The Gloomsworn Path

Round 4: Design an encounter

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8, RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

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The Gloomsworn Path
Those wishing an audience with the dark fey Queen Frilogarma would first need to find passage to the stalactite city known in the deep of Nar-Voth as the Court of Ether. There are numerous ways to take to the queen’s fantastical city, yet none are bereft of mortal peril. The Gloomsworn Path was one such route and stood until recently at the precipice of the Endless Gulf, presenting a near insurmountable barrier to those who walked its trail uninvited. Dark folk sentries and allies of the Queen long ago employed the use of gloomwasps to secure the passage, allowing the temperamental creations to flourish in the unending dark. After a time, the dark folk abandoned their posts, leaving the passage’s protection in the capable embrace of the swarm that matured there.

The Gloomsworn Path is now in disarray, savaged by the crashing tide of a purple worm that burrowed to the hive’s heart and gorged itself before succumbing to grievous wounds inflicted by the hive once moved to wrath. Yet few of the gloomwasps survived the assault, and the hive fell to ruin around the hulking predator that still festers within it. Pressing a newfound advantage, svirfneblin spies dared to take the broken hive and establish permanent refuge for those that would stand against the Court of Ether. They fell in the attempt, but not before nearly exterminating what remained of the hive’s inhabitants. Less than a handful of the once mighty gloomwasp swarm remain, and Queen Frilogarma would not have a route to her city persist long without guard. Upon word of the Path’s newfound vulnerability, she dispatched two nuglub trapsmiths to the colony while she entreats the dark folk to resume their vigil over the area.

The path is not likely to remain so lightly fortified for long.

The Court of Corpses (CR 10)
A1. Entry Hall
Few of the numerous cages built into the walls of this debris-strewn chamber stand empty. Fresh svirfneblin corpses are held aloft by dark vines that puncture the earth behind them, as if reaching out to present a silent warning to those who would dare to travel further. The cavern’s eastern entrance is clogged with thick roots that form a path leading through a smooth gray wall.

The thick root-like vines mark the beginning of the Gloomsworn Path, a twisting mass of plant growth that mires in the rock here and then travels the miles-long ceiling of the Endless Gulf, twisting from stalactite to stalactite before arriving at the Court of Ether. Its thick bark-like exterior is carpeted with delicate strands of fungal growth, each topped with a tiny phosphorescent nodule that glows dimly in a 15-foot radius when disturbed. Creatures moving at more than half speed over the vine bridge set the path they took to glowing for one round in their wake.

The cages hold what remains of creatures that dared to trespass near the Court of Ether and also include corpses more human in appearance and in varying states of decay. The iron bars (hardness 10, 30 hp, Break DC 23) are held fast with good locks (Disable Device DC 25)

Creatures: A single gloomwasp in the northernmost cage is hiding amidst the vines and watching for intruders. When the gloomwasps numbers were more plentiful, they would assault enemies from behind the cage bars, retreating to the hive only when left no other recourse.

Gloomwasp CR 6
XP 2,400
hp 66 (R3)
Tactics: When PCs enter the cavern it first alerts the gloomwasp in area A2 with its telepathy then casts dust of twilight on the PCs if they are using light sources, or attacks with one light ray at the nearest PC before retreating through the small tunnel entrance at the cage’s ceiling. It then attempts to regroup with the other gloomwasp and nuglub in area A2.

A2. The Hive
The smell of rot ladens the air of this chamber, which consists of a vine bridge extending from a cave opening to the southwest and reaching to the cavern ceiling to the northeast. The husks of dead gloomwasps are scattered across the hexagonal floor, which is dominated at its center by the still remains of a gargantuan purple worm, its burned and blistered body dangling off a precipice of hive cells that sags under its immense weight.

The massive weight of the purple worm collapsed much of the hive’s support structure when it burrowed in, causing the lower layers of the hive to tear free and fall to the cavern below. Grievously wounded gloomwasp crawled from its mouth before succumbing to injury and death on the cell floor where their bodies yet remain.

