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Seth White's page

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32. Goblin Squad Member. Organized Play Member. 194 posts (304 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 Organized Play character. 2 aliases.


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Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Oh nice. I like the beanstalk. So are the plant creatures pod people? :)

Also a shark jaw portal is pretty awesome. Thats why you should pick up hirelings--so you're not the first one through the shark jaw portal.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

SmiloDan wrote:

Seth White: that sounds awesome!!!

The storm under the city in the clouds is going to be "thick" enough for aquatic creatures to swim through, so the upper surface of the storm seen from the city will occasionally reveal the tentacles of donnerkraken, schools of flying fish, and cabals of ixitxachitl.

Oh very nice! Interesting mix of both water and air. Your campaign world sounds really amazing. I really like that description of the storm cloud. And sorry, but I just can't help but promote an interesting way for the PCs to explore the depths of that storm.

Your races sound very thematic, though I wonder how the plant creatures would work? Are there hanging gardens, or some kind of sea algae? I'm not picturing traditional forests in the world you described, unless you're talking sargassum? Or are there other areas of the world that would have trees and such?

My plane sprang into being when the PCs explored the Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, and opened a hatch in the ceiling. In the original module, it was just a trap that caused a whirlwind, but didn't go anywhere. I couldn't have a hatch in a ceiling that didn't go anywhere. And it gave me a license to put some really out-there stuff in the world.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

I recommend the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion free PDF, and POD softcover for $10 at DriveThruRPG.

Or if you want to buy a whole hardcover, Princes of the Apocalypse does sound like it might be useful for you to mine for encounters and dungeons.

SmiloDan, your campaign sounds very, very interesting to me.

My players are currently in my reimagined version of the elemental plane of air. The plane is built of immense primordial elemental storms and their satellite cloud islands. Gravity is subjective, the wind is alive, and cloud-stuff is amorphous, semi-solid material (at times treated as vaporous rock, sand, mud, or quicksand — with time, you can fashion a castle in the clouds, but over time it will dissipate).

Spelljammer ships facilitate travel between the enormous storms. The PCs are currently in an escheresque floating djinn city in the eye of a godstorm. Subjective gravity makes for very interesting encounters, especially when the PCs haven't got much figured out yet ( also they know the land "beneath" the city is an enormous solid lightning storm, but they don't know it's alive yet).

For sourcebooks I'm primarily using the three 5e core books, Princes of the Apocalypse, and random 2e Planescape and Spelljammer stuff. I'm also drawing from some material from Beyond Countless Doors by Malhovic Press for 3e and Golden Hells and Shadow Planes by Kobold Press for PF, and converting on the fly as needed.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Dustin Ashe wrote:

I was under the impression that 5e Unearthed Arcana were not playtests. We've had, what?, half a dozen so far. And none of that material has been officially released in a product.

No guarantee of a release. I think they've said that for now they're only doing adventures.

Their model is to release an adventure path, and along with the AP, release a complementary rules book. The Elemental Evil Players Companion (free PDF at or low-price softcover at DrivethruRRPG) introduced aarakockra, genasi, goliaths, and deep gnome races, as well as new spells.

Psionics won't be incorporated in the new Rage of Demons module, but I won't be surprised if they're in the next one, or the one after (which I'm hoping will be Eberron)

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

I see what the OP is saying, but it seems more pedantic than practical.

The D&D 3x core rulebooks were not released under the OGL, true.

But the rules that were released in the OGL were highly compatible with most of the D&D 3.5 rules.

I think a main concern for those who want a 5e OGL is to avoid legal issues if they use new edition rules, concepts, or terminology in their new OGL games. For instance, Advantage/Disadvantage, Backgrounds, Short/Long Rest, Hit Dice healing, the Concentration mechanic, Strength Saving Throw (and other ability-related saving throws), Wisdom (Perception) check, Maneuvers, Channel Divinity, and other specific class-based terms and rules.

Some or all of these rules may be usable, but to those who aren't lawyers and who are risk-averse, it seems like dangerous territory.

