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Verdant Dawn


Round 2 - Top 32: Create a new organization

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka Serpent

Verdant Dawn
Alignment: CN
Headquarters: Viridian Grove, Wilewood, River Kingdoms
Leader: Chief Elder Adaytrea
Structure: militant protectors of nature
Scope: regional
Resources: numerous loyal creatures of the wild
To the Verdant Dawn, naturally occurring shapes and structures are perfect, beautiful, and sacred. Man-made, artificial things are an abomination, and creatures that have lost touch with nature are but soulless shells. Civilization is the source of these impure creations and creatures. Civilization disturbs the natural order of things. Civilization must be undone.
Structure and Leadership
The enigmatic and ancient Chief Elder Adaytrea (CN female dryad oracle of nature 14) supervises the efforts of the Verdant Dawn from her grove in Wilewood, letting the Elders – the local leaders – plan the individual operations.

Besides the Elders, who are often druids, shamans, or powerful fey, two operational branches exist: The Claws are large animals, giants, or other dangerous creatures that take care of tasks that require violence. The Eyes are small fey, mammals, and birds responsible for gathering intelligence and carrying messages. Moreover, a significant number of townsfolk ensorcelled with fey magic unwittingly work for the organization.

With such a diverse group of both supernatural and mundane creatures at its beck and call, the Verdant Dawn has one of the most extensive and efficient spy networks in Golarion.
Goals
Radical in their views and methods, members of the Verdant Dawn seek to cleanse Avistan of the taint of civilization and restore the natural state in which is was at the dawn of time.

Everywhere on the continent, they attempt to stop activities that harm nature, such as the Lumber Consortium’s logging operations in Andoran. In areas where their influence has grown enough to warrant more direct action, they systematically tear man-made structures asunder with magic and muscle, and kill anyone who opposes them. Entire towns have vanished as if they never existed, their crumbling remains hidden by nature reclaiming its territory.
Public Perception
The goals of the Verdant Dawn are difficult for civilized people to sympathize with, and therefore the organization is generally regarded with fear and hatred. However, sometimes their interests are temporarily aligned those of the locals and they may be greeted as heroes, though that notion is usually short-lived.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Okay, Mikko. Welcome to RPG Superstar. You wanted in the game really badly last year as an alternate. So, it's good to see that your hard work paid off in making it through this go-around. As you probably know by following along, the real competition is about to get underway. So, I'm sure you realize the contest takes on an entirely different spin at this level. The judges are here to comment on your work, both in the hopes of guiding you in honing your game design skills, and also to help the voting public process how you measure up. But they'll determine your fate. They're your audience now and we're part of it, just like anyone else. So, with all that in mind, I'm going to talk a bit about what you did well here and also where I think you've still got room to grow. Let's get started...

First off, I saw the name for your organization and immediately assumed "eco-terrorists." And, that's pretty much what you've given us. So you met that expectation. But eco-terrorists seem to always show up in virtually every campaign setting (regardless of genre) in one form or another. The trick lies in making them fresh, interesting, and usable in a way that doesn't feel like warmed-up leftovers. I think the most innovative thing you've done here is the structure and leadership section of your write-up. I like the creation of the Claws and the Eyes of the organization. Consciously or not, you're doing a good job of not just telling us about the organization, but also making sure you drop elements into the descriptive text that immediately conjures up images of a whole host of possibilities in how the Verdant Dawn membership operates. It's a powerful thing when you can describe and cast that many minions as part of the group. Each one basically contributes a whole new set of variables a GM can apply if they chose to incorporate your organization into their campaign.

I also think you write really well. The language flows. The text evokes all the right imagery as you read it. The information is well-organized and you delivered exactly what you needed to in each section of the template. So, I think you got the assignment. You tapped a common idea that many people can immediately identify with. And, you breathed enough new life into it that it feels credible and usable. That's what you want to do as a designer.

