Gossiper's Gourd


Open Call: Design a wondrous item

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8 aka Jrcmarine

Gossiper’s Gourd
Aura moderate divination and enchantment; CL 7th
Slot none; Price 14,500 gp; Weight 1 lb.
Description
This drinking gourd has a long slender neck capped with a tethered cork and is banded with a leather strap for hanging on a belt or pack. It has carved images of a mouth whispering into an ear on one side and a drinking well on the other.

The gourd allows a wearer who is untrained in Knowledge (local) to make checks as if they were trained. When filled with water from a village well or other local watering source, it grants the wearer a +2 insight bonus on Knowledge (local) skill checks and allows the wearer to speak and understand the local language. These abilities persist as long as the gourd has at least one draught of local water in it.

Drinking a draught from a gossiper's gourd filled with local water grants the imbiber a +5 insight bonus on all Bluff, Diplomacy, Knowledge (local) and Sense Motive skill checks for one hour. Once per day, after drinking a draught from the gourd, the imbiber may start a rumor by planting an idea or suspicion in the mind of one local person (DC 12 Will to negate). This effect is similar to that produced by sow thought except the target must be from the local area.

Mixing local and non-local water renders the gourd inert until it is emptied and dried for 3 hours. No more than four draughts may be drunk from a gourd in a single day.

Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, share language, sow thought, whispering lore, creator must have at least 5 ranks in Knowledge (local) and Linguistics; Cost 7,250 gp

Paizo Employee Developer

Cool ability. Flavorful and non-combative, which I like. Sloppy rules language (wearer? draught?).

How many draughts can it hold at a time? Seems like just one. The omission of this simple fact is enough to get a reject from me. Shame, since it seems like a neat idea.

Weak reject

Publisher, EN Publishing aka Russell Morrissey

Four droughts, I think, though that language isn't very clear.

I like this one a lot. As Patrick says, non-combat, which is nice. Nice flavour.

Weak keep.

Paizo Employee Associate Editor

Finally, a flavorful item for social characters! The rules wording could be tighter and I might condense some of the abilities, since there's a lot of closely related effects, but I like it.

Weak keep.

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

I saw your item early in the voting process and liked it right off. Glad to see it made the top 32. Good Luck and Congrats.

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

While I liked this item, I saw another item that had similar effects but was more colorful and bumped this one from my like/keep lists. Both were non-combat items that took big risks by taking some narrative control away from the GM; this one played it safer by being more of a spell/bonus-in-a-can.

This doesn't take away from the fun flavor and practical uses--it's equally at home as a unique character's signature item and as a manufacturable specialty, which is (to me) the sweet spot for wondrous items.

I'll be looking for this same wit in the monster round. Good luck!

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka primemover003

This is a great item that hammers on one of the three phases of adventuring: Roleplaying, Exploration, & Combat. A really good adventure touches on all three and the gossiper's gourd can make entering a new town a lot easier, especially for characters that move around a lot. I love RP/ skill encounters and this items fills that niche perfectly.

--Vrock on!

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

Congratulations and Good Luck in the next round!

Shadow Lodge Star Voter Season 6

Saying 4 draughts is guesswork. There's no indication at all, and I agree on the bizarre wording. I'm in pretty much complete agreement with everything Patrick said here.

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

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I play games with a great deal of political intrigue at times. I can see the utility of this but didn't really see this making top 32 based on the cinematic qualities that seemed to dominate previous contests. The visuals I've come to expect the judges to expect weren't there. That is not a criticism just an observation that the judging aesthetics shifted with new judges.

Nice utility, I could see it in my kingmaker game. Congrats and good luck.

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I don't like skill bumping items - they're boring and kind of skill-in-a-can boosts. However, this was one of my favorite entries because of its execution. I love the idea of water-drawers' gossip somehow imbuing the well water with local knowledge. This one brought me back to the first days of D&D, when everything seemed wondrous and magical and nobody fought about rules (much). It's nice to have a social item and it solves the problem that knowledge(local) has for me, in that one can't possibly be local everywhere. Thanks for this and good luck in the next round.

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

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Treppa nicely stated my feelings about this item. :)

Congratulations and good luck in the monster round!

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8 aka Jrcmarine

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thank you all so very much! As I left work today and was finally able to look online and see my item in the top 32 I whooped out loud and fist-pumped. I haven't felt this giddy about a competition in a long time. I appreciate all of the feedback and plan on responding as soon as I have my monster completed. Again I am excited, overwhelmed and so very eager to share the crazy, creepy things that rattle around in my brain!

