|Maurice de Mare RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter aka Darkjoy|
|Kerney Star Voter|
|MicMan Dedicated Voter|
|Neil Spicer RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor|
I think it's a good idea, unfortunately it's only 1/3-1/2 done.
all in all good idea pitch, but a half done org. isn't superstar, it's a GM project i progress.
If you go to the next round make sure to finish before submitting :)
Have to concur with many of the others about this reaching too far. Basing it in Kaer Maga is solid, but it should probably be contained in or around there. There they actually have a reasonable shot at pulling off their theme(and perhaps to a lesser degree in Absolom, which has had hobgoblins on jury duty). Even with the gnome-logic, the name still feels too modern and obvious.
That said, kudos for tackling one of the themes that's unfortunately still a lightning rod in the community. :) Personally, I like the con job hidden in this, one that preys on the "normal folk" and any "monsters" that are genuinely seeking protection and a better life.
The backbone of the idea here could be refined and developed further, while a lot of the details probably need to be dialed back to fit into Golarion more organically. Never mind the naysayers that say the concept just won't work in Golarion. It can, but it's going to take more work.
I think it still needs work, but I hope it makes it through this round! It would be nice to see the underlying themes here finally get some representation, and it would show that there are gamers that want to see this stuff explored.
Clark Peterson wrote:
It's a way to play the game at least. Just wish so many would stop pushing it as the only way to play.
Exactly! D&D/Pathfinder are Table Top ROLE PLAYING Games, not Table Top Hack n' Slash. If you want that, I know a LOT of video games for $20 that would entertain you. Hell, I own several of them. I would love for this organization to be implemented in my Kingmaker group. The other players in my Kingmaker group kill everything they see. I don't, in fact, just recently, I managed to persuade a giant to aid us in defense of our kingdom while the others jut wanted EXP. Blood thirsty bastards, every one of them.
On another note, while others keep saying it's "too far-reaching" I think otherwise. Simply because, at what point is an organization allowed to be "far-reaching"? We don't know how long the organization as been around, perhaps decades, perhaps centuries. Golarion is still being fleshed out, so we can't let something like time be a factor in our decisions.
If the MRA had been formed in the last few decades, or maybe even century, I could see the global claim as too far-reaching. But if it'd had longer than that? I don't know, I think it's possible. Look at how fast it takes for an organization to rise to power now days. It doesn't take an organization centuries to have chapters or "guild halls" around the globe. Granted, we have advanced technology, but at the same time, they have magic.
Clark Peterson wrote:
They also call that playing Murdering Hobos :)
I admit that I cringed when I read the name, but Sebastian drives a point home that it's coming from a gnomish perception with the doppelganger trying to pull off the con to which people would hem-haw the name of the organization. "Are you kidding me? Like I'm going to take THAT seriously?"
It's a damn shame that Red Dwarf already took the best organization name for this: The Committee for the Liberation and Integration of Terrifying Organisms and their Rehabilitation Into Society.
But those wearied adventurers and some of those monsters out there with a little bit of intelligence to them ... sometimes they can make interesting bed-mates. It'd be like some Tea Party folks getting some solidarity with the Occupy movement on certain grounds and running with it. And these cells and chapters popping up all over the place around the region because this one gnome started making some sense. But eventually, someone has to organize this group to give them some regional legitimacy. In comes Cornelius to play the reluctant, but eventually willing hero and face of this movement. And eventually, the decision falls to him to get his capos out to the cells to organize and kick back up the funding.
But remember when I say kick back - because this is a pyramid scheme con game. This is pure Manchurian Candidate. They're sending out their own equivalent of this message to the populace and people are beginning to slowly buy in - from all different sorts of classes of society. It's time to end the class warfare between the accepted races and the non-accepted races.
And Cornelius? Cha-ching!
It's pretty brilliant, actually. Perhaps some polish here and there to better clarify the goals of the organization, but I'm quite liking it and while some folks may rail with their opinion that it's too modern in its scope ... then guess what; you're right. It's currently in the public psyche.
So yeah, you're definitely getting my vote, Mike. Good luck!
