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RPG Superstar 2015

Malar, 'The Shattered Empire'


Round 2 - Top 32: Design a Country

1 to 50 of 64 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

Malar, "The Shattered Empire"

Geography

Malar is a temperate, barren, rugged, and rocky scrubland. It borders the coast of the Borund Ocean to the southwest, the Spinefist Mountains to the north and the Akteran plains to the east. Malar’s most notable geographical feature and major holy site, the three-mile wide Kadabora Crater, is located in the Myra Hills, just south of the mountains.

Settlements

Malar has few settlements, primarily port towns, mining towns or defensive strongholds. Most of the population lives in rural areas as nomadic herders. There are four significant cities. Bashkeran, a coastal city, is the traditional capital of Malar with an estimated population of 20,000, a mere shadow of the 300,000 it housed at the empire’s peak. Its great estates and temples are now mostly ruins. The port city of Kulkeran holds an estimated 17,000. It is the only city that has peaceful contact with the rest of the world, becoming a major stop for many merchant fleets. The stronghold of Tarkimet has a garrison of 4,000 that defend the Nokzor Pass, the only pass through the Spinefist Mountains leading into Malar. Kadaboran, a massive ramshackle of over 200,000, has grown around Kadabora Crater’s edge within the last two centuries to house the influx of pilgrims to the crater. The city is sorely lacking in amenities and infrastructure.

Government

Malar’s three urban centres are each ruled by a Kovor (Governor) whose power extends to many of the settlements in the cities’ immediate vicinity. Each of Malar’s strongholds follows a strict military hierarchy, answering to the Hepar (General) of Tarkimet. The rest of Malar is split into tribal districts, each ruled by the most prominent local family. The alignment of Malar presently tends towards lawful neutral.

The closest thing the Malarites have to a central ruler is the Bropok (Widower). He is in charge of the pilgrims that stream into Kadaboran. Many look to him and his council for guidance and solace. In many ways he has become the spiritual leader of the Malarites, inheriting the role that the Emperor once held. The current Bropok is Undard Vorokis. He is the Kovor of Kadaboran and an influential person within the realm. He is well connected to the other Kovor and many of the tribal leaders. His council is made up of advisors, sorcerers, wizards and warriors whom he has selected to aid him in ensuring the well being of the Malarites.

Economics

Malar’s primary resources are coal, copper, iron, silver, goats and sheep. The primary industries are mining and herding. Steel, raw ore, wool and finished goods of bone and metal are traded at the markets of Kulkeran to foreign merchants in exchange for foodstuffs and wood. Malarite steel is highly valued for its superior qualities. The common coin is the silver Kabek.

Religion

The Malarite deity, Kunra, was considered the mother of the Malarites. She taught her people strength and pride. Her clerics held great power among the people. Each Malarite Emperor also had to be a cleric of Kunra. The coronation of an Emperor was akin to a marriage ceremony. Many Emperors refused wives, stating they were the “husband of Kunra”. When Kunra fell the empire collapsed and her faithful withdrew in disarray to Bashkeran.

Peoples

The Malarites are hobgoblins. They are a sullen people, blunt and stand offish, but hard working with a driving need to prevail. Their pride is evident when dealing with others. They adhere stubbornly to tradition and are reluctant to change their ways.

History

For over 300 years the Malarite Empire expanded outwards from the city of Bashkeran, moving ever eastward. At its height the Empire encompassed all the lands from the Hukchin Desert and Kasshian Sea to the Spinefist Mountains and Borund Ocean, covering almost a third of the known world. The Malarites conquered all that stood before them. Their clerics were at the forefront of each battle, inspiring the armies with their words. In every land they entered the clerics of Kunra instituted the Malarite traditions and subjugated the local peoples. Soon a large portion of the world was forced to speak Goblin and follow the Malarite code of laws. The conquered people prayed for help. The gods took notice and approached Kunra. They asked her to rein in the Malarites. She refused, stating that if the gods could not protect their people, then those people deserved to be conquered. Enraged by her arrogance, the other gods slew her. She fell from the sky as a great burning orb. The impact of her remains created the Kadabora Crater in the Myra Hills. Deprived of their god the clerics became powerless. Leaderless and confused the Malarites faltered. The other gods rallied the conquered peoples. In a single bloody year, the Malarite Empire collapsed. 200 years have passed since Kunra fell, and within Malar old powers stir.