I also think there are 3PP that want to maintain a good working relationship with WotC and the D&D community, and who want to avoid the perception of skirting the spirit of the OGL, not just the letter of the law. I think this is especially true of companies like Kobold Press, who created a D&D 5e licensed game and no doubt want the opportunity to get future licensed work. I'm sure Wolfgang would consider waiting to publish 5e content if he thought it would jeopardize working on actual licensed products that would sell better. Not to mention that most 3PP have a real love for the authentic D&D worlds and characters.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

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I think Pathfinder has forced WotC to get back in shape and work to make their game better. I think they took their best ideas from older editions, 4e, 3e, and Pathfinder, and even some indie games, and have made a game that is better than anything they have ever done since perhaps the first game that invented RPGs.

This is really great to me. In a perfect world, we would have two awesome game systems with two excellent design teams competing and driving the quality of the product up through competition.

I really love the art of Wayne Reynolds and the Pathfinder look, but I think the 5e PHB and MM are two of the most beautiful RPG books I've seen. The full-page art pieces in those books are so awesome, and there is so much good art. I think Paizo does an amazing job, but for me, the 5e books I have pull ahead.

I really like the new Advantage/Disadvantage mechanics. I like the simplicity of character creation. I like the overall streamlining of the system. I like the idea of the Inspiration/background rules, but I'm not 100% comfortable with them yet. I need to wait and see how much use they'll have in the game. I think the cantrips are good and I really like the spells leveling up at higher levels. I also like the ability score bonus/feat system, and how the feats are more unique and important.

I don't like the auto-healing overnight and I houseruled that away, but I'm ok with the Hit Dice/short rest mechanic. Beyond that, there isn't a lot that I prefer from Pathfinder over 5e. I think 5e has most of what I really liked about 3e/PF built into the system, and has trimmed away a lot of the stuff I don't think is important. I do like the extra race and class options of Pathfinder, but some of the newer stuff like modern weapons don't do anything for me.

I guess I'd rather play 5e right now than try and houserule 5e tweaks to the Pathfinder game. I think Pathfinder is a more complex game, and has a lot more tactical options. If anything, I might try and convert some homebrew Pathfinder class or race options over to 5e. And I'll definitely continue using Pathfinder's awesome adventure paths.

Basically there are light rules systems like the OSR/Old school style games, medium rules systems like D&D 5e, and complex rules systems like Pathfinder. I think each has its own play style. I think Mike Mearls did a really good job in finding a sweet spot for the new version of D&D, and I think this is going to end up being my default game. I'll still continue to buy Paizo accessories and adventures, but I don't know if I'll get any more of their rulebooks.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Chuck Wright wrote:

Preliminary spell list for the Book of Lost Spells and an interview with Ed Greenwood about 5E and his contribution to Quests of Doom!

Clicky Clicky for the updaties

I'm still hoping I can afford to buy all three print books, but if I can't scrape together the money will there be an option to buy pdfs of the other two books?

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

LordofMuck wrote:

Now i'm thinking hmm... if i get these new Necromancer 5th books, even if i don't like the actual 5th ed. D&D... hell at least the stat blocks looks totally compatible to C&C or any other retroclone (with ascending AC)

I'm converting my current S&W/Labyrinth Lord/LotFP Razor Coast/Red Tide (haha yeah I can't just leave well enough alone) game over to 5e using the free online D&D Basic pdf. There are a few differences of course (more hit points for PCs, slightly higher stat modifiers, etc). This new edition does remind me a lot of C&C, with a couple extra cool rules (I really dig the advantage/disadvantage rules).

I trust Necromancer to get that sweet old school feeling right. I just wish I had enough to get all three books. Maybe if I save my pennies I can get them all. I'm really, really hoping the spells book gets funded. I'm especially interested to see how they scale some of their spells for higher levels.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

thejeff wrote:

It's technically possible to have a system where more design options don't lead to more power, but it's very difficult to pull off and I've never actually seen it in practice.

Well I agree with you there. I think that's the case for every edition. Look at 1e Unearthed Arcana, 2e Skills and Powers, 3e Complete X, and the Pathfinder Advanced/Ultimate splatbooks. Not to mention 3rd party publishers.

It seems with rpg's (and especially with the OGL), there's no way to limit the potential options available. Some power creep always happens as more people publish more options.

But that doesn't mean Basic D&D 5e won't be a perfectly good, very playable game, even without using all the options. And playing a 5e basic rogue using nothing but the free pdf may just be similar to playing a PF rogue using nothing but the core rulebook.

