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Rain Rain Go Away (rejected)


Scenario Submission Talk

Grand Lodge **

Rain rain, go away…

A. Brief Introduction
In the waning days of summer Commander Odeber has sent word to the Lodge house. “The time has come once again to clear out the ruins of Northsap, lest any unwelcome creatures get too comfortable before arrival of fall.“
B. Brief Summary of how PCs proceeded
Rescuing the slaves from Northsap and escorting them back to Falcon’s Hallow sets the stage to further investigate the strange storm upstream at the Gold Falls. The encounters below are laid out in sequential order.
If the PCs require a large cudgel to motivate them, then it can become commonly known that Zindul the druid is using an Orb of Storms to aid his plans. The prospect of a powerful magic item can be a carrot for the players, or the Society, to continue onward.
C. Brief Summary of each encounter
a. Ruins of Northsap
When the PCs arrive in the Ruins of Northsap, they will quickly discover that something indeed has taken up residence – Hobgoblins! The Hobgoblins naturally are holding a few slaves, taken on the outskirts of Falcon’s Hollow. The slaves once free tell the PCs that the weather in the Vale has been very hash and unseasonable for several weeks. Torrential rain storms have been raging upstream and the Foam River has been creeping ever upward on Falcon’s Hallow.
b. Druid Crossing
While traveling to Falcon’s Hallow the PCs will see Zindul heading south to the dam site. Everyone is crossing a fairly large, open plain. The druid cannot be tracked and if the PCs attempt to follow him at this point, he will quickly lose them.
c. Falcon’s Hollow
The town shows signs of serious storm damage. While talking with the townsfolk, the PCs learn that three weeks ago a savage storm rained down on the town with acid rain and lightning bolts. The main logging house on the Foam was totally destroyed by direct lightning strikes, and many of the docks were damaged by acid rain and strong winds. Townsfolk also tell of massive rain storms near the Gold Falls and that seem to rage for days on end. The Foam River is rising daily.
d. Gold Falls
Talking with Mierson Berekland and others at the Gold Falls Inn confirms there have been very strong rain storms at the base of the Falls for several weeks, bad for business. The PCs are likely to have traveled through one to get here. A stranger, who did not stay at the Inn was seen at the top of the Falls holding a shiny orb in one hand before the last storm broke. There are several different skills that might allow the PCs to realize that the rain alone isn’t making the water rise.
e. Dam Site
Less than half a day down river from Falcon’s Hallow, Zindul has been busy here as well. Rather than making rain, he is building a dam! Along the river bank long, thin earthen bricks are being stacked into the river. There are chunks missing in the nearby hills where the earth has been removed. Zindul has been traveling here, using his Stone Shape spells to transform 15’ cubes of earth into long, thin bricks which are being stacked and placed by several (4-6) brown bears. Between the dam and the torrential rains Zindul means to flood Falcon’s Hallow off the map! At this stage of construction the dam will be fairly easy (2-3 hours) for the PCs to destroy, after the bears have been dealt with.
f. Wolfrun Hills –Bandits (optional)
When confronted by the PCs Zindul will attempt to flee back to his lair in the Wolfun Hills. The local bandits (about 6-8) know better than to bother Zindul, but he will rely on their nature to ambush his pursuers.
g. Wolfrun Hills – Zindul’s Lair
The crumbling cliffs form a grotto which Zindul lives in. He is also living in equilibrium with a pack (4-6) of Dire Wolves who will not be thrilled by the presence of outsiders and attack.
D. Brief Conclusion
The PCs cannot completely fail in this investigation, Falcon’s Hallow cannot be flooded off the map as Zindul intends. However there is plenty of leeway to allow the PCs to fail early, or not ‘get it’ and see the extent of their failure/inaction. More buildings can get flooded close to the Foam as the waters continue to rise. Zindul can use the Orb to summon a Storm of Vengeance once a month and plans to attack the town again directly with it which can also be worked into the story at the DM’s discretion, as it has been about one month since the last attack.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Here are my thoughts.

Intro:
I would spend some more time on the introduction, devote a few more sentences describing what's to come to really grab the reader's attention.

Druid Crossing:
Is this an encounter? Just seeing the druid? Also, what if the PCs use magic to track him and follow him (Locate Creature, for example). I like how not all of the encounters are just combat, but it seems like you need something more here.

Gold Falls:
"There are several different skills that might allow the PCs to realize that the rain alone isn’t making the water rise."
Be more specific. Which skills?

Wolfrun Hills:
I'm not clear on where the PCs confront Zindul before the fight in his lair.

Zindul's Lair:
I would play up the crumbling cliffs, describing how the PCs may find themselves teetering near the edge, surrounding by a pack of wolves. This could make for a very cinematic and exciting scene.

