Paizo Top Nav Branding
  • Hello, Guest! |
  • Sign In |
  • My Account |
  • Shopping Cart |
  • Help/FAQ
About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
Pathfinder Society

Pathfinder Beginner Box

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Pathfinder Comics

Pathfinder Legends

RPG Superstar 2015

The Thanatopic Amphisbaena - Mike Welham

The Thanatopic Amphisbaena


Round 4 - Top 8: Design an Encounter With a Map

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

2 people marked this as a favorite.

EDIT FROM THE JUDGES: Please read this information about playtesting these encounters. We've also added hyperlinks from the encounter's short stat blocks to the full stat blocks in the PRD so you have the information you need to run the encounter.

The Thanatopic Amphisbaena
==========
Early in the war between Geb and Nex, Geb and his followers planned a surprise attack on Nex through the Shattered Range. Nexian spies discovered and reported Geb’s plans, spurring Nex to execute an unexpected counterattack of his own near the present-day border of the Mana Wastes. Nex called a pair of crimson worms (variant purple worms) to devour Geb and his army. After the worms consumed half the combatants, Geb subdued the threat by fusing the two creatures together in a way that each worm's stinger pierced the other's heart, killing both, but not before the conjoined creature’s death throes slew dozens more. Eventually, desert sands covered all evidence of the battle, rendering it a mere footnote from the Age of Enthronement.

Over 4,000 years later, Mehnit, an unusually intelligent Gebbite mummy with an affinity for handling snakes, arrived in western Geb searching far from the heart of the country for her favored reptiles. Mehnit viewed herself as an ascendant serpent goddess, given her gift of immortality and her ability to control snakes, specifically amphisbaenas that she viewed as the perfect representation of the dichotomy between life and death. She happened upon the partially uncovered, preserved corpse, and noted the colossal creature’s resemblance to a serpent. Her curiosity piqued by the creature itself and the susurrus emanating from the worm, she approached the odd war monument. At the mouth belonging to the exposed head, a handful of spectres—remnants of victims of the worms' onslaught millennia ago—greeted her. The spectres taught her the secret of the Wormheart, whispered to them over the ages by the slumbering twin hearts, which would grant her control over the engine of destruction. Without corporeal forms, the remaining spectres could not manipulate the Heart and animate the creature, while the skeletons and zombies still within the corpse lacked the intelligence to operate the Heart. Mehnit, with the aid of her mindless servants, cored out the two stingers—fragments of which she bound to her wrists so she too could inject venom in her foes. She then melded the individual hearts to create the Wormheart and a burgeoning connection with the creature. Upon discovering the second head resting beneath twenty feet of sand, she grew assured of her destiny to bring this Geb-crafted weapon to life. Flush with dreams of becoming a great leader and awakening Geb from its torpor, Mehnit retreated to the submerged head to study the full power of the Heart. Unbeknownst to her, the spectres taught her about the Heart in order to lead to the fused worm's destruction, thus freeing them from their millennia of imprisonment.

Mehnit spent years of study only to achieve basic control of the creature’s inner musculature. She nearly ended her research prematurely when she stepped on a spot inside the worm that triggered an involuntary convulsion, crushing a pair of zombies that accompanied her. After that incident, she meticulously mapped out all the locations of her new home's traps, sacrificing more of the mindless undead inhabitants. She then turned her focus to achieving mobility for the worm. Several weeks ago, Mehnit realized she required a closer connection to the Wormheart to gain greater control, so she gladly placed the necrotic organ within her own chest cavity. Shortly thereafter, she managed to move the creature's aboveground head; today she is certain she will finally get the worm's corpse to move fully. Only by navigating the mostly inert creature and finding the buried head can adventurers stop Mehnit from enacting her plans and bringing the foul creation to complete unlife.

The worm’s interior remains remarkably well preserved, due to Geb’s magic and the corpse’s burial beneath desert sands. The smell of rot pervades the passageways, although not strongly enough to cause nausea. The entirety of the corpse's interior is unlit. The cylindrical passageways throughout the worm are 15 feet wide and 15 feet high, but a handful of chokepoints force explorers to squeeze through dead flesh, and many places on the floor feature an unusual trap where the worm’s muscles squeeze together and crush nearby victims. Skeletons, zombies, and Mehnit’s snakes patrol the interior of the worm, while the spectres remain hidden but report any activity to Mehnit.

6. The Submerged Head (CR 6 or 9)
==========
After squeezing through another small hole, you reach a second head belonging to this eerily conjoined crimson worm. An altar replete with snake motifs stands near the toothy maw. Skeletons mill about, while a mummy standing at the altar frustratedly commands the worm to move.

This area benefits from an unhallow effect (for the low tier, no other spell effect applies; for the high tier, protection from energy (fire) applies). Entering this chamber through the choke point requires squeezing (refer to Pathfinder Core Rulebook 193). The last character going into the worm's head faces a haunt (detailed below).

Creatures: Mehnit has invested too much in her dreams of power—and she is too close to achieving her goal—to let this inconvenience thwart her. She shouts for the skeletons to attack, while her amphisbaena (or amphisbaenas, at the high tier) follows. The front (or only, for the low tier) row of skeletons steps forward 5 feet in order to trigger the worm's involuntary muscular action, potentially crushing hesitant adventurers. The skeletons start the encounter in the row(s) behind the trapped spaces, while the amphisbaena(s) start behind the skeletons. Both use straightforward tactics.

Because Mehnit bears the heart in her chest, she can concentrate on controlling the worm as a move action. She only attacks adjacent foes, unless a competent spellcaster targets her, in which case she moves to attack. Assuming the party does not incapacitate her, the following events occur:

  • Round 1: The worm's head judders, causing every creature to succeed at a DC 10 Reflex save or fall prone. Mehnit and her snakes are immune to this effect.

  • Rounds 3-5: The worm jerks its head up through the sand. This has the same effect as above, except the Reflex save DC increases by 2 each round, starting at 12 in round 3. During round 5, the trap resets itself.

  • Round 6: The worm bursts through the sand, sending everything inside the worm flying. All creatures inside the worm must succeed at a DC 20 Reflex save to avoid moving 5 feet away from the mouth (potentially triggering the trap), taking 1d6 points of damage and falling prone. Mehnit, who reacts with a mixture of surprise and elation, is not immune to this effect.

  • Round 8: Mehnit gains full control of the creature, allowing her to command the worm to grapple one character per round (CMB +24). If the worm succeeds at its check, it crushes its victim in the folds of its walls, dealing 4d8 points of bludgeoning damage.

