Mask of Stony Demeanor too cheap?


Rules Questions

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Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

21 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Answered in the errata. 1 person marked this as a favorite.

This seems awfully cheap for the skill bonuses it gives. A normal +5 to a skill item is 2,500 gp, but for only 500 this gives +10 to bluffs to lie, +5 to feint, and -5 to send coded messages. Even if you decide that the -5 knocks the value of the bonus to lying to +5, that's still 2 out of 3 uses of the skill that have a +5 bonus. I'd think the item should be worth at least half the base 2,500, and be priced at least at 1,250 gp.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Are basing your pricing on the custom magic item guidelines?

You know, there is a reason they explicitly call them out as guidelines, and not a base formula that all items follow.

It's because there are considerations to be had when pricing, and all they can provide is guidelines.


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It depends on how your DM allows it to be used. Lax ones will allow the bonuses at all times. But a smart DM would judge that, while you do get a +10 to lying, you're also going to get a -10 penalty for trying to lie to a guy while wearing a stone mask. Might just be me, but if a guy walks up with an unmovable mask, I ain't trusting him.

The +5 to feint is only one aspect of bluff, so the example of 5*5 doesn't quite fit. But the mask is ridiculously strong for a few builds. So no matter what, I would agree it is too cheap. But it's done & there's naught to do about it unless you're the DM & say it's different than written. I sure would.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

Outlaw Corwin wrote:
But it's done & there's naught to do about it unless you're the DM & say it's different than written. I sure would.

Well, you could click the FAQ button on the post and maybe they'll errata it.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Rules-wise, it is fine, and functions as intended.

In your home game, you can up the price to 10,000gp if you want.

It is up to you.

Everywhere else, it is priced, and functions, as intended.


It's pretty OP.

Grand Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

That's a matter of opinion.

No matter how you feel about it, there is no question how it works, or how much it costs.

So, "look at this, I don't like it" really isn't a rules question, or requires a FAQ/Errata response.

Liberty's Edge

Outlaw Corwin wrote:

It depends on how your DM allows it to be used. Lax ones will allow the bonuses at all times. But a smart DM would judge that, while you do get a +10 to lying, you're also going to get a -10 penalty for trying to lie to a guy while wearing a stone mask. Might just be me, but if a guy walks up with an unmovable mask, I ain't trusting him.

The +5 to feint is only one aspect of bluff, so the example of 5*5 doesn't quite fit. But the mask is ridiculously strong for a few builds. So no matter what, I would agree it is too cheap. But it's done & there's naught to do about it unless you're the DM & say it's different than written. I sure would.

You know it's funny that a lot of people home rule items like this because of RP reason. Sure it might be a little funny for a man in a mask to come up and start talking to you in a monotone voice, but it might also be a little funny for a Cat person, or a talking birdman or any number of odd personnel coming up. Such as people with stones floating around their head, or who have talking pets or even maybe wings and a halo, but they don't get penalized for fluff reasons. I would say it's fair to handicap the item because it is a fairly powerful item per cost, but don't use a RP reason to handicap someones mechanics when it's fine to just say the mechanic's too powerful, and the RP doesn't make much sense.

Heck if the merchants in absolom never sold to any unusual characters, they'd never move their more interesting merchandise.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

This is a trap item.

Nobody is going to let you do anything while you're wearing it. It would become too well known after a few decades.

Gambling? Ultimate poker face. Banned in all gambling houses.

Selling stolen items? Banned in all stores.

Witness on the stand? Banned in all courts.

It might work on Jack to sell him some beans, but anyone else is going to take one look at a stone mask, hear a monotone voice, and head on off ignoring you.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Well, I suppose you could houserule it to do nothing but make people hate you, and nothing else.

That's not what it does, but it's your home game.


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blackbloodtroll wrote:

That's a matter of opinion.

No matter how you feel about it, there is no question how it works, or how much it costs.

So, "look at this, I don't like it" really isn't a rules question, or requires a FAQ/Errata response.

I mean, unless its a mistake.

If a 100 gp item gave you a +1000 bonus on attack rolls, that would probably be a typo/mistake. Would you say that that hypothetical misprint is totally clear and works exactly as intended and no one could possibly say otherwise?

Quote:

Droogami

This is a trap item.

Nobody is going to let you do anything while you're wearing it. It would become too well known after a few decades.

Gambling? Ultimate poker face. Banned in all gambling houses.

Selling stolen items? Banned in all stores.