Overall, I like how the storm theme continues throughout the encounters. However, I'm not sure what the villain's motive is. Why flood the town? Fitting all your ideas into a 750 word proposal is hard, but you should try to answer basic questions like this to tie the story together.

Keep writing and good luck on future submissions!

*

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game Subscriber

Thanks for sharing your submission, Zizazat.

I'd recommend against a phrase from a nursery rhyme as your submission's title. It's not very evocative or heroic.

Your introduction and summary need work. The introduction needs to introduce Zindul, the Orb of Storms, and the druid's plan to flood Falcon's Hollow. It also needs to establish why the Pathfinder Society is involved (the Orb of Storms). Pathfinders have no interest in clearing out ruins of unwelcome creatures unless there are fantastic discoveries to be made. That's work for paid mercenaries or benevolent adventuring parties.

The summary needs to give an overview of the following encounters and describe how they are linked. After reading the submission I could tell that you wanted the party to visit a number of locations around Falcon's Hollow, but I could not tell why they would visit them (and why the order would be sequential).

The storms in the region should be established from the start (it shouldn't require rescuing slaves). I like the idea of using weather as an obstacle throughout the scenario. Work more of this into the introduction and summary as the hook for the submission.

It's probably not a good idea to let the characters see Zindul in encounter b. You can't assume that creative parties won't find a way to close the distance and confront him.

Sincerely,
Derek

Grand Lodge **

Derek Poppink wrote:


Your introduction and summary need work. The introduction needs to introduce Zindul, the Orb of Storms, and the druid's plan to flood Falcon's Hollow. It also needs to establish why the Pathfinder Society is involved (the Orb of Storms). Pathfinders have no interest in clearing out ruins of unwelcome creatures unless there are fantastic discoveries to be made. That's work for paid mercenaries or benevolent adventuring parties.

I really appreciate the feedback you both provided. I was really unsure how best to spend my 750 words, and the merc work is definitely out of place for the Society.

I felt that it was perfect acceptable, however, to show the PCs the druid early because a) they cannot track him (and I doubt any DM would allow a subsequent locate create spell) and b) a party full of 'good' aligned PCs are going to brutally attack and kill a lone druid walking across an open field without any provocation to do so. Keeping in mind c) that Zindul/DM has the option on dropping a Storm of Vengeance to cover his escape.

It seems though that my vision of this scenario was not expressed adequately enough. While obviously thought trough in great detail, it was not clearly expressed and missed the 'wow!'

Thanks again guys, and hopefully we'll all keep learning!

Cheliax

Zizazat wrote:
Derek Poppink wrote:


Your introduction and summary need work. The introduction needs to introduce Zindul, the Orb of Storms, and the druid's plan to flood Falcon's Hollow. It also needs to establish why the Pathfinder Society is involved (the Orb of Storms). Pathfinders have no interest in clearing out ruins of unwelcome creatures unless there are fantastic discoveries to be made. That's work for paid mercenaries or benevolent adventuring parties.

I really appreciate the feedback you both provided. I was really unsure how best to spend my 750 words, and the merc work is definitely out of place for the Society.

I felt that it was perfect acceptable, however, to show the PCs the druid early because a) they cannot track him (and I doubt any DM would allow a subsequent locate create spell) and b) a party full of 'good' aligned PCs are going to brutally attack and kill a lone druid walking across an open field without any provocation to do so. Keeping in mind c) that Zindul/DM has the option on dropping a Storm of Vengeance to cover his escape.

It seems though that my vision of this scenario was not expressed adequately enough. While obviously thought trough in great detail, it was not clearly expressed and missed the 'wow!'

Thanks again guys, and hopefully we'll all keep learning!

I echo what the others said, and I have to say that I don't see the point in having the PCs encounter the druid too early. Also, you're assuming that all PCs are Good-aligned, which is often not the case; some Pathfinders (especially if from Cheliax) might be Neutral or even Evil (like Erik Mona's cleric of Asmodeus).

Now, if the PCs are denied from using their abilities or spells (such as Locate Creature or Charm Person or Detect Evil), the GM *must* do it in a logical fashion -- if the players realize that you just "robbed" them of an encounter with the BBEG *no matter what they do or try*, they're going to get VERY frustrated at you (I personally hate this as a player, too). If the druid has to use Storm of Vengeance to escape, you're also risking a TPK, and potentially getting physically assaulted by the players.

I know my own (veteran) players would do the following things:
1) Try to catch up with the druid and talk to him (using Sense Motive and Diplomacy to discern his motives).
2) Try to cast Detect Magic and Detect Evil (and potentially Detect Thoughts) without the druid noticing (spellcasters hanging to the back at max. range) to make sure he's who he says he is and not on "shady" business.
3) Prepare for battle "just in case".

