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RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16. RPG Superstar 6 Season Star Voter. 236 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists.


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RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

should be a good one.

I kinda hope they do something other than wondrous item as the intro round this year. I understand why they use it as a standard (all the different things they can gauge from a small entry, and it seems unlikely they will change after tweaking and training us all so well, but it would be nice to see a change of gears none the less

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

Assume shield focus, improved bash, mastery, TWF etc.

Mastery is allowing you to use the armour enhancement as a weapon enhancement. This is basically giving you two +5 weapons at half the cost of regular +5 weapons (for which you should have plenty of money givin that you don't nee to actually pay for weapons anymore). Even if these shields are only bucklers they are each providing you +7 armour in addition to being top shelf weapons, and you're not even losing this bonus while bashing. Further, mastery is basically giving you "perfect TWF" since master provides no TWF penalty what fighting with a shield and "other weapon".

It's just way too much for way too little

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

I agree, I simply mean that two-shieldedness is so inherently abuseable that it's not surprising it has been left out of the rules

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

And beer! lots of beer!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

Players are going to come into conflict, and in most normal circumstances they are prevented from acting violently on these conflicts by alignment or local law or personal morality. However, in an evil game where these things aren't present things are going to get bloody. If the human supremacist slaver wizard doesn't come to blows with the orc barbarian warlord than something is going seriously wrong.

As many above have said, if you are going to play an evil game you need to lay down some basics. Lets not say "ground rules", but rather a baseline that you need to make all your players aware of. If they want to kill each other, fine, but then they need to be aware that some of them are going to die, and if you don't want to die then don't piss each other off. I've literally had a long running evil campaign for 7-10 players where we all know that the orc barbarian and the human wizard are going to fight. After a few sessions when the situation was ideal and one jumped the other we sat back, watched the fight and everyone had fun placing bets. When one of them was dead they shook hands and the vanquished moved to a side table to begin drafting a new character.

Bad guys draw power from all manner of dubious sources, pacts with demons, terrible dragons, cursed items etc. Use this to your advantage. As the DM you are that terrible dragon, and if your players can't handle being evil like adults then be the angry dragon and punish them like children! There is always a learning curve when a group starts playing in a new style for the first time, and as the DM you need to lay down your expectations with the same fervor that they are trying to take to it.

The problem with being the villain is that it entails doing something villainous. This is something you need to do to someone, and the other players in the group make juicy targets. You need to make other aspects of the game seem juicier. This doesn't mean a valley of peaceful unicorns for them to slaughter so much as it means someone for them to gain power/control over. I have found that this type of thing works best when the PC's start out as elites under a more powerful figure. Having plenty of other NPCs of their power level to interact with and screw over really helps to steer things away from pissing each other off. And having a terrifying boss to keep them in line forces them to work together until they actually want to.

Present them with things they know they are going to regret, but won't be able to help but doing anyways. Giving the party the Monkey's Paw basically says "ok guys, here's five wishes. EACH.", "but if you use them it will be terrible and you will regret it." Now, you as a DM need to be aware that they are most definitely going to use them, but who uses them first and which player the rest of the party is actually afraid of getting the 'Paw will surprise you. As the party begins to learn that as they become more free to do the things their cruel hearts desire, so to will the consequences of these things become more severe. Eventually you will reach a point where the players are making these decisions not to hurt each other, but to invite your retribution onto themselves, because they know they deserve it and it will make for fun story. The best evil campaigns are the ones where the players hate their characters (but still love playing them) and steer them towards ruin because it's what they deserve. The best evil campaigns drive themselves.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

The elemental is exactly the entry listed in the Bestiary, unless otherwise noted, so however many HD it has in the entry is how many HD your elemental has

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

What you really need to do here is look at whether or not this is practical in a game sense. The obvious intent here is to jack up your AC, which assumes that you're either gonna be the party tank, or that everyone is similarly armoured. Once you factor in the extra enhancement bonuses on this second shield, plus the additional AC tricks you're probably using like barkskin or expertise, and you've quickly got a guy the monsters just can't hit without a critical. At this point one of two things happens:

1. The DM pumps up the monsters so they once again have a chance at hitting you, and since they are so pumped up, those hits are gonna hurt a lot more. With an AC so much higher than the rest of your party any monster who has even a chance to hit you is pretty much guaranteed to hit your friends, which sucks for them because I bet they can't take a hit like you can.

2. The monsters can't hit you, and without the satisfaction of drawing your blood and the promise that they could kill you they are going to stop fighting you all together and move on to a softer/ juicier target. Now you're playing the tank the monsters are actively avoiding, and rather than being the one who's supposed to be tying them up, you become the awkward, heavily armoured goon clanging along behind a combat which has moved away from you, trying to get their attention.

This isn't really a question of if it's technically possible or physically practical. It's more a matter of what this does to the game and how it forces DM's to react to players that are too hard to hit.

