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I am planning an NPC, that thinks herself to be not good looking to an extend, that she wants to change her appearance.

She is not a magic user, but a rather wealthy character that can afford to buy magical stuff.

Therefore, I was thinking to adapt an oil of Disguise Self to become a facial creme, that she needs to apply on a regular basis. (Disguise Self cast at 3rd level would make the oil last 30min per application, which would be fine.)

Do you know of any other options? Or do you think this approach would work?

As a side note, I will prefer magical solutions, as they can be detected using the Detect Magic spell, my PCs are likely to use in the NPCs vicinity. This is meant to be a fun distraction from their actual goal, and I hope to cause a bit of confusion.

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Any psionic or magic item which either "adjusts attitudes by one step" (or more), or adds a bonus to disguise, diplomacy, bluff, or intimidate (depending on how your young lady defines her beauty) will mechanically accomplish the desired story effect.

For example: A hat of disguise, a painting of the ideal beauty as an example, and a mirror could allow her to pull off the same trick (and might explain why certain people "take so long" to get ready).

Speaking of which, there are many more ways which beauty can be changed (improved?), such as items which grant a...:

  • clean effect (perfect skin without pimples or blackheads, clean hair - no more dandruff!)
  • colorize effect (makeup and hair tints and nails)
  • growth effect (hair extensions and hair restoration and nail length)
  • knock effect (untangle knots in the hair)
  • heat and cool effect (set hair just so, muscle aches and pains)
  • break effect (remove unwanted hair, trim and shape nails)
  • mend effect (repair split ends, repair broken nails)
  • minor necrotic effect (remove unwanted hair permanently, possibly destroy fat, if it can be carefully targeted)
  • shrink or enlarge effect (temporary hair growth or loss, temporary weight loss or gain, temporary height changes, among other possible applications)
  • disguise or alter self effects (more powerful, all-in-one type approach, but requires a clear mental image or a model of some kind)
  • non-lethal electrical shocks (muscle tone over time)
  • polymorph effects (expensive, but permanent if you are just improving your look, also requires a clear image or model. Also advantageous if you are trying to fix something that they were born with, and thus can't be "healed" per se.)
  • regeneration effects (expensive, but can regrow missing parts, including teeth, possibly cure baldness? There are some types of regeneration which work after the fact, and do not require to be active while the target part went missing)

...might also be used if they are placed into a psionic or magical item that can be applied selectively, and could make for quite the market in personal beauty and enhancement products.

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Do what is necessary for your story

A similar thing was asked for a PC in this question. Since you are the GM you can do this however you see fit. A beauty enhancing creme meant to distract by being magical will not create balance problems in your game. Therefore you just need to do it in a way that has the desired effect for the story you want to tell.

Since there are no real balance implications there is no need to respect mechanical details. You can concentrate on the narrative details.

In conclusion, a new magic item seems like a reasonable approach: It does not create balance issues, so long as it is only for flavor, it can do what you desire (including being magical) and it seems less arbitrary, i.e., if your players investigate you can give them tangible information on the item (the creme) and potentially let them acquire some if they are interested themselves. In such cases, it is always nice to hint at the thing ("she used the creme again"), so that the players know something is off or else, they will think that they should have known. I used this to great effect in my last campaign where I had a four-armed shapeshifter. She looked like a normal human when the PCs met her but I told the players she had four shortsword with her.

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