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 Unsheathed Revolution


Round 5 - Top 4: Submit a Pathfinder Module™ adventure proposal

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4 aka OamuTheMonk

3 people marked this as a favorite.

The Unsheathed Revolution

Galt is a nation on the edge. For decades, Galt has been eaten from within by sedition and protest. Invariably, whenever a new revolutionary flame sweeps across Galt, its spark is struck in Woodsedge. Radicals, abolitionists, and anarchists of all stripes call Woodsedge home, and a fresh generation of nascent treasons are furtively nurtured within its borders. Now there is a new rebellion growing in Woodsedge, a rebellion not of men and ideas, but of lost souls and hammered steel.

The Unsheathed Revolution is a Pathfinder module designed for four 9th-level characters. Using the medium XP advancement track, characters should achieve 10th-level by the end of the adventure.

The Unsheathed Revolution is an urban investigation taking place in the anarchist enclave of Woodsedge. The party must investigate a sudden influx of intelligent magic weapons that threatens to engulf Woodsedge in violence and undeath. During the investigation, the party contends with over-armed criminals, diseased cultists, and sentient traps, finally confronting the cult's leader within a thorny labyrinth.

Adventure Background
For years, a secretive cult dedicated to the goddess Urgathoa has flourished in small cells across the Inner Sea region. Called the Pallid Way, these leprous zealots have quietly traded in exotic and supernatural diseases, gathered grotesque specimens, and funded their exploits with carefully prepared plagues sold to the unscrupulous. The organization's high priestess, Zaszmarkana, recently completed development of a potent supernatural disease, one that spreads not through flesh, but through metal. This powerful curse-like agent, which Zaszmarkana has named "yellow scythe," infuses metal weapons, carrying with it magical enhancements and a malignant undead spirit. Although wielders of these corrupted weapons revel in their newfound power, they are doomed to be consumed by it and become undead servants of Urgathoa.

Zaszmarkana has travelled to the town of Woodsedge to test yellow scythe in real-world conditions. To facilitate her plan, the high priestess acquired access to one of Galt's fabled final blades, Friar Sharpness, a viable source of the disquiet souls needed to create yellow scythe. She has also acquired a local counterfeiting concern, whose equipment she uses to create yellow scythe-infused coins. The first batch of these coins has been released among the criminal populace. As a result, dozens of potent magic weapons, called unsheathed weapons, have emerged in the hands of Woodsedge's disenfranchised. This has resulted in a deadly upswing in sectarian violence. Woodsedge has no organized town guard, and counts on loose militia groups called "Bluecaps" to provide paid protection for its citizenry. The Bluecap militias have been stretched to the breaking point by this outbreak, and without outside assistance, Woodsedge will fall to Urgathoa.

Unsheathed Weapon:

Spoiler:
A metal weapon corrupted by yellow scythe is called an unsheathed weapon. It acts in most ways like a typical intelligent weapon. It does not react to detect magic, but it does react faintly to detect undead. Each unsheathed weapon has identical mental ability scores, senses, speech ability, and ego score. They possess diverse enhancement bonuses, special abilities, powers, alignments, and personalities. The purpose and dedicated power they all unknowingly share is to transform their wielders into undead creatures known as risen blades. This transformation takes several days, during which time yellow stains creep up the wielder's hands and arms. As the stains progress, an unsheathed weapon becomes more difficult to discard. If an unsheathed weapon fails to transform its host, it loses all of its yellow scythe-gained abilities permanently.

Chapter 1: Ancestral Voices
Challenge types: ethical, investigation
The party begins ten miles north of Woodsedge near a small inn built in a fashion common to Tian Xia, but unusual in Avistan. A small stone shrine dedicated to the goddess Desna stands by the roadside. The party is beckoned to the inn by a nervous young Tian man. He desires that the party speak to the inn's owner, his grandmother Yubi, who is greatly distressed. The young man wishes for someone to calm her fears, which he contends are a "trivial matter of spirits."

Assuming she is treated with respect, Tadamori Yubi begrudgingly relays her story to the party. In her youth, Yubi-san was a samurai in the service of a minor lord of Jinin. After her lord was executed for dishonor, she became ronin, traveling across the crown of the world with the intent of returning to the land of her elven ancestors. Finding Kyonin unacceptably chaotic, she established her inn and hung up her daisho. However, in traveling with her grandsons to Woodsedge for supplies, she carries her swords for protection.

After a recent such trip, Yubi-san began to hear voices when she grasped her swords, and feel a vulgar power within them. She is now convinced that she has dishonored her ancestors in some way, because as she puts it, "My blades speak to me, but they do not speak with the voices of my ancestors. They do not speak the language of my homeland." She is inconsolable, and stoically wishes to redeem herself with a ritualized suicide known as seppuku. She asks that one of the party act as her kaishakunin, whose function is to behead her during the ritual so that she does not suffer.

The party can handle her request in a number of ways. Becoming Yubi-san's kaishakunin is a noble decision, by her cultural standard, but is probably considered abhorrent by a good-aligned party. The party can refuse her request, which may result in her talking her own life without a kaishakunin. Using Diplomacy to calm her fears and/or offering to resolve the situation is a superior solution. Examining Yubi-san's daisho provide the first clues as to the nature of yellow scythe. Unfortunately, it also exposes the party to its effects.

Yellow Scythe Exposure:

Spoiler:
At many times during this module, player characters who carry metal weapons will be exposed to yellow scythe either by handling yellow scythe-infused metal (notably the specially prepared coinage prepared by the Pallid Way cultists), or engaging in combat with characters wielding unsheathed weapons. While magic weapons are entitled to a save to resist corruption, mundane weapons are not, and due to the pervasive nature of the pathogen, it's very likely that some characters will have their weapons become unsheathed (which occurs within an hour of contact with corrupted metal). While break enchantment has a chance to cleanse this corruption, the possibility of recontamination is high. In the short term, having an unsheathed weapon can be seen as both a tactical advantage and a roleplaying opportunity. Many unsheathed weapons are neutral or good in alignment, and could help defeat the forces that created them.

Chapter 2: City without a Flag
Challenge types: combat, investigation
Entering Woodsedge, the party is immediately confronted with the results of the yellow scythe outbreak. Walking into the cobblestone marketplace littered with poorly-printed manifestos, the party witnesses a bohemian mob, arguing loudly with a small contingent of disheveled militiamen in shapeless blue wool caps. With a sudden crackling sound, beams of pure flame lance through the crowd, leaving two figures smoldering on the ground, one Bluecap, and one citizen. The marketplace erupts into chaos. While the bulk of the panicking mob flees into alleys or dives for cover, some freeze in terror or are trampled. In the crowd's midst, some figures wave gleaming blades crackling with electricity and charge into combat with the Bluecaps. Others launch indiscriminately targeted magical attacks.

The instigators, members of a criminal gang known as the "Lutins" seek revenge against the Bluecaps for the recent killings of some of their members, found mutilated and stacked in a public park (Their vengeance is misplaced, however, as will be revealed in Chapter Three). The Bluecaps are under-equipped to face the assault from the Lutin's unsheathed weapons, and will be killed if the party does not intervene.

Many of the Lutins are concealed within the roiling crowd of Woodsedge citizens, and are difficult to detect prior to using their weapons' spell-like abilities to sow destruction. Some Lutins take to the air or haste themselves to attack. Assuming the party defends the Bluecaps, care must be taken not to use deadly area effects within the crowd. Also, until the mob clears the marketplace, poorly-aimed ranged attacks have a chance to strike the panicking citizens as they run to and fro. Engaging the Lutins in melee combat exposes characters to yellow scythe.

If the Lutins meet significant resistance, they flee from combat. If one is captured and interrogated, he reveals that the Lutins staged a false charity food distribution for Woodsedge's hungry, and then scapegoated the Bluecaps when no food was distributed. Guy Vernaut, the one-eyed Bluecap militia captain, takes the wounded Lutins into custody. He confesses that they have no means to keep them off the streets until a trial that will likely not take place for months. Vernaut thanks the party for their help quelling the riot, and shares what little he knows about the yellow scythe outbreak.

The bodies of the fallen Lutins are examined, showing the telltale yellow-stained arms, and their weapons, now powerless, are of poor quality. As one of the Bluecaps crassly empties the pockets of one of the Lutin corpses, he tosses Vernaut a peculiar copper coin. He offers it to the party, saying that it's a peculiar counterfeit, similar to others found within the city. A cursory examination reveals that the coin is minted with strange symbol on one side, resembling a cross between a skull and a swollen-bodied fly (the symbol of Urgathoa, a distinctive flourish that Zaszmarkana could not resist). By investigating the leads provided by the Lutins and the coin, the party can locate the Pallid Way's underground minting facility, located in a disused municipal building.

Chapter 3: Filthy Lucre
Challenge types: combat, infiltration, investigation
The Thrune Revenue Annex was, at one time, a refined and elegant governmental building, dedicated to collecting taxes for Chelish landowners. It's now a cracked and sagging eyesore, overgrown with vines. Since being sacked in 4640, it has been occupied by various disreputable factions within Woodsedge. Recently, members of the Lutin gang successfully repaired some minting equipment found in a hidden basement and began trafficking in illicit coin. The gang's efforts netted them a modest profit until one of their own sold them out to the Pallid Way. The cult instituted a violent takeover, dumping their victims' remains in a nearby park.

The minting facility is a key element in Zaszmarkana's plans. Yellow scythe-infused lead is forged into coins for distribution here, and the cultists present are currently packaging corrupted coins for distribution across Galt. In order to confront and defeat the cultists, the party must first bypass (what appear to be) conventional mechanical traps. The traps were made unsheathed, allowing them to activate and reset themselves. The cultists are armed with necromantic magic, casks of leaden slag, and other virulent defenses, but the most dire threat in the facility is a group of local sellswords in the late stages of yellow scythe transformation. As they are confronted, they slash their own bodies open, and the first generation of risen blades are birthed to the world.

Risen Blade:

Spoiler:
Nearly invisible, this spectral presence resembles a man-shaped hollow in the air, deftly wielding a pulsing magic weapon. Risen blades are incorporeal undead that wield the poisonous magic weapons that spawned them. Unlike the diversity in alignment that unsheathed weapons have, risen blades are always lawful evil. They are unflinchingly loyal to agents of Urgathoa, and exist to enforce her will.

