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Seeking Feedback on the New Open Call Format


Scenario Submission Talk

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**

So, the new open call format was announced today. You can read about it on the blog or here. I'm curious how everyone feels about it. Instead of a formulaic 750-word submission, you can send a sub 500-word query or, for the brave and perhaps previously published, a full adventure scenario for my perusal. I hope this promotes better entries, more frequent entries, and results in some fantastic scenario proposals and final adventures.

What do you think?


I like it. Just out of curiosity, what are you looking for in the 500 word submission.

Cheliax

I've never done a submission so I would also like to know. Do you just want a basic plot synopsis, or would you like some structure as to encounters and NPCs ?

**

It's a query. I want to get the gist of your idea once I'm done reading it. I leave the format up to you.

** RPG Superstar 2012

I like the idea. I appreciate you making a distinction in this post about the "entire adventure" submission being for brave (foolhardy) OR more experienced writers. I personally feel better about sending a 500-word query to you, rather than investing a lot of time and effort in writing an entire manuscript that will get rejected. I do understand that getting a green light from the 500-word query is no guarantee the adventure will be accepted.

Will you give any feedback for queries or full adventures beyond a standard "thanks, but no thanks" response? I've read through and played PFS scenarios, but, after 6 submissions, I still feel like I haven't figured it out yet.

Cheliax

Josh, would the "full submission" need to include the whole set of faction missions, in addition to the story, stats etc etc? I.e. is it a "if we like it, we edit it and throw it out the door" or more a "If we like it, we'll massage/expand it quite a bit..."?

**

It would need to be a complete submission.

As for the 500-word query, I may provide some feedback, but won't guarantee feedback since this could possibly turn into a monstrous pile of subs and a rejection letter might be all the time I have.

Cheliax

Joshua J. Frost wrote:

It would need to be a complete submission.

:)

I get the feeling you will see a flood over the next few days Josh. Hopefully they give you plenty of good reading, and not too much despair.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Joshua J. Frost wrote:
So, the new open call format was announced today....I'm curious how everyone feels about it.

I like it. Kind of feels like a return to the days of query submissions to Dungeon magazine and a slush pile of manuscripts to wade through. Hope it works out for you, Josh. I don't have time to submit a query or take on another project right now. But, I may down the road. Also, I'm still poking my head in here from time to time, to critique some of the rejected submissions/queries.

--Neil


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I am excited and thrilled! Its a lot more work, but even if your submission is not selected, going through this process (writing a complete scenario) is so valuable to finally become successful. I think its a great idea!
To everyone who is considering doing this,but is afraid of the time commitment and being rejected, I provide the following quote from my favorite athlete, "You miss 100% of the shots you never take." -Wayne Gretzky

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

As I said in another thread: Woot!

500 word query it is, but first....a good idea.

Paizo Employee ** Developer

I like the potential to submit several 500 word queries and see which one sticks. The continuously open nature of this system means that potential contributors can capitalize on inspiration whenever it hits, and not just if it comes when there is an open call it fits. It also allows busy writers to move the bulk of their work on a scenario to when they have the time instead of when it may conflict with other deadlines.

I hope that we can get some feedback from you on whether the new system works better on your end after it's had a bit of time to percolate. Even just a "this new system has already given me X new scenarios which are all super exciting" would be encouraging to those submitting.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8

I'm definitely going to take a stab at the 12,000 words over the holidays. I know I'll enjoy writing it.

I haven't decided whether to submit 500 word queries first. I know it makes sense to run ideas by you but trying to write the longer piece might help me resolve potential problems as I write.

*

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game Subscriber
Larcifer wrote:

I am excited and thrilled! Its a lot more work, but even if your submission is not selected, going through this process (writing a complete scenario) is so valuable to finally become successful. I think its a great idea!

To everyone who is considering doing this,but is afraid of the time commitment and being rejected, I provide the following quote from my favorite athlete, "You miss 100% of the shots you never take." -Wayne Gretzky

I agree with Larcifer. It's definitely a matter of expectations. My wife has done NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) a couple of times, where hundreds of amateur writers try to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. I have often considered doing something similar for RPG material, and a 12,000 word adventure is pretty reasonable by comparison.

I'd love to turn my previous submission into a scenario (incorporating all the great feedback I received), but I'm in a middle of a few life changes currently. I also think my submission might be stronger after Dwarves of Golarion comes out. :)

Qadira *****

Joshua, is there a word document format I could download to work in? I'm particularly interested in stat block formatting.