Meat shields are only effective because of the meat involved, once you're just a shield hungry monsters lose interest

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

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What I always find helpful when designing a dungeon is working out some kind of history to help guide/justify your choices. How old is this ruin, how recently has it been opened? Why was it empty? Was it abandoned or intentionally left behind? Was everyone inside slain? Why was it sealed? Is it a prison, or did some calamity or collapse close it's doors. What was the ruin used for when it was new? Did people live here? or worship here? Is it still in good repair, or are the tunnels starting to crumble? Is collapse and issue the players should be worried about? What about this artifact, what is it and why is it significant? Was it lost or left behind? Is something guarding it, like a monster or construct or something. Or maybe a Last Crusade style ghost-knight hanging out in there with a bunch of tests and what all waiting to determine the worthiness of whoever comes for it. Have others come for this artifact before? What happened to them? These are all things that can help define what would make sense to be in here

Anything that is unoccupied for a time invariably attracts vermin. Vermin is a nice category of monsters since they cover a good CR range even before you start tweaking them with templates. Depending on how powerful your group is you might be talking about a few small spiders, or gigantic centipedes who fill entire corridors.

Oozes are also great for lost dungeons, since they'll just sit in there, eating bugs until something softer/tastier wanders in.

Naturally the undead also belong in forgotten dungeons, but you can go with a fun dwarfy theme here, like skeletal arms swinging floating axes, or skeletons with flaming beards.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

also, consider that using this earthglide tactic is going to prohibit the elemental from wearing armour or wielding a weapon, since those things wouldn't "glide" with him. It's kinda one or the other.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

I'm running an alchemist right now who is doing a similar thing, and my DM and I have found what is a pretty good solution.

I'm making what we're calling the Big Bertha, a steel-banded barrel loaded with 20 alchemist fires. Theoretically the explosion can throw the flasks into an adjacent square before they go off, but its wildly unpredictable.

I've made up a chart of some graph paper mapping out four possible explosion areas, ranging from 20 flasks to a single square and a heavy splash all the way up to one flask to every square in a 15' burst (with the middle square left out) and a minimal splash. It was a bit of work to map the initial blast areas, but now we have a nicely organized sheet detailing what happens to each affected square including reflex-for-half DC's and catching on fire DC's, under the pretense that rather than making a dozen low-DC checks you'd simply make one higher DC check.

When I set the thing off (which usually involves shooting it from a safe distance) I roll a D4, using the four possible blast areas as a random table. If I happened to do a particularly good job crafting the thing then I can roll a D3 and ignore either the biggest or smallest blast area. It's always fun to set off a 'Bertha, but it's not exactly efficient. The damage/gold ratio is certainly not as good as AoE magic, but then, it's not magic so perhaps that's a bit of an edge.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

I am currently playing a heavy alchemist like this as well. While barbarian is great for the boost you get form rage, consider mixing some fighter in for the bonus feats. Having ready access to feats like combat expertise has saved my hide more than once. I ended up stalling his alchemist progression by a level so he gets feat and discovery at the same time, and with my most recent level gave him a pair of extra arms. Now i'm TWF with two hands on each attack. It starts to add up with power attack and a beefed up str real fast.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

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This is Fun!!!

I would structure this as an organized competition with a round-robin or double-elimination style advancement bracket. A single encounter about wrestling a muddy hog is going to result in the players simply attempting grapples until they succeed because that what they'll think they need to do. If there are multiple rounds they will have an opportunity to see how other competitors attempt the task.

Naturally you won't want to run a session where you are just narrating a bunch of NPC's grabbing dirty pigs, but having a few other competitors who are using different tactics might inspire your players to try new things.

Consider using intimidate to frighten the pig into suffering a CMD penalty, or driving the pig into some deeper mud where it'll have a harder time trying to get away. Maybe trying to grab the pig a certain way allows for better leverage. Grabbing the pig by the ears might cause the pig to struggle less because having some drunken farmer grab your ears hurts. Grabbing his tail might let you get dragged around by the pig and tire the thing out. Grabbing his leg and letting him struggle to get away and then tactically letting him go and trying again might result in a pig whose legs are worn out and is now slower. Players should be encouraged to use their skills in clever ways for small bonuses, maybe slight of hand or bluff allows you to jump the pig by surprise. Knowledge (nature) or handle animal will probably provide insight into how to approach the pig or what part of it to try and grab. Sense motive to determine which direction the pig will try and run.

If there are enough competitors it will behoove the organizers to have several pigs as well. Different pigs may have slightly different stats, weaknesses or habits.
-This pig will charge you and deal 1D3 non-lethal
-This pig has a hairy butt and is easier to grab from behind
-This pig has stumpy legs and will get stuck in deep mud
-This pig is timid and will run when you get within 15 feet
-This pig is blessed, literally
Different pigs will succumb to different tactics and the players will be rewarded by leaning them

Since this is essentially a mini-game, try changing up other aspects of the game to make things seem more significant or interesting. Change the scale of the "combat area" to 3' squares rather than 5', and require DEX or acrobatics checks to move more than half your speed. Change the combat order so its more than "my turn", "your turn" style combat. The more different skills you can bring into the process the more you can expect your players to try different things.

