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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. 1,418 posts. 14 reviews. No lists. No wishlists.


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RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

4 people marked this as a favorite.

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 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015 aka John Benbo

This cinematic encounters work great for movies but are much harder to pull of in RPGs (as my own R4 entry can attest to). The crane is a neat addition but I worry that 7th level PCs will rely on their own class abilities (especially the spells they have access to at that point) to save the day.

The map is excellent but the overall location when compared to some of the other entries is not that exciting.

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

Not much else to say besides this is an excellent encounter- cool location, your monster choice is tightly woven into the encounter, and some fun stuff going on as the players try to get through this area.

Love the idea of the dead purple worm but agree with making it twitch a little just to scare the players.

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

The opening paragraph got me very excited for this location- strange crystals, warping time and space, and eyes peering out from alien dimensions. However, afterwards, there is a long backstory not quite grabbing my attention. When I get to the actual encounter, there are some neat ideas there (slip crystals) but ultimately it's "a player falls into a pit to be eaten by the geomaw" scenario. Where's that city in amber and those other dimensions?

With the word count, I realize you can't get to all those cool things you mentioned in your opening paragraph, but I feel like too much word count was spent on the backstory and not enough on the encounter where you could have fleshed out one or two of the ideas.

Great idea but needs tighter execution.

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

There's a lot going on here so I applaud you for trying to create an interesting, dynamic encounter. Unfortunately, there are some missteps in the design that hurt it as the judges pointed out. I think the focus being on the tentamort and not the wimblewyrms is a mistake. My players would be focused on saving themselves first before worrying about trapped wimblewyrms and slavers. I'm also concerned that if the PCs do go rushing in to help and trigger the trap, they will think the whole thing is a ruse, turn around and walk away or fireball and forget the area.

The actual location isn't very exciting as compared to many of the others.

Again, I appreciate the big ideas here but this needs a second rewrite (and I say this as a former contestant that ran into similiar problems in my own R4 entry).

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

This is definitely a cool and twisted location- I really like the idea of the planters. The traps that go with them is an also an excellent idea but it seems a little weird to me to have a CR 1 trap and a CR 10 monster encounter. I think you could have upped the lethality of the trap.

The map is pretty good but I'm unclear as to what those different colored areas are (the yellow, blue, brown colored portions of the map). Is that representing the gardens below?

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

Love the map and the inclusion of one of my favorite races- duergar.

I agree with the other comments that I don't like the idea of all the duergar fleeing at the sight of adventurers.

The duergar feel more like the center of this encounter than the geomaw.

Overall, I think there are some great ideas here but some missed opportunities as well. Why not use the deeplit monster? Maybe Droskar gets a little ticked off and some deeplits start bursting out of the magma or fire?

Still, you get one of my two votes based on your body of work because I want to see your adventure pitch.

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

I like that the crystals have an environmental effect on encounter. Also, I have a soft spot for trogs so I'm glad to see them get some love. I do like the idea of the trog holed up Rambo style but the trap may have been better served tying into the stronger geomaw encounter (perhaps on the altar?).

The map is very clean and easy to read.

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

I like the interactive environment with the acid tubers.

Being able to get information from the captives during the fight is a cool idea. For my group, I'd probably have to play it up a bit as they would be more likely to kill all the monsters first and then worry about the captives (if they didn't "accidently" set them on fire first).

Good work on this!

Edit: Forgot to mention- there's a couple of uses of the word "that" which is a pet peeve of mine. You can usually find ways to expand "that" and save on word count.

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

Scott LaBarge wrote:

DQ, I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading your very thoughtful and delicate reply. Everything you said made a lot of sense. Especially about competition vs. collaboration — the competition is fun, but it would be a totally different kind of fun to build something collaboratively with a crew like this!

Also, for all that the competition can indeed be isolating, it's also given me an opportunity to have some great exchanges with other contestants, present and past, whom I might not otherwise have gotten to know at all. You people are even making me toy with the idea of a visit to PaizoCon (though don't tell my wife!)

Speaking about competition vs. collaboration- you may be competing now, but if you do decide to pursue a freelancing career, more than likely you will be working with your fellow competitors at some point on a project together or for the same 3PP. This competition is a good place to network and build connections.

Also, attending PaizoCon is an excellent idea if you are considering pursuing freelance work.

