Critique My Item Please!


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RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

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Love it or hate it, I want to know!

Rimemist Tetsubo
Aura moderate transmutation; CL 8th
Slot none; Price 22,320 gp; Weight 10 lbs.
Description
This +1 frost tetsubo glints with beads of frozen dew, while wisps of fog waft around the handle. As a swift action, the wielder can call on a rolling billow of chilling fog to transform her into a gaseous form as the spell for up to 5 rounds each day. These rounds need not be consecutive.

Ice clings to a rimemist tetsubo as it leaves gaseous form, and the next successful attack deals an extra 1d4 cold damage as ice shards break from it.

The wielder of a rimemist tetsubo may suspend a gaseous form spell affecting her as a swift action, solidifying her corporeal form for 1 round. These rounds still count against the duration of the spell.

Construction
Requirements Craft Magic Arms and Armor, gaseous form, chill metal or ice storm; Cost 11,320 gp

Star Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Omnitricks wrote:


Shield of Slick Escapades

I think this item would benefit from having a short statement about what happens when the wielder collides with a target. Even if it's just "may attempt a bull rush blah blah", it would only serve to strengthen its theme.

As a small formatting nitpick, you don't have commas in the price/cost.

Grand Lodge Marathon Voter Season 9

Gamerskum wrote:

This year I tried to be more descriptive since last year the critique was my ring was too plain and not eye catching.

Ichaival, The Bow of Ydalir
Aura Moderate Transmutation; CL 12th
Slot Weapon; Price 51,600 gp; Weight 5 lbs.
Description
A Crafting collaboration by the Shaman and Wizards of the Tribes for Ydalir Álfrvinr. A mythic figure and ally of the Snowcaster Tribes in the north of Golarion Ydalir was an ancient King of the Land of the Linnorm Kings. This Adaptive Composite Longbow +2 is made from the Laminated Talons of the Fjord linnorm Fraenir , ice troll sinew, Irrisen Witch-Tree wood layered with frost giant bone, and Inlaid with cold iron glyphs and runes. Due to the magic imbued into the ice troll sinew this weapon adapts itself to the strength of its wielder and the shamanic magic taping into the spirits of the Dragons and Land in which it was made empower the arrows to strike as if one size category larger.
Construction
Requirements Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Warp wood, Bull's Strength, Gravity Bow, Righteous Might or Giant Form I Cost 25800 gp

Well, the formatting is probably a big reason you went out so early. There is no bolding or italics, extraneous capitalization everywhere, and a few misspellings (taped vs. tapped, for example).

Beyond that, this item is thoroughly uninteresting. Over 100 words of origin and physical description, and the only power it has beyond being a +2 adaptive is gravity bow. You've also grossly overpriced it. Gravity bow increases average damage by 1, but does not increase the attack roll. This makes it concretely worse than just a +3 bow, but it costs 33,000 more. Gravity bow is also just a boring effect, all it does is change the die rolled.

The spell requirements make no sense. Gravity bow is the only spell that this bow should require.

Reading this entry demands significant attention just to find out it does nothing of note.

Star Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Tyler Cowart wrote:

Love it or hate it, I want to know!

Rimemist Tetsubo

Loved it, but wish it was a little "more".

It has a neat gameplay dynamic, but an extra 1d4 damage doesn't make me want to opt for the gaseous form + resolidify + strike cycle. Perhaps instead of damage, you could have done something like having the icicles impale and do bleed damage (similar to the Blackthorn Cudgel, I believe- which I thought was a well-written example).There are things it could have done other than damage that would make the dynamic more appealing.

Again though, I liked the concept behind what it does and how it works. It shows good narrative sense and you were able to convey a semi-complex idea in fewer words.

Star Voter Season 9

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Into the fray I throw the Rogueblade. I realize now that the pricing is wrong (masterwork is not doubled) but I would like honest opinions regarding the rest of it. Thanks all and Go Top 32!!

Rogueblade
Aura moderate conjuration; CL 9th
Slot none; Price 9,560 gp; Weight 2 lbs.
Description
It is difficult to see the swirling smoke pattern etched into this blackened +2 short sword however once its special powers are revealed it is obvious that this is a weapon designed to appeal to those with a roguish bent. When the pommel ring is unscrewed and the wielder peers inside they see the inky blackness and seemingly endless depths of a bag of holding . Smaller than the smallest of known magical bags, , this shadowy blade’s extradimensional space can hold 50 lbs. and measures at only 10 cubic ft. in volume. If the item can fit into the one and a half inch opening where the pommel ring normally resides then it can be placed in the sword. Common items include lock picks, potions, pitons, silken rope and other tools of thievery. Items placed in the rogueblade can be retrieved as a full round action, rather than the standard action normally attributed to bags of holding. The pommel ring is designed to have rope tied to it and in a pinch the peculiar curve of the swords crosspiece allows the rogueblade to be used as a grappling hook. The weapon will not reflect light due to the tempering process used on the blade which creates its blackened luster.
Construction
Requirements Craft Magic Arms and Armor, secret chest; Cost 4,780 gp

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

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By popular request...okay, by Nykidemus' request... the Courtesan's Locket is next up.

CripDyke's review of Nykidemus' submission: Courtesan's Locket:

Nykidemus wrote:


The formatting got hosed because ...[reasons]...

Courtesan's Locket
Aura moderate enchantment and divination; CL 9th
Slot neck; Price 10,000 gp; Weight .2 lbs.

Description
Originally designed by a famously jilted countess, the courtesan's locket has since been replicated by a variety of individuals and groups ranging from hostile diplomats to bored noble pranksters.

This gold filigree pendant has a teardrop shaped emerald at the center. The emerald twists open to reveal a reservoir of poison sufficient for 1 use per day. The poison loses potency after 24 hours outside the pendant.

When the poison is ingested, the target must make a DC 18 Will save or have their surface thoughts broadcast to the wearer of the amulet for 24 hours, up to a distance of 10 miles.

At any time while reading the poisoned target's thoughts, the wearer may speak one of the following command words to overwhelm the target with the associated emotion:

Lust - The target is compelled to rush to the person or object they most recently thought about and passionately kiss or caress that subject for 1d4 rounds.

Hatred – The target is compelled to verbally assault the person or object they most recently thought about for 1d4 rounds.

Guilt – The target is compelled to immediately confess to 1d4 wrongdoings. If they are aware of the presence of any people they have wronged, they must confess to those acts.

Using any of these options allows the target a DC 18 Will save to negate the effects. After the compulsive acts have been completed, or if the target saves, the mind reading effect ends.

Construction
Requirements
Craft Wondrous Item, Heighten Spell; Detect Thoughts, Unnatural Lust, Compel Hostility, Confess; Cost 5,000 gp

Before I start, I normally don't take into account text that wasn't submitted with your entry - because then I'm critiquing something that's not your actual entry and/or not critiquing your entry when I should. That's not productive for you.

In this case, I'll skip critique of formatting since you said your formatting got hosed. Note that if there were any mistakes in the original, since I'm skipping this I can't help you with any mistakes in that area.

=======

1. Name
Is the name so bad as to detract from the item?

Absolutely not. The name is simple, doesn't feel like you're trying too hard to give it a "D&D name" (as Noun of Verbing or Noun of the Modified Noun can both do), employs language that we flawed and biased contemporary speakers of english more readily associate with a monarchic, less technological past that suits many Pathfinder settings...

...yep, far from a bad name. No points for the name itself, this is just whether the name detracts. However, note the name will come up more than once in the analysis below. We haven't read far enough to really judge the name yet on things like how it evokes (or doesn't) your theme (if it exists).

For now, all we can say is you've given yourself a good opportunity for theme-building since you're using words that aren't in the title of must-have spells or the names of iconic monsters or the over-used descriptions of fantasy authors.

That means that people aren't immediately distracted by "courtesan" or "locket" with writing <i>other people did</i>. You aren't compelled to duplicate the effects of a spell or suffer from the disappointment of people who thought your title implied you would.

Nope, you've given your item the chance to have not only a good theme, but also to be judged entirely on your creativity, not others' expectations of an item or their feelings about someone else's spell, item, or trope.

We'll see how well you've done later.

2. Glance top to bottom
Glance at the formatting to see if the entry pays enough attention to what Paizo wants that this item isn't throw-away worthy. Maybe glance at a couple of other things that seem like DQs to me - a CL of 21+, a cost of 200,001 gp or more (since that’s forbidden by Paizo), maybe something else I’m not thinking about right now.

Hmph. This isn't at all throw-away worthy, but when it comes time to judge "that extra mile" at the end, I'll have to do the reverse: dock you points for the lack of bolding on "description" "construction" "requirements" and "cost".

***Edited to add*** oh, yeah. I was just writing about how you said your formatting was hosed. Okay. Forget this, but the formatting is on you next year, I can't help.

3. Read for content
what does the item do? Is the item in an over-used design space?
Is the function understandable?

It provides a "poison" that allows you to read a subjects mind for 24 hours or until you use one of the rider effects. The rider effects are all emotion spell effects, so you're reading a mind and playing with that mind's emotions.

The maximum number of minds you could ever be reading at once with this item is 3. Hmmm. I'll have to think about that. I'd prefer if it was a max of one at a time.

4. Read for crunch
Is the crunch understandable?
Is it complicated?
Does it use effects that will be a pain around the gaming table?
Is it overpowered comes into play here if it would be a bad item regardless of price. Otherwise it's an underpricing issue. This doesn't mean that the item has to be worth more than 200,000 gp. An item can be overpowered if its fair market value is only 3,000 -5000 gp if the only characters who would ever want to use it are first level characters (who can't afford it - so they have to be given it - so you see the problem).
NOTE: I don't have to particularly like the approach to the crunch that you chose, so long as it works.

Okay, most of the crunch is understandable. However, the crunch also falls down on the job.

How can both be true?

Well, let's contemplate lust for a moment, shall we?

Mmmmm, lust.

Okay, moving on: Your lust effect? It's pretty much exactly what is described by the spell unnatural lust in your construction requirements. Why don't you say that this is lust, as the spell unnatural lust? You're making me really, really wonder here. What FAQ or other weird detail of interpretation of the spell unnatural lust are you wanting to NOT apply?

Lust should be "as the spell" and hyperlinked to the spell.

Hatred (compel hostility): If the person last thought about is dead, is it sufficient to hike 10 miles to the gravesite and rant at the grave, or am I compelled to spend money to have a priest cast Speak With Dead?

If the person last thought about is overseas, must I immediately commandeer the fastest ship in the harbor, or is it okay if I wait 6 months for the hated person to come home and just berate them then?

As written, this just isn't thought through. Perhaps, "if the person is known to be unavailable (including by having died) a failed save results in immediate ranting to no one in particular about the object of hatred for 1d4 rounds. If the person might be nearby, a failed save results up to one full minute of searching. If the person is found within the minute, 1d4 rounds of ranting occurs beginning at that time, though the rounds of searching + the rounds of ranting cannot exceed 10 total. If the person is present with the courtesan's victim, a failed save forces 1d4 rounds of immediate ranting directed at the person. If the person attempts to flee, the victim must follow to maintain the rant for as long as the rant lasts."

Dang that's a heck of a lot of words, but you're making up your own spell effect, so getting it right requires contemplating all the possibilities. You can tighten it up by getting rid of some things. Maybe it just is 1d4 rounds of ranting whether the object of hatred is alive or dead, present or absent. You can choose how you wish to deal with these possibilities, but as currently written you haven't really dealt with them.

Heck, this can apply to an "object". How, precisely, does one "verbally assault" an object?

I really, really don't get that. I can rant about an object, but I can't actually verbally assault the object. Complete description fail. I honestly wouldn't know how to rule on this aspect of the crunch.

Compel hostility is a viable choice for construction requirements, but with this multi-function item by not choosing a spell that already does what you want, you put a burden on yourself to think about this hatred effect as thoroughly as if you were creating a spell just to cause this one hatred effect. In fact, it would probably be a good idea to do a whole write up of that spell, because doing that separately would help you figure out what you do and don't need to accomplish to get good crunch.

Now, you can't reference your new spell in the construction requirements, but you'll know what you need to do to spell out the effects of your item, won't you? I mean, seriously, if you were creating a spell to do that Hatred effect, you wouldn't consider your description of the hatred effect to be sufficient to make up the whole body of the spell's text, would you? Of course not. So this is not an adequate description of hatred in your item - unless and until you can hyperlink an effect hatred is supposed to duplicate.

Guilt
So your guilt bit is built around the inquisitor spell confess but doesn't operate in the same way. Would you build a spell from scratch to create your guilt effect and use your description here as the full text of the spell's body?

no, of course not. So you have development work to do here, as well.

First, I just want to note that all the spells you use as construction requirements are short range.

Although this is a wondrous item and not a wand or potion, using nothing but close range spells to create an item that reads every thought at a range of 10 freaking miles????

No. Just no. The range should probably be shortened anyway (though I will discuss ways to justify an increased range below) because the emotions of the item are all intimate emotions and 10 miles away simply doesn't fit with that. But even if there weren't reasons of theme and mood to shorten the range, you'd better find a thought-reading spell with a range of at least 1 mile if you want your magic item to have a range in miles. The fact that Detect Thoughts doesn't have a range of 1 mile or more is bad enough. The fact that it can't reach 100 feet for even a 20th level caster (and the CL on this is just less than half that, with a total range of 45') is just horrifyingly bad when you're trying to create a 10 mile range item.

As one example, what's with the bit about confessing sins committed against those present? Your text is:
"If they are aware of the presence of any people they have wronged, they must confess to those acts."

But surely if you've known anyone for a long time you've probably "wronged" that person any number of times. I have told my partner on the phone that the house was clean when it wasn't, then cleaned it up before she got home. That was a lie. i wronged her. But in the moment I was confident the house would be clean by the time it mattered, and I made sure I did that, and I didn't want to have a conversation about how I should prioritize my time.

What is one really expected to "confess" here? Moreover, although you start out by saying 1d4 sins, you never say how long that takes. I'm going to guess you intended it to be 1 sin per round for 1d4 rounds, but that's not what you say. If I committed a really big or hard-to-explain sin, do i sit there giving backstory for 2 hours so that people understand that this behavior that might not be sinful actually is, given the very special context?

Moreover, the sins against people present? Those aren't limited to 1d4 - or at least, they don't seem to be. You are changing the rules when you say, "If person of type X is present, then the effects aren't as previously stated: they are like this new thing." Why wouldn't that change not only the choice of sins to confess, but also the number?

I mean, I can think of reasons why it shouldn't, but the format of writing is too short to make me sure of anything. All you say is: First, the effect is this, but if X happens, the effect is different.

There's no limitation on how much different it is when in the presence of someone you've wronged. So inevitably what's going to happen is someone at some gaming table is going to point this out to the GM and make a stink over how this forces the victim to spend 72 hours confessing every sin against their mother they can even hazily remember. Then the GM (and the voter always fears they will be this GM when these types of problems crop up with an item) will have to rule and take personal responsibility for dashing the unreasonable expectations of this rules lawyer.

Again, the spirit of the item gives me good reason to rule on the crunch, but the situation is just no fun for that GM (and that GM might be me!) and can be prevented only by you, the designer.

So think through your item and prevent it.

It's really not that you're not clear about what you're saying, it's that there's too much you don't say. So many possibilities are left uncontemplated.

Take the time. Contemplate them. We're about to get into some things you've done really right, so don't get discouraged. Those things make me think that when you take the time to think things through you already have the skills you need to fix these problems and make a superstar item.

As a last bit, why does this item allow you to be monitoring the thoughts of 3 different people at the same time?

Remember: the potion is created 1x/day (not 24 hours after it's last been poured out.

The potion loses its effect 24 hours after being removed from the container.

So if it renews at dawn, I get up an hour before dawn (just to make sure) and rummage through my stuff to find an appropriate bottle, then pour out the potion.

15 or 16 hours later I slip the potion from the bottle into someone's drink.

1 minute later, I remove today's potion from the bottle and put that in someone else's drink.

10 hours later, at breakfast, I slip potion into the drink of a third person. The first 2 victims have more than 12 hours of thought-projecting left, each. The new victim will be going for 24 hours from breakfast, but for the first 12+ of that time I can hear 3 different victims all at once.

I always assume that an item works as the creator intended it to work, because look at the possibilities:
1) you wanted the item to do different things than I would want this item to do
2) most people would really prefer the item work the way I think is best, therefore I believe you really wanted it to work the way I think is best, but you simply don't have the skills to write what the item actually does in a way that equals what you want it to do.

The first is not an insult and can't reasonably even be interpreted as one.

The second really isn't *exactly* an insult - no one is required to play pathfinder and memorize its rules in order to get through life - but to a hell of a lot of people it sure sounds like one. Maybe I haven't said "you can't even learn" or "you'll never be good". And if you actually didn't want the item to do that, then it's even a factually correct description of the situation at hand.

But it feels yucky.

So I'm assuming that you carefully thought about this and you decided that listing to 3 people at a time was a good maximum, then engineered things that way.

