Thank you for the review. Perhaps I should have spelled out my own whirlwind ability or summarized the universal monster ability. It seemed strange to reinvent the wheel, but most of the voters probably had no idea this gave a fly speed and creates clouds of debris (e.g.).
While I am proud to have submitted the Quill of the Tengu Sage last year, I had only 20 hours notice to design it and there were many issues that would not have survived the editing process.
So this entry is my first "real" effort, albeit following a year without tabletop gaming. I got top notch feedback in design from Michael Pruess (2013 top 8) and Anthony Adams (no introduction needed), but alas, did not hit the top 100.
I changed this many many times but my only certain regret is the last minute change from wrapping the flags around yourself to reciting a prayer. I think the neat visual is more important than hammering in that they're Tibetan prayer flags.
Hold no punches:
Once per day, the bearer may spend a standard action to recite one of the prayers and transform into a whirlwind of cloth and air. This grants the whirlwind universal monster ability for 1 minute or until dismissed (10-30 ft. high, 1d6 + Strength modifier damage, DC 10 + 1/2 class level + Strength modifier).
While holding one end of the string or in whirlwind form, strong wind (21+ mph) causes the bearer to be blown away, except she chooses the direction she moves and is neither damaged nor knocked prone. Any creatures trapped in the whirlwind take an additional 2d6 nonlethal damage from the buffeting winds.
A worshipper of the Air or Weather domain may use the cyclone flags as a holy symbol.
Locals who have braved the ancient ruins tell tales of booming footfalls, and trails of a strange white sand that melts into water. And who but giants could have built tombs so large?
In truth, the monumental architecture was built by the men of long-fallen empires, and the few frost giants hidden within are the descendants of refugees, hunting in the chill of the desert night and terrified into secrecy by legends of the Steel Church and its bloody purges.
You can take a look at past entrants' profiles. Last year's top 8 list their ages as 22, 25, 31, 33, 36, 37, "north of 40", and (unmentioned but played back in the 80s), and the two youngest have been playing since they were kids. It's possible that it might take a while for the demographic shift to percolate from the gaming population at large to entrants of design competitions.
Booter Part of Valor >__>
* Those increase the DC, but that DOES make it easier to resist. I was sloppy not revamping this: be forewarned, submitters, having a DC the player sometimes wants to fail is completely unintuitive. (Also, can you voluntarily fail a Will save? I have no idea.)** Ignored mechanically. I thought this is clear, but there's probably a less ambiguous phrasing than "ignore".
*** I tend to make DM items more than PC (and to buy this kind of story-driving item with my PCs) and this thread is a fun place to indulge myself without consequence. I do appreciate hearing my suspicions confirmed though.
Weather or not an item is considered cliche is something that worries me after my (first) item last year got some quill-hate (also some way-bigger-problems-than-that hate), so it's good to hear "what's been done".
Thank you very much! Nerve-wracking to hear you chose the wrong item to reveal, but while I do think it's a fun concept with a lot of potential, I don't think it's the best choice for this contest.
How I could improve it:
Problems that would still remain:
Removing the weatherman theme and building it from the ground up as an optimism item neatly avoids some of these issues, and I'd love to see more of your ideas for that item. :)
Thanks for the feedback, guys! Good point about night. At one stage the roses did distort your vision and continue the "weatherman" joke by making you even more an optimist (Perception penalties to spot threats, enemies gain concealment against you). But I have a weakness for story items (ones that lead to memorable moments, like the one Papasteve posted) and went with the bigger, funnier drawback instead.
I'm aware that most adventurers don't agree with my great purchase decisions (expensive items that will kill me), & will keep it in mind for my actual submission. :)
Was going to limit myself to 45 minutes, ending up spending 115. Had a lot of fun though!
Whenever the wearer would be adversely affected by weather, he must make a Will save (see charts below). If he succeeds, he refuses to believe in its existence and ignores all weather-related movement penalties for the next ten minutes. The goggles offer no protection from extremes of temperature or other dangers, and until the wearer fails a save he will take no actions to avoid or mitigate any of these that result from weather (including removing the goggles).
