Posts Tagged ‘Magic Items’

Magic Item Creation: Nurturing

May 4, 2011

Blogger Zero XP Adventures talked about his ideas concerning magic item creation. He suggested that an item should require a bearer to adventure with it for some time to awaken its power before it could be actually used. I’m still having problems replying to Blogger, so here’s my input.

I like the fact that the weapon (or any magic item) must be carried to attain its power. Almost like the enchantment is just the birth and the PC must raise the magic item like a child, bathing it in the blood of his enemies (or the up-swelling of human development, if you like). You could say that the magic item needs to be in the presence of a certain amount of XP (it doesn’t take a share or anything, you just need to gain that amount) before it’s fully activated. That would reduce the rate of magic item creation and make it so you can relax the magic item creation costs in XP and/or GP. It also prevents someone who has a stash of money from just sitting in a cave and churning out magic items for sale like a vending machine left plugged-in.

Making the bearer gain 1 XP per full GP value of the item seems appropriate. And you can’t nurture more than one fresh magic item at a time. If you do, you have to choose which one bathed in the XP anytime you gain some.

I don’t necessarily see the connection between, say, Boots of Striding and Springing and fighting XP. It would make more sense to require a certain amount of travel on foot for that item to awaken. But I think it’s probably easier to balance an XP gain requirement in general.

What to do about potions and scrolls? Are they low-power enough and boring enough that you can just make them and pay the costs? I think so.

I like the idea of a magic weapon continuing to advance (as in, you make a +1 Sword and nurture it to fruition but then it continues growing after that), but maybe at a slower rate once it hits its basic awakening. Or maybe you need to accomplish some great deed with it to birth a new ability in it which must then be nurtured through more XP bathing. It’s like how Philotomy (Session 4, second to last paragraph) promoted a zero-level NPC to 1st level Fighter because of how well he had distinguished himself in battle. Was the weapon always something special and just wasn’t appreciated fully? Or did it “level up” and grow into its new status as a result of the great deed?

WordPress: Pain In The Butt

May 3, 2011

I keep getting this bug with my WordPress posting input box. When I fill up the box and scroll down, the scroll bar keeps jerking me back up to the top. My insertion point stays where it should be but it’s pretty irritating. I’m probably not petty enough to leave WordPress over this, considering the amount of effort it would take to move my posts over somewhere else, but I definitely wouldn’t have joined WP if I knew about the bug.

It really bugs me.

Anyway, does anyone have ideas about how to fix it? I’ve searched and found nothing useful.

Joesky Tax:

The Diamond Sniffer of Dumathoin
Appearance: Hollow silver nose designed to be worn over your own nose. It’s bulbous and its nostrils flare imperiously.

Function: When pressed to your face it grabs onto your nose and settles over it. You can breathe normally. You now smell various gems and metals the same way you would have normally smelled pleasant or obnoxious odors. You can tell the difference between metals, even ones coated or alloyed, to within 1% of metal content if you get a good noseful.

You have a 2 in 6 chance to sniff out metal or minerals up to 100′ away. If the scent passes through a door or chest it uses up 50′ of distance, and if immersed the depth of water counts as double distance. From a distance you can’t tell the metal makeup, but you can tell if it’s largely silver for example.

You have a 1 in 6 chance to sniff out nearby deposits of un-mined minerals. This works only for minerals very close to the surface, or when mining you are able to stay with the vein more effectively (if you succeed in a given day you don’t waste time digging in a direction where the vein isn’t going). This adds, in general, +20% to prospecting rolls (+4 on d20, +1 on d6)

You are now protected from other odors because you can’t smell them as well. Bad odors like sweat, bile, dung, and Stinking Cloud are less effective (+4 to your save) and you can’t really smell good odors like roasting lamb or sweet perfume. If there is a scent-related perception roll you have -20% (-4 on d20, -1 on d6).

When worn by a Dwarf or Gnome the wearer gains +2 CHA.

