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RPG Superstar 2015

Diviner’s Trepanation Drill


Round 1 - Open Call: Design a wondrous item

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka ViktorS

A mithril brace with eye-like engravings and an adamantinum drill bit, this enchanted surgical tool is used to drill a small hole in the recipient’s forehead, thereby unlocking the mind’s untapped potential for supernatural perception, the “mind’s eye”.

Successfully applying the drill requires a DC 15 heal check (, DC 25 for self-application). Failure inflicts 3d6 points of damage and has no further effect. On a successful check the beneficiary’s “mind’s eye” opens for 2 hours, giving him the benefits of a continuous see invisibility effect, 120ft. darkvision, and a +3 bonus on saves against illusions. As his bared mind becomes more vulnerable, he suffers a -3 penalty on saves against non-illusion mind-influencing effects.

The character also gains the following spell-like abilities (CL = HD): -arcane sight, detect thought, clairaudience/clairvoyance. Activating these abilities opens the mind to the insanity inducing background noise that permeates reality and causes 1d4 points of wisdom damage (no save). Characters whose wisdom scores drop to 0 while under the trepanation’s effect are driven insane (, as per insanity spell), becoming delirious lunatics obsessed with truths beyond truth and horrors lurking at the edge of reality.

Moderate Divination; CL 9; Craft Wondrous Item, true seeing; Heal 12 ranks; Price 32.500 gp; weight 2 lb.

Spoiler:
Due to word count restrictions a nifty cthulhu reference and an adventure hook about trephination cults had to be cut.

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

Props for using the Spoiler tag in a contest entry, and getting the LOLs.
Shame about the Cthulhoid trepanation cult.

Not sure I like the item, though I know it has a real-world basis. Certainly better and grislier than your average true seeing item.

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

This at least has some juice to it. It is a bit too "Reanimator" for me (you know, good/bad Lovecraft movie).

Here is what pisses me off about this submission and tells me the guy is NOT a superstar:

Boy oh boy did he really want to include tons of cheesy over the top backstory to his item. So much so that when he made the right editorial decision to cut that stuff, he just couldnt resist telling us about his cut.

Yes, I like the spoiler button. But I thought that might include the hidden math behind that submission. THAT I would have thought was cool. But they: "hey look guys, I have lots of cool stuff that I didnt even get to show you!" just grated on my nerves. NOT superstar. And not really able to follow instructions, in my view.

I vote reject for that reason, but I'll defer to Erik and you since the item is pretty good.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

I think the guy was just trying to make us laugh, and it worked. I'm fine with this. A bit better than fine, actually, because I have a minor obsession with trepanation.

Not that I'd everrrrrr ytyertyrtry iyt.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

I am going on record on this one: Keep.

Guys?

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

It's a little complex for what it does, but I'm ok with keeping it.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

Kept.


I'm also a fan of trepanation, actually one of the adventures I was thinking about submitting if I got to the end is called "Experiments in Trepanation" I wrote it for Warhammer about 15 years ago.

Back to the item. It's crazy and shocking but I don't get how it works? It makes it sound like anyone can drill a hole in their head (with anything) and get these powers. It doesn't tell me how "the item" gives them the powers. Like is there a spirit in the drill that enters their head or does the drill just cast a spell on the user?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Erik Mona wrote:


Not that I'd everrrrrr ytyertyrtry iyt.

no, never. ;-)

This is a cool item, and I think the spoiler tag was a nice touch. It got the judges' attention anyway! (although by Clark's response, that could have gone either way...)


I think the idea of a magical trepanation drill is VERY creative. This is one of my favourites on the list.

I'm very fond of positive items with negative side effects. (If it were up to me, every magic item would have some minor negative side to it, but there you go.)

Although it wouldn't have fit into 200 words, if I were introducing this into my campaign, I'd have it be adjustable, so that the drill could be repositioned to any part of the skull/brain. Tiny marked dials allow exact positioning of the latitude and longitude.

Furthermore, accompanying notes (written in the previous owner's feverishly scribbled handwriting, of course) would ascribe certain powers* to one or two positions, along with a cryptic reference to a lost tome that detailed the effects of its use at all settings.

That would give the item a little more utility than just divination, and it might be enough to provoke reckless PCs into experimenting on themselves.

(* Mean DMs might have the previous owner's marginalia be somewhat misleading or even totally wrong.)

It's just such a neat item that it really sparks my imagination!

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka catdragon

Personally, i don't like it. To me it feels more like an excuse for DM ex machina.

What do I mean by that? Well, I can't see a PC ever using it, but I can imagine NPCs using it. And the powers it grants are significant enough that the PCs are going to get screwed if they are using "sneaky" tactics (invisibility, illusion, magical disguise, etc) And it is expensive enough that it is going to overbalance any treasure recovered.

