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339 posts. Alias of Anthony Adam.


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Okay, I am reading through the rules thoroughly at the moment and thought you might like some general feedback, so I will post the odd thing here or there for your consideration.

I wont post typos, it's a playtest book, but sometimes I might have a general point to make - like this...

PDF - page 6 of 434
Left column, section The Game's Flow, 2nd paragraph starts

"A game of Pathfinder can be played for as long as the
Game Master has an ongoing story she enjoys exploring
and advancing with her players."

My issue with this is two fold.

#1 - it feels like an old school throwback to the time when the GM determines everything.
#2 - it's not as inclusive as you normally are. Todays games, the story drive is not just for the enjoyment of the GM, it's for all.

So in the interests of modernising and inclusivity, might I suggest rewording slightly...

I'm not a pro, but something like this maybe...

"A game of Pathfinder can be played for as long as everyone, GM and players, are enjoying exploring and advancing the stories being experienced together."

I don't know if you would also like feedback of this ilk or not, but thought it wouldn't harm to mention it. Maybe I'm being too pedantic, I don't know.

Overview almost complete - really enjoying the read so far, well done all. I firmly believe saying what was done well is as important as things that might be contested, so...

The Gaming is For All section starting bottom right on the same page. Beautifully written, sensitive and sensible - well done indeed the writer who wrote that.

Oh, I Know I said I wouldn't but Template Fu is a stickler...

Die Rolls, pdf page 9 of 434, first para...

"Many rolls in Pathfinder involve rolling a d20, adding bonuses or penalties, and telling the GM the result so she can compare it to the number representing the difficult of the task."

I think that should be "difficulty of the task." :P

* pokes his clearly visible ribs beneath his emaciated form *


* spots new competition *

Ooooh, Food!

* pulls out knife and fork *
* sits up at the computer, anticipating the reveal *
* licks lips while drooling excessively *

(Owner: Oh dear lord, you poor souls!)

You are all probably thinking about this already, but I guess it doesn't hurt to ask. And here seems as good a place as any...

The next Wayfinder will likely be scheduled for May 2019, well into Pathfinder 2 territory... so...

Are you planning Wayfinder to support Pathfinder 2 from that next issue?

If so, the submission window is likely to fall into the 2.0 Beta phase. Can we start planning submissions we would like to consider for a "2.0 Beta" themed issue?

Obviously if the next issue is Pathfinder 1, it negates these thoughts, and would allow Wayfinder to wait for the final core release of 2.

So, what are your current plans / thoughts along these lines.

No rush on a quick answer, just raising it for consideration.

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I really miss eating, erm, analysing entries, so I would definitely watch this with hunger, cough, interest, and will most certainly be active in the feedback areas.

The final part of the issue is a collection of creatures. I will review each creature independently so that each author receives their own review of their work rather than being part of an overall summary...

Bestiary - Blood Sapling, CR 1
The Bestiary of this issue starts with something very reminiscent of the old school variants of the yellow musk zombies created by a yellow musk creeper. It’s a CR 1 creature, one of the hardest CR creatures to design for without introducing power creep, so how does this design fare?
Everything hangs together really well, and sticks to the plant based theme nicely.
One thing that did seem out of context to me was the Melee entry referring to claws. I loved the Branches extraordinary ability, but this too mentions claws. I think I would have preferred leaving things as whip like branch attacks that tear at the skin creating slashing wounds and thorns that attribute the piercing type as well. Then I would have replaced the wording of claws with branches, tightening the whole design much closer to the plant theme.
The art represents the creature very well, possibly a little cartoon like for my tastes but that’s just my personal preference… speaking of which, I particularly liked the brain flower contained within a bramble like cage – nice and creepy.
Article: 9/10, Art: 8/10

Bestiary - Dragonfly, Giant Knifewing, CR 3
Next up, a low-level airborne threat to player character safety. This is a good choice because at level 3, PCs don’t yet have great access to flight, so this creature does have retreat and harry potential to really vex your players with. One of its abilities is to apply a bleed to the target of its attacks. Bleed effects at CR 3 are particularly deadly, not every party member can easily make a DC15 heal check, and the extra damage applied per round can mount up very quickly. I think my biggest problem with this bleed though is that there is no duration specified. This could be that the intent is to bleed until treated, but I personally would have preferred a quoted duration.
For the organization, I try to avoid the use of the word swarm as a collective as this has in game meaning, so the writer could have gone with plague (like a plague of locusts) or even flight and thus avoiding the swarm inference. It might be the writer intended to have swarm as a swarm, but I suspect not as swarms are usually thousands of smaller / tiny creatures forming the whole and not thousands of wolf sized creatures!
Overall, the creature has definite low level use potential, the artwork representing an all green dragonfly, but without easy reference to the size – a missed opportunity. Maybe instead of having it over a branch emerging from water, it could have been portrayed as clinging to the rib cage of a humanoid skeleton and thus indicating it’s larger than normal size.
Article: 8/10, Art: 7/10

Bestiary - Ferrywight, CR 6
Next up, some undead in that sweet spot of game play levels. There are definite parallels to Charon, the boatman of the river Styx, and being a bit of a sucker for those stories and legends, it struck a good chord with me.
I really loved the image of attacking the pcs with an oar as a main attack option. The imagery is fun and ouch, a meaty amount of damage too. Yeah, this appeals a lot.
The expected spawning ability was present and I love the enervating waters ability, something unique and wonderful to this creature. The players will hate it!
The artwork supports the whole design, my only real concern is it felt more skeletal than wight in representation. That aside, show this picture to your players and they will know it’s rumble time.
Article: 10/10, Art: 9/10

Bestiary - Hearth Wraith, CR 6
The next creature appeals to me in that it so obviously targets the times when the party are at camp. That said, at CR 6, it has a +10 touch attack that deals on average 9 fire damage per hit AND 1d6 Con drain – yes, drain, the permanent one.
Now there is a save involved, a Fortitude save, which benefits from higher Con bonuses. Fail that save and things become very deadly as your Con bonus disappears and your Fortitude save gets lower and lower. Couple that with the physical damage and with just a couple of good rolls, and the cumulative effect of the attack damage, reduced save, and reduced health pool and you can find that in just 2-3 attacks, a PC is well and truly dead. And as they are touch attacks, they will almost invariably hit every time at this point in the game.
For me, 2-3 rounds to dead is too deadly at this game point. I would probably change the drain to damage, allowing natural healing to restore the lost Con over time, and reduce it to 1d3 per hit – the pc is taking damage and reductions in maximum health at the same time, so I think this would be a reasonable fix. Also, I think you need to consider when designing camp monsters that the PCs are en-route away from civilization, so you shouldn’t make things permanently bad for them with camping encounters – if you do, your game might end up ending sooner than you would like.
Alternatively, you could leave things as they are consider raising the CR of this creature to 8 or even 9, so that when encountered, the party has more resources to both deal with the threat and deal with the aftermath.
Love the art, one of my favorite pieces. The shading, the imagery, it’s just so cool and I know if I showed this to my players, they would be quite scared and worried for their characters.
Article: 7/10, Art: 10/10

Bestiary - Kraken, River, CR 12
Now we step up to higher level play with a CR 12 river beast based on the krakens of legend. Unfortunately, I struggled to really like this creature because the description / ecology entry was in the main simply reiterating the special abilities. As designers, we have to credit the players and game masters with the ability to work out tactics and reasoning behind the skills and abilities of the creatures we create. So, for example, in the description, when we describe how humanoids in the vicinity of the creature are dominated, we don’t need to refer to its abilities which have only just been stated above the description.
The other thing I thought might be problematical was the ability to “beach” any ship it attacks without any regard to the size or laden weight of said ship. It’s only a small observation though, just something to bear in mind for the future.
That said, the idea of a smaller river based kraken is a very good idea. It has potential for a unique and interesting encounter, e.g. the players are fleeing by boat from river pirates chasing them along the river. The pirates are of course under control of this creature and are leading the players to a trap. The players find themselves caught between the pirates and this creature in an epic confrontation at this level of play.
The artwork represents the kraken, almost filling the river depicted. Again, the actual size is not well represented by this image – the width of the river is not easily determined, with those few bulrushes, it looks like it may be not more than 15-20 feet wide. Adding a humanoid coiled in a tentacle and part or all of a ship broken across a rock midstream could have provided size context to the imagery.
Article: 7/10, Art: 7/10

Bestiary - Predatory Sandbar, CR 12
Another CR12 follows. Now this one, I like. I like the fact that it takes something non-threatening and common place and breathes into it monstrous life and potential. This creature abounds with natural camouflage and the ability to truly shock and surprise the unwary.
The abilities give that feel of fighting the tide itself and so I found this creature very in theme for the River Kingdoms and would happily use it in the river deltas and slower and deeper running rivers.
The resistances I felt were a bit high at 30, 20 should have been enough at this level of play. I also wondered about having resistance to both fire and cold, usually in creature designs, those diametrically opposed elements result in having one being resisted and the other being vulnerable. I would be tempted to make some sort of cold vulnerability – as the water within the creatures body starts to freeze, it should become sluggish and slow maybe as the small particles of its make-up become less able to freely move around.
I loved the picture – a couple of times I mentioned in this review about size context, this art has done it right. We can all picture a row boat size, so by including that in the creature depiction, we immediately sense the size of the creature and the weight of all that sand about to crash down on that poor boat.
Article: 9/10, Art: 9/10

Bestiary - River Wraith, CR 4
The sample creature provided is of a boar converted into a river wraith – the river wraith of the bestiary entry is a template rather than a creature of its own right, so although the example we have been provided is a CR 4, by applying the template to different beasts, then varying CR levels can be created and encountered.
The template provides some quite unique abilities to a creature so templated, and I loved how the a river wraith is more adept in the river than on dry land. This is a limitation for the creature, but it is a limitation that both makes sense and fits the theme and background history.
I can see many applications of this template being used to surprise, delight and horrify your players. I particularly liked how the sample creature is represented by the artist. Everything fits so well together here, the sample creature, the art, the template. I think this is my favorite of the bestiary section for this issue. The idea of a menagerie of water based creatures bearing downstream like a rolling, broiling, tidal wave stampede is most compelling.
Article: 10/10, Art: 10/10

Bestiary - Tsemaus, CR 6
And the last beast of this issue, a CR 6. Now, I have heard of this creature before, it is found in Canadian folklore, being a creature that entraps the unwary by appearing to be nothing more than floating detritus, or even a fallen tree floating downriver.
The application of the rule set to this legend has provided a very good in game representation of this creature, following very closely to the folklore history.
The art represents the creature equally well, reflecting many of the images you can find by searching for the folklore of this creature.
I love how everything makes sense and it is very well placed for CR. It is the perfect choice for a creature designed for the setting of this issue and I can only applaud the developer for giving us this variant.
Article: 9/10, Art: 9/10

So, that’s this issues Bestiary. I think one of the best themed collection of creatures designed for a specific region so far in this magazines history. So, for the bestiary as a whole…
Articles: 9/10, Artwork: 9/10

Issue Summary
Well, at the time of writing, this issue has scored the most 10 point submissions in a single issue thus far in any review I have written. The editing is top notch as usual and the articles clearly illustrate the diversity found throughout the River Kingdoms region - everything from traditional fantasy fare through to dark and sinister can be found herein. This issue is one of my favorite issues so far, and is also a best in breed example of truly supporting the exploration and adventures of this region. Good job everyone.
Overall: 9.5/10 - Articles: 10/10, Art: 9/10

FYI – This completes the review: 51,184 characters excluding spaces, or 10,818 words over 41 articles making this my largest and most detailed review to date.

