In the first of a twelve part series, I present to you thirty-one magic items for your fantasy role-playing game! Artwork has been graciously provided by the fantastic Ali G, who you can follow on Instagram @quack_at_midnight.
Pin of Pivoting
A small brass pin with a decorative head. It can be inserted harmlessly into an object, after which it will exert a rotational force around its axis, causing the item to spin. Consider adding charges and/or a limited duration if you are concerned about adding a perpetual motion device into your campaign.
A pair of boots that always seem to be muddy no matter how hard you try to clean them. When activated by the will of the wearer (or a command word), roots will quickly grow from the boots and embed themselves into soil or a suitably craggy surface. Gives the wearer with a resistance to being moved, and a bonus to keep standing on a precarious surface—at the cost of significantly reduced speed as the roots extend and retract with each step.
A thin layer of silver that can be applied to weapons, providing a bonus against creatures that really don’t like that sort of thing. Causes a damage bonus against monsters vulnerable to silver, but wears away relatively quickly.
Consider using the usage die from The Black Hack for a mechanical implementation. For example, the silver foil provides a bonus 1d8 damage to vulnerable creatures, but if the die comes up 1 or 2, the die steps down to a d6, then a d4, and then nothing. Keep in mind that the silver foil wears away whether or not the target is vulnerable!
A cap covered in green snakes that animate when worn, attacking nearby creatures hostile to the wearer. An attuned user who has taken the time to properly fit the wig and practice their menacing presence can achieve a limited form of the gorgon’s petrifying gaze.
The Single-Player Chess Set
An otherwise mundane chess set that will move one side’s pieces automatically, as though the moves were being performed by an opponent. If a player can beat the chess set in a best-of-three match, a secret will be revealed: a map in a hidden compartment, an extra-dimensional space, or the identity of the intelligence that was moving the pieces all along…
Horseshoes of… Magic
Why limit magical footwear to boots? Horseshoes can be bestowed with the same enchantments, to varying levels of success. For instance, Horseshoes of the Winterlands will keep your steed nice and cozy in a frozen wasteland; Horseshoes of Speed will increase their speed; and Horseshoes of Elvenkind will render your mount… oddly quiet.
The Red Carpet of Levitation
Once prized by a noble with a fondness for grand entrances, level walking surfaces, and avoiding puddles on the ground, this roll of red carpeting will extend level to the surface of the earth, even if it means floating in midair—so long as the back end when it was unfurled is on a solid surface.
The Whistle of Frustration
A small metal whistle with a little paper tag inserted in the mouthpiece. Removing the tag will cause the whistle to begin sounding itself. The high-pitched whistle occurs at random intervals, making it particularly irritating and difficult to locate by sound alone. Useful as a distraction, whether diverting attention away from a person or location, or making sure anyone in the area has trouble just concentrating on their work.
Ring of Minor Fire
A red metallic ring that, when worn on a finger, will cause the finger to transform into a living flame. The fire will not harm the user or any items on their person, but will otherwise burn things it comes into contact with. Perfect for lighting campfires, doing party tricks, and adding the teensiest bit of fire damage to unarmed attacks.
A small tube of makeup with a remarkable ability to change its own properties after it is applied. Depending on how much is used, it can:
- Render a feature completely hidden, such as a blemish or a distinct scar
- Provide a bonus to stealth or disguise attempts, as the user’s appearance is made completely unremarkable.
- Make the wearer so unremarkable that people interacting with them will have trouble remembering what they even looked like.
Providing a sustainable and humane source of ivory, planting an ivory seed will cause a small plant to sprout, producing a single fruit: a small block of ivory. Can also be inserted into a person’s gums to perfectly regrow a missing tooth, or mend a broken one.
Orb of Spell Storing
A small orb that acts just like a ring of spell storing (apart from the wearing-on-your-finger part). The hitch is that the orb is actually the egg of a creature of the game master’s choice, feeding off of the ambient magical energy produced by the magic-user that carries it. Your mage has essentially been a hen to this egg, and the creature that hatches may appreciate it… or turn hostile. The GM is encouraged to modify the creature based on its diet of spells.
The Guilty Blade
A cursed sword in a different sense. The creator of this blade trapped within it the soul of an enemy or a victim, cursing the blade itself instead of the wielder. Perhaps it was a paladin cursed with a need to draw blood, or a pacifist cursed to be a particularly effective weapon. The player can develop a relationship with the sword, possibly turning it from one alignment to another.
The Optic Fiber
A short length of rope with two enchanted lenses on either end. Looking through one will look out of the other, regardless of any bends in the rope itself. Useful for peeking around corners, over battlements, and maybe under doors if the gap is large enough.
Socks of Swimming
A pair of thick woolen socks, warm and cozy when dry. They provide a hefty boost to the wearer’s skill at swimming, with the unfortunate drawback of having to wear socks while swimming. The sheer unpleasantness may cause the wearer to be just a bit grumpy and prioritize a change of footwear
Pen of the Warrior Poet
A fine writing instrument. If used to write a poem (or draw a picture) during a short rest before a battle, the user can choose to automatically succeed at one mental save during that battle. The game master decides if players in the game can simply say that they wrote or drew something, pass a skill or ability check, or actually write or draw something.
Toothpicks of Sustenance
For the most efficient in portable rations, the Toothpicks of Sustenance can provide a full ration’s worth of nutritious sustenance just by chewing on them for a while. Available in multiple flavors. Directly proportional in usefulness to how much you care about tracking rations and encumbrance in your game.
