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Chad Patterson

Round 1: Greaves of the Monkey
Round 2: Steppenland

Steppenland


Round 2 - Top 32: Design a Country

1 to 50 of 53 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013 aka exile

Steppenland

“A stark land where fugitive slaves should fear more than the retribution of their masters”

Government and Ruler: Steppenlanders are divided into several dozen tribes. A chieftain, chosen for strength and cunning, leads each tribe. Uthman Orgun (CN male human Barbarian/Fighter 5/6) leads the largest such tribe.

With the popular election of the “Council of Equals”, fugitive slaves sheltering in Steppenland’s river valley have formed a fledgling republic. Molly Greenshields (LN female human Druid 5), the “First among Equals” chairs the council.

Capital and Notable Settlements: A majority of Steppenlanders lives in wagon camps. The largest camp, named for its chieftain, is Uthman Orgun (5,000). In recent years, permanent trading posts, including Bald Rock (1,000) and Water’s Edge (2,000) have arisen on the steppe.

Shepherd’s Lake (450) is the capital of the river valley’s government. Though larger than most, it is representative of other small settlements in the region.

Alignment: Steppenlanders tend toward chaos, neutrality, and evil; the valley folk law, neutrality, and good.

Description: Steppenland is comprised of two socio-geographic regions: the steppe, a broad plain characterized by extremes of temperature, limited precipitation, and short grasses; and a steep-walled fertile river valley that courses along the country’s southwest border.

Steppenlanders are a semi-nomadic people. Each winter, tribes migrate north, following herds of buffalo that provide food and furs; each summer, they follow the beasts south. Steppenlander men are expert riders. In addition to hunting buffalo, they raid other tribes, foreign caravans, and even neighboring states in search of resources not otherwise available. Slaves, ore, and wood are prized. During migrations, Steppenlander women drive their tribes’ brightly painted wagons. Each woman practices a craft and helps oversee her tribe’s slaves. Slaves assist with crafts and menial tasks such as greasing wagon axles and gathering buffalo dung to fuel campfires. Exceptions to these generalities exist. Before founding Bald Rock, Mansur the Unhorsed (LE male human Wizard 6), a terrible rider, was relegated to mixing paints, a task normally performed by women and slaves. Arin Orgun (CN female human Barbarian/Fighter 4/4) rode in her father Uthman’s raiding parties before he placed her in command of Water’s Edge.

Steppenlanders recognize Kargas, a chaotic neutral god of war, but actual clerics are few. Steppenlanders say that it is enough that Kargas made them strong enough to prosper in their harsh land. The rare cleric of Kargas can choose from the Chaos, Destruction, Strength, and War domains. If the War domain is selected, the bonus feat(s) can be applied to any one of the traditional Steppenlander weapons (composite shortbow, dagger, lance, or scimitar).

Steppenlander holidays celebrate successful migrations. They are periods of feasting and violent sport; goat rodeo is the favorite. In this game, two teams of riders compete to carry a goat downfield toward a goal. The rider carrying the goat is beaten with clubs by the opposing team in an effort to make him drop the goat. The goat rarely lives through the game. Variations on this game see a slave, usually a human child, gnome, or halfling, substituted for the goat.

The fugitive slaves and their descendants who have settled in Steppenland’s river valley call their home Mother’s Embrace, and the rivers that flow through it Mother’s Arms. The river valley is rich in resources; men, women, and children fish, herd goats and sheep (which provide wool in addition to food), and grow rice, as well as hardy fruits (grapes, apples, pears) and vegetables (carrots, onions, potatoes, and turnips). Wild bamboo, which is plentiful in the river valley, is used for building homes and crafting everything from tools and weapons to paper to hats and sandals.

The valley folk observe druidic traditions, closely intertwined with belief in a neutral mother goddess. Most of the druids are lawful neutral. The valley folk also worship Dorn, a neutral good god of freedom and self-defense. Dorn’s favored weapons are the quarterstaff and sling. Clerics of Dorn can choose from the Good, Protection, and Strength domains.

