Wondrous advice #27 / 27: An awesome item may disregard the previous advice


RPG Superstar™ 2011 General Discussion

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(Last year I compiled a list of things that would instantly disqualify your item. I'm posting them one by one as we approach Round 1 of this year's contest. This is the last of them.)

27. An awesome item may disregard the previous advice.

If you haven't been reading the discussion for each of these advice articles, this one is here to (1) bring this to your attention, and (2) end on a positive note.

All of these "auto-reject advice" threads are just advice from one of the judges. They're not the rules of the contest. It is entirely possible to create a cool, innovative item that goes against one or more of these bits of advice. It's just not easy to do so.

I wrote these posts based on my experience as a designer, developer, and judge for RPG Superstar. That doesn't mean I've seen it all or that I'm the end-all authority on designing wondrous items. And it doesn't mean I can't be proven wrong.

Various iterations of this game have been around for over 30 years, and people keep coming up with new ideas and new twists on old ideas. People have been writing stories for thousands of years, and still keep creating new stories or new twists on old stories. Musicians take obscure songs and perform covers, and the covers become more famous and popular than the originals.

Does your item fall into one of these "auto-reject" categories? Despite that, do you still think it is an awesome item and has a chance of making it into the Top 32? Submit it.

To quote myself in another advice thread: Prove me wrong. I want you to prove me wrong.

Every year, items make it into the Top 32 that you could consider a spell-in-a-can, or an item with a joke name, or a toy. They make it into the Top 32 because despite that flaw, they do something really cool or new. You can add flavor to a spell-in-a-can, you can change the name of a poorly-named item, you can change the shape of a toy--if the concept of the item is cool, it deserves a second look.

Every single one of these 27 advice posts is here to help steer you away from mistakes that could make the judges reject your item. Going against that advice can be risky. But sometimes taking a risk is the way to get noticed, to make progress.

But there's a difference between taking a risk with a category you know is likely to get rejected, and just being lazy by submitting an item that is exactly the sort of thing the judges will auto-reject if they see it. Let's take RPG Superstar Neil's item from two years ago:

Spice, Spice, Baby wrote:


Last Leaves of the Autumn Dryad
Aura moderate divination and transmutation; CL 10th
Slot —; Price 53,500 gp; Weight —.
Description
These multicolored leaves retain their vibrant autumn hue regardless of season. Once per day, their possessor may place a single leaf on the tongue to assume tree shape for up to 8 hours. This transformation incorporates the remaining leaves into the tree, but all other equipment changes with the owner.
While in tree form, the owner may release the leaves upon the wind, consciously controlling them as a scrying device. The leaves fly overland up to 10 miles per hour, but use the combat movement, defenses, and special abilities of a locust swarm with plant traits, regeneration 5, and vulnerability to fire.
The leaves may also form a three-dimensional representation of the owner’s face to communicate. They speak with a dry rustle, but otherwise convey the owner’s natural expressions. Fey descendants or those with wild empathy may cast ghost sound, speak with animals or speak with plants through the connection.
The leaves must return before the owner resumes normal shape or lose their enchantment.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, arcane eye, tree shape, whispering wind; Cost 26,750 gp

At its simplest form, this item is a spell-in-a-can, and a Swiss army knife. But Neil brought more to it than its simplest form. Here's that same item in its simplest form:

simplest version wrote:


Leaves of the Scrying Tree
Aura moderate divination and transmutation; CL 10th
Slot —; Price 53,500 gp; Weight —.
Description
This a bag of leaves. Once per day, the bearer can use tree shape.
In tree form, the user can send a patch of leaves out as a remote sensor like an arcane eye. The user can communicate through the patch of leaves as if using whispering wind.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, arcane eye, tree shape, whispering wind; Cost 26,750 gp

That's... dull. It's three unrelated spell effects that are sort of tied together. And it has a mediocre name. If the judges saw this item, it would almost certainly be rejected because we'd have 40 or more other wondrous items that were more interesting than this.

But Neil's evocative name, (concise) description, and excellent flavor text tied these three abilities together and made the item cool, innovative, and stand out in the eyes of the judges. And he made it into the Top 32. And then won the competition for that year. And we've been hurling more writing work his way ever since. So, it is entirely possible to submit an item that goes against this "auto-reject" advice and make it to the next round of the competition. But you have to bring your A-game.

