I've been pondering what to build with a Dhampir boon I've been sitting on for a while. I've decided that I want him to be a necromancer specializing in animating and commanding undead, with the ability to do some debuffing on the side. I want to be more casting focused, and avoid melee. So far I have whittled my options down to a Cleric (probably Urgathoa for flavor) or the Dhampir racial wizard archetype of Cruoromancer.
Both have their pros and cons. Which do you think will be better/more capable in the long run?
I'll probably be tarred, feathered, and run out of town for this one, but I think it needs to be said.
There are a lot of reasons why I play Society over traditional home games. I like how consistent and scheduled it is, for one. It's nice knowing that come rain or shine, there will be a table or two full of players at my local lodge every Thursday. I like how the strict 4-hour time slot fits into my busy schedule. I enjoy the persistence of it, and the fact that my characters can seamlessly hop into a scenario at a convention on the other side of the country and not miss a beat (though I rarely get to exercise that option). I also like the friendships and camaraderie that PFS encourages; seeing old friends week after week as well as making new ones on occasion.
But if I'm being honest with myself, one of the things I like best about PFS is that it puts the GM and the PCs on a level playing field. They are bound and restricted by the written rules just as much as I am, and frankly, I love it!
You see, I am probably what most of you would label a "power gamer". I tend to build powerful, well-rounded, optimized PCs. I can't help myself. Fully half of my enjoyment of this game comes from theory-crafting builds and combing every book and PDF for the perfect feat, trait, or piece of equipment that compliments my character. To me, every character is a work of art, painstakingly built piece by piece with the greatest care taken to make sure that whatever their "schtick" is is entirely 100% legal by RAW.
I abhor cheating. Can't stand it. Part of the thrill of making optimized PCs is knowing that they will stand up to intense scrutiny, and the OCD part of me delights in carefully making sure every purchase, item expenditure, and other bit of record-keeping minutiae is done by-the-book (even though my GMs groan when I have them initial ALL my transactions).
Now, mind you, I am not one of those limelight-stealing power gamers who completely shut down encounters and deprive others of fun. I am content to sit back, happy to default to my character's "Option B" but knowing that I have a nuclear option to deploy should the need arise.
In most of the home games I've played, I've noticed the GMs tend to get upset when my characters unleash their full potential. Some of this is due to just poor, adversarial GMing, but even good GMs become a little off-put when you suddenly trivialize an encounter that was on the brink of becoming a TPK. Inevitably, though, once they go over my character with a fine-toothed comb and realize that everything is above board, most of them resort to that all-powerful prerogative of GMs everywhere: fiat.
I hate GM fiat. It feels too much like cheating to me, and I feel it can be disrespectful to the players. With nothing but a hand wave, a GM can completely invalidate my PCs, some of whom I have spent dozens or even hundreds of hours planning and building. Nothing tanks my enjoyment of the game faster than when my GM tells me that the one thing my character has dedicated his entire life to simply doesn't work.
Enter PFS. My first Society game was something of a revelation. I was playing a pregen, and we were in a encounter that was quickly turning hairy. One of the other PCs, a witch, cast slumber on the BBEG, and it was immediately effective. Lights out, game over, we won. I fully expected the GM to balk at this, but he simply asked the player to explain her character's admittedly higher than normal save DC, which she did. Then he nodded and moved on, and that was it. I was amazed, and instantly hooked. I have never played a home game since. And I have never again had to experience a GM telling me that my highly-optimized sunder barbarian failed his sunder check just because.
You are quite right! Colorblindedness - 1, me - 0.
Recently, my small local lodge has had an influx of kids come in and express an interest in PFS. Rather than try to integrate them into the tables with all the adults (and potentially running into some problems), I decided to step up and GM a separate kid's table. I like kids and I think it will be a fun challenge to test my storytelling chops.
My problem is that I am relatively new to PFS (though not to Pathfinder in general), so I don't know which scenarios are more child appropriate and which are not. I'd like some suggestions on scenarios that are:
1. Fairly PG rated.
2. Jump right into the action or have a simple, strong hook to get the kids engaged quickly.
3. Can preferably be run in a 3 hour time slot, rather than 4.
I should also mention that I am looking for full scenarios, and not quests, Beginner Box demos, or the Kid's Track.
I second your sentiments, Covent. I myself rarely frequent Paizo boards during the rest of the year, but I absolutely LOVE coming back as December rolls around and seeing all the familiar faces.
What a great community RPGS has! To me, you all are some of the most creative, talented, and brilliant people I've ever had the pleasure of sharing a message board with.