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

This was, without a doubt, my favorite item I saw while voting. Just based on theme and "wondrousness". Congrats.

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

I came across this item during voting and was intrigued by it then, though I don't recall if I actually really liked it.

Having reviewed the other 32, I think it is one of my favorite.

Thank you too, as Judy pointed out, an item for the social character!

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

I love non-combat items...but this one was not my favorite social encounter item.

As has been said...it IS flavorful and colorful I just didn't like the mechanics of it. The name was good.

Tighten up your mechanics (and swing hard) for the monster, though, and you might be a powerhouse contender! Looking forward to seeing what you bring.

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

This is a very flavorful item with a good concept, but the mechanics are a little wibbly. How much water can the gourd hold? A bit more precision with the language, and this would be one of my favorites.

Congratulations, and best of luck in Round 2!

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

Congratulations James!
Though I wanted some more than a skill bump I think the water well/gossip was well matched premise.

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

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Way cool intrigue/social/investigative item. Loved its different uses, and the thematics of using the local water (after all we are all part of the water- and evapotranspiration/transpiration cycle) is fabulous.

Definitely a designer with some creativity and applied imagination.

Congratulations and keep up the creativity!!!

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

I only saw this once, and that's too bad, because while I originally wasn't a fan I think this would have grown on me big time. I am a fan of social-themed items, but initially this didn't grab me; I think I wrote it off as just another skill bonus type. It wasn't till I saw it again (in the top 32...) that I really started to think about how fun the rumormongering power could be.
So belated apologies from me on underestimating this at first sight. Congratulations.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8 aka Jrcmarine

ALRIGHT!!! So now that my obsessing over my monster is done, I would like to take some time to respond to all of you awesome people.

First of all- thank you again for those of you who really enjoyed my item and shared such wonderful praise. The following is a VERY long post so I have added tags to the different things I addressed.

Long paragraph about my love of social interaction in RPGs.

Spoiler:
I am so happy that my "social" item was so well received. My favorite parts of role-playing are the conversations with NPCs that we as players have and we as GMs get to play out. I will never forget the adventure I GM'd for my parents, who wanted to know why I liked D&D so much and agreed to create characters and play a session. I believe I was 13 or 14 at the time. Neither of them had played before or since. My father, who was a professional actor, played an elven wizard. As the party stopped at the typical "Inn/tavern" for the evening, my father, who had never played D&D before, decided his character was going to use his good looks to butter the female innkeeper up for information, free room & board and of course a little nookie! The dialogue and interaction he had was inspiring and really changed the way I approach and play role-playing games. I was a self-identified munchkin prior to that experience. Since then I really focus on the flavor of the character, regardless of class, fighting or spell-casting ability, or game system. So my gourd was born of that love of interaction. As an aside- I had an entirely different item already created and ready to submit to the competition. In fact I spent a lot of time on that item (it too was a "social" item). But I woke up in the morning and had the idea of using local water to learn and influence the local populace. From there it took me one day to create the item, revise it, fret over it, and finally submit it.

Responses to critiques/mechanics questions:
How many draughts are in a .....

Spoiler:
The gourd can hold up to four draughts at one time. I thought by saying no more than four draughts could be drunk per day that it was clear; however it definitely isn't clear. I should have stated that the gourd only holds four doses, gulps... I actually really struggled with what word to use there, which was a little silly . I was mostly worried about someone confusing a gulp with a sip. I also am a flavor junkie and thought draught had more flavor to it than gulp or dose. I should have used dose and been done with it.

Wearer vs. Imbiber

Spoiler:
Ok so I am not sure if there is a mechanic already created for what I wanted to happen here. When a person fills the gourd with local water and straps it to their belt, slings it around their shoulder, or even attaches it to their pack I wanted one set of powers to enact. Those are the first powers described- Knowledge (local) boost and "limited comprehend languages/tongues". I wanted those powers to only work if a person physically had the gourd on their person. The gourd gives the "wearer" Knowledge (local). The combination of the local water and gourd give the "wearer" the Knowledge (local) boost and speaking ability.

I then wanted a second set of powers to activate if you actually drank the water. This second set of powers are separate from the first meaning drinking the water doesn't give you the first set of powers. I also wanted the second set of powers to give a BIG boost because you are actually "drinking the koolaid" so to speak. Hence my use of imbiber. Of course if the imbiber isn't wearing the gourd and doesn't know the local language, drinking the water won't be as useful, which was done on purpose.
I maybe overthought this one too much but I really wanted the distinction between having the gourd on your person versus drinking from the gourd and I didn't know of the proper wording for this.I didn't want the entire party drinking from the gourd, re-filling it, rinse, repeat, spread 10,000 rumors, get free tongues/comprehend languages for the party.

