Out of the Box D&D Encounters, Series 2, #29 – “Drinking Problem”

Out of the Box D&D Encounters, Series 2, #29 – “Drinking Problem”

Out of the Box introduction

There are established rules for sentient magic items, and Out of the Box has already delved into that resource. However, as one might assume, this rule typically applies to permanent magic items like swords and such. The precedent has been set for other types of items (also permanent) that could take on their own sentience. I can think of two superheroes who wear armor or symbiotic suits possessing sentience, and I’m sure we already know a story about a ring that may also have a similar property. The following example will take a consumable magic item, make it not only sentient, but permanent and quasi-alive.

D&D out of the box potion
Hey, it’s me – Potion Pal! Want to be my friend? Lemme just ooze on down your gullet…

Imagine, if you will, a potion affected by some sort of outside force that not only grants it sentience, but basically turns it into a tiny ooze. This tiny ooze-like potion still can grant a magical property, but it will only be temporary. This then turns something like a potion into an ally (for a player, NPC or monster), with an upside and a downside (keep reading…).

How any encounter goes from here may end up creating a test of trust. Will the players imbibe a tiny animated object that looks like an ooze? Will they seek to kill it? Who knows?
Furthermore, it could be possible to alter or kill such a creature by means other than predicted – simply because it’s not only a magic creature, but because it’s a potion (See “Water Slide” and the Potion Miscibility Table reference, Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 140). What will follow is a complicated relationship with an unusual item that may or may not end well – welcome to any table at a roleplaying game.

Environment

Dungeon/Laboratory/Magic Shop/Etc.

Level

Appropriate to the potion granted (in this case, 1st-4th level)

Description

The first thing of note upon entering this room is the clutter. The room is small; only 20 feet square, with a 10 foot ceiling. The simple wooden door through which the party entered rests in the centre of the near wall, but entry past that point is difficult. Broken or collapsed furniture litters the floor, turning the entire walking surface into difficult terrain. Furthermore, any travel (walking or running) across the room faster than half-speed will require success on a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw. Failure means the target falls prone in a cloud of dust.
The far wall and the left wall both have large cabinets or bookshelves, both of which are covered in dusty sheets. Removing the sheet from the structure on the left wall will reveal a shelf with three tiers. The top two contain the dusty remains of tomes and scrolls so decrepit that simply touching them will turn them each to piles of paper fragments, dust, and mould. The bottom shelf possesses a small box and another small object, about 1 foot tall, six inches in diameter, and covered with a cloth.
The box is locked with a simple lock requiring success on a DC 12 check with thieves tools’ to pick. The lock can also simply be broken open (AC 15, 5 hp). The box contains stoppered glass vials currently containing no viable fluid, but they do have dark green stains on the glass. A successful DC 15 Intelligence (Arcana) check or proficiency with alchemist’s tools reveals the dried potion materials no longer of any use.
out of the box D&D
Go ahead, pull my finger. Come on, you know you want to…

The cloth covered object on this shelf is strange. Once the cloth is removed, it will reveal a cylindrical glass cover with domed top, set upon a round wood base. Within this container is what appears to be a mummified hand of some sort resting on a thin wooden dowel for support. Should a detect magic spell be cast (Players Handbook, page 231), the hand will glow as magical, with the school of Conjuration. This hand does not require attunement. The user can activate the hand with as bonus action by pulling its index finger. When this happens, the hand will cast stinking cloud (Player’s Handbook, page 278), centred on itself, on the user’s next turn.