This isn't something necessarily wrong with your crunch. But by being able to delay giving the dose for 24 hours AND THEN giving things a duration of 24 hours, a character who is worried about a particular event (royal conference, guild vote, whatever) can get up to 3 people at a time giving them multiple perspectives on the even and multiple possibilities to cause havoc at the event.

What happens, for instance, if two people experience Hatred for each other, under your effects, at the same time? Although the spell alone doesn't cause a physical fight, if you are feeling that emotion such that you just **have to** rant at the person...how would a good role-player reasonably respond to being ranted at back, when obviously you're the one who has the legitimate anger here, doesn't that horrible person realize?

you've costed this as a once/day item. But by "holding the charge" this is really more like a "3 times in 3 days, divided almost as much as you like" item. Anyone can tell you that 7 uses in a week is not the same as 1 use per day. Likewise the 3 times in 3 days, even though it's slightly more complicated than that.

The item isn't simply overpowered - it's not that there no character level and no campaign setting in which this item could find an appropriate and balanced home.

Thus we'll deal with that as an under-cost issue later. But the fix might actually be to change the crunch, not to change the price.

ooops - total postscript here. You've made this item a poison. This means that anyone immune to poisons is immune to this. This means all those special bonuses to poison saves that are lying around in the form of racial bonuses or items' bonuses all apply.

Is this really a poison? I don't think, as it currently stands, that you want this to be a poison at all.

That might change later, but really, think right now about why you chose "poison" instead of "potion" or "elixir" or even "brew". Did you mean to evoke all the crunch in every Pathfinder source that deals with poison?

If not, you shouldn't have chosen poison. I assume you did it for a reason, and that you intended it, but I won't actually come back to that until later when I discuss developing your theme.

5. Reading for creativity
Is this new?
Is it blindingly why-didn't-I-think-of-that simple in execution?
Does it utilize themes in such a way that different aspects of the entry all tie together well?

it's new enough. It doesn't strike me as blindingly creative. It's not off-the-wall, "how did someone get this idea" creative. But it's new.

The execution is not blindingly simple. It's simple enough that "how to use" issues shouldn't come up.

It doesn't evoke "why didn't I think of that?"

It's a bit of a swiss army knife, but the powers are related and you don't easily swap them out because you have to get someone to drink the stuff before you can use those powers. Swiss army knives are not items that wow me with creativity, and though this isn't an SAK, for the purposes of checking how much evidence of creativity we have in this item's creation, I can say that the way it works shows about the same level of creativity of a good SAK.

Ah, but utilizing themes????

here's where you start to climb the ladder...though hang on, there'll be some rough critique to help you make the most of this area where it seems your best talents lie.

What is the theme? Well, "courtesan" evokes intimacy, first and foremost, with high society and having many, many acquaintances and flirtatious, gossipy communication all evoked strongly, but less than intimacy itself. This item seems oddly to fail to do anything to take advantage of those things that are obviously attributes of the courtesan.

However, as we start going down our associations, right after public flirtations probably comes illicit affairs.

How do people respond to illicit affairs? Well, if you're a participant, first is the lust. After that, for a participant or someone betrayed, both anger and guilt would be common, perhaps the most common emotional responses.

You're really not getting the courtesan's main attributes here, but you do have a good, tight theme that revolves around illicit affairs. It was nice vision and nice creativity to get the theme this far.

The name isn't particularly on point, since the theme seems most closely related to illicit affairs and not to the courtesan's very public, very social, very flirtatious lifestyle (which may or may not include illicit affairs - maybe the courtesan likes honest, casual hook-ups with the unmarried? Or maybe the courtesan is married and both are swingers?). But even if the name isn't particularly on point, it's not far off point either, at least on the "courtesan" bit.

The description includes a perfect bit of language, "jilted". Even if there could be anger or guilt over an illicit affair without anyone trying to be a jerk, without anyone actively being spiteful, the undertones of revenge work very well for this item. Clearly you were thinking about illicit affairs and revenge. This theme isn't accidental, even if you don't focus on it as much as I'd like.

Then there's the selection of powers, and as noted these are where we first found the theme we're exploring. The selection of powers - often done without a theme with the them being built later to justify the particular choices - was clearly done with a theme in mind. Together they evoke this theme strongly and well.

The language you chose when writing your crunch will, with the best writers, still be evocative while not wandering from the path of explaining the rules of the item. However, all but the best writers struggle with this big time. Either they use purple prose throughout, which makes the crunch needlessly complex and confusing (I tend towards this error), or it simply doesn't occur to the designer that even when writing crunch you don't have to be boring and you shouldn't be forgetting about mood and rhythm in your writing.

I wouldn't put you with the best writers yet, but look at your guilt entry, that includes this language: "people they have wronged".

I've used "sinned" above. Coming from a Jewish background, i think of sin in the Jewish sense - missing the mark. It can be something serious or something minor. One can sin against God, but -unlike in Christianity- you can also sin against other people.

So any time you "miss the mark" by giving someone less than your best and/or less than that person deserved in a situation, you've sinned. I picked the word because I was just trying to be general - I didn't want to get too specific about what i assumed might be confessed by someone under this influence.

(in fact, that was the problem I was trying to explain, the language of the crunch doesn't have any good limits on which sins are too trivial to confess).

But this phrase, especially the verb form "to wrong" and how it manifests as "I have wronged" and "You have been wronged" while vague in the sense of severity actually evokes quite a specific mood.

The mood of this word is betrayal after sexual transgression. To really "wrong" someone doesn't absolutely require that the person knows they have been sexually betrayed, but the way the word is used strongly implies were talking about after the revelation has come out. Using it here in the guilt section implies the completion of this cycle. We're not expecting forgiveness, that's not what comes in the moment of confessing sexual betrayal. Although we **know** that the person deserves to know about our failure, we also know that our confession will cause that person pain.

And we confess anyway, because we want the relationship with that person to continue. Maybe we even want it to get better than it was before the sexual betrayal. But we aren't confessing because it will make the target of our betrayal happy, we're not confessing because it will make our betrayed one's life so much better. We kind of hope it will, in the long run, since if the relationship continues it's better it be honest. But the damage is immediate and guaranteed. At best, any benefit for that other person is a long way off.

And so the confession itself is frequently a selfish act.

>>In fact, that's how so many of us manage not to confess: we convince ourselves that it would be selfish and mean to confess...forgetting that it's also selfish to avoid our just punishments and it's also selfish to continue the illicit affair, which presumably wouldn't happen after confession, and it's also dishonest. For the record, selfish and honest is the right choice if the alternative is selfish and dishonest. Be honest in your relationships, everybody.<<

In fact, when discussing someone we have wronged, confessing to that person is how we complete the process of wronging that someone.

Oh, how deliciously cruel, spiteful, vengeful is this item! And what a perfect turn of phrase you've chosen to incorporate all these nuanced implications, "people they have wronged."

This is where you went really, really right.

Okay, so how do we take this item from "seems fresh, if not exactly truly 'new' or 'unique'" to something that really is new and unique?

How do we take the crunch from "yes, it's simple" in the sense of "i know the target has to ingest, then make a save, then blah, blah" to something fundamentally different: "This is simple AND intuitive AND yet I never thought of an item working like that - this is brilliantly, creatively simple!"

The answer to both of those is to refine the theme and take it more seriously.

Hang on tight, this might truly change how you think about your own item:

I like the name Courtesan's Locket. But it only evokes the theme with its tertiary associations as best. We now have to decide if we want to hold tight to the theme as we have it, and ditch the name Courtesan's Locket ... or if we want to take true advantage of the imagery in "courtesan," keep the name, and thereby obligate ourselves to change the theme.

I vote for changing the theme.

Why? Because your theme right now is "illicit affairs and their emotional consequences". This is all negative. Yes there are evil characters, but even more evil characters won't think of themselves as "bad". The theme as it is tightly groups the emotions you've chosen, but it really doesn't tell us enough about the rest of the item. Why is it a locket?

In fact, is it a locket? You've entirely failed to use any "locket-ness" anywhere in this item. It would be far better a "courtesan's vial" or "courtesan's ampule". Lockets don't hold liquid ad their thin sides don't really seem to afford any place to hold a liquid. And if it did allow some liquid in, it must be through a gem in the middle of the front of the locket, right? So the liquid would be contained in the front door of the locket? Where does that liquid go that doesn't prevent the locket from having the space to hold pictures and keepsakes when you actually open it on its hinge as one is supposed to do with a locket? This is really failing the locket-test.

Is a locket as jewelry somehow more connected to illicit affairs than other jewelry? No? Lockets might be more evocative of "emotion" than many other pieces of jewelry, but the emotions most easily evoked by the locket are love, separation, and loss. Since those aren't your emotion-powers, and since they don't easily conjure up "vengeful" which were speculating as a thematically appropriate motivation for using those powers ...
(even though the actual wielder needn't use them for those motivations, having that in the theme helps tell us why the original inventor created this item as it is)
...the "emotion" connection of lockets isn't presently of very much use to us either.

Does "illicit affair" tells us anything about what the range of the item's powers should be? Does "Illicit affair" answer our earlier question, "Should the liquid be a poison?" It makes it reasonable, but it doesn't provide and absolute answer. Also, I note that for a lot of low-level construction requirements, DC 18 is a pretty darn difficult save. Does "illicit affair" tell us why you're using such a difficult save when a lesser save would be appropriate?

What is our theme getting us, other than what we already have?

The answer is "not much".

That's why I want to broaden the theme, to really make use of "courtesan" in a way that helps us answer some of our unanswered questions and allows even the crunch to support our theme.

I take all this time because this is an item that I saw as not good enough to deserve the round of 32 but full of so much potential it's ridiculous.

I'm overtalking this. This feels a bit like an invasion, a taking of your baby. so i do it with reluctance, but it will be easier if I just rewrite the item and then talk a bit about why I did what I did. Ready?

Courtesan's Locket of Poisonous Whispers
Aura moderate enchantment and divination; CL 7th
Slot neck; Price 17,600 gp; Weight .2 lbs.

Description
Originally designed by a famously jilted countess later suspected of being the agent of a foreign power, the courtesan's locket of poisonous whispers has since been replicated by a variety of individuals and groups ranging from spies to diplomats to philandering-yet-jealous nobles.

This gold filigree pendant has a teardrop shaped aquamarine in its front's center. Most times the gem shines clear, light, and beautiful, but in other moments radiates nauseating, pale green. When first acquired, the locket bears no image. After enclosing an image or a bit of a humanoid, perhaps a lock of hair, the enclosed item disappears and that person becomes the object of the locket's powers.

The intimacy of the locket's connection permits the wearer to detect thoughts of the object at any range less than 10 miles if the object is on the same plane and one of the following: in the same building, in a location where the object has shared an intimate kiss with the bearer, in a location where the object was dosed with poison (see below), or in any case within 45 feet. Detecting thoughts this way requires full concentration, closed eyes, and reasonable quiet. If opened a miniature sculpture of light hovers between or above the locket's doors. If the object is in the locket's range, the image is so faithful that a DC 20 perception check allows any viewer to gain information about the object as the spell deathwatch. The object finds it hard to oppose the bearer, imposing a -5 circumstance penalty on the object during opposed skill checks between the two.

If the wearer whispers to the object's glowing figure words of faithfulness, lust, anger or guilt, the aquamarine immediately darkens to the hue of emerald venom and fills with distillate of that emotion. Held over a container and commanded, the gem releases a single dose of magical contact poison. The dose instantly loses potency if the locket's gem is filled with new poison, it otherwise lasts 1 week. The thick oil is nearly odorless, though hints of sweetness as long as it is potent, leaving traces of bile in the air when its magic is expended.

Used as lip lustre, the poison remains on the bearer's lips until the object's mouth is kissed as a full round action. Mind overcome by the kiss, the object must make a Fortitude save (DC 14). If the kiss is continued beyond a full round without the slightest interruption, the object must save again at the end of any second or third rounds. The results are the same no matter which save failed.

Used as massage oil, it loses potency if the first creature touched is not the object. After one full minute of massage, body relaxed, the object must make a will save (DC 14). The massage can be continued for up to 2 more minutes, forcing 1 save per minute if uninterrupted.

At any time before 24 hours has elapsed from dosing, while actively detecting thoughts, the locket can once cause the object to react according to its poisonous emotion. For lust, and anger, the bearer must choose a target of the emotion. Guilt may or may not have a target. When choosing a target of the emotion, the bearer must specify someone within line of effect and 45'.


  • Faithfulness: from the moment triggered, the object is unable to feel or even feign romantic love or desire towards anyone save the bearer. Those expecting love or desire from the object perceive the object's lack of these. This lasts the full remainder of the 24 hours.
  • Lust: The bearer chooses a target of lust. The object acts as if affected by unnatural lust toward the target, though for 1d4 rounds.
  • Anger: The bearer chooses a target. The object rants in language as foul and spiteful as the object has ever used in life about the target. The object tries get or remain face to face with the target. This lasts for 1d4 rounds.
  • Guilt: The bearer confesses one sin per round for 1d4 rounds. The sins confessed are always sins actually committed, and sins of betrayal, faithlessness, sexual immorality, or undeserved violence. If a target is chosen, the sins confessed are sins which would pain the target to hear aloud. Previously revealed sins are not confessed. Sins that do not risk others' revising their view of the objects' character are not serious enough to deserve confession, though the object may choose the order of sins confessed hoping the duration will expire.

If the compulsive actions would, on their own, be likely to cause the death, divorce, exile or imprisonment of the object or the object's spouse, a final desperate save may be attempted. The DC is 24, with a bonus of +2 if the object's original failed save came in the second round/minute or +4 if it came in the third. The object uses Fortitude or Will, whichever save was not previously failed.

For all saves the poison is considered mind affecting [emotion] magic.

When the locket is worn and has no object, the bearer gains a +3 profane bonus on diplomacy checks made while overtly flirting with the target. This bonus never applies to more than one person at a time. To purge the object, one must whisper to the open locket a vow never to see the object again immediately before sleeping 8 hours with the locket under a pillow. This vow need not be kept.

Construction
Requirements
Craft Wondrous Item, deathwatch, detect thoughts, minor image, suggestion, unnatural lust; Cost 8,800 gp

========
So, can you believe we're still on element 5, tying things together with creativity?

I won't explain all my choices, and I haven't counted words (though I'm sure it's too long), so there's a lot for you to think about and edit or play with.

But let me talk just a little bit about some of the things I chose.

Although courtesans aren't always engaged in vicious, backstabbing affairs, and although I still haven't managed to make the locket do anything at large parties that are often the heart of the courtesan's life, I've tried to incorporate a bit more courtesan flavor.

In the meantime, by alluding to the gossipy nature of the courtesan, I've given a good reason for us to use poison. Moreover, I've reduced the save DC but used a poison-like mechanic to force multiple saves over time. The save DC is the save DC of suggestion, which I've used as a good catch-all spell for inspiring behavior. Yet, dosing someone with the poison isn't easy. In order to get that chance to force multiple saves, you're probably going to have to do some good roleplaying.

The locket is now incorporated into the powers and the theme. Jealous spying, or even just the watchful eye of someone attuned to the dangers of high society, is an expected behavior of the courtesan class, and now it's facilitated by the locket using a non-magical locket's primary function: bearing an image of someone you wish to remember.

While the first paragraph could be cut entirely, look at the changes I made. The countess is suspected of being treacherous, but this isn't proven. Ah, and are these merely the poisonous whispers of the court which inspired her magic, or the horrible truths of someone who always had more goals than merely another sexual conquest? Which is more appropriate to the myth of the courtesan? Either! Both! ...note also that the diplomats no longer must be hostile, it's not evil for a diplomat to want to keep tabs on and even influence participants in a foreign government. It's expected - that's the job. The diplomat need not even be particularly sneaky or underhanded, provided one isn't using the Anger power. "Confess" can be used for noble purposes, no? Spies were added because they were clearly implied by your original. Lastly, the "bored nobles" aren't primary users anymore. No, the nobles who use this item are characterized by their sexual jealousy - a form of selfishness - not mere ennui. Those using this in service of a crown aren't necessarily evil, but let's be honest about the person who uses the powers of this locket for recreation.

In the second paragraph, the visual description joins the emotional theme. "Nauseating, pale green" - why would that be a color that flashed occasionally, but mostly hidden? For that matter, why is this no longer an emerald? Why is the color that most people see most of the time "clear, light, and beautiful"?

In who uses this and what it looks like we have two different elements both reinforcing the idea that this locket is an item with an attractive surface hiding ugly secrets. Possessive jealousy receives allusion in both paragraphs.

It's no longer possible to affect more than one person at a time with the locket. Detecting thoughts also requires blotting out the world for a time - and isn't that consistent with obsession (more than, say, love)? The range can be quite long in a large palace or if across the city from an object who is at home...where you have previously dosed the object. But the range is tied into the intimacy and emotional connections between bearer, object, and surroundings. In this emotion item, emotionally resonant places extend the range. Now your spy can do the 10-mile distant work you want to be able to do, but there's a thematic reason for allowing thoughts to be detected from so far away.

