Dust of Weighty Burdens

Open Call: Design a wondrous item

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka eotbeholder

Aura faint transmutation; CL 5th
Slot -; Price 3,600 gp; Weight 3 lb.

Also known as loadstone essence, this coarse grey powder comes in a fragile ceramic flask covered in Terran runes. Newly crafted flasks contain enough powder for ten applications if poured out carefully, or the whole container can be thrown as a splash weapon with a range increment of 10 ft.

One pinch of the dust sprinkled over an object increases the object’s weight by 100 pounds. Multiple applications stack, and the effect remains until the object is scrubbed clean of the metallic particles (taking a full round action per pinch applied) or blasted with an attack dealing electricity damage.

A creature struck directly with a thrown flask must make a Fortitude save (DC 10, +1 per application remaining in the pouch) or become heavily encumbered and unable to fly for 2d4 rounds. Targets splashed with scattered powder when the flask breaks must also save or suffer medium encumbrance for the same duration. Electricity damage neutralizes the powder as noted above.

Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, slow, stone shape; Skill Craft (alchemy); Cost 1,800 gp

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

This is kind of neat, like the various other dusts. Its a riff on dust of dryness and (my fave) the dust of sneezing and choking. But while I like the heaviness mechanic here that would be fun, in the end its "just another dust," kind of like just another figurine of wondrous power (not quite that bad, of course).

Is this interesting enough? New enough? Unique enough?

I do like that it does something with the encumbrance rules instead of just applying a spell effect. That makes it worthwhile in my view.

Inclined to keep, I guess. But not strongly.

The Exchange Kobold Press

I do love me the gravity effects (there's a bunch in the Zobeck school of Stars & Shadows, for instance). And this is a pretty decent one, encumbering a foe. It's especially nasty against flyers, though the delivery mechanism there seems lacking.

Overall, I think it works, though encumbrance has never been the most elegant set of mechanics.

The fact that there aren't a lot of other dusts is a point in its favor. The designer chose an area that isn't overworked, so we're likely to get material with some creative spark in future rounds as well.

Inclined to keep, though not all that strongly.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games



Dust item = unusual.
Gravity item = cool, but generally prone to wonkiness.
Gravity item that uses existing mechanics = good.
I like it.

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

Congratulations on making RPG Superstar 2009!

I like this one. It's simple and to the point, and it uses existing mechanics to its advantage. The encumbrance rules, while they are a little goofy in some ways, are also pretty straightforward, and they tell you exactly what effect you get with them.

For a lower-strength target, you could achieve the "heavily encumbered" goal just by sprinkling it on one item. Sure, you can throw the whole flask on somebody as a ranged touch, but can you pour one pinch on an item (say a suit of armor) as a melee touch, rather than wasting the whole flask?

I like it as an item that messes with fliers, though I would have liked to see an explanation as far as exactly what happens to a flier that gets hit with the dust. Do they drop like a rock? Do they float down softly and can't get back up?

Summary: Good, simple theme. Countermeasures are clearly explained (scrubbing, and static shock - very cute use of electricity) and so are most of the effects. You are missing some mechanics that would help flesh out the item and its use, but in general good stuff.

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

My thoughts, as they so often are, are in complete concurrence with Jason: this is an item kept from greatness by a hair's breadth, and one more editing run-through might have made it my favorite item so far.

But that's not the point. Rules, at the end of the day, are just rules; you did something interesting and cool and unprecedented within the scope of the rules, and that MUST be applauded & rewarded.

The image of tagging a Dex-focused flier in the face with a flask full of Dust of Weighty Burdens and seeing him collapse to the floor unable to move after suddenly gaining 1,000 lbs. is worth any amount of rules-lawyering. Well done!

Congratulations, and I look forward to seeing more from you as Superstar! continues!

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder aka Robert G. McCreary

Interesting item. I read through it, thinking what is this for? and then you hit us with it at the end. Ah, encumbrance vs. flying creatures. Nice touch on using electricity to get rid of it too. It is interesting to use encumbrance as the mechanic, instead of another spell effect, but why does heavily encumbering a creature make it unable to fly? Even a cursed loadstone only reduces speed to half. And what if it's used against a creature with high Strength? An old red dragon with Str 35 isn't going to be encumbered by an extra 1000 lbs. I'd like to see some more explanation on the mechanics here. And is it just me, or does stone shape seem like an odd prerequisite?

But a new dust item is great, and the basic idea behind it is solid. Good job! Congratulations on joining the ranks of RPG Superstar!

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar aka Leandra Christine Schneider

The way I understand it, you can throw it as a splash weapon using a ranged touch attack to hit your aerial enemy. The opponent saves or loses its ability to fly and since the author doesn't state any additional effects, the creature hits the ground nearly instantly.
Since you need both, hit with a touch attack and your target to fail a moderate Fortitude save, I think this application is balanced. Low probability (hit, save, be in an aerial battle) for a potentially devastating effect.

A straightforward approach using the encumbrance rules. This is unusual an therefore nice.
Applications inside and outside of battle reward creative players, this is good too.
Also, thank you for the formatting.

Doesn't state if and how you can just "sprinkle" the dust in combat. That is something that should have been there and I miss it dearly.

After reading all entries:
Its varied applications got to me in the end. While the item is simple, using it effectively isn’t and that makes for a good wondrous item in line with Sovereign Glue and the Immoveable Rod (I know, rods are not wondrous :P ). Be a little bit more aware of mechanical details in future rounds. Good luck in the RPG Superstar 09!

Liberty's Edge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2012 , Star Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 9

I like the idea of this item. It raises a couple of questions, though: How does the dust not weigh anything before being used? What happens if the owner is struck by an electricity attack?

There definitely aren't enough dusts, and this is a good one.


I like it. It works as a counterweight, ballast, defense option, (put a table in front of the door and sprinkle some of this on it), damage increaser for falling objects, way to cheat in a weightlifting competition, and combat item! The uses are unlimited - who hasn't wanted gravity in a can?

Star Voter Season 6

Flexible, unique item with a niche all its own. Awesomeness squared for its practical joke potential...

What happens if you blow it in someone's face? Do they fall prone when their head suddenly weighs 100 lbs? What if you put it on their helmet? Their cod piece?

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Gamer Girrl

Ah, the rogue in me sees sooooo many evil uses for something like this. I like :)

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka eotbeholder

EDIT: Removing specific replies to feedback until after the contest ends. Bad writer. No cookie.

Thank you all for your feedback, insight and advice. I don't think my item was perfect by a long shot, but I'm thrilled you've given me the chance to advance to further rounds.

Dark Archive

An item that encumbers foes. That's the most original thing I've seen in a while. I like!

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

Like it. Good name. Like the pun in the alternate name.

Dust is indeed a plus. Kudos for finding the undermined area.

A couple of mechanics questions. Is there any weight addition that's harmful to the target? Deadly?

Not quite top tier for me, but certainly tier 1.5!

After careful review, this is definitely my favourite of the bunch. A cool, unique effect that has a great visual and is well thought out. Reading this answers all of my questions about it, but I can think of a ton of ways to use it. Congratulations!

Shadow Lodge

Chris_Johnston wrote:
After careful review, this is definitely my favourite of the bunch. A cool, unique effect that has a great visual and is well thought out. Reading this answers all of my questions about it, but I can think of a ton of ways to use it. Congratulations!

I am in total agreement here. A simple, yet wondrously designed item.

Great work Jacob, i cannot wait to see what is next!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka Clandestine

I love that Dust. I see outright many uses for it in my game - and that's the first thing that a Superstar item should do. It's practical, and the mechanics are clean. Perhaps it's a bit hard to apply the encumbrance rules on the spot, but when used correctly, this item can make a player feel satisfied and smart - and that's very good.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka amusingsn

I like the Dust of Weighty Burdens for the most part.

The writing is excellent. The mechanics are fairly solid (though encumbrance is kind of scary). It has a lot of utility but it also seems like an "alchemical essence" that would exist in a more 'mystical' and less 'gadget' based setting -- I love the alchemical feel, really, I do.

Definitely one of the better items. I look forward to seeing what you come up with for us in Round 2.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Is this inspired by the heavy dust from Dresden Files?

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

I like dust. I just made a dust item myself, also ground from another magic item. I think it's a neat trick, and we should see it more often.

There may be a better way to do the mechanics for this - maybe a slow effect. And as far as nailing fliers, it possibly should only work on natural fliers (the ones who can't fly above a light burden). But the item as presented works pretty well.

Nice toy, this one might make it into my own games.

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

It takes a really creative mind to read "create a wondrous item" and think, "You what this game needs? More dust!" I respect that.

Hmmm. I might have been tempted to put this item in a category like Silversheen without any specific spells listed under the construcion cost (but perhaps ranks in Craft (alchemy), building on a suggestion made by another poster).
Not an item I find inspiring, but solid.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka Lord Fyre

I just cannot weight to use this in game! :D

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Lord Fyre wrote:
I just cannot weight to use this in game! :D

Sir, you win the thread.

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

Lord Fyre wrote:
I just cannot weight to use this in game! :D


Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

You know, I can think of an immediate encounter where this dust would have been useful...namely a certain annoying quasit in the Rise of the Runelords.

Great work on this item. Welcome to the Top 32. And good luck in future rounds...

My two-cents,

Scarab Sages

This is a very cool item. I like it a lot. The only complaint is the effects of a single application and its delivery; that bit is somewhat unclear. Congrats!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Gamer Girrl

NSpicer wrote:

You know, I can think of an immediate encounter where this dust would have been useful...namely a certain annoying quasit in the Rise of the Runelords.

Great work on this item. Welcome to the Top 32. And good luck in future rounds...

My two-cents,

OMG ... you are so right! That li'l [censored for tender ears]. This would have been perfect against that thing ;)

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

Use in combat mechanics lacking, but then this is the kind of item that is going to need to be ruled on by the GM anyway, like the immovable rod and the force chalk-thingy. I dig those items that challenge players to overcome unique obstacles with them.

Fun and imaginative, and plays on a DnD classic. Although I don't play DnD anymore.

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 fun item that has lots of uses for creative players. Like Rob, I'd like to know how this works just as well on a human as on a collosal dragon or other really big and strong creature. Maybe making one pinch add 1000 pounds instead of 100 would make better sense, or putting a size limit on what it can effect with a lesser effect on larger size creatures. That would probably better balance this cheap item also - it should be able to take out a medium to large creature that tends to have lower CRs, but I wouldn't want a direct hit to take down Dragotha.

Also, with the electricity to end the effect, would even 1 hp do it, or is there/should there be a minimum? As written, it sounds like even the single hp would do it.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka eotbeholder

(Thrice-cursed message boards just ate my big reply. Grrr.)

Looks like it's fine to post specific responses in the item round, so here goes: the Dust of Weighty Burdens, Special Director's Cut Legacy Super Dragon Alpha Gold Edition.

This item started life as an 'obedient boulder' that would change weight from negligible to a thousand pounds on telepathic command. Then a friend of mine pointed out I had basically invented a pet rock. Thank goodness for editing.

I'm not sure how I missed not giving an action type for sprinkling the dust out an application at a time, but I'd call it a standard action that provokes attacks of opportunity. If you're trying to carefully sprinkle the dust on a creature or its equipment that requires a touch attack as well. You can't just scatter it because the particles are too heavy, and you can't pour it into your hand and sprinkle it that way because your hand or glove will end up weighing a quarter ton. (Same with pouring the dust into another container to get two grenades - the other container will get heavy. The flask is part of the magic.) So it definitely requires a fair bit of concentration to apply if you're not just going to throw it all at once.

If you poured out just a pinch onto a creature or attended object I'd resolve that just like throwing the flask with one application left. It's like how disintegrate or shatter work differently on held objects and creatures vs. things just lying on the ground - an artificial distinction to be sure, but important for the sake of balance. I wanted to avoid effects that would require to actually calculate how much weight you were carrying for determining encumbrance. What 'heavily encumbered' means is pretty cut and dry, but I know lots of campaigns (mine included) just hand wave carrying capacity and having to tally up your entire inventory for the sake of one attack would slow things to a crawl. So creatures and their equipment always get a Fort save to resist the set effects, and the duration (also for the sake of balance) is limited.

Should the Fort save to resist actually be a Strength check? Well, that would seem to make more sense, yes. But Strength checks don't improve with level, and with the dust being a low cost item to begin with I didn't want high level parties carrying around backpacks full of the stuff to utterly hose monks, rogues, and anyone else with low Strength and light armor. The most realistic solution might be to require a Fortitude save modified by Strength instead of Constitution, but that seemed too clunky and White Wolfish, especially given the limited scope (and word count) of a magic item. This does mean as others have pointed out that a dragon can be encumbered just as surely by the dust as a wizard, but I look at it this way: a dragon could fly carrying a few hundred pounds, yes, but could it fly with that weight all in one spot hanging off the tip of its nose? Or its wings? If the creature is strong enough that the answer is 'yes' it probably has a high enough Fort save that it can basically ignore the dust anyway. (I can't think of any creatures with great Strength but lousy Fort saves, but let me know if I've missed any.)

Flavor-wise, I could also see this item being an elixir, maybe the 'Black Blood of the Earth' or something, but the contest already had one of those last year and so I ultimately went with the more old school approach. Looks like the judges and fellow contestants are split on whether that was a good move.

Speaking of old school, I worried when Clark was talking about the cube of force that I'd fallen into the trap of the 'obscure counter just to reward other players who memorize the rules' with the electricity-removal bit. I'll admit I was reaching with that one (as the description, alternate name, and required skill all hint, I was going for a hand-wavey alchemical magnetism feel, and figured electricity would counteract the charge) but I wanted some way out for PCs (monks in particular) who got hit and discovered how many abilities require unencumbered movement, and having a way to remotely 'turn off' the extra weight opened up lots of neat applications for resourceful traps. Requiring a damage type rather than a specific spell or substance left things fairly broad while still encouraging teamwork - so if the druid doesn't have call lightning the fighter can pull out his shocking burst longsword or the like.

Stone shape as a creation prerequisite came from wanting a low-level spell that would reflect the weight-changing applications in addition to the slowing/grounding combat uses. Changing a substance's form and changing its weight seemed close enough thematically to justify the inclusion. Reverse Gravity might have been more appropriate but was too high level for early crafting... I wanted the dust to be useful before everyone could fly, teleport, etc.

Incidentally, while the encumbering and grounding effects have gotten most of the attention (and item word count), what really interested me about the dust were all the creative ways to use an instant half-ton of weight. Like the immovable rod (my favorite item ever) the dust really rewards a player for ingenuity. Others have thought of most of these and can no doubt think of many more, but I'd imagined players using the dust to block doors, make deadly missiles for telekinesis, avoid or safely set off weight-sensitive traps (say, when you need to remove the priceless golden idol on top of a carefully calibrated pressure plate), collapse fragile ceilings and floors, start avalanches, form dispellable counterweights for makeshift pulleys or see-saws, prevent thefts, slow down chariots or wagons, start 'sword in the stone'-type legends, and of course win ridiculous bar bets.

In dust we trust!

It's a very nice item.
I like it a lot and can see myself using it in a game.

It's a bit more expensive than I'd like for regular use, but frankly it has to be, given what it does. If there could be some design way to make it cost between 500-1000 gp, that would be perfect.


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