Friday, March 14, 2014

Serpent's Stash part III: Whispering Watcher

Back in 2011, I submitted this item that placed me in the top 36, i.e. I was an alt. I won't be reviewing the item this time, I'll just post the comments I got from the judges. Perhaps the lesson learned here is that I overthought the item and the judges could not magically read my thoughts. Also, removing the Stealth bonus was unnecessarily complicated. A simple blur effect would have been, in fact, much much better and something the rules already support.

Let me repeat that: Simple is better.

Whispering Watcher
Aura faint divination; CL 3rd
Slot —; Price 1,200 gp; Weight 1/2 lb.
This silver statuette, usually crafted in the shape of a crouching pseudodragon, quivers subtly when touched.
Three times per day as a standard action, when holding the statuette in hand, the user can mentally command it to open its mouth and emit powerful but inaudible vibrations in a 30-foot-radius burst. This is a sonic effect.
The air ripples around solid and liquid matter caught in the burst, making any invisible corporeal creatures and objects appear as blurred, indistinct shapes for three rounds. Affected creatures gain no bonus on Stealth checks for being invisible, but for all other purposes they are still considered invisible.
The vibrations do not affect visual figments like they affect real objects and creatures, and therefore, all creatures within line of sight receive a Will save to disbelieve any such illusions within the burst.
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, detect magic, ghost sound, see invisibility; Cost 600 gp
The judges' and guest judges' comments:

Neil Spicer (RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor), Wed, Dec 8, 2010, 04:33 AM  
Well. It's tight design according to the item's theme. It's a low-level item, which are often some of the hardest to do. It only works 3 times per day for only 3 rounds at a time, so it's not overpowered really. The "sonar" effect is a bit jarring to me. I'd imagine sound waves would need to be continuously generated for it to keep revealing invisible creatures (but maybe not illusions). But I guess the one thing I don't really like about it is that the invisible creatures that get revealed only lose their Stealth bonus. So, they still get to attack you with a +2 bonus and ignore your Dexterity modifier to AC? To me, the item doesn't go far enough if that's all it does. Kinda lacks mojo. Although the illusion-revealing element brings it back a bit.

Weak Reject from me.

Ryan Dancey (The Most Dangerous Man in Gaming), Wed, Dec 8, 2010, 07:25 AM  
I like it. Mechanically there have always been problems with invisibility and seen vs. unseen combatants in 3.x


Sean K Reynolds (Developer), Wed, Dec 8, 2010, 11:37 AM  
Technically this is a SIAC, but I like the sonic aspect of it, which makes it more than a simple SIAC. It's smart that this only affects corporeal creatures. The no-Stealth-bonus bit that leaves the other invis rules as a little odd (I would have liked a callout about miss chances and such), but I think it's neat.

Neil Spicer (RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor), Wed, Dec 8, 2010, 12:55 PM  
You know the more I think on this item, the more I wished they'd used mage's faithful hound in the construction of it. That way, the see invisibility thing would have been built into the spell effect. And the bark of the dog would explain the sonic highlighting of invisible enemies. And what dog is going to be fooled by an illusion? They follow their nose to know what's interesting or not. So, I think the designer missed a golden opportunity to really bring this item home by making the stauette a dog using that spell in the construction. That kind of synergy would have won me over.

Mark Moreland (Developer), Sat, Jan 8, 2011, 07:22 PM  
it's an interesting concept, and I like that it doesn't allow a save to avoid, but it seems like glitterdust or see invis, as 2nd level spells, would work just as well, and not have the strange effect on invisible creatures in terms of what benefits they get and which they don't. I don't think it's necessarily a bad item, but I also don't think it's one of the strongest. If the other three of you felt strongly to keep, I'd go along, but otherwise I say weak reject.

Alexander MacLeod (RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16, 2010 Top 4), Fri, Jan 14, 2011, 05:57 PM  
If the ripples cause things to appear blurred, why not have the item change all invisibility spells into blur spells right out? That would save all the trouble of removing only part of an effect.

Matt Goodall aka One (RPG Superstar 2010), Mon, Jan 17, 2011, 03:50 AM  
The name of this item is not really what it does. Maybe Keening Watcher? Invisibility has a fair amount of rules attached to it, and you need to play by those rules. I would prefer a blur effect, like the other judges. I don’t really get what the effect does to visible solid creatures in the area. Would this have any effect on hiding creatures? I like that it can reveal illusions but creatures would have to know what the air moving strangely around something means before they would get a new save to disbelieve. I would also prefer the statue keep making vibrations for a duration, with an emanation instead of a burst. The in-game problem is that this has a very weak effect even for its cost.

I like that you got the template right, and I like the visual of your item. 
I hope that you have a chance to compete in the next round.

Jim Groves aka Watcher (RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4), Tue, Jan 18, 2011, 07:10 AM  
Kudos on using my name! :D Unfortunately, that doesn't count for much.

Also, I like your description. Not too long and gets to the point while at the same time actually being descriptive.

Matt has really touched upon this for me; I think you needed to sit down with the invisibility rules and really worked through the interactions and different rules that come with it. I get that you wanted to temporarily disable the invisibility without nullifying it completely, but what you have needs some tweaking.

Having said that, I do believe you had your 'thinking cap', because you addressed corporeal invisible creatures versus the incorporeal ones. The clue about illusions is also nicely done. I think you were on the right track!

My hope is that you wont remain hidden, and are able to progress to further Rounds. Thank you for this credible effort!

No comments :

Post a Comment

A Sword for Hire