Dipping a pinky toe into writing for RPGs

While I’ve been playing D&D and the like for about 25 years(!), I don’t think I’ve ever got to the point of publishing any materials.  This past winter, I made a first, very small step in that direction, submitting an entry to the open call round of Paizo’s RPG Superstar competition.

Entering had been a goal of mine for a couple years, and I’d had the idea for my entry for some months, but somehow being the parent of infant twins[1] kept me from writing it down for entry until the day before the deadline, when this goaded me into action:


Deciding that my answers to “why not”–(a) I don’t possibly have time to put together a good enough entry to make it through to the Round of 32, and (b) If I were to make it to the Round of 32, I wouldn’t possibly have time to put together an entry for that round–neatly cancelled each other out, I got things down on paper, did a couple edits, and submitted this:

Summoner’s Skirl
Aura moderate conjuration; CL 9th
Slot none; Price 27,000 gp; Weight 1/2 lb.

This small flute is made from the hollowed segment of a demon’s finger bone, etched with arcane runes and punctuated by several holes along its length. It can be played with one hand to produce an otherworldly and high-pitched tune.

Once per day, a summoner’s skirl can be played to teleport one summoned creature within 100 feet to a space adjacent to the user (Will DC 19 negates). The destination space is selected by the user, but cannot be an intrinsically dangerous location.

The summoner’s skirl can also be played to send an adjacent summoned creature back to its home plane instantly. On a DC 19 Will save, the target summoned creature is not dismissed, but is staggered for 1 round. Using this ability consumes the item, even if it is unsuccessful.

Activating either of these effects requires a DC 15 Perform (wind instruments) check. With a DC 25 Perform (wind instruments) check, both effects may be applied to the same target creature as a single full-round action. The creature receives only a single Will save in this case; a successful save negates both effects, but the creature is staggered for 1 round.

A targeted creature is not affected if it cannot hear the skirl’s tune.

Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, dimension doordismissalCost 13,500 gp

When the voting closed, I was delighted to find the best case scenario: I’d made it into the top 100 of 1,000+ entries, but not into the next round!  Feedback in the post-results “critique my item” thread was both helpful and ego-boosting–just the thing to make me try again this year.

[1] This year’s Superstar, Victoria Jaczko, blunted this excuse a bit by winning the whole shebang while being mother to a 3-year-old and 2-month-old.  Superstar indeed!  (To my credit, I did put together my own entry while wearing a sleeping baby in ring sling.)

One response to “Dipping a pinky toe into writing for RPGs”

  1. Feedly’d!


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About Me

Michigander, parent of twins, urban planner, role-playing game nerd.


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