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Candle of Viscous Ephemera

Round 1 - Open Call: Create a Wondrous Item

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 aka Vigil

Candle of Viscous Ephemera
Aura faint necromancy; CL 6th
Slot --; Price 700 gp; Weight 1/2 lbs.
When lit, this candle burns with a pale, bluish glow, shedding light as a normal candle. While the glow has no effect on true undead, the candle light dulls the spirits that power haunts. Anyone within a 5-foot radius of the candle targeted by a haunt receives a +2 bonus on their notice check to notice the haunt before it manifests. Furthermore, if a haunt targets anyone within a 5-foot radius of the candle, the haunt manifests on initiative rank 5 instead of 10. The candle burns for one hour, after which it is destroyed. If the candle is snuffed before that time, the effect is canceled and the candle ruined.
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, hide from undead; Cost 350 gp

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

This is one of the first early submissions that I really like. It's an interesting low-level item offering protection from haunts. Not sure if it rises to Superstar level yet, but better and more rigorously presented according to the template than many we've seen. I'm leaning Keep on this one. And then I'd like to compare it to other items that come through during the rest of the submission window. I will say I'm not all that crazy about the name, though. If we find 32 items I like better than this one, it's out.

Vote to Keep.

Paizo Employee Developer

I really like this one, both in its simplicity and in playing off a new rules element unique to Pathfinder. My only criticisms are that the 5-ft radius seems a little small, and that there's no such thing as a "notice check" (shouldn't that be Perception?) but I think these are issues that would be easily fixed in development were this submitted by a freelancer for publication. I think that the positives of this one outweigh the detractors.


CEO, Goblinworks

I like this especially as its custom-tailored for a DM who wants to have a haunted house encounter for low level PCs. Consumable, and not a "win" button - rewards players who paid attention and remember the gear they're carrying.

I vote keep.


Kind of a niche item. This has some terminology problems (notice check, initiative rank). I suppose it's an OK one-use item, but all it does is help you notice it and then delays when it manifests. Not quite up to par for superstar.

Reject from me.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16, 2010 Top 4 aka Alexander MacLeod

I'm always a little harsh on the price of one-shot items, and I'm going to have to be doubly so here, as if the 700 gp candle is blown out all it's magic is blown out with it! No thanks. Let me light that puppy back up and then you've got a maybe.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015

An anti haunt candle, you have perhaps been reading the previous years’ entries and seen that the judges like PF specific content. If you have, well done, it has paid off. Your research shows you are willing to put in the effort and study. I’m not entirely sold on the name, it just doesn’t make me think anti haunt candle.

I get the 5 foot radius thing, that’s the area a candle illuminates, although it does make the PCs have to cram together to all get the benefit of it. I won’t have minded a bonus to saving throws against haunts, after all I’m paying 700 gp for this candle. That said, there are some nasty high level haunts in some of the Adventure paths. Like Alex I would have liked to be able to use this in smaller doses, just because haunts are often few and far between, and if I only use 20 minutes of the candle, then run out of haunts to encounter, I don’t really want to buy another. I know a cande of truth does it this way, but this is a reactive item rather than a proactive item.

I like that you have formatted your item well and used correct terminology for the most part. At 141 words you have tightly described your item and your writing style is clear and easy to read.

Welcome to the ranks of RPG Superstar! You may have gone a tiny bit on the safe side with this item, but hey, the item got you into the top 32! Bust out your wild crazy ideas in the next round, I suspect you have a lot of them in your head. Best of luck!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Kudos on tapping into new mechanics!

That being said, you lowballed the effectiveness of the candle in favor of the haunts.. and ran afoul of giving a fair item for a fair price. The fact that it is underpowered is making it fall short of being Superstar, not the actual idea itself. I love the idea! That's my take anyway.

As the others have said, some re-usability would have gone a long way to improving this. Matt is spot on in regards to reactive versus proactive. One never knows when a haunt will strike, so you may be burning the candle for a bit while you explore. You need to get some mileage out of it for 700 gps. Mark has a point about the radius as well. Hmm.. and yeah, the name is trying a bit too hard.

Perhaps the candle itself cannot be blown out by any direct action by the haunt itself? I.e. it might go out if the player drops it, but no ghostly wind can extinguish it. That's a pretty neat visual.

All that said, you made it to Round One. That's what is most important right now. Come back fighting next round, don't be made timid by the specter of our critiques!

