Sisters of Chana-Zhol

Round 2: Create a new organization

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4

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Sisters of Chana-Zhol
Alignment: CE
Headquarters: Hold of the Corsair Queen, located on a remote island far to the south of Jalmeray
Leader: Vaelit the Corsair Queen
Structure: Loosely affiliated sisterhood of demon-worshipping cannibal pirates
Scope: Regional
Resources: The industry of the Hold of the Corsair Queen and the island on which it’s built, temporary encampments and secret caches on scattered islands throughout the western Obari Ocean, and plundered treasure and slaves worth hundreds of thousands of gold pieces
In 4329, when Mastrien Slash’s army of she-warriors was petrified by the necromancer Geb, not all of the pirate queen’s followers were lost. Chana-Zhol, a charismatic half-orc pirate captain avoided the disaster and fled with her crew into the trackless Obari Ocean. Her ship eventually landed on an island inhabited by demon-worshipping human cannibals, and through a combination of sheer ferocity and luck Chana-Zhol became the tribe’s queen. Nearly four centuries later Chana-Zhol is long dead, but her followers’ savage descendants persist as a pirate sisterhood that plagues shipping lanes and coastal settlements from Absalom to the southern tip of eastern Garund.
Structure and Leadership
The Sisters of Chana-Zhol are a collection of loosely aligned groups of pirates comprised of a bewildering array of humanoid and monstrous races, including a growing number of ogres and marsh giants. Each group owns several sailing vessels and rarely spends longer than a season in one location. The groups are each led by a Blood Captain, who in turn pays regular tribute to the Corsair Queen. The Corsair Queen is elected from the ranks of the Blood Captains and rules for life. The current Corsair Queen, a towering steel-eyed Kellid beauty named Vaelit, is a former pleasure slave of the Satrap of Qadira. Vaelit rules from the Hold of the Corsair Queen, a well-defended fortress-city of sinister reputation.
The Sisters seek to expand their influence by generating wealth through piracy and the slave trade. They recruit new sisters by abducting children or by offering exceptional captives the opportunity to join them. Those who refuse or are deemed unworthy are slain. Males are either sold into slavery or consumed in terrible orgies of ritual cannibalism, often attended by summoned demons.
Public Perception
The Sisters are reviled by most of the civilized nations that border the western Obari Ocean. Their only ally is Katapesh, whose enigmatic Pactmasters act as their primary slave brokers.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Tom, welcome to Round 2!

What you are getting from me in this critique: This round is all about conflict and story. I think the best organizations create interesting and compelling groups that will come into conflict with the PCs. My comments, and my recommendation, will focus on how well you do that. My comments will also focus on writing and use of your allotted content in achieving your goals. What you won't get from me: I don't have the total Golarion-fu that Neil and Sean do, so I will leave to them whether you got the nitty gritty details of some of the setting stuff to them (though apparently I did have enough Golarion-fu to know its Pharasmin not Pharasmian, you know who you are).

So here we go!

Initial Impression: You got your Conan in my Golarion!

Concept (name, title, is it an organization?, overall design choices, is the organization and antagonist and does it create direct conflict for the PCs?, playability): B-
Vaelit? Belit? Come on, you have to know we read Howard. I’ll give you a pass and chalk that up to “inspiration” because in the end the submission is different enough from the Conan story the Queen of the Black Coast. But you have to be really careful about this. This is the kind of stuff that makes developers nervous. It’s not cool to sneak content in to your stuff and not tell people. Believe me, developers get upset when they get nasty grams and copyright violation notices based on stuff you snuck into some stuff you wrote to be clever and they didn’t know. That said, I like your gonzo cannibal pirate queen mojo. Still, is this really your originality or is it REH? We’ll let the voters decide that. I’ll be honest, I like that you put tons of Golarion stuff in here, but one part of me worries you are just doing that to cover up borrowing your idea from Conan. That makes me nervous.

Execution (quality of writing, hook, theme, organization, use of proper format, quality of mandatory content, did you milk your idea for all it was worth? did you use your allotted space well?): B-
You kept the gonzo love flowing with your writing. You are really creating a niche organization, though. Not saying you have to create something that everyone will come into contact with, but you need to show the wisdom in a contest like this to have at least more applicability than what you have here.

