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Impartial Tribunal


Round 5 - Top 6: Design an Encounter

1 to 50 of 57 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Cheliax RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Contributor

Impartial Tribunal (El 16)

History: At the haunted heart of the fallen Ordained Cathedral lies the Impartial Tribunal, where the Impartial Lord Adjudicator and his Three Peerless Justices once held supreme jurisdiction over the affairs of arch-wizards, dragons, various outsiders and more than a dozen nations of men, elves, dwarves and orcs. After an evil, chaotic miracle of great power (see “Campaign Notes: The Impartial Lord Adjudicator’s Curse”, below) robbed the Impartial Lord Adjudicator of his senses, the mighty kolyarut brutally scoured the chamber clean of life – and here he remains, quietly awaiting visitors to be judged . . . and executed.

---------------------------------------
Read-Aloud Text:
This chamber was conceived and built, by divine decree and zealot hands, solely to reinforce in the Accused a dread sense of their own insignificance before the awesome, crushing weight of Judgment - of that, there can be no doubt. Above the cracked, iron-shod doorway is bolted a steel placard emblazoned with a single phrase: “Obedience through Knowledge, Knowledge through Obedience.” In ages long past, this was a Paramount of Law Absolute – now, it is a tattered and ruined place of madness, loss, and the unburied dead.

Dried leaves and brittle, shattered bones crunch underfoot as the ancient doors swing wide. Towering to the vaulted ceiling, a massive pillar of finely wrought glass suffused with shimmering echoes of blue lightning commands your view – it faintly illuminates a dark-hued room of grand scope, celestial design, and artful symmetry. The way before you slopes gently up to the stone foot of the pillar, creating a dangerous chokepoint – while walls of polished mahogany, badly scarred with cuts and claw-marks, sweep toward the dark heavens on either side.

Layout: Because the players may already possess a fairly accurate map of the ancient chamber via contact with various NPC sages and lore-masters, research & use of Knowledge: History or spells such as legend lore, very little of the room’s layout may be mysterious to them. What lurks in the darkness of the Tribunal, however, is not immediately apparent.

The large, glowing glass pillar in the southern half of the chamber is purposefully placed at the top of the ramp to ruin line-of-sight to the throne or central witness stand, break charges & prevent easy raid-access to the room – the only way to obtain a better overview of the room is to move further in. As the players begin to explore, either moving up the ten-foot wide, twenty-five foot long hallway at the far south end of the chamber to obtain a better angle of observation or by using flight, divinations or other means to otherwise scout the room, read the following:

Investigating the ruins of the Tribunal, it becomes clear that the tome you seek must lie in the dimly lit libraries that frame the great throne at the far north end of the room – from which a shadowed, iron-plated figure silently watches you with impassive, glowing eyes.

Within the History Bookshelves on the far northwestern side of the chamber is tucked the only known copy of Xomauji’s Accounts of the Grey Spirit Void, a work of priceless antiquity – and the key to the party’s quest. Locating that particular work among the hundreds of other volumes here will require a mere DC: 20 Search check in the right part of the library, but the area is trapped, the bookshelf itself is poorly lit, and more than half of the library’s vast surface area is in exceptionally tight quarters. Using full-round actions to locate the book during a fight is a potentially suicidal endeavor.

Much of the southern half of the chamber is difficult terrain, crowded with the broken bodies of those who were slaughtered en masse on the fateful day of the Impartial Lord Adjudicator’s cursing. In addition, this vast circular chamber is lit poorly for combat purposes – the light sources in the room are:

  • The three glass pillars (hardness 1, 120 hp) that support the dome roof section in the center of the room,
  • A mirrored pair of fifty-foot-tall, ten foot wide floor-to-ceiling false windows (hardness 1, 6 hp) at the extreme east and west points of the room,
  • Two three-foot diameter glass globes (hardness 1, 36 hp), located east and west at the tops of the stairs to the Viewer’s Area in the southern half of the room,
  • Two three-foot diameter glass globes (hardness 1, 36 hp), located east and west next to the bookshelves in the northern half of the room, and
  • A twenty-foot tall glass statue of the God of Justice (hardness 1, 84 hp), located at the extreme north end of the room, which backlights the Impartial Lord Adjudicator’s Throne.

    All of these light sources are cunningly crafted of smooth, magically treated glass imbued with the power of lightning, and all shed a cold, bluish electrical light much like a torch (20 ft. illumination). This leaves large sections of the room in shadows, especially the Viewer’s Area in the southern half of the room and the library in the northern half of the room, where acolytes and monks burned candles during observation or study. The domed ceiling in the center of the room does not shed any light itself, but reflects a great deal of light from the three glowing pillars that support it – treat the witness stand in the exact center of the room as being brightly lit, as per a daylight spell.

    If destroyed by violence, any light source bursts in a spray of hot glass powder, an unleashed bolt of lightning and a scream of divine energy; treat this as a 13d6 flame strike, centered on the point of destruction, that does electricity damage instead of fire damage.

    Traps:
    A trio of wail of the banshee traps (CR 10 apiece) are located in the northern half of the room, thirty feet south of the far northern wall. The alarm spells that trigger the wails run in a line of continuous effects and are centered, respectively, on the southern-most tip of the History Bookshelf in the northwest, the southern-most tip of the Arcana Bookshelf in the northeast, and at the foot of the Throne. These traps were designed both to prevent theft of the precious tomes and to protect the Impartial Lord Adjudicator from would-be assassins – the password to circumvent the alarm is “Obedience”. Neither the Impartial Lord Adjudicator nor the Three Peerless Justices are capable of springing any of the traps.

    Creatures:
    Slain by powerful necromancy and sworn to protect the Impartial Lord Adjudicator until released of their oaths, the undead remnants of the Three Peerless Justices lurk here as Dread Wraiths, hidden beneath the floor, inside the walls, and within the stone feet of the pillars inside the chamber. Although the Justices immediately become aware of the PCs upon their entrance due to the Dread Wraith’s 60 ft. lifesense ability, the Three Peerless Justices wait to attack until the Impartial Lord Adjudicator is struck or speaks the word “oath-breaker.”

    Upon the Throne at the far north end of the chamber sits the Impartial Lord Adjudicator, silently awaiting those who seek his judgment. The Impartial Lord Adjudicator is a tragic figure, a broken puppet trapped in a repeating pattern of misjudgment and summary execution. He is certain that the world has gone mad – that every object, every spirit and every living being has become corrupted, body and soul, by Foulest Chaos.

