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Eric Morton wrote:
Yep. That's what I get for posting from my auto-correcting phone instead of my home PC. Didn't catch the typo quickly enough to edit it out. :(
It's been a busy, stressful day at the office. :/
It was around that timeframe, but it was mostly because I reviewed every submission. Every single one. That's rare because items typically only required a couple of judges to Keep or Reject an item during the initial pass. I'm a completionist, though, so my OCD compelled me to comment on all of them. That wound up paying dividends, too, when we shared the judges' commentary in the "Critique My Item" thread afterward, because there was more to share.
I know we've DQ'ed repeat submissions in the past. Not sure if that's still the case this year. If so, it would be in the submission guidelines. The reasoning behind disallowing it are multifold, but at least one key principle is to invent continuous design growth and creativity. A Superstar designer should always have more than a single good idea. And, if they're tinkering with the sane thing year after year, it's usually not a good sign for running the race.
Thomas LeBlanc wrote:
Ah, that clarifies things, Neil was listed as a Round 5 Judge only. Did y'all bribe him with letting him publish his precursor adventure to Realm of the Fellnight Queen?
Actually, I was listed as "Open Call-Round 5"...which means I'm a judge from the Open Call thru Round 5. There was no bribery involved. They just asked nicely and I can never refuse the folks who gave me my biggest break.
As for the precursor adventure to Realm of the Fellnight Queen, I had someone private-message me the other day asking for more information on it. Maybe that'll get published someday. A special anniversary module to craft a 64-page version of Realm of the Fellnight Queen could certainly have room to explore a lead-in prequel...and maybe even a sequel. ;)
Thomas LeBlanc wrote:
Also, how will the other judges compete with his word vomit (Ex) ability?
It's a wall of text (Su) ability, actually... ;)
Mikko Kallio wrote:
I hope all the round 1 judges will be giving very detailed commentaries on the items, especially now that they don't have to assign Keeps/Rejects. When giving feedback, I think it's better to err on the side of verbosity. (If you've read my round 3 comments last year, you know I'll comment on everything.) I've often felt that the round 1 comments haven't been complete or detailed enough (though some judges are exceptions).
I'll see what I can do. However, keep in mind that turning around commentary on 32 items (plus 4 more alternates) with lots of detail is a pretty herculean task given the short timeframe which we'll be given. In fact, I suspect we may not even be able to comment on everything in the Top 32 before the list goes live for everyone to see. Of course, we'll put in time providing comments alongside everyone else, but you may have to scroll down a ways to find the individual judge commentary.
Also, with regards to the less detailed commentary of prior round 1's, I can speak to the experience prior to engaging the public voting mechanism we use today. Back then, the judges slogged their way through hundreds and hundreds of items, haggled over the Top 32, chose our golden tickets (if necessary), and then ran out of steam to go back and provide detailed commentary. We did our best to circle through and give at least some level of feedback and encouragement, but the turnaround rarely gave us the time to do it full justice. Instead, I always strove to spread out the advice over all the rounds, usually with more of an eye towards the current assignment than to go back and give post-commentary on something that had already helped someone advance to the next round.
In other words, sometimes the best advice is for what lies ahead. And, helping the contestants advance is the main role I think the judges fulfill. For round 1, that always meant giving people as much insight into how to standout and bring the mojo prior to them submitting their items. And for future rounds, it means helping them understand what a good map, monster design, villain design, encounter design, or adventure pitch should include...again, prior to the submitting.
Now, that said, circling back to provide higher quality analysis/feedback on submissions which have already been posted is more of an educational process for those following along (in addition to the actual designer). And, we've got room and time to do that at whatever pace we can manage. Sometimes, that takes the form of the "Critique My Item" thread, or similar venues. I've also done deeper dives on occasion for a select few items I felt provided good examples to teach particular lessons. So, we all try to give back however we can. And some of us have more time we can devote to that than others.
But that's just my two cents,
Hey, folks! I somehow missed this thread, but I'm definitely looking forward to what the crowd upvotes into the Top 32.
