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RPG Superstar 2015

Bad Item Stereotypes


RPG Superstar™ 2008 General Discussion

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

I started this thread in our Judges Message Boards. It grew over time. It may give some insight to our rejections. We saw so many of these over and over again.

Here are mine:

The Poorly-Named Item

The Item of the Overdone Backstory

(strangely, the first two are often combined in the classic: Poorly Named Item of the Overdone Backstory)

The Thinly Veiled "Modern Item As Magic Item" Item (a huge pet peeve of mine. Heck, we had an item called "iBard". The idea was neat, but there is just no way that name is going to work. We had a PDA, etc.)

The Swiss Army Knife Item

Augury Items (we probably had more bad augury items than any other item, and many were bad augury items that involved coins)

The Travel Item (for whatever reason, we got lots of items that tried to make wilderness travel and camping no longer an issue for heros; to us that is part of the game and shouldnt be "fixed" by a magic item)

The Item That Solves A Problem That Heroes Don't Have

Teh Item o Typoes

The Item of Missing Infomation (normally pricing and creation info)

The Uber-Munchkin Item (you know, the kind that makes the helm of brilliance look like a +1 dagger)

The "+6 Sword" (the item that is simply "one louder" than an item that already exists)

The Item That Isn't A Wondrous Item (most common were weapons, shields, rings and potions)

The Home Campaign Item (they probably made sense to the DM who created them for their home campaign, but that is about it)

The Suck Up Item (items that seemed clearly designed to sway the judges based on anticipated preferences)

The Silly Cliche Item

The "Ripped Off From My Favorite Book, Movie or Anime Videogame" Item

Wolfgang added:

The Plot Hook Disguised as an Item

The Boot Item

The Polymorph Item

The Yet Another Coin Augury Item (see my comments above)

The Food Item

The Item That Doesn't Deliver on an Awesome Name (the spoon of the witch queen comes to mind. Dude, if you are making an item that is "of the witch queen" it better freaking RAWK. That one didnt)

The Lamp Item

The Goblin Item

The Yet More Crafting Items

The Deeply Disturbing Evil Item That No Hero Wants, and That Makes Even Villains Hesitate

The Pricing is Hard So I'm Not Pricing It Item


My item seems to have suffered from #1 and #8. (seriously? Doreen? What a dumb name). This is probably a good alternative to showing us how much profanity you guys use in private discourse.


Well, I guess I can take solace in the fact that my item didn't fail in a common way... :/

Thanks Clark, I'm sure that will help a number of us who didn't make it this time. Any other thoughts would, of course, be appreciated.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

The item with a tie to the shadow plane.

The cloak that billows on its own accord (I'll bet half of all submitted cloaks did this)

The lantern


The item that rewrites game mechanics?

Dark Archive

Damn, my PDA didn't make it. Apparently the fantasy world isn't yet ready for such a revolutionary item! Time will tell though :p

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

PG, sorry about the PDA. In fact, I recall that item. I think one of my posts was that it was a great item, if only you had disguised it more as a magic item and not so clearly as an item that was a modern item. In fact, I think it even had PDA or WDA or somethign in the name. That hurt you right from the get go.

Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2015

Where their many psionic items? I made one before it was made clear that universal items are not the psionic equivalent of wondrous items.

So much for my medallion of devolution.


I do believe my item fell in the Polymorph item type, as well as the home campaign item category most likely. Just hope it didn't fall into the Way to many words pile.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

No, there were very few psionic items.


My item doesn't seem to fit into any of those categories...guess I'll just have to come up with a catchier name next time.

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

Goblin Gruel, that falls in the food and goblin category.

Dark Archive

Clark Peterson wrote:
PG, sorry about the PDA. In fact, I recall that item. I think one of my posts was that it was a great item, if only you had disguised it more as a magic item and not so clearly as an item that was a modern item. In fact, I think it even had PDA or WDA or somethign in the name. That hurt you right from the get go.

