Daughters of Fury


Round 4: Submit an adventure proposal

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7 aka Belladonna Blue

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The Daughters of Fury

A new tribe rises in the Hold of Belzken. Its dark matriarch is not yet prepared to confront the crusaders of Vigil, but the infernal powers she called upon for her strength force her hand by demanding a prize she let slip years ago. There are devils in Lastwall, and the nightmare of an organized orc tribe looms with Hell's puppet strings attached. A mysterious half-orc woman is at the center of these troubles, but can the player characters discern why before more of Vigil's crusaders and citizens fall to the Daughters of Fury?

The Daughters of Fury is an urban adventure designed for a party of four 3rd-level adventurers. By its end, the PCs are expected to reach 5th level.

Adventure Background

Kelseph never proved herself in her father's eyes. Wrogog the Red Fury, chieftain of the fledgling Fury tribe, hated her as his only progeny, and doubly for being a daughter. Kelseph's vengeful desires might have been heard by the Queen of the Erinyes regardless, but Kelseph's own child truly drew the attention of Eiseth and her servants.

She'd borne a daughter by one of her father's slaves, a golden-eyed knight named Adam Adil. An unwilling participant, he never told the child, Vegazi, he was her father. As she grew, he saw she inherited none of her mother's savagery and taught her somewhat of Iomedae and Vigil. Neither Wrogog nor Kelseph recognized an aasimar, else they might have paid more attention to his offspring. The diluted divinity in Vegazi's blood coupled with her resistance to her savage ancestry made too delicious a prize for an erinyes to pass up.

Shayle, patient and crafty for her kind, schemed for two prizes: the soul of Kelseph's daughter and a foothold for Eiseth in the demon-influenced, violently patriarchal Hold of Belzken. Subtly, she allowed Kelseph's path to cross with Chelaxian refugee, Gallus Crevac. Gallus bargained for his life with the offer of infernal power. He summoned a devil for Kelseph, and Shayle appeared. Afterwards, Gallus fled to Vigil, realizing he'd been an unwitting pawn in Hell's plot, and threw himself to the Vigilants' mercy.

The bargain granted Kelseph the might of a half-fiend and a magical weapon inspired by the erinyes: an angelfall bow. In exchange, Shayle would return in fifteen years' time to collect one of Kelseph's children. Secretly, Shayle left behind a phiam with Vegazi to protect her interests.

Phiam:

Known as a curse devil, the phiam is small and vaguely female with tattered wings and wrinkled jet-black skin. Its eyes are pinpricks of green light within vacant sockets, visible even when the rest of it isn't. The phiam is a construct of Hell, outside the normal hierarchy. They exist as carriers of generational curses and artificers of willing sacrifices, attached to individual mortals and families to bend them toward specific purposes. Skilled at remaining undetected, it uses illusions, curses, and subtle telepathic communication to accomplish its purpose.

Kelseph overthrew her father's tribe and renamed it the Daughters of Fury. Adil died in captivity, spurring Vegazi to take her own freedom and escape with as many slaves as she could. Kelseph hardly noticed, and continued to grow her power. She had six tiefling daughters, a growing horde, and a gradual trend towards order. She began organizing. On the cusp of the Daughters of Fury becoming a true threat, Shayle returned for Vegazi.

With little choice, Kelseph bargained with her soul for time to retrieve Vegazi and keep her power, including the limited aid of Hell in the form of lesser devils. Kelseph fears her tribe seeing her so compromised, and took only her four eldest daughters with her.

Vegazi has survived on the borders, never belonging anywhere, but feels her mother's infernal past has returned to haunt her. She remembers Adil's old prayers and talk of the Sancta Iomedaea, and believes it the only place she'll be safe, but the phiam dogs every step...

Introduction

The adventure takes place in and around Vigil. The PCs start in the city and may be there for several reasons.


  • They want to join the crusade, requiring approval of the Martials and Tribunes, as well as the return of Aylunna Varvatos from clergy business in Vellumis.
  • An old associate, Acolyte Ovir, asked the PCs to come during Aylunna's absence. He's anxious something will happen and intimidated by running the cathedral for several days.
  • An old friend, Lora the cartographer, writes to the PCs complaining her father won't leave his border home and works on his book all day, and she wants them to talk sense into him.
  • Venture-Captain Evni Zongnoss has heard about not just demons, but devils in the Hold, and the Harrow confirms trouble brewing. She puts out a call for any available agents to come investigate.

Note that until PCs swear their oaths, they can't go armed or armored on Vigil's streets. Their equipment is held at the gates.

Part I: Hell's Quarry

The party witnesses a Vigilant scouting party, headed by Precentor Martial Keyron Saiville (CG male human ranger 2/fighter 4/low templar 3), thunder home through Southgate with a half-orc woman thrown over a horse and a flock of lesser host devils (gaav) on their heels. The hallow effect on the gates repels most, others are fended off at the walls, but one slips inside and falls near the PCs, requiring the use of improvised weapons to slay it.

The scouting party heads to the Sancta Iomedaea, where investigation or enlistment by Gallus Crevac (LN male human ex-cleric of Asmodeus 5/expert 2) should lead the party. Gallus goes to the half-orc to apply his infernal lore in questioning and determining threat, and wants extra bodies in the room. Acolyte Ovir (LG human male cleric of Iomedae 3) attends as well; if the PCs are here for him, he sighs that he knew something would happen.

The half-orc, Vegazi, (CG female half-orc ranger 2), is under the phiam's bestow curse and can't easily answer questions, but she relates what she can of her mother and the Daughters of Fury, but doesn't know why she's targeted. Gallus elucidates on various devils and the vagaries of infernal contracts, but fails to mention curse devils or the Eiseth symbology in Vegazi's described nightmares, though a Knowledge (religion) check may catch it.

Gallus and Vegazi don't recognize each other, but the phiam recalls him; it telepathically communicates the misfortune to befall him if he interferes with Shayle's plan, and from that point forward, he surreptitiously feeds the phiam information to complete its goal up to the very limits of his Shield-Mark. It wants a location where Vegazi could be fetched. He suggests the party escort her to the Pathfinder Lodge. Ovir agrees, as Evni Zongnoss is a potent cleric and harrower, and may be of more help and information. More importantly, to the phiam, the lodge is under the southeastern wall between towers, leaving it out of range of the constant hallow protection and becomes the point of attack for the first of Kelseph's daughters.

Evni Zongnoss (NG female gnome cleric of Desna 5/harrower 2) receives the party at the lodge gladly; if they are agents responding to her call, she tells them it seems the investigation came to them. Evni cures Vegazi, then turns to the Harrow to divine what the devils want with her. She gleans a grim reading that ends with an assault on the lodge.

Ogash (CE female tiefling barbarian 4) has several potions of fly to keep up with the gaav flock she commands. She sweeps over the southeastern wall while the gaav distract the guards on top. Crashing into the lodge with two of the devils, the party must make use of the magical armaments decorating the room to defeat Ogash while Evni protects Vegazi from the host devils. Vegazi goes back to the Sancta Iomedaea for her protection.

Part II: Family Resemblance

That night, the phiam targets a PC for a nightmare. Knowledge (religion) rolls may reveal symbols linked to Eiseth within the dreams.

