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The Shadow of Moil spell (XGtE, p. 164) requires an undead eyeball inside a gem (worth at least 150 gp) as its material component.

Who would be selling such an item and if someone was selling it, how would they have crafted it?

As a side note Wish and Divine Intervention are not valid answers as they are not certain to work in this right.

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An undead eyeball

Acquiring an undead eyeball itself seems relatively trivial for the unethical necromancer; simply kill someone, animate them as a zombie using Animate Dead, and then pluck an eyeball from your new zombie friend.

I have interpreted this requirement to mean the eyeball of an undead creature, not specifically an eyeball that is an animate undead creature in its own right; but it's a good staple of undead tropery that the severed parts of a zombie remain independently animate, and as a DM I would... happily?.. let you acquire an animated undead eyeball via this procedure anyway.

Encased in a gem

You should be able to manage this part of the component by use of one large, expensive gem (not more than 1ft in diameter), a set of jeweller's tools, and the Mending cantrip. Simply split the gem stone with one clean break; carve out a hollow space inside the gemstone large enough to contain your undead eyeball; put the eyeball within, press the halves of your gemstone back together, and use Mending to seal the break in the gem. Mending can only fix a single break or tear at a time, so you should be able to seal the original break without affecting the carved hollow. Voilà; an undead eyeball encased in a gemstone.

The services of someone proficient with jeweller's tools might be advised for this process, since making a clean break is probably tricky for someone just waving a hammer and chisel around without knowing what they're doing.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The concept of unethical necromancer raises its counterpoint, the ethical necromancer. Who knew maybe Lich only suffer from bad press but many of them are moral and basically decent people... ;-) \$\endgroup\$ – Francesco Jul 7 at 12:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Francesco In these enlightened days they identify as "Post-Mortem Communication Specialists." It's all about the Happy Medium. \$\endgroup\$ – jamesb Jul 8 at 4:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Oh, how I miss the old days when evil Liches were real evil Liches, undead eyeballs were real undead eyeballs not encased in gems and "small fuzzy creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small fuzzy creatures from Alpha Centauri"! \$\endgroup\$ – Francesco Jul 8 at 4:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Featured in our collection of fine cheese \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu Jul 11 at 10:02
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You pay 150 gp. As it is a material component with a stated cost, in order to acquire the item, you simply need to buy one by paying the price listed in the book. Where did it come from? Doesn't really matter, according to the game mechanics - the exact nature of the material component is largely just fluff.

Now, from a more in-universe standpoint: You make pearls. Pearls are a form of gem, and they're created by clams forming layers of calcium carbonate around some form of irritating matter within their shell. So, you cast Create Undead on a Small humanoid, surgically remove the eyeball and preserve it to prevent decay, then place it inside the shell of a sufficiently large clam and wait for the natural processes to coat it with a pearl.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Technically I think it's ambiguous on whether the 150gp requirement applies to "undead eyeball encased in a gem" or just the "gem" part. If the latter you can't necessarily just buy the whole thing; the gem you can buy, but sticking an undead eyeball in it is another issue. As a DM I'd probably rule you can just buy it at 150gp and up to keep things simple, but it's not clear to me that that's by the rules or just a house rule. \$\endgroup\$ – zibadawa timmy Jul 7 at 23:16
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A large vat of amber and some posters offering gold for research participants in a new water-breathing spell study. Be sure to prep the "research participants" for reanimation before pushing them into the vat. It's not super-cost effective, but the frozen expressions on their faces are great conversation pieces for your lair.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You're an Izzet Leauge member aren't you? Though, reanimating is typically the work of the Golgari... \$\endgroup\$ – J. A. Streich Jul 11 at 18:11
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The only official option for players is imprisonment

There is only one method described in the rules to encase something in a gemstone and that is the Minimus Containment option of the imprisonment spell:

The target shrinks to a height of 1 inch and is imprisoned inside a gemstone or similar object.

Now imprisonment can only target a creature, but if you true polymorph an undead eyeball (preferably a particularly large one, see below) into a creature, imprison it, and then end your true polymorph, you can get an eyeball in the gem.

You can turn an object into any kind of creature, as long as the creature's size is no larger than the object's size and the creature's challenge rating is 9 or lower.

The game world is not limited in this way

All that being said, it is doubtful that the only way to acquire the components for a level 4 spell is via two level 9 spells. As such, it should be assumed that it is possible for artisans of some description to accomplish this.

The written rules for player characters don't include everything available in a game world. It is possible that the game world has other mechanisms by which such a piece could be crafted, and either your PCs, some NPCs, or the world itself can develop these reagents. You'll have to ask your GM for what other options may exist in your game.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ An amusing idea, but I think once you terminate the polymorph the imprisonment will also end, as its target is no longer valid. \$\endgroup\$ – zibadawa timmy Jul 7 at 23:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ What does "see below" refer to? Did you forget a paragraph arguing that undoing the true polymorph doesn't undo the shrinking, so the final eyeball's height would be 1 inch * original height of eyeball / original height of polymorph target? Or was it just the "as long as the creature's size is no larger than the object's size"? \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Taylor Jul 8 at 7:39
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Typically Just Pay the Cost

Typically, most DMs hand-waves that the player bought the expensive components at some point, allowing the player to just pay the cost the first time they cast the spell (or each time if it is consumed). I mean, who likes too many "shopping episodes"?

Plot Point

However, the DMG suggests that certain material components can be plot points in and of themselves.

With that in mind:

  • Undead eyeball encased in gem store, in a dark ally off the corner of 120th street in Bruckshire Square. It was crafted with the ancient arcane techniques that are a family secret, and they are unwilling to disclose to anyone. I keep asking how they make them so I can write an answer here, but they just keep stonewalling me.
  • Jeweler's Tool proficiency, an undead eyeball, a gem of the appropriate worth, and time.
  • The fabricate spell if you don't have time or proficiency but do have an undead eyeball and gem.
  • Jorge'ka Manfredsonsonsonson tells the party that they can find one in the lost mine of Zardas, beyond the Undead Minotaur and troll guardians, in the chamber of The Sleeping Dread's tomb.
  • Cut out the undead eye of creature, encase it in ice to keep it from burning up. Submerge it in molten carbon or other magma. Apply insane amount of pressure while it cools. Carve the gem with jewelers' tools to remove imperfections from the surface and to make it refract light in a pleasing way, increasing its worth to 150 GP.
  • eBay. It is amazing what you can find on there. 'Course, that means it is a modern or above technology campaign.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Personally I'd rule that the PC has to pay the cost at some point before they first cast the spell - i.e. when they actually buy the component - but usually I'd just simplify it to paying the cost (as you suggest) rather than RPing it out, barring very special/unique components. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 11 at 22:26

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