Dungeon Master’s Secrets

Note: Character levels and challenge ratings should reflect the campaign setting that Malar is being placed into.

The souls of the Malarites no longer have a deity to guide them to the afterlife. They walk the world as ethereal undead, looking for a way to cross over. They feel compelled to go to their deity’s final resting place. Thus, the crater is full of the souls of two centuries worth of Malarite dead.

When Kunra impacted with the Myra Hills, her essence was infused into pieces of the crater’s debris, which look like enchanted obsidian. These stones allow a character to become a cleric of Kunra, whose domains are Law, Strength and War. Possession of more than one stone confers no additional benefit. If a stone is lost, treat the character as an ex-cleric.

The Bropok has learned of the existence of these essence stones. He believes that if he places all the stones in the crater with the spirits of the dead he can bring Kunra back. He currently possesses an essence stone that he uses.

Many powerful magic items reside within the ruined temples of Bashkeran.

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. 998.
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? Submission uses the phrase "Dungeon Master" which is off limits.
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.

Note as to why submission was not auto-rejected: The judges met and decided that this rather hyper-technical issue was not enough for auto-rejection as it is a common misunderstanding of freelancers (since "DM" is OK). We decided not to require a level of SRD saavy that Clark or Ryan Dancey would have but that even true, current RPG Superstars in the industry right now dont have. Voters, however, may choose to take this into consideration as they see fit.

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

Fluff (writing, grammar, style, evocative prose, etc.): C+
The Good: Average but competent.
The Bad: Competent but average.

Crunch (basics, rules issues, depth of the setting, details, etc.): B-
The Good: There are some interesting nuggets here about the god and her clerics and the stones, etc.
The Bad: Not as fully developed as it could have been; a bit unfocused.

Design (choices made, format, naming, originality, theme, balance--ie, is the submission heavy in one part but lacking in another?): C-
The Good: The idea behind the deity and the loss of the deity is interesting. The naming is relatively good (except Malar, which is a FR deity, but that doesn't bother me that much). There is a theme, but it is poorly woven into the submission. The fallen god and the crater make for some interesting concepts.
The Bad: OK, I needed to know this was a hobgoblin country long before you slapped me in the face with it about half way through. That is poor design. The fact that you are designing a monstrous realm needs to be part of the key theme and needs to be up front. It can’t come as a surprise to me half-way in. I didn’t need the weak DM Note that levels should reflect the setting. YOU are the one that is supposed to make some design choices, don’t just shuffle it off on the home DM. The delivery on the idea of the deity and her loss is sub-par. As to format, I like it when designers depart from an accepted format and come up with their own format to aid in presentation of their content–in this case that didn’t happen. I thought this submission should have used the proposed format more closely. I don’t feel that breaking things up actually helped this submission. In the end, there is a relatively interesting idea here–a country with a fallen goddess and a forsaken people with an interesting geographic feature. But it is not tightly designed and there is no theme that wraps it up well.

Play (setting for adventure? campaign? is there conflict? are there play limitations?): C-
The Good: There is some conflict and stories do present themselves.
The Bad: This is more story than setting. I don’t really see how this is a place where heroic adventures are run by the PCs.

Tilt (my personal take, is it evocative? do I want to play there? does it capture my imagination?): C-
The Good: I guess if I wanted a land of ghostly hobgoblins, this would be it.
The Bad: I don’t really want a land of ghostly hobgoblins.

Overall: C
Poor execution of some good ideas hamper this submission, as does the fact that it is essentially a monstrous country with little action for PCs.

NOT RECOMMENDED for top 16.

Also, I can't help but comment on the fact that the submission uses the phrase "Dungeon Master" which is improper and is off limites. It is declared as Product Identity in the SRD and is not usable content.

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

Clark pretty much covers it: when I got to the information that the people are hobgoblins, it went from competent-but-not-inspiring to "WHat?!"

That information should have been front and center. The default RPG nations are human, maybe elven or dwarven. If your premise is a monster nation, burying that key fact is a big mistake.

Clark's point about "Dungeon Master" is a good one; DM would be fine according to the SRD/OGL, or Gamemaster, or whatever. True, the editor will probably catch that, but really, they shouldn't have to.

Not recommended.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

Ok, so right off the bat "Malar" is the name of a very important Forgotten Realms god, so as a publisher the first thing I'm thinking is "great, gotta change the name." I realize not everyone is an expert on the Forgotten Realms and this may just be a coincidence, but from my perspective it's an unfortunate one that sets me against the submission from the very first word.

I also think it's a mistake to launch into the geography section without already having given us some sense of why Malar is cool or why we should care about it. Since you're pulling these names out of the air they lack context for me--I'm learning about what's situated _around_ Malar before I really learn much about Malar itself.

In general your city names are better than your names for geographic features. The Spinefist Mountains is probably the worst offender, but Bashkeran, Tarkimet, Kulkeran, and and Kadabora strike me as much better examples. I particularly appreciate the "keran" suffix to two of the towns, which hints at a common language and helps to establish a national (or perhaps cultural) identity. That's a neat trick, and you've used it well here.

'The Malarites are hobgoblins." What? Seriously? And you waited until two-thirds of the way down the entry to let us know? That was a very bad choice, and possibly a fatal one in a contest like this. Ditching the top-line information summary we provided in the sample submission was a risky choice, and this is exactly why. It would have been much, much better to explain that we're dealing with a hobgoblin nation even in a throw-away reference in that top summary information, because that's info the reader needs from moment one. The only place that would have been worse to convey this information is in the "DM's Secrets" section.

Speaking of that section, the special "Note" that character levels and challenge ratings should be changed to fit the campaign is self-evident and thus a completely useless piece of information. What's more, the entry itself contains no challenge ratings or level information, so I'm wondering why you felt it important to specify.

The first secret, about the souls of the Malarite dead wandering since the death of their patron, is quite interesting, but this should have been foreshadowed in the general description of the Crater itself. (You would have had more room for such info had you not wasted words on the "Note" mentioned above, which is just one example of why that was a bad choice).

The requirement of owning a stone to become a cleric, while interesting from a background point of view, causes some SERIOUS problems with play balance and campaign flow. What happens if the cleric is taken prisoner and her stone is removed? What if it's stolen? What if it's left behind in the Abyss on a particularly frightful adventure? In some of these cases, by my reading of your words, that player is basically just screwed, which is (again) bad design. You'd get a similar "feel" if you'd said that clerics often use the obsidian shards as their divine focus--a player can eventually get a new one, and doesn't change classes simply because it went missing.

So, in summary, I like the idea of a hobgoblin nation and I like some of your place names, but this entry is well below my expectations for the contest and I do not recommend that it advance into the next round.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

Thanks guys, and taken to heart. I guess I have a little more to learn on the editing side of things. I appreciate the critiques and I'll use them in later writings. Thanks again.

WC

Scarab Sages

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

Not to be harsh, but I got kind of bored reading this entry. It just felt like a laundry list of population counts and garrison sizes. I almost quit reading before I got to the bit about hobgoblins. Now a country of hobgoblins, that could have been really cool. As the judges said, that should have been one of the first pieces of information given about your country.

