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Awarding Magic Items in D&D – What’s the Best Way to Do It?

February 12, 2020


Wha ñ whatís going on guys? Weíre sick and tired of this bullcrap thatís
what! Yeah, Mr. Dungeon Master, ìSIRî, youíre
giving us the shaft on magic items. Indeed, the rate of magic item distribution
is well below the standard deviation curve used by OTHER dungeon masters. But, uh, you guys all have buckets of magic
items back at your base that you never even use. Thatís because youíre screwing us over! Yeah, you just need to keep giving us more
magic items. Just ñ just keep them flowing. Welcome to the DM Lair. Iím Luke Hart, and Iíve been a dungeon master
since high school. On this channel I give practical dungeon master
advice that you can implement at your table. Today in the Lair, weíre going to be discussing
magic items. Specifically, Iím going to talk about the
pros and cons of giving out too many magic items to your D&D players and of giving out
too few. Then Iíll touch on what I think is the right
balance of magic items to give your players. Finally, Iíll go over a few different ways
you can go about giving magic items out. But first I want to thank my awesome patrons
and members for helping choose the topic for this video. In particular, mad props to t. You all rock. If youíd like to help support the channel
and the content we create around here ñ and get some cool added perks like monthly hangouts
ñ you can do so by clicking the JOIN button next to the subscribe button, or by visiting
my Patreon page linked in the description. Okay, back to magic items. Do you know whatís one of the most common
problems I hear dungeon masters complaining about? It basically has to do with the DM having
given out too many magic items to their players, who are then way overpowered, and now the
dungeon master doesnít know what to do. Believe me, this problem has come up time
and time again, and it really has a simple solution: donít give magic items out like
theyíre candy! You know? Now, I get, I get it, believe me. You finally convinced your friends to play
D&D with you, and youíre super excited. You see all these cool magic items in the
DMG, and itís hard to pick which ones to give out. And you also want your players to have fun,
so you think ìGee, Iíll just give them lots of magic items. That will make the game more fun!î
Gee, Iíll just give them lots of magic items. That will make the game more fun! And you might also be thinking, ìThe last
time I ran a D&D game, it only lasted for a few months, so I had better get some magic
items into play fast. Otherwise, weíll never get to use them.î
The last time I ran a D&D game, it only lasted for a few months, so I had better get some
magic items into play fast. Otherwise, weíll never get to use them. Okay, so there might be some validity there,
but Iím not sure that planning for your groups to fail is the right state of mind for dungeon
masters to have. I would much rather you get better at keeping
your groups together and the game running for years at a stretch. In fact, Iím thinking about doing a video
about the top reasons D&D groups fall apart and how DMs can stop that. Let me know if that sounds useful. Because the thing is that when you give out
too many magic items too fast in the game, a few things happen. First, your players become more powerful,
forcing you to ratchet everything up. Now thatís not a big deal if you do homebrew
and are good at increasing the challenge rating of encounters, something 5e doesnít make
easy due to the bonked challenge rating mechanics. However, if youíre running a module, do you
REALLY want to have to adjust all of the encounter sin the entire book? I donít know about you, but the last time
I checked, I by modules to make my job as a DM EASIER, not harder. The other thing with giving out too many magic
items is that ñ yes they are cool at first ñ but eventually they cease to feel special. I mean, Mr. Dungeon Master, how many magical
axes do you think I need? Am I really that bad at this game? Okay, so what about giving out too few magic
items? There are a couple problems with that, too. First of all, youíd be neglecting a really
cool part of the game. Magic items are an integral part of Dungeons
& Dragons. Things like the Deck of Many Things and Bags
of Holding and Vorpal Swords and Rods That Have Many Parts are classic traditions in
the game. Thereís part of me that feels like a game
that doesnít feature magic items just isnít really D&D anymore. Now running a low-magic campaign is a thing,
but once you start taking out magic items and spellcasting ñ well, at that point what
really distinguishes the game from any other medieval roleplaying game without magic and
magic items? My point here is NOT to say ìIf you donít
use enough magic items, youíre not playing D&D.î Iím just saying that magic items are
a really cool part of the game, and if you donít use them very much, you might be missing
out. Next, getting magic items is an exciting thing
for players. I had a player once who LIVED for magic items. I mean, thatís all this guy really wanted. He was always trying to buy magic items in
the game, hunt them down, make bargains with evil liches for them ñ anything he could
possibly do to get his hand on magic items. Now, this also had to do with the fact that
he was a power gamerÖ But the point remains that most players like
magic items. So when you give them out, you are making
the game more enjoyable for your players. Finally, Iím no game designer, but Iíd be
willing to bet a tacklebox full of miniatures that the folks who made D&D accounted for
players having magic items in game design. That is, challenge ratings and the difficulty
of encounters in published modules assume that as players level up, they will have magic
items to help them out. And if they donít have that bit of increased
power that comes from magic items,>>slitting throat sound

