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Stone of Alliance


Round 1 - Open Call: Create a Wondrous Item

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Madgael

Stone of Alliance
Aura Faint Divination; CL 3rd
Slot – ; Price 33,500 gp; Weight
Description
This tiny sphere of marble can be used to strengthen an existing link between the user and a creature bound to him. When first activated by a character and then swallowed by that character’s animal companion, bonded mount or familiar, the stone magically remains inside that creature, allowing the character to be continually aware of its distance, direction, and general condition as the spell status.
In addition, if the character has line of sight to the creature, he may, as an immediate action, protect the creature from being harmed by one successful attack, suffering the full damage and/or effects of that attack himself instead.
Finally, the character may once per day, as a standard action, remove one of the following conditions from the creature: blinded, dazzled, deafened, fatigued, shaken, or sickened. The character must be within 30 ft of the creature to do this and the condition is then suffered by the character for the remaining duration for which it would otherwise have been in effect. Alternatively, the character may instead choose to reduce a condition of exhausted, frightened, or nauseated to a less severe state, but both he and the creature suffer the lesser condition. (Removal of a frightened status, for example, would leave both the character and creature shaken.)
The stone remains inside the creature until it dies or either the creature or character travel to another plane at which point it crumbles into a worthless powder.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, status, shield other; Cost 16,750 gp

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

An item for familiars. Now that is pretty cool.

Status, check.

Shield other (though 100% not 50%), check. Problem is, it doesnt say how often this can be used. As written its one immediate action every round. That's a problem.

The condition removal thing is cool.

Keep. The unlimited ability to suffer full damage in lieu of the familiar suffering the damage is a concern I have though.

Contributor

I think the "one successful attack" is the author's attempt to limit it to once per day.

In general, I like an item that encourages the player to think of the familiar as a separate creature rather than just an "item" they cram in their backpack to get some skill bonuses.

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

Another neat idea. I don't know why this item is destroyed by going to planes, though - I'd think it just stops working.

Overall, my interest in this is there, but only a little bit.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Now this item provides some innovation. We almost never see items designed to directly work with, enhance, or protect familiars, animal companions, and bonded mounts. So, right away, I like that you're breaking some new ground with this idea. That's Superstar outside-the-box thinking.

So let's see what you've given us with this stone of alliance. Hmm...grants a status effect, but I'm left wondering why the character is the only one who benefits from the knowledge? Granted, the familiar would have swallowed the stone, but how is the stone attuned any further to the master? A familiar already has such a connection via empathy...but you don't really get that with a bonded mount or animal companion...so how does the stone maintain a connection to the PC?

I guess I'd be more inclined to describe these stones in pairs so that both the master and familiar swallow them. Then, they're both able to keep track of the other...and, judging by the additional power of shield other, they could potentially save one another or reduce a debilitating effect for one another, regardless of who got affected by that attack or condition. Now that would be worth 33,500 gp to me, because it saves both my familiar and my own bacon if things really blow up for one of us.

Mechanically-speaking, I agree with Clark's concern about the shield other effect taking on the full damage of an attack. That goes further than shield other should. And, though wondrous items are often about breaking the rules, I'm not sure this is a good one to break. Full avoidance from all damage is just reaching too far. Reducing it by half?...possibly even after something like evasion already helped the familiar avoid much of the damage...would work better and be more in line with the true nature of shield other. Or, if you're still concerned about the high risk of a familiar dying from a certain attack, you could build in an additional power that grants some temporary hit points similar to aid when invoked, if you wanted. To make room for describing something like that you'd need the extra 33 words you left behind and I'd suggest you cut out the last statement about the stone being destroyed if either creature travels to another plane.

Also, in your explanation of the item, it would certainly help to clear up the language on how often these abilities can be invoked. I suspect Sean is correct in assuming it's once per day. But it shouldn't take many words to include that information up front for everyone. Lastly, I'll cite the very minor nitpicks about your presentation...i.e., you should lower-case "Faint Divination" in the Aura line and status should follow shield other in the construction requirements as spells are always listed in alphabetical order there.