~Rusty

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

I need to get something off my chest. I don't want to sound off the wall or anything, but, I did screw up. I broke the rules. I should be disqualified. I edited this thing a lot and I missed a glaring rules issue. I appreciate you guys letting me go on, but in all fairness, I did break the rules. I'm adult enough to realize that, and if you guys do want to disqualify the entry, I understand. I hope I don't sound like I'm whining, because I'm not.

Once again, thanks for the critique. For my first attempt at anything like this it has been VERY eye opening. Its made me want to try that bit harder. Thanks again.

WC

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

We had this discussion already. We all agreed that it isnt auto-rejection. We noted it as a factor, and decided to let the voters take it into account as they saw fit.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

We decided not to DQ you and instead are throwing you to the mercy of the voting public. They can decide if the accidental "Dungeon Master" is enough to un-earn their vote. We assumed it was an honest mistake.

--Erik

Scarab Sages

First off, Dungeonmaster isn't going to cost you any votes from me.

That said, yeah, Malar (and Malarite) are Faerun IP, and throw a huge wrench into your entry, not only because they're taken but because they throw a ton of unintended and confusing flavor into the entry that doesn't fit. Now on one hand, I could see that not everyone knows all the gods from all the core settings, but on the other you'd imagine that someone who wants to be an RPG Superstar would know Malar. Just sayin'.

The other problem is organizational. You lead with the fact that your nation is an underdeveloped land with a big meteor pit in it that barely produces anything and is of little interest to anyone. I almost stopped reading right there. It sounds like YOU aren't even sold about how this place might be cool. It sounds, from the tone, like you think it's lame. Red light flashing.

Truth be told, this place has a very good hook as a religious mecca for pilgrims and emperors who sacrifice their very souls to a goddess who has neither the power nor inclination to save them, dooming them to an afterlife as incoporeal shades. That rocks! Why didn't you make more hay out of that?? It gets buried in the entry and barely mentioned. Really a shame.

Also the place should NOT be a hobgoblin country. A whole nation of hobgoblins is too many hobgoblins, for one, but it also effectively makes roleplaying there with any normal PC group impractical in the extreme. It also denies folks from making clerics or other characters from your nation unless they want a hobgoblin PC--not the most popular choice. Even if the kingdom was 100% dwarven I would still say put more other races in. Even if it was 100% human (which, granted is lots more likely in typical D&D) I would still warn against it.

Yeah. I like the pilgrim/deity angle, but this one needs taken back to the garage for some serious overhaul. Good stuff in there, but it needs reworked.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

To the judges, once again, thanks.

To Grimcleaver, noted, and thanks for the critique. It is appreciated.

WC


One wonders if the order in which one reads affects the mindset. I liked this entry for going out of order, and then hitting me with being a nation of hobgoblins. Out of what, 20 that I read so far, it's one of 8 that I have marked down for rereading.


Spar wrote:

Malar, "The Shattered Empire"

As previously mentioned reordering of the information would seriously help this entry. Also, as with others, the use of Dungeonmaster will not cost you anything from me, whereas your forthrightness about screwing up and accepting the potential consequences gains you a bit.

All in all I like this entry. It has its problems but as a country of Hobgoblins it has major potential.

The entry reads to me like the kind of information that a neighboring country might have on it.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

DM/GM bad, but not a deal breaker.

Using the name of a well-known FR deity and not mentioning that the people of the country are hobgoblins until way down in the text...those are the problems.

6/10

The Exchange

Loved the spirits, loved the holy stones, hated the use of Malar.

I don't care about the IP issue, especially when I didn't know that too.

Cheers


I can’t get past Malar and Malarites.

As a Forgotten Realms buff and a huge fan of the People of the Black Blood, the name just kills it, which is a real shame.


I know names can be a real problem. More than ocne I'll "invent" a name I really like, only to discover it's the name of a major god, city, or character from something everyone in my group knows and I just forgot.

So now, I do a quick google search of every major name. In fact I tend to sit down and make long lists of names which I vet all at once, then cross off as I use therm. This is also good for making cultureally similar names, since I can see them all at once.