100 Comments

  • Reply the DM Lair February 11, 2020 at 10:30 am

    How do you reward magic items in D&D?

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  • Reply jonathan lavy February 11, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    I dont really give out magic items that much. Most of the time the item is related to the story.

  • Reply Henning February 11, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    Hi everyone, I'm new here. Awesome Video with some great advice, just like the few others I saw before this one

    One thing I try to do when I GM is to hand out magic items that don't only help improve what a character is good at already but also fill some gaps in their skillset in an interesting way. Say the ranger has an item that helps him if he gets into a conversation that goes south by allowing him to "hear what the other characters think" aka allowing him to discuss what to say with the group for a minute or something.

    Also, something I and my group had a lot of fun with was everyone getting an item handcrafted for their character, in a quest centered around said character. That was some work on my part as the GM but absolutely worth it

    edit: spelling because one key got stuck

  • Reply Tyler Dolezal February 11, 2020 at 1:06 pm

    Did I miss the sarcasm or something? Xanathar's definitely has tables of magic items organized by rarity & minor/major

  • Reply Timothy Laliberte February 11, 2020 at 1:11 pm

    Your advice has really been helpful for me. Has made my campaign run better for me and my players. I end up creating many custom magic items for players. Kinda of hard to balance those though. But I also role on tables for loot before the encounter starts. Because If i role a magic item a npc can use why would they just keep it in a backpack. They would use it in my opinion.

  • Reply Aleister Night February 11, 2020 at 1:22 pm

    Until now I've always created my own magic items based on the characters, and they have conquered them as part of their individual story and of the story as a whole.

  • Reply Muhammad Hashir February 11, 2020 at 1:25 pm

    Why do I think I have seen this before. Has there been a video on this before becuz i feel this has been covered

  • Reply Drake Ford February 11, 2020 at 1:29 pm

    An extra Point: Don't put an item in front of the players unless your prepared for them to get it.

    While we were perusing a black market magic shop, our DM put a magic weapon that was at least Very Rare in quality (a one-handed weapon with +3 to hit and effectively +6 to damage) up for display.

    He expected this to be a neat little motivator that one of us could work towards over the next few levels. He was not expecting us to recognize the value the weapon would have in the hands of our resident Blood Hunter (who was, at the time, both our tank and our heaviest hitter), and to unanimously bankrupt both the party fund and each of our personal funds, sell off a lot of loot and non-vital equipment, and go marginally into debt with the city's Thieves' Guild in order to buy it.

    In fairness, that thing went on to outright save our rears at least twice, and we were able to work out a favor to pay back the Guild, which led to an adventure itself.

    We eventually lost the thing in a near-TPK (we made some poor decisions in the presence of some Gith, and only my character made it out alive) several levels later, but we felt the investment had been worthwhile.

  • Reply Xavier Cxdfc February 11, 2020 at 1:40 pm

    8:35 well that depends, if you have an all martial class party they can do 0 damage to creatures that are immune to “NMBPS” many of which can not be defeated with Roleplay. The design seems to hinge on every party having at least a little magic

  • Reply Kyle Hamilton February 11, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    I honestly find joy in making a LOT of magic items. So I know what it's like for the players to have a good chunk of them. It does make balance a tad more challenging, but it ends up being fun in the long run. At least for me and my group

  • Reply Jacinto February 11, 2020 at 1:47 pm

    awesome content as usual!

  • Reply supersmily 5 February 11, 2020 at 1:56 pm

    Actually, the rules only state that CR accounts for the average level of a balanced 4 player party. Any permutations on that, such as an unbalanced party or magic items, should require alterations to fit CR standards. Unfortunately, CR isn't well balanced anyway, as some "low level" threats can defeat high level parties and some "high level" threats can be beaten by low level parties (though it's not as easy).