(Seriously, come back strong. I love that. Watch that game terminology! They get more serious about that in later rounds!)

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Star Voter 2015 aka Sect

At Mr. Moreland: the notice check isn't necessarily Perception, though it almost always is.

I love the concept, and the five foot radius makes sense to me, since I think that's the range of the light that a candle gives, but the price really turns me off, especially for such a weak effect. A price comparable to a scroll would probably be a better deal.

My Points:
1 Item only usable once. Now if you made it reusable, that would have grabbed me. -1

2 Pricing seems off/too high to me. -1

3 Wrong terminology, but I can skip over that. -0

4 5ft radius, I can see that being for light, but the effect would feel better at 10ft to me. But thats just me. -1

5 Drop in initiative, I like this 100% +1

6 Using haunts as inspiration, wish I thought of that. +1

Your item is a great idea overall, but lacks the punch I would liked to have see.
It was a hard call for me and it really came down to point #4, I like it, but not sure if it will grab my vote. But I still have the rest to read.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

vikking wrote:
...I like it, but not sure if it will grab my vote. But I still have the rest to read.

You do realize that the public doesn't actually vote on the wondrous items, right? You'll be voting on their submission for next round, i.e., the archetypes.

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

Hmm, an anti haunt item. Not sure how the name works though. Does it make the haunt thicker? Now I picture that bit in Scooby Doo where Shaggy’s holding the candle and in his night shirt. “Notice check?”

Edit, and Neil I forgot that too.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6, Contributor , Dedicated Voter 2013

I feel like this item has the essence of a good idea, but a lot of little negatives bringing it down. Rename it, boost the power a bit (a + to saves against the haunt's a grand idea), deal with the issue of burning time, and clean up the mechanics, and it'd stand up pretty well with the competition. Guess I'm saying, bring your A game to the archetype round, since only half of you get to go on :)

With haunts becoming a larger part of PF RPG, nice to see anti-haunt items (and hopefully spells) making an appearance.

Neil Spicer wrote:
vikking wrote:
...I like it, but not sure if it will grab my vote. But I still have the rest to read.
You do realize that the public doesn't actually vote on the wondrous items, right? You'll be voting on their submission for next round, i.e., the archetypes.

yes i know, That should have said "not sure that it would have grabbed my vote" sorry.

thats if it mattered

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

Cool. I like the price where it is, because otherwise everyone of level 5+ is always going to have one in their pocket for the inevitable haunt. Should require some witch power! This item screams "go get it from a witch" to me. (And I agree on reworking the name.)

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

David, congratulations. Last year, I'd entered a quiet little item that served as defense against a new Pathfinder mechanic, and I welcome you into this year's competition with a similar item.

I think that the push-back you're receiving about the re-lightability of the item comes from (a) the tendency in Pathfinder to write effects that work for cumulative rounds instead of uses (such as bardic performance and barbarian rage), and (b) the physical item, a candle, being relightable. Perhaps people would have voiced fewer objections if the item were a stick of incense that had to be crushed (beginning the effect) and lit.

But here's what I like about this item: it's inexpensive -- characters can be carrying it around by the time they're second level -- and it serves the purpose of making characters react to the possibility of Haunts. It makes the party feel tense -- another good reason to have them all huddled together against the darkness.

There's one other mechanics problem that I want to point out, though: the candle gives a Haunt an Initiative penalty if it attacks someone in the area of effect. But Initiative is determined before anybody acts, so the Haunt's initiative is unresolved until it decides what it's doing.

This can throw a monkey-wrench into the game. If Bob the Cleric is within the candle's area, and goes on, say, Initiative rank 7, then Haunt will act after Bob. But if Bob moves outside the effect of the candle ... can the Haunt attack immediately, before Bob, right after him, or is it stuck waiting? Here's why this is important: this is a mechanical problem unique to this item, because it makes the game rules try to do something they weren't designed to do. It feels to me as if you didn't playtest this enough.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2015

Admittedly, the name is a little on the over-the-deep-end side, but this is easily one of my favorite items for a number of reasons:

1) As a fairly low-cost item, it can be incorporated into low-level adventures that contain haunts and hopefully, by extension, elements of fantastic horror.

2) Thematically, it's a candle and it sheds blue light; deliciously creepy (if a tad cliched). ;)

3) Its short duration: The fact that time is such a limited resource adds drama (and hopefully tension) of the situation in which this would most likely be present/useful (eg. exploring abandoned mansions, etc.)