I hope you found something useful and interesting during your read of my ramblings.

Oh, and if you find reading the review difficult due to it being split over a number of forum posts, I now host these on my blog site, one review per page. This one can be found in full here. Feel free to look around, it’s a site in progress and might be something you will find useful as I populate it over time. Enjoy.

You can post them for feedback whenever you so wish, but I will be giving priority to items for each challenge when that challenge is active.

If you missed the boat on any challenge, time permitting, I will review anything that gets posted here as a one shop design discussion stop.

I am busy typing up the next round challenge details, so you will soon have something to chew on again. :)

Okay, it looks like Villain(ess) isn't as popular as I had hoped it might be.

Challenge Closed - no entries :(

The next challenge will be for feats (something new and different), probably targeting Ustalav, so get your Gothic on.

Full template, word counts, etc., will follow this weekend.

Challenge 2 - Three Days to Closure!

Just an evil reminder to start prepping your final versions for submission in time. :P

On the naming thing, so you can understand some of the thinking behind not naming people/places etc.

When you add a name of a person/thing/place which is part of a world lore (Golarion's or even just a generic name), you are unintentionally doing two things...

a) potentially adding extra work on the GM plate to look up who/what the named thing is and to incorporate that lore into their game, and, sublimily saying to GM/players - "Unless your campaign consumes the lore of this thing, you are not encouraged to use this in your game".

b) You will find that the voters tend to get very tired of names of the form "The X of Y" and "X of the Y", so lose from the name of your item the last three words, leaving the cleaner and simpler item name "The Haunted Aria".

THAT name makes me go "ohh, what does that do?",

"The Haunted Aria of Lady Greer" makes me go "who is that? and... oh god alliterative/rhyming naming!"

So by adding the who/what/where to the name, you are actually taking the focus away from the item itself.

I hope that makes sense.

Challenge 2 - Two Weeks to Closure!

This is just the promised warning post that you have just 14 days left to submit.

Challenge 2 - Closes on Friday 24th March 2017

Clarification: ----- Sources Used ----- <Required>

The sources used list will NOT be included in the word count of the submission. This is not normally a part of a stat block and is there purely to help my review process.

There you go, a few extra words for you all ;)

Timitius wrote:
Snorter wrote:

I like the idea of T-Fu's thread.

I just want to be sure that posting there, in a thread visible to the public, doesn't disqualify or harm the chances of an idea being picked for WF.

When I saw the first challenge was a fey item, I did a double take. But I guess that was set before the next theme had been picked?

No, we made the fey decision independently, although there has been a call for fey as a theme for quite some time.

As for posting ideas on a thread, no that shouldn't disqualify it. We've taken several articles or concepts from messageboard posts and put them in Wayfinder. My main concern is that someone ELSE will take that idea or concept, and publish it somewhere else before we do. Then there's copyright issues, and headaches, and so on. Keeping your gems private insures against that risk.

Wow, OMG, etc... Great Minds think alike! Does this mean I have a designer mind set now? - grin.

I have no connection with Wayfinder (other than as an occasional contributor), and am trying to come up with popular challenges for designers to practice with and enjoy in that design thread.

With the recently released Fey supplement mentioned in the Challenge 1 rules, I went with that because the fey seemed so darned popular at the time. I hadn't spotted Wayfinder was going that way for a theme, so apologise for that, I hope I haven't caused any problems.

Some of the feedback I wrote on the submissions might help potential contributors with their submissions and ideas, so feel free to have a look if you think it will help you. At worst, it should sort out your formatting for when you submit a wondrous item! ;)

If you would prefer to have stuff reviewed privately for submitting to Wayfinder, feel free to ping me a message and I will see how, and if, I can fit you in to my busy schedules.

Just bouncing challenge 2 so anyone who wants to take part doesn't miss it.

No, the CR is for her as a component piece of an encounter - much like a creature CR. How she is used affects the encounter CR, not her personal CR. E.g. 1 modified goblin with "super bits" is CR 3, two modified goblins with "super bits" - they are both still CR 3 individually but the encounter is likely CR 4.

You will find in the bestiaries the CRs are for a single creature, with encounters taking that into account in the encounter design, rewards and tactics.

I am not worried about the tactics involving minions, confidents, bodyguards, etc - that would affect the encounter CR but not her personal CR. The tactics section should be reasonably generic, it is not an encounter design - that challenge comes later! I expect to see some paragraphs something along these lines, i.e. advice to the encounter designer/gm sort of thing...

"Assuming the PCs intend combat, when she is indoors and encountered alone, she uses her godlike bluff to confuse. She emits her psyhic call for help to her bodyguards to come quickly to her aide...

She is never encountered alone her in her throne room, a contingent of guards always present. She moves behind this wall of walking plate mail, muscle and loyalty and starts casting buff spells upon her minions....

Under an open sky, she immediately levitates to rain death down upon her attackers while silently summoning her nearby aides."

Note that in the second paragraph, I do not write an encounter design, there are no NPC stat blocks, no count of how many there are, just what she does to utilise them.

I hope that answers your question.

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Kerney wrote:
Belabras wrote:
Kalimint wrote:
Captain Phoenix wrote:

Well done everyone!

Any chance of some feedback if we didn't make the cut? Or a hug?

I would be happy to give feedback on fiction pieces, if anyone would like it. I've had a lot of experience writing, editing, and workshopping.
If you wanted to start a Pathfinder writing group, I think you'd find there is a demand for it.
I would be interested.

And if you want to practice and get some feedback from TemplateFu, his second RPG Superstar like challenge is now open...

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Template Fu Challenge 2: Design a Villainess of Numeria

So many times, the villain of the piece is male, so with this challenge, it is time to redress the balance. Does your villain confront the PC’s directly, work as a foil behind the scenes, hide behind a front patsy, strike from the shadows? Are they a person of great power or influence, a leader of a religious sect or organisation, or have the PC’s wronged them in a past adventure?

Design a villainess that will test every aspect of the PCs gaming skills using the Pathfinder ruleset. Ensure your villainess satisfies the following criteria:

  • The villainess must be female!obvious, I know.
  • The villainess must operate in and optionally originate from Numeria!
  • The villainess should be suitable for use as a long term foil of a player group.
  • The villainess should be CR 12
  • She must be a villain and not just an NPC!
Although the game sweet spot is often recognised and stated as CR 7-9, I wanted to open up some of the more powerful options to be available, hence a CR 12 requirement.

Entries must be submitted to this thread until a "Challenge Closed" message is posted by TemplateFu. Submissions posted after this closure post will not be reviewed. A two week warning post will be made prior to the challenge closed post.

The entire submission, including the title, must not exceed 2,000 words. This word limit includes all formatting code. It is higher than previous villain rounds for two reasons, the first is that the template can eat word count at a high rate, then second is that with a higher CR, you will need them for tactics, spell lists and a generally larger stat block.

The post must contain the submission only and no other messages, qualifying texts, explanations or anything else. Each submission must stand alone for review. Do not follow your submission with any such qualifying additional posts either, you must wait to comment only after review and feedback is given.

If your submission is not left standalone, it will not be reviewed by TemplateFu.

Forum posts include a Preview button to view what your submission will look like. Please use it before submitting for review.


I have attempted to bring the old template from the 2008 Superstar template up to date with current game rules. So I will be more lenient on templating issues, but I will require the format provided below to form the general layout and composition of entries.

You should not use ALL CAPS for any part of your submission, even when it appears that way in Paizo products. That is just a font, so don't make things all caps, keep it reader and reviewer friendly.

"zz" is a placeholder to indicate you should replace that text with appropriate information.

Please note that not all section or lines are required in all designs, so if you don’t have a villain with an aura for example, then lose the aura line, if they can’t cast spells, lose the spell section and so on.

If a section is marked <Required>, then I require this section to be included in your design, e.g. the tactics section is required even though you might not need all the sub parts.

Note that in your submission, the <Required> tag should not appear, so remove them before submitting please!

Finally, for the introductory description, describe what the villainess looks like, now what they are doing. Leave the action for the GM to describe when the villainess is encountered, do not force any assumed actions upon them.

If you are not sure what goes into any section, please refer to existing villains and the 2008 Superstar round 3 entries for reference - or ask for clarification in a separate thread to keep this thread reasonably clean. Thanks.

