Abyssal Spurs


Open Call: Design a wondrous item

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6 aka TerraNova

Aura moderate conjuration [evil]; CL 9th
Slot -; Price 12,000 gp; Weight -

DESCRIPTION

These barbed spurs fit on any normal pair of riding boots, although they can be affixed to armor just as easily. Once per day, a horse or similar animal mounted by the wearer experiences a horrible transformation into a beast out of the depths of the abyss. In the transformed state the horse is in all ways equal to a Nightmare, but may be cosmetically different. The steed remains transformed for a full day, or until the rider dismounts. It does not suffer from thirst, fatigue or deprivation while transformed, but its ferocious nature increases the DC for all ride checks by 5.

If the ridden creature is sentient, it may resist the transformation with a successful will save (DC 18). After the transformation ends the creature must make a fortitude save (DC 18) using its own save modifier, or be slain instantly. This is a death effect. Even if it survives, it takes 1d6 points of constitution damage.

CONSTRUCTION
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, Summon Monster V, creating this item requires casting a spell with the [evil] descriptor; Cost 6,000 gp

The Exchange Kobold Press

Every Chelaxian hellknight should own a pair of these.

Inclined to keep.

Contributor

6000gp seems too cheap to have a flying mount whenever you want, with the minimal "material component" cost of possibly killing your horse (or riding dog, let's make it really cheap).

The game doesn't really have a definition for "sentient" ... Int 3+? Int 1+?

Will save and Fort save should be capitalized.

Interesting idea, and a decent sense of the mechanics, but not quite there yet.

Reject.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

I like the idea. But the formatting problems are just not Superstar. Capitalization, I'm looking at you. And I'm with you on the "sentient" thing, Sean.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Rejected.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

You know what. I have rejection remorse. I wish I hadnt rejected these.

I think this is the kind of item that makes me want to see what the person could do in the contest itself. I know, that goes against things we've kicked other entries for. But there is some spark here.

I would reconsider rejecting this if you guys are on board. Heck, if one of you is on board.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Kept.

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Congratulations on making RPG Superstar 2009.

Wow, frankly I'm surprised the judges didn't reject this item based on price alone.

Compare this item to the figurine of W.P. (obsidian steed), which in its 3.5/SRD iteration summons a very watered down imitation nightmare (as in, a heavy warhorse with overland flight, plane shift, ethereal jaunt), has a 10% chance to dump a good-aligned rider in the lower planes, and can only be used once a week.

This item costs 28,500.

Your item costs only 12,000 and it:

1. Turns the mount into a REAL nightmare, which is actually fairly buff monster, including its flaming hooves and smoke abilities, the latter of which is pretty sweet as it grants concealment more than 5 feet away. True, the smoke will also cause some problems for the rider, but this is a property that might have been appropriately addressed in the text.

2. Allows flight at more than twice the speed of the ObSteed (90 vs. 40). It's also non-dispellable magical flight (though the boots themselves could in theory be dispelled, if an opponent knew to target them to get rid of the nightmare).

3. Gives the rider essentially unlimited access to astral projection and etherealness (not a horse-and-rider-only ethereal jaunt, but a group phase-out which takes along one ally per caster level of the nightmare - which is 20th).

There is also the incidental point that nightmares are from Hades, not the Abyss, but I can give that point away for flavor's sake.

Summary: Trust me, I know nightmares and how hard they cheat. That's why I used one for a villain in last year's Superstar contest. Your idea is cool - spurs that turn your mount into a flaming horse from [insert name of bad place], and may very well kill the mount in the process. I actually think that if you had played up that angle - the tortuous killing of the mount as part of the transformation - and limited the duration and eliminated the plane traveling, you would have a solid idea here. It's still way better than the obsidian steed, given that you can use it as often as you like with any mount you like - in fact even a simple mount spell plus this item and instant nightmare, but you would be a lot closer. As it is, I think you got away with one here.

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

This is a really, really cool idea.

The best way to balance these, in my opinion, would be to let the spurs transform the mount in question into a nightmare for one minute ... and then the steed dies at the end, no matter what.

But that's a rules concern, and the Judges have already talked about rules concerns. If you want to talk cool, though ... well, damn it, these bad boys are COOL.

I want a pair for my PC, and that's the only real test as far as I'm concerned. Yes, these are broken, but I'll find a way to sneak something like these into something I run, and that's Superstar! in my book.

Well done, and I look forward to seeing more as the competition progresses!

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder aka Robert G. McCreary

Yikes! A 12,000 gp item turning any mount into a CR 5 outsider? I agree the pricing is WAY off, especially compared to the obsidian steed. And what is a "similar animal"? Can your riding dog become a nightmare? An elephant? Can they be used, as Jason suggested, on a mount spell? And if that mount only lasts 2 hours, does the nightmare still last all day?

I think Boomer's solutions would help - short duration, and dead mount. Period. But it's certainly cooler than an obsidian steed or crappy horseshoes of a zephyr, that's for sure. You need this kind of creativity for this contest, but tighten up that formatting and those mechanics foe the coming rounds. Congratulations on joining the ranks of RPG Superstar!

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Clinton Boomer wrote:

This is a really, really cool idea.

The best way to balance these, in my opinion, would be to let the spurs transform the mount in question into a nightmare for one minute ... and then the steed dies at the end, no matter what.

But that's a rules concern, and the Judges have already talked about rules concerns. If you want to talk cool, though ... well, damn it, these bad boys are COOL.

I want a pair for my PC, and that's the only real test as far as I'm concerned. Yes, these are broken, but I'll find a way to sneak something like these into something I run, and that's Superstar! in my book.

Well done, and I look forward to seeing more as the competition progresses!

Perfect solution, Booms.

1 minute duration
auto-mount death

I would probably also ditch the plane-traveling powers of the nightmare, because that's where the hard cheatin' comes in.

I mean, the real point of these is to have a complete badass mount for basically the duration of a combat, right? For that, at a price point of around 12,000, I think you'd just about hit it right.

The idea is good and fun (and those don't always go together). If you can balance those with good mechanics, you've gotta shot to go far.

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar aka Leandra Christine Schneider

Oh no...*sad*
I really liked the idea of spurring your mount so hard that it actually transforms into a demonic and frighteningly effective killing machine. Difficult to control but devastating in combat.
The fact that it transforms into a nightmare of rule-abuse has been thoroughly analysed by Jason and is such a drawback, that the item will destabilize any game with at least partially optimisation oriented players.

Positive:
Flavour wise it is a nice idea that I enjoyed greatly. I even might inject a modification of this item into my game.
Mechanically, mount enhancing items are good to have in general since these beasts tend to be too weak. Especially at higher level.

Negative:
Getting a Nightmare for a negligible cost is way too powerful. Really. Sorry.

After reading all entries:
The extreme power of this item still kills it for me. I do hope you can make it on flavour alone, but I have to welcome you to serious RPG Superstar competition out there.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6 aka TerraNova

First of all, I thank you for your comments on the item, and for fishing me back out of the reject pile. I'll try and come up with a great villain concept - unless all the hyper in my body tears me apart before I can write down anything, that is.

Since this is not a "voting round", I guess it is alright to give some comments on why I designed it the way I did?

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

I like the idea that it has a *chance* to kill the mount. I guess I have more of an attachment to my character's horse than others would, but I would definitely think twice before using it because it could be the death of National Velvet.

This is an awesome item. Congratulations!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Gamer Girrl

I suppose the "component" cost of a new nag isn't too steep, since if you're using these I'm guessing you have a lot of connection to ol' Glueball ... but ick! Not something I'd use, but can definitely see in the Hellknights armory. (Now we know why they buy all the old, broken down nags ::shudder::)

Though the cost for gaining a Nighthag for a full day does seem too low.

Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Clouds Without Water

I think it's better for having a risk rather than a certainty of death. That means the user might gamble with a mount they wouldn't have used if death was certain. It means a choice to be made! I'm all for that.

It might be a bit overpowered, but the concept is solid.

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

TerraNova wrote:

First of all, I thank you for your comments on the item, and for fishing me back out of the reject pile. I'll try and come up with a great villain concept - unless all the hyper in my body tears me apart before I can write down anything, that is.

Since this is not a "voting round", I guess it is alright to give some comments on why I designed it the way I did?

Yes, by all means please do so for this round.

From one of last year's judges... I'm with you on the flavor, but the price is WAY too low, and the lack of specificity in language (what is sentience? What is "or similar creatures"?) is going to knock you out in future rounds unless you tighten it up considerably.

This is the easiest round to win with a bit of flash and flourish. If you don't get the rules in check, you are probably going to get bounced.

The idea of spurs that turn your mount into an Abyssal beast, though?

That's awesome.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6 aka TerraNova

Ok, design comments.

First off, i agree with my critics. These got way too cheap, especially when compared against the figurine. I must admit, I primarily matched the price against the various horseshoes as other "mount enhancing" items. When i came across the figurine when looking through the SRD, I more or less thought that I was out for sure.

Clinton Boomer's variant suggestion strikes just the right cords with me. The twin saving throws came about primarily because I was worried about creating a way to instantly slay equines with no saves. Consider me an oddball, but unless I am mistaken Eberron had an awakened tree archdruid. That makes a awakened warhorse reasonable, and a unicorn paladin very much so.

The definitions should have been tighter, much tighter. The "similar creatures" clause was meant to include unicorns, black unicorns and other "more or less horses". Good catch on the Mount spell, too.

