Gnome's Throw Crossing – 1391 Words


Round 4: Design an encounter

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8 , Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka King Tius

Gnome’s Throw Crossing
Flip-Mat: Battlefield
==========
When the first gnomes began to feel the effects of the Bleaching, the little folk's most powerful spellcasters shaped a small demiplane to help gnomes whose lives lacked excitement. This plane, known as the Library of Wonders, invited any gnome that feared the Bleaching to experience all manners of strange stories, curious artifacts, and thrilling musical performances. Several portals to the Library were opened in gnomish communities across Golarion, but the capricious creatures grew bored of their marvelous collection, eventually abandoning it altogether.

The last functioning portal to the Library of Wonders is hidden in plain sight along a seldom-used road between Kyonin and Sevenarches. Originally built as a clockwork arch with retractable gates and vigilant mechanical guards, the portal now hides under an ordinary stone bridge. The portal's creators cleverly diverted a small river to flow into the portal while a similar one flows out from the Library, giving the appearance of one continuous and innocuous stream. Subtle differences in aquatic life and water temperature occasionally tip off the perceptive passerby, especially in winter, when the snow on the downstream banks melts noticeably faster. To combat these inevitable discoveries, the crossing now employs loyal pixie guardians whose illusions and memory adjustments keep the bridge’s true nature hidden. Only the bridge’s name, a playful jest at the stream’s width, hints at its original purpose.

Sprig Sparklegem, a wizened old gnome, is on the verge of succumbing to the Bleaching, causing her granddaughter, Blossom, much anguish. As Sprig’s condition worsened, she began to ramble about a hidden library and the prized book she’d kept there. After months of research, Blossom thinks she has discovered the location of her grandmother’s library, though it is more fantastic than she could ever imagine. With Sprig declining quickly, Blossom hires the PCs to retrieve Sprig’s book and save her from the Bleaching.

You Must Be This Short To Ride (CR 8)
==========

A well-worn stone bridge spans an idyllic stream about thirty feet wide. The water meanders past scattered trees, proving just a little too deep and a little too wide to be forded without a bridge. A pair of thick iron gates prevent entrance under the bridge but allow the stream to pass through.

The bridge’s stonework is weathered and old, giving no indication to its hidden purpose. If passersby purposefully observe the water as it flows under the bridge, they can notice a subtle difference in the upstream and downstream sections by succeeding at a DC 20 Perception check. If there is currently snow on the ground, this DC is lowered to 15. The water of the stream is four feet deep and is considered difficult terrain. From the start of the bridge’s walkway, it is approximately five feet down to the water level and five feet up to the apex of the bridge’s arch. The top of the flip-mat points north.
If viewed from the water level, the bridge’s unusual function is more obvious. The pixie guardians use their permanent image abilities to mask the bridge’s clockwork underside and the portal’s gaping entrance. These illusions can be disbelieved by succeeding at a DC 19 Will save. The iron gates are part of the illusion, as the portal has its own superior defenses. When an adventurer first bypasses the illusion read the following text:

The bridge’s underside is a lattice of cogs and gears, surrounding a shimmering portal that takes up the entirety of the tunnel. Though similar, the water flowing out of the portal is not the same stream that flows in from the other side.

If any creature comes within 10 ft. of the underside of the bridge, two clockwork servants exit their alcoves set in the portal’s housing. The alcoves are set on opposite ends of the bridge’s tunnel, guarding both directions. As soon as one of the alcoves is vacated, the cogs under the bridge begin to spin. A whirling wall of gears engulfs the entrance to the portal, replacing the fading illusion of iron gates. Damaged gears are instantly and magically replaced, making it virtually impossible to break through, though the river continues to flow through gaps in the clockworks. The servants’ departure from their alcoves also unlocks the hidden launcher traps on the bridge.

