Impact Site

Round 3: Design an encounter

Lantern Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

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Impact Site

The city of Karcau, located in the wilderness of Sinaria in Ustalav, is seen by its people as a beacon of light in otherwise dark land. Not far from Karcau, across lake Prophyria, lies the barbarian kingdom of Numeria. Millennia ago the night's sky was lit by a celestial event known as Starfall, an event that resulted in a damaged starship from beyond Golarion's solar system crashing amidst the Kellid tribes, forming what is now known as the Silver Mount.

Not all of the starship crashed down to Golarion that day; fragments of the vessel drift within the lightless reaches of the dark tapestry, suspended in orbit. During the capital ship's final moments before entering Golarion's atmosphere, the vessel ploughed through a field of meteorites just beyond the moon. These metorites were in fact the dormant cocoons of a deadly race of creatures called akata. Punching through the hull of the ship, these cocoons hatched, unleashing the akata on the vessel as its inhabitants rushed towards escape pods. A human crewman along with his android companions entered their escape pods, unaware that some of the android soldiers carried an infestation brought on by the akata's bite.

When automatic systems jettisoned the pod clusters, warning beacons activated in the hopes of rescue that—ultimately—never came. All of the occupants died in their sleep when reserve power was depleted and life support systems shut down. These unfortunate souls succumbed to the "void death" of an akata's bite and reanimated as void zombies. The sole human occupant unexpectedly awoke from his hypersleep when the systems began to fail. Trapped in the suffocating darkness and weightlessness of the void, the terror and isolation experienced at the time of his death denied his soul rest and passage to the afterlife, transforming him into a hateful, undead creature called an immured. These lost souls remained trapped in the dark tapestry for millennia, until their orbit finally decayed...

Remnants of a Fallen Star CR 6

The sedate atmosphere of a drizzling rainstorm over Karcau is shattered by the sudden appearance of a streak of light in the sky, trailing fire and smoke. This falling star smashes through the bell tower of the nearby cathedral of Pharasma with a shower of debris. A moment later the ball of fire strikes the ground just a block away, sending out a thunderous shockwave on impact that shatters windows and throws people off their feet. Screams of panic and confusion fill the air, and a column of smoke billows skyward.

Shouts from across the city indicate alarm, though no immediate presence of city watch can be seen. The impact site is a block away from the PCs. When they arrive only a handful of people are moving towards the impact site, while the majority flee from the direction of the smoke.

The first view of the impact site is little more than a glowing orange blot within clouds of fog and smoke. Closing in on the scene, a devastated manor house behind a high iron fence comes into view. Dazed citizens caked with dust and blood stand around the building, while others sit on the ground in shock. A woman covered in cuts and scrapes emerges from the demolished front entrance, turning to look back at the structure while calling out in panic, "Marcam! Marcam!"

The woman exiting the manor is Taletha Aubran (noble scion, GameMastery Guide 288), the manor's matron. Her panicked cries are for her husband who still resides within the building. If the PCs approach Taletha, she pleads with them go to into the building and rescue him.

Taletha is unable to think clearly due to trauma (she is currently at 2 hp) and responds to any questions with panicked pleas for the PCs to rescue her husband. PCs who succeed on a DC 15 Diplomacy check can calm Taletha down enough to ask her questions. If she is healed by one of the PCs grant them an additional +2 bonus on their check. Once calmed, Taletha explains that her servants and husband Marcam are still somewhere inside. She believes Marcan is in the library at the manor's center. His bodyguard, an elven warrior named Annunael may be with him there.

The Manor

Much of the single-story manor is destroyed and flames spread from the center of the structure where the bulk of the wreckage landed. Area A1 is the library and area A2 is the basement. The stasis pods in the basement remain sealed, while the ones located upstairs (except for the immured's) have been broken open. Stasis pod doors have a hardness of 5, 20 hp, and a break DC of 25. PCs may unlock the stasis pods with a successful DC 30 Disable Device check.

When the PCs enter Area A1 read aloud or paraphrase the following:

This ruined library is littered with scorched and rain-soaked books amid splinters of wood and broken glass. Rain pours in from the hole in the ceiling, its pitter-patter on the ground mixing with the crackling pop of burning wreckage. Smoke is still churning from a partly concealed mass of twisted metal and glass that smashed all the way through to the basement. A strange, glass-lidded sarcophagus rests against one of the burning walls.

If the PCs enter Area A2, read aloud or paraphrase the following:

The basement is filled with choking, black smoke and littered with debris from the house above. Dominating the demolished space is an enormous, metallic structure wreathed in roaring flames, containing a row of glass-windowed capsules large enough to contain a single person.