So, Superstars? there have been a few name issues over a few subm,issions. may I suggest you take 10 minutes and google them all first?

I lvoe the level fo talent in this contest, so this is a friendly suggestion, nto a crtitism. Even if I came up with some of these dieas, I couldn;t convey them half as well.

Dark Archive RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Contributor

Dungeon Grrrl wrote:


So, Superstars? there have been a few name issues over a few subm,issions. may I suggest you take 10 minutes and google them all first?

Google helped me come THIS close to not making a fool out of myself with names - I still screwed it up, of course, because I'm a reverse-ninja and can screw up pretty much anything.

Anyway: while the name didn't exist elswhere, a big CHUNK of it did, and I used quotes where no quotes should have gone.

BTW, WC - well done. Yes, formatting issues. Whatever.

Wonderful ideas, however, and an evocative landscape that I would be pleased to game in.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

Thanks for the kind words and criticisms guys, it is appreciated. It has already helped me with my writing.

As for Malar, I should have checked the name on Google. I honestly didn't know it was from FR (which I have a read a little of, but never played in).

The best part of these competitions is that we get a chance to learn, so we will do better. That's what I like the most. That and the cool stuff everyone comes up with.

Once again, thanks guys.

WC

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

Dungeon Grrrl wrote:


I know names can be a real problem. More than ocne I'll "invent" a name I really like, only to discover it's the name of a major god, city, or character from something everyone in my group knows and I just forgot.

So now, I do a quick google search of every major name. In fact I tend to sit down and make long lists of names which I vet all at once, then cross off as I use therm. This is also good for making cultureally similar names, since I can see them all at once.

So, Superstars? there have been a few name issues over a few subm,issions. may I suggest you take 10 minutes and google them all first?

I lvoe the level fo talent in this contest, so this is a friendly suggestion, nto a crtitism. Even if I came up with some of these dieas, I couldn;t convey them half as well.

Some sage advice. I'll take it to heart. Thanks.


You used the phrase Dungeon Master!!! You are dead to me! (Just kidding)

I thought the crater created by the dead god was a good idea. I really would have like to have seen you write more about that part of the country. Then you could have added extra hooks in the DM Secrets section.

Never use the word Spine in the name of a mountain range. It gets used all the time.

When I was reading it, I thought the name Malar and nationality Marlarite sounded like great choices. However, I also didn't realize it had already been used before in FR.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

Thanks Swamp Druid for the kind words.

When this is all said and done, I want to rewrite this entry to Superstar quality, regardless of what happens. Call it an OC behaviour situation if you will.

WC


Your country has a lot of really good ideas (dead goddess, wandering souls, and soulstones) but the hobgoblin part is what kills it for me. It should have been mentioned first thing and while I love the idea of a hobgoblin nation, without completely re-envisioning/redefining hobgoblins as they appear in the SRD and MM1, you couldn't have a normal group of players here. It is tough to see how you could pick up the PHB or SRD, role up some characters and start playing in this country.

Great ideas but unless you play an all monster/non-standard-race party I can't adventuring here being a possibility (especially for low level characters).

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

Thanks for the comments Aaron. Good points. We'll have to talk about playing styles after the competition.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

I liked the crater of dead souls and the essence stones (though having them be replaceable divine foci vs. "you lose yours and you're an ex-cleric" would have been a better way to go) and think you should have led with that and built outwards in your narrative from there, working in the death of the goddess and the collapse of the conquering empire as part of your explanation of the crater and its significance.

BTW, I was also very surprised 2/3 of the way in to find out it was a hobgoblin nation. The Malar thing didn't bother me, though I did recognize it as FR, but you probably should have led off telling us it was a 'monster' kingdom.

And now I've read all 32. Yay!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Dead gods and hobgoblins. Well, I think that most of the strengths and flaws of this submission have already been well and truly pointed out.

