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Spell Component Powder (Pixie Dust)


Round 1 - Open Call: Create a Wondrous Item

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013

Spell Component Powder (Pixie Dust)
Aura Strong (No school); CL 17th
Slot None; Price 2000 gp per pinch; Weight 1 lb.
Description
This powder appears to be a fine, scintillating metallic dust and has two uses.
The first use permits a caster to apply any metamagic feats, which the caster knows, to a spell at the time of casting without a corresponding increase in spell slot level or casting time.

Each pinch is the equivalent to a normal metamagic increase of 1 spell level. As many as 10 pinches may be applied to single casting permitting multiple feats or more powerful metamagic feats such as maximize spell. For the heighten spell feat, 2 pinches are required for each spell level that the spell is increased, to a maximum of 10 pinches for an increase of 5 spell levels.

While the powder augments the spell without consuming a higher level slot, the caster must be able to cast spells of that level normally. A first level wizard, for example, cannot make use of the pixie dust in this way regardless of feats known.

The second use permits the powder to be substituted in place of the usual material components of a spell (foci cannot be so replaced). Each pinch can replace up to 1000gp of component value. At no time does the pixie dust create a particular spell component it merely replaces the energies the component provided to the spell’s casting.

Either use is highly visible in lighted areas and imposes a penalty of -4 to stealth checks made by the caster every round the powder is so used.
Pixie dust is typically stored in small silk pouches and generally is found with enough powder for 25 pinches.

Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, Mage's Lucubration; Cost 1000gp per pinch

Contributor

"Spell component powder" is a horribly generic name. Might as well have a magic belt called "ability score improving belt."

This is NOT pixie dust; pixie dust is what pixies create to magic-up their arrows.

But, they at least gave a reasonable effort to pricing it correctly and keeping lowbie casters from boosting themselves beyond their normal spellcasting ability.

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

This is cool.

It does what a wondrous item should do--it breaks the rules in a limited way. It gets around metamagic feat restrictions in a fun and interesting way. My concern was that it sort of gives a key sorcerer class feature to wizards, which is generally a no no, but the game already permits taht with the metamagic rods that do similar things. So I wont be too strict on that. Though that is a concern of mine.

I'll have to think through the abusability of this. I think the cost may be low. But this is a creative and inspired item. This is fun design.

Keep

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

Neat. As I was reading this I was pretty sure it was totally busted, but it turned around on me. I agree that the name is laaaaame, but this person has some neat ideas and will either prove better or shoot himself down in rounds requiring even more flavor.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Okay. I gotta totally agree with judges on the name. Way too generic. Even the pixie dust add-on doesn't feel very magical or fey/pixie connected to me. You could have called this mana dust and it would have worked just as well. One of the pieces of advice I always give people when working on submission ideas or freelance projects is to spend some quality time coming up with a cool name that oozes flavor. This one doesn't. And, instead of grabbing your reader and setting them up for some really great descriptive text and amazing game mechanics, you risk turning them off before they even get started. So, first piece of advice for future rounds is to really work on your naming. Be creative without getting campy. And don't be boring.

Moving on, I actually like what this powder does. Something other than metamagic rods can finally come into play for spellcasters. It's interesting to see that you didn't single this out as only applying to arcane magic. So, presumably, it works for divine casters, too. And requiring a certain number of pinches (and limiting the number of pinches like charges) is a nice touch. I also like the added benefit of the dust standing in for a rare spell component. All good stuff...and the core of a great idea.

Mechanically-speaking, I'm looking beyond the "pinch" method at the actual construction requirements and pricing now. First, I note you're only citing mage's lucubration and that seems very odd to me. The mage's lucubration spell is oriented around the automatic recall of a spell that was previously cast, not the improvement of one via metamagic. Secondly, the spell expressly states that a caster still has to provide the necessary material component for any recalled spell and that seems exactly opposite of what this spell component powder is meant to do. Instead, I think you would have been better served to explore spells that conjure or summon stuff from nothing...like major creation (though typically items created by that spell can't be used as material components), fabricate, instant summons, shadow conjuration, etc...to explain how your item substitutes for a rare spell component. And, to help explain the item's metamagic properties, I'm kind of surprised you didn't include any spell-related metamagic feats in its construction requirements. Wouldn't you expect a crafter to have at least passing knowledge of those things (say, maybe, any two or three metamagic feats)? Lastly, I'm a little curious about the caster level on this item...17th level? Really? Wow. To me, that seems far higher than it needs to be.

