Knight's Gambit


Round 4: Submit an adventure proposal

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

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KNIGHT'S GAMBIT
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When the Watchknights of Vigil cannot catch an elusive criminal, a knight approaches the PCs with a risky proposition. As undercover operatives, they follow clues through places high and low, and uncover a plot involving Vigil's ancient enemies. Time is running out as the PCs prepare to face a cunning enemy that seeks to plunge Vigil into turmoil.

Knight's Gambit is a Pathfinder adventure module for four 3rd-level characters. By the end of this urban adventure, the characters should reach 5th level using the medium experience track.

Adventure Background

In recent years, Lastwall has experienced a much welcomed spell of relative peace. Consequently, fewer and fewer crusaders have joined Vigil's cause to watch over the cursed Gallowspire and hold off the orcs of Belkzen. The leaders in Vigil are reluctant to change the situation, but there is a rising concern that complacency may bring about Vigil's downfall.

Lady Sirana Urholde is one of the few to give voice to the concern, but her appeals and warnings have been met with disregard. Although the ever-ambitious Watcher-Lord Ulthun II dreams of conquest, he will not go against the decisions of the Precentors Martial or the wishes of the Tribunes. Dismayed at the treasonous cowardice of Vigil's leaders, Sirana designed a plot to prove that the orcs of Belkzen remain a threat that demands immediate action. Any sacrifice would be acceptable if crusaders were to flock to the city once again.

Under the alias "the Rook", Sirana began tracking down and organizing Vigil’s underworld in preparation for an attack staged to look like an act of terror by agents of Gallowspire. Her position as an officer in the Watchknights allowed her to access information about criminal cases, and exploiting unscrupulous investigation methods, she found what the law-abiding investigators never could.

Meanwhile, her half-orc brother Torack infiltrated a motley tribe of outcast orcs, the Chimaera. Kragor, the tribe chieftain, thought himself smart for having a half-orc counselor and eagerly swallowed Torack’s lies and half-truths about Vigil's defenses. Kragor was particularly fascinated by revelations about an abandoned supply tunnel, which Sirana had uncovered while investigating a case. The plan to invade Vigil soon became Kragor’s obsession.

When Sirana’s plan comes into fruition, it looks like a highly organized, joint attack by minions of the Whispering Tyrant and a troop of orcs from various tribes banded together. The plan is carefully engineered so that Sirana arrives with her own troops just in time for her to lead the counter-offensive. In doing so, she emerges as the hero who saved the city. The attack will cause just enough death and destruction to provoke a retaliation.

Adventure Hooks

  • The PCs travel with a merchant caravan. They meet a Taldan merchant who tells them about a knight who seeks resourceful individuals for an investigation job.
  • The local Pathfinder Lodge sometimes lends its services to help Vigil. The PCs are chosen for their unique skills.
  • Arrested for petty crimes they did or did not commit, the PCs are offered a chance to redeem themselves by using their skills to help Vigil.

Prologue

The adventure begins with a meeting at Sir Erram's (old CG male human fighter 5) house, who wants to hire the PCs.

Sir Erram’s Speech:
”They say there is a new player in Vigil. They call him the Rook and say he’s some sort of a vigilante. Others say he is organizing the filth and I fear the same. Whatever he wants, Vigil won’t tolerate it.”

“The problem is, even though Vigil is a city of honest and lawful people, the sneaky bugger has somehow been able to elude the Watchknights. This is where you come in. Nobody except me knows who you are; you better keep it that way. The Watcher-Lord authorized me to use extraordinary measures, so do whatever is necessary to catch the Rook, but don’t get into too much trouble.”

“One more thing; be quick about it. Report back to me within five days.”


Sir Erram reminds the PCs about the Shield-Marks and Sword-Marks that many people have. Such marks, or lack thereof, give circumstantial modifiers on social skills depending on the situation. He gives the PCs 500 gp to spend on “provisions”, by which he means equipment needed for pursuing the clues, or for bribing criminals.

Bonus Location: The Hideout:
In the back of an unassuming storage room, a well-concealed secret door opens into a larger room with weapon racks, chests, and a few simple bunks.

Sir Erram lets the PCs use the hideout as their headquarters, where they can place traps and wards to protect their loot and evidence.

Act I – The Rook’s Flight

In any order, the PCs start investigating cases in which the Rook has recently been involved.

Halfling Smugglers: After squeezing information out of a rival gang, the PCs confront a gang of halfling smugglers in a large storage house. The combatants can use crates for cover or climbing. The sneaky halflings have arranged the crates so that the narrow spaces between them are difficult for bigger creatures to move through. Furthermore, iron hooks hang on chains from the ceiling and can be used to swing from one pile of crates to another.

Sirana found the smugglers before the Watchknights got to them. If the PCs let the halflings live, they tell them what little they know about the Rook: a magically disguised, faceless warrior cleaved their leader in half with a longsword and forced them to work as spies. The Rook also gave them a key, saying they would learn its purpose later.

Missing Persons: The PCs investigate crime scenes and find the victims dead and stuffed into a seemingly impossible places. Each victim was a classmate of one Minra Salias, who suffered a cataleptic fit after being bullied. She was mistaken for dead and subsequently interred in the crypts beneath the cathedral. She suffocated in her heavy coffin and rose as an immured (R2).

Sample Encounter: Missing Daughter:
The grieving mother opens the door to her daughter’s room. Various items still lie strewn about the floor.

Minra, a grudgeful immured, dragged the girl through the wall, watched her suffocate, then hid her body under the rafters in the roof. The mother heard screams which quickly faded. Nothing appeared to be missing except her daughter.

  • Perception or Disable Device DC 15: There are no signs of forced entry in the house.
  • Heal or Survival DC 20: There is no blood, suggesting non-lethal attacks.
  • Drag CMD 15 or Survival DC 10: She was dragged towards the wall.
  • Intimidate or Sense Motive DC 15: The mother remembers: all candles in the room were extinguished.
  • Perception or Knowledge (nature) DC 15: There is a faint smell of decay in the adjacent room.

Sirana defeated Minra and used a miscaster (R2) to cast arcane lock on the coffin, blocking the immured’s breach ability. Sirana had stolen the miscaster from a wizard and locked it in the burial chamber along with a special pocket watch working as a timer. The watch is ticking down to the hour the orcs attack, whereupon the miscaster is to cast dispel magic on the coffin. Sirana knew that the next person Minra would go after was the last of the bullies, the daughter of a councilman.

