Denying the Boiling Beast


Round 5: Submit an adventure proposal

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Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4

Denying the Boiling Beast

Back Cover
A devastating hurricane has struck Magnimar! The City of Monuments reels from the blow, and another storm is gathering in the Arcadian Ocean. These storms are not natural, and thousands of Magnimarians are counting on brave adventurers to quell the oncoming onslaught of murderous wind before the city is brought, crumbling, to its knees. The PCs will have to out-maneuver politicians, slog through stagnant swamps occupied by shape-shifting frogmen, and battle the vile Boiling Sisterhood on the ocean floor among the massive pilings of the Irespan before their goal is realized. Can they do it? Or will the Boiling Maiden's retribution be final?

The module is designed for four 8th level characters. Most characters will reach 9th level by the conclusion of the module.

A Boding Background
There has always been a city at the foot of the Irespan, but it has not always been called Magnimar. Not long after the Fall of Thassilon, the people of the area pulled themselves together under the leadership of Vanderlae Marm, last of the storm lichs. Vanderlae was not cruel and sinister like his predecessors, but was no less powerful or overbearing. He put the survival of the community first; his rule was cold, but solid and unassailable. Increasing numbers of refugees flooded to his lands as more raiders and pirates were devoured by his awesome power.

Vanderlae vowed the storm lich's legacy would no longer be tainted by tyranny and hid the rituals until the day he found a pure hearted apprentice. However one of his pupils, Lady Ellus Owlax, learned the forbidden rites through her moxie and subterfuge. Ellus had been born blind within the city and was healed by Marm himself as a child. Transforming herself into a storm lich, she then challenged Vanderlae for power. Marm, not wanting his people harmed in the battle, pulled the bloodshed into the sky over the sea. The battle raged for days and at its climax the two were pulled into the Eye of Abendego, an everlasting hurricane. There the two storm lichs are neither destroyed nor able to act upon their free will. They are stretched thin, pulled to a million different fragments of air and water and mixed with that of the mundane storm. Now a mixture of lich and ghost, damned twice through their own hands and others, they desperately fight to escape.

A few decades later a group of fugitive guild members escape execution in the City of Brass by fleeing to Golarion. Fearing pursuit, they decided to make there home below the Arcadian Ocean where those of the Plane of Fire would not look. Through deals with devils and black minded druids they adapted to their new underwater home and began to call themselves the Boiling Sisterhood.

Act 1: Commotions of the Civilized
Within Magnimar, the PCs cannot help but hear the results of the city vote a week before (infused by merchant-sailors serving the Boiling Sisterhood). At the end of the Irespan, the great bridge, stood the statue monument of Vanderlae Marm. It was not part of the original bridge, but archaeologists have dated the stone image to shortly after the Fall of Thassilon. Many citizens were outraged when the vote went through to have the sculpture moved to make way for a lighthouse project – removing anything from the Irespan goes against the laws passed late 4623 AR to protect the city from the creatures dwelling within the Giant's Bridge. Others found the argument sound since the chiseled icon was rarely seen atop the bridge and a lighthouse is much needed for the city's rocky coast. City officials can bypass the law claiming building on top of the bridge is different than ripping into its' foundations. A Knowledge (history, nobility, or local) check will reveal that this statue was a gift to king Marm by his apprentice Ellus Owlax, given just days before she betrayed him and brought his reign to a short end.

This argument heats over as the PCs pass through a public location when curses and fist begin flying. A Mr. Jamesric Mun seemed to be just a bystander at the beginning, but now is taking most of the violence as he lays helpless on the floor. If the PCs help him Jamesric is very grateful, and if they do not the city guards show up to thwart the brawl. Either way, afterwards Mr. Mun looks at their weapons and gear and asks the PCs if they would want jobs guarding the lighthouse work site that he is overseeing.

If the PCs refuse, here are some other ways to get them to the building area.
-A dwarf PC is asked to look at the foundation stonework.
-A wizard or cleric PC is asked to look at some strange runes found near the site.
-A druid or ranger PC spots a bizarre type of owl they have never seen, and it flies to the work site.
-A PC has a friend, family member, or city contact working on the lighthouse.

At the edge of the bridge where the work is commencing, the PCs find where the statue was removed. It must have been massive, and where it stood shows a set of arcane runes in a stylized circle. The PCs may also notice a strange collared owl peering at them from hiding near by. It flees if approached in anyway. Any cleric or paladin of a good faith becomes overly sickened near this space. In Aquan and Auran the runes read.

“No peace for the peaceful,
no body for the mind,
hold stone fast until the rebirth
or may the gales blow you blind.”

Within an hour of the PCs reading this, the sky darkens dramatically as beams of pale blue light launch high into the sky from the runes. The whole city is scared and curious, some gather on the bridge as the wind picks up. Minutes after the PCs see the light a horrendous hurricane swallows the city. Every one-in-a-hundred people are blinded as if by the blindness/deafness spell (have the PC roll this chance). Many of those gathered on the bridge or near the Seacleft are flung to their death. Some buildings fall, and debris rains down on any foolish enough to be outside. Stored foods are ruined and sea water floods the lower city, seeping into basements and flushing out the sewers. Shipping and trade comes to a crawl, as most ships are damaged or sunk. If the PCs try to help people indoors, grant them extra experience.

Eye of Owlax
Notice: Wisdom 25 ; Effective HD – (see text)
EFFECTS
Trigger: Remove the statue (phylactery) from it's resting place. Reset: automatic (2d6+10 days)
Effect: Hurricane-Force winds engulf the city of Magnimar for 1d4 hours. Every three rounds, the wind speed will increase up one stage until reaching Hurricane Force winds; apply wind, rain, and flood conditions to the entire city. All characters within the effect have a 1% chance to be blinded, as if by the blindness/deafness spell. A character standing within the rune circle on the Irespan may spend one Channel Energy use to prevent the winds from increasing in force for 1d4 rounds, but no single character is strong enough to completely dissipate the storm in this manner.

Act 2: A Flight Footed Statue
Upon revisiting the runes, the PCs discover on their own or through help of the local clergy that this is a powerful manifestation of undeath – a haunt. There are no clergy in Varisia strong enough to banish the haunt, and like all of its kind, it will continue to torment. Through clues (like the workers handling the statue going blind), NPC hints, and common sense the PCs will discover that the statue must be put back in place before another hurricane comes. However, the statue is no longer in the city!

If the PCs would rather run from Magnimar then help the citizens, use some of the following hooks:

-If the PCs have friends or family in the city, these people will refuse to leave their homes.
- Willis Purplemoon, famous Magnimarian bard and owner of the Ballerina's Blade, a high class theater in the Alabaster District, promises he'll put their deeds to words and make them legends if they only save his beloved play house... and the rest of the city.
-As a last resort lord-mayor Grobaras himself will offer the PCs a large reward upon recovering the statue. This will, however, change the public's perspective of the greedy PCs.

Following the uproar about the monument's removal, the city councilors decide out-of-sight-out-of-mind was the best approach. They declare that the statue will be used as a landmark southeast of the city and serve as a marker for river boats and a preview of the city's magnificence. It was transferred on a timber wagon with wheels as tall as a man and left some days ago, but at a very slow pace.

Before the PCs reach the wagon, it is attacked by a group of boggard were-rats known as the Killwater tribe. Overwhelming numbers assault the escort, easily subduing the guard and making off with the wagon. The battle site and the wagon's off road tracks make it clear to PCs what has transpired. If the Killwater scouts see that the following group is a large number (as in the PCs have brought along any merceneries, city guard, or volunteer adventurers), they stage an ambush at the swamps edge using the Yondabakari River to their advantage. These skirmishers attack those wearing the Magnimar crest first, hating the city, while archers target the less armored of the trailing group. If the PCs are alone, they are met by five visible sentries standing by a large ferry on the far river bank. If either group of frogmen begin to lose the fight, they retreat into the swamp to report calling out behind them, “Come! Come into the kill-water!”