Regardless, the seed of your idea behind this item cannot be denied. It's a cool thing to include in the game. And you've got mojo for sure. The important thing is you're going to have to punch that up into a higher gear with more thorough thought behind the mechanical execution of your designs. But, welcome to the ranks RPG Superstar! That's what the contest is all about. Best of luck in future rounds!

Osirion RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4 , Star Voter 2013 aka raidou

The core idea behind this item, a consumable substitute for metamagic rods, is quite a good one and well worth exploring. Several years ago, Unearthed Arcana tried to create a system by which spells could utilize rare and expensive components to attain metamagic effects. But the system presented there was really cumbersome and really limited in its scope. This item, as a universal metamagic component, attempts to do a similar thing more simply.

I applaud that attempt; it's definitely a superstar-quality problem to try to solve. I don't think you hit all the marks you needed to with this powder, though. The construction, school, spell requirement and caster level could have used some more work. I'm not sure you made the right choices in these areas. I think you really wanted this to be a high-level item... the 25-pinch silk pouch (basically 50K worth of the stuff) and the 17th level caster level seem to indicate this.

I also would have liked to see a nod toward the fact that metamagic rods operate in three different tiers of play. there's minor ones for low-level spells, then intermediate and high level ones each costing more, as appropriate, to the power they bring to the table. In the same way that many people argue that the "Divine Metamagic" feat from 3.5 was quite overpowered, I think a one-size-fits-all approach to spending gold for metamagic doesn't quite fit.

That said, I think your vision is great, and your approach here clearly demonstrates talent to compete in this contest. Welcome aboard! I hope you bring some solid innovation and clever solutions to problems in the upcoming challenges.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4 aka K. B. Carter

Congrats on making it to RPG Superstar 2010! I asked myself the same three questions for each of the top 32 items. Here are my responses to your item:

Spell Component Powder
Would this wondrous item unbalance or over-complicate my game if my PCs were to find it and use it?
Hey, cool. I like that it's limited to meta magic that a player caster could normally cast. That’s key. It increases the size of a caster’s tool belt by a big margin, but doesn't really break anything by letting fifth level casters drop quickened greater dispels or anything like that.

Would my PCs be happy with this item if they were to find it during an adventure?
Yes, my PCs will enjoy this item. If anything, they might horde it and not use it for anything, thinking the ability would be good to save for later, but this is a common problem with limited use items.

Do I like the mojo? Does the item spark other ideas for my campaign?
When I first read the title, I thought it was a universal spell component that could be substituted for other spell components, and that ended up being the secondary use of the item instead of the primary one, which was a bit weird. It's like calling a rifle a "bayonet hilt", when it's really a rifle. I think the primary use of the item should have dictated the title instead of the secondary use. Still, the ideas you presented here are solid and a lot of fun. Good job.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4

Wizards using magic powder or sand for their spells has been around in the fantasy genre for a long, long time, but somehow never really took hold in Pathfinder/Dungeons & Dragons (beside that horrible first D&D movie were that doltish teenage girl wizard was throwing that crap all over the place). Metamagic dust is a good away to not only reintroduce magic powder but also get it to stay around. I don’t see it as a higher end magic item as written but more a way to let mid-level wizards hang around in later dungeon combats. Calling something Pixie Dust is never cool by the way. Real pixies don’t even like the term. But you did a real good job finding an item that should have been around for a long time and wasn’t (both the magic powder and the limited uses metamagic item). Anyone can learn how to write with a lot of flavor, but you cannot teach someone to see an empty niche like that and that is very Superstar. In the later rounds I would suggest play test some of your ideas out in a game with your gaming group and see how the numbers flesh out.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013

Thanks for the nod and for all the great feedback.
I wanted to include metamagic feats in the requirements but felt it had to be all or none and had a word limit to focus on.

Some really great feedback on naming and design- thanks again


As a nitpick, 1st level wizards can apply some metamagic feats [e.g. Silent Spell] to spells, if they are 0-level spells (i.e. cantrips).
Interesting idea, however, and congratulations on reaching the top 32.

