Paizo Top Nav Branding
  • Hello, Guest! |
  • Sign In |
  • My Account |
  • Shopping Cart |
  • Help/FAQ
About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ
Silver Dragon

Neil Spicer's page

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor. Goblin Squad Member. Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber. Pathfinder Society Member. 5,777 posts (9,466 including aliases). 1 review. No lists. No wishlists. 1 Pathfinder Society character. 17 aliases.


RSS

1 to 50 of 5,777 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | next > last >>
RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thanks, Thilo! I know Matt and Jason have got to be ecstatic with that review. Matt especially since he poured his heart and soul into addressing a lot of the perceived problems with rogues. Looks like that really resonated with you.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Nightdrifter wrote:

...Andoran...

...Worldwound + Mendev...

I agree these would make the best location-based themes for Wayfinder #16. And, of the two, I think the latter (i.e., Worldwound/Mendev) is strongest, because it'll present opportunities to play around with the geography/history of that location, demons (perhaps as counterpoint to all the devil-themed stuff that showed up in the Cheliax-themed Wayfinder #11), and mythic content. That way, even the last part (i.e., mythic rules) can be explored alongside a variety of other elements associated with the Worldwound area of Golarion rather than it having to be a standalone theme of its own. Also, in addition to the inspiration listed for Worldwound/Mendev, there are multiple novels set there (e.g., The Worldwound Gambit, Liar's Blade, and King of Chaos), so even the fiction authors should have some examples to follow or build upon.

But that's just my two cents,
--Neil

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Kalindlara wrote:
Bardess wrote:
What about a Milani monk?

Monk as in friar, I assume. ^_^

I suppose there is the martial artist archetype, though...

If you do a Milani "monk" I'd recommend going with brawler, instead. I think that might fit a follower of Milani a bit better than the typical tradition of Eastern-style martial arts. Of course, even monks don't have to strictly be from that style, but Milani's themes of rebellion and liberation just seem more fitted to a brawler's mentality.

But that's just my two cents,
--Neil

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Last but least, here's an idea I had for a vishkanya rogue with the deadly courtesan archetype from the Advanced Race Guide with an assumption that she would be in service to Tragshi the Herbalist who runs the Poisoner's Guild in Daggermark (and like Tragshi, she would originally have hailed from Casmaron):

Vishkanya Poisoner

Spoiler:

VISHKANYA POISONER
XP 800
Female vishkanya rogue (deadly courtesan) 4
NE Medium humanoid (vishkanya)
Init +4; Senses Perception +6

DEFENSE

AC 17, touch 14, flat-footed 13 (+3 armor, +4 Dex)
hp 33 (4d8+12)
Fort +3, Ref +8, Will +0; +4 vs. poison
Defensive Abilities evasion, uncanny dodge

OFFENSE

Spd 30 ft.
Melee mwk kukri +8 (1d4-1/18-20 plus poison)
Ranged mwk shuriken +8 (1d2-1 plus poison)
Special Attacks bardic performance 5 rounds/day (fascinate [DC 14], inspire competence +2), poison, sneak attack +2d6

STATISTICS

Str 8, Dex 18, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 8, Cha 14
Base Atk +3; CMB +2; CMD 16
Feats Sleep Venom (ARG), Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +8, Bluff +8, Craft (alchemy) +5, Diplomacy +6, Disable Device +9 (+11 vs. traps), Disguise +8 (+12 to look fully human), Escape Artist +13, Intimidate +8, Knowledge (history) +5, Knowledge (local) +5, Knowledge (nobility) +5, Perception +6 (+8 vs. traps), Perform (dance) +10, Sleight of Hand +11, Stealth +13; Racial Modifiers +2 Escape Artist, +2 Perform (dance), +2 Stealth
Languages Aklo, Common, Vishkanya
SQ limber, poison use, poison resistance, rogue talents (bardic performance, deft palm), sensual, subtle appearance, toxic, trapfinding +2, weapon familiarity
Combat Gear blue whinnis poison (3 doses), oil of taggit poison (2 doses), poison tattoo, potion of delay poison, potion of invisibility; Other Gear mwk studded leather armor, mwk kukri, mwk shurikens (8)

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Sensual (Ex) Some vishkanya are trained in drawing attention to themselves, and gain a +2 bonus on Perform (dance). This racial trait replaces keen senses.
Subtle Appearance (Ex) Some vishkanya have normal (humanlike) eyes, and their beauty is more conventional, granting them a +4 bonus on Disguise checks to look fully human. This racial trait replaces low-light vision.
Toxic (Ex) A number of times per day equal to a vishkanya's Constitution modifier, she can envenom a weapon that she wields with her toxic saliva or blood (using blood requires her to be injured when she uses this ability).
Poison (Ex) Injury; save Fort DC 14; frequency 1/round for 6 rounds; effect 1d2 Dex; cure 1 save.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Also, here's another one for a Gralton Spy (i.e., a half-elf rogue with the spy archetype whose human lineage traces back to the disaffected nobles from Galt who fled to the River Kingdoms):

Gralton Spy:

Spoiler:

GRALTON SPY
XP 1,200
Female half-elf rogue (spy) 5
NG Medium humanoid (elf, human)
Init +2; Senses low-light vision; Perception +8

DEFENSE

AC 15, touch 12, flat-footed 13 (+3 armor, +2 Dex)
hp 36 (5d8+10)
Fort +1, Ref +6 (+1 vs. traps), Will +4; +2 vs. enchantments
Defensive Abilities evasion, uncanny dodge; Immune sleep

OFFENSE

Spd 30 ft.
Melee mwk shortsword +3 (1d8-1/19-20) or mwk dagger +3 (1d4-1/19-20)
Ranged mwk shortbow +6 (1d6/x3)
Special Attacks sneak attack +3d6

STATISTICS

Str 8, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 16
Base Atk +3; CMB +2; CMD 14
Feats Deceitful, Iron Will, Toughness
Skills Bluff +15, Diplomacy +8, Disable Device +8, Disguise +12, Escape Artist +8, Knowledge (local) +8, Knowledge (nobility) +5, Perception +8, Ride +3, Sense Motive +10, Sleight of Hand +10, Stealth +10, Use Magic Device +7; Racial Modifiers +2 Bluff, +1 Disguise, +1 Knowledge (local), +1 Sense Motive
Languages Common, Elven, Hallit
SQ elf blood, integrated, poison use, rogue talents (honeyed words, quick disguise), skilled liar +2, wary
Combat Gear blue whinnis poison (1 dose), oil of taggit poison (2 doses), potions of cure light wounds (2), potion of invisibility, sleep arrows (2), smokesticks (3); Other Gear +1 leather armor, mwk short sword, mwk dagger, mwk shortbow w/ 20 arrows, feather token (bird)

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Integrated (Ex) Many half-elves are skilled in the art of ingratiating themselves into a community as if they were natives. Half-elves with this racial trait gain a +1 bonus on Bluff, Disguise, and Knowledge (local) checks. This racial trait replaces the adaptability racial trait.
Wary (Ex) Many half-elves have spent their long lives moving from place to place, often driven out by the hostility of others. Such experiences have made them wary of others' motivations. Half-elves with this trait gain a +1 racial bonus on Sense Motive and Bluff checks. This racial trait replaces the keen senses racial trait.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Kalindlara wrote:
I wanted to do that, but I was afraid to use too many non-PRD sources. I'd have a completely different build then. ^_^

I realized I have a copy of the Tymon gladiator stat-block on my thumb-drive here at the office, and it relies only on the PRD (with the only non-core references coming from Ultimate Combat):

Tymon Gladiator

Spoiler:

TYMON GLADIATOR
XP 800
Male human fighter (gladiator) 4
CN Medium humanoid (human)
Init +1; Senses Perception +0

DEFENSE

AC 17, touch 11, flat-footed 16 (+4 armor, +1 Dex, +2 shield)
hp 38 (4d10+12)
Fort +6, Ref +2, Will +1

OFFENSE

Spd 30 ft.
Melee +1 longsword +10 (1d8+7/19-20) or throwing axe +8 1d6+4) or dagger +8 (1d4+4/19-20)
Ranged shortspear +5 (1d6+4) or throwing axe +5 (1d6+4) or dagger +5 (1d4+4/19-20)

STATISTICS

Str 18, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 13
Base Atk +4; CMB +8; CMD 19
Feats Dazzling Display, Intimidating Prowess, Performance Weapon Mastery (UC), Performing Combatant (UC), Savage Display (UC), Weapon Focus (longsword), Weapon Specialization (longsword)
Skills Acrobatics +1, Climb +7, Handle Animal +5, Intimidate +10, Perform (comedy) +5, Ride +4, Swim +7
Languages Common
SQ armor training 1, fame
Combat Gear potions of cure light wounds (2); Other Gear mwk leather lamellar, mwk heavy steel shield, +1 longsword, throwing axe, shortspear, dagger

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Kalindlara wrote:
I know time is short, but if anyone has NPC suggestions, I'll consider them for inclusion.

If there's still time, I'll shoot you some stat-blocks I cooked up for the earlier NPCs I suggested for the River Kingdoms. I took a different approach with the Tymon gladiator by making them a human fighter (gladiator) 4 and selecting a handful of different feat choices which synergize really well with the gladiator archetype. Basically, it gives him the ability to use performance combat feats even in everyday combat. I think it's an interesting mix.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Timitius wrote:
This is an interesting idea. I'm wondering what the word count for each NPC is looking like. If this turns out to be an especially lean issue for submissions, we might do a large article (like 4-6 pages/3000 to 4500 words), but not sure how many of these NPCs will fit on 4 pages.

Stat-blocks will typically take up more space, just because there are more lines (with empty space) that have to fit on each page. Paizo guidelines are typically 700 words to a page. And, for NPC write-ups and bestiary articles in the APs, we're given 1400 words for a 2-page spread.

For the purposes of Wayfinder's Weal or Woe articles, I've always operated with 750 words per page as the guideline. Sometimes, it's less, but that's usually fairly accurate. By keeping the NPCs low-level, it reins in the length of the stat-block and how much space it eats up. As a result, it lets you "buy back" that extra 50 words to put towards the NPC's description and the boon or drawback information.

