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RPG Superstar 2015

Lyre of Truth-Telling


Round 1 - Open Call: Create a Wondrous Item

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka A Man In Black

Aura: moderate enchantment; CL: 7th
Slot: -; Price: 5,100 gp; Weight: 5 lbs.

This beautiful lyre appears to be a mundane, if well-crafted, instrument, and is often decorated with the symbol of a god or goddess of song or beauty. However, when held by a character with seven or more ranks in Perform (string instruments), that character understands and is able to employ the item's magical properties.

A character with at least 7 ranks in Perform (string instruments) or the bardic performance ability may strum the lyre of truth-telling to produce a a 20-ft.-radius emanation of magical truth. Any character in this area who attempts to speak a deliberate, knowing falsehood must make a Bluff check opposed by the performer's Perform (string instruments) roll, or that falsehood is immediately obvious to all who can hear it. In addition, any character in this area who is under any compulsion or charm effect and attempts to speak must make a similar Bluff check opposed by the performer's Perform (string instruments) roll, or anyone who can hear that character speak understands that the speaker is under the effects of an enchantment. Affected creatures are aware of this effect and may choose not to speak. The lyre can be used in this way once per day, with the emanation lasting for as long as the performer maintains concentration on the performance, up to 30 minutes.

In addition to its magical properties, a lyre of truth-telling is an exquisitely wrought instrument, and grants its user a +2 circumstance bonus to Perform (string instruments) checks.

Construction requirements: Craft Wondrous Item, zone of truth or glibness, creator must have 7 ranks in the Perform (string instruments) skill; Cost: 2,600 gp

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

This item largely just has the effects zone of truth but I like the flavor of the changes, where anyone can tell that the lair is lying. Same with the detect charm effects. And the fact that they're not automatic is nice too. Overall, interesting and not a game breaking effect. I'm not burning with love for this, but I don't think there's much wrong with it.

Accept.

Contributor

Another "this gives you a new bardic performance ability" item. Not bad.

I don't like the "requires 7 ranks" bit, no other wondrous item does that.

Given that you can use this for up to 30 mins, I'd really rather prefer it use the bardic performance rules more closely, such as "for each round of bardic performance expended, the effect lasts 1 minute."

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

Its probably one of the best truth items I've seen that isnt just a thinly veiled "let me lie and get away with it" item or a "Jack Bauer interrogation item."

I'll hit the button. Keep it.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Hah! You know, I read this item's name and couldn't help but re-imagine "lyre" as "liar"...and then, when associating it with "truth-telling" it makes me laugh. But not in a bad way. It's just a bit of unintentional irony that flashes through my head. Yeah...I'm weird like that.

Anyway, your item flirts with being a spell-in-a-can by primarily duplicating the effects of a zone of truth spell. But, as Wes points out, you've recast the effects with a much different flavor from a bardic perspective...and I really like where you took it. It makes zone of truth cooler to see it emanating from this type of device. And, you've included the ability for everyone (not just the caster) to tell who's a liar, liar, pants on fire! I really like that part, as I can imagine a courtly musician sitting by the king's side idly strumming this thing and messing with someone trying to deceive his liege.

You know, the well of ideas for Superstar-quality wondrous items does seem to draw pretty deeply when applied to the bard class. Seems like every year we get something handy for those guys. And, honestly, what isn't wondrous about music? There's a common denominator to it that reaches across all cultures.

I like that you've played around with the bard abilities in the Pathfinder RPG. That's a good approach to design something new for the new rules. As Sean points out, you didn't quite follow them closely enough...otherwise, you could have made the design much tighter. So look for ways to really research your ideas and align them with the rules so they seem like a natural extension of what's already in the game. At the same time, though, also look for interesting ways to break the rules that don't break the game while still giving us something really cool and innovative. I think you've got potential in this area. So keep going.

Mechanically, I think you did some of that here with the opposed Bluff vs. Perform checks to detect charms and compulsions on someone. That's a very nice touch. And it shows Superstar thinking and mojo, I think. The "up to 30 minutes" probably isn't a good idea, though. It should dovetail more with how bardic performances already work, duration-wise.

