Horn of the Dark Hunt


Open Call: Design a wondrous item

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The Exchange RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Tarren Dei

Aura faint divination; CL 1st
Slot —; Price 32,000 gp; Weight 1 lb.

DESCRIPTION
The horn of the dark hunt is carved from the horn of a minotaur. When sounded, the horn illuminates tracks left by undead creatures as if the tracks were lit by a faerie fire spell. The candle-bright glow gives +5 to survival checks to follow tracks made by undead. Although incorporeal undead leave no footprints, their lingering aura is lit by the faerie fire. This allows incorporeal undead to be tracked as if they had moved across very hard ground (DC 25). The horn illuminates tracks in a 60' cone-shaped emanation. The illumination lasts for one minute.

If an undead creature with greater than 11 HD is within the 60' cone when the horn is blown, then the horn releases a sudden burst of light and sound. The horn's blower must make separate fortitude saves (DC 11) to avoid being blinded and deafened for 1d6 rounds. Whether or not the save is made, the horn cannot be used again that day.

Requirements: Craft Wondrous Item, detect undead, faerie fire; Cost 16,000 gp

Contributor

There's some coolness here, with tracking the incorporeal.

Might be a keeper.

The Exchange Kobold Press

Some cool factor definitely. But making the horn's blower save if the enemy is there strikes me as quite a drawback.

And what's with the 1-minute duration? Survival checks and tracking are often going to take minutes or hours.

Not sure it's quite tightly-designed enough.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Oh man. My gut says keep this around. Problem is, it has a few FATAL flaws.

The 1 minute duration is a killer. You just cant track in one minute. All you can do is see if creatures have passed.

Love the name.
Love the idea.
Limited in scope.
Great mojo.

I dont mind the flash of light effect. I think that is a cool limit. It sort of illuminates the undead's lingering presence. If they are actually present, the illumination is intense.

Here is my question--can anyone see the illuminated tracks or just the holder of the item? If anyone can see it, than anyong should be affected by the flash of light, which they arent (the item says only the holder). This is inconsistent design.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

It has some big flaws, but I just dont want to reject it yet. I really like it.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Kept.

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

Congratulations on making it into RPG Superstar 2009!

I scanned the list of items and this one caught my eye to review first. I really like the effect and the effort to make a relatively low-power item that is nonetheless very cool and has a specifically useful game effect. In min-maxing terms it's not as crunchy-awesome as some other stuff in the 16000 price range, but it allows you to do things outside the normal rules, which has to cost a premium.

That one-minute duration, though? Ouch. Aside from being rules-problematic (as in, tracking typically takes a lot longer than a minute), it forces you to keep blowing the horn EVERY MINUTE to keep following the tracks. That might tend to tip off the creatures you're following that they're being followed.

That's not a killer by itself, since hey, it's atmospheric. They know that the Dark Hunt is on their trail! The bigger problem, though, is that I'm not sure whether the illumination of tracks is an emanation from the horn (so it lasts whatever direction the horn is pointed for 1 minute) or a burst (that illuminates the tracks themselves in that 60' cone for 1 minute). If it's the former, the horn becomes a sort of tracking flashlight. That's kind of cool. If it's the latter, you'll be blowing the horn more like every ROUND or so to keep finding each new 60' length of tracks.

I'm also not too sure about the blinded/deafened bit. I can see where you got the idea, from using detect evil and the like on high-powered foes, but this is not an effect that I think is so good that it needs the drawback. Heck, I wouldn't have minded if it faerie fired undead in the area for a round, not just their footprints - adding a small bonus effect, rather than a drawback.

Summary: I think the idea is great and you score points with theme and flavor, but there are big mechanical problems here. If you want to advance, that's something you'll need to improve.

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

I love the idea of tracking incorporeal undead, and the thematic feel of a horn blowing over and over as the PCs race after a ghost, wraith or spectre is a neat one.