Low Tier (CR 6):
Mehnit CR 5 LINK
Mummy
XP 1,600
hp 60 (Bestiary 210)
Melee slam +14 (1d8+10 plus mummy rot and plus purple worm poison, Fort DC 19)
Skills Handle Animal +13, Intimidate +13, Perception +16, Spellcraft +13, Stealth +11, Use Magic Device +13

Two-headed Venomous Snake CR 1 LINK
Venomous Snake
XP 400
hp 13 (Bestiary 255)
Melee bite +2 (1d4-1 plus poison) and bite +2 (1d4-1 plus poison)

Skeleton (2) CR 1/3 LINK
XP 135 each
hp 4 (Bestiary 250)

High Tier (CR 9): LINK
Mehnit CR 5
Mummy
XP 1,600
hp 60 (Bestiary 210)
Melee slam +14 (1d8+10 plus mummy rot and plus purple worm poison, Fort DC 24)
Skills Handle Animal +13, Intimidate +13, Perception +16, Spellcraft +13, Stealth +11, Use Magic Device +13

Amphisbaena (3) CR 4 LINK
Venomous Snake
XP 1,200 each
hp 45 (Bestiary 2 25)

Skeleton (5) CR 1/3 LINK
XP 135 each
hp 4 (Bestiary 250)

Haunt: Ancient victims of the worms’ attack have not been laid to rest; some linger near the entrance to the buried head. A haunt targets the last creature squeezing through the opening. For the low tier use the shrieking walls haunt (The Brinewall Legacy 41); for the high tier use the bleeding walls haunt (GameMastery Guide 243)

Trap: Any Small or larger creature stepping on an indicated square sets off the worm's reflexive swallowing. The trap affects all creatures in the row behind the trapped squares (towards the worm’s interior). Use the falling block trap (Pathfinder Core Rulebook 420), except reduce the Perception and Disable Device DCs to 15, and reduce the damage to 2d6. Additionally, any character attempting to pass through the affected spaces must squeeze.

Development: If the characters do not search Mehnit specifically for the Wormheart, a spectre passes through the worm's mouth and exclaims, "Now that she is gone, I shall possess the Heart!" The spectre seeks the Wormheart’s destruction to free it of its long, tormented existence, so any attack drives the creature away. However, any attempt to leave the worm with the Heart provokes an earnest attack by the spectre. The Heart has 15 hit points and hardness 5, but nothing can harm it while it is within another creature.

Cartographer

Nice map reference, very easy to see where everything is supposed to be. I like the whole concept of two dead giant worms locked together in a death rattle, half buried in the sands. This one would be very fun to draw, dead decaying worm flesh and all.

This map reference does leave lots of room for an imaginative mapper to create something amazing. I would be concerned to hand this over without the detailed text to help with rendering this one to completion. Nice work!

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Welcome to the Top 8, Mike. It's been a bit of a rocky road for you, but it looks like your experience is starting to pay off a bit. And now you've found your way into a unique position. From here, you've got a major opportunity to really impress a lot more folks and secure yourself some further freelancing opportunities, not just with Paizo but other third-party publishers, as well. The trick lies in putting forth your best work. Show us you belong.

So, with that in mind, I've made a point of really combing through everyone's designs this go-around. You should have learned a lot of lessons up to this point. Now, we need to see how well you've incorporated them and how well you've learned to apply them. In fact, encounter design is the primary precursor to adventure design. It incorporates your storytelling ability, your map-making ability, your stat-block ability, and rolls up enough other elements of game design skills that it really starts to bring it altogether. So, let's go through it and see what you've given us...

Spoiler:

- So...the Thanatopic Amphisbaena? Okay. Two-headed death snake thingie buried by the sands of time. Interesting location choice.

- This is probably one of my least favorite maps this round. But, you know what? You don't have to be the cartographer. You just have to be capable of rendering your encounters well enough for an actual cartographer to run with it. If Rob says he's good to go, he's good to go. I would've liked to see a bit more innovation in the rendered map for an entertwined giant worm interior. Maybe even a side view to give some sense of the structure's height/depth beyond your elevation lines. I'd like to have seen you go grander with it. Make it a major dungeon crawl with encounters all throughout the worm's interior with various things it swallowed while fighting Geb's horrific undead.

- "Early in the war between Geb and Nex...Nex called a pair of crimson worms...to devour Geb and his army..." I like the premise and the backstory and the attention-to-detail in using the Golarion canon. This is a fantastical location concept, but it works within the strange arcane battles between two of Golarion's most capable archwizards. I get the sense that maybe your writing/gaming style favors the fantastical a bit more than not...so, kudos on you for finding a place in Golarion where you could let that impulse roar.

- "Over 4,000 years later, Mehnit, an unusually intelligent Gebbite mummy with an affinity for handling snakes...happened upon the partially uncovered, preserved corpse..." Credible backstory for how and why your villain came to claim this structure as her lair. I might have liked to see you characterize Mehnit as having something more to do with serpents like a serpentfolk mummy or an Ydersius worshiper or something instead of a straight-up association with Geb. But, I get the connection to the land of undead. The snake-theme just felt more tacked on here. That's just a minor preference/quibble, though.

- "Mehnit spent years of study only to achieve basic control of the creature’s inner musculature." This part felt a little too fantastical/gonzo, but I get what you're trying to do. Turning these fused worms into a mobile amphisbaena-shaped tank seems like something a snake-obsessed villain might try for...but to what end? To carry out Geb's continued assault on Nex? I'd have liked to see something more personal to Mehnit...i.e., she stumbled across this place and discovered these fused worms, hoping to re-purpose them for her own goals. That would have more tightly tied your villain and this location together.

- "...the spectres taught her about the Heart in order to lead to the fused worm's destruction, thus freeing them from their millennia of imprisonment." That's an interesting twist, both from a story sense and as a potential future battle should the PCs try and continue Mehnit's work rather than just put her down. Either way, the spectres get released to go carry out their own mayhem. I like it.

- "...many places on the floor feature an unusual trap where the worm’s muscles squeeze together and crush nearby victims..." I thought this rather innovative. Certainly not your average trap and something that would provide for a memorable dungeon crawl for the PCs. I'd have liked to see a bit more variety to this hazard, though. As drawn on the map, these locations are pretty much very linear and very predictable. I think it would have worked better for you if the worms themselves wove and tangled together into a maze of round tunnels, with lots more double-backs where these traps could exist in a more unpredictable fashion. Maybe just where the two worms touch upon one another as their magically-induced, millennia-long death throes continue?

