Familiar's Soulstone


Open Call: Design a wondrous item

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 aka Thanos Maximo

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Familiar's Soulstone
Aura moderate necromancy; CL 9th
Slot none; Price 7,500 gp; Weight 1 lb.
Description
A familiar's soulstone resembles a large, rough red gem the size of a fist. The bearer can use the gem to perform an hour-long ritual and bind the soul of his familiar, animal companion, or bonded mount to it. Once this bond is established, the only way to sever it is to destroy the gem. A creature may only have one familiar's soulstone bound to it, and a familiar's soulstone may only be bound to a single creature.
Should the bonded creature die while on the same plane as its familiar's soulstone, its soul is syphoned into the gem, where it'll be preserved for 24 hours. If the soul is not extracted from the gem within that time, the gem crumbles to dust, automatically releasing the soul.
Touching the gem to the body of the deceased bonded creature for a full minute restores it to life as per the spell raise dead. This action destroys the gem.
A witch's familiar brought back to life using a familiar's soulstone retains all of its stored spells.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, raise dead; Cost 6,250 gp

Paizo Employee Developer

Neat! Kinda like a quick-revive for your animal buddy. I dig it. Writing is fine, though organization could use some work (get to the chase! What's the gem do when bonded?).

keep

Publisher, EN Publishing aka Russell Morrissey

Kinda like a lich's phylactery.

I want one for my dog.

Keep.

Paizo Employee Associate Editor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Straightforward, well-written (though seconding Patrick's comment about getting to the point faster). Helpful for PCs... and so very stealable.

Keep.

Shadow Lodge Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Really liked this and made me wonder why there's not something like this in the game already. Doubly so now that we have witches' familiars serving double duty as their spellbooks.

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 2009, Contributor

Smartly done. This is one of those items that makes immediate sense for the game and how it's played. Familiars, mounts, and animal companions often get short shrift in the survival department, and then the owner has to wait until they can summon a new one (which slows down gameplay). So, it's good to see something put forward which can serve as the "save my companion" item when you've invested a lot into it, both in game mechanics and overall roleplay flavor. Tying it to a lich-like phylactery was a nice touch.

Also, from a mechanical sense, this design is pretty tight. The attention to detail on both the template and the design acumen for including the material component for raise dead into both the price and cost is well done, and hopefully an indication this designer is prepared to weave good ideas with good execution. This is another example of the type of item which can easily catch the judges' eyes for possible inclusion into the Top 32, and it tells you as much about the designer as the item itself.

Well done and good luck.

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'm a sucker for animals so I could see buying these for sure. Congrats and good luck.

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

I definitely appreciated this item since I play a lot of characters with squishy animal companions or familiars, and I find it more upsetting when my character's companion dies than when my character dies. :)

Congratulations and good luck in the monster round!

RPG Superstar Season 9 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Most of the items I saw required some internal debate and a pro/con list before I decided which one was better. This was the one exception; the minute I saw it I felt like all was right with Golarion, and I voted for it every time I saw it.

Can't wait to see what you bring to the table for round 2!

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

1 person marked this as a favorite.

This is one of those "too obvious, why didn't it exist before" items... which is meant to come off as a compliment.

By that, I mean its usefulness is evident the second you see it, and while I might tweak a few little aspects of it, I could see reading this in Ultimate Equipment 2 and being excited to get it.


But... but! I haven't seen it during the voting! Sabotage!

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7 aka Belladonna Blue

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I didn't see this one in voting, either. Wish I had, because I didn't like any of the other familiar-related items I did see.

I usually don't understand the point in investing much in your familiar/mount/companion because they always die/get stolen/forgotten. So for that reason I've tended to skip items that interact with them... but a simple item to help mitigate that annoyance is a welcome addition to the game.

I also feel the organization could have been reworked -- include the mundane details of the bonding after the effect explanation. Luckily, the item is short enough that needing to read a little further isn't much of a detriment.

Best of luck in the monster round!!

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

This item came up quite a bit in my voting spree, but I honestly don't remember whether it got upvoted or down. The writing is pretty tight (although the 'it'll' seems a little out of place) and the mechanics make sense. Definitely one of the better "get out of death" items in the submissions this year.

Congratulations, and best of luck in Round 2!

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 was a very interesting choice and while it didn't resonate much with me as an item (I don't play classes with familiars or mounts very much for some odd reason) I did like the thought and design behind it.