Try this:
3' squares, players move half speed (typically 15'/5 squares). Movement is spent 1 square at a time, if more than 5 squares are covered the player sacrifices his (standard) action and makes a double move, or attempts dex/acro checks to move faster/farther. Unlike typical combat, the facing of "combatants" is important

A turn might look like this:
-Player starts by using any amount of this available movement to approach/circle the pig.
-During this move he/she may attempt a single skill check to gain an advantage over the pig, or to force the pig to move.
-The player makes a sense motive check to determine what the pig will do when attacked
ROLL INITIATIVE (if sense motive was very high maybe there's a bonus)
-any remaining movement is spent to lunge at the pig (dex/acro for extra movement), if the player won initiative their movement occurs before the pig has a chance to react and they may attack/grapple normally. If the pig won initiative it readies an action to run away if approached and thus its movement is simultaneous with the lunge from the player. This is where the sense motive really comes in, if it was successful the player has lunged in the correct direction and still has a change to grab the pig (though probably at a penalty), otherwise the pig squirms out of the way and the player gets a face full of mud (or more likely manure).
-if an attack is not made the player may move again/make a skill check as above. Some checks like determining a weakness or habit won't need to be renewed, while others like bluff/stealth for an advantageous position, or intimidate to make the pig run must be attempted again if their bonuses are to be kept
-repeat every round
-anyone who takes a full round action in the mud must make checks vs fatigue (players with endurance get a bonus), but since the pig will generally only take a single move to get away players must force the pig to double move or escape grapple for the pig to tire. Deeper areas of mud might increase this check, or even force escape checks. Fatigue here might mean lesser penalties (like -1 on str based checks, or -1 move) so that a single failure doesn't knock the player out of contention, but rather the fatigue will stack up until the penalties become to much. Making skill checks do not count as taking action for this purpose unless those checks require movement, so a player may move two squares, intimidate, move two more squares (for a total of only 4 out of 5 square single move), and intimidate again without getting tired out by the mud.
-you may also consider saves vs sickened for a mouth full of pig poop.

You can make this process even more interesting by adding some racially significant options, dwarves aren't slowed by the mud, halflings and gnomes may attempt ride checks, elves get a bonus to try and move faster in the mud etc.

Furthermore, if each round is against not only the pig, but also another competitor rather than a timed event there can be even more complication. Competitors can take action against each other, or lay in wait for their opponent to scare the pig to them. Randomly determined brackets can see players facing off against each other, or against a local NPC rival.

There is also the behind the scenes actions to consider. Judges can be bribed, competitors can get drugged, spells can be secretly cast, someone went and put a rage potion into the slop trough of pig #3!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

Ha ha! Sean,I love it when you drop a no nonsense response to things.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

look at the wording for the increasing penalty associated with power-attack or combat-expertise etc.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

I think it would be great to have some auto-reject options here, like check boxes or something under each item. We've all been seeing a lot of spell-in-a-can items, or not-really-a-wondrous-item items etc. I understand that items severely auto-rejectable will inherently be pushed to the bottom of the pile, but a feature like this will also serve to allow the judges to evaluate our ability to judge these items, and thus help them to maximize our input.

If a voter clearly has no idea about auto-reject items maybe they only get yes/no privileges next year. Conversely, if a voter has a demonstrates a discerning eye for what makes a good item perhaps they warrant golden-ticket/lead-balloon privileges next year, or even "guest judge" in further rounds.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

You might be right about this Jacob. While it may not be grounds for dis-Q I'd certainly avoid it, even if just to avoid tipping my hat.

Also, thanks for clarifying that there should be no commenting on your own entries at all. I know I certainly missed this, as a veteran I guess I just assumed things were as the always were.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

I'm in for the third year now, obviously didn't make the cut last year :P
Had a great time in the ring in 2011 and am hoping to make the cut again this year.

Best of luck to everyone this year and it's always great to see you newbs getting in gear and giving RPGSS a go.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

Zelkon wrote:
Is round 2 anonymous? Or can we reveal what we'd submit (like, "I'll be making an alchemist archetype," not "I'm making an alchemist archetype which replaces bomb and replaces it with *this*) should we make it to round 2?

No. Revealing what your making, and especially posting about it may be grounds for disqualification. The judges are pretty hard-line about this. I'm sure you can make your intentions seem more like some kind of "hypothetical" intent, but its risky territory none the less.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

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This seems to be an issue of demon vs devil.

A devil is concerned with the collection of souls,
A devil would see fit to mark the recipient of the wish with horns or evil looking features
A devil wants him to get what he deserves

A Glabrezu is a demon
the demon does not care about punishment
the demon exists to consume, to destroy

To a devil a wish is a means of securing a soul, and thereby status, power

To a demon a wish is simply permission to ruin stuff, as much stuff as possible.

This is an opportunity to spread the pain not just punish the character. There is a dying curse on this thing, shape the world dude, shape the world.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

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I like the idea that this CON bonus comes from somewhere sinister. To my understanding a Glabrezu's wish usually comes about in the most destructive way possible, destructive not only to the PC, but to those around/close to them. This is a great opportunity to derail the story a little bit. Maybe the seemingly slain Glabrezu is somehow attached to its killer (possessing even, and providing a boon to CON).

