Horned Helm of the Wild Stag

Open Call: Design a wondrous item

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

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Horned Helm of the Wild Stag
Aura moderate enchantment and transmutation; CL 7th
Slot head; Price 14,000 gp; Weight 3 lbs.
Numerous antlers protrude from this ornate leather helmet, displaying an impressive array of bony points in all directions. The wearer’s features subtly elongate as his appearance becomes lithe and stag-like. He gains a +2 dodge bonus to AC against attacks of opportunity.

Once per day when the wearer charges an enemy or attempts an overrun combat maneuver, he may summon dozens of spectral stags to accompany him through his movement. These ghostly stags stampede around him in a frenzy of rage, with the unmistakable sound of pounding hooves. The stags are completely intangible, cannot be attacked, and disappear at the end of the charge or maneuver. The herd of stags attempts to gore or trample any creature that is within 5 feet of the wearer at any point during his movement, excluding the wearer himself. Although these attacks cause no physical damage, each affected creature must succeed at a Will save (DC 16) or be overcome by the frenzy of the rampaging herd for one round. Overcome creatures must use their turns to charge the nearest valid target (including a creature’s allies as potential targets), if possible. Creatures unable to charge instead move away from the wearer of the helm as quickly as possible. This is a mind-affecting compulsion effect.

Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, Aspect of the Stag, Moonstruck, Summon Nature’s Ally II; Cost 7,000 gp

Paizo Employee Developer

Eyes kind of glazed over near the middle of that big paragraph. Cool ability, nonetheless.

I don't know where writers get the idea of capitalizing spells. We don't do that in the books.

Price seems about right. Overall neat item.

weak keep/keep

Publisher, EN Publishing aka Russell Morrissey

Format's for editors. I'm not worried about that!

I like it. It reminds me of something, but I can't place it. I find the compulsion to charge someone else a bit odd, though; I get it, but the image doesn't quite work for me. I guess if there was a target "downstream" of the stags it would make more sense, but the thought of some guy suddenly running off to the side or upstream doesn't quite work for me.

Weak keep.

Paizo Employee Associate Editor

It's the wild hunt meets cloud of confusion! Cool idea, though some of the flavor text in the second paragraph really needs to be trimmed, as it threatens to bury the rules. Erastilians would dig this.


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

Of the items I saw in voting, this was by far my favorite. Flavorful, useful, and a cool effect.

Scarab Sages Dedicated Voter Season 7

For some reason it made me think of the wildebeest stampede from The Lion King. While I didn't personally find the item all that interesting, I knew it would be in the top 32. Out of all the items I voted for, this one was the one I expected to see.

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

I really like this item!, I remember voting for it many times, Congrats on top 32!

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka motteditor

This was another of my favorite items -- just loved the flavor on it. The visuals are impressive. Congratulations, Mark!

Paizo Employee Associate Editor

Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
This was another of my favorite items -- just loved the flavor on it. The visuals are impressive. Congratulations, Mark!

One of mine, too! Onya!

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

Great flavor, but it doesn't seem to do much, so it slipped off my like/keep list. Like Pamela, I figured it'd make the Top 32 even if it didn't always win my vote.

Good luck in the next round, and congratulations!

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

I really enjoyed this item. I love when abilities mesh with specific combat actions. I can see many cavaliers using this helm as well as Erastilians.

Good job Mark. Can't wait to see your monster in round 2.

--Vrock horns

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 must confess, I was intrigued by the item and its visuals...but I just didn't like it that much. The faux confusion aspect (without the spell being used in construction) and the forced charge mechanic just didn't vibe with me.

Keep the visuals but make sure to not lose the mechanics in the fluff!

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!

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Morphemic

Thank you to the voters and judges for selecting my item, and for the kind words on this thread. I'm thrilled to get another chance at this. Since I'd like to do better than I did last year, I guess I better focus on my monster for a while. I'll come back here to comment more when I have 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

There was an item with a similar theme I enjoyed a little more but this did get its share of upvotes from me. Congrats on making top 32 and Good luck.

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

Out of several "invoke ghostly animal" items from this year, this was my favorite, and I voted for it often.

Congratulations and best of luck in the monster round!

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

This is kind of a fun item in that it's most effective when inviting attacks of opportunity. I think I like this better as a GM than as a player. :D

Good luck with your monster!