    He begins all encounters with the starting attitude of ‘indifferent,’ but rapidly becomes angry and hostile, convinced that visitors are madmen, liars, thieves and oath-breakers. A single Sense Motive check, DC 20, will reveal that the eerily silent Impartial Lord Adjudicator grows more and more hostile with each breath the PCs speak and with each step forward that the PCs take. A result of 35 or more reveals that the Impartial Lord Adjudicator is trying to talk to them, and believes that the PCs are ignoring him.

    After three full rounds of failed parlay, the Impartial Lord Adjudicator denounces the PCs as “oath-breakers”, a word which echoes with power throughout the chamber, and moves to execute them. Upon that pronouncement, the Three Peerless Justices attack as well.

    Dread Wraiths (3)
    CR: 14 (11 apiece)
    hp 104
    ----------------
    Tactics
    ----------------
    During Combat: The Three Peerless Justices use the terrain, their speed and their ten-foot reach to great advantage, fading into walls, floors and ceilings and striking via Spring Attack. They are clever opponents, and will focus the majority of their attacks on arcane spell-casters, rogues, and other opponents with traditionally low Fortitude saves and similarly vulnerable Constitution scores.
    Morale: Sworn in life to unswervingly serve the Impartial Lord Adjudicator in all things and killed without release from that bond, the Three Peerless Justices will never retreat from combat. They cannot leave the Tribunal Chamber under any circumstances, although the wraiths that they spawn do.

    The Impartial Lord Adjudicator
    CR: 12
    hp 91
    Note: The Impartial Lord Adjudicator has all of the statistics and qualities of a standard kolyarut, except that the feat Quickened Spell-Like Ability (suggestion), which The Impartial Lord Adjudicator can no longer use, has been replaced with the feat Quickened Spell-Like Ability (invisibility).
    ----------------
    Tactics
    ----------------
    During Combat: The Impartial Lord Adjudicator begins most fights with a an enervation ray, usually fired at spell-casters, a quickened invisibility, and a move to the most advantageous ground available, presumably within range of the Wail of the Banshee traps, to which he is immune. He repeats this pattern as best he is able until dropped to half hit points or attacked in melee – the Impartial Lord Adjudicator is a well aware that his vampiric touch ability is simultaneously his most dangerous melee weapon and his best defense, using that ability almost exclusively.
    Morale: Unable to leave the Tribunal Chamber for any reason, the Impartial Lord Adjudicator will fight to the death to defend his ordained court against interlopers infected with Supernatural Chaos.

    Treasure: Although neither the Impartial Lord Adjudicator nor the Three Peerless Justices carry or possess any form of treasure, the value of the hundreds of tomes contained in the bookshelves should be calculated as treasure with value equal to that of a standard CR 16 Encounter, assuming that the PCs can find buyers.

    In addition, finding the copy of Xomauji’s Accounts of the Grey Spirit Void should unlock many mysteries and allow the PCs to head into the final stage of the adventure.

    XP Awards: Because this is a potentially exceptionally lethal encounter, the PCs should receive experience awards for defeating and overcoming the three wail of the banshee traps, the Three Peerless Justices and the Impartial Lord Adjudicator even if the PCs engage the encounter as a capture-the-flag smash-and-grab and do not defeat all of the creatures or spring all of the traps. Parties that successfully remove the Impartial Lord Adjudicator’s curse should receive an additional +20% reward on XP.

    Campaign Notes: Scaling the Encounter

    Spoiler:

    Adding a massive dimensional lock or forbiddance effect to the throne and library section in the northern half of the room adds to the difficulty to this encounter considerably, forcing the players to deal with a number of deadly foes head-on.

    For parties of 13th-14th level characters, consider replacing the three Dread Wraiths with five standard wraiths (the “Five Peerless Justices,” as it were) and removing the wail of the banshee trap in front of the throne.

    For parties of 18th-19th level characters, consider adding a pair of massive glass constructs, treated as Greater Stone Golems, located south of the two secondary witness stands guarding the stairs to the viewing areas – they attack at the “oath-breaker” command of the Impartial Lord Adjudicator, fighting until destroyed.

    Campaign Notes: The Impartial Lord Adjudicator’s Curse

    Spoiler:

    Of interest to the players may be the specifics of the Impartial Lord Adjudicator’s unique affliction – and its potential removal, which would require nothing short of a powerful and carefully-worded wish or miracle. The complex mind-clouding curse that afflicts the Impartial Lord Adjudicator is three-fold and one:

  • May the Impartial Lord Adjudicator hear only and always the vilest of Falsehoods, even when only the noblest of Truths are spoken.
    All statements made in the presence of the Impartial Lord Adjudicator register as deliberate, premeditated, damning lies for the purposes of his Spell-like Ability Discern Lies

  • May the Impartial Lord Adjudicator speak not a single word but Oath-Breaker, though his mind tell him that he judges long and wisely.
    Although he believes that he speaks, the Impartial Lord Adjudicator produces no sound except for the word “oath-breaker”, spoken before he kills. He becomes confused when other beings ignore and interrupt him.

  • May the Impartial Lord Adjudicator recoil at the bite of every blade, the crack of every stone, and at the touch of every being as if that weapon, man or beast were wrought of the raw madness of Chaos incarnate.
    Although it neither overcomes his damage reduction nor deals additional damage, the Impartial Lord Adjudicator reacts, psychologically, to contact from any weapon, natural or manufactured, as if it were Chaotic-aligned and Construct-Bane. He suffers a sort of scalding spiritual burn at any touch; this is proof positive to him that all of his assailants are beings of supernatural Chaos.

  • Above all, let the cause of his suffering remain ever hidden – let none of these three Curses become known to The Impartial Lord Adjudicator, that he may drift forever in a sea of doubt, confusion and horror.
    Although he possesses a very high Wisdom score, the Impartial Lord Adjudicator cannot (and MAY not) deduce the cause of his ills. Instead, he regards all other beings as infected by the power of supernatural Chaos, fit only for destruction.

    If the curse is removed, the Impartial Lord Adjudicator immediately comprehends what has occurred. He releases the Three Peerless Justices of their sworn duties; they instantly vanish, moving on to an honorable afterlife. He allows the PCs to leave with Xomauji’s Account, on the condition that they return it in one year, unharmed. He then returns to his eternal duties of wise judgment – tasking the PCs who rescued him to spread word of his renewed authority and to uncover the villain who cursed him, so that justice might be done. Discovering the source of this horrid affliction can serve as the jumping-off point for an entire series of high-level adventures.

  • Qadira Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

    The maps is a bit more than I expected for a judge's chamber, and I'm not sure I entirely follow it. But I don't care, the kolyarut judge has me hooked from the second sentence. Way to grab the reader!