But then again, it just be me. :) So feel free to ignore me.

But if I get a vote, I would say lose it.

Scarab Sages

I like the idea. No, I love the idea. A magic drill for trepanation is just awesome. The trouble is I don't think the entrant knew exactly what he wanted the abilities to be and as such it's really really inconsistant. Here's the clean version: +3 bonus to seeing through illusions and invisibility because his "mind's eye" is open / -3 penalty to resisting mind compulsion effects because the mind is open and thus its defenses are down.

Simple.

I think it's a little weak too that the thing does damage only if it fails. Either way you sorta have a bleeding hole in your head, right? Plus that damage is just insane--more than (if I remember right) a failed decapitation by beheading (in BoVD). Yikes! If it were me I would have the thing do 2 points of damage for the tiny hole it drills, successful or not, and on a failed Heal check it also does like 1d10 permanent Int. damage (for drilling an "oops hole" in the person's BRAIN!!).


catdragon wrote:
Well, I can't see a PC ever using it, but I can imagine NPCs using it.

Are you kidding? I'd use it. Well, one of my characters would use it. I wouldn't.

Though I think the idea is cool, I have to agree with Clark on the writing of it.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka Steven T. Helt

Yeah, to me this is not a top shelf item. It is creepy and original, but it is not an item players will want in their party somewhere. Maybe in a well-roleplayed gamefull of creepy characters. But most heroic games wouldn't use this if you gave it to them at first level.

Not that they could take the 3d6.

Definitely should cause the same damage whether it succeeds or not, and intelligence drain if it fails.

Despite its strengths, I would put this at the bottom of the current list of 32. Thus far. Only halfway there.

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015

I was hoping this was going to be cooler based on the first couple of sentences.

Maybe something that revealed happenings on other planes, etc.

The insanity negative effect could be cool if it were pushed to that level a little faster.


I think this is a great idea and will steal it for my campagin (my players seem to think I turn every world into Ravenloft...)
However I have to agree with Ragwaine:

Ragwaine wrote:
It's crazy and shocking but I don't get how it works? It makes it sound like anyone can drill a hole in their head (with anything) and get these powers. It doesn't tell me how "the item" gives them the powers. Like is there a spirit in the drill that enters their head or does the drill just cast a spell on the user?

I think that maybe once you drill the hole, the bit is left behind in the skull, which gives your inner eye a kind of peep-hole to the world.

also, and I don't have the math to back me up, but i think a DC15 seems kind of low.
But all in all, very cool. I would have kept it.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

This is cool - I think even marginally weird PCs would feel at home with it.

Liberty's Edge

I have to admit, this one's growing on me.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka CNichols

I wonder if this was inspired by the Army of the Third Eye from Delta Green: Countdown? No magic trepanation drills - they just drill holes in their heads to drive out the alien insects.

Chris Nichols


This is pretty frikkin' cool. I can just see a suitably creept diviner walking around with a mad glint in their eyes and small hole in their forehead. I'm going to have to use this sometime.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Yeah, right, I need one of these like I need a hole in my head...


Neat idea, iffy execution. That's okay -- I can do execution on ym own. I'd never have come up with thes core idea on my own, and that makes it valuable to me as a dnD DM.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka ViktorS

I'm out!!

I just resigned from the contest. Sent the mail to Mr. Frost.

I'd love to show you my country of cannibalistic smurfs who hide bore holes beneath their silly white hats, but the IP is just too valuable.

Alternates start writing your countries!

VvsS
Former RPG Superstar Top 32

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

Weak.

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015

Erik Mona wrote:
Weak.

Those alternates were a good idea. Heh.

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

Viktor

May I ask why? Its ok if you dont want to say.

I hope my comments didnt play a part. Please keep in mind that I really liked your item. The comments I made where made all the while we were keeping your item in the top 71 and then from there moving it to the top 32, so it couldnt be that bad :)

I know Erik is disappointed. He in particular really liked your item.

If you dont want to give a reason, I understand.

Best of luck and you will be missed.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka ViktorS

I commented on my quitting in another thread already.

These are my reasons:
1. My submission does not deserve the top 32 spot. It was hastily written and is full of substandard mechanics and writing. I used cheap gamer psychology to capture the judges’ attention.
Trepanation = Self-mutilation = Win.
Find innovative ways to introduce grisly/creepy stuff to the game and they will ignore the obvious flaws in the submission.

2. I’m not a native speaker. In fact, English is my third language. There will always be a stilted, artificial aspect to my English writing. Ergo I’m obviously not RPG Superstar material.
Originally I thought it would be fun to see how deep I could make it in this contest. But after seeing how much blood, sweat, and TEARS were involved for some of the loosing competitors I think I should offer my place to someone who fulfills the most basic RPG designer prerequisite… mastery of the English language.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka JoelF847

ViktorS wrote:

I commented on my quitting in another thread already.

