The Enlightened Kingdom of Vramaire

Round 2: Design a country

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RPG Superstar 2008 Top 8 aka Iourn

The Enlightened Kingdom of Vramaire (LE)

"When did it come to this? How did we so completely lose our way? If the noble warriors of the past lived today, surely they would take up arms against us! For Celestar and the East! For the memory of greater days! Down with the Basilica, down with its invisible evil and down with its puppet king!"

Prelate Solomon Karr shortly before his execution.

Capital: Ardennia Port (30,800)
Notable Settlements: Rivenmouth (12,000), Verity (8000), Bulwark (18,000)

Ruler: His Youthful Eminence, King Raphael X
Government: A triumvirate made up of the temporal, the spiritual and the Argent Basilica advise the king. The current members are Earl Radarthur Moon (House of Peers), Primate Elect Sildoran IV (Celestarum), Proctor Melchior Vane (High Holy Witness of Light, Argent Basilica).


Three generations ago Vramaire was a peerless enemy of Evil. An abomination known as the Eater of Men had arisen in the orclands of the West, and attacked without warning or provocation. Thousands died, and thousands more suffered horrible torture and violation at the hands of this dark enemy and his orcish horde. As the Vramari battled valiantly to contain the threat, daring diplomats of the undercourt brokered peace between far off nations, and brought them together in a grand alliance against this cancerous blight that sought to consume all things. After a time, there was victory.

Peace was not easy for the Vramari. The entire nation had militarised; courage, belief and righteous zeal had sustained them when food and hope ran short. Even the Celestarum, the church of their giving and beneficent goddess, had armed itself. Celestar was now depicted as a warrior maiden with fire in her heart, forced to battle in defence of her chosen people, forced to do terrible things for the greater good.

Perhaps it was an inability to let go of their hatred that led Vramaire down a darker path. Perhaps years of depredation had simply hardened the hearts of a once welcoming and tolerant people. Whatever the reason, the Vramari now mistrusted where they once trusted. Their suffering had bred suspicion, and they vowed never to allow an enemy to inflict such losses on Vramaire again. There was a desire to punish, and to lay blame: and at the centre of things was the Argent Basilica.

During the war, the Basilica had performed admirable work. A strange hybrid of political and clerical orders, it had sent its zetetic priests into the field as spies and missionaries. In peace, the zetetics turned their steely gaze on the Vramari people. The Basilica, like much of Vramaire, had become gripped with an unshakeable belief in its own virtue. They were a chosen people. Had they not held the line when others quaked in fear? Was it not their hand that had finally struck down the Eater of Men? Did not the other free peoples of the world owe them everything?

With such logic as this, it is not difficult to accept all that has happened since then: the outlawing of all religions except the Celestarum; the expansion into godless lands; the enslavement of the orcs. Each new atrocity done in the name of a gentle god, and each done so subtlety and with such organic reason that even the people of Vramaire themselves accepted it unquestionably.

Vramaire Today

Today Vramaire is a vast land, stretching from the Emerald Reaches in the south, to the Orcish Steppes in the north. It is a human nation, with a large orcish minority who are almost exclusively slaves. A community of dwarves known as the Masters of Thekk dwell in the Iron Hills to the far east, but with that exception very few other thinking races call Vramaire home.

Vramaire is a harsh and unforgiving country, still cloaked in the delusion of righteousness and respectability. The people remember their glory days, and believe all other nations to be in their debt. They are proud, and mistrustful of strangers. Foreigners are not welcome, and dissension is firmly crushed. Zetetic priests have ultimate authority to arrest, detain, torture and execute troublemakers. Orcs have no rights, and are put to the most menial and degrading tasks imaginable – in retribution for the crimes of their antecedents.

The Argent Basilica is the real power; the triumvirate and the king really answer to Proctor Melchior Vane, who considers himself on a divinely empowered mission. There are few opponents to his will.

A knightly order of paladins led by the exiled Sir Loxlow Burroughs believe that the country has changed so much that it must be the result of malign magical interference. He searches the country for the "source", and sees the Eater of Men behind every corner.

The only credible resistance is led by the enigmatic Elloe, a beauteous bard from the recently incinerated College of Rivenmouth. She has no real force of arms, but has masterminded a large leaflet and broadside campaign, and introduced many seditious songs into the local vernacular.

DM's Secrets

Gazzak Kahn is a brutal and charismatic orc, working to free his people by any means necessary. His indiscriminate butchery of Vramari would seem to rule him out as an ally of any sensible revolutionist.