Unrest rises in Vigil over Vegazi's presence. The people are divided over what Vegazi is and what to do with her. She has defenders, but the phiam is raising agitation and superstition. Citizens fear for kin beyond the walls, leading to Lora (LG female human expert 1) approaching the party, or, if they responded to her letter, imploring them to hurry, about going out to convince her father to come into Vigil.

Lora's father, Grev (NG male human fighter 4), refuses to go at first, but showing interest in his book persuades him. He's a retired Vigilant that once served under Captain Adil, and he's writing of his experiences. He regales the party and shows excerpts all the way to Vigil; while a terrible writer, he's a good illustrator and PCs seeing Grev's portrait of Adil can make Perception checks to see resemblance to Vegazi.

Another of Kelseph's daughters, Ilka (NE female tiefling druid 5), attacks them on the return trip. She tracked the party and decided if Grev was worthy of escort, he might be valuable. She drops ash storm to conceal the abduction attempt and attacks the party with her boar companion and summoned dire bats. If Ilka gets Grev, the party can attempt to get him back; finding Ilka's camp leads to a battle with shapeshifting imps and reveals the Daughters are keeping separated.

In Vigil, a gaav drops a head with a bloody note. Kelseph threatens to send more unless Vegazi comes out by dawn, starting with Grev if he's taken.

The PCs can accept their reward from Lora, if they brought Grev in, and decide with whom to share what they learned. Arguments and debates spring up all over Vigil over what should be done about Kelseph's threat.

Alternative Path:

Watcher-Lord Ulthun II closes the city and it's intended for Vigil to endure a day of Kelseph's ghastly actions. PCs might take their protests to Ulthun's ears, however, and, though difficult, might persuade him to let them take custody of Vegazi in the morning and draw Kelseph out. This route accelerates the adventure timeline; skip the mob encounter and Keyron's concern about Gallus and the phiam. If the party hasn't dealt with them, later encounters will be a little harder. Pick up with the Yvogga encounter that night, but without any need for Keyron to choose disobedience and risk punishment.

Gallus extends an invitation to the PCs to use his library, suggesting research might help. He secretly hopes they'll discover information on the phiam on their own and get it off his back.

Red Archive:

The nickname of the squat, round tower where Gallus Crevac resides and scribes, collects, and trades numerous books and scrolls. He is accepted in Vigil, if not well-liked, yet when a crusader needs planar lore or an understanding of darker deities, Gallus is an admittedly better source than most alternatives. The archive provides bonuses to skill checks made to understand a question about Knowledge (religion) or Knowledge (planes), especially pertaining to evil deities or outsiders.

Vegazi tries to leave the city later that evening, but is caught and dragged to the Market Square by what passes for a mob in Vigil: a loud, shouting philosophical debate. The PCs hear about the ruckus from anywhere in the city, and arrive in time to hear or join in some of the arguments before the Watchknights break it up.

Part III: Sacrifice

In the morning, Keyron summons the party to the Watcher's Tor. They overhear a tense conversation between him and the Watcher-Lord over what to do with Vegazi; Ulthun refuses to negotiate, but Keyron wants to bait Kelseph and draw her out. When they notice the party, they are commended for their accomplishments and Keyron takes them aside to talk. They may share notes on connections and new information, but Keyron called them to discuss investigating Gallus and the phiam, if one or the other is still a threat.

Investigating Gallus:

The PCs can do this at any time. Investigations reveal he is a former Asmodean cleric that renounced his faith for sanctuary in Vigil. He's been distracted and busy since the devils attacked, and following him reveals he avoids going home. Gallus arrived in Vigil fifteen years ago – around the same time Vegazi says her mother made her bargain. If confronted and/or threatened, he confesses everything, begs to be protected, and tries to warn them about the phiam before it curses him. If the PCs catch the phiam or rid Gallus of its afflictions, he gives them exact details of Kelseph's bargain and some about Shayle.

Chasing the Phiam:

This can be done at any time. Tough to pinpoint, the phiam may be found by Perception checks to catch glimpses of its eyes. It's difficult to track, but possible. An easier way is found through research or Gallus: the phiam is linked to Vegazi's life force, and injury to her, even self-inflicted, will summon it. Vegazi assists any plan to draw out her tormentor. Once cornered and negated of its invisibility, the phiam is easy to dispatch or question – though it only knows what it has done, and what its creator, Shayle, wanted it to know.

Not long after the meeting, the head Kelseph promised lands in Vigil, followed by another every few hours in a test of Vigil's resolve. The PCs won't get another chance to prepare for the final run of encounters at the adventure's end.

Keyron sends for the PCs in the early hours of the morning before the sun rises and has them come to the northern gatehouse. He meets them outside with their equipment and has them arm themselves; his men captured a daughter but she refuses to talk. He wants to see if the presence of those who dispatched two of her sisters makes a difference. Pressing Keyron gets him to admit events are wearing on him and his frustration is mounting.

When they go inside, they find Yvogga (LE female tiefling sorcerer 4) slipped her bonds and put her guardsmen to sleep, slaying them with Keyron outside. She summons host devils from a scroll to find Vegazi, and Keyron goes after them, leaving the PCs to handle the sorceress. Summoned lemures and Yvogga's imp familiar keep the party busy, but she surrenders quickly.

If questioned, she reveals the details of her mother's bargain, but the indirect communication methods they've used prevent her from knowing exactly where Kelseph is. If magically compelled, she admits she was a diversion, as were the gaav; her sister, Bax, abducted Vegazi.

Keyron returns angry, the gaav slain but Vegazi gone. To stop Kelseph, he asks the PCs to do what he can't; he'll reward them, vouch for their oaths if they want, but it's the Oathless he needs.

Where's Vegazi?:

Bax (NE female tiefling rogue 5) sneaked in under the cover of Yvogga's capture and used her cape of the mountebank to take Vegazi to Eiseth's Roost. Vegazi goes willingly, unless the PCs have made an effort to help her and be kind. If they have, Vegazi refuses to go with Bax and her cape won't work; she has to knock Vegazi out and go on foot.

If the party agrees, Keyron smuggles them out through the harbor. If Bax couldn't use her cape, they see a barbazu taking Vegazi from her on the Strand and heading southwest. Bax confronts the party at Sophronia's Steeple, but vanishes once the devil is clear.

But We Saved Her!:

Resourceful PCs might stop Vegazi's abduction and shouldn't be deprived of that. If Vegazi is plucked from her, Kelseph, at the end of her deadline, makes bloody demands of the PCs and will abduct NPC friends to get them to face her. The final battle at Eiseth's Roost occurs, but without Shayle involved.

The party can track the devil or use locate creature to pinpoint Vegazi. It leads them to rocky hills southwest of Vigil where they must climb up a rock face, battling Bax, if she's alive, and gaav as they go. They meet a barbazu at the top, then find Eiseth's Roost, a place smelling of brimstone and devoid of life. Shayle hovers above a large flat rock where Kelseph (LE female half-fiend orc fighter 7) restrains Vegazi.