    The commas in your readaloud text may be off (or maybe it's the way the clauses are tightly nested). But I suppose that's something to fix in editing. Still, annoying.

    The room is good, though it removes the focus from action to dwell on lighting, the book and architecture. Electric lighting is a nice retro touch, sort of Barrier Peaks-ish. I'm fine with this description for a while, though I wish there were a DC provided for that <i>flame strike</i> effect and the traps you mention don't seem to be marked on the map. Again, annoying.

    Finally we get back to the good stuff, the Three Peerless Justices and the Adjudicator (sounds like my car insurance guys, but that's another story). I like the dread wraiths waiting to pounce, though I'm not entirely clear why the Adjudicator is silent but thinks he speaks (ah, there it is, in the spoiler -- great work on that curse). The curse may be a thin excuse to set up the combat, or it may be something that the players actually discover. I'm guessing it's about setting up the combat.

    And the combat promises to be a great one, what with word "oath-breaker" hanging in the air, the multiple levels, the Spring Attacking incorporeal wraiths, the traps firing off.

    I've spent this whole contest wondering what would happen if you wrote something that was a little closer to mainstream D&D. I'm very happy to see the result.

    Recommended.

    Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

    This is an exceptional entry. We asked for an encounter that was something other than the big fight at the end, and you give us a bombastic entry that would be the "money shot" in a lot of people's whole adventure, but with you I imagine there is just an endless string of rooms like this, each slightly more uber than the one that came before.

    Two elements you will want to look out for in the future. You still tend to capitalize buzzwords for little reason other than to be clever, and while I keep getting more and more excited to see what you produce each round, I am beyond tired of this aspect of your craft. It's annoying.

    Secondly, I think you tend to be a little chatty in tone when you're dealing with rules material. Saying stuff like finding Accounts of the Gray Spirit Void (great name) requires a "mere" DC 20 check inserts your opinion into what should be straightforward rules text, which can lead to a lack of clarity at times. It doesn't really here, but please do watch out for it.

    The wail of the banshee traps should have trap stat blocks. Just as for monsters, there is a specific way to present trap information--again to make sure that all of the info is up front and easily understandable.

    Otherwise, this is pretty awesome.

    At this point I can say I would definitely buy a module written by you, and I would quite likely publish one too.

    You have, to me, proven that you can walk the walk. You've been talking the talk since the very first round, and I think you could very well win this entire thing.

    Good luck.

    I strongly recommend Clinton Boomer for the final round of RPG Superstar.

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

    Encounter Concept (name/title, is it actually an encounter?, design choices, usability?, conflict and interaction?, is it memorable?, part of a larger adventure?, monster choices?): A+

    The Good: A cursed inevitable and three dread wraiths in a obstacle-filled, killer trap infested, court room full of three-dimensional action. Great monster choices. Very, very memorable. Works as part of a larger adventure. Great design choices. Excellent conflict and interaction.

    The Bad: None.

    Map (well done?, legible?, encounter keyed to the map?, exciting and memorable location?, well integrated?, all necessary info for cartographer?): B

    The Good: Nice design of the room. Good encounter space. Well thought out. Nice height differences. This is an excellent place for an encounter. It has all the info a cartographer needs, and then some. Legible enough. Memorable. Very well integrated. What is labeled is labeled well (but see lack of trap markings, below).

    The Bad: Can you please tell me why the traps and triggers are not located on the map? That is a huge flaw in my view. Yes, I can get that info from the text but it should be on the map. The room is interesting but I think the map is a bit much. It just feels so frantic with all the markings (but missing the few that are really key—the location of the traps). Frankly, your map is exactly what I expected from you—an ADHD extravaganza! And I mean that in a good way. But it is a little crazy and all over the place, which I also mean in as good a way as crazy and all over the place can be. The missing traps cost you a full letter grade.

    Crunch (mandatory content such as EL, XP, reward, appropriate read aloud text, format choices and organization, stat blocks, monster selections, tactics, etc.): A+

    The Good: Crunch is great, treasure is great, rewards are great, stat blocks are great, spoilers are great, curse is great.

    Writing (quality of read aloud text, publishable quality?, over/under-written?, quality of description): A-

    The Good: Very well done. You finally condensed your amazing talent into the confines of something that is publishable. I have been waiting for this. You give us all the crunch we need with just enough of your patented Boomer funky sauce to make it clear that this is a Boomer submission. You are learning that less is more and that every sentence doesn’t have to be a Tarantino-esque screaming plot twist. For instance, you give us: “If destroyed by violence, any light source bursts in a spray of hot glass powder, an unleashed bolt of lightning and a scream of divine energy,” which is a beautiful amount of Boomer flavor without being too over the top.

    The Bad: I actually don’t think the first paragraph of the read aloud text should be read aloud text. That is pure introduction. The second paragraph, though, is right on. The next bit of read aloud text also includes some presumed motivation—any search of the room and you have to tell them about a book they seek? Maybe they aren’t seeking a book. I’m not going to ding you too hard but remember that people may come and search this room for various reasons. It should have read: “…to otherwise scout the room to locate Xomauji’s tome, read…” Plus, I shouldn’t be learning about the tome in read aloud text. I think that we should have known about that first. I would have moved the paragraph about the book up a bit before that read aloud text and before the part about searching the room.

    Tilt (did it grab me?, is it unique and cool?, do I like it?): A+

    The Good: See above. Unique, cool, grabbed me and shook me like a rag doll and threw me across the room. I can only imagine how fun an encounter in this room would run in actual play.

    The Bad: Map could have been a bit less frantic and better with the traps.

    Overall: A

    This is exactly what I have been waiting for from you, Boomer.

    Strongly RECOMMENDED for Top 4.

    Shadow Lodge

    Boomer!!!

    You did it! You finally did it! Outstanding!


    mmmmmmmmmmmmm

    RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013 aka Core

    Well written? In places.

    Is it an encounter? Yes

    Would I use it? No

    1.5/3

    Nothing really wrong but it, but others outshine it creatively. The writing confuses me in many places and I had to re-read several areas. I can understand fluffing the flavor but fluffing the mechanics seems odd to me. "Because this is a potentially exceptionally lethal encounter," ? Read that three times fast. Why not just say "Because of the encounters difficulty,"?

    The Impartial Lord Adjudicator’s Curse is the most interesting part and is an interesting idea. Beyond that most areas are lacking.

    (Edit: sorry for the edit, I pasted the wrong thing in here on accident)

    Taldor

    I have voted for you every round and I am certainly not going to stop no. I love everything you have done.

    Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

    More later, once I've read the others and thought about all of the entries, but...

    Nicely done, sir. Nicely done indeed.

