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Anthony Adam wrote:
The difference in meaning you describe doesn't not make sense, if that makes sense :)
I just meant to point out that both are similarly passive in style (even the verb 'resembles' which is a more dynamic alternative, falls into the same trap, in my opinion, of describing what something is like rather than saying more directly what it is - which is the problem for both seem and appear).
Anthony Adam wrote:
In some ways I think this type of feedback would be far more useful for those who didn't make the top 32.
As it is, I'm not sure what this level of detailed feedback for those who were successful will ultimately achieve - it may be nice to point out general aspects of writing that can be applied to future rounds, but it also might bias voters against some designers who you've given low scores (particularly in the later rounds, when a designer's early work might be taken into account to help decide between the very top entries). I could be wrong here though, and if the top 32 welcome the feedback, then certainly carry on.
I do hope that you'll update your dictionary before you score people's spelling. It's one thing to maintain consistency across reviews, but if the people you're reviewing are consistent with a different standard (i.e., standard English instead of the particulars of the dictionary you choose), then you're doing them a disservice, and you should adapt to their standard, rather than encouraging them (via negative feedback) to adapt to a standard that they don't know and therefore can't meet.
If it were me, I would take more care as well with what I consider passive. To give one example (from Hell-shod boots) - 'seem to be' is not grammatically passive (in fact, it cannot be made passive in English), and is equivalent in structure (and very nearly in meaning) to 'appear to be' which is also not passive (and also can't be made passive). I was a bit confused by your comment that 'seem to be' would be better if replaced by 'appear to be' - they both have the same problem of saying what the item is like, rather than what it is (and are both therefore kind of weak "passive" writing, even if neither can be grammatically passive).
That's just my opinion, and in any case your effort and enthusiasm are certainly inspiring.
First, a belated (but no less deserved) congratulations to the entire top 32!
My personal favorites this time around were:
Quicksand Cloak (seriously seriously awesome)
Cloudwrangler's Gloves (core idea is awesome, too limited?)
Shattered Mirror of the Insect Queen (very creative and cinematic - and hey, it looked great in army of darkness)
Verdant Crown of Oak and Iron (very cool, tight item)
Many-Layered Veil (illusions need more love, and this is a cool way to mess with someone)
Template Fu wrote:
I'm sure that everyone appreciates the tremendous amount of effort you're putting into providing feedback, but it strikes me as unfair and somewhat ridiculous to ding an entry for spelling a word correctly. Your word processor should have an 'add word to dictionary' option, which you could use if you're going to rely on that dictionary as an authority.
(This is likely a side point that it would be best not to derail this thread with, but I would also hesitate to rely on a grammar checker in a word processor to identify passives correctly - I can't think of one that actually does that job accurately - but with an appropriately large grain of salt one might occasionally serve to identify weak or awkward writing, even if for the wrong reason)
Thomas LeBlanc wrote:
Overall I agree that the first few sentences are am improvement over Anthony's latest (though the item has also been vastly improved in that version already!).
Just a brief comment on the bolded sentence. Be particularly careful with nonfinite verb forms (participles like grasping, tugging). In your sentence the subject of these verbs is not expressed - the problem is that the unexpressed subject of those verbs is interpreted (by default) as the main clause subject - 'the spider'.
So it reads as if the spider is grasping and tugging its own body to free itself from the hoop, and it takes some effort to recognize that the intended meaning is that the user is doing the grasping and tugging.
I would rewrite that sentence more simply as:
Anthony Adam wrote:
Just FYI, "This barometer is used..." is also a passive sentence. 'can' is a modal verb, which, while not terribly dynamic or certain, has nothing to do with passive voice. So while removing it may help punch up a sentence, you're not technically removing the passive or making it active.
If you're using 'passive' in the non-technical sense of 'weak' or 'not exciting' then sure, removing 'can' certainly helps, but consider whether or not the active voice is a better choice for this particular sentence (it may or may not be - sometimes passive voice is the better choice).
more explanation/discussion here:
Steve Miller wrote:
I don't mean to sidetrack things (and I haven't gone through your writing in detail), but this is exactly why I rail against writing advice that emphasizes things like "avoid passive" or "avoid to be".
The verb 'to be' is a useful verb - it exists for a reason. Sure, it shouldn't be overused, and if used poorly does contribute to a feeling that writing is weak and not very exciting (which I think is really the issue that the judges want people to avoid). But if it's used well it won't even be noticed, whereas a sentence that awkwardly tries to avoid it stands out like a sore thumb.
I'm sorry that this issue might have tripped you up, but if you want to avoid avoiding them in the future, and instead master their use, I highly recommend this book:
(avoid Strunk and White - they'll tell you to avoid passives but don't identify them correctly themselves - it's like taking medical advice from a doctor who calls morphine an antibiotic)
This was my second favorite entry. I loved the gonzo nature of the human/animal hybrids, and I love pitting high level characters against Wizards.
What ultimately decided against it for me was the perception that there would be too many similar encounters, and too much sprawl in the middle, as the PCs tackle each of the returning Wizards. I think I'd be happier if Acts 2, 4, and 6 were somehow condensed.
