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RPG Superstar: Item Feedback

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tuesday, we announced the Top 32 for RPG Superstar. Now those lucky, skilled gamers are hammering away at the Round 2 task of designing a new Golarion organization. Their submissions are due Friday, secretly reviewed by the judges over the weekend, and go live for voting on Tuesday, January 31. Good luck to the Top 32!

If you submitted a wondrous item and didn’t make it into the Top 32, don’t lose heart! One, not winning your first RPG Superstar is a fine tradition upheld by 2009’s winner Neil Spicer and 2010’s winner Matt Goodall—you now have a year to practice and hone your craft for the next competition. And don’t forget to stop by the Official Critique My Item Thread to get some feedback on your item from the community and perhaps the judges!

I’m also doing something new this year. During the selection process, the judges set aside items that may be suitable for the Top 32, usually ending up with 40–60 items that they winnow down to just 32 plus four alternates. If your item is on the following list, your item was on that longer list but didn’t make that final cut. To help improve your skills, if your item is listed here and you’d like me to give you feedback from the perspective of a Paizo developer, reply to this blog post and I’ll repost your item with my feedback—the same sort of feedback I’d give to a new freelancer.

Note: Only the items in the following list get this special treatment... I don’t have time in my work schedule to give feedback on hundreds of items. Also, requesting feedback means you won’t be able to submit this item next year, as the judges will know who you are and therefore your item won’t be anonymous anymore. Fortunately, a true superstar has more than one awesome idea, and you should be able to take what you learned this year and create something even better next year!

Bracers of Versatile Channeling
Compass of the Void Shaper
Darklight Candle
Dust of the Shaitan
Facsimile Stone
Gloves of Theurgy
Gunhunter's Coin
Meridian Needles
Mirror of Monstrous Echoes
Necklace of Mirrored Alignment
Orb of the Dawnflower
Periapt of Continuous Haleness
Ponderous Pebble
Scatterself Stone
Shelyn's Thrush
Stubborn Nail
Torc of Zealous Tenacity
Vest of Second Skin
Viperfang Scabbard
Walking Stick of the Revered Elder

Sean K Reynolds
Developer and RPG Superstar Judge

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: RPG Superstar
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Contributor

Darkjoy wrote:

Sean,

As the (now very proud) designer of the "Torc of Zealous Tenacity" I welcome any advice you might give me.
What I think I failed to do right was this: add mojo, I had lots of words to spare but did not use them.
The item came to me in a rush and ofcourse the moment I submitted it I thought of several ways to make it better: 1) change the name to: Torc of Tenacious Zeal 2) maybe play around with the Iron Will feat - offering a bonus on the DC 13 Wisdom check to avoid gaining the disabled or dying condition.
This is the second year in a row that I made the keep folder, looking forward to year 6!

Here is your item:

Torc of Zealous Tenacity
Aura faint necromancy; CL 3rd
Slot neck; Price 12,000 gp; Weight 1 lb.
Description
Engraved into the twisted iron of this torc are dozens of dull glowing runes warding the wearer against death.
The wearer of the torc only dies when his current hit points drop to a negative amount that is equal to or greater than his Constitution score plus half his Wisdom score.
If the wearer of the torc is reduced to 0 or less hit points he may immediately attempt a DC 13 Wisdom check to avoid gaining the disabled and or dying condition for 1 round. During that round he may act normally, this includes taking full-round actions, but at the end of his actions he receives 1d4+1 points of damage from the strain.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, false life; Cost 6,000 gp

The judges agreed that the design on this item is pretty tight--everything makes sense and there's no confusion about any of its abilities. The main flaw is it's not much more than Diehard-in-a-can.

Diehard:
* below 0 hp, automatically stabilize
* can act as if you're disabled rather than dying
* staggered if you choose to act under these circumstances
* performing an action deals 1 point of damage

Item:
* below 0 hp, make DC 13 Wisdom check to not be disabled for 1 round
* act normally if you succeed
* performing actions deals 1d4+1 damage
* add 1/2 Wis score to Con score to determine your negative hit point death limit

Those three similarities fall into the "things should be the same, or different" rule of design, which I believe I've discussed before. The fourth ability is the only thing that's really new.

I pointed out to the judges that this item is best when worn by the party cleric. She's going to have the best Wis, which means that Wis check is easy and she gets the biggest bump to her negative hit point maximum, which gives her a lot more wiggle room when it comes to healing herself and the rest of the party ("Oh, I'm at –9, I'll make my Wis check, then channel positive energy for 4d6, which'll bring myself up to positives again and help my allies." Me pointing this out is a criticism because the cleric already has many, many things she can do to prevent herself from going unconscious, so you're basically making her better at something she's already good at (like a barbarian item that makes you even stronger when you rage).

It's a solid item, but it's very similar to a feat and doesn't have enough "punch" to make the Top 32. Perhaps if its main ability was something else, and the Diehard-ish stuff was just secondary to that (or if it only gave one of the benefits of Diehard, then it wouldn't be a feat-in-a-can).

Contributor

hida_jiremi wrote:
Hey, I did the darklight candle. This is the closest I've ever gotten, so I'd love personal feedback!

Here is your item:

Darklight Candle
Aura moderate transmutation; CL 5th
Slot none; Price 2,000 gp; Weight 1 lbs.
Description
Darklight candles are often crafted by subterranean races to enhance their natural advantage over their surface-dwelling enemies. These black, waxy candles burn with a black flame. Lighting a darklight candle requires no flame, only a standard action to breathe onto the wick. The candle remains lit as long as it is carried; if it is put down, the flame goes out. If lit in conditions of normal lighting or brighter, it reduces the light level by one step within a 20-foot radius. If lit in a dim area, it doubles the range of the user's low-light vision; when lit in a naturally dark area, it doubles the range of the user's darkvision.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, darkness, darkvision, creator must have low-light vision or darkvision; Cost 1,000 gp

Neil felt it was an innovative low-magic item that found an underused rules niche.

Clark agreed, calling it a "why hasn't this been done before?" item.

I would have liked it better if its radius matched the 5 ft. radius of a candle (because the item is a candle) or were a torch (to match it's torch-like 20 ft. radius). I would have liked it even more if it affected all creatures in that area instead of just the bearer, mainly because it lets the party huddle up to share the effect, and the GM can apply the expanded vision range to all party members instead of remembering that one has better vision range than everyone else in the group. The item is utilitarian, but not "sexy." I do like the "breathe on it to light it" bit, though, that's creepy and neat.