Creatures: The awakened clockwork servants speak only Gnome and are extremely pleasant and polite, following a very strict set of instructions regarding entrance requirements. First, only gnomes are permitted to enter the Library of Wonders, requiring PCs to use the talents at their disposal to convince the guardians of their gnomish heritage. Secondly, every gnome who enters must prove they can add to the collection. This could be as simple as telling a joke, singing a song, or spinning a fantastic tale. Curious items or creatures are also acceptable Library contributions. Since these tireless guardians have been at their posts for centuries, they have an encyclopedic knowledge of what lies inside the Library. The contribution portion of this interaction is left intentionally vague to allow the GM to adapt to the stories and songs the PCs present. Any relevant Bluff or Diplomacy checks must be made against both the clockwork servants and the invisible pixies who monitor all interactions with the gate guardians closely. The clockworks and pixies start with indifferent dispositions towards the PCs.
If the guardians accept the PCs’ contributions, the clockwork servants will return to their alcoves, unlocking the bridge and allowing the PCs to enter the Library. If the PCs dupe the clockwork servants but not the pixies, the fey will speak up but remain invisible. PCs who imitate gnomes under the influence of the Bleaching will receive a +5 circumstance bonus to all relevant checks during these interactions. If the PCs fail to bluff their way in, the four guardians work together to forcibly attempt to erase the PCs’ memories of the bridge. A clockwork servant’s main chassis will unlock the gate when inserted into its alcove, whether the servant is functioning or not.

Awakened Clockwork Servant (2) CR 2
XP 600 each
hp 31 (Bestiary 3 56)
Racial Modifiers +8 Sense Motive, +8 Perception
Tactics The servants avoid capture at all costs. They utilize their nets to hamper enemies and withdraw whenever possible to avoid attacks of opportunity and benefit from their fast healing. Their goal is to spread out their enemies so the pixies can deal with them one at a time. They also coax PCs over the hidden launcher traps on the bridge. The clockworks zigzag as they move to disguise where the traps are located. They will never venture more than 60 ft. from the bridge and avoid getting close enough to one another to be caught by the same spell.
Morale The clockworks evade and hamper their enemies until they are disabled.

Pixies (2) CR 4
XP 1,200 each
hp 18 (Bestiary 228)
Tactics The pixies maintain their invisibility and target spellcasters or ranged combatants who might threaten them. They will use their sleep special arrows on any enemy that is separated from their allies but will otherwise use charm arrows to persuade enemies to stop fighting.
Morale If either pixie is knocked unconscious, the other stops fighting and rescues its ally before returning to the battle.

Traps: The hidden launcher traps are spread out evenly along the bridge’s length but are located at various widths to create a random pattern.

Hidden Launcher (3) CR 1
Type mechanical; Perception DC 20; Disable Device DC 20
----- Effects -----
Trigger location; Reset manual;
Effect Any weight of 50 lbs. or more on this 5 ft. square triggers the launcher, throwing the target 20 ft. northeast or southwest into the river (2d6 falling damage); DC 20 Reflex avoids. The trap is locked when both clockwork servants are in their alcoves.

Development: Every night at midnight, a pair of clockwork servants come through the portal to repair or replace any damage to the bridge, traps, or other clockwork servants. If adventurers are camped near the bridge at night, they may witness this restoration process and gain some insight into how the servants serve as the keys to the doorway. Once the adventurers enter the Library of Wonders, they find that the creatures and automata inside have taken over, preserving a seemingly endless maze of museums, libraries, animal enclosures, and illusory reenactments.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Jason! Welcome to the Top 8! All your hard work has paid off for you, and now you find yourself on the cusp of having a shot at the top prize. From here, you've got a major opportunity to really impress a lot of folks and secure yourself some bonafide freelancing opportunities, not just with Paizo but other third-party publishers, as well. The trick lies in putting forth your best work to show us that you belong. By this point, you should have learned a lot of lessons, and now, we need to see how well you've incorporated them and how well you've learned to apply them. In fact, encounter design is the primary precursor to adventure design, since it incorporates your storytelling ability, how to synergize your idea with a playable map, your stat-block ability, and a host of other elements of game design which really start to bring it altogether. So, let's go through your encounter and see what you've got.

Name: Naming still matters, even at this stage of the game, and you've gone with Gnome's Throw Crossing for your location, which seems plausible for the bridge/river/battlefield map you've selected, but potentially a little campy unless there's a good reason behind the name. Meanwhile, we've got You Must Be This Short To Ride as your encounter name, which feels too joke-like for me to feel comfortable backing it.

