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RPG Superstar 2015

Singing Bowl of Redoubled Clarity


Round 1 - Open Call: Create a Wondrous Item

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DankeSean

Singing Bowl of Redoubled Clarity
Aura moderate transmutation; CL 5th
Slot -; Price 17,000 gp; Weight 4 lbs.
Description
This small, unadorned bronze bowl is accompanied by a leather wrapped mallet. When set upon a solid surface and the mallet drawn around the rim, the bowl resonates with a pleasant, multitoned hum, conducive to meditation. A monk who sounds the bowl for an uninterrupted minute can expend a ki point, storing it within the bowl. A bowl only holds one point at a time. A filled bowl looks no different, but continues to softly hum as long as it holds ki, causing a -2 penalty to stealth checks by the bearer.
As a move action, a filled bowl may be struck like a bell by the mallet, producing a clear chime. The bowl empties of ki, which returns to the monk who stored it if he is within 30'; otherwise it dissipates. This ki is enhanced by its time in the bowl and returns as two points. They remain separate from the monk's ki pool and may not be combined with or spent in the same action as regular pool points. They may otherwise be spent as normal, but must be used within one minute of the bowl being struck or be lost. Abilities powered using this ki are faster than normal: standard actions become move actions, move actions become swift, and swift become immediate. Full-round and immediate actions are unaffected.
A bowl may store ki three times per day; unused stored ki dissipates after 8 hours. A bowl within an area of magical silence cannot be sounded to either store or retrieve ki, though any currently within it is not lost.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, ghost sound, haste, owl's wisdom; Cost 8,500 gp

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Using ki points to speed up your actions? Even a haste spell can't do this for all types of standard and move actions. I think that's too open-ended and game-breaking. Clearly, they're trying to be innovative here. We don't have all that many ki-powered items in the game. And the action-acceleration mechanic is something entirely new. Just not in a good way.

That said, they did a really good job on using the template and presenting their information (though it should be "30 feet" rather than "...30'..."). I just find it a little odd to imagine a monk carrying around a bowl that's constantly humming until he strikes it with the mallet to boost his actions. Does he have to hold it in his hand? Or can he keep the "singing" bowl in his pack to be retrieved later? Also, a -2 penalty to Stealth checks seems a little low...but I guess it depends on how loud the "singing" is actually meant to be.

Anyway, I'm going to vote to Reject for now, unless one of you guys can convince me otherwise.

Paizo Employee Developer

As a huge monk fan, I have to say I want to see this one kept around just for its use of ki. Considering Asian-themed adventures are coming, it won't just be monks using ki for much longer, either.

That said, I'm not big on some of the mechanical choices here, along the same lines as Neil's post above. The action cost reduction on this means that a monk can move and flurry in the same round, and expend an extra ki point to get one more attack. Pretty powerful indeed! Another concern though, is the bit about it being held separate from a monk's regular ki pool. There's already extra bookkeeping for a monk player when dealing with their ki points, and this just complicates it further. A more elegant solution could be found with a little more thought.

All things considered, I like the item and think it shows innovation, even if the designer should probably reign it in a bit. I'm most impressed by the attention to detail in italicizing ki, which many players and designers overlook.

Weak keep from me.

Contributor

I'm really hesitant about the "speeding up actions" part of it, but props to the designer for making something about ki. The preparation aspect and time limit of using the doubled ki is really limiting this item utility, but I think we should keep them for now.

Keep!

CEO, Goblinworks

I researched Ki powers. My vote is keep.

I was biased towards reject because this item requires the GM to be on the ball. They have to know that the bowl is charged. That charge may have a negative effect - and the Player is not likely to continuously remind the GM of the effect. (Or you stuff it into a Bag of Holding, in which case the buzzing is just pointless fluff).

The GM also has to be aware of when the bonus ki gets used. Its going to be very easy for a GM and a Player to "forget" that the bowl was used - especially if the Monk does something like "always use the bowl after use" (it can be used 3 times per day).

There's a certain kind of player who will always have a bonus ki when needed and the recordkeeping will be "vague". And that player isn't going to say boo about the humming in the event that it would have been meaningful. Shifting that much responsibility to the GM for a minor item is probably not a great idea.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

I agree with you, Ryan. This is a borderline item for me. It makes the Top 32, but only barely, in my opinion. I think the designer is playing around in an area that could be seen as innovative and creative. I'm just not sure they tightened down everything yet. But, none of these designers are Superstars already. They're really going to have to demonstrate that over the entire course of the contest. And I like where this designer went. It's a ballsy choice to create an item like this...now lets see how far it takes them.

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

What?! No Perform (percussion instruments) check DC? I do like Perform checks to go along with my magical musical instruments...

I think the sped-up action thing is not referring to any action, just the bonus ki actions a monk can perform (+4 dodge bonus to AC for 1 round, increase speed by 20 feet for 1 round, high jump, empty body, and such).

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

It’s certainly thematic for a monk item and it helps with one of the monk’s issues, the limited ki pool. ‘Multi-toned’ needs a hyphen. You are a little overly wordy about returning the ki point: you put one ki point in, you get two points out. I like that these special ki points can do something unusual and again it’s thematic, that accelerated timeframe thing you see in martial arts movies. I also like that you can have someone else ring the bowl for you.

But looking closer, how this acceleration actually works is unclear. What ki powers can I actually use it with? Unless I’m misreading, the only core rulebook monk class abilities I can use with it are to heal myself as a move action with Wholeness of Body, or dimension door as a swift action with Abundant Step. The problem is, even though either of these are unbalanced, every new monk ki power that people design in the future has to be checked to make sure that it can’t be broken with this item.

You were close to the 300 word limit. I felt that you could reword and reorder some sentences to bring that down and make things clearer. I would have liked to have seen more explanation on the action acceleration and less on the ki storing. This is definitive monk stuff, I enjoyed the concept with this one and you stuck to your theme.