Among the cultists' effects are documents detailing the process for creating yellow scythe, which requires samples of a dizzying array of existing supernatural diseases and arcane reagents. Most importantly, a stable source of disquiet souls must be used to create the template for each unsheathed weapon's personality. Interrogated cultists reveal that their high priestess, Zaszmarkana, has acquired such a source, and is hidden somewhere in Woodsedge. Characters can discern that this source is likely Woodsedge's final blade, Friar Sharpness.

Chapter 4: The Friar is Missing
Challenge types: puzzle, investigation
In previous years, Friar Sharpness was kept in front of the Woodsedge town hall, where it stood as intimidating symbol of Galt's violent strain of libertarianism. However, Pathfinder Society venture-captain Eliza Petulengro recently convinced the Gray Gardeners to remove the guillotine from public view, and now no one seems sure as to where it was taken. In its place stands a man-sized stone obelisk etched with a lengthy quote from the revolutionary treatise On Government, written in a peculiar script. The script contains a cipher used by the Gray Gardeners providing clues as to how to open the obelisk, which is used to covertly store equipment that any of them might need at short notice. The obelisk can also be forced open, although there are arcane defenses that make this a more dangerous proposition.

Opening the obelisk without force requires pressing certain letters in a prescribed order. The letters spell out "Maze of the Open Road," the location where Friar Sharpness has been taken. This famous landmark is one of Woodsedge's few remaining points of interest, and reportedly contains many magical portals within its overgrown thorny walls. Inside the obelisk is a satchel containing the traditional uniform of one of the Gray Gardeners, complete with mask, tricorn, coat, and baton. If the party chooses to open the obelisk by force (and couldn't decipher the script), examining the clothing inside reveals long thorns that can also help direct the party to where the Friar has been moved. The baton is, in fact, a device known as a rod of rebellion, a symbol of the Gray Gardeners.

Rod of Rebellion:

Spoiler:
This rod functions as a magic light mace, and possesses abilities that enable its wielder (or his allies) to more readily escape magical compulsion and charm effects. In addition, by holding the rod in hand, a character can unerringly find the nearest final blade as if by locate object.

Chapter 5: Labyrinth
Challenge types: combat, infiltration
Located behind the ruined (and currently vacant) Woodsedge Lodge, the Maze of the Open Road is a sprawling labyrinth formed from a living, thorny hedge. While the twisting passages themselves are magically formed and maintained, the upper reaches of the hedge have grown together into a thick, tangled mass. It is within a hidden warren below the labyrinth that the Gray Gardeners secreted Friar Sharpness, and where Zaszmarkana currently crafts new batches of yellow scythe. While the rod of rebellion can make navigating the maze a simple matter (as can tracking the movements of the cultists in the loamy earth), The Pallid Way has placed a disgusting guardian within the maze. A unique plague-ridden otyugh Zaszmarkana named "the Incubator" roams throughout, attacking any creature that does not stink of rot. Its suppurating body exudes a powerful defoliant slime, enabling it to pass through the maze's walls without difficulty, even using its spade-like tentacles to topple huge sections of thorny growth onto intruders. Once the creature is defeated, the party can descend into the Pallid Way's lair.

Chapter 6: House of Blades
Challenge types: combat
Concealed below the thorny walls of the Maze of the Open Road is a complex of subterranean workshops built by the Gray Gardeners for the purpose of maintaining Friar Sharpness. Its walls are hung with the well-crafted tools and hardware required for the task. Friar Sharpness' caretaker, a sniveling tinker named Ivo Demas, has been coerced into allowing Zaszmarkana to experiment with the Friar. Upon entering the workshop, the two can be witnessed arguing. Demas, a whining, plaintive gnome, pleads with his companion to not "desecrate the artifact further." He is summarily ignored by Zaszmarkana, who appears to be an elven woman with the lower body of a great spider, draped in a tarp-like covering. If the conversation is allowed to continue, the priestess casually rears up on spindly legs and beheads her nattering underling, as her cloak slides to the ground.

Zaszmarkana is revealed! From the waist up, the high priestess of the Pallid Way is a striking, dark-skinned elf with thin, stringy white hair. From the waist down hang skeletally thin legs, emaciated from a wasting disease, and clearly incapable of supporting her weight. With her torso strapped to the fore of a spider-like construct known as a cutlass spider, she turns to adjust the nest of bubbling vials integrated into her construct body. At the rear of the "spider's" abdomen protrudes the silvery blade of a guillotine, affixed in place, and faintly thrumming with dark intent. Zaszmarkana has turned the Friar into a factory for producing yellow scythe, and only by removing the blade from her infernal device can the yellow curse be lifted from Woodsedge.

Zaszmarkana is a noble drow oracle of bones. Rendered lame by disease, her legs have completely atrophied. She can no longer walk, but telepathically commands her spiderlike "body" to move as a free action, although they have different initiative modifiers. Clambering over the walls and ceiling, Zaszmarkana attacks with spells as her Friar Sharpness-enhanced cutlass spider slashes with its vorpal sword-legs or launches threads of razor-sharp webbing. Concealed within the walls of the workshop are several risen blades, which Zaszmarkana calls upon to aid her in combat with the party. Should the party fail to stop Zaszmarkana, her risen blades will pacify Woodsedge within weeks. This is the final battle!

Conclusion:
With the destruction of Zaszmarkana's cutlass spider, the arcane matrix for creating and maintaining yellow scythe is lost. All unsheathed weapons become powerless, although already-spawned risen blades will continue to cause trouble within the area. Several true magic weapons can be recovered from the cutlass spider's jumbled remains, and the Gray Gardeners, alerted by the disturbance of their cache, will pay greatly for the return of Friar Sharpness (or stop at nothing to recover him, should the party decide to keep the blade). Should Tadamori Yubi still live to see her daisho freed from the grip of yellow scythe, she gladly rewards the party with rare treasures from her homeland.

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

Hey James! Glad to see you in the Top 4! Let’s take a look at your submission…

What you will get from me: I am a third party publisher—specifically one known for adventures. And in my role as a third party publisher of adventures I have read hundreds upon hundreds of adventure proposals sent to me by freelancers. I don’t work for Paizo and I am not a freelancer. This contest isn’t Paizo Superstar, it’s RPG Superstar, and many of the contestants (particularly the top 4) may go on to publish adventures and material not only for Paizo but for other third party publishers. I can’t give you the Paizo insider slant like James or the freelancer slant from Neil. What I can give you is a critique of your submission in real time and stream-of-consciousness, just as if I was reading and reacting to an emailed pitch I received from you back when I was actively producing Necromancer Games adventures. Hopefully that will let you inside the mind of how a third party publisher actually reviews pitches since many of you may go on to do freelance work for third party companies after your Superstar career. My notes in italics below are my impressions as I read through your submission.

In my review of each of the four submissions for this final round I’ve included some side observations and tips. I don’t repeat them in each one for space reasons. Instead, I placed them in the submissions where they seemed most appropriate.

Inside Info: The Importance of the Initial Impression: The first thing I do when I get an adventure proposal is scan the pitch to see “what kind of adventure is this?” We all have certain biases and likes and dislikes. As a third party publisher I look for two things—is it something I think RPG fans generally would want to have and then is it something I personally think is great and that fans of Necro would like. I was always an old school vibe kind of guy and I have a passion for those kinds of adventures and adventure elements. This is important to keep in mind. As a freelancer, you are trying to submit an adventure to a publisher to get them to publish it. Newsflash: they don’t just pick the coolest one. They pick the coolest one that seems publishable within their constraints (page size, etc) and that meets their expected target market. That holds true for third party publishers, too. My target market with Necro was old school awesomeness. “Third Edition Rules, First Edition Feel.” So when I was producing for Necro, if you sent me the world’s best gnome-bard roleplaying-heavy story-driven social interaction adventure ever written, I wouldn’t have been interested. It is both not my target market and it is not what I am passionate about publishing and I don’t think it would be a hit with Necro fans. What that means is, the first thing you need to do is pass that initial review when the third party publisher reads your pitch and asks themselves: “is this even something I am interested in doing?” You want to get a yes to that, because if you don’t they likely won’t even read any further.

Freelancer Tip: As a result, find out what your publisher wants and what their target market is. What kind of adventures do they do and have they done. What space is already occupied in their recent catalog and what space seems open for you. Think about their fans. A publisher doesn’t want to publish you because you are you, they want to publish an adventure because you seem like a responsible freelancer who will deliver a manuscript that meets their publishing goals and hits their target market. You can’t repeat what they have already done, you have to meet their current needs. RPG Superstar is no different. A smart Superstar contestant has read the boards, gauged fan reaction and used that information to help him or her craft a winning submission. Neil was a master at this (see his Legendary Playhouse submission in 2009, I didn’t recommend it but clearly he had done his research on what the fans liked and wanted and he gave it to them, and as a result he advanced despite my not recommending him).

Initial Impression

Ok, we already have a problem. Opening up the pitch attachment and reading it the first thing I check is the name. “Unsheathed Revolution.” That’s a non-starter for me. I already don’t like the name. I’m old school. Keep on the Borderlands, Vault of the Drow, Tomb of Horrors, even Ravenloft. Those are good names. A place or main bad guy. Your title doesn’t grab me. But you may say, “who cares, fix that in development.” Sure, we can do that, but it shows me something else—it shows me you may either not have found the beating heart of your adventure or that you don’t have a good grasp on what is marketable for me. I’m already skeptical. You need to personalize it. I get the image of action with the word “unsheathed,” but this is strike one. But I keep reading…

Now the quick once over. What am I getting?

• Urban rebellion
• Investigation
• Intelligent magic weapons…hmm, that’s neat, no one uses them much as hooks
• Criminals
• Sentient traps…wait, sentient traps? OK, cool.
• Leader in thorny labyrinth

Not sure that this is my thing, but it’s not so clearly NOT my thing that I would reject it without a deeper read. I’m probably most intrigued by the idea of using intelligent weapons as a plot device, and thus something for the PCs to discover, and some sentient traps. Those sound like cool encounters, and that is one of the ways to get a publisher interested in your adventure—the idea of cool, memorable encounters.

Dirty Secret: There is NOTHING a publisher likes more than the idea of publishing something that will be cool and memorable, particularly third party publishers. WotC and Paizo are the big kids. Their stuff will be guaranteed to get air play, but as a third party publisher your appeal is more limited. Publishing something that makes it into the main stream consciousness of gamers is a very rewarding thing for a third party publisher. While I love all our Necromancer products, things like Wizard’s Amulet and Crucible of Freya and the Tome of Horrors and Rappan Athuk were, at least during 3E, a large part of the common lexicon of gamers and were “must-have” products. If you can make me, or any other third party, think we might have something like that on our hands we are very excited and might even try to publish something outside our normal zone of products we consider.

