The treasures mentioned thus far are all monetary. Their usefulness is
immediate and obvious. They give characters wealth, and with wealth comes power and
influence. However, there are other treasures, very desirable ones, that your
characters will not want to sell or give away. These are the magical items that
your characters find and use.
Although priests and wizards can make magical items (according to the
guidelines your DM has for magical research), it is far more common for characters to
find these items during the course of adventures. Magical items are powerful
aids for characters. With them, characters can gain bonuses in combat, cast spells
with the mere utterance of a word, withstand the fiercest fire, and perform
feats impossible by any other known means. Not all magical items are beneficial,
however. Some are cursed, the result of faulty magical construction or, very
rarely, the deliberate handiwork of some truly mad or evil wizard.
A very few magical items are artifacts--items created by beings more powerful than the greatest player characters.
These are perilously dangerous items to use. There are only three methods to
determine how to use artifacts--dumb luck, trial and error, and diligent research.
There are many different magical items your character can find, but they all
fall into a few basic categories. Each type of magical item has properties you
should be aware of.
Magical Weapons: There can be a magical version of nearly any type of normal weapon, although
there are admittedly few magical bardiches or guisarme-voulges. By far the most
common magical weapons are swords and daggers. A magical weapon typically gives
a +1 or greater bonus to attack rolls, increasing a character's chance to hit
and cause damage. Perhaps magical swords are quicker on the attack, or maybe
they're sharper than normal steel--the explanation can be whatever the DM
desires. Whatever the reason, magical weapons give results far beyond those of even
the finest-crafted nonmagical blade.
A rare few weapons have even greater powers. These may allow your character to
sense danger, heal wounds, float in midair, or have the most amazing luck. The
rarest of the rare can actually communicate with your character and are imbued
with an otherworldly intelligence. While the most powerful of magical weapons,
these clever instruments of destruction sometimes seek to impose their wills
on their owners.
When you find a magical weapon, more than likely you do not know its
properties. Some functions, such as the advantage it gives you in combat, can be learned
by trial and error. Other properties must be learned through research and
spells. Ancient histories and legend lore spells can provide information on the properties of your weapon. On rare
occasions, properties are discovered through blind luck. Simply commanding the
weapon to activate one power after another (hoping it will suddenly spring to life)
works only for the most minor abilities--detecting danger, spotting secret
doors, or locating treasure. Greater abilities require that specific commands be
uttered, perhaps in long-forgotten languages.
Magical Armor: Enchanted armors are the complements to magical weapons. These armors have a
+1 or better bonus to their normal Armor Class, being made of stuff stronger and
finer than nonmagical armor. Furthermore, these armors grant some measure of
protection against attacks that normal armors would not stop. Chain mail +1, for instance, improves the character's saving throw against the fiery breath
of a dragon by 1, thus providing more than just a physical shield. In rare
instances, armor may possess extraordinary powers. Although such armors are
generally finely made and elaborately engraved. characters can discover the armors'
powers only by the same methods they use to discover the powers of magical
Potions and Oils: Magical potions and oils are easily found but hard to identify. They come in
small bottles, jugs, pots, or vials and clearly radiate magic if a detection
spell is used. However, the effect of any potion is unknown until some brave soul
tries a small sample. The results can be quite varied. The imbiber may discover
he can float or fly, resist great heat or cold, heal grievous wounds, or
fearlessly face the greatest dangers. He may also find himself hopelessly smitten by
the first creature he sees or struck dead by a powerful poison. It is a risk
that must be taken to learn the nature of the potion.
Scrolls: Scrolls are a convenience and luxury for spellcasters. By reading the
incantation written on the pages, the priest or wizard can instantly cast that spell.
He does not need to memorize it, have the material components handy, or do any
of the things normal spellcasting requires. Experienced and powerful wizards
normally spend their evenings preparing such scrolls for their own adventuring use.
Some scrolls are usable by all characters, granting special but temporary
protections from various dangers--evil creatures, werewolves, powerful beings from
other planes, etc. Other scrolls bear hideous or humorous curses, brought into
effect at the mere reading of their titles. Unfortunately, the only way to know
what a scroll contains is to silently scan its contents. For scrolls
containing wizard spells, this requires the use of a read magic spell. Other scrolls can be read by all. This scan does not cast the spell
written on the scroll, but it tells the character what is written there (and
exposes him to the effects of curses). Once the scroll is read, it can be used at
any time in the future by that character.
Rings: Magical rings are usable by many different classes and bestow a wide range of
powers, from pyrotechnic displays to wishes. While the aura of a magical ring
can be detected, its properties cannot be discovered until it is worn and the
command word is uttered. (The command word is most commonly found inscribed on
the inside of the band.) As with all magical items, some rings can harm your
character. Worse still, cursed rings can be removed only with the aid of spells!
Wands, Staves, and Rods: These are among the most powerful of standard magical items. Wands are
commonly used by wizards, allowing them to cast powerful spells with the flick of a
wrist. Staves can be used by either a wizard or a priest. Staves can be truly
destructive, dwarfing even the potential of a wand. Rods are the rarest of all,
the accouterments of witch-kings and great lords. With rods come dominance and
Fortunately for your character, few of these items are cursed or dangerous to
handle. But all must be operated by a command word--a specific word or phrase
that triggers the power within. No wand, stave, or rod shows any indication of
its powers by mere sight or handling. Careful research and probing are most
often needed to tap the potential stored within.
Wands, staves, and rods are not limitless in their power. Each use drains them
slightly, using up a charge. There is no power gauge or meter showing what is
left. A character discovers his wand is drained only when it no longer
functions or suddenly crumbles into useless dust.
Miscellaneous Magic: Miscellaneous magical items are where the true variety of magical treasures
lies. Each item possesses some unique power. There are horseshoes to make your
horse go faster, brooms to ride, sacks that hold more than they should, paints
that create real things, girdles that grant great strength, caps to make your
character smarter, books that increase ability scores, and much, much more. Each
item is different and not all can be identified in the same way. The effects of
some become obvious the instant the item is handled, donned, or opened. Others
require research and questioning to learn the command word needed to activate
them. All are quite valuable and rare.
Artifacts and Relics: Finally, there are artifacts and relics. Don't count on your PC ever finding
one of these rarest of all magical items. Even if your character does find one,
think carefully before you decide to let him keep it permanently. Artifacts are
the most powerful magical items in the game. Indeed, many are powerful enough
to alter the course of history! They are all unique and have unique histories.
You can never find more than one Hand of Vecna in a world. Because it is so unique, each artifact has special and
significant powers. Artifacts never appear by accident; they are always placed by the DM.
Finding artifacts is always the result of a very special adventure. Your DM
has placed that artifact for a reason. It is not likely that he really intends
for your characters to keep it. Instead, he has something arranged in which you
need that artifact for a specific purpose. The problem with keeping artifacts is
that they are too powerful. Not only do they unbalance your character in the
short run, they also eventually corrupt and destroy him. The magical power of
artifacts is such that they destroy their owners sooner or later. There is a
price to be paid for power, and it is not a cheap one.
(See also Table 88: Magical Items in the Dungeon Master Guide and Magic Item Tables in the Tome of Magic)
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