Welcome to the ranks of RPG Superstar! Tighten your writing and hit us with a clear and stylish creation in Round 2. Best of luck!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

I feel more cautious about this one. Perhaps more than any other item I've reviewed. Not because it's not stylish and cool sounding, but because I want to see it actually play-tested. I want to see the rule synergies in action to see if it breaks the game, or skews it badly.

I applaud that you're trying something really innovative.

Admission, I'm just not sure here. I don't always like to take another judge's word on anything, rather I like to look things up and see for myself. You can't spend these ki in the same round as your normal points, and you only have 2 to work with.. SO we're talking one or two really dynamic combat rounds? Is that so bad? But reading further...

Basically it only holds one charge (equally 2 points), no more, and it takes a minute to recharge. Matt has made some good remarks about the actual actions that are in the Core rulebook. Hmmm.

When it comes right down to it, I want to play with this to make sure it's not broken first. And unfortunately, if I want or have to do that, it detracts from its potential Superstar quality.

Otherwise, I think the item is well written and the author has covered many issues (like silence that I would be looking for. I've actually seen meditation bowls like this, not that I am a martial arts aficionado, so that is kinda neat for me as well.

I like it, but I just have some concerns. That being said, welcome to the Top 32! I look forward to your archetype and hope that the creativity you've shown here rings true in the later rounds!

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

Back to back! Congratulations!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

WELCOME BACK TO THUNDERDOME!

Hey, I wanted to add, you made it. Twice. You should be proud. I'm proud of you. You're in and that's what is really important.

Can't wait for what you cook up next round.

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

Welcome back, Sean! ;-)


gratz, I like this item, my item was also a monk item that had a ki based ability.

Dedicated Voter 2013

Congratulations on making the list!

I really like the speeding-up effect. Most monks able to afford a 17.000 gp item could use something that allows a few REAL power-rounds next to their powerhouse fighter friends.

That said, in my humble opinion the theme and effect of this item clash a bit. While the meditation theme is cool and fits the class, (and Neil mentioned this somewhere) I just don't see my monk carrying around a bowl and mallet just before whipping out the crazy martial action! Something nifty and wearable with less activation fluff would have done it for me, a circlet perhaps?

Anyway, nice, easily read language, and definitely a great idea. Well played.

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

I'm not really sure what to think about the special ki ability, to be honest. I like the item as a whole, and it's easy to understand, but I'm not really sure how well it would work in the long run.

Star Voter 2013

I had to read the item a few times before I realized it took a minute to activate the charging of it, and then it was a little better - I thought you could just buff yourself with six points of Ki from this, and that would have been crazy.

Realizing what I do now, the item is pretty neat. I don't really see why the bowl is a bowl instead of an instrument or something, but that's okay.

One thing I ask is, what happens if the mallet gets separated, does the item become worthless, or is the mallet just fluff and can be replaced?

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DankeSean

Wow! I have done an absolutely amazing job over the past month convincing myself that there was NO CHANCE I'd make it in. Partly for the same reasons the judges were iffy on my item, partly due to pure lack of self-confidence, and partly just to soften the inevitable blow. So this is absolutely amazing.

Reading the judges comments, I clearly lucked out/dodged a small army's worth of bullets, so I just want to express my gratitude to them for letting me through regardless of reservations. I appreciate the second chance and aim to do my best to live up to it. Regarding the reservations and questions about the item: all I can say right now is, trust me, I thought this through and saw a lot of the mentioned potential issues. I have a whole slew of (hopefully) well-reasoned justifications (or, from an alternate perspective, sniveling excuses) to my thought process here which I fully intend to share once I a) am less jittery with excitement and b) have gotten my archetype down to at least a semifinished state.

I cannot believe I get another shot at this.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Sean McGowan wrote:
I cannot believe I get another shot at this.

Just make sure you make the most of it. You were one and done last year, but you're a year wiser this go-around. Of all the judges, I think I had the most reservations about this one. I'd like to see you do an archetype that restores my faith. So, let's see what you've got for us!


I don't know much about monks and their ki points, but this seems like a neat item.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

My mental image of this bowl is of a scene where boorish thugs break into a monk's training ground (classic film image) and the monk takes down the thugs with ease.

As the thugs were breaking down the door the monk started the bowl humming: how enigmatic!

When the thug's leader faces-off with the monk they fight and it is a fairly even contest until the monk's young apprentice taps the bowl with the hammer.

Cue chime, followed by awesome death move from monk, followed by profound silence.

mint.

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

Cue rejiggering impulse for me. The kernel of this item I like a lot: a way to store a small ki reservoir. I'd probably turn it on its head. Burn two ki to store one, keep the whole faint humming thing, let it store it longer and be triggered mentally rather than by hitting the bowl again. Maybe even give you a benefit when you siphon that stored ki point back. But I'd throw out the ki doubling, the acceleration, etc, all which seem to complicated for this reader. Still, it is evocative, I can see why it made it based on that.

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

Sean, welcome back to Superstar! Like others, I applaud your innovation and that you went for the monk in choosing a design focus. You had me all the way up until the accelerated actions part. I love that the bowl splits ki harmonically; as a musician, it's very creatively appealing. If you had developed a new use for ki points based on this theme, rather than tweaking existing powers, I would be more enthusiastic about the item as a whole. However, your inclusion of what happens in a silence effect brings me back, and I am greatly looking forward to seeing your future work!


I'm on the fence with this one. Mainly because compared to the Mediation Beads of the Flaming Fist, while functionally different, I think the beads are a much more solid item, with the extension of ki points mechanic. However, it is a very nicely themed item. Even though I am on the fence, it is still a Superstar item.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Congrats Sean! Back-to-back is something to be really proud of.

