Monday, January 26, 2015

Notes on judging Round 3

Round 3 is fast approaching, and I've started planning how I intend to review the 16 monster entries. Below is a sort of a checklist I'm going to use, though of course it doesn't cover everything, just the most obvious things. So don't be surprised if I comment on something not specifically mentioned below.

It's also good to remember that not all things are equal; creativity and a good, consistent concept usually mean more to me than getting the math and presentation 100% right. Though of course, any contestant that makes it this far should be able to make their monster Superstar in every way without neglecting any part.

Name & concept
  • Is the monster consistent with the Golarion canon, while also being new and original?
  • Does the name sound interesting and fitting for what the monster is and does?

Descriptive line
  • Is the descriptive line usable as read-aloud text regardless of when and where the monster is encountered?
  • Is the descriptive line dynamic and engaging enough to make me want to read more?

Stat block
  • Does the math add up and are the numbers appropriate for the monster's CR?
  • Does the formatting and presentation match the Round 3 template and the style used in Paizo's bestiaries?

Special abilities
  • Does the monster have new, interesting, and unique special abilities?
  • Are the special abilities mechanically fairly simple but elegant?

  • Does the description give the GM useful information that can be used in adventure and encounter building?
  • Does the description provide enough information so that the monster's abilities, environment, behavior, and every part of the entry make sense as a whole?

Final verdict
As for my recommendations / final verdicts, I'm going to use several tiers so that the contestants and voters get a better idea of which entries were good and which were Superstar. I'm going to use at least the following three tiers for recommendations:
  • I strongly recommend this entry to advance...
  • I do recommend this entry to advance...
  • I don't recommend this entry to advance...


  1. Interesting post, Mikko. Has Paizo instructed you on this criteria and/or what they are looking for in a superstar monster? Or are you free to judge the entries as you see fit?

    1. Good question! There is no strict set of rules I have to follow, but I intend to use my prior experience as an RPG Superstar finalist, freelancer, and monster design contest judge as the basis for how I review the entries. Basically what you see above is the result of dozens/hundreds of pages worth of advice, feedback, research, and observations squeezed into a condensed, reader-friendly format. (Btw, I'm still adding more bits of advice to the post, so it's currently a WIP.) Some of it reiterates advice that RPG Superstar judges give to contestants and Paizo's developers give to freelancers, some of it builds upon and expands on that advice. At any rate, since I'm a new judge, I think it's fair that contestants and voters have a chance to see my judging criteria before they submit their entries. I hope that answers your question!


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