Alright, I’ve got some reservations, but I am still interested. I want to see what’s what with the intelligent weapons and the sentient traps. I read on…

Background

Well, I have to admit this is losing steam for me. Looks like intelligent weapons really mean cursed ones and some of the promise I saw in your submission—that the PCs might get to interact with intelligent weapons—is somewhat diminished. Plus, I’m not really thinking that MY fans—i.e.: fans of Necromancer Games—would really be interested in this. Of course, I’m not holding that against you here since that wasn’t the goal of the round. I’m just helping you by sharing with you how 3Ps think about submissions. Back to the contest, I think it is very likely that this kind of urban rebellion vibe, while not my cup of tea, would be well-received by Pathfinder fans. So you’ve lost some steam but you haven’t lost me totally.

I keep reading…

Encounters

First glance, I like the format you used. I like the “challenge types” summary. In the spoiler here I cut your submission down to what I took from each chapter, what I found important, and some of my thoughts as I read them.

Mike wrote:

Paraphrased from Mike's content

Chapter 1: Ancestral Voices
Challenge types: ethical, investigation
Woodsedge, small inn, shrine dedicated to Desna, cursed swords, decision to cut her head off.

Chapter 2: City without a Flag
Challenge types: combat, investigation
Yellow scythe outbreak. Mob attacked by figures waving gleaming blades. First good fight—Lutins v. Bluecaps. Party finds coin, leads to next stage at the minting facility.

Chapter 3: Filthy Lucre
Challenge types: combat, infiltration, investigation
Gang minting facitily, “unsheathed” traps that activate and reset themselves. Cultists with some mercs that are in the late stages of yellow scythe transformation. As they are confronted, they slash their own bodies open, and we get our new monster—the risen blades. PCs find out plan for yellow scythe and then find obligatory means for moving the story along to the next location—high priestess, Zaszmarkana, is hidden somewhere in Woodsedge and has a nasty weapon.

Chapter 4: The Friar is Missing
Challenge types: puzzle, investigation
Magic guillotine replaced with stone that has a quote on it from “On Government.” Clue to open the obelisk. Clue to next location plus, handily, a disguise kit so that you, too, can now be a Gray Gardner! New magic item—rod of rebellion.

Chapter 5: Labyrinth
Challenge types: combat, infiltration
Ruins, hedge maze, hidden warren where big bad has magic weapon. Guardian plague-ridden otyugh.

Chapter 6: House of Blades
Challenge types: combat
Lair of the big bad—an drow elf/spider who argues with a gnome (who, thankfully, is killed). She’s attached to a strange construct thing with a scythe apparently in its "bum".

My thoughts as I read…

Chapter 1: Not a bad start, but not that original either. The roleplay thing with the decision to chop off her head has the chance to be memorable.

Chapter 2: Not sure I like the names that much. Fight in public and chance to hit non-combatants is interesting but kind of “been there-done that.” Fake charity food distribution? Really? This all seems a bit forced and so many ways for this to get off track. The key to adventure flow is to channel the PCs without making them feel channeled. As a publisher I am really starting to worry about how the final of this is going to read and play. I’m going back and forth on your magic weapons idea. First I thought it held promise, then I felt let down by it being coins, now I learn about this “unsheathed” property which seems to bring back some of the fun.

Chapter 3: Injecting a new monster (or, often, monsters) into an adventure has been a staple since early on in the history of published adventures. Risen blades, though, aren’t grabbing me. I’m old school. To impress me you need to include something like a behir a la Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (or “Tsojconth,” if you have one of the rare copies). The risen blades just aren’t that good. Plus, the sentient traps just weren’t all I hoped they would be. So, basically, most of the things I was excited about this adventure have faded for me by this point.

Chapter 4: This one is really losing me now. Maybe it’s the libertarian/rebellion vibe. Just a tad too political for my taste. This is starting to clearly reveal itself to me as something I wouldn’t publish. But I’m not the target audience. I just want you to know that as a publisher, this is about the spot where I decided I wasn’t interested in this one and am starting to mentally compose the “thanks for your submission, we’ll contact you” email. But back to the contest, the rod is little more than a mace with some mind control warding and a plot device to find the real big magic item. Bland.

Chapter 5: This is all pretty cliché to me at this point. The best part, by far, and likely the high point of the adventure, is the otyugh. That is some nice stuff! But not good enough to save it in my eyes. Too bad, too. I like that otyugh. And I bet it will resonate with the fans of Paizo. Plus, I can’t deny the fun of the homage (if it was meant as one) to Gulga Cench.

Chapter 6: You already lost me. But this one has some serious problems. The “you walk in just in time to see plot event and NPC die” is tough to do. What if the PCs have some initiative related item or spell or something and they can actually save the gnome? (That begs the question who would save a gnome, but whatever, someone might). These types of scripted dramatic scenes can be really difficult and suggest your design mojo may not be the highest. Also, maybe I am just not picturing it right, but your main bad guy (girl) seems to be strapped to a construct and thus the main magic weapon here is sticking out of her bum. That’s going to get laughs at the game table, not “oh my god, we are going to die.” I don’t think your big bad should elicit those reactions. Maybe I’m just reading it wrong.

In the end, adventures are all about plot, locations, encounters, enemies and rewards. I don’t think you gave us consistent Superstar level to any of those elements, James. That’s not a criticism of you. You are in the final 4. You’ve got game. I’m just commenting on this submission. The locations are a bit cliché (inn, street, hedge maze, etc). The new elements—monster and item—are not knocking me out. And I have some concerns about how you are scripting your encounters.

Recommendation: James, unfortunately, I DO NOT RECOMMEND this submission as a potential winner for RPG Superstar 2012. I think you have given it a good try. I’ve enjoyed watching you grow through the contest. I loved Rajah's Silhouette. I thought the Cold Hearth Lodge was good. I liked the Hushfoot Bocan and as you know I felt that Mushti's Beguiling Oddities was really great with a classic, old school feel. That is a collection of work to be proud of! Best of luck in the contest and your post-Superstar career! I think, win or lose, we will be seeing more from you!

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

James! Welcome to the final round! You've been plugging along round by round and now you've reached the Top 4. This is it! This is your shot to translate your success this year into an opportunity at a real freelance assignment. Hopefully, you've had a lot of fun along the way, because this competition should be just as entertaining as it is nerve-wracking. And I'm interested to see what kind of inspired adventure proposal you have in store for us.

So, for the final adventure round, I like to break my commentary into two halves. The first assesses your pitch...meaning, how well you sold your ideas within the proposal itself. I think it's important to take a look at that because it gives us a more complete sense of your writing ability and how well you're able to present your ideas in order to win support for your work. That goes for the judges, the voters, and eventually the gaming community-at-large. It also offers a glimpse into how you'd structure your actual adventure so it conveys information to the reader in a useful, inspired manner.

The second part of my assessment will dive into each major element of your implied adventure and whether what you've presented here includes all the relevant pieces to hopefully make a great Pathfinder module. More than anything, that's really the goal here. While your pitch may demonstrate you've got the professional polish, creative writing ability, and organizational skills to entrust you with this type of assignment, it's the core ideas of your adventure which will convince voters to select your proposal as the one they most want to see on store shelves and available for purchase on Paizo's website. So, with all that in mind, let's get down to business...

Feedback for: The Unsheathed Revolution

The Pitch
Okay. This is the part where you need to sell your proposal to us...which means, you need to write well enough to convince us you know what you're doing with strong, purposeful design choices. That includes the underlying storytelling, pacing, and plot of your adventure; the choices you make with regards to the level requirement/CRs for each encounter; the number of maps you'll require for your chosen location(s); your sense of Golarion canon vs. how best to support the intellectual property of your publisher; your sense of scope and scale so you can fit everything in 32 pages; and so on. Basically, your adventure pitch should convince us you've got a good head on your shoulders when it comes to adventure design, and that you're the man Paizo (and the Paizo community) should entrust with this opportunity.

Hopefully, the prior rounds of this year's competition (as well as what you learned following along last year) helped develop an understanding of these things for you. Personally, my approach has always been to study what Paizo already does with their Pathfinder modules...i.e., how things are structured, how each adventure premise innovates around some new idea, and what kinds of limitations they put on you as a writer/storyteller. Likewise, I believe it's important to study the winning adventure proposals from prior years of RPG Superstar to get a sense of how they "sold" the readers, judges, and voters. If you can pick up on all those elements and adapt your proposal accordingly, you'll be light-years ahead of most would-be designers.

So, the first thing I notice when I read your submission is the adventure's intended name. The Unsheathed Revolution. That title conjures up some interesting imagery. Because of the immediate Galt connection (i.e., Golarion's nation of perpetual uprisings), I can already envision some cover art of a guillotine and a bunch of irate commoners clashing with Gray Gardeners. And, the fact that this potential conflict is stirred up by trouble-making, disease-spreading cultists is an interesting tie-in, since they're the reason this revolution has been “unsheathed” or released upon Galt. That said, I'm not completely sold on the title. There might be something better out there. Naming is actually one of the most important elements in adventure design. That's because it's the first thing people are going to see when they come across your module on the shelves. Thus, your adventure's name needs to be evocative enough to create a powerful image in the reader's mind so it makes them want to pick it up and read what lies behind the cover. One of the most useful tricks for selecting a powerful, evocative, or even iconic name is to name the adventure after one of two things: either, 1) the name of your primary adventure location (e.g., The Temple of Elemental Evil, White Plume Mountain, Tomb of Horrors), or 2) your primary villain (e.g., Queen of Spiders, Scourge of the Slave Lords, Crown of the Kobold King). The names of these adventures resonate because they draw upon the things your players will almost certainly remember and reminisce about after playing them...i.e., the cool location where it took place, or the awesome villain they faced. If your adventure name can tap into one or both of those things, you're on the right track.

Now, a title like The Unsheathed Revolution really doesn't hint towards either of those things. It's a bit too nebulous and my worry is that a lot of folks would pass over it on the bookstore shelves unless there was some really compelling cover art to draw them in. Personally, I think what you're really lacking here is a strong villain or a strong iconic location that you draw upon in your title. “The Unsheathed Revolution” just isn't evocative enough on its own. So, for now, your adventure's name is serviceable, but it could have used something more to punch it up.