  • Reply Stephen Joyce February 11, 2020 at 2:15 pm

    Thanks for this video my dude this has been extremely useful

  • Reply DORIAN Robinette February 11, 2020 at 2:15 pm

    Another week another good video. 🙂

    Also I want nothing but magic items. When I one day get to be a dragon I can toss them in my horde and sleep on them.

  • Reply Magnus Mansfield February 11, 2020 at 2:23 pm

    I had given my players too many magic items so i made an isane 3 eyed beholder that charged magic items to use his portal. It worked, and the beholder is happy

  • Reply John Faugno February 11, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    I use the random tables, but with one caveat – I try to make sure every character has an item that's specifically useful for them every tier of play. By the time the group is hitting 6th-8th level, every character will have one item that they will use regularly and were hand-picked by me. For example, if I roll a +1 weapon on the table, I make sure it's a weapon someone in the party would make good use of, rather than sitting tucked in the fighter's belt as a backup. I also try to make magical weapons a little bit special instead of just saying they're +1. For example – my party fought an undead jailer in a ruined prison, and recovered his sword. I named it "Willbreaker," and it is a +1 Longsword, but on a critical hit, the target must make a Wisdom save or be Frightened until the end of their next turn. It's a relatively small enhancement to the item, but it means a lot to the character who uses it.

  • Reply Fizzle Dimglow February 11, 2020 at 2:30 pm

    A magic item should be a utility piece that meaningfully affects the player's ability rotation, with their own weaknesses and strengths. You could go an entire game with 3 magical items, like a sunsword, amulet of ravenkind, and maybe a spear of a mountain king. It's just that these magical items really change the world and the story and have genuine weight!

    I give magic items based on utility and in lore reasons mostly. I design the story so that they encounter someone who likely has an object, say like a chime of knocking held by a bandit, and giving that charm to our monk who has been trying to get into inflitration because we somehow don't have a rogue.

  • Reply darrell adams February 11, 2020 at 2:38 pm

    lol they waited 7 years to say that because thats how long it took them to realize 80% of the magic items/properties are either crap or too niche for example why cant i have a flaming maul? oh because the flame property is only for swords, yeah that makes sense

  • Reply Jacob Van Veit February 11, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    People love magic items, it’s like candy! I recommend collecting as many mundane magical items you can possibly find (pinterest has a great source) and hand those out. Not only are they magical, so it checks that off, it also makes players think of scenarios to use those mundane items.

    An example of a mundane magical item is: A small box 📦 made of cherry wood that grows a gem candy 🍬 every week once plucked from the box. The gem 💎 candy can be used to hold an arcane cantrip until eaten.

  • Reply noveler00 February 11, 2020 at 2:59 pm

    The have tables list major and minor magic items in Xanathar's starting on pg 140

  • Reply RedShadow February 11, 2020 at 3:12 pm

    for a split second, I thought because the barbarian sounded like he was whining the party just had enough of his bullshit and started pulling their weapons to end him lol

  • Reply BigDreck February 11, 2020 at 3:24 pm

    I give my players excessive magic items, but virtually no gold or money. If they want income, they need to sell their magic items. It's worked MAGICALLY for them. They constantly are trading in items so everything always stays fresh and exciting for them. They keep their favorites, but get exposed to many others reguardless of if the items are useful to them or not.

  • Reply CrashTestRocket N February 11, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    I like to give out magic items with a small amount of niche use's.

    Ie: slime in a jar that can slowly digest anything you put in it for disposing of evidence or using it as an improvised weapon.

    Cloak that acts as a miny biome for a single person that can be slept in or used to ovid harmful weather effects but the player still takes damage when the clock is hit.

  • Reply Xanhorn February 11, 2020 at 3:27 pm

    I ran a game without feats and then gave them the option of instead of an ability score jump at 4 and 8, they instead could increase their attunement slots from 3 to 4. I gave a magic item nearly every session until they had too many options and not enough attunements. That happened around level 6.

  • Reply Mitchell Tyner February 11, 2020 at 3:29 pm

    One thing that stands out to me is that you said that "they assume your players have magical items in the CR system". I remember seeing an interview with the game designers (name escapes me at the moment) but they do the sage advise bit. Anyway, in the interview they admitted that the CR system was designed around characters with NO magical items and NO feats. He said that feats that add damage like Great Weapon master etc, and ways to bypass a monsters "damage resistance" via magical items made encounters a lot lower than the CR listed. He admitted that the only way to make a CR system with any balance was to take those factors out since you couldn't balance it with magical items and he pointed to the power swings in 3.5 as example. Pretty awesome interview btw.

