Category Archives: Designing Items

RPG Superstar Hiatus, and New Reviews Section

I decided to get back to this blog site, trying to post at least once a fortnight. This impetus clearly driven by the announcement of an indefinite hiatus of the annual RPG Superstar competition. Here goes…

Superstar on Hiatus

Sadly, the Paizo RPG Superstar competition is on indefinite hiatus. It is sad but entirely understandable, and, after 10 years, Paizo now have a substantial pool of discovered talent and freelancers on which to draw. With today’s financial climes, they need to put their time on their direct business needs, and so we wish them every success going forwards.

It may come back, and I hope it does. It was one of the main driving forces behind my frequent visits to their site. The competition hiatus will not stop the development of design resources for this site. If anything, it will add impetus to continuing the design topics and getting things moving again!


The eagle eyed among you have probably already spotted the new review section in the title bar. If you have your own blog sites or frequent the Paizo product pages, I heartily recommend you to join the reviewing fun.

Reviewing products with a gamer design eye is one of the best ways of learning good games design, and my reviews are from the designer perspective rather than from a player or consumer perspective. It is hoped that they will give even more food for thought and drive your design mindset.

Forums tend to have a word limit for each post. This results in reviews being split over a number of posts, and is not ideal. Such reviews are hard to read and follow in their entirety so I have collated my reviews into single pages here. No editing beyond making each review into a single page, and correction of spelling has taken place. The reviews are as found on the publisher sites in terms of content.

I hope you find these reviews useful and that they provide an insight into my design thoughts and processes as a guide to refining your own. You may not agree with me in all cases. Which is great! It shows you are thinking about game design and how you interpret it!

Template Fu Design Discussion Thread

In the absence of the RPG Superstar competition, I have created a design thread in the spirit of the competitions. On this thread, I make bi-monthly design challenges in the style or prior competition rounds.

At certain intervals, I close the challenge, analyse and feedback on submissions posted there, and then post the next challenge. You are invited to this thread to take part in any challenge set there. See you there!

Anthony Adam (Template Fu)

Anthony Adam

Paizocon 2016 & RPG Superstar Helper Alpha

Paizocon 2016 – Initials thoughts

Okay, I am back and rested from an amazing experience in Seattle attending Paizocon 2016 and seeing the sights of the city.

Paizocon 2016 was everything I had hoped it would be and more. The staff were extremely helpful and sensitive to everyone’s need. They were constantly taking time to speak with anyone approaching them. What a great bunch of people.

I made a lot of new friends and publisher contacts. I was completely bowled over by how many of them knew my board alias on the Paizo messageboards. It also surprised me how many of them actually read and enjoy my inane postings there!

This is the convention to attend if you want to write for Pathfinder. Every third party publisher was willing and able to spend time talking to games designers. I made a lot of contacts and finally got my actual face to be seen. More importantly, I picked up some work there!

I cannot stress how very important it is to network with your prospective clients. So many doors opened to me this convention as a writer that I have an amazing amount of work to get through now.

TemplateFu – One of my Secrets Revealed!

My alias during RPG Superstar is TemplateFu – champion of getting your submission formatted correctly. I have a secret to reveal. My entries are formatted automatically by an editor I wrote to ensure I always get this right.

I am in the process of revamping the editor and making it more user friendly. The alpha build is now revealed to all – on codeplex dot com. If you have c# skills, have access to Visual Studio 2015 or the express editions, the source is now available. It is a work in progress and will take many months to get to an open high standard, but I have decided to share. You can find it here.

Current Plans for the Editor

My initial intent is to get the Wondrous Item tab completely working with the hints and tips section fully populated appropriate for such items.

The next tabs will be for weapons, armor, rings, staves, etc. Then after these, Spells, Feats, Skills, NPCs, Villains, and monster tabs.

It is hoped that eventually a design tab for just about every task and component in Pathfinder is going to be available. It is ambitious, but with the modular design, something to work towards piece by piece. We can eat the elephant just one plate at a time!

The focus of the tool is that of aiding the games designers and writers. For example, the NPC tab for generating NPC’s is not a full character generator, there are plenty of those already!

The focus of this tool will be the games designers and writer, and is not a playing aid.


Anthony Adam going to Paizocon 2016

Anthony Adam

RPG Superstar Task – Design a Wondrous Item – Description (1 of 3)

Right, time to start on that description.

The first thing we should do is review the general layout of existing designs in the target system, and at the same time keep the criteria set for the design in mind.

For this tutorial, this will be for Paizo’s RPG Superstar Round 1 item design. Continue reading RPG Superstar Task – Design a Wondrous Item – Description (1 of 3)

RPG Superstar Task – Design a Wondrous Item – Item Name

Today we start putting the item together, starting with the item name and the item description breakdown.

To recap, we are using a hermit crab shell, with a core them of a sideways scuttle that will deflect/avoid potentially lethal attacks. It is not to provide a boring AC bonus though.

Item Naming

Now, I am going to start this discussion by looking at the item name first. Some designers do this during the design and some do it as one of the last things. They do this in order to allow the design to solidify and suggest an apt name as part of the design process. Because I start with the item name does not make those methods invalid – but I do have specific reasons for starting with the item name. Continue reading RPG Superstar Task – Design a Wondrous Item – Item Name

RPG Superstar Task – Design a Wondrous Item – Choose Your Base Power

Let’s continue our examination of our base item choice which we started in the first of our item design posts.

In that post, we started looking at the attributes of what the snail shell is and does in the real world and how we could portray that withing a magical item. So, let us continue or examination of this early part of item design and see where it leads us.  Continue reading RPG Superstar Task – Design a Wondrous Item – Choose Your Base Power

RPG Superstar Task – Design A Wondrous Item – Choose Your Base Item

PaizoNow, we have read and understood the competition round rules, it is time to start designing our entry – a wondrous item. Continue reading RPG Superstar Task – Design A Wondrous Item – Choose Your Base Item

RPG Superstar Task – Design A Wondrous Item

PaizoLet us begin our games design discussion by working through the first round of Paizo‘s RPG Superstar competition!

Every year, the competition starts with an open call round to design a Wondrous Item. The rules posted define the task set before every entrant.  Continue reading RPG Superstar Task – Design A Wondrous Item

Preparation – Knowing the Game System

PaizoOk, the RPG Superstar competition usually starts in December, so we have a couple of months to do some preparation. The preparation you need to do for the competition is no different to formal games design work as a freelancer.

The first preparation step is to know the system you are to design for, in this case, Pathfinder. Continue reading Preparation – Knowing the Game System