So what about the rest of the pitch? I think you presented things reasonably well. I'd suggest you ditch the “chapter” organization, however, as Paizo favors “acts” in its adventures. If you'd examined some of their previous products, you'd have likely noticed that. Otherwise, everything's nice and orderly. You structured things well from a storytelling sense. The adventure background is clearly spelled out, you're reusing your Pallid Way from last round, while introducing a new concept with the yellow scythe disease. While I didn't care for yellow scythe that much (which I'll get into later), I can appreciate how it serves as the catalyst to the overall adventure. You've got some strong ideas here. And, properly guided by your developers, I think they can help you spin something worthy of the Superstar crown out of it.

From a cartographer's point of view, you've given us the equivalent of about four maps. We've got a Woodsedge town map with a possible inset for the encounter involving the Lutins and the Bluecaps (who I took to be Gray Gardeners), the ruined Thrune Revenue Annex, the Maze of the Open Road, and the House of Blades subterranean complex. All of those should be reasonably do-able within a 32-page module and support around 20 encounter locations fairly easily. I'm just not sure I've got a good idea of the 20 different encounters you'd actually include based on this proposal, though.

From a Golarion canon standpoint, I like how much you've researched Galt and tried to apply as much of the existing material as possible. There's value in building onto existing works like that. But, you also need to widen your perspective across Golarion to make sure you're not reduplicating anything that exists elsewhere. For instance, the Urgathoan cult making use of a metal-based transmission method for yellow scythe is really similar to how bloodveil was spread through silver coins released into the city of Korvosa during the Curse of the Crimson Throne: Seven Days to the Grave AP adventure. It pretty much relies on the exact same premise and adversary. Now, it doesn't turn existing weapons or traps into sentient things. But, I actually think that difference doesn't play to your favor. I'll get into that more a bit further on. For now, I'm heartened that you put a lot of meticulous detail into connecting up with Golarion canon. Unfortunately, there's been a lot done along these lines...including, I believe, some PFS scenarios that have dealt with the Woodsedge Pathfinder lodge and Maze of the Open Road. I'm sure James or someone else (including many of the voters) can probably speak to that better than I can, as I'm not as active in PFS play. Still, much like last year when Sam's proposal retread some ground covered by a PFS scenario, if your adventure proposal wins, I suspect it'll undergo some significant changes from what we see here.

The last thing I examined was a bit of analysis around the appropriateness of your implied encounters. You've got a lot of adversaries with class levels, so you can make them whatever you need to fit the bill. I'm not really worried about anything there. I'm a little curious about the plague-ridden otyugh guarding the Maze of the Open Road. Even with an applied template, I suspect you'll need to advance it in Hit Dice to ensure it meets the necessary CR to provide a challenging encounter. Other than that, there's not a whole lot more to assess. We get Zaszmarkana as some sort of hybrid drow noble cutlass spider/drider thing. And your new monster with the risen blade. But, I'm not really getting much of a sense for the types of encounters you'll include in this adventure that'll give us 20 different encounter locations. Ultimately, if you go on to win, your developer will guide you here. But, I'm still a little vexed that you didn't use this opportunity to give us a clear idea of what the PCs will face in the course of your adventure. There's a couple of encounters here, but they come off almost like one per chapter—some of which aren't even combat situations. So, you didn't quite go far enough here.

The Adventure
In my advice for RPG Superstar, I've written before about five key elements in good adventure design. Erik Mona and James Jacobs once shared this perspective at a GenCon seminar on “Writing for Dungeon Magazine” back in the day, and I've always found it extremely useful in plotting out compelling adventure scenarios. So, it's my hope that it'll also serve as a good metric for assessing how well your adventure holds up. Essentially, if you can address the following five things with as much “awesome” as you can muster, you've got a winning adventure proposal on your hands. Those five things boil down to: 1) a memorable villain whose goals are a legitimate threat which credibly prompts the PCs to act; 2) a unique and interesting set of locales which provide cool maps, memorable encounters, and innovative tactical/terrain situations; 3) a compelling and interesting plot wherein the villain's goals encroach on the PCs' world in a sustained, threatening manner where they get to become heroes at the center of attention throughout the adventure; 4) some interesting and entertaining minions and NPCs who have a credible reason for working with the villain, existing within the chosen locale(s), and create recurring problems for the PCs; and 5) an interesting, worthwhile reward which the PCs (and their players) will cherish for the rest of their adventuring careers. If you can achieve high marks in as many of those areas as possible in your design, you could have a real, winning idea on your hands. So, let's see how you measured up:

The Villain: Well, the ultimate villain in this adventure is Zaszmarkana, an Urgathoan cultist which is a weird drow noble hybrid spider/drider-like thing infusing herself with a disease to make the mechanical “underpinnings” of her emaciated body more deadly and functional. Okay. From a stat-block perspective, I find that kind of interesting and definitely different than any run-of-the-mill villain concept. It's even a little gonzo, but I can work with it. Meanwhile, her goals are also quite villainous...as most Urgathoans tend to be. I'd enjoy seeing you punch this up another notch, though. Is the spread of disease and a field-test for yellow scythe all that's going on? Your proposal mentions that her risen blades will “pacify” Woodsedge if the party fails to stop her. But what then? The Gray Gardeners have some potent magic and resources at their disposal, too. Consequently, it wouldn't take long for them to march into Woodsedge and put an end to her little game and small-scale uprising. So, to me, this villain doesn't reach far enough. Zaszmarkana has all the traits of an obsessed, misguided cultist, but that's really it.

The Locale(s) – This too is an area which I felt didn't have much going for it. The first little episode at the inn outside Woodsedge felt very tacked on. I can understand how it serves the purpose of introducing the PCs to yellow scythe, but the whole Tian Xia connection and the woman's desire to commit suicide because her family blade is talking to her feels very out of place in Galt and doesn't really support the theme of the adventure's chosen setting. I think you should ditch that entirely. It's a wasted encounter that could be easily replaced with some other situation to give PCs insight into what's happening in Woodsedge. Meanwhile, the ruined Thrune Revenue Annex is kind of cool. It's even reminiscent of the encounter location for Mushti's Beguiling Oddities that you offered up last round and I'm left wondering if you're hoping you can just reuse that map, much like you chose to reuse the Pallid Way (which reminds me too much of the Whispering Way). Unfortunately, I don't feel the same about the Maze of the Open Road. This is a major location that plays a very integral role in the Pathfinder Society and their lodge at Woodsedge. Far better to steer clear of that than step on something that's already been done for it. Same deal for the subterranean House of Blades complex under it, but you can relocate that pretty much anywhere else if you steer clear of the labyrinth.

I also think you could have benefited more by viewing your locations in cinematic terms. What physical traits of these adventuring locales will make the combats there any different from the other locations in the adventure? Is there difficult terrain involved? Are the PCs faced with flight-capable foes they can take on in the air themselves? Is there any elevated terrain? What about traps, curses, or haunt-like effects? You can really punch things up to make your encounters more memorable for players and GMs if you spend some energy toward anticipating and building in those types of situations. It's what'll lead them to be talking about your adventure for years to come. And, more importantly, it's what we need to know about your adventure proposal to get a sense of how awesome it would be if you got the green light to do it. Now you touch on that a bit with your animated traps due to the yellow scythe thing, but I can't tell if they're supposed to be animated objects or intelligent weapons in trap form. It's left too ill-defined to come away thinking you're good to go here.

The Plot – This is what really worries me. I'm really not feeling the yellow scythe angle. Not because metal is a bad delivery vector for spreading disease. In fact, it's been done in Seven Days to the Grave, which is one of the most popular adventures Paizo has ever done. Instead, the thing that really puts me off from yellow scythe is the notion that it can imbue metal weapons and metallic traps with intelligence, sentience, and magic powers. That's just not how those kinds of things get conveyed. And I saw yellow scythe as more of a broken concept for a disease than something innovative and good for the game. Unfortunately, this serves as the core underpinning driving your entire adventure. It's even layered into your ultimate villain since she's using some of it to infuse her metallic lower body to compensate for the wasting disease that claimed her legs. If you win, I really think you need to go back to the drawing board on this adventure concept. A cult of Urgathoan priests trying to influence another revolution in Galt is perfectly plausible. I just think they need a different vector for it. My recommendation would be to go for some kind of mind-affecting disease whereby the cultists gain control of the populace and/or government officials in a position of power. Push for more of an undead connection, too. Urgathoans aren't just about disease. Their goddess is the source of all undead, as well...not just these risen blades. I was kind of surprised that more undead varieties didn't get played up somewhere in the overall plot for the adventure proposal.

The Minions – This too was lacking for me. Again, yellow scythe represents the only vehicle for defining any meaningful minions for Zaszmarkana. Her risen blades are meant to fulfill this role, but I didn't feel like they went far enough...or, you didn't convey a large enough sense of their presence in the adventure. Frankly, if you had, I don't know that I'd find it all that appealing anyway. After all, an entire adventure of slogging your way through incorporeal undead would be frustrating in the extreme without some ghost touch weaponry. I think if you morphed yellow scythe into something other than a sentience-and-magic-providing disease for metal that transforms people into spectral sword-wielders, it would work better. Again, the mind-affecting angle is the best way to go. That way, the Urgathoans can hide behind mind-control while they stir up rebellion and protect their lair with undead minions.

The Reward - The major pay-off here seems to be some magic weapons from Zaszmarkana's corpse and the rod of rebellion. I didn't get a good sense of what the latter can do despite the limited description you gave it. If it aids you against magical compulsion and charm effects (which don't need to be italicized, by the way), that could certainly prove to be a boon if yellow scythe was more of a mind-affecting disease. But I need to know more specifics about it. Meanwhile, the locate object aspect to help find final blades felt very contrived. That makes this item nothing more than a plot device, which is one of the auto-reject categories we always cite when rejecting people for selection into the Top 32 of RPG Superstar. I'm kind of disheartened to see you include something like this as your item idea, as it means you didn't really absorb the lesson we've described around that.

Conclusion
Okay. That's probably a lot to absorb, and I'm sure everything didn't come across as positive to you. For the most part, I thought you did a decent job with your proposal. I could see what you were going for...it just didn't all come together for me. It's possible that this adventure's premise could become something special under the skilled guidance of your Paizo developers. However, I'm fairly certain a good amount of your suppositions and decisions regarding the adventure's plot would be changed up. That said, there's still enough potential here that it might resonate with the voters. The idea of an adventure involving Galt probably holds a fair amount of interest among the voting community. And I also think Paizo would prefer something like that which helps them refine an existing area of their campaign setting rather than a whole new plane, the fringe of outer space, or the depths of an entire ocean. So, maybe you've struck a chord with this idea? I think it's incomplete, though. Paizo will have its hands full to develop and refine your proposal while adding more material to help flesh it out.