Creatures: Marcam (squire NPC Codex 251) and Annunael (skilled sniper NPC Codex 145) are pinned under a beam in Area A1 at the X on the map and cannot move. Lifting the beam requires a Strength check (DC 15). Marcam is at 5 hp and Annunael is stabilized at -4, neither have weapons. The void zombies remain idle unless the PCs get within 15 feet, attack them, or otherwise make loud noise. Freeing Marcam and Annunael generates enough noise to attract attention, as does triggering the collapsing floor trap. The immured remains within his stasis pod until later in the encounter.

Android Void Zombie CR 1/2* (8)
XP 200 each
Android void zombie (Bestiary 289, Bestiary 2 23, Inner Sea Bestiary 3)
NE Medium undead (android)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +0
---- DEFENSE ----
AC 16, touch 12, flat-footed 12 (+2 natural, +2 Dex)
hp 6* (2d8+3)
Fort +0, Ref +4, Will +3
Defensive Abilities constructed; Immune undead traits
---- OFFENSE ----
Speed 40 ft.
Melee 2 slams +4 (1d6+4)
Special Attacks nanite surge, blood drain, quick strikes
---- STATISTICS ----
Str 17, Dex 15, Con —, Int —, Wis 10, Cha 6
Base Atk +1; CMB +4; CMD 16
Feats ToughnessB
Quick Strikes (Ex): Whenever a void zombie takes a full-attack action, it can make one additional slam attack at its highest base attack bonus.
Blood Drain (Ex): If a void zombie hits a living creature with its tongue attack, it drains blood, dealing 2 points of Strength damage before the tongue detaches.
Nanite Surge (Ex): An android void zombie's body is infused with nanites. Once per day as an immediate action, an android can cause his nanites to surge, granting a bonus equal to 3 + the android's character level on any one d20 roll; this ability must be activated before the roll is made. When an android uses this power, his circuitry-tattoos glow with light equivalent to that of a torch in illumination for 1 round.
* CR lowered to 1/2 from reduced hp due to being injured in the crash.

Immured CR 3
XP 800
hp 26 (R2)
Tactics: The immured attacks the nearest living creature relentlessly and attempts to drag them back into its capsule.

Development: If Annunael is healed he guides Marcam out of the house. Both fight defensively if armed; their goal, retreat. After one of the void zombies is slain, the remaining four in area A2 break free and enter combat via the stairs to the basement and the immured contained in the stasis pod in area A1 joins the encounter using its breach ability. After 5 rounds of combat a member of the Karcau city watch (guard GameMastery Guide 260) enters the manor from the street to lend aid.

Hazard: Area A2 and any squares adjacent to the hole in the floor in area A1 are filled with smoke and PCs entering this area suffer from smoke effects. PCs entering burning squares risk catching on fire. (Core Rulebook 444).

Traps: The squares around the hole to the basement in area A1 act as collapsing floor traps. Once one is triggered the entire marked area collapses.

Collapsing Floor CR 1/2
XP 400
Type mechanical; Perception DC 15; Disable Device DC 15
---- EFFECTS ----
Trigger location; Reset none

Effect 10-foot fall into basement (1d6); multiple targets; DC 15 Reflex save avoids.

Liberty's Edge Digital Products Assistant

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Hi! I’m Crystal and I’m one of your judges this round. I’ll be looking at your encounter not just as a GM and writer, but also as a professional cartographer, to see how much fun it would be to run and if the map helps or hinders the experience. For a little background, I’ve been writing for RPGs since the late 90’s, and am the author of The Harrowing and Pathfinder Adventure Path #80: Empty Graves, and I try to apply the standards of pitch, challenge, fun, and map design to my own writing just as I’m applying them here.

Criteria Details:

Is the idea clear, evocation, and easy to sit down and run without a lot of extra prep time. If it needs extra prep time, is it worth it? This also includes whether or not the formatting adheres to Paizo’s standards.

Is the challenge level-appropriate? Does the presumed challenge players face match up with the numerical CR? If not, is there a good reason why not?

Is the encounter going to be memorable, or is this just a speed bump on the way to the treasure room?

Map Design
The map doesn’t need to be vitally important to an encounter, but it should never, ever ruin an encounter. And if the map or environmental elements can add to the flavor of an encounter, or give players more options, all the better.

