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RPG Superstar 2015

Apep's Head


Round 4 - Top 8: Create Golarion location with map

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RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka John Benbo

Apep’s Head

Description: Legends in Garund speak of Apep or the “Destroyer”, a giant from the stars that appeared almost eight thousand years ago. Made out of strange metal and standing hundreds of feet tall, the ancients believed it to be a punishment from the gods. The scourge of ancient Osirion, Apep was finally defeated in a furious battle. All that remains of the metal giant is its head, which rests deep within the Eternal Oasis in modern day Rahadoum.

Ancient Osirions avoided the spot where the giant’s head rested, fearing the place cursed. Centuries later, when the decadent Pharaoh Shaket came into power, he became fascinated with Apep’s head, believing it to be from an ancient god. To demonstrate his power to his subjects, he refurbished the head, designing with magic a beautiful hanging garden in its interior. Stories say that Shaket was able to command the head to shoot fire from its eyes, reducing his enemies to ashes. The head fell into disuse after Shaket’s death. As the years passed, Apep’s head was forgotten, swallowed by the jungle around the Eternal Oasis, and the horrors of the metal giant became but a myth.

The head, standing 35 feet high and made of a dull grayish metal, not unlike steel, rests in a large clearing in the Eternal Oasis. The head’s jutting features appear to be almost human, but the eyes, nose and lips are composed of hard angles, softened slightly by erosion. While the features are weathered, there is not a spot of rust on the head. Its smooth surface makes it impossible to climb without magic. A set of stone steps leads up to a large metal door set in Apep’s pursed lips.

The PCs, having previously encountered Voracek, discovered his plan to build a doomsday device from skymetal. Voracek needs a valuable crystal located somewhere in Apep’s head to power the device. The PCs are here to get the crystal first, if they can find it. As they approach the head, thunder rumbles nearby. Voracek and his gargoyle allies who also venerate Ayrzul, having bribed the services of a thunderbird, will be here soon. The PCs know they do not have much time.

Apep's Head (Ground Floor)

Inside, soft light, like daylight, emanates from fixtures set in the ceiling, falling on lush gardens in carefully sculpted beds amongst wild vegetation. The perfume of exotic flowers fills the air. More greenery hangs from stone terraces along the outer walls twenty feet up. Invading vines dangle in clumps from the high ceiling. Graceful statues of a regal looking man carved from marble, his features weathered by the elements, stand seven feet tall on pedestals. At the far end of the room, a metal pillar rises up, growing wider in width.

The pillar, like the walls, ceiling, and floor, is made from a completely smooth metal. It is 20 ft. wide at its base, widening to 50 ft. at its top. There are no stairs visible to reach it. The head, except the first 15 ft. of the entrance, rises to 35 ft. in height. The entrance is only 20 ft. in height as the fire cannon platform is above it.

Behind the pillar on the ground floor sits a small metal altar, three feet high, a mosaic of small flashing lights, lighted glass, buttons, and levers on its top.

Operating the altar requires a DC 25 Use Magic Device or a Knowledge (Arcana) skill check. A successful skill check immediately causes a circular disc, 10 ft. wide, to rise slightly from the ground near the base of the pillar. The disc can support 2,000 lbs. After a minute, the disc rises straight up to the top of the pillar.

Apep's Head (Top Floor)

At the top of the pillar sits a metal chair on a 2 ft. dais. Nearby is a long metal altar like the one below (hardness 15, hp 120). The crystal is housed in the interior of the altar and powers the room. A successful DC 25 Use Magic Device or Knowledge (Arcana) skill check operates a thin bridge that rises out of the ground floor, connecting the pillar top and the platform. A loud thrumming sounds from the one working fire cannon.

The platform contains two fire cannons described below. The westernmost cannon is broken but the eastern cannon is operational. If the command deck has been activated, the metal shields in front of the window, 4 ft. in diameter, open.

Fire Cannon
Space 5 ft. by 10 ft.; Weight 3,000 lbs.
Hardness 15; hp 1,080
Range 200 ft.
Description: This seven foot long metal cylinder lies horizontal on a swivel platform. Attached to a platform is a chair and trigger controls for the operator. To the PCs it looks like some kind of Golarion cannon. The operator can turn the cannon anywhere in a 360 arc and can tilt it as a move action. Once per round as a standard action, the operator , using the controls, can fire the cannon, shooting a concentrated beam of energy that deals 4d6 points of fire damage similar to a scorching ray spell. The attack is a ranged touch attack that uses the operator’s ranged attack bonus. The fire cannon ignores range penalties due to weather.

Thick vines hang 15 ft. from the ceiling, supporting 250 lbs. They can be grabbed with a DC 15 Acrobatics skill check. It is possible to swing from the vines to the flower beds on the outer wall.
Creatures: There is a 25% that the vine is an Advanced Assassin Vine that immediately attacks the PC.

Advanced Assassin Vine (1) CR 4
XP 1,200
hp 38 (Pathfinder Bestiary 22, 294)

Voracek’s Assault

Allow the PCs some time to look for the crystal or set an ambush, reminding them that the thunder is getting closer, before reading the following.

Roaring thunder shakes the ceiling. Suddenly, it explodes in a shower of debris. Hideous gargoyles pour in through the breach, bringing wind and thunder with them. One figure sticks out, illuminated by lightning, a stone skinned man with glowing blue tattoos cackles madly as he’s carried in the talons of a giant, gray bird.

Falling debris rains down on any PCs on the pillar, dealing 1d8 points of damage, a DC 15 Reflex save for half. See hazards below.

Creatures: Voracek and his allies swoop in. A thunderbird carries Voracek in its talons, dropping him by the altar and then flies far enough away to be out of combat but keep its storm aura in effect. Voracek begins to push various buttons on the altar. It will take him 6 total full action rounds operating the altar to open it and reach the crystal. If engaged in melee, Voracek tries to sunder his opponents’ weapons. He crushes his elemental gem to put another ally between him and the PCs. If reduced to half hp or less, he rages, using empowered strike to smash the altar to get at the crystal.

The gargoyles attempt to grab PCs in their talons and hurl them from the pillar to keep them away from Voracek. They target spellcasters and smaller creatures first. If thrown off the pillar, PCs can attempt to grab the vines with a DC 15 Reflex save (-4 for the thunderbird’s storm aura).

Wind, caused by the thunderbird, swirls in from a 30 ft. by 30 ft. hole in the ceiling located over the pillar. See hazards below.

The fight ends if:
Voracek retrieves the crystal, plunging the head into darkness and deactivating the fire cannon. He sounds a horn and the thunderbird swoops in and carries him away.
Voracek retreats as above if reduced to 30 or less hp. He gathers his strength and plans to strike at the PCs within a few days time to take back the crystal.

(TIER 7-8) CR10

Voracek CR 9
XP 6,400
hp 116 (RPG Superstar 2011 R3)

Giant Gargoyles (2) CR 5
XP 1,600
hp 52 (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 137, 295)

Creatures: This encounter runs similar as above. However, the thunderbird hovers near the hole in the ceiling and uses thunderbolts to keep PCs away from Voracek and targets archers, swooping in to hurl PCs off the pillar.

