Kerpiquan: the Land of Lost Civilisations

Round 2: Design a country

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RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Aotrscommander

The Land of Lost Civilisations

Kerpiquan is a land filled with ancient secrets hidden in crumbling ruins. At least a dozen mighty civilisations once claimed their home here, stretching back thousands of years in succession. Some were human; some were humanoid; others were aberrations not easily envisaged. Each of them inexplicably and abruptly came to grief, one after another. They left only unanswered questions, deserted cities, forgotten temples and mysterious monuments. The only clues point to the very oldest ruins, about which legends of later civilisations speak, in hushed whispers, of an ancient war fought before time, between shadowy, monstrous beings of terrible power from beyond the stars...

Alignment: LN
Capital: Qazasu (pop. 103,250)
Notable Settlements: Yahzivij (pop. 61,950), Kidana (pop. 40,300)
Ruler: Viceroy Demassi Oroubeyn, a Quanite man in his late fifties.
Government: Republic, headed by an elected Viceroy, assisted by three Legates and a senate of twelve. Elections are held every four years. Any adult Quanite citizen is entitled to vote, except those in the military.

Description: Kerpiquan comprises a dense archipelago of islets surrounding the island mainland of Piquan. The territory covers an area of approximately 115,000 square miles. Piquan itself is about 350 miles long and slightly under 300 miles wide. The region is covered by a blanket of subtropical evergreen forests and teeming mangrove swamps on the coasts. In central Piquan, the land rises into spectacular mountains, beyond which lies a chilly highland desert plateau. The climate is placid; it is noticeably colder in winter than in summer but otherwise mild.

The only exception to the clement weather are the infrequent, terrifying supernatural storms. One is preceded by a build up of high altitude, towering thunderhead clouds in strange, slowly roiling shapes over the course of several days. They appear over the highland desert and in otherwise clear skies. When the storm breaks, the sky is stained a shade of dull purple and red lightning dances amid the clouds, rarely striking the land but crackling so loudly that it can be heard from the ground. While there is often a hot gale, there is only rarely thunder and no precipitation falls.

Natural resources are in particular abundance, ranging from mineral to plant to animal, making Kerpiquan mostly self-sufficient. Disease is uncommon; despite the proximity of the swamps, mosquitoes are almost unheard of. This natural bounty explains why the region has been settled so often. Some scholars say Kerpiquan seems too hospitable to be natural. But whether it was created by an older civilisation, the hand of some forgotten god or something even more mysterious is a matter for conjecture.

The current proprietors of the land are the Quanites, from which Kerpiquan takes it’s present name. Despite being nearly self-sufficient, Kerpiquan does a brisk sea trade with other nations, exporting it’s own resources. Kerpiquan has existed as a nation for three hundred years, when settlers arrived there after being driven from their old home. The Quanite civilisation is concentrated mainly in the south of Piquan around the river Caluus where the land is most fertile. Kerpiquan has a population of about three million, mostly dark-skinned humans. A fifth of the population are resettled immigrants, mainly other humans. Port cities like Yahzivij and Kidana or the capital, Qazasu, are much more cosmopolitan, with representatives of all the major races in some numbers. Kerpiquan has a considerable bureaucratic network which manages their extensive legal, taxation and voting systems.

Quanite society is polite and formal, but egalitarian with regard to race, gender and sexuality. The men tend to shave their heads and are usually clean shaven. Women either have their hair very short or very long and braided into elaborate designs. Clothing is usually light-weight and colourful for both genders. Though fashion varies wildly, sarongs are popular. Men wear brightly-coloured cloth caps, and women wear similarly vibrant headscarves.

Piquan is littered with ruins from the fallen civilisations, both on the surface and underground. These ruins are dangerous places full of treasure, traps, vestiges of the past and the unquiet dead; few Quanites dare approach them. Over the years, bands of adventurers and explorers have braved their depths to bring out knowledge and treasure. This has resulted in the level of technology Kerpiquan possesses being quite advanced; high-quality roads, the use of concrete in some buildings and extensive plumbing. Despite this, the Quanites are fearful of befalling the unknown fate of their predecessors and this most obviously manifests as a distrust of the supernatural. Magic, while tolerated, is viewed as a highly dangerous practise and it’s excessive use frightens them. Races with obviously magical ancestry (notably Planetouched) are regarded with suspicion or outright fear. Quanites are mostly agnostic for the same reasons (though they do not persecute religion).