The expected framework and ordering follows:

Introductory Description <Required>

Name, (optional alias) CR ##
XP #,###
Female zzRace zzClass ## / zzClass ##
zzAlignment zzSize zzType
Init +##; Senses zzSense +##, zzSense +##; Perception +##

----- Defense ----- <Required>
AC ##, touch ##, flat-footed # (+## zzModifier, +##zzModifier)
hp ## (##d##+##); fast healing ##
Fort +##, Ref +##, Will +##
Defensive Abilities ##/zzAbility; DR ##/zzMaterial; Immune zz; Resist zz ##, zz ##; SR ##
Weaknesses zz, zz
Special: zzSpecial

----- Offense ----- <Required>
Speed ## ft., fly ## ft. (zzManeuverability)
Melee zzAttacktype +## (zzDamage plus zzOthereffect), zzAttacktype +## (zzDamage)
Ranged zzAttacktype +## (zzDamage)
Space ## ft.; Reach ## ft.
Special Attacks zz, zz
Spell-Like Abilities (CL ##zz; concentration +##)

    At will—zz, zz
    1/day—zz, zz
Spells Prepared (CL ##zz; concentration +##)
    9th—zz (DC ##), zz (DC ##)
    8th—zz (DC ##), zz (DC ##)
    7th—zz (DC ##), zz (DC ##)
    6th—zz (DC ##), zz (DC ##)
    5th—zz (DC ##), zz (DC ##)
    4th—zz (DC ##), zz (DC ##)
    3rd—zz (DC ##), zz (DC ##)
    2nd—zz (DC ##), zz (DC ##)
    1st—zz (DC ##), zz (DC ##)
    0—zz (DC ##), zz (DC ##)

    Opposition Schools (zzSchool, zzSchool)

----- Tactics ----- <Required>
Before Combat zzTactics
During Combat zzTactics
Morale zzTactics

----- Statistics ----- <Required>
Str ##, Dex ##, Con ##, Int ##, Wis ##, Cha ##
Base Atk +##; CMB +## (+## zzConditionalmaneuverbonus); CMD ## (## vs. zzManeuvername)
Feats zzFeatname, zzFeatname
Skills zzSkillname +##, zzSkillname +## (+## zzCondition); Racial Modifiers +## zzSkillname, +## zzSkillname when zzCondition
Languages zzLanguage
SQ zz
Gear zzGear, zzGear

----- Special Abilities -----
zzName (Ex/Sp/Su) zzDescription

----- Background ----- <Required>

----- Motivation ----- <Required>

----- Appearance ----- <Required>

----- Plot Hooks ----- <Required>

----- Sources Used ----- <Required>
Please list the source books used in the creation of your villain – this would not normally be in a villain description, I am requesting it to aide my reviewing. Thanks in advance. Adding page references is optional, or links to PRD rules and pages is also an option, just so long as the viewing public and reviewers (I for one) can work out where things have come from.

Challenge Time Frame:

Submissions may be made immediately after this post in this thread.

Challenge 2 - Two Week closure warning is scheduled for Friday 10th March 2017

This is just a warning post to tell you that you have just 14 days left to submit.

Challenge 2 - Closes on Friday 24th March 2017

Due to time zone differences, on the last day for submission, I will post a 4-hour and 1-hour warning on the thread to make it easy for all to know when submission closure is imminent. I will do this for each and every challenge.

The next two weeks will be reviewing and feedback posting for me and everyone else who wants to join in, which means…

Challenge 3 - Announcement will be on Friday 7th April 2017.
Challenge 3 will span the Easter holiday period for those that observe such, so it will be slightly longer in terms of time available to submit.

Challenge 4 will likely span my Paizocon visit, so that too might be a larger wordcount and longer time span so I can relax and actually get some gaming and networking done. ;)

Eligibility To Enter

This challenge is open to ANYONE - this includes previous winners and finalists, it includes Paizo staff and freelancers, absolutely anyone is welcome to have a try.

Unlike RPG Superstar, here, every round, every challenge is fully open for anyone to enter. It doesn’t matter if you won previously, have reached stages that preclude you from entering Superstar again or not.

You are all welcome.

Even if you are already published and simply want to join the fun, please do so – we can all learn from the professionals too!

DISQUALIFICATION: Submissions will not be reviewed by TemplateFu for the following reasons:

  • Submission is not a female villain
  • Submission is not tied to Numeria.
  • Submission was posted after the "Challenge Closed" post for this challenge.
  • Submission exceeds 2,000 words.
  • Submission is not CR 12.
  • Submission is not formatted per the supplied template
  • Submission does not conform to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
  • Submission is not standalone, e.g. it has qualifying posts or commentary made prior to review.
  • Submission is copied from a previously published source.
  • Submission has been previously submitted to RPG Superstar.
  • Submission uses rules, monsters, or copyrighted material from publishers other than Paizo.
  • Submission uses alpha, beta, under development or pre-release material.
  • Submission has excluded source references.
  • Submission is not the first submission from any entrant, only your first submission will get reviewed.
  • Submission is not posted to the challenge thread that these rules are posted to.
  • Submission has embedded links to sources that do not link to the official Paizo PRD

And now for Arbore Vitae…

Name Line
An interesting name. It is one of those names that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, and is potentially open to pronunciation variation. It’s one of those love them or hate them types of name.

It feels like “poshing up” of a name to make it sound or feel more exciting than the thing being names, and so makes me wary of what the item will be. The way I treat names, and bear in mind I openly proclaim myself as king of bad naming, is to use the words I would use in everyday conversation.

I am not saying this name is bad or wrong; it’s just not what I would have used myself.

So breaking it down, what am I going to expect? Arbore, the French spelling of the latin "arbor" - which means “high plant”, and Vitae is the latin for vitality, the course of one’s life. Since the second word is latin, I would have updated the first word to also be latin, making it Arbor Vitae.

So, I am expecting something to do with health and vitality, probably plant based, and as the challenge was first world based, something fey… and this is fairly close to what we actually get. Good job.

Aura Line
Now, we have 1 auras, 2 spells in creation – The first is a level 0 illusion, the second is a level 4 transmutation druid spell. So we need a 7th level druid, which means the aura is good.

It’s fine missing out the level 0 illusion as the aura from that is going to be hidden by the much stronger transmutation spell even though it is the weaker spell that explains where the DR gain comes from in the effects.

That said, reincarnation is a permanent change to the form of the creature being reincarnated, in fact, giving them a whole new body. So the DR gain is also explained by the use of this spell as the new body is of the fey type, allowing you to drop the first weaker spell as unnecessary to the creation of the item.

Slot Line
Slot – well done on using none instead of a dash, none came into the formatting as part of the 5th printing if I recall correctly, but this is a good example of keeping up to date with errata!

Price – Perfect formatting, feels right for what the item is doing, and it’s a consumable. Yes, you did very well placing it here, I think it’s about spot on for my tastes and pricing feel.

Weight – Singular lb. – nice, but, on looking for similar consumable wondrous items - elixirs, unguents, and universal solvent, they all have “no weight” as the weight entry. I would consider removing the weight of 1 lb. and replace with the “no weight” dash to be in line with all the other consumable oils and the like.

The first paragraph contains two things, a description of the item and the application. This is okay, but I would like have used a paragraph split between the two for easier scanning in voting and when using at the gaming table. It is annoying to many players, GMs and voters when they have to “find” something in a description paragraph and this paragraph does bury an important piece of game information – the application time required.

The next paragraph describes the main cool effect and the benefits gained from that effect. This is perfect, but the benefits do contain one quite significant flaw. In the last sentence, we are told that we gain DR/2 cold iron, the problem is the next three words after this DR statement virtually negates the DR benefit by making us vulnerable to the thing we DR! Ack! And then on top of that we gain some negative levels too. Double Ack! (This will hurt you in voting had this been a competition entry)

I like the catch all for those with insufficient levels to cover the negative level gain. This paragraph deals nicely with this problem, and covers off all other areas of concern by referring back to the reincarnate spell – a good way of saving words, and a very good closing paragraph.

Template use on this line is perfect as has been the whole entry. Very well done.

I was left feeling this item is very apt for the first world requirement, and removing the vulnerable bit would fix my only major concern.

I think I would have voted for this quite a bit, it would likely lose out occasionally due to that vulnerable thing, but on the whole, this would have been a strong competition entry.

I hope you found something useful in the above.

Template Fu has now finished all submission reviews for the first challenge…

My next post will be the next challenge!

And Challenge 1 Submissions are now closed

I will post the next challenge in around two weeks time once I have finished the reviews of submissions outstanding.

As a heads up, I am going back some years in the superstar competition to the "Design a Villain", so get thinking of some concepts...

Yes, there will be a twist and a Golarion requirement or two, I just need to think a little more about what they will be.

4 hours to submissions close!

Just one submission left to review pending any last hour submissions ;)

The next challenge details will be coming soon after - once all my reviews are done.

2 days left to submit for the first challenge! ...

... and 16 days to the start of the next challenge! :)

And now for Sibling’s Shadow…

Name Line
I really like the name on this one, short, punchy, evocative – I am immediately anticipating something gothic, moody and to do with shadows cast by children.

I shall find out as I read on, but the name is good, it grabs my imagination and makes me want to learn more. The formatting is spot on again – it seems the terror of TemplateFu is mighty indeed! :P

Aura Line
Now, we have 2 auras, 4 spells in creation – this immediately makes me concerned that the item might be doing too much or is a Swiss Army Knife type of item. For now, let’s stick with the aura – formatting is spot on, and you ordered the spells alphabetically – well done.

Those spells are: flare, a level 0 evocation; guidance, a level 0 divination; moment of greatness, a level 1 enchantment; and vanish, a level 1 illusion. All are castable by a first level caster, so unless the description tells me that you are going for caster level based duration, area of effect, or other caster level dependency, then we should have a caster level of 1st and not 3rd.

They all provide a faint aura, so as they are all the same aura strength, the divination and evocation auras are missing. I did wonder if an orison (level 0 spell) sheds no aura but on checking detect magic, there is nothing there to prevent their auras being identified in the third round, they would simply be a DC 15 check in the same way that a level 1 spell is a DC 16 check. I might have missed a rule elsewhere, so do let me know if they are excluded.

I did wonder if vanish should be darkness – a level 2 spell, so still faint, but I think more in keeping with the description and dimming effects of the item. It is also the same aura as flare, removing illusion from the aura list.

Now, bearing in mind that wondrous items are often subtle twists on the spells used to create them, I look at guidance and moment of greatness – they both have similar effects, not the same as the latter is more generic. As it is more generic, I think you could lose guidance (and so lose one of the auras) and just rely on moment of greatness to cover this aspect of your item.

Slot Line
Slot – a known slot, perfectly formatted, indicating that the “shadow” is a cloak – I hope so as it is not clear in the description. When things are worn, we should know what basic garment/item they are ;)

Price – perfectly formatted, feels about right from the effects in the description. It should be nice and low like this due to the use of low level spells. However, you lost your commas in the cost entry at the end of the item.

Weight – I suspect this one is what the voters would refer to as a “preview fail” - the weight subtitle part isn’t bold and you have a double dash instead of a single one. I think cloaks do tend to have a weight, but I actually like “no weight” for this item as it is very fitting with the item as described.

Everyone please note, I have been lenient about commenting on a submission before I posted my review a couple of times now, but that may not last, you have all been warned.

Firstly, and most importantly, I sighed when I saw your description. It is best described as a wall of text, no paragraph breaks makes items hard to read when voting on them. It can also slow things at the gaming table when someone is scanning for a specific effect. To give the best impression of your item, you need at minimum two paragraph breaks in an item description.

The first should separate the lead in physical description and the start of the first (most exciting and major) power/effect of the item.

The second should separate the major benefit of the item from “the rest” – the rest being minor boring benefits, recharge mechanisms, expiry of effects, etc.

