Boots of the Phantom Staircase

Open Call: Design a wondrous item

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

Boots of the Phantom Staircase
Aura moderate transmutation; CL 10th
Slot feet; Price 18,000 gp; Weight 1 lb.

These boots look well made and well worn. On command, the wearer's footsteps leave a trail of stepping stones that float in midair. This functions as a lily pad stride spell, except it creates stones that float on air instead of plants that float on water, allowing the wearer and those that successfully follow to walk through the air at an angle of up to 45 degrees. The wearer can use this effect for up to 10 minutes per day. This duration need not be continuous, but it must be used in increments of 1 minute. Any stepping stone moved from its original location vanishes immediately.

Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, communal air walk, lily pad stride; Cost 9,000 gp.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Hmmmm. Okay. This one reminds me a bit of the seven thousand blossoms from RPGSS 2010. It's a variation of both spells from the construction requirements. The communal air walk lets a bunch of creatures that are touched collectively air walk for a limited duration. And, the lily pad stride is what normally creates plants under your steps that can support your weight as you cross some kind of liquid. They don't stick around, though. So, these boots are trying to create an aerial equivalent of that spell, which others can then follow. The path is entirely dependent on the wearer's footsteps, however.

I can see the utility. Part of me is left wondering if the wearer shouldn't have some kind of control over the stepping stones if he wishes to prevent an enemy from following after him. I'm not all that crazy about the name. These boots may or may not have anything to do with a staircase, as the stones could all remain at the same elevation in relation to each other. But, on the whole, I kind of like this one. It's making use of new spells in an interesting/combined way. It's not overkill. It's got immediate use potential. And you can easily envision the effects in actual play. I'm also heartened by the exceptional attention to detail on using the provided template.

Neat idea. Decent innovation (even if a bit SIAC-ish). Perfect presentation. Could be a designer worth seeing in future rounds.

Vote to Keep.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

I really like this. Its a "hey, why dont we have this" kind of item. I think we don't have one now because most people who have taken a stab at this kind of item do it poorly. Yours, on the other hand, does this concept really well. To crib from Pope, true design is that which is often thought but never so well expressed. This type of item has come up hundreds of times and just not been done this well before. Nice work.

Sure, it has some problems. The one thing I dont like is "those who successfully follow". I dont know what that means. But still...


I want to see what this guy's got.

We're going to have players constantly moving up and down and over opponents. You lead a charge, up and over the defenders and right on top of the foozle. Everyone in your party follows. Unless the defenders have ranged attacks, they're neutered.

Casters and archers will get up in the air over the melee and avoid attacks of opportunity. They'll love that and in the past the judges have rejected many items that enable them to do so.

Oh, and the tail end charlie kicks the stone he's leaving out of position so nobody can follow.

I recommend that you do not vote for this designer.


There's nothing you can do here that you can't already do with fly or air walk. In fact, it's just communal air walk with an added limitation that everyone has to follow the leader if they want to keep walking in the air.

It also doesn't address what it takes to move a stone. Obviously it can support the weight of a 200 lb fighter, but does that mean said fighter can't push it sideways? Can these stones block LOS or vision by walking back and forth in a line? Can you tie ropes to them? Can you jump or climb onto the stones more than 1 round after the leader moves and continue to follow, or do you have to follow them right after?

I don't think the designer thought this one through. So...


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

What I like:
Well, the first thing that comes to mind that I like about it is that it's similar to an item I had in my idea folder last year & never got around to writing up for submission. Ultimately I couldn't make the idea work well enough to be interesting; you did, so kudos.
What I love:
I love the fact that you didn't just sit back and create air walk boots; you took an existing (and somewhat obscure) spell and adapted it to be quite cool for the situation. The floating stepping stones are a neat visual, and the fact that they're useful for the whole party and not just the wearer is quite nice. And while that communal effect could have gone overboard and made this an items that's too useful, I honestly think the limitations on minutes per day keeps it well under wraps.
What needs a little sumptin' sumptin'...
I honestly have few if any nitpicks here; but since you managed to pull this off with a lot of words left over, I think maybe you could have used some of that spare wordage to cover some situational possibilities that could arise (like SKR's questions of how you can dislodge a stone or how much weight they could hold) but that's really all I have to go with from the 'negative' side of the review.
All in all...
Very nice. Simple, but quite awesome. I'd want this as a player, I'd have very few problems handing this out as a GM. Seems like a fun item, and I'm looking forward to seeing what else you have up your sleeve for the rest of the contest. Congratulations and welcome to RPG Superstar!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 4 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Jatori

Welcome to the Top 32!