Ryan thought it was clever, but too expensive and "lasts forever" (probably meaning he'd like it better as a lower-cost, consumable item).

In the end, it wasn't quite as good as the other items we decided to keep. Clark almost used one of his golden tickets to move you into the Top 32, and says you "definitely caught our attention."

To give this item a boost, I'd go with Ryan's suggestion and make it an inexpensive consumable. Perhaps you could add a one-shot effect to it, too, like if you throw it into an existing fire source (like a campfire) it's immediately burnt up but hides all light from the fire for X rounds.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka Darkjoy

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
reviewed a torc

Sean,

Thanks for the feedback.

Next year I'll add even more mojo while keeping it tight.


Just giving this a friendly bump. :)

Contributor

Isaac Duplechain wrote:
Mirror of Monstrous Echoes is mine. I like to think that if not for being so similar to Haunting Glass and Spellblight Cage, and somewhat similar to Basilisk's Eye Sight, it might have made it. I'm certainly glad to have made it into the Keep pile.

Here's your item:

Mirror of Monstrous Echoes
Aura moderate illusion and transmutation; CL 5th
Slot --; Price 14,000 gp; Weight 1 lb.
Description
This silver-handled mirror shows glimpses of terrible monsters just beyond the edge of sight to those who gaze into it for too long. As a standard action at will, the wielder can direct the mirror to capture the image of a creature that is within 30 feet and visible to the wielder. The mirror can only hold a single stored visage at a time, but can hold it indefinitely; any attempt to capture an image fails if the mirror already holds an image. As long as the mirror holds a captured visage, the wielder is unaffected by the gaze attack of any creature of the same kind.
As a standard action, the wielder can release the captured visage by holding up the mirror and speaking the command word. When the image is released, the mirror gains the creature's gaze attack for 3 consecutive rounds as the image appears on the mirror's surface, with the same effect and saving throw (including DC) as if it were the creature itself. The wielder can select any number of allies in the area to be unaffected by this gaze attack. As an standard action while the gaze attack is active, the wielder can direct the mirror to actively gaze at a target within range. The mirror's wielder is considered to be the origin of the gaze attack for purposes of concealment from a target averting its eyes or preventing itself from seeing the mirror. Until the image fades at the end of the third round, the mirror is still considered to be holding the image.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, Selective Spell, enter image, symbol of mirroring; Cost 7,000 gp

Neil and Ryan very much liked this item. Clark thought it was a neat idea, but was concerned about its ability to absorb really powerful gazes (like a bodak's death gaze) relative to its cost, and shared my other concerns.

Here are my actual comments on the item:
This item is really, really weird.
It's useless until you capture a gaze-attack monster's image in it. So you'd better hope your GM sends a lot of those monsters after you... even though that means your allies are at risk of getting gaze-blasted. You, too, because the mirror doesn't protect you from the monster's gaze attack (though having a mirror means you can do the avert-your-eyes thing for a 50% avoidance roll). So it's almost like a plot device item.
Once you capture the monster's gaze attack, it uses that monster's exact DC, which means if you have something like a vampire sorcerer under the effects of eagle's splendor, the DC is gonna be huge.
I really feel this needs some sort of directional aspect to it, like a hemisphere or a cone; a mirror is a flat plane with a tiny viewing space, and its gaze shouldn't affect things in a 360˚ radius. Unless "releasing" the image means you're creating an illusion of the creature and the gaze comes from that, but it doesn't say that and doesn't really imply that.
I also don't like that the bearer can select "any number" of allies to be unaffected; that defeats the purpose of dealing with a gaze attack. A directional effect would mean you don't need that aspect, anyway.
Neat idea, but needs significant work.

Here's what I'd to to fix it.
One, it should have an explicit function to protect the bearer. Perhaps it's a two-way mirror, and you look through it at a creature to activate its power, and that counts as using the mirror to protect yourself. Otherwise, because the target has to be visible to you, you actually have to look at it (and risk yourself) to use the mirror.

Two, the mirror should have a fixed DC, regardless of the power level of the absorbed gaze. That prevents abuse by capturing really powerful gazes and throwing them around as an attack (there's a reason it's very rare to give PCs gaze attacks: gaze attacks are really powerful). That also allows for GMs to create weaker or stronger versions of this item, or have a damaged mirror that has a lower DC than normal.

Three, because the viewing surface is so small compared to an actual creature with a gaze, have the mirror affect a cone (I would suggest a hemisphere at best, but cone templates are already in the game, and being able to see what's in a mirror from a 180˚ panorama pushes my limits of believability).

Five, change the "for three rounds" ability. Giving it a flat number of instantaneous uses per day (say, three) lets you establish a reasonable benchmark for the item's price. It's probably preferable to say "it retains the stored image until you absorb another," which means you don't just get one use out of a particular monster's gaze attack (because odds are you're not going to get multiple opportunities per day to steal a gaze, so you'd never utilize it to its full X/day potential).

Five, drop the "exclude any number of allies" ability. The cone effect takes care of most of that, and treating it as a gaze means your allies can use the normal "avert your eyes" tricks.

That would be a manageable, not overpowered item. And the ability to capture a monster's gaze for reuse as an attack, even at a reduced DC, is pretty cool.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

I appreciate your feedback, and I understand and agree with the points you've made. I hope to put them to good use for next year.