Witness on the stand? Banned in all courts.

It might work on Jack to sell him some beans, but anyone else is going to take one look at a stone mask, hear a monotone voice, and head on off ignoring you.

Even for well-known spells like, say, glibness, you need a spellcraft check to identify the spell. Anyone who could cast Detect Magic and has spellcraft would almost certainly not be fooled. That would rule out big-city high-budget courts, and a lot of other important people. But PCs can't even recognize it on their own without a skill roll, so many NPCs won't either.

Quote:

Well, I suppose you could houserule it to do nothing but make people hate you, and nothing else.

That's not what it does, but it's your home game.

Playing npcs how they would react is not a house rule, it is the GM's job. The rules don't say how a "helpful" npc behaves or how a "indifferent" npc behaves, beyond how the GM plays them. You could rule that the GM shouldn't do their job and that diplomacy does nothing (since there's no written difference between a helpful and an indifferent character's actions), but that's not how it works. But it's your home game (or rather, it was, before you eliminated the position of the GM).


blackbloodtroll wrote:
So, "look at this, I don't like it" really isn't a rules question, or requires a FAQ/Errata response.

Considering that other equipment errors have gotten 'fixed' through FAQ, I have to disagree. See the recent double-barreled musket FAQ.

While it's true that the creation rules are guidelines and not all items line up exactly, the item does seem to be grossly underpriced. A one-shot potion (Honeytongue Elixir) that grants a similar bonus costs half again what the mask does.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Okay, making the item actually hinder your ability to lie, and make NPCs react automatically negatively, is at best, a dick move by the DM.

Making the item not function, as described, is a houserule.


blackbloodtroll wrote:

Okay, making the item actually hinder your ability to lie, and make NPCs react automatically negatively, is at best, a dick move by the DM.

Making the item not function, as described, is a houserule.

If I were to play an NPC shopkeep, and someone walked up to me with a mask on - even a non-magical one - to barter, depending on the NPC's starting demeanor toward the shopper, I'd be very likely to at least (politely) demand they remove the mask. If they knew the NPC, I might let it slide, but neutral or below, the first thing out of the shopkeep's mouth would probably be something like, "I don't wish to inconvenience you, good sir, but I prefer to look a customer in the face while doing business?"

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Well, this is why this item combines well with a Disguise Self spell.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
blackbloodtroll wrote:

Well, this is why this item combines well with a Disguise Self spell.

That I'd give you.

Turned around the other way, would you as a PC buy from a merchant who had a stone mask on and talked in a monotone?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Well, the mask actually transforms your face to look like a statue.

Advanced Race Guide wrote:

Mask of Stony Demeanor

Aura moderate transmutation; CL 6th
Slot head; Price 500 gp; Weight 4 lbs.
DESCRIPTION

When worn, this mask transforms the wearer's face into a stone statue and its voice into an emotionless monotone. Though it allows the wearer to speak, its facial expressions and voice betray little emotion, granting a +10 competence bonus on Bluff checks made to lie and a +5 competence bonus on Bluff checks made to feint, but also imposes a –5 penalty on Bluff checks made to pass a hidden message.
CONSTRUCTION REQUIREMENTS

Craft Wondrous Item, innocence, stone shape; Cost 250 gp


@bbt: I think there is good reason to think that this item may be underpriced and not intended as printed. It modifies 3 out of at least 4 uses of the skill (not having any impact on creating diversions to hide).

Lets say the +5/-5 cancel each other out, then it still gives a +10 bonus to one use of the skill.

The guidelines also say that you are supposed to compare the item to others of a similar power level. Xaratherus already mentioned the honeytongue elixir which gives exactly that +10 bonus to the same use of the skill, but for only 10 minutes AND at a higher price.

Even though there are no guidelines on how to handle increases of only certain aspects of the skill lets do some math. If we averaged the bonuses over the four skills we would end up with 625gp for the price which is already more than it costs.

If we also consider that the two uses of the skill that the mask actually gives a bonus to are the two that are utilised most often (at least at the tables I have played so far) 500gp become even more of an underestimate on the price.


By standard guidelines, the mask is a +10 skill item, normally 10.000 gp. Call it a generous -25% (should be more like -15%) for only adding +10 to half the actual uses of the skill, and a very generous -5% for the coded message penalty, and it's still at 7.000 gp.

