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+10 skill bonuses


RPG Superstar™ 2012 General Discussion


I noticed quite a few places being called out for +10 bonuses to skill checks. I just wanted to notice that I've found at least one item in the CRB, which has a +10 (Elixir of Hiding, +10 to Stealth for no less than 1 hour, for only 250 gp). This has no relevance to me, personally, but I believe it should be mentioned that there is a reason to believe that +10 is perfectly okay, it being CRB and all.

That said, I perfectly understand them being called too high. I don't like them either. And I do think the majority of items has a +5 or less rather than a +10.

That said, if it's as strongly disapproved of as I seem to be getting a feeling of, I think it would be good to have that presented somewhere visible to make the mistep more avoidable, as there it exists in the CRB.

Just a loose thought...

Andoran Dedicated Voter 2013

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

Well, and the other issue is, before 3.5, 3.0 had a lot of +30 skill bonuses.

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

I think that's one of the things they use to see if designers have done their homework and have a sense of game balance, Luthia. Obviously it's not an immediate disqualifier, since the gloves did get in to the Top 32, but it was noted as something to be careful of.

I don't think the judges can give us every single thing that can't work (even though they tell us a TON), or how are they going to tell who has the ability to become a good game designer and not. (Plus, the news is out there now; anyone who does their research for future years should know to avoid +10 in most instances.)

Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Permanent skill bonuses from items should be +5 (the robe of eyes is the exception at +10, but it costs 120,000 gp).

Temporary skill bonuses from items can be +10 (all five of the Core Rulebook wondrous items of this type are +10).


Sean K Reynolds wrote:

Permanent skill bonuses from items should be +5 (the robe of eyes is the exception at +10, but it costs 120,000 gp).

Temporary skill bonuses from items can be +10 (all five of the Core Rulebook wondrous items of this type are +10).

Well, I suppose that sums it up nicely.

I guess this will be available to people who do their research, in the future.

I simply came to think that it might discorage someone a bit from an otherwise good idea.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

You can also look at it from a statistical perspective. If you factor in a +10 bonus to a skill someone already has a reasonable number of ranks in (i.e., average, not simply one every level), that +10 is probably going to be enough to grant them an auto-success vs. whatever DC a character is facing in a given CR-appropriate encounter. If you invest that kind of bonus as a permanent skill bonus in an item, it pretty much means they're always going to succeed at that skill.

That's why temporary bonuses are okay. In a consumable item, you get that auto-success capability in an item that'll last you a limited amount of time. As such, it's not game-breaking. Could someone stock up on a lot of those items to ensure auto-success with that skill? Sure. But it'll still cost them additional resources for it...resources they could be spending on something else.

Meanwhile, if you examine the items that grant a +5 permanent skill bonus, statistically, they're not usually granting you an auto-success level of expertise in a given skill. They are considerably increasing your ability to succeed. Just not automatically. Hence, it's more reasonable to put these types of bonuses as a permanent feature of certain items. And, when you include something like that, it's often that item's featured ability. My own personal rule of thumb is to target a +5 skill bonus if I want to make it the reason that item was crafted.

On the other hand, if I've got some other primary power in an item, but want to also include a bonus to a somewhat relevant skill, I'll drop back to a +2 skill bonus in most circumstances. That way, it's the equivalent of about half-a-feat...or a trait. And that's about what you'd want a lesser ability of that nature to be.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013 aka nate lange

there is a precedent for +10 items (slick and shadow armor enchants in the CRB go as high as a permenant +15)- but that doesn't mean they're 'superstar' quality. there have been quite a few items from the CRB called out in various forums and identified as things that would not make round 2. the bottom line (imo) is that you could make a permenant +10 item and complain that there's a precedent for it when it gets rejected or you could listen to the judges helpful advice and make a better item that has a higher chance of advancing. (in the interest of honesty i did recently suggest using a +10 bonus to someone on the practice board, but it was for a single use item...)