You can really benefit an encounter by playing with its flavor text. In this case, instead of “zombies are bursting from coffins,” it’s “space zombies are bursting from space coffins.” It adds a bit of wonder that I really appreciate.

Challenge will be where this encounter falls apart. Mechanically it all adds up, but the void zombies are so spread out that PCs have a good chance of only encountering one at a time, void zombies aren’t much of a challenge for level 3 PCs, and half your zombies are trapped in stasis pods they aren’t strong enough to escape, forcing GMs to track individual pod hit points each round. Even if the zombies in the basement do escape their pods, the single stairwell is a natural choke point. The only real threat is the immured, and the tactics and environment listed don’t play to its strengths.

In addition to fighting monsters, you need to focus on rescuing and healing civilians trapped in the mess, which adds some extra options to a “go in the room and fight these monsters” encounter. That along with the added flavor makes this an enjoyable encounter.

Map Design
The map layout is good; the encounter space is varied and composed of multiple spaces, and given Marcam’s position, it’s likely at least one PC will fall into the basement. It’s not really a half-page map, though, and the key and compass rose take up a lot of space; they could be eliminated to do something more interesting with the basement.

I think this encounter is a good concept with poor execution, but with the tactics and monster details tightened up it could be very solid. I do recommend this encounter for advancement.


Good looking map reference, easy to work with to produce a finished map for final production. Seems a bit large for the space, but everything seems clear.

I do recommend this encounter for advancement.

Paizo Employee Developer , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

Hey Robert, congratulations on making it to the top 16.

I am the developer of Pathfinder Society Organized Play, which means I see lots of short adventures and self-contained encounters over the course of a year. It’s a developer’s job to read through, revise, and fact-check pretty much everything, so it’s tough to boil down what I’m looking for into a couple of clever headers. Essentially, I’m approaching this round like I would a scenario turnover, which involves marking up a copy of your encounter and providing feedback on what you did and how you might improve—my teaching experience in action.

My Style:
Since tone is a little hard to express while in this medium, I encourage you to read my comments in a friendly way; it’s how I intend them. As I warn many freelancers, I ask the question “why” a lot. Sometimes I do this because I am legitimately confused. Sometimes I do this to get the freelancer thinking in a certain way. Sometimes I know what the answer is, but I want to illustrate that there’s not enough information for the GM to understand what’s going on.

That said, this is a tough round, for we’re going from 16 to four contestants.

My Criteria:

Setting: Does your encounter fit in Golarion? Is it an urban encounter? Is the CR appropriate for the setting and the encounter? Is it clear how a GM might use this encounter?
NPCs and Creatures: How well did you incorporate the Round 2 creature into your encounter? Does it feel like a natural fit, or was it forced? Does the creature have a chance to shine? Do your NPCs fit in the location? Do their motives make sense? Is there an opportunity for roleplaying (appreciated but not essential)?
Numbers: Are all of your statistics and calculations correct? Are your skill check DCs reasonable?
Style: Did you watch Paizo’s styles, both in terms of writing and formatting? The more closely a writer can match Paizo’s styles in the turnover, the easier it is for me to develop. The easier it is for me to develop, the more eagerly I assign that author more work.

By lobbing a stasis pod through a church tower and into a manor house, I must say that you’ve succeeded at drawing the PCs’ attention. Although I don’t believe we have ever established the exact flight path that the Numeria starship took when it crashed, Ustalav is a great region for some of the fragments of the falling ship to land. When I realized that the fragments were only just about to fall, I became confused, as the location makes less sense if it didn’t coincide with the primary crash.

Keep in mind that the Dark Tapestry is beyond the solar system, whereas your description makes it sound like the escape pods have been in low-Golarion orbit. It’s strange to think that these pods all had their orbits decay at exactly the same time in exactly the same orbit pattern that they all crashed within 100 feet of one another. If these pods were fired off in clusters that stuck together, it might explain why they stuck together until reentry burned up whatever glue kept them together.

I re-read the part about the akatas crashing into the starship, and it’s not entirely clear from the description whether the akata incident was the cause of the ship’s crash or just a coincidental disaster against a backdrop of other catastrophes that might cause a spaceship to crash. I like that you’re weaving in some past world events into your background, but I would be cautious when inventing new canon—especially about Numeria. When a freelancer slips in canon, there’s a chance the developer doesn’t catch it. It then becomes real canon and might restrict what we can do with the event, site, or character in the future.

The encounter’s setup is clean, and as a GM I have no questions about how to hook my PCs into the encounter.