So, my advice would be to shoot for one NPC per page (just like a Weal or Woe article with art). Keep each character's stat-block as short as possible. And, use any remaining space for a few words describing the NPC's connection to the River Kingdoms. It wouldn't have to follow the Weal or Woe format by including a boon or drawback. And, as a result, that buys you additional words to towards the NPC's background.

My two cents,
--Neil

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Kalindlara wrote:
Neil Spicer wrote:
Timitius wrote:
More Weal or Woe articles wouldn't hurt, so we have a wide selection to choose from.
If you're short, I can always chip in with Weal or Woe contributions. Or even a brief River Kingdoms NPC Codex style of article. Something like an example Daggermark assassin, Gralton noble, Tymon gladiator, Sevenarches hunter, etc.? Maybe even some outside influences like a Razmiran charlatan and Galtan bounty hunter?
I never even thought of this. I don't want to step on your toes, but I could easily put something like this together (if that's all right with you; it was your idea, after all).

If you've got the time and Tim's got the page count/word count to spare, have at it. I've got four stat-blocks slapped together for a handful of the NPCs I proposed above. And I brainstormed a couple more for a Pitax bard and a Mivon duelist, but haven't put the numbers together for them.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Timitius wrote:
More Weal or Woe articles wouldn't hurt, so we have a wide selection to choose from.

If you're short, I can always chip in with Weal or Woe contributions. Or even a brief River Kingdoms NPC Codex style of article. Something like an example Daggermark assassin, Gralton noble, Tymon gladiator, Sevenarches hunter, etc.? Maybe even some outside influences like a Razmiran charlatan and Galtan bounty hunter?

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Jason Nelson wrote:
Which Paizo adventures have mass combat scenarios you'd like to see translated into the premade unit stat blocks section of Ultimate Armies?

Completely Anonymous Suggestions:

Spoiler:

Rise of the Runelords - Definitely the attack on Sandpoint...both for the goblins in "Burnt Offerings" (if you can pull that off at such a low level) and in "Fortress of the Stone Giants"

Curse of the Crimson Throne - Introducing some squads of Hellknight enforcers and Gray Maidens could be useful at various points in this AP.

Kingmaker - You already know that "Blood for Blood" and "War of the River Kings" are definitely in-scope for mass combat.

Serpent's Skull - The big assault on the "Sanctum of the Serpent God" so the PCs can infiltrate the temple and take down Ydersius cries out for a major mass combat playing out in the background.

Carrion Crown - The AP doesn't call for it, but I always thought a Mordor-like battle between a Whispering Way-aligned undead army and a combination of Ustalav/Lastwall forces would be cool. Kind of like a miniature Shining Crusade culminating in "Shadows at Gallowspire."

Jade Regent - There are a handful of places in "Tide of Honor" and "The Empty Throne" where mass combat would make sense.

Skull & Shackles - Mass naval combat for the end-game in "From Hell's Heart" seems like a no-brainer.

Wrath of the Righteous - Definitely needs some mass combat troop engagements for "Sword of Valor" but could be useful throughout the entire AP as add-on material, including the opening chapter given how things go down when the demons launch their surprise attack.

Giantslayer - Has room for some mass combat given the gathering of giant armies. Even the orcs could have a few troops involved in the opening chapter.

Hell's Rebels/Hell's Vengeance - Both of these APs should have ample clashes between government and rebel forces.

But that's just my two cents,
--Neil

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Shensen wrote:
...And yes, still an aquatic half-elf, but without the typical extra (and mostly optional) race swap outs for it, due to the sort of unusual way I ended up being an aquatic half elf...

Did the aboleths do it? ;)

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Neil Spicer wrote:
Wow! This product made the Top 5 PDF downloads this week.

Even more WOW! Number one PDF download this week in the Paizo webstore. You folks are awesome!

Legendary Games also has three other products in the Top 10. Amazing!

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm not the author of that particular NPC/AP combination. But to answer the original question...yes, I have insight into it. ;-)

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Wow! This product made the Top 5 PDF downloads this week. That's pretty awesome for a Player's Guide. Hopefully, folks check out The Assimilation Strain, as well...and the rest of the Legendary Planet Adventure Path as it becomes available. Thanks for the interest, everyone!

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Devastation Bob wrote:
Just bought the pdf and on a quick read through it looks very cool, but I have a few spoilery type questions.

Hey, Bob...I'll do my best to answer, but I think Rednal hit on most of them already.

Spoiler:
Devastation Bob wrote:
1.)Does the Con damage on the infected villagers from the virus or another source? I didn't see Con dmg in the viral description.

This stems from the flawed version of the assimilation strain which induced madness in the villagers.

Devastation Bob wrote:
2.)I would assume that the players leave the rescued children with the gnome, but then in part 3 we see that the gnome has been abducted. Won't someone think about the children?

This is an outcome each GM will have to adjudicate, but yes...it's possible the children are there when Rexel is abducted. You could handle that in many different ways. Rexel could have been abducted in his sleep with the children none the wiser. Or, Rexel could have defended the children, directing them to flee before he eventually succumbs to his attacker. Or, the children could have ventured away from the treehouse to retrieve something important from the Mulnarin farm and been entirely absent when Rexel's abductor appears. Lots of ways to go with that which don't involve violence against the children. But, if you want to include them as part of the abduction, too, that's entirely possible, as well. They could show up in Part 3 alongside Rexel and give the PCs an even greater moral dilemma to face.

Devastation Bob wrote:
3.)How do the events of this tie into the Legendary Planet AP proper? The player's guide seems to suggest that players would already be interplanetary type characters, but the Assimilation Strain seems written for core-type characters. Will there be suggestions for this in the first book of the AP?

The Player's Guide is meant to support the AP moreso than the prequel adventure (which is entirely optional). So, starting with interplanetary characters isn't your best bet if you're going to run The Assimilation Strain, because it's meant to invoke a sense of mystery and wonder about the larger multiverse. Whereas, if the PCs originated from off-world, the mystery is mostly absent from The Assimilation Strain.

That said, we did our best to layer in as many different options as we could. So, you certainly can run TAS with interplanetary characters. The GM will just have to engineer some greater explanations for it. Meanwhile, if you start interplanetary characters out with To Worlds Unknown, that'll work far more easily. Bottom line, you can go either direction with it. And, yes, we do spend a bit of text in TWU discussing how TAS can fit into the AP.

Devastation Bob wrote:
All in all though, a really cool little adventure. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

Awesome. Glad you're enjoying it.

--Neil

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Endzeitgeist wrote:
Modified my review to reflect the latest iteration and posted it now also here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.

Much obliged, Thilo. I believe Jason and the team cleaned up the missing map situation you cited. Also, I'd heard (from one of the other Kickstarter backers) that the high-resolution maps were also introduced in the map folio. So, as always, we took note and revisited things to make the final product even more awesome!

P.S. I'll be curious to know your thoughts on To Worlds Unknown now that it's available to the Kickstarter backers.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Devastation Bob wrote:
I think it would be fun to "twist" the narrative with the interplanetary connection. Then with the actual 1st part of the AP, the characters can choose to bring those Assimilation characters along, or then make up new characters/races drawing from the interplanetary setting.

We may or may not have called that out specifically (hard to remember since I'm knee-deep in later chapters of the AP right now)...but GMs would most certainly have the leeway to do exactly that given how we crafted things.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Thanks for the review and your support, Rednal. It is much appreciated.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

3 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm glad you guys are both enjoying and/or eager to acquire The Assimilation Strain. Just hold still. The infection should take hold very soon, and it won't hurt a bit. ;)

I actually ran this module at PaizoCon earlier this year, and then twice more just this weekend at a local convention called MACE here in Charlotte. So far, everyone has been really impressed with its "creepiness," unique adversaries, and overall storyline.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Welcome to the Superstar club, Nick. If you're at PaizoCon next year, we'll have to do another group photo with the new crown-bearer.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

A new editor, huh?

Well..."I am Syndrome, your nemesis and..."

Oh, wait. Actually. "I'm your biggest fan!"

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

11 people marked this as a favorite.

One of the hardest lessons to learn as a freelancer is the amount of "stirring up" your design choices and design execution can create among the fanbase and with the average consumer. You never quite know what someone will put an emphasis on which causes them to either really love or really take exception to what you've produced. Sometimes, just sitting back and observing the conversations can enlighten you in some really amazing ways about the nature of people, the things that are important to them, and how much or how little that might be in tune with the mainstream thinking.

But here's the rub: What really matters is how you deal with all of that. You're never going to be able to satisfy everyone. There'll quite likely be a vocal few who are really passionately against something you've created. That's okay. What you really need to be conscious of...or, at least what I've personally chosen to examine in my own freelance career...is whether or not you inspired a majority of the people using/reviewing your work. If you succeed at that level, it doesn't matter overly much what the outliers think or say. Those slings and arrows can't penetrate your personal armor (or, thick skin if it's a natural armor bonus). Sometimes, those outlier opinions can still alert you to something you might not have realized was an issue or an ingrained element in your work. And, you may even find it useful in the event you want to tinker or adjust your approach as you go forward. Learning how and when to apply that kind of feedback only comes with experience. But, at least, the RPG Superstar contest still exposes you to some of that as you see the various responses from those who feel compelled to leave feedback.

So, to echo Monica, don't take it personally. But, do personally examine it and learn from it where you can and when it seems right to do so. And, likewise, for those leaving commentary/feedback for these competitors, just be aware of how you're conducting yourself, how constructive you're being, and the support role you play--both in encouraging future designers, and in helping the RPG Superstar contest continue to shine.

But that's just my two cents,
--Neil

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Jason! Welcome to the Final Round! This is it! An opportunity for you to pitch a (mostly) independent idea for an adventure, win over the voting public, and get a signed contract with Paizo to bring it to life. As someone who's lived that dream, I can tell you that it's a very, very cool experience. And, provided you apply all the lessons you've learned throughout the competition, you can use this contest as a platform for really getting your name--and your work--out there. So, relish the opportunity, soak in the feedback, and, whether or not you win it all outright, take the broader experience of RPG Superstar with you as you pursue whatever freelance opportunities come your way.