The fight ends under the conditions above. If the thunderbird is killed, one of the giant gargoyles will carry Voracek if he retreats.

TIER (10-11) CR 13

Voracek CR 9
XP 6,400
hp 116 (RPG Superstar 2011 R3)

Giant Gargoyles (4) CR 5
XP 1,600
hp 52 (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 137, 295)

Thunderbird CR 11
XP 12,800
hp 147 (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 2 264)

Hazards: Garden and wild vegetation areas count as difficult terrain (Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook 193).

The following hazards are in play when the encounter starts:

The debris from the ceiling causes the pillar to be considered difficult terrain (Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook 193).

The thunderbird’s presence causes the pillar to be affected by its storm aura special ability (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 2 264).

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter 2014

The image John provided was a full page image at 75 dpi. It was slightly out of aspect ratio (8.51 x 11.03 inches).

Cartographer

Great looking map reference here, everything is here needed to complete a great looking map.

Again, I do really like hand drawn map references, so this one gets extra points from me.

Drawing this map would be fun for me, especially the different types of vegetation.

Great Work!

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Welcome to the Top 8, John! This is the round where you really get to stretch and show off the talents a designer needs to create an actual adventure. As such, I'm going to do my best to assess it in that light. As always, I have this tendency to give a lot of feedback. And, I want to make sure you understand that anything I point out here or raise in the form of constructive criticism is done in the spirit of wanting to help you improve. But I'm also going to balance that by praising you where you really shine so I can hopefully highlight that for the voters and they can recognize your strengths. To keep this post to manageable levels, I've spoilered the rest of my comments, below...

Spoiler:

First up, I want to give you some props on really making a splash this year. I was the first to champion your cocoon cloak and I loved the flavor you brought with that idea and the Golarion tie-in to Desna. And you've been strong in every round since with one of the stronger archetype ideas with the saboteur ranger...and a pretty well exectued villain both in concept and stat-block (despite my initial reservations) with Meneena the derro bard. The bottom line for me is that you're bringing some serious creativity to this year's competition and it's taken you really far. And, although I've picked a few nits here or there with your designs, your body of work has been really impressive on the whole. So, going into this round I have high expectations of what you'll do and I'm interested in seeing how you meet them with the ever-tightening competition from your fellow contestants. For this round's feedback, I'm going to breakdown my commentary according to the key elements of the assignment, including: your descriptive text, your location choice and villain pairing, your map, and the creativity of your encounter.

The Descriptive Text:
With your initial description, you paint a picture of a "giant from the stars" made of metal. So, I'm sort of thrust into the sci-fi zone of Golarion...and yet, I see you've set this story on Garund rather than anywhere near Numeria...which seems a little odd to me. Also, you describe this "scourge of Osirion" (which up until now is the first I've heard of such a thing...and you'd think something that powerful would have received mention somewhere in that nation's write-up), but you fail to actually tell us how it was defeated. All we get is that it fell in "a furious battle" somewhere in what would eventually become modern-day Rahadoum. And yet, as the reader, I'm left wondering who had the power and means to stop what's apparently a giant robot from beyond Golarion. So, I'm not sure your descriptive text goes far enough in answering the most important questions that spring to mind. It's sometimes a good thing for a design to leave certain questions unanswered and open-ended. But, in this case, I think it's a mistake.

Then, we get the history of Apep's head being transformed into a hanging garden by the visiting Pharaoh Shaket...its eventual abandonment after his death...and the encroaching jungle of the Eternal Oasis overrunning it. A lot of that kind of surprises me. I mean, a giant metal head with "fricking lasers" in its eyes and a hanging garden inside it in a mostly desert-bound country seems like it wouldn't just fade into obscurity no matter how much the Eternal Oasis surrounded it. Quite the opposite, I would expect the oasis to draw more people to the site unless Shaket took steps to hide it. And, the way you've described things, it sounds like he made sure all his people knew about it so he could showcase his own power next to the god-like being Apep must have been.

You also described the head's features as being "weathered" and "softened by erosion" but without a spot of rust. If that's the case, what managed to weather and erode it? Sandstorms? Wouldn't the Eternal Oasis shelter it if it's that overgrown? I don't mean to nitpick here, honestly. These are just questions that sprang to mind as I was reading and jotting down notes. And, if I'm going to assess your descriptive text and the pictures your words paint for the reader, I want to let you know how they came across to me as I read it.

Okay. So, let's set that aside. I actually want to talk more about your last paragraph. You're the second of the Top 8 designers to select Voracek as your villain-of-choice...and the lead up text to the encounter presents a pretty hurried explanation of what the PCs have learned so far about him...his master plan to create a doomsday device from skymetal...and then we learn he wants a crystal from this robot head to power it. Yet, the PCs have somehow learned all of this and managed to arrive here first? That kind of struck me as odd. And, as a result, the location doesn't really feature Voracek as much as it could if this was more of a lair (even a secondary lair) for him that they've traced him back to...i.e., I think that approach could have made for a stronger connection rather than having Voracek chase the PCs here in a race to claim the crystal. I was also a little put off by the notion that the PCs would "know they don't have much time" just because they hear thunder rumbling in the distance. If Voracek and his gargoyle minions bribed the service of a thunderbird to transport them to Apep's head, how would the PCs know that? He's an oread who's affiliated with Ayrzul, an elemental lord from the Plane of Earth. I don't really see how an anomalous thunder in the distance would be immediately interpreted by the PCs as a precursor to Voracek's imminent arrival.

So, it's little things like this that's just kind of giving me lots of pauses as I read through the encounter setup and location description. Some of the internal consistency feels "off" to me. But, that's just my opinion. Everything you've written here is fairly strong in presentation. If I have any quibbles, it's with the stuff that you've chosen to present, not the writing behind it.

The Location:
Apep's head is a bold choice for a location. As I said earlier, setting it in Rahadoum, caught me by surprise a little bit, since skymetal is more often associated with Numeria than the deserts of Garund. But I think it's fine. A giant robot from space is clearly going to have some skymetal in its construction. Because of Voracek's goals, he would be attracted to it and go to the effort to track it down. The choice to have the "dungeon" of this encounter be the construct's immense head is obviously different than a typical site where you might encounter an end-game villain. But, it doesn't come across as super-innovative to me, because I've seen adventures use such a thing before. Even Trevor Gulliver's lair for Hecataeus and the Lonely Colossus in RPG Superstar 2009 did something similar. Of course, those examples didn't have "fricking lasers" for the construct's eyes! So, that's kind of a somewhat cool element to include. And it speaks to the danger Apep once presented when he walked Golarion.

That said, I'm not really sure how I feel about the massive giant robot from the stars angle. Paizo has hinted at elements involving starships and sci-fi stuff existing somewhere beyond Golarion. They just haven't explored any of them too deeply yet. But regardless, I think what's most important here is that you stayed true to your chosen villain. Voracek is pursuing skymetal. And, I like that you've given us another place where he could find it other than Numeria. In that respect, your idea does make internal sense. And I respect the choices you've made and what you've done here.

