Round 1On a whole this was a great idea for a round.
The background, description and so was a great way to check the writing skills of the competitor.
I liked it that you gave us permission to use any obscure rule of the SRD, but I do think this may create unbalance between character's strength in the 4th round (something that actually happened), and so make it harder to judge between the characters there... more on that in the 4th round.
I believe that the mechanical character creation (sheet correctness, how clear it is, and the character's balance) should hold a larger side of the grades. At least 50%. The rest of the points are for writing skills in the end, and there will be enough chances to check that up in later rounds.
Almost forgot - the traits: I think that having us roll for traits was problematic. We should have just chose those that fitted us best and use those (and if someone wanted to roll for himself, it's his problem). I don't think that limiting our characters with predefine traits is something that would help us create a good character, a character is a living concept that changes with every word you write down (at least for me). To predefine the character might be beneficial to some writers, while other might find it limiting. I think that the need to roll the character traits (though you changed it later) was even a worse idea. A bad set of rolls will be devastating to some players, and I don't think luck should play such a big part in this competition.
Round 2I loved the simplicity of the round.
The funny story was a big plus also. Without the pressure of combat you could really relax and have fun with it.
You could easily get a more active view of the character from the first round and see it in action.
Don't really have anything bad to say about this round.
The only thing I do have is a question - what is the point of this round? As I understand it:
The first round's point is to measure our character creation ability.
The 3rd round is to measure our role playing ability (though it is actually checked in every round).
The 4th round is to measure our roll playing ability.
But what is the second's? Does it really needed with the rest of the rounds as they are?
Third roundThis was a real fun round.
Making us play against each other with no intervention from the DMs was a really nice twist.
Playing a different character than the one we created was also a great idea.
The balance of it being the same character was a great way to measure us against each other. The twist of us having the same name was also a nice addition.
The two paragraphs that explained about the situation and those we spoke for was very unclear. I needed to go through the text at least a dozen times to understand the situation, and was still left with some unanswered questions (of course I could have asked the judges, but you try not to do it in a competition). The smart player would take advantage of it and will use his best interpretation of the situation to his advantage, but I'm not sure this was what you had in mind (and I'm very sure not all players saw it that way).
Getting us to be either on the good side or on the evil was a bit unbalanced (either because it was too easy for the good side, or because the evil side had more chance to shine). I think a bit more balanced rolls would have been better.
It seem from what I've seen that you searched here for some inventive uses of spells. This was a debate, I would think that anyone seeing a spell being cast in a debate (without a good reason behind it) would take it really bad (and my character actually cried foul when her competitor did so). Of course, there are uses that will be really great here, like major image to show your point, but I think that more aggressive spells might be a really bad idea (and that's why I was really surprised when a judge noted that I didn't use spells like suggestion). My point is, in a round that don't give you many chances of using spells, either give us the tools to use it (melodic casting, other feats or rods...) or don't expect us to use such spells, especially when you said that we should not combat each other.
Like we all agreed, the flaws system was a bit problematic:
First I'll say that I think this was a great idea. The flaws were interesting and fun.
Now, if the description of the situation was bad, some of the descriptions of the flaws were terrible. I assume some of the flaw's description was a flavor text, but it wasn't clear so we had to take it as it is (again, you don't want to ask for clarifications in a contest). This was very confining, and sometimes even contradicting. I needed to actually think up an entire character in order to make sense of the descriptions of the flaw, my opponent could not use his flaw more than once, and another player had to make his character completely incomprehensible to follow the description. The flaw need to be much clearer, and flavor text should be explained as such.
Giving us different flaws here was the first time in the competition were not all players were given equal opportunities (either by having a too hard to play flaws or having a too boring ones). I think this could become much better if you would have given us more freedom (and being clearer about it, like I wrote before) in how to play the flaw would have helped in this also.
Round 4I really liked this round and its story, but I think it completely missed its purpose (being combat round).
Having two rounds of combat out of two weeks of play was really not enough to show our abilities as roll players. I think that after three rounds showing only our role playing this round could have just skipped over most of that. There is enough room to show our writing skills in our combat posts.
The score of this round should also have been comprised of mostly (at least 50%) our battle prowess and less of our character interactions and such. Of course that in PbP combat your writing skills can shine in combat just as much as in a more relaxed interactions, and I think this should be the main writing skills measurement of the character. The other rounds already checked the player other abilities and the focus here should be different. Other interactions could be valid, but they should be something that relevant to combat (like rousing the villagers for battle, or asking them to help heal you...).
There could be flavor posts between combats (if there's enough time), but most posts of this "combat round" should be in combat.
I also think different kinds of combat should be checked (surprise attack, after buffs, attacks from afar...)
4/10 (only because I think it failed as a "combat round")
Entire competition feedbackAlthough I do agree that writing skills should have the most important role in choosing the best PbP player, I do think it actually had too much power here. There are 4 different rounds and you chose each round to check a different aspect of a player's ability. I think that if going by that choice that aspect should have much more to say about if the player wins that round, and that is true especially when you take into account that there are rounds that checks specifically his writing skills. Yes, writing skills and role playing abilities are the most important factors in an PbP RPG, but even if you give it no more than 50% of every round (except the RP rounds) it will still be the most important factors by far.
I think the idea was to split adventuring into the combat (the 4th round) and the between combat (the 2nd round). Although this was done excellently at the 2nd round (no combat or even chance of combat), it was not done in the 4th at all.
I don't know if it even can be fixed, but I don't think there was an equal opportunity to all character archtypes. A rogue could not have showed it's awesome dungeon crawling prowess, nor could a paladin show his evil hatred (those are just instant examples, I'm sure you can find better ones).
Everything I said until now was small things that could help make the contest better. This is much more important. It is my only real criticism and is the most important thing I have to give feedback on:
I think making the competition into a tournament was wrong. I do believe that many awesome players did not have the chance they should have had because of it. It is true to every tournament in some respect, but here because each round is completely different and also check for different attributes in a player this creates the awful state of a player passing to next stage because he was better only in a debate, or because he had the very good luck of being with two other weaker players, while another player lose his place because he had the really bad luck of being against the two other strongest players in the current round's checked attribute. For instance, someone that is the best roll player, the best debater, the best character creator, but only the 5th strongest interaction role player might not pass the second round because he happened to be against the 2nd and 3rd best interaction role players, in spite him being the undeniably best player in the competition.
I think that the way to handle that problem is not to count the player's score against the others he played with in that round, but against all the players that played that round.
DM: "Galstaf you have entered the door to the north. You are now by yourself standing in a dark room, the pungent stench of mildew emanates from the wet dungeon walls."
Me: Click here
I have returned! (Now in the new and improved 5th edition package)
Last edited by syberpuppy; 10-03-2011 at