The deathwatch effect shows the complicated nature of the original creator: one can care for someone even as one is jealous or furious or envious or feeling betrayed. One can be in the habit of flitting from tryst to tryst like the woman of John Dunne's "Constant Lover" (and is she the "constant lover" or is the speaker? - that's the question that really makes that poem fun) and yet still fall in love...or at least develop a lasting obsession. The deathwatch hologram doesn't actually allow the watcher to spy on the object better. No. What it does is allow the bearer to moon over the object in private, and in moments of worry to reassure the bearer of health or to provide notice of the object's need. To moon over, to reassure oneself about, even to rescue the very object that the bearer is supposed to be callously using. Is this a violation of the theme, or granting the theme incredible depth and realism?

Dang, I so love this item.

Let's move on.

The poison once again evokes intimacy. In fact, it requires it. Despite being a contact poison by nature, to take control of the objects emotions you must engage in a full round - or more! - of passionate kissing, or massage the bare skin of your object for minutes. I left "bare skin" out of the massage description to save words and because as contact poison it already has to actually contact the skin, not the equipment.

How, exactly, are you going to get your object to smooch you ***before*** you gain emotional control? This item absolutely requires good role-play. Fortunately it also gives plenty of inspiration for good role play. The item does, also, make it a little easier: the opposed skill check bonus. This represents the fact that the object has not lost competence, and yet has this weak spot when it comes to opposing the bearer. Who among us hasn't failed to stand up to a mistake that a loved one was making? Though the crunch remains a mere numerical penalty, how the penalty is imposed in very particular circumstances implies all sorts of things that can inspire good role-play.

Now the poison. How often is court gossip described as "poisonous" or a courtesan's tongue as "venomous"? Oh, how that is so standard. But this item doesn't join a host of items exploring tired territory. No, this item takes hold of a stereotype that players will eagerly and easily believe and bends it to the creation of an item never seen before. The stereotype here is not old, it's not overdone, and certainly compared with these mechanics it's totally different.

Who hasn't spoken to themselves at night? Of course we all have. And though some of us just don't have it in us to think the worst of people, still sometimes people make the bad in themselves obvious enough that in our pain we complain about them in the dark. The locket, a piece of jewelry designed to keep your secrets, is now the place where you can whisper your complaints so that no one else will hear.

And yet, we don't pass out after our dark rants feeling closure - no. Talking in the dark lis an outlet, but it doesn't give us what we really want: the power to make things work out the way they SHOULD have worked out. To punish the person who hurts us, perhaps, but maybe also we just want the person back by our side -and loyal, this time?

With this locket, everything changes: our whispers in the dark, the words others call poisonous gossip, they aren't powerless anymore.

It isn't easy of course.

But we can use sex to overwhelm someone's will, bypassing it entirely, but the object may still be saved by unconscious strength and loyalty found in muscle and bone. We can tease the resistance out of the body, relaxing it until it is entirely subject to how we would manipulate it, and yet the object may still be saved by the mind if it stays clear, if its will is strong.

The dual nature of the saving throw presents great imagery, but also it presents interesting role-playing options. The temptation is to attack the weakest points of the object, though knowing that if we can manage it, it is better to overcome the strongest resistance first (if we wish to impose truly serious consequences later that might grant that second save).

The powers chosen by you were all kept, though I tried to think through the crunch a little more and make it less dependent on GM fiats later. But in addition to yours, I added Faithfulness.

Note how faithfulness is used in both literal and ironic ways. Is it faithfulness if the object no longer expresses love for a cherished spouse? Ah, but who cares what happens to the spouse who can see in the object's eyes the love lost? Me! The object clings to me! This is the locket's creator's twisted version of faithfulness, a faithfulness that is more about submitting to possessive jealousy than choosing to be honest and true and loyal - to anyone, really. Maybe others would dispense with the word faithfulness to name this power. Maybe it feels like we're being dishonest in the item description, when it is the characters who should be deceived, not the players.

Me? I still love how using "faithfulness" that replaces the love between spouses with estrangement and pain causes us to ask, "faithful to whom"? If the object can only find romance with the bearer, if the bearer doses the object day after day, will any rendezvous, any tryst truly be any evidence at all of "faithfulness" to the bearer? And yet, wouldn't a jealous courtesan be tempted to use this faithfulness poison, day after day, as often as possible?

The luck bonus isn't exactly an afterthought. I wanted to better incorporate the flirtatiously social. Noe that this is a profane bonus. Can you think of why this bonus would be considered profane even though neither the locket not the user are necessarily evil? yeah, I thought you could.

I also wanted that bonus to fail as soon as the locket acquires an object. That represents the failure of even the most experienced courtesan to flirt with the same skill when obsession takes hold. Nonetheless, if you have to cut something and you've already cut the first paragraph of fluff, axing this power may be the easiest way to reduce your word count a bit without sacrificing the core of the item. Yes, it does help flesh out the item by enabling the "hunting" that happens after the courtesan finally lets one object go. Yes it does call to an aspect of "courtesan" that is otherwise undeveloped in the item.

And if you want to use this item around your table or develop on your own a supplement of "magic items that tell stories" or some such that uses longer magic items that really focus on role-play potential ...well, then keep it all in.

But if you're going to submit to a publisher or to RPGSS, sometimes even a good idea has to go if it just makes the thing to darn long.

speaking of!

I'm really kind of exhausted here, so the next 2 elements get cursory attention.

6. Reading for audience appeal
The job is to design game products that gamers will buy. So a very legitimate question is, "Will gamers want to buy the supplement just to be able to use this item at their table?" If yes, that's a good reason to up vote.

I honestly think that you were hurt here. While women are a huge part of Pathfinder, it is still a majority men fan base. "Courtesan" is a femininely gendered word. I think it's a great word. I think it's got oodles of story waiting to come out of it.

But you are going to sacrifice part of your audience if you use femininely gendered imagery.

I am NOT saying don't use that imagery.

I AM saying that you should know your audience. Love the heck out of the items you create that are going to be seen by the fan base as feminine. There's a ton of psychological research about ethnical topics such as "priming" and "implicit bias" that tell us flatly: a huge number of men and boys that don't hold explicit biases, even ones that advocate for gender justice as best as they know how, will have an unconscious hesitation in various activities. Though obviously this particular contest hasn't been studied, the small time frame for voting, the frequent use of the criterion, "Would I use this item myself?" and other details of RPGSS put this contest squarely in the types of activities that are likely to be most affected by priming and implicit bias.

So you have a choice: when you know you have a good beginning - like this locket - and you know you're going to face implicit bias, you can either

1) save this idea for submission directly to a publisher auditioning talent who will see the talent without bias much easier because of the lack of time pressure and because the publisher has to be skilled at checking their own preferences so as to turn out books with broader appeal

OR
2) Love the hell out of the idea. Give it everything you've got for an entire weekend. Then set it aside. Then a month later pass it around for feedback. The time that has passed coupled with others' opinions will let you see it totally anew. Then love the hell out of the idea again. Don't let it go. Obsess over it. Take the idea with you. Check in on it often. Do a background check on the item and where it came from - could that spell really be its parent? What was its duration anyway?

Audience is a huge part of RPGSS. Although I really like where this item was headed, I suspect that audience factors don't help any version of a Courtesan's Locket.

If you want a good idea that isn't quite right for RPGSS to nonetheless represent you in RPGSS because you're proud of your work or for any other reason, your job isn't to compromise a good idea in order to please your audience. Your job is to polish your item so blindingly bright that the context around your item disappears and the voters have to look at your item on its own for a time.

The voters here are good folk, and more canny about the design process and other factors than you might expect from a random internet mob. They want to do the right thing. They want to pick the best items from the best designers. The effects of priming and implicit bias are simply an artifact of how the human brain works, it doesn't make anyone here ill-motivated. So if you polish up that item that isn't targeted to the most widely shared impulses of RPGSS voters, if you force them to really look at your item for a bit, they'll see the quality of your ideas and the quality and quantity of your work and vote accordingly. This is true whether you think you might push item outside easy reach of the most popular impulses by using feminine imagery, by designing for 15th + level characters, by riding the edge of what seems "fair play," or by any other design choice.

No, you're not designing to appeal to the broadest possible audience if you use feminine imagery ...but if you're a superstar, there isn't a regular poster here, and not a large percentage of silent voters, that won't recognize that in even the most outside-the-box item.

7. Reading for the joy of the word.
Did you write clearly?
I don't care about a typo or the misuse of a single piece of punctuation, but do you have errors or style choices that disrupt flow?
Do you have style choices that enhance the flow - are you creative with sentence structures and do you have the capacity to consider cadence when selecting from synonyms?
Does the mood of the writing reflect the mood of the item? Perhaps a droning monotonous rhythm would enhance certain items.
Have you thought through the theme of your item and made sure that every time you have an choice between two words or two phrases you select the one that furthers your theme and reinforces your imagery?
Do you add wondrous, unexpected depth under the clear surface, in which attentive readers may immerse themselves?
Most of the time this feedback will not focus on anything you've done wrong, but on moments where a designer misses an opportunity to do something amazing.

I'm pretty much entirely skipping this section. Things that might be said here somewhat overlap with using a consistent theme and making sure that different imagery and word choices develop and promote that them.

That was covered before.

Here I could talk about things like rhythm and cadence, but I'll let you work on that. I already talked about how to develop rhythm, cadence, and flow in another review. If you read all my reviews you'll get that advice anyway.

8. Rule checks:
is the item over-priced or underpriced?
What about caster level? Did you use 1st when Bane or Craft Wondrous Item has a higher level requirement?
Although the entire point of magic is to do things one could otherwise not do, nonetheless Pathfinder must have rules and I can't interpret every single conflict between an item and Pathfinder rules as simply a case of the magic of the item overcoming those rules.

Nothing was particularly bad here, certainly not bad enough to remember, though there may have been something.

I did disagree with the pricing. While I reduced some powers (like you can only listen to one mind at a time now, and there's no way you could ever manipulate the emotions of 2 different people at the same time), others that have a large and real monetary value stayed the same - plus I added deathwatch. By limiting the emotion to something you have to pick in advance, but by giving you 1 more emotion to choose from, I think that bit stayed the same or even got a little less powerful. When all that was done, I ended up changing the price by increasing it about 75%.

We weren't very close on pricing, but I doubt you would have gotten to many down votes for it. This item is different enough (whether your version or my version) that play testing might be necessary to get the best possible idea of the item's value.

There are reasons I think it was terribly undercoated: reading minds from 10 miles away for 24 hours at time kinda makes the "one charge a day" restriction irrelevant. Just an "always on" detect thoughts is pretty costly at CL 9.

9 * 2 * 2000 = 36,000 gp.

There are reasons that this is effectively worth less than that. That cost would be for an item that costs Detect Thoughts at will - which would mean you could change targets at a whim, etc.

Also, frankly, CL doesn't really add much value to detect thoughts. In that situation, you really want to think about bringing the CL down as much as you dare.

Craft Wondrous has a prerequisite of CL 3, but detect thoughts is a 2nd level spell so we couldn't go lower than that anyway. Using CL 3 we get:

3* 2* 2000 = 12,000 gp.

So this is the base cost of "always on" detect thoughts. Being able to go out to 10 miles when it's normally close range - that benefit is hard to calculate as a cost, but it's major. The fact that it's limited to close range unless certain other factors are present makes it even more fudge-y (but remember that you original item wasn't limited in that way). Given that you have to "attune" the item to one particular person and can't easily change it (It requires at least a night of sleep, and that's assuming you have someone else's body parts ready to go!) and that you must fully concentrate on that one task, entirely unable to do anything else while listening but that it's at will, etc. ...this really seems like a 8k - 12k power all on its own.

As a side note - it's hard to determine the exact value of an item, especially one that strays from the original functions and limitations of its source spells. But once I got in the ball park of 16-19k gp, I thought,

"How can I use the price to further my theme?"

Well, if you note, the price is 17,600.

One mile is 1,760 yards. Ten miles is 17,600.

I'm still not satisfied that I know where the 10 mile limit comes from - only you know that - but now, even if it was completely random and not something that logically fits the them, it at least ties in with something else in the item.

Note that if the item would be appropriately priced somewhere near 50,000 gp, I would have done the exact same thing. The price would be set at 52,800 - the number of feet in 10 miles. If I felt it was properly priced in some other range where it was really, really tough to to find a logical connection with 10 miles (which was the one thing that stood out for me as having no logical connection to the them, to the construction requirements, to anything) I would have changed the range as little as possible to get it work out in its new price range.

7 miles could be 36, 900 feet or 12, 320 yards. 12 miles, well, you get the idea.

My point here, is have everything tie in with something. Sometimes it's just the rule - you've used a spell in construction, and you're using that spell's range. But if it doesn't have an obvious connection, it's your job to create one.

No loose ends.

You will win RPGSS next year.

Do it.

9. The extra mile
This is all about making things easier for me as your reader.

First, about the bolding: I'm was going to dock you but then remembered that you said formatting got hosed (and implied I should ignore that). Okay. No points docked. I hope you remember to get the formatting just right when you submit for realzies, however.

Read this section in others' reviews. You didn't do much that really helped me out as a reader. By referencing specific spells for duplication of their effects and then hyperlinking, I've done a bit of work to try to help the reader, but there's probably more that could be done. I've just spent like 3.5 hours on this review already, so I'm not going to try to edit for that.

=================

Blah. I'm exhausted. Hope it was all useful and I never got too harsh.

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

So, my other reviews have taken about 2 hours, but then I went a bit longer on the Crossbow because it was one of 10 or so items in my top 32 that didn't make it through to either the top 32 or the alternates.

Then there's Nykidemus' item, the Courtesan's Locket. Although ultimately I felt if was middle-of the road, this wan't something that had received the best attention it could get and would never be better than middle of the road, this was an item with a really good spark in it, but a lot of things to examine if you really want to connect everything together.

Final count was just over 4 hours.

So...

I'm only going to do reviews for people who very specifically ask, and maybe not even all of you, depending on how many are interested. Lord CoSax is up next.

If you want me to do a review, I have things to do this weekend and the new year of law school starts on tuesday, so there's maybe 2-3 more reviews in me after Lord CoSax before anything else I have to say gets spread out over large amounts of time as I try to find time to do such things despite reading 30 - 100 cases a week.

Sovereign Court Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

2 people marked this as a favorite.

ALL ITEMS FROM PAGE 2 HAVE HAIKUS NOW!

At this point I will open the floor to anyone who would want me to expand further than just my first impression. If you want me to elaborate more and give you a more thorough critique, please request so over in the haiku thread.

Thanks.

Silver Crusade Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
CripDyke wrote:
I'm only going to do reviews for people who very specifically ask, and maybe not even all of you, depending on how many are interested. Lord CoSax is up next.

I would greatly appreciate some feedback on Chemist's Retort, please, although if you decide not to spend four hours of your time on the review, I won't be sad! (And I'm sure there will be others with priority.)

Star Voter Season 9

Thanks for the thoughts on my Murder Candle! I knew it was flawed and an SIAC. But I wanted to challenge myself by breaking a "rule".

Thank you all for your time!

Star Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

@CripDyke
I'd also like some feedback if you find the time. No pressure though- you've got a lot on your plate as-is.
I've posted my item on the first page of this thread, the Watch of Borrowed Time.

Dark Archive Star Voter Season 9

JJ Jordan wrote:
Lucas Servideo wrote:


Coin of Chance

I kept your item because it was simple and had a minor effect that was still interesting.

Formatting: aura should be faint enchantment, Weight should be followed by an EM dash (annoying little detail) instead of a dash.

I'm torn about the mechanics. Really, every party should have a character always holding this Coin of Chance because a 50% chance of a +1 bonus for 3 rounds is way better than a 50% chance of a -1 penalty for 1 round.

+1 bonuses on attacks and saving throws is useful all the way up to level 20. So even at level 20 we're flipping coins around...it just seems silly. BUT I could see a low level rogue or something flipping their lucky coin before each battle. Maybe a neat little character thing.

Not sure of how to improve it. Maybe if it only worked once per day?

Thank you very much for this, the how it worked was the biggest hurdle I had, I am still going to refine it.

You mention a neat character thing Two-Face from Batman was the inspiration for the Coin.

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8

CripDyke wrote:
edduardco wrote:
Bloodseeker Sword
AWESOME REVIEW

Thanks a lot for taking some much time reviewing my item, I really appreciate that.

The thorn/shard part now looks so obvious, at that time it just didn't occur to me.

I definitely will be able to come with a better item for the next year thanks to your feedback CripDyke.

Star Voter Season 9

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Also, I don't know if they have been covered already ( And this may not even be the right place for this...) but I wanted to give a shout out to a few items that I loved and who didn't make the Top 32 +,

I may have the names wrong, since I didn't keep a file:

The Roiling Cuirass
The Fey Bind Lantern*
The Nine Lives Cloak
Troll hide Shield (Yuck! But I loved the creativity!)
Axe of the Roaring Crowd
Clockwork Arrow
Snowfall
Swashbuckler's Moustache Wax (Loved this! Way outside the box!)*
Vudrani Fighting Rope
Windcaller's Edge
Trident of the Kraken Lord

*i saw my own item 8 times. I voted for these two over my own.