Sir Loxlow believes to have uncovered the source of corruption in the Wytchwood nine miles east of Verity. A force of a dozen knights entered the woodland seven nights ago and have not returned.

The Theologians of Thekk are questioning why Celestar should continue to grant clerical powers to a Celestarum that has so completely lost its way. They suspect a malign deity has supplanted the weeping goddess.

Genealogical research has revealed Melchior Vane has an orc ancestor. By his own law, he would be stripped of his titles and cast into slavery. Various groups are clamouring to prove this assertion. Gazzark Kahn is said to hold an artefact that only functions for one of orcish blood. Could Kahn hold the fate of Vramaire? What would be his price?

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? Check.
Submission is within the word limit? Check. 994.
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.

The Exchange Kobold Press

Extremely clever design, with competing interests and credible alternate versions of events. This country has DEPTH, and that's a valuable element for any country that is more than a pit-stop between dungeons. It hints at more in a good way.

The writing is evocative, and the flavor is subtle and effective. Strong points for story as well, giving half-orcs a reasonable reason for existing in large numbers and changing the role of orcs themselves. That's nice work. Combine that with giving Vramaire paladins a concrete quest and a challenging social environment, and you've got Superstar written all over this.

Throw in the strong section of DM Secrets, which take the premises from the earlier sections and give them twists to put the setting in motion.

There's no doubt: Strongly RECOMMENDED for Top 16.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Wow, I can't believe I disagree this strongly with Wolfgang.

Fluff (writing, grammar, style, evocative prose, etc.): B-
The Good: Evocative.
The Bad: Not consistently excellent. Overdone in parts. Never learned that less is more.

Crunch (basics, rules issues, depth of the setting, details, etc.): C-
The Good: Some suggestive nuggets, but not enough.
The Bad: Lacks crunch.

Design (choices made, format, naming, originality, theme, balance--ie, is the submission heavy in one part but lacking in another?): B-
The Good: The quote is such a good choice. Stresses conflict. By choice, a very European/French Revolution-based fantasy country. Runs the risk of cliché, but seems to beat the odds. Some good names, despite coming dangerously close to bad ones. There are some nuggets here, they just don’t shine through enough for me.
The Bad: To much focus on history. That makes for a great story, but need to do more with less in a 1000-word country submission. Makes you give too little space to the DM section. A big flaw. Clearly, you are overly-enamored of your history section. That may be fun for you, but it is less so for readers and players. The conflict theme never seemed to crystalize for me and didn't come through in the end.

Play (setting for adventure? campaign? is there conflict? are there play limitations?): B-
The Good: Some good conflicts and play options.
The Bad: Limited by its very European, real world roots. Not welcoming to all classes and races.

Tilt (my personal take, is it evocative? do I want to play there? does it capture my imagination?): C+
Not a big fan.

Overall: C+
An entry that is too limited by its quasi-real European historical setting and mired in too much historical detail and not enough theme and play options.


Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

Before I get too far ahead of myself, I must confess that the shroud of old souls was one of my very favorite wondrous items, so I go into this submission with very high expectations.

Again I must admit that the two or three sentences of evocative fluff at the top of these is really winning me over. I think it might get tedious in a full-length gazetteer, but it's a great way to ease us into a single entry. And this one fires on all cylinders with a highly enjoyable quotation.

I think I would have preferred a bit more context about the "Eater of Men" from the opening history paragraph. I'm unclear on what I'm supposed to make of him. Is he literally an "abomination," or is that just an overstated description of a simple orc warlord?

I like the name Celestar, and I like the idea of a living god changing as her people change, warped by war. I think anyone living in America right now (or Iraq, for that matter) has a better understanding of how war can change society than we did a decade ago, so the theme seems timely and interesting.

As an aside, it would be nice to see a blight described with an adjective other than cancerous once in my career. I dare to dream.

I am really digging the idea of a noble society grown rotten to the core by a brush with disaster. The shell-shocked nature of this society really appeals to me on a number of levels, and suggests numerous ideas for adventure. I do think the adventure potential here is for a very humanocentric cloak and dagger style campaign, with lots of nasty missions going on under cover of darkness. So a traditionalist more interested in dwarves and myconids and stuff might scoff at this direction, or more appropriately might find it needlessly limiting and boring.

