From Time's Depths

Round 5: Submit an adventure proposal

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Charles Evans 25 wrote:
...The aboleths did not summon the Starstone to destroy Azlant. They summoned a rain of meteorites, of which the Starstone was one which fell short and ended up in the modern day Inner Sea region...


To be fair to the contestant, information about the Earthfall event is currently somewhat scattered through the Campaign Setting and a couple of other sources, and if he had come upon only one or two of the references I can understand how he may have formed the impression to which I made the above comment.

<Grumbles about Paizo Wiki entry for Earthfall, and adds it to his 'to do' list.>

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Standback

Well, I'm certainly chiming in nice and last-minute, aren't I?

Matt, I'm not entirely settled on this yet, but I think you're going to get my vote. There are a lot of issues with your proposal, and they've been brought up by people wiser and more experienced than I. But the same is true of all the proposals, and here's what I see as the clincher: the issues with your proposal seem easy to fix, and without harming the core concept and excitement.

For the meat of your adventure, you've gone with a structure that's simple but promising: exploring a sunken island by reenacting its past. The simplicity, it seems to me, will make it easy to write within word limit, because you're not trying to do too many things at once. You're trying to do one thing - so if you wind up doing a little more or a little less of that one thing than you intended, that's just fine. And the promise - well, it's made clear that the characters are going to witness momentous scenes that have been secret for thousands of years. That, right there, is an upfront promise of excitement and discovery that I can look forward to, and that works well for me.

So that's what I see in "From Time's Depths," and that's why of all the proposals offered, this is the one I think I'd really enjoy playing. Now, don't get me wrong - there are plenty of things to fix. But most of them are eminently fixable. The hook is weak? New hooks can be written. The challenge ratings are off? Adjust 'em. Ogguth's tactics aren't realistic? Alternate tactics can be provided. The Devilfish doesn't fit in well, and we're stepping on the Startone's toes? Fine, change all that, come up with something new - but none of those are the core of the adventure.

The two criticisms which I don't think can be so easily dodged are these: Firstly, the overlap with other modules. It pains me for a creative contest to be determined on such a seemingly technical basis, but RPG Superstar is much more than a creative contest - it's a professional one, and so the final product fitting badly in the actual product line is a very serious consideration. And secondly, casting the PCs as observers of past events, viewing them without being able to interfere, seems a very tricky prospect. I can see it all-too-easily descending into a series of "History of the Azlant" cutscenes, at the conclusion of which the PCs stab a random character and then continue on their merry way. Not involving, not satisfying. Nonetheless, you look as if you've got this issue at least somewhat in hand - Ogguth as a responsive challenge within the timestorms, and the goal of ending the timestorms themselves, are both immediate goals for the PCs, well-linked to the "cutscenes", so I think you're at least well on your way to avoiding this particular pitfall.

Lots of luck, and all the best!


Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

Dude, I really liked your proposal and as I told Jim, you may not have gotten the golden ring, but you got the golden ticket. I expect Paizo will be calling you into service as a writer/slave to the Man shortly! And I look forward to seeing what comes of it. Good job, man and best of wishes!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

Congratulations Matthew. Your 'Stargate' asteroids into the pryamid was such a 'wow, I wish I'd thought of that' moment. I used the Ossuary Golem in my Location because it was just a neat concept. Paizo has got to want some of that talent in their line up. I know that I want to see more of your stuff.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

Like many I settled on Ebon Destroyer as soon as I read it, and for some reason I felt awkward making "Good but not good enough" posts this late in the game, but now that the whole thing is settled I just had to tell you that this thing is crawling with creativity. The scenery is great, the fights rock, the creature are very memorable, and the timestorms kick ass.