Creatures: Two nuglub gremlins and another gloomwasp are here on the command of Queen Frilogarma to ensure attempts to reach the Court of Ether do not go un-harassed. If given warning of the PCs presence one nuglub attempts to hide behind the corpse of the purple worm, between the vine path and the comb support. The other nuglub and gloomwasp try to hide amidst the stalactites in the northeast corner of the map until both gloomwasps are present. If caught unaware, the trio is toiling at the hive cells in the southeast quadrant of the hive.

Gloomwasp CR 6
XP 2,400
hp 66 (R3)
Tactics: The gloomwasp fights to the death, hovering outside of the PCs reach in the space between the cavern wall and the north side of the hive.

Gremlin, Nuglub (2) CR 2
XP 600 each
hp 19 each (Bestiary 2 143)
Tactics: The nuglub attempt to rupture larva cells on PCs who were damaged by the gloomwasp’s light rays and to trigger the falling worm trap while safely on the southern side of the vine path. The nuglub flee if reduced to half or fewer hit points, drawing the PCs over areas prepared with snare traps, marked with an 's" on the map.

Trap: The purple worm remains a threat even in death, as the nuglubs have carefully cut away cells holding it aloft so that it might fall when larger intruders step toward it to investigate. If any medium-size or larger creature steps onto a hive cell adjacent to the worm, the entire corpse will slide off to the cavern below, tearing away all hive cells north of the bridge with it. A small size creature can trigger the weakened floor by spending a standard action stomping and kicking the floor adjacent to the worm.

Weakened Floor CR 5
Type mechanical; Perception DC 20; Disable Device N/A
----- Effects -----
Trigger location; Reset repair
Effect 100-foot fall into collapsed gloomwasp hive (2d6 non-lethal plus 6d6 lethal); multiple targets (all creatures on hive cells north of the vine bridge); DC 18 Reflex save avoids. Note: damage from fall lessoned to account for air-pocketed hive structure on the cavern floor below.

Trap: The ceiling, suspended 10 feet above, is the uppermost layer of the hive. Many of the cells overhead still contained gloomwasp larva when the purple worm destroyed the hive. Without the support of the colony, those larva have died and began to putrefy. A phosphorescent fungus known as pulsing puffs has invaded some of the dead cells (marked on the map with an ‘R’,) which now have swirling masses of tiny lights glowing faintly from behind distended wax coverings. These cells are on the verge of bursting, and will rain down the rotting, radioactive slurry the gloomwasp larvae were gestating in when triggered. Injured opponents risk infection by the invasive phosphorescent fungi.

Bursting Larva Cell CR 3
Type mechanical; Perception DC 20; Disable Device DC 20
----- Effects -----
Trigger touch; Reset none
Effect Shower of irradiated rotting pus and gloomwasp larva corpse (exposure to pulsing puffs plus advance radiation poisoning effects by 1 day); multiple targets (all creatures in square); DC 20 Reflex save avoids.

Pulsing Puffs
Type disease (fungus), injury; Save Fortitude DC 16
Onset 1 day; Frequency 1/day
Effect 1d4 Dex damage; Cure 2 consecutive saves

Development: If a nuglub manages to flee, it attempts to reach the Court of Ether to warn of the PCs attack, scurrying along on the underside of the vine bridge as necessary to avoid the PCs harassment. If presented with the opportunity, it gleefully attempts to kneecap any PC that catches up to it, even if the action turns out to be suicidally foolish.

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 location name is strong and tells me what's coming. The map is fantastic. I included some notes about your prose below, but your language overall is descriptive and efficient. The mojo here is strong: the location and its condition tell a story, and the encounter happens inside that rich context.

Scour your submissions for passive language, which eats word count and causes fatigue in readers. "..yet none are bereft of" could be "none without". "..are held aloft" might be "hang from". " carpeted" could be "bears". Get Hemingway or another prose analytical and learn to break up sentences that lose the reader, like "The Gloomsworn Path is now in disarray, savaged by the crashing tide of a purple worm that burrowed to the hive’s heart and gorged itself before succumbing to grievous wounds inflicted by the hive once moved to wrath."

Is it original? One encounter after another teases duergar or dark folk, but then dodges the first instinct and makes the encounter unique. Your submission has a hint of urgency, a great story, and organically combines the influences of its previous occupants.

Do I want to run it? You bet your sweet falcatas I do. I would totally not give away that the purple worm is definitely dead, and let the PCs tiptoe around it just in case. It would twitch while the PCs are close to it. It's memorable, dangerous, and organic.

Do I want to play it? I sure do. I'll play it right now.

Overall: This might be my favorite location and my favorite encounter. You need to grow in terms of prose, but you've put together a fine story that makes me want to start rolling up a character. Who will probably die.

Recommendation: I fully endorse this entry to proceed to the final round of RPG Superstar 2015.

Scarab Sages Modules Overlord

Map: This is visually interesting, uses the space well, and has lots of interesting elements that help make an encounter memorable and evocative. It may need some more explanation, but that can be added to what you have, and is a minor fix.

Monster: The gloomwasps sit front and center of this encounter, and they can’t really be replaced with anything else. They are the lynchpin of this whole encounter, and you use them well.

Trap: The wakened floor is interesting and likely to cause players to briefly panic until they discovery they have a (relatively) soft landing. That said this comes SO close to using the rules for falling into water, I might prefer it go the rest of the way and have the nonlethal damage be d3s. That's a very minor point, however.
The bursting larva seems slightly contrived, though still interesting. Your word count might have been better served elsewhere.

Encounter: You gave a good backstory on why they were present, and why Pcs might need to get through there lair, though in a full adventure these details would need to be fleshed out. While there is some coincidence going on the timing for the PCs to find this is a matter of days, rather than seconds or minutes, and that makes it feel much less forced. I very much like having the dead purple worm just be a dead purple worm, and its giant corpse is a great way to help the PCs figure out what happened before they came on the scene.

Tips: In just a few words, you could have given the PCs a motivation to run through this neat playground you created for them.

I do recommend this encounter for advancement to round 5.

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

Hey Brian, 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.

You’ve definitely done your research on the location, including the svirfneblin vs. Court of Ether rivalry. I am pleased with how you wove in the stalactite features (which are normally very hard to fight on) by creating a honeycomb surface and weaving that in with a plant-like bridge. I am also happy that the encounter location has a bit of history and a distinct timeline that has created its major features, such as the purple worm carcass and northwest tunnel. Perhaps it’s my archaeology background coming through, but as a player I love being able to dissect an encounter location and have that “aha” moment when I discover an in-game reason for a feature’s existence.

You’ve also done a nice job adding little touches that help breath life into the setting, such as the touch-sensitive fungus. Many authors feel they need to write something big and flashy to contribute to Golarion, but these minor features are collectively even stronger because they provide the player something to interact with and wonder about.

The map is clear and easy to read thanks to crisp lines and use of color. Be a little careful with floor patterns that obscure the tactical grid; we must balance legibility for the GM with awesome design.

NPCs, Creatures, and Traps
Overall the gloomswasps fit the encounter. The original creature entry suggests that gloomwasps are mostly feral now, but having some trained ones around the Court of Ether fits. The gloomwasp also plays a central role in the encounter.

Gremlins are also a nice fit thematically, but these two nuglubs are virtually no threat to the PCs. In fact, they’re basically there as bait and trap trigger-ers; after all, the likelihood of a PC poking the wrong patch of ceiling is really unlikely.

The purple worm trap is fantastic. I really like the imagery of the carcass blocking the bridge before, like some corpulent slinky, it slides off the edge and takes part of the platform with it. The bursting larva cell trap falls flat for two major reasons. First, as I mentioned above, the trigger condition is virtually a non-condition. Second, in a rather large combat area, the trap only affects a single square. I suspect very few PCs would ever be at risk from this trap, especially since it almost requires the nuglubs throw a rock at just the right time.

The CR of your encounter is a little weird because The Court of Corpses seems to be combining the two subencounters in A1 and A2 together. It looks like when combined, they are roughly CR 9.6 (rounded up to CR 10). For this contest it’s no concern. Were I developing this for publication, I would split these into two encounters with separate CR listings.

