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RPG Superstar 2009: Villain Round 2

The third round of RPG Superstar 2009 is to redo your villain and add a stat block.  I have to say, I do not have the patience to wade through stat blocks, but let’s see who improved their villain and do a top level check for awesomeness.

Sharina, Legend Singer (Female human bard 6)

The bard who gives the party fame and danger to leverage fame for herself.  She’s not that much changed in fluff, but she’s grown on me in that I’ve internalized that there’s more description of her schemes beyond “she starts a war!”  I don’t think she was perfect enough not to brush up the fluff.  The writer uses a few more commas than good grammar can stand.   Stat block’s OK but unremarkable.  I approve of trying a low level villain, though.  Overall she’s decent but I would hesitate to say Superstar material.  5/10.

Kar-En-Helit, Vessel of Moeris (Male human ghost wizard 18 )

This guy’s totally reworked and I liked the previous fluff better.  Now he’s a guy who’s waiting to ensoul his Osirian god-emperor ancestor ghost.  Concept’s fine, but the execution is a little confusing.  Especially as it splits focus between before he emerges and after, and there’s not enough info on either.  As for the stat block, I’m pretty confused about what are Kar-En-Helit’s stats, what are Moeris’ stats, and what are the stats of Moeris-in-Kar-En-Helit.  3/10.

Vashkar, the False Maharajah (Male vampire rakshasa Monk 8/Fighter 1/Eldritch Knight 4) *

Reworked from “generic rakshasa” to “demented vampire rakshasa who kills vampires and rakshasas!”  Much, much more interesting.  He starts to fall into the trap of not being in enough conflict with the PCs however.  The stat block is just huge.  I’m not so sure about legitimacy of the Eldritch Knight levels boosting his spellcasting (which is purely racial).  Triple class nonhuman with a template may be pushing it complexity-wise.  And even for CR20 this is a little buff.  AC50, SR40, multiple DRs.  24 special abilities goes over my line for what I’d like to deal with.  I think being a vampire rakshasa monk would be more than enough, especially with the new bloodline.  But you have to respect biting off such a huge task.  7/10.

Aelfric Dream-Slayer (male human reincarnated wood elf lich druid 15)

Was one of my favorites from last time.  He’s a druid who wants to stop an aberrant dream invasion by killing anything that can dream.  Fair enough!  Fluff slightly reworked and seems not as tight as last round.  I feel like the addition of the Rovagug reference is to be gratuitously Golarionesque.  And the stat block is kinda messy and error-prone.  Hrm.  5/10.

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RPG Superstar 2009: Villain Round

The Paizo RPG Superstar 2009 second round is in, and you can go read and vote on the villain entries from the top 32!

I am disappointed in these, especially in comparison to last year’s excellent entries.

What is it with druids and bards?  The two lamest classes.  Whenever my gaming group fights a bad guy and realizes they’re a bard or druid (or monk), we laugh, relax, and get to spanking them.

And the motivations this year – jeez! Everyone was a cliche. “I like to kill because…”

  • I’m EVIL!
  • I’m INSANE!
  • I’m a CULTIST!
  • I want WEALTH and POWER!

Here’s my thoughts in depth.

Phenyekashi (3/10)
A bone devil that just meditates but leaks corruption into the area.  Seems more like a plot device than a villain.  Could be an artifact instead of a creature and have the same “corrupt the locals” effect.

Bricius, The Wrath of the Forest (2/10)
An anti-civilization druid.  Pretty standard really, I’ve seen a dozen just like him before.

Sharina Legendsinger (4/10) *
An annoying paparazzi.  More of a plot device than anything, as all the proposed schemes/plots require the DM to assume social engineering succeeds on a level way past a 6th level bard’s capacity.  “She starts a war!”  Really?

Paradigm Theoguard (4/10)
A forceful pacifist.  OK, at least that’s different…  The name is awful.  And you’d better have a *really* good-aligned party, or else they’ll just catch his  minions stealing something and terminate them (likely legal in most medieval municipalities).

Montellan Corey (2/10)
A generic serial killer.  I’ve never seen one of *those* before.

Kar-en-haris (6/10) *
A thinking man’s cultist right out of one of the Mummy movies.  Still a bit of a stock character, but at least he has an agenda more interesting than “kill.”

Haldon Valmaur (4/10)
Well, it’s a little more colorful to want to kill elves rather than just kill.  But only a little.

Varrush (2/10) *
A generic rakshasa that sounds like every other rakshasa in the world.  Declaring a villain a mastermind doesn’t really make him more interesting.

Aelfric Dreamslayer (8/10) *
A pro-elf druidical lich.  OK, that’s interesting.  Heck, it might make Haldon an interesting character to be used as a foil.  Good staying power.  I like it!

Zelicia (6/10)
Crazy hot scorpion lady.  Interesting and memorable, though seems like a one trick pony for a standard adventurer “kill your way up the food chain” adventure.

Volner Tain (5/10) *
I liked the setup backstory but then he turned into “generic evil undead guy.”

Count Falconbridge (6/10) *
Hmm.  The execution’s not all I’d want, but I like the idea here, especially if unwound gradually enough and with enough plausibility to get the PCs initially on his side, ask themselves some hard philosophical questions…

Zavanix (1/10)
A killer pixie.  Like a generic serial killer but with more cliches sprinkled on him.  No thanks.

Boemundo (2/10) *
Just a monster, really.  “He used to have a personality, but now that he’s a wraith he done forgot all that.”

Derinogen (3/10) *
A good kernel of an idea that could have been very Nip/Tuck but instead just got boring.