4) Most importantly, it does what all Superstar wondrous items should do: inspire. As a DM, it's already sparked ideas in my mind for several situations where the PCs might find this a helpful/spooky addition to their gear. As a player, it makes me want to play a character that uses these to investigate haunted locales.

Awesome entry, I look forward to seeing your archetype, Mr. Vigil.

Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Ernest Mueller wrote:
Should require some witch power! This item screams "go get it from a witch" to me.

This! What a great RP opportunity.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8 aka AWizardInDallas

These are my comments before reading the comments of the judges or others:

This is a nice, tight and moderately inventive item. The title is a little strange and seems not to fit well. Admittedly, I had to grab my online thesaurus, which is sorta bad during play. I'd drop the hide from undead construction requirement and use detect undead, since the candle helps notice a haunt. However, the costing is perfect since this is a minor, relatively limited-use item. Overall, this is a good entry. Sorry to say though, that it just doesn't holler superstar.

Ah, An item that plays with the haunt rules. I toyed with an idea like this early in my process, but dropped it , because it felt too niche. You really brought the idea to life.

I too voice the terminology, name and range concerns, even If i think that the low range might even improve the impact on the game, because it forces characters to cluster around the candle, moving carefully to avoid snuffing it in the wrong moment.

It still is a niche item, but the contest isn't about usability, it is about flair and your choice of a candle really brings the punch of a Superstar item.

I would suggest you re-delve into the rules, learn your terms and come back with your Archetype with the combined power of fluff and crunch.
I will certainly be there, watch you emerge.

David Vigil wrote:
Candle of Viscous Ephemera

A useful, low-cost item that provides defense against haunts. It's a niche item, but this could be very useful when you need it most. I'm actually about to run a haunt-heavy adventure, a hazard to which I haven't previously exposed my players; I think by the end of it they will be wishing they had one of these!

I'm not a fan of this one, though I do see it as being a better tiem than the one I submitted. I don't like the niche factor with it, affecting haunts, but not other undead. The name conjures images of of a candle that gives off this "plasma-like" cloud of smoke that adheres to unseen or insubstantial creatures or objects subjecting them to a faerie fire effect.

Liberty's Edge

Oh man, I'm going to come off like Negative Nancy. Oh well, here goes.

I'm not sure what about this really screamed "Superstar" to the judges. It messes with a new mechanic. OK, great. It gives a sort of fiddly bonus to noticing haunts, and then penalizes the haunt's initiative. The bonus to notice the haunt is fine, though it's not lighting my hair on fire or anything, but the initiative part is sort of circumstancial. If nobody in the party ends up with an initiative number in the 5-10 range, then this aspect of the item (half the item's functionality!) is completely out the window - it may as well have not even been there.

I don't know, this just doesn't do it for me.

I'm hoping you bring some boldness to the next round, and prove the judges right for advancing this item. I'd really like to see you do well in the competition, and I hope I haven't offended with the comments above. It's only my opinion, after all. Congratulations on making the top 32!

I'll bump the complaint about the name. Just doesn't fit with its descriptor. Did you cut some flavor text about how it works?

I tend to agree with most of the complaints here but like the idea, so I'll try a rework using my own thoughts and those of previous comments.

"When lit, this candle burns with a pale, bluish glow, shedding light as a normal candle. Its flame cannot be extinguished by any undead creature including haunts. The aura of the candle dulls the spirits that power haunts. Anyone within a 20-foot radius of the candle targeted by a haunt receives a +2 bonus on any check to notice the haunt before it manifests. If a haunt is noticed by an ally within the aura radius, the haunt will manifest on initiative 5 instead of 10. The candle burns for a total of one hour, after which it is destroyed."

I also agree that the construction spell should be Detect Undead.

Having not used haunts, let me know if I broke any rules.

Sovereign Court Dedicated Voter 2013

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

While I agree with the judges that this item doesn't seem to do much, and some errors such as size of the effect, and some game terminology issues, kinda leaves me looking at this item and not liking it...

I have to say I actually really like this item. All the negative stuff aside, to be so creative with so little words, to create an item that has such a limited effect... but can be useful for many, many low level parties...

I like it.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015 aka John Benbo

I haven't tried using "haunts" yet, but I would like to and this seems like a nice little item for the PCs to have. Congrats!

Grand Lodge

Congratulations! Well done on making the top 32.

I know that in my ROTRL campaign, the haunts gave people trouble (partially because they did not notice them and partially that, when they did notice them, they took no action to counter it).

