Brass Helmsman


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

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Curtisin

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Brass Helmsman
Aura moderate conjuration; CL 5th
Slot -; Price 60,000 gp; Weight 2 lbs.
Description
A brass helmsman is a small brass figurine in the shape of a sailor holding a compass, standing approximately 4 inches tall. When placed on the deck of a ship and the command word is spoken, the brass helmsman grows to 6 feet and takes its place at the tiller or rudder of the ship. When used in this manner on a folding boat however, the brass helmsman becomes the figurehead of the ship instead.
When placed on the deck of a normal ship and activated, ghostly figures take the place of members of the crew, reducing the crew requirements by 1/4 (though never below 1) and increasing speed of the vehicle by 1/4, as well as steering and navigating the ship to the best of its ability (rank 10 profession (sailor) and knowledge (geography)).
When placed on the deck of a folding boat, the effect is far more substantial. It increases the size of the folding boat versions (the small version of the folding boat becomes a row boat while the larger version becomes a sloop (see row boat and sailing ship, page 185 of Ultimate Combat). The helmsman will still increase the speed by ¼, but a crew is no longer required as ghostly figures take over.
As the brass helmsman becomes a part of the vehicle on which it is used, it has no separate hit points or AC. It will only accept spoken commands in Common (but does not speak).
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, phantom driver, know direction, creator must have at least 2 ranks of Craft (blacksmithing) and at least 10 ranks in profession (sailor) and knowledge (geography); Cost 30,000 gp

Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Janvs

I loved this item and voted for it in every pairing! Congrats, fellow alternate!

Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

Out of the 36 items in the Top 32 + Alternates this item is my personal favorite. :)

Dark Archive

This was a fun item - congratulations on making alternate!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Curtisin

I'm glad you all liked it. :)

I know there are few issues with it (at least 1 formatting error and I'm not entirely happy with the price), but as I found out about Season 9 only 3 days before it closed, I'm happy with the result. :)

(And ecstatic that so many liked it).

Dark Archive RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 9

Yeah, this was a good one. Well done Kim and a pleasure to compete with you in Round 2!
:^ )

Sovereign Court Marathon Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

Congratulations on making it in!

Marathon Voter Season 9

Congrats!

I liked this item. I appreciate that the item is not really meant for the usual player or even really for combat, yet fits its niche really well. This is where slotless items can really shine, and yours does. I also like items that add even more utility to other items in their design space.

I did have a few issues with it, but they are mostly small things the editors can quickly fix without too much work. You used the wrong aura strength, which bother me personally a lot more than most, but is an easy fix if caught. You overuse parentheses a bit; I would rather have seen most of those just spelled out in their own sentences. And I'm not set on the skill ranks needed in blacksmithing. The knowledge and profession seem appropriate, but why blacksmithing? If the item doesn't boost anything with the skill, I would ignore it. Swords need to be made by blacksmiths, but I don't believe any magic swords list a blacksmithing requirement.

Overall I like the item. It has a good idea, but a few of the finer points needed double checking. Best of luck in this, and all future seasons!

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

Kim Frandsen wrote:
Brass Helmsman

Congtatulations Kim!

My favorite aspect is playing with a part of the game that is outside of encounters. It is almost too far out, as travel is almost a plot device. Either the GM plans for encounters along the way, or they wave it off as a red-line-map-montage ala Indianna Jones.

Fortunately this is creative, balanced, and well thought out. Even more fortunate, that is what I base my votes on.

Well done, good luck in the maps. :)

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

Congrats, Kim. This is a fun item; I really like the way it interacts with other established items. I really liked that in Frank's iounic pipes as well, so I guess that's a design space that appeals to me. :)

I'd say keep an eye on Paizo standards if you get to advance to Round 3. While there are some items with skill requirements, I think they tend to be few and far between. Not that it'd be a big deal to just remove that, but being able to match their style becomes more important as you get into the later rounds.

Lots of alternatives have advanced over the course of the contest so make sure you give the map your all!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Curtisin

Feedback noted and thanks for taking the time to comment (and liking my item). :)
I will comment later to avoid DQ'ing myself by mistake. :)

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

Kim Frandsen wrote:
Brass Helmsman

Congratulations for making it into the Top 36!

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.

Publishable — I like this item. I only saw it once I think during voting, but it's a pretty solid concept. The specifics of the mechanics aren't amazing. The way its treated for a folding boat would likely work just as well for a regular boat, (rather than the 1/4 crew stuff) and then I'd like to see something more interesting for the folding boat but even as is, it really just needs formatting <don't reference page numbers in books> and language tightening up.