Regardless, this is a super-cool item concept with a near 90% execution. You've got mojo to be pondering this type of device. And you did well to find a niche that others would be very unlikely to duplicate. It certainly helped you stand out...and deservedly so. Welcome to the ranks of RPG Superstar! I wish you the best of luck in the upcoming rounds.

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

With the playtest of the new APG classes underway, I was actually hoping someone might make an item that fits in thematically with one of those new classes. And here we go; this is probably invaluable to a cavalier, since he's not otherwise able to assist his mount magically.

Shield Other and Status are perfect base spells for what you're trying to do. I'm not sure whether you intended to be able to nullify an attack on your pet once per day, once per round, or something else. Your use of "one successful attack" isn't specific enough. I think clarifying this would go a long way toward figuring out if the price is appropriate. The Mercy-like application of condition removal is huge, and seals the deal for me in thinking that this is one of my favorites of the round.

Well Done! In future rounds make sure that if something in your design deviates from its expected function (the shield other effect, as noted by the other judges) you make it clear why it's working that way. Not doing that either causes confusion (at best) or makes it appear that you've applied something incorrectly. That's something your judging peers probably won't overlook.

Welcome to the competition, and best of luck to you!

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Speaking of the new APG classes, a Summoner's eidolon springs to mind when examining this item, too. But since the description specifically cites animal companions, bonded mounts, and familiars...while excluding eidolons, it would seem that a Summoner couldn't make use of this item. The power to use shield other to protect the recipient of the stone is already duplicated by a Summoner's ability to take on damage himself (point for point) in order to save his eidolon anyway. So, maybe that's for the best? Plus, an eidolon can't wander too far from his master either, so the status effect of the stone wouldn't have nearly as much application as the other types of companions, mounts, and familiars. Still, it might be interesting to see a final version of this item address some kind of applicability to eidolons, too.

This item could definitely help a Witch protect her familiar, though. And, given how dependent she is on the familiar for her spells, this stone is almost a godsend. I could see a Witch crafting and/or purchasing this item as soon as possible. Regardless, the APG classes are still in playtest right now, and those rules weren't really available for the RPG Superstar wondrous items. Nevertheless, it's very cool to see some immediate potential for this item for those classes.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4 aka K. B. Carter

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

Would this wondrous item unbalance or over-complicate my game if my PCs were to find it and use it?
I can't think of any way this item would be problematic. It's got a lot of utility and not a lot of ambiguity or game-breaking potential. Good job here.

Would my PCs be happy with this item if they were to find it during an adventure?
Definitely. Any PC with a pet would love this item and I would be okay with them having it. In general, I think pets are too fragile and can die too easily--which is never fun for a PC--so players enjoy any mechanics that help with pet survivability.

How's the mojo? Does the item spark other ideas for my campaign?
Yes, definitely. There are a few mojo tweaks I can suggest for this item. I would say both the pet and the master would have to swallow one each of a pair of items to activate the effect. If they both have this item inside their bodies, it conceptually enhances the symmetry of the master-pet bond. I also don't like the word "alliance" as this suggests a human-human relationship. I would rename this item the "Stone of Binding" or something similar... but these are just nitpicks. I really like this item.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Congrats on making it to top 32.
The other plane part may have been put in there with eidolon's in mind since when they aren't out they 'return' to their home plane.

But yeah I see this as Huge for some of the new classes especially the witch. Probably would be one of the first items I would want to get for such a character since a fighter can just get a new sword if needed but Mr. Fuzzles would feel irreplacable.

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

Interesting. I do like pet-based items, since a familiar's a fragile thing and the upcoming witch is even more familiar-dependent. Agreed that there needs to be specification as to how often the damage-absorption works--the text implies 1/day, but it's unclear.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

The name could have been better; this item doesn't really say "alliance" to me. Alliances are tactical and temporary. This screams "brotherhood".

