Bosun's Call


Open Call: Design a wondrous item

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan

Aura moderate abjuration and transmutation; CL 8th
Slot none; Price 12,000 gp; Weight 1 lb.
Description This copper and bronze whistle is played by blowing through the mouthpiece while opening and closing the hand over the hole to modify the pitch. The whistle has 3 charges per day. By making a Perform (wind) check, as a standard action, the bearer can produce the following effects:

  • Awaken all allies within 30 feet with a DC 15 check (0 charges)
  • Awaken all allies aboard the same ship as the bearer with a DC 20 check (1 charge)
  • Convey secret messages to all allies within 60 feet (as the Bluff skill) (1 charge)
  • Perform a countersong (as the bardic performance ability) with a +2 on the Perform (wind) check (1 charge)
  • Grant up to 6 allies, no two of which can be more than 30 feet apart, climb and swim speeds of 20 feet each for 4 rounds with a DC 20 check (2 charges)
  • Grant all allies within 60’ a +5 morale bonus on Profession (sailor) checks for 10 minutes with a DC 25 check (3 charges)

If the bearer has the bardic performance class feature, he can, as a swift action, expend rounds of his bardic performance instead of charges to power the whistle.

Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, alarm, alter self, creator must have the bardic performance class ability; Cost 6,000 gp

Paizo Employee Developer

Unclear whether the item does all the things at once or one of the things. Probably the latter.

Good amount of flavor and executed well (that is, all of the flavor is self-contained in the item's title, which is a pretty impressive feat).

Not the most polished item I've ever seen. For example, does using bardic performance rounds change using the whistle into a swift action or does it make it a standard AND swift action?

Regardless, one of the more promising entries.

weak keep

Publisher, EN Publishing aka Russell Morrissey

I like the awakening/communication/morale aspects; they make sense. Giving someone the sudden ability to swim doesn't fit in with those well. I enjoy well-themed items, and this would be great in a sea-based game.

Weak keep.

Paizo Employee Associate Editor

Messy treatment of rules—for example, do the first two effects waken people from magical sleep, because if not, I promise you'd get the first effect by blasting a nonmagical whistle. But it's very flavorful, and the fact that you can power it with bardic performance makes it better value.

Weak keep.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka ChesterCopperpot

Great work! Your item was one of my favorite during voting. Name and flavor were right on.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 7

I saw this one repeatedly in the voting, and I voted for it most times that I recall. I thought the limited application (being at sea) wasn't really a problem, because sometimes, you're just at sea, and there aren't a lot of nautical items to choose from. The problem I kept seeing was that most people have the first two abilities inherent in their voices just by going "HEY YOU GUYS, WAKE UP!" And the third effect was just a regular skill check that anyone can do without a magic item. I did like the climb effect, and envisioned dozens of sailors climbing the ratlines with uncanny grace.

Glad to see this one made it. It was one of my picks.

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

Sorry, I was baffled at the mechanics here. This whistle can do all of those things at once, three times per day? Just one? Any combination of them? For what duration?

It can undo sleep on a 30-foot radius at will, since that power requires 0 charges?

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

Zahir! You made it! Congratulations and Good Luck in the next round!

Shadow Lodge Star Voter Season 6

Commonsense tells me that it's "one of" the following effects for 1 of 3 charges per day, not all of the effects at once. Would be nicer to have better wording.

The bardic performance swift action issue is important to fix. I'm not sure how I'd rule this if I saw this come up in-game.

The sleep issue is questionable throughout Pathfinder, the only hard rule I know of is that you can rouse someone affected by the slumber hex with a standard action. Presumably that means touching them, but the gist is that there is a way to actually wake them. The sleep spell has no similar wording, suggesting possibly nothing mundane wakes them (though something magical might). Considering that, a regular whistle might not work where this one should work, in all cases. That makes sense; it's a magic item, and as Judy pointed out, obviously a regular one would do the same thing.

All in all, great idea, pretty well executed.

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

The first time I saw this I was like top 32 for sure. Well done and good luck.

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Maybe we're on the same wavelength, but I liked this item and understood it perfectly! Nice item and good luck with the monsters.

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

It took me a while to decide that what I initially saw as a jumble of effects really came together nicely and fit the item's theme. I ended up voting for this consistently as voting went on.

Congratulations and good luck in the monster round!


Could have been better worded, but not hard to figure out. I liked the flavor of this one and it grew on me as the contest went on. Congratulations on getting in the Top 32. I look forward to seeing your monster.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I appreciate both the criticism and the praise.

