Magic Items and Detect Magic
When detect magic identifies a magic item’s school of magic, this information refers to the school of the spell placed within the potion, scroll, or wand, or the prerequisite given for the item. The description of each item provides its aura strength and the school to which it belongs.
If more than one spell is given as a prerequisite, use the highest-level spell. If no spells are included in the prerequisites, use the following default guidelines.
Item Nature School Armor and protection items Abjuration Weapons or offensive items Evocation Bonus to ability score, skill check, etc. Transmutation Table: Random Magic Item Generation Minor Medium Major Item 01-04 01-10 01-10 Armor and shields 05-09 11-20 11-20 Weapons 10-44 21-30 21-25 Potions 45-46 31-40 26-35 Rings — 41-50 36-45 Rods 47-81 51-65 46-55 Scrolls — 66-68 56-75 Staves 82-91 69-83 76-80 Wands 92-100 84-100 81-100 Wondrous items
To use a magic item, it must be activated, although sometimes activation simply means putting a ring on your finger. Some items, once donned, function constantly. In most cases, though, using an item requires a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. By contrast, spell completion items are treated like spells in combat and do provoke attacks of opportunity.
Activating a magic item is a standard action unless the item description indicates otherwise. However, the casting time of a spell is the time required to activate the same power in an item, regardless of the type of magic item, unless the item description specifically states otherwise.
The four ways to activate magic items are described below:
Size and Magic Items
When an article of magic clothing or jewelry is discovered, most of the time size shouldn’t be an issue. Many magic garments are made to be easily adjustable, or they adjust themselves magically to the wearer. Size should not keep characters of various kinds from using magic items.
There may be rare exceptions, especially with race-specific items.
Magic Items Slots
Many magic items need to be donned by a character who wants to employ them or benefit from their abilities. It’s possible for a creature with a humanoid-shaped body to wear as many as 15 magic items at the same time. However, each of those items must be worn on (or over) a particular part of the body, known as a “slot.”
A humanoid-shaped body can be decked out in magic gear consisting of one item from each of the following groups, keyed to which slot on the body the item is worn.
Note: If you click on the image at right of a person showing the body slots, you can download a PDF that you can print and fill in yourself!
Armor: This slot is used for suits of armor that are worn.Belts: This slot consists of belts and other items that can be worn around the waist.Body: This slot consists of body wraps, cassocks, corsets, dusters, harnesses, robes, vestments and any other article of clothing that can be worn on the body.Chest: This slot consists of jackets, mantels, shirts, vests and other items that can be worn around the torso or chest.Eyes: This slot consists of goggles, lenses, monocles, spectacles, and other items that can be worn over the eyes.Feet: This slot consists of boots, horseshoes, sandals, shoes, slippers, and other items that can be worn on the feet.Hands: This slot consists of gauntlets, gloves, and other items that can worn on the hands.Head: This slot consists of circlets, crowns, hats, helms, hoods, masks, and other items that can be worn on the head.Headband: This slot consists of bands, headbands, laurels, phylacteries, and other non-head slot items that can be worn around the forehead.Neck: This slot consists of amulets, brooches, medallions, necklaces, periapts, scarabs, and other items that can be worn around the neck or fastened to a cloak.Ring (up to two): rings.Shield: This slot is for carried shields.Shoulders: This slot consists of capes, cloaks, cords, mantels, pauldrons, shawls, stoles, wings, and other items that can be worn on the shoulders.Wrists: This slot consists of armbands, bracelets, bracers, gauntlets, manacles, shackles, vambraces, and other items that can worn over the wrists.Slotless: Items not worn or carried in one of the above slots are called “slotless” items. Sometimes these items take the form of trinkets, like figurines of wondrous power. Other times they are larger items, such as the carpet of flying. Typically the possession of such an item is enough to gain its benefit, but sometimes one must manipulate and activate the item.
Of course, a character may carry or possess as many items of the same type as he wishes. However, additional items beyond those in the slots listed above have no effect.
Some items can be worn or carried without taking up a slot on a character’s body. The description of an item indicates when an item has this property.
