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Cloak of the Swashbuckler

Round 1 - Open Call: Design a wondrous item

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 aka Anonymous User 191

Cloak of the Swashbuckler
Aura moderate abjuration and transmutation; CL 6th
Slot cloak; Price 12,000 gp; Weight 2 lbs.
This heavy cloak, when worn, grants a +4 bonus on Stealth checks. Alternatively, its wearer may doff it as move action to use it to parry in combat, where it is as effective as a +2 light wooden shield. When it is being used in such a manner, its bearer can give up its bonus to AC for the round to use the disarm, drag, trip, or dirty trick (blind or entangle) combat maneuver, gaining the +2 enhancement bonus on the CMB check. The wearer regains the AC bonus on his next turn, unless the cloak is being used for a dirty trick whose effects are lasting more than one round.
Requirements Craft Wondrous Items, cat’s grace, shield; Cost 6,000 gp

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Eh. It's a skill bonus-in-a-can along with a couple of abilities that let the cloak masquerade as a shield and a CMB weapon. I get how that theme needs to accompany the cloak. It makes sense why the designer would go down this path. I'm just not sure I buy it as Superstar. They do deserve props for referencing everything correctly and using the provided template to perfection, though. Still, at 142 words, they had plenty of room to build something with a little more innovation into this item in addition to all this other stuff. That would have helped sell it more for me and kept the item more "wondrous" than "shield/weapon" combo.

Weak Reject.

Shields are one of the parts of the D20 game system that don't work as well as I'd like. The classic "sword & board" fighter is a very uncommon sight in D20 games. The upsides to shield use are all mostly eclipsed by the advantages you get with a second weapon or a two handed weapon.

So I really like this item. It gets a shield into the game without forcing a player to make that choice before an encounter where a shield would be useful. It's also great in a city or court based game where you just can't walk around with a shield without attracting undue attention. I'd love to have this when a fight breaks out at a banquet or a ball.

Great work from this designer and I'd like to see more.

I recommend that you vote for this designer.


"Cloak" is not a slot.

When used as a shield, it should say it uses a shield slot (right now it just says you remove it and gain the bonus... for as long as you hold it, I guess?), otherwise some bozo is going to want to use it and an actual shield.

Wording is a little wonky in other places, too.


Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

I'm with Ryan for many of his meta-game reasons, while at the same time acknowledging this issues Sean and Neil raise.

Normally a bonus here or there is not enough but the way they do this is really well done.

That said, I vote Keep

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

I get the sense this designer isn't quite ready yet. The item concept is reasonable (though I'd have preferred to see them introduce a 20% miss chance as a result of wielding the cloak as a "shield" rather than having it function exactly like a +2 shield. That way, it would work more along the lines of blur with the cloak being used to confuse and harry an attacker. And, you could justify that by saying the cloak animates a bit to entangle/obscure incoming weapons to carry out that deception...and you could limit the ability to a certain number of times per day. I also think it would be smarter to play up that element and do away with the long list of combat maneuvers this item benefits. Scale it back to just the dirty trick maneuver (blind, entangle) and maybe disarm, but leave trip and drag out of it.

Aside from that, I agree with many of the points Sean has made here. "Cloak" is not a slot. As worded, the item does need to take up the shield slot when fighting with it in such a manner. And I just don't get a sense this author took things far enough. They had a lot of leftover words where they could have invoked some extra flavor and sold it more, yet they kind of dropped the ball a bit.

So, if this item makes it through, I think the designer needs to really step up his game. That said, I think this cloak might resonate fairly well with the voting public. I could see a variant of it in my own games. There's enough innovation behind the idea that I'm inspired by it. And there's enough promise here that I'm hopeful the designer might benefit from the contest to learn and grow into Superstar material. So, I'm going to change my vote here from a Weak Reject to a...

...Weak Keep.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 4 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Jatori

Welcome to the Top 32!

I like the idea of using a piece of cloth for both defense (shield) and offense (shield bash). That said, I have to compare this item to 3.5's gnome battle cloak.

The battle cloak is a mundane item that takes up the shield slot, cannot be used to shield bash, and provides a bonus to disarm attempts.

Your cloak is not as mechanically clear as the battle cloak, but offers far more options (good) both in and out of combat. You only used 142 words. As written, your item sounds a little mundane. You could have used more of your word count to play up the wondrous aspects of your cloak. An additional, well-crafted sentence may have better sold this item. Work on that in the next round.