Tilt (did it grab me?, is it unique and cool?, do I like it?, flavor, are you showing Superstar mojo?): B+
I liked it. I have a hard time resisting that good old-school pulp style fantasy and you gave that to me. But I’m easy.

Overall: B
A very nervous recommendation, and one that the community may not embrace. I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt because the crown was a killer!

Recommendation: I DO recommend this organization submission for advancement.

Tom, your feywhisper crown was awesome and this submission would likely get you a tongue lashing from a developer, but I can’t deny the mojo and talent here. Good luck!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Welcome back to RPG Superstar, Tom. A back-to-back-to-back competitor ought to have enough insight going for him by now to realize the contest takes an entirely different spin when you reach this point. As judges we're here to comment on your work, both in the hopes of guiding you in honing your game design skills, and also to help the voting public assess how you measure up. With that in mind, I'm going to highlight what I think you did well and where I think you still need to improve. So, let's see what you've given us this go-around...

Demon-worshipping, cannibalistic amazon-pirates on the eastern coast of Garund. Okay. Wow. That's an interesting collection of images all at once. I like how you brought it altogether by connecting the right elements of Golarion lore to support your premise for this organization's existence. Connecting it to refugees of the doomed army that once marched against Geb is very cool. Giving them an outlet to sell slaves in Katapesh was a wise decision. Otherwise, you'd question how these pirates managed to survive in the face of so many enemies. And having their leader be a former pleasure slave of the Satrap of Qadira is inspired.

Your writing also flows very well. There wasn't a single moment where I had to pause, go back, and re-read anything. The professional polish is there and I think your experience in the competition shows. Your creativity and knowledge of Golarion is also on full display with this idea and where you chose to place it in the campaign setting. If there's one piece I'm missing, I'd like to know which demon lord these cannibalistic pirates worship. And I'd like some sense of how that horrific faith empowers them so I can get a sense of how to tailor future conflicts between my PCs and the Sisters of Chana-Zhol. I'm also left wondering if Chana-Zhol's spirit might have passed on to the Abyss for her sins in such a way that now she can continue to influence her Sisters from the Great Beyond. I think that might have made for an interesting touch. But, let's be honest. You were up against word count. You made the most of what you were given. And that's actually saying a lot, because you wrung just about every bit of information you could out of that write-up.

As such, I DO RECOMMEND this organization to advance you to the next round.

You're carrying a lot of momentum through this competition with your work so far. The judges all unanimously supported your feywhisper crown and it's made a lot of people's Top 5 favorites. I don't expect this organization to be any different. But we'll see how things go on the other side of the exit polls. Good luck.


I think a fleet of all-female monster demon-worshiper cannibal pirates is a bit too over the top. Heck, I thought "demon-worshipping cannibal pirates" was over the top. I think you missed an obvious connection by having them be demon-worshipers--Besmara is CN and the goddess of pirates and sea monsters, you easily could have a CE group of cannibal pirates serving Besmara instead of a demon lord, and they wouldn't have to be all-female (especially as Golarion doesn't have the only-male-pirates bias the real world had).

That said, you nailed the format, your writing is evocative, you made some good ties to Golarion lore (Geb, Qadira, Katapesh), and you packed a lot of information into your submission.

My recommendation for you is to ease back on the gonzo-throttle. Maintain your level of creativity, just avoid the temptation to cram in more crazy adjectives.

I do recommend this to advance... but be more careful.

Niche of niches. To use this content we've got to have a campaign set in a very specific area doing a very specific thing.

What do demon-worshipping-cannibal-pirates do that normal pirates don't do? I'm sure that most victims think their attackers are all that and more anyway - at least during the brief interval between being boarded, raped, and then cast into the sea to drown.

How does a pirate faction with a static known base of operations survive? Especially one that kidnaps girls?

On the one hand its just so generic. On the other, it's got this demon-worshipping-cannibal thing connected to it which I guess is an attempt to hand-wave the boring part into interesting. It just isn't working for me.

I recommend that you do not vote for this designer.

