The D&D Emporium: Dust of Dissapearance
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 Dust of Disappearance?
Dust of Disappearance is a classic item within Dungeons and Dragons and calls to mind a number of the power fantasies many of us have had. A sand-like dust kept in small packages, Dust of Disappearance is thrown into the air above the user and makes them and any creature or object within 10 feet of them Invisible as well.
How Much Does It Cost?
As an item of Uncommon Rarity, a single pouch of the dust could cost up to 500 gold pieces.
What Does It Do?
Dust of Disappearance is a relatively powerful tool, certainly for Rogues who may need a get-out-of-jail-free card if a heist or pick-pocketing was to go wrong. As described above, the Dust is thrown above the head of the user, covering a 10 foot area with its Illusion magic.
Any creatures and objects within that area are rendered Invisible for 2d4 minutes (this should be rolled whilst activating the Dust), or until they take damage or attack an enemy. The Dust is one-use only.
Will It Break My Game?
This is highly unlikely. During early stages of a campaign, with players lower than level five, this magical item will likely be too expensive and situational for the party to invest their hard-earned drinking money into.
Even at higher levels, it is unlikely to cause you any issues. High-level players have access to spells like Greater Invisibility or Pass Without Trace and will likely consider Dust of Disappearance not worth their time.
Major uses for the Dust, especially after 3rd level, include helping Assassin Rogues gain Surprise, sneaking the Barbarian into a strategic point on the battlefield, and helping the Wizard low on Spell Slots escape from combat.
What Does It Look Like?
Dust of Disappearance could take on many different physical descriptions. Narrating the magical item as a seemingly empty pouch that feels heavy with sand might confuse your players. Let them dab a finger into the Dust and remove it with spots missing where the Dust has clung on. Alternatively, you might describe an iridescent sand that glitters brightly even without light to reflect.
When used, you might narrate any number of effects. Whether you describe a classic Batman-style black smoke which leaves no trace of the character once it clears, or a more ethereal slow motion disappearance under snowflake-like dust, be sure to make the transition dramatic!
Where Might the Party Have Seen One?
The party could have encountered Dust of Disappearance at any level, maybe even in the first session! Introducing an early stage villain who throws the Dust into the air, vanishing just moments before the party catches or defeats them, could create an amazing introduction to a flamboyant and dramatic enemy.
Beyond singular enemies, the Dust could be given to small-scale leaders like a Red Fang of Shargaas. During encounters with the party, they’d have an easy means of escape if the fight doesn’t go their way. Your players will need to adapt to ensure the villain doesn’t get another chance to regroup and try this again during future conflicts.
Where Can They Be Obtained?
Purchasing some Dust of Disappearance would be relatively easy for those with shady friends (especially if you have someone in the party with a criminal contact). Going to a seedy shop that supplies Rogues with the tools of their trade or a crooked Wizard selling black-market magical items could also yield some Dust of Disappearance.
Where and How Are They Made?
Simply enough, Dust of Disappearance can be made by enchanting handfuls of sand with Invisibility. However, if you wished to use a more interesting method, you might say the dust is made by grinding the skin of an Invisible Stalker or a Skulk.
How About a Different Way?
Alternatively, the Dust of Disappearance could be the product of some other magical process. Perhaps a Wizard was attempting to create Phantom Steeds and the process went horribly wrong, vaporizing the would-be invisible horses. The resulting dust could have been collected and sold to the players as Dust of Disappearance.
The Dust of Disappearance is a very niche item. It provides a very specific function and that can make it hard to apply to the world. A great idea for making this item more common is positioning it as a spore from an Underdark fungus. Imagine this:
The city of Anor is set above a chasm filled with a hive of these fungi. Dust of Disappearance is now a commonly appearing item for miles around and it has unleashed many of the inhabitant's worst features. Theft, murder and other crimes run rampant within Anor as anyone with even the slightest wish to commit a crime now has the perfect escape method. Soon, thieves guilds from other cities begin to take notice. After only 3 months, Anor becomes known as the City of Thieves and even the Kings-guard dare not set foot there.
Have you ever incorporated Dust of Disappearance into your D&D campaign? We'd love to hear about it in the comments section below!