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! I like your item a lot, but share the concerns about how often it can be used to transfer damage, but in the other direction. If it is intended for 1/day use, then I think the stone is too expensive - it's a once per day 100% shield other (which is really useful, but since it doesn't actually avoid any damage or reduce the total, not too gamebreaking on it's own*, a once a day limited lesser restoration or paladin mercy, and an constant status effect, which is also nice, but not super powerful.

It's also a bit harsh of a penalty in the item that it's destroyed if the pet or master is killed or goes to another plane. It's bad enough you had a death, and have to pay for raise dead, etc., but on top of it you lose some of your treasure - and players hate losing their stuff even more than dying!

* I can see possibilities for abuse by some creatures. A creature with regeneration or fast healing for example could easily transfer lots of damage from their pet to themselves, and then sit back and let it heal. Generally, PCs don't have these abilities, but when you give this item to a vampire wizard, troll druid, etc, it suddenly is more powerful.

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

I like that you made an item with familiars and animal companions in mind. Good luck on the next round.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

Brian,

Congratulations on a great entry, there are definitely a few mechanical and pricing issues here but overall it's a well put together item. The big two issues I see are that I don't see players pay this much for the item and the fact that the item is destroyed if you decide to do any planar travel. There are several places in Paizo adventures where the player would be forced to leave his companion behind or lose 33k gold.

None of those issues are insurmountable, but they are definitely things worth noting.

I'm looking forward to seeing your round 2 entry, good luck!

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Madgael

Thanks everyone for the kind words, support and criticism here. And thanks especially to our esteemed judges for choosing my item for the Top 32. Your critiques were pretty sound and will definitely help me hone my future entries/ideas to be that much more "together". Hopefully I'll put something together for Round 2 that'll validate your choice to send me through. (No pressure or anything, heh.)

Thank you again for this great opportunity to continue creating and learning out here. Paizo people are the bestest people ever.


It seems a boring but otherwise solid item to me, but that could just be because I don't like familiars/animal companions much...
And I concerned that the ability to 'split' one exhausted condition into two fatigued conditions may be abusable under the right circumstances in combination with the feats/traits/classes.

Anyway, congratulations on reaching the top 32.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka Lord Fyre

Charles Evans 25 wrote:

It seems a boring but otherwise solid item to me, but that could just be because I don't like familiars/animal companions much...

And I concerned that the ability to 'split' one exhausted condition into two fatigued conditions may be abusable under the right circumstances in combination with the feats/traits/classes.

Anyway, congratulations on reaching the top 32.

Dude! This item breaks new ground! :D

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Madgael

Nope... Not just a good dream last night.

AWESOME.

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

That is a great item and makes me want to actually use a familiar as something more than a skill bonus without having to invest costly feats into it. Great idea and I think it could spawn a new series of related companion items. Congrats!

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

Madgael wrote:

Nope... Not just a good dream last night.

AWESOME.

Ok, this made me laugh, because I logged on at home and had to double check this morning, for the same reason.

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

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

This item lacks the decriptive, evocative prose of most of the other items I've seen so far.

It does do some neat things to enhance companions/familiars, which I'm all for. As already pointed out, the damage absorption bit is vaguely worded in terms of number of uses. Also, I'm a bit confused as to what a "successful attack" is. Does this include spells, or just melee/ranged attacks? If it includes spells, does it include spells the creture saved against but still took damage from?

The caster level requirement seems like it should have been higher, but that just may be my interpretation based on the item's cost.

Star Voter 2013

When you invest feats in your companions, such as with mounted attack, it's crucial to keep them alive. The ability to save fluffy may very well be worth this price. Plus, there's not nearly enough bling for animals, so bravo. Clearly, the game designers have never been to a pet store or they'd design way more things for pets!

Anyway, congratulations and good luck for next round. One question though: have you ever gotten a cat to swallow a pebble? Do you have a plan for getting one to? That's the question I'd ask the player with a cat familiar.

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

roguerouge wrote:


Anyway, congratulations and good luck for next round. One question though: have you ever gotten a cat to swallow a pebble? Do you have a plan for getting one to? That's the question I'd ask the player with a cat familiar.