The Map:
Initially, your map really confused me. I don't mind that it's hand-drawn and colored. You labeled it well and everything. But I couldn't easily interpret how you got from one level to another until I dove into your encounter text and perceived that the disk is actually an elevator. Also, I interpreted all of those green areas to be the outer "walls" of Apep's head, but then you called them gardens instead. So, then I was trying to figure out where the actual "walls" of Apep's head are supposed to be. Are they the black lines? If so, Apep's head is a very thin shell of metal. I guess I was looking for more solidity to this massive robot's head and the map just didn't convey it for me.

In addition, I was thrown off by the use of letters to mark your vines, benches, statues, and doors. Traditional maps use specific symbols for those last three. And, for your vines, I wanted a sense for how much space they take up. Is it just the 5-foot square in which the V is located? Is that what you expect your cartographer to depict? Personally, I think it would have been better to draw some actual foliage as a stand-in for the vines. That way, you could have reserved the use of letters (and inserted some numbers) to mark different areas of the encounter location. As it stands, it all just comes across as one big room...i.e., a single location...that stretches across two levels of mapping. I think I would have prefered to see you use some numbers to designate different areas of the head...give us some separate chambers and rooms and then just pick one of them to describe an encounter.

Lastly, I was surprised to see you designate Voracek's starting position with an "X" when you have him arriving after the PCs. He doesn't really start out there, except for when he comes crashing through the ceiling with the aid of the thunderbird. Rather than mark that on the map, I think you would have been better served to designate the areas where the debris would rain down when he arrives and then just use your encounter's descriptive text to explain where he goes and where the GM needs to place him (and his gargoyle allies) on the map.

The Encounter:
This one got a little messy for me. There's a lot going on. And I like all the dynamic elements of the debris raining down from Voracek's arrival...the possibility of the cannons getting used (either by the PCs...or maybe the gargoyles?)...and the potentially predatory assassin vines. But, for that latter element, I think it's a mistake to say there's a 25% chance of any vine location (labeled with a "V") being an assassin vine. That makes the encounter variable in terms of its CR...which means, you don't really know how deadly this fight would be. Instead, I think you should have marked exactly which of the vine locations is an assassin vine...and incorporated them into the overall encounter's CR so you can account for the fight's ensuing deadliness and TPK potential in your design.

Also, I was a little surprised to see that the fire cannon only does 4d6 points of damage as a scorching ray...that it has a 360(-degree) firing arc (as in, why would a robot ever need to turn its own cannons inward?)...and that it just requires a standard action (and no Use Magic Device or Knowledge (engineering) skill check) to fire it. And, I expected to find some serious penalties for being unfamiliar and non-proficient with the controls for it.

Regardless, in Voracek's Assault, the action really gets underway. I'm surprised that the falling debris (which needs to be large enough to admit a thunderbird into Apep's head) only inflicts 1d8 points of damage to PCs on the pillar. Wouldn't this falling metal also damage the altar containing the crystal? And maybe even the elevator disc, depending on where it appears? I think your map should have shaded in the affected area to better guide the GM. I do like how this battle plays out with the gargoyles pushing PCs off the platform while Voracek simply works to retrieve the crystal. There's lots of cinematic action that could take place in this encounter.

Overall Assessment:
You've left more holes here than I expected. I'm mostly disappointed with the single-location encounter, as I was hoping for something a bit more expansive for Apep's head that would entail more exploration and trial-and-error old-school interaction with futuristic technology as a throwback to Expedition to the Barrier Peaks...and I would have really prefered to see Voracek already ensconced in this location as opposed to arriving after the PCs have already started to explore it. This was a really bold choice and big risks can often have the biggest pay-off. I'm just not certain this one's going to work out for you.

So, given all that, I DO NOT recommend this encounter for advancing to the next round. There's no denying you have strong creativity and big ideas, though. So maybe the voters will push you through in the interests of seeing what you'll do with an adventure proposal. I wish you all the best.

Cartographer

I like the idea of a giant alien space head that shoots fire, haha. This map would be a ton of fun to do, and the artist could really go nuts with details and mechanisms inside the head. The Map is very clearly labelled and i dont think i would have to ask many questions to get it done. Cool stuff!

Contributor

I'm looking at this from a developer's perspective.

LOCATION
This is a giant robot head with laser eyes that landed in Golarion, destroyed a bunch of stuff, fell in battle, got its head renovated by a pharaoh into a garden, and then was abandoned. There's just so much weird world continuity here that I'd probably have to send it back. One of the strengths of our world is that there's a place for many kinds of adventure, from vikings to mummies to Baba Yaga to robots from space, but they're localized so you're not forced to play the sort of campaign you don't like. When someone buys an Osirion adventure, they want the feel of ancient Egypt, with mummies, pryamids, and that sort of thing. This is more like an evil version of The Iron Giant, which is a great movie but doesn't work in a fantasy-Egyptian setting. Even Stargate, which mixes Egypt and technology, leans heavily on the Egypt theme (the original movie's spaceship looked like a pyramid, the guards had the animalhead look of Egyptian deities, and so on). So the presence of a robot in an Osirion setting is out of place and would be jarring to someone running an Osirion campaign. Finding skymetal in places other than Numeria is fine, but robots (whether human-sized or giant-sized) are really things that should stay in Numeria. (I know this is in Rahadoum, but the comment still stands--Rahadoum is not the land of weird space technology.)

You call it Apep, but Apep is the name of a serpent/crocodile/dragon deity/creature from Egyptian mythology. This robot is humanlike. That goes against the thematic images associated with the name, like naming a monster "Hydra" but having it be a giant bird with a monkey head.

ENCOUNTER
I think it's interesting that the PCs get here first and have time to set up an ambush for the villain.
I regret that this entire Location is just one large room.

The fire cannon has a 200 foot range, but the robot is "hundreds of feet tall." So it couldn't shoot things on the ground, or it wasn't hundreds of feet tall, or its range is much shorter than it used to be.

The cannon fires in a 360 degree arc, which means it can turn to fire at something inside the robot's head, which doesn't make sense.

Even weirder, the fact that these controls exist to control the robot implies that something was controlling it when it was attacking Osirion. Why? What happened to them? Or, if it's an autonomous robot, why have these controls at all?

It it weird to me that this nearly indestructible robot had its head smashed open by a single thunderbird.

If the PCs are in the room, Voracek isn't going to get 6 rounds to push buttons, they're going to fight and kill him. His two gargoyle buddies aren't going to be powerful enough to hold off the PCs long enough to make it happen.

"It will take him 6 total full action rounds operating the altar to open it and reach the crystal." This is a very awkward sentence and it's going to confuse GMs.

MAP
The map is clear enough, though you should probably account for the thickness of the metal walls of the thing's head. And your handwriting is probably like mine in that its legibility goes way down if you start writing quickly, so if that is the case you should consider adding your text tags with software or printing them out and taping them to your map before you scan it.

CEO, Goblinworks

Not recommended for advancement.

Neil and Sean said what I would say better than I would say it.