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

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I did not see this item while voting. Glad I got a chance to see it after voting. Good Luck.

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 this a few times and its creative visuals are what won me over. You got several up votes from me, Good Luck now that you are in the Top 32.

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

Now I like me some cool visuals, and the name rocks, but the writeup just made me bug out about halfway through and it seemed more like a spell effect with a strange bonus tacked on. It doesn't wow me, but that name is cool.

Congratulations and let's see you get further than last time! :)

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Mark, I didn't get to see your item during public voting, but I saw one with similar abilities. I liked that one, but now, reading yours, I confess I like yours better. Very evocative visuals, nice abilities overall, though I'm with Russell Morrissey when he says that the compulsion to charge seems a little weird.

Congratulations on making the Top 32 (again!) and good luck!

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

Can't say I was a huge fan of this item. The contagious charging is somewhat weird, but I can accept that. What I dislike is how thoroughly the flavor text outpaces the mechanics. Flavor that impressive needs a bit more mechanical oomph to back it up.

Congratulations, and best of luck in Round 2. Do us 2013 veterans proud!

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I approve.

Another of my personal top 32. Congratulations. Looking forward to seeing your offering in the monster round.

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

Congratulations Mark,

This is in my keeper file, I love the image of illusion stags and the compulsion to join the hunt was very Dresden. It did get a little wordy, but thanks for declaring the no-damage dealt, I think that would throw a ton of tables into a ruling tail-spin off.

Good luck on R2! :)

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 nice one, for me. Not a favorite, but usually a very solid upvote. I always liked the 'join the wild hunt or become its prey' aspect of wild hunt folklore, so I like the representation of that here; still, I'm in agreement that victims charging off in whichever direction seems odd; a tighter adherence to the theme might have been to charge the nearest creature in whichever direction the wearer and stags are already moving. Regardless, a fun & evocative item. Congratulations!

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. Beautiful visuals and potentiality for interesting mayhem on the battlefield.

Congrats for making it to the top 32.

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

I agree with Sean and Russell about the strange direction of fleeing enemies, but this remains one of my top three of this year's batch. I want one.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Morphemic

Thanks again to everyone who voted for me. I'm excited to see that some people ranked this among the top items this year.

I finally have a chance to talk about my own item. I guess I'll quickly explain my design process and then address some of the issues raised in the comments.

I started my design this year by looking for a cinematic image around which to build. Somehow an image of charging stags popped into my mind (I think I had seen it most recently in a cartoon). An item that summoned stags would be the only way to create that image in this round. The idea that this item would be a helmet with antlers was obvious based on that previous choice. And the idea that the wearer and the stags would charge together also followed with little effort.

I was originally imagining that the helm would summon real, physical stags, but when I was trying to translate that into game mechanics, all I could see the stags doing was some damage, and maybe knocking the target prone. That wouldn't have been a superstar item. But then I thought about the wild hunt mythology for the first time in my design process and realized that some kind of compulsion effect fit perfectly for such an item. I also realized that a compulsion item would work better if the physical stags were removed, so I changed them to spectral stags.

The exact design of the compulsion effect was chosen to make it useful, tactically interesting, on-theme for the item, and different from any existing spell effect. I think I mostly succeeded with this and it wasn't too difficult to design.

I also knew that since this ability would be best balanced if it were only usable once per day, the helm needed another power. Luckily, when I was looking at spells to use as prerequisites, I noticed aspect of the stag and realized that the bonus against attacks of opportunity that it granted would be perfect for my item, since it encouraged the wearer to run past as many enemies as possible. So the whole item ended up fitting together very well.

I actually chose the name for my item after reading the forum thread about alliterative item names. The part at the end where several posters stated a preference for two words of alliteration plus some other words inspired my name.

As for the specific comments, I'm kind of embarrassed about the capitalized spell names, since I know better (I got that right last year). Regarding that flavor text being too wordy -- I was worried that when I compared it to my wintertide candle from last year that this item was lighter on clever game mechanics, so I ended up compensating for this by emphasizing the cinematic and thematic aspects of the item as much as I could. Maybe I took it a little too far, but I'm very happy with how the item reads as it is.