Best of luck to everyone. I can hardly WAIT!!!!!
Liked: Great job tying your item into Golarion. This thing fits the nomadic vibe of the Shoanti quite well. It's also quite useful, if a bit mundane.
Disliked: There's nothing intrinsically wrong with this fetish. It has useful abilities, and is themed appropriately. It's also tied into Golarion very well.
However, when all the flavor is stripped away, we're left with a few unexciting static bonuses and darkvision. Not very Superstar.
Final Thoughts: There's a lot to like here, but you played it too safe with your abilities. Next year don't be afraid to take risks and consider abilities that let a player do things they have never been able to do before.
Liked: Folks, pay attention. This is how you write an item’s physical description! Garrett, you’ve given us a master class here. You’ve given us four of the five senses (sight, sound, feel, and smell), shape and comparative size (to something that any reader will be intimately familiar with – a housefly!), and you’ve wrapped all of that up in some truly beautiful and evocative prose. Well done!
Disliked: I have no true problems with your core mechanic (creature fails a will save, gains a negative level for one minute while you gain the use of one of its special abilities). In fact, I quite like it, and if you had given us only this ability, and nothing else, then this seed would have easily made my top 5.
Instead, you tacked on some really convoluted activation mechanics that are confusing, impractical, and really bring down the value of your item. To get to the fun parts I have to:
Final Thoughts: Garrett, you absolutely killed it with your opening paragraph. I was hooked. You had my downstairs more tingly than a tipsy slut on prom night. Hell, you could have given me nothing more than a simple +5 skill bonus, and I would have given you my vote based on the strength of your writing alone.
But I think you got carried away. Your core idea is superb, but you buried it under piles of unnecessary filler mechanics. Simplify, and this contest is yours for the taking.
Liked: The function of this thing is cool. This has a sort of cinematic feel to it, in that if there were a movie about Pathfinder, I could see a scene where the group of heroes gathers around something like this to plan their next move.
I also like how there are different versions of the mapper available that do slightly different things.
Disliked: A couple of things. Why does this thing only map out to 30 ft? Seems rather limited. Also, your descriptive language is a bit confusing. The item itself seems to be some sort of globe, so my first thought is that a three-dimensional map will sort of manifest itself on the globe’s surface. But then you go on to say that it will display the map as an illusion. Ok, so now I’m thinking hologram, or something similar. But then you speak of the map being “blocked by an inch of stone, or a thin sheet of lead”. ??? What does that mean?
Final Thoughts: This thing falls under the “makes adventuring easier” category, and unfortunately that’s a no-no when it comes to RPG Superstar. Add to that a few template problems and a fairly confusing physical description, and I think you can see why you didn’t receive all the votes you were aiming for. Better luck next year.
Liked:Stilt boots! Neat! I can tell you’ve really fleshed out this idea and have covered all your bases. Also, cheap low-level items such as these always appeal to me, because so often PCs hover around the lower levels in my campaigns.
The stilts idea isn’t half bad. I personally haven’t seen it done before, and after reading through your entry, I can see how a PC might find these useful.
Disliked: These are about as close to being a joke item as you can get, but still be taken seriously. I don’t doubt that some voters thought “magic stilts? Wtf?” and then down-voted you. You have to be careful when playing in design spaces such as these. If you picture your item being used in combat and it seems the least bit silly or goofy, then chances are you are approaching joke item status.
Final Thoughts: Personally, I would let these fly at my table. I feel the game needs a little humor and levity from time to time, and I can appreciate how these do actually have some desirable utility. Your writing clearly shows that you have some design potential, but perhaps try to stay more grounded next time (pun intended!).
Scepter of Fools:
Liked: Nearly perfect template use. Intriguing name.
Disliked: “Originally created by…” statements make me cringe. They are really nothing but a waste of word count. The thing about a well-designed item is that any player familiar with Golarion will see that item and think “Gee, I could totally see worshipers of Calistria/Desna/Gozreh/etc using one of these!” The Golarion association should rise organically from the mechanics and visuals of the item.
This thing is either very overpowered, or has very narrow appeal. I can’t tell which it is because you don’t explicitly clarify whether or not the target of this item can refuse the challenge or not. If they can’t, then this thing is way overpowered. A PC who specializes in Perform (comedy) can completely neutralize a BBEG before the fight even starts, ostensibly multiple times per day.
Now, if the target can refuse the challenge, then this thing is essentially worthless, because almost no NPC is going to try to one-up a professional jokester (the only type of character this thing appeals to), if failure results in 24 hour magical incarceration.