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

One thing I've gathered from this year's contest that had never really sunk in with me in all the previous years (yeah, I'm a little slow) -

The Wondrous Item requires a very broad knowledge of the game system, in some ways even moreso than the other rounds. It's not enough to just have a cool idea for an item, you've got to know how it's going to interact with the existing rule system.

You see a lot of comments about seemingly small points, like +5 vs +10, or about how this spell should be a requirement instead of that spell, or about the action economy, and so on and so on. Deep, broad mechanical knowledge of the game system is required.

Then you have something like round 2, the organization round. That's going to bring out a need for a deep, broad knowledge of the campaign world. How does this organization fit within the world? Does it match the flavor? How does it interact with existing organizations? Does it add a dimension to a segment of the world?

All that in addition to being cool and interesting.

These first two rounds in particular have a hidden test component to them, testing your knowledge of the game system and the campaign world.

Like I said, I'm slow, but it's finally sinking in...

Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

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

I like this, it's going into the template write up for sure, thanks for this - I just struggled with the "order of 10 magnitude" issue in my practice thread, a penalty imposed on Survival checks by pursuing trackers over a limited distance.

As it's a consumable, over a limited distance, it probably counts as "temporary".

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Clouds Without Water wrote:
These first two rounds in particular have a hidden test component to them, testing your knowledge of the game system and the campaign world.

All of them pretty much have that. And really, they all build toward the many different elements you'll need to tap in crafting the adventure that's at the end of this rainbow. Of course, you can also go on to eventually write for Paizo products like one of the beastiaries (hardbound or AP line) or a campaign setting product, and you'll get to re-use some of these lessons, as well.

Sitting out 2008 when I didn't make the cut, but sticking around to watch what each round entailed, is what enabled me to realize the exact same lesson you've just articulated. And, in 2009, I consciously tailored my choices and my strategies to do everything I could to address what each round is designed to test. That's because I figured if I could demonstrate I'd learned the lesson the judges would be measuring me against, I'd likely earn their recommendation. And, as long as I could do that while also bringing something awesome to win over the voting public, I'd have a couple of different factors working for me to earn everyone's support and keep me advancing.

I think that strategy worked out pretty well. ;-)

Thus, would-be competitors (and current competitors) who can look beyond the actual assignments from round-to-round and realize the lessons they're teaching...or the material they're testing you on...generally have a leg up if they can then apply that knowledge to their design choices. It's part of the game within the game you have to consider as a competitor in the contest if you want to advance. Make no mistake, though. Your primary objective should always be to bring something awesome and innovative in your designs. You need that first. But, if you can select a specific awesome design that also directly meets the challenge of each test, that's something that can separate you from the pack and build enough momentum to carry you really far.

Food for thought,
--Neil

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Teth Evik

I completely agree on two points here. The first, +10 is huge. Especially in the case of Gloves, Charlatan. Giving that bonus to Sleight of Hand auto succeeds, and while that's cool, its not really fun. Checks with static DCs are already failing to keep up with ever more powerful characters. This is what circumstance modifiers are for, but trying to defend a design by saying others (GMs) need to accommodate it is a sure sign that the designer needs to rethink, not his audience.

Second, the challenge within a challenge idea, I feel its crucial in this competition, for what that's worth. Perhaps it makes sense to think of it as seeing entries in all dimensions: execution, imagination, application, appeal. In fact, it was precisely that epiphany which led me to completely abandon my organization concept 13 hours before deadline. The thought punched me in the face while wrestling this boondoggle of an idea into something submittable, and it dawned (heh, just before dawn) on me it wasn't going to win anyone over.

Was I nervous about that choice? To this very moment.
Am I certain it was the right choice? Completely.

No, it wasn't much fun scrambling to create, research, and write the new idea in such short time, but such mistakes make for a stronger person, and perhaps a stronger designer.


I noticed this year that most of the items that make the top 32 are innovative in the fact that they invoke uses of the rules in unique ways. Like the dragonflies that draw AOOs which allow for greater mobility and less riskfull options in combat. Add good writing and rules knowledge to create a superstar recipe.

After looking at the winners submissions, I see why mine was considered a SIAC and SAK. I thought some of the items were boring but most all were designed very well.

Another lesson I learned from last year is to keep your items within set standards of the Pathfinder Core Rulebook. Like item pricing, anything over 200,000 GP limit of the book is likely to get rejected unless it just rocks. Same with skill bonuses, if it is over the informal set standards of the core rulebook, then it better have good and flavorful justification for breaking those standards

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

Echoing Neil's words, there's also a certain 'trap' element in each round. You have to balance playing the round's strengths vs trying something innovative.

I beleive (said in Larry the Cable Guy voice*) that if my monster entry had been as light hearted as the tankard I'd not have advanced. Likewise I went for the caltrop golem with a specific goal in mind. I missed part of the goal (error on the bleed rules) but did well enough to get through.

If you got through the first round with a trenchcoat of holding then the second round with a Taldoran Speakeasy, then the third round with a mute fae with cleptomaniac tendancies, then the next round with an encounter that was a chase scene through an orchestra (complete with piano and harp playing) and finally your module proposal was a band of four adventurers trying to keep the country safe from an invading nation, while placating your rich patron... Well you might be seen as a one note *honk* writer.

*

Spoiler:
aside, does anyone beside me always think of the Redneck Comedy tour when the new weight watchers ads come on. "I'm Jennifer Hudson. I believe..."

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

Clouds Without Water wrote:

The Wondrous Item requires a very broad knowledge of the game system, in some ways even moreso than the other rounds. It's not enough to just have a cool idea for an item, you've got to know how it's going to interact with the existing rule system.

You see a lot of comments about seemingly small points, like +5 vs +10, or about how this spell should be a requirement instead of that spell, or about the action economy, and so on and so on. Deep, broad mechanical knowledge of the game system is required.

This is one of the reasons why the wondrous item is such a great task for round 1. We can tell when a designer "gets" (or at least seems to get) those considerations. That is a big plus for you if we think you understand those things.

Star Voter 2013

You know, that's not something I've ever considered about the competition before.

I say to myself, "I'm a good writer, and good designer, what's wrong?" but then, I'm not quite playing the game.

Much like the task versus the goal (judge wondrous items vs. find superstar designers) OUR goal isn't just to show that we can design a good wondrous item - it's to show that we're a breakthrough designer, through a single item.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

RonarsCorruption wrote:
...OUR goal isn't just to show that we can design a good wondrous item - it's to show that we're a breakthrough designer, through a single item.

BINGO!

Thus, the primary question isn't just whether you can design a competent wondrous item or not. It's also what kind of breakthrough concept you can examine or touch upon that indicates you've got the potential to be a Superstar designer. Yes, technical skill and merit in applying the rules of the game and writing well are important. But it's that creative spark and ability to find those breakthrough moments in your designs that make people stand up and take notice. That's when they don't just view you as a game designer. They view you as a Superstar designer.

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

Here's a tangentially related question -- was there a reason that several categories were prohibited from the Round 3 monsters?

I don't think I was likely to pick any of them anyway, but I was just wondering today whether those specific categories are considered to have slightly easier/different design elements than the ones we were permitted to use.

Or was it just a sort of random set omitted to keep the contestants on our toes.

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

Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
Here's a tangentially related question -- was there a reason that several categories were prohibited from the Round 3 monsters?

My round 3 idea was going to be an Orvian ooze...

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Jacob W. Michaels wrote:

Here's a tangentially related question -- was there a reason that several categories were prohibited from the Round 3 monsters?

To me it felt the excluded categories were a bit easier to "go gonzo" with.

Or from a slightly different perspective, categories where it's easier to let the category itself be providing a lot of the "cool" rather than the designer.

