RPG Superstar was a game design contest sponsored by Paizo Inc. in the style of reality talent searches such as American Idol. It ran annually from 2008 to 2015, with one additional competition dubbed Season 9 in late 2015.
Until RPG Superstar 2015, the first round of each year's RPG Superstar contest was an open call for wondrous items. Starting with RPG Superstar 2015, the open call changed each contest to include different types of magic items.
Until RPG Superstar 2013, all open call items were read by the judging panel. From RPG Superstar 2013 to RPG Superstar 2015, the entire set of items are voted on by the public in a series of one-on-one comparisons, with a panel of judges selecting the top 32 items out of the highest-voted items. Starting with RPG Superstar Season 9, the open call is entirely decided by popular vote.
In each subsequent round of the contest, contestants must design something requested by the contest that will be judged, then put to a public vote, with half or more of the contestants eliminated each round. In the final round, four contestants submit adventure proposals, with the voter selecting which author will be contracted to develop their pitch into a Pathfinder Modules publication.
Past winners and their Modules
- 2008: Christine Schneider, Clash of the Kingslayers
- 2009: Neil Spicer, Realm of the Fellnight Queen
- 2010: Matthew Goodall, Cult of the Ebon Destroyers
- 2011: Sam Zeitlin, The Midnight Mirror
- 2012: Mike Welham, Doom Comes to Dustpawn
- 2013: Steven Helt, Tears at Bitter Manor
- 2014: Victoria Jaczko, Daughters of Fury
- 2015: Monica Marlowe, Down the Blighted Path
- Season 9: Nicholas Wasko, Beneath the Storm-Veiled Spires
Following shortly behind the popular GameMastery Module Open Call contest in 2007, Paizo announced that it would be holding an even larger contest which would involve six rounds of competition and allow for fan voting entitled RPG Superstar.1 Specific challenges included designing a wondrous item, a country, a villain, three thematically linked monsters, an encounter, and finally an adventure synopsis.
From October 31, 2007, to February 11, 2008, judges Wolfgang Baur, Erik Mona, and Clark Peterson narrowed a field of over 850 contestants down to the top 32, 16, 8, and 4 before the final winner was announced.
RPG Superstar returned in 2009 with a similar competition, judged by Wolfgang Baur, Clark Peterson, and Sean K Reynolds with guest judges including Monte Cook, Ed Greenwood, James Jacobs, and the top four contestants from the previous year.3
RPG Superstar 2010 kicked off in December 2009 and will continue through March. Judges for the 2010 season include Clark Peterson, Sean K Reynolds, and F. Wesley Schneider, with guest judges Jason Bulmahn, Rob Lazzaretti, and Greg A. Vaughan.5
RPG Superstar 2011 began on December 3, 2010, and ran through March 22, 2011. The judges for the popular contest's fourth year included Sean K Reynolds, 2009 winner Neil Spicer, Open Gaming guru Ryan Dancey, and Mark Moreland.6
On March 22, 2011, Paizo announced that Sam Zeitlin was the winner of the contest, and that his proposed adventure The Midnight Mirror would be released in 2012. Each of the remaining three Top 4 contestants had the opportunity to write a Pathfinder Society scenario during Season 3, and two of the three runners-up took that opportunity.
This year's contestants included Levi Miles, James Olchak, Tom Phillips, Scott Fernandez, Eric Hindley, Marie Small, John Bennett, Ethan Day-Jones, Sean McGowan, and Jerall Toi, all of whom have written for Paizo.
RPG Superstar 2012 began on December 6, 2012, and runs through April 3, 2012. The judges for the popular contest's fifth year include Sean K Reynolds, 2009 winner Neil Spicer, Open Gaming guru Ryan Dancey, and Necromancer Games publisher Clark Peterson.7
On April 3, 2012, Paizo announced that Mike Welham was the winner of the contest, and that his proposed adventure Doom Comes to Dustpawn would be released in May 2013. Each of the remaining three Top 4 contestants wrote a Pathfinder Society scenario.
RPG Superstar 2013 began on December 4, 2012, and ran through April 2, 2013. The judges for the popular contest's sixth year included Sean K Reynolds, 2012 winner Mike Welham, Kobold Press founder Wolfgang Baur, and Necromancer Games publisher Clark Peterson.8
On April 2, 2013, Paizo announced that Steven Helt was the winner of the contest, and that his proposed adventure The Golden Watch would be released in March 2014, under a new name of Tears at Bitter Manor. Each of the remaining three Top 4 contestants wrote a Pathfinder Society scenario in Season 5.
