The Red Bastards

Round 2: Create a new organization

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 8 aka shiverscar

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The Red Bastards
Alignment: CE
Headquarters: Bastard's Bastion in the Valley of Fire, Brevoy
Leader: The Red Prince
Structure: Military Hierachy
Scope: National
Resources: Varying amounts of liquid assets depending on recent successes, manors and holds in south-eastern Brevoy, fortress in the Valley of Fire

The Red Bastards are composed of disenfranchised nobles and the unacknowledged bastards of Brevoy's nobility. They are led by a charismatic, mysterious man who styles himself as The Red Prince. The Red Prince claims to be a bastard scion of the vanished House Rogarvia, spared the calamity that claimed his bloodline. Though ostensibly a mercenary company, The Red Bastards draw a great deal of their income through extortion, banditry, and outright theft. Townships and villages that refuse to pay their exorbitant protection fees are found burnt to the ground by what appears to be dragonfire, contributing to rumours that the Red Prince may be Choral reborn.
Structure and Leadership
The Red Prince steadfastly maintains the mystery surrounding his true identity, using rumours of his origins to encourage fear and adoration in his followers. Commands from the Red Prince are disseminated by his lieutenants, Alora, Rykul, and Gerrard, all humans with similar claims of noble lineage with little evidence. Abandoned villas, hunting lodges, and keeps left in the wake of House Rogarvia’s sudden disappearance shelter the nomadic mercenary company. The Red Bastards maintain a static stronghold in the Valley of Fire called Bastard's Bastion and use rumours of the haunted valley to keep interlopers at bay.
The Red Bastards seek to encourage the already widespread fracturing of alliances that pervade Brevoy’s political landscape. Acts of banditry and sabotage are designed to look like the acts of rival Houses. Noble progeny with no true claim to their families’ dynasties hope to profit from the chaos a civil war brings. The Red Prince has aspirations to repeat the conquests of his supposed ancestor and unite Brevoy once more under his own banner. Above all, the Red Bastards seek personal profit and never pass up an opportunity to capitalize on a situation.
Public Perception
The Red Bastards are distrusted by the populace and nobility alike, but their ruthlessness in completing contracts has increased their appeal as a necessary evil. Noble houses hoping to keep a dangerous weapon out of the hands of rivals keep the mercenaries on contract for as long as their coffers can hold them.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Welcome to RPG Superstar, Adam. Strap on your armor and ready your blade. The contest takes on an entirely different spin at this level. And, 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 talk a bit about what you did well here and where I think you've got room for improvement. Once more into the breach. Let's see what we've got...

Looks like you've banded together a group of militaristic "nobles" of dubious lineage, lashing out at the world for the harsh hand that fate dealt them. I like that you've placed them in Brevoy. You've obviously tapped into the seeds for civil war brewing within that nation. And you've hinted at some mysterious dragon-born connection for your organization's Red Prince by tying him back to the infamous red dragon Choral the Conquerer used to originally found Brevoy. So, you're striking a lot of good notes in this mercenary company's background, history, and current operations.

There's also a little "Game of Thrones" vibe running through your design. Not much. Just a little undercurrent whereby the Red Prince and his allies are framing rival houses to sow further distrust and push the nation closer to the brink of civil war. Capitalizing on that situation as another "uniter" who appears out of the ashes is a nice piece of work that GMs could easily leverage to help their campaigns in Brevoy or even the Stolen Lands from the Kingmaker AP take off that much better. It's a wise choice in a meta-game sense to hook your design to that region and those circumstances, as it's got more "play" at work for it than one might think just by looking at the surface of what you've given us.

All in all, I think you write very well. Your description flows from point to point, building up information about your organization in a way that harmonizes and leaves a lasting impression of what a GM could do with this mercenary company. And, I think you found the right means for anchoring it firmly in place within a single nation, while also drawing upon all of that nation's past history and recent events. If I've got any advice for you, I'd have liked to see at least one concrete example of something the Red Bastards have accomplished or that they're currently pursuing which can serve as an immediate adventure hook. But, you did what you could with the wordcount limitation and kept it generalized enough that I think the reader can easily extrapolate something.

So, given all that, I have to say I DO RECOMMEND this organization to advance you to the next round.

We'll have to see how the voters feel about it as compared to some of the other entries. I thought your creativity with the flask of liquid sunlight was top-notch thinking. And, your attention to detail and ability to stick to the core of your idea with the Red Bastards has further improved your standing in my eyes. That's what you want to do over the course of this competition. So, if you make it to the next round, let's see you do something awesome with some monsters as well. Best of luck in the exit polls. I hope to see you on the other side.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Adam, 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: Illegitimacy knows no bounds!