Contributor

Zalaster wrote:
It would be awesome to see your feedback on my Dust of the Shaitan

Here is your item:

Dust of the Shaitan
Aura moderate transmutation; CL 9th
Slot -; Price 5600 gp; Weight -
Description
This dust resembles powder-fine sand and is often found in small sun-bleached leather pouches.
A handful flung into the air billows forth creating a shimmering, stationary, ground-hugging cloud no more than ten 10-foot cubes in area. This cloud changes the very nature of the air within, making it dense and viscous like heavy silt or mud.
Within the cloud creatures with the air subtype must make a DC 18 Fortitude save or be stunned for 1d6 rounds. Also flying or levitating creatures and objects are grounded harmlessly. Movement speeds reduce to 5 feet, though creatures with burrow speeds may move at that rate. In all other respects creatures gain the entangled condition. Mundane projectiles fired into or within the cloud act as flying objects noted above.
The cloud's shape is decided at dispersal and cannot exceed sight range. It affects neither breathing nor visibility. Wind, fog and other cloud effects do not operate within or upon it, except to limit duration. It remains for one hour in still air or mild breezes and 15 minutes in moderate winds. It even holds together against strong winds such as a gust of wind up through the strongest of sandstorms for 5 rounds. Any portion of the cloud in or atop a substantial body of water fails to form. This cloud has no effect upon freedom of movement spells or effects.
Alternately, a handful of this dust poured into a quantity of water (maximum volume as the cloud above) transforms that water to quicksand.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, control winds, transmute rock to mud; Cost 2800 gp

It's not clear when an air creature must save against the cloud. Is it if they're in the cloud at the time of the cloud's creation? Is it every round they're in the cloud? If the latter, that's pretty harsh, as you may get stuck there indefinitely by failing your save and being stuck for another 1d6 rounds, which means 1d6 more saves.

The item doesn't affect wind and fog, "except to limit duration," but I don't know what that quote means.

Presumably, if you mix this with water to make quicksand, that quicksand is permanent, but that's not entirely clear (the other effects have durations, but natural quicksand is permanent).

Compare this item's effects to solid fog: half normal movement, penalty to melee attack and damage, no ranged attacks, no 5-foot-steps. So this item's effects are similar, but not the same. I'll repeat what I said in an earlier review in this thread: As Jonathan Tweet says, "things should be the same, or different." In other words, if your new rule is really close to an existing rule, either change your rule so it's exactly like that rule, or make it very different so people don't confuse the two rules. That's why all the combat maneuver feats give you a +2 instead of one giving +1, one giving +3, one giving +6 but not erasing the AOO, and so on--it's easier to remember "all of these feats give +2 and erase the AOO" than six individual feats with different bonuses. Thus, if you're creating an item or effect that slows creatures and interferes with attacks, it's easier for players and GMs to remember your mechanics if they're actually based on existing game mechanics that do this (like solid fog). I understand this item has an earth theme and solid fog is an air spell, but it's okay to point at those mechanics even though they're from "opposite" sources.

(Note that this is my personal preference as a developer, and some people may want the earth-based mechanic to work differently than an existing air-based mechanic so they feel different, and that's fine, but they should feel really different so people don't mix up the two of them. There are tons of rules in the game and some of them are redundant or overlapping, and that just adds unnecessary complexity to the game in its published form. In your campaign with your friends, you may like a game with extra complexity and minor variations of these rules, but as a developer I need to keep the typical player in mind.)

How I would develop this item:
1) Clarify the incidence and frequency of air creature saving vs. stun.
2) Explain the "except to limit duration" quote.
3) State the duration of the quicksand (even if that duration is "instantaneous," but don't get me started on how some people will misinterpret what "instantaneous" means in this context...).
4) Make the slowing mechanics match solid fog, even if that means cutting most of the explanation and inserting a reference to that spell, such as "the cloud impedes movement, melee attacks, and ranged attacks like solid fog, though it does not affect visibility, and creatures with a burrow speed can pass through it at that speed." Doing so also frees up more words, which you can use to cover the first three points.

Contributor

Anthony A. Scott wrote:
I Submitted Shelyn's Thrush, and would love some feedback on the item.

Here's your item:

Shelyn’s Thrush
Aura Moderate Transmutation; CL 10th
Slot -; Price 12,000 gp; Weight 1 lb.
Description
This tiny bronze bird has 10 long flowing tail feathers. Not only can this statuette be used as a holy symbol of Shelyn, the owner may also use any bardic performance to imbue the bird with magic. Every two rounds used to inspire the bird illuminates one of its tail feathers. Bardic performance used in this way does not have the normal effect and is instead stored in the bird. When lit, the feathers act as if affected by the light spell. On command this bird will sing duplicating the effect stored within it. Animating the bird is a standard action causing it to hover near its owner. Each round the bird spends singing, a tail feather will fade. These rounds do not need to be consecutive but must be spent in 1 round increments. When all the tail feathers have faded, the song ends and the bird lands in its current square. If the owner has a free hand, he may catch the bird as a free action. The owner may catch the bird at any time to end its song. If the bird is struck in combat, it will revert to its inanimate form falling in its current square ending the song. Unused rounds of bardic performance are stored within the bird until used.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, Animate Objects, Continual Flame, Magic Mouth, Bardic Performance; Cost 6,000 gp

The main problem with this item is we had a Top 32 item in a previous competition called the cacophonous monkey, and its effects are similar, so the judges ended up comparing your item to that one.

Thrush: charge up the bird with a performance, activate bird to play out stored rounds of performance.
Monkey: Start playing, monkey continues the performance for you, for up to ten rounds per day.

Different mechanical expression, but same sort of idea: the item lets the bard have two performances going on. The thrush has the advantage that you can store them up ahead of time (indefinitely) and *anyone* can activate it, not just the bard.

The thrush is more powerful because you can charge it up on "downtime" days, or throw in a few leftover rounds of performance each night until it's fully charged. I'm generally cautious about mechanics that let you store up unused daily abilities--item crafting severely limits your adventuring for the day, a staff can only be recharged when you prepare spells (so you're expending a spell slot you can't use for the rest of the day), and so on.

I think the monkey handles this mechanic better, without the potential for abuse that the thrush does. However, I do like the thematics of the thrush, and it fits the world better than the monkey-toy with cymbols (you'll note in the monkey's comments I say it's a "bit too silly for our world").

