How I'm Voting


RPG Superstar™ General Discussion

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Scarab Sages Contributor , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Steven T. Helt

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Given two entries, I've adopted the following procedure. I'm interested in knowing how you are evaluating items.

A correctly formatted item gets a read before a poorly formatted one. This doesn't mean the poorly formatted one is screwed necessarily, but someone who can use the template correctly.

A big idea with flaws is better than a cleaner item that isn't original or just strikes me as bleh. A neat idea with so many flaws it shouldn't have been attempted is probably still screwed.

Thus far, I see a lot of bad items stacked against bad items. I'm trusting the system and voting even though I don't want to support really bad items. But sometimes, I cannot bring myself to put a vote next to either one.

Mediocre writing does not immediately kill the item in my view. Some things are just hard to express with beauty. Bad writing is a death knell.

A great cinematic item has an edge, but a poorly designed item that would look great in a movie has no such advantage.

If an item has a bunch of unnecessary fluff, I skip over until I get to some mechanics. If an item buries mechanics in its paragraph of backstory, I hold the item responsible for not keeping my attention.

Any other principles helping you get through a stack of items?

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7

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One of my early criteria is whether the writing shows an intuition for the rules, using the correct vocabulary and phrasing. Then I look at what the crunch actually is.

Mediocre fluff writing is not ideal, but salvageable, whereas poor crunch writing makes the item borderline incoherent.

I have had to give a depressing number of items a pass on template use because both items have so many formatting mistakes.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

I hold pretty much the same view. If an item seems cool and workable I'll vote for it. I'll leave the particulars of good writing versus bad writing versus good-enough writing to the judges in the final pick. I think they're more qualified for that. They're the ones who are going to have to work with the eventual winners anyway. I don't even pay much attention to the item and construction information.

Don't forget, you don't have to vote for either item if they are both bad.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

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Pretty similar thought process to yours, Steven.

- Can I understand, quickly and easily, what it is?

- Can I understand, quickly and easily, what it does?

- Is it awesome, can I visualise it, will it create memorable gaming moments for wide ranges of games?

- Does it break the game in some way, or seem very unbalanced, or only useable in a very narrow set of games, or only by NPCs?

- Is it grim, disgusting, or gross for no good reason? (personal pet peave)

After all of that, format is basically a tie-breaker. Haven't needed to look at pricing yet, but that would be another tie-breaker if it was clearly well outside the plausible range.


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I now understand the torture that the judges have gone through for the last 5 years. I would prefer seeing 3 items side by side. In the first 20 items I had a repeat item. I have not see my own item as of yet.

I think some people must throw their item together in 15 minutes. They don't really want to be in the contest obviously. I was showing my kids some of the things to look out for, and they immediately started picking up on errors.

I voted for a bad item over another bad item the first few times, but I'm done with that. I'm voting for good items now.

Scarab Sages Contributor , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Steven T. Helt

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I have viewed dozens of pairs and only saw one item I was pleased to vote for. And it was stacked against an awful item.

And I forgot to mention pricing. Pricing is an important part of design and balance, so I weight it more than others might. However, getting the price close or right on is not much help to an item. More commonly, an item that is grossly underpriced irritates me until I move the cursor away from that item. Just in case.

Star Voter Season 6

I've been voting for about 4 hours, was shown the same item 8 times versus worse and worse competition until I voted for it, hopefully it goes away now :)


Will Cooper wrote:

Pretty similar thought process to yours, Steven.

- Can I understand, quickly and easily, what it is?

- Can I understand, quickly and easily, what it does?

- Is it awesome, can I visualise it, will it create memorable gaming moments for wide ranges of games?

- Does it break the game in some way, or seem very unbalanced, or only useable in a very narrow set of games, or only by NPCs?

- Is it grim, disgusting, or gross for no good reason? (personal pet peave)

After all of that, format is basically a tie-breaker. Haven't needed to look at pricing yet, but that would be another tie-breaker if it was clearly well outside the plausible range.

