Things I've learned about game design by voting...


RPG Superstar™ General Discussion

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michaeljpatrick wrote:
I saw an item that was not a wondrous item but rather another type of item altogether. It was even in the name of the item - like say a "Wand of Yapping Dogs" (the item in question was not a wand, but I don't want to give any info away unnecessarily). Isn't that an auto DQ?

Was it weapon because I saw one such item on the first day of voting.

Liberty's Edge Star Voter Season 6

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After seeing the number of items from RPG Superstar that have been published in one form or another, I have to say that formatting is the last thing I check on my list. I look for items that I can see one of my character's using and doing amazing or troubling things. I run a fair number of PFS games as well as my patented AP Weekends. So I do a lot of thinking about how this will affect game play.

My real concern so far is that so many items don't seem to think through the visual effects of their items. If I walk into a random town with a robe made of dead orphans, a hat made of mutilated angel feathers, and wielding a sword that appears to all people to be formed a thousand tortured dragon souls...how in the 9 hells can one expect to have any meaningful RP with the world around him.

I've read through SKR's advice threads and don't know where it comments on things such as this. But to all people who do this in the future: please remember that most characters are "mostly" decent. Touched in the head to be sure, but decent. Magic items have an opportunity to bring more options, both mechanically and creatively, into a players hand. Make it zing! Make me want it! If it does, I don't care if its written in Sanskrit! I'll run it through Google translator and vote for it anyway.


Regarding item descriptions: Please dont tell me your item appears to be normal but on closer inspection is actually made out of Rice-A-Roni! It doesn't work that way...

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter Season 6

Oh god. The = signs.


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Flyer777 wrote:
My real concern so far is that so many items don't seem to think through the visual effects of their items. If I walk into a random town with a robe made of dead orphans, a hat made of mutilated angel feathers, and wielding a sword that appears to all people to be formed a thousand tortured dragon souls...how in the 9 hells can one expect to have any meaningful RP with the world around him.

I would give you fame for that. Have fun RPing as the guy who kills angels, dragons, and little orphans named Billy.


Having read the explanation of how the ballot tallying works, it doesn't matter if there's disagreement about which is more important, having a cool idea or following the format. The items that only have one will still end up below the ones with both, and above the ones with neither. So vote on! :)

Liberty's Edge Star Voter Season 6

shujan wrote:
I would give you fame for that. Have fun RPing as the guy who kills angels, dragons, and little orphans named Billy.

I believe that they already created a system for such folks. Its called Infamy.

Perhaps I was harsh. But it's hard to think of how much soul my characters/players would have to sell to acquire some of these items.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka GM_Solspiral

14) Its far easier to judge the work of others than your own

15) Its very humbling to see you own mistakes in another persons work

16) Start a thread about trying to learn something thru not just your own mistakes but others will quickly turn into a bash-fest on the less talented entrants

17) When in Rome... something something something

18) Joke items make me want to scream at the writer, why did you waste everyone's time.

Liberty's Edge Star Voter Season 6

Solspiral... I am suitably humbled. Thank you for your guiding enttish light on this most beautiful of contests and times of year.


Flyer777 wrote:
shujan wrote:
I would give you fame for that. Have fun RPing as the guy who kills angels, dragons, and little orphans named Billy.

I believe that they already created a system for such folks. Its called Infamy.

Perhaps I was harsh. But it's hard to think of how much soul my characters/players would have to sell to acquire some of these items.

It's not harsh at all. It just depends on the character being played. A character wearing that robe might gain fame in Hell and infamy everywhere else.

I agree with your point. The visual effect of an item is important and can absolutely affect game play.

Silver Crusade Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Obvious intellectual property theft is obvious and annoying.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

GM_Solspiral wrote:

14) Its far easier to judge the work of others than your own

15) Its very humbling to see you own mistakes in another persons work

16) Start a thread about trying to learn something thru not just your own mistakes but others will quickly turn into a bash-fest on the less talented entrants

17) When in Rome... something something something

18) Joke items make me want to scream at the writer, why did you waste everyone's time.