How I would develop this item:
1) Set an expiration duration on the charged-up feathers. Either an hour or a day, just to encourage you to use the item soon, and to prevent you from carrying unused performance rounds to the next day. (I like that anyone can activate the item, which means the bard can pass it to another character to activate.)
2) Change all references to the "owner" of the item, as that's completely relative and doesn't have any meaning in terms of game mechanics. For example, who is the "owner" of the One Ring, and if that owner is Sauron, does that mean Frodo can't use it to turn invisible? Use "wielder" if it's a weapon item that a creature has to use like a weapon in order to use its magical abilities, or "bearer" if it's something you just have to wear, carry, or hold.
3) State what action it is to catch the bird if you want it to stop singing early.
4) Cut all references to the time-uncertain word "will," it strengthens your tone if you write without it. For example, change
"Each round the bird spends singing, a tail feather will fade."
to
"Each round the bird spends singing, a tail feather fades."
It's a minor, semantic difference for this item, but it's a good habit to get into. From the guidelines I give my freelancers:

WILL
Write your sentences so they don’t rely on the word “will” (other than in the context of a Will save, of course). It makes your writing sound stronger. Compare:
"The camp is so busy, the PCs will find it easy to move through it without harassment."
"The camp is so busy, the PCs find it easy to move through it without harassment."
or
"If a PC makes a DC 20 Spot check, they will notice a strange glyph on the wall."
"If a PC makes a DC 20 Spot check, they notice a strange glyph on the wall."
There's no real reason to have the word "will" in either of the above examples. Using "will" actually adds an element of future-temporal vagueness to the sentences ("When will you find it easy? When do they notice the glyph?"), removing it puts the action in the here and now.
It's especially common for this to crop up in game text, as game text tends to use many "if, then" statements where "will" likes to glom on like mold.
Tip: When you finish a manuscript, do a search & replace for all instances of the word "will" (lower case, as you don't want to mess up mentions of Will saves) with red, bold will so they stand out, and try to rewrite those sentences so they don't use the word "will." And if for some reason you're using contractions, don't forget he'll, she'll, I'll, we'll, you'll, and they'll.

Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Tip: ... and if for some reason you're using contractions, don't forget he'll, she'll, I'll, we'll, you'll, and they'll.

I seem to recall that contractions are discouraged in commercial writing. Is that something the Paizo editors pay attention to?

</derail>

Contributor

It varies from company to company. At Paizo, because we try to avoid using "will," that bit of advice amounts to "when doing a search to look for 'will,' don't forget to look for contractions that use that word and change them, too."

So:

Bad: If the lich is sneak attacked, he will cast time stop.

Bad: If the lich is sneak attacked, he'll cast time stop.

Good: If the lich is sneak attacked, he casts time stop.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka CNichols

Just a friendly reminder that there are at least two remaining item critique requests pending - walking stick of the revered elder and meridian needles.

Contributor

Yep, I've been working on a massive art order (and getting comments on the Top 8 this weekend), but I have this thread bookmarked, along with a private thread tracking which ones are still pending. :)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka CNichols

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Yep, I've been working on a massive art order (and getting comments on the Top 8 this weekend), but I have this thread bookmarked, along with a private thread tracking which ones are still pending. :)

Awesome. I realize you're very busy, so thanks for taking the time to do this thread (and assuage nervous nellies like me when we get antsy).

As always, the Paizo team is a class act, through and through! :)


Chris Nichols wrote:
Just a friendly reminder that there are at least two remaining item critique requests pending - walking stick of the revered elder and meridian needles.

And the Facsimile Stone! :D Been checking this thread like mad to get my feedback. :)


Sean K Reynolds wrote:


Here is your item:
[ooc]Dust of the Shaitan

Honestly, this started out as a very different item. That is where then transmute rock to mud came in. When it morphed to the desert theme, I never looked for a better fitting spell. I still like the feel of the harsher move penalty that I have here, but I see how much easier solid fog makes things. It will serve me very well next year.

Again, thank you very much Sean (and Neil in the other thread)

Contributor

Chris Nichols wrote:

I'd be exceptionally happy to receive an in-depth critique of my item, the walking stick of the revered elder.

Here is your item:

Walking Stick of the Revered Elder
Aura strong transmutation; CL 13th
Slot —; Price 56,000 gp; Weight 3 lbs.
Description
Crafted of willow with a crow-shaped handle and silver ferrule, this walking stick is frequently associated with worshippers of Andoletta, the empyreal lord known as Grandmother Crow.
When used as an aid to walking and balance, this cane grants a +2 competence bonus to Acrobatics for balance-related effects and a +2 competence bonus to CMD against trip attempts. Additionally, the walking stick subtly resizes itself to match the length that is most comfortable to each user. The walking stick’s other effects depend on the age of the user.
When used by individuals younger than middle age, this walking stick produces the effects of the spell youthful appearance, affecting the user only and causing venerable instead of youthful appearance.
When used by individuals of middle age, the walking stick provides the benefits of constant lesser age resistance.
When used by individuals of old age, the walking stick provides the benefits of constant age resistance. Additionally, once per day the user can affect the cane with shillelagh as though it was a club.
When used by individuals of venerable age, the walking stick provides the benefits of constant greater age resistance. The user may use the cane’s shillelagh ability once per day, and summon a swarm of celestial crows three times per day. These luminous white crows act as the summon swarm spell, using a bat swarm with the celestial creature template, save that the swarm will not harm the summoner’s allies.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, greater age resistance, guidance, shillelagh, summon swarm, youthful appearance; Cost 28,000 gp

Neil's comments:
Hmmm. Interesting flavor behind this item. It's kind of interesting to base its powers around the aging mechanic. I don't think I've seen an item do that before. In some ways, that's innovative. Granted, a PC won't get to use all its abilities until they reach the appropriate age category. I think my primary concern (and I suspect Sean's as well) would be that the item works differently in the hands of differently aged users, as it has more intrinsic value in the hands of someone older. That said, I still kind of like it. The designer also demonstrates good attention to detail on using the provided template. The mechanics are reasonably solid as well. It might be fun to see what else they can come up with in future rounds of the competition.

My comments:
I like it. The more-value-to-some-users is okay with me, you just price it for the optimal user.
I would like this more if it had adventurer-utility for all three listed age categories instead of just the last one, but I still like it as it is.

Ryan wanted to know how this isn't a couple of spells in a can.

Clark felt it wasn't an item for epic, heroic gaming... PCs can be old, and hale, but it's a niche.

So, what to do about this item?

The bonus on Acrobatics balance rolls and to trip CMD is fine as-is.

As I stated above, my main gripe is that the item doesn't have much adventurer-utility unless you're venerable age (at which point you get shillelagh and the summoning). For everyone else, it's a 56,000 gp item that gives a small bonus to two minor things. The simplest change is to give the shillelagh and summoning powers to all age categories of the item, that would make it useful to any user.

I'd also consider tweaking the youthful appearance so it affects any bearer... the item is a little odd in that if you're less than middle aged, it makes you look venerable, but if you're middle-aged or older you look exactly your age.