I'm a little torn by the science fiction aspects of it. It seemed that you were including elements of relativistic space travel (the wizards haven't aged, while several generations of their descendants have come and gone), which is interesting is a fantasy setting, but somehow doesn't fully work for me.
I do like the invasion aspect of it, and do like the Event Horizon-esque feel to it.
But, I only had one vote, and unfortunately (based in part on prior work as well), I didn't vote for you. But if you win I won't be at all disappointed - this is really a deserving entry.
Edit: I agree too that the name needs to change - the form of the name is great, but the word 'Dustpawn' makes me feel like I have a speech impediment
This ultimately won my vote.
I was torn between this and Doom comes to Dustpawn, but I felt this adventure was a bit more doable for a module (I'll elaborate in the other thread).
I loved the old school feel of it. I'm not worried about the required changes. Based on your prior entries (particularly Eightfingers Tomb), I am confident that you'll make the changes and the final product will be just as good or better.
The death effect didn't bother me. As worded, it sounds like there is only a chance per hour that a PC would have to make a saving throw. So either the effect builds over time or it's random. It was hard to judge how long the PCs would stay in the area of the death effect, but if it's less than one hour, it seems that there is only a small possibility of character death, and the effect is reversible by Wish (not too expensive, if necessary), so I'm surprised people are reacting so strongly to it. It doesn't seem like that big a deal.
Edit: Also, I love the name - it really has a Conan feel to it.
A small number of my favorites -
Seth White wrote:
Yeah, he has really raised the feedback process to both a science and an art form* I think we're all lucky that he's willing to put in so much effort.
*not to be confused with the novel**
**I kid :)
Clark Peterson wrote:
Ah but I can guarantee you'll tell us eventually, and which is more plausible - that we finally broke you with our incessant questions and badgering, or that there was a plan already in place to announce the top four?
I think you don't have to be a supergenius to know it's the former. Bwahahaha.
Saint Trickery wrote:
Exactly what Saint Trickery said exactly what Phloid said.
Steve Miller – Brike Isle
I was really tempted to vote for Sam based on his previous entries, but couldn't justify not voting for what I felt were better entries in this round.
A few comments -
I loved the location idea. It's compelling and interesting, and begging for further investigation.
I like the map a lot, both the vertical view and the 2D floor plan. My initial impression was that the floor plan was similar to what I remember from the sample maps in the 1st edition DMG, and so maybe not as interesting in places as it could be, but it is so well done that I don't mind.
I'm having trouble with your first sentence - the first part "Collections of copper loops and glass tubes, these complex mechanisms" makes me think of something big (partly because it's plural), like in a mad scientist's lab. The second part "are strapped to the underside of one's wrist" makes me think of something much smaller.
maybe revise to something like:
"This complex but compact collection of copper coils and glass tubes is strapped to the underside of one's wrist." (I couldn't resist the alliteration, but don't recommend it!)
I'm sad to hear this. I bought the first 26 books as a subscriber, and had been hoping to pick up the rest - I guess just 7. (I was too broke to continue my subscription at the time, and I was a bit disgruntled by all the typos).
I'm definitely interested in whatever you have planned for the future - whether ebook or print book. Hopefully more of the footballs will be caught this time - but even if any new books are only as outstanding as the old ones, I'm happy to support the line.
Andrew Christian wrote:
To be fair, I don’t think his description was unclear at all. I think the term adjacent is very explicit when looking at Pathfinder game mechanics. To try and read more into it is either trying to justify why a judge may have made a snap judgment error in the mechanics of the item or an unclear understanding of how the rules in Pathfinder work.
Actually, re-reading it now given your comment I see how it might be interpreted as intended.
Just to be clear, I was not trying to interpret it uncharitably or unfairly, and it is certainly possible that I have an unclear understanding of the rules, which contributed to me missing the strict game-mechanic interpretation of 'adjacent' (though I'm certain this is not true of the judges). That said though, I do still think that if phrased more simply it might have been even clearer, and might have more clearly avoided this misinterpretation.
I do like the idea behind the item quite a bit, but I still don't think the mechanics or the presentation of the mechanics were fully there.
No problem. This is intended to be constructive :)
If you're going to dictate something like that I think you need to say it very explicitly - something like: "For the purposes of this item, all adjacent squares [or however you say that] are acceptable targets, regardless of light source or whether the target's shadow actually occupies the area." The assumption may avoid the need for new rules about shadows, but conversely since there aren't any such existing rules as far as I am aware (other than what I assume is the default for most people, which is that they work as in real life), without saying it really explicitly either the GM has to assume your intended meaning (which they may or may not realize), or has to make up their own (potentially very complex) interpretation.
You may also consider the case of overlapping shadows. What happens for a group of creatures standing close to each other, such that a given square may be an acceptable target for more than one creature. Are all of them pinned by a single spike? If so, it's a more powerful effect. If not, how do you choose which target is affected?
I think your sentence as written doesn't quite convey what you just described here. Your sentence specifies that the surface must be adjacent to the target, and surfaces can be pretty big. You say "like a 5-foot square of wall, floor, or ceiling" which doesn't really explicitly state an adjacent 5-foot square.