NPCs and Creatures
There’s lots of cinematic flair that I enjoy, including a burning building, collapsing floors, and strange things from outer space. Be careful with those trap and hazard areas, though; while the map looks really good, all of those diagonal fissures, burning walls (but not burning floors), and the like make it unclear as to exactly which squares trigger what. Scattering the encounter’s creatures throughout the area and over two levels means this encounter can be very “swingy,” which is to say it will either be easy (the PCs pick off one or two foes at a time) or hard (the PCs are separated and all mobbed by different groups). Swingy encounters are difficult to develop because each group will experience it in a different way, and the CR can difficult to calculate properly.

Now let’s talk about the creatures. You use the immured well, giving it both a solid reason for why exists as well as a comfortable little crevice to hide in. The android void zombies give me very mixed feelings. On one hand, they’re zombie robots, which makes my inner geek give a big thumbs-up. On the other hand, the concept doesn’t work mechanically. Androids are specifically called out as being immune to disease. Akatas’ void death affliction is a disease. Without some critical context explaining why these androids were vulnerable or these akatas instead salivated hostile nanites able to infect constructs, I cannot in good faith accept this premise. I could add this text during development, but I’d rather not be backed into that situation.

How do the void zombies in the capsules get out? The ones with broken capsules have no trouble doing so, but is there a release inside so that those other four can join in the combat? If not, are they just waiting for the PCs to open the capsules? The zombies do not have enough Strength to break free on their own, and breaking out by dealing damage would take about four rounds. That would adjust your encounter’s CR considerably. Speaking of late arrivals, I appreciate your including the arrival of a guard partway into the encounter; it’s nice to know that the PCs aren’t the only people responding to this crisis.

An amusing observation: akatas and immured would get along great. One hates sound, and the other one is deaf.

The android void zombies’ stat block has numerous errors. Your armor class calculations do not add up; the AC should be 14. Where is the void zombies’ tongue attack? Why is the Charisma score 6 (fast zombies have Cha 10)? The Reflex save bonus appears to be 2 higher than it should be; where’s that coming from?

Most of your formatting is good. Remember to put those parentheses around the “CR 6” in your area’s header. Also, when listing a creature’s current hit points in a stat block, include that as a parenthetical note next to the normal maximum hit points. I appreciate your note about the lower CR due to hit point loss; that sort of design note helps your developer understand the reasons behind your choices.

I have some grammatical nitpicks, including some passive voice (“…no immediate presence of city watch can be seen.”), semicolon use (“Both fight defensively if armed; their goal, retreat.”), and dangling modifiers (“Closing in on the scene, a devastated manor house behind a high iron fence comes into view.”). Also, double-check the spelling of your proper nouns, as I ran into both “Marcam” and “Marcan.”

Closing Thoughts
You have a very cool concept that has some patchable holes in its premise. The encounter is swingy and scattered, which might translate to the game table in weird ways, which makes me a bit uneasy as a developer. An oversight in stacking a template on a creature could lead to some development headaches.

I do not recommend this encounter for advancement.

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Gets my Gonzo originality vote!

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

First off, cool map.

Some sci-fi love.

And another immured. I knew it would be popular.

I'm not particularly fond that the PC's just happen to be a block away.

Rescue trapped NPCs. I can go with it. Not flashy but good.

Collapsing floors and choking from smoke. I feel like there should have been real danger that the NPCs could be crushed.

Overall, it is a cool concept because Numeria...but I feel like you didn't flesh it out or take it much beyond that point. Everything is simple and while that is good in some respects there's also not a lot to this in terms of...flavor isn't the right word but it is almost like you are relying on the fact that there are stasis pods and sci-fi to make this interesting. I just can't get behind this 100% as is. I will not be sad if you progress but as of right now it doesn't get my vote.

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

Zombie androids definitely earns a vote from me.

I like this one i'm mostly interested in stuff that inspires me for my own game and this is very much that.

The Exchange Marathon Voter Season 6

The thing I like about this encounter is that it feels "cinematic" some of the others manage to do that as well, but this one feels like it could be out of a movie. I think that there are a few errors, but this one *feels* superstar in quality. It would be something players would have a lot of fun with. I could see them dodging falling beams on fire and pushing their way through smoke as they are assailed by zombies whose putrefied remains show exposed gears and wires. Major cool points... you got my vote!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Mark D Griffin

I love that you swung for the fences, this was certainly original. But I have to agree with John on this one.

