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Charts of the Shadow Voyage


Round 1 - Open Call: Design a wondrous item

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka amusingsn

Charts of the Shadow Voyage
These extensive nautical charts, maps, and instruments are contained within a black leather portfolio with silver clasps and fasteners. The portfolio has large pockets in the front and back which contain a nautical compass, a sextant and a mechanical clock. Once per night, if a direct course is plotted using these instruments, the navigator's ship begins an eerie voyage through the Plane of Shadow.

While in the Plane of Shadow, the vessel appears to travel at its normal rate of speed, but covers 50 miles per hour relative to the Material Plane. Due to the shadowy nature of the course, the travelers are unable to perceive details of the terrain they pass through until they exit the Plane of Shadow at the end of their trip or at dawn, whichever comes first. When the ship returns to the Material Plane, it returns only 1d10x100 feet from its course.

Anyone leaving the ship during its shadow voyage has a 50% chance of being trapped in the Plane of Shadow, otherwise they return to the Material Plane at dawn.

Strong illusion; CL 12th; Craft Wondrous Item, shadow walk; Price 30,000 gp; Weight 10 lb.

Qadira Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

I'm always in favor of more shadow walks and less teleports. Seems worth keeping around.

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

Keep around.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

Yeah. This is ok. I don't think it will be enough, but it's neatly written and everyone loves the Shadow Plane.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

I like this a good deal more than the other shadow walk item, the billowing cloak. Obviously, this is for overland travel and not for PC movement, but the flavor is MUCH better, in my view.

Let's all get on record for this.

I say Keep.

Qadira Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

Keep.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

Kept.

Taldor

I can't believe no one has commented on this one! Solid mechanics, interesting effect, an atypical item (something I would've used in my decision were I a judge).

This is on my voting shortlist.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Steven T. Helt

I really like this. It's something I could see in a novel. I like that an item has great mechanics and is very cinematic.

I vote keep. : }

Cheliax

This ranks as my favorite of the 32.

Pretty cool.

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

ancientsensei wrote:
I really like this. It's something I could see in a novel. I like that an item has great mechanics and is very cinematic.

I agree with this, I like it a lot for that very reason.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka SmiloDan

I'm running a Swashbuckling campaign right now, it started out with a 3 month sea voyage to cross a new sea. I want the PCs to back someday, but for it not to take 90 days. I am SO gonna use this item!

And to think I was just going to give them some kind of magical sails that double their speed. The Charts of the Shadow Voyage are so much cooler than that!

Paizo Employee Senior Developer

Love the flavor on this. Very cool, IMO.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka Sir_Wulf

An original and evocative item! I like the images this gives me as a DM, journeys passing beyond the seas of mortal lands.

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Tales Subscriber

The name didn't catch my eye at first with this, but very well put together - nice stretching of a spell effect - classic use for a wondrous item.


I like this one, but I was a little confused by the mechanics on the first reading. I read it as basically "you think you're traveling 50mph, but end up only going 1d10x100 feet". Pretty useless, I thought, until I figured it out.

If someone leaves the ship during the voyage and ends up being transported back to the material plane, I assume they don't show back up on the ship? They pop out most likely in the ocean where they'll drown or get eaten by nasty critters?

Cheliax

mythfish wrote:
I assume they don't show back up on the ship? They pop out most likely in the ocean where they'll drown or get eaten by nasty critters?

My vote is for "eaten by nasty critters".

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6 aka adanedhel9

Very cool item. I think one of these is going to show up in my next campaign.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

I really like this one. Evocative and cinematic, and at the same time a useful way for getting around the ultralong sea voyage. Yes, you can make a long sea voyage fun and exciting (I think Savage Tide did a nice job with this), but a lot of that has to do with places you stop along the way. Also, you can make ONE sea voyage fun and exciting. The return trip? Commuting back and forth? Not so much.

I'm with whoever said more shadow plane and less teleports. This is SO much cooler than "We teleport back to town." Well done.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013

DangerDwarf wrote:
mythfish wrote:
I assume they don't show back up on the ship? They pop out most likely in the ocean where they'll drown or get eaten by nasty critters?

My vote is for "eaten by nasty critters".

That was my wondering as well.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I like this one too. My current campaign has no teleportation spells, so the undead cover large distances using the plane of shadows. It would be a nice way to allow the party to follow into the plane.