For simplicity, I'd have the item treat your physical ability score penalties as if you were one age category younger (instead of increasing benefit for the oldest bearers)... that would be consistent for all users with an age penalty, would mean that younger users wouldn't be paying (in terms of item Price) for an ability that doesn't activate for them (age resistance), and would simplify the language of the item.

The end result would be a "tighter" item with the following abilities:
* Acrobatics bonus
* bonus vs. trip
* [i]shillelagh[/]i
* crow summoning
* appearance changing
* reduces age penalties

That's six useful abilities, and you wouldn't need to differentiate them by age category (only the age penalties would vary by bearer, and you wouldn't have to call out different effects according to the bearer's age category). These changes would affect the Price, of course.

Like I said, I liked this item. I think increasing the utility of the item for non-venerable bearers would have made it appear more to Clark and Ryan.

Contributor

Mr Haldol wrote:
I'd like to see any feed back for the gloves of theurgy.

Here is your item:

Gloves of Theurgy
Aura moderate transmutation; CL 10th
Slot hands; Price 40,000 gp; Weight -
Description

These crimson gloves conform to the wearer’s hands to fit perfectly. The gloves are often decorated with detailed arcane designs and intricate divine symbols. The wearer receives a +5 competence bonus on Use Magic Device checks. Three times per day, the wearer may retrieve a scroll from a pack, haversack, or any container as a swift action. Normal attacks of opportunity apply. Once per day as a standard action, the wearer can store the remaining duration of any spell she cast upon herself from a scroll. Only spells cast from scrolls can be stored. The spell can be stored indefinitely. Only one spell can be stored at a time. As a swift action, the wearer can bring the spell back into effect.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, haste, creator must have at least 10 ranks in Use Magic Device or be a mystic theurge; Cost 20,000 gp

There was some discussion of this item by the judges. Neil compared it to having "rollover minutes" on your cell phone, except you're saving up unused scroll spell duration. One thing that hurt you a bit is linking it to the mystic theurge class... as Neil pointed out, "A mystic theurge is pretty much already going to have just about every spell on his class spell list and enough spell slots to have everything available to him. More spells than he can probably burn through in a given day. Is storing up extra spells in his gloves tremendously necessary?"

Neil also suggested include mage's lucubration, mnemonic enhancer, and/or imbue with spell ability (akin to a ring of spell storing) in the construction requirements for this item... haste all by itself alone isn't indicative of what this item can do. And, because the stored spells can be resumed as a swift action, Quicken Spell may be a good thing to add to the Requirements.

After ruminating, Neil compared it to a caster's shield and a ring of spell storing, and was concerned that this item doesn't have an upper limit in terms of what spell levels it can effect--in theory you could save rounds from a time stop in the gloves and release them later as a swift action, even though you normally can't swift-cast spells above 5th level (because you can't use Quicken Spell on spells above level 5). Even the ring of spell storing requires you to use a standard action to cast it. It would be easy for clever players to abuse this.

I read this item after Neil and Clark had their discussion, so they already covered the main issues I would have brought up (here I'm using hindsight to make myself look smart). I pointed out that the gloves let you retrieve a stored scroll 3 times per day... but even if you're really into casting spells from scrolls, you're probably not retrieving scrolls more than 3 times per day, so 3 per day may as well be "anytime." The action economy built into the game is a harsh mistress, and the temptation is there to mess with it, but the game encourages you to prepare/know your main spells and use your spells as backups... and it's supposed to be slower to bring out those backups. I also suggested that if this thing relies on scrolls so much, it should have Scribe Scroll as a Requirement.

So, how to fix this item?

One, set an upper limit to what it can store, perhaps based on a certain number of spell levels (like a ring of spell storing). You could even allow multiple spells stored if it abided by that limit, which makes the item more versatile and useful.

Two, clarify whether you want anyone to be able to cast a stored spell out of the item, or if only the person who saved the spell there can cast it. I suggest the former, as that avoids the problem of "the evil wizard stored some spells in here and now I can't get them out, so the item is useless."

Three, make reactivating the stored spell a standard action.

Four, drop the swift-scroll-retrieve ability. It's really a secondary power to the (groundbreaking) ability to store leftover spell duration in the item, and messes with the action economy.

Five, sever the ties to the mystic theurge class. There's nothing inherently "theurgy" about this item, nor is there anything relating scrolls to mystic theurges. The item is cool and would still be cool without that association.

Star Voter 2014

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
After ruminating, Neil compared it to a caster's shield and a ring of spell storing, and was concerned that this item doesn't have an upper limit in terms of what spell levels it can effect--in theory you could save rounds from a time stop in the gloves and release them later as a swift action, even though you normally can't swift-cast spells above 5th level (because you can't use Quicken Spell on spells above level 5). Even the ring of spell storing requires you to use a standard action to cast it. It would be easy for clever players to abuse this.

Not to critique the critiques, but there are always the metamagic rods for applying metamagic feats to spells you otherwise wouldn't be able to do so. The greater metamagic rod of quicken can mess with action economy of high-level spells worse than some of the items I've seen called out for doing exactly that. Of course, those rods are absurdly expensive (more than a +9 weapon!), and these gloves should be even more expensive if they include something similar to that ability. It's still worth noting that it's possible.

Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Honestly, I think all of the metamagic rods are cheesy and should be removed from the game. The metamagic feats are already annoying and weak and there's no strong incentive to take them, and on top of that you can pick up the rod as a cheap feat-in-a-can and not have to prepare the spell ahead of time, and on top of that, they can bypass the 9th-level spell limit (normally you can't quicken anything 6th or higher with the feat because there are no 10th-level spell slots), so the rods are even better than the feat.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Honestly, I think all of the metamagic rods are cheesy and should be removed from the game. The metamagic feats are already annoying and weak and there's no strong incentive to take them, and on top of that you can pick up the rod as a cheap feat-in-a-can and not have to prepare the spell ahead of time, and on top of that, they can bypass the 9th-level spell limit (normally you can't quicken anything 6th or higher with the feat because there are no 10th-level spell slots), so the rods are even better than the feat.

That's why I use Monte Cook's Experimental Might versions, where each feat gives X/day uses applied at casting time.

Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
... The metamagic feats are already annoying and weak and there's no strong incentive to take them, ...

Hmmm... sounds like a possible design niche for next year's item :)


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Thanks Sean for the review of the item. I really appreciate the time you took to provide all of us with some paizo design insight.