I'll be interested to see where you take your monster design as you are essentially designing cannon fodder for adventurers...

Shadow Lodge Star Voter Season 6

1 person marked this as a favorite.

You had me at A witch's familiar brought back to life using a familiar's soulstone retains all of its stored spells. There should be a trait or class feature for witches where they start with one of these babies.

Restrictions, wording, price, flavour, clarity, simplicity, usefulness - all flawless.

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

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I didn't upvote this much during voting, and now seeing everyone else's responses I'm convinced it's because I'm a heartless bastard. Basically, my take on it was '7.5 K to bring a familiar back to life when I can just spend 200gp/level to replace the stupid rodent?' (Albeit with a week's wait.) Clearly I am much less sentimental about my character's little pets than many. I feel shame.
Seriously, though, congratulations. I also apparently didn't think through the ramifications of the witch spell aspect of this; even if you don't care about your familiar at all, it's certainly worth the investment for that reason alone. (One of my favorite also-ran items from last year had a similar idea, so I'm surprised in retrospect that didn't grab me.)

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

I'm torn on this. I like the effect, but the duration (24hrs or crumble crumble) and price (7,500 gp) make this kind of like expected insurance outlay on BBEG-battles than a true wondrous item.

Also, the effect takes a looooong time to manifest in the writeup, which I'm not that keen on.

Other than that, I see the utility, and with a few tweaks this is a really solid item.

Congratulations on a cool item, and I await an equally cool monster.

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

Quote:
You had me at A witch's familiar brought back to life using a familiar's soulstone retains all of its stored spells. There should be a trait or class feature for witches where they start with one of these babies.

100% agree. I love playing witches and this item is a terrific failsafe for a squishy familiar holding all my spells. Really well done, looking forward to your monster!

Star Voter Season 9

I thought we already had this item in the game so I went looking for it and found this: http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic-items/wondrous-items/wondrous-items/r-z/stone -familiar

I'm surprised no-one else has made the connection thus far (although it is from Ultimate Equipment so I don't know how standard it is for tables. It's standard issue for our tables when there's a witch in the party). The end result is pretty much the same (witches familiar dies, PC ends up with a familiar that has the same spells). That said thematically and the details are quite different.

The stone familiar is effectively a spellbook for witches. Let's the GM hand out witch spells to witches and gives the witch a backup for if the familiar dies. This item on the other hand is a consumable raise dead your familiar. I like that thematically it lets you keep the same familiar and in story that's awesome. But is there any mechanical benefit (besides time taken to relearn the spells?). If not I'd drop the price to at least 6,000 gp if not even less than that. I understand the price for the competition (or even core rules), but the witch familiar spellbook element always rubbed me the wrong way. Even with the stone familiar item, witches are hesitant to use their familiar.

[EDIT]: Aaaah. I just saw it works on animal companions. In that case I think the price is appropriate. Animal companions are much more powerful, often out shining PCs. My comments above only refer to it being for familiars. In which case as a player I'd stick to the stone familiar.

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

Congratulations Michele,

This could use a little oomph, but for what it does it is well done. I wonder how common it is for GMs to target familiars, AniComp and the like? Good catch on the witch's familiar.
Swing for the fences in the future rounds and good luck!

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 it's a well written item, I'm not sure I see the appeal. How is this any better or different than a scroll of raise dead? The scroll is also far more versatile, since it's usable on anyone, not just a familiar or animal companion.

If the price were actually lower than a typical raise dead, then I'd think it's worth it, since the limitation on only familiars or animals is enough. Speaking of which, is there any reason this couldn't be used on any animal, even if it's not an animal companion? While I can't see many times you'd want to use it that way, it would be slightly more flexible if you want to protect the king's favorite pet or have some insurance when retrieving a rare animal which can be used to cure some rare poison or something.

Star Voter Season 6

I toyed with a similar concept... until I stumbled upon the spell raise animal companion. A scroll would only cost 2,125 gp. I like the philactery though.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka Cyrad

The entry is solidly written, but I can't say I saw the appeal of this. As Vincent Emond points out, a scroll of raise animal companion is cheaper. I've seen many similar items with the same theme of creating a phylactery-like object for your familiar.

Congrats on being a top 32.

