Get Ready to See Stars!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

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

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Tags: Contests RPG Superstar
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Sovereign Court

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Jeff Lee wrote:
Now someone can actually submit the Sword of Hitler to the contest.
Nope, that item © Sean K Reynolds. :)

Wow...just....wow....

X.x' *died laughing*

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka michaeljpatrick

I wasn't sure about entering this year as I could not think of a single thing. Now I am reinvigorated...

Liberty's Edge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2012 , Star Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 9

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Jeff Lee wrote:
Now someone can actually submit the Sword of Hitler to the contest.
Nope, that item © Sean K Reynolds. :)

However, the hammer and/or sickle of Stalin are still available.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka RainyDayNinja

Out of morbid curiosity, how long after the contest opened did it take for someone to submit something of the correct item type(s)?

Paizo Employee Designer , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

RainyDayNinja wrote:
Out of morbid curiosity, how long after the contest opened did it take for someone to submit something of the correct item type(s)?

Not long, but more than an hour.

Star Voter Season 8

In the proper format?

Paizo Employee Designer , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

1 person marked this as a favorite.
David Neilson wrote:
In the proper format?

Heh, that was a longer wait.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Am I the only one, who has problems with the link to "round 1: open call & FAQ"?

It refreshes every second so that I can't scroll down and after a few seconds says:"You have made too many requests for the same page too quickly. Please wait a minute before trying again."

Same on all devices here.

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka mamaursula

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Jacob Trier wrote:
I mostly just keep the avatar to mess with people who are reading the Superstar forums. Whenever possible, I try to time my post to come just after one of the other Jacobs. :-D

That's why I love you guys. I always leave the forums at the end of RPGSS because I really have no compelling reason to discuss a lot of the things in other topic threads and also because it always makes RPGSS time sort of special. I know we've all become friends beyond the Paizo forums, but it makes coming back something to look forward to and sort of like coming home for the holidays.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Epic Meepo

4 people marked this as a favorite.

The change of item types is cool, but I especially like the power outage twist. :P

Will the site be up when you try to submit your item? Should you anticipate extreme weather cutting off submissions three hours early? How do you, as an aspiring freelancer, handle the Round 1 challenge and the wrath of Mother Nature at the same time?

Superstar 2015: Superstars vs. Nature.

Seriously, though, don't wait until the very last minute. Allow some time for dealing with unanticipated connectivity problems.

Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

cultofmice wrote:

Am I the only one, who has problems with the link to "round 1: open call & FAQ"?

It refreshes every second so that I can't scroll down and after a few seconds says:"You have made too many requests for the same page too quickly. Please wait a minute before trying again."

Same on all devices here.

I have this problem every year, and I'm not sure there's ever been an explanation. (2013, 2013, 2014) Best you can do is hit the escape key or stop the page load mid-refresh.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Well that was stupid. I submitted and only then realized I was over the word count. Smooth.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Steven T. Helt

Samy! NOOooo!!!!

Obsessively double and triple check everything, gang!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Thought I should post just to remind everyone of exactly that. :D

Sometimes, the best laid plans! :D


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Jacob Trier wrote:

It is as if a thousand carefully prepared wondrous items cried out in horror and were suddenly discarded.

The plot twists come early this season. Well played, Paizo.

"You only think I prepared wrong! That's what's so funny! I switched items when your back was turned! Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders—The most famous of which is 'never open a bikini shop in Irrisen'—but only slightly less well-known is this: 'Never go in against a Slaad when SuperStah! is on the line'! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha..."


Samy wrote:
Well that was stupid. I submitted and only then realized I was over the word count. Smooth.

How much over? I think I've read that there's some wiggle room.

Scarab Sages Modules Overlord

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Eric Morton wrote:
Will the site be up when you try to submit your item? Should you anticipate extreme weather cutting off submissions three hours early? How do you, as an aspiring freelancer, handle the Round 1 challenge and the wrath of Mother Nature at the same time?