EDIT FROM SEAN: Competitors, remember this item from the Round 2 FAQ, which reminds competitors about the rule against commenting about their own submissions. We're pasting this reminder into the last judge comment for every organization just to make sure all competitors see it and remember.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Champion Voter Season 6, Champion Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Champion Voter Season 9


After reading your intro, I was expecting Reavers. Glad you didn't go that route. Then you referenced Conan, but with a twist. I liked your write-up. Joss Whedon / Robert Howard mashup which appeals to me.

Good luck!

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8 aka moon glum

I am totally into it. I could use this idea in my campaign right now. It would be cool. I would have the players fighting marsh giants, and watching berserk female orcs run off with the arm of a fallen ship's hand clenched in the sister's maw.

Its got my vote.

Sisterhood of demon-worshipping cannibal pirates seemed like too much at first but the rest of description sang to my inner Conan-fan.

One thing I would change or rather expand - the story of avoiding being petrified together with rest of she-warriors - specifically by Chan-Zhol not being present (being late, betraying companions, etc) to not undermine the epicness of Geb's spell. Currently mere avoiding may mean successful saving throw - which would mean that 1/20th of all she-warriors should escape.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka burrahobbit

I really like the "Queen of the Black Coast" vibe, it may cleave a bit too closely to that (presumed) source material at times, but, as the judges said, it has enough of a twist to stand on it's own. Adding the cannibal element was a good decision, in my opinion. It's on the razor's edge of being over the top, but succeeds nicely in making the organization stand out. Good show, and good luck!

Silver Crusade

Pirates and pirate queens? Love it. Perhaps when you get a chance to revise it, you can work a little more on the history and why they choose to do what they do.

Status: Voting--But revise it if you move onto the next level

Star Voter Season 6

You had me at "sisterhood of demon-worshipping cannibal pirates". I can't resist a tag line like that :)

I like this one. The writing was nice also. It allows for pirates to exist that rival the ones at The Shackles(from the AP), but still have "their own thing".

Dark Archive

I would have loved a mention of at least one demon by name.

That said I think you have mojo!

I really enjoyed the echoes of Conan in the organization. I also enjoy how over the top it is while still being a useful organization.

Have a vote.

You had me at "sisterhood of demon-worshipping cannibal pirates". I voted for this entry.

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

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I don't mind a lot of glitz. However, I do mind when attention-getting labels serve as shorthand for real content, and that's what happened here.

They're an all-female pirate group. They worship demons. They're cannibals. They're monsters. But what difference does any of that make? None, based on the text of the entry. A single sentence at the end of the Goals section is in fact the only reference to this group practicing any cannibalism or demon worship, and it's a throwaway to explain what happens to male prisoners.

This idea has potential, but its interesting implications simply don't appear in the entry. If I were to use this organization, I'd have to figure out how all these quirks function and fit together, at which point I might as well be writing my own organization.

The feywhisper crown was a strong item, and people seem to be responding well to this entry, so I suspect you'll advance. My advice for future rounds is not to stop with superficial cool factor, but to dig deeper and show us why it's cool. I feel that if I'd seen these pirates in action in your entry -- maybe seen some religious taboos based on their demon worship or some nice gory flavor about using slave ships as a food supply -- I would have liked them better. Good luck!

Liberty's Edge

Welcome back Tom, perhaps third time will be the charm.

So, what’s not to love about all-female monster demon-worshiper cannibal pirates? Well ... I like wild, exciting ideas, but perhaps this is a bit too ‘everything and the kitchen sink’. Plus it’s mainly all been done before.

Leaving aside the obvious Conan homage, we’ve seen it by Paizo and in Golarion; Mastrien Slash’s all female pirates (you have explicitly tied into that, but still), an island of ship wrecked, fiend worshipping cannibals off the Gurand coast (Serpent’s Skull AP), CE female dominated monster organisations (worshippers of Lamashtu), all female villainous groups (Illeosa and her Grey Maidens from CotCT) ... and delving into Paizo’s pre-Golarion back catalogue, an island full of demon worshipping pirates and cannibal monks, featuring some strong willed lady pirate NPCs (Savage Tide).

This is well written, quite exciting and there are some good ideas in there, but overall it doesn’t feel very original. I’m undecided on whether I will vote for this entry.

Good luck Tom.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka SmiloDan

Love it!

It reminds me of the gnoll pirates of my old swashbuckling campaign! They imported slaves.....and exported sausage. They worshipped a demon goddess, and the female captains literally had first and second mates (hyenas are polyandrous!). Fun fun fun!!!