A nation of hobgoblins is good (but so many hobgoblins in this round!), noting it when you did loses me a bit. I would definitely agree with Grimcleaver that you do yourself a disservice by making it (or implying) 100% hobgoblins. If nothing else I’d like to see maybe an underclass of goblins, or a slave population of dwarves, or humans living in ghettoes and primitive villages or something.

For what it’s worth, I don’t hold the Dungeon Master thing against you at all. Given that DM is in the srd (and is explicitly used as a requirement in this round), I would have thought that Dungeon Master was too (although on reflection it makes sense that it is not). My mistake and yours, but I think it is entirely forgivable at this stage of the comp (and I think the judges made exactly the right call in handling it).

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015

I'm a big fan of the crater of ghosts. Sets my mind whirring there.

Don't care about the Dungeon Master thing personally.

But the hobgoblin thing I do care about. Way, way buried, and a literal "Huh?" moment when I came across it.

Also, not sure I see any reason they have to be hobgoblins.

There's a great hobgoblin nation that can't send it's dead to the underworld nation out there, but this doesn't quite find it.

If you really do rewrite, I'd do it with that as the central premise that influences every single choice you make.

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

I'm sorry about this, but I haven't even read your entry yet. I saw 'Malar' in the title and immediately I thought it would be in trouble from the FR reference. Adding the term dungeon master may not seem like a serious mis-step to some, but we have seen references to the other superstars Googling names and references to stay above blame. If you want to write for the industry, it has to occur to you to do that.

I can't advance a guy that didn't take an important legal precaution, when so many other competitors made it a priority.

Congatulations on making the top 32. I promise to enjoy your entry after I have commented on the rest and voted.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

@ Jason Nelso, Mothman and Clouds Without Water

Thanks for the words of encouragement and the criticism as well. It is appreciated and as I have said before, each remark makes me look at the piece and see what i could have done better. This whole competition, as I have said, has been a GREAT learning experience.

@ Ancientsensai

I totally understand where you are coming from in your post, and I admit is was a stupid error on my part. Google, however, as I have recently found, does not always give you appropriate results. Try it and you'll see. As for the rest of what you have said, I understand and thank you for your time. I really do appreciate every post.

Thanks again to all you,

WC


I personally think there is more subtlety here than people see at first glance (and first glance is what the editors are concentrating on due to their time restrictions and obviously other job duties).

1) A hobgoblin is normally LE. Here, a nation of hobgoblins is at LN. They are a traditional people, dealing with the loss of their god. The alignment change is subtle, yet important.

2) The essence stones make great openings for role-playing and adventures. A multi-classed party of clerics of Kunra would work fine. And who is to say that Kunra is the only god available? It is just the one most closely tied to the country. There are players that like to challenge themselves and take a "less than perfect" class to have an interesting role-playing experience.

3) While this might not be a first choice for some PCs as a country of origin, it might work well as a country to travel to. From a role-playing standpoint, a set of PC missionaries from another country trying to convert the natives to their religion would create excellent opportunities. And given the history of the people, maybe they would be willing to change. (Again, see alignment)

4) This country is one of the few that actually hints at more than just itself. The affect that a country has on its fellows creates good large scale politics and back story.

I'm not saying that this is the best entry out there, but it does have some good merits. At the same time, when I read it, it did read like a Gazetteer entry, which is what the editors said they were looking for, and I thought all the entries would be. Based on their comments, I am guessing that the editors are judging based on flashy, over-the-top type of material, not subtle role-playing opportunities.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

Thanks Section 8 for the insight and kind words. Much appreciated!

WC


section8 wrote:

I personally think there is more subtlety here than people see at first glance

I agree with Section8in this respect.