Dedicated Voter 2014

I like this one. When I started reading, I immediately thought of ways players could abuse this item. As I read on, the item grew on me more and more and dispelled some of the abusive issues I thought up. I also really like that it can replace material components - I've been on adventures when I run out of diamond dust and DMs make it impossible to procure more). In addition, I appreciate the little negative penalty you included at the end. It works for the item without seeming forced.

Great work.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka MythrilDragon

I like that you tackled the metamagic feats, good luck in the next round.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8 aka Benchak the Nightstalker

I have to agree with Matthew Stinson, the game has needed a good "powdered magic" item, and I think your pixie dust fits the bill pretty well. I like the little touch of penalizing stealth checks :D

Taldor RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Love the metamagic dust. The dusty old wizard with the thousand pockets idea always caught me and I could see him having a few doses of this secreted away in a hidden pouch. Good job and I look forward to seeing your monster!

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

The only problem I see with this is it's one of those items that would be all over the place in a hurry. Low-mid level casters would all have a pinch of this so they can avoid the dreaded silence 15' radius. Higher level casters would have the stuff in handy 4 pinch containers for quicken...

Overall having an item that would be used a lot isn't horrible, but perhaps it's a pricing issue. My feeling is the effects that raise spell level by more than one level should be more expensive than the use that raise them just one level.

The final spell component replacement bit is IMO just unneeded and a distraction from the main effect of the item.

A very interesting item and a new take on spell casting enhancing item, nice job. I look forward to seeing your entries in the coming rounds.

Andoran Contributor , Star Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

Despite the generic name, you've really struck new ground with this item. I like it.

Congrats and good luck in the next round.

Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Congratulations Stephen!

I think that multiple pinches could be hard to count out as a free action, so I would probably caveat higher level adjustments take a move action to count out, but otherwise love that it can be adjusted as needed. I do not expect there are many first level spells that need 9 levels of metamagic-fu when someone has a 9th level spell slot available. To that end 10th level spells do not exist, but I have not looked into metamagic feats in PF yet.

If it is not too late a bit of trick for your next entry: come up with 10 one-word names, then 10 five-word names then 10 other names. I do not think it is that big of a problem, but a judging on the number of responses, some may not even be reading this far. On the judging rounds that could be disastrous and I really think you earned being Top 32.

Good Luck and congratulations!

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013

I think if i could add anything to this now (besides a better name) I'd add a mechanic to make it possible, when grabbing more than one pinch under pressure, to grab the wrong amount.
too much and you have wasted a pinch or two; too little and you risk wasting all of them.

I think this might balance off the lack of power scaling with multiple pinches used in a single casting.

my players would count the pinches out into pockets with binary: a 1 pinch pocket, 2 pinches, 4 pinches, 8 pinches. but it does need some drawback mechanic to avoid abuse.

word counts are my biggest challenge in this - but I'm sure enjoying the challenge.

thanks again for all the great feedback.

Cheliax

One question, how many pinches are in 1 lb? :)

It looks like 1 pinch costs 2000gp, and weighs 1lb, I'd hate to carry a lot of this stuff!


Stephen Sheahan wrote:

Spell Component Powder (Pixie Dust)

Aura Strong (No school); CL 17th
Slot None; Price 2000 gp per pinch; Weight 1 lb.
Description
This powder appears to be a fine, scintillating metallic dust and has two uses.
The first use permits a caster to apply any metamagic feats, which the caster knows, to a spell at the time of casting without a corresponding increase in spell slot level or casting time.

Each pinch is the equivalent to a normal metamagic increase of 1 spell level. As many as 10 pinches may be applied to single casting permitting multiple feats or more powerful metamagic feats such as maximize spell. For the heighten spell feat, 2 pinches are required for each spell level that the spell is increased, to a maximum of 10 pinches for an increase of 5 spell levels.

While the powder augments the spell without consuming a higher level slot, the caster must be able to cast spells of that level normally. A first level wizard, for example, cannot make use of the pixie dust in this way regardless of feats known.

The second use permits the powder to be substituted in place of the usual material components of a spell (foci cannot be so replaced). Each pinch can replace up to 1000gp of component value. At no time does the pixie dust create a particular spell component it merely replaces the energies the component provided to the spell’s casting.

Either use is highly visible in lighted areas and imposes a penalty of -4 to stealth checks made by the caster every round the powder is so used.
Pixie dust is typically stored in small silk pouches and generally is found with enough powder for 25 pinches.

Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, Mage's Lucubration; Cost 1000gp per pinch

I think the item is way too general, I'd have liked it much better if you restricted it to illusion and enchantment spells or otherwise gave a more fey-like feel to it.

The component exchange does not add much for me, -4 stealth seems a little too low I'd make the penalty higher and thus more spectacular ^^

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013

Nevynxxx, good eye. I really intended this to be essentially weightless and meant for the pouch and 25 pinches together to weigh one pound.

Remco, I would agree that "pixie dust" should probably lean towards illusion and enchantment to give it a more "fey-like" quality.

my intention was a more general item and i think my real problem, as mentioned by the judges and others, is my naming. I think the suggestions of Metamagic or Mana powder both would have been better names for what I was going for. not calling it that was a real face-palm for me when I first read the comments.

I loved the idea of meta magic components when they were first presented years ago but I think the problem with the original idea is that, to add the flavour and verisimilitude to the world that I think they were going for, it requires a knowledge level of the game world akin to those possessed by real world herbal medicine experts by both the DM and the player wishing to use them and every DM's world has different species of plants, animals and monsters so a generic list in a book doesn't work for everyone's game.
A lot of work for a relatively tiny payoff is more common in the rpgs I've played or DMed than most games people play but it is definitely not everyone's idea of fun.

Also, I think if I had made this an illusion/enchantment only dust I would have not made the cut. Dust of illusion has been around for a very long time and while mine might have had a bit more abilities than the original it likely would have failed to impress the judges sufficiently on the "mojo" side.


maybe you are right about the illusion / enchantment effect, though like you said, the name should have been different.

Limiting it in some ways adds flair to items for me though, the general utility feels a bit 'unmagical' to me if it makes sense ^^

The - 4 penalty was a nice touch, but it was not enough of a penalty to make it worthwhile being mentioned.

I'd have loved the name Pixie Dust as a little background, like what it is jokingly refered to among wizards.

congratz on making it to the next round, looking forward to see what you come up with next.

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

Ehhh, it's okay. It doesn't grab me but it's competently done. Magic powder is more fun than a magic rod, even though nothing about this dust seems very pixie-ish. Well done on putting the limiter of "no metamagicking spells past the highest level you can cast" - you get bonus points there.

Best of luck in the remainder of the contest!

Osirion

This is one of the last items for me to get to, because of the name. I almost didn't read it. After getting past the name, I liked the effects. I would, however, keep a strong rein on availability of this stuff.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16, Contributor

Stephen Sheahan wrote:

Thanks for the nod and for all the great feedback.

I wanted to include metamagic feats in the requirements but felt it had to be all or none and had a word limit to focus on.

Some really great feedback on naming and design- thanks again

You could have just said something like "any two metamagic feats" in the requirements.

This is a neat item but it's also set me off on a tangent. What about a magic spell component pouch that converts cash into components and foci?

As in, you put in 200 gp and then a week later can then pull out a 100 gp onxy and animate a 4 HD zombie; leaving you 100 gp still unspent.

Does that item already exist somewhere?


Hal Maclean wrote:
Stephen Sheahan wrote:

Thanks for the nod and for all the great feedback.

I wanted to include metamagic feats in the requirements but felt it had to be all or none and had a word limit to focus on.

Some really great feedback on naming and design- thanks again

You could have just said something like "any two metamagic feats" in the requirements.

This is a neat item but it's also set me off on a tangent. What about a magic spell component pouch that converts cash into components and foci?

As in, you put in 200 gp and then a week later can then pull out a 100 gp onxy and animate a 4 HD zombie; leaving you 100 gp still unspent.

Does that item already exist somewhere?

I think the Pathfinder Chronicler prestige class has an 'oops, actually I bought exactly what I need now six weeks ago' ability.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013

Hal Maclean wrote:


You could have just said something like "any two metamagic feats" in the requirements.

i know now, from my second round attempt editing, that i could have trimmed dozens of words - but at the time i felt like i had no words to spare and i think my as submitted word count was within one of the limit.

charles and hal i know what you were going for and I've mocked some DMs for universal - multipurpose, every items too.

I wish I had focused more on the flavour than the mechanics on this - though it worked out in my favour this time - but I was very lucky to make it.

I just hope you see what I can do in the next and, hopefully, later rounds and like what you see.