All this except I don't mind grim or disgusting.

If the item makes me wonder what kind of mind altering drugs the writer was taking I will likely vote for the other item.

I also question whether or not I'd want this in my game.

Scarab Sages Contributor , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Steven T. Helt

I don't mind grim, gonzo, or the like so long as the item is compelling. If the items only has shock value and its edge isn't redeemed by actual writing, mechanics or presentation, I mutter something disparaging and move on.

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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While my hierarchy of criteria is something like IDEA > WRITING > FORMATTING, I actually notice those things in the opposite order.

1) Formatting. Just how bad is it? I can forgive no title in the body or un-italicized spells. In fact, that seems the norm so far, despite how often it's been mentioned. Is there NO bolding whatsoever? Is the body one massive block of text or is it spaced nicely and logically? Formatting may not be the most important thing to me, but it can sure make me not WANT to read the item, and I vote for badly formatted items with reluctance.

2) Writing. Are there any misspellings or incorrectly used words? Do I have to read parts repeatedly? Could something have been said in an obviously more concise or flavorful way? Does the way the person write give me the impression that he understands the rules and what to consider, and that he proofread the darned thing? Do I understand exactly what it is and how it works? Is the flavor so amazing that I don't care about the other flaws?

3) Idea. Is it a cool idea with a tight theme and unique effects, or just a bunch of +1's that are unrelated and all over the place? Does my character WANT this? Did the game NEED this? Do I get the impression that the person read the exhaustive resources available on this board and elsewhere and came up with something truly unique?

I think that a perfectly formatted and written, but just okay idea trumps a horribly formatted and written, but amazing idea. If both items lack a great idea and are not perfect in both other areas, I seriously consider not voting for either.


Steven T. Helt wrote:
I don't mind grim, gonzo, or the like so long as the item is compelling. If the items only has shock value and its edge isn't redeemed by actual writing, mechanics or presentation, I mutter something disparaging and move on.

I don't mind weird if it can make some kind of logical thematic sense.

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

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The first thing I consider is "Can I think of a character who would want this?". Too many times I can't come up with an answer, or I look at the price and wouldn't at the point you'd be getting the item.

Also, I've seen too many items that don't like the save DCs, which is starting to personally bug me....

Scarab Sages Contributor , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Steven T. Helt

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Is there some sort of flaw/intentional design that pairs similar items. I am seeing a lot of that. Two items with x special material (and not a common one) at the same time. Two of the same mundane item presented as different magic items. Two boots at the same time. This has happened several times. Is it intentional?

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

I'm suspecting we're going to get a very different initial top 32 than what we'd get if it were pure judge selection.

How different the final top 32 is depends on how loose the judges are about rejecting the voters's choices, but the list they're going to pick from probably won't be what they themselves would have selected. Which will make things interesting.


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I notice a great deal of items that are game breaking.
I notice a great deal of items that are class breaking.

Those I vote down, regardless.

After that - pricing bugs me, because effects which occur too cheap are almost the same as game breaking.

Subsequently I look for items that are useful.

Wrap it all up with formatting, and good writing.

Star Voter Season 6

Personally I'm not seeing a lot of items that are screaming OH MY GOD PICK ME!! I think I've only seen 2 maybe 3 of those items.

The first thing I look for though is does this item make sense or did I just read something and not find what it actually does (yes I have come across that more then once tonight) after that I try to think of where it might be useful and how often that particular item might be used. Finally I look at how an item made me feel. If I get the feeling that this is just another helm of x I won't vote for it. Honestly though a lot of these items that I'm seeing have caused me to vote for neither because they just plain don't inspire me.

Star Voter Season 6

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You'll just keep seeing them over and over until you pick them...

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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Also, I find myself voting for items with shorter descriptions that boast a single, simple mechanic which turns an existing rule on its head in a cool way. Or that enable something that the rules don't even address.

Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 8

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I find myself voting for "Neither" more often than I would want.

Formating is the first thing that comes to mind, than too much fluff, and finally complexity/usefulness.

