Bereket


Round 2: Design a country

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

Bereket
"The Dark Heart of the Desert"
Alignment: NE
Capital: Ruxandra (pop. 24,992)
Notable Settlements: Aroksaar (pop. 3,742), Sahota (pop. 11,055)
Ruler: Queen Errani, Impola Nai’ima (high priestess) of the Verdant Obelisk (NE hf druid 18)
Government: Absolute monarchy, with day-to-day local governance by the priests (Impola) and heralds (Oninku) who serve the queen.

Resources: Spices, carved wood, gold
Imports: Slaves, cloth, silk

Description: The Bhatia Desert hides a strange wonder at its heart, the green and pleasant land of Bereket. This small nation is lush, wild, and beautiful, redolent with flowers, its trees teeming with brilliant-plumed birds. Surrounded by parched barrens and sandy wastes, the people of Bereket (mostly human, with a minority of gnomes and half-orcs) attribute their edenic surroundings to an ancient monument, the Verdant Obelisk, whose power tames the desert’s rage and issues forth the waters and powers of life.

This great monolith rises over 200 feet from the shallows of crystal-blue Lake Charat, its base shrouded in luxuriant moss. The obelisk seems almost to have grown rather than been built, like an enormous petrified tree, but closer examination also reveals the work of hands and ancient graven glyphs, some inscrutable but others clearly visible as sigils of nature. Built on the lakeshore and on piers and pilings on the surface of the lake around the obelisk is Ruxandra, seat of the beloved Queen Errani, whose age-whitened hair has not marred her dusky beauty nor age her wise judgment. The queen is also revered for her position as Impola Nai’ima, High Priestess of the Obelisk, calling forth the bounty of the spirits within, leading and guiding the lesser Impola and who spread the blessings of the obelisk throughout the land.

The Impola priests are supported by the Oninku, the Heralds of the Obelisk, whose leader, Jayyousi (NE gm bard 16), is chief advisor to the Queen. The Oninku bards crisscross the land, from the mining town of Aroksaar to the trade city of Sahota in Bereket’s northern savannah (the only part of Bereket seen by most outsiders), bringing news, issuing decrees, and mediating and resolving local disputes. They also question travelers about their business in the land (even if they already know, to test their truthfulness) and ensuring that they do not create trouble or turmoil. Those judged dangerous by the Oninku are ‘invited’ by magical charm or press gang to visit the mines of Aroksaar, and few return.

Bereket is a peaceful and contented land, happily trading with outsiders making the difficult journey there. The abundance of wild animals does make Bereket dangerous for lone travelers, and it is also troubled by mischievous genies from the surrounding desert who beguile the common folk with honeyed words and slanderous lies about their beloved queen and her servants.

DM Secrets: The pleasant façade Bereket shows the world conceals a predatory nation and culture controlled by the NE druids of the Impola. The natural bounty of Bereket is maintained and expanded through constant manipulation of the land, water, and weather through druidical magic, which is enhanced by the Verdant Obelisk as if using a metamagic rod to Enlarge, Extend, Empower, and Widen their spells. Though this works marvelously to Bereket’s benefit, it has severely disrupted the weather patterns in the surrounding Bhatia desert, resulting in destructive storms and advancing desertification in the lands beyond.

Queen Errani periodically sends secret delegations to surrounding lands demanding tribute of gold and slaves (usually put to work in the mines of Aroksaar) in exchange for druidical protection from the expanding desert. Towns that refuse are soon stricken with drought, storms, and blight by the Impola and swallowed up by the encroaching sands. Those who agree are spared as long as they keep paying tribute and do not speak ill of Bereket or its queen. Oninku ambassadors use persuasion, rumor-mongering, charms, illusions, and even assassination to conceal their involvement and maintain the reputation of Bereket. Their victims usually blame their fate on purely natural calamities or the work of capricious genies, demons, mad wizards, and their ilk.

