially seen every item known to remain in the competition.
Changes color and texture to match any outfit; transforms into a bathing suit on command; uses mimic adhesive to maintain support without straps in situations where straps are unwanted...
I may have submitted the wrong item this year.
Amanda Plageman wrote:
Oooh... Chest as in 'upper torso'. I was somehow reading chest as 'large box', and was confused, since I didn't even know that was a slot.... /facepalm
Upper torso + large box = brassier of the mimic
Will Huston wrote:
I will regret signing the papers to buying a house in the middle of the voting round if I end up in Top 32 and can't find the time to continue on.
On the plus side, if you make the Top 32 and can't find time to continue on, you get the opportunity to make one of the alternates very happy.
Jeff Hazuka wrote:
"Incorporeality" is not something to be just tacked on.
One does not simply walk through Mordor.
I always up-vote my own item without remorse because I'm voting for the designer who made the item, not the item itself. I have 100% confidence in my own design skills and significantly less confidence in the design skills of an anonymous, randomly-selected stranger.
Jeff Lee wrote:
I'm noting certain trigger words. Rather than causing me distress, they instead send me spiraling into a reverie about pop culture references and it takes time and effort to recover and get back on topic. For example, there are items out there that keep making me think of this guy.
NA-NA. NA. NA. NA. THUNDER!
( •_•) (x_x)
It was a battle of Edge vs. Edge.
It was just a matter of time before someone got...
♫♪ YeeaAAHHHH! ♫♪
Okay, item, half-way through your description, I was convinced you were biting off more you could chew. But then you busted out that monster in the second half of your description to make it all work. Very clever.
pH unbalanced wrote:
That depends. Did they intend to allow the action to interrupt attacks of opportunity made against the wielder during the wielder's turn? I think that would require an immediate action on the wielder's own turn, not a swift action.
(I don't know what item we're talking about here, but my instinct is to assume the item's creator wasn't going for that level of nuance; they just named the wrong action type.)
If this one particular item makes the Top 32, it's designer should thank me because I believe I've up-voted it twelve times now. I'm not even all that excited about it. It just happens to be better than everything it gets paired up against.
Thomas LeBlanc wrote:
...As usual, the 3 most overlooked considerations that affect cost...
Actually, the single most overlooked consideration that affects price is this guideline almost no one reads:
"The easiest way to come up with a price is to compare the new item to an item that is already priced, using that price as a guide. Otherwise, use the guidelines on Table 15-29." [emphasis mine]
Per the Core Rules, the table lots of people immediately consult is not the default pricing method for magic items. The table is what you fall back on if the price-comparison method doesn't provide a useful result.
I'd say I like the ocean-themed item, but that's too Pacific.
Meh. I found the mojo on the not-quite-as-good-as-the-good-one one better myself.
Finally, some praise that might apply to my item... :P
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
That emoticon may be too specific to an item.
Actually, LeBlanc and myself are the only ones to have done this all three times. If I make it and he doesn't, I will be rather sad as it has felt something like a brotherhood.
Yes, Feros, but then you'll win the Prize of the immortals.
"There can be only one."
613 votes and I finally saw my item! W00t!
I don't know what to think about it being paired up against that item, but at least I finally saw it.
I must be in a pessimistic mood.
Every few pages in this thread, I see a statement of condemnation that says something like, "This item spits in the face of everything fun about gaming and makes me question the existence of E. Gary Gygax. I will up-vote a poorly-templated grocery list before I ever allow this piece of garbage to tarnish the game forever with its unforgivably bad mechanics and its unsavory intentions towards my loved ones."
Every time I read a statement like that, I immediately assume it's directed at my item. I don't assume that about any of the mild snark in this thread, just the truly vitriolic stuff.
I'm only put off by the word "filigree" if it's being used to describe something that isn't filigree.
You could have a tier for contestants 8-12 years of age and a tier for contestants 13-17 years of age. The sixteen highest-voted entrants in each tier could get Top 32 forum tags and compete in Round 2; the four highest-voted Round 2 entrants in each tier could get Top 8 form tags and compete in Round 3; and the highest-voted Round 3 entrant from each tier could get an Apprentice Superstar tag.
There needs to be an Apprentice RPG Superstar contest for younger competitors.
I know (and dissapointingly cannot find) previous winners and judges comment that they would rather see a good idea that hints at a writer's creativity over well executed mechanics. "Mojo" is the buzzword for this. A good idea poorly executed isn't enough. But a... Superstar idea with mojo and reasonable execution is much better than a boring idea with solid mechanics.
As a voter, I look for items with really cool ideas and really tight mechanics, not one or the other.
On topic, I've seen a few items this year that meet those criteria.