Now, I still think you could have done more here. Despite weaving in references to how the organization opposes the Lumber Consortium (and honestly, who doesn't oppose those guys at this point?), I'd have liked to see you give us something new to go along with that. The Lumber Consortium is primarily busy in Andoran. Meanwhile, your organization is headquartered up the Sellen River and in the River Kingdoms. So, that's a pretty long stretch for them to cover from a regional perspective. And, many of the creatures you've cited in the Verdant Dawn's membership don't tend to be the best organized when it comes to concerted efforts. An alignment of CN will do that to you a lot of times. So, for me (and maybe not everyone else), I have a harder time widening my view of what the Verdant Dawn is capable of in operating out of the River Kingdoms.

As such, I think you'd have been best served to layer their activities. Have them be more potent closer to their HQ. Then, as you widen their reach, lessen their impact. In other words, they should be a force in the River Kingdoms. Give us something there that they're aggressively pursuing. Then, by the time you widen their circle of influence out to include Andoran, make it so that they're just starting to butt heads with the Lumber Consortium. Small things like that give GMs the ability to immediately grasp and buy into your organization's description. They can "see" and "believe in" what you're conveying about them, because it all makes perfect sense. Even just a single sentence explaining something like that would have really tightened this up for me. And, you had 30 words to spare for something like that. Thus, that's why I mentioned it.

Putting that aside, I also thought I'd mention one other item for you to keep an eye on. It's a problem I suffer in my own writing. I have this tendency to leave out words sometimes as I'm typing because my mind mentally fills them in, because it's going faster than my fingers can move on the keyboard. As a result, it's not something a spellchecker will pick up. Only careful proofreading can. I think you ran into that same problem with the final statement of your write-up. You're missing a "with" in there. So, just keep an eye out for that kind of thing.

Regardless, I DO RECOMMEND this organization to advance you to the next round.

You did a good job with the assignment. You took a staple of the game and wrote it up exactly the way you needed to. I'd have liked to see you push the envelope a bit more with a stronger "wow" factor to inject something new into the equation we hadn't seen before. But you're still demonstrating you've got the chops for this kind of thing. If I look back at last round's work, your vexing spirit lamp wasn't my favorite entry. But it showed innovative thinking and that's what we want to see you develop over the course of the competition. It's why we put you in the Top 32. As-written, the Verdant Dawn feels like more of a safer choice this round. So, punch it up if you make it through the voting. I want to see that innovation again and applied in new and different ways. Best of luck in the exit polls. I hope to see you on the other side.

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

Mikko, welcome to Round 2!

What you are getting from me in this critique: This round is all about conflict and story. I think the best organizations create interesting and compelling groups that will come into conflict with the PCs. My comments, and my recommendation, will focus on how well you do that. My comments will also focus on writing and use of your allotted content in achieving your goals. What you won't get from me: I don't have the total Golarion-fu that Neil and Sean do, so I will leave to them whether you got the nitty gritty details of some of the setting stuff to them (though apparently I did have enough Golarion-fu to know its Pharasmin not Pharasmian, you know who you are).

So here we go!

Initial Impression: Can a cliché druid “civilization versus nature” group break out of the boring mold? Not looking good…

Concept (name, title, is it an organization?, overall design choices, is the organization and antagonist and does it create direct conflict for the PCs?, playability): C
The initial "natural versus civilized" cities versus druids thing is a bit tired. I was yawning by the end of the first paragraph. "Civilization disturbs the natural order of things." Yawn. Man, this better pick up fast. Unfortunately it doesn’t. Druid spy terrorist animals. Been there, done that. Sure, it’s got conflict but this is just not Superstar.

Execution (quality of writing, hook, theme, organization, use of proper format, quality of mandatory content, did you milk your idea for all it was worth? did you use your allotted space well?): C
Wow, 30 words to spare when nearly everyone else came in at 399 or 400. 30 more words could give you quite a bit of extra juice in a round like this where word count was severely restricted. Plus, how is there anything here than a generic druid group doesn’t do? Claws? Eyes? Not enough.

Tilt (did it grab me?, is it unique and cool?, do I like it?, flavor, are you showing Superstar mojo?): C
Didn’t grab me. Been there, done that.

Overall: C
A generic druid organization doesn’t make the grade.

Recommendation: I DO NOT recommend this organization submission for advancement.