A lot of what the judges posted come to mind: SAK, SIC, MIC, curse item...

I do vote for interesting ideas, even if badly executed.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

I'm basically judging the items by the same criteria I use (or try to use) for building my own items. Sexy name, cool visuals, easy to understand what it does, robust but fairly simple mechanics. Gods I hate items that are vague and incomplete in their mechanics. And I don't mean covering all corner cases but covering the basic stuff about how you use the item. Bad formatting is annoying, but I can ignore that if there are redeeming features.

I've seen many kind of ok and good items so far, but very few really great items.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan

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I've voted against some entries where the costing rules were just totally ignored. Like the item cost 10k, but for 9k you can make it yourself.

I've voted againstsome where I just couldn't figure what the heck the thing was trying to tell me.

I've voted against some because they felt the need to include their analysis breakdown of how they figured the cost of the item.

I've voted against some because they didn't include the item name, and other similar formatting problems (like "prized by" or historical text).

I've voted against a few for no other reason than I liked the other item more.

All of which makes me sad, because I've ended up voting against some good items, and for some bad ones, just because of the "pick the better item" philosophy.

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter Season 6

I am noticing that if I voted down an item and it comes up again, the item it is up against has to be really bad to not go over the previous loser.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

golgomark - please try not to 'vote neither'. It doesn't mean "I don't like either", it means "someone else can judge these". Sure, it works, but remember that it doesn't mean what so many people think it does.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka michaeljpatrick

I haven't voted any "neithers" yet. There is always something that makes one item better or worse than the other. So far I have done less than thirty pairs, so I am taking my sweet time.

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

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My method has become:

1)Template failure => advantage other item
2)Other item doesn't suck => item advances
3)Other item does suck => read template failure
4)Compare
5)Vote

Because
Superstars don't fail at using a given template.
Superstars create super items.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka michaeljpatrick

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I am automatically voting against "Walkie-talkies" - items that allow players to communicate over distance. Well, I was until I saw two of those items against one another...

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

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michaeljpatrick wrote:
I am automatically voting against "Walkie-talkies" - items that allow players to communicate over distance. Well, I was until I saw two of those items against one another...

I've seen them too and a fax machine as well.....

There is also one particular entry that just keeps coming back for more rejection (I almost auto-vote for the other item). It now has 7 votes against other sub-optimal entries. Quite sure that that particular item won't make top 32.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka michaeljpatrick

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The best is when I come across two interesting items with some minor flaws keeping them from being amazing. That is when I get to use my brain and make a decision!

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka mamaursula

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I have started coming up with my own method, similar in many ways to those noted above. All of my steps don't take very long and can be easily done with a quick scan of the first item on the page:

Formatting - if it's not formatted well, I read the other item first.

Naming - Does it have a "generic" magic item name or does one of the N/PC's names from the writer's game appear in the name? If an N/PC's name appears in the title, I read the other item first.

Description - Does the item contain a cute little story about how the writer's N/PC came up with this clever little item as the opening paragraph? I immediately go read the other item.

Spells necessary to create - Are there more than 3 spells necessary to create this item? I go read the other item.

Price - Is it more than 100k gp? I go read the other item.

Then I vote for the lesser offender. I have read a couple of items I really liked and wished I had maybe copied down so I could consider tuning them up for my own use, but all in all, I have a deeper respect for the Paizo judges.

Scarab Sages Contributor , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Steven T. Helt

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I am alsi wearing thin on SAK items that require four spells, two feats and "bearer must have played in one of my campaigns" to create.

I still 'vote neither' on occasion. I'm willing to vote for a bad item over an item that inarguably sucks, but sometimes two items are so bad that I want them to show up later so I can vote for something else. I promise to cast enough votes to gwt the trashy ones back.

Thus far, casting votes for items I think are terrible makes me very very nervous about my submitted item. If everyone who wrote these things is also voting, there are a lot of voters who maybe wouldn't know the difference between a good item and a bad one.

