Seer's Soap


Open Call: Design a wondrous item

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RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9 aka Matt Duval

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Seer's Soap
Aura faint divination; CL 5th
Slot -; Price 3500 gp; Weight 2 lbs.
Description
This smooth bar of amber soap has a remarkable clarity. When scrubbed on a non-magical, inanimate surface, that surface becomes transparent, with an iridescent sheen and sudsy around the edges, allowing observers to see through to the other side. When applied with a circular motion, the surface can only be seen through from the side of the person scrubbing. When applied with an up and down motion, both sides can be seen through. The effect lasts for one hour. If the surface is more than 10 feet thick, the effect fails.

A new bar of soap can affect up to 25 square feet of surface before it is expended. It can be applied in smaller amounts, to a minimum of 1 square foot per use. It requires a move action for each square foot affected.

Spending a full round action scrubbing with a wet cloth or brush dispels the effect on one square foot of surface. Spells with the water descriptor instantly dispel the effect on any part of the surface they contact. If both sides of a surface were made transparent by scrubbing the soap up and down, both sides are dispelled if either side would be dispelled.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, clairaudience/clairvoyance; Cost 1750 gp

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

As everyone knows by now, the "chalk door item" and the "make a window item" are pretty much universally loathed for a number of good reasons. Plus, this item is basically just a spell in a can, but like Wolf said about the gorget of whispers it is one heck of a can. I should say no since it is a spell in a can, but this may well be the exception that proves the rule, the one that can break the rule and still prevail. This is the right way to do the door/window item--take it as far away as the chalk/Pan's Labyrinth cliche as you can. And make the mechanics fun. I love the circular vs. up and down. Swing for the fences. Good work.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

We've seen "magic window" items before.

I like that this one is affected by water.

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

This is a fun item and encourages creative play, and its got some exploration utility. And the writeup shows some good choices for physical description and limitations.

But yes, we've seen similar items before. Every year, I suspect. What makes this one a more entertaining design is its inclusion of the soap/water aspect.

I'd say let's keep it. It's more than a story item, but the designer would need to really step into new territory next round.

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

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Welcome to the Top 32, Matt!

Here is another item that proves to be an exception to Sean's "rules." As a GM, I'd be reticent to give this item to the party and allow them to thwart what I have hidden behind doors, and it has 625 uses—assuming the party keeps to the one-square-foot "porthole" per use. Still, this item has a terrific descriptive feel to it, and that helps immensely. Additionally, you've built in a way to counter the soap's benefits, so that would help me greatly as a GM.

I look forward to seeing your archetype. Best of luck in future rounds!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4

First of all, congratulations on making the Top 32! That in itself is a major accomplishment and it’s something you should take great pride in. You rock!

Hmmm. A magic window item that is a blatant spell-in-a-can? While your seer's soap is not my cup of tea, I have to admit the whole water-dispelling effect is pretty clever. So is the wax-on/wax-off way in which you apply the soap. Your soap resonated with the voters, so hat's off to you for designing an item that overcomes one of Sean's don't-dos. Well played, sir! Best of luck to you in the archetype round!

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 4 , Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 9 aka MillerHero

Seeing through walls and doors is neat idea. That is why the Door Sight (Exploration Subdomain) ability and the Send Senses (Scryer School) ability exist. Doing it with soap is a nice touch.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4 aka OamuTheMonk

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This isn't an item that's big on new, groundbreaking, gonzo ideas. It does something useful, it's reasonably priced, it has interesting mechanical limitations.

The strength of the item in how evocative and whimsical it is, I think. It's an item that a retired adventurer has a block of in his shed, or arcane secret police carry, or is gifted to a fated protagonist by an eccentric fey relative.

It's useful not only for a player, but the ease of which a GM could fit it into a campaign, and perhaps tie a storyline to it. Recommended.


Congratulations for being chosen.

I must admit that this item completely didn't capture my heart. I voted much more often against it than for it. While I was in general not enamored by magic window type items there was at least one I porefered to this.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka theheadkase

I think what eventually put this in the keep pile for me was the fact that in spite of it not breaking ground it was just so well thought out and the interaction with water.