So, in the end, I have to say that I DO NOT RECOMMEND this adventure proposal for consideration as the ultimate winner of RPG Superstar 2012. I championed Tom's The Scarlet God and Mike's Doom Comes to Dustpawn instead as I think they've both got the chops to deliver the goods and their adventure outlines hold equal promise. Next to Tom, however, I do think you're next in line in terms of full-on capabilities to carry an entire adventure scenario. This one just didn't sing out to me this go-around. But who knows? The voters may favor what you've got here. Or, maybe they'll like Steve's underwater romp because they're eager for some undersea action. It'll be interesting to see which adventure the public favors the most. Regardless of how things go, I wish you the very best of luck in the outcome. And, no matter what, I'm certain you'll make the most of this experience and your opportunity to design something new for Paizo. You've done a lot of great work this year. And I'm glad to see it pay off for you by reaching the Top 4.

My sincere two cents and best wishes in your future freelancing career,
--Neil

Paizo Employee Creative Director

First of all, congratulations on making it to the final round! That's an accomplishment in and of itself! My review of the proposal (as with the other three adventure reviews) focuses primarily upon how the adventure fits into the Inner Sea region, how interesting the adventure functions as a whole, and any potential changes/trouble spots we’ll need to have addressed should the proposal end up winning. I'm going to present feedback with very little sugar-coating as well, since I've always felt that frank and honest feedback is more valuable.

The Basics

Title: Not fond of the title. Part of my concern with the title rises from the fact that I’m not a fan of the name “unsheathed weapon” as the new weapon quality. So if we change that, the adventure’s title doesn’t make sense. If this adventure wins... it’ll get renamed.

Location: Of the four proposals... this adventure’s location is the strongest. Galt feels uniquely Golarion, and it’s a place we’ve not done much with... although it’s a bit unfortunate that you’ve chosen to set a significant part of this adventure in the same place the Pathfinder Society Scenario “Requiem for the Red Raven” took place. Not an insurmountable problem at all... but one that I’ll be touching on in “Development Concerns” below.

Plot: This is a cool plot... although there’s an element that’s too close to my tastes to “Seven Days From the Grave.” Aside from that, this is a solid adventure plot that, perhaps, feels a bit TOO linear. It's a good story, but it needs adventure added to it!

The Good

1) The bad guy plot to spread sickness via contaminated metal is cool... but see #2 in Development Concerns.

2) This proposal is VERY well organized. Easy and fun to read. I never felt like I was scrambling to keep up with the plot or missing out on some element that I should have known about. And that really increases my confidence in your ability to organize and present an entire adventure. Well done.

3) Although the name of the risen blade will need to change (see #6 under Development Concerns), I really do like these monsters. They’re a bit difficult to illustrate, alas... I’d rather they look like SOMETHING since we will need to put some sort of illustration in the adventure of them...

4) The initial scene in Chapter 1 is really interesting and compelling... but it feels curiously detached from the rest of the adventure. If this scene can be finessed into introducing the PCs to the fact that weapons are becoming tainted by some strange magic, then send them to Woodsedge to seek the source of the weird taint, that’d make this scene MUCH stronger and compelling and useful in the context of the adventure as a whole.

5) The Incubator is a really cool sounding monster!

6) As for cool monsters... the main villain being a drow priestess of Urgathoa who uses a cutlass spider as a mount due to her atrophied legs is a REALLY compelling and interesting bad gal. Easily my favorite villain out of all four proposals. That said... drow normally worship demons. Don’t forget to include in her backstory a reason not only why she worships Urgathoa and not a demon, but a reason why she left the Darklands in the first place. It strikes me that those two reasons could support each other quite well.

7) It's not wahoo. One of the biggest problems I see popping up every year in RPG Superstar proposals is that authors get too over-the-top in their plots. Things like walking dungeons and extraplanar invasions from the First World and the Shadow Plane and adventures set in exotic regions like Jalmeray make for great adventures... but the more exotic an adventure gets... the more difficult it is for most groups to fit it into a campaign. Alone of the four adventure proposals this year, you avoid going to other planes/planets/exotic locations. This lets you focus more of your wordcount on the adventure itself rather than the rules you'll need to run the adventure. I'd like to see more of this type of proposal in future RPG superstars. Wow me with your ability to come up with cool adventures, not just your ability to invoke the strange and outlandish.

Development Concerns

1) The biggest concern is the use of the Maze of the Open Road. If we don’t just outright change this element to some other location (that’s actually my preference) we’ll need to figure out how to make this adventure work hand-in-hand with what’s been done already for the Maze of the Open Road in “Requiem for the Red Raven.” That could be really, really tricky. I’d MUCH prefer to see this adventure set somewhere else. It can still take place in Woodsedge... just go to different places in Woodsedge than the lodge and the maze. Again... since we’ve not done much else with Galt, I’m eager to explore new areas, not rehash/revisit one of the few we’ve actually detailed.

2) In Pathfinder #8, “Seven Days to the Grave,” we had a cult of Urgathoa spreading a plague using coins as one of several vectors. I’d like to focus away from the coin element in this adventure as a result, which would mean losing the counterfeiting house angle. Replacing that with a large forge of weapons could work well... especially since that lets the adventure focus on yellow scythe as being associated with weapons, not ALL metal. A focus that I think makes the weird disease more interesting and less problematic.

3) Not a fan of unsheathed weapon as the name for the weapon quality/curse. It doesn’t really make sense that a weapon infected with a weird undead infection would be called “unsheathed.” Maybe if the curse only made you go crazy and pull your weapon out to go killcrazy, but this quality/curse is more than that. I’d like this name to change.

4) On the subject of name changes, I understand why you chose to call the disease “yellow scythe,” since a scythe is a weapon AND is associated with Urgathoa. I worry a little bit that it’s too convenient a name, though... and perhaps a tad confusing considering it’s something that affects any metal weapons... not just scythes.

5) Magical effects that don’t detect as magic are tricky to pull off. And, honestly, I’m not sure what the purpose is of making yellow scythe infected weapons not detect as magic. Seems like a needless complication to me.

6) More name stuff. “Risen blade” is a cool name for an undead creature that fights with a magic sword... but yellow scythe can affect ALL metal weapons. A risen blade who fights with a warhammer or a pick or a mace sounds weird... the word “blade” is not a good synonym for weapon. This name will need to change as well.

7) The use of the symbol of Urgathoa on the infected coins is a bit too obvious... but since I’d like to move away from using coins as a vector, I’m not too concerned about this.

8) Urgathoa is neutral evil. The risen blades should be neutral evil as well as a result. They can still be loyal to her without being lawful.

9) The adventure seems actually kind of sparse. There’s a fair amount going on... but I’m not sure how many encounters there are. Fortunately, between the various locations, there’s plenty of places to bulk the encounters out. And frankly... it’s better to start small and then build more to fill the wordcount than it is to over-design and end up having to cut or compress! Still... it seems almost more like a novel proposal than it does an adventure proposal. You'll need to work to make sure that there's enough going on in here to function as a 32 page adventure, complete with opportunities to explore, get in fights, and get treasure!

Final Thoughts
This proposal has a great combination of cool villains, easy to follow and compelling story, good organization, and some really neat-sounding encounters. The only real problem I have with this proposal is the unfortunate fact that it’s got part of its locations in the Maze of the Open Road... a location we’ve already featured in an adventure. But that’s really easy to change—just place that portion of the adventure somewhere else. That, plus a few name changes and the elimination of the counterfeit coin element and the bolstering of the first encounter’s links to the rest of the adventures, is about all that I can see being trouble during development/design. Overall... a VERY well done adventure proposal.

As a result, I do recommend “The Unsheathed Revolution” for consideration as the winner of RPG Superstar 2012.

Contributor

Clark, James, and Neil have already given detailed responses covering most of what I'd say, so I'll just add a few comments.

First, let me admit my bias that I'm not a fan of Galt, and I think trying to get adventurers to go there is like trying to get people to take a fun vacation in Somalia.

The Tian elements in the introduction seem out of place in Galt--I'd think the Galtans would quickly turn on foreigners. It also seems out of place in the adventure because it's not a significant point of the rest of the adventure.

It's strange that the yellow scythe metal corrupts metal weapons, which then corrupt their bearers. It seems convoluted to me. Why doesn't a yellow scythe coin directly try to corrupt someone who carries it? Or, why use metal as the vector at all, why not create a new type of incorporeal undead that can hide itself in metal, slowly corrupting it? There are a lot of cool opportunities with that... I just don't see "magical undead disease that infects metal and then infects people" as something the cult would work toward.

"Filthy Lucre" an overused term and you should avoid it.

"Zaszmarkana" sounds to me like a combination of "Szass Tam" (of the Forgotten Realms) and "Texarkana."

I do not recommend you vote for this adventure proposal.

CEO, Goblinworks

Terrible name.

I liked the initial pitch - someone is using intelligent weapons to mess with Galt. That is a pretty original idea and something I could see turning into a really fun adventure.

Adventure Background

Didn't like the Pallid Way before, don't like them now.

Wait....coins? How do coins translate to intelligent magic weapons.

So the plot here is "spread chaos"? In Galt?

"Unsheathed weapon" - horrible horrible name.

Chapter One

Yay, anachronism in the very first sentence!

Wait, the entire section is an anachronism.

Oh, and careful investigation gives away the whole plot.

And there's a chance that the PC's best gear gets screwed up too.

Chapter Two

Fight breaks out between folks the PCs have no vested interest in. Why are they going to get involved?

And .... the coins are marked with the symbol of Urgathoa. When the PCs wake up from being slapped hard in the face with the clue, they can continue to .... visit the village?

Chapter 3

A puzzle/trap scenario to stop a coin minting operation wherein the PCs can get royally screwed by their own gear.

Chapter 4

Exposition by the designer, a riddle players are unlikely to ever solve without GM fiat, and a MacGuffin to eliminate any reason to explore the environs of the village.

Chapter 5

Fight one monster.

Chapter 6

The PCs see a drider! But only for a moment, because then they know that she's not a drider.

And then the PCs get to face vorpal weapons. Because a random chance of dying every round is always fun. And explaining to the survivors why no, they can't figure out how to use those weapons themselves is always fun too.

