Just wanted to peek in and make a couple of notes on the game so far. Primarily, I owe y'all an apology, because I've been ridiculously slow to respond, and also I forgot how ridiculously slow play-by-post games can be. I didn't anticipate that starting out with a character-heavy intro would play out in the somewhat stretched-out manner it has; I'm sure you're all raring to be past the intro and into the action, and I think both combat and character will be doing a lot better once we're past the initial hump.
Bearing that in mind, I'll try to speed up any prep we have left. You can start considering whether there's anything else in particular you'll want inside the village before you set out. And I encourage PC banter as a great way to establish character and pass the time :) And I am sincerely making every effort to up my own pace.
Soon enough, Arthorion's path trails into a large village. The first structure appears to be a sawmill, and the elf can clearly see humans bustling about dragging lumber to and fro.
But as they continue towards their goal, a tall figure stations herself in the middle of the road, by the sawmill and clearly positioned at the very entrance of the village. By the time Arthorion and Zeldax are near enough to see the individuals distinctly, a full contingent is assembled - three humans and a elven woman. They mill in place, all but the elf whispering among themselves. They make no move towards Arthorion as of yet, but their attention is clearly focused upon him and his companion.
This is not Arthorion Aegas's first failed attempt to cross into Irrisen, but it has proved by far the most disasterous. His memories of the sudden pursuit are vague and bloody, and his last recollection was falling broken into the snow.
When he awoke, Zeldax was lapping at his face, his entire body kept vacillating between complete numbness and searing pain - and he was somewhere utterly unfamiliar. A forest, with a bright sun shining above, but without a hint of warmth. The place was cold, cold as Irrisen, though it looked anything but.
Although eager to nurse himself back to health, getting out of these unnatural woods was also a priority. Over the course of several days, Arthorion dragged himself through the forest, growing only more concerned when a heavy snow began to fall. Soon he was clear of the woods - and past its edges, the chill was gone.
Though it took him some time to recuperate, Arthorion is now fully himself again. He has determined that he has arrived, somehow, in Taldor; there is a small village just a few miles north, but he has not yet ventured to enter it. Meanwhile behind him, the forest grows colder and more menacing with every hour.
Arthorion, what's your next step?
The sleepy village of Heldren has rarely seen so much excitement or concern. First, hunters from the nearby Border Wood spoke of unnaturally cold weather, descending upon the forest at the very height of summer. Heavy snow followed, and those who returned speak of an uneasy presence in the woods - as well as new, dangerous predators. No one knows what this event means, but the town's soothsayer, Old Mother Theodora, claims dark times lie ahead.
The unnatural weather was itself enough to attract the attention of Groflek and Yahn, tempting them into a short detour on their path. The half-orc insisted, saying a two-day journey was more than worthwhile just to see some snow again.
But as they drew near, the news from the village grew more dire. The story being told is that a noblewoman, the Lady Argentea Malassene, was travelling on her next leg towards Oppara. Her caravan stayed safely beond the edge of the forest - until strange, wintry creatures swarmed out of the woods, and dragged her away into the forest. In Heldren, the two travellers find a fearful townsfolk, their eyes constantly drawn towards the snowy forest, and their minds towards the question - what next?
Yahn Burson wrote:
That works fine for me. Just give me the job offer and I'm sure I'll take it.
Well, personally, I wouldn't start off with the job offer. I'd start off "in the present," having already gotten him out of the Thanelands and through some warmer climes (or, well, at least some of that route. I need to check the map; our little group is very diverse...). Start off in media res, as it were, with the two PCs already together.
I do love a good in media res.
Pedro, I've got a couple questions about Arthorion's background. Two major points: Firstly, it's only Elvanna's direct children, the first generation, who are taken with Baba Yaga. Further descendants become Jadwiga. So unless Naryanne was actually Elvanna in disguise... :P
I'm going to ask you to rethink this last part. Maybe something a little more modest, like Naryanne disappeared while pregnant and Arthorion's been trying for twenty years just to get into Irrisen. Or maybe Naryanne was massively terrified even though there was no reason for her to be - what did she know? What was different about her and her child? I'm cool with open-ended mysteries like this. Or, really, anything else that ties off this corner.
This is background, and I don't see any reason this should delay our starting posts. Just mull it over and let me know.
Ok! I've been refreshing my memory with the various characters - we've got a kickass team here, and I'm really looking forward to this! All we need to do now is come up with a bunch of lovely excuses to wrassle y'all over to Heldren, a sleepy little village in Taldor. Now your characters are intriguing enough that that's quite a challange... oh, hey, wait, RPG challanges are something us lot are pretty good at, right?