Magic Item Slots for Animals
The vast diversity among species of familiars and animal companions often makes it difficult to determine what kinds of magic items are suitable for certain creatures to wear. While wearable wondrous items typically resize themselves to fit a creature trying to wear them, the situation becomes a little more complicated if the creature simply lacks the requisite appendage or body part.
The following table presents all of the animal companions and familiars available to characters, divided into general categories that loosely define their body type as well as which magic item slots are available to them. Available slots followed by either “(saddle)” or “(horseshoes)” denote that creatures of that body type can only wear magic items in the appropriate slots as long as they are either saddles or horseshoes, respectively (for instance, a hoofed quadruped can wear a saddle of the sky-river, but not a belt of dwarvenkind).
Some creature body types are able to grasp and carry one object at a time in their paws, claws, or hands, including weapons, rods, wands, and staves, though they may not be able to use such items effectively (GM’s discretion) and take penalties for nonproficiency as usual. These are indicated by “Yes” in the “Grasp/Carry” column in the table below.
Specific animals may be able to wear different types of items as specified in their original monster entry.
If you are using animal companions or familiars from another source, you can use the information in this table as a guideline for those creatures. Additionally, GMs may use this table as a guide to determine what kinds of magical gear non-humanoid monsters can wear and use. Note that the rules in this section are merely suggestions, and ultimately it is up to the GM to decide what kinds of animals can use particular types of magic items.
Table: Magic Item Slots for Animals Body Type Available Slots Grasp/Carry Animal Companions Familiars Avian Armor, belt, chest (saddle), eyes, head, headband, neck, ring, wrist Yes Archaeopteryx, axe beak, bustard, dimorphodon, dinosaur (pteranodon), dire bat, eagle, giant owl, giant raven, giant vulture, hawk, moa, ornithomimosaur, owl, quetzalcoatlus, roc, trumpeter swan Archaeopteryx, arctic tern, bat, chicken, dodo, hawk, kakapo, osprey, owl, parrot, peafowl, penguin, ptarmigan, puffin, raven, rhamphorhynchus, snail kite, thrush, toucan Biped (claws/paws) Armor, belt, chest, eyes, head, headband, neck, ring, shoulders, wrist Yes Allosaurus, ceratosaurus, chalicotherium, deinonychus, giganotosaurus, iguanodon, kangaroo, pachycephalosaurus, parasaurolophus, spinosaurus, therizinosaurus, troodon, tyrannosaurus, velociraptor Compsognathus, wallaby Biped (hands) All item slots Yes Ape, baboon, chimpanzee, devil monkey, megaprimatus Monkey, tarsier Piscine Belt, chest (saddle), eyes No Anglerfish, armorfish, blue whale, dolphin, dunkleosteus, gar, seahorse, hammerhead shark, manta ray, narwhal, orca, plesiosaurus, shark, stingray, tylosaurus, walrus Lamprey, popoto dolphin, pufferfish, seal Quadruped (claws) Armor, belt (saddle), chest, eyes, head, headband, neck, shoulders, wrist No Badger, bear, capybara, cheetah, digmaul, dire polar bear, dire rat, dog, giant mole, giant porcupine, giant skunk, giant weasel, goblin dog, grizzly bear, hyena, leopard, lion, marsupial devil, marsupial lion, panda, polar bear, saber-toothed cat, thylacine, tiger, wolf, wolfdog, wolverine Arctic fox, arctic hare, armadillo, cat, donkey rat, ermine, flying fox, flying squirrel, fox, hedgehog, jerboa, koala, lemming, margay, meerkat, mole, mongoose, otter, platypus, raccoon, rat, red panda, sloth, skunk, squirrel, weasel Quadruped (hooves) Armor, belt (saddle), chest, eyes, feet (horseshoes), head, headband, neck, shoulders No
Antelope, aurochs, bison, boar, brontotherium, buffalo, cattle, elk, giraffe, horse, llama, megaloceros, moose, pony, ram, reindeer, stag, styracosaurus, yak, zebra
