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Cacophonous Monkey


Round 1 - Open Call: Create a Wondrous Item

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

Cacophonous Monkey
Aura moderate transmutation; CL 16th
Slot -; Price 18,800 gp; Weight 1 lb.

Description
A cacophonous monkey is a fur-covered, grinning, clockwork monkey with brass cymbals stitched to its hands and a key welded in its back. When wound, (a full round action), it animates and jerkily attempts to climb and perch upon the winder's shoulder.

It clings tenaciously and cannot be accidentally dislodged, and will resist removal, requiring a DC 13 strength check to be pried off. If left unmolested, it will do little aside from occasionally chittering, peering around, and pawing the winder's cheek. It remains animated in this fashion for a full day before winding down.

It will only change this behavior if the winder begins a bardic performance using Perform (keyboard, percussion, wind, string, or sing.) After the bard plays for a round, the monkey accompanies on the cymbals. The bard may then cease his performance and the effect will be sustained by the monkey's playing. Rounds in which the monkey maintains the effect are not deducted from the bard's daily rounds of bardic performance, and while the monkey plays the bard may take any other actions he desires, including starting a second performance. The monkey's performance is treated in all other respects as originating from the bard.

The winder can command it to cease playing at any time, and it can play for up to ten rounds per day, though these need not be consecutive. Once the monkey has played for ten rounds it winds down, becomes inanimate, and may not be rewound until the next day. Stories tell of similar devices that function for other performance types, such as a sinuous serpent that aids dancers.

Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, animate objects, sculpt sound; Cost 9,400 gp

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

Gonzo FX for a neat bard item.

I like it :)

Though I have a funny feeling the sugar rush will wear off and I'll flip on this. But for right now, gimme the monkey!

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

I'm surprised to say that I kind of like this too. 10 rounds might be a bit long, but it's not insane.

I'm kind of holding my vote foe Sean to step in an be the voice of reason here.

Contributor

Extra Performance feat is +6 rounds and in theory is 5,000 gp, double it for a slotless item to get 10,000; 10 rounds would be pretty close to 18,000 gp. This is actually pretty spot-on. I'd like it to say that commanding it to stop playing is an action of some kind, but other than that it's solid.

Though the idea of a toy monkey clanging on your shoulder is a bit too silly for our world, don't let this be a precedent for similar silliness....

Keep!

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

Cool, I like this one.

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

I agree. Its good.

Every year we get a "dancing" bard ability item, so to speak--something that keeps up bard abilities while the bard is free to do other stuff, kind of a like a dancing sword for a fighter. But they never really do it for me. This one did. It took something a million people have submitted before and actually did it in a memorable way. Nice work.

I like that it shows the author is thinking (like the Str check info).

But what I like is the writing. Its hard to really convey much about your writing ability in a wondrous item, but this author did it without resorting to backstory and cheese. And without falling into the Gygaxian Abyss like the starseeds (that I love, despite the writing).

I really can't wait to see what this author does in future rounds.

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

Great. We totally just opened the "Crazy Clapping Cymbals Monkey" door on this contest, and you know THAT s@$! does not go back in the box easy or quiet. Hunker down boys and girls.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

O_o

Wow.

Okay. I get the gist of what this item is doing. Mechanically, it makes sense and gives a nice boon to bards who want to do something more than strum their lute each round of a combat encounter. But a mechanical monkey with cymbals perched on your shoulder? I'm honestly having trouble getting past the annoying real-world toy version...and I would almost view this item as more of the dreaded "joke" submission than a serious wondrous item design. I'm also off-put by the name, as presumably the monkey isn't meant to be "cacophonous" unless you'd also layered in a sound burst spell-in-a-can effect for the little clockwork guy. More often, he's meant to play an actual song rather than create a racket with his cymbal clashing and continue the legitimate performance of the bard. Though I could also see an argument that the "cacophony" of the monkey's playing could inflict a penalty on the bard's Perception checks. :-)

That said, the execution is sound. Mechanically, you're all over it. I'm a little surprised a bard can "start a second performance" while the monkey continues playing the first one. Now that would be a cacophony. Dueling banjos comes to mind, but also layering two songs over one another more often clashes than enhances a double-layered performance. I might suggest that a bard can start up a second performance, but that it becomes more difficult for him...or any saves vs. the performance's effect become easier, etc.

Also, the caster level (16th) seems a little high to me for what this item does and how it's priced. Clearly you were going for the necessary bard level to cast animate objects as a 6th level spell. But a cleric can also cast animate objects much earlier at 11th level. Generally, I don't mind mixing the streams on multiple spellcasting classes being involved in an item's creation. It helps align the cost and caster level tighter. Still, I can see the need for denying an 11th level bard the ability to create this item on his own. He'd have to seek out a cleric (of Shelyn?) to aid him, most likely. But the minimum caster level probably ought to be 11th in my mind...with the expectation that the caster also has to have the ability to cast animate objects. Clearly, that means an 11th level bard would still need assistance from a cleric, but a 16th level bard could do it on his own.

