Backbreaker’s Hunt

Round 2: Create a new organization

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 8 aka artofcheatery

Backbreaker’s Hunt
Alignment: CE
Headquarters: Cheliax
Leader: Huntmaster Roc Backbreaker
Structure: Guerrilla warband
Scope: National
Resources: caches of supplies to last approximately one year of monthly hunts.
For every slave who does not mind their lot in life, one rebels against their misfortune and yearns for freedom. When they succeed, they join Backbreaker’s Hunt to get their revenge against their former owners. The Hunt conducts monthly raids, or as they call them ‘hunts’, freeing slaves and killing their former owners. Originally their leader’s quest for personal vengeance, it has turned into a twisted abolition plot that stains Cheliax with the blood of slaves.
Structure and Leadership
Roc Backbreaker founded and leads the Hunt. There is little about him known. Most assume he’s human, but some survivors have reported that he was half-orc or even halfling. Some think he may not exist at all or that he died early in the Hunt’s life. Whatever the case, he doesn’t believe in giving direct orders, feeling the Hunters received enough orders in their lives already. Whatever the Hunt does, Roc takes no responsibility, claiming they are the actions of free men. This doesn’t change that most of the Hunt follows his unspoken orders and remove the minority that does not.
Backbreaker’s Hunt has the lofty goal of abolishing slavery, even if that means killing every slave and owner. They believe that if they continue their monthly hunts, they will ‘break the back’ of the Chelish economy causing a massive uprising that will overthrow the House of Thrune. They recruit heavily from the slaves they free during hunts. If the slave doesn’t wish to join them, the Hunters break their spines in front of the others in order to intimidate the rest into service. The Hunt claims this is in order to ensure the safety of the Hunt. Ironically, this policy makes the Hunt the largest slaveholding operation in Cheliax.
Public Perception
Few are aware of Backbreaker’s Hunt outside Cheliax and the majority within Cheliax are slavers . The Chelaxians who are aware of them do not approve of the 'uppity slaves' nor do the slaves they plan to ‘save’. The Eagle Knights offered them support shortly after the Hunt’s founding but rescinded the offer do to the Hunt’s lack of mercy to those who do not share their values.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Welcome to RPG Superstar, Alexander. It's time to raise your game. The contest takes on an entirely different 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 talk a bit about what you did well here, as well as where I think you still need to demonstrate growth. So, let's get things going...

First up, I'm not really sure I get the name. Backbreaker's Hunt is kind of a bland title for an organization. It doesn't sound like it's describing a group of people at all. So, I really wish you'd chosen something different. Names are important, too. They're the first little bit of information anyone's going to process about something you've written. So, you want it to tantalize them enough to keep reading. A name like Backbreaker's Hunt comes across more like an event. I might read the ensuing text just to assess the novelty of why it's named so differently from every other organization. But, after that novelty wears off, I'll be left with a name that just doesn't really fit. And, after seeing the Backbreaker part is just a play on words with Roc Backbreaker and the "breaking of spines" to intimidate freed slaves into joining them, I'm just completely turned off by it.

Now, beyond that, I actually like the notion of a group of vengeful ex-slaves operating in Cheliax, striking back at their former owners and plaguing House Thrune with an internal problem to be addressed by their Hellknight orders. The idea is sound. And I can applaud you for that. But I'm not won over by the characterization as you've presented it here. The lack of leadership and disorganization among Backbreaker's Hunt makes me feel like House Thrune's jackbooted enforcers would have put down this guerilla band a long time ago. I also get no sense of what allows these ex-slaves to avoid such a fate. All you have listed as their headquarters is "Cheliax." Where in Cheliax are they able to hide, survive, and defend themselves to even make contact with the Eagle Knights of Andoran, much less elude their pursuers or any reprisals?