There are a number of tribes of primitive Hobgoblins living in the wild areas. Some are peaceful and even trade with Kerpiquan while others are savage raiders. Kerpiquan thus maintains a small standing army and navy who double as law-enforcement and city guards. Judicial punishment is handed out by trial, followed by imprisonment or rarely, execution.

Kerpiquan operates a tax farming system where landowners tax whoever lives on their land, which is then collected by the state. Local officials tax communal places like cities. While it mints it’s own coin, Kerpiquan uses the typical gold/silver/copper standard.

Quanites speak Isquana and common.

DM Secrets: Viceroy Oroubeyn is growing concerned that more and more strange events have begun occurring. He has been investigating them quietly but is afraid of a public panic if it becomes common knowledge.

The Hobgoblin tribes are the remnants of the prior civilisation to occupy this area, though they are largely unaware of this.

Magic occasionally goes terribly astray, especially during storms.

The truth behind the mysteries is left for individual DMs to determine or they can be left enticingly unsolved. Ancient gods, outsiders and/or aberrations are the most thematically appropriate antagonists. Kerpiquan is an ideal place for DMs to introduce new spells, monsters, artifacts or variant magic rules.

The Exchange Kobold Press

Wow, this thing is right on the nose: exactly 1,000 words. And it is well-written, with good transitions and not a ton of wasted verbiage.

I like that it doesn't go for the easy European/medieval route: a haunted Pacific archipelago is a new spin. I like the haunted plateau, the supernatural storms, and the advanced tech (though concrete is very old tech, Roman or older). The geographic and cultural choices are just slightly outside the mainstream, and that's a strength.

I have only one minor complaint: the opener makes an implicit promise to the reader that it doesn't quite follow up on. That Cthulhoid hinting isn't really carried into a specific line or location; I was expecting more hints in the DM Secrets area, and didn't get them.

Actually, the DM Secrets section may be the weakest part of it, or possibly the section that threatens to veer into social systems or taxation. It stays pretty close to the adventuring-core ideas throughout, with enough visual and social detail to make it stand out.

That's my initial impression. It's a good omen that the 1st entry into the round of 32 is strong. What do my fellow judges think?

Update Having reviewed many entries since, I'm prepared to give Kerpiquan a "Recommended" rating.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Submission checklist:

Submitted on time? Check
Submission is a "country"? Check.
Submission contains all of the mandatory content as required by the contest rules? [????]
Submission is within the word limit? Check. 1000 right on the nose.
Submission is free of inappropriate content in violation of the "taboo" guidelines? Check.
Submission does not use content from a source other than those listed? Check
Submission does not reference a published campaign setting? Check.
Submission does not include maps or art? Check.
Submission is a suitable setting for roleplaying with the d20 system? Check.
Submission is not a "joke" or otherwise completely fails to meet the minimum requirements of the competition or other contest rules? Check.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Initial Impression

I personally felt that the DM section was a total disappointment. I dont know that this entry lived up to its promise. I mean, there is not a THING in there of any substance. And to bad, too, because I liked the idea.

I loved the use of the "teaser" paragraph early on. That is the kind of Superstar format modification we are looking for. But it just didnt deliver on its promise.

I also have an issue, though minor, with its essentially human-only population. I thought that was perhaps a design flaw.

Going to have to think this one over and compare it to other entries.

I do agree that this is exactly the kind of thing I was hoping to see in Round 2. No falling flat here. I like the design choices you mention--breaks the euro/medieval stereotype (though for a bit of a cliche-ish dark skinned tropical setting). I'm not sure that I dig the Bob Marley-meets-Cthulhu vibe, but since we never saw the Cthulhu vibe, I'll never know....

More detailed review to follow.

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

Some of the names seem a touch extravagant and difficult to pronounce, but the author presents Kerpiquan with panache. The set-up of ancient civilizations stacked one atop the other is a perfect approach that provides logical dungeons in abundance and explains the prevalence of adventurers, the existence of ancient magic, etc. My sense is that this approach is just on the borderline of bring predictable, though, so it's good to use it when you can. In two years that idea is going to be seen as pretty run of the mill, I think.

I can't fault the entry on writing. The text felt smooth and conveyed the author's intentions admirably.

I do think it failed to live up to the promise of its opening paragraph (which I agree is a nice design choice), but mostly because there wasn't really any detail of those lost civilizations. Some echoes from the distant past that influence the nation and cause adventure today would have been much appreciated.

The magical storms are described wonderfully. This is the third entry I've read in this round, and so far all three have involved countries beset by weird weather. This one does so evocatively and efficiently, putting it a step above its peers (so far, anyway).

The DM secrets were lame. Why not let the hobgoblins be remnants of a fallen civilization _and know it_. That's a much more interesting approach to what we have of hobgoblins right now, which is a whole lot of nothing. Putting that in the non-secret part of the write-up would have helped the entry follow through on the concept a bit better and would give you room to talk about something genuinely interesting and adventure-driving instead.

All in all though I enjoyed this entry. We'll see if that's enough for me to recommend it into the final 16, but I suspect it will probably make it for me.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

In addition to my comments above:

Fluff (writing, grammar, style, evocative prose, etc.): B-
The writing is a bit overdone. Needs to learn to do more with less.

Crunch (basics, rules issues, depth of the setting, details, etc.): B
The Good: Not a lot there, but the language information is nice. The setting has depth.

Design (choices made, format, naming, originality, theme, balance--ie, is the submission heavy in one part but lacking in another?): B-
Names are real good. I like the description and the storms. Subtropical settings can be a bit limiting, so it is an interesting choice. I’m not sure that a good theme was carried throughout and I certainly don’t feel the urgency of adventure. There is simply no urgency. The DM section in general is a glaring weakness, and that final paragraph in particular is a total cop out and a huge strike against this submission. The name is real good, though.

Play (setting for adventure? campaign? is there conflict? are there play limitations?): B-
Yes, you can play here. But the conflict and urgency of adventure are lacking. The setting is interesting, with an excuse for ruin exploration. I wouldn’t mind exploring here, and the names are evocative, but there is nothing pulling me there.

Tilt (my personal take, is it evocative? do I want to play there? does it capture my imagination?): B-
I like the idea of the setting, but there is no real drama or conflict or adventure that jumps out and grabs me.

Overall: B-
Well-named country lacks urgent call to adventure. But may just squeak in.

Hesitantly RECOMMENDED for top 16.

I agree that some of the names are a little difficult and that the DM secrets section was sorely lacking but that may have been from an intent to leave things open for DMs to do what they want with it.

As Clark pointed out I think it needs a little bit more tension and conflict built into it. Perhaps more 'native' inhabitants on the island with a, "My island" mentality that are not happy about the new settlers (cliched, I know) or perhaps a group that actively encourages people to leave or suffer the fate of the prior civilizations (like some of the crazy bums in NY City that shout about the end of the world).

I can use a lot of this for my pwn games.

I did feel there needed to be more for the DM. Sure, leave us room, but give us a map.

Still, I really like it voerall.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Steven T. Helt

I agree it's compelling, but doesn't live up to its beginning. I am pleased, even though I didn't make it, that the first country gets praise for some elements I was gona write on, it means I was on the right track.

I agree about the names. Little tough to get out, and there was just now a comment on another thread about names of villains and places getting chewed up. This place might be stuck with a villain like 'ugly pants guy', instead of 'Hopmemuri'.

The entry would have been stronger if it didn't even have a DM Secrets section. I don't mean that to be harsh, I am just saying, the anticlimax begins with the taxation stuff, and falls sharply with no added adventure material. I respect everyone in the top 32 (so far), so please take this in the best way possible: telling DMs to add whatever they want to your setting as a DM secret is kind of a copout.

Dark Archive Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Aotrscommander wrote:


The Land of Lost Civilisations

I like the non-European, possibly Inca sounding, setting.

One nit, it's civilization, with a "z"

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

chopswil wrote:
Aotrscommander wrote:


The Land of Lost Civilisations

I like the non-European, possibly Inca sounding, setting.

One nit, it's civilization, with a "z"

With an 's' is, I believe, the British spelling. Like armour instead of armor.

Dark Archive Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Jason Nelson 20 wrote:
chopswil wrote:
Aotrscommander wrote:


The Land of Lost Civilisations

I like the non-European, possibly Inca sounding, setting.

One nit, it's civilization, with a "z"
With an 's' is, I believe, the British spelling. Like armour instead of armor.

If zo, then I ztand corrected

Scarab Sages

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I agree with the overall assessment. The DM secrets were anti-climactic after all that very nice set up in the intro and weakened the proposal on this otherwise different, and exotic locale.