Based on prior years, you may know that I like to break my final round judging commentary into two halves. The first assesses your pitch...meaning, how well you sold your ideas within the proposal itself. I think it's important to take a look at that because it gives us a more complete sense of your vision and how well you're able to convey that to your developer (and the broader RPG community) to win them over and green light your work. It also offers a glimpse into how you'd structure your actual adventure, giving us a sense of your capabilities as a storyteller and how well you can tap into elements that will get people excited.

The second part of my assessment will dive into the proposed adventure and whether what you've presented here includes all the relevant pieces to hopefully make a great Pathfinder module. More than anything, that's really the goal here. While your pitch may demonstrate you've got the professional polish, insights, creative writing ability, and organizational skills to entrust you with this type of assignment, it's the core ideas of your adventure which will convince voters to select your proposal as the one they most want to purchase and play at their gaming tables.

So, with all that in mind, let's get down to business and see what you've proposed...

Feedback for: Escape From Moonshell Grotto

The Pitch
Okay. This is the part where you need to sell your proposal to us...which means, you need to write well enough to convince us you know what you're doing with strong, purposeful design choices--a skill you should realize by now plays an important role in pretty much everything you bring to the table if you want to stand out as a Superstar designer. This can include the underlying storytelling, pacing, and plot of your adventure; the choices you make with regards to the level requirement/CRs for various encounters and how they'll likely play out at the table; the number of maps you'll require for your chosen location(s); your sense of Golarion canon vs. how best to support the intellectual property of your publisher; your sense of scope and scale so you can fit everything into the required page-count/word-count; and so on. Basically, your adventure pitch should convince us you've got a good head on your shoulders when it comes to adventure design, and that you're the man Paizo (and the Paizo community) should trust with this opportunity.

Hopefully, the prior rounds of this year's competition (as well as what you've learned by following along in prior years) helped develop an understanding of these things for you. Personally, I think the best approach is to study what Paizo already does with their Pathfinder modules...i.e., how things are structured, how each adventure premise innovates around some new idea or theme, what kinds of limitations they put on you, and what kinds of opportunities they grant you as a writer/storyteller. Likewise, I believe it's important to study the winning adventure proposals from prior years of RPG Superstar to get a sense of how they "sold" the readers, judges, and voters. If you can pick up on all those elements and adapt your proposal accordingly, you'll be light-years ahead of most would-be designers in convincing folks to give you a chance.

So, the first thing I notice when I read your submission is the adventure's intended name. Escape From Moonshell Grotto. I can't say I'm completely won over by it. The main element is the "moonshell grotto" and while that sounds like an intriging location, it's really just a reflection of the dragon turtle's name. So, while I like an "Escape" adventure's potential, I'm not as keen with how the adventure fails to live up to such a title. Really, one of the most useful tricks for selecting an evocative or even iconic name for an adventure is to include either the name of your primary adventure location (e.g., The Temple of Elemental Evil, White Plume Mountain, Tomb of Horrors), or the name of your super-memorable, awe-inspiring villain (e.g., Queen of Spiders, Scourge of the Slave Lords, Crown of the Kobold King). The names of these adventures resonate because they draw upon the things your players will almost certainly remember and reminisce about after playing through them...i.e., the cool location where it took place, or the awesome villain they faced. If your adventure pitch can tap into a name that contains one or both of those things, you're on the right track. I'm not sure you succeeded here. There's nothing about the "Moonshell Grotto" that makes it an important, iconic location that the PCs will identify with a terror-filled dungeon or adventuring site.

So what about the rest of the pitch? The presentation follows a sound structure. Tying the chapter names to the Cosmic Caravan doesn't really elevate the piece all that much, despite the Desna connections. I'm also not as sold on the adventure hook and Meika's inclusion as an NPC ally who could easily become a casualty along the way. There's not enough to fully invest the PCs in the adventure given how you've pitched it, and I'm left looking for more.

The rest of your pitch is okay. You've made very good use of appropriate adversaries for this region of Golarion, interweaving them with possible PC alliances, depending on how they approach each encounter. But, if I'm being honest, the rescue of Moonshell feels kind of uninspired to me. There's not enough there to tie in the PCs and give them a reason to care which dovetails with the overall story involved.

The Adventure
I've written many times before in my advice for RPG Superstar about five key elements which I believe are vital to good adventure design. In fact, I like to use them as a good barometer for assessing how well a proposed adventure will hold up in terms of providing a memorable, entertaining experience. Those five things boil down to: 1) a memorable villain whose goals are a legitimate threat which credibly prompts the PCs to act; 2) a unique and interesting set of locales which provide cool maps, memorable encounters, and innovative tactical/terrain situations; 3) a compelling and interesting plot wherein the villain's goals encroach on the PCs' world in a sustained, threatening manner where they get to become heroes at the center of attention throughout the adventure; 4) some interesting and entertaining minions and NPCs who have a credible reason for working with the villain, existing within the chosen locale(s), and create recurring problems for the PCs; and 5) an interesting, worthwhile reward which the PCs (and their players) will cherish for the rest of their adventuring careers. If you can achieve high marks in as many of those areas as possible in your design, you could have a winning idea on your hands. So, let's see how you measured up:

The Villain: Here's the main problem. There isn't one. Instead, it's a series of lesser creatures and tribal leaders of lizardfolk and troglodytes who pose the most recurring threat. More powerful adversaries loom with the medusa, etc., but none of them are really tied into the plot and the adventuring locale in a way that elevates the adventuring experience with something truly memorable and iconic that the players will take away with them if they play through it with their PCs. For me (and a lot of publishers and gaming groups), an adventure pitch will flat out fail if it doesn't include an iconic villain shaping the story the players get to experience vicariously through their PCs. And, sadly, I think that's your biggest misstep here. A memorable villain is perhaps the most important element of constructing an adventure, because it's the foil the PCs need to move the story forward as they become involved in it.

The Locale(s): This too was kind of a miss for me. I'm looking for an iconic, memorable location the players might recall years later when they reflect back on this adventure. And, unfortunately, there's nothing really amazing here to hang your hat on. Yes, there's this grotto where the dragon turtle got trapped and needs help escaping, but there's nothing especially amazing about the adventuring site itself in how this adventure proposal describes it.

The Plot: This feels a bit contrived. With no villain shaping a credible threat that requires heroic PCs to counter, this is just a freeform sandbox "wander over there, find what we find, something happens, and then adventure!" type of scenario. Yes, there's a quest-giver in there with an interest in retrieving the lost lore of her ancestors...which apparently includes a "beached whale" in the shape of this dragon turtle, but the premise isn't compelling and doesn't hang together all that well, logically-speaking given some of the resources the PCs will have at their disposal at this adventuring level. The proposal also doesn't include enough complicating factors or potential plot twists to make it entertaining at the table...not just in combat, but in a story-stacking sense. This proposal needs a tighter plotline, and a more compelling villain could help with that.

The Minions: Without a true villain shaping the story behind the adventure (both in terms of its background story and the way the plot plays out as the PCs move things forward), there aren't really any identifiable minions that PCs can experience multiple times. Technically, everything else appearing the adventure is a "minion"-level threat just based on how its described. I realize that's not how you probably meant for it to come across. I get the sense that you have it all in your mind the way you'd envision it likely addressing some of these things. The problem is that the adventure proposal doesn't convey it. There are too many generalities here and not enough details to highlight the really "cool" elements that players would get to experience as the adventure played out. You need to identify something grander than this to convince a developer to green-light your idea. And, you can't hold back. You've got to actually define what's going to happen, and describe it in a way that makes people say, "Yes, I want to see that in print! I want to run that for my gaming group!"

The Reward: The reward is kind of lost. The lode medallion has the potential to fill this role, but it's not all that different from an item you could find in the Iron Gods AP as a technological gravity-based device, or a magical artifact the Shory might have crafted. Having something like this appear as a Lirgeni device feels kind of misplaced by comparison. And, even then, I'm not sure it'll take on the iconic magic item PCs will recall from the adventure and cherish over the remainder of their adventuring career.

Conclusion
There are bits and pieces which present elements of cool design ideas, but they don't quite come together into a compelling proposal for an adventure. Instead, this comes across a bit more like a collection of notes for a potential mini-campaign where all of it's note yet fully thought through or defined enough to write up into a full scenario...i.e., kind of the hallmark of a GM who's comfortable winging or handwaving certain design elements in the interests of just keeping a freeform campaign moving so it's more about the PC/player choices than a guided story. Sandbox designs like that can sometimes work, but only if the sandbox is still supporting an interesting plot involving a credible, compelling villain the PCs can engage. That's not really what comes across here. So, it's not tight enough in concept for me to get behind it.

So, as a result, I'm going to say that I DO NOT RECOMMEND this adventure for consideration as the winning proposal for this round. It's possible you might still strike a chord with the voters and they push you through, but I'll be surprised if that happens. If you do win, it'll take a lot of revision and enhancement to bring these ideas to life in a way that creates a product that will appeal to a majority of gamers. So, it'll be an uphill battle. If, however, you don't win, I don't want this critique to weigh you down. You've alreayd demonstrated a significant freelancer skillset in other designs, and that could serve as a springboard to still make your mark in the industry if you want to give it a go. Just make sure that you keep broadening your design experiences by learning from what's out there. Emulate those things to meet the demands of what the gaming community expects, and then, once you've established yourself, start branching out and innovating as you see fit.

My sincere two cents and best wishes on your future freelancing career,
--Neil

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Nick! Welcome to the Final Round! This is it! An opportunity for you to pitch a (mostly) independent idea for an adventure, win over the voting public, and get a signed contract with Paizo to bring it to life. As someone who's lived that dream, I can tell you that it's a very, very cool experience. And, provided you apply all the lessons you've learned throughout the competition, you can use this contest as a platform for really getting your name--and your work--out there. So, relish the opportunity, soak in the feedback, and, whether or not you win it all outright, take the broader experience of RPG Superstar with you as you pursue whatever freelance opportunities come your way.