I'll go so far as to disagree with Standback on the 'watch a cutscene, stab an NPC, move on' issue. Not to say that no PC would ever do that, mind you, just that it isn't an issue: the PCs who would approach this obstacle with arrows are the ones who would have fun doing so. Some players derive a perverse pleasure from 'cutting the knot', as it were, and solving problems with bemusingly messy directness. Others just enjoy messing up the scenery and would love to go on an anachronistic rampage. But there are other players still who would approach these challenges in very different ways.

The timestorms are a toy for the players and the DM. Pure and simple. There's no right or wrong way to 'fix' them- just about anything will work- but a million ways to have fun doing it. For some groups they're just an amusing bit of scenery, but I can see others spending a whole session immersing themselves in Azlanti culture through Majora's Mask-esque recursion. And that's awesome. Good game designers know when to let the players make their own fun.

Nevertheless, I can't help but feel that it was an underdeveloped theme. It's hard to say how because they're already such a wild idea- perhaps I wanted to see a 'greater timestorm' that posed a real challenge to the group somehow, or perhaps I was waiting for some interesting ancient plot (with relevance to the present one) to be revealed. Overall this adventure feels like a lot of awesome stuff sitting around for the PCs to interact with, but not a lot of interconnectedness between it all.

Groves and Goodall knocked it out of the park this round, but if they hadn't- if Times Depths and Mastrien Slash had been the best adventures on display- I wouldn't have been the least bit disappointed in this contest. This is a very creative, cool, and memorable adventure and I'll be looking for your name in the future.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

Oh, one more thing:

F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
As a reason for the PCs to start their adventures I totally don’t buy this. There’s just no assurance that the characters will actually go on the adventure. As trite as the old “A guy comes up to you in a bar” adventure hook is, it works, as you have an employer, the challenge is explained, and payment is promised. Here, you have nothing but a map a minor magic item and the hope that the PCs’ curiosity is enough to see them hire a ship and head into the middle of the ocean.
James Jacobs wrote:
7) It's better to have the PCs gain the blank metal scroll and small crystal pendant DURING the adventure, not before it begins; same goes for the PCs' discovery of how these items work and what they contain. You're writing a one-shot module here, not part 3 of a series. Don't put "load-bearing" elements of the adventure outside of your adventure. If you don't want to have the PCs discover and figure these things out, it's better to have an NPC do this and then approach the PCs for help. And for that matter… these elements seem kind of wasted if all they do is serve as a "start" button for the adventure to begin.

This complaint I could not make sense of. How is a magical map not an excellent hook?

Guys in taverns work fine for APs, but the thing to remember here is that this is supposed to be a stand-alone adventure. The DM who uses it was doing his own thing before, and he's going to be doing his own thing after. As the author, you have no no idea what this group was doing before this adventure started; they could be wandering the desert, emerging from a jungle, descending from a Cloud Giant city in a flying boat, whatever. THE DM is the one who gets the party into the adventure (and part of that process includes buying the right adventure for his party)- the 'hook' simply needs to be a tool that makes his job easier.

The hook for Mastrien Slash was "So, you're in Jalmeray, and then this guys asks you to...". The hook for Dream Thieves was "So, you're in Absalom, and then this guy asks you to..." The hook for Ebon Destroyers was "So, you're in Jalmeray, and then this guy asks you to*..."

As a DM, I can work with these if I have to, but the map and key McGee used are way better. I can throw this into any loot pile in my game, anywhere in Golarion, and if the PCs are at all interested in exploring a sunken island they'll come.

The complaint seems to be that there is no guarantee that they’ll go on an adventure, but my players are as likely to ignore a guy in a bar as to sell or throw out a magical treasure map. Both carry the same message: "Hey, this doesn't directly concern your character, but there's adventure over here. Take it or leave it."

*Actually, Ebon Destroyers is more like "So, you're in Jalmeray, just chilling, when this crazy hypnotic bird starts tearing through the crowd." The guy asking you to do the thing doesn't come until later. It's good, but its arguably a bigger gamble than the map, and you've still got to get the party to Jalmeray for it to work.

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