  • Reply CthulhuFhtagn February 11, 2020 at 3:32 pm

    Oo! Where can I find that standard deviation curve the wizard mentioned? I only give my players magic items when I remember to…

  • Reply Sasha MacRitchie February 11, 2020 at 3:42 pm

    I let my players know that the more magic items they have, the harder their encounters become.
    How I do this behind the screen is I treat every magic item as a half level and every magic weapon or armor as a full level. So, a 5th level fighter with a vorpal sword is as capable as a 6th level fighter with a regular longsword. Seems to work out well enough 🤷🏻‍♀️

  • Reply Mitchell Tyner February 11, 2020 at 3:43 pm

    hahaha I liked the jab at them for that 2nd level healing spell that's more power than all the others. I started bringing it on my druid and it almost broke the DM's world where a short rest only lets you heal your con mod and a long rest lets you use your hit dice to heal and it takes a week off for a long rest lol. However spells renewed every day via what he said and that spell single handedly messed up that game style.

  • Reply NewQLar February 11, 2020 at 3:48 pm

    I’d love to hear you thoughts as to why D&D groups fall apart. Mine been going sting for a while now and … oh wait … I’ve just received a text from a player … DAMNIT!!!

  • Reply mr. ma'at February 11, 2020 at 4:01 pm

    You can send that box of minis to my PO Box. pM me for the address.

  • Reply ata berk dedemen February 11, 2020 at 4:02 pm

    As for healing spirit; a character (for example wizard) with full health but all of his features spent is very far away from his full power. Fulling HP doesn’t bring a character to full power, also it is achievable with a short rest.

  • Reply Karpmageddon February 11, 2020 at 4:11 pm

    I thought it was common knowledge that monster CRs are based off of going against parties without magic items. Therefore 5e wasn't built around parties with them. So why the shock?

    As for how I give out items, I do it based off a few factors. Need and want are big, like if the party is going against lycanthropes soon then I might slip in a silvered or magic weapon prior. Or if a player really would like x item and it's not too game breaking then a quest or challenge will present itself to reward them what they desire.

    Besides that, I like my treasure to make sense. So a dragon hoard won't be randomly rolled for the most part as I'll hand pick what is in it to match the taste of the dragon as well as the kind of stuff that might be found in the surrounding region that built it. Of course I'll do my best to also fill it with stuff the party could use.

    Another thing that shouldn't be overlooked are consumables. Because one way of getting around your players having too many magic items but still satiate their needs is to give them stuff that simply doesn't last. So they can find an item that does a spell three times before crumbling to dust or a weapon that for an hour each day becomes wreathed in flame to do additional fire damage.

  • Reply Ripcord303 February 11, 2020 at 4:20 pm

    Great video! These are great ideas for homebrew games. DMs should follow your previous video adding legendary actions or abilities to raise their threat if the players have too much gear. If you are going to go magic free remove the damage immunity to nonmagic weapons monsters have. A lot of people have fallen into the trap of giving too much. Giving PC levels and powerful magic to enemies will increase the the CR but listen to Luke and try to get there to begin with. I think as far as amount of magic items I do like the format AL uses. Limiting you to 1 magic item of uncommon rarity until level 5. 3 UNC or Rares from 5-10, 6 magic items up to very rare from 11-16, and 10 magic items at epic tier 17-20 up to Legendaries. Even this is imperfect power creep is a thing when you are dealing with smart players who will optimize as well as have these items.

  • Reply 15098D February 11, 2020 at 4:21 pm

    Barbadian: AAAAAAARNNN!
    Wizard: heavy smoking

  • Reply [Myst]iC February 11, 2020 at 4:26 pm

    I have an addiction to homebrewing magic items for my party lol. I think ive given them too many, but since ive also been a real prick with combat they dont seem too op, just have more variety in what they can. Also, very homebrew heavy campaign focused on story and fun, so its not really been a problem so far!