The final confrontation pits the PCs against first Kelseph in battle, then Shayle in wits. Unless they attack outright, the erinyes tries to convince the party to sacrifice Vegazi themselves. If that fails, she appeals to Vegazi's sense of worthlessness to convince her to come willingly. If the PCs have not worked much with Vegazi, she might consider accepting, leading to opposed Diplomacy rolls with the erinyes to convince Vegazi otherwise. If the party has been kind to Vegazi and helped restore her confidence, then there's no chance Shayle convinces her. Shayle attacks in a difficult battle, but Vegazi joins the fight with her mother's bow.

Angelfall Bow:

This ebony long bow is lined with obsidian touches and black feathers. Constructed to fight outsiders, it also grounds flying creatures and dispels [light] effects.

Conclusion

With Kelseph dead and another threat dashed on the walls of Vigil, it seems cause for celebration, yet the tone is somber. Memorials are held for those lost and regret conveyed if Vegazi ultimately chose Hell.

Nonetheless, the PCs have earned the right to join the crusade if they wish, and a door into the Pathfinder Society could be opened as well. Keyron rewards the party as promised and accepts punishment for his recklessness.

If Vegazi survives, she contemplates staying in Vigil. She gives the party the angelfall bow and rids herself of the memory.

Gallus, if exposed, has a date with the prison, but the PCs could be granted custody of him. There is a bounty on him in Cheliax, but the PCs could just as easily keep him as a lackey, or, perhaps, show mercy.

Still, there's one more thing: Kelseph had six daughters...

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 The Daughters of Fury

The Basics
Title: Excellent title! I immediately want to know who these “Daughters of Fury” are. Are they the villains? Are they people or locations or an organization? Intriguing! Upon finding out that they’re a tribe of tiefling orcs with ties to an erinyes... the title resolves itself to be perfect. Well done!

Location: Vigil is a logical choice for this adventure—it fits well with the plot and utilizes elements of the region quite well. Unfortunately, Vigil is also a POWERFUL city, and as such any plot that could legitimately threaten a city like this should be a high-level one. The storyline would work better if the entire thing were moved to a smaller town, perhaps one invented for this adventure, further south on the Lastwall/Belkzen border. That would, of course, mean we’d want to include a short gazetter of this new town in the adventure. That’s probably not all that bad of a thing, though.

Plot: VERY good. Love the characters and the storyline. At points (particularly the start) the PCs feel too much like they’re just accidentally along for the ride, though, and that needs to be shored up—make the PCs more key to the storyline. Give them things to do!

The Good

  • 1) The character names here are quite good. Naming NPCs is tough. You did a great job with these. The characters themselves are interesting as well; Vegazi as a half-orc half-aasimar is particularly cool, especially with how she’s torn between her two legacies and the influence of the devils (itself a third influence). Very interesting and complex character.
  • 2) Phiams are an excellent and interesting new addition to devilkind.
  • 3) There’s a lot of gender conflict going on here, and involving Hellish politics and elements in there is an excellent choice. Anyone who’s read the right boards at Paizo knows that gender equality is something of a passion for us here, and there’s a lot of great material in the subject to fuel motivations for characters, especially if it’s handled with maturity and elegance—as it seems to be from your proposal.
  • 4) Having Gallus Crevac now be a person of some social standing suddenly forced to face the repercussions of his past is a really cool element. In fact, the complex relationship between all the NPCs in this adventure are really interesting.
  • 5) The imagery of heads bearing messages landing in the town is cool. Might be even more freaky if the messages were delivered BY the heads, spoken aloud? Magic mouth works, but maybe they’re undead...
  • 6) The idea that the PCs need to spend the adventure building up Vegazi’s confidence and bolstering her so that she won’t succumb to Shayle’s subversive words in the final encounter is great.

Development Challenges

  • 1) Although the names for the NPCs are quite good, the way you introduce them can be confusing—it’s best to be clear that an NPC is an aasimar or orc or erinyes rather than try to be lyrical about how you write in a proposal like this. It’s a tricky case—I can see the reasons for showing off writing styles, but at the same point it’s important to be clear and concise. (I had to build a family tree sketch to keep track of the various characters, and that tells me that things need to be explained more clearly!)
  • 2) Belkzen isn’t really overly demon-influenced—most of the orcs there worship Rovagug or much more obscure orc deities... but shifting that doesn’t really hurt the adventure. I can still see an erinyes having an interest in gaining a foothold there. Just something to keep an eye on though.
  • 3) An aasimar named “Adam” is the one place your naming falls down. Not only does that make me think of our own Adam Daigle... but even more awkward, the idea of a “child of Heaven” named after Adam (aka, the dude from the garden of Eden in the Bible) seems a bit forced. Dropping the “Adam” and simply calling this character Adil seems an easy enough change.
  • 4) It’s okay to just start the adventure with the PCs in Vigil; no need to waste space coaching the GM on how to get the PCs to Vigil
  • 5) The PCs need a stronger intro into the adventure—they need to be active participants, not watching from the side. Starting with them traveling toward Vigil and coming across a Vigilant scouting party that’s been slaughtered by devils and seeing one lone half-orc woman being hounded by a gaav is a great intro—the PCs can defeat the last devil at which point the half-orc Vegazi can beg the PCs to finish the job the defeated Vigilants started and escort her to the city; this puts the PCs in the heart of the action from the start.
  • 6) We call sections in our adventures “Chapters,” not “Parts.”
  • 7) The idea that Kelseph has six tiefling daughters who serve as her thugs is cool—but these daughters have to be younger than Vegazi, so you might want to let the time before Shayle comes to collect Vegazi be more like 20 or 25 years than 15 years to allow all involved long enough to grow to an age where it’s not weird for them to have several class levels.
  • 8) Certain elements, particularly how large and city-wide some events in the adventure are, seem to suggest to me plots and themes that would be more appropriate for higher level (but not MUCH higher level) characters. Take care to balance this, since if things become too public in Vigil, there are more powerful NPCs than 3rd or 4th level PCs to turn to for help.
  • 9) A lot of the proposal details events that the PCs watch or are only involved in tangentially—there needs to be stuff for the PCs to do the whole time, and at the same time as events escalate in Vigil, they should not break verisimilitude by forcing the PCs to become Vigil’s only protectors—this is a city with LOTS of tough protectors, after all. At the same time, you don’t want to marginalize the PCs by making them adventure in the shadow of powerful NPCs. This is a cool plot, but again... with lower level PCs, it’s difficult and awkward at times. 9th level characters in Vigil (such as Keyron) need reasons to call upon low level PCs for aid—and giving the PCs more things to do in the first 2/3 of the adventure... essentially having that part of the adventure be used to establish themselves as “heroes of Vigil”... will help.
  • 10) The core conflict—that the Daughters of Fury are threatening the city of Vigil, has an almost fatal flaw. Vigil is not a pushover city. It’s not a particularly BIG city, but it’s the capital city of a nation that’s all about resisting and fighting orcs. Further, it’s the home town of the Knights of Ozem, and has stood for centuries against the forces of the Whispering Tyrant. The town of Vigil is VERY good at protecting itself... and a small orc tribe that we want a group of low to mid level PCs to have a chance to stand up against is simply not going to be able to threaten Vigil. That said, the rest of the adventure’s story is really compelling and interesting—if this adventure proposal wins, I really think the best bet would be to move the scene from Vigil to a smaller town on the Lastwall border, one made up specifically for this adventure.
  • 11) While the story is cool... it feels pretty linear. Things don’t progress as much due to the PCs pushing the action, but more as a linked train of events that the PCs deal with one at a time. It’d be nice for there to be some sandbox elements or exploration sections of the adventure here and there to break up the linearity of the storyline.
  • 12) The sixth daughter—this is a fun “sequel ending,” but I’d rather have the adventure be self-contained. All six daughters should appear in the adventure.

