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RPG Superstar 2015

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RPG Superstar™ 2012 General Discussion

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

This year there were a lot more items that were really well done from a technical "use the template properly" standpoint. Yes, there were lots that also did not, but those might have stood out so clearly because of how many did. I would say the number of "well crafted" items from a "compliance with the template" standpoint was up. That means you all as a community are learning--you are following the rules, reading the prior entries, reading the threads and improving your technical item execution skills. In the past we were able to say "good idea, bad execution." This year, we saw improved execution.

So good work!

But as a result, there were a ton of items that were rejected with these comments: "Good job with the template, very good work. But now you just need that good core idea" because a superstar entry has to have both--a good core idea and great execution of that idea, including good technical presentation using the provided template.

I love not only how the contestants grow over the course of a contest, but also how this community has grown and improved from contest to contest. It is really cool to see.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Maybe the next RPG Superstar panel should focus on "How To Create Compelling Superstar Ideas"...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

That would likely help me...

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Neil Spicer wrote:
Maybe the next RPG Superstar panel should focus on "How To Create Compelling Superstar Ideas"...

Uhm....yes please?

Contributor

It makes me happy that people are following the format established in the Core Rulebook.

Maybe one of the interim Superstar blog posts should be about details in the format that people miss, like "this is where spell names go, spell names are always italicized," and "this is where feat names go, feat names are always capitalized." Stuff that you'll notice if you've given a hard look at the Core Rulebook, stuff that brings you that much closer to being Top 32-ready...

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Actually, I'd like a blog on what types of bonuses and effects are keyed to which slots (like int/wis/cha to headbands and str/dex/con to belts and so on) and why. I have a pretty good idea what goes where from studying the existing items, but i can't recall seeing it actually spelled out.

(But Sean's idea would be cool too....well, cool in the incredibly geekish kinda way, but cool nonetheless.)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

You have now made me horrified that I might not have italicized my stuff. I'm pretty sure I did, but I just can't say for sure. IS IT THE 24TH YET?!

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Tacticslion wrote:
You have now made me horrified that I might not have italicized my stuff. I'm pretty sure I did, but I just can't say for sure. IS IT THE 24TH YET?!

Quick, someone go register www.isitthe24thyet.com - put up a simple countdown. You'll make a fortune from ad traffic.

Contributor

Italicizing or not italicizing your spells isn't a make or break issue. It's nice to see it when it happens, but (as Neil says), we've never kept or rejected an item just for that reason.

It's *strange* to see someone italicize some spells and not others, or to use code to link to the PRD but not to italicize spell names (as in, "you bothered to look up the URLs to create links for your spells, but couldn't be bothered to italicize them like they are in the books?").

Shadow Lodge Marathon Voter 2013

Sean K Reynolds wrote:

It makes me happy that people are following the format established in the Core Rulebook.

Maybe one of the interim Superstar blog posts should be about details in the format that people miss, like "this is where spell names go, spell names are always italicized," and "this is where feat names go, feat names are always capitalized." Stuff that you'll notice if you've given a hard look at the Core Rulebook, stuff that brings you that much closer to being Top 32-ready...

I can understand that such a blog post would be very helpful for lots of contestants.

Representing the other side of the coin as a "serious" contestant, I think it is these little details that are part of the homework that a contestant should do if they are looking to freelance for Paizo. I imagine that carefully and precisely following different templates is a skill you wish potential freelancers to develop. If you make it too easy for contestants to not have to do their homework, you perhaps interrupt that learning process as well as lose what on this side of the RPGSS curtain seems a neat gauge of those who have done that homework.

I imagine that as is, you are still hitting both ends of this spectrum. You are still getting those perfectly-executed-explorations-of-design-space entries as well as the execution-is-really-poor-but-this-is-so-cool-it-is-in-like-Flynn entries. They are all compelling but just in various ways.

By the way, thank you for these posts during this interim period. This is the time where it is so much fun to try and see through that curtain I mentioned. Every time you give us one of these posts/threads, it is like seeing the shuffling behind the curtain or a momentary glimpse of size 16 shoes under it.