I loved these items and I wanted to let the designers know, that even though they may be disappointed, someone loved them. I can't wait to integrate them into my campaign.

Sovereign Court Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Wolin wrote:

Thanks for that feedback, Captain Phoenix (and Brigg and Dieben too; sorry for neglecting you earlier). I do sympathise that the name was maybe off-putting, but as I mentioned in my own critique, I thought that the fun factor was better than a more conventional name.

Thanks for your votes, and helping me pass all the culls!

No problem. Looking at my comment again I felt the need to clarify, so here goes:

I think that, if you went the other way, making the name more fun, you would have really shone. By this I mean a name where people are like: "woah, this YYY is a security blanket" rather than "this Security Blanket's a security blanket". I can't for the life of me think of what name would really work though.

Also, thou shalt not...

Star Voter Season 9

I was hoping somebody could review my item, its on page three. Its my first RPGSS submission and made the first two culls.

Thanks to anybody who can offer a critique.

Husk of Protective Parchment.

(I won't post full description again to save space.

Sovereign Court Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

I have started compiling my thoughts on stuff, but want to finish with my thoughts on the Top 32+4, before I get to stuff in this thread. Hopefully I'll finish the top 32+4 tomorrow and get the the others this weekend.

Thanks everyone for the feedback (even if you haven't given any yet).

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

Einhänder wrote:

Also, I don't know if they have been covered already...

Snowfall

... I can't wait to integrate them into my campaign...

That was a really nice thing to say, thank you for taking the time to post your feedback, it's really encouraging :)

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

Since you asked...

Zippykat wrote:

This was my first RPGSS entry and I'm anxious to figure out what I can improve on.

I can see a few mistakes off the bat, capitalized aura, all caps in format.

HUSK OF PROTECTIVE PARCHMENT
AURA: Normal Moderate Abjuration CL: 7th
SLOT: Armor PRICE: 47,320 gp WEIGHT: 20 lbs. when exhausted, Does not weigh anything with spells stored in the armor.
DESCRIPTION:
This set of hide armor looks normal aside from the four pearls sewn into the neckline. However, a wearer with arcane spell powers can store one spell per level up to 4th level, transforming this armor into what appears to be a shirt made of many pieces of parchments layered on top of each other. While the wearer has spells stored in the armor, the armor weighs nothing and has no chance of Arcane Spell Failure, though a Max Dex Bonus of +4 still applies.

The wearer may cast the stored spell as a standard action as a scroll which is taken off the armor. The wearer must be able to cast the stored spell and once it is cast, it is gone until replenished as per pearl of power. For each spell used, the armor loses one point of protection. So if you have used two of the four spells, the armor drops to +2 until replenished. Once all four spells are used, the armor reverts back to a masterwork hide shirt with all bonuses and penalties until the spells are replenished.

CONSTRUCTION
REQUIREMENTS: Craft Magic Arms & Armor, Mage Armor, Pearls of Power x4 (1st-4th level) COST: 23,820 gp

You've definitely got some template problems, which really put me off right off the bat. You mention the capitalized aura, but you also seem to have made up your own aura with "normal." Also, typically, Paizo magic items don't have other items (or special materials at all) as part of their construction. The spell should be lowercase and italicized.

You both hit and miss with imagery, I thought. I like the idea of the armor transforming, but the first thing I read is that it looks normal, which isn't very exciting and continues getting me off on the wrong foot.

I wasn't a fan of taking away the arcane spell failure. To me, it felt like you were trying to skirt rules that traditionally limit those abilities to arcane casters (or at least impose a feat tax or have specific class abilities).

Mostly, though, I just wanted more from it. It basically lets you store spells, which doesn't bring anything new. It's also far more valuable for higher-level casters -- since they have access to more spells and can replenish its uses -- which makes it harder to price accurately.

Namewise, I really like the use of "husk." I like evocative words and I think that was one.

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

CripDyke reviewing Lord CoSax, Belt of the Depths:

LordCoSaX wrote:


Belt of the Depths
Aura Moderate Transmutation; CL 7th
Slot Belt; Price 12,000 gp; Weight 1 lbs.
Description
This masterfully crafted belt emits a strong salty scent and is made of woven algae interlaced with golden merfolk hair. In guise of a buckle rests a large starfish-shaped piece of red coral.

While underwater, the wearer may break off one of the starfish's five limbs as a free action to activate the belt's powers for a period of two hours. At any time, the wearer may break off a second limb to end the effects prematurely. When the belt's powers are activated, the wearer is immediately granted the ability to breathe water as per the Water Breathing spell. One round later, he instantly starts sinking at a speed of 50 ft per round until he lands on a solid surface, such as a sunken ship wreck or the sea floor itself. Once on a solid surface, he is able to move about freely as if he were on land and carrying a light load. He, however, loses the ability to swim. If the wearer has to move over obstacles, he must use climb checks or acrobatics checks, although he ignores his armor check penalty. If he falls any distance, he lands harmlessly without injury. Finally, he may use any weapon without restrictions, ignoring the normal underwater combat penalties.

Like a true starfish, the Belt of the Depths has the ability to regenerate lost limbs, and does so at a rate of one limb per week. However, this regeneration is only possible as long as the starfish has at least one limb left. If all limbs are broken off , the belt loses all powers.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Items, Water Breathing, Freedom of Movement; Cost 6,000 gp

1. Name

Is the name so bad as to detract from the item?

No. But really, this is very nearly that bad. "Noun of the Noun" is formulaic.

Where in this belt are you setting up your theme?

Belts are a dime a dozen. It's not even a "girdle" or a "sash" or a whatever else. Just a belt. Can't hang a theme on that.

"Depths". Okay, that will get you something...but it's not a rare word. We use it for the deep underground, we use it for the bottom of the sea, one can even be "deep in a book".

This is a vague word on which to hang a theme. If you're doing theme building right, then the only reason you've chosen a vague word instead of a word more specific and evocative is because that's exactly the word you need because you plan to employ **all** the meanings of the word and even though the word has lots of synonyms, those synonyms share only one or a few meanings when you intend to use so many meanings of your vague theme-word that there simply is no other word it's possible to use that will cover all your thematic bases.

I'm expecting a water themed item, but I'll be disappointed in step 3 if you haven't started bringing in "depths of the earth" and "depths of knowledge/wisdom" and/or other meanings of the word. And if you don't hit the watery bits at all, then I'll really be disappointed in your choice of a theme word.

2. Glance top to bottom
Glance at the formatting to see if the entry pays enough attention to what Paizo wants that this item isn't throw-away worthy. Maybe glance at a couple of other things that seem like DQs to me - a CL of 21+, a cost of 200,001 gp or more (since that’s forbidden by Paizo), maybe something else I’m not thinking about right now.

Don't see anything that makes this throw-away worthy. A glance told me you're capitalizing aura information when you shouldn't, but you obviously can learn to use a template, so you'll learn that. It's nothing to cost you points.

3. Read for content
what does the item do? Is the item in an over-used design space?
Is the function understandable?

It grants water breathing + freedom of movement, while virtually guaranteeing the death of the character if used as intended.

Outside of crunch, there's not much to note the belt "doing". The Crossbow for instance, I wrote that it caused vines to grow over you ...and that provided the bonuses.

Here, it's just kinda the bonuses. Sure, you break off a starfish limb to de/activate it. Sure the starfish limbs slowly regrow.

But is that really "doing something" that other characters would notice? You are the one breaking the starfish, the belt doesn't do that. The growth occurs very slowly.

For an intents and purposes the belt doesn't "do" anything that isn't crunch.

That's too bad, because if the belt doesn't do anything, then there's no reason the belt couldn't be a Rod of the Depths or Ring of the Depths or Lacy Underwear of the Very Frilly Depths.

Okay, we've got crunch, but guess what:

The item itself may as well not even exist. If you used a wand to get this crunch, you'd still be wearing something to hold up your pants, right?

Remember that bit with the name about how "belt" wasn't strong enough to hold up a theme on its own?

We've sunk lower: "belt" is now entirely, utterly irrelevant. Before it wasn't evocative or them-invoking. But there might have been something that mandated it at least be around your waist.

Alas, not.

Why is this a magic item and not a spell? You obviously don't want the item.

4. Read for crunch
Is the crunch understandable?
Is it complicated?
Does it use effects that will be a pain around the gaming table?
Is it overpowered comes into play here if it would be a bad item regardless of price. Otherwise it's an underpricing issue. This doesn't mean that the item has to be worth more than 200,000 gp. An item can be overpowered if its fair market value is only 3,000 -5000 gp if the only characters who would ever want to use it are first level characters (who can't afford it - so they have to be given it - so you see the problem).
NOTE: I don't have to particularly like the approach to the crunch that you chose, so long as it works.

Your writing, including in the crunch areas is clear. It's not too complicated. The effects are not a pain to adjudicate around the table. It's not overpowered regardless of context (or any context in which it would still be useful, like something that only affects 1st level enemies but slays them with no save, so it's way too powerful to give to a first level character, but the 20th level character would never bother paying its price)

There are a few places where your crunch is weak, but you're doing much better than average here.

Using water breathing to keep your character alive under water may seem boring, but it's exactly what you should do. No point in spending a lot of extra words creating an effect that does the same thing as water breathing but hasn't been play tested to find corner cases or exploits, blah, blah, blah. This was the wise choice, a good choice. It's not exciting, but it's judicious design that has good, practical reasons behind it.

But the next bit is really, really problematic.

Quote:
instantly starts sinking at a speed of 50 ft per round until he lands on a solid surface

So, just a question here, if I'm invading your country and manage to affix an adamantine chain on to the bottom of your navy's flagship, can I then attach it to me and drag your flagship to the sea bottom at 50' per round? But somehow the magic downforce ends once I touch the deck of a sunken ship?

This spell says that I can drag that flagship down. This spell says that's exactly what would happen to your flagship if I chained myself to it. I'm really thinking that's a bad power for this spell to have.

Here's what I think you want:

Quote:
under the effects of the belt, its wearer loses buoyancy. Water resistance slows any fall to 50' per round, but if the character wishes to remain off the bottom buoyancy will not suffice.

If the character doesn't outweigh the flagship by several dozen tons, that flagship isn't going anywhere.

Also, the loss of buoyancy doesn't end when you touch a solid surface. It continues. That's going to be useful in a moment.

Quote:
as if he were on land and carrying a light load

Okay, now I'm curious. Does that mean that the water imposes a light load? Does that mean the water lightens heavy loads to light? (like, my equipment is buoyant even if I'm not?)

Right now I would have to rule that no matter your encumbrance you move as if you're carrying a light load. Even so, I'd probably disallow carrying more equipment than your max press. The rules here are weird, because yes, you can't pick it up, so of course one would assume you can't carry it. But if your friendly neighborhood storm giant picks up a 3 ton boulder and places it on your back, you can carry it, because no it's part of your load and you never had to get it off the ground.

Things like tha are weird. I don't like them. The text shouldn't allow them.

Suggestion for new crunch?

Quote:
he is able to move about freely as if he were on land. Heavy, medium or no encumbrance from armor worn or weight carried, has the same effect as light encumbrance.

There's a really big shift here. Because before you could move as if carrying a light load - period. If you're doing the staggering thing from carrying more than your max load, under your rule you (arguably, it's not entirely certain) still move as if lightly loaded.

With this it's also clear that spells and supernatural stuff that would cause you to suffer the effects of encumbrance aren't cancelled by this item.

Now, you're using freedom of movement, so maybe you want to cancel those things. But you didn't give a lot of clues that that was your intent in the text. In fact, you don't allow someone to jump over an obstacle, for instance, which sounds a lot like this isn't total freedom of movement. So there are reasons to make a crunch decision on the game effect either way.

I don't like that if you can't cover all corner cases in the crunch, make sure you're providing a rationale (like you lose buoyancy, but water still has frictional resistance, and your items haven't lost buoyancy). If it's explained to me that way, even if you don't provide a list of which spells are or aren't canceled, I'd figure it out.

Right now I have neither a comprehensive crunch that covers all the bases or any understanding of what's actually happening to me, non-crunch wise, that would give a GM a basis on which to make sound decisions.

Some items are going to be playing in areas where the crunch can't possibly consider all corner cases. In that case, it's much more word-efficient to give people a good idea of the practical effects that are only described vaguely by the crunch. If you're not sure how you would describe some weird magical effect in practical terms, cuz there's no good every-day experience that we can use as a basis of comparison, then spend the time on good, comprehensive crunch, even if it's long.

Right now, you don't really have either. Needs more/better.

It's not that what you've got is unclear. It's that you haven't considered everything.

On that note,

Quote:
He, however, loses the ability to swim. If the wearer has to move over obstacles, he must use climb checks or acrobatics checks,

Really loses the ability to swim, or lost buoyancy, so if the character used levitation swimming motions with arms and legs would still propel the character through the water?

See what I mean here? You're just giving the mechanical effect in pure, undescribed, completely not grounded in an experience I can relate to crunch. Why do I lose the ability to swim?

Have I forgotten how? Am I deluded in to thinking I'm on dry land? Does water no longer respond to my touch? What?

And then this thing about obstacles. I must use climb checks or acrobatics checks? Levitation no longer works. Fly no longer works? Spider limb grants a climb speed - do I still need to make a check?

And why the hell can't I jump?

Stop telling people what their options are - because somebody is going to think of an option you didn't, like jumping. Remember when I said you haven't covered all the cases? yeah, this approach is just opening a can of worms. You probably just forgot the jump skill. But since I don't know what it is that's complicating my movement (like why will I never sink again after the first time I touch a solid surface? Why, if I sink down to the sea floor initially, when I walk around and find a rift that goes deeper, can't I jump off the edge of the cliff and sink again?)

What's going on here is you're simultaneously providing too much and too little.

By specifying which skills I have to use, and saying that I **must** use one of those skills, it clearly prohibits me from jumping or casting a spell or anything else. But I don't think you meant that at all. You canceled the swim skill, and then you wanted to give examples of how normal movement would still occur. But if you give a list of things I can do - even if you don't use the word "must", which you did - that strongly implies that I literally can't do anything else. When you use the word "must" you merely confirm this interpretation.

In fact, it's a bit bizarre that you bother canceling the swim skill. If you must use climb or acrobatics, then obviously you can't swim because swim isn't on that list.

We talk about fluff as if it's something completely apart from crunch. And in practice we can pretty consistently identify the things most people consider fluff from the things most people would call crunch. But that doesn't mean that mechanics don't appear in fluff form.

"Losing buoyancy" don't have any specific rule implementation or numerical modifiers to apply, but it tells you quite a bit about exactly what the character can and can't do. You don't have bouyoancy in the air at the surface which makes it rather impossible to swim as we understand it. You don't even have to say the swim skill is canceled. It's still there, everyone knows it. But it's not going to do you any good unless and until you find a way to keep yourself at consistent depth without resting bodily on something.

Telling someone how, and what's happening isn't a waste of space. It's not that the only reason to do that is if you wanna go purple on that bad prose. The imagery adds cool, sure, but if you're doing it right, the imagery already tells you lots of things about how a power/ability works mechanically. Given that, many corner cases and may table fights are eliminated.

if you were really methodical, and you were thinking about absolutely every possibility - and not forgetting about dealing with things like the Jump skill - then, sure, you could probably do the crunch without the description.

But that's not working for you right now. Why not put some thought into what the character would experience, what the character would feel? The right description of what's happening would make a lot of your lists unnecessary, ...and then you wouldn't even be taking the chance of leaving something important off the list.

Quote:
Finally, he may use any weapon without restrictions,

I can throw darts? Fire a bow?

Quote:
If he falls any distance, he lands harmlessly without injury

Wait, you can still fall? Oh, but you used the word "sink" earlier with the 50' /round figure. So you don't sink at 50' per round any more, but you do fall. I can jump off that cliff after all!

And you know what's really cool - I fall just as fast as I do in air, so I can shoot through thousands of feet in a few seconds. But then, at the bottom, I land harmlessly and without injury! Yay!

See what's going on if you use only rule making language and no language that tells us what's happening?

It's also weird that you're coming back to falling now, a whole paragraph after you covered sinking. Why aren't those next to each other?

You know what I think? It's because it's all rule making. There's so little description of what's going on, there's not even a good way to determine that sinking and falling are related. But if you think about what's going on - and again, I'm coming back to my suggestion of buoyancy, but I don't care if buoyancy is what you choose, just choose something - then all the crunch that describes that particular type of experience goes together. Falling, sinking, swim skill all have to be next to each other in my conception, because the reason those mechanical details are there is the same - the loss of buoyancy.

BIG FINISH ON THE CRUNCH

Remember how shocked you were earlier when I said that the item, properly used, guaranteed the death of the wearer?

So we've had our fun with the belt. 2 hours is either up or soon going to be. We can't swim. We can't get over obstacles with magic.

At this point, we either snap a starfish leg to end the effect "prematurely" - and instantly die from pressure, or drown if we're not deep enough to be immediately crushed.

OR
we wait, morose, for the effects to wear off, at which point we're either crushed instantly or we drown.