A nice bit of perspective - it is very easy to fire off a quick vent when you have passed 10 items who all ignore the most basic advice. But venting is rarely constructive and can dissuade the author from trying again.

Learning from mistakes - your own or others - is the best way to grow.

Shadow Lodge

To be honest, I could care less how kool your item looks or what briliant backstory/description it has if you can't follow some basic guidelines. A mistake with the format is one thing, but if you didn't even attempt to follow it, I'm not giving your submission a second glance as I hit the other guys/gals one up the ladder, period. I don't want to see your next attempt aggrivate me (and others), I don't want to see your adventure be all kool but not actually written for PF system, etc. . .

It's a balance, good creative idea that is mechanically sound and follows the rules and guidelines. One is not going to make up for the other, and personally I hope that people judged mine the same way.


I seen (multiple times as I had that particular item a few times) an instance where author honestly attempted to follow the formatting but was thwarted by failing to use "preview" button. I generally react positively to that particular item.

Shadow Lodge

That's what I mean, mistakes happen, and that's one thing. It's another to not follow the specific rules, like "bold this part", do not write in caps, or write in the proper person.


Is so hard to note if referred to ability is a feat or a spell if one does not want to bother with italicizing the entry?

I'd gladly took a rolled newspaper and hit the author on the head because without those error (and a few grammar errors) I would probably pick that item over the other. They were so close to each other in quality, however, that the other one won by a very thin margin...

Shadow Lodge

Note that the Rules do not state that you need to italicize.

Here:

Round 1: Design a Wondrous Item

Design a compelling wondrous item for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, using the Item Creation guidelines on page 548 of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook.

Entries must be submitted through the submission tool at paizo.com/rpgsuperstar beginning at 2 PM Pacific time on December 4, 2012, and must be received by 2 PM Pacific time on December 18, 2012.

Public voting on Round 1 wondrous items begins December 20, 2012 at 2 PM Pacific time and ends January 15, 2013 at 2 PM Pacific time.

Judges will announce the top 32 entries on January 22, 2013.

The entire submission, including the title, must not exceed 300 words. The submission form includes a Preview button to view what your submission will look like, and will give you a total word count for your submission.

PRESENTATION: Use the presentation for magic items found in the Wondrous Items section of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook (page 496). The subject line of the submission form should contain only the name of the item. The body of the form should include only the complete item text in the appropriate format (this means the item name will be included in the body as well). DO NOT INCLUDE ANY PERSONALLY IDENTIFYING INFORMATION SUCH AS NAME, AVATAR NAME, ADDRESS, PHONE NUMBER, AND SO ON IN THE SUBMISSION ITSELF. Your paizo.com account provides all of the information we need; repeating it in the submission may be grounds for disqualification.

For your convenience, the following text contains all the necessary message board formatting to make your submission comparable to those in the Core Rulebook. You may copy this text to help format your submission, but are not required to do so. Remember that improperly formatted entries may be disqualified. You should not use ALL CAPS for any part of your wondrous item submission. "ZZ" is a placeholder to indicate you should replace that text with appropriate information for your wondrous item.

[b]ItemName[ /b]
[b]Aura[ /b] ZZstrength ZZschool; [b]CL[ /b] ZZth
[b]Slot[ /b] ZZslot; [b]Price[ /b] ZZ gp; [b]Weight[ /b] ZZ lbs.
[b]Description[ /b]
ZZItemDescriptionParagraph
[b]Construction[ /b]
[b]Requirements[ /b] ZZfeats, ZZspells, ZZotherrequirements; [b]Cost[ /b] ZZ gp

NOTE: You must use the above format from the Core Rulebook, not the graphical magic item format used in Ultimate Equipment.