There are numerous formatting and grammatical missteps here, including un-italicized spell names, irregular use of the plural/subject-verb agreement issues (“…grievously wounded gloomwasp” or “The nuglub flee…”), lopsided quotation marks (‘s”), and some punctuation errors (“If given warning of the PCs[apostrophe] presence[comma] one nuglub attempts...”). Also keep your names consistent, like when the gramlins’ tactics mention a “falling worm trap,” when neither of the trap entries actually use that name. One or two of these are bound to get through in a manuscript, but I feel you could have cleared more of these with another read-through.

A few standards to keep in mind: Roman colons (the colon is not bold), capitalizing size categories (“If any Medium or larger creature…”), and minimal use of future tense (frame it as present tense cause-and-effect)

Be mindful of longer sentences and frilly language, especially when there are ways to trim length a little and eliminate redundancy. See: ”Those wishing an audience with Queen Frilogarma must first find passage to the stalactite city [snip] in Nar-Voth known as the Court of Ether.” (wordy) OR ”Dark folk sentries…long ago employed the use of gloomwasps…” (redundant) Also see the A1 gloomwasp’s tactics, which include many separate clauses and are thus hard to decipher.

“…dead gloomswasps are scattered across the hexagonal floor…” Does this mean the floor is hexagonal, or are the cells that comprise it hexagonal?

Be cautious when using absolutes in writing, especially regarding anything tied to canon. Saying “none [of the routes to the Court of Ether] are bereft of mortal peril” sounds rather exciting, but that kind of statement can tie the publishing company’s hands later on if it wants there to be a safe backdoor—much in the same way we would paint ourselves into a corner for saying all dwarves like to drink. That said, I don’t think your earlier declaration is a bad one; it’s just a good teaching moment.

The RPG Superstar template doesn’t require it, but I recommend splitting your tactics entries into three subheaders: Before Combat, During Combat, and Morale. This helps the GM find the critical information quickly while also helping parse an expected order in which things should happen.

Finally, one of my pet peeves is seeing an uncommon monster’s name appear in read-aloud text. Read-aloud text already avoids describing live creatures (which you avoided, too), and hearing a creature name assumes all of the PCs instantly recognize the creature. I don’t think that’s true of gloomwasps, and I would rather see the corpses described as giant wasp-like creatures or the like.

Closing Thoughts
I really like your ability to breath life into an underground location by adding depth and flourishes. You made respectable use of the Round 3 monster and included one really good trap, but the mechanical implementation of the gremlins and second trap do not work for me.

I weakly do recommend this encounter for advancement.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8, RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

My gratitude to the judges and their critiques, as well as to any who choose to comment on The Gloomsworn Path. I eagerly await the conclusion of the voting period so that I may share my thoughts with you all.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka dien

Don't have time right now for a full crit (and may not get around to it anyway) but I wanted to say the detail of the path lighting up due to the fungi is such a great, tiny, flavorful image. I can see it in a big cinematic shot, the PCs picking their way along the path that glows eerily as they walk it. Very nice.

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BEEP BOOP for more information PLEASE SEE:

Queen Frilogarma of the Court of Ether; the mile-wide Endless Gulf; the ex-Azlanti dark folk; all-devouring alien purple worms; the svirfneblin, deep gnomes who sing ̻̤̪̣͔̭̘a̜̫̠̪̻ ͉͚̼̜̱͉h̬̜̫̞ͅͅͅa̜̬͉̯͔̟̖p̝̭̩̘̙p͈̙ͅy ̹̯̖̘s̮̫̘̱̼o͍̗̥̠ͅn̻͙͎̞̘͕g̳,̮̮ ͕ͅl͉̟̥a̗͍̖ ̺̭l̰̦a̟͉̜̳̰ ̵͎̠̦̳͔l̰͉͘a̢̘̱̪-̧̘la̢̮ ͙̮l̬͓̰̻͕̗̮̀ạ̝̗ ͚̱͟l̫̙͔̹ͅa̷͔͈͔͖̫͇BZZTclank are very secretive; gremlins, the broad category of evil fey to which the nuglub belong; and the fungal wound infestation known as pulsing puffs.

The gloomwasp was Gabriel Almer'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

2nd review:

Great map!

That said, I am confused about how this should all work. Your trap as written is too limited, it only destroys the northern part of the hive and that is a route no party would take, South route looks a lot safer and why not climb over the worm? The trap does not destroy the vine (as far as I can tell) and that is something that I would like to see.