- I really didn't like the idea of making the worms mobile again. I almost wish there were some other secret at the heart of these crimson worms...maybe a source of magic Geb made them swallow to enable his control of them. Mehnit could then be after this source. And, by removing it, perhaps that's what would free the spectres' spirits. But, it would also enable Mehnit to use it again to raise another, living pair of crimson worms to do her bidding. That'd be a great enough threat for the PCs to stop. It'd still give the spectres motivation for aiding Mehnit...and even hindering the PCs to keep them from stopping her. And, ultimately, it would allow you to keep the worms as a calcified, immobile structure through which the adventure could take place. Meanwhile, the worms' interior could remain organic enough to still enable the crushing wall traps. If I were your developer, I'd likely steer you down this path, since that would allow us to rein in some of the more gonzo aspects of this worm becoming functional again.

- "After squeezing through another small hole, you reach a second head belonging to this eerily conjoined crimson worm. An altar replete with snake motifs stands near the toothy maw. Skeletons mill about, while a mummy standing at the altar frustratedly commands the worm to move." Try to avoid using "you" in your read-aloud text. Sometimes, it's okay. It's about the only place where you can use "you" and get away with it, but normally only in dialogue. There are other ways to re-word this and still convey the same information. When you use the word "you" it immediately leads you to start making assumptions about what the PCs are doing. And, as an author, you can never count on that. It's far better to stick to just describing what they see or experience (in terms of their active senses) as they arrive at your encounter location.

- "Assuming the party does not incapacitate her, the following events occur...Round 1...Rounds 3-5...Round 6...Round 8..." I'm not sure why, but a lot of you guys reached for scripted events in your encounter designs this year. Yours came across a bit better and more believable to me. But, much like you shouldn't make assumptions about what the PCs are doing in your read-aloud text, you also need to be careful with scripting entire encounters. That can wind up making the PCs feel like they're railroaded into something. And, you also can't always count on PCs following the script. They might start looking for ways to "opt out" of the encounter and simply run. When that happens, the GM can be left floudering as he has to figure out how to salvage the encounter...or, at least determine an alternate outcome for it.

- "Round 8: Mehnit gains full control of the creature, allowing her to command the worm to grapple one character per round (CMB +24). If the worm succeeds at its check, it crushes its victim in the folds of its walls, dealing 4d8 points of bludgeoning damage." This worries me. If the PCs fail to deal with this problem by Round 8, this encounter ventures into TPK territory really fast. At CR 6 or CR 9, the worm's CMB +24 is going to smash just about anyone Mehnit wants it to. This might be a bit overpowered for the encounter's CR. Additionally, what kind of action does it take on Mehnit's part to evoke this kind of attack out of the worm? Free action? Swift? Standard? I'm unclear, but it sounds like he can direct it to do this while he also continues his own separate attacks. And that ramps up the deadliness of the encounter beyond the CR you've assigned it.

- "Mehnit...Skills Handle Animal +13, Intimidate +13, Perception +16, Spellcraft +13, Stealth +11, Use Magic Device +13" I didn't really see a precedent for including the additional non-standard skill ranks for Mehnit, despite her characterization as an unusually intelligent one. As a standard mummy, she should have Perception +16 and Stealth +11. Why the variation? If you're going to deviate, you probably need a full stat-block to explain these changes. At the same time, I thought the purple worm poison by including the stingers in its slam attacks was a smart touch. It kicks up the base CR 5 mummy to make it more of a threat. I think that's important, because the CR 1 venomous snake and CR 1/3 skeletons aren't a threat to 6th level PCs. They'll fry those things in the first round of spellcasting or channeled energy. I'm also concerned about the higher tier. A CR 5 mummy and three CR 4 amphisbaena with five CR 1/3 skeletons pose no significant threat to 9th level PCs at all. They'll take Mehnit (the greatest threat) down with just three rounds or so of channeled energy and some warrior beat downs. From an encounter design perspective (particularly with tiering), you need to kick up your threat levels with something more meaningful. The Advanced template could certainly have helped here for the CR 9 encounter. And something more dangerous than skeletons was needed, for sure. In fact, those incorporeal spectres would have been a smarter move to include here.

- Your "trap" involving the reflexive swallowing actually needs a CR and it should be factored into the overall encounter. If the traps aren't associated with area 6, you shouldn't reference them for this encounter design at all. They're just part of the overall location's hazards. In fact, I would have probably characterized this as a hazard and just talked about it once in the paragraphs describing the dangers of traversing the worm's interior and referenced the places where those dangers exist on the map.

- You did a good job on the presentation aspects of the encounter. This reads a lot more like an actual product than some of the other submissions this round. And it's clear you have some experience in that aspect of your design.

So, given all that, I'm going to RECOMMEND you advance to the next round. At the very least, I think you've got what it takes to become a potential adventure designer. I think a Paizo developer can adequately guide and train you to correct the missteps that we saw here. And I'm confident you'll have what it takes to bring us some compelling, interesting ideas down the road. At the very least, I want to see what kind of adventure proposal you have in mind.

I'll also call attention to your earlier work for everyone to consider. Your raptoring gloves went with a heavy bird of prey theme that was decent, but didn't really inspire me that much. And I felt your Monster Reformation Alliance was a very ill-advised concept that just didn't fit Golarion or what I'd expect from a Superstar designer. But your phasic ravager rebuilt my confidence a bit. If nothing else, you've shown you can do monsters reasonably well. And now, with this encounter, I think you've demonstrated some skill in that area. It'll be up to the voters, though. And no matter how the voting shakes out, you should how much you've accomplished this year and be very proud of it. Good luck in the playtesting and exit polls.

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

I like this one.

The "inside the corpse" dungeon has been done (and its even been done in Superstar before), but somehow I didn't feel like this was a recycled idea.

I like the division of content--good block about the location then you give us the encounter in the head (well, the second head).

I want to congratulate you for thinking cinematically. Neil and I were discussing this recently. Think about an encounter like its a movie. You do a pretty good job of this, but it could be a tad better.

You've been up and down this year, Mike, but I think this one does enough to get you into the next round.

RECOMMENDED

Contributor

Mike, welcome to the Top 8!

This is a neat location and a neat encounter. I like the visuals of being inside the purple worm. Your map is simple but efficient; a couple of sentences of explanation for the cartographer (which is what the developer would provide) would provide plenty of inspiration for the map. The mix of undead and snakes gives just about any kind of character something cool to do or an opponent they'd be good at fighting.

I think you pushed the boundaries of the miniatures rules by using a snake mini to represent the amphisbaena--but to be honest, that's exactly the sort of thing I would do, and anyone running this scenario would probably do the same.

I would have liked this to have less "cut scene" backstory (like the mummy's interaction with the spectres) and more on the details of the actual encounter, and less of a round-by-round scripted sequence, but overall I like this encounter. Good job!

Paizo Employee Developer

Hi Mike, welcome to the top 8! I'm approaching all 8 entries this round as a sample of work for four authors who will have a chance to write a scenario or module that I'll be developing if they progress to the next round. That means I'm looking at how well this location could fit into the world and a larger adventure, how well you've tiered your encounter, how much work would go into getting the map prepped for a cartographer, and how much time I'd need to spend on this developing it for publication. Let's see what we've got!

Your title has piqued my curiosity, because I know what thanatopic means and I know what an amphisbaena is, but I'm unsure how that makes a location. Let's look at the map…

I have to admit, this makes it clear to me that the amphisbaena in the location name is in fact a giant two-headed snake in which the PCs are supposed to adventure. But beyond that, it looks like something I'd really need to alter or explain to a cartographer. Why is it so blocky? Is the body of this organic creature actually composed of a bunch of squares? Would the program you drew this in not let you create diagonal lines? I think this level of mapping is fine for a GM making his or her own reference of a location for a home game, but as a professional turnover this leaves a lot to be desired. (But it makes me want to get out my old NES and play some Zelda, so if you were going for the 8-bit retro angle, you scored big there!)

Now that I have seen the map, I have an idea what the adventure is going to entail, but I'm still not sure what the backstory is for this thing. Let's take a look…at a ton of backstory. Wow, that's a novel. It's a neat bit of history, but you used up a huge portion of your word count retelling that story. It could really be cut down quite a bit, retaining the important bits, and trimming the more extraneous elements. The meat of it is that this was a tool in the war between Nex and Geb and then the mummy found it, she learned to control it. Much of the rest is neat, and could certainly serve an adventure well in the primary adventure background, but for a single location and encounter it's way too much.

Now, the adventure inside a giant dead thing is not new. It's been done many, many times, so I'm looking at this one with a big grain of salt. By doing a location that has been done so many times (even if yours is a new variation on it) you set the bar really high to prove yourself superstar material.

Looking at the encounter itself, you start off with a pair of common missteps, in that the boxed text implies the PCs' actions and it includes creatures. This doesn't allow PCs to use gaseous form to enter without squeezing, or even to use divinations to get a description of the room without entering. Nor can they fireball through the narrow hole and hope the blast kills whatever is on the other side.

Why does the last PC trigger the haunt? The haunts you reference (I think they should have been reprinted here, by the way, even more reason to cut some of the prose at the beginning of the entry) are both proximity trigger effects that will manifest whenever the first creature enters the square in question. You should also mention the trap (which is really more of a hazard, I think) before the creatures entry, as the GM should at least know that there's more in play than just the monsters and the haunt before combat starts.

I'm not really a fan of the round-by-round playlist. It eats up a lot of words and shackles the GM (and by extension the players) to this one course of events. I'd rather see this element as a simple mechanic for what the snake moving does to those inside it, and then let Mehnit do what the GM feels is best each round, applying those effects as needed. In any case, being inside the snake with it moving around and the swallowing (being triggered by the mummy's minions, no less) should really factor into the CR of this thing. I also think the inclusion of purple worm poison makes Mehnit more than a CR 5 mummy. That's a serious poison, and from my reading of it, she can inject it on every attack, along with mummy rot. I'm also unsure where her extra skill ranks are coming from. In this case, it probably would have been best to print her whole stat block (yet again a reason to write less background; stat blocks take up a lot of words). I think the CR 1 and CR 1/3 creatures in the low tier are literally not worth the words they take up on the page. Those are not credible threats for a party of that level, and the same is true to an even greater degree for the CR 1/3 skeletons in the high tier.

If you want to make as significant changes to a preprinted trap as you have done in the trap section, you are better served just to include the stat block for the trap you want to include instead of explaining all the changes. The end result isn't the same as a falling block trap, so why force a round peg into a square hole?

I'm really confused by the ending. A spectre shows up and tries to possess the heart? I thought it couldn't do so because it was incorporeal. Either way, it's an anticlimactic ending and one that feels more tacked on because you needed a Development section than one that organically fits in the encounter.

I've really enjoyed watching you progress through the rounds this year, Mike, and I think you've got a ton of potential as a freelancer. I'm just not sure this particular entry shows off your talents or shines as true superstar work. Thus I DO NOT RECOMMEND this submission for advancement to the next round, but I wish you the best of luck in the voting and should you make it to the next round, look forward to you bringing your very best to the final round.

CEO, Goblinworks

Issues:

Wow what a backstory. So much text written. So many words wasted. You've provided the outline of a novel here, not the necessary info for an encounter.

Why are the PCs here? What is driving them forward? What do they hope to gain?

How does one "judder"?

You did not include the Spectres in the CRs or the monster stat blocks. That's unacceptable.

Explain to me how Protection from Energy works as an area of effect spell? What's the caster level of this effect? What triggers it - or are you suggesting it is simply always operational? This concept seems out-of-bounds to me.

Commentary:

Massive setup to explain two conjoined snakes. The physiology here makes zero sense to me. The wormheart makes almost less sense. The method by which the mummy tries to control the corpse is also nonsensical.

You'd have been so much better off to have had this thing just be one big snake buried in the sand and partially mummified or otherwise converted to undeath. Have some kind of control rod or other device involved that the mummy has been working to test and assemble.

The space you've provided for the encounter is very small. Assuming the PCs end up in that area, a couple of fireball spells are going to do a lot to reduce the encounter to being squeezed by the walls while the front-line fighters take the mummy down. Even the attempt to use Protection from Energy will slow them down just a bit before the spellcasters switch to lightning bolt or other offensive options.

Recommendation:

I do not recommend that you vote for this designer.

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

Thanks again to all the judges for your great feedback! I hope voters like the thanatopic amphisbaena enough to vote for it!

See you in two weeks. :)

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This is extremely interesting and creative. I agree that maybe there was a bit too much backstory, but the area itself is cool. I also love the use of the mummy, which I think is a too often underused monster.

I see you mention spectre's but they aren't in the final encounter. I assume those are supposed to be elsewhere in the body of the worm?

All in all, this is pretty neat. Looking forward to casting my vote for it. Good luck, Mike!

Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Liked it. Judges comments on CRs notwithstanding I think it's a great idea, well thought out and yes, very cinematic. You show you've explored your initial idea to it's logical conclusion.

I agree with Judges re: way too much backstory.

Well done Mike.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think this is very cool, and very thought out. Although the judges say there's too much back story, I'm very appreciative of how much we're given, as it clearly outlines the foe's motivations, and the motivations of other creatures in the encounter.

Also, I like how this evokes a very 90's video game feel. It particularly reminds me of the Lord Jabu-Jabu dungeon in Ocarina of Time...

Star Voter 2013

Yours is the first entry I've scene so far, and as I just finished babysitting some toddlers in their 2s, it will be the only entry I see before I call it a night.

I really like this, the dungeon would be memorable, the fight difficult, and the consequences bad enough any decent group of players would feel bound to end the threat.