Weather type and DC to disbelieve (see Table: Random Weather):
Hello everyone! I don't think I've been on these forums since last year's contest, so it's time to
Anthony - You made an escalator work in Pathfinder! I like it.
Thanks for the review of doombreaker oracle, Garrick. I have mixed feelings about it: I think it's too campaign-dependent to be publishable, but I have a soft spot for it as a homebrew for a DM and player that want to spin that particular story together. As written, the player chooses an enemy during character creation, but it's completely unclear whether the DM or player chooses who the next enemy is... good job, me. :P
Guess I'm the first Oracle then. It's simple but fun; I doubt this would be what I'd submit if I were in the top 32, but I'm glad I made it.
Thanks for the critique.
1) The original version limited it to spells with the [language-dependent] descriptor, which is more related to language-loving tengu and more balanced. I was told repeatedly that the item was "too niche" so I experimented with this change to see if it would be better received. Considering balance implications especially, I still prefer the original limitation (and I would knock the price back down to 4,000 gp or thereabouts).
3) The limitation by spell slots was actually the feature I was complimented on most, since it balances the item with the very straightforward currency exchange of 1 spell slot = 1 spell.
4) I don't share your objection to items that make (specific) items, or items that "make writing weird", but I understand the desire to keep things simple.
5) Interesting idea to make this an archetype or class. Given the hugely varied reactions I got (from Epic Meepo's personal top 16 to GM_S.'s "lower-middling", and almost every review giving me a new critique), you're probably correct that this is too ambitious to be a widely appealing wondrous item.
Made it usable by all spellcasters instead of just wizards, removed the "language-dependent descriptor" condition, raised the price from 4,000gp to 6,000gp, replaced the magic mouth requirement with imbue with spell ability and made accompanying aura and CL changes, partially reworded.
Quill of the Tengu Sage
A spellcaster may use the quill to conceal a spell with a single target within an ordinary text. The process of writing the text takes one hour (or the spell's casting time if longer), during which the creator makes all the decisions normally made at the time of casting. The completed text must be at least one page long and emits a magical aura of the same strength and school as the spell stored.
A spell stored in this away permanently uses up a spell slot (for a prepared spellcaster) or a spell per day (for a spontaneous spellcaster) until the text is read, upon which the text becomes nonmagical. The creator chooses whether to maintain the effect each day when receiving spells.
When the text is read in full, the spell is cast upon the reader at the creator's caster level. The creator is aware that the spell was triggered but does not know the nature of the target nor whether the spell had the desired effect.
Any attempt to store additional magical writing in the same text triggers both the original spell and (if applicable) the new glyph or rune, destroying the text.
You are one of the 6 contestants I'm enthusiastic enough to vote for this round... but to be completely honest, your archetype is significantly less interesting to me than the other 5, both in mechanics and flavor. I unabashedly admit that I want to see the creator of the Quicksand Cloak come up with another amazing idea like the first one.
Like the Everbloom Monk, this archetype achieves perfect River Kingdoms feel through mechanics instead of forced flavor fluff.
Like the Skinchanger, this archetype provides a balanced mechanical identity for a figure that already exists in popular imagination -- an archetype!
Like the Scallywag, this is a charming idea that I would love to play.
Usually the position of judging a friend against strangers is awkward, full of worry about whether you're unreasonably biased.
You might have already had my vote if the only ability was Ring the Temple Bell <3. More seriously, this shows exactly the kind of creative thinking that results in an memorable, unique archetype that still fits perfectly within the design constraints.
I didn't expect to be impressed by this one, but you overcame my reservations. The name of the archetype and abilities are uninspired, the idea has been done to death, the river kingdoms tie in is weak... yet of all the countless variations on shapeshifting I've ever seen in an RPG, this one might be my favorite. The feral witch with a literal connection to the shapes she takes blows the sissy druid out of the water, and your deft hand in laying out clean, useful mechanics won me over despite my foolish desire for more ridiculous ideas.
You have one of my 6 votes.
Replacing a cavalier's mount with a boat is inspired, and shows the same delightful creativity as your Cloudwrangler's Gloves and your unsubmitted Kettle item. Reading further, I found the other abilities not too mechanically interesting, but they do an adequate job fleshing out the archetype, and considering both items and archetypes I think you're easily one of the most interesting contestants to follow.
You have one of my 6 votes.
And here's the second requested review for nate lange:
vest of mongrelkind:
(note -- I'm responsible for destroying the html tags, not nate)
Vest of Mongrelkind Aura moderate transmutation; CL 9th Slot chest; Price 9,000 gp; Weight 1 lb.
Description This sturdy vest is quilted from a wide variety of different fabrics and grants its wearer the benefits of a diverse racial heritage. Its wearer suffers no penalty to Disguise checks for impersonating another race, and gains a +5 competence bonus on Use Magic Device checks to emulate a race. The vest also allows the wearer to attempt such checks untrained.
After 24 hours of use, the Vest of Mongrelkind grants its wearer an additional racial trait. The wearer can choose one standard trait available to humanoids with a cost of 1 race point. Traits which require another trait as a prerequisite cannot be selected but all other prerequisites can be ignored. Once the trait is selected it remains in effect as long as the vest is worn. The wearer can select a new trait by removing the vest and putting it back on, then waiting the 24 hours again.
Construction Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, polymorph; Cost 4,500 gp
I like the name and that you're trying to find a thematic way to break the rules, which is what wondrous items are good at. Unfortunately the mechanics of this item don't excite me at all. Bonus to skills (or removing a penalty) and using skills untrained are the easiest benefits to think of; they're fine if the item needs a little extra push, but they're not the main point you'll be judged on, so I don't think I need to discuss them.
As for the main ability, I have three beefs with it:
1) I have to wear this vest continually to get its benefit without wasting a day reattuning? I am going to have a real awkward time swimming, attending formal balls, and having sexytimes. Also, it's awkward that I have to wear an unusual article of clothing in order to get a Disguise bonus.
2) Having trouble seeing why I would buy an item that gives +2 to Will saves instead of spending my 9k on a cloak of resistance +4 with enough left over for a crazy party. I wouldn't normally deduct points for pricing mistakes, but I'm not sure the minor racial trait bonuses are ever going to excite me enough to spend money on them. The flexibility of changing it would be one reason to pick this item over another, but the attunement period makes that less useful.
3) An item that makes me look up a list of traits and find the ones that cost a certain amount and don't have certain prerequisites feels way too metagamey. You're between a rock and a hard place – I don't think you can use racial traits as design space without resorting to something like this – and unfortunately I don't have the design chops myself to give you a solution to that problem. You chose a difficult area of the rules to build off, and there's no shame in not surpassing a high bar. Next time you might want to build several items (of course, you may have done this for all I know) and get some feedback on them before you choose which to submit. It's easy to get attached to an idea regardless of how difficult it is to implement.
Message me if you would like a review, and feel free to include specific questions, or not to.
Woodengolem has taken me up on my offer:
Aura faint necromancy; CL 7th
Slot--; Price 4,250gp; Weight 2lbs
A brass and copper heart replica filled with intricate clockwork bearing a polished faceplate with a keyhole. When placed on the chest of a creature who has died within the last 24 hours a small bone key will grow from inside the lock and detach. If wound the item will begin to pump and sink into the creature's chest destroying its original heart. 1d4 rounds later they revive at half their maximum hit points. The faceplate remains on the chest of the creature revived. Once a day the bone key must be used to wind the mechanism. Every hour after twenty four the key is not wound the revived creature loses one point of Constitution. Once they reach zero constitution they become a zombie with hit die equal to their level. A creature revived by a Clockwork Heart cannot be revived again without removing the device. A Clockwork Heart can be removed with Restoration (treat as a negative level) destroying the heart and ending the effect. True resurrection or wish takes away the need to first remove the item.
For the purposes of all detection spells while a Clockwork Heart is active the creature is a Lawful Evil Undead. This does not grant any effects of the undead type or shift their alignment for purposes of other magical items or class abilities. When viewed using spells with the scrying descriptor the creature appears as a zombie with the Clockwork Heart whirring in it's chest. Channel Positive/Negative Energy affect the character as normal for type with a 25% chance the creature becomes Sickened for 1d2 rounds due to the interacting energy.
