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Lord-Mayor Haldmeer Grobaras

Owen K. C. Stephens's page

Modules Overlord. Goblin Squad Member. Pathfinder Society Member. 3,835 posts (3,839 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 alias.


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Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

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I understand it's nerve wracking, but so is a lot of what a freelancer has to do. I don't want to add training wheels to a contest designed to find a Superstar writer. In fact, I am a big proponent of making things harder, so anyone who makes it to the final four knows they have what it takes to be a freelance writer.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

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There are lots of different types of maps we use. Encounter Maps. Dungeon maps (which are really just big encounter maps). Overland maps. City maps. Region maps.
All of them are important. All of them take practice, and being able to do any of them is a very useful skill. Heck, if you prove you can draw an awesome city map (even if it's just clear and evocative line art we'd still need to send to a professional cartographer), there's a good chance Mark Moreland would hire you to do some eventually.

When it comes time to talk about the specifics of the next round, I'll absolutely give folks guidance on what is and isn't desired and acceptable.

Until then?

I recommend you practice drawing them all. :D

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

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Moik wrote:
As an example, I'm one of those cases. If for some reason I do manage to end up advancing, if I get as far as the Adventure round I'll feel guilty for eating up a spot because I've never played a pre-fab module. My lack of familiarity with them pretty much insures a failure when on a deadline.

With the deadlines, range of challenges, and competition we have this year, I'm happy to work with whoever wins starting the week after the contest to ensure we have a process in place to get through the actual work of designing an adventure.

I already have significant thoughts on the subject, to be honest. It's still a big leap, but I am convinced anyone who wins this can make it.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

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Tian Xia Fighting Muffins.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

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We're like to DQ an item if it's word count, the wrong item type (by which I mean it is actually not a suit of armor, shield, ring, rod, or staff, rather than WIiABM- Wondrous Item in All But Name), or some other amazingly obvious problem (if it violated our community standard for example, which I haven't seen yet but that doesn't mean it couldn't happen) or written for the wrong game system (or so badly formatted that there's no evidence that is isn't written for a different game system, and we have had one or two of those).

We might decide to DQ a WIiABN if a consensus of round 1 judges agreed it was a violation -- a magic sword with no magic sword abilities that happens to turn into a flying carpet, for example -- but that's more rare.

But no, there is no formal DQ notification process, at least in part because we're doing blind judging, and maybe a little because sadly that is also often part of the freelancing experience.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

Jacob Trier wrote:
Well...it IS named "Top 32: Create a Map". So some kind of mapping is probably not an unreasonable thing to expect. :-)

No comment.

:D

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

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Yes, Round 2 has a 3-day window. Welcome to the world of freelance!

That said, we may announce how the rules will work for that round before that (though certainly not until January sometime)

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

Le Petite Mort wrote:
Can I withdraw my submission? After reading a bit more on the board, I realize that I misunderstood virtually every element of this challenge.

If you really wish to withdraw, we can do that. Email contest@paizo.com, and we'll help you with that.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

I'm actually living in Kent, not far from the AFK Eatery and Elixirs, so I don't have to cross the bridge to get to Redmond. It IS, however, a 45-55 minute commute most days, and 90 minutes on a bad day.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

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Kiraya TiDrekan wrote:

Just browsing through the various discussions, I'm noticing there are a lot of first time entrants this time around.

I'm curious just how many of us there are.

And why...

I am ALSO curious about this!

Kiraya TiDrekan wrote:
For me, personally, this was the first year that I had both time and opportunity. The first round twist was icing. :D

Thanks for sharing!

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

So, all the submissions for round 1 of RPG Superstar 2015 that are going to get considered are now in! Here’s some next steps.
1. STILL DON’T TALK ABOUT YOUR ITEM. Wait until the Top 32 are announced, on January 20th.
2. Look for the early voting to begin. That’ll be this Thursday!
3. Make a map! No, we don’t have the rules posted for that yet, and you likely won’t be making a map you’ll submit. But the experience is good for you! Look at what was turned over for various “Encounter” rounds in previous years, and use those as your guides for now.
4. Feel free to talk about the experience in GENERIC terms, and keep the community going. You don’t want to risk revealing your item or DQing yourself, but you could certainly share items you didn’t submit and your thoughts on the new format.
5. Enjoy the holidays!

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

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cwslyclgh wrote:
Wait he sleeps in his car?

Not at night, but during my commute? Different question.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

Good points from you both.

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A little over two hours to go...

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

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Nickolas Floyd wrote:
I finally submitted. Instant regret. Should have submitted the other item.