    Distilled, condensed essence of Boomer.

    We all wondered if you could, now we know.

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

    I am going to read the rest, but be warned this struck me with a big blast of "meh".

    But then sleds, orcs, fire is a hard act to beat


    Overall I like this but my players would be a might bit peeved if the only treasure they received was a 'truck' load of musty old tomes. Other than that I definitely think this warrants votes to the top 4.
    (And, you weren't joking about your mapping skills! :)


    A superior entry.

    The +20% exp bonus is exactly the kind of thing I like to see. I don't like exp bonuses for encounters that are harder than standard for the EL. I do like exp bonuses for actions the PCs take that go above and beyond a simple defeat of the challenges.

    The map is a little ambitious. What happens if the PCs break all the ceiling supports?

    Also, what is the DC for the Knowledge check to know about the room's lore?

    But these are minor editing concerns. Well done.


    This is a very interesting encounter. I could see myself using it and *SNEAK ATTACK*...

    ~clears my throat~ Sorry about that. I tried to hold it in, but it just came out. ~looks embarressed and slinks off to hide my head in shame~

    Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

    Sharoth wrote:

    This is a very interesting encounter. I could see myself using it and *SNEAK ATTACK*...

    ~clears my throat~ Sorry about that. I tried to hold it in, but it just came out. ~looks embaresed and slinks off to hide my head in shame~

    Haha!

    You can't be blamed.

    RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Ezekiel Shanoax, the Stormchild

    Stupendous! A truly magnificent encounter.

    The names of everything are straightforward and cool - and you have managed to avoid what was cited in past entries as excessive verbosity and use of 'of-the-adjective-hyphen-noun'.

    I also think this encounter has a wonderful capacity for being inserted into any number of campaign worlds. Everywhere has judges and courts. There's nothing here so strangely flavored that it would exclude the encounter from being used in certain campaigns. This seems to me to be a great encounter to slip into a magazine - easy to pick up, run, and TPK with (err... I mean, challenge your party and delight your players).

    This entry shows your growth, creativity, and capacity for accepting input as a contestant. In the world of game design, working /with/ your editors and publishers /for/ a variable consuming public, that's what will make you a true SUPERSTAR.

    A big vote for this one. Huzzah!

    RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Sheyd

    Ah Boomer you did not disappoint. You reined in your bombastic-ness just enough to make a solid and useful encounter. Yeah I could see myself using this.


    The map looks like a guy wearing glasses, with a pencil mustache, sticking his tongue out. That is AWESOME! Move on to Final 4!

    Cheliax RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Contributor

    I wholeheartedly thank the Judges and the voters for their insights, their criticisms, their encouragement, and their support!

    I ask only for more feedback!

    /Exclamation points!


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

    I like this one. The map is a little much. And there's seemingly extraneous details - who's gonna bother to do enough damage to any light source to make it explode? But the core combat is cool and the background writeup is nice. I got into it more than any writeup except Christine's. A-.


    This is IMO by far your best work, you came back with something a bit more mainstream and useable but still dripping with juicy Boomer goodness. As always, your flavor text is out of this world but this time it's grounded with some great crunch, enough so that those of us who aren't demigods of brain-melting adjectives can appreciate your wordsmithery without our skulls imploding.

    My only problem is that while your map is definitely the most detailed, 50 percent of the text on it is barely dark enough to be legible (which is very sad seeing how much work you put into it.) While this might be a scanner issue, it really stands out based on the excellence of the rest of your submission. Also, with such attention to the little details on the map, the absence of trap locations is a puzzling omission.

    But all in all, you definitely got the message - big time props.

    Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

    It would look impressively gloomy, foreboding and half-ruined with some really neat lighting effects. I'd love to see how a cartographer could render this.

    I won't fault your drafting or the couple of small questions I have about the room layout, but the map could use more information: It should show where the traps, difficult terrain and starting posts of the Three Peerless Justices are (this last is not quite clear to me from the text either). It would be a bonus if it showed the lit areas, though given it's EL 16, I wonder how many PCs will have to worry about that once they're within darkvision range.

    The descriptions are quite clear, and if anything over-restrained. I would have liked to know more about the remains so thickly littering the southern area. The curse is brilliant but possibly could have helped the DM out more with suggestions for how it might be broken.

    Osirion

    Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
    Starglim wrote:
    The curse is brilliant but possibly could have helped the DM out more with suggestions for how it might be broken.

    I can't see the curse being broken, unless the PCs are going in fore-warned.

    After all, the kolyarut believes them all to be lying deceivers, wielding anarchic weapons, he doesn't realise he's cursed, and can't tell anyone about the curse, even if he knew (though he would believe he was telling them, and they were ignoring him, thus compounding his belief that they are enemies). A delightfully vicious cycle!

    As a chapter in a longer adventure, where the PCs go in, aware that the judges' curse requires breaking, this could be very intense. They may have a level of sympathy for the judges, and if so, would be fighting a battle with their hands tied, trying to restrain or contain the judges long enough to gain the items they seek, and beat a retreat. Discovering the nature of the curse, and/or lifting it would be the icing on the cake, but may be beyond them.

    Running the encounter without prior warning of the curse would be far less successful. A common problem with many adventures is that the DM has pages of backstory for the NPCs, but if the PCs never learn of it, it may as well not exist. The DM can't expect the players to marvel at, and engage with, the tragedy of the situation, if he doesn't give them anything to work with. As far as the players would be concerned, "We went to the library, and got jumped by some wacko!". They'll react to the attack with (quite justifiable) lethal force, then stand over the smoking corpses, wondering "What was his problem?". Running the encounter this way, would be a wasted opportunity, and not do justice to the writer's efforts.


    Your map is busy as all hell and missing some vital info. I'm not particularly happy with the design of the seating area, as the stairs seems awkwardly placed. It would make more sense to me if they branched off from the ramp area, creating a choice for the PCs right off the bat. I also would prefer a different arrangement for the columns, likely adding a fourth one and setting them up in a square pattern so as to no block the judge's view of any of the witness stands.

    It's very telling that my only complaints are in the aesthetic department, though. Great stuff!

    Silver Crusade

    Ernest Mueller wrote:
    I like this one. The map is a little much. And there's seemingly extraneous details - who's gonna bother to do enough damage to any light source to make it explode?

    I would and mirror the comments posted previously by BiggusGeekus, when i first read that there were three glass pillars supporting the dome the idea of knocking them down came to mind.

    I would have liked some information on what would happen then, partial dome collapse, all of it? etc, but i suppose that might be asking to much.

    All in all i really enjoyed this one and it will be getting my vote.

