Choker of the Queen Bee

Open Call: Design a wondrous item, magic armor, or magic weapon

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 aka Khazrandir

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Choker of the Queen Bee
Aura faint transmutation; CL 6th
Slot neck; Price 6,200 gp; Weight 1 lb.
From this blackened iron choker hangs a detailed bronze figurine of a crowned honeybee.

When this collar is worn, the bronze bee springs to life and latches itself to the wearer, embedding its stinger deep into her neck. The wearer's throat fills with swarming bees, doing no harm but giving her voice an aggressive buzzing quality that grants a +2 competence bonus on Intimidate checks made using her voice.

Once per day as a standard action, the wearer may consume a small part of the swarming magic, coating her throat in soothing honey. For the next hour, she instead gains a +2 competence bonus on Diplomacy checks made with her voice, and is treated as if under the effect of the honeyed tongue spell.

Finally, the wearer may release the entire swarm as a full-round action once per day. The bronze bee burrows into her neck and out of sight as thousands of bees pour forward from the wearer's mouth in a 15-foot cone. Those caught in the cone take 4d6 piercing damage. A DC 16 Reflex save halves this damage. These bees then disperse immediately. Using the choker in this way removes all its magical effects until the next day, at which point the bronze bee figurine reappears.

Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, summon swarm, honeyed tongue; Cost 3,100 gp

Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

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I have to say, this was probably my favourite item that I came across while voting. When my boyfriend asked if I had seen any really good items yet, I replied with "Oh, there's this really cool choker that's all about BEES, let me read it to you".

I really glad this made the Top 32. Good luck!

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

BEES! And it was a keeper.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Wow, this one is the bee's knees!
Didn't see that while voting, but I have to say, I have to take my hat off to you for this.

PS: After all the praise, I have to also say that this item sound very uncomfortable and painful :O

Scarab Sages

I really loved this one. Great, somewhat creepy visual, with well tied in powers. Well done!

Dark Archive

I have nothing against bees, and wish they weren't dying off in the numbers they are, but the thought of bees in my throat was a little disconcerting. Imagery is not your weak point! :) That said, I liked this item and where you went with it, and thus voted for it. Congratulations!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Congratulations, Shane!

This item immediately reminded me of a scene from Bruce Almighty, which definitely made it stand out. The only times I didn't vote for it were when I saw it against one of my favorite items, and really that was just from my personal discomfort at the thought of summoning a swarm of bees in my throat. Bonus points for capitalizing on the "honeyed tongue" pun.

Can't wait to see what you muster up for round 2!

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Steven T. Helt

I saw a whole lot of bee and butterfly items. And even a hummingbird, I think. It is definitely a Snow White sort of contest. COntrasted with things like cloaks that drown people and mummified cats that leap out of their magic lockers. : )

Among bee items, this was certainly my favorite. Good luck and congratulations!

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka SmiloDan

This is totally a retired Sherlock Holmes--a beekeeper! :-D

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

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Shane! the Top 32!

As one of the judges who'll be along for the entire ride of the competition, it's my duty (and pleasure) to offer up some commentary on your winning submission, as well as a bit of advice for the challenges to come. First up...your item...choker of the queen bee...

Okay. The name is interesting. A choker isn't your everyday normal base item to turn into a wondrous magic item. It's got hints towards bees (always a favorite theme of mine!). So, I'm hooked and interested to read on.

Mojo. You've tapped into some great stuff here. The theme is obvious, strong, and appropriate. There's lots of nice imagery and descriptive elements here...from the buzzing voice that boosts Intimidate checks to the soothing taste of honey to sweeten someone's words on Diplomacy checks...and then a blasting, stinging, piercing cone of bees, bees, BEES! Awesome.

Cinematic. Just the ability to spew forth a stinging swarm of bees in a cone to send your enemies into disarray is fantastic, but you've also included the descriptive text for how the queen bee on the choker animates and has to interact with the wearer's own throat to achieve its effects. The reader can visualize all of that. You can even hear what someone using the intimidating aspects or soothing voice would sound like if you think on it. So, well done tapping into all of that. This is often what we mean when we describe an item as "evocative."

