Deck of the Hellwasp's Sting


Open Call: Design a wondrous item

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 7

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Deck of the Hellwasp's Sting
Aura moderate evocation; CL 9th
Slot none; Price 10,380 gp; Weight 1 lb.
Description
This seemingly ordinary deck of 54 playing cards is held in an ornate wooden box with a simple clasp, decorated with wasp-themed art. The clergy of Calistria has been known to gift decks of this kind to their more devout and covert spies, for use in the event of capture.

As a move action, the user can draw a card from the deck and speak a command word to transform that card into a thrown weapon with the statistics and damage of a +1 flaming dart. The user can instead draw and activate a card covertly as a Standard action, using Sleight of Hand to palm it and treating it as a hidden weapon for a subsequent attack. A card is always destroyed after being thrown, even if it does not hit the target. If the thrower has the Arcane Strike feat, damage from Arcane Strike is doubled when using a card.

In addition, as long as there are at least 20 cards remaining in the deck, the entire deck can be sacrificed by speaking a command word and tossing the cards into the air. The cards transform into a swarm of burning, poisonous paper with the same statistics as a Hellwasp Swarm (Bestiary 3) except that the swarm does not gain the inhabit ability, and all damage dealt by its swarm attack is fire damage. This swarm can be controlled by the person who activated the ability as if it were summoned by the summon swarm spell for up to 10 rounds, at which point the swarm dissipates.

Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, flame arrow, summon swarm, creator must have the Arcane Strike feat; Cost 5,190 gp

Paizo Employee Developer

Oh boy, another magic deck of cards.

Great, I get to keep track of 54 pieces of ammunition.

Pretty cool secondary ability.

So-so rules language. Fine idea, but not as cleanly executed as I would like.

weak reject

Publisher, EN Publishing aka Russell Morrissey

Tracking it's fine. Just give the player an actual deck of cards, and he hands one to the GM each time he uses one. Plus that makes it all prop-like. Gambit would be proud!

Keep.

Paizo Employee Associate Editor

Needs to define how long a palmed card can be activated and stored—can I activate all 54 gradually, save them, and hand them out (or sell them)? Secondary ability's better, but I'm not excited about this one.

Weak keep.

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

I liked this one a lot, especially the single use aspect and the nice "nova" ability.

Good luck in the monster round!

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 7

Thanks for your critiques! I knew I was taking a bit of a gamble with a deck of cards, so I'm glad to see that it paid off!

Just for clarity's sake, @Judy: I should have had a phrase in there essentially saying that a card could only be palmed for up to one minute or until another card is drawn, whichever comes first. Just long enough to have a conversation and then surprise your quarry with a card to the face!

Shadow Lodge Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7

This was my favorite of all the card deck items, bar none. Love the imagery and voted for it every time.

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

This was amazing, I didn't include it in my top 32 because I was on the fence of calling it a weapon which is a DQ. It clearly isn't DQed but I suppose the other dart didn't either. Congrats it is a very cool idea and I especially like the concealed weapon bit and the doubling arcane strike bit they were nice touches. Good luck in the next round.

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

Someone sent me the whole text of this one to me during the PMing of everyone's favorite item lists. I wrote a short review of each of those items and this is what I said about this one:

Quote:

Ah! I liked this one in the voting. I’m glad the designer resisted the urge to call it the “deck of many stings” although that would have been funny.

Very cool, but there are a couple problems. The last ability requires 20 cards, so technically I can split the 54 card deck into two 27 cards decks and use each seven times for the first ability and then the rest for the swarm ability. It’s two items in one! This should have been addressed and probably avoided by making the deck need 28 cards to swarm. Also it is weird that changes to the swarm did not address its alignment. It’s weird that a chaotic neutral deity uses lawful evil, extraplanar, insect swarms. The only other minor thing is there is too much back story. If he wanted to link it to Calistra he should have put her in the name or described the back of the card as having her holy symbol. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this in the top 32 as it has some mojo.

Despite the issues I saw in it, this is a cool item that I voted for a couple times and I think there is a spark in this design that could speak to a potentially great designer. Good luck in the monster round.

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

cartmanbeck wrote:
I knew I was taking a bit of a gamble with a deck of cards...

Badoom-tish.

I never saw this item in my voting - I think hoosing Calistria is always a design choice that is either way-cool or a complete failure. You have definitely worked the lore in well.

Nice to see another Multiclass Productions alumni up in here after Michael Pruess last year. Well done Tyler.