The far structure, also covered in cloth, will reveal the following when the sheet is removed. The shelves are lined with one dusty fluid-filled glass bottle as well as several unlabeled clay pots and jars filled with various foul smelling and oily residues. The same sort of check on the clay pots and jars as above will reveal similar results on a success. The bottle, however, will show as magic under a detect magic spell. The school of magic should detect as Transmutation.
If or when the bottle is touched, the translucent clear fluid within will shift about and the tiny slivers of something will move about after being settled at the bottom for some time. More surprisingly, a vaguely humanoid face will appear in the fluid and look out at the person who touches it. It cannot communicate verbally, but will smile when the bottle is held. Should someone with telepathy try to communicate with this fluid (like a Great Old One warlock, for example), they will contact a mind of some kind, but not one with a language. It will respond with facial cues appropriate to a being anxious to be released.
If someone tries to unstopper this bottle or otherwise opens it, an tiny ooze-like creature will crawl out and try to make its way to someone’s mouth. It’s not aggressive, so if someone makes it clear they do not wish for it to enter their mouth, it will crawl away and try to get in someone else’s mouth. Note that attempts, in the meantime, can be made to communicate with this creature (one example above), so there are options. If someone bonds with this tiny animate object, and gives it a place in which a fluid-like creature could dwell, it could become their steadfast travelling boon (so long as it’s alive).
This particular animated potion is a potion of hill giant strength (Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 187), although that, too, is open to the discretion of the Dungeon Master. So long as it follows the restrictions of the creature (detailed below), this sort of creature could be used to deliver any number of effects to the willing part-time symbiote.

Monsters

Animated Object (potion) – see below – Specifically “hill giant strength”

Treasure

Again, possible re-usable potion of hill giant strength as well as a “Stink Hand” (see above)

Complications

There are a few. If one pulls the index finger without examining or casting identify (Players Handbook, page 252) then there’s an issue with a stinking cloud (Players Handbook, page 278) spell filling this room. Consider paranoid players attacking the animated potion right off the bat, which is the single largest risk here. Any DM who wants this creature to succeed needs to alter its behaviour to being more timid. Such slight changes tends to bring out the empathy of some players, and it’s a tool a DM can certainly use to great effect.
out of the box D&D potion
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I fell into gaming in the oddest of ways. Coming out of a bad divorce, my mom tried a lot of different things to keep my brother and I busy and out of trouble. It didn’t always work. One thing that I didn’t really want to do, but did because my mom asked, was enroll in Venturers. As an older Scout-type movement, I wasn’t really really for the whole camping-out thing. Canoe trips and clean language were not my forte. Drag racing, BMX and foul language were.
What surprised me though was one change of pace our Scout leader tried. He DMed a game of the original D&D that came out after Chainmail (and even preceedd the Red Box). All the weapons just did 1d6 damage, and the three main demi-humans (Elf, Dwarf and Halfling) were not only races, but classes. There were three alignments (Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic). It was very basic. I played all the way through high school and met a lot of new people through gaming. My expected awkwardness around the opposite sex disappeared when I had one game that was seven girls playing. They, too, never thought that they would do this, and it was a great experiement.
But it got me hooked. I loved gaming, and my passion for it became infectious. Despite hanging with a very rough crowd who typically spent Fridays scoring drugs, getting into fights, and whatnot, I got them all equally hooked on my polyhedral addiction. I DMed guys around my table that had been involved in the fast-living/die young street culture of the 80s, yet they took to D&D like it was second nature. They still talk to me about those days, even when one wore a rival patch on his back to the one I was wearing. We just talked D&D. It was our language.
Dungeons and Dragons opened up a whole new world too. I met lots off oddballs along with some great people. I played games like Star Frontiers, Gamma World, Car Wars, Battletech, lots of GURPS products, Cyberpunk, Shadowrun, Twilight 2000, Rolemaster, Champions, Marvel Superheroes, Earth Dawn…the list goes on. There was even a time while I was risiding with a patch on my back and I would show up for Mechwarrior (the clix kind) tournaments. I was the odd man out there.
Gaming lead to me attending a D&D tournament at a local convention, which lead to being introduced to my paintball team, called Black Company (named after the book), which lead to meeting my wife. She was the sister of my 2iC (Second in Command), and I fell in love at first sight.
Gaming lead to me meeting my best friend, who was my best man at my wedding and is the godfather of my youngest daughter.
Life being what it is, there was some drama with my paintball team/D&D group, and we parted ways for a number of years. In that time I tried out two LARP systems, which taught me a lot about public speaking, improvisation, and confidence. There was a silver lining. I didn’t play D&D again for a very long time, though.