There's nothing wrong with that approach at all, and sometimes it's a relief to not have to fiddle with rules from multiple books.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Tequila Sunrise wrote:

But it seems that 5e fans don't take house ruling any more lightly than other editions. :)

Well of course, the people at ENWorld tend to be some of the most vocal fans of the game. I think one thing that's interesting about 5e is how many different people, from OSR grognards to 4e anime fans are at least looking into the system.

Of course everything won't please everyone. There will be fans from each edition who will very vocally say that 5e is the worst thing ever, others will argue about playing 5e by RAW, plenty will like it ok as a 2nd or 3rd system, but not keep as their main system, and many will house-rule some of the rules they don't really care for.

But overall, I think D&D is doing everything right so far: an open playtest, re-releasing their old catalog as PDFs, reprinting the old 1e stuff, posting their design notes on their design blog and forum, and releasing the basic rules for free as a PDF.

The main missing piece to me is the Game License, but seeing 3rd party publishers tentatively embracing the new edition when they didn't with the last edition may be a good sign. Only time will tell if the legal department steps up like the design and development team has.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

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This makes me supremely happy.

I'm switching my current 0e Razor Coast/Red Tide game over to 5e, so it's super great to see the support from quality publishers like Frog God Games/Necromancer Games (which in my mind is a top 5 D&D Publisher, with obviously Paizo and WotC, and then Goodman Games and Lotfp rounding out the others).

Top-notch third-party support like this makes me FAR more likely to be content playing 5e, rather than bouncing around from system to system like I have been over the last 5 years or so.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Diffan wrote:

In short, many of the 4E-isms have remained but received a "old school" paint job and don't call out game-ist elements like "squares" or "Push, Pull, Slide". Additionally they went back to the older wording for things like adventuring day instead of Encounters.

Most of this I find pretty funny because if someone had just done with with 4E at the onset such as formatted the powers to look like 3.5 spells / Maneuvers ala Tome of Battle instead of the color-coded boxes, removed Squares with Feet, used more traditional / fluid terminology instead of gamer jargon, and made it more clear that powers were subject to DM adjudication then I think 4E would probably still be supported by the fanbase to this day.

It's quite funny to see many 4E-naysayers gush over how great WotC is for bringing D&D back when so many 4E elements have remained on the fundamental level.

I totally agree, and in fact if you look at Kobold Quarterly's 4e stuff, it has that feel. Just using a serif font and not putting the stats in a box makes it much more palatable to older D&D players.

And really, Pathfinder borrowed a lot from 4e too, but that didn't really upset people since they did it under the radar.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Chuck Wright wrote:

I, personally, feel that if they had put out 4E as any other game OTHER than the "New D&D" it would have been more successful. In fact, I think that they should take the rules and re-brand it as a Magic: The Gathering RPG.

My gut tells me that they learned a few lessons from their mistakes (the GSL, the PDF pulling, the marketing that many perceived to mock older editions of the game) and that the current game will last a good long time.

I hope so. I'm a huge fan of the open playtest, the D&D classics pdfs, the 1e reprints, and now the free Basic PDF. All of these are signs that they're listening totheir fans and that they carefirst and foremost about D&D as a brand that people have loved for 40 years.

There may besome mechanics I'll end up houseruling, just like every edition I've played (including 3.75), but overall I really like what I see. I justhope itwon't be too long of a wait for non FR setting material.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Great to see your campaign journal. I'm planning on doing the same thing -- mixing Skull & Shackles with Razor Coast. This is really useful; I don't think there's anything else out there with advice on how to do this.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

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Neil Spicer wrote:

Ah, yes. The email notification. That would be the official notice I initially missed during my year. With the main RPG Superstar page refusing to load because the website was so busy, I wound up visiting the DMTools chatroom and finding out I made the Top 32 when Liz greeted me with a hearty congratulations. From there, they encouraged me to check my email and there it was. The official notice.

My experience was kind of the opposite. I submitted and kind of forgot about it, thinking I didn't really have a chance. So I was very pleasantly surprised when I got a random email saying I made it in the top 32.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

This is awesome and my favorite item by far this year. Looking forward to seeing your future submissions.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Great work on the setting! I'm really enjoying the Kingdoms of Legend line, and incorporating a lot into my home game. It was a real honor to do the artwork, and I'm looking forward to seeing the book in print!