When the PCs unlock the door, the mischievous miscaster dispels the arcane lock. The immured immediately attempts to pull a character into the adjacent chamber, the door to which is locked.

Necromantic Lab: A wizard’s name on the pocket watch leads the PCs to a pet shop. The halflings' key opens a door to a necromantic lab in the basement. The owner, a curious but non-evil necromancer lies dead and decaying, and a veritable menagerie of skeleton and zombie animals is running rampant in the lab. The floor is covered in necromantic fluids and shards from broken jars. Each animal’s forehead is branded with a symbol in the shape of Gallowspire, one of Sirana’s ploys.

In a second room, the PCs encounter the necromancer’s masterpiece, the centianima. Sirana left it alone, planning to get it released during the attack. After the PCs defeat it, they find a diary that gives an account of the interactions with the Rook that ultimately led to the wizard’s death.

New Monster: Centianima:
This centipede assembled from the bones of numerous animals skitters forth sideways in an undulating motion, heads on both ends racing to catch prey.

This Large undead creature gains a second bite attack whenever it is being flanked. It can also shake bone fragments off its body to fill a number of adjacent squares with bone caltrops.

Act II – Keeping Vigil

The PCs and Sir Erram assess the evidence. Everything seems to indicate that something big and sinister is afoot. The PCs set out to investigate a few locations mentioned in the diary to find out more.

Foray into Belkzen: In a ruined tower in the Hold of Belkzen, the PCs encounter a gang of orcs who attack on sight. Their half-blooded leader, a draconic bloodline sorcerer casts enlarge person on himself before joining the fray. He has a letter which reads: “Join the Chimaera to sunder the Shield”.

The Traitor's Gate: The PCs visit the Pathfinder Lodge and other locations to find clues about the Traitor’s Gate, a tunnel thus named for a noble who centuries ago used it to escape during a siege. No-one alive except Sirana and Torack know the exact location of the entrance, and the PCs only learn which part of Vigil it is in. If the PCs dig too deep, a false clue leads them into a trap laid by an aranea.

Roof Runner: The PCs follow clues about a spy who works in the Drakkar, an Ulfen-built ale house near the docks, and get into a bar brawl. Afterwards, they can befriend dwarven crusaders who want to hold a singing contest. With new clues, they enter the spy’s heavily trapped apartment. He grabs a map marked with some key locations about the attack and escapes through a window.

A chase scene (GameMastery Guide 232) ensues. The PCs, for example, jump from roof to roof, splash through a holy fountain, climb a statue and barge through the singing dwarves who want to offer them drinks. Shortly after the PCs catch the spy or give up the chase, their role is reversed – the Watchknights pursue them for defiling the statue and fountain.

Sample Chase Card: Iomedae’s Statue:
Leap off Faith → Acrobatics DC 20
Adequate Handholds → Climb DC 15

Sample Chase Card: Drunken Dwarves:
Just One Pint → Fortitude DC 15
Sorry Lads! → Overrun CMD 20

The Chimaera: Sir Erram’s report to the Watchknights only prompts a few extra scouting runs – the evidence is deemed too inconclusive to warrant any larger-scale actions.

A few nights later, the wizard’s watch starts chiming. Sir Erram instructs the PCs to find the attackers and stall them to their best ability while Erram alerts the Watchknights. The orcs fan out to lay devastation on the unsuspecting city. Kragor mounted on his tiger, an entourage of orc raiders (orc barbarian 1) and Torack hurry towards Sirana’s ambush.

The more successful the PCs' investigation has been, the more accurately they can pinpoint where the attack occurs. Thus they can better choose where to ambush Kragor, gaining an advantage of terrain in the tough encounter. If the PCs steal the glory of killing Kragor before he reaches Sirana’s ambush, they have a better chance of dissuading the war council in the third act. If the PCs attempt to help Sirana kill Kragor, she tells them to stay out of the way.

Torack takes no part in the fight. His plan has all along been to use invisibility and leave when things get ugly. Regardless of how Kragor dies, thanks to Torack’s intentionally bad advice, his orcs only manage to kill a few dozen people, injure twice that many, vandalize a number of statues and burn a few flags. The ferocious, stubborn orcs, however, are killed nearly to the last by the angry, vengeful Vigilants.

Bio: Kragor Whitetusk:
Kragor (CE male orc fighter 5) seized control of his tribe by the right of the strongest. However, he quickly understood that physical might was no substitute for leadership. Paranoid and painfully aware of his shortcomings, he feared that his rivals would kill him in his sleep unless he could strengthen his rule. An opportunity presented itself when a renegade half-orc offered him the greatest of all trophies – Vigil.

Quirk: Kragor charges into battle with Wraith, a snow-white tiger captured previously from a caravan returning to the south from the Realm of the Mammoth Lords.

Act III – Endgame

In the aftermath of the attack, a war council has convened in Castle Overwatch to discuss retaliatory action. With Lady Sirana as their spokesperson, the faction that supports the war is gaining traction. The PCs present the evidence they have found earlier in the adventure to prove the attack was planned to provoke just this reaction.

Sample Encounter: War Council:
As the doors to the council room open, the sweeping voice of a woman floods into the hallway. "In times like this, we need courageous deeds. We – Vigil – must stand as one!" She stops speaking and slowly turns her piercing, intense eyes towards the doors, her expression demanding an explanation for the intrusion.

When presenting their evidence to the council, the PCs use Knowledge (history/local/nobility) to cite relevant laws and precedents, Perform (oratory) to appeal to feelings, Diplomacy and Bluff to prop up the evidence and Intimidate to warn about foolish rashness. The key to success is choosing the right skill when presenting each piece of evidence.

The PCs may also use skills not listed above if the players have convincing arguments as to why the use of the skill makes sense.


If successful, the PCs are granted one day to find more definitive evidence. If not, they only get two hours.

Saving the Enemy: Sir Erram tells the PCs about a captured orc raider whom Sirana wants to hang in a grand public display. The PCs sneak into the Urholde Manor and interrogate the orc, who reveals that he has seen Torack both in Kragor’s camp before the attack and after it at the Urholde Manor, talking to Sirana. The PCs fight paladins and Torack on their way out and escort the orc to Castle Overwatch.