So I broke your entry down to review it better…

A diaphanous, dark haze, a sibling's shadow is literally crafted from shadow stuff and

Okay, I think you should lose the second “a” just before the item name, and wasn’t at all keen on the term “shadow stuff” – just lose “stuff” and say it is made from shadow.

… as long as it is worn the wearer is considered to be in dim light.

This is a nice power that was buried in the description, I think it should be the start of the first paragraph following the description and should lead into the reveal/cast off/flash power that is much cooler than the competence bonus.

Wearing the shadow confers a +1 competence bonus on all saves and Stealth checks.

Boring, move it after the following power.

As a standard action the shadow can be cast off, causing a brilliant burst of light that causes all creatures in the area to make a DC14 Reflex save or be dazzled for 1d4 rounds, and gives the wearer a +1 moral bonus on all attacks, damage, skill checks, and saving throws against fear effects for the remainder of the encounter. The shadow is destroyed in the process.

Does it really cause each creature to make their save? :P Better and consistent wording is to “require” all creatures to “succeed at” a DC 14 Reflex save or be dazzled for 1d4 rounds.

Well done on capitalising the save type but I still need that space between DC and its number!

Also, as it gets destroyed on activation, it is totally a consumable item, that is a major price dropper when pricing the item, so the price could have been dropped to around half of its current price.

It must be worn for 24 hours before this ability can be used.

Another pet peeve of the voters is recharge / attunement – why does it need to be worn for 24 hours? It’s a magical cloak of darkness that covers you the instant you wear it, so no recharge needed. If it’s worn, it works while being worn. Keep it simple.

I was left with one niggle, can it be taken off once worn or does that trigger the burst of light? I would probably rule it can, but I did wonder. This is probably due to the mechanism to trigger, when I come in from the wet, I cast off my wet cloths quickly so it could be argued that a more definite trigger should be described. I hope that makes sense.

Template use on this line is so close to perfect, you got the feat right, the spells italicised and alphabetically ordered and then messed up the cost format by omitting the thousands comma. So close!

The creator must be fey kind of smacks of tying a tenuous item more firmly to the first world challenge requirement. There are shadowy areas of the first world where shadows move and be touched and interacted with. It is definitely in the nature of this strange, wonderful, and compelling setting.

I would say that by adding this requirement, you show you were worried that your link to the first world is tenuous – and then effectively pointed it out to me. When a competition or a work requirement as a freelancer leaves you nervous that you are not fulfilling the full requirements – take a step back, rethink and maybe rework.

In this case, I think it is a fitting item, on the edges of the requirement for sure, but close enough to qualify without this extra creation requirement.

A few template issues marred a quite compelling item. The wall of text hurts it badly. It took me a while to “gird my loins” to review it.

I looked back at the name, sibling doesn't seem part of the description in any way. Gah!

I hope you found something useful in the above.

Template Fu is currently up to date with submissions…

Not long till Friday’s deadline now folks!

Belabras wrote:
How did I not bold Weight?

*point munch*... dunno...*chew*...grin...*swallow*

Someone forget to preview maybe? :P

Now we have the Charmcloak Brooch

Name Line
Perfectly formatted, no weird tags, and all bold. Nice.

Ok, from the name, I am expecting something to do with enchantment charm, on a brooch that clasps a cloak around the wearer’s neck. On scanning the description, I do get such a thing, but there is no hint to the main cool power of the item in the name, which means this item runs the risk of “what was that item called again?” stumbling blocks during game play.

I am also not sure about joining charm and cloak into a single word, the Superstar voters might react adversely to this sort of naming, it's also a little clunky to read out loud and consistently splits into two words when spoken aloud. One to be careful of I think.

Aura Line
Perfect template use on this line, well done.

So we have illusion as the aura, faint is the perfect strength for the spell, however the duration of one hour is a little problematical. The spell invisibility has duration of 1 min per level, so I would need to be a 60th level caster to get an hour from it.

The item itself has immense utility during combats, which often last for 10-15 rounds for a major battle, so minutes in this case would make more sense for a duration - 3 minutes at 10 rounds per minute for a 3rd level caster equals 30 rounds - which is probably plenty long enough for most encounters.

I understand that by making it an hour long, you are trying to give non-combat utility to the item, but secret chest is a better in game option for longer hiding of stuff - as described later in the description review...

Slot Line
Perfect template use again.

Your slot choice and item weight are consistent with existing brooch items, this consistency is noted by the voting public, so well done on that.

Checking the price tables for wondrous items in the 7,000 range, we find prices of 7,000, 7,200, 7,250, 7,400, 7,500, and then 8,000 – which means the price you quote sets a new price point. As there is a greater variation of prices in the existing items at this level, I don’t think this price would be a problem for the voters and scanning the items at those price points, you actually offer something different and unique at that pricing, so that is good too.

I think I would actually have set the price to 7,500 gp (adjusting the cost to be half that) to marry up to two existing items, but in this case, I am not bothered by the price, it is double the cost and it feels right for the item and effects.

The description is short, evocative and tells me exactly what the item looks like, I can picture it easily in my mind’s eye. That said, the description does fall into a potential trap – it describes and “animation” of the object when the magic is triggered, the leaf closing over the eye.

The problem with this is that having scanned the entire description, it is not clearly indicated when the leaf reopens again – does it stay closed for the duration of the effect (i.e. it can’t see the item so neither can anyone else), or is it mimicking the wink activation?

So we have an activation of “Command word”… now the core rules specifically calls out command words as a method of activation, and as far as I can tell through PRD searching is that wondrous item descriptions are worded with “Activating the…”, “On activation…” etc. So, I already start feeling uneasy seeing this old school activation description, let’s keep going…

Secondly there is a wink, which also places the item into “Use-Activated”. I can’t think of or find an item that is both command word and use activated. It feels clunky and actually a little silly… “rogue spots chest on table, winks at it, chest disappears, pal walks in and asks who or what the rogue is winking at”. By winking, you are making the activation of the item much easier to spot in game, so I would lose that part.

Now, the fact the use can see the item breaks the invisibility spell rule… “neither you nor your allies can see the subject, unless you can normally see invisible things or you employ magic to do so.”. Now, wondrous items are special items that subtly break rules for specific cases, so after considering that you might have added true seeing as a construction spell, I think that this special case is not a major problem.

But, you then go on to describe the item becoming non-interactable, almost ethereal in effect. Interacting with invisible things grants a saving throw, so making the enemy fighters sword go invisible, it feels odd that he doesn’t still feel the item weight still in his hands, or does he drop it because he cant interact with it. Has it become ethereal?

This part of the power needs something in the construction, maybe utilising secret chest which puts things onto the ethereal plane, in fact secret chest would be a better choice as it would explain both not being able to see the target item and that you can’t interact with it. The fighter wouldn't feel the sword because he simply isn't holding it anymore. It would also remove the need for the brooch wearer to see the item, as the brooch wearer can retrieve the item from the secret chest at any time per the spell effect.

The very last line could be where you add something about the leaf opening.

Not a lot to say here, perfect template use, cost is half the price. There is nothing here the voters would find wrong with the item.

A perfectly formatted entry that has some great fun potential in game play. I could definitely see myself voting for this one a lot had it been an actual entry in the competition.

Next one up for the Template Fu treatment is the Sibling’s Shadow…

oh, and ONE WEEK left to challenge submission closing date…

I'll be posting the next review tomorrow.

You have just 10 days left to submit before the deadline, inclusive of today.

Due to time zone differences, on the last day for submission, I will post a 4-hour and 1-hour warning on the thread to make it easy for all to know when submission closure is imminent. I will do this for each and every challenge.

Just two weeks to Challenge 1 submission deadline folks!

Okay, here goes the first entry, hopefully in some semblance of structured order… and I may make mistakes, so do jump in and correct me if you spot anything obvious. I will also be reviewing with a mind set of how the item might fare as an actual Superstar entry, so there will be some mention of voting public, perceptions of the competition and the like.

Name Line
An easy to remember name (good) giving a clue to what the item is or does (very good), it just isn’t very exciting (keep working on it – naming is hard).

Uses the overused “of the” construct, one to be wary of as some Superstar voters do not like such names and so it can be a deciding factor for some people up-voting your submissions.

Aura Line
Perfect template use on this line, well done.

You have an item requiring 4 spells to create. Eyebite is by far the strongest spell at 6th level requiring an 11th level wizard to cast, so CL is perfect.

As the strongest spell, it should be the overriding aura over the lesser spells. You could include them all, with three listed as faint and one as moderate, but just showing the moderate aura is a good choice - BUT - the aura of eyebite is necromancy and not transmutation!

Also, I couldn’t find in Paizo products/PRD searches – Bestow Fortune – I think you meant Borrow Fortune? I did the search this way as most voters who check spells will search for them in this way. So always double check your spells are official Paizo spells and that they can be found on the PRD by searching on the name of the spell in the PRD search box.

Slot Line
Perfect template use on this line, well done.

The price feels a little high to me for what the item does. Pricing is one of the hardest things to do on a wondrous item, being a mix of hard maths and gut feel instinct.

You should also notice that wondrous item prices are normally rounded to nearest 10, 100, 500, 1000 and often don’t include the material cost unlike weapons, armor, etc. So at minimum, I think you should have shown the price as 30,000 and cost of 15,000.

I can see this price dropping some. One trick to check your pricing is look at items at the same price – at 30k, we have ioun stones, drums of panic, amulet of natural armor +4, so yeah, currently I think this is slightly overpriced and would sit better around the 15,000 to 20,000 mark.

Weight - this is the same as quoted for mask of the skull, so you did well checking your weight matches existing items of the same type. Very well done there.

Excluding the effects table, the lead in description is fully half of the description and rules text, it should be no more than a couple of lines at best. I would also argue that by saying the mask covers the entire head, this is more of a hood than a mask.

I am confused a bit by the location of the three faces, do they overlay each other allowing the see through all eyes or do they can appear on 3 of the 4 sides of the hood? I am thinking the latter because of the all-around vision aspect, but would have expected four faces to be truly all-around.

The first power is definitely the coolest one to describe in this instance as the remaining “powers” are all spell in a can and because they are unrelated start to fall into the swiss army knife of item. The best multi-function items keep a tight theme on all the powers they offer, so this one would likely be regarded as swiss army knife by the voting public.

Now, tying the special extra options to being a worshipper of a given deity places quite a restriction on the global appeal of an item and it feels to me like it was added to strength the tie to the first world theme.

That said, you have a good first world feel due to the interchangeable facets of the three faces, in synergy with the constant flux of the first world, so I think the deity aspect can be safely removed.