I'd try to have my cake and eat it too, and include other countries more appropriate for that style of play elsewhere in the gazetteer. A lot of people would really dig this country--me among them--and there's no reason all countries have to be all things to all people.

I like the enslavement of orcs. That's sort of in-your-face twisting of the standard fantasy trope forces some interesting introspecting for the players. Should orcs be rescued from slavery? Is it evil to enslave an evil orc? If it is evil, what should a good PC do about it?

The problem with a setting that plays with the intersection of morality and alignment is that the GM NEEDS to know the correct answer to these questions. If a society that claims to be good is not in fact good, what are the alignment repercussions? Simply tossing out alignment is not an option for RPG Superstar (or Paizo), as that is part of the core rules.

This adds a little burden on the GM, but I personally think the decadence of the society is an interesting enough payoff. I'm not sure I'd want to set an entire campaign in Vramaire, but I do think it would make for an interesting extended stay.

I don't love the name, I must say. In fact, I think names are the weakest part of this submission. Emerald Reaches? Orcish Steppes? IRON HILLS? That was underwhelming when Gygax put it in Greyhawk in 1980. It hasn't aged well in nearly 30 years. They're not all bad, though. I love the Dwarves of Thekk and especially the city of Rivenmouth (even if on reflection it is kind of a swipe of Rivendell).

I like the idea of the seditious bard printing broadsheets and introducing subversive songs to undermine the corrupt government. That sort of background cultural detail really makes a place come alive for me.

This setting really appeals to me, and while it is far less "fantastical" than others, it appeals to my own biases and tastes strongly. As an editor and a publisher, I try to put myself in the mindset of the "general" fan. A lot of times that matches up well with my own tastes, and other times it doesn't.

A good example is the tibbit, in the Dragon Compendium. Basically, it's a human that can turn into a housecat. My first thought when I came across it in an old Dragon? Holy crap is that lame as Hell. My second thought? Holy crap some people will absolutely LOVE this.

Much as I expected a great deal of the early feedback on the book included praises of the tibbit, and I've seen it cited as an in-use player character race more often that any other creature in the book save perhaps the dvati. So in that case I made a call that was against my own sense of cool AND against the general sense of cool because I knew the idea would strongly appeal to a certain subset of players.

What I am trying to say here is that I suspect gamers who enjoy dark, political, urban settings with things like seditious broadsheets, slander, and revolution are a similar minority in D&D fandom. In this case, I myself belong to that minority, so I think my personal preference is guiding me more than my sense of what the general audience might like.

But what the hell, I get a vote like everyone else, and I adore stuff like this.

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

So, part of my process on this is that when I open a new thread, I command-click open a reply window in another tab, and type comments as they occur to me while reading the entry.

I want people to see how an editor thinks, and give a sort of real-time evaluation of my thought process. What I don't do is read the comments before formulating my own opinion.

But now that I've posted my opinion and see Clark's response, I am wondering if we read the same entry.

Hey, Clark, you should read this one again when you're going back through these. I think you missed something early in the submission that would help you grok the conflict, which is that the society has rotted and is dealing with the aftermath of a near-cataclysm. The conflict is social, and it is internal.

I didn't get a medieval Europe vibe off of this at all. If anything I got a Reign of Terror post-French Revolution vibe, which rather than medieval strikes me as decidedly more modern than your standard D&D approach. Almost too much, perhaps.

I'll grant you that France is part of Europe, of course.

Give this one another chance, man! :)

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Erik, at your suggestion, and knowing you are much better at this than me, I will take another look.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

I just cant get past the French Revolution feel and Joan of Arc and the Bastille and Raphael. I dont know. It is just hanging me up and clouding my take on this.

I guess I made a bad comment when I said medieval. I clearly meant French Revolution-era.

I agree, to me it is too modern and it is too tied to that setting. I wouldnt mind if the author borrowed themes, but the submission went beyond that and just lifted historical events and put a fantasy spin on it.

It just didnt work for me. But I respect your opinion and took another look at it.

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

And that is why you are one of my three favorite judges in this contest!

The Exchange Kobold Press

Erik Mona wrote:

I didn't get a medieval Europe vibe off of this at all. If anything I got a Reign of Terror post-French Revolution vibe, which rather than medieval strikes me as decidedly more modern than your standard D&D approach. Almost too much, perhaps.

See, and here I thought that the modern parallel would be the United States. Orcs and slavery, growing climate of suspicion or xenophobia, etc. Not saying that I agree with that assessment of recent US history, mind you, but that comparison seemed to fit better than France, which has no history of slavery in the same way.

