RPG Design – Magic Item Monday: Gimlet of Irresistible Mental Penetration

Magic item by Carlos celurian JorreblancaGimlet of Irresistible Mental Penetration

Aura Strong Abjuration; CL 17

Slot – ; Price 40,000 gp Weight 1 lb

 This gimlet is made of iron and gold, fashioned with a snakelike visage. Mind-affecting spells or abilities cast by the wielder of the gimlet negate half the targets’ resistance bonuses to Will saves.  

Construction Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, mind blank, antimagic fieldCost 20,000 gp

An ancient cult sought to gain control over the mind of the king and his nobles with their dark rites, but were foiled time and again by the mind shielding magic of the royal wizard. After much praying and sacrificing, the forces of darkness taught the head priest how to create an item that could pierce the veils of magic. However, it had taken so long that the king’s paladins finally found the den of iniquity and destroyed the cult, taking their magic items for the royal college. 


This item is very difficult to balance, because you don’t know how much resistance the target is going to have. It might be easier to just give the caster a bonus, but that just didn’t seem as fun. 


–Max Porter-Zasada

Weapon Wednesday: Hook Ring

Attach to the ring

A hook to attach to your ring

Less of a weapon, really, and more of a tool.

Hook Ring

Although it is nonmagical, you can wear this small iron ring with a vicious hook on the end to amplify necromantic spellcasting. Whenever you need to make a physical sacrifice to cast a spell, you can count as having sacrificed 5 more hit points or 1 more CON, DEX, or STR than you really did. You cannot reduce your sacrifice to zero using this ring. This item takes up a ring slot even though it is nonmagical.

Weight:-, Cost: 20 gp, No aura


Weird, yeah. Some will be reminded of a certain character from a Neil Gaiman book, although I think Despair’s ring functions a bit differently.

Great for the big bad evil guys to give them a unique flavor, or for a strange and suffering player character.

Any thoughts?


Tuesday Tweak: Energy Effects


So those of you who are veteran players know by now that as a spellcaster, blasting is one of your least viable choices. Sure, you need something to fall back on, which is why in Pathfinder most wizards gain a 3+intelligence blast for specializations. But by and large, you have much more powerful effects to layer on enemies. And that’s fine. It’s part of the design of the game: not all spells or choices are created equal.

The problem comes in when you look at all the energy-related (read: evocation blasting) abilities and items you can choose from. Both in the Core book and the APG, there are choices which just aren’t viable. The ability to change energy or elemental effects into another type? REALLY!? It has no game effect whatsoever. Unless you happen to be fighting someone with resistance or vulnerability to a particular energy type, these switch-out abilities are totally worthless. And how many monsters have Resist Water 10?

Even more disturbing is the implication that there’s no flavor difference between different spells because there’s no mechanical difference. Lightning bolt and fireball are basically the same spell with a different shape. It’s a sad fantasy world when a lightning mage is pretty much the same as a pyromage.

To correct this flavor/mechanics oversight, today we present a variant rule: Energy Effects.

Variant: Energy Effects

Spells of a particular elemental type which deal damage successfully or which deal a particular kind of energy damage have a minor additional effect according to the table below. Saving successfully against the spell negates these extra effects as well, although Improved Evasion does not count as an automatic save for this purpose.

Spell Descriptors

Fire: targets find themselves frazzled by the flames, causing them to be fatigued for 1 round per spell level.

Earth: targets are encased in a light layer of stony earth which causes them to be entangled for 1 round per spell level.

Air: targets are caught in a whirling dust devil that causes them to be distracted, as if someone had done an aid another action for all allies. In addition, targets must make a concentration check of 15+spell level to cast a spell. These effects last for 1 round per spell level.

Water: targets are blasted by tumbling water, which causes them to be staggered for 1 round.

Electricity: targets are shocked, their hair sticks out, and they are dazed for 1 round.

Acid: the clinging acid sticks and burns, dealing 1 additional point of acid damage for 1 round/spell level.

Cold: the targets are afflicted by frost all over their skin and bodies, which slows the flow of blood and inflicts a slow effect for 1 round.

Sonic: the tumbling cacophony of sound causes the target to hemorrhage into their inner ear, which inflicts a confusion effect for 1 round.


Obviously, this variant dramatically increases the utility of certain spells. That is the intent, although none of these should be game-breaking.  The flavor and unique quality of different kinds of magic needs enhancing. Always remember that other spells–just look at grease!–will still be more powerful, most of the time.



Tuesday Tweak: Adept Spellcaster

Adept Spellcaster

You can add some caster levels together for different spellcasting classes you possess.

Prerequisites: Levels in at least two spellcasting classes.

Benefit: You can add your caster level from one class to your caster level in another for spells cast from that class. You cannot add more levels than the lower of the two spellcasting classes you have. You can add caster levels from divine and arcane classes, so long as you stay within the above limitation.

For example, if you are a Druid 3/Wizard1, you can take this feat to allow you to add 1 to your caster level as a Wizard. You cannot add all 3 levels of Druid because you are limited by the lower-level Wizard class.

Normal: You can’t add caster levels from two different spellcasting classes.


This comes from Ben Lesel, who’s a player in my campaign The Great Escape. It’s a feat meant to help out those low-level folks in a world where Mystic Theurge may or may not exist.

I know all about Practiced Spellcaster and I don’t personally find that feat to my taste. It’s extraordinarily boring and feels very forced. Practiced Spellcaster is broken at low levels and becomes gradually more worthless as you go up. Ben’s version, which I’ve rewritten and called Adept Spellcaster, scales in a way that seems much smoother to me.