Best Regards
Herremann the Wise

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

5 people marked this as a favorite.
JaceDK wrote:
Actually, I'd like a blog on what types of bonuses and effects are keyed to which slots (like int/wis/cha to headbands and str/dex/con to belts and so on) and why. I have a pretty good idea what goes where from studying the existing items, but i can't recall seeing it actually spelled out.

A lot of it's just commonsense. If you're doing a pair of magical lenses, you should look up what's been done with items that affect the wearer's eyes. If you're doing something with boots, assess all the items in the Core Rulebook for boots, sandals, slippers, etc. But, if you really want a good guide, follow the Body Slot Affinities table from 3.5...

Headband, helmet: Mental improvement, ranged attacks
Hat: Interaction
Phylactery: Morale, alignment
Eye lenses, goggles: Vision
Cloak, cape, mantle: Transformation, protection
Amulet, brooch, medallion, necklace, periapt, scarab: Protection, discernment
Robe: Multiple effects
Shirt: Physical improvement
Vest, vestment: Class ability improvement
Bracers: Combat
Bracelets: Allies
Gloves: Quickness
Gauntlets: Destructive power
Belt: Physical improvement
Boots: Movement

Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Neil Spicer wrote:
Maybe the next RPG Superstar panel should focus on "How To Create Compelling Superstar Ideas"...

Hmmm, start to wonder about brain transplants and looks to Neil as the victim :P

Contributor

Herremann the Wise wrote:
Representing the other side of the coin as a "serious" contestant, I think it is these little details that are part of the homework that a contestant should do if they are looking to freelance for Paizo. I imagine that carefully and precisely following different templates is a skill you wish potential freelancers to develop. If you make it too easy for contestants to not have to do their homework, you perhaps interrupt that learning process as well as lose what on this side of the RPGSS curtain seems a neat gauge of those who have done that homework.

I can see that side of the argument, but one of the things the judges talk about (and I'm sure we've said it "out loud" to the general public) is that you can't train innovation and talent, but you can train someone to follow a format. We'd rather advance a interesting-but-rough entry than a technically-proficient-but-boring entry. I can take a new freelancer and pound a style guide into his or her head (I'm still doing that with some well-known freelancers); I can't pound in creativity in the same way.

Some people just don't look at the text in the book with the same eye that a developer does. They may absorb the text and never realize that spell and magic item names are in italics, that feats and skills are capitalized, and that races and class names aren't capitalized, because they're busy thinking "if I take this class and this feat and stick it on that monster, that'll make a really cool encounter to end this adventure."

Basically, it's pretty easy to teach ALWAYS ITALICIZE SPELL NAMES AND MAGIC ITEM NAMES, compared to teaching ALWAYS BE CREATIVE AND FIND NEW DESIGN SPACES THAT ADD TO THE GAME. Ideally, I want both to stick... but it's easier to take a turnover and add the italics (grumbling the whole time) than it is to take a turnover and add the excitement (sighing the whole time).

Herremann the Wise wrote:
By the way, thank you for these posts during this interim period. This is the time where it is so much fun to try and see through that curtain I mentioned. Every time you give us one of these posts/threads, it is like seeing the shuffling behind the curtain or a momentary glimpse of size 16 shoes under it.

Aww, thanks, I'm glad you like 'em. I like analyzing the process. In general, I blame Clark, he's the booster. :)


Hey Sean, yeah I stressed a little over that, in terms of italics; I hope that wouldn't be a deciding factor. Also, it seems to me that - from scratch - on a varied item, item pricing isn't a perfect science so in the pricing of my "varied" item, it seemed there was a tad-bit of a grey area that made the cost a bit high. My hope is that the item is about 90%+ there and that the creativity of the item will be what is judged.

Regardless, it certainly is fun to be a part of this!

Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Sean K Reynolds wrote:

It makes me happy that people are following the format established in the Core Rulebook.

Maybe one of the interim Superstar blog posts should be about details in the format that people miss, like "this is where spell names go, spell names are always italicized," and "this is where feat names go, feat names are always capitalized." Stuff that you'll notice if you've given a hard look at the Core Rulebook, stuff that brings you that much closer to being Top 32-ready...