Bio: Torack:
Torack (N male half-orc bard 5) is the unlikely son of a ranger-knight and an orc woman whom he took back to his countryside estate for interrogation. A year after her release, a little bundle appeared at his doorstep with a message written in Orcish: “Could not be”. Torack spent the days of his childhood locked away from the world with only his father's books, voraciously consuming each word.

Quirk: Torack uses Throw Anything with Arcane Strike to turn any object into a deadly missile. He prefers copper coins, often quipping “Let's see how much you're worth!” when attacking.

The Rook’s Nest: The third act culminates in the confrontation with Lady Sirana. The Watchknights surround the Urholde Manor, but hesitate to enter because Sirana has taken a hostage. Sir Erram urges the PCs to sneak in and convince her to surrender. Inside, the PCs fight trumpet archon statues (Medium animated object; additional movement, stone), and finally confront Sirana in a large ballroom.

Sample Encounter: Checkmate:
The screams of a hostage echo off the marble checkerboard floor and mirror-covered walls of this opulent room. In the far corner, a smiling, 10-foot-tall archon statue stirs, and its golden starknife starts spinning wickedly like a sawmill blade. Behind the statue, there is a circular staircase that leads up to a balcony overlooking the room, where Sirana is holding her hostage before her, sword in other hand.

Sirana is in no mood for talking. She uses the hostage as soft cover and casts spiritual weapon to harass spellcasters and archers, and hold person on the toughest-looking warrior. In melee, she switches from the purity judgment to justice and uses the bane ability and Power Attack on each attack. She fights to the bitter end.

The star archon statue (Large animated object; metal, slashing attack) edges onward, intercepting anyone trying to reach the stairs.

Bio: Lady Sirana Urholde:
Sirana (LE female human inquisitor (infiltrator) 7) is Torack's half-sister. Her mother died giving birth to her, and her father passed away when she was in her teens. She sold the property, had the Urholde Manor built in Vigil and settled there with her little brother. To protect Torack’s secret, they wove a story about a servant girl and orc raiders. For many years, Sirana was schooled in the War College, and eventually, she took the knightly vows in the Cathedral of Sancta Iomedaea.

Quirk: Although Sirana has fallen far from the Iomedaean ideals, she bears the symbol of Iomedae proudly on her armor. Her power comes from her devotion to her ideal rather than Iomedae, but she still detects as lawful good because of her misdirection ability.

Sirana is wearing an eye of vigil (new item), an eye-shaped crystal set on a chain. If she is affected by a sleep effect, blindness or paralysis, the crystal absorbs the effect and the eye closes. If the amulet absorbs a second effect, the eye bulges out from its socket and breaks.

Conclusion

The war is averted for now, but it is a bittersweet victory. The PCs are rewarded for their service, but there is no celebration. The Vigilants are shaken by the stark reminder that humans can be far crueler animals than the orcs. After a time, though, Vigil rises with new confidence, ever watchful and resolute in its purpose.


Congratulations on making it to this stage, Mikko! I enjoyed the opportunity to read your proposal "Knight's Gambit." It's a good story with interesting politics and villain motivations.

The biggest challenge I see with "Knight's Gambit" is that the final act (or chapter) feels like an anticlimax of sorts. You set up the villain's plot well, and it makes sense -- but I feel that what we have here are two different stories joined by the event in the middle. You can write a great adventure about the Rook's plotting to trigger the orc attack, or you can write a great adventure that begins with the orc attack and then challenges the PCs to figure out who made it happen and why. Covering the entire arc of Sirana's plot dilutes the story you could be telling in this adventure.

(I also worry that Sirana's "get the bad guys to attack my city to prove that they're a threat" angle feels like a poor plan, and somewhat cliched. I would want to take a hard look at that going forward.)

Some of the best points of "Knight's Gambit" are:
- The investigation of the Rook's activities is very strong--this is the best investigation storyline in the four finalists.
- The chase scene looks like a ton of fun. Most adventures don't make enough use of the "skill challenge" encounters.
- Sirana is an interesting villain, and there is an excellent opportunity to pull off a shocking twist with the extent of her treachery (although you'd need to introduce the PCs to her earlier in the adventure to make that really effective).

The downside about this sort of competition is that the finalists are usually all pretty good, but we still have to pick one winner. So, while there are elements of "Knight's Gambit" I like quite a lot, I have to make a tough choice. Accordingly:

I do not recommend "Knight's Gambit" to be considered as the winner of the 2014 RPG Superstar competition.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

First of all, congratulations on making it to the final round! That's an accomplishment in and of itself! My review of this proposal (as with the other three proposal reviews) focuses primarily upon how the proposal fits into the Inner Sea region, how interesting the proposal is as a whole, and any potential changes/trouble spots we’ll need to have addressed should the proposal end up winning. I'm going to present feedback with very little sugar-coating as well, since I've always felt that frank and honest feedback is more valuable.

Feedback for Knight’s Gambit

The Basics
Title: Not bad, but neither is it very descriptive or evocative. It does very little to intrigue me, nor does it tease me with anything going on in the adventure in particular, such as where the adventure takes place, what sorts of foes will be featured, or even what kind of adventure it might be.

Location: Vigil is a good location for this adventure.

Plot: Mysteries are hard. This one seems to be a pretty good mystery though, and there's a lot of ways for the PCs to piece things together. The adventure feels anticlimactic though, and quickly outpaces the PCs' level by developing into a plot more appropriate for a mid-level or even high-level party.

The Good

  • 1) Having the PCs be agents recruited to solve a problem because they’re low-level no-names is an excellent way to explain why low-level characters are being involved in what normally would be something for mid- or high-level characters to accomplish.
  • 2) Providing the PCs with a hideout to gather their evidence and rest is a cool element, but it shouldn’t be a “bonus” location. It’s strong enough that it needs to be an integral part of the adventure or not in there at all.
  • 3) Using lots of new content from RPG Superstar is cool. Just make sure that what you do use is justified!
  • 4) The centianima is a cool critter, even if its inclusion in the adventure feels a bit illogical (see Development Challenge #9 below).

