Fellforge Chapel


Round 4: Design an encounter

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8, RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8

Fellforge Chapel
==========
Fellforge is a labyrinth of caverns in Fellstrok that houses a multitude of forges where lesser races toil for their duergar taskmasters. The duergar have only recently reoccupied Fellstrok, an old dwarven ruin in Nar-Voth that lies deep beneath the badlands of Belkzen. Fellforge fuels much of the war effort to secure Fellstrok against incursions from indigenous monsters as well as surface dwellers.

Amid the forges resides a place of worship dedicated to Droskar, the Fellforge Chapel. There the souls of broken slaves are offered to fuel Droskar’s Furnace. The chapel has recently gained popularity among the grey dwarves in hosting private ceremonies best kept far from the crowds of larger temples. This is thanks to the efforts of an elderly duergar, Valgrym, who runs the chapel.

Valgrym has finally managed to negotiate a shaky alliance between the rival clans of Malcrag and Krylgor that operate in Fellforge. He hopes that once united, these clans bolster duergar efforts to expand throughout Fellstrok and the nearby region. The alliance hinges on a marriage between two scions of the clans, the fearsome Nirgla Malcrag and the devious Grithak Krylgor. The ceremony is arranged to be held in the chapel.

Svirfneblin spies from a nearby secret outpost have learned of this development and it has them worried. Quickly expanding duergar holdings would endanger the outpost dedicated to gathering intelligence and freeing deep gnome slaves. The svirfneblin need a third party to break the alliance without implicating themselves.

Encounter Setup: A svirfneblin guide has led the PCs through a forgotten passage that runs near the Fellforge Chapel. The PCs have been tasked to break the duergar alliance by sundering the wedding chain linking the betrothed, this would be seen as a sign of disfavor from Droskar. The couple must not be killed so that the clans won’t unite in revenge.

Wedding Crashers (CR 9)
==========
The svirfneblin guide uses magic to remove the last layer of rock between Droskar’s Chapel and the passage, and falls back. Warm sulfurous air rushes through the opening that reveals a large red-hued cavern. Beyond the breach opens a wide level platform with two more platforms rising farther back separated by a glowing chasm. Several braziers cast flickering shadows throughout the cave. At the center of the first platform resides a great arch made of grey stone, a fire-filled pit roars under the arch. A pair of grim duergar statues flank the breach. They grip heavy iron chains that run across the chasm, shackling together statues depicting subjugated lesser races. Above on the breached wall glitters a large crystal formation surrounded by rapidly waning runes. Behind the arch a group of duergar stand around an ornate anvil, two of them are linked with a chain while the third one recites a prayer in Dwarven.

The breach is noticed by all duergar present. Wedding guests flee through the gate—though the combatants attack the PCs on sight.

Valgrym is only officiating the wedding and does not fight. When he sees the PCs entering and the runes failing, he turns invisible and flees toward the main exit to muster reinforcements.

When Nirgla attacks, she shouts in Dwarven:

You’ve trifled with the wrong bride—I will grind your bones to ash and send your souls screaming to the Dark Forge!

The 30-foot-high stone arch looms over a 10-foot-deep pit filled with ever-burning fire. PCs must succeed at a DC 15 Knowledge (religion) check to recognize this as the symbol of Droskar. Blackened bones and ash cover the bottom of the pit. See the trap section for details.

When struck on the anvil, the wedding chain loses its hardness. The PCs can discern this with a successful DC 20 Knowledge (arcana) check.

The magma in the chasm has a hardened crust that can be walked upon by a Medium or smaller creature. The creature takes 2d6 points of fire damage per round of exposure and 1d6 points of fire damage for 1d3 rounds after exposure ceases. For details, see lava effects Core Rulebook 444.

Anyone going across the chasm without the protection of a bridge becomes sickened for 1d4 rounds from noxious gasses (Fortitude DC 14 negates).

The crystal formation above the tunnel is a captured geomaw that has been enslaved with magical runes to glorify Droskar. The PCs must succeed at a DC 27 Perception check to discern its true nature. A successful DC 28 Spellcraft check informs the PCs of the purpose of the runes and their inactive state.

