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8 years old, AD&D. Played a thief- a staircase trap triggered, turning into a slide that sent me right at a stone golem. I think it was a short session...but it was the Monster Manual that got me hooked.
Shortly after I snagged both a Player's Handbook and Monster Manual, 2nd edition came out, invalidating my first long running character- a half-orc fighter named Beorn. 10 year old nerd rage ensued!
Consider me totally stoked for more Vathak after this gem!
I completed writing the Ina'oth GM's Guide in December- so it's currently at the layout/art stage. I'm pretty excited for that to come out.
I also went back and did a tighter edit of some of the Colonies projects and added some new material for a Colonies compilation. Rick wants to do new art for that- also in editing/layout.
And finally, there's the new SoV Player's Guide- it's going to be a big, gorgeous looking book.
Finished watching Shirobako on Crunchyroll- an anime about making anime. Really enjoyed it- fun and light and a pretty interesting insight into all the work that goes into making anime. Definitely recommend it if you like slice of life stuff. Started binge watching the available shows ofShowa Genroku Rakugo Shinju- another slice of life about rakugo also playing on Crunchyroll. Very good as well.
No one's talking about the last episode of Gate?
I quite enjoyed the battle with the dragon. The disposable elves getting eaten and breathed on, the wizard using magic to impale it with swords, and then blowing the whole thing up with C4!- reminded me a bit of Kingmaker campaign since introducing the Technology Guide.
Also, Crunchyroll guest passes (and watch Erased!)
There's a certain Rise of the Runelord mini- forget the name (a roguish human male dualwielding a rapier and dagger) that Snaps just loves to grab and carry off with her. Luckily, he is fairly common in the set.
Snaps has also trained my gaming group to feed her treats. She's shy, so the vet recommended giving her treats when strangers came over. Well, my friends come over every other week and always sit in the same place. Since Phil was closest to the treats, I had him give them to her. Now, when they show up, she comes over multiple times for treats and, of course, gets them. She does let people pet her a little bit, so it's working.
Even though my Kingmaker campaign is on the last AP volume, yeah, I'm going to have to throw one some templates or class levels on this monster and send a bunch of them after the PCs. Love the imagery and the feel of this one- kind of like a lower-CR wendigo (a nice monster but at its CR, more than likely won't get as used as a hollow one). Nice job!
How come the participants from the Top 8 who did not win are barred from competing the following year?
Petty Alchemy wrote:
I'd be interested in a "Where are they now" list of their design credits (both Paizo and 3PP).
A lot of designers, myself included, keep a list of products we designed on our Paizo profiles here for prospective employers. Plus links to websites and such. I typically don't include a product until its available for sale (as I like to include a hyperlink to it for anyone who wants to buy it).
Looks like Rightstuf is releasing Mobile Suite Gundam next on both BluRay and DVD (Turn A was only on DVD). I have to debate this one as I purchased a DVD copy of the whole collection a year ago for a lot less money. Doesn't look it it's adding anything additional.
I hope Zeta is next.
How come the participants from the Top 8 who did not win are barred from competing the following year?
Personally, I'm not upset about being in the Top 8 and not competing- I've been freelancing consistently since my Top 8 finish in 2011 including currently serving as the line developer for the Shadows over Vathak campaign setting published by Fat Goblin Games and design work for Paizo in the last three hardcovers starting with Occult Adventures. I wouldn't compete even if I could because I have too many paying projects to keep me busy.
I don't say that to brag but to illustrate a point (forgive me as I climb up on my soapbox here)- making the Top 8 is exactly what started my freelance career. Not just opening doors but I didn't even know that I wanted to freelance until I entered the contest and had a lot of fun.
I've written before my advice for those trying to break in. Even as a Top 8, I had to be very proactive in approaching companies including flying out to PaizoCon (which is crazy for an introverted hermit like me). I'll do a brief recap here-
1. Find a company whose products you enjoy/use. Write reviews and engage the publisher on forums (not just here but Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Check their website for to see if they accept freelance submissions (some may even hold contests like Raging Swan does occassionally).
2. Attend conventions frequented by the publishers- for Pathfinder, I recommend PaizoCon and then GenCon. Putting a face to a name is a big help. That's how I got work with Paizo. Even this year at GenCon, I stopped by and talked to Kyoudai Games (Thunderscape), Sasquatch Studios (Primeval Thule), and TPK Games. Make sure you have a business card and follow up afterwards.
3. Have some written material ready- blogs, previous work, any sort of writing/rules crunch sample. People will ask for one.
If you're serious about freelancing and you have the time to do it, with a little bit of determination, you can get published, regardless of whether your Top 8 or Top 100. (climbs down for soap box).
Too long, didn't read?- Don't cry too much for John Bennett, he's doing ok and if you have any questions about breaking into freelancing or the freelance life, just PM him, he'd be happy to give you pointers.