Rumor mongering

Spoiler:
The whole idea of this item was to make it possible for players to not only gather reliable information of the local community but also to spread false information themselves as well as discern the truth of rumors. As a confessed skill-monkey I immediately thought,"ooooo skill bonus to Bluff, Diplomacy, Knowledge (local), Perform, and Sense Motive!!! I ultimately removed Perform, although I still like having it in there. I will be honest, most of the time when it comes to the role-playing of social encounters, the majority of GMs do not make me roll the dice because I act it out. Even doing that I still sometimes have to roll depending onthe situation. However many players are not comfortable acting it out or don't have the gift for that area of RPGs. So the gourd really helps those individuals while also encouraging them to experience that side of the game. I added the spell because it did exactly what I wanted the item to do and sometimes no matter how much you role-play, you need magic to accomplish your goal.

I am not sure if there were other mechanical problems with the item. If so please post them. If you have other questions or comments please post them as well. I am using all of this as a learning experience. As players and GMs all of your input is important because ultimately all of you are the ones who will receive/use an item, play a character class, encounter a monster, use my map or hopefully play my scenario.

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

I don’t feel too excited about this one, and I’m not sure why, as James certainly came up with a really imaginative idea. I think, as Garrett, pointed out, the item has a lot of potential to take narrative control out of the GM’s hands.

Also James, let me get this straight, at 13 you DMed your father getting his elven wizard laid in a tavern whilst your mother was sitting at the same table! That certainly sends my eyebrows wriggling in a weird way. I’m a grown man but the thought of my Dad even considering nookie gives a variety of debilitating Pathfinder conditions. I can only genuinely commend you and your family for their outlook on life!

It was great reading your thought processes behind the item creation, it makes me wish I could love the gourd more, but I’m really looking forward to seeing your monster now.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8 aka Jrcmarine

James Conder wrote:


Also James, let me get this straight, at 13 you DMed your father getting his elven wizard laid in a tavern whilst your mother was sitting at the same table! That certainly sends my eyebrows wriggling in a weird way. I’m a grown man but the thought of my Dad even considering nookie gives a variety of debilitating Pathfinder conditions. I can only genuinely commend you and your family for their outlook on life!

It was great reading your thought processes behind the item creation, it makes me wish I could love the gourd more, but I’m really looking forward to seeing your monster now.

I may have been 15 or 16 by that point. Don't misinterpret me, please! My Dad did not go into specifics, nor did he overtly ask or indicate his intention to *ahem* spend the night with the innkeeper. Everything was inferred or implied, depending on your point of view. I also forgot to mention that my little sister also created a character and was playing at the table. BTW she had no idea what was going on, the innuendo was above her head. I also should add that my mother was involved in the theater as well. They both viewed playing their characters as just another role on a stage. That being said, yes my parents were very open about things like that. Unfortunately, my mom passed away in 2012 and I really miss her and her opinion on my writing. I would have bounced the non-technical ideas of the gourd off her as well as my monster. I know her opinion would have greatly enriched my entries. I still have my Dad and he was very pleased and proud that I made it to the round of 32!

The two things during that session that really impacted me were my dad's off the cuff delivery of dialogue and his total disregard for the stereotypical haughty elven attitude. The first is thankfully a talent he passed on to me and to this day I always have respect for those who really get into their character and are able to speak as their character would speak with no hitches or hesitation. The second wasn't something he did deliberately. My Dad had no pre-conceived ideas as to how an elf would act, so he played the character as he saw the character, regardless of race. It was the first time I thought,"Huh! I guess not all elves are the same!" I know this doesn't sound like it should be that much of an epiphany, but for someone who was immersed in all the classics of fantasy and traditional AD&D dogma, it was very impactful.

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

While I'm only lukewarm to the item as a whole, that's really just personal preference. Great job targeting a less supported niche with a low cost social based item that isn't simply a static bonus to skill checks.

My concerns with the item are that while it's implied that the bonuses it gives are only for the community where the water comes from, many of the actual mechanical benefits don't say so. The way it's written you can fill it up in town, then go adventure and in the 8th level of a mega dungeon a continent away, drink it for the +5 to bluff to feint in combat against all foes for the next hour. I would limit the bonuses to within the town/city limits, and also exclude feinting from the application of bonus to bluff for that matter.