Based on prior years, you may know that I like to break my final round judging commentary into two halves. The first assesses your pitch...meaning, how well you sold your ideas within the proposal itself. I think it's important to take a look at that because it gives us a more complete sense of your vision and how well you're able to convey that to your developer (and the broader RPG community) to win them over and green light your work. It also offers a glimpse into how you'd structure your actual adventure, giving us a sense of your capabilities as a storyteller and how well you can tap into elements that will get people excited.

The second part of my assessment will dive into the proposed adventure and whether what you've presented here includes all the relevant pieces to hopefully make a great Pathfinder module. More than anything, that's really the goal here. While your pitch may demonstrate you've got the professional polish, insights, creative writing ability, and organizational skills to entrust you with this type of assignment, it's the core ideas of your adventure which will convince voters to select your proposal as the one they most want to purchase and play at their gaming tables.

So, with all that in mind, let's get down to business and see what you've proposed...

Feedback for: Beneath the Storm-Veiled Spires

The Pitch
Okay. This is the part where you need to sell your proposal to us...which means, you need to write well enough to convince us you know what you're doing with strong, purposeful design choices--a skill you should realize by now plays an important role in pretty much everything you bring to the table if you want to stand out as a Superstar designer. This can include the underlying storytelling, pacing, and plot of your adventure; the choices you make with regards to the level requirement/CRs for various encounters and how they'll likely play out at the table; the number of maps you'll require for your chosen location(s); your sense of Golarion canon vs. how best to support the intellectual property of your publisher; your sense of scope and scale so you can fit everything into the required page-count/word-count; and so on. Basically, your adventure pitch should convince us you've got a good head on your shoulders when it comes to adventure design, and that you're the man Paizo (and the Paizo community) should trust with this opportunity.

Hopefully, the prior rounds of this year's competition (as well as what you've learned by following along in prior years) helped develop an understanding of these things for you. Personally, I think the best approach is to study what Paizo already does with their Pathfinder modules...i.e., how things are structured, how each adventure premise innovates around some new idea or theme, what kinds of limitations they put on you, and what kinds of opportunities they grant you as a writer/storyteller. Likewise, I believe it's important to study the winning adventure proposals from prior years of RPG Superstar to get a sense of how they "sold" the readers, judges, and voters. If you can pick up on all those elements and adapt your proposal accordingly, you'll be light-years ahead of most would-be designers in convincing folks to give you a chance.

So, the first thing I notice when I read your submission is the adventure's intended name. Beneath the Storm-Veiled Spires. I can't say I'm completely won over by it. The main element is the "storm-veiled spires" and even with all that, it doesn't really provide a lot of clarity about the adventure beyond "storms" and "heights" of some kind. Naming is one of the most important elements in adventure design. And, that's because it's the first thing people are going to see when they come across your module on the shelves. Thus, your adventure's name needs to evoke a powerful image in the reader's mind so it makes them want to pick it up and read what lies behind the cover.

One of the most useful tricks for selecting an evocative or even iconic name is to include either the name of your primary adventure location (e.g., The Temple of Elemental Evil, White Plume Mountain, Tomb of Horrors), or the name of your super-memorable, awe-inspiring villain (e.g., Queen of Spiders, Scourge of the Slave Lords, Crown of the Kobold King). The names of these adventures resonate because they draw upon the things your players will almost certainly remember and reminisce about after playing through them...i.e., the cool location where it took place, or the awesome villain they faced. If your adventure pitch can tap into a name that contains one or both of those things, you're on the right track. And, I'm not sure you succeeded here. There's nothing super-iconic about the Storm-Veiled Spires as a unique location. The Augur's Throne is probably a more potent named location for the adventure, and it also hints towards the hag "rulership" of the region. Or, in a pinch, if you gave the coven a definitive name of its own, you could call the adventure by the same title and I think that would get you more mileage.

So what about the rest of the pitch? I think you presented the cleanest written text in the proposal. By that, I mean it reads well. Your writing chops are on display, and you're giving the solid impression that you can be trusted to produce a publish-worthy turnover with solid ideas and execution based on your prior contest submissions and this proposal. Your lead-in summary, however, lost me a little bit. At first, I was struggling to tell if the coven truly rules over Hyrantam, or if they're just an exterior threat. But, once I got deeper into the proposal, it became clearer what you intended. You've also used an appropriate chapter-based structure and effective bullet points to outline encounter setups, their contribution to the overall plot, and various options they can present to the PCs to widen the story.

The rest of your pitch is solid. You've made good use of appropriate adversaries, interweaving them with possible PC alliances, depending on how they approach each encounter. There's a healthy mix of sandbox versus railroad dungeon-crawling, but you keep it freeform for the most part. There's a segment of the gaming public for whom that style will appeal, but it's also a much harder component to deliver on when you've got a limited word-count to do it justice. But, you've demonstrated a significant talent over the course of the competition in taking on challenges. So, I'm mostly convinced that you could pull it off.

The Adventure
I've written many times before in my advice for RPG Superstar about five key elements which I believe are vital to good adventure design. In fact, I like to use them as a good barometer for assessing how well a proposed adventure will hold up in terms of providing a memorable, entertaining experience. Those five things boil down to: 1) a memorable villain whose goals are a legitimate threat which credibly prompts the PCs to act; 2) a unique and interesting set of locales which provide cool maps, memorable encounters, and innovative tactical/terrain situations; 3) a compelling and interesting plot wherein the villain's goals encroach on the PCs' world in a sustained, threatening manner where they get to become heroes at the center of attention throughout the adventure; 4) some interesting and entertaining minions and NPCs who have a credible reason for working with the villain, existing within the chosen locale(s), and create recurring problems for the PCs; and 5) an interesting, worthwhile reward which the PCs (and their players) will cherish for the rest of their adventuring careers. If you can achieve high marks in as many of those areas as possible in your design, you could have a winning idea on your hands. So, let's see how you measured up:

The Villain: We're looking at another coven of hags as a triumvirate of villains, but it goes the extra mile in holding forth an even more potent threat with the thunderbird. Your proposal spends a lot more time outlining how the PCs need to amass the alliances, knowledge, and resources to effectively combat the latter moreso than the former. And, in many ways, the thunderbird comes off sounding like it's the "villain" rather than the allied hags. So, your proposal doesn't quite do justice to the hags enough that they pervade the plot and the locale in a way that puts them front-and-center. Sometimes, as writers, we have a tendency to fall in love with a certain creature choice or NPC design and, like side characters in a novel, they can start to take on a larger role than you'd originally envisioned. I'm wondering if the thunderbird developed in a similar fashion as you were crafting this proposal. Regardless, I wish there was more "hag" in the villain presentation than "allied thunderbird."

The Locale(s): This is the real challenge. Your locale is about as widespread as it can get. The entire city is the element the PCs will truly invest in, as they'll have an entire sandbox of mini-locations within to explore. It plays a vital role in securing what they need to affect the outcome of the adventure. But, you've also got the Augur's Throne, and prior to that, the sunken locations with the storehouse of knowledge they need. These are all cool, but you've jammed in so many places that you're going to struggle to pull them all off when you get down to judiciously spending your map space and word-count. All in all, I'm intrigued by the idea of setting up the adventure as an "explore the city to get what you need to fight the villain(s)." Becaues of the ancient Lirgeni elements, It even has a bit of a Crucible of Chaos feel to it--the early adventure Wolfgang Baur penned which presented a crashed Shory city to explore--except, in this case, it's a flooded city instead. I like that element, but I'm just worried that you won't have the space to do it justice, because of how much you're depending on so many sandbox elements to sell it.

The Plot: This felt a bit more contrived at times than I'd have prefered. The basic premise for how and why the PCs get drawn into Hyrantam are okay, but a bit too convenient. The adventure proposal could use a stronger hook to truly invest the PCs in its outcome. What might sell it more strongly is if the PCs were venturing there to begin with, arriving as treasure-seekers of a particular Lirgeni artifact which brings them into contention with the coven. Having something like that in addition to the storm-wracked ship sinking off the coast and stranding the PCs in the city helps give them more reasons for going through the adventure than just the pleas of the locals asking for their help. That trick works for good-aligned PCs, but the neutral ones sometimes need a selfish reason to go along, and it's useful sometimes to examine your hooks with that in mind so you can present a variety.

From there, I like how the adventure plays out. You've got a nice organic flow happening with all the various locales within the city's sandbox where the PCs can garner resources and alliances to pull off the lofty effort to unseat the tyrant hags. I'm not as keen on how prominent the thunderbird elimination becomes such a focus. It might be better if that could be exchanged for a handful of creatures in service to the hags (see my comments under Minions, below) which are more CR-appropriate, but recurring in a way that the local inhabitants of Hyrantam fear them, but the PCs can capably handle them over and over again as they try to interfere with their efforts. That way, the hags come into focus much more strongly as the true villains and the thunderbird doesn't overshadow them so much. That might also free you up to define more knowledge and resources the PCs need to oppose the hags in the Augur's Throne which they reclaimed from the ancient Lirgeni...i.e., the PCs might need some artifact from that bygone civilization to access the Augur's Throne and face down the hags on their own terms.

The Minions: The minion in this adventure proposal is basically the thunderbird, but he's a bigger threat (individually) than the hags, and I think that's a misstep from an adventure design perspective. You could probably still pull it off regardless. And, if you're truly married to the idea, it'll be up to your developer to guide you on it if you get voted through as the winner. But, for me, I feel like the other creature encounters never quite establish a true lesser minion for the hags to use to exert their influence over the region. Even something as simple as a stormwracked gargoyle template would do wonders for giving them their own "flying monkeys" (a la The Wizard of Oz to harass the city and the PCs). Something like that would help punch this up in ways that would give the PCs a consistent lower level threat to cut through on their way to challenging the hags once they secure enough resources from the flooded city to do so.