Or try this on for size (provided it fits or course). Even being CN, the character can easily still have strong ties to family. This CON bonus is drawn from the health of his entire bloodline, sort of a focusing of his being if you will. With the grantor of this wish now slain this focusing is becoming uninhibited. Make his wish progressively, lots better. Every time he successfully saves against disease he gains temporary hit points, when he resists drain he gets a profane CON bonus, etc. All the while he is unknowingly drawing this resilience from his family (or obviously drawing it from nearby living things). Perhaps a new disease crops up in people he doesn't even know he is distantly related to. Every time he thrives, every time his fortitude saves him, whenever he succeeds at "being healthy" others suffer, many others. And its all. His. Fault.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

perfect thanks!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

Doesn't really need to be hair either. It's easy enough to have the PC's jumped by some goons who seem "overwhelmed" and scatter in all directions. In a relatively short encounter goons can get blood/skin/hair and then run as soon as the players start dropping them.

Any NPC with the resources to scry and marshal underlings against the party should be able to use more mundane means of learning about the party as well. In this way you can justify targeting the characters likely to fail their save and engineer some situations where your attempts are less likely to be noticed. Maybe some goons accost the party in the market at a time they know the boss will be watching, just a way of keeping the groups attention away from the real action.

I guess this really depends on your end-game.

If the intent here is for the group to have a very hard time with a well prepared boss, and later to find "Oh! No wonder he seemed to know everything about us". Then you want to make as much go in your favor as possible, just be wary of players who will complain that the never got a opportunity to prevent this. I don't know your group, so this may not be an issue, but a well prepared villain like this will probably have plenty of notes and plans around after he is defeated to illustrate the lengths he went to to keep his actions hidden.

On the other hand, if the intent is for the group to be lead towards this opponent because they catch on that he is watching them, then it's an entirely different matter. Opportunities to catch on should be many, and easy enough that a string of bad saves will not delay the story for long. This is a nice opportunity to build some tension. If you just come out and say, "yep, you're being scryed.", you're giving in too easily and cheapening the victory. Cultivate the feeling that they are being watched, have low level underlings who seem to know way more about the PC's than they should, give them reason to be concerned, make their enemies foreknowledge a growing inconvenience for them. Just like a villain should be using mundane means to make his scrying attempts as ideal as possible, PC suspicion should start with the mundane too. As they become more aware of how their situation is being manipulated, detecting the scrying should be easier

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

I've often considered ruling any of the planetouched races more like templates than races unto themselves. I know this goes in the face of Advanced Races, but it seems a lot more rational to me. Dwarven oreads and goblinoid ifrits make perfect sense to me. The trouble here lies in addressing all the fringe cases. This is definitely DM's discretion.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

I'm currently running a fighter/alchemist who is making enough use of TWF/shield bash to make spending some feats worth while. I feel like I'm half remembering a feat which I now cannot find anywhere, perhaps I'm imagining.

The feat is something to the effect of allowing you to use the shields armor enhancement as it's weapon enhancement. I feel like it require improved bash and probably mastery and what all. Unfortunately I'm at such a loss to find it anywhere that now I just feel like I'm going crazy!

Am I?

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

Thematically I think these are pretty cool, but functionally I agree with the bulk of the judges. This item seems to do little more than make adventuring less adventurous.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

cool, thanks. I mostly wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something. How much snow did you guys get down there? I'm in Ottawa (where it snows for real), so I may laugh at your "predicament" a little and would like to apologize in advance.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

does it seem odd to anyone else that on Dec 29th we were told we should be getting the round 2 template "sometime next week?"

am i missing something? is my computer busted? are you all conspiring against me?


RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

I have a few monster ideas kicking around as well, but am staying well clear of any specifics. As for an encounter, I'm not even considering it. It will almost certainly need to include one of the monsters from round three. Sure, you can come up with some encounter concepts now and make it work later but there's a huge risk there. If you write like I do, you end up really digging what you made, then, when you need to change it to fit the round you end up leaving all these shoehorn marks on it from where you had to jam it into conformity. Not worth it. The monsters created are pretty much guaranteed to give me some kind of inspiration, and even if their use is not requires, the judges usually applaud their use. Not saying I will definitely use one if I don't have to, but either way, it's a long way off, you're time will be better spent polishing your round 2 and three. Trust me, do your write up, then, a day or so later, do it again without looking at the first one, even if the two are only marginally different you will see where one is better, and it's almost never exclusively one over the other.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

Naw, they did pictures last year (though for monsters is does set up a bit of a different angle). No, no, the twist will be something like use only universal monster rules, or the entire entry must be a palindrome. There will be a CR restriction, or must incorporate a template somehow, or be a playable race, or must be a variant on some obscure subtype. It must be subject to some manner of dietary restriction, yeah that's it! And must be made of cloth

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

I'm prepping round 2 under the pretense that previous second rounds haven't had a twist. I know, dangerous territory, but I think I have enough solid concepts to wiggle my way around an upcoming twist.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

Good luck everyone, it's an awesome ride!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

Anthony Adam wrote:

Here's a scary thought.

The competition has run for 5 years now, and with all the advice and coaching

a) we have all gotten much better
b) the keep pile is getting way bigger year on year

Possible result

Next year an additional round is added, so the judges can start with Top 64 and have both Villains and Monster rounds available :D

I often wonder how many entries there are for round 1 each year, was this info released last year?

