View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Magic Items that Grow in Power With Characters - Some spitballing

2016-04-26, 09:42 AM
I used to play a game called Earthdawn and one of the things I liked from that game was the idea that magical items had history and further secrets to unlock. This idea seems really compatible with 5e, even though D&D magic items still seem to come in two flavors: you know what they do or you don't.

When they introduced the attunement mechanic, I thought it was an interesting way to limit powerful magic items, but it also made me think about the Earthdawn way of doing things. In that system, to unlock a weapons abilities, you effectively had to go on a sidequest for each level of increase.

Given that magic items are to rare things, I think something like that would work here. This would allow one to introduce a magic item to a character at a low level, but rather than replace them with more powerful items as the characters progress, the item progresses along with them, each new power being worthy of a magic item all it's own. Here are some proposed rules. Tell me what you think.

Some magic items have powers that require more than one attunement.
Each attunement takes up an attunement slot, as if it was an additional item.
Before the attunements can occur, the character carrying it must meet prerequisites.
Unless otherwise noted, effects of lesser attunements are cumulative with more powerful ones.


The Knife of Sacrificial Defense
Description: This blade is a thick, single edged knife made of dull, blackened steel with wooden handles. The knife is always slightly warm to the touch and radiates potent magic. If anyone with the Urchin background or who has lived in poverty lays eyes on it, they may make a DC10 Perception check to notice there's something special about the blade, though there what that is will not be apparent.

History: The Knife was used by an adolescent girl named Aminilay when her home was attacked by wondering wildmen mauraders. Her father, mother and elder brothers fell, but she drew her father's hunting knife and stood alone against six, defending her younger siblings. When the fight was over, she managed to drive the men off, killing four, but not before she succumbed to her injuries. She pressed the knife into the hand of her nine year old brother, telling him to be good and to protect what remained of their family.

The brother went on to become a great warrior, always carrying the blade at his belt, often wielding it as his only weapon. His sister's sacrifice lived on in the blade and while he carried it, no one he defended ever felt the sting of the tragedy he suffered. The warrior met his end on a moat bridge, repelling a force of undead. While his sacrifice was not in vain, the Knife fell by he wayside, turning up now and in again in the hands of other warriors.

Without attunement:

The knife has the same stats as a dagger, minus the thrown property: 1d4 slashing, Light, finesse.
The knife is a +0 Magical Weapon. If you're wielding the knife with no other weapon, your AC is 11+Dex.

First Attunment:
Prerequisites: You must here of Aminilay's sacrifice and speak her name aloud. Once you do, you will feel a pull to attune to the blade on your next short or long rest.

The knife becomes +1.
When you draw it, if you are wielding no other weapon, a field of force surrounds the blade. The blade now does 1d6 Force damage.
You may cast the Shield spell; you must take a long or short rest to use this ability again.

Second Attunment:
Prerequisites: Level 5+. You must win a fight against a superior number of foes.

The knife becomes +2.
The field of force around the blade becomes longer and does 1d8 Force. This effect only happens while you are wielding no other weapon.
When you draw the knife, you are under the effect of the spell Mage Armor. This replaces the unattuned AC effect.
As long as you are outnumbered since the last time you rolled initiative, you may use your bonus action to make an attack with the Knife.

Third Attunment:
Prerequisites: Level 11+. You must be reduced to 0 hit points while fighting to defend at least one person while outnumbered.

The knife becomes +3.
The field of force is very long and the blade does 1d10 force.
You may cast the Shield spell. You must take a short or long rest, or have been damaged by a foe who was part of a force of superior numbers. This replaces the similar ability from the first attunment.
Final Fury: If you are below half your maximum hit point total, you may use your bonus action to make one attack on each foe in a radius equal to your base move. You must complete a long rest before using this ability again. When you use this ability, you your hit point total drops down to 1 and you lose any temporary hit points.

2016-04-26, 11:00 AM
Another example:

Messenger's Boots

Description:A pair of well made leather boots that come up half of the wearer's calf. They are buttoned on the side with buttons made from hammered silver coins. The soles are always in good repair.

History: The boots were first owned by a messenger named Felimer Bulgist. He was well known of his reliable and quick service and for never using a carriage or horse for his deliveries. He was living very comfortably off of his business when a blight hit the land. Felimer delivered communications between healers trying to combat the strange disease, never succumbing himself. Eventually, the source of the plague was revealed to be an ancient lich and a massive force was gathered to combat the menace. Felimer served here, too, getting communications between troop leaders and the front lines, all for a modest fee of course. When the battle was over and the lich defeated, Felimer was awarded honors by the Baron of the land and eventually retired. His prized boots were on display, after he passed away many years later, in the Baron's castle, but eventually stolen, and have been changing hands ever since.


When you take the action Dash, you may move an additional 10' as part of that action.
The wearer is always comfortable, despite temperature or weather.
When haggling or negotiating a price, the wearer gains proficiency in the skill Persuasion

First Attunment:
Prerequisites: Level 3+; you must deliver a message from one town to another, at least a mile apart, covering the distance on foot.

You may reroll a failed Consitution Save or Check. You must take a short or long rest to use this again.
You may move on difficult terrain as if it were normal.
You may move on water as if it was difficult terrain.

Second Attunment:
Prerequisites: Level 7+, you must gain 1 level of exhaustion from running

You may user your reaction to trade 10' of available movement for the turn into +1 AC. This may occur when attacked, after the results have been announced, but not before damage is rolled. You may trade no more than 30' of movement per turn this way and you must have the available movement for the turn to use this effect.
You may cast the following spells, using Charisma as your spellcasting stat, as if you were a spellcaster of your character level, without the need for material compontents: Spider Climb, Misty Step, Expeditious Retreat. You must complete a short rest or long rest to cast a spell granted by the boots again.