Creative Ideas: I'm torn here. It's partly inspired to reach for something as integral to the gnome race as the Bleaching (I've done it, too!), and yet, in some ways it also feels like an overreach to create a Library of Wonders as the gnome response to it as some kind of universal answer to staving it off. At least, that's the vibe I get from how it's described. Additionally, gnomes in Golarion aren't tied as heavily to the tinker-style of gnomes, so the reliance on the clockwork servants and cogs-and-gears of the bridge portal to the library also feels forced. So, while there's tons of creativity on display here, it comes off feeling a bit mismatched to the setting for me.

Writing Ability: You're fairly good here, but some proofreading still could have helped (i.e., “to experience all manners of strange stories...”). Overall, though, it's pretty tight. It reads well, and you're doing a good job of presenting the material in a way that the reader can follow it very easily.

Mechanics/Gameplay: Like a lot of submissions this round, this setup relies on a lot of lesser CR creatures to boost the overall encounter. At CR 8, we're probably looking at 6th level PCs taking on this encounter. They can handle it without combat (which is great), or they can fight their way through against creatures which could be seen as significantly weaker than the PCs themselves (on the surface). But, unlike some of the other encounters to do this, the creatures you chose do have some staying power (e.g., pixies are often pretty hard to pin down, and clockwork servants have fast healing to help them recover if the PCs are forced to retreat). Eventually, though, it should become fairly easy if the PCs go in with anykind of invisibility equalizer and electricity-based attacks...something 6th level PCs should eventually get their hands on if they have time to prepare. So, it may become a fairly “easy” CR 8 encounter for them in the long run, and it might have worked better if you went with a single “major boss” monster and a lesser “lieutenant” to accompany them rather than spending so much of the encounter XP on lesser threats that may not pose a concern. Even the CR 1 hidden launchers may not be particularly daunting.

Professional Polish: Everything is mostly tight here. Typically, the Trap paragraph would be up above the stat-blocks along with the Creatures paragraph, though.

Recommendation: Taken altogether, I felt like this submission had some interesting elements going for it, but they might be misplaced with regards to the backstory. If this were just the entrance to a clockwork wizard's demiplane or hidden lair, I think it would work better than tying it so closely to the Bleaching. Additinally, the creatures in the actual encounter may not live up to the overall CR in actual gameplay, but under certain circumstances, they could definitely present a memorable challenge. The writing is also quite strong, and the professional polish is pretty tight, too. So, weighing everything together, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I DO RECOMMEND this designer to advance to the next round. If the voters see you through, however, I'd like to see a more cohesive whole with the creativity of your adventure pitch.

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

Hey Jason, 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:
As a developer who works on many adventures, I’m always considering how much I would need to work on an encounter to develop it and prepare it for publication. It’s certainly important for a contestant to create something that wows the judges with creativity and flair, but a submission can tip into the “recommend” or “don’t recommend” depending on how much editing and general revision is necessary.
Setting: Does your encounter fit in Golarion? Is the CR appropriate for the setting and the encounter? Is it clear how a GM might use this encounter? Have you clearly explained or referenced existing rules for any hazards and terrain features included in the encounter?
NPCs, Creatures, and Traps: Do the foes you selected contribute to the encounter and its theme? Do they feel natural or forced? Do your NPCs fit the location and provide enough context for a GM to run an encounter from start (a hook) to the end (when the PCs question any captives)? Do any traps or haunts fit the encounter? Do they 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
Wow, gnomes and the Bleaching are near and dear to me, so you’ve certainly got my attention. I’m curious to see where you’re going with this.

The Library of Wonders sounds like the sort of thing that desperate gnomes might have created during the Age of Anguish, which is when they performed their exodus and began to experience the Bleaching. Given gnomes’ desperate attempts at staving off the Bleaching, I’m surprised that they abandoned such a demiplane; it seems more appropriate that the caretakers would pass off the duty to other custodians who were less bored with the contents.

I’m rather confused about this library’s timeline. If the gnomes made it soon after experiencing the Bleaching, that means they made it around 8,000 years ago. If Sprig left a book within, does that mean the gnomes abandoned the library only a few hundred years ago? If that’s the case, then there are some significant ramifications if the gnomes have had this resource for the majority of their time spent on Golarion. Perhaps there’s something that I’m missing? I think I’d rather know that something took over and evicted the gnomes from this demiplane.

I rather like the idea of a bridge built out of the arch of a doorway—very clever! Even though I am skeptical about the demiplane’s concept, I appreciate your consideration of how the river continues to flow and how it affects its surroundings.