Also, I did not get that Quanites were humans until about halfway through. Maybe the author should have listed human (Quanite) in the demographic or something.

I was going on a 1 to 10 scale. Gave it a 7/10

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Geography and climate are very well depicted; this land is an open invitation to explore old ruins and to go the good old route of dungeon crawl. I like the south american feel of the names and I like how it meshes with the roman approach to government.

What I don't like is the Cthulhu reference in the starting paragraph especially cause it's not worked in the rest of the entry appropriately. What I don't like either is the hobgoblins being the remnants of an old empire (Eberron anyone?). I hope this doesn't sound too harsh but I would have probably liked it better if they had been replaced by one of the core races (maybe by the wood or wild elf variant) or maybe something more exotic (lizardfolk or even sahuagin).

What I miss is some kind of internal conflict which immediately draws me into the country. The DM notes could have hinted more precisely to any reason to adventure in Kerpiquan (apart from dungeon crawl that is).

If I wanted to play a low-magic campaign, this country would probably be a good choice. But I'm not sure if it is generally a good idea to make the use of the arcane arts something to arouse the inhabitant's suspicion.

As I said I hope that I don't sound too harsh but to be frank, Kerpiquan as depicted isn't the land I would want to play an AP-style campaign in. But if i needed the mysterious, ruin-covered continent to include in my campaign this could be an interesting choice (I hope the author doesn't feel offended by my Eberron references but Kerpiquan feels conceptually similar to Xen'drik).

sry if I sound a bit critical but this is my first entry to judge so I tried to be as honest as possible.

regards, WQ

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Aotrscommander

Everyone's comments are noted; I think my learning curve is still visible!

I'm really itching to explain my design intents, but that'll have to wait until this is all over!

It seems to be a recurring opinion that the DM section was much weaker and took away from the rest of the description. I did like the thorough descriptions of the feel of the country, but I didn't not feel pulled enough to want to play in this world. It seems to be lacking in the area of convincing adventure that would draw the players in. Though there might be conflict, it seems that I would much rather take a vacation in the none rainy seasons they work towards adventuring. I will give it this, the one a top of another civilizations does open up great dungeon potential.

The writing was well thought out, though sometimes seemed a little over the top with to much description, but overall nicely done.

In the DM section, give us more! If this is a world to play in, then the DM section is imperative to pull the DM towards this as a place to setup their game in.

Great potential, just needs a little work (a probably more space). :)

I have some problems with the writing:

Natural resources are in particular abundance, ranging from mineral to plant to animal

Yes, natural resources do range from mineral to plant to animal. Also, there were some incorrect comma uses hich led to at least one run-on sentence. I know some believe that grammar and syntax should be minor consideration, but good language really helps to evoke the setting.

El Skootro

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

OK, disclaimer: I mean all my comments to be constructively critical. I respect and admire all my peers in the top 32 for their effort, and truly hope that this will be a fruitful learning experience for all of us, if nothing else. Further, I have decided to look at my entry last, so as to maintain a "neutral" view on everyone else's work, and analyze it on its own merit as opposed to in comparison to the criticism I get for mine.

Now, Kerpiquan:

Not really much else to say. I love the presentation and the evocative image of civilization-upon-civilization come to ruin. I love the Cthulu leitmotif. I love the archipelago setting. This setting has texture, and very good texture at that.

However, like the judges and previous commenters, I feel that it fails to deliver on the promise made by all those things. There is texture, but no conflict. Reading the entry, Kerpiquan feels like, for all its mystery and dark corners, has settled into a well-lit business as usual. The only character we hear about is the Viceroy, but he has nobody to play with (or against). The "mysterious events" hinted at in the DM Secrets section don't even scratch the surface of the potential here, IMO. I also think that more info on races would've been appreciated. There's hobgoblins and humans and "cosmopolitan cities", but still, to me, Kerpiquan feels a bit "depopulated".

Still, this is a place where I could totally see myself dropping a bunch of hapless (and dungeon-crawl oriented) PCs for a few sessions.


Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Rusty Ironpants

Bonus points for the setup, especially for breaking the medieval european fantasy mold. However double penalty points for failing to follow through on the elements that you set up. Sorry, but I don't find silent, rainless electical storms "terrifying" no matter what color the lightning happens to be. Rather than expounding on the tax system (yawn), including actual DM secrets could have made this entry great. A few examples of some of the ancient secrets (alienist altars?, legendary artifacts?, spooky race of squid men?) hidden in the ruins would have gone a long way to improve this entry. In my opinion, the one thing that was unforgivable to leave out as a hint/legend/prophecy about what is going to destroy the current civilization.