Final Thoughts
Excellent story in this adventure. The biggest flaw is that it’s not really a great one to take place in a powerful city like Vigil. If this adventure proposal wins, I’d like to shift the scene from Vigil to a new town, a smaller one that can not only be appropriately menaced by the small but violent Daughters of Fury, but also one that will need to look to the PCs for aid and protection. Furthermore, there needs to be more for the PCs to do, more to explore and less linear storyline progression. That said, if these two concerns are addressed, I think this could be a REALLY interesting adventure, especially since it lets us explore a part of the world (Lastwall) that we’ve not done much with, and since it lets us focus on some classic bad guys (orcs and devils) we’ve not done much with.

I strongly recommend "Daughters of Fury" for consideration as the winner of RPG Superstar 2014.


Congratulations for making it to this stage, Victoria! I enjoyed the opportunity to read your adventure proposal. "Daughters of Fury" is a strong, original story with well-drawn characters.

The biggest concern with a character-driven story like this is simple: Does the adventure present the players with the opportunity to discover the critical relationships, and does it give them a reason to care? I think you cover the basics pretty well, but the ideal execution of an adventure like this is to sock the players a couple of times with new pieces of information that make them reexamine what they thought they knew. In other words, you need to be careful about when and how the various pieces of the backstory are revealed. I worry that the players don't have a clear moment of discovery when it becomes clear that Vegazi's soul is about to be collected for her mother's debt. (Having Yvogga spill the secret doesn't seem as satisfying as I would like it to be.)

I also worry a bit that there might not be enough to do in the adventure; it's pretty linear, and there aren't many distinct encounters or decision points.

Some of the stronger points of "Daughters of Fury" are:
- It's the best backstory and setup of the adventure proposals, with the potential for some interesting revelations of relationships.
- The adventure offers some tough moral dilemmas, such as what to do when the bad guys threaten innocents to get Vegazi to surrender.
- The use of female villains is interesting and well-done.

All four finalists in the competition have presented strong adventure proposals--we have to choose the best out of a strong field. Someone has to win, and it can't be everybody. So, with some regret:

I do not recommend "Daughters of Fury" as the winner of RPG Superstar 2014.

Contributor

Hi, Victoria! I enjoyed reading "Daughters of Fury" and thought it was an excellent proposal. 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.

2999 words, eh? I like people who live on the edge.

Your introductory paragraph managed to create an atmosphere of danger and excitement while at the same time leaving me utterly confused. Your second sentence (“Its dark matriarch…”) is too long. I appreciate a compound sentence as much as the next judge, but when you put too much information into one sentence you risk losing its meaning.

Are the mysterious half-orc woman and the dark matriarch the same person? Are the new tribe and the organized orc tribe with Hell’s puppet strings (great phrase) the same tribe? Use their names for clarity. I don’t mean to rewrite sections of your (or anyone’s) adventure proposal, but consider the following:

Quote:
Belanna, the dark matriarch of the newly-formed orc tribe Voyager, dreams of the day when she can destroy the crusaders of Vigil. Though her troops are not quite ready, she must nevertheless make her move. The devils who granted her the power to gather this tribe are calling their debt due. The threat of the Voyager tribe, with Hell’s puppet strings attached, looms over the unsuspecting souls in Lastwall.

That’s not meant to be better writing by any stretch (as you can tell by my made-up names I haven’t even read beyond the first paragraph of your proposal yet) but to show how too much mystery leads to confusion which can put the reader off. The sample paragraph keeps the ominous tone you created but makes it a little clearer as to what exactly is happening here. (Assuming I got it right. I hope I got it right?)

I hope you don’t take my suggestions as severe criticism. It took me a long time to learn how to structure my writing to be clear as well as interesting, and I thought a specific example might help you see what I’m getting at.

Now on to the adventure!

I like the backstory, though I think it goes on too long. There’s a whole lot of names coming at me and I don’t know who’s the most important. I assume Kelseph is the main villain because she gets the first line/paragraph. The mention of ‘Shayle’ in the third paragraph confused me too—who is Shayle? I was able to figure it out by going back a line. Consider what the GM needs to know and what can be revealed in the adventure. Spell out who the most important character is (usually the villain) and exactly what they want. Beautiful writing is fine, but not at the expense of clarity.

The phiam is a very cool monster. I like the concept and the appearance.

Part I starts off with a bang, but there’s a slump between the devil attack on the front gate (I love the idea of the improvised battle with the gaav) and the attack on the Pathfinder lodge. The PCs should have a way to affect the interrogation or interact with the NPCs beyond watching before they leave for the lodge.

I think the idea of a passel of orc-descended tiefling women is HOLY COW AWESOME. The flavor and excitement of your villains is great. I would love to play this adventure—it would be even stronger with a name and capsule description of each Daughter. There could be the Daughter Who Puts Spikes on Everything and the Daughter With Flaming Hair and the Daughter Who Always Wears Way Too Much Perfume. I also appreciate that you included an alternate storyline for if the PCs save Vegazi, because PCs are ALWAYS doing stuff like that to mess up your game. Once I considered running a game without PCs, but then I realized that was just writing a book.

By the end of the adventure you’ve really built up speed. There’s a lot happening and the PCs are in the thick of it. While more than a few of the encounters require someone to basically tell the PCs what to do (consider the number of times the PCs are “sent for” or “asked to”), the events themselves are exciting. Just keep in mind what happens if the PCs say “no” or go off on their own.

The title is great; punchy and very cool.

Congratulations on your excellent entry! I recommend “Daughters of Fury” as my second choice for winner of RPG Superstar 2014.

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

My first issue with this entry is that the PCs seem secondary - it is a family's story, and the PCs are not the focus at all. Even in the climax, I get the impression that it was written to give Vegazi a heroic moment of resistance - which is a good story for Vegazi, and not the PCs. Secondly, I keep getting the impression that I was supposed to know something prior to NPCs being introduced. It was a nagging mental hitch, and I found myself going back multiple times to find out if I had missed something.

It is not a bad entry at all, but I strongly doubt I will cast my vote for it.

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 Victoria,

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.

First of all, the module name doesn't do much for me. It's OK, but nothing really grabs me. I know the classic advice from Neil Spicer is to focus on the antagonists or location, and you do the former, but there just doesn't feel like there's that much magic there to me that makes me want to dig deep.

Vigil! Cool. One of my favorite areas of the towns that were presented, so I'm excited about that. Unfortunately, I have to admit, that may've been the high point for me.

