Friday, January 22, 2016

Bottle Imps

by Jeff Haynie

There are many demons you can summon from hell, and the least of these brimstone-belching brutes are the bottle imps.

Bottle imps are small, usually only one or two inches.  They come in all sorts of colors.  Some of them even appear as miniature versions of other demons.  (1" high balor, anyone?)  They are very labile, and will react violently with oxygen.  If their bottle is every opened or broken, they die instantly in a small, sputtering flame.

Bottle imps answer questions.  Each type of bottle imp is a completely reliable source for a particular strain of information.  If asked, they will give you an accurate answer.  (Yes, most demons twist their answers, but not bottle imps.  Their answers have already had their sinful price paid; that's how you summon a bottle imp.)

They are chatty little bastards, and will do their best to get you to ask them a question.  They know that the longer you talk with them, the greater you'll slip up and ask them a question.  Because as soon as they are asked a question, they answer it, and then they are free to go.

Player: Do you really think I'll fall for that, imp?
Bottle Imp: You just did!  Ahahaha!  *disappears back to hell*

If you ask them a question that they do not know the answer to, they'll probably shout "I dunno!" and gleefully disappear.

Just as you can determine what a potion does by tasting small portions of it, you can determine what type of knowledge a bottle imp has by talking to it.  Just be careful not to ask it a question.

And just like potions shouldn't be hard to identify, neither should bottle imps.  Anyone should be able to figure out what an imp does if they talk to it long enough.

by fobiapharmer
Types of Bottle Imps [d8]

1, Sagacious Imp - Knows everything that a extraordinarily complete library might have (with nothing printed more recently than a year ago) as well as all the daily newspapers printed since then.  Can also identify another magical item, like a sage.  Finds a way to fit sexual or violent anecdotes into nearly all of its answers.  Identifiable because they are always asking about science, geography, current events, etc.

2. Scandal Imp - This is actually an anti-imp, which doesn't dispense information but instead allows you to inject it into the world.  If you give it a rumor, it will spread it across the city overnight.  If you give it a lie, it will seamlessly insert the lie into whatever book or document that you wish.  Identifiable because it fucking tells you exactly what it is--contrary little bugger.

3. Scavenger Imp - Knows everything that has been forgotten, and can help you forget things that are best forgotten.  By whispering in your ear, it can restore lost memories and even cure insanity--and afterwards you'll have forgotten what it said.  It also has a knowledge of really, really old things--before recorded history.  Identifiable by its enigmatic, nonsense phrases and the fact that it spouts off the events that drove long-dead men insane, such as "Meechum the Kingslayer went insane when he viewed his mother's incest.  That's a common theme, as it struck Bulwarg Fallowheart, but his brother Hurkis remained lucid until his deathbed, when the apparition of his dead wife appeared in his chamberpot."

4. Scryer Imp - Knows everything in the local area: what's inside that chest, the layout of the current dungeon, the shortest route to the exit, where's the nearest secret door, etc.  Contemptuous personality.  Identifiable because they are always showing off by telling players what they have in their pocket, or telling you that a trap was poisoned (lol!) right after it has already stabbed the rogue.

5. Scuttlebutt Imp - Knows three true rumors about everything.  Alternatively, knows a dirty secret about everyone (and everyone has a dirty secret) that you can probably use to blackmail them.  Identifiable because it's always gabbing about interesting people and dungeons across the world, and all the different people that they've been gossiping with.

6. Seeker Imp - Knows how to find any thing you are looking for.  Identifiable because it's always talking about magic swords, and saying things like "but of course, you have no idea how to get there, poor thing."

7. Spell-fetcher Imp - If a spell is known to exist, the imp can fetch it and scribe it on the inside of the bottle before disappearing (where it is treated like a scroll).  For spells that might not exist, there is a 33% chance that the imp finds the new spell as described (effectively discovering a new one), a 33% chance that the imp retrieves a vaguely similar spell, and a 33% chance that the imp just writes down a bunch of dirty limericks in draconic.  Identifiable because they're always asking you what sort of spells you know, and if you've heard of any interesting spells.

8. Spy-brain Imp - Can read someone's mind (like ESP) or extract a specific memory out (the person doesn't even have to be present).  Will then relay all of the juicy details to the querent, lavishing extra details on anything even mildly scandalous.  Identifiable because they are always asking you what you are thinking, and talking about how dirty-minded humans are (even the priests).

How To Use Bottle Imps

Bottle imps belong on your random potion table.  They are the same size as a potion, and they are single-use.  Therefore, they are a potion.

They're not rare.  A wizard PC would know what they are, and would know all the general information in this post (e.g. don't ask them questions unless you mean it).

If the players are having trouble figuring out what an imp does, they can have a sage identify it just like a potion.

Any bottle imp can become a familiar.  They'd love for you to ask.

from Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood


  1. Man, updating so often! Its great to be able to read cool ideas so often. I'm curious what role bottle imps play in the ecosystem of Hell/The Abyss? Are they sitting in rows in a giant diabolical library? Are they created when demons' heads become too full of useless information, a sort of purging done to keep their thoughts clean of clutter?

    1. Ooh, I am imagining a giant, gibberous demon endlessly trekking across the scorched plains of hell, while idly plucking little demon heads from his pustulous body and leaving them behind in variously formed jars (of which he carries a great sack with him for just that purpose). If you can find him and make an offering of empty jars, he just might pluck you exactly the kind of imp you want/need...

  2. I wonder what happens if I just chat with fellow party members in the vicinity of the imp, like, "I wonder what's guarding the treasure here, hmm."
    And then turn to the imp and say "If you don't tell me what I want to hear, I'm opening your bottle." That's not a question...

    1. It sounds like the player is trying to get an advantage by pushing their tool above what is normally specified. And my default reaction to that is to adjudicate it as some form of "higher risk, higher reward".

      Maybe the imp answers honestly UNLESS it can think of a way to completely screw over the players (as it's only bound to answer one question honestly, by the terms of it's contract) and then be free again after they all get TPK'd. So it would give out free information until they ask about treasure that a medusa was guarding, and then ut would say "it's a witch who is embarassed about her looks, if you make fun of her appearance, she'll whither away".

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. The text specifically states that if asked they have to answer honestly. I would rule that the imp was not asked so does not have to answer honestly.

    4. The text specifically states that if asked they have to answer honestly. I would rule that the imp was not asked so does not have to answer honestly.