Stephen Sheahan wrote:
Hal Maclean wrote:


You could have just said something like "any two metamagic feats" in the requirements.
...charles and hal i know what you were going for and I've mocked some DMs for universal - multipurpose, every items too...

Don't my post to Hal too personally. We'd threadjacked you and wandered off in a direction that had little to do with your item. Even on Superstar threads the topic occasionally wanders... ;)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16, Contributor

Stephen Sheahan wrote:
Hal Maclean wrote:


You could have just said something like "any two metamagic feats" in the requirements.

i know now, from my second round attempt editing, that i could have trimmed dozens of words - but at the time i felt like i had no words to spare and i think my as submitted word count was within one of the limit.

charles and hal i know what you were going for and I've mocked some DMs for universal - multipurpose, every items too.

I wish I had focused more on the flavour than the mechanics on this - though it worked out in my favour this time - but I was very lucky to make it.

I just hope you see what I can do in the next and, hopefully, later rounds and like what you see.

I wasn't mocking you, though with text it's always hard to tell (and emoticons can only do so much :) ). The idea of the item just got me thinking about something else.

Trust me, I know all about word count issues and the regets that come after you hit send. You always see ways you could have improved something. Even worse, the glaring errors that leap out after it's too late to fix anything.

Example, one of the spells I sent in for the APG this weeek does "heat" damage for some reason, instead of fire damage...

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16, Contributor

Charles Evans 25 wrote:


I think the Pathfinder Chronicler prestige class has an 'oops, actually I bought exactly what I need now six weeks ago' ability.

Maybe that's why the idea seemed familiar. I did a feat called "Pack Rat" a few years back for a Dragon article that was somewhat similar too. Can't remember if it got cut from the article before it saw print though.

Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

Hate the name, love the item.

Congratulations on making the top 32, good luck in future rounds!

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

This is a very handy little item that could easily slide into most of the games I've played in, especially for wizard players. I'm a little concerned it will actually replace using higher level spell slots in day-to-day use, but that's a minor concern, really.

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

Great job making the top 32! Aside from the name, nicely done. At first I thought it was too powerful, but by requiring a pinch per spell level increase the metamagic feat normally requires, you balanced it well. I think it's a bit odd though that heighten spell costs double. If silent spell increases a spell by one level and needs one pinch, why wouldn't heightening a spell by one level also need one pinch?

And while I like quirky little penalties built into items, I don't think a -4 to stealth is really that big of a deal to spellcasters. Instead, I'd make it so that each use of the powder allowed creatures to sight the caster at double normal sighting ranges - or provided the stealth penalty to everyone withing 10 feet of the caster for a minute (since they got dusted with the residual powder and it sparkles).

Also, for requirements, I'd have thought limited wish would be a perfect fit. Finally, for the aura I have a slight nit pick. I may be wrong, but is there an option for no school? Isn't that normally universal?

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013

thanks everyone for the feedback and ideas
- hal and charles - sorry that was me posting after a couple drinks - I guess I wasn't as sober as I thought - hopefully no harm done.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka DankeSean

Definitely useful. Kind of like taking a bunch of rods of metamagic and putting them through a wood chipper. Or maybe a bunch of dried up pixies, thus the name. ;-) I agree with Joel that I don't quite see why heightened spells require more powder than any other form of metamagic, but seems fairly solid aside from that. Good job!

Osirion

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

It's interesting, most everyone seems mighty concerned about this being overpowered, but I'm actually seeing it as rather overpriced.

About the most comparable usage would be Quicken Metamagic Rod for a high level caster. For anyone pre-Epic, the best it could do is quicken a 5th level spell - which a Rod can do 3/day for 75.5K, or about 25K per use, every day. Using the dust it would cost 8k, or 4k if you crafted the dust yourself.

That, plus that you must already have the metamagic feats and it seems well limited.

I really like how it is more scalable than the rods, far less of an investment to have the potential do use this ability.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16, Contributor

Stephen Sheahan wrote:

thanks everyone for the feedback and ideas

- hal and charles - sorry that was me posting after a couple drinks - I guess I wasn't as sober as I thought - hopefully no harm done.

No harm done :) This item got me thinking which is always nice.


Stephen Sheahan wrote:

thanks everyone for the feedback and ideas

- hal and charles - sorry that was me posting after a couple drinks - I guess I wasn't as sober as I thought - hopefully no harm done.

Oh, understood. It's all too easy to misconstrue things on the internet.

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