I'm still planning out my Reign of Winter Campaign (waiting for the entire AP to be released before starting) but the Black Rider's mantle seems a crucial point, particularly if a new character (or entire party) needs to be introduced.
From what I see, the issues involved and possible solutions are:
* The somewhat heavy-handed nature of the mantle that diminishes the PCs autonomy.
* The suddenly transferred nature of the mantle and how it is tied to the words and throat-cutting of the Black Rider.
* The absence of fore-warning in regards to Baba Yaga as anything other than the cold evil queen of witches.
* Have the PCs talk with the Black Rider; and then when the discussion is done have him remove his helmet for a nice Darth Vader reference. I think the picture of the Black Rider really plays this up too as he gets to view the world for the last time through his "own eyes". I think to see the humanity in one of Baba Yaga's servants is important if the PCs are going to buy-in to freeing Baba Yaga.
* With his mask removed, his death becomes imminent and irreversible. When he dies, perhaps his body dissolves into black wisps sucked into the helmet as well as the two keys; empowering each item with Baba Yaga's magic. [I think this might neatly parallel the nature of Baba Yaga's progeny and their relation to the Dancing Hut but I'm still not sure.]
* By doing this you can have the power of the mantle be attached to the PCs interacting with the helmet. They have the choice of accepting the benefits/geas or staying well away from it. Importantly for your original question this means that a new PC can tie themselves to the group by accepting the mantle (perhaps by performing a ritual involving the helmet). In the case of a TPK, you can have the helmet mysteriously appear somewhere with the entirely new party interacting with the helmet.
* Another thing I am planning is to provide a little more context for Baba Yaga. I plan to have the actual campaign in Snows of Summer start a little earlier than given. In particular, I want Old Mother Theadora to play an important initial role as the strange and eccentric "witch" woman. In her house, are many items relating to Baba Yaga (including that absolutely brilliant painting of Baba Yaga gifting the black rider with his helmet on p4). Perhaps this will motivate the PCs to ask a few questions of this strange entity that the Old Mother venerates while also being a pre-cursor of events to come. By presenting the "softer" side of Baba Yaga's nature, I hope to motivate the PCs (and the players) in their crucial decision to rescue her.
I'm hoping that such an approach will cover all the bases for the Black Rider encounter as well as the possible repercussions if a new PC or entire party are required to be introduced.
To each their own I suppose. What I'm guessing here is that people who love pizza with the works can't understand why someone would bother to order a pizza with the works and then painstakingly scrape off all the topping. If such is the measure of your pizza palate, go for it and eat with gusto - I don't believe there is a wrong way to eat pizza.
I can imagine several different archetypes for Ranger that would nail the brief so perhaps it is not so clear-cut - the top 3 archetypes could all be rangers perhaps? I'm really hoping to see if one of the contestants has taken a risk with an Outsea-based archetype. I'm looking forward to seeing who has taken a risk in general and who has played it safe.
Vomit in the bed and through a 3 year old's long hair at 2:00am and then again at 3:30am in the morning is not fun! [Washing hair and changing bed stuff and then still smelling it is the worst so I completely sympathize]. And your poor cat - I'm very sorry. :(
However, allow me to hopefully cheer you up. I reckon your efforts would not have gone unnoticed by Paizo staff as well as other 3PPs and I think they'd be crazy not to throw something your way. And further, there are lots of regulars here who would have something in common. When thinking about Anthony Adam, the image of that avatar would come immediately to our minds as well as a smile, thinking of the fantastic work you did that the top 32 are most likely utilizing. Hopefully a mountain of good will your way counts for something. :)
Isaac Duplechain wrote:
My favorite was the birdcage of masterwork knives. I don't remember the name.
I think that was the Roost of Razors and that was certainly in my top 32 along with the Candle of Distant Assurance. Both of those were strong keeps for me.
Clark Peterson wrote:
You know what is truly evil? Reading your posts and knowing which of you made it and which of you didn't. Hehehehe.
My routine for the last two years has been to look at my inbox, wait patiently until 5 past the hour, drop the head slightly, then go look at the Top 32. You can start laughing now Clark.
...And, though I know Paizo will never release which items got passed over, I can't help but be curious which ones floated to the top that still got an instant-veto from the judges. (Please not me, please not me... :P)
If it was my item, I'd obviously be disappointed but at the same time, I'd love to read the feedback why it got rejected by the judges. I think it would be a fantastic opportunity for learning; even though "my" item was a success in the public voting, "this" is why the judges looking at it with an experienced eye rejected it. That would be a very valuable design lesson for the public. If the Critique My Item sub-forum gets up and running, hopefully the judges might pop their heads into a thread or two for such feedback.