What is meant by which face is worn, do you mean how the mask is placed with whatever face is the forward face? Should it matter? If you can see out of all faces, then that face can use its power when you choose it as you can see out of it at all times?

A simpler restriction is to only allow targets to be selected by which face(s) have line of effect to them, the orientation of how the mask/hood is worn must then be stated by the player.

The item also suffers from “attunement” / “recharge” mechanisms, which again is looked on negatively by a few of the regular voting public in the competition. If you remove the hood, everything ends, when you put it on, the powers are immediately available – keep it simple.

The formatting of the table is also off – spells are always italicised and non-capitalised like in the requirement line. I think if you say only one power can be active at any time, including derivative effects, then you shouldn’t need to effectively repeat the restriction of the glyph of warding entry.

Template use on this line if formatted well, but…

“Craft Wondrous Item” feat name is not plural!

Since the three faces require three of the spells, and the all round vision is accounted for by countless eyes, you actually need all four spells to create the item, so get rid of that annoying “three of the following:” text.

This is a nice entry that has a first world vibe, which was unfortunately mired with a few component part name issues, a misnamed spell and trying to do a little too much in a single item.

If you drop completely the multi face power aspect and just have a simple but effective hood that gives all round vision and allows actions during surprise rounds, its price will drop a lot and it would become a simpler and more elegant item.

If you want to keep the face aspect in some way, consider having a single power which requires all faces to chant in unison, sing, or cackle to enact it.

I hope you found something useful in the above.

Next one up for the Template Fu treatment is the CharmCloak Brooch…

oh, and tomorrow, the closing challenge warning goes out! ;)

I will start reviewing in a couple of days, I just need to complete re-reading of the firstworld sourcebook first so that I can review from a firm footing.

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Issue index has now been updated to include this issue.

You can view it from here - unless Google share messes up. :P

Total Wayfinder articles now available for free: 578
Total Wayfinder contributers to date: 384

Most contributions - Author credits : Tied at 20 a-piece, Neil Spicer and Jeff Lee
Most contributions - Artist credits : Carlos Torreblanca with 46 credits, Liz Courts firmly in second position with 40.

Review to follow starting in approximately two weeks, after reading it to enjoy and digest, and then reading it again in review mode.

Nice, two submissions for my weekend already. Thanks.

Mask of the Three - 193 words
Charmcloak Brooch - 172 words

Yes, I'm checking! :P

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Much cleaner indeed!

You missed a few formatting items though...

the first para should show start with the item in lower italics including the base item...

"At the tang of this anchoring exhausting adamantine mancatcher lies..."

second para, italicise the spell and remove the preceding "a" and following "spell". Capitalise the save type and shorten it as we know what it is a save against from the prior line.

"This mancatcher can grapple anyone of any size regardless of the size of the weapon. Once the wielder of this mancatcher manages to grapple someone with this weapon, they can let go of the weapon and treat the weapon and the person inside it as if they were under the effects of telekinesis. A DC 22 Will save negates."

para three, consistent wording on saves, and don't forget to capitalise the save type... a slight rewording to save words, it probably could be better, but I think it shows how revisiting a day or so later will allow you to catch and tighten verbose areas.

"...A DC 22 Will save negates. Failing the save imparts a profane bonus to the same ability score of the target equal to the penalty that would have been inflicted."

Construction line spells should be lower italics...

Requirements Craft Magic Weapons and Armor, greater bestow curse, telekinesis; Cost 48,912 gp

Example feedback can be seen here. :D

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Okay, using recent item rules, the word count of the above is 347 words, 47 words over limit and so would be automatically disqualified from the competition.

Templating Issues first...

Title - Defiler's Maw should be in bold.
Aura - nothing should be capitalised and should end with a ";" after transmutation
Slot - well done for using none instead of dash, but it needs to end with a semicolon again :)
Price - seems quite expensive on first glance - this often happens when applying the pricing rules religiously - I would check against existing items of similar power to see if there are some price reductions that can be applied. GP should be lower case in price (and cost)
Weight is missing - even if there is no weight, the weight label should be present with a weight entry of emdash. That said, what is the weight of a standard mancatcher - it should at least match that.

Quick scan of description -

Description Header is missing.
first paragraph - the whole of the item should be italicised, not just the modifiers
second paragraph - spell name should be slower case and italicised. Word confusion - affect / effect - when you are affected by something you are under its effect's :D - so you need the word effect and not affect. The Will in the save line should be capitalised.
third paragraph - as with normal/as with regular - reword this para so the duplication can be removed.
fourth paragraph - save capitalisation again, also spells should be italicised - also check existing save wording - you can merge two lines here saving quite a few words.

Construction section next

Header is present
Spells should be italicised, well done on getting them alphabetically ordered, that ordering is often missed.
Terminating ";" is missing again.
Cost is half of price - however with weapons this is not the normal calculation due to components item prices being included in the cost which are not doubled into the price. So I would have expected something like 96,912 for the price, as you have - assuming 912 is the material costs etc, then the cost would be 48,912 and not 48,456. This is a weapon, so the rules are slightly different to wondrous items.

okay, back to the description and effects.

Paragraph 1 - try to avoid like, similar and such words - be definite in your description, we don't want to know what something is like, we want to know what it is. The first paragraph is the place for description, materials etc so well done there but this description is way too long at 64 words - that's quite a chunk out of the 300 word limit. I personally start to worry if my description hits 50 words, and am uncomfortable at 40 words or more.

Paragraph 2 - the DC should be based on the spell and caster levels so should be calculated and quoted - by leaving it to the GM to determine, you are adding more work to an over worked player - don't do that when it can be avoided.

I like the idea of having a weapon that pins an opponent and can be left pinning them while you go deal with other threats - it could be a great way to catch someone alive for later interrogation.

Paragraph 3 - I actually think this is adding extra complexity that might get in the way of a smooth flowing combat scene. The magic of the item is being able to be left untended and should not really affect the escape from the item unless there was something magical about the grappling of the foe. I think this whole paragraph can be dropped, let the existing rules cover escape from the item.

Paragraph 4 feels like a bolt on which leads to swiss army knife syndrome. I think if paragraph 3 is dropped, then this is probably okay. the wording does need some juggling as it is a bit bloated and non standard with regards existing save wording. I also think it is the major contributor to the cost.

If you drop the third and fourth paragraphs, you then have a nice weapon to pin opponents in place and be left untended. It would be simple, concise and eminently useable with a pricing point fitting nicely at the lower cost brackets of the game.

There you go, hope some of that is useful.

So you can experience deadlines :P....

Challenge 1 - Two Week closure warning is scheduled for Friday 20th January 2017 - (12 days away at time of posting).

Challenge 1 - Closes on Friday 3rd February 2017 - (26 days away at time of posting).

the next two weeks will be reviewing and feedback posting for me and everyone else who wants to join in.

Challenge 2 - Announcement will be on Friday 17th February 2017.

It's probably worth mentioning that you cant get eliminated if you take part and you can dive in and out of every "round" that get's scheduled. So you have a great opportunity to try many different design tasks over the course of this thread.

Each round will have a theme of some sort, and I am hopefully choosing popular areas for you to play in, design for and enjoy.

One thing I missed in the rules of the round

I will only review your first submission in each round, no multiple submissions please.

That way everyone gets a fair go. If you have multiple submissions, pick your best for this thread, and by all means add the remainder to the blazing 9 thread for peer feedback. Its a great thread to practice in and a lot of old faces and winners pop in there offering advice and feedback! :)

I thought about separate threads, but I suspect other Superstar machines will probably create their own thread and link back to this one. I have no problem with that - it is very much in the spirit of the annual threads anyways ;)

I decided not to split the challenges up, so that way you only need to bookmark the one thread. We will see how it goes and if it becomes a problem, I can always link from the end of one thread to the beginning of the next as each challenge gets made seems a good point for that if we go that way. I also didn't want to flood the superstar forums with even more threads too.

So let's suck it and see as they say. :D

And yeah, I have archives of all the rules threads and templates for every year, so challenges will include some templating examples - the only problem is I cannot stop the forums acting on the bb codes which is why the format example looks formatted in the post. >.<

As for the prize line, I am still considering some sort of "pick a Paizo product up to 10 bucks if I choose you as my "Challenge Favorite" - just need to do some sums and see what sort of response we get here. So that may yet change to "some sort of prize entirely at my whim"! :P

I will probably use my normal TemplateFu feedback template I used during the competition, everyone else is entirely welcome to follow it, your suggestion or make up their own. The important thing is to provide feedback. Well.... and to have a go as well! :D

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Template Fu Challenge: Design a Fey/First World Wondrous Item

Design a compelling wondrous item, in 200 words or less, for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, using the Item Creation guidelines on page 548 of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook.

The wondrous item must be suitable for a Fey/First World based campaign. Those submitting items for review are encouraged to look at the Campaign Setting supplement The First World, Realm of the Fey for inspiration. Do not post "generic" items, the item must be closely tied to the Fey/First World

Entries must be submitted to this thread until such time as a "Challenge Closed" message is posted by TemplateFu. Submissions posted after the closure post will not be reviewed. A two week warning post will be made prior to the challenge closed post.

The entire submission, including the title, must not exceed 200 words. Oh yeah, real old school word count for this one - grin. This word limit includes all formatting code. The post must contain the submission only and no other messages, qualifying texts, explanations or anything else. Each submission must stand alone for review.

Do not follow your submission with any such qualifying additional posts either, you must wait to comment only after review and feedback is given. If your submission is not left standalone, it will not be reviewed by TemplateFu.

Forum posts include a Preview button to view what your submission will look like. Please use it before submitting for review.

Use the presentation for magic items found in the Wondrous Items section of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook (page 496).

You should not use ALL CAPS for any part of your wondrous item submission, even when it appears that is used in the core rulebook. That is just a font, so don't make things all caps, keep it reader and reviewer friendly.

"ZZ" is a placeholder to indicate you should replace that text with appropriate information for your wondrous item.

When posted, your base format should look similar to this...

Aura ZZstrength ZZschool; CL ZZth
Slot ZZslot; Price ZZ gp; Weight ZZ lbs.
Requirements ZZfeats, ZZspells, ZZotherrequirements; Cost ZZ gp

NOTE: You must use the format from the Core Rulebook, not the graphical magic item format used in Ultimate Equipment.