NPCs, Creatures, and Traps
I’ve re-read the entry a few times, and it appears that despite the pixie’s best intentions of keeping the bridge’s true nature hidden, the clockwork servants have a habit of emerging and confronting anyone who looks at the bridge the wrong way—that is, comes within 10 feet of the underside, which is pretty likely. It seems a bit counterintuitive, even if it does push the encounter to happen earlier and not draw out the scene to an uncomfortable length as the players scratch their heads about what to do next. Does this only happen once the PCs see through the illusion? If so, it should be clearer.

You have two creature types here. I strongly approve of the pixies, as their combination of memory modification and your good use of their illusion spell-like ability incorporate them very well into the encounter. I also appreciate that they’re a good fit for the nonlethal combat that is likely to occur and can assist the other guardians in seeing through lies.

I am less a fan of the clockwork servants, though that’s primarily a matter of personal taste. Like the pixies, the servants have a net attack that helps boost their nonlethal potential. However, their clockwork nature reminds me more of other campaign settings’ approach to gnomes as tinkers and clockwork devotees. Golarion’s gnomes do their share of mechanical invention, but they also have a really strong fey background that I’d rather see emphasized. For the same reason, I enjoy the mechanics of your hidden launcher traps even if I’m a little put off by their messaging.

It seems the clockwork servants emerge from under the bridge, but their combat tactics and how they move to avoid the traps seems to suggest that they spend most of their time on the bridge. It is important to cover both possibilities, but I’m imagining that unless the servants insist on walking up to bridge-level to speak with the PCs, emerging into the river could hamper the constructs quite a bit.

All that said, I enjoy a solid combat that has a roleplaying-based bypass condition. You’ve done a good job of providing plenty of context for the GM to run these NPCs.

Numbers
The DCs are approachable, and the experience point calculations all add up to match your encounter’s CR.

Style
Your writing style is very approachable with good variety in sentence structure. The main thing I would live to see less of is passive voice. Occasional use when veiling the subject’s agency can work, but try to remove all other instances.

After that, consider the approach to jokes in the adventure’s text. You’ll find a wide range of developer responses to puns and jokes in an adventure’s or encounter’s title, and I happen to be pretty far in the “no jokes” direction. Other RPG developers love them, so I can’t definitively recommend that you not do so at all.

Final Thoughts
At first I struggled with this encounter because there are some significant ramifications of the library demiplane’s existence—at least in its accessibility and timeline as currently written. That said, I like your writing style and how you built the encounter, even if I’m skeptical about the premise.

I am on the fence this encounter for advancement to the final round.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8 , Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka King Tius

Thanks Judges! It's such an honor to be here.

Dedicated Voter Season 9

Gnome’s Throw Crossing:
Description:

You do a wonderful job capturing exactly the gnomish mindset, transporting the reader to a cinematic view of Golarion. I like how it could tie into the next issue of Wayfinder. My only real issue is that Sprig should accompany the party; what better way to stave off boredom than accompanying a band of adventurers through a gnomish library? I’m also curious as to where the clockwork portions of the bridge and the mechanical guardians went off to; definitely a good introduction for the PCs.

Encounter (You Must Be This Short To Ride):
I love the name; 6 year old me is staring up at the coaster and grinning. Adult me is remembering why he GMs (since my GM disallows gnomes – weird but true). The actual mechanics of the bridge has nothing to do with a ride, so I was left disappointed.

Unless the bridge is 10’ thick, every traveler is going to trigger your mechanical guardians; some re-writing is necessary. Presumably the party has been told about the illusions, and the magical nature of the stream/bridge by the Sparklegems – some note of their circumstance bonus on the perception check (or doing away with the check) would be nice. If you incorporated Sprig into things, this could be a lot more fun (granny hops into the nigh-frozen creek, and swims out of sight, causing everyone to rush after her; strange buzzing sounds ensue after a couple rounds, maybe granny gives a little screech). Either way, the guardians should respond to a passphrase, or creatures who notice the mechanical underbelly of the bridge and interact with it. Perhaps an unlocking puzzle or mini-game would be appropriate; particularly one which evolves, given the gnomish penchant for staving off boredom?