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+
I didn’t like the name, initially. But right away it is clear that the name isn't "bastards" as in "a group of bad ass devil may care clichés" but instead they are actually disenfranchised bastards. That makes it a bit better. But would they really call themselves that? My thought of nobles is that they are not fond of stressing their LACK of authority and legitimacy. In the end, though, I like it. It is an interesting core idea. They are true antagonists.

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
The Good: There are several NPCs named. And while the stronghold is not the most evocative, it is there. You hit all the required notes and I have to admit much of your writing is good (aside from the naming). I like this as a merc company with some claim (pretended or not) to nobility.
The Not So Good: Bastard's Bastion, come on how about a little more thought in naming. Is their fight song the Bastard's Ballad and their insignia the Red Regalia? Branch out a little.

Tilt (did it grab me?, is it unique and cool?, do I like it?, flavor, are you showing Superstar mojo?): B
In the end, a usable group with a fun twist. Plus, PCs are always itching to kill the many uppity nobles they encounter, but usually they can't. Now they can! GMs and players everywhere, rejoice!

Overall: B+
Kill the bastards! I mean it...

Recommendation: I DO recommend this organization submission for advancement.

Adam, your flask was fun and had some good mojo. Though this entry is a bit safe, and perhaps not as strong as others I recommended for advancement, nevertheless you stepped it up. Keep up the good work. I hope the voters feel the same way. Good luck!


I like the name "Red Bastards," and it reinforces the nature of the group.

The writing is tight, and these guys are useful for many things, whether you need bandits, enforcers, bodyguards, warmongers, or pawns (or perhaps key players) in a political game. I like the bit about nobles trying to keep them employed as long as possible in order to block other nobles from hiring them--many plot hooks there!

I do recommend this to advance!

I don't get the value here.

Why are these people effective? Because if you oppose them you find your settlement destroyed and everyone killed? Why doesn't anyone react to that - especially if they have a static base of operations that could be divined or scryied? Surely after wiping out a few settlements someone gets up the gumption to put them to the sword and stop the nonsense?

As a designer you're trying to walk a very fine line. Either you're giving the IP something it doesn't have (a legit descendant of the bloodline of the vanished lineages), which would re-wire the entire continuity and "answer" a currently un-answered question about the Brevoy territory; or you're just serving up a bunch of charlatans using handwaving and disinformation to promote an idea that isn't factual.

That's outside the remit that a designer would be asked to do for this kind of submission. Such a major IP change would be handled by the leadership of the design team at Paizo, or a fake group would be edited out to avoid sewing a mistaken impression within the community that it was in fact real.

End of the day, its a group of dudes who go around killing folk who don't pay protection money. Who may or may not have access to a dragon or dragon-like abilities. That's pretty much all you've provided.

I don't recommend that you 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.

So we have thugs that nobody likes and yet he wants to rule the nation. I would think they would try to be likable. I don't really like this one.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4 aka OamuTheMonk

Fun, evocative, ready for action. You got my vote.

Star Voter Season 6

I think it's a good idea, and well done...unfortuneately all I could think about the whole time I read it was the "Bastards of Erebus" from the Council of Thieves AP.

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

Kingmaker is my favorite AP, and I could see these guys mixed up in it. Brevoy is one of my favorite areas, largely based on its similarity to Game of Thrones. You did a good job meshing with Kingmaker. I do wonder why Restov tolerates them, being geographically closest and least swayed by the political considerations.

I would probably be voting for this submission on its merits. I will probably be voting for you based on your previous work.

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

I have issues with tying into House Rogarvia. What little has been said about them claims the WHOLE family disappeared. Besides that, you have a good org.

Silver Crusade

It was only a matter of time, when I would be taken back to my Kingmaker AP days. *sighs*

Problem with this is, it's two years two late. It is also too much Game of Thrones referencing for me on top. I finished reading it thinking "So Winter's coming now?"

Bastard children mercenaries' with royal family issues. Sounds like Taldor, Galt, Andorian, Nex, Bevoy, and Cheliax all rolled into one. Been there, done it, already onto the next adventure path.

Status: No vote--but you have my respect for integrating Kingmaker's history and geography very well into your submission.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

I like the organization overall, though I'd have liked to see evidence of more personal goals/motivations of the members. If they feel personally jilted out of familial acknowledgement and fortune, it stands to reason that all of the members of this organization would want some individual rewards, rather than continuing to be followers indefinitely. However, the flavor was good, and that's perhaps the most important thing.