This was the first pitch I looked at but I actually stopped reading mid-way through the adventure background on my first go-through. It's really confusing, I think. You write "Kelseph's own child truly drew the attention of Eiseth and her servants. She'd borne a daughter by one of her father's slaves, a golden-eyed knight named Adam Adil." But I don't know whether the "she" that starts the second sentence refers to Kelseph or Kelseph's child. I think unfortunately, a lot of characters are introduced here and they lose me. I think you could have saved some work by wording it a little better (again, making it clear who all the pronouns refer to), but did we even need Wrogog's name? He's never mentioned again other than this one paragraph. I was also thrown just a touch by devils; obviously they can appear in places other than Cheliax, but they're just not the enemy I tend to most associate with Vigil. That's a small issue, though.

Phiam seems like a fine new monster. Not super exciting, especially in terms of its name, but solid enough. I like that it's got a spot in the story of the module instead of just being a random monster the PCs happen to encounter for the first time in the course of this adventure. I think that's good module (or at least Superstar module) design.

Moving on into the story, you introduce the first non-villain NPC ... and he's 9th level! Wow. My immediately reaction is why are third-level PCs involved in this at all. I'm starting to worry about scope here. The next NPC is seventh level (even if two of them are NPC levels), which continues to worry me. Honestly, this problem seems to pop up throughout the module, IMO, and there are moment where I'm wondering why the NPCs are bothering with the PCs when they could probably handle these issues themselves more easily.

And again I think some of the writing is clunky early on -- "The scouting party heads to the Sancta Iomedaea, where investigation or enlistment by Gallus Crevac should lead the party" -- seems backward, almost. I had to read it twice to get your drift. I wonder if some of that is because you were ill while writing, or if you got too close to word count? I do feel like it cleared up a lot after these first few problems.

I like the idea the macguffin is a person, which makes a nice change. Vegazi seems like she could be a good character, though I think I'd like to have seen her have the Young template thrown on her. I suspect her class levels are probably walking a fine line since she needs to be tough enough that she's not killed accidentally over the course of the adventure but doesn't outshine the PCs. I think there's the same problem with Grev later: Again we have an NPC who's higher level than the PCs (though maybe by that point, he'll be the same level, I suppose). Making him old might've been a good choice to help that disparity a little.

I do like Gallus' conundrum. That worked really well for me; it may have been one of my favorite parts of the pitch.

Is the Red Archive supposed to be the bonus location? I think it's a good library, but I'm not sure there's enough there that gets me excited about it as anything more than just a library. I don't know if it even qualifies as a bonus location at all, to be honest.

I also really like the mob scene. That seems like fun, though I wonder if the PCs could be frustrated with a lack of options here? Are they going to be able to rescue Vegazi without turning themselves into Public Enemy No. 1? Still, one of my favorite bits.

Angelfall Bow seems like a nice item, though it does feel a bit like a unique item, which I don't like. I know there's precedent for it in previous Superstar competitions, but it limits the potentially coolest reward to one character. (Also, grounding flight effects feels a bit taken from the earthbind boots from Round 1 of this year, even if it thematically makes sense.)

While you've obviously done some great work over the contest, I'm sorry to say I'm just not a huge fan of "Daughters of Fury." There are some neat ideas, but I think most of it's going on with the PCs just kind of there. They don't seem like the drivers of the story. I know there are plenty of tales of characters caught up in something bigger than them, but I don't think it works in this case. I'm afraid I don't really seem myself voting for this one.

Shadow Lodge Star Voter Season 6

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James Jacobs wrote:
6) We call sections in our adventures “Chapters,” not “Parts.”

A quick look at We Be Goblins Too has them listed as "Parts" !

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

Avatar-1 wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
6) We call sections in our adventures “Chapters,” not “Parts.”
A quick look at We Be Goblins Too has them listed as "Parts" !

Same in Doom Comes to Dustpawn. The word "chapter" isn't even in the book.

Sczarni

Great module Pitch. Too sleepy to read the other 3 yet but I'll try and squeeze one in during my lunch break tomorrow. Good luck and congrats yet again on getting to the last round!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Amber Scott wrote:
Your second sentence (“Its dark matriarch…”) is too long. I appreciate a compound sentence as much as the next judge, but when you put too much information into one sentence you risk losing its meaning.

I don't know if I'm speaking for myself, for other non-native speakers as well or even for some native speakers, but I find your language quite hard to read. I don't mind rereading a sentence now and then, but when I have to do it too often, I lose interest. Both the construction of your sentences and your choice of words makes your language difficult. I love it when you use some fancy words here or there, but too much of a good thing is not a good thing anymore.

I'm sorry to say that I didn't completely read your proposal because of this. I wish you the best of luck in this competition, but unfortunately I won't be voting for you. If you do win, I hope you write the adventure in an easier-to-read language.


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).

Improvised weapon combat is a nice pick but against devil with DR and flight, not sure if its fun to try to throw a chair or bucket at it. It gets confusing after that part, so many NPCs and long sentences. RP encounter sounds ok but I don't know how much PCs are involved or just listening. Ok, more gaavs. Flying barbarian sounds fun.

Part 2 has more NPCs, I'm increasingly confused trying to remember who's who. A few skill checks, Know religion and Perception, and some RP. The mob scene is interesting and tiefling druid an interesting opponent, but overall it seems there's very little to do in part 2. It's like the PCs are lead by nose and things happen.

Catching the phiam looks like a lot of guesswork. I fear players get frustrated if they don't know what to do. It's good to have some freedom of choice after the railroading, but it's not good when you don't know what to do.

Overall, there could be more for the PCs to do. More combat, more active role for PCs not just following the rails. The place with magical weaponry sounded more interesting than most of the other places, which were quite mundane. Good maps can make a difference, but judging by this proposal they don't sound so memorable. But judges liked it, if it wasn't confusing to read I probably would have liked more too. Good luck in voting!

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7

My favorite this year, though I had to read the introduction twice to discern who is who ("I am your father Luke").

The only flaw for me is that it will not be easy to design ways for the PCs to learn all of what lead to the current situation.

The Phiam is my favorite new addition, incredibly useful as family curses happen to be a pet peeve of mine.

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

Congratulations on making it this far, Victoria! 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 am delighted to see that you made it to the finals, and I am really looking forward to seeing your whole adventure proposal.

Things That Got Me Excited:
From a literary perspective, I think your proposal is the strongest of the four. This is a great story, period. The title is intriguing, the plot is gripping, the pacing is phenomenal, and the whole structure has a fantastically well-executed beginning, middle, and end. By far my favorite component are your characters; each one is fleshed out, complex, and capable of forming fascinating relationships with the PCs. Vegazi is a confused, lost soul who is being torn apart by her lineage, her perceived fate (damnation), and the scorn of Vigil's citizens (which kind PCs can overcome). Gallus is an endearing coward who is trying to escape his past but keeps making extremely human mistakes. Every one of these characters is pure gold, and I would love to roleplay every one of them. But to me, the most impressive part about your proposal is its literary scope. Not only is this a great story in its own right, it also touches upon some overarching and important social themes, such as gender equality, the power of self-esteem and supportive peers, etc. That's not just a cool adventure, that is a work of art. To me, a story this good is an unstoppable force. The definition of Superstar, IMHO.

