Beria "Under New Management"


Round 2: Design a country

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In the end my votes went elsewhere. This is a solid example of interesting ideas that I wouldn't spend money on because of the level of writing involved.

That said, I really think that ideas are the hard part. Stick to working on your voice and writing (all which can be improved with effort), and I think you could do some work in the future.

I'm not certain there's time to correct it for this contest, however.

Good luck!

Liberty's Edge

I was going to chime in with an elephant grave yard when I was pulled away to succor the squawking scion. Great minds, wot wot.


propeliea wrote:

That said, I really think that ideas are the hard part. Stick to working on your voice and writing (all which can be improved with effort), and I think you could do some work in the future.

I'm not certain there's time to correct it for this contest, however.

Good luck!

Good to know. Yeah, if Hal learns how to write he can move beyond non writing like this: (personally, I wish the poor kid luck)

Issue #358 "Fur and Feathers", 2007 (author)
Issue #355 "Seven Saintly Domains", 2007 (author)
Issue #354 "Aged Adventurers", 2007 (author)
Issue #337 "Class Acts - Sorcerer: Spell Grafts", 2005 (author)
Issue #336 "Class Acts - Sorcerer: Poltergeists", "Class Acts - Wizard: Dark Pacts", 2005 (author)
Issue #335 "Class Acts - Fighter: Cultured Combatants II", 2005 (author)
Issue #334 "Class Acts: Nowhere to Hide", "Class Acts: That Which Does Not Kill, part II", 2005 (author)
Issue #333 "Class Acts - Fighter: Cultured Combatants I", 2005 (author)
Issue #330 "Class Acts - Bard: Songs of Peace", 2005 (author)
Issue #323 "Seven Deadly Domains", 2004 (author)

Dungeon Magazine

Issue #136 "Campaign Workbook - The Dungeon: Magic Mushrooms", 2006 (author)
Issue #135 "Campaign Workbook - The Journey: Polders", 2006 (author)
Issue #127 "Critical Threat: Glimmerpane", 2005 (author)

Dragon Magazine #354, Paizo Publishing, Mar 2007
Dragon Magazine #355, Paizo Publishing, Apr 2007
Dragon Magazine #357, Paizo Publishing, Jun 2007
Dragon Magazine #358, Paizo Publishing, Jul 2007

Heathansson wrote:
I was going to chime in with an elephant grave yard when I was pulled away to succor the squawking scion. Great minds, wot wot.

Hear hear!


The Jade wrote:
propeliea wrote:

That said, I really think that ideas are the hard part. Stick to working on your voice and writing (all which can be improved with effort), and I think you could do some work in the future.

I'm not certain there's time to correct it for this contest, however.

Good luck!

Good to know. Yeah, if Hal learns how to write he can move beyond non writing like this: (personally, I wish the poor kid luck)

Issue #358 "Fur and Feathers", 2007 (author)
Issue #355 "Seven Saintly Domains", 2007 (author)
Issue #354 "Aged Adventurers", 2007 (author)
Issue #337 "Class Acts - Sorcerer: Spell Grafts", 2005 (author)
Issue #336 "Class Acts - Sorcerer: Poltergeists", "Class Acts - Wizard: Dark Pacts", 2005 (author)
Issue #335 "Class Acts - Fighter: Cultured Combatants II", 2005 (author)
Issue #334 "Class Acts: Nowhere to Hide", "Class Acts: That Which Does Not Kill, part II", 2005 (author)
Issue #333 "Class Acts - Fighter: Cultured Combatants I", 2005 (author)
Issue #330 "Class Acts - Bard: Songs of Peace", 2005 (author)
Issue #323 "Seven Deadly Domains", 2004 (author)

Dungeon Magazine

Issue #136 "Campaign Workbook - The Dungeon: Magic Mushrooms", 2006 (author)
Issue #135 "Campaign Workbook - The Journey: Polders", 2006 (author)
Issue #127 "Critical Threat: Glimmerpane", 2005 (author)

Dragon Magazine #354, Paizo Publishing, Mar 2007
Dragon Magazine #355, Paizo Publishing, Apr 2007
Dragon Magazine #357, Paizo Publishing, Jun 2007
Dragon Magazine #358, Paizo Publishing, Jul 2007

Heathansson wrote:
I was going to chime in with an elephant grave yard when I was pulled away to succor the squawking scion. Great minds, wot wot.