That's the whole point of these advice posts. If you just submit a simple SIAC or SAK like the leaves of the scrying tree, you're not going to make it. And now you know that. So give your item a hard look before you hit "Submit." Does it fall into one of these "auto-reject" categories? If so, is there some way you can make it better, cooler, more innovative, more eye-catching, more... Superstar? If there isn't, maybe you should submit a different item. If there is, make those changes... and look at it yet again. This isn't high school, where a passing score is enough to let you move forward--you have to be one of the best in each round.

You don't want to compete against the hundreds of other people trying to get spots 30, 31, and 32 of the Top 32... you want to compete against the people in the Top 16, or even the Top 8. While technically a "head start" on Round 1 doesn't put you in a better position in Round 2, it's a fact that your previous performance does influence the voters in later rounds. I can't count how many times people have said, "I'm giving you a vote in this round because I really liked your wondrous item." It makes a difference.

I'm going to be spending the next 45 days judging all of the wondrous items submissions. I've stated this before and I'll state it again: I'd rather have 500 good submissions than 400 mediocre submissions and 100 good submissions. I want you to make me work hard selecting the best 32 wondrous items from this year's competition. Submit an item that makes the judges click "Keep" without any dissenters.

Show me you have the design chops to be this year's RPG Superstar.

Eye of the tiger, man.

Dark Archive

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
To quote myself in another advice thread: Prove me wrong. I want you to prove me wrong.

I've been thinking for a few days now. Next year it would be very cool, to have a round that is "This is the list of Sean's rules. Pick one, and break it. Show which rule you break, and how, and why."

Obviously, you'd probably want to tweak the rules list a little bit. It could make for an interesting challenge...

Dark Archive Star Voter Season 6

i'm thinking that you just opened the flood gate to items that break your advice...


That contest has been every year, Sean is challenging us to prove him wrong.

He's just being a gentleman and letting you know up front that your item will start with a strike against it. The more rules you break, the more stikes.

If you can overcome those strikes and craft an intriguing enough item, go for it. It will stand out, but will that be an advantage?

Increase risk, possible increase reward (or elimination). Up to us to decide.

Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Christine Schneider's item from 2008 is another example. It goes directly against several of these "rules", yet was cool, made the cut, and she ended up winning it all.

In fact, if you look at the best items, it's not the mechanics of the item that made them the best, it was the skill of the author in conveying the mechanics of the item, as the example above shows.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

ulgulanoth wrote:
i'm thinking that you just opened the flood gate to items that break your advice...

That's what makes a Superstar: you take the big risk and you make it work. If you can't, then it's not you yet. Keep working. I learned that last year when I played it pretty safe in the last round I was in; if I had gone a little more daring, I might have had a better shot.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6

James Martin wrote:
ulgulanoth wrote:
i'm thinking that you just opened the flood gate to items that break your advice...
That's what makes a Superstar: you take the big risk and you make it work. If you can't, then it's not you yet. Keep working. I learned that last year when I played it pretty safe in the last round I was in; if I had gone a little more daring, I might have had a better shot.

And it's the last part of your first sentence that's important. you make it work. An item could be 'superstar' if it doesn't break any of the rules, it could be 'superstar' if it breaks more than one. But if you set out going "I'm going to break rule X" and build an item around just breaking rule X, you're likely dooming yourself.

To use Neil's example above (so nice to not talk about myself) It breaks the SIAC rule, but in doing so, it goes beyond just a spell in a can. It's flavourful, it's evocative, and it's superstar.

A bit of self promotion

Spoiler:
Now I kind of did this with the lahamu. I did have the goal of getting 'crap past the radar' (in this case, a psionic based critter past Clark), *but* I also wanted to make a monster that was a) awesome and b) fit in a niche I felt was empty (charisma eating monsters).

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Sigh...

I wish this advice had come before I posted my Gozreh’s Baresman to the SIaC thread. I came up with a replacement, but I just don't like it nearly as much. The whole idea of the baresman to me is introducing a kind of religious "magic item" that I've never seen in a fantasy game before (there's a lot I haven't read, so maybe someone did use it), even though it's a real world item. My replacement idea was a cloak, and that just feels so... done.