I think you chose a smart area to expand upon with ki points. I'm looking forward to seeing what you'll bring to the game with your archetype. Well done!

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

Feh, back to back isn't much to boast about, any old fool can do it. ;-)

Now back to seriousness. The two ki are isolated (much like the cognizance crystals) and that in and of itself limits the effectiveness. The levels these come in it's not going to be *that* unbalancing, since they have to be used in one minute, and *someone* has to hit the bowl (which should be a bit more than a -2 to stealth)

Orcs behind the door: I think someone's making a perception check on the other side, but I failed mine so I'm not sure.
*BONG!*
Obtd: What? When did we install a doorbell? Aw crap!
*Party busts in, slaughter begins*

Liberty's Edge

[MusicMajorNitpick] The actual best term for "multitoned" is polyphonic. Multi-toned probably works too, but it's not the "best" term.[/MusicMajorNitpick]

Other than that, I like this. Better than the Prayer Beads, because I (as the Big Dumb Fighter) am not sitting around for hours on end waiting for you to use this item. It explores a design space that is underpopulated, and does so without annyong me (the BDF). That deserves to be rewarded, and hey! It has been.

Congrats on making the top 32! You've got the chance of a lifetime (again), here's hoping you make the best of it!

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

Forum Five for giving monks more Ki!!
*slap*

Like most of the other folks, I got lost on the speed up part. But the Ki storing ability more than makes up for it. I love giving monks a way to store Ki that would otherwise go to waste. (like unused spells - where do they go at the end of the day?)

If your thought process was anything like mine, you designed a way to store Ki, read it back a few times, liked it and then said "This just isn't Superstar enough. I've got to add that little something extra."

Well done.


Hi Sean. It's great to see you back. I liked what you did the first time around, just don't drop out so fast this time. ok?

Your item doesn't wow me too much, i like what it does and how it does it. Like many others I think the action-speed up was a bad idea, but aside from that it seems like a well thought out and neatly designed item. I'm just missing the Wow- factor, something that sets this apart from everything else.

Try to step up a bit more for your archetype so that I can root for you with full force :)


Sean McGowan wrote:

Singing Bowl of Redoubled Clarity

Aura moderate transmutation; CL 5th
Slot -; Price 17,000 gp; Weight 4 lbs.
Description
This small, unadorned bronze bowl is accompanied by a leather wrapped mallet. When set upon a solid surface and the mallet drawn around the rim, the bowl resonates with a pleasant, multitoned hum, conducive to meditation. A monk who sounds the bowl for an uninterrupted minute can expend a ki point, storing it within the bowl. A bowl only holds one point at a time. A filled bowl looks no different, but continues to softly hum as long as it holds ki, causing a -2 penalty to stealth checks by the bearer.
As a move action, a filled bowl may be struck like a bell by the mallet, producing a clear chime. The bowl empties of ki, which returns to the monk who stored it if he is within 30'; otherwise it dissipates. This ki is enhanced by its time in the bowl and returns as two points. They remain separate from the monk's ki pool and may not be combined with or spent in the same action as regular pool points. They may otherwise be spent as normal, but must be used within one minute of the bowl being struck or be lost. Abilities powered using this ki are faster than normal: standard actions become move actions, move actions become swift, and swift become immediate. Full-round and immediate actions are unaffected.
A bowl may store ki three times per day; unused stored ki dissipates after 8 hours. A bowl within an area of magical silence cannot be sounded to either store or retrieve ki, though any currently within it is not lost.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, ghost sound, haste, owl's wisdom; Cost 8,500 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?
No. Whilst bronze, it is unadorned.

Does the item help a demonic seductress to keep a paladin house pet?
No.

Is the item otherwise useful?
No. Well not unless you count picking it up and using it as a wapon to brain a monk sitting there in a meditative trance.

Other Comments? (including World Domination potential on the evil laughter scale, where appropriate)
This is a pointless item. Well okay, so it's a bowl, and it's curved so not having points is kind of a feature, but I mean that it's lack of useful function is astounding. I mean monks are annoying enough already - especially when they're sitting there meditating and going 'ommmmmmm' - and now they've got some sort of bowl that they can sing or 'ommmmmmm' along to. Congratulations, you just made a bunch of meditational aesthetics even more irksome than they already were.
<goes away for a bit>
<comes back calmer (or 'karma' for those of you who like puns)>
Okay, well time to point out a thing or two. You're obviously a subversive chaotic at heart - I checked a couple of dictionaries for 'multitoned' and there is no such word, or at least there wasn't until you just made it up.
I've been carrying out experiments with some monks who didn't have any choice except to be friendly and helpful, and I have to report that hop a monk up on a dozen of these bowls, and they kick and karate chop through a wall in no time. A method for shipping six dozen or so of these bowls around all at the same time and without muddling their mallets up is a bit tricky though - and especially when they're all making the same annoying ommmmmmming noise. I think you need some sort of identifying marks on the handles and bowl bases to make it clear which go with which, otherwise you're going to get in a frightful muddle when you set up an armaments factory to churn these things out... These bronze ones go ommmmmmm and you need quite a few to make a noticeable difference to the performance of a monk, but I'm sure you could make more powerful ones out of crystal, silver, or gold which make higher pitched irritating noises and power a monk up more. I also think it might be a good idea to schedule a series of tests to discover if filling a bowl with a liquid makes any difference to the end result effect on a monk.
World Domination Potential:
Bwahahaha (but needs work still)

Gollum Rating:
Somewhere between 'hissssss' and 'precious', fluctuating by mood.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DankeSean

Still working on my archetype (if by 'working' you mean, 'trying to cut out 17 words') so not quite ready to come back and engage in plentiful commentary here, but making a joke is always a free action, so...