Regardless, welcome to the ranks of RPG Superstar. Your writing, presentation, and clear-thinking are spot-on with the work you put into this item. There's not much more to add that the judges haven't already touched on. Best of luck in future rounds, and I would advise you to be careful with the gonzo ideas. Your execution worked well enough to still be an attention-getter, but if you had fudged that part, I don't know that the item would stand well enough on flavor and concept alone.

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

This is a solid, well-designed effect wrapped in a silly, gonzo package. I think the overall theme of a device that self-sustains bard music is probably a must-have for Pathfinder bards. The new bardic music mechanic, measured in rounds, strongly encourages bard players to use their music judiciously. This item gives them a little wiggle-room in that area. It's probably best compared to a pearl of power or ring of wizardry in that regard.

So for me, this item hits all the right mechanical... uh, notes, and it's tightly designed and well written. I think we probably need a bit of information on the monkey's relevant combat statistics just in case an opponent with no sense of humor tries to whack the noisy little bugger off the bard's shoulder with an axe.

Wait... me? No, that's not an axe. I promise.

Welcome to the competition!

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

I thought to myself, "Oh brother, another entry playing on Clark's soft spot for monkeys".

Then I started reading the description. I laughed out loud. I got halfway through it (to the point where it continues the bard's performance for him by banging its symbals) and laughed out loud again. My girlfriend (who is following along on the computer downstairs) asked me what was so funny, so I told her to check out the Cacophonous Monkey. Ten seconds later, she laughed out loud. Shortly thereafter she laughed out loud again.

Fantastic job, Dankesean. I'll go on record as saying that something like this, while totally silly, is NOT too silly for my world- I think there are a lot of examples of magic having a sense of humor in D&D, and this fits right in.

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

See, I know the difference between a gag item and an item that injects appropriate humor into the game. :)

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Congratulations making it to Round One! I've enjoyed your posts prior to this and I'm glad you made it too!

I have to give wild props for sheer cleverness. :D

Thanks for demonstrating a little humor is no bad thing!


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

You know, this is too creepy for me not to like the vibe of... not sure I'd care for it if it were a mechanical nightingale or an animated whistle or just about anything else. But this image of a creepy little monkey mannikin sitting on a guy's shoulder, stroking his cheek lovingly, watching the party with jealous eyes... oh my, it just gives me the creepy squingles.

The flavor-text does everything for me in this thing.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 , Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Demiurge 1138

Any item that invokes the horror of the cymbal-monkey is alright in my book.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

You are too clever by far... I have dispatched my goblin assassins to take care of you and your cymbal monkey too.

What a clever item... this is really, really cool and if I get bumped off in round 2 by entries this clever I will not mind in the least. Congratulations and good luck in the next rounds.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

I think the point where I really took to this was the part where it sticks to your shoulder and refuses to be dislodged. That's fantastic.


I love bardy stuff. I want one for my bard character in Ptolus.

Seriously, I'm going to talk to my GM tomorrow. I have an evil necromantic artifact called The Undead Metal Squirrel that I've been hauling around for a while. My bard is just the kind of character that not only would have a Cacophonous Monkey, but would trade an undead-attracting artifact for one because it's cool.

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

My first thought was "A monkey item? Playing on the monkey fans in the judgery eh?"

My second thought was "Really? A mechanical monkey with cymbals? REALLY?" groan

But then I read it... and I thought it was cool! Silly? Yes. But cool, useful, well-designed, and hits all the right mechanical notes. (pun intended)

I would agree with Neil that I might put in a limiter of some sort for a second performance going on while the monkey is banging away, the effect working at a lower level or giving a save bonus, but I don't think it's a necessity.

I also like that you could mock up very similar items like the sinuous snake or the chirping nightingale or whatever for different forms of performance.

Overall: I dig it.


Personally I would have added ranks in a Craft [xxx] skill to the construction requirements where xxx is something appropriate to automata, but an otherwise solid all round item.
(My other quibble, a bardic requirement, is already pretty much covered given that sculpt sound is almost exclusively a bardic spell.)

Congratulations on making it to the top 32, and I look forward to seeing more of your work if it is as good as this.

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

So.. wow. I work nights, and can check the site from work, but can't really post, so I've had seven hours of just staring and processing. I mean, I thought I was having a decent day. Caught up on my backlog of DVRed shows. Baked a fantastic looking loaf of bread. Every subway I've taken today has been just pulling into the station as I head through the turnstile. It was a generally good moodish day.