...I'm going to tell all of you why you're WRONG!
I'm just kidding. ;)
I'll see what I can do to add my two cents, as usual.
But the real test...
...is to see how well you can read through each item and discern the best of the best designers behind them.
For instance, how closely can you pick out the flaws in this design?
Thank you Neil, for raising JUST enough paranoia that I am now curious if I DQ'd myself over some slightly missed little detail. Also Thank you for telling us how we can improve. :-) As an amateur, I really appreciate it.
I do what I can. Both in stirring up paranoia and in telling others how to improve. ;)
Garrick Williams wrote:
Following directions is vital. If your employer wants a sword, armor, or a shield within 300 words, and you give them a 400 word ring, they're not going to hire you again.
Those parts of the submission requirements are meant to test that exact thing. So, if anyone gets DQ'D at that stage...and for those reasons...it's for the best. To be a potential Superstar designer, you've got to pass that first hurdle or you might as well not even run the race. A publisher always needs a freelancer to give them what the assignment calls for. Meet the spec or you're out. That's just the way it goes.
Neil, out of curiosity, can you tell us how long it took for the first entry to be submitted? What about the first entry that wasn't DQ'd?
Oh, I don't recall the exact first entry, but it certainly came in Day One. The first DQ was also Day One, but it may or may not have been the first submission.
Thomas LeBlanc wrote:
Did you leave me any to report as DQ worthy?
Possibly. I mostly did a quick skim in the early going, so I may have missed a few. I circled back afterward and caught as many as I could. I suspect there's still a few in there with a total template failure, but I'll be darned if I can recall the exact ones without making another run through. I don't really have the time for that right now, but they'll shake out one way or another.
So, I've made an initial pass through every item submission so far. For those following along, here are a few general observations and conclusions I've made:
1) Good Stuff! - As usual, we've got some great entries! Lots of Superstar-caliber creativity on display. It'll be fun to see who rises to the Top 32 over the course of the public voting. I have a few favorites I'd like to see make it into the contest if for no other reason than to see what the designers behind them can do in future rounds of the competition.
2) Auto-Rejects - There are also quite a few rejected submissions this go-around, and it's primarily because a lot of people didn't bother reading the rules. I've flagged a number of rings and staves for rejection. I've also seen cursed items, intelligent weapons, and yes...even minor artifacts...all of which are identified in the Open Call as being ineligible for the contest. But people submitted them anyway, presumably in an effort to take the road less traveled. There are also several submissions that went over wordcount. Those get rejected right away. You should never flirt with the maximum words allowed. It's like standing too close to the edge. One little misstep and...ouch!
3) Ill-Advised Risk-Taking - There are also a lot of submissions which ignore the excellent advice Sean has given over the past several years. People still love their backstories. People still struggle with avoiding Spell-in-a-Can design. There are still items which I'd consider "joke" items. Good naming is still a challenge. There are items that are way overpriced, and there are items which clearly abandoned the defined rules for pricing in favor of ballparking it. While that may work out sometimes for wondrous items, I'd say not so much for the weapons and armor/shields category.
4) Template Use/Abuse - Several submissions still struggle to apply the template correctly. Everything from miscues in where things go to how stuff should be worded and how things should be formatted. The latter isn't a dealbreaker, of course, but it visually separates the good entries from the rest of the pack.
5) Look Before You Leap/Submit - It's clear that some folks failed to hit the "Preview" button to get a sense of what their submission would look like to those voting on it. At least one entry tried to do BBCode formatting (including fancy URLs), but accidentally relied on backslashes [\] rather than slashes [/] so the whole thing looks pretty garbled. Some folks are also trying to put BBCode in the thread title, so that's going to cause some folks to standout in a less flattering way during the public vote. This stuff can be coached and cleaned up in the real world of freelancing, but in terms of putting your best foot forward for consideration for Top 32, it's best if you get everything as clean and polished as possible.
And that's it for now. I just figured as we close in on the submission deadline, those who submitted long ago might appreciate a bit of insight into how things are taking shape. It should be a fun period of public voting. Game on!
