Keyword Design – “Singleton”

In Keyword Design, I use a single word as inspiration for a mundane item, a magic item, a feat, a spell, and a class option. Today’s word is “Singleton” as suggested by Peter.

Peter’s suggestions were technical and tied to computer language, but they also lend themselves to intriguing keywords. One definition of singleton, for example, is “a set that contains exactly one element.” That goes against how options are generally written in a party-based game, and gave me some interesting ideas.  

Mundane Item  Armour Jack  Don heavy armour yourself with an armour jack.
Magic Item Narcissist’s Mirror  Target your reflections as though it is your ally.
Feat Step Up and Feint Feint when you use Step Up.
Spell Loneliness Subject becomes invisible to others, and vice versa.
Class Option Selfist A cleric archetype for worshiping yourself.

New Mundane Items
Cost: 150 gp Weight 5 lbs
This metal hook rack can be stacked into the ground or other soft surface, or used to hold out of reach pieces of armour in place to aid with donning armour. An armour jack allows a character to don armour that normally requires help by themselves without incurring the penalty for donning hastily.

I was so close to giving up on a mundane singleton item. Then I remembered that there is an obscure rule that says a character cannot don half-plate or full plate by themselves. Enter the armour jack, the squire for the squireless knight.

New Magic Item
Aura moderate enchantment; CL 9th
Slot none; Price 11 000 gp; Weight 1/2 lb.
When the wielder casts a spell that affects multiple creatures, including the wielder, such as a spell with an area of effect or with multiple targets, they can, as a swift action that provokes attacks of opportunity, target only themselves and the narcissist mirror instead. In doing so, the spell is cast as if one of the following metamagic feats was applied to it, without using up a higher level spell slot: Empower Spell, Enlarge Spell, Extend Spell, Silent Spell, or Widen Spell.
The wielder must strike a different pose in the mirror for every eligible target of the spell.
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, collaborative thaumaturgy, smug narcissism; Cost 5500 gp

My favourite part about this item is that the wielder needs to strike a different pose for each ally they are not targeting, like the mirror is tricking the spell into thinking the caster is a different person because they’re pouting their lips or winking. Runner up is that using this item provokes an attack of opportunity, creating the ever so satisfying moment where the vain character lets their beauty distract them enough that a focused character catches them off guard.

New Feat
When you follow a moving foe, you can take advantage of their surprise.
Prerequisites: Dex 13, Int 13, Following Step, Improved Feint, Step Up, base attack bonus +6.
Benefit: When using the Step Up or Following Step feats to follow an adjacent foe, you can make a Bluff check to feint against that foe as part of your 5-foot step. If you have Step Up and Strike, you may also make a single melee attack against that foe after your feint attempt.

This might be the greatest feat I have ever designed. Rogues are constantly looking for ways to get sneak attack without having to rely on their allies. This lets them rely on their opponents! It also builds on the reaction Step Up tends to get at the table. I’ve had GMs in year-long campaigns genuinely surprised every encounter when a PC with Step Up uses it. If Step Up catches GMs flatfooted, surely it can do the same for characters.

New Spell
School illusion (glamer) [mind-affecting]; Level bard 4, mesmerist 4, occultist 4, psychic 4, sorcerer/wizard 4, witch 4
Components V, S, M
Range close (25ft +5 ft/2 levels)
Area 30-ft.-radius emanation around the creature
Target a creature or object weighing no more than 100 lbs./level
Duration 1 min./level (D)
Saving Throw Will negates (harmless) or Will partial (harmless), see text; Spell Resistance yes
The target creature disappears from view of all creatures within 30 feet, as invisibility. Simultaneously, all creatures within 30 feet of the target creature appear invisible to the target, again as invisibility. Creatures outside of the 30-foot radius can see the creatures within the 30-foot radius, including the target creature, normally.
If the target creature succeeds at a Will save, the spell is negated. Any creature within the 30-foot radius that succeeds at a Will save can see the target creature but remains invisible to the target creature.

When the party in the D&D cartoon have to find the end of a rainbow, Eric the cavalier says it’s impossible because the closer you get to the end of a rainbow, the further away it gets. That’s the experience the target of this spell has when loneliness is used offensively. They can see allies 30 feet away. When they get closer, the allies disappear.
All of the other options I designed were “I can do this alone.” This one is “I’m so alone.”

