• John J. O'Hara

Chime of Opening: Why Your D&D Adventuring Party Needs One

The lord mayor has contracted your party to collect evidence that will implicate a rival aristocrat of consorting with an evil cult. You are now attempting to infiltrate the aristocrat’s heavily-guarded villa quietly. The door is locked.

The guard you took down didn’t have a key on him, so the party’s rogue tries to pick the lock, but its complexity thwarts his abilities. Your wizard has a knock spell prepared, but you don’t want to alert everyone within 300 feet of your presence. The half-orc barbarian’s ill-advised suggestion, “bash,” is similarly impractical.

What do you do now? You ring your magical doorbell, the Chime of Opening!

The slender chime produces a soft, bright tone, and inside the door you hear the locking mechanisms sliding out of place. Carefully, the fighter takes the lead and eases the creaking door open. The party creeps inside and collectively exhales, the first part of their mission accomplished.

This small metal tube may look like a simple wind chime, but it can be a vital addition to a party’s lock-picking arsenal.

What is a Chime of Opening?

A Chime of Opening is a foot-long, one-pound, hollow cylinder of metal. Attached to one end by a chain is a metal beater, which is used to strike the chime. When pointed at a lock within 120 feet and struck to produce a tone, the lock will open. Each use opens one bolt or latch, and you can use it ten times before it cracks and becomes useless.

How Do I Craft One?

Neither the Player’s Handbook or the Dungeon Master’s Guide provide detailed rules for crafting, so work with your Dungeon Master (we call them Quest Masters) to determine what exactly you need to craft this item. This Unearthed Arcana article might help. You can craft items as a downtime activity. You may be asked to complete additional quests to gather the right materials.

Where Can I Buy One?

If your Quest Master has opted to allow the purchase of magic items, your party may purchase a Chime of Opening for about 5,000 GP. Bardic colleges or performers’ guilds might sell music-themed magic items such as this.

A Chime of Opening, however, being an item used to open locks whose keys you don’t possess--locks protecting other people’s property--might only be available from more nefarious institutions such a thieves’ guilds. You may inquire about commissioning a wizard to craft the item, but again, the crafter might want to know why you need such an item.

What Can I Do With It?

There are times when you need to open a lock, but the usual lock-opening options are unavailable for various reasons. Here are a few scenarios in which a Chime of Opening will prove useful.

  • Use it as a rogue replacement. If your party doesn’t have a rogue or a wizard who can cast knock, a Chime of Opening serves as an adequate substitute. The item has ten charges, so if you’re required to unlock a door just once or twice per session, you might want to make sure you always keep one in stock.

  • Use it when you can’t physically reach the lock. Gnolls abducted your party’s allies. You’ve fought your way through their lair to the chamber where they are being held in cages. Now nothing stands between you and your allies except an angry pack of elite gnoll warriors. If only you could free your imprisoned friends! But you remember you can! You ring the Chime of Opening five times while the rest of the party does their best to hold off the gnolls, and the locks on the cages open, the chains clanking to the ground, turning the tide of battle in your favor.

  • Use it to sow mischief. The item description says that the chime opens one lock or latch. See how far you can stretch the definition of a “lock or latch.” As the bandits rush your party, strike the chime at the sandal strap of the bandit in front and watch them slip, taking the rest of the bandits down in the process.

Maybe you can also unlatch the chandelier chain in the mansion’s antechamber and watch it plummet onto that vampire.

Or, less childishly, unlatch an enemy warrior’s breastplate in the heat of battle.

Magic items like this one are consumables, and are meant to be consumed! If you have one in your inventory, don’t be afraid to use it. If your Quest Master puts you in a situation where this item would come in handy, they probably want you to use it. It is a rare item, but it’s not so precious that you have to conserve its ten charges like it’s water in the desert.

Has a Chime of Opening ever come in handy in one of your campaigns? Let us know below!


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