Problems

No villain until the very end. Up until that point there's no way for the PCs to know anything about what they're up against. And they go from a "follow the clues" scenario to a "fight for your life" encounter with no warning.

No reason for the PCs to care. Galt is a messed up crazy place full of folks willing to open the veins of their neighbors with little notice or cause anyway. What's happening here seems par for the course.

The promise of the initial pitch - intelligent magic weapons being used as a way to drive a plot - is lost along the way.

Judge's Recommendation

I do not recommend that you vote for this designer.


I liked the name so I am disagreeing with that others, at least that much. What I don't like is that I was expecting a political and/or espionage based story.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

It's probably me because I've just taken a philosophy and sociology course back to back the previous two quarters and I get this whole phallocentricism feminist perspective as if Ayn Rand hooked up with Andrea Dworkin to come up with this to tap in a commentary about the 60's counter culture sexual revolution and how it concludes in a radical reinterpretation of the AIDS scare of the 80's by being able to dismantle the means of perpetuating the disease using the French Revolution as the background in a way that Robespierre never dreamed.

The unsheathed revolution. The Rod of Rebellion. Disease spreading swords. Incubators. The empowered antagonist in Zaszmarkana, Friar Sharpness, the unsheathed weapons becoming powerless at the adventure's end; I could go on.

Then again, my blood sugar may be low right now and I could be imagining things. I'm really hungry for a bratwurst right now, but I'll refrain from using a knife to spread the garnish. Better yet, I need to check if it was washed and sanitized. I'm bad about doing the dishes.

I want to like this. I really do. It's an interesting era and I know a couple of buds that appreciate Galt (especially this Commie Bolshevik Goblin that lurks around OTD), but I feel like I'm channeling Derrida to deconstruct what I'm reading here.

:(

Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

I like the layout and organization, and it's nice to see serious consideration given to the type of challenge in each section. We need more puzzles! Good luck!

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka primemover003

James I love the core idea of this adventure, but right off the bat I thought this adventure was part of PF#8 "Seven Days to the Grave" and part "War of the Wielded" from Dungeon #149.

I thought the samurai angle was way too forced in Galt and the Fake Drider/Drow oracle also felt out of place.

That said I like the layout and love investigative adventures. With a bit of development this can be a great adventure...

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
First, let me admit my bias that I'm not a fan of Galt, and I think trying to get adventurers to go there is like trying to get people to take a fun vacation in Somalia.

Sean I think if people don't want to play in a region then somehow Paizo needs to detail that area so they DO want to play there. I had a similar bias against Galt until I read Kevin Andrew Murphy's "The Secret of the Rose and Glove."

--Vrockstar

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

TBH- While I think the execution needs work, it's definitely something I would love to play.

Although my vote is going elsewhere, if you become a runner up--Submit this proposal to the Pathfinder Society. As an avid player, I love political drama and intrigue, and it's the perfect platform for all of it. That, and we should go to Galt more often in PFSOP anyway :)

Good luck!


First thoughts on reading this are, not my cup of tea as a GM but my cup of tea as a player. The name would be enough to get my interest as such. The poisoned weapons would make me groan and generally avoid anything but the quickest possible battles. The final encounter sounds like a blast to play.

After reading the comments posted thus far, I'm a little confused about why people that aren't involved in Pathfinder Society would get denied a module like this because it is the same site as a Pathfinder Society module. Not touching the whole Pathfinder #8 thing, never read or played it.

Still, best of luck on the final round.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ryan Dancey wrote:

Chapter One

Yay, anachronism in the very first sentence!

Wait, the entire section is an anachronism.

I don't think you understand the meaning of the word "anachronism."

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

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I really like this one. I really like this one.

First of all, holy cow it is well-written. At all times, it's clear, direct, and interesting. Reading the proposal was enjoyable and fun - and that's something I can't say about many pro RPG products of my acquaintance. James, that's incredibly encouraging to me, because it speaks to your skill as a writer and a communicator, and to your professionalism and attention to detail. Capable and engaging presentation is a huge merit in a Superstar contestant; you showed us you've got it with your R4 entry, and you're keeping it up beautifully for the big finale.

As for the content itself, I think you did really nicely in choosing a few core, compelling elements to build your adventure up around. I think almost everybody found your elevator pitch to be exciting, but some felt the follow-through didn't justify it - particularly that the sentience of the items, a big draw, doesn't come into play clearly. That's very valid criticism, but I think this can be amply addressed in the final product. It's pretty clear to me, from your proposal structure and from how investigation games tend to run, that you couldn't aim to explain all the encounters and locale exploration the final adventure would have - and that's exactly where you'd be able to put that. You outlined the main narrative for us here, and convinced us you've got a workable investigation thread; all the rest will necessarily be minor side-treks and expansions, and going into detail about them would have been distracting. I'm sure you can flesh out the rest just as well as you've handled the main bits. The first couple of encounters - Yubi's "voices" and the Bluecaps fight - demonstrate your ability to construct self-contained scenes that tie in with the primary plot and strengthen it in interesting ways.

I've read through all the entries, and barring some radical revelation or reassessment, this entry has my vote. Even if every single name in it needs to be changed :P

Best of luck - and great work!

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

Though I agree with a lot of the criticisms the judges have raised, there are a few that seem to me a matter of factual inaccuracy or minor misunderstandings. Quibbles ahoy!

Quibble the First: Clark on scripted events:
Clark Peterson wrote:
The “you walk in just in time to see plot event and NPC die” is tough to do. What if the PCs have some initiative related item or spell or something and they can actually save the gnome?

But - emphasis mine:

James Olchak wrote:
Upon entering the workshop, the two can be witnessed arguing. Demas, a whining, plaintive gnome, pleads with his companion to not "desecrate the artifact further." He is summarily ignored by Zaszmarkana, who appears to be an elven woman with the lower body of a great spider, draped in a tarp-like covering. If the conversation is allowed to continue, the priestess casually rears up on spindly legs and beheads her nattering underling, as her cloak slides to the ground.

It's very clear to me that the PCs can interfere here if they choose to.

Quibble the Second: Sean on infectiousness:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
It's strange that the yellow scythe metal corrupts metal weapons, which then corrupt their bearers. It seems convoluted to me. Why doesn't a yellow scythe coin directly try to corrupt someone who carries it?

I think it does corrupt the carrier - it just corrupts the weapons also. (Maybe it corrupts the carrier, who then corrupts the weapon, which makes perfect sense IMHO). At any rate, if you didn't manage to corrupt the carrier and his weapon, you'd just be fighting some sick people instead of sick people with awesome weapons :P

Bonus Quibble: In which Standback is a nitpicking meddler:
Clark Peterson wrote:

In the spoiler here I cut your submission down to what I took from each chapter, what I found important, and some of my thoughts as I read them.

Mike wrote:

Paraphrased from Mike's content

[...]

Who's Mike?

:P

CEO, Goblinworks

Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
Ryan Dancey wrote:

I don't think you understand the meaning of the word "anachronism."

It's something that's out of time & place for its setting. Like Chapter One.


Ryan Dancey wrote:
Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
Ryan Dancey wrote:

I don't think you understand the meaning of the word "anachronism."
It's something that's out of time & place for its setting. Like Chapter One.

Not that I'm enthralled with this entry, but:

"Yay, anachronism in the very first sentence!"

Here's is the first sentence:

"The party begins ten miles north of Woodsedge near a small inn built in a fashion common to Tian Xia, but unusual in Avistan. A small stone shrine dedicated to the goddess Desna stands by the roadside."

Where's the anachronism? Is it the Tian stuff? If so, I don't get it, Tian Xia certainly exits in the adventures time and place.

Just trying to understand the critique.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

cibet44 wrote:
...Where's the anachronism? Is it the Tian stuff? If so, I don't get it, Tian Xia certainly exists in the adventure's time and place.

Not to speak for Ryan, but yes, I believe he's referring to the inclusion of Tian Xia material in Galt...which is literally on the complete opposite side of the world from Minkai. It's out of place for that part of the world...at least to the degree in which it got invoked here. I think the judges universally felt that way. Not just Ryan. It doesn't really serve the adventure in any meaningful way. The Tian connection, at least. Instead, it could just as easily be replaced with a more Galtan encounter/scenario rather than purposefully injecting Tian Xia into the writeup for no essential reason.

A good precursor/warning to this situation would be Sam's decision to include a Tian-style bathhouse in his Druma encounter during the prior round. Most of us established this same sort of concern in our review of his writeup. It's not so much that a practitioner of Tian culture couldn't show up in another part of Golarion. It's just that the inclusion of it in these particular scenarios (i.e., Sam's encounter and James' adventure proposal) comes across as very arbitrary and unconnected to the adventure. In that sense, it's somewhat anachronistic with regards to the surrounding material and theme of these writeups. In other words, a poor choice...and we cited it as such.

But that's just my two cents,
--Neil


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Neil Spicer wrote:
cibet44 wrote:
...Where's the anachronism? Is it the Tian stuff? If so, I don't get it, Tian Xia certainly exists in the adventure's time and place.
Not to speak for Ryan, but yes, I believe he's referring to the inclusion of Tian Xia material in Galt...which is literally on the complete opposite side of the world from Minkai. It's out of place for that part of the world...at least to the degree in which it got invoked here. [...] In that sense, it's somewhat anachronistic with regards to the surrounding material and theme of these writeups. In other words, a poor choice...and we cited it as such.

There's no disagreement that it appears out of place. I believe the point EML and cibet44 is trying to pin upon is the chronology. While I know some people will cringe because of the source, but to quote the wikipedia entry:

An anachronism [...] is a chronological inconsistency in some arrangement, especially a juxtaposition of person(s), events, objects, or customs from different periods of time. Often the item misplaced in time is an object, but it may be a verbal expression, a technology, a philosophical idea, a musical style, a material, a custom, or anything else associated with a particular period in time so that it is incorrect to place it outside its proper temporal domain.

In the current year of Golarion, the contents existing in Tian Xia and Galt could theoretically exist with regard to chronology. There's already enough settings and locale in the Inner Sea region that should not - from a historical perspective - co-exist. Otherwise, there would be no need to retcon the creation of gunpowder from the 3.5 edition to the current incarnation of the Inner Sea hardcover to a date much closer to the current year of the campaign setting.

At this point, I admit we're all splitting hairs on the definition of a word to debate semantics. But I understand the need for some people to point that out so that the contestant is not penalized for something from a bad design choice from a historical / chronological perspective, but rather from a logistical / cultural one. We can just chalk it up as a bad word choice to explain a position taken and move on. :)


Wasn't there a rather famous paizo product that had Tian Xia material included in a location on the other side of the world from Tian Xia? I seem to remember something involving an inn and a brother and sister.


Caedwyr wrote:
Wasn't there a rather famous paizo product that had Tian Xia material included in a location on the other side of the world from Tian Xia? I seem to remember something involving an inn and a brother and sister.

True.

However, in this competition (and now that Neal has explained the apparent logic behind the comment) I can see the validity in the complaint. I would describe the Tian content here as "pandering to the guest judge that is obviously a big supporter of Tian Xia" rather than an "anachronism" though. I do agree it is jarring to see it in this proposal, so I guess that could be defined as "out of time and place".

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Caedwyr wrote:
Wasn't there a rather famous paizo product that had Tian Xia material included in a location on the other side of the world from Tian Xia? I seem to remember something involving an inn and a brother and sister.

Not to belabor it (as I agree with Urizen, above), but you're comparing apples and oranges here. In the case of RotRL, the inclusion of Tian Xia material in that instance was 1) a lot closer by way of Varisia than Galt or Druma would be, and, perhaps more importantly, 2) the inclusion of that material was a core element to the adventure's backstory and premise. In other words, if you're going to tap that kind of cultural disparity in a design, make sure it's the highlight of the design. Not an oddly placed encounter or reference that doesn't really serve an essential role. Ameiko and the Kaijitsu family are essential to RotRL. And therein lies the difference in what I'm trying to say.


Neil Spicer wrote:
Caedwyr wrote:
Wasn't there a rather famous paizo product that had Tian Xia material included in a location on the other side of the world from Tian Xia? I seem to remember something involving an inn and a brother and sister.
Not to belabor it (as I agree with Urizen, above), but you're comparing apples and oranges here. In the case of RotRL, the inclusion of Tian Xia material in that instance was 1) a lot closer by way of Varisia than Galt or Druma would be, and, perhaps more importantly, 2) the inclusion of that material was a core element to the adventure's backstory and premise. In other words, if you're going to tap that kind of cultural disparity in a design, make sure it's the highlight of the design. Not an oddly placed encounter or reference that doesn't really serve an essential role. Ameiko and the Kaijitsu family are essential to RotRL. And therein lies the difference in what I'm trying to say.

Also true.

However, just to be fair, Ameiko and the Kaijitsu family are essential to JR. They are extraneous to RotRL and only briefly appear in Burnt Offerings as background NPCs.


I guess I've never seen Ameiko and Kaijitsu as being from Tian Xia as essential to their characters or the roles they play in Rise of the Runelord. It's always seemed to me that they could just as easily be replaced by another brother/sister pair that has had some sort of family falling out. The set-up used for this module proposal seemed a lot more consistent and the Tian Xia content seemed better integrated.

That said, I also see the argument that it isn't necessary and the introduction to the module could be written in a different way. I just don't see it's inclusion as being such a big positive or negative. The criticism of whether the Tian connection is necessary or not is a valid point. Mr. Dancey's criticism while tangentially related was innaccurate and he's been justifiably called out on it.

Contributor

Caedwyr wrote:
I guess I've never seen Ameiko and Kaijitsu as being from Tian Xia as essential to their characters or the roles they play in Rise of the Runelord. It's always seemed to me that they could just as easily be replaced by another brother/sister pair that has had some sort of family falling out.

Not to get us even more off track, but you have to remember that Jacobs has been planning to do Jade Regent since, well, since Rise of the Runelords. He planted the seed for JR in our very first adventure path. So no, it's not essential to RotR, but in the greater continuity of "there is a story here that is bigger than a single adventure path," it is very relevant to the continuity of the setting.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Sure. I'm just saying that it seems perfectly reasonable for a module writer to see what Paizo has done and be inspired to do a variation of the theme. But, as you've said we're getting off track here.

Spoiler:
I tend to get annoyed when I see a "Do as I say/think, not as I do type criticisms"

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka BobROE

Caedwyr wrote:

Sure. I'm just saying that it seems perfectly reasonable for a module writer to see what Paizo has done and be inspired to do a variation of the theme. But, as you've said we're getting off track here.

Yes, but they're not saying you can't use characters for Tian Xia, more that they don't really work in Galt.

Which was my issue with them personally, in Galt it seems that anyone who looked "different" would be the first to be taken out by a revolution.


I like this proposal a lot. But after reading the judge's comments, I don't think it's going to get my vote. I hate that out of my own stubbornness, but when industry insiders point out flaws, they're worth considering.

I never read Seven Days to the Grave, but your proposal's introduction does remind me of a module printed in the latter days of the print run of Dungeon about a group of intelligent swords that had to be destroyed by feeding them to a giant rust monster.

The nature of the yellow scythe is perplexing. It's a disease but also a curse. Okay, so kinda like mummy rot - I'll give you that one. But it makes weapons intelligent and gives them an alignment. That alignment may not necessarily be evil - but the endgame of any weapon so corrupted is to morph its wielder into an undead horror, and it radiates faint necromancy if hit with detect magic. *head explodes* At the very least, this stuff shouldn't confer anything but evil alignment to the weapons it taints. Make this stuff sinister - otherwise, you diminish the potential threat in the eyes of the PCs if they can rationalize the infection as a potentially good thing.

I'm not as canon-mindful as some other posters, so the thing with the Maze doesn't disturb me either. And I love the shriveled/crippled drow priestess using an alchemical/mechanical spider suit to get around. That's a good kind of gonjo mojo in my book.

This entry is also very well-written and flows very nicely. I never felt lost or had to back up much to understand key elements - a constant problem with at least one other proposal this round.

This is very, very, good. I'm just not sure it stacks up to "The Scarlet God" in terms of overall polish. But man would I steal ideas from this proposal for my Carrion Crown game in a heartbeat, just for the interesting Urgathoa cult angle.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

I don't like the title / weapon name but I do really like this proposal and you've got my vote.

Nice one, James.

Star Voter 2013

I have to say, wow. I was riveted by this adventure from the second line - the first one being the title, which is alright, but could have been better.

Now, I haven't read two other of the entries, but I don't know if they can compare to something like this. I loved the villian, the motivation, the backstory, the use of magical weapons that can't be treasure, the variety of challenges, and especially the writing.

You have my respect, sir, and if this adventure were to be published, I would buy it. And, most likely you will have my vote, too.

Star Voter 2013

Now, after reading all the criticism, there's a flip-side to this urgathoa faced coin. Your adventure isn't perfect; you need a lot of work on your naming, and you need to better understand use of the different areas of Golarion. But, I would have made the exact same sort of mistakes.

So, I really think with a little 'training' you could become a really big name here, even though your work needs work.

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

Kudos for choosing Galt as the location for your adventure. That's brave. I find Galt fascinating, but a daunting place to even consider using as a backdrop for an adventure.

I zeroed in on the whole Urgathoan cultists/magical disease/transmitted by metal thing immediately, as Crimson Throne was the first AP (well, second after Shackled City, so first post-Dungeon AP) I ran as a DM. Seven Days to the Grave is my favorite adventure of the bunch, and my favorite title not yet used by Motorhead for a song. So I immediately zeroed in on that as a misstep, as it immediately sets off my "been there, done that" alarm.

There are some interesting elements here. I like the name Friar Sharpness for the Final Blade, and I found your villain evocative and a good final obstacle for the adventure. As a whole though, the adventure doesn't really grab me. If I were looking at it as a customer in my local game store with a limited amount of money to spend, I might hang on to it as a "maybe" but I'd still be looking through the stacks for something else.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 8

James, your writing is beautiful. I think you're probably the best writer still in the competition. That matters a lot. Your phraseology is lovely and really makes your entries a pleasure to read. I would be very happy to see your work in print. You've really got something.

I really want to love this. It's a well put together mystery which is one of the hardest adventure types to pull off. It succeeds to some extent and the PCs should be pretty worried about contracting yellow scythe by the end of the adventure. I like Zaszmarkana, I like the opening scene and I love Friar Sharpness as a name for the final blade.

However, it just doesn't set the pulse racing. Most of the naming is uninspiring (especially given the quality of language on offer throughout the entry) and the coin plot just seems strange. The intelligence of the weapons is underused. That seems like a big deal and could be very entertaining as PCs start to become infected. I think you should have played that up more or removed it. It feels like a minor side effect of the disease but it should be a major role-playing point.

I think you've been great in this competition, James. I really liked Cold Hearth Lodge (so much so I used it in my round 4 entry) and Mushti's Beguiling Oddities was my favourite in the encounter round. I want to give you my vote, but I fear it may be going elsewhere.

That said, I look forward to seeing whatever you write for Paizo and wish you luck in all your writing efforts!


Disclaimer:
Ask A RPGSupersuccubus provides the much needed viewpoint of a CE aligned (very advanced) succubus. The following review pays assiduous attention to fairness, balance, and logic. That said, these are Abyssal notions of those concepts, wheretofore today ‘fairness’ is an installation (occasionally of a ‘blast’ variety) commonly employed by someone with an over-the-top posh accent for smelting metals or toasting lightly flammable enemies, ‘balance’ is a large green vaguely pachyderm creature with a penchant for trampling magi, and logic is a very special form of magic which irrefutably proves a succubus is always right.

For the purpose of reviewing this proposal, I shall consider the quartet of adventurous succubi Anthea, Byrria, Cynthia and Daria to be in the area. Whilst it is at least unwise (if not outright foolish) to take any succubus for granted, I am sufficiently familiar with the four of them to be certain of their likely general reactions to any circumstance detailed here. As a matter of Good Manners, here are a few details regarding the four:
Anthea:

Spoiler:
Anthea is an inquisitor who loosely associates with the church of Gorum. She enjoys uncovering the truth ‘by any and all means necessary’ – and the public exposure of the trivial little secrets that mortals keep from one another is often (at the very least) good for causing a punch up. She is fond of spiked armour and (by succubus standards) is relatively enthusiastic when it comes to physical brawling.

Byrria:
Spoiler:
Byrria is a lady ‘archeologist’ – she dislikes to use the term ‘tomb-robber’ to describe herself except when there happens to be a cleric of Asmodeus in the vicinity whom a whiff of anything remotely illegal is guaranteed to successfully wind-up. The cultures of some mortals whereby the deceased are buried with extraordinarily valuable and nice looking objects is something which she’s never quite understood the mentality behind, but which she nonetheless appreciates tremendously – since she loves to acquire such objects and it’s often less fuss and easier to remove them from ‘archeological sites’ than from a palace patrolled and supervised by living guards.
Byrria is a fan of the demon lords Aldinach and Areshkagal.

