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RPG Superstar 2015

Crooked Man (Bard)


Round 2 - Top 32: Create an archetype

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Crooked Man (Bard)
Not every bard is a master of music, some are masters of the spoken word. And a select few use this aptitude to sway minds, cower the weak willed and swindle the soft-hearted.
Bardic Performance: A crooked man (or woman) gains the following types of bardic performance.
Honeyed Words (Su) At 1st level the crooked man can use his words to make even a hostile listener believe the incredible. The crooked man may target one person per his bard level. He then makes a speech, which must be in a language the listener understands. Listeners must make a Will Save (DC 10 + 1/2 the bard’s level + the bard’s Cha modifier). If the listeners’ saving throw succeeds, their attitudes do not change and the crooked man cannot attempt to sway them for 24 hours. If their saving throw fails, they become helpful and more inclined to believe whatever the crooked man tells them for as long as the crooked man speaks plus one minute per bard level afterwards. At the end of this duration, listeners automatically become hostile to the crooked man. The distraction of a nearby combat or other dangers prevents this ability from working. This ability relies on audible components. Honeyed Words is is an enchantment (compulsion), mind-affecting ability.This performance replaces Countersong.
Sickening Doubts (Su) At 8th level the crooked man can use his words to cause enemies to grow indecisive and doubt their own abilities, causing them to become sickened. To be affected, an enemy must be within 30 feet and able to hear the bard's performance. The effect persists for as long as the enemy is within 30 feet and the bard continues the performance. The performance cannot cause a creature to become nauseated even if the targets are already sickened from another effect. Sickening Doubt is an enchantment (compulsion), mind-affecting ability and relies on audible components alone. This ability replaces Dirge of Doom.
Silvered Tongue (Ex): A crooked man gains a bonus equal to half his bard level on Bluff, Diplomacy and Perform: Oratory checks (minimum +1). A crooked man may also substitute his Bluff or Diplomacy checks for any Perform check where an audible component is required. This ability replaces Bardic Knowledge.
Verbal Dodge (Ex): Once per day a crooked man may roll a Bluff, Diplomacy or Perform: Oratory check as an immediate action and substitute the result for his Armor Class against one attack. He must keep the result even if it worse than his normal Armor Class. He may use this ability twice at 6th level and once more for every 4 levels thereafter. This ability replaces Versatile Performance.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Another deceptive, con-oriented bard archetype? Seems to be a popular choice. And thus, it's obviously an area worth exploring. So, let's see what we've got...

First up, I like the presentation on this one. You correctly remembered to italicize any new performances for the archetype to distinguish them from new class abilities. That said, honeyed words (love the name, by the way) comes off like an enthrall effect and mass charm person all rolled into one. To which, I think you need to establish either a range for how far this effect reaches its targets...or a limited number of Hit Dice or targets it can affect.

Next up, I don't like sickening doubts, as I think if you're trying to define an ability that puts self-doubt in the minds of the listeners, you should probably go with the shaken condition over the sickened condition. It's more thematically-appropriate. And the sickened condition is a lot more debilitating.

Next up, I like that you remembered to nerf versatile performance at the same time you made silvered tongue available. Otherwise, you'd run the risk of stacking a bard's Perform skill ranks along with half his class level on Bluff or Diplomacy checks which would be overkill. I am a little bothered by the idea of further elevating his Perform (oratory) skill checks. Most bards can already pump the Perform skill as high as it will go. There's probably no need to further compound that with silvered tongue.

Lastly, the verbal dodge ability stretches credibility a little too much for me. Do you really have time to offer up enough words via Bluff, Diplomacy, or especially Perform (oratory) to make an opponent swing too wildly or without as much conviction? You've also got some conflicting information. You start off saying once/day, but then indicate he can use the ability twice at 6th level plus one use for every 4 levels thereafter. So, which is it?

So, there's some missteps in this submission from a mechanical standpoint. The same can be said for the presentation/proofreading on the last ability. I'm not fully sold on it.

As such, I DO NOT RECOMMEND this archetype design to advance to the next round. But, best of luck in the voting.