I especially like the use of the snakes (as my own wizard recently killed a Mithral Cobra, then turned it's body into the basis of his to-be Staff of Jafar), so I've developed a fondness for them recently. Often times, snakes are disregarded in encounters as not deadly enough (despite the real-world threat of all the snakes out there, some of which are basically instantly lethal), so the fact you included them is big bonus points for me.

Regardless of what others have submitted, you're my fan favorite and I'd love to play in, or run, an adventure designed by you.

Sczarni

Interesting and creative as well. Too blocky for a map design. no creativity there. Other maps were much more superior. As far as encounter, others were better, but not many of them. On the fence for me


This is the first one I've read so far.
It looks like a fun encounter, but it has a couple of flaws.
While I like the backstory as a story, I can't see what use it is. It's not like you can tell all of this to the players.
With a 4 player party, the last PC will be tied up with the haunt for at least the first round, but the skeletons will be little more than bone pretty quickly, and I expect the snake would be salami a round later, leaving only Mehnit to fight, so I can't see this encounter getting past round 5, but let's see how it plays out with the play testers.


Looks... interesting. I think it has potential. I may well playtest this.

Neat work!

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

Kradlum wrote:

While I like the backstory as a story, I can't see what use it is. It's not like you can tell all of this to the players.

I think this is part of the challenge of the challenge, however. The competitors need to create a location, which should have a compelling back story. Now, granted, that back story might only come into play minimally in the encounter they also have to provide for us, but that doesn't mean the players wouldn't have had a chance to learn it over the course of the adventure that the encounter we're getting is part of.

Star Voter 2013

The first thing I see when I read your encounter is the name, especially how I couldn't pronounce it. Hell, I don't didn't even remember what an Amphisbaena was until I read the bit about the two-headed snakes later, and that's questionable, because a cartographer isn't going to get this thread. I mean, there was a whole thread about magic item names and strange words, and it applies to area names too. It tells me nothing of what this place actually is, and that's a really bad foot to start off on.

I'm also really underwhelmed by the map. What sort of trap is at X? You call out the other traps, why not this one specifically? And then the lack of curved lines make it seem like you made the dungeon in minecraft. And, since the depth changes, what is the footing like? All in all, your attempt to fill in bits of the surrounding area only left me with more questions.

And, the massive backstory didn't thrill me, either. There's some good exciting things in it, but it's mostly unneeded, especially for the one encounter you listed.

Finally, to respond to Neil's comment about everyone making a cinematic round-by-round, I'd bet it's because everyone raved about it so much with The False Tomb of The Crawling Pharoh in 2010.

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

Ronars, that may be part of it, but I think it's also a really cinematic feel and neat addition to an adventure. The one I was thinking of wasn't going to have round-by-round information, but there was certainly a ticking clock aspect to it. It adds excitement to a round and really makes you almost feel you have to move quickly *as a player* instead of what can sometimes be a really deliberative process (at least IMO).

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

It goes back further than that- the first year had Christine Schneider's sled race down a volcano with round by round action.

Star Voter 2013

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Initial Impression: This is the first one I look at and think is neat. Its on the far end of what I like in my games before switching to annother system, but it works.

One of the things I see with this location is that through your description you give me an idea of how the other encounters leading up to this would work. Various low level mobs, some traps, specters. They can all work.

I would like to see a reference to the specters in the encounter. Presumably, the PCs already fought them in the dungeon leading up to this place, but I could see them retreating to this place. It would provide an interesting tactical problem and bump up the difficulty, and this fight looks like it could use a boost at the high CR. Lots of mobs usually create issues with CR, adding up for more than they are really worth.

I would describe the choke points as a place where you have to litterally crawl through filth and push it away, to deal with the line of sight/effect issues that Ryan mentions. Its putrified flesh where the walls come together.

If I were to design the entire dungeon, I would add various tremmors from when the PCs first enter. Then explain how they culminate in the round-by-round at the end, which I personally like. I would like it less if it tied up the villian and scripted the mummy's actions, but it doesn't. It provides a timer from the environement, which I like.

Liberty's Edge

I like this encounter. I think you have some good themes working on each other and have a good overall concept.

As to Ryan's question about Protection from Energy it is linked to Unhallow as per the third effect of that spell:

Quote:
Finally, you may choose to fix a single spell effect to the unhallowed site. The spell effect lasts for 1 year and functions throughout the entire site, regardless of its normal duration and area or effect.

Protection from Energy is one of the spells listed that may be tied to the unhallowed area.

Now the question to me is where did this unhallow effect come from? I'm guessing Mehnit UMD'd a scroll of the spell once she decided to make a new home here but that is just speculation. It would have been nice to know how the effect was put in place so the CL and other effects can be determined (as Ryan states).

Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Who I Am:
I'm just some yahoo who plays/runs a lot of PFS. So my opinions come from a PFS perspective. That said, considering winning this round gives you a 3/4 chance to write a PFS adventure, I feel that my thoughts may be valuable.

I had to look up amphisbaena, the name bothered me at first but once I found out what it was it made sense. I still would prefer something more obvious and easily pronouncable for a name.

The encounter seems cool but many of the mechanical pieces seem ill-chosen.
5 CR 1/3 skeletons at level 9? Isn't there some guideline about creatures that are 4 or more CR below the party aren't worth worrying about.

Also there's the mummy, it gets purple worm poison, but no change in its CR? Also low-tier mummy has a lower save on the purple worm poison.

Also, it seems to me that the haunt at the mouth is one encounter and the Snake mummy and company is a second encounter.

Also for a level 9 adventure should the toughest foe really be CR 5? At least throwing on the advanced template for the higher tier would have been nice.

An interesting encounter, but too many mechanical flaws. I will not be voting for this entry.

Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

Playtest results:
RACE/CLASS/LEVEL OF PCs
5 PCs with 20 point-buy and average wealth from my campaign:
Halfling Oracle (Wind) 7 (ranged combat + utility)
Human Rogue 6, Wizard 1 (two weapon fighting)
Halforc Barbarian 7 (Invulnerable rager - power attack with Falchion style)
Human Ranger 7 (Guide - archer style)
Human Oracle (Battle) 7 (enlarged power attack with Great Sword style)

TIER
High tier (CR9)

EASE OF RUNNING THE ENCOUNTER
I was confused about how the trap works. I ruled that it was one swallowing reflex that lasts for only one round (so sqeezing is necessary only during the round).
I wasn't sure where the Skeletons and the Amphisbaena would be so I ruled that the Amphisbanea lurked near their beloved mummy mistress outside the view of the entrance hole and that the Skeletons were positioned near the entrance immediately behind the trap spaces.
I wasn't sure when the scripted effects came to bear so I judged that they occured at the mummies initiative count and that Round 1 was the round after which the first PC entered the room.