Now, I might have reworded the "incorporeal" rules to include ALL undead who otherwise leave no discernible tracks - it would be neat if the horn allowed the user to track a gaseous form vampire, for example, or a lich riding in an animated carriage. There would still be ways to confuse the horn or otherwise obviate its effects (teleportation, for one) - but that is a secondary, developmental concern.

I, for one, really like the "blast of light & sound" effect: it gives a severe drawback to an otherwise infinite-use utility item. The idea of a powerful ghost back-tracking along its path and briefly confronting the PCs just so their Horn will be rendered useless for the day is cool. Also, the idea of using the horn to track down particularly stealthy undead is intriguing, but if the mummy lord ninja is within 60 ft., your tracker might be blinded & deafened.

As to Jason's query above, it is my understanding from reading the description that the Horn produces a 60 ft. cone emanation: you move, and the emanation moves, flashlight-like, with the horn.

All in all, a very, VERY cool item. I'm impressed, and I look forward to seeing more as Superstar! continues!

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder aka Robert G. McCreary

Cool name? Check. And another one I wasn't expecting. Had a completely different image in my head before I looked at the item. (Which isn't a bad thing, BTW - it's nice to be surprised). And the name also fits with the undead theme going on. It's a cool idea, but I honestly can't think of the last time I needed to track undead. And don't zombies leave just as good footprints as living people? OK, so you can track incorporeal undead with it (assuming 1 minute is enough time!), but how often does that happen? Usually incorporeal undead just come through the wall and attack, they don't lead you on a chase through the woods. So I think this is very limited in scope. Maybe too limited in scope - this seems like one of those "my campaign" items Clark talked about on the big discussion thread. It might be perfect on your campaign, but it would never see use in my campaign (or in others', I suspect).

I don't want to be too negative, though - the other judges obviously see something here, so I look forward to your further entries. Congratulations on joining the ranks of RPG Superstar!

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar aka Leandra Christine Schneider

I also assume that the horn is to be used like a flashlight, and I enjoyed the mysterious and somehow creepy style of this item. Doing something new is always welcomed and you delivered with an easy to read description.
I can live with the one minute duration, since it adds to the scene.

Positive:
It does something new and scored well on flavour too.
Good formatting.

Negative:
Too expensive and narrow for my taste. It might be worth it in an undead heavy campaign, but otherwise most characters should invest this kind of money into more combat oriented items.
The save DC of 11 against the negative effect is nearly negligible at a level where this item shows up. That is a mechanical drawback that needs to be added to the other concerns that have been raised.

After reading all entries:
Very good flavour and name for a somewhat narrow item. Others were more careful in those parts, but I welcome you to RPG Superstar 09 and wish you good luck!

Scarab Sages Marathon Voter Season 7

Pathfinder Card Game, Rulebook Subscriber

Congratulations. And good luck.

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

Nice to see you in the contest! I'd probably tweak this item to require more or less continuous sounding, since that seems to be the general idea. Not sure how I'd change around the final trump aspect of it - the flash of light doesn't work for me, but I like the idea that once you've found your quarry, the horn is done for the day.

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

Great item! This is an item that isn't obviously associated with the undead, so that is very cool.

Since one of the effects includes deafness, I'd have thought you would include something like shout in the requirements. I apologize for the nit-pick.

Congratulations!

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Tarren Dei

I am surprised and excited to be here.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Way to go Trevor/Tarren...it's cool to see you made it as well! Best of luck in the next round!

--Neil

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Gamer Girrl

I like this. The "constant" winding of the horn, as the party hunts their target is kewl. I worry about the party losing one party member, potentially, to the blindness/deafness, but it's a neat drawback. Perhaps the ghoulie is outlined in faerie fire as well on that nasty backlash? To give the other members that an edge to slightly make up for being one member shy? Dunno ... but I like the feel of this :)

Liberty's Edge

Cool item! Heathy likey.

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

Surprising, well-named item. Some mechanical issues keep it from being the very best, but close. I do wonder if the designer had a solid grasp of tracking rules.

The drawback is well considered, though. So there's spark and an ability to think of the limitations of the design.