Final Thoughts: I sort of see what you were trying to accomplish with this thing, and the core idea behind it certainly has some merit, but I feel like you lost sight of what a true wondrous item is supposed to be. Take a step back, look at what you’re designing through the eyes of an actual PC or NPC, and think about the items ramifications in day-to-day adventuring.
Sun Wukong's Puzzle Box:
Liked: I have a confession: I love asian-themed items. This one snagged my interest right from the get-go. Plus, you've got clean, fun, balanced mechanics. Great descriptive text, too.
Also, monkeys :)
Disliked: Although your item name isn't terrible, it doesn't really hint at what the item does. Your Sun Wukong reference is tenuous at best, and anyone not familiar with him is going to read your item name and assume an item very different from what you present here.
I feel like this item would have worked so much better as a party favor or perhaps a small disposable firework. But that's just me.
Final Thoughts: You really injected some fun and silliness into this item, and yet managed to avoid being a complete joke item. My advice to you is to use your item's name to set your readers' expectations right out of the gate, and then really deliver in your descriptive paragraph.
Liked: Headdresses are underutilized, and this one is cool. Very witchy. Your abilities are very useful and fairly cinematic, and you’ve used your available word count to clarify how this item works and keep GMs from having to hand-wave solutions.
Disliked: Chris, you’re such a talented and experienced designer that I’m pretty sure you know exactly what you did wrong with this thing. For what it’s worth, your rewrite of the item makes it a much stronger submission.
Final Thoughts: There’s not really anything I can tell you that you don’t already know. I will say this, though: As the competition enters its eighth year, ideas that once seemed fresh and inspired can now sometimes be seen as dull and unoriginal. One of those seems to be the “tentacle/lash/ropy appendages that grapple” type items.
You obviously have proven you have some serious design chops, and you know how to create a mechanically sound, balanced item. Now you have to scour the depths of your brain for that one standout idea that no one else has ever done before. Good luck!
Liked: Scarletrose, this one was an easy keep for me. You do a lot of things right. It’s a clean and simple low-level item that does one thing and does it well. It doesn’t try to glom on all kinds of extra effects, and you were able to use only a portion of your word count to succinctly cover all your bases. This thing is full of win.
Disliked: Not much. A few template nit-picks. Any time you have gp amounts in the thousands, you need a comma between the thousands and the hundreds place (eg. 5,000 gp instead of 5000 gp). Also, any spells listed in your construction requirements must be italicized.
Final Thoughts: This is a great item that any PC of mine would envy. Honestly I’m not sure why it didn’t garner more votes than it did. My only advice to you is to perhaps design something not quite so narrowly focused. Other than that, you did a fantastic job.
Liked: Anthony, you've certainly brought the mojo here. Your flavor text just oozes awesomeness, and when I picture this thing being used in combat, the word "cinematic" doesn't even begin to describe it.
Disliked: I think you overreached on this one. This cloak already does soooo much, that adding AC deflection bonuses, DR, and multiple mythic options detracted from the whole rather than enhanced it.
Plus, be careful of throwing too much damage around. Err on the side of simpler/weaker rather than more complex/powerful.
Final Thoughts: I've found that there's a point at which "critical mass" is reached in any Wondrous Item. You exceeded yours. Simplify, simplify, simplify.
Beyond that, you clearly know what you're doing. For you, breaking into the Top 32 is just s matter of when, not if.
Mask of the Wayang:
Liked: Wayangs are creepy and cool. Good to see an item riff off of them. I can instantly see this item appealing to rogue/scout types.
Disliked: My only complaint is that it seems you could have used your remaining word count to clarify what this item can/cannot do. For instance, if I become a shadow on a wall, can I only traverse along other walls, or am I free to move about in three dimensional space? How will I interact with other creatures on the shadow plane? Do I have to traverse in areas of continuous light, or can I skip from one lit wall to another?
Final Thoughts: One aspect of good design is thoroughness. Your item is cool, useful, and has some Wayang mojo, but it leaves a lot of adjudication up to the discretion of the GM, which probably cost you some votes.
Choker of Spell Stifling:
Liked: Template use is not too bad for a first-timer.
Disliked: This is essentially a cursed item, and it's also a "prisoner transport" item. Neither genre has done very well in RPG Superstar.
Template-wise, any time you refer to your item's name in your description paragraph, it must be italicized. Also, any spells listed in your construction requirements must also be italicized.
Final Thoughts: Your item is not necessarily a poor one, it's just not Superstar. Try to design something with broader universal appeal, rather than something so situational. Good luck next year.