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Oceanshieldwolf wrote:

This is a great thread.
Neil/Sean: is any of this old material still available? As a fledgling I'd like to start right!

You can find some of Sean's old 3.5 articles here. They are useful to read for the thinking behind them, and the topics that they cover, but some of the specific rules information does not apply to Pathfinder.

Of course, read through the Auto-Reject and Critique My Item threads, and the comments of the top 32's and later rounds as well. There really is a ton of useful information here that all the RPG Superstar judges have compiled over the years.

I especially like the different perspectives of the judges. Neil, Sean, Ryan, and Clark each approach the game from different places, and it's really interesting to see where they agree or disagree on a certain design choice. Of course, the submissions that get Recommends from all the judges are the cream of the crop since they appeal to different kinds of gamers and get all the little parts right as well.

And Neil's analysis of each submission is second to none. He has gone above and beyond the call of duty, spending hours and hours to help out future freelancers.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

I love the bulette, remorhaz, and the aboleth. Off-limits, but I still love succubi. The drider is pretty good too, but see limited use in my games because of their association with drow

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Neil Spicer wrote:
Seth White wrote:
Incendiary Pipe

Full Submission:

** spoiler omitted **
*Whoa! Smoking black powder? O_o

*The whole premise...

Thanks much for the comments. That was kind of where I thought I'd net out after a little reflection.

I struggled with an item keyed to a class mechanic that would also be inclusive of other classes, but lost all focus. I probably should have stuck with some of my jnitial thoughts of a gunslinger-only item, though I think smoking might have been a bit controversial for RPG Superstar. In the future I think I'll avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drug-related items.

I really appreciate your comments, and I'll try harder next year. Thanks!

Ps: whoever posted "*I WILL CRAM AWESOMENESS, GRIT, STEAMPUNK, SMOKING, AND GUNSLINGERS INTO ONE ITEM!" made me laugh out loud, so thanks for that. :)

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32


I wasn't going to do this, but I've had a change of heart while reading this thread.

Is it possible to look up my incendiary pipe submission? I know I don't have the most up-to-date version of it here at work. If you'd rather, I can repost this request later tonight when I have my final draft available.


Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Congrats on making it to the next round, and thanks for the behind-the-scenes thoughts on your organization. It was really cool to see your ideas and your initial brain-storming. I didn't end up voting for your organization, but your comments help me understand where you were coming from. It was a really solid organization. I didn't have any complaints about it; it just didn't excite me like some of the entries.

Good luck on the next round, and thanks for the notes on your entry. I'm looking forward to what you create for your monster. Good luck!

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Eric, best of luck in your next design projects. I voted for your entry, and I'll keep my eye out for your name on other RPG products and hopefully in Superstar in the coming years.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

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I've never liked the exit poll thread. I know why it exists, but I feel like it sways voters to rally around the front-runners. I know it's a tradition in this contest, but I've never been a huge fan.

Of course it may be sour grapes because my Round 2 entry didn't too so hot years back. :)

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

I liked many of the entries, and I found it hard voting for only 8. I don't understand those who say only a couple were worthy of their vote. Even if an entry isn't perfect, there is often a lot going for it that makes it valuable.

I think designing an organization within the word count that fits into the crowded campaign setting is a challenge. And some were up to it more than others I think. I sketched out a couple organizations earlier, only to find out there was a lot of overlap with existing groups. So i can see the challenge in this round. I think for the most part, the contestants did a great job.

I read the judges' comments, but I didn't take them as gospel truth. In fact, I personally disagreed with several of the judges on many entries -- not because I think I know better, or because I presume to know Golarion better, but because I know what I like. And the entries that interested me the most got my vote. The ones that played it really safe, even if they fit in the world well, didn't get my vote.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

I really like this item. It reminds me of an effect in Kraken by China Mieville, which is by no means a negative.

I think this item would be a lot of fun for players, and creative problem-solving. I'll be including this in my game sometime soon.


Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

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Can't wait for the Top 32 reveal!