...300 word-items that did not have the item title in the body have been disqualified* in the past.
This is correct. I've seen it happen. Multiple times.
Your item's name is supposed to be the title of the thread and in the body of your post. That way, the item's name is displayed in a listing of all the posts for a given forum (i.e., the RPG Superstar forum) and it's part of the body of text you see when you open the thread and read someone's item. If you only put your item name in the thread title, and forgot to put it in your actual post along with the rest of your item's description and information, you're doing it wrong. And, if you forgot to do that...and if we hypothetically were to add your item's name to the body of your post and that carries the word count over 300 words, you will be disqualified.
So, what's the lesson here?
First, don't flirt with the maximum word count. You don't actually need all 300 words to make an item with Superstar mojo. That's been demonstrated repeatedly over the past several contests. And, quite honestly, large word counts are often a sign of a wordy writer and someone who's in love with their own prose or wants to weave in too much backstory or explanation for their item. Elegant design has an appropriate amount of clarity, brevity, and creativity. You bring that kind of mojo and we'll be seeing you in the Top 32.
Secondly, read the rules so you're fully aware that the item name needs to be in the thread title AND your thread post. Even if you're unsure...or the rules seem unclear upon reading them...avail yourself of the past 8 seasons of RPG Superstar and go look at what prior Top 32 item submissions have done, and then emulate that. If you're not sure about how to do proper formatting here in the forums...i.e., so you understand the difference between a thread title and a thread post, ask someone. You'll either be pointed to those prior Top 32 examples, or any number of folks will help you by explaining how the forum posts work.
Every year, there are people who don't read the directions or rules for the contest and they submit items over word count. Sadly, those submissions have to be rejected, but it's a learning experience for next year. Adam and I have flagged them in the judges' forum for the web team to remove ahead of the public vote (along with any others we notice have violated the rules). If it's any solace, though, 378 words doesn't even come close to the highest word count we've seen.
That was over 3K. O_O
I believe last year (or maybe the one prior?) that one of the judges mentioned there was a 45% hit rate in the fan-voted Top 32 and the actual Top 32 which the judges selected for inclusion in the contest. I have no insight into the actual rankings, though. I didn't judge either of those two years.
If true, I believe that's simply a reflection that the fans have a tendency to vote for items, whereas the judges were often looking beyond the item to see what its design choices told them about a designer's potential...i.e., sometimes they'd select (or golden ticket) a designer into the contest, because they liked the new ground being broken and the overall design space being examined, and the judges wanted to see what else such a contestant could do in future rounds.
It's definitely true that Clark (and last year, Mark Seifter) looked well beyond the "Keep" folder or the voter-ranked items just to see if anything Superstar-worthy had been left behind. In both cases, they wound up selecting the Top 32 from only the items which made the cut-off.
But that's just my two cents,
Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
Yay, Neil's back as a judge!
::with an Al Pacino voice:: "Just when I thought I was out...they pull me back in." ;-)
I'm seriously looking forward to the creativity and mojo everyone will bring to the contest. So, you better sharpen your pencils and bring your A-game, people! It's on!
Having read through the discussion, I thought I'd take a moment to comment, as well. As Tim and Paris have already indicated, they understand everyone's anxious about their submissions and possible inclusion in the upcoming Wayfinder. However, they've also consistently indicated the struggles they're facing with this being a volunteer-led effort (by them, mostly) and managing that in relation to their everyday lives. Here's how I translate that: They're approaching burnout.
So, the continued pressure...whether actual or self-inflicted...to deliver for everyone (both with the actual production of Wayfinder and getting notices out to those who are waiting for them)...is going to sap away at them again and again if they're struggling with other things. And, if you're constantly pushing for updates before they're capable of giving them, that's going to add to the weight they're feeling. If that weight gets too heavy, it's entirely possible they may wrap the next Wayfinder and then stop producing the fanzine altogether. And, given that we'd all like to see it continue, that'd be a very bad thing. Right?