Also,I like the idea of a top 64, more rounds, more twists more mayhem! But alas, there may be only so much judging the judges are willing/have time to do.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

scm wrote:
Something about getting feedback if you dont make top 32

I expect (as in previous years) someone will start a "why didn't I make it?" thread, wherein non-32ers can post their items and the judges can provide their thoughts. This of course is not guaranteed, the judges are busy with future rounds and can only do so much, but being ultimately benevolent gods, they do try and help us out.

And of course you can always turn to other contestants and spectators, many of who also provide excellent feedback.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

Judges also tend to look at the user appeal of an item. If the check is discouraging or carries a high probability of failure then even PC's in the target market are going to be turned off and shop somewhere else. If the risk of the item prevents its purchase then it's not worth printing, which is ultimately what the judges are looking for.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

FallofCamelot wrote:

The question should be something more like "why are the two biggest boy scouts in the DCU fighting each other?"

They are fighting each other because Captain Marvel is really just a 12 year old boy, and throws temper tantrums and is easy to manipulate. I also can't count the number of times that Superman has been subverted or eclipsed, or poison-ivy'd, or mind controlled, or some-kryptonite-nonsense. Getting them to fight is easy.

And the winner is Captain Marvel, his powers are fueled by magic, to which Superman has a terrible weakness.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

For those of you out there (me included) looking to throw your hat in next year, I'd be prepared for an even more rules intensive competition next year. If this year showed us anything its that the guys structuring the contest are full of clever ideas to squeeze the best from the contestants. Trying to plan more than a round and a half ahead, and selling yourself on a great idea, could ruin you.

Play and DM lots, it's the only way to find what the game needs, because that's what will make you win, "bringing what the game needs". Familiarize yourself with corner cases of the rules, exploit and address loop-holes where you find them.

And try to see the game as a larger web or rules, which all react when a player tugs on them. Even when you are on the player side of the table. When you're gaming, and house rules come into play, think about how these changes affect even the more distant parts of the game.

Even if it runs counter to you gaming ethic; munchkin. At least once, play a character or design an NPC which takes advantage of the rules. Learn how the abuse the rules so you'll be able to foresee how others will do the same. It doesn't matter if you intend rules to be used only in a specific way, once they are printed the will be abused by someone. Any new rules you present must be highly resistant, if not immune, to game-breaking abuse. So get to know what it takes to break the game, and figure out a fair and fun way to get around it.

But most of all, just try it. Even if you don't make it, or make a huge blunder part way through, this is an opportunity to see the bare bones of the game. This is where dozens, if not hundreds, if great ideas on game theory and application come together to define and evolve the game we all love. It great to learn from, great to help decide, but mostly it great to be a part of. I was a side-liner last year, and have gained so much more from the competition having participated. So if your thinking you've got good ideas, lets see them!

Congratulations Sam on a job well done!

And good luck for next year everyone who's thinking of entering.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

In my home campaign sometimes the looting gets forgotten. Granted its a big party (11 active players) and when they all show up there is often a rush to get onto the next thing. I use a lot of monsters that don't have treasure, or keep it elsewhere so if the want if they gotta look. I think you also reach a critical point where you don't want to keep track of everything. Sure if the orcs all have +1 hand axes cool, but no one in the party cares to run the math on selling 50 mundane items when there's other stuff to do.

One thing they never forget to do is roll each other when one of them gets killed. With 11 PC's, who are always splitting up and getting into fights with each other there seems to be a player kill every two or three sessions, and no one really cares to be raised because they all have other ideas for "when I die", so the loot of a fallen PC really outstrips the loot of a couple of monsters. Everyone seems to invested in their own thing.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

I DM far more than I play, so when I do play I tend to internally rules-lawyer all the time. Internally is the key here. Being a much more avid DM than a player I'm aware of how often I bend or ignore certain rules to keep things moving along, or the make an encounter the challenge i intended rather than the challenge it's turning out to be.
If you haven't DM'd before, you really should, anyone who thinks they have the right to rules-lawyer should. I can't say specifically how or when you should be lawyering because I don't know the specifics of your situation, but in my experience veteran DMs can play pretty fast and loose with the rules because its the intent of the encounter, the DM has certain things he wants to accomplish with it, certain thoughts or feelings he wants to instill in his players. If the PC's come along with scene breaking spells and abilities he wasn't prepared for, sometimes he has to change the lighting a little and make the scene come together the way he intended, even though the players are equipped beyond his expectations. A canny DM can accomplish this by quietly hacking a monsters feats/spells/hp to keep them competitive within the confines of the encounter. A clumsier DM may show his hand a little and sometimes you just have to swallow it because the scene is more important than any one of the players. This is not to excuse DM favouritism or repeated mid-session rules hacking, and if these things are becoming an issue you need to discuss them after the session is over. The best way to get through to a stubborn DM is to address the subject as passively as possible. "How can I get you to stop nerfing me?" will likely see less change than "I would like to look over my character with you and discuss how we can avoid mid-session interruptions and keep the action moving, how can I make character choices that will work with your story?". I'm sure your DM likes stopping play to rule-hack just as little as you do. Discuss your plans with him, make his input part of your future plans. As a DM I love having players whose wants I can anticipate, it makes writing my story much easier because I know they're going to want to be involved and I don't have to worry about railroading them into something. Sometime I have to say things like "that's not really going to work with what I have planned", "you're probably not going to have much opportunity to use that ability" or "it would make more sense and fit the story better if you made a choice like this."
You may have awesome character ideas, and he may have awesome story ideas, so there no reason you can't collaborate on an awesome character that fits into an awesome story.
Sometimes the draw to rules-lawyer is strong, so give yourself an outlet. If there is a rookie player in to group, become his rules-lawyer. Help him out finding things on his sheet, making informed decisions about his advancement when he levels, provide input for his tactical movement. Many small things, like when you can 5-foot step or what type of things provoke AoO sometimes slip between the cracks, and this is where you can bring some consistency and informed tactical decisions to your group. Your DM is much less likely to come down on you for lawyering if you are helping others with little things than if you appear to be attacking him for your benefit. If you can be a beneficial rules-lawyer he may even come to rely on you, but if you are in constant opposition to him you'll never get anywhere.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