Sorry if I appear overly critical, but I thought your entry could have been really good, but just missed the mark.


Liberty's Edge

The Lost island! Actually I think this entry might have benefited from taking some lessons from Lost – make the hobgoblins more like the Others – mysterious and contradictory original inhabitants. Focus more on the remnants of the previous civilisation, throw in sightings of mysterious monsters.

I think this entry is solid and quiet well done, has an interesting setting – but doesn’t quite jump out at me.

EDIT: also, for a nation occupying an island chain, I would have liked to see more focus on sea travel and/or threats from the sea.

Scarab Sages

First off, I really enjoyed the storyesque approach to the introduction. Great flavor and a really way to pull in a reader, I believe.

I did have worries that either this would lead to Cthulhu or aliens in space ships. I was very glad that neither was made reference tom on that note I would really have loved to have an expanded section on the “lost civilizations laying out there. I would believe that the island setting would be restricting for have thousands of years of lost cultures not being discovered just due to space issues with the Islands. I love the non standard setting of Caribbean islands (my setting was to deal with an Island culture). I do enjoy how you intertwined the setting and writing abilities but I am at a loss for stats and hard game text.

I would say that your GM secrets was a bit of a let down and after looking over your setting again it really hunts me with little to no real information.

I still like this setting for a country and think that you have potential to make the top 16 but I would have like to have more game materials presented in your work. I understand that a large amount of information must be sacrificed to keep under the 1000 words but I think that as a gaming based material that needs to be here.

That all said so far out of the 5 or 6 that I have read I still put this one in my tops 5.

Good Luck and cant wait to see what you have to say later on.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Aotrscommander

I will allow myself the comment that what most of you have said were the weak areas were the ones I was least confident about myself. Clearly I could/should have pitched it better. While it's killing me not to expound myself further, I shall say no more.

All your feedback is welcomed, and I look foward to being able to answer it in full! Rest assured, whatever the outcome, I'm taking notes!

Star Voter Season 7

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Doesn't really grab me.

The names didn't do it for me, and there does not seem to be much happening here. In other words, the DM secrets section failed to bring to life any of the entry's earlier allusions.

With only 5 votes, I cannot say this one will get one from me, but good luck.

1) Didn't like the names. And it's supposed to be American spelling, so the "s" in Civilization is a no-no. But that's a minor point.

2) "Quanite society is polite and formal, but egalitarian with regard to race, gender and sexuality" - bothered me. How does "polite and formal" conflict with egalitarianism?

Nitpicks aside...

I do like the idea of a pacific-style island. And any place plagued by crazy weather is always fun. But, yeah, there's a little bit of boringness here - there's nothing that really screams "adventure!"

I'm ambivalent about this one, but I really like how it was set up for the most part.

For some reason, the first paragraph made me think that this was a land-locked country. Then I found out it was an archipelago. I will be curious when this is over to hear the rationale on the Cthulhu-esque reference that gets no later explanation.

Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Clouds Without Water

Aotrscommander wrote:


The Land of Lost Civilisations

Doesn't really seem to come together for me. There's lots of pieces here, but they don't feel like a part of a coherent whole. I get a sense of the construction gears whirring as opposed to a description of a real place.

Honestly, I think it leaves too much out. You need the mystery, but you can leave out the glue to get to it.

Probably a pass for me.

My only real gripe is that this feels like it was back-edited, in that once the 1000 word threshold was crossed, the end stuff was the stuff that was cut most severely or left with too little space. The opening paragraph is simply the best work here, and the description of the storms and the land itself the most evocative.

I echo the twin calls for urgency and conflict. Why aren't the storms building in intensity? Or the first drops of precipatation falling? Or strange beings coming from afar to study them? What of pirates or naval threats or even nearby aquatic races? Hobgoblins have an average humanoid intelligence and a lawful evil bent and yet they DON'T know they're an inheritor race? I'd buy it for savage Orcs or even Lizardfolk, but Hobgobby imperialism has to be in their genetics, no?

All of that is quibbling, but it's quibbling born out of not knowing where the true sweet spot of this setting is supposed to be located. Right now it reads like a great place to send the party to vacation, not adventure.

