Something different that helped me when I designed my item


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I found that reading and rereading your item could cause you to skip over things if you do it without taking a break. You unconsciously fix something or gloss over something.

I put my item into google translate and used translate english to english. I could hear how my item sounded with my eyes closed so I would immediately hear from someone elses perspective. I would fix a problem if I heard one and continue on. May not be ground breaking but I definitely benefited from it, as not everyone has someone who can help proof your work. If you have never checked it out find the link here Google Translate

Good luck to all who entered.

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Nice tip. Here are some of my quirky methods I use to design items:

I use the RPG campaign organizing site Epic Words to store and preview my item designs. I'm not sure if anyone is still updating this site, but I prefer it to Obsidian Portal and it has the added benefit that the wikis and private messages use the same BB code as the Paizo forums. My RPGSS entry can be copied and pasted right from one to the other (I'd still preview before submitting).

I've recently been mining the minds of my six year old twins for item ideas. They don't usually give me fully usable ideas (and often they are very OP), but sometimes they will say something outside the box that sparks an idea that I develop into an interesting magic item.

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For me I looked at it from a foundational level. As spells are often a primary component of magical items, I combed the texts for interesting spells and abilities then generated ideas based on how that those elements might manifest in items.

This allowed me to branch out my thinking and generate a number of ideas from one spell rather than generating an idea for a single items and then finding spells to make it work.

Probably not the most original, but it worked for me.

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For me, I discovered another spell that was very appropriate for the nature of my entry some time after I drafted the item. After I re-read the overall effect of my entry, I was like, "Isn't there a spell that causes that to happen/copies that effect?"

Lo and behold, after some digging, I found it.

There were some other resources I had to dig through as well, but I definitely can't go into detail without giving myself away. Maybe if it's appropriate after the top 32 are announced, I'll divulge.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Petty Alchemy

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Sounds similar to a writing tip I got back in school, when reviewing your draft, read it out loud. Just reading it, you may gloss over errors since you know what it's supposed to say, but when you say it, you'll be forced to realize that perhaps you didn't write what you thought you did.

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Especially early in my career, but even occasionally nowadays, I read things to my wife. Sometimes she catches something, sometimes I do, but it rarely goes through a reading without someone noticing something wrong.

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For this genre especially, reading aloud is a good idea. Not only can you catch mistakes, but it is likely (if successful) that your text will be read aloud, at tabletops far and wide.

GM: In the hoard, you find an aboleth's aspergillum.
PLAYER: Ooo! What does that do?"
GM: (reads your text, yes your text, aloud)

I don't have the data to back it up, but I strongly suspect that the sound of the text plays a role (conscious or unconscious) in the subjective impression that it is a good item/monster/adventure.

Though, I suppose, this hypothesis could come from my own need to theatrically read stuff at the table.


Reading aloud, to others if you can, or to yourself at least, is an excellent idea. Having someone else read it aloud to you is even better. If the wording sounds off, it likely is. Listen for where you or another reader slow down or pause, especially if it's a place where there shouldn't be a pause. That's a sign of something wrong.

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When editing my own work, I often change the font (style or size or both) to make things stand out more. If you keep reading the same text, it's easy for your eyes to skip over things.

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I like to not draft things the day before the competition deadline. Sadly, what I would like and what actually happens rarely meet up and hit it off such that there is little stress. ;P

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1) Draft a series of ideas
2) Write a draft of each, what worked what didn't work
3) get a second opinion on it
4) Narrow it down to 3 always 3
5) write multiple versions taking it in different directions
6) mix and match refine and poll opinions
7) trust your gut, opinions will vary but keep what feels right to YOU

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My process this year was streamlined.

1) Get drunk.
2) Write item.
3) Immediately submit at 6 AM.

Now if only I could remember what it was...


Chris Shaeffer wrote:

My process this year was streamlined.

1) Get drunk.
2) Write item.
3) Immediately submit at 6 AM.

Now if only I could remember what it was...

Think hard. Did it have anything to do with corn? Or possibly farting?

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Jeff Lee wrote:


Think hard. Did it have anything to do with corn? Or possibly farting?

Ah, yes, how could I have forgotten my Corncob Cannon Ramrod?

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Chris Shaeffer wrote:
Ah, yes, how could I have forgotten my Corncob Cannon Ramrod?

I guess it beats the Tailpipe Banana.

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Cthulhudrew wrote:
Chris Shaeffer wrote:
Ah, yes, how could I have forgotten my Corncob Cannon Ramrod?
I guess it beats the Tailpipe Banana.

Brain going in places it shouldn't in 5...4...3...

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Tothric

My process this year was come up with roughly 6~12 special effects that I would like to toy around with.

Vet them through 10 people, for facial responses and verbal cues. When people's eyes brightened up, Mark that item.

Take special items (it was 5) write out discriptions. Submit to people.
Have them pick a favorite.

Boiled it down to two. Take those two, write More or less a second rough draft.

Have my 10 people argue over it. LIsten to pros and cons. Pick the one with least cons, and re-write it and submit it.

Edit: That was my process, it isn't perfect. I am just letting people know how it came down to what I submitted. Organizing 10 people is hard, especially with a short time-line. Only reason why I was capible of 10 was I had some really really bored people who wanted me to enter.

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

I do the following process for any RPG content.

1) State a high concept. This should be the first idea you get for an item. Use this step to see whether or not the high concept violates any of the general design traps listed by Sean K. Reynolds.

2) Brainstorm ideas and write them all down in a list. Write anything you think of down, even if you initially think it's a bad idea. Don't do any evaluation of the ideas until you're finished with the list.

3) Evaluate each idea and choose the best ones. Choose only the best ones. A good practice is grouping the ideas that naturally work well together. This step can also tell me the quality of the item concept. If none of the ideas seem that interesting or the brainstorm list seems too small, that may indicate a non-viable concept. Don't be afraid to abandon the item at this point in favor of a better concept.

4) Write a mechanics outline. Break down what the item does by listing each action. Iterate on this outline to make the mechanics simple and flow well together. This step can also help you spot if your item appears like an SAK if one action/mechanic seems extraneous. At this point, you can also calculate a price for the item.

5) Write a "line draft." This is an unusual exercise I take when writing a first draft. I write each sentence on its own separate line instead of writing the whole thing in paragraphs. This way, I can look at each sentence as its own unit, see which ones appear unnecessary, see which ones can be combined, and gauge how they flow from one sentence to another. Putting sentences on different lines can also indicate if my description is too long or if any sentence is too long.

6) Complete first complete draft. After I'm satisfied with the line draft, I combine it all together into a complete entry.

7) Get feedback and iterate. I show the draft to my pit crew and get their feedback on it. I then change a few things and show it again. Particularly drastic changes may require going back to previous steps.

8) Declare a final draft. When each iteration starts becoming inconsequential tweaks to the previous iteration, this strikes me as a sign that the item is finished. Knowing when to stop is very important or you risk undoing the careful planning accomplished with previous steps.

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<.<
>.>
I just wrote out my item, proof read it a number of times, then hit *submit*.

*hangs head in shame*

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Feros wrote:

I just wrote out my item, proof read it a number of times, then hit *submit*.

*hangs head in shame*

You didn't even climb the Ten Thousand Steps of Arneson? I guess that means you skipped the mano-a-mano battle with the Spawn of Gygax too, since that's on the Platform of Design at the summit. Jeez, man, did you at least burn a Candle of Chthonic Inspiration while meditating on each of the Twenty Walls of the Isocahedral Temple for a hundred days apiece?

Probably not. Feh.

:)

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'everyone needs an editor'

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I thought about different character types (The brute, the sneaky one, the pompous jerk, the dumb do gooder, the strategy minded, etc.), then I asked what would make them fun to play? What toy would enhance that experience? I came up with a list of things that would be both fun to role play and nice to have in combat and went with one I might enjoy.

Then I read it aloud to my wife. Made some changes then tried to use it in a game I was dming. I read it to my players and saw how they used it.

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I had a general mechanic concept that I'd been toying with for the item I wanted to submit this year. I sat down a day or so after submissions opened and on some specifics. I then wrote up a draft of the item and saved it. And then ignored it for a couple of days.

I came back a few days later, having turned the item over in the back of my head for a few days and revised the item. I also pulled out my rules and double-checked some mechanics. After I was satisfied, I went ahead and submitted.

I found that putting the submission away for a few days really helped tighten up my item as I was looking at it with fresh eyes.

When I submitted, I made sure that I checked the preview and I also resized the window that I was using to preview the submission. I strongly recommend that submitters resize the window. Not everyone uses the same sized window that you are using. My 2014 submission got burned by some carriage returns that crept in (but which looked fine at the window size I was using when I submitted).

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Magesmiley wrote:

I had a general mechanic concept that I'd been toying with for the item I wanted to submit this year. I sat down a day or so after submissions opened and on some specifics. I then wrote up a draft of the item and saved it. And then ignored it for a couple of days.

I came back a few days later, having turned the item over in the back of my head for a few days and revised the item. I also pulled out my rules and double-checked some mechanics. After I was satisfied, I went ahead and submitted.

I found that putting the submission away for a few days really helped tighten up my item as I was looking at it with fresh eyes.

When I submitted, I made sure that I checked the preview and I also resized the window that I was using to preview the submission. I strongly recommend that submitters resize the window. Not everyone uses the same sized window that you are using. My 2014 submission got burned by some carriage returns that crept in (but which looked fine at the window size I was using when I submitted).

OK, I admit that this was pretty much my process. Very light compared to what so many others did.

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This was my process this year:


  • Notice that RPG Superstar had started two days earlier. Smuggly open the file where I had saved the Most Superstar Wondrous Item Ever.
  • Curse loudly as I read that this year's entries won't be Wondrous Items.
  • Consider changing my item to a Dagger. Curse again.
  • Brainstorm a list of ten in-game organizations that could commission the creation of a contest-legal item.
  • Pick the three organizations I like the best, and spitball what sort of item each would invent with a budget of 20k - 50k.
  • Pick the item I like the best, writeup a rough draft power list and description, and save it.
  • Worry the details in the back of my mind for three days, while considering changing to one of my alternate items.
  • Sit down the night before the deadline and edit the description so that all words are finished. Pick a name. Curse because it's not as good as the name for my Wondrous Item.
  • Bang out the costing, formatting, and construction requirements at lunch on the day of the deadline. Preview item, make editing changes as necessary. Hit submit.
  • Figure out a costing error I made as I walk back to my desk.

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Chris Shaeffer wrote:

My process this year was streamlined.

1) Get drunk.
2) Write item.
3) Immediately submit at 6 AM.

Now if only I could remember what it was...

Ah, I see you've taken the Cayden Cailean approach.

Even if you don't make the Top 32, you might pass the Starstone test.

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Eric Morton wrote:
Chris Shaeffer wrote:

My process this year was streamlined.

1) Get drunk.
2) Write item.
3) Immediately submit at 6 AM.

Now if only I could remember what it was...

Ah, I see you've taken the Cayden Cailean approach.

Even if you don't make the Top 32, you might pass the Starstone test.

I wondered if round two would be to create a map that represents be used for the test. No one ever knows what tests are involved or whether they are all the same tests for different individuals (well no one knows who will tell :).

32 random tests that need to incorporate mythic haunts or epic challenges or something equally uber.

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That can be beaten drunk though, Curaigh. That's the REAL challenge.

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My process was to practice all year long, including weapons, armors, rings, shields and submit the best to Wayfinder & a 3PP.

I had two good cinematic images that were with me when announcement time came close. One was too similar to what many others were doing & I couldn't get it to work differently (& certainly not better). The other involved critter X wearing bracers and quickly grew SAK.

When the change in rules came I started anew, but thanks to Wayfinder and the Blazing 9, something came together quickly. Even if it wasn't with either of my original (oh so cool) images.

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theheadkase wrote:
That can be beaten drunk though, Curaigh. That's the REAL challenge.

Good point,

I wonder what map symbol I should use to represent a sobriety test.

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Curaigh wrote:
theheadkase wrote:
That can be beaten drunk though, Curaigh. That's the REAL challenge.

Good point,

I wonder what map symbol I should use to represent a sobriety test.

In Golarion News...

Cayden Cailean demoted back to regular mortal after police arrest the used to be god for operating heavy machinery while intoxicated during the Test of the Starstone.

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hmmm... heavy machinery + intoxication would make a labyrinth/hedge maze pretty easy to get through. I think my uncle rode over a minotaur with a backhoe once.

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Curaigh wrote:
Good point, I wonder what map symbol I should use to represent a sobriety test.

A straight line?

