Good, Bad, And Ugly Critiques 2015 Edition


RPG Superstar™ General Discussion

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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

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Past the past 2 years I've reviewed every item posted in the top 32 threads and every item in the critique thread. I do it in my own thread because it's easier to keep track and since I add page number's reference your review.

I'm rolling the top 32 and alternates in the thread so I can keep better track of who has and hasn't gotten a review.

Who am I to review you? First and foremost I'm a veteran gamer that has been at one table or another for the past 25 years. I'm also a freelancer who has had the good fortune to see his name sandwiched between Ed Greenwod and Jim Groves for Deep Magic, acknowledged for comments turned into contributions from Raging Swan, and making the cover page for a few RPG mags. I helped launch 2 3PPs one of which I'm still a managing partner on. I've also done a bunch of blogs as a regular contributor.

I'm not a full time game designer but I have a strong idea of what it takes to be one. Be aware, I pull no punches the critiques are done in a spirit of trying to help you get better.

If you have questions I'll answer them, but do not thread jack and please limit your responses to your own item. I will get to everyone but if I missed you let me know I'll cycle back and get your item.

The polite thing to do is say nothing, the helpful thing is to tell you the truth good, bad, and ugly.

Star Voter Season 8

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Welp, may as well prepare myself for a lashing! I have a couple of ideas for why my item may have not been superstar material but it would be nice to get a bit of feedback.

Surveying Ordnance
Aura: Faint divination; CL:2nd
Price 1000gp; Weight 4 lbs.

CONSTRUCTION REQUIREMENTS
Cost: 500gp

DESCRIPTION

This +1 cannonball is hollow, with many holes bored through it revealing a small crystal ball that is suspended at its core. When fired from a cannon the smoke erupting from the cannon coalesces into a model of the terrain beneath the cannonball’s flight and the 300ft surrounding the point of impact that dissipates after 1D6 minutes or after 1 round in moderate wind (11+ mph). The cannonball shatters upon impact.

Sovereign Court Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

EDIT: I made an oopsie by not being clear on the purpose of this thread. x.x

Now I understand: This thread will be separate from the official CMI thread in order to have your critiques organized in one place.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8 aka Jiggy

@Brigg - I liked that one!

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

I always read it as Copperhead Net. So, I guess it's actually *thread*. Also, I'm going to wait for the big critique thread to go up before also posting in this one, but dot.

Sovereign Court Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Jacob Kellogg wrote:
@Brigg - I liked that one!

Thank you! ^.^! I look forward to the critique thread!

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

There's going to be an item critique thread today. I'm pretty sure that's where Solspiral is going to draw from.

Star Voter Season 8

Ooooh, oops...

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

I offer my Item for improvement.

Edit: I'm so anxious for feed back from mister GM that I didn't read his post CLOSELY enough. Sorry GM_Solspiral.

Your a good man for dedicating yourself to the improvement of the craft in such a way.

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

This is my bullet point formatting for easy reference:

#) Item name
The Good positive feedback
The Bad minor quibbles
The Ugly borderline rants
Overall Opinion in summary will grade from 1-5 stars

1= bottom 20% for me almost an auto down-vote
- Poor formatting with bad concept
- 4th wall problems that cannot be ignored
- severe rules issue
- severe writing problems
or a compound of criteria from 2
2= lower to lower middling for me, upvotes based on competition not on item
-Worthy concept but poor formatting
-Less then fond of underlying concept
-Creativity issue (resembles a movie item or trope and doesn't reinvent it)
-Combination of lesser issues or really light version of greater issue.
3= Middling, I up vote as often as down
-Too class specific
-Rivers of blood, gore or other theme issues with middling execution.
-Naming issue
-Usable but just not Superstar in concept for me
4= Upvoted a great deal I liked it just not top 32 liked it
-Flawless formatting
-Good writing
-Good concept
-Tight design
-Just not all of that together
5- Top 32 worthy, I’d consider this for top 32, I might even message you about trying out for some work with my 3PP Flying Pincushion games

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Champion Voter Season 6, Champion Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Champion Voter Season 9

I guess for a few people, reading comprehension is not their strong suit...

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

Aw guys this is not the Critique my item thread... I'm sorry if that wasn't clear I'm just going to draw from that but trying to keep it from being a complete disorganized monster. I'll refrain from critiquing those until the official time.

I'm doing top 36 first.

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

Oops, I am sorry. I had been so busy at work as of late, I didn't pay attention to the RPGSS schedule Round 1>>2 timing.

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

Your lack of reading comprehension has tainted this thread! Away with you! *Shakes a stick like a crotchety old man!*

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

Garrick Williams wrote:
Your lack of reading comprehension has tainted this thread! Away with you! *Shakes a stick like a crotchety old man!*

T-T okay...

(Also, deleted item post above out of respect for the Top 32. Will repost later when it is appropriate).

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

Disclaimer I'm going to review the top 36 in the next few posts and it's not all flattery and sunshine. In my opinion the judges this year represents a serious shift in what the judges regard as Superstar. In previous years the key word was "cinematic" this year I think the key word is "safe to publish" which usually lends itself to more toned down design.