I would have left the party a way to interact with your wall of gears; otherwise it’s not very interesting. I’d have made the two laws of clockworks more explicit rather than the uninformative phrase ‘a very strict set of instructions…’ If only Gnomes are permitted to enter then how do creatures get past the guardians? Do the Sparklegems inform the party of the two laws of clockworks? To the servants inform them?

Congratulations! You’re the first contestant I’ve seen to get his CR correct. It’s a bit unclear where the launchers are, much less where their trigger locations would be, so I’m a little leary on the actual challenge they add. Further it’s unclear to me how the servants would move around them without triggering the traps; some special interaction should be mentioned. The servants and pixies both don’t want to engage in direct combat; since the wall of gears effectively blocks the bridge their combat options are hampered; some sort of front line should be implemented, or the launchers should be considerably buffed (I worry you might need more than 3 launchers to cover 30 feet of river (across), and presumably 5-15 feet of river perpendicular to the bridge. Also the individual CR of your constituent parts are low – this is unlikely to pose a serious challenge to a level 5+ party (playtest pending). Then again, the party presumably has to swim in order to make it beneath the bridge. Hrm… Final judgement reserved until I can run a playtest.

The pixies feel a little out of place to me, I get the fey tie-in and think it’s neat. Pixies are typically mischievous however, and I don’t see why they’d want to guard a gnomish library; unless they’d caused some manner of mayhem inside (forcing the gnomes out), and wanted to keep passersby away from their antics. Something along those lines would feel significantly more appropriate to their mindset.

Resolution: None listed! D: It’s nice to see that the portal has repair bots, but a blurb about what the party’s actually doing there (and manage to accomplish by getting inside) instead of the actions of some mooks would be well appreciated.

Voting Rubric:
Is the general premise interesting and believable?

Weak yes to both; in need of further polish, but it’s close.

Does the setting description bring me into the gameworld, so that I see the encounter through my character’s eyes (or the NPC’s eyes if I’m the GM)?

Yes.

Do I have adequate descriptions of all the different setting pieces to run the game without a hitch (objects, setting, NPCs, enemies, traps)?

Mostly; I’d have liked a little more about the launcher placement, otherwise good.

Does the encounter draw the party into a conflict on their own terms, give them agency up to the climax, and allow a conflict resolution ideally setting up or concluding a larger plot-arc?
• Are the conflicts leading to the climax varied in nature?

There’s no build up to the climax.

• Are they thematic?
N/A
• Are they difficult enough to entice players without overshadowing the climax?
N/A
• Is the climax appropriate?
Yes, it is the entirety of the encounter.
• Does it encompass (and/or respond to) different avenues pursued by the players?
Yes.
• Is it challenging?
Playtest Pending; I don’t think so.
• Does it set the tone for a memorable resolution?
Bounce back traps, net guns, and faeries; I think people would complain about the encounter (it’s designed to stall the party and force a diplomatic pursuit).
• Is the resolution thematic and appropriate to the challenge (both difficulty and nature)?

Yes.

• Does it encompass (and/or respond to) different avenues taken by the players?

To some extent.

• Is it fulfilling (to the plot, to the characters, to the players, to the NPCs and setting)?

No; it grants entrance to an otherwise undescribed demi-plane. Presumably the party finds the book and the side quest ends.

Are the NPCs, Monsters, Traps, Enemies and Allies introduced in a way which supports the overall encounter and leaves me interested regardless of being player or GM?

Possibly.

Are the maps well labeled (clarity/concision)?

Reasonably; you left a lot of room for the GM to change placements to prevent the party from meta-gaming. I think this generally hurts your design, since it’s harder to get a picture of what you were expecting; on the other hand I generally appreciate having breathing room when running games.

Does the description support/is it appropriate to the map?

Yes in that it incorporates a stone bridge; it ignores the rest of the map.

Is everything organized well, so that I can find anything I need in a moment and figure out its placement in game?

Yes.

Does the encounter teach me something new about Golarion, and the encounter’s specific setting?

Yes.

Can I play through and enjoy it without extensive background knowledge; if not is this knowledge included for me?

Yes.

Does the encounter inspire me to do better in my own games and if so is it easily adaptable to them (as Player, GM, and Designer)?

Yes, I thought the stream-which-is-not-a-stream was clever.

Did the encounter surprise me (good or bad)?

Yes in its premise (the stream), no in its execution (the rest of the scenario is pretty generic).