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

This year my process went like this:

1. On Thanksgiving weekend, send my pit crew the best six wondrous items out of the 20+ I've written over the last year.
2. Get feedback from my pit crew the day before RPGSS 2015 was announced.
3. Curse the item type change of RPGSS 2015 that I had figured was grandfathered in after 7 years as a wondrous item.
4. Take a day or two to morn my awesome wondrous items and get motivated to create new items.
5. Take a look at my 20+ wondrous items to see if any of them would make good rods, staffs, rings, weapons, or armor and begin thinking of new ideas for legal items.
6. Begin converting the three wondrous items that could be seamlessly converted to legal items, none of which are among my top six wondrous items.
7. Write the two new item ideas I had since learning about the change, neither of which I'll be really excited about.
8. Send the new items and the two best converted items to my pit crew.
9. Get conflicting feedback from my pit crew that leaves two items at a dead heat, one converted item and one new item.
10. Finally decide on the item I'll submit based on the fact that one of my pit crew specifically mentioned that he didn't like the other item.
11. Edit the item one last time and confirm with my pit crew that the new version is an improvement.
12. On submission deadline day, not expecting to make top 32 no matter which item I submit, go ahead and submit a converted wondrous item that I know will be considered a joke item by some voters.
13. Only hours after submitting, realize that the other item had more mojo and despite my misgivings about it, probably would have had a better chance of making the top 32.
14. Decide to be content with making it past the cull and plan to participate in the post 32 critiques in a unique way.
15. Don't make it past the cull and be motivated into writing magic items for next year's competition, not limiting it to any particular item types... just in case.

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My process:

1. Convinced Andrew that there was no earthly reason for him to enter RPGSS again and smiled at my own resolve to never ever enter RPGSS.
2. Settled in to chat with my forum friends and have a good time.
3. Noticed Round 1 twist.
4. Was struck by lightning and compulsion to enter item that came to mind almost fully formed.
5. Cursed Owen Stephens.
6. LEARNED ALL THE RULES.
7. Cursed Andrew for making me learn all the rules by myself (mostly.)
8. Wrote item.
9. Assembled pit crew.
10. Made adjustments.
11. Made sacrifice to gaming god.
12. Submitted item.
13. Discovered mistake.
14. Cursed Andrew for changing his mind and deciding to enter too.

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I admit, just for the drama alone, I want to see you and Andrew both advance. :)

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Adam Daigle wrote:
I admit, just for the drama alone, I want to see you and Andrew both advance. :)

All the way to the final 4 too :P

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Oceanshieldwolf wrote:
I like to not draft things the day before the competition deadline. Sadly, what I would like and what actually happens rarely meet up and hit it off such that there is little stress. ;P

Aaaaand I also like to not submit the type of item (rings) that got chernobyl'd. Oh well.

Oh, hang on, someone will helpfully chime in with:

Well, to be fair, 39 rings did make it past the cull..

I'm ready with my bucket.

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1: Oh, RPGSS. I remember seeing this before.
2: See rules.
3: See Template Fu's topic, get motivated.
4: Imagine cool stuff until I picture something cool enough.
5: Determine item functionality
6: Begin appropriate templating.
7: Get demotivated, usually I homebrew stuff with a "you know what I mean" level of detail.
8: Visit Template Fu's topic again, get motivated again.
9: SCRAP ITEM (except the aesthetic)
10: Repeat from step 5.
11: Submit.
12: Find out we can have "pit crews" review the items (similar to pit fiends, probably)
13: Find out what a pit crew actually is.
14: Regret not getting feedback from gaming groups.

So uh, thanks Anthony. Probably wouldn't have entered if it wasn't for your topic!

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I am gradually transferring my pdf notes into an online resource at www.gamesdesignadvice.com so thanks for those kind words! I will be posting again soon on that site, but for right now am concentrating on the competition.

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Ooh, ooh, I want to play... this year's process for me:

1. Ages ago, decide never to enter RPG Superstar again
2. Read the RPG Superstar announcement three days after it was actually made, four days before deadline. Read the twist, get intrigued, get frustrated/excited as ideas start flooding in.
3. Jot down a few of my favorite ideas.
4. Get the flu.
5. Through flu-haze, choose favorite idea so far and rewrite it a few times.
6. Rename item to something that sounded cool under the influence of fever and cold meds.
7. Make risky choice not to show anyone else because most of the feedback I usually get is too positive. (Yes, I'm weird. But "nice item" isn't constructive.) And because everyone I know is busy/sick/dead* leading up to holidays.
8. Submit night before due-date because have to catch up on work missed due to flu next day.
9. Wonder what the heck I was thinking when I came up with the name. Come up with better name 1 month later.

* No one actually died.

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