Then 5E came out.

I discovered the Adventurer’s League, and made a whole new group of friends. I discovered Acquisitions Incorporated, Dwarven Tavern, and Nerdarchy. I was hooked again.
And now my daughter is playing. I introduced her to 5E and my style of DMing, and we talk in “gamer speak” a lot to each other (much to the shagrin of my wife/her mother…who still doesn’t “get it”). It’s my hope that one day she’ll be behind the screen DMing her kids through an amazing adventure. Time will tell.

Out of the Box D&D Encounters, Series 2, #28 - "Crackpot"
Out of the Box D&D Encounters, Series 2, #30 - "Alt-itis"
Follow Mike Gould:

I fell into gaming in the oddest of ways. Coming out of a bad divorce, my mom tried a lot of different things to keep my brother and I busy and out of trouble. It didn't always work. One thing that I didn't really want to do, but did because my mom asked, was enroll in Venturers. As an older Scout-type movement, I wasn't really really for the whole camping-out thing. Canoe trips and clean language were not my forte. Drag racing, BMX and foul language were. What surprised me though was one change of pace our Scout leader tried. He DMed a game of the original D&D that came out after Chainmail (and even preceedd the Red Box). All the weapons just did 1d6 damage, and the three main demi-humans (Elf, Dwarf and Halfling) were not only races, but classes. There were three alignments (Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic). It was very basic. I played all the way through high school and met a lot of new people through gaming. My expected awkwardness around the opposite sex disappeared when I had one game that was seven girls playing. They, too, never thought that they would do this, and it was a great experiement. But it got me hooked. I loved gaming, and my passion for it became infectious. Despite hanging with a very rough crowd who typically spent Fridays scoring drugs, getting into fights, and whatnot, I got them all equally hooked on my polyhedral addiction. I DMed guys around my table that had been involved in the fast-living/die young street culture of the 80s, yet they took to D&D like it was second nature. They still talk to me about those days, even when one wore a rival patch on his back to the one I was wearing. We just talked D&D. It was our language. Dungeons and Dragons opened up a whole new world too. I met lots off oddballs along with some great people. I played games like Star Frontiers, Gamma World, Car Wars, Battletech, lots of GURPS products, Cyberpunk, Shadowrun, Twilight 2000, Rolemaster, Champions, Marvel Superheroes, Earth Dawn...the list goes on. There was even a time while I was risiding with a patch on my back and I would show up for Mechwarrior (the clix kind) tournaments. I was the odd man out there. Gaming lead to me attending a D&D tournament at a local convention, which lead to being introduced to my paintball team, called Black Company (named after the book), which lead to meeting my wife. She was the sister of my 2iC (Second in Command), and I fell in love at first sight. Gaming lead to me meeting my best friend, who was my best man at my wedding and is the godfather of my youngest daughter. Life being what it is, there was some drama with my paintball team/D&D group, and we parted ways for a number of years. In that time I tried out two LARP systems, which taught me a lot about public speaking, improvisation, and confidence. There was a silver lining. I didn't play D&D again for a very long time, though. Then 5E came out. I discovered the Adventurer's League, and made a whole new group of friends. I discovered Acquisitions Incorporated, Dwarven Tavern, and Nerdarchy. I was hooked again. And now my daughter is playing. I introduced her to 5E and my style of DMing, and we talk in "gamer speak" a lot to each other (much to the shagrin of my wife/her mother...who still doesn't "get it"). It's my hope that one day she'll be behind the screen DMing her kids through an amazing adventure. Time will tell.

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