Additionally, I've also got some concerns with your presentation. Under the Public Perception paragraph, it looks like you left in an extra space in the very first statement before the period...which tells me you were editing, but didn't quite finish. You've also got a typo/grammar issue with " to the Hunt's lack of mercy..." which should be "...due to the Hunt's lack of mercy..." At this stage of the game, you really have to hone and polish your writing to stand out. You can't afford these problems when the comopetition is this stiff. That's because they compound the impression you're just not ready yet for this level of responsibility as a freelancer.

As such, I have to say I DO NOT RECOMMEND this organization to advance you to the next round.

The voters will ultimately decide your fate, however. And a lot of folks really enjoyed your dustings of darkness, so perhaps that'll help sway some voters to your cause. Best of luck in the exit polls.


I like the idea of a bloody resistance movement in Cheliax--given the country's oppression, there will be people seeking freedom from tyranny. And given the country's overall evil climate, that resistance is likely to be evil rather than good, as that environment isn't likely to create repel pockets of goodness--instead, it creates people who want to avenge the hurts inflicted against them.

I think you spent too much time building up a mystery about Roc Backbreaker and not enough on the actual structure of the organization--clearly it has a leader, but we don't know if he has lieutenants, or if they're just a mob that picks its own targets.

"Killing every slave and owner" is pretty brutal and counterintuitive--some slaves are treated well, and even the poorly-treated ones don't want to be murdered, so these guys haven't chosen the most effective method for their goals. But they are CE, so...

It's unclear what all these freed slaves do or where they live--clearly they're still in Cheliax and access the stored supplies, but do they all live as bandits? How do they evade Cheliax's military and the Hellknights.

This is definitely an antagonist organization--I can see folks in Cheliax hiring the PCs to stop these guys from murdering slaveowners, or folks in Taldor hiring the PCs to stop them from murdering slaves. But it's an organization that the PCs will meet and think, "yeah, their MO is ridiculous, we should hunt them all down and kill them because at best they're stealing slaves and at worst they're murderers of people legally owning slaves."

However, I think the Riders' methods and lack of subtlety mean they don't have much longevity as a campaign adversary, so I think this isn't one of the stronger R2 submissions.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Alexander, 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: NPC, not an organization

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): C
Not sure what happened here but you found your main NPC but it never grew into an organization.

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?): D
This just all feels tacked together. I don’t think you ever found the heart of this idea. I get the sense you likely had a different idea and at the last minute ditched it and then had almost no time and came up with this. It isn’t just half-baked, it is barely mixed in the bowl.

Tilt (did it grab me?, is it unique and cool?, do I like it?, flavor, are you showing Superstar mojo?): D
Sorry, man.

Overall: C-
Its not there. This may not even be a first draft.

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

I really liked your dustings and I know you have more in you than this. Sorry that for whatever reason you didn’t find your muse here. That is the nature of creativity, though. There are a very few who can do it all the time (Neil, Boomer, Jason, to name a few). Those lucky few, its like the tap is always on for them. I sure don’t have that. So I feel you. Perhaps the voters will see it differently. Good luck to you!

Idea is weak. Presentation is poor. Integration with the IP is nearly non-existent. Implication is that this guy would be taken out quickly (see "Brown, John" in wikipedia).

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.

How many slave owners are in Golarion? I really don't know, but it would seem that there are not enough to survive monthly huntings if the group were successful. That brings up to another issue. Once the group achieved any level of fame they would be hunted down. I doubt Cheliax would stand for this.

Status-No vote.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 8 aka artofcheatery

Thank you for your comments and please vote for my organization so that I may redeem myself in the next round. If you have questions, I'll be happy to answer them once voting for this round is closed.

Silver Crusade

Although abolishing slavery is cool and all... Um ruthless and needless killing? Not attractive at all. If they had at least had a thing where they freed them and killed the owners that would have been cool. But Golarion is mostly civilized, so guerrilla warfare is just bad taste.

Status: No vote. But I am totally buying some Dusting of Darkness when it comes out for sale in Ultimate Equipment.

