Lucus' Critiques Collected


RPG Superstar™ General Discussion

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Inspired by people like GM_Solspiral's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and others (like Nickolas Floyd's efforts to "Edit My Item"), I too plan on trying to critique EVERYONE'S ITEM that they submit to the Official Crtique My Item Thread.

I give a longer version of my explaination about my system on my Blog Post for Fat Goblin Games.

But very quickly, here are the 5 tags I'll use. I will try to follow each of these with a pertinant comment about your item and why I would tag it as I did. <Side Note: These aren't a heirarchy per se, Rewrites aren't neccisarily "better" than Filler, for instance, it just means I'd want to do some major rewrite for the item>

Superstar = You would have been in my Top 32.
Publishable = Solid writing sample submission.
Rewrite = Concept has promise, but needs revision.
Filler = Item is "ok", but not particularly interesting.
Reject = I would have rejected this out of hand.

I'm going to focus on the people in the Thread first, trying to do it by one of my posts = one page of the Thread. I am going to wait to bother commenting on the Top 32, they're getting plenty of attention, and are likely too busy today to bother reading comments as they redraw their maps for the umpteenth time, etc.

If you'd like a more in depth discussion of one of my comments, feel free to reply here and I will attempt to explain myself.

I also included my own item submission, the Dynamic Staff to the critique thread and I'd appreciate any and all commentary on that item. (doesn't matter where you post it, I'll use Garrett's handy tracker to find it here or there or anywhere). I'll say this about my Dynamic Staff --- I went for something a little off beat because I wanted to attempt the challenge of "Staffs are hard mode" head on, and I thought it a novel solution to not making a staff simply a SiaC (while basically just being that, but with options).

So far, the only comment I've read is from the official judges post by Mark Seifter, and all it had was "*Not really a staff." to which I instantly wanted to say, "BAH! Sure it is!"

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Page One Critiques.
If I missed your item on a page, PLEASE COMMENT HERE and I'll try my best to get back to it.

Windpath Razor - Rewrite - I like the primary special ability of the blade (a wind-based bull rush when drawn) though their are questions about the specific mechanic (do you choose a direction and only affect the first creature in that line-effect, or do you have to make a special attack action, etc.), but the follow up abilty of granting unimpended movement seems off. Since the name of the item is windPATH razor, I'm assuming its the primary focus of the designer, but I would also ask --- what if I had this weapon already drawn? It couldn't aid a ally much then could I?

Rod of Versatile Channeling - Rewrite - The basic idea here is interesting, though you're offering a fairly cheap item to overcome a hard-wired into the mechancis restriction on the channel energy ability. That said, your actual mechancis also are poorly handled and I can see a few problems that would need to be addressed.

Alchemist's Retort - Publishable - I like it. The mechanics need some cleaning up, and I would question a 15' cone from an item that normally barely affects a 5' square (I think, I'd need to double check that) but the core concept is really neat and I could see "wanting" this item.

Enlightened Jian - Filler - If you had written the item for anyone to benefit from it, but a monk gets some added bonus, I might see this as just plain publishable, but as it is, its so specific, by both class and by even when that class would care (only useful for certain designs, etc.) I would be underwhelmed to say the least by seeing this item. Also, how many monk crafters are there even?

Mail of Ash Woven Ramparts - Filler - For my own odd reasons (former character of mine), I have a soft spot for all things ashen, BUT it also makes me almost more judgemental, so I'm sorry if that worked against you here. My first reaction on reading the description is a "What?" and that's not good. It took me a minute or so to figure out what this mechanic was supposed to do, and even once I think I understood it, I could think of almost no times I'd ever actually care to do it, especially using this particular version. It also could just as easily been "fog" or "shadow" or anything else and it would be basically the same, as the fact that its ASH is inmaterial really, which makes me sad (see first comment).

Grave-Nettle - Rewrite - A lot of people went with daggers this year, it seemed to me, but I can understand why -- it's a great design space and has instant visual appeal. That said, I'm not a huge fan personally of simple items that automatically make undead. It has problems (for instance, a rogue or fighter wielding this weapon has no natural ability to control undead, and the mechanics of undead control don't support it easily, etc.) but in the case of this specific weapon design, why only let it affect humans? I know you added the bane humans aspect, but I would have just left that off and had the core ability remain to raise any humanoid type. Also, rules need to be clear on what if you're not able to control undead normally, etc?

Staff of the Vineyard - Publishable - A staff, so you too tempted fate! And I recall seeing and liking this well enough during voting. It's not Superstar, but that might be a tall order for a staff in this competition. The rest of it is a a pretty solid delivery on "how to make an interesting staff" and the few revisions I'd make are just minor (like I believe all sizes are capatalized, so it provides enough to serve as rations for one Medium creature, etc.)

Angazhan's Bloodthirsty Spear - Filler - Who's Angazhan? Beyond this, you spend a lot of time describing the spear, at the end, when it should be a the beginning, and even then its a dull description. The basic bonus is worse than some other similar abilities and is wonky in that I can think of a a few problem situations to have to deal with. And the second free attack for hitting one... what? Anyways, I'd need to scrap it basically and rewrite and even then the core idea is still at best filler for a spear book.

Chrysalis Carapace - Rewrite - Isn't reflecting a shield-specific ability? I think it should be applicable to armors too, but I'm sure you got dinged for that. Your basic description even makes me want to say "ugh" and I think for style alone I'd never wear this thing. Then too, you're letting anyone wear it (because it's made out of cocoons, not metal, right) but that should be made more clear within the description. Also, still ewww. The butterfly wings seems in contrast to the comment about giant moths and gloomwings (not known for pretty wings), but isn't a terrible addition. The last ability is just odd though... especially since at the very end, I figured it summoned a swarm to attack and distract the spellcaster, not let you runaway faster (I know, its just an increase in base movement but it made me think instantly of the related spell, which is named to run away). Oh, and you forgot to add that spell to the list needed.

Dirk of Treachery - Filler - Another dagger. I swear there were a lot this year. Who's Father Skinsaw? And why have the weapon need disguise self as a required spell. Regardless, it's not a terrible design, but it doesn't feel very inspiring. Its also, due to its specific nature, perfect for a GM to give to an NPC that was once friends witht he players and then betrays them... but seems an odd item elsewise. Also, that whole former friends mechanic is left to GM's discretion which is... not good to do unless you must. Reading your own comments, your core idea source isn't bad (I love Warehouse 13) and otherwise you seem self-aware of the problems, etc so thats good.

Monastic Staff - Rewrite - Staff-Writers Unite! Anyways, I like that you went to a different design space for a staff (a staff powered by ki!), so that core concept I really like. It's all the specifics of the design that I would call into question, inclduing the spell list. Also, I would have made it still usable by anyone (just like anyone can try to use a staff, they just might need to Use Magic Device) but your wording makes it harder to explain. So the core concept (a staff, for monks, that stores ki and grants powers via charges used and acts as a quarterstaff for them too, so you could be going all flurry of blows while wielding it as a double weapon -- awesome!) is great, the exact executution needs work. I could actually foresee making a whole bunch of these, related staves.

Skewer Shield - Rewrite - So.... I think I get what you are going for here, and its not a bad core concept but the execution seems off. I'd need to go over the wording closely to find the sitauations that are problematic, but using this thing raises a lot of questions about how I can do it. Then too, this starts to have TOO MUCH going on when it can not jsut gain the weapon as per spikes, but then launch them as if a thrown weapon that's better than just and... it just starts to fall apart.

Catapult Ring - Publishable - Hahahahaahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha... this item, once I realized what you had going on, gave me an instant visual which is great. There are some minor bits I'd say need revision, and it seems cheap for being able to fling anything. but its hilarious. I guess I'd also change the name, but because it doesn't do the item justice.

Living Copperthread Net - Publishable - I'd almost go so far as to say Superstar for this item, but I think it would need just a little bit extra to be there. There are also some little mechanical question marks I'd need to double check with this, but from the inspiration to the design, to the visuals its all pretty great.

Shield of Compassionate Radiance - Filler - As its written, which is well crafted but somewhat boring, I'd say this item is filler in an item book. The basic ideas of it could be tweaked in my mind to make it much better, to the point that its one of the few items that I could see as truly Superstar, if it were done right. As it is written, I'd question if using the two lay on hands abilities would be better just spent healing instead of empowering this thng?

Jailbird's Sweetheart - Rewrite DAGGER!!! So many this year, I'm convinced (third on the same page). Anyways, you over did the summoning thing, it doesn't need to be nearly as involved as you have it. Also, once you have an adamantine dagger in your possession, you can break out of most jails (which I'm assuming was your point) since even 1d4 damage that can ignore hardness of most materials would destroy a wall or jailcell in short order. Finally, the attunement thing, with a kiss... I get the "sweetheart" but.. meh.

Weapon Trap Shield - Filler - The Skewer Shield's evil sibling :) Anyway, I like your item. I might clean up the language a bit, but it's not terrible. The item just isn't exceedingly interesting, and in that sense, its more filler than a standalone item.

Ragathiel's Regalia - Filler - You messed up on your formatting, but then also I'm not sure making something from both adamantine and mithral would lead to a benefit... Then the 5 fiery wings thing is kind of underwhelming. Its a visually appealing idea, but is really kind of standard in the end, so I'd say this is just world-specific fodder/filler.

Perpetual Vortex Staff - Rewrite - Another "outside the box" staff, excellent. I'm going to generically agree with everyone that is likely saying "But staves have spells!" but then say I'd just have you modify your language so that each of these were really just heavily modified spells. Example: Steps of faith (1 charge): Rather than creating a single floating disk as per the normal spell, you instead create a series of small floating discs that...That said, I don't think your themeing is very tight, and that's where I'd really ding you. How does faith and steps have anything to do with unending whirlwinds? I get that the disks are part of the staff, etc... but then, I guess the name and the description need to be tighter written.

Raven Leather - Filler - This is the kind of item I give the bad guy because it looks cool. That said, raven's are so 2009 (or something) and I'd say its not overly inspriing. I think too I'd say skip the gaseous raven effect, and just be able to become a swarm... And I might add a different ability in its place (make yourself into one dire raven?)

The Wing Smasher's Hammer - Filler - I like this item, but its overall kind of plain. Also, I think it would be better if it denyed even feather fall from working.

Courtier's Solitaire - Filler - This item feels like the kind of thing I give my NPC king, be he good or bad, so that I can mess with the PCs and NPCs more or to prevent the PCs from being able to too easily affect the king. That said, its not a particularly good version of what it is (makes you more eloquent and better at those kinds of skills), so I gotta go with a resounding "meh."

Staff of the Hidden Blade - Filler - I like the sword-cane-as-staff angle, so that's neat. And then the addition of the ki-as-caster stuff is interesting, but seems under developed or wrongly made. Finally, spell list fits a theme, but I don't see how that fits with the ki stuff... secret monks? Ninjas? it's ninjas right, this is a staff for ninjas? Regardless, a book full of staves similar to this wouldn't be the worst book ever, maybe check out the Monastic Staff and talk to it's creator. Oh same question to that person though --- do monk's ever even craft?

Staff of the Entwined Elements - Filler - As written, I see this item as being a solid example of an obvious staff. I was hoping for something that allowed for admixtures of the elements, not just simply "you can do all of them different ways!" and then I would question your specific spell list choices. The special powers finally of the staff starts to run long as well, so that it feels like you were really trying to make a Swiss Army Staff or soemthing. Its a solid design though and well executed, but "one staff that does many elements" is only just barely more original than "one staff that does a single element".

Honeycomb Cuirass - Filler - I saw this during votiing and thought the same thing then as I do now --- why would I want to wear sticky armor? Would it affect me in other ways? Do I attract ants? Because that might be how we get ants. Anyways... at least you went with honey instead of just nasty ooze, though I think almost everything about this could have been done with essentially "tenticle monster in your armor" and it might have appealed to people more. Regardless, your character becomes a sticky mess and gains obvious sticky mess abilities. Ok, overall, and your writing actually is solid from what I can tell. Its just a somewhat "silly" idea (silly isn't the right word but its still just off).

Deadeye's Shepherd - Filler - Hey GM_solspirlal, let me first off say, I'm not quite done with even the FIRST PAGE yet, and I've been at this for hours so I respect what you do so very much more. That said, look at your item, I'm not particularly impressed. Your main ability has some stumbling, with things like requriing a blunt arrow oddly (so, is it ANY TIME I fire a blunt arrow, or can I call forth a magical blunt arrow to fire?) and then your wording regarding proviking an attack of opportunity gets confuzzled when you add in all the many options for making firing a ranged weapon in combat not provoking attacks, etc. The bighorn ram mount is neat, but not neccisary so it seems tacked on. Then the interaction with the ring of the ram item is really cool idea, but I'm not sure about the two benefits you can get using it. And then at the very end, I'd even want to question the name... I get that you are saying pushing people around is shepherding but... no, not really. Finally, I also had The Golux's comment about the composite vs. compound thing with the wheels.

Rod of Ghost Teeth - Filler - Right away with the name I'm hesitant. Than as I read the description, I think "yup, I see where this is going." But then I get to the main ability of the rod and I am just lost for a second. So, this is a reusable wand of magic missle that is recharged by stealing a tooth from my slain foes? I actually think I would have liked this item MORE if it was just the last ability... bascially a rod that let me collect teeth from my slain foes, which I could then expend to gain access to their language temporarily as if it were an ioun stone. If the rod did just that, I think it might almost be better. My 2 cps.

Grandmaster's Plate - Filler - Chess armor. Ok... and while at the game table the ability of this armor would be totally rocking (because out of character we'd all be able to agree to some totally different set up) could you imagine in-game someone using this? At best the guy wearing it yells something to everyone, and suddenly, ou're not longer facing that goblin, mid-swing, you're behind the bugbear --- but you really, everyone's just standing there for a round going "What the heck?" Anyways, its a neat idea, but it would lead to abusive meta-gaming in my mind, so I wouldn't call it Superstar quality.