Saint Caleth wrote:
I copy/pasted each item I saw into reject and keep word docs (I think I saw all but about 50 or so items based upon what a couple of posters are predicting). Once the top 32 have been revealed, PM the name and I'll PM it back to you if I've got it. Of course even better is if you make top 32, then Paizo will do this publically for you instead. Best of luck; hope for you it is the latter.
I think the biggest thing for me is that all the advice I have read and heard from the judges has been put into context. I see exactly what they mean.
The hardest thing for me though is the waiting; not only to see how many of the regular posters here make top 32, but to discuss some of the items that were so good, or others that could have been brilliant if only they had included this or more likely not included that.
So much fun ahead whether I make it in or not.
I've seen a lot of items with hyperlinks and it had no impact on how I voted. If two items were exceptionally close in quality, I'd prefer to tiebreak them on which one had the better name or which one was more original rather than which one did or did not include hyperlinks.
Jacob Trier wrote:
Now that was special. I hope you both make top 32 and he nails his archetype. All class!
I thought (keeping it general so as not to identify particular entries) that it would be interesting to post a thread focusing on things we're seeing in the better items that we wish some of the others entries could have done. I think most of this stuff is going to be equally important in the latter rounds as well.
And so what things are you observing that the better items are doing?
I'm now at 594 items in my reject file and 80 in my keep file with this including all items seen pre and post cull. I'm currently getting an unseen item roughly once every 10 to 15 pairs and I've seen my own item twice up to this point.
By the way, cheers to CHEERS; you're the first I've seen with the "Champion Voter" tag. Darn impressive!
In terms of voting, I think there are quite a few things that will have a dramatically greater impact on whether you go from the top 32 to the top 16. In terms of dotting the i's and crossing the t's, including it while still prioritizing the rest shows good form. Aim to include it; delete it if it's pushing out more necessary content.
Adam Moorhouse 759 wrote:
I can imagine someone: carefully and painstakingly crafting their item in word, pasting it and previewing, going back to word and editing, sitting on it over night, doing further edits, copy/paste into the preview, doing some final formatting and then... putting it back into word for one last time. Then they do a final copy/paste and submit without previewing... not realising they didn't highlight when copying the initial bracket "[" throwing their bb code out. Unfortunately, they only realise the mistake after they have voted a few hundred times and they see their item in all it's glory for the first time... in absolute shock at their "dumb" mistake.
I think that realization is easily punishment enough for the designer and so I don't automatically down-vote it either. I'm really looking at the idea behind the item and the design decisions made; such considerations easily outweigh any format issues. Formatting is easily fixed, poor design decisions somewhat less so.
It's a shame when you come across those items: you're smiling as you go to copy it into your keep folder only to read something near the end that makes you uncertain - but then you still think, "but the idea's still cool enough to make my keep folder". And then you realise some logical discrepancy that forces you to paste it to the reject pile.
All these items need are an edit; for the designer to surface for air long enough to realise what parts they could easily improve. I suppose this is the classic litmus test of whether a designer is ready for the competition. Good designers can repeatedly come up with good ideas; but it is the capacity to hone these ideas and present them to their sharpest design that separates the few from the many.
So many items could have been polished into the keep folder and even the top 32.
I have a reject word doc and a keep word doc open. I currently have 392 items in the reject folder and 44 in my keep folder. I've been at about the 10% mark for the voting thus far with my criteria being fairly loose; looking to pare it down at the end of voting. I'm looking forward to posting my top 32 in order and seeing how it compares with everyone else.
Of interest (I'm voting from Sydney, Australia by the way) is that at night when I'd say the voting is at it's quietest worldwide, I regularly get to see new items. During the morning when voting worldwide is at it's heaviest, I'm seeing the same items repeatedly (and generally of lower standard too). I'm blaming the silly "neither" button which to me defeats the purpose of this contest. If someone's gone to the effort of submitting something, surely the least I can do in supporting their efforts is to vote higher or lower, even if it's to effectively judge their item number 2,000 out of 2,000 and the other one 1,999.
I think it would be really cool if they could suspend the "neither" button for a few days and see what happens. I might then get to see new items more regularly. I'm still yet to see my item - maybe a good sign, maybe not.