And then this, which just blows EVERYTHING else out of the water and makes me redefine what a 'good day' is.

Man, maybe this should have been the day I bought a lotto ticket.

So yeah, I am thrilled and honored to be here. (Especially since I spent weeks and weeks privately and not so privately worrying that I might have been the 'gag item' that so infuriated Clark way back when, especially since I'd submitted earlier on the exact same day he vented on that one... I mean, I constantly reassured myself otherwise, I had faith in his judgment to not get hung up on the light humor involved, but still, paranoia is a pain...) The commentary has been fairly positive so far, and I appreciate that, but in case there's anyone out there who sees this and absolutely HATES it... please, don't hold back out of politeness or anything. I really, really want to see where my weaknesses lie, and I'm willing to brave the harsher waters for it.

Of course, I'm also extremely shallow and more than happy to bask in praise as well.

Seriously, deep thanks to the judges for letting me be part of this, and thanks as well to everyone who's commented so far, and to anyone else who might comment in the days to come. I do intend to come back and answer any questions or give clarifications as needed, but for now there's a monster lurking in my brain and I've got three days of midwifing to do in order to bring it screaming and wailing into the world, chubby little tentacles or pseudopods a-flailing. See you all then!

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Love it! An example of a humorous game element that doesn’t fall too much into gag or groan territory. This one is this year’s Monkey Pants, except rather than being a gag item it was submitted for the comp and top 32 worthy.

Yeah, a bit thrown by the ‘Cacophonous’ part of the name – this description is at odds with the items actual function, and sets up an incorrect expectation. But Monkeys ftw!

Well done Sean, and good luck in future rounds.

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

You went for gonzo and pulled it off, good luck in the next round.

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

I had the same thought as Jason Nelson when I saw it was a cymbal monkey (I was like "Really?") but I have to say, you completely sold me on it. I want to stat up a bard now so I can have a freakish little monkey machine to sit on his shoulder and lovingly paw at his cheek.

Contributor

I like it, and I like that there's also the suggestion for variant forms for other arts.

I'd also probably reskin it as a clockwork nightingale for my own games, but I'd see the artisan who makes these having both in his shop, along with a whole bunch of other variants.


This would be creepy to see in an Ustalav setting. When I read the description, it reminded me of that cymbal clanging toy monkey from Poltergeist.

Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Hydro wrote:
I thought to myself, "Oh brother, another entry playing on Clark's soft spot for monkeys".

Hehehe ... exactly what I thought too. And then I read it.

But it does make me curious how many of the submissions were monkey items.

Hm.

Starts rethinking next year's submission ...

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

In certain groups, this would totally add a bonus to Intimidate. Throw in a creepy little girl and you've almost got the makings of a Nicolas Logue module! I would totally use this in a game. Good job!

Andoran

Neat! The mecha-monkey does give it a bit of the joke item feel, so it might not be accepted in some games/campaigns. A tuning fork or a metronome might be more universally accepted forms for the same item. Either that, or add a blurb about being made by a crazy gnome bard with a monkey obsession.

Osirion

Chee! Chee! Chee!

I like it but have some questions:

1. What does it sound like while maintaining the bard's effect? The same as the bard or just cymbals aided by a magical effect?

2. With cymbals on its hands, how does it "paw at the wearer's cheek"?

3. What triggers the "monkey tail choke" attack?

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules Subscriber

All I could think about, while reading this item, was an old horror movie with an evil spirit filled cymbal monkey doing horrible things to everyone around them.

Who would have thought this was going to be a bardic music extension device.

I cant get the visual of this monkey out of my head, so my thoughts on this item are still messed up, but I had to post something.

It is silly, but it got you in the top 32, so congradulations.

Cant wait to see what you follow this up with.

CC


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Who doesn't love a clockwork monkey?

Clockwork bananas, that's who.

Really fun, this one.

Star Voter 2013

This item needs to be in Freeport.

Funny AND clear mechanics. Sign me up. I'll look for your stuff next round. Congratulations!


Congratulations. If this had been a five votes voting round, you would have bagged one of my votes. :D

Osirion

I'm generally an easy sale for the monkey items, but this one doesn't work for me. I think it's the cymbals.

A hypnotizing mechanical cobra that sways on your shoulder and maintains your bardic fascinate (accompanied by the sinister cobra music from Riki Tiki Tavi) would have had me jumping up and down, but I'm afraid that monkeys with cymbals just creep me the hell out. :)

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

Okay, my monster entry is 95% done (all that's needed is to actually make the choice between the two I narrowed it down to and then do any last minute corrections that strike me on the finalist. So, that can wait till morning.) and I can finally do some posting here. So, getting started:

Sean K. Reynolds:

Spoiler:

Quote:


Extra Performance feat is +6 rounds and in theory is 5,000 gp, double it for a slotless item to get 10,000; 10 rounds would be pretty close to 18,000 gp. This is actually pretty spot-on.