The geomaw awakens if 5 rounds have passed since the breach, the wedding chain is shattered, or it’s attacked. At that point, read the following:

The cavern wall between the duergar statues shakes violently as the crystal formation folds together like petals in a whirlpool of gnashing, jagged blood red crystals. Bits of rock fly through the air as a 15-foot-long creature with a body consisting of stone plates, dark earth, and red-hued gemstones breaks away from the wall accompanied by a thundering rumble. The tunnel behind it caves in and blows out a cloud of dust across the platform.

The geomaw lands in front of the collapsed tunnel. The main platform is obscured by dust for 1 round, anything beyond 5 feet cannot be seen and has total concealment (50% miss chance). Any remaining stalactites above the main platform fall down.

If the geomaw flees through the collapsed tunnel, it leaves in its wake a 2-1/2 feet opening into the passage.

Creatures: See the map for starting locations.

Clansmen (4) CR 1/2
XP 200 each
hp 13 each (duergar sharpshooter, Monster Codex 46)
Tactics The clansmen shoot intruders from afar.

Duergar Anvils (2) CR 1
XP 400 each
hp 18 each (Monster Codex 49)
Tactics The anvils rush in to melee.

Geomaw CR 7
XP 3,200
hp 85 (R3)
Tactics The geomaw is starving and targets the closest living creature. When the dust clears, it employs the blood lantern ability. If the geomaw has less than 20 hit points remaining, it will flee and burrow through the collapsed breach tunnel.

Nirgla and Grithak are linked by an iron chain attached to their wrists (hardness 10, hit points 15, break DC 26). They cannot have more than 5 feet of space between them but the chain leaves their hands free when not wielded. Nirgla can use the chain only on creatures that she and Grithak are flanking but she gains the benefits of Improved Trip for those trip attempts due to his assistance.

Grithak, the groom CR 1
XP 400
hp 18 (duergar bombardier, Monster Codex 48)
Tactics Grithak uses Nirgla as a shield and throws bombs at intruders. If Nirgla is defeated, Grithak surrenders.

Nirgla, the bride CR 5
XP 1,600
hp 61 (duergar lieutenant, Monster Codex 46)
Melee mwk wedding chain +12 (trip)
Tactics Nirgla protects Grithak. She uses one of her attacks to trip anyone that gets between her and Grithak. Nirgla might surrender when she’s at 10 hit points or less (Intimidate DC 23).

Terrain:


  • Brazier a standard action to topple; creatures in a 10-foot-line take 1d6 points of fire damage

  • Cavern wall Climb DC 25

  • Cliffside Climb DC 20

  • Gate hardness 10, hit points 60, break DC 28

  • Large chain Acrobatics DC 15 to move on; Climb DC 13; hardness 10, hit points 60, break DC 28

  • Light normal light within 20 feet of a brazier or the fire pit; otherwise dim light

  • Rubble difficult terrain

  • Stalactite drops after taking 5 points of damage (AC 10, hardness 5); anyone underneath takes 2d6 points of bludgeoning damage (Reflex DC 12 for half); creatures in adjacent squares take 1d4 points of piercing damage

  • Statue height 25 feet; Climb DC 12

Trap:

This targets only non-duergar creatures.

Droskar’s Grasp CR 3
Type magical; Perception DC 26; Disable Device DC 26
----- Effects -----
Trigger location; Reset automatic (1 hour)
Effect chain drags into a pit (Reflex DC 15 avoids, Climb DC 12 to get out); 10-ft.-deep fire pit (1d6 falling damage plus 1d6 fire damage per round of exposure); onset delay (1 round); multiple targets (up to 4 Medium or smaller targets within 10 feet of the pit)

When PCs trigger the trap, iron chains fly out of the pit and try to drag the PCs inside.

Development:

Overwhelming reinforcements arrive in 15 minutes through the gate and capture any PCs remaining in the chapel.

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

Welcome to Round Four of RPG Superstar 2015! You've worked hard and pleased the voters to get here, and your chance to get into the finals depends on whether you took risks and pulled off a big idea. Let's see how it goes!

I'm looking at each entry as a developer, as a GM, and as a player. If you can please all three of those crowds, you are a Superstar!

Encounter, Location, Prose The encounter doesn't really give the duergar much credit. The text calls for most of the guests to bail screaming. I think it's funny that the groom hides behind the bride (til death do us part and all), and I like that the bride comes out fighting. I don't think most players will buy that she uses the chain like a weapon with an alchemist holding the other end and standing behind her.

Most published encounters don't spend words giving the hardness and hp of every material in a given location. You are 4 words shy of your limit and could probably use that space to clarify some things or give the wedding guests tactics.