Done and posted a little something for this for you - feel free to rip into it, but I think it's fairly close.

Star Voter 2013

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
or to use code to link to the PRD but not to italicize spell names (as in, "you bothered to look up the URLs to create links for your spells, but couldn't be bothered to italicize them like they are in the books?").

I've kept saying that one of the judges made this comment last year, but now I have proof. People need to realize that the template in the PRD is not exactly the same as in the books. In the PRD, there are hyperlinks because it's the internet. Those things don't exist when you print a book, for obvious reasons.

It's kinda weird the people who want to get their stuff printed, but never consider what format it actually needs to be printed in...

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

I don't think the reason they included the URLs is because they were trying to duplicate the PRD's links. That's not how I interpreted it, at least.

Star Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015

Neil Spicer wrote:


A lot of it's just commonsense. If you're doing a pair of magical lenses, you should look up what's been done with items that affect the wearer's eyes. If you're doing something with boots, assess all the items in the Core Rulebook for boots, sandals, slippers, etc. But, if you really want a good guide, follow the Body Slot Affinities table from 3.5...

The lack of Body Slot Affinities is a pet peeve of mine and it's something I'd like to see clarified for RPG Superstars and Pathfinder in general. I personally liked Body Slot Affinity (B.S.A) from 3.5, but found that it was conspicuously absent from the Pathfinder rules. Unofficially, I've read/listened to the judges say that they have certain expectations for wondrous items of certain types, which is fair, but given that Pathfinder--to the best of my knowledge--doesn't have B.S.A, it's interesting to hear these expectations stand anyway. I'd really hate to learn entries were disqualified because of B.S.A expectations when by all appearances the Pathfinder rules seem to have purposefully removed them--maybe to potentially increase the variety of magic items?

On the other hand, I would be ecstatic to hear someone say, that B.S.A was left out of the core rules as an oversight, in which case I'd hope to see an errata.

In any event, I'm grateful that I learned about the unofficial B.S.A expectations as well as a wealth of other do's/don'ts from existing wondrous items as well as the fantastic threads and podcasts that were made available to us from the judges and others on this board.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Standback

x93edwards wrote:
The lack of Body Slot Affinities is a pet peeve of mine and it's something I'd like to see clarified for RPG Superstars and Pathfinder in general. I personally liked Body Slot Affinity (B.S.A) from 3.5, but found that it was conspicuously absent from the Pathfinder rules. Unofficially, I've read/listened to the judges say that they have certain expectations for wondrous items of certain types, which is fair, but given that Pathfinder--to the best of my knowledge--doesn't have B.S.A, it's interesting to hear these expectations stand anyway. I'd really hate to learn entries were disqualified because of B.S.A expectations when by all appearances the Pathfinder rules seem to have purposefully removed them--maybe to potentially increase the variety of magic items?

I think this is more of a common-sense/resonance issue than it is a matter of mechanics.

Boots are naturally associated with walking, so boots that let you walk really fast or let you walk on water are a natural fit. Boots that give you a +2 Intelligence bonus feels counterintuitive, eliciting a "how the heck do magic boots make you smarter?" response. Body slots take this notion and formalize it into a game mechanic. I think a lot of the reason behind this would be to prevent players from stocking up on magic items of a single type - a headband of intellect plus boots of genius plus a nice tower shield of great smartness...

But locking body slots into particular purposes is very limiting (particularly if you're just doing it to get around munchkins :P). Boots can be a natural fit for lots of effects. Maybe you want a pair of boots that leaves footsteps of molten lava that serve as a new hazard on the battlefield; maybe a pair of boots that helps you kick better; maybe leaky boots of divine favor that fill up with healing potion whenever it rains. So not limiting slots to affinity lets you have a much wider range of interesting effects.

