RPG Superstar Season 9

Become an RPG Superstar!

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RPG Superstar Season 9

Paizo’s RPG Superstar contest is your opportunity to break into the role playing game industry. First round entries are due by August 16th and consist of contestants submitting a wondrous item, magic weapon, or magic armor using Paizo’s Pathfinder ruleset. All judging this season will be done by us, the fans of the Pathfinder Role Playing Game. Consisting of five rounds, the top contender wins the opportunity for a paid commission to create a module for the Pathfinder Modules line. The remaining three finalists win the opportunity for a paid commission to write a Pathfinder Society organized play scenario.

As covered in the official rules, people who are already experienced in the industry, or who have ever made it into the RPG Superstar top eight, are ineligible. The intent of this contest is to find new talent.

Down the Blighted Path Module
Monica Marlowe was last season’s RPG Superstar. ‘Down the Blighted Path’ is the module she created with her coveted paid commission prize. Image from the Paizo website.

Hundreds of eager contestants submit magic items in the first round. Voters then visit the Paizo site where they are presented random pairings of the magic items. After many rounds of voting, the top 32 are selected to move on to the next phase.

Here’s Monica Marlow’s magic weapon entered last year for round one.

Spectre Blight
Aura moderate evocation; CL 9th
Slot no; Price 42,512 gp; Weight 4 lbs.
The head of this +2 ghost touch mithral heavy mace sits atop its haft as the flame of a lit torch.A wielder of this +2 ghost touch heavy mace that possesses the channel energy class ability may channel positive energy into it as a swift action, causing the mace to shine with a soft white light. The mace then does an additional +2d6 damage to undead creatures on all attacks for one round. By spending an additional daily use of channeled energy, on impact a brilliant light radiates from the glowing mace dealing 1d6 points of positive energy damage to all undead in a 30 foot radius. All incorporeal undead in the area become semi-corporeal for 1d4 rounds. While affected, these creatures take damage from magical weapons as if they had the ghost touch ability and non-magical weapons as if they were magical.
Requirements Craft Magic Arms and Armor, searing light, plane shift, channel energy 2d6; Cost 21,512 gp
See? You can do that! Check out more examples of winning items on the RPG Superstar Hall of Fame page on paizo.com. All text from Paizo’s web site.

The following rounds last just three and a half days each. The top 32 have this limited time to create a map meeting specific criteria in round two. The 16 winners from round two then create a monster in round three. In round four the remaining eight design an encounter. Finally, the final four remaining contestants submit an adventure proposal, which will become their module if they win. Again, all four of these round five contestants win the opportunity for paid commission work with Paizo.

Monica Marlow's Winning Map
Monica Marlowe’s prior season’s winning map for her round two entry. Check out many more examples on the RPG Superstar Hall of Fame page on paizo.com. Image from Paizo’s website.

Past winners have historically gone on to do great things writing as freelancers in the RPG industry. If you have any interest in getting into the industry, this is a great opportunity. Check out the past winners, all of the winning submissions, as well as the modules they wrote with their hard-earned contract on the RPG Superstar Hall of Fame.

You don’t even need any Pathfinder books or materials to enter the contest, as all rules referenced must be available in the online Pathfinder Reference Document.

If you’re interested, start thinking of a magic item now for the Open Call Round. Again, you’re designing a wondrous item, magic weapon, or magic armor. Adhere to the rules as detailed in the Open Call Rules. Be sure to follow the Pathfinder rules for magic item creation and pricing. There are many great advice threads out there, such as advice from former RPG Superstar judge, Sean K Reynolds. Know Direction, a podcast of Pathfinder news, reviews, and interviews has a recording of a session from PaizoCon 2014 on tips for entering RPG Superstar. Look at whatever past material you can to get a feel for what is expected, then, brainstorm, create, revisit, and get someone to edit your writing. You don’t want your awesome item voted down because of typos. But remember, you are prohibited from discussing which item is yours or in any way identifying yourself with the item.

In the past I have enjoyed brainstorming item concepts with my kids, as they have such original and creative ideas. Eventually, I settle on some variant of one of our items, create, and submit it. This year at least one of my kids plans to enter an item.

Once the period for submissions ends, items will be available for voting. The voting period is from August 17 until August 30. Whether or not you submit an item, you can and should vote. Contestants are allowed to vote. It’s kind of addicting, and fun, reading all the wild magic item ideas. Voters can’t discuss specifics, but an entertaining forum thread usually accompanies the voting.

Go forth and make magic!

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2 thoughts on “Become an RPG Superstar!

  1. Thank you Ryan for shout out. It’s true, if I can win, anyone can! I had never designed anything for an RPG, nor had I ever even run a Pathfinder game. Winning isn’t about knowing all the rules, it’s about being the best at imagining and communicating your vision. My fellow Top 32 class of 2015 are a great group of people and I think you’ll be seeing some stuff coming from many of them in the near future as well. Paizo’s RPG Superstar is a great way to get a crash course on game design and putting your name in front of the right people. I strongly encourage anyone who wants to pursue freelance game design to enter and participate in the forums, there’s a lot of excellent feedback to be found there. Good luck to the Season 9 contestants, whomever they may be, it might even be you!

  2. Thanks for replying Monica! You have some great work for the contestants to model their entries after. The magic item is interesting, and I think the map is one of the best presented of the past winners. That’s important to note that from no experience as a GM, player only rules knowledge, and no design experience you were able to win. I think being free of any existing assumptions or preconceived ideas may be an advantage. Start with an idea and work backwards from there.

    And it never hurts to try … so, everyone, start coming up with some ideas!

    On the forums, after the contest, people often post their item and get feedback, so even if your item does not make it into the top 100 list, you’ll be able to hear what people thought and how to improve the item if you want. So, as Monica said, participate in the forums to pick up some great knowledge.

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