Sightstealer Rapier - Filler - The core concept isn't bad, but I agree with your own comments, it's not very ambitious. Also, the DC 13 will save feels low for a +2 weapon... but then blinding someone is pretty powerful. I guess I would question if it would ever really get to be used much in game? Also, it s a really hard to see going through that much trouble when there are easier ways to get better vision.

Thieving Bucker - Publishable - You forgot to include the steal combat manuever! Other than that, I like the idea alot. I'd probably question the last sentence about it taking time to find stuff till you've owned the buckler for a while, and I might tweak when the buckler can be used to grab "blocked items" but otherwise I like it.

Dimensional Skewer - Filler - Wait what? I'm not really sure what this is supposed to do? So I stab a person, then I can stab out from that person? But.. how does' that work? I mean, I see how it works mechancially (which you do alright at, though I see issues that could come up) but just... why? I could sooner see wanting to stab a wall say, then wait for someone to take cover behind said wall and be able to attack them where they thought they were safe! But your discription is so "body"/creature centric, I'm uncertain I could do that with this weapon.

Phantom Guardian's Ring - Filler - So, this is a phantom friend in a ring that I can call out and use and abuse when needed. You do a solid enough write up on it, but U just don't see it as being all that interesting. I see plenty of times I'd like to use it, but its also possibly handled wrong, since it adds a lot of complexity to the table as we need to track this thing, apply its own odd rules, etc.

Mummer's Slapstick - SUPERSTAR! - I'm assuming you totally mean for this to be a serious item, despite its comedic roots. As that, I totally see it. And I love it, love it, love it. ITs great. I might question a few of the mechanical effects, and I'd suggest you alter a little language to be more inclusive and add variety but its an awesome item, well written, and well thought out. First Superstar Item I have tagged.

End of Page 1

After spending ALL MORNING (started at 8 am, worked till noon) writing these first page reviews, I believe it is going to take me a week or more to do this... but I will try!

Anyways, um... lets see... 32? done, and likely hundreds more to go!

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Great, thanks for the review of my Sightstealer Rapier.
The DC is calculated by magic item creation rules. While I personally agree that it feels low, I also recognized that I'm used to high power games, and against a lot of brute monsters in standard games, DC 13 Will is fairly respectable for a more-or-less encounter-ending blind (against that opponent, at least).
It's definitely not the best way to get special vision, but hey, stab a drow and you're set for exploring the Underdark for a while.

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Lucus Palosaari wrote:
Living Copperthread Net - Publishable - I'd almost go so far as to say Superstar for this item, but I think it would need just a little bit extra to be there. There are also some little mechanical question marks I'd need to double check with this, but from the inspiration to the design, to the visuals its all pretty great.

I almost cried just now.

Thank you so much! ^.^

You say you have mechanical questions? Like what?

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Lucus Palosaari wrote:
So far, the only comment I've read is from the official judges post by Mark Seifter, and all it had was "*Not really a staff." to which I instantly wanted to say, "BAH! Sure it is!"

In order to look at more items, the judges were necessarily terser than a full detailed critique each time. If you'd like to know more details in that vein, I can get back to expanding your item's critique some time later. For now, I recall that the minimum caster level (needs to be 17th since it might be storing a 9th), the pricing (even if we ignore the 17th level part, a staff of 13th CL that holds three set spells that each cost a number of charges equal to their spell level costs 23,400, and this has multiple advantages over such a staff), and the number of charges recharged were all issues.

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Lucus Palosaari wrote:
Staff of the Entwined Elements - Filler - As written, I see this item as being a solid example of an obvious staff. I was hoping for something that allowed for admixtures of the elements, not just simply "you can do all of them different ways!" and then I would question your specific spell list choices. The special powers finally of the staff starts to run long as well, so that it feels like you were really trying to make a Swiss Army Staff or soemthing. Its a solid design though and well executed, but "one staff that does many elements" is only just barely more original than "one staff that does a single element".

Do you have any details on what you mean by allowing admixtures of the elements? And what would you question or suggest about the spell list?

I agree that the elemental enhancement power at the least took up more words than I wanted it too; I pictured it very clearly and it seemed like a simple idea, but when describing it it got more complicated than I wanted.

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Brigg wrote:
Lucus Palosaari wrote:
Living Copperthread Net - [b]xxx

I almost cried just now.

Thank you so much! ^.^

You say you have mechanical questions? Like what?

Making the net act as a Medium sized animated object is a solid idea, but I think when I looked at those on the PRD and tried to just make the adjustments you commented on in the item, I'd still have to basically stat up the monster to really handle it right (and its not like there's a pre-made animated net). So though it would have likely pushed you over your word count, I think in a book they would have just given full stats for the animated net, and then it would be clear in that right up how hard it was to fighting it off, etc.

The magic item itself and its game mechanics were solid enough (others can comment on price, etc. I'm clearly not that great at it).

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Lucus Palosaari wrote:
Brigg wrote:
Lucus Palosaari wrote:
Living Copperthread Net - [b]xxx

I almost cried just now.

Thank you so much! ^.^

You say you have mechanical questions? Like what?

Making the net act as a Medium sized animated object is a solid idea, but I think when I looked at those on the PRD and tried to just make the adjustments you commented on in the item, I'd still have to basically stat up the monster to really handle it right (and its not like there's a pre-made animated net). So though it would have likely pushed you over your word count, I think in a book they would have just given full stats for the animated net, and then it would be clear in that right up how hard it was to fighting it off, etc.

The magic item itself and its game mechanics were solid enough (others can comment on price, etc. I'm clearly not that great at it).

I think, in retrospect, there may have been a way for me to do it without going over word count. But time was running out, and the calls to not submit at the last second were ringing well in the forefront of my mind. I decided to stick with my "Keep from reiterating existing rules and text" approach and submit it.

But thank you very much. I want to use this time in critiques finding out what I could have done differently.

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The Golux wrote:
Lucus Palosaari wrote:
Staff of the Entwined Elements xxx

Do you have any details on what you mean by allowing admixtures of the elements? And what would you question or suggest about the spell list?

I agree that the elemental enhancement power at the least took up more words than I wanted it too; I pictured it very clearly and it seemed like a simple idea, but when describing it it got more complicated than I wanted.

I hate when that happens (you think an idea is easy but 100 words later you're still not done.

As for the admixture comment, in 3.5 there was a feat(?) or other means of altering spells so you not only substituted energy of one time for another (fireball becomes acidball), but were able to mix them together (so that I had a fireball with acid damage too).

I was hoping, with the use of the word entwining, that the staff would allow for me to cast a scroching ray that did like fire and cold damage or something.

Looking through the PRD, I couldn't find a Paizo written similar feat, so I'm guessing they haven't done quite that one yet.

That's what I meant.

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Half-original-half-new-element is actually an option with the feat Elemental Spell. Simply allowing the feat to be applied with a charge could have worked and saved some words, but in that case, the spell's descriptors wouldn't change. Also, that wouldn't allow for an acid/cold version of scorching ray, which I would have liked to have available (possibly for an extra charge) if I was going to go into the mixing.

(I also considered other things like having the metamagic function discounted while the elemental flame was in effect if applied for that element, but I didn't want to make it more complicated even if I had more words)

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Mark Seifter wrote:
Lucus Palosaari wrote:
So far, the only comment I've read is from the official judges post by Mark Seifter, and all it had was "*Not really a staff." to which I instantly wanted to say, "BAH! Sure it is!"
In order to look at more items, the judges were necessarily terser than a full detailed critique each time. If you'd like to know more details in that vein, I can get back to expanding your item's critique some time later. For now, I recall that the minimum caster level (needs to be 17th since it might be storing a 9th), the pricing (even if we ignore the 17th level part, a staff of 13th CL that holds three set spells that each cost a number of charges equal to their spell level costs 23,400, and this has multiple advantages over such a staff), and the number of charges recharged were all issues.

Thanks Mark for commenting (more)!

I assumed it was mere brevity for the sake of the judges. If I were going through 352+ items and had a hard deadline, once I stopped liking one I'd most likely just comment as much to move on to the other 350+ to sort. So I didn't take it personally.

As to the minimum caster level, my thinking was basing on the use of limited wish rather than a 9th level spell, but I knew that was a gamble.

For pricing, you get to divide the cost by the number of charges used, so limited wish being a 7th level spell, so 400 gp x 7th level spell x 13th level caster level = 36,400 but divided by costing 7 charges = 5,200 gp. I accounted for 3 of those (adjusting secondary and tertiary powers to 300 gp and 200 gp) and got 11,700 gp. I rounded down, because costing so much for use actually brought it down in my mind, and set 10,000 gp for the base price, 20,000 gp for market. I should have used wish as the basis and 17th level/9th level, but I still would have likely applied my numbers the same for a price of like 15,300 base and 30,600 total (which really still isn't a bad price). It just puts the level of the creator so far out of bounds that no one would ever try to build it. 13th level felt about right as to when a staff like this would be desirable.

Not liking how charges getting added would mean not liking the core creative bit (as I saw it) which would be a vote against the design <i.e. you didn't find it to be Superstar quality>
Sticking to the "1 charge gained for any spell added" would have been either a) more abusive since a low level spell each day could add charges without costing much or b) be too slow, as it would take forever to be able to recharge the staff properly.

So yeah, I wasn't surprised I didn't make it to the Top 32, people didn't like the design. *shrug*

<note: I wrote this comment as response to Mark, but he basically brought up 2 or 3 comments I was mostly expecting to be the case, so I thought I'd try to explain them here>

Thanks again for critiquing it, Mark.

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Thanks for the review Lucus!

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Ok, back to doing page 2 (so many people submitted items!)

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Lucus Palosaari wrote:
Catapult Ring - Publishable - Hahahahaahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha... this item, once I realized what you had going on, gave me an instant visual which is great. There are some minor bits I'd say need revision, and it seems cheap for being able to fling anything. but its hilarious. I guess I'd also change the name, but because it doesn't do the item justice.

Thank you, sir; I appreciate the kind comments. I may actually be contacting you shortly about your Open Call to Arms.

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Lucus Palosaari wrote:
Deadeye's Shepherd - Filler - Hey GM_solspirlal, let me first off say, I'm not quite done with even the FIRST PAGE yet, and I've been at this for hours so I respect what you do so very much more. That said, look at your item, I'm not particularly impressed. Your main ability has some stumbling, with things like requriing a blunt arrow oddly (so, is it ANY TIME I fire a blunt arrow, or can I call forth a magical blunt arrow to fire?) and then your wording regarding proviking an attack of opportunity gets confuzzled when you add in all the many options for making firing a ranged weapon in combat not provoking attacks, etc. The bighorn ram mount is neat, but not neccisary so it seems tacked on. Then the interaction with the ring of the ram item is really cool idea, but I'm not sure about the two benefits you can get using it. And then at the very end, I'd even want to question the name... I get that you are saying pushing people around is shepherding but... no, not really. Finally, I also had The Golux's comment about the composite vs. compound thing with the wheels.

RE: time and respect- I found reviewing everything while time consuming made me a better designer and editor. I also like to give back to the community.

RE: not impressed- look at you challenging the alpha reviewer dog... I'm sort of impressed :P For the record this review will not impact the one I'm doing for yours in time... it was always going to be that bad!

RE: blunt arrow- Someone noticed! Finally, yeah that was totally n purpose and meant to be a subtle way to keep people from mixing magic ammo with the bow's effects and creating weird logical messes. No one enchants blunt arrows...

RE: yeah I could have ditched the bit on AOEs that was a serious misstep.

RE: The Ram summons- I cut this power anticipating this response by the viewing public. The main idea was initially that the bow turned into a ghostly ram and the bow would be the Ram's rack. I cut it then ended up putting it back in deciding it was for me the part of the item that swung for the fences. Sadly I think it iswhat made it not land.

RE: Names- Shepherding Recurve, Ram Bow, and Bighorn Bow were my alternate names. I landed on Deadeye's Shepherd when I considered that small herding communities likely worship Erastil and his favored weapon is a longbow.

RE: Ring of Ram- Power one uses charges for more umph on the main power, power 2 makes it a club that had properties I thought tied in well with the theme. This was my favorite idea I could have and should have played with more.

Re: Wheels bit- yeah that was me getting the two types mixed up... I kicked myself a little on that one

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Loving the reviews Lucus

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Lucus Palosaari wrote:
Shield of Compassionate Radiance - Filler - As its written, which is well crafted but somewhat boring, I'd say this item is filler in an item book. The basic ideas of it could be tweaked in my mind to make it much better, to the point that its one of the few items that I could see as truly Superstar, if it were done right. As it is written, I'd question if using the two lay on hands abilities would be better just spent healing instead of empowering this thng?

Thank you for your review, Lucus. I'm glad you find it well written and that the basic idea has some Superstar potential, despite the safe and bland nature of it.

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Page 2 of Official Critique Thread

Alright, after some lunch back to work!

Riftcarver Bow - Filler - You spend a little too long on description. One sentence, maybe two... then lets move on to the stuff I came here for -- it's abilities! Once we get to the ability, I kind of like it (a bow that lets you trip, even larger targets - neat) and then the riftcarving namesake ability is... meh. All and all, its not a bad idea, its just not overly impressive. It feels well enough written though.

Rerouting Shield - Filler - Portal Shield... neat. As with a number of such items, its not a bad one, its just not bringing much to the table that makes it really different. The second ability of it being used on a bull rush isn't much more interesting. In many ways, I'd rather the shield's special ability was written more generally and thus creative players could do many things with having a shield that sends things away... though then control over said portal becomes tricky mechanically, etc.

Rod of Illusory Casting - Rewrite - I actually really like the idea of this rod (trying to detect or see what spell I am casting instead reveals false information) but the mechanics feel wonky. Also, I think I saw someone called out the fact that as you have it written, this might be unbeatable, which is possibly too powerful for 5,000 gp. I don't know if magic items cannot radiate magic? Is there an example? In a sense then, this may be better as a different item like a ring then.