Goat, pig Quadruped (other) Armor, belt (saddle), chest, eyes, head, headband, neck, shoulders, wrist No Amargasaurus, ankylosaurus, arsinoitherium, baluchitherium, brachiosaurus, camel, deinotherium, diplodocus, elasmotherium, elephant, eohippus, hippopotamus, kentrosaurus, mammoth, mastodon, megatherium, mokele-mbembe, rhinoceros, stegosaurus, triceratops, uintatherium, wolliped – Quadruped (short legs) Armor, eyes, head, headband, neck, shoulders No Alligator, archelon, crocodile, dimetrodon, elasmosaurus, frog father, giant chameleon, giant frilled lizard, giant frog, giant gecko, giant salamander, giant snapping turtle, glyptodon, goliath frog, kaprosuchus, megalania, monitor lizard, prionosuchus, tortoise Dwarf caiman, fire salamander, horned lizard, lizard, marine iguana, snapping turtle, toad, tuatara, turtle Serpentine Belt, eyes, headband No Basilosaurus, constrictor snake, electric eel, giant leech, giant moray eel, giant slug, reef snake, spitting cobra, titanoboa Sea krait, viper Unusual (plant and vermin) Belt, eyes No Cameroceras, corpse-eater fungus, creeping puffball, eurypterid, giant ant, giant assassin bug, giant beetle, giant caterpillar, giant centipede, giant cockroach, giant crab, giant dragonfly, giant locust, giant mantis, giant mantis shrimp, giant mosquito, giant scorpion, giant solifugid, giant spider, giant squid, giant termite, giant wasp, giant whiptail centipede, gulper plant, hunting cactus, octopus, rash creeper, slithering sundew, snapping flytrap, sniper cactus, squid, web tyrant spider Blue-ringed octopus, butterfly, cockroach, creeper ivy, dweomer cap, flowering lattice, giant isopod, giant tardigrade, greensting scorpion, house centipede, ioun wyrd, king crab, leopard slug, moth, petrifern, ravenous tumbleweed, razor fern, sawleg locust, scarlet spider, shimmerwing dragonfly, spiny starfish, suture vine, trilobite, vampire squid
Saving Throws Against Magic Item Powers
Magic items produce spells or spell-like effects. For a saving throw against a spell or spell-like effect from a magic item, the DC is 10 + the level of the spell or effect + the ability modifier of the minimum ability score needed to cast that level of spell.
Staves are an exception to the rule. Treat the saving throw as if the wielder cast the spell, including caster level and all modifiers to save DCs.
Most item descriptions give saving throw DCs for various effects, particularly when the effect has no exact spell equivalent (making its level otherwise difficult to determine quickly).
Damaging Magic Items
A magic item doesn’t need to make a saving throw unless it is unattended, it is specifically targeted by the effect, or its wielder rolls a natural 1 on his save. Magic items should always get a saving throw against spells that might deal damage to them—even against attacks from which a non-magical item would normally get no chance to save. Magic items use the same saving throw bonus for all saves, no matter what the type (Fortitude, Reflex, or Will). A magic item’s saving throw bonus equals 2 + 1/2 its caster level (rounded down). The only exceptions to this are intelligent magic items, which make Will saves based on their own Wisdom scores.
Magic items, unless otherwise noted, take damage as non-magical items of the same sort. A damaged magic item continues to function, but if it is destroyed, all its magical power is lost. Magic items that take damage in excess of half their total hit points, but not more than their total hit points, gain the Broken condition, and might not function properly (see the Appendix).
Repairing Magic Items
Repairing a magic item requires material components equal to half the cost to create the item, and requires half the time. The make whole spell can also repair a damaged (or even a destroyed) magic items—if the caster is high enough level.
Charges, Doses, and Multiple Uses
Many items, particularly wands and staves, are limited in power by the number of charges they hold. Normally, charged items have 50 charges at most (10 for staves). If such an item is found as a random part of a treasure, roll d% and divide by 2 to determine the number of charges left (round down, minimum 1). If the item has a maximum number of charges other than 50, roll randomly to determine how many charges are left.