I feel the setting for this encounter isn't really special. It's a duergar forge, making the race the key element and the setting just a place for them. To me, the round calls for a special location and one of the encounters that could be found there. Other judges might disagree, but I think the uniqueness of the specific location is what separates a decent entry (which this totally is) from a Superstar entry.

If you're gonna have the magma pools, why isn't there something to throw the PCs onto the magma? A memorable encounter would be the one where the intruders were telekinesed or bull rushed onto the magma and kept at bay with pole arms. After all, everyone at the wedding gets invisibility and enlarge.

Quibbles with your language: use active verbs in the present tense. "A svirfneblin guide leads the PCs..." "The PCs must.." Avoid passive language, which is present in every entry I've read so far this round. "The PCs must not kill the bride and groom, lest.." "the magma is traversible".

Is it original? The name isn't original, but the concept of preventing a marriage from happening isn't exactly played out, particularly when there's a twist like "duergar wedding". I think the encounter should have had a more unique name, (like "Crossbow Wedding" or "Gray Wedding") to avoid jokes about the eponymous movie and such. Duergar seems the obvious choice for a Nar-Voth adventure, but I think the contest has shown that trying to guess who will bring what to the party is folly. Other entries seem to flirt with duergar and then not use them.

Do I want to run it? I'm not sure. On one hand, the PCs crashing a social occasion and fighting their way back home is a fun trope. On the other hand, I just don't see duergar wedding guests fleeing. There's other things in the story I don't fully buy. Some adventurers blow into the service to shatter the chain, and the duergar houses write it off as bad omen? My disappointment with that approach might just be stylistic, but I think of duergar as lawful evil "this marriage is happening" types who don't flee invasions, particularly given the bride's language during the melee. I did like the constraint that the PCs can't kill the bride or groom.

Do I want to play it? The chaos of blasting into a duergar wedding and trading smack talk with the bride sounds great. That "Shadowrun" feeling when the incompetent svirfneblin forget to warn me about the pet geomaw I'm about to walk under might steal some of the thunder after the encounter is over.

Overall: Some of the encounter details are solid, and the map is fun (magma!), but in this case the story isn't as strong as I'd like, and the character of burly LE slavers doesn't seem well represented.

Recommendation: I don't recommend this entry advance to the final round of RPG Superstar 2015.

Scarab Sages Modules Overlord

Map: This is a very good map. It's interesting, using the space well, and has things like chains strung out over pools of magma. The map elevates the encounter diea itself, and is easily reusable should more events occur at this storied location.

Trap: A Droskar-specific chain trap intrigues me. Even if I decided to play with the details, the concept is cool enough for me to be happy to put the work into it.

Monster: The geomaw doesn’t really bring anything to this encounter that another monster couldn’t have brought. It's basically serving as the muscle, and that's not wrong, but I don’t think it's the most interesting choice for that either. It's smart to have something the PCs CAN kill, since they have to leave the bride and groom alive, but I'd have preferred to see a good reason to have a deeplit here, or a story that leads to a labyrinth weaver needing the wedding to take place. The geomaw is clearly the center of the action, but it's entirely tangential to the story.

Encounter: There's some really interesting stuff here, and I'm a big fan of the idea, if not all of the execution. Some of this feels a little too pat, so the PCs end up with exactly and only as much trouble as they can handle, no matter what it looks like in advance. Also the GM knows reinforcements will arrive, but the PCs don’t, which makes the sense of urgency much less useful. Those details are important, and this feel more like a computer game encounter, when a cut-scene shows the player what happens, and THEN the players get to make decisions.

Tips: Think about how things will play out in the player's eyes, and spend more time making that feel natural. Having details like Climb DCs is good, but can generally be handled in a more compact format, saving you wordcount for a more intuitive sequence of events within the encounter. The need to accomplish a task that demands the PCs NOT kill a few NPCs is good, but it also raises complications that aren’t handled.

This is a cusp case for me, but in the end the neat details outweigh the questionable choices. I weakly do recommend this encounter to advance to round 5.

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

Hey Kalervo, congratulations on making it to the top 8.

I am the developer of Pathfinder Society Organized Play and the Pathfinder Society Open Call, which means I see lots of short adventures and self-contained encounters over the course of a year. It’s a developer’s job to read through, revise, and fact-check pretty much everything, but I have attempted to distill my feedback into several major headers. Essentially, I’m approaching this round like I would a scenario turnover, which involves marking up a copy of your encounter and providing feedback on what you did and how you might improve.