Sure, sure, maybe someone somewhere nearby has a wand of water breathing, right? But if we're just using the belt, we're dead. And if the wand user gets distracted at the wrong moment...we're also dead.

You very carefully make it super-difficult to get off the sea floor...so what happens when you're on the sea floor and the effect ends? Hell, in atmosphere the fly spell "fails slowly" so you're slowly returned to the ground as long as you're within a reasonable distance. Not the magic of this belt.

ugh. Now I want to start calling this "Belt of the Deaths". Just 2 though. It's either pressure or drowning. Maybe this item is for terminally ill people who are really, really afraid of disease, injury, and clerics?

I kid.

But making the item a death trap when used as you've written it got it a lot of down votes from me.

5. Reading for creativity
Is this new?
Is it blindingly why-didn't-I-think-of-that simple in execution?
Does it utilize themes in such a way that different aspects of the entry all tie together well?

Is it new?
No. It's not new. Putting water breathing together with freedom of movement is as old as first edition D&D. It's obvious you would want those powers together, and many people have done something in the past to put those spells together either by creating single items or just making sure that they have wands of each or maybe even use of contingency spells, I don't know. But the idea to put freedom of movement together with water breathing isn't original.

Is it blindingly why-didn't-I-think-of-that simple in execution?
No.

We've already been through the crunch and seen that the way you go about writing the rules for the item actually creates serious questions as to what's going on and why.

BUT... I really liked the starfish. And I thought that it was great that you used a creature that naturally regenerates to play with the concept of charges. I think that actually has been done before, but rarely. It's hard to incorporate a living being into an item, but starfish are sufficiently sessile and look so much the same dried out and wet/alive that having a starfish on the belt that still manages to regenerate isn't weird in an "oh god, what if this starfish crawls up me" way AND SIMULTANEOUSLY isn't weird in an "oh, weird, why is this completely dead thing still growing arms as if it's alive?" way either. I don't really know how you came up with that idea, but it was one of those things where the sessile animal + regeneration made possible playing with living charges in a way that definitely made me say, "Of course, why didn't I think of that!"

This is a really good thing. Find the things that look obvious to everyone else in hindsight, but that no one is actually doing yet, and you're a genius. You've done it once. Now just do it a bunch more times.

[I say that not to sarcastically express lack of faith in you, but actually to joke with you about what a hard task that is. But it is promising that you've done it once already.]

Does it utilize themes in such a way that different aspects of the entry all tie together well?

Um, no.

Putting a theme together, top to bottom, isn't easy. Here the powers were dictated by practicality, not by the theme. They weren't put together to tell a particular (and hopefully unique) story. They weren't put together because the theme demanded it. They were just put together because crunch demands certain things for humanoids to adventure in water.

I don't discourage you from making an item for a purpose. But all you have here is the practicality. If you really want to make a practical item (and remember, that will help you with audience appeal), set up the powers you absolutely have to have...and nothing else. Don't add something else because it's cool or because even though it's not strictly necessary, it would be useful. Then you're packing on functions and price without getting anything even half as cool as just paying a page to run through the town looking for a hireling sorcerer to cast those spells on you. At least the sorcerer can be drunk or funny or obnoxious or all 3 and give you character a fun interaction. The GM can roll a secretly diplomacy check for you after you pay to decide if the sorcerer liked you and slips you a hotel room key for later...which grosses you out because the key smells of 13 months worth of stale booze and gets your companions to laugh a bit, but also gives you an opportunity to, if you're motivated and you time it right, show up just before the sorcerer falls asleep so they don't feel blown off like all the other folk do, and now you have a sorcerer willing to cast spells at 20%off ... or the sorcerer "accidentally" blows nose on your for giving too small a tip - and your companions laugh at you.

If all you need are the spells, why not a hireling? Seriously.

Why would a character want to use up wealth to keep your item around permanently, even though not every adventure is the perfect adventure for this particular set of powers. That's the question you have to answer.

SO if you are going to do this "making a practical item" thing, put together only the powers you need, you absolutely have to have (you did a good job limiting yourself to these with the Belt, by the way)... and then set it aside. Do some creating of other items. Silly items, serious items, doesn't matter.

Eventually what's going to happen is that you'll have a thematic idea that either calls for that set of practical powers OR at least tolerates that set.

It will probably tolerate rather than demand that set of powers, but that's okay. Start tweaking the theme so it gets closer and closer to demanding the set of powers that you put together for practical purposes. Other powers will occur to you that would work with this theme. Write them ALL down. This isn't like the practical approach of sticking to what you have to have. Write them ALL down. When you have a really, really good theme going, start looking at all the powers you've listed. Are there any that don't just fit the theme, but make the theme better? Unless that's going to kill the item price wise, put it in. Try to make the number of powers you add because they make the theme work to be 0% to 150% of the number of powers you added for pure practicality. If you have to, remember to tweak your theme to explain why the items cost needs to be kept low - or needs to be higher - so you can accommodate the powers your theme demands and justify excluding those you leave out. The "number of powers" can be counted different ways, because some powers are minor enough or tightly entwined with each other enough that several different bits of crunch can be one "power". But you need some sort of guidepost for when you're going crazy.

How about this? If your construction requirements are going to require more than 4 spells, you need to stop adding and even think seriously about cutting back. If you're at 4 spells, stop adding, and think reasonably about cutting back. 3 spells and under, you're probably fine. Note that this is not an actual hard-and-fast rule. Maybe that Staff of the Magi needs 47 spells in its creation and still works. But that's the rare exception. There's way to much SAK stuff going on when the spell requirements expand. For RPGSS, keep it to a lower number and do those crazy rule-breaking things when you have more experience and more freedom.

Remember, even if you know you want to reduce the number of powers and/or price, ***do not do this unless you can absolutely justify it by the them*** - either the theme as you already have it, or the them as tweaked with this new idea you just had to make this thing work.

You know you picked powers first, but to people who didn't see you write the item, if the theme demands those powers, it will look as if the cool theme came first, and darn it you were just forced to put together those powers that happen to have great practical utility.

.....

There's lots more to be said about theme, but you really didn't have one. So it's probably better for me to move on and for you to read other items where I discuss this. I'd be inventing too much from scratch to be critiquing your work if I tried to discuss the belt's thematic possibilities and missed opportunities.

6. Reading for audience appeal
The job is to design game products that gamers will buy. So a very legitimate question is, "Will gamers want to buy the supplement just to be able to use this item at their table?" If yes, that's a good reason to up vote.

I think this item, ironically, actually has good audience appeal. there are reasons that everyone wants to put together freedom of movement and water breathing at some point. Add in the relatively low price point and the very cool starfish mechanic, and people who aren't having an adventure based under the waves would definitely find it useful to keep around for short sojourns...

...as long as you fix the auto-death thing first. It has no audience appeal until that's done.

7. Reading for the joy of the word.
Did you write clearly?
I don't care about a typo or the misuse of a single piece of punctuation, but do you have errors or style choices that disrupt flow?
Do you have style choices that enhance the flow - are you creative with sentence structures and do you have the capacity to consider cadence when selecting from synonyms?
Does the mood of the writing reflect the mood of the item? Perhaps a droning monotonous rhythm would enhance certain items.
Have you thought through the theme of your item and made sure that every time you have an choice between two words or two phrases you select the one that furthers your theme and reinforces your imagery?
Do you add wondrous, unexpected depth under the clear surface, in which attentive readers may immerse themselves?
Most of the time this feedback will not focus on anything you've done wrong, but on moments where a designer misses an opportunity to do something amazing.

So, I want to be supportive, so I'm going to recommend something radical:

don't do this.

Don't try to write something that's a pleasure simply to read. There's so little fluff and description in your item, it really feels to me that you either don't like doing that writing or feel bewildered about how to do it or both.

In that case, shooting for such a high bar as writing that is a joy to read will just make your designing a nightmare.

Instead don't shoot for anything but writing that stays consistently on theme, describes the experience the character is having that you're trying to represent with the crunch, describes the item itself, describes what a person would perceive or experience when watching the item operate, and describes the crunch.

Treat them as jobs and get them done. You can do that. Although not many people do pull together a consistent them for an RPGSS entry.

Face it: were not pros and we have lots of things to do besides designing items so even though you'd think we'd spend hours on it, the vast majority of us really don't. That's fine. We can enter for any reason we like and be satisfied with any result appeals to us.

So don't bash your head against the wall trying to come up with more description.

Let yourself write any description - short or small - that you feel inspired to write, and then spend your time not making it beautiful, but making sure that all your choices fit the theme. Check every word against the theme. Pull up an internet thesaurus and check out the synonyms for "a" and "the" if you have to.

But limit yourself to that one, three-part job:
1) making everything in the entry relate to at least one totally separate thing in your entry
2) without ever undermining your theme
3) while promoting your theme every place you see an opportunity.

You probably won't be the top item without beautiful imagery, but a tight theme and the kind of insightful creativity you showed with the starfish can get you into the top 36.

And with item design, there ain't no difference between #1 and #32, and not a whole lot between #1 and #36.

At that point, worry about your map.

I suck at maps, so ask someone else about that.

8. Rule checks:
is the item over-priced or underpriced?
What about caster level? Did you use 1st when Bane or Craft Wondrous Item has a higher level requirement?
Although the entire point of magic is to do things one could otherwise not do, nonetheless Pathfinder must have rules and I can't interpret every single conflict between an item and Pathfinder rules as simply a case of the magic of the item overcoming those rules.

I didn't see anything particularly wrong with your item. Aura matches caster level; cost matches price; caster level is sufficient to cast the highest level spell required.

You have to have themes that tie your thing together, that make it a whole item. But if there are rule violations in your entry, I'm not seeing them and that tells me that this is good enough that if you get everything else right, this doesn't need to improve to hit the top 32.

9. The extra mile
This is all about making things easier for me as your reader.

If you duplicate a spell effect, not merely use it in construction, hyperlink it for me.

Also note that even without special formatting, a shorter item is friendlier to the reader. You get points for not padding the words out to 299.
===============================

This is an item that contains only a very few "mistakes" that are as simple as violations of a rule, misuse or nonuse of the format, etc. There were no serious or disqualifying mistakes like designing the wrong type of item, etc.

This item is missing the crunch for how you end the effect without dying. I won't mention this again, but things like item "balance" are going to have to assume you've somehow fixed this. It would make no sense to talk, for example, about the game balance of an item that routinely kills its users.

This item is not creative in what it does and how it does it. I honestly do not understand what is going on, only that certain mechanical rules apply. Also, the fundamental design space is very well trod.

This item is likely balanced in most game groups.

This item has an audience who will want to acquire and use the item.

The writing is sometimes clear, going up to often or almost always in the crunchy bits. You know how to write directly and without clutter. Some writing is needlessly unclear, however. "In the guise of a buckle" is an example. Guise implies deceit - if the starfish is pretending to be the belt buckle, what does that mean?

The crunch is often clear, but sometimes a reader doubts that the clear RAW isn't a bad mistake and that maybe RAI should apply. Except, though the writing is short, not confusing in anyway, and otherwise "clear," there simply isn't anything that reveals intent, and thus even when the RAW seems like a bad choice, it's all we have. In this case, clarity works against you since having only one very clear interpretation disallows easy reinterpretations that would create a better outcome than RAW.

This item does not go the extra mile to make it easy for me to read and grok.

This item does not have a consistent theme. Different aspects of the entry like name, description, what the item does, and how the item does it, do not consistently support and reinforce each other's efforts to create a theme. This appears mostly to be a matter of not doing it at all rather than doing it badly. If this was something which you simply didn't know was a good idea, i look forward to your first real efforts at trying to create a theme that works this way.

This item is not close to having writing such that simply reading its entry is a pleasure. I have recommended focus on clear theme as it seems at this point only having read one item by this designer, that it's just not where the designer's interests and/or skills lie. Recommend not focussing on this area. Hemmingway, after all.

Ultimately I found this item fell short of middle of the pack. A serious part of this is the possibly lethal consequences of using this item as written. While that's a mistake unlikely to be repeated, it's not really a very forgivable one for the purpose of judging this item here and now. Even with fixing that mistake, however, the designer needs to pay attention to theme and finding ways to explain what is actually happening from the character's point of view and make sure that the character's view, the item name, item description, and crunch all support that theme. These two major problems were responsible for most of the points lost. Fix those, and you'll boost yourself quite a bit. The starfish-regeneration-charges portion of this item tells me that if you learn to use a theme, you have the potential to create something special.

Marathon Voter Season 9

CripDyke wrote:


I'm only going to do reviews for people who very specifically ask, and maybe not even all of you, depending on how many are interested.

I would appreciate your critique, but with that high level of detail I would not be surprised if you don;t have the time to get to it. Figured I would throw my hat in the ring though. Thanks for posting these wonderfully thorough works. I've gleaned a lot by reading them for other items.

Silver Crusade Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

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Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I've got a tiny bit of time to give back, so here are some critiques. More coming this weekend!

Soulrazor
The Good: It's... solid. It's got a clear theme and description. It reminds me of certain artifacts originating from Galt.

The Bad: The flavor text seemed a little much for my taste, but I am on the "less flavor text" end of the spectrum. (I forgot to include any at all in my own item!) I was a little disappointed that it didn't call out the Gray Gardeners or Final Blades in a more direct fashion. The reminder text for things like crit range wasn't necessary, I didn't think. For 110k+, I felt like the weapon and its effect probably need to be a little more conventionally powerful in order for someone to find it interesting enough to use. The "DIY fake death" ability is interesting, but there are a whole bunch of riders attached to it that make it significantly more complicated for someone to take advantage of without being terribly thematic. I felt like if it was a death item, it should be about death, not healing.

Lion’s Roar

The Good: Evocative. Well-constructed. Good linking. Elysian Bronze!

The Bad: Not wonderfully creative; seems reminiscent of the Holy Avenger, only it's a weapon type that people use in Pathfinder, and it's not as tied to the Paladin class. I was with you on the linking until you linked greatsword. It seems like a bit much. Phrasing: it's simpler to say that good-aligned wielders gain additional benefits, rather than restating the weapons' base abilities at the end. There's no range on the aura, and there probably should be, even if it's only a mention that the allies need to be able to hear the "performance" to benefit from the effect. I feel like a simpler way of building the final "energy" ability would be to have given it the Brilliant Energy property until the start of the wielder's next turn, or perhaps allow them to Smite Evil. That said, bypassing DR/resistances is pretty strong. I also felt like you included maybe too much flavor text in the entries, which helped it feel evocative but made it hard to separate fluff from crunch and made it harder to parse exactly what the Lion's Roar does.

Glove of the Severed Servant

The Good: Creative. Creepy. Festooned!

The Bad: It costs a fairly sizable chunk of change, but crawling hands are pretty wimpy at the point at which you'd have the disposable income to throw at such a gauntlet. That leaves it mostly as an action-economy booster, which could be problematic considering you're down a hand at that point.

Green Flash

The Good: Evocative, and I like the imagery. The faerie fire does somewhat mesh with the theme.

The Bad: The other effects are only peripherally tied to the theme. True Strike functioning only outside the range increment is an odd choice, since despite the 110' you usually get with a bow, most archers prefer to fire within 30' for point-blank benefits. I think that leaves the ability as one that would very rarely be of benefit in actual gameplay.

Soul Shackle Bolt

The Good: I love the idea, and you've put a bunch of very thematic abilities together into one complete package!

The Bad: You've found a whole bunch of edge cases for yourself. There's precedent for stabbing others with arrows and bolts, for example, so bolting yourself to the Prime Material and failing your save would seem like a good strategy vs. death effects. I think you've inherited a bunch of dimensional anchor edge cases (create pit?) without actually stating that it's functioning as a dimensional anchor effect, which could be problematic. Also, its cost is borderline inappropriately high!

Star Voter Season 9

Fiendish Zen,

You are welcome! Thank you for the imaginative item.

Shadow Lodge

CripDyke wrote:

My review of the Crossbow of the Embracing Vine.

** spoiler omitted **
...

Oh my gosh, thank you so much for the in-depth critique! It's sure to help me push my item over the edge next year (I hope!). I am also just super happy that I made it onto someone's top 32! I was roughing a house split in half by an earthquake for round 2 that I was excited about... but maybe next year. :)

Wolin wrote:
metid wrote:

Crossbow of the Embracing Vine

*snip*

Thanks a lot for the critique - that is a good way to look at it, from the flat modifier bonus vs what the item gives, crunch-wise. I'll have to keep that in mind for future pricing snafus.

Star Voter Season 9

Jacob W. Michaels wrote:

Since you asked...

Zippykat wrote:

This was my first RPGSS entry and I'm anxious to figure out what I can improve on.

I can see a few mistakes off the bat, capitalized aura, all caps in format.

HUSK OF PROTECTIVE PARCHMENT
AURA: Normal Moderate Abjuration CL: 7th
SLOT: Armor PRICE: 47,320 gp WEIGHT: 20 lbs. when exhausted, Does not weigh anything with spells stored in the armor.
DESCRIPTION:
This set of hide armor looks normal aside from the four pearls sewn into the neckline. However, a wearer with arcane spell powers can store one spell per level up to 4th level, transforming this armor into what appears to be a shirt made of many pieces of parchments layered on top of each other. While the wearer has spells stored in the armor, the armor weighs nothing and has no chance of Arcane Spell Failure, though a Max Dex Bonus of +4 still applies.