"Sender's Remorse" is pretty common at all levels of game writing. A project's deadline is always at some point, and it's not unusual for me to look at something of mine that's already in print and think "Oh, I should have done this instead."

You submitted. That means you're already putting yourself in pretty rarified company. Congratulations!

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

Certainly I would't disqualify an item for bad pricing. It may impact my opinion of it... but again only in a few specific cases (such as wildly inaccuracy and Mark's "obvious error" category). In general a magic item that is interesting, well-written, clear, and uses solid rules is going to have my attention even if I find myself thinking "I'm going to have to adjust that price..."

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

Not in particular, I just don't want to absorb bandwidth on it with less than 24 hours to deadline for submission. :)

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

We'll cover voting sometime after the submission period ends (which is tomorrow, at 2pm). There's no voting open just yet.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

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As a policy, I do not share private email, even with names redacted. I know a lot of VERY smart people, and some folks have distinctive writing patterns. The best way for me to make sure I never expose communication intended to be private. I actually take that sort of thing very seriously.

I can ask if anyone who sent me some feels like having it anonymously shared, in which case I'd be fine with it. I've been surprised what people were willing for me to post in the past. :)

That said, Doc_Outlands is not too far off the mark of many of them.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

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Yay, hate cookies!
MMmmmmm. Dark Side Chocolate. :P

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

A FULL set?

That's cool. :)

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

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Clay Clouser wrote:
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:


Thanks for not murdering me in my sleep for invalidating the wondrous item you had ready-to-go. :)
I feel like this might need a "yet" at the end. Luckily, I didn't do any prep this year to make it harder on myself. but I bet some people are super happy with you ;)

I have received a few of the most amazingly polite hate mail. :D

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

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As we near the last 24 hours of the submissions process (ending TOMORROW, 2pm PST)I want to reach out to contestants and people preparing to be contestants for a moment, and say: thanks.

Thanks for coming onto the boards and creating a helpful, encouraging community for everyone to enjoy and learn from.
Thanks for applying your creativity to the benefit of this game I love.
Thanks for not murdering me in my sleep for invalidating the wondrous item you had ready-to-go. :)

And, most of all, thanks for having the courage to release your creation into the wild to see if it survives. Although I've never been eligible for Superstar, I know what it's like to put your favorite ideas up for scrutiny. It's not easy. It takes courage and conviction, and I'm constantly impressed by how professionally Paizo fans treat this event.

As a gamer and a fellow creative, and as the Host:
Seriously. Thanks.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

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Andrew Marlowe wrote:
Go read the categories in the core rules, if you find intelligent items or artifacts among the weapons, armor, shields, rings, rods or staves sections then they are fair game.

That's a good general rule.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

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I will say that if someone hit top 8 in any year, even if it is the end of entering Superstar it should just be the BEGINNING of working on a freelance career, if that's what is desired. Between Wayfinder, 3pp, blogs, and the opportunity to post things in the forums for fan feedback there are tons of ways to move forward once you have proof you're a cut above the pack, even if you aren't getting picked for Paizo projects yet. :)

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

JJ Jordan wrote:
Interesting. I wasn't aware that the judges could read the items as they come in. I wonder, does that give earlier entries an advantage or a disadvantage?

It does neither.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

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Covent wrote:
I am putting money on greater invisibility rings, that are cursed...

Movie stars always get more attention. :P

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Neil Spicer wrote:

But that's just my two cents,

--Neil

Worth significantly more than that. :)

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

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mechaPoet wrote:
To be fair, shields are basically armor. So much so that there was some question as to whether they were legal entries

As kind as it is of you to try to give some coverage, I don't think the person who made the official ruling that there really are 6 categories, and listed them, can really use that to cover a simple and glaringly obvious blunder.

It's okay, people make mistakes. I'm happy to point to this one, say "mea culpa," and use it as a teaching moment. :)

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

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Yep... I posted at the end of a looooong day and got basic math wrong.
Consider this a lesson. Don't post something important (like, say, a contest entry) at the end of a long day. Put it down, get some rest, go back over it the next day.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

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Obviously I'll talk about this more when the time comes, but as generic freelancer map turnover advice for any situation:

1. EVERYTHING Liz just said.
2. Whatever the rules are, whatever you decide to make as a map - make sure it's something that justifies having a map. Maps take up space in a product, and they cost money. A map of a region you are going to have multiple encounters in is useful -- it tells the GM and players where encounters are in relation to each other. A map of a vast forest with a single dot in the middle indicating where a single encounter takes place is mostly a waste -- there's no need to have a map rather than a line that says "thirty miles into the forest..."
Similarly, a fight in an empty square barn doesn't need a map. Everyone can draw a rough square. A fight in a barn with two open lofts, some traps in a pile of hay, prisoners tied up in a stall, and two block-and-tackle rigs with wicked hooks you can swing at foes or climb to get to the second level might need a map.
3. Clarity. Artistic talent is not a requirement for a freelancer map turnover. Clarity is. A series of irregular squiggles in green ink you hope we recognize as trees is bad. A specific icon for trees you use consistently, and have a key or note telling use what it is? That's good.
4. Don't assume cartographers will add detail. Your details need not be pretty, but they need to be clear and they need to be complete. If you don't say a tavern has windows, and where they are, it won't have windows. Or tables. Or chairs. It's up to you as the creator of a location to decide what is in it, how big those things are, and where they go. Don't assume anything. If you draw a 15-foot-long bed, and it's just sloppy on your part, a cartographer is going to put in a wonderfully-rendered 15-foot-long bed.
5. Just glancing at the best of map turnovers immediately makes people want to run an encounter with them. Is this someplace a movie would have a great scene? If not, why not? Not every encounter has to be complex, but they do all have to be interesting.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

It's true, I have no wiggle room on word count.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

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Eric Morton wrote:
Will the site be up when you try to submit your item? Should you anticipate extreme weather cutting off submissions three hours early? How do you, as an aspiring freelancer, handle the Round 1 challenge and the wrath of Mother Nature at the same time?

In my opinion, there is no need to plan to submit on either the first or last day of the contest's entry period. You can both give yourself more time to consider an item than 1 day (even if you have it done), and there's never a good reason to plan to wait until the last day to submit.

It's a truism in freelancing that in the last week of an assignment, the only brand new thing your developer should ever hear from you is "Here's my turnover." If there's anything else, you should have communicated the possibility beforehand.

I've told people I was freelancing for about storm patterns, tornadoes, and ailing family members, to be sure if there was a sudden issue it didn't come out of the blue. And while you don't need to get to personal, and you don't want to pester your developer, strong communication and time management are huge parts of being a good freelancer.

So yes, considering such issues is good practice for real-world freelancing. I once had to tell Sean K Reynolds I was going to be late on a project... because of a hurricane. Since I told him a couple of weeks in advance (and the hurricane was national news), he was able to adjust my deadline.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

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Mark Seifter wrote:
Just be careful, you guys. When I say hard mode, while it is certainly a way to get my attention if you succeed, that's because I believe that even if all competitors submitted staves, fewer than 32 would succeed. Maybe "nightmare mode" or "hardcore mode" or "super-challenge mode" might indicate it more accurately.

It will not surprise me if a staff makes it into the top 32.

It will not surprise me if one doesn't.
Given there are 5 broad categories (armor, shield, weapon, ring, rod, staff), it will surprise me if 1/5 of the top 32 are staves.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

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Lucus Palosaari wrote:
And I mean that in the nicest way possible Owen. I figure you mean to try not to limit us too much, because if its cool enough then :)

It is absolutely true that I don't want to tell people what is a good idea, just what the rules clearly already say is allowed.

If someone came up with a spell-in-a-can swiss army knife with a few format errors the price of which was a bit off that focused on how it was preferred by aboleths for use in creating weird circumstances, and it was AWESOME, it might still be Superstar material. So I don't want to say anything suggesting we'd bounce it.

But I wouldn't recommend it, either.

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So we certainly have not stated that you are restricted to weapons from the CRB - making your magic weapon be a katana or be de corbin is clearly fair game.

The tricky thing about siege engines is that the rules section describing them are titles "siege engines" rather than siege weapons. In fact, the term "siege weapon" is uncommon, though not nonexistent, within the rules.

However, the siege engine rules outright state (under "proficiency") that "Siege engines are exotic weapons."

I don't have an official opinion of the wisdom of submitting a magic siege engine, but it is within the scope of the contest's rules.

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There are, in fact, multiple (and less baroque) ways for characters to get familiars.

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James Jacobs wrote:
Map drawing is indeed more important to adventure design than is monster design.

I'll go into this a bit when we reach that round, but yes there is a VERY good reason why we feel an RPG Superstar should have to pass a map round.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

I would advise against making a magic weapon that wasn't a weapon.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

Master Pugwampi wrote:
Steven Helt wrote:

Not to be the serious, dramatic guy (which I admit I totally am), but working to win this contest can teach you things that are useful outside of being a game designer. Organizing your thoughts, becoming a better writer in general, learning to take directions, working on a deadline, practicing sportsmanship—all of these things can make you more successful no matter what you do with your home life and day job.