Worshippers of Dumathoin, Dwarves, Gnomes, and prospectors / miners in general might know what the Nose does on sight, having heard some story about it at some point. Dumathoin worshippers have an 80% chance, Dwarves and Gnomes a 50% chance, and other miners and prospectors a 25% chance. Dumathoin worshippers typically will try to purchase the Nose, but as Neutrals will not take it by force unless it’s held by a Chaotic who otherwise works against them. A Dumathoin worshipper with the item takes the ceremonial title which translates as “The One Who Nose Metal.”

A few magical miniatures

October 21, 2009

Armor Stand Figurine
This is a tiny sculpted armor stand. It can be commanded to enlarge to normal size, such that a suit of armor for a Medium or Small creature could be placed on it. It can then be commanded to reduce back to figurine form. In its figurine form, the individual armor pieces are part of the solid figurine, so they cannot be removed.

Cat Jacks
These cute little caltrops are shaped like cats and kittens in various poses, but all have multiple glittering points on ears, claws, noses, and tails. One bag of Cat Jacks can be thrown over four 10’ squares. Each square requires one action for spreading. The caltrops have normal effects on people walking through them but do not remain stuck into boots and feet. They fall out immediately.

When commanded, the Cat Jacks all stand up and bound into a bag held by the commander, who must be in an adjacent square. The command word can be said under the breath so nobody can hear, but the speaker must be holding out a container for the cats to hop into. This takes a single action. The cats do not otherwise animate – only to be retrieved.

Incidental losses of cats due to not picking them all up, or one occasionally getting stuck in someone’s foot, are replenished while the cats are in their bag. They do not reproduce beyond their normal count, even if split up into smaller bags. Loose Cat Jacks lose their magic when a new kitten is born from its set.

The caltrops can be split up into separate containers, or multiple sets of caltrops can be combined into one.

Cragnard’s Wise Appraiser
This figurine is of a posh gnome, which can turn into a living gnome dressed in rich clothing and with significant divination abilities. The Wise Appraiser can be employed for up to three tasks per day, and fights as a Level 0 Normal Man. If slain, he cannot return for three weeks.

Using a gnomish or dwarven underground detection ability, the appraisal skill (for which he has a bonus of +11), or a Detect Magic spell counts as a single task. So does fighting for one battle. If the gnome is called upon to Identify he can do so as a level 6 Magic-User, requiring no spell components and only a single round. This counts as three tasks and can be used only if he has three tasks to give. If he identifies a cursed object he is unaffected by it, and describes a false set of magical powers.

Delmar’s Traveling Camp
Made of canvas, this 1’ square of cloth is embroidered with the scene of a tent camp. When shaken out, a sparkling glitter fills an area 20’ radius around the user. Inside this area, the user can create one of two camp types:

Type A: Four one-man tents and two small campfire circles.
Type B: One large three-man tent and a medium campfire circle.
Type C: One two-man tent and a large campfire circle.

Campfire circles each burn for one hour and remain hot for cooking for another hour, unless fuel is added to them. The tents are of good quality cloth, and are solid enough to withstand a Gust of Wind spell and warm enough to keep people inside alive during a heavy snowstorm.

The camp comes with three summoned bodyguards, human Fighters of level 2, equipped with Chainmail, Shield, Metal Helmet, and Spear. They have abilities as normal humans, but are immune to mind-affecting magic.

The goods and people summoned disappear if taken more than 30’ away from the edge of the camp, if sold, or if destroyed. Slain or destroyed articles cannot be summoned for three weeks – the camp appears without them. The camp otherwise lasts 9 hours and can be summoned once daily.

Dignard’s Work Crew
A miniature pickaxe an inch across, when rapped on a stony surface three times this charm summons a dwarven work crew complete with tools and working songs.

The crew consists of five dwarves of 2 HD, each with +6 in Mining, Lumberjack, Mason, Blacksmith, and Carpenter. Each is a specialist as well, gaining an additional +3 to one of those skills. Each dwarf can be identified by his skill because they refer to each other by the skill as if it were their names. A small metal insignia on his leather and metal cap shows which specialization each dwarf favors.