The next few rounds are determined by the public... See my above post for what I determine to be criteria. End disclaimer

1) Staff of the Prime Mover
The Good: I really appreciate links even when I don't need them. Played with anchoring in an interesting way with for the most part solid mechanics. I also appreciate an item description a note for a lot of items.
The Bad: You're mixing spell lists for what appears to be a magus item.
The Ugly: I get that a magus can use a staff, I get that they have an archetype around using a staff, but I still object to a staff using gish. It's a disconnect from what I like to see a magus doing and for 35k I'd almost never desire the item as a player or drop it in a treasure pile as a GM.
Overall: 4 stars for me. I can see what the judges saw, solid writing and mechanics. I can also see there's a huge fan base for Naruto, I'm just not one of them. I wish you luck and you could possibly make me a fan but this item isn't there yet for me.

2) Crook of Unseen Forces
The Good: The idea of the shepherd's crook is actually pretty cool and I like the CMB bonus on a staff that is a nice touch.
The Bad: Staff that functions as a quarterstaff could have been the heavy drinker's choice for the Superstar Voter's drinking game.
The Ugly: The paragraph between the spell list and the last one has clarity issues for me.
Overall: 3 stars for me. I'm going to be brutal and say that this is pretty much the definition of middling for me. It doesn't reinvent my idea of what it means to be a staff and my favorite part of it is the darn shepherd's crook. I up-voted and down voted this almost entirely based on it's competition. Congrats on top 32 regardless, but I'd say bring it hard for round 2.

3) The Hero’s Breath
The Good: Description and name hint at purpose in a delightful way and the core idea here is one of my favorites in the competition.
The Bad: It's a nitpick but I'd neutralize the hero portion of the name... the bad guys can use it too right?
The Ugly: I'm going to beat you up on price because this is under priced as heck.
Overall: 5 stars for me. It has some pimples but I truly adore the concept and I can look past pricing. If you flame out in R2 or R3 and want work I know I can edit you well.

4) Ice Fang
The Good: I love the visual of this shattering into a cone of pain and how it can be reformed into a few different weapons.
The Bad: boring forgettable name
The Ugly: So I crit use the cool power and leave myself disarmed for the rest of the round? I deserve a discount on price for that.
Overall: 4.5 Stars for me. This got edged out of top 32-36 in my personal stash because of the flaw I've outlined above though it was certainly in my top 50 or so. I'll put it to you this way I would give you a trial assignment based off this but not a flat out auto-hire.

I will get to everyone in the top 36 today but that's first 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

Smiling Jack, I loved the surveying ordinance. I was really sad to see it culled.

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

Good to have Solspiral back in critique mode. I will also be opening my own thread once the critiques begin, but with a twist. I will not be doing traditional critiques, but offering to edit items. I will not edit all the items posted in the critique thread, but only items that are posted in my thread itself. I will reference the critiques of others in the critique thread (and here) to make my edits. Your critiques will likely aid my edits.

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

5) Staff of the Vanara King
The Good: You swung for the fences with a staff that doesn't cast spells and for that I applaud you.
The Bad: Back story is a problem for me.
The Ugly: When I've seen your item in a movie (that yes was based on mythology) we have a creativity issue. You can make the most awesome mechanically sound version of Poseidon's Trident ever and I'll vehemently down-vote you for it.
Overall: 2 Stars for me. If you draw from source material like this you need to throw more spin on it and make it your own, in my opinion you didn't meet that standard. But then again you're sitting in a spot I am not so kudos...

6) Pyroclastic Spike
The Good: Item description and name are both extremely compelling and they set me up to like your item very quickly.
The Bad: you could cut the first power and not change my opinion of the item.
The Ugly: 28k for the ability to create a river of lava is a little under priced
Overall: 4.5 Stars for me. I liked it but the price is enough of an issue to edge it out of the top 32 for me... I don't at all disagree with it making top 32, heck I'd be delighted to publish it.

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

Nickolas Floyd wrote:
Good to have Solspiral back in critique mode. I will also be opening my own thread once the critiques begin, but with a twist. I will not be doing traditional critiques, but offering to edit items. I will not edit all the items posted in the critique thread, but only items that are posted in my thread itself. I will reference the critiques of others in the critique thread (and here) to make my edits. Your critiques will likely aid my edits.

Great minds think alike... I'll announce something soonish assuming Paizo doesn't object.

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

7) Venom’s Kiss
The Good: The name has potential and the first sentence captures my imagination. You continue with cool description in the powers.
The Bad: This is SAK and at a bargain
The Ugly: I'm just not into using a weapon to neutralize poison which is the core issue for me. Weapons harm, it is in a weapon's nature to harm and I'm not sure you convinced me to discard that paradigm.
Overall: 3.5 Stars for me and I can tell you what the judges saw... the descriptions of the powers almost sell them. The hissing the yellow eyes, it's neat. You also took some risks I can appreciate but for me you just barely pulled off the mechanics which is whyu this is upper middling for me.