Paizo Employee Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Congrats on making it into the top 8, John! At this point, I'm judging all the submissions from the viewpoint of the person who will be assigning and developing Pathfinder Society Scenarios to the three runners-up in the next round. Thus my recommendations are based almost entirely on how well I feel you'd do—based on this submission—writing an adventure as a reward for reaching the next round.

Your map is excellent, John, and quite easy to decipher. It resembles a giant head, so that shows that you really thought about what the location was supposed to represent.

Now, on to the words! Hmm, Apep's head. Evocative title to be sure. But where are you getting this stuff about Apep being a giant metal man? Apep is an Osirian serpent god, as outlined on pages 24 and 25 of the Osirion, Land of Pharaohs, or recapped on PathfinderWiki here. So you've contradicted established canon here, and then created a bunch of new stuff that doesn't really fit with the flavor of the region you've placed it in. Rahadoum seems a strange choice for a giant metal head, instead of Numeria, which would actually be a great fit. This is a major red flag for me, as everyone progressing to the next round will have the ability to create new canon and the lack of attention to detail here makes me nervous about that.

In the actual encounter, you've taken the tactic of simply adding more minions to bump up the CR which is fine, but then you add an additional creature two CR levels higher than the main villain. That's easily going to overshadow Voracek here, and make him seem like the minion in the BBEG fight, which I assume isn't the feel you're going for.

I'm also a little hesitant about the 25% chance it's an assassin vine thing. I'd much prefer it either were or weren't, but in either case a CR 4 encounter isn't really even worth it for a party of level 7+.

The tactics you have here are also strange, in that the BBEG is spending all his time trying to get a crystal out of the altar. While I get the ticking time bomb theory behind this, it seems sort of anticlimactic, especially if once he gets it he just flies away on his thunderbird plane.

In the final analysis, I was at first excited to see a reference to an obscure Osirian god and one of my favorite villains from last round together in the same location, but the lack of canon-checking and generally poor encounter design leave me very disappointed. Sorry John, but even with your great map, I DO NOT RECOMMEND this location for advancement. Best of luck in the vote.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka John Benbo

Ouch, I might not be able to sit down for a while :). But thank you judges for taking the time to offer your critiques and insights. I guess I have to hope that the public likes giant robot heads. And if I have fanbase, please vote for me! Thank you!


i look first for john bennett because i'm a fan of him for his "Saboteur" class. and i'm sure a lot people will vote for him. He must have a fanbase : )

but that apep's head with fire looks like sci-fi. it's not bad, it's cool! but as a gm and player i don't like it. golarion is enough fantastic for me, i don't want to see some robo head, eyes flashing fire to my players and burning their backs. or mine.

but he's really good all levels, and i wonder what he'll do next round. i'm sure he'll make better.


This encounter strikes me as incredibly interesting, I'd really like the chance to play through it. If I saw this on a shelf I'd buy it without thinking twice! Good luck!

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

The first issue I had was with the map. A single encounter might have a smalland siple map, but something climactic should ahve more terrain, rooms, tactical options, etc. When you put it in one room, I know it will be a very straightforward and easy encounter.

That the PCs get there first in the default encounter means it will be even shorter. If they are expecting him, they'll all ahve readied actions, buff spells, etc. It'll be a cakewalk. Ergo, the head itself need more rooms and hazards to kep the PCs busy.

When I design 'football' encounters, where both parties (PC and NPC) are after soemthing specific, I try to complicate the football a little. Maybe the head has interior defenses that go off against both parties. Maybe the football has low hit points and a bad Reflex save. Something to complicate the tactical environment and the the PCs a thinking challenge.

I'm bummed that the foreign space metal is really just steel. It needs properties, it needs something alien about its appearance. It needs to conduct or dissipate heat or electricity so that if a fireball spell is cast, everyone takes fire damage, or if a lightning bolt is cast, no one takes any damage.

Gargoyles are not a significant challenge for keeping the party to kill your big bad guy. You should substitute with a large number of creatures with fair hitpoints but mediocre damage output. The party is swarmed and struggles to get to the altar, but it's not intended as a TPK.

This is the first entry thisround I critiqued. Good luck in the voting booth.


I like the visual of a hanging garden inside a very industrial robot head. I get the impression it's like some wild, overgrown rainforest growing inside the head. So yes, it's one room, but it's almost like being outside. And I can see why Voracek would be interested in the head. Even if he can't get the crystal, if the head is made of skymetal, he'd want the head itself too.

I liked the word choice in the description. John wrote "Behind the pillar on the ground floor sits a small metal altar, three feet high, a mosaic of small flashing lights, lighted glass, buttons, and levers on its top." "Altar" for control panel. A "mosaic" of lights for buttons. It seems like it was kind of written with the verbiage that the PC's would use.

And while I understand all spacey stuff is supposed to happen in Numeria, I'm OK with it in Osirion. I don't know if a crazy, invading robot would really respect country borders. I'm pretty sure it's going to land wherever it damn well pleases and go to town from there.

As for the lasers, I agree that it's a bit odd that they would turn 360 degrees, but I think an extra sentence or two could explain that. Maybe the stop mechanism that prevents their total rotation has wasted away over the years. Maybe a strength check could break the anti-rotation feature and allow full movement.

Lastly, there is the issue of the metal eroding, even though it didn't rust, which is a little weird. But overall, I think it sounds like a fun encounter. You have my vote. Good luck.


Big fan of John Bennett's work! Last rounds villain the "Lullaby Lady" was the best in the round by far. This round is no exception! Refreshing creativity. Love Apep's head encounter, wish I could give it a play through. Can't wait to see what John comes up with in the next round!! Best of Luck!

Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

I didn't like Voracek last round and putting him inside a giant space robot head didn't improve my opinion of him this round.

I can, however, see this location working in a rifts or alternity game. (yes i play too many lame out of print games, i know).

good luck.


It's an interesting location. I think there's a good concept here that needs to be reworked a bit.

The eye cannons don't seem very powerful or have enough range to fit the description of the powerful, metal giant in the description. I don't think this would have been so odd if maybe you had said something about the weakening of the magic over time (or some other explanation).

I didn't quite understand the purpose of discussing a pharoah that came in and made a garden.

I don't like that there is a 25% chance that there is an advanced assassin vine. I understand using percentage chances for creatures in an adventure that move around locations, but this doesn't seem necessary here.

I didn't like the thunder keying the PCs into knowing that Voracek was coming unless they had previously known of him using thunderbirds.

Sczarni

All that I would have said has been said by others. And besides, don't go stickin' your sci-fi into my fantasy. And yes, I kept my peas well away from my potatoes when I was a kid :P


I think that your concept is wonderful and your work speaks volumes for the creativity that lies inside you. Ignore adversity and charge forward--your gifts lie far beyond what normal humans can see. I love your work and look forward to seeing your name on hardcovers across the globe!

Star Voter 2015

I'm going to start off by saying that I love, LOVE, the concept of this. The mixing of genres (but not too much so as to retain the original feel) in my opinion, adds new and bold elements into a campaign. It's a great way to subtly breath a little variety into what can easily turn into a stale trope. Adding a bit of sci-fi into a fantasy setting lends itself more to the "holy crap what's is going on here" than if it was a simple fantasy environment. Though the characters are just as likely to claim magic as a default.