Hear hear!

Many of us have credits in Dragon and other magazines. This entry didn't show that level of skill. I judged the entry, not the bibliography.


propeliea wrote:


Many of us have credits in Dragon and other magazines. This entry didn't show that level of skill. I judged the entry, not the bibliography.

As do I. It was the "Stick to working on your voice and writing (all which can be improved with effort), and I think you could do some work in the future." I found amusing and worthy of fun-poking. You can't say that to a professional writer without sounding condescending. I hope you take my point with a grin and don't think I'm flaming you, because this is anything but my intention.

Seperate note (based on what I'm seeing in a few of the other country offerings): I can understand why people may return to explain why they like a certain contest idea, but why they come back to complain about what they didn't like multiple times seems a bit callous considering other people's hopes and dreams are on the line. You're a bona fide poster, Propeliea, but I'm thinking some folks are sock puppets for the other entrants.

Popularity contests invite this sort of thing.


The Jade wrote:
propeliea wrote:


Many of us have credits in Dragon and other magazines. This entry didn't show that level of skill. I judged the entry, not the bibliography.

As do I. It was the "Stick to working on your voice and writing (all which can be improved with effort), and I think you could do some work in the future." I found amusing. You can't say that to a professional writer without sounding condescending. I hope you take my point with a grin and don't think I'm flaming you, because this is anything but my intention.

Seperate note (based on what I'm seeing in a few of the other country offerings): I can understand why people may return to explain why they like a certain contest idea, but why they come back to complain about what they didn't like multiple times seems a bit callous considering other people's hope and dreams are on the line. You're a bona fide poster, Propeliea, but I'm thinking some folks are sock puppets for the other entrants.

Popularity contests invite this sort of thing.

I can see why it might feel condescending, and I always felt you were posting from your actual feelings, not flaming. I just diagree on the nature of criticism. I think we can all learn from feedback. Knowing what sounds good and writing enough to achieve that sound are two different tasks. Frankly, some of the best writers in hsitroy have written utter crap at times, and people should feel okay about pointing that out. [Disclaimer: I am not implying this piece is utter crap, I enjoyed it enough to consdier voting for it, which is above and beyond about 20 other entries.]

I could read something in The New Yorker and feel inclined to criticize the writing even if I've never been accepted by them. (hey, I've only submitted twice)

I think in a contest like this, you have to want criticism more than praise, because it'll help you more in the long run. Maybe mine was too general, but maybe Hal can use it as motivation going forward.

I certainly never intended it to be dismissive. And I admit that seeing his credits gives me hope that this can be righted if he goes on to the next round. Signs around do seem to indicate he might.

I have to think that Vic and the team could see the signs of any sock puppets.


propeliea wrote:


I can see why it might feel condescending, and I always felt you were posting from your actual feelings, not flaming. I just diagree on the nature of criticism. I think we can all learn from feedback. Knowing what sounds good and writing enough to achieve that sound are two different tasks. Frankly, some of the best writers in hsitroy have written utter crap at times, and people should feel okay about pointing that out. [Disclaimer: I am not implying this piece is utter crap, I enjoyed it enough to consdier voting for it, which is above and beyond about 20 other entries.]

I could read something in The New Yorker and feel inclined to criticize the writing even if I've never been accepted by them. (hey, I've only submitted twice)

I think in a contest like this, you have to want criticism more than praise, because it'll help you more in the long run. Maybe mine was too general, but maybe Hal can use it as motivation going forward.

I certainly never intended it to...

I'm not saying professional writing is above criticism. (I thrive on constructive criticism. It's the only reason I'm published)

I'm saying telling a professional writer, "Keep at it, kid. Ya might improve." takes the mighty balls of Sampson. <G>

I truly hope what you say is true about Vic and friends being able to root out the sock puppets. All these guys deserve a fair shake.


Hal has my vote. It was though, but I would rather give the thumbs up to someone who has a great imagination and ability to link interesting concepts together then an artfully written entry that offers very little that hasn’t been done before.

The high points of beria for me where often ones that others have already stated but are worth mentioning again. The disinterested ruler ship of the Ukuke is great, which boils down to almost business as usual just as long as we get or due. It reminds me a little bit of some of the more successful assimilations of actually history such as the Arabic conquests of the dark age. And it wouldn’t surprise me if the Akul were still ruling Beria centuries later over a population that now thoroughly identify as Azul themselves.