Dude, I have given pills to cats and the key is immediate medical attention afterward. For me, of course, the cat was fine. And cat scratch fever? It's a real thing.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

As a fan of familiars with a deep desire to keep them safe, this item would be a must have. Really nicely done.

Star Voter 2013

Superstar item. I've seen lots of players with spellcasters who forgo familiars because they are afraid of getting them killed. An item like this would really help to change their minds (especially the Witch, whose familiar seems like an Achilles heel).
I don't see anything wrong with just the familiar eating the stone.

For its high price though, I'm going to side with the judges on the planar travel thing - the mechanic doesn't seem to fulfill anything flavor-wise and after dropping the gold on the item its only going to restrict the player from participating in great higher level adventure locales (or punish them for being a team player and going with the rest of the party).

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

Short and sweet: I like it. It makes the pet more survivable, and puts the PC in the position of sacrificing something to protect the pet, which I think is pretty cool. I'll side with the voices of "don't destroy it when you cross planes," cuz that also probably cuts out teleporting and it doesn't really seem like a necessary restriction for the theme of the item.

All in all, tho, good job!

Star Voter 2013

James Martin wrote:
roguerouge wrote:


Anyway, congratulations and good luck for next round. One question though: have you ever gotten a cat to swallow a pebble? Do you have a plan for getting one to? That's the question I'd ask the player with a cat familiar.
Dude, I have given pills to cats and the key is immediate medical attention afterward. For me, of course, the cat was fine. And cat scratch fever? It's a real thing.

Yeah. I asked because I have to hand wash my cats.

So, this item is RPG GOLD! I'll be looking for your stuff next round. Congrats again.

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

After 5th level, it just gets awkward. "What do you mean you don't want to swallow it? Do you know how much gold I paid for this thing!?"

Fun item though, nice to see more things for familiars!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4

I'm with Sean on this one. Any item that makes a familiar more relevant is a good thing. Too many times have I had to remind a PC in my game that he hasn't let his toad out of his backpack in over a month.

Kudos and good luck!

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Madgael

Thanks again for all the good words, guys.

I guess I should jump out there and explain the planar thing... The intent was not that the character and animal could not travel to another plane. The idea was that if one travels and the other does not, the differing planes of reality would sort of short-circuit the connection between the two and melt the proverbial circuits. This basically came out of status which has the same limit. Re-reading it though, I can definitely see how that should have been a lot clearer in the item text.

Also, I gotta say the judges were spot on that the limitations on the damage transfer were too vague. I was assuming to some degree that the fact the character would be taking 100% of the damage would be a limiting factor in and of itself... But after reading the comments - yeah, that is definitely a blind spot with the item as written that could be abused to the Abyss and back. (But only if the two of you went together. ;) )

Scarab Sages

Very cool item, and, as has already been said, items that benefit Familiars, Mounts and Companions are long overdue (although the Summoner's Eidolon or a 3.5 Paladins celestial horse regularly returns to its own plane, which would make the item not terribly well-suited for them).

As an alternative to the Shield Other effect, perhaps the character can make a move action at any time to expend five of his own hit points to grant them to his Companion / Mount / Familiar as healing (with any excess being wasted)? The smallish number, and explicit requirement that he lose those hit points for the companion creature to receive them might mitigate the advantages of it being usable more frequently.

The condition removal, while I remember being a huge pain in the butt back in online games (where my Spiritmaster's spectral companion would get 'mezzed' and be useless while I was getting my butt kicked), I'm not sure is a great thing to add to an item. Allowing the caster instead to target his companion with condition-removing, or touch-range healing effects, even at close range, might be a neat choice, without giving, say, a Wizard, the ability to cure conditions that he couldn't otherwise cure.

Or it could just be restricted in some way. Through their reinforced mental link, perhaps the caster can use an action to allow their companion a second saving throw versus any mind-affecting effect, such as fear, charm / dominate monster or confusion. A Wizard wouldn't necessarily have any way to make his familiar not blinded, sickened or fatigued, but would at least be able to mentally bolster it against mind-affecting effects.