Six major holidays are celebrated. The first four, dedicated to the mother goddess, mark the equinoxes and solstices with song and dance. The fifth holiday, Worm Day, also loosely associated with the mother goddess, falls on a different day each year, but always during the spring. Throughout the winter, wagers are made regarding the day on which worms will crawl from the mud to blanket the ground. On this day, wagers are paid, everyone goes fishing, and children chase each other with worms in hand. The sixth holiday commemorates the day that Angus Greenshields, fleeing his Steppenlander masters, first discovered the river valley. The forty days prior to the celebration is a time of quiet self-denial, representing Angus’ flight across the steppe. On the day of the celebration, Angus Greenshields (LN male human Fighter 7) himself leads a prayer to Dorn; delivers a speech relevant to current events in the river valley; and declares the start of a day of contests of speed, stamina, and strength.

DM Secrets: Water’s Edge has grown into Steppenland’s most successful trading post because of Arin’s willingness to protect foreign merchants (Knowledge- Local DC 15). Uthman, unhappy with his daughter carousing with foreigners, is contemplating forcibly removing her from power (Knowledge- Local DC 20). Mansur, envious of the prosperity of Water’s Edge, has secretly influenced Uthman’s feelings.

Steppenland’s river valley is a cradle of civilization (Knowledge- History DC 10). The ancestors of modern Steppenlanders were its original inhabitants (Knowledge- History DC 15). Successive flooding forced them out of the valley thousands of years ago; they have never returned (Knowledge- History DC 20). It was not flooding, but a series of unexplained mass murders that drove them from the valley; the flooding followed several years later (Knowledge- History DC 30). A brood of aboleth, deep below Mother’s Embrace was responsible for the murders; they have become aware that humans again dwell in their valley.

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

Submission checklist:

Submitted on time? Check.
Submission is a "country"? Check.
Submission contains all of the mandatory content as required by the contest rules? Check.
Submission is within the word limit? Check. 979.
Submission is free of inappropriate content in violation of the "taboo" guidelines? Check.
Submission does not use content from a source other than those listed? Check.
Submission does not reference a published campaign setting? Check.
Submission does not include maps or art? Check.
Submission is a suitable setting for roleplaying with the d20 system? Check.
Submission is not a "joke" or otherwise completely fails to meet the minimum requirements of the competition or other contest rules? Check.

Qadira Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

It's interesting that we've gotten several tribal societies: yours, the Kinships by Erik Anderson, and Joel Flank's Umlinzi-Kiwanja.

They have so few moving parts that they seem easy to design (though in fact I think they are extremely difficult to design well). As collections of clans and families rather than settlements, they have different play dynamics ("Where is a tribe?" is a different question than "Where is a country?"). It's an interesting approach, one that favors family over locale, but after some thought I think they do pass the "gazetteer test". Like the Wolf Nomads and Tiger Nomads of Greyhawk, tribal societies are rare and not all that popular with gamers for campaigns, so your first choice makes your job harder.

On to the particulars. Steppenland borrows a few real-world elements (like the goat game, which is clearly Buskashi, the Afghan game) and munge them together with fantasy elements. That's a reasonable extrapolation, but not hugely original.

Likewise, you make a split society with the steppe vs valley conflict, but I'm not sure how the PCs play into it; the very specific geography actually makes it tough to drop into a homebrew.

Some of the writing is shaky. What does "semi-nomadic" mean, exactly? If they wander, they are nomadic.

But that's all nitpicking. I think my real problem with this country is that it doesn't inspire me to run it. I'm having a tough time putting my finger on why, but I suspect it goes back to the tribal society nature of the country.