Star Voter 2013

Clouds Without Water wrote:
...categories where it's easier to let the category itself be providing a lot of the "cool" rather than the designer.

That sounds likely.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Aelryinth

So the lesson of Round 3 is:

1) Ability to exactly follow a template
2) Ability to adjust your rocking monster to a specific CR level, in essence showing you understand how to advance a monster up and down the CR scale for inclusion in any module.
3) Have a monster that is also cool to visualize and DM's would not mind running.
4) Possibly stretch the definitions of what are possible with monsters.
5) Not devolve to specific types of monsters, i.e. place restrictions on what you can and cannot design.

Hopefully I'll touch all five areas!

==Aelryinth

Andoran Dedicated Voter 2013

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Clouds Without Water wrote:
Jacob W. Michaels wrote:

Here's a tangentially related question -- was there a reason that several categories were prohibited from the Round 3 monsters?

To me it felt the excluded categories were a bit easier to "go gonzo" with.

Or from a slightly different perspective, categories where it's easier to let the category itself be providing a lot of the "cool" rather than the designer.

Yeah, I kinda agree with this. Also, applying templates to create a "new" unique and innovative creature, is kinda lazy in my book. It isn't really new or innovative. Its just a different kind of "X".

So it seems the developers are specifically looking for a new creature, which is pretty cool. It should also really test the competitors mettle in regards to true creativity.

As for the types not allowed, I think Dragon type creatures aren't really innovative. You create a lizard-like creature with a breath weapon and some other tangentially related abilities (and they are in some fashion probably related to some element). Oozes just aren't really dynamic. Some can be kinda interesting, and there is room to do something with them, just how innovative is creating a new non-intelligent glob of goo?

So I'm starting to get pretty excited about seeing what new and innovative creatures the top 16 can come up with!

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

Bob Drouin wrote:
So the lesson of Round 3 is:

No, the lesson of round 3 is make a rad CR 7 monster. And then execute it showing you know what a freelancer needs to know--how to use the rules and the formatting.

It's really that easy. But doing the second part well wont help you if you do the first part poorly.

In the end, it has to be a cool monster.

How do I define cool monster? That's easy. A monster that I want to build an encounter or adventure around. If I get inspired by your entry to throw it/them at the PCs, then you win.

Some people draw maps and then wonder what monsters to put in the rooms. Others, like me, crack the MMs (or Bestiary these days) and get inspired about certain monsters and build an adventure to suit them. I love doing that. And lots of designers do that. A great monster description inspires me to think of adventures. Which is why I never warmed to 4E in part, because their design philosophy was that all of that stuff was taken out of monsters. "If it's not relevant to a short battle encounter, why even give the monster the power?" the 4E designers would say. I say "phooey!" Monsters are inspiration for adventure. They are ideas for conflict and for plots and schemes and plans. I dont care if a monster's ability never sees play on the battlemat if it inspires me to understand the monster and want to use it against the PCs. Is a leucrotta's voice mimic ability really going to come into play in the encounter (maybe in the surprise round)? Probably not. But will it explain how it lured the NPC there that the PCs need to rescue? Yes it does! I love that stuff.

That is what I want to see in the monsters this round.

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

Clark Peterson wrote:


How do I define cool monster?

(great stuff)

Well, this certainly makes me feel better about some of the design choices I made in this round. Can't wait to see your comments.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Hodge Podge

So all I need to win this competition for sure... is a +10 Hat of Creative Writing...

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Aelryinth

Heh.

I put in the subtle, non-combat stuff, and got reamed for it.

#4 definitely didn't work for me, while CLark is focusing on #3 for big picture stuff.

I'll go into more detail tomorrow, when voting closes.

==BOb Drouin

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

I don't think that is a good understanding of what your monster was criticized for.

Neil, Ryan and I (me, specifically, 4 times) thought the "horror from the void" was too stale and safe for Superstar.

