D&D Next Magic Items Overview

By The Indie Dragon

d&d next magic items

Bet you’re sick of the sight of these already…
Artwork © by Neil Nelson

It seems like I’ve done nothing but write about magic items recently, but think of this particular entry as a continuation of the article last Sunday, this time focusing on what has been included in the latest D&D Next playtest.

One of the exciting things about most editions of Dungeons and Dragons is the possibility of discovering an item of power that is far beyond any tool forged by man.

Each edition of D&D has handled magic items differently, from the ‘wealth per level’ of Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 to the wishlists and treasure parcels of 4e.

The message this time round regarding magic items is hand them out when (and if!) you want to, preferably after significant encounters (i.e. story driven encounters or campaign, arc or adventure ending encounters). Player characters no longer need or are entitled to receive magic items, meaning you can forgo them completely if you wish.

Magic Items in Your Campaign World

Acquiring and offloading magic items is, by default, more difficult since no market exists for them. The rarer the item, the less chance you have of finding a buyer or seller.

There are seven levels of rarity, with the rarest magic items being the most valuable and the most likely to be in the hands of established or legendary adventurers.

The appearance varies from one magic item to the next and these aesthetic qualities are determined from a table, randomly or otherwise. An item may also be enchanted with minor abilities that provide additional functionality beyond what it is capable of.

Each item may also contain ‘secrets’ which are extra item enchantments, beneficial or otherwise. These secrets are revealed only when certain conditions are met. For example, you must be a member of the elven race.

The rules are more relaxed regarding how many of the same type of item you can wear as long as it is logically possible. For example, you can wear two amulets, but you can’t wear two pairs of boots.

One With Your Sword

The powers of a magic item can be revealed by magic, experimentation or knowledge you already have access to. If an item has a mind of it’s own, it could impart knowledge of what it is capable of to a potential owner.

One other quality of an item that can be revealed by magic is whether or not you can bond with it. The process of bonding (or ‘attunement’) involves spending 10 minutes with an item, practicing with it or meditating over it. Once this process is complete, you unlock the item’s full potential.

This bond remains as long as the item is still in your possession, you are alive and you currently meet the requirements for attunement. This bond can be severed voluntarily by spending another 10 minutes with the item.

Final Thoughts

The concept of attunement makes me think of Weapons of Legacy, though without the heavy penalties, gold expenditure and side quests associated with one of the items in that book. Whether or not it’s a good thing, I can see how convenient it is to simply bond with and un-bond from a magic item, just by concentrating for 10 minutes. If you carry several items that require attunement, it becomes a bit too easy to swap out one bonded item for another.

However, that isn’t to say you couldn’t come up with more stringent requirements on your own. As I said, Weapons of Legacy required the prospective wielder to undertake a quest and spend material resources in order to unlock it’s powers. Having a mechanic like this in place would make the decision to bond with a weapon a little more meaningful. I think once I become more familiar with the rules, I might try and come up with something along those lines.

The playtest booklet presents you with a list of magic items you can use in your campaign. Most of the items will be familiar to players of most editions of D&D. However, it does not appear to include a list of magic weapon or armour properties you can use to design your own weapons.

This means you either use what is made available in D&D Next or come up with something cool on your own. Personally, I think some guidelines would have been helpful for those who want to design their own items and help a DM keep the power level of an item within reasonable limits.

The maximum enhancement bonus for weapons and armour is capped at +3 which doesn’t seem a lot compared to previous editions, but with the bounded accuracy concept, it’ll likely end up being pretty significant.

So there you have it. Let me know what excites you most regarding magic items in the comment box below.


  1. Max 87 March 5, 2014 7:44 pm  Reply

    I’ve always been a fan of the Holy Avenger. I’d be interested in seeing what it’s like in D&D Next.

  2. christine March 6, 2014 2:26 am  Reply

    I would like to have more emphasis on consumable magic items, maybe potions and wands that mimic the powers of permanent magic items. For example, a wand could morph into any kind of magic weapon you can name. Somehow, I’ve always had satisfaction from using up magic items, especially when you use the right consumable item at the right time.

    • Ken Wai Lau March 18, 2014 12:43 pm  Reply

      A wand that turns into a magic weapon – great idea!

      I’m definitely stealing this.

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