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RPG Superstar Frequently-Fielded-Gripes: a draft


RPG Superstar™ General Discussion

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

Last year I promised I'd prepare some sort of FAQ document to deal with issues that seem to arise regularly - something that we can simply link to, instead of letting Neil feel compelled to write a 3-page explanation :P

I've written up a draft hitting the most memorable targets I recall. I'd be happy for feedback of any kind - particularly, whether the answers I provided work well, and suggestions for other topics I haven't written up.

Here's the draft; it's up as a Google Doc and comments are open - feel free to comment in the document or here in the thread. Before the contest I expect I'll move it over to some mini-site where it'll look more presentable, and where it'll be easier to link to individual topics.

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

Seemed pretty clean to me, Standback. I thought about hitting some of the usual complaints in the critique my item thread a little harder, but I think you actually covered them pretty well.

Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

One common gripe is the 'this broke the auto-reject thread' (though there is a better name for auto-reject). There are lots of different responses to that out there too.

Nice work.

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

Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
Seemed pretty clean to me, Standback. I thought about hitting some of the usual complaints in the critique my item

Good to hear! I preferred friendly to hitting hard; my main goal here is to (A) be comprehensive, and (B) stymieing further argument, since there's just nowhere to have it. Hardness is not necessary, I hope :)

Curaigh wrote:
One common gripe is the 'this broke the auto-reject thread' (though there is a better name for auto-reject). There are lots of different responses to that out there too.

I might take that one on. Can you, by chance, point me to a couple of examples? Thanks :)

Also: Hey, guys! Nice to see you again :) I feel myself warming up already...

Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

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

You might want to scan through this as it has a lot of links to stuff you might find useful, including linking most of the auto reject threads.

Star Voter 2013

One of the common gripes I see is the lack of differentiation between "auto-reject" and "disqualified", because sometimes the terms get mixed up in discussion.

Auto-reject means: This is a common, yet major, flaw an item has and unless an item that does this has significant redeeming qualities, it will be rejected and eliminated.

Rejected means: the judges didn't like your item.

Disqualified means: you didn't follow the rules of the competition, which is often going over word count. Your item will not even make it to the judges for review.

Designer

Other yearly topics:

• How are these judges qualified to judge my item, anyway?

• So this is just a popularity contest and not actually about talent?

• The rules didn't say anything about X, why was my item rejected for X? (There's a long response rant by be about this question that talks about tryouts for American Idol by singing "Mary had a little lamb," performing opera, or miming).

• Why is getting the magic item format right so important, isn't that what editors are for?

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

I don't know if this counts as a gripe, but I can say from experience, if you have a round where you work up someone else's idea, do all you can to make it your own. I took the wrong direction with this ("well if I was free lancing and given an assignment with some really good stuff already written I shouldn't throw that out.") and it cost me. Of course that means I didn't make it far enough to be permanently disqualified. Might be time to make a come back.

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

Sean K Reynolds wrote:

Other yearly topics:

Ah, lovely. Here's the American Idol comparison, and I'll dig up the others as well. Thanks!

Star Voter 2013

If anyone's made any references to "superstar", where an item is different and innovative, versus "gonzo", where an item is different for the sake of being weird and catching the eye - that's one that could probably use referencing, too.

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games

RonarsCorruption wrote:
If anyone's made any references to "superstar", where an item is different and innovative, versus "gonzo", where an item is different for the sake of being weird and catching the eye - that's one that could probably use referencing, too.

Good one!

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

I've disabled the previous link; the place to go now is http://goo.gl/PUym5 . You can copy links to any individual question.

I've added several of the questions suggested here; not all. Some I haven't found good answers for - particularly the definition of "gonzo" (there have been some noble attempts, but nothing I found very helpful...) - and the "why are the judges qualified" question I haven't managed to phrase without feeling the question doesn't even dignify a FAQ.

If anybody sees anything they feel is worth adding, let me know :)

Marathon Voter 2013

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

Gonzo is that template which, when applied to drama, converts it to melodrama; applied to science fiction, transforms it to 50's space opera; and applied to a Bruce Lee martial arts flick, elevates it to full on gravity-defying wuxia.

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

Jason Schimmel wrote:
I don't know if this counts as a gripe, but I can say from experience, if you have a round where you work up someone else's idea, do all you can to make it your own. I took the wrong direction with this ("well if I was free lancing and given an assignment with some really good stuff already written I shouldn't throw that out.") and it cost me. Of course that means I didn't make it far enough to be permanently disqualified. Might be time to make a come back.

From the other direction, I'd say if you have to take someone else's idea, it can't hurt to pick one as far from your previous work as possible.

How many times on reality TV do you see "Your work is excellent, but it looks like every other bit of work you do?"

Yes it seems to contradict Jason's statement. It doesn't. Basically you have to make it 'your own' without looking like it's all you can do.

You don't want to be pegged as 'That construct guy' 'That light armor archtype guy' 'That gonzo item guy' etc etc.

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

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Damon Griffin wrote:
Gonzo is that template which, when applied to drama, converts it to melodrama; applied to science fiction, transforms it to 50's space opera; and applied to a Bruce Lee martial arts flick, elevates it to full on gravity-defying wuxia.

Really? I thought it was the template which, when applied to any genre, converts it to niche comedy with undertones of a chicken fetish.

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

I thought Gonzo was a blue puppet with a hook nose who likes doing daredevil challenges and has a kind of disturbing thing for chickens.

