Bottle of the Salvaged Wreck

edited June 2018 in DesignFinder Chat

Bottle of the Salvaged Wreck

Aura strong transmutation; CL 17th
Slot none; Price 65,000 gp; Weight 1 lb..

This finely crafted clear glass bottle contains the impossibly realistic model of a ship. The possessor can use the bottle to raise and salvage the wreckage of a single ship. It takes one hour to salvage a ship, during which time the user must maintain contact with the bottle and stay within 120 feet of the wreck. At the end of this duration the ship is fully rebuilt and functional and, if the wreckage was submerged, floats to the surface. The ship is fully drained of water, although its contents are unaffected.

While within 120 feet of the ship the possessor can use the bottle to control it as if it had a full crew, performing any shipboard operations with mental commands. Only the character who salvaged the ship can direct it in this way. The bottle does not confer upon the user knowledge of or experience in sailing. The ship remains repaired until one week has passed or until the bottle is used on another ship, whichever comes first. After this time the ship reverts to its previous condition in the span of one minute and may sink if it was not seaworthy before being salvaged.

While the bottle is in use, the ship within the bottle is a perfectly crafted scale model of the salvaged ship. If the bottle is not in use, the ship within the bottle is a replica of the last ship the bottle affected, in its original wrecked state.

Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, animate objects, polymorph any object, shrink object, creator must have 5 ranks in Craft (Ships); Cost 32,500 gp


JACOB: First of all, congratulations; welcome to the Top 16 of the very first DesignFinder! Oh, this is fun, neat idea, that uses a cool base item and pairs it with some fun abilities. It’s certainly not going to be for every campaign but in a pirate-themed or other water-focused adventure (and Paizo has several APs that could fall into that category). I like the limits the creator put on it (though if I wanted to be really pedantic, I wonder if a ship is repaired after it’s been salvaged, would that refer to its previous condition too? I’d say no, but as written, I think it would.). Template use looks good; only thing that leaped out at me is the focus for skills like Craft is lowercase, so it should be Craft (ships).

A couple quibbles, just to bring up (they didn’t affect my opinion of the item): I don’t know that you really need polymorph any object or shrink object in the requirements; I think maybe control water would probably be more appropriate, among legal spells (there are several other spells that would also have been good, but, well, those aren’t legal for this contest). I also wonder if it’s maybe priced a little too high. While it would probably only be introduced in a nautical adventure, even there, I think that might be a little too much value for it. I might reduce the price by 25-40 percent, but that’s not a

KATE: This item is extremely specific, but also very creative! I could totally see this item kicking off a pirate-themed adventure. The price is a bit high, and given the specific nature of the item, it could lean a bit toward acting more like a plot device than a magic item, but I think it stays just on the right side of that. I like the construction requirement of needing ranks in Craft (ships). The imagery of this item is outstanding; I get a great mental image of a wrecked ship rising from out of the water. Well done!

MIKE: As mentioned above, this is a niche item, but it doesn’t need to be universally applicable to be a great item. This is a wonderful item useful for any seagoing campaign or any campaign that at least visits the coast. I also agree the price is high, but I can understand the caution in pricing this to make sure a party doesn’t end up with a fleet of ships. I like that this only affects the ship and not the contents (it took me a couple of read-throughs to decide the contents would remain in their original waterlogged or rusted state, so I think a quick example would have helped clarify that). The only glitch I noticed in the template was the capitalization of Ships in Craft (ships).
Congratulations and welcome to the top 16!

REP: Congratulations! I admit, when I saw the item’s name, I was worried it would be similar to several “ship in a bottle” items and constructs found in Skull and Shackles and other adventure paths. Fortunately you not only avoided this but created something quite unique. I love the core idea of this item, of temporary ship salvage; since the salvaged ship still contains waterlogged/broken items and perhaps even creatures, traps, and haunts within it, this doesn’t make the prospect of cargo recovery too easy--and in fact creates potential for adventure. That said, on top of the salvage ability, I think giving the bottle the user an ability to sort of remote steer the ship unnecessarily overcomplicates the item. I would happily give up that facet of the item to have more focus and clarity on the repair factors--i.e., do the repairs include repairs to magical reinforcements to the ship? Are ship siege engines repaired? Can the user “re-wreck” the ship sooner than a week if they want? Small thing: I don’t see how shrink item applies to the magical effect of this item, unless I’m misunderstanding part of its function.