The advice in this thread does help, though. Going back, I'd probably re-write the whole central paragraph about how the spell works and give it a lot more flavor. Wind and wave themed ideas are popping into my head ... perhaps:

Quote:
On command, the baresman summons a standing wave of sea water once per day as the Aqueous Orb spell (Advanced Player’s Guide), as if cast by an 11th level divine caster. Unlike the base spell, the baresman creates a wave which acts only on an initial command. Once summoned, it either moves outward, white-capped, seemingly blown in a powerful storm (the summoner gestures outward while issuing the command-word in order to cause this) or stands in place anywhere within the 210 ft range where the baresman was pointed, the wave constantly appearing to break and re-form.

I also think I have the pricing wrong (that's sale price, if I'm not mistaken).

Anyway, I'm home sick and have a backlog of work I should be getting to if I feel up to it. Perhaps next year.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

I have only one comment on this thread...

Spoiler:

"Spice, Spice, Baby wrote:"...?!

--Neil

Scarab Sages

Neil Spicer wrote:

I have only one comment on this thread...

** spoiler omitted **
--Neil

That can't be the first time stone was slung, can it?

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

Neil Spicer wrote:

I have only one comment on this thread...

** spoiler omitted **
--Neil

If that's the first time you heard that, then your grade school bully has failed you. Give him a swirly for his/her pain.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

1 person marked this as a favorite.
James Martin wrote:
If that's the first time you heard that, then your grade school bully has failed you. Give him a swirly for his/her pain.

When I was in grade school, Vanilla Ice hadn't even made it back yet with his "brand new invention" or learned to "rock a mic like a vandal," "light up a stage," or "wax a chump like a candle."

Ice, ice, baby,
--Neil

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

Neil Spicer wrote:

When I was in grade school, Vanilla Ice hadn't even made it back yet with his "brand new invention" or learned to "rock a mic like a vandal," "light up a stage," or "wax a chump like a candle."

Ice, ice, baby,
--Neil

Truly your childhood was a dark, dark time.


Neil Spicer wrote:
James Martin wrote:
If that's the first time you heard that, then your grade school bully has failed you. Give him a swirly for his/her pain.

When I was in grade school, Vanilla Ice hadn't even made it back yet with his "brand new invention" or learned to "rock a mic like a vandal," "light up a stage," or "wax a chump like a candle."

Ice, ice, baby,
--Neil

No Ninja Rap either? The horror.


James Martin wrote:
Neil Spicer wrote:

When I was in grade school, Vanilla Ice hadn't even made it back yet with his "brand new invention" or learned to "rock a mic like a vandal," "light up a stage," or "wax a chump like a candle."

Ice, ice, baby,
--Neil

Truly your childhood was a dark, dark time.

No his childhood was blessed. Or as Ice would say, "Nice, Nice, baby."

Scarab Sages Marathon Voter Season 7

Pathfinder Card Game, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

You know, though the song is unfortunately imprinted in my brain, I couldn't actally recall when I first heard it either. Looking it up on Wikipedia, "Ice, Ice Baby" was released in 1991, which I'm going to guess was four years after Neil graduated from H.S.

Neil is even more fortunate though. Not only is he too old to have gotten any grief from any association with that song, but he missed the Spice Girls (1994) completely.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Wicht wrote:
You know, though the song is unfortunately imprinted in my brain, I couldn't actally recall when I first heard it either. Looking it up on Wikipedia, "Ice, Ice Baby" was released in 1991, which I'm going to guess was four years after Neil graduated from H.S.

Spot on, my friend. Way to "collaborate and listen"... ;-)

Wicht wrote:
Neil is even more fortunate though. Not only is he too old to have gotten any grief from any association with that song, but he missed the Spice Girls (1994) completely.

"Oh, tell me whatcha want, whatcha really, really want!"

Contributor , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

Removed a post. Let's keep this above-board people!

Star Voter Season 9

I think that someone who manages to get a wondrous item that breaks all 26 auto-reject rules into the top 32 should be declared RPG superstar right away!

Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Ceylon Tom wrote:
I think that someone who manages to get a wondrous item that breaks all 26 auto-reject rules into the top 32 should be declared RPG superstar right away!

(waves hand towards the Hell of Broken Metagame Items. Chinese have a lot of hells.)