Honestly, I think my players would realize what's going on and consequently this short scene meant to be a "teaser" might turn into the final encounter.

Finally, I have to say that I'm not a big fan of adventures that are built around powerful magic items -- is there any particular reason why the druid couldn't have found a stash of Call Lightning and Control Weather -scrolls instead of the Orb? And should the PCs gain this item regardless of their Tier? Because it's way too powerful and valuable for low-level characters, IMO.

Paizo Employee ** Developer

Asgetrion wrote:
some Pathfinders (especially if from Cheliax) might be Neutral or even Evil.

Maybe in non-organized play games, but in PFS no one is allowed to be of an evil alignment.

And the major artifact can be retrieved at any tier, because it won't be on anyone's chronicle. It goes to the Society for research or hoarding in the vault.

Grand Lodge **

yoda8myhead wrote:
And the major artifact can be retrieved at any tier, because it won't be on anyone's chronicle. It goes to the Society for research or hoarding in the vault.

And, on the whole, quite useless to game play if someone where to keep it for some reason. Which is why it was chosen. The idea of sending the Society to actually retrieve it seems like a much stronger hook out of the gate. I guess it was on my email and not in the write up itself, but personal feeling is that the Orb should fall in the river during the dam encounter. Zindul would rather trust it going back to Nature's hands than falling into the PCs.

I'm still not sure why showing the player's their adversary before they are supposed to realize that he's the guy they are looking for is such a problem. And again, anything but the most liberal interpretation of locate creature to me would fail to find Zindul after they players only (likely) observe him from a distance. Just because players want to do something doesn't always mean they should succeed.

Paizo Employee ** Developer

Zizazat wrote:
I guess it was on my email and not in the write up itself, but personal feeling is that the Orb should fall in the river during the dam encounter. Zindul would rather trust it going back to Nature's hands than falling into the PCs.

Given that fact, I would also suggest that the submission be self contained in the future. If you can't get all the information you want to tell Josh in the 750 word count of the document, you need to revise the document, not add additional information in the body of the email.

Zizazat wrote:
I'm still not sure why showing the player's their adversary before they are supposed to realize that he's the guy they are looking for is such a problem. And again, anything but the most liberal interpretation of locate creature to me would fail to find Zindul after they players only (likely) observe him from a distance. Just because players want to do something doesn't always mean they should succeed.

I think the point is that you should never assume player action. Once you state in the adventure what PCs do and don't do, the railroad alarm goes off in people's heads and they stop having fun. Sure, chances might be slim that players jump the rails when they see him the first time, but if they do, the scenario's done. End of story. You must assume that PCs can and will do anything and design around that.

**

I don't read the emails. I just save the attachment, move the email to the folder from which I reply later, and then review the attachments.

Grand Lodge **

yoda8myhead wrote:


I think the point is that you should never assume player action. Once you state in the adventure what PCs do and don't do, the railroad alarm goes off in people's heads and they stop having fun. Sure, chances might be slim that players jump the rails when they see him the first time, but if they do, the scenario's done. End of story. You must assume that PCs can and will do anything and design around that.

Yes, you are correct. Shame on me for not assuming that a party of good aligned PCs would slaughter an NPC in an encounter without any provocation, proof, or even at that point suspicion of anything. How quaintly naive of me. :)

*

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game Subscriber
Zizazat wrote:
Yes, you are correct. Shame on me for not assuming that a party of good aligned PCs would slaughter an NPC in an encounter without any provocation, proof, or even at that point suspicion of anything. How quaintly naive of me. :)

There might be some miscommunication here. You mention in the introduction that "it can become commonly known that Zindul the druid is using an Orb of Storms". If that's commonly known, then of course the players are going to want to intercept a druid they spot wandering the area. Note that most groups will try to obtain proof from conversation before attacking.

However, if your intent was that the party encounter an unknown druid early in the scenario that turns out to be the villain later, that makes for a very different encounter. If so, I'd recommend leaving out the "commonly known" phrase and allowing players to speak with the druid. Give him a cover story or have him send the characters on a wild goose chase (potentially a true one like the hobgoblins so Sense Motive won't reveal he's lying). He doesn't have to be evil to oppose the Lumber Consortium, so detect evil won't necessarily call him out.

Grand Lodge **

Derek Poppink wrote:


There might be some miscommunication here. You mention in the introduction that "it can become commonly known that Zindul the druid is using an Orb of Storms". If that's commonly known, then of course the players are going to want to intercept a druid they spot wandering the area. Note that most groups will try to obtain proof from conversation before attacking.