The Blog wrote:

1. Use our setting details to make your own story, don't cram your story so full of our canon that it reads like a Frankenstein's monster of other authors' work. Read this post for an example.

2. Understand that Pathfinder Society is not a good-aligned organization, nor is it evil. Also understand that evil characters are not allowed in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. Also understand that all scenarios must be PG-13.

3. Avoid child endangerment stories. It's cheap, it's trite, and I'm tired of reading them.

4. Not really looking for comedies.

5. I am really looking for high adventure stories with drama, action, and roleplay.

6. Speaking of roleplay, I'd love for someone to knock me dead with a good murder mystery scenario. And I mean really good in the sense that after 4 hours of game play at a convention every class of player walks away from the table satisfied. Tall order, I know, but I'd love to see it happen.

7. #5 and #6 do not mean that all I want to see are high adventure stories and murder mysteries. If you have a really good idea that's neither of those two, I want to see it.

8. Only send me your best ideas and your (very important) BEST-WRITTEN ideas. You may send more than one idea.

9. NO EASTER EGGS. What I mean by that is this: don't be cute and include a reference to your favorite comic book/movie/song/etc. If we catch it, you're done. If we don't catch it, we could get the pants sued off of us. Just don't do it.

10. Passive voice is a rejection in the making. Read this website and this thread to understand passive voice.

Joshua J. Frost wrote:

So, the new open call format was announced today. You can read about it on the blog or here. I'm curious how everyone feels about it. Instead of a formulaic 750-word submission, you can send a sub 500-word query or, for the brave and perhaps previously published, a full adventure scenario for my perusal. I hope this promotes better entries, more frequent entries, and results in some fantastic scenario proposals and final adventures.

What do you think?

You do realise that you've just thrown down the gauntlet for anyone out there even crazier than me to write a murder-mystery which finishes with frankenstein's monster being battled on the back of a flying dragon after taking in along the way a series of crimes commited by circus clowns against their former childhood tormentors (although the Van Helsing 'tribute' references may at least be cut)?

:)

Edit:
Best of luck to all those who are about to submit.

**

Yeah, but I bet I read one sentence of that proposal and reject it. :-)

**

Here's some general advice based on queries so far:

I'm not looking for vampire stories right now.

If you spell Absalom wrong in the first sentence, I'm probably going to stop reading right there. In fact, if you spell anything wrong in the first sentence, I'm going to stop right there. Your query is a reflection of you--if it has spelling errors and grammatical errors it reflects poorly on you as an author.

Keep submitting!

**

Katharan al-Zawree wrote:
Joshua, is there a word document format I could download to work in? I'm particularly interested in stat block formatting.

We only make our formatting sheets available to contracted authors since they contain NDA-worthy material. Follow the formats established in our published works, particularly our works published after July of this year, and you'll probably be okay.


We only make our formatting sheets available to contracted authors since they contain NDA-worthy material. Follow the formats established in our published works, particularly our works published after July of this year, and you'll probably be okay.

When writing a full adventure, do stat blocks count as part of the 12,000 word count?

Thanks

Cheliax

Joshua J. Frost wrote:
Here's some general advice based on queries so far:

Hey! no fair, you could have used more than one submission for your tips!

<hangs head in shame and wanders off to think some more....>

Spoiler:
Worst thing is I wrote that first sentence, and thought, hmmm, must check I spelt that right later..... wrote the rest, re-read it. Saved it, checked it had everything it should have in the header, spell checked it, re-read it, and submitted it.

You may spot the problem...

**

PKelly 388 wrote:
When writing a full adventure, do stat blocks count as part of the 12,000 word count?

Yes.

Sczarni *** Venture-Lieutenant, Connecticut—Manchester aka Cpt_kirstov

Nevynxxx wrote:
Joshua J. Frost wrote:
Here's some general advice based on queries so far:

Hey! no fair, you could have used more than one submission for your tips!

<hangs head in shame and wanders off to think some more....>

** spoiler omitted **

Many word processors allow for custom dictionaries for their spell checkers. People might want to think about adding words that they think they will use often in their proposals/drafts to their custom word list before spell checking (or before writing) so that they will pop up as suggestions.


It has been many years since I have read up on the legalities of writing submissions, so I have a couple of questions.

If a submission or query is accepted, what length of time does Paizo have to either publish the module or return the rights to the author?

If a submission or query is rejected outright and not re-submittable after a revision, what is the length of time that must pass before the ideas for the adventure can be reworked for a different setting/system and submitted to another company.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

Enevhar Aldarion wrote:


If a submission or query is rejected outright and not re-submittable after a revision, what is the length of time that must pass before the ideas for the adventure can be reworked for a different setting/system and submitted to another company.