    Andoran RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka JoelF847

    Arrgh! Messageboard ate my post. I'll try to summarize:

    Way too much time on lighting and effects of destruction, especially without a compelling reason for the PCs or monsters to break them. It would have been cooler if the lighting made the witness stand act as natural daylight and thus given the PCs a safe spot from the wraiths due to their sunlight powerlessness.

    Liked the mix of monsters, but both are rogue killers, being immune to sneak attacks. A rogue could deal with the traps and find the book while the other PCs fight, but there's no clues that traps exist (unless some earlier room gives hints, or their existence is divined magically), and with 3 of them, finding and then disarming them is a minimum of 6 rounds, plus searching for the book, plus movement around the room means it's practically impossible for a rogue to get the book out before the fight's over one way or another.

    Other than all that, I liked the room layout and interesting mix of stuff happening in combat, but it wasn't clear until the end with the curse why the inevitable couldn't use the quickened suggestion. After reading the reason, I was left wondering, "did the curse give him the benefit of swapping a no longer useful feat for a better one?" He certainly couldn't since he doesn't know the curse existed.


    I find myself having trouble judging this fairly. I'm not used to other people's pencil maps. I would have drawn it differently, but then it's for the cartagrapher, not me. Other than missing trap info, it does seem to complete and well thought out.

    I think the fight might be more dynamic with more moving, or moveable, map elements. that said, I *like* the notes about destroyign the lighting, so you can't please everyone.

    Overall a fine effort, and as Erik said, I suspect just another encounter for your home campaigns, which I am now really curious about.

    RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Ezekiel Shanoax, the Stormchild

    Clark Peterson wrote:
    Map The Bad: Can you please tell me why the traps and triggers are not located on the map? That is a huge flaw in my view. Yes, I can get that info from the text but it should be on the map.

    The critical question is whether the map presented is supposed to be the DM's map, or the map to show to the players.

    The submission above strikes me clearly as a map intended for direct presentation to the players - pull it out and slap it down on the table immediately, for all to see.

    There's nothing I hate more (map-wise) than when I've got an otherwise great map with DM's secrets marked on it, and no 'clean copy' I can show to the players without having to re-copy it (ugh) or do some photocopier/white-out gymnastics in order to come up with something I can show to my players. (The players conspicuously avoid the white-out areas...)

    I would guess that's why we don't see traps, hidden monster locations, or other secrets on this map.


    I have to give you props for designing a truly interesting encounter without going overboard with the flowery prose. That has been my main beef with your entries so far, but this one does not suffer from the 'gonzo' effect. I like it.

    My only problem is that I only have two votes. One of my votes is already taken so I'm still trying to figure out who to give my second vote to. You're right up there this time. :)


    This is definitely my favorite Boomer entry. I love the idea of some old court with a twisted mechanical judge still holding session on anyone that shows up. Too much time spent on lighting and scaling down to regular wraiths for 13th level characters seems like a bad idea, sounds like an auto turn for a cleric that high level but other than that I loved it.

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

    Meetogous wrote:
    The map looks like a guy wearing glasses, with a pencil mustache, sticking his tongue out. That is AWESOME! Move on to Final 4!

    I was gonna say the same thing.

    And now i just did!

    The whole encounter rocks big time, but my favorite part is the description of the curse. Very nicely done. Just the right spice of gonzo without overkill, and also standing out for making a high-level encounter without it being a 'boss' encounter (though it could work great as that as well if you wanted it to). Big ups, bro!

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

    Ernest Mueller wrote:
    I like this one. The map is a little much. And there's seemingly extraneous details - who's gonna bother to do enough damage to any light source to make it explode? But the core combat is cool and the background writeup is nice. I got into it more than any writeup except Christine's. A-.

    I think it's good info to include even if someone wouldn't do it on purpose. Plus, at high levels there's a lot of collateral damage going on, and this is just the kind of detail you need to see whether that meteor swarm you just threw at the bad guys sets off a giant exploding-factory-in-a-Terminator-movie kind of special effects. Heck, you could bull rush the Lord High Adjudicator into a pillar and smash it open on HIM instead! That would be awesome!

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

    JoelF847 wrote:

    Arrgh! Messageboard ate my post. I'll try to summarize:

    Way too much time on lighting and effects of destruction, especially without a compelling reason for the PCs or monsters to break them. It would have been cooler if the lighting made the witness stand act as natural daylight and thus given the PCs a safe spot from the wraiths due to their sunlight powerlessness.

    Liked the mix of monsters, but both are rogue killers, being immune to sneak attacks. A rogue could deal with the traps and find the book while the other PCs fight, but there's no clues that traps exist (unless some earlier room gives hints, or their existence is divined magically), and with 3 of them, finding and then disarming them is a minimum of 6 rounds, plus searching for the book, plus movement around the room means it's practically impossible for a rogue to get the book out before the fight's over one way or another.

    Other than all that, I liked the room layout and interesting mix of stuff happening in combat, but it wasn't clear until the end with the curse why the inevitable couldn't use the quickened suggestion. After reading the reason, I was left wondering, "did the curse give him the benefit of swapping a no longer useful feat for a better one?" He certainly couldn't since he doesn't know the curse existed.

    That is a good point. He would probably try to use quickened suggestion on the PCs and be frustrated that they kept 'resisting' his spell. As far as he knows, that feat still works just fine. Just those darn chaotic oath-breaking scum keep ignoring his judicial edicts!

    And yes, it would suck to be a rogue in this encounter. Make sure you maxed your Use Magic Device skill I guess...


    I agree with the accounts before that this is by far the easiest to read Boomer entry, which makes me happy. A couple of the earlier entries drove me to near madness trying to absorb what's going on through all of the text. This one has good balance of descriptiveness, Boomer flavor, and being reader-friendly with text.

    Nice work Boom---Keep on truckin'!

    ~~~Nightstalkers, Tordek's Alter Ego


    Clouds Without Water wrote:

    Distilled, condensed essence of Boomer.

    What he said.

    Booms, I haven't really gone for any of your earlier entries - I thought it was mainly because the underlying themes you chose just didn't fit well with my tastes but now I realize that it was actually the over-the-top flavour of your writing which was wa-a-a-ay too spicy for me - in the same way that five-peppers-hot thai curry is too spicy for the average tastebud.

    But distill that flavour down and condense it into a three-peppers-hot thai curry sauce and, boy, it's pretty tasty, actually, even if it will still clear the sinuses.

    The layout of the room is great - I love how you think of things like deliberately blocking the ability to view or rush the throne from the entrance way. I also loved the atmosphere of the dim "electric blue" lighting produced by the glass pillars - very, very cool.