I would be a fan of having a one shot bonus to resit said haunt versus just notice/delay it but that's why it's your item and not mine. :)

Interesting item.

It should be a perception check instead of notice check. The radius is a little too small. I'd make it a 15 ft. radius. I think that when the candle is snuffed out the remaining time should still be there rather than the item being burned out.


Working with new mechanics = good. Terminology issues = boo hiss. And if I'm dropping 700gp on an item that only works for an hour, I totally want to be able to snuff it and relight it at any fraction of that duration. Is interesting though.

Love this idea and the opportunities it gives me as a DM to roleplay with characters. I can certainly see this candle in the possession of an old witch who caters to superstitious villagers or townsfolk. Well done!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8

Congratulations on making the Top 32!

There are some really nice ideas here, my favourite being the initiative penalty the light imposes. The concept is great but as a one-shot item, for a niche situation, it has some heavy limitations. If character's are going to invest in it, it should do more than a simple +2 to checks.

Still, I like that you tackled haunts - it is good to see the new stuff being produced getting some attention.

Great Item!

Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Marathon Voter 2015

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Congratulations on being a superstar!

This is one of those unusual not sure items for me.

I found it was perhaps a little too limited for my tastes.

Targetting haunts was original but if you arent using them in your game, it becomes a bit of a "meh" item. Maybe if the light affected all undead in the same radius with a penalty to attacks or somesuch would have made it of more immediate and universal appeal.

I appreciate it's a balancing act but for me this one is just a little too much limitation. Again, thats just personal preference though.

I would have formatted it slightly more in the description, adding a paragraph break so that the usage was separated out from the mechanics to aide readability, but other than that, this was very well written. A nice balance between flavour and mechanics.

The name seemed a bit incongrous with the effect - I dont see anything Vicious about early warning systems, but that just might be me.


Note to all participants: The final score is a factor into who I vote for, but so is how much I like an item (my personal preferences and tastes). So dont assume I am voting for my highest scoring items only.

Name: 7/10
Sorry, for me it didnt quite work but I could see you were trying hard to invoke an emotive reaction to the name, so kudos for that.

Description: 9/10
Not too much flavour, rules were tight, in general this bit was very good. Just formatting for readability lost you a mark here.

Construction: 8/10
I would have expected something like "alarm" rather than "hide from undead" as the spell component, nit picking I know but I havent yet given a 10 to anyone :P

Final score: 24/30 - well done.

A very good entry, I hope the feedback is useful.

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

David, welcome aboard! I think that while this item's mechanics are not terribly noteworthy, the design space that you chose here shows off your creative potential. I am actually quite impressed with your decision to work with the haunt rules, and your item holds together thematically. Make sure to get your terminology more precise, and kick up the wow factor for next round. But keep looking at those corner areas of the rules... there's a lot of interesting stuff to work with out there! Best of luck going forward.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8 aka AWizardInDallas

Eric Bailey wrote:
I think that while this item's mechanics are not terribly noteworthy, the design space that you chose here shows off your creative potential.

This item would be cooler and have broader appeal it it were upgraded to a torch and then could help (in a very minor way) with more than haunts--ghosts, spectres and other incorporeal undead. I agree with Eric that you do show some creative promise though. :)

David Vigil wrote:
Candle of Viscous Ephemera

I'll be honest. There must be something special about this that I just don't see. It seems like such a specific item with such a limited use, I'm just not sure why it meets "Superstar" quality.

That said, it seems like a solid good item. I think it's well done and well conceived.

Congratulations on making it to the next round and good luck sir :)


RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 aka The Leaping Gnome

Hmm… I'm not very familiar with haunts (is that in the Game Mastery Guide?) but it seems like this should give a save bonus or something.

Cool idea though.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013

I haven't used haunts yet, but I like the idea of having an item handy to help in dealing with them. Has a Supernatural the TV show feel to it.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 aka Vigil

Well, since other contestants are commenting on their items, I guess it's safe to do so.

Firstly, I didn't make up nomenclature.

PRD wrote:
When a haunt is triggered, its effects manifest at initiative rank 10 in a surprise round. All characters in the haunt's proximity can attempt to notice the haunt at the start of this surprise round by making a notice check.

It's called a notice check because it's not always a perception check to notice a haunt manifesting.

Second, I chose hide from dead because that spell can be used against haunts.