CEO, Goblinworks

Total Points: 1.5 Points
Recommendation: Not recommended to advance

Comments In Detail

Name & Theme (0 points)
Name doesn't really match the theme.

Mechanics (.5 point)
These mechanics are mostly harmless, mostly boring, and unlikely to convince anyone to play this archetype.

There are errors in the mechanics for Verbal Dodge. Substituting for AC is probably not a great mechanic - you'd be better off creating a Dodge bonus. And can I use this more than once per day or not? And once per day for one attack is well, weak.

Awesomeness (0 points)
Not awesome.

Template (1 point)
Good job on the template with lots of nitpicky formatting and other styleguide issues correctly implemented.

Context (0 point)
Who is this for? Is this a GM character? If so, you're supposing that the PCs will be Mind Affected enough to matter. Is this a PC character? Under what circumstances would a group want this character around and how could it meaningfully contribute.

Looks like you set out to design something to a preconceived idea and didn't gut check it to figure out if it was something that could win RPG Superstar.

Paizo Employee Developer

This deception-oriented, roleplay-heavy concept is big this year! Let's see how your archetype stands up on its own before we unleash it to the voters to compare it to those of your peers.

I like the archetype name, as crooked man isn't as boring as con-man or fast talker or something like that. So good job coming up with something exciting for the name. Now to the meat:

Providing alternate bardic performances is always a great way to customize a bard around a theme, so good design decision there. I really like honeyed words, and can certainly see a lot of characters getting good use out of it. It's almost a free charm person, which is toeing the overpowered line. Some of the phrasing here is off, however, and another edit pass to tighten it up and use game terms (like "language dependent" instead of "must be in a language the listener understands") would really make the ability shine.

Sickening doubts, however, seems strange to me. Neil mentions that there are better conditions to inflict upon the target, and I completely agree. Sickened just doesn't really jive with me.

Silvered tongue seems a reasonable swap for bardic knowledge, what with granting similar bonuses to a different set of skills...until you consider the fact that giving bonuses on Perform seriously increases a bard's effectiveness. Given that many of the class's abilities hinge on successfully performing in the PC's chosen area, and that this archetype bases those same successes on the use of the very same Perform sub-skill as this ability grants a bonus to, it could easily overpower those abilities.

Verbal dodge is a great example of this, allowing an AC substitution of 1d20 (avg 11) + 1.5 times the bard's level + 3 + Ability score (likely a maxed Cha), assuming max ranks in any one of the skills. Even at 5th level that's an immediate AC 30 with a d20 roll of 11, max ranks in the skill, and an 18 Cha. Even once a day, that's a life-saver if that attack was a crit threat or came as part of a chain of powerful attacks. I'm just not buying it as being balanced, especially as it's going to scale awkwardly as level, skill ranks, and Ability scores all increase over the course of the game.

I really wanted this one to work, as you're aiming for a really fun concept. I just don't think the mechanics are necessarily there currently. Thus, I DO NOT RECOMMEND this archetype for advancement. Best of luck in the voting, James.

Contributor

Honeyed Words: Hmm, this is a 1st-level performance that lasts minutes with the spending of just one round of performance. That feels a little too good, even though you're just talking about changing attitudes. Compare to charm person, which costs you a precious spell known and spell slot, and only affects one creature (albeit for 1 hour/level).

Silvered Tongue: You're replaced a semi-passive Knowledge skill bonus with a bonus on three skills that are vital to this sort of character. This is a powerup. And then you let them use Bluff or Diplo in place of what they'd use for their type of "performance," which means the character basically doesn't need to spend points in Perform any more.

Verbal Dodge: I really don't like X/day extraordinary abilities. If there's no magical source for the power being depleted, you should be able to use it over and over. This ability should also state if you have to activate it before whether or not you know the attacker's roll is a success.

This has a good theme, and I like the name, though I don't think a con artist should have have quite so many combat abilities, he should be more of a talky character. There are also some shaky mechanics here and it's set up so the character only has to rely on a couple of skills to be really good at a lot of things.

RECOMMENDATION: I do NOT recommend this archetype design for advancement in the competition.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Thank you for your support and please vote for my item! If you have questions, I'll be happy to answer them once voting for this round is closed.