The Killwater village is small, and should be on alert if any of the sentries or ambushers report in before the PCs arrival. The brackish sulfur water stinks and is hard to move through. Tar pits holding black pudding litter the area. The hybrid forms of half-rat frogmen seem as something out of a nightmare. The water is full of chained alligators and snakes. Outside the Priest-King, Wallar Mawl's, hut, the PCs find what is left of the statue, broken into a thousand chunks. Inside the hut, after the priest-king has died or fled, the PCs discover a caged NPC, Phorus Greenfin. This aquatic half-celestial goblin snake lets PCs in on Killwater's current doings.

Phorus has been the prisoner of Marnett Faulch, the Boiling Maiden, for nearly thirty years. The Killwater Tribe secretly serves her, for she rewards her servants well. She's the one that ordered the statue stolen and it was her merrow bully boys that busted it up once it arrived. Phorus doesn't know what was inside but he heard the word “phylactery” and that one of the merrow was cleaved by an strange owl. Phorus himself was the reward for fetching the stone icon. The goblin snake often skillfully insulted Wallar on his visits to see Marnett in her underwater lair. Wallar wanted to eat Phorus to aid his pride, and had already started, dinning on one of the goblin's wings just an hour before.

Act 3: Gorging the Storm

Phorus believes he can take the PCs to Marnett's lair. He tells them where Wallar kept his necklaces of water breathing and that the lair is north of Magnimar. If the PCs travel over land or go back to Magnimar to pick up supplies, the Boiling Maiden escapes to her lair. If they follow down the river, merrow bodyguards hold off the PCs as Marnett leaves with her prize.

Phorus informs the PCs that the Boiling Maiden's lair is in a hunk of ruin from the collapsed Irespan. The giant size guard tower lays on it's side and is defended heavily by eunuch merrow slaves, coral treants, and merfolk servants mounted on blood thirsty barded orcas. The drawn out horizontal spiral staircase is brimming with cubic gelatinous jellies. Also inside Marnett waits with her other boiling sisters, aquatic salamanders who never grow cold by the deep ocean currents. They are cruel, cunning, and ill tempered toward anyone who enters their waters. The water surrounding them is so hot it cooks those near by.

Worming their way through the sideways tower, the PCs finally face the Boiling Maiden and recover the phylactery which they find out is Ellus Owlax's. Marnett rants that she will be the next storm lich, using the phylactery as a starting blueprint to craft herself anew. Pride forces Marnett to fight to the death, unwilling to be weak for any reason. The PCs will be tempted to destroy the phylactery here and now. This is okay if they do. Inspecting the item with a Knowledge (arcane or religion) check, even after it's broken, will let the PCs know that at least two more hurricanes will come unless the runes on the bridge are destroyed as well.

As the PCs come out of the water to race to the bridge, they are met by the exotic owl, who has been watching them from the time of the original hurricane. If the phylactery has been broken by one of the PCs the owl will attack that individual. The owl is wearing a dancing collar and engraved on the inside is, “To Inga, the most cunning familiar in the Inner Sea. -Love Ellus.” If the PCs have not harmed the phylactery, the owl will shadow them to the Irespan secretly.

Dancing Collar: The collar can be put on any familiar, allowing it to become a +4 dancing battle ax for three rounds a day. It uses the familiar's base attack, strength, and dexterity modifiers for it's attacks. These rounds do not have to be in continuous. The familiar may also become a mundane ax at will and does not age in this form. Changing forms is an immediate action.

At the edge of the Giant's Bridge, the PCs arrive just as the skies begin to darken. Before they can start to remove the runes, Marnett flies up from the sea in the form of a revanant with a ring of flying . As she comes into vision so do eight mammoth tentacles rolling themselves around the bridge, scaffolding, and exposed columns. This blecksprut, a titanic octopus, has been a servant of Marnett's since she bore it from it's egg. It will try to slam the PCs and pull away parts of the bridge as the fight continues. Killing the head below will stop the arms above.

Blecksprut: This giant octopi has separate hit points for each limb and it's head. It relies on heavy slam attacks, and a swallow whole ability. It's thin sponge-like skin causes a vulnerability to fire. Primarily this is a colossal sized sea monster for lower level PCs.

At the end of the surprise round the runes will glow and shoot their ghostly light into the sky and the haunted hurricane strikes Magnimar again. The rapidly-increasing winds cause the PCs to make skill checks and may force Marnett to land. Once it reaches hurricane force gales, have the PCs roll their 1% chance to become blinded again. The phylactery sets off Marnett's self-loathing ability and she will do her best to kill her murderer without letting herself become an easy target or surrounded. She uses her baleful shriek ability as much as possible to hold back other enemies. Marnett cares nothing for the phylactery anymore and simply wants to devour her killer.

The owl, if not already dead, pays close attention to the phylactery. The moment someone tries to destroy it, the owl attacks with full vigor. If the wind gusts become too great for the owl, it will land and become a mundane ax until it needs to strike, letting it's new heavy weight hold it to the ground.

Once the PCs deface the runes and crush the phylactery the winds die down, but the rain continues for some time. Marnett will fight until her murderer is slain and then will fade into the afterlife. The Blecksprut, will flee after it takes so many injuries and will fear returning to this area for many years.

Conclusion: Wreath Crowns and Rebuilding

The PCs are now heroes in Magnimar, and given a parade where they wear wreaths adorned with tiny stone monuments. They are awarded a large sum of gold and a five bedroom town house for the PCs to share in the Marble District. The PCs gain none of these rewards if the lord-mayor had to contract them to go on the mission.

Monument Wreath: This crown takes up a head slot and can cast the statue spell once per day as a 13th level caster. The wearer can cast this spell on themselves only and are also immune to any type of baleful petrifaction effects.

Storm Lich Phylactery Pieces: Five years of study will reveal it's secrets. A storm lich is the same as a lich with the following changes:
-Add water and air as additional subtypes.
-The storm lich loses it's Fear Aura and Paralyzing Touch, but may cast control weather once per day as a spell-like ability.
-5/day a storm lich gains the ability to cast lighting bolt and turn into a air or water elemental functioning like the elemental body IV spell and may cast fly at will in these forms.
-The strom lich's DR changes to DR 10/ bludgeoning and lawful.
-Immunity to electricity and cold damage, fire resistance 15.
-Alignment restrictions change to any nonlawful.
-Level Adjustment: Same as base creature +6.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

I read this one first, but I waited to comment on it until last. Dont know why.

Initial Impression
Hurricane in Magnimar, OK. Fun. Dramatic. Good Pathfinder/Golarion tie in.
Politicians, frogmen, Boiling Sisterhood on the ocean's floor.
OK, I'm hooked.
Battling storm liches? Maybe we can mix this with the battling dragons adventure.
OK, the Boiling Sisterhood is cool and the City of Brass link is even cooler.
BUT where does this adventure start?
The beaten bystander hook has certainly been done, but this one just doesnt seem like a cry to heroic action. Plus, would the PCs want to back the lighthouse project?
I'm a lawyer in real life, maybe I have a mental block against starting an adventure with too much legislation and litigation. This isnt Papers and Paychecks.

More to come after I really think about them!

The Exchange Kobold Press

Going from liches and the fire guild stuff to the local zoning ordinances in Magnimar was a bit of whiplash at the start of this pitch. And I'm afraid it's symptomatic of the pitch as a whole: it's not sure what it wants to be.

Helping a stranger is a fine-if-familiar hook, and the brewing hurricane makes for a great backdrop, but overall I fear the PCs will just be frustrated by the first act of the adventure. What are they supposed to DO, exactly against a force of nature? They will be itchy for something to kill…. And they finally get a chance against the Killwater frog-ratmen. I'm not convinced this is a good opening sequence. And it has odd little quirks, like temperate-climate crocodiles and chained snakes (how DO you chain a snake?). My suspension of disbelief is starting to crack at this point.

