Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Alternate uses for Trinkets (Reddit Mirror)

(I posted this originally on Reddit a while back. I got a lot of good responses from it, and I wanted to share it to make sure I have it handy. I've reposted it here in its full glory.)

A collection of things that could ruin your game in the hands of a player
The D&D 5e handbook gives a long list of “small items lightly touched by mystery” to give to PCs or fill the pockets of enemies. Each of these is only slightly interesting, and I can imagine many DMs ignore the list in favor of handing out real treasures.

However, this could be a place where great side quests are born, magical secrets are unveiled, or the fantasy world is fleshed out by giving everyday objects a bit of surprising practical use. So, I present to you…

Three possible alternate uses for every trinket in the 5e PHB

01 (A mummified goblin hand) actually alive and hostile, acts as the eyes of the goblin king, grants wishes that suck
02 (A piece of crystal that faintly glows in the moonlight) Part of a shooting star with magic powers, warp crystal to the moon/feywild, the last piece of an archmage's power circle
03 (A gold coin minted in an unknown land) the infamous trademark coin of a master thief, the mark of membership to a secret guild, a jealously guarded coin from a demon's vault
04 (A diary written in a language you don't know) A love journal in a code language between two feuding royals, an angel's list of sinners, various eldritch invocations in secret code
05 (A brass ring that never tarnished) warp ring to the city of brass, power source to a gnome invention, tiny portal to a random plane
06 (An old chess piece made of glass) becomes a weapon when held by an actual knight/bishop/king, secret key to an archmage's tower, tiny crystal ball activated by a secret word
07 (A pair of knucklebone dice, each with a skull symbol on the side that would normally show six pips) only roll double 6's when roller is in danger, once belonged to a dragon who made them from his rival, someone nearby dies when double 6's is rolled
08 (A small idol depicting a nightmarish creature that gives you unsettling dreams when you sleep near it) demon/spirit trapped within and can be set free, creature who feeds on dreams and lives in them, grants dreams that predict the future
09 (A rope necklace from which dangles four mummified elf fingers) beloved lost necklace of an orc lord, a set of keys to a shadowfell castle, grants wishes with pretentious side effects
10 (The deed for a parcel of land in a realm unknown to you) a coded message meant to prevent a war, a demon's claim to land in hell, a divine edict granting the holder eternal paradise upon death
11 (A 1-ounce block made from an unknown material) moves randomly through time and takes nearby things with it, a pixie box magically sealed, one of a thousand hivemind blocks that are too dumb to function when separated
12 (A small cloth doll skewered with needles) a voodoo doll of a hag's lover, the lost prince under a terrible curse, a vessel for dark magic that activates when you pull a pin out
13 (A tooth from an unknown beast) a compass that leads to the ruler of the forest, a fang filled with paralytic poison, the last piece of a shadow dragon that slowly starts growing back around it
14 (An enormous scale, perhaps from a dragon) an exotic princess's favorite fan, exactly the right size and color for an aspiring glassmaker's new stained glass window, a small part of a legendary set of armor
15 (A bright green feather) always floats towards the sun, teleports the holder to a cloud giant's lair, covered in insects that take control of the holder over time
16 (An old divination card bearing your likeness) face changes based on the true form of the holder, it ages instead of you, the card talks back with your voice but its own personality
17 (A glass orb filled with moving smoke) a cloud giant's captive pet, an unfinished spell that awaits the final verbal component, a crystal ball that only depicts events in a set location
18 (A 1-pound egg with a bright red shell) will not hatch but releases a wall of fire when cracked, hatches into a baby succubi, empty except for several spell scrolls once swallowed by a roc
19 (A pipe that blows bubbles) each bubble portrays a future event, popping a bubble causes the popper to be charmed for several minutes, the inside of the pipe contains a coded message
20 (A glass jar containing a weird bit of flesh floating in a pickling fluid) grows into a flesh golem when poured out, cures zombie-ness when drunk, the last piece of a demon lord that is keeping him from returning
21 (A tiny gnome-crafted music box that plays a song you dimly remember from your childhood) plays the song of the god who watches over you, musical message/password when heard by the right person, allows you to change memories from people's childhood
22 (A small wooden statuette of a smug halfling) causes the holder to gradually become less likable, makes the holder invisible to halflings, gives condescending advice
23 (A brass orb etched with strange runes) unfolds into an efreeti's pet, releases a thunderwave spell when bounced, a certain rune always faces upwards