My Criteria:

Setting: Does your encounter fit in Golarion? Is it an encounter appropriate for Nar-Voth? Is the CR appropriate for the setting and the encounter? Is it clear how a GM might use this encounter? How effective is the map?
NPCs, Creatures, and Traps: How well did you incorporate the Round 3 creature into your encounter? Does it feel like a natural fit, or was it forced? Does the creature have a chance to shine? Do your NPCs fit in the location? Do their motives make sense? Is there an opportunity for roleplaying (appreciated but not essential)? Does the trap fit the encounter? Does the trap add to the encounter?
Numbers: Are all of your statistics and calculations correct? Are your skill check DCs reasonable?
Style: Did you watch Paizo’s styles, both in terms of writing and formatting? The more closely a writer can match Paizo’s styles in the turnover, the easier it is for me to develop. The easier it is for me to develop, the more eagerly I assign that author more work.

Setting
Fellforge fits pretty well within what we know of Fellstrok, and I can see some references to existing canon that shows you did your homework. I like the hook of the svirfneblin wanting to disrupt this even without triggering massive duergar retaliation. It’s pretty classic for PCs to have to defend a wedding during an adventure. It’s pretty cool to let the PCs crash a wedding. Making that an evil wedding gets even better.

The chain-based wedding ritual makes for a really neat challenge (don’t kill the bride and groom) and turns the couple into a memorable threat. I don’t know how well the ritual itself gels with my sense of the Droskari faith, and I’m also not confident that the PCs won’t be able to just destroy the chain from across the room, given 7th-level resources (e.g. shatter). I’m also a little dubious that an invading force maliciously breaking a symbolic chain counts as a divine omen—at least not one so Droskar-sent as to ruin the marriage.

This is a cool map with lots of different levels and plenty of fun architectural features. Except for a few doubletakes to figure out the elevations, I have not trouble understanding what’s going on here.

NPCs, Creatures, and Traps
Your encounter stands out for having a strong NPC presence in the form of the duergar couple, and there’s something rather endearing about their not being remotely close to one another in CR. The chain-fighting mechanic is fun, and there are several additional duergar that provide the PCs targets to smack while trying to fighting their way toward the anvil altar.

Although your NPCs shine, I am not as excited about your use of the Round 3 monster, which only jumps into the encounter if purposefully provoked, after the PCs accomplish their mission (break the chain), or after 5 rounds—far later than most combats last. Even when it does emerge, it lands in the trap that targets anything other than duergar (assuming the PCs haven’t triggered it already), and the geomaw’s Reflex save bonus is low enough that it fails more often than not—kind of like the big dragon showing up and then tripping down a flight of stairs. The trap is otherwise solid, though I’m not quite sure why it exists from a temple of Droskar perspective.

The visual of an exploding wall and an amorphous beast rampaging around is fun, but a creature with a delayed appearance and a 10-ft. speed feels like it’s too little too late for a creature that’s supposed to be the centerpiece of the encounter. I also don’t get an immediate sense of “Oh yeah, I know why duergar would have this here” when it does show up.

Numbers
The CR values add up properly so long as one counts the geomaw and duergar together. As noted above, this value might need some massaging based on when the geomaw joins the combat.

Even though the trap’s CR feels okay, it’s off as by-the-books calculations go: Base (CR 0), 7 damage to multiple targets (“14 damage” +1), DC 26 Perception (+2), DC 26 Disable (+2), Reflex DC 15 (–1), pulling targets (worth something, so +1) = CR 5. I calculate this based on it being a mechanical trap only because it’s not clear what the magical trap’s spell effect would be.

Style
Avoid excessive paragraph breaks, especially in the Wedding Crashers main area description. Can some of these ideas be combined together? Now excuse me as I break that rule in the interest of covering lots of unrelated points.

Present more fleshed-out descriptions of the terrain features. The bullet point format for these doesn’t appear often if ever, and some of these would be a lot clearer and cleaner if included as full sentences.

Place the information about the magma and noxious fumes under a Hazards header to help the GM find the necessary information.

Mind your punctuation rules, especially regarding semicolons and commas in the Wedding Crashers read-aloud text.

