The D&D Emporium: Chime of Opening
The D&D Emporium is a series dedicated to exploring magic items found in The Dungeon Master's Guide and offering advice for how a Dungeon Master can introduce them into their campaign setting.
What is a Chime of Opening?
A Chime of Opening is a magical item that mimics the knock spell, allowing the user to magically open locks. The Dungeon Master’s Guide doesn’t explicitly describe it as “knock in an item,” but its effects are similar enough to that spell to place it in the transmutation school of magic.
How Much Does it Cost?
A rare wondrous item, a Chime of Opening costs about 5,000 GP.
What Does it Do?
When pointed at a lock within 120 feet and struck to produce a tone, the lock will open. Each use opens one bolt, and it can be used ten times before it cracks.
Assuming it works like the knock spell, a Chime of Opening will unlock an object locked with the arcane lock spell for ten minutes, after which time the arcane lock will retake effect.
Will it Break My Game?
If thieves’ tools and knock spells don’t break the game, then a Chime of Opening probably won’t either. Its rarity and price tag also help to balance its utility.
If you really want to keep your players out of a particular room, the area surrounding the door could be warded with a silence spell, making the Chime of Opening useless.
A more mundane yet perhaps more paranoid way to protect treasures against a Chime of Opening is placing eleven locks on a door or chest. Since the item only has ten charges and it takes one charge to open each lock, using eleven locks will render the item useless.
What Does it Look Like?
The Chime of Opening looks like a typical chime: a foot-long, one-pound metal tube, its metal beater (the object used to strike the chime to produce a tone) attached to a ring at one end by a chain or string.
Where Might the Party Have Seen One?
Because it can be mistaken for a regular chime, the party might come across one and either overlook it or sell it as though it were a mundane item. They might not realize that this is more than a tube of metal until they find an overeager buyer for this seemingly useless trinket.
In the 2e Encyclopedia Magica, the Chime of Opening is associated with bards, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to carry over this association to your 5e campaign. The item might be found in the inventory of a bard, and a bardic college might outfit its faculty and students with these chimes to provide limited access to different parts of the college.
Where and How Are They Made?
All that is needed to construct a Chime of Opening is a chime, the knock spell, and the time and money required to craft the item. Crafting magic items often require special components, so you may require your players to find a particular type of metal and then have a renowned smith in a distant land craft the chime.
Continuing with the bardic theme, bards craft them at bardic colleges, and they may even be sold at magical music stores in a high magic campaign setting.
An item that opens other people’s locks, however, might only be constructed in more nefarious settings such as thieves’ guilds. Being caught in possession of one might raise a guard’s suspicions.
Where Can They Be Obtained?
In a high-magic setting, the same people who make them might also sell them. The bards who craft them may be willing to part with one for a hefty price, or a party might be able to commission a bard to construct one.
In a low-magic setting, a Chime of Opening might be found in the private collection of the master of the bardic guild or college or in the reliquary of a temple that uses music in their rites.
Both situations contain the seeds of an adventure if you make the players gather the crafting components themselves.
How About a Different Way?
Since the item is a foot long, it is difficult to conceal, but it’s not impossible to imagine a criminal in chains hiding a Chime of Opening in their clothing and using it to unlock their manacles.
In a high-magic setting, the Chime of Opening’s chime and beater might take the place of a lock and key. Since the beater is attached to the chime, and both are needed to use the item, a Quest Master may reasonably establish that the two objects are enchanted together, and only a particular beater can activate a specific chime.
A door’s locking mechanism may be hidden inside the door so that it cannot be picked. The chime would be secured flush to the wall beside the door, perpendicular to the door jamb, so that it is pointing at the lock hidden inside the door.
Only the person possessing the chime’s beater can activate the chime and open the door. Without the beater, the only alternatives are the knock spell, which produces a thunderous knocking sound that would alert anyone within 300 ft. to the presence of intruders, and beating the door down, a similarly noisy strategy likely to attract unwanted attention.
Finally, an interesting riddle would involve a chest with multiple locks that must be opened in a certain order. Chimes of Opening tuned to different frequencies open each lock, so the party would have to somehow figure out the melody that opens the locks in the right order.
Magic items like the Chime of Opening are fun ways to add some flavor to otherwise bland scenarios. How have you used the Chime of Opening in your campaign as a Dungeon Master?