The Phiam is a tremendously cool monster. Not only does it fill a new (and very appropriate) niche among the devils, but it features prominently throughout the adventure and really drives several aspects of the plot. You used the new monster requirement as a source of inspiration to enrich your proposal, rather than a chore you needed to add to meet the contest requirements. As Jacob W. Michaels mentioned, that is Superstar design.

I'm a big fan of Gallus' library as the bonus location as well. I've mentioned in other comments that I like optional locations that still have something to contribute to the overarching narrative, and I think yours does it the best. Not only is it a resource the PCs can use to research their foes, but it plays a huge role in fleshing out Gallus as a character.

I agree that the narrative is a little linear, but I don't see that as a huge problem. It reminds me of the last installment of Kingmaker: there's a lot going on and the PCs have a few different ways to deal with the situation(s), but it all falls on a relatively concrete timeline. Your description of the Alternative Path in case the PCs go straight to Ulthun shows that you can accommodate PCs choosing a new direction, so I think with some development you are more than capable of addressing concerns that the plot will railroad the players. As for Isaac and Jacob's points about the PCs not being in the center of the action, I personally don't think it's as much a flaw as they make it out to be. It reminds me a bit of ES IV: Oblivion: the player isn't the one who turns into a dragon, kills the demon lord and saves the world, but they still feel like their contribution was pivotal to the plot.

Things That Got Me Worried:
From a language perspective, I think your proposal is the weakest of the four. I will second MrVergee in that your writing was frustratingly difficult to read, and I am a native English speaker. I needed to reread several components in order to fully understand their meaning, and that was a real chore. It's very hard to decipher the relationships between all of the characters, especially when you describe them as "dark matriarch" or "Queen of the Erinyes" or other monikers before you even give them a name. Some of your sentences were worded in an extremely lyrical way, the most obvious being "Gallus, if exposed, has a date with the prison..." While useful for certain things (such as PC handouts or dialogue options), this is extremely distracting and confusing when trying to read mechanics and concrete background information. To me, language this difficult is an immovable object, and would usually cost you my vote; however, it's currently in balance with your awesome story, so it may be forgivable if the rest of the proposal holds strong.

I have the same concern for you that I had for Mikko: using Vigil for a 3rd level adventure is risky. As James Jacobs pointed out, Vigil is a military powerhouse, so any hostile force that even scratches the whitewash off its walls is going to obliterate a low-level party (if they ever see the action, since the city's high-level NPCs would probably fight off the invaders lickety-split). Overall you balance it well, but a couple of points concern me.

First, the mob encounter. The dynamic between the Vigilants and Vegazi screams "burn the witch!", which I adore; my favorite roleplaying encounter ever was a witch hunt my brother wrote, where the PCs had to redirect a violent mob about to burn the wrong person at the stake. However, Vigil does not seem like the kind of place where that kind of rabble would take place, since it violates the city's social contract (and likely more than a few Shield-Marks). Based on what you have written here I think this encounter would require a fair amount of work to make it appropriate for the city, though I think it would be well work the effort.

Second, the hook for fetching Grev back to Vigil. If fiends attacked the city and the phiam is flitting about creating unrest and strife, I feel like the city would be on red-alert and would be reluctant to let a group of newcomers (likely Oathless) come and go as they please. This isn't a crippling flaw, but the revisions needed to fix it serves as an example of the kind of work that would be necessary to make the pitch fit Vigil.

Overall:
I am really super impressed by how you constructed your whole proposal. You took the contest requirements and made them your own, and each mandatory component only made your submission stronger. I'm still not sure if my problems with the language are sufficient to lose my vote. In any case, you are definitely in my top 2, so hats off to you, M'lady.

Best of luck!

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

Congratulations again on making it this far, Victoria! Whatever happens, you should be proud of all you accomplished, and Paizo will be lucky to have you on staff!

I read this before Nick did, but then I had to run out for a meeting, and by the time I got back he had said basically everything I wanted to say. Super strong story and monster, not so strong writing. Writing, however, can be fixed, whereas creativity is a bit harder to bolster externally (it's like they say in basketball, "You can't teach height").

Best of luck with the voters!

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 entry. I'm torn about it overall. On one hand, there's a lot of fun elements included, with the various tiefling orcs, and use of devils, as well as dealing with Vegazi throughout the adventure, not only as someone needing rescuing, but also an NPC where interacting with them is key to success.

That being said, I don't think I can get past the combo of incredibly dense and hard to follow background and NPCs throughout the pitch, as well as the mis-match between 3rd level PCs and defending Vigil from a small tribe of orcs. As has been stated, Vigil is set up to repel armies of orcs.

Considering that the other entry in this round that caught my attention also has the problem with a mismatch in PC level and plot, if that was your only issue, I likely would give you my vote, but the fact that I had a very hard time following the narrative in the background and throughout the pitch (I'm still not exactly clear on why Keyron is even involved after the initial scene), tips my vote towards another entry. If I had 2 votes, I would give you the 2nd in a heartbeat though.

Dark Archive

I have to say I didn't like the title; it reminds me of another orc-related module, namely 'Sons of Gruumsh'. And I don't like 'XX of XX'-type of titles anyway.

But, it's a really complex backstory with complex characters; it'd make a good novel, but I fear now it's a bit confusing for GMs to run. Besides, how much of it will the PCs discover anyway, or do they even bother?

There's a new devil... *groan*. And a lot of the adventure depends on it. This is tricky, because I've seen complex adventures fall apart when PCs successfully ambushed and killed a key monster/NPC. In general I don't particularly care for modules that are written around a (new) magical item, a new spell or a new monster (most often with SLAs that are critical to the plot).

There are some neat ideas, but I don't think this is superstar material...

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

Hmm. This has been the hardest choice of all - but ultimately I choose your submission Victoria.

Yes, the plot includes the PCs as an afterthought at times, and yes the writing is incredibly rough, which will require much more development than my other top pick. I didn't find the dramatis personae difficult to follow, even though your manner of introducing them is rather interesting. I'm patient, and you always reward it later on Victoria. ;) I can see why others have been non-plussed, perhaps they have sadly thus missed the grandeur that is your concept - take care to improve this.

However, this story is so much more interesting than any of the other three by a very long margin, and I dearly wish to see how it is developed by Paizo should it be successful.

I really like the creepy visual and role of the phiam; the legion of tiefling/orc daughters; the intergenerational intrigue; the role of Grallus; the flight aspects; the horror of familial betrayal. Here is something to invest in, to argue about and to become passionate about as a character. None of the other three adventure proposals can hold a candle to this.

Oh, and not that it matters a whit to me, as things as trivial as the name can be edited, I do love the name Daughters of Fury. It works on a number of levels.

Good luck Victoria and may you be blessed with success - I hope to see more of your creavity in print (or other) in the future.

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

It's seems clear to me that you are a writer of fiction first, and an RPG designer second. You have written some excellent fiction here to be sure. The style of your writing doesn't lend itself well to a module pitch, and perhaps not to an adventure outline for a GM, but that's a worry for your editors and not me. I think the biggest problem with your pitch won't be too hard to solve (move it to a smaller town basically). Some of the smaller problems may actually take a bit more work, like giving the PCs more to do and let them be the stars instead of Vegazi.

