Banshee's Tongue

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

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka RainyDayNinja

Banshee's Tongue
Aura moderate necromancy and transmutation; CL 10th
Slot none; Price 34,320 gp; Weight 2 lbs.
This +2 thundering rapier hums with a constant low drone. The sound grants its wielder a +4 bonus on saving throws against sonic and language-dependent effects, but also a –5 penalty on Stealth checks, and on Perception checks involving hearing.

Three times per day as a swift action, the wielder can transform a banshee's tongue into a blade of semisolid sound. While in this form, the above penalties and the bonus to saving throws are doubled, and any attacks with the rapier deal sonic damage instead of piercing damage, but its properties are otherwise unchanged. This form lasts for one minute.

While a banshee's tongue is in its sonic form, the wielder can use it to counter sound-based attacks. Whenever a creature within the wielder's reach is targeted by, or included in the area of, a sonic or language-dependent effect, the wielder can spend an attack of opportunity to make an attack with the banshee's tongue, against an AC equal to the DC of the effect. If successful, that creature is unaffected by that effect.

In an area of magical silence, all of a banshee's tongue's magical effects are suppressed, and it is treated instead as a masterwork rapier.
Requirements Craft Magic Arms and Armor, blindness/deafness, sonic form, creator must have the well-versed class feature; Cost 17,320 gp

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

Go team 2013!

Dark Archive

This was an item I voted for almost every time I saw it, and I loved how you brought the various mechanics together into a unique item. Congratulations!

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

Congratulations, Joseph! Great to see you back in the roster!

I was originally worried when I saw another item with "banshee" in the name, especially since this one is so awesome. In my opinion sonic is an underutilized energy type, and this weapon masters it so elegantly that I'm surprised an item like this doesn't already exist. Way to carve out a niche for yourself!

I'm looking forward to seeing your map for round 2!

Dedicated Voter Season 9

This was the first good item I saw in the competition; I think it got an up-vote every time.

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

Congrats on making it into the Top 32 again! Having a blade made out of sound is a cool idea and countering sonic attacks is a nice mechanic. Always good to see more sonic-based items. Good luck in the rest of the competition!

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Great Job Joseph!
This was in my top 15.

Good luck in future rounds!

Marathon Voter Season 9

Congrat on making the top 32 again!

This is a good submission, and it shows your knowledge of the rules. I like how multiple effects of this sonic theme are explored, and it has effects in multiple aspects of the game, both in combat and out. That is impressive.

I however am not at all a fan of weapons that let you change all of your damage to elemental damage. Doubly so of things like sonic or force damage, as basicly nothing had DR to those.It just feels a little unbalanced, and I think it could be abused by power gamers. At three times a day for one minute apiece, this can likely cover most all of your combats in a day, basically ignoring all DR unless your fighting proteans or kaiju. I would have prefered some other clever sonic based effect like your others to fill its sonic form. Just my personal feelings on that trope for weapons.

That said, it is a good item with great secondary mechanics. I look forward to seeing your map entry.

Best of luck in all future rounds!

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

Nice job, Joseph, welcome back! Looking forward to round 2!

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

Welcome to the Top 32, Joseph! 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 banshee's tongue!

Functionality and Usefulness
This is an incredibly effective weapon. Possibly too much so.

The passive bonuses to sound-based saves are a nice touch. I appreciate this gets balanced out with Stealth and Perception penalties. (Also like that the whole sword is suppressed in silence. Shows you thought through the item's whole theme and what it means for the mechanics of it.)

It really feels like a bard sword even if there's nothing that really makes it better for bards than anyone else. It appeals to me, though.

Sonic damage is indeed a wide open niche, but that is largely by design. Sonic damage is very rarely resisted or reduced, making this incredibly potent. I think there's still room for it, and just deciding to play with sound effects within a sword already carves a niche for you.

Three uses a day at a minute each is rather significant. Altering it to a once per day, or usable for a set number of rounds per day, is the easiest way to get this back in line while maintaining what it is.

The Cool Factor/Mojo
You went to an interesting design space for this which I think ended up cool, overall. Countering sound-based effects with the sword is a quirky side ability, though I couldn't discern if, when you make the attack, if you're swiping it at your ally, the enemy, or waving it in the air to beat back the sound. Most of those options will make the PC look some degree of unhinged, which I think has me liking it more.

The added effects tie in so well, and the core ability is of course attention-grabbing. A sonic sword is going to be clamored over for good reason. The coolness of it just needs to be balanced carefully, or there's just no reason for a PC to grab anything else.

Prose and Editing
Specification on who the attack is made against to cancel a sonic/language-based effect targeting a party member would be good, as mentioned.