A little too much steak and not enough sizzle. Still, a very worthy effort.

One thing I like about this country is the feeling that everything seems safe, yet everyone knows that it isn't. I enjoyed the description of the region as being "too hospitable to be natural". However, for all of the raw potential this place has, I don't think enough is done with it.

I agree with some of the others that urgency is needed to really give this place some oomph. The potential danger is great, it'd be even better if it was imminent.

I may be in the minority here, but I like the fact that you left the big mysteries of this place undefined. While DM's always have the prerogative to change things up, I can't imagine how you could define the Big Secret of Kerpiquan and have it not impact everything else about the country.

I'm on the fence on this one. I think this country is really close to being great, but comes up just a bit short.

I agree with Raymond - "steak no sizzle"
If you knew why the civilizations were lost you should have given us more clues. It was the only shot you had to advance, and I'm afraid you may have lost out holding that knowledge back. Perhaps you didn't want to ruin it for your own campaign?
If you didn't know why either then you only did half of your job. I really suspect the former.
Very well written, it flowed nicely.

One of the better written entries I have read so far. But after the exciting beginning (which hooked me in the first 100 words as Vic Wertz mentioned sagely in another thread) I felt like the technical aspects of country creation were handled with fine craftsmanship, but not nearly as much energy or inspiration. I do like the writing though. This one feels like a case of,"If only the word limit was 1500..."

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Darkjoy

Can I use it: No, what is there to do?
Is it entertaining: Yes, a good read
Is it original: Yes / No

Final verdict: Rejected.

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

Terrain is described well. Good use of the word count available.

First sentence: Ho hum. Isn't that why it's called Dungeons and Dragons?

It's pleasantly written, but delivers a lot of obvious platitudes. The interesting parts are not developed or connected into any compelling whole.

The culture is anachronistically decent and democratic and lacks the divisions that could spark adventures.

An archipelago is nothing like what I was expecting from the opening paragraph.

The DM Secrets were the very last chance to provide something useful on what makes the country interesting, the supernatural collapse of its predecessors, but didn't deliver.

Not voting for this.

Sovereign Court

With the population growing and all these storms I had an idea that something malevolent within the bowels of the island was building in power with every soul that entered its realm, every extra resident means worsening and worsening storms until the nation reaches a tipping point and Kablooie! Every resident has their souled sucked out into the monstrous thing beneath their feet.

I thought this was pretty cheesy and was waiting for the superior explanation from the writer - it never came.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Aotrscommander

Glaaargh. Looks like I totally screwed this one, then. I note that this thread is in the top 5 posted in and not even close to the top 5 being voted for!

Mind you, I sort of expected a disporportionate amount of attention (either way) since being alphabetically first on the list, I surmised my entry would likely have the first people looked at. If I'd done a better job, I could have made that into an advantage. Ho hum. One can but try.

It was a bit of a gamble in some ways, but I guess people's expectations of a country are even further out from mine that I'd anticipated. Well, I'll know for next time and adjust accordingly - if there is one...

For me this just sounds on the surface like the present Pathfinder series.

Ancient civilizations now gone. Thassilon and Azlant
Some growing Evil: Rune wells and evil lichs and minions working in front of their Lich masters

It's why I really like Pathfinder all the potential things, hidden old ruins, powerful magic of the past. The Rune wells, the rising powers of evil, it all really works well, with just a handful of darkness adding to the overall flavour.

This just failed to do that and as I said for me just repeats some of the strengths of the Pathfinder world.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka Sir_Wulf

I like this and have to disagree with the previous post, that felt it was too close to Golarion in tone. While it has some common denominators with Golarion, that wasn't the tone that I got from it.

I'd like to see what sort of NPC you make.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Aotrscommander

Sir_Wulf wrote:

I like this and have to disagree with the previous post, that felt it was too close to Golarion in tone. While it has some common denominators with Golarion, that wasn't the tone that I got from it.

I'd like to see what sort of NPC you make.

Thank you! Though the critism is always appreciated, it's nice to have one's massively over-developed ego salved once in a while!

Never having read any of the Pathfinder stuff or heard of Golarion, I can only shrug my shoulders and suggest that maybe great minds work alike...?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6 aka adanedhel9

I'll have to agree with most everyone else here in that there's not enough conflict. I have remarkably similar nation in my own campaign world, and I'd never send the party to the heart of archipelago - it's practically paradise on the Material Plane. Why would an adventurer ever go there, except for a vacation?