    I agree that it's not perfect - especially missing the traps on the map and not including the necessary trap stat blocks, for example - but it's still good enough that it's snagged my second vote.

    Good luck in the next round!

    :-j(enni)


    Chase on Charred Ground

    Ugh. Map did not scan well. Problem #1. Problem #2 – it’s waay too busy. I think you’re trying to do something cool here (I am writing before I read the entry), but right off the bat this is going to be a PITA for the cartographer. (Not that I haven’t created such things myself. Heh.)

    Now, you start off pulling me in with an explanation, or at least bridging text, so that’s good. Kolyaruts are okay, though I don’t quite care for them. However, it isn’t until several paragraphs in that I learn that the party is here after a tome.

    That the chamber is littered with bodies in the southern end is interesting. I like it. That the read-aloud doesn’t mention them? Not good. The PCs want to see obvious things. Bodies are generally more obvious than glowy-eye guardians. Which are admittedly #2 or #3 of “we want to know this”, but still.

    You give us a pile of magical light sources in different vessels that can break apart and/or cause damage. We don’t know what the magical basis for them are. I like the idea. That’s really cool to make light dangerous and a big part of the encounter. It needs more definition because D&D as a system cries out for things that need to be resolved swiftly. The more you put down about exactly what the effect is, the less the guy running the adventure has to look up or extrapolate later. What are the caster levels for dispel magic purposes? That’s a big detail. We have a clue that it’s probably CL 13 based upon the effect of the flame strike, but these things do a lot more than that so that isn’t as helpful as it might appear upon first blush. (And if they don’t shatter, are they valuable?) You would have been better off defining these as traps that provide light.

    You also left out the caster level on the wail of the banshee spells. That’s a ninth level spell. There’s three of them. This place is chock full of deadly magic. This is a triple save or die. That’s probably best avoided, even at EL16. A mass hold monster would be appropriate and reasonable. Again, caster level was left off.

    The Imperial Lord Adjudicator’s curse is interesting. Very interesting. But not at all apparent to the PCs. This encounter feels schizo. On the one hand, it’s a challenge for a high level group. Cool. Those are hard to write; this looks pretty decent. On the other hand, there’s a mystery here, but no significant clues as to how to solve it. On the gripping hand, it seems like a setup to draw the PCs in and justify the kolyarut attacking when there would otherwise be no justification. However, I think it could be a lot simpler. The tower is sacred ground to the inevitables. Entry is forbidden, and thus breaking the law.

    I like this encounter on some levels. There are many things that I think need work though. This really is a BBEG encounter. A near-final showdown in a campaign nearing the end. It’s got a lot going on, which is already a problem at 16th level, and now it’s compounded. You do stretch and go forward again with a lot of gonzo imagination, and that’s excellent. I do commend you for some imaginitive stuff here.

    For purposes of this review, I did not read other’s comments.

    Taldor

    This is definitely your best writing yet. And yet, I sort of have to agree with Darkjoy. At the end, I was left going,...okay, so they killed the cursed guy, took all the books, and so now what? As a piece of a bigger picture I am sure this works fine, I'm just going to have to read the last two before deciding on this one.


    Boomer:
    I like that you have finally managed to produce an organised and relatively clear entry to this contest. I have no problems with the map; I understand how fiddly and time-consuming using a scanner can be- especially if you have little/no former experience of using one. I was slightly concerned that you hadn't got a pair of compasses out to try and mark the areas of the alarm spells, wail traps, etc, but I take the point that one of the former posters made that this could be a map produced to be a player handout of the room.
    In your defence (eep; I wasn't expecting to find myself saying that) I have no problem wth death effects/level-drain at this level. 15th-16th level parties have access to death-ward and multiple divination effects, and I can find nothing in the encounter outline to to indicate that such things are blocked in the chamber. This seems to me like a 'routine encounter' (unless there is some kind of intense time pressure on the PCs) for 15th-16th level characters, as was required by the guidelines.
    As a mild criticism I would have simply gone with 'fourfold curse' on the Lord Adjudicator instead of saying that it is 'three-fold and one'. Reading through it, it looks like there are four different afflictions in terms of effects there, even if one of them is a 'blanket' one, whilst the others target specific things.
    Hmmm. The Lord Adjudicator doesn't seem to get out and about much, as he doesn't ever leave this room; I wonder if the 'curse' would translate into a small elven mythal (almost certainly not SRD) which covers just this room- with three minor powers and one major power....


    I have seen so many concerns posted about the TRAPS that I thought I'd point out that Boomer created a hot-link to the SRD entry for the trap - it has the caster level, the DC, and hot-links to the spells used in creating it.

    For those people (like varianor) having trouble with the three wail of the banshee traps, particularly those confused about Caster Level, click on the blue words "wail of the banshee" under the word Traps in the submission.

    I caught the links on my first read-through, but with so many comments that the traps haven't been properly covered, I figure the links must be easy to miss on some computers; but the traps' links are there.


    Laserray wrote:
    For those people (like varianor) having trouble with the three wail of the banshee traps, particularly those confused about Caster Level, click on the blue words "wail of the banshee" under the word Traps in the submission.

    What was missing was including the word 'traps' in the hyperlink. I audit these with the SRD already open, so I don't click the link.

    That said, my issue is not with the traps. They are book standard and perfectly cool. My issue is with the save or die effect. It also doesn't quite square in my mind with a tower built for an inevitable. They are lawful creatures, but why execute before judging? Hence why I think a mass hold monster trap would be more in keeping. Inevitable comes off throne, surveys the squirming masses of PCs, then issues (warped) judgment.

    That said, it was a minor point to an overall decent entry. I think if I had to sum this one up in sentence, it would be "Good work that would be great if the reader could see the idea of the whole encounter in a single paragraph plus a map."

    Cheliax RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Contributor

    I thank each and every one of my awesome Paizo-People for commenting on my encounter - I am fighting off the Martian Death Flu at the moment, as is my lovely girlfriend, and the one think that is keeping me sane between naps, shots of generic Nite-Time medicine and hacking up chunks of my lung is reading the wonderful comments, questions and concerns on this board.

    Please be assured that I very, VERY much want to respond to a number of VERY good points that have been made so far.

    Also: I would like more feedback. Oh, and some chicken soup!

    /Boomer slowly goes to make himself some chicken soup


    Boomer, this is my far the best of all your entries. I have not really got your entries before, but I get this, and I like it. The curse is great, although a way for the PCs to learn about is needed. Your note about the PCs likely already having a good idea of the layout of the room hints at the fact they know they are coming here, and therefore would likely have researched the Adjudicator, but I think making that explicit would have helped.