Craft Wondrous Item, gentle repose, animate dead, 5 ranks Craft (Clockwork); Cost 2,125
First I'll get the nitpicks out of the way: the name of the item shouldn't be capitalized in the description, and neither should Sickened. Your first sentence is incomplete; you should add "This is" to the beginning, or (better) work the description of the item into the instructions for use (e.g. "When this brass and copper heart is placed on the chest…"). I believe the updated standard for no-slot items is now "none" instead of "--".
On to the more useful general critique. I like the idea and flavor quite a bit, although some people may have been put off by your use of two controversial topics: how steampunk pathfinder should be, and how difficult resurrection should be. There's something to be said for a confident stride onto dangerous territory, but it's something to think about when you're trying to win a popular vote. Personally, I think the flavor (a mechanical heart that grants life) and the design niche (a cheaper and easier way to raise dead with drawbacks) are both great and I'd love to use it in a campaign. What's particularly clever is that the item costs a little over 4k, the restoration spell necessary for a subsequent resurrection costs 1k in components, and a raise dead spell costs 5k in components. So you could make them yourself (trading time, a feat, and 5 skill ranks for a significant discount on raise dead), or you can use it to gain access to raise dead earlier than you normally would by "borrowing" the extra cost from your future party (when you next die and need to pay for restoration). (And of course if your party has no cleric you save on hiring one as welll.) I like it even more now that I noticed that.
The main problem I see is that the mechanics are trying to do too much. All this needed to be was a cheaper and very flavorful raise dead with drawbacks, but the drawbacks need to be simplified. The winding/Constitution rules and the false positive result for undead are great top-down design (start with flavor, simulate it with mechanics), but they take up so much space and complexity that they bury the coolness of the item in a wall of rules text. The interaction with positive and negative energy adds even more, and in my opinion requires way too much bookkeeping (1.25 die rolls per channel) and is unnecessary to boot. I would love this item with the channel rule deleted and the first drawback changed to a simple "wind 1/day or die".
If anyone else wants a critique from someone who didn't even hit the top 89, please send me a message and I'll post the review here. ;D
But seriously, I hope you found the review useful, Woodengolem.
Clouds Without Water wrote:
Quill of the Tengu Sage - Pretty good item. I like the permanently used spell slot until the scroll is read. That balances it nicely. I wonder about the magic mouth requirement. Not a wide appeal item, but it does what it does well.
Thanks for the critique! Considering Magic Mouth doesn't trigger magical effects, I agree it was a poor choice of requirement. Glad you liked the spell slot mechanic, I haven't seen it used before and I thought it was the best currency to use: can't get more balanced than 1 spell slot = 1 spell.
Continuing through the ranks of the unreviewed:
Obi of the Ghoul Hunter:
mistake: "it's" should be "its"
mistake: "users" should be "user's"
mistake: "turn" should be "round"
mistake: "1st-Level" should be... something else, look it up :P
mistake: spell names in prerequisites should be italicized
Clearly, you should get a friend or two to proofread your work; you're giving yourself a huge handicap by including so many easily corrected errors. Make sure to review the formatting rules and advice threads as well, which will remind you of italicization standards, etc.
As for the actual design, it's a cinematic idea (good) that tries to do too much (bad). It has effects that only apply when you're incapacitated, when you're near undead (the glow), when you're a monk, when you're not a monk, and when you want to kill undead. It's an overwhelming number of abilities, and it's difficult to comb through and figure out how exactly it works in a given situation. They interact non-intuitively as well: if I'm a 16th level wizard, this belt lets me punch like a 1st level monk, and when I'm paralyzed it punches like a small 16th level monk.
Keep the belt that fights for you when you're paralyzed: that's the most exciting ability, and lets you keep on doing something when you would normally have to sit out a few rounds, so it fills a good niche as well. An additional ability or two that tightly fits the theme would be acceptable to make the item useful in more situations or fill more design niches. Avoid cluttering even more additional abilities, and especially avoid abilities that are simply straight number buffs, like "Become a better monk."
