Did I ever mentioned, that I would suggest to get rid of those half-something races all together and go along with the full ones?
I agree. My understanding is the 3e development team talked about dropping half orcs for orcs as well. I don't know how serious they were about though. For all I know it was a 2 minute conversation.
Well, part of BG's argument is that rape doesn't need to be listed as the cause of most half-orcs. I disagree with that (with exceptions) and would like for him to expand on better explanations. I agree that the magical mixacology explanation is pretty trite and was wondering if he had other 'for instances' to give.
For what its worth the "beer goggles" argument seems to hold for elves. Beings of literal unearthly beauty cavort with regular humans on page 9 of "Curse of the Crimson Throne". So its already out there. Also, there's historical precedent in the stone age. Us homo sapiens found a little Neanderthal lovin' from time to time. Granted, we exterminated all of them later, but lets not bicker and argue about who killed who.
Now remember, the orcs in this setting are specifically interested in half-orc progeny. Bearing that in mind....
1) Diplomatic marriages. A peace is brokered with children of both leaders exchanged.
2) Tribute. One human child from a village is given over to the orcs in exchange for peace. The orcs raise the child as one of their own.
3) Mandated interbreeding. In Paraguay of 1814 José Gaspar Rodríguez Francia was elected dictator and styled himself an "enlighted despot". Among his many, many radical decrees was to order citizens of Spanish descent to intermarry with the American Indians of the region. By 1840 Paraguay was ethnically homogeneous and is still moreso today than other parts of South America. Really, you have to read about Francia. He's one of those guys from real life that is too weird to portray in a fantasy game. Anyway, the orcs could take a page from his book and institute a program of their own.
4) Turnabout is fair play. Humans could breed for strength to fight off these orc attacks. A young man might rather prefer the idea of setting down on the farm with a large green woman than getting killed or maimed on the battleground. And an orc lass could find the soft human life appealing. Or humans could employ one of the other methods mentioned here on this list.
5) Payment. Hey, orcs have to do something with all that gold they plunder. Instead of sitting on that thousand gold pieces for adventures to steal, why not offer it to a human woman? One yucky night and a year later she's set up for life.
6) Mutual survival. Already touched on by another poster and you already mentioned it, so we'll close here.
Erik Mona wrote:
Oh for Pete's sake the board ate my original response TWICE!
1) its only a dodge if you've determined its the only possible origin for the race. Other options have been presented in this thread and they don't even fall into the good old standby of "mad wizard's failed experiment".
2) You have a black sheriff and white mayor of sandpoint. Slavery exists in your setting and you have a god of it. If its written that humans of skin color X were brought to Varisia against their will, I haven't read it yet (and it may well be in there). But I would argue that there's no need to go there. Again, it doesn't add anything.
Matthew Morris wrote:
Ok, any idea how to change it?
Remove it. It doesn't add anything. By the time people are at the reading level required to pick the book up in the first place, they're able to take a pretty good guess at how baby half orcs are made.
Another option is to use a made-up fantasy word like TSR did with demons and devils. Except make it something possible to spell and pronounce. I'm bad at made-up fantasy names, so bear with me:
Known to orcs as the "Maznaru" (i.e. 'the cunning folk'), these orc/human hybrids are occasionally born in the Cinderlands.
There. Done. We know where they are from. We have an alternate name for them if half-orc seems silly or raises uncomfortable questions. Do we need more?
*Edit* I still think it's an april fool's joke.
It isn't. I'd have written all of this yesterday if I was able to get the board to work for me.
Right after the your "offending" quote we find this sentence: "...some come from loving couples who tend their offspring in a manner best suited to their lifestyle."
The same could be said for humans, gnomes, dwarves, etc. though. Yes, as written, half elves are granted some flexibility, but its really just taking the sting out of the prior phrase. The other races don't seem to need birth origin referenced, so why are we including it here? Because what we're really talking about is that some half elves and half orcs are born of assault, presumably at a higher percentage than the other races.
And the fact that some half-orcs are products of sexual assault actually does add something to the game, it's an instant background hook, which can be utilized in a lot of interesting ways.