I liked your pitch, and it has many superstar aspects. I have not been a fan of your previous rounds however, so I don't know that I'll be voting for Daughters of Fury (I do like the name though). I knew you'd be strong in the last round because you're an excellent story teller, but I think your design needs more work. And I'm sure you'll have plenty of practice in the near future because people will want to hear your stories. Good luck in the contest and in the future.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

I'll be voting for this entry because at it's core, this adventure seems like it will be the most fun for my gaming groups style. And as a module subscriber, I don't want to pay money for something I wont want to play/GM.

As others have noted, the writing in this proposal is fairly hard to follow, so hopefully the module will not have that issue.

Also of concern to me is that the rules of the contest is to set the adventure in one of 10 specific urban locations. And as James Jacobs said:

Quote:
If this adventure proposal wins, I’d like to shift the scene from Vigil to a new town, a smaller one that can not only be appropriately menaced by the small but violent Daughters of Fury, but also one that will need to look to the PCs for aid and protection

So I wonder if that should affect any voting, since the proposal doesn't fit the location very well. Lucky for you, some of the other entries had this issue as well.

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

Victoria! I saved your proposal for last because I generally play very urban characters, so dealing with the Hold of Belzken isn't exactly my idea of a good time. Plus, I read some of the comments about lots of moving NPC parts, and I was a little worried...

Please please please write this book! I would read this story in an instant. It's complex in all the right ways. The characters are deep and have emotional considerations to make alongside their choice of action. The story would build to a meaningful climax and everything would really pay off in the end.

However, I feel like this story doesn't focus enough on the PCs. I don't know if it's because of the backstory that comes with everything, but it looks like I would be a redshirt. Especially in the "good" ending where we've redeemed the daughter. A lot of things happen to the PCs, who don't seem to have much agency in the matter.

I can't even tell you how much I want to read the novelization of Vegazi's redemption. But it all feels a little too scripted to be an adventure where the players get to be the ultimate in big bad heroes, which is often what I want from this game. That being said, I wish I could write a story like this! You've been excellent throughout this competition, and I have always enjoyed reading your work.

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 on making the final round of RPG Superstar, Victoria. You have grown as a writer, and tried to improve your prose, but you have got to this stage on the strength of fun, solid, and original ideas.

There are some things I really like about your adventure proposal. Your naming conventions are mostly consistent and very strong. The motivations and plot includes neat twists and surprises, and the alternate paths in the adventure are very cool. I feel you've owned the specific requirements of the round instead of lived up to them.

While I think you introduce too many NPCs too quickly, you demonstrate a very solid command of the region and that gives natural depth to the worldbuilding a GM has to do.

I think the phiam is a great monster. Love me some evil outsiders.

You need a lot of work on your prose. Constantly remind yourself that how it spells out in your head is not always as clear when other people read it. You are telling a really great story with this pitch, but a few sentences in and there are too many named NPCs with complicated relationships, and reader fatigue sets in.

It's been said already, but this adventure is very linear. I don't think that's so bad, but it also doesn't offer as much combat or as many things to do as other pitches. A great solution to this would be to add a sandbox elements: as a matter of initiation, for example, the PCs might be tasked with regular scouting of the area outside Vigil or with work inside her walls that takes up time and allows the PCs to establish themselves firmly in the setting.

This adventure has enough relationships and twists that it could be a longer adventure, set against the backdrop of a normally pre-occupied, heavily fortified city. James is right that Vigil is a big tough city, and anything that challenges it should be higher level, but certainly there are upstart orc tribes and smaller plots that unfold outside her, and it's the subtle things that make vigils....erm....vigilant.

After I provide feedback for the competitor entries, I'l come back to the one I intend to vote for and announce that. So for now, you have offered a unique adventure and an exciting proposal. Best of luck!

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

Congratulations Victoria!

I found the premise strong and convincing. It comes with a lot of history and backstory and I wasn't sure what the PCs would be doing. I was especially tripped up by the number of names dropped that did not effect the PCs story. A summary of what the PC's adventure would have helped. I think this plot could work into a short story or novel, but felt it lacking as adventures go. Thank you for including the 'but we saved her'option. I know my PCs would have done something like that and I would have been struggling how the rest played out. The Phiam and the bow are nice additions too. Well done! :)

Not a strong keep for me, but I still have two more to go, it may be enough.

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

Daughters of Fury
The Good: You names are spot on. Last wall, Erinyes, orcs, your monster, and your bow are all good choices. I was not a fab to this point but I think this is a contender for the top spot.
The Bad: cast size is a bit much.
The Ugly: Given the location and relative power levels of the villains and the NPCs of Vigil it suffers from the same issue as Raiders of the Lost Arc... I'm not sure if anything happens should the PCs be removed.
Overall: You may well win this. I'm debating my vote being solely on the round or the competition overall. If I lean toward the latter Mike and Mikko are in contention.

Star Voter Season 7

Mark D Griffin wrote:

It's seems clear to me that you are a writer of fiction first, and an RPG designer second. You have written some excellent fiction here to be sure. The style of your writing doesn't lend itself well to a module pitch, and perhaps not to an adventure outline for a GM, but that's a worry for your editors and not me. I think the biggest problem with your pitch won't be too hard to solve (move it to a smaller town basically). Some of the smaller problems may actually take a bit more work, like giving the PCs more to do and let them be the stars instead of Vegazi.

I liked your pitch, and it has many superstar aspects. I have not been a fan of your previous rounds however, so I don't know that I'll be voting for Daughters of Fury (I do like the name though). I knew you'd be strong in the last round because you're an excellent story teller, but I think your design needs more work. And I'm sure you'll have plenty of practice in the near future because people will want to hear your stories. Good luck in the contest and in the future.

This. Exactly this. I think this would make an interesting Tales novel, but I'm a bit iffy on it as an adventure. Likewise, I also haven't been a huge fan of your previous submissions, although I've never disliked them either.

I do think it has the best name of the four, and the best story, but I had a hard time keeping track of who was who. You were one of my top two choices, but I'm going to be voting for the other one. That said, I highly recommend you as a potential Tales novelist.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7 aka Belladonna Blue

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Alright, gag order lifted! Blurgh. Duct tape. Anyway.

This is going to be a mix of trivia, stuff I've learned, and a touch of "what this contest meant to me."

The biggest complaints were a lack of clarity, tangential PC involvement, and a mismatch of level to location. As it happens, all those problems are interrelated to a decision I made part way through the design process. My initial draft of the plot called for the PCs to meet Vegazi when she stumbled into the party's camp, pleading for help and to be taken to the cathedral, and for the PCs to be attacked shortly thereafter by pursuing gaav. Later, Vegazi -- picking up on Gallus's apprehension and the suspicion of the Vigilants -- would only trust the party to help her. This would have alleviated a lot of lack of PC involvement, was easier to write, and helped explain why the PCs could argue for a more central role than their levels command.