Development Challenges

  • 1) As I’ve said elsewhere, mysteries are among the most difficult of adventure categories to pull off. What you have in the first part of the adventure seems to be a pretty good collection of sandbox-style investigative encounters, so it looks like you’ve got a good start on it... but I’m calling it out anyway since mysteries are so tough.
  • 2) Sirana Urholde is a complicated character, and the actions she’s taking in this adventure are neither lawful nor good. I hope her alignment takes that into account. Looking at her bio at the end... I’m not entirely comfortable with the amount of handwaving and trickery and deception going in to having her still be an inquisitor of Iomedae while simultaneously being evil. This character needs a fair amount of work.
  • 3) “The Chimaera” is not a great name for an orc tribe; it’s too close to the word “chimera.” If you want the tribe to be named after a monster, then use the same spelling; if you don’t then don’t use an almost identical spelling.
  • 4) There’s some similar concerns I have with this adventure that I had with “The Daughters of Fury,” but these concerns are even greater here. In this adventure, you have Vigil faced with what looks like a joint attack by the orcs and Gallowspire—even though it’s a fake attack, Vigil’s reaction to this type of thing should be swift and powerful. To the extent that 3rd level characters are just going to be overwhelmed. This isn’t a low-level plot for a low-level adventure, in other words. A low level adventure set in Vigil either needs to focus on a small-scale plot that doesn’t involve the entire city going on alert, or it needs to be set somewhere else entirely.
  • 5) Timers are almost always a bad idea... but they’re especially bad ideas for low-level adventures. A series of bad luck on die rolls can result in a party expending all of their resources, as can exposure to things like ability damage or the like—forcing the players to finish an adventure in a short amount of time limits their resources, and when they’re low level and already have a small number of resources to draw from, you run a very real risk of making an adventure frustratingly difficult.
  • 6) Althoguh halflings are small-sized, their space is the same as a Medium creature. They don’t have any built-in ability like compression, so by the rules, for better or worse, a space that’s made narrow for Medium creatures to move through works the same on all creatures that have the same space as Medium creatures... which includes Small creatures like halflings. So the setup for the narrow fighting area for the halfling smugglers is flawed.
  • 7) You spend a bit too much time giving examples of read-aloud text, sample chase cards, and specific encounter details in the proposal—wordcount that could have been used to inform us about more important details such as explaining immediately why the key given to the halflings by the Rook is important; teasing with information in that manner doesn’t really help me decide if the idea’s any good, since the idea isn’t fully presented to me.
  • 8) Pocket watches ride the edge of anachronism. We already featured one in the previous RPG superstar adventure, and I’d like to find something different for the wizard’s initials to be on. Something more wizardly. A wand or magic item or spellbook or something.
  • 9) Skeletons and zombies are evil in Pathfinder, and any necromancer who creates them should be evil as well. Vigil seems like the single worst city in the Inner Sea region for a necromancer to set up shop in; the entire “necromantic lab” needs to change into something else, or become otherwise altered to explain why something like this can exist in a city that was founded to fight necromancy (among other things).
  • 10) Sections in our adventures are Chapters, not Acts.
  • 11) While the idea of having the PCs be undercover agents works well at the start, the further into the adventure I get, the less and less this story holds up. As events in Vigil escalate, the city’s established defenders, such as the Knights of Ozem, would be much more logical (and much more effective) methods of saving the city than a group of low level adventurers could ever hope to be. ESPECIALLY once you start having orcs attacking Vigil.
  • 12) The adventure is anticlimactic. An attack on the capital of Lastwall by orcs is a HUGE deal, and having this event take place in the middle of the adventure leaves the last portion firmly rooted in anticlimax territory. It’d be much better if the adventure were restructured so that the attack doesn’t happen at all, since the actions the PCs take in rooting out and exposing the plot gives Vigil enough information to act. This would also solve my concerns that involving low level PCs in an orc siege of Vigil is not level appropriate, but it also means that the adventure proposal needs some SIGNFICIANT reworking.
  • 13) The central goal of the bad guy—to get Vigil to be more vigilant by orchestrating an attack on the city to prove it needs to be more vigilant—seems like a cliché and feels a bit too awkward. Storylines where the villain is conflicted and may well be right and thus presents the heroes with a moral quandary to consider—“Is she right and could Vigil do better?”—works well in a traditional storyline, but it gets really complicated and can be prone to frustration for the PCs, especially considering that if the PCs DO end up thinking she’s right, then the adventure falls apart.

Final Thoughts
While the first half of this adventure is small-scale and low-level enough that I buy it... by the time we have orcs attacking the city of Vigil, the adventure’s plot has outpaced the level of the PCs. Any threat that a group of low-level PCs could hope to handle in such a situation would be an easy one for Vigil to crush, and any threat that would challenge Vigil enough that they’d need to call upon heroes to help would crush a low level party. The plot for “Knight’s Gambit,” unfortunately, is simply to big and grand for a low level party, and so if this adventure wins, it’s going to need to be rebuilt for a higher level group, which brings with it some other complications as for pacing and what sorts of spells and powers become available to the PCs. But the anticlimactic nature of the adventure is probably its biggest flaw.

I do not recommend "Knight’s Gambit" for consideration as the winner of RPG Superstar 2014.

Contributor

Hi Mikko! First off let me say I love the centianima. Great name, great concept. If I was giving out an award for Best Bonus Monster in an Adventure Proposal, you would get it. That aside, I have a few comments for you to consider, both for this proposal and for future writing. I’m approaching my judging from the perspective of a freelancer who’s had to learn some hard lessons over the years. I hope my comments encourage you and help improve your writing as you continue in the RPG industry.

The idea that the people (or a person) in charge create a fake emergency to solidify trust or power is not an original one, but that’s not necessarily a problem. Few plots are wholly original. That said, familiar plots need some sort of twist or unusual angle to keep them feeling fresh, and I didn’t feel “Knight’s Gambit” had that freshness. Deeper motivation on Sirana’s part beyond “proving the orcs are dangerous” (and later “looking like a hero”) could have helped the adventure. The fact that she has a half-orc brother would have been a great way to add that depth—if Sirana was afraid her brother was exploring his orc heritage and somehow got the idea that orcs were misunderstood but noble warriors, she might try to stage the attack for his sake more than the city’s. That’s a pretty thin example but you see what I'm getting at.

The encounters within the adventure are interesting and varied, and you use environmental details (such as the halfling warehouse) to help keep combats energizing. I found Act I poorly organized, though, and had difficulty following some of the encounters. “Missing Daughter” for example left me confused as to how Sirana found out about Minra and why she cared enough to lock her up and then let her free during the orc attack. In “Necromantic Lab,” I wondered why Sirana left the halflings a key to the pet shop’s basement. Did she expect them to use it as a bolthole or something? Maybe she thought the halflings could use a little pet zombie bunny to love (“the hopping dead"!). You don’t have to explain every little detail or proposed outcome in an adventure, otherwise it starts looking more like a project plan than an exciting story. However you should make sure there are logical links between one scene and another, or between a standalone scene and the main plot.

