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Wells is a master manipulator, so it's hard not to feel sorry for anyone that falls under his influence. Whether he intended for anyone other than Barry to be affected remains to be seen, though Hartley wasn't so much affected as afflicted, since he was injured and had the implants to help.
I was impressed by how they managed to work in sexual tension between West and Hartley without any direct dialogue.
Sean K. Reynolds covered these in his original advice thread, but they bear repeating.
Another adventure inside a dead monster, and I'm digging it. There's a good amount of inspiration here for an interesting adventure--a lot to turn the designing gears in my head to come up with a story for this thing. My inner 5th grader is disappointed that there's no exit near the tail labeled "back door." Otherwise, I'm happy with this as a rough draft for a really unique and interesting adventure site.
That poor treant. Vermin nesting in his head, a mad fey living in his leg, and those humanoids are probably hacking wood off of his corpse to keep their fire going. The indignity of it all...
There's a lot going on in this map that I really like. I agree with Jacob that everything feels a bit scrunched together, at too small a scale. I'm a little disappointed at the generality of the labeling. "Predator," "humanoid," and "fey" leave things vague. Why not go with specifics like "arumvorax," "hobgoblins" and "redcap?" Though I suppose if you're supplying the map that someone else may turn into an encounter in a later round, you're doing that person a favor and leaving them room for development. That said, there's enough of a story in this map that I'd be inspired to write up encounters for it.
Good job, and best of luck to you in this round.
This is a solid town map. I like differences in terrain and that the town's layout has a very organic feel to it. I can almost see a time lapse of its growth in my mind's eye. The important themes--government, commerce, religion--have their designated areas, and there are little unique touches (pilgrim's stair, witch's watch) that give the place its own flavor. Good job, and best of luck in this round.
I found the layout of the place interesting, and there are certain features that incite curiosity (what's in those hollow pillars, for example) but there's a whole lot of empty space, no indication of anything in the rooms. Like some of the other commenters I'm wondering about the levels of the place, whether there's flooding, and the map doesn't really give details to know for sure.
Not the cleanest work in the running, but the location is provocative, there's a lot of interesting stuff in the area, and I could see this turning into the location for some cool adventures.
I'm really, really hoping the dinosaur ghosts aren't just going to be unmasked as Farmer Johnson and his lizardfolk buddies, who would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling kids and their dog.
Thanks for the feedback, Jaragil. The runes were there because I needed a look, and a weapon inscribed in runes has that sort of "classic cool" to it. I suppose the bookkeeping could be off-putting, and Mark did mention the munchkiny idea of the owner sundering party items (which is still a very odd thought to me...I've just never gamed with people that thought that way.)
But potions? Honestly? How exactly do you sunder a liquid? It's the liquid that's magical, not the bottle it's held in. Scrolls, sure. They're solid. They can be destroyed. Potions? Tell that GM to turn in his/her screen.
Jeff Heikkinen wrote:
Just let your work stand on its own. No public statements. There's always time later.
Chris Shaeffer wrote:
Great advice, Jeff! Except for the "don't rush" part. ;)
Well, there are always exceptions to every rule. Though I suppose you could modify it for this contest to say: Don't turn in your map as soon as you think you're finished. Take a little extra time if you have it and go back to it later to finish up details, maybe make some changes to things that look wrong, etc. Just don't wait until the last minute in case your email goes down right before the deadline.
There are a lot of folks already doing item critiques, so I'll take a pass on that. (Though if you want my specific thoughts on an item, feel free to shoot me a PM.) Instead I'm going to do a list of general advice to address a number of stumbling blocks I saw this year.
So, that's it. Feel free to discuss or question. Hopefully this will be of use to those participating next year.
Found this article on io9 the other day: 10 rule for making better fantasy maps.
In the tradition of Castle Ravenloft, the fortress of Scarwall from the Curse of the Crimson Throne AP was a pretty impressive map.
Male Human(ish) Level 3 RPG Monkey
By the time Tuboo/Magnus returns, the sun has begun to sink towards the mountains beyond the fortress, shadows deepening among the peaks, and the sky reddening.
The exterior of the fortress has a curtain wall 30 feet high that runs the entirety of the pass, making the only way past being through the fortress. There is a corral on this side, as well as a stable, with about a half dozen shaggy ponies inside. There are perhaps four dwarven soldiers on the walls, and another two or more on the ramparts of the fortress itself. Their attention seems mainly focused on the far side of the wall.
Kroop isn't crucial to the adventure (though why anyone thought it was a good idea to murder the ship's cook is beyond me...) though he does provide a lot of advice along the way in the early going that the PCs will either have to do without, or you could have it provided by another source (perhaps Sendara).