  • Reply Overclocked 2020 February 11, 2020 at 4:56 pm

    “Most players like magic items”
    And that’s how my players became evil

  • Reply EvilGoodGuy 246 February 11, 2020 at 4:59 pm

    Zombies!! With WEAPONS?!?!? 😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱

  • Reply the Charmer February 11, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    One dm I played with is way to generous with magic items. I’m level five and I have a +2 shield and a +2 half plate armor

  • Reply Caleb Kessler February 11, 2020 at 5:14 pm

    I'll happily take that tackle box off your hands.
    Oh, and maybe the miniatures would be nice as well.

  • Reply PetronPendrake February 11, 2020 at 5:16 pm

    My group doesn't use magic items…. Don't get me wrong, I give them magic items, but they don't use them. I normally give out about 50-75% random stuff and let them figure out who gets it, and then add in custom stuff on bosses that I have people in mind for. Some of the random stuff: Bag of Tricks that I house ruled the Druids in the party can tell what animal hey are touching before they pull it out (still 3 random animals per day, not pick which one they want). Never used. Alchemy Jug. Not used. Deck of illusion. Not used. Each person has at least 2-3 healing potions… never used. Our Rogue sniper has 3 +1 arrows… Our cleric has a Cube of Force. Fighter has a folding boat (and we have a BIG lake area). I even added a magic items in the stores with Gloves of thieving, cloak of elven kind… This is all over a year of game play and nobody uses any of it… That is my frustration.

  • Reply Beard Bear February 11, 2020 at 5:19 pm

    So before I start I didn't take this from CR Matt I was doing this before CR was a thing. I make a custom magic item for each player after session 0 that grows with them. This seems to satiate the lust for magic items for the rest of the campaign its random tables I make or get off of the dm's guild or dmg.

  • Reply SquatBenchDeadlift February 11, 2020 at 5:20 pm

    Great video! My only issue with it is that I'd like to mention that increasing the difficulty on modules is pretty standard in my opinion. They never seem to be set with an expectation of players building strong characters. In my game, I've found that players innately want a reward at the end of their fights, and having there be loot and/or magic items at the end of every fight quickly racks up (and they can be lazy about tracking who's taking what item) and gets out of hand. I've moved from milestones back to XP and it's served me well by giving me something to 'give' to my players after each fight. It's come to be overall more satisfactory.

  • Reply Sven Helgrim February 11, 2020 at 5:25 pm

    Most times I hand-pick a magic item based on how well it goes with a particular player character. I also sprinkle one-use, or limited-use items throughout my treasure hoards and bad guy’s inventories. If they kill the baddie quickly enough…before he can quaff that potion, it’s theirs. If not, then they have to contend with an invisible, hastened, bandit captain, with the strength if a Hill Giant.

    The best magic items, in my opinion, have drawbacks. One player in my game found a Spear of Cursed Back-biting and he loves it. A +2 weapon that does double damage when thrown is quite a boon, but if he rolls a one, he takes damage from the spear. DMG p.142 has lists of magical Item quirks that you can use to make a PC’s life interesting. I use those tables as a springboard for inventing my own quirks that I attach to items. One sword in my campaign is a Flame Tongue named Brimstone, that carries the scent of rotten eggs.

  • Reply Ken Sloan February 11, 2020 at 5:25 pm

    https://youtu.be/Uu-761waDC0?t=635 They did???????

  • Reply Tyler Emery February 11, 2020 at 5:29 pm

    In my recently-ended campaign we originally started with only two players, so I gave them lots of magic items and other benefits to compensate. Over time we gained two more players, and by the time everyone was together the party was super overpowered and broken. I still managed to challenge them (and ended up a few of the best sessions I've ever run in the process), but it wasn't a simple task.

    In our next campaign, we'll have four players right from the start, so balancing around new additions to the party won't be necessary. We're running Descent into Avernus, and I don't plan on giving them many magic items besides what the module already has. The reason for this is because we're using the Ancestral Weapons supplement from DMs Guild, and each player will be starting out with a magic weapon that scales with them over the course of the campaign.

  • Reply Natchai Leenders February 11, 2020 at 5:37 pm

    Partially rolled, partially to test new spells/abilities. Others are tailored to players.

    My high magic campaign allows players to trade/buy/sell magic items in certain cities. The wizard can enchant/disechant existing items at the arcane organization. My platers will get custom potions/items from 3.5/PF/4e to not only keep my experienced players surprised but also to reinforce the fact that the world was once overloaded with magic.

    I used to hand out too many magic item since we started from PF.
    This pitfall of handing out too many magic items can be handled creatively besides just giving them back.