With less than a day before the big reveal, I thought I would post some “imagined” feedback that might help the top 32 sculpt their round two entries. It's a bit all over the place but it is based on feedback given in previous years that seems applicable to this new "Organization" round. I hope it helps; take out of it what you can. :)
Feel free to add more good/bad/ugly comments and stuff that you think will help guide the top 32.
Joshua Kitchens wrote:
Its not tied to the date so to speak, but the specific day and time (2pm) in the Pacific US Timezone. So all the Aussies and others have to wake up in the middle of the night or wee hours to see it with the rest of us. :P
9:00am in the morning actually. I'm thinking I'll get into work about 8:30am, make a tea or coffee while keeping an eye on the emails. Then about 9:05am my head will slump just slightly as no Paizo email will have been received; and then I'll try and access the site to see who made it in and which items I like best. If on the other hand I do receive an email, I dare say I'll make quite the fool of myself. Best of luck everyone, not long now. :)
3) Regarding spelling/grammar: It is a courtesy to anyone who reads your writing to write as clearly as possible. Anything less than that is sloppy and shows your respect for your audience is not as good as it could be.
4) No item has ever made it in or been forced out of the top 32 based upon imprecise pricing. As long as you get the order of magnitude correct, the judges more than likely won't blink an eyelid.
7) Not offering a description of your item is like eating a 3 hat meal with a blindfold on. You'll know how nice it tastes but you're missing the visual splendor that unites the entire presentation and experience. This doesn't mean going over the top but giving your audience a definite mental picture that they can imagine and build upon.
In addition to what everyone else is saying, I suggest you have a close look at each of the items that made top 32 in previous RPG Superstar competition. In particular, read the entire thread for each focusing on the judges comments. If you do this, you will have a really good idea of what the judges are looking for and what things will cause them issues.
Pay particular note that not that many entries go over the 20,000gp mark, let alone the 100,000gp mark and I don't think any have even gotten close to 200,000gp. In the RPg Superstar Seminar podcast, I think it was Sean that mentions that anything over 100,000gp really does not work that well as a wondrous item. I think it fair to say that the judges will always place a 300gp imaginative and tightly designed wondrous item over a 150,000gp uber item. It is not a competition to see who can create the most powerful item, but the most imaginative, useful and coolest one.
While I have played numerous computer games since Dungeons of Daggeroth on the TRS-80 and Dark Castle on my MacPlus through the decades, I have never played an MMO. I think I have always feared the time sink qualities of such games and avoided them.
I wonder how many people are similar to me in this regard:
Is it possible for me to enjoy this experience too?
Now you will have to excuse me because obviously my knowledge of MMO's is incredibly lacking. But is there a way that I as a player can contribute and be involved without the time dedication required in the "adventuring" component of the game?
Could I for example:
- Create "NPCs" that basically just "sit" in the village, township or city they live in? I don't control them, but I create their existence. Their stats are rolled (for example my NPC "Tom" has his stats randomly determined) and I the player through a character creation system work out that becoming a smith is his most suited occupation (you could have a very large number of occupations to choose from here). I set how he will work within the game, his alignment and react to different things (how he does his job as smith). For example, as part of his creation, he is apprenticed to a local smith within a particular town (the computer chooses the town most suitable in terms of population) and that is where he lives.
- However, Tom the NPC smith produces things that adventurers and other NPCs require and so develops on his own but in symbiosis with the adventurers that need his services. The fun for me then becomes watching him develop over time (along with tens of other NPCs I have created). Some will not develop that much, but some may rise in status, becoming important cogs in the town (and possibly realm).
- It would be fun to check in and see that Tom had levelled and the option was there to move him to his own smith in a different town. Perhaps a different NPC I created has been murdered by an adventurer and I get to put a bounty on the offending character's head? Perhaps another NPC has been upgraded to captain of the guard in such-a-such town and so on. Perhaps Tom the smith is the only one in his new town capable of crafting a particular item. Perhaps my mage is the only one capable of identifying a magical item that an adventurer has brought in? It would be fun to play with these tropes of the pathfinder game within the online MMO.
- I understand that the OGL does not extend to computer games, but I'm sure you could do something for NPCs here that more closely follows the typical level 1 to 20 abilities of that Pathfinder game, than what you have planned for the MMO (and I can understand on both counts why the traditional MMO play needs to be quite different from what happens at the tabletop; this just allows a compromise for the dearth of people looking for something more closely tied to the pathfinder experience). I think this might be a neat way to hook in more of your paizo audience that wants to help create this online sandbox, without requiring the extreme time commitment of adventuring and typical MMOing.