Dwarven Armor of Exploration - Publishable - At first I was going to label this as Filler, but then I realized that actually its a really well written "armor that lets me become X" -- in this armor's case, you can become MudMan with all the powers of MUD! Joking aside, even the choice of making it a chain shirt is nice, but I would question why bother with the added cost of mithral? I'd have to think really hard about your acutal mud-man mechanics too, but I'm guessing someone else will point out how they are flawed.

Gnome Splat-Pelter - Filler - I didn't even look at your initial version (so comments are about the one I saw not under a spoiler). I actually remeber seeing this item while voting. I never got the obsession with oozes, but hey, to each their own. That all said, I could totally see gnomes making this. I guess, rather than make it an ooze crossbow, I'd have preferred it was just a magical crossbow able to launch any number of splash weapons and then you add a special bit about launching oozes and other things that go splat. I have too many odd questions too about the little baby orche jelly living inside it... what about it's needs, what about it's wants?

Black-And-White Sword - Rewrite - I see this sword idea as being like 3 ideas mashed into one. The first is just a ice sword, of which, we have too many. So you added some spin... the cold irion and silver bit.. that's interesting but... almost added as an after thought. I guess I'd like to have seen a half and half sword here, and it would have been someone melding cold iron to mithral (for silver) and... I don't know, adding something worth that trouble. The illusionary nature of the benefits (is it only keen as an illusion?) and its funky recharge thing... it just kind has TOO MUCH going on.

Varisian Dancing Chain - Rewrite - Ok, as you have it, it's not bad. I think you're one of the few cases I would have said "this would have been better crafted from a special material (mithral)" which is funny to me because most of the time I think people over use that. The reason for the mithral would have been because it would have pushed up that max Dex bonus even more... and in a sense, +6 is still too low. If this had basically no Dex maximum, I'd have liked it more (broken mechanic or not) and then the reversing an attack of opportunity idea is neat, but not how I would have handled it mechanically I don't think.

Springheart - Filler - I don't actually think this is a wondrous item written as a ring, but this would be way better as just a wondrous item. The temp. hp is kind of meaningless in my mind, and then its one-and-done actual ability is... too expensive. I don't know when anyone would want to use this, though its neat. I'd likely have the imagary you describe happen to impress on PCs how frigging cool the fey they're talking to is "Dude just took a ring off his finger, and boom! butterfly! and he said its off to warn the Ents! Now all we need is to find the Eagles!"

Raw Meat Hook - Filler - Blood and guts. Lovely. I am sorry if I almost wanted to just reject this out of hand, BUT I read on... and I'd say you do a thorough write up on an weapon I would equip a nasty NPC with, likely the boss battle. I then would frown if any of my players kept the thing. Beyond all that, its not particularly interesting, and trying to use it would require me reading a block of text, which is never any fun.

Shield of the Fallen - Filler - Why a V? Ohh... Sparta. Yeah --- I wouldn't have mentioned them by name. And while the basic idea is ok, to kind of meh. I don't think the Spartan's would have cared for it. They buried their dead on the battlefield with a simple headstone and little ritual as far as I knew (me = not an expert). That works against you.

Betrayer's Blade - Filler - Don't we already have this weapon? Maybe not... anyways, it feels really obvious and is much less interesting for that reason. I know of at least two characters that would have loved this weapon in campaigns I played in, and it would have only made them more abusive. Then there are some minor mechanical questions like, does that 2d6 stack with sneak attack? is it preventable using fortification, etc. It feels like a thing that has been done before, and I liked the old one better.

Warbreaker's Staff - Rewrite - Core concept I love. Even the mechanics you start with I like. But I want this to be MORE. It needed a bit more description, it needed a bit more going for it too. As it is, I can't see anyone with this being able to break up a war... they'd jsut be able to aid one side or the other, mostly. But what you started with is solid.

Ring of the Clockwork Sentinel - Rewrite - Ok, first up... I had to dig through two full, long paragraphs before I got to the "meat" of this item, and that's bad. A lot of that descriptive text was interesting, but I keep skipping along as I read to find out what the heck this thing did. Once I found out, I liked the principle, even the set up... but not the actual words. It seems like this whole item could have been written twice as well with half the words, and it would have been a solid choice for Superstardom. As is, I wouldn't rewrite the whole thing, just tighten up language and switch where description was vs. item ability, but then it's just filler.

Talon - Publishable - I know I saw this TWICE during the voting period, and both times I upvoted it. That said, it was because it was up against bad items, but there are things to like about your write up. First off, I LIKE that you did a singular name. Not al magic items need to be a generic, and I don't mind seeing a unique one. Now, it is just a ranged version of the "club of healing" meaning "i'll beat you with it to make you better" which is a kind of old joke within rpgs. That said, solid execution of the old standby. If it wasn't a specifically named item, I'd ditch some of the descriptive text (the emeralds, for instance) and I kind of wish it could beused MORE often, at least against undead becuase THEN I'd actually really like it. As it is, I like it anyways.

Celerity Blade - Publishable - Quicksilver's sword then? I've seen this blade before (I mean that there are other "Faster and lighter" weapons with speed bonus) but this is a pretty interesting version of the same old thing. That said, it's passable to say the least if not particularly interesting. I'm unsure of the strong quickling/fey connection, normally I love that stuff, but in this case it actually slows down the build (oh that's a bad pun, sorry).

Outrider's Band - Rewrite - Good on you for posting despite knowing it might sting. That said... interesting... So, why did you go with inventing the ipotane rather than just making the character become/have the stats of a centaur? I see where you didn't give them the four legs (still bipeds, etc.) but guess I'm curious why? The last bit about alcohol and untrained mounts was a gamble to add I bet, and kind of distracts from the design. In this case then, I would have preferred, personally, if it was a ring that made me a centaur, and I could still like access the gear on my horse, etc. rather than this bizarre ipotane form (which is interesting but... odd).

Only 15 items on Page 2 that I found --- thank you to everyone that responded to first page in the Thread so I didn't have another 32 items to push through!

End of Page 2 of Official Critique Thread

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GM_Solspiral wrote:
Lucus Palosaari wrote:
Deadeye's Shepherd XXX

RE: time and respect- xxx

RE: not impressed- xxx

RE: blunt arrow- xxx

RE: AoE - xxx

RE: The Ram summons- xxx

RE:RE: Time & Respect: I am finding what you said to be true. It's part of why I'm doing it, as for the first time, I'm taking on other freelancers and I figure I'll be trying to do this A LOT more in the near future. That said, I also felt that comments from you and others in the past really pushed me as a writer and got me started in the game, so I should pay back the community and help the next batch.

RE:RE: Not Impressed: I have no desire to hold your rank or title, Alpha. I expect your review to be honest and likely harsh (see my defense of my item above from Mark's comments) but in my case I think its because I set myself a challenge and risked it on a gamble (which at least for the judges, I failed at). I did alright with the voters since I made it past the Cull, and I'll be curious if they release the Top 100 if I'm there. Either way, I went for something I didn't expect to "win" because I wanted to put the idea out there to be attacked. We had good conversation on one another entries we didn't submit, so bring it ;-)

RE:RE: Blunt Arrows: Yeah there was a bunch about that aspect that made me wonder. That's a solid logic, though I think I might have tried to do it more clearly if its what you were going for.

RE:RE AOE: I don't think I have anything to add.

RE:RE Ram Summons: Your initial idea would have made it make more sense I guess... but I'd say in part your choice suffered from recent popular culture. I instantly thought of the mountain goats that the dwarves in The Hobbit, the Third One rode to get up the mountain... and it didn't help. Different animals and all but, yeah... mounting Mountain Goats to do what they did... I mean in the moment, I loved that scene but yeah... Goats!

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My apologies everyone --- I wont likely get to Page 3 posted till possibly as late as Monday, Jan 25th.

I hadn't realized I would spend about 8 hrs today just getting this far, and I'm traveling tomorrow and back on Sunday, so unless I can steal time away from the wife and kid to hop on here, I'm going to likely be away for that stretch. But starting Monday, I'll be back at it and attempting to finish darn-it!!

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/me chains luke to his pc, hahaha!

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Not nice Jeff, not nice at all.

Continuing with my defense of my item (I'll stop sooner or later), Eric Meepo had the following bit to say:

Eric Morton wrote:

Dynamic Staff - One of my personal top 48. Its ability to regain charges so quickly would need to be scaled back or cut, though. As is, high-level spellcasters could use these things as bargain-basement, 9th-level pseudo pearls of power.

Thank you for putting me in your Top 48!

I'd like to point out, because a few people have mentioned it, that though you'd regain a LOT of charges quickly, you spend them quickly too... (costs as many charges as spell level, so 9th level spell costs 9 out of 10 possible charges).

The comparison to the Pearl of Power isn't bad, but where as for 81,000 gp, you could cast one extra 9th level spell everyday, you'd have to do one of the following with the dynamic staff
a) recharge it slowly, wasting one lower than 9th level spell each day till you had at least 9 charges again,
or
b) waste a 9th level spell the next day to recharge it to 9 charges to cast the 9th level spell again at some point

That at least was the intention of the comment that "This imbuing counts as the spellcaster's one imbuing of a staff per day." in the design... i.e. you only can recharge it with a single spell per day.

Now a potential point of abuse would be to have 9 different casters cast 9 different first level spells in one day (or some iteration of that) but how many adventures have that kind of option, and at the point you're doing that, most staves become abusive (i.e. if I can just pay some underlings to charge them, then its too easy).

I kind of look forward to seeing if Nickolas Floyd has an alternative design in his "Edit My Item" thread...???

That all said too, it could be abused for sure by high level casters, but I partially liked that --- some staves sort of lose their effectiveness at higher levels in my experience.

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More banter that doesn't need to clog the thread:
Lucus Palosaari wrote:
RE:RE Ram Summons: Your initial idea would have made it make more sense I guess... but I'd say in part your choice suffered from recent popular culture. I instantly thought of the mountain goats that the dwarves in The Hobbit, the Third One rode to get up the mountain... and it didn't help. Different animals and all but, yeah... mounting Mountain Goats to do what they did... I mean in the moment, I loved that scene but yeah... Goats!

RE: Tolkien- I haven't seen that yet and will say something that might have me stoned in the town square... The Lord of the Rings was just ok for me and I mean the books not the movies. 6 f**king pages to describe a ripple in a pond. I know it's an analogy for "ripple effect" but I think 1-2 pages would have done the same job. Later I learned he was paid by the word.

I was unaware of the goat scene.

True Story: My first Vampire LARP character was a rock singer Toreadore who used celerity to enhance his vocals. There was a lot of eye rolling from the kid that helped me make my character. Later I read The Vampire Lestate and understood...

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GM_Solspiral wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

HAHAHAHAHA -- oh man. The Lestat thing. So much so. And no worries, I thought Tolkien could use a good edit too for brevity's sake.

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Lucus Palosaari wrote:
Perpetual Vortex Staff - Rewrite - Another "outside the box" staff, excellent. I'm going to generically agree with everyone that is likely saying "But staves have spells!" but then say I'd just have you modify your language so that each of these were really just heavily modified spells. Example: Steps of faith (1 charge): Rather than creating a single floating disk as per the normal spell, you instead create a series of small floating discs that...That said, I don't think your themeing is very tight, and that's where I'd really ding you. How does faith and steps have anything to do with unending whirlwinds? I get that the disks are part of the staff, etc... but then, I guess the name and the description need to be tighter written.

First things first, thank you for your review! My item was DQ'd, but the reviews I have gotten today have been invaluable. So thanks so much for your time.

Ok - I just wanted to answer your question about the theme. It is admittedly obscure, which is part of the problem. Didn't really matter this year in the contest since I was DQd, but definitely adding it to the lessons learned for next year.

Steps of Faith - a-la Indiana Jones with a biblical type theme.

Throw the first stone - again, biblical background with the woman caught in adultery, found in the Gospel of John, ch 8, v 1-11

Cleansing Vortex - even more of a stretch, referencing Jesus cleansing of the temple in Matthew ch 21, v12-13.

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Lucus Palosaari wrote:
Mummer's Slapstick - SUPERSTAR! - I'm assuming you totally mean for this to be a serious item, despite its comedic roots. As that, I totally see it. And I love it, love it, love it. ITs great. I might question a few of the mechanical effects, and I'd suggest you alter a little language to be more inclusive and add variety but its an awesome item, well written, and well thought out. First Superstar Item I have tagged.

Thanks for the critique, Lucus! It was intended to be a serious item, yes. I'd love to hear how the mechanical effects and language could be improved, if and when you have time. Thanks again!

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Lucus, thanks for taking the time to do a review of my item (Ring of the Clockwork Sentinel) and for all of your other reviews--good stuff!

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lair-master wrote:
Lucus Palosaari wrote:
Mummer's Slapstick - SUPERSTAR! - I'm assuming you totally mean for this to be a serious item, despite its comedic roots. As that, I totally see it. And I love it, love it, love it. ITs great. I might question a few of the mechanical effects, and I'd suggest you alter a little language to be more inclusive and add variety but its an awesome item, well written, and well thought out. First Superstar Item I have tagged.
Thanks for the critique, Lucus! It was intended to be a serious item, yes. I'd love to hear how the mechanical effects and language could be improved, if and when you have time. Thanks again!

As a quick note; as a drama teacher when I saw this item I was so excited! Good work in living up to my expectations, the item was lovely, I would definitely use it for a troop of performer types or a jester.

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Allana Sliwinski wrote:
As a quick note; as a drama teacher when I saw this item I was so excited! Good work in living up to my expectations, the item was lovely, I would definitely use it for a troop of performer types or a jester.

Thanks, Allana! I'm a theater person too, so bards and their ilk will always have a special place in my heart. Glad you enjoyed the item!

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Thanks for the crit Lucas! In retrospect, the temp HP was maybe not the best choice.

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Alright, I have returned, and bring you Page 3.

Page 3 of Official Critique Thread

Sleeper's Vessel - Rewrite - Zesdead, welcome to RPG Superstar. I'm sure we'll see you next year, and the year after, and every year forever and ever and ever :) That said, for your first entry into RPG SS -- this was a pretty solid entry in my mind. It's really "weird" mechanically, but I actually happen to like and know about the Nidalese and Umbral Court, and in their bizarre world and politics, this item would make sense. As such, I push this item from mere filler (which I would count it as if it were world-neutral) to publishable, in a world-specific book. I listed Rewrite above because of some funky mechanics and design choices, (like the duration, is that long enough for this to be used for its intended purpose? what is that purpose, exactly, for the Umbral Court?) I recall seeing this at least twice before the Cull and I'm pretty sure I upvoted it both times.

Ring of Utmost Need - Filler - This ring seems like the totally normal kind of magical item I'd expect to find in Ultimate Equipment, and it's even an "ok" replacement for some standard rings, IF it were usable more often than once a week. As it is, once a week is really rarely... so this would become little more than a ring I'd put on once a week and then wear something else the rest of the time. Especially since its only for 1 minute, and you built in no "attunement" or required length of time, I'd either pack a dozen of these and basically be the jack-of-all-trades whenever I want, or I'd just have it in my pack for "that one moment" that we needed, and I'd forget it again until the GM set some silly skill check that no one has...

Cryohydra's Coil - Rewrite - First off the bat, I tend to like "monster-themed items" but they gotta make sense if you call it that! <that comment is before I read anything except the name>... that said, meh... not bad for bringing a cryohydra to a whip. I would question why you didn't make it something like a frost weapon, instead of say adding that chill touch spell (makes it a SiaC, literally). I'd have just said that creatures that take a critical hit from the weapon also suffer 1 Str damage (though actually, the negative energy makes little sense for the cryohydra AND I'd normally think of cold damage as hurting Dex). The regrowing whip thing is neat, but since it's not inherently part of the weapon (a tendril doesn't break off and entangle a target for a set of time), its unlikely to ever matter (who sunders whips?) That all out there for discussion, you also spend a lot to time describing what is basically just a lower powered cone of cold (while using other spells) then call it a cone of fire, then add on Rime for no reason, when it could have been handled differently (see "loses a tendril which entangles the creature, regrowing a new one quickly"). As it is, the item feels like an overly complicated filler item, rather than a solid new addition. Cleaning it up could make it go either way.

Arroweater Shield - Rewrite - What kind of shield is it? (buckler, light wood/steel, heavy wood/steel, tower?). Woh... GATE? 9th level GATE spell? to destroy it utterly. Seems unnecessary for the effect... you mean for it to go away and never come back, no need to gate it out of existence! or to the negative plane, or anything. AND THEN you go all portal shield? I'd point to the two examples of what happens when you add a BoH + PH or PH + BoH, and both are not "happy" endings... This would more likely require Also, doesn't really answer what happens if I toss this bad boy into a PH or BoG... I think the basic idea of shield that "eats" arrows would be filler, but the portal shield thing, which is really a totally different thing actually, is... also likely filler, and one with a million wonky mechanics.

Thriving Branch - Rewrite - A staff! oh wait, not that kind. Anyways, ... a quarterstaff that tangles foes... interesting. I'd say the idea is filler, but not bad stuff. I'd sooner have it only work in areas of vegetation and/or use its own still fresh roots from its end... maybe add in black tentacle-like grab actions with its roots or just a plain "entangles" and or "grapples" personally. That said, the idea could be publishable one on its own if really done right. The version you have written up requires an odd pod thing, and then I have to wonder -- can I cut this pod off to use as a grenade-like weapon? Rather than have it regrow instantly, I'd sooner see this "use as often as you can" but it has an 8 hour regrow time, during which time you can't use the +3 to disarm, etc. If you're going to have a bit of the item fall off, you might as well build its recharge mechanic into that cool visual/idea.

Breakaway Sword of Beguiling - Rewrite - So... it's a fake sword, I'd fight with, to try to trick my opponent (with a REALLY LOW DC) that its a special sword they care about, and then they'll "steal it" from me, (which, I mean I'd try to do the AoO, but I'd have to have a second weapon?) and then, when they fight me, it I'm hoping it basically falls apart in their hand. And, despite it's barely more than masterwork sword cost, its reusable after 24 hrs... this just has a bunch of odd things going on. The basic idea isn't terrible, I just think the item as presented needs work. I might have personally taken a stranger angle for this one, and made it a generic fake weapon (which would make it more wondrous item than magic weapon) or just count as a club+1, that can be made to look like many other items, with the idea that it was a prop for theater. Then add in the idea(s) that such a sword could be used for more nefarious uses, and add in some of the breakaway, etc. abilities as untrustworthy fellows would sell such a sword then stage a fight with to get it back, let it break as they were using it but... that is more story driven than useful across the board.

Shillelagh of Legions - Rewrite - Ok, the basic idea you have here I like. Specifics are a little wonky (blink? mirror image? even animal aspect?) compared to the benefits of having the staff. In fact, I'd sooner have this be a rod that gives you the "legion" type bonus to all summoned monsters from the same summoner. Maybe only when you use a summon monster spell to summon a group of monsters instead of single, highest monster and then adding in the "you" spell thing might be worth keeping, might be worth forgetting. Seems very abusable, as there is a reason those spells are YOU and not even just "one target" and the fact that it works regardless of the creatures type... that's bad to break those mechanics (they exist for a reason) and if breaking it just so casual, then it's likely not done for the right reasons.

Hermetic Armor - Rewrite - I saw this item during voting, and I saw similar ones I think to it. I think I liked the others better, and here;s part of why --- is this really armor? This is really just a "be an alchemist" ability, packed into not great armor. The last little bit about +2 vs. contagions gives some additional protection, but mostly, this armor is about making alchemist's bombs (a specific class ability, which means you're undermining alchemists with this item) and creating some random alchemical items like this was armor with a pocket of needful things. I'd be more curious to see this item like so, "This +x studded leather armor always has XX special studs, each with eldritch alchemical symbols on them. When the wearer of this armor is struck by a weapon dealing energy damage, one of these studs activates and negates the first 5 points of that damage. Each stud can be used once per day and refreshes after 24 hrs." then I might add a "alternately, a stud can be permanently removed, acting as a alchemists bomb dealing XdX+X damage or as any mundane alchemy item, like an acid flask, alchemists' fire, etc."

End of Page 3 Critiques

I expect I'll have at least Page 4 done before the day is done, and will endevour to complete Page 5 too.

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Papasteve08 wrote:
Lucus Palosaari wrote:
Perpetual Vortex Staff - Rewrite - XXX

First things first, thank you for your review! My item was DQ'd, but the reviews I have gotten today have been invaluable. So thanks so much for your time.

Ok - I just wanted to answer your question about the theme. It is admittedly obscure, which is part of the problem. Didn't really matter this year in the contest since I was DQd, but definitely adding it to the lessons learned for next year.

Steps of Faith - a-la Indiana Jones with a biblical type theme.

Throw the first stone - again, biblical background with the woman caught in adultery, found in the Gospel of John, ch 8, v 1-11

Cleansing Vortex - even more of a stretch, referencing Jesus cleansing of the temple in Matthew ch 21, v12-13.

Ok, I can "see" that for a theme, but could NEVER have guessed it. Sorry to hear your item was DQ'd. Regardless, it seemed interesting and I like that you went for something really different with the staff design space, even if the people didn't agree it was a staff.

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lair-master wrote:
Lucus Palosaari wrote:
Mummer's Slapstick - SUPERSTAR! - XXX
Thanks for the critique, Lucus! It was intended to be a serious item, yes. I'd love to hear how the mechanical effects and language could be improved, if and when you have time. Thanks again!

X-X-X Attempt at a real quick commentary on it... X-X-X

lair-master wrote:


Description
This +1 club is spattered with brightly-colored paints and encrusted with gems made of paste. It was created by a fool who used it to thrash her foes in the fighting pits while keeping the audience in stitches.

Using the words "paints" and "pastes" to start this item, and how it has almost rhythm/rhyme to it, should either be done purposefully or not done, as it actually makes it seem sillier. Also, I would have just tightened it up by saying "This +1 club is brightly-colored in random stripes of color, and encrusted with fake gems to make it gaudy and highly visible." to try to get at why it would be decorated so as well as what it looks like. There's no need to talk about the one fool who created it, as most magic items are intended to be made many, many times. If this were appearing in an AP as some villain's signature weapon, that's different but leave that kind of storytelling to the GM.

lair-master wrote:


Once per day, as a standard action, the wielder can brandish the club and make it appear to be something hilarious, such as a giant carrot, pink flamingo, or anything else imaginable. Any intelligent creature within 30 feet who witnesses this sight gag must make a Will save (DC 13) or burst into a fit of irrepressible laughter for 1 round. Laughing creatures can only take a move action but can defend themselves normally.

Why keep this only "once per day"? It's not actually all that important an effect, and if you added a stipulation that it will never appear as an actual threatening weapon, then its all flavor and could be an at will ability. Also, could leave it to the GM, or make it a Perform (comedy) check, which would could be interesting.

Now I get that the sight gag is then the trigger for the laughing effect, so I might just make that a "once per day" OR even a "a wielder with the bard performances class ability can expend one use of their bardic performance to X" i.e. cause the laughter effect. In this case, I'd also either point the user to a specific spell hideous laughter or give a clearer example of how this laughing incapacitates people, like by treating them as if they had the "shaken" condition (or dazed, stunned, etc. depending upon how powerful you want the effect). The reason for this is if you used this effect in many odd situations, there could be a lot of questions of how to mitigate the situation.

lair-master wrote:


Each round after using this ability, the wielder can spend a standard action to attack a laughing creature. On a hit, as a free action, the wielder can make a Perform (comedy) check to extend the laughter of all creatures watching for another round. The DC of this check is equal to 10 + the target’s Hit Dice + the target’s Wisdom modifier. The DC increases by +5 with each additional check.

I like this mechanic, and it's not bad. I'd only adjust it if needed based on how you'd adjust the rest above.

lair-master wrote:


The creature hit stops laughing and must make a Fortitude save (DC 13) or become dazed for 1 round. A lump rises on the dazed creature’s head as illusory birds flutter around it.

Why let the creature become unaffected by the laughing? Though I do get adding dazed... I guess, would it mean that the effect ends then if the fool had been pit fighting only one person? or could they keep clubbing that one person and keep the audience in stitches?

Depending then upon what you changed, other bits might need to be altered to. Just my 2 cp.

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Page 4 of Official Critique Thread

Disruption Disc - Rewrite - So do I need to own multiples of these discs to get the benefit of the item (cumulative spell failure) or can one disc be used mulitple times? I'm unclear on that bit. Also, your basic idea is cool, but the actual mechanics run into a few sticking points (bad puns come free of charge) with how they get armor bonuses from these discs (so would I attach these to myself?) and how long they last (so, once I've tossed it, is it gone if I don't slay that wizard and/or otherwise recover it from their body), and then I would question about the whole dispel check thing... Seems like it could have been simplified in language.

Traitor's Blade - Rewrite - Your own design notes and criticism bring up most of what I would have said about your blade. It was one of the many daggers this round, and it is also one more "stab your friend in the back" item. I like your version fairly well, but it has some problems (which again, you point out how you are aware of them mostly). So I would say that while the item isn't the greatest, you did a great job of bringing your idea to life in the item... even if that item would be relgated to NPCs and filler in many books (or an important NPC's key item to stab players in the back when the time comes).

Rod of Resonance - Publishable - I intially was going to go with "filler" but realized this is much better than that really. While only useful in specific places/for certain playtypes, I'd actually say this is pretty much a solid build. Many people are likely saying its just a modified metamagic rod, and it is, but its modified well and enhances the overall rod. Maybe that doesn't make it Superstar quality, but it could be worth getting an image in a book that it was published in, and as you have it written, it's pretty much ready to go.

Rheumatic Rod - Filler - This item is little more than a once-per-day version of the spell sands of time but you add a little bit to it. Its not a 'bad' item, hence why I tagged it as filler, it's just that its very... predictable. I read the name, wondered if it would be something that made my bones ache with age, and it did. It's a SiaC with some special applications added, which makes it better than that, but the once per day ability makes it uninteresting to me. This might have been a rod that could have acted as a mace, and creatures struck by it took a pain based penalty, with the aging effect going off on any confirmed critical hit... then it would have been a "new take" on it and not just a SiaC, etc.

Mimic Skin - Filler - The first thing you describe in the entry is little more than glamered armor special ability, but basically worse (rough texture). Then there is an interesting but not original "make yourself look like an object" ability (instantly made me think of the scene in the 6th Harry Potter film where Prof. Slughorn was actually a couch/chair), it seems like it should have better than a +20 for the record to Disguise. I'd prefer it was one of those things that the viewer had to inspect you closely to even notice... but that's the same as a mimic the creature, so I see what you're going with. Then finally you get one more power of the mimic...so basically, this is the "armor of being a mimic" which... meh. It isn't bad, but it's not my first go to for a monster I'd like to become. Also, as +1 armor, it's only useful at lower levels, which mind you the mimic ability would good then but... once per day disguise or hide abilities always make me laugh... if I snuck into a castle, I likely need to use one disquise to get in... then I might need to have a completely different one to get out. This it the armor I give the NPC assassin specifically to get past the PCs, and then not give them too powerful a magic item at this level.

Norgorber's Lens - Filler - Who's Norgorber? And I see, another "portal" weapon/shield... ok. What do you mean by "consume all attacks?" And then I don't really get the cone effect... I mean, I get it (I too have built a camera obscura) but it's effect is... limited. That all said, you seem to be self-reflective of its problems in your "Notes" so I'll leave it at that. I think it would at best end up being rarely used filler.