The wearer may cast the stored spell as a standard action as a scroll which is taken off the armor. The wearer must be able to cast the stored spell and once it is cast, it is gone until replenished as per pearl of power. For each spell used, the armor loses one point of protection. So if you have used two of the four spells, the armor drops to +2 until replenished. Once all four spells are used, the armor reverts back to a masterwork hide shirt with all bonuses and penalties until the spells are replenished.

CONSTRUCTION
REQUIREMENTS: Craft Magic Arms & Armor, Mage Armor, Pearls of Power x4 (1st-4th level) COST: 23,820 gp

You've definitely got some template problems, which really put me off right off the bat. You mention the capitalized aura, but you also seem to have made up your own aura with "normal." Also, typically, Paizo magic items don't have other items (or special materials at all) as part of their construction. The spell should be lowercase and italicized.

You both hit and miss with imagery, I thought. I like the idea of the armor transforming,...

Thank you,

I hadn't thought of the item the way you were critiquing it and it does make sense. I'll try again next year and maybe submit items on the blazing 9 thread.

Star Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

CripDyke wrote:
** spoiler omitted **...

Thanks for the in depth review. Lots of interesting stuff and things to think about. Its amazing how much stuff is wrong with the crunch when you deconstruct it in such a meticulous way.

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

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I suppose I'd like to hear people's thoughts on my item. I fought with it a lot -- pricing, different delivery methods, etc. -- so I can't say I'm shocked it didn't make it to the Top 32.

Anathema Brand
Aura faint evocation and necromancy; CL 3rd
Slot none; Price 500 gp; Weight 1 lb.

Description
Visages silently crying out in horror flicker through the dancing flame of this torch so quickly that they appear almost a trick of the eye.

While lit, the torch generates a 40-foot-radius aura that creates a gnawing sense of desolation. Any creature other than the torch bearer within the aura must succeed at a DC 13 Will save or be shaken for 1 minute; it becomes immune to this specific torch's effect on a successful save or after 1 minute. The bearer can ignite a creature shaken by an anathema brand by using the lit torch to make a melee touch attack. On a successful hit, the target catches on fire, taking 1d6 points of fire damage each round as it is engulfed in flames filled with images of screaming faces.

Any allies of a burning creature must succeed at a DC 13 Will save or regard it as abhorrent and shy away from it. They cannot provide or receive a flanking bonus from the burning creature, and no longer consider it an ally for the purposes of effects such as teamwork feats, class abilities and magical effects such as bless. This effect ends when the burning creature is extinguished. The torch's abilities are mind-affecting fear effects.

The torch can only ignite a single target at a time; further attempts automatically fail until a previous target is no longer on fire.

After it is first lit, an anathema brand burns for up to eight hours, at which point its magic is expended. Time spent with the torch extinguished counts against this duration.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, scare, spark; Cost 250 gp

Star Voter Season 7

CripDyke wrote:

By popular request...okay, by Nykidemus' request... the Courtesan's Locket is next up.

** spoiler omitted **...

Seriously, holy s@&@ that was immense.

Spoiler:
The targeting issue was the one thing that I was most concerned about - I wanted to the user of the Courtesan's Locket to be able to pick the thing that the poisoned fellow would go off on - and since they're reading their surface thoughts that seemed like the best way to go about it.

Object was actually an intended possibility for the Hatred ride. I loved the idea of poisoning the duke or something and then waiting for him to get a splinter in the middle of a meeting or something and then trigger it so he flips out and screams at the table for a good 20 seconds. Gives the player options for "make the guy seem crazy" as well as "yell at someone politically unwise" or "grab the queen's butt."

Given that the compulsion only lasts for a few rounds I didnt think it needed pointing out that the target wouldnt go find said target, but I like the idea of spelling it out that they just yell ABOUT that person if they are not present.

I had indeed intended for the item to be one use per day, I did consider that people might try to stockpile it, but I thought my wording was clear enough about it only producing enough toxin for one use per day, and that use dosage would become ineffective when the next dosage was usable was pretty straightforward. I can see now that I did leave some wiggle room.

I thought the locket was specifically a thematically solid choice. It speaks of an exchange of gifts, something close to the heart, figuratively and literally. It hangs between the breasts, intimating sexuality. Lockets are explicitly feminine, and poison, emotional manipulation, and shame have often been considered feminine tools.

You are absolutely correct that I should have mentioned the inside of the locket. In my mind I was really picturing something more like a pendant, with a large central stone. Emerald of course, for jealousy.

I'm very glad that you felt that the item had enough potential to be worth writing up a whole new version yourself. That's really quite flattering.

You run rather quickly into my primary concern though. When reviewing items myself, anything over ~150 words is just a wall of text. A slog to get through.

300 being the actual limit of the contest makes getting every possible outcome on paper fairly hard, but the item is really intended as a "give the DM a way to advance the plot in a way that amuses the PCs and makes them feel they have agency" device. Leaving many of the outcomes a little vague felt beneficial to the future DM, who might be you. ^_~

Prior to getting cut down, I had actually had Charity as an option as well, for a "do something nice for the next guy you see" but thought that it would be too obvious for the players to just use it to talk with the noble and say "hey can we have x?" and then compel him to just go "Yeah sure." Also, clearly it did not play along with the theme.

The high save, and the range on the effects were written in largely as a compensation for requiring that the player dose the food/drink of a nobleman. Someone who likely has a taster, is well guarded, and will likely have many people in proximity to everything they eat and drink all the time.

In retrospect, there really should have been a callout for if the poison is used on a large pot, such as then it is fed to a bunch of people, at a banquet or something. That's quite the potential mess.

Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Chrysalis Cloak
Aura faint transmutation; CL 5th
Slot shoulders; Price 12,500 gp; Weight 1 lb.

Description
All transmutation spells, abilities and effects that the wearer of this stiff, mottled brown cloak become subject to have their caster level increased by one.

In addition, whenever the wearer of a chrysalis cloak becomes subject to such an effect, the cloak transforms into a pair of insectile wings, most often resembling those of a butterfly or moth. These wings grant the wearer a fly speed of 60 feet (maneuverability good) for one round per caster level of the transmutation spell, ability or effect that triggered the transformation.
Construction Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, Heighten Spell, fly; Cost 6,250 gp

Grand Lodge Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 9

1 person marked this as a favorite.

And here was my 12 year old's item. He'd like a review too ... thanks!

Diver's Float
Aura faint evocation; CL 2nd
Slot shoulders; Price 2,000 gp; Weight -
Description
This small, brown, airtight leather balloon is about a foot wide, and full of air, allowing its user to float. It is strapped on by ropes around the user's shoulders. However, it allows the user to control their depth magically. To control it, the user hums a certain number of notes, telling it how many feet deep they want to go.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, gust of wind, leather, two feet of rope; Cost 1000 gp

Marathon Voter Season 9

meloriel wrote:

Chrysalis Cloak

Aura faint transmutation; CL 5th
Slot shoulders; Price 12,500 gp; Weight 1 lb.

Description
All transmutation spells, abilities and effects that the wearer of this stiff, mottled brown cloak become subject to have their caster level increased by one.

In addition, whenever the wearer of a chrysalis cloak becomes subject to such an effect, the cloak transforms into a pair of insectile wings, most often resembling those of a butterfly or moth. These wings grant the wearer a fly speed of 60 feet (maneuverability good) for one round per caster level of the transmutation spell, ability or effect that triggered the transformation.
Construction Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, Heighten Spell, fly; Cost 6,250 gp

Alright, I haven't gotten around to continuing my critiques, but I just want to say that I loved this item. One thing that bugged me, though, was that the wings seemed counter-intuitive to one potential use of transmutation spells: Disguises. I don't think the other ogres are going to trust the new guy with the pretty Painted Lady wings, and I think the otherwise nondescript cat sneaking around the prison is going to be noticed a lot quicker if it's got a couple appendages it shouldn't. Making that feature optional might have helped.

This isn't a full review, mind you. I'm trying to do those in order for my sanity's sake.

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Here we go again.

CripDyke reviewing Dieben's Needlenose Arbalest:

Dieben wrote:


Needlenose Arbalest
Aura strong transmutation; CL 14th
Slot none; Price 51,050 gp; Weight 12 lbs.
Description
This sculpture of a monstrously articulated mosquito functions as a +2 impervious heavy crossbow, gaining the seeking special ability when targeting creatures with the bleed condition or who are below half their full hit points.

Once per week, the wielder may speak a command word to launch the mosquito's head at a foe within 50 feet as a ranged touch attack. The head remains connected by a length of rope stored within the crossbow. As part of the weapon, the rope benefits from the enhancement bonus and impervious special ability.

A successful hit deals normal damage and 1 point of bleed damage and the wielder can attempt a combat maneuver check to grapple the target as a free action. Each round the wielder successfully maintains the grapple, the target is pulled 10 feet closer to the wielder and dealt 1 additional point of bleed damage. This movement does not provoke.

If the wielder begins their turn adjacent to the target and successfully pins them, they may drop the crossbow as it animates into a giant mosquito (see the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 2), but without the disease special ability. The wielder is no longer grappled as the mosquito is now pinning the target. The mosquito acts on the wielder's next initiative, feeding on the pinned target. The mosquito reverts to its crossbow form once the grapple ends, the target is killed, or it deals 8 points of constitution damage, whichever comes first. If slain while animated, the mosquito reverts to crossbow form and may not be animated for a full month.
Construction
Requirements
Craft Magic Arms and Armor, bleed, blood scent, fabricate, make whole, true seeing, vermin shape II; Cost 25,700 gp

1. Name

Is the name so bad as to detract from the item?
Does the name have any potential for defining a theme to be developed later?

Absolutely not. Although arbalest is a synonym for crossbow, and it's hard to make a theme out of a "crossbow" I would never hold including the weapon type against the namer of a magical weapon.

"Needlenose" is a word that I don't think I've ever seen written in an RPG rulebook. If I have, it's been rare and it hasn't been tagged in my brain as having associations you would have to either cleverly exploit or overcome.

So you've got nothing against you in the name. But "needle nose" seems specific and evocative enough that you could probably integrate that into a theme.

It's a bit short of the ultimate goal, though. It doesn't actually **define** the theme. While it's got uniqueness going for it, I simply have no idea where you're gonna go with that. That's not bad, it certainly means the name is fresh (which, yes, is good), but though the word "needle nose" feels evocative, I don't really know what it's evocative of.

I expect to learn that later, but the best of names would set the stage rather than take advantage, retroactively, of a stage set by writing that comes after.

2. Glance top to bottom
Glance at the formatting to see if the entry pays enough attention to what Paizo wants that this item isn't throw-away worthy. Maybe glance at a couple of other things that seem like DQs to me - a CL of 21+, a cost of 200,001 gp or more (since that’s forbidden by Paizo), maybe something else I’m not thinking about right now.

Template appears well used. A few problems, cost/price mismatch for instance, but not so that you can't find information and not so that it looks like the designer didn't pay attention to what Paizo wanted.

3. Read for content
what does the item do? Is the item in an over-used design space?
Is the function understandable?

The item is a crossbow whose bolts swerve to strike bloodied opponents who would otherwise be protected by a miss chance.

Additionally, once per week, the crossbow shoots off a portion of itself, trailing a rope. The crossbow uses grapple rules to try to drag a struck victim back to the wielder.

Finally, if the crossbow drags the victim back, the wielder gets a chance to pin the already grappled victim. If successful, the crossbow becomes a giant mosquito and sucks blood.

yeah, I think I got it. There's nothing about what this does that's unclear to me. I probably even understand it well enough to use this description to make judgement calls if the party runs into crunch corner cases.

This is not at all an overused design space. It has shades of Mortal Combat's "Get over here!" (Scorpion, right?) but it is different. Some items I've seen are crossbows that connect their bolts to the weapon, but none animate in this way, none drink blood in this way.

This is also not the perfectly logical assemblage of pieces that were always destined to come together because they just make sense. This is a collection of powers that demonstrates creativity, even if the design space isn't completely out of the box, what with other crossbows that trail ropes and chains, this is a niche that might never have been filled without this designer.

Good stuff.

4. Read for crunch
Is the crunch understandable?
Is it complicated?
Does it use effects that will be a pain around the gaming table?
Is it overpowered comes into play here if it would be a bad item regardless of price. Otherwise it's an underpricing issue. This doesn't mean that the item has to be worth more than 200,000 gp. An item can be overpowered if its fair market value is only 3,000 -5000 gp if the only characters who would ever want to use it are first level characters (who can't afford it - so they have to be given it - so you see the problem).
NOTE: I don't have to particularly like the approach to the crunch that you chose, so long as it works.

understandable?

Yep. Absolutely. This item manages to be innovative while relying for its effects mostly on rulesets that already exist (e.g. grappling), established special abilities (e.g. seeking), and other sources with their own established details. This item grants those powers under special conditions or with specific tweaks and additions that are easy to understand, quickly described, clear in crunch, and at least occasionally enhancing the theme.

more complicated than it needs to be? Too complicated even though it's all necessary?
You want to make a complicated item? This item shows exactly how to do it. Relying extensively on the established permits the creation of a complicated item without going near 300 words. Careful attention to theme means the fact that these established sources don't end up undermining the them, but instead are mostly used in ways that either don't detract from the theme or actively add to it. This item has some really good stuff in the crunch.

If you started this item from scratch, trying to explain everything, you probably couldn't do it in 600 words (even if the mosquito still had its own bestiary entry).

I often write complicated stuff.

I don't do it nearly this well.

By having a great knowledge of a wide range of pathfinder rules and thinking seriously about how this would have to change to fit the theme, but not sticking in things that simply might be cool for that theme, this designer makes the complicated-item space accessible in ways that other designers can't manage.

Will it be a pain around the gaming table?
Oh, all the grapple checks won't be fun. You'll get into problems where the wielder keeps the rope taught and walks in an ark to put a fire pit between the struggling victim and the wielder...and that may require some judgement calls. But honestly, this isn't going to be more difficult than a lasso. I may not prefer it for the complexity, but even with all it's magic powers it's not more of a pain than a weapon that any of my first level characters might use at any moment.

I dock it minor points here, but other people might not knock any off at all.

Overpowered?

Why is the grapple a free action?

It really shouldn't be a free action. This bugs me. THere's no reason for it. Your theme is "needle nose", not "giant ape that has the mass to take care of this grapple all on my own". I get it that the crossbow animated sufficiently to send out its head, but that was just to hit. You've got someone on the end of a rope who really doesn't want to be there.

Why should I be able to make a full attack while controlling the creature at the end of the rope who is trying to get away?

I just see nothing in the theme, the construction requirements, what the item is actually doing, or anything else that tells me why this should be a free action.

For such a huge advantage (this is normally a standard action every round that you can't avoid) there needs to not only be something in how the item functions that tells me this needs to be a free action, but in addition the theme of the item better absolutely require that it function in this unusual, standard-action-saving way.

I just don't see that.

Oh, wait - I had to come back to this section because I remembered: The mosquito turns back into a sculpture when it has done 8 constitution damage.

Okay, that makes sense, but...

the attack does 1d2 constitution damage. What happens if the mosquito has done 7, then on the next attack rolls a d2 and gets a 2?

Does the magical transformation back interrupt the blood drain so that there's no time to suck out that 9th point? Or does the 9th point of constitution damage happen? If it's about the belly filling up, it seems like the mosquito might very well voluntarily forego the last point of damage.

But I just don't know.

Get this detail ironed out in the crunch for me, would you? It's a relatively small thing, but I'd appreciate it.

5. Reading for creativity
Is this new?
Is it blindingly why-didn't-I-think-of-that simple in execution?
Does it utilize themes in such a way that different aspects of the entry all tie together well?

Is this new?

Yep, this seems pretty new. Crossbows-as-constructs hasn't been done before that I know. There's a lot in here that's new, even though, as I said, it relies heavily on well-established rulesets.

Is it blindingly why-didn't-I-think-of-that simple in execution?

It's way to complicated for that...

BUT... it actually does get the points an item might get for that because even though I can't say, "Of course, it should just do this, and then this, and then this, and then this," I can say that each little detail, each change or addition to the established rulesets the designer references, each special tweak is simple, makes sense, and either prevents a conflict with the theme or works to try to enhance the theme.

Many of the little steps, then, each separately give me that "why didn't I think of that" feeling, even though there's no way i can say that of the item's mechanics or functions as a whole.

Does it utilize themes in such a way that different aspects of the entry all tie together well?

Okay, here's the thing. This item could have been in my top 32, but wasn't. There's a lot that I like about it, and so many design choices were made because the theme demanded it, not because it would make the mechanics easier or the item more powerful or something else that isn't about the item itself.

Just yum.

But in addition to a couple of writing problems that I'll get to in a different section, there are two significant problems. The first is simply something that fails to connect with the them, but doesn't really clash. The second one is a HUGE theme clash.