I voted it down a few times at first, but then as I saw it more and more it grew on me.

I would tone down the number of uses though. Like was said before, 625 portholes to spot my traps (or my non-traps) could be frustrating. It would almost never be given to a party as a full bar in my games.

But well done and congrats!

Star Voter Season 6

Neat stuff. Potentially useful in lots of situations, but the consumable nature of the item wouldn't unbalance a game. Best part: the theme that it's soap and that the soap is used to "scrub away" the visual that's actually there to see what's beyond. (And the option of making it one-way or two-way is a cool touch.)

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6 aka Transylvanian Tadpole

There seemed to be a lot of 'chalk door' style items whilst voting, but this one stood out. The notion of creating a window by vigorously cleaning a surface creates a great image. It's the kind of item you'd expect a halfling to have in its pouches.

Star Voter Season 6

I came across this item a couple times, and I have to say I think I only voted for it once. I don't like items that become 'must have' for adventurers and this is what the soap struck me as. With the soap, a party will know what's on the otherside of every door. With hundreds of uses per bar of soap, it's more than worth it's cost and I can't really see any party not wanting this item.

Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7

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Yeah, have to admit I was not impressed by this one. Useful, but not "whoa", especially compared to some of the other items that didn't make it.


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Where are people getting the 625 uses idea?

Quote:
A new bar of soap can affect up to 25 square feet of surface before it is expended. It can be applied in smaller amounts, to a minimum of 1 square foot per use.

Thus only 25 uses maximum, correct?


Anyway, I think there's a design tradeoff here that prevents you from pleasing everyone with this item. As is, it's a charming take on a simple idea, but I personally would have traded off some simplicity in favor of 'oomph'; perhaps allowing the player to expend an entire bar of soap to scrub completely through a surface.

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

I don't think I ever voted for this item. There were several see-through-wall items, and to be fair they all suffered from seeing the effect so often. Plus I just don't like the effect, it reduces risk for the players without adding a lot of fun in return.

Having said that, the imagery of this one was fun.

Dedicated Voter Season 6

Not much I can chime in with other than what was already mentioned. The item had a lot of charm for me, and I liked it better than a couple of similar items I saw. I can see the potential for abuse, but I'm a fan of the simple and utilitarian items.

Kudos and can't wait to see what you bring to the next round!

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Champion Voter Season 6, Champion Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Champion Voter Season 9

I wasn't a big fan of this item, but it got alot of votes from me. There were dozens this year that did nearly the exact same thing and I am sure the other years had them as well, but yours was by far the best of the lot. What made this item different was that it could change the directionality of viewing and it could be washed off to end the effect earlier if needed.

Champion Voter Season 6

Congratulations looking forward to your archetype.

I though this was way under priced with a standard scroll of clairvoyance at 375 GP and lasting for 5 minutes and extended as a 4th level spell for 10 minutes at 700 GP and a standard potion at double the price.

The soap will "normally" be prorated and used 25 times with a 1 CF Window for up to an hour in play each time.

I liked the concept but voted it down about half the time because it is mechanically game breaking for it's price and effects for a disposable when a single shot is comparably priced and less effective for 5 minutes at 750 GP or 1,400 GP for 10 minutes. IMO the soap has much more utility in most campaigns checking for monsters inside a room or outside a room with the option to use it more frequently.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9 aka Matt Duval

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Thank you for the kind praise. I'm just awed at having made it into the next round. I've been hoping for this for so long now :)

In answer to what seems a common concern, it was definitely intended to only be 25 uses at most, and 1 sq ft through a thick wall does not provide much peripheral view of a room, so if you use it, I would suggest restricting how much of a room the players can see.

I have to admit my favorite application from design was using it to create a window to signal someone outside from a room no one would think to guard. I like the idea of infiltrating as a janitor or scullery maid. :)

Thank you again for commenting, especially any concerns. It's great to know how it's unclear or too strong/weak.