One second. If they did not want it, then it is instantly repitchable.

Cheliax

Cpt_kirstov wrote:
Many word processors allow for custom dictionaries for their spell checkers. People might want to think about adding words that they think they will use often in their proposals/drafts to their custom word list before spell checking (or before writing) so that they will pop up as suggestions.

That's true, and something I do usually do. Unfortunately, the spell check on this machine is playing up, and so was telling me fgfghhjvb was spelt correctly, and I completely forgot to check the words I *knew* it wouldn't know about.

Oh well, live and learn


Darkjoy wrote:
Enevhar Aldarion wrote:


If a submission or query is rejected outright and not re-submittable after a revision, what is the length of time that must pass before the ideas for the adventure can be reworked for a different setting/system and submitted to another company.
One second. If they did not want it, then it is instantly repitchable.

Not with some publishers. Maybe the rules the industry uses now have changed over the years, but some publishers required you to wait an amount of time, like three or six months, after a rejection before you tried submitting somewhere else. There are all sorts of different kinds of rights in the publishing world.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

Enevhar Aldarion wrote:
Darkjoy wrote:
Enevhar Aldarion wrote:


If a submission or query is rejected outright and not re-submittable after a revision, what is the length of time that must pass before the ideas for the adventure can be reworked for a different setting/system and submitted to another company.
One second. If they did not want it, then it is instantly repitchable.
Not with some publishers. Maybe the rules the industry uses now have changed over the years, but some publishers required you to wait an amount of time, like three or six months, after a rejection before you tried submitting somewhere else. There are all sorts of different kinds of rights in the publishing world.

Then I would suggest you check the PDF file that Joshua made available, if it suggests a waiting period, then you'll have your answer.

ETA: checked it for you, there is nothing in it regarding wait times.


Darkjoy wrote:

Then I would suggest you check the PDF file that Joshua made available, if it suggests a waiting period, then you'll have your answer.

ETA: checked it for you, there is nothing in it regarding wait times.

Where is the link to this pdf? I read back through all of Joshua's posts in this thread and I did not see anything.

Paizo Employee ** Developer

Enevhar Aldarion wrote:
Where is the link to this pdf? I read back through all of Joshua's posts in this thread and I did not see anything.

It is here along with all the other info on the new open call system.

Cheliax

Out of interest, is there any reason why ODF and PDF were left off the list of allowed file formats?

I presume that OpenOffice isn't standard in the Paizo offices, which would explain the ODF restriction. But you obviously can handle PDFs. Was it just oversight, wanting to keep the list short, or is there some other reason?

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

Nevynxxx wrote:

Out of interest, is there any reason why ODF and PDF were left off the list of allowed file formats?

I presume that OpenOffice isn't standard in the Paizo offices, which would explain the ODF restriction. But you obviously can handle PDFs. Was it just oversight, wanting to keep the list short, or is there some other reason?

Ease of editing? Most publishers want 'clean' unformated text. Editing a PDF file would be troublesome: get the text from the PDF into another fileformat and then start editing, too much work.

**

Nevynxxx wrote:

Out of interest, is there any reason why ODF and PDF were left off the list of allowed file formats?

I presume that OpenOffice isn't standard in the Paizo offices, which would explain the ODF restriction. But you obviously can handle PDFs. Was it just oversight, wanting to keep the list short, or is there some other reason?

Can't edit a PDF.

Cheliax

Joshua J. Frost wrote:
Nevynxxx wrote:

Out of interest, is there any reason why ODF and PDF were left off the list of allowed file formats?

I presume that OpenOffice isn't standard in the Paizo offices, which would explain the ODF restriction. But you obviously can handle PDFs. Was it just oversight, wanting to keep the list short, or is there some other reason?

Can't edit a PDF.

I see (also, you got ninja'd!) thought it may be something like that.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

All of the editorial staff uses Microsoft Word to read and edit and write and develop stuff. Furthermore, using a text, doc, or RTF file prevents you from getting too fancy. We're interested ONLY in words at this stage, and PDFs in my experience tempt authors to get too fancy with layout and fonts and treatments. That stuff just gets in the way.

We also use Macs at Paizo, so keeping the file document formats narrow helps to avoid PC vs. Mac conflicts.

Qadira *****

Joshua J. Frost wrote:
We only make our formatting sheets available to contracted authors since they contain NDA-worthy material. Follow the formats established in our published works, particularly our works published after July of this year, and you'll probably be okay.