Yes I've learned from this experience for next time. I can not promise that I will not try and change a modern item to a rpg item but I'll hide it better. I should have called it, 'Archmage's Book' or something like that and removed the stylus and have it work with ink and pen.

I created it because wizards in my opinion are book users and they should not be hold to suffer for using one. In fact it should be used as often as possible :) (The pricing to copy spells is just too idiotic).

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

Yeah I just reviewed our comments on the "Personal Wizards Assistant" that you even called the PWA in your submission.

I respect you coming in here and talking about this and taking your medicine.

Know this: I am only criticizing the ITEM SUBMITTED, I am NOT criticizing you as a PERSON. I'm sure you have hundreds of great ideas. And it takes something special to even step up and make a submission. Lots of people didnt. I respect that. Keep working. Dont be discouraged.

You took a chance--a modern item done as a magic item might just have been the thing that stood out for the three judges and made them say "hey, here is something." It just so happens that these particular three judges didnt do that. But I respect that you took that chance.

Clark


Clark Peterson wrote:

And it takes something special to even step up and make a submission. Lots of people didnt. I respect that. Keep working. Dont be discouraged.

I'd love to but I am a little swamped writing a teacher's manual for a company in China.


Clark Peterson wrote:
The Deeply Disturbing Evil Item That No Hero Wants, and That Makes Even Villains Hesitate

Guilty as charged


Yep... one of the problems I thought mine had. "Yet another Crafting item"


I admit falling into that "plot hook" stereotype, for creating a cursed item you can do an adventure around but not use that much otherwise...

Dedicated Voter 2013

Interesting reads on the various posts regarding the various reasons for rejection. Mine I expect, especially as a fairly early submission, died due to a combination of "bland/boring" and "lack of a great name/flavor text". It was short (~80 words), in SRD format, grammar and spell-checked ... and admittedly without flavor text or real uniqueness. It does make me grin a bit that at least it didn't die due to the above listed reasons by Clark nor due to contest rules violations.

Ah well - there is always another contest! Again, congrats to the winners and alternates - let us see what feverish work in the next few days produces. ^_^

Dark Archive Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

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

Well, mine was a boot, Boots of Stinking Retreat, but I still think it was a cool one.
When I was in the army, I remember smoke generators covering the training area in Germany.
I thought a thief would want a way to pop smoke in an easy way, the stink was just an extra. Much easier than a wand or some kind of smoke bomb that he has to throw.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Quote:
The Suck Up Item (items that seemed clearly designed to sway the judges based on anticipated preferences)

If Pathfinder items were seen as suck up items. Why were they allowed to be referenced in addition to the SRD? I didn't have to add the tie in to Pathfinder to my item, but decided that since it was allowable, the judges would look at it objectively. Not to say that my item would have made the top 32 had I decided to not include the tie in, but when I audition for a play or musical I either act out a scene from that play or sing a song from that musical. Not to brown nose the judges, but to show that I can perform in the parameters set. It seems to be a double standard to allow material into the contest, only to penalize that material on account that it seems to be 'sucking up to the judges'. Looking at the top 32 I noticed that none of the finalist referenced anything Paizo related. Out of curiosity was there a lot of these submissions, or was I one of the few? Thanks for taking the time to answer and even though this is a gripe I still love the idea of this contest and everything it represents. Good job to all involved with making it happen.


I don't believe that they were saying a Pathfinder themed item was a 'Suck Up Item' per se. Personally I would class a 'Altar of Judge Worshipping' or 'The Toe of Mona' as Suck up items.


Hm. I don't think my healing bedroll fit any of those bad categories.
I'm guessing it just wasn't imaginative enough. I took the wrong tack.
I decided that a squeaky clean submission (rewriting several times, revising, editing, and having others read it to be absolutely sure it was well-written and that there were no spelling or grammar errors) would give me a good shot, even if it wasn't massively creative.

Liberty's Edge

Huh. The only one my item seems to suffer from is a rather mild case of Clark's list #4. Though, I do suppose that with the number of entries, that would be grounds enough for rejection. Probably the only grounds my item had in the first place was the fact that it looked cool.