In my opinion, there is no need to plan to submit on either the first or last day of the contest's entry period. You can both give yourself more time to consider an item than 1 day (even if you have it done), and there's never a good reason to plan to wait until the last day to submit.

It's a truism in freelancing that in the last week of an assignment, the only brand new thing your developer should ever hear from you is "Here's my turnover." If there's anything else, you should have communicated the possibility beforehand.

I've told people I was freelancing for about storm patterns, tornadoes, and ailing family members, to be sure if there was a sudden issue it didn't come out of the blue. And while you don't need to get to personal, and you don't want to pester your developer, strong communication and time management are huge parts of being a good freelancer.

So yes, considering such issues is good practice for real-world freelancing. I once had to tell Sean K Reynolds I was going to be late on a project... because of a hurricane. Since I told him a couple of weeks in advance (and the hurricane was national news), he was able to adjust my deadline.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
JJ Jordan wrote:
Samy wrote:
Well that was stupid. I submitted and only then realized I was over the word count. Smooth.
How much over? I think I've read that there's some wiggle room.

It was enough over. :D I acknowledge my stupidity gracefully. :)

Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Samy wrote:
Well that was stupid. I submitted and only then realized I was over the word count. Smooth.

If it makes you feel better, I did that last year. Went over by two words.

This year, I'll find a different way to shoot myself in the foot. :)

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka motteditor

JJ Jordan wrote:
How much over? I think I've read that there's some wiggle room.

There is no wiggle room with word count. If you're 301 words, your item will be disqualified.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Which makes perfect sense. You want someone who can follow the specs you lay out.


Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
JJ Jordan wrote:
How much over? I think I've read that there's some wiggle room.
There is no wiggle room with word count. If you're 301 words, your item will be disqualified.

Makes sense, especially since there is a word count on the submission form. I'm guessing I was reading some comments from an earlier competition.

Scarab Sages Modules Overlord

It's true, I have no wiggle room on word count.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

mamaursula wrote:
Jacob Trier wrote:
I mostly just keep the avatar to mess with people who are reading the Superstar forums. Whenever possible, I try to time my post to come just after one of the other Jacobs. :-D
That's why I love you guys. I always leave the forums at the end of RPGSS because I really have no compelling reason to discuss a lot of the things in other topic threads and also because it always makes RPGSS time sort of special. I know we've all become friends beyond the Paizo forums, but it makes coming back something to look forward to and sort of like coming home for the holidays.

Awhhh... :-)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Jacob Trier wrote:
mamaursula wrote:
Jacob Trier wrote:
I mostly just keep the avatar to mess with people who are reading the Superstar forums. Whenever possible, I try to time my post to come just after one of the other Jacobs. :-D
That's why I love you guys. I always leave the forums at the end of RPGSS because I really have no compelling reason to discuss a lot of the things in other topic threads and also because it always makes RPGSS time sort of special. I know we've all become friends beyond the Paizo forums, but it makes coming back something to look forward to and sort of like coming home for the holidays.
Awhhh... :-)

Is that open to anyone to join in the fun? :P

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka mamaursula

Miss Jacobina Yacob Jacobs wrote:
Jacob Trier wrote:
mamaursula wrote:
Jacob Trier wrote:
I mostly just keep the avatar to mess with people who are reading the Superstar forums. Whenever possible, I try to time my post to come just after one of the other Jacobs. :-D
That's why I love you guys. I always leave the forums at the end of RPGSS because I really have no compelling reason to discuss a lot of the things in other topic threads and also because it always makes RPGSS time sort of special. I know we've all become friends beyond the Paizo forums, but it makes coming back something to look forward to and sort of like coming home for the holidays.
Awhhh... :-)
Is that open to anyone to join in the fun? :P

I STRONGLY APPROVE of anyone joining in this fun! I RECOMMEND this post to go on for the rest of the contest!