    Your improvement in this entry is the fact I can actually read it and know what is going on and how to actually use this in a game. This one actually felt like you were writing it for DMs to use, as opposed to showing us how well you can write. What I like is the Whacked-out-gonza ideas and setups but here you have coupled them with clear, concise, usable, functional writing. And I think that is your big improvement, here your writing is functional. I can use it. I can tell at a glance what i need to know.

    Unfortunately, you didn't quite get me vote this round, although you were very close. And unfortunately, I think it may just be too little too late for me to vote for you in the next round. Based on your entry here, I wish there was one more round I could judge you on to see if this was a one-off entry, or whether you can reproduce this effort. As it is, I still don't think I trust you to write a module I will enjoy DMing (reading, definently yes, but not running), which means unfortunately you are unlikely to get my vote in the next round. But after this entry, you are definently a lot closer than before, and closer than i thought you would be.


    varianor wrote:
    My issue is with the save or die effect. It also doesn't quite square in my mind with a tower built for an inevitable. They are lawful creatures, but why execute before judging? Hence why I think a mass hold monster trap would be more in keeping.

    Huh, good point. If I had a criticism of this encounter, that would probably be it now. The traps seem kind of pasted in there, and out of flavor.

    I love the lighting element. Even if I don't end up using this encounter in my game, I will have a dark chapel supported by electric glass pillars. I'm sure they'll get broken at some point. I'm always looking for ways to make the terrain more interactive, and it is very easy to picture the dark, flickering blue glow, almost like the domed room is deep under water ...


    Charles Evans 25 wrote:

    Boomer:

    I like that you have finally managed to produce an organised and relatively clear entry to this contest. I have no problems with the map; I understand how fiddly and time-consuming using a scanner can be- especially if you have little/no former experience of using one. I was slightly concerned that you hadn't got a pair of compasses out to try and mark the areas of the alarm spells, wail traps, etc, but I take the point that one of the former posters made that this could be a map produced to be a player handout of the room.
    In your defence (eep; I wasn't expecting to find myself saying that) I have no problem wth death effects/level-drain at this level. 15th-16th level parties have access to death-ward and multiple divination effects, and I can find nothing in the encounter outline to to indicate that such things are blocked in the chamber. This seems to me like a 'routine encounter' (unless there is some kind of intense time pressure on the PCs) for 15th-16th level characters, as was required by the guidelines.
    As a mild criticism I would have simply gone with 'fourfold curse' on the Lord Adjudicator instead of saying that it is 'three-fold and one'. Reading through it, it looks like there are four different afflictions in terms of effects there, even if one of them is a 'blanket' one, whilst the others target specific things.
    Hmmm. The Lord Adjudicator doesn't seem to get out and about much, as he doesn't ever leave this room; I wonder if the 'curse' would translate into a small elven mythal (almost certainly not SRD) which covers just this room- with three minor powers and one major power....

    The curse name...well, Boomer is/strikes me as a man raised in Planescape, hence the three and one title. As in, the rule of three. While I love the curse in its entirety, the first two parts of the curse are definately more directed at setting the Adjudicator as an enemy, whilst the other two seem to bolster the curse or another aspect of the curse.


    Mevers---Heh, Dang that was brutal.

    "Good work, excellent stuff, you're really improving!"

    ......But I'm not voting for you.

    Wow! :)

    ((All in fun, of course))

    Osirion

    I have totally not seen whatever it is that others see in your previous works, which seemed to me over-the-top, and a bit 'kitchen sink,' in that they involved a lot of stuff that did not, to me, feel tied together thematically.

    At times, it felt like the judges were advertising your submissions with their commentaries, and I had to stop reading their commentary before voting, because I was afraid I'd knee-jerk and discount your entry out of sheer contrariness.

    But this one? This one I get, and is getting my vote.

    The lawful arbiter, cursed and twisted into functioning as a mad executioner, is just awesome, vaguely reminiscent of the sorts of mad rulings Theoden would make under Wormtongue's counsel, or some old Rom Spaceknight comic-book where his shapeshifting enemies made him think that *everyone* was one of them in disguise, turning him into a menace to his allies.

    The encounter isn't something I'd use as written, as I don't run games that high level, but I could tweak the concept easily enough to use a Formian or ageless (or aged and decrepit) Aasimar Paladin as the base or something.

    Interesting stuff, and, IMO, more importantly than 'a cool fight,' it's got a strong basis in myth, making it already a 'classic.'

    Good luck with that Martian Death Flu!

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

    Set wrote:

    I have totally not seen whatever it is that others see in your previous works, which seemed to me over-the-top, and a bit 'kitchen sink,' in that they involved a lot of stuff that did not, to me, feel tied together thematically.

    At times, it felt like the judges were advertising your submissions with their commentaries, and I had to stop reading their commentary before voting, because I was afraid I'd knee-jerk and discount your entry out of sheer contrariness.

    But this one? This one I get, and is getting my vote.

    The lawful arbiter, cursed and twisted into functioning as a mad executioner, is just awesome, vaguely reminiscent of the sorts of mad rulings Theoden would make under Wormtongue's counsel, or some old Rom Spaceknight comic-book where his shapeshifting enemies made him think that *everyone* was one of them in disguise, turning him into a menace to his allies.

    The encounter isn't something I'd use as written, as I don't run games that high level, but I could tweak the concept easily enough to use a Formian or ageless (or aged and decrepit) Aasimar Paladin as the base or something.

    Interesting stuff, and, IMO, more importantly than 'a cool fight,' it's got a strong basis in myth, making it already a 'classic.'

    Good luck with that Martian Death Flu!

    Wow, Rom the Spaceknight. I remember him, battling the shapeshifting Dire Wraiths. Branded a super-villain cuz it looked to outsiders like he was just randomly blasting people to ashes instead of banishing the DW's to Limbo with THE NEUTRALIZER!


    Great job Clinton this encounter gets one of my two votes. Really liked how you toned down the writing.

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

    You know, I have not voted for a single person that has not advanced yet, and it would seem from comments and the poll thread that this is true again this round. I wonder if I have good design appreciation, or if my votes are actually irrelevent.

    : }

    Okay, Booms. You and the others sat down to your encounters and thought 'How am I gonna get these people to vote for me.' While getting a specific type of gamers' votes may not have been a strategy for any of you, I believe you knew the lawful-based, high level encounter would be hard for people like you and me to turn down. Monkey goblins and sled chases offer an exciting encounter idea for any fantasy game, while you are offering vintage DnD with your kolyarut (I freaking love inevitables) and dread wraiths.