James Martin wrote:

Crooked Man (Bard)

Not every bard is a master of music, some are masters of the spoken word. And a select few use this aptitude to sway minds, cower the weak willed and swindle the soft-hearted.

Disclaimer:

You should know the drill by now, but in case you missed it the first time round, Ask A RPGSupersuccubus is posting from the point of view of a CE aligned succubus:
Spoiler:
Fairness is an adjective applicable to hair coloration, balance is what a couple of mortals rapidly losing it on opposite ends of a plank pivoted on a rocky spire a couple of hundred feet above a slowly rising pool of molten basalt try to do, and logic is one of those things which you could swear is there when you rattle the piggybank but if anyone other than a demon opens it the contents turn out to be a couple of dead moths and a three week old shopping list.
;)

Would you want this person sitting next to you as a guest at a formal evening dress dinner party?
No and yes. He's an oily, objectionable, type of person, always looking at what's in it for himself, and whilst to a certain extent his 'make the most of idiots' philosophy could be regarded as admirable, the way he 'accidentally' brushes your arm as he reaches for his wine glass and leers at you over his roll makes this one of the least desirable not-actually-hostile diners you'd want to sit next to from a social point of view.
From a practical point of view, this person pretty much spends the meal serving himself up to you on a plate, so a succubus can have him following coffee and thanks to the hostess as a little guilt-free* extra dessert.
*I'm reasonably sure that the latest research indicates that devouring an oily mortal's life-force and soul after eating a good dinner is not that unkind to one's figure...

How effective a flower-picker does this person seem likely to be?
He wouldn't do it. He'd get someone else to do it, and in a tricksy way utterly devoid of all romance. Half the time whomever he sent (on the cheap) would get torn to pieces by a killer rabbit or something and you can bet he wouldn't even have a halfway decent excuse for just why he didn't have the flowers you wanted.

Could you hire one person like this to do a better job than one other trained mercenary and/or to do the jobs of two (or more) other trained mercenaries?
Whatever his abilities might be, as compared to anyone else's suited for the same errand, you can safely say a Crooked Man will charge you disproportionately more. This man Will Not Come Cheap, and whatever he offers it Will Not Be A Bargain.

Other comments?
There was a Crooked Man, and he had a Crooked House...
On the subject of a Crooked Man's lair, whilst you're in the process of eating him, I would advise any succubus to ransack as much of his mind as possible, since he's bound to have one or more lairs, bank-boxes, or other stashes packed with diverse coins and other valuables.

Desirability:
Very tasty snack.

Further Disclaimer:
Ask A RPGSupersuccubus (with half an eye on Lord Orcus) would like to clarify that mortal voters should probably rely on more than just her own (impeccable) assessments in making up their minds on how to vote. Thank You.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013

This seems like a good idea which just doesn't have the muscle to bring it in. The Bluff to AC is really broken, and the rest of the abilities seem to leave me wanting.

An excellent concept but your writing sort of let you down.

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

I like the name (reminds me of Barnaby the Crooked Man from Babes in Toyland), and the con artist is a classic trope in fantasy fiction... that unfortunately is brutally hard to define in a mechanically useful way in an RPG. The abilities you created are interesting and I like your naming, but the effects are a bit too good, especially verbal dodge.

I think you score well on creativity but mechanics aren't quite there. We'll see what the voters think.

Congrats on making it into the contest, and best of luck!

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6, Contributor , Dedicated Voter 2013

I like the name, love the concise description that draws me in. After that I run into some problems with each ability, I'm afraid, in ways the judges have spelled out pretty well.

Neil: I have disagree on your quibble with the once per day ability. He's pretty close to the usual terminology, which is to start with "once per day". Where it goes afoul is the end, where saying Something like "For every four additional bard levels attained, he may use this ability an additional time per day, to a maximum of [blah] at [blah] level". So it's close.

But it is a contest, and it's a fantastic idea to check the books for the developers word abilities. I try and remember to do this every time myself.

Even though I like the idea, I'm having to put this one in my pass pile for now. But good luck in the voting! I loved your poisoner's retort.

Edit: one more complement. Sexy ability names. Good job there.


