Like most things I write about Dungeons and Dragons, I’m going to be working with D&D 3.x, specifically the core rules as presented in The Hypertext d20 SRD. In the case of this piece, I’m also only going to be talking about named magic items, rather than all magic item properties. So, you won’t see an icy burst sword on the list, but you could conceivably see the Frost Brand. In addition, I’m not dealing with epic items. We already have artifacts, and those are good enough. Finally, items are judged based on originality, flavor, fun, and powers, not based on how good they are at letting you twink your character. Not that there’s anything wrong with twinking, but it’s not what I’m looking at here. With that out of the way, let’s get this started, shall we?
Here we have the Swiss Army knife of Dungeons and Dragons. First, it’s a staff with the ability to cast Hold Person, Fear, and a weak version of Vampiric Touch once per day. But wait, there’s more! It can also be used as a magical mace (+2)! Need a torch? No problem! Just turn it into a flaming longsword (+1) instead. Not only will it light your way, it does a number on all of your enemies at the same time! And for those times you need raw power over all else, turn it into a magical battleaxe (+4) with which to cleave through your enemies. For those who prefer long pointy sticks, you can have your choice of shortspear, longspear, and lance (all +3). It really does everything! And that’s still not all! Extra functions include an extendable ladder that can anchor in rock as hard as granite, the ability to force open doors, a compass, and an altimeter in case you happen to be out for a pleasant ride on dragonback! And it’s all yours if you help the town out with it’s troll problem! Seriously though, what’s not to like about it?
This is the one gimp item I’ve given a player that they truly seemed to enjoy. These cast what is possibly my favorite wizard spell in the game, Irresistible Dance, on whoever is foolish enough to wear them into melee. Or run from melee in them. There’s nothing quite like telling a player who charges into melee that he begins break dancing and doesn’t know why. But hey, it’s a really fun curse, even despite its irritations from a mechanical perspective. Not saying I wouldn’t get rid of them first chance I had, but they are fun. Besides, once a player manages to remove them, there’s nothing quite like the revenge they take in using the boots against an unsuspecting npc.
This is another fine cursed item. Casting it into the air in hopes of revealing invisible foes, everyone begins coughing and sneezing instead. Incidentally, it does reveal invisible foes, it just does so by the sound of the coughing opponent. Of course, no one actually gets to do anything about it, since anyone in the area is completely unable to do anything else. Assuming they even survive the constitution damage. Of course, if you know what it is beforehand somehow, and properly prepare someone to release it, this can actually be a devastating first strike against any foe, followed up with the rest of the party once the designated patsy releases the first strike. And turning a cursed item to your advantage is where the real fun begins.
Ever since you’ve heard of Thor or Zeus, and perhaps even before then, you’ve always wanted to throw lightning bolts. Here’s your chance. Every one of these Javelins is a lightning bolt in a can just waiting to be released. Really. Just throw them and watch the fun. I know it’s simple, but that’s really all there is to this one.
Under normal circumstances, this is just a very well made bow designed for those of above average strength. However, swearing an oath to kill an opponent turns this bow into a magical powerhouse whenever used against that enemy, while making it less stellar against all other opponents. The oath remains in effect until the enemy is slain or seven days elapse, whichever comes first. Then it can be done all over again. This is great for those characters who would make such oaths, and have that kind of single-minded determination to pursue an enemy to the end. Come to think of it, it would be a great fit for a holy warrior wielding a Sun Blade and Shield of the Sun. (See below and you’ll see what I mean.)
I don’t know what crazy wizard thought of this item, but it’s D&D’s equivalent to a tank and submarine all rolled into one. Without the giant guns anyway. It requires two people to truly pilot effectively, but man, the look on the faces of the enemy when they see a giant metal crab approaching is worth it. So is the protection offered. It’s a little clunky to move around in, but what proper tank isn’t? Time to find some wizard spells that don’t require line of effect in order to really dish out some pain from the inside. Just in case the pincers weren’t enough for you. I love using this as an enemy, only to have the players find out there are two more inside, fresh and ready to fight once the crab itself is taken down. Which is no easy feat on its own. It’s also great to let the players use in one-off missions for a kingdom, particularly if they’re lower in level and you want to let them have a taste of power and bigger combats to come.
This powder is incredibly absorbent, with the ability to soak up 100 gallons of water and store it in an area the size of a pebble. When hurled down, it then releases all absorbed water. As long as you can find a lake or ocean to use, getting all that water is easy. After that, the fun part begins. All that water exploding away from the pebble should cause some havoc. You won’t get any floods out of it, but you’ll probably knock over your enemies from the power of the current, provide enough water for a town to make it through a drought if you’ve been carrying it awhile, or really ruin a fire elemental’s day, among many other possibilities.
What’s cooler than having your own fortress? Keeping your own fortress in your pocket, then dropping it on your enemies’ heads when they attack you! That’s exactly what the instant fortress allows you to do. Complete with battlements and arrow slits, it grows straight out of a metal cube and roots itself into the ground, mauling and pushing away those who attempted to invade your personal space bubble. Also great when you need an impromptu way to block the pass into town from the roaming bandits. Definitely beats building the fortress by hand. Especially when you have about a minute to get the job done.
You know how sometimes, you just have to split the party even though you know it will end badly? Well, these will help make it end less badly. Items can be transferred between these two magic hoops, so if one group realizes they need something the other group has, just send them a message and have them send it on back to you. Also coordinate a two pronged attack without using telepathy. Or learn a cool new fighting style through the hoops. Maybe the tank can hold up one hoop while the rogue sneak attacks through the other from a safe distance away. Or maybe that falls under the clause of being too far away, you might need a GM call on that one. Casting spells through the ring is a go though, so that’s very helpful for the frail wizard who wants to deliver a devastating touch spell, or a cleric who prefers to heal the party from a distance. In short, very versatile, and helpful in a variety of circumstances, particularly with some planning.
Perfect for the non-chaotic warrior of justice. Everyone knows warriors don’t know magic, but can derive power from great artifacts. This is one such artifact, which grants spellcasting as a level 20 paladin to the wielder, among other perks. In return, the wielder must undertake a quest every year at the behest of a good deity. Between the quest likely undertaken in order to find this shield in the first place, as well as every quest taken thereafter, this is a beautiful choice for lots of extra plot. It also provides magic for the holy warrior that wishes to rely on his tools rather than inherent magic, and in return you’ll see the warrior doing a lot of good questing. I love pairing this with a Sun Blade, which is especially useful against evil creatures and has a daylight power that seems to fit right in with this shield and the theme of a warrior gaining magic through his tools rather than a deity.