Thundering Shield - Rewrite - Ok... I see a few items here and I'd suggest we parse them get something better. First off, ditch the name. You say "thunder" people expect lightning. I know, its a way to describe sound in general, but the name first off sounds weird when I read the "face/mouth" description and then I see what you're going for with the shout effect, then bam, now my shield eats things...? I'd sooner you make the name about the mouth-yness of this item. Then lets talk about the effects you got going on... the description is "ok" though I think it could be worded better for a general item like this. Then you bury the living steel bit in the third paragraph, when I'd have had it in the second, making that much more important, because THAT is the "works all damn day" ability while the shout is once per day. I'd like to have seen the DC to resist living steel increased by the enhancement bonus as well... Then we get to the shout, and I keep calling it shout for a reason. Rather than focus on a "sonic" attack, I would have stuck with the "shield that destroys objects" and given it a once per day sonic attack based on the shout spell. It would have fit the mouth-theme better than "thunder" and it would have fit the "destroy items" theme too. The phrase yelled should just be set at the time it's created... or it should just be set by the user. Either or. Also, it's a Craft (armor) skill check... just saying.

Ring of Forgotten Aquaintance - Filler - I saw this during the voting rounds, and then, like now I don't know when I'd use this. I totally get where the idea is coming from, and its also not a "bad" idea, BUT I think you fail in your design. A "good" version of this item in my mind is the Doctor's "psychic paper" which he uses for the Jedi Mind Trick on TV Tropes. If you follow that link, you'll find a lot of examples of how simple subterfuge and misdirection could be aided by a small bonus. So I TOTALLY get what you're going for, but your mechanics aren't right (should be a mind-affecting ability I'm assuming) though it's not "bad" to gain a small bonus to your Bluff,etc.

Temptest Bow - Filler - While an evocative set of words (storm clouds and winds) I'm unsure what this would actually look like?? The little flutter thing is interesting, but sometimes those bits bring up "can I shoot this thing silently or will my clothes be making noise?" And beyond that, for how much I'm paying for this, I want more than 3 times per day! That said, the mechanic is interesting, but could have been accomplished with lower level spells than control weather, and your basic mechanic actually leaves a LOT of question marks about how to apply it and work it in a situation. Does the attack of wind or the arrow hit first? Can it be any kind of arrow? What if I fire magical arrows? Why is it based on the wielder's Str? Especially if its hurricane force wind? etc.

Dynamic Staff - Filler - This was my own item, but I would have only have called it filler on a good day anyways, since it doesn't have much natural attraction, but I had hoped to impress by its solid writing and interesting take on an old standard (which does but doesn't exist in the game already) with mechanics that were different but solid (in my mind). See the SPOILER for more information (if you care). One way or another, the price is a sticking point, but I still would only have priced it at the 31,000 gp or so. I also would be hesitant to put the 17th level caster level, as it would restrict whom could ever even make it to the point of making it pointless at that level (rational for which you'll see in the spoiler as well).

Why the Dynamic Staff isn't just the Ring of Spell Storage:

A few people now have pointed to the ring of spell storage, and even more clearly, the major ring of spell storing in particular. I'm not surprised at this, since I did in fact read and copy some of its basic language for my own staff <yes, I knew it existed -- it's where I got that line about how treating the dynamic staff as a scroll when a random version is found>. While the staff is similar to the ring, it's not nearly "the ring of spell storing, staff edition" and its only "better" on two fronts that I can see, one of which I'll agree with to a point, the other would be missing why its important it's a staff.
My item is clearly underpriced by most assessments, and I'm fine with that. I have a solid, in my mind, rationale for why it was that price (see previous defenses above about using
limited wish for the spell, and how to divide staves by their charges used, etc.) Since a 9th level spell "could" be cast out of it, I should possibly have used a 17th level caster level and a 9th level spell x 400/300/200 series but when you divide that by its number of charges per use (= to spell level) then you get it so its just 17 x 400/300/200, or around 15,300 base, or 30,600 total market price. This price is so little up from that price that most people would still scoff I bet, and it would push the staff out of the Greater Medium Staff list, which is where I meant for it end up for who and when I think people would want it in a game.
Now, the
Ring is 200,000 gp, for 10 levels worth of storage. It can be ANY TEN LEVELS of ANY SPELL, so you could, for instance, have 1 first level spell AND say wish. The Staff can't have any spells that have expensive components, so no wish, no gate, no refuge, no teleportation circle, no astral projection, or shapechange, but leaves a long list of others you could use. The Ring could hold these, fairly powerful spells, and you could only ever use it for that one spell. Also, with the Ring ANYONE could use it, as generally a standard action. That means that fully armored knight could cast wish or the rogue could cast gate, etc. It also NEVER costs any material component to cast a spell into the Ring which means that wizard able to cast wish could cast it into the Ring and then next round cast it out of the ring, spending 2 rounds but saving 25,000 gp each time. A cleric could cast true resurrection the same way, and save the 25,000 gp (and mind you, give it to the tank to go cast on someone, because they don't want to be the one that gets neck deep in combat). Doing this only 8 times and you've recovered the full price of the Ring!
All that said, you couldn't do anything like that with the
Staff. You can't put spells with costly material components in, for one. On top of that, only spellcasters could easily use the Staff as you either would have to make a DC 20 Use Magic Device check or have the spell on your list at least to cast it. Also, a single spellcaster can only add a single spell per day, so rather than being able to cast a spell into the Ring then cast it out, then cast a new spell in, etc. all day long, you'd only get to imbue a single spell into the Staff once per day. That single spell could be a 9th level spell, but if you cast that 9th level spell out, you better hope you have a 1st level spell in their to use that last charge or you're just the proud owner of a stick for 24 hrs.

I could go on about the differences and situations, etc., but I know at this point I'm just being overly defensive.

I wonder how different people's reactions would be if I didn't word the second sentence as being able to change the spells daily (which really, you can only change a single spell per day, unless you're a wizard using the staff as your bonded item, in which case it's at best 2 spells per day). I ask because a few people's reactions show they didn't realize you couldn't change every spell at a whim, and their comment seems like they think it could?

Final comment: I am fully aware that the fact that my Dynamic Staff could/would need this much discussion about it shows it's not really Superstar-quality. One more reason I said I'd likely call it Filler if I were reviewing just anyone's item.

Staff of Thin Air - Rewrite - A staff! Let see though... I don't think ANYONE needs the simple weapon proficieny... do they? And a staff as javlin... I like that aspect. Ok that said, just say its a staff that also counts and acts as a javalin. The players can imagine the important bits. And then there's a disappear/reappear component that is interesting but poorly worded (I had to read it twice to be sure how it worked). 200 feet of teleportation is an ok amount, but all of this stuff (all the odd bits and extra rule etc. ) could have been covered by saying something like "otherwise counted as if using the dimension door spell I would guess. Then I see the spell list and I wonder... why is bull's strength on there? (throw better?) and then the expeditious retreat... should I need that? I can teleport! Then invisiblity, twice... meh. Not what I would have had the staff able to do. I'd have had the javelin expend charges when I use the dimension door like effect, then kept at least one of the invisablity spells (or made it vanish) then found new additional spells to go with the "disappear into thin air" theme of the staff. One of the better teleportation devices.

Skywalker's Cloth - Filler, but needs a new name! - *facepalm* My name is Lucus, which is short for Luke. I was born in 1982 and I grew up being asked if my last name was Skywalker <or more often, people claiming to be my father>, so I'm really sorry if, just after reading this name I'm cringing for many reasons. EVEN IF the name is perfectly fitting (it lets you walk on the sky!) it's just... its not to be done. Then reading the actual entry, it's not bad... but what? skysailor's cloth or airwalking silks just not doing it for you? That all said, I'm curious whom you think would want to wear this beyond a very limited set of people, especially for the price (96k for +3 PADDED armor... woop!) I do like that you made it continual, and it's the item's saving grace in my mind (because a once per day air walk isn't worth the trouble).

End of Page 4 Critques

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Apologies on what may seem like a long space between item critique posts.

A Longer Explanation About Giving The Round 2 Entries Time They Deserve:

By the time yesterday that I had some ready to post, I was a few hours away from the release of the Top 32's maps, and I wanted to give those people the space to be appreciated and critiqued they deserved. Once they were released, I also wanted to get my input done, so I reviewed them and THAT took longer than expected as I'm not as familiar with Golarion as I thought and looked up a lot on the Pathfinder Wiki (thanks to those that make that thing possible!) just to give myself a solid backing to assess areas, etc.

That all said, not quite 20 hrs later I think is long enough for me to wait to post new stuff here, so I'll do so by starting with a review of the 4 Alternates. I'd been waiting to post on any of the Top 32, with the assumption they were getting a lot of feedback <though Neil Spicer has me questioning that rationale>, but it appears none of the original Top 32 were DQ'd so you've had to join the ranks of the rest of us. As such, I'll post on your item critiques here now...

A quick note to these reviews: Since the three judges (and a host of others) have commented already on this item, and its easy enough for me to read those bits, I'm going to -- then I'll add my comments, etc. as I see fit. So, this is not a review like I've done for most, straight off the item itself, but informed by the comments of the judges and others. Sorry if that detracts some from the review.

In no particular order: The 4 Alternates

R.D. Ramsey's Tunnel Fighter's Ring - Publishable, but SUPERSTAR! if it had the right name (see comments) - If the design only uses two strands, how is it so difficult to tell? That's just a minor issue with your description. Beyond that... I agree with Mark, I'd like this item more if it were tindalos ring or something about those crazy hounds. It would also make me think differently about the ring, as your name has me focus on a single aspect, rather than many interesting alternate uses of the ring beyond fighting shoulder to shoulder. I often don't like dimensional pocket items, but this ring is an interesting enough version to warrant consideration. The judges point out some basic flaws with your entry, like the italicizing, etc. Reading Owen's comments I generally just disagree or don't see it from his point of view.
In addition to those comments, I don't like the idea, but I like your version of an idea I don't like (if that makes sense). Mark's name change would have made me like it even more, and Owen's suggestion that it could have used an added twist is intriguing, but if done poorly, would have made this ring a fail.

Jensen Toperzer's Rod of the Iron Rose - SUPERSTAR! if we did a Rewrite - Cold Iron and Anti-fey with style... I LIKE IT! <also your inspiration image is a cool source>. I remember seeing this item during voting and generally liked it. This is an AWESOME IDEA that needs to be reworked to be sure its mechanically sound. That said, the idea is WORTH reworking, so I'd totally do the work to get it up to snuff. The Big 3 hit the basics of mechanical issues, and your own follow up shows decent introspection, though I disagree with you -- I see the fey-bane stuff clearly <but then, I have a thing for feys> so I'll move on to my suggestions:
I'd KEEP the anti-fey theme, and go whole hog on it. It only affects iron, but not alloyed forms or altered forms like steel. It would create cold iron, thus turning plants it iron-izes into weapons against the fey. Fey creatures that touch said cold iron would be affected by additional effects, in addition to anything that happens when they are hit by cold iron, but for instance, making the "entangled by cold iron" portion FORCE them to speak the truth, etc. Fey are and should be powerful creatures, a powerful rod may be a good way to keep them little punks in-line. It might be too many powers in one item, so maybe it would better be a set... a ring of the iron rose, a rod of the iron rose, etc.
I also really want to know the backstory, but am glad you spared us it in the entry. Is that posted anywhere?

Allana Sliwinski's Harlequin's Hurlbat - SUPERSTAR!, but needs to be "tightened up" a bit - I saw this item during voting and liked it then. I wrote up hurlbats in my first book, Call to Arms: Axes & Picks <I either didn't know of Paizo's version or it hadn't been published yet> and I always liked them since I found them as part of that project. Looking at the meat & potatos of the item, I'd say that rather than go with the mirror image version of this item, I'd wish that it would create shadow conjuration <might not be right spell either?> versions that are illusionary but semi-real. Then I'd adjust the mechanics to meet that. Mark's comments about the hurlbat and juggling it being difficult I think misses that that is EXACTLY WHY THEY WERE ONCE JUGGLED! Juggling hurlbats was actually a "thing" if one source I read was right, and like juggling chainsaws today, it was done because of the precieved danger of doing it.
I see some mechanical issues (judges pointed them out mostly) that need to be addressed, and a few tweaks they suggest would make this a solid idea. Even as basically is, I'd be happy to see this item and would totally keep it in the right setting/book/etc. Might make a great signature item of an enemy bard character, or even be fun to give to a dexterous rogue.

Jeff Hazuka's Fellbough Hookhammer - SUPERSTAR!, in the right book (see comments) - Looking over your entry, the judges comments, and your own critique... you made an great version of what you were going for. AND you chose a niche that isn't well handled (gnome and their magic get all the love, there's few martial options for the shorties like gnomes and halflings). I'll agree it could use some more character, like playing into its "monumental ash struck by lightening" minimalist backstroy (making it a grounded weapon? though that doesn't fit the rest of the theme well). Actually, altering that essential backstory to one more fitting about something small (like water or pebbles, etc.) accumulating and destroying a larger thing (mountain, tree, etc.) might have inspired a better gimmick to it.
As it is, it's a really good addition for the right book, like an Ultimate Gnomish Warriors book. Just as another entry in say Penultimate Equipment, The Rest it would be just more solidly written filler text.
Thank you for showing Gnomes some martial love though.

Not now of course (one of the Top 32 could still be DQ'd, so you're still maybe sorta kinda in the running), but after this, I'd love to see any and all of your maps and I'll comment on those if you'd like.

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Page 5 of Official Critique Thread

Aegis of the Martyr - Filler - This is one of those items that I feel I've seen before, possibly more because it's a pretty standard idea than because it specifically existed. Oh look, a shield that can be used to shield other! It has its usefulness, but it isn't very original. You have a solid design though for such a shield and it would actually be useful compared to some similar designs like this I've seen in other places, etc.

Blade of Unabating Wound - Filler - SUPERWounding, it's not a bad design, but that's basically what you have going on here. This weapon not only has the wounding special ability, it has a sup'ed up version. Which isn't bad, but it isn't especially original then.

