|KhaosKontrol Star Voter Season 8|
So, after reading through this adventure, I can say that it's not perfect. There are definitely some things that can be improved, and some areas where the author can grow. Personally, I think the adventure looks like a lot of fun and the type of thing I'd like to sit down to. I'll fully admit that I'm the type of adventurer who likes the "uncanny" and really enjoys unique, off the beaten path adventure types, so this sort of adventure is my jam.
However, I'm more concerned about the criticisms levied by the judges. I feel like a lot of the critique provided is not assisting and some of it is flat-out wrong. Now, I understand that this is more or less a “side project” for our illustrious Paizo overlords, but when you’re looking at a high caliber contest like this and judging the work of passionate (if slightly under-experienced) writers, it seems unfair to make the sorts of criticisms I’m seeing here:
I might want to look into next year specifically asking RPG superstar proposals to deliberately NOT be set in the same region as upcoming Adventure Paths, just so we can get some variety in our adventure locations. I’d hoped that by requiring these adventures to be set in the Darklands to avoid that.
Didn’t the finalists need to get approval via pitch before this entry was created? If so, why was it allowed then? It seems odd to blast someone for knowledge beyond their grasp.---
A fight against a bulette whose actions and burrowing weaken the environment is a neat idea… but take care involving lava in a 5th level adventure! That stuff BURNS.
I think that’s probably why it was said that it superheats the water. Lava is very powerful, but lava underneath water causing it to boil would just end up being… boiling water. Seems much more manageable by a 5th level party (though still potentially dangerous), and in my opinion a very cool visual… “lava glowing deep under the water, causing numerous bubbles to rise up and disturb the surface of a once warm pool of water to a boiling roil”:
Boiling water deals 1d6 points of scalding damage, unless the character is fully immersed, in which case it deals 10d6 points of damage per round of exposure.
If the monks have regular traffic to and from the Darklands, it’s unlikely that there’d be dangerous monsters like dire bats lurking right there so close to their basement; the monks would have likely driven them off.
I’m honestly a bit baffled by this one. There are so many possibilities as to WHY there would be a creature here that it doesn’t even seem like a point to make whatsoever. Perhaps the dire bats were being fed by the monks, and now that they’re gone the beasts are hungry and angry, attacking the PCs when they show up. Perhaps the bats simply moved in during the few days / weeks since the monks have gone missing (you know, like normal bats do in every day life. Ever gotten bats in your attic or chimney? Nearly everyone ever has at one point or another. I mean, come on.---
“Grower” is a pretty silly name. Avoid using names that are words like that in most cases for most NPCs. An NPC named “Grower” is more likely to get made fun of as a farmer or something by your players than treated seriously. Of course… if you WANT your NPC to be a joke and a source of comedy… that’s fine. But that’s not the goal of this NPC as far as I can see.
Note On Names Duergars abstain from traditional naming conventions, often viewing names as a pointless exercise in a doomed world. When young, they are ‘child,' and then become ‘woman' and ‘man'. Amongst the other races, they often take on a name because their companions ask them to; this name is often matter-of-fact and describes their perceived role in the world.Names Hammer, Smith, War, Hunter, Tailor, Shieldbearer, Slayer, Hatemonger
Grower doesn’t seem silly at all. It seems quite normal for a duergar name, actually. (NOTE: this is a third party notation, but having used the d20pfsrd to get to it, I can see how such a conclusion would be made as well. However, considering there is no “official” naming convention via Paizo material, it works)---
Vegepygmies can’t talk, and hinging an important plot point on having one of them needing to communicate with the PCs is dangerous. Make sure there are more ways for the PCs to learn what’s going on than talking to a creature they’re not likely to be able to easily communicate with in the first place.
Should one of these warriors fall, the vegepygmy chieftain calls off the horde and attempts to communicate with the PCs.
Bolded for relevance… it doesn’t say they talk to the PCs, it says they try to communicate. Writing is communicating. Or gesturing. Or a plethora of other methods as well. Sure, elaboration towards such would have been nice, but it’s not hard to draw such a conclusion from what we’re given, and a finished product would most certainly include such.Admittedly, it would have been good for Brian to include an alternate way of getting this info too, but non-verbal communication with creatures to try to gather information is interesting and different, in my opinion.
