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Sublime Phial


Round 1 - Open Call: Create a Wondrous Item

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

SUBLIME PHIAL

Aura faint abjuration; CL 9th
Slot --; Price 960 gp; Weight 1/2 lb.

Description
The church of Shelyn seeks to guard the faithful against the horrors of unlife and the caustic waves of negative energies called forth by dark priests, and so makes available the sublime phial, a smoked glass container intended to hold one pint of holy water. Some phials are engraved with a rose, or Shelyn’s symbol; others are masterworks of the glassblower’s art themselves.

Typically, a member of the faithful will keep the phial on her person, either as a pendant or in a pocket. If she is attacked by a wave of negative energy intended to deal damage to a living creature, the phial acts as a focus: the holy water immediately evaporates, and damage from the negative energy is reduced by 5 points (minimum damage 0.) An empty phial still radiates a dwoemer, but lacks any power until it is refilled. Only one sublime phial protects a person from any wave of negative energy, but wearing multiple phials guards against successive channelings.

Recently, another use of the phial has come to light. If a cleric attempts to harm living creatures through a burst of negative energy, while carrying a full sublime phial on his person, those affected creatures who succeed in their Will save take no damage at all.

Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, consecrate; Cost 480 gp

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

Interesting, definitely a niche, not sure if it's worth the benefit you get from it. Though it's slotless, you could always throw one in your backpack. If you really wanted to load up on these, you could completely absorb a big negative energy blast (at 1000gp per 5 hp, it wouldn't be cheap).

Hmmm.

Maybe keep?

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

I like this. It uses the new rules ala channel energy, it uses our world, and its got a nifty little effect that you can even turn against an enemy if you're sneaky.

Accept.

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

I dont like refillable items, but I do like the author is playing with the channeling mechanic.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

There's nothing sublime about a phial that gets you into the RPG Superstar contest. This is simple, elegant, useful design. The mechanics are sound. It's limited in scope. It applied Golarion lore without screwing anything up from a continuity perspective. It also uses one of the unique game mechanics inherent to the Pathfinder RPG. Also, as many folks have learned, the negative energy "blasts" channeled by evil priests has been begging for an item that can stand against it. The sublime phial doesn't quite go far enough for me...as it only reduces such an attack by 5 hit points...and they don't stack if you wear multiple phials to guard against a high-level cleric's channeling damage.

But I really like where this item is going. It's innovative and shows good design chops and decision-making throughout. I also admire the neat twist of what it can do if a cleric attempts to channel negative energy while carrying one of these things. Someone slip a rogue with a decent Sleight of Hand skill check behind the bad guy to plant this on him and you're golden.

So, welcome to the ranks of RPG Superstar, my friend! The world is your oyster...or something like that...(maybe I'm still thinking too much about the vessel of the deep right now?). Regardless, my only advice to you is to keep doing what you're doing. You've got a great attention to detail in your professional presentation. You've got good imagination and rules-fu in the right measure. And I'm really interested in seeing what you do next round. Best of luck!

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

Neil used the word "elegant" to describe this item and that's the first word I thought of when evaluating this item's use of holy water to offset negative energy damage. This is a nice little item, much more useful in low-level play where channel energy doesn't do a crazy amount of damage but is still really scary (because you also don't have a lot of hit points)

After that, the item doesn't scale well. But at under 1000 gold, perhaps it doesn't have to. I think there may be some fun to be had by having the party rogue place this item in the robes of an evil priest, but probably not as much fun as the rogue sneak-attacking the dark priest before he can even get the negative channel off.

So welcome to the competition! I am looking forward to seeing what else you've got in store for us.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4 aka K. B. Carter

I think the item is great. It’s small, contained, works once and then must be refilled. In the past, I haven’t liked giving players permanent energy resistance items, as it often leads to abuse and meta gaming, but the low resistance value here and the fact that the resistance is temporarily stripped after it absorbs a certain amount of damage is a clever little work around for these concerns. I would like to see a lot more energy resistance items work like this in the future, as opposed to say, a cloak that always grants fire resistance 10, which tends to trivialize most fire hazards (just to illustrate one of my concerns regarding energy resistance items).

Also, using holy water to absorb negative energy damage works well in my mind, and I can easily see the concept applied in the opposite direction as well, meaning unholy water absorbing radiant damage. I can even see the idea applied in other directions, such as vials of magically distilled elemental water granting fire resistance and so on… As I said above, I think this will replace the mechanic for energy resistance items in my campaign going forward; it’s a much more interesting way to handle the concept and still inspires the players to avoid taking damage, even though they are resistant to it. Great job here!

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Wow. Thanks, guys. I hope that, going forward, I can vindicate the faith you've placed in me.


Good work Chris. This item has some nice flavor to it for Golarion and it helps deal with that pesky Negative Energy damage. Now, while I realize reducing damage by 5 isn't much, that still can often be enough to keep a character still breathing.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Well done Chris. Good low level item, nice description, simple mechanics, fills a niche as yet unfilled.

Good luck moving forward!

Paizo Employee Developer , Dedicated Voter 2014

Rock on, Chris! The flavor matches the design on this one really well. Congrats!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Congrats Chris!

Taldor Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think what I like most about this item is the fact it gives holy water an additional use. Unless I am playing with a DM who throws out a fair amount of undead, that vial tends to rest in my character's pack longer than a sack full of torches.

Additionally, the low cost makes it accessible to lower level characters who would benefit most form the 5HP buffer. Good job Chris!

Osirion RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Steven T. Helt

Thisitem is pretty simple, but simple can be good. : }

I do like that holy water gets some love, and that means bless or curse water might actually get cast in a game.

Fair low-level item. COngratulations.

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

I like that it's holy-water powered. A lot, actually. Give me more uses for the alchemicals and other low level equipment and I'm happy. It's one of several divine and water-themed items that's made it this year, and it's my favorite so far.


According to the Campaign Setting, Shelyn is a goddess of beauty, art, love, and music. I don't know where you got the information from that she's specifically anti-undead, or that her clerics are any more out on a mission to destroy all undead any more than clerics of other good or neutral deities. I note that after mentioning it in your opening, however that you do not refer to undead again.
A flower vase you top up with holy water makes sense for Shelyn I suppose, but one that you top up with holy water before going off to fight evil or get your party thief to 'plant' in the pocket of a suspected enemy cleric before you call him/her out???

The mechanics of what it does (ignoring the flavour) seem innovative though, and congratulations on making the top 32.

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

Great job making the top 32! I also like the mechanics of this item a lot, the holy water charging, the low priced limited protection against negative channeling, and the limits on how it can't be over used in a single battle without having multiples (or taking the time to re-fill it.)

My biggest concern is that the language of what it protects against is a bit vague. It protects against a "wave of negative energy intended to deal damage to a living creature", but the rest of the description seems to pretty much limit it to negative energy channeling. If that's all it's supposed to protect against, then the first mention of a "wave" should probably be re-worded. My first thought at that point in reading the description was what qualifies as a wave of negative energy? Would a mass inflict spell? Would shadow dragon breath weapons?

I also shared Chris' concern that this didn't really seem very Shelyn themed. It would make more sense for Sarenrae I'd think.

Regardless, good item - I look forward to more creativity like this in future rounds.

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

Nicely done, I like how you used Golarion as your inspiration. Good Luck on the next round.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

Nice job nabbing a highly sought after top 32. You have a nice item, it's clean, simple and has a good feel to it overall.

Looking forward to seeing your entries in the rounds to come, good luck.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Madgael

Congrats on your awesome Top 32-ness!

I love, love, love this item. I'll jump at any chance to find a good, flavorful use for something "mundane" off the equipment lists like holy water (which too often just ends up as a last ditch splash attack on Strahd), so this is just cool stuff all over for me. Pretty creative and simple to boot. Nicely done.


Nice item all the way around. The ability to reuse it, its need to be refilled, and its low price makes the Sublime Phial a great item. I can easily see a niche for it as a magic item that a low level party can find and put to use.

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

Cleric-specific items are hard to come by and this is a good one. Dig the Golarion vibe and I could definitely see using this in a game. Congrats!

Andoran Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

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

Good imagery, solid concept, useful at low levels. How many Shipyard Rats victims could have been saved by this item?

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

JoelF847 wrote:

Great job making the top 32! I also like the mechanics of this item a lot, the holy water charging, the low priced limited protection against negative channeling, and the limits on how it can't be over used in a single battle without having multiples (or taking the time to re-fill it.)

