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John Benbo's page

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8. RPG Superstar 2013 Dedicated Voter, 2014 Star Voter, 2015 Dedicated Voter. Pathfinder Society Member. 1,457 posts. 14 reviews. No lists. No wishlists.


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RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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#1 and 2 are my definitive favorites- after that, things get dicey and change on mood.
1. Beck/Mongolian Chop Squad
2. Angel Beats
3. Sword Art Online
4. Ghost in the Shell (any and all)
5. Cowboy Bebob
6. Samurai Champloo
7. Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn/UC
8. Knights of Sidonia
9. Log Horizon (season 1 only- season 2 was...ok)
10. Ghost Hunt (or is it Ghost Hunters)

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.
1. The Sacred Blacksmith
2. Chrome Shelled Regios
3. Air Gear

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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Thanks for the review! I'm taking notes for when we do the supplemental PDFs for our next region- Ina'oth.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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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.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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Only 10 bucks away from the $200 mark!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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Ninjas and robots working together! Mass hysteria!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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My cats believe in the 15 minute adventuring day.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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I had the pleasure of working with Jason on a grimoire he wrote for Shadows over Vathak. He did a phenomenal job and Paizo is lucky to have him. Congrats, Jason!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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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.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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Shadows over Vathak is a Lovecraftian survival horror campaign setting that is now available as Pay What You Want.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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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.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

4 people marked this as a favorite.

161). Refuse to call any NPCs by their actual names but instead refer to NPCs with names culled from pop culture and fantasy/sci-fi literature and movies. Said NPCs don't seem to mind and in fact respond to "Gandalf" and "Spock."

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015 aka John Benbo

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Jeff Heikkinen wrote:
Chris Shaeffer wrote:

I really don't know how well this round is going to go for me. I'm worried! :|

But hey, let's remember: the worst case scenario for this round is that we lose now and enter again next year older and wiser. Right? :)

Actually, I kind of feel like the worst-case scenario is making the top 8 but not the top 4, because then you don't win but you can't enter again either.

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!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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If you (or anyone else) is interested- Shadows over Vathak is now being offered as a Pay What You Want. The setting is a Lovecraftian Survival horror mash-up.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015 aka John Benbo

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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.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015 aka John Benbo

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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!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015 aka John Benbo

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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.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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The first Shadows over Vathak module, Silhouette of a Shadow, is now availabe here at the Paizo store-

Silhouette of a Shadow

or RPGNow-

Silhouette of a Shadow

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.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015 aka John Benbo

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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.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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In the past, people have used IndieGoGo to fund going to a convention- usually getting 3PPs to donate some PDFs as a "reward." Might be something to consider for GenCon in the future.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015 aka John Benbo

5 people marked this as a favorite.

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.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I don't always get a 5 star and seal of approval rating from Endzeitgeist but when I do...I call my mother and tell her.

But seriously, it's a great service that Endzeitgeist does for the 3PP community.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Thanks again for all the reviews! Endzeitgeist.com is one of the first sites I check when I get up in the morning so I can keep abreast of what products are out there in the 3PP community.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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Yes, I am! Thanks again for the review. I'm glad to wrap up the settlements of the Lonely Coast with a bang!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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Thanks, again for the review. I particularly like the "glorious author" bit!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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Quote:
I have… seen things you people wouldn't believe… Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those… moments… will be lost in time, like [small cough] tears… in... rain. Time… to die…

I <3 you, Blade Runner.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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LMPjr007 wrote:
dmchucky69 wrote:

What a simply horrible question.

I can't pick just 4; too hard.

OK here is an add-on question for you then, Who are the best 3PP adventure writers?

Creighton Broadhurst.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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This was my first time at PaizoCon and despite spend 4 hours on the tarmac in Boston before a 6 hour flight, I had a great time. I've heard how it's much "bigger" now but it still felt like it had a very intimate feel to it where you could actually engage the Paizo employees in a real conversation vs. the frentic pace of GenCon with its mobs of people (still a great con, though). I'm definitely looking forward to future PaizoCons and hanging out again with all the wonderful people I met there. Great job, everyone!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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Over the weekend, my father gave me my great grandfather's sword from his time in the Coast Guard. Maybe I'll keep it in my BMW just in case...mine's a gun metal grey color so it could easily be mistaken for some sort of rock troll. And one of my players does frequently run around in armor at local events...

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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Mike Welham wrote:
I hope it wasn't my map that sent the last cartographer off screaming.

The one I did for Wolverton was pretty intense. My hand was so cramped doing all those little buildings that I had to apply multiple cold cans of beer compresses to it afterwards.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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3/15- Today over at Shadows over Vathak, I discuss how to use one of my favorite movies, "13th Warrior," as both inspiration in depicting the evil bhriota and as an adventure.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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Good luck, Sean. I'm glad I got to meet you at GenCon last year and I was surprised that you remembered who I was!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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Hi, this is John Bennett. I've recently taken over Lead Design duties for Fat Goblin Games's Shadows over Vathak campaign line. Rick Hershey and I have a lot of cool products planned for the year. Therefore, if you have a Facebook account, I encourage you to like our Facebook page Shadows over Vathak to get all the latest updates on upcoming products and other information regarding Shadows over Vathak. On Wednesdays, I plan to discuss upcoming products and on Saturdays, I'll be posting different books/movies, etc. that provide excellent inspiration for a Vathak campaign. You can click on my profile here to see some of the work I've done for other 3PP companies or visit my personal website to learn more about me and resume. I hope you join us!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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You can hear Endzeitgeist talk about It Came From the Stars in his very words in this podcast! The RPG Review Room. Thanks, Endzeitgeist!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015 aka John Benbo

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I keep tellling myself that I won't have as much time this year to devote to voting as I did last year, but I think I'm forgetting how addictive it was.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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Thanks for all the reviews...and your website. I check that daily now, not just for reviews, but also to see what's out there and what other people are doing. It's very convenient! Looking forward to next year and a review of "Against the Cult of the Bat God," my first foray into adventure writing. Happy holidays!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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Congrats, Jeff! And also, congrats to fellow Raging Swanners- Eric Hindley and Mike Welham for making the top 5.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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Congrats, everyone!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015 aka John Benbo

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Good luck to all who enter!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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And booked...this will be my first PaizoCon!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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I hope people find my modest contribution- Project Outlining helpful. While I've only been freelancing 2 1/2 years, I've done a lot of other writing and for me, personally, a solid outline is usually the difference between completing a project and frustration that ultimately leads to abandoning it. Plus, getting into the habit of doing outlines will help you in whatever field you write in (as hundreds of pages of graduate papers I had to write can attest to).

What would be really awesome is a mobi version so I can keep it on my Kindle along with my Kobold Press game design books.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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Oh joy of joys! Abita Turbo Dog has finally made its way to NH. Picked up a six pack of it during my dinner break. Also grabbed the Ommegang (sp?) Game of Thrones beer- Take the Black Stout. Finally picked up a beer called "Peeper" from the Maine Brewing Co.. A coworker of mine is raving about it. Can't wait to get home tonight.

Recently had Goose Island's Sixth Day, described as a festive brown ale. It's ok, a little heavy, but it's at 8.3% percent.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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Finally got my review up! Great job on this one. One thing I didn't mention is that I listened to the new Black Sabbath album, Thirteen, a lot while reading this as the music accompanied the book very well.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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Just also wanted to point out that Raging Swan has been putting out articles, one or two a week, for a few months now, so there's quite a few of them to check out, covering all kinds of topics- gamemastering, freelancing, and publishing. Lots of excellent advice!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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Congrats!

The Village Backdrops book is quite cool. Not only do you get 12 unique villages, but included are rules and charts to help you create your own village plus a short section on incorporating the 12 villages into the kingdom building rules found in Ultimate Campaign. Though, I expect that my PCs will probably just bulldoze Thornhill (now located in the north of the Hooktongue Slough).

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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Nice, now I want to paw through my old (and flattened) Ravenloft box set for Halloween. Just got a copy of Rule of Fear in the mail today in preparation to running Carrion Crown when my Kingmaker campaign wraps up next year.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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Awesome review, Endzeitgeist, thank you! And thank you to everyone else who has reviewed this or commented here. Congrats to Scott and my fellow designers on such positive feedback so far. During RPG Superstar 2011, my round 4 entry, Apep's Head, got a lot of negative feedback for mixing sci-fi with fantasy. I hadn't really ever talked to other gamers outside of my circle of friends so that opinion really took me by surprise. The success of this project, how much people are enjoying it, helps to make me feel vindicated :).

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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That is pretty wild! I've been running Kingmaker augmented with a lot of Raging Swan stuff but I'm not actually that familiar with the downtime rules yet. My players, however, are almost at a point where they'll be done adventuring for a bit and settling back down with the kingdom building/downtime rules. I bought all my players a copy of Ultimate Campaign so that they could learn the rules and teach me instead of the other way around (for once!).

I know Creighton at one point was musing about a web supplement, so perhaps if there is enough demand for one we could do a supplemental appendix. First, though, I have a much bigger project for Raging Swan to finish.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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When I saw the Living Monolith, I knew I had to use it. That thing was brutal! I think my players had just a little more difficulty with that than the Mire Brute.

Battle Report

Spoiler:
The problem was the fire cleric kept rolling low on his checks to overcome its SR, finally having to toss his flaming scimitar to the ranger while he and the oracle just channeled like crazy. It came down to the wire- either the PCs were going to kill it that round or they were in trouble (the oracle was already in its stomach). A low rolled negative energy channel followed by a low damage power attack/vital strike brought it down to 2 hit points. The grappled ranger could only attack with his short sword, inflicting 1 point of damage. With 1 hit point left, the final PC to act, the fire cleric, finally rolled high enough on his SR check to kill it with a burning hands.

In short, I love my TOH monsters!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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Ran Pett's adventure a couple of weeks ago. For an adventure called "Sorrow", we sure laughed a lot. A great time was had by all and the gnome alchemist almost made it through the "dance" during the feast (he did better than the two PC barbarians)!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

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terraleon wrote:

John-- Sorrow is an excellent prelude to Courts of the Shadowfey, and the Status benefits in Sorrow were specifically modified in consideration of Courts.

You're welcome. ;)

-Ben.

Thanks, I'll definitely have to keep the status's in mind, then! And Ben, it was nice finally meeting you in person at Gen Con after the Kobold freelancing seminar.

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