CHALLENGE OF THE ENCOUNTER
Description of the fight:

Spoiler:
As the group approached yet another small hole the Human Rogue peaked through it and easily made his Stealth vs. the Skeletons perception. While the mummy was not in direct view he heard the raspy dry voice proclaiming "Bow to my command and move from your sandy grave in the name of Geb". Seeing undead and given the undead/mummified feel of the locale the group shortly and quietly agreed to use a scroll of Hide from Undead (CL5=125GP).
Round 0
Then the Rogue squeezed through the hole and stealthed round the corner to get a peak at the rest of the room. Being 35 feet from the mummy he didn't trigger the despair and easily beat the Amphibaenas Perception with his Stealth (I ruled scent did not apply because of the stench).
Round 1
Second did the Ranger sneak through just before the Round 1 event triggered. All the PCs managed their checks except the Oracle of Battle, which fell prone still outside as did all skeletons but one!
Round 2
The Oracle of Wind went through without problems (being small and all) while the Rogue & Ranger advanced to get a good look. This put both in the despair range but they valiantly made their saves and did succeed on their stealth checks against the Amphisbaena.
Round 3
Here we saw the first action as the Rogue used a Lightning Bolt from his Wand (CL6) that hit the lone standing Skeleton (which was immediately killed), one Amphisbaena and the mummy dealing mediocre damage. Immediately afterwards did the Ranger shot two Amphisbaena, killing the wounded one and wounding another. The Oracle readied an action as the scripted event occured dropping the Oracle of Battle (still outside) AGAIN while the Barbarian squeezed through. The two remaining Amphisbaena charged into the readied Lightning Breath of the Wind Oracle that killed the wounded one while the second scored a reach hit at the Ranger and a miss at the Rogue.
Round 4
Forth round sees the rangers full attack at the mummy and another lightning bolt at the the sole Amphisbaena and the mummy. A sling attack of the Oracle of Wind killed the Amphisbaena with a lucky crit. The round 4 scripted event dropped the Rogue and the Ranger as the mummy decided to charge, already having lost half it's hitpoints. This put all in the range of despair and the Oracle of Wind succumbed to it. However the mummy missed the ranger but the ranger got damaged by the trap (reflexive swallow) that the mummy activated by ending it's move in the middle trapped square. The barbarian moved next to the mummy, activating the next swallow which hit the oracle of wind, but missed the mummy with his swing.
Round 5
To make it short: the Barbarian full attacked with his falchion and got a critical hit which dropped the mummy deader than dead.

Of the 5 level 7 Party members one couldn't participate before the fight was over because she never managed to squeeze through which prevented the haunt from activating.
The party spend a single scroll for 125GP, a daily action and two charges from a wand. The party received a total of 24HP in damage.
This encounter was five rounds long and not very challenging.

FUN OF THE ENCOUNTER
The encounter had one fun moment. The mighty, shiny Field Plated Oracle of Battle dropping twice, as did the Skeletons, which was quite comical. The crowded space and good positioning of the party made this a funny turkey shoot.

OTHER COMMENTS
The encounter was totally broken by two ranged stealthy PCs and a Level 1 Cleric Spell. The Skeletons were useless. The encounter would have been a bit more challenging if the Amphisbaena would have noticed the PCs earlier but their 10' space is a killer near the choke because only one can really attack while the other must wait in line...

Star Voter 2013

Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
Ronars, that may be part of it...

You're totally right, there's rarely only one reason for anything. But, that was my own first encounter with round-by-round in an encounter, and it made a big splash on myself, personally. Since then, I've tried to replicate such an effect - only to never make it quite as good. Those things are hard to do right, and only make me appreciate it more now that I know exactly how hard.

Liberty's Edge Star Voter 2013

Mike,
You have now confirmed what I suspected with Monster Reformation Alliance:
You have a creative angle to your design that feeds the DM/GM to take your creations in many directions.

Nice use of squeezing rule! I can imagine my players inside this thing. The round by round hints are always useful and no more contrainin than any other element of the description. And such you fully explain the motives of the bad guys it should be easy for a DM/GM to improvise changes.

Great job!

Grand Lodge

I like it. This is the last encounter of the 8 I have read and is a vote getter.

Someone earlier criticized the name and referenced a thread about magic item names and such. Amphisbaena is not that unusual a name, and when the publishers have names such as Saran Wrap oops what is that major god's name again, or Rovagug (The Roving Chug-a-lug), or in Wake of the Watcher a character named Ogg'gggol how much credibility can you give them when criticizing names.

I mean really, I can NEVER play a follower of Saran Wrap.

Okay, why is it a vote getter?

I can picture this scene in my head and feel the tension and excitement. More than anything I think it would be fun. Paraphrasing Clark Peterson from earlier rounds... "That sounds like a lot of fun to play!" Do I need anything beyond that?

So, has encounter inside a creature been done before? Yes. Has it been done so often it is boring? Absolutely not. It sure beats yet more orcs and goblins.

Can I run this in a PFS scenario? Yes I can. Am I worried what the earlier trap was? Nope that was a different encounter and therefore not part of this assignment.

Am I worried about the map? Rob said he liked it and could do it. I've used Photoshop for work for over 13 years and can make a usable map (not any where near Rob's quality) from this. The map has to convey the idea to the cartographer. While the other maps in this round have been quite good, this is not Cartographer Superstar. It gets the job done. BTW yet again a quick note about maps... remember that while Rob's maps are works of art and are amazing, only the GM ever gets to see them. What the the PCs will get to see is a piece-of-crap hand-drawn squiggly mess quickly sketched by the GM.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

These comments are from a first pass of your encounter, prior to playtesting or reading the judges' feedback or other voters' posts.

The Thanotopic Amphisbaena

The location - what did you bring to Golarion?
Two necrotic giant worms locked together in a never-ending death grip beneath the shifting sands acting as a dungeon that at any time may be animated by a poison-loving mummy snake handler. Wow - way to bring the gonzo! I could live with a little less history here (you spend 708 words describing the location). That said, much of what you write is directly relevant to making the location, as it is now, awesome. I have shades of Arakis but you've made it your own. Good work.

The encounter - do I want to run this fight on your map?
At the low tier this looks good. Mehnit is a real threat for level 4-5 characters, and with the haunt, trap, and timed snake-head-shaking, there's some fun to be had here. The skeletons are just throw away here and another venomous snake might have been a better choice. At the higher level, I think you needed to advance Mehnit in some way. She will die very quickly against level 7-8 characters. I love the thematic use of amphisbaena. Using multiple CR 1/3 creatures in a CR 9 encounter is just a mistake; they add nothing except a momentary distraction for the players and overhead for the GM.

