RPG Superstar 2015 – Here’s Our Top 32!

And we have our top 32 (and 4 alternates) for RPG Superstar 2015! Congratulations are obviously in order to all 36 participants who were judged a cut above by fellow Pathfinder enthusiasts and judges Liz Courts and Mark Seifter.
RPG Superstar™ 2015 Top 32 Finalists
Gabriel Almer – Staff of the Prime Mover  
John Laffan – Staff of the Thieving Magpie
Charlie Bell – Crook of the Unseen Forces
Monica Marlowe – Spectre Blight
Charlie Brooks – The Hero’s Breath
Matthew Morris – Psychopomp’s Crosier
Russ Brown – Ice Fang
Kalervo Oikarinen – Fate-binder
Christopher Donnangelo – Staff of the Vanara King 
Ben Parkin – Magrim’s Mountain Crusher
Brian Fruzen – Pyrolastic Spike 
Anthony Pennington – Depth Charger
Mark Hart – Venom’s Kiss
Newton Philis – Breach Barrier
Jeff Heikkinen – Flowing Fortress Armour
R Pickard – Harvestweal
David Higaki – Earthcracker
Olivier Raye’- Lalonde – Ring of the Investigator
Dana Huber – Ophidian Coil
Justin Riddler – Mountain Stance Armor
Taylor Hubler – Fist of Havoc
Matt Roth – Rimewinder
Ben Iglauer – Fool’s Scepter
Chris Shaeffer – Hide of the Vibrant Frog
Jason Keeley – Rod of Exorcism
Marina Smolina – Shield of Stormwall
Jacob Kellogg – Soulshifter Staff
Frankie Trombetta – Interrogator’s Ally
Patrick Kilcullen – Swarm-strike Caster
Christopher Wasko – Windstrider Mail
Scott LaBarge – Keyhole Stiletto
Benjamin Wilkins – Staff of the Trusted PhysicianAlternates

Jeff Hazuka – Fellbough Hookhammer
Allana Sliwinski – Harlequin’s Hurlbat
R D Ramsey – Tunnel Fighter’s Ring
Jensen Toperzer – Rod of the Iron Rose

The official press release is after the second jump, but first, a few thoughts:

RPG Superstar has been compared to American Idol, an a lot of that comparison is true. But there is a huge element of the competition that this comparison doesn’t cover. Let’s call it the armchair quarterback element.
There is a level of fandom in any hobby where the enjoyment goes a bit beyond the face value of the product and into the theory behind the fandom. In sports, you have the aforementioned armchair quarterbacks, the fan who knows exactly what the players, coaches, managers, and probably the city itself should have done to win the game afer the fact. In wrestling, you have your Smarts, fans who will tell you wrestler X lost that match because he Tweeted about not like Producer Y’s favourite band and was punished for it. Obviously. In Star Wars, you have those who know that the worst thing to happen to the franchise was the franchise’s creator. In RPGs, you have the players who will argue the math/logic/intention of any rule they dislike.
These are my people. Something they’re misrepresented as trolls, but what I’m talking about isn’t trolling. It’s enthusiasm. This is loving something so much for what it is, what it was at its best, and what it could be, that it’s hard to process when it isn’t that. It’s 90s comic fan me daring to dream that one day we’ll have something even close to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.RPG Superstar is the chance for Pathfinder enthusiasts to put up or shut up. You think it’s easy to balance every option in a fluid rule set with dozens of new products released each year? Try making one. You ever have a problem with the clarity of a rule? Try to cover a complex and creative idea and every corner case it could create in 500 words. You think late books hurt the hobby? Try creating to a deadline while managing other aspects of your life. RPG Superstar is like some famous current sports coach handing over the keys to a sports team to their mouthiest fan and then judging the fundamental errors of every decision they make.

The best example of that this year is the number of magic staves that made the top 32. Does anyone use a magic staff? I play a staff magus and he doesn’t even use a staff. Popular opinion is that the cost-to-effectiveness ratio is just too high in the former’s direction. And yet 5 of the top 32, 15% of the finalists, not only chose to design a staff over a magic weapon, suit of magic armor, ring, or rod, their design was in the top percentile (however small the percentile that made the cut was, the number of entrants of an RPG Superstar contest has never been revealed).

Second, the judges for this round could not be more appropriate. Over the years, there have been Pathfinder and Paizo fans who stand out as community leaders, level heads the rest of the fandom should apire to, contributing assets the community can use to elevate their games, and filtering the increasingly overwhelming noice of the fandom into thoughtful and legitimate feedback that Paizo can and has used. One of the first such community leaders was “Lilith” Liz Courts. One of the more recent ones was “Rogue Eidolon” Mark Seifter. Both transcended from fans to Paizo employees, making them ideal gatekeepers to narrow the top 100 down to the top 32. Not only have they been in a position similar to the one the top 32 are in, but they also represent a goal line beyond just the prestigious title they are vying for and the opportunities that go along with it.