My biggest concern is that the language of what it protects against is a bit vague. It protects against a "wave of negative energy intended to deal damage to a living creature", but the rest of the description seems to pretty much limit it to negative energy channeling. If that's all it's supposed to protect against, then the first mention of a "wave" should probably be re-worded. My first thought at that point in reading the description was what qualifies as a wave of negative energy? Would a mass inflict spell? Would shadow dragon breath weapons?

I also shared Chris' concern that this didn't really seem very Shelyn themed. It would make more sense for Sarenrae I'd think.

Regardless, good item - I look forward to more creativity like this in future rounds.

This was my thought as well - I like it and think it is a neat, fun item, and unlike Clark I like the refill mechanic for it, but I was wondering whether it was intended to be limited to ONLY negative energy channeling, or if it could protect against any attack that inflicts negative energy (e.g., inflict wounds spells or a wraith's touch attack). I think if it's the latter, it remains handy in more situations than if it's just about the negative energy burst.

In sum, though: I like it! Plus, any item with Phial in the name gets bonus points from me. :)

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Reckless wrote:
How many Shipyard Rats victims could have been saved by this item?

(grin) That was the impetus behind this idea. After watching several parties take a beating this past GenCon, I was thinking that the Pathfinder game ought to have some sort of defense against negative energy channelling.

Joel and Jason, thanks for the careful analysis. Honestly, I hadn't considered some of those attack forms when I was designing the phial. I know what my ruling would be as a DM, but that's not the point; I appreciate the head's-up to make sure I examine that kind of question as the contest continues.

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

I too like the refillable aspect, and I also like the in game logic behind it. Using Holy Water to defend against unholy attack, that just works for me so well.

Nicely done Chris!

Osirion

I like the item, but there seems to be a lot of backstory woven into the description. It's good description and I could see it in a Pathfinder supplement/adventure, but was under the impression it was a no-no in the contest. Live and learn.

I can see my PCs wanting to load up on these eventually (once they can afford to) and then have the party cleric deal with refilling them by creating holy water for them. Not certain I'm keen on that.

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

Patrick Walsh wrote:

I like the item, but there seems to be a lot of backstory woven into the description. It's good description and I could see it in a Pathfinder supplement/adventure, but was under the impression it was a no-no in the contest. Live and learn.

I can see my PCs wanting to load up on these eventually (once they can afford to) and then have the party cleric deal with refilling them by creating holy water for them. Not certain I'm keen on that.

I wouldn't be too down on that aspect. Remember a couple of things:

1. Holy water, whether buying it or casting it yourself, costs 25 gp, so it ain't like refills are free.

2. Each item protects ONE person against ONE negative energy channel (or other neg energy attack, if you wish), reducing it by 5 points.

So, in a party of 4, you're laying out almost 4000 gp (2000 if you make it yourself) for the phials, then you're dropping 100 gp each time you fill them up.

You could just make everyone a potion of CLW for the same price and have them drink it after the battle (or during it if they need to) - average of 5.5 points of cure vs. 5 points of prevention, and the CLW potions work against ANY kind of damage, not just negative energy damage.

If anything, this item is a very money-inefficient way extend hp; essentially, it works as a contingent low-level CLW that you can carry around and that pops off 5 points of cure the next time you take damage from negative energy.

Even if you were carrying multiple phials, taking 5 points off the top is no game-breaker; at the point in the campaign where this would provide relative immunity from negative energy, the item is too expensive for the party to have more than maybe one of them.


First of all, congrats, Chris!

I says this boy's gonna go all the way!

It really does extend the game world/rules logic in a way that makes you think "Why didn't SOMETHING like this always exist"... but also in a way that's very flavorful and inline with Golarion lore.

It also makes me imagine it's EVIL OPPOSITE - The Abominable Phial (?). Useful for evil Necromancers to protect their minions from the meddling "Forces of Good", but also for scheming manipulators to trick unwitting do-gooders into wearing, just to find their healing barely functional just when they need it. Not that you should use that idea in your own games, of course. ;-)

Andoran Contributor

Nicely done Chris!
Good to see you getting yourself back into the game.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Thank you, Tim.


nicely done, I got a few issues with it, but I like the 'niceness' of the item, it is limited and it has some background.. I am a sucker for background on an item.