Third Attunment:
Prerequisites: Level 12+, you must gain the favor of a noble who does not yet know your name

Your Charisma becomes 22 while you wear the boots, unless it is already higher.
If you fail a Persuasion Check, you may reroll. You must complete a short or long rest to use this ability again.

Final Hyena
2016-04-26, 02:41 PM
Very nice items, one thing that always got me with such items is that there potential power is so high that low level players that can't use the full potential might prefer to sell the gear. Then again if most magic items are like that then it is easier. but onto my addition.

Noble Cloak

Description: A Fine Crimson cloak emblazoned with gold brooches styled as rays coming down from the sun.

History: The cloak was fashioned for Lord Henry Anderson in honour and recognition of his winged cavalry. A highly trained unit that flew to and from battles with haste laying down their wrath on the enemies of the crown. The power of his units ability to get to the field quickly and to overwhelm enemy troops on any flank turned many impossible battles to victories.

Your movement speed increases by 5 feet.
The wearer may use feather fall at will.

First Attunment:
Prerequisites: Level 5+; you must survive a fall of 50 feet.
You gain a fly speed of 30 feet, but can only go up or down.

Second Attunment:
Prerequisites: Level 7+, you must defeat an enemy from the air without being hit.
Your fly speed becomes 65 feet, and is no longer restricted to a specific direction.

Third Attunment:
Prerequisites: Level 11+, you must survive a landing taking 200 feet of falling damage.
You may slam into an enemy using your falling moment to damage them. Whenever you would normally take fall damage you can direct that towards a creature or object within 5 feet of you (you still take falling damage).
You take half damage from falling.

Probably needs some tuning as done quickly. I look forward to seeing the items people create.

2016-04-26, 07:42 PM
This is one of mine, lightly adapted to your structure:

The Telltale Turban

Description:A headwrap of blue silk, covered in tiny motifs of eyes, ears and hands in silver and gold thread and affixed with a jeweled broach prominently featuring an eye preserved in gleaming amber. When worn, your senses prick up as if you've spent your entire life in a dull fog. You can perceive the play of light and shadow as never before, hear heartbeats in the creatures around you and feel acute disturbances in the air as it passes over your skin.

History:A wizard did it.

You have advantage on all perception checks.

First Attunment:
Prerequisites: Level 3+; Spend a long rest meditating in complete darkness and silence.
You gain dark-vision to 120 ft. In darkness, you see a world illuminated with eerie amber ambiance.

Second Attunment:
Prerequisites: Level 8+; You must slay an invisible foe.
You gain Blindsight to 30 ft.
You have advantage on all insight checks to determine if a creature is lying.

Third Attunment:
Prerequisites: Level 13+; Speak no deliberate falsehood and employ no deception for the duration of one moon; maintain such honesty whenever wearing the turban.
You gain Truesight to 120ft.
You may activate an aura centered around you replicating the effects of Zone of Truth as a free action. The save DC for this effect is 12+Wis+Proficiency bonus.

2016-04-26, 09:31 PM
3.5 tried this with the book Weapons of Legacy - it's a fan favorite, which is probably why it showed up in OotS #1025 to explain the magic behind Roy's sword. It allows a person in possession of a historically noteworthy item to perform a ritual that expands the power of the item.

I've implemented a unique pair of magic arms that my players don't know are Legacy items yet:


Description: A sword with a blade of gleaming black iron and a hilt made of goristro ivory and wrapped in fine silver chains, with glowing orange Infernal runes along the blade. The scabbard is made of marilith hide. While you wield it, you become more selfish and ruthless. A drop of blood must be applied to the blade every 24 hours or it loses its power, with the blade dulling to normal iron and the runes fading.

Kyton Armor

Description: A chainmail hauberk of the same gleaming black iron as the Inquisitor, with worked goristro ivory plates on the chest and shoulders engraved with the same orange runes. While you wield it, you become more selfish and ruthless. A drop of blood must be applied to the armor every 24 hours or it loses its power, with the chainmail dulling and locking together and the runes fading.

History: These items were the personal arms of Dalkhressos, a fearful green dragonborn paladin of Dispater who served as his head inquisitor when he attempted to establish a fortress on the Prime Material.

Basic Stats: Inquisitor is a +1 sword, and the Kyton Armor is an adamantine chain shirt.

Wielded Together: You are cursed as by a sword of vengeance. You cannot remove the Kyton Armor or get rid of Inquisitor.

Wielded Together, Level 5: Inquisitor's attack/damage bonus increases to +2, you gain resistance to fire damage. The blood used to activate the items must come from a living creature you slew personally. You grow paranoid, lashing out to preempt presumed threats.

Wielded Together, Level 11: Inquisitor's attack/damage bonus increases to +3, you gain resistance to cold and acid damage. The blood used to activate the items must come from a living humanoid you personally slew. You become tyrannical, intimidating those around you into following your orders.

Wielded Together, Level 17: Inquisitor becomes a vorpal sword, you gain immunity to fire, cold, and acid damage, you can open a gate to or from Dispater's personal chambers in Dis once per day. The blood to activate the items must come from an innocent or righteous humanoid you personally slew. You are fully enthralled by Dispater and compelled to gate to him and receive his orders for you.

Obviously these items are a negative for the player; you have to gauge whether you're willing to give in to evil and servitude to an archdevil in exchange for greater power. But you could take the same approach with a different item; I basically just upgraded the items from Uncommon to Rare, Very Rare, and Legendary versions.