I feel like a "low drone" might not be the right description for a sword called banshee's tongue. Shifting sighs and groans? Low, hoarse creaking? Unintelligible whispers and muted cackling? Any of those I'd get, but low drone makes me think of an electric fan.

Your wording, formatting and style are all tight and your rules language is pretty spot-on.

You've got the chops, you've got the writing, you've got the rules, and you know how to put things together well. You're in a good spot to show off moving forward. I would like to see a little more work on imagery, but you do a remarkably good job with very little in that respect.

I am honored to have been allowed to provide feedback this year. I look forward to your entry for Round 2, Jacob, and expect to see a well-polished map that's got some crazy-cool design work going for it.

Congratulations again!

(P.S.--And welcome back. ;))

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

Psst, Victoria, this is Joseph, not a Jacob. ;)

Congrats, Joseph. I liked your shattered mirror a bit more than this one, but it's definitely got some neat affects. I think cinematic is a big buzzword for Superstar, and this definitely feels cinematic to me.

Like Victoria said, I like the way the penalties stack with the bonuses and the silence suppression shows smart designer thinking.

Good luck in Round 2!

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

You nailed it - as well should any repeat finalist - congratulations.

My, my, the Fu has dropped a notch on the belt - you finalists don't feed him like you used to ;)

Still, I'll look harder for the full review, I promise :P

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.

Banshee's Tongue

The Good: I like sonic damage, I like rapiers, put them together, and I grin like a cat, thus, well done for making me cat grin, that is not easy.

The Bad: I get the skill penalty reasons, but that drawback somewhat hurts item viability to certain classes/concepts/builds. Also being rendered inert in areas of silence would have been fine if not for the other drawback, but both at the same time hurt a bit.

The Ugly: Sonic is already potent as little resists it, having sonic damage and the ability to stack all normal weapon bonuses from feats and what not makes it deadly. As a balance I would if I were reviewing this to publish through TFPG suggest that because it is semi-solid bonus damage from physical stats does not apply in sound blade from.

Sovereign Court Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I have to admit, I think this one is way too strong. It is a +3 weapon that is slightly more expensive than a +4 weapon. It does have some drawbacks, but overall I don't think they make up for the sheer power. Basically for 3 combats a day you can completely ignore DR (even epic or /-) unless the opponent happens to have sonic resistance (incredibly unlikely).

There is a reason the sonic damage enchant only hits on a crit, and sonic damage spells tend to due quite a lot less damage than other spells.

That said, there are some great choices here. The name is very evocative and the negation completely in an area of silence makes it much more interesting and fits the description and flavor nicely.

Congrats and Best of Luck moving forward.

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 (again!). I like the thoughtful touches of how a sonic weapon works, but was concerned with transforming into all sonic damage as others have pointed out. I think to balance that I'd reduce the duration to 1 round per activation or only once per day for a minute.

Also, while the name is evocative, and banshee certainly has a strong sonic connotation, it also suggests death effects and undead, which this weapon doesn't have. Not sure I like the mix of name and abilities here therefore. (though off the top of my head I don't have a better idea).

Scarab Sages Assistant Developer , Star Voter Season 6

Hello, Joseph, 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 banshee's tongue. 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 was not expecting a magic rapier when I read this item's title. I appreciate that this riffs a bit off flame tongue, but because you're using a monster's name in the title, I'd personally have liked to see some sort of subtle indicator that this is a weapon. To me, blade of the banshee or something similar might have been preferable.

Beyond the name, I think you've done a great job taking the concept of the thundering special ability and molding it into a cool concept for a specific magic weapon.

Deeper look: Personally, I'd have liked to see this thematically tied a little closer to banshees, perhaps incorporating some sort of fear effect, but with as powerful as this item is I can see why you didn't. Speaking of power, I think you've got to keep in mind that sonic energy is still a type that many creatures don't resist, and so to counteract that I'd change your 3/day ability to a 1/day. Otherwise, your mechanics here are quite good -- except I'm not convinced about the choice to require spending an attack of opportunity (and then actually needing to make an attack) to counteract a sonic or language-dependent effect. To maximize this item's utility, I'd make it a swift action and a Reflex save to divert the effect.

Measured feedback: OK, I can no longer restrain myself -- I have to make the Star Wars connection. This feels like a rapier that you can turn into a version of a lightsaber, and that's super cool. I can even imagine the sound effects involved, and it makes me itch for December. Anyway, digression aside, fantastic job with a cool concept here. My biggest suggestion is to simply focus closer in on your design themes, and turn a careful eye toward balance. The big stuff -- concepts, usability, versatility -- you've got down. I'm excited to see what you come up with in subsequent rounds.