Cynthia:
Spoiler:
Cynthia is a wizardess. She’s interested in unlocking the secrets of the universe to gain vast personal power, and is more than happy to share what she’s learned thus far with anyone foolish enough to suggest ‘there’s no such thing as a wizardess; only a female wizard’. (Generally such ‘sharings’ tend to involve evocation spells of a highly destructive nature, or the summoning of large heavy metal objects in the vicinity of ten feet above the wit in question’s head.)
Owing to a misunderstanding during an escapade when she was dealing with some daemons Cynthia acquired a paladin of Erastil familiar (Also Known As a ‘husband’). She generally leaves her familiar at home, moping around his estates in Brevoy, but the empathic link does occasionally bother her. However he is too Lawful and she is too proud for either of them to take well to suggestions (whether helpful or otherwise) that their union might in any way have been a Mistake. Owing to their mutual refusal regarding acknowledging the possibility of a Mistake, their family was recently expanded by the addition of a passably cute little baby alu-fiend, named Cassiantha (or at least that’s the abbreviated version employed in polite company). Cassiantha is currently in a stage where her cuteness is inversely proportional to her state of being awake.
When it comes to religion, Cynthia is fascinated by the deity Nethys in his destructive aspect.

Daria:
Spoiler:
Daria is a bard. She loves being an object of rapturous mortal adoration, the bigger the crowd and the acclaim the better. A passable performer on the mandolin and with a good singing voice, she admires the goddess Shelyn as a patron of the arts. She considers herself a true devotee of Shelyn, although given the steps that she’s prepared to take at times to ensure an audience, most worshipers and clerics of Shelyn would beg to differ on that point. Daria is aware of that but waves aside such opinions as ‘the artistic jealousies of lesser performers’. She is happy to do what she considers a ‘favour’ for the church of Shelyn any time she perceives that one may need doing (and often irrespective of whether such a favour was even asked of her in the first place).

Anthea, Byrria, Cynthia, and Daria are either in or travelling through the area for the purpose of a shopping expedition. How likely are the initial events presented to interest them and if not sufficiently enticing what might it take to engage their involvement?
They're travelling through Galt to probably shop with the elves or something, and to get some light entertainment in along the way. (Galt is almost always fun for a succubus, given the chaos and turmoil going on there, and a succubus' options to get out fast if things should turn ugly.) Whilst it's perfectly believable that they could be travelling in Galt, the whole helping-a-Samurai-not-commit-suicide-and-getting-curious-about-weapons-as-a -result seems extraordinarily unlikely to engage the interest of four succubi. The most likely reason for their involvement is some sort of request to Anthea, from the church of Gorum, to find out what's going on with these odd weapons in Galt.

So just what is likely to happen once four succubi (and a baby alu-fiend) do get involved?
They aren't like to go anywhere near the counterfeiting house. They're going to capture (carefully) a couple of weapons for analysis, and then take them somewhere to analyse them. At that point they'll probably carry out some divinations, and skip straight to looking for the missing final blade.
They may take a detour to chase down and interrogate the Pathfinder venture-captain along the way, since it's been indicated that she is apparently responsible for the blade being removed from view, and they're not likely to be terribly happy upon discovering that that was a red-herring.
From thereon though, it's a fairly straightforward kill-anything which moves, and take out Zaszmarkana with extreme prejudice after she wakes and alarms Cassiantha. (Big scary nasty metal spider.)

What about the aftermath?
Friar Sharpness is removed from the hands of the unworthy and returned to its proper place, Galt is saved from undeath for future succubi tourists, and the Church of Gorum is happy to have their mystery solved. Oh, the Pathfinder Society probably isn't too happy about the loss of a venture-captain, but a high possibility of accidental loss to irate succubi goes with the territory when you set up a base in Galt...

Predicted Extraneous Body Count:
Venture-captain Eliza Petulengro and any Pathfinder society members unfortunate enough to be in her vicinity when the four succubi discover she has no idea where Friar Sharpness has gone. The latter part of proceedings are likely to be particularly messy, (this is someone interfering with a favourite succubus holiday destination, after all) but it's unlikely that - other than the venture-captain - any of the casualties resulting could be considered extraneous.

Further Disclaimer:
Ask A RPGSupersuccubus (out of deference to Lord Orcus) would like to once again remind voters that she has been providing a (very advanced) succubus’ take on this round’s entries, and that whilst her assessments are (naturally) impeccable, voters might like to consider other opinions and sources, too.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4 aka OamuTheMonk

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Thank you everyone, for your careful consideration. I've had a tremendous time participating in RPG Superstar, and have enjoyed your feedback more than you could guess. While I'm certain that I will not be your RPG Superstar for 2012, I can tell you that I fully intend to pursue every opportunity that this competition has provided.

Thank you all so much, it has been a genuine blast.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4 aka OamuTheMonk

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Urizen wrote:

It's probably me because I've just taken a philosophy and sociology course back to back the previous two quarters and I get this whole phallocentricism feminist perspective as if Ayn Rand hooked up with Andrea Dworkin to come up with this to tap in a commentary about the 60's counter culture sexual revolution and how it concludes in a radical reinterpretation of the AIDS scare of the 80's by being able to dismantle the means of perpetuating the disease using the French Revolution as the background in a way that Robespierre never dreamed.

The unsheathed revolution. The Rod of Rebellion. Disease spreading swords. Incubators. The empowered antagonist in Zaszmarkana, Friar Sharpness, the unsheathed weapons becoming powerless at the adventure's end; I could go on.

Then again, my blood sugar may be low right now and I could be imagining things. I'm really hungry for a bratwurst right now, but I'll refrain from using a knife to spread the garnish. Better yet, I need to check if it was washed and sanitized. I'm bad about doing the dishes.

I want to like this. I really do. It's an interesting era and I know a couple of buds that appreciate Galt (especially this Commie Bolshevik Goblin that lurks around OTD), but I feel like I'm channeling Derrida to deconstruct what I'm reading here.

:(

I wanted to call this one out, as my favorite criticism from this round, by far. While I'd like to say that all the subtext was planned, sometimes a sword is just a sword.

Star Voter 2013

While there is often symbolism in a writer's work, it's funny how easily someone can read more into it than the author ever intended.


Thanks for not taking it too harshly, James. There is an underlying satirical subtlety that inspired me to point it out in that manner, but again I prefaced it with what was going on in my head based on the past several months for me to extract such from what I'm reading.

Not that I buy into the complete Freudian / Jungian theory about symbolism, but a part of me did wonder whether you have - at any point in your life - gotten anywhere near the works of Rand or contemporaries. Some of us are guilty at times when influences from other individuals creep into our compositions w/o us being cognitively aware of it at the forefront.

James Olchak wrote:
sometimes a sword is just a sword.

"That's not what SHE said!"

;-)

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4 aka OamuTheMonk

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Urizen wrote:

Thanks for not taking it too harshly, James. There is an underlying satirical subtlety that inspired me to point it out in that manner, but again I prefaced it with what was going on in my head based on the past several months for me to extract such from what I'm reading.

Not that I buy into the complete Freudian / Jungian theory about symbolism, but a part of me did wonder whether you have - at any point in your life - gotten anywhere near the works of Rand or contemporaries. Some of us are guilty at times when influences from other individuals creep into our compositions w/o us being cognitively aware of it at the forefront.

I took sociology, psychology, and philosophy in college, but that was years and years ago. I couldn't tell you the difference between a Jungian archetype and a cheese danish. A girl I had a severe crush on loaned me The Fountainhead when I was in high school, and I got 300 pages in, before realizing I had no idea what I was reading. So it's fair to say I'm not super aware of Randian philosophies.

But yeah, I just liked that I wrote something that seemed like it had some subtext. An author has to be able to stir things in a reader--it's a good thing, as far as I'm concerned. It's a plus to get people thinking about your work, finding threads and tugging on them, as it were, even if the the threads don't lead where they expect.

And criticism doesn't hurt my feelings, I went to art school. It's always better for someone to find something to address in your work, then it is to have them say nothing. If people are talking about your art, you've succeeded in engaging them, on some level. Getting people to have an opinion about your work is the first step to getting them to have a positive opinion.


James Olchak wrote:
....I went to art school....

I doubt that this surprises anyone who has seen your cartography.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4 aka OamuTheMonk

Veiled Nail wrote:
James Olchak wrote:
....I went to art school....
I doubt that this surprises anyone who has seen your cartography.

I would have loved to provide other illustrations throughout the competition, but it was prohibited! Waaah!

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

Thank goodness, James. Otherwise I'd have had to do an invisible monster so my stick figure didn't get me disqualified. Of course, a stick figure might've gone over better than my actual submitted monster. : (

As far as your proposal, I loved the idea of something in Galt. Like a few others have said, I think I'd have loved to see you do something MORE with the intelligent weapons. I think the idea of making the final blade itself (and I LOVED the name you gave the blade, btw) the BBEG would have been really neat and a twist that no one would have seen coming. Would be an interesting parallel to the fact that these weapons' simple existence almost makes them villainous in the region for the way they're used.


James Olchak wrote:
I would have loved to provide other illustrations throughout the competition, but it was prohibited! Waaah!

I think Wayfinder #7 is still looking for art submissions and a Paizo Fans United logo. :)


Dear Oamu the Monk,
Congratulations on reaching the top four. At this point, you have won the true prize, of getting to write a Pathfinder Society module, perhaps to be played and cursed by players years from now at conventions, whilst a certain badger (or at least that's his avatar at the time of this post) gets to stress about writing a 32 page module.
The highlight of your works in this contest for me was the FBPDGSH missing out on the illegal poker game in the basement of the antiquities store because it could only be accessed by a concealed elevator...
Anyway, best wishes for the future.

Ask A RPGSupersuccubus.

Star Voter 2013

James Olchak wrote:
... It's always better for someone to find something to address in your work, then it is to have them say nothing...

So very true.

Paizo / Messageboards / Paizo Publishing / RPG Superstar™ / Previous Contests / RPG Superstar™ 2012 / Round 5 - Top 4: Submit a Pathfinder Module™ adventure proposal / The Unsheathed Revolution All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in Round 5 - Top 4: Submit a Pathfinder Module™ adventure proposal

©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.