*ashamed*

I thought that wasn't until they arrived in Falcon's Hollow, my bad :)

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Zizazat wrote:
Yes, you are correct. Shame on me for not assuming that a party of good aligned PCs would slaughter an NPC in an encounter without any provocation, proof, or even at that point suspicion of anything. How quaintly naive of me. :)

I read through your submission and the feedback others have given. Your response to yoda8myhead (aka Mark) prompted me to chime in. Your response above comes across as sarcastic to me, and runs the risk (fairly or unfairly) of painting you as someone who doesn't accept feedback very well. But in your earlier replies, you do appear to desire and appreciate feedback. So, in the interests of that, I'm going to offer some as well...because I think you had the seed of a good idea in this scenario proposal. I just think your execution and communication of that idea didn't come across very well.

I'll take your submission piece by piece and offer commentary for you. Please keep in mind, I'm only giving feedback because you asked for some. Any criticism I might have about your proposal is only about your proposal...not you as a person. So please don't take anything I might say personally or as a negative reflection on you as a hopeful freelance author.

Feedback:

Spoiler:

Zizazat wrote:
Rain rain, go away…

This is a bad way to lead off a proposal. If I'm reading this as someone evaluating whether to green-light you as an author for a submission, I'm immediately struck by this lead-off phrase as something that misses the mark in creative, compelling writing. Yes, the theme of your proposal does have to do with wanting the rain to "go away"...and the PCs taking steps to make it go away. But using a nursery rhyme as opposed to finding your own independent, creative way of describing the lead-in to your adventure proposal doesn't bode well for the rest of the submission.

I've heard Josh and others who go through slush piles make the comment that they're looking for a reason to stop reading. And a lead-off sentence that starts out with a common nursery rhyme rather than something unique and creative that you personally took the time to craft, pushes you more into the bucket of "stuff I'd have an excuse to stop reading."

Zizazat wrote:
A. Brief Introduction...

I didn't review the submission guidelines, but did they call for an organization where you literally break out things into categories like "A. Brief Introduction"...? That seems odd and arbitrary to me. Instead of spending any of your word-count on labeling these sections, I'd just recommend you take the submission guidelines on these sections more figuratively than literally. Craft a brief introduction by writing a paragraph that does exactly that...and don't worry with labeling it as such. It'll save you words in the long-run anyway.

Zizazat wrote:
...In the waning days of summer Commander Odeber has sent word to the Lodge house. “The time has come once again to clear out the ruins of Northsap, lest any unwelcome creatures get too comfortable before arrival of fall.“

This is just a couple of sentences and not really an introductory paragraph that shares much about the meat of what your scenario will entail. When writing a lead-off introductory paragraph for a submission you need to hit all the W's in Journalism 101. Who? What? When? Where? Why? And then the rest of your submission proposal is going to describe the How, encounter by encounter. I'm going to guess that Commander Odeber is meant to be a Pathfinder Venture-Captain in charge of periodically clearing out some kind of Pathfinder Lodge or ruins in the area? I'm not sure why that's a problem the Pathfinders would embrace from year-to-year. If that's the case, though, I don't think you spelled it out strongly enough. Calling him a Commander seems more militaristic. And I don't recall a Pathfinder chapterhouse in Darkmoon Vale or the Falcon's Hollow area before. If you're dropping in something new, I'd be specific about it in the proposal. And even then, I'd rethink it, because Josh and Paizo might never intend for a Pathfinder Lodge to exist there or that kind of annual "clearing out" activity to be something the Pathfinders routinely perform. So, you could be shooting yourself in the foot by including such a thing.

Now, if I break down your opening paragraph, above, you certainly give us a Who...but it's not your villain, it's some Commander Odeber who doesn't appear to contribute very much to the rest of your proposal or any of the encounters. You never mention him again. So this isn't the Who you need to be talking about in your opening paragraph. Instead, you need to come right out and explain who Zindul is...and what he's doing...and why...and where he's doing it...and when it takes place in relation to any other events...and how and why the PCs get involved.

Now, you do a good job of letting us know the When, Where, and What to some degree, because in Commander Odeber's dialogue, you mention taking action "before the arrival of fall"...to "clear out the ruins"..."of Northsap." So that's good. But I think you could have imparted that information without a statement issued by this Commander. Your audience is really Josh in a scenario proposal anyway. So you don't need read-aloud text for the PCs until you're asked to write an actual scenario. Personally, I think you missed the more important When, Where, and What of your adventure. Specifically, your What appears to be the torrential weather, rising floodwaters, and Zindul's plan to flood Falcon's Hollow. The When is in the fall timeframe, when the weather turns cooler and the last cleansing rains come before winter. And the Where isn't so much the ruins of Northsap as the region of Falcon's Hollow itself and where the PCs are expected to venture during the scenario.