8) Flowing Fortress Armour
The Good: Cool visual and powers.
The Bad: Armor is how we spell it in 'merica
The Ugly: "Let's start a water based campaign," said no GM I've ever played with myself included.
Overall: 4.5 Stars- I really like it, and the rating is based on competition not the merits of the item itself. I can see why top 32 and would welcome this in my game.

9) Earthcracker
The Good: The general utility of this is pretty darn cool, you get to make the terrain difficult and get a trip attempt, I like that.
The Bad: Look at the following spells mass thunderstomp and stone rain- they should have been your spell requirements
The Ugly: Earthbreaker that... breaks the earth named earthcracker, you could have done better with the name.
Overall: 4 stars for em. This is 80th percentile type work for me... I like it a lot but in my opinion the name and clearly tracable line of thinking sort of make it hard for me to gague you as a potential designer.

10) Ophidian Coil
The Good: I love the name and the description, I liked the abilities.
The Bad: Missed the opportunity to cinch a little more snake theme with a bloodline tie in...
The Ugly: Theme is a little bit of a fantasy trope because of Conan
Overall: 5 stars for me this was in my top 32. What sold it was the slight drawback that I generally hate but in this case told me you thought it out.

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

11) Fist of Havoc
The Good: Love the name and despite having a ton of clones this was the best in show for that niche
The Bad: Earthbreaker- drink!
The Ugly: It's a magic sledge hammer when you come down to it.
Overall: 4.5 stars for me... that might be a surprise since I called it a contender and predicted it going in the top 32 when you designed it. All the clones took a little of the luster off it for me but I'm glad the judges saw what I saw when you first drafted it up... for the record it could not happen to a nicer person.

12) Fool's Scepter
The Good: Jester theme hits me right in a weak spot, good decision.
The Bad: I'd never pay 50k for this sorry.
The Ugly: Third power either doesn't do what you want or makes more work for the GM by it's very nature.
Overall: 4 stars for me this was neat but had too many problems to be above upper middling.

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

13) Rod of Exorcism
The Good: Tightly designed around a theme with a strong description which is candy for the judges.
The Bad: Niche
The Ugly: GM solution, barely ever throwing haunts... this could well make 2 types of plot less fun I'm sorry to say
Overall: 3.5 stars or upper middling for me. I like it but I don't love it. The main bugbear is that I like to throw haunts and this can sort of help a party not bother with a cleric.

14) Soulshifter Staff
The Good: Inventive concept when it comes to storing a death
The Bad: The vamp touch power was extraneous
The Ugly: I have a twitch when it comes to death and soul themed items. Part of the issue is that they tend to save or die/autowin which I do not find fun. For me there was a better death/soul themed staff that turned into a scythe but this is familiar territory.
Overall: 3 stars for me, I'm flashing back to a couple seasons ago when I was not a fan of THAT item... I ended up rooting for you and trying to advocate for you in later rounds, you know the drill.

15) Swarm-strike Caster
The Good: Gods the visual on this is great and it was my second favorite swam themed item. That's a high compliment because swarm themed anything is my jam.
The Bad: your item could have benefited from links
The Ugly: the bad was a hint because that first paragraph has soem serious clarity issues...
Overall: 4.5 stars as in it wasn't in my top 32 but it was just a little outside... I upvoted this many times.

16) Keyhole Stiletto
The Good: This has some seriously cool functional elements I could see a number of characters loving.
The Bad: "it's true usefulness becomes apparent" = hyperbole, murder any hyperbole in your design when you find it.
The Ugly: The name doesn't quite work for me
Overall: 3.5 stars for me. This feels like the rough draft of a great item and if you have a pit crew fire 'em if you don't find one even if you win the whole competition. Steel forges steel and having other creative talents look at your work makes you better.

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

17) Staff of the Thieving Magpie
The Good: Delivered on description and the idea is sound.
The Bad: One native spell doesn't work for me
The Ugly: The ability to learn the spells is a step too far for me
Overall: 3 stars for me. Description carried a lot of my votes for it, giving a spell caster a blank check to hit me back with anything I throw at my players was behind most of my downvotes.

18) Spectre Blight
The Good: Great name and it follows in a tradition I appreciate (maces are what you use to make the undead stay dead.)
The Bad: first power is essentially a less useful channel smite unless I'm missing something
The Ugly: I had to reread the last power multiple times to understand you're making an incorporeal creature vulnerable to magic weapons temporarily.
Overall: Solid 4 star for me. I liked it but was not in love enough to rank it top 32. That said I'm really happy to see you in top 32!

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Rusty Ironpants

@GM_Solspiral: Thanks for the feedback.

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

19) Psychopomp's Crosier
The Good: solid descriptive work and clear mechanics which is not always easy to pull off.
The Bad: Notice check?
The Ugly: For me this was lost in a see of ghostbusting type items it neither stood out in a bad or good way for me.
Overall: 3 stars as I found this middling. The kernel of awesome is making a spell do something that it doesn't normally do but to be honest I didn't notice this in the voting when your item came up...

20) Fate-binder
The Good: Norn theme is some serious cool factor and you pulled off a mechanic that works.
The Bad: Name lacks something
The Ugly: If there isn't more then one enemy in a 30ft line the action is meaningless, to me that's a design flaw. The other being no reflex save or at least attack against touch AC.
Overall: 4 stars as this item is pretty solid despite it's flaws there's a serious cool factor.

22) Magrim’s Mountain Crusher
The Good: There are some little details I dig like the mountains on the hammer seeming to crack when it is swung. Phrasing details like how the earth bucks wildly. I liked the bit with it weighing more...
The Bad: but the hyperbole and it being for "good reason" is a huge bugbear of mine.
The Ugly: It's an earth breaker that... breaks the earth. I'm surprised there's more than one in the top 32 and no offense but the other one is better.
Overall: 3 stars I'm surprised with the success of this trope this year, which isn't your fault but it was middling for me.

23) Depth Charger
The Good: Cool concept and description
The Bad: The name breaks the 4th wall in a bad way for me
The Ugly: The water breathing bit is unneeded and could easily be cut
Overall: 4 stars as in a solidly item that I wasn't in love with but certainly liked. It's actually on the upper end of this top 32 for me.

24) Breach Barrier
The Good: Original concept that feels like it should have been done before but hasn't
The Bad: It's an interesting SiaC but still a SiaC
The Ugly: I agree with the sentiment that this is missing something that would make it superstar as I define it.
Overall: 4.5 Stars as I liked it a lot but not top 32 level. I'd publish it were it mine to publish which speaks volumes

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

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Notice check comes straight from the haunt rules. (But has been getting dinged ever since it's first appearance in Superstar way back when.)


I appreciate any advice given, I tried something some what risky (in my opinion) with naming the abilities. Thank you in advance.

Housebreaker Bow
Aura moderate transmutation; CL 8th
Slot none; Price 16,600 gp; Weight 1 lb.

Description
This +1 glamered shortbow is made from black yew and is incredibly light and supple. The bow has 5 charges which appear as notches on the bows grip. Whenever a charge is used a notch disappears, showing the remaining charges. The charges replenish every 24 hours at midnight causing any lost notches to reappear. The bows powers are listed below.

Pick: The bow creates an arrow shaped like a lock pick. When fired at a locked object the wielder makes a ranged disable device check to pick the lock as if they had it as a trained skill with a +10 bonus. If fired outside of the bows range reduce the disable device bonus by -2 for each -2 range increment. The arrow deals normal damage when fired at anything else and vanishes 1 round after leaving the bow. (2 charges)

Stick: The bow creates an arrow with an hand shaped arrowhead to appear. When fired against a solid surface the hand sticks firmly and releases a 60-ft length of hemp rope lasting 8 rounds after which the hand and rope disappear. Anyone besides the wielder attempting to move the hand requires a DC 20 Strength check to dislodge it. (1 charge)

Shh: The bow is affected by silence (as the spell) in a 5-ft. square for 8 rounds. If the bow is not being held with at least one hand anytime during Shh being active, the power ends immediately. (2 charges)

Construction
Requirements Craft Magic Arms and Armor; knock, silence, animate rope; Cost 8,300gp

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

25) Harvestweal
The Good: I like the description and the way you tied it together thematically
The Bad: I feel like you settled on this name and it's lacking something I can't quite place
The Ugly: Given what it does I feel like it should do more damage to plants like maybe the bane property
Overall: 4.5 stars in that I had this in contention but didn't pick it when I selected my favorites for top 32. I definitely dig it though and think it well deserves it's place.

26) Ring of the Investigator
The Good: Really useful item for the investigator
The Bad: it's a niche
The Ugly: It's a little SAK
Overall: 4 Stars for me as I found this consistently solid among it's competition

27) Mountain Stance Armor
The Good: Description is solidly cool and the mechanics work well
The Bad: I'm doubling down on ugly
The Ugly: I love the book of nine swords too but I wouldn't slap a few pathfinder abilities on a stance and add that to a magic item... yep that was ugly and it's very possible you're unfamiliar with book of nine swords.
Overall: It's either a so-so conversion of 3.5 material slapped onto armor or brilliant parallel design. So 2 stars or 5 stars only you know which one you deserve.

28) Rimewinder
The Good: Such a good name and it has fairly solid abilities
The Bad: cold dagger and weather themes are both tropes this year.
The Ugly: I feel it's a bit of a cheat that it gets better in weather conditions it in fact creates. It also pretty much makes more work for the GM.
Overall: 4 stars as this was very solid but not in my tops spots.

]

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka dien

Solspiral:

Thanks very much for the critique. I'm flattered as heck to know Ophidian Coil was in your top 32. *salute*

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

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29) Hide of the Vibrant Frog
The Good: Really neat theme, solid description, and I love getting a tongue attack!
The Bad: I want a climb speed!
The Ugly: Ok big issue, disabling it is a standard action so my healer is getting poisoned if I get koed?
Overall: 4.5 Stars as this was for certain under consideration when I was picking top 32 for my personal records but I'd like a limit per day use or some kind of active mechanic for the poison power.

30) Shield of Stormwall
The Good: Cool name and neat concept
The Bad: For my tastes you could have added something else in the mix lix maybe the shocking weapon property when you shield bash or something...
The Ugly: As the judges already mentioned it's a lot of action economy bang for not a lot of price. I could see a bard in particular having a field day with one of these
Overall: 4 stars for me as in this was a solid like not a love. I upvoted for it plenty but not against my favorites.

31) Windstrider Mail
The Good: I want this item for my swashbuckler which is about as high a compliment as I give.
The Bad: I sort fo would have liked to see a different special material than mithral but it's a minor quibble.
The Ugly: I'd consider revising the +10 CMB to a smaller number or ramp it with a +1, +2 ect
Overall: 5 Stars as in this was totally in my top 32, congrats on your repeat run.

32) Staff of the Trusted Physician
The Good: Sometimes no one wants to play the healer, this is an option for that kind of party.
The Bad: the soapstone children bothered me in a windowless van kind of way.
The Ugly: For me Superstar means swinging for the fences and being willing to go risky and healing items rarely seem to give that vibe.
Overall: 4 stars- this was another really solid item that I liked around the 80th percentile possibly edged into top 100 but not as top 32. I guess I stand corrected. I'm glad to see you make it as I liked you class guide and seem like a genuinely nice person so good luck AW.

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

Ok once I finish up with the alternates I'm tacking the CMI thread... feeling a little behind the 8 ball this year but tonight will see a ton of reviews (GF is out of town.)

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 8 aka Angry Wiggles

GM_Solspiral wrote:

32) Staff of the Trusted Physician

The Good: Sometimes no one wants to play the healer, this is an option for that kind of party.
The Bad: the soapstone children bothered me in a windowless van kind of way.
The Ugly: For me Superstar means swinging for the fences and being willing to go risky and healing items rarely seem to give that vibe.
Overall: 4 stars- this was another really solid item that I liked around the 80th percentile possibly edged into top 100 but not as top 32. I guess I stand corrected. I'm glad to see you make it as I liked you class guide and seem like a genuinely nice person so good luck AW.

A lot of people seem to have commented on how the figurines bothered them. I had a mental image of a family doctor traveling between images, while I mistakenly portrayed something far darker. That is definitely something I need to pay closer attention to in the future.

I appreciate the honest criticisms, and they mirror much of what I have heard this week already. If this was good enough, it was only barely so. I have to do better. I have to take more risks, show more teeth, and push harder if I am to succeed through the rest of this contest. Thanks again for the kind words.

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

33) Fellbough Hookhammer
The Good: size bonus for trip DC was a neat idea
The Bad: dumb question but does it stack with say enlarge person
The Ugly: I'm not going to rant about back story in an item but I could. Short version it doesn't belong and you could have spent those words more wisely
Overall: 1 star as in breaks 4th wall in a bad way. This is a bugbear for me as in it's an unsolicited look into your game. Anyone in the industry who interacts with a certain type of gamer gets sucked into a black hole of them telling you about their game and saying things like, feel free to use that. If that seems harsh I apologize but it is coming from a place of honesty.

34) Harlequin’s Hurlbat
The Good: Touches on a theme that I love and the mechanics interact in a way that makes the player choose what benfit they want which is in my book smart design
The Bad: still slight clarity issues
The Ugly: For some characters that perform check is a joke for other's it's just not going to happen
Overall: 5 stars for me as in this was in my top 32. I can't quite hope you get in because it means bad things for others but if you do or don't get a shot at R2 know the FLying Pincushion door si always open to you.

35) Tunnel Fighter's Ring
The Good: Really cool niche I would not have thought of and I'm not easily impressed.
The Bad: gold seems like a poor choice for materials
The Ugly: Ok here's the hammer, that description is a solid eye roller. 2 strands are not hard to keep up with... I get where you were going with it but I would have beat you up on it if you were in my pit crew.
Overall: 4.5 stars on a reread. Honestly voter fatigue had me not reading this carefully enough to like it and it totally doesn't deserve me initial assessment of being middling. This deserved consideration to top 32.

36) Rod of the Iron Rose
The Good: There were very few good rods and I liked this a lot. You truly invented mechanics which shows a swing for the fences mentality.
The Bad: Iron gardens is problematic because it doesn't specify an AOE
The Ugly: How to abuse the transmute power- step 1 plant growth spell, step 2 transmute all that to iron, step 3 sell all that to the local blacksmith watch the mining industry collapse and profit.
Overall: 4 stars in that I liked it but wanted to edit it badly and that kept it out of my top 32.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 8 aka Angry Wiggles

benjamin wilkins wrote:
A lot of people seem to have commented on how the figurines bothered them. I had a mental image of a family doctor traveling between images, while I mistakenly portrayed something far darker. That is definitely something I need to pay closer attention to in the future.

Family doctor traveling between towns... towns... I'm not even sure how I made that typo.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

Thanks for the feedback, Solspiral. I know you don't hold back so I take a 4.5 as high praise. And I did struggle with the name, so I'm not surprised at that reaction. :) FWIW, an early version did have the plant-bane property but that both boosted the cost and moved it toward an exclusively offensive focus that I felt conflicted with the feel I was going for. I certainly understand why you'd desire that, however.

Thanks again.

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

As we move out of the folks getting shiny new forum tags be aware the reviews are going to get more... abrupt. It's actionable feedback but I go into voter mode a little.

Page 1)

37) Windpath Razor
The Good: great name and elegant mechanics
The Bad: competed with a few other items in theme
The Ugly: No description of the item itself when you have the word count to do so is a problem for me
Overall: 4.5 stars as in I liked it enough to consider it a contender and would not have been surprised to see it in top 32.

38) ROD OF VERSATILE CHANNELING
The Good: I dig the channeling design space and your description was a good hint at what you were going to do
The Bad: caps lock title sets off a tick
The Ugly: Predictable mechanics for me, there were some clarity issues.
Overall: 3.5 stars for me, could have been a contender with time and a few more editorial passes. Find a pit crew next year if you don't have one.

39) Alchemist's Retort
The Good: Solid idea of having your shield drop splash weapons on foes, promotes teamwork between alchemist and party tank.
The Bad: "but is no less effective in combat" = hyperbole, murder it in your writing when you see it. Trust audience to draw their own conclusions or show rather than tell them.
The Ugly: The misstep for me is having the shield explode and reform.
Overall: 4 stars for me. Want that 5th star? deliver the cone in a more flavorful way (like the shield having a face and firing like a breath weapon for example.

40) Enlightened Jian
The Good: This grew on me as a voter. I didn't like it at first but the simplicity and utility eventually won me over
The Bad: Mithral + long sword sets a generic expectation
The Ugly: Feels under priced and I hate the name.
Overall: 4 stars for me. I liked it almost enough to go 4.5 stars but the field was deep in the weapon category in my opinion.

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

GM_Solspiral wrote:


35) Tunnel Fighter's Ring
The Ugly: Ok here's the hammer, that description is a solid eye roller. 2 strands are not hard to keep up with... I get where you were going with it but I would have beat you up on it if you were in my pit crew.

Ha! Fair enough point! I kinda cheated on the visuals all around, really. I should have aimed more at weirdness of how the effect would actually look if you were witnessing it. One of the judges mentioned something about coming into space from "an angle", ala Hounds of Tindalos, and that's an idea that probably could have ramped up both the description and the effect itself.

Thanks for your comments, and glad you liked the idea of it!

Star Voter Season 8 aka TealDeer

GM_Solspiral wrote:

36) Rod of the Iron Rose
The Ugly:How to abuse the transmute power- step 1 plant growth spell, step 2 transmute all that to iron, step 3 sell all that to the local blacksmith watch the mining industry collapse and profit.

Yo your other critique points are totally legit (and appreciated!) but you're wrong on this one. I put it right in the power description, taken straight from wall of iron

Quote:
Iron created by this ability is not suitable for use in the creation of other objects and cannot be sold.

Like Wall of Iron, this stuff is sub-par quality pig-iron and also ~magic~. My item has issues, but economic collapse isn't one of them -- it's something I specifically asked my "Pit Crew" to help me avoid, because I hate that stuff in games. If my players break the economy I want them to work for it, darn it!

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

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Jensen Toperzer wrote:


Yo your other critique points are totally legit (and appreciated!) but you're wrong on this one. I put it right in the power description, taken straight from wall of iron

Quote:
Iron created by this ability is not suitable for use in the creation of other objects and cannot be sold.

Like Wall of Iron, this stuff is sub-par quality pig-iron and also ~magic~. My item has issues, but economic collapse isn't one of them -- it's something I specifically asked my "Pit Crew" to help me avoid, because I hate that stuff in games. If my players break the economy I want them to work for it, darn it!

Ok I went to your item again because I was expecting to rebutt your comment with a "just because it's in the spell doesn't mean I'm going to assume it's intended to be in your item" but dang there it is right in your item. I glazed right over it again and I was looking for it...

Comment retracted, new UGLY: DC on iron entanglement should be higher considering it's intended to be like entangle only better!

All in all don't take this the wrong way but... nice rod

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

1 person marked this as a favorite.

41) Mail of Ash Woven Ramparts
The Good: You brought the cinematic which I appreciate
The Bad: Ramparts in the name feels off
The Ugly: The description is muddled and confusing
Overall: 3 stars for me. I recognize the cool factor but it's an eye for the storm concept I've seen before with a description I can't endorse... makes it middling.