Good luck with your organisation.

RPG Superstar 2011 aka Ignotus

Cool, simple, flexible. I like that it has a very low-magic feel. This is a great example of a strong concept (fighting with your cloak) working to unite a set of mechanics that would otherwise seem random, and of working within existing rules to create an item that feels clean and classic. Though (as I said on the Raptoring Gloves), if you're not writing new mechanics, make VERY sure you're using the old ones precisely and correctly. Massive bonus points for not having any of the abilities mimic a spell. I have seen many (and even played a few) characters that would have loved to have this.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka DankeSean

What I like:
I do like a cloak that can be used defensively in combat; it's a good cinematic trope that doesn't see a lot of use in game play.
What I love:
Making it more than a cloth shield was a good call; I definitely appreciate that it's versatile and can be used for a variety of combat maneuvers. (Especially dirty tricks, which have become a new favorite of mine.)
What needs a little sumptin' sumptin'...
Honestly not a fan of the 'non-combat' use of the cloak; it just doesn't feel necessary. It seems weird to say you're trying to pack too much into this when you come in under 150 words, but... that's what it kinda feels like. Or at least, it feels like you're trying to give a reason for someone to wear it in their shoulders slot at all; otherwise, there's really nothing to prevent someone from just carrying this as a shield and wearing a cloak of elvenkind for an even better stealth bonus. Maybe there was a more appealing effect you could have tacked on as incentive to wear it, or include a requirement that it be worn up until combat in order to use it as a shield.
All in all...
This is a nice and simple item, with enough flair & creativity that I could definitely see myself playing characters that would love using it. I don't think it's perfect, and that you could probably have used a bit more of your alloted words to spice it up even more, but it's fun nonetheless. Congratulations and welcome to RPG Superstar!

As a judge I would bounce it for the swiss army knife issue. As a player it just does not catch my attention, but I am not a judge. Congratulations.


I only have one problem with this item: Swashbucklers aren't generally stealthy... so why the stealth bonus? If you added an agility bonus or a balance bonus or even a light weapon bonus, I'd have bought the title, but stealth?

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

I would have liked some sort of visual for this - if I'm going to be spinning it around, I want to know what I'm seeing. Swashbuckler makes me think blue, like the ocean, but...

There's potential here, so I hope the judges have it right. Good luck, but you'll have to impress me with your round 2 entry!

So... it's kind of like a cloak of elvenkind with a slightly better (untyped!) bonus to Stealth that can be used as a multipurpose shield when you're spotted? Interesting.

I could see a use for this in the hands of a sword-and-board ranger (they exist!). Nothing like appearing out of nowhere and beating someone to death with your cloak. Also, rogues can benefit from it if they're ever surprised in Stealth and need a little boost to their AC. The ability to switch the bonus to CMB does increase its versatility a tad.

Still, not my favorite, but very nice in terms of what it can be used for. Congrats on making the Top 32!

Regardless of the semantics that the judges brought up about not being a slot or a SBIAC, this item would make its way more than once on several PCs of mine if it were made available. I could see a swashbuckling-rogue type make tactical use of this to catch an opponent off guard.

Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

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

Ant Health Warning: this year, I really worked hard on technical execution of my item, so these reviews will likely reflect template use. Brace yourselves for the template fu - it can sting.

Template Use: 7/10

I docked a point for old school "and" usage in the Aura, I think it should have been listed as "moderate abjuration, moderate transmutation;", but thats just the evil template fu speaking :)
Also Cat's grace is a level 2 spell for all able to cast it, and Shield is a level 1 spell, which probably should drop moderate to faint.
No such slot as cloak.

Slot affinity: 8/10

I like the item, which makes this hard to score, e.g. when "doffing" to parry, does it become a shield or is it simply "flicking" the attack away from the wearer's body? It makes me wonder if it should have varying slots. So gut feel, I dinged you a couple of points simply because I couldnt settle it in my own mind.

Abuseability: 9/10
Quite tight in scope, not very abuseable - but my players could prove me wrong I'm sure. I don't like giving 10/10 so you got a 9.

Desirability: 8/10
Mmmmm, Errol Flynn moments. I like it, would use it on certain chatacters and npc's. Yeah, quite desirable.

Originality: 9/10
You set yourself a challenge by coming up with a new spin on cloaks and succeeded. I just like it - it's that simple. It's cool, you can have posey characters go posey in combat. Yeah. Another 9.

Ant Score: 41/50 (82%)

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Champion Voter Season 6, Champion Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Champion Voter Season 9

I like everything except the stealth bonus. I would have made it a bonus to a Charisma related skill. Good job though.

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka OwlbearRepublic

The concept on this one is great. It's really just a pricey re-skin of existing items, though. As everyone has mentioned, it has to take up the shield slot in shield mode, otherwise you're opening up all kinds of problems. Failing to address that in the text is a glaring oversight.

So, assuming that it does take up the shield slot while in use, what do we have? A cloak of elvenkind and a light wooden shield enchanted as a +1 shield and a +2 weapon. The weapon enchantment gives you your +2 to CMB plus a whole lot more, the cloak of elvenkind gives you even better stealth than the cloak of the swashbuckler, and the +1 shield gives you your shield bonus to AC. Total cost: 11,953 or thereabouts. The bonuses are superior, and the only thing it doesn't let you do is trip (and arguably drag). It's basically the same item.

This is a creative re-skin of existing magic items. Cool idea for a home campaign, but not really a new item, mechanically speaking. What would have taken this to the next level for me? More thoughtful design. Is this a shield for proficiency purposes? How is it different from a shield (for example, can you bash with it and does it occupy your hand)? Shouldn't an item that functions exactly as a +2 shield require Craft Magic Arms and Armor to construct? Does the cloak make you armed for the purposes of the disarm maneuver, and can you drop the cloak on a badly failed disarm as you can with weapons? The mechanical implementation is where this item failed to deliver, so in future rounds, I advise you to focus on thinking through the mechanical implications of your ideas (which should be very strong, if this item is any indication).

Congratulations and good luck in the next round.

As someone who is both an experienced GM and a trained historical fencer ( - which is *not* the same as sport fencing), I give Jim great kudos for developing an item that showcases in-game (or at least replicates to a degree) cloak using techniques from the real world, even if they are magically imparted through this item.

He gets my 'keep' for that, if no other reason than it's a fairly cool low-to-mid level item.

Star Voter Season 6

I like it. Some mechanical nitpicks:
I would probably give it a +3 shield bonus to AC, rather than functions as a +2 light shield. Then add bullrush into the list of combat manuevers it can perform. Its an improvement for people less proficient with shields.

I feel like this item should be mundane, but I still like it a lot.

Scarab Sages

I really appreciate the concept behind this item (it evokes an immediate image in my mind of it being used with a genuinely enjoyable cinematic quality) :D However, in that same cinematic theme I'm having trouble picturing the swashbuckler actually removing the cloak to use it... in the image that's conjured in my mind the cloak is still worn and all the cool little tricks that come with it are a matter of them adapting the worn item to ingenious uses... I think what I'm in a very bumbling way trying to say is I don't buy the necessity of doffing the item in the way described. It seems more appropriate that while worn the cloak offers a +2 shield bonus and allows for the extra maneuvers to be performed so long as the PC's shield slot is open, automatically assuming its use in combat... and jetison the stealth bonus altogether. If it were built that way, then you eliminate the worry over a PC buying this item just to use as a shield while wearing another cloak. Admittedly, people are having a hard time seeing it as a wondrous item already and eliminating the extra stealth makes it even less wondrous, but this is just how I kind of see it functioning in my head (completely subjective). I do think what you did here was quite an awesome idea and I'd be thrilled to see something like this end up in a supplement someday! Cool concept, pretty good delivery, good job :) And congrats on getting into the 32!

I can appreciate the cinematic feel of this item. I love the concept. I can see appropriate characters getting excited about its discovery, once they understood its uses.

I'm not happy with the presentation. Others above have already gone into detail, but I felt like too many elements were missing. An evocative descriptive paragraph helps engage the imagination of a shopping GM or player. The mechanics definitely need to be tightened up.

This is a great idea. You just need to work on execution. I hope you take all the posted advice to heart and really rock it in Round 2.

Star Voter Season 6

I don't see the user removing the cloak, so much as grabbing the bottom of it and wielding it (as would be a move action). I have to agree with Psalmist. I don't picture the wearer actually removing it. I feel like doff was the wrong verb.

I get it. Just not really feeling it. Doesn't seem to have much "spunk". Can't really think how I would "spunk it up" though.

Scarab Sages

Incidentally, I think I know why I'm not seeing the removal of the cloak in my head. When I'm imagining it, the figure in my mind is using a cape instead of a cloak, lol. That could be a big contributing factor to my inability to see it happening. Could we make it a cape of the swashbuckler, capes are cool and underused in campaigns (I think my next PC will wear a cape) :P

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

2 people marked this as a favorite.

"No capes!"
--Edna from The Incredibles

I really like the theme and versatility of the item but I wonder it would be better suited as a feat as oppose to an item.

Scarab Sages

Lol, could I get away with capa of the swashbuckler? Of course, I think then we're back into the realm of cloaks... I'm a little fuzzy on bull-fighter raiment since it's been a while since I read "The Sun Also Rises" (on a flight back home from Seattle strangely enough):D

Dedicated Voter Season 8

First of all, congratulations on making the top 32. Good luck in the next round(s).

Now, for looking at your item.
First Impression Hmm, hardly all that Superstar, is it? Looks, okay, but I'm not impressed out of my way.

Name: It's not great, as it is just, x of the y, but then, it's not bad either. Swashbuckler? You've got me interested...

Template: Uh, oh... "cloak" slot. Well, no amount of imagination makes that real. Other than that, no issues jump into my eyes.

Effect: Okay... so Stealth, and some shield and CMB effects? I don't get why these things are all so swashbuckler. Swashbuckler seems a little like an excuse to tie an otherwise wildly SAK item together. Other than that, the shielding effect is the main innovation, and more attention to that would have impressed me more.

Description: Okay, I had to double check "doff it", and I'll admit I'm not one to criticize words Shakespeare too used, but it's not really a neat expression, even then. I generally don't feel impressed by the language. "Dirty trick whose effects are lasting" seems like the most annoying wording, but then, I'm a grammar person. But seriously, if you go on in the competition, I'll more than second SKR on need to improve wording.

So, at the end ... I guess it's a fair item, but honestly, I'll need to see a very good organization for you to have my vote. Best of luck, though. Hope any of this was helpful.

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Reading this entry makes me think I've found the one other person who watched "The Cape".

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4


I wrote a conceptually similar item recently. (and I mean nothing mysterious about that, its just a statement of fact)


So its interesting to compare approaches.


You could have given it a different type of AC bonus besides a shield bonus (like an insight bonus). Require that user hold it in a free hand. If it conveys absolutely no benefit in a particular slot, then you don't have to call it out as belonging to that slot.

For example, a cloak that doesn't do a damn thing while you're wearing it on your SHOULDERS, doesn't have to be assigned to the shoulder slot.

If it only works while holding it in your hand, it has no slot, but you have to be explicit about saying that it takes a free hand to hold. Keeps it balanced that way too.


Despite the lecture, I have great affection for this item!


Look forward to next round.

My wife runs a Tome of Secrets swashbuckler in our current game, and this is exactly the sort of item she'd love to have (she tends to hoard gold because she's very picky about what she'll buy). Thematically, it's tightly designed, and it is a pretty attractive suite of powers for a lightly armored martial character.

Having said that, heed the judges' advice on stepping it up in the following rounds - this is definitely a grab bag of bonuses, and I'm sort of surprised it made the cut. One thing I would really have liked to have seen done here is to expand on the idea of parrying with the cloak to somehow encompass the parry ability granted by the duelist prestige class.

Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Congratulations Jim,
Good call on defining the doff time, it could have easily been missed. I am waiting for something more swashbucklery, but I think you nailed the historic use of the item, which can be difficult in the day of MMO and CGI. Nice job and good luck!

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8

I'm planning a campaign, and one of the player's has expressed a desire to create a swashbuckler archtype rogue. When I saw this item's name, I immediately had to see if she would appreciate her character having one of these. I really like the concepts you've placed into this item, and how well they fit together. The parrying cloak concept really deserves to be in the game, and I like how you handled it.

I appreciate items that help a character visualize her concept and then play out that concept in combat. It is unfortunate when a player's concept just falls flat in the heat of combat. Your wondrous item is an excellent choice and gives the swashbuckler some fun options.

Great job!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Epic Meepo

Threat Analysis

You could be serious competition because.... you know how to create a mechanic that provides a character with interesting tactical options. Those are the sorts of things that go over well at the table.

You could become an even bigger threat in future rounds if... you polish up your wording a bit, and rely a little less on mechanics that involve moving a few numerical bonuses around. That can be fun in small doses, but gets old when overdone.