Lucky Golden Tooth:
Liked: For a first-time entrant, your template use is perfect. Well done.
Also, I appreciate your attempts to balance this item and not make it too overpowered. That shows smart design.
Disliked: I think your problems with this item stem from its core mechanic. Changing a critical failure into a critical success can be a huge-game changing turn-around. It has the potential to be abused. I think you recognized this and made every effort to include some drawbacks to help balance it out.
In the process, you've created a 30,000gp item that is potentially worthless, and even worse, a detriment to the wearer.
If the wearer rolls a natural 1 at the right time, this thing could literally be the difference between a complete party wipe or success. However, if he rolls a 1 on something inconsequential (like a knowledge check, etc.), then he is now taking a -1 on every single roll for the rest of the adventuring day.
This leads to player metagaming, where after each activation of this item, the player is going to want to rest for 8 hours in order to ignore the penalties. Any item that encourages this is an indicator of poor design.
Final Thoughts: I applaude your efforts, and I want to encourage you to continue taking risks with your design. Just make sure they're the right risks.
Liked: This is a curious little statuette! I love your descriptive text; this thing is chock-full of flavor. I also like that it's a relatively low-level item.
Disliked: There's nothing inherently wrong with your item. I'm just not sure something like this really needs to exist. There's nothing this thing does that can't be accomplished via cantrips and mundane means. Definitely not something my PC would want to spend 7.2k gold on.
Final Thoughts: Your writing is solid and evocative. I think you need to now focus on designing something that any PC would see and immediately think "I want one of those!!!". Do that, and I feel you are a shoe-in for the top 32. Good job :)
Liked: I appreciate the risks you are taking with this globe, and I like that you attempted to cover your bases by explaining that conditions can’t be repeated for 24 hours, they are mind-affecting effects, and that the owner can’t make direct gaze attacks with this thing. That shows that you’re attempting to look at your item from every angle, which is the mark of a good designer.
Disliked: This is a stadium screen. A “megatron”, if you will. Unfortunately for you (seeing as how this is your first foray into the contest), you fell into the “take a modern device and recreate it as a Wondrous Item” trap. I suggest you take some time and read this thread.
Also, I really don’t like how your item takes adverse conditions affecting the user and superimposes them on his opponents. That leads to players actively seeking out negative conditions, which is counter-intuitive to the way combat is supposed to work.
Final Thoughts: Your idea of extending the range of a bard’s performance is a good one. And you’re showing some clever risk-taking and out-of-the-box thought processes in your design, but you don’t quite pull it off here.
Take some time, read all the stellar advice given on these boards, and maybe test out a few items in the Blazing 9 thread once the contest is over. That way, you’ll have a much better handle on what does/does not constitute a Superstar item, and then you can put those design chops to work :)
Liked: You’re taking a risk by playing with some rather obscure rules, and I think that’s exactly what Superstar designers should be doing. I like that this is sort of a low-level paladin-y type item. Paladins need more love.
Disliked: While you are taking risks here, you’re not exactly knocking it out of the park. +1 honor and a light spell just aren’t that Superstar. And I’m not sure I like that the wearer’s honor never truly reaches zero while wearing this. Again, this is taking the “risk” out of a “risk vs. reward” scenario, and that’s poor design.
Final Thoughts: You deserve props for going out on a limb and playing with some obscure fringe rules, but you played it too safe, IMO. Superstar items should encourage PCs to take risks, not nullify them.
Baldric of Revealing Mists:
Liked: This thing is pretty neat, if a little narrowly-focused. Interesting juxtaposition to use mists (which normally conceal things) to defy concealment.
Disliked: How often do players encounter enemies with concealment? And what about natural concealment from dim lighting or darkness? How can the mist reveal a creature with concealment when the PC can’t even see the mist itself (unless they have darkvision)?.
These are the kinds of questions a Superstar designer must take into account when writing up an item.
Final Thoughts: Good, but not great, IMO. It plays with its theme well, is fairly balanced, and has a practical (if narrow) application. It just seems a bit unspectacular to me, and needs some clarification to boot. Pay attention to these things and you’ll be golden :)
Dust of Fantastical Terrain:
Liked: You evoke some very “Alice in Wonderland” type imagery in your first paragraph, which I really like. This is a simple item that does a simple, yet wondrous thing. Right up my alley.
Disliked: There’s a few problems here, mostly in what you fail to spell out that this dust explicitly doesn’t do. For instance, does it work on gemstones? What about raw gems already in the ground?