24 (A multicolored stone disk) changes the color of the holder when certain word spoken, doorknob to an interplanar gate, changes fate when spun
25 (A tiny silver icon of a raven) acts as the eyes of Odin, grows into a large raven when certain word is spoken, contains a tiny scroll with vital information
26 (A bag containing forty-seven humanoid teeth, one of which is rotten) each tooth summons a person (like Drawmij's Instant Summons) and the rotten one is dead, a bandit's lost trophy bag (he killed a zombie once), set of keys to a necromancer's crypt
27 (A shard of obsidian that always feels warm to the touch) crystal ball that only looks into the palace of Abriymoch in the 9 hells, gnomish firestarter that ignites any wood it touches, shard of an angel's flaming sword
28 (A dragon's bony talon hanging from a plain leather necklace) a lost prize of the world's greatest dragon hunter, etches a treasure map when set on a flat surface, casts fireball when activated
29 (A pair of old socks) a powerful wizard's enchanted warmth socks, can be used as literally hypnotizing puppets, will not burn and can hold up to 100 pounds inside before tearing
30 (A blank book whose pages refuse to hold ink, chalk, graphite, or any other substance or marking) portal to the elemental plane of air, a forgetful lich's phylactery, the story/thoughts of the holder appears on its pages and vanishes when lost/given/stolen
31 (A silver badge in the shape of a five-pointed star) reveals picture of a general's wife and daughter when pried open, magic link allowing a nearby beholder to enslave your mind, amplifies celestial magic
32 (A knife that belonged to a relative) family secret is contained within the handle, unable to be discarded until you have committed murder with it or die, cuts through stone but is otherwise dull
33 (A glass vial filled with nail clippings) releases a hag's essence when opened, each nail restores health when eaten but lowers your friend's opinion of you, when nails placed in a circle it opens a portal to pandemonium
34 (A rectangular metal device with two tiny metal cups on one end that throws sparks when wet) casts shocking grasp when touched to enemies, a component to open a portal to Mechanus, able to disrupt nearby compasses
35 (A white, sequined glove sized for a human) the wearer can only walk backwards, slowly zombifies the wearer, allows the wearer to change race while worn
36 (A vest with one hundred tiny pockets) an abandoned fey apartment, turns into gibbering mouther when all pockets are full, a powerful wizard's component pouch (still contains a few)
37 (A small, weightless stone block) sealed prison for an air elemental, fallen piece of a cloud giant's castle, part of a wizard's master plan for stone golems that can fly
38 (A tiny sketch of a goblin) a self-portrait by the smartest goblin in the burrow (sir Gobbington), magical parchment that sketches the next creature who will attack its holder, rare spell scroll that some artist ruined
39 (An empty glass vial that smells of perfume when opened) a duchess's dried up lost perfume bottle, when cracked opens portal to feywild, contains a succubus's charming spell
40 (A gemstone that looks like a lump of coal when examined by anyone but you) a gem used to signify the heir to the king, the heart of a Dao that grants a single wish, a lump of coal used by an illusionist as a practical joke
41 (A scrap of cloth from an old banner) restores HP when used to stabilize wounded, causes holder's alignment to shift towards chaotic evil, has an ancient message sewn into the seam
42 (A rank insignia from a lost legionnaire) found on the site of an ancient and haunted war ground, contains a soldier's spirit and grants immunity to fright, causes wearer's alignment to shift towards lawful good
43 (A tiny silver bell without a clapper) very loud voice amplification when spoken through, when struck opens a portal to celestial realm, never completely stops vibrating
44 (A mechanical canary inside a gnomish lamp) repeats any message said to it after an amount of time determined by turning the base, lights up when birds are near, causes devastatingly bad luck if broken
45 (A tiny chest carved to look like it has numerous feet on the bottom) moves to a new place every night, comes alive if ashen remains are placed inside, holds an army that erupts out when a certain word is spoken
46 (A dead sprite inside a clear glass bottle) opens portal to shadowfell when broken, chaotic evil sprite only playing dead, alternate component to fly spell
47 (A metal can that has no opening but sounds as if it is filled with liquid, sand, spiders, or broken glass, your choice) can disappears and contents spill when dropped from over 100 ft, contains a unique elemental made from contents, becomes heavier and heavier until it bursts
48 (A glass orb filled with water, in which swims a clockwork goldfish) a gnomish clock that tracks the amount of time left in the holder's life, an unopenable portal to an ocean in Mechanus, allows the holder to breathe underwater
49 (A silver spoon with an M engraved on the handle) teleports 5 feet into the air just before hitting the ground, allows the holder to cast one Mordenkainen spell each day with it as the only component, makes any food delicious