For tribes, the split between insiders and outsiders is deeper than it is for settled societies. You can't just walk into a tribe and be accepted, the way you might be in a market town. You sort of address that designwise with the valley settlements, but ... that sort of undermines the point of a describing tribal society in the first place. And trying to have it both ways in one country makes both elements weaker.

Lukewarm recommendation. You might make it through this round, but be careful of designing for a niche audience. Tribal countries are definitely a niche, as the Horde boxed set and many other tribal RPG supplements have proved.

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

Fluff (writing, grammar, style, evocative prose, etc.): B-
Competent, if not inspiring. Didn’t grab me, that’s for sure.

Crunch (basics, rules issues, depth of the setting, details, etc.): A
The Good: Some crunch is nice. I like the passing NPC stats. Good deity details. I am amazed how many people don’t include this stuff. You did. The holiday info was also nice. Knowledge check DCs for some of the DM info is also very well done.

Design (choices made, format, naming, originality, theme, balance--ie, is the submission heavy in one part but lacking in another?): C
I’m not feeling a real design theme here beyond the nomad choice. Yes, choosing to do nomads is itself a design choice. But once you made that choice what did you do? Did you find a theme? Did you use the format to show off your theme and choices? I think the answer is no, in this case.

Play (setting for adventure? campaign? is there conflict? are there play limitations?): C
There is conflict. I’m not sure how the PCs fit in, which seems to be a big problem.

Tilt (my personal take, is it evocative? do I want to play there? does it capture my imagination?): C
Not feeling it. It is a pretty generic nomad area. Nothing stands out.

Overall: C+
Some really, really solid crunch (perhaps the best of any entry) is unfortunately wasted on an uninspired and unoriginal nomad entry.

NOT RECOMMENDED for top 16.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

This caught my attention immediately:

"Government and Ruler: Steppenlanders are divided into several dozen tribes. A chieftain, chosen for strength and cunning, leads each tribe. Uthman Orgun (CN male human Barbarian/Fighter 5/6) leads the largest such tribe."

Notice how all three sentences in that paragraph end in the same word? That shouldn't happen in quick succession like that in any paragraph, but when the paragraph is small and the problem besets every single sentence, well... wow. Don't do that.

I like the somewhat more primitive approach to the setting, and I also like the use of slavery. I think that topic is often carried out in the most token way imaginable in published RPG stuff, which doesn't make sense. I understand America's dark history with the practice and I definitely think it is evil, but if you've got slavers to fight in a setting, they've got to be selling those slaves to someone.

So, yeah. Slaves.

Generally I think the names in this entry are cool. I particularly like Uthman Orgun, both as a big nasty barbarian and as the community that has grown up around him. The women driving the culture's brightly painted wagons was a nice bit of business, but in general I'm not sure that building an inherent sexism into the nation is a good idea. I just think you lose more by making women players uncomfortable than you gain by being historically accurate. I do appreciate that you made Orgun's daughter leader of a town, so at least women can fight their way to the top.

The paragraph about Kargas was quite interesting, especially in that it weaved in some rules bits seamlessly. I like the mention of Steppenlander cultural weapons. It helped you finish up your bit of fluff while also adding a bit more character to the nation. Very well done.

The game goat rodeo made me laugh, but I soon hit a red flag. The idea of a human child getting beaten to death with sticks is going to upset a lot more people than you think it's going to, trust me. I know this both from personal experience (via the first Living Greyhawk module) and from time and time again making the same mistake in publishing: lots more people than you think have a zero tolerance policy regarding violence against children. It is a line you cross at your peril.

The culture of escaped slaves is very interesting and echoes something I'm working on in the Pathfinder Gazetteer. This is seldom touched upon in fantasy gaming settings, and again I commend you for it.

With the commendations out of the way, though, I must raise a concern I have with this entry. Where's the adventure? Where are the monsters and the treasure and the things that fuel the game itself? Sure the last DM's Secrets hook involves aboleth, but there's very little fantasy in this fantasy roleplaying micro-supplement.