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

Scott LaBarge wrote:

I'm not sure why, but I'm finding this wait harder. Jacob said something in one of his Sword for Hire blog posts about being kept awake at night by RPGSS-related thoughts, and I've definitely been feeling that way much more this round than before. This obsession is much more unpleasant when there's nothing happening on the messageboards, too.

Question for successful freelancers out there, especially ones who have been Superstar contestants: It isn't like this all the time for a freelancer, is it? Do you walk around obsessing about game design constantly? Or is the dynamic of the competition a unique thing? I'm kind of appalled with how much head space this whole business is taking up.

I wouldn't say I "obsess" over it, but part of my design process is to work ideas out in my head (and then sometimes sketch them out in a notebook). When I sit down to actually write, I want to be able to type away instead of trying to come up with ideas at the computer. Also, I usually have multiple projects I'm working on concurrently, each of which require their own brainstorming sessions.

Ok, so maybe I do "obsess"...but it doesn't keep me up at night :).

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

3 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

While out on a business trip, found a bar that had a good selection of beers. Found myself ordering some pints of "Hoptical Illusion" by Blue Point Brewery- a rather flavorful IPA. Hoppy but without being overpowering or too bitter- very drinkable.

Recently picked up a six pack of cans- a rye pale ale by 603 Brewery here in NH (603 is NH's area code). Pretty good- I would drink it again but wouldn't necessary go out of my way to drink it. Widmer Bros. Alchemy Ale is still my go to pale ale.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

Now, as far as the question, I recall at some point that Johnny Blaze showed up in Ghost Rider and tried to kill him. Something happened and Ghost Rider's hellfire infused Johnny's shotgun, allowing it to shoot hellfire. They had a brief team-up comic Spirits of Vengeance.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

I remember as a little kid getting Ghost Rider #1 (Danny Ketch) version at the local drugstore when it came out. My dad had visitations on Friday nights and would let me pick out a comic while my brother was at his dance lessons. Still have that issue.

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

Congrats!

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

Really enjoying the 2nd season of Psycho-Pass.

Spoiler:
I watched season 1 a few months ago and enjoyed it but so far I like this 2nd season a lot better. The metaplot is made apparent almost right from the start and so far has a lot of cool twists and turns. There seems to be less focus on character backstories (since we know the main characters already) which means more time devoted to the story. Akane gets to be front and center and she's definitely changed after her experiences in season 1.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

2 people marked this as a favorite.

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

Freehold DM wrote:
ROBOT GIRLS Z+ AND MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM THE ORIGIN WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

So hoping that Origins hits the Sony Playstation for rental like Unicorn did.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

Blayde MacRonan wrote:

Spring Lineup for 2015.

Actually intrigued by The Heroic Legend of Arslan... The OVAs were plagued by budget concerns so that the story never finished playing out, so I'm hoping we'll get that with the series.

And the return of the DigiDestined puts a smile on my face as well...

A new season of Knights of Sidonia already? So, so, so happy...

Almost finished with my annual rewatching of Angel Beats. I think its a contender for my all-time favorite anime.

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

Without some sort of key, I'm not sure what I'm looking at besides the ship.There's some markings on the grey blocks that could be windows or doors maybe? Unfortunately, this map has an interesting premise but isn't clear enough to bring that premise to life.

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

1 person marked this as a favorite.

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

This map took me a little while to get into. I like the buildings, but the wide empty space caused me to miss the escape points which are on the edges.

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

I'm thinking this is some sort of bandit hideouts. The map has some cool bits- ziplines, garbage, a half-submerged boat, etc.. Like others have noted, the details needed to be taken a little further and fleshed out more.

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

This is definitely an ambitious map to take on. I agree with the comments about making each story its own map- as it is, I would find this somewhat difficult to use at the table.

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

I like the ruined towers and the map for this was nicely done. It's definitely something I could pull and populate quickly.

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

Well-detailed and interesting, I also like how you (unlike a few of the other maps) actually drew in the thickness of the walls.

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

The side views definitely helped me understand the map with its elevation. Overall, I think the map is well-done and I like the inclusion of secret library. I could use myself using this map.

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

I think its cool that you tried to do a mini-dungeon. My interpretation is that you need to find all the different runes to break down the barrier by the entrance (but why is it an "earth barrier", I'm thinking it would be magic or something). All the square and rectangular rooms detract from the dungeon (though it does make it easy to put together with my Dwarven Forge stuff). I'd like it if the dungeon had some rooms and flesh out the details of what is in the rooms. I like what you went for but I need more interesting rooms and details.

