A New Look at Infrequently Used Magic Items
In the previous series of these articles, we took a look at infrequently used, or little understood, spells and creative uses, and we give you reasons to include them on your character's spell list. In this series, we'll take the same logic and apply it to some of the magic items described in the Dungeon Master's Guide.
Like spells, there seems to be a list of magic items that are considered crucial to an adventuring party -- cloaks of resistance, rings of protection, and potions of cure light wounds, for example. Of course, with hundreds and hundreds of magic items to choose from, some magic items are going to get short shrift. But what should players and DMs do when the random treasure table turns up something unusual? Toss it and move on? Or maybe they can open up their minds and build a character (or adventure) around particularly interesting magic items.
Quaal's Feather Tokens
Quaal's feather tokens hit the bottom end of both the value for magic items and their frequency of use in game. However, when one of these pops up in a random treasure role, you may find it best to get out of the mindset that it's a wondrous item and mentally treat it like a potion -- you can use a Quaal's feather token once and then it's gone. Get in that mindset and you're more likely to take a risk in using one of these items rather than waiting for exactly the appropriate moment.
- Anchor -- Use a Quaal's feather token(anchor) to drop a seriously heavy weight on your opponent. Or . . .
- Swan Boat, Tree -- Even if you don't specifically need an anchor, swan boat, or tree, these tokens are fantastic for creating a great big, permanent obstacle.
- Whip -- Beyond its obvious uses as a weapon, nothing is stopping you from also employing it as a rope, just in case you don't have any handy. If we take the item's description of "huge leather whip" literally, then we can assume that it would have a length of at least 25 feet.
Quaal's Feather Tokens -- For the DM
Here are some ideas for using Quaal's feather tokens as adventure seeds:
- A sorcerer lives on a small island but doesn't own a boat. Instead, she makes, sells, and uses Quaal's feather tokens (swan boat) to get back and forth from the mainland.
- A druid society gives Quaal's feather tokens(tree) to its members. Planting the tree and using this with a combination of tree stride allows them to set up a vast "highway" stretching farther and farther into the world.
Dust of Dryness
Tossing the dust of dryness into a batch of water turns it into a small, transportable pellet. Soak up 100 gallons of water in this way and you have a portable source of drinking water, a way to put out a fire, or even a "weapon" that can flood a hallway or cause opponents to tumble down stairs.
Dust of Dryness -- For the DM
Here are some ways to use dust of dryness in your campaign.
- Because dust of dryness is cheap and easy to make, an enemy nation provides its agents dust of dryness in key strategic areas where water is scarce. Every day, these agents slowly use their dust of dryness to remove and destroy water in cisterns, fields, and nearly dry wells. Although slow, the effect is insidious, depriving the nation of fresh water for its citizens.
- The PCs are given dust of dryness as a way to steal sacred water from the main altar within a temple dedicated to an evil cult.
Bag of Tricks
This odd magic item allows the user to conjure up random types of animals, simply by pulling them out of the bag for which it is named. Although the fact that you're never quite sure what you're going to pull out does limit the usefulness of the bag, there's still a couple of things you can do to get the most of this item:
- Give the bag of tricks to your druid or ranger for maximum effect, since the summoned creature responds to Handle Animal checks.
- Because you can toss the ball up to 20 feet away, using the bag of tricks is a great way to get a nearly instant flanking bonus.
- If, for whatever reason you obtain two of these bags, the two creatures summoned can also flank for each other or set up a distraction. While the enemy focuses on the wolverine or lion from a rust or tan bag of tricks, pull out a smaller creature from the gray type and let it sneak about unnoticed.
- Gray bag of tricks -- This magic item produces the smallest and weakest of creatures. It's great for diversionary tactics, however, so perhaps pulling out one of these Tiny animals and placing it inside boxes, chests, and other containers for someone to discover by surprise could be useful. Also, there's nothing stopping you from casting animal growth or any number of other augmentations on these small creatures, including magic fang.
- Rust bag of tricks -- The creatures here are great to augment any existing animal companions you already have in your control. They are large and vicious enough to be a serious impediment and distraction to foes, especially if you toss one of the balls behind you as you flee.
- Tan bag of tricks -- These are the real monsters, and they're capable of dishing out some serious damage or acting as a living roadblock.
Bag of Tricks -- For the DM
Here are some ways to get the most out of a bag of tricks in your game:
- A rogue with several ranks in Handle Animal uses his gray bag of tricks to summon small creatures to weasel (no pun intended) into tight spaces, open up locks, and unlock window latches.
- A chaotic-aligned NPC loves handing out a "special gift" to barmaids or merchants -- one of the small balls of fur pulled out from a bag of tricks -- then slinks away to watch the chaos when the ball expands to reveal a bear, tiger, or vicious badger.
About the Author
Eric Cagle cut his teeth at Wizards of the Coast, but now lives the extravagant freelancer lifestyle. Look for his name on D&D, d20 Modern, and Star Wars books. Recent credits include d20 Apocalypse, Monster Manual IV, and the Tome of Corruption from Green Ronin Publishing. He is also a contributor to the Game Mechanics, Dragon Magazine, and this lovely website. Eric lives in Seattle where the coffee is dark and bitter like his goddesses.