Chakram of Cyclic Existence - Filler - Another "weapon that heals when it hits you", which at least this one has flavor. You shouldn't need to tell me who would or wouldn't use an item, the design should be clear whom would want to (unless it has some obscure special ability, etc.) Also, isn't this item impossible to take full advantage of, as traditionally a character with channel energy needs to channel only positive or only negative energy... now it doesn't look like you need to channel or anything to activate it, but what I mean is, those characters which channel positive energy should only ever want to channel positive and those that channel negative only ever negative. These aren't just mute elements, negative energy is the power that reanimates the dead and harms the living, it is not merely opposed to, but antithesis to healing and positive energy, and while in the East I could see this item doing well with say some Buddhist monk inspired theme, for a classic Cleric type character, they would feel "dirty" using its other side.

Demonmaw Gnasher - Filler - Ahh... one of the earthbreaker items, but in your case, you didn't go with the "earthbreaker that breaks earth" -- good good. That said, I'd think certain other things (like a mace even) might make more sense for "resembling a mouth" ~ the blunted spikes are the teeth? Anyways, so its a two-handed hammer that grabs opponents when you attack them... interesting. What happens if you use it on a giant or other target bigger than you? It also looks like I can't necessarily turn this off, so if I faced a larger target, I might be kind of SOL when it comes to using this thing. Finally, you have and imply a demon-theme, but other than the shape, it has no "demon"-esque features.... so you could have said this was just generically styled like the head various monsters, from a hezrou demon to XXX.

Serpentine Stave - Filler - Before I've even read your item, just from the name, I'm hesitant as there is a) a spell called snake staff that basically turns a staff into a snake (a la the Biblical story), AND there is already the two rod of the python/viper and so "snakes & sticks" are kind of covered. Looking at your actual item, the spell choices are cancel snake like attack, snake like attack, and... I guess you're saying slay living is LIKE a snake, because it's so deadly (but it's deadly because it uses necromancy/negative energy <I'm guessing>). And ok, it becomes an iron cobra (a pretty powerful snake), and you can let it be a mithral or adamantine version for more charges? And then a staff that can cast its own spells? In the end, I'd say its not a bad design, but since the "snake-stick" has been done a few times, its not "original". What you do with it isn't bad (its an interesting idea) but I'm not sure the spell list is perfect and the choice of various snake types, and strong ones at that, which are all constructs... it just might be too much.

Staff of Stratagems - Filler - Ooh, teakwood. Cool choice. The "ready an action" as a move action vs. standard action really messes with action economy, and people probably are made for the cost... even though "ready an action" isn't really a major thing, etc. Your spell choices are "ok" as well... though it seems like it could have been better. Overall, a fairly uninspiring staff with a bonus effect I'd really need to think about and consider if its good/overpowered/even useful??? A little further down, you talk about having modified Aid Another, and THAT with maybe Teamwork feats would have been super cool.

Sarenrae's Desert Caller - Filler - First up, I'd prefer this weapon if it wasn't Sarenrae-focused, because the effect it adds is interesting, but I don't see a need to tie to so much to the god - it would have been cool anyways. Letting a sword modify summon spells is odd, but I get that the scimitar is the signature weapon of the Sarenrae and basically their holy symbol and stuff... so I see what you were going with, but I think it might have been better served almost as a rod that did that stuff in the shape of Sarenrae's holy symbol. Also, looking back now, if this is supposed to be so holy a thing, is it right that the blade appears "pitted" from being sand-blasted? Alternately, it could look like it always has a fine and clean edge because its constantly sanded smooth and unblemished (there's a way to use sand to polish steel and its really effective). I'd say it's not a bad item, but its like two or three good ideas smashed together to make a bad sandwich (I like pickles, I like peanut butter, doesn't mean I'd like a pickle-and-PB sandwich). I would question the Sand creature template too... seems powerful, which isn't bad, but the item might be too cheap, etc.

Housebreaker Bow - Filler - Straight-up, regardless of if it exists as a precedent or not, I kind of always frown at weapons with charges. Not sure why, but I think its because it makes me want to see the item as a utility and "extra" and it would then never be my main bow. Then looking at the options for the bow... it's way underpriced for all the fun it can do. It's not a terrible idea... but you're giving a fairly useful set of tools, functional at a distance, possibly to people that don't have those skills even? Regardless, it's neat and all but it might almost have worked better as a staff that did this (Staff of the Burglar?) because in a sense, that's what you've made, but you added a glamoured bow... so *shrug* It could even have been a staff able to be bent into a bow to hide it... and then I might have liked this a lot more.

Blowgun of the Accursed Serpent - Publishable - Interesting visuals with the snake blowgun, I might have preferred it be the skin though too, not just the skeleton (more imposing). Adding a curse to poison'ed dart is interesting... but I think I'd rather it even just increase the DC of the poison, or impose a penalty on their Fort save or something. I think of using blowguns when I want to incap or kill a person, bad luck isn't the phrase I'd want. That said, the "roll twice and take the worse" "curse" is interesting... and fits the theme (and even what I say I wanted), and I would even say that might be a cool mechanic IF it weren't EXACTLY WHAT D&D Next has as its basic mechanic... so that kind of takes away from it. Overall, it's not a bad blowgun at all. Its not Superstar, but it's publishable with minor changes to terms. Looking at Mark's critique though, I agree with him and we'd need to jack the price or do something different (straight increase to DC?)

Blade of the Dark Betrayer - Rewrite - Betrayal was IN this season! But betrayal shouldn't be fostered between players, so this makes me want to push this toward NPC item, meaning it becomes ever more filler... but then I actually read the effect and OH HEY! That's neat! I can make your shadow into a proxy ally and then it aids me in flanking you, etc. My question mark would be become, for this price even, why every rogue ever wouldn't want a dozen? I think its interesting and fairly well done, though I'd really need to consider the mechanics more closely to decide if there are holes (it feels like their might be). And those holes might be very abusable (instant sneak attack, every time, unpreventable, yay!) I'm not sure it's that bad, but I'd have to spend a while thinking of it to figure that out.

End of Page 5 Critiques

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Page 6 of Official Critique Thread

Pen of Mirado - Filler - I'm not against singular named items (see comments about Talon above), but unless the person you're calling out is world famous in-game (in this case, Golarion) or Real Life (so it you made a passing reference to say Shakespeare by making this the "Pen of the Bard" etc.), then it makes this item feel like it needs to be very precisely brought in a single adventure, etc. Or it makes it "perfect" for an NPC to have some cool style. That said, you made a "pen is mightier" weapon I see, which is interesting, but not "original" per se. I think people would DQ this as a wondrous item, but I think the style of quill you're talking about could very much be used as a weapon, and in this case, it isn't just a case of a wondrous item that acts as a weapon or vice versa. This thing is combat-oriented and all about it being a weapon really. Tying the use of this thing as an effective weapon though to the bard's class ability ensures limited usefulness. All this combines to make this Filler, but its really interesting filler, so there is that.

Motherly Love - Publishable - I wrote a book that included a roundel dagger named something like "Mother's Love", so I'm sorry if that turns me against you ;-) That all said, you show a serious amount of introspection into your item and I appreciate that. Reading all that (wall of text version) I have little to add, and regardless of if I'd say it about the item normally, I want to say this item at least is publishable because you clearly have a solid reason for why it is the way it is. I might have asked you almost push it a little further in themeing, for instance, it wasn't just hair of some old woman, but it had to be your own mother or loved one (living or dead)... would have made me love the themeing a little more. I could see this being a signature weapon/item of a people that send their warriors off to battle with their loved one's hair entwined AND THAT makes me like the item more. Very cool.

Axle of Sky and Storm - Filler - The use of the term Axle seems odd, but I'll let it stand, as I know of things like the Axis Mundi. The base item ("+2....longspear") is a mouthful, and while it all fits the theme oh my goodness that's a lot of words and modifiers. And ok, getting into it, its like seriously an AXLE... of a chariot, made of wind and debris... Is this from something, an ancient myth or something? The use of Elysian bronze makes me assume so, and chariots are a thing of the Olympics and other ancient peoples... if it is based on something (a weapon of the gods, etc. from RL myth) then I'd be more ok with it. As it stands... a spear that becomes a chariot is... odd. Its not a bad set up, but its like... its the kind of item i would give to a villain to have an interesting combat with my PCs and then they'd never use it again, maybe selling it for the gold to buy items they actually want. That makes it filler. IF its based on a real myth I just don't know about, then you seem to be rendering that idea well, and I'd bump this up to Publishable, if it were in that kind of book.

Ermite Rod - Publishable - The second "bone as a weapon" item, which makes me glad I didn't submit my relic rod (that was a bone as a mace rod thing for destroying undead). Awesome descriptions, and interesting effects. I'd disagree with your pit crew member and say its worth keeping the second paragraph, though its not necessary. I might move said paragraphs information up to the front though a bit more... and then I'd tighten up a few things, like make it only able to deal 1d4 ability damage to either Str/Dex/Con as affecting Int/Wis/Chr seems more powerful to me (and more odd, are you splitting open their brains? knocking the sense out of them? scaring their face so they're not as trustworthy?) Otherwise, solid entry!

Hammer of Besting - Filler - I labelled this filler, but this is where I don't want people to see it as a bad thing. Filler items are NECESSARY, I'd argue like 90% of UE is filler items, and filler items can be great, in a certain context. As a Superstar entry, this item seems... boring. It's neat, I like it, I'd use it myself. There's a little question mark I have about how it might be effected if I used it to slay the 20 HD dragon, then a round later kill a 2 HD goblinoid (I'd just not choose that goblin right, I'd use one of my 3 times per day on the dragon, I hope -- could I do said choice as an immediate action or what?)

Ephemeral Staff - Filler - Evocative imagery at first, to say the least... though, and it shouldn't be necessary, but it is, I'd point out that it was "like glass but as hard as steel" or whatever. Otherwise, BREAK! That said, there's an ability called "ghost touched" it costs +1 and is much better than what you describe for the staff it seems, so why do that half to corporeals but full to incorps? Making the staff out of pure force and resembling glass would also have had a similar and cool effect, and could be used in different ways (give the ghost something to play with?) The spells on the list are ok, but I would have hoped for a higher level ethereal jaunt-y spell so I could use it for travel, even if it took like 5 charges to use it. All and all, really really good filler. (see my comment on Hammer of Besting just above this one for why that's not a bad thing)

Staff of the Auraboros - Filler - Might just be me, but I thought it was spelled Ouraboros...? Maybe I'm wrong or it's both (likely non-English word after all). Oh.... I see, this is about AURAs and giving aura sight, not the serpent that eats its tail... well then. The aura swallowing thing is an odd mechanic and I KNOW it would have problems (various paladin auras, outsider auras, clerical auras, magical auras, etc.) It's not a bad thing, but it seems... odd. I like the idea of an aura-thieving staff that can then grant that to people... its just filler in the end though, due to its limited utility.

Staff of the Twinned Path - Rewrite - Why waste good adamantine as a weight when lead would do the trick, better. In fact, I'd worry the nature of adamantine would shatter right out of the staff, but that's a neither here nor there thing. Breaking the combat action economy with the weapon is a dangerous thing to do (the flip around attack thing) so I'd worry about that. Then there is the magic list vs. the name... I don't see how these 4 spells have anything to do with "twinned path" or even one another?

Cuirass of Distortion - Filler - Portal Armor! Sorry, had to say it. Anyways, "thinking with portals" gets odd (need to instantly answer what happens if I add this armor to my bag of holding/portable hole). Otherwise, and this may just be from other entries, I've seen this done and done better I think. Its an odd item and playing with portals

Energizing Breastplate - Rewrite - Template Fu!!! How did you fail like this! (I'm going off your own comments, not mine). Anyways, I actually saw this item during the voting TWICE and both times had to vote it DOWN. First off, the initial description is boring... "yay, shining armor, never heard of that!" and then the ability is... wonky. So particular in how it collects a spell, what spells it can grab, etc. And then being transformed into something else, just the language of it, makes a million little questions need to be answered...and you try to, but its just... so much more problems arise. The bizarre mirror image-esque simulacrum thing is added confusion. In the end, I just didn't see what you were going for with this armor at all, and questioned when and why I'd use it.

Honorable Mention: Rod of Gravimetric Attraction - ??? - I do recall seeing your item during voting, but in lieu of seeing it again, I can't give a proper response about it. Reading GM_Solspirals assessment, I would generally agree with him. Eric Morton brings up an interesting point I might have missed as well. I even checked a shortly filled in list of stuff I was doing for the first 100 items I saw, but it wasn't during that time so sorry :(

End of Page 6 Critiques

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Quick comment/reminder: If you'd like me to expand on any thing I said here, feel free to post here, in private message, or even in the Official Critique Thread (and I hope to see it but it may be a bit there) and I'll try to respond with a more in-depth discussion.

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Lucus Palosaari wrote:

Page 6 of Official Critique Thread

Pen of Mirado - Filler - I'm not against singular named items (see comments about Talon above), but unless the person you're calling out is world famous in-game (in this case, Golarion) or Real Life (so it you made a passing reference to say Shakespeare by making this the "Pen of the Bard" etc.), then it makes this item feel like it needs to be very precisely brought in a single adventure, etc. Or it makes it "perfect" for an NPC to have some cool style. That said, you made a "pen is mightier" weapon I see, which is interesting, but not "original" per se. I think people would DQ this as a wondrous item, but I think the style of quill you're talking about could very much be used as a weapon, and in this case, it isn't just a case of a wondrous item that acts as a weapon or vice versa. This thing is combat-oriented and all about it being a weapon really. Tying the use of this thing as an effective weapon though to the bard's class ability ensures limited usefulness. All this combines to make this Filler, but its really interesting filler, so there is that.

Thanks for the review, Lucus! I appreciate that you consider this more a weapon than a wondrous item, although I suspect that more often than not it was considered the latter. My inspiration for the name was the Mirado Black Warrior pencil, of which I'd just bought two, and used one of them to write up the Pen. As I was concerned about IP infringement, I googled the name and found out that 'mirado' is also a word in Spanish which means "careful"; so, I thought I was OK on that score.

I should also say that I misunderstood the role of unique magic items in Pathfinder, but I understand now. Same, too, with NPCs and the game world. As for the bard issue, I've done a rewrite that turns it into a Knowledge check to find a special power or vulnerability, so hopefully that would improve it and make it more friendly to classes other than the bard (who would still do well by it).

