Helm of the Golem Master


Open Call: Design a wondrous item

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Garnfellow

HELM OF THE GOLEM MASTER
Aura strong abjuration; CL 13th
Slot head; Price 76,500 gp; Weight 3 lb.
DESCRIPTION
This item, forged of dull gray iron etched with magical inscriptions, appears to be almost as much an impassive mask as a helmet. It covers the entire head and sports an articulated lower jaw as well as two small, round eyeholes shielded with crystalline lenses. When worn, the wearer seems a little larger and somewhat slower. The helm of the golem master can be used up to 3 times per day. The wearer can activate this item as an immediate action. Each use produces any one of the following effects, which lasts until the beginning of the wearer's next action:

  • The wearer gains damage reduction 10/adamantine.
  • The wearer ignores critical hit or sneak attack damage, as if wearing armor of heavy fortification.
  • The wearer gains spell resistance 24.
CONSTRUCTION
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, antimagic field, stoneskin, limited wish; Cost 38,250 gp

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

golem in a can, literally. i'll admit, i kind of like it. it would make its way into a magic item book.

but not superstar.

reject

The Exchange Kobold Press

I like it quite a bit, but probably not enough for Top 32.

Inclined to reject, willing to be talked out of it.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

You know, I am coming around on this. It is so limited. It just lasts basically one round. And it only has 3 uses per day. Plus it is cool.

I am swinging to keep.

Contributor

It's limited and reactive enough that I like it, I was worried that it would be horrendously overpowered.

Keep.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Kept.

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

This is, thus far, my single favorite entry.

A great concept with a killer execution. If I'm not mistaken, the three effects can't be stacked: a character is permitted only a single immediate action per round.

Although I suppose that a particularly panicked PC might enact one effect as an immediate action, one as a move action and one as a standard action. Take a five-foot step, and then lose all the powers at the start of their next round ... but, if surrounded by ninjas & facing down a spellcaster, it might be worth it.

Great concept, killer execution. Congratulations, and I look forward to seeing more as Superstar! rolls on!

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder aka Robert G. McCreary

I'm getting images of old-school Iron Man in my head with this one - you know, the kind of goofy, '50s robot-style suit that he wore at the beginning (and I'm talking the comic here, not the recent movie). Anyways, golem helm. Three powerful abilities, but only usable once per day each, for 1 round. Those are good limitations to prevent abuse. Maybe it's a golem-in-a-can, as Clark said, but not really. It's a little golem-flavor in a can. And who hasn't had a time when becoming a golem for a round would have really helped?

Boomer brings up a good point - I'd like it spelled out that only power can be used in a given round, not all 3 stacked. I don't know about other people, but I might throw in another penalty too - the wearer seems slower when wearing the helm, why not make him a little slower while the helm is in effect? Maybe as if he were encumbered. It's a trade-off - for that round, you're heavily protected, but kind of a sitting duck too. Other judges, what do you think?

Regardless, I like this item. It's fun, useful, has clean and simple mechanics with good restrictions. Nice work!

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder aka Robert G. McCreary

Forgot to add: Congratulations on joining the ranks of RPG Superstar!

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

Congratulations on making it into RPG Superstar 2009!

I'm not crazy about the name. For a helm of the golem master I was expecting something about commanding or controlling golems.

But really, that is my only complaint. Other than that, this item is very nicely done.

I can see Rob's point that it would be nice to stipulate that you can only one power per round, but I actually am more on Boomer's side here. If you want to blow all 3 powers in 1 round (which also would take ALL of your round's actions to do), then go for it. It's your item. Your 76 THOUSAND GP ITEM. If you wanna use it up in one round per day, then rock it, man!

Also, while these are very nice powers, they are not any kind of gamebreaking. Honestly, DR/10 for a round? SR 24 for a round? Crit immunity for a round? None of these are going to break anything. If anything, given the ultralimited duration (bear in mind; it's not even a WHOLE round - it's until your next turn), I think this item might be a little overcosted.

Immediate actions are tricky; can you wait until a crit is confirmed before declaring it, or do you have to declare it as soon as you are attacked, or as soon as you are hit? Still, as I said with another item, that's a problem inherent to immediate actions, not your item.

Summary: I like it. Far from being abusable I think it's actually a little more expensive than it needs to be for what it does. I think a name change would help, as borowing a golem's defensive abilities doesn't fit with being a "golem master" to me, but beyond that I think this item is good, good, good.

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar aka Leandra Christine Schneider

Hmmm...golems...I like golems.
But hey, I am not letting you get away easy because of this. Fortunately, I don't see any problems with this item. It has three distinct and interesting protection effects (which is good, because it is a helm after all).

The use of immediate actions is well executed. It allows you to react to the spell, or critical that just hit you and every barbarian I know who started raging because of a hold person targeted on him (possible with the right feat), loved to be able to do that. I am sure you can wait to declare your action until the crit is confirmed...that is the power of immediate!
Also, the three effects fit the flavour seamlessly.