  • You've entered prestigious company in your fellow top 16'ers!
    Like Rep, I had some concerns about the ability to continually use this item on the same ship or wreck over and over. At the cost and power level, I am almost inclined to allow it to work, but it just seems a bit too good to allow a character to completely rebuild a ship over and over with only an hour needed. Granted, it would be inconvenient in a lot of ways, but never having to worry about repairing a particular ship is kind of powerful. As a designer (and this is all opinion, it's not like I've ever made the top 16 or anything so my advice is what you make of it) I would either limit it to being able to affect a particular ship no more than once a month or possibly permanently reduce its structural hit points by some percentage (or set amount) to keep it from continually rebuilding the same destroyed hulk over and over (similar to how undead corpses might be destroyed so they aren't valid for reanimation over and over). Probably go with the monthly restriction, since that's less bookkeeping of decreasing structure hit points.

    Otherwise, my villainous NPC which I will never make would probably have been an unscrupulous sea-trader with this item, selling the same ship over and over to people and just before the week is up, hires them to ship some cargo, making sure they're far out to sea when it falls apart and sinks (in 100 foot deep water, so he can sit in his other ship or skiff and be able to raise it).  Thereby claiming it as fair salvage and also being able to steer it with the bottle and not need crew, on to the next port.
  • I really want to thank everyone for their feedback! It was a blast designing this item and being a part of the competition. I wanted to compete in RPGSS, but I didn't start gaming until 2016, so I was absolutely stoked to see this one come up!
  • edited July 2018

    I thought that what piratej did in his posts over here was really cool, so I decided to do something similar with my bottle of the salvaged wreck.

    If anyone is reading this for advice for future contests, there are two things that I think are extremely important.

    1. Your idea should be something that is unique and exciting to you. This one’s pretty obvious, but can be kind of difficult. A lot of items in the CRB exist because they need to, but items for a contest need to be more than that. A good way to work on this is by constantly making items so you can improve and later pick out your favorite.

    2. Your presentation should be indistinguishable from Paizo’s. Your description should certainly be evocative and creative, but if your idea and presentation are good enough you won’t have to overcompensate on description. Presentation includes your template (things like cost, use of italics, spell selection, whatever) and your voice. It should read like a Paizo item.

    If you get both of these things perfectly right, a publisher can look at your item and go “Wow! That’s a great idea!” and then copy and paste directly into their book without fixing anything. That should be your goal. Not that I got that right with my item or have any actual experience...


    I love boats. If I could live in any time period, it’d be when sailing ships were prevalent. I’ve always loved real life impossible bottles, and I always wanted to make a magic item of them. When I found the spell salvage in Pirates of the Inner Sea, it seemed obvious to make a ship in a bottle that could raise shipwrecks.

    This also works for me because I like having some items that don’t necessarily have a combat use. I love the world-building aspect of RPGs, and I like thinking about items that would exist that don’t necessarily matter to an adventurer. This item certainly is useful for adventurers, but I also wanted to approach it from a world-building perspective.