For the purposes of Superstar, IMHO the deal is this. Item the First: Appreciate the feel of the different slots. Don't send in boots of genius. But something else - that clashes with the established affinities, but still makes sense for that slot and fits well there. Item the Second: Since body slots are limited, consider what a character who might want your item would need to give up using. If a wizard needs to give up his headband of intellect in order to use your shawl of an awesome power once weekly, he'll probably stick with the headband.

Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
x93edwards wrote:

The lack of Body Slot Affinities is a pet peeve of mine and it's something I'd like to see clarified for RPG Superstars and Pathfinder in general. I personally liked Body Slot Affinity (B.S.A) from 3.5, but found that it was conspicuously absent from the Pathfinder rules. Unofficially, I've read/listened to the judges say that they have certain expectations for wondrous items of certain types, which is fair, but given that Pathfinder--to the best of my knowledge--doesn't have B.S.A, it's interesting to hear these expectations stand anyway. I'd really hate to learn entries were disqualified because of B.S.A expectations when by all appearances the Pathfinder rules seem to have purposefully removed them--maybe to potentially increase the variety of magic items?

On the other hand, I would be ecstatic to hear someone say, that B.S.A was left out of the core rules as an oversight, in which case I'd hope to see an errata.

Completely outside of RPGSS, I'd really like to know if wondrous item body slot affinity is a "missing" part of the Core, or if it has been stripped to make way for increased variety? BTW I'm not looking for people to say "If it ain't in the rulebook, it ain't part of the Core", because my fourth printing of the Core STILL doesn't have a description of a sickle, even though it appears on the weapons table and the gnome iconic Druid wields one. I know what a sickle is, just noticed there's no description of it! (I realise it may have been errata'd since, but four printings and no-one picked it up?)

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

Sean K Reynolds wrote:

It makes me happy that people are following the format established in the Core Rulebook.

Maybe one of the interim Superstar blog posts should be about details in the format that people miss, like "this is where spell names go, spell names are always italicized," and "this is where feat names go, feat names are always capitalized." Stuff that you'll notice if you've given a hard look at the Core Rulebook, stuff that brings you that much closer to being Top 32-ready...

Honestly, if it weren't for reading prior threads, I wouldn't have ever thought about this stuff. But that's sort of the mark of a good style (and execution of said style). Hopefully the reader won't notice it unless something's done wrong.

I think might be interesting to have the style guide (or a version of it?) available for participants. That might be a good check of whether they can absorb that material or not. Of course, I deal with reporters who can't figure out our style when you repeatedly tell them over and over (yes, that's intentionally redundant there), so maybe it wouldn't help for most people.

--

Interesting that they've got a listing for phylacteries. I think there are only two in the core book that I can think of (though maybe I'm forgetting some from 3.5...). That was another item I played around with a bit and discarded. Maybe I'll try to get that together for the practice thread over the course of the year. Of course, it also wasn't morale or alignment based...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Interestingly, I can think of a few different kinds of wondrous items that aren't on that list. It's interesting stuff!


Okay I have got to ask this now. And since I don't know any other thread where this question would be more fitting to ask, I'll do it here.

What is the estimated threshold of how much the price of my item is allowed to be off mark before it is auto-rejected? Percentagewise?

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

Nagga, my impression is you can't really put a percentage on it.

If the judges love everything else about the item, it could well get in even if it's half/twice as much as it should be. If the judges are lukewarm on the item, and it comes down to deciding between that and another item that is equally good but has the price correct, my guess is that could be a deciding factor.

They've said items aren't kept/rejected because of price, though I imagine once they get to winnowing the keeps down to the top 32 (plus alternates), egregious errors in pricing could matter more.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Naggarath wrote:
What is the estimated threshold of how much the price of my item is allowed to be off mark before it is auto-rejected? Percentagewise?

I'd suggest you listen to the "So You Want To Be A Superstar" panel recording. We talked at length about how the judges view pricing. We didn't give a percentage, however. And, rather than hash all that out again in this thread, I really want to encourage folks go and listen to the recording. That's why we held the panel. To answer questions such as this...as well as many more that I think everyone will find valuable.

Star Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Neil Spicer wrote:

But, if you really want a good guide, follow the Body Slot Affinities table from 3.5...