Then we get the aquatic half-celestial goblin snake, and I'm convinced the adventure is just doing weird for weirdness sake. If this were a pitch at Kobold Quarterly, here's where I would have stopped reading.
But I'll comment on the rest. In Act 3 we get an NPC tagalong, which is usually an annoyance to DM unless the character is extremely amusing to roleplay. I'm not convinced that's the case for Phorus.

Blood thirsty barded orcas? How does barding for a sea creature even work? You are showing a LOT of creativity in monsters here, with the gelatinous jellies, the boiling salamanders, blecksprut, and so on. Unfortunately, having half of your monsters be new or template creations means a lot of your wordcount is spent on defining what these things are.

And the thing is, there's nothing wrong with the heroic over-the-top stuff, except that the adventure starts with zoning and a fistfight, and takes days of game time to reach the haunt and then the first fight with the frog-rats. I just don't buy the connection, and the whole lich backstory could be dropped without a fuss if the threat was just the hurricanes. It seems muddled, like an urban adventure that suddenly sprouts a massive gonzo subplot. I would rather have just started with the storm and blindness and DOOM DOOM DOOM, and force the PCs to solve *that* problem from the start, with the city falling down around them.

Alas, that's not what we have here. Not recommended.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

This proposal has two things in it that I like a lot; it's set in Varisia, and it has some underwater stuff going on. I've been wanting to do something underwater-related in a Pathfinder adventure or AP for a while.

Unfortunately, setting an adventure in a place that's already got so much detail to it like Varisia means that you have to be extra careful to not contradict established canon and continuity, and you need to take into account regional themes that are already established. This proposal doesn't fit well into Magnimar, and it has a few blatant problems with continuity, alas.

Things I Like about this Proposal
Magnimar: Magnimar got kind of shorted in "Rise of the Runelords," and I like the idea of going back there for more adventure. A hurricane hitting the city is unusual, though... good thing it's a supernatural hurricane!
Underwater Adventure: There's been a pretty dedicated group of fans calling for underwater action in a Pathfinder adventure, so this is a good element.
Storm Lich: I love the idea of a storm-associated lich. I assume this is a cleric or druid lich...
Under the sea!: Having fugitives from the Plane of Fire hide under the sea to escape pursuit is pretty cool.
Eye of Owlax: This is a FAR more powerful haunt than we've ever done... I'm not sure this is something haunts can do, but it's an interesting idea. It feels sort of glossed-over, though, which is too bad.
Underwater Irespan Lair: A section of underwater collapsed Irespan makes for a really cool and exciting encounter area. A sideways tower makes for some weird map problems, of course, but if it can be mapped well, it'd be cool!
Giant Octopus Attack: I quite like the climax of the adventure, where a giant octopus attacks Magnimar. Reminds me of "It Came From Beneath The Sea," which is a good thing. Unfortunately... it doesn't quite work (see below).
Maps: A quick estimate of how many maps this adventure would need looks like 3 or so pages, which is about right for a 32 page adventure.

Things I Don't Like about this Proposal
The Title: I'm not fond of the adventure's title; it doesn't really give a good idea what to expect in the adventure.
Storm Lich: While the idea of a lich associated with storms is cool... it doesn't fit with Magnimar's history. Something like this sounds pretty major, and we've already detailed a LOT of Varisia's history and have never mentioned storm liches, so this feels kind of out of the blue. Worse... Magnimar's not in a region where there was a lot of undead stuff happening in ancient Thassilon; that was mostly to the east, toward where Gastash, the Runelord of Gluttony, lived. Magnimar sat at the edge of the Thassilonain realms of Greed (transmutation magic), Wrath (evocation magic), and Lust (enchantment magic); necromancy isn't a huge part of its traditions, alas.
No New Monster: There's a LOT of templated monsters and variant monsters in this adventure... but not really any brand NEW monsters. Pathfinder adventures have traditionally presented a new monster, and I'm not sure this one does.
Spelling/Grammar Errors: This proposal could have stood to had a few more editing passes; there's a lot of errors in it. The correct plural for "lich" is "liches," for example. There's at least two cases of the word "it's" and/or "its" being messed up. There's also a their/there homonym error, plus a few more. Not a good sign for the final manuscript, alas...
Funny Name: The name "Vanderlae" reminds me of Seinfeld (Vanderlay Industries!). Now... I like Seinfeld, but not in Pathfinder.
Eye of Abendego: This is one of the biggest errors in the proposal, unfortunately. Saying that the ancient storm lich battle ended up trapping them in the Eye of Abendego doesn't make sense for two reasons. First, the Eye of Abendego is FAR to the south of Magnimar. Second (and worse), the Eye's only 100 or so years old; it first appeared at the Death of Aroden. Thassilon collapsed 10,000 years ago, so the storm liches were about 99 centuries too early to have anything at all to do with the Eye.
Guild Members of the City of Brass: The City of Brass is cool... but it's jarring to be focused on all this storm lich background and suddenly shift gears to another group of bad guys. Plus... I'm unsure what "guild" these folks are members of?
Vanderlae Marm: We've already done a lot with Magnimar, and there's no mention of a big statue of Vanderlae Marm on the Irespan yet. We can't just drop something big like that out of the blue into an established area.
Lighthouse: The Irespan's a terrible place to build a lighthouse, even discounting the fact that public perception = messing with the Irespan is bad. Magnimar's already got a lighthouse, in any case...
Public Perception: The adventure assumes the PCs would WANT to help build the lighhouse, or at least support its construction, when established canon about Magnimar makes it pretty clear that folk don't approve of building on or messing with the Irespan. A lot of PCs aren't going to want to go on this adventure if their characters don't want to earn the anger of Magnimar's citizens. I'm not sure Grobaras would want to risk his popularity by supporting the Irespan Lighthouse either...
Don't Blow up Magnimar: A disaster-themed adventure set in Magnimar is fine... but we don't want to hit it with something so devastating that we'll have to redraw the map to show all the destroyed buildings, or that 1% of its citizens will go blind from.
Wasted Time in Proposal: The proposal takes too much time talking about what to do if the PCs don't want to go on the adventure; this seems to happen twice. If the PCs still don't want to stay on the adventure once it's started, that's not a good thing.
Swamps to the South: The land south of Magnimar swiftly starts to get all swampy; it's better suited to have things carried by ship or barge rather than by giant wagons. On top of that, the reasoning for sending the statue away feels a bit illogical.
Boggard Wererats: This is the first example of weird overly-templated monsters. I'm not a fan of a lot of templated monsters, especially when the templates start to get weird. Frog/rat men are pretty weird. On top of that, we haven't really done much with boggards yet. They're still relatively new. I don't want their first big break in print to be all weird like this; better to just have them be normal boggards.
Aquatic Half-Celestial Goblin Snake: This NPC is FAR to strange and wacky. Too many templates! There's no reason for such a wacky creature to exist, and it's certainly not necessary to further the plot (any prisoner here works just as well).
Necklace of Water Breathing: These would be very expensive magic items. Putting enough for all the PCs in the adventure bloats the treasure award and ties that treasure up in something that the PCs don't really need... especially since they're high enough level to get water breathing as it is, and if not, Magnimar's certainly large enough a city to find lots of water breathing potions for sale.
Coral Treants: More weird overly templated/variant monsters. A coral monster would make for a cool new monster, though.
Gelatinous Cubes Underwater/Aquatic Salamanders: Gelatinous cubes aren't aquatic; they'd drown in water. Which means these guys would need more templates. So many templated monsters in a module is bad, since each templated creature needs a full stat block. That's a really effective way to run out your wordcount, unfortunately.
Dancing Collar: This is an interesting idea, but since it basically lets someone use a +4 dancing weapon (a treasure worth 128,000 gp), it's WAY over the line for the type of treasure one should be giving out in a mid-level adventure. Remember: Anything you give an NPC in an adventure has a really good chance ending up in PC pockets.
Flying Revenant: While I like the idea of having a defeated villain turn into a revenant... it's a bit deus ex machina as well, and kinda feels like cheating. Also: Where did this guy get his ring of flying?
Giant Octopus Attack: While I love the image of a giant octopus attacking the Irespan... in order for it to be able to do so, it'd have to be ENORMOUS. Godzilla-sized. A monster that big is going to be far too powerful to throw against mid-level PCs. The idea of making it's parts less powerful, treating each arm as a separate creature to lower its danger level, is a good one; we did basically the same thing in "A History of Ashes," after all, but in this case, even a single tentacle is going to have to be so big that it's still too tough a foe. The foe in "A History of Ashes" has some relatively complex backstory explaining how it can't use its whole body; a giant octopus that comes up out of the sea like the one in this adventure does has no reason why it can't just clamber up into the city and crush everything.