Usefulness. You put in the right amount of thematic abilities for this thing. You got the the yin and the yang of the Intimidate versus Diplomacy bonuses. And you've got a potent offensive effect someone can use as the last resort for the day. So, it's got utility with a little bit of weaponization to give it some character.

Mechanics. I think mechanically, it's fairly sound. You didn't go overboard with things. You kept it simple, but elegant. If there's any shortcoming here, it's that there's nothing super-innovative going on in the mechanics department of this design, but you stayed true to how the effects should be presented. If I've got any suggestion or quibble (on a very minor level), it's that I'd prefer to see more balance between the all-day use of the Intimidate bonus versus the once/day use of the Diplomacy bonus. I'd almost rather see that as an either/or ability the wearer has decide each day when they put it on...i.e., am I going to have an intimidating voice today or a soothing voice...and then let them decide anew the next day. I think that might rein back pricing a little, as the once/day offensive attack with the cone of bees seemed slightly too good at this price given all the other beneficial effects in play. A single-use item like an elixir of fire breath costs a hefty amount, but this choker gets to do a somewhat similar effect (granted, with less frequency) each and every day. So, I think I'd prefer to see it revamped a little to hone in on what it can do at a different price.

Polished. The template is mostly correct. The spells in the construction requirement just need to be reordered alphabetically. Other than that, I can tell you really applied yourself to getting everything right, and that attention to detail is admirable. I'd encourage you to continue that as you forge ahead.

Other than that, this is a very flavorful item. It has a tight theme, great visual effects, and a decent range of potential uses. I offer you my congratulations once again on making the Top 32, and wish you good luck in the competition ahead! Next up, let's see what kind of creativity you can bring to your map for Round 2.

My two cents,

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

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I did not find this item very interesting and the more I read it the more it bugs me. No pun intended. The stinger seems to be an ovipositor. The swarm doesn't seem to be exactly a swarm but a cone effect.

Apart from that it makes the wearer a little more skilful - fro some reason the buzzing makes you universally more Intimidating, and any thematic honeyed words you might want to take advantage of is not constant.

Some royal jelly health effects, a throat stinger, not sure really, but I'm not getting it here.

Others apparently did. Congratulations Shane and know I am a harsh critic. :)

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka thornnm

I didn't see this one come up while I was voting, but I wish I had! I will admit that the first thing it made me think of was "Or the dogs with bees in their mouths and when they bark, they shoot bees at you!". Which, frankly, just makes me like it more.

Congratulations on making the Top 32 and good luck in the rest of the competition!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Despite the creepy imagery of bees crawling into your throat and out of your mouth, this was one of my favorite items this year. I'm glad to see it made the cut. Good luck in the next round!

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

Welcome to the Top 32, Shane! Your submission has overcome the magic item horde and the many culls to emerge at the top of the heap. Congratulations!

I'll be one of the judges for this first round, offering my humble commentary which I hope will be helpful to you moving into Round 2. I will be considering each item based on three factors: functionality (does the item fill a useful niche within the rules?), mojo ("wow" factor--would I point out this item to someone else, or immediately get some cool concept to go with it?), and writing (is the formatting and text clear and error free? Is the prose interesting and evocative?)

Combining these elements successfully is, I feel, key to defining that elusive "Superstar" quality that we all want to see.

So you know what I'm looking for, now let's move on to the good bit: your choker of the queen bee!

Functionality and Usefulness
Two bonuses to social skills and a combat power. The versatility is nice, and the power level is about right. It's sold primarily as an Intimidate-bonus item, but with the capability to switch to Diplomatic easily and a 1/day offensive power just in case those Intimidation/Diplomacy efforts fail.

There are a lot of existing methods to get bonuses to social skill rolls, but not so many that combine Diplomacy and Intimidate. They are also not combined with a combat power (that is even more terrifying than the effect giving the Intimidate bonus). So having that all in one item is a really great package for a certain type of character. This isn't something I can see every PC wanting, which is a good thing. I can see it appealing to social schemers wanting some extra firepower in a pinch, or a front line type that does a lot of demoralizing and could use an occasional area of effect attack.

