Brinebinder (Druid)


Round 2: Design an archetype

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Standback

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Brinebinder (Druid)
A brinebinder walks on land, but draws upon Outsea magic to bring the ocean with her wherever she goes.

Natural Swimmer (Ex): At 3rd level, a brinebinder gains a swim speed equal to half her land speed. This ability replaces trackless step.

Bubble of Brine (Su): At 4th level, a brinebinder can summon a bubble of seawater as a standard action. The bubble's center must within a 100-foot range and on the ground, and its area is a 10-foot radius sphere. A successful Reflex save (DC 12) allows creatures in the area of effect to escape to a square adjacent to the bubble’s edge. The bubble automatically quenches any nonmagical fires and functions as dispel magic against magical fires as long as those fires are size Large or less. Creatures may enter the bubble freely; leaving (and movement inside the bubble) requires a DC 10 Swim check.

Combat within the bubble uses the underwater combat rules. If attacked from land, creatures inside the bubble gain cover (+4 cover bonus to AC) against foes that do not have have freedom of movement effects. This cover does not enable the target to make Stealth checks or prevent attacks of opportunity. Magical attacks from land into the bubble are unaffected, unless they require attack rolls or state that they do not function underwater.

As a free action, a brinebinder may select any willing creature inside the bubble (including herself) as a focus. The bubble becomes mobile, remaining centered upon the creature, who may move at its base or swim speed. Any other movement severs the focus. When swimming, the focus swims up to five feet above the ground. Absent a focus, the bubble remains stationary. Creatures in the path of the bubble’s movement make a Reflex save (DC 12) or are engulfed, as above.

Each bubble persists for one hour, after which its water drains away into nothingness. A brinebinder may use this ability once a day.

At 8th level and every 4 levels thereafter, a brinebinder gains an additional use of this ability per day (multiple bubbles may be active simultaneously), and the radius of the bubbles increases by 5 feet. This ability replaces 4th level wild shape progression.

Wild Shape (Su): A brinebinder gains this ability at 6th level, except that her effective druid level for the ability is equal to her druid level – 2.

Ocean’s Pilgrim (Su): At 13th level, once daily, a brinebinder may polymorph one human into a merfolk, or one merfolk into a human as though using polymorph any object, transforming him into a level 1 warrior. This effect is permanent until dismissed by the subject. This ability replaces a thousand faces.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

I think this is a theme-appropriate archetype for the RK and the archetype

Bubble of Brine: I like this idea. I think you spent a little too much time describing underwater combat (yes, I know it's not really clear in the Core Rulebook, but that doesn't mean your archetype is the place to clarify those rules). "Any other movement severs the focus"... I think this means climbing, flying, etc., severs the focus.

Wild Shape: Is this reduced effective level compensating for an apparent increase in the bubble of brine's power compared to wild shape?

Ocean's Pilgrim: I'm not sure why you chose polymorph any object instead of polymorph other... you can just say this ability's effect is permanent. But I'm not sure how this ability is useful (not that thousand faces is that useful)... it's not an ability most players would crave for their characters.

I think you've put most of your eggs in the bubble of brine basket. I'd like to see more unique abilities that make this archetype interesting and appealing to players.

I do NOT recommend this archetype for advancement.

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

Ziv, I loved your veil for it's many layers. Unfortunately, you needed some of that design mojo here. This archetype lacks layers. Sean said you put all your eggs in the bubble basket and I agree with him. I think a superstar archetype needs to do more than one real trick. An archetype has to provide fun play options and give a player pause about the swap outs he or she is going to have to do to take the archetype. I think you missed the mark here, I'm sad to say (though I like the name). Best of luck!

I DO NOT Recommend this archetype for advancement.

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

Ziv, congrats on Top 32, and congrats on choosing one of the not-completely-overrun classes for your archetype.

Unfortunately, I'm not sold on aquatic adventuring as a priority for archetype design, and while you've got links to the River Kingdoms, I'm not sure there's enough meat here. One neat mechanic isn't quite enough, ultimately. Though I think you show originality in the abilities presented, I'm running with the majority here, as the aquatic druid is just too specialized a design.