Mikko, I am shocked at this entry from you. I thought your vexing spirit lamp was one of the more creative first round entries. I wonder what happened here. Perhaps you ran up against time constraints or something. Remember, I am not judging YOU, just your entry. The fact I found it wanting doesn’t mean you don’t have a ton of great stuff inside you. Like I often say, even Kobe misses a free throw every now and then. Maybe the voters will take your item into account and give you a pass. Good luck and I wish you the best!

Contributor

The red flag for me is that you made the leader a 14th-level spellcaster.

One, Golarion doesn't have many high-level creatures--the highest-level character in Katapesh is a 9th-level gladiator, and that's in a huge population center. Picking that level for some kooky dryad is way off base.

Two, a 14th-level oracle easily has access to incredibly powerful magic she could use to kill or drive off most normal people from a population center--insect plague, summon monster, planar ally, control weather, giant vermin, and so on--so she could accomplish her goals without the help of a network of agents and spies. She could sneak near town, cast a few spells, obliterate the opposition, and leave without any risk to herself.

Three, by making her level so high, you're limiting the ability for PCs to stop this organization. Most campaigns never make it to that level, so the boss is basically unkillable and the PCs can't win. Note that the other organizations in the Inner Sea World Guide don't list levels for the leaders, and deliberately so--that way, GMs can set the leader levels at whatever is appropriate for their campaigns.

An organization that kills anyone who opposes them is evil, not chaotic neutral. And once word gets out about a group like this, the likely response is to burn down the forests around settlements to give the residents plenty of time to notice bears, giants, and other creatures of the Claw approaching.

Unfortunately, I don't think this organization brings us anything new.

I do not recommend this to advance.

CEO, Goblinworks

I Googled Verdant Dawn because it struck some memory with me but I couldn't find whatever that was. It's probably just parallelism and not anything nefarious. A good reminder for the readers though that when you come up with a name like that you should take a peek to be sure there's no overlap with someone else's IP.

So, the ecoterrorist thing. Not original, but potentially useful. I don't think anyone is going to have to stretch to connect these dots - this is all well trod ground. Does Golarion need an ecoterrorism group? The world has been populated by civilizations for thousands and thousands of years. Turning back the clock is a tall order of business - something not even Starfall accomplished. I think if there was some kind of strong central villain here maybe it would hold more water. (As it is your named NPC is pretty boring).

Claws & Eyes: Good. Good branding, and good simple rails to put the GM on when using this to build content. There's a one-two punch here where the PC could run into the Eyes, think they've got the situation well in hand, and then get just smacked around by the arrival of Claw forces. That's good (in a fun gaming way) because it gives the GM a way to change up the order of battle and keep the PCs from thinking they've "solved" the content.

In the end the blandness of the NPC and the unoriginality of the ecoterrorism angle just don't do enough for me to promote this submsission.

I do not recommend that you vote for this designer.

EDIT FROM SEAN: Competitors, remember this item from the Round 2 FAQ, which reminds competitors about the rule against commenting about their own submissions. We're pasting this reminder into the last judge comment for every organization just to make sure all competitors see it and remember.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka Serpent

Thank you for the comments, judges! Members of the audience, thank you in advance for any comments and/or votes! I'll gladly answer any questions you may have about my organization once voting for round 2 is closed. :)

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

These guys need to hook up with the Aegis Praxis by Dan Jones, Monster Reformation Alliance by Mike Welham, and the Brotherhood of Golarion by Jacob Kellogg. Peace and love, man! All these organizations have a feel of semi-good, semi-bad, without much antagonism. Even now, I'm having trouble distinguishing between them.

That said, at least this one is a little bit more antagonistic. Druids are my least favorite class, and an entire organization of druids does little to counter that.

I would probably not be voting for this submission on its merits. I will probably not be voting for you based on your previous work.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013

Mikko, I think you did a good job. I haven't read many entries yet but I felt like this was a tough assignment.

As someone that has been playing rpgs for roughly 30 years, I thought your setting knowledge was decent. could it have been better, sure, but I've been playing pathfinder since 2009 and I wouldn't have known that putting a 14th level character would seem crazy to the setting. I like the rules, and I think the setting is very good but I haven't read close to everything and while I can see how this matters to the developers, and the cannon of the world they are developing, it seems a bit tough that you're supposed to know the setting that well- at this stage anyway

I do see the point from a designer standpoint of leaving that up to the GM, but to me the intended scope of the organization sets the level and I think you hit the money on that.

there is no way to describe all parts of such and organization and if I saw this in a book, I'd think, sounds good, Ive got the bbeg, now I just need to throw in a lieutenant and a captain for a recurring story arc.