I did like the great theme of bonuses to local social skills by filling up at the local well, which is the center of town gossip, great job there!

Based on your item choice, it seems you'll have a leg up on the urban monster for round 2!

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

@ James; I'm suitably inspired! Next Christmas I'll be making my 60 year old parents sit down and play an RPG for the first time in their lives; and let's see what becomes of us . . .

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

Template Fu Review 2014 - James Casey - Gossiper's Gourd

Template Fu boilerplate: I have yet to make Top 32, therefore much of what follows is from someone learning from your item and may include suggestions you might agree with or not. Please consider anything suggested with your critical designer mind and know that nothing here is personal, it is about your item not you. I try to be thorough every year, taking an hour or more per item, so I hope you find something of value in the review that follows.

Name: I did struggle with the name of this one and it is entirely not your fault! Gossip in the area of the world I live has changed over the years to be quite a negative thing, probably due to the "gossip magazines" making such talk seem seedy and unfitting. I have mentioned it though as it is a good example of how innocent seeming words can be viewed differently in other cultures and areas of the world. I don't think it is an easy thing to avoid, you simply can't be aware of such for all cultures and creeds. Also, due to my localized understanding of gossip, I was expecting some item that might embellish or misinform in some manner, so although the name has reasonable tie to the effects it produces, it fell a little short for me.
Template Fu scores you 7/10 on this.

Template Usage: Perfect template use, including the other requirements wording! You have obviously checked the errata and template use very thoroughly. Well done. The price feels right to me, so I won't need to investigate further on that. I found some of the spells a little odd, for example...
There is the implication that mixed races in the same settlement all speak in a "common" language of the settlement rather than in their native tongue when dealing with members of the same race. This was highlighted by choosing share language rather than communal share language - in the fantasy world, most villages and towns would have some mixed languages being spoken, so for me the second spell could have explained away this perceived oddity. That said, it is rare to find a settlement that doesn't speak "common", so you could have saved some words too by simply removing this spell altogether - the oddity I found was only found because my attention was drawn to it.
For me, sow thought can be dropped in it's entirety, including the effect without harming the item design, it currently feels "tacked on" and as I can understand the "local language", I can use Bluff quite easily to spread rumors should I need to, especially as I already get a +5 bonus to it.
Leaving the just perfect choice of whispering lore - this is the only spell that this item really needs.
Template Fu scores you 8/10 on this.

Game Balance: Ok, on the whole the item is just a skill bonus item with set limits to the bonus duration. So the game effect is rather bland, fortunately the application of the effect, the mechanism and visuals save you. The theme of the item, that core idea behind it, is very cool - unfortunately, most role play items descend into skill bonus items by their very nature, so you were fighting an uphill struggle on this one.
My only gut reaction is that the duration seems overly long, when you drink the water, it is likely for a very specific need to use the skills you get bonuses on for a short time/encounter, so an hour feels way too much.
Template Fu scores you 7/10 on this.

Cinematics:
Sight - check, very good imagery.
Sound - you could have mentioned the sound of a full gourd, but I don't feel strongly enough for it to be a problem.
Smell - not applicable unless the gourd has been made of some material that might have an aroma.
Taste - not applicable unless the water is chilled or purified or altered in some way that taste could detect.
Touch - What is it made of - china, bone, scale?
Cinematic Summary I would be tempted to make it a water skin though - most adventurers are seen with water skins - a gourd would stand out in many regions of the land. As a water skin, it would slip under the radar of casual observation more than a gourd would, and I get the feeling that this item is intended to be a "hidden advantage" item that "hides in plain sight".
Template Fu scores you 16/20 on this.

Musings, Meme, and One Step Further:
The sentence structures in the description at times felt like "reaching for" sentences - by which I mean that I can see and understand where you were heading, you just hadn't quite tightened the wording down to simply state what needs to be stated. One thing that might have helped you - look at the wording of potions - these get held/drunk and so the standard wording used on potions could have been brought into your item as it is a drinking based item.
One step further - you could have also allowed other settlement water sources to be used, e.g. a stream - but because the water is flowing, the knowledge could be limited. Also what about a settlement that is abutting a fresh water lake - they have no well because they have a lake.
Template Fu scores you 16/20 on this.

Your final score for this item is 54/70, or 77% - I expect nothing less from you!

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8 aka Jrcmarine

As always, thank you oh master of the fu. I have been eagerly awaiting your review, and you did not disappoint! I might PM you if that is ok. I had a couple of questions for you.

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

Not a problem. Fire away :)

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