(waves hand towards the Hell of Broken Metagame Items. Chinese have a lot of hells.)

Yes!! And everybody was going to join Lem Li in the hell of being cut to peices!

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6

Greyhorn wrote:
(waves hand towards the Hell of Broken Metagame Items. Chinese have a lot of hells.)
Yes!! And everybody was going to join Lem Li in the hell of being cut to peices!

I need to watch that movie again.

Contributor , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

Matthew Morris wrote:
I need to watch that movie again.

It needs to be watched at least once a year. :)

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6

Liz Courts wrote:
Matthew Morris wrote:
I need to watch that movie again.
It needs to be watched at least once a year. :)

I'm going to end up in the 'hell full of ex-wives' watch me...

Spoiler:
I had a KotE Dhampyr in the old White wolf game. She wore a red t-shirt with white lettering that said "I've done my time in Yomi, I survived physical therapy."

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

This thread kind of got sidetracked, but it is totally 100% accurate. Please, do yourselves a favor and re-read Sean's initial post. When I saw the title of this thread it made me think of one of our all time favorite first round submissions from year 1--the Migrus Locker. Great example of what Sean is talking about.

Knock us out.
Bowl us over.
Break rules.
Swing for the fences.

To paraphrase Jim Rome: "make an item, don't suck" and see if we rack you. (though I guess I can't say "we" anymore since I'm not a judge, but you know what I mean).

I've commented on this before (and others with more web-fu can find it and post links) but this first round is unique. The judges only do the selection. No voting from the public. And really, this isn't so much a "round" as it is a process of determining what 32 volunteer contestants should get to compete. Paizo has simply set this task as the task we use (there I go again) to select the initial contestants. So if there is ever a round to bowl the judges over with extra awesome, this is it. Because it makes the judges say "wow, I want to see what that guy or girl can do in this contest." Remember, there will NOT be 32 perfect submissions. All will have some imperfection. So its not like some purist can say "how can you pick an item with flaws with mojo over one that is technically designed perfectly?" Here's how--that doesnt happen. We (oops) dont get 32 perfect submissions. So "promise" and "mojo" and "awesomeness" do factor in--it did for me anyway. I can't speak for our new judges. But my guess is they will come to the same realization I did: round 1 isnt just about finding the best 32 items, it is about finding the best 32 contestants for this contest and item creation is the task we gave to help us evaluate the submissions, but sometimes you have to look past that and decide what the whole goal of round 1 is.

Take that for what its worth.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Clark Peterson wrote:
...round 1 isnt just about finding the best 32 items, it is about finding the best 32 contestants for this contest and item creation is the task we gave to help us evaluate the submissions, but sometimes you have to look past that and decide what the whole goal of round 1 is....

It's true that we don't just look for the best 32 items. We're actually trying to identify what we believe will make the best 32 designers for the contest...as measured by how they handle the task of designing a wondrous item. And, it turns out you can actually learn a lot about someone in just 300 words (or less) to guide you in that kind of assessment. Some folks have already opened our eyes.

The intended result of the sorting process in Round 1 is that we pick 32 awesome designers we all want to support and watch grow over the course of the competition. And, more often than not, that just so happens to also result in picking 32 awesome wondrous items (whether in idea or execution). This is why we (or at least me anyway) refer to this phase a lot like submitting a resume for a job interview. Your wondrous item (and all the crafting and creativity that goes into it) is essentially that resume. But we're not trying to find the best "resume"...we're trying to find the best "designer." And that's a subjective process that picks apart your resume to find the things we think are most interesting about you and kind of job you would do on all the various assignments that freelancing entails.

My two cents,
--Neil

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

Neil Spicer wrote:

Some folks have already opened our eyes.

Oh, Neil, you wily minx. Dropping sentences like this? Have you no shame? :-)

Dark Archive Star Voter Season 6

i would ask "like who" but then i realised you wouldn't know, since all submissions were annonymous...

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Tom Phillips wrote:
Oh, Neil, you wily minx. Dropping sentences like this? Have you no shame? :-)

.

::casts silenced stilled glibness::

"None whatsoever." :-]

ulgulanoth wrote:
i would ask "like who" but then i realised you wouldn't know, since all submissions were annonymous...

::casts quickened true seeing::

"Who said that?" ;-)

Shadow Lodge

Tom Phillips wrote:
Neil Spicer wrote:

Some folks have already opened our eyes.