The dwarves come with enough hand tools for each to do every job, 2 wheelbarrows, ten buckets, five lanterns, two portable forges, and a small cart.

The workers disappear under many conditions: if they are attacked, when the summoner dismisses them, when their time expires, or if people nearby begin to talk of using them for some dangerous enterprise (such as walking down a hallway one by one setting off all the traps). Slain workers cannot be summoned for three weeks; they do not appear when the rest of the crew does. All equipment summoned disappears when the crew does, regardless of magical protections or planar boundaries.

The workers stay when summoned for up to six hours, during which time each does as much work as a human laborer would in 18. The work crew can be summoned every other day.

Gondolin’s Potioneer
An exquisitely-crafted statuette of a dragon. The Potioneer is a personal assistant with a very specific purpose – it feeds the owner potions when needed. Think of the statuette as the home for the almost-incorporeal creature.

In times of peace, the little spectral dragon perches on the owner’s backpack and watches everything going on around. It can’t talk, and does not warn of attack, but it carefully catalogues the owner’s stash of drinkables. It knows where they are kept, what they do, and in what situations the owner would like to have them administered.

In dangerous times, the potioneer clings to the owner’s potion belt, waiting for the perfect time to pull one out, unstopper it, and race up the owner’s clothing to his shoulder. It then waits for the owner to open his mouth before sloshing the potion into it.

Effectively, the potioneer uses up all its actions every round caring for the owner. It cannot feed potions to anyone else, nor can it take potions from anyone else. It administers a single potion every round on the owner’s initiative. The owner gets to choose which potion, or even if a potion will be taken at all.

The potioneer can be struck, but the quick little dragon is at -10 to be hit. Since it’s incorporeal, nonmagical weapons have no effect. If the dragon takes even a single point of damage, however, it disappears until the next sunrise. At that time it pops out of the statuette, yawns, and asks if the owner found any new potions in the mean time.

Note that the potioneer can be asked to deliver other drinkables besides magical potions. As an example, if the owner were left out in the desert with all his gear, but tied up so he couldn’t reach his water flask, the potioneer could get it for him. It could not untie him, tell him a story, yell for help, or do anything not related to giving him a drink.

Incredible Merchant Man
The merchant-man is a figurine of a man next to a crate. When summoned, the figurine becomes just a crate. The merchant appears and accepts whatever goods the summoner gives him, up to 100 pounds of goods and up to 10,000 GP in money. The merchant can be given instructions to buy or sell things at a certain price, and will not deviate from that price. He can appraise within 1% of its true value without fail, but cannot detect or identify magic. He can detect counterfeit coins 99% of the time as well.

The merchant-man will buy goods until he contains more than 10,000 GP in money or gains more than 100 pounds of goods, or if it has no more stock or no more money. He can be told to hold things that are not for sale. If the merchant would purchase an object that would put it over 100 pounds or down to zero GP in money, or if he would sell an object that would place him above 10,000 GP in money, the merchant fails to carry through the transaction and disappears as normal. If the merchant sells his last sellable object he disappears.

All money and goods are stored in a non-space that is not extradimensional, and cannot be accessed by anyone but the figurine-holder and the merchant. If the merchant is attacked, the merchant disappears. In any case, one month after the merchant is summoned it disappears.

When the merchant disappears, all remaining goods and coins stored appear at the summoner’s feet – no matter how inconvenient this is at the time. The figurine then becomes the merchant with crate again.

The merchant-man counts coins, paper money, gems, etc. as “money”. Bars of silver or gold are a trade good, not money, because they’re of an inconveniently high value. Grain, even if used commonly in trade, is a good and not money because it’s inconveniently bulky.

If the merchant is covered by an Anti-Magic Field or is Dispelled, he disappears as normal. The only possible way to raid the merchant-man’s inventory is through Limited Wish to steal one item or half the money, or a full Wish to steal either all items or all money. If either occurs the merchant-man disappears with the remaining valuables as normal.