Final Reaction: While I do like some of the imagery in this proposal, and the underwater element is intriguing, the editing errors, world continuity errors, and all of those too-weird monsters and crazy treasures make this one a difficult one to imagine being a Pathfinder Module; there'd be a LOT of work and revision I'd require before accepting this proposal, unfortunately. It could certainly evolve into a cool adventure, but as it stands now it needs a LOT of work; certainly more work than the other two adventure proposals I've looked at so far...

Contributor

Some typos and grammar errors make parts of this hard for me to read.

I get the impression that the PCs reading the rhyme on the circle is what starts the hurricane.

Aquatic + half celestial + goblin snake seems a weird combo. Why not a half-fiend or fiendish goblin snake?

The pacing of this submission confused me a little. When Marnett died, I thought she was only a minor villain, and the real villains were the two battling liches. Then Marnett came back (with a ring of flying, which she didn't have before) and turned out to be the main villain.

Did the statue prevent the hurricanes from happening? By resting over the circle? Why didn't the circle cause the storms before the statue was built?

The role of the phylactery-as-magic item seems sort of a macguffin... you give the game stats for a storm lich, but you never encounter one in the adventure (though the main villain *wants* to become one).

This seems a little disjointed to me. It's about the right length for a 32-page adventure but the story isn't very clear, and I think the players might get lost trying to follow all the connections.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Again, its nice this year that we don’t have to exclude submissions for external reasons like including too much stuff for a 32 page adventure. All the submission in my view are “doable.” Sure, some could use some trimming. But this year it is all about the quality of the content. I’m going to refer to some stuff from last year just for reference, but the contest here is between these 4 contestants not last year’s contestants. Any reference to last year is for comparison’s sake only. So here we go…

Matthew’s Denying the Boiling Beast

Ok, that title is really not good. I took Kevin to task for his Dragonrest Isle, but this one is worse. And nothing sucks the life out of a product than a bad title. Get me excited about the thing. Frankly, “The Boiling Beast” is better than “Denying the Boiling Beast”. But even that sucks. This is a major mark against it. Why? It tells me you can’t find the beating heart of your submission. The title really needs to encapsulate the adventure. Look at some from last year (with Clash of the Kingslayers being awesome). Find the heart of your adventure and the title should come to you. And you have some cool stuff to work with, like the Boiling Sisterhood. I’m kind of surprised by the lame title.

Don’t give me “Back cover.” Just give me the text to hook me. And you do that. I will say this, a natural disaster looming sure is a call to action. It gets those PCs moving and involved—or it has the potential to do so. Not sure you capitalized on that. But the hooky text does its job and grabs me. It does leave me with a concern, though—this is an established city in an established setting. Are you doing too much here? Are you requiring campaigns to be changed? If so, that is a mistake. So while I am hooked, I am also worried. Let’s see what happens…

I don’t have the Golarion chops to know if this intrudes on established story or not or if it makes sense with the world history or not. I leave that to others. But as a publisher, I worry about it. Let me just say this—it better work. And I get the sense from the judges above that it doesn’t. And that is a problem. Now, that said, big props for using the setting. This certainly is “Pathfindery,” as Erik said in an earlier round of the contest.

But I am willing to put that stuff all aside once I read the next section and it’s two big ideas: 1. A storm lich. Now that sound great! And 2. the Boiling Sisterhood. Now that is a great adventure idea and a great villain group. Exiles from the City of Brass who chose to live on the bottom of the sea because the fire baddies won’t be looking for them there. That’s great.

You hooked me. I can’t wait to see how this adventure gets started.

And that’s the problem. It starts with a whimper. I really, really don’t like this litigation and political discourse about the bridge. And as I said in my initial impressions I just don’t think the PCs would be into this.

Man, this submission is like a roller coaster swinging from bad to good to bad: lame title, great hook, big issue with setting tampering, awesome villains, bad opening. My head is spinning!

And then the storm hits. Boom! Wow, that is a lot of damage to do to a major, established setting. I’m worried about all of this in a 32-page adventure. But I’ll set that aside. I think you were going for the “big grab” with this, which I respect, but I don’t think you thought it all the way through. Taking a cue from last year’s winner, which had a storm and destruction and a demolished city potentially, was perhaps a good idea. But Christine made up her own location. You are doing it to an established city. I think that is a mistake, though I commend your swing for the fences mentality. I also have to admit that a large part of this whole story so far isn’t making a lick of sense to me. I don’t really understand why any of this is happening yet and I don’t really know what the storm lich has to do with this. It’s very confusing.

The Eye of Owlax, taken on its own, is interesting and the PCs’ ability to be a part of countering the storm from the rune circle is a neat twist. But I’m just not feeling this. And the idea that PCs outside may get blinded or deafened from the adventure seems a bit random and harsh. I do like the Channel Energy angle. And I like the haunt—but this is one doozy of a haunt. I think this is just way too much.

So my question is, why can’t the PCs just remove the runes? I don’t know.

So here we go after the statue. Not sure why people don’t just teleport to it and bypass much of this mess. But hey. This river fight is a problem. I love weird stuff, but in a 32 page module everything can’t have a unique stat block. The other judges have documented the half-rat frogmen and the aquatic half-celestial goblin snake issues (though tar pits with black puddings, now I like that!). That’s just too much. But I could dial that back as a developer.

Ok, so Waller got Phorus as a reward for getting the phylactery and delivering it to the Boiling Maiden, Marnett Faulch. Got it. Now Waller should have gotten whacked by the PCs. Now the PCs go with Phorus to confront her.

I have to say this: I love this lair. A ruined tower section on its side lying on the bottom of the sea. Filled with boiling waters and banished salamanders and other weird jellies. I love that. I don’t care that a gelatinous cube would drown. That is what I hate about 3E—it can be such a slave to the rules. If something is cool, go with it. It’s D&D! These are underwater jellies! Fine with me. That would be a really fun set of encounters and I have to give you props for this idea.

Here’s what bugs me, though. I thought about the “remove the runes” idea above. And here it comes back. Now the PCs defeat Marnett and get her phylactery, they realize the runes on the bridge need to be destroyed. Well, duh! I’m not sure how or why they figure that out now. And I’m not sure how or why they couldn’t have already done that. Seems like there are some issues with the internal logic of this adventure. And in the end it appears all they have to do is deface the runes?

So now this owl. Its been lurking around for a while. It seems a bit cheesy and like it has a big sign “plot device” hanging around its neck. But it gets worse. Then the defeated villain comes back to life! Or, unlife I guess. Sure, it’s a videogame and movie staple to have to defeat the villain again. But somehow it seems lame here. And along with her, a giant octopus pops up!

