Amulet of Sparkling Deceit

Open Call: Design a wondrous item

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka carborundum

Amulet of Sparkling Deceit
Aura faint (silver), moderate (platinum) or strong (mithral) illusion; CL 3rd (silver), 7th (platinum), 15th (mithral)
Slot neck; Price 2,160 gp (silver); 10,080 gp (platinum); 43,200 gp (mithral); Weight
This amulet of highly polished, beaten metal flickers and sparkles, reflecting the lights and colors surrounding those facing it. The most common amulets are made from beaten silver, although platinum amulets are not unheard of. Tales of an amulet of sparkling deceit made from beaten mithral are swapped in covetous tones by rogues and assassins alike.
Once per day as a free action, the wearer of the amulet can cause it to distract a single target creature within his reach. The target creature must make a Will save (DC 13 (silver), DC16 (platinum) or DC 22 (mithral)) or become convinced they see a threatening figure behind them, reflected in the amulet. The wearer of the amulet of sparkling deceit can treat the affected target creature as being flanked. This is a mind-affecting pattern effect which lasts for three rounds and is only useful against targets who can see the amulet when it is activated.
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, hypnotic pattern (silver), rainbow pattern (platinum), or scintillating pattern (mithral); Cost 1,080 gp (silver); 5,040 gp (platinum); 21,600 gp (mithral)


How does something like this last for 3 rounds?

And is a panther really going to close in on a wearer of this thing, see the amulet, and think "My word, there seems to be some manner of stealthy poacher behind me, let me not eat this cowering chappie and address my surreptitious new guest"? Or is it going to think "RAWR! Munchmunchmunchmunch"? Just saying, it seems to be banking on a bit here. This is a case where the reasoning gets in the way of the maaaaagic.

Now, if an illusionary flanker is actually created, that's totally another thing, but this doesn't say anything about that.

I'm leaning toward the old reject.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Oh man, this is a great item. This is exactly what wondrous items are supposed to do--break the rules in a limited way, low power, tight theme, not do too much, etc.

This amulet lets a single person grant flanking to itself against a foe. Rogues will LOVE this.

I cant believe no one thought of this.

Not the best writing. Could be tighter and clearer. I also agree some of effect could be done better--though I guess they just rest it on it being a mind affecting power and thus creatures that are immune to said powers arent affected. The 3 round duration thing needs work, but I want to think about it. Granting 3 consecutive rounds of flanking regardless of what the target may do seems to be a possible problem and subject to abuse.

The panther, in its animal brain, sees a reflection and senses danger from teh magic of the amulet, causing it to divide its attention and grant flanking to the user.

This is great.

Strong keeper for me.

This without a doubt makes me want to see what this person can do in round 2. Great name. Seriously, I cant believe we havent seen this before. Maybe you guys have and I just dont know about it.


My major concern is the logic and believability of the effect. That aside, the rules themselves are totally fine by me.


Ha ha, I think this is in just on the Clark's vote of confidence.


This is a good niche item, and it'll be a must for the rogue who likes to run off on her own--or if the rogue gets stuck having to deal with a lieutenant while the rest of the party hammers the boss.

Probably would be cleaner design (and more useful) if it could be used 3x/day for 1 round each rather than 1x/day for 3 rounds. I also wonder what happens if the amulet-bearer disengages from that foe--do they still think they're flanked? Do they go after the illusion? Is anyone else able to take advantage of this flanking?

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut I just reviewed the gloves of the deceiver and now I see an amulet of sparkling deceit. What's the deal with everyone trying to "deceive" folks with their magic items this year? ;-)

So, I see we get different versions of this amulet, based on their metallic content. Nice touch with the escalating illusion (pattern) spell-chain to dovetail with that in the construction requirements.

Mechanically, I can see the points the judges have made and agree. Presumably, this can only affect creatures susceptible to mind-affecting effects. Allowing the flanking bonus to linger for 3 rounds, however, seems like a stretch. And I completely agree it should last for only a single round...essentially as long as it takes for the affected creature to realize it isn't flanked and it's just some trick of the light striking the amulet's reflective surface. Bump up the amulet's number of uses per day and the overall design is then tighter, I think.

