Tactics and Tips07/24/2007

The Forgotten Magic Cache (Part 5)

A New Look at Infrequently Used Magic Items -- Unguents, Salves, and Paints

In this series, we'll take a look at infrequently used, or little understood, magic items described in the Dungeon Master's Guide, plus we'll give you some creative uses and reasons to include them on your character's inventory.

Like spells, there seems to be a list of magic items that are considered crucial to an adventuring party -- cloaks of resistance, rings of protection, and potions of cure light wounds, for example. Of course, with hundreds and hundreds of magic items to choose from, some magic items are going to get short shrift. But what should players and DMs do when the random treasure table turns up something unusual? Toss it and move on? Or maybe they can open up their minds and build a character (or adventure) around particularly interesting magic items.

Adventurers quaff potions, oil up their weapons, and burn through scrolls with regular frequency in your average campaign. However, every once in awhile, the PCs may encounter some strange liquids, pastes, and even paints that are completely out of the norm.

Keoghtom's Ointment

This multipurpose ointment duplicates the effects of five castings of cure light wounds, neutralize poison, or remove disease in any combination. While nowhere near as cost effective as getting a spellcaster to cast any of these five times for you, it's far more economical than buying five potions of each type that duplicate each of these effects.

  • Like potions, the main advantage of Keoghtom's ointment is that anyone can utilize it. So, loading up your fighters or rogues with this magic item gives you three contingency plans.

  • Save the cure light wounds ability for when your character is extremely desperate -- a basic potion of cure light wounds costs 50 gp while a single usage of the ointment in this manner would be 800 gp.

Keoghtom's Ointment -- For the DM

Although relatively straightforward in its use, Keoghtom's ointment may find some application in your game as a good story hook.

  • Keoghtom's ointment can be just one of several different varieties of ointment that mimic other spells. For example, an evil druid has concocted his own special blend that replaces the spells with contagion, poison, and cause light wounds for a horrific salve.

  • A wandering salesman comes through town selling his ointments to those with chronic ailments and wounds. Although the pitch sounds like classic snake oil, the blend turns out to be nothing less than Keoghtom's ointment. The salesman stole batches of the stuff from a church, thinking it nothing more than random supplies and medicines.

Nolzur's Marvelous Pigments

This magic item lets a character with a bit of artistic flair to actually create objects (or even open spaces) with the flick of a paintbrush. It may seem a bit strange taking a pot of paint with you as you wander through a dungeon or out in the wilderness, but the number of things Nolzur's marvelous pigments can create is as unlimited as a player's imagination. Here are a few tips for making the most out of this unusual magic item:

  • Remember that Nolzur's marvelous pigments can actually create food. So, as long as you have a relatively flat surface to work off of, such as a smooth rock face, dungeon wall, or door, you can feed your entire party. The Dungeon Master's Guide doesn't say anything about the taste of this created meal; we'll assume that it's at least passable and nutritious.

Need to quickly equip a group of henchmen? Nolzur's marvelous pigments lets you create mundane weapons and armor in the amount of time it takes to make your Craft (painting) check.

Nolzur's Marvelous Pigments -- For the DM

Nolzur's marvelous pigments is an example of a magic item that benefits those few PCs that take ranks in a skill that doesn't get much use by most adventurers -- specifically Craft (painting). On those rare occasions when such an item shows up in a random treasure roll that can benefit a character, run with it and hopefully the player will do the same. Here are some hooks that might spur you to use Nolzur's marvelous pigments in your campaign:

  • A thief with an eye for shape and color uses Nolzur's marvelous pigments to create doors, windows, ladders, and other ways to bypass the walls and gates of a bank, armory, or lord's manor. Because the items created are nonmagical in nature, they do not trigger any of the location's defenses that activate when sensing magic intrusions.

  • Instead of painstakingly carving or building her magic items by hand, an artisan wizard uses Nolzur's marvelous pigments to make amazing works of art to enchant for later use.

Salve of Slipperiness, Sovereign Glue, and Universal Solvent

We'll break the norm and talk about three intimately tied magic items. To keep sovereign glue useful while in its container, you need salve of slipperiness to coat the inside of the bottle. To break the bond created by sovereign glue, you need universal solvent. Each has their uses on their own, but with all three, now you're talking about some interesting stuff. The whole "package" can be bought for 3,450 gp.

  • Want to win a bet? Use sovereign glue to root yourself in place and salve of slipperiness to make yourself impossible to hold. Then, make a bet that you can't be moved from that spot in a wrestling contest.

  • During a fight in an alchemist's shop, bottles of sovereign glue and salves of slipperiness get broken and flung all over, coating the shop in both slick and sticky areas. Quick Spot checks could locate those bottles of universal solvent to free you or your companions while the battle rages on around you.

About the Author

Eric Cagle cut his teeth at Wizards of the Coast, but now lives the extravagant freelancer lifestyle. Look for his name on D&D, d20 Modern, and Star Wars books. Recent credits include d20 Apocalypse, Monster Manual IV, and the Tome of Corruption from Green Ronin Publishing. He is also a contributor to the Game Mechanics, Dragon Magazine, and this lovely website. Eric lives in Seattle where the coffee is dark and bitter like his goddesses.

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