Oh, Neil, you wily minx. Dropping sentences like this? Have you no shame? :-)

I just wish we could see the forum where they are debating the items. The anticipation is killing me. :P

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Lachlan Rocksoul wrote:
I just wish we could see the forum where they are debating the items.

No you don't. Really. Trust me.

Dark Archive Star Voter Season 6

i'm guessing what Neil really whants to say is:
"the horror witness in those forums is beyond what any mortal mind could take, it is worse than seeing an old one up close! at least the void isn't so bad! save your sanity! and never talk about the debating item forum again...ever!"

:P

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 8 aka Sect

They've lost good men in those debate forums.

Dark Archive Star Voter Season 6

i bet Sean was one of them, has anyone seen him lately?

Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Sect wrote:
They've lost good men in those debate forums.

"Who?"

"Top ... men."

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6

Neil Spicer wrote:
Lachlan Rocksoul wrote:
I just wish we could see the forum where they are debating the items.
No you don't. Really. Trust me.

I do, in part because I can't enter. I'm always interested in 'behind the scenes' stuff.

Heck I look forward to (most) commentary on DVDs for the same reason.


Matthew Morris wrote:
I do, in part because I can't enter. I'm always interested in 'behind the scenes' stuff.

I assume they use the tried-and-true essay marking technique. How interesting could it be to watch them print out paper copies of all of the submissions and then throw them down a stairwell?

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6

hogarth wrote:
Matthew Morris wrote:
I do, in part because I can't enter. I'm always interested in 'behind the scenes' stuff.
I assume they use the tried-and-true essay marking technique. How interesting could it be to watch them print out paper copies of all of the submissions and then throw them down a stairwell?

Well we see the (I assume cleaned up) comments on the top 32. Learning from anyone's* attempt is still learning. What's the old quote? "I didn't fail a hundred times. I found a hundred methods that didn't work."

*

Spoiler:
except mine. When I crash and burn the only thing to learn is the size of the crater I make.

Dark Archive Star Voter Season 6

well if we don't get in, there's always next year....


Matthew Morris wrote:
Well we see the (I assume cleaned up) comments on the top 32.

They add those afterwards. ;-)

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

Matthew Morris wrote:
Neil Spicer wrote:
Lachlan Rocksoul wrote:
I just wish we could see the forum where they are debating the items.
No you don't. Really. Trust me.

I do, in part because I can't enter. I'm always interested in 'behind the scenes' stuff.

Heck I look forward to (most) commentary on DVDs for the same reason.

I know, me too!

Shadow Lodge

Benjamin Bruck wrote:
Matthew Morris wrote:
Neil Spicer wrote:
Lachlan Rocksoul wrote:
I just wish we could see the forum where they are debating the items.
No you don't. Really. Trust me.

I do, in part because I can't enter. I'm always interested in 'behind the scenes' stuff.

Heck I look forward to (most) commentary on DVDs for the same reason.

I know, me too!

Same here. Good or bad I can take it. I'm a big boy. But, if my item is rejected I would like to know the reasons behind it. This is my first time ever doing anything like this.


Lachlan Rocksoul wrote:
Same here. Good or bad I can take it. I'm a big boy. But, if my item is rejected I would like to know the reasons behind it. This is my first time ever doing anything like this.

I hate to be all "me too"...

It is interesting and instructive to see what wins. But the only feedback about what looses that we get is Sean's "autoreject" tips. And when we can clearly see that sometimes those don't trigger a reject after all, it gets murky.

I keep reading that this competition is really a competitive audition for a writing job. But in general, people who actually write for a living get both positive and negative feedback from their editors as part of the development process.

Of all the posts I've read here, the ones I think I found most instructive have been the "Home Item" thread where some of the internal analysis and discussions were revealed.

With all of that said, I'm just hoping to get ENOUGH feedback so that I can avoid whatever my mistakes were this time for the next time I do this. So it's really helpful to know what the judges thought the mistakes were. Truly, I would have avoided them THIS time if they were apparent to me.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Alcore wrote:
...I'm just hoping to get ENOUGH feedback so that I can avoid whatever my mistakes were this time for the next time I do this. So it's really helpful to know what the judges thought the mistakes were. Truly, I would have avoided them THIS time if they were apparent to me.