So I'm torn. You've done a good job describing a primitive society, and the slavery/escaped slave angle provides an interesting twist. But beyond that, I just don't see where the campaigning is, and that's a HUGE, HUGE possibly fatal flaw.

I'm inclined to withhold my recommendation for the time being. I may come back around on this one after I've been all the way through. It is generally well done, but it simply doesn't cry out ADVENTURE the way it should.

Too bad.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013 aka exile

Thank you all for the very honest criticism.

Chad


It is a neat place for a side-trek but I wouldn't want to campaign there. I can't see how any of the archetypal D&D elements will fit. Paladins in platemail on the plains? Where do wizards come from? If the the people of the valley are former slaves, why don't the tribes come and get them back? The two parts just don't seem to mesh well. It is like you took two separate locations and mushed them together. This isn't really a place I could see adventures happening.


I think is a palce to be FROM, not one to go TO. As such I'll snag it for my gams, if anyone wants this for backgrouns, but I don't see setting any adventures there.

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

Thanks Chad!!!


Dungeon Grrrl wrote:
I think is a palce to be FROM, not one to go TO. As such I'll snag it for my gams, if anyone wants this for backgrouns, but I don't see setting any adventures there.

You and I obviously think alike.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Steven T. Helt

I don't see a single compelling adventure here. I don't want to make one up, either. I think if your party has to travel through this place, it is well described, and a complete backdrop for an encounter with plains barbarians and the like. I am just not moved to bring my party through this place.

My youngest daughter just climbed out of her own crib, walked across the hall and climbed onto my bed to see the cat. Just climbed out of her own bed? With no help? She's not even 21 months old! How do I protect her now? Climbing out of bed at four in the morning and sticking her tongue in light sockets? Ye gods!

Sorry, just thought I'd share that as it happened.

I am impressed with the discipline it takes to flesh out this kind of society,honestly. The problem to me is that a great setting doesn't take discipline to flesh out. It takes over and you find yourself thinking about it instead of the schedule you're making or the game you're watching. Your research and work should pay off for you: you deserve kudos for that. But I am sorry: I don't stop listening to my family at Christmas and wander off thinking of nomadic cultures to throw into my DnD game. I just can't do it.


While I was reading this country I wanted it to work but I kept thinking "plains indians" from elementary school. Not horribly exciting (then or now).

I think the slave aspect was underplayed and could have made the entry better if it had been focused on (although that is where the word limit comes back to bite you in the butt I guess).

Overall the writing isn't bad and as a teacher "semi-nomadic" means that a people aren't constantly moving but still need to follow their food/resources and as a result they have developed a mobile culture with only semi-permanent (heh) shelter, so I don't have a problem with it

The entry overall is not bad (B- maybe) but is not overly inspiring. I was trying to think of an adventure I would set in this setting while reading it (in fact something I have decided is going to be my rule while reading the others)and could not really come up with anything. Not too evocative then in my book.

Goo

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013 aka exile

No problem Clark. Sorry I even blurted so much out before teh edit.

Chad

Osirion

Ok first I have read 3 other countries now both good and bad. I have this major problem with many comments that deal with adventures. This was not design an adventure it is design a country. So many people seem to be forgetting that fact in many of the entries. I had to get that off my chest.

Next I can see several nomad types mixed together, I personally feel a Native American Indian flavor, then the Mongolian and Huns seem to be present and finally painted wagons make me think of Gypsies. I enjoy the comments of Erik in regards to the leader as his name makes him sound big and nasty; I agree it invokes a real image in my mind. I can see the point where some people may get offended by the children used instead of goats, but it is unfortunate to say that this happened in our world as well, but the game did make me laugh when I read it.

I, as a GM would look to the country description for what type of monster to place but I would also think that my adventure would be based on retrieving a stolen person whom was made a slave, fight Barbarians to bring help to the river valley people or making contact at the settlement of Water Edge.