If i had to do it again, I'd probably increase the price significantly and shorten the duration. Animals tend to have rather low Will saves anyway, so a single Will save to resist (DC 18 still looks reasonable) is probably the way to go. If the mount fails this save, it's gone.


As a note, the Golarion equivalent of Hades (which I would assume will eventually wind up in the Pathfinder RPG) is Abaddon (home of the daemons).

Hmm. Maybe 'Daemonic Spurs'?

Or 'Obsidian Spurs of Abaddon' for a bit more flavour?

Love the twisted evil idea behind the item though.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka Clandestine

Oooh, that's sick. A black-clad tiefling mounting an innocent white horse, smiling in a devilish manner and putting these spurs to good use. Very nice. I can picture this in my game outright.

It was a bit unclarified, but it's a conscious decision whether to use these spurs or not when riding, right?

Nontheless, very cool item. I favor things that I can put into my campaign on the spot, and this one is definitely among them. Kudos!

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6 aka TerraNova

The innocent white horse was precisely the intended target.

Ok, on to the "Abyssal" part. I aimed for a general compatibility here, and cheesy as it is, "The Abyss" is compatible with "the 3.5 version of the worlds most popular RPG" as well as Golarion. If I had used Hades, I have a feeling I would not be here, with that being closed IP and all.

Additionally, nightmares do not strike me as particular daemonic, even though they are neutral evil. After much deliberation, i decided not to sacrifice any word count on explaining just where that "horse from hell" comes from but rather go with a simple, halfway catchy name.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

How can Hades be closed content? It's based on real-world mythology. So it's fair game for reference.

As far as the Abyssal Spurs go, I like the concept. An evil NPC with these things making his escape by hopping onto the town mule and kicking it into a nightmare is just...well, nightmarish...and cool...and a really well-done, flavorful item.

Now given that, I would have liked to have seen a few more limitations on what it could effect in this manner. Riding dogs should be out. Other magical steeds (unicorns, pegasi, etc.), too. I'd suggest that you restrict it to just horses...and only the animal version.

Just my two-cents,
--Neil

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6 , Dedicated Voter Season 6

The flavor works, and as so many others have said, the idea is great. The rules for the item are too vague, however - for example, does "cosmetically different" allow me to keep my horse not looking like a nightmare at all? It's also way too cheap.

I was inclined to pass on the item entirely until I got to the part about it killing the horse. That's just sweet. I happen to disagree with it being automatic, though - that's pretty abusable. "I hop on the centaur, spur it, and hide until it dies".

Hoping to see a nice tight villain design now that you're in the contest!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Love this item. The flavor is very good, and the writing is good as well. The pricing is off by quite a bit (as others have noted.) I have two changes I'd like to suggest. The first is to have this item fill the boot slot. Here's why: you already note that they can be worn only with "normal" riding boots or armor. Thus, you're already limiting what can be worn in the boot slot while you're wearing these. My other suggestino is to clean up what counts as "a horse or similar animal" - perhaps note that this item only works on "a mount appropriate to the character" or something to that effect. I'd have to give it a little thought. Basically, something that makes it useful for halflings and other small guys, and prevents larger creatures from using it to turn a dog or something into a nightmare. Also, it would prevent the character from using it to slay creatures by riding them in combat. Although, I like the imagery of making a marilith play pony for one round and then dropping dead! You could also make the action required to activate the item a bit longer, which would also solve that problem.

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

I don't think I have much to add to the commentary on this one. Nice flavor. Way underpriced. Pretty much, "What [previous poster] said."


Jason Nelson wrote:

Congratulations on making RPG Superstar 2009.

Wow, frankly I'm surprised the judges didn't reject this item based on price alone.

I completely agree. This item is horribly overpowered for the cost. This just oozes power gamer exploits and GM headaches. My mount died?Who cares! I will buy another one and have a nightmare all the time! Changing a mount into a nightmare sounds cool, but in practice I think this would be terrible to have in a game from a GM standpoint.

Grats on the top 32 though!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6 aka exile

Thumbs up man. I like the name. I like the effect. Even more important, I can picture my evil human fighter, Lachlain Kerr, "mounting" a prostitute while wearing these things. I know the rules don't really support that image, but it's too cool for me to pass up.

Chad

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Steven T. Helt

These would defintiely have gone on my villain in round three had I made it there.

The price is clearly way off, and your mechanics need strengthening, but your idea is fantastic and evocative. Maybe a half-fiendish mount would have been enough for a slightly higher price, and you'd lose access to all those abilities that needn't come with a wondrous item.

And I think the mount having to save or die is sufficient. The Con damage gums up the work here. Trash that and fix the price and the extra nightmare abilities, and you'll have my favorite item of the round - even over the last leaves.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka JoelF847

I don't have anything to add - very cool and flavorful. Bringing up the flaws with the item would be like beating a dead horse.

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