Does the environment play a part of the encounter, and is it well integrated?

No; it incorporates the stream, but since you don’t outline the placement of your NPCs and traps I’m left to figure all that out myself. Also, the rest of the map is left un-utilized.

Effective use of tactics and morale?

Yes.

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

Going to start with this one because I love fey.

1) Golarion doesn't have tinker gnomes and a gnome facing the Bleaching should go adventuring, not have someone do it for them.

2) Fey are nature themed (First World) and having CLOCKWORK constructs with them is odd. Maybe some words should have been spent to describe the constructs as more nature themed.

3) Kyonin and Sevenarches lend themselves to an elf theme. Or with Sevenarches, something more sinister...

4) And never put a grate across a stream, unless you are trying to bar entry into something. That alone makes it worth investigating. Since it is an illusion, no leaves and branches would be stuck in this bridge along a "seldom-used road". So who is cleaning this supposed grate? More reason to investigate.

5) When walking along a path through a forest, a good sized bridge is the perfect place to take a quick break. Refill water and maybe cool off in the shade.

Verdict: I really want to like this one, but there are a lot of inconsistencies that irk me. Also, this "secret" library would have remained so until the first caravan/party passed this way.

p.s. Who throws gnomes when dwarfs are available?

p.s.s. The underside of the bridge would have to be checked for trolls. Just another reason to look underneath...

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

This year my intention is to give a first impression on each encounter then run them with a few friends to see if my impression of the encounter changes.

Also I'm not reading any other comments before hitting this with my first impression write up. I'm partly curious how it holds up to my later impression and what the pros have stated.

I'm going Good, Bad, and Ugly with a tentative grade. I'll post final grade after running.

Not quite First impression: **I glanced at this for the author don't worry it isn't getting mercy**

The Good There's some really keen elements here especially for a gnome character as this touches on the bleaching, the first world, magic, and mechanics all in the same package. I love pixies when they get to be a villain and the clockwork might be harder then people think.
The Bad The names bothered me with the first reading but you had bigger fish to fry and I tried to point those out first.
The Ugly It's still too weak in the challenge department. I poked at you on this and it is going to get moonwalked thru my my murderhobos even as I cap them at 6th level... We'll see but I'm calling that they wreck this within 2 rounds.
Overall Challenge might not be your fault as I think the CR scaling falls apart around 8-10th level or so as PC power starts to drastically change. I've been working on a Advanced player CR as it often annoys me that I as a GM start having to max hit points and advanc3d template everything to have even "epic" challenges last more then a round or 3 My tentative grade is a C+


I saw an earlier draft of this entry so I will be restrained in my comments.

The encounter is a straightforward idea: go to a place, discover some things, and then parlay or battle. It's got gnomes, lost secrets, some quirky things.

I have some severe concerns about the logic of the encounter, though. I don't know how this place would stay hidden. I don't know why the gnomes would send PCs to do a gnome's job. I don't understand what the library is supposed to be. I'm not an expert on Golarion but it's not clear to me how this fits into the gnomish lore.

I think my biggest reservation is that I don't understand how the PCs interact with the physical location, exactly. Like, is there a bank the PCs walk along? Given the map + encounter nature of this round, I'm just not sure this passes muster.

There is a lot to like here. It just kind of reminds me of a cake with really good icing, but the tiers haven't been supported properly and I'm worried it's going to fall apart.

Dark Archive

I looked over this entry beforehand, so I'm going to be very brief with my comments, and not give the same feedback I'm giving everyone else.

I know how Paizo can feel about jokes and puns, but as someone who likes playing gnomes, I absolutely love the encounter name (You Must Be This Short To Ride).

I hadn't even considered the issue with the grate and buildup of debris, but this is Golarion, and the road goes between Kyonin and Sevenarches, so maybe there's some old elven magic to keep it clear? I can easily see the elves incorporating something like that into their road and city structures. Though now I wonder what does happen to everything that washes down the stream... :)

I do think Sprig would have liked to come along, even if it was for a last "hurrah" before succumbing to the Bleaching. However, if she was truly that far gone, then maybe she no longer has the mental capacity to go adventuring? This was not something that was touched upon when I saw it previously, so I don't know the why or why not of it.

Overall, I think this is a fun setup, and anything to do with gnomes is always entertaining in my book!

