Aegis Praxis


Round 2: Create a new organization

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

Aegis Praxis
Alignment: LN
Headquarters: The Pikes in the Petal District of Absalom
Leader: Apex Catena Thornwall
Structure: Druid order
Scope: global
Resources: Aegis Praxis is located in one of the largest estates in the Petal District of Absalom. The spires of the Pikes are some of the tallest structures in Absalom. Aegis Praxis is ancient, widespread, and has accumulated great wealth in the four millennia of its existence. Nearly every leader in the civilized world, from the greatest of emperors, to the pettiest of warlords, has access to the guidance of a steward of Aegis Praxis, and Aegis Praxis has access to their plots and schemes. Aegis Praxis has numerous secret grottoes and druid circles in the major cities of Golarion.
Structure and Leadership: Aegis Praxis is ruled by Apex Thornwall. She is advised by the Council of Cardinals, made up primarily of druids, inquisitors, and monks. The Council of Cardinals oversees several ministries, as well as the tenders, stewards, and wardens that are assigned to advise the sovereigns of the land, gather information of imminent armed conflict, and dispatch agents to use whatever means necessary to end it. Their agents are also dispatched to spread new agricultural practices, innovative city planning initiatives, and subversive propaganda and sabotage against tyrants or other powers in conflict with the goals of Aegis Praxis.
Goals: Unlike most druids, Aegis Praxis value the civilized races as nature’s greatest treasure. Therefore, they seek to abolish massed armed conflict, prevent famines and plagues, and engineer civilized society. They act as advisors and counselors to the powerful, using gentle words or subtle incantations to guide them and advance the spread of civilization, and thus their influence in the world. To this end, they use diplomacy, intimidation, sabotage, extortion, assassination, and negotiation with extraplanar beings. They have even been known to use enchantments to sway the wills of kings, doppelganger replacements, and possession by ghosts and other underworld entities.
Public Perception: Commoners admire the goals of Aegis Praxis, if only because there are so few establishments dedicated to their welfare. Their red-robed representatives are respected, and even a little bit feared, because rumors of their darker tactics have not been entirely quashed. Their guidance and influence are also welcomed.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Dan, 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: Funky latin-named city druids (yes, I read that right), does it hold up?

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-
Points for originality—a group of druids that actually promotes civilization and cities. That is the opposite of what you normally see (and which is often cliché). OK, even taking out the druid angle (maybe I am stressing that too much). Even without druids, the problem is the conflict is just not really here, and that was the goal of the round. “They seek to abolish massed armed conflict, prevent famines and plagues, and engineer civilized society. They act as advisors and counselors to the powerful, using gentle words or subtle incantations to guide them and advance the spread of civilization, and thus their influence in the world.” I don’t want that in an organization that is an adversary for the PCs. The round 2 rules say: "Your organization should be something heroic PCs would normally oppose or come into conflict with, not an organization a typical heroic PC would join. The organization doesn't necessarily have to be villainous, but it should definitely be a potential antagonist." Big swing, but I think you grounded out on this one. I’m also not understanding the latin name. Where is that coming from? Maybe I just don’t know Golarion well enough and there is a good reason for it. I won’t ding you for it, but others might if they have the same concerns I do.

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?): C+
Neil calls these types of entries “glittering generalities,” and yours has them in spades. There are no real details—no intriguing NPCs, not cool locations, no specific plans or plots. Just general restatements of purpose. That said, I think there is some nice flow and style to what you write, though the depth I need isn’t there.

Tilt (did it grab me?, is it unique and cool?, do I like it?, flavor, are you showing Superstar mojo?): C
No, sorry, it didn’t.

Overall: C+
The strange latin-named anti-druids just don’t hold up.

Recommendation: I DO NOT recommend this organization submission for advancement.

