Round 3--How I Intend to Judge


RPG Superstar™ 2008 General Discussion

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Owner - House of Books and Games LLC , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

magdalena thiriet wrote:


But that NG half-dragon hivemind bard has a vote earmarked.

Bards! That's what we need, more bard villains.

Nastiest non-divine creature I've made yet in my campaign is a ruin chanter/bard/seeker of the song.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

There are some interesting posts about which is more important: Game Mechanics or Creativity. Some voters are solely going to judge us based only on the sat blocks. Other with do it by the creative content found in the description. Being one of the Top 16, I realize it was the latter that got me here. I understand the rules of the game. I do have my weak points, but it has always been my creativity that the players of games I run look forward to. Not my stat block or my proper use of spells.

That is not to say throw out the rules, but realize the rules are just a mechanic for setting up boundaries and resolving conflicts. When we run a game, we are telling a story where the characters aren't controlled by the author. What makes the game fun or what creates some of our greatest role-playing moments has nothing to do with the rules or mechanics. It is the interaction between character and story that the game is all about. Again, we needs rules, but rules and mechanics shouldn't get in the way of game flow and fun.

Very often in threads I see DM's droning on about mechanics solutions to story problems. Like in the "Hook Mountain Massacre" of Pathfinders, there is a big thread about what to do about the dam, water flow, silt built up, average rain fall, and such. Not the say this isn't really important, but it has nothing to do with the story. If movies really went into the science behind what was happening, it would be a very boring, non-dramatic film.

Also I dislike players that build a character based on mechanics and not back-story and personality. Often I feel I'm DMing for some robots. The fun stuff is when the sob drunken fighter has to bodyguard a aristocrat who is going to the opera. Monkey in a monkey suit. Good stuff.

And yes, as a designer, if I'm writing for other DM my rules should be solid. But I assume for many of us this is our first time really doing this. You can learn rules and stat blocks. You can't learn to be creative or inspire gamers.

Sorry to the rant/explaination I just wanted you all to know my perspective on this issue and how I approach designing material. May the responds begin.

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

I agree in a lot of ways with William's post, though I also enjoy the tactical challenge aspects of the game. D&D is a game with a lot of layers, which is why it appeals to so many different people and supports so many play styles. You may have a couple sessions in a row where no blade is drawn, no spell is slung. It may be all RP, player-based thinking and problem-solving. Other sessions will be dice-rattlers from start to finish, hack to the slash power. Each can be extremely memorable and difficult in their own ways, and I hope the villains here (including the one I created) can appeal to the number-crunchers and the artistes alike, or more to the point can be used both ways in an ongoing campaign, not just as an uber-l33t combat opponent but as somebody who has his/her/its own agenda, thoughts, plans, hopes, and terrible, terrible dreams for making life miserable for the PCs and the game world at large (or at least a small slice of it).


William McNulty wrote:


And yes, as a designer, if I'm writing for other DM my rules should be solid. But I assume for many of us this is our first time really doing this. You can learn rules and stat blocks. You can't learn to be creative or inspire gamers.

Well luckily this isn't a form of UFC or Highlander where the loser is much worse off after the competition. I am guessing that the person that ends up at the top of the heap will have good ideas AND ones that he was able to translate adequately to the game.

I think good ideas and adequate writing style probably kept some people in the running but as 'Superstar' designers it will take some real chops to do both AND be able to do it within the realm of SRD mechanics.

I have to admit when I first saw Paizo's anouncement I was incredibly 'meh' about the whole thing but as I read the entries and judging comments I have gotten a great deal of entertainment and gaming value from the whole thing. Kudos to Paizo.


William McNulty wrote:

There are some interesting posts about which is more important: Game Mechanics or Creativity. Some voters are solely going to judge us based only on the sat blocks. Other with do it by the creative content found in the description. Being one of the Top 16, I realize it was the latter that got me here. I understand the rules of the game. I do have my weak points, but it has always been my creativity that the players of games I run look forward to. Not my stat block or my proper use of spells.