42) Grave-Nettle
The Good: You mechanics are clear and well written and you did well with formatting and price.
The Bad: hyphen doesn't belong in name
The Ugly: essentially an animate dead tacked onto a dagger
Overall: 2 stars for me. It's perfectly functional but doesn't really do anything I can't see coming or what I'd call inventive.

43) Staff of the Vineyard
The Good: I liked the rider powers for the staff
The Bad: formatting issue, I'm sure you know better now
The Ugly: While I liked the extra abilities you went too far by giving it too many... making this an underpriced SAK
Overall: 4 stars as in I liked didn't love it. Also welcome to the over designed SAK club where I'm not just the president I'm also a member.

44) Angazhan’s Bloodthirsty Spear
The Good: I dig the choice of a spear, spears deserve the love.
The Bad: ok it's piss me off if my weapon started crying blood those stains are a b+@%# to get out
The Ugly: End of the day this is a low bonus or in niche situations overpowered if a character built around it. I shudder to think what abuses my murderhobos could come up with
Overall: 2 stars for an ill conceived idea with a decent execution

45) Chrysalis Carapace
The Good: Honestly one of my favorite things you've written and we're crew.
The Bad: The wearer of the armor would never feel clean
The Ugly: You tacked on a power last minute and it basically gave a ho hum movement bonus. I'd have suggested the insects prove soft cover/concealment for a round which would be awesome for a druid or ranger with stealth and make a heck of a lot more sense.
Overall: 5 Stars and would have made my top 32 regardless fo that issue.

46) Dirk of Treachery
The Good: It's formatted well and inventive...
The Bad: "favored by" -you know better
The Ugly: There are 3 end users for this type of item: 1) Murderhobos that would in-fight party members, 2) Plot items not likely to see player use, 3) high end roleplaying rogue types. I only want the latter at my table.
Overall: 2 stars for a ably designed concept I'm not at all fond of.

47) Monastic Staff
The Good: Prolly the best execution on this idea I saw in the competition, solid description
The Bad: The name is boring
The Ugly: There was a thread that talked about making a ki powered staff, to people who saw that thread you create a creativity question mark
Overall: Score depends on if you saw the post, 4.5 stars if you had not 2 stars if you did.

48) Skewer Shield
The Good: You went with a shield which is a design space that needs some love and you attempted item interaction which is risky and potentially superstar
The Bad: there's nothing in your text preventing me from putting a whip in that slot and using it as weapon spikes or launching it
The Ugly: You didn't pull of the interaction concept and the launch power is goofy.
Overall: 1 Star as this is also riddled with format errors and logistic issues. You're work isn't so bad you can't learn but I'd recommend joining a community like Blazing 9 or freelance forge and getting some practice before next year. My first year item sucked worse than this...

49) Catapult Ring
The Good: Loved this, and actually catapult items are apparently a soft spot for me
The Bad: there's a cartoonish element if you look at it that way
The Ugly: I'm sorry I missed the complete lack of defense bit as a part fo your pit crew
Overall: 5 stars as in I was smitten with this one the moment I laid eyes on the first draft. In my eyes this is top 32 material

50) Living Copperthread Net
The Good: I loved this one.. the description and the effect were spot on for me
The Bad: I kind of wanted a victims suffer a penalty to saves vs electrical damage or something, it was right there...
The Ugly: There were soem good nets and this was the second best one for me...
Overall: 4.5 stars as in I considered it for top 32 but thought it was out competed by other items. solid work, PM me sometime if ou're interested in doing some 3PP stuff.

51) Shield of Compassionate Radiance
The Good: The light effect that aids paladin abilities is a solidly cool idea/mechanic
The Bad: the name is long winded for me
The Ugly: two major issues for me, 1) first sentence can confuse reader if experiencing voting fatigue because a longsword painted on a shield. 2) clarity issues on the savings throw bonus power I had to reread it 3-4 times.
Overall: 2.5 stars as a clarity issue is more than likely to cause a down vote from me. Sorry about that.

52) Jailbird's Sweetheart
The Good: I loved this thing and a big part was the name.
The Bad: you straddle the line of hyperbole, cut it out of your writing if you go pro
The Ugly:[/b} the roleplaying notes like kissing the blade can go wrong and this is ultimately just a niche version of returning.
[b]Overall:
4.5 stars for me- this thing has some serious flaws but I find your writing charming... I'd work with you.

53) Weapon Trap Shield
The Good: The core idea of a magic wooden shield disarming folk by making the weapon get stuck is a good one
The Bad: But I use a hammer...
The Ugly: clunky wording in the last paragraph
Overall: 3 stars as this had a lot of competition in it's design space and had good and poor elements.

54) Ragathiel's Regalia
The Good: Visuals like 5 wings made out of fire is how you bring a frikin' visual.
The Bad: the adamantine/mythral combo didn't land for me
The Ugly: When worn by the only character that's going to wear it the use per day restriction is moot is not good design.
Overall: 3.5 stars as in upper middling for me. I'd break it past the cull but not much further for the reasons I brought up above.