The writing - how effectively have you crafted those words?
Good active writing. You cover a relatively complex history in a way that I can understand. There are a few clunky sentences - 'Unbeknownst to her, the spectres taught her about the Heart in order to lead to the fused worm's destruction' - the words 'in order' add nothing to the meaning; 'lead to X destruction' is a weak verb form where you could use destroy. A 'handful of spectres' is a strange image. These are nitpicks in an overall good job.

Summary
Good location which is Golarion specific but would be a great addition to any desert campaign. Good ideas and dynamic elements to the encounter, but some mis-steps particularly in the higher tier

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Note for the judges: the PRD link next to the amphisbaena is wrong, and leads to the snake from Bestiary 1. Should go to http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/additionalMonsters/amphisbaena.html#_amp hisbaena

Liberty's Edge

The name of the encounter is cryptic, yet interesting.

In the last paragraph, you say, "The worm’s interior remains remarkably well preserved, due to Geb’s magic...." Wasn't it Nex's magic that conjured the conjoined creatures into being? Perhaps you meant the ambient magic of the land, so that's excusable.

However, the mental image of a bunch of skeletons and zombies inside "manning" the movement of the creature is comical. Probably not what you were going for.

Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ryan Dancey wrote:
How does one "judder"?

By shaking rapidly and intensively. It may not be the best choice of words, but it's legit.


Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
Kradlum wrote:

While I like the backstory as a story, I can't see what use it is. It's not like you can tell all of this to the players.

I think this is part of the challenge of the challenge, however. The competitors need to create a location, which should have a compelling back story. Now, granted, that back story might only come into play minimally in the encounter they also have to provide for us, but that doesn't mean the players wouldn't have had a chance to learn it over the course of the adventure that the encounter we're getting is part of.

I felt that a lot of the back story is about Mehnit and could only be got by interrogating Mehnit herself, and even then a lot of it is unusable. The players don't need to know things like "she nearly ended her research prematurely when she stepped on a spot inside the worm that triggered an involuntary convulsion, crushing a pair of zombies that accompanied her. After that incident, she meticulously mapped out all the locations of her new home's traps, sacrificing more of the mindless undead inhabitants" I can't see how they could find out this sort of fluff before or after the encounter. It's an awful lot of fluff for a mummy who is going to last a few rounds at most.

Contributor

Will Cooper wrote:
Note for the judges: the PRD link next to the amphisbaena is wrong...

Fixed, thanks!

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules Subscriber

I have finally read through all the submissions, and I must say that 6 of the 8 were very good and made me have to go back and really look at some of the little things that would sway my vote.

I know this round is for designing an encounter with map.

So... I had to use the map as a way of elimiating my indecision. I mean, technically, 50% of this round is the design of a map right? Thus, this submission was one of the three maps that I was not in the same ball park as the other 5, so it made my "dont vote for" list.

I did like the encounter. Mummy love from me to you.

I did not play test it, so this is simply a reading of the encounter that I am voting on. After reading, my thoughts turned to what I would have done.

I dont want to put that stuff in here because of your premise behind the mummy and the other background stuff. But you ranked 5th out of 8 for me. It was your map that caused me not to vote.

I have loved your other stuff, and would wholeheartedly look forward to seeing what adventure you wrote in the next round if you make it.

CC

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Krome wrote:

I mean really, I can NEVER play a follower of Saran Wrap.

For what it's worth, if you pronounce Sarenrae's name properly (SAIR-in-ray; rhymes with FAIR in ray), it doesn't sound like saran wrap at all.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled encounter feedback! :-P


Kradlum wrote:
Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
Kradlum wrote:

While I like the backstory as a story, I can't see what use it is. It's not like you can tell all of this to the players.

I think this is part of the challenge of the challenge, however. The competitors need to create a location, which should have a compelling back story. Now, granted, that back story might only come into play minimally in the encounter they also have to provide for us, but that doesn't mean the players wouldn't have had a chance to learn it over the course of the adventure that the encounter we're getting is part of.
I felt that a lot of the back story is about Mehnit and could only be got by interrogating Mehnit herself, and even then a lot of it is unusable. The players don't need to know things like "she nearly ended her research prematurely when she stepped on a spot inside the worm that triggered an involuntary convulsion, crushing a pair of zombies that accompanied her. After that incident, she meticulously mapped out all the locations of her new home's traps, sacrificing more of the mindless undead inhabitants" I can't see how they could find out this sort of fluff before or after the encounter. It's an awful lot of fluff for a mummy who is going to last a few rounds at most.

The way I've always seen all the GM backstory details that tend to show up in a lot of products is as tools for the GM to figure out what to do when the players go off the intended path. Insights in to an NPC's character, history of a site, background details can all become key things for a GM to grab onto.

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

While Amphisbaena isn't a common word in everyday conversation, it's straight out of the PRD and Bestiary 2 for Pathfinder. So not particularly obscure in game terms.

Having said that, there's a LOT of backstory here in terms of wordcount percentage. Seems a weird choice when the goal is to make the coolest encounter possible, and backstory doesn't really help the encounter itself.


Hi Mike! Congrats on making it to this round.

I will only have time to playtest one scenario from this round, and I did not select The Thanatopic Amphisbaena.

The adventure name itself tells me I'm probably not going to like this. The simple, blocky map adds strike two. Then when I scour the adventure for ideas I can use, you put it at the end in the reflexive swallowing trap. Now that's a nice touch. But the combats themselves ... I can grab the Bestiary and do better. Strike three.

Nonetheless, I sincerely wish you luck in the voting!

-Titania

Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

To say a little more: I actually thought this was one of if not the best and most professional looking maps. The blockiness seemed to be a nod to trying to fit a creature's body-dungeon onto a completely unforgiving square grid. Very well done!

And names: Wow, if I ever enter this competition, and there's still an encounter round, and I make it to that round, I will totally call my encounter "The Moody Blandmaster's Mausoleum" or something equally evocative. It will get votes for sure. Better than challenging the grey matter with "The Forgotten Thesaurasaurus", "Defenestration at High Nadir" or "The Thanatopic Amphisbaena". Keep it up Mike!

I totally hated the MRA. I get it, but hated it. This rocks. Congratulations on pulling together a memorable encounter with a thematic and interesting name. Some folks like vanilla ice confection, others like vanilla ice cream with vanilla beans at the bottom.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Well, you have my vote Mike. I like backstory, even if it isn't usable. I often buy suppliments more for reading than actual utilization. You have an excellent imagination, and I liked the pacing of this encounter. It has a nice cinematic feel to it, and I think it would make a memorable session. Here's hoping you get to the next level, I am eagerly awaiting your take on an adventure prospectus!

Silver Crusade Star Voter 2013

I like the setting. I know encounters inside a dead creature have been done before, but when you combine all the elements - the mummy/desert feel, the convulsing worm, etc - this concept is creative.