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

Steven T. Helt wrote:


Thus far, casting votes for items I think are terrible makes me very very nervous about my submitted item. If everyone who wrote these things is also voting, there are a lot of voters who maybe wouldn't know the difference between a good item and a bad one.

Trust the math, Steven. Trust the math.

Star Voter Season 6

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Steven T. Helt wrote:

I have viewed dozens of pairs and only saw one item I was pleased to vote for. And it was stacked against an awful item.

And I forgot to mention pricing. Pricing is an important part of design and balance, so I weight it more than others might. However, getting the price close or right on is not much help to an item. More commonly, an item that is grossly underpriced irritates me until I move the cursor away from that item. Just in case.

Please keep in mind how the judges approached pricing in previous years. One of them stated that they did not cut an item based on price. It was a minor issue that can be taught to the creator. They were looking for the 'mojo' in the items. Creativity cannot be taught.

Star Voter Season 6

Darkjoy wrote:
Steven T. Helt wrote:


Thus far, casting votes for items I think are terrible makes me very very nervous about my submitted item. If everyone who wrote these things is also voting, there are a lot of voters who maybe wouldn't know the difference between a good item and a bad one.

Trust the math, Steven. Trust the math.

I'm trusting in the judges. The math should set them up and hopefully they will go far enough down in the list to get the good stuff even if they do not see my item as one of the good stuff.

The more votes from multiple fans like ourselves, the more the numbers work. "Neither" is not helping as much as we might think. Maybe take time to review the FAQ and use the link provided for the method being used.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

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CouncilofFools wrote:
Please keep in mind how the judges approached pricing in previous years. One of them stated that they did not cut an item based on price. It was a minor issue that can be taught to the creator. They were looking for the 'mojo' in the items. Creativity cannot be taught.

I always liked how Clark phrased it in the RPG Superstar panel discussion. "You don't have to get the pricing right. Just don't get it wrong." What's "wrong" mean? Don't overshoot the wondrous item price list in the CRB. Don't create artifact-level items with ridiculous pricing. Make sure it compares favorably to other items at the same pricing level on the wondrous item list. As long as you stay within that range, it should be a non-factor as a voting consideration.

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

mamaursula wrote:

Naming - Does it have a "generic" magic item name or does one of the N/PC's names from the writer's game appear in the name? If an N/PC's name appears in the title, I read the other item first.

One of the areas people may want to be careful with in the future is if they're using a rare Golarion campaign item/creature in their item. I've looked up two or three things to discover they are in fact part of the campaign setting (and simply known a couple)as opposed to the creator's N/PC. I think using the description to give that name a bit more clarity -- "The Huffalump Horn is engraved with images of the giant Mwangi creature," to use an example that bears absolutely no resemblance to the item I'm thinking of -- might help that item.

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

I thought we were supposed to vote for the better of the two items in relation to each other even if the one voted for wasn't awesome/uber/the one we want to see win overall. Only if they are both equally good/bad/incomprehensible were we supposed to 'Neither.'


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Some of these items seem to be coming from people who have never gm'd before. I look at them and try to imagine a player with one and shudder. Even if it's not particularly imbalanced it makes me cringe trying to work out some of the things these items required.

Liberty's Edge Star Voter Season 6

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So is it good or bad I've seen several items many times but have yet to see mine :)

As to voting, when in doubt, brevity and clarity of concept win.

Dark Archive Star Voter Season 6

It's an interesting mental exercise to contemplate the results of an entirely self-serving voting pool.

Considering that the vast majority of votes will undoubtedly be cast by submitters... Would it not be in their best interest to vote for the crappiest stuff? (Except for their own item, of course.)

I have faith that we loyal Paizoites would never succumb to such base tactics, but surely I'm not the only person that had the thought.

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

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Chinchbug wrote:

It's an interesting mental exercise to contemplate the results of an entirely self-serving voting pool.

Considering that the vast majority of votes will undoubtedly be cast by submitters... Would it not be in their best interest to vote for the crappiest stuff? (Except for their own item, of course.)