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

Always check the errata - you almost nailed it - sorry!

Slot should be listed as none; and not dashed from fifth printing errata onwards - when going forward as a designer and for future rounds, please double check the errata for anything you submit - especially stat block and format block types of items - monster and villains are a good example.

Yummy, the Fu is going to get fat again!

*munch*

Full review to follow in due course.

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

Too late to add to my original comment, so I'll flag as a separate one here:

Feel free to disagree with me and DEFEND YOUR CHOICES!

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.

Brass Helmsman

The Good: Way outside the box thinking here, items of this type are rare and you did well to identify a niche and hit it hard.

The Bad: Alas, in a way, this item removes some of the fun of having a ship, IMO having the party get crew can be just as much fun as having the ship itself.

The Ugly: The cost is no small thing, and games where ships do not come into play will never see this item, which is a shame. Niches are good, except when they get in the way.

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

Welcome to the Top 36, Kim! 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 as you move forward. 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 brass helmsman!

Functionality and Usefulness
It's very niche. It's not a bad niche, and there's still plenty good design space in there. Seafaring adventures are pretty popular (Skull and Shackles, Plunder and Peril), though I'm not sure if a campaign totally focused on sailing would use this much, as crew gathering can be a big factor of the game. I see this more useful for a party that isn't focused on sea travel, but has it come up often enough it's desirable to outsource some of it.

As for what it does, it can steer the ship, navigate, reduce crew requirements, and increase speed. Those are pretty cool perks.

It really shines in combination with a folding boat, and interacting with existing items is a good way to distinguish yourself. It builds the item into the game and also gives old items new shine.

There are a few unanswered questions looking at this: can the helmsman be moved to a different ship? Is he destroyed if the ship sinks or wrecks?

60,000 gp is a lot of loot to drop on an item which might only be an occasional part of the game.

The Cool Factor/Mojo
You have this going for you. You teased some neat and creative extrapolations from your construction spells and you went to a neat and uncrowded design space. Nautical items can be a tough sell, but making Top 36 means quite a few people recognized you were doing something cool.

I like that you kept this pretty simple. It's a guy who runs your ship for you and makes it run a little better. You didn't try to make it some SAK concoction that repairs your ship, feeds the party, repels pirates, and gives the party magic sonar. This would have been easy to bog down with complex rules, but you avoided that.

Prose and Editing
There's some crazy stuff going on in your construction requirements. Alphabetize your spells, and don't go overboard (augh, a pun) with the skill rank requirements. Just Profession (sailor) would be sufficient.

Instead of putting its ranks in skills in the kind of awkward parentheticals, just state the helmsman can navigate the ship as though he had Knowledge (geography) +10 and Profession (sailor) +10. (Alphabetize everything.)

Italicize sourcebooks (Ultimate Combat). Some of your fractions are converted to fractional format while some are unformatted. Template Fu already devoured your slot error, so I'll let him enjoy his snack.

I'd have liked additional line breaks for readability.

The description is excellent--very precise and with a clear idea of what the item is.

Overall
You've got some good design ideas and you know how to execute them with simple elegance. I'd like to see your writing tightened up and some consideration given to probable contingencies (PCs getting a new ship or wrecking the one they've got are definite possibilities).

I am honored to have been allowed to provide feedback this year. Best of luck moving forward, Kim, and I look forward to seeing how your designs develop!

Congratulations again!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka GM_Solspiral

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.

I liked this a bunch but also saw it as an item for travel which some GMs hand waive. I'd like to have seen this with more vehicle utility like having it able to drive wagons or something as well. It definitely got more up votes then down. Congrats and Condolences on being an alternate.

Sovereign Court Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

I enjoyed this one and it was one of my keepers.

Somethings that may have influenced my thoughts on it though are the fact that I am GMing a Skulls and Shackles game and my group playing in a certain other AP found a folding boat (don't want to mention for spoilers).

I can see this being used by either group (at least at the high level end of things).

Congrats!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Curtisin

For the interested, here is the retooled version of the Brass Helmsman, in case someone is interested in seeing what it looks like after the feedback, taking as much of it into account as I could while remaining faithful to the original.
As before, feedback is more than welcome. :)
(I will admit though, that fitting it into 300 words with the corrections was not easy. :P)

Brass Helmsman v. 2:

Brass Helmsman
Aura faint conjuration; CL 5th
Slot none; Price 10,000 gp; Weight 2 lbs.
Description
A brass helmsman is a small brass figurine in the shape of a sailor holding a compass, standing approximately 4 inches tall. When placed on the deck of a ship and the command word 20spoken, the brass helmsman grows to 6 feet and takes its place at the tiller or rudder of the ship.
When used in this manner on a folding boat however, the brass helmsman becomes the figurehead of the ship instead.