I guess my item could have fallen in the "Travel Item" category...

Wheels of the Vagabond

...but that was not the spirit of the item. It was meant to be an item that evoked creative uses by the players while not being horribly powerful.

Regardless this was a fun excercise and I am looking forward to participating in more contests and even open calls in the future.

Goo

Sovereign Court

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

It's too bad that all the coin items got such a bad rap... If you ask 850+ people a question and an inordinate number come back with a similar response you might have to wonder why.

...yes, I had a coin item, but it didn't have anything to do with augury. I assume it fell into the "Silly Cliche Item" since it was lucky.


This is actually very insightful to get the feedback on. Thanks! (Mine clearly suffered from The Item That Solves A Problem That Heroes Don't Have and some of The Polymorph Item.) It strikes me that the essence of what was sought or allowed as a wondrous item was a) something cool that really isn't done and b) useful in combat. Good to know.


So, I'm guessing my "Dungeon in a Box" got dinged on the name?


jocundthejolly wrote:

Hm. I don't think my healing bedroll fit any of those bad categories.

I'm guessing it just wasn't imaginative enough. I took the wrong tack.
I decided that a squeaky clean submission (rewriting several times, revising, editing, and having others read it to be absolutely sure it was well-written and that there were no spelling or grammar errors) would give me a good shot, even if it wasn't massively creative.

Ha! I went the bedroll route too jocund! I'm guessing that like you, it was just too far down on the "WOW! That is the craziest thing and/or weirdest and/or most unique/powerful thing I've ever seen" scale than many of the 32.

Plus, mine helped adventurers sleep 8 hours in relatively safety (and we all know how much of a pain in the butt it can be to get 8 full hours of rest in some campaigns) in the wilderness so it fell into the bad travel stereotype.

I thought I was being pretty inventive with choosing the virtually unknown magic bedroll (an item most adventurers have but don't give much thought to right?)but now I wonder how many bedrolls there were out of the 858? 2? 5? 25?

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2015 aka OgeXam

Alright! My submission did not fall in one of the auto boot categories.

Then bummer, that means mine was not that good. The Headdress of the Shaman. <sigh>
Congrats to everybody who made it, and thanks to all the contestants. This contest has made me think about magic items more and I am sure my players appreciate it.

I should have stuck with Cheese Grinder Themed things.


Magic bedroll high five, Dark.
Another problem I might have had was that I included a cursed variant, also. That might have queered the deal. 1% of my healing bedrolls were actually cursed with Nightmare, so Detect Magic says they're the healin' kind---but spending the night turns out to be a fit-throwing hell ride.
Maybe I shouldn't have required a different spell for the cursed ones, but
rather made it so that they just don't come out right and the effect is like Nightmare.

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

Dark wrote:

Ha! I went the bedroll route too jocund! I'm guessing that like you, it was just too far down on the "WOW! That is the craziest thing and/or weirdest and/or most unique/powerful thing I've ever seen" scale than many of the 32.

I thought I was being pretty inventive with choosing the virtually unknown magic bedroll (an item most adventurers have but don't give much thought to right?)but now I wonder how many bedrolls there were out of the 858? 2? 5? 25?

Well, it might still be that the Prescience Pillow didn't wow anyone, though it out-tested my other ideas locally. But I like to think now it was lost in a sea of divination items and/or bedrolls.

Next time, I'll skip subtle and try to really tee off. : }

Sovereign Court

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

Alright! My submission did not fall in one of the auto boot categories.

Then bummer, that means mine was not that good. The Headdress of the Shaman. <sigh>
Congrats to everybody who made it, and thanks to all the contestants. This contest has made me think about magic items more and I am sure my players appreciate it.

I should have stuck with Cheese Grinder Themed things.

Yummmm...cheese.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka Locke1520

I had a polymorph item...oh well. . .There is always next time.


After reading the magic item compendium I think mine fell into the Item That Was Too Close To Existing Items heading. OK, so I didn't see that heading but it should be up there.