So what I'm really saying is: enter the contest, and enter to win! There are nooooo excuses! : )

Actually some people can't enter because they got too far into the contest in past years. That's an excuse, right? :P

Yes. Yes, it is.

Heck, I was never eligible to enter the contest. :)

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Christopher Dudley wrote:
RainyDayNinja wrote:


-Spells in a can (will any staves avoid this?)
I think EVERY staff out there already is the very definition of both SiaC AND a SAK. I'm looking at the existing published staves on PFSRD and I'm finding it hard to call any of them real RPG Superstar material.

A staff that does not feel like a SIAC is going to be VERY tough to pull off. But if someone manages to do it, I think we'll all be VERY impressed.

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If I had never seen anything like Frostbrand before, I might be amazed by it. As it is, the basic idea dates back decades, so variations of it aren't likely to impress me.

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Crispy Gnoll Fajitas wrote:
So will the first entry change every year now, or can I come up with a cool rod idea and submit it next year?

In complete and total honesty: we don't know. When I pitched how I would like to see Superstar change up this year, there were many discussions (and numerous modifications and improvements to my original suggestions made by the smart folks who have been here past years). It is way too early for us to decide what we are doing next year -- we are still focusing on making sure THIS year goes smoothly.

We might keep this format. We might go back to wondrous items. We might decide to give everyone 250 words, or 400, or have a 200 word minimum (yes, sometimes game designers have a minimum words count. It's second in frequency only to a max word count).

We just don't know yet.

I want to keep everything on the table. Superstar serves a number of useful functions, and I hope to always be willing to make changes if there's good reason to believe they will make for a better contest.

I know many people had a wondrous item picked out to submit already, and this took them off guard. We've also heard from a number of people who felt changing the design space makes this easier for them. Andy change is going to impact different groups in different ways. I hope everyone decides to buckle in, do their best, and see where that takes them. I think the very best are likely to do well in any circumstances.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

Certainly finding how to make a Superstar entry with a new selection of items is part of the challenge.

There is a difference between the life drinker (which is difficult for the living to use safely, so the note on who uses it is a practical matter as well as flavor), and saying (for example) drow are most likely to use a dagger of venom.

The advice on spell-in-a-can DOES apply to staves... despite them being spell-in-a-can devices. If you go for staff, make sure you have some idea that elevates it above just a collection of spell-in-a-can options. You CAN do an Superstar staff by the rules, but it won't be easy. It would, in fact, be a sign of amazing talent.

It's an opportunity to select a higher difficulty. Do so only if that appeals to you.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

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There is not. Sadly, I think most of use have looked at something we produced and, when it was too late, thought "I have a MUCH better idea now!"

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Grumpus, just as Sean's advice in past years mentioned about wondrous items, just because we have an item in the CRB doesn't mean that item would be a good Superstar entry.

That said, Mark's "Sword of Tricks" does not manage to tie its magic power into it's existence at all. It's just a magic sword that then has totally unrelated powers. Frostbrand takes elements tied to magic swords (illumination, frost ability), and ties them to further powers (frost protects you from, and can extinguish flames).

Summoning animals is not, by itself, always a wondrous item power. But if you want a weapon (or armor) to summon creatures, you need to find a way to tie it to the theme of the sword/armor.

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To confirm, specific magic shields are absolutely acceptable, as mentioned in the blog post. They are considered a form of magic armor for purposes of the official rules.

It's unfortunate we were not 100% clear and uniform in our wording. I'll improve on that as we go.I apologize for any confusion.

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I agree that the important thing is the end result. If I look at a suit of armor and think "That's neat, and well done!" then I don't care what it was originally.

If I think "That would make a lot more sense as a set of boots," I'll be less impressed.

I have, in fact, had to change a magic sword into a magic suit of armor as a result of miscommunication earlier in a project. If you can do it well, it's a useful skill. If you can't, and you try, it could sink you.

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It's unfortunate we were not 100% clear and uniform in our wording. I'll improve on that as we go.

Specific magic shields are absolutely acceptable, as mentioned in the blog post. They are considered a form of magic armor for purposes of the official rules.

I apologize for any confusion.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

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Mazym wrote:
At the risk of revealing how cheap I am, is there any way to get a good look at items that have been published outside of the sources that feed the PRD?

I often reference Archives of Nethys.

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