Scattertracks


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

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9 aka electricjokecascade

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Scattertracks
Aura faint conjuration; CL 3rd
Slot -; Price 1080 gp; Weight 1 lb.
Description
This handsome walking stick culminates in a small, iron halfling foot.

When the Scattertracks is tapped against a foot, hoof, wheel, or other means of locomotion, it captures that specific set of prints. When the owner thinks on the direction he wishes to go and gives the command word, seven unseen servants immediately head out at 15 ft/round in all directions but the owner's intended route, laying down the imprinted tracks in a convincing manner as long as the surface can be impressed upon with up to 20 pounds of force. The servants continue in a straight line as best they can for one mile before dissipating.

The staff can only be used once per day, and the prints can only be captured from creatures or objects up to Large size.

Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, invisible servant; Cost 540 gp


Sorry to the judges if I'm posting out of turn.

I've seen this item more than any other on personal keep lists.

I think the combination of the visuals, the low caster level, the low cost, and the usefulness made it a voter favorite.

Some minor template problems but I don't think we cared when it came down to the votes.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Petty Alchemy

When I first saw Scattertracks, I never doubted for a moment it would make Top 32.
It's got a good image (and gets the imagination going), cute effect, and a great name!

Congratulations!

Dark Archive

I only saw this item twice, and I voted for it both times - I love the flavor and mechanics! Congratulations!

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Darkjoy

Never saw this, weird.

Star Voter Season 9

Scattertracks was a serious favorite of mine. It's simple, elegant, low-cost, evocative, and useful. Can't ask for anything more!

Scarab Sages

One of my favorites. So simple, but so perfect.

Grand Lodge Star Voter Season 9

My absolute favourite.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Amanuensis

Congratulations, Philip!

This was my favorite item as well.

Spoiler:
Even if I cringed every time I had to read invisible servant.

Sovereign Court Marathon Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

Congratulations on making it in!

Philip Tucker wrote:

Scattertracks

Aura faint conjuration; CL 3rd
Slot -; Price 1080 gp; Weight 1 lb.
Description
This handsome walking stick culminates in a small, iron halfling foot.

When the Scattertracks is tapped against a foot, hoof, wheel, or other means of locomotion, it captures that specific set of prints. When the owner thinks on the direction he wishes to go and gives the command word, seven unseen servants immediately head out at 15 ft/round in all directions but the owner's intended route, laying down the imprinted tracks in a convincing manner as long as the surface can be impressed upon with up to 20 pounds of force. The servants continue in a straight line as best they can for one mile before dissipating.

The staff can only be used once per day, and the prints can only be captured from creatures or objects up to Large size.

Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, invisible servant; Cost 540 gp

It's always nice to see items that aren't just for combat. I've run the exact sort of campaigns where this would be essential, and I could see future Hell's Rebels players thinking back to it. The low price is especially helpful.

One of your requirements is off, by the way; it should be unseen servant. I saw that a couple of times during the voting. It's good to see that it didn't hold you back.

Good luck next round!

Dedicated Voter Season 9

This was too close to a staff for me to up-vote the one time I saw it. It's a neat idea although the straight nature of the tracks, the 20 lb maximum force exerted by the servants, long range (1 mile), and lack of imprinting mechanism for the tracks all work against it mechanically.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Rusty Ironpants

Congrats on making the Top 32!

I really like this item and upvoted it multiple times during the voting period. I like that it is an inexpensive item and that the mechanics are clear and simple but it is still really useful. I think using unseen servants to create the decoy tracks is an extremely clever idea.

Good luck!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 9 aka LightSprite

Well done! This was one of my favourites.

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

Clever use of unseen servant. This one was on my keep list and I'm glad to see it made it into the Top 32. Good luck in the rest of the competition!