I'm not sure I'd buy it at 7k, because by the time I've got that cash lying around for a skill item, my ability to lie is "Enough". But "lesser mask of stony demeanor, +5 to tell lies, +2 feint, -2 innuendo" at 1.750 gp would be a steal.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I think it works exactly as advertised and if there are any mistakes to be had, it's in the pricing.


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IIRC, the mask says nothing about changing shape or appearance, which means everybody knows you're wearing a stone-faced mask.

If you're wearing it, that means you want to lie.

Effectively, this item makes you FAIL all your bluff checks, because everything you say immediately becomes 'the lie is impossible'.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

That's only true if the people you are interacting with know exactly what the mask is and does.

I do not believe that to be a given by a long shot.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

BBT,
I again ask, would your PC do business with merchants who wore this item? Especially after being burned by it once?

If you would have your PC repeatedly buy/sell to merchants using this item, which is an obvious item, then you are perfectly justified in saying NPCs should allow the PC to use it on them.

On the other hand, if you would have your PC balk at being ripped off repeatedly by use of this item, then you cannot say that NPC s would not either.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

BBT, how would making the mask invisible keep it from transforming your face into stone?

The Exchange

The description doesn't really describe the mask. If it were a full-face mask then the 'stone statue' that the wearers face becomes would be concealed, so it is reasonable to presume that it is either smaller than that, or that the transformation of the wearers face causes the face and mask to merge to form the statue appearance.

I think that the intent was to have a person who looks like a talking statue. That's going to have an impact upon any attempts to be diplomatic or to try to fit in to 'normal' society.

The only social effect of the mask is a bonus to lie. That limits its usefulness in the above encounter with a merchant immediately. If you are trying to pass goods off to a merchant as being worth more than they are, it doesn't prevent him from making his own Appraise check. If it's not something that he knows the value of, he may be reluctant to buy even if he thinks (because of the lie) that it's a great deal as he doesn't know if it is something he is capable of reselling.

Basically, this is a high-bonus, very limited use case item. It's also likely to be one-shot per mark.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I imagine these are very common among the Razmiran priests.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Ravingdork wrote:
BBT, how would making the mask invisible keep it from transforming your face into stone?

Apparently, it doesn't change your face, it just sits there, as a mask.

Why would it matter, how it changes your face, if you can't see your face?

Also, it is seems to the fact that it is a visible mask, that gives you a -20 to bluff, and automatically pisses off anyone near it.


Since it transforms your face, and masks cover your face, I have always operated under the assumption that the mask itself is not visible while worn; I think someone earlier used the word "merging."

Does the stone still look like your skin, scales, whatever? Stones come in all colors, and nothing here says your face turns grey, just that you have a preternatural stillness that prevents the normal tells that go along with lying.

Like some others have said, if you don't like the item, tell your PCs up front. "This item isn't available" or "It cost X, instead of the normal price." Don't tell them "Oh that thing you bought to do something it says it does, it really does the exact opposite."


We are discussing how balanced it is. BBT, are you arguing that the mask should be worth 500, or that it should do what it says? Cause I agree with the second but not the first.

I feel that someone left off a '0' in the price :p

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

This is designed for Oreads.

I reckon it would not appear too strange if their face seemed "statuesque".


If it had an "works for oread only" entry I wouldn't mind the price. Or if it worked differently for non-Oread characters.


Knight Magenta wrote:

We are discussing how balanced it is. BBT, are you arguing that the mask should be worth 500, or that it should do what it says? Cause I agree with the second but not the first.

I feel that someone left off a '0' in the price :p

Indeed--it covers most uses of bluff. Delivering a secret message with bluff is nice at level 1-2 (when this is hard to afford anyways), but is nearly identical in function to the cantrip Message. 5000 seems like a reasonable price. I'm guessing it's a typo.


I do think 500 is cheap, but 5000 is way too much. That would move it from a "buy for any bluffing character" to a "never bother" item.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

That's just not true Sitri. A +10 bonus to lie for 5,000gp is a bargain.


I personally think it should cost at least 2500gp for the bonus to feint.

Another thought is that the mask should be required to attune to the wearer. As it is any character can avoid the penalty by simply only wearing the mask when not trying to relay secret messages but still getting the full benefits.


I wouldn't pay it, but then again I play a lot of magic focused types, so when I see 5000gp and start weighing that against extra spells I could be slinging and the versatility that gives me, a +10 to one aspect of one skill doesn't seem to win out. YMMV

Liberty's Edge

Zhayne wrote:
mdt wrote:
I see BBT is still ignoring questions he doesn't want to answer honestly because it would undermine his righteous anger position.
Look who's talking.

