D&D WITH ERIC THE DM #18: Magical Items

D&D WITH ERIC THE DM #18: Magical Items

Eric the DM

Welcome home adventurers! Its so great to see you back again! How have your adventures been? Have you seen anything new and wonderous? I’ve been hunting relics far and wide myself. You never know what may lay in the very next dungeon!

Do you have any magical items you are currently fond of? A favorite wand or a magical hat? Magical items make things much more fun! I thought we would talk about them today!

Let’s be real, we ALL love magical items, right? How could we not?! Little objects that make our lives much easier. (Or make us much more deadly!) They add interesting spin to almost every encounter. But for players and DMs alike they can be a problem if not used or given correctly. DMs who give players magical items that are too powerful too soon may have a problem regulating their story and keeping their players from running amok. But if players work hard and don’t receive interesting rewards then they may grow restless and lack enthusiasm. It’s a delicate balance.

For players I recommend doing your research and learning about what magical items you like. But not only ones you like but ones that compliment your character. You may love a +4 bastard sword that summons crazed warthogs to protect you, but does your elven mage love it? Once you discover a magical item (or 3) you are into the next step is to discuss it with your DM. Most DMs LOVE it when a player comes to them with requests. It allows them to weave their story in more interesting ways. If you are passionate about a magical item, the vast majority of DMs will provide you with a path towards it. But that doesn’t mean it will be easy! You will definitely have to work for it! Magical items must usually be assembled, crafted, found through a series of quests or gained by some other means. But this makes them much more rewarding!

For DMs most of you probably have your own timetable upon which you give magical items. But for new DMs you may be questioning what to give and when and how. Here are a couple of tips! First if you are using a module most of the time they come with “treasure charts” that allow you to easily “rollup” level appropriate items for your players. These types of charts are also available online and VIA other resources so you can find them if you want them!

A second tip is if you want to give a magical item, makes its effect approximate to the level of a spell at the same level of the player. For example, if your 5th level mage is due a reward, a 6th or even 7th level fireball wand might be appropriate. A 7th level rogue might enjoy an 8th or 9th level cloak of invisibility. Basing your items on the same level spell is an easy shortcut. 

Another tip, kind of a fun one based on my personal experience. During my VERY early years of gaming I was fortunate enough to grow up near a gaming shop and myself and my friends got the chance to play with some much older and very experienced DMs. One DM in particular had a practice I carried on in my own DM life as I was starting. At the beginning of every new campaign he would give us all a token. That token could be turned in at anytime, and sometime during the next 2 adventures you would receive a level appropriate magical item. The longer you waited the better the item you got. This allowed for the players to have some power over the situation which is enjoyed and added a fun element to the game play. And he still gave magical items and other treasure as appropriate as we adventured, but this allowed for us all to have a kind of “bonus” whenever we felt like we needed it or wanted it. Some players will want to cash it in right away to get that early edge. Other will hang on to it until much later or at a critical moment. Regardless I always found it to be a very fun game device!

Lastly, for players and DMs alike, there are TONS of supplemental reading materials that can provide you with tons of magical item ideas. Wizards of the Coast (DnD) will occasionally print entire tomes of magical items. Palladium offers similar, almost monthly supplemental materials that offer new and interesting magical items. Many other companies do the same. And of course, the internet has everything! So, do you research and you will definitely find something worth fighting for!

I should also mention imagination is also a great go to. Why use someone else’s magical items when you can make your own? Players and DMs alike can daydream their own items and make them a reality in game! Gaming is about using your imagination so use it every chance you get!

OK Adventurer why are you still sitting here?! It’s time to go magical item hunting! When you find something cool bring it back so I can see it! I’m always excited to share your adventurers with you! This is a home for you! Check our other blogs and the community we are building together here! Leave comments and let us know what you want to talk about. Any questions or advice you have is always welcome! I hope to see you again soon! Keep rolling those dice!
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