Joseph, Landon, let me run this one past you - how about we set Groflek up as one of Yahn's very first cold-weather clients? At first I was thinking, Oy, how's a half-orc with a polar bear gonna get anywhere in Taldor,, and then I thought, Huh, we actualy do have somebody who kind of does that for a living... How does that strike you? I think it'd be an awesome opportunity to work in a "preexisting" dynamic between some of the characters. If you like this idea, try to come up with some sense of what Groflek might be travelling for, and what measures Yahn might've taken to smooth their journey (we're just first level, so they aren't necessarily much good yet...)
Pedro, I'm thinking of working your character intro right into the opening scenes of the plot. I don't want to give away any major spoilers, but between you and me, this campaign has something to do with
OMG, a spoiler:, and also it's kicking off with
crud, another one:and I can easily work Arthorion's appearance in as part of the anomaly. Do you like that approach?
something mysterious happening,
Steven, I'm not entirely clear on Shalewigg's motivations to go adventuring or to be nearby. You've got less background and detail so far, so I'd love to hear what you'd suggest.
Of course, if anybody has other suggestions (for your PC or anybody else), go right ahead. Every player gets to decide for their own PC, and I'm really open to anything you're happy with.
If anything here looks problematic to you, now's the time to say so. :)
@All: I'll be summing up the Same-Page responses ASAP. Thanks!
I also realize I haven't mentioned: you may or may not recall that I'm shomer shabbat, which basically means that for a 25-hour period between Friday and Saturday each week, I'm completely offline. Shouldn't be a problem, but it does mean that the game speedup on weekends will be somewhat limited :P
@Landon: I think we've got at least rough directions for the other players; now's a good time to figure out what kind of PC you feel will fit in :D
@Joseph: Returning to the Gralton Infiltrator after all these months, I find myself pleasantly warmed by the notion of a class concept which goes "quiet, sneaky, inconspicuous, BOMB." :)
I trust your math; I'll be going over the details in more... detail so I can be sure I'm familiar with everything, so I might have more questions afterwards.
For the moment: you've written Knowledge(arcana,local); that's two separate skills, right? And, key question: Where do you see Knowledge(local) as being local to? I don't see the River Kingdoms nor Galt figuring heavily in the campaign; I also don't subscribe to the "Knowledge(local) applies to everywhere" school. Let me know what your take is on how you'd expect the skill to be used; we'll figure out what we want for it.
Additionally, I really really want every character to have some kind of hook to Irrisen. I'm really wide open on what kind of hook this could be, but I don't think you've given me any leads there :P Give it some thought? If you'd like suggestions from the group, just say so :)
@Pedro: 20-point buy sounds good to me.
@Joseph: A full-caster party could be interesting in a few levels. Starting at level 1, they'd probably get massacred fast :P
@Steven: Can I ask for the same-page questionnaire from you?
@Landon: Any-- nah, nothing yet. :P
@All: Any thoughts about character concept/personality beyond your class choice? As I said, I want to see connections to Irrisen - of some sort or other.
Yes, it's Reign of Winter.
Pedro, Joseph, come on in :)
Hrmph. Haven't heard back yet from Nick nor Sam - serves me right for waiting until the Guildhall started rusting...
Anybody got any contact info for them? I think I found Nick on G+, but I didn't get a response from him there either so far. Sam seems somewhat active here, so I hope he'll pop in soon.
OK, folks! Let's get this ball rolling! And we'll be starting out with two things:
Item One: Character creation. We'll be starting with 1st level characters.
I'm hypothetically open to using your R2 archetypes, but this is going to be a snow-and-ice themed campaign - so River Kingdoms archetypes that don't give you any advantage there might be tougher to handle, and, frankly, less fun to play, if the archetype will feel constantly out of its element.
I'm going to ask you for one extra element as well: I'd like each PC to have some sort of connection or interest in Irrisen. Feel free to interpret this as creatively as you like :)
Right now, what I most want is your fundamental character concepts - so we see that the group meshes together reasonably, that we don't have too many ninjas in the group, that I know what archetype you're using, etc. etc.
So post here in the discussion thread. And we'll discuss :)
Item Two: Expectation management.
Two things here. One is, I want to re-iterate: I'm not too experienced with Pathfinder. Certainly not in a PbP setting. I hope this won't be too disruptive, but DO feel free to comment/PM me if you think I'm reading the rules wrong, and DO expect me to turn to y'all for advice :)
Secondly, we're a bunch of people who don't know each other, and we may have different expectations and playstyles. I just stumbled across the Same Page Tool, and I think it'd be really good for us to devote a little conversation that way, too. So please read up on that link, and then come back here and let us all know what you're expecting, what you're open too, and what's important to you.