First tier for me.


Right on Trevor. Good job and congratulations. My vamp-hunter wants it so bad.

1 minute limit. What were you thinking?


Nice one! Very evocative - I can see Kamris using this in the Spires. :D

Liberty's Edge

Good Job!

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Tarren Dei

Nerrat Dei wrote:
Good Job!

Thanks son. I loved your item too.

Spoiler:
Check out my son Nerrat's item here. Pretty cool, eh? He did all the work himself from concept to write-up! I just let him borrow my books.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka Clandestine

Awesome name is always a good start, and you nail it. Plus, you don't slow down the pace afterwards, either - good design, interesting abilities, no jarring mechanical flaws. It might use a little reworking, but whose item doesn't?

My only complaint is - this Horn is the sort of item that your party uses for a single adventure and then forgets. Having that item will result in either forgetting about it soon, or turning the campaign to focus on the undead.

But sometimes, undead is all we need, right? Congrats!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

I like the concept on this item (tracking undead...and specifically incorporeal undead). It's a must-have for the undead-slayer archetypes out there. The mechanics do sort of give you pause. It illuminates tracks in a 60-foot cone effect for 1 minute. So, every 60-feet (which takes...what?...about 2 or 3 move actions to follow) you have to blow it again. That gives away your position and warns the undead you're on its trail. As a player, I'd have a hard time deciding to use this item. I'd probably wait until I thought I was really close to my quarry. And even then, I'd hesitate for fear the undead might have 11 HD or more and risk blinding/deafening myself. And that brings up one other question for me...why 11 HD? What's special about that particular Hit Die threshold?

Regardless, I'm really glad to see you in the Top 32. I know how creative you are. You're really supportive of everyone else, too. Best of luck in future rounds.

My two-cents,
--Neil


Bravo!! and I mean that in a totally Kerrigan's Keep type Sirap's Hilltop Drunken roar!!


Nicely done, Tarrenevor. I like the item; it's very flavoricious. I particularly like that it's not one of those items someone would be pulling out with every encounter, but when they do, it's very, very cool. Reading the description, you can't help but develop a mental image of a great scene. Rock on, man, and make us proud.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Trevor,

No need to create an avatar with your real name to post here. As a finalist, when you post anywhere in the RPG Superstar area with your *default* avatar, we'll display your real name... plus, that way, people get to see your bling! I've edited all of your posts in this thread to use your main avatar.

Sovereign Court

Sweet fancy Moses!! Congratulations Trevor! I can't believe I missed this until today. I told you that horn sounded like a cool idea! Good luck with the next round!


Oooh. I like it! I'm not sure a PC would like the price (unless a commited undead hunter - I suspect it's probably something you borrow from the local baron/bishop/city guard anyway) but from a player point of view I'd want to see it used in a game at some point.
This one would definitely get one of my votes if this were a voting round. :D

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka flash_cxxi

Congratulations Trevor/Tarren.

I like this item.

I think for the cost there needed to be a touch more included though. Either that or lower the price.
Also, it definately needs some clarification on some of the effects.
Otherwise, me love this long time.


I have a question...
How long ago these undead tracks have to be made? There has been an undead creature here in the last day, or last century? This would make Castle Ravenloft very pretty place...

Star Voter Season 6

magdalena thiriet wrote:

I have a question...

How long ago these undead tracks have to be made? There has been an undead creature here in the last day, or last century? This would make Castle Ravenloft very pretty place...

I'd assume that the illumination would be relative to how long it had been since the presence of undead, given the blinding light if one is currently present. Also, it gives a bonus to tracking, so the time would probably follow the normal minuses to tracking under the survival skill chart. (neg to survival for so many hours, days, so on)

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka NChance

Good job. Following undead, especially incorporeal undead, has always been a bit of trouble and this item fixes that. It's not so overpowering as to simply say "He's over there", but it lets the PCs use their skills in a way that's meaningful to them. If our undead hunting ranger in the Age of Worms didn't leave for new baby-reasons, I'd definitely craft one for him. Others have echoed my only quibble, and that would be the one minute timeframe. Though for 32k, I'd have expected something higher than CL 1st for the item.