HUGE thanks to Clark, Neil, Ryan, and Sean for their countless hours reviewing, critiquing, and fighting over our submissions. It takes a lot of time, dedication, and sacrifice to make this contest everything it is - THANK YOU! RPG Superstar is one of the best things to happen for this game, and we're very lucky for Lisa, Eric, James, and all the awesome people at Paizo for their love of the game. This contest is a lot of fun, as a competitor or voter, and I'm looking forward to seeing all the great entries.


Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

And that wouldn't necessarily be a good thing, since we're encouraged to follow the examples in the core rulebook. More likely, they could identify an item by "didn't an item last year refer to Asxanthalas' Reign of Fiery Terror too? Homebrew item. Reject"

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Thanks for posting, Sean and Jerral! It's really great to hear from these up-and-coming Superstars what the contest means to them. Looking forward to your comments and participation throughout this year's contest. And looking forward to seeing everything you'll be writing in the coming months/years.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

On the minimum DC for a magic item, are you allowed to alter that for a higher cost item?

Say you create a simple SIAC item using a 5th level spell and a 2nd level spell. The DC for the 5th level spell would be appropriate, but the DC for the 2nd level spell might be a practical auto-save for the enemies it's supposed to affect.

Can the designer adjust the DC of the 2nd level spell so it isn't underpowered for the level the item would be used for? If that was adjusted how would that affect pricing?

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

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It could be subliminal pop culture. The Sherlock Holmes movies had quite a bit of pipe smoking. Of course, the Hellboy movies had iconic cigar-smoking and those were a few years back. I guess it's hard to know why certain items align like they do each year.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

InVinoVeritas wrote:
Buckinin wrote:
can one submit only up to 4:59 PM eastern time, or is submitting on exactly 5 PM okay??? just a hypothetical question....

It won't matter, because that's precisely when your computer freezes up for a couple minutes, delaying the release of the submission to 5:01 PM. That's the sort of thing you Just Don't Risk.

haha that's so true.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

I've got an idea in the back of my head, but it may be a tad complex for the word-count. Once we get the actual rules I'll start putting it down on paper, and see how it fleshes out. And if I don't hit top 32 that's ok because I'll just drop it into my home game.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Matthias_DM wrote:
In the end, I really think Paizo is just trying to protect there arses here. I mean, if thousands of entries come in, they are bound to begin filling up the realm of ideas pretty soon. They don't want to make similar items in the future and be sued by some a-hole.

Yeah, if you're gonna run a contest like this you HAVE to have a clause like that in it. Otherwise you really are asking for someone to sue you just because they see something in a book they think is like something they submitted 3 years ago.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Demonskunk wrote:

Iii'monna wait 'til next year.

gotta come up with something I'm ok with giving up, and 4 and a half hours isn't exactly the best time span to come up with a winner.

Maybe this is an incorrect assumption, but it seems like the RPG superstars tiers seem to be building toward the final goal of writing an adventure, so wouldn't it make sense for the item to be related to the organization, and the organization to be related to the monster?

It's perfectly easy to write an item that CAN hold a significant amount of backstory, but doesn't need all of it to function properly or make sense, right?

I mean, a cool item is cool no matter what - if it needs paragraphs of back story to be cool, then it's history is cool, but it isn't.

It's too bad you don't feel confident to submit something this year, with the deadline looming close. I totally respect what you're saying, and I wish you the best of luck getting your stuff published, and on your item next year.

I don't know if I communicated what I was trying to say.

I think this contest is hard enough for someone to get into the top 32, and progress round after round to the top 4. Tying your hands by having a pre-existing theme that links them all together just adds extra complexity. Especially with the various twists on each round.

My advice is to just do your best to win each round at a time, and to concentrate on making it into the top 32. After that, if it still works to try and thematically link each submission, and also present the best entry you can come up with, then go for it. I personally think that it's best to just try your hardest to come up with the single best round 1 item you can, and put all your energy into that. You're competing with hundreds, if not over a thousand, other talented and creative RPG players, some of whom have freelance credits of their own.

Sure it would be cool to see someone create a killer item and continue a theme that linked to that throughout the entire contest, but only if that means each round the submission is really awesome. It doesn't matter if it's thematically related if it gets eliminated in round 2.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

RonarsCorruption wrote:

Well, there's probably the same chance that a regular poster on this or any other board is someone who winds up being in the top 32 as any other arbitrary group.