RPG Superstar 2014 began on December 10, 2013, and ran through March 11, 2014. The judges for the popular contest's seventh year included Sean K Reynolds, gaming legend Peter Adkison, Pathfinder product Developers John Compton, Adam Daigle, Patrick Renie, and owner of ENWorld Russ Morrissey.9
On March 11, 2014, Paizo announced that Victoria Jaczko was the winner of the contest, and that her proposed adventure The Daughters of Fury would be released in November 2014 (later updated to January 2015) under the name Daughters of Fury. Each of the remaining three Top 4 contestants wrote a Pathfinder Society scenario in Season 6.
Among this year's contestants were Adam Donald, Brian Duckwitz, Mark Nordheim, Kalervo Oikarinen, Tyler Beck, Andrew Marlowe, Robert Brookes, and Mikko Kallio, and Mike Kimmel, all of whom have written for Paizo.
2015 (December 2014–March 2015)
RPG Superstar 2015 began on December 9, 2014, and ran until March 25, 2015. Paizo developer Owen K.C. Stephens took over hosting duties from Sean K Reynolds, and the contest's Open Call round solicited non-wondrous magic items for the first time. Judges included Liz Courts, Crystal Frasier, Adam Daigle, John Compton, James Jacobs, Mark Seifter, Rob Lazzaretti, Mikko Kallio, Steven T. Helt, and Nicole Lindroos.
On March 25, 2015, Paizo announced Monica Marlowe as the 2015 RPG Superstar, and her proposed module Down the Blighted Path was released in February 2016. Each of the remaining Top 4 contestants will have the opportunity to write a Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild scenario during the Year of the Serpent.
Contestants this season included Justin Riddler, Brian J. Fruzen, Kalervo Oikarinen, and Christopher Wasko, all of whom have written for Paizo, and Jason Keeley, who was hired by Paizo as an editor during the competition.
Season 9 (August–October 2015)
Announced at Gen Con 2015, RPG Superstar Season 9—no longer named after years to avoid confusion with RPG Superstar 2015—started on August 7, 2015, and ran through October 30, 2015. Again hosted by Paizo developer Owen K.C. Stephens, the ninth Superstar contest featured a record four disqualifications, as well as shorter rounds, a Top 32 selected by popular vote only, and fewer last-minute twists.10
On October 30, 2015, Paizo announced that Nicholas Wasko had won RPG Superstar Season 9 with his Pathfinder Module pitch for Beneath the Storm-Veiled Spires, later renamed Seers of the Drowned City, which was released in November 2016. The RPG Superstar finalists are expected to be offered the chance to write Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild scenarios during its eighth season.11
RPG Superstar 2020
A third-party contest by Skyscraper Studios, in partnership with Paizo, revived the RPG Superstar name in 2020 for a single-round monster authoring open call sponsored by the Roll for Combat podcast.12 Instead of a single winner, 100 prizes across multiple tiers were awarded. Stephen Glicker hosted the competition, and former Paizo developer Owen K.C. Stephens was head judge, and ownership of all submitted content was assigned to Skyscraper Studios.13 Brant Vallier was named the Grand Prize winner.14
- Paizo News. (October 30, 2007). RPG Superstar™ Will Find the Next Great RPG Designer, Paizo News.
- Paizo News. (February 20, 2008). Christine Schneider Wins Paizo's First RPG Superstar™!, Paizo News.
- Paizo Publishing. (December 5, 2008). Meet the Judges, paizo.com.
- Paizo Publishing. (March 24, 2009). Neil Spicer Voted RPG Superstar 2009, Paizo News.
- Paizo Publishing. (December 1, 2009). Meet the Judges, paizo.com.
- Paizo Publishing, LLC. (November 15, 2010). Meet the Judges, paizo.com.
- Paizo Publishing, LLC. (December 5, 2011). Meet the Judges, paizo.com.
- Paizo Publishing, LLC. (December 4, 2012). Meet the Judges, paizo.com.
- Paizo Publishing, LLC. (December 10, 2013). Meet the Judges, paizo.com.
- Owen K.C. Stephens. (July 31, 2015). Announcing RPG Superstar Season 9!, Paizo Blog.
- Owen K.C. Stephens. (October 30, 2015). More Star Power—Nick Wasko Wins RPG Superstar!, Paizo Blog.
- Aaron Shanks. (March 17, 2020). RPG Superstar Contest Relaunch, Paizo Blog.
- Owen K.C. Stephens. (September 23, 2020). RPG Superstar, rpgsuperstar.com.
- Stephen Glicker. (October 14, 2020). RPG Superstar, rpgsuperstar.com.