There is one nitpick I'm surprised no one else pointed out. Keep an eye on spelling, specifically in your case American spelling. You consistently spelled "rumors" as "rumours."

I like this one.

It takes an idea not really explored very much (the circumstances surrounding house Rogarvia) and puts them to question. The mystery there excites me as a GM as I can go from there wherever I like.

I think what's great about it is I can use them both as antagonists in a can and base an entire campaign around them with relative ease. I don't care for the name as it invokes the Bastards of Erebus from council of thieves who have a similar thing going in their leader.

This will likely get my vote.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 8 aka shiverscar

Thank you judges for the awesome feedback, and thanks to everyone else for your comments!

This was by far my favorite round 2 submission.
This is a group that I would (and probably will) use in my games.

Got my vote!

I feel the concept is simple enough that it could fit in any politics-heavy medieval environment. Game of Thrones is a very popular and relatively recent example of this, so I suppose comparisons are inevitable. I won't dock you for this.

I like that, for an evil organization, I have a chain of command to send PCs through. I have a lead villian with a mystery that I can direct (dragon blood or charlatan), and I have an interesting location for a final conflict should PCs want to confront these.. bastards.

I like the mystery element and the interesting ties to House Rogarvia. The chance to go kill some uppity nobles is something that every player can appreciate and the suggested threat of dragon-based vengeance on those who spite or fight them is an interesting twist.

This definitely has my vote. I'd say one of the best entries for round two.

Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Real good. My heart lies in another submission, but really good nonetheless.

I really like the name, it screams "Kicking ass, and taking names." You got my vote. Good luck :).

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka primemover003

Tons of ways to get the PCs locked onto this group as enemies. They could raze a vilage the PCs just saved, the PCs patron Noble is in a quarrel with another noble who employs the Red Bastards, or you could have a PC in the party that actually is a long lost scion of a noble house that the Bastards are looking to get their hooks into and thus they come into direct conflict with the party.

Excellent work. I will be voting for you this round!

--chip off the old Vrock

Liberty's Edge

Eye catching name, good tie in to some existing Golarion lore, good location, and I think these guys would make good antagonists. I’m a bit unsure why the king hasn’t sent his knights / army out against these guys yet ... but I guess that is what you hire adventurers for.

Definitely on my short list. If for no other reason than so that the PCs can shout, “You Bastards!” at them in every encounter.

Good luck Adam!

Liberty's Edge

Thomas LeBlanc wrote:
I have issues with tying into House Rogarvia. What little has been said about them claims the WHOLE family disappeared. Besides that, you have a good org.

The dude claims he is a (bastard) member of the family, who knows if the claim is true?

Dark Archive

When I first read this organization name I thought of "Bastardhall", and boy am I glad this didn't go there.

While I understand Mr. Dancey's reservations on hooking your organization's leader to a current ongoing mystery from the Pathfinder Campaign Setting, the fact that you wrote in the ambivalence doesn't change current canon enough to feel like you've stepped on the toes of Paizo's creative team (I cannot speak for them however, so they may feel differently about this).

Based on this submission and your item submission I am going to be voting for you in this round, and hope to see you in the next.

Best of luck to you, sir.

Shadow Lodge Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 9

Got my vote. It was simple, elegant, and perfect for inclusion into the next round.

Champion Voter Season 6

Interesting but reminds me of Telin the Red from Harn but on a larger scale with a few more nobles burning down villages.

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


As the GM for our weekly Kingmaker game, I really like "The Red Bastards" and might find myself utilizing them toward the end of the Kingmaker AP (or more specifically during one of the "Continuing the Campaign" plots that were given).

You've got my vote and good luck making it into Round 3 (I'd really like to see what sort of monster you provide).


If anything, you put this scene from Inglorious Basterds in my head.

That's a good thing, btw.

This organization, even in its simplicity and drawing from (a)historical iconography is easy for the average layman to understand the concept on how this can be used in a setting.

You may be able to claw into my eight votes I need to spend. :)

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

I'm with Ryan on this one. And I see no profit in killing of the folks who grow all the food. That may make them evil but stupid is the word I'd use.
If you have a "dragon" then go take a kingdom and let the little people live.

Scarab Sages

I voted for this one pretty much based off the name, but now that I've read it it sounds interesting.

Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Here's my tuppence for this round.