I must confess that I am not a buyer of published GMing material, but I run for a very large group which can be hard to satisfy with a scripted adventure, so this may make my input somewhat less valid from the GM side of the coin. I'm into writing elaborate world changing stories which pan out over years, so a module will never really do it for me. Though I have been thinking long and hard about running some lower key stuff once my current campaign is off the table, at which point I'll invariably want to run the strangest, most fringe stuff available, owing to my players love for exploring new and complex character concepts.

As a player I have played in a few scripted campaigns and have come to a pretty unanimous conclusion; our group of players is game-breaking. To be fair I have only played in non-paizo adventures (Expedition to the Demonweb, and Savage Tide), so I'm not sure how the written PFR stuff compares. In Demonweb, by the time we got to the final encounter (a council of aspect demon lords or their representatives) we were so tooled up that we didn't even break pace, just marched across the room. The game intends for the party to sneak and pick their way across the room to confront Lolth, but we just up and killed everything. I (elf ranger, mounted, longbow) dealt more than 1000 damage crossing the room, and another player (fey-touched sorcerer) turned out to be immune to every spell that the aspect of Lolth had prepared. Now some of this, I'm sure, is due to an inherent amount of munchkinism present in many expert players, but sometimes players just make choices which are accidentally game breaking.

I think the more vanilla a printed offering is, the more susceptible it is to this kind of break. As both a GM and player who runs into (or causes) this effect nearly every time I play, I find that I'm drawn to the more fringe stuff because players are more likely to embrace the difference in the story, rather than trying to engineer "different" with their characters and actions. There's not so much "look what I can do!" when the story itself has the player off balance, and that's important to me.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

You have some really cool and thematic ideas here, and you clearly have a knack for creative and new concepts. I like how each location if a little world unto itself, and that the monsters there seem to fit with what's going on in that particular location.
That said, I had a great deal of trouble trying to reconcile the thematic elements you were trying to pull together here. I like the idea of a rundown fairground with creepy carnival stuff going on, and I'm a big fan of Alkenstar and of steampunk in general. To say that I'm a Lovecraftian devotee may just be the understatement of the century, if it's got tentacles, or makes you crazy I'm in. Creepy steampunk carnival works just fine, but lovecraftian carnival, or steam lovecraft are a very tough sell for me. Lovecraftian horror is all about being gloomy and foreboding, about learning things that ruin your mind because they don't conform to the way the world functions. Carnival, even a creepy one is just too tension breaking to support the lovecraftian style. Steampunk is about science and understanding, you may not understand it but someone does, lovecraft is all about things that no one understands because no one can, to me it's sort of anti-science.
Your individual elements are great, and I really love sandbox and player driven stories, but when they come together I just can't see it as a single compelling story or location.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

This is quite well done. I do find the title to be lacking, kind of makes me think of failure right off the bat. Beyond that it seems quite well thought out. I would gladly play or run this adventure. There does seem to be a lot going on here though, and you might be hard pressed to cram it all in to 32 pages. That said, your writing is beautiful, fluid, evocative and efficient and if you can maintain this standard or writing it will go a long way to fitting everything in.

I really like the atmosphere of fear you've managed to cultivate here, your imagery is excellent. While some may say this is a little too much for a 4th level adventure, I think it's just fine. Some tweeking of the size of the town and maybe the title (baron is rather prestigious), and this should be relatively easy to adjust to a 4th level feel.

It is very likely you will get my vote.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

I think your descriptive powers are excellent, you paint a hideous greasy picture. This has a very strong Netheril/City of Shade feel to it from the Forgotten Realms, and it think the y only thing that keeps it from being a clear rip off is that the city is so decrepit and degenerate. The ancient flying cities of Shory are already heavily Netherese so I guess any treatment of them can't help but be compared. I think you did a good job of owning this idea by twisting the elements from what we might expect from a returned high magic society.