Ask A RPGSupersuccubus wrote:
I also think it might be a good idea to schedule a series of tests to discover if filling a bowl with a liquid makes any difference to the end result effect on a monk.

The answer is 'yes'. Assuming the monk in question is a drunken master and the liquid is 100 proof sake.

Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Congratulations Sean! Again!
STR 15 (overall)
DEX 12 (see use in my campaign)
CON 14 (see use in lots of campaigns)
INT 12 (mechanics)
WIS 12 (word style/writing)
CHA 16 (visuals)

I like the bowl aspect as A it holds hard to hold things and b brings in the images of tea traditions or calligraphy. Both are strong 'monk' images for me. Yes storing points up from yesterday would be a nice addition and worth trading the two-for-one. I like the speed up thing, and I think it is limited to only a few actions so not overpowered. Eberron's action points allowed (differently) way of getting extra actions in a round and the premise was it makes for good drama. Again this is a strong movie monk image for me. Twice nice!

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

I'm always in favor of monk items. The bell like hum is a nice touch. The speeded up actions seem very powerful for only 17000 gp though. But the ki was a great choice.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DankeSean

Alrighty, I finally have the chance to respond & reply. Thanks to everyone for commenting and questioning; even if the bowl wasn't to your tastes, I appreciate your taking the time to read it and think it over.

So first up, a general clarification, since it did seem the issue was muddied: yes the 'accelerated action' aspect of the bowl only applies to actions that a monk would normally be able to spend ki on. A number of people seemed to think I was referring to speeding up any action; oh, dear god no. That's too scary and abusable to ever contemplate. (Well, maybe not EVER; I'll admit I sometimes miss the 3.0 version of haste, but if I were ever to try and bring that back, it would be through a more concrete and balanced form than via a wondrous item.)
I can see why the confusion was there, though; the fault is mine for not being clear enough. I do remember worrying that someone might make that mistake and I tried to correct for it, but as the drafts went on and on and I trimmed sentences, I think that the clarity of my intent got buried. Looking at it now, frustratingly enough, I think I could have avoided a lot of that confusion just by using a single word. Instead of 'Abilities powered using this ki are faster than normal', I should have gone the extra step and said 'Monk abilities powered using this ki are faster than normal'. Or else I'm sure I could have played with the sentence structure in that part and made the limitation a bit more obvious.

So, whoopsie. Glad to have made it through the filter regardless. :-)

So on to specific questions/comments:

Neil Spicer:

Spoiler:
Neil Spicer wrote:
I just find it a little odd to imagine a monk carrying around a bowl that's constantly humming until he strikes it with the mallet to boost his actions. Does he have to hold it in his hand? Or can he keep the "singing" bowl in his pack to be retrieved later?

Personally, I liked the visual (or would that be the audio?) of the bowl indicating it was charged by continuing to chime. I didn't intend for the monk to have to tote it around in his hands, though. You could stuff it in your backpack, in between layers of your bedroll, with your spare robes wadded up and jammed in the inside of it and it would still be singing. Why? Because... well... er... it's magic! Hey, what's that behind you? {runs away}

And of course the monk doesn't need to be the one carrying it either; part of the reason I had the ki return as long as the monk was within 30 feet (see? I'm trainable!) was that I wouldn't have a problem with a savvy player handing the bowl off to the party henchman or even the wizard's unseen servant for transportation with the instruction to whap it as soon as combat starts.

Quote:
Also, a -2 penalty to Stealth checks seems a little low...but I guess it depends on how loud the "singing" is actually meant to be.

Not very loud, really; but in retrospect, I should have just dropped the stealth penalty altogether. I stuck it in there because I got the feeling it was one of those 'well, somebody is going to ask if there are any adverse effects to having it be continuously sounding' issues and I was trying to preemptively correct for that. Of course, that just raised other issues. given the whole thing to do over again, I'd just skip it, stick with the potential original issues and have had ten extra words to play with.

Oh, and it's perfectly all right that you were the judge with the least love for this. You know why?

Quote:
It's a ballsy choice to create an item like this.

...because the Spice Dragon called me ballsy. I'll take my moments of pride where I can get them. :-)

Mark Moreland:

Spoiler:
Mark Moreland wrote:
Considering Asian-themed adventures are coming, it won't just be monks using ki for much longer, either.

My first few drafts never even mentioned the word 'monk', to be honest. The phrase of choice was 'character with a ki pool', specifically because I wanted it to be open ended for potential future developments like that. But then I scrapped that because I realized how stupid it was for wee little me to build a contest entry as though it was some kind of official product. Hubris, thy name is Sean. Plus just using 'monk' across the board freed up some wordage.

Quote:
That said, I'm not big on some of the mechanical choices here, along the same lines as Neil's post above. The action cost reduction on this means that a monk can move and flurry in the same round, and expend an extra ki point to get one more attack. Pretty powerful indeed!

Yeah, that's what I was afraid of. Hopefully my clarification above pushes this back down the line to the level of power that doesn't make your skin crawl. Though again, still my fault that it wasn't crystal clear from the outset.

Quote:
Another concern though, is the bit about it being held separate from a monk's regular ki pool. There's already extra bookkeeping for a monk player when dealing with their ki points, and this just complicates it further. A more elegant solution could be found with a little more thought.

Fair enough; I agree there. I was considering not bothering with separating them and letting players mix & match, but then I was worried that it might lead to cheese like "I spend one point of the bowl ki and one of regular to abundant step next to Warduke as a swift action. Then I use a full attack to make a flurry and spend another regular point to get an extra hit. And if he takes a swing at me before my next turn, I spend my other bowl point as an immediate action to get +4 to AC." Maybe that's not complete cheese; maybe that's within the bounds of what I wanted to bowl to do, which was 'give the monk a round or two per combat of being extra awesome'. But, I was wary about loosening the reins on this too much. But you're right; extra bookkeeping wasn't necessarily the best way to go here.