It would be my habit to scheme big, as you seem to have done.

best of luck.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Champion Voter 2013, Champion Voter 2014

I could fit this in my current campaign easily. Maybe because I am running in Cordelon, across the river. I have to agree, I don't like when NPCs are hard wired a certain levels. Too many players complain about changes not being canon.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

More mercs. More druid mercs. Oi.

So while I give you credit for your attention to details and your obvious passion to your organization, I don't see anything that makes me go "WOW!"

To me it looks like Greenpeace, only they kill people instead of chain themselves to machinery.

Vote: No vote--great detailing but no originality.


I think Lady Ophelia has basically summed up everything I was going to say.

So to add, keep in mind that evil druid organizations are pretty common. So common that every gm eventually plays with the idea. With seomthign so common the idea shouldn't be to rehash the idea but to twist it to your purposes. Personally I would have like to seen the attitude of this organization combined with the Praxis druids from another entry. To men, that would have been the twist to make me vote for it.


Earth First in a fantasy setting? It's well written, but the concept seems a little flat and also the organization seems maybe powerful enough to actually win with high level spell casters, monsters, animal spies, etc.

Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

I'm mostly with Neil on this one. I like the base idea of the group, and I would certainly find use for it in my home campaign. It's a solid, well written, believable organization as those that I expect to find in campaign settings. I liked your Wondrous Item, and this shows that your writing is good and that you can deliver working additions to the setting.

I don't quite understand Sean's comments as we have higher level spellcaster minions in most of the adventure paths, The FIRST named NPC in Faction guide is a 14th level wizard, there is a 15th level druid in Faction guide, etc. I've heard this before from Paizo employees, Golarion doesn't have many higher level NPC's. Yet many books have them. And I'm all in for them, I'd love to kick some 14th-level oracle butt at the end of the campaign. Also when the scope of the organization is regional, it's bound to have a higher level leader.

Dryad is an interesting choice for a leader, because she has a large disadvantage - she's bound to one tree and cannot move freely across Avistan. You've thought of this clearly for she leaves the local planning for other leaders, and this plays well to organize the flow of a campaign featuring these guys - let players fight some local branches first and slowly level up for the big boss.

I also first thought that this should be an evil organization, but maybe your right with the chaotic neutral aspect because the way you could see this, they work within the cycle of nature only bringing down those who they see invading what is rightfully theirs. I'm not sure that two organizations in war should both be considered automatically evil.

Love the structure part. Paints a nice image of the different branches!

Haven't finished reading all the organizations yet, but this one is in my keep pile =). Good job, and good luck!

Andoran Dedicated Voter 2013

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ryan Dancey wrote:
I Googled Verdant Dawn because it struck some memory with me but I couldn't find whatever that was.

I'm not sure 100%, but the name Verdant Dawn rings a bell as something with that name or similar was in Mass Effect or Mass Effect 2. Not sure though.

Star Voter 2013

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

A 14th level dryad druid seems way out of line for the area you placed her in.

Kingmaker:
There already is 1, and she is the end villian for an AP. Final villian in Kingmaker is a 16th level dryad, and trying to tear a large area of the world out and bring it to the first world. This druid's motivations are nowhere near as cool

At her power level, she is one of the most powerful beings in the area. This organization is so generic and cliche that it just feels wrong. Making her a normal druid would have put her in line with many of the kings in the River Kingdoms. Adding 14 levels on her just makes her obscene for how mundane her actions are.

Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Caineach wrote:


** spoiler omitted **

I'm very tempted to click that spoiler button, but I'll try my best to restrain myself. I'm enjoying that campaign too much as a player to spoil myself now =).

I still don't get why get so worked up about that 14th-level thing. I see it's powerful yes, but to say it doesn't fit in the area is quite confusing. River Kingdoms has many npc's around 9th or 10th-level (at least one is a 10th level spell caster), and I'm pretty sure that the leader of Green faith is nearby, who's a 15th level druid...

