Unlocking the Vault is a new series that dives into magic items from the Vault of Magic. Each installment looks at one particular magic item.
We’ll look into variant rules or ways to bend the current rules, to make items even more interesting and fun to use. And we’ll offer ways to integrate items into your campaign world, introduce them to the player characters, and make the item more useful to player characters and NPCs.
The Potion of Bouncing
The immediate benefits of drinking this potion are straightforward. You become immune to falling damage. Also, if you take a fall, you don’t go splat at the bottom; instead, you bounce.
At lower levels, this can be a real boon. The damage immunity is very specific, but its source is fairly common. In areas where the chance of falling is a serious concern—whether a dungeon full of pit traps or a precarious climb up a treacherous mountain trail—the potion of bouncing is a great safety net for beginning adventurers.
Bouncing as a unique form of movement can help overcome difficult obstacles. Pits are an obvious choice. Just fall into the pit, bounce up, and grab the ledge on the other side. If you slip and fall, bounce back and try again.
Trapped on a castle wall? Jump off and bounce away to safety, leaving your opponents to take the stairs. Need to get a prisoner out of their cell at the top of the tower? Pick up your target and go out the window. If you’re climbing a sheer wall, fail your check, and fall, you’ll bounce back to the same height you fell from (assuming you fall straight down). When you reach the height of your bounce, make another Dexterity check to grab onto the wall again. On a success, you’ve lost no ground and can continue on your way up.
This item is great as is, but let’s tweak it a bit. Suppose that, in addition to the immunity to falling damage, the rubbery transformation of the potion grants resistance to bludgeoning damage. After all, getting hit with a mace isn’t the same as hitting the ground; the impact is more concentrated, so an improved potion of bouncing wouldn’t completely negate it.
This is good, but it’s not enough to take the item out of the uncommon category. Let’s give it one more nudge. Suppose the bouncing ability worked if the drinker were shooting upward rather than plummeting downwards? Or what if the subject hurtled horizontally rather than vertically?
Horizontal bouncing opens up a whole new use case. You could make running leaps at walls to create sudden shifts in your movement. If an enemy action knocks you back into a solid object like a wall, you could bounce back to your original position. Reaching a high space could be as simple as having a strong party member hurl you at up at a wall, then angling the bounce to take you high enough to reach your destination. This expansion of the potion’s abilities could easily be adapted without putting the item out of the uncommon category as well. Combined with resistance to bludgeoning damage, I might nudge it up into the rare category.
Introducing the Potion of Bouncing into Your Game
Here are a few adventure hooks to introduce a potion of bouncing into your game.
The Bouncing Bandits. A group of robbers displaying strange, magical powers has been on a crime spree—local law enforcement is unable to stop them. These bandits are being supplied with potions of bouncing by an alchemist, either willingly or under duress. Defeating the bandits could lead the PCs back to the alchemist, or they could track down the potion-maker first, dealing with that before defeating the outlaws. The alchemist provides them with the formula for making more potions of this type, either as a reward or in exchange for his life/freedom.
Component Quest. An alchemist, wizard, or just someone inquisitive and experimental has plans for a new potion. First, they need the proper ingredients. Enter: the PCs. They’re given a list of items to procure that are rare, hard to reach, or inherently dangerous. Possibilities include: sap from a particular tree that only grows deep in a dangerous jungle; a pair of legs from a giant frog, and its tongue; the fruiting body of at least five boomer fungi, in part or whole; materials that have a springy, rubbery quality or come from creatures with resistance to bludgeoning damage due to a spongy or otherwise resilient body.
Field Testing. The PCs are hired to delve into a dungeon known for hazardous terrain—pits, chasms, unstable floors—and their patron provides potions of bouncing to help ensure success. The patron might be more interested in field tests of their new potion than recovering anything from the dungeon. If the mission is a success, the patron sells the formula to interested parties, and the potion becomes readily available in the campaign for the right price.
Get details on the potion of bouncing and 900 more magic items in Vault of Magic available at the Kobold Press store! New armor, weapons,rings, and yes, potions, plus more than 30 unique items developed by special guests, including Patrick Rothfuss, Gail Simone, Deborah Ann Woll, and Luke Gygax. Vault of Magic is on sale now!