Lastly, I see you made an attempt at defining the Why of your proposal...i.e., why the PCs get involved...with Odeber's statment about "lest any unwelcome creatures get too comfortable." But, that's not really the Why that your scenario is about. The PCs are supposed to wind up opposing Zindul so they can stop his plans to flood Falcon's Hollow...and maybe influence the weather by making the rain go away. Are they doing it out of the good of their hearts? Is there another reason they happen to be in the Falcon's Hollow area? You touch more on this in your later paragraphs, but from an organizational standpoint, you've got to bring this stuff into your very first paragraph to make it clear, concise, and understandable to someone like Josh when he's reading your proposal. Otherwise, the lack of that kind of information gives him a reason to stop reading.

Zizazat wrote:
B. Brief Summary of how PCs proceeded

Small syntax/grammar note. I believe you meant to label this section as "Brief Summary of How the PCs Proceed"...though, again, I don't think you need to separate these paragraphs with such labels. You can just move from one paragraph (your introduction) straight into the next one (which will begin your brief summary of how the PCs proceed through the adventure). It's important to note that this paragraph shouldn't get into the details of each encounter. However, you CAN mention some of the encounters in explaining where the PCs go and what situations, obstacles, or NPCs steer them toward the adventure's ultimate end. A good example on how to do this is to take a look at any of the paragraphs in a published Paizo adventure module. Look for the section labeled "Adventure Summary" and particularly the short ones. They describe in just a few sentences all you'll ever need for "a brief summary"...even in a PFS scenario proposal.

Zizazat wrote:
Rescuing the slaves from Northsap and escorting them back to Falcon’s Hallow sets the stage to further investigate the strange storm upstream at the Gold Falls.

This statement creates a huge number of questions for me as a reader, none of which you touched on in the introduction. And even in this brief summary, you don't explain much about them, relying instead on your encounter descriptions to fill in the detail. I think that's a mistake. You need to come right out and explain these things here.

First, what's with the slaves from Northsap? I didn't get any foreshadowing of that. Where'd the slaves come from? Why are a bunch of Pathfinders tasked with escorting them back to Falcon's Hollow? Was this part of the submission guidelines that a slave escort would be the catalyst for the adventure?

Secondly, I'll note that you've called it Falcon's Hallow. And you go on to do it several more times throughout your submission. Clearly, you mean Falcon's Hollow, because you do later call it by its correct name later on. Regardless, this type of mistake starts giving an editor/developer another reason to stop reading. Because, if you haven't proofed your proposal (which is just 750 words) well enough to catch and correct problems such as these, it sets off alarms on the potential for even greater mistakes in your final turnover (which is nearly ten times as long at 7,000+ words).

Lastly, you mention that escorting the slaves "sets the stage to further investigate the strange storm upstream." How? Just because? This is what generally gets referred to as "telling" rather than "showing" in a written proposal. I certainly believe you when you say it sets the stage for the adventure. It's definitely your catalyst point, but there's nothing tangible there that credibly explains why or how the PCs get involved. The way you've written comes across like you're "hand-waving" that part. And that's a sign of lazy writing. You've got to be more "to the point," "specific," and "believable" in what you're indicating will happen. The way to do that is provide complete and specific information on what leads the PCs to point A so they can start following point B to point C, and so on.

Zizazat wrote:
The encounters below are laid out in sequential order.

Two things here. First, this statement is extraneous. If your encounters are sequential, it will be obvious in how you write each one and explain how it leads to the next one. You don't have to waste words here telling the reader about it.

Secondly, sequential adventures aren't always the most loved things. It smacks of railroading the players, giving them the impression that they have little to no control over where the story goes. Now, I happen to believe that every adventure is a set of pre-determined events. But a crafty writer tailors an adventure in such a way that it doesn't seem to be to the GM as he reads it or the players as they experience it. The way to do that is to create encounters that just naturally grow out of one another. You don't have to force the action. Just have a reason for why the PCs get involved in wanting to investigate the unnatural and treacherous weather. Then, as they start following up on clues or investigating the most likely causes, create an encounter that gets in the way...then another one that provides a clue that might redirect or point them in a different direction. There might be some other situation at that location...and, by dealing with the problem, it turns out there's an unforseen connection between that situation and what's really going on.

Think of it in literary terms. How does a story convey a plot twist? It's never something that's entirely expected. And part of the fun, in fact, is when it's totally unexpected and causes a whole new series of chain reactions among the characters that experience it. So look for ways to inject that kind of literary mechanism into your encounters. Make them catapult the PCs into a new experience they didn't see coming...but that when they get into it, they totally perceive how it's connected to what's really going on.

Zizazat wrote:
If the PCs require a large cudgel to motivate them, then it can become commonly known that Zindul the druid is using an Orb of Storms to aid his plans. The prospect of a powerful magic item can be a carrot for the players, or the Society, to continue onward.