Anyway, I think it's a small concern in a otherwise well-written entry. I really loved Vexing Spirit Lamp, and this is one of my favourites (Right there with Foulgrip Rangers and Riders of the Black Steppe =).

Cheliax

From reading your organization's description, it seems like the alignment entry would work better as CE or NE than CN, especially as that helps settle many of the "are these antagonists?" debates (although the aside in your "Public Perception" section is the only thing that brings ambivalence to that issue; in my opinion the rest of the submission reads antagonist all the way, and I applaud you for that).

I agree with the judges that the Claws and Eyes were a good entry here. That said, more idiosyncracies and flavor about the NPC leader would have worked better than giving her a set character level, which is something left out of nearly all of the organization write-ups I have read. Those things are best left out so that GMs can tailor the organizations to their specific campaigns (or they are included in modules, APs, or adventures where a stat block or CR is called for).

These are all just my opinions, and I must say that you are a good writer. For what it's worth this was one submission that was easy to read from start to finish, and the goals and modus operandi of your organization left little room for confusion.

Both your Round One and Round Two submissions have been solid, and even if they are a little rough-around-the-edges I think that if you emerge on the other side of this and make it to Round Three you will improve, so I have decided to vote on this organization this round.

Good luck, Mikko.


Sean K Reynolds wrote:


One, Golarion doesn't have many high-level creatures--the highest-level character in Katapesh is a 9th-level gladiator, and that's in a huge population center.

Hm. Where do the adventurers get the high level magical services (spells, equipment) from that are readily available in each bigger city?

By the standard settlement rules, each major population centre has to have several high level casters.

Katapesh has 200k souls. You can get 9th level spells there without long waiting periods. And the highest-level character in the city is a 9th level gladiator?

Are you serious?

Star Voter 2013

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Salama wrote:
Caineach wrote:


** spoiler omitted **

I'm very tempted to click that spoiler button, but I'll try my best to restrain myself. I'm enjoying that campaign too much as a player to spoil myself now =).

I still don't get why get so worked up about that 14th-level thing. I see it's powerful yes, but to say it doesn't fit in the area is quite confusing. River Kingdoms has many npc's around 9th or 10th-level (at least one is a 10th level spell caster), and I'm pretty sure that the leader of Green faith is nearby, who's a 15th level druid...

Anyway, I think it's a small concern in a otherwise well-written entry. I really loved Vexing Spirit Lamp, and this is one of my favourites (Right there with Foulgrip Rangers and Riders of the Black Steppe =).

Right, so you are putting the head of a new terrorist organization as ~4CR higher than the leader of the Green Faith, an established major religion in the world. Why don't they have more power? Why are their tactics so mundane?

Contributor

Hyla wrote:
Are you serious?

Yes.

Cheliax RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka FaxCelestis

Hyla wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:


One, Golarion doesn't have many high-level creatures--the highest-level character in Katapesh is a 9th-level gladiator, and that's in a huge population center.

Hm. Where do the adventurers get the high level magical services (spells, equipment) from that are readily available in each bigger city?

By the standard settlement rules, each major population centre has to have several high level casters.

Katapesh has 200k souls. You can get 9th level spells there without long waiting periods. And the highest-level character in the city is a 9th level gladiator?

Are you serious?

Scrolls.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this idea. I think a group like this could work really well. I’m just not sure that as written and presented they do quite work as a feasible organisation.

I agree that it was a misstep to list the leaders levels, and to make her the level she is, but in the author’s defence ... although the developers keep saying that Golarion doesn’t have many high level NPCs running around, there obviously are a bunch of high level spellcasters about making those major magical items for big cities and towns, plus every single AP has a BBEG with class levels of 15+ (or equivalent abilities) and generally a bunch of classed opponents in the last adventure or two who are in this 12 – 15 sort of level range.

If the author was intending this organisation to be the focus of a long campaign, with the organisation’s leader as the BBEG at the end, then the listed level is probably about right (or on the low side).

Good luck Mikko!

Qadira Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka Shadowborn

James Raine wrote:
Hyla wrote:


Hm. Where do the adventurers get the high level magical services (spells, equipment) from that are readily available in each bigger city?

Scrolls.