I'm not impressed, but neither I'm impressed by the other submissions this round. I was really impressed by your item however.
So, long story short, you got my vote.

Scarab Sages Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7

I like the idea and the general execution. I would agree with several of the posters here that it seems a bit over the top, but that adds to the old school pulp feel of these dastardly, deprived demons of the sea.
Voted for you.

Dedicated Voter Season 8

Congratulation, again, again.

So, you have the support of 3 out of 4 judges, and I absolutely loved your item. You pretty much had a vote before you even submitted this. Anyway, I'll still endeavour to look at it, with some perspective as to how you can improve.

I like:
The name, the feeling, the daring, the over-the-top awesomeness. You're taking a wild swing for epicly amazing here, and while it does strike as a little over the top, I have a hard time not smiling. I really liked your leader. I like your history, and you seem to have superior mastery of fairly obscure Golarion history.

I'm missing/doubtful about:
Okay, maybe this was close to too far. I hope your moster retains the awesome, but maybe calms down a little on the too much awesome. Takes a deep breath and such.
Also, like Neil, I'm desperately missing a demon lord name, or a statement that we're more dealing with general demon-worship. I'm tempted to use it, but I'll probably have to make some decision there myself.
I'm missing a slightly more defined goal... come on, they've got to wnat something more than wanton destruction.
You seem to have a lot of ideas, and I can't blame you for not getting them into the tight word count. Basically, it's not a true negative, but I want to know more... I guess it's actually a good thing, though.

This added to your item, which was probably my absolute favorite of the last round, you've basically stolen a vote so successfully, I can't imagine what you could do to not make it into the next round and quite possibly all the way. Vote granted.

Good luck further on.

This was awesome, but unfortunately it feels like the awesome is from RE Howard and not from your writing. That said, many other readers will probably be happy with this, and Paizo does the same sort of ripping off other material all the time (inspired by).

Seabyrn wrote:
You had me at "sisterhood of demon-worshipping cannibal pirates". I can't resist a tag line like that :)

The first sentence - word for word - is exactly what Urizen was going to type until he read Seabryn's post.

Tommy P. Gonzo, there's going to be some left overs hanging on the tree of woe. Help yourself to some carrion. I hear the sun baked intestinal sausage exported out of the abdomen is a delicacy.

Urizen will DEFINITELY BE VOTING for this.

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


I was really interested in your organization, and after the Feywhisper Crown I figured it HAD to be good. :)

You certainly didn't disappoint. (Although more than a few point this out, I haven't read any of Robert Howard's "Conan" stories) so the similarities didn't affect my liking of your organization.

I'm eager to see what you might provide in the monster challenge in Round 3 (and best of luck getting into that round).

So, it may go without saying, but you've got my vote!


Dark Archive

I didn't even think of "Queen of the Black Coast" when I was reading your organization, and I had first read that story only 2-3 months ago; maybe my brain was more involved with the words I was reading, and most of the main details were how this organization was flawlessly tied to a very raw and dangerous area of the Inner Sea region, namely the Eastern coast of Garund near the South of Geb.

Now, this is a very limited area, but this organization seems to have a far reach, and having their headquarters in that remote and deadly area is awesome-sauce.

What I was thinking was that there is no question whatsoever as to if this is an antagonistic organization or not. That is always refreshing, considering not all submissions were able to avoid being ambivalent about this.

Both your item and your organization are top-notch, and you were one of the contestants I voted for in this round. Really hope to see your monster, and, again, best of luck!

Dedicated Voter Season 8

And, no surprises here, vote send of.

I hope to see a little less niche and a little less over-the-top, but that's just the most of advice I can give you.

I really hope to see and inspired (and not fey-demon-pirate-cannibal-and-just-to-go-a-little-further-dinosaur-look-a-l ike) monster from you - stay inspired, try for a little teensy bit more careful.

The very best of luck...

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

OwlbearRepublic wrote:

I don't mind a lot of glitz. However, I do mind when attention-getting labels serve as shorthand for real content, and that's what happened here.