However, the people who regularly post on these boards tend to be the ones who are more interested, invested and involved in the contest, so there's probably a better chance they were one of the ones who actually put forth a really excellent idea.

We'll see at the ever-looming deadline who it winds up being.

I'm really hoping you or someone from the item-a-month club this last year breaks into the top 32. It was a lot of fun reading your entries and critiques. Good luck!

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

ShadowcatX wrote:
michaeljpatrick wrote:
You should never worry about someone stealing your ideas. Ideas are cheap. It's execution that matters.
Tell that to the people who came up with the idea for facebook.

The Winklevii? That's a good example. The Winklevoss twins came up with a couple of the ideas, but Mark Zuckerberg is the one who did all the work coding Facebook and coming up with a viable business strategy. And the courts sided with Zuckerberg.

I'm not saying IP isn't valuable. It is. But it's not valuable if it isn't marketed, or if an audience doesn't want it. Whereas an established trusted, known brand with a committed audience can hire someone to create IP for them, and allow the creator to leap frog all of those steps. For many people, getting the chance to work for a company like Paizo, which is the #2 (or maybe even tied for #1 now) hobby RPG publisher, is worth sacrificing some small IP.

Now as far as the OP is concerned, I'd say it's best NOT to submit their idea. I think it's better to think of round 1 as a one-off item, and not try to submit an integrated theme for all items. Come up with the single best item you can, and don't tie it into your world and races and such. I think it's very possible that you're too close to those things, and they'll probably skew your perspective on the item. Better to design a new item with a fresh perspective.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Sean Huguenard wrote:
Ah, crap, I cocked up and put some backstory into my submission. It was vague, but it's still there. This is what I get for not doing a double check of the advice forums.

well if it's got plenty of mojo, you can get past some of the auto-rejects. Good luck on a back-to-back top 32!

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

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Vic Wertz wrote:
For one thing, though we've had four complete years of running this contest, we've thus far republished only a tiny amount of content—a small handful of items that made the Top 32 in their year appeared in a short article in Kobold Quarterly, and one or two later-round entries have found their way into actual Paizo products (though in different forms). We will be including some items from this year and years previous in the upcoming Ultimate Equipment book... but part of the reason for that is that the community keeps *asking* us to. (And, of course, we credit the authors for their work.)

I can't speak for the others who got their RPG Superstar items published in KQ, but it was really awesome to see mine in print, credited to me, and complete with art. And much, much more valuable than the $10 or so a 300-word submission is "worth" at normal freelance rates.

(Edit: as an aside, I'm sure the KQ article was done to raise awareness of the contest -- not because Paizo can't easily make a better item than my flawed submission.)

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Vic Wertz wrote:
Seth White wrote:
The judges and developers have said they don't do this so they can steal our ideas. They all have enough talent to come up with their own awesome wondrous items. It's for legal issues in case they come up with something in the future that happens to be similar. They don't have time to search through the hundreds of submitted wondrous items to make sure they didn't accidentally come up with something along the same lines.

All correct.

Seth White wrote:
Now, considering that we are designing items under the Open Game License, I'm not sure how that works. To be honest, I'm pretty sketchy on the OGL and its full legal ramifications...
The OGL doesn't transfer or undermine copyright in any way.

Ok. Like I said, I'm really sketchy on how the OGL works . And I certainly would be insane to pretend to be knowledgeable about the OGL, with Clark Peterson and Ryan Dancey around to put me in my place!! :)

I wasn't sure if any of RPG Superstar was published under the OGL or not. I thought that perhaps the mechanics were open content, but not the "flavor" copy. But, to be clear, I know 0.00000 about how the OGL really works.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Yeah if you have general rules questions that may pertain to your item, it's a good idea to ask them outside the RPG Superstar threads.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Yes, the contest rules say they own the wondrous item, whether you get picked or not.

"All entries become the property of Paizo Publishing, LLC. Paizo Publishing is not responsible for lost entries."

Now, considering that we are designing items under the Open Game License, I'm not sure how that works. To be honest, I'm pretty sketchy on the OGL and its full legal ramifications, but it's easiest to assume that submitting an item to the contest means it becomes the property of Paizo, just like the rules say.

The judges and developers have said they don't do this so they can steal our ideas. They all have enough talent to come up with their own awesome wondrous items. It's for legal issues in case they come up with something in the future that happens to be similar. They don't have time to search through the hundreds of submitted wondrous items to make sure they didn't accidentally come up with something along the same lines.