50 (A whistle made from gold-colored wood) summons warriors from Ysgard, plays a pitch only dragons can hear, grows into a treehouse when placed into the ground
51 (A dead scarab beetle the size of your hand) unlocks an ancient pharaoh’s tomb, summons a swarm of beetles when crushed, contains microscopic parasitic worms that slowly drive the party mad
52 (Two toy soldiers, one with a missing head) voodoo dolls of the king and his trusted advisor, stops a hydra’s regeneration if they are eaten by it, causes two people to argue if they each possess one
53 (A small box filled with different sized buttons) increases one ability score to max when the corresponding button is eaten, refills with buttons automatically, the buttons shrink or grow the person who wears them
54 (A candle that can't be lit) a ghost's candle that is actually constantly burning in the ethereal plane, can't be lit but still ignites anything it is touched to, bears a djinni's summoning symbol
55 (A tiny cage with no door) can cast imprisonment (hedged prison) once with this as the only material component, the same but already used on a powerful lich, magically seals the doors of any room it is set on the floor of
56 (An old key) opens any lock but has a decent chance of breaking, the lost key to the royal fortune, can be inserted into people's chests without harm and forces them to tell the truth
57 (An indecipherable treasure map) bears a secret code that can only be read by dwarves, it is tirelessly hunted by an ancient pirate ghost, if viewed under a certain light reveals a lewd picture of a half-orc
58 (A hilt from a broken sword) pulls the holder into Acheron if used to attack, part of a devil's favorite rapier, can't pass through doorways
59 (A rabbit's foot) grants mild good luck, grants devastating bad luck for druids, being sought by an eldritch rabbit bent on revenge
60 (A glass eye) holder can see what it sees, dispels poison when dropped in a drink, contains a tiny pixie who yells constantly
61 (A cameo carved in the likeness of a hideous person) causes the holder to slowly switch faces with the picture, portrays the secret love of a beautiful prince, makes everyone disagree with the holder's opinions
62 (A silver skull the size of a coin) summons a hostile flameskull when certain word is spoken, absorbs any gold/silver it touches and grows larger, the still-conscious victim of a powerful warlock
63 (An alabaster mask) appears like your true love if worn by you, once hid the face of a hideous man who now terrorizes a local village, everyone forgets what you said while wearing it when it is removed
64 (A pyramid of sticky black incense that smells very bad) causes madness when burned, an evil wizard's favorite rare incense, 60% of the time attracts the opposite sex 100% of the time
65 (A nightcap that, when worn, gives you pleasant dreams) unremovable dream portal to Elysium, creature that feeds on dreams of love, once belonged to an elven king who would like it back
66 (A single caltrop made of bone) causes flesh to disintegrate and bones to animate if stepped on, part of an ancient battle involving a necromancer, poisons a drink when dropped in
67 (A gold monocle frame without the lens) once a monocle of true sight with a little power left, makes the wearer grow a magnificent beard, has etched name of a legendary gnome artificer
68 (A 1-inch cube, each side painted a different color) switches alignment of roller based on which side lands up, a god's decision making die, each side is coated with a different powerful drug
69 (A crystal knob from a door) opens doors to hades from solid rock walls, part of a fey castle that fell into the material plane, can be crafted into a staff of knocking (like the spell knock)
70 (A small packet filled with pink dust) causes hours of delirious joy when smoked, soundproofs doors when sprinkled on the threshold, a noble lady's favorite blush powder
71 (A fragment of a beautiful song, written as musical notes on two pieces of parchment) reveals a mysterious door 5 ft in front of the singer when sung, signed by a master bard who composed it, causes listeners to become incontinent when sung/played all the way through
72 (A silver teardrop earring made from a real teardrop) purifies salt water when dipped in it, an embarrassed dragon's greatest magically captured in jewelry, shatters and casts silence if dropped on a hard surface
73 (The shell of an egg painted with scenes of human misery in disturbing detail) fills your dreams with the scene if slept near, a famous artist's interpretation of peryton history, causes sharp stomach pain if ground up and slipped into food
74 (A fan that, when unfolded, shows a sleeping cat) eventually puts those it waves at to sleep, the cat is a mischievous demispirit who wakes up from time to time, lost fan of a goddess of sleep
75 (A set of bone pipes) summons a skeleton army when the correct tune is played in a graveyard, made from a lich by a heroic elven bard, contains a scroll that reveals vital information in the smallest pipe