I`m not going to go over all the criticisms already brought up...
Most of the problems seem ultimately minor, and it has the over-all coherency and style that says it CAN be a GREAT class with a little bit of work.

I don`t know if Verbal Dodge is TOO much, though maybe it`s usages could be slowed down a bit - Mostly because it`s such a limited ability that you are still going to need to invest in your AC, which is wasted when you substitute the Skill Modifier. BTW, in the PRPG tradition, I would have expected 10+Skill Modifier rather than ROLLING a Skill Check here.

But I thought your Poisoner`s Retort Item was great, and your writing seems well up to snuff, so I`m definitely giving you my vote this round! Good luck!


I love the concept. It was near the top of my list for what I'd like to have as a character option.

My main issue is with the honeyed words ability. There is already a rogue talent with that name, and I would prefer that one over this one.

Kudos for going the bard route. It is a far more challenging choice IMO. Good luck in the voting.


This is an okay execution of a swindler theme.

I like the introductory text.

The following part of the first sentence of the Bardic Performance entry causes me to think that the name of the archetype should be gender neutral.

A crooked man (or woman)

Some of the writing needs to be cleaned up.

The Verbal Dodge ability does not indicate at what level it first kicks in.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013

Another good concept, but mechanics are a bit, crooked.

Sorry James, I'm going to have to pass on this one.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013

This is close, but I think it will be nudged out by other archetypes for my vote. I like the concept, but this really needs an editing pass and a cold, hard look at the power-level of the abilities.

Shadow Lodge

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

I'm biased in favor of this item because you basically built a performance poet. Glance at my profile to see why you'll get my vote on this alone.

I've said elsewhere, and I'll say it again: I don't like abilities that only help PC's. I just can't overlook that. For me the archetypes have to swing both ways.

I'm not convinced by the judges' complaints, so I'm going to give this one my very first thumbs up.


James Martin wrote:
Crooked Man (Bard)

Conceptually I like this character. You have to keep in mind with reading it that they are still a bard in all other respects. It's just a few different abilities.

I think Sickening Doubts is powerful, but so is Dirge of Doom.

Verbal Dodge isn't well explained. I think I have an idea what you're getting at, but you didn't explain it.

I don't think I'll vote for this one, simply because I don't find it to be exciting enough.

Good work though. It's good, just not great.

Ken

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 , Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Demiurge 1138

Either you are closing your eyes to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge, or you are unaware of the caliber of disaster indicated by the presence of a crooked man in your community!

Well, you got trouble, my friends.

Unfortunately, so does this entry. I love charismatic con-man characters from both a player and DM perspective, so my hopes were high. First off, the honeyed words ability. It feels like it should be replacing fascinate, since bards already have a "sit down and shut up" ability, and this renders its victims helpful rather than passive. Also, it targets way more people than fascinate can, which is dangerous. The fact that the attitude switches to hostile after the duration has passed is funny, and possibly balancing, but still the ability leaves a sour taste in my mouth, which is a problem considering how crucial it is to the class.

Verbal dodge, though, I like. It's like Mounted Combat for yourself, but with rather more limitations. It should be a supernatural ability, though. And trading it for versatile performance is a good idea. Versatile performance is one of the bard's stronger non-spell abilities.

I'm on the fence with this one. It may end up with my vote... but I might regret it the next day when I realize it also made off with my wallet.

Star Voter 2013

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I disagree with most people. I really like Honeyed Words. Its a suped up intimidate. Instead of friendly it gives you helpful, and instead of unfriendly they go to hostile afterwords. Its a will save instead of a skill check, which puts it working less frequently. It doesn't last as long, and gives a more negative reaction, so the players better have an escape route when using it, but it works quicker so you don't need that minute of conversation to start. I agree that it should probably replace Facinate instead, but I love this ability overall, and understand why he would also want the orator to be able to Facinate. If you chose Facinate, you could have given them a new feature for Suggestion and Mass Suggestion as well, building off of Honeyed Words.

Sickening Doubt doesn't do it for me though. Dirge of Doom is thematically the exact same thing you describe, and the effect makes more sense.