Headband, helmet: Mental improvement, ranged attacks
Hat: Interaction
(Etc.)

This isn't a hard and fast rule, though, is it? I mean, conceivably certain slots could also be associated with affinities that might more not necessarily be the first construed?

Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I also wondered about this:

Oceanshieldwolf wrote:
Completely outside of RPGSS, I'd really like to know if wondrous item body slot affinity is a "missing" part of the Core, or if it has been stripped to make way for increased variety?

If there isn't body slot affinity in Pathfinder, then are there expectations from Paizo? I'm asking as fledgling designer, not an RPGSS entrant.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

It really just depends. You have to think of it in terms of what other items exist that might be stackable with your item. Or maybe supercede your item. For instance, let's say you've got an item that provides a +2 enhancement bonus to Strength and you've put it in a pair of gauntlets. The belt of giant strength +4 is going to supercede that. The bonuses won't stack, so your item has the potential for its +2 bonus to get ignored if someone later finds a belt of giant strength +4.

Also, consider what happens if your PC is able to wear your gauntlets to gain a magical Strength bonus and his belt slot is then "freed up," thereby allowing him to wear some other kind of belt than what might normally go there (i.e., a belt of giant strength). Maybe now, he can wear a belt of mighty constitution +2 as well as your gauntlets. Is that acceptable in terms of the "hard choices" PCs (and their players) are supposed to make within the game? Or, are you simply giving them their cake and letting them eat another one, too?

Then, let's take a different example. Let's say you've created the same item but now it provides an untyped bonus. If it's not an enhancement bonus, that means it can stack with an enhancement bonus. So, if your gauntlets are granting +2 Strength with an untyped bonus, it means that PC can also still wear a belt of giant strength +2 and cheese out a +4 total bonus to his Strength. This is a dangerous area to venture, because the game is balanced in such a way that only certain amounts of "upgrades" are supposed to be possible to your PC at a given Wealth-By-Level. If you start doling out additional options that magnify bonuses of this nature, you're potentially screwing with the game balance.


I remember making a Diablo: the awakening dungeon for my players... The only magic item I rolled turned out as a Sturdy boots of the Mind, i.e. +1 intelligence. I got so very tired...

Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Neil Spicer wrote:
It really just depends. You have to think of it in terms of what other items exist that might be stackable with your item. Or maybe supercede your item....

Good points. I'm guessing then that there isn't a Pathfinder body slot affinity per se but common sense prevails - look at the extant items AND their typed bonuses and design accordingly. Thanks Neil.

Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Another way of looking at the various body slots is to avoid the "bonus" type of magic item.

What if you had, for example, a crown - now this crown could add to int, but stat bonuses are pretty mundane for wondrous items (go listen to that podcast - you will hear what I mean).

So instead, what if the crown protected against penalties of varying kinds that might get applied to your int during an encounter? That would be different, maybe different enough to catch the judges eye.

Look at the application of the slot, look for new and novel ways of using the slot which complement the affinities in new and shiny ways - I'm reasonably confident that this approach will really bring out your superstar shine in the judges eyes.

Go for the "ohhh shiny", and the result is you yourself would get viewed as "ohhh shiny" too :D

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Oceanshieldwolf wrote:
Good points. I'm guessing then that there isn't a Pathfinder body slot affinity per se but common sense prevails - look at the extant items AND their typed bonuses and design accordingly. Thanks Neil.

Always look at the extant items for comparison. They're a better guide than just about anything else. Also, keep in mind that even though the Core Rulebook didn't include the body slot affinities from 3.5, the game is still backwards compatible. Many of the exact same items that existed in 3.5 still exist in Pathfinder. So, many of the same game balance concerns between body slots still exist as well. A Superstar designer needs to intuitively realize that and design wondrous items accordingly.