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

Why is it monthly? Are they on a schedule? Does the leader have better things to do when he's not raiding? What do the slaves do in their off time?

I do like the irony in slave-owning former slaves, and I like Spartacus, who this is clearly based off of, but I'm not wild about this one.

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.

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

So they are an evil, ultraviolent version of the Bellflower Network? Good enemy to fight against.

Don't really care for this one. Mostly it's an npc write up. The idea is interesting but part of me feels like this could have been dealt with more artfully. What, I can't say.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Ah, I really liked your Dustings, and really looked forward for your submission this round. I do like the idea, it's not stretching the boundaries of imagination, but it's a solid ground for a working organization. I think your biggest mistep was in the structure and leadership section. You use a whole section describing a leader that may not even exist, and if he does, he doesn't actually lead at all. You have a cool Spartacus vibe going on in here, but seems that you didn't think this through. It's still possible that you have my vote for Dustings alone =). Good luck!

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 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 isnt so strong, and due to reviewing time constraints, I'm only likely to dock points for obvious errors here.

Adverserial Potential: (max 5) How they can get in the way of the PC's, 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 occasionaly 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 acccount any other observations not covered in the prior sections.


Template fu: 5/5

Nothing immediately obvious sprang out. Neil did spot some issues, but I didn't at first glance, so I'm not going to mark you down for things I didnt spot myself.

Adverserial Potential: 2/5

As a hero, I could see myself working with the escaping slaves, helping them establish a cohesive order, rising up against the establishment and the slave traders. I just couldnt see how, as a hero, I would fight against them, so I really struggeled to see the adversarial aspect with regards to being adversaries of the PC's.

The moral dilemma of supporting the law of the land over the right of the people to be free is so difficult, I think you set yourself a Herculean task with this one.

Questions Arising: 6/10

I still can't get passed how the PC's would come to be adversaries of this group, heros would want to help them. That being said, I would be able to use this organisation as a great launching pad for a "end the slavery" campaign, so your score is pulled up by the utility offered, and held down by failing to meet my expectation from the Round 2 requirements.

Overall impression: 2/5

I found this to be more a collective name applied to individual's escaping slavery and being hunted buy their former owners rather than a cohesive unit intent on bringing down slavery, it's more feeling than substance in my case. I could see what you were trying to do and unfortunately I then started making comparisons to early Dark Sun and the rising of the slaves. At that point, you were on to beating I'm afraid.


Final score: 15/25 - 60%

Dark Archive

"For every slave who does not mind their lot in life, one rebels against their misfortune and yearns for freedom"

So 50% of all slaves... on Golarian? Cheliax? I think that level of rebellion would be a major uprising, and in a place where slavery is ingrained into the culture it would be so disruptive to the day-to-day lives of the citizens that things would be changed back with abrupt and extreme force by Her Infernal Majestrix.

Ignoring that blanket statement, I can see where this is an antagonistic mob, but it doesn't feel like an "organization".

So you scored one point for making a clear antagonist, but the rest is all mushed around.

The above is only my opinion, and I also commented on your item which I think would be great to use with the "Dust Coven" from the Rival Guide. You may make the cut, depending on the rest of the contestant's entries.

Best of luck to you, sir.

Liberty's Edge

While I like the twist – an evil organisation opposed to Cheliax and dedicated to freeing slaves – nothing else about this entry really grabs me. I think there are problems with the presentation and with the concept as a whole (why have House Thrune and/or the Hellknights not crushed these guys yet?)

Good luck Alexander.

Alexander Bennett wrote:

Backbreaker’s Hunt

Alignment: CE
Headquarters: Cheliax
Leader: Huntmaster Roc Backbreaker
Structure: Guerrilla warband
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 such mode of dress. Disappointing.

Does membership of this organisation seem likely to involve regular tea or dinner parties or other appropriate social occasions?
Given it's described as a 'guerrilla warband', I feel it reasonable to assume such functions will not be frequent features as it's not otherwise stated.