Obsidian Oracle
An Obsidian Oracle is a statuette of a bald man sitting cross-legged, wearing a toga or similar wrap. The oracle has a tiny slot in the statuette where a rolled paper can be stuffed. The oracle will destroy the note and attempt to answer the question written on it. The answer is audible as if the statue spoke it. The message is destroyed in a puff of flames whether it was a question or not.

The oracle tries to use ESP on the questioner, searching for forgotten or overlooked information. If it can manage an answer with that information, and it’s an answer that the questioner doesn’t have, the oracle offers it.

The oracle can decide if Augury, Legend Lore, or Contact Other Plane would be the minimum necessary to discover the answer. If the ESP fails to discover an answer that the questioner doesn’t already know, or if there is no information, the oracle uses one of these powers. It activates the least power first, and gives the resulting answer. If the spell is not powerful enough to get an answer, the oracle intones “the answer is hazy.”

If the oracle is asked the same question again, whether it gave a useful answer or not, it attempts to use the next most powerful ability that would be appropriate.

It can use ESP any number of times per day. It can use Augury 5/day, Legend Lore 3/day, and Contact Other Plane 1/day. If it cannot use the necessary ability, and cannot use a more powerful one instead, it answers “the stars are not aligned – ask again later.”

Olito’s Igloo
This ivory figurine of an igloo sparkles in even a little light. If it’s resting against something white or mostly white, it turns bright blue and flashes blue lights visible over a hundred feet away in the day, or a mile away on a plain at night.

The Igloo can be placed on the ground and tapped three times, to cause it to grow into a snow-block igloo with a hard icy interior and a small side-door made of a sheet of ice. The igloo is 10’ across outside, with 1’ thick walls, and can contain 4 people. It provides excellent shelter in sub-zero temperatures but does not form otherwise. It also does not expand to cause damage or move objects.

The igloo remains for up to 12 hours per day, in multiple stretches if desired. The way to return it is to be inside the igloo and strongly stomp on the ground three times. The igloo rapidly dissolves, leaving the figurine behind and melting snow within 10′ and ice within 1′. It begins to flash if not picked up within one minute and if it’s on a white substance as described above. A damaged igloo cannot be recalled for one week.

Sea-Chest of the Sailor Apes
When this chest is closed and rapped strongly, it opens and releases 12 standard apes, each with IN 10 and +4 Sailor skill. One of the summoned apes will always be a navigator, with +4 Navigation skill. The apes return to the chest after 8 hours. If one is slain, it cannot be summoned for 3 weeks.

A variant item is the Sky-Chest of the Sailor Apes, which provides 12 apes with Sky-Sailor skill instead. One of the apes is always a navigator as above.

A few magical weapons

October 12, 2009

The Black Javelin of Doom
When thrown, this javelin turns into crackling black energy and inexorably follows the target. It moves from the thrower at human walking speed following the target. Every round that it follows, it gets more powerful. On the first round, the javelin causes normal damage, but at the start of every round thereafter the javelin moves and then grows by x0.25 damage multiplier. This means after four rounds of growing, the javelin would cause x2 damage on a hit.
The Black Javelin will round corners, slip between portcullis bars, and otherwise try to reach the target. If something else interposes completely (the target closes a door, for example) and it cannot go around, the javelin strikes the barrier for full damage and winks out of existence. The javelin will burst asunder a half inch of stone or one inch of wood per 10 points of damage. If it pierces a wall or door assume that a 5′ across hole was made.
If another creature interposes itself, such as a summoned monster or a rodent thrown by the victim, the javelin avoids the other creature to continue pursuing the victim. There is no loss of speed and there is no chance that the javelin will hit a creature other than the one at which it was thrown. Spells that interpose will not block it, even if those spells say they are infallible. But a spell that actually seals the target away (Wall of Stone, Wall of Force) will block it.
If the original attack roll had missed, there is no way to know until the javelin reaches the target. Stoneskin, illusions, and energy shields are no defense against this. A spell developed specifically to deflect the Black Javelin, or something effective against all magic (magic resistance, Antimagic Shell, Prismatic Sphere) can block it but not redirect it.
A Wish could redirect the javelin to another target but doing so incurs the wrath of the god of vengeance, who gave the secrets of their manufacture to his priests long ago.