Friend, if your party is all hack-n'-slash and killing off everybody they meet, your solution is not a doppleganger gnome pretending to advocate for monsters' rights.
The reason being, (a) you're trying to solve a difference of play styles by forcing the issue in-game, and (b) they'll kill him off as soon as they meet him.
Well, congratulations again, and good luck.
This one is meeting some resistance. Your item wasn't the best, but... I liked the idea. I'm the same situation here.
This could have been a neat idea, it could really... but sorry to say, you don't quite give me enough motivation. Sadly, for me, the main reason is that I'd have to beat my PCs into opposing these guys. Several of my main players will literally fight to rescue kobolds, goblins etc. Hell, one of them wants to play a kobold 90% of the time, no matter how many times I mention it being "really not a good idea here". Evil PCs might kill these guys... if the were racist evil. The rest of my PCs would probably ally with them, or try to correct their mistakes (without opposing them), or try to manipulate them. Or try to make them protect the recent favourites: dinosaurs and dragons. As you see, I'm out of way to make this the antagonists. They're just too friendly minded and yet funny-weird. Exactly the thing my players will respond well to, unless I tell them to actually create "slightly racistic" characters. And they'll hate me for that. Such group never work, because I'll never get all of them to play humans in the same campaign. I've tried.
That said, I'll probably steal it for an allied organization. I just think you shot a little past the goal here. I need a lot more antagonism. This is just kind of... cute. I'll probably end up having a dozen "rights of the kobolds", "right of the dragons" and "rights of the dinosaurs" organizations founded by my players, if they hear about this.
At the end of it, damn it, but I want to like you ideas, you just execute them too little for me. I need more. The ideas are so very fine. I want to have a place for them. But they just aren't what I need here. You're still under consideration for a "good idea" vote... if one of my votes wander of and can't find something else to do. This is the last one you'll be getting on that basis though. I'll need to see a VERY solid monster.
Good luck further on.
Mike, I know my previous posts have been harsh, but your entry has clearly struck a chord with many readers. Good for you :) I wanted to offer some constructive criticism focused on your writing style - that doesn't get as much attention in this contest, but it's incredibly important. I think certain elements of writing style can be a huge help getting across the concept of your work clearly and powerfully. I'll also touch upon how I think the intense divisiveness of this entry could have been avoided by your writing choices.
By way of introduction, I suggest you read two pages by Orson Scott Card, describing three questions that readers constantly, unconsciously, ask while they read. Card's talking about fiction and particularly about character, but his advice applies here as well. In brief, he says that readers approaching a new piece of work must have some basic questions addressed at all times. Those questions are (my words, paraphrasing Card): "Huh?" - do I understand what's going on?; "Yeah, right" - is this plausible, and "So what?" - why should I care?. In light of that, let's look at your entry. I'm going to take it pretty much line by line, and I'm going to try to explain my own reaction to the entry as we go along - so you'll be able to see whow your words help create the perception I form as I read.
Mike Welham wrote:
When a doppelganger killed and replaced gnome adventurer Cornelius Flynn, it set upon a scheme to convince the world at large that monstrous humanoids deserved inclusion in society.
This is your tagline - you've managed to lead with a succinct, one-line description of what your organization is all about. Notice, though, that this describes the what but not the why. That's fine for a tagline - it immediately elicits interest; the reader wants to find out how this unusual premise came about. The problem is, the reader's asking a lot of questions, and you're not answering them yet:
The real difficulty here, I think, is that you devote very little attention to answering these questions. Note how the next few lines don't answer these questions - they provide more detail on what gets done, but still no why, no explanation, no justification - and no answers. For this reason, many are left with their initial impression - that the entry is, indeed, implausible, and that they are correct not to care about it.
Mike Welham wrote:
Flynn searched out other doppelgangers and recruited well-meaning, former adventurers grown weary of their lives of slaughter.
Note how this idea is presented in an incomplete form. He recruited them - and then what did he do with them? Recruited them for what purpose; in what capacity? You don't tell us; you move on to something else.