Shadow Lodge Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7

Joel Flank wrote:
While it's a well written item, I'm not sure I see the appeal. How is this any better or different than a scroll of raise dead? The scroll is also far more versatile, since it's usable on anyone, not just a familiar or animal companion.

Maybe it's just me, but I was under the impression that Raise/Rez spells normally don't work on animals.


I feel like I'm joining the crowd at this point with Joel, Vincent, and Garrick, but other than not needing a druid, paladin, or ranger, it is worse than a scroll of raise animal companion (and almost four times the cost). Even disallowing that, it is overpriced for a 'oil' of raise dead that could be used on anyone*.

*: Good question Orthos, here's the restrictions:

Raise Dead Limitations:
A creature who has been turned into an undead creature or killed by a death effect can't be raised by this spell. Constructs, elementals, outsiders, and undead creatures can't be raised. The spell cannot bring back a creature that has died of old age.

Shadow Lodge Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7

Huh.

Maybe I'm remembering a houserule or GM flavor or something then. I could see an unpleasant GM going "the animal is in animal heaven, why would it want to come back?" response every time and having it refuse the spell.

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 - Michele La Barbera - Familiar's Soulstone

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: As an avid World of Warcraft player, I immediately gut reacted to the term "soulstone" - the warlocks ability to preserve his life for a self rezz when he dies. I winced when I saw the description followed closely this in game effect. As the auto reject reason states, bringing tech/film/computer game items into your designs does reflect on your originality and inventiveness. Fortunately, you avoided replicating completely this widely known ability and showed design chops and flexibility by limiting it to just familiars. It is this very clever move that probably saved you getting auto reject down voted by the regulars.
Template Fu scores you 7/10 on this.

Template Usage: You executed the template perfectly, including noting the use of none for the slot from the errata - well done. I like also that you tried to make the various effects scan-able by breaking the wall of text that is so often found in the shorter items. Well done again! This makes your item very easy to scan, and probably won you a lot of votes against its item pairs.
Template Fu scores you 10/10 on this.

Game Balance: There is a lot of good game balancing decisions on the item. I particularly like the destruction of the gem as part of the resurrection of your familiar. This makes the item a consumable, albeit that the consumption can be a wide variance of time - how often does a familiar die? If it's weekly, I would have a word with your GM ;)
I did wonder what destroy the gem means - would there be fragments of gemstone that could be sold to a jeweller to recover some of the gem value or does it disintegrate into nothingness - this is something to consider when you have an item based on an in game form of currency.
The last line regarding the witch's familiar - ask yourself this - would it have been better to say "A familiar that has stored spells retains those stored spells when brought back to life by the gem."? This would have allowed you to cover the eventuality of familiar feats that imbue familiars with some level of casting ability.
My biggest issue I think with the game balance, is that I can bond my familiar and then store the gem well away from any encounters that take place, there is no line of sight nor familiar must be within xxx feet of the gem when it dies. This I think should have been present, the same plane of existence is not limiting enough I think.
Template Fu scores you 9/10 on this.

Cinematics:
Sight - check, good imagery - it is easy to see how the item is used.
Sound - missed opportunity - does it sizzle when it draws the soul in or passes it back out? Is there a sound when a soul is released after a 24 hour period and the soul is lost?
Smell - doesn't apply, the base item rarely smells
Taste - doesn't apply
Touch - missed opportunity - does it feel warm and alive when holding a soul, does it throb with the familiars heartbeat when bonded?
Cinematic Summary I really struggle to shake the Warcraft soulstone imagery, which is both good and bad. The good is that it is such a string image, it really brings the item to life, the bad is, it's a Warcraft thing and some people really don't like that sort of association.
Template Fu scores you 16/20 on this.

Musings, Meme, and One Step Further:
So all those familiar loving classes get to save their beloved little beastie, but not those who have animal companions? Yes, this could have been taken that extra step to include animal companions size small or smaller for example. This would have widened the appeal of the item to more classes.
Russell said he wanted one for his dog, so why not? We could have included pets, dogs, etc for all classes to benefit for those players that have their in game cats, dogs, etc.
And this suddenly makes me realize another issue with the item.
My familiar dies because of old age - should I really be able to raise dead, won't he just die again due to old age? This should have been considered in the description, limiting it to save the familiar from being killed, but old age is old age.
Template Fu scores you 16/20 on this.

Your final score for this item is 58/70, or 83% - A very cool item for familiar using classes.

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