Once again, internal consistency issues. If Marnett wanted this phylactery and she knows it’s in the statue and she wants it and she has had this giant octopus for years, why in the world doesn’t the adventure start with the octopus just ripping the statue off the bridge and dragging it away? I mean, why does Marnett wait for politicians to agree to remove the statue and cart it slowly down the road and ambush it? Octopus comes, takes statue, storms come, PCs go to swamp following some clue from octopus attack which leads to the rat guys seems to make more sense for a story structure for this adventure. This just seems poorly thought out. Or why not just turn kraken-boy loose on the city during the ensuing storm and wreck the place? I don’t get it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of a tentacle attack! Its rad. But this is so over the top.

I think we’ve seen enough of this one. Let’s cut to the final chapter.

Final Thoughts

I just don’t think you ever really found the heart of this adventure or really found a good consistent, logical story line. I think you had the image of an attack on the bridge and an idea for a really cool villain group (the Boiling Sisterhood) and a great lair for them—the sideways tower under the water. But the adventure where you tried to weave this all together just didn’t come together well for you. This one just isn’t there. It’s not done yet. It needs major revision in my view. You’ve got a good Golarion/Pathfider tie in, I’ll give you that. But this adventure just doesn’t work on too many levels.

But I don’t think we can judge in a vacuum. Let’s take a look at your body of work. Matthew, I was not the biggest fan of the school of eyes, I thought it was weird to be weird. But I wanted to see what you could do. I thought the first incarnation of Sartel was really, really good. So I was glad we took a chance with you. I thought you missed a chance in the next round to make Sartel better. And that concerns me. That worries me that you can’t incorporate criticism and changes well or quickly. And this submission certainly will need a ton of them. But then the Abandoned Carnival was very good. It was creative and well done and stood out in a round that had some really excellent stuff. So looking back you’ve got some real good stuff and some stuff that is a bit more suspect. In my view, your body of work is the most inconsistent of the top 4—which in a way reflects itself in this submission, which has the same issues. I think you can be proud of your work in this contest. You did a very good job. No one did perfect, so please don’t take my comments negatively. You really swung for the fences and I respect that.

I just don’t think you delivered with this adventure. I don’t think you found its heart. And it suffers from some real internal consistency issues.

For that reason, I DO NOT RECOMMEND this submission as a potential winner for this contest.

We’ll see what the voters think. Best of luck and congratulations on a great run!

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

This is the second I've read, and I have not read any other comments.

I'm not crazy about the title, but big ups for supplying the “back cover text.” It was something I tried to do, but in not wanting to give too much away I didn’t make it grab the reader by the throat and MAKE them wanna read the module. I also called it “executive summary” – not exactly a sexy title. Christine did it the best last year, and props to you for following her example.

Funny, “Marm” as a guy’s name kept throwing me, because I kept thinking of “schoolmarm.”

Hmm… some tense and spelling issues here and there.

Interesting, 2 out of 2 sessions have used a public brawl as the initial hook.

I like the basic concept of the super-ultra-mega trap/haunt triggering the hurricane (though some folks have issues with “the PCs unleash doom and now have to fix it” plots), but so far I think you fell into my trap last year – you just spent your entire Act 1 on another prologue. We’re halfway through your entry and we’re only just now really getting started.

Okay, I was wrong, now we’re to the start of Act 3 and we’re still accumulating backstory. I think the pure narrative format does not serve you well. Yeah, in my “advice for the contestants” thread I said stay away from bullet points and lists, but long chunks of paragraph like these are, I think, too far the other direction. What exactly is the encounter with the Killwaters? How many are there? What tactics might they use to defend their camp? We have black pudding vats, but do they come out and fight? Do the Killwaters have some way to force PCs into the black puddings?

There were a couple of phrases that made me say ‘what the hell?’ “Aquatic half-celestial goblin snake”? That’s a little too much going on for me. “Merrow was cleaved by an strange owl”? What does this mean? Are “cubic gelatinous jellies” different from “gelatinous cubes”?

I kind of like the aquatic salamander idea, actually. Some of your rule details are not bad – the wreath crown, the storm lich. The dancing collar… I dunno. Not my taste but an interesting idea.

Overall, I think you never quite found your big beginning and you kinda buried yourself in text and backstory. There was not enough specificity for me as to how you would articulate the different parts of the adventure for the players. You described what would or should happen, but I didn’t have as strong a sense of a framework of the adventure that could handle what might happen if PCs didn’t act as expected.

Best of luck and congrats on getting this far!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Gamer Girrl

First thought as a player -- "You expect me to stop a what? LOL! Okay, really now, what's the job?"

A city looking to a group of PCs to stop nasty hurricanes ... I really expected the adventure to start with a big blow and more coming, and it didn't. We get all this info on a city that supposedly existed where Magnimar is - and that's against the info given about Magnimar (having just gotten the permission from my GM to read it last night, I'm really up on Magnimar at the moment). But okay, say we go with this back story cause no one knew about it ...

The liches battle and wind up in the Eye of Abendigo?! That's like, thousands of miles to the south of Magnimar -- neat trick. So now I'm expecting, since they want to get out of the Eye, that they're the baddies, somehow causing hurricanes thousands of miles away ...

Nope, wrong again! Now there's folks from the City of Brass that are hiding out in the ocean really close to a major city so that no one notices the heat in the water? And they chose the name the Boiling Sisterhood ... umm, why? What guild? lots and lots of unanswered questions here ...

How are the players supposed to find out information on this ancient storm lich folks? And gee, the storms start as soon as someone actually puzzle out the runes and says 'em out loud -- my first thought as a player "We gotta erase/destroy those runes!" Not go haring off after some statue that was hiding the runes ... which means the runes were placed there before Owlax (Owl - Axe ... and the Owl familar becomes a dancing Axe ;p) betrayed Marm (I, too, keep hearing "Schoolmarm") as what? A contingency in case she lost to destroy everything behind her? I'm very confused about the logic behind this.

And I cannot believe that the Boiling Sisterhood could ever gain enough dockside votes to outvote the rest of Magnimar on doing ANYTHING that affects the Irespan. The city was taught a harsh lesson the one time the mucked with it, they won't allow it again.

Matt, you're good at weird. You come up with some very evocative ideas that hang about in the brain to bother and confuse the reader in a good way, those nasty ideas you can't shake. But making those ideas work -- I had problems before, and I see them here again. I cannot give my vote to such a concept. Sorry.

Congratulations on making the top four!


Some interesting ideas here, some very poorly thought out.

I have to say that if I saw an adventure called "Denying the Boiling Beast" on the shelves of my FLGS, I wouldn't be motivated to so much as read the back cover. In fact, the only reason I'd touch it at all would be to see if there was anything else behind it on the rack. Sorry :(


On seeing the name 'Jamesric Mun', I googled to make sure that there wasn't a pop or film star called 'James Rickman'.
James Jacobs has already commented on the age of the Eye of Abendego, another thing which struck me.

I am unclear just why the presence of the phylactery of one of the wizards involved thousands of years ago surpresses the haunt, or why, in its absence, the circle otherwise acts as a focus for it. For that matter, I have no idea why the circle was there in the first place.

Then there are various spelling, punctuation, and verb tense mix ups. I'm left with an impression that this is a first or second draft and not a final presentation.

There are touches of ingenuity such as the tower lying on its side underwater (combat situations in a horizontal 'corkscrew' of a spiral staircase could be very interesting) and I suspect that this could be fitted into a 32 page module, but I think it would need a LOT of editorial work.

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8

Bonus points for painting the back cover picture for me, it is always the 1st item I look at when buying an adventure product.

I always wanted to play in a lawyer style game for a 1 shot so if this were in print I might buy it. But I'm not sure this delivers what I'd expect to see on Paizo's site as a featured adventure.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Charles Evans 25 wrote:
On seeing the name 'Jamesric Mun', I googled to make sure that there wasn't a pop or film star called 'James Rickman'.

The more I look at that name, the more it looks like a combination of James + Erik + Mona. This might be a coincidence, but if not, it's the type of silly "easter egg" name that I almost always replace with something less wink-wink nudge-nudge during development.


