Magic Item Advice and Review for Sale

I have an Etsy store. Mainly I use it to sell off books and minis I don’t need any more. This morning I added something different: a 14-page design document with advice about designing magic items.

See, over the past few months I’ve been developing and teaching an online class about magic item and monster design for PF. (Those classes are also things you can purchase from my Etsy store, but they’re not available right now because I’m taking a break to finish writing the Five Moons RPG playtest document.)

Not only did these classes mean I got to interact with a dozen or so up-and-coming and established designers, it made me realize just how much assumed knowledge there is about magic item design—stuff you should do, stuff you shouldn’t do, and none of it written down anywhere.

For example, I had to point out to several students that you always capitalize ability score names, feat names, and skill names. For others, I had to explain that you always says “the target takes 1d6 points of damage,” not just “the target takes 1d6 damage.” Or why the flaming weapon property’s construction requirement spells are what they are, even though none of those spells add +1d6 points of fire damage to a manufactured weapon.

So I took all my notes from those classes, added a bunch of other information, made it into a PDF, and added it to my Etsy store as the Magic Item Advice PDF.

Just to sweeten the deal, I there’s a second item in the store called Magic Item Advice PDF and Item Review: as part of your purchase, you can send me one magic item to review, and I’ll give you detailed developer comments about that item, just like I was reviewing your first work as a freelance writer, or if I were a judge* in a prominent magic item design contest.

(So, for example, if you’re a competitor in such a contest, and tomorrow comes along and you find that you didn’t place in the Top 32, maybe you should buy the Magic Item Advice PDF and Item Review PDF and have me review your item for you. It can’t hurt, right? :))

*See, I was a judge in a certain prominent magic item design contest for four years, and then the host of it for an additional year. Just within the context of that contest, I’ve given detailed reviews on hundreds of magic items.

Designer Talk

Designer Talk


14 thoughts on “Magic Item Advice and Review for Sale

    • I didn’t know for the longest time, either. But my wife’s been selling PDFs of her sewing patterns there for a couple of years now. :)
      (The advice doc isn’t a step-by-step how-to for creating magic items, it’s just a long list of do’s-and-don’t’s advice categorized by topic, like when to abbreviate “feet” as “ft.,” why you shouldn’t base an items uses/day on the bearer’s level or ability score, price vs. WBL comparisons you should do, and so on. Like my old meta-advice about item design for RPG superstar, but sometimes very specific about grammar issues.)

      • Even so, I figured there’s something I can learn from this. And I was right, especially with dashes and the “Pricing and Wealth By Level” sections. I’m struggle with pricing incomparable item effects. I tried treat of new effects like a spell and price it accordingly. However, that has led me to make items too expensive for lower levels or not powerful enough for the price/level that a character would afford.

        I owe those old advice threads for helping me become an alternate for 2013. At the time, I had only played a couple of sessions and got into Pathfinder only three months prior, completely uninitiated to any tabletop RPG aside from 4th Edition.

        One of my friends wants to buy a copy of the PDF, too. He’s a really creative guy that really wants to make Pathfinder content, but he isn’t sure how to “balance” anything. It really intimidates him.

  1. Pingback: Designer Talk: Monster Advice for Sale | Sean K Reynolds

  2. I didn’t know there was such a thing as “minis I don’t need any more” :-)

    Do you go into *why* certain design decisions are made? I think that’s an important thing to understand… and I want to understand it so I can be awesomer. Also, do you cover tips on making engaging/interesting items?

    • Yeah, they’re technically classified as “minis I used in my most recent campaign and for variety’s sake I’ll probably not be using those monsters for a while, and I’d rather have someone else using them than have them sit in a box or get broken in the meantime.” :)

      What sort of design decisions do you mean?

      There are sections about questions you should ask yourself about the item’s intended user, and that can inform you decisions to make the item more *useful*, but it’s hard to teach “this is what makes an item cool.” Most of this advice is about how to avoid technical traps.

      • “but it’s hard to teach “this is what makes an item cool.” ”
        Yeah, don’t I know it. But that sounds good.

        By design decisions I mean things like capitalizing ability score names. I mean, it makes sense that that should be done, it makes it more readable/usable. I’m really interested in the reasons behind those decisions and wanted to know if you get into it much.

        In any case, sounds like an interesting read.

      • Gotcha. Well, for the most part it doesn’t really explain WHY things are done that way, mainly because Paizo inherited much of its style from the magazines dept at Wizards of the Coast. And they inherited it from the D&D staff who went to Wizards as part of the TSR buyout. And the D&D staff inherited it from 1E AD&D, and 1E was written that way because Gary Gygax wanted it that way.
        The style has evolved a bit over time in each increment, but much of it is just “because we’ve always done it that way.” I tried to get Paizo to update some bits, and they did, but there is resistance because they don’t want a 2014 book to have a significantly different style than a 2013 book.

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