- That the Ukuke themselves are not meek placid subject of there king and yet are not scheming mal contents. Your have blazed a middle path between extreme with perfect pose making what would seem difficult to me look like Childs play.

- A resonate explanation for the collapse of opposition. I can really feel the Berians horror over the violation of thier taboo.

- I normally lycanthropes of any stripe aren’t my cup of tea but not so the Ukuke. They feel very different then the raviling beasts, hunters of men or sewer lurking thieves we have seen in many times, too many times in the likes of offical game material. Awesome remaining!

Some people have pointed out the your writing style doesn’t grab the readers attention which was true. I also think it would have been nice if the distinction between the Azul and Uk was made a little more clear (How I read it the Ukuke are the lycanthropic population within the Azul nationality/ethnic group).

Excellent work Hal you have won my vote and I cannot wait to see what your capable next round.

Grade A


[QUOTE="The Jade"

I'm not saying professional writing is above criticism. (I thrive on constructive criticism. It's the only reason I'm published)

I'm saying telling a professional writer, "Keep at it, kid. Ya might improve." takes the mighty balls of Sampson. <G>

I truly hope what you say is true about Vic and friends being able to root out the sock puppets. All these guys deserve a fair shake.

Heh, why I actively avoid diminutives. Well, one reason I do, anyway. I stick by the criticism of style and voice in this entry, but regret the ending clause a bit. It might ought to have been more tightly written to reflect this contest.

But writing in any industry isn't for the meek. Anyway, I think we certainly understand each other and I don't want to threadjack further away from an entry that can still garner more votes trhough active discussion.

To repeat my postive criticism as well, I too am a big fan of were-elephants.


propeliea wrote:


Heh, why I actively avoid diminutives. Well, one reason I do, anyway.

Dwarf hater.

The Ukuke sing this song as they charge into battle:

Short People got no reason to live
They got little hands and little eyes
And they walk around tellin' great big lies
They got little noses and tiny little teeth
They wear platform shoes on dey nasty little feet
Well, I don't want no Short People 'round here
Short People are just the same as you and I
(A Fool Such As I)
All men are brothers until the day they die
(It's A Wonderful World)
Short People got nobody to love
They got little baby legs and they stand so low
You got to pick 'em up just to say hello
They got little cars that got beep, beep, beep
They got little voices goin' peep, peep, peep
They got grubby little fingers and dirty little minds
They're gonna get you every time
Well, I don't want no Short People
'Round here


There's things I like here and things I don't. The were-elephant angle is cool - having read Larry Niven's SF novel "Footfall" I feel like I could get into it. Maybe have them be a different monster instead, more of an elephantwere (like the jackalwere).

I don't know about all the permanent magic effects on the collaborators - especially given the population of *3 Million!* Even 5% of that is an assload. I'd cut that to 300k and be a lot happier with the entry.

And the "Under New Management" tagline is anachronistic and put a bad taste in my mouth before I got to the meat of the country, which is an issue.

The naming needs a little tweaking - Azul = blue in Spanish, and Ukeke is too much like Ukelele.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka amusingsn

I like that the little voice in your head said "Were-Elephants" and you answered it with, "I can make that work!"


I like the were-elephants, but it's not enough to sell me on its own.

There were definitely some sentence structure issues, and maybe that bugged me more than most. I loved the threat of being raised as undead, especially when combined with cultural taboos -- nicely done. I had the same problems others did with "Under New Management", but I also liked the time spent on current/recent events.

I especially liked the "beneficial rulers" mentioned by another poster.

"Okay, aside from the roads, and the aquaducts..."


Absolutely love this one. My favorite of the 14 or 15 I've read so far. When I saw the tagline I thought it was corny and not needed. When I say great earthshaker were-Elephant, I said (out loud),"F&)#*&%^g kickass! Yes! Yes!"

I liked the faceless and the untouchables a lot too, better names that translate to these would be good (ala Clark's suggestion). The map description was a stroke of genius.

The only thing that bothered me is that they charged across the ocean to take over and then all turned into couch potatoes.

I'm ready to play in this world.

Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Ragwaine wrote:

...

I'm ready to play in this world.

That was the last question in my voting, right after 'innovative concept?' Since the answer to both was yes you made my top 8 HM. I think the Werephelants made it the top three, but I think it was the social taboo and not the visuals that made them real for me. Yeah the visuals are great too! Nicely done.