55) Perpetual Vortex Staff
The Good: This is super inventive and really swung for the fences
The Bad: I hate the name not dislike actively hate
The Ugly: You tried to reinvent the staff but what you made here is a really cool rod which is too bad
Overall: 2.5 stars as in a little below average execution. I can beat up the abilities a lot more than I'm going to bother to here. You're creative and I see that but it's unrefined creativity. Find or form a writing circle and practice, you have potential.

56) Raven Leather
The Good: Really cool mechanics, solid theme, and boss description
The Bad: you have to tan a lot of raven hides...
The Ugly: I got stuck on this mini boss from prince of persia so I'm overly familiar with the source of inspiration
Overall: 4 stars by my criteria I should have knocked you to 2 but you showed good mechanical thinking here and it's not a blatent rip off as much as a clearly inspired by... Nice work

57) The Wing Smasher’s Hammer
The Good: Solid problem solving concept
The Bad: I would want to work the name
The Ugly: with literal wings I could do this with a normal hammer and a called shot.
Overall: 3.5 stars for me as it was on the upper end of middling for me.

58) Courtier’s Solitaire
The Good: I appreciate the wide utility of the item and skill bonuses are sort of my jam and I really dig the aware of but cannot see the invisible
The Bad: you know it's a SAK right?
The Ugly: Ok sorry this is going to get brutal I'd cut every word from an Intimidate check to all viewers.
Overall: 3 stars as I found this middling. Another edit pass or two might have given this a better shot

Tapping out for the night but I will get to everyone...

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8

GM_Solspiral wrote:

20) Fate-binder

The Good: Norn theme is some serious cool factor and you pulled off a mechanic that works.
The Bad: Name lacks something
The Ugly: If there isn't more then one enemy in a 30ft line the action is meaningless, to me that's a design flaw. The other being no reflex save or at least attack against touch AC.
Overall: 4 stars as this item is pretty solid despite it's flaws there's a serious cool factor.

Thank you for the review.

One thing, there actually is a ranged touch attack that has to hit two or more creatures in order to link them. Or did you mean something else by that?

Sovereign Court Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

GM_Solspiral wrote:

50) Living Copperthread Net

The Good: I loved this one.. the description and the effect were spot on for me
The Bad: I kind of wanted a victims suffer a penalty to saves vs electrical damage or something, it was right there...
The Ugly: There were soem good nets and this was the second best one for me...
Overall: 4.5 stars as in I considered it for top 32 but thought it was out competed by other items. solid work, PM me sometime if ou're interested in doing some 3PP stuff

I'm going to be in a good mood all day. It makes me happy beyond words to have woken up to this. Thank you so much! ^.^

And yes, I will PM you today.

Champion Voter Season 6, Champion Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Champion Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
GM_Solspiral wrote:

58) Courtier’s Solitaire

The Good: I appreciate the wide utility of the item and skill bonuses are sort of my jam and I really dig the aware of but cannot see the invisible
The Bad: you know it's a SAK right?
The Ugly: Ok sorry this is going to get brutal I'd cut every word from an Intimidate check to all viewers.
Overall: 3 stars as I found this middling. Another edit pass or two might have given this a better shot

Thanks for the review. I thought I had it focused on social interaction, but the sensor took it away from that. Note to self: STAY ON TARGET.

Marathon Voter Season 8

GM_Solspiral wrote:

56) Raven Leather

The Good: Really cool mechanics, solid theme, and boss description
The Bad: you have to tan a lot of raven hides...
The Ugly: I got stuck on this mini boss from prince of persia so I'm overly familiar with the source of inspiration
Overall: 4 stars by my criteria I should have knocked you to 2 but you showed good mechanical thinking here and it's not a blatent rip off as much as a clearly inspired by... Nice work

Thank you for the review and I'm glad you liked it. I've actually never played the Prince of Persia games, if you can believe it, but now that I googled it, yeah... that's uncanny. Great minds think alike?

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Ixxix

Just wanted to hop in and say that I don't read much of the forums outside superstar so I'll take my 4.5 for the monastic staff. I saw a couple of posts in the rpg superstar forums about ki powered staffs but it was after I had submitted and I just wanted to scream "stop talking about this" as I was afraid to comment.

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

Jaragil wrote:
Thank you for the review and I'm glad you liked it. I've actually never played the Prince of Persia games, if you can believe it, but now that I googled it, yeah... that's uncanny. Great minds think alike?

Oh gods if you weren't riffing on that it's a 5 star, my main beef was that baddie literally breaks up into shadow crows...

Dedicated Voter Season 8

GM_Solspiral wrote:

48) Skewer Shield

<snip>

this is also riddled with format errors and logistic issues.

Thanks much for the feedback! If you're so inclined: other than capitalizing the item name in the description (which I realized was wrong after I saw the comment in a lot of Liz Courts' top 32 feedback), could you point me at the other format errors? The formatting was one of the few things I felt pretty solid on, so I'd like to figure out what I'm missing.

Thanks again!

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