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D&D 5E What should this magic item's rarity be?

Quickleaf

Legend
I wrote up a magic item that transforms its drinker's appearance into that of a demon. What should its rarity be?


Demonform Elixir
Wondrous item, ?

When you imbibe this alchemical elixir as an action, you undergo a violent transformation as your physical appearance transforms into that of a demon. Roll on the Demons of Azzagrat table in Appendix A to determine the type of demon. This transformation is purely cosmetic; you do not gain any of the stats of your new form and you retain your creature type. The transformation lasts for 1 hour, though you can attempt to maintain the form by force of will for up to 8 hours. For each hour beyond the first, you can spend a hit die and make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw to maintain the demonic form.

Detect magic will not determine you are under the effects of magic, but other abilities which sense creature type or alignment will determine you are not what you seem.

However, for non-demons the transformation has a randomly determined side effect.

Side Effects of a Demonform Elixir
d10Side Effect
1The transformation is particularly painful, causing you to expend 1d4 hit dice if the form is the same size as you, or 2d4 hit dice if the form is larger or smaller. Any hit dice which you lack, roll and reduce your hit points by that amount.
2You gain a demonic roleplaying flaw for the duration. Roll on the Demonic Flaws table in Appendix A.
3You suffer temporary amnesia for the duration, forgetting your immediate mission, all passwords and command words, a key detail about your past, and you forget half of your prepared spells (if an artificer, cleric, druid, paladin, or wizard).
4Your appearance matches that of a well-known named demon believed to be deceased or in the Blood War. This may create complications for you in Azzagrat.
5You give off a terrible odor. Celestials and devils become hostile to you for the duration.
6You are stricken by gastrointestinal discomfort and halfway through the duration you transform again! Roll on Demons of Azzagrat table in Appendix A to determine your new form.
7If you behold a reflection of your demonic form, you become frightened of the reflection until the reflection is no longer in your line of sight.
8You are poisoned for the duration. While you are poisoned in this way, you can faintly hear telepathic conversations occurring between fiends within 100 feet. You cannot pinpoint where the conversations are coming from, and you only are able to understand bits and pieces.
9Some aspect of the transformation becomes permanent (e.g. you may be stuck with vestigial bat-like wings or a demonic sounding voice).
10You are targeted by a possessor demon. Roll on the Appendix A tables to determine the demon’s nature. If you fail a DC 15 Charisma saving throw, the demon gradually takes over, gaining full control when the duration ends.
 

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Quickleaf

Legend
So, a disguise self with limitations of a demonic appearance and gimpy quirks? Sounds like a common/uncommon cursed magic item at best.
Well, there are a couple key differences from disguise self...
  • This is a physiological transformation, NOT an illusion. Thus, unlike disguise self, the changes hold up to physical inspection & there is no option to make an Intelligence (Investigation) check to "see through" the transformation.
  • As I've written my draft, it is NOT a magical effect. Thus detect magic (e.g. cast by a glabrezu) would not sense the transformation.
  • The transformation is more extensive than disguise self – i.e. it's not limited to "You can seem 1 foot shorter or taller and can appear thin, fat, or in between. You can't change your body type, so you must adopt a form that has the same basic arrangement of limbs."
A better comparison might be a non-detectable version of alter self, without requiring concentration.
 


Quickleaf

Legend
It really depends on the lore. Is this stuff made by a single guy? Very Rare. Is it something you want everyone to have access to? Common. Rarity does not mean power level.
The lore is that a coven of night hags loyal to the demon lord Graz'zt create these elixirs, and they are available for sale in the markets of the demon lord's city.

I appreciate if you're trying to say that the item is "power neutral", but item rarity directly corresponds to power (e.g. potion of healing compared to potion of superior healing, sword of sharpness compared to vorpal sword, etc). So in additional to the lore aspect which you brought up, there is also a balance/comparison question.
 


Redwizard007

Explorer
The lore is that a coven of night hags loyal to the demon lord Graz'zt create these elixirs, and they are available for sale in the markets of the demon lord's city.

I appreciate if you're trying to say that the item is "power neutral", but item rarity directly corresponds to power (e.g. potion of healing compared to potion of superior healing, sword of sharpness compared to vorpal sword, etc). So in additional to the lore aspect which you brought up, there is also a balance/comparison question.

Nah. Go all lore. There are plenty of magic items that blow the rarity = power standard out the window. For these potions, they'd be common or uncommon in this one particular city and very rare outside it.

BUT

Since you are focused more on power level, I'd suggest first thinking about why the coven makes these in the first place and how frequent you want them used by NPCs in your campaign. Then deduce likely defensive measures used to counter the potions based on their frequency of use. I could see them as rare or very rare if no one is using any countermeasures. This could even be the initial production run, in which case unique is a possibility. More likely, the spies of other demons are aware they exist and have simple counters to prevent easy access to their fortresses. If counters exist, than making these uncommon wouldn't be unreasonable. It basically boils down to how powerful you WANT them to be.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
Thanks @Stormonu @Paul Farquhar @Redwizard007 for your feedback!

There's a second item I'm designing that breaks the mold a bit, and I could use the wisdom of the sages of ENWorld to help iron out the kinks... I want a magic item that can turn an illusion of a creature or object into a REAL creature or object. Also, as the adventure includes a fair number of succubi, night hags, and nightmares -I want the item to have an alternate use to temporarily inhibit their ability to turn ethereal.

What do I need to consider in designing this item?

Are there special considerations to take in regards to the consequences of turning an illusion into a real creature or object in D&D? Limits I need to impose? (e.g. one idea would be it cannot create magic items or creatures with legendary actions)

Does my rough draft look like a very rare item, approximately?

Dust of Phantasmal Manifestation
Wondrous item, very rare

Found in a small container, this pearlescent white dust glows faintly when touched. There is enough of it for one use. When you use an action to throw the dust on an illusion within 10 feet of you, the illusion magically becomes a real object or creature. However, if dispel magic is cast upon the object or creature, it reverts back to being an illusion; if the illusion was the result of a spell, treat it as if the spell was just cast by its original caster.

Alternately, when you use an action to throw the dust at a creature within 10 feet of you which has the ability to become ethereal, that creature must succeed a DC 20 Constitution saving throw or be unable to enter the Ethereal Plane for 1 minute.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Sounds like an update of the old 1E Shadow magic spells, in item form.

Probably want a CR limit or make a generic stat block for any monster made real by the dust. Might be a good idea to have “levels” of the dust - lesser, standard, greater - that have CR ranges they can affect (or spells - maybe Lesser can only affect 1st-2nd level spells, such as Phantasmal Force, while standard affects 3rd-4th and greater affects 5th+).

Another consideration might be the HP illusion creatures gains. 1E Shadow magic gave it in percentages (10%, 20%, etc.); for 5E, it might be better to set it at X hit points per HD (say 1 HP/HD for lesser, 3 hp/HD for standard, 5 hp/HD for greater) - keeping in mind Large+ creatures use bigger HD (1d10, 1d12, 1d20). The wording of Simulacrum would probably be a great help here.

I’d be curious to see what your expectations would be if someone used this dust on Mirror Image - would you get a Simulacrum or Clone equivalent from it?

If you use the lesser, standard, greater format you’ll want to tweak the DC for the secondary effect.
 


ad_hoc

Hero
Rarity is literally a measure of how many of them there are.

So how many do you want there to be?

Are there only a few in existence? Very Rare

Can you buy them in town? Common
 

Stormonu

Legend
Another thing to consider with objects - with the likes of silent image, you could create the illusion of a 5 foot high by 5 foot wide stack of gold bars. Hit it with this dust…are you ready to deal with the consequences?
 

Quickleaf

Legend
Sounds like an update of the old 1E Shadow magic spells, in item form.

Probably want a CR limit or make a generic stat block for any monster made real by the dust. Might be a good idea to have “levels” of the dust - lesser, standard, greater - that have CR ranges they can affect (or spells - maybe Lesser can only affect 1st-2nd level spells, such as Phantasmal Force, while standard affects 3rd-4th and greater affects 5th+).

Another consideration might be the HP illusion creatures gains. 1E Shadow magic gave it in percentages (10%, 20%, etc.); for 5E, it might be better to set it at X hit points per HD (say 1 HP/HD for lesser, 3 hp/HD for standard, 5 hp/HD for greater) - keeping in mind Large+ creatures use bigger HD (1d10, 1d12, 1d20). The wording of Simulacrum would probably be a great help here.

I’d be curious to see what your expectations would be if someone used this dust on Mirror Image - would you get a Simulacrum or Clone equivalent from it?