So, short answer: Yes, the judges still take into account body slot issues that might arise in a particular wondrous item's design. Not because it violates a rule from the Core Rulebook and the absent "Body Slot Affinities" table. But rather, because it violates the unspoken guidelines that are inherently laid out for you in the types of wondrous items which already exist, the body slots they take up, and the value of those body slots to certain classes. You have to assess all those things across the board to demonstrate a Superstar's inherent talent for design. And, when Paizo opts to shift the cloak of charisma into a headband of alluring charisma or the gloves of dexterity into a belt of incredible dexterity, it makes a difference. A Superstar designer interested in designing for the Pathfinder RPG needs to take note of those developments, understand the significance behind them, and adjust his designs accordingly.

Anthony Adam wrote:
Look at the application of the slot, look for new and novel ways of using the slot which complement the affinities in new and shiny ways - I'm reasonably confident that this approach will really bring out your Superstar shine in the judges eyes.

But also keep in mind that if you're designing another headband (rather than a crown) with the powers you've described, a cleric/sorcerer/wizard would have to forego the usual headbands which interest them (i.e., the headband of inspired wisdom, headband of alluring charisma, and headband of vast intelligence) to use your item. So, is it really worth it to them? If not, then maybe you shouldn't put those powers in a headband? In other words, if your item is designed to appeal to character classes such as those, tread carefully if you're exploring something which uses a slot that's right in their wheelhouse. Same thing goes for martial classes and magic belts. Or even cloaks which ensure the wearer will never benefit from a cloak of resistance, and so on. Superstar designers need to weigh these things as they consider who their item is meant to appeal to...and what PCs will have to give up in terms of what normally takes up that slot.

Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I really like your point about checking what may be being sacrificed - I think I may add that to my template explanation post as a gotcha point if that's okay with you Neil?

Star Voter 2013

That's a really good point for (or against) designing belts and headbands. They are one of the most likely slots to be filled (along with neck and ring) by players by boring old numeric bonuses. So, you have to consider if, designing an item in one of those slots is worth sacrificing mental stat bonuses, physical stat bonuses, or for an amulet AC bonuses.

There are very good cases where you might - hat of disguise, monk's belt, periapt of proof against poison - but even those are less common than, say belts of physical perfection.


Charles Evans 25 wrote:
Clark Peterson wrote:

This year there were a lot more items that were really well done from a technical "use the template properly" standpoint. Yes, there were lots that also did not, but those might have stood out so clearly because of how many did. I would say the number of "well crafted" items from a "compliance with the template" standpoint was up. That means you all as a community are learning--you are following the rules, reading the prior entries, reading the threads and improving your technical item execution skills. In the past we were able to say "good idea, bad execution." This year, we saw improved execution.

So good work!

But as a result, there were a ton of items that were rejected with these comments: "Good job with the template, very good work. But now you just need that good core idea" because a superstar entry has to have both--a good core idea and great execution of that idea, including good technical presentation using the provided template.

I love not only how the contestants grow over the course of a contest, but also how this community has grown and improved from contest to contest. It is really cool to see.

On the Ning Nang Nong...

-Milligan

This Charles Evans 25 post was bounced around, sat upon, and generally squelched until only the content which made (non)sense remained.

-Ask A Succubus Censor; swapping chaos for (un)reasoned dispute since whenever.... ;)

Liberty's Edge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2012 , Star Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

Good to have you back, Charles!


I'm just curious with all of the talk of body slots flying around, but is there any sort of preference towards permanent items vs. consumables?

Dedicated Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Yemeth wrote:
I'm just curious with all of the talk of body slots flying around, but is there any sort of preference towards permanent items vs. consumables?

I'm curious about this too. Personally, while I'm careful about giving them out as treasure, I love a well-designed consumable. If you can nail the price point -- which is both more difficult and more important with a consumable item -- you end up with something that PCs of the appropriate level don't just use, but covet. That adds to the game.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Yemeth wrote:
I'm just curious with all of the talk of body slots flying around, but is there any sort of preference towards permanent items vs. consumables?

There's not really a preference assigned to anything. As long as your item is awesome, innovative, well-written, mechanically sound, professionally polished, and well-named, it pretty much doesn't matter if it's a permanent item vs. a consummable. The judges do on occasion make a remark about the difficulty factor involved in crafting well-designed low-level items. And, inasmuch as a consummable can be viewed as a low-level item, it might get some recognition if you pull it off very well. But, just building your item as a consummable to nerf down its reusability/abusability factor isn't necessarily going to win you points.

Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Neil Spicer wrote:
...and well-named, ...

My Achilles Heel, I am the grandmaster of rubbish names. Sigh.

Design xyz please.... no problem

Now name it.... Ack!

I can't remember/find all the posts, but I seem to recall some themes that were a bit "tired" in previous years were:

a) "x of the y"

b) "numerous noncy naming" (alliterative names)

So, knowing how you judges like to tease and scare us (we know it makes you smile), are there any naming themes making you groan this year?

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

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One of my main pet-peeves with item naming is when the designer doesn't put a concrete noun in the title that tells us what the item physically is. If it's something nebulous where I have to click on the link to eventually find out it's a pair of gloves or a necklace or an orb or whatever, I get annoyed pretty quickly. You want your item name to at least give a hint towards what it looks like. If you pick up someone's character sheet and read an item there called lost love's lament, what is that? Is it a portrait kept as a memento? Is it a magical daisy of "she loves me, she loves me not"...? Who knows? So you should always strive to be as clear as you can be.

The alliterative names got called out quite a bit. I think we may have kept one or two, though. So, it's not always a deal breaker. Just depends on what else an item submission has going for it and how silly someone got with the naming.

Inserting character or NPC names into an item's title isn't looked upon very favorably at all. That still happens every year. A lot. And that's pretty sad, considering we called it out in the "So You Want To Be A Superstar" panel recording.

I don't think any of the main judges mind the "x of the y" name so much. That usually comes up during the adventure proposal round, because it's something Jacobs routinely strives to avoid. I've disagreed with him about that in the past, not because I'm trying to be argumentative. Rather, I think some "x of the y" names are even more compelling than the alternatives you're sometimes left with. They can be just as iconic. Again, it just depends. If you use "x of the y" in your wondrous item name, you just want to make sure it doesn't get too long or it looks more like an adventure title than a magic item you'd see in a book or written on someone's character sheet. My last leaves of the autumn dryad was definitely pushing it.

Tangent: One of the best strategies for coming up with an evocative adventure name is to put a reference in the title to either your main villain...or the primary location where it takes place. Those two staples are the things that should stick out the most about your adventure. It helps players remember back to when they faced your primary villain or adventured through your amazing dungeon/location. So names like the "Realm of the Fellnight Queen" or "Mud Sorcerer's Tomb" or "Queen of the Demonweb Pits" or "Temple of Elemental Evil" immediately conjure up concrete images that'll stick with you for a lifetime of gaming. That's what your adventure names should strive to do.

Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Ohh, I like that last tip - thanks for that - I'm currently designing the next dungeon encounters for my Monday Group (and being old timer's, our dungeons have always been named (as have most of the rooms >.<)

Hmmmm...

Welcome to "Deathknight's Final Repose".

Yeah, that tip works real good. Cheers for that.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

On the topic of names, one thing that always annoys me is he use of really obscure words in the name. Like Ephemera or Phlebotomist, just to take a few examples from last years top 32. I also recall several items from the critique thread that mad me go "what does that mean?"

Granted, I'm not a native English speaker, but if I have to reach for a dictionary to figure out what the item is or does, I'm already a bit turned off it.

Dedicated Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

It's a catch-22, naming is. You want A) something compelling and B) something that isn't cliche. But so does every other writer, so the compelling naming schemes quickly become cliches. I try to keep the classic formats but mix them up so they don't start feeling like Mad Libs. So for every traditional alliterative or "x of the y" name...

Shrine of the Ashen God...
The Ballad of Basilisk Bill...

I've got a few near misses....

Expedition to the Starlit City...
Escape from the Isle of the Dragon Queen...

And a few oddballs...

Walk a Bloody Path...
Black Sun Burn

I also prefer not to tell my players the name of the adventure until after it's over. That way they've already got a memorable experience to which they can affix a label they'll remember and understand.

