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RPG Superstar 2015

Iron Collar of the Unbound Coven


Round 1 - Open Call: Create a Wondrous Item

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

Iron Collar of the Unbound Coven
Aura moderate transmutation; CL 11th
Slot neck; Price 45,920 gp; Weight 2 lbs.
Description
These grotesque items are prized by good-aligned witches, or any witch who is eager to form a coven but would rather avoid associating with one or more evil hags. The collar is a crude band of iron from which hang the fist-sized shrunken heads of three hags (annis, green hag, and sea hag). The heads remain semi-animate—they occasionally twitch, blink, coo softly, or whisper curses at the wearer, each other, or anyone else nearby. A witch with the coven hex who wears the collar gains access to the following powers:
Champion of the Unbound Coven: If the wearer joins a coven, the coven can ignore the requirement to have at least one hag as a member. Each of the coven members must still have the coven hex, and one of the members must be at least a 9th level witch.
Dreadful Gaze: Three times per day as a swift action, the wearer can command the hags’ heads to lock their terrible gazes on a single humanoid within 30 feet. The target of this gaze attack must make a DC 15 Will save or become paralyzed with terror and suffer the effects of the hold person spell. This is a mind-affecting fear effect.
Hag Form: Once per day as a standard action, the wearer can assume the form of a powerfully built medium-sized crone that resembles the horrific union of an annis, green hag, and sea hag. This metamorphosis is identical to the transformation spell, including the violent change to the wearer’s mind-set and the loss of spellcasting ability.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, Craft (head shrinking), alter self, hold person, transformation, coven hex; Cost 22,960 gp

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

I really like this one...

The item bends the rules on witches with the coven hex restriction that still needs an actual hag to form a coven. And, though that will allow the witches access to the cooperative magic of a coven, at this price that might be okay, particularly by keeping the level restriction. I'd like to hear Sean's take on it from a game balance perspective, though.

Also, I think the other abilities provided by the three shrunken hags' heads are flavorful enough to overlook the SIAC/SAK aspects. I like the thinking that went into this item. I'd love to see what this designer could do in future rounds.

Let's Keep it around.

CEO, Goblinworks

Concur with Neil.

RyanD

Contributor

It's okay to round off an item's price to a nice even number like 46,000 gp... that 80 gp is less than 1% of the item's price and it makes everything so much cleaner.

Craft (head shrinking)? Don't invent new skills, even if they're Craft skills, as it leads to weirdness in PCs suddenly having to dump ranks into a skill they've never heard of. Something like Craft (leather) would have been fine for this. (Also, Craft subskills are nouns, not verbs: leather, glass, stonemasonry, and so on.)

I really don't see good witches "prizing" wearing an item with shrunken heads of evil hags dangling from her neck.

That said, the hagless-coven bit is smart, the hold person bit makes sense, the heads mumbling to each other is creepy, and the transformation bit is freaky and neat.

Keep!

Paizo Employee Developer

This one screams Superstar to me. The designer managed to make a SAK and class-ability-in-a-can item that overcomes all the pitfalls of both types of item. The mechanics seem to be well-reasoned and explained. The Craft (head shrinking) is the only element on here I'd change. Not only is that not a real Craft, but it should have a rank requirement.

In any case: Keep! Keep! Keep!

Seeing this really makes me want to see what this designer can do with an archetype!

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

I like the irony of this item. The collar that denotes slavery freeing a witch from needing to associate with hags. But, like Sean, I don't think "prizing" is the right word for what good-aligned people feel towards unliving shrunken heads, regardless of their usefulness and creepy-cool conversation.

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

This is very specific, but also very cool. An iron collar with shrunken hag heads on it, definitely got the style going on, especially when they animate and do disturbing stuff. It is also incredibly expensive, a once a day transformation spell and gaining coven powers will do that. I’m going to have trouble convincing people I’m a good aligned witch with this around my neck, but hey I guess my witch character would turn and say, “you should see what the evil witches look like where I come from!” :-)

I also enjoyed the subtle irony of an unbound iron collar.

Welcome to the ranks of RPG Superstar! The only thing I can offer is make sure not to overkill your ideas, the Craft (head shrinking) wasn’t needed. But don’t dial back the mojo, keep bringing that! Best of luck!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Bravo! Definite Superstar material here.