That's fair enough. Thanks

JP

Cheliax

James Jacobs wrote:

We're interested ONLY in words at this stage

I won't mention accepting TeX then ;)

Andoran *

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

Sorry haven't read this post, gotta get ready for work, but having read Josh's blog post I love this new open call format and can't wait to get started. The thing that's been holding me back from participating is wanting to have the Bestiary in my hands and it is on its way so I'm already coming up with a few ideas.

Qadira *****

Joshua,

I took a few days to think about how I feel about this. I must say that I like the idea, but submitting a 12k document and seeing it refused would really annoy me. The 500 word caveat is a great way to judge your interest without writing a complete thing.

What I would *REALLY* like to see for PFS would be a regional system like Living Arcanis or Living Greyhawk. Even if the scope is smaller it would be awesome and allow us players to develop characters from specific locations. That way we would return to specific locations more often that the occasional visit.

Golarion is AWESOME.

JP

**

We talked about the idea of regions very early in the Society's development and ruled it out. Pathfinder Society is one region: the world.

Cheliax Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

Joshua J. Frost wrote:

Here's some general advice based on queries so far:

I'm not looking for vampire stories right now.

What if the vampires deal with issues relevant to today's teens, like sparkliness and abstinence? That's different, right?

Osirion ****

Paizo Superscriber
Joshua J. Frost wrote:
We talked about the idea of regions very early in the Society's development and ruled it out. Pathfinder Society is one region: the world.

+1 Hated regions in LG

Osirion RPG Superstar 2013

Here in Tulsa, we hated ot for a different reason. We were in the Bandit Kingdoms. I think I saw Iuz once. I ran.

Those poor villagers. I'm so ashamed.

Grand Lodge *

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

Not sure that this is the best place to ask, but I didn't find it in a search or the submission PDF. What does Paizo pay for published Pathfinder Society modules?

(I have written a number of RPGA scenarios over the years, so I understand the work required for a good scenario and know that I'm not going to get rich off of one.)

Osirion ***

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
sieylianna wrote:

Not sure that this is the best place to ask, but I didn't find it in a search or the submission PDF. What does Paizo pay for published Pathfinder Society modules?

(I have written a number of RPGA scenarios over the years, so I understand the work required for a good scenario and know that I'm not going to get rich off of one.)

They've never said. I'm guessing the answer you'll get is:

You find out when we accept your submission.

Just a guess, though.

Qadira

I loved regions in LG, Onnwal for the UK was very strong and we had a design team that fleshed out the area alot.

Cheers

*

What is the stance on group-written/crowd-sourced scenarios? I wish I had asked before Wes' post on the blog this morning, but at least there wouldn't be a deadline here.

**

I don't foresee any future changes to the way we accept authors and produce scenarios. I know a lot of good material was produced in LG through various regional mods, but that's not Paizo's philosophy on product development and I'm not interested in our name, brand, and logos being splashed across what could, potentially, be a lot of bad scenarios.

Should folks wish for more than 28 scenarios a year to be produced, I'd highly recommend you grow the Society in your area, encourage 100% reporting, and buy each scenarios as they release. Society growth + sales growth = more scenarios. :-)

What we pay for scenario work is covered by an author's NDA and thus isn't something I'm going to share in public.

Paizo Employee ** Developer

Just chiming in after Josh's (much more official) answer: I had an idea for a scenario that I mentioned off the cuff to Tim Hitchcock one night and he said, "let's write it together." And we pitched it to Josh and he liked it. The result is next month's "The Darkest Vengeance" scenario. That said, it's only the third scenario out of over 50 to have been written by two or more authors. One of the others is set to be retired this month.

My advice, as someone who's written something as a collaboration, is to limit the number of people involved and be sure you work well together. I think Tim and I put together a good adventure, and a reader wouldn't know it was designed by two people unless they looked at the by-line; that isn't always the case.

*

yoda8myhead wrote:

Just chiming in after Josh's (much more official) answer: I had an idea for a scenario that I mentioned off the cuff to Tim Hitchcock one night and he said, "let's write it together." And we pitched it to Josh and he liked it. The result is next month's "The Darkest Vengeance" scenario. That said, it's only the third scenario out of over 50 to have been written by two or more authors. One of the others is set to be retired this month.

My advice, as someone who's written something as a collaboration, is to limit the number of people involved and be sure you work well together. I think Tim and I put together a good adventure, and a reader wouldn't know it was designed by two people unless they looked at the by-line; that isn't always the case.

Sounds good. A couple folks have mentioned this in our Society group, and while it would be fun to try, I wouldn't want it to get out of hand, either. Thanks for the advice.

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