Dan, this is a good try to get outside of the normal clichés, but I think your big swing turned into a miss. That’s ok, of course. I love the big swing. And goodness knows I’ve struck out more times than I can count. I have to admit, I really loved the claw and I was looking forward to what you had for us for this round. But I am critiquing this submission only, and I have to give it a pass based on what you submitted. Maybe the voters will see it differently. Good luck!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Welcome to RPG Superstar, Dan. The contest takes a new spin at this level. 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 look for things you did well and highlight stuff I think you could improve. So, let's see what we've got...

A druid order in the "City at the Center of the World." Okay. That's a radical choice. But there are druids in Absalom. So, it's possible they could form an organization there and use their resources to affect the rest of the world. It's a ballsy move to go with this choice. It's certainly different. The name choice is different, too. What's with the strong Latin vibe? Aegis Praxis isn't a vernacular I'd normally expect a group of druids from Absalom to assign themselves. And, you've got the whole Council of Cardinals overseeing things. It sounds almost Catholic, in a way. And that kind of breaks some of the imagery I started out with when I saw it was a city-based druid order.

As-written, I'm also trying to pick out the antagonistic nature of Aegis Praxis. I think you've buried your lead here. Up until the latter part of your write-up, they're sounding like great guys. They advise the sovereigns of other lands (though, I'm not exactly sure why--I guess they're kind of like a subversive Peace Corps, but still with good intentions?). I mean, they seek out conflicts in order to end them before they can threaten civilized society. Cool. They fight off famine. Great. They build up agriculture, city planning, and goodwill. They sound like awesome people. They even actively oppose tyrants and seek to tear them down or secretly replace them. More power to them. Sign me up!

I think you somehow launched an idea in your mind that sounded so cool that you lost sight of the actual assignment. The goal for this round was to give us an organization that heroic PCs would normally oppose or come into conflict with. It doesn't have to be uber-villainous, of course. And, Aegis Praxis certainly doesn't come across that way. But, they do need to be a potential antagonist. And there's very little here to hang your hat on which supports that. Yes, you tell us they sometimes rely on intimidation, sabotage, extortion, and assassination. But so do a lot of good-aligned organizations when they're opposing evil tyrants. If you're running a bunch of evil PCs from Cheliax or Galt or Irrisen, I suppose Aegis Praxis could be your enemy. But very few gamers play that kind of group. So, your idea here isn't really all that marketable if that's what you were going for...

Honestly, I think you kind of vacillated between painting the organization as "publicly helpful" but "actually sinister" and you weighted things far too much towards the former. Thus, when you get around to finally telling us they're a little bit feared and don't mind using doppelgangers or ghostly possession to carry out their will, the reader has kind of already lost interest. They're looking for the conflict and you hold off describing it for so long that they've probably already skipped ahead to the next entry in the book of antagonistic organizations to find something else that piques their interest.

So, unfortunately, I DO NOT RECOMMEND that this organization carry you through to the next round.

Despite your creativity (and you definitely have it), I think you missed the boat on this submission. If you were trying to stand out by taking the road less traveled, I'm afraid you wandered off into no man's land. I'm not sure if the voters will agree. Your claw of the crawling spell was fairly popular with some people, but among the judges, I think many of us felt you'd really have to raise your game to compete in the ensuing rounds of the competition. I just don't think you achieved that with this offering. Best of luck in the exit polls, though.

Contributor

Several problems here.

One, I don't really get a druid organization that sees modern civilization as "nature's greatest treasure." Civilization turns wild animals into domesticated animals, turns viable nature into cropland, and has a well-established history of destroying or depleting natural resources. At best, druids can hope to strike a balance against the evils of civilization... they don't view urban sprawl, pollution, and an unchecked population of breeding humanoids as a good thing.

Two, your Resources section bleeds over into what should be a 100-word general paragraph about the organization (look carefully at the provided format). You're not the only one who made this mistake, and I felt the template was clear (plus you have the orgs in the Inner Sea World Guide to use as a model for the correct format).

Three, this is presented as an LN group that wants to prevent armed conflict and such, but they push their agenda with mind control, assassination, doppelgangers, and so on. In other words, they're using non-lawful and in many cases evil methods to bring about their goals.

Four, when their public face is a handful of red-robed diplomats trying to keep the peace, it's really hard to set them up as antagonists for the PCs. This group has a lot of potential if written in a radically different way (to undermine civilization, or consolidate wealth, or they're more widespread), but the above issues mean I don't think this has met the R2 goals.

I do not recommend this for advancement.


I like the idea of Druids who see civilized races as a boon, not a bane. There's a huge mostly untapped vein of awesome urban Druidic content that could be mined.

I think the idea that they work to make civilization function better is a pretty good idea too. I can see how you would weave this organization into a narrative like a series of novels - a thread that might tie the work of several different stories together ...

But they're not adversarial. Who is going to really want to mess with this group? That's like picking on the Salvation Army - only someone just bent on raw chaos and random evil would bother. Not much play there.

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.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

I can think of a few of my PCs who would want to join these guys. (Taisper Stosz, I'm looking at you!) I can see how they might be antagonistic, and I applaud you for trying to make a nuanced organization that would spark a lot of good discussion between PCs. It's just when you try to get it in a nutshell ("a group of ends-justify-the-means druids who keep the peace between nations") fails to excite me as a GM or as a potential player.

I would probably not be voting for this submission on its merits. I will probably not be voting for you based on your previous work, even though claw of the crawling spell was one of my Top 5.

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

I can see players joining this org. Not very antagonistic. I can see using this group in my game. Using illegal means is an avenue I could see having my party come into conflict with this org.

Silver Crusade

So you kinda didn't follow the rules either friend. They have to be someone you would be against as well as a group you would not join. If you were running an evil character campaign, it would work. For everything else? No, not quite.

I like your submission, but we already have an organization that does stuff like this in Pathfinder.. They are called the Silver Crusade. And guess what? We take druids too. After the round, feel free to message me and I would be happy to have you join our organization. :)

Status: Love it--But won't vote for it cause it doesn't follow the rules.


Good opponent for our previous and current D&D groups - for some reasons we always get on the bad footing with Druids! Not so much PF party - they avoided the quest that would led them to meeting with the local Druid. They may or may not meet shaman-druids when they journey to meet nomads in a few sessions.


I like this idea. Sadly I don't see it as antagonistic.

Don't get me wrong it's definitely an organization antagonists can spring from. But, I don't see too many groups going "yeah, we hate those guys, they're a pile of *expletives deleted*".

So, no spark of darkness, no vote from me. A shame really as overall this is a good organization. The trouble is it borderlines on "good".


The idea is unique. I will put it in the possible folder. I will assume that if you had more words you would have been better able to make them into a better threat.

Liberty's Edge

This is a pretty unique idea, and I think these guys could be cool as a sinister “true power behind thrones” type group, or with a different spin a group that appears to promote and help civilisation but actually tries to drive it to ruin.

However, as written they appear as a generally benevolent organisation who are not all that likely to oppose the average, good or neutral aligned group of PCs. Furthermore there seems to be a lot of overlap of this group’s goals with the churches of Abadar or perhaps even Erastil, but no link is drawn between them.

While I can certainly see a place for such organisations in a fantasy game, I’m not sure that this is executed as well as it might be, or if it fits the brief of the competition.

Good luck Dan.


This organization is only adversarial to evil characters that choose to be tyrants and conquerors. That's not a bad thing. But here's where it misses the mark...

My best evil players would actually join this organization. Performing a few benevolent acts is a small price to pay for access to all notable leaders and political decisions.

Silver Crusade Star Voter Season 6

By the way, Aegis Praxis isn't Latin, it's Greek. Roughly translated, it means "supported by custom".

Dark Archive

This organization is surprising, in that it is hard to believe that the person who submitted your wondrous item is the same person who submitted this organization (although I know that to be the case). I will be checking this thread after the voting is done to see what your modus operandi behind this organization was.

There isn't much else I can add that hasn't been said by the judges and the other posters. Whether or not I vote for this organization will depend heavily on the other contestant's submissions and the strength of your wondrous item submission, but I can't say yay or nay at this point in time.