Some of the judges dis this title, but at least it's more interesting than the normal "generic module name" trash out there. "X of the Y" my poor aching rump. Learn to live a little. Every module title doesn't have to sound like Gygax crapped it out. It's the one title that actually got my interest.

I like the adventure and its early progression. The writing here is full of little grammar errors and wonkiness, however, which worries me about the state of the full adventure.

The adventurers get involved with the usual/cliche "guy getting his ass kicked in the city" hook, get hired as guards, and are shortly braving hurricanes and underwater adventuring. Loads of good ideas; some questionable transitions. The Boiling Sisterhood etc. are very super cool, but the plot seems like a bit of a mess. What's up with the killer owl? In the end, it's just too messy, which is a shame because it has a lot of good stuff going for it.

I don't understand some of the criticisms of this one however. It's not a "lawyer adventure," though the current violence and disorder was started by law stuff. The adventure doesn't suddenly shift from grand storm liches to fistfights and guard work - the PCs come in on it "gently" without the backplot, that's part of the pitch not the adventure.

Anyway, in the end the story's a little confused and should probably not win, but I feel some of the criticisms of it have questionable merit.

The Exchange

Matthew, I kind of thought you would either win big or not. But how can I highlight any faults when I didn't reach the Top 4?

You have mojo and great ideas and with time and practise I reckon you will be on the cover of an adventure. Just not this time.

Thank you for Bumpy's woods of misdirection. They were one of my favourite bits of this contest.

Good Luck

Cheers


Yes...you have shown you are great at flavor and imagery, and thus hope that you get freelance gigs whenever someone wants some great fluff and interestingly twisty concepts to a solid foundation.

But at least for the moment it is all a bit too unstructured for you to get an adventure of your own published.

You don't have my vote but you will have my positive disposition for future appearances in credit lists.

Star Voter Season 6

In the interests of quantifying the number of encounters in each proposal to aid in deciding whether a proposal can be accomplished in 32 pages, I've created a list of each encounter for each contestant:

Combat: 14 (save Mr. Mun, Killwater ambush, 4 encounter area types in village, merrow bodyguards, 5 encounter types in collapsed Irespan, owl post-Marnett win, revanant Marnett)

Noncombat/Skill: 2 (shelter from the storm, research mode for missing statue)

Wandering Monster tables: 0 (although it could use one for the Killwater area and the underwater area)

Maps: 4 (Magnimar, Bridge, Killwater village, Marnett lair)

Star Voter Season 6

There'd have to be a section on the city's response to this whole thing. One of the first thing any player with a Lawful character's going to do is to report their information to the city authorities and get the army to help with sacking that village.


Fourth and final review. I have not been following the contest up until now. I have not read anyone's comments before commencing this review.

Cons
*Passive voice. Ugh. I know I'm over-sensitive since I'm an editor and a (mostly unknown) d20 writer, but please, rethink intros with lots and lots of passive voice.
*The intro is heavy on backstory. Many adventures are. However, I think that a storm that blows up, with mayhem and destruction, is cool! Why not start with that? Go into it more in this prompt? Tell us more about how adventuring during this storm is cool. What do the PCs do besides help people? Are there buildings to rescue people from? Creatures dredged up that flop on the docks?
*This seems a bit scripted as well. You have to go point A to point B to point C.

Pros
*the Blecksprut fight is darn cool. An octopus pulling apart a bridge? Yeah baby. Now, what level are the PCs? 8th. Hm. This had better be a Colossal octopus or some of them will fly rings around it. Still, you have to destroy the runes, so there's at least a reason for the cool fight.
*The visual imagery of the Boiling Maiden's lair was cool. I wanted to see so much more. It was well thought out and intriguing.
*This adventure seems very well steeped in Golarion and in a problem. It's not a save the world quest. It's achievable, and it seems about right for the level.

Dark Archive

I don't have a lot of time to comment at the moment, but I'll make two quick comments.

One- underwater adventure = awesome. I really like the idea of the fight taking place in a submersed giant guard tower on its side. I'm a huge fan of underwater adventures and I've been looking forward to a good one for Pathfinder. If there are others, I've not seen them. Feel free to point me towards them.

two - I don't see why the ring of flying bothered the judges so much. If you think it's silly or over powered, then that's one thing. But two comments that I saw were "where did it come from" and "she didn't have it before." It came from a previous adventure. She made it. She killed an adventurer and took it. Any of those. How do you know she didn't have it before? Lots of villains hold on to items and don't use them till they're useful. I don't think she would have gotten much use out of it underwater.

Anyways, I'm just getting around to these and Matt has been one of my favorites, so I got to his first. I'll be checking the rest out as the work day permits.

Contributor

deadly_puddingcup wrote:
two - I don't see why the ring of flying bothered the judges so much. If you think it's silly or over powered, then that's one thing. But two comments that I saw were "where did it come from" and "she didn't have it before." It came from a previous adventure. She made it. She killed an adventurer and took it. Any of those. How do you know she didn't have it before? Lots of villains hold on to items and don't use them till they're useful. I don't think she would have gotten much use out of it underwater.

My position was "Why did she not HAVE this when the PCs fought her earlier? A ring of flying is quite handy underwater, it means you don't have to make Swim checks. If she had it earlier, why weren't the PCs able to find it when they looted her stuff? Did she have a secret cache of magic for just in case she was killed and able to come back as a revenant?"


Alright, finally got some time to comment.

I love the visuals AGAIN. Battle on a bridge with a giant octopus? GREAT. Breaking the tentacles into smaller creatures so that the CR is appropriate is brilliant. Sure, in this case the bridge is too large, so what, move the adventure, problem solved. I could fix this whole setting issue with a couple "Find and Replace" commands for the location names.

Now from what I have read, this just looks like it needs a new location (make up a city) and voila! Ready to rock. Maybe make the adventure begin with the storm for the action junkies. I personally don't mind adventures beginning calmly. I think its too common a mistake to start EVERY adventure with some exciting moment like "OMG EMERGENCY! YOU WAKE UP IN A BURNING BUILDING WITH GOBLINS EATING YOUR TOES! WHAT DO YOU DO?!!?!?"

And as for complaints about the title...I personally rarely ever like published adventure titles. I guess if you wanted to be generic and follow what people are used to you could have named it "Lair of the Boiling Beast" to follow the over-used formula of published adventure titles. The title is fine, and I don't usually judge a book by its title or I would never buy adventures.

Sure it gets the player's attention, but then they are focused on the encounter and not the setting. If you start quietly, it lets the players see the setting and understand it a bit before dropping a bomb on it. In my experience, players who have time to learn about the setting are actually more likely to save the setting (in this case a city).

I don't really see a solid foundation on the complaints people are giving. Personally, for me the pros far outweigh the cons.

Pros:
-Storm Liches!
-Giant Octopus Battle on a Bridge (destroying the bridge sections while they fight is even cooler! GREAT idea for a final battle)
-Underwater Adventure
-Boiling Salamanders (Brilliant!)
-Underwater Fallen Tower as a Dungeon!!!
-Save the city from a Hurricane!
-Edit:Black Pudding in tar pits :) You know players are gonna love that.

Cons:
-Change the city location/name (solves 90% of the problems people list above)
-Not crazy about a familiar turning into an axe, but I don't think its overpowered as some others have stated. It lasts 3 rounds...3 axe attacks, really? that's overpowered how? Sometimes I wonder if people read these.
-The goblin snake is a bit too much, but take one template away, problem solved. Or drop in a different prisoner, its easily fixed.

Most of the others I have read so far are MUCH too big to fit into the asked for adventure format. It's almost like they are grasping for a trilogy or something. This one is just right with a little work.

You get my vote, I think its easily fixed, and very cool.