Great job and good luck in the next round!


Shri Tamana wrote:
magdalena thiriet wrote:

I have a question...

How long ago these undead tracks have to be made? There has been an undead creature here in the last day, or last century? This would make Castle Ravenloft very pretty place...
I'd assume that the illumination would be relative to how long it had been since the presence of undead, given the blinding light if one is currently present. Also, it gives a bonus to tracking, so the time would probably follow the normal minuses to tracking under the survival skill chart. (neg to survival for so many hours, days, so on)

This would be how I would rule it too. Addressing it might still have been nice anyway :)

Though if you happen to have hit to an area where a great undead army of the Dark Overlord have marched over fifteen years ago there might still be enough residue to hide fresher tracks...indeed, maybe also vary according to the CR of the undead, so kobold skeleton would be barely a blip while Count Strahd or Vecna would leave a clear presence...

Liberty's Edge

congratz i really liked the item
specially since i love the idea of combating undeads
for the price it would be nice if it let you track them for a longer time, i am ok with everything else

my elven ranger/cleric hunter of the dead WANTS & NEEDS it :D


Good job making it in! I love the idea of this item one of my favorites.

I didn't read all the comments so excuse me if I'm retreading old ground here but if the path is lit up then why do you have to make a track check? I don't have any experience tracking but I'm pretty sure I could follow a set of glowing foot prints or a glowing cloud. Is the roll because it goes away in a minute and you can still track after because you got pointed in the right direction?

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

I like the imagery of this item. A few people have noted that the one minute duration makes it difficult to actually track anything, though I'd argue that if the tracks are lit up by faerie fire, it shouldn't actually take much effort to track anything, and if anything, a +5 bonus on the skill check is not enough. My one big concern about this item is its limited use. This is more of a plot element item, the thing you use in one adventure, or one scene of an adventure.

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

This is another of those items that doesn't interest me in and of itself, but makes me concerned about stiff competition in the next round. If the flavor on this item is any indication, your villain concept is going to be quite impressive.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Tarren Dei

Heathansson wrote:
Cool item! Heathy likey.

Thanks Heathy. I'd originally designed the horn to hunt warwoofs but ...

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Tarren Dei

Thanks everyone. You've given me a lot to think about.

The 1 minute duration was too little. I was aiming for something atmospheric. It would be really boring to blow it once and then use it all night. Maybe the horn should be blown three times every ten minutes. (You've got me wondering what a silence spell would do to the effectiveness of the horn.)

Ravenloft as Christmas Tree? The conditions modifiers for weather and passage of time apply as normal so it wouldn't be soooo bad. Still, Castle Ravenloft would be very pretty.

The price is certainly too high for most campaigns. Some of my characters would get their money's worth out of it but the price could be reduced by half.

The feedback for 11 hit dice or higher was inspired by the 'detect undead' spell's 'stunned' effect. With a DC of 11, it seemed like a minor risk. I'm thinking your paladin's and ranger's could usually make the save. If they aren't a high enough level to make that a minor risk, they really shouldn't be chasing 11 hit dice undead through the woods in the first place. ;-)

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Tarren Dei

Ragwaine wrote:
Good job making it in! I love the idea of this item one of my favorites.

Thanks Ragwaine!

Ragwaine wrote:
I didn't read all the comments so excuse me if I'm retreading old ground here but if the path is lit up then why do you have to make a track check? I don't have any experience tracking but I'm pretty sure I could follow a set of glowing foot prints or a glowing cloud. Is the roll because it goes away in a minute and you can still track after because you got pointed in the right direction?

I don't know. I dropped a really shiny quarter on dark pavement yesterday and it took me ages to find it. ;-)

The glowing tracks are dimly lit so tracking becomes easier but not a sure thing. If the tracks are already pretty clear (say a medium creature in very soft ground) then it would be pretty hard to fail the roll. On the other hand, I'd imagine following a lingering aura to be pretty tough and more like a chasing a wisp of smoke than following a 'glowing cloud'.

