Contraptions of Unstable in D&D

Unstable is released this weekend, with weird and wacky mad science themed cards, so I’m translating a few of those to D&D for a particularly off the wild post this week. Stability? IRRELEVANT! (Disclaimer – whether these artifacts are too powerful or silly for your own game is at your Dungeon Master’s Discretion!)

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Bee-Bee Gun
Musket – Rare
This multi-barrelled firearm has 6 charges, and regains 1d6 charges when you complete a long rest. When making an attack with this weapon, you may expend a charge for the attack to 1d6 points of poison damage in addition to its normal damage. If this attack scores a critical hit, this weapon deals no damage. Instead, a Swarm of Insects appears within 5 feet of the target. The swarm acts immediately after you in initiative order, and is under your control.

(Rules for a musket can be found on page 268 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide)
I decided that contraptions should work in a similar way to magic staves, using the charges mechanic to represent the energy powering each odd mechanical contraption, mirroring the cranking mechanic. This item specifically made sense as something that can deal poison damage, with the critical hit ability representing unloading an entire magazine of … bees.

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Faerie Aerie
Wondrous Item – Very Rare
This summoning cage has 3 charges, and regains 1 charge when you complete a long rest. As a bonus action, you may expend one of this items charges to summon 2 Sprites into two empty spaces within 5 feet of you. The sprites act after you in initiative order, and will follow any commands you give them that will not put them in direct danger; giving an order does not require an action. The sprites disappear 2d6 minutes after being summoned. 

I initially toyed with this item as something that is used specifically in combat, and that the sprites would disappear after 1d4 turns, but allowing them to stay for longer, but not putting themselves in danger felt more flavourful for the spy theme, allowing them to stay long enough to, for example, sneak into a tight space and steal some information. With their ability to turn invisible, and poisoned shortbows, sprites make a perfect representation of Faerie Agents of S.N.E.A.K.

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Gnomeball Machine
Wondrous Item – Rare
This cranking mechanism, topped by a glass sphere containing many metal spheres, has 6 charges, and regains 1d4 charges when you complete a long rest.
As an action you may expend one charge on this item to create 2 Tiny Servants into 2 empty spaces within 5 feet of you. If you cannot place all of the tiny servants, you only create those that you can place. After 8 hours, or when reduced to zero hit points, these Tiny Servants turn into inanimate metal spheres, which reappear inside the glass top of this item.

I originally considered using Monodrones to represent the gnomes this item produces, but the Tiny Servant spell from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything seemed to present a tiny construct that better represented the 1/1 mechanical gnomes. I added the time limit to make the item consistent with the Tiny Servant spell, and to put it on a similar limit to most other summoning items and abilities in D&D.

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Mandatory Friendship Shackles
Wondrous Item – Rare (requires attunement)
This animated set of shackles has 3 charges, and regains 1 charge when you complete a long rest. As an action you may expend one charge to shackle a restrained creature with this item. When this set of shackles is worn by a creature, it is charmed by the character attuned to this item. However, the wearer finds the shackles extremely uncomfortable, making it complain loudly about them while wearing them, and starts trying to take them off every 1d4 minutes. A character attuned to this item may convince the wearer not to remove it by making a DC 15 Charisma check. On a success, the wearer doesn’t try to remove the shackles until 1d4 minutes have passed again. On a failure, the wearer starts spends its next action removing the shackles, which can be escaped by succeeding either a DC 16 Strength check, or a DC 16 Dexterity check. 

I really love the idea of this as an enforced friendship item (thus charming the target), and thought that the wearer would be loudly complaining and constantly trying to remove the items retains its usefulness but makes it into an item that is perhaps more trouble than it’s worth for all the annoying conversations from whining NPCs with really itchy wrists…

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Turbo-Thwacking Auto-Hammer
Light Hammer – Rare

This jumble of chained together hammers has 8 charges, and regains 1d6 charges when you complete a long rest.

When you make a successful attack roll with this weapon, you may expend one charge to roll damage 1d6 times, and add together the results.

As Unstable uses a lot of dice rolls unexpected in Magic, I wanted to work out a way to represent that in D&D, which uses dice rolls for so many aspects of the game, which subsequently would not be unusual to add a dice roll to. Rolling for the amount of times you roll damage is a bit less usual, and, given just how bizarre this weapon is, felt the most appropriate out-of-place dice roll for it.

There will be one more Unstable post coming this weekend, which you’ll be able to find in my Unstable tag!

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