The Hat of Navigation
A red hat with a large, circular brim. Through a ritual, it can be attuned to any fairly accurate map, after which the location of the wearer will always be represented on the map with a large red dot.
Snake Nut Can
An apparently mundane can of nuts, it contains several real snakes capable of following a simple command from the user, whether the goal is to scare an unsuspecting target or attack them. Caution: whispering commands into the Snake Nut Can makes you look like a real weirdo. Reusable, but you have to refill the can with snakes, and they generally don’t care for that kind of thing.
End Hooks of Teleportation
A pair of steel hooks attached to lengths of thick rope. When activated, the end of the rope will attack to any surface, as though by suction or a powerful magnet. If both are attached to surfaces, the ends of the rope will become linked, allowing the rope to be pulled through an extra-dimensional space “between” the two surfaces. Deactivating the ropes will end the enchantment, splitting the rope again wherever it was connected to the surface. The hooks themselves are too large to pass through the extradimensional space, and any damage to the ropes, hooks, or connection between rope and hook immediately ends effect until repaired.
Model Bug Collection
A slim glass case containing several bugs pinned to a backboard. The bugs are artificial, made of wire and thin sheets of metal. Removing the pin from a bug will bring it to life, and it will obey simple orders given by the person who removed the pin. The bug can always sense the location of the pin, and will return to its case when if its orders are completed. Some ideas for unique abilities for the bugs:
- The Mosquito can find a target and deliver a dose of poison, or take a small blood sample.
- The Spider can weave a fine but strong silver web where the user desires
- The Butterfly can can capture an image and display it on its wings
- The Cricket can record and replay sounds or a short message
The Silver Tongue
The prized chalice of a long-since departed bard. Drinking from the cup causes the spirit of the bard to partially possess the imbiber—specifically, the tongue. Will provide a boost to any skill checks involving verbal skills or vocal performance, at the cost of just a tiny bit of your food and drink. Just a bit. It’s only fair.
Storm in a Teacup/Tempest in a Teapot
A charming porcelain teapot. If left out in a storm with its lid off until it fills with rainwater, the teapot can save and later pour out a tiny bit the stored weather, creating a small localized storm. If, instead, the water is used to brew tea, it will be quite nice. And give a bonus to the next weather-based spell cast by the imbiber.
Gum of Lock-Picking
A stick of gum that can be chewed and inserted into a lock. Instead of jamming up the mechanism, it will automatically pick any mundane lock, and turn into a perfect copy of the key when withdrawn. One-time use (for functional and sanitary reasons), and tastes absolutely disgusting.
A bottle of dye that… doesn’t really do anything out of the ordinary. However, it is nonetheless magical, and will show up as such with any spell or ability that can detect magic. Non-toxic, do with that information what you will.
The Mystic Eraser
An eraser that can quickly and efficiently erase stubborn magical writing. Until consumed entirely, it can be used to (attempt to) remove glyphs and wards, or modify spellbooks and scrolls.
Magical Security Envelopes
Envelopes made out of mostly-completed spell-scrolls. The only missing elements are the name of the sender and receiver, a stamp, and a little spit to seal it all. Once completed, the spell is set, and can only be safely discharged by someone whose name is on the envelope.
If the envelope is successfully delivered and opened by the addressee, the sender will receive a mental notification (as an Alarm spell).
If the envelope is intercepted by a third party, the sender and receiver will be alerted to that fact, and the envelope will activate a glyph of warding.
Available in different security levels, including Just a Warning, Destroy the Contents, and Burn the Thief.
Crown of the Priest King
A ceremonial crown reserved for coronations. Legend has it that bearing the crown grants the wearer boundless wisdom and dedication, preparing them for the duties required of a king.
It really doesn’t. The crown is the phylactery of an ancient lich. When the crown is worn, it paralyzes the wearer, burns their soul for fuel, eats their memories, and turns them into the Lich’s thrall. The Lich has been the true monarch for ages, and has the kingdom graciously defending his phylactery with the rest of the crown jewels.
The lich is, as everything, up to the game master. I like the idea of an aboleth lich, which fits in with their ability to eat memories and adds a nice touch of weirdness.
Bookmark of Finding
A sheet of thick parchment with a fun tassel, hand-crafted by an esteemed (but woefully underappreciated) Wizard-Librarian. The user can write a subject or a question on the bookmark and shut it within a book. The bookmark will slip entirely into the pages, find a relevant passage, and then pop back out again, blank and ready for another search. If used in a library, the bookmark can jump between books, and the tassel will wave out from where it lands to (quietly!) alert the user.
Mask of Speak with Dead
A mask carved out of wax. When placed on the face of a dead body, it will provide one use of the Speak with Dead spell, the voice of the dead apparently emanating from just behind the max despite remaining completely still. At the conclusion of the spell, the mask has completed forming to the shape of the deceased’s face, and can be used as a mundane death mask.
An otherwise ordinary oil lamp, but with a sharp needle instead of a wick. By pricking a finger on a Blood Lamp, the blood is absorbed and used to fuel a ghostly flame. Only the person whose blood is in the lamp can see the light—to all others, it appears as though the lamp is not even lit.
Popular among rogues, assassins, and, you know, humans who are sick of being the only one without dark vision.