Star Voter 2013

Sean,

Thanks for the feedback! I hope to use your insight to improve next year's entry.


Any word on the items that haven't got feedback yet?

Contributor

Now that the rest of the competition is over, I plan on doing them today. :)

Contributor

Ian Eastmond wrote:

Hopefully I'm on the right track. Anywho, w/out further ado...

...bring the pain... please.

Here is your item, as presented to the judges:

Bracers of Versatile Channeling
Aura moderate conjuration and necromancy; CL 9th
Slot wrists; Price 45,000 gp; Weight 5 lbs.
Description
[ooc]Usually constructed from the stone or clay of temples and crypts, these bracers, engraved with symbols of life and death, each have a grey gem set in the wrist. Once per day, per bracer, a wearer with the channel energy ability can spend a full-round action to charge a gem by spending a daily use of that ability. Positive energy turns the gem bright white, while negative energy turns it pitch black. Once a gem is charged, the wearer can expend that charge to channel energy as a swift action instead of a standard action, and apply any appropriate feats and the specifics of their channel (such as healing or harming) at that time.

Alternately, instead of using the charged gems to channel as a swift action, if each of the gems are currently still holding a charge the wearer can bring both of them together and speak a command word as a standard action to expend the stored energy into a ray of light or darkness (depending on what has been channeled into the gems) that deals 1d6 points of negative or positive energy damage per class level of the wearer’s class that has the channel energy ability to a single target with a ranged touch attack.
The energy channeled into a gem lasts until the following sunrise, and then fades away harmlessly if not used. A gem charged and expended during a period of sunrise to sunrise cannot be charged again until the following period of 24 hours.
Construction

Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, breath of life, slay living; [ooc]Cost 22,500 gp

Summary of judge comments: failed to mention the range of the attack. Expensive item. Does something different with channel energy. Good attention to detail. Shows creativity and mojo.

My main issue with the item is it wrecks the action economy--as many "I can do this faster than normal" items and feats do. Channeling is a standard action. It--and most effects that cost a standard action--are that way for a reason: so you can only do it once per round.

The absolute minimum benefit this item gives you is that you can store a channel out of combat and use that stored channel in combat as a swift action, which means you basically still have an entire round's worth of actions (almost anything else you'd do of interest in the round is a standard or move action). For an "absolute minimum," that's a HUGE advantage, mainly because you could channel twice in one round. Saving up uses of something is fine, but the problem with this item is it lets you spend them faster than you could normally.

If this let you store a charge once per day and expend it later as a standard, that would be fine.
If this let you expend a channel once per day as a swift action, that would be fine.
It's combining the two powers that makes it a problem.

Because you can do this once per bracer, that's two times per day you could do the two-channels-in-one-round. Because there's no drawback for doing so, it's in the cleric's best interest to expend two channels in the morning so the swift-action versions are available anytime during the day. Okay, there's a minor drawback in that the item can't be used the day after you charge/expend it, but that just means the cleric is back to "normal"... and probably means she switches to some other bracers on the "off days," since she may as well make use of that slot.

You have to think of this item in the hands of the optimal user, say a cleric 20 (10d6 channel). Twice per day she could double-channel in one round for 20d6 healing to an area. The closest comparison is using a greater quicken metamagic rod, which you could use 3/day to quicken a 9th-level spell, so you could cast two 9th-level spells in the same round... for 170,000 gp. Your item is 45,000 gp and "quickens" 1d6 channels and 10d6 channels, so the user will hit a point where it's an incredible deal for its price.

Compare it to the Quick Channel feat from Ultimate Magic: "You may channel energy as a move action by spending 2 daily uses of that ability." So this item is better than the feat. True, it's a lot more expensive than the feat-in-a-can would be, but it's good to look at the existing rule for a precedent of what's appropriate.

There's also the (comparitively) minor problem of the ranged attack not having a listed range. We can assume it's suppose to be about 30 feet (the range of a normal channel), but you should explicitly state it because this isn't emulating a spell or other recognizable effect.

We have a lot a lot a lot a lot of items every year where the designer wants to make something a swift or a move instead of a standard. Having magic items activate as a standard action is consistent and makes it easier for players and GMs to remember how the item works--you don't want players having to read a paragraph of magic item text just to see if it's a standard, swift, or immediate action.

And the normal action economy of "most of the time I'm just getting a standard and a move" does the same, and keeping swift actions to "the weird stuff" makes sure that swift actions remain unusual, rare, and valued. Swift actions are a weird niche in the game rules: basically, they exist because sometimes we want something to be a free action, but we don't want it actually to be a free action because that means you could do it as much as you wanted in the round, so a swift action is "it's as free as a free action, but you can only do it once per round."

The temptation is to make more things swift actions, but that just means all your swift-action-options start competing for your attention in the same way that your standard-action-options do. If you think as a swift-action ability as a "panic button" that you can hit when you're in serious trouble, having multiple "panic buttons" starts to take away the element of danger in combat ("meh, I have three different swift actions that can get me out of this problem") and at the same time can actually slow down gameplay ("crap, which of my panic buttons is the best to use in this situation?").

BTW you also added "bigger" message board tags to your entry, which the provided format doesn't have. Also, your second paragraph starts with "alternately"... and while in America that's commonly used as a synonym for "alternatively," they actually mean different things. Alternatively = here is another option. Alternately = these things happen in turn. I often made this not-quite-a-mistake until the Paizo editors beat it out of me. So unless you mean for the item to allow you alternate between a swift-channel ability one day and an energy-blast the next day, use "alternatively" instead of "alternately."

So, to fix this item you need to:
1) list a range for the positive/negative energy ray.
2) change the "store a channel" to one of the following:
a) Store a channel, expend it later as a standard action (useless for the cleric because it's the same action cost, but allows you to give the item to another PC).
b) No channel-storing ability, but like the feat you can expend two channels to fire one as a move action instead of a standard.
c) a combination of (a) and (b), in that you can store up to two channels, but you can expend them both as a move action like the feat.
4) Adjust the price according to what you do for #2.

Cheliax

Thanks a million, Sean! This is seriously priceless feedback, and I feel that my design and writing chops have gone up quite a few notches just by voting and following along with this year's contest on the messageboards. I'll do everything I can to bring my A+ game next time around, and until then snatch up every opportunity for getting that dang foot in the door that comes my way. :-)

Contributor

Magical_Beast wrote:
Your feedback and criticsm of the Ponderous Pebble is highly desired. Thank you in advance for your time and willingness to share your expertise.