Not recommended to advance, though you never know, one cool bubble might convince the voters to help you squeak into next round. Good luck!

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Loved the veil, lets see how this stacks up.

Not sure if natural swimmer is a fair swap for trackless step. Maybe woodland stride, but I can see the design choice in wanting to hold off for another level.

Bubble of brine is nifty and fits the outsea theme.

Oceans Pilgrim makes sense as a swap for 1000 faces since it would let you blend in more in outsea.

While most of your swaps support the theme, I feel like this needed one more WOW ability to really make me want to take it. Something cool with aquatic animals perhaps? I don't mind seeing more specialized archetypes since it is supposed to be a good fit for the River Kingdoms (theme wise), so thats ok by me. Good Luck.

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

I really like the bubble of brine power, which I guess is good since as the judges note it's the main thing here. I think it's flavorful and gives players a lot of choices of what they want to do with it.

Jason, I think you could summon aquatic animals into the bubble, which could be fun, bringing in some monsters I don't usually get to play with. Granted, that would require two actions to pull off -- summoning the bubble, then the critter -- but still a neat idea.

I might've liked if there were some way to make the bubble only semi-pervious, so you could end up being trapped inside with a shark instead of just needing a Swim check to escape. Sounds a little silly -- and you'd have to be careful the mechanics weren't broken -- I'll admit, but it'd certainly be dramatic (find a way to get out before you drown -- or the shark inside eats you).

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

Ocean's pilgrim was the only part of the archetype I did not like. I think the bubble of brine is a great concept and could be used imaginatively for quite a few situations.

I am bubbling with glee for this!

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

Thomas LeBlanc wrote:

Ocean's pilgrim was the only part of the archetype I did not like. I think the bubble of brine is a great concept and could be used imaginatively for quite a few situations.

I am bubbling with glee for this!

Yeah ocean's pilgrim is kinda lackluster but the rest of it isn't bad.

Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
I might've liked if there were some way to make the bubble only semi-pervious, so you could end up being trapped inside with a shark instead of just needing a Swim check to escape. Sounds a little silly -- and you'd have to be careful the mechanics weren't broken -- I'll admit, but it'd certainly be dramatic (find a way to get out before you drown -- or the shark inside eats you).

Or if the bubble could roll around like a watery (flaming) sphere at least then escaping becomes more interesting.

I don't know about this one I'm on the fence. Congratulations on making the top 32 and good luck with the voting.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8 aka nate lange

good use of the template; your writing is good, though i would have preferred less words on underwater combat and a little more flavor text.

your game balance also looks pretty good. i don't understand why ocean's pilgrim transforms targets into a level 1 warrior (or how that affects them long term... if you use it on the party's 13th level wizard, when he cancels it does he return to his previous HP total, or stay at the 1 hit die total? what if he got hit while transformed? does he regain all the memorized spell that disappeared when he transformed?); and i don't understand why its limited to humans- sorry every other playable race, no undersea exploration for you.

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

I will give general impressions, but with 3 areas of particular focus that suit my personal interests. Archetype and ability names: do they show flair? How closely tied to the River Kingdom is the archetype? And last but certainly not least, do I want to play this archetype?

Archetype and ability names: Above average. The archetype name is strong.

River Kingdom tie: Above average. Ties to a specific location, but could easily be from elsewhere as well.

Desire to play: Well above average. I think the thing here is the way the abilities play together. They're coherent. The bubble of brine is the centerpiece, but rest all complement it. Wild shape lets the druid move around in that bubble for the hour it exists, if need be. And making yourself or your allies a merfolk allows them to move around in their own bubble. The bubble follows willing targets, so it's a good bet this was the intent all along. It's an interesting chance to turn a lot of combat into underwater combat, which seems like it could be a fun advantage.

Side note- It turns merfolk into level 1 fighters, it doesn't make everyone level 1 fighter merfolk. I assume a level 15 wizard would remain a level 15 wizard, but in merfolk form.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

An interesting archetype. I like the flavor here, but your abilities really boil down to that one that summons a sphere (or hemisphere, really) of sea water. There's a problem with it - a druid built even slightly around grappling or battlefield control becomes an absolute killer, because an hour is way longer than most creatures can hold their breath, especially considering most of that is combat.

shapeshift into octopus, activate bubble of brine. DROWN EVERYTHING.