I agree that using the idea of slaves in very touchy subject but that in mind I think that it is a great way to show the “evils” of the barbarians, that harsh games that they play and the god that they worship (reminds me of something from Conan) set the feeling of the peoples that live here. Would I base an entire campaign here well I would defiantly need to see more of what is inside this country. I would look more towards the wizard Mansur and what seems be a budding or planning for conflict with him and the others barbarians.

I see several people that are “barrowing” this entry for their campaigns and I see only one answer hitting me back as to why, it is a nicely written country.

Good work and best of luck.

Now off to read a few more before I have to make dinner.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Steven T. Helt

SAbel wrote:
Ok first I have read 3 other countries now both good and bad. I have this major problem with many comments that deal with adventures. This was not design an adventure it is design a country. So many people seem to be forgetting that fact in many of the entries. I had to get that off my chest.

When I read these, I think of a gazeteer, or a setting book with several entries to choose from. The entries I am going to read from such a source are going to have great names, unique cultures and sites, and really copelling, scenic adventure ideas. The rest are page filler, and not superstar. You can read the whole Forgotten Realms campaign setting book, and only be really interested, according to taste, in two or three. The rest will never get read.

That's why these countires are viewed in terms of places to go adventuring. If my campaign isn't going to be exciting, I'm going to cut away non-exiting elements. As I said before, this whole entry seems fairly written and well-researched. That is not enough to me. If there isn't badass adventure directly called to mind by the country's description, I am not motivated to finish reading it, let alone let my campaign venture through the place.

If I ever need a harmless barbarian homeland, I know where to go.


Dungeon Grrrl wrote:
I think is a palce to be FROM, not one to go TO. As such I'll snag it for my gams, if anyone wants this for backgrouns, but I don't see setting any adventures there.

I think this cuts to the quick. It is place to be FROM not a place to go TO. Is that a bad thing though? Do all of the countries in a campaign setting need to be somewhere to adventure? Can't there be room for places that exist solely to give background to characters?

I dunno. I like the place.

El Skootro

Qadira

el_skootro wrote:
Can't there be room for places that exist solely to give background to characters?

Yes it can, but as the ancientsensei said, in a competition like this it may not be enough. To get my vote, a country must set my brains in motion. it must let me wish to immediately start a game in it. "Steppenland" failed with regard to this, and for the very same reasons others have mentioned before.

I have to admit that here my personal taste comes into play. I'm not in the niche this kind of country would appeal to. I've had my share of nomadic cultures and I generally dislike slavery outside of Dark Sun.

But to add something positive, I really liked the names which were much more evocative than in the other entries I've seen so far. And I like the father-daughter conflict

Osirion RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

WormysQueue wrote:
el_skootro wrote:
Can't there be room for places that exist solely to give background to characters?

Yes it can, but as the ancientsensei said, in a competition like this it may not be enough. To get my vote, a country must set my brains in motion. it must let me wish to immediately start a game in it. "Steppenland" failed with regard to this, and for the very same reasons others have mentioned before.

I have to admit that here my personal taste comes into play. I'm not in the niche this kind of country would appeal to. I've had my share of nomadic cultures and I generally dislike slavery outside of Dark Sun.

But to add something positive, I really liked the names which were much more evocative than in the other entries I've seen so far. And I like the father-daughter conflict

Uh oh, my entry had enslavement in it as well. Looks like I lost another vote! Noooooo....

I also liked the family conflict in terms of leadership of the societies, but I think I fall into the same camp as those who said this is a place to be FROM, but not necessarily one you'd want to bother going TO. I think you do need places like that in the game world, but for a competition you are almost forced to use some razzle-dazzle, something attention grabbing. A competently or even expertly executed vanilla just isn't going to jump to the head of the line when super-double-chocolate-insanity with sprinkles and a sparkler on top is on the menu. People won't say "yuck" when you give it to them, and they might even say "that might be pretty good," but they won't say "oh boy, I want THAT" either.