There’s only nitpicks to be had on this one, and they’ve been covered by the other judges. This item could be fixed in minutes.

And the moment I read the coven hex I thought good witches were kinda screwed, and you have very cleverly addressed that.

I am going to be brief, but not from lack of love, but because you just don’t need them. You’ve put a spell on me!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

WELCOME BACK TO THUNDERDOME!

Good job Tom! Loved it!

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

Back to back! Congratulations!

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

Thank you, judges!

I'm humbled and honored to be back. I'll try to keep the mojo goin'. Now, please excuse me. I'm off to conjure up an archetype!

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

Likewise, Tom! Glad to see a member of the 2010 Old Guard again!

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

Wearing three shrunken heads around your neck. Too freaky for words :) Especially since they're chatty.

Star Voter 2015

I really like this one -- just wish it wasn't so... ugly!

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

Creepy as all get out, mechanically sound, and fun to use? Golden.


Awesome!
Cool and it works.


Great job!
I agree that wearing shriveled heads isn`t typical Good taste, but the rest of the abilities tie into the actual Hag connection. It could have been done as simply enabling Good Covens, possibly with a Good-Aligned Monster origin/blessing, but that would be a different item.
I think the DC for Dreadful Gaze is too low... and I would like to see other specific abilities for Hag Form, e.g. the actual special abilities that each Hag type has (possibly selecting one of the Hag types).

Also, since you have the Hag heads, does the Coven gain access to the spells that Hag Covens normally have access too?

Anyhow, nice flavor, subtle expansion of a new class ability, all around good work...
Good luck for the rest of the contest!


I haven't read anything about the witch class, but this item is cool.

I'd prefer not to see you say "these grotesque items". Your description gives the item a grotesque image. You don't need to tell me that it's grotesque.

I love the flavorful description of the item.


When I saw the list of the 32 contestants, I recognized yours right away. "Betcha Tom will have something gruesome." And you did not disappoint. I am worried that some may notice that you tend to follow a certain pattern as if you had a niche, but there are other contributors out there that are known for staying within a certain niche that is similar to what you bring to the table ... and we like the creepiness! =)

I am curious if you're going to have a similar vibe going into an archetype for round two. I'd be somewhat disappointed if you didn't! Bring it! \m/

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

Tom, welcome (back) to RPG Superstar! First, I really like that this item plays to a very specific niche. Not only is it a neat item, it gives a player a reason to re-examine the coven hex, which might not have been an appealing choice at first glance. You hit its thematic elements all very nicely. If I could offer one quibble, it'd be about the 3/day activation of Hold Person. It would make more thematic sense (to me) to have this power work like a hex, usable as often as the witch requires but only ever affecting one specific target per day. Other than that, for an ultra-specific item, this one's a lot of fun.

Contributor

This is one of my favorites, and the muttering, sometimes animated heads are what do it for me. I adore that effect. I would use this for a character even if it had no other additional properties. The granted abilities are gravy, and yummy gravy too.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

I love how still-super-creepy this is, even for 'good witches' (like Matt Goodall said, "you should see what the evil ones are like!"). Good witches shouldn't necessarily lose the creep-factor completely; they're still witches!

Great item man, and welcome back into the fray.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Using transformation to assume a form superficially resembling the hag races is a great design choice, rather than trying to assume some monstrous form through some sort of polymorphing ability.

The best of the lot this year address gaps or weaknesses in new Pathfinder game mechanics. I would have never suspected that the association of hags with covens was a weakness that a magic item could so effectively bypass.

Wicked clever, Tom.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Todd Stewart wrote:
This is one of my favorites, and the muttering, sometimes animated heads are what do it for me. I adore that effect. I would use this for a character even if it had no other additional properties. The granted abilities are gravy, and yummy gravy too.

ha yes!

This is awesome. It's just a great item. It adds something new to the game, adds a ton of flavor and story, and fills a gap in the witch class. This is a really rocking item. Congrats! And good work making it back again this year.

Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

Very, very cool and creepy item Tom.

It is one of my clear favorites in this year's Top 32.

Looking forward to what you'll have in store for the Archetype round.