Quote:
I'm most impressed by the attention to detail in italicizing ki, which many players and designers overlook.

And while I'm sure my italics weren't the dealmaker in the decision to keep or reject, I am SO HAPPY you appreciated them, because all those damn little italics tags were a pain in the tuckus. Next time I do this, I make an item with minimal formatting required.

Sean K. Reynolds:

Spoiler:
Sean K. Reynolds wrote:
The preparation aspect and time limit of using the doubled ki is really limiting this item utility,

That was actually very specifically intended, though. Once I went with the doubled ki/special ki aspects of it, instead of my original idea of it just being a ki bank, I figured it needed strong limitations to keep it from letting a monk go too overboard. So you have to a)prep it before combat and carry it around with you, b)use an action in combat to activate it (although as mentioned, there are intentionally ways around that)and c)use the power it gives you in short order or lose it. C, especially, I don't see as a problem; any monk who can't find a use for two points of super-ki in ten rounds time should head back to the dojo. But, would you say I made a bad call with that choice? If I were rebuilding this, would it be better with either the ability to store and withdraw ki faster, or the ability to store more ki in the first place and withdraw x amount at a time? (Thus allowing a monk to make multiple withdrawals during combat, if needed?)

Ryan Dancey:

Spoiler:
Ryan Dancey wrote:
I was biased towards reject because this item requires the GM to be on the ball. They have to know that the bowl is charged. That charge may have a negative effect - and the Player is not likely to continuously remind the GM of the effect. (Or you stuff it into a Bag of Holding, in which case the buzzing is just pointless fluff).

Yeah, yet another reason I should have just left out anything about the humming being a drawback. Because, really, it WAS just pointless fluff, and I kind of drew a big highlight under it.

Regarding the rest of your point, though: yes, very valid. I suppose there's a fine line between items that require a light amount of bookkeeping, like charged items or x use per day items, and something like this that has x uses per day, an on/off state, and a charging mechanic. I'd claim that I'm just an innocent that believes in GM/player honor systems, but really, I'm too much of a cynic to say anything like that without gagging. :-)

Alexander MacLeod:

Spoiler:
Alexander MacLeod wrote:
What?! No Perform (percussion instruments) check DC? I do like Perform checks to go along with my magical musical instruments...

While I've never used or even had my hands on an actual singing bowl, ignorance in a topic has never stopped me from venturing my opinion on it yet in this life. :-) So let me say that I disagree, under the assumption that this really isn't a musical instrument, per se. More like a half-full wineglass at a dinner table; making it play a note isn't particularly hard to do with a little practice.

Now, if you lined a whole bunch of different sized bowls up on a table and started playing it like a glass harmonica, yeah, that I'll grant would take actual skill.
Quote:
I think the sped-up action thing is not referring to any action, just the bonus ki actions a monk can perform (+4 dodge bonus to AC for 1 round, increase speed by 20 feet for 1 round, high jump, empty body, and such).

But thank you very much for picking up on that. :-)

Matt Goodall:

Spoiler:
Matt Goodall wrote:
But looking closer, how this acceleration actually works is unclear. What ki powers can I actually use it with? Unless I’m misreading, the only core rulebook monk class abilities I can use with it are to heal myself as a move action with Wholeness of Body, or dimension door as a swift action with Abundant Step.

Those; plus the standard ki pool actions go from swift to immediate actions. The only one of those that really benefits from that is the +4 to AC, though. Other monk archetypes have a similarly slim amount of abilities that get boosted, and nothing that would (IMO) be particularly unbalanced. An earlier draft didn't have the across the board ability speediness; all it said was 'monk abilities that are normally swift actions are activated as free actions', but scrapped that right quick because it seemed potentially scary. So it's more limited, but on the other hand, you get to abundant step and full attack in the same round. Your monk can now be Nightcrawler. Too cool to resist.

Jim Groves:

Spoiler:
Jim Groves wrote:
I feel more cautious about this one. Perhaps more than any other item I've reviewed. Not because it's not stylish and cool sounding, but because I want to see it actually play-tested. I want to see the rule synergies in action to see if it breaks the game, or skews it badly.

I agree, and I deeply regret not having a playing group at the moment. I pretty much had to go on feel for this one, and while my instincts say that giving monks a short lived, once per combat, three combats a day boost of kickass isn't going to make them the new masters of the game, I feel frustrated not knowing that with concrete game evidence.

Tom Phillips:

Spoiler:
Tom Phillips wrote:
Welcome back, Sean! ;-)

And likewise. Matt, Jim and you all commenting one after another made this feel like a very nostalgic start to the contest. :-)

Xaaon of Korvosa:

Spoiler:
Xaaon of Korvosa wrote:
gratz, I like this item, my item was also a monk item that had a ki based ability.

Thank you for the compliment! A friend of mine who entered also had a monk/ki oriented item as well (developed completely separately; we didn't find out about each other's items till we sent them to each other for review.)I joked with him that this had the potential to be the Year of the Monk.

Correlon:

Spoiler:
Correlon wrote:
That said, in my humble opinion the theme and effect of this item clash a bit. While the meditation theme is cool and fits the class, (and Neil mentioned this somewhere) I just don't see my monk carrying around a bowl and mallet just before whipping out the crazy martial action! Something nifty and wearable with less activation fluff would have done it for me, a circlet perhaps?

I would think it's fairly easily transportable to such, if you wanted. But,(and I'll probably do a lengthy post here sometime this weekend going through my thought process on developing this, if last year is any example) for me this started with being struck by the image of real life singing bowls and asking myself the question 'what magic effect could I put in that?' And my brain pretty much never wavered from that. Maybe the monk isn't so much 'whipping' the bowl out, but calmly setting it down, kneeling, and ringing it while the combat rages around him. And then standing up and going into bullet time. :-) But thank you very much for your kind words.

Sean Huguenard:

Spoiler:
Sean Huguenard wrote:
I'm not really sure what to think about the special ki ability, to be honest. I like the item as a whole, and it's easy to understand, but I'm not really sure how well it would work in the long run.

Thanks, Sean! Like I said to Jim, I do wish I could have run this is a game beforehand to be sure. (For the record, I love your collapsing robe as well. Probably in my top 5.)

RonarsCorruption:

Spoiler:
RonarsCorruption wrote:


Realizing what I do now, the item is pretty neat. I don't really see why the bowl is a bowl instead of an instrument or something, but that's okay.

Thank you, RC. I went with a singing bowl because it's an actual monk-ish meditation item. More buddhist than shaolin, so I'm kind of crossing the streams here, but I liked them too much to resist. (If you're unfamiliar with them, check them out here. Sound clips, too!)

Quote:
One thing I ask is, what happens if the mallet gets separated, does the item become worthless, or is the mallet just fluff and can be replaced?

Good question; I'm not sure offhand what the standard response is for magic items that come with separate parts, but offhand in this case I'd say the magic is in the bowl and the mallet is replaceable. (And you could probably improvise one up out of a burned out wand a a strip of cloak if you lost yours in the middle of nowhere.)

Swamp Druid:

Spoiler:
Swamp Druid wrote:
I don't know much about monks and their ki points, but this seems like a neat item.

Cool, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. :-)

GeraintElberion:

Spoiler:
GeraintElberion wrote:

When the thug's leader faces-off with the monk they fight and it is a fairly even contest until the monk's young apprentice taps the bowl with the hammer.

Cue chime, followed by awesome death move from monk, followed by profound silence.

Dude.

That was SEXY.

Thanks for coming up with an even more evocative image than I had in my head. That's kinda madcap awesome.

Russ Taylor:

Spoiler:
Russ Taylor wrote:
Maybe even give you a benefit when you siphon that stored ki point back. But I'd throw out the ki doubling, the acceleration, etc, all which seem to complicated for this reader.

Fair point. To be honest, the original thought was to have it just be a ki storage item. If I'd gone that route, it probably would have held ki longer, possibly indefinitely. Ultimately, I decided I didn't want that; it seemed a bit utilitarian and prosaic. No denying I complexified the hell out of the concept, though, which didn't help it as far as readability.

Eric Bailey:

Spoiler:
Eric Bailey wrote:
Like others, I applaud your innovation and that you went for the monk in choosing a design focus.

Well, of course you'd be pleased. Vashkar was a monk, right? ;-) (Although much scarier and probably not in need of chirping tableware.) Seriously, thanks, Eric.

Daniel Gunther 346:

Spoiler:
Daniel Gunther 346 wrote:
I'm on the fence with this one. Mainly because compared to the Mediation Beads of the Flaming Fist, while functionally different, I think the beads are a much more solid item, with the extension of ki points mechanic. However, it is a very nicely themed item. Even though I am on the fence, it is still a Superstar item.

Thanks for the thoughts. I agree; Danny's beads probably do a better, cleaner job of both ki storage and providing monks with options. I might have gone a little too far into crazy land in trying to be clever. And for that, I gotta say once again that I'm grateful to be here since if the judges had said 'well, we don't want to have two ki-storing items cluttering up the contest', I'd be sitting in the judge critique thread right now waiting my turn. :-)

Seth White:

Spoiler:
Seth White wrote:
I think you chose a smart area to expand upon with ki points. I'm looking forward to seeing what you'll bring to the game with your archetype. Well done!

Mucho thanks. Your Vessel of the Deep still remains one of my faves from last year, so I definitely appreciate it. Hope I don't disappoint in round 2.

Matthew Morris:

Spoiler:
Matthew Morris wrote:
Feh, back to back isn't much to boast about, any old fool can do it. ;-)

Don't you go make me sing Chicago songs at you again, Morris.

Quote:
(which should be a bit more than a -2 to stealth)

ARGH THAT STUPID STEALTH PENALTY WILL I NEVER LIVE IT DOWN.

Thanks for the analysis. :-)

Jeremiziah:

Spoiler:
Jeremiziah wrote:
[MusicMajorNitpick] The actual best term for "multitoned" is polyphonic. Multi-toned probably works too, but it's not the "best" term.[/MusicMajorNitpick]

See, I didn't know that and thought they were all equal use synonyms. The more you know... Polyphonic was on my list of possible words to use, but... it has somewhat annoying connotations to me and didn't make the cut.

Quote:
Other than that, I like this. Better than the Prayer Beads, because I (as the Big Dumb Fighter) am not sitting around for hours on end waiting for you to use this item. It explores a design space that is underpopulated, and does so without annyong me (the BDF).

Not to undercut myself, but I think the beads don't automatically create that problem. If, for instance, the bowl were a indefinite length storage item, I'd imagine it would be fully charged offscreen before an adventure, and then maybe if the monk had leftover points at the end of a day he'd spend a bit meditating and storing them back in while the spellcasters are sleeping and the BDF is on lookout. But I'll shut up because that's a debate that can be had on the bead's board. So thanks for the enthusiasm. I appreciate it.

Danny Lundy:

Spoiler:
Danny Lundy wrote:

Forum Five for giving monks more Ki!!

*slap*

Dude! These are monks we're talking about. Slaps are lethal weapons!

All kidding aside, thanks. Like I said above, I'm glad to have made it in alongside of your beads instead of being bumped out by them.

Quote:
If your thought process was anything like mine, you designed a way to store Ki, read it back a few times, liked it and then said "This just isn't Superstar enough. I've got to add that little something extra."