This is "telling" rather than "showing" again with your writing. Your introductory paragraph and brief summary should have already covered the main hook...and the most commonly expected hook...that will get the PCs into your adventure. If you've got to hit them over the head with a "cudgel" by injecting the "commonly known" information about something as exotic and potent as the "Orb of Storms," it's way too late. And really, information like that should have been up front in your proposal anyway. You should have already imparted the fact that a druid named Zindul is using the Orb of Storms to enact a plan to flood Falcon's Hollow for whatever grudge he holds against it and the Lumber Consortium.

If you want motivation, maybe the Orb of Storms leaves behind some trace element of itself when used to manipulate the weather...and that's perplexed the loggers from the Lumber Consortium. When word of that eventually reaches Falcon's Hollow and the Pathfinder Society, it could then become the reason the PCs investigate. Phrased along those lines, you then don't even have to explain the "carrot for the players, or the Society, to continue onward."

Zizazat wrote:
a. Ruins of Northsap - When the PCs arrive in the Ruins of Northsap, they will quickly discover that something indeed has taken up residence – Hobgoblins! The Hobgoblins naturally are holding a few slaves, taken on the outskirts of Falcon’s Hollow. The slaves once free tell the PCs that the weather in the Vale has been very hash and unseasonable for several weeks. Torrential rain storms have been raging upstream and the Foam River has been creeping ever upward on Falcon’s Hallow.

I notice another syntax/grammar element at play here. Try to avoid statements that use the word "will." For instance, instead of saying, "When the PCs arrive in the Ruins of Northsap, they will quickly discover..." drop the word "will" and try reading it aloud again. "When the PCs arrive in the Ruins of Northsap, they quickly discover..." is a far more active way of writing that pulls in your reader. A good trick in making your writing have more "punch" is to do a Find search on your manuscript for the word "will" and then look for ways to eliminate it. You'll be surprised how easily that improves the flow of your writing.

As for the nature of this encounter, it doesn't seem all that important to me. Why do the heroes first encounter hobgoblin slavers at Northsap? How is it relevant to your storytelling? They don't have anything to do with the unusual weather the PCs are investigating. So what leads them to Northsap in the first place? Based on how you've worded your proposal, it seems the PCs would first hear about a bunch of missing people from Falcon's Hollow before they'd learn anything about the unusual weather. After all, I would think that missing loved ones would trump the rising flood waters as the higher priority for those living in Falcon's Hollow. That makes this encounter with hobgoblins and rescuing the slaves feel like a completely unrelated...and tacked on...encounter. When writing a PFS scenario, you need tighter design than that. Encounters have to be interwoven enough that they can organically "grow" off one another and make enough sense to logically lead the players' characters through a 4-hour play session to the adventure's end-goal.

Zizazat wrote:
b. Druid Crossing - While traveling to Falcon’s Hallow the PCs will see Zindul heading south to the dam site. Everyone is crossing a fairly large, open plain. The druid cannot be tracked and if the PCs attempt to follow him at this point, he will quickly lose them.

This comes across as another very arbitrary encounter. I think it's GREAT that you give the PCs a chance to observe the primary villain of the adventure without necessarily realizing he's the source of the problems. But, to just have him seen from afar is purposeless. I think you'd be better served to let the PCs actually encounter and converse with him. Let the druid give them some information (that's actually true) about the area that will hopefully send them off on a wild goose chase that will keep them out of his hair. Then, your next encounter (as a result of the wild goose chase) should inadvertantly allow the PCs to encounter someone or something that gives them further insight into the untrustworthy nature of Zindul. That will build a fire in the PCs to start opposing the guy, if only to make up for being duped by him.

Lastly, the assumption that the druid "cannot be tracked" might be accurate with regards to his trackless step and woodland stride abilities, but PCs are ever resourceful. And, assuming they can't (or won't) become curious and investigate what this lone traveler is doing is a design mistake, in my opinion. Even a first level wizard or sorcerer could easily have a flying familiar (hawk, owl, raven, bat, etc.) capable of following him without the need for finding any tracks. At higher tiers, an invisible, flying PC can do much the same. So, I agree with yoda/Mark about never assume actions or outcomes in the course of your writing. It's not about the possibilities that PCs would slaughter an NPC in an encounter without provocation. That's not the point. It's that there's no guarantee that the PCs will move from this encounter with your druid-seen-in-the-distance to the next encounter. They could easily go off the rails because of how you've set this one up. And, seeing Zindul in the distance really doesn't add anything new or interesting to the story. It's a wasted "encounter" to include.

