I am playing my first non-core race (ratfolk in Hell's rebels) and I find it an interesting challenge exactly because you have to make an effort to fit him in. So he has maxed disguise because he tends to stand out, he has special rules for switching to walking on all fours (I cannot imagine a ratfolk not switching to four legged movement when in a hurry), he has a hard time choosing between exploring the treasure vault or the kitchen, and so on.
High level casters should at least get a +1 to DC to all their spells at level 15 and 18 (+2), so their spells keep pace with the saves of the opponents. Otherwise you would spend all your high level slots on just heightening them to keep them effective. Now you can also use another metamagic feat, so you really get like a maxed chain lightning that is effective instead of everyone having a succesful relex save.
I am running it with 3.5 rules (where xp rewards drop if your level goes up too much) and my five-person party reached level 6 at the end of book three, as it is supposed to. I would certainly fudge a bit with xp if possible, to keep them at about tht level, as I felt even at the rate we were going, AoW is not always challenging. Battle for blackwell keep is a walk-over unless players have no sense of crowd control, for instance.
I rank this submission fourth. The geomaw is used as intended, lurking and camouflaged, even more so because of all he crystals around. The hiding trog is OK, as it has been there for some time. I do not like encounters where PCs just happen to show up at the exact right moment, but that does not apply here. Trap is simply damage and as such not really scary, but made more interesting by possible external trigger. Environment adds to the atmosphere as well as making the encounter more difficult. I do not find a reference that the geomaw is immune to the slashing crystals, which I think it should be, so that is a minus, but maybe I missed something.
I like the basis of these guys: shy, stealthy, with a good defense by manipulating force. Where it goes wrong is the javelins. It would have been superstar if they used force to imprison PCs, possibly limiting their air supply. I could design fun encounters with the PCs having to negociate with these nuisances. A creature strongly focussed on defence would have added a real new flavor.
I voted for your glacier. This monster however, I have some serious problems with. Fly speed 30? For a balloon with no wings? Reach 15 down I am OK with, but reach 15 sideways for a creature described as rather weightless, so without much muscle? No.
Being a chemist, I feel I must explain that colorless fire is absolutely correct: if you mix natural gas and air in the right proportions, it will burn colorless. You will notice only a distortion of the air. A common mistake is to assume that this is not a hot flame, it is!
Blast! I changed my vote to include this one at the last moment as I was sure my number eight would make it anyway. My gut feeling was right, that this was ending up top 16 but never 8 with everyone. Well, next year be a bit more specific on how your map is filled ( I thought the rules were very sketchy as to what hints were allowed, which probably didn't help) and you will get through. Thank you for showing us your map.
You almost made my top eight, as there is clearly an adventure here, but the map does not convince me on a few points. Why zig-zag roads if there are no buildings in the way? Then they should be straight, with little driveways veering off towards the buildings. Also, cities only have open spaces in the center if these have a purpose: market square, militia drill ground, park, loading areas where sea goods are transfered onto caravans...your map is leaving too much to my imagination.
My voting is based more on concept than execution: are there challenges in the Map, terrain that can be used one way or another? So, in short:
Then there were seven sort of in a photofinish of which I picked on gut feeling:
There are a lot of things wong with this map. I think encroaching lava this close would do more damage to ice, for starters. And all the stuff mentioned above. That being said, I have looked at a third of the contestants so far and this is the first where the map smells like danger. I like danger. A map should suggests challenges. I would be surprised if this one is not ending up in my votes.
I love the idea of a partially submerged town, but where are the challenges? Where is the pesky tree-top line blocking me from rowing my boat straight towards the lighthouse? Have they rotted long since? But then the roof should have caved in and some of the houses should have nests of sea animals or birds. You started out well, but it feels very unfinished.
This round was a bit unclear in that it was not evident if you were allowed to indicate possible encounters and such in your map. I think that is why this map is devoid of any such reference. Even so, it looks as if the author did not ask himself: How do I make it exciting, rather than visually pleasing. It is visually pleasing, but that is not enough (etc., see above).
Glitterdust is THE most powerful second level spell. A must have. For first level, grease is a good option. Apart from targetting the floor, you can also use it to cast on an enemy's weapon, which is really handy and an often forgotten use. In certain cases it can be targetted on an ally to help with escape artists checks, though that is up to the DM.
I have an elf in my game that just shot the doorman of the thieves ' guild because he was there and...free xp, right? Now the party will encounter limping elves with bloody noses all over town. I presume this will get a good laugh as well as warn the player that actions have consequences. Hopefully the good aligned characters will say a word or two to the miscreant. I try to get the message across without spoiling the fun.
I DMed the first four modules so far and for my group I had to rewrite some of it.