Mike Welham wrote:
The Monster Reformation Alliance spread from Flynn’s home in Kaer Maga to other cosmopolitan cities where citizens would be more receptive to their message of coexistence. Monsters have also joined the Alliance to make a show of their worth to society.
Again, the ideas are incomplete. What has spread - the ideas? The operatives? What effect does this "spreading" have? Monsters have joined to make a show - WHY do monsters want to make such a show?
It's important to recognize that now many readers are sunk deeply into the "huh?" and "yeah, right" modes. You're repeatedly offering snippets of information that build upon your concept, but you're not addressing the fundamental skepticism that's natural towards your concept - you're not even acknowledging it. So the response grows worse. Ryan read this far and gave up. You can't rely on being able to answer stuff later - the reader might not get that far, or might be developing a negative frame of mind.
Cornelius Flynn heads the Alliance, but he gives his lieutenants plenty of autonomy to handle missions as they see fit.
What missions? What kind of "missions" do these people go on?
He asks that they set aside 20 percent of any treasure they obtain,
Who are "they" - the lieutenants? Do they obtain treasure while handling missions? This isn't clear - you're hand-waving here, but I don't understand the details well enough to connect what you're trying to get across with any concrete image.
In larger cities plagued by monsters, such as Absalom, trusted Alliance veterans have opened small chapters with Flynn's blessing.
That's an interesting sentence structure - it's implying a causal relationship; cities "plagued by monsters" are somehow better for chapters than other cities. Unfortunately, the phrasing leaves this connection very ambiguous. Does "plagued by monsters" mean they suffer lots of attacks? If so, wouldn't those citizens be very suspicious of "reformed" monsters? Or maybe you mean these cities have lots of monsters as citizens (or hidden dwellers), hence it's "plagued" in the eyes of monster-haters? Unfortunately, it's just not clear.
Also, what do these chapters DO? You've described their existence - but without an explanation about their significance, that's nothing but name-dropping. So that's another "huh" response...
Finally, various monsters cooperate with the organization to put on an air of civility.
OK, I want to draw your attention to something odd - this line, "put on an air of civility," seems to imply that monsters are only faking being nice. That's not the odd part. The odd part is that this is the first place you've implied that. Surprising, isn't it? But look back - up until this point, marking the halfway point of the entry, this could just as easily have been "earnest group of monsters tries to convince people that they're really nice guys," as what you were going for ("manipulative group of monsters tries to delude people into misguided sympathy"). And that's a very clear sign that your entry, thus far, has maybe not focused enough on making its central concept clear.
Flynn and his inner circle simultaneously seek to gain easy access to hoards of treasure accumulated by their monstrous charges and pull off the most dangerous con game on the population of Golarion.
This is an interesting twist. But look and you'll see something strange - this is the only line in the whole entry that refers to this twist. You could drop this line, and the whole entry would still make perfect sense - possibly more than it does now. When you spot something like that, it might be a hint that that line or idea is poorly integrated - that it either needs to be woven more deeply into the entry, or else taken out completely.
What's particularly problematic here is that this line seems, I think, intended to answer the "why" questions plaguing the entry, the "yeah right" and "huh" responses I've described so far. Does it do that? Well, it gives Flynn a motive, so that's helpful. But it's very very briefly described, and it's hard to understand what's going on. Additionally, this explanation has its own "huh?" and "yeah right" responses, which go unaddressed. So, in the future, when you know how you're answering the reader's questions, make sure that answer does its job. To do that, it needs to be clear, it needs to be prominant, and it needs to not raise more problems than it solves.
By convincing people that adventurers only have their own agendas in mind when they needlessly slay intelligent creatures, the Alliance hopes to engender sympathy for beings society would normally regard as monsters.
This is back in line with the rest of the entry - the MLU, as Clark said. By rushing from the con game into this - the same stuff we had before the twist - you're undermining the twist, making it less effective and less clear. If their REAL goal is stealing treasure, why have we gone back to talking about rights?
Where enough Alliance members gather, they orchestrate events in order to grant one of their monstrous members a heroic reputation.
