Earlier this week Paizo revealed the Top 8 entries for RPG Superstar 2012. for this round the hopeful participants had to design a Golarion location with an encounter. Of course for the top 8 it wasn’t that easy.

  The round featured some additional limitations : They had to design a two-tier, variable CR encounter (with 3 CR between  it’s two tier), and the creatures must use the minitures from the Heroes & Monsters Pathfinder Battles set. The whole submission should fit into an 1500 word limit.

  I think this is the hardest round this far, as proper encounter design is a very hard thing to master. It’s much more than adding individual CR-s together in some random manner, but you must count for player abilities (could they fly ? dimension door ? channel energy ?), and for players behavior. It’s interesting to see that many submissions failed more or less in this regard.

  For example including skeletons in a higher level encounter without any form of extra defense is definetly a bad idea. A cleric could nuke them with a single energy channel without much effort. Generally speaking, very-low CR enemies need some sort of equlizer (cover, traps, equipment etc.) to present any threat at all.

  From the last turn all of my four favorites made it to Top 8, which I think is well deserved. (take a look at their round 3 submissions here)  On the other hand, for this round only Russell Vaneekhoven wrote an entry I really like, while Sam Polak‘s submission has some interesting ideas, but he made a poor choice with the monsters. On the other hand, I was surprised and disappointed that Adam Donald and Steve Miller provided somewhat underwhelming encounters.

For this round my favorit submissions are these :

 The Hungry Mountain Dragon (Russell Vaneekhoven) – The dragon airship is a fantastic location, however I’m a little bit surprised by the suicidal insticts of it’s pilots. It’s strange that they didn’t recognized the danger of the acid onboard. The other concern is how Galarion specific is a dragon airship? I guess it’s ok if we say that it’s an unreliable prototype an/or it’s involves some magic, but regardless it’s great.

Eightfinger’s Tomb (Tom Phillips) – Maybe the best submission for this round. It features an iteresting location, just crying for a whole adventure to be designed for it. It has an interesting backsstory (which makes sense) and some fitting enemies to face by the players. The only problem, that on higher CR it will be too easy.

The Thanatopic Amphisbaena (Mike Whelman) – Some interesting ideas here, including the location of the encounter. (inside some pertified wurms) Bonus points for the Golarian history tie-in, and for some good (but poorly defined) motivations for the antagonist. On the other hand, I’m not sure if he and his snakes present enough threat for their level.

The voting for this round is open until March 12th, so voters could playtest their favorite submissions in the meantime.

I wish good luck for the participants for the last two rounds ! Keep going !

Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros