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PaizoCon 2014!

Book of Night Without Moon


Round 1 - Open Call: Create a Wondrous Item

RPG Superstar 2011 aka Ignotus

Aura Moderate Illusion CL 8th
Slot ---; Price 15,000 gp Weight 1 lb. Description
This black grimoire's pages are mostly blank, but a few contain rough watercolor silhouettes. The Book of Night Without Moon is a repository for trapped shadows. To sever a shadow from its owner and add it to the book, a character must place the book in the shadow of a willing or helpless victim with 5 or fewer hit dice, and trace the shadow’s outline in ashes, a simple ritual taking 5 minutes. A creature whose shadow is stolen must make a DC 18 will save or be sickened by a nameless melancholy until its shadow is returned.

As a standard action, the book’s bearer may release a shadow from the book, conjuring an illusory duplicate of the shadow’s owner as if with the spell Shadow Conjuration (DC 18 will save to recognize that the conjuration is an illusion). The shadow is intelligent and can follow complex commands, but cannot speak. The shadow serves the character who released it for one hour or until destroyed, whichever comes first. Then the shadow returns instantly and permanently to its original owner, wherever he or she may be. It will not return to the book and may not be stolen again.

A Book of Night Without Moon purchased or found as treasure will have 2d6 shadows present inside it, chosen by the DM from the Summon Monster IV list.

Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, Shadow Conjuration Cost 7,500 gp

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

So this is what happened to Peter Pan?!

In all seriousness, this is actually a pretty neat item. Shadow-stealing and re-use as a shadow conjuration is kinda cool. But, duplicating an individual (say, a captured PC with class levels) and then interpreting what his or her shadow conjuration would have in the way of hit points, saves, etc. is far too open-ended. Later on, the author seems to imply the shadows in the book are all shadow conjurations of anything taken off the summon monster IV list...which I could certainly believe. That just doesn't jive with the flavor text in the beginning about stealing shadows from other people.

It borders on SIAC (i.e., shadow conjuration), but lasts far longer (i.e., 1 hour) and includes an involved process of "charging" the book by gathering shadows from other creatures. I like that mechanic.

This item has some problems, but the attention to detail on the use of the template, the cool core idea, and the shadow-gathering mechanic are enough for me to overlook some of the other problems and see what this designer can do in later rounds. There's mojo here.

Vote to Keep.

CEO, Goblinworks

I like it. The dm can keep track of the stats of stolen shadows. Great role-play potential, good mechanics. Keeper!

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

This has some mechanical problems (like what happens if you use it on a creature that can't be sickened), but it is a really neat idea and I think we should keep it around.

Keep!

Paizo Employee Developer

I'm on board to keep this one around as well. Clever, evocative idea presented well, despite a few minor mechanical issues.

Taldor RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16, 2010 Top 4

I don't think this one quite grasped what it was reaching for. The idea is solid, but there are problems with the mechanics. Tracing with ash the shadow's outline seems a bit off to me; perhaps a command word and slamming the book closed on the shadow would work better? Then, is there any way for the person who's shadow is captured to notice? Does he no longer actually cast a shadow? Why the 5 HD limit? Does the shadow know everything that the original person knows?

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

This is a cool idea and I like the concept of grabbing people’s shadows and using them yourself. The other judges have listed some of the issues with it. I can understand the 5 HD or less limitation for game balance reasons, but this isn’t very thematic. A long ritual of tracing in ash means you can’t steal shadows in combat, but I like Alex’s idea of snapping the book shut to ‘catch’ the shadow, slightly more stylish.

Is there a limit on the number of shadows in the book? There probably should be ways to remove the sickened condition, as well as get your shadow back (remove curse, wish?). I don’t think there should be a saving throw to avoid suffering the sickened penalty for not having a shadow, as the victim is either helpless or willing. You should possibly only give a chance of having existing shadows in a bought or found book. Watch your capitalization. You took a big idea and went for it, and we all liked the evocative style of your ‘book of shadows’.

Welcome to the ranks of RPG Superstar! Round two is a mechanics round so show everyone your skills at creating rules content and keep bringing the big mojo ideas, with tight rules around them. Best of luck!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

This one is ripe with exciting and interesting ideas. Being the last Judge to post I don’t want to re-iterate everything Matt and Alexander pointed out, except perhaps to say that you had 50 more words to work with. ‘Common Wisdom’ thinks highly of entries that come well under the limit, but if you have a complex item don’t be afraid to use those words to fill in the loopholes. I’m not advocating unnecessary text, but you could have covered a few more bases.

The first Round is very much about creativity, and you have demonstrated that in spades. Make sure you step back and look at your work from different angles. Think about what the munchkins will make of it, or how many Rules Forums discussions will be engendered by what you’re not explaining.

That being said, I really like this item and it’s a definite keeper. I hope it is but a shadow of the ideas and concepts you have waiting for us in future rounds. Congratulations!

RPG Superstar 2011 aka Ignotus

Thanks, for both the kind words and the incisive criticism. I'm excited to be in the top 32! Now to go dream up an archetype...

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

I'm pretty sure this is intended to duplicate the actual stats of the victim (modified as though that creature had been summoned with shadow conjuration; 1/5th hitpoints, and also 1/5th everything else if the target saves). I think that's really cool, and would have no trouble running it as a DM (or at least, no more trouble than with any shadow conjuration).

It does kind of bother me that there doesn't seem to be a limit on how many shadows it can hold, or on how long it can hold a shadow. It doesn't even say that the owner must still be alive, so you could just routinely harvest your enemies' shadows before killing them. For an adequately ruthless character that's awesome and thematically appropriate, it just seems like a lot of free manpower for 15k.

Anyway, like others have said, this one is dripping with mojo. Looking forward to your archetype.


I like the idea, but it seems a bit difficult to physically do. How big are the pages? It seems a bit difficult to orient so that you can outline someone's shadow.

I'd like to see the idea implented in a different way.

Also, it doesn't state the number of pages in the book. That seems like a standard detail for magical book descriptions.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

"How many pages" would also be a good place to limit the number of shadows (1 shadow per page).

The shadow doesn't actually have to fall within the borders of the page, I don't think. I assume that the ash-tracing took place on the ground, and that the book just had to be somewhere inside the shadow.


Nicolas Quimby wrote:

"How many pages" would also be a good place to limit the number of shadows (1 shadow per page).

The shadow doesn't actually have to fall within the borders of the page, I don't think. I assume that the ash-tracing took place on the ground, and that the book just had to be somewhere inside the shadow.

When I read it, it seems as if the tracing is done on a page in the book, but I see what you're saying.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Sect

The name caught my attention, though I'm not sure if it was in a good way or not: mostly, I was curious as to what the heck it even meant.

Anyways, it's interesting, though a hard cap on the number of shadows it can hold and a shorter and less obtuse means of capturing shadows would make it better, in my opinion.


I like this one -- it's something I could see a PC using in a lot of ways. However I could also see a lot of abuse coming out of it as well, but hey most of the really cool magic items have room for that so no biggie there.


Great idea. I see some of the problems that the judges have pointed out. With a 5 minute "simple ritual" it definitely is not going to work in combat- I can only see it being used against unwilling victims affected by something like a hold person or else majorly tricked with an appropriately worded suggestion or charm person. But not every item needs to be useful in combat... devious users of this are far more likely to use it in the ways I mentioned.

The name threw me- I was expecting something more along the lines of a enhanced darkness item, not a shadow-captive item. I'm still not sure whether this should count for, or against, the writer. Either way, it's a really cool idea. Work on your formatting, Sam, and congrats on making the 2011 Top 32!


It makes me imagine what happens when playes discover this item, i.e. they release trapped shadow who presumably have knowledge of their original being (they can`t speak, but could write, gesture, etc)?

The 5HD limit seems reasonable and needed for balance, but then I think why exactly does is stop working vs 6HD creatures/people? ESPECIALLY vs. willing targets - since that is specifically mentioned, apparently it`s a useful application of the item, but then it wouldn`t work if you are above 5th level.

Could use some work around the edges, but the imagery is fantastic. Good luck next rounds!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Ezekiel Shanoax, the Stormchild

This is a truly imaginative and unique item. I really like it.

You know that you've hit upon something awesome when you can imagine entire fairy tales based solely on the use (and existence of) an item.

Great stuff - most definitely Superstar.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6, Contributor , Dedicated Voter 2013

Too many mechanical problems for my taste. For example, it can be easily abused with minions to give the owner a large number of shadows at the same time. I feel like the sickened condition needs a remedy, though there's always heal. I want this to have limits as to how many shadows can be stored, how many can be claimed in a day, and how many can be released. It also feels really cheap for the effects.

Agreed with the earlier posters that slamming the book on the shadow is neat, and possible genesis for another magic item.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4 , Star Voter 2013 aka raidou

Sam, welcome to RPG Superstar! As others have said, the core idea here is 100% superstar. You've got the creative talent needed to go far in this competition. The unanswered questions and mechanical oddities here, though, are potential pitfalls when the voters get their eyes on your work in future rounds. Personally, I feel that the item's mechanics tilt it towards the "Item is an artifact" and "Item makes the GM's job harder" deal breakers, but its mojo is unquestionably solid. I look forward to seeing your future work!


Not really a comment on the item, but the title commes close to an existing published novel. 'The Book of Night with Moon' by Diane Duane.
Other than the simularity in names and the fact that both refer to magic books, there is no connection or overlap in concept.

RPG Superstar 2011 aka Ignotus

niel wrote:

Not really a comment on the item, but the title commes close to an existing published novel. 'The Book of Night with Moon' by Diane Duane.

Other than the simularity in names and the fact that both refer to magic books, there is no connection or overlap in concept.

Oh, man, I haven't thought about that series since middle school... I wonder if that was a subconscious influence for the name? I'll try to be more careful about that in the future.


WOW!!! Very cool. Ryan Dancey hit the nail on the head with his assessment. I got hit with Peter Pan imagery along with The Golden Compass imagery. Very nice. I love, love, love, LOVE this item.
Looking forward to what you hit us with in round 2.


Sam Zeitlin wrote:
Book of Night Without Moon

Now *this* is awesome. Well-written, clear, concise, with a good theme and strong dark magic flavor. This is the kind of item GMs will want to introduce into their games to terrorize players, and it will still be valued by those players when/if they manage to wrest it from the bad guy. Great work, man.

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

A nice item and concept, that runs smack into issues with game mechanics. Trying to shadow conjuration a target with class levels can be a DM headache, even with preperation. Bascially the GM will need to pre-write weakened stats for anything in the book, which also effects the speed the book can be used for.
Player: Ok, I shadow traced Queen Illosa, now we want to use her to get past the guards.
DM, Umm, you can't use it until next week, when I figure out what X% of her assets would be.

This would work for a DM plot device though. They chase the Dread Pirate Roberts, killing him and he dissolved into shadow. Meanwhile, in Patagonia, the Dread Pirate Roberts shakes off his malaise and throws a party.

File this under 'cool concept, needs work'

Edit: What happens if you shadow trace a shadow? :-) Also it's not clear that the target has to be alive when you trace it. "Ok boys, we killed the young dragon, hold the body up in the light just right..."


Well all mechanical and usability related issues aside ( there are quite a few, but they all have been stated repeatedly)
this is a really cool idea that tries do do something that is really new to the game. I really really want to like this item and it would easily make my top list if it wasn't for said issues. They are weighting heavy on the quality an this item and my perception of it. So they pull it down to somewhere in the middle field, not enough to dislike it, but much less than i would love to like it. Simply the fact that I couldn't use it without some headache causing revisions lets it loose a lot of appeal.

Keep an eye out for stuff like this when designing your archetype and it can be a real killer.
Looking forward to seeing it.

Andoran

I actually think this has less mechanical holes than a lot (read:most) of the other entries. I wonder only what "sickened by a nameless melancholy" means...does the person walk around aimlessly shuffling their feet and staring at the floor? Do they become Emo? Are there any named melancholies?

That's a small, small gripe, though. This is a good item, certainly top 10 in my opinion. Congrats on making the top 32!

Edit: Did anyone else see the avatar and totally think Cartigan made it? I did!

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

Jeremiziah wrote:
Edit: Did anyone else see the avatar and totally think Cartigan made it? I did!

Yes i did. I had to double check to make sure I was objective.

As to the Sickened. I took that as fluff. "Gains the sickened condition" just sounds so blah to me. that sickened is in italics is what keys me in.

Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Congratulations Sam!
Strength (Overall): 16
Dexterity (see time in my campaign): 14
Constitution (long-time keeper): 14
Intelligence (mechanics): 14
Wisdom (writing craft): 14
Charisma (flavor/visuals): 16
Nice language choice did create a fairy tale feel. That continued to resonate. I did not question the mechanics as much as others, but agree they could be tightened up. I most likely will use this only as an NPC item. Shadow magic that is not all about evil-things from the nether realms? Nice choice.

Again, congratulations! :)

Andoran RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013

I just took my kids to see the Peter Pan play. In that setting, the shadow was in a dresser but a book is much easier to carry around. I like that the user can get a benefit from someone willing, but the shadow donor gets depressed.

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

The first two sentences of this item just pulled me into it (no pun intended)...