Zizazat wrote:
c. Falcon’s Hollow - The town shows signs of serious storm damage. While talking with the townsfolk, the PCs learn that three weeks ago a savage storm rained down on the town with acid rain and lightning bolts. The main logging house on the Foam was totally destroyed by direct lightning strikes, and many of the docks were damaged by acid rain and strong winds. Townsfolk also tell of massive rain storms near the Gold Falls and that seem to rage for days on end. The Foam River is rising daily.

Okay. This encounter sounds much more like the beginning of what your adventure should be about. Something unnatural is clearly causing this problem. And if the citizens of Falcon's Hollow can recognize that, the Pathfinders should learn of it, and eventually the PCs. That's a much better reason for how and why the PCs become involved in unraveling the mystery...particularly if there's some ancient legend that tells of an Orb of Storms once lost in the region...or reputed to have that kind of power. This could be why they...and the Society...become interested enough to investigate this phenomenon. Otherwise, there isn't enough going on to warrant Pathfinder involvement.

Zizazat wrote:
d. Gold Falls - Talking with Mierson Berekland and others at the Gold Falls Inn confirms there have been very strong rain storms at the base of the Falls for several weeks, bad for business. The PCs are likely to have traveled through one to get here. A stranger, who did not stay at the Inn was seen at the top of the Falls holding a shiny orb in one hand before the last storm broke. There are several different skills that might allow the PCs to realize that the rain alone isn’t making the water rise.

I don't get the reason for Mierson Berekland or his significance. What more can the folks at Gold Falls Inn impart to the PCs that the citizens of Falcon's Hollow didn't already tell them? This seems like another wasted encounter. You could easily merge the NPCs of Gold Falls into the population of Falcon's Hollow...convey this same information...and save yourself room for another dynamic encounter that helps move the story better.

I'll also cite that you're doing a lot of "telling" rather than "showing" again with your writing by saying there are "several different skills" that might allow PCs to realize something's unnatural about the rising water. If you're going to create a "skill challenge" in your adventure proposal, highlight it. Explain it in detail. Showcase it if you think it's strong enough to stand on its own as a fun challenge for the PCs.

Zizazat wrote:
e. Dam Site - Less than half a day down river from Falcon’s Hallow, Zindul has been busy here as well. Rather than making rain, he is building a dam! Along the river bank long, thin earthen bricks are being stacked into the river. There are chunks missing in the nearby hills where the earth has been removed. Zindul has been traveling here, using his Stone Shape spells to transform 15’ cubes of earth into long, thin bricks which are being stacked and placed by several (4-6) brown bears. Between the dam and the torrential rains Zindul means to flood Falcon’s Hallow off the map! At this stage of construction the dam will be fairly easy (2-3 hours) for the PCs to destroy, after the bears have been dealt with.

This seems to stretch my willing suspension of disbelief as a reader. If Zindul is building a dam downstream from Falcon's Hollow, I'd expect there'd be plenty of river traffic (which the Lumber Consortium depends upon to move logs and barges to market) that would have encountered it already. Also, using the bears to stack and place Zindul's stone shaped bricks seems a bit silly. He could just as easily stone shape a bunch of boulders to shave them off the sides of the river bank and cause them to roll down into the river. No need for the bears. It just becomes a pile of rocks choking the flow of water and backing it up to flood the valley. I'm not even sure I'd believe bears would swim with or otherwise nudge the boulders into place so they fit seamlessly enough to create the perfect dam anyway. So, this kind of encounter setup starts losing me as a reader.

Secondly, a syntax item for you here. If you're going to cite a spell like stone shape in your proposal, make an effort to include it in the same format as it appears in an official Paizo product. Spell names are always lowercase and italicized. Showing attention to details like that quickly lets Josh and other developers/editors know you can be trusted to follow their formatting rules and save them time when refining your turnover.

Lastly, I want to cite one other major design concern for you. By including an adventure premise that could result in flooding Falcon's Hollow "off the map" (which is a major enough location in Paizo's world as to warrant a Guide to Darkmoon Vale), you are potentially "breaking their world." In other words, encounter setups and an adventure's premise that threatens and potentially destroys a significant location in Golarion will never get approved by Paizo. So, my recommendation would be to tone down the threat level a bit. Make it so that Zindul is going to flood and ruin their crops so everyone in Falcon's Hollow won't be able to gather their autumn harvest before winter sets in. That alone can still suffice in driving out the settlers and exacting vengeance on the Lumber Consortium.

Zizazat wrote:
f. Wolfrun Hills –Bandits (optional) - When confronted by the PCs Zindul will attempt to flee back to his lair in the Wolfun Hills. The local bandits (about 6-8) know better than to bother Zindul, but he will rely on their nature to ambush his pursuers.