We also thought the core power--the cillia--as detailed was not superstar level. It's "attack all in range each round, automatic hit, make a save" was too much.

You didn't have a superstar concept, and then you added to that stale concept an over-powered main power that other monsters don't have.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Aelryinth

Oh, I'm not detracting from mechanical problems with the monster, Clark.

As for 'stale and safe'...well, by now you've been in the business for twenty years. There really isn't anything fresh and new, it's all in taking old tropes and repackaging them to be palatable. You didn't find it palatable.

Horrors from space are usually evil masterminds. My Cancer is effectively an aberrant slave race sent ahead by greater masters to scourge the way for those behind, and possibly raise an army of random killers (gibbering mouthers) which it doesn't even control, and prefers to eat instead (so not a spawn maximizer). In between, it gets enslaved by terrestrial aberrations who bend its gifts and dark knowledge to their own purposes. All the fluff and several build aspects of the creature point to it, especially its Spellcraft and lack of resistance to the spells of other, more powerful and controlling aberrations...or attacking flumphs (who are aberrations), as the case might be. But nobody figured out why I would DO that. All fluff and deeper story set-up.

I set it up as the 'anti-flumph'...big, stupid, hungry, enslaved by greater members of its own kind easily, yet possessed of MANY dark secrets. Remember the creatures that fell on Golarion in the second book of the dark elf AP? I mentally characterized them as the "Green Heralds of the Tapestry", figuring the unique star metal would also burn a particular color that the flumphs and star-gazers are also looking for. There would be 8 'Herald' races based on the colors of their starfalls, and they are what the flumphs are always watching the stars for...

It's certainly not the feral monster from beyond, or the unthinkable mastermind...it's got an Int score of 6. It's stupid, hungry, easily enslaved and easily used. That whole comment of Neil Spicer and the improved Invisibility that you pounced on was really wounding...being invisible and attacking doesn't penalize a Reflex save at all (flat footed only applies to AC), and it didn't do any additional damage, nor get any extra attacks (compare to, say, Rogue/8). Plus, its natural Stealth modifier would be like -2, and it's got Unnatural Aura...you can feel it coming from 60' away, and the direction. It's almost impossible for it to surprise anyone or anything, invisible or not. And that's not even counting the aura that makes a spellcaster's brain start gyrating (gee, there might be something around which does that...time for a Knowledge check)! Being invisible basically gave it a miss chance if you swung at it, that was it...and fighting ANYTHING that is Improved Invisible does that. That mage would be much better casting Imp Invis on the hillgiant with the large falchion that can turn Power Attack into big hits/crits and one or two hit all the no-dex creatures he can smack with basically the same reach...and who the party will basically walk into, triggering AoO's, if he just stands in place.

But all that fluff aspect of it got missed. I put a lot of thought into that....I wasn't trying to be safe or stale or anything like that. I was going for the fences. Backstory, theme, filling a new niche, able to be expounded upon. Big picture stuff. Not stale, in my mind.

As for the mechanics of what I made, well, that's going to wait until tomorrow. I'm not in agreement on several points, but it was the judge's call. (tips hat) It was too complex, it got shot down.

I think I intro'd too much stuff...I was swinging. There wasn't anything out there quite like it, and it didn't take. (shrugs) Them's the breaks. I did the math, and hoped it would carry over.

Next year, I won't be so radical if I do it again. You considered it safe and stale, I most certainly didn't, but that's all a matter of viewpoints.

:) I have no hard feelings, I just learned what works and what doesn't! KISS, and I was the S.
========

BTW, I have the original Rappan Athuk modules and I am definitely an old schooler, so keep up the good work! I regret I had cash flow problems during your 3.5 heyday and couldn't support you more, but I'm building up to get your Tsar books when they are compiled into one...or are they already? I have limited space, so I don't want to buy multiple books if I can help it.

==Bob Drouin

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