Mine was the Amulet of Lightning Strikes, it let people add electrical damage to their improved unarmed strikes or slams a certain number of times per day, as well as allowing them to channel the electricty to haste themselves once a day. I was thinking about have the haste damage the wielder a little...

I did this 'cause unarmed guys miss out on the shocking and other traits that weapon wielders have access to, that and I pictured someone like Raiden from Mortal Combat beating on people with electricity arcing all over the place.

And hey, bedroll guys, I think there's a healing bedroll in the Magic Item compendium (and that may not be the exact name of the book).


jocundthejolly wrote:

Magic bedroll high five, Dark.

Another problem I might have had was that I included a cursed variant, also. That might have queered the deal. 1% of my healing bedrolls were actually cursed with Nightmare, so Detect Magic says they're the healin' kind---but spending the night turns out to be a fit-throwing hell ride.
Maybe I shouldn't have required a different spell for the cursed ones, but
rather made it so that they just don't come out right and the effect is like Nightmare.

High 5 returned with great enthusiasm! LOL.

I know that the Travel Items were bad stereotypes to the judges but I KNOW my characters would love to have an easily carried item that helped them (esp. the spellcasters) get a good night's sleep.

Like some others have said, though -- if I take part next time, I'll really try to go crazy unique (and probably powerful) with my item. Now that I know mechanics, writing, usefulness (practicality), and format take a back seat to "Whoa that is some unique and crazy stuff!" I'll go all out and see if that gets me any closer. It is all about writing for your audience after all. I misjudged what was wanted from the judges (their priorities) and though still proud of what I entered, realize now that I should have dug around in my magical "box of strange" for my entry.


Cainus wrote:

After reading the magic item compendium I think mine fell into the Item That Was Too Close To Existing Items heading. OK, so I didn't see that heading but it should be up there.

Mine was the Amulet of Lightning Strikes, it let people add electrical damage to their improved unarmed strikes or slams a certain number of times per day, as well as allowing them to channel the electricty to haste themselves once a day. I was thinking about have the haste damage the wielder a little...

I did this 'cause unarmed guys miss out on the shocking and other traits that weapon wielders have access to, that and I pictured someone like Raiden from Mortal Combat beating on people with electricity arcing all over the place.

And hey, bedroll guys, I think there's a healing bedroll in the Magic Item compendium (and that may not be the exact name of the book).

Mine wasn't a healing bedroll (but thanks for the reference) -- mine gave the user a one time a day/8 hour tree shape (tree or bush of his or her choice) so they could sleep in safety.

Sovereign Court Contributor

I find it interesting that the suck up items were bad, but on other threads it was stated that part of the contest was getting into the judges mindset and giving them what they wanted. I'm curious how fine that line was.

Don't get me wrong. I can see the extreme and understand that it could be a problem. I just wonder where in the murky area between the poles, good turns into bad.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013 aka Eyebite

Clark Peterson wrote:


The Thinly Veiled "Modern Item As Magic Item" Item (a huge pet peeve of mine. Heck, we had an item called "iBard". The idea was neat, but there is just no way that name is going to work. We had a PDA, etc.)

. . .

The Plot Hook Disguised as an Item

Hmm...I think my Sorrow Box may have run afoul of these two categories. It was a music box that played a sad song and the sounds of a disturbing, recorded event along with the song (a mother drowning her infant, an innocent man being hung from the gallows, etc.), to create a cumulative crushing despair effect. Music boxes have been around for some time, but it's anachronistic to D&D. I thought it had RP potential, but I can see how it could be viewed as a plot hook disguised as an item. (Might also suffer from a "spell in a can syndrome" as well.)

Quite illuminating. Thank you Clark.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Eyebite wrote:
Music boxes have been around for some time, but it's anachronistic to D&D.

For what it's worth, in the mid-1400's, the Holy Roman Emperor gave his grand-daughter a music box (it plays two short dance tunes). It was still playable at the turn of the 20th Century, but I haven't been able to track it down since.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Rambling Scribe wrote:

I find it interesting that the suck up items were bad, but on other threads it was stated that part of the contest was getting into the judges mindset and giving them what they wanted. I'm curious how fine that line was.