I have faith that we loyal Paizoites would never succumb to such base tactics, but surely I'm not the only person that had the thought.

The voting method that Paizo has chosen to use is somewhat resistant to this strategy. In the voting FAQ there is a link to a page that explains how this is difficult to do. It would take a considerable amount of effort for it to have an effect.

Star Voter Season 6

I've seen items repeated over and over. Frequently, once I vote against an item, it will pop up again within a few minutes. I do see items I voted FOR repeat as well. I've seen my item once. Seems weird, but I guess it's just some code-monkey algorithm that's to blame, idk. I wish I had the opportunity to vote for my own item as often as some of these others though. Oh well, I don't expect to make the cut anyway... GL!

Scarab Sages Contributor , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Steven T. Helt

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I promise to vote for the best item every time (even if i see my own on the page). And I promise to help badger anyone that tubes good items in search of an advantage.

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

I've been habitually voting up decently-done items more suited for social adventuring over items for traditional dungeon/wilderness adventuring. In the past it's seemed like there's been a bias against social-interaction items, but it's one I don't share. So it's nice to be able to vote for things that better suit my personal interests.

Shadow Lodge Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I tend to overlook the minor problems. To me formatting is largely irrelevant - errors happen and the fact you get to submit once and never look back, well they'll creep in. A good idea shouldn't be hamstrung by a typo - even paizo still manage those and they have a team of editors.
Pricing? Again largely irrelevant, unless it is way out. Then I'll use it to break a tie.
Generallty I read, and reread the item. I then ask these questions in order of importnace to me:
Would I want it?
COuld I use it in a weird, alternative or interesting way?
Does it have several applications?I prefer simple itme swith a range of creative uses.
Is it open to abuse by a min/max player?

The essence of a wondrous item to me is an item that makes players say -that seems simple but I could use it like this...or this...

As a GM I love to hand out these types of items to encourage creative play around the table, so I'll be voting for these.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan

I can't believe the prices on some of these items. A quarter million gps and up! That's more than anything in the CRB.

Shadow Lodge Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

yeah the pricing is out there. Some of the cheaper ones are really powerful too!

Star Voter Season 6

Pizza Lord wrote:

I thought we were supposed to vote for the better of the two items in relation to each other even if the one voted for wasn't awesome/uber/the one we want to see win overall. Only if they are both equally good/bad/incomprehensible were we supposed to 'Neither.'

Paizo has actually asked us not to do neither if we can help it. The method is supposed to adapt. If clicking "neither" did anything for ranking, it would be too easy for people with lots of time on their hand to rig the voting in their favor. I imagine this voting community is big enough that this wouldn't work anyway, but I could be wrong.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka michaeljpatrick

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Oh no. On the left I have an item that is written well enough but basically does something that other existing items do already. On the right I have an extreme meta-gaming item that makes the GM do more work.

Obviously I will pick the item on the left, but that is not an endorsement of said item. Lesser of two evils.

Scarab Sages Contributor , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Steven T. Helt

I'm learning my taste for good design, too:

I hate items that make camping or traveling boring and uneventful.

I prefer an item that enhances a character's own schtick over giving it someone else's.

I'm not terribly fond of items that turn you into a vampire. I see several.

I'll take a terribly executed stab at a unique concept - even with bad rules, pricing, format, writing - over a very clean "this amulet lets you cast reduce person once per day."

There is a limit to how bad a unique idea can be before I vote for that boring sic, though.

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Sometimes, I picture the buttons as saying "xxx is less broken" and vote that way, just to keep my conscience clear.

I vote down items that will stop the game for 15 minutes while the GM figures out how to run the effects of the magic item, or those that require significant bookkeeping otherwise.

I also don't select items that are an obvious attempt to circumvent a particular rule that seems to be a pet peeve of the builder, nor those which rebuild a character.

I've seen some really boffo items, though -- cleverly named, well thought-out, technically correct, original, interesting. I hope to see even more!

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