Silvered Tongue: I don't mind this. Bards normally get versatile performance anyway, giving all 3 skills the same score in the 3 skills. This way he gets 1/2 level bonus in exchange for losing bardic knowledge. Not a bad trade, and it puts their bluff on the same level as an inquisitor's Sense Motive. Losing Bardic Knowledge but keeping Lore Master is wierd though.

Verbal Dodge: I think you need to describe the flavor a bit more, and if you need to declare it before you know the result of the attack. Overall I don't have a problem with this, as it is kind of a defensive feint/ "Look over there". I don't see the power being that abusive limmitted as it is in times per day. To me it seems like for 1 attack a couple times per day you get the AC of a sword and board fighter. I think it is a combat power increase, but you are sacrificing a lot of the bard's skill expertise. Getting rid of versatile performance means you need to now keep 3 skills maxed instead of 1 (oratory, Bluff, and diplomacy, and you no longer get more so you are effectively giving up about 4 skill points for this ability, and making it harder to specialize with skill focus feats.

Overall: I think you chose the wrong songs to replace. Fascinate and Suggestion would be good replacements, for non-combat abilities. Inspire Greatness and Heroics don't fit the theme that well either, and would have been decent choices to come up with new, cool combat abilities for.


James Martin wrote:

Crooked Man (Bard)

Disclaimer: My ranking scheme for this round consists of given marks form 0 to 4 in the following three categories:

1.Is the Archetype conceptually interesting?
2.Are the mechanics of the Archetype interesting?
3.Are the mechanics of the Archetype balanced and well executed?
But rather than simply adding up the marks for a final score I'm gonna interpret them as a point in 3-dimensional space and the final mark of your submission will be the length of the vector between the origin and this point.
Note that my ranking doesn't need to directly correspond with my votes, as other factors like: Strength of your item submission, mood, my horrorscope and other random stuff still factor in. Also note that this scheme is highly subjective and only mirrors my perception and opinion about your archetype submission.

Conceptual Mojo (CM): 2, again a con artist archetype. I can see why they are popular, after al lthey are a very popular character concept. But that also means that it is not too creative.
Mechanical Mojo (MM): 3, Great ability names, and they all (mostly) fit the theme.
Mechanical Execution (ME): 2. Good basic concepts, but problematic execution. The last ability bugs me the most, it has too much of a Book of nine swords and 4E feel to me, with their attacks vs. Will and concentration checks as AC.

Final note: Relatively standard idea, which got my hopes up with cool ability names, but then again was kinda disappointing in mechanics.

Total Score: 4.123

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4 , Star Voter 2013 aka raidou

James, I thought your Retort was a really neat and useful gadget, well thought out. Before I even get into the abilities of the Crooked Man, though, I'm a little nervous about it. The core bard in PF encompasses musicians, dancers, orators, jugglers, and so on all under the Perform skill umbrella. From your description, it sounds like this archetype isn't deviating too far from the core class. Let's see what he can actually do with his clever wordplay.

crooked man wrote:
Honeyed Words (Su) At 1st level the crooked man can use his words to make even a hostile listener ... become helpful and more inclined to believe whatever the crooked man tells them for as long as the crooked man speaks plus one minute per bard level afterwards. At the end of this duration, listeners automatically become hostile to the crooked man. The distraction of a nearby combat or other dangers prevents this ability from working. This ability relies on audible components. Honeyed Words is is an enchantment (compulsion), mind-affecting ability.This performance replaces Countersong.

This ability goes slightly beyond what Intimidate already does, by making your targets Helpful, rather than Friendly, for a short period of time. I'm on the fence with it, though. I feel like it's too much like Intimidate, or the Coax Information rogue talent, to stand on its own. It also lasts longer than a typical bard performance. So one round of performance gets you helpful enemies for several minutes. Sort of a mass charm effect, actually. I think it's probably a bit overpowered as a low-level ability.

crooked man wrote:
Sickening Doubts (Su) At 8th level the crooked man can use his words to cause enemies to grow indecisive and doubt their own abilities, causing them to become sickened... This ability replaces Dirge of Doom.