On a related note, aim to avoid referencing the encounter’s creatures in the read-aloud text. One reason we do this is so that the read-aloud text requires as little adjustment as possible in case the PCs decide to approach a room or encounter from a different direction (geographically, logistically, or conceptually). The way you encounter is set up, there’s no other way to approach it, making the creature references in the read-aloud text safer even if it’s still not ideal.

Closing Thoughts
The opportunity to crash an evil wedding is really fun, but I’m not a fan of the ritual’s specifics. The geomaw plays a role in the encounter, but its delayed appearance (and respectable chance of not getting to do much more than flop after the PCs) makes it feel like an afterthought when the real stars of the encounter are the bride and groom.

I weakly do not recommend this encounter for advancement.


I'm just not really sold on murdering a wedding party as an "adventure."

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

Pathfinder does a great job about NOT making assumptions regarding the best way to play or have fun. Crashing the murder might not appeal to some, but a party of evil characters, or a group desperate to disdupt two powerful slaver families...different tables will view that errand differently. The en ounter should be graded on its merits as realtes to following directions, original mojo, and clear prose. Whetber I buy the en ounter as a player doesn't matter if it's fun for enoigh folk to develop.

Of course, vote based on what you each think is important in encounter design.


I'm totally down with wedding party murders happening in games. It's just with this:

Quote:


The PCs have been tasked to break the duergar alliance by sundering the wedding chain linking the betrothed, this would be seen as a sign of disfavor from Droskar.

I'm seeing the encounter ask for a certain buy-in by the PCs, but when armed wedding attendees start fleeing and/or attacking, things are going to get messy. I'm having some issues with PC motivations here, and I'm thinking this might be difficult encounter to run if the PCs have a fair amount of diversity in alignment.


BEEP BOOP for more information PLEASE SEE:

Fellstrok, a duergar stronghold beneath the Hold of Belkzen; Droskar, the evil god of endless toil and a favorite deity among the duergar; and svirfneblin, also known as deep gnomes, most of whom have blue skin and wear floppy hats anzzzzCLANK live in the hidden city of Dwimovel.

The geomaw was Brian J. Fruzen's Round 3 monster.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Darkjoy

6th review:

great map
intersting goal
bad execution (fleeing duergar)
Don't understand the geomaw inclusion

Shadow Lodge Star Voter Season 6

RJGrady wrote:
I'm just not really sold on murdering a wedding party as an "adventure."

But this isn't an adventure; it's an encounter, right?

I think it actually has a lot of cool character to it. A party of adventurers running it to be all STOP THE WEDDING !!! is just the kind of thing I'd love to be part of. They're not humanoid either, which adds more depth to the possibilities of what can go wrong, and how.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8 aka John Benbo

Love the map and the inclusion of one of my favorite races- duergar.

I agree with the other comments that I don't like the idea of all the duergar fleeing at the sight of adventurers.

The duergar feel more like the center of this encounter than the geomaw.

Overall, I think there are some great ideas here but some missed opportunities as well. Why not use the deeplit monster? Maybe Droskar gets a little ticked off and some deeplits start bursting out of the magma or fire?

Still, you get one of my two votes based on your body of work because I want to see your adventure pitch.

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

Kalervo Oikarinen wrote:

Fellforge Chapel

Congratulations Kalervo!

Map: ~ confusing but serviceable. Looks like most will not be used in the encounter. It hints at the next encounter but 'overwhelming' numbers preclude them being used.
Monster (homefield advantage): - Not really, in fact the nearest creature (geomaw's target) may not even be the PCs. And most of the threat seems to come from the drueger.
Trap: ~ wow that looks cool, again the geomaw might suffer for it.
Tactics: + well thought out. Lots of crossbows firing will be noticed.
Challenge my players: ~ might, the target is the chain so they may ignore the geomaw.
Memorable: ~ the chained druegers combat tactics is definitely something they will remember. I think they will assume the geomaw is an animated crystal symbol.

Spoiler:
This has inspired me enough to run the encounter with the following change. The svirfnegliben scout has described the the area to the PCs including the large crystal symbol over the door. When he breaks them in he accidentally releases the Geomaw, "UhOh I can't be seen here!" she says fleeing and sealing the PCs in with the geomaw. The first obstacle to the target, and then the PCs have to find their own way out. :)


An easy-to-miss detail: the trap only targets medium or smaller, and the geomaw is large.

Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Clouds Without Water

Will Ahonen wrote:
An easy-to-miss detail: the trap only targets medium or smaller, and the geomaw is large.

Ah! That is key! Thanks for pointing that out.

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

R D Ramsey wrote:
Will Ahonen wrote:
An easy-to-miss detail: the trap only targets medium or smaller, and the geomaw is large.
Ah! That is key! Thanks for pointing that out.

Noted. I don't think that's enough to turn around my recommendation, but it does help give the geomaw a bit more of a chance to join the combat.

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

I don't have time right now to give a detailed review so I'm just going to write something quick.

This isn't getting one of my 2 votes but I would be on the fence if I had 4, here's why:

-Map is super cool almost makes it worth the 4th vote.
-Monster choice also not my favorite from R3 and how you use it doesn't change my opinion... the bride is the best fight in the room.
-The best part your map, isn't used in a way that intrigues me.

Stuff to work on:
-I don't see a wedding party of Duegar fleeing, especially with so fierce a bride... they can go invisible or large it hurts the credibility of the entry.
-How do you have Lava and no one trying to bull rush someone into it?

I'd say you're on the bubble for top 4.

Champion Voter Season 6, Champion Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Champion Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The map is very well done. Clear and easy to read with good use of colour. I also really like the image drawn to show the arch and fire pit before the red crystal formation in the Chapel. It helps make the whole very easy to visualize. This is a great map that I would love to see as a flip-map.

The location itself is not bad, but is almost a prototypical underground dwarven location with magma nearby. Orzammar from Dragon Age: Origins looms large over this sort of setting and any attempt to go there with any sort of dwarf—even the duergar—will bring that city immediately to mind to many people. This is both good and bad because on one side that familiarity seems to fit quite well with dwarven themes; but it may also strike people as derivative of other work or just plain unoriginal. This skirts that line, but doesn’t come across as derivative at least.

All that said the duergar is slow pitch as far as a Nar-Voth setting goes. They and troglodytes are pretty much the ubiquitous monsters of the upper Darklands. Further, though a geomaw has been used here it is secondary to the duergar wedding which dominates the encounter. The geomaw comes across as a sudden unwanted intrusion that doesn’t fit the political sensitivity that has been set up here. Having something that can be killed within the scenario is good, but this feels rather forced. The trap on the otherhand is in function and form very cool. It fits well with the overall theme and purpose of the location.

The duergar don’t seem like the type to fold up and run under any circumstances. Evil they may be, but they don’t come across in their writeups as cowardly. I like the characterization of Nirgla Malcrag as a strong powerful combatant, but her presence is so strong she might easily steal the show from the other parts of the encounter. The svirneblin seem to have created a situation that is not going to end well. Not only have they freed a hungry geomaw, but it would be pretty clear to a cleric—who flees the battle—with some sort of connection to divine divination magic that the gnomes were involved. This sort of disruption would delay a marriage, not stop it unless the people involved were highly superstitious. And that is not a trait commonly associated with the gray dwarves.

There was a good encounter idea here, but it isn’t fully realized as written. I liked it, but I like three other entries better. I won’t be voting for it, but I hope it gets voted to the next round.

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

Will Ahonen wrote:
An easy-to-miss detail: the trap only targets medium or smaller, and the geomaw is large.

Good Catch Will. Thank you.

The druegar are already immune to the trap, even if they weren't their SLA would play into this effect as well. Which is a cool trap. This does change my opinion of the trap (which wasn't bad to begin with), but it still does not make it a part of the geomaw's tactics. Druegar's yes, but not geomaw's. Unless there is another easy-to-miss detail? :)

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

The writing early on feels a little choppy to me. It felt like you were fighting the word count a bit, since I don't think I've had any problems with your writing before. It just lacked a certain flow here, IMO.

I did however really like the setup of having to break the chain but not kill the wedding celebration. I think that would really hamstring the PCs. I'm sure it would annoy some players, but I think others (including me) would enjoy the challenge of a combat where they had to NOT kill.

I love the prospect of an angry bride furious her wedding's been interrupted (and like others love that she's the tough one of the pair), but unfortunately, I think it pulls some focus from the geomaw. It feels a little like an afterthought to the real set piece, which is the wedding.

It's a shame, since I would really love to play this wedding bit (albeit with some tweaks), but the challenge was to involve the R3 monster and this just didn't do it enough.