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

Paizo Employee Organized Play Line Developer , Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Congrats on making it to round two!

I thought your item was really well designed. The concept is tight and your descriptions were concise. The item feels... lush, I suppose.

I love the down sides you added in, as they fit with the theme incredibly well. The ability to deal sonic damage is cool, but my favourite part is the last ability. Just the thought of countering sonic effects with a magic humming blade is awesome (although, admittedly, I doubt I'd use it much).

I agree with one of the other reviews that the name could use some work. I like that you tie it to the banshee, and I see why you could've chosen the word tongue, but I think you could have found a better second word for a title. Something that conveys your item better and sounds cooler. (The title makes me imagine a ridiculously long preserved tongue thats humming as I try to... scare people with it? It doesn't really make me think of fighting).

Anyways, I really like your item.

Good luck in the map round!

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Joseph! Welcome 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...banshee's tongue...which I notice appears to be a theme this year with "banshee" items...

Okay. On the surface, the name seems a bit odd. Banshees are incorporeal, so a banshee's tongue sounds a little weird, but clearly it's not meant to be taken literally. You're using it more as a name someone has given a weapon. And, like a handful of other competitors, I think you've fallen into the pitfall of creating a great name for a unique, standalone item (probably with a lot of rich history in some campaign world). But, as the name for a magic weapon that wizards around the world should be able to mass-produce, it doesn't really work. Will each of these rapiers be called banshee's tongue? It wouldn't seem so. But if you'd name it rapier of the banshee's tongue, that helps generalize it a bit more. It also goes a long way towards telling us in a list of magic weapons that it's a rapier. And, if I'm looking through that list for magic rapiers for my swashbuckler, that's going to jump out at me a lot easier than if you just call it banshee's tongue and I have to leap down to the descriptive text to figure out if it's a sword, a dagger, or an actual rapier.

Mojo. Now we're talking! This isn't your first dance. You know how to summon up the cool factor. A weapon that can take the form of solid sound? That already sounds magical. Clearly, with your prior RPG Superstar experience, you know the importance of tapping into elements like this which will instantly appeal to the reader (whether that's the judges or the voters). So, well done!

Cinematic. Yes. You can see (and hear!) some great "visuals" with this item. It's easy to picture it in use on the battlefield in your mind's eye. Even the stifling effect of silence temporarily stripping away its power can be envisioned. You pulled this off quite well.

Usefulness. Well, this is where you might've put a little too much hot sauce in the recipe. Sonic is a big deal in combat. It bypasses a lot of things that DR and hardness typically counter. So, this rapier is breaking new ground with the transformation of all its damage from piercing to sonic. You've got some other interesting utility built in here, too, with the ability to guard against language-dependent effects and sonic attacks. So, you're doing a lot of good things in terms of the abilities you've dreamed up. It's the execution that will be important, because you've set yourself up with a delicate balance to make sure it all works in a nice, neat package.

Mechanics. Okay. This is where things get a bit more suspect, but you also do some wise things here, too. Imposing the penalty on Perception and Stealth while the rapier is doing its thing makes sense. Drawing upon both language-dependent effects and sonic effects is wise, because there's already a precedent for making items (and spells) which put those things together. But the transformation of all the piercing damage over to sonic (including on iterative attacks) goes a bit too far, I think. And I'm not as much a fan of letting someone "attack" an incoming sonic effect's DC like it's an AC. That's because the scaling of attack bonuses for martial characters goes up much more quickly than their Will saves. The end result is that the rapier can wind up giving someone too good of a bonus on resisting sonic and language-dependent effects with the attack of opportunity against it. This is a subtle element within the interplay of the statistical foundations of the game. So, while you're striving to break new ground, I'm not completely sold that this idea is completely thought through yet.

Polished. You've got the template down. That's no surprise since you've been in the competition multiple years. You know what you're doing on this front. I especially liked how you included the bard's well-versed class ability in the construction requirements, since it grants a bonus against sonic and language-dependent effects. That's smart thinking, but it does cause concerns for any bard archetypes which might swap that out for a different class ability, thereby precluding them from making such a rapier on their own. Even so, they can still buy one from the Old Magic Shoppe.

Other than that, this item might have some concerns in its execution, but it still has plenty of mojo, craftsmanship, and a very cool core idea. As you go forward in the competition, however, I think you need to improve on your mechanical considerations. Become a student of the game as well as a visionary designer. Regardless, I offer you my congratulations once again on making the Top 32, and I look forward to seeing what you've got for us in Round 2.

My two cents,

Sovereign Court Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Banshee's tongue haiku!