Now, you do give DM's plenty of places to go with this: conflict is still possible here. Just not well-supported.

I don't necessarily like the names, but it seems like you spent more than a few seconds thinking about them, which I appreciate. Also, good writing throughout certainly helps your entry.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

This entry is so close to getting one of my five votes. The words are all put together correctly, there are no conceptual flaws, and the setting could easily and believably appear in a setting book...these put it in my top 10 of the thirty-two.

What is missing is are the creative hooks that make you want to roll up a character and go there. As it is it reads like a place your characters go through on their way to someplace more interesting; where your ship puts in to replenish supplies, or you go to purchase potions and scrolls from the local wizard in between dungeon crawls. But it doesn't sound like the place where the adventures actually occur.

The last paragraph of your DM Secrets illustrates this problem most clearly; it's as if you were intentionally leaving this country blank for other DMs to fill in. In this contest you can't punt like that; this entry is supposed to show off your creativity.

I loved the introduction, it was very well written and promised so much...

I also liked the fact that you utilized islands, it makes for interesting exploratory elements.

But the rest of the entry just seemed sort of boring. Sorry Alex, this wasn't in my top 5.


I like a lot of the ideas presented here and I like the way it's written. It's interesting and informative, although the last part about taxation and the DM secrets seemed a little weak. The only fault I can find with this entry are the names, which bug the hell out of me. I simply don't like them. Other than that I like it.

Hmm, interesting place, nice flavor, I even liked the naming (though indeed I would like to hear you read this entry aloud). But somehow half-realized, and DM secrets did effectively nothing to the setting. If rest of the entries I haven't yet read are really bad, you'll get my vote. Chances are that you won't.

Dark Archive

While I love the basic premise (new civilization built on the remains of many others, now facing the forces that destroyed them as well, a la Xendrik / Stormreach), and it makes for a great base for adventurers seeking out lost lore and ancient artifacts (and fighting off previously unknown beasties), this particular version didn't hook me as well.

The DM's secrets section definitely should have offered up some hint as to what's causing the whacky weather. Dimensional incursion from the weakening of planar barriers between the material world and the elemental realms, due to the breaking down of an ancient magical system of portals one of the ancient civilizations used? Death throes of an imprisoned godling, captured and tapped for power by evil forces seeking to ascend one of their own to godhood with an act of deicide? Enemy action from a hidden druidic enclave of nonhumans (say, Lizardfolk) deep within the jungles, who have successfully destroyed every other civilization to try and settle their holy lands?

What where the previous civilizations like? Crumbling overgrown aeries of some long-vanished flying race, high within the canopy? Warrens of tunnels, once inhabited by rat-folk, undercutting much of the forest? Grand towers of wood, made to resemble great trees, but containing entire communities of no-longer-sentient insect-people, mindlessly maintaining summoning chambers and workshops that they no longer know how to use?

Place your votes.

Sovereign Court

I read this and it just seemed to lack the grab of RUN YOUR CAMPAIGN HERE! Honestly, if I wanted ruins on top of ruins, I'd run a Dying Earth game. It would have been more interesting if the storms actually dropped something down once in a while, like maybe an aforementioned aberration.

The theme running through the previous posts seems to be to "set up potential adventure themes to be run here"; and "disappointed by lack of sizzle in DM Secrets."
So what you're saying is that instead of "design a country" it should have been "Design a country and include a campaign premise."
At least that's what I'm seeing.
- Arch

I would like to have learned more about the supernatural storms. I'm in the dark as to what they're all about. I think you used to much wordage in the opening grabber. Those words could have been used for more detail in the country.

I like the core concept here - the Pacific archipelago - and in general the local flavor is good. However, this entry has a couple of problems.

1. Poor grammar; will need editing (it's, mint's, etc) - OK for this but not necessarily what we want in a RPG superstar long term. Prose is a little too flowery for my tastes too, in a neo-Gygaxian sort of way.

2. Popping in a Cthulian type reference is cheap and overused, and there's no followthrough on it.

3. The "DM Secrets" are really weak. "Strange things are happening?" Needs a lot better hooks.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka amusingsn

I am a sucker for the old "Precursor" civilization schtick, and I like that you focused on that as your source of "adventure" in the area. As portrayed here, it would definitely lend itself to a certain style of play, and that's a good thing.

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