Dark Archive

I lied. One more comment. About the runes and the statue. From what I gather the runes were never visible until the statue was moved. So that would be why no one had thought to destroy them until now. Also, Matt wrote why no one would be able to remove them now:

TheTwitching King wrote:


Upon revisiting the runes, the PCs discover on their own or through help of the local clergy that this is a powerful manifestation of undeath – a haunt. There are no clergy in Varisia strong enough to banish the haunt, and like all of its kind, it will continue to torment.

That however brings up a problem for later on, during the bridge fight. He does say that they have to deface the runes, but that could have been done earlier. Maybe the Blecksprut can pull that piece off of the bridge, or maybe the phylactary has to be within range before it can happen.

Dark Archive

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
deadly_puddingcup wrote:
two - I don't see why the ring of flying bothered the judges so much. If you think it's silly or over powered, then that's one thing. But two comments that I saw were "where did it come from" and "she didn't have it before." It came from a previous adventure. She made it. She killed an adventurer and took it. Any of those. How do you know she didn't have it before? Lots of villains hold on to items and don't use them till they're useful. I don't think she would have gotten much use out of it underwater.
My position was "Why did she not HAVE this when the PCs fought her earlier? A ring of flying is quite handy underwater, it means you don't have to make Swim checks. If she had it earlier, why weren't the PCs able to find it when they looted her stuff? Did she have a secret cache of magic for just in case she was killed and able to come back as a revenant?"

I didn't even think about the looting process and I was unaware of the swim check. After rereading this, I see that my comment could come off as snotty, so I apologize about that. I was scanning the complaints and I saw the ring and to me, it seemed like an extra rant tacked on. I took it as the wrong way. I would definitely loot her corpse and take a ring of flying.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Epic Meepo

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
A ring of flying is quite handy underwater, it means you don't have to make Swim checks.

Where are you getting that idea? I can't find rules for underwater flight anywhere. In fact, the Fly skill specifically mentions that you use it when airborne, which precludes underwater use.

Contributor

I don't think you need to apologize for anything, pudding cup.

Great, and now I have "Build me up, buttercup" stuck in my head. :p

As for underwater flying, I am fighting with Jason at this very moment about that topic (the rules have never really addressed the use of fly underwater, but logically a spell that lets you move in any direction with a thought, rather than by physically working your limbs against a medium, should let you do that whether you're in air or water).

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
I am fighting with Jason at this very moment about that topic

Use a Headlock till he says uncle or better yet use the chair.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Gamer Girrl

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
As for underwater flying, I am fighting with Jason at this very moment about that topic (the rules have never really addressed the use of fly underwater, but logically a spell that lets you move in any direction with a thought, rather than by physically working your limbs against a medium, should let you do that whether you're in air or water).

Go, Sean! Win one for all of us :)

Star Voter Season 6

Make it a separate spell. The more spells make skills obsolete, the more the power disparity between the classes grows.

Liberty's Edge

I'll admit, when I first saw the title, I thought of one of those old west bodice ripper romance novels...

Dude, your proposal is a beautiful idea buried in a lot of kudzu. This adventure would be AWESOME with a capital A with focus and refinement. I think the core idea you have is the strongest, but the execution is the weakest, so I'm torn. I'll have to meditate on this. I WANT to play in this module. I WANT to buy what I think this idea can become.

Man, why'd you have to make this so hard?

:)

Dark Archive

houstonderek wrote:


Dude, your proposal is a beautiful idea buried in a lot of kudzu. This adventure would be AWESOME with a capital A with focus and refinement. I think the core idea you have is the strongest, but the execution is the weakest, so I'm torn. I'll have to meditate on this. I WANT to play in this module. I WANT to buy what I think this idea can become.

Man, why'd you have to make this so hard?

:)

The whole point of this contest is to vote on a module that we would buy and play. Now all you editors out there, don't get mad at me for saying this, because the writers should try to make your life as easy as possible, but these proposals would go through a process of editing and polishing before they would be released. That's why the editors are there. Now this isn't an excuse for having mistakes, but the contestants aren't professional (and lets be realistic, even professional writers have their work reviewed and changed), they're here to pitch a great idea and to make a product that the consumers can have fun with. From what I can see, none of these entries are the ideal submission for an editor. I think that as the consumers we should vote for what we want to play and let the writers and editors take care of formatting and streamlining it. I'm willing to bet that after the criticism of just the pitch and not the whole module, that all of the contestants have a far better understanding of what the good people of Paizo want.


Sean K Reynolds wrote:

I don't think you need to apologize for anything, pudding cup.

Great, and now I have "Build me up, buttercup" stuck in my head. :p

As for underwater flying, I am fighting with Jason at this very moment about that topic (the rules have never really addressed the use of fly underwater, but logically a spell that lets you move in any direction with a thought, rather than by physically working your limbs against a medium, should let you do that whether you're in air or water).

On the underwater 'flying' front, I think that if a Ring of Flying ends up having any function for such in the PFRPG, that it should be of severely reduced use; normal water will hamper most movement much more severely than normal air, hence the requirements for spells such as 'freedom of movement' in 3.5, and the reduced effectiveness of some weapon categories underwater.

Liberty's Edge

Sean K Reynolds wrote:

I don't think you need to apologize for anything, pudding cup.

Great, and now I have "Build me up, buttercup" stuck in my head. :p

As for underwater flying, I am fighting with Jason at this very moment about that topic (the rules have never really addressed the use of fly underwater, but logically a spell that lets you move in any direction with a thought, rather than by physically working your limbs against a medium, should let you do that whether you're in air or water).

With a hefty movement rate tax underwater, naturally...

Edit: Ninja'd by Charles!


houstonderek wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:

I don't think you need to apologize for anything, pudding cup.

Great, and now I have "Build me up, buttercup" stuck in my head. :p

As for underwater flying, I am fighting with Jason at this very moment about that topic (the rules have never really addressed the use of fly underwater, but logically a spell that lets you move in any direction with a thought, rather than by physically working your limbs against a medium, should let you do that whether you're in air or water).

With a hefty movement rate tax underwater, naturally...

Edit: Ninja'd by Charles!

:D

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Epic Meepo

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
...logically a spell that lets you move in any direction with a thought, rather than by physically working your limbs against a medium, should let you do that whether you're in air or water...

Well, logically, a magic missile should be able to target an object, a fireball should create pressure when it explodes, and a spell that can enlarge a human should be able to enlarge a human-sized bipedal mammal such as an ape. But spells seem to produce much narrower effects than logic would dictate. The fact that they are magic seems to limit them to very specific circumstances and very specific results, even when other results are logically similar.


As a further thought, fantasy RPGs such as dungeons and dragons often espouse four specific 'elemental' themes - *if* a Ring of Flying is attuned to elemental (air) magic, then why should it work underwater? Or can I use my Ring of Elemental Command (Air) to start bossing around water elementals, too?

Hmm. Maybe if Denying the Boiling Beast had been pitched for higher level parties, Rings of Elemental Command might have fitted right in...


I think the underwater idea is fantastic - I've been waiting for one like this - its so different. I've been following the competition and it seems your ideas are most refreshing (Loved Sartel). So far you've been my favorite through this competition, intriguing! And mind you octopuses are awsome! The judges pointed out some grammar errors and what have you but creativity and new ideas are whats most important in the long run! You've been pretty consistent through this competition and your stories very vivid. Congratulations for making it to the top four, and I hope you WIN!! And the critique about the title, I mean I don't know about most people but I generally judge a book by its cover, and this story has great imagery!

Contributor

{Well, logically, a magic missile should be able to target an object, a fireball should create pressure when it explodes, and a spell that can enlarge a human should be able to enlarge a human-sized bipedal mammal such as an ape.}

The MM spell specifically says it targets only creatures.
The fireball spell specifically says it creates almost no pressure.
The enlarge person spell specifically says it only works on humanoids.

Where does the fly spell specifically say it doesn't work underwater?