DISQUALIFICATION: Submissions may be disqualified for the following reasons:
•Submission is not a wondrous item.
•Submission is not anonymous.
•Submission exceeds 300 words.
•Submission does not conform to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
•Submission is copied from a previously published source.
•Submission uses rules, monsters, or copyrighted material from publishers other than Paizo.


Honestly, that's Paizo's fault, not the submitters.

I actually thought about that, and removed my [i]___[ /] for that reason.


Ok, my bad. I got used to italicizing spell names here on boards and in most of my digital gaming notes. SKR mentioned about italicizing spells when talking about proper formatting outside of Super Star a few times so I though that was added to Super Star rules.

Still, when referring to not widely known spell it would be good to write: "this item grants the benefit of Fey Friendship spell" instead of "this item grants the benefit of Fey Friendship". Otherwise how can the user know if he should look for Fey Freindship in spells or feats index? Or maybe class features?

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8 aka Jiggy

Similarly, I've seen lots of items italicizing feat names and even status conditions.

Shadow Lodge

No I got you. I'm the same way. I was just saying it wasn't actually part of the item submission rules, and I know some people are not PF-centric writers/judges.

A lot of the info I've gleaned about "breaking into the industry" (gaming and comics) is to stick to exaclt what the guidelines say. Not to deviat, even if you think you have the greatest idea since sliced bread, not to put in your own little house rule twist, and not to try to blend rules, because the companies are not looking for that. They are looking for how well you can stick to the restrictions they say and do well with them before they give you more freedom to expand and put your little touch to something (which is not at all the hard part that people think it is, it's the easy part). Keeping to a schedul, doing exactly what is needed (even if you don't know why or other factors), and being able to back up your mechanics is the hard part.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

I find that template misuse is by far the biggest trend I've seen. Specifically:
- a lack of commas in prices over 1,000 gp
- "slot --" (should be none, as the most recent eratta)
- spell names being capitalized, instead of italicized
- a lack of understanding that the item name goes in the body of the submission.

And, of course, a handful of items that don't use any BBcode at all, just straight up text.

Liberty's Edge Star Voter Season 6

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Aside from b!!&$ing about items that we didn't put days and weeks in designing, I think that I may have found one profoundly good rule of development that I hadn't thought of for a long time.

"If you are pondering if/how people are going to understand your message, do not write an additional paragraph describing it in a different way. Go back to your original headline/description/disclaimer and write what you want to say in as few words as possible."

When I was writing my item, I would take my draft to a different friend every time. If the questions they asked me was something that should be clear the first time, I rewrote it.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka GM_Solspiral

Flyer777 wrote:

"If you are pondering if/how people are going to understand your message, do not write an additional paragraph describing it in a different way. Go back to your original headline/description/disclaimer and write what you want to say in as few words as possible."

When I was writing my item, I would take my draft to a different friend every time. If the questions they asked me was something that should be clear the first time, I rewrote it.

Top Score! Great take away, seriously I hope you make top 32 based on that statement alone.


Neil Spicer wrote:
Xaaon of Korvosa wrote:
Except you only have to see the horrible item once...not 3 or 4 times...
cwslyclgh wrote:
Indeed, the judges who can simply crap-can a poor item and never have to look at it again have it easy :P

However, it should also be pointed out that you guys haven't had to see the sanity-robbing items that immediately got DQ'ed for rules violations. Some of those are easily up there with the pain of having to review a mere "bad" item 3 or 4 times. Like, way up the insanity scale...

No, really. O_o

I bet!!!

I can only imagine...*ARRRGH* quick lemme see Cthulhu, I need to cleanse my brain...

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

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

Interestingly, I didn't spot the most obvious rule to learn...

Read the rules
Read them again
All of them

:D

Dedicated Voter Season 6

I think the biggest thing I've learned (though it's something I've long suspected) is that the best items are ones that I look at and I think "Wow...I can see using this as a player. I can see using this as a DM. I can see how this could fit into a setting I might design..." ...Items that immediately fire up my creative engines and get me thinking of a myriad of things I can do with it. (And these items generally don't bother trying to point out that they can be used for everything in the copy...I can infer it.)