Ziv Wities wrote:
I'd really like to get back to running the game I promised, though. I'll get back on it in the next couple of days.
OK, so "A couple of days" may have mutated into several weeks.
This Monday we'll get started character creation, so start mulling over you character concepts!
Steven Helt wrote:
Hey...what happened to Ziv? Let's play!
Yo Steven!Sorry I've gone AWOL... Towards the end of Superstar, I was job-hunting. Then I found one :) I've been kind of overwhelmed.
I'd really like to get back to running the game I promised, though. I'll get back on it in the next couple of days.
Steven, I really enjoyed this proposal :) There was a lot I liked here, but two things really stood out for me.
One was the innovative concept of casting this as a one-shot adventure, playing PCs who are members of the Golden Watch. That's a really interesting direction to take a Pathfinder module, and I love it. One-shots often provide the opportunity for somewhat better storytelling and for trying out unusual stuff, since it doesn't need to connect into whatever grand campaign or into established PCs. That's bold, and could be a very interesting direction.
The second thing I really liked was the way you didn't wait until the climax in order to reveal Flinn's treachery. You've got a strong theme of betrayal of trust and of driving people to despair; if you'd hidden the treachery until the very end, it simply wouldn't have been a major part of the story. It's very easy to hold a "surprise" until the very end, and the story doesn't make any sense until you get there, but that makes for a dull, frustrating experience for the players. Your approach will make for a much better game - the PCs pitted directly against a known traitor, the conflict clear and understood. Well done.
I'm a bit concerned that the "play as the Golden Watch" option sounds better than it actually works. I'm not sure if you mean here for the PCs to play as the existing Watch members - Igneous, Brenda, possibly Dern - or for the Watch to be significantly larger, with the PCs as additional members. Either way, it seems to me that playing the earlier acts as Watch members would require major adjustments. The entire "introduction" to the Watch doesn't quite work; Igneous and Brenda don't seem necessary as quest-givers if the PCs are equally involved and concerned; it becomes even more unclear why Dern is the only one Flinn's targeted "early"; and there are additional points which simply don't seem to flow smoothly under the assumption of the PCs as Watch members. If your take the prize, I urge you to consider this point during development and editing - re-read the entire sequence, and make sure everything works well in both play flavors (or explicitly suggest how to run both alternatives).
The one thing that really really bothered me was the "Golden Watch" naming. As James said, this seems like an awful and anachronistic pun - a golden watch for retired adventurers. Customers will be making the connection, even though nobody anywhere on Golarion actually associates watches with retirement. You might want to keep the watch element since you use it elsewhere and elsewise, but please do something to distance it a little. :P
BTW, I had my eye out for the iffy phrasing issues that bothered me in your R4 - and came up empty. Way to go :D
The Top 4 have fielded an exceptional batch of adventure pitches, but what I found odd was that every single one of them seems to have gotten a minor ding on the "bonus location" requirement:
Judges Re: bonus Locations wrote:
I'm not cherry-picking here; that list is every single judge comment with the word "bonus" in it. That's zero-for-four, leading me to conclude that We Do Not Yet Grok Bonus Locations.
Can judges and/or developers expand on what a bonus location "should" be - what they were expecting, and why the R5 pitches didn't meet that? (Or do some judges think they did, and just not mention it?)
Very cool concept, really interesting execution. Attention, Paizo: This is exactly the kind of product I'd love to see - particularly with the new full 64 pages, which can give you room and breathing space to give new rules and extra guidance on running something new and complicated.
Because here's the thing: I like my adventures to be new, weird, and complicated. That's what I look for most in new material - that's the stuff I can't duplicate myself.
There's a lot here I really like, including the theme and the major NPCs. My biggest concern is that the overall product, when actually played through, may feel somewhat incoherent. From the player's side, this feels to me like a whole lot of bouncing around randomly, without much sense of direction or clear goal. I'm going to reread and see how well I think it holds together. But at any rate, it'll be a really tough choice between this and Steven's "Golden Watch."
Kudos on a marvelous run and an excellent entry!
Honestly, this is what I love about Scott's work in this contest. He's proved really, really good about pushing the envelope - and at the same time, knowing how far it can be pushed. The combination of near-gonzo with pro chops and attention to detail is precisely what I consider most Superstar of all :)
We've been PbP'ing this encounter. We're still mid-battle, but I wanted to comment on what I've seen so far, so voters will have a chance to see reactions.
