Full Item Description
Made from a thick, green woolen sock, the sock puppet has bright blue eyes painted on it, and a black mouth complete with tongue painted where the thumb and fingers come together. Although it looks rather happy and benign, the sock puppet contains some interesting abilities.
Ambergris knew, even at the age of six, that she was supposed to love all of her family equally and wasn’t supposed to have favorites. But her father’s brother, Uncle Draug, always smelled like sweat and whiskey and he yelled a lot. Her mother’s brother, Uncle Rolindor, smelled like cinnamon and cats and smiled almost all the time. He was, hands down, Ambergris’ favorite. He seemed genuinely glad to see her, asked her questions, and actually listened to her answers. Unfortunately, he lived far away and visited seldom. Uncle Draug lived down the lane, was a thatcher by trade just like her father, and he had five children. So little Ambergris spent way more time than she would have chosen to with Uncle Draug and his somewhat rowdy family.
When the plague hit her little village and none of the children were yet affected, they were all sent away to various relatives until the quarantine passed. Ambergris ended up spending an entire summer with Uncle Rolindor, and because she was really too young to grasp the solemnity of the reasons for it, she simply viewed it as the best summer of her young life.
Rolindor was certainly willing enough to take in his niece, but he had dedicated his life to the study of the arcane, and therefore knew nothing of children or their care. Fortunately for them both, Ambergris was an only child and unusually self-sufficient. She was capable of providing her own meals as long as Rolindor kept his larder stocked, did her own laundry, and put herself to bed at a reasonable hour. The only shortcoming that Rolindor could see was that he lived in a rather isolated area, and there were no other children for her to play with (little did he realize that for Ambergris, this was a welcome change). Ambergris learned to entertain herself when Rolindor was busy in his pursuits, and even crafted a sock puppet that she habitually talked to and shared her imaginary adventures with.
One night after Ambergris had retired, Rolindor examined the puppet. He was impressed at the care his niece took with the plaything, from her careful rendition of its bemused expression to the efforts she made to keep it clean. He knew she had even named it Lari, and since he knew he couldn’t provide her with any real playmates, perhaps he would help her enjoy the one she had a bit more. He began by weaving an enchantment to Lari that would make the material resistant to water and dirt accumulation, similar to the spells he used to keep his own cloaks clean and dry.
She noticed the difference immediately the next day, and was happily grateful to her uncle. Finally seeing something he could do to contribute to his niece’s happiness in her hour of need (his view of the circumstances that brought her to his home were much darker than hers), he began thinking of other ways he could enchant the toy to increase the joy it would bring.
He began with a simple ventriloquism cantrip, so that Lari could speak whatever Ambergris wanted him to say. Obviously, she took immense delight in this, adopting a deeper voice for Lari and answering him in her own girlish alto. Inspired, Rolindor tried more experiments. Over the course of the next several weeks, he managed to enchant the puppet so that his niece could actually see through its eyes, smell through its nose, and even feel what it felt. Each upgrade to the toy brought a shine to his niece’s eyes that made the old mage actually second-guess some of his life choices.
Eventually, the plague scare ended, and little Ambergris returned home with her puppet. Whether it was recognized as a valuable magical item and sold, or simply lost as so many childhood playthings are, Lari the sock puppet has floated around to various owners who have found better uses for its gifts than merely a child’s entertainment (though Rolindor would likely object to that statement).
The puppet never seems to get dirty, and shrugs off small amounts of water as if it weren’t porous. The paint that forms its features never seems to dull. If the wearer so wishes, he can speak through the puppet without moving his own lips, or vibrating his vocal cords at all. The puppet sounds just like its wearer; attempting to disguise his voice will sound like the wearer attempting to disguise his voice. The wearer can also see through the puppet’s eyes, a point of view that is quite disorienting at first. One can also smell through its nose, and hear through its ears (which is odd, because the puppet doesn’t have either one of those things). One can even sense what it touches, although the sensory information is crude. One can sense hot, cold, rough, smooth, etc., but the puppet cannot relay anything complicated such as pain or ticklishness. Now some of these things may seem rather superfluous, sure, you can use the puppet to peek around a corner, but beyond that, what good is it?
The sock puppet can relay sensory information even if the wearer’s own senses are damaged. A blind man can see through the puppet, the deaf can hear, and so on. It has even been known to have been used to stare directly at a basilisk with no adverse affect.
I created this little guy one day simply as a lark, and it utterly floored me at how many uses for the thing my players have come up with. Indeed, Larry has become another party member, so I decided I’d write this submission to give him the backstory he deserves.