In terms of your professional presentation, I would encourage you to work on that a bit. The template had Aura, CL, Slot, Price, and Weight in boldface type, so you don't have to put a colon (:) after each sub-title. Also, your construction requirements offers up zone of truth or glibness as valid methods to construct a lyre of truth-telling and I'm left wondering how glibness applies. It doesn't really let you tell when someone is lying. Instead, it has a built-in element that helps a caster avoid lie-detection spells. So, it seems to be at counter purposes to the core of what this item does. I might recommend detect thoughts instead, as it would seem more applicable...or even sculpt sound if you wanted to say the item somehow alters a person's voice to mess with their ability to tell a believable lie.

Regardless, welcome to the ranks of RPG Superstar! Your foot is in the door and a whole new world of opportunity lies open to you. Step on through and let's see what you've got next. In future rounds, make sure you think through your ideas in relation to the existing rules and keep looking for ways to slip in some creative juice and mojo. You're well on your way already! Best of luck!

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4 , Star Voter 2013 aka raidou

I really like the thought process behind this one. Once we get into the enhanced effects of actually picking out charmed or otherwise mentally-controlled people from a crowd, now you're in innovative territory. You make the effects of this item all tightly hold to the theme, and really the power of this item is more dependent on the bard's musical prowess, not an inherent power of the instrument.

It extends the suite of bard abilities quite nicely. This item shows a strong set of design chops. As the judges have said above you need to really research and compare how you're constructing this item with other magical instruments, and the bard ability as written in PF. You insert a 30-minute duration here and I am unclear where that comes from.

Still, this is a fantastic item, and you're well on your way. Good luck in the coming rounds, and welcome to RPG superstar!

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

A Man In Black wrote:
Any character in this area who attempts to speak a deliberate, knowing falsehood must make a Bluff check opposed by the performer's Perform (string instruments) roll, or that falsehood is immediately obvious to all who can hear it.

That's a very elegant and flavorful mechanic; I almost wish the core bard had something like this.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 aka tejón

Hey-ho, AMiB!

I see why this isn't tied to rounds of bardic performance: it's not a bard-exclusive item. Anyone with the appropriate skill can use it. To be honest I think it's better that way, though I agree that the minimum ranks requirement seems odd. Those with fewer ranks will already be less likely to succeed their checks.

An inherent way to split up the uses (like with boots of speed) would be nice, but the core concept is really cool and if it were printed as-is I'd likely start investing ranks in Perform (string).

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Haha, and there I was wondering if MiB is as good at designing things as he is at picking them apart. Guess that he is ! Congrats, and hope you get a shot at making a statblock soon :)

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

There's a bunch of 3.5 non-core items that grant those playing them SLAs if they have the requisite number of ranks in the skill. That's probably where this item is coming from, mechanically.

I like that this item, while being spell-in-a-can-ish, tweaks the spell to more flavorful ends. The Bluff-vs-Perform competition to use and the fact that the lie is apparent to all are both interesting.

It's not the best item of the bunch, but it's neat and I like it.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka A Man In Black

Thanks muchly for the comments and the nomination.

Good point about not meshing well with bardic performance limits. There I found myself on the horns of a dilemma. How do you monitor durations in a context where durations are not normally monitored? Similarly, how do I keep from making this a bard-only item, especially since music and truth are not schticks completely owned by the bard? (Originally, Zone of Truth was the only creation spell until I remembered Glibness.) I fiddled with a number of variations and links (including burning spellslots and bardic performance) and finally tossed up my hands and made it 1/day with an eyeballed duration of "One lengthy conversation."

Quote:
Hah! You know, I read this item's name and couldn't help but re-imagine "lyre" as "liar"...and then, when associating it with "truth-telling" it makes me laugh.

Yeah, that's where the whole idea came from originally; it all came from a joke item in my home game. Originally it was an instrument that kept you from lying while you played it. Not terribly useful, but it was fun watching the players try and figure out some use for it.

Scarab Sages

Gorbacz wrote:
Haha, and there I was wondering if MiB is as good at designing things as he is at picking them apart. Guess that he is !

Luck manifests in mysterious ways. Now we see if his caustic personality he's cultivated for himself aids him in subsequent rounds.


Jared Goodwin wrote:
...In addition, any character in this area who is under any compulsion or charm effect and attempts to speak must make a similar Bluff check opposed by the performer's Perform (string instruments) roll, or anyone who can hear that character speak understands that the speaker is under the effects of an enchantment...