This, I think, is the only place you discuss what this organization actually does. This is the only place you're addressing the "so what" response in any way. It's cool, it's interesting, but this should be your lead - not buried in a single line towards the end.
Most people who have any awareness of the Alliance consider the group a bunch of lunatics who will bring about their own doom through good-intentioned but unwise meddling with deadly creatures.
An interesting point is that most readers will be asking themselves around now whether these "most people" are right. Unfortunately, your description doesn't answer that...
For appearance’s sake, the organization turns away creatures with low intelligence, overly monstrous creatures that cannot alter their appearance, and the utterly insane.
Note how the phrasing you've chosen puts the emphasis on the individual creatures the Association doesn't accept. Consider, instead, stressing their duplicity and concern for their positive image: "The Association is hardly as inclusive as it pretends - it firmly refuses membership to any creature without the intelligence or presentability necessary to maintain the group's public image."
Whew. :) That's it. I hope I've demonstrated to you how your writing here is leaving a lot of important details dangling, and that I've pointed out the reader responses you should be anticipating. I'm sorry if any of this has come out as harsh - I'm really hoping that you (and others) will find this piece helpful and illuminating.
All the best!
Do I think the "true motives" could have been further developed? Yes. That said, I find the concept intriguing and see a lot of potential in the hidden nature of this organization. I think more wordcount could have been spent on the inner workings of the group and less on the public front, but otherwise I like what I see.
Congratulations, I somehow ended up feeling that one of my votes should go here!
A lot of my voting in the organization round is based on seeing if there's actually a chance for real and truly exciting ideas here. This is were you won me over. You organization stands out. Your concept's not overly new, but it's creative and with the right spin, I can come to imagine that this organization can even turn antagonistic enough. I like it more for it's "suspicious ally" potential, but I can imagine it fulfilling the criterea for the round as well, as that's important too.
If you advance, I hope to see great improvement in:
You have room for a lot of improvement if you make it to the next round, but you're getting a vote of confidence anyway, with the belief that you have skill to make these ideas a little more smooth and well-written. This is probably the vote I'm giving away the most for "trust in the good idea, need to see improvement in the rest".
Best of luck.
Congratulations for the most hotly debated entry, there were the good, the bad and this one :)
"Monster Reformation Alliance, may I see your monster slaying licenses, puleeese?"
I can only shake my head at this entry that I perceive as a joke. I see no way to introduce this organisation into my campaign without being ridiculed by my players.
I actually could see this being the core of a VERY good idea. Seriously, has anyone really NOT seen this idea done in a home game at some point?!?
I agree that the presentation is rough, but I do like the idea quite a bit. And seriously, if the Unfettered is being considered, this is just as valid, and it doesn't monkey-wrench game mechanics to make it work. Besides, as pathfinder grows, we're seeing all kinds of monstrous races making their way into the mainstream, Dhampir, Suli, tengu, GOBLINS.
Goblins are ok, but a group of monsters trying to scam the populace isn't...?
You know what.... hey Mike-y, I LIKE IT!
You got my vote. Good luck!
That was quite the lesson, especially knowing I couldn't respond to any of the comments.
Neil, thank you for the constructive criticism. Once again, I went too far with my entry by globalizing it. My original thought was to just tie the Alliance to Kaer Maga, and I should have stuck with that. Coincidentally, by globalizing my organization, I limited myself in terms of space to describe the con angle more fully.
Clark, I apologize if this came across as a joke to you. I attribute that as a failure on my part to convey my idea properly. Actually, I meant for the name to be disarming, but I took it a little too far.
Sean and Ryan, I can only apologize to you as well. If I make it to the next round, I intend to redeem myself with my monster.
Patrick, Solnes, Crimson Jester, Mothman, Abraham Spalding, Spanky, Craig, Aberzombie, Ambrosia Slaad, Sinosaur, Tels, Light Dragon, BigNorseWolf, Caedwyr, Marv, Mr. Swagger, Oceanshieldwolf, poizen37, Aspertix, Adam Donald, Saint Trickery, Sebastian, Cassey, Wolfthulhu, Icyshadow, Mikaze, Urizen, Celestial Healer, Gruumash, and Nathan, thank you very much for your support of my organization, even if you didn't vote for it. Several of you dissected the organization thoroughly, and I could tell it resonated with you. I know I could have done a much better job exploring important aspects of the organization, and I hope you like my monster submission.