I also think you did a fine job of scaling down the threat to a low level adventure, though I can certainly see where this is a stretch. Degenerate or no this does strain my suspension of disbelief quite a bit. I'm not saying that this is inappropriate for this power level, but I am saying that this treatments seems to imply a degree of supplementary explanation that simply won't fit within the module. Regardless of how reduces the inhabitants of this city are, a floating city appearing in the skies is bound to draw all sorts of attention. Where are all the high level wizards teleporting from all corners of the world to investigate? They certainly won't miss a chance like this to explore a Shory city, especially if the most resistance they re going to find is a 6th level barbarian. You've included no mechanic here to keep this high-level NPC's away despite the fact that they are bound to want to investigate. Also, if Paizo prints this, then the return of the city become cannon. This then means that they will be obligated to address all of the issues that you didn't have space for in the module. This event will have happened in the Golarion Political landscape, and will certainly have vast repercussions.

I think this idea works nicely in a vacuum, but in a larger setting which is striving for verisimilitude it opens an exponentially larger can of worms. Shory artifacts are great, they add a sense of mystery and wonder, they pose more questions than they answer. An actual Shory city practically screams that there need to be answers here, "and we're gonna stay until we find 'em".

If the adventure goes off as planned, and the PCs send the city back to its home plane before the higher level wizards can get there to investigate, I think it makes for the start of a great campaign. The PCs will become favoured guests of powerful wizards who want to learn of their adventure. Other less scrupulous wizards will seek them out to pry their secrets from their minds be force. The party will become famous, and infamous and will come to enjoy privilege beyond their rank and status. It would be a really fin game, and I would love to both play and run it, but it's a home campaign. To me it seems far to grand in scope for a published produce, even a higher level one.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

Congratz on making the final four! Let's dig in.

First off, the title doesn't really grab me, though it doesn't really offend me either. It's a title, neither great nor horrible.

I haven't really looked into a lot of existing modules, but from what I've seen they seem to use the medium XP advancement, and to indicate that this uses the fast XP and still only results in one level makes me worry that I'm not getting much bang for my buck.

You also seem to be making some writing errors and some leaps may be mistakes, or may be you not seeing what others see because you already know what to expect. For example, in your overview of the town of Logas you repeatedly refer to it as Isger. Also, you reference a slain Asmodean Priestess, and later refer to a slain character by name, but if is not until several such references that I came to realize that they were the same person. Any opportunity for confusion is an opportunity to loose your reader.

On to content: I found my self repeatedly thinking "I wish there were more detail on this", which I'm sure would come in a finished product and needed to get clipped for space, but at the same time leaves too many question marks for me to confidently back the story. I think the core concept is solid here, I like the idea behind the boss monster and the backdrop of the burnt out old house, it's all very creepy. Unfortunately, you seemed to fall short on showing us how your adventure would handle errant PCs, which simultaneously giving as a story with a huge potential for getting off track.
First off I think you painted the church of Asmodeus as far too friendly and approachable. Most good PC's (especially paladins and good clerics) would abhor the idea of helping the church of hell, and to throw them in an adventure where doing just that is the right thing to do, albeit for entirely different reasons should lead to a crisis of faith that goes completely unaddressed here. If the church were more menacing, and the PC's had to grudgingly go there for information this would not be a problem, but you have the devil church presented like every other friendly church in every other adventure. It's a huge waste of potential and causes major problems for many adventuring parties.
The whole investigation thing is hard to pull off. I think there needs to be a lot of hidden railroading to keep the PCs on track, and even more to make them think that the solution is their idea, and not just something that fell, unfulfillingly, into their laps. While these elements may be present in the final product, and whether you have them in mind, it's immaterial is you don't show us here that you can keep us on track, and you didn't.
Most of this proposal focuses on the children side of the story, while the adult side seems to be very under emphasized. This is not strictly a bad thing, but given the child-centric angle you seem to be taking here I was really hoping for more of a Lord of the Flies, Children of the Corn, Village of the Damned sort of feeling, and you didn't really capitalize on it.

You've got a ton of great creepy here, but I think you spent too much effort on things that could have come later (like the rhyme), and not enough time generating the atmosphere you were hinting at.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

Exciting stuff guys, I'm really looking forward to it all. I gotta say, when I dropped out of the running my free-time resulted in an explosion of advancements in my other RP projects. My home campaign started writing itself, my new setting ideas finally put themselves on paper, my quality of artwork shot up. It's been an awesome experience, I still seem to be creatively firing on all cylinders and am reaping huge rewards because of it.

I'm a little bummed that you guys won't be seeing my adventure proposal, though I guess there's no harm in detailing it after voting. I had most of it cued up for 10th level-ish, so the 4th level cap would have been a bit of a curve ball, but would really only take the big-flash out of the story. I definitely intend on writing it, if only for my own enjoyment, and perhaps I'll outline it for you guys, since I'll probably have another idea that I'm in love with in the event that I'm in for next year. We shall see.

Best of luck to you four who are still in! We're all expecting great things, and you have yet to disappoint.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

Tikael wrote:
Nick Bolhuis wrote:
Haddon goes for the bucket controls, but there are no details about them. Does using them require a skill check? Assuming their use to be a full round action, what manner of actions does the bucket take, a move and a standard (to dump)? How fast does the bucket move? What damage does it do? Does it only target the square below it, or is there splash? When does the bucket need to refill? Does Haddon have any manner of cover or concealment when at the controls?
Um, check the hazards section. All of that information is in there. Also, I cannot think of a single Paizo campaign where enemy locations have been called out on the map.

