Jeb Boyt's page

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32. 47 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists.


RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Congrats on the great response to this idea. I'm interested in seeing where you go with it.

But, . . .

Cartigan wrote:
Obviously I am the only person who doesn't think this makes sense from my understanding of what d20 Modern is and what Pathfinder (itself basically a d20 subset) is.

No, I'm with you. I'm not sure how a person can reconcile Pathfinder and d20M. It sounds a bit like combining apples and oranges. And, even then, you'd still need to distinguish it from Spycraft.

Still, a Pathfinder approach to d20M that provided new core mechanics (i.e. CMB, revised skills and feats, etc.), that offered core classes with stronger starting abilities and better defined roles, that was easy for GMs to work with, and that retained d20M's flexibility could be interesting.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Glad you liked them.

taig wrote:
You had me at badja.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

The Weave05 wrote:
Just made my purchase today and wrote a review.

Glad you liked the Jar.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Interesting that there were no urban encounters.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Great use of your theme. You had me at corrupted dryads.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

The ooze is just a great monster to throw at a party in a cold environment. It's like a Winter Tendroculus.

The fey are also intriguing. They could be used in some atmospheric ways.

The Herne-inspired entry didn't work for me. I've seen several different interpretations and ways to use Herne and the Wild Hunt. This one just seems like another monster. Although you have some great imagery with the hanged men in a forlorn, frozen forest.

Also, there was one problem with the ooze. Insects and cold don't usually go together.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Very atmospheric, and if used right a real challenge. I can easily see having a party follow the destruction left in the wake of the Moving Hunger and/or preparing to defend against it.

There are two big missings, though:
- How do you remove those feathers? (If it's there, I couldn't find it), and
- Stats for the Corpse Castles. This is just such a great image. They need their own stats because the players will want to take them down.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32


Jason Nelson 20 wrote:

3. At CR 15, aren’t those followers and cohort dead meat?

Maybe. Sure, high-level adventurers can carve through them like nothing, but:
a. They can also be numerous enough to be annoying and distracting in combat situations, to provide flanking and aid another to the stronger NPCs or to impede the PCs and to coup de grace anyone who gets rendered helpless in combat.
b. They also can make trouble in scenarios where the PCs encounter Avinash and the Marauders orthogonally—not as direct adversaries, but coming into a situation where Avinash & Co are dealing with someone ELSE.
c. They can also provide appropriate fodder for PLAYER CHARACTERS who have the Leadership feat and wonder when they will EVER get to use their followers for something other than a line on their character sheet.
d. The cohort is not super-tough, but he’s not a pushover either. The false Avinash will be able to put up a fair fight and get some licks in.

Also, as a boss villain, Avinash should be a higher CR than the party. This villain is also designed so that a party will first uncover evidence of the Marauders and then work their way up through the gang and its plots before encountering Avinash.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Jason Nelson 20 wrote:
Chris Mortika wrote:
Jeb Boyt wrote:
By the way, this is a perfect villain for a Blue Rose campaign.
What's that?
Same question here. The name is dimly familiar but not coming to me.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

By the way, this is a perfect villain for a Blue Rose campaign.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Jason Nelson 20 wrote:
Actually, the idea of building a scalable (or, more to the point, pre-scaled) villain is a hell of an idea. I'm not exactly sure if it could have been pulled off in the constrants of the contest, though I think it could have been. If I had thought of it, I might very well have tried doing that.

The write-up for Hetty does this, which is part of why it is so impressive.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

varianor wrote:
The stat blocks are vital to an encounter with any of these individuals. That said, they take up a lot of space. The higher the CR of the encounter (in general) or the more special abilities of the chosen creature/character/what-have-you, the more space must be devoted to that portion of the entry.

True, but it seems that the folks that opened with a description of the character and that closed with the stat block did a better job of conveying their characters.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

propeliea wrote:

In 1996 (during my first attempt at academia) I started out what might have been my most fulfilling campaign with a group of bandits who were trying to rustle a minor lord's show horses. One of the hands was an informant for the bandits named Bran. Just an informant who managed to escape after teh PCs interegated him.