I read the name and starting singing to myself ..."Getcha motor runnin'...head out on the highway...lookin' for adventure, whatever comes our way. BORN TO WILD!" Geez...I'm old.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The Nomads. This one is an interesting premise, but as others have mentioned it’s almost more like an adventure location than a campaign setting. I like the Knowledge check DCs in the DMs secret, and the details on deities. I don’t think there is enough information about the interaction (or co-existence) between the Steppenlanders and the River Valley folk

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

OK, disclaimer: I mean all my comments to be constructively critical. I respect and admire all my peers in the top 32 for their effort, and truly hope that this will be a fruitful learning experience for all of us, if nothing else. Further, I have decided to look at my entry last, so as to maintain a "neutral" view on everyone else's work, and analyze it on its own merit as opposed to in comparison to the criticism I get for mine.

Steppenland:

I have a thing for "barbaric", "primitive", nomadic cultures. It's just a whole different level of "mysterious"... I enjoyed the writing style, the way information was laid out, and the elements from real-world non-western cultures were all very well blended. Congratulations on your writing style and research.

There are elements that I think would have contributed to making this setting a bit more intricate, hence opening up the gaps that allow PCs to filter in credibly. I don't particularly like the idea of slaves turned free living in opposition to the barbaric nomads... It would have been more evocative if the nomads were caught in the conflict of all nomadic societies: the pull of sedentary life and comfort once some of its members learn to live differently. A shamanistic cult of spirits (as opposed to organized worship of a single god) would also have contributed to making this setting more complex.

In all a very good writing style, and some really good imagery, creating a vivid picture of a primitive setting.

M

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013 aka exile

Thank you all for the comments so far. It's very nice (and valuable I think) to have some praise mixed with criticism.

Chad


Wolfgang Baur wrote:


Some of the writing is shaky. What does "semi-nomadic" mean, exactly? If they wander, they are nomadic.

Lots of people are semi-nomadic. I can totally defend the author here. They're just people that are nomadic for only a part of the year - growing crops or fishing in the off-season.

I guess more info could be given, but still. No problem with that, here.

***

That being said, I'm neutral towards this one. Don't know why - it just didn't "stick"


The entry set up some interesting conflicts and ideas, and then sidestepped into cool background flavor (some of which are as Wolfgang points out borrowed). That lost me a bit.

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

exile wrote:

Steppenland

Well realized land, it's coherent and has some solid flavor. I do agree it's a bit lacking in the adventure department, but more than that I'm not seeing a lot of interesting situations in general here.

Semi-nomadic is a perfectly acceptable term, widely used in real world cultural studies.

Born To Be Wild was the first thing I thought too, but sadly there's not enough Wild here.

Low maybe.

Taldor

I think it a well thought out concept for a land/country. I like the very real world historical flavour...I primarily think of the Magyars.

I don't understand, however, the criticism that there is little room of adventuring here. Adventuring doesn't mean one has to have stone walls or cities. A party of Barbarians/druid and or rangers would be interesing (another thing I think of here is some kind of Conan adventure out on the steppes)

and now that we come to it why does eveyone always think of that song and not the Book by Herman Hesse?

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka Darkjoy

Can I use it: Yes, but is there something to do?
Is it entertaining: Yes
Is it original: No

Final verdict: Rejected, it's very good but is there actually something there? It's like two countries for the price of one, but both are now bare bones.


I don't have an issue with slavery (as anyone reading Black Days of Kor Kammor in the Campaign journals can attest). Indeed, i find the idea of a sew of primitive cultures without any salvery questionable.

It's not that every country has to be a destingation. It's that the *best* use for my time and gaming buck is a country that sparks both characters from there, and adventures fgor me to set there. I only have so much reading time. *Anything* I read as source material that doesn't spark a slew of adventure ideas is a wasted opportunity. It's the difference between being okay, and being great.