If I were a PC, I would save up 6k, buy this magic dust, go to the nearest diamond mine, sprinkle this dust around, and then dig out my now anvil-sized diamond. This dust could make a PC unfathomably wealthy, and therefore I would never allow it at my table as-is.
Final Thoughts: This is a pretty good example of the kind of old-school wondrous item that I like, but voters probably didn’t care for. There’s no immediate practicality here to catch a voter’s attention. Plus, it’s in need of some serious balancing and clarification before it’s table-ready. Keep plugging away, though, because I believe there is an audience for items like this.
Garrett Guillotte wrote:
Yeah, the gossiper's gourd. I never saw it during voting, but it is pretty terrific. And to be honest it has more flavor and panache' than my pamphlet, although they do slightly different things.
Don't worry Garrett. I would never go boring combat oriented! That's not my style. However, I will endeavor to tighten up my rules specifics and not leave so much up to interpretation. Purposeful ambiguity seems to turn off some voters.
Shears of the Hairless Hag:
Liked: Kind of a kooky name, but I like it. And let me get this straight – I cut off a chunk of my hair, and it magically grows out of the head of my target? And then that foreign hair chunk begins wreaking all kinds of havoc and mischief on said target?
Yes. So much yes. Let the creepy murder-hair implantation begin!
Disliked:Now that I know (and like!) what these shears do, you are kinda straying into SAK territory. You’ve got nearly seven different abilities packed into this item. A Superstar item shouldn’t need seven abilities. It should only need one or two.
Leave it at once per day (and no more), and pare it down to a single ability (strangle is probably your best bet). Toss everything else out, make it cheaper, and you’d have a winner, IMO
Final Thoughts: This is gonzo done right. Some voters might have been turned off by the wackiness, but I was with you every step of the way. Keep that creative spark, but maintain your focus and be wary of grab-bags of abilities. Great job.
Coat of the Eternal Vagabond:
Liked: I’m digging this coat. Neat, risky way to get the party out of a jam. Possible “out of the frying pan, into the fire” type scenarios, which are always fun and exciting.
Disliked: Not really digging the name. You sorta buried your lead, but not by much. Extra work for the GM is gonna rub some voters the wrong way no matter how fun your item is.
Final Thoughts: DQ, I gotta tell you, I really liked this thing. I think you and I are similar in that we fall into that small minority of players who appreciate this sort of low-key, non-combat Wondrous Item oddity. Not every item needs to be super powerful or extremely practical. Sometimes it’s nice to have a Wondrous Item that simply does something wondrous, and doesn’t really need a reason why. That’s what this item represented to me. Plus, I like the old-school vibe of it with the random number rolling.
This was an early favorite of mine, and I voted for it many times, yet I knew as soon as I saw it that it wouldn’t break the Top 32. It’s not “cool kid” enough, which, unfortunately, is something that we as designers have to pander to now with the public voting.
But I hope you keep submitting. U haz mad skillz :)
Grips of the Drowning Dark:
Liked: Crocodile themed items are cool. I like that you’re essentially trying to take a crocodile’s “bite and death roll” and shoehorn it into combat using combat maneuvers. Pretty original, and not necessarily a bad thing to design around.
Disliked: I wish that these gloves caused the “pinned” condition, rather than the “prone” condition. To me, that would be thematically tighter with what you are trying to accomplish here.
The suffocation and the flavor text about the water and the drowning feel a bit tacked on to me. I get what you were going for, but it just doesn’t fit IMO.
Final Thoughts: These gloves are ok. You have a great core idea, I just don’t feel you executed it as well as you might have. The drowning/water aspect of the item feels a bit silly to me. Still, you did a great job :)
Bloody Sheath of the Bravo:
Liked: Your template use is perfect. I really dig the idea of using a bloody blade to intimidate opponents.
Disliked: Quite a lot, unfortunately, and it starts with the core idea. Why is there blood in my magic sheath? Is that all it does, is make blood?
If I take a normal, unenchanted sheath and fill it with normal, unenchanted blood, can’t I pretty much do everything this thing can do? Well, maybe all except the bleed effect, but now I’m paying 5.5k gold on a DC 10 bleed? No thank you.
Final Thoughts: I’ll be honest with you Maurice, this one didn’t do it for me. I almost never voted for it when it came up. You have something intriguing with the bloody blade/intimidate angle, and perhaps this item could have gained some traction if you had focused on that theme and cut out all the rest. But as written this thing is odd at best, and gross at worst. Better luck next year.
Glove of Face Filching:
Liked: Excellent name. Very cool way for a sneaky rogue type to shut down a spell-caster, and you kept it fairly balanced and refrained from making it over-powered. Template use looks spot-on.
Disliked: There’s not much to dislike here, although there did seem to be a deluge of face/voice themed items this year, so that probably diluted your voter pool. Also, as interesting as your item name is, it’s a little misleading as to what the glove actually does.
I’m a little torn on the fact that it takes away a target’s bite attacks. While it makes sense mechanically, it seems ripe for abuse. If I’m a rogue wearing one of these and I fall in the water right next to a dire shark, I’m just gonna slap it in the mouth and then sit back and laugh as it flounders around, completely useless. That should never happen. Dire sharks should never make me laugh.
Final Thoughts: To me this item is good, but not great. You picked a crowded design space, possibly unintentionally, but it hurt you just the same. You also missed a few tweaks that could have resulted in a much stronger submission. Overall, though, I could easily see this in a BoMI (book of magic items).
Bracer of Forceful Restraint:
Liked: Cool imagery? Check. Awesome green phantom chain? Check. Extremely badass dimensional anchor ability that makes perfect sense mechanically and just oozes flavor? Check!
Disliked: My one quibble with this is that I wish there were a strength requirement or opposed strength check or something to do with strength included in your write-up. That would serve to reinforce the idea that this is really an item designed for melee types. Melee guys need more love in the Wondrous Item department.
Final Thoughts: What’s up with you Jacob guys and your awesome Wondrous Items? Seriously, I loved this thing. It attempts to solve the problem that a lot of PC parties face: the BBEG getting away! And while that may cause headaches for the GM, it’s nothing but pure awesome for the players. Well done, Jacob, you obviously know what you’re doing (since you’ve cracked the Top 32 before). Keep it coming :)
Liked: Your item name wins major points for both the clever alliteration, and for adding two new words to my vocabulary. Awesome.
This is a fantastic little item. Tight theme, great visuals. It favors bards, which will always score points with me. Love the cumulative Perform DC mechanic, and how that’s tied into the expanding cone. Good stuff.
Disliked: As written, it feels slightly overpowered. There’s a lot of CON damage being thrown around here. With a couple of poor rolls by the GM, this thing could absolutely wipe the floor with large groups of enemies.
Final Thoughts: You earned my vote nearly every time with this brilliant little drum. I’m surprised you didn’t place higher, although I feel like it’s only a matter of time before you break into the Top 32. Well done :)
Liked: Your first sentence, minus the “favored by” bit, is excellent. You’ve got your writing chops on display here :)
Also, you covered your bases in that last sentence (which prevents the item from being abused). Well done.
Disliked: When I see the words “increase caster level” in a sentence, warning bells start going off in my head. I feel like caster levels are a hard limit for a reason, and even with the negative drawbacks of this item, it still feels overpowered and abusable to me.
Final Thoughts: You fall into the same trap as the “Tabard of Sanguine Symbiosis” in that your Wondrous Item is more of a Cursed Wondrous Item. I don’t think these have proven to be very popular.
That being said, I actually quite like how you’ve designed this thing, for the most part. If anything, I would increase the negative drawbacks, as any caster dumb enough or greedy enough to use one of these with reckless abandon should pay for it with his/her life.
Tabard of Sanguine Symbiosis:
Liked: Blood drinking fungus!? Now I’m intrigued!!! I really like how this thing grows and shrinks over time, depending on how you use it. That helps reinforce that this is a living organism that you’re wearing on your tabard. Creepy and cool.
Disliked: The item’s name is a little overwrought. Sometimes alliteration works, and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m not sure it works here. In fact, had you simply called it the “Tabard of Blood-Drinking Fungus”, you would have probably garnered my attention (and therefore my vote) much quicker and likely more often.
While the mechanics are kinda nifty, this item takes the “pseudo-cursed item” route that I saw a lot of other items take this year. Be careful of playing in that design space. If done exceedingly well, it can work, but more often than not the negatives of the item end up turning the player off.
Also, exsanguinate? Really?? Never use a six-dollar word when a $0.50 word will do.
Final Thoughts: This item is creepy, fun, and unique, but honestly if my PC found this in a treasure hoard, he would burn it the second the blood-sucking fungus started burrowing fibrous tendrils into his skin.
Cloak of the Shadow Twin:
Liked: Your descriptive text is good, especially the bit about how the wearer of this cloak is essentially in greyscale while the world around him is in Technicolor.
I also liked how you didn’t try and reinvent the wheel when it came to describing the wearer’s shadow; you kept it simple and (relatively) easy to adjudicate. If you’re gonna make more work for the GM, this is the way to do it.
