Wondrous Item auto-reject advice #15: Item is unclear on how often it is useable

RPG Superstar™ 2011 General Discussion


(Last year I compiled a list of things that would instantly disqualify your item. I'm going to post them one by one as we approach Round 1 of this year's contest.)

15. Your item doesn't clearly explain how often it can be used, such as "constant," "at will," "once per day," "10 charges," and so on.

This seems like a no-brainer, but we had to reject several items last year because you had no way of knowing how often the item could be used. Do the gauntlets of black flame let you shoot flames once every round? Once for each of your attacks per round? Or just three times per day? Or are they a charged item? Or are they constantly aflame? Without that information, we have no idea what the Cost of the item should be... and a GM introducing the item doesn't know how often it's supposed to be used.

Reread your item before you submit it, and see if some crazed powergamer can interpret is uses-per-day as something other than your intent... which can easily happen if you don't actually state how often it can be used. It's a simple mistake that'll get your item rejected.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

My two-cents...


This type of problem is going to set apart those who understand (and have an appreciation for) the rules vs. those who might be strong on ideas and flavor, but just don't quite have enough of a grasp of the mechanics yet. Establishing how often your item can be used (i.e., continuous, at will, X times per day, etc.) will immediately have an impact on how you should price it. The table for wondrous item pricing has very clear indicators for it.

In addition, how often and how long your wondrous item operates serves as a good sanity check...i.e., the "art" part of wondrous item pricing. That's because if the same effect can be obtained just as easily with a wand, potion, or scroll, it calls into question whether anyone would ever spend money on your item...either to buy or create it. So, look into both of these "time" factors as you assess your wondrous item idea. Don't skimp on mechanics just to gorge yourself on flavor. A Superstar designer needs to be good at both, and preferably excellent at one or the other, as well.


Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Neil Spicer wrote:

My two-cents...

** spoiler omitted **

I haven't been able to keep up with Neil, but I still want to add my brief advice here and there. It's a spin-off from Neil's advice.

A Superstar Item is like fire.

Fire requires three components:
1.) Heat
2.) Oxygen
3.) Fuel.

Without those three you have no fire.

A Superstar Item requires:
1.) Sound Mechanics (like the number of uses, the topic of this thread)
2.) Great flavor (but not background!)
3.) It can be clearly understood.

Without those three you have no fire.

Please Include The Manual. Got it.

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