So interesting, but I am not feeling it (yet).

Star Voter Season 8

My favorite map and encounter of this round. I love it.

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

The Map: The map is easy to read and pretty to boot. It looks like a location I'd like to adventure in.

The Idea: Oddly enough by being the creator of the Geomaw, you couldn't use it and thus stand out in this round for your choice of monster. I like the idea of fighting in a hive and your choice of gloomwasps. It's a neat location and I like it a lot, but I have a lot questions about the background. Do the dark fey ever plan on using this road again? Leaving a swarm of wasps to proliferate without telling me how they're being controlled tells me that nobody is getting through here unmolested. So why don't the wasps attack the gremlins? Why not just destroy the vine and be done with it? The svirfneblin zero impact on this encounter and that makes me sad. If you want the wasps to be dead then say the purple worm killed most of them or they simply left. I would have liked to see the svirfneblin have some purpose.

The Encounter: I agree with the judges that the trap is neat, but I also agree with Maurice that there is a good chance it won't ever come up. That's a shame. If the trap never becomes a factor in this encounter then it's really just a straight up fight with a couple of gloomwasps which isn't super exciting.

Will I vote for it: I've not decided yet, I will probably be taking into account previous rounds as much as this one, and with only 2 votes this is very tight. I like the location quite a bit, but what you did with it leaves me wanting more. Also the background leaves me with some unanswered questions.

I think the gloomwasps were a good call, if you don't have the geomaw. One of the best things about the gloomwasps, specifically, is that their behavior and tactics are interesting.

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

Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I LOVE this map. Seriously, that is an imaginative and evocative setup that clearing describes the whole scene. The purple worm as an object leaning on the vine path over the gloomwasp hive is terrific and I really want this done up by a professional cartographer. It would be amazing! If I have a criticism it would be that a cross-section side view for elevations would have helped visualize the whole three dimensional aspect of this map a little better.

The description of the Gloomsworn Path uses the rivalry between the Court of Ether and the Svirfneblin very well and creates a tense moment in which this vulnerability in the Court’s defences can be exploited. An excellent reason for adventurers to be there and for the nuglub trapsmiths to be involved. A great use of the gloomwasps and their write-up to connect with Nar-Voth and the political strife involved in that region.

The snare traps are a minor inconvenience compared to the main trap—the purple worm corpse. This is an excellent idea! Using the corpse not only as the means by which this encounter is taking place, but also as an active part of the encounter itself without being a monster in the encounter is inspired. The players would get quite a jolt from the worm threatening them even after its death. The gloomwasps remain the principal monster in the encounter with the nuglub gremlins just adding a little hostile fey colour.

If I have a problem it is with the overabundance of traps. The snare traps and the purple worm are enough; the exploding larvae are just a bit much. What’s more they are not so much a trap as what could be considered a hazard. With the purple worm trap covering the trap requirement for the round detailing the larvae as a hazard wouldn’t have cost you anything and could have played more of a role across the entire encounter if the floor of the hive is breached.

The bodies in the cages would be an obvious spot to put any treasure for this encounter, but since all contestants were advised against including a treasure entry I don’t hold that against the overall quality of this entry. I love that the worm is placed so the party will have to try an walk around it (exposing them to the exploding larvae on one side and imminent collapse on the other) or climb over it and be all but guaranteed to fall when the worm does.

This was my favorite encounter of the bunch on every level. As such it has earned one of my votes.

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

This is my favorite encounter. You seem to be getting stronger each round.
I expect to see you in the top-4, and I look forward to see what you come up with next.

good luck!

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

Not much else to say besides this is an excellent encounter- cool location, your monster choice is tightly woven into the encounter, and some fun stuff going on as the players try to get through this area.

Love the idea of the dead purple worm but agree with making it twitch a little just to scare the players.

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

Overall, a good encounter, and dynamic map. I'm fine with the low CR trap springers, if the PCs take the time to take them out to stop the traps, they still buy the real threat, the gloomwasps some time to live longer.