Given that one of the spells involved in the building of the item is possibly zone of truth and that the item is an enchantment item, isn't anyone in the radius of effect who hasn't resisted going to be acting under the effects of a compulsion or charm effect anyway? Or is the idea here that you can tell if they aren't affected by the lyre, so you can assume that they are lying anyway?

I'm not sure if this is a deliberate trap for would-be liars, or if you simply overlooked the effects of the enchantment magic of the lyre itself.

Anyway, congratulations on reaching the top 32.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka A Man In Black

Charles Evans 25 wrote:
Given that one of the spells involved in the building of the item is possibly zone of truth and that the item is an enchantment item, isn't anyone in the radius of effect who hasn't resisted going to be acting under the effects of a compulsion or charm effect anyway? Or is the idea here that you can tell if they aren't affected by the lyre, so you can assume that they are lying anyway?

Rules-lawyer answer: It's an emanation of magical truth, not a compulsion effect on those inside it (like Zone of Truth). While Zone of Truth is an effect that anyone who enters the zone gets to save against, this is an effect that affects words spoken within the area if they come from a liar or from someone under a charm/compulsion, more like Silence than ZOT. This item deliberately eschews any actual compulsion; you can still lie if you think you can beat the system or just don't care, again unlike ZOT.

More practical answer: I don't think there's a lot of risk of GMs sabotaging the obvious intent, and adding verbiage to try and prevent that unlikely sabotage would probably bloat the entry and risk further confusion. Is there anywhere that says or implies that the effect is a compulsion or charm? If someone had a suggestion on how to make it clearer without bloat, I wouldn't see any problem with that.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015 aka MythrilDragon

Nice indeed, another very cool Bard item. Good luck in the next round.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

Wow, another good bard item. Makes me wonder if the judges favor bardic items or if there were just a lot of interesting bardic concepts to explore. It's very well crafted mechanically and has a nice flavor over all. This item seems like something I've seen before but I can't place it.

Nice entry, I am really curious to see what you produce in the forthcoming rounds.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka A Man In Black

I appreciate the encouragement. And if my ideas aren't awesome enough to win over anyone who doesn't like my previous post history, then obviously they aren't awesome enough to win. ;D

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

A Man In Black wrote:
I appreciate the encouragement. And if my ideas aren't awesome enough to win over anyone who doesn't like my previous post history, then obviously they aren't awesome enough to win. ;D

Hahah, you and me both.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I love a good pun – or a bad one. The name is enough to sell me on this item! It’s quite a nice item too, useful, interesting, not over-powerful. I’m not 100% sold on all the mechanics, but seems well designed. Be careful of your formatting etc in future rounds though, with the talent I’ve seen in this year’s comp so far, something like minor inconsistencies in formatting could be the difference between getting someone’s vote or not!

Well done and good luck going forward.

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

I'm glad to hear the pun in the name was intentional, as I rather enjoyed it as well!

Interestingly executed as well, good job!

Dark Archive Star Voter 2013

Good job, at least if I didn't make it, (this year) I'm glad someone from Saskatchewan did.

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

0gre wrote:
A Man In Black wrote:
I appreciate the encouragement. And if my ideas aren't awesome enough to win over anyone who doesn't like my previous post history, then obviously they aren't awesome enough to win. ;D
Hahah, you and me both.

All three of us

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

My bard's cup runneth over this year! I love playing bards, also known as the red-headed stepchildren of most adventuring groups and anything that makes a bard cooler gets high marks in my book. Congrats!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Cool item! I think it's a bit of a spell-in-a-can, but evidently not so much that it draws undue criticism from the judges. Good luck in the future rounds!


I absolutely love the name. A classic pun that isn't over distracting. Love it.


The idea is nifty, but the requirement of ranks in Perform is a bit clunky, IMO. Maybe just set a DC 20 Perform check (so a "Take 10" should be possible for a PC with 7 ranks).

And it's good to see other folks from Saskatoon! (And other Saskatchewanians like Gideon Black.) ;-P

Star Voter 2013

I like this item. In fact I think it's the best Bard item this year.

Here's why I don't think its just a spell-in-a-can. It takes the spell effect (zone of truth) and tweaks it into the established rules for bardic performance (substituting Perform for some other skill, save, or DC). It basically adds a new bardic ability that most players would find useful. I also think that opposed rolls (bluff vs. perform) are inherently more exciting to play out than the enemy simply making a Will save (zone of truth). I have a great image in my head of a Bard, sweat poring from his brow, furiously strumming the lyre trying to trip up a silver tongued assassin or mind-controlled cats-paw.