That is not to say throw out the rules, but realize the rules are just a mechanic for setting up boundaries and resolving conflicts. When we run a game, we are telling a story where the characters aren't controlled by the author. What makes the game fun or what creates some of our greatest role-playing moments has nothing to do with the rules or mechanics. It is the interaction between character and story that the game is all about. Again, we needs rules, but rules and mechanics shouldn't get in the way of game flow and fun.

Very often in threads I see DM's droning on about mechanics solutions to story problems. Like in the "Hook Mountain Massacre" of Pathfinders, there is a big thread about what to do about the dam, water flow, silt built up, average rain fall, and such. Not the say this isn't really important, but it has nothing to do with the story. If movies really went into the science behind what was happening, it would be a very boring, non-dramatic film.

Also I dislike players that build a character based on mechanics and not back-story and personality. Often I feel I'm DMing for some robots. The fun stuff is when the sob drunken fighter has to bodyguard a aristocrat who is going to the opera. Monkey in a monkey suit. Good stuff.

And yes, as a designer, if I'm writing for other DM my rules should be solid. But I assume for many of us this is our first time really doing this. You can learn rules and stat blocks. You can't learn to be creative or inspire gamers.

Sorry to the...

I certainly don't think expertise with game mechanics trumps creativity; however, a game designer is not just a storyteller, he is what his title suggests, one who designs games. It is therefore important that such an individual have the ability to translate his ideas into the game system he designs for; otherwise, his game may be unplayable, or require an inordinate amount of work from an editing staff to correct.

Personally, I expect flawless stat blocks and mechanical execution from the contestants. There is absolutely no reason why an RPG Superstar cannot do that for a single stat block in 5 days. The stat block should be checked, double checked, and triple checked, along with grammar, spelling, and punctuation for the entire entry. I've designed monsters and NPCs for clients under similar time constraints, and I would hold the contestants in RPG Superstar to standards no less stringent than what I adhere to in my own work.

I'm not saying that I will vote solely on the execution of stat blocks; I do want to see creative villains. However, a shoddy stat block, or poor mechanical execution, will definitely affect my vote.

I don’t mean to sound harsh; I know my standards may be a bit more exacting than other voters. However, I know there are contestants in the top 16 that are more than capable of a perfect entry, and that's what I expect an RPG Superstar to strive for.

BD

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 8 aka unfettered

I don't expect flawless execution, but I want it to be close.

Before withdrawing from the competition I created statblocks for two separate villains. It was much more time consuming than I expected, but my own gaming library provided numerous examples for reference and I was usually able to find a quick answer to any specific stat block question I had.

Based on my experience, if a stat block does have errors, I hope it's a corner case. For example: "How do I show that a lich's fear aura only effects 5 HD or less creatures?"

Some of these issues are not clear cut and deserve leniency. If a contestants basic math if off though... that is cause for concern.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

unfettered wrote:

I don't expect flawless execution, but I want it to be close.

Before withdrawing from the competition I created statblocks for two separate villains. It was much more time consuming than I expected, but my own gaming library provided numerous examples for reference and I was usually able to find a quick answer to any specific stat block question I had.

Based on my experience, if a stat block does have errors, I hope it's a corner case. For example: "How do I show that a lich's fear aura only effects 5 HD or less creatures?"

Some of these issues are not clear cut and deserve leniency. If a contestants basic math if off though... that is cause for concern.

I agree. The base math shouldn't be off. Like if people added together +2 and a +4 deflection bonus. That is clearly not understanding how the bonus structure works. With base mechanics, there should be no errors. (God, I hope I have stupid errors and people use this post against me)

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

Strangely, I'm not sure I'm going to use all four of my votes in this round.

That's at a first read, though. I probably need to give a couple of them some time.


Clouds Without Water wrote:


Strangely, I'm not sure I'm going to use all four of my votes in this round.

That's at a first read, though. I probably need to give a couple of them some time.

Maybe it's because of the fewer number of contestants, but I really felt like there were fewer stand-outs this round. In round 2, I knew without a doubt that 4 of my 5 votes were a shoo-in for round 3. They were just that good. In the villain round, there are lots of solid entries, but only two really exceptional ones.

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