Is the cost of being a member of this organisation likely to be acceptable to a succubus?
Since it's apparently composed of slaves or ex-slaves being bossed around by someone brutal, unlikely. At least if one is going to be bossed around by someone thuggish like that, there are plenty of powerful entities in the Abyss, whom it would be considerably less embarrassing to be grovelling before than a mortal.

Other comments?
Ah, this looks like a rival organisation for the Bellflower Network, except less subtle. Whilst initially well publicised, the Bellflower Network aren't so much these days, so it's not entirely your fault if you (and the Backbreakers) haven't heard of them. (Paizo detailed them in a book about factions, in your world, if you're interested...)

Organizations are not being rated except under special circumstances.

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…

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 8 aka artofcheatery

So that was a fun... uh 3 or 4+ weeks...

Let's just say that not moving forward in this competition was probably a good thing. I haven't had the time to look at anything here since I, well, was allowed to post feedback. I actually wrote my explanation of my thought process right after the judges comments were revealed... and yet I have only now had a chance to post it.

Well, let's just call this an epic fail. I'll go through some of my design process and try to hit points that the judges and commenters mentioned.

Here it is without me rereading it before posting (I don't like to dwell on failures, I mean who does?):

First off I'll point out my biggest mistake. I came up with an idea that I didn't particularly like, but submitted it anyway. If it wasn't my own submission I doubt I would have voted for it.

I had a mind blank with this round. I couldn't think of any decent idea. My preferred idea was to make something that most people would be for and make it something that adventurers would fight against. I was brainstormed and reading the Inner Sea Guide, but actually got the idea from reading the backstory for the Iconic Bard Lem.

If you don't know, Lem was the minstral for the noble house he was a slave in. One day he overhears the nobles talking about how they're going to sacrface a bunch of halfling slaves to a devil. Lem got all the halflings out of the house and then set it on fire. Much to Lem's annoyance, the halflings were upset that their 'home' was being destroyed. Lem promptly becomes an adventurer.

This was going along with another part of the book that said halflings took surprisingly well to slavery. So I thought what if one got so pissed off that he started to kill them all for being part of the problem. Thus the Halfling Hunt was born, run by Pete Huntmaster (cause his name is Pete and he was the Huntmaster). The org was going to be entirely angry evil halfling.

I roughed out the org and then started having second thoughts about villiaizing Halflings... people like halflings. I have friends that would slap me for doing this to halflings. I tried to come up with better ideas, but I was still overwhelmed from reading Inner Sea World Guide and nothing was coming up. I finally thought about pulling the halfing part out and making it open to all races, still adding that halflings were in it but lessening the blow from people I might piss off.

Backbreaker is apparently a synonym for slave (or so says and I liked the idea it could be their signature. Unlike Neil thought they just use it to intimitate slaves to join them, it's also how they either kill or mutilate their victims. Yes, it's somewhat revolting, but they're a small army of serial killers.

Now Pete had changed to Roc before I made him human. The new name was part of the reason for the change, Roc doesn't sound like a halfling name to me. I now had to change his surname into a title (before it was both) and added the name of the group to his name.

I did kind of go crazy with this one NPC that I don't even say much about. My actual thoughts with him is that he's dead and has been replaced with a demon, probably an incubus. The demon is using it's powers corrupt the freed slaves into fighting, while 'Roc' isn't usually there. He sends them into suicide missions all the time and shortly after the Hellknights declare them defeated they reappear on the other side of the country with a new band of freed slaves. Sure, the Hellknights try to figure out which one is the leader, but they're so brainwashed that it turns into a case of 'I am Spartacus(!)' The entire point is to screw with the Hellknights and the Chelish government.

But yeah, it's an NPC with a bunch of people forced to follow it (and maybe a handful of rotating willing followers)

And this concludes today's lesson on How Not to Win RPG Superstar! Come back next year for hopefully more positive lesson.

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