Prices listed are always for fully charged items. (When an item is created, it is fully charged.) For an item that’s worthless when its charges run out (which is the case for almost all charged items), the value of the partially used item is proportional to the number of charges left. For an item that has usefulness in addition to its charges, only part of the item’s value is based on the number of charges left.
Recharging Charged Magic Items
The standard rules don’t allow item creation feats to recharge charged items such as wands. This is because wands are the most cost-effective form of expendable spellcasting in the game (the minimum price is 15 gp per charge, as compared to a minimum price of 25 gp per use for a scroll or 50 gp per use for a potion). Allowing wand recharging devalues scrolls and potions in the game, especially as using a wand does not provoke attacks of opportunity. A wand‘s lower price increment would also mean that partially recharging the wand is easily done with a short downtime period (10 charges per day for a 2nd-level wand, 4 per day for a 3rd-level wand, and 2 per day for a 4th-level wand), making the wand even more useful and cost-effective.
A GM who wants to allow wand recharging can require a minimum of 25 charges added to the item to help offset this advantage, as it forces you to spend a larger amount of gold at once instead of smaller amounts more frequently.
Purchasing Magic Items
Magic items are valuable, and most major cities have at least one or two purveyors of magic items, from a simple potion merchant to a weapon smith that specializes in magic swords. Of course, not every item in this book is available in every town.
The following guidelines are presented to help GMs determine what items are available in a given community. These guidelines assume a setting with an average level of magic. Some cities might deviate wildly from these baselines, subject to GM discretion. The GM should keep a list of what items are available from each merchant and should replenish the stocks on occasion to represent new acquisitions.
The number and types of magic items available in a community depend upon its size. Each community has a base value associated with it (see Table: Available Magic Items or Table: Available Magic Items. There is a 75% chance that any item of that value or lower can be found for sale with little effort in that community. In addition, the community has a number of other items for sale. These items are randomly determined and are broken down by category (minor, medium, or major). After determining the number of items available in each category, refer to Table: Random Magic Item Generation to determine the type of each item (potion, scroll, ring, weapon, etc.) before moving on to the individual charts to determine the exact item. Reroll any items that fall below the community’s base value.
If you are running a campaign with low magic, reduce the base value and the number of items in each community by half. Campaigns with little or no magic might not have magic items for sale at all. GMs running these sorts of campaigns should make some adjustments to the challenges faced by the characters due to their lack of magic gear.
Campaigns with an abundance of magic items might have communities with twice the listed base value and random items available. Alternatively, all communities might count as one size category larger for the purposes of what items are available. In a campaign with very common magic, all magic items might be available for purchase in a metropolis.
Nonmagical items and gear are generally available in a community of any size unless the item is particularly expensive, such as full plate, or made of an unusual material, such as an adamantine longsword. These items should follow the base value guidelines to determine their availability, subject to GM discretion.
Table: Available Magic Items** Community Size Base Value Minor Medium Major Thorp 50 gp 1d4 items — — Hamlet 200 gp 1d6 items — — Village 500 gp 2d4 items 1d4 items — Small town 1,000 gp 3d4 items 1d6 items — Large town 2,000 gp 3d4 items 2d4 items 1d4 items Small city 4,000 gp 4d4 items 3d4 items 1d6 items Large city 8,000 gp 4d4 items 3d4 items 2d4 items Metropolis 16,000 gp * 4d4 items 3d4 items * In a metropolis, nearly all minor magic items are available.** See also: Table: Available Magic Items per Settlements rules from the Gamemastery Guide.
Magic Item Descriptions
Each general type of magic item gets an overall description, followed by descriptions of specific items.
General descriptions include notes on activation, random generation, and other material. The AC, hardness, hit points, and break DC are given for typical examples of some magic items. The AC assumes that the item is unattended and includes a -5 penalty for the item’s effective Dexterity of 0. If a creature holds the item, use the creature’s Dexterity modifier in place of the -5 penalty.
Some individual items, notably those that just store spells, don’t get full-blown descriptions. Reference the spell’s description for details, modified by the form of the item (potion, scroll, wand, and so on). assume that the spell is cast at the minimum level required to cast it.