It's like you live inside my brain. That's pretty much the exact chain that my thoughts went through.

Azmahel:

Spoiler:
Azmahel wrote:
Try to step up a bit more for your archetype so that I can root for you with full force :)

Drat. Your rooting is conditional? But I wanted your full force rooting for horrible, dull work!

Well, I can only hope to win you back over in the end, good sir. :-) Thanks for the re-welcoming.

Ask A RPGSupersuccubus

Spoiler:
Ask A RPGSupersuccubus wrote:


Does the item help a demonic seductress to keep a paladin house pet?
No.

But what if the demon seductress has monk levels? The pet tries to get all 'smite evil' on her, she hits the bowl and gets all kung fooey in response. Sure, there's that whole 'monks can't be chaotic' thing, but then again, what's the point of chaos if you can't go breaking rules?

Quote:
Okay, well time to point out a thing or two. You're obviously a subversive chaotic at heart - I checked a couple of dictionaries for 'multitoned' and there is no such word, or at least there wasn't until you just made it up.

The English language is my puppet, and I shall playsculpt with her to my heart's contentifiedness.

Hey, Lewis Carroll could do it.

Quote:
These bronze ones go ommmmmmm and you need quite a few to make a noticeable difference to the performance of a monk, but I'm sure you could make more powerful ones out of crystal, silver, or gold which make higher pitched irritating noises and power a monk up more.

All kidding aside, since antique Tibetan singing bowls were actually made of alloys involving bronze and 'sky-iron', and given the 'speed up time' element I was going for, I strongly considered having them be made out of a horacalcum alloy. Except I figured that might have been just a touch obscure.

Curaigh:

Spoiler:
Curaigh wrote:


STR 15 (overall)
DEX 12 (see use in my campaign)
CON 14 (see use in lots of campaigns)
INT 12 (mechanics)
WIS 12 (word style/writing)
CHA 16 (visuals)

What, no comeliness score? (Apologies if you used the same rating system and I used the same joke last year. In truth, I am a man of few ideas. Next years item from me will be a wind-up monkey that plays a bell.) Thanks for the feedback- much appreciated. You're much like Azmahel; I really appreciate the thought you put into this contest not just when it's on, but all year round.

Charles Dunwoody:

Spoiler:
Charles Dunwoody wrote:


I'm always in favor of monk items. The bell like hum is a nice touch. The speeded up actions seem very powerful for only 17000 gp though. But the ki was a great choice.

Thanks for the compliments; and it's funny what 17,000 gold means to different people. I figured it was a high enough price point to ensure that even a fairly high level monk wasn't going to bother buying a bunch of them and have a never ending supply of double speedy ki all day long. I do think there's enough balances on the speed issue that it's not out of synch; but again, I haven't had the chance to playtest it.

And congratulations yourself!

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

I really like this item for reasons mentioned above, but I'll repost here anyway. ;)

I like the meditative flavor just before the monk opens a small can of...well, you know...all over the bad guys. I keep seeing a quiet, laid back individual suddenly jumping into the fray after a bell is struck to take down the buff loud mouth...and doing so in no time flat. :)

Congratulations and good luck with the rest of the competition.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DankeSean

Marie Small wrote:
I really like this item for reasons mentioned above, but I'll repost here anyway. ;)

Marie- thanks for your comments. And good luck in future rounds to you as well. :-)

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka DankeSean

So to kill time on the last night before the archetypes are revealed, I'll give a meandering tour through my thought process in making this. Be warned, the inside of my head can be a strange place, and I am prone to rambling, so run away now if you're not interested.

Spoiler:

SO a lot of the genesis of this item owes itself to Neil's advice. Now, Neil's advice of course occupies an absolutely ludicrous amount of megabytes of posts throughout the various years of the RPG Superstar forums, so I'm not able to find the specific post right now, but at one point he talks about how sometimes the best thing to do is start with the item itself and build the powers and abilities around that, rather than starting out knowing exactly what you want it to do and building an item around that. And that's pretty much how this one came to me.

After flunking out of last year's contest I was kind of minorly obsessed with getting another go, so I spent a good deal this last year putting ideas down for later development. Someone on the boards last year suggested making a magic item every month till the next contest; I decided to go with that. If I was sitting in front of my computer doing something completely unrelated and an idea popped into my head, I opened my RPG superstar file and wrote it down. If I was at work, I scribbled it down on a scrap of paper to be added to my computer file later. If I was out with friends or shopping at Ikea or anything else, I would send myself a text or voicemail, to later be deciphered while sitting in front of my computer and added to the file. I could go on, but you get the picture. And then, late in the month, I'd go through that file and pick one or two items to develop. Most were crap that just helped keep me familiar with magic iteming; a few were decent ideas with some findamental problems; and one or two were real contenders.

Still, I figured this was all just practice, since the item I felt strongest about was the one that I'd thought up in 2009 right after submitting my entry for last year's contest. Nifty little teleport based item. I won't say any more about it because it might still see use next year; who knows. But at the time it outranked most of the ideas I came up with; there were a few that had potential to be cooler with some work, but for the most part it seemed I had a winner. Then came thanksgiving dinner, and me making a wine glass ring to entertain a friend's year old daughter. And somewhere between the baby in question clapping her hands and trying to grab the glass herself and me mopping up wine off the tablecloth, the idea came to me that this could be a nifty magic item.

Early ideas the next day were just a musical glass; then a somehow-portable glass harmonica; but since I submitted a bard item last year I didn't want to be (no pun intended) one note, so music instruments were out. Then I remembered singing bowls and felt some potential in that.