So, just be patient. It is a virtue, after all. ;-)
But that's just my two cents,
Traditionally, the judges had a love/hate relationship in evaluating items which cited specific monster rules. If it grants a monster ability to a PC, it might have redeeming value. A corset that grants the compression squeezing ability, for instance. Yes, it's a universal monster rule, but some items are pretty cool if they explore that territory, because it's thematically on point and elevates the item's mojo.
Of course, you also run the risk of running into Monster-in-a-Can territory if you take it too far. Does the item wind up turning you into the actual monster? Or, does it essentially manifest as the actual monster? If so, it's pretty much just a Monster-in-a-Can, and, as such, it kind of lacks Superstar mojo, because you're depending on someone else's cool monster design or monster ability design to prop up your item. That approach doesn't tell us much about you and what you're capable of inventing from whole cloth. And that's really the goal of RPG Superstar. It's meant to identify Superstar designers, not just cool items.
That's sometimes a hard distinction to make for some folks. But, as an example, if someone came up with a really imaginative, evocative item whose primary (or only) purpose was to convey a troglodyte's nauseating stench under certain circumstances...I'd be more inclined to down-vote that item, because it's not treading enough new ground for me to want to see that designer in the Top 32. Instead, a Superstar item should have enough new, creative elements to it (not just mechanically, but flavor-wise, too) that I want to see what else they can do in future rounds. That's my final litmus test for separating the good designs from the great designs...and that's because I'm looking beyond the design for the great designer behind it.
But that's just my two cents,
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Actually, question. Can we base a wondrous item off of an existing set? Like a new type of ioun stone, or a new feather token. Would that be ill-advised?
It was definitely frowned upon by the main judges in the past. The reason is that usually called into question the creativity of the designer. For instance, if your one calling card for the contest leans heavily on the creativity someone else invested into an existing item already in publication, it leaves us wondering what you're capable of doing on your own. There's no hard rule against it, of course. And, as always, the so-called "rules" of RPG Superstar and magic item design are meant to be broken in ways that demonstrate you have tremendous creativity and Superstar potential regardless. So, if you can connect it with an existing item and still bring the mojo in a way that separates your item from the existing one in Superstar ways, more power to you.
That said, the voting isn't decided by the judges this year. It'll be the voting public's call on whether or not they view a submission incorporating an existing item design is worth consideration for Top 32. I suspect some will be okay with it. And, others probably won't. So, if I were a contestant in this year's competition, I'd likely look for ways to maximize my potential up-votes rather than an idea that might diminish them.
But that's just my two cents,
Workshopping is actually one of the areas I'm most worried about with this year's voting. Why? Because, in the past, workshopping (and, essentially, breaking anonymity with those who workshop an item) wasn't really a big deal, because all the voting public did was upvote your item for consideration by the judges who went on to select the Top 32...and all of whom were still shielded from knowing who submitted a given item.
Whereas, this year, the Top 32 are fully selected by just the voting public. And, as such, workshopping an item...or establishing a voting cabal...or pit crew...or whatever you want to call it...will create the added benefit of everyone who sees your item knowing exactly who submitted it. And, as such, multiple voters (if there are enough of them) can potentially sway the vote to ensure that item (or even a collection of items from among those workshopping together) make it into the Top 32.
Potentially, of course.
This is actually the first year in which the voting public gets to directly decide the Top 32. And, by extension, it's the first year in which those selecting the Top 32 will likely have anonymity broken for at least a few items that make it into the contest. So, it'll be very interesting to see how it shakes out in the final vote tallies...and how much workshopping and voting blocs had an effect on it.
But that's just my two cents,
I'm fairly certain Jason intends (and I'm fully committed) to still producing a single hardcover with the entire AP. It's just that it will take longer to produce (aka finance) without the full, initial funding via the Kickstarter. But we don't know yet what that picture looks like until we get there.
This time last year 25% of our backers and funding on the Mythic Mania Kickstarter came thru in the final 4 days. So, there's still plenty of time for Legendary Planet to fully meet its goals. Of course, that doesn't mean everyone can sit on their laurels and think that'll just magically happen without your active participation. By that, I mean we still need people to convince their friends and other gaming social circles to back us, too. The more networking you do, the better crowd-sourcing works.