Impola druids view Bereket’s citizens as a captive natural resource to be used at their pleasure. They enjoy transforming into predatory animals and ‘culling the herd,’ prowling the fields, forests, and villages and devouring the unwary, publicly attributing such disappearances to accidents or wild animals. Queen Errani herself rarely hunts, except when one of her servants displeases her and becomes the hunted.

The druids’ constant tampering with nature has raised the ire of the desert’s genies. Djinn and jann have long worked to undermine Bereket’s power and expose the corruption of its leaders, ambushing Oninku and Impola, and recruiting citizens and outlanders alike to join their fight. Oninku bards use mundane and magical persuasion (including liberal use of modify memory spells) to direct blame for all troubles onto these ‘rogue’ genies and the malcontents they have recruited to their side. They also use detect thoughts regularly to root out such troublemakers (and the overly curious) for enslavement or future hunts.

Adventure Hooks:

- Traveling in the desert, the PCs wander by accident into Bereket and interrupt an Impola hunt. If they help the hunted, they are targeted by the Impola for their own hunt. If they defeat their attackers, the jann notice and recruit them to aid the fight for freedom.
- Prince Kher of Agyria needs guards for a delegation to legendary Bereket, as desert traders (Oninku spies) say its queen can help halt the encroaching sands that have already consumed several border towns. (In truth, the prince has already made a deal, and the delegation and its guards, including the PCs, are to be enslaved on arrival.)
- Rampaging elementals have been appearing at random in Bereket. PCs are recruited to help. Their source is the Verdant Obelisk itself, as it has begun to develop sentience and awareness. It resents the uses to which it has been put and is lashing out, and PCs must focus its anger against the Impola, not the innocent.

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. Oh, ho! Right at 1000!
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

Maybe it's because I'm currently writing an Al-Qadim-style reunion for Open Design. Maybe it's just because I like genies. I want to like this entry, and you make it easy. Your country really works.

The two-faced realm is a class Ravenloft move; the ruler and the country are good on the surface and corrupt underneath. That plays really well in horror games, less so in fantasy games, because in mainline fantasy, once the mask is ripped away, characters want to take down the big guys or their minions. In the case of Bereket, that means fighting the Oniku, who seem like nasty pressgang slavers/informers.

I like the use of horror tropes here. The setup may sound too good to be true, but the "Dark Heart" tagline hints at the real state of things, and then we learn about the magical charms leading straight to the mines. Then we learn about the extortion, illusions, and assassinations. Great, we have a villainous country!

However, I'm not sure I entirely buy the premise that this secret can really be kept hidden. People will talk, and rumors get around. The text doesn't really address this, but I think that a land that seems superficially cheerful is more powerful if people are openly cowed by it than if they pretend eventhing is ok. Players have a hard time sorting truth from fiction from NPCs. The propaganda/extortion elements are a little shaky from a suspension of disbelief perspective.

As critique goes, mind you, that's criticism on a pretty high level. I have no doubt of your ability to address that sort of critique.

In terms of nitpicky things to watch out for in future rounds, spell names (modify memory and detect thoughts) should be italic. You get a pass for now. You won't later.

Recommended for Top 16.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Fluff (writing, grammar, style, evocative prose, etc.): A
The Good: Well written. From the first words it grabs me, which means the writing is evocative. That obelisk is cool.
The Bad: Not always consistently well written, but still damn good.

Crunch (basics, rules issues, depth of the setting, details, etc.): A
The Good: Good details, including passing stats of a few NPCs. That is a nice touch.
The Bad: Not much bad here at all, which is saying something.

Design (choices made, format, naming, originality, theme, balance--ie, is the submission heavy in one part but lacking in another?): A+
The Good: I like the little resources and imports addition to the format. Small, but shows you are thinking of how to use the format to improve your submission. I love the tag line and I think you have a tight theme here. I absolutely love the good masking evil theme you have here. It’s like I was watching the intro to David Lynch’s Blue Velvet. Excellent balance with description and DM sections, plus you add adventure hooks, which is a brilliant addition. I have been waiting for that in a submission. Very well done. You used the format to your advantage and made some great decisions. Really tight theme that is well executed.
The Bad: I don’t see anything bad here from a design standpoint. This may be one of my highest design marks.