I would like to see what BBT has to say as well. I have seen many times when he throws out a 'what if' at a opponent of an argument and then pesters for a response again and again and again.

MDT's question is not unreasonable. BBT said "Okay, making the item actually hinder your ability to lie, and make NPCs react automatically negatively, is at best, a dick move by the DM."So BBT, would your PC do business with merchants who wore this item?


RedDogMT wrote:
Zhayne wrote:
mdt wrote:
I see BBT is still ignoring questions he doesn't want to answer honestly because it would undermine his righteous anger position.
Look who's talking.

I would like to see what BBT has to say as well. I have seen many times when he throws out a 'what if' at a opponent of an argument and then pesters for a response again and again and again.

MDT's question is not unreasonable. BBT said "Okay, making the item actually hinder your ability to lie, and make NPCs react automatically negatively, is at best, a dick move by the DM."So BBT, would your PC do business with merchants who wore this item?

I would, but I also wouldn't expect my GM to tell me they were wearing the item. I would expect him to tell me how his face doesn't betray the slightest hint of emotion. If my PC has the item, has seen it, or maybe has a very high spellcraft, I might take steps to find out if he is wearing one.

Even if I do find this out, I may still buy things. I expect business people to lie. I have dealt with enough of them and all their "create value" type language to know none of them should be fully trusted. But, whether I like or trust them completely has nothing to do with the necessity of dealing with them sometimes.


Sitri wrote:


I would, but I also wouldn't expect my GM to tell me they were wearing the item. I would expect him to tell me how his face doesn't betray the slightest hint of emotion. If my PC has the item, has seen it, or maybe has a very high spellcraft, I might take steps to find out if he is wearing one.

How about "has heard of the item"? This is the sort of thing that gets around pretty quickly in a business community, the same way that all the stores in the neighborhood get little notes about check kiters as soon as one person gets burned.

This is the sort of thing that a professional businessman would be expected to know about in order to carry out his business. Heck, in a high-magic world, they'd sell trinkets that detect the use of such things, just as (in the real world) they sell pens that detect counterfeit bills.

Quote:


Even if I do find this out, I may still buy things. I expect business people to lie. I have dealt with enough of them and all their "create value" type language to know none of them should be fully trusted. But, whether I like or trust them completely has nothing to do with the necessity of dealing with them sometimes.

The flip side of that is that very few businesses need to work with any particular customer, especially one who is automatically suspicious. As far as I can tell, the only reason to wear that mask is to lie to customers -- which, to me, is sufficient proof of intent. I'd rather go to someone who isn't necessarily planning to lie to me.

A good businessman doesn't need to lie, and most of them don't lie. Pawnbrokers, for example, will tell you straight up that they won't offer what they expect to sell the item for because they have rent to make. Markup isn't lying. An honest dealer will be able to say "I bought that ring for $125, and I can let you have it for $250"; if you try to haggle below whatever he considers to be a fair price, he'll simply say "no." (100% markup is in fact fairly standard in the trade; everyone knows that, and everyone knows that the jeweler isn't in business because it's fun.)

It's only the dishonest dealer that tells you the ring is solid gold when in fact it's brass plated over steel. And he's the one I want to stay away from.


Isil-zha wrote:
If it had an "works for oread only" entry I wouldn't mind the price. Or if it worked differently for non-Oread characters.

Agreed. In that case, the description would fit the race; they're already stony-looking people, so one with a face more rock-like than normal wouldn't be surprising.

Seeing an elf with a statue face, or a human? I'd probably start out by asking what happened - the likely outcome of which would be a successful lie, since that's what the mask is for.

I don't have much of a problem with the mask doing what it says it does; I do think that it's woefully under-priced - unless it included an 'Oread only' restriction, in which case the price would spot on. Perhaps that's the real question here: Was the mask intended to be restricted to Oread only?


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Variables :

Merchant has mask.
You know of mask existence.
You know of side effects (stone face, lack of emotion, monotone voice).
Merchant has these side effects.
You have been ripped off once before by someone with a mask selling you something that wasn't what he claimed.

Do you buy anything from the merchant, knowing that he's wearing a magic item that makes it much easier for him to lie to you. It's a rather simple question. Yes yes, if you need information from him, you might buy anyway, or if there is no-one else to buy from, you might anyway. But we'll assume this is just you needing a +2 Longsword in a large city. Do you buy it from the guy wearing what you know is a magic item designed to help people lie, or do you buy it from the guy down the street?