The Reward: The reward is basically the jetstream bow, but, like Crystal, it doesn't feel iconic in a way that it'll stay in the PCs' magic item inventory beyond this adventure. To really punch it up, I think you need a different Lirgeni artifact for them to recover from the flooded city...something important that plays a role in moving the plot forward as an item they can use to access or influence the Augur's Throne...and yet, something that's so useful and cool that the PCs will want to identify with it by keeping it with them long after the adventure is over. A hard-won item like that is often its own reward, especially if it's got a legacy the PCs can learn, embrace, and renew by using it in the course of the adventure and beyond.

Conclusion
There's a lot to like here. Hags are a compelling, useful villain, but I think you undersold them a bit in comparison to the thunderbird and the greater threat it poses to the city. Like Adam, I fear you have bitten off more than you can deliver, but some people thought the same thing with my adventure proposal back in 2009 and I still had a clear enough vision and plan that I felt I could come through on it. Based on your performance throughout the competition, I think you're wired the same way, and I'd be curious to see how the final product would come out with the guidance of a Paizo developer.

So, all in all, I'm going to say that I DO RECOMMEND this adventure for consideration as the winning proposal for this round. It'll be up to the voters to decide how much your pitch and contest performance moves them. If you win, it'll take a sustained effort to truly bring to life the promise you've held forth. Trust, listen, and learn from your developer. But, if you don't win, I think you've demonstrated a significant enough freelancer skillset that you can make your mark in the industry if you want to give it a go. No matter how the voting comes out, more opportunities will come your way. You just have to make the most of them when they do. And that's why it's going to be more important what you do after RPG Superstar than during it...whether that's in writing this adventure for Paizo, or delivering a different awesome product for someone else.

My sincere two cents and best wishes on your future freelancing career,
--Neil

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Crystal! Welcome to the Final Round! This is it! An opportunity for you to pitch a (mostly) independent idea for an adventure, win over the voting public, and get a signed contract with Paizo to bring it to life. As someone who's lived that dream, I can tell you that it's a very, very cool experience. And, provided you apply all the lessons you've learned throughout the competition, you can use this contest as a platform for really getting your name--and your work--out there. So, relish the opportunity, soak in the feedback, and, whether or not you win it all outright, take the broader experience of RPG Superstar with you as you pursue whatever freelance opportunities come your way.

Based on prior years, you may know that I like to break my final round judging commentary into two halves. The first assesses your pitch...meaning, how well you sold your ideas within the proposal itself. I think it's important to take a look at that because it gives us a more complete sense of your vision and how well you're able to convey that to your developer (and the broader RPG community) to win them over and green light your work. It also offers a glimpse into how you'd structure your actual adventure, giving us a sense of your capabilities as a storyteller and how well you can tap into elements that will get people excited.

The second part of my assessment will dive into the proposed adventure and whether what you've presented here includes all the relevant pieces to hopefully make a great Pathfinder module. More than anything, that's really the goal here. While your pitch may demonstrate you've got the professional polish, insights, creative writing ability, and organizational skills to entrust you with this type of assignment, it's the core ideas of your adventure which will convince voters to select your proposal as the one they most want to purchase and play at their gaming tables.

So, with all that in mind, let's get down to business and see what you've proposed...

Feedback for: The Starpearl Tower

The Pitch
Okay. This is the part where you need to sell your proposal to us...which means, you need to write well enough to convince us you know what you're doing with strong, purposeful design choices--a skill you should realize by now plays an important role in pretty much everything you bring to the table if you want to stand out as a Superstar designer. This can include the underlying storytelling, pacing, and plot of your adventure; the choices you make with regards to the level requirement/CRs for various encounters and how they'll likely play out at the table; the number of maps you'll require for your chosen location(s); your sense of Golarion canon vs. how best to support the intellectual property of your publisher; your sense of scope and scale so you can fit everything into the required page-count/word-count; and so on. Basically, your adventure pitch should convince us you've got a good head on your shoulders when it comes to adventure design, and that you're the man Paizo (and the Paizo community) should trust with this opportunity.

Hopefully, the prior rounds of this year's competition (as well as what you've learned by following along in prior years) helped develop an understanding of these things for you. Personally, I think the best approach is to study what Paizo already does with their Pathfinder modules...i.e., how things are structured, how each adventure premise innovates around some new idea or theme, what kinds of limitations they put on you, and what kinds of opportunities they grant you as a writer/storyteller. Likewise, I believe it's important to study the winning adventure proposals from prior years of RPG Superstar to get a sense of how they "sold" the readers, judges, and voters. If you can pick up on all those elements and adapt your proposal accordingly, you'll be light-years ahead of most would-be designers in convincing folks to give you a chance.

So, the first thing I notice when I read your submission is the adventure's intended name. The Starpearl Tower. It avoids the traditional X of the Y title. And, it gives us an immediate idea of the presumed iconic location where it takes place...i.e., a "Starpearl tower." I like it. You're immediately causing the reader to wonder what a "starpearl" tower is like and what's so special about it. By including "star" and "pearl" in there, you're immediately tying together the sea and the nighttime sky, and you proposal goes on to live up to the imagery that the adventure's title conjures in the mind's eye. Well done.

In fact, naming is one of the most important elements in adventure design. That's because it's the first thing people are going to see when they come across your module on the shelves. Thus, your adventure's name needs to evoke a powerful image in the reader's mind so it makes them want to pick it up and read what lies behind the cover. One of the most useful tricks for selecting an evocative or even iconic name is to include either the name of your primary adventure location (e.g., The Temple of Elemental Evil, White Plume Mountain, Tomb of Horrors), or the name of your super-memorable, awe-inspiring villain (e.g., Queen of Spiders, Scourge of the Slave Lords, Crown of the Kobold King). The names of these adventures resonate because they draw upon the things your players will almost certainly remember and reminisce about after playing through them...i.e., the cool location where it took place, or the awesome villain they faced. If your adventure pitch can tap into a name that contains one or both of those things, you're on the right track. And, I think you succeeded here. For old school gamers, The Starpearl Tower could become as iconic as The Ghost Tower of Inverness if you play your cards right.

So what about the rest of the pitch? I think you presented very cleanly. Your lead-in summary wastes no time in telling us what it's about, who's involved, what's happening, and what's at stake. In fact, that's almost the same kind of rundown newspaper journalists are trained to use for the lead-in paragraphs of their columns. Hit the reader with the "who, what, when, and where" right up front. Then, once you've given them the basics, expound on them as you present the rest of your story. So, you're wise to take this approach. You hit your marks, and I'm interested to read on.

The rest of your pitch is just as solid from a structure standpoint. There's an adventure background section. You separated it out into appropriate chapters that help move the story along. You've got your new magic item, location, and monster. You've got a short list of ideas for getting the PCs involved (though I'd like to have something more definitive here). And, you've provided a decent conclusion/wrap-up to close things out. Structurally, you've put together a decent adventure pitch. From a content perspective, I'm also intrigued by the choices you've made. Hags are always great story movers when it comes to adventure opportunities. You can use them in a variety of ways, and your adventure hinges on the idea of introducing a new one with a "star hag." And, you've got the requisite changeling in danger as she starts hearing "the call" of her mother. It's a very fairy-tale-esque way of building an adventure premise, and it's a rock solid, proven tradition to draw upon.

The Adventure
I've written many times before in my advice for RPG Superstar about five key elements which I believe are vital to good adventure design. In fact, I like to use them as a good barometer for assessing how well a proposed adventure will hold up in terms of providing a memorable, entertaining experience. Those five things boil down to: 1) a memorable villain whose goals are a legitimate threat which credibly prompts the PCs to act; 2) a unique and interesting set of locales which provide cool maps, memorable encounters, and innovative tactical/terrain situations; 3) a compelling and interesting plot wherein the villain's goals encroach on the PCs' world in a sustained, threatening manner where they get to become heroes at the center of attention throughout the adventure; 4) some interesting and entertaining minions and NPCs who have a credible reason for working with the villain, existing within the chosen locale(s), and create recurring problems for the PCs; and 5) an interesting, worthwhile reward which the PCs (and their players) will cherish for the rest of their adventuring careers. If you can achieve high marks in as many of those areas as possible in your design, you could have a winning idea on your hands. So, let's see how you measured up:

The Villain: We're looking at an entire coven of hags as a triumvirate of villains, but it's the star hag that's calling the shots. This is a smart call. You're basically setting up a recurring theme of "hags" in both your villain and your minions (which I'll touch on later). And, their impacts can be felt across the entire plot. In fact, your main villian has a sense of evil about her that pervades the entire plotline. And, the corruption system demonstrates it even further. Nice touch.

The Locale(s): There's a fair bit of variety here. We start in the town of Jula, get some overland encounters and side caves, eventually find our way to the sea hag's lair, and then venture into the Starpearl Tower. It's a bit ambitious as you may run out of map space to do everything justice. But, from a storytelling perspective, the progression is solid and you've brought forth the promise of a compelling adventuring site with the tower at the end. I think it holds together, but your developer would have to guide you a bit in tweaking your outline to ensure everything can fit.

The Plot: I like that you give a sense of many different areas surrounding Jula that the PCs will get to interact with. Even the graveyard of ships has an eerie quality to it that comes across as a memorable opportunity. The corruption of the changeling also has a compelling plot to it so that the PCs are potentially racing against time to save Calla from herself. I think the plot could be made stronger if you included some encounters where the PCs can see evidence of her deteriorating psychology. Even having her in the final encounter alongside Velika, assisting her as another potential adversary the PCs have to face, might be a good touch...especially, if you give them multiple ways of undoing Calla rather than just slaying her. I think it's also great that the PCs get a chance to start taking apart the hag coven piece-by-piece. And, they get to acquire the necessary keys to open the normally insurmountable Starpearl Tower, giving them a very iconic location full of mystery to adventure through. You've got a lot of strong elements which collectively elevate the plot beyond just a "go here, do this, fight that, get XP."