Here is your item:


Ponderous Pebble
Aura faint transmutation; CL 3rd
Slot -; Price 150 gp; Weight -
Description
This small, black pebble has faintly etched runes covered with a slightly tacky sheen of glue that never dries out. With the impact of a successful ranged touch attack, the glue strengthens considerably and the pebble adheres to any solid surface for 2d4+1 rounds. While the adhesive is active, the stone can be removed as a standard action that provokes attacks of opportunity.
Immediately upon impact, the pebble becomes incredibly dense and applies encumbrance effects if the total carried load increases to medium or heavy. In addition, the sudden balance adjustment forces the target to make a DC 15 Acrobatics check or fall prone. While in this state, the pebble weighs 300 pounds, after which it crumbles to a fine, near-weightless dust that blows away in the faintest breeze.
The alchemical adhesive is so strong that it will adhere underwater if it can be delivered with sufficient force, but an application of universal solvent dissolves it immediately.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, levitate; Cost 75 gp

Summary of judge comments: effect is interesting, "sufficient force" in the last line isn't clear, dealing with encumbrance changes mid-combat is annoying.

Okay, so the sticking (ha ha) points for this item are two things.

One, you say it's an alchemical glue, but this is a magic item, so it should just be a magical glue rather than alchemical one. Defining it as alchemical actually makes this item more complex because it brings up the question of how it interacts with dispel magic. Just have it be magic.

Two, encumbrance rules are a real pain. The encumbrance rules are on pages 169-170, plus a table on 171. It's not something you can easily reference while in combat--the last thing you want to do is pause a combat to read two pages of text so the GM can decide if the flying manticore is now treated as having medium or heavy encumbrance because you threw a 300-pound pebble at it. And don't forget the quadruped rule...

There's no attack roll, even though it's a thrown item. The target doesn't get a save, but they do get a DC 15 Acrobatics check. Because skill checks don't automatically scale like saving throws do, that means some monsters are really vulnerable to this. For example, a CR 19 ancient red dragon's Acrobatics modifier is –1, so this is a great item to use on big, strong, not-so-Dexy creatures.

Basically, this item hits the target with a lot of rules baggage. The item writeup was 181 words, which meant you had plenty of room to either create a custom effect for this item or reiterate the complexities of the actual encumbrance rules in a simpler form. Something you should also look at is the cursed stone of weight, which is really simple in that the bearer's base speed is halved--and that's all it does. Now, encumbrance is more than that (it affects max Dex, armor check penalty, speed, and run speed), and if you want your item to affect those things it's okay, but basing it on the encumbrance rules is what makes it a nightmare during gameplay.

I liked the idea of this item, but rejected it because using it in-game is going to slow down the combat. Fixing it is pretty easy:

1) Dump the alchemical adhesive. You throw it at someone, it magically sticks to them. There ya go. Stuff like universal solvent should affect that normally, which means you don't even need to mention the interaction of glues and solvents, the rules already cover that.
2) Give it a Strength DC if you want to tear it away from yourself. Right now it's automatic for just spending a standard action, which means Sammy Six Strength can do it as easily as Edgar Eighteen. The DC is up to you, but as this is currently built as a low-cost, low-level item, I'd look to the costs for alchemical items like the tanglefoot bag as a reasonable example.
3) Simplify and clarify what the stone does to you. Possible ideas are a Dex penalty, a speed decrease, chance to fall over if on the ground, chance to plummet a bit if flying or swimming (purely optional, but I like the idea of a flying monster suddenly dipping downward under the effects of the increased weight). And in doing so, you can have a standardized effects for all creatures, no matter what their actual encumbrance is. Even if it's something as simple as "–2 on Dex-based rolls, –2 on Str-based rolls, reduce speed by half," that's a significant penalty and easy to apply on the fly.

Edit: Also, we've stopped saying "Slot —" in magic item stat blocks, they're now "Slot none."

Contributor

Sasayaki wrote:
I wrote the Facsimilie Stone and I'd love for some feedback!

Here is your item:

Facsimile Stone
Aura moderate transmutation; CL 5th
Slot —; Price 4,000 gp; Weight 5 lbs when inactive, varies when active.
Description
This simple, perfectly spherical piece of black stone is covered in ornate runes and decorations. If held and a command word spoken, the stone transforms into a copy of the bearer (and her equipment) and weighs approximately the same. The facsimile may then be given a very simple set of instructions such as, “pretend to sleep in this bed”, “pretend to patrol this corridor” or “pretend to eat this food”. The facsimile does not understand conditionals and cannot react to its environment. It cannot speak, fight, cast spells, labour, activate magical items, sound an alarm or do any activity other than function as a decoy. For the purposes of strength checks the facsimile has a strength score of 1. When active the facsimile is treated as though it is the recipient of a nondetection spell (caster level 5) and has hardness 8, 10 hit points and AC 10. A Perception check (DC 20, modified for distance) reveals the facsimile’s true nature, although its behaviour (or lack thereof) may also be suspicious. The facsimile may be activated once per week for up to 12 hours before reverting back to its stone form. If attacked the facsimile does not react and if destroyed, or if a piece is removed such as a weapon, it reverts to its stone form which also has hardness 8, 10 hit points and AC 10. Destroying the stone destroys the item.
Construction Requirements
Craft Wondrous Item, alter self, nondetection; Cost 2,000 gp

Summary of judge comments: nice that it's programmable but limited to simple commands, most players would use this to set off traps (but it's expensive and there are cheaper ways to do that so the existence of the item has greater value outside of that usage), plot device.

Okay, minor technical stuff about the stat block: you only need to list the item's weight in its inactive form, not when you have it emulating a creature (note the figurines of wondrous power don't list weights for their animal forms). "lbs" should have a period after it. "Requirements" should be on its own line, like it is in the provided magic item stat block template. "Strength" is always capitalized. You don't need to call out that the nondetection effect is caster level 5 because the item is listed as "CL 5th," which means that all of its effects are CL 5th.