Malgana (7/10) *
OK – more of a plot device or even object than a villain, and more helpful than really a villain, but it’s just so much FUN!  Assemble your own undead goblin!  She needs a better endgame than the lame “and then she’ll kill them” however.  Though I agree with all the other judges’ comments, this one at least interested me, unlike 90% of the other entries.
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RPG Superstar 2009 Round One – Results Are In!

Paizo Publishing is holding their second RPG Superstar contest to find some new talent out there in gamer-land.  The first round, where hundreds of folks submitted wondrous items for the judges’ perusal, is over and the top 32 have been selected!  Go check ‘em out.

Sadly, I’m not one of them.  So to avoid waste, here is my entry!  Taking prisoners is always so hard in D&D.  If someone may be a spellcaster, it’s hard to argue that they can be safely kept alive.  I’ve been in many a party that’s tried to interrogate a captured enemy; bound hand and foot, with a dagger to their throat in case they utter any arcane syllable.  Then can you really leave them lying around?  This item helps solve that problem.

SHACKLES OF SUBMISSION
Aura moderate abjuration, enchantment; CL 6th
Slot hands, feet; Price 13,000 gp; Weight 5 lb.

Description:
This linked pair of adamantine masterwork wrist manacles and ankle fetters traditionally has the symbol of Abadar stamped deeply on each of its four cuffs.
A creature bound by the shackles is considered to be entangled. These shackles magically silence a bound creature; this effect may be turned on and off by their captor at will. When not silenced, the bound subject is forced to give only truthful answers to questions as if inside a zone of truth. Lastly, the individual binding the wearer can issue suggestions (as the spell, with a six hour duration but no save) to the bound creature at will. These magical effects still function even if the leg fetters are removed (or both cuffs attached to one leg, a usual solution if the bound creature is required to travel under its own power).
They fit any Small to Large creature. The DC to break or slip out of the shackles is 30.

Construction:
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, silence, zone of truth, suggestion; Cost 6,500 gp

New Year’s Greetings!

Like everyone else, I’ve been out of pocket for the holidays.  But I’m back, and more gaming goodness is coming your way soon!

First, our gaming group will be running a short Savage Worlds campaign.  One of our members (Bruce, our session scribe and Valash Not-Gurelle from our Curse of the Crimson Throne game) is having to travel on business most of the next couple months.  As a result, weeks when he’s not in town you will not get a Crimson Throne session summary, but instead a “Empire of Ashes” summary, powered by Savage Worlds and run by Chuck.  Exciting!

Second, I’m excited about the new RPG Superstar 2009 contest being held by Paizo, and I’ll be reporting on this year’s as I did on last year’s!  And I’ve entered Round One with a wondrous item – let’s see how that goes.

Third, I’ve been reading a lot lately, and my curse from being a RPG geek for so long is that I always try to apply what I read to gaming, from the gaming-ready plots of World War Z to the world-building advice of Guns, Germs, and Steel…   So I’m going to start installments of Books and Gaming (needs a better title).  May as well fill the gap – AD&D 1e had a while bibliography of suggested reading.  This has given way to “filmographies” for more recent games, or even “watch the TV show I’m based on” – or now with D&D 4e, whose inspiration is simply “touching myself while gold farming in World of Warcraft.”

Happy 2009 to all!

New RPG Superstar Contest

Paizo Publishing is starting a new RPG Superstar contest for the gaming community!   Basically, it’s open entry and you submit more and more complex items each round to get chosen as a potential author.

It starts with anyone who wants submitting a wondrous item – the judges and community discuss and pare that down to the top 32 entries.  Those 32 enter a villain concept, which similarly gets judged and pared down to 16, which stat up the villain.  The final 8 design a villain’s lair with map, and the final 4 submit a complete design proposal.

The rounds are slightly different from the 2008 RPG Superstar awards, for which all the content is still up on the Paizo boards.  The previous year had six rounds, and they were more unrelated – design 3 thematically linked monsters, design a country…  Some of the entries from last year were really, really great, just toally crackerjack.  Christine Schneider (the eventual winner) and Clinton Boomer’s were my favorites.  (See here for my posts covering the 2008 event.)  The country round was my favorite, too bad there isn’t another this year.  But the wondrous item round will be using Pathfinder RPG stats this time!

Want to show your chops?  Enter an item between 12/5 and 1/2!

WotC Rethinking Open Gaming

In a post on the ENWorld boards, a WotC rep says that they’re still reviewing the basic premises behind the GSL.  Has Paizo’s Pathfinder RPG play scared them into thinking that any degree of openness isn’t the way to go?

To me, this is one of the largest decisions that Wizards could make regarding D&D 4e.  The prior OGL was a huge moment in gaming and helped catapult D&D back to the top from being a bankrupt and irrelevant little thing.  In my opinion, any decision to go back on it would be both stupid and ultimately harmful to D&D/WotC.  I’ve played D&D a long time and would love to keep playing it.  Even if 4e has retarded stuff in it, I can houserule it, heck, publish my own “nonretarded” variant, and keep going.  If they choose to make it not open however – then I won’t bother, I’ll go with Pathfinder or something else exclusively.

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First Runelords “Stone Giants” Session Summary Posted

It’s been a long haul, but we’ve now started Fortress of the Stone Giants, the fourth installment in the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path! Nothing subtle about these bad boys. Also, some more full character sheets are up on the main campaign page.

Fortress of the Stone Giants Part I

Our special Spring Break adventure follows the standard format of a Spring Break vacation. A road trip, gossip, shopping, violence, assessing the damage, and fleeing the scene.

Drop a line or comment on the blog if you’re enjoying these!