Here, John adds a slight tinge of sci-fi while retaining the nomenclature more in line with fantasy, "altar" for control panel, "fire cannon" for laser, ect. The characters don't know any better, or shouldn't. It would just be poor roleplaying otherwise.

I agree with the judges that some of the elements of the back story could use some shoring up. If the head was so well known, someone would have gotten that gem already - or stripped the entire area clean.

I see it more of a lost pyramid similar to mayan structures overtaken by the jungle. Part of the adventure for the party would be to simply find it. In this case, the idea of the party getting there before the villain makes more sense, especially if he's ghosting them. There could be a struggle to get inside first with Voracek knowing how to use the cannons already.

I don't want to overdo it here so I'll say the core theme is sound. With a little story tweaking and shoring up of some of the vaguer aspects, this would be one kick ass adventure. A lot of I feel would be addressed in a second round of editing after comments by the senior editorial staff. I applaud everyone who participated in the RPG Superstar, especially those that made it to the later rounds. Balancing the demands of something like RPG Superstar with the rigors of everyday life is often difficult.

Business wise, it could prove to tempt those who lean more toward sci-fi to get into the game, showing them that it's not necessarily so rigidly fantasy.

I like it. It's bold, ballsy, and inventive, and as much as I like and appreciate fantasy, the infusion of a bit of genre bending is exciting (hell, we have gunslingers now!).

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

Oh, yeah. The assassin vine. Maybe adding the 25% chance is a sort fo first edition feel, but Golarion does not have a very first edition fel to it. And since the development of a CR system, it's best to have all the challenges either there or not there. Maybe a better approach would have been to ahve the vine present in the upper tier.


Golarion be damned, I do like this. There has to be some influences from Eberron's Xen'drik, Erich von Daniken, and/or Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull behind this. You're probably even a fan of Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, too. All good stuff for inspiration to inject just the right amount of sci-fi and still safely get away with it being a fantasy setting we're all familiar with.

The only thing that's a downer is the fire cannon. Given the potential size of 'Apep' and that the cannon can affect a 360' arc, I'd expect more damage and range to be pumped out of that contraption. But that's something I can adjust to my own needs.

I'd definitely like to see an adventure proposal from you. Got this vote. =)

Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My criteria for choosing which entry to vote for is:

a) Do I like the writing?
b) Would I use this in my campaign?

Your writing is OK, but your idea is great. I would definitely think about using it in my campaign.

So, while the judges have some good points, you got my vote.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka JoelF847

(arrgh - giant post eaten, this is the recreated version)

John, first I want to say thanks so much for selecting Voracek and featuring him in this cool location. I'm glad that he resonated with you.

I have to admit, the first thing that struck me was the use of the name Apep. I'm not that familiar with all the details of Egyptian/Orsirian mythology, but the name sounded familiar, and a quick check on wikipedia confirmed that Apep's not a giant humanoid robot. Either a different name, or more serptent shape/theme would be in order. That being said, I have no problem with adding something that's not mentioned in canon. My perspective is that as long as you don't contradict something that's official, adding something new that wasn't mentioned is just fine, if not actually encouraged. Lots of published products don't base their location or plot directly on something in the campaign setting. So, the addition of a giant destroying statue in ancient Osirion works just fine for me. What pushes it over the top, as mentioned is having it be a metal robot from space. Fortunately, it wouldn't be too hard to either re-skin the location to be set in Numeria, or to change the nature of Apep's Head to be from a magically created golem made of skymetal, rather than falling out of the sky from space. Having someone challenge the god like powers of an ancient Pharaoh with a god like powerful golem would fit just fine (as an aside, I'm not sure why both Voracek entries feature oversized golem type creatures in the backstory, but it's an odd coincidence.)

I think one area that you stubmled with was by being vague about what Voracek's doomsday device was. Yes, I was vauge about it in my R3 entry, in part due to word count issues, and in part due to wanting to leave if open enough to fit into a GM's or author's vision of how to use Voracek as a villain, and it cost me in R3. I figured that anyone using Voracek in R4 would fill in the blanks I left to add to him and tie him into their location.

That being said, I really like what you did with the encounter in general - having an elevated, difficult terrain covered platform for PCs to get knocked off from, the fire cannons, the swinging from vines (and the possibility of a vine attacking you!) are all great dynamic elements for a combat encounter. Unfortunately, I think it would have worked better if the PCs weren't first on the scene. The countdown would work a lot better if they got to the head just when Voracek gets to the control panel/altar, and had to fight their way up there to stop him, while his gargoyles (great call for minions there - I hadn't considered them, but they work well and aren't as obvious as earth elementals or xorn) held them off. Also, as much as I'm a big fan of the thunderbird, as more of an air creature, it's an odd choice for Voracek's earth themed god and alliances. I certainly understand the desire to feature one in your submission though - they're easily my favorite B2 monster.

I also agree with many of the other judge's comments, but don't need to belabor those points. Overall, I think you have a good core concept here, but that another pass of editing and changing things to fit together better would make this a lot stronger. I do think you have some great ideas though, and would like to see you have the chance to present a polished entry for the final round (plus the Voracek pick gets you bonus points from me.) Based on what I've read so far, I'm probably going to vote for you, but still have 3 left to read (but still have 2 undecided votes, so I think your odds are good of getting my vote at least.)

Scarab Sages

I like it.. Perhaps the head did not come from space but was created long ago by a previous Pharaoh? Whatever, I really matters little to me; there is a head in the desert that shoots flame out of it's eyes and contains a crystal of power. I really like the thunderbird/villan entry very impressive. The combat sequence is quick, too quick six rounds? This dude is in and out and then the PC's will be left wondering what to do next. If Voracek gets away then what happens next.. Lots of loose ends. I also wouldn't allow the cannon 360 targeting. An intelligent PC will sit on it and hit Voracek every round till he flees. Regardless I'm a sucker for the desert and giant heads so... one vote fer you

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

Joel Flank wrote:
I have to admit, the first thing that struck me was the use of the name Apep. I'm not that familiar with all the details of Egyptian/Orsirian mythology, but the name sounded familiar, and a quick check on wikipedia confirmed that Apep's not a giant humanoid robot.

I think Apep is the name of a huge end of the world type serpent, the Egyptian Midgard serpent or something. hen I saw the name, I thought of headless gods and snakes and a couple of Superstar entries involving headless gods and thought this entry lacked originality.

So, a great lesson for a budding writer might be to Google names before submitting. You'll find a frustrating number of things that are already taken (comic book character named Orwell and the Whitestorm Peaks betrayed me last week by belionging to something else I hadn't seen before).

Sczarni

Joel Flank wrote:
My perspective is that as long as you don't contradict something that's official, adding something new that wasn't mentioned is just fine, if not actually encouraged.
Mark Moreland wrote:
Apep is an Osirian serpent god, as outlined on pages 24 and 25 of the Osirion, Land of Pharaohs, or recapped on PathfinderWiki here. So you've contradicted established canon here...