Arrow of Attraction
If this arrow causes HP damage it sticks in the target. Any missile weapons passing within 20′ of the victim swerve to attack him instead, with the original attack roll. The arrow can be removed in one round, or two if it was fired into his back and he removes it himself. The arrow then withers away and is worthless. An unused arrow can be fired into a tree or other plant to generate the attraction field until the arrow is removed.

Wastrel’s Quarrel
When this quarrel hits, the victim’s magic items all activate. Those with only one use left (potions, spell scrolls, wands with just one charge left, a ring with one wish) are not affected. Items usable X activations per Y time are affected even if they have just one use left in this period. The activated items all target the wearer. They cannot be activated again this round, so multiple quarrels hitting one target in a round are pointless.
This is a good way to both waste a target’s magic supplies and prevent him from using them later in the round. But if he has more beneficial magic items on him than attack items, he may come out ahead.

Hammer of the Clear Path
This war-hammer can be thrown to full range and it returns by flying back at the end of the round. When thrown it creates a gust of wind blowing outward from the path it traveled. Everything within 10′ of the path is blown back as if by a Gust of Wind spell, so that the hammer creates a clear path 20′ across. Anyone directly in the path is pushed randomly: 1-2 thrown to the left, 3-4 to the right, 5-6 launched upward 10′. The gust is instantaneous so nothing prevents people from moving back in on their next turn.
Creatures thrown aside into a wall take 1d6 damage.

Children of Set
These white rubbery stones, thrown or slung at a hard surface, snap open releasing a snake from each. The snake attacks the nearest living thing, and has AC 7, HD 1, HP 8, Damage 1d4 + poison (save at +2 bonus or take 10 points of damage), and MV 6”. The snake attacks at the beginning of the round after it’s released. Slain snakes disappear in a burst of oily smoke. If six rounds pass and the snake has not been slain, it disappears the same way.

Caltrop Carpet or Loviatar’s Quilt
This is a thin cloth rug when rolled up, but when unfurled on a surface it turns into a bed of caltrops 10′ square. The caltrops, however, are not picked up by passing feet. Only if the bed of caltrops is “picked up” all at once by an edge, will the carpet turn to cloth once again. Any missing caltrops become small holes in the rug, which can be magically Mended using just one casting but cannot be non-magically mended. If the caltrops are scattered, the largest concentration becomes the carpet item and reverts to just a scrap which must be mended.
If the cloth is soaked with poison, the caltrops will likewise be poisoned. It takes twenty doses of poison to soak the carpet. The caltrops deliver a dose of poison to anyone passing through. Roll 1d20 and record which number that was. That section of caltrops is cleaned of poison. The next person passing through will not be poisoned if he rolls that section. You can under-poison the cloth. If you put 5 doses in, then only 1-5 on d20 will be poisoned patches. The poison goes bad at the regular rate for poisoned weapons, as determined by the DM.

Blue Saber of the Tattered Veil
This thin sword acts as a dagger in all ways except length. When it hits, it removes magical protections. Any general defensive magic (Shield, Armor, Blur, Displacement, Repulsion, Protection from Normal Missiles, etc) has a 2 in 6 chance of going down. Check for each effect separately. If the effect comes from a spell the spell is cancelled regardless of caster level. If the effect is from a permanent magic item (Cloak of Displacement, Ring of Invisibility) the effect is nullified for one turn.
Against charged protections like Stoneskin and Mirror Image, the saber strips away two charges of each for every time you make a successful attack roll regardless of whether the attack hit a Mirror Image or a Stoneskin or some other magic, regardless of whether it actually did damage.
In all cases the saber does not ignore the defensive magic. It just has a chance to remove it. So Stoneskins will still prevent it from cutting but will not prevent the defense-stripping.
The sword glows when in use but flares up brilliantly when it touches a Magic-User or a monster with spell-like abilities. If the wielder has Spellcraft skill and is willing to spend a round inspecting the flares he can determine exactly what class of Magic-User it is (or if it’s a monster instead). You must inspect right then, during the fight, and cannot wait to roll later.