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

I have a lot of questions about this. What are the blue boxes vs. the red boxes? Buildings? If so, the place appears pretty unpopulated. Also, what's so special about Zebub's Fine Dining vs. the unlabeled pentagram? I see a pentagram and I want to know more! I need more detail and some interesting locations to get me excited about this.

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

Dinosaurs, cool! This is a map that would definitely make for a unique encounter. I would have liked to know what's haunting it (haunts, ghost dinosaurs, awakened dinosaur barbarian vampires)?

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

There's a good germ of an idea here- some sort of tomb in a sewer. However, whose tomb? What do the statues look like (even if notated as "demon statues" would give me an idea)? Same with the sacrophagus- I know nothing else about it to make me excited to use this as is.

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

This map isn't particularly clear to me. It does have some interesting locations- "Hall of the Destroyer"? Now that sounds cool! A broader map like this isn't easy to do, and I would need some more interesting locations to make it rise above the other maps in this competition.

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

I like hex maps but where this fails short for me is there isn't a whole lot I see here that makes me want to use this location. For example, "ancient temple" isn't particularly evocative. "Temple of the Dreaming One" or something makes me more excited and gives the map some flavor.

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

This map is very nice looking and I would pay money for it if it was part of a map pack. However, like a few other maps, there is no hook, nothing that draws me in and makes me want to run an encounter here.

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

A usable map but lacking the hook necessary for this competition. Not sure what the abbey is built from but the walls seem very thin.

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

I applaud you for doing a hex map (I'm a fan of Frog God Games's "Hex Crawl Classics" line). I think not providing a key for the terrain type was a big misstep here.

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

I do appreciate that I could probably replicate this map with my Dwarven Forge stuff, but unfortunately, what is there to distinguish this map from any other inn map? This map needs an interesting hook.

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

An interesting and cool concept (ghouls hit a soft spot) but the map just seems too busy for me. I'm not sure if the claw-like corridors are supposed to represent something, but this would be hard for me to draw on a battlemap. Also, I haven't ever had any fun as a GM or player running encounters in narrow corridors. Characters with darkvision or an adequate light source aren't going to be fooled by many of the shorter tunnels (which I'm assuming or intended to lead players astray).

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

I'm assuming this temple is flooded, but I'm not sure. I'd like more details regarding the rooms. As it is, I don't think there's enough here to tell me what kind of place this. The central chamber is pretty neat, though.

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

I like this map. Besides being clean and easy to read, there's a lot of nice little locations for different encounters. Players have plenty of options on how and where to explore. I could easily grab this, populate it and be ready for a game session in about 30 minutes.

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

I like what you were going for here- a flooded town can be a neat idea for a location. Beyond that idea, there, unfortunately, isn't much going on here. The buildings are rather blocky and rather typical. Make the pirates' den built atop a half-submerged ruins of some elder race with strange crystal tubes connecting them and it suddenly becomes a lot more exotic with adventure potential.

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

The lava is definitely a cool idea, I just wish there were more interesting things, features, or something else going on beside the lava flow. Still, it's a contender.

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

This is a contender for me. While I'm not that excited by a dwarven stronghold, the map is well drawn, clear, and allows for PC exploration. This is definitely a map that I could quickly grab and populate with my own encounters so it has very high useability for me.

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

Some interesting ideas here that I like- the camp, the ruins of the ship, and the abyssal rift. However, the layout of the temple doesn't really fire up my imagination- it is linear and doesn't give the players any real options on how to explore it.

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

I keep coming back to this one, so that must be a good thing. It's a bit different than the others (both in theme and presentation) which I like.

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

A bit of a missed opportunity on this one. While the map is clear, it doesn't spark the imagination. A cyclops funeral ship should be more exotic and fantastic. Then set it on fire while a kraken is attacking it.

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

I'm on the fence with this one but names like "Corpse Wall" and "Well of the Dying God" spark my interest. There's a lot here to fire my imagination of a sword&sorcery pulp location.

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

I think this one is the best of the town maps this round. I've done plenty of settlement map turnovers so I know its difficult to make an interesting and flavorful settlement (plus, I personally hate drawing all those buildings). This map is nice, clear, and well-labelled so I can get a sense of the town. Nice work!

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