Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Magic Items - How Unique Do You Want Them?

Every player worth their salt has memorized the magic item tables of the rulebook of your choice. Really, just ask them.

So, not only are weapons and armor with simple plus "ho hum", but so is just about every magic item published in a core book. They can recite the abilities of that Staff of Power or the Elven Cloak they just found once they ID them (and probably before as they pelt you with guesses).

Do you create magic unique magic items for your campaigns? If you do, is it there to add spice to the basics ones or do you replace all of the standards with unique items of your own design?


  1. I prefer to make my magic items unique in some way. The current campaign the only things I'm using out of the book as is, are the potions and scrolls.

  2. I love creating unique items for the game, they do tend to look for and accumulate favorite 'stock' items though like bags of holding and 'standard' magic weapons to help with combat. Even with these sorts of items I can't help but meddle a bit, I mean who wants a +1 Longsword when they could have a +1 Ghost Blade that ignores 1 point of armor when striking (effectively making it +2 to hit versus opponents wearing armor)? It's not a huge difference, but it has a name and a special tweak to make it memorable and more useful in some situations.
    I would say I replace about half of the magic with unique items, maybe a little more. Potions and scrolls, as Tim mentioned are usually stock. Now I think I need to get creative in that department too...

  3. I never use stock items anymore. For more generic, simple mechanical bonuses, I make sure to describe them in a way that hints at their past that way, even if it's just a generic +1 bonus the potential history of the weapon becomes an object of interest.

  4. Every permanent magic items gets a name. Every one. Character with more skills (none of my pcs have it) will be able to know of it's history.

    Since there are never more than non human wizards at one time in my world, it's easier to make every item unique.

  5. I think one unique magic item per session is doing pretty good... even if it's only adding the powers of a cloak to a sword or a wand to a ring.

  6. A mix, potions, scrolls and (mostly) wands are just useful magical tools. I try to give other items more personality and history.

  7. With the possible exception of certain magical "sundries" (e.g. healing potions), I think every non-unique magic item is a lost opportunity. Creating new magic-items is much easier than statting out new monsters (or spells, etc.), and is a great way to keep a sense of wonder and possibility alive in the game.

  8. A mix.

    There is fun in having a mysterious and unique magic item. It's also exciting to get your hands on a by-the-book Frostbrand or Gauntlets of Ogre Power.

  9. All unique, All the Time. But that's probably easier for me since I rarely include magical items anyway.

  10. I try to do a mix (with both treasures and monsters). Some ordinary by-the-book, some unique. The by-the-book ones serving (hopefully) to make the unique ones seem more special (sort of a fastball-fastball-fastball-curveball type of deal).

  11. I tend toward standard items just because players typically expect them. The archetypal items (bag of holding, staff of power, etc.) are part of what gives the game its identity. But for me the most satisfying items are unique and tailored to each PC.

  12. Magic items are each unique, few and far between, both highly prized and greatly feared. Magic is wonderful and frightening. It's also not on every street corner in my games as it seems to be in most. It's a rare and special thing, mistrusted by the masses. But I don't play the implied D&D magic-under-every-toadstool setting.

  13. Yes, in my new Becmi campaign (using Microlite74 rules), I've added good or bad "side effects" on any magical items. I found in the D&D Next last playtest, in the Magic Items pdf, they had tables to add on "descriptors" to the magical items. The tables include "Creator, Nature, Minor Properties and Minor Quirks". You can have hard-as-metal Seashells +1 bracers (Elemental (water), Creator), a Sword used in a famous battle ( Storied, Nature) , a Shield that illuminate when spiders are near (Sentinel, Minor Properties) or the wearer of a Breastplate become obsessed with material gain (Covetous, Minor Quirks).. So yeah, I found those tables are a good source material to customize items.

  14. Why would one need tables? Just make up the backstory of the sword known as Trollslayer and decide what bonus, if any, it has, or what makes it special aside from its history.

    1. yeah, you can... but i like a "seed" to work with.. so roll on the table, then doing the rest is easier in my case.

  15. When playing d&d we often had things that were, mechanically, magic items but were flavoured in other ways.

    The only time something was actually treated as a magic item was if it could be a cool and quirky item. My berserker axe was just me being a berserker. People took psychic damage from reading my mind because *I* took psychic damage from reading my own mind... that's why I was a berserker :p.

    But the hammer that could encase people in stone? That was the ancient runed hammer of order, that occasionally took control of my mind.



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