The Minions: This could use a little more punching up, but in general, I like the additional hags as minions to Velika. And, as I mentioned earlier, Calla could even be another "hag" minion joining her mother at the end, depending on how the corruption plays out. But, aside from that, I think additional, recurring minions under the thumb of the hags would help...preferably something that can resurface again and again in various ways for the PCs to see their influence on the land, thereby giving the PCs another compelling reason to get involved.

The Reward: The reward is basically the starpearl in the adventure's title, and the PCs will need to acquire a couple of them to even venture inside and resolve the plot involving Calla and Velika. These items have some unique enough powers that they can live beyond the adventure itself, and you can envision the PCs cherishing them not only for their abilities, but also the continuing potential of using them as keys to the Starpearl Tower, possibly using it as a fortified base from which to have a lasting impact on the Sodden Lands. So, it's kind of like a double-reward as a wondrous magic item and a future landholding for the PCs.

Conclusion
There's a lot to like here. It may be more than you can deliver, but I'm intrigued. A big part of the adventure proposal round is demonstrating your ability to construct an interesting storyline that'll hook both the GM who reads it, and the players when they experience it. And, I think you've got enough elements here to accomplish that under the guidance of your developer. Special attention may be warranted to tie in the Starpearl Tower even more to the history of the Sodden Lands and give it a more important role in the campaign setting. And, some attention will likely need to be paid to the map count and monster adversaries (with their class levels).

But, all in all, I'm going to say that I DO RECOMMEND this adventure for consideration as the winning proposal for this round. It'll be up to the voters to decide how much your proposal moves them. And, if you win, it'll take a fair degree of collaboration with your developer to truly bring to life the promise you've held forth with this pitch. But, if you don't win, I think you've still got enough of the freelancer skillset to make a mark in the industry if you apply yourself. You've demonstrated those capabilities over the various rounds of the competition. So, no matter how the voting comes out, more opportunities may come your way. You just have to make the most of them.

My sincere two cents and best wishes on your future freelancing career,
--Neil

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Charlie! Welcome to the Final Round! This is it! An opportunity for you to pitch a (mostly) independent idea for an adventure, win over the voting public, and get a signed contract with Paizo to bring it to life. As someone who's lived that dream, I can tell you that it's a very, very cool experience. And, provided you apply all the lessons you've learned throughout the competition, you can use this contest as a platform for really getting your name--and your work--out there. So, relish the opportunity, soak in the feedback, and, whether or not you win it all outright, take the broader experience of RPG Superstar with you as you pursue whatever freelance opportunities come your way.

Based on prior years, you may know that I like to break my final round judging commentary into two halves. The first assesses your pitch...meaning, how well you sold your ideas within the proposal itself. I think it's important to take a look at that because it gives us a more complete sense of your vision and how well you're able to convey that to your developer (and the broader RPG community) to win them over and green light your work. It also offers a glimpse into how you'd structure your actual adventure, giving us a sense of your capabilities as a storyteller and how well you can tap into elements that will get people excited.

The second part of my assessment will dive into the proposed adventure and whether what you've presented here includes all the relevant pieces to hopefully make a great Pathfinder module. More than anything, that's really the goal here. While your pitch may demonstrate you've got the professional polish, insights, creative writing ability, and organizational skills to entrust you with this type of assignment, it's the core ideas of your adventure which will convince voters to select your proposal as the one they most want to purchase and play at their gaming tables.

So, with all that in mind, let's get down to business and see what you've proposed...

Feedback for: Dangers of the Drowned Garden

The Pitch
Okay. This is the part where you need to sell your proposal to us...which means, you need to write well enough to convince us you know what you're doing with strong, purposeful design choices--a skill you should realize by now plays an important role in pretty much everything you bring to the table if you want to stand out as a Superstar designer. This can include the underlying storytelling, pacing, and plot of your adventure; the choices you make with regards to the level requirement/CRs for various encounters and how they'll likely play out at the table; the number of maps you'll require for your chosen location(s); your sense of Golarion canon vs. how best to support the intellectual property of your publisher; your sense of scope and scale so you can fit everything into the required page-count/word-count; and so on. Basically, your adventure pitch should convince us you've got a good head on your shoulders when it comes to adventure design, and that you're the man Paizo (and the Paizo community) should trust with this opportunity.

Hopefully, the prior rounds of this year's competition (as well as what you've learned by following along in prior years) helped develop an understanding of these things for you. Personally, I think the best approach is to study what Paizo already does with their Pathfinder modules...i.e., how things are structured, how each adventure premise innovates around some new idea or theme, what kinds of limitations they put on you, and what kinds of opportunities they grant you as a writer/storyteller. Likewise, I believe it's important to study the winning adventure proposals from prior years of RPG Superstar to get a sense of how they "sold" the readers, judges, and voters. If you can pick up on all those elements and adapt your proposal accordingly, you'll be light-years ahead of most would-be designers in convincing folks to give you a chance.

So, the first thing I notice when I read your submission is the adventure's intended name. Dangers of the Drowned Garden. It aims for the traditional X of the Y title. And, it gives us an idea of the presumed iconic location where it takes place...i.e., a "drowned garden." So, we should have an idea that we're looking an adventure with some potential water-based elements to it. I'm not as sold on the generic "Dangers" part of the title, as it's kind of nebulous and not quite as inspiring, but I assume you're reaching for that to set up a slight degree of alliteration. It's not a plus or a minus, necessarily. I'm just left thinking it could be punched up a bit further, but it'll do.

Regardless, naming is actually one of the most important elements in adventure design. That's because it's the first thing people are going to see when they come across your module on the shelves. Thus, your adventure's name needs to evoke a powerful image in the reader's mind so it makes them want to pick it up and read what lies behind the cover. One of the most useful tricks for selecting an evocative or even iconic name is to include either the name of your primary adventure location (e.g., The Temple of Elemental Evil, White Plume Mountain, Tomb of Horrors), or the name of your super-memorable, awe-inspiring villain (e.g., Queen of Spiders, Scourge of the Slave Lords, Crown of the Kobold King). The names of these adventures resonate because they draw upon the things your players will almost certainly remember and reminisce about after playing through them...i.e., the cool location where it took place, or the awesome villain they faced. If your adventure pitch can tap into a name that contains one or both of those things, you're on the right track.

So what about the rest of the pitch? I think you presented it cleanly enough. I like your lead-in summary. In some ways, I like "The Drowned Garden of Yamasa" as a potential adventure name more than Dangers of the Drowned Garden, since it includes the name of the adventuring location by expanding it to touch on the geographical area of Golarion that's at play. But burning acid rain is a unique threat to bring bear as an unnatural catastrophe for the PCs to investigate. So, I'm interested to read on.

You've used an appropriate storytelling structure. There's an adventure background section. The adventure is separated out into appropriate chapters that help move the story along. You've got your new magic item and monster. You've included a couple of different ways the adventure could go with the epic finale. And, you've provided a decent conclusion/wrap-up to close things out. Structurally, you've put together a decent adventure pitch. From a content perspective, the details are a little more concerning. For the proposed APL (5th level characters reaching 8th by the end), some of the monster and NPC adversaries might overreach a bit...especially the old black dragon. So, logistically, I've got a raised eyebrow, and I'm left wondering if you've thought everything through on how to deliver a playable adventure for the gaming table.

The Adventure
I've written many times before in my advice for RPG Superstar about five key elements which I believe are vital to good adventure design. In fact, I like to use them as a good barometer for assessing how well a proposed adventure will hold up in terms of providing a memorable, entertaining experience. Those five things boil down to: 1) a memorable villain whose goals are a legitimate threat which credibly prompts the PCs to act; 2) a unique and interesting set of locales which provide cool maps, memorable encounters, and innovative tactical/terrain situations; 3) a compelling and interesting plot wherein the villain's goals encroach on the PCs' world in a sustained, threatening manner where they get to become heroes at the center of attention throughout the adventure; 4) some interesting and entertaining minions and NPCs who have a credible reason for working with the villain, existing within the chosen locale(s), and create recurring problems for the PCs; and 5) an interesting, worthwhile reward which the PCs (and their players) will cherish for the rest of their adventuring careers. If you can achieve high marks in as many of those areas as possible in your design, you could have a winning idea on your hands. So, let's see how you measured up:

The Villain: We're looking at a shoggti qlippoth as the true power behind the region's troubles, but I didn't really get a sense of the villain "pervading" the overall plot or adventuring location. Instead, this qlippoth is just an agent of chaos, putting in motion a ritual to bring acid rain down on a region that's already pretty miserable. Perhaps worse, there's not a lot that comes across as all that memorable or unique about him and the threat he poses. At least in how you've described him in pitching your adventure, I don't have a takeaway in reading it that tells me, "Now there's a competent, compelling villain that the players will remember long after this adventure is run." And that's unfortunate. There's also a pseudo-secondary villain with Graldar as the marsh giant cleric (of Dagon?), and he's featured in the final battle, but so is the qlippoth...so, it's kind of confusing and the PCs may never get a true sense of the main villain to focus on.

The Locale(s): Most of this adventure seems focused on the titular "Drowned Garden" by taking the PCs through three distinct levels of the structure the gnomes built. I don't know about you, but when I think "gnomes" I don't tend to imagine large, expansive structures wherein marsh giants and an old black dragon and a shoggti qlippoth are going to have lots of room to co-exist. It just seems mismatched and less "thought through" as a result. Or, put another way, it starts to break down my "willing suspension of disbelief" so I can simply sit back and enjoy the story as it plays out in a credible location/situation.

The Plot: I wanted to like the proposed storyline, but there seemed like a lot of lost opportunities and elements which didn't seem to synergize as well as they could. From a storytelling perspective, the best adventure plots start with a compelling opening "scene" and then follow on with further scenes that grow organically along the way. They might seem coincidental at times (which can strain credibility). But, as long as you connect them up with one another in ways where they contribute to the final outcome and the myriad twists and turns the PCs could experience along the way, you'll have layered it in such a fashion that the sum of the parts become greater than the whole, because they're all playing off one another. There's not as much of that happening here as I'd like to see. The opening hook feels contrived...i.e., acid storm blows through, PCs experience the terror of the villagers, and Father Heveril becomes their quest-giver. I've known lots of home campaigns that got started on a similar premise, but it's admittedly weaker than you'd want in a published product. It needs a stronger experience to really hook the PCs into what's happening. Make it personal for them. Give a variety of equally compelling reasons for the various PCs to want to get involved. This needs something stronger.