I can see the appeal of your class, of course, but there are always problems.

Good luck in this and future rounds!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka surfbored

Ziv Wities wrote:

Brinebinder (Druid)

A brinebinder walks on land, but draws upon Outsea magic to bring the ocean with her wherever she goes.

The name just rolls of the tongue, and I really like it. But, where's the flavor text? One tiny sentence is all I get to introduce me to this archetype? Bummer.

Ziv Wities wrote:

Natural Swimmer (Ex): At 3rd level, a brinebinder gains a swim...

This is how you add a swim speed to something. It's a bit more powerful than trackless step though. It might be more appropriate to replace woodland stride, even though it's a 2nd level ability, it's more useful than trackless step.

Ziv Wities wrote:

Bubble of Brine (Su): At 4th level, a brinebinder can summon a bubble of seawater...

While the thematic is great, this is way too close to the 8th level seamantle spell. You've set a low DC for people to escape, but in areas sized 20' or less, you trap everyone since there are no adjacent squares to escape to. In an hour, you could drown out an awful lot of rooms!

In addition, you wasted a lot of words describing this when you could've said, "It works like the spell seamantle, with the following exceptions...". You also risk drowning you and your allies in this bubble since waterbreathing isn't granted.

The idea of a water bubble on land is exactly what I was hoping someone would do. But this needed to be more succinct and placed as a higher level ability (perhaps starting at 9th?).

Ziv Wities wrote:
Wild Shape (Su): A brinebinder gains this ability at 6th level...

Moving this ability wouldn't be necessary if bubble of brine was placed higher.

Ziv Wities wrote:
Ocean’s Pilgrim (Su): At 13th level, once daily, a brinebinder may polymorph one human into a merfolk, or one merfolk into a human as though using polymorph any object, transforming him into a level 1 warrior. This effect is permanent until dismissed by the subject. This ability replaces a thousand faces.

Too many questions are left unanswered with this ability. Foremost, what's the point? At 13th level, it should be clear why someone would want to use this. I would've rather seen you grant the amphibious quality, or something -- I'm clearly missing something here.

OVERALL: I like what this archetype was attempting to do, but it missed the mark at a couple different places. Power balancing would be needed before using/publishing. And just a little more flavor would be nice. Keep the name though!

Good Luck!

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

Good: You took the sea to land and that is awesome-sauce. I can play with the bubble of brine allot, I suspect I'd love finding uses for this outside the obvious, I would play this druid.
Bad: Not sure you needed to delay wildshape.
Ugly: its a little niche might lose you some votes.
Overall: This is getting my vote, because its an archetype I can see myself enjoying to play. Its a water theme NOT RESTRICTED TO WATER. For me that made you win at the water theme.

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

Natural Swimmer: Yep, this fits perfectly thematically!

Bubble of Brine: Not crazy about the name. Maybe Brine Bubble would have been better. You are missing a word before "within 100". This is worded a little confusingly. You also tell us the Save information before you even tell us what it really does.

Ocean's Pilgrim: At level 13 you are turning ANYONE into a Level 1 Fighter or a merfolk...hmm. I'm not really a fan of this.

Overall, I like where you wanted to go with this. I think you shot your own foot by spending so much wordcount on your bubble ability. That IS a cool idea...a water themed archetype that can bring the water with them...but its all in the one ability. You really needed more than just that ability.

I do NOT recommend.

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

RonarsCorruption wrote:
shapeshift into octopus, activate bubble of brine. DROWN EVERYTHING.

That's not unstoppable and its not boring, its in fact exactly why I lvoe this archetype. I might make a bad guy druid and frak with my pcs using this exact combo.

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

I love that you took a normally limited to specific terrain water archetype and changed it up so that they bring their water with them, and can use that as a defense and battlefield control. It actually makes gaining a swim speed useful most of the time.