This is not a bad ability, actually. Better than making them shaken, which can be accomplished a half-dozen other ways. I think this is a fine substitution, but I also think it needs to be language-dependent. Most anything a speaker is going to be able to accomplish is going to depend on people around him being able to understand him.

crooked man wrote:
Silvered Tongue (Ex): A crooked man gains a bonus equal to half his bard level on Bluff, Diplomacy and Perform: Oratory checks (minimum +1). A crooked man may also substitute his Bluff or Diplomacy checks for any Perform check where an audible component is required. This ability replaces Bardic Knowledge.

Since you're giving up Versatile Performance, this is an interesting continuation of that theme. How do you substitute Bluff or Diplomacy for instumental performances, though? That seems odd.

crooked man wrote:
Verbal Dodge (Ex): Once per day a crooked man may roll a Bluff, Diplomacy or Perform: Oratory check as an immediate action and substitute the result for his Armor Class against one attack. He must keep the result even if it worse than his normal Armor Class. He may use this ability twice at 6th level and once more for every 4 levels thereafter. This ability replaces Versatile Performance.

What's missing here is how this works. Do you talk the opponent into making a mistake? In that case this should be a language-dependent ability. Can this work when silenced?

James, in the end I don't think I'm that wowed by the Crooked Man. It has a couple neat tricks but I don't feel like it's that different from a core Bard to warrant a specific archetype.

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

Name and concept: Maybe this is a reference that I'm not familiar with. The only crooked man I know of is the one who bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse .. but I don't see any sixpence-finding skills here. Does this just mean a crook, a con-man? Hard for me to say.
Archetype mechanics, expression of the concept: It uses the format for a bard archetype appropriately.
Honeyed Words: This looks like bending the effect of Diplomacy to multiple targets and a much easier success mechanic, using bardic magic. Swapping this for Countersong seems an odd fit.
Sickening Doubts seems a pretty random substitution. I can't see that it supports the author's concept any better than Dirge of Doom, and they do close to the same thing.
Silvered Tongue: Seems about right, exchanging one moderately important element of adventures for another.
Verbal Dodge needs some physical description or justification of what he's doing, which might answer some urgent questions, such as: what sort of action does it take - particularly, can he use it to interrupt an attack? Is it mind-affecting? Why doesn't his normal AC protect him if it's better? This is simply incomplete.
Wider relationships: Spoken words certainly could be a suitable direction for a bard, but I feel straight-out lying is not quite right for the class. I find it hard to separate the concept of a simple con-artist (if I've read the author's intentions right) from the rogue.

This just seems to be a hodge-podge of ideas that haven't gelled in the final entry.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Little formatting issues cropped up in this entry. Repeated word: “Honeyed Words is is”, no space between “ability.This”. Also it should probably be “This performance replaces…” not “ability” for sickening doubts.

The honeyed words performance is a bit good, helpful is a lot better than friendly, which is what charm person makes its target. I don’t mind the silvered tongue ability because if I’m going to be a swindler, I want to be great at lying. To me the sickening doubts and verbal dodge abilities aren’t great, mainly because they don’t go with the theme as much as some of the other abilities.

You are likely to have a tough time the voting booth as there are other crooked swindler type archetypes. If you get through, work on keeping your villain consistent and lined up with your theme. Good luck.


The title didn`t CLICK with me, but I feel the rest of it was a good execution.
Your Poisoner`s Tort was really good work, and makes me really want to see you in future rounds.
Good Luck!

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka Steven T. Helt

I think the styles and presentation are the only things done well here. A boring class with a bad name that doesn't really establish a theme.

The abilties aren't special - a good bard can already sway attitudes in a crowded room, so why lose an abiltity to gain another way to use Diplomacy or Intimidate?

The AC ability must be a joke. Substitute a Bluff check for your AC? In addition to being unclear about uses oer day, it makes zero sense to me. What - the bard puts on a pair of glasses and appeals to the gentlemanly nature of the orc barbarian? And if you could convince me it cuold work in any way, it's have to be an (Su), and it'd have to be less (potentially) broken than making my AC 1d20+3+Cha mod+rank and other stuff. Even then, ether you've maxed out your skill so the AC substitute will be really high, or you may have accomplished virtually nothing. At a whopping 20 Cha, at first level, you're looking at an average AC of 19 for one attack. Yay.