You've combined two spells to give us an effect somewhat greater than the simple combination of the separate spell effects. Sadly, you left us with a number of unanswered questions. You only used 139 words, so you had plenty of space to expand upon the item, making it a bit more than a limited communal air walk.

I do like that you tried to combine different spells. I'm a fan of spell combos in play (especially when two spellcasters work together), so I'm left wondering what other combos you might have hidden up your sleeves.

Two of the judges rejected your entry, but you still made it through. Don't let this opportunity go to waste. Show us a Superstar organisation in round 2. Good luck.

RPG Superstar 2011 aka Ignotus

Cool imagery, good writing, and fairly precise rules, but most of the time this will simply be used as a variant Boots of Levitation; as such it feels like kind of a spell-in-a-can. It's a testament to the power of your concept (the phantom staircase) that the judges were willing to overlook that this is basically just another pair of magic boots that get you off the ground. For the next rounds, take the time to find the germ of a something genuinely new and different to what's already available in Pathfinder - if you can find a creative, original seed, you obviously have the skills to flesh out both the concept and the mechanics in awesome ways.


Love the item, but the description leaves me cold. Okay, part of that is the editor in me... the phrase "allowing the wearer and those that successfully follow" should be "and those who successfully follow"... Nit pick, I know, but hey...

Good item! Congratulations!

Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Congrats, Eric!

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8


Neil Spicer wrote:
Neat idea. Decent innovation (even if a bit SIAC-ish). Perfect presentation. Could be a designer worth seeing in future rounds.
I want to see what this guy's got.

I can't wait to see Epic Meepo in third round!

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

Congratulations on your second go-round! Pity there aren't any archetypes this year, because some of the ones you've been cooking up are awesome, but you've also got your monster bases covered as far as off-season training, so, should be interesting.
And it's nice to see the annual proprietor of the 'top 32 clubhouse' getting to enjoy his own establishment again. :-)

Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Congratulations Eric and welcome back. The flavor is certainly in this one and speaks to your writing. Nice job, I hope you far. :)

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6 aka Evil Paul

I think this is a pretty cool item, it has that iconic feel to it, is cinematic and to the point in what it does. As Ryan says, it could cause problems in combat. As a DM I think I would worry a bit if one of my players bought this as I'd have to make up a whole bunch of house rules to cover the items that he and Sean R. talk about.

Perhaps if it produced only horizontal stones it would be easier to manage in that fashion, and less SIAC-like (price and name would need changing). It would still be useful for navigating all sorts of terrain, and still have that iconic spell thematic.

I like it either way. I think people that like the Immovable Rod would like this.

Sovereign Court

I like them, but they are too expensive.

Compare them to Winged Boots (which incidently, I also think are a bit steep), they fall short.

Winged boots, flying 16.000, true fly 5 min. per day.
Boots of the Phantom Staircase 18.000, semifly, for 10 x 1 min. per day, though enimies can follow.

Would price them around 10.000 at the most, probably less.

But vote to keep it, like it.

Eric Morton wrote:

Boots of the Phantom Staircase

Aura moderate transmutation; CL 10th
Slot feet; Price 18,000 gp; Weight 1 lb.

These boots look well made and well worn. On command, the wearer's footsteps leave a trail of stepping stones that float in midair. This functions as a lily pad stride spell, except it creates stones that float on air instead of plants that float on water, allowing the wearer and those that successfully follow to walk through the air at an angle of up to 45 degrees. The wearer can use this effect for up to 10 minutes per day. This duration need not be continuous, but it must be used in increments of 1 minute. Any stepping stone moved from its original location vanishes immediately.

Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, communal air walk, lily pad stride; Cost 9,000 gp.