The language and explanation of the item does leave some questions unanswered. You'll probably need to think through your future submissions so you don't leave any gaps. But, for now, welcome to the ranks of RPG Superstar! You're in! Now go make the most of it and knock everyone's socks off in the next round. Best of luck!

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4 , Star Voter Season 6 aka raidou

I think this particular item has a really cool central theme of deceiving an opponent into thinking it's flanked, but doesn't quite do that concept justice in the execution.

I read this several times, trying to figure out the mechanical differences between the types of amulets. The three spells you've outlined as building blocks of this item have increasing power and complexity, but all the higher-level amulets do is increase the Save DC. That's kind of a letdown for me.

But in any case, I do enjoy this idea. It's a fun theme to work with, and it proves your design potential. Take the judges' comments to heart, and really test your designs for internal logic as you progress. You're in the top 32 now. Well done, and welcome aboard!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4 aka K. B. Carter

Congrats on making it to RPG Superstar 2010! I asked myself the same three questions for each of the top 32 items. Here are my responses to your item:

Would this wondrous item unbalance or overly-complicate my game if my PCs were to find it and use it?
It's definitely good, but not unbalancing, so props to you here. There are a few things that the item's description doesn't quite address, such as what happens if the flanking square is already occupied by another creature or a solid wall, but this is more my beef with the ambiguities of illusion magic in general as opposed to this item specifically. Instead of activation being a free action, I would make it a move equivalent action, but that's just because I like forcing my players to give up something to gain something else.

Would my PCs be happy with this item if they were to find it during an adventure?
The rogue would love this for obvious reasons and it could add a cool level to the strategy of the battle mat. To a large degree, the druid's pterodactyl pet in my current campaign is already used to set up flanks for the rogue (and those are flanks that can't be bypassed with a Will save), but this would be a good fallback option if the pet is pinned down or the rogue was off slinking around by himself.

Do I like the mojo? Does the item spark other ideas for my campaign?
Yeah, interesting concept here and handy little item. Good job. From a flavor standpoint, I wish it did more than just distract enemies-for example, maybe it allows your shadow to flank with you or something--but it's solid for what it does. Good job.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Darkjoy

Jeff, write a good entry for round 2 and you will be the first Dutch guy that made it to round 3, no small achievement!

Nice one Carborundum. Neat item for Rogues, not to mention getting the often underused Pattern spells some use.

Okay, this is the first one I've seen which I actually like, and it makes perfect sense to me. Being a [mind-affecting] effect, I imagine the guy sees the 'reflection', is suckered by the magic, and spends the next three rounds looking over their shoulder for a guy they're convinced is 'just out of the corner of sight'.
Congratulations on reaching the top 32, Carborundum.
This looks to me what a superstar item should be and what I fall hopelessly short of being able to do.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Demiurge 1138

I like the multiple types of item just increasing the DC (too many fun magic items are hampered by low DCs, I think), and I agree with the judges that 3/day for 1 round makes more sense than 1/day for 3 rounds.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

I'm surprised that people are taking the 'reflection' thing so literally. The effects of a hypnotic pattern also stretch believability (that is, if you assume that the spell simply generates a strobe light, rather than a mind-warping hypnotic pattern. Which is basically what you're doing here- taking the 'reflection' bit at face value rather than reading it as the catalyst for some deeper magic effect).

This isn't just tricking the target with a minor illusion; it's snaring them with mind-affecting magic, and it says so explicitly.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka MythrilDragon

As a big fan of flanking my opponents I love the idea of being able to do it alone. Nice Job and good luck on the next round.

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16


Really nicely laid out and executed item. My rogue would love to have one.

Congratulations, good luck next round.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka carborundum

Thanks guys, thank you very much indeed!

I'm sitting at work now and I'm supposed to be writing reports for 30 kids. I can't concentrate, of course!

The three times for one round is nice, though my original idea was a kind of nagging distraction in the back of your mind that lingered. (For those solo missions or when the fighter just can't come and help you). I had considered using some sort of shadow magic or maybe even phantasmal killer to make you think you saw your worst fear but I liked the pattern progression and I did indeed intend that the victim "filled in the blanks" themselves.

There's definitely room for improvement, both in the writing and in looking at it from a design point of view. I rushed this out the same day I had the idea and regretted it every day since, until 11pm last night!

Wow! Just wow!

Now back to work thinking about monsters, I mean happy little Dutch kids who expect school reports!

EDIT: I live in Holland and speak Dutch.. but I'm Irish! Whoooo!!!

Dude, congratulations. And someone from Holland made it to round 2! Great!

as an aside, I think you're skirting the 'don't comment on your own item' rule there. I would edit just to be safe.

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

This item just oozes cinematic flavor for me. I can vividly picture some sap glancing down to see a looming shadowy figure behind him in the reflection.

I'm very impressed!

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka carborundum

Oh no! I thought you could broadly discuss things that are over and done with, just nothing in the new round. I flagged my post and will email Gary to edit it if Ive just gaffed. Oh dear. Too busy at work and too late to edit myself.

Argh!!! Hope it's okay!

Quick dive into the rules:

da rules wrote:
Just grin and bear it--you'll be able to say as much as you want about it once voting is closed.

Think I'm okay :-)

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

Over in this thread Sean K said anyone (including the contestants) can talk about the top 32 items, so I think you should be in the clear.

It's next round, where people are actually voting, that you have to watch your comments.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Darkjoy

carborundum wrote:

EDIT: I live in Holland and speak Dutch.. but I'm Irish! Whoooo!!!

As long as you progress you'll be Dutch, especially if you end up winning ;>

Another good Rogue item (so I love it). I also don't think it should last 3 rounds but still great idea and I love the three metals idea very neat.

Congratulations on making the next round.

carborundum wrote:

Quick dive into the rules:
da rules wrote:
Just grin and bear it--you'll be able to say as much as you want about it once voting is closed.
Think I'm okay :-)

phew (I hope).

sorry I got you nervous. Good luck on your next round.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka carborundum

I need to keep spare pants at work.

Star Voter Season 6

Nice flank-in-a-can item, desirable for rogues. I'd have had the number of rounds scale with the cost of the item, myself. But good show and congrats on the entry!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 7

Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:

Over in this thread Sean K said anyone (including the contestants) can talk about the top 32 items, so I think you should be in the clear.

It's next round, where people are actually voting, that you have to watch your comments.

This is correct.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Tarren Dei

So, Jeff, did your co-workers see you all in a panic?

This is a fun item. I look forward to seeing your monster.

Congratulations. If this had been a five votes voting round, you would have bagged one of my votes. :D

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

Nicely done! It's definitely one of those cool "why hasn't anyone done this before" type of items.

Congrats and good luck in the next round.

Scarab Sages

carborundum wrote:

Amulet of Sparkling Deceit

I have mixed feelings on this one. It definitely has the mojo, doing something any rogue character desperately wants, but the writing doesn't do it for me and the DCs seem to be low for a once per day item. Maybe the 3x/day for 1 round version would be better?

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

Great job making the top 32! I like this item a lot. It's priced right, not overpowered, gives some love to pattern spells, and the free action activation fits with the item (otherwise, the rogue might as well bluff to feint.)

I have 2 little nit picks (but no other criticisms). First, rounding the market price would have better fit into the normal pricing for items, despite the precision the formulas give. 2100, 10000, and 43000 would be a bit better. Second, it should probably be a swift action to activate, not a free action, so there's at least a slight action cost to using it.

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

Demiurge 1138 wrote:
I like the multiple types of item just increasing the DC (too many fun magic items are hampered by low DCs, I think), and I agree with the judges that 3/day for 1 round makes more sense than 1/day for 3 rounds.

Agreed on this.

That said, I don't have any problem with the illusion (pattern) just being "something threatening over there" - you don't NEED to specify what it is the creature sees, any more than you need to describe what horrible scary thing the target sees when you use phantasmal killer. I mean, perhaps the item should've created a phantasm effect instead, but you were going for a visual effect and to tie it in with the description and with the escalating power of the design spells (agree with Neil - a nice touch), so I think it works fine as a pattern.

The item is fun, useful, reasonably costed (because its effect ends up creating a better benefit at higher levels, when you have more attacks available and enemies are harder to fool, I like the cost escalation for more effective versions).