    For all the praise of 'lower powered submissions', I have respect when people accurately pull off a higher one. Being thematically cool and a little complicated goes a long way at lower levels. To challenge a table of people committed enough to their characters to play for a full year or more, you really have to present complicated, eclectic stuff. Also, there are significantly more low-level adventures than high-level, so I think design chops are better tested up high, and it takes a bigger pair to venture out to that territory.There'smore room for criticism, and enough details that an error can slip in unnoticed.

    The question the becomes: did you do it right?

    The placement of the traps is a big whiff. If it's like your monster round, it was an oversight you missed because you edited yourself a lot and were in a hurry. I also feel the prose in the first read-aloud paragraph is a little weak, as if you also added it just before submitting it and didn't give it a good read-through. It's hard to read through, has miplaced commas, and in general supplies details I don't think PCs would have perspective on in most published adventures.

    Something like 'the story so far' would have been better use of the words. Maybe there isn't a word limit on the entry, but there would be in a submitted adventure, and word economy is important regardless - you want to take it easy on the readers.

    In fact, the other scenarios seem like an encounter in an adventure. Yours is very clearly an encounter you wrote for this round, with phrases like 'various NPC and loremasters', instead of 'from the Blind Sage of Erothea', or 'final phase of the adventure' instead of 'the showdown in the Colorless Vale.'

    For more good news, the challenge of incorporeal creatures with spring attack is fantastic. The party has to have enough savvy to reduce themselves to held actions and still be effective. The kolyarut may not be enough of a challenge for al the splendor you've lavished on him, so I would advance him some: 4 HD is only +1 CR, and you might not really be presenting an EL 16. I'll have to do some math....a 12 (adjudicator), a 13 (3xCR 10 traps), and a 14 (3xdread wraiths). I guess that's pretty close. Since I think constructs and undead get kind of a raw deal, I'd give him the HD and keep the EL at 16. The Peerless are the real trouble in this encounter, anyway.

    Sorry: onto other things. The curse is magnificent. It still bears hints of your super-capitalized, over-the-top crutch, and I am sure a director's cut would tone that down as well. But the idea, the specifics, and the results of the curse are all well-imagined.

    I noted some complaints about the courtroom's layout. Were I running the encounter, I would describe it as a tight fit, unless every person and everything were always exactly in place. I imagine a stronghold of absolute law and order might make better use of smaller spaces.

    I guess I love this encounter, despite some flaws. And I appreciate greatly that you have toned down the adjectives and given us solid meat. Your other ideas made us salivate at their potential, this one delivers more than any of your entries so far.

    In the end, I have to reread (again) Christine's entry. Thus far in the competition, Ihave had to vote for my clear winners, and then decide among the honorable mentions for that last vote or two. In this case, you are likely all three moving on (thus my irrelevance), but I can only vote for two out of three clear winners. Congratulations, again. Step up the improvement one more notch and I believe you'll have the most complete entry in the whole of the contest.

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

    Oh. And no kidding: I immediately thought the map was intended to look like a kolyarut's face. With defined metal brows and round eyes. And a button nose.

    Cheliax RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Contributor

    Some Thoughts Now That Voting Has Closed
    . . . and now that I'm able to stay awake for more than three hours at a time and eat solid food . . .

    (1) The Biggest Mistake: the Reflex save for the Lightning Strike from a busted light-source should probably be DC:17 - adjusted, of course, for the party's abilities. I mean, because "17" is kind of low, especially at that level. I apologize for any inconvenience.

    At one point, the different light-sources did different amounts of damage upon breaking, and in different shapes, but it ate up a LOT of text. Text better suited for traps and monsters!

    (2) The Traps: I'll admit, shamefully, that I placed the three traps AFTER having drawn, scanned and sent the map off to the fine people at Paizo - my mistake on the omissions! I was hoping that my description of their placement was enough - "thirty feet south of the far north wall, staggered in an east-to-west line, centered here, here and here" - but I'll humbly accept my lowered letter-grade and move on. All to make me a better game designer!

    As to the lethality of the traps: my assumption was that, during the time of the Impartial Lord Adjudicator's reign, there were all sorts of secondary fail-safes in place to prevent witnesses and barristers from getting killed if the wail went off, like multiple death ward effects, but that those had required some upkeep. All in all, I felt that having almost pathologically deadly traps placed willy-nilly around the room added to the "broken machine" element of the encounter - like a fight in a shattered clock-tower, or an abandoned subway, where you go "Wait, why is this third rail so deadly? Why aren't their warning signs?"

    (3) The Map: the chamber was, actually, sort of supposed to look like a face. Kinda. I'm not much of a cartographer or visual artist of any sort - I took one class on Set Design back in 2000, and I think I failed it - but I thought it would be really cool if the chamber looked kind of like my Avatar. Obviously, my Avatar's face isn't perfectly circular - that might have been my first mistake.

    *grin*

    (4) The Design: I'm interested in questions about breaking the various light-sources: some voters felt that element was unnecessary, and some people obviously felt that I needed more - like what happens if all three pillars are broken, for instance? A total ceiling collapse? To me, that's awesome. I, for one, have always liked encounter-area maps that felt like an Olde-Skool He-Man/G.I. Joe Play-Set from back when I was a kid - a lot of stuff that you could break, stuff you could toss around, things to interact with and knock over, and I wanted to incorporate as much of that as I could without getting needlessly messy.

    D&D, as a storytelling game, has a lot of cool area-of-effect powers and spells that can blow stuff up in neat ways: a single shout or greater shout - to say nothing of effects from the Spell Compendium like orb of force - in this room should make things really interesting in ways that can't be duplicated with WoW or other video-games.

    (5) The Monsters: Originally, I was going to create three unique ghost Monks for the Peerless Justices, but I came to the conclusion that what I really wanted to do was make NPCs that did exactly what Dread Wraiths do. So, to hell with the extra paper-work and with forcing the reader to scan yet another stat-block: SRD, it is!

    Also: I really, really, like kolyaruts. But I've never, ever had to fight one - so I came up with a way to FORCE the PCs to fight one. Not talk their way out of a fight, but BEAT it. The idea that a Lawful PC would be really torn up inside, trying to avoid destroying the Impartial Lord Adjudicator so that the PCs could "rescue" him made me smile - sometimes, it should suck to be a Paladin!

    (6) Scaling the Encounter: I kind of wanted to add class-levels and Hit Dice to the Impartial Lord Adjudicator. And a template. And make the encounter something like EL:30. But I resisted.

    (7) The Thank You: I would like to thank each and every one of the Superstar Judges and all of the Paizo People for giving me a chance to learn SO much from this wonderful competition. I look forward to the Final Round!

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