I can appreciate this perspective. When I didn't make it into RPG Superstar the first year, I wondered why. But, I didn't walk away from the contest. I stuck around and paid attention. First and foremost, the Top 32 were revealed and I saw what the judges liked about each item...and why. That helped me realize where mine fell short. In other words, I knew what my item didn't have as compared to the others.

Then, Clark posted his "Bad Item Stereotypes" thread and gave a few folks insight into what went on behind the judges' curtain a bit. This let me know what my item shouldn't have. And, in subsequent years, Clark went a step further and volunteered to offer feedback and insight in the "Clark, Please Review My Item" threads. Again, this should be a forum (for anyone who takes the time to review it) whereby you can further learn examples of what not to do.

There have been three years of that kind of coaching. And here we are in 2011 with the fourth year of the competition. Take stock. What have you learned so far? Did you review all of that feedback from the prior years? If not, why not? Do you seriously want to break into freelance design? If so, you need to work hard at it. Part of that is making the effort to educate yourself by making use of the resources available. And believe me, every year this competition goes on, there's more and more advice, feedback, coaching, etc...not just from the judges, but also the prior competitors...some still eligible to compete and others who aren't, but still want to support Paizo and the success of the competition.

But, the judges can't conduct a wondrous item design training class here on the forums (even if some of us might want to). Instead, there comes a point where you're ultimately counted upon to go forth and educate yourself on where your item fell short. There should be plenty of examples by now which outline elements that probably brought down your item, too. And, what's more, recognizing those things is part of what makes an "RPG Superstar candidate" become an "RPG Superstar competitor."

Giving you the exact details of where you fell short on your individual item isn't as helpful as ensuring you learn the broader lessons of what makes for good item design and what makes for bad item design in general. That's because next year, you're probably going to submit a different item rather than trying to improve the broken one that didn't make it through. So, the individual lessons you expect to glean from your own personal item should also be present as general lessons in everyone else's items. That's what you need to look for, because that's what's going to improve you as a designer. Whereas any feedback we gave you specifically about your individual item is mostly only going to help you improve that item...or, rather, the specific elements that you included in that item's design. And that's too small of an object lesson. You need to be looking much wider than that to improve your design-fu.

At any rate, I haven't heard Sean or Vic indicate whether there'll be a "Please Critique My Item" thread again this year. I suspect there might be. I really wish I had the time to devote to it. But, I'm under a very serious writing deadline (on Carrion Crown) at the same time I'm fulfilling my judging duties. I'd just be stretched too thin if I tried to fill Clark's shoes in that regard. And, who can really fill Clark's shoes anyway? C'mon, he's one of a kind.

The important thing is that you take advantage of the peer review method (which I believe Azmahel? has offered to do). And keep doing your own research...both into what fell short in prior years, as well as what makes it through this year.

Just my two cents,
--Neil


Neil Spicer wrote:
which I believe Azmahel? offered to do

Yup i did. Even with being busy writing round 2, 3, 4 and 5 entries ( :) ) I should find the time to do this.

I'm looking forward to it actually, because reviewing items is fun too and you can learn so much about item design when doing so.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

I posed a question in the judges chambers about the possibilities of someone taking on another "Critique My Item" thread this year. I believe Sean does have something in the works to assist folks with that. So, stay tuned.


Ceylon Tom wrote:
I think that someone who manages to get a wondrous item that breaks all 26 auto-reject rules into the top 32 should be declared RPG superstar right away!

Hah! I accept your challenge, and have created an item ('submitted' by a hypothetical Johnivus Smithivus) that attempts to violate as many of Sean's rules (plus several other contest rules) as possible. Click if you dare!

Lord Voldemort's Major Artifact Swiss Monkey Hourglass Armyknife in a Can
Spoiler:
Price: The Hourglass always costs 533 Gold Elephants and can be bought in any magical items shops. It always costs that much because it is the shopkeeper’s birthday.
Auras: Magic. Lots of it. It makes you go blind just looking at it for ten minutes.