Several of you also mentioned that it was strange that affected creatures might run in any direction. I agree from a thematic perspective, but I feel like I had to sacrifice that to make the mechanics viable. As it is, the item requires a very specific tactical setup to be used to its greatest effect, and forcing a charging direction would amplify this problem.

I'd be happy to chat about any of this more if anyone wants to.

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 - Mark Nordheim - Horned Helm of the Wild Stag

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: The name construct is one of the "of the" name types. This is one of those polarizing constructs because it can cause the reader to ask things like "Wild Stag... hmmm. Is that a Golarion Diety or Legend? Or is it just a male deer in the wild? Aren't all stags wild?" - Now this isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially when referring to Golarion lore, as it provides a focus for the name, but when it isn't setting tied and is a natural thing, it can be distracting. In this instance, I actually like the name but I think it was worth mentioning why this name construct can be a problem.
Template Fu scores you 9/10 on this.

Template Usage: At first, I thought the template use was immaculate, even to the point of checking that the weight of your helm matched existing helms in the game, which it does! Then you fell at the last hurdle, the spells list - a common hurdle that catches many. You did order your spells alphabetically which is the most common thing to get wrong, but you capitalized them, if you look at existing items, the Feats are capitalized, the spells are not. I can hear the sound of crunching, it looks like Template Fu is eating a couple of your points for this.
I struggled a little with your initial description - most stags have two antlers protruding from their heads, branching into bony points as they lengthen and age, yet your description says that numerous antlers protrude. This was a bit of a suspend belief bump, antlers are quite large and heavy, so numerous antlers would be even heavier and would have to branch from strange angles from the helmet in order to fit more than two. I think one more pass and you would have caught this yourself.
Template Fu scores you 7/10 on this.

Game Balance: Hmmm, dozens of spectral stags, in a 10 foot wide corridor. I can see why you used this imagery, but just a few would have lessened my spacing concerns - a stag is quite a large creature, o dozens of them will need far more space than first thought - in fact dozens of them is probably equivalent to a good size herd! When designing items of summoning, always consider the spacial requirements that such summoning might need.
I like that it doesn't distinguish between ally or for on the charge, but coupled with the spatial concern, in tight spaces, this could be very bad for everyone.
What happens when there are more than one nearest target to charge, does the affected creature then get free choice as to which to charge or not - and what if the nearest target is too close to be a valid charge target, but there are other targets that are far enough away to be charged - charging the farther way target might provoke additional attacks, making the effect even more deadly than it originally sounds on first reading.
I love that you mention it is mind affecting, so those immune to mind affecting effects can continue as normal, but it's position tends to imply it is the must charge effect that is mind affecting and not the initial effect that is mind affecting. A slight rewording would clarify this I think, so no biggie, just be aware is all that needs to be said.
Template Fu scores you 7/10 on this.

Sight - check, good imagery - unfortunately for me, I pet battle a lot in World of Warcraft - those rabbit/rat/etc. charges sprang to mind immediately when reading the description, which for me was off putting. No fault of yours, just my own experience triggering off your description.
Sound - check - I loved the inclusion of the stampede sound of pounding hooves, well done.
Smell - doesn't apply because the summoned stags are spectral rather than real.
Taste - doesn't apply for this item
Touch - missed opportunity - I think with the current description, you could have applied some sort of balance penalty for the weight of numerous antlers sprouting from your helmet as the weight of them might drag you to one side during fast movement - they grow at odd angles and so wouldn't be a uniform balanced weight.
Cinematic Summary I like the imagery (once I get passed my Pet Battle realization), and it looks like a fun, chaotic item.
Template Fu scores you 16/20 on this.

Musings, Meme, and One Step Further:
I wonder if there should be some sort of "when life is threatened, the compulsion is broken / grants another save", for example, your nearest valid target is on a cliff edge that is crumbling (or has lept onto a boulder in a lava flow), charging that target would spell your doom - yeah, I think it needs some sort of "get out of jail" option for those sorts of situations.
Being charged causing a need to charge back kind of fails to gel, as Russell said, it's an image that doesn't quite work or make sense - what you could have done is used the spectral herd to carry away the target a 10 or 15 feet leaving them confused in their new location - this would make things more in theme with what being charged by a herd would likely do.
Template Fu scores you 15/20 on this.

Your final score for this item is 57/70, or 74% - A very solid item whose secondary effect could be revisited. Well done!

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