Honestly, the game mechanics of this item are fine, it's the theme/utility that kept it out of the Top 32. On an adventure, a PC would use it to draw out ambushers or set off traps, which means it brushes against advice #22: Item makes adventuring safe.
Outside of an adventure, it's most likely used as a #4 plot device (such as taking a vulnerable character's place in anticipation of an assassination attempt).
It needs more pizzaz so that adventurers would be inclined to use it for something other than cannon fodder. Maybe when it's active, it provides something like shield other for the copied creature. Maybe it lets you swap places with it once per day or you can take statue form (perhaps like the statue spell) and it'll look like flesh. Maybe it has an alternate ability that's more adventurer-useful like stoneskin or meld into stone that you can tie to its main ability. Maybe the copied person can wear it like armor for a short time. Maybe it has a burrow speed or earth glide. Maybe if you're killed, you can animate the you-statue and control it as yourself for 1 minute.
Basically, right now the item has niche utility. Most PCs that found one would think, "hmm, maybe this'll be useful some day." You want this to have an ability that makes the PC think, "I am SO glad I found one of these!" The item is functional and doesn't break anything in the game... it's just not quite exciting enough--not superstar enough.

Just so we end on a high note instead of an average note: it's clear you know the rules and you thought about the consequences of what this is and how it interacts with the rules. Calling out its limited understanding and that it can't react to things shows you're thinking this through. Likewise with its effective Strength, hardness, hp, and AC, and a viewer's ability to detect it. There's nothing wrong with this item in a game design sense. You just have to kick it up a notch. You're very close!


Really nice feedback, thank you! :D

Taldor Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Thank you very much for the feedback!

I can't decide if I'm happy that I was aware of the basic problem when I submitted it or bummed that I couldn't figure out an elegant way to fix it.

Ammunition for RPG superstar 2013! Thanks again.


Any chance you're still looking at these, Sean? I'd still absolutely love to see feedback on my item, but I understand you're super duper busy.

Contributor

I know, I know, yours is the last one, I haven't forgotten. Just trying to get Ultimate Equipmentfinished this week...

*head explodes*


Haha, get your head back together, buddy! Thanks for doing all this, it is so incredibly appreciated. And take your time!

Contributor

Barda wrote:
Hey, my item was the Meridian Needles. I'd love some feedback, if possible. Thanks in advance!

Here is your item!

Meridian Needles
Aura moderate varied; CL 7th
Slot none; Price 55,200 gp; Weight -
Description
These slender, silver needles with red wax ends always come in groups of eight, housed carefully in a sleeve of soft material such as doeskin or fine silk. Favored by monks, meridian needles target specific pressure points in a target's body, unlocking the hidden power and potential of another's ki.
Inserting meridian needles requires a successful melee touch attack and allows the wielder to expend points from his own ki pool, channeling it through the needles and granting a ki power to the target.
By expending 2 points from his ki pool the wielder can grant either a +4 dodge bonus to armor class or a 20 foot enhancement bonus to the target's base land speed. Either bonus lasts for one round.
By expending 3 points from his ki pool the wielder can heal the target as if the target was affected by the Wholeness of Body class feature, with the amount of healing determined by the wielder's level.
Withdrawing meridian needles from a target requires a move action, and the needles must be withdrawn and reapplied to a target in order for the target to benefit from the needles' power again. Multiple targets can be affected but each effect requires a number of needles equal to the number of ki points expended.
Meridian Needles do not function on constructs or undead.
Construction Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, burst of speed, mage armor, cure light wounds, creator must be a monk; Cost 27,600 gp

Judge Comments

* The item cites mage armor in its construction requirements, but that grants an armor bonus, not a dodge bonus. Dodge bonuses stack. It also cites burst of speed which increases base movement by 20 feet, but only 10 feet if you're wearing medium or heavy armor. This thing just grants a 20-foot bonus regardless. While I can appreciate trying to do something different so they aren't just SIAC effects, I don't think this is the way to do it.

* Lastly, extending the wholeness of body ability via the meridian needles is an interesting idea. I think they could have centered this item just around that effect and left it alone (after reducing its price accordingly) and that would have been innovative enough. But, allowing these needles to replicate that effect over and over on multiple targets might be going a bit far. I'd rather see it restricted to a number of uses per day.

* I like the thoughtfulness that went into the concept for this wondrous item. Magical acupuncture needles. You can't get much more innovative in terms of an idea than that. And they've got great attention to detail on using the provided template. It's headed down a creative path that demonstrates enough mojo that I'd like to see what else this designer can do if given a chance.

* {This is Sean talking.} I was cautious about the dodge bonus, but it only lasts 1 round, so it's not really a concern about super-stacking that.

* {Sean} It needs to say what kind of action it is to activate the item (I assume it's standard).

* {Sean} I guess you need to be touching the needles to activate them?

* {Sean} This should say it doesn't work on creatures that are immune to crits, like oozes--no acupuncture points to tap.

* I'm not in favor of sharing class features. This makes a Monk a backup healer, and trades one ass-kicking attack action for a +4 dodge bonus to another character. Just doesn't seem real superstar to me.

* These need attunement, too (aka: "must possess for a day to use their power"). Otherwise, you get one set of these needles and multiple monks and all of a sudden they are all using this one set of needles to do lots of stuff.

* have to say it was a good attempt, though, and someone may want to golden ticket this.

Developer Thoughts
Re: monk as backup healer/sharing class features: I actually like the idea of a monk being a backup healer; I think there's a monk archetype that lets monks use their healing powers on others. So many other classes can heal others, I don't have a problem with a monk using his personal healing powers on others. And we have several classes where sharing that class's ability is a key feature (frex, paladin auras).

Re: attunement to prevent abuse: I don't like attunement effects on magic items--it's better to just design the item so it can't be exploited by everyone passing it around. And I don't think this item can be exploited that way--it costs an action to use, and expends the user's ki.

How to Fix This Item

1) Change the mage armor construction requirement to something more appropriate to dodging. Cat's grace will do.

2) State what kind of action it is to channel your ki into the needles (should be standard), and state that the user has to be touching the needles for it to work.

3) Cut the "favored by monks" text in the item description.

4) For the speed bonus option, state that it has the same limitations as the monk fast movement ability. That takes care of the "what if the target is in heavy armor?" question.

5) Add "creatures immune to crits" to the list of creatures these don't work on.

Overall
Concept was good. Stat block execution was good. Game rules could use a little more clarification. Keep up the good work! :)

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