Three years later Bran was still at the center of the Great Conspiracy Wheel of Machinations (yes, one of the players eventually created a bad guy org chart and then a party action flow chart based on the org chart).

Obsessive interaction makes for great conflict. I think that's my concern with many of the villains. The most important aspect is how they interact and challange the PCs, not their backstory, stats, or even their ambitions.

A great villain has a spefic angle in which he/she/it invites obsessive interaction.

Exactly. Some memorable villains are built by design, some occur by chance because there is something about the character that clicks with the players. I've had players that have singled out otherwise nondescript NPCs based on little more than lucky die rolls or a throw-away line from a brief character description. Half of what makes a great villian is how the players react to the character.

That said and turning to the format question, there have been some memorable villains that first appeared in this format. High Inquisitor Tremaine from the WEG Star Wars supplement Fragments from the Rim comes immediately to mind. WW has also had several that appeared this way. Still, a large part of what makes a great villain is character and context. Many of the comments on the villains in this contest have pointed out how a villain either has or lacks a clear context with a clear idea of minions, motivations, and plans.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Clark Peterson wrote:

"instance boss"? please, 4e isnt here yet...

Fine. This still seems more like an adventure than a villain. The Demonlake would make for a great adventure. I'm just not sure how to use her as a villain.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

I really like the way he uses change shape to mask his identity and manage his network of spies. One change I might make would be to make him a cyclops so that you could play up the image of the all-seeing eye and then link all of his false identities through their one-eyed appearance (thought that might be too obvious a tell).

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

I like the corrupted nymph, but she seems more like an instance boss than a villain.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

I love villains that turn out to be puppets of the true villain. This is a great use of a nightmare, but the entry needs more on the Catspaw Marauders.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

A 30-foot alabaster djinn that is attempting to rebuild the world that he knew before being imprisoned for dozen of millenia? Awesome. I like that his seemingly random acts are part of plan to assemble forces for taking back the world. I also like the implication that he might attempt to recruit a party of PCs only to later turn against them.

One question, though, where does he live?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Thanks for posting this.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Clark Peterson wrote:

I know one thing I have to clarify--

The items and countries and villains are not precursors for each author. In other words, if an author wins the contest, he or she is under no obligation to use that content in their adventure proposal for Paizo. So just because author X writes country Y doesnt mean his or her villain has to have anything to do with either that country or that item.

I have seen some posts that seem to suggest that some people think the authors are building an adventure proposal piece by piece here. They arent.

An interesting curveball for a future round might be to require that a submission take place in one of the settings from Round 2 that was developed by one of the other contestants.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Congrats and good luck to all!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Erik Mona wrote:
Given that Nyarlathotep is almost certainly in the public domain, you probably could have gotten away with that one. :)

Almost, but there is enough confusion around the issue that I didn't want to risk it. Most of the other sources have used descriptors or variants on the name. I could have perhaps looked at using some of the other descriptors for N, such as the crawling chaos, dark man, etc.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Thanks for the advice.

I do have one question though.

Blackdirge wrote:


Make sure you denote bonus feats with a superscript “B.” This includes bonus feats from templates, race, and levels in the fighter class.

Where does this come from? I don't believe I've ever seen this used.

It is an interesting idea for capturing the char gen accounting, but I'm not sure that the benefit is greater than the effort required for implementation.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Jason Nelson 20 wrote:

3. Bards? WTF?

That one’s easy. As per the SRD, Bards are the only class that gets the modify memory spell, which was an essential component for the thought police model of the Oninku. I probably could’ve made them psions instead, but I thought bards were the best choice for also their great social skills, charms, suggestions, illusions, etc. The main role of the Oninku was to keep secrets and to find out secrets, to negotiate and bargain, and bards seemed ideally suited.

Plus, people seem to always underestimate bards. With a combination of Charisma-based skills and arcane magic, bards make excellent spy masters.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Aaron Whitley wrote:
What are the primary religions and how do they interact with the people and the government?