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

Heh, beat ya by a minute! ;)

Marathon Voter 2013

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
motteditor wrote:
I thought Gonzo was a blue puppet with a hook nose who likes doing daredevil challenges and has a kind of disturbing thing for chickens.

Yes, that's one possible outcome of applying the gonzo template to a Muppet; Crazy Harry and Lew Zealand are two others.

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

Who has edit privileges and can update the link in the top post, over to http://goo.gl/PUym5 ?

I'd be extremely grateful - I'm getting bunches of emails from people who don't understand why the prominent link doesn't work? :-/

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

I've updated the OP's link.

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

Thank you kindly :D

Andoran Contributor , Star Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

Jiggy wrote:
Heh, beat ya by a minute! ;)

Great avatars think alike. :)

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

4 people marked this as a favorite.
taig wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
Heh, beat ya by a minute! ;)
Great avatars think alike. :)

Jacobs 2013...

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

Aw yeah!

...Now if only I wasn't having such serious designer's block. Anyone have tips on getting the creative juices flowing?

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

Jiggy wrote:

Aw yeah!

...Now if only I wasn't having such serious designer's block. Anyone have tips on getting the creative juices flowing?

Hot Showers.

Marathon Voter 2013

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Go for a walk.
Watch a fantasy show. (Not that kind of fantasy show)
Play a video game, and take note of interesting things.
Ponder the rules for areas that could use some more magic items.
Browse the equipment chapter of UE and make a list of interesting items, and then come up with some magical uses of each.

And hopefully you'll have a nice idea by then.

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

Cheapy wrote:
Go for a walk.

It's winter in Minnesota. :/

Quote:
Watch a fantasy show.

Good idea; why didn't I think of that?

Quote:
Play a video game, and take note of interesting things.

The most relevant video game I have is EarthBound. Using that for inspiration could get me into trouble. ;)

Quote:
Ponder the rules for areas that could use some more magic items.

This is where being new to the hobby hurts. I've only got a year and a half of experience from which to recognize patterns/holes/etc. Alas.

Quote:
Browse the equipment chapter of UE and make a list of interesting items, and then come up with some magical uses of each.

I looked through some of the wondrous items, but I didn't think of looking at mundane gear. Good idea!

Thanks for the tips!

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

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Jiggy wrote:

Aw yeah!

...Now if only I wasn't having such serious designer's block. Anyone have tips on getting the creative juices flowing?

Just do what you did last year - that worked out pretty good, didn't it :)

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

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Last year I found out about the contest, freaked out, and wrote something up over my lunch break on that very same day.

I'd better not push my luck by trying that again. ;)

Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Jacob Kellogg wrote:

Last year I found out about the contest, freaked out, and wrote something up over my lunch break on that very same day.

I'd better not push my luck by trying that again. ;)

Same here; I also think I overthought my entry this year by working on so many ideas for so long.

On one hand I fell so far out of love with my idea and into strong-but-critical-like that I think I dodged the rookie potholes of last year's quick entry. On the other hand, I fear I watered my concept down too much out of self-doubt from staring at it for so long.

So, uh, my advice is to... be afraid? Lose at least four hours of sleep a day until the results are announced?

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

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Garrett Guillotte wrote:
So, uh, my advice is to... be afraid? Lose at least four hours of sleep a day until the results are announced?

If that's all it takes, I've got this in the bag!

Star Voter 2013

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Find a random item name generator and come up with cool abilities for the things named.

Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Jacob Kellogg wrote:
I've only got a year and a half of experience from which to recognize patterns/holes/etc. Alas.

You might have luck limiting your scope to very low levels. Outside of the APG, there isn't much you need to know levels 1-3, but there are a few niches that cheap, inventive, carefully balanced items can fill.

I had pretty good luck just throwing one or two pregens up into different combat scenarios, and as they were slowly eviscerated I'd think about what would help them without being a win button. Doesn't take but 5-10 minutes to run a quick combat scenario, and I think some of my better ideas come from rolling dice and playing, even if it's solo.

Cheliax

One thing that isn't directly pointed out (from what I see around the RPG Superstar forums but I'm sometimes mistaken) in the auto-reject advice is a thing that I'm pretty certain arrested my item's seemingly inevitable forward movement into the Top 32 last competition:

Mr. Sean K Reynolds really doesn't like any item that messes with action economy, such as an item that makes a round-by-round combat choice, which almost always costs PCs a standard or move action, available with a swift or immediate action instead...

...or it could have been neglecting to include the range of a ranged attack that I'd made a major selling point of the item...

Needless to say, much more proofreading will be done this year!

That said, there is an audio file / podcast kind of thing from Paizocon 2011 that, during my first listen before last year's competition, I actually fast-forwarded through what I thought were "lulls" a few times to get to what I assumed were the juicy design parts with all the awesome-sauce rocket-science RPG-design auto-win buttons or whatever.

This was a learning experience for me, as I now know that what I did above is never the right way to research anything, ever.

If I would have been a truly dilligent and patient researcher, and listened to the entire recording from start to finish mutliple times (like I ended up doing after finding out I didn't make the Top 32 for the 2nd year in a row) I'd have heard Mr. Reynolds state his major hate for items that break action economy quite distinctly on said recording... and maybe avoided a pitfall.

Anyway, coulda-woulda-shoulda! I just wanted to share an experience from last go-around. Here's wishing all of us taking another crack at it this year the best of luck, and may the best designs and designers win!

EDIT: And now after re-reading the blog post, this is something we're voting on for the first round? Instead of the judges separating the choice from the dross behind the scenes until all is announced? I should look for a lot longer before I leap!

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