Andoran

Wow. This really is a nice one. I'm still partial to the skanky cat in the locker, but this one is really tight. Lotsa potential.

Cheliax RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka Boxhead

Definitely a very cool item. This is my favourite so far.


Tied as my favorite. Very nice.

Mark

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter 2014

Wolfgang Baur wrote:
I'm always in favor of more shadow walks and less teleports. Seems worth keeping around.

I agree in the abstract: Shadow walk is so much more interesting. However, the Shadow plane sometimes has encounters.

That said, this is a great item. Remindes me of the Wakeportal from the STAP, but that was a fun item.

Andoran RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Dementrius

Awesome in every way. A total masterpiece.

I love it, I'll use it as a DM and all my characters from now on will make one.

Andoran

I read this one first just because the title caught my eye. It's still one of my top two.

Great job!


Nice nautical item but seems undercosted for what it is doing moving a ship compared to a Gate Zeppelin or the level 9 Planar Navigation spell from Stormwrack and being portable and usable in any ship instead of fixed architecture.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

People love the shadow plane. This was the most evocative of perhaps 20 submissions that dealt with it in some way, including at least three cloaks that granted you the shadow walk ability.


Tied with the origami book for the number one spot.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka amusingsn

Thank you for all the great positive feedback! It is very encouraging, and very, very appreciated.

There were some mechanical questions and concerns by some of you about the item and I fully agree that the submission wasn't entirely one-hundred percent clear on the mechanics. My first draft expounded more on the nuances of the mechanics, but it ended up being a bit rambling and too long.

To fit the criteria of the contest, I streamlined it down to the version that you see, and to tell you the truth, I agonized over whether or not the mechanics would be clear enough, and whether I should turn in an item that was simpler, mechanically speaking. In the end, I went with the version you see above. And after looking at it over a week later, I think it was for the best, in the end.

In hindsight, I think it is mostly clear how the item is intended to work, and the slight gray area that remains leaves a little DM wiggle room for interpretation which can only be a good thing, in my opinion. I wish I could say that it was by original intent that it ended that way, but it was mostly a serendipitous result of the collision of the item concept and the guidelines for the contest.

I'm inclined to directly answer the questions of what happens to someone when they return to the material plane after abandoning the shadow voyaging ship; however I think it is more interesting to ask you.

If the PCs in your game jumped ship during a shadow voyage, where do you think they'd appear in the material plane at dawn? Struggling for survival on the harsh open sea? On the coast of a mysterious uncharted island? Safely on board their own ship after a crazy night trapped in the harsh and dangerous seas of the Plane of Shadow? In the clutches of the shark riding aquatic goblin minions of the kraken prince of the south seas who somehow predicted their arrival?

Its a very good question.

As for the cost of the item, keep in mind that it can only be used on nautical ships, only at night, and only once per night. The speed of travel is limited to fifty miles per hour, it can only access the Plane of Shadow (which isn't always safe), and the course must be plotted before the voyage begins. I am not familiar with the items or spells that have been mentioned in comparison, unfortunately.

(Edited to add the last paragraph to address the cost concerns)


amusingsn wrote:


I'm inclined to directly answer the questions of what happens to someone when they return to the material plane after abandoning the shadow voyaging ship; however I think it is more interesting to ask you.

Oh, I agree it's more interesting to leave it up to the DM. As the DM, if my PCs left the ship, I'd probably leave them in the Shadow Plane and make them find another way out as a totally different adventure. If an NPC left the ship, they'd vanish forever unless they were one of my favorite recurring villains, and then they'd end up finding another way out of the shadow plane.

But as for what's written in the item description, I'd go with "struggling for survival in the open sea".

Andoran

I must say, this is a very cool item. Very evocative, it solves a problem in a creative way and has a very unique feel to it. It kind of reminds me of something you would see in a Pirate of the Caribbean movie (which is a compliment, by the way :)


Very cool! I like it a lot, it has great flavor and good mechanics. In addition it involves to of my favorite elements of an adventure: sailing and shadow. This is a very good item.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka amusingsn

Marc Radle 81 wrote:
It kind of reminds me of something you would see in a Pirate of the Caribbean movie (which is a compliment, by the way :)

Pirates of the Caribbean is the iconic dark sea-faring fantasy tale in pop culture, so you will find no offense taken on my part by the comparison. I was well aware before I hit the submit button that it would evoke such similarity. It's the equivalent of comparing more straight and epic fantasy fare with the Lord of the Rings, which I would also take as a compliment.