The rule on avoiding proprietary information made religions a difficult one to address, particularly given the word limit. Believe me, if I could have explicitly said that the gnolls were worshipers of Nyarlathotep, I would have.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Voting has closed. So, I'll now respond to the comments. Starting with the biggest issue first. A friend observed that this lacked an introductory paragraph. So, let's take another shot at the description:

Description: An aristocratic republic that thrives on trade along the Great Road. Formerly northly provinces of the Lachan Empire, the Union has rebuilt itself From the devastation of the Chaos Wars, two of the northern provinces of the Lachan Empire formed the Vendithian Union and have built it into the largest power west of the Elven realms. In a land still plagued by chaos storms and chaos-spawned creatures, the Union offers stability in a ravaged world.

Overall, this entry definitely needed more spice. Probably, I should have consolidated the discussion of the two western provinces into one paragraph and used the word count for additional flavor.

Prior to submission, I counted this at 998 words. Could the addition of html codes have increased the count?

As for the plausibility of an aristocratic republic, I'll refer you to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Good luck to everyone in the next round.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Eldrich Gaiman wrote:
Gaming is about being transported to another place, and it takes more than saying what things are at a location to convey what it's like to be there.

Good point. As has been recently observed:

"Darth and Droids' wrote:
[T]here comes a time in every GM's life when they have created something marvellous and just want the players to listen for a minute while they read out the vivid imagery that conjures up a magical world of fantasy and adventure in the imaginations of all the participants in this shared experience. The players, inevitably, will want to skip this boring bit and get on with the game.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

One of the things that I like about this setting is that it reminds me of the lost cities in the deserts of Robert E. Howard's stories where a nominally good but decadent elite masks an underlying evil. Bereket just needs more lotus eating.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

NSpicer wrote:
Is it possible that it's much more difficult to craft a compelling Good nation as opposed to an Evil one? Are we, as voters, generally swayed more by the Evil nations because there's an immediate "extra" conflict that pervades the powers-that-be...and heroes can then legitimately oppose authority at the same time they're opposing the evil humanoids that also pepper the countryside?

Yeah, as others have noted, the evil countries are set up as clear antagonists for the players. So, the question of what will the players do has a clear answer.

Stereotypical, monolithic evil can be dull, which is why I'm drawn to countries like Bereket that is pretending to be one thing while secretly being manipulated by a cabal of evil druids.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

JoelF847 wrote:
The biggest thing I've gained was a strong push, or kick in the A$$, to actually start writing, instead of just thinking about ideas and writing.


I've also learned that there are some really talented people out there with some intriguing ideas for the design of new fantasy settings.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

amusingsn wrote:
I like that the cult of the Dark Lord is corrupting from within through the presence of the gnoll slaves. It resounds with me on some poetic level.

Thanks. Glad that you like that hook.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Swamp Druid wrote:
I like it. I think it's a good solid entry. It's not at the front of the pack but it's good.

Thanks. I'll hope that you'll remember me during the voting.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

catdragon wrote:
I don't have any example to state this case, but i feel (read, feel, I have no facts) as if the entries that were received earlier were judged less harshly than the ones that came later.

From my experience in reviewing and scoring grant submissions, I would say that there is a slight - very slight - advantage to being reviewed early. The reviewers are fresh, and their thinking about what constitutes an acceptable versus an unacceptable submission are somewhat unformed.

But, any advantage is far outweighed by the strength or weakness of a submission. A great submission stands out by itself based on the strength of its presentation and how it meets the criteria.

But really, any advantage for getting in early disappears on the second reading. An early submission that you first thought was okay may seem stronger or weaker after consideration of the total pool of submissions.

Public review of this round of submissions has only been going on for about 28 hours, and we've still got days to go in the discussions and voting.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Vote for me. I've gotten the impression that the first eight that will make the cut are fairly clear and the next eight are in play. Vote for me if you're interested in a villain who'd you never expect to be a real SOB.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

mwbeeler wrote:
Jeb Boyt wrote:
Slick tagline. For some reason though, reading through the rest was a hella grind. It isn't bad, it just lacks pizzazz.