DISQUALIFICATION: Submissions may not be reviewed by TemplateFu for the following reasons:

  • Submission is not a wondrous item.
  • Submission is not tied to the Fey/First World requirement.
  • Submission was posted after the "Challenge Closed" post for this challenge.
  • Submission exceeds 200 words.
  • Submission is not formatted per the Core Rulebook format.
  • Submission does not conform to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
  • Submission is not standalone, has qualifying additional posts made prior to review feedback posts.
  • Submission is copied from a previously published source.
  • Submission has been previously submitted to RPG Superstar.
  • Submission uses rules, monsters, or copyrighted material from publishers other than Paizo.

On your marks...

Get Set...


This Challenge is now OPEN

This challenge is open to ANYONE - this includes previous winners and finalists, it includes Paizo staff and freelancers, absolutely anyone is welcome to have a try.


I look forward to reviewing your submissions.

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While we all are sad or disappointed about Superstar being on hiatus, and while we all understand the reasons behind it, I think one of the things that we are saddest about is the sense of loss of community, of not being engaged with voting, assessing, talking design openly.

The community mind set is vast and always produced so many divergent thoughts and ideas that every designer, want to be, new, and old, always learnt something from it.

As someone who has taken part in every season of superstar, starting as a "fan boi", progressing through the years and feedback threads, creating a recognised alias for feedback, I thought to myself

"As a community member, I surely can keep the spirit alive and the community engaged in some way."

So here it is.

This thread is similar to blazing 9, it is kind of a round by round thread where Template Fu, yours truly, is offering some of his free time to critique designs you post to this thread.

Please note that I have a full time job, and am a freelancer, so that free time is limited. This means that I can only review 5-10 submissions a week, usually at weekends, so I request that you only submit something for review if you have every intent of becoming a freelancer/games designer.

Even with that, it is unlikely I will get to review everything, so I invite my fellow superstar forum members to this thread to help keep the designing fun alive and well.

I have only made top 100 in superstar, so my feedback is neither official, nor always correct - it is just guidance in the hope you find something useful in what is said on your designs. And if I do get something wrong, I am happy for you to tell me - so I can continue to learn and grow too!

As I have always maintained through the years, my feedback is always on your design, nothing is personal - I do promise open and honest feedback, even if it might hurt because that is what is best for everyone, open and honest feedback.

My requests for submissions may venture into Starfinder at some point, but for now, I am going to stick with Pathfinder. Around once every month or so, the design task will change giving everyone an opportunity to try their hand at many of the Superstar rounds that have taken place over the last ten years.

I will always endeavour to give a good focus to the thread challenges, maybe picking particular products as your research starting point. The next post I make will be the initial design challenge.

There is no prize or voting in this thread, it is purely a place to discuss design tasks in depth and keep our superstar community alive. Now, I know that posting stuff on Paizo open forums means you are surrendering ownership of that which you post, so if you don't want to do that, I quite understand and fully respect your decision.

That said, having met the people at Paizo, I would expect with their highly professional manner that if you did post something here that they liked and wanted to use, they would approach you directly about it.

I may post the odd thing myself for you to review by return, but the main purpose of this thread is for TemplateFu to keep his claws sharp and his belly full :D

... kidding.

No, really it's for us all to continue to learn and grow as designers and to keep the Superstar community alive and well. I hope you make use of my offer.

I have only one request - please, really, really please, use the templates. Format your entry.

I know we all get antsy about badly formatted entries, but the reason I ask is a simple one... a badly formatted entry will pull my focus away from the actual design and most of your feedback will be "didn't use the template".

It is much easier to critique a properly formatted submission which means that I can review more of them in the same amount of time. Thank you so much in advance.

The challenge posts will always be all bold so that you can see when a new challenge starts. I will also post an all bold "challenge closes in two weeks" post and a "challenge closed" post so that you can have some deadline practice too. Each new challenge will then be made approximately 7-10 days after each challenge closed post to allow everyone I time to catch up reviewing those last minute submissions.

So, watch for my next post, it will be our first design challenge. I think I have a good one, and yes, for old times sake, and as a nod to the Superstar we know and love, it will be for wondrous items.

I'm coming back for a second trip!

There are still people to meet, things to see and things to do - like praying to the god of random selection for the events lottery :P

Still lots of Seattle to see too! So I'm doing the couple days either side thing again.

Thinking about writing "A Wayfinder Journey" describing my experiences with Wayfinder since issue 8. The highs and lows, the things I learnt, how it opens doors as a writer, meeting Paris and Tim at Paizocon 9, and all of that sort of thing.

My only concern is if a reflection on my writing journey with Wayfinder would be of interest to anyone but me. What do you guys and gals (editors and the community in general) think? Would this be a suitable article? Would you be interested in such an article?

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Sorry it's been a while, but I am now getting back to finishing the bestiary review. I will start posting those up on Saturday 3rd December.

Once that is done, I am going to gather up all my reviews and reformat them to a single page on my blog site which I will link when they are all up and done - there will be a Reviews section on there, with Wayfinder being the first subsection.

This is to allow you the comfort of reading the whole review without needing to jump around and scroll to different pages/forum posts.

Thanks for your patience.

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If you have access to a 3d printer, this site has lots of stl models of different space ships, some free, some not. All printable to whatever scale floats your boat. Enjoy.

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Snorter wrote:

Are there some new names on that list?

I do believe there are.

Indeed there are, congratulations to all and a big welcome to the new talent appearing for the first time, namely...

Baker, Kate
Banach, Matt
Breitmaier, Dave
Forrester, Jon
Hargrave, Violet
Hersh, Jeffrey
Hite, Nicholas
Jolly, Brian
Litchfield, Zack
Taft, Jeff
Watt, Calvin
Youngblood, Kelly

Now you all get to enjoy the editing experience AND the long, long, long, loooooooong wait for release day! :P

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The Shadow of Freedom
Now we have the last of the short stories for this issue, set in the mist enshrouded, cobbled streets of Maashinelle. The location, a tavern, closed, after hours, a meeting, and a betrayal. This story clearly sets out to illustrate the seedy undertones and machinations of the less than savory residents of the river kingdoms. It is dark, moody and atmospheric. There is some good character interaction in this story, and the ending left me wondering what happens next.

The art work, a top third page wide panel, depicts the three main protagonists of the story in the inn at the moment of betrayal and treachery. Although accurately representing a pivotal point of the story, it felt to me a little unfinished...

– the bartenders apron, flat and monotone with no shading to depict the flexibility and undulation of such a garment, it looks like a flat cardboard panel hanging from the trouser belt
– the blue cape on the lady, the inside should have deeper shades the closer the cape is to her body to give that sense of depth
– uniform lighting from a single candle, there should have been deeper shadows and shades the farther out from the candle
– maybe some shadows being cast on the floor by the individual nearest to the light source.

These niggling things gave the impression that time was running out for submitting the piece and that final shading and detailing pass of art didn’t get completed. A shame, it showed real potential to be a magnificent piece.
Article: 8/10, Art: 6/10

The Witch-Tree Sacrifices: A Side Trek Adventure
And now a side trek adventure by one of the magazine’s editors no less! Rolls up sleeves :P

Actually, there is a very great deal to interest players and GMs in this offering – I love the idea of a town clock causing a town to fade in and out of existence, that really grabbed me from paragraph one.

It is very fey based, so those with a love of all things fey will truly get a kick out of this adventure. Time has also been considered in the design, a race against a time limit is a great way to add tension to the party as they race to save the day.

This is a fine example of a well constructed adventure, it has a reason why the adventures would get involved, it has time and elements built into the encounter areas and the adventure as a whole. It introduces some commonly used fey along with those not used so often and uses them in surprising ways.

My only concern, minor though it is, was with the selection of creatures on the ritual sacrifices tables – now, it did use Bestiaries 2, 3, 4 and the Game Mastery Guide and NPC Codex – all of these entries readily available via the on line PRD


One of the creatures was from an Adventure Path – which may not yet have made the PRD bestiary lists. I would expect that most people taking the free magazine might not have access to all the bestiaries, adventure paths, modules, setting supplements etc., so do please try to ensure any creature you use is easily found on the PRD online or detail them enough to run them as part of the adventure.

In this case, the table is more an order of sacrifice / scene setting list, so isn’t quite so important, but do consider your selections and try to satisfy the broadest audience you can.

So we have an excellently constructed adventure, did the art meet the challenge laid down by the words – oh my yes. The maps are gorgeous, beautiful renditions of clearings in wild places, the trees marvellously rendered and all subtly different – no cut and repeat paste on these trees. The attention to detail is quite breathtaking.

I am not going to spoil the adventure for players reading this article, but suffice to say, next time someone asks me how to construct an adventure for Wayfinder, I know which one I shall point to.
Article: 10/10, Art: 10/10

Wow, another 10 out of 10 for words and art – this issue is rocking it!

Review running total so far: 49,997 characters, or 8,721 words. 40 articles have now been reviewed in depth. There is just 1 article remaining to be reviewed – the bestiary selection.

For this last article I intend to review each creature in turn rather than as a whole article thus providing some feedback directly to all of the authors whose creatures got selected. I will score the bestiary as a whole as well, purely for my index sheet ;)

There are 8 creatures in this issues bestiary. These reviews will follow shortly.

Woodlands and Waterways
Next up, new regional spells, from the Wilds we are presented with 1 illusion, 1 divination, 1 abjuration, and 3 transmutation spells, and from the Outsea region, 2 conjuration spells. Cherry picking from these, I liked False Trail – the diametric opposite of Pass Without Trace – my bad guys will be using this one when leading the PCs on a merry chase. Water Sprint is a variant of Lily Pad Stride, and I imagined my PCs fleeing water boatmen style running across lakes and rivers in haphazard fashion. All in all, I liked the mixed bag of spells and what they each offer in variety to adventures in watery wilderness.

The art depicts an adventurer utilising Water Sprint to escape a beastie rather reminiscent of an Otyugh. A full page width color illustration that fits the spell pretty well, my only concern was that it looks like the adventurers feet are submersed rather than running across the water surface as I would have expected.
Article: 8/10, Art: 8/10

The Hundred Cuisines of the Hundred Kingdoms
An unusual gazetteer type of article now, dealing with the regional foods and delicacies found through the river kingdoms. These sorts of article, so often found in Wayfinder, really add depth to a region in so many interesting and diverse ways. Being a bit of a foodie, I really liked the article and wished that some of the things described had been provided as actual recipes – man they sound so tasty. There are so many ways you can use this article – stuck when the PCs ask the barman what foods are on offer – problem solved.

