Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Unique Magic Items - How Important Are They to Your Campaigns?

I started gaming with AD&D 1e. We didn't use unique or home grown magic items, we just used the DMG and let the dice fall as they may.

As I got older, I saw a value to unique magic items. My players, all of whom new the DMG front to back, back to front, side to side and all manners in between, needed to be surprised and challenged.

So, I started to tweak magic items, to keep my players guessing.

Years later, I even wrote a product or two with some of my creations.

My question to you is - do you design unique magic items, do you source them from others places or do you stick to the book?


  1. Never use items from the book. They make no sense in the context of my games and are generally overpowered for that context as well.

  2. A mix for lower level items, but more powerful ones are always unique. Unique items are to help players define their characters and to provide plot hooks for the future.

  3. Nearly every magic item is unique in some way. Makes for a much more interesting game.

  4. Ideally, I'd make all magic items unique, but in practice I do use stuff right out of the book. Low-powered items that are unique are just as important as the high-powered stuff being unique.
    When possible I like to make cards or slip of paper with the item's description and a drawing. This also gives the player something to hold on to. My players swap around items a lot so keeping track of who has what can be trying.

  5. One of the big appeals to me about D&D was the magic... the main reason why I would collect the modules and magazines was because of the new magic, in the form of both items and spells, that would appear in each one. In fact, if there weren't new magic items in a module, I would be disappointed. These expansions reinforced the fact that the core rulebooks were just a starting point. And then, I read an article that pointed out that an item didn't need to have new powers in order to be unique. it pointed out that it was the history attached to an item that helped to make it special. After all, if history wasn't important, then bards would lose a fair bit of their shine.

    Once I read that, making items unique in either history, or function, became my goal. It also helped drive a couple of adventures by allowing me to reveal unknown history for an item to create a new path for exploration.


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