Thanks, and a very fair criticism.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Mothman wrote:
This seems reasonably well written and detailed … but somewhat bland. . . . If I were describing this entry to someone it would probably be “the one with the Chaos Wars” – but then we really don’t know what they have to do with the setting

Thanks Mothman. I'll respond in more detail once the voting has closed.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

BiggusGeekus wrote:

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.

Thanks Biggus.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Interesting setting: tropical atolls, undersea ruins, pirates, and a nice mix of races. Reminds me a bit of a fantasy Blue Planet.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

I like the way that it mystically shapes and reshapes the land as it moves, and I really like the cost for using the map. The shifting city does seem like something from Moorcock or faerie.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Very nice. There is a lot going on here, and there are plenty of hooks for a GM.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Very nicely done.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Michael Kogan 74 wrote:
The lack of being able to put the map up makes giving a clear picture of the cool geography nearly impossible within 1000 words.

I had an interesting experience with this. Normally, I draw the map, and the map then guides my thinking about a country. At several times during drafting my entry, though, I would think "But this description doesn't fit the map." Then, I'd realize that I could adjust the map to better fit the description.

The hardest part for me, though, was coming up with all of the names that I needed. That was a real block, until I worked out some naming conventions.

"Eric Mona' wrote:
Apparently one potential Superstar flaked and missed the deadline (not sure which one yet), so it's a good thing we picked those alternates!

Ouch. Now I'm worrying whether my submission went through and posted correctly.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

magdalena thiriet wrote:
Nice item with interesting tactical possibilities...though indeed, name does not work.

Yeah, it is a lame and pedestrian name. I suppose I could have used "statuette" in place of "figurine." I was working from the idea that it should be some protective religous figure.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Vendithian Union
“Prosperity flows from the King’s respect”
Alignment: NG

Description: An aristocratic republic that thrives on trade along the Great Road. The Union has rebuilt itself from the devastation of the Chaos Wars into the largest power in the West and the largest outside of the Elven realms.

Geography: The Vendithian Union lies between the Western Sea and the Central Sea, also known as Gaia’s Cup. The Union is named for the Vendithian Mountains which form the spine of the country, running roughly from northwest to southeast. The mountains are richly forested in pine. East of the mountains, there is rich farmland, and the largest river is the Warnive, which is navigable up to the foothills of the Vendithians. West of the mountains, the lands are dry and rugged between the mountains and the broad coastal plain. The rivers in this area have seasonal flows and shifting channels that limit navigation to the lower reaches.

Ruler: King Alexy Zadis, 35 years old.
Government: In the Union, a Parliament of nobles elects the king. The power of the king is limited in favor of the nobles and the wealthy burghers. The parliament meets when called by the king, usually once every two years. The senior leaders of Parliament form the King’s Council and administer much of the Union’s regular business. The Parliament’s meetings take place at various locations around the Union, typically in large and ornate encampments.

Capital: The capital of Oris is on the Warnive River near the Central Sea. The city’s keep is the seat of the King when he is in residence and is home to the King’s Council. Oris is a thriving trade city attracting merchants from all over, particularly those traveling along the Great Road. The Governing Council of Oris is made up of nobles and burghers. Oris has a number of humanoids from foreign lands, including an Elvish embassy. Oris escaped the worst of the Chaos Wars, but signs of damage can still be seen, and the city today is only about half as large as it was prior to the wars. (45,000 humans, 3500 dwarves, 1500 orcs, 800 indentured gnolls, 500 tieflings, 250 halflings, and 100 elves).


Panithia. Panithia is the rich land east of the mountains, bordered on the north by the Agmith mountains and the orc lands beyond and on the south by the Vendithians. To the southeast, the Lachan Marches separate Panithia from the City State of Datia on the shore of the Central Sea. Panithia is home to many of the noble houses, including King Alexy’s. The people and lands of Panithia were spared the worst of the Chaos Wars, but the surrounding mountains are home to ogre tribes and gnolls roam the Lachan Marches to the south.
Notable Settlement: Oris.