That ability is hard for me to take seriously, and the others are not exciting or tactically helpful to my party.


Disclaimer:
Ask A RPGSupersuccubus is posting from the point of view of a CE aligned succubus; and in the language of the Abyss ‘sorry’ is what you make others after you’ve had a bad day, ‘commiserations’ is the concept whereby if you’ve had a miserable day you go out and make others at least as unhappy as you are, and ‘sympathy’ is military jargon for a popular model of half a mile high siege-tower with spiked wheels, ballistae and fireball hurling catapults. (By way of explanation for the latter it’s a demonic joke: ‘See, we have sympathy for your situation’.)

Obligatory End of Round 2 Results Post:

Spoiler:
In the ever-shifting chaos of Abyssal hierarchies and social-networks, Good Manners are naturally essential. One never knows when a powerful demon whom one once jostled at a dinner party and whom one never actually made sufficient reparations to for the inconvenience is going to be the new landlady of your own part of the Abyss and looking for some demons to make Very Sorry having just had a bad day herself.
Consequently a multitude of books of etiquette are in circulation with examples of ‘appropriate’ phrases to use in various situations. I shall take the liberty of quoting a few:
“Abyssal etiquette, Demon Lords” wrote:
…Greetings, your most puissant highness…
“Abyssal etiquette, Apparent Mortal Who Is Prospective Dinner” wrote:
…Why sirrah, it is a pleasure to meet you. May one inquire, is that an enchanted cold-iron dagger of demon-slaying in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?...
“Abyssal etiquette, Guests Whom There Is No Longer Any Room To Accommodate And Who Are About To Depart Through A Trapdoor Into A (Possibly) Snake Filled Pit” wrote:
…Goodbye Mr. Bond…

(The author of the work from which I derive the latter quote is incidentally a fiend with a curious affectation for monocles and white cats who happens to be a servant of Andirifkhu.)

See you around another year, perhaps. Or maybe sooner if you feel like sticking around to post for the duration of this year’s contest... ;)

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Postmortem of the Crooked Man:

Now that I can speak, I thought I would give a postmortem of how the Crooked Man came to be.

Name and Theme: The name Crooked Man comes partially from the rhyme, and mostly from its connotations with crooks and crooked as being a synonym for criminal. The idea behind this class is not a con artist; I think the Con Artist archetype modeled that idea well, if not quite as dashingly as the reviewers wanted. Instead this archetype is modeled after a snake oil salesman: the kind of guy who rolls into town, sells you a potion designed to cure all your ills and who's gone at just about the same time that you realize you've been had. He's the fast-talker, the golden voiced sweet talker who seduces your daughter and is gone before you know what happened. In other words, he's a bard.

Powers and abilities:
Honeyed Words: I did not see that there was a rogue ability by this name. I haven't read my APG cover to cover, so oops. Otherwise, I still like this ability and would keep it as it is. It's the quintessential snake oil speech: make the rubes buy your act and keep it up long enough to get out of town.

Sickening Doubts: We already have a bard ability to make you shaken. I was attempting to hit on the idea that the crooked man can make you doubt yourself so severely that you literally become sick to your stomach. In retrospect, I might cut this entirely and create a better power, as Dirge of Doom has never really excited me.

Silvered Tongue: If I had to modify this, the only change would be to lose Diplomacy and swap out Sense Motive for it. I realize some skills are more powerful than others, but this fits the concept, makes the bard more bardic and doesn't break the game. I likes it.

Verbal Dodge: With all due respect to Steven Helt, this is not a joke. I fenced for two years in college and in the heat of battle a quick word can make all the difference. Shouting even a loud BOO at the moment of attack can throw a shock into the attacker that causes the attack to barely miss, which is what I was going for here. However, rolling the skill is important, because instead of always working, this can sometimes backfire and make the attacker that much more intent on hitting you. I think if I had to modify it, I'd limit it to Bluff, in much the same way that feinting works by essentially faking out the attacker. Perhaps Verbal Dodge is better written as a sub-use of Bluff instead? As for the once per day, twice at 6th level, etc writing style, that was lifted whole cloth from the APG. Clearly I failed at adequately describing this, which is something I will work on in the future.