I feel that with the obvious errors aside (Malar = FR diety? I didn't know that either??, DM not= Dungeon Master???), this entry has a lot to offer a party in terms of intrigue and depth of play. Just getting into the country is a great way to start off the campaign.
Refering to the inhabitants as LN gives a good indication that the "DM" would be free to put as mundane or monstrous a face on the hobgoblins as they see fit. In any LN society you would have the good with the bad. By declaring the entire state as a "monstrous" country, we are assuming that EVERY hobgoblin must be evil. Why not take the stance that the evil hobgoblins we see elsewhere are the refuse of the Malarite society that have been kicked out to make their own way in the world? I personnaly think it was a very bold move to make this the "homeland" of the hobgoblin and allows for a lot of DM creativity with the local NPC's.

This was the first coutry I reviewed and frankly, I am giving it a vote simply because I liked the hobgoblin "slap" that came half way through. It really hooked me at that point. None of the others that I have read have had such a BIG hook right at the point where you really needed it.

Good job, WC. Keep it up

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6 aka adanedhel9

I'm with Section8 as well; there's a lot here that got buried by the rules discussion and the over-subtlety of the hobgoblins.

The crater of souls is a great idea and the strongest component of your entry, but I'd like to see it filled out more. Who knows about its effects? Does this knowledge change the dynamics of the region? Are there any other effects besides attracting souls? As a holy site, does it have worshippers and/or defenders?

The dead god thing is not my cup of tea, but I think you handled it well and worked it into the nation effectively. I'd like to have seen more about other religions; are there clerics from other nations proselytising in Malar? Are the old clerics trying to prop up their failing religion, or are they moving on?

Your names are pretty good. I was a bit thrown by them at first, but once the hobgoblin origin became apparent, I grew to like them.

Thanks for sharing, William.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

Thanks for the input Roguebear00 and Joe. I am glad to see that people are enjoying the country as well as critiquing it. Again, I'll take all the comments to heart and post a rewrite when this leg of the competition is done. Thanks again.

WC

Star Voter 2014

The writing was crisp (though it did not pull at me); a nation of hobgoblins is always fun. I picked up a general dour sense of a country (LN, hobgoblins, mining) . . .all of this was fine.

However, the following give me hesitation:

1) Malar. I know it is just a name, but its MALAR, one of the coolest evil deities in FR's fairly well-known pantheon!

2)The late admission that everyone was hobgoblin's and also the fact that to me it does not seem like it needs to be hobgoblins. The whole story could easily have been human-centric.

3)The general layout also is not as good as the average entry.

All the above being said, you are currently in my top 5. I love the idea of the stones of the dead god, and a country (a theocracy) losing their religion (Cue REM music). It is an idea that I want to steal and plant into my homebrew.

As of now you are in my top 5. I will alert you if that changes.

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Unfortunate name.

First sentence: OK, there's no problem in starting with geography, but this is a particularly choppy and uninteresting sentence.

It concerns me that there are 731 words in this entry before it gets to what happened to the Shattered Empire. This is very poor organisation and symptomatic of a lack of thought to readability throughout.

The essence stones are interesting but all of the useful bits of this entry could fit very comfortably into the last 200 words. Not voting for this.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

@The Last Rogue

Thanks for the support. Its nice to know a few like the ideas here. The criticism is also understood.

@Starglim

Noted. Thanks for reading it and letting me know what you thought. Criticism is sought.

To everyone who has taken the time to read my entry and post, thank you. Each post lets me see a little more of what I needed to do to make this country better.

WC


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

Place your votes.


Didn't know Dungeonmaster was not SRD so no points off from that...naming the nation after one of the annoying FR gods is irksome and the hobgoblin bomb on second half of the text are big editing issues...

Liked the DM secrets, so this would make an interesting adventure but as a country didn't care that much of it.


Just Hobgoblins?
It seems to me they should be the dominant race (and I liked the idea about making the soul-stones a spell focus- that way only some of the cleric spells would be denied at its loss); but not the only goblinoid race...
It also opens up the way for a variety of half-hobgoblin slave races from formerly subjugated peoples (they live here because they don't fit in anywhere else...).
- Arch

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

@ Magdalena and Arch

Thanks for the read and review. Its always nice to have feedback.

@ Talesin

Unsure what the post was for, but my votes have been cast.

