Deck of Falling Houses


Open Call: Design a wondrous item

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Deck of Falling Houses
Aura faint transmutation; CL 5th
Slot none; Price 5,400 gp (full deck); Weight 1/2 lb.
Description
This set of 54 cards is adorned with designs that are oddly skewed or tilted but otherwise similar to playing cards or Harrow cards. As a standard action, you can toss any number of these cards into an unoccupied space within 30 feet. In a flash of blue light, the cards transform into half-inch-thick, 5-by-10-foot sheets of opaque crystal with colors and motifs matching the original cards.

The transformed cards arrange themselves into a contiguous structure of your choice, such as a wall, tower or bridge, and become joined along the edges. At least one of the cards must merge with a permanent solid surface. The seams become magically hardened, allowing even the most absurdly imbalanced structures with improbable angles to remain standing indefinitely.

However, if a transformed card is destroyed (hardness 5, hp 15, Break DC 18), dispelled or hit by a severe wind (31+ mph), the magic starts to unravel and all cards in that structure become unstable. Each creature that starts its turn on or moves onto an unstable card must succeed on a DC 10 Acrobatics check or fall prone. One round later, the cards burst in a shower of crystalline dust and cannot be used again.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, mage hand, make whole, shrink item; Cost 2,700 gp

Paizo Employee Developer

More cards, yay.

Cards that make a wall? Kinda neat.

This is quite expensive for a one-use item... Still, it's kinda neat, and its usefulness is limited only by the user's creativity.

One of the stronger card items I've seen.

Weak keep

Paizo Employee Associate Editor

Not that expensive given it's 54 single-use items that could each have a fairly long duration. Not super exciting, but clean writing, flexible in its application, and the mechanics are straightforward.

Keep.

Publisher, EN Publishing aka Russell Morrissey

Yeah, works for me. I like card items more than the billion cloaks. And this is fairly clear.

Keep.

Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Clouds Without Water

Another of my favorite items in voting. And based on your previous entries in 2012, I'm rooting for you to win!

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

YES. Mikko, this was bar none my FAVORITE item in voting. And I only ever saw it once, so I was always despondent that I didn't get a chance to support it as much as I'd have wished. So I'm glad to see it made it in, and ecstatic to see it's yours since I've always loved your previous RPGSS work. Well done, and enjoy your second (or third, if one counts being an alternate WHICH I DO) time as a contestant.

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

This one made my like list for being one of the most inventive and unique visuals, with plenty of utility in and out of combat. My biggest fear was, with the price being so low, that quieter parts of the world could get littered with these structures--a pretty minor quibble, and actually something I'd enjoy playing around with as a GM, but probably not for everyone.

Glad to see you back in the Top 32, Mikko! I'm looking forward to your monster entry. 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

Congrats Mikko...glad to see you made it!

Out of the card items...this was my favorite. I think I only rarely downvoted this (one time against my own item...sorry!).

I loved the imagery this evoked in my head and how you straddled the line of describing what it does while leaving just enough unsaid to be really useful in many different situations. I have a gambler character idea just from this item.

Let's see your monster!

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

I'm glad I saw this more than once in the voting, because my first impression was somewhat similar to Patrick's. The clause about a severe wind taking the structure down didn't gel with the "indefiniteness" of the structure. Maybe that's because I'm used to naturally occurring gusts of winds that wouldn't allow this to stand for more than a week. Still, I came around to realizing it fit the theme you were going for, and I honestly thought it was one of the cooler card items I saw during voting.

Congratulations and best of luck in the monster round!

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!

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

Welcome back Mikko! This was one of the stronger card items I saw. Can't wait to see what your monster is!

--Vrocket pair of Kings

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

I liked the card based items this year and this was a neat concept, well deserved. Congrats and Good luck.

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

This one confused me a bit. So I have to toss the number of cards equal to the distance I want the structure to span/occupy? So... 3 cards for a 30' bridge? Do they all go into the first square and build out from there? What happens to creatures already occupying those squares? I could see this causing a lot of argument at my table. Maybe it's just me.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, I wish you the best of luck in the monster round, and be sure to write for those of us who are a bit dense!

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

Treppa wrote:
This one confused me a bit... What happens to creatures already occupying those squares?