This post constitutes the views of a (very advanced) CE aligned succubus. Being such, Ask A RPGSupersuccubus is at complete liberty to change her mind on anything without giving any notice whatsoever. For those of you who missed last year (or as a reminder for those whose memories have failed) Ask A RPGSupersuccubus subscribes absolutely to balance, fairness is a term applicable to assessing either hair colour or more general beauteousness, and logic in these reviews – in the sense that balance is what a couple of mortals on opposite ends of a plank pivoted on a rocky spire above a drop of several hundred feet into a pool of molten basalt frantically try to do, fairness is a term used to assess hair coloration and logic is something which proves anything a demon of adequate status and charm requires it to demonstrate.

Ask A RPGSupersuccubus acknowledges the efforts of the ready supply of willing victims on the ‘Nine Blazing Months’ items thread, who inadvertently contributed to the development of weapons-grade questions for use in this round.

Fair is foul and foul is fair supposedly (trust a mortal to make up a piece of complete mumbo-jumbo – it is of course generally impossible to get anything much fairer in any context which actually matters than a succubus). Basically, though, does this item have any useful application in a spa?
The problem is that they look 'well worn' which in most circumstances in such a social setting is going to reflect badly on the wearer (or owner of the wearer in the case of a minion of some kind). Thus no.

Assuming for a moment that it’s more convenient to pay taxes than to circumvent the system, does this item look likely to be a tax-deductible business expense for a succubus art-dealer?
Arguably so in businesses based in places such as the elemental plane of air, where hirelings or retainers unable to manoeuvre through the environment outside the immediate vicinity of a shop may be seriously disadvantaged. But then again, these things aren't cheap enough to justify the expenditure for a business which employs anything less than half a dozen minions who need to get around in a group.

Is the item useful in a strawberries-and-cream-tea context?
The effect doesn't endure long enough for most purposes, so no.

Other Comments?
Further description of the apparent nature of the stepping stones would have been handy. It makes a big difference to how the item looks when it's functioning if the 'stepping stones' are boring blocks of grey mudstone as compared to, say, large red waxed wheels of Egorian 'Imperial Blue' cheese.

Gollum Rating:
Ratings of items are prosaic and unfashionably conventional this year. Although rules are there to be broken (so long as they do not involve the dread lord, Orcus) as a general rule no items will thus be rated this year.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

I'm not terribly wowed by this, but it is a cinematic effect. Escape off a cliff, but keep moving by making your own way down. Amuse your friends, confound your enemies, create vanishing rocks!

I also do agree, you kinda need to add some more restrictions on the rocks, because they vanish if moved. Lily pad stride only vanishes outside of the spell range. A little more explanation would have gone a long way here.

Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

When I read this item's name, I had two thoughts. First, I hoped it would allow me to conjure a phantom staircase. Second, I wondered why this hadn't been done before.

Therefore, I really dig this as a concept - and I love its simple naming.

However, upon reading the description, I was actually a little bit disappointed. I think it would have been much zanier if the user could only move at an angle: e.g. 25 to 45 degrees. As it is, the name - and therefore the concept - seems a little deceptive.

Still, best of luck for the next round!

Scarab Sages

So, first off, I love the name of this item because (like a lot of the good items on here I'm finding) it really projects an immediate image in my mind of the item in use. It's very successful title and harkens to those suspenseful moments of long winding staircases in castles you find in fairy tale cinematics and the such.

That having been said, I really like the concept, but I do feel like there are a few kinks to work out on its functionality.

Ryan Dancey is right about the incredible advantages it would create for certain combatant types during encounters and its ability to grant maybe a little too much help to a party (allowing them a chance to circumvent obstacles in a way a GM might find original, but frustrating). To limit its use within a combat sequence, my suggestion would be to play even more distinctly off of that 'suspenseful stairway' from which it is derived.

Make the stepping stones appear within a timeframe that hampers movement (as an example, my character can move 30ft in a round but only 15ft worth of steps actually appear during the round). Adding a duration for how long the steps last after they have been stepped upon could be a good move (no pun intended) and I would probably change "those that successfully follow [the wearer]" to "those that successively follow [the wearer]" and intimate that stones left in the wearer's wake begin the process of dematerializing if another player (or NPC) doesn't immediately step on the stone after the wearer moves forward. Since it is a staircase, I am also in favor of the steps always either moving up at a 45 degree angle or down, but never directly horizontal. And, with those limitations, I would actually be okay with losing the 10 minute per day clause... maybe, I think I would be at any rate, lol.