Which then begs the question: Who wrote all those scrolls?

Swerving back to the organization, the idea of a druidic organization with a "tear it all down and let it grow over" attitude doesn't bring any question to my mind whether they'd be considered antagonistic enough. This organization could easily be pitted against a party of PCs of lawful bent, or those set on defending their civilized homelands from attack.

Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

I like the name, the leader, the group's aims and the potential for alliance and opposition. So they are eco-freaks, why not considering who they are? And it may have been doen before in other games, but maybe not for Golarion, nor as simply as the Verdant Dawn. May the Logging consortium's sawblades be visited by rust monsters/oxide beasts/strange metal destroying beasts that may or may not have been created before or again...Nice work Mikko...


Cool idea, environmental guerilla fighters that subverts typical tropes of eco-terrorism to become something really interesting. Greenpeace meets Vietcong? I like it.

Dedicated Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

This group is fatally cliché. You did a lot of things right by making direct links to the region, getting into specific tactics and organizational details, etc... but druids vs. civilization is just too old an idea to work without some new twist to redeem it.

I found the spy network to be the most interesting part of your idea. Some stronger detail and innovation there could have redeemed the well-worn premise. Just what does this group need spies for, given that civilization is not too difficult to spot? Do they use spies within the hated cities to anticipate and flee reprisal? Do they engage in assassination of political and business leaders who plan to further encroach upon the wild? Do they introduce diseases, infestations and other blights of nature into towns to wipe them out? It's not that the spy network is any more inherently interesting than using sheer force, but it's a little bit fresher.

Anyway, good luck.

Dedicated Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

This org is EVIL,CE,NE,LE,don't matter. When you wipe out towns you are evil. This may work as a local group but its goals won't holdup world wide.


Shadowborn wrote:


Which then begs the question: Who wrote all those scrolls?

Exactly.

Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

Hmm, wouldn't that be a cool organisation - the scroll dealers of golarion? On a second thought...

Well, back to TOPIC, I like your organisation, your writing is fine with me and I could see myself using this in my campaign easily.

This puts you above many many of the other entries and while there are some that are more evocative I still think you delivered in a field that is basically unknown territory.


Okay, I haven't had time to go through and comment, but you're getting a vote, so now you're getting comments.

I like your work here because:
The name works, works very well even. And I tried to triple check it for present existence, because I'm paranoid. I'm sure I remember a recent futuristic RP I played in having a (some green, eco word) Dawn name. But well, can't find it.
The base idea works, even if it's seen before, it's a lot more interesting than another mercenary or merchant organization. Besides I think you described your organization better than most, so even if the idea is a little been there, done that, it's still a decent piece of work.

You probably need to work on your amazement factor, but you've got pretty much everything else down. Here's thinking you have the imagination for more amazement, if you try for a little less safe and well-known ground. I'd like to see that.

Best of luck!

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka Serpent

Voting's closed and I can (finally) open my mouth! :D

First of all, thanks to everyone who commented on my organization! All comments, good or bad, help me grow as a designer. Even the comments I don't 100% agree with are important because they help me understand that different people see things differently, and I have to be able to take that into account in my designs - I'm not designing these things only for my own amusement.

I'll try to address some of the biggest gripes about the organization.

"Level 14 is too high": Frankly, it is confusing how Golarion's canon seems to contradict itself... If Chief Elder Adaytrea was a big bad in an adventure path, her CR would be too low to be the final boss in the AP. And as has been pointed out, other organizations with high-level leaders exist in the canon. Also, dryads cannot change trees like socks, which means she cannot and will not do everything herself, which is also referred to in the text. At any rate, if I sent this organization to an editor, he could remove the level very easily. Anyway, I learned my lesson and will not make the same mistake again. :)

"Anyone who kills others without mercy is evil": It's good to remember that animals, fey, and other creatures of the wild make up the majority of this organization. To such creatures, killing creatures that have invaded their territory is neither good or evil, it's just a very natural part of life, a means of survival. Moreover, even "good races" kill creatures that destroy something that is sacred to them, no questions asked.