    So at first this was a spell-in-a-can. Use the bottle, cast salvage and away you go. The cost of a usable at-will, 9th level, 17th CL magic item is way high, however. And I couldn’t actually use salvage for this contest. I almost went to a different item at that point, but my wife convinced me to stick with what I was excited about. The PRD-only restriction actually worked in my favor, because I couldn’t lean on salvage and had to make the bottle it’s own thing. I liked the idea of an actual salvaging crew using this to raise a wreck, then sail it into some sort of scaffolding to rebuild then turn over for a profit (sort of like house-flippers), so I also wanted to use unseen crew, another spell in Pirates of the Inner Sea I couldn’t use. For both of these spells I had to tighten the mechanics and interpret their effects specifically for this particular use. I think I benefited greatly from being unable to write “this works as the salvage spell…”

    I had two big concerns: I didn’t want to take adventures away from GMs, and I didn’t want players to abuse the bottle. I ended up deciding the first concern didn’t need attention. There are plenty of other ways to do an underwater adventure besides exploring a wrecked ship. In fact, I actually like the idea of an adventure in a salvaged ship that had until recently been on the bottom of the ocean, as Rep points out. How would any occupants react? How would hazards change? Lots of fun adventure potential that I hope to use someday.

    For the potential for abuse, I added several clauses to limit its use. First, the ship can only last one week. So it’s still an at-will 9th level spell, but you’re basically renting that spell. The condition that the user had to be within 120 feet and maintain contact with the bottle came in at the end. That way a player can’t use it to take over an enemy ship with no chance of resistance. To take over a ship, I basically have to sit on it for an hour. If its occupants can’t kick out the players in that time, I’m OK with them taking control.

    The last way I limited it was with the price. I was all over the map for cost, and I definitely could be wrong with what I chose. As Mike and pizza_lord pointed out, there is ample room for economy abuse here, so I decided to play it safe and price it pretty high. At least then, if it became a problem item, it would be an expensive problem item.

  • Polishing and Template

    For the actual description, I tried hard to keep with my own advice from the beginning. My hope was the mechanics were cool and the idea was unique. And honestly, a ship in a bottle is a cool real-world item on its own. No one really needed me to dress it up, and I could have ended up taking attention away from the mechanics or overdoing it. I did want to include the bit at the end, about how the model in the bottle changes as the magic is used.

    So for the template, I tried to think about what I would have done if I could have made this using salvage. A 9th level transmutation spell makes the aura easy: strong transmutation. Likewise, CL should be 17th. For spells, animate object was an obvious choice. I went with polymorph any object to stand-in for salvage, but after reading Jacob’s comments I would now take that out. I also looked to Paizo’s Impossible Bottle from Pathfinder 58. It had the weight at 1 lb., with shrink object and Craft (ships) 5 ranks. This was actually very similar to my original item, where I did shrink object or Craft (ships). My idea was that if you were making this, you would either need to purchase a model ship then shrink it to fit in the bottle, or do it the old fashioned (real-world) way of either building the ship inside or putting much of it on hidden hinges. I decided to follow Paizo’s lead, however. (Note, I don’t believe shrink object relates to the impossible bottle’s function, but it was included for theirs. This might be a mistake on their part as spells that aid the building of the item generally don’t show up in the requirements unless they also relate to item’s function, but it felt right to me for both items.)

    As mentioned before, the hardest part was the price. I wouldn’t change what I did for the contest, as I think staying on the safe side was the right choice, but this could probably go down in price.


    Based on Jacob’s comments, I would remove PAO and add control water. That makes a lot of sense, and I really didn’t need PAO to justify the high CL. I would be OK with removing shrink object, although I’d prefer to go with Paizo’s example.

    For price, I would absolutely defer to the professionals. I only wanted to limit abuse, but if they think it’s OK to reduce it that sounds good to me.

    As Mike suggested, I now wish I included an example for what was affected by the item and what wasn’t. It would’ve been tough to include with the word count, but it would’ve made things much clearer.

    Rep suggested the the remote piloting aspect of the item could be discarded. This was originally included to avoid the item being a salvage-in-a-can, but that’s not really a good enough reason. If you have to tack things on to avoid SIAC, you need to make some changes. That said, I like the remote piloting aspect. It makes for a nice commercial use that I appreciate, and makes the item a little more unique. If I were to remove this part of the item, I would definitely pay more attention to the salvage aspect. But I think I’d also like to spice things up somewhere else, maybe adding another ability relating to the salvage ability.
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