Assassin's Teapot
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Basic Information

The assassin's teapot is a trick vessel which appears to be an ordinary - if slightly ornate - teapot, but can pour two different substances from separate internal compartments via the same nozzle. This would, as per the name, allow a prospective assassin to appear to drink from the same pot as his victim, and yet serve them poison without consuming it himself. Presumably all drinks served after the poisoned one would have some contamination, but might be expected to provide far less than a full or effective dose and is certainly better than attempting to develop mithridatism or play slight of hand games (after all, in this case the victim and his bodyguards see you pour from the same container…).

The trick lies in the individual reservoirs each having their own vent holes which are concealed in the handle of the pot - by covering the holes the user prevents the contents from pouring using natural vacuum and a shift of grip can change which hole(s) are covered and so which reservoir can pour. The user can also pour a mix of both reservoirs by covering neither hole. Presumably a similar device could be easily built with three reservoirs, but this might require the covering of so many holes that the grip needed becomes a give away. Teapot or otherwise, it would seem that any culturally appropriate drink dispensing vessel could probably be made like this, although it would need to be opaque to avoid detection.


A YouTube video of the Teapot

1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Presumably a classic example would be a kunoichi, disguised as a geisha and serving up poisoned tea to a mark, in front of all the other guests at a tea ceremony - who are all served from the same pot, apparently ruling out the tea as the vector for the poison.
  • The ability to mix both reservoirs might allow a binary poison to be used, with either substance harmless on its own - this could even allow the assassin to empty the pot completely without poisoning anyone but the mark.
  • More prosaically, the pot could serve a choice of milk and white or black coffee as a gimmick.
    • This trick would work well for the three-reservoir (or more) version, essentially being an ancient equivalent to a soda fountain. Also good for those who like mixed drinks: fill one reservoir with tea or coffee, another with milk, a third with sugar water, a fourth with fruit cordial, and so on, then use the right fingering to fill multiple orders from the same pot.
    • And of course, you could still have one or more poisoned reservoirs, so long as your victim doesn't bother counting the holes and matching drink options to them.
  • Potential for dark comedy as well:
    • An assassin's teapot gets mixed up with a regular one and accidentally used on guests.
    • A stupid assassin uses a poison not stable under boiling, and is surprised to see everyone survive.
    • Miscommunication or forgetfulness results in everyone except the intended mark being served pure poison, as the assassin mixes up the tea and poison chambers.
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