I think the map is effective. It clearly communicates to a cartographer what needs to be on the fininished map, which is what the rules of the round instruct you to do.

Keep those great ideas coming!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Well, you have my vote Mike. I like an extensive backstory, even if it isn't always practicvally usable in a game. I often buy suppliments more for reading than actual utilization. I think it also gives the GM a little backstory that they can use to pad the encounter out if needed (via a player using Bardic Knowlege or a Knowlege check). You have an excellent imagination, and I liked the pacing of this encounter. It has a nice cinematic feel to it, and I think it would make a memorable session. Here's hoping you get to the next level, I am eagerly awaiting your take on an adventure prospectus!

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Good luck, Mike. You've got my vote.


Disclaimer:
In case you’ve only just woken up to the contest or otherwise (somehow) missed these Round-by-Round reviews before, Ask A RPGSupersuccubus is posting from the point of view of a (very advanced) CE aligned succubus:

Spoiler:
Fairness means Prizes For All Succubi, balance is the process of fine-tuning your harpsichord of the Abyss so that the acoustic resonances are particularly obnoxious to any clerics of Asmodeus who happen to be captive audiences in the vicinity, and logic is very much like cornflour paste – cast-iron hard work when anyone else touches it, but conveniently gooey and runny to a succubus’ subtle touch. Oh: And Ask A RPGSupersuccubus (still) firmly maintains that it’s a succubus’ privilege to change her mind with neither any warning nor any obligation to bother to explain herself…
;)

Does the location and situation seem suitable for a succubus in distress (broken fingernails are such a nuisance) to find a Noble Knight?
Whilst this location in and of itself would definitely distress most succubi (undead worms - honestly, how icky is that?) it's a toss up over how many noble knights might be passing through the area. The climate isn't really very good for shining armour, you see, and the noblest calibre of knight, paladins, often get upset about the status of undead in Geb.

Is there any possible convenient financial gain obvious in this situation for a succubus?
No. No loot, cash, treasure, jewellery, or any other form of financial benefit is obvious about this situation.

Purely from a point of view of testing-this-situation-to-destruction what impact is a fire-breathing phase doppleganger giant space hamster likely to have if introduced to it?
Croosh, croosh, croosh, munch, *bloorph*, splat, aaaaarrrrrgh! (screaming mummy encountering aforementioned FBPDGSH) splatter, trample, thump.
It may be an icky environment, but the hamster is going to enjoy the rampage.

Other comments?
Oooh, it's a villain who so conveniently just happens to be achieving her villainous scheme at the precise moment that the adventurers arrive. Honestly, there are some really rubbish schools of villainy out there. You do not wait until the adventurers are kicking down your sanctum door to put into operation your schemes, unless there's a very good reason for that. In this case, as the villain in question is undead, you can't even try to make a case that it's a last-minute adrenaline boost from fear of intruding sword-wielding maniacs which provides the necessary insight/power to get things moving.

Estimated time for four adventuresome succubi to deal with this situation:
Two to three weeks. They could probably finish it off faster themselves in a crisis, but let's face it, with this environment, Anthea, Byrria, Cynthia, and Daria are going to hire someone else to take care of this if they at all have the opportunity to do so.

Further Disclaimer:
Ask A RPGSupersuccubus (with half an eye on Lord Orcus) would like to clarify that mortal voters should probably rely on more than just her own (impeccable) assessments in making up their minds on how to vote. Thank You.

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

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Judges, thank you once again for the tremendous feedback.

Tels, Aberzombie, OceanShieldWolf, Kashual, Ed Zoller, Kradlum, Luthia, Ronara, Jacob, Caineach, Clouds w/o Water, Shawn, Pirate Rob, marv, Krome, Caedwyr, CuttinCurt, Aberzombie, Celestial Healer, and Patrick--thank you all for commenting on my encounter. For those of you who enjoyed it, I'm glad that you did. For those of you who found flaws, I appreciate you letting me know what you thought.

MicMan, I appreciate you playtesting this. It really shows the value of playtesting in polishing design, and your playtest really exposed some flaws in my particular design.

Supersuccubus, the "good guys" always have the most damnable timing. I think more villains should pretend to achieve a breakthrough with their evil schemes, so adventurers can burst in, break stuff and kill minions, and then leave, allowing the villain to enact their true master plans. :)

Regarding the map's aesthetics: I decided to got with the most basic representation for the map, because I didn't trust my "artistic abilities". I hoped my description would be enough to get everything across, forgetting my map would be the very first thing everyone would see.

I certainly could have cut some of my backstory, which would have given me more room to explore the encounter and answer some questions which came up.

Finally, thanks to everyone who voted for my entry! I sincerely hope I manage to impress you with my adventure proposal.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Hi Mike, I’ve been looking back through your entries and feel that a lot of people either love them or hate them. I sympathize, it often feels that way with a lot of my work. But I always feel it’s better to get a strong response rather than a ‘meh’ from people. That said, you don’t want to split your voting base too deeply either. My opinion is to go for it, try that edgy option you have, but please really make certain of it, then proof it and hone it to a beautiful polished finish. I’m looking forward to viewing your entry because I’m hoping to see something unusual from you.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Congratulations and good luck Mike. You've got a strong following, now you need to give them something awesome.


Hey Mike,

Glad to see you advance to the next round! You've got it in you to be really good at this - you just need a little more polish. I really enjoyed both the encounter and last rounds monster... Keep it up.

Paizo / Messageboards / Paizo Publishing / RPG Superstar™ / Previous Contests / RPG Superstar™ 2012 / Round 4 - Top 8: Design an Encounter With a Map / The Thanatopic Amphisbaena All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in Round 4 - Top 8: Design an Encounter With a Map
Crimsondale Villa

©2002–2014 Paizo Inc.®. Need help? Email customer.service@paizo.com or call 425-250-0800 during our business hours: Monday–Friday, 10 AM–5 PM Pacific Time. View our privacy policy. Paizo Inc., Paizo, the Paizo golem logo, Pathfinder, the Pathfinder logo, Pathfinder Society, GameMastery, and Planet Stories are registered trademarks of Paizo Inc., and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Pathfinder Player Companion, Pathfinder Modules, Pathfinder Tales, Pathfinder Battles, Pathfinder Online, PaizoCon, RPG Superstar, The Golem's Got It, Titanic Games, the Titanic logo, and the Planet Stories planet logo are trademarks of Paizo Inc. Dungeons & Dragons, Dragon, Dungeon, and Polyhedron are registered trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., and have been used by Paizo Inc. under license. Most product names are trademarks owned or used under license by the companies that publish those products; use of such names without mention of trademark status should not be construed as a challenge to such status.