I'll be the first to say that this is a really original pantheon, and I'm surprised that it works so well. However, I wish that Hyewmor was a little better defined. You tell us that he's the enemy of the rest of the Occular Court, but he's little different from any other "bad god" that I've seen in RPGs -- as far as I can tell, he's motivated purely by "teh Evuls".
I would have made him the god of blindness, expect that Opstiscus fills that roll so nicely. So perhaps he could be the god of false sight -- delusions, mirages, eye diseases and the like. Depicting him as completely and irrevocably insane would also jive a bit better with his actions after birth.
Remember that these are just my thoughts -- I truly don't want to detract from the pure originality of this piece. Right now, this is a solid 3 for me, with + .5 for pure creativity. Well done!
Found myself nodding my head many times while reading the sub, and many more while reading the comments. Here are my 2c:
1. Sometimes when I read a submission to the end, I'll find that I really have nothing to say about it. This is typical of subs that are written well and have a solid idea that is fleshed out to some extent but, for whatever reason, didn't really inspire me. I don't hate these subs, but I don't really like them either. This is not an excuse -- I should probably give the author at least a 3 vote in these cases -- but I hate to bring a sub in the 4/5 range down a few pegs because I feel lukewarm about it.
2. Thanking someone for posting on Strolen's is a nice gesture, but doesn't really provide any constructive feedback. If you liked the sub, at least point out what you liked about it. Same for what you disliked or would change.
At the end, this is an inspiring submission that carries a much-needed reminder. I'll have to start making an effort to post on the uncommented/unvoted subs more often.
Now, this is a sub that I would love to see turned into a book one day. It's too bad that the complete subjugation of Asleanna didn't have any impact on the crown itself, though; I would have liked her death to make more of a mark. Though I suppose that her will would have been returned to her with the King's death? Hmmmm. Wonder if she managed to get away?
Plot Hook -- Campaign Starter:
Everyone in the party has been forced to give up a part of their power to one of the Crowned. Perhaps the evil king has been "recruiting" recently, and the PCs were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not only do the players potentially lose something vital from their character sheets, their characters' health and vitality may also be continually sapped as they adventure. Will they be able to bring the bastard down with a key part of their abilities missing? Or will their biological clocks run out first?
Very, very nice. The only reason that this is not receiving a 5 from me is because some of the ideas are too closely related to really count as separate entries (in my opinion, which should always be taken with a grain of salt). To illustrate, the following three entries all deal with religious texts that contradict current practices:
Arzhang: The holy scripture of a major religion, long lost and passed down only in oral tradition. It may have sections contradicting in whole or in part current practice (which may have been corrupted in transmission), or detailing rites that have been forgotten, however consonant they may be with contemporary beliefs.
Book of the Watchers: A religious tome telling a familiar tale, well known to adherents of the dominant faith - so much so that the faithful all recognize the familiar phraseology, and many can recite sections from memory - but with numerous differences, in cadence, plot and characterization.
Gnostic Bible: An entire book - or collection of chapters, tales and/or essays - devoted to one of the world’s leading faiths ... and which completely contradict several major doctrines of that faith, or introduce doctrines hitherto unknown to it. The work may have been excised from the canon centuries ago as apocryphal.
Instead of contradicting, could one of these books have been used to offer compelling evidence of the factual basis of a dominant faith? What about a retelling of a major historical event, taking into account the direct actions of the gods/Chosen One that has been ruthlessly suppressed for centuries by the decidedly non-religious Empire?
On a different not entirely, I absolutely loved many of these entries -- especially Contes de la Mere Oye. That could kick off a particularly creepy campaign, in which the voices and songs of children are the vessel or powersource needed to bring back an Elder Evil, or somesuch. Well done, overall. 4/5
Interesting setup. Forcing the players to stand alone like this could provide for some good gameplay, but I would still probably tweak it a bit to give my players the option of seeking more help. Perhaps the barrier could allow a second player (or third) through if the subject of the test requested it? There should be a significant penalty or other alteration to the test to make the first player hesitate to do this, however. I would probably also remove the barrier against sound entirely, so that the rest of the party can at least stand by and shout advice, thus remaining more involved.
A few other small nitpicks: challenges one and two (judging the baby case and dealing with the live baby) are significantly easier than the rest of them, and might cause a party to cry foul when faced with the later challenges. Also, you forgot to include the answers to the three riddles.
Overall though, well done.
First off, I must say that I like the idea of this blade a lot. After all, what better way is there for a GM to give the party hints or point out the (blindingly obvious) clues that they always seem to miss? However, I would really like it to be a little better defined.
I think my main stumbling block is the source of the "hunches" or "ideas" that a PC gets. Does the player have to state the hunch out loud? Does the GM assign them based on a random dice roll, perhaps modified by the character's intelligence? Does the sword get these hunches on its own?
Without a clear idea of the hunch that the sword is trying to prove, I think that a player could become lost really quickly, not understanding what the sword is supposed to be doing. If this central concept is codified a bit more cleanly, this submission would easily move from a 4 to a 5 in my mind.
I enjoyed this adventure, and can appreciate the work that went into the atmospheric descriptions. It nicely complements your other quest submission. I will, however, agree with Pieh about the hopelessness for the PCs at certain parts. The snakes, especially, are a difficult conundrum, and I would probably omit them if I were going to run this.
Pretty much everything has been said already; it's an interesting premise and a solid submission. I especially liked the writing for the internal dialogs of each character, because they really make it come alive. I actually feel bad for the wizards, though my normal inclination would be to dismiss them entirely as arrogant fools. Well done!
This is an incredibly useful 30s list. In fact, it will be my go-to resource as both a DM and as a player (when I want to earn a little extra dough as a rogue). The only suggestion I have for improvement would be to tack on a few more one-man cons, as most of these require several people to pull off. The added ideas by rwg are neat, and I hope to add to this list sometime in the future. Well done!
A fairly standard ghost story; as is, it doesn't really speak to me. Still, you did a lot with your 250-word limit, and I suppose that I can't really expect loads of detail with those kinds of strictures. Perhaps if you ran it with the right accompanying soundtrack, this piece would really have the chance to shine.
May I humbly suggest: