Glassware is, unsurprisingly, a term describing objects made of glass. The term may include decorative artwork such as statues and traceries, but will not generally extend to windows (stained glass is definitely artwork and definitely glass but not glassware), lanterns and lampshades, glass jewelry or tools like magnifying lenses, eyeglasses or burning glasses.
Most glassware commonly encountered will be in the form of containers - from drinking glasses and bowls, through wine bottles to the alembics and phials of alchemy. Being transparent and generally resistant to many forms of chemical attack, glass is a popular material for containers.
Glass is also a relatively expensive material - until industrial glass production took hold in the late nineteenth century, glass was expensive, high end tableware or specialist equipment - and during the post-classical dark ages glass could be very precious indeed1. Also, given the fragility of glass, it bespoke a certain refinement as tableware - if you have the sort of dinner in which people are given to throwing things about and pounding the table, you may be best sticking with silver or other metal vessels, whilst polite, civilised dining allows fragile and expensive glasses to be brought out.
Game and Story Use
- fRPGs tend to forget about the bottles their potions come in. In some cases those bottles may be valuable in their own right.
- Time travellers with the ability to haul fragile bulk may find modern catering glassware fetching top prices in the pre-modern period, given that a modern wine glass, even one machine blown in batches of a thousand, will be clearer and more elegant than the best hand-blown medieval stuff.
- Makes for amusing treasure given it's tendency to shatter.
- PCs wanting to set up an alchemy lab (or potions lab, assuming the two are different things) might well need some impressive glassware and/or to learn or hire glassblowing skills.
- …or not. Laugh as the PCs notice that the stone-age witchdoctor of the wacky wayside tribe they are visiting is achieving equally good potion making results with a clay cooking pot and a couple of calabashes, whilst their wizard had to spend a level-appropriate number of gold pieces on the undefined contents of his potion crafting bench.