~Dean


A little too gruesome an item for a good-aligned character to 'prize' in my book. However, with it being an item targeted toward the Witch, they're idea of good could quite possibly be to avoid Hags at all costs. All in all, a nice item. Very well thought out. Good luck in Round 2!!


Tom Phillips wrote:
Iron Collar of the Unbound Coven

Once more, I'm +1'ing Eric Bailey on the observation that this gives a non-evil witch a reason to pick the coven hex. I currently play a TN witch, and an item like this would have made me reconsider some of my hex choices.

The flavor is good, and you created something that jiggers with a relatively new aspect of game play by making an item especially for an APG base class. I dunno if I'd put this in my top 5 for this round, but it's definitely light years ahead of some of the competition in my estimation.

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

While I've not dived into the APG classes yet, I like this item. It reminds me of the hand already in the CRPG book, and, if you look at the witch as someone 'dealing' with an outsider, I could see this being created as a way to 'get around' the hex's limitations and their origin.

Player: Hmm, I think I'll take the coven Hex, and make one of these.
In world:
Hah! I the being you have the pact will will give you this hex that forces you to work with evil mwahahahaha!
Character: *grabs an axe* Come on Mittens, time to go head hunting.

This, like the Ampoule, allows a PC to play one of the "icky types trying to redeam themselves" without the angst and with real, clearly defined goals.

(that, and as a DM, I'd enjoy making the heads make inoportune comments sometimes)


Hi Tom, welcome back to the contest.
A gross-y item from you? I'd suspect no less ;)

I really like this item. Mostly because when reading the witch I thought: "So, you have to be evil to join a coven ? Sad."
so your item does me and all who thought like me a great favor.
I don't think that gross item + good character is a disconnect. At least not for witches. Witches are about frogs, warts, poisons, skulls and disgusting things, including shrink heads. Witches know that disgusting != evil and know whats necessary. (PS: I love Pratchett's little witch, and while she would be annoyed by having to tot around a talking head she would do so if necessary.)

Great work man. Waiting to see your archetype. ( and wouldn't be sad if you showed that you can do non gross, non edgy stuff too :) )

Scarab Sages

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

I love this item. If the general public were allowed to vote, I would have voted for this.

As for what the judges say about the Craft (head shrinking), here is what the Core Rulebook says: You are skilled in the creation of a specific group of items, such as armor or weapons. Like Knowledge, Perform, and Profession, Craft is actually a number of separate skills.
You could have several Craft skills, each with its own ranks. The most common Craft skills are alchemy, armor, baskets, books, bows, calligraphy, carpentry, cloth, clothing, glass, jewelry, leather, locks, paintings, pottery, sculptures, ships, shoes, stonemasonry, traps, and weapons. A Craft skill is specifically focused on creating something.
It doesn't say you are limited to only the skills listed.

Just because a person knows how to turn an animal skin into leather, does not mean they would have the ability to do taxidermy. That requires extra skills. In this case, I would say a person needs Craft (leather) and Craft (head shrinking).


Tom Phillips wrote:

Iron Collar of the Unbound Coven

Aura moderate transmutation; CL 11th
Slot neck; Price 45,920 gp; Weight 2 lbs.
Description
These grotesque items are prized by good-aligned witches, or any witch who is eager to form a coven but would rather avoid associating with one or more evil hags. The collar is a crude band of iron from which hang the fist-sized shrunken heads of three hags (annis, green hag, and sea hag). The heads remain semi-animate—they occasionally twitch, blink, coo softly, or whisper curses at the wearer, each other, or anyone else nearby. A witch with the coven hex who wears the collar gains access to the following powers:
Champion of the Unbound Coven: If the wearer joins a coven, the coven can ignore the requirement to have at least one hag as a member. Each of the coven members must still have the coven hex, and one of the members must be at least a 9th level witch.
Dreadful Gaze: Three times per day as a swift action, the wearer can command the hags’ heads to lock their terrible gazes on a single humanoid within 30 feet. The target of this gaze attack must make a DC 15 Will save or become paralyzed with terror and suffer the effects of the hold person spell. This is a mind-affecting fear effect.
Hag Form: Once per day as a standard action, the wearer can assume the form of a powerfully built medium-sized crone that resembles the horrific union of an annis, green hag, and sea hag. This metamorphosis is identical to the transformation spell, including the violent change to the wearer’s mind-set and the loss of spellcasting ability.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, Craft (head shrinking), alter self, hold person, transformation, coven hex; Cost 22,960 gp

Disclaimer:

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 a bit garish, but there are some social situations where wearing one of these wouldn't look completely out of place.

