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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Gallery of Rejection: Self-Rejection edition

So just a few days ago was the end of the first stage of Piazo's RPG Superstar contest. I submitted an entry there and so later this month I'll learn whether or not I'll be one of the lucky 32 entrants to move on to the next round or whether or not the Gallery of Rejection will have a new entry.

But before that happened I figured I'd throw out the ideas that I rejected. The contest requires that you design (in 300 words or less) an interesting and useful Wondrous Item suitable for Piazo's Pathfinder system (i.e. D&D 3.75 for those of you who somehow have not come across it). In addition to creativity and utility the item is also judged by how well it follows the magic item creation guidelines and accurate pricing.

You get only one entry each year and it's got to stand on it's own (so no creator hyping or explanation) so obviously there's a lot of pressure to make sure that your item is the very best you can come up with. Which makes it pretty odd that the item that actually got submitted was one I came up with in the shower the night before the contest ends. Obviously since the contest is still ongoing I'm not going to go into that idea just yet.

But here are the item concepts that didn't make the cut. These are not complete magic items...rather they're prototypes that never quite got off the drawing board. There's two reasons I'm sharing them. One because I think it's interesting and I haven't made enough posts recently. The other is the fact that by posting these ideas I'm disqualifying them from future Superstar contest entries. This means that in the future I'll be forced to come up with a fresh idea rather than mulling over a bunch of previous ideas that I've already rejected.

1) Alchemical Scabbard 
This is a heavy scabbard decorated with shining copper and alchemical symbols. The scabbard's magic is activated by pouring alchemical substances into the mouth of the scabbard. It can accept either alchemist's fire, acid or liquid ice. When the substance in question is poured into the mouth of the scabbard it will vanish with an audible gurgle. Attempting to mix multiple alchemical substances or filling it with any alchemical substances other than the three listed above causes a cloud of foul-smelling smoke and a nasty sputtering sound. Filling it with any other liquids simply makes a mess.

When the scabbard has been filled with 100 gp worth of the appropriate liquid then it will become active and the symbols will emit a dull glow. When a weapon is placed inside (the scabbard resizes itself to fit any sword) an active scabbard then it will become infused with elemental energy and add +1d6 damage of the appropriate element to the weapon (which does not stack with bonuses like Flaming or Frost) for 5 hours. If the weapon is not magical then it also gains a +1 enhancement bonus but the elemental energies ravage it and it gains the broken condition at the end of the duration.

Why I rejected it: Not sure. It just never struck me as "great" in any way. The mechanic was clunky and didn't really jive with any existing mechanic and I didn't see it as being too popular with players considering the expense (by the time the players can afford to toss out several alchemical items they can probably afford to just use a spell to enchant their weapon). These were probably fixable problems but I was short on time and this one just didn't inspire me.

2) Spare Heart

This is a small, mummified rabbit's heart wrapped in a web of black iron wire and worn as a necklace. The device will activate itself if the wearer is damaged by a successful critical hit or sneak attack or if they are reduced to 0 hit points or below by any damage source. The heart only activates if the wearer survives the attack. Once activated the heart bursts

First, when activated the heart casts the spell Cure Serious Wounds on the wearer, healing 3d8+5 damage immediately. Secondly, the heart creates a detailed illusion of gruesome wounds and dramatic damage. The form of the illusion is appropriate to the attack that triggers the heart: a sword slash will produce a deep cut and a spray of blood while a fireball will produce the stench of charred flesh and burns covering the wearer's body. The wearer may "play dead" as an immediate action, making a Disguise roll at +10 to appear mortally wounded by the attack (the illusion will even mute the wearer's pulse and breathing). Alternatively they may make a Bluff roll (also with a +10 bonus) as an immediate action to appear alive but critically wounded. This Bluff roll can also be used as a Feint against the attacking opponent.

Why I rejected it: I think the idea is cool and interesting...but when I think about how this item will work in play I think it'd be really annoying. As a player if you run into an NPC villian with one of these it'll probably just be used as a cheap ploy to get out of a losing fight (and if there's one thing I've learned it's that players don't tend to appreciate it when a bad guy they think they've beaten vanishes). If it's used by the players it'll be too uncontrollable and unpredictable...good for a life-saver in some situations but most players would probably just prefer a protective amulet that's always useful over this one shot device.

3) Bottled Storm

A large bottle of black glass plugged with a thick cork. Very faint sounds of rainfall and the distant rumble of thunder can be heard from inside. Unplugging the bottle releases the torrential rainstorm held inside. The effect of the storm depends on how long the bottle remains uncorked (see below). Replacing the cork requires a DC 18 Strength check to overcome the intense force of wind and rain that pour out.
1st round: Intense gusts of wind and pounding rain spew from the opening in the bottle and continue for three rounds, in addition to the effects of the following rounds. The wind and rain fill a 60’ cone emanating from the mouth of the bottle (every round anyone holding the bottle can choose to change the direction as a free action once per round). The storm produces gale force wind and heavy rain in that area.
2nd round: A bolt of lightning emanates from the mouth of the bottle (10d6 damage, DC 14).
3rd round: An intense blast of thunder duplicating a Shout spell emanates from the mouth of the bottle.
4th round: The wind and rain calm, producing no significant effect and dropping the DC to cork the bottle to 12
5th round: The storm pours out and rises into the sky. This creates an area of thunderstorm weather conditions in a 3 mile radius, lasting 8d12 hours. 
            If the bottle is not recorked by the 5th round then any magical properties are permanently lost when the storm is released. 

Why I rejected it: I really, really liked this item. It had a unique mechanic, it was potentially very useful in a wide variety of situations  and it was cool. That said I honestly had no idea how this item should be priced and that was just as much a part of the contest as the item idea itself. Not to mention the item's odd mechanics produced a ton of "what-if" situations and potentially abusive techniques and the item was already pushing the 300 word limit. 

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