All in all, a good solid item. Good luck in the contest!

Dark Archive Contributor , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Boxhead

This one is great- just the thing for a rogue wandering off on his own, or who gets caught without help in a tough fight. I don't mind the item lasting for three rounds, though 3/day for 1 round makes them much better. I don't know if they need the power boost...

Here's hoping your monster is this good!

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka DankeSean

This one definitely grew on me- I had a knee-jerk reaction last week of 'three rounds of nonstop sneak attack damage without having to sweat over positioning? Eek!' But, given time to reflect (ahem), on it, it doesn't put any power into a rogue's hands he wouldn't have with various builds or spells/magic items anyway, so it's not the monster I thought it was at first. do agree with the majority that it should be a single-round effect with multiple charges per day, but that's pretty minor at best, given the overall design.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka carborundum

Phew - CTRL-C before posting saved my bacon!

Thanks for the feedback guys! Thank you EVER SO MUCH, everyone who likes it!

I've found so many things I'd do differently but once I had the idea I came down with mild tunnel vision. I'd also like to answer a few comments; I'm sorry I didn't sit down and do it sooner but it's kind of hectic in RL at the minute.

The rounds scaling thing is indeed a tricky one. I like three rounds - it tempts the fragile rogue to stay where he is, and those conversations at the table are hilarious! Actually... the three rounds came from the duration of the first Pattern being "Concentration + 2 rounds" and that's where it all started. Three times one round is too a little too far the other way, though three rounds per day whenever you like would be right in the sweet spot.

Doing more than bumping the DC with the new petals was on my list of things to do with an extra 200 words! I had also considered stuff like adding phantasmal killer to the crafting requirements and letting the target see the very worst thing/ person he wanted to have behind him. In the end it seemed unnecessary. It's mind-affecting magic. They trick themselves. They think they see something, and if they're sneaky they think it's a trick. Then they fail the save and realize it's a double bluff.

"There definitely was something, and I bet it was that son-of-a-goblin, Baeglin.....hmmm, no-one there...OW!!!!"

Panthers see... another panther, or maybe a hyena. All the targets fill in their own blanks if they feel the need. What´s important is their overwhelming desire to keep looking over their shoulder and not giving the guy with the necklace their complete and undivided attention. ('Cos that's when the guy behind them will strike.)

@ Tarren Dei: Yes they did, and they all had a giggle. I was outside checking comments on my phone and yelled "ARG!!" Then I couldn't get a good enough connection to post an edit, and discovered it was an hour and ten minutes since I'd posted or something. I basically ran back into school, fired off a post in the Website forum in a panic, reread the rules, decided it was probably okay, stewed for a while, decided it would be okay to delete the panic thread but ... it was too late for that too. All in a tizzy for hours, man!
The kids thought it was hilarious, and reading it was good for their English.

@Patrick Walsh: Would you mind saying what you don't like about the writing= It's a fine line between sounding cool while being precise, and sounding melodramatic and it basically ending up pompous and windbaggy! Or was it unclear in another way? Did it just not 'work' for you? Any tips gratefully mulled over.

@taig: I can't believe it's never been done before either! I kept thinking a judge would say it was a perfect word-for-word copy of an item from "5 Unevolved Rings of Legendary Arcana" or something that I´d flicked through in a shop 5 years ago then recalled perfectly in a dream! Luckily it was ... new! Wow.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4

I like your item, and but not as much as every rogue in the world likes your item. Your concept is right on, but I think could have been more clear on the flavor text. It seems a lot of people didn't get the idea that the illusion was phyical and not a mental image. I'm right there with Clark on wondering why no one has come up with something like this before. Congratulations on being the one to reveal this greatly over looked staple item! Good look with your monster!

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka carborundum

I see what you mean about not being clear!
What I meant to say was that a magical, shiny, twinkling, hypnotic pattern physically appears in the amulet. The target sees it and gets a save; fail and they fall prey to the charm. Once hooked, they convince themselves they are flanked and act accordingly. By acting like they're flanked, the amulet wearer gets to treat them as flanked. There is no physical illusion of a flanker, just the physical appearance of the shiny, captivating lights.

Was that what you thought? <twitches nervously and crosses fingers>

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