PRD wrote:
All haunts detect life sources and trigger as a result of the approach of or contact with living creatures, but some haunts can be tricked by effects like hide from undead or invisibility.

I priced the item as high as I did to make it comparable to four potions of hide from undead created at caster level 6th, long enough to last for an hour. The candle is still a discount, actually. As a DM, I want those haunts to manifest. In retrospect, I should have made it unable to be extinguished once lit, functioning in vacuums or underwater, but not creating any heat or able to start a fire.

Thank you everyone for all of the feedback, and keep it coming! I promise at the very least to use a less fancy title for my archetype!

Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Marathon Voter 2015

Congratulations David!
Strength (Overall): 12
Dexterity (see time in my campaign): 10
Constitution (long-time keeper): 12
Intelligence (mechanics): 14
Wisdom (writing craft): 12
Charisma (flavor/visuals): 12

Nice choice with haunts. Very unique to the system, but not to the genre. However this did remind of the previous RPG items (torch and lantern) for undead, just modified for haunts. Mechanically it is not strong, 5', one-shot, need to notice the need for the candle, but I struggled with 'notice' check when I read that too so remember the words. One hour seems perfect for an item that will help against haunts too. My apologies for being such a slow reader and not getting you feedback sooner. Again, congratulations! :)

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013 aka Shadow-Mask

This is a spiffy little item that adds some emotionality to the sterotypical "go in, clean up, take stuff." The imagery evoked is classic. A group of teenagers sneak into the abandoned house no one else of their acquaintance will enter. It's probably done on a dare. They are all huddled around the small, isolated light in the hopes it will save them from what lurks in the darkness. I like it. :)

David Vigil wrote:

Candle of Viscous Ephemera

Aura faint necromancy; CL 6th
Slot --; Price 700 gp; Weight 1/2 lbs.
When lit, this candle burns with a pale, bluish glow, shedding light as a normal candle. While the glow has no effect on true undead, the candle light dulls the spirits that power haunts. Anyone within a 5-foot radius of the candle targeted by a haunt receives a +2 bonus on their notice check to notice the haunt before it manifests. Furthermore, if a haunt targets anyone within a 5-foot radius of the candle, the haunt manifests on initiative rank 5 instead of 10. The candle burns for one hour, after which it is destroyed. If the candle is snuffed before that time, the effect is canceled and the candle ruined.
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, hide from undead; Cost 350 gp


Ask A RPGSuperstar Succubus is posting from the point of view of a CE aligned succubus – fairness is an adjective applicable to hair coloration, balance is what a couple of mortals on opposite ends of a plank pivoted on a rocky spire above a drop of several hundred feet into a pool of molten basalt frantically try to do, and logic is something which proves anything a demon of adequate status and charm requires it to demonstrate.

Is the item Pretty?
It's functional, but not pretty. The bluish light offers certain interesting possibilities though.

Does the item help a demonic seductress to keep a paladin house pet?
Yes, if you happen to be residing in a haunted house at the time, and the paladin needs keeping safe.

Is the item otherwise useful?
See below.

Other Comments? (including World Domination potential on the evil laughter scale, where appropriate)
This is your basic dinner-table lighting for a late evening supper at a haunted house. At seven hundred gold pieces a candle though, it's rather pricy illumination, and you're not going to be holding that sort of event very often. On top of that the candles don't even last past an hour, so you're going to have quasit servants flapping round all the time replacing them.

Gollum Rating:
Little interest.

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

I like the thinking that went into your item. I'm a fan of the haunt rules and could see using these candles for an adventure focusing on a haunted location. These candles would cetainly add an interesting thematic touch. Very good opportunity to add some spooky flavoring to a haunt encounter.

Best of luck! I'm looking forward to your archetype submission.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013

While I am not familiar with haunts, this item seems generally under powered. A 5 foot radius is small, only four squares, so if a party has an animal companion or five members someone gets left out in the cold. This is assuming that the PCs will bunch together like this at all, my players often too fearful of area effects to risk it. Having the effect ruined if it goes out seems like a waste to me, and not worth the bother of buying one in the first place. If I buy a consumable item, I want to know I'm getting my money's worth, a potion of hide from undead is always going to work for me.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Gamer Girrl

Ohhhh ... my players are going to WANT this one :) I'm running Crimson Throne, and my husband just finished running us through The Skinsaw Murders of Runelords, and we'ld have KILLED for these in that damned house! LOL! Nice item to tie to the Haunts :)

Cool item. I added it into my Carrion Crown adventure path.

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