Does the item help a demonic seductress to keep a paladin house pet?
Maybe. (See other comments, below).

Is the item otherwise useful?
Probably not.

Other Comments? (including World Domination potential on the evil laughter scale, where appropriate)
This item's powers can only be activated by a succubus who practises witchcraft or who happens to be really good at coaxing magic items to function irrespective of any more usual training in the utilization of devices. Otherwise the heads just hang there and drool and mumble, which is the sort of thing in an accessory which comes into and goes out of fashion. You get a decade where every demon, qlippoth, or halfway sentient larva is wearing shrunken heads to social events and then several hundred years where nobody apart from a few pugilistic types who believe it makes them look 'hard' is doing it.
Now, on the subject of the item's value as anything other than a fashion statement, the powers are somewhat restricted in usefulness. The witch-coven power is only useful to a succubus who wants to lead a witch-coven (although succubi are naturally good leaders when it comes to inspiring mortals, and should obviously be in charge), the scary gaze which freezes someone in place with terror is an interesting trick (though it could do with reflecting the personal power and personality of the wearer too), and I'm not sure what to make of the transformational power at all. Succubi (apart from a few really rather eccentric ones) prefer to stay out of direct violent confrontations, or at least ones where their lives might be at any personal risk, but there are some games where it might come in handy - though the duration of the effect really doesn't leave much time to get anything done. It lasts barely a minute. It needs to be longer. Much longer.
Overall, it looks like one of those things you leave hanging up over a gutter (to catch the drool) at the back of your wardrobe for when one of those eras come around when this sort of things is fashionable again and you have to have one.

Gollum Rating:
Fisssh.

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

I like this item because of the shrunken hag heads. Allowing covens without hags is interesting and I could see hags hunting down witches known to have this item. Although I could see a good witch not liking the heads so much.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Charles Dunwoody wrote:
I like this item because of the shrunken hag heads. Allowing covens without hags is interesting and I could see hags hunting down witches known to have this item. Although I could see a good witch not liking the heads so much.

I like this one too. One of my favorite books "Wyvern" by A.A.Attanasio has a very detailed sequence describing the method of head shrinking to create magical Amulets by a shaman. Well researched prose that sheds light on the "craft:shrunken head" skill......

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

I like this item as well. I'm not very familiar with the witch class since the APG arrived here shortly before RPGSuperstar began. Like Azmahel, I was disappointed that associating with hags was a requisite piece of the coven hex, and I appreciate the outside the box thinking this item required.

Congratulations, and I am curious about what kind of archetype you created.

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

Out of all the items, this is the one I most would like to see some art for! Can you imagine actually wearing this thing when you go into town? Great item and congrats!

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Bats Kabber

This one has lots of flavor and imagery. I'm looking forward to your archetype.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka surfbored

An excellent entry to be certain. I didn't read all of the other comments, so I may be repeating things here, but since it's all complementary, it bears repeating...

Starting off with "These grotesque items" grabbed my attention right away. Then, you have to wear it around your neck?!? And it only gets better from there. My favorite part though, is easily the muttering of the heads; this oozes creativity and offers so many opportunities for role-playing that I will have to figure out a way to put it into my campaign for sure. It doesn't even need the last two abilities, in my book.

Some reviewers objected to the term "prized", but I could see that. Shrunken heads are the lesser of two evils by far.

Even the name is great. Top 5, maybe top 3?

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013

This item awesome. I haven't really had much time to read over the witch class, so I can't really comment on it's utility in that regard. What I can tell you is that the flavour is amazing. The tone of the item, as well as it's visual effects are perfect. With regards to witchery though, I'd be concerned with how often the items coven ability would come into play for PCs. As a PC, the witch is very much an individual. It seems that unless a party has three witches(which could happen) then a PC wishing to use the item in this way would need two NPC or follower witches to team-up with. This unfortunately seems unlikely enough for me to see the items primary effect as secondary, and visa versa. Not bad, just mis-emphasized. Still excellently written and conceived.

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