In any case, thanks again!

Phil

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Thank you! I chose them because they'd be tricky (and thus showy) to juggle, I agree with the general need to tighten up the mechanics and will be bearing it in mind for next year. Thanks for the critique!

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Phil Greeley/Rochandil Calenlad wrote:
Lucus Palosaari wrote:

Page 6 of Official Critique Thread

Pen of Mirado - Filler - XXX

Thanks for the review, Lucus! I appreciate that you consider this more a weapon than a wondrous item, although I suspect that more often than not it was considered the latter. My inspiration for the name was the Mirado Black Warrior pencil, of which I'd just bought two, and used one of them to write up the Pen. As I was concerned about IP infringement, I googled the name and found out that 'mirado' is also a word in Spanish which means "careful"; so, I thought I was OK on that score.

I should also say that I misunderstood the role of unique magic items in Pathfinder, but I understand now. Same, too, with NPCs and the game world. As for the bard issue, I've done a rewrite that turns it into a Knowledge check to find a special power or vulnerability, so hopefully that would improve it and make it more friendly to classes other than the bard (who would still do well...

Considering most of those things, then you made a really fine entry. I hope you'll enter again next year (or do one of the many other competitions in 2015 that other publishers do, etc.) and if that's the case I look forward to checking out your entries in those competitions!

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Allana Sliwinski wrote:
Thank you! I chose them because they'd be tricky (and thus showy) to juggle, I agree with the general need to tighten up the mechanics and will be bearing it in mind for next year. Thanks for the critique!

One of the few items I know I saw in my 400+ voting round (I was trying to so hard to get at least Dedicated this year but time just ran out on me!) and I liked way back then AND was so happy to see in the Top 32+.

I'm ALSO happy you got into Round 2, and though I didn't vote specifically for your map, I DID like it and I would have put in my Top 16 (so here's hoping you make it to Round 3 now!)

Good Luck!

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Page 7 of Official Critique Thread

Kudzu Wrap - Filler - You add unnecessary confusion to the item by having it be a type of armor, but then not really. Also, you increase the max Dex. and reduce the armor check/arcane failure A LOT and that makes it almost a little broken right there, for price, etc. It would have to be masterwork, and treating it as if it were mithral would have been similar, but the spell casting would be 15%... which is close enough I suppose that is ok, but then I wonder if that is in the price of the armor? If it were, 44,100 gp - 4,000 gp to "be like mithral" for a medium armor, -9,000 for the +3 bonus armor... ok, rest of powers of this armor need to be worth the 31,100 (-50 gp for scale?, so 31,050 gp?) That being the case... instant break grapple, interesting but not really way to don armor, the druid thing (a lot of people want to let druids wear weird armor it seems in RPG SS)... meh. Its not bad armor, but more expensive than I'd want, and considering what kudzu really is and does, I would have expected MORE about grappling and strangling and helping in those ways (like being able to to have tha armor jump off me to act as a binding on my target... druid with that on could use the armor, then hulk out to beast-mode armorless and tear it up!

Ring of Remembrance - Filler - I know I have been really defensive when my dynamic staff was compared to already existing magic items, but this ring is like a worse version of the pearl of power isn't it? A 3rd level version of that would be 9,000 gp, and be preferable (especially since they don't take up a ring slot). Then there are other effects and I'm uncertain why I'd want to unlearn a spell (could I study and learn a different spell with that slot? I don't recall). REgardless, I just don't see the purpose of the item?

Clangoring Chime - Filler - An earth breaker! And this one is sound based... not bad. The "constantly ringing" thing is bad (no Stealth ever?) Comparing the tone to a spell that isn't otherwise associated with this item feels like an attempt to shoehorn in an effect without having to eat up word count, especially since that isn't exactly a common spell (where is from? looks like UM) This is doubly so when looking up the spell I see its mechanics would have just taken "it can be heard up to 2 miles away in typical outdoor conditions." So, we have this noisy magical earth breaker, and oh hey look, you even address that in the last paragraph.. but -10 seems light. Also, why make a magic item have a negative like this? Are you trying to account for its lower overall price? The main special ability of this particular item is interesting but not necessarily the greatest, and I'm fairly certain for the price of this item, a DC 16 Fort save is likely too high... you know what I might have liked more was something using either the Tiger Fork or "inventing" the military fork-style weapon (like a trident, but only two tines) that mimic'ed being a tuning fork. Similar powers and so forth, but a more interesting and fitting weapon choice I feel.

Counter Shield - Filler - If this shield doesn't already exist, it "feels" like it did. Now, that's not bad, per se, it means your scratching an itch that is common. BUT, its very much not terribly creative, in that sense, with even the imagery being fairly dull (embossed with an image of turtle? Not even "looks like the shell of a turtle" or better yet, embossed with something actually fearsome? And even then, turtles don't rebound attacks, do they?) Also, automatic hits are dangerous to throw around, even three times per day. What if the creature next to them has a HUGE AC, you could even abuse this ability with a partner to hit impossibly high ACs by having them "attack" an ally, use the shields effect and then redirect to hit the other guy with impossible AC. All for basically no money (shields are cheap). Change it to "attack at the same die roll" and it's great filler.

Vestment of the Twin Soul - Filler - First up, this would do better as a wondrous item (robe, vest, chest slot, etc.). Secondly, the need for the mementos is less "cute" to me and more "creepy", even if you have "twinned souls" or what have you. Then it feels like you spend way too many words to say stuff that could be made much shorter... not sure how exactly, but I think it could be done. Final ability totally feels tagged on and I would just cut outright. Last thing, since this IS armor, I am almost annoyed that it doesn't include hostling, especially since it's only 7,500 gp. I might even over-ride hostling restriction to creature type and say "no, anything can stay in this armor"

O-yoroi of the Eternal Flame - Publishable - I say power to you for going for "late game" item. I made sure to include artifacts and mythic items in Call to Arms just because high level stuff rarely gets any attention (because few people play it, etc.). So, I'll just ignore the cost comments and such... Ok first up, name is solid, if somewhat plain. Secondly, while I like that you are commited to the "flame never turns off" I'd have to beg "how do I don this armor?" because if it is always burning, even just a little bit, how much do I need "on me" before I get the fire resistance. Or is the flaming all just visual and the armor is just warm? That's less interesting... but solves that issue. Shrouding flame wings is neat, though at this stage in the game, will 1 minute really be enough time? I can see where we're going with the heal effect, and I'm not against it, but sad that the eternal flame loses some of its power when I use it (this might maybe should have dropped the price, or did it in your mind?) Also, for a late game armor, +2 AC bonus feels low, even for an armor with a naturally high armor bonus. Anyways... a "once per year" is... not helpful. I'd almost sooner just have you leave it in the hands of the GM via "when the wearer dies in a way that the Eternal Phoenix deems fitting" and be done with it. I almost feel like the "can't activate any of the armor's abilities" is a kick while I'm down for a once per year ability. SO HERE'S WHAT I'D DO: Keep the always burning warm thing, maybe add in a cold resistance too. Then I'd extend the flame wing-shroud to 10 minutes per day, non-consecutive, all that jazz. THEN I'd have to make a tough call... either I'd nix the HEAL spell for my final idea or I'd include it but make the use of it have a stronger effect but at a greater cost... then I'd alter the final bit to this: "A wearer of this armor slain (by damage or a death effect) while the armor remains intact burst immediately into a fiery explosion in the shape of a phoenix, dealing XdX fire damage in a xx foot radius (Reflex DC XX for half). As the fire fades, the wearer of the armor emerges from the fire on the next round as if affect by a true resserection but the armor is seemingly destroyed in the process. Rumors swirl that the o-yoroi of the eternal flame is not in fact destroyed by this process, and nearly reforms far away to another worthy candidate to find." or something like that.

Freebooter's Longcoat - Filler - You ask "where I went wrong?" or something to that effect in your comments before your post. My answer would be this: Your item is filler. So much so, that I'd sooner repurpose your proposed "added" effect as just a generic say +2,500 gp armor special ability under magical armor in a Pirate and Ship themed book. The mithral takes care of most of the concerns of this being a lighter armor, and the rest is just really light. So short and sweet, you made a very solid filler item, that fulfills a really obvious spot with people, but it is in no particular way "exciting" or interesting. Then add in concerns and questions about formatting and pricing and it would get downvoted.

Dagger of Dretch Dominion - Filler - Ok, so I totally saw this, more than once, during voting. And sorry, I down voted it many a time. First off -- it's a dagger, so dull in a way to begin with. Then it's a dagger that is PERFECT FOR KILLING DEMONS, supposedly made by demons??? (maybe not, maybe it's made by summoners to control demons?) Regardless, I see what it's going for but it feels like it doesn't provide what it should. Finally, unless you're good spellcaster is using this dagger to summon dretches somehow to fight the good fight, this is most likely to end up in an NPC villains hands and for its price, are dretch's even worth lording over at that point?

Corpse Thicket Javelin - Publishable - This is an interesting javelin, but I think rather than waste time making it a +1 weapon, I would have taken the route of the javelin of lightening, foregoing the +1 and its cost for a straight up magical effect when it strikes. The exact mechanics I'd play with, as they seem they might be too strong maybe??? Or just not well done (for such a cheap weapon, DC 16 Str seems high, but at the same time I like it and its the right value, for the effect. I'd really have to parse it out but I like its basic idea and design, but would want to play with some aspects, like removing that first line about druids and such too.

Ghastly Plate - Filler - Your formatting is incorrectly done, but I'm sure that's been pointed out. Beyond that, your armor is fairly boring. You're going for a strong sense of theatrics, but it's impractical especially since it's not back up with any specific mechanics that I'm aware of (unless "ghostly disguise" is a spell, and I'm just unfamiliar with it, in which case, fail for not making that clear with italics and/or a reference, etc.) It's "ok" armor that grants my weapons ghost touch too, 3 times per day for up to 8 rounds total (each time? so like can I get a total of 24 rounds a day if I do it right?) Also, what kind of action is it to give it? swift, move, standard, free? Even with revision, it's still just a filler item.
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Rod of Eldritch Horror - Filler - Does coral blacken? I think when it dies it goes white... or is it burned/charred coral, in which case, why do that? I'm assuming you're going for a "sea monsters are creepy" vibe that HP Lovecraft made so popular. Don't tell me who caries it, I should be able to guess whom from the design. And in this case, you've regulated this to an NPC/villain item, which makes it filler often. Ok, then you give it a "modify summonings" ability, which is normally a feat/special ability of the kinds of people that would carry this kinda thing around <I'm guessing Mark'll ding you on "adds a monster template" like he did the sword of Sarenrea earlier> Then you add an ability at the end that a) as the GM, I don't have it happen to the villain unless I WANT it to happen, b) it's then a built in evil mechanic to mess with a PC that dares to use this item and c) its a bad penalty that doesn't affect the price in a good way. All these things combine to make this a great item to include as the deep one shaman/witch's signature weapon as the villain in my Innsmouth inspired adventure, but not just a stand alone item.

Dreaming Star - Filler - By being pure ether, I assume you mean the stuff the Ethereal plane is made of? I don't think that that "stuff" is quantified in Pathfinder and it would make me want to ask a million questions that wont end well for anyone (is it especially effected by force effects, is it able to be touched by ethereal beings, what happens to it when I cross to the Ethereal Plane, etc.) Why should something from the Ethereal Plane channel the night sky? Is there even SKY in that plane? Wow, throwing around 9th level spells like it ain't no thing, and for 50k gp. Ok... this is like a HIGH concept item, and I've done some Dreamland and generic Dreaming games (also Fey Dreaming but anyways), so I dig it ok. BUT this is like the bizarre special item I give the PCS when I want to give them a silly version of a scroll/ring of wish(es) - "If you can dream it, you can have it - maybe! ;)" Its neat, and interesting, and I'd love to see it in a module or AP related to exploring dreaming, dreams, nightmares, or like the First World but here... meh.

Lash of Wild Roses - Filler - I am starting to feel like I've got GM_Solspiral on one shoulder as I read descriptions of a thing that are all about "why it was made" and want to say his line about "show me don't tell me" or something like that. That said... Reading it all over, this is a high concept NPC item I'd say. I'd love to see some Sylvan/fey creatures wielding these, may even make them the "signature weapons" of say the local Seelie Court. Woe to the PC that cares to deal with it, because its got a lot of oddball stuff that they'd need to keep in mind and if I were GM I'd be either annoyed or need a lot more clarification on stuff. You actually do a solid job at the basic mechanics, but creation of permenant bushes and needs like "placed in water" (how much water? can I revive it somehow if it dies, etc.) make me wonder odd questions and let me mess with PCs accidentally (you were in prison for a week, CRAP that whip is dead son 'cuz none of the orcs that took you kept it watered!) So I love it, and in the right place It would be AWESOME but as a stand alone item it feels kind of obvious (a whip, made of vines? rose vines! (does it matter that it's roses?) and it entagles people? who'da thunk!) Oh hey, Thomas' comment about greenwood I second.

Foe Stitcher - Filler - I'm just tossing this out there... before I've read the item, etc. but there is a part of me that feels like your comment about when you wrote this kinda feels like I'm about to spend more time thinking about your item than you did. I am not saying that is the case, but something about the wording you use in your pre-item text makes me feel like this very well may be the case. Anyways... Don't need the storytime. When doesn't a rapier deal piercing damage? Just letting you know, "silver thread" = Astral Projection stuff... regardless of it being a cool image and all. That is also REALLY strong thread I think... DC 25 break check is = "break down barred door" and Hardness 5 = wood, but hp = almost stone. The mechanic "looks cool" but raises all sorts of bizarre questions like "can they pull it out of MY hand" as wielder of the rapier? And the drag mechanics could use some love but.. look, EVERYTIME I hit someone, they get threaded like cloth on the sewing machine of me and this sword. If I hit others, boom, extra stuff going on. Then there's drag mechanics and what about things like "tying them up" or "entangle" or... hurting them as I pull on the thread I just put into their body. All those questions I would only care to answer if I had the adventure based on the PCs taking on said "cruel fey queen" or her ghost or something, and then I'd build this whole encounter on it, etc... then cry every time a PC tried to use the weapon in a different combat later because I didn't think through all the implications of "inserts thread". Oh and this "I can do it ALOT" ability, in a +2 silvered rapier (a fairly desirable weapon any day of the week) and its only 15k gp?