Dedicated Voter Season 9

I have now had the chance to play-test this encounter (7th level party).

Unfortunately you have a lot of mechanical issues which complicates things. I elected to run as close to your script as possible, so as soon as the party approached within 10' of the bridge the servants came out and confronted the party. One person (the slayer) joined late, and no one in the party spoke gnomish, and the cleric did not have comprehend languages or tongues available so it was a slow start. The automata definitely need a more diverse language portfolio.

That said, once the Slayer joined in things got rolling; they talked to the automata, succeeding on a diplomacy check to convince them that the party (tiefling slayer, Half elf Swashbuckler, Yoon Pregen, Aasimar Cleric) needed to enter in order to save Mrs. Sparklegem. They succeeded through team effort, with Yoon and the swashbuckler feeding the slayer information about the gnome (aid another action) to help him build his case. They succeeded and were permitted passage.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Petty Alchemy

Hello Jason!

This is the 1st of the Encounters I had the pleasure to playtest, thanks to Trekkie running it.

The party was a Cleric (run by an inexperienced player), a Swashbuckler, a Stygian Slayer and a Kineticist (Yoon the pregen, run by me). We were all level 7, and started each encounter at full strength. I had skimmed all the encounters on the day they were released, so there were still some surprises in store.
With that said, how did your encounter go?

We arrived on the scene, and were charmed by the Gnomish clockwork servants. However, no one in the party spoke Gnomish, so we had difficulty communicating. Yoon made a DC 20 Linguistics check (created ad hoc by Trekkie) to get a sense that the servants were being polited, and tried to pantomime that we were after a book.

Our Slayer arrived a little late, and not having picked his bonus languages yet, decided he knows Gnomish. This made things easier, though as a murderhobo, he threatened the servants when they told him that only gnomes could visit the library. The Swashbuckler and Yoon guided the Slayer’s next words, suggesting he namedrop Sprig Sparklegem. With a 15 Diplomacy check, the servants decided that they should indeed help us help Sparklegem, and the encounter was over.

The setup was good, but an unprepared party (as we initially were) could not engage the encounter properly. Perhaps the pixies should translate for the PCs (while invisible), if the PCs don’t show aggression.

I can see this encounter being more fun in a campaign, rather than a one-shot as it was tested in. I would’ve liked it if the skill challenge was more mapped out, as that felt like the path most parties will want to take. The language barrier is very binary, so as I mentioned, I would’ve liked the pixies to translate if no one speaks Gnomish. Or if speaking Gnomish was just a bonus to the skill challenge.

I like the premise of this one, but with only two votes, don’t know if I’ll be able to give it one.

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 Jason,

Congrats on getting to Round 4.

First of all, I really like your location, which I think is one of the best in terms of adding to the campaign setting. I really like that you managed to do that with the bridge map, to boot, by using it as the entrance to your larger location. I do wish you had tweaked it slightly, though, to be more of a lost library -- having the gnomes just be bored and abandon the site kind of seems to defeat the point of its being this amazing collection. If they'd been somehow forced out, it makes it more of an objective to find and reclaim it, making it into a whole adventuring site, with this encounter just the first part of getting into the "dungeon."

I like the launching traps a lot -- I think that's fun and something I can totally see using somewhere in an adventure I run -- it's a nice change on a pit trap, IMO.

I didn't mind the gnomes and clockwork going together. I didn't really get a feel of old-style tinker gnomes so much as people who were likely to create a library would also have constructs to tend it. (And while I know the Advanced Race Guide isn't Golarion specific, it does have the experimental gunsmith archetype, so Pathfinder hasn't completely abandoned the idea of tinker-ish gnomes.) Gnomes of Golarion also mentions tech more than once -- the very first entry in the Found in Finderplain table, for instance, is "A collection of loose gears and clock hands." That said, the combination of fey (pixies) and constructs struck me as a little odd as those two are usually set in opposition. I think playing with that can be a fertile area for exploration, but I'm just not sure it works here.

I'm afraid with just two votes, I don't think I'm going to be using one of mine here, but best of luck.

Community / Forums / Archive / Paizo / RPG Superstar™ / Previous Contests / RPG Superstar™ Season 9 (2016) / Round 4: Design an encounter / Gnome's Throw Crossing – 1391 Words All Messageboards

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