Since these only activate when tossed into an 'unoccupied space', I'd imagine those creatures would react rather confusedly, wondering why someone just lobbed a bunch of playing cards at them.

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

My favorite of the "building" cards and the most simple and clear ruleswise. I saw this a number of times.

Nice to see you back here Mikko.

Good luck!!!

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8

I LOVE that a severe wind effectively knocks over the house of cards. This item definitely makes me smile every time I read it and it's something I could definitely see in the possession of a Harrower or similar card-themed character.

Looking forward to seeing your monster!

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Sean McGowan wrote:
Treppa wrote:
This one confused me a bit... What happens to creatures already occupying those squares?
Since these only activate when tossed into an 'unoccupied space', I'd imagine those creatures would react rather confusedly, wondering why someone just lobbed a bunch of playing cards at them.

But when activated, they expand to 5' x 10' and hitch together (I guess?), so my question is about the squares they expand into.

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

Treppa wrote:
Sean McGowan wrote:
Treppa wrote:
This one confused me a bit... What happens to creatures already occupying those squares?
Since these only activate when tossed into an 'unoccupied space', I'd imagine those creatures would react rather confusedly, wondering why someone just lobbed a bunch of playing cards at them.
But when activated, they expand to 5' x 10' and hitch together (I guess?), so my question is about the squares they expand into.

Since the language on here is 'space' instead of 'square', my interpretation of how it worked was that the total space you wanted the card construct to occupy had to be empty or the magic wouldn't go into effect and the cards would just be lying there.

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Sean McGowan wrote:
Treppa wrote:
Sean McGowan wrote:
Treppa wrote:
This one confused me a bit... What happens to creatures already occupying those squares?
Since these only activate when tossed into an 'unoccupied space', I'd imagine those creatures would react rather confusedly, wondering why someone just lobbed a bunch of playing cards at them.
But when activated, they expand to 5' x 10' and hitch together (I guess?), so my question is about the squares they expand into.
Since the language on here is 'space' instead of 'square', my interpretation of how it worked was that the total space you wanted the card construct to occupy had to be empty or the magic wouldn't go into effect and the cards would just be lying there.

Hmmm, I see. That would make sense. Thanks for the clarification (and for using 'lying' instead of 'laying'!).

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

I typically do not like card deck items, and this year I liked two. You got my vote many times and I am glad to see it made it to the top 32. Good Luck.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Many thanks to everyone who upvoted or commented on my item! :) My main design goals were memorable visuals and flexible mechanics that allow the players to be creative. So I'm very glad to hear so many people liked these aspects of my item. :) (I even got away with using "you" instead of "the user"...)

Treppa, I'm sorry that you found the description confusing. Sean is right about how I intended it to work. I'll do my best to be less ambiguous in the future rounds!

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

Congrats Mikko for making it again!

I may be biased but I like your item and the creative possibilities of its use a lot. :)

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

Congratulations Mikko!

While not in my keeper folder, I did upvote this probably as much as I saw it. Every year a bridge item gets in, and really like what you did with yours.

Deck of Falling Houses wrote:
...even the most absurdly imbalanced structures with improbable angles...

this creates such a strong visual that it no longer seem like a house of cards, but something the wicked witch or the mad wizard would live in. Keep up the visuals. :)


I was worried about this one until I read it fully. Not overly powerful, and it has its obvious uses.

Shadow Lodge Star Voter Season 6

There's a few mechanical questions I've got here.

Is it a standard action for tossing 1 card, or for as many as you like? (the latter doesn't really make sense, but it seems that's what's intended).

How much weight do the cards support? Are they as powerful as an immovable rod? Can you jump on them?

I almost didn't even consider duration - is it permanent if never made unstable?

I can only just-sort-of see the logic behind the requirements and the attached price.

All in all, pretty cool.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 8

This item's function matches its form very nicely. By evolutionary standards, that's certainly a good thing! Looking forward to a similar form/function relationship with your monster!

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

Welcome back to the Top 32! This item is super-cool. The visuals are evocative and the mechanics are not overpowered or a "must have", but useful.

Congratulations, and good luck in round 2!

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 just didn't get this item. In part, I kept reading and looking for how you're building a "house of cards" that is somehow fragile. The only possible nod to that was the wind making them unstable, but it didn't really fulfill my expectations with the name.