What I like a lot is the premise of battling a cocktail in a drug den - it's a good setup that makes sense and provides for an interesting battle. Once we got to the battle, I'm totally with this entry. OTOH, I felt that the setup was problematic - it feels like an implausible scenario: Axia is being sought by the PCs for failed romance and she's a wanted android and she's involved with the monstrous drug den, and everything explodes within one minute of one another. The gearsmen's entrance, and the assumption that they free the cocktail, feel especially railroaded - in our playtest, before I read the encounter details, I had my character dimension door Axia to safety as soon as danger struck, since she was presented as our crucial objective; after that, the gearsmen breaking the tank "just for the heck of it" didn't seem very believable.
That criticism said, there's a lot to recommend this entry, and I think plotting is a skill that's very open to improvement with time and editing. Best of luck!
Nicholas, I think you've done marvelous work throughout the contest, and I was a bigger fan of the argopelters than most, and I was specifically looking forward to seeing them used in R4. Nonetheless, the argopelters were not a popular monster, and most of the criticism against them was that they were uninteresting and unexciting.
Tackling an "uninteresting" creature can be Superstar showmanship. But it needs to be treated accordingly - focusing on bringing out the creature's strength and potential. Other entries might be able to content themselves with "merely" building a solid encounter surrounding their chosen monster - no mean feat! - but in picking something that's been explicitly called out as unexciting, you really want to justify your choice.
Which is why I'm particularly dismayed at the sense that the argopelters are fairly afterthought-ish here. You literally could have substituted any other jungle monster, and chosen any forest monster with no great difficulty. There are other R3 monsters whose insertion would have a clearer, more unique effect on the encounter, since their special niche and behavior is clearer and more widely-appreciated.
You've stumbled on showmanship, Nicholas. Tsk-tsk.
Can you give me an estimate how long it'll take Ezren to climb down off the roof? I'm debating whether it's worth burning my use of Arcane Bond for the day for another dimension door... From the entrance to the curtain looks like a move action to me; the question is how long does it take Ezren to get down off the roof.
Ezren crosses the distance to Axia (a move action along the west side of the tank, I don't think anybody's positioned to threaten an AoO but I could be wrong). He casts dimension door, reaching out to touch Axia, and bring her along with him. "You three can fend off these buggers for a minute more, right?"
Absent context for the area, I'm going to say we teleport up to the roof.
Landon Cole wrote:
Ziv, I'm still up for playing, and playtesting after Thursday.
Well, I'm planning my game only after the playtests are done (because I really need a least a teensy-weensy bit of experience before I run one).
Playtests, OTOH, I'll play in as many as others are willing to throw me. I'm in curaigh's now, and motteditor seemed like he was going to start one, but that didn't get off the ground - I'm not sure he got more participants than you and I.
Michael, you get big props from me for great execution of a high concept. You found a cool way to base your encounter around an R3 monster, and tie it into the Golarion setting in a way that makes sense but is still interesting and unexpected. To me, that says you can take the many restrictions inherent in writing game modules, and come up with exciting, original material within those constraints.
I'm not really seeing the big issue with is-a-location/isn't-a-location. It would have been nice if you managed to hype up the general location a little more, but the location is also pretty clear to me as-is, and has obvious potential for interest, originality, and playability. You made clear what the location was, you made its relevance clear, and you detailed its central encounter. It might be a small location, or a focused one, which is fine by me. (It might not have been seen as inspiring or interesting or fun to play by some, which is also fine by me.) As far as I'm concerned, you're good.
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
This encounter makes me sad.
Encounters that provoke strong emotional reactions make me happy :)
I'm afraid this encounter really didn't grab me. Mostly nothing here felt very fresh to me - most major elements (ancient temple, statues are actually monsters, spell-trigger trap...) are very familiar, and your use of the leechroot was solid but firmly rooted in the original description. It feels to me like a typical mix-and-match encounter; this round is your first opportunity to show me plot and adventure-building, and I'm left underwhelmed.
That's just me, though, and it seems clear I'm in the minority :)
What I do what to point out is that you've got a lot of really clunky phrasing scattered throughout. This bothered me a lot; some were jarring and some were outright unclear. I don't think I felt this in any of your previous entries; I don't know what to make of this observation, but I hope you'll find it helpful. Here's a lot of the cases that bothered me:
Sorry to be so critical and nitpicky, but I hope my criticism is clear and helpful. I've loved your work so far, and even if I didn't like your entry this round, I'd still love to see you up in the finals - and hey, it looks like you're doing well so far :D Hope this helps, and all the best!
OK, folks, I'm gonna go read the encounter and get myself up to speed. I thought we were waiting for an intro, but now I see we've kinda got one, and Scott's assuming we know what's going on :)
Shabbat is coming in, so I'll be incommunicado until this time tomorrow. But then I'll be ready to dive right in :)