Tag Archives: superstar

RPG Superstar 2012 Is Here

Another year, another RPG Superstar contest!  As they have the last four years, Paizo Publishing is having an open-to-all design contest. It consists of a number of rounds where the candidate pool gets culled down by experienced RPG designer judges.  The winner gets a module deal; even folks placing often get offers to do work with various gaming companies. So it’s a great opportunity to get your name out there!

Luckily you have like a month for the first round, because I haven’t been struck by the magic item inspiration fairy yet. Let me see what I can come up with…

Paizo RPG Superstar 2011 Hits Final Eight

If you’re not following Paizo’s RPG Superstar 2011 contest  you should be, if only because you get loads of really high quality game content for free out of it. So far it’s 32 wondrous items, something less than 32 archtypes, 16 villains, and soon 8 Golarion locations and 4 adventure plots.

As always props to Paizo for their openness and customer engagement!

Christmas Task: Enter RPG Superstar!

Merry Christmas all, I’m back from vacation and, now that the whiskey’s worn off, am looking for things to do to entertain myself.  If you are in the same position, then one thing you could do is to enter Paizo’s yearly RPG Superstar contest by creating an interesting new wondrous magic item and submitting it!  I already submitted, and the deadline’s Dec 31, so you still have plenty of time.  If you make the cut, there are subsequent rounds of submissions and eventually you get a module published.  (Even late-round losers get solicited by other companies).  So if you’re a budding RPG writer, give it a shot.

RPG Superstar 2009 Final Round

The RPG Superstar 2009 contest is in its final round!  Open to all, the winner gets to write a Pathfinder module for Paizo.  I just bought the one written by last year’s winner – S1: Clash of the Kingslayers by Christine Schneider!

Let’s check out the finalists.

Realm of the Fellnight Queen, by Neil Spicer

Hmm.  I know my gaming group, and they will immediately start referring to the titular villain as the “fellatio queen.”  It has to to with a bleached gnome following a fey queen’s commands to kill the local good fey in preparation for a Ravenloft-mists-type invasion from the fey realm.

I have to say, a couple things in here seem like a bit of a stretch.  There’s a new monster that’s formed when “a nixie’s vengeful spirit reforms after being slain by a chaos beast.”  That’s a bit… fringe.  One of the encounters is the dreaded “the party should know to flee this instead of fight” kind of encounter.  And there’s a lot of fey and gnomes.  Which is fine, if you’re into that, but in general I wouldn’t tend to buy and run this kind of adventure.  4e’s beating both the fae and shadows to death anyway.  The adventure structure is solid, but I just don’t find it compelling.

Dragonrest Isle, by Kevin Carter

A kind of Isle of Dread with the ethereal remains of a great dragon-on-dragon battle.  It’s definitely more of a “sandbox adventure” than a plot-driven one, which leads to some concerns about “what if they do that out of order” and “how are they supposed to know X except by luck.” For a sandbox adventure it’s a little short on random fun sandbox stuff, but I reckon there’s no reason a pitch needs every random encounter mentioned in it.

It’s pretty generic and not real Golarion-ey, but I think that’s OK, I think some folks overdo it on that front sometimes.  Just because I’m buying a Pathfinder adventure to set in Golarion doesn’t mean I necessarily need it to be so “deep into” the setting that I have trouble changing locales or plot points to suit my campaign.  (And in fact the next two guys get taken to task for not fitting into the rich world backstory.)

The pitch isn’t brilliantly constructed, but the adventure it describes seems fun.

Last Ride of the Mammoth Lords, by Eric Bailey

Poison turns barbarians into crazed plants!   Starts out with RPing with the barbarians and fun barbarian games.  There’s a bit of a wrinkle in that the hook is basically “go save the barbarians even though the barbarians don’t really want to be saved.”  Either you have some barbarian allies along (annoying for the GM) or you’re doing this despite them (annoying for the players).  But then you get to fight Amazons!  Everyone always wusses out and makes Amazons the good guys nowadays.  And a Savage Land kind of setup.  I like it.  I don’t really like big puzzles like the ziggurat, though “Crystal Skull” is fresh enough in people’s minds that it shouldn’t be a stumper.  Jacobs complains a lot about the deviations from canon, but says there is a ziggurat and dino infested savage land in the area – just underground.  OK, seems like a minor change to me.

Thirteen scenes seems like a lot depending on how much each one is developed, but not out of scope.  Doesn’t seem like more than the other submissions.