My bigger issue with the item might simply be my personal bias against items that let you make a bridge or a wall. Not that they're not useful, but that they're fairly boring. There's a lot of ways that PCs can make bridges or walls, and one more isn't really that exciting. Considering the effects, I was also not sure why wall of stone wasn't a requirement.

That being said, obviously your item resonated with lots of other voters, and welcome back to the top 32.

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 - Mikko Kallio - Deck of Falling Houses

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 was one that started with an "oh dear" reaction when I saw the name. This is a personal reaction as I actually find the deck / random items mess to much with the party and usually cause more problems than they solve. I kept my fingers crossed it wasn't random, and on scanning the description my fears were allayed. Phew. That said, falling houses is also a slightly negative term, making me wonder if the item was going to have some negative side that might be a problem, again, a quick scan made me think that this isn't going to be the case. So I think the feedback here on the name is to be wary of negative sounding names for wondrous items, try for the ohhhh rather than the ut-oh reaction to the name.
Template Fu scores you 8/10 on this.

Template Usage: Although you executed the template perfectly, I had one disconnect with your price. My original reaction was that the "(full deck)" is superfluous. If a GM gives you a less than full deck, you would likely be told how many cards remain. If "buying" form the, sigh, magic vendor, then how would you pro-rata the price for incomplete decks? By adding the full deck, you have limited how the decks are acquired to being a full deck, but also have pulled attention to the issues of the card consumption with use. It's enough of a disconnect for me to nab one point in this category.
Template Fu scores you 9/10 on this.

Game Balance: Ok, I double took on the first line of description. When people normally refer to normal decks of playing cards, they refer to 52 and ignore the two jokers, but a Harrow deck is definitely 54. I think here you should have kept tight with the Golarion Harrow deck and lose the reference to normal playing cards. It's a wonderful tie in, so really use it!
The next bit I think that is missing is card retrieval, I build a small hut using say 5 or 6 cards. When I want to leave, do I get my cards back, if so how? Or, am I leaving structures behind me and carrying an ever dwindling supply of cards (this I think is the intention) but I know my players and they will ask this, so make this really clear.
This then raised the question about the cards destruction, is that just the cards in the structure or the whole deck? Again, I think it's just the structure.
I can't make my mind up if the structures should be permanent as they currently are, or whether they should be subject to some sort of time limit before they crumble away. This is again a personal thing, I don't like the idea of leaving a trail of structures in my wake, my enemies could determine where have gone, are going to from these.
What sort of crystal is it? If the crystal has more value than a single card, my players might try to sell a crystal sheet to a craftsman and run before it turns to dust :P
Now, you mention the cards joining along the edge, but it doesn't seem to say that the edge on the floor seals in the same way to the floor, so it would be possible to argue that certain side heavy structure would tip to the side, remaining complete but not as placed (if you see what I mean).
Template Fu scores you 8/10 on this.

Cinematics:
Sight - check, really funky imagery on this, I like this one a lot.
Sound - missed opportunity - is there a riffing car shuffle sound when they transform?
Smell - doesn't apply I think (I don't think crystal has a smell.)
Taste - doesn't apply I think (although if it is a salt structure, it could be salty when licked for example)
Touch - missed opportunity - are the surfaces really smooth, dimpled, or rough?
Cinematic Summary All those points aside, this is one that just has imagery by the bucket load. I really like this one.
Template Fu scores you 18/20 on this.

Musings, Meme, and One Step Further:
One thing that could have added more spice, the suit or court/non court of the card alters the crystal color/type when transformed?
Now, the bit I really wanted here is probably a bit gonzo. I wanted the ability to be able to "bend" the card and the card transforms into a wall/structure representing the same bend or bends - the reason being a crystal wall is likely to be slippery when at and angle, so it would be nice to use less cards to make a set of steps for example. Another use could be to bend the cards at each end, and then they become a slightly raised bed/table/altar. Bending the cards would have really given this item amazing utility!
Again, my penchant for mythic power stuff raises its head and muses... you could have allowed mythic power to retrieve the cards from a structure.
Template Fu scores you 17/20 on this.

Your final score for this item is 60/70, or 86% - One of my favorites - a deck that isn't random!

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