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

Congratulation on earning a spot in the Top 32 this year, Philip! Here’s some thoughts on your item:

  • Fun and clever name
  • I’m more familiar with “culminates” being used as a dramatic device, and am not sure it’s the best word here. Apart from that, it’s a fun and creative image that makes the item unique and flavorful in just a few words. Nice!
  • Good job adding a generalized activation requirement (other means of locomotion) to expand on the item’s usefulness.
  • “…laying down the imprinted tracks in a convincing manner as long as the surface can be impressed upon with up to 20 pounds of force.” This could cause some problems though. What does “a convincing manner” mean exactly? And what happens if the ground is not compliant enough to meet the requirements? A wagon weighs a good deal more than 20 pounds, yet the unseen servants that can only apply 20 pounds of force are able to imprint tracks in “a convincing manner” in this case? I feel like there could be some clarification here.
  • A fun item for bad guys to have, certainly. How often are players being pursued though? Seems like it’s flirting with a role as a campaign item that the players will likely sell the moment they get back to town. If they players do use it, then they just keep the encounters from finding them, and isn’t monsters finding the party (or vice versa) kind of the point of the game? I realize that isn't always the case, but I tend to avoid the things that help me avoid interacting with components of the game altogether. The more I think on it, I just see this item as being infuriating for the players when the GM is using it, and infuriating for the GM when the players use it.
  • A cheap item that uses a fun spell creatively. I can appreciate that.
Your item has a good mix of elements that tackle aspects of the game commonly overlooked. Round 2 is just ahead, and I’m looking forward to seeing what you bring.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9 aka electricjokecascade

Thanks for the kind words and feedback, everybody. It's much appreciated!

Marathon Voter Season 9

Congrats on making Top 32!

I too am a big fan of this item. It's wonderfully fun. I can totally see using it against my party when they are tracking down an enemy, and I know my players would be overjoyed once they figured out what had caused the effect and got their hands on this. Its simple, its fun, and it is out of combat only, which in my book is a plus. The only problem I had with it was the aforementioned spell name issue. Looking forward to seeing your map.

Best of luck in all future rounds!

Dedicated Voter Season 9

You might also have wanted to specify how the tracks affect the survival DC to track targets.

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

Congratulations, Philip!

I never saw this in voting, and now I feel like I missed out. This item is awesome! I never would have seen that use coming from the unseen servant spell, and you have broadened my horizons concerning the utility of its effect.

Can't wait to see your map in round 2!

Sovereign Court Star Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Congrats! Was one of my favorites.

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 on getting to the Top 32. I liked this; that said, I kept thinking that once someone's experienced it, they're going to just start following the one direction WITHOUT tracks. Maybe that's not going to ever happen though. Also, what happens if the user changes routes while the paths are still going?

Still, a fun item. Looking forward to seeing your map.

Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

I wish I had seen this in voting. I really like it, and would have been proud to give it a vote.

Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
I liked this; that said, I kept thinking that once someone's experienced it, they're going to just start following the one direction WITHOUT tracks.

The direction without the unseen servant tracks would be the direction the user travelled in - it has the user's tracks, resulting in tracks in all directions.

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

Braingamer wrote:

I wish I had seen this in voting. I really like it, and would have been proud to give it a vote.

Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
I liked this; that said, I kept thinking that once someone's experienced it, they're going to just start following the one direction WITHOUT tracks.

The direction without the unseen servant tracks would be the direction the user travelled in - it has the user's tracks, resulting in tracks in all directions.

Yeah, that makes sense. I don't know why in my head the user wouldn't leave tracks him/herself. :)


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! My eagles eye spotted...

You also fell into the errata trap - slot from fifth printing is none; and not dash - I love that trap, it feeds the Fu so much ;)

You also missed the comma in numbers of a thousand or more - so your price needs one of those.

*munch*

Full review to follow in due course.

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.

Scattertracks

The Good: You went with an angle that is pretty uncommon and did it pretty well.

The Bad: There is no spell called invisible servant.

The Ugly: The unseen servants as per the spell cannot move more than 25 +5 ft./2 levels away from the caster, thus the boots wearer must stay within 30 ft. of all the unseen servants for them to function as intended.