Play (setting for adventure? campaign? is there conflict? are there play limitations?): B
The Good: Ripe for adventure.
The Bad: The setting does provide some play limiteations. I’m not sure all clerics are welcome. Good use of druids, but I don’t know that it accommodates all races and classes. This is, perhaps, the weakest part of the submission. But still good.

Tilt (my personal take, is it evocative? do I want to play there? does it capture my imagination?): A
The Good: It grabbed me and it grabbed me right away. I like it, I want to play there.
The Bad: I concede that it may not grab everyone the same way.

Overall: A
This is a very sold and evocative entry.

RECOMMENDED for top 16.

Again, as a personal note, this submission is very much like your wondrous item—creative and very well executed. You keep up this level of performance and you will have a job in this industry if you want one. Your entry isn’t just solid, it is also creative and evocative. This is going to be a tough one to beat. Very well done.

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

As you are a mutli-time Dungeon contributor and the author of one of the better items from Round 1, I have very high expectations for this entry. And my friend, you did not disappoint.

Very evocative language in your first couple of paragraphs. Lots of nice details add verisimilitude and help me picture Bereket in my head. The colorful birds is a stand-out image, as of course is the Verdant Obelisk.

I like the dual nature of the society, and the idea of evil druids is an interesting one. I also like the conflict this sets up with the native djinis. I do wish there were more bits about monsters other than genies and wild animals, though. The adventuring hooks in this entry felt a little sparse to me, even though I generally appreciated the framework.

So I think you acquitted yourself well. But it's only going to get harder as the contest progresses. Watch out for the guys capable of pulling off desert towers that are really the roots of giant petrified trees and stuff like that. Eventually that kind of bold design is likely to blow stuff like this out of the water.

I recommend that this entry advance to the next round.

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

Wolfgang Baur wrote:


In terms of nitpicky things to watch out for in future rounds, spell names (modify memory and detect thoughts) should be italic. You get a pass for now. You won't later.

Recommended for Top 16.

They were italicized in my original, but I forgot to recheck it once I had pasted it into the submission window, which of course converts to plain text. Thanks for pointing that out, so I will remember in the future to make the appropriate command markers so it'll come out italicized in final form.

Oddly, I don't remember the same thing happening with my item entry. The italics (spell names) there stayed italic. At least I think they did. Hmm... have to go back and recheck.

In any case, I hope everyone enjoys reading, I thank the judges for their positive comments, and per the new guidelines I will say I welcome feedback (even though I can't respond to any of it on account of not wanting to get DQed, but be sure I will be making plenty of notes to myself based on what people have to say), and of course...

VOTE FOR ME!!!

Scarab Sages

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Except for the Queen, this reminds me of the pirate tribute kingdoms of Barbary Coast Morocco of the Middle Ages. New information is being discovered about this oasis in the desert, a slave-based kingdom that was outwardly magnificent but with plenty of dark secrets.

Very cool. Possibly in my top 5. 8/10

(open content: Al-qadim!! Ok..i know what I'm doing w/my christmas money. i still have all my AQ stuff too)


This was only the second entry I read, but it has me excited me enough to read the rest of them. First blush I really like this one. I can see taking elements of it and dropping them into almost any campaign which is always a plus. Must me that Dungeon submittal background Erik mentioned that taught you this. It is a little Dark Sunnish, with the heavy druidic influence, slave-like population, and weather control aspects, but it's different enough to probably get my vote.
Love the hooks too!


I can't put my finger on it, but this one didn't really spark any ideas when I read it. The writing is very good.