Once again: the centianima is awesome! Even its short description lacks clarity, though. This line:

Quote:
This centipede assembled from the bones of numerous animals skitters forth sideways…

left me wondering how an animal can skitter forward and sideways at the same time. Watch out too for instances of “varied” or “numerous” or related words. You can almost always add punch and interest by using proper nouns instead. Consider the difference between “assembled from the bones of numerous animals” and “assembled from yellowed rats’ skulls, snakes’ vertebrae, gnawed ribcages of pigeons, and other small bones.”

You do a great job of making the adventure open and sandbox-y, with lots of encounters the PCs can pick and choose between (though the Act I encounters lead pretty directly from one to the other). I would have liked to see a narrower focus in Act III. As near I can tell, the PCs enter Act III with no real idea of who the Rook could be. They should have at least a suspicion, I think, or an indication that the Rook is a high-ranking official. As it stands, they’d have no idea Sirana was behind everything if they failed to interrogate the orc prisoner in “Saving the Enemy.” I can just imagine a poor GM tearing his hair out as the players say, “What can one orc prisoner tell us, really? I want to go search for the Traitor’s Gate again.”

Your title is okay, though familiar. The phrase "queen's gambit" is used so often that changing queen to knight isn't all that exciting. I'm not the most awesome title-generator (just ask my editors) but off the top of my head I think "Knight to Rook" would be just as appropriate and more engaging.

Congratulations on your excellent entry! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and I see why you made it to round 4. Your submission didn’t quite reach the top of my list, though, and so I do not recommend “Knight’s Gambit” to be the winner of the 2014 RPG Superstar competition.

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

I really, really enjoy this one. For me, it is in the Top Two with Robert's entry. I like the villain and her motivations. I can see how a fake attack might be a loophole of how to have an adventure in Vigil without being overshadowed by the native defenses.

RPG Superstar Season 9 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Congratulations on making it this far, Mikko! I've been a bit of a lurker throughout this contest since I didn't want my comments to come across as propaganda on my brother's behalf, so this is the first round where I feel I can contribute my opinions while voting is open. I've been really impressed by your work thus far, and I'm hoping my advice can help you in your future writing.

Things That Got Me Excited:
You, sir, possess a real gift for cramming a lot of awesome stuff into a small space. My favorite part of Paizo's modules and APs is the wide variety of unique encounters offered in each installment, and with a well-constructed investigation, a chase scene, an invasion, a war council, and a final confrontation with the Big Bad, boy does this deliver. You have a knack for creating expansive plots without getting too big for your britches, and that is a valuable talent. Furthermore, Sir Erram's speech, the sample chase cards, the character bios, and other details show me that you see not just the forest but the trees as well. You have demonstrated these qualities in every round of this competition, and for that alone I must say I am a huge fan and I am already looking forward to playing everything you publish in the future.

I completely agree with Amber - the centianima is a stroke of genius. I really sends shivers down my spine (creepy shivers as well as "I have a great idea of how to use this monster" shivers).

Steven Helt got a lot of praise last year for using a stronghold as his big reward, and I think you used the same concept effectively with The Hideout. I especially like that you provided the hideout at the beginning of the adventure, which makes it more involved in the story at hand. I would have liked to see you flesh this out more, but I guess you only have so many words with which to describe an empty warehouse.

I love how you incorporate so many earlier RPGSS entries. Not only do I think it's cool writing, but it shows me you are thinking on your feet; you didn't have this pre-written for years so you could tweak it for the contest.

Things That Got Me Worried:
Pretty much all of my concerns can be summed up with one statement: you took a huge gamble setting this in Vigil. As James Jacobs already said, this makes encounters like the "Necromantic Lab" very difficult to swallow, and it makes it impossible to cast the PCs as the heroes who fended off an orc horde (if the invasion was anything to write home about, then a 3rd level party would have been creamed). You may have gotten more traction if the PCs weren't actually at the invasion, but their actions directly impacted the outcome (death toll, citizen's fear, etc). That makes more sense to me because a few low-level scoundrels can make a big impact on a surprise attack without actually being on the front lines. Furthermore, the impact of the PCs' actions could subsequently affect the difficulty of the War Council and attempted execution encounters (which I, for one, would LOVE to roleplay out).

Another point that wasn't mentioned was that if Sirana is a major player in Vigil, odds are her actions throughout this adventure would have triggered her Shield-Mark/Sword-Mark/both. Especially towards the end, a lot of her actions seem worthy of activating a mark of justice, and someone in her position without the Marks would be very suspicious indeed.

I am ambivalent about Sirana as a character. One one hand, I love the setup of a "lawful good" vigilante (pun intended) serving as the villain, since the point she is trying to make is a valid one and it casts her in an intriguing shade of gray (my favorite type of character). That being said, Vigil does not seem like the place where a shade of gray is appropriate. The whole city is more or less on the same page ideologically, and it literally stands as a beacon of light against an all-consuming darkness.

I sympathize with the struggles you faced using this city; my brother's proposal would have also used Vigil, and getting around its whitewashed purity was a huge pain in the neck.

Overall:
I really like this pitch. The story is captivating, and there is no shortage of awesome things to do. There are certainly flaws, but your attention to detail and your track record thus far have me convinced that you can fix them if given the opportunity. I still need to read the rest of the submissions, but you are quite likely to get my vote.

Good luck!

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

Congrats on your final round entry. What's with Lawful leaders deciding to go all Chaotic as the main bad guys? Especially with inquisitors, which after paladins are about as devout towards a deity's ethos as can be. I couldn't buy the set up on this at all unfortunately, especially with the hand waving away of how Sirana still gets her inquisitor powers. I think it could be made to work if in fact she was being manipulated by a real agent of Gallowspire to delude her into thinking this was the best way to go to invigorate Vigil. Also, if she really think's she's acting in the best interest of Vigil and Iomedae, why would she use misdirection to conceal her real alignment, since she would still consider herself to be LG?

I also felt a lot of the investigation portion of the adventure was had to understand the connections to the actual plot. Why would the PCs even investigate missing children when they're on the trail of a traitor, much less why would Sirana try to manipulate an immured? Also, how does she control the miscaster in the first place to do what she wants?