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

This is very nice. I like items that help out a familiar/animal companion.

One question that may have been answered above: What happens to a character who already has a lesser condition when he assumes another lesser condition or reduces a greater condition from the familiar/animal companion?

Congratulations and I look forward to reading your monster entry.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Orange Toque

It's a bit pricey, and I don't really see any of my players making a rush to buy this. But, that's probably because those players rarely play classes that give you a bonded animal. I like the idea of the shield other effect, but i would like to see it spelled out a little better.

Focusing on bonded animals is interesting to me, even if my players would never pick this up. I sure I could find a use for this in a villain. So I'm looking forward to what you bring to round 2.

TM

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

Anything that can help keep a familiar alive is a Good Thing. Animal companions probably don't need the love as much, but it certainly makes sense to have this across the board. But it's certainly nice to see an item that might encourage the wizard/sorceror/whatever to let his pet deliver a touch spell against the bad nasty thing without worrying it's going to suffer a one-hit kill. Very good idea.

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

I think I like everything about this item except the name (and maybe description...). It just doesn't grab me. When I read it, I love what it does, and could easily change it to a garment of some kind (collar or vest come to mind) and have players love it. Especially Rangers and Wizards, whose companions never seem to get love in my games.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
In general, I like an item that encourages the player to think of the familiar as a separate creature rather than just an "item" they cram in their backpack to get some skill bonuses.

This.

This says it all for me, Brian. I'm a GM now and I have this issue. The wizard shoves the rat in his haversack and takes the bonus to Fort save and that's all it is to him. For a GM wtaching that is unfun.

I think this is great idea. There are small issues of course, but nothing that can't be fixed. Furthermore I think with the Summoner, Witch, Cavalier, and how familiars and animal companions have been adjusted in the Core Rules we're going to be seeing 'pets' take on expanded roles in PF RPG. You're exploring new territory here and that is the sign of a good designer.

I know how you feel about what you intended to say about planar travel and what was actually interpreted from it. :D

Looking forward to some cool stuff from you in Round Two.

Scarab Sages

Definitely agree with the concept of making Familiars more than those 3 extra hit points that sit in your backpack (for those Toad fans).

I wrote up a spell that I called 'Death by Kitty' that increased a Tiny Familiar by four size categories, to replicate some old Star Trek episode where the 'witch' turns her black cat into a huge terror to stalk the crew. Very fun, and most useful on cat or hawk or viper familiars (and pretty much a waste to cast on a toad or bat, as they don't scale as well for combat). I love the idea of Familiars being more useful (and / or less inconvenient, perhaps stealing Monte Cooks Book of Experimental Might concept of having Familiars be animal-shaped extensions of the Wizard's soul, able to disperse and only manifest materially when desired)...

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Madgael

taig wrote:
One question that may have been answered above: What happens to a character who already has a lesser condition when he assumes another lesser condition or reduces a greater condition from the familiar/animal companion?

taig - I've been thinking about this, and I believe the conditions would stack, but only up to a point. A fatigued PC would took on a fatigued condition would make himself exhausted. But an already exhausted PC would probably not be able to use that effect. I tried to set a logical "cap" on the effects that could be alleviated. A pc could make themselves shaken or frightened for example, but it didn't make sense to me that a character could willingly push themselves into the panicked state. That sort of thing would have to be taken into account with the stacking I imagine.

Set - I am suddenly imagining an evil caster using a sick hybrid combining "Death By Kitty" and the Goblin Skull Bomb. Perhaps not all that practical an offense for the caster in the end, but it sure gives me a chuckle imagining it...

Thanks again for all the support and thoughts on the item, folks. I can't wait to see all the monsters come out now...

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013

I haven't been a big fan of familiars or companions, but that probably stems from the 1e days where losing your familiar was seriously bad ju-ju.

This certainly goes a long way in making pets more interesting to me. I like this a lot.

Good work and I'm looking forward to seeing your Round 2 critter!

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