Design Finder Turnover – Designer’s Perspective

With the announcement of Design Finder 2018, many writers, players, and games masters put forth their best efforts at making the Top 16. As somebody who is at least two of those, and aspires to be all three, I put together a handful of ideas that I wanted to work on. I wrote down the basic ideas, and then set them aside to revisit later. I got caught up with life outside of gaming and almost forgot about the deadline. One evening, I put my kids to bed and checked online for the deadline to figure out how much time I had left to revisit my items only to find out that I had one hour left! Holy smokes was I freaked out. I then spent the next 50 minutes figuring out which of my items I wanted to use, then figuring out the correct stats and layout needed to make the submission correct. Instead of not submitting anything, I wanted to take my chances and submit what I had. I made it by two minutes!

Not surprising, my first draft did not make it into the Top 16. I was speaking with friends about the ordeal, and again later with my wife when I realized that I never bothered to put my first draft through any editing passes to become the final version that I wanted it to be. I decided that I wanted to edit the item to give it the treatment that it deserved to make it a much stronger contender for the competition, as well as providing better content to anybody that follows my blog. The competition was strong, and it is entirely possible that my core concept wasn’t one that could have competed with the best, but I wanted to show how I could have done better. I thought it would be fun to do so with the help of some other Know Direction writers. Enjoy!


Healer’s Harrow Deck
Aura moderate conjuration CL 5
Slot -; Price 7,500 gp; Weight

Description

The illustrations of this harrow deck contain a strong nature theme. Instead of simple parchment, each card is made of a unique plant’s roots, leaves, and petals that were carefully cut, preserved, and stitched together. When a quick harrow reading is performed as part of treating poison or disease, the reader gains a +5 competence bonus on the Heal check.

Once per day, a variant 10 minute harrow reading can be performed over somebody that is diseased, nauseated, or sickened to suppress the effects. They also receive a +4 morale bonus on saving throws for these effects. This lasts for 10 minutes.

Once per week, a special hour long harrow reading can be performed over somebody to cure them of disease. The reader must make a heal check against the DC of the disease to be cured. Success means the disease is cured.

Construction

Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, remove sickness, remove disease; Cost 3,750 gp


I have rewritten the description of the item to include much more flavor than the simple crunch that my original draft was made up of. One of the main reasons I wrote this item up is that I haven’t seen many variant Harrow decks, and only a couple of variant spreads from The Harrow Handbook. The following text is the new description, with an explanation of changes made to each paragraph in italics.

The cards of this harrow deck are made from roots, leaves, and petals that are carefully cut, preserved, and stitched together. Each card is made from a different plant commonly used by herbalists and healers for dealing with illnesses, poisons, and diseases and is the integrated into the illustration. In some cases the plant is simply rendered as a border to a classic harrow image while others replace the original imagery as the focal point. Anybody with 5 or more ranks in Profession (herbalist) that examines the deck is able to determine which plant or herb that each card represents. [This new opening paragraph provides a more in depth description of the cards, purpose, and expected user. This is much better than simply hinting the imagery is more nature based.]

Special harrow readings can be performed as part of treating illness, poison, or disease to assist with the treatment. The name of the condition to be treated is whispered into the deck as it is shuffled, causing cards that represent plants helpful to the cure to fall onto the subject to be healed, giving the healer a +5 competence bonus on the Heal check. [Giving the base function of the cards a description provides GMs and players alike flavor that they can use in play instead of simply “I use the deck”.]

Once per day, a variant 10 minute harrow reading using a spread called The Daisy can be performed over somebody that is diseased, nauseated, or sickened to suppress the effects. Upon completion, 26 cards appear as the spread’s namesake and the subject receives a +4 morale bonus on saving throws against these effects for the next 10 minutes. [Providing a new spread name and hint at card layout greatly expands on the flavor for those that enjoy using Harrow decks.]

Once per week, a special hour long harrow reading using a spread called The Lotus can be performed over somebody to cure them of disease. Upon completion, a dozen cards representing the flower allow the reader to attempt a Heal check against the DC of the disease to be cured. Success means the disease is cured. [The same logic as the previous spread.]