I know those are a lot of extra clarifications to add to the item, but I think what it does is take the item and put it in a position that it can be very useful outside of combat and in situations where time is plentiful, but less effective during combat-driven or time-sensitive scenes.

The only remaining detail I can think of is Sean Reynolds observation about how much force those stones can take b/c, to be up front with you, my immediate plan as a PC against a foe wearing these is to the let the GM get them good and high and then ask "So, mage hand?" :D

I realize I've said alot, but don't fret that doesn't reflect on my opinion of the idea. The good news is the only reason I have so much to say on it is b/c I truly like the concept and feel like you've hit on something with tremendous potential! Great job on the item and congrats on getting into the final 32! I look forward to seeing where your phantasmal staircase takes us :D

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

I think this item's strengths are in the unique visual effects.

The slightly frustrating thing is that it's not doing much more than that. Its visually cool communal airwalk And your entry looks about 139 words, which means you could have covered some of the holes that Sean pointed out, or given us some cool new applications besides the obvious.

Beyond that I'm not going to belabor everything that everybody else is going to say.


You're back in the game. Congratulations. Don't sweat the critiques, including mine. Take the feedback and move forward. So-called "darkhorses" make it to the final rounds all the time and they grow up to be freelancers. I KNOW THIS TO BE TRUE!

The only rounds that are important are the next round and the last round.

I look forward to your creative organization!

Dedicated Voter Season 8

Congratulations on making the top 32. I can see I won't make all item in a thorough reviewing before the Tuesday reveal, let alone before the deadline you guys have tonight. So I'll make sure to say good luck and give everyone at least a few words.

First impression: Multiple person air walk? Neat, but communal air walk does that. I don't quite see what more you item gives - I can see it takes some things away, and while limitations such as needing to step on stones and follow, are cool, the entire doing something that has pretty much been done before is not quite innovatiove enough for me.

Template: I've got nothing to remark on here, you seem to have fine attention to detail.

Name: It's allright, but it's not the kind of name to catch my attention. You could work on catching attention already with the name you give your item/other thing, making it as evocative and full of meaning as possible. That said, this is good name for the item.

Description: Others have mentioned that there are unclarities. Make sure to work those out in future rounds. Your visuals work for me.

Effect: This doesn't quite go out there and amaze me. You could probably win something from daring a little bit more on the new things side of this.

Best of luck with it.

Pretty cool. I think it needs a little more fleshing out as Sean said. How fast can you move with these? Do we have to do the trig to find out how far you're actually moving forward if you're moving at a 45 degree angle and dammit now I need a 3d battle board! I also think they should eventually fade (but maybe the lily pad spell does that?) and you should be able to turn them off.

Good luck.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8

I can think of several neat uses for something like this, and I agree that it has a fun visual going for it.

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka OwlbearRepublic

I like this item conceptually. Limitations are a great way to take an existing mechanic and make it new again, particularly in the case of wondrous items, where an ability that's ho-hum for higher level adventurers can become really intriguing (when properly constrained) for lower-level play. I can imagine these boots being a valuable tool for a whole party of adventurers too low-level to pull out flight whenever they want it. Perhaps more importantly, I can imagine this item breathing life into encounters, making them deeper tactically and forcing the hard decisions upon which the game thrives.

My only concern is the one Ryan raises; this might be an item that permits the party to ace otherwise level-appropriate encounters. It's really only a concern at the very lowest levels where a party might pitch in to buy this item: 5th or 6th level, say, when not all encounters threaten flying PCs. A smart group could buy a pair of these to circumvent a whole lot of melee combats at that level. Personally, I'd alter the effect somehow to make the steps less attractive as combat platforms. That's the only usage that's potentially abuse, and it's not a necessary one to make the item worthwhile. I might also jack the price up to 20k to achieve parity with the 5x5 flying carpet, a very different approach to mobility that grants unlimited flight to one party member instead of highly-limited air walk to the whole group. Putting the same price on both items would encourage players to compare and contrast them (and would put the item virtually out of reach of a 5th level party, which would be a good thing).

