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  #136  
Old Dec 6th, 2007, 03:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AgWolf
and now I need only pray that I didn't liken certain politicians to necromancers or fiendish moles.
Things like that are what make adventure designing fun
Congratulations on winning, though. Sorry I didn't put up a better fight.
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  #137  
Old Dec 6th, 2007, 07:45 AM
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I can't stop looking at myself in that picture... Man am I hot.. look at my abs...
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  #138  
Old Dec 6th, 2007, 02:32 PM
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Quoting Wolfgang Baur regarding the RPG Superstar contest; just some general advice not pertaining to this competition per say but I found to be useful:

QuoteSo I've been judging the RPG Superstar contest over at Paizo, and working with Erik Mona and Clark Peterson has been a pleasure. Those two are smart and savvy publishers, with a keen nose for what works and what stinks in a Wondrous Item or a fantasy country or an adventure. I've been trying to keep up.

It's clear from the first two rounds that there's at least three or four things that contest entries need to do and do well to succeed. They're the foundation of good writing in general, but with an RPG twist. Here's my take on

1) Don't Be Dull: As a written form, a contest entry has very little margin for error. Judges are just looking for an excuse to weed out entries in a cattle call (because the number of entries is overwhelming). Voters are looking for an excuse to move on and read something more interesting. You need to grab their interest right away, and don't let them blink until they've read the whole thing!

In practical terms, this means leading with the good stuff. Put your strongest idea right up front, in the headline or the first paragraph. Develop that killer idea with supporting material, and don't wander off to unrelated topics. You need a firecracker to get people's attention, in other words, plus more pretty lights that lead neatly to the end. Don't start off a country with stats, taxes, and the local bureaucracy. Instead, appeal to gamer instincts right way.

Note that this doesn't mean zany gonzo stuff always wins. Zany gets people's attention, but the ninja-dwarves-on-fire premise that makes everyone say 'Never seen THAT before!' will quickly turn into 'And there's a good reason why: this is dumb'. Walk the fine line between sexy sizzle and just plain weird. Take some risks.

2) Know Your Craft: Some truly imaginative and inventive entries have gotten slammed for poor naming, poor use of language, and simply the inability to go smoothly from point to point.

There's no way around it; if you want to be a great RPG designer, you need to be at least an above-average writer, because no editor I know is just itching to rewrite your good idea from the ground up. Ideas are the easy, fun part; what really counts is execution, both in prose and mechanics. Of those two elements, concrete and active prose has more immediate impact, so it's more valuable in a contest setting.

Bad game mechanics will sink you completely, but finding them requires a little more thought and time for voters to uncover. The design-a-country round was mostly about strength of prose and high-level worldbuilding. Those entries that did that well will sail through to the next round which includes a much larger mechanical element.

3) Know Your Audience: Some of the countries have simply failed to address the needs of the reader; that is, they fail to provide tools for running a game there. The audience for the Wondrous Items round of the contest was really players and DMs who might use these items as treasure or items to create. That was then.

The country audience is DMs looking for someplace to set a campaign or an adventure. What makes a country appeal to that audience? It's different things for different people, but just a catalog of geography and population stats isn't going to be enough. A strong theme, solid reasons for adventure, new ways to present fantasy staples: there are many ways to make a setting click. I think the majority of the contestants found at least one way to make their country stand out. The great entries reinvented something, or combined multiple strengths in prose, design decisions, and utility to keep the audience engaged.

4) Inspire Your Reader: The goal of all writing is to connect with a reader and get a reaction, such as narrative pleasure from fiction, knowledge from nonfiction, or the sense of wonder that a great game sourcebook can give you. If you aren't aiming to make people go "Wow!", you are in the wrong business. Fantasy RPGs are not about the mundane, not even about the utilitarian their core is magic, especially traditional creatures and tropes. Forget this at your peril.
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  #139  
Old Dec 7th, 2007, 12:05 PM
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Just thinking... wouldn't it have been cool to have a mystery adventure where the killer was a magical fiendish mole (the blemish kind) that jumped from person's face to person's face and made them kill people? and it had an accomplice (cohort) the Murdering Mustachio... the Gruesome Goatee... the Bloody Beard... Evil Eyelashes... a whole assassin's guild of diabolical facial features...
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Last edited by Silent Tiger; Dec 7th, 2007 at 12:07 PM.
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  #140  
Old Dec 7th, 2007, 10:22 PM
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...The Sanguinary Scar? The Caustic Combover?