I've never written an organisation, so take as much or as little as you deem worthy of note.

My category of scoring this round will be:

Template fu: A small number of points (max 5) - my template fu isn’t so strong, and due to reviewing time constraints, I'm only likely to dock points for obvious errors here.

Adversarial Potential: (max 5) How they can get in the way of the PCs, cause them issues, direct conflicts, potential for becoming that campaign within the campaign.

Questions Arising: (max 10) Did I have any questions unanswered? This is the area where I will most likely gaff and occasionally make an incisive query.

Overall Impression: (max 5) This is an esoteric measurement that simply reflects how you have wow'd this reader taking into account any other observations not covered in the prior sections.


Template fu: 4/5

template fu winces at the name. I understand the term, but feel uncomfortable with the use in a product that does get into the hands of children. I understand the reasoning, I understand that some people dont find the term offensive, but as a father, it still doesnt sit quite right and for that the daddy feeds template fu a point.

Adversarial Potential: 5/5

Lots of potential here, some deposed noble making a power grab that affects PC contacts immediately springs to mind.

Questions Arising: 10/10

Nothing immediately sprang to mind, indicative of a very tightly designed organisation with a range of supporters and antagonists immediately obvious. Nice

Overall impression: 4/5

Again, the dad feeling docks a point, but that is purely a reactionary deduction and is a very personal thing. Sorry.


Final score: 23/25 - 92%

I really liked this entry and it got my vote. The only nitpick i have is (which is a nitpick, not real criticism) is that the Red Prince is a " charismatic, mysterious man". There are to many villians described as charismatic. To me it feels abit standard, and i don't get a real feel as for why he needs to be mysterious. It's a good choice since the GM using the group can make up his/her mind as to what the Red Prince is and why, but i just don't feel it. Although that's more a fault of mine.

Otherwise, two thumbs up!

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka DankeSean

This was one of the entries that got my vote, and more, it was one of the few that got my vote on a first read without the need for a week of re-examining it. I absolutely love the idea behind this- a bunch of illegitimate nobles' offshoots out to cause chaos, burn the existing social structure to the ground, and make their own power grab in the process. I think it's funny that this felt too Game of Thrones for some people because, well, that's Brevoy. It's a GoT-ish nation; pretty much anything you can build there should carry those overtones with it, because that means you've actually gotten the feel of the country down.
This is great; probably tied for my favorite entry this round. Best of luck moving forward.

Dark Archive

Very happy with your work shiverscar as always.

I'm very hapy of you making it this far and I will keep voting for you :)

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 8 aka shiverscar

Thank you everyone for your votes and comments! I've been checking in regularly and I appreciate all the feedback I've received.

If you've got any questions, I'm free to answer them now.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Steven T. Helt

I wonder how many mercenary companies with a slight twist we'll see this round? Like the Stormsworn, there's mostly good writing with very good connections to the world of Golarion. Of course, they could also be lifted out of Golarion and used in a home campaign, which makes them neat.

There is some passive voice ("are led by", "are disseminated", "are distrusted"), so watch that in future rounds. Use language that builds excitement instead of letting it rest.

Overall, a mercenary company needs to offer something really unique to stand out in a round that should feature a lot of original material.

Adam Donald wrote:

The Red Bastards

Alignment: CE
Headquarters: Bastard's Bastion in the Valley of Fire, Brevoy
Leader: The Red Prince
Structure: Military Hierachy
Scope: National


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 any snappy uniforms or other manner of dress.

Does membership of this organisation seem likely to involve regular tea or dinner parties or other appropriate social occasions?
They're nobles, so in theory that ought to ordinarily be quite promising, but basically they're running a protection racket, and probably don't have time for fine dining.

Is the cost of being a member of this organisation likely to be acceptable to a succubus?
Urgh. Taking orders from a human who claims to be a dragon reborn. I would advise any succubus to vet this pretender's claims very carefully before going anywhere near this organisation. If he isn't a dragon, then given the level of delusions it implies, he's not worth working for. (No mention appears to be made of pay, which I would have expected an army to feature, to attract those who don't have a personal axe to grind. Burning things down is all very well but Brevoy is such a backwater country, that mere fun is insufficient for the inconvenience of having to live there for most self-respecting succubi.)

Other comments?
I assume (although that may be expecting too much) that this man does have an espionage wing, right? There's not much point for a succubus to hang around, dragon reborn or not, if he doesn't. I mean they're basically a bunch of guerrilla fighters.

Organizations are not being rated except under special circumstances.

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