While the presenting of evidence is a cool scene, the description of the game mechanics seems confusing. While there should be multiple ways to use different skills in scenes like this, having a "right" skill for each piece of evidence seems off. If I'm playing a PC skilled at diplomacy, why would I want to try to use perform oratory or manipulate point of law, instead of just using diplomacy, much less why would I think one method was somehow superior to what my character (or the party's overall set of skills for that matter) can do?

Also, Torack's tactics don't work. Throw anything makes you more effective when throwing ranged improvised weapons. A copper piece isn't something that would qualify.

Finally, for the default assumption that the PCs are mostly good characters, why would the fight paladins? They just finished presenting evidence to the council, shouldn't they be able to tell the Law abiding paladins on guard that they need to escort this prisoner to provide more evidence? If they couldn't, I think many PCs would do everything they could to avoid attacking paladin guards of a LG city.

Kudos on the chase scene, I'm a big fan of these and wish they got used a bit more often in print.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka motteditor

Hey Mikko,

I'm going to go through these doing my best not to read any judges/other voters' comments (though I'll admit I've glanced at a few). My thoughts will pretty much be stream of consciousness.

I like the name, though I think maybe making it *The* Knight's Gambit might be a little stronger. Definitely makes me assume we're going to be in Vigil ... and we are. I like that. I think it immediately summons the feel of Lastwall, which is an area I think is rife for development. As I said to Victoria, it was one of the areas I was most interested in so I'm glad to see you also playing with it.

I love Sirana's setup. Love it! It's a classic ends justify the means scenario, where she's convinced that she's working for the better good of the city, even if her methods could result in some deaths. I think I'd even make her LN, not LE, since she's doing what she's doing for what she sees as the greater good.

Whoops, some awkward phrasing in that prologue. I don't think the house wants to hire the PCs. :)

And then, ouch. The bonus location is the first thing I don't love about this module. That is one dull location.

Act I: Another investigation. Probably not surprising considering we're looking at low-level urban adventures. I like that the smugglers encounter felt independent from the other clues -- making it feel more sandboxy -- and I wish you had a couple more of these that felt like they stood on their own and could be done in any order, rather than one clue simply leading to the next as happens with Minra leading to the necromancer. Bringing in some R2 monsters is fun, though I think it feels a little odd to use two of them in one encounter.

Speaking of monsters, though, your new monster seems strong to me. I like that flanking works against the PCs in this case.

Act II: The clues seem a bit more independent here, which I like. I'm not thrilled with the chase scene developing, though. We've had enough warning to avoid these types of escapes, since a simply hold person can short circuit the whole scene.

I like the big orc fight at the end of the scene. That feels very appropriate to Vigil, and having them suddenly in the city walls would probably cause some quick chaos. This feels like it could be a real set piece battle to me, and I'd like to see it played up a bit more. Perhaps have the PCs have a few different battles they can be involved in, with the more they do, the more prestige they get (meanwhile, the knights of Vigil of course end up responding as well, so the longer the PCs take, the less prestige they take because the knights are wrapping things up on their own).

Act III: Setting the PCs against paladins could be risky -- if a PC's playing a paladin, is that something he's going to do? I think it works for me, but I don't know if it works for a module (if that makes sense). I might change the paladins to cavaliers. That might make for a less dramatic scene, but I think it would probably work for more players.

Wait, and now I'm confused. They sneak into the manor, escape with the orc ... and then have to get back in? And who's the hostage? Is it someone the PCs are going to care about?

I have to admit I'm torn. This one was my favorite leading into Act III and then I think it kind of fell apart a little. I really want to like it as I think Sirana's my favorite bad guy in the four pitches, but I want more emphasis on her idea of the ends justifying the means. I'm not sure the PCs really have reason to hate her by the end of the module. What if instead of just branding Gallowspire's symbols on the undead, she brands it on a handful of people she's killed and then staged to look like some dark ritual. She wasn't expecting them *actually* rise as undead, though. The whole thing then culminates in the orcish sneak attack before the PCs learn she's responsible (and perhaps they break into her manor one time to extract the evidence against her, which is the only way to derail her scheme). (Or perhaps they learn during the sneak attack that Sirana's going after the Watcher Lord/someone else who she feels is hampering her scheme -- Erram? -- and they have to race to stop her in the midst of the chaos of the orcish attack!)

I'm going to read everyone's comments, but I'm leaning toward voting for this one initially -- that said, I'm doing it I think because of the potential I see in it as there's a lot I'd want cleaned up in development.

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

Quote:
Quirk: Torack uses Throw Anything with Arcane Strike to turn any object into a deadly missile. He prefers copper coins, often quipping “Let's see how much you're worth!” when attacking.

Knight's Gambit, eh? Ehhh?

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka motteditor

Oh, I didn't even pick up on that, Isaac. I'm glad he's not Calistrian with a Deck of Hellwasp Stings. :)

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

Joel Flank wrote:
Also, Torack's tactics don't work. Throw anything makes you more effective when throwing ranged improvised weapons. A copper piece isn't something that would qualify.

I think coins work just fine with Throw Anything. The rules for improvised weapons are pretty vague, and you just need to find a weapon it's similar enough to and use that damage. Sling stones seems similar enough to me. Also the feat is literally called Throw Anything, and since coins fall under the category of "anything" and can easily be thrown, I'd just give it a pass.

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

Mark D Griffin wrote:
Joel Flank wrote:
Also, Torack's tactics don't work. Throw anything makes you more effective when throwing ranged improvised weapons. A copper piece isn't something that would qualify.
I think coins work just fine with Throw Anything. The rules for improvised weapons are pretty vague, and you just need to find a weapon it's similar enough to and use that damage. Sling stones seems similar enough to me. Also the feat is literally called Throw Anything, and since coins fall under the category of "anything" and can easily be thrown, I'd just give it a pass.

I'm going to respectfully disagree here. An improvised sling stone could work...to replace a sling stone, but that's no longer thrown, it's a projectile weapon. If you threw a sling stone, I know I'd rule it wouldn't do any damage, it's just not an effective thrown weapon, and neither would a coin. But no need to take what's at best a GM call and turn it into a thread de-reailment.

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

Congratulations again for making it this far, Mikko! No matter what happens, Paizo will be lucky to have you onboard as a writer!

Looks like my brother hit this one first, just like with Robert's, so I won't repeat anything he said.