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

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Haha, it borders on joke-item territory, but I think it has some real uses. Overall, I like it!

But one question: What happens when you wash yourself with it? :p

Okay. I know the answer to that, but actually, you could totally make your weapons and other objects invisible or only semi-visible with this, if you follow it RAW. Might be fun!

Star Voter Season 6

I liked this item and voted for it, although I didn't guess it would make Superstar since it's soap. :)

Matthew, I think it's clearly worded enough to indicate a maximum of 25 uses. I think taig just read it too quickly or perhaps temporarily forgot how square feet work (even Superstars aren't infallible :) and then other posters just commented on his 625 uses remark without checking the math for themselves.

I like the soap and water theme of your item's mechanics. I like the different methods of application for different effects. I like how the name is simple, yet evocative, memorable, and clear. I also want a bar of this in my adventuring pack. :)

... and Hodge Podge's idea about using it on your own non-magical armor is interesting indeed! Definitely a gray area in the rules, but with some DM judgement, it could be fun!

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Locke1520

I liked this one and voted for it. While it was a spell in a can it had character. Congrats and welcome to the ranks of the top 32. lookin forward to what you bring to round 2.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Demiurge 1138

Not often you see magical soap. It was also my favorite of the "magic window" items I saw this year.

Congratulations on making it to the Top 32! I'll see you in the archetype round!

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

This reads like a great implementation of the start-with-an-item school of Wondrous Item design. The theme is great and the description works right away. It's a SIAC but more flexible than the spell it's based on.

I would've liked a drawback--perhaps a temporary penalty after use on anything involving grip--but the solid writing and novel, well-explained design have me excited to see your archetype.

Shadow Lodge Marathon Voter Season 6

This is one of only three items I didn't get to see during voting that made top 32. While familiar, I think it is in a good way, similar to the Candle of Distant Assurance. It's something I could just imagine in a fantasy world; so very well done. I look forward to seeing your development across the competition.

Best Regards
Herremann the Wise

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

Prizrak wrote:

Where are people getting the 625 uses idea?

Quote:
A new bar of soap can affect up to 25 square feet of surface before it is expended. It can be applied in smaller amounts, to a minimum of 1 square foot per use.

Thus only 25 uses maximum, correct?


Anyway, I think there's a design tradeoff here that prevents you from pleasing everyone with this item. As is, it's a charming take on a simple idea, but I personally would have traded off some simplicity in favor of 'oomph'; perhaps allowing the player to expend an entire bar of soap to scrub completely through a surface.

I guessed that he was going for 25 uses, but mathematically it works out to 625 uses. If you broke up a 25-square-foot sheet of paper into a series of 1-foot-square grids, you'd have 25x25 (625) grids.

Again, I know that is not what he was going for, but I know plenty of players who would exploit the "as written" description.

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

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Lady Firedove wrote:

I liked this item and voted for it, although I didn't guess it would make Superstar since it's soap. :)

Matthew, I think it's clearly worded enough to indicate a maximum of 25 uses. I think taig just read it too quickly or perhaps temporarily forgot how square feet work (even Superstars aren't infallible :) and then other posters just commented on his 625 uses remark without checking the math for themselves.

I like the soap and water theme of your item's mechanics. I like the different methods of application for different effects. I like how the name is simple, yet evocative, memorable, and clear. I also want a bar of this in my adventuring pack. :)

... and Hodge Podge's idea about using it on your own non-magical armor is interesting indeed! Definitely a gray area in the rules, but with some DM judgement, it could be fun!

Trust me, I questioned myself several times before I made that comment. I didn't want to be pedantic and wrong. :P

Edit: Oops, looks I was both. Embarrassed badger is embarrassed.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Morphemic

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Mike Welham wrote:


I guessed that he was going for 25 uses, but mathematically it works out to 625 uses. If you broke up a 25-square-foot sheet of paper into a series of 1-foot-square grids, you'd have 25x25 (625) grids.