Items with full descriptions have their powers detailed, and each of the following topics is covered in notational form as part of its entry.
Making Ordinary Treasures Special
Some GMs may wish to use the following items not as direct hooks for their campaigns, but rather as inspiration for designing strange treasures that fit the adventures and interests of their campaigns’ player characters. A treasure needn’t be mechanically unique to have an interesting backstory or serve as the catalyst for an adventure. Standard items can be made unique without changing their mechanics by adding flavorful descriptions or backstories. Alternatively, making an item intelligent or cursed, combining two items into one, or adding an unusual power to an existing item are all perfectly good changes that can make items more memorable.
Consider the following suggestions for making the mundane exciting in your campaign.
Family Relic: Similar to providing a historical background for an item, creating a story that directly connects the item to one or more player characters in the game allows a GM to spin a fascinating story—possibly one that is directly connected to a story feat. For example, the tapestry that once hung over the throne of a PC’s grandfather’s castle may be the proof the group needs to recover to convince the land’s subjects of that character’s right to rule.
Haunted: A restless spirit haunts the item. This lingering spirit might be something that evokes sympathy from the PCs, such as a young child who died in a tragic way or a grandmother who was killed by her family so they could gain her fortune. Such spirits may be benevolent, allowing the characters to use the item without complication, but appearing upon the item’s use, reminding the party of the object’s brutal history and asking them to help grant the spirit peace. Alternatively, a nasty spirit could inhabit the item, in which case each use might require a battle of wills. In this case, the party might then seek the means to exorcise the spirit so that they could gain unfettered use of the item’s powers.
Historical Significance: An item doesn’t need to be magical to be valuable. A mundane sword wielded by a famous war hero or a suit of leather armor crafted by artisans of a long-lost civilization could provide adventure hooks involving the historical figures or cultures associated with the item. Historians and collectors alike would prize such items simply to study or own, and may send PCs on adventures to retrieve them. Bards in particular may be interested in tracking down such pieces, as the recovery could earn the lore masters prestige as procurers of museum-worthy items.
Intelligent: Give an item a spark of intelligence to make it more intriguing. Certainly the player characters are used to intelligent weapons, but what about an intelligent folding boat? Once an item is imbued with intelligence, its use can no longer be taken for granted, instead requiring a diplomatic encounter or battle of wills. Can the PCs convince the boat to unfold? If so, can they then persuade or cajole it to allow them aboard to make their journey? Using an intelligent item can prove problematic if the PCs don’t appease it in some way—and woe to the adventurer to whom it takes a disliking.
Named: When you name an item, many players automatically think of it as something special. Proper names pique interest, and you may find players asking to research the named item at various libraries and taking notes about the discovered references. Admittedly, a name may just be a trick to interest the party in a relatively simple ring of protection +2, but referring to it as the Ring of the High Priest Caliban certainly makes the item more intriguing in the story. Your players will think fondly on their efforts to recover the item—even if it’s no different from any other magical ring.
Adventure Prerequisite: Sometimes, finding an item is necessary before a larger adventure can commence. Though required, such an item may have no further importance beyond being necessary to achieve another goal. For example, suppose the PCs need to find the key to an otherwise impenetrable vault. The key, they learn, isn’t a traditional key, but rather a +1 longsword lost somewhere in a massive jungle. The search for the sword thus becomes part of a larger campaign.
Cosmetic Variation: Who says every rod of rulership, cape of the mountebank, or flying carpet has to look exactly the same? Where’s the fun in that? Sure, the item works the same as the other ones, but making a small variation, even if just a minor or superficial change, opens a tremendous host of possibilities for making treasure more wondrous.
Artisans take pride in their work, so infuse items with some of their creators’ personalities! For example, a quirky, insect-loving mage may have created a feather token whose “bird” looks like a fly, mosquito, or pesky flying termite— there’s no reason it has to specifically look like a bird.
Valuable Material: To make a fairly mundane item more prized, alter the materials used to craft it. For example, a rope of entanglement could be coveted because it’s made of spun gold, or was woven from the thick locks of a golden-haired azata or the mane of a unicorn, rather than from the usual hemp fibers.