Unique magic items

October 10, 2009

You cast the identification spell. The sword is +1.

How boring is that? Not only does the sword do nothing interesting, it pulls the player right out into the game mechanics.

Instead, what if the sword lit up like a torch when exposed to air, and if you hit someone it burned them a little? The rules say, let us assume, that a torch will deliver 1 point of fire damage on a hit but is otherwise not much of a weapon. So we can assume the flaming sword will deal +1 damage. So far it doesn’t seem to be as good as the +1 sword from earlier.

But this flaming sword casts light and heat. So you don’t also need to carry a torch, yet you can still burn spiderwebs and such. Fire should do extra damage against most Undead, right? That’s probably already in the rules too. And it should let you keep the non-monstrous bugs and snakes away, like Indiana Jones. So it’s pretty cool, actually. I’d say just about equal in power to the +1 sword.

But there’s a drawback. It lights up with a WHOOSH anytime it’s exposed to air. That means it’s worthless underwater. And you can’t douse it unless you sheathe it in a fireproof and pretty tight sheath. You could douse it in a pile of sand if you needed to, but wrapping it in cloth might not cut it. And while you’re wrapping it up it’s burning the cloth away!

It also doesn’t need a spell to identify. As soon as you draw the sword it catches on fire? Gee I think this is a magic sword, guys. Or you find it already on fire because it’s exposed.

That is an interesting magic item. It’s useful on an adventure and it has a drawback commensurate with its powers.

“But”, you say, “how can I find enough interesting magic items like that to outfit the whole party?” The answer is to reduce how many magic items pass through their grubby little hands. It helps if you decide, right at the start, that you will never find a plain +X item in your campaign. They do not exist. They cannot exist. A magic item must be more complex than that. It may contain an incidental +X value but as a consequence of its magic.

For example, instead of a Ring of Protection just giving +1 to AC and saves, have it create a shimmering force shield around the wearer. It’s visible, especially when you’re being attacked. It helps deflect attacks, giving +1 to AC and saves. But it should also keep the rain off you, and snow, and should reduce wind chill effects. So say it’s the equivalent of wearing the next heavier type of clothes for weather purposes. So if you’re nude it’s like wearing light clothes, or if you’re wearing normal clothes it’s like wearing heavy furs. The save bonus takes the resistance to heat and cold into account already, so don’t give that twice.

That doesn’t seem to change much for that item. But look at all the magic items that have an invisible, always-active, always-successful effect without any drawbacks. Those are boring and should be changed or else incorporated into another item.

What I like most about this is the player has a visceral tool instead of a rigidly defined mechanical modifier. Just wait for the first Magic-User who wants to create a few Flame Tongue swords and stick them in a furnace so it doesn’t need any fuel. Or the first time someone realizes that the Claws of the Umber Hulk combined with the Helm of Treasure Finding make a pretty good prospecting tool set. Or that the Telekinetic Bubble Wand can be used to deliver Oil of Fiery Burning at a distance if you juggle it all very carefully?

Problems crop up with this when the player wants to try things with the item but the DM is wary of letting it become overpowered. So he tends to say “no” too much and it shuts down player creativity. Let’s say someone wants to use the Flame Tongue on a rock wall to heat it up, then throw water on it to shatter the stone. This was a legitimate, though slow, mining practice back in the day. Say yes! But it is very slow, the Flame Tongue isn’t as hot as a full bonfire, and the breaking stone makes a lot of noise. That means random encounters. So say yes, but admit that there may be drawbacks.

But how do you satisfy players who are used to having multiple magic items?