VIGIL! My proposal was set in Vigil too! ^_^

Your proposal lacks the narrative of some of the others. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but it makes it harder for me to digest. There's something to be said for your short-to-the-point-no-questions-asked-sentence structure, though, I think that's one of the way you're able to pack so much stuff into such a short space.

I lied, I will reiterate something Nick said: Vigil doesn't seem like a good fit for this story arch. There are many many ways the Vigil authorities maintain the Lawful Good social contract within city walls, and many of the developments in this adventure violate either those defense mechanisms or common sense (I didn't really buy the whole "set up a fake attack on the city using two separate evil organizations, one of which is controlled by my half-sibling, all to swoop in and save the day" motivation for your primary villain). This may work in a more morally-ambiguous setting, but from what I understand pretty much everyone in Vigil is on more or less the same page about the crusade.

Really wonderful work this whole season, Mikko. You should be very, very proud of all you've accomplished, and will continue to accomplish after this week. Best of luck!


I heard about RPG superstar from a colleague a little while ago and wanted have a look. Since only four are left, I try to comment each. I'm not a designer and so commenting just from player's perspective. I'll focus on three things: fun (memorable combat and so on), variety (use of different monsters, places and so on) and villain(s).

Ok, so the action start with rival gang then halflings themselves. Description gives a nice idea about the combat, probably most detailed and interesting combat terrain so far compared to the first two proposals I read. Why the key? Then some investigation. Quite many skill checks and different skills, something for everyone not just skill monkey. Very CSI. Then combat, and to next place. Dead critters and (probably) interesting terrain. Weird monster but ok now we know what halflings were going to do with the key.

Second part. Second mission isn't exciting sounding but the orc tower and bar brawl, dwarf karaoke(?) and chase (also in reverse) sound really really fun and varied. ORcs attack is big, you went through loopholes to make it work, but have to admit it sounds epic that swarm of orcs spreads into city then are easily killed by forces of good but not before PCs swoop in to kill steal the boss.

War meeting is a nice recap, again different skills can be used. Rescuing an orc from paladins? Huh how many times do you get to do that? Fun idea. But good players will have trouble fighting paladins, expect a more difficult combat because they have to use non-lethal force and free actions to apologize, lol. Then facing villain; checkerboard floor sounds fitting for intelligent "chessmaster" villain.

In short, you used loopholes to make this fit in Vigil, but the action is hands down absolutely the best, most FUN, most imaginative of these three proposals I read so far. An non-combat encounter aren't just "listen to this dialog" or "make one skill check" like the other two proposals I read.

As a player, fun is what I want. Good luck in voting!

Dark Archive

Alright, this is a tough one to judge; I concur with others that it probably shouldn't be placed in Vigil. Besides, it's a boring place anyway; way too goody-goody for my taste, which is why I'm not fond of certain FR cities, either.

Mikko, your proposal has some really great elements. It features the most exciting combat encounters out of all the four entries, and I just love the centianima!

The background would be more believable if Sirana was insane, or had some other motivation for her actions. But I love well-written mystery investigations, and this is one, so I think I could make it work for my players.

My biggest problem is the scope of these events, namely Knights of Ozem and all the other good-aligned NPCs. As James said, the PCs would be irrelevant to the defense of this city, and I fear at least my (veteran) players would also take the hint and pass the ball to the "big guns", so to speak. It would be a different matter if this was a high-level adventure, but low-level PCs are not supposed to tackle armies, and I think at least experienced players would see it that way and back down.

Having said all that, I think this is my favorite proposal, and I'll definitely vote for you!

Pidetään peukkuja ja toivotaan että voitat, kaima! Kunhan vain eivät kaikki tuolla rapakon toisella puolella vetäisi hommaa kotiinpäin... ;)

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka motteditor

As far as level goes, I'm not sure if it's a big deal that this might work better at a higher level. James mentioned in his review of "On Fertile Ground" that he'd have Robert develop it at higher levels, which obviously wasn't a major issue for him, since he still recommended it. I don't see any reason Mikko couldn't do the same if he wins and James wants.

Personally, I think this works in Vigil, but James also suggested moving Victoria's location (again, obviously not a problem as he recommended that module too) so that could probably be done here as well if it's deemed necessary (though again, I don't think it is).

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

Mikko, you were a favorite of mine coming into this round, and it's easy to see why. You are a great designer. While I didn't like your item, you were easily one of the best in the second and third rounds. Your design is also the best in this round, having the most varied combat encounters, far and away the best non combat encounters, and the coolest monster.

Unfortunately there is more to a good module pitch than design. The story didn't grab me at all, and as many people have pointed out this story wouldn't work in this city with 3rd level PCs. I'm sorry to say that I won't be voting for you to be the RPGSuperstar, even though I think your design skills are superstar. Good luck in the contest and in the future.

Dark Archive

Jacob W. Michaels wrote:

As far as level goes, I'm not sure if it's a big deal that this might work better at a higher level. James mentioned in his review of "On Fertile Ground" that he'd have Robert develop it at higher levels, which obviously wasn't a major issue for him, since he still recommended it. I don't see any reason Mikko couldn't do the same if he wins and James wants.

Personally, I think this works in Vigil, but James also suggested moving Victoria's location (again, obviously not a problem as he recommended that module too) so that could probably be done here as well if it's deemed necessary (though again, I don't think it is).

Very good points, Jacob. I was kind of thinking the same when I read James' comments... why couldn't Mikko do the same with his proposal?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Asgetrion wrote:
Jacob W. Michaels wrote:

As far as level goes, I'm not sure if it's a big deal that this might work better at a higher level. James mentioned in his review of "On Fertile Ground" that he'd have Robert develop it at higher levels, which obviously wasn't a major issue for him, since he still recommended it. I don't see any reason Mikko couldn't do the same if he wins and James wants.

Personally, I think this works in Vigil, but James also suggested moving Victoria's location (again, obviously not a problem as he recommended that module too) so that could probably be done here as well if it's deemed necessary (though again, I don't think it is).

Very good points, Jacob. I was kind of thinking the same when I read James' comments... why couldn't Mikko do the same with his proposal?

He absolutely could... but the nature of this proposal seems to me to be really much more appropriate for Vigil than the other location. AKA: There'd have to be more adjustments to this adventure's plot if it was shifted away from Vigil than there would be for the other.


What cruel irony, having stronger tie-in to city than the competitors weakened his position.

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7

I would not say that, it is not the tie in that weakens this proposal, it is the fact that the second part of the adventure is too grand for the group. That there are just too many NPCs around to marginalize anything the PCs could do is just adding injury to insult...