I would argue that the idea that the orcs are deliberately attempting to breed half-orcs adds something to the setting. For example, are they targeting one tribe through peaceable means in order to eventually divide and conquer? How do the PCs address that situation? Do they attempt to start war between the orcs and that one human village? Do they feel those villagers are now "evil"? If the orcs exchange young children with the idea that they'll eventually grow up and marry, do the PCs now seperate children and foster parents? Those are tricky role play scenarios. Sexual assault means the orcs are evil (which they already were) and the PCs should kill them and take their stuff (which was already the plan). If you open it up and leave it ambiguous you have a lot more flexibility to create these dilemmas.
I'm also concerned that you then in another post suggest that "diplomatic marriages" are a much better solution... erm, hello? So because one's elders have given one away it's no longer rape when the brutal orc chieftain forces himself on you?
Ah Ha! See? The village elders are a-ok with it. The young man or woman isn't. Now the PCs have to discover if that's truly the case and figure out what to do about it. Do they rescue the victims and leave the village to suffer the wrath of the orcs? Do they look away? Do they attempt to find a diplomatic solution? Do they attmept orc genocide to remove this possibility from ever happening again? Whereas leaving the situation explicitly evil is pretty much the same thing as saying that orcs are harvesting humans as cattle, with one real solution: kill the orcs.
It doesn't need to be referred to. Its material the gaming group can introduce if they feel the need.
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
First off, lets tone down the nature of this thread. No need to argue, we are all on the same side here.
Mea culpa. Apologies specifically directed to graywulfe, because I did get punchy with him.
And thank you for considering alternatives, Jason. Whether or not they are followed through.
Your post is rude and presumptuous, Twice you insult anyone who disagrees with you.
I'd apologize for writing something you objected to ...
If you don't like it then ignore it.
... except that you seem pretty cool with ignoring stuff you don't like.
Honestly leave the flavor there for those of us who enjoy it
Actually, greywulfe it seems like I pretty accurately guessed how some folks would react. Yourself, for instance.
Height, Weight, Hair Color, Eye Color, and Skin Tone all fall under that same statement. Should all references to these be removed as well? Heck, while we're at it, lets eliminate that section on clothes in the equipment chapter, how often do your adventurers clothes matter in game.
If they mandate a specific starting Height, Weight, Hair Color, Eye Color, Skin Tone, and clothing choice, then I'll disagree with that as well. And if it is mandatory to roll for height and weight then I do happen to disagree with it. As it is, it looks like the player gets to choose these things and I think that's a good idea.
I like the line it adds flavor .why dance around the cold hard facts right.
Its a cold hard fact that people in this game world would get syphilis. Its a cold hard fact that children would be born with birth defects (unless paizo is also adding an ultrasound cantrip or something). Its a cold hard fact that people would get broken bones or die of starvation and I don't even think that's possible in 3.5. Suddenly in a couple of paragraphs on character origin we're paying attention to cold hard facts?
Hey! Nice link!
I hadn't gotten to that yet. Thanks for pointing it out.
However, I'll just take up the crazy notion that line could also be cut, replaced, or ignored. The line they use for half elves "born under extraordinary circumstances" seems to work just fine.
I flipped open The Curse of the Crimson Throne and on page 9 I find the line "the battles grow exceedingly personal resulting in the occasional half orc". In the meantime, on the same page human chicks are apparently swinging by Mierani enclave on Saturday nights. For some reason something similar is beyond imagining between humans and orcs? Guys, don't lie. At 1am after a couple of beers, yeah, you'd hit it.
But if we must focus on the Belkzen, did something happen to diplomatic marriages when I wasn't looking? Hey, if orcs are breeding for cunning, wouldn't it make sense to offer to spare a village plunder in exchange for a man or woman? Its the exact same plan, only a lot more sure to succeed because you don't have to think around the intended mother-to-be getting the fantasy equivalent of a D&C ... which is yet another cold hard fact of life apparently beyond consideration.
Frankly, I think the idea of diplomatic marriages adds a lot more to the setting and you still get your half orcs.
The "born out of violence" line for half-elves and the similar phrase for half-orcs is a step up from the 3rd edition rules where it was apparently felt necessary to suggest that all half-orcs were born of rape. But it isn't necessary and including sexual assault into the game doesn't add anything, so why do it?
