DM's Corner: Custom Magic Items
You’ve decided to reward the hard efforts of your players with a custom magical item of your own design. Before you reach into your handy bag of tricks to deliver your painstakingly crafted unique trinket, let’s take a step back and ask ourselves a few important questions.
The first thing you must consider when adding a custom item to the world is simply this: Is the item broken?
Now when we say broken in this instance we don’t mean whether or not the item is intact. Rather, the question is, will this item throw your world out of balance? Will the players throw your story into permanent chaos by introducing this item? Is their new bauble so valuable that it will destroy an economy, or provide a loop hole to the delicate balance of powers that be?
More importantly, ask yourself, does this item modify or amend an existing rule, or further still, introduce a new mechanic or rule to the game? If the answer is yes, you would do well to consider scaling down the power of this item, or at least running it by another player or DM before implementing it. Chances are the item will change the game in unforeseen ways if it goes beyond the scope of an established rule set.
Next, we must consider whether or not the item is worth anything to the players, or if all your hard work is now just a fancy gold coin. Will the item be used by your players? We certainly would not give a cloak of enhanced Stealth to a party that has no sneaky characters, nor a Holy Avenger to a party of evil Necromancers and Warlocks. Make sure that the item you give will be as valued by the players as it is to you, and mechanically useful.
As a cherry on top, be sure the item is descriptively unique, and not just another line of stats or buffs to be lost and forgotten in the shuffle. Describe the unique settings of gems that adorn your item. Spend a sentence on the rare materials and meticulous craftsmanship. Offer a hint at some previous owner or mysterious past that has left its mark on the item. Get your players invested in the item by making it stand out in their mind and being memorable to them!
What are some of your favorite unique magical items from past adventures? Let us know in the comments below!
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Originally published by Donald