I wouldn't advise doing "optional" encounters. Including some bandits in the surrounding area that have information about Zindul...even if they're just fearful of him...could certainly aid the PCs in gathering enough clues to know their true enemy, and maybe even some of his weaknesses if the bandits have prepared their own contingency plans in case the druid tries to turn on them. I don't think the bandits are a bad idea. I just think you should weave them more tightly into the string of encounters so they contribute something to the story more.

Zizazat wrote:
g. Wolfrun Hills – Zindul’s Lair - The crumbling cliffs form a grotto which Zindul lives in. He is also living in equilibrium with a pack (4-6) of Dire Wolves who will not be thrilled by the presence of outsiders and attack.

That's it? The crowning final encounter for your adventure is a simple lair where the PCs will be expected to fight a druid and some dire wolves who happen to get along with him? There's nothing exciting enough or unusual enough about this encounter to make your adventure stand out. It doesn't capture the interest enough to give you the nod to write it as a PFS scenario. You need to jazz it up more. Describe the grotto in such a way that it presents an unusual terrain challenge to the PCs. Describe some tactics as to how Zindul's minions (i.e., the Dire Wolves) handle outsiders. And then, lastly, tell us more specifics about Zindul himself. What makes him unique enough to stand out as a true villain? What about the Orb of Storms? Assuming Zindul would use it, doesn't it get showcased in this encounter, too?

Zizazat wrote:
D. Brief Conclusion - The PCs cannot completely fail in this investigation, Falcon’s Hallow cannot be flooded off the map as Zindul intends. However there is plenty of leeway to allow the PCs to fail early, or not ‘get it’ and see the extent of their failure/inaction. More buildings can get flooded close to the Foam as the waters continue to rise. Zindul can use the Orb to summon a Storm of Vengeance once a month and plans to attack the town again directly with it which can also be worked into the story at the DM’s discretion, as it has been about one month since the last attack.

This section reads more like design notes that should have been worked into your proposal and made part of the actual story to your adventure. Highlighting them as other possbilities in the conclusion is weak. And writing this commentary up as ways for the PCs to "get it" doesn't showcase much in the way of describing the specifics an author would need to deliver in a write-up as well as his proposal.

So, my overall recommendation is that you re-evaluate all the feedback you've received. Understand it's meant to help you shore up places where your writing is weak or your premise is ill-conceived. Catching the eye of someone like Josh (or any other developer at Paizo) is not an easy thing to do when you're in competition with so many other writers who DO have a foundation to their writing that implements the points I raised above. Pay attention to the other rejections and the feedback they recieve, too. You could very easily learn a different approach to apply to your own writing...not only in how another author designed his or her intro, brief summary, encounters, and conclusion...but also in how others suggest tweaks and additional ideas that would make them even better.

In short, I think it's really cool that Paizo gives new authors a chance to jump into game design with short, succinct PFS scenarios. It's a good training ground...and, in some ways, even harder than large adventure design...because the small word-count (both in the 750-word proposal and the 7,000-word adventure) and 4-hour scenario limitations force you to hone things down to the brightest, most-polished piece you can produce. I'd liken it to the difficulties in crafting a great shortstory vs. a novel. Anyone can ramble on and on and fill out a book. But, writing a compelling, entertaining shortstory is often a far greater work of art.

My two-cents,
--Neil

Grand Lodge **

NSpicer wrote:
Your response above comes across as sarcastic to me, and runs the risk (fairly or unfairly) of painting you as someone who doesn't accept feedback very well. But in your earlier replies, you do appear to desire and appreciate feedback. So, in the interests of that, I'm going to offer some as well...because I think you had the seed of a good idea in this scenario proposal. I just think your execution and communication of that idea didn't come across very well.

It is not an easy thing to realize something you though was thought out and rational is actually a steaming pile.

I very much appreciate all the feedback, and hope to make my next submission stronger for it. You took quite a bit of time to break everything down in serious detail, and I thank you.

Cheliax

yoda8myhead wrote:
Asgetrion wrote:
some Pathfinders (especially if from Cheliax) might be Neutral or even Evil.

Maybe in non-organized play games, but in PFS no one is allowed to be of an evil alignment.

And the major artifact can be retrieved at any tier, because it won't be on anyone's chronicle. It goes to the Society for research or hoarding in the vault.

Ah, you're absolutely correct; my bad! I'm almost tempted to admit that this shows how well I know the PFS rules, but then again, I'm a Chelaxian -- we break the rules all the time! ;)

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

NSpicer wrote:
I'll note that you've called it Falcon's Hallow. And you go on to do it several more times throughout your submission. Clearly, you mean Falcon's Hollow...

I have to come back and offset this comment a bit. I just noticed the original PFS Open Call for #43 also erroneously called it Falcon's Hallow rather than Falcon's Hollow. ;-)

--Neil

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