I realize that some people feel it is almost a requirement and there are at least a dozen folks who are about to type "oh yeah, well the game has murder doesn't it?" Which somehow implies that without those sentences the game will break verisimilitude or be far too happy and huggie-bear. For these gamers I suggest using the space you save with the cut and use it to draw in skulls or something.
The only birth histories that we typically care about in these games is the PCs and a few major NPCs. That's it. If you get right down to it a hafling could be born of sexual assault. The overwhelming amount of time it just doesn't come up. How many encounters run like this:
The PCs walk down an alley to meet their contact, suddenly a half-orc assassin jumps out!
PCs: You're no match for us, you murdering half-orc bastard!
1/2 Orc: ... that's ... that true ... I never knew my dad. Oh woe! Where is he now, that man who left me so alone? Would I ever have joined the Loathsome Death Guild if I had known the gentle wisdom of a loving father? And poor Mom! Would it have been so hard to look past my face and see not a reminder of that tragic night, but instead a young boy in need of a mother's embrace? *sob* *sob* *sob*
It isn't needed. Its stupid to add it in. Just cut it.
If people complain just point out that we already have two pictures (pg 36 and 40) of a surprised woman with her back arched, legs apart, and mouth open. Neither of them are wearing all that much either. Isn't that enough?
All bonus languages and favored classes (with the exception of half-elves and humans who get to pick their favored class) are cutural
Dwarves - Stonecunning, Greed, Weapon Familiarity, Hatred, and Defensive Training are cultural
The problem is that the races are balanced, they're just not balanced along racial and cultural lines. So if you break these up between racial and cultural bonuses, Dwarves are going to be practically customizable while Half-Orcs (that can grow up in at least orc or human cultures) are very rigid.
I like the idea of the split very very much. I just don't think its possible without tossing out the idea of compatibility.
I'm not fond of the idea of a DM help article since that is highly subjective, even more than other topics. I do agree that a magic weapon or armor would be a good topic for a first round.
Moving along, stumbling points seemed to occur at the "monster" and "villain" rounds. Ergo, they should be kept.
I really liked the encounter round, but I would have preferred something more specific, even if it meant that the entries wouldn't be as fun to read. For example: an encounter for a party of four level 8 PCs that must include orcs.
The reason why I say that is it would help to force the contestants out of any comfort zone they might have. In the RPG publishing business, you don't get to pick what you want to work on. You are told stuff like "We need 5 magic staffs" or "your adventure will be taking place between the goblin and githyanki adventures". Very few people have total creative license to write about whatever they want and those people generally own their own d20 company.
I loved the entries in Round 2, but did they really tell us all that much about the authors that the villain and monster rounds didn't? And in the monster round, I noticed that pretty much everyone was able to come up with at least one cool monster, so its evident that the paizo folks were 100% right to ask for three. On the other hand, three monsters is a lot to read.
One thing I'd like to see is Paizo ask contestants to re-write an encounter from a previous Paizo adventure. A word limitation of 500, with the required supporting material made available to the contestants (which would essentially mean giving it out for free, so I'd suggest an older adventure). For example, contestants might be asked to re-write one room taken from the second Age of Worms adventure, which I'm picking because it was a little dungeon-crawly so it'd be easier to pick out a specific room without having to give away the entire module. They'd have the adventure background, map section, and of course the original text. Then they could do whatever they wanted, but part of the evaluation would be based on how well it integrated with the rest of the adventure.
So my suggestion would be:
Round 1: Design a magic weapon or armor
I liked how the challenges were clearly defined, I have a decent idea how long this will take to run.
Re: Arabian theme - most adventures don't have a true western theme. It isn't like the PCs walk into a town and someone says, "Ho there travelers! We've just invented the horse collar and we're thinking of developing crop rotation! What be your opinion of the flying buttress?" You can have a perfectly fun Arabian game without bringing in flying carpets and magic lamps (though chicks in harem pants and bare midriff tops are still mandatory). Just plunk down a few palm trees and run the thing.
There's different play styles packed in here. Intrigue and adventure. Lots of skill checks. Its a good bet that everyone at the table will get to have the kind of fun they really enjoy from gaming. I like it.