Liberty's Edge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2012 , Star Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 9

You delivered the stylish item I expected when I saw the name, and the fact that it is not just an AC bonus definitely fits the item's theme.

Congratulations, Jim, and good luck in the next round!

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka motteditor

I really like the imagery you've got here (and as someone else mentioned, it is a bit reminiscent of NBC's not-really-lamented "The Cape"). I'm not sure the mechanics quite work for me, though I do like bringing in the dirty tricks.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Heck yeah! I’m on the fence whether I like the Stealth bonus or not, but it is nice the cloak does something when you’re wearing it. But being able to use it as a shield and for combat maneuvers? That’s just awesome, and I’m not aware of other magic items catering to that use of cloaks. Does need to explicitly take the shield slot when being used that way though-or at least the free hand.
My swashbucklers and any fighting characters with even a measure of panache want this item!

Dark Archive

Grats on Top 32!

(I'm trying to catch up reading and commenting on the first-round winners before I read and vote on the 2nd-round stuff so I'm a wee bit behind, sorry!)

Knowing your slots is good; to teach myself (since I was dependent on the old 3.5 magic item sheet) I corrected the old magic item sheet and added the extra slots (there are more in PFRPG than 3.5) and made sure I had everything labeled correctly, photocopied it and still use it for all of my PCs I play. I also have one out and look at it every time I'm serious about designing a magic item, but that's just an idiosyncrasy.

For this item, I think the only change that would make it better is to change the untyped +4 to Stealth checks to a +5 competence bonus, otherwise you have players stacking this on top of their ring of chameleon power. Other than that love the shield/attack ability and can't wait to see more of what you have to offer.

Kudos, sir!

Jim Callaghan wrote:

Cloak of the Swashbuckler

Aura moderate abjuration and transmutation; CL 6th
Slot cloak; Price 12,000 gp; Weight 2 lbs.
This heavy cloak, when worn, grants a +4 bonus on Stealth checks. Alternatively, its wearer may doff it as move action to use it to parry in combat, where it is as effective as a +2 light wooden shield. When it is being used in such a manner, its bearer can give up its bonus to AC for the round to use the disarm, drag, trip, or dirty trick (blind or entangle) combat maneuver, gaining the +2 enhancement bonus on the CMB check. The wearer regains the AC bonus on his next turn, unless the cloak is being used for a dirty trick whose effects are lasting more than one round.
Requirements Craft Wondrous Items, cat’s grace, shield; Cost 6,000 gp


This post constitutes the views of a (very advanced) CE aligned succubus. Being such, Ask A RPGSupersuccubus is at complete liberty to change her mind on anything without giving any notice whatsoever. For those of you who missed last year (or as a reminder for those whose memories have failed) Ask A RPGSupersuccubus subscribes absolutely to balance, fairness, and logic in these reviews – in the sense that 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, fairness is a term applicable to assessing either hair colour or more general beauteousness and logic is something which proves anything a demon of adequate status and charm requires it to demonstrate.

Ask A RPGSupersuccubus acknowledges the efforts of the ready supply of willing victims on the ‘Nine Blazing Months’ items thread, who inadvertently contributed to the development of weapons-grade questions for use in this round.

Fair is foul and foul is fair supposedly (trust a mortal to make up a piece of complete mumbo-jumbo – it is of course generally impossible to get anything much fairer in any context which actually matters than a succubus). Basically, though, does this item have any useful application in a spa?
It's a heavy cloak, designed for brawlers, and doesn't do anything remotely useful in this context, so no.

Assuming for a moment that it’s more convenient to pay taxes than to circumvent the system, does this item look likely to be a tax-deductible business expense for a succubus art-dealer?
It's a heavy cloak, designed for brawlers and doesn't do anything... oh wait, it might conceivably be considered a valid item for outfitting a bouncer/store-guard. Still, it's not exactly described as natty looking.

Is the item useful in a strawberries-and-cream-tea context?

Other Comments?
You know, I'm pretty sure there are dirty fighters out there who train to do this sort of stuff with ordinary cloaks. Maybe they're just not very well publicised yet though.
Somewhat on the expensive side given its rude appearance.

Gollum Rating:
Ratings of items are prosaic and unfashionably conventional this year. Although rules are there to be broken (so long as they do not involve the dread lord, Orcus) as a general rule no items will thus be rated this year.

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