Denying the Boiling Beast, by Matthew Stinson

Some of the judges dis this title, but at least it’s more interesting than the normal “generic module name” trash out there.  “X of the Y” my ass.  Learn to live a little.  Every module title doesn’t have to sound like Gygax crapped it out.  It’s the one title that actually got my interest.

I like the adventure and its early progression.  The writing here is full of little grammar errors and wonkiness, however, which worries me about the state of the full adventure.

The adventurers get involved with the usual/cliche “guy getting his ass kicked in the city” hook, get hired as guards, and are shortly braving hurricanes and underwater adventuring.  Loads of good ideas; some questionable transitions.  The Boiling Sisterhood etc. are very super cool, but the plot seems like a bit of a mess.  What’s up with the killer owl?  In the end, it’s just too messy, which is a shame because it has a lot of good stuff going for it.

RPG Superstar 2009 Round 4 Open for Voting

Paizo Publishing’s latest RPG Superstar contest is now into its fourth round.  Contestants had to create a lair for a villain that someone else had designed.  Go check ‘em out and vote!  My thoughts:

Hecataeus: Sanctum of the Colossus
A lair for Hecataeus, wizardly master of constructs.  Good execution.  It triggered a couple of my pet gripes though.  If someone just rings the doorbell, what happens?  Does Hecataeus himself come to let them in, or what?  And WTF does “grief and suffering, in a social sense” mean?  Good descriptions though.  A lot of reliance on staged rooms, which reminds me of X11: Saga of the Shadow Lord (favorably).  Map is lovely.  Gets one of my votes.

Burnt Apple Haven

A lair for Rustin Harp, satyr bard.  I don’t like the name – is this where the Apple Dumpling Gang hangs out?  Not enough description and flavor.  What does the “starfish boy” look like exactly, for example?  And the tactics don’t take into account their close quarters.  Pass.

The Putrid Temple of Volner Taint
A lair for Volner Tain, lich.  Too-simple writing with many grammatical errors.  And inconsistent – the invisible stalkers and leukodaemons have their tactics in the text and the humans do in their stats?  Overly simple layout and really short.  Pass.

26 Paper Street
A lair for Bracht the Flesh Peddler, sorcerer and body sculptor.  I’m not sure whether I like having the adventure hook at the beginning of this one or not.  It has a load-bearing boss, which is OK – it’s cliche, but at least it’s clearly foreshadowed.  The Arm is cool if really just there for flavor.  I like the mouther in the icebox even though it doesn’t make any sense. Gets one of my votes.

The Abandoned Carnival at the Bumpy Apple Orchard

A lair for Rustin Harp, satyr bard.  Nice map, though that’s a mighty squared-off orchard. The weirdos here are very flavorful.  “Ogrekin Halfling Icosatuplets!” That’s worth the price of admission.  I like it.  Gets one of my votes.

The Legendary Playhouse Theater
A lair for Sharina Legend Singer, bard.  Beautiful map. The fights don’t seem all that hard or interesting.  And it seems like “she escapes through the trap door and plane shifts away” is a likely result, which is fine but lame. In the end, other stuff gets my votes, so this one’s a pass.

The Palace in the Ashen Wastes
A lair for Vashkar, the False Maharajah, vampire rakshasa.  Yay!  Flavorful, good fights.  I’m a little concerned that all the foes are in pretty close quarters and there’s no tactics for when they hear a bunch of fighting 20′ away, though.   And there’s not a lot of context to what’s going on.  Gets one of my votes but just barely.

The Lonely Colossus

A lair for Hecataeus, wizardly master of constructs.  Hmmm, the dungeon in a colossus is too much like Clash of the Kingslayers, the winner from last year, which docked it a point for me.  Decent and solid but didn’t ooze flavor IMO.  Some spelling errors.  Pass in favor of others.

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!

RPG Superstar Selected!

Congratulations to Christine Scheider of Neu-Isenburg, Hessen, Germany for emerging victorious in Paizo Publishing’s RPG Superstar contest!  It’s well deserved, her entries were all bad ass!  Check ‘em:

As the winner, she’ll get a GameMastery Module published by Paizo.  I’m eager to see it!  In fact, they’re already listing it as a product – S1: Clash of the Kingslayers.

RPG Superstar Final Round is Here!

Paizo Publishing’s excellent RPG Superstar contest is in its final round, and the four finalist’s complete adventure proposals are up! Read them, evaluate them, and vote!

However it turns out, compliments to all the participants and especially the final four, Christine Schnieder, Clinton Boomer, Jason Nelson, and Rob McCreary!