Not just a planet, but a gas giant with many moons--each one it's own little special Hitchcock-ian nightmare. The adventure is titled Mind Tyrants of the Merciless Moons after all. If that's not a sword-and-planet inspired name, I don't know what is...and Tim is very well grounded in the genre. I'm really looking forward to seeing his chapter fund and what he comes up with.
Thanks for the shout-out!
We've got just 18 days left to fund what we hope will be over 700 pages of a sword-and-planet Adventure Path for 1st thru 20th level characters. So, please consider throwing some coin our way and spread the word. In fact, I'd like to call in any markers or favors from all my friends and colleagues in the RPG community. If you've ever enjoyed something I've written for Paizo or Legendary Games...or, if you've ever found any of my support during RPG Superstar useful over the years...please consider giving back by sponsoring this project. It's a concept I've wanted to pursue for a long time, but I need everyone's help to get it off the ground.
I think for the purposes of the Adventure Path, we'll likely just focus on "points of light" across a regional map of an important area on a given planet to that particular adventure. Yet, when we get around to the actual campaign setting (which wouldn't be until this Kickstarter is completely fulfilled), I could see a new image of a world map (at least with continents and oceans) depicted for each planet. And, in terms of knowing about the stars and the various positions of the planets to one another, I think something like a night-sky map of the constellations visible from a given world...marking the points that its gates can reach...might be a worthwhile endeavor. Regardless, we've got plenty of time between now and then to work that out.
Brother Fen wrote:
This update blew me away. I can't believe you guys got Erik Mona to write fiction for you. I can only imagine a slight homage to Expedition to Barrier Peaks in there but that's just because the gremlins in my mind have to fill in the blanks. I'm sure it will be completely different and awesome in every way.
From the Department of Expectation Management: Erik's writing the introduction to the Adventure Path, which is very different from writing fiction. Not that we'd be averse to Erik trying his hand at some sword-and-planet fiction, of course. ;)
Squeezing rules come into play...
Squeezing: In some cases, you may have to squeeze into or through an area that isn't as wide as the space you take up. You can squeeze through or into a space that is at least half as wide as your normal space. Each move into or through a narrow space counts as if it were 2 squares, and while squeezed in a narrow space, you take a –4 penalty on attack rolls and a –4 penalty to AC.
Sounds like you've chosen an appropriate avatar name, Anguish. ;)
This is where we truly need everyone to exercise their social circles (online and in real-life) to spread the word. We're prepared to make this thing rock...HARD...all the way to 20th level with a dash of mythic in there, too. But we need backers to make it happen. So get out there and bring in more folks who will pledge. We're only 63 backers away from hitting our next backer stretch goal. And, if most of those pledge for the hardcover, that would take us past $40K and deep into Chapter 5 (which, for how we've laid it out, is about as far as most regular APs get to, level-wise).
That was certainly in my thoughts, but we also widened the market by appealing to 5e enthusiasts, as well. We also recognize that the current consumers of APs (whether through Paizo or other 3PPs who've produced one) aren't always GMs. Sometimes, they just enjoy them for the stories and the possibility that they too might someday run it for another gaming group.
If you visit our Kickstarter page, you can see that our basic funding goal was just $6K...and that would allow us to publish both the prequel adventure (40 pages of content) and Chapter 1 of the Adventure Path (64 pages of content). Thereafter, with each additional $2K, we've been "unlocking" various bonus/stretch goals to allow us to add more content. With the next three bonus goals we increase each chapter from 64 pages to 96 pages (with a 10-page bestiary, 10-page gazetteer, and 12-pages of supporting articles). But the $2K intervals keep going from there. So, at $12K, we "unlocked" the first 64 pages of Chapter 2 in the Adventure Path. Then, the additional $2K stretch goals allow us to add in the other 32 pages to bring them up to 96, as well. And so on.