On a side note, one of my first gaming buds was named Archie Harpell. Mr. Harper's name reminded me of him. Funny world we live in :)

WC

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

William, you are really doing a great job handling the comments. That is excellent professionalism. Nice work.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka amusingsn

I totally sympathize with the choice to go "Dungeon Master's Secrets". There's something that doesn't look right to me about "DM Secrets:"

Though I suppose we could make something really sinister out of it ...

Spoiler:
DMV Secrets.

Yikes!


Beyond the surprise reveal of the Malarites being hobgoblins, the country's name and the term Malarite is a bit of a problem. It would have been interesting to see a hobgoblin society that moved from its normal evil outlook to a more neutral one, but it almost seems like these guys have more or less always been this way.

I liked the idea of the wandering souls, but the deity figure just didn't strike me as a hobgoblin god one way or the other. I guess its strange, because I can't figure out what this country is suppose to be, other than a shock value of having a neutral hobgoblin country, which is kind of a one shot deal of limited use.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

@Clark

Thanks, that comment means a lot. I have always tried to be as professional as possible during this competition.

@Erik

Sigh, giggle, sigh. I don't know what DMV is like in the States, but the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) can be a nightmare up here in the Great White North. :)

@KnighterrantJr.

Fair enough and I can understand the comments. I tried something a little different and it didn't quite do what I was hoping it would. It's a learning experience and future attempts at writing will benefit from it.

To all, once again, thanks for taking the time for reading the thread, and posting your thought.

WC


For what it's worth, I'm not familiar with the FR pantheon, and probably wouldn't have thought to Google the name either. So there. ;-P

I think more on the way the Malarites interact with their neighbors would have been nice. Does Tarkimet see much action? You mention that only Kulkeran has peaceful contact with the outside world, but some expansion on what kind of contact there is would have helped. Others mentioned the oddness of making this place 100% hobgoblin, and I think more on the interactions might have made this a more user-friendly location.

I love the crater and the god, but again, how other nations/religions currently view these clerics would have been great.

I also agree that the names with common suffixes is a nice trick.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber

Just wanted to spread this comment about - a great job on all these entries to all the competitors. Many have be inspiring and interesting to read.
I have been reading these out of order, and this entry was the 2nd one I read. I apologize if I repeat what has been mentioned.

The feel I got was a haunted, battered land - the wandering ghosts and fallen goddess vibe are really evocative. It certainly has some interesting points buried in more basic details.

I'll admit that the Malar name attracted my attention because of the Forgotten Realms association, but truthfully I didn't find it to be a big deal. It's a good name - especially for a goblinoid society. The only problem really is that so many entries have used "Mal" as part of their evil/dark elements - be person, place or thing - that it's almost cliche'.

I think the hobgoblin thing was surprising in its placement in the material. Until then, I think I had a certain sympathy for this place; until you mentioned that the people were hobgoblins - then it just became more a case of feeling apathy for generally evil race.

There are some places that evoke a certain quality for a campaign or game world. Generally, it falls as:

a) Some place your players/PCs GO TO - for adventure, quests, missions, etc
b) Some place your players/PCs are FROM - this is their home and can be used as the basis for their background
c) Some place your players/PCs want TO STAY IN - they can adventure there; live in that society; and generally the game can be based there long term.

In this case, unless you plan on running a non-standard fantasy group, it's definetly (a) in terms of potential.

I like it, but compared to some entries, its unlikely to be in my top 5.


Great job William this gets one of my 5 votes.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

@Basiliv and Alex Martin

Thanks for the feed back and review. You have both made good points and I can see where you are coming from. Alex, I particularly liked your breakdown of what a country is for, very nice3. Thanks again to both of you.

@CastleMike

Thanks. Coming from you I consider this a high compliment. I have come to appreciate your insight into things, and having you like my country is an honour. Thanks again CastleMike.

Once again, to everyone who has taken the time and read the thread, thank you.

WC

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