I think that's part of why I get a little sad whenever people gripe about how items that do something other than combat/grant nifty mechanics based abilities (such as camping/travel items or items that do cool things, but that are mostly RP value) are boring. Literally every single item that has WOWED me so far in judging has been something that has had at least some obvious roleplay and/or practical everyday application outside of combat or boosting/granting abilities.

One last note, I will also say that I've learned that there are always new ideas. Even with something like Pathfinder that draws on gaming tropes from way back to the first addition of DnD. I always get worried because there seems to be "no such thing as an original idea" but someone keeps coming along and proving me wrong.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka GM_Solspiral

I've already mugged 2 great items out with copy paste because they fit my campaign exceedingly well. But then again I'm in the 7-800 votes range... maybe another 5-6 I would allow/could use...

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

agirlnamedbob wrote:

I think the biggest thing I've learned (though it's something I've long suspected) is that the best items are ones that I look at and I think "Wow...I can see using this as a player. I can see using this as a DM. I can see how this could fit into a setting I might design..." ...Items that immediately fire up my creative engines and get me thinking of a myriad of things I can do with it. (And these items generally don't bother trying to point out that they can be used for everything in the copy...I can infer it.)

I think that's part of why I get a little sad whenever people gripe about how items that do something other than combat/grant nifty mechanics based abilities (such as camping/travel items or items that do cool things, but that are mostly RP value) are boring. Literally every single item that has WOWED me so far in judging has been something that has had at least some obvious roleplay and/or practical everyday application outside of combat or boosting/granting abilities.

One last note, I will also say that I've learned that there are always new ideas. Even with something like Pathfinder that draws on gaming tropes from way back to the first addition of DnD. I always get worried because there seems to be "no such thing as an original idea" but someone keeps coming along and proving me wrong.

I just saw my first "Wow!" item. It honestly was amazing and all I will say about it besides that is that it was an item that had very little practical use for an adventurer, however the flavor, and excellency of its creation was truly great.

I would be very surprised if this item was not in the top 32.

Dedicated Voter Season 6

Isn't it a great feeling? Seeing that one "WOW" item is worth all the ones that were seriously unimpressive. It's nice to have those moments where you can be like "Yes. This. I want this. Can I get two? Seriously, take all of my votes, oh item of awesomeness."

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

agirlnamedbob wrote:
Isn't it a great feeling? Seeing that one "WOW" item is worth all the ones that were seriously unimpressive. It's nice to have those moments where you can be like "Yes. This. I want this. Can I get two? Seriously, take all of my votes, oh item of awesomeness."

*nod*

Yep, and like an early Christmas gift I saw my own item for the first time just now as well.

I am seriously ecstatic.

*Happy Dance*

Liberty's Edge Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

A few things I've not so much learned as had confirmed: a great number of people cannot adequately proofread or edit their own work; having a good idea doesn't make one a good writer; and apparently many gamers erroneously believe an item that was "really kewl" in their home will be equally well received by the public at large.

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

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Now that I am slightly more calm, I do have one thing that this contest has made extremely clear to me.

Elegance is king.

A smooth execution is worth more than anything else I have seen.

All of the items I have found myself enjoying share that sense of elegance and smoothness, regardless of word count or abilities.

It has definitively been made clear to me that an item with lots of shiny *Bling, Zap, Zots* abilities is less preferable than an item with a simple and elegant set of abilities that all mesh well, or even a single smooth ability.

Also any item that is "Kewl" but makes more work for the GM or others at the table is very unlikely to get my vote simply because table slow down is generally not conductive to a fun gaming experience in my opinion.

Not in any way trying to disparage anyone, or claim any of this myself, these are simply my observations from voting.