Honestly, though, second-guessing the author's inspiration is a fool's game. What matters is that the conflict works for a fantasy kingdom because it offers hooks for the PCs to get involved. What modern nation we compare it with is less imporant. Though I'd be curious to know what Neil's model was, if indeed that was his strategy.

Scarab Sages Marathon Voter Season 7

Pathfinder Card Game, Rulebook Subscriber


I like some of the setting but it screams out at me, "political statement!" And its not a subtle scream either.

Wicht wrote:


I like some of the setting but it screams out at me, "political statement!" And its not a subtle scream either.

Hmmm, I didn't get that at all even after going back and re-reading it. Nor did I really get a feeling of just historical events with a fantasy spin.

Erik makes a good point about alignment issues, but I do love the role-reversals and shades of moral gray this country presents. In my home campaigns we rarely bother with alignment anyway, so it doesn't bug me a bit from a DM perspective.

I like the name "Argent Basilica", but the rest of the names don't do much for me.

This one has panache. The use of "zetetic" also trumps the unfortunate "Vr" consonant collision in the name, which is hard to pronounce. I like it.

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I caught the French Revolution flavor, too, and didn't like the taste. There are some things (morphing goddess, orc slaves) I really like, but I can't shake the "Les Miserables" vibe ... ugh. Likewise, some of the names (Malchior Vane, Sir Loxlow Burrough) are up the opposite alley from the one I prefer.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka SmiloDan

This kind of reminded me of George R.R. Martin crossed with China Mieville. I love me some moral ambiguity, which is hard to use in D&D.

Erik - you and me are totally different gamers, then. I thought the Tibbit was the best (and only interesting, to me) race in the book, truth be told.

That said, this one just didn't click for me. There is depth, but nothing that really makes me go "hey, cool, I need to run this!" the names didn't Jive well with me, either.

The DM secrets idea, though, is probably the best I've seen so far, and I've read most of the entries now. I like how that was set up.

I really like this entry. This is a good example of an evil empire with a believable background. I disagree with the earlier poster who thought this entry is a thinly veiled political statement. Fantasy literature is full of empires and kingdoms that slowly transformed from bastions of good to models of corruption, all without its people noticing the change.

I like that the setting isn't black and white, but shades of grey, and that there is a wide range of possible adventures, from standard hack-and-slash to political intrigue.

This entry is definitely in my top 5.


I seriously thought I was only going to need two votes until I hit this entry.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6 aka TerraNova

Originally my favorite, it managed to just barely fall to the second place after i read another country a bit closer.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 8 aka Sect

Okay, anyways, I like the theme of this country: a good country does evil to survive, and doesn't realize that their becoming what they hate. However, my big dig on this is the DM secrets: they seem more like public knowledge that secret.

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

This is very well done, and if nothing better comes along you will receive my vote.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I like this nation. It has allows appealed to me when a nation strives to wipe out evil they become more evil than there obsession. That leaves me two more votes.

Dark Archive RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 aka Fatespinner

I also like this one, and it tentatively has my vote. It reminds me very much of the Protectorate of Menoth from Privateer Press's Iron Kingdoms setting and it may or may not have been an inspiration for this entry. Still, good stuff here.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

This is either my second or third favorite of all the thirty-two.

The flavor quote at the beginning is sheer genius. Lots of meaty adventure bits, totally believable setup, all it needs is a giant magical artifact in the center of the capital. :) Okay, maybe not. But the moral ambiguity is a great device for creating ethical quandaries among the lawful-good PCs.


Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6

This one is one of my keepers.

Liberty's Edge

Bright Dark Ages. Alright, I have to admit my bias towards this entry, as it contains a lot of thematic similarities to my home-brew campaign – and it looks to me like this one is well done. I also love the quote at the beginning (again, partially because it’s the sort of thing I would have done – but it also captures the essence of the entry very well).

I think this one is well written and evocative. I like the moral quandaries that are set up. I like the DM secret section.

Liberty's Edge

Wicht wrote:


I like some of the setting but it screams out at me, "political statement!" And its not a subtle scream either.

I can't claim to know the author's intentions ... but I seriously doubt it.

My own homebrew campaign is very similar to this entry in a lot of ways, and I can assure you that there is no political statement being made.

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

Mothman wrote:
Wicht wrote:


I like some of the setting but it screams out at me, "political statement!" And its not a subtle scream either.