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

I really like this item and how it could be useful to both players and NPCs. I think all my concerns have already been listed by others.

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

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Welcome to the Top 32, Philip! 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 scattertracks!

Functionality and Usefulness
I really like the flair and thought that went into this. I'll get to that later.

I'm a bit dubious on how much use this is. It's unique, to be sure--there are some items that can keep the user from being followed by covering tracks, but none I know of that do this kind of trail chicanery. You filled a niche, and I like seeing a walking stick in the game, but I'm not so fond of making this a slotless wondrous item. This reminds me more of an unusual staff or rod.

This would be infuriating for PCs tracking down a villain, but I'm not sure how infuriating. How do the false tracks affect Survival checks? I can't determine how useful this is without knowing that. Laying down tracks in "a convincing manner" is not very informative in this regard.

I'm not sure how much use it would get in the hands of PCs, beyond the occasional novelty use. Nothing wrong with that, but novel tends to wear off eventually.

It's good you specified how much force goes into laying down the tracks, so there aren't impossibly perfect tracks set down in granite, for example.

I'd avoid using the term "unseen servant" in the description, as that will indicate the things laying down the tracks are the same as the spell. The magic item has a force that lays down the tracks with ability similar to what an unseen servant could do, but it isn't the same thing.

I'd like less ambiguity on the directions. The user could just pick a compass direction, and the tracks scatter off in the other seven; for as long as the tracks are still running, could have it where if the user changes orientation, the tracks reorient, too.

The Cool Factor/Mojo
The walking stick, the aesthetic, the track capturing, and the intriguing repurposing of unseen servant are all incredibly simple yet interesting. This is a low-level item where the design space can be a little difficult to work in, because you have to keep it simple and you have to show restraint. You did really well on this.

It's got its own flair to it. It might be too novel, but it's, well, likable, so much as an item can be. Someone would have fun with it.

The innovation with unseen servant is pretty cool. You stretch the bounds of the spell, but to a purpose that makes sense. And you showed a lot of wisdom not trying to tack anything else on or have the servants able to do anything else. Simplicity is a virtue.

Prose and Editing
Okay, invisible servant isn't a spell. You got it in the text, but not in the requirements. Argh. :)

Italicize, lowercase magic item names.

Put a comma in "1080". And a period after "15 ft".

Your writing is a good read, and that's saying something when it's mostly rules text. Again, simplicity, but you also carried a sophistication to it that really befits the item.

I also like the hinting of this being a halfling item without calling it a halfling item. But they'd enjoy it, as would mischievous gnomes.

Overall
Cool idea. Simple presentation and execution. Laser focused design. Fun effect and intriguing spin on the construction spell.

But glaring mechanical oversight, style missteps, and an item at risk of being a novelty at best and a homicide-inducing NPC toy at worst.

Shore up hard on your rules (and spell names) and edit rigorously going forward. You've got promise, though, and pulled off something cool here.

I am honored to have been allowed to provide feedback this year. I look forward to your entry for Round 2, Philip, and hope I see a map from you with as much sophistication and fun as this.

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.

It's really refreshing to see something this useful and flavorful but relatively simple make it to the top. This won about 85-90% of it's matchups for me and the ones it lost to are your peers. Nice work and good luck with next round.

Sovereign Court Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

While I voted for this quite a bit, it didn't really feel all that innovative to me.

The minor errors (described as a walking stick then referenced as the staff, and the invisible servent spell) were a bit disjointed for me. It feels like it needed at least one more editing pass.

Congrats on a simple and useful item though!

Good Luck!

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

Philip Tucker wrote:
Scattertracks

Congratulations Philip!

This was an early addition to my Keep list. I think it lacks a certain flair and showiness we've come to expect from superstar items so I am glad it took you all the way to the top. That said it has an simple and understated elegance that gives mojo to the writing. In writing that is probably a good thing to strive for, but for RPGSS you may have to throw lots of sparks just to show that you can.