Disliked: The effects of this item don’t particularly excite me.
Final Thoughts: There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this item. It’s just not exciting to me.
Though no fault of your own, I think you suffered what other shadow-related item designers suffered from this year: there were just too damn many of them. As a voter, after seeing five shadow items in a row, it’s hard to get excited about another one, no matter how sound the mechanics are.
Voter fatigue is a very real and very powerful detractor, and it must be considered when designing your item.
Liked: I’ll be honest, this was one of my faves. Love the name of the item. Makes me think of some crusty old ranger who’s got a menagerie of stuffed magical beasts mounted on his walls. Very cool.
Also, this item encourages proper scouting, which is something I feel that is woefully underrepresented in PF.
Disliked: The abilities of this item, while undisputedly useful, are a bit mundane. RPG Superstar has a tendency to despise the mundane. You also buried your lead – your second ability is way more compelling than a +5 skill bonus.
Final Thoughts: You struck all the right chords with me on this one: it’s a book (my own submission was a magic document), it’s fairly low-key, it encourages strategy and smart play, and it is a useful combat item without being one of those “ZOMG GAUNTLETZ OF TARRASQUE FACESMASH!!!!” type of items. If it were up to me, items like this would make it into the Top 32 every year. Unfortunately, players like us seem to be the minority when it comes to voting. I hope you stick with it, though, because I can’t wait to see what you design next year.
Cloak of a Thousand Daggers:
Liked: There’s a lot to love about this cloak. Very cool imagery and mechanics. I like that the melee counterattack uses up an AOO (and that ability can be suppressed, if needed!)
Disliked: This thing should not work off of Charisma. There’s no need for it, it doesn’t make sense, and you don’t really give us a compelling reason why it shouldn’t just use Dexterity instead, either in the flavor text or the mechanics. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Also, a swift action ranged attack every single round is too much. You’re artificially inflating the aggregate damage of the PC who wears this thing, and you’re messing with the rules governing ammunition economy. Rein it in.
Final Thoughts: Very strong idea, and a useful item. With a little reworking, I’ll probably be using this at my table.
Lake Maker Spigot:
Liked: It’s a spigot! That’s pretty unique (if it weren’t for the recent Hunger Games movie, this would have been even more unique). Flawless template execution.
Disliked: This is pretty much an exact duplicate of a decanter of endless water, only it’s more powerful and underpriced.
Final Thoughts: One of the tenets of design is originality. It’s up to the designer to find ideas that haven’t been explored yet. Sometimes that means researching your material and ensuring that you aren’t retreading ground, which is something I feel you failed to do here, and it cost you.
Garrett Guillotte wrote:
You, sir, are an absolute wizard. And a data-miner's wet dream. Thank you :)
Liked: Great first sentence. I like that you take care to explain how the duster works at every range increment, and how you didn’t make it over-powered by allowing it to function within the first range increment. Smart choice.
Disliked: This thing seems really narrowly focused, IMO. And while I don’t play gunslingers much, I feel like this sort of robs them of one of the major benefits of their class – resolving attacks against touch AC rather than normal AC. I’m not convinced that’s good design.
Final Thoughts: I was pretty ambivalent about this item. Sometimes I voted it up, other times I did not. I think broadening your item’s universal appeal (and perhaps exploring design spaces that don’t rob class abilities) would behoove you.
Liked: Very practical, useful ability. Every class of character can make use of these gloves. Tight, well-thought-out mechanics.
I dig the dragon scales :)
Disliked: Too be honest, the ability of these gauntlets is a bit meh. Not quite Superstar.
Final Thoughts: You are correct in your assumption – this sort of thing has been done to death. These gauntlets would have landed you a spot in the Top 32 back in 2008. Unfortunately, the contest and the quality of competition has evolved since then. Kick it up two notches and you’ll be just fine.
Stanhope of Bloody Roots:
Liked: Wtf is a Stanhope? *googles Stanhope* Oooooh! Cool! Points for originality!
Disliked: While definitely a neat little item, no character of mine would ever buy one of these things, even if he/she were a witch. There are far more practical and useful things to spend 32k gold on.
Final Thoughts: Next time, flex that creative muscle on an item with broader appeal. You’ve certainly got the design chops to go far in this competition.
Liked: Great name. You’ve got some extremely tight design going on here, and you’ve covered all your bases, all the way down to making it bane vs constructs. I can tell you did your homework on this one.
Also, mallets are cool, and underused.
Disliked: Not much. It’s pretty limited in terms of broad utility, but what little it does, it does extremely well.