If you progress to Round 2, then they will own the organization you submit, and so on. Of course the further you progress in the contest, the easier it will be to get freelance work with Paizo and 3PP in the future, which makes up for giving your couple of ideas to Paizo.

Chances are you've got hundreds or thousands of ideas within you if you're gonna freelance, and you'll likely come up with more as Paizo develops more mehanics and world information. So giving Paizo a couple of them for the chance to win the #1 RPG contest is pretty much worth it.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

illuminar wrote:
Unfortunately I submitted a lackluster item in round 1 before I realized what the RPG Superstar was all about. I might still post an orgainization in the comments just for fun. I'll wait to see if by chance I made it in the top 32 first though.

In the past, people who didn't make the top 32 posted their Round 2 ideas and talked about them in a thread dedicated to that. But they usually waited a while so they didn't steal the spotlight from the top 32 contestants.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

GoldenOpal wrote:

All I am trying to say is that if you make it clear what are looking for in the contest rules and description, you are more likely to get it. And if you don’t, it is silly to be surprised when you don’t get what you want.

American Idol is a good comparison. Billed as a singing competition where singing ability, is not what the judges are really looking for. Again, nothing wrong with that. But… for the Idol judges to then be surprised about contestants assuming singing is the talent being judged, at least for the first round before the public voting starts. It just doesn’t make sense. Yes, anyone who watches Idol can easily figure out singing isn’t what it is about. I’m simply pointing out, there is no reason to give contestants and viewers the impression that it is. Or maybe there is a reason that I simply don’t understand. Either way, don’t be surprised when people get the wrong impression.

It was wrong for me to expect the rules and guidelines of RPG Superstar to tell me what the contest is about. I get that now.

I don't get the misunderstanding. The judges have been very explicit of what the rules are from the very beginning. And people have consistently been able to not only meet the minimum of the rules, but also come up with items that are also interesting and imaginative.

In 2008, when the contest began, they were able to select 32 people who they felt had the necessary understanding of the rules and the creativity to be able to write for Paizo in the future. And, if you look at the top 4, they were right. Christine Schneider wrote a great module, Jason Nelson freelances regularly for Paizo, Rob McCreary is a developer, and Clinton Boomer has a ton of freelance credits of his own (especially with Rite Publishing). Look at year two. Neil is judging this competition, after all. I won't list every contestant who went on to write for Paizo, but it's obvious that the judges have been pretty spot-on in finding talent.

Of course every person who makes the top 32 doesn't end up getting published. Every year, there are people who aren't quite there, and who peter out along the way because they weren't up to snuff (myself for instance -- I totally flubbed round two with my monster design). Maybe in a few instances, a judge saw some potential and golden-ticketed someone who wasn't ready for the big time. But that's a risk worth taking. Sometimes a lot of "mojo" can compensate for sloppy rules-fu, and maybe really solid understanding of the rules can compensate for the tiny spark of creativity. And then in some items, there is a whole lot of creativity, in addition to a thorough understanding of the rules. And THOSE are the people who often end up doing the best. Because they have a good grasp of the rules, and a deep reservoir of creativity and innovation.

I don't see where you're drawing the conclusion that somehow the rules can tell you everything you need to know to win. In every instance, you need to put in something of yourself to win something, whether it's a game, a business proposal, anything worth doing. The rules are enough to not get disqualified or docked, the advice columns are guidelines to follow to avoid the easy mistakes, and the rest is your imagination, your experience playing the game, your hard work researching areas you're unfamiliar with, etc. And if you managed to come up with a mechanically solid item, that showed strong creativity, and avoided the auto-reject categories, then you probably made it into the top 32. And if you hit on one of those categories, and didn't on the others, maybe you did such a great job in that aspect that you still squeaked into the top 32.

That's up to the judges. But they've had a pretty good track record so far in finding Superstar talent.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

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Backstory is what it sounds like: Background Story. Don't include this.

Do not go into its history, its creation, its crafter, or the lost empire it's from. Do not write about how it was made, how exotic animals were hunted down and their body parts harvested, or the nature of the mad wizard who invented it. Don't talk about the kobold tribe that worshipped the ancient dracolich and crafted the orb around its phylactery. Don't talk about the line of priests or the rites they practice while creating these items. Don't talk about the famous barbarian who wrenched this tooth from the mighty dragon to create the totem.

