Trinkets and Treasures

Monday, June 25, 2018

Wayfinder. Bag of holding. Ring of the ram. Staff of power. Holy avenger.

The magic items you find during your adventures become a part of your story and let you do things beyond the techniques you've mastered and the spells you know. So how do these essentials of the game work in the Pathfinder Playtest?

Magic items are used in three major ways: by investing them, by activating them, or automatically. Invested items are ones you wear that you have to prepare as you don them, after which they work continuously. Activating items follows a system similar to that used for spells. Just as casting a spell requires you to spend actions to supply the somatic, verbal, and material components of the spell, activated items require you to use the Command Activation, Focus Activation, or Operate Activation action, or a combination of multiple actions. A potion requires you to spend an Operate Activation action to drink it. A necklace of fireballs requires you to spend 2 Operate Activation actions to unbind a bead and throw it. Activating a luck blade to reroll an attack just takes a mental nudge with a Focus Activation reaction (though you get to do that only once per day). Automatic activation happens with a small category of items that give their benefit whenever they're used for their normal purpose. A prime example is a sword with the frost property rune, which is always coated with frost and needs only hit a foe to deal extra cold damage.

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

Resonance

Activating or investing an item costs 1 Resonance Point (RP). You might have heard a bit about this on the Glass Cannon podcast! Resonance is a new resource all characters have that can be used to activate items. Your innate magic item resonance is represented by a number of Resonance Points equal to your level plus your Charisma modifier. This ties back to the Pathfinder First Edition concept of Charisma as the main ability score tied to innate magic, as seen in the Use Magic Device skill and the fact that Charisma is used for spell-like abilities, oracles, sorcerers, and so forth. However, in Pathfinder Second Edition, true scholars of itemcraft *cough*alchemists*cough* might get to use their Intelligence instead.

The idea of resonance stems from the Pathfinder First Edition occultist, who was able to tap into the magical potential of items, and even before that to the idea of resonance between creatures and various magic items, as seen with the resonant powers of wayfinders. We've expanded that concept to apply to everyone. In practical terms, you're really unlikely to run out of Resonance Points unless you're using an absurd number of items, and you're at the greatest risk at low levels. You still have a chance even if your pool is empty, though. You can overspend Resonance Points! If you're at 0 RP, you can attempt to activate or invest an item anyway. You need to attempt a flat check (a d20 roll with no modifiers) against a DC equal to 10 + the number of points you've overspent today. So the first item has a 50% chance of working, and it gets more risky from there.

We expect Resonance Points to be a contentious topic, and we're really curious to see how it plays at your tables. It's one of the more experimental changes to the game, and the playtest process gives us a chance to see it in the wild before committing to it. Here are the advantages we see from a design perspective:

  1. Using items is clear and consistent. Spend the required actions and 1 RP, and you activate or invest your item. If someone else wants to use the same item, you can remove it and let them put it on and invest it themselves.
  2. You have less to track. We get to remove some of the sub-pools that individual items have (such as "10 rounds per day which need not be consecutive" or "5 charges") because we know you have an overall limited resource. There are still some items that can't be used without limit, but they get to be special exceptions rather than being common out of necessity.
  3. It puts the focus on the strongest items. Because you can't activate items indefinitely, your best bet is to use the most RP-efficient item, not the most gp-efficient item. You want a high-level healing wand because you get more healing for your Resonance Point rather than getting a bunch of low-level wands because they're cheap.
  4. Investiture limits what you can wear. That means we don't need to rely heavily on an item slot system, creating more flexibility in what kind of worn items are useful. You'll read more about this on the blog on Friday, when we talk about removing the magic item Christmas tree!

Will those benefits be compelling? Will people prefer this system over the Pathfinder First Edition system? We look forward to finding out!

Want to look at an item to see how this works in practice?

Cloak of Elvenkind Item 10+

Illusion, Invested, Magical

Method of Use worn, cloak; Bulk L

Activation [[A]] Focus Activation, [[A]] Operate Activation


This cloak is deep green with a voluminous hood, and is embroidered with gold trim and symbols of significance to the elves. The cloak allows you to cast the ghost sound cantrip as an innate arcane spell. When you draw the hood up over your head (an Interact action), the cloak transforms to match the environment around you and muffles your sounds, giving you an item bonus to Stealth checks. If you activate the cloak, you pull the hood up and are affected by invisibility for 1 minute or until you pull the hood back down, whichever comes first.

Type standard; Level 10; Price 1,000 gp

The cloak grants a +3 bonus.

Type greater; Level 18; Price 24,000 gp

The cloak grants a +5 bonus, and invisibility is 4th level. If you're also wearing greater boots of elvenkind, the greater cloak of elvenkind allows you to Sneak in forest environments even when creatures are currently observing you.

Here's a fairly complex item to show multiple parts of the system at once. The cloak of elvenkind is level 10, and there's also a greater cloak of elvenkind with an item level of 18. In case you missed it in the crafting blog, items have levels now, which indicate the point at which you can craft them (as well as being handy for the GM when making treasure hoards). Method of use indicates that this item is worn and that it's a cloak. A few items have this two-part listing because they're hard to wear multiples of. Multiple cloaks, multiple boots... not practical. Multiple rings or amulets? No problem.

This item is both invested (note the invested trait) and activated (as you can see by the activation entry). Investing the cloak lets you cast ghost sound. You get this benefit as long as the cloak is invested, which means you can cast the spell whenever you want without activating the cloak and therefore without spending more Resonance Points. You can also get an item bonus to Stealth checks from the cloak (+3 or +5 for a greater cloak). Finally, you can activate the cloak as you raise the hood, spending 1 Resonance Point to turn invisible! Certainly not every item has as much going on as a cloak of elvenkind, but several classic items seemed like they needed a little extra special treatment! What do you think? Too much?

How about something simpler?

Floating Shield Item 13

Magical

Price 2,800 gp

Method of Use held, 1 hand; Bulk L

Activation [[A]] Operate Activation


This master-quality light wooden shield (Hardness 6) protects you without requiring you to spend actions each round. When you activate this shield, you can release it from your grip as a part of that action. The shield floats in the air next to you, granting you its bonus automatically, as if you Raised the Shield. Because you're not wielding the shield, you can't use reactions such as Shield Block with the shield.