Nickolas Floyd wrote:

Someone sent me the whole text of this one to me during the PMing of everyone's favorite item lists. I wrote a short review of each of those items and this is what I said about this one:

Quote:

Ah! I liked this one in the voting. I’m glad the designer resisted the urge to call it the “deck of many stings” although that would have been funny.

Very cool, but there are a couple problems. The last ability requires 20 cards, so technically I can split the 54 card deck into two 27 cards decks and use each seven times for the first ability and then the rest for the swarm ability. It’s two items in one! This should have been addressed and probably avoided by making the deck need 28 cards to swarm. Also it is weird that changes to the swarm did not address its alignment. It’s weird that a chaotic neutral deity uses lawful evil, extraplanar, insect swarms. The only other minor thing is there is too much back story. If he wanted to link it to Calistra he should have put her in the name or described the back of the card as having her holy symbol. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this in the top 32 as it has some mojo.

Despite the issues I saw in it, this is a cool item that I voted for a couple times and I think there is a spark in this design that could speak to a potentially great designer. Good luck in the monster round.

Thanks for the feedback, Nickolas! I never even considered the idea of splitting the deck into two, because in my mind, the cards need to be drawn from the wooden box that holds them to activate them. But I definitely could see what you're saying. Instead of "As a move action, the user can draw a card from the deck and speak a command word..." I should have said "As a move action, the user can draw a card from the box and speak a command word..."

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka MythrilDragon

I liked the unique flavor of this item early on which surprised me because I'm not a fan of card deck items. You got my vote many times and I am glad this one is in the Top 32. Good Luck.

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

This is becoming a theme for me this year but I wasn't that enamored with this item in the voting. It really was just a weapon for me and I wasn't sure why 20 was the number assigned to the secondary ability. Why couldn't I choose to do all 54?

Anyways...it was creative and different and I enjoyed that aspect of it. I'm looking forward to your R2.


theheadkase wrote:

This is becoming a theme for me this year but I wasn't that enamored with this item in the voting. It really was just a weapon for me and I wasn't sure why 20 was the number assigned to the secondary ability. Why couldn't I choose to do all 54?

Anyways...it was creative and different and I enjoyed that aspect of it. I'm looking forward to your R2.

You could totally choose to toss all 54 to make the swarm, but then you've wasted most of the deck, because you didn't use any of them for the Gambit-style card throw! :-D


Nice idea. I can totally see a follower of Calistra using these cards.


Quite a nice item. I recall voting for it the few times it came up on my screen.

However, there's one gripe I have:

cartmanbeck wrote:
This swarm can be controlled by the person who activated the ability as if it were summoned by the summon swarm spell for up to 10 rounds, at which point the swarm dissipates.

May I point out that...

PRD - Summon Swarm wrote:
If no living creatures are within its area, the swarm attacks or pursues the nearest creature as best it can. The caster has no control over its target or direction of travel.

which means you just use a complicated way of stating that the Hellwasp Deck user has [i]exactly zero[/] control over the swarm.

Was this your intention?


Midnight_Angel wrote:

Quite a nice item. I recall voting for it the few times it came up on my screen.

However, there's one gripe I have:

cartmanbeck wrote:
This swarm can be controlled by the person who activated the ability as if it were summoned by the summon swarm spell for up to 10 rounds, at which point the swarm dissipates.

May I point out that...

PRD - Summon Swarm wrote:
If no living creatures are within its area, the swarm attacks or pursues the nearest creature as best it can. The caster has no control over its target or direction of travel.

which means you just use a complicated way of stating that the Hellwasp Deck user has [i]exactly zero[/] control over the swarm.

Was this your intention?

Nope, definitely an oversight there. I should probably have said something more like "The user can control the swarm mentally for 10 rounds, after which the swarm dissipates."

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka DankeSean

This was a neat item that I voted for a few times, mostly for rather than against. Gambit-style throwing card items have tried to get their foot in the door of this contest before, if I recall previous years also-rans and critique thread items, but this is the first one to succeed at that, so congratulations. Part of me wishes you'd spelled out potential interaction with the Deadly Dealer feat, but I guess that's unnecessary since you've already taken Arcane Strike into account and that's mostly what Deadly Dealer works off of. The secondary nova power was, I think, essential to make this stand out from being just another thrown card wondrous item, and I think you did a good job of tying that nova into the Calistrian theme (regardless of alignment differences between hellwasps and Calistria). Congratulations!