I won't take a lot of time discussing the item at this time, as I've a monster to design and honestly I'm blown away to have made the cut to 32, so I'm woefully behind my competitors, all of whom wrote great items, and will no doubt present great monsters.

Again, thanks for the votes, thanks for the vote of confidence, and for next year's competitors, take note that three "weak keep" votes is enough to get you through round one!

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

Loved this item and its suite of complementary abilities. I think that this showcases a creative designer.

Congratulations and good luck going forward.

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

Brian, congratulations on making the Top 32!

I admit at first glance your item looks a lot like a swiss army knife of bonuses. I'm also a bit wary of conditioning the use of an item to a skill check, but that's personal.

However, I do like naval campaigns, and this item is very flavorful indeed. Also, the abilities tie toegether, and make the bosun's call seem like a plug and play bardic performance ability, which is a nice thing in my book.

Well done and good luck with the monster round!

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 was not a fan of this item during the voting. If it does all of the effects then it is WAY too much. If it does 1 or a combination then...what? I felt this was a little too sloppy and not really flavorful (I'm going to disagree about the name here). If the name is all the flavor...then to me that's not enough.

Really, really work on tightening up your writing to convey clearly what you mean and buckle down on rules...and fluff it up for R2!

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

I like the idea of a whistle as a nautical item, but agree with other voters that the mechanics are a little bit scattered. An item that granted allies within 30 feet a Climb or Swim speed would be cool enough.

Congratulations, and best of luck in Round 2!

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan

Pedro Coelho Mendes Bueno Barbosa wrote:
Brian, congratulations on making the Top 32!

Hahaha, while there are a lot of Brians in the competition, and a Bryan, I'm not one of them.

I'm a Kenneth, although most call me Tripp.

I appreciate the comments on the item, and I'm working on cleaning things up and being more concise with my monster!!

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

Oops, sorry Kenneth!

By the way, it's about time your messageboard aliases start displaying your real names! I keep going back and forth to check evreyone's names... thanks for correcting me. ;)

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

Though I'm not blown away by the item itself, I really love that this is basically a bard focused item with a way for other people to use it. Great utility there.

Good luck in future rounds!

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan

Pedro Coelho Mendes Bueno Barbosa wrote:
By the way, it's about time your messageboard aliases start displaying your real names!

Is this a setting I need to fix?

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Arkos

I thought this was a clever item that had a ton of various abilities that all meshed well together: they make sailors do sailing things better! I liked it and upvoted it when I saw it. Great work!

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

Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan wrote:
Pedro Coelho Mendes Bueno Barbosa wrote:
By the way, it's about time your messageboard aliases start displaying your real names!
Is this a setting I need to fix?

Someone at Paizo will take care of it for you.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan

Alrighty, monster submitted, so let me see if I can answer a couple questions here.

Obviously my item was a little "loosey goosey" on some mechanics, or questions wouldn't have needed to be asked.

Overall, my goal was to provide a bosun's call that might be what you'd find in a fantasy world to mirrow what appears in real life. In real life a bosun's call (variously using the terms boatswain and whistle) is used for sounding "general quarters" and other commands aboardship, to awaken the crew, etc. Witht his in mind, I needed to add some other nautical things to the item, and as an instrument, making it more useful for Bards (and I suppose Evangelist Clerics) would also be a plus. Waking people up, sending commands (like a bugle call or such), the countersong (sirens and harpys are stereotypical nautical encounters), and some seamanship abilities were what I settled on. The list had been longer, but I thought it made the item too powerful, and lost focus with those others. As an added goal, I wanted the item to focus on things nautical, but have utility for other campaigns as well. Ok, so to address some questions.

I'm pretty sure I followed a template on a charged item, but I forget which I used.

It was my INTENT that each round, as a standard action, you could accomplish one, and only one, of the abilities. Although the second ability clearly accomplishes the first as well.

It was my intent that both of the first two abilities could awaken the magically asleep.

It is not clear to me that all GMs would rule that just a regular whistle would always accomplish the first ability.

On some vessels the first ability might be sufficient. On a huge man-o-war, 300 feet long, with 400 crew, the second ability of awakening the entire crew with a tug on the whistle seemed a logical growth of the ability. This ability is the only one that by design and definition accomplishes nothing ashore.

The bluff skill already has a secret message capability, and I felt that the bosun's call could use that mechanic seemlessly, but with a performance check. I was a bit stymied that Versatile Performance didn't have perform(wind) replace bluff, so I largely ignored that and pressed on. The intent here is to just have your perm check replace bluff, and I hope that was clear in the item.

The fourth ability alone could be helpful for any party without a Bard, as it brings Countersong along with it. Even a Bard can use the +2, although they'd get that with a MW instrument anyways.

The movement ability seemed very nautical. Need men up in the rigging? Abandon ship? Man overboard? And still an item that grants climb and swim can be used in a forest, or elsewhere. This ability is the one that most concerned me for cost, because movement speeds can completely change an encounter. I chose 6 allies specifically to permit the "average" adventuring party to be able to move as one if needed, and yet there is no requirement the user of the item be one of the 6 so blessed.

The last ability probably doesn't have a lot of use away from the sea, but you never know. Need to rig up a huge thing to suspend trees to crush that imperial walker? Maybe the GM rules that rigging and ropework like that is nautical, and thus profession (sailor)? I viewed this is an order of magnitude increase to the standard Bardic ability of Inspire Confidence for duration, affect, and number affected.

As I read the item, I'm "pretty sure" I meant a Bard could recharge the daily charges with a swift action if desired. The thing starts with 3 charges at midnight. Wake the ship up? 1 charge. Convey a message. 1 charge. Take a swift action and cram 2 charges back into it. Use the 6th ability to improve seamanship? 3 charges. Now it's empty, unless you want to charge it up again with rounds of performance.

I can definitely see how it could be read as taking the Bardic performance rounds and directly powering the whistle, which accomplishes the same intent I suppose. Like I said, and others pointed out, my mechanics were a little loose.

Did I miss any questions? It's not my intent to "defend" the item, it has flaws as presented, I'll just explain my logic, evwen if it was illogical.

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 have to admit I didn't love this one during voting. I'm not a huge fan of magic items that offer different abilities based on the results of a skill check. Still, i only saw it once, so it's possible I would have warmed to it as time went on; I do have a love of bard items, so you have my appreciation in that. But hey, my single vote means nothing at all; clearly a lot of people did love this, so congratulations!

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

Congratulations Kenneth!

I thought this was doing too much, granted most of it is limited use outside of a ship, but on a ship... why doesn't every bosun have one?

Good luck with R2! :)

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 like a lot of things with this item, and had a few things I wasn't as fond of.

Great tight theme, and the mechanics match what the item is used for. Even the swim climb speed part seems like an "instant marines" ability. I might have limited it to when within 20 feet of a body of water or something, so it's not simply an auto-climb item in dungeons, jungles, etc.

The limits are enough that this item won't be game breaking or used constantly.

However, it comes across not quite as reproducing the class abilities of a bard, but more like reproducing the abilities of a yet to be designed ship-bard archetype. Since no such archetype is around I'm aware of (at least not with these abilities), I guess that's okay, but when I read the item, I kept thinking, "this would really make a better archetype than a wondrous item."

Good job, and looking forward to your monster in R2.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I wanted to take a moment and point out that while the bosun's call violated (to varying degrees) several of SKR's rules: 1(?), 2 (to an extent), (maybe 15?), 16, and 21; and that it is clearly not an example of rule 27, but somehow getting 3 "weak keeps" enabled my item to be included in the Top 32.

I want to point this out to anyone considering their items for next year. Sean's rules are great, but I do think some of them are more guidelines than rules. Although clearly some of them are no nonsense rules, and should be held sacrosanct as such. It is important to bounce your item against the rules and determine if you might be violating the super important ones first, and then if you pass that litmus test, that you give an honest consideration on the rest of the rules, and if you decide you violate some, make sure you're ok with "breaking the rules" in those instances.

I know I was aware I violated 16 and 21 going in. Only after comments from Judges and voters did I realize I could be seen as violating 1, 2 and 15. This is just me doing an After Action on my own submissions this year, so I can try and put in stronger candidates next year, and It hought I'd share my introspective for those that might gain from it.

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 - Tripp Elliott - Bosun's Call

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: This is an odd one, it is the first name that doesn't actually hint at the base object, which for me, is not something I would encourage. My initial impression is an officer on deck bellowing between cupped hands to his ship mates which is nothing like the actual imagery conjured by the base item - the base item immediately calls to mind piping the captain aboard.
Other than that, it is the sort of item that would belong to a ship's officer, so it does make sense on the ownership implied by the name. I would have preferred seeing whistle either on the end of the current name, or in place of the word call. That said, I am pretty hopeless at naming myself, so I leave it to you to decide if you agree with my sentiment or not.
Template Fu scores you 8/10 on this.