Sonic damage poke!
Protects you, but it is loud.
Balanced by silence!

Voted this, every time! Nothing about it I didn't like ^.^

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

I love the name for this item, though it feels like a specific weapon's name.

I find the abilities way too situational, but where they are employed, perhaps overpowered. Everything fits well on theme, and cutting sounds with an AC=DC is mechanically innovative (though feels less suitable for less focused sounds like auras or AoE's - are you waving your soundsabre in front of your friend to overcome the harpy's cry) but it doesn't really excite me. The drawback in areas of silence is a nice touch.

Still, as people have said, you have been here before. Congratulations Joseph.

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

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Maybe this post won't mean much since I'm his brother, but am I the only one who finds it weird that people are getting hung up on sonic damage as a means of bypassing DR? A +3 adamantine rapier would also bypass all the most common types of DR, it sort of "trades" the ability to bypass alignment DR for the ability to bypass hardness (and the alignment DR can be overcome with a 300gp oil), it's more accurate and therefore actually deals more damage over the course of the character's career than a +2 thundering rapier would, and does it all for thousands less gold and without eating swift actions and for any number of encounters per day.

I agree with the point about attacking a spell's save DC, but I'm not yet convinced that the concern for bypassing DR stands up to scrutiny.

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.

Kellog's back in the saddle. I saw this a bunch and voted it up maybe 80-85% of the time. I liked the design space t played with but it felt like rapier was the wrong weapon for it to me. I get why you wanted a piercing weapon and if I change it into a crossbow and make it make sonic arrows I somehow like it more... Still not at all surprised to see this as a contender. Good luck in the next round.

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

Joseph Kellogg wrote:
Banshee's Tongue

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 — Neat enough, but magic weapons that are mostly about their "# times per day power" makes me think of a fighter with a bag of holding that pulls "that perfect thing out" for the one or two fights and then stows it till the next day. Requiring the well-versed class feature seems unnecessary too.

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

Joseph Kellogg wrote:
Banshee's Tongue

Congratulations Joseph and Welcome back!

I should have guessed this was a Kellogg, but at list I didn't pin it on a Wasco! ;) My only critique stems from burying the lead. Skill & saving throw bonuses are not as interesting as the rest of this item, but I dutifully spent the whole 60 seconds reading and this indeed made it onto my keeper list. A "brilliant energy" weapon that isn't brilliant light is, well, brilliant. Parrying a sound effect & useless in silence are also brilliant. Eliciting Irish X-men lore also helped. Well done.

Good luck on what I presume is your last R2 & R3 and first but final R4 & R5 attempts at RPGSS. :)

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

I share other's concern about the power of a sonic weapon, but the visuals are cool.

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

Congratulations on making the Top 36! This item was a tough call for me. Thought you did a great job balancing it out with the skill penalties, but still worried that 3 times a day might have been too much. Overall though, a really interesting weapon that I can see myself wanting to buy.

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

Welcome back to the Top 32, Joseph! Here’s a few of my thoughts on the banshee’s tongue:

  • The name fits the theme, but it doesn’t settle well with me. I keep thinking about undead tongues going places I don’t want them.
  • You’ve given some thought to how the effects of this item play out. The wielder gets some thematic bonuses and thematic penalties. Very nice.
  • Ooh, a sonic sword. I like that. Not many creatures are resistant to it, you can only abuse that for three minutes a day, and at 34,320gp, you should see some heavy influence of the combat with the item. This works just fine.
  • I’m somewhat hesitant to take one of the useful things a bard can do and give it to a character via a sword. It works a little differently though, and that difference is that the wielder slices the offending sound out of the air! Who even plays a vanilla bard anymore anyways?
  • The wielder has to conveniently have the sword already in sonic form to use the ability though, which means there’s a good chance one of the neatest things about this item won’t get used all that much.
  • Suppressing the sword in an area of silence is a thematic and sensible drawback that reinforces the flavor of the item in a way that’s hard for a player to argue about.
  • An antagonist with one of these would be fun for the GM to run, and I would even love to have a player be clever enough to try to cast a silence to disarm the enemy. I love seeing my players think outside the box when presented with unique sensory details, and this sword is certainly that. Players will likely want to use the item, and enough dex-based characters exist for this to make it into many groups.
You took a fun sensory cue and turned it into something that would be fun to see at the table. Good work, Joseph, and good luck in the next round!

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

So this probably is overpowered, and I swear I've seen a sonic sword in a sci-fi game somewhere, but...

This is pretty neat. It's a fine implementation of the idea, with just a little toning down. I do think the description of the sound isn't quite right for the name (or the name isn't quite right for the item), but it's otherwise an item I happily voted for.

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