Well done good luck on maps!

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

Philip Tucker wrote:
Scattertracks

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 — Ok, there are some mechanical question marks, and there are some missteps, etc. which keep this from being truly Superstar, but its a solid item with a solid idea, that was executed well enough that it deserves to be cleaned up and set to print/publication.

Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Congrats on making the top 32!

Yes, as others noted, your entry has some errors and could use some clarification in places, but overall you created an affordable, useful, quirky item that sounds like a lot of fun. I think you did a great job in showcasing scattertracks, in a streamlined, concise manner and many of the questions I could have had about this item were already answered in the text. Well done!

Best of luck in the next round!

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Phil! 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. First up...your item...the scattertracks...

Okay. The name. I'm not a fan. It's too nebulous as to what it is, even though it clearly tells us what it does. See my comments on some of the other Top 32 as far as naming goes.

Mojo. There's some moxie in this low cost item, and a spark of creativity.

Cinematic. You can certainly visualize the tracks going off in different directions as someone uses this item to fool pursuers.

Usefulness. Very limited. Very niche. Potential NPC item, but rarely going to see use by the PCs. Most would just sell the item for the coin and then buy something more useful.

Mechanics. It's mostly sound. There might be a questions about how much 20 lbs. of force could provide in terms of a convincing track to follow, though, especially if you're trying to mimic the footprint of a Large creature. Ideally, you should just discard all mention of the unseen servant in the descriptive text and just say the walking stick mimics the tracks of whatever creature it intends to emulate once you tap it against them...regardless of weight. That way, you're doing a spell-in-a-can effect. Besides, wondrous items get to bend the rules. They don't have to adhere exactly to the base spell's description or limitations. You get to define that yourself.

Polish. Ugh. Lots of missteps in the descriptive text. You really need to your homework to consolidate how to present game terms. Also, the invisible servant slip-up would've probably been deadly if the judges had chosen the Top 32 rather than the voting public. Coupled with the other problems on how to represent game terminology, it could have been taken as an indication that you're not ready yet.

Other than that, this item got you into the Top 32, and now it's all about seeing what you've got for us in Round 2.

My two cents,
--Neil

Paizo Employee Assistant Developer , Star Voter Season 6

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Hello, Philip, 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 scattertracks. 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: I just about said "ha!" out loud when I read this item, because it's a pretty simple yet clever twist on the track class ability (or just following footprints using the Survival skill, actually). This would be particularly useful in adventures where subterfuge and investigation takes precedent over brute force, and that's a direction we're very interested in right now.

Deeper look: This is mechanically pretty simple and accomplishes exactly what it should, so kudos there. There are quite a few little things that really make me twitch, though. Using the actual spell name in the running text is rather unimaginative, and capitalizing but not italicizing the item name in the beginning is a misstep. The huge thing is the getting the component spell name wrong, though. That's something that'll burn you hard going forward, and something that just looks really careless and sloppy to me as a developer, so be very careful of that in the future.

Measured feedback: You did a great job coming up with a useful little item that will open up lots of avenues to PCs looking to take non-traditional routes in adventures. You showed a bit of rules and design savvy in your description, but unfortunately and due to its simplicity, I don't think you've showed us your full capacity as a designer. Swing a little harder next time and I'll be really interested to see what you can do.

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

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

I confess I saw this several times and voted against it each time. It was just kinda underwhelming for me. I thought it was cute, but not something a player would actually want.

Having said that, I do see what voters responded to. It's a simple and coherent item that works in enough flavor to get some votes. Congratulations on pulling that off, it's hard to do!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9 aka electricjokecascade

Thank you, everyone, for your feedback. I'm 100% committed to bringing my A-game to future rounds, and your analysis, advice, and criticisms have been instrumental in helping me get in the right headspace. Cheers!

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

Congratulations on making it through the first round!

I didn't see this during voting, but you've presented something very unique here!

Good luck in the rest of the competition!

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