Again, I know that is not what he was going for, but I know plenty of players who would exploit the "as written" description.

With all respect due to last year's champion, I have to say that if I used your definition of square feet, my 945 square-foot apartment would be a royal palace. 25 square feet does not mean a square 25 feet on a side.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka theheadkase

That's what we are getting at Mark, just something for the author to be aware of as a designer. Specifically saying 25 applications is all a bar can do would have alleviated this issue. Of course we can tell what the intention was, but Superstar shouldn't need to rely on readers understanding that intention...it should be clear.

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

Mark Nordheim wrote:
Mike Welham wrote:


I guessed that he was going for 25 uses, but mathematically it works out to 625 uses. If you broke up a 25-square-foot sheet of paper into a series of 1-foot-square grids, you'd have 25x25 (625) grids.

Again, I know that is not what he was going for, but I know plenty of players who would exploit the "as written" description.

With all respect due to last year's champion, I have to say that if I used your definition of square feet, my 945 square-foot apartment would be a royal palace. 25 square feet does not mean a square 25 feet on a side.

I see what you are getting at. I misread it. Mea culpa. :)

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

So...despite my misunderstanding of how square feet work, I still liked this item, especially since it provided a way to counteract it.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Morphemic

Mike Welham wrote:


I see what you are getting at. I misread it. Mea culpa. :)

By the way Mike, I apologize if my previous comment came off as snarky. I was in a bit of a hurry and I felt a sudden urge to defend a fellow contestant and set the record straight. I thought your entries last year were awesome.

I made the decision not to review all the other items partly to avoid slip-ups that would make me seem less than diplomatic and I think I already managed to cross my own line anyway.

Since I'm not posting reviews of the other items, I might as well say it here. They are a lot of really awesome ones out there. Some of them I voted for consistently. Others I didn't vote for, but after seeing them in the top 32, I've really come to understand what makes them awesome. And I would vote for almost all of them if I could go back!

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

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Mark Nordheim wrote:
Mike Welham wrote:


I see what you are getting at. I misread it. Mea culpa. :)

By the way Mike, I apologize if my previous comment came off as snarky. I was in a bit of a hurry and I felt a sudden urge to defend a fellow contestant and set the record straight. I thought your entries last year were awesome.

I made the decision not to review all the other items partly to avoid slip-ups that would make me seem less than diplomatic and I think I already managed to cross my own line anyway.

Since I'm not posting reviews of the other items, I might as well say it here. They are a lot of really awesome ones out there. Some of them I voted for consistently. Others I didn't vote for, but after seeing them in the top 32, I've really come to understand what makes them awesome. And I would vote for almost all of them if I could go back!

I didn't find your comment snarky. In fact, I got a chuckle out of it, and it helped clarify where my thinking had gone off the rails. :)

I really appreciate you defending a fellow contestant against a complaint based on a misunderstanding.


Matt,

Congratulations! The write-up for your item is clever and shows a lot of creative thought. While it didn't wow me during the voting, it was definitely a cut above many of the other magic doorway/window items. I understand why the judges went with the seer's soap (though my barbarian would still insist on just kicking in the door rather than wasting time washing the dungeon walls). Best of luck in the next round.

Editor, Jon Brazer Enterprises , Dedicated Voter Season 6

I'll echo other voters' concerns over magic window fatigue during pairings. I saw some other items quite similar to this one - some good and some not so much. This one isn't my favorite of them, but it's a solid submission. I also like that a spell with the water descriptor can negate the effect - water spells don't get enough love in this game!

Minor editing nitpick: If an item has no slot, you should denote that with an em-dash, not a hyphen. This is more difficult to do in the message board editor than in a word processor, but it can be accomplished with a copy-paste. See this thread for more advice on dashes.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka GM_Solspiral

Congrats, I actually dug this item for its prose and whimsy. Yes this is one of those ideas we get seen kicked around, but you pulled it out with a well written entry.