Darkjoy and Luthia, I'm glad I ended up getting your votes, and I hope to earn them next round, assuming I make it through.
OwlbearRepublic and Standback, thank you very much for the advice. Obviously, this resonated with you in a negative way, but I appreciate you stopping in to present a thorough breakdown of how I could have done better. I truly believe that just seeing "good reviews" does nothing to help one grow as a writer.
Thanks again, everyone! The Monster Reformation Alliance got a lot of discussion. To think I was worried about voters perceiving this as too boring... :)
I really hope you make it through to the next step. While you had some issues with clarity and design, I don't see that as a downside. You've been very creative with your ideas, that's something I really appreciate because sometimes, the things that get published can be very cliche, and the Paizo team has been leading the charge of new and innovative ideas. However, based off the Judges opinion of the MRA, it seems some of them may be a little close-minded about monster traditions.
I've bugged my GM a little to include your organization into our Kingmaker campaign, and if so, my character is totally going to join it.
People here seem to take themselves way too seriously. Long soliloquies about what's right for a game, execution of ideas, blah blah blah.
This is the ONLY entry I'll be voting for this year. When I sit down to play PF it is with friends who have a sense of humor. Is this a long standing threat? Not until the truth gets revealed, then the silly becomes horrific.
Thank you for having the balls to dabble a bit of the unbelievable into a Fantasy Game! It is appreciated.
EDIT: Lol, it seems I missed the cut off date for voting. My apologies.
Thank you, Tels! I appreciate you being one of my most ardent supporters this round, and I certainly hope I don't disappoint you in future rounds (assuming I make it). I'm also humbled that you like this enough to use it in your game.
Shane LeRose wrote:
It's the thought that counts! :)
Thank you for your support. I hope to impress you with my monster next round.
At least to the judges credit, they looked at this as "Can this organization be added to Golarion, without howls of outrage from the fans?" Considering half the responses were very negative, the answer was no. So, in the future, for this competition, I need to indulge my creativity but in a way that fits the game world.
If the Alliance makes it into your game, I'd love to hear how it went.
Mike Welham wrote:
..."Can this organization be added to Golarion, without howls of outrage from the fans?" Considering half the responses were very negative, the answer was no. So, in the future, for this competition, I need to indulge my creativity but in a way that fits the game world.
And this is one of the most important lessons any wannabe freelancer can ever take away from this contest.
Congratulations on advancing! I was very much hoping that you would advance- this was one of the few truly unique organizations that had a wide variety of potential plothooks.
As I stated earlier; one can either use the organization as:
I love politics and I love law in my games. Not all my players want that all the time, but this organization definitely suits a niche for some adventures. Like others state- it's maybe not something to have Global, but in a region- certainly. :)
That was intentional. I don't want people to read touchy feely crap like that and think it's an official statement.
So, you admit you have a touchy feely side? Interesting. Kind of like "there is still good in you, the Emperor hasn't driven it from you fully."
Just make sure to let me know which part is the touchy part. That part I want to stay away from.
You of all people should know...
IT'S A TRAP
Spanky the Leprechaun wrote:
read number six and start learning how to suck up to people. It's never too early.
Uncalled for. This is RPG Superstar. Bring the best you can here. I felt this really wasn't the best here. I feel more like it won because of who he is versus what he did.
If you'd like to vote based on popularity and sucking up go for it. But I will vote with what I feel is the best design. Which I feel this wasn't.
Dhampir, I'm not sure if it is your intention to insult the RPG Superstar voters, but that is what you are doing. Essentially, you are suggesting that the forum community does not know how to vote, and if we voted more like you this competition would be better off.
Don't question the motives of the people who voted in the competition. You don't know why they voted the way they did.
Turn your energy toward advocating for contestants you feel should win. Casting aspersions on people who voted for contestants you do not care for does not help anybody.