Osirion

The game definitely begs for items that give negative energy resistance, similar to energy resistance, so this is way overdue.

I agree with the above-mention of Shelyn being an unusual choice (my first thought would have been Sarenrae or even Pharasma), but its not out-of-character or anything (as Shelyn's association with her brother, the god of pain, suggests that she might be picking up an association with relief from pain, and she *does* have Protection as a Domain choice), just not my first thought.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Set wrote:
I agree with the above-mention of Shelyn being an unusual choice (my first thought would have been Sarenrae or even Pharasma)...

My thanks for the nod, Set. I appreciate it.

I chose Sheyln because the phial is, as you point out, a protective item. I considered that the church of Sarenrae would develop an item that would be more aggressive, possibly causing some sort of backlash damage against the source of negative energy.

Osirion

Chris Mortika wrote:
I chose Sheyln because the phial is, as you point out, a protective item. I considered that the church of Sarenrae would develop an item that would be more aggressive, possibly causing some sort of backlash damage against the source of negative energy.

Ooh. I like the smell of whatever it is you're cooking! (even if it is scorched bad-guy)


Chris Mortika wrote:
Set wrote:
I agree with the above-mention of Shelyn being an unusual choice (my first thought would have been Sarenrae or even Pharasma)...

My thanks for the nod, Set. I appreciate it.

I chose Sheyln because the phial is, as you point out, a protective item. I considered that the church of Sarenrae would develop an item that would be more aggressive, possibly causing some sort of backlash damage against the source of negative energy.

Torag, Nethys, and Abadar all have the protection domain too though - indeed Torag is a deity whose portfolio specifically includes protection, which Shelyn's 'arts-orientated' one does not.

I think you're digging yourself a hole here, Chris.... ;)

Paizo Employee Customer Service Dire Care Bear Manager

Chris Mortika wrote:

SUBLIME PHIAL

The church of Shelyn seeks to guard the faithful against the horrors of unlife and the caustic waves of negative energies called forth by dark priests, and so makes available the sublime phial, a smoked glass container intended to hold one pint of holy water. Some phials are engraved with a rose, or Shelyn’s symbol; others are masterworks of the glassblower’s art themselves.

I like this one a lot. I can easily see the phials as really gorgeous works of art. And I like the concept of Shelyn's faithful followers wanting to be protected from the dark priests and their negative energy. When I read the entry in Gods and Magic about Shelyn, I felt like her followers are exactly the type of people to create these. They are all about beauty and love and creation so of course they would want to protect those trying to adhere to these beliefs by creating an item that not only is beautiful, but protects them from (some) of the ugliness of the world. Maybe it's just me, but I can't imagine Torag's followers creating beautiful smoked glass phials.


Sara Marie wrote:
Chris Mortika wrote:

SUBLIME PHIAL

The church of Shelyn seeks to guard the faithful against the horrors of unlife and the caustic waves of negative energies called forth by dark priests, and so makes available the sublime phial, a smoked glass container intended to hold one pint of holy water. Some phials are engraved with a rose, or Shelyn’s symbol; others are masterworks of the glassblower’s art themselves.

I like this one a lot. I can easily see the phials as really gorgeous works of art. And I like the concept of Shelyn's faithful followers wanting to be protected from the dark priests and their negative energy. When I read the entry in Gods and Magic about Shelyn, I felt like her followers are exactly the type of people to create these. They are all about beauty and love and creation so of course they would want to protect those trying to adhere to these beliefs by creating an item that not only is beautiful, but protects them from (some) of the ugliness of the world. Maybe it's just me, but I can't imagine Torag's followers creating beautiful smoked glass phials.

You put elegant, beautiful, fragile, glasswork on a stand in a museum or on a shelf or table at home well out of the reach of small children because it goes smash so easily, not cart it around a battlefield. A big one of these on an altar in a temple that protects everyone on the premises against negative energy, maybe would make sense to me, but I really don't see a small, durable, everyday version being made by Shelyn's followers. :)

Edit:
Eh, okay, I'm still not convinced it's suitable to Shelyn, as written, but I will leave off here.