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Demiurge 1138

I typically downvoted this one, because it's more weapon than it is wondrous. The nova ability is awesome, though. Your clarifications on the wording of some aspects are certainly helpful, but illustrate one of the keys to this competition--be as precise with language as you can. Tighten it up, and you have mojo to spare for the monster round.

Congratulations, and best of luck in Round 2!


Sean McGowan wrote:
This was a neat item that I voted for a few times, mostly for rather than against. Gambit-style throwing card items have tried to get their foot in the door of this contest before, if I recall previous years also-rans and critique thread items, but this is the first one to succeed at that, so congratulations. Part of me wishes you'd spelled out potential interaction with the Deadly Dealer feat, but I guess that's unnecessary since you've already taken Arcane Strike into account and that's mostly what Deadly Dealer works off of. The secondary nova power was, I think, essential to make this stand out from being just another thrown card wondrous item, and I think you did a good job of tying that nova into the Calistrian theme (regardless of alignment differences between hellwasps and Calistria). Congratulations!

Deadly Dealer was obviously part of the inspiration for the item, but I didn't want to key my item off of something from a lesser-known book, so I decided to keep it using only Arcane Strike. A character with the Deadly Dealer feat wouldn't actually find much use for this item, since it requires a Standard action to activate and throw a single card, and they can theoretically throw multiple cards per turn with a similar benefit instead.

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

Congratulations Tyler,

The imagery is evocative and well visualized. I dinnae like the 54 weapons or 34 weapons and a swarm, it wasn't innovative enough me. Maybe if it was not a deck of cards this would have been better for me.

Keep up the imagery and tight themes, you can do well. Good luck! :)


Curaigh wrote:

Congratulations Tyler,

The imagery is evocative and well visualized. I dinnae like the 54 weapons or 34 weapons and a swarm, it wasn't innovative enough me. Maybe if it was not a deck of cards this would have been better for me.

Keep up the imagery and tight themes, you can do well. Good luck! :)

Thanks for the feedback, Curaigh. I was definitely hoping that the imagery and the "I can be Gambit!" nature of the item would pull it through, and I'm obviously happy to see that it did. I think that you'll be much more impressed with the innovation I've put into my monster (at least I hope so!)

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

As others have said, Calistria does always seem to get a love in RPG Superstar. I wonder whether when that will get boring? Definitely not with this item, which is one of my favourites in the top 32; really cinematic, especially the swarm attack. And I can’t really follow Patrick’s complaint about tracking ammunition - don’t you do that anyway with wand charges, arrows, sling stones etc? The handing out real cards is a nice solution to something that isn’t really a problem.

Deck of Many Stings, that makes me chuckle – I think that’s what I’ll be calling this item if I ever come into possession of one.

Look forward to seeing your monster – hopefully it’s not a werewolverine with adamantine claw attacks!

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8

I liked this one and upvoted it often. Coll flavour with fitting effects.

Congrats!

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 wasn't a fan of this. I felt that a) it skirted the rules by essentially being a weapon, b) as pointed out, it says you can control the swarm as if using summon swarm, yet that spell calls out that you have no control over the swarm, to me that's a big misstep that the designer should have caught, and c) why was this a deck of cards? How does that relate to Calistria as a goddess of passion and revenge?

Best of luck in round 2, but I hope you submitted something that doesn't break the rules like this comes close to, since it will likely cost you votes.


@Joel: Thanks for the feedback! I'm sorry that you weren't a fan of my item, and I definitely hope to wow you with my monster later today. :)

As far as how it relates to Calistria, I was thinking that the revenge part of her portfolio probably is amenable to hired assassins worshipping her, and possibly her clergy would have the need for subterfuge and sneaky ways of hiding weapons on their person after being frisked, or in another type of situation where their weapons might have been taken from them (such as a ball or something like that). I am saddened that you think my item skirted the rules, because that was definitely not my intent (and I think that the developers would agree with me that it is without a doubt a wondrous item, not a weapon, rules-wise).


BTW, if there are other people sitting around in bad weather as I am, waiting (im)patiently for our monsters to be posted, please feel free to give me some more feedback on my item to pass the time! I'm planning to jump into a few other threads and give feedback on items that I liked while I sit at home, instead of twiddling my thumbs. :)

Community / Forums / Archive / Paizo / RPG Superstar™ / Previous Contests / RPG Superstar™ 2014 / Open Call: Design a wondrous item / Deck of the Hellwasp's Sting All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in Open Call: Design a wondrous item