So, first: grapple. Mosquitos aren't known for grappling. Yes, technically it's part of the giant mosquito entry, but there's no imagery there that makes me think, Oh, yeah, they would totally use grapple quite often! I also strongly suspect that most mosquitos would use their grapple to pin someone to the ground (as the arbalest does when it turns into a mosquito) rather than using it to drag someone along the ground. In the very-very best case, you could imagine a super-huge mosquito flying off with someone, but not really dragging them along the ground. The imagery just really isn't working for me.

Second, the super-huge problem.
The item's name is "needlenose". The item is given not merely a blood-seeking theme, but a *mosquito* blood-seeking theme.

And...

...the impervious.

What the hell?

When I think of a mosquito's proboscis I don't think, "Wow, if that thing gets stuck in me I'm never going to get it out!" I don't think, "Jeez, that crossbow looks like a mosquito-sculpture. Look at that tiny wire mouth thing on the front! Man, I bet that thing is just unbreakable!

So much of what you do is driven by the theme, but then this one design decision seems made entirely out of fear. It doesn't enhance the theme, it contradicts it. But if the weapon was fragile, and you only get to do this special grappling thing once a week, dammit you just might never get a chance to make the weapon do it's whole shoot-drag-pin-HulkOut-suckblood cycle. If it was fragile, there's just too much going on there for everything to work out perfectly with a super-fragile mosquito-head, right?

I really feel like I have a good idea of why you wanted to go with impervious, but it's a choice that just kills your mojo.

I could write a lot more about how you integrated this aspect or that aspect of your theme. But you obviously know how to do it. Oh, heck, let's do a couple anyway:


  • the seeking ability only functions when creatures have the bleed condition or are under 1/2 HP.
  • the weapon that's going to turn into a mosquito actually is sculpted to resemble a mosquito - including (I think, we'll get to this later) mechanical articulations that should be delicate, like a mosquito.
  • the mosquito turns back into a crossbow if it's belly is full of enough blood

Actually, now that I look at it, it's not that there are so many things that cross-reinforce, it's just that the major ones all do ...except grapple and impervious.

With so much more tight integration than most of the other items, impervious isn't so dang frustrating here because now the item's horrible.

it's still well above average.

But you pine for what might have been.

No mosquito-construct should be "impervious".

Nothing that uses imagery that deliberately evokes the delicate (like "needlenose") should be "impervious".

If you want to go shooting people and having the bow drag them back for you, how about this:

Your new theme is Bloodhound.

The name of the crossbow doesn't even use "crossbow" or "arbalest". It's just, "The Bloodhound". Or, rather, in Paizo-style, the bloodhound. Bloodhounds track something down for you. They can grab it in a mouth and bring it back. You can still have the seeking on a bleed condition or low HP. And then make that short stocky dog impervious.

There ya go.

but there's lots you could have done with the needle nose theme as well.

What's really scary about those super-fine needle-nose probosces? The scariest part is when they slip inside you, but they're so fine, so sharp, you don't even notice.

You want a needle nose that uses the mosquito theme?

Instead of dragging back your prey like a hunting dog, a certain number of times a day or week you can shoot a crossbow bolt as normal, roll to hit as normal, roll damage as normal, but you add 10.

The bolt does no damage. The damage+10 total is the DC of the perception check to even notice you've been hit.

The hit deposits a 6" long needle proboscis in the body of your target. Every time the victim leaves one square for another the victim must take one point of damage that round (subsequent movement doesn't increase damage) per move action taken that round. Every time the victim casts a spell with a somatic component or makes a melee attack, the victim takes 1 hp damage, even if they've already taken damage from that source this round (yes, making a full attack is going to hurt you more than walking or running will).

As soon as the victim takes damage, the injury is obvious (no perception check) but there is no way to tell at this point where the needle came from.

Any heal check to remove the needle uses the same DC as the perception check, with a +1 bonus for every round since the shot was originally fired. HOWEVER, any failed heal check to remove does HP damage = to the number of points shy of the DC. Do you really wanna try it? Or do you wanna wait it out, hope that the victim can remain still long enough?

Ooh, that's dramatic tension that is.

The long and short of it is, your weapon acts like a cross between a bulldog and a bloodhound, has powers more fitting of a blood hound theme, and has at least one power that totally conflicts with the mosquito them.

If you want to stick with "needle nose," you're really going to have to let go of your fears about breakage. In fact, if you really want to stick with needle-nose, just embrace it!

If you really have to have the thing turn into a giant mosquito, do that without the long grapple first, so that there aren't so many opportunities for breakage. If you really have to do the long grapple, let it be easy for people to break the mosquito head and thus escape the grapple, but limit yourself to one SUCCESSFUL grapple/drag/HulkOut/Munch per week instead of one **attempted** sequence per week.

You have the potential here for a really sweet theme, but you abandoned it.

Trust yourself. Don't go out of your way to design defects and drawbacks, but if the theme is telling you your weapon is fragile ...well, make the weapon fragile. Let the theme decide. It might not end up supporting your original idea, but the final product will be so much better.

6. Reading for audience appeal
The job is to design game products that gamers will buy. So a very legitimate question is, "Will gamers want to buy the supplement just to be able to use this item at their table?" If yes, that's a good reason to up vote.

I honestly don't know how to evaluate this. I think people would like to be able to shoot something and drag it back. I don't know if the mosquito imagery takes it out of the running for too many folks.

Really, I'm not turned off by mosquito imagery. What got me was that you didn't fully embrace it. Create whatever theme you want, just embrace it, run all the way with it, don't leash it, that's what I ask.

But I'm not everybody. And I just haven't seen enough mosquito items to know how people will feel.

I wish I could give you more help here. I think strong and unique imagery helps to a point, but at some level when you're competing against other good items, will somewhat-strong, unusual-but-not-unique imagery win out if it happens to be different imagery, imagery that's not as creepy or that's more in fashion?

Damn, I just don't know. Sorry.

7. Reading for the joy of the word.
Did you write clearly?
I don't care about a typo or the misuse of a single piece of punctuation, but do you have errors or style choices that disrupt flow?
Do you have style choices that enhance the flow - are you creative with sentence structures and do you have the capacity to consider cadence when selecting from synonyms?
Does the mood of the writing reflect the mood of the item? Perhaps a droning monotonous rhythm would enhance certain items.
Have you thought through the theme of your item and made sure that every time you have an choice between two words or two phrases you select the one that furthers your theme and reinforces your imagery?
Do you add wondrous, unexpected depth under the clear surface, in which attentive readers may immerse themselves?
Most of the time this feedback will not focus on anything you've done wrong, but on moments where a designer misses an opportunity to do something amazing.

I have to be honest: sometimes your writing is great, other times it's not merely not a joy to read, it actively bumps me out of my reading groove.

Example:

Quote:
This sculpture of a monstrously articulated mosquito functions as a +2 impervious heavy crossbow,

THere's more than one thing.

Did you really mean to say, monstrously articulated mosquito? Is the mosquito not monstrous, but its knee-joints are? In short, is this mosquito

an articulated sculpture whose articulations/joints are monstrous

or is it
a monstrous sculpture that is also - wait for it- articulated, which gives it fragility and instability, which creates an odd juxtaposition with the sculpture's monstrousness?

The first one is a "monstrously articulated mosquito" sculpture

The second one is a "monstrous, articulated mosquito" sculpture.

It's not that you couldn't mean just what you say, that the articulations are monstrous, but the mosquito isn't.

It's just weird that you would have something significant to say about the JOINTS of the mosquito, but not about the overall appearance of the mosquito. What's even weirder, is that you're naming this thing "needle nose" and you don't take any time to actually describe the proboscis, no words to make us feel the understated menace of the blood-driking spike on its face. You're making the "needle nose" your theme by including it in the name (and, remember, as the only theme-worthy word in the name). But then I don't get any description of the needle nose at all!

No gory description of the sounds as the needle-nose penetrates the flesh of victims, no casual mention of the brown stains on the mouth-weapon. I don't even know what the "sculpture" is made out of ...but I know that the joints are really, really monstrous.

See it's that that makes me think it's not actually the joints that are monstrous, that this was merely written wrong.

If you really want it to be the joints that are monstrous, that's fine, but your theme isn't "joints" so you better spend more time on the mouth and head then you do on the joints, eh? Otherwise I'm left floundering around over-analyzing everything I read trying to make sure I find the description of the proboscis when the description was never there.

In that same first bit, it says the sculpture functions as a +2 impervious heavy crossbow,

Okay, now I know for a fact that this isn't actually a crossbow, because the only time you give a description, it clearly IS a sculpture, but it merely functions as a crossbow.

So does it have a string or cable at all? Does the mosquito shoot the crossbow bolts out of its proboscis by like a blowgun?

You never even tell me if this thing is wood or coiled wire or what. Sculptures can be made out of a lot of things in a lot of different styles. Is this a neoimpressionist sculpture of a mosquito? Is this something Calder might have made?

Telling me it's a sculpture that functions as a crossbow, not telling me what it's made of, and describing its joints more than its needle-nose are all things that are making this first sentence pretty hard for me. I'm starting to get in the meat of your entry, but just as I start in on the text that has a chance to develop flow and rhythm and reading joy (you obviously can't do that will Aura, CL, and Slot), I'm wondering about what you haven't written instead of enjoying what you have. And I'm still confused about that one thing with the joints...it's making it so I don't really trust you to get your own vision down correctly on the page. I want to trust you, but that monstrous joints thing is pulling at me. It might not be a mistake. You might be writing exactly what you mean. But I'm just not quite sure. So now everything you write is going to be questioned instead of absorbed and accepted.

Having this passage that so troubles me near the end would have been better, because maybe I would have at least read some of your entry smoothly, with joy. But a 300 word item is not enough for me to get my groove back after the rocky beginning. I read to the end without ever feeling like I can simply enjoy your words without proactively questioning to make sure I'm getting it, that there aren't more (any?) weird misunderstandings.

You're doing many of the right things - changing up sentence structure not in chaotic ways that disrupt flow, but simply in ways that prevent monotony and use the sentence structure to subtly direct attention and interpretive focus. You really have the skills that would let you create an entry that is a joy to read.

This one, however, isn't it. This is another clear case of a designer that has all the skills needed to make the top 32, but didn't manage to turn out a top 32 worthy item this time.

8. Rule checks:
is the item over-priced or underpriced?
What about caster level? Did you use 1st when Bane or Craft Wondrous Item has a higher level requirement?
Although the entire point of magic is to do things one could otherwise not do, nonetheless Pathfinder must have rules and I can't interpret every single conflict between an item and Pathfinder rules as simply a case of the magic of the item overcoming those rules.

Nothing to say here, you know your stuff. You're good with crunch. Your crunch descriptions were clear. They were economical and quick without being too short or too choppy. And, important for this section, they were just right.

You get the rules right. That's a big deal.

Still, I'm going to remind you here that the free action was really inappropriate. If you're grappling something on the other end of a line, you better be paying a lot of attention to it or you're going to end up being jerked around a lot more than whatever creature is at the other end.

9. The extra mile
This is all about making things easier for me as your reader.

See that thing you did with the hyperlink to the giant mosquito but NOT linking to every single spell in the construction requirements?

That was awesome. Thank you.

As for the rest of the text block, I keep feeling like it could use some friendlier formatting, but I'm not seeing anything right away. So I suspect that I'm just feeling left over "reader unfriendliness" from my reactions to some of your writing choices, not actually your formatting choices.

Mostly good. Possibly excellent. There's something nagging at me, but I honestly can't say what it is and I'm not sure it would belong in this section, I'm not sure I haven't already dealt with it. So we're letting it slide. But I'll let it bounce around my brain and if I think of something that I believe has the capacity to be helpful, I'll post it later.

================================

Overall verdict?

This is an item that contains no "mistakes" that are as simple as violations of a rule, misuse or nonuse of the format. No mistakes that are DQable, such as designing the wrong type of item, etc.

This item is creative in what it does and how it does it.

This item is likely balanced in most high-level game groups.

This item has an audience who will want to acquire and use the item. That audience will probably be big fans. I can't say, however, that that audience will be large.

The writing is clear in most respects, but odd enough in some respects that I found myself reading clunky, as if it were less clear than most of the text deserved to be judged. .

The crunch is clear in almost all aspects. Although something struck me as unclear about the mosquito transformation, other people might think the answer was either obvious or too unimportant to bother worrying about. Given the complexity of the item, despite this one thing that seemed unclear to me, the crunch was much more clear than I would expect from most designers attempting an item like this.

This item goes the extra mile for my ease-of-reading in at least one place.

This item does have a consistent theme that is synergistically forwarded by name, description, and what it does. Unfortunately, despite more synergies than the vast majority of items, there was a very, very large clash that undid much of your theme building for me. I wonder if a bloodhound theme would be a good switch or if you should alter the powers to embrace the weapon's thematic fragility and hypodermic sharpness.

I feel torn on judging the art of the writing. obviously it can't be great if the first sentence was so confusing and jarring to me. On the other hand, the first sentence was so confusing and jarring that I'm afraid of subjectively downgrading writing later in the entry that would have felt quite evocative or artistic or just damn good had I not been previously distracted. I'll just say that this design's creativity shows enough promise, and the basic clarity of communication shows enough promise, that I think you probably have the skill to create the writing that is simultaneously clear, creative, and fluid that would make an item a joy to read. This item wasn't there, but I believe that you can do it. I'd actually be interested in seeing other things you write to see if I can make more constructive comments from those examples.

This item was not in my top 32, but might very well have been if you embraced the fragility implied by "needlenose". I say this despite reservations about the art of your writing. This is fundamentally good design. If you had trusted your needlenose theme, I really don't doubt it would have turned out to be great design.

good luck next year.

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Nykidemus wrote:

I'm very glad that you felt that the item had enough potential to be worth writing up a whole new version yourself. That's really quite flattering.

You run rather quickly into my primary concern though. When reviewing items myself, anything over ~150 words is just a wall of text. A slog to get through.

300 being the actual limit of the contest makes getting every possible outcome on paper fairly hard, but the item is really intended as a "give the DM a way to advance the plot in a way that amuses the PCs and makes them feel they have agency" device. Leaving many of the outcomes a little vague felt beneficial to the future DM, who might be you. ^_~

I hope you understand I didn't even try to edit for length. I was just trying for an example that took the theme-building part from beginning to end, because that's where I saw some real potential to take the item up to top32 level.

Absolutely my version would be too long for RPGSS, but if someone really likes it, they can just use it without it ever getting published, y'know?

I also hope you don't think that I was telling you my version was the "right version" or that it was all the choices you should have made.

They're choices you could have made, but not "should have" and just examples of how to thematically bind your item more tightly.

----------

as a question: I got the green for jealousy, (though I thought the nauseating pale green communicates jealousy more accurately, that's very much a personal opinion) and thought it appropriate, but liked the idea of the courtesan concealing her jealousy ...most of the time.

What did you think of the idea of the aquamarine, and how it doesn't get thick thick green until the poison is in it? Did that work for you?

Dark Archive Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

CripDyke wrote:
An incredible amount of insight.

Thank you very much for all of the time you invested in critiquing my entry. It will take me some time to fully digest it, but I absolutely will keep referencing it prior to next year's contest and every one thereafter until I win it all. Even then, this will be something I will read up on time to time.

That was the most brutally honest and thorough criticism I've had of any of my writing throughout my entire life, and I am immensely grateful for it. Thank you again, I needed to read that. I needed this experience. Thank you.

Sincerely yours,
Dieben

Marathon Voter Season 9

Lucky Pips wrote:
CripDyke wrote:


I'm only going to do reviews for people who very specifically ask, and maybe not even all of you, depending on how many are interested.
I would appreciate your critique, but with that high level of detail I would not be surprised if you don;t have the time to get to it. Figured I would throw my hat in the ring though. Thanks for posting these wonderfully thorough works. I've gleaned a lot by reading them for other items.

I'm going to ditto this on my item, the Stirgenest Quiver. Your critiques are incredibly thorough, and I could really use some insight on where the nest fell short. It gave me a lot of trouble.

Sovereign Court Marathon Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Lucky Pips wrote:
CripDyke wrote:


I'm only going to do reviews for people who very specifically ask, and maybe not even all of you, depending on how many are interested.
I would appreciate your critique, but with that high level of detail I would not be surprised if you don;t have the time to get to it. Figured I would throw my hat in the ring though. Thanks for posting these wonderfully thorough works. I've gleaned a lot by reading them for other items.
I'm going to ditto this on my item, the Stirgenest Quiver. Your critiques are incredibly thorough, and I could really use some insight on where the nest fell short. It gave me a lot of trouble.

Similar request for my mask of cheerful demeanor. I really thought I had a shot, all the way to the end.

Also, very impressed with your critical analysis. I'm not as good at it. ^_^

Dark Archive Marathon Voter Season 9

Kalindlara wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Lucky Pips wrote:
CripDyke wrote:


I'm only going to do reviews for people who very specifically ask, and maybe not even all of you, depending on how many are interested.
I would appreciate your critique, but with that high level of detail I would not be surprised if you don;t have the time to get to it. Figured I would throw my hat in the ring though. Thanks for posting these wonderfully thorough works. I've gleaned a lot by reading them for other items.
I'm going to ditto this on my item, the Stirgenest Quiver. Your critiques are incredibly thorough, and I could really use some insight on where the nest fell short. It gave me a lot of trouble.