French Wolf wrote:
Exactly. All of these top 6 are good encounters.
That sort makes me wonder that if Paizo chooses to do this again, they might want to make the encounter challenge a little more specific. "An EL 5 encounter with gnolls", for example. While I enjoy reading the diverse encounters presented, I'm wondering what we'd have seen if the format was more strict.
Also, writing to spec is the rule, not the exception. The RPG Superstar won't typically be able to enjoy the creative freedom that's been given so far.
Hey! A Knowledge (architecture and engineering) check! Nice!
Regarding previous comments that the tipping action of the boat is the one interesting thing about the encounter: I recall an old game magazine ad for the Paranoia RPG, "For years Paranoia has been written off as a one-joke game, but you have to admit it's a pretty good joke." Well, this is a pretty good gimmick. Using weight is realistic, perhaps excessively so, but its something the DM can have the players do before the start of the game and then its easily handled.
What this encounter does not detail, that perhaps some are overlooking is the potential for drowning. The drowning rules in D&D are nasty (or at least they were in 3.0). This is not just a 2d6 hp of damage trap.
I think this is an encounter that will play out with a lot more action and screaming than it may appear as written.
Good concept. Others have mentioned things that I'm not fond of, such as the small room. I like that the PCs have to save the villagers and that they are under some real pressure to do so.
I do not like the ad hoc experience reward. It seems like its rewarding something the PCs would do anyway.
The EL of 10 is showing as correct going by this EL calculator:
... but given the effects that deaths have in this room, I'm not sure its appropriate. EL/CR is an art as well as a science. And this is a EL 10 that is harder than average for a "normal" EL 10. There are seven human bad guys here. This essentially means the PCs can only permit two townspeople to die. I did like how you set the townspeople's CON to 13, so even if they fail the poison save after death #3 they don't lose any hit points. That was good thinking.
Again: good concept. I'm not sure it would work in execution with a lot of groups though.
A superior entry.
The +20% exp bonus is exactly the kind of thing I like to see. I don't like exp bonuses for encounters that are harder than standard for the EL. I do like exp bonuses for actions the PCs take that go above and beyond a simple defeat of the challenges.
The map is a little ambitious. What happens if the PCs break all the ceiling supports?
Also, what is the DC for the Knowledge check to know about the room's lore?
But these are minor editing concerns. Well done.
Post a joke while waiting for round 5. Keep it clean.
Did you hear about the cross-eyed teacher?
What do you call a arrogant fugitive falling from a building?
A man left his cat with his brother while he went on vacation for a week. When he came back, the man called his brother to see when he could pick the cat up. The brother hesitated, then said, ''I'm so sorry, but while you were away, the cat died."
The man was very upset and yelled, ''You know, you could have broken the news to me better than that. When I called today, you could have said he was on the roof and wouldn't come down. Then when I called the next day, you could have said that he had fallen off and the vet was working on patching him up. Then when I called the third day, you could have said he had passed away.''
The brother thought about it and apologized.
"So how's Mom?" asked the man.
"She's on the roof and won't come down."
Europe: no bears, moose, or deer to combat daily and they're ahead of the US east coast. Coincidence? I think not.
That isn't true. The truth is that since the west coast has mountain lions they have to fight them off with ninja-sticks on the way to work (or to get groceries, or hang out at the mall, or whatever). The whole "three hours behind" thing is just a cover-up of the ravenous mountain lion plauge and to a lesser extent, bobcats.
That's why its a full three hours on the west coast, but it drops to two hours and then one hour the further east you go. Fewer mountain lions and bobcats.
8 of 32
I'm with the others in the thread, I like the pillars. I think the scale is fine if you think "skyscrapers" and not "cities". This is a good high-fantasy nation that could benefit from a few more sites and points of interest, but it definitely has potential to be a winner.
My gripes with the setting could all be solved by dividing all time periods given by 10. A 200 year old nation with judges appointed every 10 years and a nasty war that happened 20 to 30 years ago. As it stands we have five distinct cultures living amongst each other for 2,000 years and they're still quite distinct. That's a little odd. I mean, I live in a country established a little over 200 years ago and I know a place where I can get tandoori chicken on a pizza, but the dwarves never picked up anything from the Greco-Roman guys? ("This is madness!" "No! This is Clan Ironheeeeeelllmmmm!")
And I'm begging for the insect guys to be thri-kreen, even though they aren't in the SRD.
Rating: Thumbs Up
Marc Radle 81 wrote:
Why the heck are you announcing each of your reviews? Again, I don't mean to be harsh, but do I really need to know this is your sixth review?
1) It serves as a tracking tool for me. I'm doing this on both work and home computers and I'm not taking paper notes because I have enough clutter as it is. I can search my posts by date, but if I'm reading a thread I lose context of when I reviewed the entry relative to the others.
2) More importantly, it acts as a declaration of bias for you. If there are five countries that are, say, anarcho-syndicalist communes populated entirely by Storm Giants and you see me waxing rhapsodic about how original one of them is, the marker helps you know that I simply haven't gotten to the others yet. Also, if you see that something is my 29th or 30th review, that's an indication that I might be a little burnt out. So the marker helps you weight my comments.
But I can be more unobtrusive about them. Maybe just a number like x/32 ?
This is my seventh review of the 2nd round submission entries.
First, I'm going to come right out and flatly disagree with Mr. Mona. You may see a "peaceful society", sir, but I see a country suitable for low level adventuring. There's nothing wrong with good oriented nations where nobody terribly important is a secret agent of evil. In fact it makes sense to have at least a few of these lying about.
However there is a way to write a country up and a way to set up an adventure. This entry is a way to set up an adventure. A pretty good adventure, actually. Lots of tie ins and a nice cultural background. But we're ultimately talking about a kingdom submission that has over six paragraphs about these anklets.
The author did choose to make his population nomadic and that's always a little hard to write up. But that doesn't rule out landmarks other sites of demonic influence and perhaps even some sort of jungle-based fey that attempt to play off the humans and demons against each other in order to preserve the forests. There was potential with this idea and maybe if the author had more time it would have been explored. But as it stands now, I'm left feeling a little let down.
Rating: Thumbs Down
This is my sixth review
I'm thinking about giving this high marks because the author did a lot of the grunt work in nation creation. All the stuff that isn't fun to do, he did. That speaks well for him.
I know this entry is going to get panned by some for being a little boring and I've beaten down on some entries that were dry. The thing is that this submission covers the stuff that is typically the dryer material and gives a little adventure seed for each place. We know a lot about this country and its well organized so the DM can reference what is needed fairly quickly.
What we have here is clearly no show-pony, but it is a workhorse. I want to see this author advance. I want to see this author put a little more life into his writing, but I think this entry demonstrates a rock hard core that other, perhaps more original, submissions have not produced. There are plenty of original ideas out in the RPG world, the point of buying a product is that the DM doesn't have to do all the work of fleshing it out. This author has shown he is willing to do the grunt work.
All of that being said ... a nitpick ... if the ruler is elected for a period of time without hereditary rule and given limited powers, that's not a king. The author comes out and says its a republic, but stops short of calling the leader "president" which is closer to the ruler's true role. I guess that sounded too modern.
Rating: Thumbs Up
This is my fifth review.
I think this entry could have benefited by simply making the plague a more recent event. You'd have the former ... former ... hey, who the heck ran this place before the King usurped control? Was it that magic council? Because they're apparently still around, good at magic, and outnumber the king even though he's one of them. Anyway, the former rulers would now be rebel leaders and yes, you'd be looking at a fantasy version of Star Wars, but that'd be a little stronger than the entry is now.
In response to the judges' concerns with the anti-dwarf antagonism, I agree but not for the reasons you state. If the dwarves were rich and, say, immune to the plague there would have been backlash. No evil king, just human nature. Putting the king at the center of everything detracts from the submission.
And that is what ultimately is going to lead me to give this a thumbs down. This entry is more about the evil king than the kingdom. A shorter timeline with a larger cast of NPCs would have given this entry much needed support.
Rating: Thumbs Down
This is my fourth review.
There's definitely some good stuff here, but it is kind of all over the place. I think part of the problem is that essentially there are two countries here. Or one country with a really big dungeon attached to it.