So, just as proof that the most casual comments can make the biggest difference, this was the one judge comment that made me the happiest. Not to belittle the praise of Clark and Wes, but pricing was by far my biggest bete noire in making this thing. I actually don't think I used the feat association to arrive at my price; I came at it by some other roundabout method, and it caused me a lot of hair pulling and sweat. So for the biggest 'numbers' judge to say I got it right made my night on Tuesday.

Quote:


I'd like it to say that commanding it to stop playing is an action of some kind, but other than that it's solid.

Drat, knew I forgot something. Though I probably wouldn't declare it more than a move action at best, if not a free one. Odds are if you want it to stop, combat's over and conservation of actions isn't as important anyhow, but even if you did need to stop it mid combat, I imagine just reaching up and grabbing its hands would be enough, and that's probably less action intensive than, say, drawing a weapon.

F. Wesley Schneider:

Spoiler:

Quote:


Great. We totally just opened the "Crazy Clapping Cymbals Monkey" door on this contest, and you know THAT s**~ does not go back in the box easy or quiet. Hunker down boys and girls.

I... will try to behave? :::sheepish grin:::

Though if my l'il ol monkey did kick start a wave of madness in the contest at large, I'm sorry, I'd actually be highly entertained. ;-)

Neil Spicer:

Spoiler:

Quote:


I'm also off-put by the name, as presumably the monkey isn't meant to be "cacophonous" unless you'd also layered in a sound burst spell-in-a-can effect for the little clockwork guy. More often, he's meant to play an actual song rather than create a racket with his cymbal clashing and continue the legitimate performance of the bard.

Yeah, I'll take that hit. I never found a name that really satisfied me- I kinda settled here. Though, in comparison- at an early stage, i was thinking of having my entry be a whole suite of mechanical animals. this, the snake, a songbird, a parrot, etc. Obviously quashed that due to word count issues, aside from the one line about the snake at the end, but my running name for the whole line of them, which kinda got stuck in my head and never made it out?

Bardie Babies.

Yeah, don't know what I was thinking either. So by comparison, cacophonous monkey? Shakespeare.

Quote:


I'm a little surprised a bard can "start a second performance" while the monkey continues playing the first one. Now that would be a cacophony. Dueling banjos comes to mind, but also layering two songs over one another more often clashes than enhances a double-layered performance. I might suggest that a bard can start up a second performance, but that it becomes more difficult for him...or any saves vs. the performance's effect become easier, etc.

I thought about that, but I didn't want to step too hard on the toes of the twintone flute from last year, which did the same thing with a similar mechanic. I figured that only ten rounds of potentially doubled bardic music a day wasn't so over the top that it needed extra checks against it. As far as the in-character logistics- well, again word count gets in the way here, but my original entry (which was over 600 words, so, yeah...) had a bit about the monkey playing in rhythm with the bard and altering the rhythm to match any new music that started being played. Unfortunatley, that was one of the first things to get cut... I don't think that even made the 500-word edited version.

Quote:
But the minimum caster level probably ought to be 11th in my mind...with the expectation that the caster also has to have the ability to cast animate objects. Clearly, that means an 11th level bard would still need assistance from a cleric, but a 16th level bard could do it on his own.

Jaw. Drop. Aw, MAN, that is such an elegant solution I didn't even see. I really WANTED to work around the level requirement, just because this is something I'd put in a bard's hands around 8th-12th level. I considered dropping animate objects, since it doesn't really relate to the monkey's powers, but it felt like a cop out doing so. Did the math on what the cost would be for a bard to just buy a bunch of animate objects scrolls and use them during crafting, and it didn't work out at all. Working in tandem with a cleric? Never even crossed my mind. Ugh.

Quote:


Regardless, welcome to the ranks of RPG Superstar. Your writing, presentation, and clear-thinking are spot-on with the work you put into this item. There's not much more to add that the judges haven't already touched on. Best of luck in future rounds, and I would advise you to be careful with the gonzo ideas. Your execution worked well enough to still be an attention-getter, but if you had fudged that part, I don't know that the item would stand well enough on flavor and concept alone.

Thanks Neil. I really have to say, in this and all the other item threads, you raise the bar on constructive criticism. Even if you're not a fan of the monkey, I appreciate your input.

Eric Bailey:

Spoiler:

Quote:

I think we probably need a bit of information on the monkey's relevant combat statistics just in case an opponent with no sense of humor tries to whack the noisy little bugger off the bard's shoulder with an axe.