End of Page 7 Critiques

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Two Quick Comments:

1) Sorry those waiting for item reviews, trying to get through them all, but there are so many! Today too got messed up a bit as I needed to write my blog-post for Fat Goblin Games <where today I talk a little about doing this process and my Open Call for FGG>.

and

2) Apologies for spelling or bad sentence structure in my reviews, I've been writing these reviews in Notepad on my PC because of how I need to format-in/code-in the various BOLD and italics manually, and then transfer it to this little post box on the forums. And that means I'm not getting the benefits of Word or Google Doc's various spelling/grammar/etc. tools. I also found it's best to do it without Word Wrap, and so as these things get longer than a 50 words or so, I can't review what else I wrote easily!

Anyways, "back to work!"

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Thanks for the notes on the Lash of Wild Roses! I can see where I needed to clarify, and where I could have made better use of the word-count for effective flavor.

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Page 8 of Official Critique Thread

Only 6 items, excellent! Thank you to everyone being good and posting in-thread. Sorry if I messed everything up in the General Discussion forum area by having my own thread and not listening to Mark's comment against doing that!

Ghost Moon Bow - Filler - I was about to start my review off with "doesn't limning already let you basically faerie fire creatures, but I see how it actually works and ok... there is the occasional reason to be able to cast it apart from how it functions as the weapon. And then you it makes more sense when you see how you wanted it to function as part of "bow that shoots through things". A few things: 1) The basic idea of "I can shoot through cover" isn't original BUT 2) I like this version WAY BETTER THAN all the "playing with Portals" versions that want to abuse mini-wormhole like dimension doors. I guess I'd kind of wonder if a similar effect couldn't be had by just making the whole thing brilliant energy but that's expensive and maybe not (I'm not going to look at all the particulars). Regardless, good on you for having a new take on a semi-standard idea, and I like yours more than I like most of these. Also, the basic abilities of the bow are solid. I'm curious if people will say its too overpowered for the price, but I'll let other judges hit that point and the formatting things (like the "all italics).

Sidereal Blade - Rewrite - I'm no Goloarion expert, but typically if "feels" like extraplaner stuff is in opposition to space-based. As in, the planes and the planets have nothing to do with one another (hence why in D&D there was Spelljammer and Planescape and little crossover). Double damage to ALL outsiders is going to be expensive. It's better than bane in a sense and you'd need like a half-dozen + versions of that to get the effect... right? Then the basically "perfect concealment" should a) use secret chest 'cuz that's what that spell is for and b) is another super powerful and abusable ability basically. Then there is this really high DC Will save to resist being kicked through and... anyways, you add on top of all that one more dimension door spell <which, ok this may be wrong/nitpicking, but I think teleportation via things like dimension door happens in a totally different way with planes and then making this extraplaner and stuff just... wonky ok). At the end of the day, the idea isn't incredibly original (planer swords are done, and done better) and while it's got style (slash open a portal, gems in a blade, etc.) it's REALLY CHEAP, like not eve 25k for ALOT of stuff. 8k gp goes to the +2 weapon basically so...

Mithral Shirt of Concealment - Filler - Don't like the name, first up. I know "mithral shirt" is the armor type and normally things are "armor type of X" but... just no. Then, lets see... idea is: hobbit shirt that makes you fast and invisible. Not particularly original (hence the hobbit joke). You'd need to include a spell like expeditious retreat for the +30 movement <EDIT: I missed that you had haste -- which accounts for the base move+ but... see final comments>, and I'm guessing silence is for the Stealth bonus but I'm not feeling it working right mechanically. OK so --- this is big time FILLER item, Its one of those things, that especially for the price, why wouldn't every rogue/etc. want it. It's shirt of hasted invisibility and that's just kinda obvious for certain builds. Also, cheap cheap cheap. For the price, I'd sooner this built using expeditious retreat, vanish and maybe another low level spell, and then the 5th level caster level would make sense.

Rings of Shared Power - Rewrite - You mention in your post you became aware that there are various reasons such an item is a "No-no" -- the fact that I can think of one of SKR's 27 rules <I think> that basically says "don't do this" shows its not only not an original idea, it's a bad one to do because it doesn't exist for a reason. That said, it's not a terrible version of that bad idea, but it is long-winded when it could be written for clarities' sake to be much shorter. Sorry, you died the death of a thousand sneers this time, and I'm sorry the learning curve of the designers for RPG Superstar is tough to overcome vs. the past many years worth of accumulated opinion.

Fraud's Rod - Rewrite - Without foreknowledge of last years version of this item, you came up with a very similar one. It's not terrible, but you get long winded when much of what you say could be shortened various ways. Also, it's... not cliche at this point, but it's prime filler in a sense. It's not SuperStar because you're just using the item to bend and break various game mechanics without much style. The name is even kind of boring, though descriptive. The last bit I'd question mark is the price vs. benefit, but I'll be honest I just read the words of your item without deeply considering their exact mechanics because as I went along I started seeing how its confusingly written and thus broken in odd ways (ex: your last bit about the material items I think doesn't matter as scrolls subsume said cost into the scroll without the reader of said scroll needing the component at the time of casting - I believe, UNLESS you're trying to say that since it would be lacking the observer might realize, but then it should be clearer that that is your intention???)

Broken Gambit Shield - Filler - You sir are brave --- you submitted to a competition called SUPERSTAR a literally broken, "useless" item. I commend you. You included in your design the mind-effects to make you become the target, and I'd normally say THAT would be the better route to go (i.e. a perfectly functional shield that compels people to attack the wielder, but you get the full bonus of the shield to begin with) as a GM to let a PC really get the full benefit of the "look that fool has a broken shield" I'd make the player make various Bluff and deception checks that I'd just as soon let them do anyways. Then add to it that its usable once per combat (only trick people once right), and then on top of that once per day and it becomes just one more filler item filling my bag o' holding.

End of Page 8 Critques

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Lucus Palosaari wrote:
Phil Greeley/Rochandil Calenlad wrote:
Lucus Palosaari wrote:

Page 6 of Official Critique Thread

Pen of Mirado - Filler - XXX

Thanks for the review, Lucus! I appreciate that you consider this more a weapon than a wondrous item, although I suspect that more often than not it was considered the latter. My inspiration for the name was the Mirado Black Warrior pencil, of which I'd just bought two, and used one of them to write up the Pen. As I was concerned about IP infringement, I googled the name and found out that 'mirado' is also a word in Spanish which means "careful"; so, I thought I was OK on that score.

I should also say that I misunderstood the role of unique magic items in Pathfinder, but I understand now. Same, too, with NPCs and the game world. As for the bard issue, I've done a rewrite that turns it into a Knowledge check to find a special power or vulnerability, so hopefully that would improve it and make it more friendly to classes other than the bard (who would still do well...

Considering most of those things, then you made a really fine entry. I hope you'll enter again next year (or do one of the many other competitions in 2015 that other publishers do, etc.) and if that's the case I look forward to checking out your entries in those competitions!

Thanks, Lucus, that's good to hear! If you like, you can check out my re-write, The Vengeful Scribe's Penknife, which I did after getting critiques here on the boards. Feedback always welcome!

Cheers,
Phil

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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Catch up slacker :P

Lantern Lodge Dedicated Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Jayson MF Kip

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Quote:

Jeff Hazuka's Fellbough Hookhammer - SUPERSTAR!, in the right book (see comments) - Looking over your entry, the judges comments, and your own critique... you made an great version of what you were going for. AND you chose a niche that isn't well handled (gnome and their magic get all the love, there's few martial options for the shorties like gnomes and halflings). I'll agree it could use some more character, like playing into its "monumental ash struck by lightening" minimalist backstroy (making it a grounded weapon? though that doesn't fit the rest of the theme well). Actually, altering that essential backstory to one more fitting about something small (like water or pebbles, etc.) accumulating and destroying a larger thing (mountain, tree, etc.) might have inspired a better gimmick to it.

As it is, it's a really good addition for the right book, like an Ultimate Gnomish Warriors book. Just as another entry in say Penultimate Equipment, The Rest it would be just more solidly written filler text.
Thank you for showing Gnomes some martial love though.

Firstly, thanks for the positive review!

I do like the idea of adding a bit more "David beats Goliath" sort of feel to the weapon, in an effort to really portray the triumph of the short. Fitting a backstory to something as setting-neutral as a weapon turned out to be trickier than expected.

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Lucus Palosaari wrote:
Why the Dynamic Staff isn't just the Ring of Spell Storage...

(As one of those who compared it to the ring of spell storing) I can see your reasoning, but there are a few points you make that I'd disagree with you on, and argue a different set of logic. Partly because I think calm, technical discourse is a great way to learn (for myself included), and partly because... well I think you're wrong, obviously :P

In all seriousness, none of the following is remotely intended as a personal attack, and I think the idea of the staff has merit, I just disagree (a lot) about pricing and balance.

Sticking to spoiler tags out of sympathy for the eyeballs of those not interested.

Dynamic Staff vs Rings of Spell Storing:

I'm going to address a couple of points you make first:

Lucus Palosaari wrote:
It also NEVER costs any material component to cast a spell into the Ring which means that wizard able to cast wish could cast it into the Ring and then next round cast it out of the ring, spending 2 rounds but saving 25,000 gp each time. A cleric could cast true resurrection the same way, and save the 25,000 gp (and mind you, give it to the tank to go cast on someone, because they don't want to be the one that gets neck deep in combat). Doing this only 8 times and you've recovered the full price of the Ring!
This is actually incorrect, I'm afraid. The Ring of Spell Storing, which the others reference for the mechanics, is quite clear on how it works:
  • (First paragraph) A ring of spell storing contains up to 5 levels of spells [...] that the wearer can cast. [...] The user need not provide material components or focus to cast the spell.
  • (Third paragraph) A spellcaster can cast any spells into the ring [...]

The first paragraph describes how you get spells out of the ring: Press button, spell happens, no components required. The third paragraph describes how you get spells into the ring: You cast them, and thus require any material components needed to do so.

To use the item otherwise, as you describe, is incredibly broken in the hands of enterprising players. Spellcasting services can be sold, and "Bob's discount raise dead service" would very quickly recoup the 50,000gp needed for the ring with downtime of any length. The major ring and wish just gets ridiculous, as 200,000gp for +5 inherent bonus to all stats to all members of the party alone is worth them all pitching in to get one the moment they can access the spell.

Or in short: The item doesn't work that way.

Moving on: You are correct, in that there are a lot of differences between the ring and staff mechanically, but thematically they're extremely similar and that is something people kept picking up on, because it came across as taking an old concept and giving it a fresh coat of paint. A very complex coat of paint, but it's still the same basic idea.

Looking at the mechanics of ring vs staff, I would disagree with your commentary on pricing: It isn't a staff with CL13 and three spells whose level/charges = 1. It's a staff with any three spells whose level/charges = 1. And yes, if an item can cast 9th level spells, it needs to have a CL of 17.

Yes, you need to choose which spells are on at any one time, and it does take a day per spell to change them, but the simple fact is that most staff users won't use every spell on the staff that frequently, but they still pay the cost for the option to be able to do so. Assuming the rings didn't exist at all, I would have approached this taking the "5/day = same cost as at-will" concept from items-that-cast-spells, and priced them as 3 x Any spell = 3 x 5 spells = Fifteen CL17 spells with spell level/charge = 1. Or around 112,200gp.

Which I personally think is much more appropriate for something that can toss out any spell put in at CL17. Given the written price tag of 20,000gp it would be easily accessible to a 7th level cleric, who could toss in, say... cure critical wounds (4th), divine favor (1st) and shield of faith (1st), and every day put in one 4th level slot to cast 4 x 1st level slots at over twice his caster level (I'm not actually trying to wrack my brain about what combos would really give the biggest power boost).

But as the rings do exist....

Probably unnecessary direct comparison

Wandering through the mechanical differences, and scoring one against the other.

  • Spells cast from the staff have the higher of CL17 and the wielder's CL. Spells cast from the ring are always the minimum. Staff wins.
  • Spells cast from the staff use the higher of the minimum and the caster's attribute modifier for DCs. Spells cast from the ring always use the minimum. Staff wins.
  • The staff requires the wielder to either have a spell on their list, or beat a UMD DC20 check. The ring can be used by anyone. Ring wins.
  • Spells cast from the staff are not depleted, and so can be cast again if sufficient charges are available. Spells cast from the ring are depleted and cannot be cast again until put back in. Staff wins.
  • The staff can store any three spells, regardless of level, and cast up to 10 levels when fully charged. The major ring can store 10 levels of spells. Given the versatility Staff wins.
  • The staff can be charged a number of charges equal to the highest level spell you can cast. The ring can be replenished immediately. Ring wins.
  • The staff requires you to prepare or know only 1 spell on the staff to recharge it. The ring requires you to have on hand all the spells you want to use it with. Staff wins.

Staff: 5; Ring: 2.

  • Even if both were 200,000gp, I'd take the staff over the ring, unless there were some very specific reasons why I wanted to get personal spells onto the Cha 7 fighter who refuses to put ranks in UMD (because UMD 20 at that level is trivial for any class who wants to use it).
  • If the staff were 112,200gp, I'd DEFINITELY take the staff over the ring.
  • If the staff were 20,000gp or even 30,600gp, I'd buy several and an efficient quiver.

What the above says to me is that, although this is not intended to be an end-game style of item, the fact that it has unlimited scaling makes it so. If you dropped it to CL9th, a cap of 5th level spells and imbue with spell ability as the prereq, you'd drop it down in price significantly, and to much closer to your goal.

In my opinion at least... which kinda applies to most of the above :)

(Edit for accursed typos)

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