We had a GM once that did this in most of our weekend long sessions. In the end the PCs would be shoved aside to let "the real powers" handle the problem. Powerful angels, archmages and even deus ex machinae were invoked because the final villain/encounter would easily have killed the whole group...

Everyone hated it and we had a long talk after a especially nasty Level 20 adventure.

This adventure reminds me of it and that is simply bad...

However I think it is nevertheless a great success to advance so far as a (presumably) non-nativer speaker. Well done!

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka motteditor

But again, as with another of the modules, the level could simply be bumped up, which would help solve part of that problem.

And I think if some of the development ideas get taken into consideration -- i.e. have the climax come DURING/AS PART OF the orc attack -- the PCs can be at the center of the action. They'd have some encounters with the orcs themselves, but they'd have to go stop the next facet of Sirana's plan while the rest of the city is dealing with the orcs (there'd need to be some tweaking involved -- either with exactly how far Sirana was willing to go or her control over the orcs -- but I think both of those could work).

Honestly, I thought the NPCs in this story were a bit less of a consideration than their role in Victoria's.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Arkos

Mikko! This is an excellent idea for a proposal! Mysteries work very well at these levels, and everyone wants to save the city. I like the misdirect here of showing a powerful NPC before we know she's the villain, and I really like her admittedly complex relationship with the faith of Iomedae. A power-grab in Vigil needs to feel significantly different than a power-grab in Corentyn, and I think you've done a good job here of working within believable motivations. She does feel more LN than LE to me, but I like this NPC!

That being said, I think that a threat to Vigil must involve the military, but adding an army and the government sidelines the PCs a little too much, especially at these levels. What I really want to do here is Investigate the Rook at level three, gaining some leads but never solving the mystery, and then eventually Ruin the Rook's Endgame around level seven. The storyline is excellent, but I think a module is too short in the life of a PC for the plot arc. I want this to be a trio of PFS scenarios at different tiers, or at least part of a Vigil AP in books 1 and 3.

You've got great characters, a fun setting, a crazy scary monster, but I think the overall scope of your plot is a little too much for a single story. Which means that I'm in the position of likely not voting for your submission while REALLY wanting to play through this story. I'm definitely going to have to think about this one! Great work, Mikko!

Dark Archive

James Jacobs wrote:
Asgetrion wrote:
Jacob W. Michaels wrote:

As far as level goes, I'm not sure if it's a big deal that this might work better at a higher level. James mentioned in his review of "On Fertile Ground" that he'd have Robert develop it at higher levels, which obviously wasn't a major issue for him, since he still recommended it. I don't see any reason Mikko couldn't do the same if he wins and James wants.

Personally, I think this works in Vigil, but James also suggested moving Victoria's location (again, obviously not a problem as he recommended that module too) so that could probably be done here as well if it's deemed necessary (though again, I don't think it is).

Very good points, Jacob. I was kind of thinking the same when I read James' comments... why couldn't Mikko do the same with his proposal?
He absolutely could... but the nature of this proposal seems to me to be really much more appropriate for Vigil than the other location. AKA: There'd have to be more adjustments to this adventure's plot if it was shifted away from Vigil than there would be for the other.

And what if it was designed for higher levels, e.g. 7-9? Wouldn't that work better, especially if Mikko adjusted the villain's motive/demeanor and rewrote the necromantic lab part? And IMO the lab isn't out of place in Vigil, but then again I try to steer away from "there can't be any evil NPCs or thieves' guilds or secret shrines in this LG city" type of boring cliches (as seen in certain areas in FR). I know Vigil is special, but still I think it's kind of hard to swallow that there would be no evil cabals/cults or spies in the city...

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

Congratulations, Mikko! Based on your other rounds, I have high expectations for this entry. You're in the Final Round of RPG Superstar!

I think your plot has some very clever elements, and your new monster is very creepy-cool. I dig creepy-cool. The adventure has some moving parts that ultimately seem to work against it, transitioning the story and making it anticlimactic. However, working through that problem might yield a more organic transition and that would make this one of the better adventure plots I've read in a while.

Name is cliche. You can do better!

Having said that, I have never really bought the "fund raiser" trope, where the vigilant loyalist gains money and recruits to his cause because he stages enemy activity, essentially betraying his duty in a misguided effort to execute his duty. Secondly, you base the adventure on another assumption I don't easily buy: that the who's-who of Lastwall have grown complacent in their duties. Are they not described as "never forget" paladin-types?

Trying to combine the orcs of Beltzen with the spooky forces of the Whispering Tyrant is also a little too LotR for me. You have many great ideas, and I think you have bright future ahead of you. But I also think you have tied your adventure too closely to themes that are either derivative, or readers just won't fully buy into. With that in mind, I am unlikely to vote for your entry over the others, but I'll keep looking things over and let you know!

Good luck, my friend!

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

Knight's Gambit
The Good: We get a little intrigue, a cool as heck monster, and some excellent prior round tie ins.
The Bad: I'm not buying the betrayal... maybe if it was an infiltrator from Chellax or there was a possession of some kind?
The Ugly: Unfortunately the core of your idea invites direct comparison to Victoria's and her names and some of her concepts have a little more appeal.
Overall: You got outshone a little this round,plain and simple. That said this is a fairly good effort and your round 2 and 3 performances might be enough to win.

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

Congratulations Mikko,

I think you have definitely nailed Vigil for the seed of your adventure. I think it also allows for low level PCs a chance to work in this powerful city. There may be too many things going on here: chase scenes, secret tunnels, orc invasion, and Gilder to frame for it. But you have given the developers enough choices they can help you decide which to keep and which to drop. The presentation also shows a level of detail I've come to expect and should also make it easy for a developer to help you along. The downside is if the PCs don't use these elements it has wasted words. I dinnae think this is the case though. Any of these not germane to this adventure could be something to explore or sidetrack after the PCs have finished and waiting for the next one to start.

The title is weak (especially with the quip in the coins), reference gives the plot away once the PCs meet Lady Sirana (though 'Sir Erram' might be a red herring for the chess savvy).

Overall I found reading this proposal the easiest and the most complete/developed of the four. Well done!

Keep.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

A big "thank you" to everyone who have voted for me, offered useful critique or otherwise supported me. :)

I'll try to answer individual questions a little later.

I hope to see you all again in next year's RPGSS, and I'll probably be seeing some of you much sooner!

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