Template Usage: At last! Food for my little Template Fu. he his happily munching away on two costly points because you didn't include the name in the main entry box of the form. This separates item from name quite a bit on the forum pages as you can see. This mistake often trips people up when adding their item name would put them over word count, so it is very important to get that right.
The remainder of the template is very well executed, but I can immediately see what looks like a table of effects in the middle of the description. This is a "Swiss Army Knife" red flag, so we will see when we study the game effects if you have avoided this trap.
Yes, that one entry mishap, is all that stood between you and a max template score. Sorry.
Template Fu scores you 8/10 on this.

Game Balance: Yes, on reflection I get that feeling of "I do it all and open a can of beans too" feeling. It's not as string as some items, but there is a touch of swiss army knife utility in this item.
We can awaken sleepers, convey secret messages (content of message only I think, the sound is a giveaway), counter song, grant skills and morale bonuses. So how could we have limited this? - let's start by looking at what is magic and what "isn't".
It's a whistle, blown hard, it will waken sleeping creatures, so we could have left the first two items in the table as a general effect of the fact it is a whistle.
These are the only two "mundane" abilities, so just by dropping these, it already would feel less Swiss Army Knife and more focused.
Performing a counter song doesn't feel right, I would probably swap this out and force a penalty to bardic performance of other targets when blown - the whistle making it harder to concentrate on their performance if you like.
With those two changes, our effects then become tightly themed around skills used by sailors and would slip nicely under my Swiss Army Knife radar.
Each power taken alone is nicely balanced, I don't really have an issue with any one power, just the number of effects and variance of those effects.
I don't really see the need to list alter self in construction as a last thought, the effects are very much perception/alarm based, so you could have just the one spell here I think.
Template Fu scores you 7/10 on this.

Cinematics:
Sight - check, good imagery - very easy to imagine and conjures strong images of the time of sailing ships.
Sound - check, we all know what a whistle sounds like, and the item as a whole is very sonic based.
Smell - doesn't really apply to the base item
Taste - missed opportunity - a copper/bronze whistle used at sea over time will likely develop a salty tang to the metal, it would have been shiny to see this mentioned.
Touch - missed opportunity - how heavy is it, copper is light, bronze, not so much. Is it smooth and shiny and cold to the touch, or rougher and sea salt encrusted?
Cinematic Summary The imagery, although quite basic, is very evocative of the great age of sail, so works really well.
Template Fu scores you 16/20 on this.

Musings, Meme, and One Step Further:
The only way I can see that you dropped the ball momentarily on this one is the piping the captain aboard use of such a whistle. This probably could have been worked into some diplomacy type effect for use when you have visiting dignitaries coming aboard.
I really like the nautical theme overall, well done.
Template Fu scores you 16/20 on this.

Your final score for this item is 55/70, or 79% - A flavorful item that just need a little narrowing of focus.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan

Anthony Adam wrote:

Template Fu Review 2014 - Tripp Elliott - Bosun's Call

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: This is an odd one, it is the first name that doesn't actually hint at the base object, which for me, is not something I would encourage. My initial impression is an officer on deck bellowing between cupped hands to his ship mates which is nothing like the actual imagery conjured by the base item - the base item immediately calls to mind piping the captain aboard.
Other than that, it is the sort of item that would belong to a ship's officer, so it does make sense on the ownership implied by the name. I would have preferred seeing whistle either on the end of the current name, or in place of the word call. That said, I am pretty hopeless at naming myself, so I leave it to you to decide if you agree with my sentiment or not.
Template Fu scores you 8/10 on this.

Template Usage: At last! Food for my little Template Fu. he his happily munching away on two costly points because you didn't include the name in the main entry box of the form. This separates item from name quite a bit on the forum pages as you can see. This mistake often trips people up when adding their item name would put them over word count, so it is very important to get that right.
The remainder of the template is very well executed, but I can immediately see what looks like a table of effects in the middle of the description. This is a "Swiss Army Knife" red flag, so we will see when we study the game effects if you have avoided this trap.
Yes, that one entry mishap, is all that stood...

Thanks Anthony. I'm guessing that you're not a sailor, and are unaware of who the bosun is? That his whistle is called a Bosun's call? That they are pretty much what I described? Used to call the crew to quarters, etc? I tried mimicking much of what the real whistle does aboard ship, as well as ad more game mechanics. Anyways, thanks for the review!

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