Good luck, Dan.

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

This entry, more than any of the others, shows the difference that emphasis can make. The key weakness of the entry, as identified by just about everybody, is that it's not really antagonistic. However, it contains the seeds of effective and interesting antagonism. All that we really need are a couple of sentences near the top that show how Aegis Praxis constitutes a specific, gameable threat that PCs will want to address. Without those sentences, this entry is almost a forfeit; with them, it could be top tier.

The lesson here (or at least the one I'm gleaning for my efforts next year) is to keep design goals at the forefront of one's mind. Otherwise, as a talented writer, one can get distracted into writing a great A instead of the B that the judges assigned.

On the strength of your Wondrous Item entry and your rep, I think you'll advance. I hope so, because while this entry is a misstep, it still shows creativity and skill. Good luck.

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

Thanks!

Dedicated Voter Season 8

Congratulations and good luck again.

Latinist/Graecist Moment commenting and translating Aegis Praxis:
Sorry, but I have to: The inner latinist/graecist had to check: Name is NOT latin. First word is latin, second is latinized greek. Quick translation has got to be something like "Defense Business/Issue". The two wrods do not match well. Links to good latin/greek dictionary pages: Aegis Praxis.
Inner Graecist/Latinist is not happy for messing words together with no inherent connection between them. It also does not get how the name is related to druids, even city druids who are all about defense.
I deeply and honestly think you would have served yourself better with an English name, as latin doesn't actually exist in Golarion... and I'd probably have to translate the name for my players anyway, and while that doesn't take me more than a few seconds, provided I have internet or my dictionaries, I'm sure it'll be a bother for people without knowledge of the languages.

That said alternative druids is a good idea, which could have worked out really well. Your item had a fine idea, so I was inclined to forgive for using a greek/latin name (though I still think it's a poor choice). But these people just aren't antagonists. They're just not. Except maybe to super-over-nature-taking-back-the-entire-world-druids. Who are kind of antagonistic themselves. I just don't think you fulfilled the assignment very much. Sure they have a few nasty methods - though those are rather well-concealed methods it seems to me. And they don't actually intend anything foul, so the people the force/replace probably did. Or they would be more likely to work with them. Basically: this group is probably more likely to hire the PCs than oppose them.

Also, I still don't quite the latin/greek name (ab-)use. I'm overly touchy about those languages though, so it's probably just me.

All added up though, the only thing I can say is: Good luck in the voting, I'm sorry, but I can't send a vote this way.


Dan Jones wrote:

Aegis Praxis

Alignment: LN
Headquarters: The Pikes in the Petal District of Absalom
Leader: Apex Catena Thornwall
Structure: Druid order
Scope: global

Disclaimer:

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:
Spoiler:
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?
Yes! Red robes are the order of the day. Okay, that's a bit boring, but it does apparently give them high recognisability and respect.

Does membership of this organisation seem likely to involve regular tea or dinner parties or other appropriate social occasions?
No indication is made of formal social events. Given that the membership seems to be rather dispersed, I doubt they get together too often for such events either...

Is the cost of being a member of this organisation likely to be acceptable to a succubus?
Whilst no mention is made of a membership cost, the whole Lawful ethos of the organisation, and the expectation that members will be obedient little minions and follow the grand panjandrum's directives seems rather stuffy and likely to prove suffocating to most succubi.

Other comments?
They seem to take a rather high-handed judge, jury and executioner stance, and I can't see that sort of attitude going down well for long with the bigwigs in Absalom. Sooner or later this bunch are likely to find themselves forcibly evicted from the Isle of Kortos or asked to tone their activities down.

Rating:
Organizations are not being rated except under special circumstances.

Congratulations:
Congratulations on making the top cut in Round 1. Obviously at this point it’s now apparent that you won’t be progressing any further this time around, but that means you can at least now relax, sit back, pick up a voodoo doll of your least favourite arch-devil, and start sticking silver pins in…

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