While I think I might get now how you intended the item to work, it is a hard sentence to write, particularly since there is a need to cover the case of airborne targets as well. I would rephrase it or revise the underlying concept. (it would be far simpler, for example, if you just say that shadows can only be pinned on a wall, ceiling or floor within 5 feet of the target. Then it doesn't matter how high the ceiling is or if the target is flying - it's much easier to say.
But, I think the mechanics are still overly complicated, and at least two things still need some thought.
First, it seems a bit weird that a creature can only be pinned from an adjacent square, but can then move up to 30 feet. If they can move that far while pinned, why can't they be pinned from that far away? This also makes the sentence about pinned creatures being pulled towards the spike less clear. Wouldn't a creature only be pulled towards the spike if they were farther away than their allotted distance? If they can't move that far beyond the spike, how would they get that far away in the first place? Also, if the ceiling could be 50 feet above a target, why couldn't a wall 50 feet away be used? If they are flying 1000 feet up, can they still be pinned from the ground?
I think you're also assuming that a creature's shadow will fill all of those adjacent squares. This is not the case (as the judges and I indicated). It depends on the direction of the light source. If the only light is from someone facing me, then my shadow will be behind me. So even if I had understood your sentence restricting the area of the shadow, it still requires a lot of work from the GM to determine which squares the shadow falls into based on the direction of the shadow.
For me the text you point to really doesn't do much at all to clarify the point - "surrounding" can be a very big or very small area.
Imagine how a shadow looks when light is directly overhead - it's a small pool directly at someone's feet. Now imagine the shadow when light is coming from the side and slightly above shoulder height. The shadow will stretch all the way across the floor and up the wall (assuming one is present), and will be larger the farther from the target it is.
In the first case, the spike will be very difficult to use. In the latter case, the spike could be used from 50 feet away or more with ease.
What if there are two or more light sources? Everyone in the room casts multiple shadows, in a variety of angles/lengths. Can any one of these shadow be pinned for a particular creature?
An easy strategy then is to surround the target with torches or magical lights (of any sort), adjust the lighting to move any one shadow to the Umbral spike wearer's feet, then use it. I think that's a very easy way to abuse this item (though it would reduce the GM's bookkeeping, if the players auto-succeed on manipulating where the shadow goes).
edit: for that matter, could a target casting multiple shadows be spiked by multiple Umbral Spikes at one time?
If you go back to the voting page, do you still see the message that your vote has been recorded?
(I saw it briefly, now I"m back to checkboxes)
Gary Teter wrote:
If you select more than 8 entries this round your vote won't be recorded. We should probably display a message to that effect once you click the vote button but I don't think we do currently. Could that be what you're running into?
I only selected six to vote for. Could it be because I'm voting for less than 8 entries?
Joke or not, I've got to agree with this. It's not the best time or place for a joke (and I have almost no sense when it comes to that, so if I get it....)
I had the same feeling about the top 32 commenting on the organizations that their competitors submitted. It may not be against the rules, and the comments may be generally (but not always) positive, but it rubs me the wrong way.
Pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of your competition while voting is going on just seems like it's in poor taste. If you really have something you need to say, why not at least wait until voting is over. Again, even if it's not against the rules, it's not going to endear me to the person(s) doing it.
Interesting idea. For me, the rules-specified difficulty in breaking the bond between a summoner and their eidolon isn't a big deal. It's easy enough to imagine that the organization has found a (secret) way to break that bond (if made public, maybe it could be countered, so they keep it close within the upper ranks).
Evil Lincoln wrote:
1) But, but, it's *macabre*. What's more grim or ghastly than dancing to that which cannot be danced to?
2) FREEEEBIIIRD!!! (ow, stop punching me)
I don't mean to be harsh to anyone in particular - and I wouldn't have suggested that anyone remove their item from a feedback thread, or that it would have been a waste of anyone's time to solicit feedback - I think it's ok to work with what you have. I also don't intend to discourage anyone from soliciting feedback even if they don't have their final version.
But I would encourage everyone in your position to adopt your attitude.
This is not so much about the items, but more a comment on organization (ok, maybe more of a cranky rant than a comment).
I'm really surprised by the number of people in the critique my item thread who either don't have the final submitted version of their item, or aren't sure if what they have is the final version.
Computer crashes and viruses are somewhat understandable, but that's why backups are important.
Editing in the submission box instead of on your final draft copy (and/or not transferring those changes to your final draft copy) is a bad idea, and is bound to leave you without the final version. It's just a recipe for confusion.
Simply not knowing if you have the final version or not? Really? You're essentially applying to be a professional game designer and you didn't keep track of what was a rough draft and what was final?
I don't know how you can expect to succeed as a professional without this basic level of organization.
There is simply no good reason for anyone not to have a copy the final version of any work that they do for hire or profit.
My mind is boggled.
Even if you didn't make the top 32, start building your portfolio with your best examples of finished, polished writing! Would you tell a potential client/boss that you entered the contest, and then show them a rough draft of your work? Or worse, tell them that you don't know if what you showed them is final or not? You'd never get hired.
(If I remember correctly, this was even mentioned last year by one of the judges)