I can't claim to know the author's intentions ... but I seriously doubt it.

My own homebrew campaign is very similar to this entry in a lot of ways, and I can assure you that there is no political statement being made.

As far as seeing a political statement, I wonder if some people were caught up by the advocate for orc rights wanting to fight for those rights "by any means necessary," making him the orcish Malcolm X.

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

Vraiment, this is one of my favorite entries. I think it's dangerously close to my third lock.

Just the sort of setting I personally prefer, and a well-done version of it at that.

Some of the names are a little iffy, but you get major points for sending me reaching for a dictionary to see what "zetetic" meant. Great use of evocative vocabulary there.

Strong probably.

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


This setting is very close to the country I had settled on if I made it to the second round. I turned down four other projects to write out a country that also lost its way. There are marked differences, but I like that the similarites are getting good reviews. Even the quote to set the tone at the beginning:

"From the beginning we were blind. We saw our grand temples, but not the crimes within them. We looked on our neighbors and saw enemies. We were deceived by our king, but seduced by our own self-righteousness."
Grahalziel, fallen gold dragon


So, not surprisingly, this makes my top 3 right away. I wanted to design the sort of place that speaks to my needs as a player and GM, so I am naturally compelled to support a strong effort that also meets those needs.

To be honest, maybe even moreso. I also love depraved evil characters, and while my country would let me go all LNG superpaladin, this entry allows both that and the chance to play something more insidious.

I think the prose is not as strong as some of the other entries, but still compelling and descriptive. I don't feel that a lot of words are wasted on anything.

I think some of the DM secrets don't live up to the category name - this place has the potential to create political and moral headaches, and to force adventurers to uncover schemes within schemes. That excites and challenges me. If there is crunchy combat to boot, I think every gamer wants that well-crafted campaign where they are challenged, pressed, manipulated, outsmarted, but ultimately victorious.

This has all that potential, and is unlikely to be unseated from my five.

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 forgot one item that troubled me when I was designing the above quote, and the conversation about the same thing in this thread compels me to post this. I don't want to start a flame thing, I am perfectly satisified for the conversation to stay focused on the superstars and their entries.

But I did not intend my country submission to be a US/Iraq allegory, and I didn't get that vibe from this entry. Even wars perceived mostly as just and necessary (revolution, ww2) have their tense moments and moral questions that compel even the most peaceful part of us. As for me, I am quite content to keep the F in VFW, though I am not trying to start that discussion here.

I just wanted to make sure no one thought of my quote as a thinly veiled derision of the US, and state plainly that I don't really get that feeling as much from this superstar entry.

Fascinating. As I am big fan of moral ambiguity, this country does interest me. Some of the names are a bit ehh but generally, an interesting entry and contender for my vote.

The Exchange

Got my vote too, however what tipped it over a few others was the Shroud.

Well Done Neil


RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6 aka adanedhel9

I really enjoyed this one. The dynamics and moral ambiguity really sing to me.

The history is well done and contributes to the whole (which is more than the rest of the histories I've read), but it certainly could've been cut down some.

I'm not certain that your seditious bard is "credible resistance". This could've been corrected with more info on how effective her campaigns are.

The names are all over the place. Some are very evocative and interesting, but others seem pulled from a grab bag or are just flat.

Nonetheless, this is one of my favorites.

This entry had a lot of really good ideas but there were two things I was hoping for:

1. More information on the Eater of Men. That is such a cool title for a bad-guy and I was hoping it would get fleshed out more. I think if we knew a little bit more about who or what the Eater of Men was it would provide a lot of adventure ideas.

2. I would make the Argent Basilica (great name!) a little less front and center in the government. I like the cloak-and-dagger style of things and making their influence a little more subtle would be nice.

Great entry though and great ideas.

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

I think this entry is a very good implementation of a force for good turned evil. Most of the people still think they are doing what is "right". Close to the top of the list for me so far.


I like it, but did I miss the geographic descriptions of the country? Were they there?

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

First sentence: A well written and intriguing foreshadowing piece that works well to colour the following few paragraphs. This is very good structure.

The Triumvirate is well designed as a ruling institution.

The description of the war against the orcs is not over-long and evocatively described.

Some names are excellent (Vramari, Theologians of Thekk) and some are clangers (Burroughs, Kahn). In the spirit of another entry, Elloe would look very good with a diacritical. Word usage likewise ranges from inspired to questionable.