    – They can be fuel for an arcane shield to protect the town from let's say, an ancient dragon.
    – An elite Efreeti can ask for 'mortals' work of worth' in exchange for safety in the Elemental Plane of Fire.
    – A given item belongs to a (monk) temple and a disciple asks if they can return it in exchange for training or allies.

    I use the overload of magic as a disruptive force in the leylines (and to propel my lvl 11 players into high level play). Consequences are the appearence of random gates, overflowing of planes and more chance to resurrect an old chaos god, defeated ages ago…

  • Reply Scot Holladay February 11, 2020 at 5:38 pm

    I am really stingy on magic items, not sure what to offer. Made a mistake and now my wizard has a shield guardian. No magic items needed for him for a long time. Haha

  • Reply MrTehPuppy February 11, 2020 at 5:39 pm

    I use a combination of methods. I use the loot tables as the main method, I use the handy table from XGE to ensure the players are on the right track, and since I usually start my games off with the PCs at level 3, I let them PICK 2 common and one uncommon at character creation. I've noticed that my party tends to go an extra few steps to incorporate their freebie magic items into their characters personalities and backstories which is pretty fun.

  • Reply Ed Robinson February 11, 2020 at 5:46 pm

    On pages 140-145, Xanathar's Guide has a comprehensive list that classifies all of the magic items from Xanathar's and the DMG as major and minor.

  • Reply Thomas Sager February 11, 2020 at 5:59 pm

    Honestly. I like playing campaigns where magic doesn't exist so none of this really applies to me. Great video though

  • Reply Tim Heller February 11, 2020 at 6:19 pm

    I found giving my players a magical weapon that slowly gets stronger as they level up works well. Yes it's a little more work for me to keep them balanced but worth the trouble

  • Reply Immort4lFr0sty February 11, 2020 at 6:35 pm

    I want to make a point for low magic worlds and the (I admit, rather extreme) scarcity of magic items I tend to give out.
    I'm a worldbuilder by heart and I have only ever played 2 short adventures that I haven't designed myself. On top of that I come from a rule system, that makes spontaneous magic that much harder; casters really have to be prepared, which also plays into their higher intellect.
    Last but certainly not least I really dislike pure stat increases. Sure, high stats can feel nice at times but it bothers me if the fight comes down to "I attack" – roll – "Hit/Miss" – next turn.

    In the end my magic items are unique in the way the function and give the characters more options. I might grant a vine, that imbeds itself into the rogues forearm and becomes a whip on command. He is now always armed without being noticable and the whip – while it is a rather weak weapon itself – has reach and finesse, therefore allows sneak attacks at 10ft. Another thing might be a wall in a can, kinda like the Robe of useful items' instant door, or a potions that liquifies bones to make it possible to squeeze through narrow gaps and almost impossible to be grabbed.

    Players will remember to use these things really quickly (because they have to :P) and when they manage to outsmart me due to a creative use of these options, that's a win in my book

    On another note I also wanna add that I relate to the magic item collector on a spiritual level and would love people like that in my games a bit more

  • Reply Twilight Gardens presentations February 11, 2020 at 6:47 pm

    Just keep em flowin… or else.

  • Reply oclafed February 11, 2020 at 6:53 pm

    I swear you have been spying on me! I was discussing this recently with a friend.

    I also created a excel doc that lists all the magic items from the DMG tables, with major or minor against them for me to use but can share if needed.

  • Reply SilverFoxR February 11, 2020 at 6:53 pm

    Another thing that might help things is another supplementary book I was made aware of not too long ago… the Armorer's Handbook. It adds a lot of new geat mechanics to armour and weapons to give them additional benefits without actually making them magical. This helps with making weapons and armour the party finds a little nicer and gives them something to aim for or find without it being a powerful magic item. The book introduces weapon and armour "tags" that give small modifiers and reworks existing material bonuses. For example, a "silvered" weapon now has the ability to bypass resistances as if it was a magical weapon… but isn't actually considered magical. For armour, the "padded" tag can be applied to a set of armour to allow it to be used in cold climates, doubling as cold weather gear. The book seems very interesting and might be a good alternative to giving the PCs something new and valuable for their campaigns without blowing up their power too much.

    Might be worth looking into for the useful ideas it can come up with… also, because it can give the party a goal to save up for… since many tags CAN be put on weapons and armour (often only one or two maximum) from a craftsman of an appropriate level with an investment of time and gold.