The art shows an almost harvest festival table display of many of the foodstuffs described. I loved the variety of texture and color the artist managed to exhibit through this diverse display of subject matter. This is certainly another favorite piece for me.
Article: 9/10, Art: 9/10

Wardrobe of the River Kings
Next up is an interesting collection of magical items leaning towards regal dress and appearance. There are some 14 items in total, ranging from crowns, gloves, rings, mantles, maces, sashes to braziers, and weapons, providing us with a whole assortment of useful dressings for PC and NPC alike. The very last item, a crown, fell into a common trap when dealing with curses. It states that the crown can only be removed by the use of miracles and wishes but intimating that the spell remove curse wouldn’t work, however that spell is specifically designed to deal with curses and cursed item removal. A minor thing, but worth mentioning.

There are three pieces of art accompanying the article, one scene and two item renditions. The scene is line art, allowing those with creativity to color it themselves – it depicts a man paying obeisance to a religious dignitary. The second is a very ornate rendition of the goblet item in the collection – including unicorn motif. And the third is a very nice representation of the tome of the collection – what I like here is that there is no label or title on the tome allowing me to reuse the illustration to my heart’s content!
Article: 8/10, Art: 9/10

Weal or Woe: The Misfits of Wilkesmont
The last of this issues weal or woe articles introduces us to a female tiefling and a female aasimar. The writer plays off of how a tiefling may be feared unjustly by those around them, the worry about smiling at children at play proving a poignant point. The sensitivity shown by the author and promoted through this description is very well done indeed.

Counterpointing this sensitivity is a quite vindictive when provoked aasimar. This one counterpoints the separatism of the tiefling description with an all-inclusive smothering of a child during their formative years and the effect that may have on that child. This counterpoint between the two protagonists of the article I think is the essence of a weal or woe article and this one is a good example of when it is done right.

There are two full body renditions of the two protagonists, both of which tap into this underlying theme of the article. The tiefling seems almost shy and vulnerable, whereas the aasimar cries out worship me, don’t cross me. The art, coupled with the article provides one of the best weal or woes seen in Wayfinder so far and sets the bar very high for forthcoming issues.
Article: 10/10, Art: 10/10

Review running total so far: 46,150 characters, or 8,038 words. 38 articles have now been reviewed in depth. There are just 3 articles remaining to be reviewed. These will follow shortly.

Personal Scrivener’s Guild
Next we have a new organization for Golarion. The services provided allow the game master to provide yet another avenue for PCs wishing to hide identities, hide from their hunters or enemies, and so on. The provision of false identity, not always reliant on magical transformation it seems is a booming business in the River Kingdoms, and this organization is one of those where you do think “why isn’t this in the core setting for this region?”

The article presents all the relevant sections needed to detail an organization and the 3 npc’s detailed provide a wonderful look into the hierarchy and internal workings of the organization. I also love one of the names – but beware, I am king of making bad names, I really loved the name Quickfinger – so stealing that for my next rogue.

The artwork is a nice color panel that really conveys the “legitimate and innocent” cover portrayed by the organization. I particularly liked all the settings around the central image, the pots of varying hues, the wall shelves festooned with different materials. This piece is a great accompaniment for the article.
Article: 9/10, Art: 9/10

Matters of Faith
A quite grisly story greets us now, full of the darker side of life in the River Kingdoms. I really liked the pacing of this one, that you come to care about the main character and understand and feel what they feel, that the creeping horror is revealed layer by layer. There is a real slow burn leading up to a wonderful twisted ending that is quite enthralling.

This is a very good example of telling a horror themed story and is wonderfully entwined with the setting of the River Kingdoms. I can’t say much more without revealing the plot, so go read this one, you will enjoy it immensely if you like dark and sinister tales.

The art is quite surreal, another almost water color piece with very dark tones and grisly scene. It fits the story absolutely perfectly, evoking the imagery of the tail of the tale. I liked this one because it has so aptly been designed to illicit the feelings and imagery of the story itself. Very well done.
Article: 10/10, Art: 9/10

Reformer: A Religious Prestige Class
A religious prestige class – one which doesn’t tie you down to being one of the divine classes – any class could take this prestige class once the requirements are met. This has universal appeal for that reason and is a strong selling point for the prestige class. It made me want to look deeper, so I did.

Reformed Obedience has one little thing that scares me a little, no cap on the increasing bonus., starting at +3 for 1st level, then +1 for every two levels from second, so another +10 by level 20 netting a bonus of +13 – I probably would have restricted this to a maximum of some sort, maybe +10, most likely +5 as by the time you get to level 20, you don’t really need +13 skill bonuses as your skills will already be pretty good. A simple fix would be to increase every 4 levels, giving us a maximum of +8.

A lot of the powers are very heavy on the role play rather than the roll play – so depending on how immersive your role play is at your table, this prestige class could provide many moments of role play fun. Three npc’s are detailed towards the end of the article, providing a good insight into how this class can be applied to both divine and non-divine characters, the third being rogue based.

The art is a full body piece showing an elven variant of the prestige class. It didn’t grab me as much as the other art pieces, quite angular and almost manga like – I can’t quite put my finger on what it is about this art piece that is wrong because there isn’t anything obviously wrong, it just feels off and not quite “Golarion”. Sorry, but that’s my gut reaction to it. It is a nice piece, it just didn’t feel right.

Article: 9/10, Art: 7/10

Review running total so far: 41,807 characters, or 7,296 words. 34 articles have now been reviewed in depth. There are just 7 articles remaining to be reviewed. These will follow in shortly.

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Sound of a Thousand Whispers
I wasn’t quite sure how to categorize this next piece. It comprises three linked parts consisting of a background short, a new haunt and a magic items section. The whole article centers on a nymph who defended the wilderness of the Thousand Voices. I think here that too much was being attempted in one single article as the background felt too short, I wanted more of the history of the nymph and maybe some of the things she did to protect the wilderness. The haunts and magical items dovetail nicely into what background there is.

I think if the magic items had been separated out into a separate, we could have had a good background for a nice haunt and separately, a supporting article of items (with maybe a couple more items added for good measure). This would have needed prior agreement with the editors though, so I suspect the single submission word wall hit this article hard.

The art is very dark and moody, and so very fitting for the background of the article. My only concern with it is that there are two competing light focuses in the composition. This drew my eyes alternately between the hand and the moon and was quite distracting – I think had the moonlight been more subdued, the desired effect would have been achieved.
Article: 7/10, Art: 8/10

The Hut: A Tavern by the Sellen River
Next we have a very nicely detailed riverside stop-over. The Hut of the article is unusual for most taverns as there is more focus on providing good food and a family like company to visitors. In addition to detailing the proprietress in detail (albeit without a stat block), the thing I found to be missing was a map of the hut. I desperately wanted to see the layout, how many tables and chairs, how big the kitchen, how many berths and rooms available for overnight stay, and so on. With the rich tapestry painted with the words, the lack of map feels like a missed opportunity.

The article ends with a goodly selection of rumors, a collection of tiny plot seeds for the GM to pick up and run with. They all seamlessly integrate into the lore and legend of the Hut of the article.

The art piece is a rendition of what you would see as you are welcomed in through the main entrance. Looking through the doors and windows of the art, the expected volumes of trinkets and decorations seemed to have been missed – this is a shame as the description of the inner decorations was really flavorful in the article itself. Man, why wasn’t there a map…
Article: 9/10, Art: 8/10

“Steady As You Sail”: A Song of the Sellen
Next up we have a song/poem about travelling the river Sellen. I really liked the consistent metre of the stanzas, and the short but catch chorus between stanzas. What was also impressive was that by following the song, you can with map follow the journey of the song along the river. Very nicely done indeed. As is usual with a well-constructed piece, you are left wanting more, and with only the one song of the article, I felt like I needed another one or two at least.

The accompanying art is a wonderful water color style piece of life rafting along the Sellen. It represents the beauty and peace of life on the water and none of the hazards. I liked it, it may not be to everyone’s taste in style, but for me, it fit the article perfectly.
Article: 9/10, Art: 9/10

Review running total so far: 37,946 characters, or 6,606 words. 31 articles have now been reviewed in depth. There are just 10 articles remaining to be reviewed. These will follow in shortly.

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Uringen Advancements in Alchemy
Now we have an alchemist archetype with oodles of Uringen flavor, and a healing chemist vibe. It provides an interesting supportive healing to magical healing. The only power that struck me as odd was replacing poison use with avoiding attacks of opportunity when performing heal checks in combat. The reason it struck me as odd is that many medicines, and some healing techniques are based on the poisons they counter, so taking that away from the healer to simply avoid an attack felt out of place and a little out of balance.

When designing archetypes, one of the hardest things to do is swap powers at equitable level of utility and power. I think this poison swap is possibly detrimental to the aim of the archetype, but that is just my gut feel.

There is also a collection of new discoveries suitable for all alchemists, and not just the archetype presented, each making sense and giving more diversity and flavor to an alchemist character.

The artwork clearly represents the archetype in the process of ministering to a patient, almost mixing the unguents at the moment of application. I loved the dressing style of the alchemist in the art, a mix of swashbuckler and gunslinger replacing blades and guns with vials, potions and chemical pouches.
Article: 8/10, Art: 8/10

The Rats of Canboulon
This next article was quite fascinating, taking ratfolk in an interesting spin – to that of river gypsies, plying trade and mischief along the waterways of the River Kingdoms. Considering the word count limits, the article provides a surprising amount of detail including the vessels they sail in, their society and government, their culture and the antics they get up to. I enjoyed this article immensely and will definitely be introducing these creatures to my players.

The art accompanying the article took me back to my childhood Peter Rabbit books days, it felt like something I would find in those illustrated children’s books. I found this added to the article by depicting how innocent they might look to a newcomer, perhaps aiding them in their acts of mischief or trade.
Article: 9/10, Art: 9/10

Magic Items: Heirlooms of Fallen Kingdoms
And now some river kingdoms inspired magical items for treasure piles and arming up the NPCs with – hey, my NPCs use the treasures! So we have three wondrous items and a magical weapon.

The first wondrous item is a magical hat inspired by a witch’s black pointed hat. I licked this one as it was also on theme with the cackling of our legendary witches.

The second item messes with luck, something very difficult to do and get right. I think for the effect, 1 minute duration is a bit short and limits the use of the item to moments of combat – it could quite safely have been increased to a more useful and impactful duration beyond combat by making it an hour.

The third item I felt would have been more fitting for an Ustalav / Horror themed issue as it was based on carved pumpkin lanterns – especially as the effect is decidedly creepy.

The weapon is a trident that can pin targets, causing bleed every round the target is pinned. The amount of bleed is quite small and as the wielder has to maintain the pin, I am unsure if being “taken out of combat” each round is worth the bleed – I tend to use pinning for capturing opponents alive, so this just didn’t feel right for me.

