Thursday, December 11, 2014

RPG Superstar: A Captivating Tournament

Captivating Tournament (Ex) Once per year, Paizo can conjure an entertaining and enthralling RPG-design contest that lasts for 90 days. During this time, creatures that visit must succeed on a DC 17 Will save or become captivated by the contest's alluring appeal. Until the contest ends, affected creatures have a 50% chance to act normally each hour, otherwise they spend that hour voting on wondrous items or other entries, and posting comments on Paizo's messageboards. Affected creatures with the gamemaster subtype must also succeed on a DC 17 Will save each year or be compelled to design a wondrous item and enter the contest. The save DCs are Charisma-based.

I'm here now, writing my first post as a guest-blogger on Mikko Kallio's A Sword for Hire, because of RPG Superstar 2014. Only a little longer than a year ago, I had never heard of RPG Superstar. I was, and still am, a player and gamemaster of the Pathfinder RPG, but hadn't considered designing for the game. Then, about a year ago, I became aware of the contest during a visit to, and within moments of reading about the contest, I felt compelled to design an item and enter. I shared this enthusiasm with a good friend of mine, and he, too, entered.

Once the voting for Round 1 of the contest began, my enthusiasm and enjoyment surged. The experience I had reading wondrous items, voting, and hoping for my item to appear was so entertaining that I found myself staying up later than I should—not to any harmful effect, of course, though I did willingly lose some sleep to get in just one more, two more, three more hours of voting. On top of the enjoyment, I learned a lot during Round 1. So much so, that I was not overly surprised or disappointed when my item failed to advance. However, I was elated to learn that my good friend had made it to the top 32 as a first-time entrant!

Even before the results of Round 1 were in, I was captivated. The contest had instilled within me a keen interest in writing formal designs for the Pathfinder RPG. First, I submitted the monster that would have been my second-round entry to Wayfinder #11, where it now appears. Next, I completed two articles that you'll see in the upcoming Wayfinder #12. Finally, I designed a creature for Mikko's Here Be Monsters contest, the sianach, and became a top-5 finalist. My participation in the contest led me to the Freelance Forge, which led to my correspondence with Mikko about contributing to A Sword for Hire. So, I'll repeat, without RPG Superstar 2014, I wouldn't be posting this right now.

Now that you know how I got here, here's what you can expect from my posts: flavor with a little crunch.

What I can offer in the way of crunch is limited by the small amount of ranks I have in Knowledge (rules) and Knowledge (campaign setting). What I can offer is posts that introduce items and monsters in a transparent design process, where I'll attempt to incorporate feedback and suggestions made by commenters, leading towards finished designs that you can use in your game.

My primary contribution to A Sword for Hire will be colorful images. Even before RPG Superstar 2014, I began taking photos of the miniatures I use when I play Pathfinder. I'll post those and other images, and will sometimes ask for your suggestions for captions or speech bubbles. I think you'll find that my photos have a unique and striking appearance, and I hope that you enjoy seeing them as much as I enjoy taking them. With or without images, most of my posts will focus on flavor and entertainment over rules and analysis.

Thanks to Paizo for hosting RPG Superstar 2015, and many thanks to Mikko for inviting me to post on his blog. Finally, best of luck to everyone entering the contest—may you see your own item often in the Round-1 voting, and may you make the top 32.

Joe Kondrak

You are free to download the images I post on A Sword for Hire for your own personal use. Here's a sneak peak at the kinds of images I'll be posting:

Desiccated Chamber

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