If you use the lesser, standard, greater format you’ll want to tweak the DC for the secondary effect.
Another thing to consider with objects - with the likes of silent image, you could create the illusion of a 5 foot high by 5 foot wide stack of gold bars. Hit it with this dust…are you ready to deal with the consequences?
Thanks very much! Yeah, my initial points of comparison were Nolzur's Marvelous Pigments (very rare) and Ring of Wishes (legendary). I haven't looked at 1E shadow magic in ages, so making the connection between that and simulacrum is brilliant.

Exactly, about the mirror image clone. There are maaaany corner cases. For example, what if you use it on a creature concealing its identity with illusion? On the one hand, it's super tricky to design for. On the other hand, my intent is an item which really encourages players getting creative. So with the mirror image clone, one difference between this magic item and simulacrum is that your simulacrum is always friendly & obedient to you. Not so with this item - the creature brought over from illusion has its own sentience and desires. I'm strongly tempted to include a provision that it if used to create a copy of an existing creature, it has an alignment opposite to that creature (i.e. Neutral Good mage sprinkles the dust on one of his mirror images, and brings into being a Neutral Evil version of himself). Of course, that means it maybe could be weaponized against enemies using mirror image, in which case there'd need to be a saving throw. Still on the fence about that.

Thinking on it a bit more, I've made a revision to my draft, with the revised portions in orange...


Dust of Phantasmal Manifestation
Wondrous item, very rare

Found in a small container, this pearlescent white dust glows faintly when touched. There is enough of it for one use. It can be used to make an illusion real, polymorph a creature shrouded in an illusory guise to a form matching its guise, or prevent a creature from entering the Ethereal Plane.

Make Illusions Real. When you use an action to throw the dust on an illusion within 10 feet of you, the illusion becomes a real nonmagical object or creature for 24 hours. Thereafter you must roll a d20 at the beginning of every new 24 hour period; on a roll of 9 or less, the object or creature reverts to being an illusion. Additionally, if dispel magic is cast upon the object or creature, it reverts back to being an illusion. If the illusion was the result of a spell, treat it as if the spell was just cast by its original caster. No object created by the dust can have a value greater than 25,000 gp. Any creature brought into being by using the dust cannot have legendary actions and it has half the creature's hit point maximum. The creature has its own sentience and desires.

Embody the Disguise. When you use an action to throw the dust at a creature within 10 feet of you that is shrouded in an illusory guise, the creature must succeed a DC 20 Wisdom saving throw or be polymorphed into a form matching its illusory guise. The creature retains its alignment and personality, but otherwise its statistics are those of its new form. If reduced to 0 hit points, the creature resumes its true form. This effect lasts for 24 hours.

Bind the Ethereal. Alternately, when you use an action to throw the dust at a creature within 10 feet of you. If the creature has the ability to enter the Ethereal Plane, that creature must succeed a DC 20 Constitution saving throw or be unable to enter the Ethereal Plane for 24 hours.
 


Quickleaf

Legend
The effect has to be magical. Otherwise it would be permanent.
Thanks, mate. To which part are you referring? Is it this...?

Make Illusions Real. When you use an action to throw the dust on an illusion within 10 feet of you, the illusion becomes a real nonmagical object or creature for 24 hours.

If so, the intent is for the adjective "nonmagical" to apply to the noun "object" and "object" alone. To make that clearer I could write: "...becomes a real creature or nonmagical object for 24 hours." ?
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
RAI question...

What happens if the dust is used by a party on the Ethereal, on a creature on the Ethereal plane?

(No effect? Eject from Ethereal? Prevent from leaving the Ethereal? Or..?)​

That might or might not be a point you'd want to clarify in the verbiage. (I'm asking only because it was the main obvious potential rules issue that popped into my head!)
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Thanks, mate. To which part are you referring? Is it this...?

Make Illusions Real. When you use an action to throw the dust on an illusion within 10 feet of you, the illusion becomes a real nonmagical object or creature for 24 hours.

If so, the intent is for the adjective "nonmagical" to apply to the noun "object" and "object" alone. To make that clearer I could write: "...becomes a real creature or nonmagical object for 24 hours." ?

The effects last up to 8 hours, but then reverts. Let's say the potion has given you a huge nose and blue skin to imitate a particular fiend. If the changes then reverts, it means that the effect is magical, as your nose won't spontaneously "ungrow" back to its normal shape.
 

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