The accompanying art is of the trident – beautifully rendered from the description, I particularly liked the shaft of twisted steel. I also liked the dried blood effect, almost rust like, on the trident tines.
Article: 8/10, Art: 8/10

Review running total so far: 29,978 characters, or 5,200 words. 23 articles have now been reviewed in depth. Still plenty of the issue left so more review to follow shortly.

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More review coming soon - just had a crazy week overruling all my plans. Sorry.

In the interim, I was populating a spreadsheet with my reviews and realised what I was building was a nice, useful article index...

* furious copy paste to a new sheet to hide the evidence :P *

So, for your patience, on this link is a handy dandy reference to the first five issues. I will keep adding the issues in when I get a spare moment, I thought it might be a good idea to seek feedback and suggestions from those interested enough to download it, in case of major changes needed before I get too far into it.

Shared by google docs, which doesnt seem to offer all the filtering etc I put into the sheet, but does allows you view the data in your browser if you dont have excel.

Sorry, it is an excel sheet with table formatting - meaning if you are using excel and download your own copy then you can filter by issue, by content type, by author, by artist, you can also sort alphabetically by clicking the sort buttons.

This should also allow you to quickly find that favorite article or read everything by your favorite authors, find the art/eye candy from your favorite artists and so on.


Golarion Gazetteer: Lazlo’s Ferry
The next article is a recurring feature of Wayfinder, called a Golarion Gazetteer. It is an article type that takes threads and locations mentioned in passing with little detailing within official products expanding upon them to provide a fully realized location to adventure in. Here we concentrate on Lazlo’s Ferry, near Mivon. I couldn’t find the original reference to this location, normally I can so I suspect this may be just a dot on a map or similar. As a request to the writers and editors for the future issues, can the Golarion Gazetteer articles refer back to their original reference in a foot note or similar?

I like what I see here, it is complete, self-contained and provides an interesting location with a solid and sensible reason for its existence, why it started as a ferry, and the reasons behind the original settlement by the incumbent population. There are a goodly collection of NPCs detailed enough for the GM to use when interacting with the players and there are plot threads aplenty – not just in the adventure hooks portion but throughout the whole article.

The accompanying art portrays three of the NPCs detailed in the article – beautifully colored and rendered.
Article: 9/10, Art: 10/10

Sailing in the River Kingdoms: An ACG Adventure
Next up is a nice article for the Adventure Card game players, taking the card set Skull and Shackles and reworking it to work off the coast of the river kingdoms. I wish it had gone that one step farther, turning the ships into vessels that would operate within the river routes themselves.

So we have two nice linked scenarios that provide a goodly challenge and using just the base set cards, so you don’t need to have collected the whole series to use them.

Two card arts from the base set accompany the article… as existing cards, I cannot really score the art so the art score here is purely a level of satisfaction with the cards chosen to illustrate the article.
Article: 9/10, Art: 8/10

Notable Items of the River Kingdoms
One of my favorite article types next, a collection of magical items and treasures. The collection consists of one wondrous item, and two magical weapons. I worry that the wondrous item is priced a little cheaply for the purpose of affecting a whole river and the population that resides along it – I would need to revisit this and reassess it completely before allowing it into my campaign.

The first weapon has the problem of backstory – now in the old days of dnd, items tended to have backstory but not so now. The problem with backstory is that it enforces setting / NPCs onto the GM and/or makes it harder for him to use the item without reworking the backstory into their campaigns or reworking the item itself. Items, like spells and feats, should be setting neutral in the sense that they do not force the GM to undertake extra work or leave footprints all over their setting.

The second item has the “in possession” problem. What constitutes an item being in possession of the PC? Can they store it at “home” and still benefit from its protections for example? For magical weapons, all powers are assumed to function only while the weapon is wielded, so this optionality introduced by having in possession powers goes against the design norm. If you find yourself doing this, ask yourself, is this a weapon or a wondrous item, be true to the design for each type.
Overall, the items are good, they just need that extra pass and critical reworking of the parts mentioned above to fix them up to really shine.

The accompanying artwork is for the scepter, the second of the weapons, rendering the item description extremely well. I like it, it looks like a weapon that would be easy to wield and give a satisfying crunch when bashing the heads of local evil creatures! ;)
Article: 7/10, Art: 9/10

Review running total so far: 26,340 characters, or 4,576 words. 20 articles have now been reviewed in depth.

High and Low Roads: More River Kingdoms Archetypes
Now we come to some archetypes, more options for players and also for GMs to build diverse and interesting NPC encounters. The first, Repossessor, for the Brawler, is a mercenary in every sense of the word fulfilling a very interesting niche in the River Kingdoms setting. It’s one that really makes sense. There was an element of boring freebie first on the power descriptions with the main exciting feature being presented afterwards – it’s more exciting to see the new stuff first and then get the free feat, etc. at the end.

Next is Road Judge, for the Cavalier. I groaned inwardly as soon as I saw the Order of the Six Freedoms. Now, there is nothing wrong here other than the fact that the freedoms are so inherent to the setting that they get overused and are rapidly becoming a meme. That said another meme is apparent in the special ability names, “Jury and Execution” –the class is a judge, giving us the well-known saying Judge, Jury and Executioner. So looking at these special abilities, I would have played off of “Judge” a bit more, calling the first one “Call to Order” as a judge in a court might do, and then I would have split the diplomacy/sense motive part and the damage effect parts of the “Jury and Executioner” into separate “Jury” and “Executioner” special powers, as written co-joined it made the final power quite complex, and by splitting them we can get a nicer flow of powers because Jury could come earlier in the progression.

Finally, we have the Low Roads Drifter, a gunslinger archetype with accompanying art. I really liked the feel of this one, some of the new deeds introduced being very flavorful and cinematic – the sunder shot especially calling to mind Clint Eastwood shooting the hanging rope in the film The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. The full color gunslinger art accompanying this archetype is a female dressed in what is the typical gunslinger dress found throughout other Pathfinder products. I rather like this style as it lends itself very well to the pirate setting - this illustration would serve equally well for a PC or NPC in the Skull and Shackles Adventure Path.
Article: 8/10, Art: 9/10

Gunslinging Gladiator
Ohhh, the gunslinger goodies continue. A stirring vignette set in the battle arena which moves at a rocketing pace from start to finish. Make sure you have time to read this in one sitting because once you start, it will drag you along to the end with barely a time for breath. The accompanying art renders a moment in the story, a snapshot of one of the pivotal moments of the encounter – the art includes another female gunslinger, rendered with that consistent dress style we have come to know for this class. The art is in full color from a standpoint just behind the combatants, as if you were in the arena with them. The angle and composition of the piece is very cinematic, supplementing the story extremely well.
Article: 9/10, Art: 9/10

Review running total so far: 22,481 characters, or 3,905 words. 17 articles have now been reviewed in depth, 31 articles remain to review.

This post continues my review on the review pane – the review pane reviews the first 20 pages of this 84 page product, and will be completed over a number of posts here in the comments.

Dear Paizo, please can we have Neil Spicer character limits on our reviews please?

On to the review then, on the review pane, I finished at Scaling Magic Items in the River Kingdoms, so let’s move to the next item…

Side Trek Seeds: Adventure in the River Kingdoms
The next article brings us a regular offering of Wayfinder, that of adventure hooks and seeds. The first seed is investigative in nature, following disappearances of prominent NPCs during a festival. The background promises dire consequences for river trade, so fitting very well with the issue’s theme.

The second seed see’s the PCs being hired as personal bodyguards during a visit to the opera. I found this to be the weakest link to the river kingdoms, but the potential for roleplay, hijinks on the stage before an audience and all the dangers that entails, is very high.

The third seed takes a journey across the Sellen in one of the most dangerous manners available, escorting an NPC being pursued – not initially revealed to the PCs of course. This one promises many shenanigans and problems for the PCs, especially when crossing the waters of the Sellen itself.

The fourth one, set in Loric Fells near Daggerford offers an exceptionally dangerous and fraught encounter with a graveknight. The background is nicely woven into the area selected and promises something more than a run of the mill undead encounter! It could also introduce a recurring villain into your PCs lives in a coherent and believable fashion.

The fifth hook takes us to the town of Peywood, under the sway of something so dire and frightening that the town populace are staying behind doors rather than celebrating their towns new borns which they would normally do this time of year. This hook would play better in Ustalav, playing up the fear and terror aspects, but it does work in the river kingdoms reasonable well.

The sixth seed takes us across the Sellen once again, this time via a covered bridge, which fills with a strange mist. Again, this feels like it is more suited to dark and gothic Ustalav, but as a river crossing encounter, it fits the theme of the issue and supplies something different from the majority of bridge encounters.

Oddly enough the two art pieces accompanying these seeds are both taking scenes from the two seeds that I felt were more Ustalavian than River Kingdoms flavored. The first, representing the graveknight is very evocative, portraying the menace of the protagonist very well. The second has a familiar feel to it which I just can’t quite place, a shadow figure with elongated shadows looking into a strange misty light. This art strengthens my desire to place this encounter in Ustalav rather than the River Kingdoms, especially as the river Sellen is not very visible in the art piece, it could almost be a barn in the woods.
Article: 8/10, Art: 9/10 for the graveknight, 7/10 for the bridge

Defenders of the River Freedoms
This article provides the players and games masters with an assortment of regional traits and feats specific to the River Kingdoms. Some of the regional traits imply a certain in game role play requirement and some only seem to consider one side of the theme on which they play.

Example one, the Legal Wayfinder trait implies the person is constantly keeping abreast of the changing laws of the area – a games master could ask a player what activities they undertook that “game week/month” to maintain this trait and its benefit.

Example two, the Suffer No Shackles trait discusses benefits of great fear of capture to making an escape, but I felt could be balanced with a penalty to fear checks of the same order of its escape benefits when capture is a very real threat.

The feats make sense, I personally wouldn’t have prevented the atonement spell from counting as an atonement for the River Freedoms Practitioner and for the same feat, I would have clarified disobeying a law as knowingly disobeying a law – i.e. the player consciously chose to go against the law and so the atonement is a proper penance for their guilt.

The artwork is a meeting between two individuals. I felt it unclear if the sword wielder was accosting a thief captured in the act or whether it was two party members discussing the sharing of recent spoils. It is a nice piece, I just couldn’t associate it with the article very easily.
Article: 8/10, Art: 8/10

Review running total so far: 19,892 characters, or 3,467 words. 15 articles reviewed in depth, 33 articles remaining to review. So we are about a third of the way there. Grin.

The average review box allows just 16,000 characters, so I am trying to see by how much I am busting that limit! :P

And that’s lunch time done – more review will follow shortly.

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