Wyndrake’s Pass. The main pass through the Vendithian Mountains is the traditional land of the Stonehammer Dwarves. The approaches to the pass are lined with orchards and small farms. Prior to the formation of the Union, the pass was the sight of numerous battles as the humans from both sides of the mountains protested the punitive taxes that the Dwarves imposed on trade. The success of the Final Siege of Stonehammer was one of the key events that lead to the formation of the Union.
Notable Settlement: Stonehammer Hold (6,500 dwarves, 2,250 humans, 300 other).

Tellur. In the temperate lands along the northeast shore of the Western Sea, the holdings are widely spaced. The passes north through the Vendithians lead to the range of the nomadic orcs. To the northwest is the spreading dark forest and Frostforge Hold in the Northern Vendithians. Tellur was badly damaged during the Chaos Wars but is beginning to rebuild. Further to the west are other lands still struggling to recover from the Chaos Wars.
Notable Settlement: Maruchan (8,000 humans, 3,000 dwarves, 1,500 orcs, 800 tieflings, and 500 indentured gnolls).

Mirtula. The lands south of Tellur are more arid, and their southern border is under constant threat from gnolls, the beast-men of Narris. During the Chaos Wars, the port city of Beldan was destroyed, and the shifting sea left the ruins stranded miles inland. Now Beldan is home only to undead and other chaos creatures. The new city of Zadar is benefiting from increasing trade with the tieflings and other lands to the west. A southern route along the Great Road leads through Narris to Datia and other points east, but it is a dangerous road.
Notable Settlement: Zadar (10,000 humans, 3,000 dwarves, 1,500 tieflings, and 800 dwarves).

Notable Groups:

Knights of Lacha. The Knights guide and care for travelers along the Great Road. The Knights are based in Oris and maintain waystations for travelers in all of the Union’s major cities and in other cities along the road.

The Guardians. A group of druids, rangers, and others that are the protectors of the island of Amphala near the middle of the Central Sea, where the uninitiated are not allowed.

Stoutanvil Dwarves. Exiles from their ruined hold, they are scattered across the Union and in Frostforge Hold. Some hope to one day return to their former home in the mountains northwest of Panithia.

DM Secrets:
- Some of the western nobles resent the growing influence of the Oris merchants and are beginning to secretly discuss whether to exercise their lawful right to rebel against King Alexy.
- The dwarves have long memories. Many among the Stonehammers resent the presence of humans in Wyndrake Pass and see that most of the benefits of the Union have flowed to the humans.
- The Guardians have been sending expeditions throughout the lands surrounding the Central Sea, even into the dark forests north of the Western Sea. They may be mapping the changed world and documenting the chaos still present, or they may have other objectives that no one outside their order knows.
- The gnoll slaves in Oris and Zadar have brought their worship of the Dark Lord with them, and others have begun to join their cult.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Nice item. I like the consumable aspect. It would have been good, though, to have a description for finding or making multiple doses.

Mactaka wrote:
(rofl..this is becoming like a free Wondrous Item Handbook!!)

Isn't that part of the general idea ;)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

I used these in a campaign a couple of years ago to shield a ruined temple. The party never asked why they weren't able to teleport past the walls. After I worked the figurine up for the contest, I was shocked at the cost. The figurines were, collectively, probably one of the largest treasures in the place.

Ross Byers wrote:
The normal, english, earth reference frame meaning of the expression, I'd assume. If it is not stationary, it turns off.

Yeah, seems clear enough. Though, I suppose the figurine could be attached to a vehicle such as a ship or a carriage in order to prevent persons from teleporting into the vehicle. The key distinction, here, being the figurine's stable orientation relative to the space to be shielded.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Figurine of Shielding
When activated, this item emanates a field in a 20-foot radius that completely blocks extradimensional travel. The banned forms of movement include astral projection, blink, dimension door, ethereal jaunt, etherealness, gate, maze, plane shift, shadow walk, teleport, and similar spell-like or psionic abilities. The figurine is activated through a one minute ritual. If the figurine is moved, the field will dissipate until the figurine is activated again.

The figurine generally takes the form of a divine being or other planar creature, can be made of stone or metal, and can range from six to eighteen inches in height.

Moderate abjuration; CL 7th; Craft Wondrous Item; dimensional anchor; Price 56,000 gp; Weight 5-20 lb.