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

JaceDK wrote:

On the topic of names, one thing that always annoys me is he use of really obscure words in the name. Like Ephemera or Phlebotomist, just to take a few examples from last years top 32. I also recall several items from the critique thread that mad me go "what does that mean?"

Granted, I'm not a native English speaker, but if I have to reach for a dictionary to figure out what the item is or does, I'm already a bit turned off it.

For me I generally agree with this, because it often comes from a gamer-specific trait: the need of the author to show that he or she is smarter than the rest of us. Sometimes you get the sense that the author picked some really esoteric item no one has ever heard of not so much to be unique but rather to show they are a superior intellect. You can pick them out right away. And those never go over well. BUT sometimes you find an item you never heard of and it just winds up being cool and you say, "hey I never knew what an XYZ was, that is cool." But usually, people using something crazy obscure are just showing off.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 4 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Jatori

Anthony Adam wrote:
My Achilles Heel, I am the grandmaster of rubbish names. Sigh.

I think we could share that title :)

JaceDK wrote:

On the topic of names, one thing that always annoys me is he use of really obscure words in the name. Like Ephemera or Phlebotomist, just to take a few examples from last years top 32. I also recall several items from the critique thread that mad me go "what does that mean?"

Granted, I'm not a native English speaker, but if I have to reach for a dictionary to figure out what the item is or does, I'm already a bit turned off it.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Standback

JaceDK wrote:
On the topic of names, one thing that always annoys me is he use of really obscure words in the name. Like Ephemera or Phlebotomist, just to take a few examples from last years top 32.

I actually liked those two names.

"Epherma" sounds like "ephermal," so I assume there's a relation, even without knowing what the word means.

And "phelebotomist" I liked primarily because of the association with this instant classic :)

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015

JaceDK wrote:

On the topic of names, one thing that always annoys me is he use of really obscure words in the name. Like Ephemera or Phlebotomist, just to take a few examples from last years top 32. I also recall several items from the critique thread that mad me go "what does that mean?"

I specifically like it when items have names like that. For me, it harkens back to a tradition as old as the game itself.

The Exchange Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka Shadowborn

I do have to say that nothing has improved my vocabulary over the years as much as gaming. I'm one of those people that's happy to discover a new word.


Neil Spicer wrote:
I don't think any of the main judges mind the "x of the y" name so much.

I personally dislike this sort of names. If you don't choose your words extremely well, it makes your item sound like a randomly generated one.

Neil Spicer wrote:
Tangent: One of the best strategies for coming up with an evocative adventure name is to put a reference in the title to either your main villain...or the primary location where it takes place. Those two staples are the things that should stick out the most about your adventure. It helps players remember back to when they faced your primary villain or adventured through your amazing dungeon/location. So names like the "Realm of the Fellnight Queen" or "Mud Sorcerer's Tomb" or "Queen of the Demonweb Pits" or "Temple of Elemental Evil" immediately conjure up concrete images that'll stick with you for a lifetime of gaming. That's what your adventure names should strive to do.

I can't disagree, this is certainly practical. But I would like to see more poetical adventure names or ones that relate to events other than NPCs or locations. The next adventure I'll be GMing for my group, for example, is called "A man's last words" and it starts with the party finding a dead man totally stripped of his clothes and belongings. The only clue the party has is that his fingers are stained with ink and, by the look of the crime scene, this man was writting something when he was stabbed in the back. So the name relates to an important event that kicks the adventure going and also to a possible plot item (a letter or a document or whatever that man wrote) of relevance. And it sounds poetical enough to me.

(Of course, I'm talking about my own opinion here, not about what's more marketable. Perhaps the more practical approach is a lot more compelling for most RPG consumers.)

JaceDK wrote:

On the topic of names, one thing that always annoys me is he use of really obscure words in the name. Like Ephemera or Phlebotomist, just to take a few examples from last years top 32.

I hated Candle of Viscous Ephemera or something (though the item was really good!). But the phlebotomist one I liked. I had to google it, but then it made sense to me. A lot better than Gloves of Making You Bleed Faster, anyway. Besides, it was a totally kickass item (possibly my favourite from last year's top 32).

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