Liberty's Edge

Druids in the desert. This entry was well written and interesting, with some good ideas. Good structure too, with the resources and imports section, as well as the adventure hooks. Everything tells me I should like this one, but for some reason it just doesn’t grab me. I’m not sure why … perhaps it seems a little clichéd? Also, whilst evil druids are a cool theme, druids ‘tampering with nature’ bugs me a little.

At any rate, I don’t hate it and it’s generally well done. Shortlisted at this stage.


This one gets a "meh" from me. I just didn't excite me in any way. Sorry.


This is just what I expect from the man who crafted the Phial of Ebon Flame. Well done again Jason.

Its becoming very obvious that everyone who posted a country will likely find some folks that like what they wrote. I think your entry has creativity and originality without going too far left field. The tone is just the sort of things that I like for my games too. Intrigue, magic and dangerous people galore.

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 really like your entry, but I have a hard time seeing druids as the mafia. If they stumbled on the monolith and its oasis by accident and were corrupted over time, maybe. But I can't accept that they got into druid school to learn how to get over on neighboring kingdoms.

This site is begging for a rakshasa corrupter as its gang leader. Now I can accept that it whispered in the ears of the druids over the course of decades and now has this protection racket going.

No one else has to feel that way. I like evil druids, I just have to have them driven to evil by corrpution or revenge. I can't accept commune with nature for fun and profit.

Well-written. Fun to read. Thin, peaceful facade with creepy evil truth just underneath is a little tired and a little simplistic, but you bring out the best in the concept.


I enjoyed this entry. The Verdant Obelisk is an interesting twist for a desert setting. I like the growing conflict between the druids and native creatures of the area. Do the players side with the druids who are unquestionably evil, or fight against them and risk leaving Bereket unprotected from the elements?

One question that hopefully someone can answer: What's with the two-letter abbreviations in the NPC stats? NE hf druid? NE gm bard? I'm guessing that refers to race, but is this a standard notation somewhere? I've never seen it before and did a double-take each time I saw it here.

In any case, this entry isn't my favorite, but is good enough for a vote. Nice job, Jason.


pallen wrote:


One question that hopefully someone can answer: What's with the two-letter abbreviations in the NPC stats? NE hf druid? NE gm bard? I'm guessing that refers to race, but is this a standard notation somewhere? I've never seen it before and did a double-take each time I saw it here.

I read that as meaning human female and gnome male. ?I use similar abbreviations in my game notes.......

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

ancientsensei wrote:

I really like your entry, but I have a hard time seeing druids as the mafia. If they stumbled on the monolith and its oasis by accident and were corrupted over time, maybe. But I can't accept that they got into druid school to learn how to get over on neighboring kingdoms.

This site is begging for a rakshasa corrupter as its gang leader. Now I can accept that it whispered in the ears of the druids over the course of decades and now has this protection racket going.

No one else has to feel that way. I like evil druids, I just have to have them driven to evil by corrpution or revenge. I can't accept commune with nature for fun and profit.

Well-written. Fun to read. Thin, peaceful facade with creepy evil truth just underneath is a little tired and a little simplistic, but you bring out the best in the concept.

Hey, don't talk bad about the druid mafia! You might wake up with a horse in your bed, kicking you in the gnads. Glad you enjoyed the read.

VOTE DRUID MAFIA!

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

Chris Dragich wrote:
pallen wrote:


One question that hopefully someone can answer: What's with the two-letter abbreviations in the NPC stats? NE hf druid? NE gm bard? I'm guessing that refers to race, but is this a standard notation somewhere? I've never seen it before and did a double-take each time I saw it here.
I read that as meaning human female and gnome male. ?I use similar abbreviations in my game notes.......

ding!

Don't know where the abbreviations originated. I think I first saw those abbreviations in the first FRCS, but not sure.


I liked it right up to the obelisk, and then my interest fell off. I’m still not entirely sure why. I also tend to find mafia allegories offensive.