My Top 32:
Eric Hindley wrote:
It wasn't meant as a pun, honestly. I'd originally settled on "dweomervore" until a nagging feeling made me do a search and I realized it was the name of a monster in Forgotten Realms. So I switched "dweomer" to "arcana." Seriously was not trying to be punny.
Also, Mark's comment about adventurers breaking their own stuff to gain more power for the item...that totally came at me from left field. Never would have occurred to me. That's some serious munchkin power-gamer stuff.
Okay, I think I'm ready.
The arcanavore can also absorb energy from sundering magic items, which provide longer lasting bonuses. If it deals sufficient damage to an item to inflict the broken condition, it gains +1 enhancement bonus for every three Caster Levels of the item (or special abilities as above, minimum bonus of +1) that last 1 minute per caster level of the item. If a sunder attack destroys the item, then the duration is doubled.
The arcanavore only sheds light while using absorbed magic.
I have to admit, with the amount of swarm-themed/related items the last few years, I thought I'd become a bit jaded where they were concerned. However, your swarm-strike caster not only captured my interest, but it made it onto my personal Top 32. Glad to see the judges agree.
Congratulations, and good luck in the next round!
Male Human(ish) Level 3 RPG Monkey
After making your farewells and exiting the western gate, you make your way along a muddy but well-marked road, trailing west by southwest. The road becomes more solid but difficult as it climbs over the hills, taking you higher until you can look back and see the entirety of the little valley that cradles the gnomish village. Before long, you're surrounded by lofty pines that shade you from a surprisingly bright spring sun.
Eventually, you can see the entrance to the pass ahead, rising up between the slopes of two mountains. Even at this distance, you can make out the ramparts of the dwarven fortress that completely blocks the pass, protecting the Marches from what lies outside. About another two hours of travel will put you right outside its gates, should you choose to do so.
I like this armor, and it got several votes from me during voting.
My main concern was that it provides a major transformation without much detail about it. The character turns into water and can't speak, attack, or cast spells. Okay, so what does that mean in regards to others attacking the wearer? Does the wearer still take damage normally? What about precision damage? Fire effects? It's a major change that seems like it should have noticeable effects beyond what's listed.
Congratulations, and good luck in the coming round.
To clarify my previous post: At no time did I take not being in the top 32 as a personal affront. Nor did I ever think I was a true shoe-in. Yes, I was confident. Yes, I got my hopes up. Yes, I wanted that prize. So yes, I'm a little dejected. That's only natural, right? But ultimately, there are zero sour grapes, and I'm genuinely happy for those whom made top 32.
You get emotionally invested in the contest. It's normal to feel dejection if you don't make that first hurdle. I spent a little time yesterday feeling like this until I worked it out of my system.
A lot more of the items I liked are in the Top 32 this year. I'm looking forward to seeing what the authors bring to the contest in later rounds.
Vanulf Wulfson wrote:
Which is great, but if he partied like Stark does, then probably an exception to the rule.
Ew. Now you've gone and reminded me of a terrible episode of the Outer Limits. Guy has sex change and goes back in time to seduce himself. Add Tony and all his freaky gadgets to the story...
Pretty funny. Brings up the whole timeline weirdness though.
The fact that they had Stark's dad in WWII with Cap still boggles my mind. Assuming Tony Stark is around 40ish, and his dad was around 30 during WWII, in order for the numbers to be right his dad would have waited until around 60 or so to father a child. Stark's lucky to have any memories of his father at all.
Nothing in the description of movement during a charge says it doesn't work with air walk.
Nothing in the description of air walk says you can't charge.
Conclusion: A creature under the effects of air walk can charge normally.
6a. "I don't detect any traps." (To the fighter) "Go ahead and open the door." *takes a step back*
I think that smoking is not allowed in sindication any more.
There's been smoking on the show, just not as prolifically as you'd expect. But yes, the anti-smoking lobby keeps it off TV most times, though they make exceptions for some shows, like Constantine. Smoking is part of his character.
There was a suit of armor from one of the Encyclopedia Magica back in 2nd edition D&D that did something like that. You could keep fighting even after death, with a bunch of bonuses, like a vengeful revenant. It was actually a pretty cool item, but it was definitely one of those things that was for a particular flavor of campaign, as it actually used the owner's soul to fuel the after-death fighting, so no coming back. I really liked it, and actually used it with an NPC to pull the party's fat out of the fire and provide the NPC with a memorable exit from the campaign.
That said, if you're going to go to a risky niche area like that, you really need to pull it off masterfully.
I've learned to take a closer look at the design space of the different item types to try and determine the boundaries of what can or can't/should or shouldn't be done in the confines of those spaces. Came up with a ring and a staff design last night that seem pretty good to me. Voting and seeing the successes and missteps of other designers is definitely a valuable learning experience.