Don't get me wrong. I can see the extreme and understand that it could be a problem. I just wonder where in the murky area between the poles, good turns into bad.

Curious myself.

Scarab Sages

I'm going to guess that my "Eyes of the Sun" fell into the Lamp Item, Silly Cliche Name, or possibly the Item That Doesn't Live Up to the Name (or whatever) category. I'm sure the design was sound, it was probably just kind of *meh*. ;)

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

The ways you guys have listed the "Bad Sterotype" items by just name does make me wonder how much the poponderous of a general type of item played in the evaluation of the individual entry.

For example: are 15 pair of boots bad, or are they bad because they're 15 of them?

Liberty's Edge

So my Skullcap of Monaesque Intellect stood nary a chance.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Eyebite wrote:
Hmm...I think my Sorrow Box may have run afoul of these two categories.

I loved your music box but I might consider taking out some of your more descriptive text - leave it up to the DM to set group-specific flavor.

If you check out the Country rules you'll see quite a bit of emphasis under the Alignment section that your item violates. It wasn't explicitly stated for round one, but I bet it still applies.

Contributor

Clark Peterson wrote:

I started this thread in our Judges Message Boards. It grew over time. It may give some insight to our rejections. We saw so many of these over and over again.

Here are mine:

...

The Thinly Veiled "Modern Item As Magic Item" Item (a huge pet peeve of mine. Heck, we had an item called "iBard". The idea was neat, but there is just no way that name is going to work. We had a PDA, etc.)

I'm gonna go ahead and guess my stone of echoes fell into this category...

I wish all the comments would be released. I understand why they aren't being released, of course; that doesn't change my desire, though. :)

Paizo Employee CEO

Rambling Scribe wrote:

I find it interesting that the suck up items were bad, but on other threads it was stated that part of the contest was getting into the judges mindset and giving them what they wanted. I'm curious how fine that line was.

Don't get me wrong. I can see the extreme and understand that it could be a problem. I just wonder where in the murky area between the poles, good turns into bad.

From reading the private comments that the judges had when reviewing the wondrous items, I can't remember a single time that a magic item would have been rejected because it used Golarion as its setting. There was always some other flaw that got it rejected. I did notice that items that used Paizo IP tended to focus more on the Paizo IP and less on the actual wondrous item, which made the actual item seem like an after thought. This could have had an effect.

Basically, this round was less about fluff and more about crunch, and I think that the folks who tried to use Paizo IP got it the other way around. Flavor was good to a point, unless it overwhelmed the real reason for the submission.

At least that is what I got from reading the submissions (and no, I didn't read all 800 and something). :)

-Lisa

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013 aka Eyebite

DitheringFool wrote:
Eyebite wrote:
Hmm...I think my Sorrow Box may have run afoul of these two categories.

I loved your music box but I might consider changing some of your more descriptive text to something like "a sad song and the sounds of a tragic and disturbing recorded event along with the song with the song..." - leave it up to the DM to set group-specific flavor text.

If you check out the Country rules you'll see quite a bit of emphasis under the Alignment section that your item violates. It wasn't explicitly stated for round one, but I bet it still applies.

Good points DF.

I drafted and re-drafted my item several times, worrying about that same point as to how much detail to give regarding the disturbing sounds. I figured, in the end, if I didn't give SOME examples, the judges might say "disturbing, like what?" So I added two examples, and an "etc." for the DM to go nuts with.

I intended for the item to alignment neutral as well, but can see how that could be misconstrued.

Enlightening all around.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka Clandestine

Gah.
I gave my item a pretty cool name, at least I think I did.

"The Daredevil Lantern".

It turns out it's flaws might me:
1) It's a lantern;
2) It doesn't live up to it's name;
3) It's a utility item, with several detect spells avalible.
:(


Heathansson wrote:
So my Skullcap of Monaesque Intellect stood nary a chance.

Item That Doesn't Deliver on an Awesome Name?

;-)

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