76 (A four-leaf clover pressed inside a book discussing manners and etiquette) prevents anyone who removes the clover from breaking the rules in the book, a queen's lucky book that has brought misfortune since its disappearance, the property of a rude leprechaun who wasn't done reading it
77 (A sheet of parchment upon which is drawn a complex mechanical contraption) purposefully misdrawn to explode when created, signed by a master gnome mechanic, contains parts that will not be invented for another 5,000 years
78 (An ornate scabbard that fits no blade you have found so far) secret compartment reveals several priceless gems, property of a Djinni who uses a blade made of air, can hold any amount of gold/gems
79 (An invitation to a party where a murder happened) the holder of the invitation is magically framed for the murder, the party happened at a king's castle, magically grants entrance to any unsavory place
80 (A bronze pentacle with an etching of a rat's head in the center) summons a swarm of rats when command word is spoken, acts as the eyes of the rat king, dispels pests from a large area when used as focus for a hallow spell
81 (A purple handkerchief embroidered with the name of a powerful archmage) acts as a portable hole for bodily fluids only, laced with poison from the archmage's rival, creates more handkerchiefs but only when dramatically pulled from a hat or sleeve
82 (Half a floorplan for a temple, castle, or some other structure) reveals a secret tunnel leading inside the building, half of the building exists in the ethereal plane, contains a coded message about the rebellion
83 (A bit of folded cloth that, when unfolded, turns into a stylish cap) the wearer can flatten themselves without harm to a two-dimensional version of themselves, causes everyone to think highly of you, has the name of a famous halfling cook written in the inside
84 (A receipt of deposit at a bank in a far-flung city) reveals the financial unscrupulousness of the royal advisor, contains an explosive rune if read outside of a bank, acts as a compass to the nearest alphabetical filing cabinet
85 (A diary with seven missing pages) Causes the holder to forget an important event from their past, belonged to a powerful warlock who briefly lost control of a summoning, contains juicy secrets about the monarchy and the best ones are missing
86 (An empty silver snuffbox bearing an inscription on the surface that says "Dreams") prevents holder from dreaming while it is nearby, an elven prince’s jewelry box, everyone who looks inside sees a tiny personal nightmare
87 (An iron holy symbol devoted to an unknown god) reverses the effects of heal/harm spells, last relic of a dead god that brings horrible luck, enhances suggestion spells related to changing faith
88 (A book that tells a legendary hero's rise and fall, with the last chapter missing) changes history when written in, lost and unfinished manuscript of an author with lots of connections, contains several unfavorable descriptions of gods
89 (A vial of dragon blood) makes you shoot flames from your mouth when drunk, medical implement from the world’s only dragon medic, enhances spells based on type of dragon
90 (An ancient arrow of elven design) the murder weapon of an ancient dwarvish king, whistles when fired, bounces instead of striking the ground
91 (A needle that never bends) a tiny but functional immovable rod, portal to a pocket dimension in pandemonium, will not draw the blood of royalty
92 (An ornate brooch of dwarven design) carries a common virus that once eradicated a city of ancient elves, contains several magical gemstones, grants great strength if worn
93 (An empty wine bottle bearing a pretty label that says "The Wizards of Wines Winery, Red Dragon Crush, 331422-W") coded message for an anti-wizard rebellion, lined with deadly poison, holds an incredibly large amount of red wine
94 (A mosaic tile with a multicolored, glazed surface) part of a visual puzzle that unlocks the treasure, can be used to convince birds to cooperate, bears the initials of the worst artist in the city
95 (A petrified mouse) the last ingredient in a hag’s spell, summons a swarm of rats when burned, scampers realistically on the ground
96 (A black pirate flag adorned with a dragon's skull and crossbones) gains entrance to a secret order of dragonborn pirates, once flown by the most feared pirate in the world, laced with magical power that causes fright and uncertainty
97 (A tiny mechanical crab or spider that moves about when it's not being observed) organizes messes, a spy for a secret gnome guild, will move and distract guards from their posts
98 (A glass jar containing lard with a label that reads, "Griffon Grease") tanning oil for the champion griffin rider’s saddle, causes wings to grow when drunk, can be sold in certain cities at a very high price
99 (A wooden box with a ceramic bottom that holds a living worm with a head on each end of its body) amplifies charming effects when worm is placed inside a bard’s drum, secretly an immortal minor deity, transforms any drink into tequila
00 (A metal urn containing the ashes of a hero) creates a dust storm when opened near evil creatures, can be crafted into a potion of valor, the lost trophy of a powerful evil warlord

Thanks for reading!