Similar request for my mask of cheerful demeanor. I really thought I had a shot, all the way to the end.

Also, very impressed with your critical analysis. I'm not as good at it. ^_^

I also wouldn't mind more feedback, I have by now a rather good idea about what I did wrong, but more I hear feedback more I learn what I should have done differently :'D

Star Voter Season 7

This was mine.

Drunken Bow
Aura moderate conjuration, faint necromancy; CL 11th
Slot none; Price 45,380 gp; Weight 2 lbs.
Description
This reddish maple wood shortbow has many carvings across its length, seeming hollow inside. It has a replacement bowstring with a cradle attached, like the one on a flask thrower. It can be used to hurl alchemical substances and splash weapons. A flask containing a contact or inhaled poison can be thrown as a splash weapon from this bow; an inhaled poison thrown this way will affect creatures as a poison bomb ninja trick, while a contact poison will have full effect on a direct hit and allow a +4 on the save to a splashed creature.
The bow may be “charged” by pouring a mug of alcoholic drink in its carvings, making them appear “full” and glow red. When so “charged”, the drunken bow becomes a +2 endless ammunition shortbow for an hour. On a critical hit, the target is sickened for 1 minute.
Construction
Requirements Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Sickening Critical, ray of sickening; Cost 23,190 gp

I realized too late that I shouldn't have mentioned the flask thrower. :facepalm:

Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Janvs

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Jacob W. Michaels wrote:

I suppose I'd like to hear people's thoughts on my item. I fought with it a lot -- pricing, different delivery methods, etc. -- so I can't say I'm shocked it didn't make it to the Top 32.

Anathema Brand

I'm honestly a little shocked that this didn't make it into the top 32. The execution was a little ponderous, but the idea was solid and the mechanics were excellent. I must have voted for this a dozen times or more.

Star Voter Season 9

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Davic The Grey wrote:

Staff of Perfect Harmony

Aura: Moderate Abjuration; CL13th
Slot None; Price 53,000 gp; Weight8 lbs.
Description
This +3 quarterstaff is made from entwined darkwood and ivory, capped on each end with a warding palm made of electrum. The wielder of the Staff of Perfect Harmony can sunder a spell that targets her or a spell that includes her in it's area of effect as an immediate action, as the barbarian rage power spell sunder. Instead of surpressing the effect upon exceeding the CMD of the spell, the wielder instead gains a +2 circumstance bonus on the save to resist the spell, or +3 if she exceeded the CMD by 5 to 9. If the effect would be completely dispelled it still affects other targets and creatures as normal. This ability is useable three times per day. If the wielder is a monk of at least 9th level, she can expend 3 points from her ki pool to use this ability instead.
Construction
Requirements Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Improved Sunder, Dispel Magic, creator must be a monk of at least 9th level; Cost 26,500 gp

Thanks in advance, feel free to rip me apart.

Slightly shameful bump. I know I got up to the fourth cull, so people definitely had opinions on it. Any feedback would be appreciated.

Marathon Voter Season 9

armytroy wrote:

Into the fray I throw the Rogueblade. I realize now that the pricing is wrong (masterwork is not doubled) but I would like honest opinions regarding the rest of it. Thanks all and Go Top 32!!

Rogueblade
Aura moderate conjuration; CL 9th
Slot none; Price 9,560 gp; Weight 2 lbs.
Description
It is difficult to see the swirling smoke pattern etched into this blackened +2 short sword however once its special powers are revealed it is obvious that this is a weapon designed to appeal to those with a roguish bent. When the pommel ring is unscrewed and the wielder peers inside they see the inky blackness and seemingly endless depths of a bag of holding . Smaller than the smallest of known magical bags, , this shadowy blade’s extradimensional space can hold 50 lbs. and measures at only 10 cubic ft. in volume. If the item can fit into the one and a half inch opening where the pommel ring normally resides then it can be placed in the sword. Common items include lock picks, potions, pitons, silken rope and other tools of thievery. Items placed in the rogueblade can be retrieved as a full round action, rather than the standard action normally attributed to bags of holding. The pommel ring is designed to have rope tied to it and in a pinch the peculiar curve of the swords crosspiece allows the rogueblade to be used as a grappling hook. The weapon will not reflect light due to the tempering process used on the blade which creates its blackened luster.
Construction
Requirements Craft Magic Arms and Armor, secret chest; Cost 4,780 gp

I really liked this item. Only critique is the listing of common item examples. Perhaps referring to a typical rogue's cache of necessities would of sounded better. Also, describing a matte black finish as a luster is contradictory. These are minor though. I saw the item quite a few times and do not think I ever had to down vote it. Good Job.


RyanH wrote:


Diver's Float

Fun item.

Boring template stuff: You don't need the leather or feet of rope in the construction requirements. If it truly is below 1/2 lb then you should use an EM dash, but the way this item is described I think it would weigh at least a pound or two. It seems like the player would actually wear this item, so 'user' should read 'wearer' instead.

Low-level magic items are the best because most games end up being low level.

Does the item let you hold your breath forever? Does it allow you to dive as deep as you want, regardless of pressure? As the item currently reads, it doesn't. The price of the item suggests that this is intentional. I think maybe it should do one or both of these things to fit the theme.

I like your imagination. Keep it up!

Sovereign Court Marathon Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Kalindlara wrote:

Mask of Cheerful Demeanor

Aura moderate enchantment; CL 7th
Slot head; Price 4,500 gp; Weight 4 lbs.
Description
When worn, this mask is absorbed into the wearer’s face, leaving no sign of its presence; it remains absorbed until the wearer intentionally removes it (a full-round action that requires both hands), or until the wearer’s death. The wearer’s face always keeps a smile – delighted, sweet, sad, or whatever the situation calls for, but never appearing forced or false. Her voice is cheerful and enthusiastic, and in conversation, her words are naturally positive and inspiring.

The wearer of a mask of cheerful demeanor gains a +5 competence bonus on Diplomacy checks. She also gains a +10 bonus on Bluff checks made for the specific purpose of hiding her own negative emotions (fear, discomfort, anger, etc.) The mask’s effects make it difficult for the wearer to inspire fear in others; she takes a -10 penalty on Intimidate checks, and any fear effect she produces has its DC reduced by 4.

In addition, the wearer gains a +4 morale bonus on saving throws against mind-affecting effects that rely on negative emotions (such as crushing despair, rage, or fear effects). If the wearer is subject to the effects of calm emotions, this morale bonus is suppressed for the duration of that effect.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, good hope, remove fear, creator must have 5 ranks in the Diplomacy skill; Cost 2,250 gp

Also shame-bumping (although in part because I'm paranoid that people simply didn't see mine - it was right near the end of page 1.)

Liberty's Edge Star Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Davic The Grey wrote:
Davic The Grey wrote:

Staff of Perfect Harmony

Aura: Moderate Abjuration; CL13th
Slot None; Price 53,000 gp; Weight8 lbs.
Description
This +3 quarterstaff is made from entwined darkwood and ivory, capped on each end with a warding palm made of electrum. The wielder of the Staff of Perfect Harmony can sunder a spell that targets her or a spell that includes her in it's area of effect as an immediate action, as the barbarian rage power spell sunder. Instead of surpressing the effect upon exceeding the CMD of the spell, the wielder instead gains a +2 circumstance bonus on the save to resist the spell, or +3 if she exceeded the CMD by 5 to 9. If the effect would be completely dispelled it still affects other targets and creatures as normal. This ability is useable three times per day. If the wielder is a monk of at least 9th level, she can expend 3 points from her ki pool to use this ability instead.
Construction
Requirements Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Improved Sunder, Dispel Magic, creator must be a monk of at least 9th level; Cost 26,500 gp

Thanks in advance, feel free to rip me apart.

Slightly shameful bump. I know I got up to the fourth cull, so people definitely had opinions on it. Any feedback would be appreciated.

It was on my Keep list. I wish to take a shot at several other items too, but rest assured that your item's time will come ;-)

Star Voter Season 9

The Raven Black wrote:
Davic The Grey wrote:
Davic The Grey wrote:

Staff of Perfect Harmony

Aura: Moderate Abjuration; CL13th
Slot None; Price 53,000 gp; Weight8 lbs.
Description
This +3 quarterstaff is made from entwined darkwood and ivory, capped on each end with a warding palm made of electrum. The wielder of the Staff of Perfect Harmony can sunder a spell that targets her or a spell that includes her in it's area of effect as an immediate action, as the barbarian rage power spell sunder. Instead of surpressing the effect upon exceeding the CMD of the spell, the wielder instead gains a +2 circumstance bonus on the save to resist the spell, or +3 if she exceeded the CMD by 5 to 9. If the effect would be completely dispelled it still affects other targets and creatures as normal. This ability is useable three times per day. If the wielder is a monk of at least 9th level, she can expend 3 points from her ki pool to use this ability instead.
Construction
Requirements Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Improved Sunder, Dispel Magic, creator must be a monk of at least 9th level; Cost 26,500 gp

Thanks in advance, feel free to rip me apart.

Slightly shameful bump. I know I got up to the fourth cull, so people definitely had opinions on it. Any feedback would be appreciated.
It was on my Keep list. I wish to take a shot at several other items too, but rest assured that your item's time will come ;-)

Thanks. Just knowing it was on someone's radar is wonderful to hear.


Davic The Grey wrote:

Staff of Perfect Harmony

Aura: Moderate Abjuration; CL13th

During voting, I thought the item was neat and had potential.

Boring Templating Stuff: take out capitalization in aura (moderate abjuration), slot (none), spells at the bottom (dispel magic)

Personally: I don't like class-specific items. I feel they should instead be transferred into an archetype.

Effect: I'm not super excited about what it does. I would've preferred the monk slapping the spell back to the spell caster as spell turning or something like that.

I think you did a good job with the price vs. intended level of use (that doesn't happen often).

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

meloriel wrote:

Chrysalis Cloak

Aura faint transmutation; CL 5th
Slot shoulders; Price 12,500 gp; Weight 1 lb.

Description
All transmutation spells, abilities and effects that the wearer of this stiff, mottled brown cloak become subject to have their caster level increased by one.

In addition, whenever the wearer of a chrysalis cloak becomes subject to such an effect, the cloak transforms into a pair of insectile wings, most often resembling those of a butterfly or moth. These wings grant the wearer a fly speed of 60 feet (maneuverability good) for one round per caster level of the transmutation spell, ability or effect that triggered the transformation.
Construction Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, Heighten Spell, fly; Cost 6,250 gp

So last year I submitted the Chrysalis Carapace armor...and that colored my judgement the first 2 times I saw this. I ended up voting for this nearly every other time I saw it after giving it a chance...but here goes my stream of consciousness review:

Good name, I expect butterflies or cocoons.

Interesting lead off...you get right to the power which is unusual in what is typically the descriptive sentence.

Speaking of descriptive...stiff and mottled brown. Hmm. It paints a picture but that's of a cocoon...and a dead cocoon at that. It is kind of a disconnect then to raise the CL by one (what if they are a fighter, do we get access to level 0 spells then? As what kind of caster?) I would have gone with a more vivid description, and assault the senses with a smell or a sound (smell IS connected strongly to memory).

"In addition". Don't use this or any of its variants. We can understand that this is an additional power and it weakens the writing.

Insectile wings don't make me think of butterflies or moths...they make me think of bees or flying ants. I'd look for a different description...or rethink using the butterfly or moth motif.

You can cut the word "maneuverability", fly speed 60 ft. (good) is the standard way. Even though 1 round per CL of spell isn't a big deal...there are level 0 transmutation spells and super cheap transmutation items which will make this pretty much an indefinite fly cloak. Even at 12,500 gp...this is still pretty cheap for unlimited flight.

I don't believe you need to capitalize the metamagic feat.

That's it...pretty short wordcount. So you've got brevity down, but I didn't really get a good sense of a description. Maybe spend 1 more sentence to fluff it up at the beginning.

Overall, this wasn't the best cloak I've ever seen but it was serviceable. I think you need to think a little more about the ramifications of your design choices, 1 caster level doesn't seem a lot but without rules language to specify what happens if you don't have CLs and without specifying a minimum spell level then you get some pretty unintentionally powerful things. You did good limiting to just transmutation (and that was spot on with the theme of emerging from a cocoon) and 1 round per CL...but I would have taken a bit of word count specifying minimum spell level 1st. Also, when reading the name of the cloak, I figured it did 1 of 2 things; grants wings for flight or give spell turning. Not necessarily a bad thing that you went with flight but it is an obvious choice and in the future you should look to play in out of the box areas like you did by granting +1 CL (although again, that had its own issues). Hope to see you stick around, I'd suggest checking out the Wayfinder 15 Open Call and submitting there. Tim and Paris are fantastic and all the editors are too. Plus, even if you don't get an article in, they are pretty good at giving you insight as to why if you email them.

Star Voter Season 9

JJ Jordan wrote:
Davic The Grey wrote:

Staff of Perfect Harmony

Aura: Moderate Abjuration; CL13th

During voting, I thought the item was neat and had potential.

Boring Templating Stuff: take out capitalization in aura (moderate abjuration), slot (none), spells at the bottom (dispel magic)

Personally: I don't like class-specific items. I feel they should instead be transferred into an archetype.

Effect: I'm not super excited about what it does. I would've preferred the monk slapping the spell back to the spell caster as spell turning or something like that.

I think you did a good job with the price vs. intended level of use (that doesn't happen often).

Thanks. I know my template fu was somewhat weak, just couldn't see where. The intent was to make it themed without making it exclusive to the one class. Overall I was trying to gently fill the power gap between casters and martials by giving them an item almost any class could use at least somewhat, while also using an existing rule as a baseline for power. I can see how it falls under the category of "class feature in a can" and that was probably what did me in.

Appreciate the feedback.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 9 aka Netopalis

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Damien Mc Gurrell wrote:

Testament of Pharasma

Aura moderate abjuration; CL 7th
Slot none;Price 10,500 gp; Weight 85 lbs.

Description
This mossy gravestone features the spiral symbol of Pharasma prominently on the front, and holy text chiseled on the reverse. The testament is carried using a looped rope on the user’s back.The testament of pharasma is a holy symbol of Pharasma that does not have to be held or retrieved to be used as a divine focus, but must remain visible. Once per day as a full round action, the user recites a litany from the reverse of the gravestone granting allies within 30 feet DR 5/- against the attacks of undead creatures for 1 minute.

Once per day the testament may be affixed to the ground. The gravestone then counts as a permanent fixture dedicated to Pharasma for the purposes of consecrate and spells that require such a fixture. This placing is activated as a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity.

An affixed testament of pharasma grants you total cover similar to using a tower shield for total cover; you choose the gravestone’s facing as if using a tower shield when it is placed. The gravestone is removed from its position as a move action using the command word, but otherwise remains affixed indefinitely.

Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, consecrate, greater shield of fortification; Cost 5,250 gp

I mainly stopped by to look for this item. I really, really enjoyed this one and voted for it every time it came up. I like the fact that the abilities play well into each other thematically, and that it gives an opportunity to use an oft-neglected part of a spell. I also like the use of tower shield mechanics without having to actually invest in the stuff for tower shields.

However, I also am fairly sure that you were downvoted by a lot of people who felt that you had too many disparate abilities with the same item. A lot of people downvote items that have four different abilities that are linked only thematically, and that was probably the case here. Most good RPG Superstar items do a single thing and do it well. On the whole, though, a fantastic entry that nearly made it into the top 32.

Meanwhile, if anybody would care to look at mine...

Quote:

Metallurgical Gauntlets

Aura faint evocation; CL 5th
Slot hands; Price 2,100 gp; Weight 1 lbs.
Description
Polished brass tubes sit between the knuckles of these sturdy leather gloves. Up to three times a day, as a standard action, the wearer of these gloves may shoot three magically-propelled needles at a specified target. Each needle automatically hits and deals one point of magical piercing damage. However, one of the darts is made of silver, a second of cold iron and a third of adamantine. By making a DC 15 Perception check, any combatant may determine which of these darts was most effective against the target. All three darts must be used against the same enemy.

Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, magic missile, minor creation; Cost 1,050 gp

A few comments:

My goal this year was to create something simple and efficient, trying to aim for the lower end of the word count. I also tend towards utilitarian items, which I realize aren't favored by certain voters in this contest. I do realize the mistake in calling these gauntlets - in retrospect, I should have used a different word.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan

Earthbind Manacles

Papasteve08 wrote:
Hey Tripp! Just wanted to say I liked these. The one big problem I personally had was the bit about negating things like freedom of movement. It might be nit-picky, but that feels like it contradicts the purpose of the spell. It is a 4th level spell, so it is an expensive resource to use just to have it negated. As a player, I would be very unhappy to have this used against me, and would feel kinda like cheating to use it against the GM.

Try giving them another read, they don't do what you think they do. The freedom of movement negation is only against the wearer when activated, so it can't be "used against" someone.

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