Once I had the form, the rest came fairly quickly in sequence; first I knew this had to be a monk item; once I knew it was going to be for monks I knew I wanted soemthing that played with ki points; from there a ki storage device. The 'make it hum to store/ring it to retrieve' fluff all came as part of that. This was all decided over the course of about half an hour while at work. It wasn't until I was waiting for the train home after work that night that I started to see some flaws; the initial plan had been to just put ki in and then get it back, point for point. Only problem there was that, even if I set limits on how much one bowl could hold, I could see abuse problems with someone stuffing a dozen bowls in his backpack, charging them all well before an adventure, and entering a dungeon with a potentially unlimited supply of ki.

Now, monks can always use a bit of a boost, so maybe that wouldn't be entirely bad; and upping the price of the bowl could help limit the ability to do so anyhow; but I think the key point (hey, see what I did there?) against this was that a simple storage/retrieval unit, while not a bad concept, and potentially a useful one, wasn't exciting. For all the lovely evocative fluff I could write about these being harmonically pleasing, the core idea was kind of dull. Which was too bad, because this was the first item I'd come up with all year that potentially excited me more than my teleporting item. Then as the train was pulling into the station, it dawned on me that I could make this the anti-thunderdome; one ki point enters; two ki points leave.

Once my mind started going along that track, a number of changes had to be made; reducing the amount of ki that could be stored at one time was the main one. Looking over the various monk ki powers, I figured getting two points back at the beginning of combat was probably enough; that would pay for a heal or an abundant step, or a couple uses of the standard combat powers. So one point stored at a time/two points retrieved seemed sufficient for the initial build. But that made it feel too minor; so I decided it had to be more than one per day. From there the 'take a minute to store a point' mechanic built itself; enough to ensure it couldn't be used to double ki points during combat, but not enough to slow down or annoy the party in mid-exploration.

Now, maybe I should have stopped there, since this is where things got iffy. Again, a lot of the advice you'll read, Neil's included, is to know when to stop adding to your item. Maybe I should have followed that; still, I felt like it needed a little something more. The initial idea of using the bowl's ki to be blurry motion speedy monk time stuff was expressed more or less as follows: 'any abilites powered by ths ki/[i] that are normally activated as a swift action are activated as a free action instead. So, in other words, this was originally intended to boost only the most basic of [i]ki abilites; +4 to AC, +20 to movement, or an additional attack when flurrying. That stuck around for the first draft, then got changed when I got a bit wary of that; I was worried that a monk making a flurry of blows and getting three additional hits at his highest bonus (two using free actions, one using regular ki as a swift) might have been just a bit too across the line. Again, these are monks we're talking about and a chance to do a mini nova for one round of combat probably wouldn't upset the cart too much, but it was a questionable enough area that I wasn't willing to go there. Plus, when I looked at expanding the ability but eliminating free actions, I realized a monk would be able to go BAMF, teleport to an enemy, and flurry. Too cool not to stick with. In fact, even if I were to get rid of every other aspect of the speeding up actions ability, I'd still want to keep it applicable to abundant step, just because I love the idea too much. Anyway, with minor tweaks along the way, that was the version that got finalized over the course of half a dozen more drafts.

Cost was actually kind of fun on this one; I started with acknowledging that since it was, essentially, giving an additional three ki points per day, it was basically 1.5 times as powerful as the Extra Ki feat. On the other hand, the checks and balances involved (like only getting one of those three daily points per combat) limited it enough that I just called it even with the feat. Going with the assumption that a straight 'give me a feat' item is 5,000 gold, I started there. Then there was the speedy use of monk abilities aspect; kind of a Quicken Spell for monks. Since monk abilities are, of course, nowhere near the power level of spellcasting, I only called that a 2,500 extra. So 7,500 gold, doubled that due to being a slotless item, and then arbitrarily added another couple thousand gold onto that just to heighten the price range a little more and make it less appealing as a 'buy a bunch of these and use them all day' item. The price still might not be prefect, but at least none of the judges seemed concerned about it.

So that's all. Well, there's the matter of naming it; honestly, I was never really content with the name- it's an 'x of the y' style name, and not exactly very sexy in any case, but I always wanted to make sure it was called a 'singing bowl' regardless, since that's the very specific real world item it's based on. 'Redoubled clarity' never really rocked my socks; ideally I'd have found soemthing to tack onto the front of it instead. '_____ singing bowl' But, good enough and it wasn't completely prosaic, so in lieu of a better idea, it worked.

And that's really all. If you read this far, thanks! You're clearly not easily bored. :-)

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Sean McGowan wrote:
And that's really all. If you read this far, thanks! You're clearly not easily bored. :-)

I did. I wasn't. And I'm not.

That's some very useful insight you've shared, which others could easily follow to improve their own design process. Well done.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013

This is a great flavourful item. And while I agree that the accelerated actions are easily abusealble I really love the increased ki. I wonder if you considered the multiple use application of this item though.

Lets say I buy as many of these as I can afford, since I require little other gear this could be a dangerous quantity, especially if I pay our wizard to make them for me. I take leadership, fill the bowls, and give them to my acolytes who follow my around humming and chanting (since stealth is out the window anyway). I can potentially reap a huge reward, as they fill me up with super-ki. I'm not sure if this is strictly abuseable, since it still requires a lot of cash, and third party action, but it may well be.

I will use this item, many of them, on an NPC super-monk with whom I will break my PCs.

Mwahahahaha!

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

Thank you for the design insight. It is helpful to me to see how others create, to try their methods when that damend writer's block rears its ugly head.

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

Sean McGowan wrote:
Abilities powered using this ki are faster than normal: standard actions become move actions, move actions become swift, and swift become immediate.

It took me a few re-reads of this section, but it finally clicked (or "chimed", if you will) for me. I like this a lot. I can't think of any other magic item that speeds up actions like this. It's very clever.

I love the meditative chime noise as well, especially since my wake-up alarm on my phone is a Buddhist chime. ;-)

Well written and VERY clever! Thumbs up, Sean!

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