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

Mothman wrote:

Druids in the desert. This entry was well written and interesting, with some good ideas. Good structure too, with the resources and imports section, as well as the adventure hooks. Everything tells me I should like this one, but for some reason it just doesn’t grab me. I’m not sure why … perhaps it seems a little clichéd? Also, whilst evil druids are a cool theme, druids ‘tampering with nature’ bugs me a little.

At any rate, I don’t hate it and it’s generally well done. Shortlisted at this stage.

Wait, the evil druid mafia is clichéd? Don't tell them that. They'll show you a whole new meaning of 'tampering with nature'!

viva la druid mafia - VOTE BEREKET

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

mwbeeler wrote:
I liked it right up to the obelisk, and then my interest fell off. I’m still not entirely sure why. I also tend to find mafia allegories offensive.

If you only liked it up to the obelisk, that's not very far, since it came pretty early in the entry. Alas... :(

Also, apologies for offense and hope you find ones you like better. Regrettably, can't talk about design philosophy and intention.


I'm only on entry 7 now; you may yet win me over with personality.

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

mwbeeler wrote:
I'm only on entry 7 now; you may yet win me over with personality.

Reminds me of a quote from Jurassic Park, when the folks are just arriving on the island and Hammond tells Ellie and Grant:

"Dr. Malcolm has a deplorable excess of personality."

Funny line, esp. in Attenborough's accent and delivery.

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

I like the sort of genie-ethos that pervades this entry.

But despite that, it's not clicking for me. Good, but sort of what I'd expect from a desert oasis kingdom, if that makes sense.

Grand Lodge

I like the way it is written, but I don't really like the country. I very much like the resources thing you did. Overall, this might not make my top 5 because of the lack of willingness to play here. I can't seem to buy the story completely.

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: Yes
Is it entertaining: Yes / No, everything is fine but I am not dragged in.
Is it original: Yes / No

verdict: Uncertain at this time.

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

Tio wrote:
I like the way it is written, but I don't really like the country. I very much like the resources thing you did. Overall, this might not make my top 5 because of the lack of willingness to play here. I can't seem to buy the story completely.

Well I hope the silent majority is digging this entry cuz I'm not feelin' the love from the message board posts. "Yeah, pretty good I guess, but... "

I need to hire the Hypno-Toad as my campaign manager. Everybody loves Hypno-Toad.

Don't make up your own mind... read judges' comments... obey them... Bereket... top 5... mmm... bacon... vote for me... vote for meeeeeeeeee...

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

mmm.....bacon.....

Grand Lodge

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

The only thing that bothered me Wolfgang touched on is complete villages getting wiped out and everyone just excepts that a wild mage did it, I just don't see a whole country being that stupid.

I like the whole idea of the evil druids and two faced nation but I think it would have worked better if maybe the Queen was just a figure head being manipulated by the druids. If the Queen is being fooled I think the nation would go along with the illusion better without rumors of her hunting down her disobedient servants.

Still good and should make it to the next round.


Druidic secret police turn into leopards and hunt down the peasants who raised their voices against the state. I had an image of people being wary if any animal is about. A little birdie told them...

The Exchange

Bereket is great in my opinion. It works.

However I do have a criticism which is a shame.

Yours is the one name of the 32 I had heard of. I had wanted you to do well for that reason and I think Bereket is on the money. But Clark has twice made suggestions about you 32 NOT airing your views on the others. You chose to ignore that advice. Personally that annoys me.

I guess you want this job alot. Maybe this is why you need a hypnotoad.

But people in this community are pretty savvy and in the long run it is the quality of your submissions that really matters.

Bereket gets my vote this round. You may not count on that happening again.

Cheers and good luck with the rest of the competition.

P.S. I know you cannot really answer so I have tried to put this as fairly as I can.


Did someone say bacon?

Hmm, and a Futurama reference. Interesting.

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

French Wolf wrote:

Bereket is great in my opinion. It works.

However I do have a criticism which is a shame.