As the plot continues, the acid-scarred cannibal cult is an intriguing element. It seems odd that they've already developed a cult to use the acid in a ritual, as I got the sense that the acid storms were more of a recent thing, and it seemed like the cannibals have been doing the scarification for awhile if they've got an entire cult that's developed around it. This adversary would be stronger if you wove them into the adventure as more than just a one-time encounter situation. If they were directly tied to the qlippoth, for instance, in a manner where they were worshiping it as a form of appeasement and then carrying out its will in a more extended way than just the acid storms, I think it would sell the threat in a much bigger way...even moreso if the acid rain served as a harbinger of their raids on local villages. Have them also posing a threat to trade and other interests in the Sodden Lands, and you've suddenly got a more compelling reason for the PCs to start looking into this problem...and at the urging of more sponsors than just Father Heveril.

We go further along and the gray render seemed uninspired to me. It's just an encounter involving a gray render with the added "I lost my pet frogs" to make it stand out. It's great that it's a potential "information giver" but I suspect every part that encountered a raging render would either stay out of its way or put it down. Taking the time to calm it, put its pets to rest, and then converse with it, seems unlikely. So, it's kind of a misplaced encounter. A fight with a gray render could work just fine. Or, an encounter with someone who can help the PCs learn about the missing black dragon could work fine. Mixing them together doesn't harmonize in a way that's compelling and memorable, because it's more likely it'll be an "either/or" situation in terms of combat and roleplay rather than an "and" situation.

I do like the plot involving the ghosts, even if the use of the gnomes feels a bit weird (as Daigle pointed out), and I like the klefnim, too. The Mossrock Gang of merrows is also interesting, and seem like they could be memorable. Just having them pressed into Graldar's service feels less inspired, though. I wish there were another story element (or thread) at play here that the PCs could leverage to create further impacts on the adventure's outcome. I came away feeling that way about a lot of the creatures the PCs are set to encounter, including Greygill. They aren't arranged in the adventure proposal in a way that does them justice in terms of supporting the adventure plot.

The Minions: Ideally, I think the acid-scarred cannibals would make for the most interesting minions. Place Graldar as the qlippoth's lieutenant exerting some degree of enforcement over them, and keep elements like the Mossrock Gang as a competing player in the region rather than another ally. The bottom line here for me is that there's no clear, identifiable group of minions that's going to feature over and over again. Technically, the marsh giants could fill that role, but they're not played up a way that helps demonstrate their use throughout the plot to move the storytelling in a meaningful way that supports the primary villain. So, the adventure proposal hasn't focused the lens well enough on this component to fully sell it for me. That said, I do like many of the individual component monsters you've identified as possible encounters. I just think they need to be layered into the proposal in a different way to really sell their inclusion.

The Reward: I didn't really come away with a sense of an iconic reward that felt unique to this adventure. The shield of storm changing may have been meant to fill that role, but it's not tied into the adventure in a way that highlights the plot or makes the villain even more compelling. So, I'd have liked to see something more here.

Conclusion
There are glimmers of potentially cool elements woven into this adventure proposal, but it think they don't go quite far enough. Though technically proficient and structurally sound, I'm also unsure the pitch is enough to sell it. The villain and plot aren't quite compelling enough to have me on the edge of my seat in anticipation of how the final product would present them. The locale is a bit too self-contained and didn't give a credible sense of including so many elements in the single Drowned Garden, desipte the three layers of the "dungeon" involved. Though there are plenty of different adversaries, there didn't really seem to be a recurring group of minions connected heavily enough to the villain and carrying out the plot. And the reward for the PCs getting involved probably isn't anything that's going to resonate with the players after the adventure is over.

So, all in all, I'm going to have to say that I DO NOT RECOMMEND this adventure as the winning proposal for this round. That's not to say that your freelancer skillset is lacking. You've already demonstrated your capabilities in that regard over the entire competition. Instead, this particular proposal just doesn't quite bring it altogether in a way that wins me over. Regardless, more opportunities should come your way if you seek them out. It's more important what you do after RPG Superstar than during it. And, no matter how the voting comes out, you'll be entering that phase just like anyone else. So, make the most of it.

My sincere two cents and best wishes on your future freelancing career,
--Neil

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Nick Wasko wrote:
...and the caliber of the competition proved much more intimidating than the judges' critiques.

I can see I'm going to have to pick up my game for this final round. ;)

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Congrats to all of you!

Best wishes to the Top 8 who'll hopefully find further opportunities outside of RPG Superstar. Wear that bling proudly and go pursue whatever freelance you can pick up.

And condolences/congratulations to the Top 4 who are about to be put through the paces of the most grueling, stressful round of the competition. If this were a marathon, this is the point where you'd be cresting the hill with the finish line in view. Time to summon all the energy you have left and push yourself to finish strong!

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Qstor wrote:
Is the Assimilation Strain available for order for folks that missed the Kickstarter? Is there more background material anywhere?

Once we get To Worlds Unknown out the door, The Assimilation Strain will become available to the general public. That'll start with the PDF version of the adventure, and I believe Jason has plans on providing a print version, as well...possibly just as print-on-demand, but I know he wants print copies for PaizoCon, and hopefully GenCon, too, alongside eventual print copies of To Worlds Unknown.

As for folks who missed the Kickstarter still jumping on-board, it's possible Jason may still be taking PayPal orders if you want to do that. He left that open for awhile after the Kickstarter ended, and we even took some sign-ups at GenCon back in August. So, that might be an option for you, too.

And, lastly, there's definitely more background material available in the Players' Guide for the overall Legendary Planet Adventure Path. We've released that to Kickstarter backers already, as well. And, if you're able to get on-board for the full campaign as part of the Kickstarter fulfillment, that would be provided along with your copy of The Assimilation Strain.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Mark Griffin wrote:
Anyone else have the feeling that somewhere, someone out there is judging you?

I'm strangely free of that sensation.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Taylor Hubler wrote:
I have a question for those who are against workshopping: Assuming that we cannot eliminate workshopping competely, in what ways can we shape the nature of it to benefit the contest and make it more acceptable to a wider range of voters? Did I miss anything above in my own suggestion?

Let me make something clear about my position. I'm not suggesting that workshopping as a means of improving yourself as a designer is wrong. What I'm suggesting is that workshopping your actual round-by-round submissions is wrong. Additionally, that's only my opinion as a former-contestant and a guest judge, not an actual Paizo employee.

I think all the insights and educational benefits you're seeking from a workshop can be done outside the competition to improve yourself rather than any specific design/submission for RPG Superstar. You've got all year-long to do that as much as you want. But, during the competition, I think you're designing it by committee if you're sharing your work for the purposes of soliciting input and suggestions on how to improve it beyond what your own imagination and learned skills can provide you.

But, as always, that's just my two cents,
--Neil

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

I believe the mythic monster product releases are winding down as Jason ratchets up the new relationships product line. That doesn't mean that an occasional adventure...or something like our Legendary Planet Adventure Path (which uses a bit of mythic content)...might not create another new mythic monster along the way. So, the potential is there for the mythic monster line-up to continue to grow...just in a smaller way than the torrent we released over the past several months and Mythic Mania Kickstarter.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

4 people marked this as a favorite.

In the interests of sharing my process, during RPG Superstar 2009, I only had two people I consulted on my idea. Never my submission. In essence, I described what I was thinking about doing with one gamer friend who's never done design work professionally or even semi-pro as a freelancer. He was a player in my home campaign for nearly 6 years and I simply trusted his judgment on what might be a compelling, interesting idea to generate excitement in an everyday gamer (and voter). I never showed him my actual submission. We only ever talked in terms of an idea I had, and he only ever saw the end result when it became available for the voters.

The second person I occasionally consulted was my wife...a total non-gamer. But, I figured if I could discuss my idea with her and it piqued her interest, as well, I was potentially onto something that might attract new gamers in addition to veteran gamers (such as my friend, above). And that's it. No true workshopping. Just reactive feedback to the ideas I had under consideration and then a bit of discussion to help me discern the strongest of them before getting down to work.

From there, I always did the writeup and/or mechanical tinkering for my designs on my own. I tightened it up as best as I could, applying my limited-but-growing understanding of the rules, and then I summoned as much courage as I could and submitted it. From there, the true "workshopping" I received came from the comments people posted in the eventual submission thread, and that's why I always paid such close attention to it. I'd tweak my approach round-by-round to win them over as voters with the next design, shoring up weaknesses as they were identified, or playing to strengths based on what people seemed to really like.

So, call me biased or self-promoting or hardcore, but I think that's a far better method of building yourself into a Superstar designer than workshopping it with a group. To me, the latter is something you can do as an educational process outside the competition. But, to do it during the competition...i.e., to workshop by sharing your full submission with a group of fellow designers (both experienced in RPGSS or still trying to get their foot in the door)...isn't reflective of your own ability. It's a combination of yours and theirs. Sure, there are some projects and freelancing guilds who'll combine forces in order to improve themselves like that. And, you're always going to have a developer and editor cleaning up whatever work you eventually turnover in the industry. But, for RPG Superstar...to discern the best of the best...I like knowing when something hasn't been workshopped and it only passed through a single designer's hands in terms of the crafting of it.

But that's just my two cents,
--Neil

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

7 people marked this as a favorite.
The Raven Black wrote:
I already had trouble with keeping my review of the monster unpolluted by my own design ideas. I was easily finding ways to improve the monster I was reviewing but I adamantly did not want to mix these ideas with those of the contestant.