Official Press Release: 

REDMOND, WA (January 20, 2014): Paizo Inc., creator of the popular Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, announces today the Top 32 finalists for 2015’s RPG Superstar, the annual, worldwide open call for would-be game designers to have their talents discovered, and the chance at being published in an official Pathfinder RPG module.
RPG Superstar™ 2015 Top 32 Finalists
Gabriel Almer – Staff of the Prime Mover                           
John Laffan – Staff of the Thieving Magpie
Charlie Bell – Crook of the Unseen Forces
Monica Marlowe – Spectre Blight
Charlie Brooks – The Hero’s Breath
Matthew Morris – Psychopomp’s Crosier
Russ Brown – Ice Fang                                                               
Kalervo Oikarinen – Fate-binder
Christopher Donnangelo – Staff of the Vanara King        
Ben Parkin – Magrim’s Mountain Crusher
Brian Fruzen – Pyrolastic Spike                                               
Anthony Pennington – Depth Charger
Mark Hart – Venom’s Kiss                                                        
Newton Philis – Breach Barrier
Jeff Heikkinen – Flowing Fortress Armour                          
R Pickard – Harvestweal
David Higaki – Earthcracker
Olivier Raye’- Lalonde – Ring of the Investigator
Dana Huber – Ophidian Coil                                                     
Justin Riddler – Mountain Stance Armor
Taylor Hubler – Fist of Havoc                                        
Matt Roth – Rimewinder
Ben Iglauer – Fool’s Scepter
Chris Shaeffer – Hide of the Vibrant Frog
Jason Keeley – Rod of Exorcism                                         
Marina Smolina – Shield of Stormwall
Jacob Kellogg – Soulshifter Staff                                  
Frankie Trombetta – Interrogator’s Ally
Patrick Kilcullen – Swarm-strike Caster                                
Christopher Wasko – Windstrider Mail
Scott LaBarge – Keyhole Stiletto
Benjamin Wilkins – Staff of the Trusted Physician
Jeff Hazuka – Fellbough Hookhammer
Allana Sliwinski – Harlequin’s Hurlbat
R D Ramsey – Tunnel Fighter’s Ring
Jensen Toperzer – Rod of the Iron Rose
These Top 32 finalists will move on to Round Two, which will require the contestants to create a full-page map, or previously unmapped fantasy-themed location, in Golarion.
“The map itself is the entry, so it is important to make it interesting and creative,” says Owen Stephens, RPG Superstar MC and Pathfinder RPG Designer. “The map should spark the imagination, and lead to exciting encounters.”
The deadline for these entries is January 23, 2015, and public voting on the maps will begin on January 27, 2015. For more information, or to submit an entry, visitpaizo.com/rpgsuperstar.
Now in its 8th year, RPG Superstar receives thousands of entries from all over the world, which are reviewed by a panel of experienced game designers, and then voted on by the paizo.com community, who have cast millions of votes over the years.
The winner of the competition will have their adventure published by Paizo as a Pathfinder Module, a full-color, 64-page, high-quality softcover book, compatible with not only the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (RPG), but also with any game published under the Open Gaming License (OGL). Also, three runners-up will win assignments to write adventure scenarios for Paizo’s Pathfinder Society Organized Play campaign, offering all four finalists professional writing contracts with Paizo Inc., and an opportunity to begin their game design careers by working on the world’s best-selling roleplaying game.
The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is the world’s best-selling tabletop RPG, in which players take on the role of brave adventurers fighting to survive in a world beset by magic and evil. The Pathfinder RPG is currently translated into multiple languages, and the vibrant Pathfinder universe has been licensed for comic book series, graphic novels, miniatures, plush toys, and apparel, and is being developed into a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game.
About Paizo Inc.
Paizo Inc. is publisher of the world’s best-selling Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, the wildly popular Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, as well as Pathfinder Tales novels, board games, and gaming accessories. Paizo.com is the leading online hobby retail store, offering tens of thousands of products from a variety of publishers to customers all over the world. In the twelve years since its founding, Paizo Publishing has received more than 60 major awards and has grown to become one of the most influential companies in the hobby games industry. For more information, visit paizo.com.


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Ryan Costello

What started as one gamer wanting to talk about his love of a game has turned into an empire of gamers talking about their games. Ryan founded what would become the Know Direction Podcast network with Jason "Jay" Dubsky, his friend and fellow 3.5 enthusiast. They and their game group moved on to Pathfinder, and the Know Direction podcast network was born. Now married and a father, Ryan continues to serve the network as a co-host of the flagship podcast, Know Direction. You can find out more about Ryan and the history of the network in this episode of Presenting: http://knowdirectionpodcast.com/2021/01/presenting-ryan-costello/

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