With Iron Gods coming out soonish, I imagine we may find out exactly what happened with the silver mount. It probably doesn't involve Akatas, so I think you went too far by introducing your own cannon here. Also you don't seem to have a good grasp on what the dark tapestry is, despite several references to it. Lastly, the fact that androids cannot actually become void zombies invalidates some of the cool factor (not to mention stat block errors).

I like the concept a lot, but I don't think I can vote for it.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

I like a lot of this encounter. Maybe I'm overthinking things, but there's just a few flaws. For instance, the fact that this happens just outside of Numeria is weird - especially if the pods have been in orbit for so long - they could be anywhere.

Also, Akatas actually need to breathe. I can accept them surviving on an asteroid, but when half your encounter is called upon that one of the crew suffocated, I noticed the flaw there. Technically void zombies are undead. However, also technically, they're the larval form of a creature that needs to breathe.

I also would have liked to see a little more scope to the setup than this being an apparently random encounter.

Overthinking done: I enjoyed this a lot and you're a good candidate for getting my vote.

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

RonarsCorruption wrote:
Also, Akatas actually need to breathe. I can accept them surviving on an asteroid, but when half your encounter is called upon that one of the crew suffocated, I noticed the flaw there. Technically void zombies are undead. However, also technically, they're the larval form of a creature that needs to breathe.

They have the "No Breath" ability (in Defensive Abilities), which says that they do not need to breathe.

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

The Good: map and name make a really good 1st impression.
The Bad: ack there's sci-fi in my fantasy soup!
The Ugly: Stat block errors at this stage are hard for me to give a pass on.
Overall: 8/10 This is really good but not likely to get my vote based on the other stuff I've seen. When you mix sci-fi and fantasy it has to be executed really well and the writing just doesn't bridge the gap enough for me.

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

Well done Robert,
Is the encounter fun? interesting take on the immured I like it. Not so much on the android zombies, but enough tactics here it should be a good random encounter. I might add a timer but multiple layers and entries will be make this fun to run.
Is the encounter difficult to interpret? I couldn't tell where the trapped floor was (I confused the blue flooring from the legend with all the blue flooring). Does the smoke in A1 affect trap perception? is already accounted for?
Does the monster fit? Nicely, and the zombies make sense as well, but it is a random encounter.
This way to Dragathoa (I like to see beyond the encounter :) Not much, the part I want to see based on this is an area behind the moon...

Beautiful map. Nice work, overall. Good luck!

Lantern Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Thank you all for the comments and critique! I hope that I can inspire some of your votes and hope to show you what I have to offer in the next round. :)

Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Disclaimer: I've been playing with Robert in a play-by-post for the past few months. Consequently, I am biased toward Robert's entry.

First Impression: From the title, I'm guessing a tie-in to Distant Worlds or the Dark Tapestry. Beautiful map! OMG, it's zomies from SPACE!!! I like the tie-in to Numeria (and the upcomming Iron Gods AP).
Upon Reflection So, it's a rescue mission in a bombed mansion-- the bombs came from orbit and there are SPACE ZOMBIES! One question: What caused a bunch of free-floating escape pods to all enter Golarion's atmosphere at once, and why were they all orbiting Golarion together? One additional sentence in the background text could have cleared that up. Also: the Dark Tapestry refers to interstellar space, while these escape pods appear to have been in low Golarion orbit. I'm not sure how the void zombies get out of their space pods: you should probably include a line that says something like "the pods open automatically five minutes after landing" or something like that. That said, the encounter itself seems pretty solid. I do question whether the PCs would encounter more than one void zombie and/or the immured in a particular fight. Were I designing this encounter, I would have had a single escape ship with all of the baddies aboard, some of which have already left the ship.
Overall: This is a very strong entry, with a few niggling questions in the story. I agree with John that the nature of this encounter could swing wildly from laughably easy to a TPK, depending on how the PCs approach it and the GM's whim. I'm giving it an A-.

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

Hi Robert! This is certainly one of the most memorable encounters of the round. It's got a creepy Alien vibe and a great set-up. It's one that I think players would talk about for a while. I agree with the comments by John and Haladir about the potentially swingy nature of the encounter. Additionally, especially with an urban encounter, I'd like to see a bit more space carved out for interaction and a chance for PCs to get to know the story. Very nicely done!

Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

After reviewing all of the Round 3 submissions, I have cast one of my votes for Impact Site.

Good luck, Robert!

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka JoelF847

You made a huge gamble mixing in sci-fi Numeria stuff in your encounter. Overall, it works and I like that kind of blending of genres. However, the mechanical issues others have raised are red flags.

I think you ran into trouble by overdoing it. The entire set up of crashing stasis sci-fi pods into the middle of a city creating a rescue scene is great, as well as the immured and zombies. Making them androids is not really needed, however. If you had made them humans, then all of your mechanical issues would have gone away, and you'd have had more word count to flesh out other parts of the encounter instead of making a brand new stat block. It might not have had the "cool - robot zombies!" factor, but there's enough over the top cool elements in the encounter without that.

I'm on the fence on voting for this one. But I only have 3 more entries to read and have an open vote, so there's a good chance I will give you my vote.

Spaceships and Zombies and Androids, oh my! To be honest, I am having a lot of trouble following the story line here. To be fair, I had a lot of trouble following the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie, but really, who didn't? I am confused as to what kicked off events in this encounter. Did starfall cause the damaged ship or did the damaged ship cause starfall? What damaged the ship, what was the ship's original purpose, why did it head this way? I also cannot seem to puzzle out what the crew situation was on board the ship. You say that the crew both got to the rescue pods and died in their sleep, that there was one human on board and many androids, but then they all turned into evil versions of themselves? Did they fight the akatas in the escape pods? I am not clear on the chain of events and it takes me out of the story.

Lantern Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Thank you to everyone who voted for me and believed that this encounter is Superstar material! I absolutely could not have made it there without all of your appreciation! :)

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 8

I'll admit that I'm not a huge sci-fi buff, but credit where credit is due this encounter had some serious pizzazz, genre notwithstanding. Furthermore, when combined with everything else you've submitted, I think that you are a fantastic candidate for the top four. Congratulations for clearing the alternate hurdle to make it all the way to finals!

To battle and victory!

Also, I'll take this opportunity to publicly express how much I loved your monster, and how honored I am to have been able to write an encounter around it!

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

Great job making it into the finals, Robert! I thought your encounter had too much sci-fi terminology for a Pathfinder game, but the raw concept was fun and we know tons of people are just waiting for an excuse to get into the Silver Mount and similar adventures.

The final round is upon you and I wish you the best of luck. I know you've already done some design work but this is your biggest stage yet. I'm very excited to see what adventure you pitch!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

I respectfully disagree with a previous comment about spacing. As a GM I find far too many maps have insufficient space for a good fight where all the players can be involved. They may look odd when you compare them to real world standards, but spatial realism is conceit this game ill-affords with a five foot grid system. Nevertheless I have played and GMed in 5-star rated adventures by Designers with more street cred than I have and still had some miserable fights thanks to "cramped" fights in small tight places.

This is especially true at lower levels, where not every player wants to invest in Point Blank Shot and Precise Shot to contribute to the action. Nor should they feel pressured to, by poor mapping alone.

That is not to say a thematically small space cannot be appropriate. especially when you factor in theme, creature, and atmospherics. For example, a sewer tunnel should be cramped, but not every adventure takes place in a sewer tunnel. I don't see the point of shrinking the spacing of this map at all. Your map is just fine.

These opinions are strictly my own.

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

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Robert, I loved every part of your encounter. A little over the top, perhaps (though in a good way), and certainly sci-fi peanut butter in fantasy chocolate isn't for everyone. But I liked it a lot. Here's hoping you bring the goods in the final round too!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Sorry about my previous post! I got a little excited, like Bowie in China Girl.

Its in the white of my eyes.

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


Congrats on making the top 4. I was glad to see an alternate get into the mix as I think it sucks to be an alternate. Top 4 is a big deal and if you flew under the radar before you certainly have everyone's attention now.

Some suggestions going into round 4.
-Don't set your phasers on stun. You can take the mixed feedback about going scifi with a grain of salt as clearly the voters have spoken. There's a market that maybe you should stick with, this was certainly an attention grabber.
-Watch the backstory. In this I see the right blend of backstory and action. The reader gets enough of a taste on the backstory but you leave some questions unanswered which is a very good design tactic. GMs like filling in a little white space and you left room for that.

Advice overall: Sometimes designers hate being boxed into a niche and immediately try and break it. I chaffed a little at a design niche I dug for myself on a blog, and ended up digging another one. If you enjoy what you do others will enjoy it too. Try to widen your audience too much and you risk homogenizing your brand into something people can take or leave. Spirit Window deserved top 32, Disir was interesting if not my fav, honestly I had you on the bubble, the map threw you over the top methinks. Winning would be a great story considering you started an alternate. I think all the top 4 win in a way.

Good Luck,
Frank Gori

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Recent threads in Round 3: Design an encounter
Astugr Lighthouse