the Elemental Ink Pen is a ripoff – a cheap alternative

Recently a shop called „the shop of many things„(secure archive.org link) started to aggressive advertise on Facebook and Instagram for their tabletop RPG related products. And by „their products“ I mean stuff they let other people ship to their customers directly from china („drop shipping“). Everything they sell is highly overpriced.

The alternative – the original

first things first: the elemental ink pen is just a rebranded pilot frixion temperature sensitive ink ball pen. the fancy original costs about 3$ a pop. white label versions are available as well for 1.50$ per piece in a lot of dollar stores. Go to a department store and take it home today instead of paying 10$ for the same thing + 20 days shipping at this online store.

3 Level – secret messages with erasable ink roller ball pens

So you picked up a original frixion pen or a relabled cheaper version? the online shop just talks about one hidden message, but we can do better! I will show how to hide 3 messages on one sheet for a cool puzzle for your campaign.

Write a hidden message for level 2 and a obvious one for level 1

take a permanent pen an write down your secret message in a blocky font (e.g. runes inspired writing). then take the erasable pen to mask the writing.

Alternatively prepare a longer text and only write the words/letters that spell out the secret message with a permanent pen. write the rest of your camouflage text with erasable ink.

Write and erase a message for level 3

finally write down a third and final message at a free spot on your paper using the erasable pen. Then erase it right away. this will be revealed when the sheet is cooled.

if you are not a rich person you probably don’t have a ice cooler around for revealing the message. Even if you do, it will take longer than you want in a role playing game. You can use any pressurized can instead. I recommend a 0.50$ body-spray. Yes, it will get some liquid on the sheet, but it’s much cheaper than cooling spray. Both work the same way: just like a tire gets hot when you pump it up and compress the air, the decompressed gasses inside the can withdraw heat from the surrounding to depressurize (it’s the ideal gas law). If you hold the can upside down you can reduce spillage on the paper.

demonstration of how to use a spray can to reveal heat sensitive ink

Example Secret

the level one Text is the following:

A spirited jig it dances bright,
Banishing all but darkest night.
Give it food and it will live;
Give it water and it will die.
Give it to me and it will be right.

riddle hinting at heating up the sheet it’s written on

hide the word „cool“ in permanent ink inside the word „food“ also the word me is permanent. So heat will reveal the level 2 text: „cool me“. Depending on your setting finding something in game that can cool down a sheet of paper can be a whole side quest! the level 3 Text can be whatever information you want to have delivered to your party. maybe the pass code to a bank locker?

The Science behind erasable ink

the Japanese company pilot invented the thermosensitive Metamo ink . The company is quite secretive about the details of their innovation, that , according to their claims, took three decades to bring to market. A nippon.com article explains that the ink contains capsules of color particles that contain a two part color molecule regulated by a catalyst. The compounds bound together in different configuration to be colorless or opaque, depending on temperature.

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