Yours is the one name of the 32 I had heard of. I had wanted you to do well for that reason and I think Bereket is on the money. But Clark has twice made suggestions about you 32 NOT airing your views on the others. You chose to ignore that advice. Personally that annoys me.

I guess you want this job alot. Maybe this is why you need a hypnotoad.

But people in this community are pretty savvy and in the long run it is the quality of your submissions that really matters.

Bereket gets my vote this round. You may not count on that happening again.

Cheers and good luck with the rest of the competition.

P.S. I know you cannot really answer so I have tried to put this as fairly as I can.

Actually, I can answer that. Clark (and Gary Teter via email) told us that we were not supposed to comment on our OWN threads except to say thanks for feedback and to encourage people to vote for us. No comments about the design, intention, background, or anything else about the content of our own submissions.

Unless I missed it, the notes didn't say to avoid commenting on other people's submissions, and in fact in an earlier note we were encouraged to 'be active' on the message boards and to 'establish a presence.' Maybe I misinterpreted what that meant as being an active participant on the comment boards for other people's entries. I'm pretty sure I've seen other contestants commenting on other people's entries, but in any case I'll need to go back and check to see if I can find those messages from Clark. Maybe you're right and I just flat-out missed it or read it the wrong way. Skirting the rules or other weaselage was not my intention and my apologies if anything I've said in other threads gave you or anyone else that impression.

After all that, thanks for the positive comments and the vote and I hope that should I make it into future rounds you will give my entry a fair shake and let the chips fall where they may.

The Exchange

Copied from a Word to the Wise by Clark P

Quote

The rules state that the authors cant comment in their own thread other than to say thanks and vote for me, essentially.

There is NO restriction on their ability to post in the threads of OTHERS.

HOWEVER...

You may want to reflect back on Round 1. A few of the top 32 made comments in other threads and were a bit critical. I'm not sure that reflected well on them.

Word to the wise: the voting public is watching you and what you do. I know you are geeked and your energy level is high today. I get that. But please remember, people are watching what you say even if it isnt your thread. That tag of "Top 32" is a killer prop, but it also prevents anonymity. With great power comes great responsibility, young grasshopper.

Just saying...

Quote ends.

To be fair to you I have noted who else is telling me what they think of their fellow competitors work. Even the slightest negative comment reflects badly.

Personally I would prefer you guys to leave your critiques until after the 11th.

Cheers again.

Liberty's Edge

Wow. I don't even think I've read half of the entries, and I'm almost up to five votes for keepers with this one.
Looks like I'll have to actually make a decision when vote time comes.
This is really far out, this one is.

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

French Wolf wrote:

Copied from a Word to the Wise by Clark P

Quote

The rules state that the authors cant comment in their own thread other than to say thanks and vote for me, essentially.

There is NO restriction on their ability to post in the threads of OTHERS.

HOWEVER...

You may want to reflect back on Round 1. A few of the top 32 made comments in other threads and were a bit critical. I'm not sure that reflected well on them.

Word to the wise: the voting public is watching you and what you do. I know you are geeked and your energy level is high today. I get that. But please remember, people are watching what you say even if it isnt your thread. That tag of "Top 32" is a killer prop, but it also prevents anonymity. With great power comes great responsibility, young grasshopper.

Just saying...

Quote ends.

To be fair to you I have noted who else is telling me what they think of their fellow competitors work. Even the slightest negative comment reflects badly.

Personally I would prefer you guys to leave your critiques until after the 11th.

Cheers again.

Thanks for copying me on that post, and now that you have I do remember having seen it. Curse my Swiss cheese brain! I think I've just read too many posts and OD'ed.

Your point is well taken. I can leave the "honest critique" (or whatever fiction we tell ourselves when we are speaking in the negative, even if we think we're being polite about it) for after the 11th. Like they say in my son's elementary school, "We give put-ups, not put-downs!" :)

On the positive side, while I do still have about a dozen left to read, FWIW my favorite ones so far are I think the Stained Peaks (rusty dwarves), Karystynia (undead plantations), and Iskandria (jungle pyramids).