The Cool Factor/Mojo
So I have a thing about bugs...

None of my characters would touch this thing because the way it attaches and the methods of activating it would squick me out too much as a player. The fact I'd let out a girlish shriek if my PC picked it up and hand it off as fast as possible really just means you did a good job evoking the flavor (oh, man, I really hate using the word "flavor" in relation to this item) and selling the theme. There's something to that.

Take all that away, though, and this is an item with two skill bonuses, a spell, and a once per day cone attack. Items that give skill bonuses are a dime a dozen, but you combined them organically with the included attack. I feel you wrapped it up tightly enough to carry the item, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to try to stretch a little more in future rounds.

Prose and Editing
Your writing definitely made me feel like I was being covered with bees (in the best possible way), so thanks for that! :)

The writing is good and you carried the bee imagery and theme well (really well).

Minor quibble: alphabetize the spells. Alphabetize everything that can reasonably be alphabetized.



Being able to play on a theme without going totally crazy with it is a good trait. The item is balanced quite well. The price point looks pretty close to me, given the once per day cancels the skill bonuses until the next day, too.

You show capability with generating clear, effective prose, and your item is certainly good. I'd like more risk-taking, though, especially since I think you could balance it well.

I am honored to have been allowed to provide feedback this year. I look forward to your entry for Round 2, Shane, and expect to see a map just as evocative as you made your item (though, in my preference, with slightly less nightmare fuel).

Congratulations again!

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

Didn't see this one in voting, would likely have voted for it.

The effects themselves aren't very exciting. Minor bonuses to skills that don't get used often enough, and a so-so combat effect.

But it's the flavor that sells this one, and that flavor is very strong. You tapped into the primal fear of bees a lot of people have, and you used it well. That sort of thing is a valuable skill to have. If you can apply that to some more innovative crunch you'll be a formidable contestant moving forward.

One last thing- Be careful with terminology. "Swarm" has a particular meaning in the rules, but you're using it differently here. That's confusing.

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

I'm afraid I'm with OSW. I think you've got some great imagery here -- it got me to vote for the item sometimes -- though like Victoria, I was a little squicked out by the activation method (and wouldn't necessarily want to subject my poor characters to that).

Mainly, though,I felt its main effects were bonuses to a couple skills and that just left me cold.

Still others obviously disagreed with me, so I'm looking forward to seeing what else you can do. Good luck in Round 2; if you advance to Round 3 I'd urge you to try to be more innovative in your monster design.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka JoelF847

Congrats on making the top 32. I have to agree with those that weren't digging this item. Some nice thematic imagery doesn't save it from being some weak skill bonuses and a once per day area effect for damage. Overall, for the price, I'd prefer a half charged wand of fireballs, with more area, more range, and more damage.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 aka Khazrandir

Wow! Thanks so much for the helpful comments and kind words.

What a great day! I just returned from my honeymoon this afternoon to see this. I'm off to tell my lovely wife and then... make a map!

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

Mazel tov, Shane! Where was the honeymoon?

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 aka Khazrandir

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
Mazel tov, Shane! Where was the honeymoon?

We went to Ireland, starting in Dublin then spending time seeing the sights on the southern and western coasts. The scenery was beautiful and romantic, the pubs were lively, and the people friendly. It was an absolutely amazing adventure!

Marathon Voter Season 9

Congrat! Both on making the Top 32, and for tying the knot!

I like this item a lot. Mechanically it has basically everything right where it needs to be. It did tick my pet peeve and use the wrong aura strength though. Definitely double check that next time. I would never come within a mile of this item, but that's no fault against your item. Quite the opposite.

You use the word swarm a lot, and even say you spit out the swarm, so I had a fairly good idea what the second half of the third ability was going to say, and I was not excited. You didn't go that direction, and I appreciated it quite a bit. I would try removing most, if not all of the uses of swarm though. Its a word with alot on meaning in the game, and your overuse of it feels a little clunky at times (the swarming magic). I still have to admit that it is an item that I would be happy to have in my games, my personal hatred of bees aside.

