Round 3 Discussion - Top 16 Don't Post Here! - How are you voting?


RPG Superstar™ General Discussion

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

So, Round 3 entries are up, and I am curious how my fellow RPG SS community members are voting? Troy Daniels posted a solid blog-post on Fat Goblin Game's website about his own opinions on Monster Design, and I think I'm going to reference him in my own critiques.

Looking at the Official Judges Comments, the Top 16 could be roughly ordered...

*-*-*
[u]Judges Ratings:[/u]
I DO RECOMMEND = +1
Weakly RECOMMEND +1 (+0.5)
ON THE FENCE = +0
I DO NOT RECOMMEND = -1

Appologies if I applied a ranking to the wrong judge, I might have since I was using the order Neil - Adam - Jason, but occasionally Adam commented before Neil and vice versa.

Top 1-3 (+3)
Kravyad - CR 7 - Magical Beast
Neil - +1
Adam - +1
Jason - +1

Scrapshell Oyster - CR 6 - Magical Beast
Neil - +1
Adam - +1
Jason - +1

Tatterghoul - CR 7 - Undead
Neil - +1
Adam - +1
Jason - +1

Top 4-7 (+2)
Swarmwyrm - CR 9 - Dragon
Neil - +1
Adam - +0
Jason - +1

Despoiler - CR 7 - Undead
Neil - +1
Adam - +1
Jason - +0

Matianak - CR 8 - Undead
Neil - +1
Adam - +1
Jason - +0

Hollow One - CR 9 - Outsider
Neil - +1
Adam - +1
Jason - +1 (+0.5)

Top 8 (+1)
Guillowed - CR 6 - Undead
Neil - +1
Adam - -1
Jason - +1 (+0.5)

Top 9-13 (+0)
Corpsebound - CR 9 - Undead
Neil - +1
Adam - +0
Jason - -1

Malkin - CR 8 - Fey
Neil - -1
Adam - +0
Jason - +1 (+0.5)

Tranquility Ooze - CR 8 - Ooze
Neil - -1
Adam - +0
Jason - +1 (+0.5)

Phase Mongrel - CR 7 - Plant
Neil - +0
Adam - +0
Jason - +0

Thaumigorger - CR 7 - Aberration
Neil - +0
Adam - +0
Jason - +0

Top 14 (-2)
Valemask - CR 7 - Fey
Neil - +0
Adam - -1
Jason - -1

Top 15 (-3)
Sorrow Sticher - CR 8 - Fey
Neil - -1
Adam - -1
Jason - -1

The 16th participant was DQ'd.

My comment to Top 16 to not post here is just a matter of "I don't want you to DQ yourself, we've had way too much of that this Season of RPG SS and this time there are no alternates to let in!

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

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I'm excited to see the wide range of recommendations from the judges; should make it more interesting to find out who advances (I'm at work, so have only just looked at the recommendations -- will look at the full monsters ASAP).

Liberty's Edge Star Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

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Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I previewed one of the monsters before it was submitted and made several comments on it. I will do the same for the others ;-)

I mostly assess

- the visuals,

- how the abilities (and other stats) go together, as in do they make sense,

- is the accompanying text clear and enhancing the stats,

- does it give me an immediate need to use it,

- are some things missing,

- are the abilities original or a copy of preexisting things,

- are there some big discrepancies in the stat block.

It is likely that the final results for my voting will come from a blend of an analysis through these criteria and the mojo factor that defeats all rational assessment ;-)

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 9

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I can post! I'm free to post all I want! Post post post post post! And stuff! So there! :D Wait... I can't DQ myself twice can I? Does that work in reverse? Will they take my top 16 tag?!

I need to sleep more. Good luck everyone! I've seen some awesome creatures, can't wait to vote!


I actually found most of the monsters this year fairly derivative and boring. There's nothing there that we haven't seen before in one fashion or another and none of the visuals really grabbed me. Even the top 3 shown above only manage to get to the level of 'decent monster you might find in a bestiary'. At first I thought it was just an effect of having seen so many bestiary entries over the years, but I went back to some older stuff and looked at some other newer stuff I picked up recently and discovered that wasn't the reason.

I hope the surviving contestants can up their game for the following rounds.

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

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I just went through and my decision, and I thought those monsters were great! It's like the Top 16 is trying to make this a serious competition and stuff where I really have to decide what I value in a monster. I looked over the judges recommendations, but it's easier for me to think about what I want out of a creature than a map, so this one was basically all me.

Anyway, if the Top 16 is looking BUT NOT POSTING, then I say great work, fearless designers! Huzzah!

Dedicated Voter Season 9

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I think it's evident from reading through all 15 monsters that there are a lot of really imaginative and mechanically sound minds left in the competition. Honestly, my mind boggles when I read negative comments in threads like these. If you don't have anything nice to say, be glad you're not a judge, I guess.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

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It's useful to hear opinions from all corners, though. Believe me, you'll never satisfy your entire audience. At best, you'll just satisfy most of them, and, more likely, you'll satisfy certain corners of the gaming community while leaving others unfulfilled. And that's because, certain playstyles (and hence, certain expectations) can wind up clashing. So, as a designer, it's good to hear those who are evaluating your work according to their own internalized standards. Then, it's up to you to decide if those standards...and accompanying opinions...have value in adjusting or guiding your future work. If they don't, blaze your own trail and set a new standard for others to follow and be measured against.