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder aka Robert G. McCreary

Were-elephants - truly original. I would love to see the stats on those. I also liked the reverse colonialism going on.

Like others, I was not a fan of the "Under New Management" tag, and Anshaka, the Great Earthshaker, together with kraals, reminded me too much of Shaka Zulu, also known as "the Great Elephant". Kraals should be kept for the flavor, of course, but I would have liked the ruler to be a little more removed from real-world inspiration (or so it seemed to me).

Good luck on advancing, I'm really curious to see what else you'll give us.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read my entry! Whether you ultimately decided you liked it or not (let alone voted for it) I appreciate you loaning me your eyes for a few moments and hope that the experience wasn't too unsettling :) (Marc Anthony asked for ears, eyes are strictly my department)

Now that rules about avoiding the audience have been lifted I plan to respond to some of the comments raised but I wanted to start with a specific thanks first.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

Some general comments:

I was surprised at some of the locations people gave this country. I was going for "early South Africa in reverse" with a European country invaded by an African culture.

Most of the domestic names were intended to convey that and, since I had aroused some ire with the nausea pill I tried to evoke real world analogues whenever possible. Beria came from "Iberia" the Roman name for Spain/Portugal. Albalong came from "Alba Longa" one of Rome's earliest neighboring towns as well as the old name for Brittain (not to mention modern Albania... :) ). Ashton and Oldport were intended to harken back to the English traditions of naming settlements. I thought if I used several different European countries I would get the point across more subtly.

I also referenced kings and knights, a mounted aristocracy, castles, vineyards, peasants toiling under the laws of serfdom and a number of other things I thought would would serve to convey the impression of a European nation. Maybe the zombie thing through folks off, since it harkens to carribean society, but in a fantasy setting it seemed a logical evolution.

I turned Zulu into "Azul" and most of the Azul names harken back to the Zulu language. Only the Ngtana were my own invention, I couldn't find a good equivalent, but I thought the "Ng" might serve as a glottal click so I slipped it in.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

Wicht wrote:


I don't know that I will vote for this country but I do like the image of a giant elephant man walking calmly among a slightly fearful populace.

The first time I read that I wanted to jump into the air! That's one of those moments you just pray for. When a reader takes your idea and makes it his or her own. Nice, very nice :)

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

Mactaka wrote:

Hmmm...

I like the Azul (were-elephants, zombies, etc) and wish that the author had developed their home country instead of 'Beria: Under New Management' which seems a little stale.

/sad ogre

Interesting point. I was already fixated on my original idea so it never occurred to me to try anything else. Maybe I should have taken a step back and thought about giving that notion a spin.

(sorry about the sad ogre :) )

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

Grimcleaver wrote:
The "under new management" thing was a real strike against this one from the start.

The rules of the contest said I needed to include an evocative concept line. I looked for the shortest one I could think of (since I only had a thousand words) that actually got the message across. "Under new management" did the trick so I tossed it in and got on to the parts I wanted to tackle. Reading some of the other entries has made me realize that I may have missed the point on that, or at least the judges weren't going to disqualify folks who decided not to include one. I still don't think it's that big a deal (however I use anachronistic subject headers in my stuff all the time) but if I was doing it over again I probably would not have included it.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

Wik wrote:


I did like the map in words - that worked perfectly well for me. I wish more entries had done this.

I disagree with the judge regarding "The untouchables" - I don't think it's a caste thing, and the name really fit the spell effect placed upon them. I really think the gifted Ivala make things cool - sort of like those who helped the Nazis in Occupied France. At least, that's what I thought of.

.

Glad you liked the map with words :) I thought some folks would find it helpful.

Yeah, the untouchables thing had me scratching my head too. I was going for a name that really got the spell effect across. In Erik's defense, he did have a lot of countries to read, so I should have made an effort to avoid something with two possible interpretations like that.

You got the collaborator angle exactly as I had hoped :)

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Hal, nice work. I'm glad you made the cut. I really liked the Nausea Pill and there were good chunks of your submission for this round that I really liked--heck, I recommended it for top 16. :) I think you need to spend the weekend really finding your villain concept and working a tightly designed theme. You always have good ideas, but they need just one notch better polish. Like the pill and the names that people posted for it. That is what I am talking about. I know you have the game to move on, so work hard and good luck!

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