Yeah, that all fell victim to word count too. Though honestly, I felt less bad about knocking out information on its hardness and hit points than I did about deleting the text describing what happens if someone pries it off and tosses it to the ground. It would crawl back towards the owner, with a 10' movement rate, baring it's painted-on teeth and cheeping furiously all the while, until it finally wound down after ten rounds. Lovely, creepy stuff. o room for it. Sigh.

Nicholas Quimby:

Spoiler:

Quote:


I thought to myself, "Oh brother, another entry playing on Clark's soft spot for monkeys".

Not to sound disingenuous, but I actually didn't realize Clark HAD a soft spot for monkeys. Well, aside from the fact that EVERYONE on this board tends to love the maniacal little beasts. I knew he loves the 'monkey pants', but assumed that was always simply because it was an early example of Boomer's brilliant madness. At least I'm glad he didn't perceive this as a suckup.

Clark Peterson:

Spoiler:
Quote:


See, I know the difference between a gag item and an item that injects appropriate humor into the game. :)

A fact I was desperately happy to have confirmed. you have NO IDEA how paranoid I was that mine was the gag item of much wrath.

Jim Groves:

Spoiler:
Quote:


Congratulations making it to Round One! I've enjoyed your posts prior to this and I'm glad you made it too!

I'm very glad to see you make it in as well. Though now I feel bad! I've had like four of this years contestants post in my item thread and I haven't made time to do that for anyone else yet! I want to do that soon. :-)

Drakli:

Spoiler:
Quote:


But this image of a creepy little monkey mannikin sitting on a guy's shoulder, stroking his cheek lovingly, watching the party with jealous eyes... oh my, it just gives me the creepy squingles.

Oh, thank you, that is SO exactly what I was going for. In all the cutting and winnowing I did on this from 600 words down to 200 (originally made with last years rules in mind before this year's were posted. I was very happy that I got to add fluff back IN!), the one fluffy line I absolutely refused to touch was the one about the cheek patting. So glad it had the desired impact.

Demiurge:

Spoiler:
Quote:


Any item that invokes the horror of the cymbal-monkey is alright in my book.

Stephen King is a hard act to follow. Fortunately, mine is a lot less malicious.

Dennis Baker:

Spoiler:
Quote:


You are too clever by far... I have dispatched my goblin assassins to take care of you and your cymbal monkey too.

Ah, but you should never have armed them with Hydro's skull bomb. Did you know roast goblin smells just like chciken? Really foul chicken that's been cooked in excrement, but still. Chickeny.

Thank you for the compliment. I have much good stuff to say abotu Pharasma's Blessing as well when I get a chance.

That Old Guy:

Spoiler:
Quote:


I have an evil necromantic artifact called The Undead Metal Squirrel that I've been hauling around for a while. My bard is just the kind of character that not only would have a Cacophonous Monkey, but would trade an undead-attracting artifact for one because it's cool.

Trade? Trade? KEEP THEM BOTH AND RULE THE WORLD WITH MONKEYS AND SQUIRRELS! Ah. Ahem. Pardon me, I just noticed the scale I keep on my desk tilted massively from 'creepy' to 'silly'. Gotta watch that... But thanks. If you seriously do talk your DM into using this, let me know, I'd love to hear how it goes.

James Nelson:

Spoiler:
Quote:


My first thought was "A monkey item? Playing on the monkey fans in the judgery eh?"

:::wince::: I swear, not my intent.

Quote:


My second thought was "Really? A mechanical monkey with cymbals? REALLY?" groan

Yeah, I was braced for a gut reaction of that nature and hoped there'd be enough cool value to get past that.

Quote:


But then I read it... and I thought it was cool!

And it did with you, at least, so... awesome! Thank you.

Charles Evans:

Spoiler:
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Personally I would have added ranks in a Craft [xxx] skill to the construction requirements where xxx is something appropriate to automata, but an otherwise solid all round item.

I'd contemplated that, just to take advantage of the pathfinder creation rules where you can make things more fun and complex like that, but in the end, didn't know that it seemed too consistent with what's already there. I don't personally assume that someone who makes a magic item actually crafted it; making a cloak of resistance doesn't assume ranks in craft [weaving], for example. But it's certainly arguable that this, being a more complex, rare item isn't one you could just buy anywhere to take home and enchant, so it might be reasonable to add actual crafting requirements into construction. Though I suppose Alkenstar might produce items like this for trade...

Quote:


Congratulations. If this had been a five votes voting round, you would have bagged one of my votes. :D

And if I recall properly, that's a hard vote to win, so thank you. I hope I can keep impressing you.