I love the way this item weaves together flavor, concept and mechanics to create something that feels like a single, organic creation. Good work and good luck!

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 8

Simple mechanic, efficient presentation and cinematic imagery (which is always a winner with me). That's all been said already

The idea that this allows PCs to circumvent some encounters, while true, is not a problem for me. Ryan's example of a party charging up and over the bad guy's front line sounds like great fun to me. If I were GMing a group with this item, I'd allow them opportunities to do that for the sheer excitement of that crazy charge.

If the GM doesn't want this to happen every time though, it's easily overcome. Low ceilings in dungeons, flying monsters, bad guys that lead from the front. There are plenty of ways to avoid allowing this to become the dominant tactic without it seeming like you're nerfing the item.

Good job!

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

Congratulations on making it to the top 32 again, Eric!

This is a very tightly designed item, and it has a cool visual flair to it. I also think you did a great job with your interpretation of lily pad stride to make it work for this item.

Good luck in the next round!

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 8 aka Ottovar

I really like the utility of this item... Congrats Eric

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka motteditor

Eric, you've got some good visuals here that for some reason remind me a lot of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." It feels like something that could come up in an Eastern style campaign especially, though certainly wouldn't be out of place in a more traditional medieval one either.

Like others, I'd have liked some more details on moving the stones, but I'm less concerned about those worried about them being used as combat platforms. My impression is they're not that big and I'd probably demand Acrobatics checks from anyone who wanted to try to fight from them.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 8 aka artofcheatery

I want to like this item, but I don't want my characters to be able to get around any easier than they already can. Also 45 degrees is a steep stair to climb.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Pretty cool getting around item, but somehow just doesn’t really grab me. Maybe because of the seven thousand blossoms from RPGSS 2010. The only characters I can immediately see getting these boots are the characters who have to have everything—which admittedly is better than no one wanting them.

Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Ant Health Warning: this year, I really worked hard on technical execution of my item, so these reviews will likely reflect template use. Brace yourselves for the template fu - it can sting.

Template Use: 10/10

template fu settles comfortably for another snooze - well done.

Slot affinity: 8/10

I liked the affinity here, it all fits nicely.

One question I had, was whether there was a load bearing limit to the stones - imaging if you will that big old heavy golem barbarian steps on to one and its half-ton body makes it sink and then, pop, disappear. You also mentioned they disappear when moved but didn’t indicate how easy or hard it is to move them, e.g. would a gust of wind blow them easily sideways, can they be easily lifted, I guess downward movement as written is a no-no?

Abuseability: 8/10
I could see an invading army using these to get a line of soldiers to create makeshift ramps up or down cliffs, over rivers, etc. I think some sort of duration and/or load limit for the stones would solve this. We could otherwise end up with all sorts of floating staircases being left everywhere over time!

Desirability: 10/10
It's an elegantly simple item that would be a joy to have on your character sheet - I think this item is one of my "must have's" from this years crop - well done again.

Originality: 9/10
I liked it, I have that nagging feeling that I've seen something similar but can't remember where, so as you have done so well in the other scores, I'm just going to knock one point to cover that nagging feeling. Grin.

Ant Score: 45/50 (90%)

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Hodge Podge

Hey Eric, (belated) congrats! Just like with Dan (of the Smilo variety), it's great to see a familiar face in the top 32. You made it!

What I Like
Let me first point out that my dad told me he really likes your item, and he doesn't even play tabletop RPGs. As for me, I love the imagery and its teamwork aspects. The name is an attention-grabber as well.

Needs Improvement
It's pretty much all been said, but I'll quickly reiterate:

  • You had a lot of leftover words you could have wisely spent on describing the physical nature of the stones, i.e. how to dislodge them or avoid dislodging them.
  • While the flavor's neat, I feel like I've seen a few items with near-identical uses before (like the seven thousand blossoms from a previous year).

    How I Feel About You as an Opponent
    You're another really popular guy, and this item is pretty cool and solid. On top of that, everyone's really looking forward to your monster (myself included)! I wouldn't be surprised to see you still around in the last few rounds.

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