As for the original question..."How are you voting?"...I still come at it from the perspective of voting for the designer moreso than just the monster. Yes, that usually goes hand-in-hand with with the best design for the round, but sometimes you have to look beyond that and evaluate who you want to see move forward. And, I often base that on "body of work" in addition to the current round's assignment. That's because RPG Superstar isn't simply a series of sprints. It's more like a multi-day, segmented race like a Tour de France. Those who turn in an incredible time on one day (with their initial submission) may get to start out with an early lead the following day. And, if they fall behind a little on their run (or assignment), it allows the others to catch up. In the end, though, they're all racing for that finish line, and it's their collected time that really determines the winner.

But that's just my two cents,
--Neil

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

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I look for creativity (as I do in every round), but this is the hardest round for that as the stat block is a major component. Then I look for balance (as I do in every round). I look at a few things like AC, BAB, & Saves as those are easy to match to a PC, but also the new abilities & whether they will one-shot any character builds. Finally I look at inspiration, that is; do I want to surprise my players with it, how would I deal with it if one was behind the door my character just opened?

So far everything is a keep for me, some weak some not. :)

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

Neil Spicer wrote:


As for the original question..."How are you voting?"...
But that's just my two cents,
--Neil

We all know how you're voting Neil, or at least judging :P

But thank you for responding to question as well. An insightful wall-of-text as usual :D

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

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Lucus Palosaari wrote:


Top 1-4 (+3)
Kravyad - CR 7 - Magical Beast
Neil - +1
Adam - +1
Jason - +1

Scrapshell Oyster - CR 6 - Magical Beast
Neil - +1
Adam - +1
Jason - +1

Tatterghoul - CR 7 - Undead
Neil - +1
Adam - +1
Jason - +1

Hollow One - CR 9 - Outsider
Neil - +1
Adam - +1
Jason - +1 (+0.5)

Top 5-7 (+2)
Swarmwyrm - CR 9 - Dragon
Neil - +1
Adam - +0
Jason - +1

Despoiler - CR 7 - Undead
Neil - +1
Adam - +1
Jason - +0

Matianak - CR 8 - Undead
Neil - +1
Adam - +1
Jason - +0

Minor correction to my original post --- I screwed up my own scaling, and Hollow One should have been listed as a Top 1-4 choice with +3 points, not a Top 4-7.... I "fixed" it in the quoted bit.

Not that anyone but myself was looking closely at it...

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

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Lucus Palosaari wrote:
An insightful wall-of-text as usual :D

Hah! That's just the equivalent of a single brick in the wall, Lucus. ;)

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

Heh. Just went to check on how many votes I got and had to laugh at the subject line: "Poll: Round 3: Create a Bestiary entry – 6 Words"

Chris, that's WAY under your word count for this round. You're totally going to get dinged for it and not get any votes. :)

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Champion Voter Season 6, Champion Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Champion Voter Season 9

Apparently all my votes went to items with positive scores. There were only 2 I really liked, my other 2 votes went for a total designer ideal.

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

I chose 2 from the top 4 and 2 from the next 4. So sort of agreed with the judges.

Dedicated Voter Season 9

I again made a checklist:

Is the monster's name and tagline clear and descriptive (do I get an immediate mental picture from it)?

Is the monster's descriptive text well written, and is it in line with the tag?

What are the monster's special abilities---do they fit the description and image?

Does the monster add something to the game?

Numbers---are these reasonable?

In the end I was left with three contenders, although I kept one more on potential than performance.

Liberty's Edge Star Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Some stats now that the results are out :

- All 4 monsters that had recommendations from all 3 judges went to Top 8 (100% success rate)

- Among the 3 monsters that had recommendations from 2 judges, 2 went to Top 8 (67% success rate)

- One monster that had judges on the fence went to Top 8 (13% success rate)

- The single monster that had all 3 judges not recommending it went to Top 8. (100% success rate)

Liberty's Edge Star Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

My own mojo sense seems rather off when compared to the voting results :

My Keep list : 3 monsters, 1 went to Top 8. (33% success rate)

My Alternate list : 5 monsters, 2 went to Top 8. (40% success rate)

Of the 8 monsters I did not see in the Top 8, 5 went there. (63% success rate)

Time to recheck those and see what I missed that voters liked ;-P

Dedicated Voter Season 9

Strong Keep: Hollow One
Weak Keep: Swarmwyrm

On the Fence (3-way tie for my third vote): Sorrow Stitcher, Kravyad, Phase Mongrel)

Sorrow Stitcher won the tie; every time I considered it I thought up a new place I could inject it into a campaign or a fun new theme or ability for the description. Ultimately that mojo is I look for from a monster. This more than made up for the mechanical issues for me and it easily secured a vote. I'm very interested to see the designer's next submission, and hope that they will up their game - execution will play a defining role in the next round.

The Kravyad was mechanically impeccable, but adds nothing to the game and its abilities are not ursine. Basically it's a re-flavored fire elemental.

The Phase Mongrel on the other hand had abilities very much in line with its theme; alien-inspired plant monsters are always fun - I submitted one to a certain publisher's open call a couple weeks before the round started and was pleasantly surprised to see one here (mine wasn't selected either). That said the alien/pod theme has been done to death, and really we should both aim to expand our horizons or at least on the trope. Also the theme reads a bit like a deadline monster; 'I took a mishmash of existing things and slapped them around a unifying theme in a hurry' - I was a touch off-put by that. There were some other hinky things about your submission; for example why call a special ability 'disease,' instead of 'embryonic phase mongrel parasite?' I think a few more revisions before submission would have aided you greatly.

End of the day the two remaining submissions remained tied, so I only placed three votes; leaving the decision to my fellow voters - I'm happy to see one of you progress.

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