Best of luck in all future rounds, and in your new marriage as well!

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

As promised yesterday, the GB&U this year is courtesy of me rather than GM_solsprial (he is busy drawing furiously). So without further ado, our amazing and awesome top 32+4 get the first set of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly critiques, and then on to everyone else who requested a critique in the CMI official thread, or in my shiny The GB&U Season 9 thread.

Choker of the Queen Bee

The Good: Chokers can be tough, alas they have sort of gotten stuck in Victorian or gothic themes often when staring as magic items, you managed to be neither of these, and super bloody cool at the same time. The power set was unexpected and very neat!

The Bad: The description just doesn't do it for me. The main material (blackened iron) just does not mesh with the theme, IMO.

The Ugly: I was really expecting more than just piercing damage from spitting forth a cone of bees. I really wanted poison, or another interesting effect, the visual on the power is so good, the effect lets it down IMO.

I will be starting my reviews soon, and they can be bumpy at times, so here's a starter for 10 on Template ...

You almost nailed it! Just one thing on first glance and it's NOT the aura strength.

Both spells are 2nd level spells and faint aura is spells level 1-3, moderate is 4-6 and strong is 7-9, so I believe that totally faint is correct. It's based on the spell level not the caster level, a 20th level caster creating an item with magic missile still creates a faint evocation item.


It is the spells that cause the issue - you didn't sort them alphabetically in your construction section!

Yes Fu, here's your food...


*gaily skips to the next item*

Full review to follow in due course.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Thrawn007

I told myself I wasn't going to do any critiques while the competition is going, but this isn't really a critique. More a question (because it drove me nuts every time your item came up, and when I gave a generic comment about it in the snark thread, I ended up getting over half a dozen PM's from people wondering if I was talking about their item.)

Why did you choose to go with summon swarm over vomit swarm for a creation spell?


My reasoning for vomit swarm being the superior choice is two-fold:
1) The bees are coming out of your mouth! So I thought it was the better thematic fit.
2) Vomit swarm actually includes the ability to create a wasp swarm, which is something summon swarm can't do. So I thought it was the better mechanical fit.

I did like your item, and voted for it a lot. I don't know why that one detail was such a sticking point for me, but it's been killing me wanting to ask.

Sovereign Court Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

I have to admit, I wasn't very excited by this one.

The visuals are strong, almost too strong as it makes me go yuck!

I found the mechanics to be quite boring, unlike some other posters I think intimidate and diplomacy items aren't really that rare (maybe in the PRD), but I can think of a couple.

A couple of skill bonuses and a 1/day cone of damage just didn't do it for me.

Obviously other voters disagreed and Congratulations! Best of luck going forward.

Paizo Employee Assistant Developer , Star Voter Season 6

Hello, Shane, and welcome to the Top 32!

I'll be a judge for this round, and I'm honored and pleased to offer feedback on your choker of the queen bee. I hope this feedback provides some helpful insight to you as you move forward in the competition.

As an assistant developer at Paizo, I'll offer you three levels of commentary that approximate the development process: some first impressions, a deeper look, and some measured feedback.

So, let's get started!

First impressions: Gotta admit, I got very excited when I read this item's name, because I love Calistria and I thought it'd be tied to themes related to her faith. That's not what we got, though, and there's nothing wrong with that -- but as a big ol' Golarion lore nerd, I can't help but feel like tweaking the item to theme it off wasps and trickery would have made this a real grand slam.

Deeper look: What we do get here is great, though, so don't get me wrong. I really like items that require a bit of a sting (har har, sorry, couldn't help it) to use, and I like the versatility this one brings. That said, I'd like to see a bit of smoothing out in the durations of the bonuses to Intimidate and Diplomacy. Right now, pricing is a little low for what we've got, and your aura is off -- at CL 6th, it should be moderate transmutation.

Measured feedback: This item is very versatile, but it also plays it pretty safe with the abilities it offers. When choosing between a grab bag of simple design components and one truly inventive piece of design, I'm going to prefer the latter every time, and I think lots of voters would agree. You have a good handle on how to design around a tight theme, so see if you can funnel that into pieces that truly shine as the contest progresses. You've got a lot of potential and I'm excited to see what you'll come up with!

