Vox Rod - Balancing Advice?


Homebrew


I want to make a magic item, which would be described as a short rod capped with a small steel drum suspended inside a metal hoop. It is always active as long as it is wielded, and is used by speaking into the drum. It replicates everything said, which can be amplified by up to four times the original volume, or may alter the resulting voice to sound as though it belonged to a different demographic. It uses the speaker's voice as the base voice, can only originate from the rod, and may not be used to impersonate another individual or translate the contents of the message.

I want to balance it to be appropriate to get as early as reasonably possible. Any advice?


This seems closest to the spells Ghost Sound, Ventriloquism, or Clarion Call, though it doesn't do exactly the same thing as any of them. Ghost Sound is a cantrip, while Ventriloquism and Clarion Call are 1st-level spells. I think calling this equivalent to a 1st-level spell is fair.

This is a "use-activated or continuous" magic item, so according to the Magic Item Creation rules, it should cost 2,000gp per spell level (so just 2,000 in our case).

You can reduce the cost to 1800gp by making it "command word activated", which makes it take a standard action to use. You can further reduce the cost by giving it limited uses per day, cutting the cost to 20% of the original plus 20% more for each additional daily use.

You can't really get the cost lower than that without crafting cheese. If you're okay with it being 1-2 uses per day, you could fit it in a level 1 character's starting wealth with the Rich Parents trait.


Don't sweat the cost. You have to be really cleaver to get any use out of it so I would have it in the possession of a goblin.

The vermin is using it to wake people up at night signing its bloody awful songs.


"Don't sweat the cost"--seconded. It's a microphone with some voice alteration.

If you really want math, I'd consider Ghost Sound.
Caster level × spell level × 2,000 = 1,000gp (0-level spells count as 0.5)
But since it has a worse range and less options, I'd halve that for 500gp.

Then, because I don't want it to count towards much in the way of character wealth and the restrictions on it remove the best parts of the spell, I'd halve it again for 250gp.


Not wholly unreasonable, but questionable. Ghost Sound can't replicate comprehensible speech- you need Ventriloquism for that, which- as I noted- is a 1st-level spell and not a cantrip.


Ventriloquism - or echo -seem like reasonable spells to base the item on.


Why do people bring up Ventriloquism, which does nothing but move your voice somewhere else, when the rod explicitly doesn't allow your voice to come from strange places (only from the rod itself, which has to be wielded and spoken into)?

On the other hand, Vocal Alteration does everything except the amplification. It's also spell level 1.

Since Vocal Alteration also allows for disguises, while the rod explicit doesn't, it probably also warrants a discount.

Vocal Alteration + Clarion Call does pretty much everything you're describing. And Clarion Call's "ability to create a sound like the blast of a mighty horn or trumpet" could be re-flavored as that noise that happens when microphones/speakers are in a feedback loop.


Quixote wrote:

If you really want math, I'd consider Ghost Sound.

Caster level × spell level × 2,000 = 1,000gp (0-level spells count as 0.5)

"If a continuous item has an effect based on a spell with a duration measured in rounds, multiply the cost by 4. If the duration of the spell is 1 minute/level, multiply the cost by 2, and if the duration is 10 minutes/level, multiply the cost by 1.5. If the spell has a 24-hour duration or greater, divide the cost in half."

Ghost Sound is rounds/level, so it'd be 4k, technically.
Vocal Alteration would be at the same price, since while it's a 1st level spell, it's also minutes/level.
Clarion Call would be 3k (because 10 minutes/Level), and then further reduced to 2250 by the "Multiple Similar Abilities" clause when combined with Vocal Alteration.
And then, all of that would have to get doubled for being slotless, to a total of 12500 Gold. (Either Ghost Sound or Vocal Alteration alone would be 8k.)

But in the end, and this is the most important part, all of these are just guidelines, not hard rules.


Pan, definitely not a Kitsune wrote:


Ghost Sound is rounds/level, so it'd be 4k, technically.

And then, all of that would have to get doubled for being slotless, to a total of 12500 Gold. (Either Ghost Sound or Vocal Alteration alone would be 8k.)

True. Though I'd argue that the point of having duration effect the price is strongly nullified when the spell can normally be cast at-will.

Also, slotless items are those that are worn or carried in some fashion other than holding them in your hand. Since this is a rod (microphone), it's use activated.

Still, I'd stick with 250gp and call it a day. Though I wouldn't expect a player to hold into it for long.

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