If you wanted... I'm not lurking, I'm... Er... Stalking... Umm... Myself... And I'm here, so I had to go here...
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  #141  
Old Dec 9th, 2007, 06:55 PM
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So... Now looking back, I think it was a good thing I didn't make it past the first round in this. The adventures are amazing, as well as I have had like no free time since coming to China. So... with it in the final round, good luck to AgWolf and Robison. ^^ I look forward to seeing what you guys come up with.
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  #142  
Old Dec 9th, 2007, 09:33 PM
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Well, it's done, and I've no regrets. This was certainly a lot of fun for me, giving me something to wrack my brain with between finals, and it's definitely helped me come up with some ideas that I hope you've all enjoyed. Now to just sit back, work on my next paper, and await everyone's opinion. Thanks for having me as part of this contest!
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  #143  
Old Dec 9th, 2007, 09:46 PM
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Both of the submissions are up and I think the judges will have their work cut out for them. Good Luck to both of you. I've had nothing but pleasure reading each of the submissions. I see no reason we can't do this contest more often. I think I may even throw my hat into the ring.
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  #144  
Old Dec 10th, 2007, 02:30 PM
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Wow, those gotta be some of the coolest things I have ever read. I am glad as hell I am not judging.
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  #145  
Old Dec 10th, 2007, 03:50 PM
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I have read over these two entries three times and am still judging.
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  #146  
Old Dec 11th, 2007, 04:43 PM
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Ah well, gave it a good shot anyway. I have to admit, my heart definitely wasn't in the last one. I prefer to write a good roleplay experience where the players have to use more logic than dice, but the problem I've noticed with that is that the players are typically railroaded along a given plotline without any room for error, deviation, or choice. Additionally, unless the game is long (and with a 2500 word limit, that's quite difficult to accomplish while also explaining everything), it takes a lot of skill to weave combat into such a story, given how many different outcomes a battle can have.

In my first two games I fell into this trap, and after writing the main story, had to go back and work in a few fights for the PCs. Trying to make the game appeal to everyone was another mistake I made, as I had a lot of ideas that had to be scrapped if the party contained a paladin/evil character/druid/etc. An example of this is the devious nightmare in round one: my initial idea was for the PCs to have to carefully bargain with the creature so that it would use its etherealness ability to transport the PCs to Matthias. However, it would take a lot of thinking for the PCs to work the nightmare into such an arrangement, and they're far more likely to just kill it.

After getting the reviews on game two, I felt people didn't want another mystery, so I tried to go with a more combat-oriented game, and obviously that didn't go so well. Robison, well done. I really like your game, and your use of some of the ingredients was very original. I never even considered the star representing a celebrity. Though, I do find the motive to be lacking...it seems a bit of a stretch for a vengeful wife/doppelganger to suddenly delight in the torture of innocent civilians, it would be far more likely to seek vengeance against anything still connected to its ex-husband. It's also an extraordinary feat to single-handedly build an entire clockwork maze underneath a sprawling trade city and not have anyone notice a thing. But I digress. Well-fought, and I hope to see more of your games in the future.

On a final note, I found something that I believe applies to all of us contestants, spoken by Prospero at the end of Shakespeare's The Tempest:

"Now my charms are all o'erthrown,
And what strength I have's mine own,
Which is most faint: now, tis true,
I must be here confined by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got,
And pardoned by the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island, by your spell.
But release me from my bands,
With the help of your good hands:
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please: Now I want
Spirits to enforce...art to enchant -
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be reliev'd by prayer,
Which pierces so, that it assaults
Mercy itself, and frees all faults....

As you from crimes would pardoned be,
Let your indulgences set me free."

Shakespeare can be a little confusing at times though, so what Prospero is saying is that as his spells and magic are broken at the end of the play, he finds that he himself is a prisoner of the stage. His only purpose was to please the audience, and asks that they set him free through their words and applause. I believe I speak for every contestant in saying that this was a challenge, albeit a very enjoyable one, and we hope that you, our audience, have enjoyed the performance.
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  #147  
Old Dec 11th, 2007, 05:01 PM
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Some ingredients work well for some and others, not so much. I think that your earlier entries were probably in the top 4 of all the entries in the contest. That said, it is usually much harder to force yourself to write or design in a manner different from what you are used to. Also, the word count is not a hard line, but rather a guide. You writing is captivating where I dont think exceeding the word count would have been an issue. You did indeed captivate the audience!!
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  #148  
Old Dec 11th, 2007, 06:11 PM
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I don't like railroading either, but sometimes you can really really entice characters to follow what you want. You just have to know your PCs and their motivations, which really helps when the players make good backgrounds for their characters. Otherwise you have to have a really good incentive to lead them. But I agree it is really hard to write that into an adventure.
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Last edited by Silent Tiger; Dec 11th, 2007 at 06:13 PM.
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  #149  
Old Dec 11th, 2007, 08:11 PM
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Wow, That is so cool that I won. I really thought that most of my ingredient uses were far stretches. The two that I thought were solid were the ones that were pointed out as poor. LOL Thanks for putting on this contest I have had so much fun participating. Now I fear however, that I will not be able to write an adventure without having a bizarre list of random idea to work from.
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  #150  
Old Dec 11th, 2007, 08:16 PM
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apparently I have more to say.

Agwolf: The doppelganger in my last story went very insane after her husband killed her baby and tortured her. I was attempting to play off the concept that sometime something so bad happens that the only way a person can deal with it is to become it. In the story the doppelganger was seeking to regain the control that was taken from her, by reliving the event over and over again as the attacker instead of the victim. Do you follow me?

Last edited by Robison; Dec 11th, 2007 at 08:28 PM.
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