If it's something about the past, ditch that part.

It doesn't matter.

Think of it this way: if the One Ring from LOTR was a wondrous item (and not a ring, or an artifact), its description for this contest would be the description in The Hobbit. Bilbo found the simple gold ring, and when he put it on, it made him invisible. It didn't talk about Sauron, or ring wraiths, or any of that stuff. All that mattered to Bilbo was that it was a cool ring of invisibility.

This is about the item -- not the history of it. and this item isn't unique. It may be cool, but it's not a perfect special one-of-a-kind item. Any spellcaster who meets the requirements can make one of these. They don't need to belong to a secret cult, or a race of monsters, or forge this item in the deep furnaces of the mountain kings.

Stick to the present. Show us what it does, and what it looks like now.

You can describe the intricate runes etched along its surface if you want. You can talk about how it glows, or how it makes its wielder hover over the ground, or how the owner's hands become caked in thick hardened clay, etc. That stuff is description, or flavor, or fluff, or whatever, and is necessary to adequately describe the item. Don't spend all your time on description, but please include some description- even if it's just a line or a few words with a lot of imagery sprinkled here and there.

Just don't go into the item's background. The judges could care less about the history of the item. They want to know what makes it awesome right this instant.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

gbonehead wrote:
Haven't you learned anything? There's always monkeys.

I think you may have something there. . .

Greaves of the Monkey

Monkey Goblins Attack!

Cacophonous Monkey

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

I'm crossing my fingers that I priced my item right since I couldn't use just existing spells to price mine. But I tried to eyeball the appropriate wealth-by-level tables, and the other wondrous items I felt it compared to. Time will tell if I got that right. This part of the process always seems tricky to me.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

This thread may be relevant to this conversation.

Think of the typical players of the game, and their PCs. More to the point, think of the Pathfinder RPG iconics. Can you picture Valeros, Seoni, Feiya, & co. using -- no, wanting, lusting after, fighting over -- this item?*

I think THAT's what the judges are looking for. Something players really want for their Pathfinder characters. If you dumped a treasure chest you just stole from a dragon out on a table, do you, as a player, want to go for the shoe-tying item?

As a designer, it may be a fun mechanic to play around with. As a world-builder, it may be a great item that adds verisimilitude to the fantasy world. As a DM, it may create fun and interesting ideas for plots.

But as a PC adventurer making your way in an action-adventure fantasy world, is this item your first-round draft pick in the pile of loot?

Because if it is, then that is Superstar.

*bear in mind too, that it can't be overpowered, or unbalanced. I know it can be a tricky line to walk between awesome and too much. The goal is to come up with a cool item that a PC would want, but that still fits neatly into the space it belongs in.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

I really wouldn't try to pigeon-hole too much.

My item last year was an evil item for worshipers of Asmodeus that impacted an opponent's ability to channel positive energy. Among the other issues that caused it to be rejected, a judge commented that they liked the idea of how it affected channel energy, but would have liked the mechanic more if it wasn't so restrictive.

I think it makes sense to play off a specific mechanic, like bloodlines, haunts, ki, hexes, or whatever. But to limit it further to just one archetype is a bad idea.

Ryan, for one, frequently looks at the game from a brand and marketing perspective, and he really likes to see inclusive items. There was a sidebar in the RPG Superstar podcast (which you should listen to if you haven't), about how the corset idea might exclude an entire gender and how to work around that. So to be sure, the judges are thinking about inclusiveness in items.

Be really careful about making your item too narrowly focused. Something that you find in a treasure trove should be usable to someone in the party. Otherwise, it's just something you take to town to sell. And that's not superstar.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Thanks for the encouragement Clark.

Your comments got me a little more excited and motivated than last year. I even took your advice and reread all the auto-rejects and the top 32s. And I listened to the podcast again.

I had a lot of fun creating my item, and I'm proud of the work I did. Even if it doesn't clear the high bar for this year, I'm hoping you guys enjoy reading my entry.

I'm looking forward to seeing what makes the cut for this year's Superstar. This contest is a ton of fun, and something I look forward to every year.

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