Liberty's Edge

Tarren - I didn't realise you were in the top 32. Congrats man.

Nice work on the horn - very flavourful.

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8

One of the few items that conjured a clear mental picture of my character using the item at night, following glowing footprints with my sword out and ready.

Stealing this for my game with some minor modifications to allow it to work while tracking.

Grats.


The visuals this item creates for the imagination are great, the rules need tweaking. Overall I think the item is pretty great though. As others have stated, the duration needs to be much longer on the fairy fired footprints. The item has wonderful flavor. Great job, and congrats on top 32.

Liberty's Edge

Tarren Dei wrote:


Ravenloft as Christmas Tree? The conditions modifiers for weather and passage of time apply as normal so it wouldn't be soooo bad. Still, Castle Ravenloft would be very pretty.

except for the fact that i don't like how House of Sthrad translated to 3.5... i have just a comment

do you really want to track undeads in Ravenloft? only the very brave and the fool track undeads in there, the smart ones will blow the horn and see where not to go... the cruious and the hunters of the dead would discover the lair and return by day

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8 aka Benchak the Nightstalker

The horn, the hunt, and the taking down undead elements all make this item feel very Erastilicious to me, which I like.

Very Cool!


Tarren Dei wrote:
Ragwaine wrote:
I didn't read all the comments so excuse me if I'm retreading old ground here but if the path is lit up then why do you have to make a track check? I don't have any experience tracking but I'm pretty sure I could follow a set of glowing foot prints or a glowing cloud. Is the roll because it goes away in a minute and you can still track after because you got pointed in the right direction?

I don't know. I dropped a really shiny quarter on dark pavement yesterday and it took me ages to find it. ;-)

The glowing tracks are dimly lit so tracking becomes easier but not a sure thing. If the tracks are already pretty clear (say a medium creature in very soft ground) then it would be pretty hard to fail the roll. On the other hand, I'd imagine following a lingering aura to be pretty tough and more like a chasing a wisp of smoke than following a 'glowing cloud'.

I would think that following glowing tracks by night (or otherwise 'in the dark') would be easier than by day, and it would have been nice (had word count allowed?) to have had mention of a circumstance modifier to take this into account.

Whether or not it is a good idea to try to hunt undead after darkness has fallen, when the powers of some are at their height is another matter altogether....

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Tarren Dei

Charles Evans 25 wrote:


I would think that following glowing tracks by night (or otherwise 'in the dark') would be easier than by day, and it would have been nice (had word count allowed?) to have had mention of a circumstance modifier to take this into account.

Point taken regarding the condition modifier for hunting at night. There are a couple of possibilities but I'll have to think more on it.

Charles Evans 25 wrote:

Whether or not it is a good idea to try to hunt undead after darkness has fallen, when the powers of some are at their height is another matter altogether....

"Why do we hunt undead at night? Because that's when they come out."

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Another one with neat visual effects -- I do like items that give me a mental image, and this one delivers in spades.

I love the FX when a big bad is within the cone -- it's the horn's way of saying "It's ON! Boss Fight! Kill it (again)!" I'm not crazy about the blinding/deafening of the user -- seems like it just becomes WAY too risky for my vampire hunter to pursue these critters alone in a mad horn-blowing rush, only to be blind and deaf when he finally encounters Vlad face-to-face. However, the DCs are low enough that anyone that driven will probably make them, so it doesn't much concern me.

Random question: any particular reason it's made of minotaur horn specifically? (Just my flavor brain asking.)

Great item; can't wait for your villain!

Congrats on Top 32!

-Speck

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Tarren Dei

Mike Speck wrote:

Random question: any particular reason it's made of minotaur horn specifically? (Just my flavor brain asking.)

Minotaur have 'track' as a racial feat. It's in their bones. ;-) Thanks for asking.

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