RPG Superstar Task – Design A Wondrous Item – Choose Your Base Item

Let Us Begin

PaizoNow, we have read and understood the competition round rules, it is time to start designing our entry – a wondrous item.

Put the books away – NOW!

The first thing I want you to do is put away the books / PRD / pdfs!

That’s right.

At the moment we don’t need them. I want you to think about your base item only and not to be distracted by can do and cannot do in the rules.

Forget the rules for now. We can work them into the design once we know what we are designing.

Inspiration is all around you!

Now, we need something that hasn’t be chosen before, so let’s see…


In my garden this year, I had a plague of snails and slugs. Let’s use that as inspiration and choose a base item of a snail shell. It’s something we are all familiar with – that’s a plus point for getting the public attention. On the flip side, the public are probably going to go yuk, and possibly be put off by such an item – something to bear in mind.

So this is probably a good choice for demonstrating item design as right off the bat, I am going to have problems with visuals, public perception and making it superstar. For demonstration, a perfect choice, as an entry for the competition, maybe not so much.

Ok, do we all have an item in mind? We do! Great!

What makes your Item Special?

Now, we must ask ourselves what our item could do in a magical world. How could it be wondrous – to inspire wonder in a magical world. If we can do this, our public vote battle is going to be so much easier.

Back to our snail shell. Well, it’s like a wind instrument, so maybe it could be attached to  a bardic instrument to enhance bardic performance. No, that has two problems, it’s not very superstar to buff a buff and worse still, I am only going to get votes from players of bards. Yes, single class items can go against you in public voting – I found this to my cost in 2012 when I submitted a ranger only item!

I might come back to sound enhancements though as they have possibilities and playing with sound over visual effects is something less done and so likely to grab the voters eye.

Go Crazy When Short-listing Magical Possibilities

So what other properties could we have? Let’s get crazy.

Swallowing the shell causes it to traverse your internal body to encase your heart in a protective shell (or even travelling up into your skull to encase your brain and give it protection from illusions or psionic attacks. Now the problem here is Paizo don’t have psionics in their product line – psionics are currently catered for by a 3PP. And we can’t use 3PP products – so glad we read those rules! 😉

It still doesn’t grab me much.

Ok, what about jumping into the snail shell causes you to be shrunk momentarily and become smothered in snail slime? This could protect you from acid or fire attacks, it could make you slippery and hard to grab or grapple, or it could make you super sticky for climbing or grabbing and holding better. The problem is, the yukky factor is still very high. On the other hand, I can hear all the Ghostbusters fan’s saying “he slimed me!”.

Keep thinking – all the time!

Don’t give up hope though, keep thinking of ideas… jumping in and shrinking…

What if it allowed you a temporary size change? If you use the wide opening of the shell, you spin in place shrinking one size category for a short duration, and if you activate using the central point of the shell swirl, it allows you to grow one size category. This has possibilities. It has a visual element to it, and has definite game impacts without breaking the rules too much. It’s still probably not exciting enough to be a superstar item, so we need to think more about it.

It may take longer than you think!

I need to spend another day thinking about things the item could do. Maybe changing focus to the occupant of the shell as a source of inspiration too.

Taking a Break is important!

So, I will take a break here, and think some more. I don’t want to settle on a choice of effect yet as I want to exhaust all possibilities my brain can invent. You should do the same, don’t leap on something that fits, take the time to consider all your options. If your first reaction is the best choice, then that’s all good, but at least you will know that there wasn’t a better effect or choice for your item.

Remember, don’t think in game terms right now, think about what you could do if magic were real. Go wild, decide on something with visuals that grab the minds eye.

Coming Next

In the next blog, we will look at my last thoughts for the base item, shortlisting the effects and choosing the core theme of the design from those effects and ideas.

A new resource has been added to the resources page and a few publishers have now joined the publishers directory, so if you haven’t checked those out recently, it may be worth a look see.

Take care and keep thinking!

Anthony Adam (Template Fu)

Anthony Adam