My bad, I guess I glossed over this, sorry for being a dink.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

An adventure for 4th level party should be a lot of fun. There are so many great low CR creatures I'm almost sorry my group is pushing 10th level now. I'd love to write something low-rent like this, and maybe next year I'll have a chance. I both envy and pity you top four (all of who got my votes by the way) as you seem to be la-creme this year, and will likely all provide deserving entries.

4th level is an interesting time in a PC's life, they're starting to become confident in their roles. Eagerly awaiting the day when they can cast fireball and fly, yet still soft enough that a moderate fall could kill them. It's a time of terror and hope for them, I expect you to show them both of these things.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

Great work guys! I think that you top four have been consistently the strongest throughout the competition this year. i'm really looking forward to seeing the adventures you four come up with.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

Eric Hindley wrote:

Cody Coffelt — The Broken Crucible Foundry

Jerall Toi — The Old Cassomir Dollhouse
Sean McGowan — The Rotting Kremlin
Sam Zeitlin - The Black Mirror


Not strictly in this order, but theses are may picks too. Also, these votes are based on R4 only, and not taking body of work into consideration.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

Hoarfrost certainly seems popular this round.

Your background for the location is nice, and I really like the history involving the massacre of a tribe at the hands of the white witches. Unfortunately, your background seems to be the only thing here that really pops.

I've gotta level with you, I find your map to be a little uninspired. Perhaps this is a reflection of an uninteresting location, a featureless icy chasm is difficult to make into an interesting map. I also find that your details are hard to see (though this may be an issue I have with computer screens).

I feel like there were some disconnects between what seemed like good ideas for the encounter and what the PCs would actually do to avoid them. Endure elements a pretty standard low level spell for a group adventuring in the frozen parts of the world, so the exposure threat never really comes into play. You've got high wind and low visibility, and you have your big bad initiating combat at range? Seriously? You've set your scene in a super arctic setting, but are really only making use of one of the natural threats that occurs here; bad weather. Where's the avalanche? Where are the glacial chasms for the PCs to fall into and get wedged in the bottom? Where's the Yeti? There's a lot of missed opportunities here, and not enough other cool to make up for it.

I also feel like the bit with the tribal spirits is a bit trite, and also a huge burden to lay on the PCs. "Dear group of 10th level adventurers, please wipe out a super powerful government ruled by otherworldly spellcasters of epic might. Sincerely, some ghost who you didn't know was here."

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6

I really like this Sean, despite some initial reservations. However, before we get to the good we must first brave the bad!

I have a few issues with your map, some are nit-picky and some are rather serious.
Nit-pick; I don't like maps where north is not generally up. If its at an odd angle it doesn't bother me, but if it's a 90 degree rotation you could have just as easily rotated the image rather than the compass, especially with a square map. When I look at a location map I always compare it to where it first in the world map, and if I need to rotate one to make the other line up it irks me a little.
Another nit-pick; there is no location 8, which I presume to be a simple omission as I guess its the room just above location 7, but this does show a lack of care.
Serious; your map key references areas 11 and 16, which are clearly not here. This makes me feel like I'm missing something, which in turn makes me feel like I'm short an extra map or it makes me feel dumb, like I'm not seeing that others are. There is absolutely no need to include these numbers, if you simply say that the stairs go up to a second floor balcony and down to a basement it'd be fine. The assumption would be that they are not relevant to this map, and therefore I don't really need to worry about them. To number them make them seem critical to the location, especially when they are no the next numbers in sequence. I'm asking myself: "what are locations 10 12,13,14 and 15? How do I get to them? Why are they less important that areas 11 and 16?"
Serious; Some of the rooms (4 and 8) are completely devoid of detail. Some shelves and a trapdoor down to a cold cellar would drink the pantry to life, and a statue, some suits of armor or some tapestries would do the same for the entry hall. Right now these are just big open rooms, and that sort of kills my suspension of disbelief.
Also, putting Hoarfrost in the employ of this Ogre Lord seems incongruous, since it's not mentioned at all in his description. If you had hinted that this was a recent development, and that he was employed because of his track record at hunting adventurers I could buy it. But to have him be a fixture in this regime seems to throw out his m.o. of kidnapping children and maidens to draw adventurers out.

And now after that dissection: The Good

Your writing is beautiful, it has great flow and is very evocative. I really like the Bigger boss here. His concept is really solid, his sisters and his history fit so nicely together. Casting your selected villain in a secondary role was a huge risk, but I think you totally nailed it. It makes the potential story much bigger than would be possible were he the only villain here, and his flavor fits nicely with the regime you've created.
Your location is also tremendous. When I was considering my own options for this round I strongly considered using Hoarfrost, and hedge-maze jumped right out at me as the place to be. Glad to see someone else saw it too. While I agree that the maze seems very easy for PCs of this level to destroy, I think you used the trap laden maze concept very well. Your mechanic for splitting the party, as well as your means of allowing the monsters greater freedom than the PCs are very sound. I really like the image of the fountain and it's effects.
In all you really managed to cultivate a feel of dark fairy-tale with this location without fretting over mechanical execution. Hedge-mazes that spring into being, rooms that regenerate when their Lord is present, it's all very cool.

You've got my vote. Best of luck !

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