Each item now does more. And the items have a game-world effect that bears thinking about and describing. This helps fill the mental space for the player. The problem is not that he’s unsatisfied at having not enough magic items, he’s unsatisfied at having too few options. And a Ring of Protection or Studded Leather +1 is just going to disappear into the character’s game mechanics leaving him feeling like he doesn’t have anything.

The second problem is more insidious: many players want to gain things regularly. They don’t want to sit there knowing it’ll be several game sessions until they find the next magic item. This problem is exacerbated by CRPGs, and Diablo is a prime culprit. In that game, you can find a magic item that’s not as good as what you have and just sell it for a pittance. Or you find one that’s a slight upgrade and you sell your old one. But typically what slows down that game is going back to town constantly to sell your tons of loot and you end up throwing a lot of it on the ground in disgust to reduce your trips home.

But in most tabletop games, the granularity of the mechanics doesn’t allow many upgrades. If you have a normal sword, the first upgrade you can get is a +1 sword. There are only really four upgrades above that. So you can’t expect to get something better every time you find something.

And the economy has to make more sense than in Diablo. Most D&D settings don’t have the economic capacity to purchase very many minor magic items, or to keep such items in stock hoping someone will buy one. Trade in magic items is like trade in houses, when you change currencies to ours.

But you don’t need to trade in your Flame Tongue sword when you find a Frost Brand sword. Heck, it’s really nice to have both! Making items more complex than a +X modifier means they retain their usefulness longer. Only if he found another Flame Tongue would he sell his current one. But maybe a henchman or another party member would want it instead.

You can also include minor magic items. This guy blogger regularly comes up with cool magic items that are worth having but don’t affect combat much. Practical magic, you could say, and instead of each magic item being like a house, it’s like a really expensive espresso machine. The rich will have them, they’re available, but you can just drink coffee from a french press instead and get the job done. These items are about convenience rather than power. They’re about spending a minute at a task instead of an hour, without expanding what tasks you can perform.

Finally, consider putting a check on the chart next to a magic item found in treasure, and then if you reroll that magic item again later insert a comparable unique item from your Big List of Magic Items that Won’t Fit On a Chart. This way you still see the standard ones crop up, but as you play you see more and more of the interesting or weird ones.

1: So my answer is to reduce the number of magic items you give out, make those items all very interesting, and keep their powers from overlapping so as to eliminate trade in magic items.

2: You could also give out charged items, so they get used up and leave the campaign. A treasure of a ten-dose Potion of Fire Resistance is better from a balance perspective than a Ring of Fire Resistance, even if the temporary potion is more protective than the permanent ring.

3: You could mix in items that aren’t as useful on an adventure, or which have little use in combat. A self-heating frying pan would be pretty sweet on an adventure, even if it didn’t do any extra damage, just because then you wouldn’t have to set up a fire every time you camp. The upgrade-and-sell effect on these is also very low.

4: Very attractive items, those that everyone wants, may carry an abnormally severe drawback or quirk. Everyone wants a Cloak of Displacement, right? Well what if those cloaks were tied to a dimension that sapped the color and emotion from you, eventually turning you into a humorless, passionless, grey, vapid person. It affects your equipment too. Wear it long enough and it’s irreversible. Is making the enemy miss once per fight really worth all that? Maybe it’s worth using it sparingly, for special occasions …

5: Intelligent Swords. If you have to deal with a cranky personality every time you want to Detect Treasure, at least it’ll be interesting. And my sword personalities are universally hard to get along with. Who says an ego weapon of your alignment is purely a blessing?

How many magic items should a character have at a given level? That depends. I’d count any items with only a couple uses left as half to a quarter of an item. Such as scrolls, potions, low-charge wands. Anything low-power (like that magic skillet) should be a fraction of an item. Anything permanent and combat related should be a whole item, as should powerful single-use items like an Elixir of Resurrection.

That said, if you have more than one magic item per level you might have too much. But it really depends on what you have too. I’m not talking about game balance here, I’m talking about player satisfaction. Depending on what they’re used to, players could be satisfied with just one item per two or three levels. But anything less than one item per three levels is probably too low.