Mothman:

Spoiler:
Quote:


Yeah, a bit thrown by the ‘Cacophonous’ part of the name – this description is at odds with the items actual function, and sets up an incorrect expectation. But Monkeys ftw!

Well done Sean, and good luck in future rounds.

Thank you very much. Yeah, as I mentioned before to Neil, the name was the one aspect I was the least happy with. At one point I just called it a 'clockwork monkey', but... too generic. Plus I was afraid the droogs would come and beat me up.

Andrew Black:

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Quote:


You went for gonzo and pulled it off, good luck in the next round.

I don't know that I went for gonzo so much as gonzo came to me, grabbed me by the throat and said MAKEMEMAKEMEMAKEME, but yeah. I'll admit I was leery of getting pegged as a 'weird for weird sake' entry, but I was just too excited by the idea to let it stop me. Thank you, though.

Benjamin Bruck:

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Quote:


I want to stat up a bard now so I can have a freakish little monkey machine to sit on his shoulder and lovingly paw at his cheek.

Good. The world needs more bards, monkey accessories or no. :-D

Thank you for your compliment.

Kevin Andrew Murphy

Spoiler:
Quote:


I'd also probably reskin it as a clockwork nightingale for my own games, but I'd see the artisan who makes these having both in his shop, along with a whole bunch of other variants.

The original incarnation of this that popped into my head before I realized it could be a whole suite of items for each performance type was exactly that. It would perch on the bard's shoulder and then, when 'activated' fly around his head like the world's biggest ioun stone while singing. And then I imagined what Clark might say upon looking at this. The words 'Snow White' came to mind. :-) A bard I used to play would have loved to have a clockwork crow or raven, personally. But I'm a bit pressed to figure out what performance type a crow would enhance. And thank you!

Urizen:

Spoiler:
Quote:


When I read the description, it reminded me of that cymbal clanging toy monkey from Poltergeist.

Yup, very much what I was going for. (Though admittedly with a little bit of comedy mixed in the package.) That and Stephen King are pretty much the iconic images for me for the 'creepy' qualities of these dolls.

gbonehead:

Spoiler:
Quote:


But it does make me curious how many of the submissions were monkey items.

Hm.

Starts rethinking next year's submission ...

I know you're joking, but it would amuse me deeply if the judges got hit with a deluge of monkeys next year. (Because, to quote Barenaked Ladies, haven't you always wanted a monkey?) Though I suspect the judges themselves would be less amused...

James Martin:

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Throw in a creepy little girl and you've almost got the makings of a Nicolas Logue module!

No higher praise can be given! Though I shudder to think what Logue would do with these. The monkey would be burrowing in through someone's ear to pull out their brains or something...

Thank you for the compliment!

Xuttah:

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Either that, or add a blurb about being made by a crazy gnome bard with a monkey obsession.

If I were to add backstory to this, it would probably have been made by a deranged student expelled from the Clockwork Cathedral in Absalom. One of my favorite elements of the setting.

Patrick Walsh:

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I like it but have some questions:

1. What does it sound like while maintaining the bard's effect? The same as the bard or just cymbals aided by a magical effect?

Again cut for word space, but it would be the sound of cymbals, albeit slightly more musical than you'd expect from one of these things. I was picturing a high, tinny chime, kinda like the little finger cymbals belly dancers use.

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2. With cymbals on its hands, how does it "paw at the wearer's cheek"?

Argh. I KNEW someone was gonna spot that logic gap and yet went full steam ahead anyway in hopes that it would slip through the cracks. Good eyes, sir. Um... it either has really long fingers or else it lightly bats the bard's cheek with the cymbals, kind of a 'pay attention, you!' movement? And that's nothing. Let's not even consider how it climbs up a person's torso with its hands covered... yeah, sometimes logic just needs to shut up and stay in its room.

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3. What triggers the "monkey tail choke" attack?

Oh, don't you worry yourself about that. Worry about the dreaded 'clockwork poop throwing' attack.

CuttinCurt:

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All I could think about, while reading this item, was an old horror movie with an evil spirit filled cymbal monkey doing horrible things to everyone around them.

I don't know if I know that one. But probably one of those things floating around in the collective unconscious making people tend to dread these toys...

The Jade:

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Who doesn't love a clockwork monkey?

Clockwork bananas, that's who.

Really fun, this one.

Hee! That got a laugh out of me. Thank you for the compliment.

roguerouge:

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Funny AND clear mechanics. Sign me up. I'll look for your stuff next round. Congratulations!

Thank you! And yeah, I knew that a fun idea was nothing without the mechanics to back it up, so every person I sent this too for feedback was instructed 'tell me if there's ANYTHING you don't understand about how it works, even the most idiotic niggling detail!' And even with all that, I still managed to let a thing or two slip through, but they were minor enough that I'm not mortified.