And hey, I like my entry too! So everybody reading, you know what to do:

VOTE BEREKET IN 2007!!!

If you don't, the Impola might get mad and invent a new slogan:

You - it's what's for dinner!


“The Dark Heart of the Desert” at first was cool to me and I started envisioning a pretty rich desert world. The I thought hey that would make a good song title. Then I thought it was cool again.

The ruler is section is well done and the names are creative and original. (I like names in case you have not read my other critiques) I like the 18th levelness of the druid (although I don’t really like druids in general) because I think leaders should be powerful. With that said the 16th level “servant” is now pushing the envelope for my tastes.

They import slaves? I get it and it fits well with the world, thumbs up. They import clothes and silk? I don’t get the need for this to be in the entry. I don’t see the relevance.

I dig the obelisk as it gives the country a built in wekness(es) and multiple built in adventure hooks.

Holy adjectives!

Oninku (not a great name) are cool and really ad to the flavor in my opinion. Thank goodness we have something other than knights in shining armor protecting the land, but bards? What is the connection with bards? Seems to be a square-peg-round-hole deal.

Genies! Awesome, you can never have too many genies (unless they are pirate genies, then boo)

I did not see opposing forces, which help with the overall playability of a country, until the DM secrets but I am undecided on how well they have been outlined.

The 2nd paragraph of DMs secrets was maybe the best part of the whole entry in my eyes. It offered the most in terms of roleplay and adventure ideas.

I like how the druids sort of act like vampires hunting people down at their leisure foe sport. Cool!

Forged Goo Adventure Scale: Good+
The more I thought about this entry the more I liked the opportunities for my PCs to play their. I did not get that feel as I was reading it, and that was how this section was supposed to work, but now I like (hate?) those darn druids and their evil ways. I want to play a character that allies with the genies. How can my characters use or get involved with the big part-nature, part-man made obelisk (which is cool in itself).

Well done overall,

Goo

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

Forged Goo wrote:

The ruler is section is well done and the names are creative and original. (I like names in case you have not read my other critiques) I like the 18th levelness of the druid (although I don’t really like druids in general) because I think leaders should be powerful. With that said the 16th level “servant” is now pushing the envelope for my tastes.

Oninku (not a great name) are cool and really ad to the flavor in my opinion. Thank goodness we have something other than knights in shining armor protecting the land, but bards? What is the connection with bards? Seems to be a square-peg-round-hole deal.

Glad you enjoyed, and I would be happy to answer these questions for you.

Just not until after the 11th.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Very nice. There is a lot going on here, and there are plenty of hooks for a GM.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

See, I told you, slavery doesn't necessarily cost you my vote. No promises, as this is the 12th of 32 entries I've read so far. But at the moment, you're in my Top 5.

I like the idea of an oasis in the desert whose inhabitants directly manipulate the desert's extension and use it to blackmail the surrounding countries. Evil druids are one of my favorite topoi and I'm really attracted by the way you make use of them. I appreciate your adventure hooks (with the exception of no. 2) and I like the inclusion of genies into the setting. Well thought-out and well written.

btw. the Stained Peaks and Karistynia are among my favorites as well. So it seems we like the same countries (which explains why I like yours ^^)

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

This is my one of my favorites. Well described, well-written, lots of intriguing details (ie hooks) without wandering off into sleep-inducing social studies textbook material. Voted.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Oh, and I particularly like that your country has at its heart a giant magical macguffin artifact, since that's a trope I use in my setting design too. A DM can have a lot of fun with giant macguffins. ;-)

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

delabarre wrote:
Oh, and I particularly like that your country has at its heart a giant magical macguffin artifact, since that's a trope I use in my setting design too. A DM can have a lot of fun with giant macguffins. ;-)

I swear when my eye first hit your post I thought you said "giant McMuffin" - no more reading messageboards right after lunch. I have food on the brain. :)

Glad you enjoyed and voted. No being charmed off to the slave mines for you!