There is no doubt for me this is okay, but is'nt great. It it in the top thrid? Mebbe, I haven't decided yet.

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Bad names start with the title and don't stop there. I'm particularly concerned about the god Dorn who approaches pretty close to Wizards IP.

I'm not convinced this is a country.

DM's Secrets only has one thing that I'd call a secret.

Not voting for this.

Qadira

Jason Nelson 20 wrote:
Uh oh, my entry had enslavement in it as well. Looks like I lost another vote! Noooooo....

We'll see if I have read your entry. :) And while I said that the setting isn't to my personal taste that does not mean that it couldn't get my vote nonetheless. I've promised to myself to be as impartial as I possibly can, so I won't reject a country just because it presents slavery.


I like this one. I like the nomad cultures though in the Kushiel and Fire&Ice series though as well. The Father Vs. Daughter sounds like a great adventure. The nomads in the river valley didn't do much for me - would have liked to hear more about the slaves and the outposts. It was easy and pleasurable to read.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka Sir_Wulf

A solid steppe culture, that draws from elements of several historical lands. Well-chosen details add to the realism of the setting. This is the sort of land that barbarian horsemen claim to be from, causing the effete sons of civilization to eye them nervously.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013 aka exile

Thanks for the recent love my entry is receiving. I love you all.

Chad

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6 aka adanedhel9

I think you did a great job designing a nation here, Chad. It really feels like it's a place that actually exists. The slaves, games, holidays, and social structures really make this entry stand out as believable. But, as others have said, it's not enough to be believable. It needs to be exciting, dangerous, or intriguing. And this entry doesn't do it for me.

Good writing, though, and your names are perfect. There's a couple ideas here that seem pulled straight from the real world; I'm not sure that I like that so much. But I certainly know people who would, so I don't really see it as a bad thing.

If this contest wasn't held under the context of a game, this nation could very easily be one of my favorites. Thanks for your entry, Chad!


Well, the writing is quite good and the entry seems to flow but it [the nation] doesn't really enthuse me. I'm not especially fond of the whole 'barbarian culture of the steppes' thing and the details given just don't make it somewhere I'd want to set an adventure. I agree that this is a fine place to have as a homeland for a PC but it just doesn't have the adventure potential necassary for a campaign to be placed there.
For some reason the name makes me laugh. I don't know why, it just does.
Another thing, I really like your names. They seem natural to the setting and exotic without being forced or over the top.


Didn't really strike me as anything special (and one is forced to wonder if this is a "country").
Nice details on customs etc so indeed this would be usable as a character background but little more...

Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
bcgambrell wrote:
I read the name and starting singing to myself ..."Getcha motor runnin'...head out on the highway...lookin' for adventure, whatever comes our way. BORN TO WILD!" Geez...I'm old.

Yeah.

I had the same problem.

I also had problems with the "Under New Management" country. What kind of a tagline is that?

Many of these entries have goofy or awkward names, either for the country or many of the characters. It's tough to run a game and say something like "Okay, so you meet Uz'krinkl Farheinmein, the Grande Kizihkhan of Marblepot. His assistant Greeblikin the Wizened and daughter Fabi are there also. He wants to hire you to journey to the neighboring kingdom of Copa-ca-bana to retrieve the Royal Cumsteyen, which was stolen in the night by the sorceress Pibi-ka Fu-nakala'zi."

I run a lot of convention campaign games, and that sort of thing is fatal to the mood of a table.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Place your votes.

Taldor

Nothing to like - a country off the beaten path in a game world.