Set:

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I'm generally an easy sale for the monkey items, but this one doesn't work for me. I think it's the cymbals.

A hypnotizing mechanical cobra that sways on your shoulder and maintains your bardic fascinate (accompanied by the sinister cobra music from Riki Tiki Tavi) would have had me jumping up and down, but I'm afraid that monkeys with cymbals just creep me the hell out. :)

Fair enough. Trust me, I'm happy to have creeped you out just a bit evne if I didn't win you over. At least it inspires some reaction. Once I was decided on what I was doing, it was down to the monkey or the snake for the actual submission, actually. (Which was why I mentioned the snake at the end. just couldn't let it go.) I imagined it weaving and slitering around a dancer's wrist or ankles with scintilating colors playing off its scales as it went. But, what can I say? The monkey got in my face and snarled. Kinda like the one on Family Guy. I had to obey.

Thanks again to everyone!

Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

other then the pawing of the cheek with covered hands, I thought this item was humorous, useful, and well written in just the way to show how a funny item can also be a Superstar.

Great Job and in future rounds Good Luck!

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

Sean McGowan wrote:
Nicolas Quimby wrote:
I thought to myself, "Oh brother, another entry playing on Clark's soft spot for monkeys".
Not to sound disingenuous, but I actually didn't realize Clark HAD a soft spot for monkeys. Well, aside from the fact that EVERYONE on this board tends to love the maniacal little beasts. I knew he loves the 'monkey pants', but assumed that was always simply because it was an early example of Boomer's brilliant madness. At least I'm glad he didn't perceive this as a suckup.

Oh, I hope you didn't take that as a criticism of your item! It was merely a thought which occurred to me before I had even opened the thread; a total throw-away prejudgment that I wouldn't have even mentioned had I not been blown away by how great your item was as soon as I actually read it.

And I for one was totally playing the judges (or trying to) when I chose the skull bomb for my final pick.

Andoran RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8 aka AWizardInDallas

Like this item or not not, it's undeniable that you managed to slipped in an essentially iconic, silly kid's toy and earn some respect. That shows skill, finesse and courage. Congrats on earning a top slot!

Andoran Contributor , Star Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

Monkey FTW! This is another item that the author took a risk with, but it's backed up with great mechanics and a great visual.

Congratulations and good luck in future rounds!

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

I think I have to join the won me over despite being a symbol-bashing mechanical monkey. Just a fun little item with great ideas behind it.

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

Great job making the top 32! As humorous as the monkey is, and as neat an effect as continuing bardic music for the bard, the name/description doesn't jive with the mechanical effect for me. I would have liked this a lot more as a songbird. But, it's the monkey aspect that grabbed attention and got you through to the main event, so, shows what I know! Great job with all of the great details on how it looks and acts, that really breathed life into the write up.

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

So a few last notes before I start pulling out my remaining hairs once round 2 begins and I'm exposed to commentary in real time.

So as mentioned before, the concept for this started as a wind-up bird that would perch on the bard's shoulder and just hop around, tweet occasionally, peck at the bard's ear when it wanted attention, etc. until the bard started singing (originally it was going to be limited to perform: sing) and then it would take off and flutter around the bard's head in a circle, warbling and continuing the performance.

The main reason I dumped that concept was because it was just a bit too Disney for my tastes. At least for me to use as a contest entry; I'd still use it in a home game no problem. But the concept stuck with me even as I tried to develop other items, so I came back to it and saw a whole line of bardic music items, one per performance type. The snake was the next one to pop into my head, but being limited to perform: dance, I thought that maybe it would be too rarefied, since I think that's one of the lesser used perform types. But since I was sticking with my clockwork mini-pet idea, (mainly because I like clockwork stuff almost as much as I like bards...) the iconic image of the cymbal monkey popped into my head and wouldn't leave. (As a side note, it interests me that there isn't an actual NAME for the cymbal monkey. Even their wikipedia entry calls them 'cymbal-banging monkey toys'. Yeah, that's creative.) And the entry grew from there.

Ultimately I decided that as far as this entry went, I wouldn't limit it to just perform: percussion to give it a little more versatility. If I were to ever make a full list of these, I'd limit each one to one performance type. (That begs the question of, 'what kind of animal represents perform style x?', of course. Parrots for oratory?)

originally I was designing this at the start of last year's contest, which I'd missed the entry dates for but was making as a mental exercise. So at the time, it went with pure 3.5 rules. (I hadn't checked out the pathfinder beta stuff yet) Thus the original use was that a bard would burn off one of his daily bardic music uses, but the monkey would continue it automatically for ten rounds. (At that time, it would just go all the way through without the option to stop it if combat ended early.) The main function of that was intended to simply free up a bard's hands during combat, for spellcasting purposes or otherwise, since you otherwise had to blow feats to cast while playing. The tradeoff was, that since you were still using up your daily bardic performances to activate it, the monkey could be wound and used as many times a day as you wanted. I did drop a line in that winding it more than once in a day inflicted a negative level on the user, since I wanted there to be some kind of limitation, plus it tied into the overall 'slightly creepy/sinister' vibe I wanted the monkey to give.