I enjoy exploring the different and sometimes obscure sub-genres of Fantasy in my work, and I look forward to seeing what you think of the rest of my submissions in this contest.

I'm really having fun, and I hope you are too!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka amusingsn

mythfish wrote:
If an NPC left the ship, they'd vanish forever unless they were one of my favorite recurring villains, and then they'd end up finding another way out of the shadow plane.

This is an excellent use of the "super-villain death" element, an element of which I enjoy using in the right circumstances -- in other words, whenever I think the players won't call shenanigans on me! Each individual campaign is going to have its own themes and style and hopefully will be able to take advantage of the wiggle-room. It just so happens that you and I appear to share the same style of game-play!

I've played in some games that are more serious and less cinematic and they can be loads of fun as well. And in those types of games, struggling for survival in the open sea would probably suit them perfectly.


I agree very cinematic but again (for me) this is more of an item an NPC would have to help the party get somewhere as a one time really cool ride. I guess at higher levels it would become a player item to help them continent jump, but even in this case teleporting would be much faster. I might just build it into a ship called the Shadow Voyager.

It really gets your mind going with plot ideas, definitely a wow item and I believe it should be in the top 32.

Andoran RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka JoelF847

Very cool item. This would be incredibly useful to explorer PCs looking for a quick way across an ocean - which teleport can't even do if you don't know where you're going.

I'd have liked to see an explicit mention about checking for encounters while traveling the shadow plane, since while most DMs would handle this on their own, newer ones might not think about this, or think that the magic of the item provides a safe journey.


This is my favourite so far, although I've only reviewed the first 10 (I'm going in order as listed on the RPG Superstar™ home page). I too, have a seafaring "swashbuckler-y" campaign on the go and will almost certainly introduce this once appropriate.

:-j(enni)

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013

Ragwaine wrote:

I might just build it into a ship called the Shadow Voyager.

Nah, don't do that. Then the ship will get lost in a cliche' campaign in the Delta Quadrant, with a buxome half golem and a snippy warforged with the incorporeal subtype.

Seriously I do like this item it's tied for spots 6-10 in my book


I like this. One of my favorites. Congrats!


Gotta say, this item is totally awesome. I bow down to it's greatness.


Matrissa the Enchantress wrote:
This is my favourite so far, although I've only reviewed the first 10 (I'm going in order as listed on the RPG Superstar™ home page).

In the end, this item weathered the storm of the other 22 items very very well and ending up as my number two favourite.

I await Erik's country submission with gleeful anticipation.

:-j(enni)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka amusingsn

Matrissa the Enchantress wrote:

In the end, this item weathered the storm of the other 22 items very very well and ending up as my number two favourite.

I await Erik's country submission with gleeful anticipation.

I guess I'll have to try a little bit harder!

With everyone only getting one vote, coming in number two on someone's list is equivalent to coming in number 32. Yikes!

I'm still working on my submission for the next round right now, late into the night, and I am devouring your glee for a late night snack and washing it down with Mountain Dew as my freakishly-long cat stares at me with his sleepy eyes (he's no good without his 16 hours of rest, you see)!


With a good storyteller DM, this item could really add a lot of extra -oomph to a session.

Even though it has only an extremely specialized use, this is definitely one of my favorites!

I can imagine sending characters on a quest to find this item, before they go out searching among the realms of shadow, before they arrive at the Shadow City detailed in one of the old Dragon Magazines (crica 2005, I think it was? Can't recall the name right now- but it was an amazing citadel.)

Also it has a very sinister quality to it that could make for a great pirate ship boarding fight (don't fall overboard!)

Good luck tomorrow,
-LD


So going to be using this in a swashbuckling campaign. It also has a great swords and sorcery vibe; I can imagine Elric or Fafhrd and Mouser using this!

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka SmiloDan

I've been using a version of this in my Crater Sea Swashbuckling Campaign.

It requires a DC 20 Profession sailor or navigator check to use correctly....and for each point less than DC 40, there is a 5% chance of a random encounter from the Shadow Sea (advanced kraken, drowned, sea serpents, yugoloth raiders, etc.)

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