The D&D Emporium: Trident of Fish Command
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 Trident of Fish Command?
This trident is not the typical three-pronged polearm; sharp drill-shaped seashells adorn its points, seafoam-colored jewels set into coral-encrusted tines. Exotic fish fins decorate the weapon’s shaft. The appearance of this item makes its mythological connection to the sea even stronger.
In addition to functioning as a normal trident (1d6 piercing damage, versatile, can be thrown), a Trident of Fish Command can also cast dominate beast on any creature with a swimming speed. The item has three charges and regains 1d3 charges per day, making it a useful reusable item in a maritime campaign.
How Much Does It Cost?
An uncommon wondrous item, the market value of a Trident of Fish Command ranges from 100 to 500 GP. If there are no magic item vendors in your world, players can craft them as a downtime activity for 500 GP in materials.
What Does It Do?
It does exactly what it says it does: commands fish, allowing for a very broad definition of fish. If a creature has an innate swimming speed (that is, it’s not a creature polymorphed into a manatee or something), it can be affected by the item.
The dominate beast spell creates a telepathic link between the caster and the monster, allowing the caster to issue simple commands to the monster.
Will It Break My Game?
The item’s Wisdom save DC is 15, so more powerful sea creatures such as dragon turtles should be able to avoid the item’s effects easily. Creatures with legendary actions, such as krakens, are immune to the effects of dominate monster.
Furthermore, creatures the caster is hostile to have advantage on the saving throw, and the types of commands a dominated monster will follow are limited to simple actions such as “go here” or “attack that.” The item is balanced insofar as the dominate monster spell itself is balanced, and the item’s three daily charges further limits its power.
Creative, mischievous players can have a lot of fun with an item like this, but its effects are nothing game-breaking.
Where Can It Be Obtained?
In a high-magic setting, a Trident of Fish Command might be a staple of every fishing vessel. Otherwise, you can find these in merfolk settlements, the hoards of bronze dragons or marids, or in the temples of water deities.
Where and How Is It Made?
The trident pictured in the DMG is adorned with seashells, coral, and exotic fish fins. If the party wishes to craft one, you may ask them to harvest coral from an enchanted reef claimed by sahuagins or sea hags, or collect seashells from a particular beach, an act which may anger the bronze dragon protecting that region.
Blood, chum, worms, or crickets are used to attract fish; it would make sense that these things would be used in the crafting process of an item that controls fish.
In the same vein, a fish’s lateral line detects vibrations in the water and allows it to swim in a school (or something like that. I’m not a marine biologist); wizards may have come to understand through trial and error rather than through rigorous scientific investigation that this part of the fish can be incorporated into a magic item and used to compel the actions of swimming creatures.
How About a Different Way?
A typical use of a Trident of Fish Command would likely involve turning enemies against each other during a combat encounter in an underwater or coastal environment. The item is particularly useful in this regard if the enemies in question have a low Wisdom score.
Magic items such as this one, however, can cause the party a lot of trouble in the hands of a crafty opponent.
Swarms of bats, rats, insects, and ravens can be controlled as single entities; why not a school of fish? Underwater adversaries can create environmental hazards in an underwater encounter by positioning a school of fish between themselves and the party. These fish can also be used to slow the party’s swimming speed and obstruct their vision, or even to attract sharks to the area.
Pirates armed with a Trident of Fish Command could dominate a giant squid, shark, or whale, and use it to harass and distract vessels they wish to plunder. They might also use a marlin or swordfish as a weapon, aiming a living harpoon at a creature on the deck of an enemy ship.
It’s not just fish that can be commanded using this item; any creature with a swimming speed may fall under its spell. That means that lizardfolk or kuo-toa archpriests can craft these to call giant crocodiles from rivers and swamps to fight at their side.
Finally, an unscrupulous rogue posing as a cleric might want to use this item to trick worshippers of water deities into joining a cult.
“Witness the power with which Umberlee has blessed me,” the robed rogue cries, standing knee-deep in the surf, sweeping the trident overhead. The crowd gasps in awe as a shark leaps out of the water and arcs over the robed figure before crashing back into the sea. Another group of gullible villagers falls under the rogue’s command.
The Trident of Fish Command is another seemingly weak low-level magic item that has a surprising amount of versatility. How will you incorporate it into your next session?