- Alternatively, as well as NPCs, perhaps I can also create monsters. Perhaps I can create a little tribe of goblins? Dependng upon their success against adventurers in their little pocket of the realm, I earn some sort of currency to then craft tougher monsters. Perhaps earning enough currency to introduce a dragon into the game.
Is there anything that time poor me can do to add to the online Golarion world without having to commit to the time requirements of playing it to its fullest? Perhaps if you have two games in one in symbiosis; one for the PCs (hardcore MMO players), and one for the NPCs and Monsters (time poor but interested in bringing and developing Pathfinder to an online community), then you will have something for everyone and a unique experience in the MMO world.
Is any of this possible?
And as Herremann can point out, I have not figured how to make the em dash in word, stay an em-dash in paizo. :)
I've noticed that too. I have no idea what the unicode thing is for an em dash, but I have found opening my Core Rules pdf and copy and pasting an em dash from an appropriate item seems to work. Alternatively, copy and past this:
It is such a small thing but I have seen it repeatedly noted by the judges in successful submissions. I think it an extra string to the bow if you pay attention to such details. It's not going to get you into the top 32 but it will be noted if you get there.
How do the bandits of the Greenbelt make a living? Where do they go to perform their banditry (aside from poor Oleg's)? I understand they venture North into Rostland but that's a fair way away. Is there anywhere else south or west that is an easy enough target? Surely lone bandits would suffer a terrible fate in the greenbelt dying in the jaws of some worg or somesuch. So do they perform expeditions grouping together in significant multiples? Where to though and perhaps they have boltholes or safecamps within the boundaries of Rostland?
I suppose I'm trying to get a solid idea of how the bandits work as I'm looking at starting my Kingmaker campaign slightly differently to how it is written. I'm thinking of starting the campaign from an earlier point on the timeline:
- Having the PCs assist Oleg in establishing the outpost (Oleg already deals with many of the hunters and trappers and even bandits).
And thus the question becomes, what do the bandits have to rob aside from poor Oleg's and each other?
Sean Halloran wrote:
Excellent idea! Thank you very much. I was sitting here trying to figure out how make up the BPs in a believable manner.
I'm still going through this path but I'm planning this campaign similarly - not so much low magic as much as rare magic. Magical items have a history and heritage rather than just being special tools that give combat bonuses.
In terms of BPs, I think I have an elegant and organic solution. The party sell/add their BPs as appropriate which if reduced due to a lack of saleable magical equipment can be made up by the DM getting this difference as their own build points to "spend" on the new kingdom.
The PCs may micromanage their new kingdom and orchestrate for everything to be just so. But in reality the world reacts to these plans in uncertain ways. As such, I'm planning to augment their towns and cities with extra buildings and sites that fit in with what the PCs have organised. In this way the PCs feel like they get a bonus. It's like a DM reward for good planning or roleplaying. For example, they may encourage businesses/enterprises/religions in Restov to move or expand into the frontier at no cost. Occasionally though, I can use it to throw the PCs a curveball planting things in a city that they may not really want. I suppose the trick is reacting appropriately to what the PCs are organising and keeping it fun.
Anyway, I'm waiting for the complete path before I start things up so I'm going to have plenty of time to work things out. I'll keep track of this thread and offer any other ideas that I have when setting this campaign up.
Venturing towards the Lair of the Lizard King in the terrible swamps of the Mistmarsh, Freedom trips over a backpack belonging to a young cleric from Blackwall Keep and the diary the backpack contained. Apparently he was part of a group breaking ranks in a desperate bid to save Marzena - wizardess of the keep and prisoner of the Lizardfolk horde. Sergeant Bunnuch, leader of this rebel group harangued the young cleric and two other soldiers into the enterprise even though it was against the strict orders of Captain Vancil, leader of the Keep.
From the diary it would seem the group died from some strange worm carrying creature of the swamp. The last entry shows the young cleric's mind quickly diminishing as the worm in his system begins to finish its grizzly work. The group was warned by the diary entry. However nothing would prepare them for the Favored Spawn of Kyuss that Sergeant Bunnuch had become.
Four of the party fled in terror as the hideous creature attacked their campsite on the dead of midnight. With only the scout and paladin standing firm, they were quickly overwhelmed, any chance of escape cut short by the worms riddling their bodies. Upon their second rising, the rest of the group slaughtered their moving carcasses with deadly magic - their newfound courage too late.
Now, alone in the bitter mists of the swamp, the party timidly look around, all fearing the churning terror of the unkillable zombies and the terrible green worms infesting them. The name of the campaign has now become all too clear for our heroes.