Brandon Hodge wrote:
It was pleasure working with Brandon and the rest of the team on this. For me, personally, it was kind of like getting a crash course in Occultism 101 since I dug deeper into the topic than I ever had before. Many tomes were purchased for research (as well as the whole Akira manga, for me) to both get the right feel for the topic and inspiration. I particularly enjoyed a lot of the bold choices Paizo made in this book- skill unlocks, new subsystems, and some very meaty archetypes. I think you'll see the passion people had on this project really come through.
8 episodes in, but so far, I'm enjoying Turn A Gundam. It feels very different than any other Gundam I've seen with its almost War of the Worlds vibe. Plus, Loran seems to be the most pyschologically well adjusted main hero Gundam pilot of all the ones I've seen (teenage angst Amuro and Kamille and homicidal tendancies Heero and Setsuna).
Creighton Broadhurst wrote:
I feel my will already binding itself to your evil plans...I tweeted the Patreon campaign in the Twittersphere.
#1 and 2 are my definitive favorites- after that, things get dicey and change on mood.
Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam probably would be up there but I haven't seen the last 10 episodes.
Guilty pleasures because I enjoy them immensely for whatever reason except they both kind of end feeling very unresolved.
I really wanted the Gundam Unicorn OVAs on blu-ray but they are ridiculously expensive (episode 7 is listed for over $200 bucks on Amazon). I bought the DVDs instead (a little over $70 for the whole series) and the picture quality is amazing.
Rightstuf is advertising a preorder of Turn-A Gundam. Has anyone seen this and have an opinion on it? My only knowledge of it is from the Mobile Suit Gundam Dynasty game.
I have Hell Girl in my Crunchyroll queue. I'll have to watch that soon. I'm binge watching Cowboy Bebob since I haven't seen it in awhile and I'm thinking about doing a SAO 1 and 2 marathon.
Tomorrow, I need to call Netflix and talk to them- I've just sent back the same Mobile Suit Zeta disc twice because it was cracked all the way through when I received it. This is on top of pretty much every other disc in the series so far coming to me obviously damaged. I've run into this problem with quite a few of the Sunrise Bandai discs (since they aren't in distribution anymore, figuring there's only so many copies and they can't be replaced) but a QC check would be nice before they shipped it off.
In my Kingmaker campaign, my players (rulers of a lawful good kingdom) needed to cause a distraction in the evil king's city in order to infiltrate the castle and kill him.
I incorporated the Technology Guide based on the evil king's background and the players had recently defeated groups of gearsmen armed with arc rifles.
Upon entering the city and making contact with the mafia-like merchants guild, I was asked by the players if the merchant guild would help them in exchange for the arc rifles.
My reply was, "You are asking the mafia if they want guns? Yes, yes they want guns."
And that's how the lawful good Kingdom of the Eternal Light got into the gun running business.
Jeff Heikkinen wrote:
I thought I would just speak about this as in a few weeks there will be four permanent 2015 Top 8s (as four of the Top 8 will move on).
Obviously, from my tag, I am a top 8- neither getting the module or scenario job or eligibility to repeat.
I've given advice elsewhere about how to break into freelancing but I'll quickly sum up my experience as a Top 8.
Placing in the Top 8 definitely gave me a sense of accomplishment and confidence to pursue freelance design work. Having never done any design work, being in the Top 8 served as my initial selling point to third party publishers (3PPs). In fact, when I pledged to a Kickstarter for Zombie Sky Press's It Came from the Stars, I was approached to contribute which shows that 3PPs do watch this contest. It also helped that I had recently done some design work.
If you want to work for Paizo, though, do not rest on your laurels. I didn't get my first Paizo job until I reached out to them, via attending PaizoCon, meeting the Paizo employees, and stating my interest in doing design work for them. I recommend that if you can attend PaizoCon, do so and bring a stack of business cards. Afterwards, follow up with an e-mail.
You might get lucky and Paizo and other 3PPs contact you out of the blue, but if you are seriously interested in doing design work, it is best to be proactive and approach the companies you wish to work for and establish a working relationship with them.
Summary- reaching out and networking after the contest will yield more design jobs than hoping companies contact you out of the blue regardless of how far you advance in RPG Superstar.
Now, I've been away for a week, so I have to read all your monsters!
I'm creating this thread so we can post our thoughts on the Round 2 maps and maps in general to help future contestants if Paizo decides to keep this component in further contests. My hope is to offer advice to help future contestants should this type of challenge appear again.
First, I have to say is that there were definitely more maps I liked than I had votes for, so excellent job 2015 contestants! Secondly, for me, maps aren't easy- I've done quite a few professionally to know this and I learned a lot from going through all the submissions.
