Round 4: Design an encounter

Select one of the three provided Pathfinder Flip-Mats, and describe a new location in Golarion that uses your selected map, and a CR 6-9 encounter for that location and set on the map, all in 1,300 to 1,400 words. This location may be as large as a subterranean forest or undiscovered cavern, or as small as an old fort or section of a dungeon. The map may be a small part of your new location, or the entirety of the location. The encounter must take place entirely on the selected map.

Entries must be submitted through the submission tool, and must be received by 11:59 PM Pacific time on Thursday, October 1, 2015. Entries are revealed to the public and voting begins on October 5, 2015. Voting ends October 18, 2015 and Paizo will announce the Top 4 entries on October 19, 2015.


Altogether, your entry must be at least 1,300 words and no more than 1,400 words. You may divide this word count as you see fit between describing the Location and the Encounter (for example, you may spend 300 words describing an old castle Location, and 1,200 words describing a specific Encounter in the castle). All words in the provided format count toward this total, but the code tags such as [b] do not.

Note: if you hit the Preview button, the forum software will tell you what the word count is for your entry, which gives you a chance to edit it down if it's over the word count.


The encounter must be CR 6, 7, 8, or 9. Your encounter must use at least one monster or NPC from the Pathfinder Reference Document. You cannot reference any existing rules elements not available in the PRD. As long as you have at least one monster or NPC from the PRD, your encounter can use multiple creatures, in any amount and any combination. You may also include (but are not required to) one or more haunts, hazards, or traps. Be sure to use correct formatting for any haunt, hazard, or trap you include.

The Sample Location and Encounter section shows how to format your encounter.

Golarion Encounter Requirement

Your entry must be set in world of Golarion. Locations not in Golarion, including those on other planets (such as Castrovel), other planes (such as the Plane of Fire or Pharasma's Boneyard), parallel dimensions (including the Shadow Plane and the First World), alternate timelines (such as "if Aroden hadn't died"), and time periods other than the present (such as "during the height of Azlant") are off limits.


Paizo encourages voters to playtest one or more of the Round 4 encounters and post their playtest results as comments on the encounter to better inform all voters about those encounters. Voters are encouraged to post about their playtests before voting ends October 18, 2015.


Use the Sample Location and Encounter Format for your entry. The subject line of the submission form should contain only the name of the Location. The body of the form should include only the complete Location and Encounter text in the appropriate format (this means the Location name will be included in the body as well).


  • For all monsters and NPCs with complete stat blocks in the PRD, you may use the "shorthand" Paizo stat block for that monster (see the Sample Location and Encounter Format below). For the sake of this contest, these are called "Standard Monsters."
  • If your encounter includes variants of these "standard" monsters (such as a chimera with extra hit points or a half-dragon troll with wings that give it fly speed 30), you may use the "shorthand" Paizo style of referencing that monster. For the sake of this contest, these are called "Variant Monsters."
  • Do not use customized monsters or hazards that do not already have a stat block from the PRD if the effects of the variation cannot be summed up by adding one line to the stat block (such as a half-fiend troll, a goblin rogue 5, or an advanced spectre)—normally you would include a complete stat block for such a monster, and you won't have room to do so within the 1,400 word limit for your entry.
  • If a monster has specific tactics relating to your encounter location, include these tactics in your submission.

Allowed Sources

Apart from your own original content, you are limited to using or referring to the PRD.


Submissions may be disqualified for the following reasons:

  • Submission is not set in Golarion.
  • Submission is fewer than 1,300 words or more than 1,400 words.
  • Submission does not use one of the provided maps.
  • Submission encounter is not CR 6, 7, 8, or 9.
  • Submission does not use the required format for presentation.
  • Submission does not include at least one monster or NPC from the PRD.
  • Submission does not conform to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
  • Submission is taken from a previously published source (though individual encounter elements may be from a previously published source as described above).
  • Submission uses non-Pathfinder rules, monsters, or copyrighted material from publishers other than Paizo.
  • Submission uses rules material other than those permitted.
  • Submission is not submitted by the deadline.
  • Submission does not generally use correct English.
  • Competitor adds to, expands upon, clarifies, or comments about the contents of his or her own submission during the playtest or voting period, whether this takes place on or elsewhere.

