Tuesday Magic Item – Confounding Key

13 January, 2015

Open any door“Again?  We are being chased by the personal guard of a noble again?” said Voddick hoping around as he pulled his leftboot on.

“It was a joint decision, I was invited,” snapped Golloan as the shouts came closer.

“They are on the stairs!” moaned Voddick as he grabbed his backpack.

“Down the back,” snapped Golloan, matching action to words.  They pounded down the servant’s stairs.

“Locked,” said Voddick trying the door out.

“I have a key,” said Golloan, smoothly opening the door and locking it behind them.

“Won’t they have a key?”

“It will not do them much good,” smiled Gollaon and he winked before dashing off.


Confounding Key

These keys, almost always of brass, have a maze etched into their bow and have a considerable weight to them.  The pattern of key wards and bit change from use to use.

The key is usable as a skeleton key, providing a +3 equipment bonus to disable devices checks to open locks.  But its true power can be used only once per day, it can open any keyed lock and close it back again, when it closes the lock, it changes the key needed for a four + 1d6 minutes afterward.  The confounding key can not in and of itself overcome magical locks however but if use as a focus when casting Knock, it reduces the casting time to a swift action.

Aura moderate transmutaion; CL 9th
Slot –; Price 1,200; Weight
Construction Requirements
Craft Wondrous Item, fabricate, haste, open/close; Cost 600

Notes: Sort of door related for this month’s theme, just seemed like a fun idea.  I will go back and add in the item’s stat block tomorrow, it has been a rough day, came back last night to find that our water heater had burst and there was water everywhere, been cleaning up ever since.  Edit: Magic item statblock added!

Image from Wikimedia Commons by Fred the Oyster and used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International, 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.


  1. This is totally awesome. Not only do we get the continued adventures of Golloan and Voddik, but the item itself has an intriguing, unique, and pragmatic mechanical effect. Easily among your top ten items, sir!

    • Thank you, I was very pleased with the item, simple in effect yet useful and fun.

      The next part of the exchange between the two as they flee goes:

      “I hope she was worth it,” groused Voddik.

      “He, without a doubt, was,” replied Golloan with an exaggerated wink.

  2. A certain frog-folk thief in my 5e game would love to have one of these.

    • I can do a quick D&D5 conversion if it would be helpful.

      • I would love a V5 version!

  3. It’s cool, and I like it. (Same can be said for most of the items on this blog.) I’ve seen some neat “master key” ideas in the past but I don’t think I’ve seen the lock-changing aspect attached to it before.

    That said: seems way too potent for such a low cost. Reducing Knock to a swift action as a slotless item would make this an absolute steal for a Beguiler (and Sorcerer or Wizard for that matter) at listed cost, and that’s with no other granted abilities. +3 to disable device checks for locks is, iirc, worth most of the price alone, but I might be getting my editions mixed up in that regard. However, the nonmagical Knock + changing of lock power again, is easily worth spending 1200 gold on for most characters–it’s unlikely that most characters would need that power more than 1/day anyways. This ought to be way more expensive, though by the time the PCs are leveled to where they’d afford it, you’d probably need it to affect magic locks too!

    I’ll probably be putting it in a campaign soon with just the 1/day open lock + change its key ability (specifically, changing it to fit the Confounding Key if the players want to go back through that door within their 1d6+4 minutes), but priced a bit more.

    • Thank you for the kind words and critique.

      I would argue that the price is fair as it is an item with a very focused ability and useless for wide swathes of adventures. That being said, if you are running an urban based campaign demand for such items would be much higher and the actual price to acquire one would be appropriately more.

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