I think that having it replace wild shape was balanced, but then when you gave wild shape back at -2 levels, that is too much. Maybe if you limited it to creatures with a swim speed, or breath water or something, but to also get to change into everything else just a bit delayed makes the bubble of brine too powerful.

Have to agree that the ocean's pilgrim didn't work for me though - as a way to transform to merfolk shape, sure - but what's with the permanent 1st level warrior part? What other effect in the game (including a wish) can just say - sorry 20th level character - you're now a 1st level warrior. Why not add insult to injury and make it a 1st level commoner?

I'm on the fence with this archetype - I LOVE the bubble of brin and swim speed, but not as crazy about the rest. The tie in to Outsea works for the RK, so you're good with that.

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

Starting late on voting this round, so I'll have to go through quickly. But you got this from China Mieville's chapter? I don't like the fit with Outsea or with the concept of a druid. I have to agree with others' concerns about Ocean's Pilgrim.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Standback

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I've got a lot going on right now - I've got plenty to say about what went wrong and what went right with the Brinebinder, but most of them'll have to wait.

In the meantime, I wanted to thank everybody who commented on my archetype. I largely agree with pretty much every criticism offered - and, of course, I'm also in agreement with the ones who liked the central concept.

One of my criminal flaws here was burying my lead - while all the mechanics are there, I see that a lot of my last-minute edits came at the expense of both flavor, and clarity of the central concept. A special thank-you to Clouds Without Water - the first to explicitly call out my intention with this archetype, which was to bring underwater creatures and combat up on land. That was my core, my high concept - but in retrospect, this element was left almost entirely unmentioned in the entry itself. I was biting my nails for a few days trying to figure out whether I'd managed to completely obscure the goal I was aiming for. My thanks, as well, to those of you who appreciated this goal - with a vote, or a comment, or a smile.

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

Ziv Wities wrote:
y intention with this archetype, which was to bring underwater creatures and combat up on land. That was my core, my high concept - but in retrospect, this element was left almost entirely unmentioned in the entry itself.

I thought that was pretty obvious, and I have to say, from looking at the top 16, I'm surprised you didn't make it. I voted for you, and you're the only one of my 8 votes that didn't progress. My guess (from the exit poll thread also) is you finished just under the cut, which is a shame.

It was a risky archetype, and probably a bit avent garde for most. In some ways it was more of a spell than an archetype - Bubble of Brine taking the bulk of your word count, and that essentially being a new spell in all but name. By putting all your eggs into that one ability, I suspect you lost a lot of people who just saw it as that - rather than as the core of a new class.

You also seemed to split people with the Ocean's Pilgrim. I liked it, mainly for the flavour and visual aspects, but it doesn't have a lot of use as a PC ability. Sure, A Thousand Faces isn't great either at 13th, but people will just look at your ability and say "why would I want that?".

Lastly, and perhaps crucially, I think you did err on the Name. Even moreso at round 2, when people are faced with the main page and 32 archetypes thinking "whoa... which one do I look at?", the name has to be a solid differentiator and Brinebinder is just a bit too obscure and forgettable. I don't have any better ideas (Bubble Druid? nah... Aqua Walker? better, but still nah...), but hey. If you look at the 16 that progressed, almost all of them have a strong name that instantly tells you the concept.

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

Ziv Wities wrote:
My thanks, as well, to those of you who appreciated this goal - with a vote, or a comment, or a smile.

I dug your archetype, sorry it didn't work out.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Steven T. Helt

Ziv...I'm sorry the brinebinder didn't work out for you. What a great name!

You were one of this year's most fun and friendly competitors. I hope we don't become strangers.

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

For what it's worth, I thought this was the most underrated of the 32. The ideas were solid, they just needed a little more clarity.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Standback

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Well, I wanted to circle back and weigh in on this, and I've been swept up in a slew of urgent Now-That-You're-Out-Of-The-Contest tasks, but I do want to in my thoughts before the next round starts up. I've started writing a couple of times, but it's come out long and meandering - so instead of an essay, here are points and observations, in no particular order.