I grew concerned about railroading players, though, and spent a lot of words explaining what happened if the PCs left Vegazi behind, if Vegazi died, if the PCs put up a fight forfeiting their arms and armor at the gates, etc., and changed it. I made the PCs more tangential in the beginning to let them choose how they'd get involved. I should have gone with my initial instinct, but the line between PC choice and railroading is not one I've mastered yet. I'll get there.

I'd blame lack of clarity on illness if I could, but I didn't write at all while I was sick. I think the confusion resulted from a few different factors. There's the altering of the beginning to something I wasn't fully comfortable with, which I just talked about. There is the fact I had to edit the full outline down from 5300 words. Word maximums are my bane. That's not a complaint. Brevity is a rare gift and I don't have it.

There is also the realization I've had that writing an adventure for an RPG, and particularly an outline, is not quite like writing fiction or technical writing. It's an interesting hybrid and a style I'm still learning. I'll get it, though. (It occurs to me I'm not very good with fiction outlines either.)

Vigil is a tough nut to crack. Several times during development I felt I'd written a check with my pitch that I couldn't cash. I still feel it works in Vigil, but might not work best there. The idea was not to put Vigil under any real threat, but rather to have some outlying civilians and patrols at risk if Vigil holds the line and refuses to give over a prisoner. (And I personally felt Vigil would hold the line.) A small group has no chance to present a real danger to Vigil itself, but could definitely evade capture at least a few days while trying to kidnap a single person. It's tougher to find isolated individuals than a cohesive camp, after all. The PCs have the added advantage of not being beholden to Vigil's oaths, too, allowing them to do some things Keyron can't -- like sneaking out using Vegazi as bait, if the Watcher-Lord has forbidden that action.

I viewed the PCs as being able to act on the ground level and be able to 1) act out of bounds when necessary, and 2) see the smaller details higher level NPCs might miss while handling the bigger picture (repelling attempted attacks, tracking down the devils, shoring up defenses, calming the populace, bringing in outliers, etc.) That's why I thought the PCs still contributed a lot despite there being high level NPCs about.

Still, it's true that it wouldn't take hefty modifications to move it to maybe a new fortress town on the border, and it would still work. Would require less explanation to keep logic intact, too.

On a Personal Note:

It still turned out better than I thought, as did this entire contest. I've been bashing my head against the wall of launching my fiction career for years, filled with self-sabotage and failures of motivation. I'd put my interests in the gaming industry on the backburner in pursuit of a more grown-up career (as "grown-up" as making stuff up for a living can get, anyway) and my inspiration suffered. It's only been in the past year or so that I finally arrived at the conclusion that I am a gamer first, writer second, and I needed to embrace that. I wanted to use my writing to support my interest in working on games rather than being a writer first with gaming as a hobby.

I've been happier and more motivated even in my regular fiction as a result, but I still wasn't sure how to get started. I already knew RPG Superstar was a great repository of knowledge on the RPG gaming industry, so I came back for my second year. I made an item I had confidence in, and figured I'd go into the Critique My Item thread and get enough solid advice to make a good run at being a finalist in Superstar 2015 and earn at least a PFS scenario deal.

Imagine my surprise, then, to end up in Top 32. I did the whole contest cold, with no prior experience, and learned it all as I went. Golarion lore, the intricacies of the Pathfinder system, and just how to structure the write-up for a monster, an encounter, an adventure proposal; I'd never done any of these things beyond concept design.

I like to think I did better each time.

I also like to think I'm going to keep doing better with each thing I make, in gaming, in fiction, or elsewhere.

All in all, I think the noob made good. I'm about a year ahead on my imaginary timeline of when I'd start seeing some results of getting started writing for gaming, and that's all thanks to people who saw something they liked in my designs and voted for it.

So thank you. :) There aren't words big enough for my gratitude.

It's been an honor to compete alongside such talent, experience, and all-around cool dudes. Whatever name comes up tomorrow, I shall not be disappointed. :)

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

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Congratulations, Victoria. I'm happy to see that whatever tomorrow's results may be, you've already got something good out of the *awesome* experience that is competing in RPG Superstar. ;)

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

I'm not sure if I said this before, but your item was my favorite both in the top 32 and in the initial voting phase. Your monster I felt was a step down, but you quickly picked it back up for the encounter round.

When I read the first few sentences of this module pitch, I groaned a bit. Most of the existing published D&D/PF material which focuses on fiends is, in my opinion, rather dull, simplistic, and repetitive. Not something I want to spend money on, nor something I'd be excited about using even if it were free.

Out of fairness, I read the rest of your module pitch...
And I really like it. I think it is an interesting module I would probably be happy to run.

If you are the winner, this module might not be at the top of my list of adventures to run. And I don't use modules very often anymore, so I may not end up using it for quite awhile, if at all.
But that's not the point. The point is that you took an idea I absolutely hated and turned it into something I want to purchase and run! And that is an accomplishment more than worth my vote.

Whether you win or lose, I am very eager to see what you do as a designer. Win or lose, I hope you continue to do RPG design, and I hope you publish your future work. And if you do, I'll be ready with my credit card out.

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

And congratulations on your well-earned victory!

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

Well done, Victoria!!!

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8 aka Jrcmarine

Congratulations, Victoria!!!

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

Congratualtions, Victoria! You're an RPG Superstar! Try to get to Gen Con so I can toast you!

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan

Bobson wrote:
That said, I highly recommend you as a potential Tales novelist.

Victoria, I love the module, and look forward to reading it. We don't play too many modules in my home group though. I have to agree with some that this could make a GREAT Tales novel, and those I read, ALL of them. Once you've got your module done, see if Paizo will let you write a novel or two!

Steven Helt wrote:
Congratualtions, Victoria! You're an RPG Superstar! Try to get to Gen Con so I can toast you!

I too will be at GenCon, so if you are, I'd love to meet. If you're playing some PFS, I have a couple unruly characters to introduce you to at a table sometime.

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

Hey, Tripp, and others who mentioned writing for Tales, I'd surely do it, given the opportunity. It's always seemed to me that the media tie-in gigs are invite-only affairs. So if Paizo ever has room for a novelist/story writer in the future, once I've been put through my paces, I'd love an invite. ;)

I want to learn how to write everything, though. Fiction's my strong suit now, but I want to be just as good at composing adventures and writing all over the industry. Diversification is a freelancer's survival!

I'm not sure about GenCon. It's tough to manage these days with a family in tow. We are eyeballing PaizoCon, though, as it happens a good friend of ours is getting married the same weekend. (He's a gamer, too, so he'd understand.)

I'll see what we can do, though. It'd be a fun time!

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

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Victoria Jaczko wrote:

We are eyeballing PaizoCon, though, as it happens a good friend of ours is getting married the same weekend. (He's a gamer, too, so he'd understand.)

I'll see what we can do, though. It'd be a fun time!

If you do make it to PaizoCon, look me (and many of the other posters here) up. I, for one, would be happy to congratulate you in person! :-)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Congratulations to you, Victoria! It is great to see how happy this makes you.


Congrats!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka MythrilDragon

Great Showing all around! Congrats on the final victory...you earned it. You were one of my favorites all the way from round one and were my final pick for the grand prize. Glad to see the one I voted for actually win. Great Job and Good Luck on completing the final module and anything else they tap you to write in the future.

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