That said, thanks for reading, and best of luck in the contest!

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

Shane Fogerty wrote:
Choker of the Queen Bee

Congratulations for making it into the Top 32!

Seeing as that's how I had to start this, you're already a potential "Superstar" so keep that in mind!

That out of the way, I'm going to treat your item the same as if I saw it in the Critique My Item Thread, which means I'll be using the following comments, and assuming you're submitting this item as your "sample" for an Open Call to Fat Goblin Game's Call to Arms book line.

Feel free to disagree with me and DEFEND YOUR CHOICES!

Publishable — RPG SS always bring out the "swarm items," and I don't personally see the appeal. This one is well written I suppose but has an element of body-horror that I don't like in the least. Most magic items just produce their effect, they don't have mutilate me to get them. That's why it's "magic"

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

Okay now that we have a few days before Top 16 reveals I've decided to comment on my competitors work. First, congrats one being a people's choice top 36. To me connecting more directly with the pathfinder community as an audience is even more impressive then clicking for a group of judges.

On one hand having a swarm crap honey down my throat is creepy as hell on the other the ability to vomit a cone in someone's face is awesome. I sort of love hated this and it got plenty of upvotes from me but the occasional downvote as well, usually against other top 100 contenders. I am not surprised to see it here as it was certainly memorable. Good luck in the next round.

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

While the visuals are a little to icky for me, I do like how you handled the bonuses to diplomacy and intimidate.

Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Wow, that sounds like it hurts. All those bugs moving around in your throat would feel so disconcerting! Yeeesh!

Love it! I thought it was awesome. I like what it does and how you tied it together. I applaud your choice to make the bees a cone attack, not an actual swarm. The descriptions were great and creepy, but not gross. Certainly evocative. I get that the item's simple mechanically, but you did great things with it and evoked strong feelings in players of all kinds, which is great.

Congrats to you and your wife on your marriage, and congrats to you on making top 32. Best of luck in the next round!

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

Good work making it to the Top 32, Shane! You’ve earned it with the choker of the queen bee so I’d like to take a moment and offer my thoughts.

  • Bees tap into a primal fear for most people, so I’m intrigued already after just reading the name.
  • embedding its stinger deep into her neck!” What? “wearer’s throat fills with swarming bees!” I know people who wouldn’t be able to read past these sentences. Nicely done! Seriously.
  • ”…consuming a small part of swarming magic.” What does that mean? Does the user have to actually drink honey? Does it have to be magic, swarming honey?
  • Thematically speaking, I just don’t see a throat full of bees ever helping someone with a Diplomacy check. The honey referred to in the spell is a figurative idiom, not literal; unless everyone that casts it has been going around talking with their mouths full, which probably wouldn’t grant bonuses to Diplomacy under most circumstances.
  • A lot of people really like swarms apparently.
  • …burrows into her neck!” Why would you do this to us?
  • Ah, it’s a cone attack, not an actual summoned swarm. Smart.
  • I absolutely want to GM a villain wearing one of these. It makes me want to read up on the vigilante to see if it might make for an enemy with a dash of insectile supervillainy.
  • The simple bonuses to Intimidate and Diplomacy are pretty tame results for some terrifyingly descriptive effects. The price probably requires that though, so I’ll just say good work on creating some intense descriptions for a low level item!
I’d like describing the action of this to the players at my table, and I want to find a use for it so I can do that. Good work, and good luck in the next round!

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

Shane Fogerty wrote:
Choker of the Queen Bee

Congratulations Shane!

Some very strong imagery here, from the embedded stinger, to soothing honey to a throat full of bees. Well done there, but mechanically it left me wanting. Bonuses to skills are just not exciting enough to justify a throat full of insects. The breath weapon is a little more interesting, maybe interesting enough my PCs might actually use it.

Good work and good luck on future rounds! :)

Sovereign Court Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Choker of the Queen Bee

Innocent bauble,
Soothing voice and magic flow.

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