Erik Mona wrote:
I do wish there were more bits about monsters other than genies and wild animals, though.

Re: wild animals, I think it was pretty clearly implied that there is no genuine "wild animal problem" -- those are the druids, not the wildlife. I'd say that an entire order of secretly evil spellcasters qualifies as monstrous.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6 aka adanedhel9

Hmm, I like it. I especially enjoy that the stereotypical good guys (druids) and bad guys (genies) are reversed; in general this entries plays with a lot of standard assumptions, which I definately appreciate.

The nonstandard abbreviations threw me, too, but its fairly clear what was intended.

Like Wolfgang, I'm not certain that such a big secret could be kept. Sure, maybe the vast majority of the populace believes the lies. Sure, maybe most of those who know the truth are cowed by the power of the ruler. But I think there should be someone inside the nation who can at least attempt to oppose the druids.

But, overall, very nice.

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

This has one idea and it's not a very plausible one.

First sentence: Whoo, the Dark Heart of the Desert. Well, it's in the desert, I suppose, and those who know its secret (which is, apparently, no-one in the whole world, except all the princes and rulers around who they blackmail for tribute) might call it dark.

Too many made-up terms and the first one I saw had a random apostrophe in the middle of it.

The idea of low-level druids and bards lording it over a desperate resistance of genies is ridiculous.

The worst is that I saw the whole thing on The Mummy Returns.

Also, overwritten.

Not voting for this.


As I read it it felt like, "This guys spent some time with this." Nothing seemed added in as an afterthought. I loved the obelisk and have a perfect picture of it in my mind. But I think maybe it should be the key to the druids becoming evil. Like it was sentient and good but then go tainted so it tainted the druids using it. Or maybe it was always evil, a kind of Lovecraftian creature. Overall I think you should have stretched a bit more, it felt kind of "safe".

Again this one seems kind of too D&Dish for me. But that's probably not a bad thing considering the contest is about the world's most popular role playing game.


I like it, but I would have like to have seen a couple of the settlements fleshed out. I got the feeling that it was all one big city.

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

Starglim wrote:

This has one idea and it's not a very plausible one.

First sentence: Whoo, the Dark Heart of the Desert. Well, it's in the desert, I suppose, and those who know its secret (which is, apparently, no-one in the whole world, except all the princes and rulers around who they blackmail for tribute) might call it dark.

Too many made-up terms and the first one I saw had a random apostrophe in the middle of it.

The idea of low-level druids and bards lording it over a desperate resistance of genies is ridiculous.

The worst is that I saw the whole thing on The Mummy Returns.

Also, overwritten.

Not voting for this.

Nooooooo, not The Mummy Returns. I thought I had succeeded in killing the brain cells that remembered that movie existed. Now, thanks to you, I'm seeing pygmy mummies and flooding rivers with Arnold Vosloo's face and an annoying kid and the worst-animated big-budget movie monster of all time in that claymation-looking Scorpion King. Can't really complain about Rachel Weisz and the other girl's fight scene, though, rrowr, so maybe it's not all bad.

If my entry made you think of that movie, please DON'T vote for me. I would not want to be responsible for inflicting that memory on someone. (Too bad about that movie, cuz I really liked the 1999 Mummy picture; it was a lot of fun.)

As for the other comments, I could say more after the 11th, but I hope you find some you like better.


Love the "hunted" aspect of this. You kill one and the druids are all over you makinfg you wish you were dead. You don't kill one and... well...you're dead!

Too cool...


Starglim summed up most of my feelings about this entry and I don't buy the premise that the whole thing is kept a secret. It is hard to demand tribute from countries but keep things secret. I don't know, ultimately it is a neat idea but just doesn't do anything for me.

P.S. I am not a fan of the random, powerful artifact at the center of the world that gives ultimate power.

P.P.S I happen to really like The Mummy Returns (sure it is a little cheesy but there are some great one-liners).

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