It's that time of year again, we're beginnig to announce details for the next RPG Superstar™ contest! Every year, Paizo holds an annual open-call RPG design competition to give the best and brightest aspiring game designers a chance to show the world their talent. This year, we're going to be shaking things up a bit.
For starters, I'll be acting as your host throughout the contest. For those of you who have no idea who I am, my name is Owen K.C. Stephens and I was brought on as a developer by Paizo earlier this year. I work primarily on the Pathfinder Modules and Pathfinder Player Companion lines, and I have a long history of writing for Paizo on a number of products. Since the prize for winning RPG Superstar™ is an adventure we'll publish in one of our RPG Modules, I'm getting involved in the contest early and will be helping oversee it this year.
The contest itself is going to be ramping up the degree of difficulty in several rounds as a result of how consistently amazing the entries have been year after year. We're convinced the talent pool exists to make several of the stages tougher than previous years, and that the best contestants are going to thrive under the pressure. That shouldn't discourage anyone from entering! Instead, think of this as an even better test of your skills. Anyone who makes it to the last few rounds of this year's contest should be confident they have what it takes to get work in the tabletop RPG industry.
What won't change is the core concept and processes we've developed over several years of RPG Superstar™. We have some surprises for you, and some rounds will have new challenges, but things will seem very familiar to fans who have followed the contest for several years. Where things significantly change from previous contests, I'll provide extra guidance on how we envision the round going, and why we made the change.
The first big change: entries for Open Call are not wondrous items, as they have been in every other year of the contest. Instead we're asking contestants to create a magic item from one of the following categories: armor, shield, weapon, staff, ring, or rod. As always, the magic item should conform to the rules and format given in the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook for items of that type. In the case of a magic suit of armor, shield, or weapon, it should be an example of a specific armor, shield, or weapon, rather than one created by adding magic special abilities. Think breastplate of command and life-drinker, rather than a +1 ghost touch chain shirt or +1 keen flaming bastard sword. Further if you decide to do a magic staff make sure you have a concept that elevates it above a "spell-in-a-can" with multiple spells. We are, after all, looking for Superstars!
We're making this change to the first round for a number of reasons. First, we want to strongly encourage contestants to create something new, rather than re-submitting an item they've used in previous years (even if they've modified it since then). Secondly, we want to see how well people can do with a surprise and a tight deadline. Writing in the RPG industry is often done with short schedules and sometimes the needs of a project change after you've already started working on it. By shaking things up in the first round, we'll get finalists who know they can handle the chaos and pressure of writing for RPG projects in real-world conditions.
Open Call is otherwise very much as past years. The open call begins today, and you need to have your entry in by December 16 at 2:00 PM Pacific time. We'll be maintaining public voting for these initial entries as we've done for the past 2 years. So your magic item will initially be judged by being presented to voters along with another randomly determined item. That means if you submit a magic ring it'll be compared to many items that aren't rings, so be sure you present something that can stand up to competition in any form. The top 32 items will be determined by the community along with feedback and oversight from our judges for this round, and those 32 competitors will face other game design challenges in the remaining rounds of the competition!
So loosen up your creative muscles, start crafting a magic item, and get ready to be the next RPG Superstar™!
Owen K. C. Stephens
Developer and RPG Superstar Host