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

9 people marked this as a favorite.

Awww, man. I had convinced myself I wasn't going to enter because for some reason the Wondrous Item round just really stymies me. I like my wondrous item ideas but they're not "superstar" and it's been hard for me to grok what is (from the perspective of the judges, not myself). And I was convinced it was impossible to come up with something new because there've been so many now...

But now the rules have changed and it's something else and yes, I realize that designing a truly unique sword, armor, rod, staff, or ring is even HARDER because so many of them are inherently SIACs or hard to design outside of the "+ something something" box.... but the challenge just makes me intrigued and excited.

So I guess I have to enter after all. Dammit.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka motteditor

5 people marked this as a favorite.

I love that the new challenge is getting so many people enthused to enter when they hadn't planned to.

There's nothing to lose but time and sanity, people!

Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Hey! I can finally submit a club of percussive instruction (aka, a cluex4). Sweeeeeeeet!

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

So the word count limit is still 300 words or less, correct?

Paizo Employee Customer Service Dire Care Bear Manager

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Dragon78 wrote:
So the word count limit is still 300 words or less, correct?

You can see all the rules for round 1 by going to the main page for RPG Superstar on the right side of the page. You should see a box with a list of RPG Superstar™ 2015 Official Rules, FAQ, Links to the Judges, etc and then a section updated as we go with each rounds specific rules. If for some reason your browser decides the website is to wide, you may need to scroll horizontally to see it. (I use Safari and it automatically knows to wrap text to make the whole page fit, unless the window is really, really small, but I don't know if every other browser does that).

Here's a direct link to the Round 1 rules.

Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Jacob W. Michaels wrote:

I love that the new challenge is getting so many people enthused to enter when they hadn't planned to.

There's nothing to lose but time and sanity, people!

Indeed! & Welcome back DQ :)

I thought the short window and the twist might actually reduce the number of entries, but the twist really seems to be a draw. Nice!
EDIT: fixed board code

Paizo Employee Designer , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Curaigh wrote:
Jacob W. Michaels wrote:

I love that the new challenge is getting so many people enthused to enter when they hadn't planned to.

There's nothing to lose but time and sanity, people!

Indeed! & Welcome back DQ :)

I thought the short window [i]and[i\] the twist might actually reduce the number of entries, but the twist really seems to be a draw. Nice!

It seemed to me like it might be an increase, for the following intertwined reasons:

1) Pretty much anyone who was spending an entire year (or more) workshopping items with others has enough invested in the contest that they're still going to want to enter.

2) Those intimidated by the fact that others may have spent a year and afraid that their little item couldn't compete with that might be willing to take the chance when they know that everyone had an equally short amount of time to come up with their item.

Granted, the shorter timetable may mean that some busier people simply don't get a chance to enter, but in that case, they were probably going to have trouble balancing those in later rounds anyway.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

In addition, an extra benefit of the short turnaround time from a judging perspective is that it very quickly shows which contestants are nimble enough to turn on a dime and still deliver the goods.

That's Superstar!

If a contestant who had absolutely no foreknowledge of the Round One assignment comes back in 6 days with a truly awesome design, they'll rise to Top 32 potential in a hurry. At the very least, they should make the Keep pile. And that makes the judging process easier.

It's also an indication that those contestants are the ones who'll have staying power for the competition itself...as opposed to those who spent months and months preparing a "just right" wondrous item only to fall victim to the much shorter turnaround times and challenging assignments of later rounds. And, just for entertainment purposes of those following along at home, it's tremendous fun seeing the best of the best compete against one another...to see who'll come up with the crazy awesome round after round...despite the fast pace and obstacles they have to overcome.

That's what you want to strive for.

So, embrace this challenge. It'll prepare you for those yet to come.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Sara Marie wrote:
Dragon78 wrote:
So the word count limit is still 300 words or less, correct?