When placed on the deck of a normal ship and activated, ghostly figures take the place of members of the crew, reducing the crew requirements by 1/4 (though never below 1) and increasing speed of the vehicle by 1/4, as well as steering and navigating the ship to the best of its ability, at profession (sailor) and knowledge (geography) rank 10.

When placed on the deck of a folding boat it increases the size of the folding boat versions:
The small version of the folding boat becomes a row boat while the larger version becomes a sloop (see row boat and sailing ship, page 185 Ultimate Combat). The helmsman increases speed as before, but a crew is no longer required as ghostly figures take over.

As the brass helmsman becomes a part of the vehicle and has no separate hit points or AC. It will only accept spoken commands in Common (but does not speak).

Should the ship be wrecked or destroyed the helmsman survives, but shrinks to it's initial size. If another ship is acquired, the brass helmsman can be shrunk and moved, using a second command word.

Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, know direction, phantom driver, creator must have 10 ranks of profession (sailor); Cost 5,000 gp

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

This item has a very interesting effect, but I dislike that the effects change with the folding boat.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Kim! Welcome..to 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 should you step up from alternate status to the second round. So, first up...your item...the brass helmsman...

Okay. The name fits. It's a wondrous item, but you still let us know it's made of brass, and since we're not dealing with a full Craft Construct situation, I'm fairly certain the helmsman is likely a figurine or statuette or something, and I'm not disappointed.

Mojo. Summoning a phantom driver or helmsman for your ship is intriguing. Staffing it with a ghostly crew that can increase its efficiency is helpful. And magnifying what a folding boat can do when influenced by this item is innovative.

Cinematic. Plenty of visuals are available for how this item functions.

Usefulness. It kind of breaks down a bit here, because it's a nautical item and travel by ship doesn't factor into most campaigns all that often. At least you layered in multiple effects. It may be a brass helmsman, but you get a lot more out of it than that single pilot.

Mechanics. It's really kind of mechanically boring when you get down to it. It's an autopilot (which makes adventuring safer for the PCs so they don't have to invest 10 ranks in Profession [sailor]). And it boosts your ship by 25% or makes a folding boat bigger. As your calling card for RPG Superstar, it's not the most innovative, eye-catching thing to design. And, even if it's mechanically sound and perfectly polished, it'll still face an uphill battle to convince enough people to champion it over sexier item designs which have more immediate use in the game. I think this is probably a big reason why you landed on the alternate list rather than the Top 32.

Polish. There are several missteps in here. You used the template as best you could, but the descriptive text missed italicizing some words, lowercased some stuff that should have been capitalized as game terms, and it's clear you designed this with word processing software that auto-"corrected" your "1/4" to "¼"...which is also an indication that you didn't avail yourself of the preview button to notice that, or the fact that your line breaks didn't carry over very well. The end result is a sloppy looking submission.

Other than that, this item got you very close to the Top 32. It has an innovative idea behind it, but not enough appeal or professional polish to close the deal. Congratulations on making it as far as you have, and should you get called up, I look forward to seeing what you've got for us in Round 2.

My two cents,
--Neil

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Curtisin

Thank you for the review Neil, the critique is much appreciated and has been noted for future competitions. :-)

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

I thought this was a fine enough item, and voted for it at least once.

It's not the most exciting thing ever, focused on logistical things that may or may not ever come into play. And it's crazy expensive compared to its likely usefulness.

But it does what it does well. I liked the interplay with another magical item. Often attempted, often failed, but you pulled it off.

A little extra mojo and you're there.

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

Kim Frandsen wrote:
Brass Helmsman

First impression:

Skull and Shackles got to you!
Feelings:
Boats are neat. However; there are some clarity things here. You could have produced 4 paragraphs:
1 for description.
1 for effects on a normal boat.
1 for the effects with a folding boat.
1 for the other mechanical things.

Now; normally people don't like items that reference other items. The image of ghostly sailors steering a boat is pretty excellent. It's clear and comes across nicely.
1/4th of a crew is an "odd" fraction. This is a math game, and most people probably are intelligent to know how to deal with fractions. But; we should use easy math. 1/4th is easy enough, but this is something you may want to be aware of. A "Set" number is probably a better option: Easier to read and such.

I don't know the vehicle rules too well however: if this is the gold standard for Pathfinder, I wouldn't know. But, I would go for Hard numbers instead of a fraction.

Would I publish Had I the Power:
You are Top 32!!!

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