These are my reasons:
1. My submission does not deserve the top 32 spot. It was hastily written and is full of substandard mechanics and writing. I used cheap gamer psychology to capture the judges’ attention.
Trepanation = Self-mutilation = Win.
Find innovative ways to introduce grisly/creepy stuff to the game and they will ignore the obvious flaws in the submission.

2. I’m not a native speaker. In fact, English is my third language. There will always be a stilted, artificial aspect to my English writing. Ergo I’m obviously not RPG Superstar material.
Originally I thought it would be fun to see how deep I could make it in this contest. But after seeing how much blood, sweat, and TEARS were involved for some of the loosing competitors I think I should offer my place to someone who fulfills the most basic RPG designer prerequisite… mastery of the English language.

Viktor, let me also say that I think you should reconsider. First of all, I don't think what you submitted used "cheap" gamer psychology at all, but actually really, really good gamer psychology. Your item hit a cool gamer vibe which no one else's item in this contest, or elsewhere had hit before. If you can include creepy thematic stuff like this in the future rounds, I think you'll go far in the contest.

As for not being a native English speaker, I think your above post shows that you are quite fluent writing in English, far better than many, many native English speakers. I know that if I tried to submit something in any language but my native one, it would come out horribly garbled and make no sense at all. I say stay in the contest and show everyone what you can do.

Hope to see your country entry!

-Joel

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter 2014

ViktorS wrote:

I think I should offer my place to someone who fulfills the most basic RPG designer prerequisite… mastery of the English language.

I'm with Mr. Flank on this one: The most important prerequisite is intelligence and creativity. Editors are around for a reason.

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

I read all the entries, and I can tell you that your item was not accepted because of any cheap tricks. We saw those, those got rejected. This was a good item.

But we dont have time to beg people to stay and there is no reconsideration. Thats not fair to the alternates--who had good items and are NOT bailing out. I want contestants that WANT to be here.

If a guy wants to get in the top 32 and bail, that is his or her decision.

The process of replacement has already started.

Game over for the drill.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

I think you've done yourself a disservice. I've seen worse writing in published products. But, as Clark said, it's already over.

We've already notified the alternate (ironically, messageboard posts show that he didn't like your item, and you didn't like his), and we'll make the other appropriate changes on Monday.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Wow. I am truly shocked.

I am really sorry to see the drill go, especially because of the way that Viktor decided to abandon his own work. It was a really good idea.

Being a non-native English speaker myself, I just want to say that if you hadn't mentioned that you weren't a native English speaker, I wouldn't have known.

Having the guts to enter a contest like this, putting a piece of yourself out for public perusal, discussion, and criticism is a huge accomplishment, and everyone who entered deserves to be acknowledged for that. Being picked out from the crowd is recognition, not only for that accomplishment but for one's talent, and the only way to properly receive it is to own up to it.

A friend of mine once said to a group of people from two different countries trying to work together: "Language is a barrier only to the unimaginative". Viktor, unfortunately you have disqualified yourself over your own perceived inadequacies. I truly hope you find what you are looking for, and further wish you that you come to appreciate your own talent.

M

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

M, well said. I hope he does too.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka ViktorS

Thanks for the encouraging words.
After my initial announcement I never considered continuing. Retreating from the contest is "weak", but being an inconsistent whiner is even worse.

Vic Wertz wrote:

We've already notified the alternate (ironically, messageboard posts show that he didn't like your item, and you didn't like his), and we'll make the other appropriate changes on Monday.

That's ironic indeed. Are the alternate replacements chosen in alphabetic order?

I cannot believe that catdragon's Gloves of Duplicating-a-class-feature-like-the-Gloves-of-Arrow-Snaring-duplicate-the- Snatch-Arrows-feat got a higher ranking than Russ Taylor's cool Gloves of Force Shaping. :(


Viktor,

given that it was the core idea behind your item I liked, I'm sad not to see your country write-up. I think pure flavor is where you ought to be focusing.

Sorry to see you g0o.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka Darkjoy

Viktor,

I didn't like your item, but you shot yourself in the foot here!

I would have loved to be one of the top 32, but my item didn't have that 'spark' the judges sought, your item did. You should't have thrown that away.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

ViktorS wrote:
Are the alternate replacements chosen in alphabetic order?

The judges provided a numbered list. I don't know how they decided the order, but I sure am glad I didn't have to participate in that discussion. I can't imagine that it's easy for any three people to agree on the exact ranking of six items like these.


As Erik said, "weak." There are many of us who would have loved to be on the final 32. Leave the judging to the judges; this self-impaling on a longsword is so drama. Good luck to the alternates...do us proud.

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