That said I think the changes SKR recommended would make the item even better.

The Exchange Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015 aka Shadowborn

Solid item. I really like the way it functions. It would have been a nice bit of flavor if there were some type of actual effect that occurs to show when someone is lying, like their voice taking on a strange, untrustworthy tone, or causing them to stumble over their words.

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

Great job making the top 32! This is a useful lower price item that gives bards more options - I like all of that. What I really like is that it's not a spell in a can at all, but in fact a skill in a can. The mechanism of perform vs. bluff is identical to sense motive vs. bluff, and the detect charm or compulsions is also something you can achieve with the sense motive skill. By allowing the user to substitute their perform skill for another skill, the item also mimics the versatile performance bard ability - and by having the skill be sense motive, which isn't one associated with perform (string instruments) it's still useful to a bard who has versatile performance with strings.

Liberty's Edge Contributor , Star Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

Nice pun! And a great bard item.

Good luck in the next round.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka A Man In Black

You know, if this hadn't qualified, I wouldn't have any copy of it. After submitting it, I reviewed the 2009 rules instead of the 2010 rules by accident, and thought that the word limit was 200 and not 300, so I deleted the copy on my computer in frustration.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

A Man In Black wrote:
You know, if this hadn't qualified, I wouldn't have any copy of it. After submitting it, I reviewed the 2009 rules instead of the 2010 rules by accident, and thought that the word limit was 200 and not 300, so I deleted the copy on my computer in frustration.

Ouch, an amusing irony there. Good thing it got through then!

On the item, I like it. The pun-name is subtly amusing, and the effect is fun and useful without being overpowered.

I actually prefer that you didn't tie it solely to bardic performance uses, because it makes it an item that isn't for bards only. A good wrinkle might have been, though, to have it be used once per day for up to 30 minutes by anybody (or anybody with N ranks in Perform (string)), but in addition allow a bard to get extra activations per day by spending uses of bardic performance, perhaps the 1 minute for each round of BP, as suggested above.

The visuals of this are fun, as it's easy to think of a throne room with a bard on the size strumming lazily away and the lord questioning someone, and the lyre sounding a sour note when someone lies - was there something like this in The Black Cauldron? Seems like my memory is pinging that the bard's instrument did something similar.

Anyway, good job and good luck!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter 2014

I nipped a post that was clearly intended for a different thread.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

Ross Byers wrote:
I nipped a post that was clearly intended for a different thread.

Yeah, I was kinda wondering about that one. :)

Scarab Sages

I liked the skill test aspect and that everyone within hearing learned if someone was lying or charmed.

The rest...it was OK, but not my cup of tea.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka A Man In Black

Patrick Walsh wrote:
The rest...it was OK, but not my cup of tea.

Could you elaborate on "the rest"? I'm not sure what you mean there.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka KissMeDarkly

Jason Nelson wrote:
The visuals of this are fun, as it's easy to think of a throne room with a bard on the size strumming lazily away and the lord questioning someone, and the lyre sounding a sour note when someone lies - was there something like this in The Black Cauldron? Seems like my memory is pinging that the bard's instrument did something similar.

Kinda. The Harp in The Black Cauldron (or the Prydian Chronicles) would have a string snap if the player tried to embellish the song to make what the song was about more glorified than it actually was.


Madness Follows wrote:
Jason Nelson wrote:
The visuals of this are fun, as it's easy to think of a throne room with a bard on the size strumming lazily away and the lord questioning someone, and the lyre sounding a sour note when someone lies - was there something like this in The Black Cauldron? Seems like my memory is pinging that the bard's instrument did something similar.
Kinda. The Harp in The Black Cauldron (or the Prydian Chronicles) would have a string snap if the player tried to embellish the song to make what the song was about more glorified than it actually was.

I've been re-reading Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain over the last few weeks, so I immediately thought of Fflewddur Fflam's harp when I saw this item in the top 32. Of course, Fflewddur's harp forced HIM to tell the truth (and not just when he was singing!) - but this one forces other people to be honest.