I do think that the encounter is a bit trap heavy. Both with number of types of traps, and number of traps. I'd remove either the bursting larva or pulsing puffs, and save the other for a different encounter. It would be easier to run with one less type of effect to track, and really, the falling purple worm corpse is the main attraction as far as traps go.

Good job overall though for making an interesting location (I especially like the vine as a bridge, which gives some plant options in the Darklands for druids to interact with, which is overall fairly rare there.)

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

Brian J. Fruzen wrote:

The Gloomsworn Path

Congratulations Brian!

Map: + beautifully done and nice notes on small details like the worm hanging down and wall lip.
Monster (homefield advantage): +yes being able to fly makes the great distance to the bottom relevant. The bars give them cover that they can benefit from and aren't trapped behind them.
+ falling floor is good, and again not a concern for the flying gloomwasps. The pulsing puffs is a little less connected (how did they get irradiated)?, but a rotting larva exploding with disease does fit.
Tactics: + especially important that the various gloomwasps communicate the threat*. The description of the nugrub's action after fleeing are well thought out.
Challenge my players: + yep, even if they can fly they won't get through the bars right away.
Memorable: + yes, dead worm is a great start, collapsing wax cones, exploding larva, radiation, and knee-capping.

One of the best encounters yet. Nice job! :)

* EDIT: John C, the tactics call for the first gloomwasp to contact the others. You know better than I do, and I will defer to you, but for this reason it feels like one encounter not two.

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 is absolutely getting one of my 2 votes for a variety of reasons and here's a highlight reel of my reasoning:

-Map is interesting and adds clarity to your encounter
-One of the strongest monster choices and you added low level trap springers which helped make it work.
-The purple worm trap is genius and easily my favorite thing since the fallen Treant Map.

Stuff to work on:
-When you make the final round if you bring encounters like this I'll totally forget not liking your R2 map and being ambivalent to the Geomaw. But hey it's almost like double winning the round having what is in my opinion the best encounter AND the most commonly chosen monster.

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.



Neat encounter! I like the detailed location, with nifty organic touches like the purple worm corpse and the light-up path. I'm not sure yet if this will get my vote, but definitely well done! :)

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

Judges, voters, commentators and critics: you have my thanks for aiding in my growth as a designer and writer. I am grateful for the chance to continue contributing to this contest, and figured I should finally get around to leaving some notes about this encounter now that the reveal of the Top 4 module proposals is just hours away.

I feel this was a competent first draft, but not without some issues. By the time those issues became clear, time did not allow me to go back and redraw the map or make any substantial changes to the text. Here’s my thoughts on some of the thing I would have liked to retool:

Traps: I realize that the path of least resistance also keeps the PCs safe from a big part of what makes this encounter dangerous and fun. I had hoped the placement of the bursting larva pods would alleviate that concern, but it just isn’t the same. I would have liked to re-organize the layout to make getting caught by the worm more likely. The worm should slide across parts of the path, threatening to sweep away those standing adjacent to it or on top of it as well. A slight shift in the worm’s placement and an additional line or two of text could rectify that.

I would also make the irradiated larva a hazard. Its primary role is to accelerate the effects of the radiation, something I tried to justify by having the irradiated fungus taking root in the victim and exacerbating the condition. Comments indicate that this came off a little clunky though. I agree.

The snare traps weren’t in the encounter for much of the time I worked on it. I added them only an hour before I submitted because I feared not having them in there would force voters to ask why the nuglub wouldn’t have used their ability to create them. I thought using them to hinder pursuit was the least invasive way to include them that still made sense.

Prose: I’m confident I would have caught many of my errors and tightened up the language with another day or two to work on it. I realize that the goal is to not make those mistakes in the first place though, something I am pushing toward.

I’m immensely grateful to everyone that took the time to comment on and vote for The Gloomsworn Path. Steven Helt, Owen K. C. Stephens, John Compton, dana Huber, PFW1-K1, Maurice de Mare, Brother Fen, Mark D Griffin, RJGrady, Feros, Grumpus, John Bennett, Joel Flank, Curaigh, GM_Solspiral Lady Firedove and the voters: thank you. This contest has been great fun so far, and I’m hoping that you’ll all find something to love in all of the Top 4 Module Proposals when they’re revealed later today.

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