Ochre jellies are big. They wouldn’t fit in jars that could be easily carried by duergar… even in their larger form. Green slime’s a better option for this type of stunt.
Wow… where to start here?
Split (Ex)Slashing weapons, piercing weapons, and electricity attacks deal no damage to an ochre jelly. Instead the creature splits into two identical jellies, each with half of the original creature's current hit point total, rounded down. A jelly with 10 hit points or less cannot be further split and dies if reduced to 0 hit points.
Now, while it does not explicitly say such, I think it’s a fair assumption to make that split ochre jellies would weigh half as much, and probably take up less space too. It’d be easy to split an ochre jelly into a few bits and then jar up the off-shoots. That would actually be pretty interesting in my opinion.Also…
Notes in a long-forgotten tome mention a burial practice used in faraway places that resembles cremation. Instead of burning the corpse to ashes, the practitioners seal the body into a stone sarcophagus with an ochre jelly so it can dissolve the body. Afterward, the morticians place the ochre jelly into a large canopic jar, complete with a bronze plaque naming the deceased.
It seems not only quite easy, but practical, to jar ochre jellies.---
That wayang is WAY far from home. Not sure he’s the right choice of creature to include here. A wayang should be a MUCH more important part of an adventure set so far from Tian Xia, not just a glorified wandering monster.
Why? What makes a wayang so special that it can’t be included here? This sounds like personal preference… and as such, not very legitimate criticism.---
You normally can’t awaken a giant slug. Also, you already have intelligent philosopher poet snails in this adventure. A talking giant slug is too much.
Uhh… a druid capable of casting awaken, with the Vermin Heart feat, casts it on a giant slug … What am I missing here? It looks very easy to awaken a vermin, if you’re a druid capable of casting 5th level spells with a single feat. Also, “a talking giant slug is too much” is more personal preference rather than critique. I think it sounds really unique and cool.---
Midnight Morels are unlikely to be encountered outside of the Worldwound.
So, just because the material was printed in the Worldwound campaign setting means you can’t find it elsewhere? Why? The material doesn’t say as much.---
As a creature that can’t talk and lacks hands and warps magic… a spellcasting class is in fact a poor choice for a flail snail.
I… I think bloodragers can do things other than cast spells, right?---
Adding a portal to the First World is too distracting; don’t do it.
Why? It seems like “distracting” and “interesting” are interchangeable here or something. Geez, far be it for an adventure to pave way towards… more adventure…---
“Root dragon” is not a direction I’d like to see dragons go to. “Root” seems not powerful or frightening enough a word to put in front of “dragon.” Furthermore, this is a Darklands adventure, and that means that it’s weird to have First World creatures. I’d rather see a Darklands themed monster as the leader of the vegepygmies.
Again, I have to disagree. I think having an otherworldly creature ruling over the simple vegepygmies is perfect. Also, I guess you’re not familiar with terrifying creatures like treants (ents)? From a non-PF example, the fight scene at the end of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers around Isengard was terrifying. I think a plant-infused dragon is pretty awesome and totally in-line with the flavor of this adventure.---
This ends up sounding like the dragon would have just ignored the PCs if they hadn’t already killed a bunch of vegepygmies, and that's not compelling. A major villain should be proactive, moving forward and causing problems, or at least being an obvious and growing threat.
It would have chewed up word count, but it would have been awesome to have signs of the dragon scattered around the adventure… large claw marks torn into cavern walls, strange root-like outcroppings in unnatural areas (results of the root dragon’s breath weapon), etc… in fact, I’d imagine such description would be in a finished product.In addition, the adventure clearly states that the root dragon is upset with the party regardless of outcome, including simply interfering with them via communication / alliance.
Let me reiterate my earlier sentiment: this is a contest, for fun, which can nonetheless have an impact on the future of these prospective writers. Criticism is great, and constructive criticism is even better. However, in many of the things I outlined here, these don’t qualify as constructive in any way. It’s disappointing to see it go down this way, but ultimately… this was a good adventure. Of course, there can only be one winner, and perhaps this one didn’t stack up against the competition. But at the end of the day, if you have to rely on flimsy arguments, incorrect statements or straight-up biased commentary, what good does that do for our contestants?