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

Richard Moore wrote:
Minor editing nitpick: If an item has no slot, you should denote that with an em-dash, not a hyphen. This is more difficult to do in the message board editor than in a word processor, but it can be accomplished with a copy-paste. See this thread for more advice on dashes.

I believe the style now is not to actually use a hyphen or an em-dash, but rather the word "none."

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka RainyDayNinja

In addition to what's already been said, I like the idea of a magical item that requires a little elbow grease to activate. Congrats!

Editor, Jon Brazer Enterprises , Dedicated Voter Season 6

Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
Richard Moore wrote:
Minor editing nitpick: If an item has no slot, you should denote that with an em-dash, not a hyphen. This is more difficult to do in the message board editor than in a word processor, but it can be accomplished with a copy-paste. See this thread for more advice on dashes.
I believe the style now is not to actually use a hyphen or an em-dash, but rather the word "none."

Yeah, I was actually just checking the PRD on this and I see it being done both ways on there. Still, the em-dash method is "less wrong" than the hyphen. =]

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9 aka Matt Duval

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I'm very happy the confusion over the uses was cleared up. I didn't realize the lack of clarity came from not labeling it 5x5.

Thank you very much for the notes about using em-dash or none for slotless items. I think I looked up dust of tracelessness or some such in the pfsrd and copied from there.

Regarding making your items invisible, that was partly why I added the visual component of 'iridescent sheen and sudsy around the edges'. So you could obscure features, but it would definitely not be invisible. I think that would increase the scope and power of the item a bit too much for the cost and you'd probably want invisibility in the construction requirements then.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8 aka Jiggy

Even as I surveyed the list of Top 32 items and saw the lack of my name, I saw that this one had made it in, and I smiled ear-to-ear.

Liberty's Edge

Mike Welham wrote:

Welcome to the Top 32, Matt!

Here is another item that proves to be an exception to Sean's "rules." As a GM, I'd be reticent to give this item to the party and allow them to thwart what I have hidden behind doors, and it has 625 uses—assuming the party keeps to the one-square-foot "porthole" per use. Still, this item has a terrific descriptive feel to it, and that helps immensely. Additionally, you've built in a way to counter the soap's benefits, so that would help me greatly as a GM.

I look forward to seeing your archetype. Best of luck in future rounds!

I think you misread the usage allowance, each bar is only 25 square feet.

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

John Kelbaugh wrote:
Mike Welham wrote:

Welcome to the Top 32, Matt!

Here is another item that proves to be an exception to Sean's "rules." As a GM, I'd be reticent to give this item to the party and allow them to thwart what I have hidden behind doors, and it has 625 uses—assuming the party keeps to the one-square-foot "porthole" per use. Still, this item has a terrific descriptive feel to it, and that helps immensely. Additionally, you've built in a way to counter the soap's benefits, so that would help me greatly as a GM.

I look forward to seeing your archetype. Best of luck in future rounds!

I think you misread the usage allowance, each bar is only 25 square feet.

I most certainly did! :)


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I think it should be at least a full-round action to use. Door Sight takes a full minute, and this obsoletes that subdomain. Don't really like an item you can take in place of an entire subdomain, as far as that goes.

Maybe it's just that I have a cleric with Door Sight and she's only gotten to use the ability once in 5 levels, but I hate to see her domain choice be rendered even less useful. :P


I really like this item but I agree with Joana's assessment of the time required to scrub a 1 sq. ft. area, especially if it's just a dry block of soap. People, I want you to go to the bathroom and pull out a new bar of soap and then colour in a square on the bathroom wall. Takes a bit longer than 2 seconds right (I split my 6 second rounds into ~4 seconds for a standard and ~2 seconds for a move action).
My only other gripe is it's nearly 1kg weight. 2lbs is one heck of a large bar of soap, even for a filthy seer. ;)

I do like the 10ft limitation on wall thickness, though 5 is probably enough for most uses (think of a very short person lying down, there's ya 5ft thickness) as it probably stops you from looking through the walls of a keep but let's you look through most internal walls.

Congratulations, I'm looking forward to seeing your next entry.

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