{But spells seem to produce much narrower effects than logic would dictate.}

That doesn't mean you should read into them things that aren't there and make rulings based on that.

{As a further thought, fantasy RPGs such as dungeons and dragons often espouse four specific 'elemental' themes - *if* a Ring of Flying is attuned to elemental (air) magic, then why should it work underwater? Or can I use my Ring of Elemental Command (Air) to start bossing around water elementals, too?}

Where does the fly spell say it's attuned to elemental air magic? I see no [air] descriptor on it.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka JoelF847

Wow, first impression is that I just finished wading through a giant wall of names.

Vanderlae Marm
Lady Ellus Owlax
Mr. Jamesric Mun
Willis Purplemoon
lord-mayor Grobaras
Priest-King, Wallar Mawl
Phorus Greenfin
Marnett Faulch

And this is just named NPCs, and doesn't include place names. Luckily several of those are familiar from the Rise of the Runelords AP. By the time I was on act 3, my eyes had started to glaze over and I had a hard time figuring out who's who. This might work in the full 32 page module, but for the 3000 word summary it was an overload. Since several of these NPCs are either not important in the overall plot, or literally don't appear in the adventure at all, it would have been a lot easier to read through if they hadn't been mentioned at all.

Unfortunately, the confusion didn't end with the long list of named NPCs. The introduction and first act both seemed to drag on, detailing background that even after reading the entire proposal doesn't seem relevant to the module, and spending a lot of time on political stuff that doesn't involve the PCs. I'm still not sure what guild from the City of Brass is being referred to, nor the main villain's connection with the storm liches. Did the Boiling Sisterhood find old records about how to cause the hurricane? Even if they did, if they're trying to hide out from the Efreeti, why are they doing any of this, since it's bringing attention to themselves? It also took me a second reading to figure out that the Killwater tribe actually works for the Boiling Sisterhood. It's only at the end of the Act 2 description that this is mentioned. While the PCs might not learn this until later (if at all), it's something the DM needs to know up front.

Add to all of the confusion is the blatant mis-use of Golarion lore (in particular the Eye of Abendego 10,000 years before it existed), the haunt based on moving a still existing lich's phylactery (why, aren't haunts supposed to be related to powerful emotions of the dead?), the unbelievable reverant of the main villain (reverants are supposed to be spirits returned to kill their murderers because they had something of powerful importance to them left unfinished, or a great love to protect, etc.), but in this case, it's just the villain wanting to complete their plan...which I still don't really understand why they are doing in the first place.

The only part of this submission that seems fun is the underwater tower, and that part really doesn't get a lot of attention in the description, so it's only the hint that it could be cool, instead of really showing how it will be cool that is there to engage the reader. I also don't think that the adventure takes into account how adventurers can skip over most of this section. If they see a tower on it's side that can be entered at one end, they can simply swim up to the other end, and passwall, stone shape, etc. their way in and skip all of the rest. It would be better to have the tower at a steep angle so that the end of it is submerged under the seabed and the PCs don't know where the top of the tower is.

I also think that the main reward, the wreaths the let you cast statue 1/day and immunity to petrification is a bit odd. I know every player I game will with instantly ask how much they can sell it for. While statue could be useful, I've never seen it get used in play other than by NPCs staging an ambush, and even if the PCs do want to cast the spell, a scroll should be sufficient. Petrification is also pretty rare - medusas, gorgons, and cockatrices, plus flesh to stone spells are about it.

Congratulations on making it to the top 4, but this entry does not get my recommendation.


I have a feeling that if the presentation on this entry had been more effective, and checks made to ensure that it hung together better as a coherent whole, that it could come across much better than it does.
I think that there is a possibility that this might work as a 32 page module, with sufficient attention from a very good editor, but there is sufficient uncertainty there that I cannot vote for this entry.


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Where does the fly spell say it's attuned to elemental air magic? I see no [air] descriptor on it.

Well on Page 32 of my 1st edition Dragon Warriors Book Five, The Power of Darkness, which I was playing long before I played D&D - but you appear to be correct as regards to Fly and D&D.

I remain unconvinced that the mechanics of movement through air and movement through water are the same. Movement through air is movement through a substance less dense than you are, where resistance from air currents is (usually) a minimal problem. A good deal of effort must be directed to counteracting the downward pull of gravity.
Movement through water is movement through a substance denser than you are, where resistance from water currents can be a severe problem. Unless you wish to bob around on the surface, are carrying weights, or ship on board sufficient water to drown, effort must be directed to going down to any extent. Now I suppose you could argue that the amount of gear an edventurer carries (unless leaping into the sea to escape a pleasure cruise full of succubi after belatedly coming to his/her senses) acts as sufficient 'weight' to maintain a negative buoyancy effect almost equivalent to that of a PC jumping up and down flapping their arms and trying to fly, but unless you are in perfectly calm water, you are still going to have currents trying to turn you round or hamper progress.

Edit:
I don't get the impression that you will change your mind on this subject, however, so I will not post any more about this. (And apologies to Matthew, whose entry is supposed to be the subject of discussion on this thread.)

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Epic Meepo

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Where does the fly spell specifically say it doesn't work underwater?

It works fine underwater; it grants the subject a fly speed, as normal. But a fly speed doesn't grant you any specific ability to move underwater:

Monster Manual, page 312, 2nd paragraph wrote:
A creature with a fly speed can move through the air...

A fly speed is defined as movement through one specific medium: air. Unless the Bestiary changes that definition, you cannot use any fly speed while underwater (or in a vacuum, for that matter).

Contributor

Epic Meepo wrote:

But a fly speed doesn't grant you any specific ability to move underwater:

Monster Manual, page 312, 2nd paragraph wrote:
A creature with a fly speed can move through the air...
A fly speed is defined as movement through one specific medium: air. Unless the Bestiary changes that definition, you cannot use any fly speed while underwater (or in a vacuum, for that matter).

Yes, because the core 3.5 rules are SO comprehensive when it comes for underwater rules. ;)


Matt, you rock! S@%tbox out!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Epic Meepo

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Yes, because the core 3.5 rules are SO comprehensive when it comes for underwater rules. ;)

When it comes to movement rates you can use underwater, yes. Yes they are. :P

Of course, this is the same rule set that says a centaur can climb a wall...

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

Epic Meepo wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Yes, because the core 3.5 rules are SO comprehensive when it comes for underwater rules. ;)

When it comes to movement rates you can use underwater, yes. Yes they are. :P

Of course, this is the same rule set that says a centaur can climb a wall...

didn't some monster book give dire elephants an climb speed or something?

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Gamer Girrl

cwslyclgh wrote:
*things*

[threadjack] ... how do you pronounce your handle? :) I love the Gaelic language to look at, but I never know how to SAY it ::laughing::[/threadjack]

Paizo Employee Creative Director

cwslyclgh wrote:
Epic Meepo wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Yes, because the core 3.5 rules are SO comprehensive when it comes for underwater rules. ;)

When it comes to movement rates you can use underwater, yes. Yes they are. :P

Of course, this is the same rule set that says a centaur can climb a wall...

didn't some monster book give dire elephants an climb speed or something?

Yup... that would be the Monster Manual II, which has its share of strange errors and weirdness.

Contributor

Epic Meepo wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Yes, because the core 3.5 rules are SO comprehensive when it comes for underwater rules. ;)
When it comes to movement rates you can use underwater, yes. Yes they are. :P

Okay, can you use levitate underwater? If so, how come fly, a more powerful version of levitate, can't?

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Tarren Dei

I'd allow fly to work underwater -- it's defying gravity whether in the air or in the water -- but I'd probably give some kind of penalty to fly checks for any maneuvers to account for the resistance of the water. Of course, that probably goes without saying, right?

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka JoelF847

I have no problem with magical flight working underwater. I would impose a speed penalty, however, to account for water resistance.

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