The note at the end on quest structure is interesting and I think deserves some note. This isn't just a good-guy place that is secretly evil, there's a definite statement that even the good guys have an edge of their own. Perhaps if that had been played up instead of the good versus evil aspect, we'd be looking at a solid contender. But as it stands now, the moral dilemma isn't really for the PCs, its for the NPCs. Do they ally with the wild and the free to stand up against evil? That's the kind of thing I'd like to have the players go through, not the NPCs.
Rating: Thumb Sideways
This is my third review.
There's not much to say that hasn't already been said and I'm one of the first (if not the first) non-Paizo person to show up. The second paragraph of the description is great. The rest is not exciting. Given the limitations of space, do we really need to know when this place was settled? Too much history.
The DM Secrets section unfortunately led me to give this a thumbs-down. There's only one real secret there, the rest is stuff the players are going to know. That's not much of a hook for DMs. I mean, come on, the big secret of the Frostmagier is that nobody knows who he really is?
I'm sure if the author had cut down on his history and used that space to include more current events, he'd have found that he wouldn't have to put the current events in the DM Secrets section. This is a good first draft, but I'm afraid I'm not fond of it in it's current format.
Rating: Thumbs Down
For those keeping track this is my second nation review.
It looks like the author fell into a bit of a trap. Obviously the cool parts are the noble houses. But the author had to write up a country, not a political body. The result is a pretty cool group of evil nobility with a country tacked on. If that premise had been picked up and run with, this would be getting more than lukewarm attention. Perhaps by removing a few sentences from the history, applying that space to the DM secrets, and then writing up a tangled web of alliances and betrayals. That would be something worth coming back to.
And maybe the author had that in mind. Maybe there's 10 pages of intrigue all written up and ready to go. But we're really not seeing it here.
Now then ... I don't like apostrophes in names either gentlemen, but a search-and-replace feature and a quick admonishment to the author is all it would take were this a commissioned manuscript on your desk. And I absolutely promise if you go heavy against the apostrophes you'll just start seeing a bunch of names with umlats or something.
Dö yöü wänt thät?
Rating: Thumb Sideways
I'm evaluating the countries out of order because I figure a lot of people will be going from top down or bottom up.
What a pleasant first country to begin evaluation!
I like how the author placed the country in a hidden area and then made no further references to those boundaries. This could easily be an island or have a bordering desert. Yes, its unlikely that rain forest would border a desert, but the point is the text doesn't force you to accept the boundaries and that's a good sign that the author was keeping his readers in mind.
Another good sign is the recent history. I have a grudge against 10,000 year histories where 9,000 of the years can be summed up as "not much happened". Those kinds of histories can potentially lock down a DM and they do it unnecessarily.
A sorceress queen with an all-girl army of high charisma spellcasters? They even live in a jungle so it's pretty hot out all the time. Somebody was thinking about what the cover art might look like! I have no real strong feelings about this, but it was avoidable (just include the lads) and its clear pandering. While the author has clearly demonstrated an ability to keep the (majority male) audience in mind, there is such a thing as subtlety.
Points are gained for the DM secrets not being a mere list of dungeons. I was a little worried that people would do that. I would have liked to have seen more NPC motivations. The reference to the monsters being released into the world is nice though, that basically gives the DM license to throw out everything from dinosaurs to flumphs.
If I can't use it, I won't vote for it.
I disagree with that criteria.
The assignment was not "country that would fit into Setting X" or even "country that would fit into most fantasy games". The only thing they really asked for was that you could play D&D in it. Troll Psions or epic-level kingdoms are very much on the table for me even though I don't use psi or epic levels.
The question is not if you can use this submission in your game. The question is if the author can produce good material. Otherwise....
If it's not original, I won't vote for it.
... you won't see as much of that.
I mean, gosh, it has to be original and fit in your game? You aren't buying a product, you're evaluating the prose.
The forum ate my very long post on my own judging criteria.
It was an awesome post. It had orcs, elf knights with wand lances, and lesbian sorceress queens. I even mentioned that picture on Erik Mona's blog of a giant bridge that looked like it had once been a dragon's spine. It was the post that would have been the Rosetta Stone of RPG fantasy nation judging criteria. Perhaps, in generations yet unborn, post-graduate classes would be structured around it on leading moon-universities.
But now it is lost forever.