After 1 minute, the shield drops to the ground, ending its floating effect. While the shield is adjacent to you, you can grasp it with an Interact action, ending its floating effect.

You can hold this and use it just like any other shield. Activating it lets you free up a hand to cause the shield to float, where it protects you without you spending an action! While the floating shield offers far less Hardness than many magic shields of a similar level (some have Hardness up to 18!), it's not meant for Shield Block, and its abilities allow you to use it even with a character who needs both hands for other things.

Now let's look at two special types of items: one revamped classic and one brand-new category!

Staves

We went through several different iterations of staves. They needed to remain a powerful tool for spellcasters, but we also wanted them to appear earlier in the game so you didn't have to wait for most staves to appear at higher levels. Let's see the staff of healing!

Staff of Healing Item 3+

Invested, Magical, Necromancy, Staff

Method of Use held, 1 hand; Bulk 1

Activation Cast a Spell (1 RP)


Made of smooth white wood, this staff is capped at each end with a golden cross adorned with a multitude of ruby cabochons. A staff of healing adds an item bonus to the Hit Points you restore any time you cast the heal spell using your own spell slots, using charges from the staff, or from channel energy.

Type minor; Level 3; Price 60 gp; Maximum Charges 3

The item bonus to heal spells is +1.

  • stabilize (cantrip)
  • heal (level 1)

I've included only the level 3 minor staff of healing here. There are also versions at levels 7, 11, and 15, and they add higher-level heal spells, plus restoration, remove disease, restore senses, and more! A staff is tied to you, which means you have to invest it, unlike most held items. This investiture has two extra benefits. First off, it links the staff to you, preventing anyone else from investing the staff for 24 hours. More importantly, it restores charges to the staff equal to the highest level of spell you can cast. You don't have to expend any spells to do this; it's all part of using your Resonance Points. You'll notice this also means that if you find one of these as a 1st-level character, it will take you longer to recharge it than if you're a higher-level spellcaster. You also get the item bonus to healing as long as you hold the invested staff.

Now how do you cast these spells? Well, you activate the staff as part of casting one of the spells in it (spending 1 RP as usual). Then you have two options: You can either expend charges from the staff equal to the spell's level (1 charge for heal here) or expend one of your own spells of that level or higher. Yeah, your staff essentially lets you spontaneously cast the spells in it!

Trinkets

How about something completely different? One thing we wanted to add was a type of item that was like scrolls for martial characters. Spellcasters use scrolls and everyone uses potions, but how about something special that relies on nonmagical skills? Trinkets were the answer! Our first example was designed specifically for fighters.

Fear Gem Item 4

Consumable, Enchantment, Fear, Magical, Mental, Trinket

Price 11 gp

Method of Use affixed, weapon; Bulk

Activation [[F]] Focus Activation; Trigger You use Intimidating Strike, but haven't rolled for the attack yet.


Dark smoke seems to writhe within this obsidian gem. When you activate the gem, if your Intimidating Strike hits, the target is frightened 2 and flat-footed against your attacks until the end of your next turn. If the attack roll is a critical success, the target is flat-footed against your attacks for 1 minute.

Trinkets all have the consumable trait, meaning they're used up after being activated once. They have the "affixed" method of use, and as this one indicates, it has to be affixed to a weapon. You can activate it with a Focus Activation as a free action when you use the Intimidating Strike action from the fighter feat of the same name. This makes the Intimidating Strike more severe, increasing its effect to frightened 2 instead of frightened 1 and making it especially strong on a critical success.

Now how about a trinket that's less specific?

Vanishing Coin Item 9

Consumable, Illusion, Magical, Trinket

Price 85 gp

Method of Use affixed, armor; Bulk

Activation [[F]] Focus Activation; Trigger You attempt a Stealth check for initiative, but haven't rolled yet.

Requirements You are a master in Stealth.


This copper coin dangles from a leather strip strung through a hole drilled into the coin's center. It's usually tied just below the throat on a suit of armor. Until it is activated, the coin becomes invisible for a few seconds every few minutes, but always at random intervals. When you activate the coin, you gain the benefits of a 2nd-level invisibility spell until the end of your next turn.

Anyone with master proficiency in Stealth can use this trinket by affixing it to her armor. She can turn invisible by activating the coin when she rolls a Stealth check for initiative. Pretty useful in the first round of a fight!

Well, there's a lot to say about magic items, and we'll have more to say on Friday. For now, I'm going to leave you with a short list of some of the new items appearing in the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook in addition to the classics.

  • Anklets of alacrity
  • Feather step stone
  • Forge warden
  • Grim trophy
  • Handwraps of mighty fists
  • Oil of weightlessness
  • Persona mask
  • Potency crystal
  • Runestone
  • Spell duelist's wand
  • Third eye
  • Virtuoso's instrument

Tell us what sorts of items you'd like to see in the final rulebook!

Logan Bonner
Designer

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Tags: Pathfinder Playtest Wayne Reynolds
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Paizo Employee Designer

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thflame wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
an item with charges (which seem common, Wands and Staves seem to all fall into this category)
Wands and staves, and only wands and staves, fall into this category. Staves are almost certainly the most complex item type in the game right now.
Why? Would it really be too powerful to let someone cast a spell as much as they have Resonance? I personally loathe tracking uses per day and I had hoped that Resonance would be the end of that. I don't see the point.

Well everything has a price. Staves could honestly lose their charges without trouble (the charges are an extra perk) and have a modest decrease in cost; they are already limited by your own spell slots if you don't use charges. But you mention "cast a spell as much as they have Resonance" so I think you're talking about wands. The difference between the price of a "10 uses ever of haste/fireball/other 3rd level spell" consumable for your sorcerer and a "~10 times per day every day of haste/fireball/other 3rd level spell and then hand it to the next character for even more uses if you like" permanent item is, as you might expect, a seriously huge difference. We certainly could make (and have made, like for instance the cloak of elvenkind) this kind of item, but it probably won't match the price, item level, and scope you might expect from a wand (for example, a wand of invisibility is 72 gp, whereas a cloak of elvenkind is 1,000 gp).


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Yeah, I'm gonna echo a common concern. I really like Resonance in theory (especially as a replacement to item slots), but as presented so far it seems really fiddly and unintuitive. Because you're often tracking charges and resonance at the same time seems to do little to alleviate the problems of use tracking, which tended to be most common with wands and staves anyway.

I also think some of the items could definitely be presented more concisely. John Ryan's solution, with each ability on its own line, is much easier to read and understand at a glance.


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Although is nice to see cheaper staves I think they still has the same problem PF1 staves had, that is a poor ROI, my biggest issue with PF1 staves was the limit of one per day recharge, so I'm skeptical of how much play PF2 staves are going to see, taking the minor staff of healing as example, at level 5 it drains from 2 to 5 RP in a day, 1 RP from investing + 1 to 3 RP from casting the spell + 1 RP to recharge, that seems like to much for a level 5 character in a single item.


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One thing I do really like about resonance is that having a consumable use limit, where you don't get anything for not reaching it, is going to encourage people to use more consumables. I have a group that is pathologically adverse to using consumables unless they are far and away the most efficient way to do something (e.g. 750gp CLW wands) and most potions and scrolls found in loot piles end up being sold for less impermanent stuff (this is also a "me problem" when I play.)

But "Might as well use all of your resonance for the day" seems likely to encourage people to use that potion or scroll they might have gotten by without.

Additionally having the activation cost on a magic item be resonance and not a "limited number of invocations, rounds, or minutes" I figure is going to encourage people not to hoard these uses.


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I love the changes to staves to make them more available at low levels, and expand your ability to recharge them when you invest each day. It will be really interesting to test out Resonance on the whole at my table!


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I don't think it's very clear what the costs are for each ability of the cloak. In particular, it's not clear if I have to spend resonance for each of those benefits, or just to don the cloak.
It might be better for items like this to describe the powers sequentially, e.g.:
Invest a point of resonance to don the cloak to gain X benefit.
Once donned:
Perform X action(s) to gain Y benefit(s).
Perform A actions(s) to gain B benefit(s).
...

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
willuwontu wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:

Two notes:

1) the descritptions are confusing as they are badly laid out. In particular the cloak of elvenkind. It explains how to activate invisibility and then it says that only the greater cloak has invisibility (or so I read).

Both cloaks have invis, base is 2nd level, greater is 4th.

Yes, I have got it after re-reading for the 4th time. As I said, confusing.

So an increase in 2 points of stealth bonus and from invisibility level 2 to invisibility level 4 is worth a price multiplier of x24.

Still perplexed on the prices.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I like the concept of resonance, and DO think that those problems that were listed as reasons for implementing resonance needed to be addressed. But those item descriptions and different "activations and actions" are a bit of a mess. It needs to be obvious what will cost resonance, and what will not.

Here's my reading of the Cloak of Elvenkind for instance.

Spend a resonance at the start of the day to invest in it.

You gain unlimited use of the Ghost Sound cantrip while you are invested in the Cloak.

You can draw the hood of the cloak up with an Interact action and gain a stealth bonus. This does not cost resonance but you need to be invested in order to gain this effect.

If your hood is drawn you can use a Focus Activation and an Operate Activation to expend a point of resonance and gain invisibility for 1 minute. You also need to be invested in order to gain this effect.

Is my reading of this correct or no? It took me a few rereads to get to that point so I really hope I'm not incorrect, otherwise the description has completely failed it's purpose of informing me what the item does.

Also: if an item with the "invested" attribute isn't invested is it just assumed that it does absolutely nothing? If so I hope that is plainly called out somewhere in the rules, because it isn't obvious just from this blog.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
an item with charges (which seem common, Wands and Staves seem to all fall into this category)
Wands and staves, and only wands and staves, fall into this category. Staves are almost certainly the most complex item type in the game right now.

This is good to know, and if it were only Staves I'd be less concerned. Wands are super common and gonna continue to be so, though, and by far the most logistically difficult item to keep track of in PF1. Adding Resonance costs just makes that worse.

I mean, lower number of charges would help (and seems likely based on stuff you said in another thread)...but I still remain very concerned about the specific Resonance/Charges interaction.

I think as long as wands remain a multi-use consumable, it's definitionally and tautologically going to have charges, or at least a synonym for charges (I mean, they are basically similar to scrolls in bulk, like in PF1). Staves could lose their charges in their current incarnation and still function just fine, though.


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So if wands are "multi-use consumables" is there a wand-analogue for trinkets? i.e. scrolls : wands :: trinkets : ????

If trinkets do not have a multi-use analogue, do scrolls need one?

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:

I'd like to start by saying that I'm fine with Resonance conceptually. I'm on board and think it's a far superior alternative to item slots for worn items, and seems a reasonable way to restrict consumables like potions.

But as is? It's too fiddly combined with charges. It's messy and inelegant to reduce two things every time you use an item with charges (which seem common, Wands and Staves seem to all fall into this category) and kind of a bookkeeping nightmare. I mean, point #2 is defeating its own purpose, as it reduces complexity slightly with X/day abilities (and apparently not even all of those if Luck Blade is 1/day), but vastly increasing it with items that use charges.

This is not simpler. It is more complicated and logistically difficult. And that's an issue.

Personally, for wands and staves, I would prefer "spending 1 resonance point attune the item for 24 hours and give you X uses." Plus the ability to spend spells or more RP for extra uses that don't cost charges.


2nd paragraph wrote:
A prime example is a sword with the frost property rune

Is this a subtle hint to rune magic being more prominent in Pathfinder from now on?


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Staves really needs to use either resonance or charges for their effect not both.

Will there be an easy way to tell which items you can invest and hand off for someone else to invest (as per bullet point 1), and items like staves that lock someone else out from using it for 24hours?

If you invest in an item and pass it off to someone else to invest in, do you still retain that investment for 24 hours if they hand it back or do you need to spend another RP?


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edduardco wrote:
Although is nice to see cheaper staves I think they still has the same problem PF1 staves had, that is a poor ROI, my biggest issue with PF1 staves was the limit of one per day recharge, so I'm skeptical of how much play PF2 staves are going to see, taking the minor staff of healing as example, at level 5 it drains from 2 to 5 RP in a day, 1 RP from investing + 1 to 3 RP from casting the spell + 1 RP to recharge, that seems like to much for a level 5 character in a single item.

From my understanding, you spend only 1 RP to invest into it in the morning, and this includes recharging a number of charges equal to the max level spell you can normall cast. So if you have access to Lv2 spells, you recharge 2 charges to it.

Unsure about the rest because poor wording. Badly written post is badly written.


Rules Artificer wrote:


My only concern remains with consumable items such as potions and scrolls requiring resonance to use. Consumables were already a hard sell in 1E, with mainly the cheapest of the cheap actually seeing use. Having to expend time to craft, initial gold cost, and resonance and actions to activate all for an effect that's one-and-done seems like it's going to swing things away from using consumables and towards saving up for permanent items even further.

Depends how deep the Resonance pool is and consumable prices relative to profession income. If a 4th level Fighter can use their profession to make 30 gp a day during downtime 5 Fear Gems are 2 days work.


Patrick Newcarry wrote:
2nd paragraph wrote:
A prime example is a sword with the frost property rune
Is this a subtle hint to rune magic being more prominent in Pathfinder from now on?

It was mentioned in another post that Weapon and Armor enchants are now called "Runes".


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Wandering Wastrel wrote:
Paizo Blog wrote:
A potion requires you to spend an Operate Activation action to drink it. A necklace of fireballs requires you to spend 2 Operate Activation actions

Urgh.

It's possible that I'll get used to this sort of phrasing, but right now it just seems... no.

The wording definitely cast Induce Greater Headache on me, yeah. >.>

Seriously, what's wrong with saying "A potion requires 1 action to drink" or "A necklace of fireballs requires a total of 2 actions to use: 1 to pull a bead loose and 1 to throw it."

Do we seriously have to overdefine every single possible action in the game? This isn't a computer program which requires that sort of thing for the machine to understand your intent.

If you really really have to define the actions, say Use Action or Operate Action instead of Operate Activation Action. Say Focus Action instead of Focus Activation Action. Etc

Liberty's Edge

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Mark Seifter wrote:
I think as long as wands remain a multi-use consumable, it's definitionally and tautologically going to have charges, or at least a synonym for charges (I mean, they are basically similar to scrolls in bulk, like in PF1).

Well, yeah. Making them more intuitive/less logistically difficult is thus a matter of either making them not a consumable or changing how they work in some other way. I don't really have a specific solution for this one (and actually really wish I did), I'm just expressing a concern that this interaction rather defeats the simplification goal.

Mark Seifter wrote:
Staves could lose their charges in their current incarnation and still function just fine, though.

This would have the advantage of making a Staff simpler, I'll not deny.


It only says you invest it when you "don" the item. (At least that I saw)
Am I missing anywhere it specifically says you have to re-invest every day?
Or maybe it's every time you take something off.....


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I think Resonance is an interesting approach to get rid of the X/Day items, however I think there is an unintended consequence that I've not yet seen addressed.

Since all the items draw from the same pool, it implies that all item activations are equally powerful. This means that players are dis-incentivized from even keeping their old cloak from level 5 once they get access to some other level 10 cloak, because its more useful to activate the level 10 spell-in-a-can then a level 5 one. The old level 5 X/Day item remains just as useful at later levels, while in the new system the relative value of one point of resonance increases.

One way of working around this would be to multiply all resonance amounts by 3 (or some other number) and have resonance costs for lower level items go down as PCs level up. Or you could flip it and have resonance pools double/triple at levels 8/16. Then you multiply the resonance costs of every item of those levels as appropriate. This way, weaker items remain interesting.


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Fuzzypaws wrote:

The wording definitely cast Induce Greater Headache on me, yeah. >.>

Seriously, what's wrong with saying "A potion requires 1 action to drink" or "A necklace of fireballs requires a total of 2 actions to use: 1 to pull a bead loose and 1 to throw it."

Do we seriously have to overdefine every single possible action in the game? This isn't a computer program which requires that sort of thing for the machine to understand your intent.

If you really really have to define the actions, say Use Action or Operate Action instead of Operate Activation Action. Say Focus Action instead of Focus Activation Action. Etc

I think they need to define them because some will generate Attacks of Opportunity, others won't, and stuff like that.

But yeah. The wording is really bad. It was as bad on the spell example.
Instead of "Actions: Somatic, Verbal" it was written: "Casting: Somatic Casting, Verbal Casting".

Also, the fact that they are talking about them as if they were terms that got explained to us (when they weren't) doesn't help neither and creates un-needed confusion while we try to guess whats the mechanical difference while playing between a Focus Action and a Opperate Action.

Does Opperate require a free hand? Does it generate AoO? I'm assuming so, but from educated guesses and half of them will eventually be proven wrong. If the post was going to use the language, it should have started explaining it.


Honestly I'm wondering if we just slim down resonance to a simple you have to spend some downtime to charge up reusable items, like 15 minutes up to a max of so many charges say 5 (or/and use reagents in addition/instead). When you run out of changes it's down time again to recharge, and not worry about any point tracking beyond that. Also, just eliminate any ability score involvement, so low charisma characters are not penalized at all.

I'm actually not sure if I like my own idea, oh well. I'll keep thinking.


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Knight Magenta wrote:
Since all the items draw from the same pool, it implies that all item activations are equally powerful.

Does it though? 2 things that cost the same number of actions need not be equally powerful (e.g. "strike with your Legendary +5 Sword" vs. "strike with your untrained foot") and two things that cost the same number of spell points may not be equally powerful (e.g. "Ki Strike" versus most monk powers since "1 SP for +1 to hit" isn't great). We just leave the onus on the player to differentiate between efficient and inefficient, the same way we do with every other currency in the game (e.g. gold, feats, spell slots, etc.)

Like a low level healing wand and a high level healing wand have the same RP cost, intentionally, but this is to justify the higher monetary cost of the one that heals more.


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I don't like the idea of spending any kind of points or actions to activate basic magical armor and weapons. The plus bonuses should not require either. Now, I'm fine with spending reser-whatever points to activate celestial armors fly ability, or a wish from a luck blade. Cloak of Resistance, my mounts magical barding, the Seeking arrow I put shoot from my +2 bow, (2 RP??), nope. You're just giving me points and then taking them away. Not fun. Not worth the paper tracking.


Mark Seifter wrote:
I think as long as wands remain a multi-use consumable, it's definitionally and tautologically going to have charges, or at least a synonym for charges (I mean, they are basically similar to scrolls in bulk, like in PF1). Staves could lose their charges in their current incarnation and still function just fine, though.

This will be a good improvement


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
an item with charges (which seem common, Wands and Staves seem to all fall into this category)
Wands and staves, and only wands and staves, fall into this category. Staves are almost certainly the most complex item type in the game right now.

This is good to know, and if it were only Staves I'd be less concerned. Wands are super common and gonna continue to be so, though, and by far the most logistically difficult item to keep track of in PF1. Adding Resonance costs just makes that worse.

I mean, lower number of charges would help (and seems likely based on stuff you said in another thread)...but I still remain very concerned about the specific Resonance/Charges interaction.

I think as long as wands remain a multi-use consumable, it's definitionally and tautologically going to have charges, or at least a synonym for charges (I mean, they are basically similar to scrolls in bulk, like in PF1). Staves could lose their charges in their current incarnation and still function just fine, though.

Perhaps just don't make wands consumable?

Here's how I would handle it:

-Spend 1 RP to attune a wand.

-Spend 1 RP to cast the spell from the wand. (And any required actions for the spell.)

From your earlier response to my post, I assume that these items exist, they just aren't "wands". I guess what I am suggesting is that those items SHOULD be wands, and "wands" as they are(or "charged items"), just should not exist.

This is all coming purely from a ease of use stand point. I don't want to have to track Resonance AND charges simultaneously. I feel like doing so defeats the point of having Resonance in the first place.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Knight Magenta wrote:

I think Resonance is an interesting approach to get rid of the X/Day items, however I think there is an unintended consequence that I've not yet seen addressed.

Since all the items draw from the same pool, it implies that all item activations are equally powerful. This means that players are dis-incentivized from even keeping their old cloak from level 5 once they get access to some other level 10 cloak, because its more useful to activate the level 10 spell-in-a-can then a level 5 one. The old level 5 X/Day item remains just as useful at later levels, while in the new system the relative value of one point of resonance increases.

One way of working around this would be to multiply all resonance amounts by 3 (or some other number) and have resonance costs for lower level items go down as PCs level up. Or you could flip it and have resonance pools double/triple at levels 8/16. Then you multiply the resonance costs of every item of those levels as appropriate. This way, weaker items remain interesting.

That's kind of defeats the purpose of what they are trying to do dude. They want weaker items to be less attractive to use at higher levels. because otherwise item choice just becomes a math game where you're trying to get the most use out of your gold rather than picking up powerful cool items.


Elvenkind Cloak:
Hmm... I wonder about the cantrip ghost sound. What spell level is that?
Based on item level? Or based on user's level?
Sort of relatedly, I notice the greater version mentions 4th level invisibility.
The base version just mentions invisibility with no spell level.
Should all spell reference their level? Or rely on reader to know/ look up spell level?
Should non-standard spell levels be indicated explicitly as heightened?
If you didn't already know the spell level, it's not clear "4th level invisibility" is special.

Floating Shield:
Seems you are forced to either suffer 1 less round duration to regrasp shield while it is floating,
OR if you allow it float for final round, will need 1 extra action to pick up + re-equip it.
Not sure how important that is considering 1 minute duration, but perhaps allow Regrasp as Reaction?
That isn't even counting that the user would also probably want to Activate it again to re-float it.

Staff of Healing:
I don't know if I like the investiture-exclusivity for 24h thing.
Pragmatically, should allies be barred from using it if the normal wielder dies, despite also needing RP to invest the item?
It also introduces interesting dynamic re: equipment of defeated enemies...
I mean, perhaps that is material for a spell to overcome investiture exclusivity, but... BIG HMMM...

Having RP cost for both Investing and casting spells from the charges seem heavy, but OK...
(should there be option to not Invest it but still be able to spend RP to use charges?)
It seems really dubious to apply RP cost if using it just to spontaneously cast Heal using own slots.
AFAIK the rationale for using RP is it is extra magic beyond your normal limits (slots), which doesn't apply to that.
Somebody noted issue of casting own already Prep'd/Known Heals, but IMHO even if you didn't already Know the spell
if you are using own slots that shouldn't cost more RP, the benefit of "Knowing" Heal should fall under Investiture.
(which I agree on Investiture effects and singular usage effects should be clearly delineated)

And I think this is oversight, but it seems you technically need to spend RP to cast the CANTRIP.
EDIT: I see Mark answered that Cantrips are free to cast, definitely not clear from the rules text we see.
Don't think that is really intended...??? Like cloak, issue of what is Cantrip spell level applies.
Also, it isn't clear to me if ANYBODY (who spends RP) can now "Cast a Spell" with this item...?
If you're spending RP it doesn't seem implausible, but it piqued my interest what's going on there.
No skill check even for non-casters? No worries about using Staff of spells much higher than your own?

Anybody think the Item bonus to healing should be +1 PER SPELL LEVEL?
Flat +1 seems underwhelming IMHO, but would +4 per spell level be too much for 15th level version?
(I can't remember if Stabilize does actual HP healing, I don't think it does so shouldn't be affected...?)

Trinkets:
Not exactly sure of Activation/Trigger nomenclature, usually Triggers activate effect without requiring action,
but in this case Trigger seems to mean 'pre-req to take activating action' although that's not spelled out?
The Vanishing Coin seems a bit odd, assuming you need to fulfill the Trigger, you can't use it for non-combat?
Also, how does spending a Focus Activation action BEFORE Init has been rolled work?
You have 1 less action AFTER Init has been rolled? Needs explanation at minimum.
EDIT: I see Mark answered "it is a freebie as long as you were sneaking", which obviously isn't clear from item text.


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Since the majority of actions have been simplified, I expected resonance to follow that pattern. However I have to agree that, at first glance, I'm very confused about RP cost, what actions do what, and how the items is supposed to work when reading the statistics blocks. I'm hoping to see more clarification and having information be easily understood in regards to what items and actions do what. However right now the problems I am worried about and experiencing are as follows:

1. Martial characters prioritizing Charisma over any of their other stats to have an abundance of Resonance for their magical arms and armor, which won't compensate for casters being able to still cast magic and emulate these items without resonance.

2. The possibility of starting at Level 1 with 0 resonance if you have a Charisma modifier in the negatives, having to wait for magic items due to low resonance, and the inability to utilize activation items instead of invest items. I'm going to assume that the Resonance entry would state "character level plus your Charisma Modifier (Minimum of 1)" to compensate, but that's a hefty price to pay if you have to put a negative to any of your other stats for fear of having low resonance.

3. Tying resonance to consumables. I don't want my Barbarian to die because they are out of resonance using a weapon ability, and can't drink a potion without participating in a 50/50 dice roll. I only mention that possibility because of the paragraphs highlighting consumables such as scrolls, potions and trinkets as costing resonance.

In general I'm having major reservations regarding the resonance system as depicted in this blog post, but will leave additional comments for the Playtest.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Fuzzypaws wrote:
Wandering Wastrel wrote:
Paizo Blog wrote:
A potion requires you to spend an Operate Activation action to drink it. A necklace of fireballs requires you to spend 2 Operate Activation actions

Urgh.

It's possible that I'll get used to this sort of phrasing, but right now it just seems... no.

The wording definitely cast Induce Greater Headache on me, yeah. >.>

Seriously, what's wrong with saying "A potion requires 1 action to drink" or "A necklace of fireballs requires a total of 2 actions to use: 1 to pull a bead loose and 1 to throw it."

Do we seriously have to overdefine every single possible action in the game? This isn't a computer program which requires that sort of thing for the machine to understand your intent.

If you really really have to define the actions, say Use Action or Operate Action instead of Operate Activation Action. Say Focus Action instead of Focus Activation Action. Etc

I hope we will not have to repeat that constantly, but I think that having that kind of text in the rules is important. Actually, we will have icons, not text (AFAIK), so you can call them as you wish in game.


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Since everyone has resonance does that mean anyone can use a staff even if they are not a spell caster?

The Exchange

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I would make a comment on this post, but I have already made 6 posts using my cell phone today and lack the RP to use my phone again.


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Dire Ursus wrote:
Knight Magenta wrote:

I think Resonance is an interesting approach to get rid of the X/Day items, however I think there is an unintended consequence that I've not yet seen addressed.

Since all the items draw from the same pool, it implies that all item activations are equally powerful. This means that players are dis-incentivized from even keeping their old cloak from level 5 once they get access to some other level 10 cloak, because its more useful to activate the level 10 spell-in-a-can then a level 5 one. The old level 5 X/Day item remains just as useful at later levels, while in the new system the relative value of one point of resonance increases.

One way of working around this would be to multiply all resonance amounts by 3 (or some other number) and have resonance costs for lower level items go down as PCs level up. Or you could flip it and have resonance pools double/triple at levels 8/16. Then you multiply the resonance costs of every item of those levels as appropriate. This way, weaker items remain interesting.

That's kind of defeats the purpose of what they are trying to do dude. They want weaker items to be less attractive to use at higher levels. because otherwise item choice just becomes a math game where you're trying to get the most use out of your gold rather than picking up powerful cool items.

If cheaper lower level items are preferred over high level ones that means those high level items are not that cool or powerful actually.


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Dire Ursus wrote:
Knight Magenta wrote:

I think Resonance is an interesting approach to get rid of the X/Day items, however I think there is an unintended consequence that I've not yet seen addressed.

Since all the items draw from the same pool, it implies that all item activations are equally powerful. This means that players are dis-incentivized from even keeping their old cloak from level 5 once they get access to some other level 10 cloak, because its more useful to activate the level 10 spell-in-a-can then a level 5 one. The old level 5 X/Day item remains just as useful at later levels, while in the new system the relative value of one point of resonance increases.

One way of working around this would be to multiply all resonance amounts by 3 (or some other number) and have resonance costs for lower level items go down as PCs level up. Or you could flip it and have resonance pools double/triple at levels 8/16. Then you multiply the resonance costs of every item of those levels as appropriate. This way, weaker items remain interesting.

That's kind of defeats the purpose of what they are trying to do dude. They want weaker items to be less attractive to use at higher levels. because otherwise item choice just becomes a math game where you're trying to get the most use out of your gold rather than picking up powerful cool items.

It's still just a maths problem, just a little more complex because now you have to factor in your resonance as well as the gold cost - there will still be an optimal choice - probably not involving any consumables at the moment.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

OK, let me give reorganizing/clarifying the Cloak of Elvenkind a whirl. First, there's a mechanical issue with the cloak, in that you have to lower the hood and raise it again to turn invisible because of the way the ability is currently worded. I suspect many players will simply keep the hood up in order to benefit from the bonus to stealth whenever they need it, so this introduces a clunkiness to the gameplay. I've changed it for the item bonus to stealth to be constant and the invisibility to trigger on raising the hood.

I've also focused only on the lower level version of the item, as I think trying to pack both versions in one stat block is asking for trouble. Here's the attempt:

CLOAK OF ELVENKIND wrote:

CLOAK OF ELVENKIND ITEM 10+

Descriptors: Illusion, Invested, Magical

Method of Use worn, cloak; Bulk L

This cloak is deep green with a voluminous hood, and is embroidered with gold trim and symbols of significance to the elves.

Investment: When you invest into the Cloak of Elvenkind, the cloak transforms to match the environment around you and muffles your sounds, giving you an item bonus of +3 to stealth checks. Additionally, you gain the use of the following abilities.

Activated Abilities:
[[A]](vocal), [[A]](somatic): You cast the ghost sound cantrip as an arcane spell.

[[A]](interact), [[F]](focus), Pay 1 RP: Your interact action draws the hood of the cloak over your head while your focus action triggers the magic of the cloak. You are affected by invisibility for 1 minute or until you pull the hood back down, whichever comes first.

Type standard; Level 10; Price 1,000 gp

Lantern Lodge

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Just no to Wands and Staffs using charges and Resonance. It's just extra book-keeping without any real management choices. If Resonance is the resource you are managing, that should be the opportunity cost of the using the staff or wand.

Like, how many times are you going to use that staff or wand in your games lifetime? Are you going to use it for an adventure, then toss it for a better version to make more efficient use of your Resonance.

Pathfinder 2e should be looking for places to jettison the fiddly book-keeping of 1e in favour of more interesting decisions.


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Logan Bonner wrote:
We expect Resonance Points to be a contentious topic, and we're really curious to see how it plays at your tables. It's one of the more experimental changes to the game, and the playtest process gives us a chance to see it in the wild before committing to it.

So does this mean you have a less-experimental fallback system ready to plug in if Resonance crashes and burns? Would said fallback system be equivalent to PF1?

I'm hoping Resonance works out, but it's clearly not a done deal.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Knight Magenta wrote:

I think Resonance is an interesting approach to get rid of the X/Day items, however I think there is an unintended consequence that I've not yet seen addressed.

Since all the items draw from the same pool, it implies that all item activations are equally powerful. This means that players are dis-incentivized from even keeping their old cloak from level 5 once they get access to some other level 10 cloak, because its more useful to activate the level 10 spell-in-a-can then a level 5 one. The old level 5 X/Day item remains just as useful at later levels, while in the new system the relative value of one point of resonance increases.

One way of working around this would be to multiply all resonance amounts by 3 (or some other number) and have resonance costs for lower level items go down as PCs level up. Or you could flip it and have resonance pools double/triple at levels 8/16. Then you multiply the resonance costs of every item of those levels as appropriate. This way, weaker items remain interesting.

As I see it, the goal is exactly what you don't like. Especially for consumable. "I choose to use a less costly item that does X and cost 1 RP or a way more costly item that does X++ and cost 1 RP?".


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Fuzzypaws wrote:
Wandering Wastrel wrote:
Paizo Blog wrote:
A potion requires you to spend an Operate Activation action to drink it. A necklace of fireballs requires you to spend 2 Operate Activation actions

Urgh.

It's possible that I'll get used to this sort of phrasing, but right now it just seems... no.

The wording definitely cast Induce Greater Headache on me, yeah. >.>

Seriously, what's wrong with saying "A potion requires 1 action to drink" or "A necklace of fireballs requires a total of 2 actions to use: 1 to pull a bead loose and 1 to throw it."

Do we seriously have to overdefine every single possible action in the game? This isn't a computer program which requires that sort of thing for the machine to understand your intent.

If you really really have to define the actions, say Use Action or Operate Action instead of Operate Activation Action. Say Focus Action instead of Focus Activation Action. Etc

100% agree. It's really destroying the elegance of the 3-action economy. If Resonance requires this over-definition, then it's Resonance that should go.


BTW, seeing some more uses of Resonance with actual items, provokes some thoughts on general system.
In fact the amount of RP is not hard limit, it just means beyond that suffers ~50% (and escalating)
failure chance to activate, but only Crit Failures "cut off" that item from further usage attempts. Cool.
It seems to me though, that one would always prefer to keep SOME RP as "reliable reserve".
So if you are in non-time-critical situation, or don't really believe you MUST immediately
succesfully activate a RP-using magic item, it seems like one might prefer to use the
"roll for it" method (that doesn't consume RP) EVEN WHILE you still have real RP.
These usages would all escalate the failure chance for "rolling for it", but your real RP would remain.
Is the system going to allow for that approach?

Shadow Lodge

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John Ryan 783 wrote:
Oh, also, I notice this is all listed in GP not SP like things before it were. Is this a mistake, or are these items more expensive then a quick glance tells me?

A quick glance tells me 'trinkets' are way too expensive in PF2 to be called 'trinkets' after all.


Kaemy wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:

The wording definitely cast Induce Greater Headache on me, yeah. >.>

Seriously, what's wrong with saying "A potion requires 1 action to drink" or "A necklace of fireballs requires a total of 2 actions to use: 1 to pull a bead loose and 1 to throw it."

Do we seriously have to overdefine every single possible action in the game? This isn't a computer program which requires that sort of thing for the machine to understand your intent.

If you really really have to define the actions, say Use Action or Operate Action instead of Operate Activation Action. Say Focus Action instead of Focus Activation Action. Etc

I think they need to define them because some will generate Attacks of Opportunity, others won't, and stuff like that.

But yeah. The wording is really bad. It was as bad on the spell example.
Instead of "Actions: Somatic, Verbal" it was written: "Casting: Somatic Casting, Verbal Casting".

Also, the fact that they are talking about them as if they were terms that got explained to us (when they weren't) doesn't help neither and creates un-needed confusion while we try to guess whats the mechanical difference while playing between a Focus Action and a Opperate Action.

Does Opperate require a free hand? Does it generate AoO? I'm assuming so, but from educated guesses and half of them will eventually be proven wrong. If the post was going to use the language, it should have started explaining it.

There might also be feats that reduce the number of a specific type of action to use an item.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
dragonhunterq wrote:
Dire Ursus wrote:
Knight Magenta wrote:

I think Resonance is an interesting approach to get rid of the X/Day items, however I think there is an unintended consequence that I've not yet seen addressed.

Since all the items draw from the same pool, it implies that all item activations are equally powerful. This means that players are dis-incentivized from even keeping their old cloak from level 5 once they get access to some other level 10 cloak, because its more useful to activate the level 10 spell-in-a-can then a level 5 one. The old level 5 X/Day item remains just as useful at later levels, while in the new system the relative value of one point of resonance increases.

One way of working around this would be to multiply all resonance amounts by 3 (or some other number) and have resonance costs for lower level items go down as PCs level up. Or you could flip it and have resonance pools double/triple at levels 8/16. Then you multiply the resonance costs of every item of those levels as appropriate. This way, weaker items remain interesting.

That's kind of defeats the purpose of what they are trying to do dude. They want weaker items to be less attractive to use at higher levels. because otherwise item choice just becomes a math game where you're trying to get the most use out of your gold rather than picking up powerful cool items.
It's still just a maths problem, just a little more complex because now you have to factor in your resonance as well as the gold cost - there will still be an optimal choice - probably not involving any consumables at the moment.

As long as the optimal choice is always to use the more powerful item and expensive item, then I think the resonance system would be a success for me.

And I personally hate consumables in all games anyways so that's fine with me.

Paizo Employee Designer

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thflame wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
an item with charges (which seem common, Wands and Staves seem to all fall into this category)
Wands and staves, and only wands and staves, fall into this category. Staves are almost certainly the most complex item type in the game right now.

This is good to know, and if it were only Staves I'd be less concerned. Wands are super common and gonna continue to be so, though, and by far the most logistically difficult item to keep track of in PF1. Adding Resonance costs just makes that worse.

I mean, lower number of charges would help (and seems likely based on stuff you said in another thread)...but I still remain very concerned about the specific Resonance/Charges interaction.

I think as long as wands remain a multi-use consumable, it's definitionally and tautologically going to have charges, or at least a synonym for charges (I mean, they are basically similar to scrolls in bulk, like in PF1). Staves could lose their charges in their current incarnation and still function just fine, though.

Perhaps just don't make wands consumable?

Here's how I would handle it:

-Spend 1 RP to attune a wand.

-Spend 1 RP to cast the spell from the wand. (And any required actions for the spell.)

From your earlier response to my post, I assume that these items exist, they just aren't "wands". I guess what I am suggesting is that those items SHOULD be wands, and "wands" as they are(or "charged items"), just should not exist.

This is all coming purely from a ease of use stand point. I don't want to have to track Resonance AND charges simultaneously. I feel like doing so defeats the point of having Resonance in the first place.

If so, a wand of invisibility is going to cost more like 1,000 gp and be something you find/buy/get closer to 10th level than to 4th. And it would invert the relationship between staves and wands, insomuch as wands would be a lot more expensive than staves. Not saying it's impossible, but it's a big shift (one way to reduce that shift could be to have wands be something like a one-spell version of the current staves and remove charges from both, though then they are very similar to each other unless staves also change). Personally, I'm curious about how we can best use the really heavily thematic types of magic items with heavy genre buy-in (staves, wands, scrolls, potions, to name some) in ways that make some of them more interesting than just various numbers of uses of spells in a can. Staves and potions have moved away from that; scrolls seem like the best item type to continue being a spell in a can since it's like a pre-written spell, so that does leave room for wands to be something else.


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Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Put me down for wanting staves to keep charges. If they don’t, then they’re just inefficient hand-held Pages of Spell Knowledge. People wanted limited-per-day non-disposable wands, and that’s what they effectively are.


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Cellion wrote:


CLOAK OF ELVENKIND wrote:

CLOAK OF ELVENKIND ITEM 10+

Descriptors: Illusion, Invested, Magical

Method of Use worn, cloak; Bulk L

This cloak is deep green with a voluminous hood, and is embroidered with gold trim and symbols of significance to the elves.

Investment: When you invest into the Cloak of Elvenkind, the cloak transforms to match the environment around you and muffles your sounds, giving you an item bonus of +3 to stealth checks. Additionally, you gain the use of the following abilities.

Activated Abilities:
[[A]](vocal), [[A]](somatic): You cast the ghost sound cantrip as an arcane spell.

[[A]](interact), [[F]](focus), Pay 1 RP: Your interact action draws the hood of the cloak over your head while your focus action triggers the magic of the cloak. You are affected by invisibility for 1 minute or until you pull the hood back down, whichever comes first.

Level 10; Price 1,000 gp

Quote:

[Indent]

Greater CLOAK OF ELVENKIND

The bonus to stealth the cloak grants increases to a +5 bonus, and the invisibility is 4th level. If you're also wearing greater boots of elvenkind, the greater cloak of elvenkind allows you to Sneak in forest environments even when creatures are currently observing you.

Level 18; Price 24,000 gp
[/indent]

Much better looking, also added in the greater to it.

Lantern Lodge

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Cellion wrote:

Here's the attempt:

CLOAK OF ELVENKIND wrote:

CLOAK OF ELVENKIND ITEM 10+

Descriptors: Illusion, Invested, Magical

Method of Use worn, cloak; Bulk L

This cloak is deep green with a voluminous hood, and is embroidered with gold trim and symbols of significance to the elves.

Investment: When you invest into the Cloak of Elvenkind, the cloak transforms to match the environment around you and muffles your sounds, giving you an item bonus of +3 to stealth checks. Additionally, you gain the use of the following abilities.

Activated Abilities:
[[A]](vocal), [[A]](somatic): You cast the ghost sound cantrip as an arcane spell.

[[A]](interact), [[F]](focus), Pay 1 RP: Your interact action draws the hood of the cloak over your head while your focus action triggers the magic of the cloak. You are affected by invisibility for 1 minute or until you pull the hood back down, whichever comes first.

Type standard; Level 10; Price 1,000 gp

Also just quoting this for emphasis, the items should all be formatted as clearly as this and hopefully printable either by your good selves at Paizo or online. Being able to give a player a card with their new magic item is just a boon to both player and GM.


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thflame wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
an item with charges (which seem common, Wands and Staves seem to all fall into this category)
Wands and staves, and only wands and staves, fall into this category. Staves are almost certainly the most complex item type in the game right now.
Why? Would it really be too powerful to let someone cast a spell as much as they have Resonance?

Of course it would be, that would allow up to 19+Cha 9th level spells per day without touching your spell slots.


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These whole new rules might take some time to learn properly...


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graeme mcdougall wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:
Paizo Blog wrote:
A potion requires you to spend an Operate Activation action to drink it. A necklace of fireballs requires you to spend 2 Operate Activation actions

Seriously, what's wrong with saying "A potion requires 1 action to drink" or "A necklace of fireballs requires a total of 2 actions to use: 1 to pull a bead loose and 1 to throw it."

If you really really have to define the actions, say Use Action or Operate Action instead of Operate Activation Action. Say Focus Action instead of Focus Activation Action. Etc

100% agree. It's really destroying the elegance of the 3-action economy. If Resonance requires this over-definition, then it's Resonance that should go.

1) That has nothing to do with Resonance.

2) I agree on extreme awkwardness of "Operate Activation Action". (action in lowercase?)
IMHO there needs to be consolidation here. They can define Operate as a type of Activation action.
But they don't need to repeat that whole chain of words, they can simply say "Operate action" which we know is a sub-type of Activation action.
There really is no reason not to do that, unless they expect to have Operate also be sub-type of other types of actions that aren't Activate.
Which would be really confusing, stupid, and something that's just easy to avoid by saying they won't ever do that.
(they won't completely simplify to "action" because Operate [Activate] Action has specific rules attached, some characters will get AoOs specifically against Operate and/or Activate but not other actions. but like I said if Operate is "understood" as always a sub-type of Activate, they don't need to constantly repeat Activate along with it)

EDIT: This is exacerbated here by the Fireball bead using Operate Activation to "detach" the bead, but that obviously isn't actually Activating the item. IMHO this is simply artifact of them expecting you to do the two actions together, i.e. it is one action measured in two "action-units" (which lacks clear term, I've proposed "beat"), but that won't always match actual usage, people will have 1 remaining action in a round so they will want to draw the bead, to then use the next round. Better to just treat detaching the bead as drawing an item, which isn't an Activate action.

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