I very much like the problems arising from the end of a great war, the deluded paladin Sir Loxlow (despite his surname), the propaganda resistance and the role of Gazzark (despite his surname and his variable first name).

The reputed orc blood of Melchior is very nicely presented. The possibility of proving it by an orcish artifact needs much more thought to work plausibly.

Writing is shaky, but in places excellent. This is a possible keeper.

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

Starglim wrote:
In the spirit of another entry, Elloe would look very good with a diacritical.

Sorry, dieresis.

Love the conflict and timeliness, even if the subject matter might be just a little cliche.

Place your votes.

Liberty's Edge Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Compelling... but am I really supposed to feel sympathy for orcs? I would have preferred a more neutral race, like lizardfolk, comprising the slave population.

I really like the idea of starting the entry with a quote to give the feel of the entry, but the problem is, the quote itself really isn't compelling enough to give me a feel for the entry. Without context, it feels like a generic call to arms against evil. Great idea, but it should have a bit more texture to it, to make it worth reading in its own right, and to give the feel you want without having to reference the article itself.

This wouldn't be too hard to drop into an existing campaign, and its a fairly decent nation to work with and use. But nothing really jumps out at me to make me want to use this instead of another nation. Its kind of serviceable, but not really exceptional.

The funny thing about fantasy is that classic themes can either seem classic or trite, depending on how they are presented. This one feels like it tips a bit toward the latter, unfortunately. I almost feel like I'm reading the textbook, "this is how a lawful society turns into tyrannical state," discourse.

I will say that the I like how you did manage to avoid over simplifying the orc plight. Given that a major fantasy author working in the RPG industry can't avoid rewriting history to make orcs more sympathetic, I think its great that your orc rebel still acts like an orc. I think its more compelling for the PCs to realize what is being done to the orcs is wrong, even if orcs themselves aren't saints. It adds much more depth to the whole situation, and avoids easy oversimplifications.

I feel like I kind of lost where the church ended up being the driving force here. I felt like the militaristic rulers started the drive towards tyranny, the religion became more militaristic because the society did, but then we skip ahead and the church is the driving force behind the tyrannical behavior. If there was a period where the military leaders felt they were going too far, and went to the priest for spiritual guidance, and the priests took the lead in the war, it would make some kind of sense, but it feels like an unexplained switcheroo to me without this in the history.

I like the idea that neighboring clergy are wary of the church and its patron, and the orc rebel, and I like the orc blood angle, but the bard is just kind of bland. There just feels like there should be something more to her and her movement.

Overall, usable, and not bad, nice touch in the presentation and a few good details, but not really a great concept.

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

KnightErrantJR wrote:
I like the idea that neighboring clergy are wary of the church and its patron, and the orc rebel, and I like the orc blood angle, but the bard is just kind of bland. There just feels like there should be something more to her and her movement.

I found it unusual and attractive that the bard most effectively opposes the state by being a bard. It sets up a political dimension to the game, something like Michael Moorcock's Winds of Limbo.

Starglim wrote:
KnightErrantJR wrote:
I like the idea that neighboring clergy are wary of the church and its patron, and the orc rebel, and I like the orc blood angle, but the bard is just kind of bland. There just feels like there should be something more to her and her movement.
I found it unusual and attractive that the bard most effectively opposes the state by being a bard. It sets up a political dimension to the game, something like Michael Moorcock's Winds of Limbo.

I liked it, but that's why I wish a little more of the entry had to do with that aspect of the rebellion. I would have liked a little more of a feel for this.

'Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!'
Was that the way that the Monty Python line went?
And you have unleashed a terrifying fantasy version upon an unwitting country, with a theme of corruption of things which ought once to have been noble and good, in the best of some fantasy traditions...
Which is my roundabout way of saying you have one of my votes.

The "good religious kingdom gone Neutral" has been done before (Theocracy of the Pale, etc). The addition of the orc slavery/discrimination angle is interesting though. I like this country OK, though perhaps not enough for top 5.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka amusingsn

I'm a sucker for the struggle between law and chaos, and that theme is definitely present here, and that is appreciated.

The idea is a strong one: good loses its way battling evil. Unfortunately, it feels like the author had a bright burning vision and couldn't quite get it across. The submission is full of excellent ideas that just never quite gel.

No time to read other posts. I thought this was "standard" and well written. Didn't really see anything new here but definitely competent (as in able to churn out standard fantasy series novels.)

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