As a voter, my criteria were
1. clearness and readability- could I understand the map.
2. story- was there a theme or hook that made the map interesting and made me want to use it.
3. usability- lastly, did you create a map that I could swipe for my home game? I own more gaming material than I can hope to run, but I've been known to take maps from published sources and tweak them for my own needs.
Breaking the maps into categories, here are some of my overall thoughts-
1. Mini-regional maps- the maps which detailed a small region were pretty difficult to get my vote this round (I had only one I voted for). However, I think a mini-regional map has great potential to get a story across. However, they need to be clear and list interesting locations that spark my imagination which I can flesh out later. Very "Old School Renaissance" which I appreciate but make sure that features are easy to read and offer interesting places for adventure.
2. Settlement maps- I've done a bunch of these myself and they aren't easy. When designing one, you need to make sure that the cartographer can easily determine what is he/she is looking at. A lot of the maps I've turned over professionally are often cleaned up and made nice looking by the cartographer and kept much of my detail. So it is important that they are well-detailed, defined, and look interesting. Also, the real important locations need to be labelled as these are the places players will be going to. Don't label half of them and leave us guessing as to the others. Out of my 8 votes, I only voted for two of these type.
3. Locations- I love the direction that Paizo has taken with many of their "Unleashed" Campaign Setting books- offering up mini-dungeons centered around a particular creature or NPC. If your doing a map like this, it is important to have enough details for the GM to use it. You are working on a smaller scale here and the details are important to help me, a GM without a lot of extra time, to run it. Also, it should not be something that I could come up with in 5 minutes with a piece of graph paper. Interesting structures and overall shape that fire the imagination help without making it too confusing to read or reproduce. Location maps received the rest of my votes (5) but the ones I voted for had a good story hook.
Noncontestants, please feel free to post your own thoughts.
Congrats, everyone! I hope that no matter how far you end up advancing, you find this contest a positive experience. As a long time gamer, first time designer, it changed my life for the better and was the start of a lot of great opportunities in freelance game design. Hopefully, you'll get bit by the design bug like I did!
My yearly advice to those who want to pursue freelancing-
1. Remember that while particapating in Superstar is great, it isn't the only way to break into freelancing.
2. Keep an eye out on the "Compatible Products from Other Publishers" forum on this board for contests and open calls from other 3rd Party Publishers (3PP). 3PPs are a good way to get your foot in the door and start building a resume.
3. Review the various Pathfinder 3PPs out there and find one who publishes the type of products you are interested in writing. Visit their website regularly/like them on Facebook (if they have a Facebook page) so you can keep up on any news they might have about contests/open calls. Also, see if they have a submission page and how open they are to working with freelancers.
4. Have material ready to show a publisher- a good way to do this is have a blog showing off gaming content you have created. I can't stress this enough. Last Fall, I reviewed prospective freelancers for an open call at Fat Goblin Games- some people were previous Superstar contestants, some were previously published, and some had blogs showcasing their work. All were considered. The only people that were immediately passed on had no writing samples for me to preview.
5. Engage in dialogue with publishers. Review their products- what did you like, what did you not like, what kind of material would you have liked to have seen in the product. It might turn out that you and a particular publisher have similar tastes and might work well together.
I have worked with plenty of fellow freelancers who have never gone through Superstar so I hope this advice helps.
The first Shadows over Vathak module, Silhouette of a Shadow, is now availabe here at the Paizo store-
Silhouette of a Shadow is a 1st level adventure module set in the Colonies region in Shadows over Vathak. The PCs are tasked with finding a missing person who may be in over his head with a strange and mysterious cult whose designs threaten all of Vathak. You can read more about it here at the Fat Goblin Games website.
Though not necessary to run the adventure, Silhouette of a Shadow is compatible with both the Colonies Player's Guide and the Colonies GM's Guide- both availabe here at Paizo or in print over at RPGNow.
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
I will say that if someone hit top 8 in any year, even if it is the end of entering Superstar it should just be the BEGINNING of working on a freelance career, if that's what is desired. Between Wayfinder, 3pp, blogs, and the opportunity to post things in the forums for fan feedback there are tons of ways to move forward once you have proof you're a cut above the pack, even if you aren't getting picked for Paizo projects yet. :)
Wow, that is literally my freelancing life story right there. Freelancing never even occurred to me until my run in Superstar.
However, as a Top 8, I still get that e-mail reminding me to submit my item, you know, just to rub it in a little... :)
Anyway, I encourage anyone eligible to enter. I look forward to voting again this year.
I have very little artistic skill but I frequently have to do map turnovers as a freelancer. Besides the obvious "practice makes perfect" advice, I highly recommend spending some time scouring websites that offer cartography advice. For example- Jonathan Roberts's website, Fantastic Maps is full of excellent tips that I've used to improve my mapmaking skills.