Canon was indeed contradicted here. Just sayin'.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka JoelF847

Alex Green wrote:
Joel Flank wrote:
My perspective is that as long as you don't contradict something that's official, adding something new that wasn't mentioned is just fine, if not actually encouraged.
Mark Moreland wrote:
Apep is an Osirian serpent god, as outlined on pages 24 and 25 of the Osirion, Land of Pharaohs, or recapped on PathfinderWiki here. So you've contradicted established canon here...
Canon was indeed contradicted here. Just sayin'.

Yes, I agree in terms of the name, and I already mentioned that problem, but a name change isn't that big of a deal. I was refering to the giant destroying robot/golem not being mentioned before not being a break with canon just because it's adding something new.


Nowhere did it say that this 'robot' was bi-pedal or even possessed arms or legs. It may very well be a 'serpent' robot at one time, but since only the head remains, no-one really knows.

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

Well, it's bold. Exceedingly bold. A hanging garden inside a giant robot head? Very exciting. But I found myself increasingly confused as I read on. Why is there a 25% chance that every vine is an advanced assassin vine, something that won't be much of a speedbump to characters at that level, but could result in very different matches depending on the roll? Why does the earth guy have a thunderbird as his minion, especially when it's a higher CR than he is, and intelligent? At first, I thought the head was open to the sky, but apparently the thunderbird can crash through it with little effort--not terribly impressive for a millennium-old space robot. Why are the laser cannons so weak for a empire-destroying monster, and why can they turn inside the thing's own head? And why is it named Apep? Apep was a real deity; even if you didn't know he was in Golarion, shouldn't you be more evocative of the whole serpent theme?

The giant gargoyles are interesting thematic minions, and I like the initial idea of the giant robot head. But there's too many poor decisions and confusing wording in this entry, I fear. I do not think I'll be voting for this entry.


John Bennett wrote:

Apep’s Head

Description: Legends in Garund speak of Apep or the “Destroyer”, a giant from the stars that appeared almost eight thousand years ago. Made out of strange metal and standing hundreds of feet tall, the ancients believed it to be a punishment from the gods. The scourge of ancient Osirion, Apep was finally defeated in a furious battle. All that remains of the metal giant is its head, which rests deep within the Eternal Oasis in modern day Rahadoum.

Ancient Osirions avoided the spot where the giant’s head rested, fearing the place cursed. Centuries later, when the decadent Pharaoh Shaket came into power, he became fascinated with Apep’s head, believing it to be from an ancient god. To demonstrate his power to his subjects, he refurbished the head, designing with magic a beautiful hanging garden in its interior. Stories say that Shaket was able to command the head to shoot fire from its eyes, reducing his enemies to ashes. The head fell into disuse after Shaket’s death. As the years passed, Apep’s head was forgotten, swallowed by the jungle around the Eternal Oasis, and the horrors of the metal giant became but a myth.

The head, standing 35 feet high and made of a dull grayish metal, not unlike steel, rests in a large clearing in the Eternal Oasis. The head’s jutting features appear to be almost human, but the eyes, nose and lips are composed of hard angles, softened slightly by erosion. While the features are weathered, there is not a spot of rust on the head. Its smooth surface makes it impossible to climb without magic. A set of stone steps leads up to a large metal door set in Apep’s pursed lips.

The PCs, having previously encountered Voracek, discovered his plan to build a doomsday device from skymetal. Voracek needs a valuable crystal located somewhere in Apep’s head to power the device. The PCs are here to get the crystal first, if they can find it. As they approach the head, thunder rumbles nearby. Voracek and his gargoyle allies who also venerate Ayrzul, having bribed the services of a thunderbird, will be here soon. The PCs know they do not have much time...

Disclaimer:

In case you’ve only just woken up to the contest or otherwise (somehow) missed these Round-by-Round reviews before, Ask A RPGSupersuccubus is posting from the point of view of a (very advanced) CE aligned succubus:
Spoiler:
Fairness means Prizes For All Succubi, balance is the process of fine-tuning your harp of the Abyss so that the acoustic resonances are particularly obnoxious to any clerics of Asmodeus who happen to be captive audiences in the vicinity, and logic is a bit like cornflour paste – cast-iron hard work when anyone else touches it, but conveniently gooey and runny to a succubus’ subtle touch. Oh: And Ask A RPGSupersuccubus (still) firmly maintains that it’s a succubus’ privilege to change her mind with neither any warning nor any obligation to bother to explain herself…
;)

How convenient does the estate/property seem to be for the regular delivery of groceries?
Whilst not recently familiar with the environs of the Eternal Oasis, I doubt that there is currently likely to be anything resembling an adequate grocer within several hundred miles. Ergo: no chance of regular deliveries (or at least not unless you want to go to the cost and inconvenience of placing orders with a grocer with teleportation capacity).

What preparations should a succubus planning to make a social call consider?
Gauntlets of the Herbmistress and a set of silvered shears in case the vegetation gets nasty might be a good idea. Also a low-backed dress in case a succubus has to spread her wings and fly a bit.
There's actually not much reason to make a social call here though. It's uninhabited (other than by the occasional semi-sentient plant) and there's not likely to be much action going on in the vicinity unless a couple of rival groups happen to be clashing here at what for them is a touchstone point in some sort of Quest.

Assuming a succubus comes into possession of the estate or property in question, how much landscaping/redecoration work needs to be done?
This location isn't designed to be habitable. It's an ancient ruler's private pleasure garden which has literally gone to seed. There's probably not much, without using conscripted labour and/or spending a great deal of cash that a succubus can do with it unless she's interested in using it for the original intended purpose.

Other comments?
According to this round’s presentations, apparently there are either two different Voraceks active or the one Voracek who has multiple schemes (which possibly mesh with each other). At any rate, nothing about the Voracek mentioned here inclines me to a different reaction from that I gave to the Voracek of the previous round - to whit, that a succubus ought to set someone on his trail, sit back, and watch whatever fun ensues.
Ah yes, Pharoah Shaket, (or 'shake it' as he was known in some circles). Now by mortal standards, there was a man who knew how to throw a banquet. No good at small intimate dinner-parties, but if you wanted an event with several hundred guests, randomly poisoned soup dishes, dancing girls, illusionist entertainers, a couple of beheadings and sherbet and lemon for dessert... He had some quite good musicians on the court payroll, too. And how surprised he was when he discovered that the afterlife wasn't quite all that the terrified court priests had been telling him for years it would be.

Property Value:
Possible private pleasure garden (although getting supplies in may well prove tricky) but otherwise negligible.

Further Disclaimer:
Ask A RPGSupersuccubus (still with half an eye on Lord Orcus) would (again) 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.

Dark Archive

Some of the comments in this thread tweak my sock-puppet sense. I notice Tumorigenic Potential, Samurai Bandit, puresugah and valost all have effusive praise for this submission and have posted only once on the Paizo boards - in this thread. (puresugah alone has posted twice..praising this submission and this author's submission in the previous round.)