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Sitri wrote:


I would, but I also wouldn't expect my GM to tell me they were wearing the item. I would expect him to tell me how his face doesn't betray the slightest hint of emotion. If my PC has the item, has seen it, or maybe has a very high spellcraft, I might take steps to find out if he is wearing one.

How about "has heard of the item"? This is the sort of thing that gets around pretty quickly in a business community, the same way that all the stores in the neighborhood get little notes about check kiters as soon as one person gets burned.

This is the sort of thing that a professional businessman would be expected to know about in order to carry out his business. Heck, in a high-magic world, they'd sell trinkets that detect the use of such things, just as (in the real world) they sell pens that detect counterfeit bills.

Quote:


Even if I do find this out, I may still buy things. I expect business people to lie. I have dealt with enough of them and all their "create value" type language to know none of them should be fully trusted. But, whether I like or trust them completely has nothing to do with the necessity of dealing with them sometimes.

The flip side of that is that very few businesses need to work with any particular customer, especially one who is automatically suspicious. As far as I can tell, the only reason to wear that mask is to lie to customers -- which, to me, is sufficient proof of intent. I'd rather go to someone who isn't necessarily planning to lie to me.

A good businessman doesn't need to lie, and most of them don't lie. Pawnbrokers, for example, will tell you straight up that they won't offer what they expect to sell the item for because they have rent to make. Markup isn't lying. An honest dealer will be able to say "I bought that ring for $125, and I can let you have it for $250"; if you try to haggle below whatever he considers to be a fair price, he'll simply say "no." (100% markup is in fact fairly standard in the trade;...

Well when I said "has seen the item" or "has a really high spellcraft" I was thinking along the lines of "has heard of the item", but most of that is likely a GM call unless it has specifically come up in the game.

While some pawnbrokers can be honest about telling you they have to make a living, they can also be the same ones that play stupid and can't find things in their inventory when people come to their store looking for stolen things.

It is possible to find some business people that are 100% honest, I think them enough of a rarity that it serves one better to assume they will all lie to you if given the chance than to assume they will all treat you fairly under any circumstances. Caveat emptor


Sitri wrote:
While some pawnbrokers can be honest about telling you they have to make a living, they can also be the same ones that play stupid and can't find things in their inventory when people come to their store looking for stolen things. While it is true to find some business people that are 100% honest, I think them enough of a rarity that it serves one better to assume they will all lie to you if given the chance than to assume they will all treat you fairly under any circumstances. Caveat emptor

I'll give you that they're not 100% honest all the time -- no one is. But are you even going to allow someone to wear the mask if you need to talk to them?

If The Man is coming in looking for stolen property, the first words out of his mouth are going to be "take off that mask, or you're coming down to the police station and we're taking if off you!" (Assuming the cop has heard of that particular item, which I feel is a pretty safe bet.)

Similarly, if you're a private citizen looking for your own stolen property,... well, as soon as you see that mask, there is literally nothing that the person can say to you that would persuade you that he's telling the truth behind the mask.

Basically, there's no reason to assume that anyone will always treat you fairly. But there's no reason to assume that a person wearing that mask will ever treat you fairly, since the major purpose for that mask is to enable unfairness.


I agree that the item cost is probably a typo. 5,000G seems reasonable for an item that gives these bonuses. Maybe a little expensive, but reasonable.

For anyone that wants to screw over someone that buys this mask, either don't allow PC's to have the item or be very clear that the item has unwritten penalties that you are going to adjudicate on a whim because you don't like it.

The mask works EXACTLY as written. Which doesn't include penalties to the player for using the item that they bought. Don't like it? Then don't use it.


Aureate wrote:


The mask works EXACTLY as written. Which doesn't include penalties to the player for using the item that they bought.

Then how do you handle the can of worms that results when an NPC uses the mask against a PC?

PC: "I need to know what's going on here."

NPC: "Hang on a second, let me fix my makeup here." <pulls out the mask, puts it on.> "Nothing is going on. I am NOT a secret diabolist who is plotting to kill the queen and usurp the throne. I know nothing at all about a summoned handmaiden devil. There is no arsenic in your wine glass." <removes mask> "Anything else I can help you with?"

PC: "Oh, okay. I think we're done. Thanks for the information." <drinks wine>


Well, there is a difference between "don't like it, period" and "don't like it for that price"

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