You can see all the rules for round 1 by going to the main page for RPG Superstar on the right side of the page. You should see a box with a list of RPG Superstar™ 2015 Official Rules, FAQ, Links to the Judges, etc and then a section updated as we go with each rounds specific rules. If for some reason your browser decides the website is to wide, you may need to scroll horizontally to see it. (I use Safari and it automatically knows to wrap text to make the whole page fit, unless the window is really, really small, but I don't know if every other browser does that).

Here's a direct link to the Round 1 rules.

Thanks for the link. What does the ZZ actually mean?

Edit: Do the words that are given in the format template count against word count?


Hayato Ken wrote:
Thanks for the link. What does the ZZ actually mean?

It's just a placeholder. Anything that says ZZsomething means you'll be replacing it with the words that should actually go there. (ZZslot replaced with appropriate slot location, or "none," depending on the item.)

Paizo Employee Designer , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Hayato Ken wrote:
Sara Marie wrote:
Dragon78 wrote:
So the word count limit is still 300 words or less, correct?

You can see all the rules for round 1 by going to the main page for RPG Superstar on the right side of the page. You should see a box with a list of RPG Superstar™ 2015 Official Rules, FAQ, Links to the Judges, etc and then a section updated as we go with each rounds specific rules. If for some reason your browser decides the website is to wide, you may need to scroll horizontally to see it. (I use Safari and it automatically knows to wrap text to make the whole page fit, unless the window is really, really small, but I don't know if every other browser does that).

Here's a direct link to the Round 1 rules.

Thanks for the link. What does the ZZ actually mean?

Answer to your question: ZZ

Oh darn, I can't believe I submitted that without filling out all the ZZs. Whoops!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Hayato Ken wrote:
Thanks for the link. What does the ZZ actually mean?

"Every gamer crazy 'bout a SupaStah item." {spins guitar}

Contributor , Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

I have to say, even if I don't make it in that I have already had a blast going through the creative fever of designing weapons and armor!

Grand Lodge Contributor

I have a few ideas... Started with 23. Just narrowing it down and giving them time to simmer. Slow cooking these things is usually best, even with only 1 week.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm not really up to the level of the top homebrewers I've seen on this and other forums; but I may as well make something up for fun anyways.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8

I've got so much on my plate right now that I was going to sit this one out...but the twist has drawn me back in! Darn you, RPGSS!

Now I just need to resist the impulse to design something kineticist-, occultist-, or psychic-specific.

Star Voter Season 8

Ugh, forgot to add slot thingy. That's what I get for retyping the form rather than just copy pasting it. :/

The Exchange Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Arubenans wrote:
Ugh, forgot to add slot thingy. That's what I get for retyping the form rather than just copy pasting it. :/

well you only need a slot for a ring (ring) or staff (none) right?

Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Weapon should be "none", armor should be "armor", shield should be "shield".

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka motteditor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Mikael Sebag wrote:
Now I just need to resist the impulse to design something kineticist-, occultist-, or psychic-specific.

From the FAQ:

Can I refer to material in the Occult Adventures Playtest?

No, because Occult Adventures has not yet been published, we don't want anyone to jeopardize their magic item entry by submitting an item that uses rules that aren't familiar to all players or that may change before publication.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8

Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
Mikael Sebag wrote:
Now I just need to resist the impulse to design something kineticist-, occultist-, or psychic-specific.

From the FAQ:

Can I refer to material in the Occult Adventures Playtest?

No, because Occult Adventures has not yet been published, we don't want anyone to jeopardize their magic item entry by submitting an item that uses rules that aren't familiar to all players or that may change before publication.

Good thing I reigned in my impulses then. :)


First time posting, as well as entering this contest.

However I do enjoy my magic arms!

Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I can't wait to make a bingo card for the new round one! Multi bladed, SIAC, movie rip off items, comedy item, crazy prices, what else do folks suggest go on the card?

Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Welcome Ceraph1m!

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