New Class Option
SELFIST (new cleric archetype)
Domain Dominion: At 1st level, a selfist determines the four domains that best qualify their magnanimity. As a selfist likens herself to a god, she can choose the domains of any other god, other than alignment domains that do not match her alignment.
When she prepares her spells, the selfist first chooses which two of her four domains she gains the use of that day, including the domain powers and domain spells she gains access to.
This ability alters the cleric’s domains.
Favourite Weapon: At 1st level, a selfist chooses the weapon she considers her favoutite weapons. She can choose any weapon, however she is only automatically proficient with it if it is a simple or martial weapon. She can choose an exotic weapon, but she must take the Exotic Weapon proficiency feat to gain proficiency with the weapon.
This ability alters weapon and armor proficiency.
Spontaneous Self-Care: A selfist spontaneously casts cure spells, regardless of her alignment. However, the range of cure spells she spontaneously casts changes to personal. Cure spells with mass in their name (like Mass Cure Light Wounds) still only have a range of personal, but they cure the normal dice of damage + 2 points per caster level instead of 1.
An undead selfist casts inflict spells, following the same rules for a living selfist’s spontaneous casting.
This ability alters spontaneous casting.
Channel One (Su): A selfist channels positive energy, regardless of her alignment. Her channels restore 1d4 points of damage rather than 1d6, however she restores an additional 2 points of damage she’s taken per channel die rolled when she channels positive energy.
This ability alters channel energy.
Selective: At 2nd level, a selfist gains Selective Channel as a bonus feat.

When I Googled what you might call someone who worships themselves as a god, I was delighted to find there wasn’t just a word for it, there was a philosophy!
Cleric archetypes are tough. It’s the class with the fewest unique class features, so it’s hard to swap class features out. That’s why most cleric archetypes alter class features instead of replacing them. It’s also one of the least thematically flexible classes in one way (you worship a god and get magic for it) but one of the most thematically flexible classes in another way (worshipping a god of death is very different from worshipping a god of fire, and yet they can also be similar if you worship a god with access to both the fire and death domains). The selfist is the most flexible in the second regard (with access to all domains at character creation, it should be rare that two selfists be similar), while sticking to the less flexible aspect of the class. It’s a bit of a joke archetype, but a mechanically strong one, and one that makes a powerful solo boss.


Thanks again to Peter for the keyword suggestion. If you have thoughts on the balance and use of these abilities, or you would like to offer a single word that you think can inspire a mundane item, a magic item, a feat, a spell, and a class option, let me know in the comments below.

Ryan Costello

What started as one gamer wanting to talk about his love of a game grew into a podcast network. Ryan founded what would become the Know Direction Podcast network with Jason "Jay" Dubsky, his friend and fellow 3.5 enthusiast. They and their game group moved on to Pathfinder, and the Know Direction podcast network was born. Now married and a father, Ryan continues to serve the network as the director of logistics and co-host of Upshift podcast, dedicated to the Essence20 RPG system he writes for and helped design. You can find out more about Ryan and the history of the network in this episode of Presenting:

Burst of Insight


  1. Joe Collins

    Love it, as always!

  2. Rosc

    The mirror and its poses are amazing. I like the flavor of that item, even if it seems impractical for player character use. Then again, having a hireling to carry it around fits the character…

    Step Up And Feint seems like a really nice feat, but…… blegh. 13 Int, Combat Expertise. CE weighs it down like a ball and chain. And my excitement has dropped down with it.

    • Ryan

      I was going to say that CE is only there because you need Improved Feint and CE is a prereq of IF, but it seems I forgot to list IF as a prereq. I’ve updated the feat to require IF but not CE, in case you have a workaround to IF without taking CE first.

      • Rosc

        Oh hey, thanks for the update!

        CE is out of the picture, but the 13 Int is still kind of off putting, and that’s the reason why CE is so annoying. (Well, that and the fact that CE is the gateway to the game’s better half of combat maneuver feats) Bright side, this feat is still really good for an Arcane Trickster or a niche Magus build.

  3. Quo

    I saw the latest podcast and you mentioned running short on keywords.
    How about the following: shy, swagger, entrance, and press