I tossed this from my top 5 simply because of the name. We only get to pick 5 and "Steppenland" simply didn't do it for me.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

So the name threw me out of the gate - it has three strikes in and of itself:

1. Sounds too much like Perrenland from Greyhawk
2. Steppes, yes, we get it
3. Every wolf in it will be referred to as a "Steppenwolf" by my players

The writeup gets better - yes, tribes, kinda generic but I like the cultural bits you then put in. Some more distinction between the valley folk and the nomads would have been welcome.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka amusingsn

I really like how you made the "secrets" knowable using knowledge checks.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013 aka exile

Thanks Erik, appreciated.

Chad


This one is on the bubble for me, and that reminds me of my biggest issue with it. Steppenland seems to exist in a bubble of its own. There is no discussion of its role in a campaign world. I know this was "design a country" and not design COUNTRIES, but I couldn't help but wonder about imports/exports, conflict with outsiders, and even the presence of other races (tho the Aboleth brood is a step... nay, a giant leap... in the right direction).

The entry is well-written, and the presence of crunch, absent from many of the entries I've read, is to be applauded. The DM Secrets section, in particular, was well done with different levels of secret all based around a given tidbit.

Still, I can't wholeheartedly throw a vote at this one yet since it just feels so plains nomads generic. Slaves and games and horses, and more slaves and games and horses. There's some built-in conflict with family drama and all, but Steppenland itself doesn't feel like either a place IN peril or a place OF peril. It seems like no matter which barbarian is in charge, it'll just keep on truckin' north in the winter and south in the summer until the end of days. I prefer some sense of urgency, some call to action.

Thanks for sharing your entry and best wishes!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013 aka exile

Raymond,

Thanks for your well-thought out mix of praise and criticism. I am grateful to simply be on the bubble.

Chad


I'm slow outta the gate, this is the first entry I've had a chance to read.

I can only really mirror what others have said here. I love all the crunch, really helpful for a DM. I wouldn't have a problem finding adventure here for PCs, but I agree that more conflict built into the entry would have strengthened it.

I love it when different levels of Knowledge check results are provided, and I definitely got a good vision of the peoples through your description of holidays, weapons used, painted wagons, deities, etc. I think more description of the interaction between the nomads and the ex-slaves would have been nice...do the slaves live in constant terror of discovery, or do they successfully deter raiders, or have they struck a bargain with some tribes for either protection or "protection", or...?

Overall, I really like it. You've got some good writing skills. Whether or not it gets my vote will depend on the other 31, but you're definitely in the running.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013 aka exile

Basiliv,

I appreciate the early positive input from you. Be warned though, there are several great entries out there.

Chad


Nice place.

Word counts always hinder the detail which always keeps me interested. Looks good though.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013 aka exile

Thanks DS.

Chad


Hi all, as a historian of medieval Central Asia and friend of Chad I can say that it seems the word limit hindered him from getting some really interesting tidbits into his submission. I offered to him that the name didn't particularly resonate with me, but it raises an interesting design challenge. If you can choose a more specific flavored name for the region it brings it into a more specific historical feel perhaps. This would potentially alienate some folks who may prefer say, a Native American feel nomadic culture as opposed to Central Asian, or African, or whatever. So the more 'generic' name seems like a fair call to minimize alienation...though personally I would've given the entry a significantly more distinct flavor.

Beyond that, I thought it was a well designed submission, but agree that perhaps there could be more adventure seeds. However, it depends on what kinds of adventures a DM has in mind, because politically, the delicate relationship between 'steppe and sown' could create a wealth of possibilities due to their fragile and tense, but symbiotic relationship. I did suggest perhaps an 'evil' nomadic tribe that had morphed into some 'monster' after generations of excessive drinking of the blood of horses. Historically, nomads on long journeys that required speed often cut a vein on the neck of the horse drinking the blood for sustenance so they wouldn't have to dismount. I thought this historical tidbit could've possibly added a bit more color and allowed for a fun deviation and created a memorable 'fantastic' enemy for the region.

The word limit prevented this, and other ideas from being able to be used. I really don't see much that could be trimmed.

Also, yes, semi-nomadic is a very real identifier for some groups.

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