I mentioned it in another thread, but one of the best ways to self-edit is to read your work aloud. If it sounds bad out loud, then there's something there to be fixed.

I can readily pick out submissions from people coming at English as a second language. And then there are the ones that just don't proofread their work.

RPG Superstar 2014 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7 aka Belladonna Blue

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Hmm, something else I'm picking up as I vote: sometimes enough is enough.

I came across an item with an interesting name and that does what it suggests in a mechanically interesting way, but then another three powers got added on, and it felt like the item's signature got lost.

I still voted for it, but I think I would have flagged it as "look for this in top 32" if it had just kept it simple. More powers doesn't mean better, sometimes it just makes the cool thing you had get lost in the shuffle.

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

Belladonna Blue wrote:

Hmm, something else I'm picking up as I vote: sometimes enough is enough.

I came across an item with an interesting name and that does what it suggests in a mechanically interesting way, but then another three powers got added on, and it felt like the item's signature got lost.

I still voted for it, but I think I would have flagged it as "look for this in top 32" if it had just kept it simple. More powers doesn't mean better, sometimes it just makes the cool thing you had get lost in the shuffle.

Yes. I completely agree with what you have stated and have seen several items like this.

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

1) The shorter submissions are often better just because the writer didn't dig themselves a hole of "ZOMG! This item is prized by, coveted by, sought after by [insert class/ race/archetype] and it seems like a normal [ blank] but its true power is shown when...."

2) I'll vote for a submission with format or editing problems over items that obviously break or ignore the 27 guidelines. But only because creativity trumps technical expertise (by a smidge) and/or inability to read and absorb the guidelines.

3) I will not vote for any item, regardless of technical prowess, if it is an obvious Flaming/Acid Munchkin Artifact of Assassinly Might, Lethality and Shadows.There are a lot I put in this category and I will generally vote for anything over one of those Artifacts, because that is what they are and they really, really annoy me for reasons I am not ready to explore at this juncture.

DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:


Defining an item's limitations is fine. Putting a harsh penalty for using the item is not fun design. You want people to wear an item. Don't punish them for doing so.
But what if it's prized by masochists?
They already get their fix by participating in the voting process ;-)

But Dude, I think you may have won the thread for me with that.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Aeris Fallstar wrote:
1) The shorter submissions are often better just because the writer didn't dig themselves a hole of "ZOMG! This item is prized by, coveted by, sought after by [insert class/ race/archetype] and it seems like a normal [ blank] but its true power is shown when...."

I agree. Also I have found long submissions are more likely to be long because of numerous abilities added in (SAK) or because they do something so crazy that they need all of the word count to explain all the possible rule exceptions.

I feel a really good wondrous item should be concise and easy to understand because it breaks with the norm in an elegant but small way. Some of the items I'm seeing are really over the top and I find it hard to imagine ever seeing them in print.

Dedicated Voter Season 6

I think what's become painfully clear to me, in terms of word count, is that there's a fine line to walk between "too much" and "just enough."

I've seen some entries that are long (say 250-300 words) that didn't FEEL like they were that long.

I've seen others that were considerably less, but it felt like I had to do a lot more reading.

So I guess it does go both ways.

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

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I don't know if this was an intended side-effect of the new public voting shtick or not, but next year, the competition is going to be really tough.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

That's good! The better the competition is, the better our gaming community is. :D

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

Belladonna Blue wrote:

Hmm, something else I'm picking up as I vote: sometimes enough is enough.

I came across an item with an interesting name and that does what it suggests in a mechanically interesting way, but then another three powers got added on, and it felt like the item's signature got lost.

I still voted for it, but I think I would have flagged it as "look for this in top 32" if it had just kept it simple. More powers doesn't mean better, sometimes it just makes the cool thing you had get lost in the shuffle.

Thanks for your vote!

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

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What I have learned
A: Glad I trimmed some descriptive fluff trying to make room for Item history fluff.
B: Gad I never put the item history fluff in.

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