Quote:
‘You and your fool of a brother will be unable to stop my rise to power, Lily Potter’
-Hermione Granger, The Dark Blooded Prince

Description:
The Hourglass hangs on a gold chain, and is double the size of a snitch. It is black, but has golden sand that sparkles in the sunlight like a vampire. The Hourglass is carved with shapes of screaming monkeys, and on one end is embossed with the emblem of the Swiss Army, whilst on the other it has the snake of Slytherin embossed. It is very cool.
Look, judges, I only used sixty seven words to describe this item, hah, hah! I didn’t need three hundred, unlike a lot of those losers who’ve written other stuff, I bet. I should get extra marks for this.

Magic Powers:
It is mysterious, and has lots of magic. The one which the dark wizard Hermione uses most is the one where she stops time, and can do whatever she wants until it runs out. This power can be used however many times she likes, but toilet and bathroom stuff or eating food don’t work whilst the hourglass is working this way. Also when you do this, all familiars and owls in the area turn into snarglepuff plants of a random size, and try to kill their owners. Some of them are really weak, but others are quite strong. It all depends. Hermione added this power after her owl was killed and she got cross. When you use this power, you can be instantly killed by even a scratch from a silver dagger, but that’s okay, because nobody else can move to attack you with one.
You can tap the hourglass with your wand three times a day to instantly see how fit and healthy everyone you can see is. This means knowing what someone’s Saves are, how many hit-points they have left, and if they’re currently ill or poisoned.
You can hold the hourglass in a fist and point a finger at someone and say ‘suckus est’ to hex them with bad luck. They don’t get any saving throw, but this is otherwise exactly like the ‘Unluck’ power on page 557 of the Core Rulebook. The target must reroll any roll decided by the GM and take the worse result.
The gems can be pressed in the right order, depending on where you live, and a mysterious voice will tell you what the time is, anywhere you want. If you press them in a different order, it will tell you exactly where you are, and how to get to where you want to get to.
If you say a special magic word, the hourglass turns into a toy train. This is to disguise it, but you can use it to keep children happy and distracted.

Anyone holding or wearing the hourglass can use wands – any wands – irrespective of whether they normally could do so or not. Even the most mugglest of muggles can do so. If you are already a witch or a wizard, you can use the hourglass once an hour to cast any witch or wizard spell, even if you don’t normally know it. The drawback of using this power is it deals 5d10 damage to your pet owl if you have one. You get more intelligent for the next ten minutes though, getting a +5 artifact bonus to your Intelligence.

The hourglass must be bathed in the blood of a muggle every full moon, or it eats a random soul. If it can’t eat yours because you have at least one horcrux, and you don’t have any friends whose soul it can eat it eats the soul of one of your enemies.
Okay, I’ve told you enough about the powers. If you want to know more, you should read the book. I made up the bit about the gems though, even though it can probably do that anyway.

Making it:
The dark wizard Voldimort made the hourglass in the fires of Mount Doom, to fight his arch-nemesis Albus Dumb-as-doors. He used some sand from an Egyptian pharaoh’s tomb, and some stuff from a dragon, and a phoenix feather wand. (It has to be a phoenix feather wand. It won’t work if you don’t make it with a phoenix feather wand, although you could probably make a better one with the Eldest Wand, like Hermione.)
To make one, you have to be able to speak parseltongue like Lord Voldemort and Hermione, (I don’t know why they didn’t get together in the film, because they did in the book) and to be a really powerful dark wizard like them or Dumb-as-doors. You have to spend eight hundred gold elephants on other ingredients to make it.
It explodes and causes a volcanic eruption if you throw it into Mount Krakatoa. This is the only way you can destroy one. But if it is like the one Hermione has used as a Horcrux then you have to make it stop being her Horcrux first or it doesn’t work. See Harry and Lily and the Deathly Hallowed for ideas on how this might be done.

This item was made by me, Johnivus Smithivus, and I own it. I have had it published in The Cheesemonger’s guide to PFRPG and they said it was really good and awesome and paid me $100 for it. It is trademarked, and you must ask me nicely to be allowed to use it.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Charles Evans 25 wrote:
...a really long, fictitious wondrous item submission...

Auto-reject. You're over word count. Not even gonna bother to read it. ;-)


Neil Spicer wrote:
Charles Evans 25 wrote:
...a really long, fictitious wondrous item submission...
Auto-reject. You're over word count. Not even gonna bother to read it. ;-)

But if you don't read it you won't be able to check how many other things it violates.... :D

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