"Antagonistic druid/fey organizations have been done to death": I'm aware that there are many evil druid organizations, but none I'm aware of have the same goals, same modus operandi, same structure, and so on. Obviously, looking at how many judges and voters said my organization was cliche, I didn't succeed at making Verdant Dawn different enough from other antagonistic organizations with a nature theme. This is my biggest lesson to learn this round. As Luthia put it, I have to work on my amazement factor.

Thanks to everyone who voted for me! I hope I make it to round 3 so I can show I've learned from my mistakes. :)

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Mikko Kallio wrote:
"Level 14 is too high": Frankly, it is confusing how Golarion's canon seems to contradict itself... If Chief Elder Adaytrea was a big bad in an adventure path, her CR would be too low to be the final boss in the AP. And as has been pointed out, other organizations with high-level leaders exist in the canon....

I wanted to address this, because I've seen a number of folks bring it up. As a designer you need to separate in your mind what's been built into the campaign setting vs. what gets introduced in an adventure path. The campaign setting is far more static in the sense that it establishes and defines the world. Meanwhile, adventure paths are campaigns which are meant to move things forward. Over the lives of the PCs who go through those adventures, new threats evolve and arise. Those threats were also presumably becoming "more threatening" as the timeline of an AP moves forward. That's why they explore high-level NPCs and the actual campaign setting doesn't.

So, as a freelancer, you need to do your research about any implied boundaries in each product line a publisher is producing. For the campaign setting, Sean is quite correct in that they've intentionally capped the high-level "leaders" of various nations, cities, and organizations. You need to follow that lead with your own work when you're adding to it. Meanwhile, if you're writing for the adventure paths, you need to understand those "stories" are meant to move in synch with the PCs as they advance in level. You want them to encounter threats which are CR-appropriate. So, to serve the story's needs, you have a freer rein to explore high-level NPCs.

Is that contradictory? No. Not as much as people imagine it to be. Both design frameworks serve their purpose. And, as freelancers, we've got to recognize that and stay within the lines the Paizo developers have established.

Just my two cents,
--Neil

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka Serpent

Neil Spicer wrote:
So, as a freelancer, you need to do your research about any implied boundaries in each product line a publisher is producing.

This is a very good point, Neil. Put in that way, it totally makes sense.

I guess things like this - implied boundaries and unwritten rules - is what makes round 2 the toughest round in the contest. Like last year with the archetypes, we didn't know the judges' or the audience's expectations, and we didn't have any previous Superstar organizations to benchmark our designs against. Live and learn. :)

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

No problem. These are the kinds of things the contest is very good at hashing out. And, Sean needs to bring up those kinds of details as an educational thing, if nothing else. That particular detail might come across like a major critique, but that's not always the spirit in which each judges' commentary is given.


Neil Spicer wrote:

That's why they explore high-level NPCs and the actual campaign setting doesn't.

It doesn't? What about dozens of lvl 18-20 casters in Magic of the Inner Sea?

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

I'll have to let Sean speak to that. I'm not privy to the design parameters for Inner Sea Magic and I didn't work on that product.


Some good points about working within stated & implied boundaries.

So do I have this right? Campaign setting NPCs set the power balance of the world, the adventure paths are allowed to be higher level in order to provide credible world threats, and players can level even higher in order to meet said threats?

That makes sense, but it does force players into retiring at the end of an adventure path (otherwise the PCs trivialize the power balance defined by the campaign setting NPCs).

Andoran Dedicated Voter 2013

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

I would conjecture that allowing 6th through 9th level spells in metropolises, is an implication that there are NPC's who can cast such spells in those cities.


Andrew Christian wrote:
I would conjecture that allowing 6th through 9th level spells in metropolises, is an implication that there are NPC's who can cast such spells in those cities.

Cities are rarely self-sufficient though. Trade could be strong with other regions, adventurers may have sold off scrolls/spellbooks after a dungeon, or a wandering mage could have passed through and made a few bucks training spells.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013

This was the only Round 2 entry I wanted to see advance that didn't. I loved the whole modern day eco-terrorists vibe your idea had going on. Combine that with my love of wilderness adventure, the cool name you chose, and the spy network of fey and forest animals, and I was sold! Good job!

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka Serpent

Thanks Chad, I really appreciate that, especially coming from a fellow contestant!