Sam Zeitlin wrote:
This black grimoire's pages are mostly blank, but a few contain rough watercolor silhouettes. The Book of Night Without Moon is a repository for trapped shadows.

This alone makes me want to know more! The third sentence should be reversed though, I think...

Sam Zeitlin wrote:
To sever a shadow from its owner and add it to the book, a character must place the book in the shadow of a willing or helpless victim with 5 or fewer hit dice, and trace the shadow’s outline in ashes, a simple ritual taking 5 minutes.

Maybe...

"A simple 5 minute ritual severs a shadow from its owner, adding it to the book. This ritual consists of placing the book in the shadow of a willing or helpless victim of 5 or fewer hit dice, and tracing that shadow's outline."

...or something like that.

Ignoring some of the mechanics criticism others mentioned, this item is wonderfully evocative. Your talent for writing is obvious.

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

This item has so much potential in a campaign. :) Capture the shadow of an adversary (nothing in the description states the target must be conscious). Unleash the shadow at the owner after commanding it to kidnap, steal, kill, whatever...how eerie is that? Fighting for your life against your own shadow. Admittedly, The Wheel of Time has something similar (mirror images instead of shadows); it creeped me out there, too.

Congratulations.


Sam Zeitlin wrote:

Aura Moderate Illusion CL 8th

Slot ---; Price 15,000 gp Weight 1 lb. Description
This black grimoire's pages are mostly blank, but a few contain rough watercolor silhouettes. The Book of Night Without Moon is a repository for trapped shadows. To sever a shadow from its owner and add it to the book, a character must place the book in the shadow of a willing or helpless victim with 5 or fewer hit dice, and trace the shadow’s outline in ashes, a simple ritual taking 5 minutes. A creature whose shadow is stolen must make a DC 18 will save or be sickened by a nameless melancholy until its shadow is returned.

As a standard action, the book’s bearer may release a shadow from the book, conjuring an illusory duplicate of the shadow’s owner as if with the spell Shadow Conjuration (DC 18 will save to recognize that the conjuration is an illusion). The shadow is intelligent and can follow complex commands, but cannot speak. The shadow serves the character who released it for one hour or until destroyed, whichever comes first. Then the shadow returns instantly and permanently to its original owner, wherever he or she may be. It will not return to the book and may not be stolen again.

A Book of Night Without Moon purchased or found as treasure will have 2d6 shadows present inside it, chosen by the DM from the Summon Monster IV list.

Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, Shadow Conjuration Cost 7,500 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?
Not unless you like books with pages which are either blank, show watercolour silhouettes, or are filled with smudgy charcoal blotches.

Does the item help a demonic seductress to keep a paladin house pet?
Well, I suppose if it's a young and inexperienced paladin you might be able to 'book' his or her shadow to make him or her easier to handle.

Is the item otherwise useful?
It depends what social circles you operate in, how perspicacious the folk are, and whether you live anywhere that - once people's shadows start disappearing - there isn't going to be a mob with flaming torches and pitchforks heading in your direction any time soon. (Of course mobs with flaming torches and pitchforks heading in the direction of someone else are often tremendous fun to watch...)

Other Comments? (including World Domination potential on the evil laughter scale, where appropriate)
Unfortunately information I consider to be of vital interest is missing from the sales pitch: information pertaining to number of pages in the book (which I assume to determine the limit on the number of shadows the tome can hold) and information regarding the dimensions of the book (which I assume to determine the maximum size of creatures whose shadows can be captured in optimal lighting conditions). The sales pitch makes some indication as to the approximate resistance to damage of a creature as a limit on shadows capturability (mature succubi are fortunately exempt from having their shadows taken I note) but there are some creatures around of not inconsiderable size but possessed of a low capacity to soak up damage...

Gollum Rating:
(Pending further data) Little interest.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013

This has amazing flavour. I really love the effect here, the process and mechanics are simple and elegant. I am puzzled by the apparent disconnect between the apparently humanoid shadows detailed under capture, and the clearly monstrous shadows already found in the book. Also, how many pages does it have? Is the shadow intelligent even if it is of a creature which normally is not? You could lay quite the siege with this little book.

I would use this

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

This item is another of my favorites. The shadow-stealing ability is very creepy. Plus, the fact you can store shadows for the long term means you can leave a character sickened with ennui forever. I can see PCs getting blackmailed with one of these items. "Hey, you want your shadow back? Then do this for me..."

This item has certainly dialed up the mojo. Heck, even the name is perfect. Nice job!

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

Just wanted to confirm you got a twofer and put this in your adventure. Well played :-)

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