Final Thoughts: I liked this item, and it was an easy keep. Probably too niche to truly be Superstar, but you obviously know what you’re doing.
Astral Thief’s Opera Gloves:
Liked: You have creativity in spades. Save some for the rest of us.
Disliked: Unfortunately, your first sentence is your weakest. What exactly is an “interplanar cat burglar”? And why are they attending operas if they despise them so much that they have to bend time and space just to escape? Color me confused.
Also, it took me several read-throughs to fully comprehend what was going on with these gloves. Essentially, you’ve got a very convoluted (but admittedly creative) way to attempt a steal combat maneuver without any of the drawbacks, with some ghost touch and dr/silver negation thrown in.
Final Thoughts: I’ll be honest, I didn’t really care for these gloves. Many rules in PF play with the risk/reward balance, and I tend to shy away from items that take risk out of the equation. But you’re obviously creative enough to come up with plenty of original ideas for next year, so keep trying!
Liked: This was a favorite of mine. Extremely creative, unique, and cool ability. The ability to draw a weapon out of a burst or explosion is just icing on the cake.
Disliked: I feel like having the gauntlets able to create any melee weapon is a misstep. I feel like having one weapon type per set of gloves would have been better. That way you force a more meaningful choice onto the player.
Final Thoughts: You’ve got major creativity and mojo here. I’m usually not a huge fan of gloves or gauntlets (too overdone, IMO), but this is the way to do it! I’m surprised you didn’t make the Top 32. Well done!
Boots of Spellwalking:
Liked: Nifty powers. I liked that you didn’t take the “doesn’t provoke AOO” ability overboard, and instead kept it to just the starting square. That shows restraint and smart design.
Disliked: Not sure that I like the fact that the boots allow the wearer to ignore difficult terrain. Seems like overkill, IMO. Also, you don’t specify whether the cumulative concentration DC resets or not. I assume it does, but explicit clarification is always better than blind assumption.
Final Thoughts: Overall, a pretty neat item. Nothing particularly game-breaking about it. I rarely play casting classes, so I’m sure some of this item’s appeal is lost on me, but I could easily see this in a book of magic items.
Liked: Very cool name! Pretty sweet powers, too! I could see clerics of Sarenrae rocking one of these, and thoroughly pissing off all the light-hating denizens of the deep that just can’t put the frikkin’ thing OUT!
Disliked: Should say “by any means short of”. I feel like you could have used some of your unused word count to explain that physical acts such as snuffing the candle out with your fingers or dousing in water do/do not work. Seems a little unclear to me. Also, your prose could use some work. Paragraphs are your friends.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I kinda liked this item, and voted for it more often than not. It’s a bit of a SAK, and could use some clearer writing, but overall you did a great job.
Bracelet of the Peaceful Dove:
Liked: Terrific imagery. Doves are fairly unique, and the way you use it here is rather original. I love that this is a non-combat item (unfortunately, most voters don’t seem to share my enthusiasm). Mechanics are clean, sound, and well executed, especially the part about the dove diving toward hostile creatures and attempting to break the effect. Very cool.
Disliked: Why is this thing a bracelet? I feel it would work better as an earring, a pauldron or spaulder, or even a little clock-work dove. The dove is the focus, and it sits on your shoulder, so I feel like there is a disconnect there.
Also, this is a bit of a nitpick, but if the dove itself is all snowy and white, then why is the bracelet copper? Call me crazy, but I like items that follow a color-appropriate visual theme. I feel you would have been better served if you had said the bracelet was made out of silver, or platinum, or even quartz crystal.
Finally, why do I have to read almost 150 words into your submission before I get to the coolest power?
Final Thoughts: I really, really liked this item. I voted for it nearly every time it came up. It’s got a tight, interesting visual theme that works on many levels and ties brilliantly into the mechanics, and it’s a non-combat item, which I feel should always be encouraged.
However, you buried your lead, and I think you missed an opportunity by making it a bracelet instead of something more unique.
Liked: I really dig that you can see the reflection of magical auras in the shawl itself. Great imagery, very evocative and unique.
Disliked: This thing seems overpowered to me, despite it’s ludicrous price point. Spell reflection is a very powerful mechanic, and I feel like even a 25% chance will take a lot of the wind out of the sails of high-lvl casting foes. I’m also not a fan of the mythic rules in general, so that won you no favors.
Final Thoughts: Your imagery is spot on. The rest of your submission seems like a grab bag of abilities, each more powerful than the last. Narrow your focus and tone down your power level and I think you might have a winner on your hands.