Optionally, the deck may be used as a scroll of Remove Disease by spending a standard action to shout the name of the disease into the deck as it is shuffled. Doing so drains the deck of all magic for one week. [I wanted the strongest power to be usable quickly, but with a trade off. I think this function does that while still feeling like the item I wanted it to be; a harrow deck that’s power is from how the cards are manipulated. Tying it back to the base power’s function provides two card shuffle powers and two spread readings.]

These paragraphs represent much more descriptive and memorable text than the original draft that I had written up. The contest’s submission guidelines, however, limit the entire entry to 300 words and this new description is just over 300 words alone. To complete the item to make a valid entry, let’s put together a final version and shave a few words out of the description to make it work. I reworded a few things and removed a few extra words (like “that”) until I got the same base concept but at a reduced word count. This version is exactly 300 words according to my word counting widget. I hope you enjoyed reading my process for taking a draft of an item through to a final product. Stay tuned as Luis Loza tears into my original draft from a professional editing perspective!


Healer’s Harrow Deck
Aura faint conjuration CL 5th
Slot —; Price 7,500 gp; Weight

Description

The cards of this harrow deck are made from roots, leaves, and petals that are carefully cut, preserved, and stitched together. Each card is made from a different plant commonly used by herbalists and healers for dealing with illnesses, poisons, and diseases and is the integrated into the illustration. In some cases the plant is simply rendered as a border to a classic harrow image while others replace the original imagery as the focus. Anybody with 5 or more ranks in Profession (herbalist) examining the deck is able to determine which plant or herb each card represents.

Special harrow readings can be performed as part of treating illness, poison, or disease to assist the treatment. The name of the condition to be treated is whispered into the deck as it is shuffled, giving the healer a +5 competence bonus on the Heal check.

Once per day, a variant 10 minute harrow reading using a spread called The Daisy can be performed over somebody that is diseased, nauseated, or sickened to suppress the effects. The subject receives a +4 morale bonus on saving throws against these effects for the next 10 minutes.

Once per week, a special hour long harrow reading using a spread called The Lotus can be performed over somebody to cure them of disease. The reader attempts a Heal check against the DC of the disease to be cured. Success means the disease is cured. Optionally, spending a standard action to shout the name of the disease into the deck as it is shuffled can create this same effect. Doing so drains the deck of all magic for one week.

Construction

Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, remove sickness, remove disease; Cost 3,750 gp

Randal Meyer

As a lover of crunch (rules and numbers), Randal is always tinkering with rules options. His love of magic users has led him to always fuss with the mechanics of magic and magic items. Years of GMing on the fly have given him vast amounts of ideas and content from which to draw on for adventures (ideas, plots, NPCs). When not working, playing with his kids, bowling, or running a PF campaign, Randal is likely writing some new mobile web app to enhance the experience of playing Pathfinder!

2 Comments

  1. Hello, I am no expert but I think the main reason you did not advance is that you may have had an instant disqualification as the rules state that it may be DQ if:
    “Submission uses rules that are not found on the PRD”
    And the harrow rules are NOT part of the PRD.
    The entry itself has a few formatting issues, and the revised entry does not have the requirement spells alphabetized.
    One of the most important things about freelancing is making sure you read and understand exactly what they are asking of you, and while your item is cool, it does not adhere to the contest rules.

    • Randal Meyer Reply to Randal

      Thank you for the reply and input. Because I didn’t get into anything specific in the Harrow rules, I had felt that this item was just a magical version of the Harrow Deck that can be bought as equipment and I confirmed that Harrow Deck was in the PRD equipment list. It would be nice to know for the future if that was a disqualifying factor. I completely agree that my numerous formatting issues were likely a big factor, aside from the boring quality of the original submission. The incorrect order of the spells in my final version is really funny because I know I fixed it but remember thinking for some reason thought I hadn’t, so I put them in the wrong order again!

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