Sample Location, Encounter, and Trap Format

Note: This format isn't exactly what Paizo uses and has been adapted to work with bbcode.

[bigger][b]LocationName[/b][/bigger] — {Such as "Blood Monkey Castle"} {this also should be the title of your entry!}
[i]Flip-Mat Name[/i] {Such as Flip-Mat: Haunted Dungeon}
{Describe your location here. Is it a castle? A forest? A sewer? Why is it here? Who lives here? What role does it serve?}

[bigger][b]EncounterName (CR YY)[/b][/bigger] {such as "Underground Fire Monkey Nest"}
{Additional information for the GM goes here}

[b]Creatures:[/b] {What creatures are here, what they're doing, how they react to PCs.}
[b]Hazard:[/b] Words, words, words. {Optional section; description of any hazards in the encounter location, such as green slime.}
[b]Trap:[/b] Words, words, words. {Description of any traps in the encounter location, such as a pit trap.}
[b]Development:[/b] Words, words, words. {Optional section; how resolution of this area affects other areas, such as guards in other areas coming here.}

Standard "Shorthand" Monster Stat Block for Round 4

[b]MonsterName (NumberIfMoreThan1) CR ##[/b]
XP ## each
[b]hp[/b] ## each ([i]{SourcebookName}[/i] ##)

Variant Monster stat block format for Round 4

[b]VariantMonsterName (NumberIfMoreThan1) CR ##[/b]
XP ## each
[b]hp[/b] ## each ([i]{SourcebookName}[/i] ##)
{include variant stat block information here in the appropriate order}

Example Variant Monster shorthand stat block:

[b]Arachnogoblins (4) CR 1/2[/b]
XP 200 each
[b]hp[/b] 6 each (Bestiary 156)
[b]Melee[/b] 4 short swords +1 (1d4/19-20)

Note: Do not include a Treasure listing. This is to save you words that you can use elsewhere in your submission.

Note: Delete any optional sections that do not apply to your encounter (if your Encounter has no hazards, do not include a Hazard section.)

Note: Delete all comments in brackets {}, those are instructions to you and not part of the submission format.

Note: Delete these NOTE entries, as they're instructions to you and not part of the submission format.

Pathfinder Flip-Mat Options

Select one of these provided Flip-Mats when creating your encounter. The Top 8 contestants will also be granted access to PDF versions of these maps for reference.

Flip-Mat: Haunted Dungeon, Flip-Mat: Battlefield, or Flip-Mat: Pub Crawl

If the judges or anyone else have questions about my location, encounter, or map, can I post answers to their questions?

No! At least, not while playtesting and voting is open. See Rule #5 on the Contest Rules page: "During public voting rounds, contestants are prohibited from any public discussion that could be considered as adding to, expanding upon, or clarifying the content of their current submission. This applies to (but is not limited to) interviews, personal blogs, and messageboard posts on or elsewhere, including the discussion thread for the entry itself. Any such discussion may result in disqualification, in the sole discretion of the judges and/or Paizo."

Furthermore, the Round 4 rules say that a competitor commenting about his submission during the playtest or voting period may be disqualified.

In other words, your submission has to get by on its own, even if everyone has the same question and you could answer it with a single word. That's because if you write an encounter and it gets published, the book doesn't include a little copy of you to answer questions or offer suggestions, so you need to make sure your submission is clear on its own. Likewise, if you're a freelancer writing an upcoming book, you can't go telling people about it before the publisher is ready to talk about it—learning discretion is necessary in this business.

Just grin and bear it—you'll be able to say as much as you want about it once voting is closed. To reiterate the Round 4 rule: Commenting about your item during the playtest or voting period may disqualify you.L

Does my encounter have to fill the entire 24x30 map grid?

No. The entire map should be appropriate for your location, but the encounter may take place in only part of the map.

Can I do a location that contains just one encounter, such as a campsite ambush?

Yes, but that wouldn't be a very exciting entry.

Do we really have to use that Location and Encounter Format?

Yes. Failure to do so is likely to result in disqualification.

Do I need to include tactics for other monsters in the location?

Be as descriptive as you feel is necessary; a mindless golem doesn't need detailed tactics, but a monster with abilities that interact with local hazards might warrant a line or two.

Do I need to "show my math" for my encounter stat blocks?