  • With this entry, I aimed for a "high concept" - I wanted a fundamental tweak that'd represent a major, overwhelming change to how a class is used, while keeping in line with the class's flavor. I think I found that concept. Some people didn't like how this archetype's really all around one single power. Perfectly fair; it definitely feels less "archetype-"y." Personally, I really like that I found one point to twist, and achieve such a pervasive effect on the druid's other abilities - wild shape and summon natures's ally. The layers are in the synergy. I think finding a single point of change causing rippling affects to other abilities is cool, clever design.

  • That being said, I'm dubious about the mechanical balance I've struck here. Bubble of brine is big, and poised to be used in unpredictable ways. Jerry Keyes hit on some of them.

  • If there's anything here I'm kicking myself over, it's on having trimmed so much flavor text, I left practically no context - and I didn't realize it. Somebody who didn't have druids on the brain could easily miss the tie-ins with other class abilities - I'm pretty sure some of the earlier posters did miss them; at very least, nobody mentioned them outright before Clouds did, judges included. Also, lines like, "the brinebinder can summon aquatic allies however far from water he may be" or whatnot really set the tone - and I just didn't have 'em. I consider it a personal failure that three days into the round, nobody was talking about siccing sharks on foes while on dry land. I'm crushed, people - crushed, I tell you!

  • A major problem here is that bubble of brine is a pretty homebrew-y effect. Very dangerous to base your whole concept around - homebrew-y effects chew up wordcount like crazy, and still have holes left over at the end. I sweated hard to nerf the bubble from being able to just swallow up anybody within range and render them useless, and I still don't think it's enough - but by that point, I'd gone far past "committed" and was edging towards "desperate". If you're going to take anything from this little analysis, it's this: homebrew effects usually don't make it into Superstar. This one did. That's a lot of why it floundered. Handle with care, and keep a simpler backup plan if at all possible.

  • I waited too long to write this entry. Way, waaaaaay too long. I had plenty of time to prepare, and even the time I had after the big reveal would have been plenty if I'd done a better job employing Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard. Boy did this show. This entry might've looked a whole lot better with another draft or so. At very least, ocean's pilgrim wouldn't have had so many silly mistakes, and it wouldn't have felt quite as tacked on (QUICK! What're the rules for polymorph? Permenantly polymorphing somebody mid-game sounds hard, I'll just zap 'em down to first level warrior and be done with it! A thousand faces is mostly useless, so I can put something else useless in instead of it, right?) No less important, more time would've at least let me review the entry calmly, which is crucial to a final draft. It may not look like I handed this in a minute before deadline, but the entry time you see up there is up tight against when shabbat started - I was ridiculously close to the wire.

  • I feel compelled to note that the natural swimmer ability was not my own creation; it's taken from the Aquatic Druid archetype from the APG. I firmly believe that using an existing design is better than making a change merely to be different. However, I had no appropriate way of indicating in the entry that this is what I'd done, so this could easily have been mistaken for original design. If there's some better way to do what I did here, I'd be glad to hear it. I hope nobody feels I've misled them unfairly with this.

All that being said, I'm very proud of my work in both rounds. I had a blast finally getting to take a crack at the contest. And while I would have loved to advance, my R2 entry enjoyed some enthusiastic appreciation, and also had clear and obvious flaws - the two of those together made the Top 16 reveal extremely easy to accept in good grace. That, and also (as I've said elsewhere) the absolutely stellar level of competition this time around - we've got such an incredible roster of talent, it's impossible to feel too badly at not making the cut.

Many thanks to all of you who enjoyed having me in the contest! :) And, a very special thank-you to Curaigh, to Jacob W. Michaels, to Anthony Adams, and to Nnesk - these guys were my sounding board and my critique group, and I simply cannot express what a constant help and encouragement they've been to me. Guys, you are incredible. Thank you so much.

That's it from me. Now, back to the peanut gallery!

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

:)
Congratulations Ziv. You did us proud.

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
Curaigh wrote:

:)

Congratulations Ziv. You did us proud.

Seconded.

This also applies to all of the contestants - it's a very well fought competition this year.

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