Shadowborn and Hyla, I think I know where all those level 6-9 scrolls come from: the big bads in the APs! That's also explains how the boss monsters can afford all those magic items, citadels and so on! :D

Andoran Dedicated Voter 2013

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
shujan wrote:
Andrew Christian wrote:
I would conjecture that allowing 6th through 9th level spells in metropolises, is an implication that there are NPC's who can cast such spells in those cities.

Cities are rarely self-sufficient though. Trade could be strong with other regions, adventurers may have sold off scrolls/spellbooks after a dungeon, or a wandering mage could have passed through and made a few bucks training spells.

ok, but there still has to be more than one Wizard of 17th level who can cast those 9th level spells in Golarion. And if they aren't in the hugest cities (or in the greater metropolitan area) where are they? You can't tell me they are all traveling salesmen or recluses that live in towers on the highest impregnable mountain peaks.

If the spellcasting level is available, the NPC's have to exist somehow. Those spells can't just exist in a vacuum.


Andrew Christian wrote:


ok, but there still has to be more than one Wizard of 17th level who can cast those 9th level spells in Golarion. And if they aren't in the hugest cities (or in the greater metropolitan area) where are they? You can't tell me they are all traveling salesmen or recluses that live in towers on the highest impregnable mountain peaks.

If the spellcasting level is available, the NPC's have to exist somehow. Those spells can't just exist in a vacuum.

Of course they have to exist somehow. And somewhere. But that doesn't mean they must be sitting in every city waiting for a PC to wander in for training or to purchase a magical item. That would make for a boring one-dimensional world.

There are dozens of alternatives to this and nearly anything will be more interesting than "go to the local store". Just think a few answers up, pick your favorites, and don't forget to change it up every once in a while (because not all requests from the PCs are equal). That's the beauty of building a world... you get to use your own imagination to fill in the blanks.


Mikko Kallio wrote:

Verdant Dawn

Alignment: CN
Headquarters: Viridian Grove, Wilewood, River Kingdoms
Leader: Chief Elder Adaytrea
Structure: militant protectors of nature
Scope: regional

Disclaimer:

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

Important Note:
There’s a difference between late and fashionably late. The former is what most other beings manage. The latter is what sophisticated, (very advanced) succubi manage.

First impressions always being important, do members of this organization wear nifty robes or uniforms when out on formal business?
No indication is made of any kind of robes or uniform. Being 'civilization is BAAAAD!!!!' types, they probably walk around naked or covered in mud or something, which might look reasonably good on the occasional well-muscled male specimen. It would, however, be a problem for any succubus as it would place her in the awkward situation of having to choose between 'toning down' even more than usual or being constantly gawped at.

Does membership of this organisation seem likely to involve regular tea or dinner parties or other appropriate social occasions?
Dinner parties and afternoon tea are some of the finest things civilization has to offer. Consequently, I can't really imagine members of this organization engaging in such activities except in an entirely vulgar gate-crashing other people's events manner.

Is the cost of being a member of this organisation likely to be acceptable to a succubus?
No membership cost is indicated, but a succubus probably wouldn't want to join, given that this group professes to wanting to flatten some of the best things in life and that they're led by a dryad. (Working for fey of any description - even dryads - is always a dubious idea at best.) However, see 'Other comments' below.

Other comments?
Aaaah good. A lunatic (well slightly more so than 'usual') fringe organization of druids. I often love these groups, because it's so easy to mess with their members' minds. The poor darlings can't cope with the fact that civilization is entirely natural. Look at ant nests, termite mound, or bee hive. Social hierarchies, farming animals, farming crops, building structures (even geometric ones in some cases), dancing...
It's almost always fun, reducing druids like these to a frothing helpless rage with such points, because they know you're right and if they try and put a fist in your face they're admitting the unbearable intellectual hypocrisy of their own situation...
Not that a succubus would want to actually sign-up with a group like this except to really annoy them.

Rating:
Organizations are not being rated except under special circumstances.

Congratulations:
Congratulations on making the top cut in Round 1. Obviously at this point it’s now apparent that you won’t be progressing any further this time around, but that means you can at least now relax, sit back, pick up a voodoo doll of your least favourite arch-devil, and start sticking silver pins in…

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