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

Charles Evans 25 wrote:

You put elegant, beautiful, fragile, glasswork on a stand in a museum or on a shelf or table at home well out of the reach of small children because it goes smash so easily, not cart it around a battlefield. A big one of these on an altar in a temple that protects everyone on the premises against negative energy, maybe would make sense to me, but I really don't see a small, durable, everyday version being made by Shelyn's followers. :)

Edit:
Eh, okay, I'm still not convinced it's suitable to Shelyn, as written, but I will leave off here.

Think of Evil as a kind of ugliness, both of the spirit and (when you get into the idea of corruption) of the body.

It makes sense to me that protection from the ugliness of evil would be something that fits with Shelyn (who is a Goddess of beauty with the protection domain).

But thats just my 2c.

Andoran Contributor , Star Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

This is an effective low-cost item that can be useful at all levels of play--that's pretty darn tricky to do.

I'm kinda "meh" about the "recent discovery" line. I think you could just state the effect without the prologue.

Congratulations and best of luck in the monster round!

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Thanks, taig!

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Orange Toque

I like the refillable aspect. It's very limited in scope, but since you kept it slotless, i don't have a problem with that. It's the kind of item that in the right circumstances could keep a character on their feet, but is not going to come up in every battle. In a world where clerics are channeling negative energy, it makes complete sense that something like this would exist.

Nicely done. Keep it up in the next round.

TM

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

Some people have mentioned the advantage of carrying a ton of these around; I don't think that would be that useful (unless you're storming an evil temple, or something) since there's probably a practical limit to how many times per day you get zapped with negative channeling. So with that, for the cost I think this makes for a useful but not gamebreaking low level item. (And, since slotless, it stays useful at higher levels too, though by that point subtracting 5 points per channel isn't as big as it is at lower levels.) And like someone else mentioned, finding some way of slipping onto the Evil High Priest's person before combat would be a very interesting tactic. I'm in agreement with Taig about the 'recent discovery' line being a little clunky and unnecessary, but in all other regards this is executed very well.

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

I love the idea of taking a relatively mundane item like holy water and giving it a new use. I could easily see a low-level party being giving a few of these by clerics of Shelyn to help defeat an evil cleric who had been causing problems. Then the party keeps them to refill. I sort of appreciate the last line about evil clerics, as it prevents a band of clerics from spamming channel negative energy and wiping a party while being (somewhat) immune themselves...

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013

Nice design, excellent concept.

I wonder what might happen if unholy water accidentally found its way into one of these? Nothing? Turns it to normal water? Deactivates it for a day? Flowers sprout out of it? Hmmm... just musing.

Well done and good luck in Round 2!

Paizo Employee Customer Service Dire Care Bear Manager

Chris,
I really like the little bit of flavor you've added in with the Church of Shelyn making these for their followers.

God's and Magic pg 37 wrote:
Priests of Shelyn must endeavor each day to create something of beauty...

When there are little bits of flavor like your's in descriptions, I love to imagine and daydream little stories to go along with it. I thought I'd give an example using your item (hopefully you don't mind?)

So...maybe some priestess of Shelyn who was used to making pretty little glass ornaments to decorate her temple went adventuring with a team of fighters and a druid of Alseta who had carved a little wooden phial filled with holy water. And the priest of Shelyn was like "that's nifty, but I can't carve wood... but I bet I could make that out of glass!" And in order to keep "endevoring to create" while off adventuring, she would sketch out designs to reference when she got home and could spend some time glass-blowing. After many crazy hijinks and adventures and testing out which designs held up best during the rigors of battle (cast spell from behind the fighter FTW!!), and visiting other temples to Shelyn, her little glass phials began to catch on. Maybe after a few decades, the origins of the phials were forgotten and they simply became a "wondrous item from the Church of Shelyn".

For me, this is a good thing. The little sprinkles of flavor make for great springboards for my imagination.

Spoiler:
Keeps my mind busy when Cosmo blathers on and on about "this one time... when I helped a customer..."

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Sara Marie wrote:
I love to imagine and daydream little stories to go along with it. I thought I'd give an example using your item (hopefully you don't mind?)

Sara Marie you have made my month. If nothing else comes of RPG Superstar for me other than this, it will have been well worth it.

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