This has been my concern with workshopping from the very beginning. It's one thing to have a "sounding board" to bounce ideas off of and get reactions to your work, but "workshopping" is more of a group-design concept. Workshopping (at least in the literary sense) generally involves sharing your work and then getting both feedback and concrete suggestions on how to improve it. When Sean, Clark, Ryan, and I did the RPG Superstar panel discussions at PaizoCon, there would inevitably be a question about getting design feedback from others before submitting to the contest. Clark would always caution against going too far with that. Otherwise, was the design output truly yours or was it a reflection of how well you could participate in a group design? While group design has its place (if you're working in-house for a publisher or on a group project), RPG Superstar is mostly seeking to identify heretofore unknown talent at an individual level. So, with that principle in mind, competitors and potential workshoppers need to make sure the end result is reflective of the individual's Superstar-caliber talent. If you want to learn and educate yourself further on different kinds of designs, the best place for that is workshopping ideas outside of the competition (e.g., in the Blazing 9 thread, etc.), and then, when the contest rolls around, have someone who can give you their reactions to your design moreso than directions on how to improve it. Otherwise, they're redesigning your item for you, and it's not necessarily indicative of what you can do on your own. And, if you're always relying on others to do that kind of stuff for you, you're not necessarily stretching yourself the way you need to in order to become a Superstar designer which a publisher can rely on for major project assignments.

But that's just my two cents,
--Neil

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

James Jacobs wrote:
Daniel Yeatman wrote:
I'm rather certain that Nagaji's eyes are unblinking. If that's the case, what does it look like when they're asleep? And could they theoretically get a penalty to avoid the effects of light based spells, or gaze attacks?
I'm pretty sure that nagaji can blink. Unless we've said otherwise in print, they can blink. If they DIDN'T blink, then that would indeed imply some sort of game mechanic versus certain things... but then again, we don't give snakes those mechanics, so maybe it doesn't matter.

Hopefully helpful post...

The Advanced Race Guide wrote:
The nagaji are a race of ophidian humanoids with scaled skin that mimics the dramatic appearance of true nagas. Like serpents, they have forked tongues and lidless eyes, giving them an unblinking gaze that most other races find unnerving.

And, to add a question in the spirit of the thread...

How's the weather in Seattle?

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Folks, I'm going to chime in here. Not because I wish to be overly critical or harsh, but, if you're in this competition to potentially write for Paizo (or any other Pathfinder-compatible third-party publisher down the road) as a freelancer (and, in my opinion, you really should be, as that's certainly the purpose behind why Paizo runs this competition), then you really need to start investing in the tools and knowledge which will allow you to do it in a professional, responsible, and prepared manner.

So, if you don't own the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary (or any other book you might need to eventually reference), why not purchase it? Even if you can't afford (or wait for) the hardcover version, go buy the much less expensive PDF. You'll have it in your hands virtually right away, and you'll be able to easily reference it for your work both now and later.

In fact, if you're going to give this a serious go (whether in the RPGSS competition, working for Paizo, or as a freelancer for any Pathfinder-compatible third-party publisher), you really need to make sure that you spend the time both acquiring and immersing yourself in their rulebooks and their campaign setting. It's always important to know your audience, but it's even more important to know your publisher. And, in my opinion, relying on others to provide that insight and knowledge for you, is an unnecessary and ill-advised crutch.

But that's just my two cents,
--Neil

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Adam Daigle wrote:
Aura aura of cotton candy (30 ft., DC 21)

So...to reach the creature generating this "aura" you have to eat your way through 30 feet of cotton candy, right? By doing so, I can only assume you have to make a DC 21 Fortitude save or collapse in a sugar coma at its feet. ;)

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
I like the name -- though a search for malkin brings up LOTS of Michelle Malkin hits, so I'm tempted to ding you for that.
Kiel Howell wrote:
The name is serviceable. I'm thinking it is using the root "mal" for bad and kin making this some sort of bad band of things.

I assumed it was more of a play on "graymalkin" which even from Shakespeare's Macbeth was meant to be a gray cat. In British dialect, malkin generally means a "cat," though it's also a less complimentary term for a woman that sleeps around a lot.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Hey, BJ...just FYI...I provided a full commentary/feedback for your monster submission despite the DQ. I've encouraged the other judges to do the same, and I've asked that they make it available to you however they can. FWIW, if everything had been in order, I'd probably have recommended it to advance to the next round.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
(I can't tell Neil if you thought they weren't included in the curse's effects or you thought they too should be called out specifically.)

The latter.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Lucus Palosaari wrote:
An insightful wall-of-text as usual :D

Hah! That's just the equivalent of a single brick in the wall, Lucus. ;)

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Garrett Guillotte wrote:
I don't follow how you can say this in defense of this concept without a masculine form.

Because there are also other creatures who can be villains in the game which are decidedly always masculine. My point is that it's okay for a particular monster to always be female (like a dryad, for instance). And, it's okay for a particular monster or villain to be uniquely masculine, as well.

Garrett Guillotte wrote:
By allowing for a masculine matianak, it does exactly what you say: it creates equally valid feminine and masculine villains.

That's not what I'm saying. You're taking that to mean that each and every creature has to have a valid masculine and feminine form. I'm not saying that. I'm saying such can exist in two, separate, single-gender creatures. There's no shortage of opportunities to demonstrate that across the breadth of all the various bestiaries both as single-gender monsters and dual gender monsters.

Garrett Guillotte wrote:
(Paizo also trends toward changing real-world lore in favor of enabling more diverse options; succubi taking male forms on Golarion comes to mind as an example.

I'll be a dissenter on that choice. For me, a succubus is female, and an incubus is male. Usually. Their change shape ability as alter self can let them swap genders if they wish, of course.

Garrett Guillotte wrote:
This is my top entry for the round. It's got all the hallmarks of a Paizo creature, from its roots in real-world lore to clever, subversive tactical abilities that build on existing mechanics.

And I recommended it, as well. ;)

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Gabriel Almer wrote:

I don't think it is a presentation error.

There are several examples for monsters with the Quicken Spell-like Ability feat in the Bestiary (Efreeti, Balor, Pit Find), and they all follow the same format (spell-like ability at will, quickened SLA 3/day).

Ahhh...you're quite right. That's the effect of Quicken Spell-Like Ability. It takes an existing SLA and grants it as a quickened version of itself, but only at 3 times/day. It struck me as odd, so I commented on it, but the design is accurate. I retract that statement. So, voters please disregard that comment.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Stephen Stack wrote:
Neil, while I think you make many good points regarding the way this creature draws on folklore, I think this specific advice is a particularly tired cliche to avoid.

We can agree to disagree then. While it may be a common trope, it's common for a reason across many different mythologies and the folklore of multiple different cultures. The feminine-as-deceptive trope doesn't simply rely on harmful stereotypes. Feminine villains are just as valid as masculine ones. And, if you're going to reach for a cryptid, my advice is to stay as true to its origin as you possibly can, thereby giving it life and credence in the game. If you want to define a trope-busting monster and have a masculine-as-deceptive theme, start with something uniquely new and blaze your own trail. I'd give high marks for that just as much as breathing life into something straight out of folklore legend.

But that's just my two cents,
--Neil

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Mark Griffin wrote:
If at some point my tv turns to static and Neil crawls out of it, I'm quitting Superstar for good.
Dang, there goes my "Round 4 Twist" plans. :P

What? Man... :/

::ceases concentration on major image::
::dismisses ethereal jaunt::

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

3 people marked this as a favorite.

It's useful to hear opinions from all corners, though. Believe me, you'll never satisfy your entire audience. At best, you'll just satisfy most of them, and, more likely, you'll satisfy certain corners of the gaming community while leaving others unfulfilled. And that's because, certain playstyles (and hence, certain expectations) can wind up clashing. So, as a designer, it's good to hear those who are evaluating your work according to their own internalized standards. Then, it's up to you to decide if those standards...and accompanying opinions...have value in adjusting or guiding your future work. If they don't, blaze your own trail and set a new standard for others to follow and be measured against.

As for the original question..."How are you voting?"...I still come at it from the perspective of voting for the designer moreso than just the monster. Yes, that usually goes hand-in-hand with with the best design for the round, but sometimes you have to look beyond that and evaluate who you want to see move forward. And, I often base that on "body of work" in addition to the current round's assignment. That's because RPG Superstar isn't simply a series of sprints. It's more like a multi-day, segmented race like a Tour de France. Those who turn in an incredible time on one day (with their initial submission) may get to start out with an early lead the following day. And, if they fall behind a little on their run (or assignment), it allows the others to catch up. In the end, though, they're all racing for that finish line, and it's their collected time that really determines the winner.

But that's just my two cents,
--Neil

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

2 people marked this as a favorite.

After so many new monster reviews this weekend, I'm about flowed out right now. But, I should be bringing some heat later this week as I push through some more development for Legendary Games.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Rich Malena wrote:
On the other hand, if selected RPG professionals didn't like a map, I felt like I had to come up with a pretty good reason why I liked it before I should even consider giving it a vote. That's basically the reason why they're judging, right?

Quoted for truth.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:

The rule is "Native to Golarion."

Use that as your guideline.

Now comes that crucial moment where a freelancer is faced with having to correctly interpret the guidelines as given by their developer. Yet another test in the crucible of RPG Superstar. ;)

1 to 50 of 5,777 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | next > last >>

©2002–2015 Paizo Inc.®. Need help? Email customer.service@paizo.com or call 425-250-0800 during our business hours: Monday–Friday, 10 AM–5 PM Pacific Time. View our privacy policy. Paizo Inc., Paizo, the Paizo golem logo, Pathfinder, the Pathfinder logo, Pathfinder Society, GameMastery, and Planet Stories are registered trademarks of Paizo Inc., and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Pathfinder Player Companion, Pathfinder Modules, Pathfinder Tales, Pathfinder Battles, Pathfinder Online, PaizoCon, RPG Superstar, The Golem's Got It, Titanic Games, the Titanic logo, and the Planet Stories planet logo are trademarks of Paizo Inc. Dungeons & Dragons, Dragon, Dungeon, and Polyhedron are registered trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., and have been used by Paizo Inc. under license. Most product names are trademarks owned or used under license by the companies that publish those products; use of such names without mention of trademark status should not be construed as a challenge to such status.