Positive
Lovely formatting.
Perfect use of immediate actions in my opinion.

Negative
Maybe a fair bit too expensive. How about 1 use per encounter, so you could have the fun all day long?

After reviewing all other items:
Welcome to RPG Superstar!
Very good job on the item. I am eager to see what you come up with in the future.

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter Season 6

I would just reword it to say "Lasts until the beginning of the wearer's next turn" rather than "next action", if the player wins the initiative roll and wants to activate it then they'd lose it on their move action. Just seems a little clunky as is.

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

This seems to be a tightly-defined item. It skirts "monster in a can," but avoids it well enough that you can see the mechanics come together nicely.

Congratulations!

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

Reactive defenses are fun.

Pathfinder RPG doesn't allow trading down action types to swifts,so it'd be hard to activate more than one effect a round - you could do it by taking a swift to do the immediate during your turn, then using an immediate (and the next round's swift) after your turn.

Like this item.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Gamer Girrl

Tightly themed, short duration on major bonuses ... but dang, eighteen seconds or so a day for 75k? Ouch. And as someone mentioned, the name seems off for what you actually are getting.

Dark Archive

Hugely expensive, IMO. Still, someone would probably pay for it.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Garnfellow

Thanks, everyone, for the kind words. (And thanks, Clark, for giving the helm a second look!)

I love immediate and swift actions -- I think these were a great innovation from late 3.5e and remain one of maybe two or three of the most promising mechanics crying out for exploration. Other than a handful of (generally closed) things from the XPH, PHBII, MIC, or Spell Compendium, it's really a wide open field.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Garnfellow

Clinton Boomer wrote:
If I'm not mistaken, the three effects can't be stacked: a character is permitted only a single immediate action per round.

That's my understanding, too. Because immediate actions are still relatively unfamiliar to many, I had originally included a couple of lines in the item description that reiterated some basics of the action type ("Immediate actions can be used at any time, even when it is not the wearer's turn. Only one immediate or swift action may be taken in one round.") I eventually removed this in case it would be seen as redundant, but based on the comments here, I think I should have kept this info.

Jason Nelson wrote:
Immediate actions are tricky; can you wait until a crit is confirmed before declaring it, or do you have to declare it as soon as you are attacked, or as soon as you are hit? Still, as I said with another item, that's a problem inherent to immediate actions, not your item.

I looked in vain for some clarification on this question, and came up empty. Most of the reroll mechanics I am familiar with (which are somewhat similar in that they are reactive) call for using such a power before the DM announces whether the original roll was successful or not. I would personally let players activate the helm any time before damage dice are rolled, so the player knows they have been hit, and they know they got critted. I know some DMs would find this too generous.

As far as the pricing on this, I'll admit I struggled with a lack of precedents to use for comparison, and like many of you I suspect I erred on the side of conservatism. But I still don't know how much lower the price should go. Most closest comp, the helm of teleportation, is at 75k.

And yeah, the name isn't quite there. I played with a lot of different variations, none of them very satisfying ("Helm of Golem Power," "Helm of the Golem"). The "perfect" name will probably come to me in the middle of the night six months from now.


Randy Dorman wrote:
...When worn, the wearer seems a little larger and somewhat slower...

On a pedantic note, what bonuses and penalties does this translate into?

But a fairly interesting item and one that I might otherwise have in a game I was DM'ing without feeling the need to tweak it.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka Clandestine

Great item. It's intelligent design put to use, with tight wording, nice mechanics and flavor that would appeal to many players. The name is the small dent on an otherwise smooth surface - this isn't "mastery" per se, it's mimicry of golem properties.

Good work! Seeing your tight design, I really look forward to seeing your next entries.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

I agree with most of the comments so far. It's a little bit of a monster-in-a-can, in that it conveys some of a golem's defenses, but you reined in the abuse of it really well. I think that takes a careful eye for design. Much like a couple of the judges, I started out not liking it that much in terms of its functionality...but it grew on me. I can see why they kept it around. And I'm interested in seeing what you do for your villain.

My two-cents,
--Neil

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Garnfellow

Charles Evans 25 wrote:
Randy Dorman wrote:
...When worn, the wearer seems a little larger and somewhat slower...
On a pedantic note, what bonuses and penalties does this translate into?

Good question. My inclination would be: none at all.

This represents a significant shift in my design thinking. A few years ago, I would have either omitted this line precisely because it had no mechanical effect (waste of time!) or I would have tried to add in some minor thing like "-5 ft. to speed" or "+1 to Grapple checks against Medium or smaller opponents."

But there are a couple of problems or limitations with that approach. One, while it's kind of nice to see a mechanic matched up with flavor text, at a certain point it's just not worth anyone's time to track because the game effect is so small. And second, sometimes I find that the moment you assign a mechanic to an effect, it kills the romance stone dead. A free-form cool idea can suddenly become limited by defining it.

In a campaign once I had a +1 sword that shone with a green, fiery light whenever the wielder encountered someone he hated; if he struck such a foe with the weapon it flared brightly for a moment. Absolutely no mechanical effect whatsoever. But the ability really captured the imagination of the player whose character had carried the sword. Later, when the same player turned away a genuine +1 flaming sword because it just wasn't as cool as the sword he already had.

So, if I can, I try to add a little bit of non-mechanical coolness to items to spice it up without adding unnecessary complexity.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka amusingsn

This is extremely well written, and well designed. There's not much wrong with this at all.

It seems like the sort of device that a golem-obsessed wizard would design, in his quest for becoming more "perfect" like his creations. And it also happens to have some useful features for any adventurers that might come across it as well.

Superstar material, all things considered. I look forward to seeing what you've got for us in Round 2.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

This one is pretty cool. Who doesn't want to become a golem once in a while? I have no mechanical issues with it, either, save that it might be slightly overcosted.

Cool variant models could give you one of the abilities of a specific golem type, such as Iron Golem's Cloudkill.

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

Nice item, if overpriced. It reminds me of several of the immediate action items I recall seeing in the Magic Item Compendium. In fact, I like it better than many of the immediate action items in the Magic Item Compendium.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka flash_cxxi

Nice Item.

I like how the description says the wielder seems a little larger and somewhat slower.
I think for the price maybe 5/day would be a better limit on it's usage, but otherwise a very handy helmet for any Tank to wear into battle (or Caster for that matter).

Congrats on the Top 32.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka NChance

Nice. Great way to stick with a theme, but not overdo it. Well done, and good job.


Cool defensive item, but way too expensive for 3/day uses for 1 round each. In general it seems there aren't a lot of defensive items submitted.

At least it isn't overpowered. I was worried it would be a fantasy version of the iron man suit for a second there, thanks for not doing that.

congrats on top 32!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka Lord Fyre

taig wrote:

This seems to be a tightly-defined item. It skirts "monster in a can," but avoids it well enough that you can see the mechanics come together nicely.

Congratulations!

It is not a "Monster in a Can," nay, the Can IS the monster!

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

I would give this one a few rounds of activity, either OPD or as a swift action several times per day. But really, this is not a very interesting item to me. It belongs in a book about magic items or artificers or something. It gets glanced over in favor of something flashy, though.

Liberty's Edge

Garnfellow wrote:

In a campaign once I had a +1 sword that shone with a green, fiery light whenever the wielder encountered someone he hated; if he struck such a foe with the weapon it flared brightly for a moment. Absolutely no mechanical effect whatsoever. But the ability really captured the imagination of the player whose character had carried the sword. Later, when the same player turned away a genuine +1 flaming sword because it just wasn't as cool as the sword he already had.

So, if I can, I try to add a little bit of non-mechanical coolness to items to spice it up without adding unnecessary complexity.

i applaud this :)

nothing is worth more than cool flavor to make people love an item. while i have players who would toss an old sword for a new shiny one, I also know people who would keep their weapon for the background they or me had invested in it.


"The wearer ignores critical hit or sneak attack damage, as if wearing armor of heavy fortification. "

Do you have to choose which? That would indicate the wearer has 4 options rather than 3. I find the wording here a bit vague.

Interesting Item! :)

~LD

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka Smeazel

Light Dragon wrote:

"The wearer ignores critical hit or sneak attack damage, as if wearing armor of heavy fortification. "

Do you have to choose which? That would indicate the wearer has 4 options rather than 3. I find the wording here a bit vague.

Well, it does say "as if wearing armor of heavy fortification," which protects against both, so I'm pretty sure that's what it's going for--I assume the "or" just means whichever one is happening to the wearer, not that he has to choose which one to protect against. Still, you're right, it would be clearer if it said "and" instead of "or".

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Garnfellow

Smeazel wrote:
Well, it does say "as if wearing armor of heavy fortification," which protects against both, so I'm pretty sure that's what it's going for--I assume the "or" just means whichever one is happening to the wearer, not that he has to choose which one to protect against. Still, you're right, it would be clearer if it said "and" instead of "or".

I think Jeffrey has it.


ok. Thanks for the clarification!

~LD

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

This is a nifty item, but way overpriced. Considering that you can get heavy fortification for half of the price (not to mention +1 armor at the same time) that actually is on all the time.

I'm late to the last few round 1 entries, since I wanted to make sure I read all the villains before voting ended. In hindsight like this, I was even more dissapointed that this didn't actually allow golem mastery, since your villain was a golem master, I wanted this item to be something that led to that. (I expect to see this in his stat block though.)

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Tarren Dei

Check out Randy Dorman's gruesome creation for Kobold Quarterly's KotM Fight! contest: the echidna.

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