I think you've still got a good shot at claiming that fourth spot, though, so 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

Great map, but I'm not sure the encounter lives up to it (which is why I wasn't a fan of round 2 at all.)

I'd much rather have more tactics for what all of the different Duergar do in this fight, there's a lot of combatants, but I'm left to figure out myself what they do. Also, once the deepmaw is freed (why do they have it there in their temple if it's so easy to accidentially free anyway?) how to the duergar react to it?

The main problem I had though was I don't really understand where the wedding chain is. Is it attached to the altar? Is it the chain the bride is wieling? If so, why does it have much tougher hp than a normal spiked chain weapon? When you say that if it's on the altar it's hardness is ignored, why? And how? If it's being weilded, how could the PCs get it on the altar?

Also, as for not killing the bride and groom, at 7th level, it wouldn't be hard for groups to incapacitate the bride and groom, then sunder away - hold person, charms, grapply monks, or a variety of other powers. Also, is there a reason that having the bride and groom survives is needed? I'm not sure I see why - especially if they PCs could simply take them to negative hit points and stabilize them - then break the chain - I don't see how that plays any different to the Duergar than breaking the chain without harming the bride and groom at all.

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

The wedding chain links the bride and groom (which is a takeoff of some real marriage customs that IMO makes sense) and prevents them from getting more than 5 feet away. As for why it has more hp than a normal spiked chain, I can't answer that, but I assumed it was Droskar's curse/blessing that let the hardness be ignore on the altar. Considering that god's purview, it makes some sense.

And they aren't supposed to kill the bride and groom because then the larger duergar force would react, as opposed to just taking it as a bad omen. Now whether the PCs will buy that is I think a different question, but I can understand the setup.

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

Ah, when I saw the "Large Chain" in the map legend, I thought that was what bound them, and couldn't find it on the map.

Star Voter Season 6

My Comment/Voting Process and Rationale for this Round:

Composed on Wed. 2/25:

Last round, I just barely had time to read and comment on all 16 monsters before voting closed. I make my comments right after carefully and thoroughly reading an entry, while the information is still fresh in my mind. After starting to read and comment last round, I really wanted to be fair to all 16 entries before voting, so I really pushed myself that final Monday to finish.

This round, due to an even busier family week and no Monday off work, I may not have the time to give all 8 encounters full consideration.

So, my plan is this:

At bare minimum, read, critique, and consider the three encounters earning triple judge recommendations (Brian's Gloomsworn Path using the Gloomwasp, Monica's Hanging Gardens using the Dread Glutton, and Chris's Darkblight fallow also using the Dread Glutton), and, if I don't have time to evaluate more encounters before the deadline, I will simply choose my two favorites from those three encounters for my votes.

If I have the time to read, critique, and consider two more encounters, I will add the two encounters that each earned one judge's recommendation into the mix for my vote consideration. (Steven also recommended Scott's Barca's Haven using the Wimblewyrm, and Owen also recommended Kalervo's Fellforge Chapel using the Geomaw. I don't think John recommended a fourth encounter for advancement.)

If I do end up with enough extra time, I will happily read, critique, and consider the three remaining entries, but it's possible I won't have a chance to fully read and comment on them until after voting closes.

Although not ideal, I think this system is at least fair, since I'm using the weight of expert opinion to select the pool from which I choose my votes.

That said, when I vote, I'll be looking for a mix of exciting ideas with technical proficiency, with some consideration given to entire body of work.

Cheers!

.......

First, props to you for creating the dread glutton that inspired two other great encounters this round!

As for this encounter, I like the creative setup of having to stop an evil wedding, although the circumstances do feel a bit forced. The Geomaw as a sort of blood-crystal rosetta stained-glass-window for the chapel before it comes to life and attacks is pretty awesome as well, I must say.

I'm a bit confused about where the PCs enter, where the guests flee, and why the officiant's starting location isn't marked on the map, but there's a lot of creativity here to make me want to overlook those details.

Nice! :)

EDIT: Upon reexamination, I do understand that the breech tunnel is the PC entrance. However, with that being the case, they probably never get the neat visual of the chapel offered by the inset art.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8, RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8

Thank you everyone for all the comments. There's a lot good points in them to consider for future encounter designs.

I'll share some thoughts on my encounter at a later date.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8

1 person marked this as a favorite.

A big thank you to the voters!

Wow, I'm still a bit flabbergasted by all of this.

Now I must set my brain into adventure pitch mode!

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