Now I've honestly no idea who is indulging themselves here, but I'd suggest people ignore those comments if they want a better feel for what the general consensus is on this submission.

I might be wrong, of course, in which case, my profuse apologies to the separate and distinct individuals behind these 4 accounts, all of whom obviously love this submission.

I myself find the flaws of this submission to outweigh its somewhat gonzo charm, and an afraid I will not be voting for it. Best of luck, however!

Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

I must say that I am not a fan of SF invading my fantasy. Giant Robots with Lazer Cannons strike me as cheese, but that may be just me.

However I have some issues with your encounter.

After all that mentioning how dreadful and indestructible the robot was a Thunderbird bursts in through the ceiling as if it was made of glass.

Cool entry, though - alas it doesn't have much impact (1d8 damage...).

There comes the next problem, the head is actually not that big, so a gargantuan Thunderbird will simply not have the room to really fly in there. While this lends your CR 10 version some credibility it hampers your CR 13 version of the encounter as the bird and likely not the gargoyles is what will give the PCs problems and allow your villain to attempt its heist.

The vines are a cool idea (alas the only cool idea in my opinion) but really do not pack enough punch to influence this encounter as the PCs will most likely have flying or ranged attack available.

I can not help myself comparing your setting to one clocktower in Magnimar (good ole times) and your comes short in almost every imaginable way...

Star Voter 2013

Reading through some of the comments, another idea struck me - if this giant was so large and made of stuff that can last eight thousand years with barely a mark - where's the rest of the giant robot? I mean, the Osirions built a city around a collossal beetle shell, you're telling me that a hundreds of feet tall skymetal creature collapsed only to have everything *but* it's head taken away? Asides from that being a lot of metal in the first place, the head would likely have been the first thing taken, not the only thing left.

Just saying.

As to the rest of the encounter, it just seems really unbalanced to me. Inspired, perhaps, but not really that good. Firstly, you give the PCs both time to prepare and a magical, ranged weapon with which to attack him as he approaches. So, they can hit him once or twice with that alone if they know he;s coming. And they do because you tell the GM to tell the PCs 'he's coming soon'.

Then basically, your BBEG is going to be busy the entire battle. He wants the crystal, so he'll be trying to get it, theoretically. Given it'll take him six full rounds to get it, there's a good chance most of his allies will be totally gone by then, including the bird, and then it'll just be basically, a second daily encounter against just him. And that's if the PCs don't, say, throw him off the platform. How can he get back up if that happens, as there are no stairs? What if the PCs smashed the controls? There's a lot of huge holes in this entry, and while the idea is interesting it needs a lot more work to be usable or challenging at all.


An excellent idea and nice map. I've been playing D&D for 21 years but I've never played an encounter like this one. I'm not convinced this is unbalanced, besides John is doing well by the rules of the competition. I also like the use of the RPG Superstar villain. Definitely voting for this one!

Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

What I'd be keen on, it seeing an artists rendition of the head of the giant. Not a properly cartographic map; but an actual image - the kind of thing you'd have on the front of the published work. The scenery that it evokes could be quite startling. That, and I have to admit that I can be the type that judges a book by its cover.


I think you did a good job connecting the Villain`s flavor with a Golarin-appropriate background.
I`m not overly concerned about over-doing `Sci-Fi` per se, the background of the monster doesn`t overly intrude into a `pure Fantasy` game any more than giant Skymetal Constructs with Scorching Ray eyes do (which I don`t think is much). The OPPORTUNITY is there to link this into more Sci-Fi flavor, but isn`t mandatory. I DO have to second the major let-down on learning the eye cannon does 4d6 as per scorching ray... That just doesn`t sound worth the time of an uber-powerful Pharaoh who can defeat Robot Sky Gods, much less capable of `reducing his enemies to ashes`. Especially since the encounter seems meant to be started INSIDE, I don`t think functioning cannons really needed to be included (I`m passing on the 360* range of fire meaning allowing shooting back inside the head... the image just doesn`t work for me).
Over-all, it`s kind of border line for me... You may get my vote this round, but you will have to bring it to the next level to actually win Superstar IMHO. Good job so far on all your entries, and good luck!

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015 aka motteditor

Oddly, as I was driving to work Tuesday, knowing I'd be looking at these locations, I was thinking a hanging garden could be a really cool feature. And, lo and behold, here it is.

That said, I'm a little disappointed about how you used the garden. I think just having the occasional random assassin vine is downplaying what you could do here. I know you had a tough word count that may have limited this, but I'd much rather have seen a few different types of plant monsters in here, turning this into a three-way fight (something I really like doing as a DM). Perhaps have Voracek be able to take some control over them, as plants are after all rooted in earth (though I suppose most carniverous ones aren't actually rooted)

I have to admit I actually have a little trouble reading the map itself. It's not at-a-glance obvious how characters are supposed to go from one area to another. I would have said most of the second level is supposed to be open to the first level, though I don't think that's correct based on the heights you've listed. If someone else hadn't mentioned the disc, I think I'd still be reading the whole thing wrong. (You also misspelled dais on the map itself, though that's a minor nitpick.)

Finally, I tend not to be as much a fan of the more gonzo type locations, though that's more a matter of my personal taste. I'm trying to decide how much I should factor that into my vote (as opposed to the Old Cassomir Dollhouse, which has a villain I liked a lot and the type of "dungeon" I prefer, but at the same time mostly does what's expected with that dungeon). I'm not as worried about the robot aspect -- I'd probably reskin this to be a stone head -- but I still think my group tends to roll our collective eyes at these types of adventure spots. Similarly, I didn't really care for Voracek, but again, I'm trying not to let that color my overall perception.

I feel like I've been more negative than positive, but I do like a lot of the germ of the idea. I liked Meneena and I'm strongly tempted to vote for a fellow New Hampshire Seacoaster. I'll probably think it over and read other comments for a few days, but I'm leaning toward giving this one of my last two nods.

Dark Archive RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015 aka Boxhead

Does the villain match the location/encounter/minions

Voracek in a giant robot head? Maybe I'm crazy, but I'm just not seeing it. I mean, he chases skymetal, but who says that the robot is made of skymetal? The legends seem vague enough it could be anything, and Numeria is rich enough in skymetal that any Voracek plot not set there ought to be great. I don't think this is. The gargoyles are a nice touch, but I'm not convinced the Thunderbird fits as well.

Is the location cool?

Laser-eyed robot head? Yes, this is very cool. I'm just not convinced it fits the villain.

Is the encounter fun/interesting?

Fighting inside a robot head with giant laser eyes? I like it. It seems like it won't come into play as written, though. The assassin vines seem superfluous, but might be cool. They ought to be in specific places, though. This seems like it's going to get crowded very fast, though.

Anything else?

The map worked for me, though I too wonder why the eye-lasers turn inward. I also think it would have been awesome if the head was a snake head. I also think the hanging garden was unnecessary, but whatever. I also kind of wish there was a specific skymetal involved- it's likely Abysium from the description, but it would be nice to have it called out. That said, I'll likely vote for this.