It's a neat concept. Not as neat as the twintone flute, but neat. I can see this item being very useful in games that rely heavily on intrigue and deception; I can also just as easily see it ruining those aspects of play.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka A Man In Black

Power Word Unzip wrote:
It's a neat concept. Not as neat as the twintone flute, but neat. I can see this item being very useful in games that rely heavily on intrigue and deception; I can also just as easily see it ruining those aspects of play.

I went to a fair bit of effort to make sure it wouldn't.

  • Its use is obvious and there's an easy way to test for it: just announce that your mother is a chimera.
  • It's on the skill curve. There's no +20 to whatever (like Invisibility) or You Just Fail (like Silence).
  • It's not practical to use all the time. It's a 1/day item.
  • It doesn't reveal the truth, only the lie.

    In practice, it's less useful and less disruptive than someone who has trained in Sense Motive, while still desirable. I think that's a sweet spot.


  • A Man In Black wrote:
    Power Word Unzip wrote:
    It's a neat concept. Not as neat as the twintone flute, but neat. I can see this item being very useful in games that rely heavily on intrigue and deception; I can also just as easily see it ruining those aspects of play.

    I went to a fair bit of effort to make sure it wouldn't.

  • Its use is obvious and there's an easy way to test for it: just announce that your mother is a chimera.
  • It's on the skill curve. There's no +20 to whatever (like Invisibility) or You Just Fail (like Silence).
  • It's not practical to use all the time. It's a 1/day item.
  • It doesn't reveal the truth, only the lie.

    In practice, it's less useful and less disruptive than someone who has trained in Sense Motive, while still desirable. I think that's a sweet spot.

  • Excellent argument. Somehow I missed the once-daily restriction in my first read-through; I was thinking it could be used in place of a bardic performance. I gotta stop drinking from the fire hose - opening top 32 items eight at a time in tabbed browsing is starting to confuse me. :)

    Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

    This is a good solid item. I liked it and I can see PCs enjoying it a great deal.

    You've gotten some good feedback, so I won't belabor any specific issue already covered. I'm also cautious about critiquing the competition. :D

    Jason Nelson mentioned the possible visuals (audibles?) that could come into play with the lyre and I wondered about that myself. There's a touch of "knowing something" without explanation of how this mysterious knowledge is passed or communicated. In fact, my own item does that too, but is designed to be subtle (and I was following the saving throw mechanic verbiage precisely). Getting back to your item- I might have liked to have read some of the lyre's 'visuals' in your entry. Don't take that too hard, I'm not sure its mandatory or even good design. It was merely one observation I had, and a professional editor/designer may disagree. Bard items just strike me as "showy" items, not subtle ones.

    Great item and best of luck! I look forward to your entry in the next Round!

    Dark Archive RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015 aka Boxhead

    Congrats my fellow Canadian! This item does set a very good scene- the party wanders into the king's audience chamber after their latest destructive rampage. A lyre strums somewhere in the background, and attendents scurry about the room. The king begins to question them and the rogue is ready to tell a whopper- and the whole court knows it...

    It does seem a little impractical for most games, but then, why should every item fit every game?

    RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DankeSean

    And another member of the super-secret-Superstar-2010 Bard Item Club! I like this one for obvious reasons; I've already talked at length on the Muse thread about how fond I am of bard items. What amazes me is that both you and Andrew created items that basically grant an extra kind of bardic performance; mostly because I wish _I'd_ thought of that, dammit! Very nice entry. I approve. Now somewhere out there there has to be a bard carrying one of these, wearing a muse of the solemn vessel, chomping on a nightingale's tongue, with a screeching monkey on his or her shoulder...

    RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka A Man In Black

    Jim Groves wrote:
    Jason Nelson mentioned the possible visuals (audibles?) that could come into play with the lyre and I wondered about that myself. There's a touch of "knowing something" without explanation of how this mysterious knowledge is passed or communicated. In fact, my own item does that too, but is designed to be subtle (and I was following the saving throw mechanic verbiage precisely). Getting back to your item- I might have liked to have read some of the lyre's 'visuals' in your entry. Don't take that too hard, I'm not sure its mandatory or even good design.

    Something I thought of after submitting this:

    "Any character in this area who attempts to speak a deliberate, knowing falsehood must make a Bluff check opposed by the performer's Perform (string instruments) roll, or that falsehood obviously rings false and is immediately apparent to all who can hear it."

    I was fooling with trying to work the expression "ring of truth" into the description and it didn't come to me until later.

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