Finally, I'm pretty sure it's way too cheap for all the benefits it grants, another problem that would be mitigated by taking your one awesome idea and sticking to it!
Man, every time I try to do this I get distracted by something happening. More tomorrow!
EDIT: I'm unfamiliar with these forums; apparently I can't edit the list of unreviewed items I posted higher up this page, so, uh, sorry about that. It's going to get inaccurate as I go through it and other people add their own reviews. But people could always use another critiquer, so go for it anyway!
I'm going to attempt to ensure that no one who wants criticism walks away from the thread empty-handed, or at least make progress into the long list of people who currently fall into that category.
Nautilus Pack of Tangled Tentacles:
I encountered this item during voting and was enthralled by the flavor of a living or psuedo-living creature to replace the ubiquitous and metagamey bag of holding. It was one of the two items I saw while voting (along with Roost of Razors) that excited me enough to describe to my friends, which is high praise even coming from a measly Star Voter (on a different alias).
That said, you should work to improve your presentation and language. Your first sentence – "This back pack is similar in appearance to the right half of a nautilus shell with an opening at the top." – buries the idea in an unnecessary logistics diagram. Compare that to something more evocative like "This polished spiral shell hangs from the wearer's neck by four rubbery suckers." ; the reader might be disgusted or fascinated, but either way you've drawn them in.
My top advice would be to get some proofreaders who don't play tabletop games (in addition to ones who do). They're more focused on the wording than the mechanics and can help you catch inconsistencies and poor wording like using both "the right half" and "the back half" (you've just drawn and quartered the poor thing!)
The idea is great: it's simple but interesting, with an added spellcasting flair to make it exciting. However, unclear mechanics and language obscure the idea and make the submission much harder to understand and much less appealing. I had to read it several times before I figured out exactly how it worked. Here's an example of a much shorter description that could have replaced everything but the spellcasting:
"This eight inch hand mirror is constructed of elegantly wrought silver, with oval head and short handle. Once per day the user may bind the mirror to an object or creature reflected in its surface, displaying the target as though the mirror were following it from the same perspective for the next 24 hours. Creatures and attended objects may negate this effect with a Will save (DC 18)."
Disappearing Weapon Cord:
A very solid useful item in my opinion, and proof that a less than flashy item can make it very far in the voting. One serious problem in my book is the lack of rules for what happens to the stored weapon when the cord gets cut. You've left it completely up to the DM with no guidance, besides which a creative effect is both traditional when messing with extradimensional spaces and a good opportunity for you to demonstrate something more cinematic without altering the basic function.
Also, "The stored weapon's weight is negligible." is probably unnecessary, but that's just a nitpick.
I took so long doing these that an indomitable reviewer covered all of them and got through every item on the first 2 pages, but that's fine by me. :)
obi of the ghoul hunter
amulet of construct skin
sea nettle submersible
gloves of silent echoes
laurel of kurgess
Here's what I submitted. Please critique however you'd like, but there are also two specific questions I have:
Apparently there was some "quill fatigue" among voters – is this always an overdone item type? Are there any others, apart from maps?
Okay, I have more ideas about what I want to change, but I should leave the tearing apart to you all. :)
Quill of the Tengu Sage
A wizard may use the quill to write a text concealing a prepared wizard spell with the language-dependent descriptor and a single target. The process takes one hour (or the spell's casting time if longer), during which the wizard makes all decisions normally made at the time of casting. The completed text must be at least one page long and emits a magical aura of the same strength and school as the spell stored.
A spell stored in this way permanently uses up a spell slot until the text is read or the wizard decides to prepare a new spell in that slot, upon which the text becomes nonmagical.
When the text is read in full, the spell is cast upon the reader at the wizard's caster level. The wizard is aware that the spell was triggered but does not know the nature of the target nor whether the spell had the desired effect.
Any attempt to store additional magical writing in the same text triggers both the original spell and (if applicable) the new glyph or rune, destroying the text.