Through the Looking Glass | Tool Time with Glassblower’s Tools in 5E D&D
What mineral derived substance is more prevalent in the daily lives of construction workers, jewelers, churches and nearly everyone else in the fantasy world? If you answered glass, congratulations! You got it right, and we’re talking all about glass today when it comes to fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. After a hiatus from this series we’ve returned with our coverage of tool proficiencies in 5E D&D to go over what they contain, how to use them and creative applications for your games. As a quick disclaimer, while proficiencies are a core mechanic of 5E D&D, tool proficiencies are distinctly more nebulous than those for skills or weapons and your own Dungeon Master might rule how to apply tools differently from how we present here. With that out of the way let’s talk about glassblower’s tools.
5E D&D tool time — glassblower’s tools
Much like smith’s tools, you do need a source of fire hot enough to melt your material (glass) into a malleable state. According to Xanathar’s Guide to Everything glassblower’s tools contain the following:
“The tools include a blowpipe, a small marver, blocks, and tweezers. You need a source of heat to work glass.”
What can you make with glassblower’s tools?
When it comes to application of glassblower’s tools things get niche pretty quickly and a lot of the application of these tools directly correlates to the technology level of your world. In Eberron making something like a light bulb could be feasible, but try this in the Forgotten Realms? Try again.
I often consider glassblower’s tools more of a glass smithing set than anything. This would enable the character to make windows, stained glass, make said windows with said stained glass… No idea why stained glass is on the brain. Potion bottles, beakers and even spectacles all could be feasibly made with this tool proficiency and depending on your character’s complement of skills their application of this tool proficiency might vary wildly.
Furthermore, when it comes to glass making it’s entirely possible you could incorporate special types of glass or special minerals that could make glass with special properties, in the vein of something like mithril or adamantine when it comes to metal, but glass instead. One of my favorite video games at the moment, Temtem, has a prevalence of red crystals to the point these crystals contribute their own element to the Shin Megami Tensei mechanics of the game. Having such a unique material might prove an interesting plot point if the material is naturally (or can be worked into) a magically significant material.
And of course, combining proficiency with Medicine and glassblower’s tools could lend to your character being an optometrist, or perhaps they’ve devised special magnifying glasses to be used by jewelers, enchanters and the like. Glass is strikingly prevalent even in our modern day and just looking for it reveals how universally useful this material is and has the potential to be.
Glassblower’s tools & skill proficiencies
Arcana. As previously mentioned your character with this proficiency might know of magical types of glass or special types that directly pertain to certain spells or uses. A suggestion from XGtE is to use knowledge of glass to see how a potion affects its bottle to determine the potion’s effect. This feels lackluster to me and a bit stretched in terms of worldbuilding and as such an effect would likely compound to either ruin the potion, ruin the bottle or eventually simply eat away at the potion. Call me a nerd but that’s where my brain goes when I see something like this.
History. This one can be a bit interesting. Perhaps your character understands the various applications of glass throughout history, or perhaps history conveys a variety of techniques to craft glass. Maybe there’s a lost art to creating a special type of glass, a la Damascus Steel? The possibilities are as vast in D&D as they are in our own world.
Investigation. XGtE offers some insight when it comes to this skill too, but much like the potion one this doesn’t feel well thought out. It talks about clues pertaining to the breaking of glass and putting pieces together much like a literal puzzle to determine what happened to a broken glass object.
Medicine. Here’s where things get really cool. As already mentioned, glasses (spectacles) are useful to a variety of people and I could see a character making a fortune off of this endeavor. In fact my housemate just made a halfling character for a game where he and his forest gnome wife use his proficiency in glassblower’s tools and her proficiencies in Animal Handling and jeweler’s tools to craft spectacles for sight impaired woodland creatures. My friend’s paladin character also wear spectacles, which they made together. Furthermore, the truth of it is spectacles are only the beginning when it comes to medical equipment made from glass. A little research and worldbuilding can go a long way to lending your own 5E D&D world a lot of depth.
Stealth. This is another one I’m surprised more people don’t discuss. A character with glassblower’s tools proficiency would likely know how to break (or break into) a window with as little sound and disruption as possible. I’m actually a bit surprised I don’t see more burglar characters taking this proficiency as part of their characters.
What do you think?
Glassblower’s tools are a fairly niche proficiency, but hopefully, this article made it more engaging for you and your players. If you’ve got thoughts related to glassblower’s tools or how to handle tool proficiencies in your own games, drop us a comment! [NERDITOR’S NOTE: My character Vent from Those Bastards! took pride in his glassblower’s tools skill and shared a touching moment with a rescued air genasi child thanks to his proficiency. He also discovered an antique set of glassblower’s tools in an ancient temple made of glass, which itself was not far from the city of Lustre — a city of glass!]
As always, please remember to return to Nerdarchy for more daily content. Later, nerds!