Making Tools Useful in 5e: Glassblower's Tools
Other tools: Navigator’s Tools, Leatherworker’s Tools, Cobbler’s Tools, Poisoner’s Kit, Cartographer’s Tools, Alchemist’s Supplies, Mason’s Tools, Gaming Sets, Tinker’s Tools, Healer’s Kit, Brewer’s Supplies, Smith’s Tools & Cooking Utensils.
Another week, another tool! And this one threw me for a loop. How do you deal with glassblower’s tools in an adventuring game? Getting glass to melt takes hours to do and extreme temperatures that a regular campfire just can’t reach. Glass has to melt before you can work with it, unlike steel that just needs to be heated up to a malleable temperature. I wanted to do something where an adventurer could merge adventure and glass into something dangerous, deadly… and maybe even a bit fantastical.
For those that don’t care about the how of my tool:
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As is tradition, let’s check in with Xanathar and say mean things about their tools. Flip to page 82 of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything:
Someone proficient with glassblower's tools has not only the ability to shape glass but also specialized knowledge of the methods used to produce glass objects.
Components. The tools include a blowpipe, a small marver, blocks, and tweezers. You need a source of heat to work glass.
Arcana, History. Your knowledge of glassmaking techniques aids you when you examine glass objects, such as potion bottles or glass items found in a treasure hoard. For instance, you can study how a glass potion bottle has been changed by its contents to help determine a potion's effects. (A potion might leave behind a residue, deform the glass, or stain it.)
Investigation. When you study an area, your knowledge can aid you if the clues include broken glass or glass objects.
Identify Weakness. With 1 minute of study, you can identify the weak points in a glass object. Any damage dealt to the object by striking a weak spot is doubled.
Oh boy, you can learn how to deal double damage to a glass object! Of course, you have to study it for a minute, meanwhile, the barbarian just walks over to it and starts slamming it on for a solid minute. Pretty sure any double damage you were going to do can easily be accomplished in the minute you spent staring at it.
All the examples it provides is just lacking and doesn’t do much. I guess being able to determine how old or where a glass jug came from in the treasure hoard can be useful, but that feels highly situational and probably isn’t information you should be hiding behind a skill check with a niche tool.
Before we get into the tool, let’s go over a bit of information about glassworking. To get glass to melt, you need to get it to around 2,300 °F or higher. That’s pretty damn hot, and as I discussed on smith’s tools, a campfire only gets around 2,000 °F… not quite warm enough for our purposes plus the glass needs to sit in a crucible for hours to get the bubbles out. This means, our adventurers can only work on their glass projects while in a large enough town to have a glassblower and be able to rent out a workspace there.
This is great to help make the players more involved in the city. Maybe the glassworker will let them freely use the furnace, but he has a problem as his glass cullet supplier hasn’t delivered his stock yet. Or maybe the glassworker has a huge order for a nearby castle being built and will let the adventurer use his furnace if the adventurer helps out a little bit.
Furthermore, I’m just going to assume that if someone is proficient in glassblower’s tools, they can make mundane objects fairly easily and doesn’t require a check. In fact, they can make a number of mundane objects equal to twice their Dexterity Modifier plus their Proficiency Bonus. At level 20, with a +5 Dexterity modifier, they could be producing 22 mundane projects a day! That’s a pretty good retirement for an adventurer that just wants to relax after saving the world for the nth time. Now, some projects are larger than others and per DM discretion certain tasks will take longer.
What exactly am I imagining for our glassblower’s tools that could be more useful than figuring out how to break glass effectively? Well, I’m glad you asked! See, I want to combine the murderhobo thinking mind of the adventurer and merge it with the analytical mind of the glassblower. How can they use their ability to create glass objects for the betterment of murdering hapless monsters and fearsome villagers? By introducing a mechanic known as bleed in the past editions.
This is a fun ability that we see a little bit at play in the Bearded Devil’s Glaive:
Glaive. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d10 + 3) slashing damage. If the target is a creature other than an undead or a construct, it must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or lose 5 (1d10) hit points at the start of each of its turns due to an infernal wound. Each time the devil hits the wounded target with this attack, the damage dealt by the wound increases by 5 (1d10). Any creature can take an action to stanch the wound with a successful DC 12 Wisdom (Medicine) check. The wound also closes if the target receives magical healing.
I’ve knocked down ferocious characters with that glaive, and it has earned a place in my heart as an ability that could definitely use a bit more love. So, I’m taking it into our Hollowed Weapons. These weapons are made of blown glass with a hollow center, purposefully weak so that they break off on impact and leaving themselves embedded in the target creature.
But, 1d10 damage at the start of the round is pretty powerful, so let’s go ahead and drop that to 1d4 damage at the start of the round, and when the archer inevitably shoots off 8 of these hollowed arrowheads in the monster, let’s not allow the 1d4 to stack but rather the damage dealt will increase by +1 for each additional hollowed weapon used against it. So if the archer action surges and shoots off 8 Hollowed Arrows into our fearsome monster, they’ll take 1d4 + 7 points of damage at the start of their turn. Not too shabby for a bit of damage that will force concentration checks and even force a boss to take a moment to rip out glass shards… I mean, how many bosses have clerics on their side to heal them?
The answer is not enough.
Another fun idea, that one of our Patrons had, was to have some sort of glass armor a la Armor of Agathys. Taking that, I created the glass shirt. A simple plate of glass that goes over medium or heavy armor and when struck by anything explodes out in a 15 ft cube. This could be really good if struck by a raging barbarian, less good if an errant crossbow bolt comes out of nowhere and causes you to prematurely explode.
Something else I realized while researching this tool is that spyglasses cost 1,000 gp. That seems a bit ridiculous to me and I dropped the price quite significantly if you make your own. I think a more accurate price would be anywhere from 50 to 100 gp for a spyglass with only a 2x magnification. The more powerful a spyglass, the more expensive to make it.
Transparent as Glass
And that’s my glassworker’s tools! Not really much to say about it except it came out a bit more interesting than I thought! I love being able to use some of the monster abilities and giving the players their own versions of it so that they get to gloat when they do it to me! I hope you join us here next week when I do something new…
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