Once the transition to Pathfinder came along, that was a lot less of a benefit, since bards now pretty much automatically can do so without needing to spend a feat. Fighting while playing also becomes easier under Pathfinder, so there was another reason to change it up. I alterted it to be the 'one round of playing gets you ten free rounds' that it is now accordingly. Originally it still could be wound multiple times per day, until it was pointed out to me that someone at mid levels could easily get nearly two hundred rounds of bardic performance benefits in per day, assuming he didn't mind taking the negative levels and not being good for anything else. Yeah, oops. I'm pretty sure this wouldn't have made it through if it had been left like that, so thanks to my pre-entry reviewers.

Cost was a weird issue. I think i went with something like, taking a low level ring of wizardry as the base comparison item, (since that was the closest thing in terms of 'what else does what this item does' I could figure out.), slashing the price in half or more because I figure extra uses of bardic music is less useful than doubling a level of even second level spells, applying all the modifiers I could think of in the table, and then dropping the price by a few thousand or so more because it was still higher in cost than I wanted. Ultimately it came out to 28,000 GP and change. Once it was modified to really, truly only work once a day, I arbitrarily dropped the price by 10K gold just because that felt about right. I was still worried it was too low, but went with my gut. As it turned out, hey, in this case my gut was spot on, purely by accident.

And last, but not least, the name. As mentioned before, these things don't HAVE an official name, so I wasn't able to just apply a cutesy twist to that. I figured it was okay if I stuck with 'monkey' as the root of the name, so just tried to toss random adjectives atr it and see what stuck. 'Harmonious', and 'melodic' were right out; maybe they'd be good for the original bird item, but not as monkey modifiers. 'Rhythmatic' was in there for a whil,but it sounded vaguely like an exercise video. (And yes, I did imagine the monkey with Richard Simmon's voice saying 'Now lift! Lift! Lift! that sword arm!' That would have taken it too far down the road to creepiness, in my mind...)Maybe in the end I should hav just gone with 'Clockwork Monkey', but that seemed more a description of the item than a cool name. 'Cacophonous' didn't seem out of line, given that these things can be pretty noisy in real life, but I wasn't HAPPY with it; it was only just barely good enough. (If only because I figured that the sound of it's cymbals banging was much more pleasant to listen to than it would be if it weren't magically enhanced; the wonders of a sculpt sound spell.) Obviously a number of people felt the same way, so yeah. Probably should have quested for the perfect name a buit longer.

Anyway, that's all. Thanks for posting your thoughts and comments, again, everyone, and I do hope my monster will inspire you all to do the same. Or at least to give you nightmares, scream like little girls and wet your pants.

And, in parting, in the immortal words of Dieter Dusseldorf:
"Touch my monkey! Touch him! Love him!"

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Sean McGowan wrote:
Probably should have quested for the perfect name a bit longer.

Interesting thought process. This bit stood out for me, because "Cacophonous" just seemed at odds with the monkey's purpose. One idea that came to me after commenting on your item was to possibly call it a "Windup Monkey" with the intent being that many music boxes and the like (as well as toys) would be "wound up" in order to make them play. Essentially, that's what your monkey would be doing after its "windup"...both acting in a toy-like, clockwork fashion...as well as playing music that duplicated the bard's performance, similar to a music box.

In fact, because your item further inspired me (which is to say, I quite liked it), I re-envisioned it more as an actual music-box anyway. And I also imagined the possibility of letting it act as a recorder when wound up so it could record a bard's performance and then play it back later when the bard opened it so he wouldn't have to put on the same performance in the middle of battle.

::shrug::

No biggie either way. It's just where your item and its design took me as I mulled it over after posting my original commentary. And I thought I'd share that since you went through your explanation.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

The use of "cacophonous" made me picture the monkey's clanging getting REALLY, supernaturally loud as soon as its effect kicked in. The bard stops pattering his drum (Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum) to pull out a shortbow, and suddenly, CLANGCLANGCLASHKLOSHCLANGCLONGCLANG.


I like the functionality of it more than anything. I also have a fondness for clockworks, great item!

I honestly couldn't see it being anymore annoying than an Ioun Stone hovering in circles just on the edge of your vision. I present the 1st week of Ioun Stone madness for your entertainment - <.< ... >.> ... <.< ... >.> ... <.<

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