Thus, at $28K, we "unlocked" Chapter 4, which is titled "Confederates of the Shattered Zone." And, we actually just crested the $30K threshold, so that means we added a 10-page bestiary on top of the base 64 pages of the adventure. We're currently working on reaching $32K, which will add another 10-page gazetteer to that chapter. And so on. Once we reach $58K, the entire 700-page Adventure Path will be funded. That's inclusive of the 40-page prequel adventure and all 7 chapters of the larger AP (with all of their individual bonus articles). The final product will take characters from 1st thru 20th level and lay the groundwork or a pretty epic storyline while also setting the stage for an eventual campaign setting we're calling Legendary Worlds.
Hope that helps explain, and please considering backing us if you haven't already...
I just realized we never answered Neongelion's question in any official capacity. Right now, I don't know that we can. We definitely haven't included Earth as part of the Legendary Planet Adventure Path. But, for the larger Legendary Worlds Campaign Setting (which wouldn't manifest until we test the waters with the AP), it's certainly possible. That said, I think there might be a way for us to suggest how to handle a PC from Earth in a Player's Guide. The easiest way would be to define it in similar terms to Flash Gordon, Starlord, or just a simple alien abduction into a larger multiverse. In other words, we've got options, and we can certainly explore them.
So, the short answer is...::shakes magic 8-ball::..."Reply hazy. Ask again later."
We're all psyched! And we've now hit the halfway point on funding the entire AP just 6 days into the Kickstarter. To say we're extremely happy--not just with this development, but also the contributions of so many friends and colleagues in the industry--would be a colossal understatement. We still have 36 days to kick this thing into an even higher orbit, so please help us bring Legendary Planet to life by continuing to spread the word. There are more bonus goals to unlock, even at the backer pledge levels, so the more people who jump on this rocketship, the better.
Damien Wilmann wrote:
Also, PMed Neil Spicer. He said he'd have a read if he managed to find the time.
I've read through most of it, skipping ahead to see how certain encounters played out. Seems like Damien is doing just fine. It's up to every GM to tailor these adventures to their players, and he's certainly found ways to hook, entice, and entertain you guys. I hope you're having fun. Keep on gaming, and I may still check in from time to time just to see how things are coming along.
My two cents,
P.S. Be wary of mirrors and birds. ;)
Ooooh! I think I may want to do some funding for this ... glad I have a little time ... finances are ... strained right now. :)
Go ahead and pledge now so others can see the funding level going up and be inspired to jump on, too. If your funds fall short of your pledge level as the Kickstarter winds down, you can always adjust it however you see fit. But, if you hold off on funding us until the very end (when you've saved up and know you have the money on hand), the Kickstarter may not climb high enough to inspire others to pledge, as well...in which case, the product you hoped to buy, might not materialize as fully as you expected.
We'll walk the narrow path between the two extremes. And, when we get to higher level play (which admittedly not everyone reaches), we may ratchet it up a bit more.
But, in all honesty, when folks request "Super challenging!" versus "No TPKs!" I tend to tune that out, because, more often than not, that's more of a reflection of your GM (i.e., what she or he allows, and how they run the game at the table) as well as your experience level (and how optimized you tend to be in making characters) than how a particular scenario is written by its author. So, in my opinion, it's really the responsibility of anyone who runs an Adventure Path to preview it, compare its design to the known playstyle and experience level of you and your individual players, and then tailor it accordingly.
We simply can't map to everyone's preference, because we'll leave behind half our consumer base. So, to satisfy "most of the people, most of the time" it's best that we shoot for something in between. That way, any of the outliers on that scale have less customizations to make to bring it more in line with their preferred game. That's always been my philosophy in how I write for Paizo APs. And, as lead developer, that's what I'm shooting for on the Legendary Planet AP.
Iconic #3...cleric / monk...Will this be a new class / archetype or something like that.
We aren't planning any new class or archetype builds for the AP yet, but when the campaign setting rolls around (hopefully sometime next year), who knows? Maybe? A lot of that will depend on how successful this Kickstarter turns out and what kind of interest we generate for more designs. So, if you'd like to see something like that eventually happen, help us get out the word on the current AP, and we'll see.