They're an all-female pirate group. They worship demons. They're cannibals. They're monsters. But what difference does any of that make? None, based on the text of the entry. A single sentence at the end of the Goals section is in fact the only reference to this group practicing any cannibalism or demon worship, and it's a throwaway to explain what happens to male prisoners.

I had much the same reaction. I didn't feel like the actual content formed a cohesive, interesting whole. It's another group of baddies to throw at your PCs; it might be a colorful group, but their style and purpose in the game is the same as a hundred other baddie groups.

I see Ryan had practically the same comments as well. Well, now I know whose recommendations suit my taste :)

Love it. Ogre pirates. Cannibals. Demons. It might not be original but consider me wowed. I don't think this is to much. If you can't freak out in DnD, then when can you?

You have my vote.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4

A sincere Thank You! to everyone who voted for my Sisters and to those of you who posted in this thread, whether you were offering constructive criticism or friendly support.

For those of you who are unsure of my design talent or are perhaps on the fence: I hope to earn your praise next round (if I'm lucky enough to advance)!

Oh ... and I'll try to ease up on the "gonzo-throttle". ;-)

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8 aka Benchak the Nightstalker

You got my vote, Tom! Us old 2010 alumns gotta stick together!

Scarab Sages

In Tom's defense, there was only one female pirate found in REH's Conan literature (if memory serves me correctly). Also, pirates predominantly worship coin: that's why they got in the business! I have had the pleasure of actually playing with Tom as a fellow player and GM, and I must shout this from as many mountains and rooftops as possible:


The "gonzo" is what is needed at times to wipe away the mundane nature of something perhaps hackneyed and give it a fresh light and perverse twist! That is vital at times to nurture the storytelling aspect of GM-ing.

So, I am tipping back a shot of the Gentleman Jack in hopes and honor of you, young man, and your potential!

Tom Phillips wrote:
Oh ... and I'll try to ease up on the "gonzo-throttle". ;-)

Bah! It's your "gonzo-throttle" that I've found appealing three years running.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4

The_Minstrel_Wyrm wrote:
Although more than a few point this out, I haven't read any of Robert Howard's "Conan" stories ...

I highly recommend REH's stories. They are staples of the sword & sorcery/pulp genre, and are MUCH better than the gods-awful Conan movies.

Liberty's Edge

Well done Tom. While I had some issues with this entry, I really liked some aspects of it and I'm glad you got through. Let's see what you do with your monster.

Tom Phillips wrote:

Sisters of Chana-Zhol

Alignment: CE
Headquarters: Hold of the Corsair Queen, located on a remote island far to the south of Jalmeray
Leader: Vaelit the Corsair Queen
Structure: Loosely affiliated sisterhood of demon-worshipping cannibal pirates
Scope: Regional


You should know the drill by now, but in case you missed it the first time round, Ask A RPGSupersuccubus is posting from the point of view of a CE aligned succubus:
Fairness is an adjective applicable to hair coloration, balance is what a couple of mortals rapidly losing it on opposite ends of a plank pivoted on a rocky spire a couple of hundred feet above a slowly rising pool of molten basalt try to do, and logic is one of those things which you could swear is there when you rattle the piggybank but if anyone other than a demon opens it the contents turn out to be a couple of dead wasps and a six week old ‘to do (in)’ list.

Important Note:
There’s a difference between late and fashionably late. The former is what most other beings manage. The latter is what sophisticated, (very advanced) succubi manage.

First impressions always being important, do members of this organization wear nifty robes or uniforms when out on formal business?
No indication is given of nifty robes or uniform.

Does membership of this organisation seem likely to involve regular tea or dinner parties or other appropriate social occasions?
Umm, it's likely to involve frequent dining... just not fine dining.

Is the cost of being a member of this organisation likely to be acceptable to a succubus?
Whilst being a cannibal is rather a strong social statement, it does not necessarily indicate good taste in fine dining, and the 'must eat etc, etc' requirement of members would put most succubi off. Plus there is the whole working-for-mortals expectation, as well as the rather unpleasant working-alongside-demons-who-do-normally-enjoy-eating-that-stuff aspect.

Other comments?
Oh dear, so this is a sort of Obari Ocean version of The Shackles, only with a pirate queen instead of a Hurricane King, and with mortals and demons with unfortunate table manners...

I'm not generally rating these things, this round, but this one merits a rating of Just Ick.

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