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

Hm. Cool, but too gonzo and not slotted into Golarion well enough for me. Would be good for a different setting.

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

Although I love scifi in my fantasy, I can't get behind it in a contest. So ultimately, that was a deal-breaker on this entry for me. The little bits of illogic didn't help.

I do like that you scripted a competitive encounter. I think that element still needs work (I dislike "the bad guy shows up at the worst possible time), but narrative scripting's legit design.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013

This seems very much like a first draft to me, there's a lot of polishing that can be done here. "Widens in width"? That's really awkward. I seem like there's many good ideas here, they just seem to get lost in an apparent lack of detail.

The fire cannon seems like it can be pointed anywhere (something no mounted weapon should be able to do). Moving and firing the weapon have no action types listed,m nor is there any mention of check or proficiency. Finally, there's no range listed. I think you're intention here is to have the weapon shoot scorching rays but you need to explicitly say this and include a CL or something. If the weapon was clearly more of an arcane fixture it would come off as much less sci-fi. Same with the elevating disc, if it were floating disc and the control panel required a UMD check if would seem more magic, and thereby less spacey. Also, if the disc takes a minute to get to the top of the platform, if really can't be used within the span of the combat and might as well take an hour. It seems like if the PCs get knocked off the platform then their pretty much boned.

I also have some formating issues, like when you detail the tactics for the thunderbird in the tier before it is introduced. A lot of this comes of as confusing, like someone else needed to read though it for you before you submitted. All the proofing in the world doesn't help the clarity of something if the proofer already knows what it's trying to say.

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

Nick Bolhuis wrote:


The fire cannon seems like it can be pointed anywhere (something no mounted weapon should be able to do). Moving and firing the weapon have no action types listed,m nor is there any mention of check or proficiency. Finally, there's no range listed. I think you're intention here is to have the weapon shoot scorching rays but you need to explicitly say this and include a CL or something. If the weapon was clearly more of an arcane fixture it would come off as much less sci-fi. Same with the elevating disc, if it were floating disc and the control panel required a UMD check if would seem more magic, and thereby less spacey. Also, if the disc takes a minute to get to the top of the platform, if really can't be used within the span of the combat and might as well take an hour. It seems like if the PCs get knocked off the platform then their pretty much boned.

The cannon's range (200 ft) and actions to use (move to rotate, standard to fire) are all listed in the entry.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Sean K Reynolds wrote:


The fire cannon has a 200 foot range, but the robot is "hundreds of feet tall." So it couldn't shoot things on the ground, or it wasn't hundreds of feet...

Just a word - if this is being treated as any other missile weapon and not a magical effect, remember that "range" in Pathfinder is not MAXIMUM range - it's a range increment, so it could fire up to 1000 feet away at progressive minuses. Now, admittedly the writeup isn't all that clear on how it's supposed to work - is it more like "a cannon" or more like "a scorching ray"...


Do like:
* I thought the setting location being inside a giant head interesting and different enough to make me want to read more.

* I rather like the fire cannons in the eyes of the thing. I definately see players joking about that. Laughter around the gaming table is never a bad thing. An even funnier idea (for me) is to have the working canon used against the party as they approach. ((evil GM laughter))

* The map was very clear to me.

Do not like
* The backstory did not seem to have much to do with existing lore of Northern Garund. I don't see any connection to an ancient egypt-like setting and would be expecting to see that based on the mention of once being occupied by one of the Pharohs of Osirion.

* The encounter as written does not appeal to me because it presupposes the player characters arrive before the villain. This allows them time to set up for the villain, and for some groups, makes the encounter far too easy.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015 aka motteditor

Dark Sasha wrote:
* The encounter as written does not appeal to me because it presupposes the player characters arrive before the villain. This allows them time to set up for the villain, and for some groups, makes the encounter far too easy.

Maybe this is just me, but one of my favorite things as both a player and GM is having the PCs have time to prepare for an oncoming foe, setting traps and making various plans to slow down and then kill the enemy. I'm often trying to set that up in a way that my PCs won't just be looking for ways to get out of dodge but rather trying to avoid having to make a last stand.

Contributor

Ernest Mueller wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:


The fire cannon has a 200 foot range, but the robot is "hundreds of feet tall." So it couldn't shoot things on the ground, or it wasn't hundreds of feet...
Just a word - if this is being treated as any other missile weapon and not a magical effect, remember that "range" in Pathfinder is not MAXIMUM range - it's a range increment, so it could fire up to 1000 feet away at progressive minuses. Now, admittedly the writeup isn't all that clear on how it's supposed to work - is it more like "a cannon" or more like "a scorching ray"...

If it's a range increment, it should say "range increment." It doesn't, so I have to assume that it's either like a spell, or like a weapon with a fixed range (like a net).

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka surfbored

John:

To me your entry is filled with contradiction...

  • The head features are weathered but smooth without a spot of rust. So what does "weathered" mean then? I can't get a mental picture.

  • The head is completely enclosed, but hanging gardens seem to grow without water or sunlight. The described light is "like daylight", but surely isn't plant friendly, is it? And is the light perpetually on?

  • Voracek is earth-based but flies in on a giant thunderbird? In addition, the thunderbird keeps his storm aura active, which also targets Voracek and his allies (including a random 12d6 lightning bolt!).

  • The head survives battles and 8,000 years but is broken open by one attack from a thunderbird.

  • A pharaoh uses the head to scorch his enemies, but his enemies could just attack from behind, right?

  • The robot is hundreds of feet tall with a human-like head, but is also based on Apep, which is serpentine.

  • A short-range, underpowered laser placed at the top of a super powerful, very tall robot doesn't really make sense. And, it can shoot inside the head -- just a little too convenient.

    I like the evocative setting, what I could picture of it, and the map is readable. Multi-level combats can be tricky to run, but very fun, however there are just a few too many holes in this encounter for my taste.

    Perhaps worst of all though, is that my players want to fight the boss and the boss doesn't want to fight them. Instead they will face 2 (or 4) gargoyles and an earth elemental.

  • Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka JoelF847

    Jerry Keyes wrote:

    John:

  • The head features are weathered but smooth without a spot of rust. So what does "weathered" mean then? I can't get a mental picture.
  • I had assumed this to mean errosion from wind and sand over the 8,000 years it sat there.


    Joel Flank wrote:
    Jerry Keyes wrote:

    John:

  • The head features are weathered but smooth without a spot of rust. So what does "weathered" mean then? I can't get a mental picture.
  • I had assumed this to mean errosion from wind and sand over the 8,000 years it sat there.

    I agree with Joel here. Weathered in this case means that the hard edges have been worn smooth by the action of wind and sand. If the metal is not of an iron based element, then it isn't rusted as rust is simply oxidized iron.

    Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

    Hi John,

    I do like giant robot heads, it may not be from space in my campaign, but they have a place. My concerns match what has already been said before. Reading it allowed after a day of ignoring it or asking for another set of eyes to read are the only things I recommend for fixing those problems. I think you would have caught them on a second draft which the contest timing does not really allow for, but it is needed. I like the hanging gardens inside too. It adds a bit of history to the 8000 years of the location. :)

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