All in all I think a great deal of the problem is less with my archetype than it is with people who play or don't play bards. Bards are and have always been a niche class. Some people hate them, some people love them. I love them. I will admit that while I love bards, I dislike musical bard a great deal. I've always seen them as more dashing swordsman than keytar strumming dandies. This archetype was heavily inspired by that, and also by Elan from Order of the Stick. Perhaps I should have had Banjthulhu's Blessing instead of Sickening Doubts?

Epilogue on the Contest: While I enjoyed this challenge, I think it may have been a mistake on the part of the judges to have the challengers create an archetype. With some much variance in archetypes, from the brief Drunken Brute to the very modified verbose shapeshifter, there's a lot of range to cover. And with the newness of the concept, you were bound to get a wide range, from people who did it exactly as you expected to those who did not. I think this reflects less on the challengers than on the challenge. Monsters are plenty; wondrous items abound; even stat blocks are everywhere. Archetypes may have been too new. I don't know, but that was my impression after reading the judges' commentary. Still, I look forward to seeing what you come up with next year, when I will hopefully be disqualified due to publishing credits.

Epilogue on What I Learned: The fans are fickle. One fan's dream archetype is another's meh. You roll the dice with some designs; still it doesn't mean you shouldn't give it your best shot and aim high. I also learned that I may be a better editor than designer, given limited time. I definitely need to take my time on the designing portion, and give it plenty of time and playtesting in an ideal world. Also, I had a great time, actually better this year than last. (Last year was a pain: dealing with a dissolving marriage, a cross country move and a stress disorder is no fit way to enjoy a contest. Thank you science, for inventing medicine!)

Final Thoughts: I'd like to thank the judges, the fans and commenters who offered their thoughts. They were helpful. Thanks especially to Charles Evans for his succulent succubus and to Steven Helt for making me growl at his comments, then giggle; I needed that. Congratulations to all my co-Superstars, the top 16 and the 17-32: it was a great ride and best of luck to all of you! Excelsior!


James Martin wrote:

The fans are fickle. One fan's dream archetype is another's meh.

That's the truth.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Bats Kabber

James Martin wrote:

Postmortem of the Crooked Man:

All in all I think a great deal of the problem is less with my archetype than it is with people who play or don't play bards. Bards are and have always been a niche class. Some people hate them, some people love them. I love them. I will admit that while I love bards, I dislike musical bard a great deal.

I will 2nd that. It takes a special kind of player to make a bard forever memorable. But when that player meets that class . . . the stories live on forever.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Danny, Indeed! I think the reason we had three archetypes that all hit the same spirit, if not the same exact concept, is because it's a concept that hasn't been properly covered by the rules. Rogues are great at talking, but great in a 'Hey look over there!' way, not a sustained relationship sort of way. Bards are that niche and they ought to be able to out-talk any class on the table. I thought your con artist caught that Leverage, set-up, knockdown and followthrough ideal well. I would love to use it in a caper game. THAT would be an epic game.

EDIT: Let me add, that while I liked a lot of the other archetypes offered, they didn't feel like archetypes to me, because there was little universality there. They were cool, but the fast-talking bard, the drunken monk, the animalistic barbarian are all staples of the fantasy genre. Niche classes aimed more at cool ideas than universality are not, to me, archetypes. Instead maybe they should have called them packages or options. Archetypes should be archetypical.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013

Thank you for your insight into your archtype. Better not be back next year, no threepeats :P

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka Steven T. Helt

Appreciate your spotsmanship. I understand the fencing angle for verbal dodge. I just feel that using language to modify your AC is poor design.

I think the archetype is a great round. It really separates folks who understand design and styles from those who need practice. And I have to disagree the trouble is mostly people unwilling to appreciate bards. The crooked man is not ready for publication. I was perhaps the most critical of it, and yet evidenced in the also-ran thread is that I was going to submit a bard for round two.

I hope this year's comments can be mined for constructive growth. Good luck next year.

Scarab Sages

I totally thought the name and concept were from Sherlock Holmes and the case of the crooked man. it fits pretty nicely, you'd just need to add a famliar so he could have the pet ferrett...

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