View Full Version : Help designing a new item

2014-01-20, 06:31 PM
Hi. This is my first real homebrew design idea and I'd like some advice on properly fine tuning and implementing it. The system/campaign setting is pathfinder standard with a higher amount of crossbreeding then usual.

Heritage Serums

This is an idea for a new Item that allows those with exotic heritages to benefit temporarily from their diverse bloodline. Its a way for those with a dragon or a fey in their family history to draw upon their latent powers without having to take a prestige class or have a caster class to do so.

The serums vary in strength and effect depending on how strong the blood of the exploited ancestor is. A character who is a half angel would benefit more or have less of a negative side effect than one who is 5 generations of separation. But since they are essentially hacking their genetics to produce a positive result, all serums come with a downside. The Serum is only effective for up to 10 degrees of separation, otherwise the blood is to deluded.

Ex: Trollblood Serum
This serum allows those to gain their forefather's regeneration ability. It temporarily grants regeneration as per the cleric spell. The process is extremely painful and as a result the user receives constitution damage equal to 1d4 plus 1/2 ancestral separation degree rounded down, (minimum 1). The damage can only be removed via restoration or bed rest for a number of days equal to the ability damage.

What do you think? Does it seem feasible? Anything to adjust or consider? I'm looking for tips on how to make it balanced and not overpowered, as well as how rare such an item be. Any insight would be appreciated.

2014-01-21, 12:21 AM
It most certainly is feasible, pathfinder is a pretty flexible system.

My biggest concern is that it seems to add more complications than needed. My recommendation is to drop to separation variable to the equations, and treat these as a means to gain temporary bonuses (that go beyond ordinary potions) at the cost negative side affects.

For example, maybe Trolls Blood Serum works like this ...

Upon drinking Troll's Blood serum, the imbiber immediately receives the benefits of the Regeneration spell (Minimum Caster level), and for 10 minutes have regeneration 5 (fire, Acid), however, for the duration that the imbiber has regeneration, they also gain vulnerability to Fire, and they take 1d4+1 CON damage which must be removed by rest or spell.

2014-01-21, 10:49 AM
OK, that makes sense. The whole bloodline strength thing was really more of a way to keep it from being to powerful, but i guess limiting its usage to only those with proper heritages does the trick.

But would ability damage be a good standard for side effects,or should it be broadened to other stuff as well? And where should the line be drawn as to what ability can be used? I was thinking of limiting it to spell like abilities and basing the dc for making a serum around that.

Maybe the penalties would be something like this:

Abilities that effect health=constitution/strength damage because its saps the body to heal itself

Abilities that alter form=charisma/dexterity damage because of lingering transformations and unfamiliar use of the altered form.

Enchantment abilities=wisdom damage

evocations/energy based=hp loss because the power for the spell has to come from somewhere.

Thoughts? Advice?

2014-01-21, 08:02 PM
I think ability damage is a good way to balance out the benefits. The more powerful the effect, however, will require unique penalties. For example, vulnerability to fire with Troll Serum, or maybe the imbiber enters a killing frenzy when imbibing a demon serum.

I guess I have one question, how many serums can possibly be manufactured? And what is the GENERAL benefit to imbibing one? Is it to gain "racial" abilities of a creature without being that creature?

The reason I'm asking is because it seems like a lot of items to make. Since each serum has unique effects, that would require each of them to be scrutinized before it can be declared "balanced".

2014-01-22, 01:07 AM
The general benefit is for a character to have a last resort option without it being powerful enough to break the game. Gaining racial abilities of a creature beyond the standard races at a great risk balancing it out.

I also wanted a way to show in the campaign world a way to use inherited abilities not exclusive to just half creatures, assimars/tieflings, and those with arcane blood options.

I also wanted to give characters a chance to be further customized and build the world. Like a cult of alchemists or demon worshipers, or a holy order trying to breed a perfect specimen and exploit the serums, or a noble house who try to size power through generations of selective breeding with outsiders and such.

Lets limit the formulas to humanoids and those that can breed with humanoids (so dragon and vampire serums, but no ghost/zombie or beholder serum). Keep it focused on species but not sub species. Ex. Dragon serums get you a breath weapon, fey grants fey step, troll gets you regeneration etc, but there aren't any white dragon, dryad, or sea troll serums.

Any suggestions of focusing the range of effects?

2014-01-22, 01:35 AM
I'm always a big fan of the big boon followed by big punishment type items.

One suggestion is that the drawback should always (in my opinion) be directly related to the benefit you get. Drink a serum of X and gain a bonus to strength and extended reach? Sure but afterwords you take Strength and Dex damage because you were deformed for a while.

The troll serum giving vulnerability to fire is a good balancing point, and I personally would have the vulnerability persist longer than the effect itself so if the regeneration lasts 10 minutes, the vulnerability should last for one hour.

A Balor serum would be interesting, especially if it gave them the flaming body ability, but the damage reduction might be an easier ability to implement.