  • Reply Brian deBoer February 11, 2020 at 7:21 pm

    I have some ancient artifacts which need to be collected to finish the campaign. But thought the campaign I've introduced npcs that have offered up items in exchange for services. Also I've give. Out some hokey magic items like the singing sword (from who framed Roger Rabbit.). You pull it out and it sings Sinatra and dances around in your hand.

  • Reply Mr. McStabin February 11, 2020 at 7:56 pm

    My party harasses me for cool magic items to the point where i make the item, give it to a boss, and tell them if they can kill the boss they get the cool thingy

  • Reply WaitWhat February 11, 2020 at 7:59 pm

    I work a bit weirdly with magic items. One of the systems I use is similar to yours, have them pick them up from baddies after they defeat them. However recently I've mostly handed out 'magic items' relevant to heilrooms/artifacts (not the rarity type, just in terms of what they are) relevant to the players. An example can be our Warlock of the Raven Queen, I handed her out (quite literally) a Mark of the Raven Queen that looks like a tattoo on her palm. Another one could be the bracers of our sorcerer, 'Rain & Storm' which were given to him by the deity that saved him and contain the power she absorbed on his account. I generally go for narrative, while handing out some randoms sometimes, I rolled on the tables for a Dragon's Hoard lately as I thought that finding a themed or tailored item was out of narrative in this case.

  • Reply Brennan Haley February 11, 2020 at 8:00 pm

    The list that you wanted of major vs minor items is on Xanathar's page 140

  • Reply pcgammerm February 11, 2020 at 8:16 pm

    I used to be super stingy, it didn't go well. I played with a DM that went ham with them including the ability to combine magic items to make more powerful ones….that spiraled out of control fast.

    The game I'm running now is a relatively low magic world due to cataclysmic destruction caused by magic (used dark sun as inspiration, only taking place a couple hundred years after) . The world is on a rebound trying to heal itself so magic is in a resurgence. I'm using a mix of DMG items and home brew items and plan to have some scale (one for each player). This way they will get a slow trickle of magic items, but I'll have the freedom to scale up one or two items in situations that they could really use it… you know when I screw up and send too much at them. As it is they have magic items they don't even know about lol.

  • Reply Nicholas Louie February 11, 2020 at 8:39 pm

    So who gets the minis?

  • Reply Dabi Plays February 11, 2020 at 8:51 pm

    sigh
    My group looks like it is going to break up, really sucks

  • Reply Noah Beach February 11, 2020 at 9:03 pm

    what i do is give them a whole bunch of useless magic items and some goods ones. like the cloak of billowing…. it never stops billowing.

  • Reply Chris Zimmer February 11, 2020 at 9:07 pm

    Don't ask players to give magic items back, have them be the target of a heist instead. My rogue just got a magic item called Mad-Eye's Amulet (it's a prosthetic eye that allows him to see invisible creatures twice per long rest and gives him advantage on perception checks) and it is obviously magical (think Mad-Eye Moody). Anyway, he goes to the local thieves guild and there on the 'for hire' board is someone looking to steal Mad-Eye's Amulet…his Mad-Eye's Amulet. You should have seen my player's face when he saw that job board.

  • Reply Noone There February 11, 2020 at 9:10 pm

    I for one often hide minor or more common (which means just a plain +1 weapon or sth, nothing special) magic items throughout the dungeons and the world and then have more specialised homebrew magic items as boss fight reward ot something of that difficultywise. I also include players' wishes for custom magic items if the idea itself is not broken strong. It makes for a much more personalised character build if you get your very special own magic item. Mostly I also relish in hidden effects of magic items (negative and positive) so that my players have some drive to experiment with their items and find new ways to use them as well as playing with the idea of strong effects with certain drawbacks (like sacrifice HP for a special attack or something).

  • Reply Jason McMackins February 11, 2020 at 9:29 pm

    I like all the ways you detailed. To list mine, they would go as follows. The rarity of items is already in place, but what’s even more rare is finding the one you need. If players want specific items then they must quest for them. Ask around, seek knowledges, and then go after them. Usually this is prefaced with coming across a challenge they currently have no way to face. “But if we had THIS we could.”

    Also, for the random items found in generic treasure hoards they must make since. For example, if you discovered a small hoard of treasure inside a cave you just cleared of three giants, you wouldn’t find an OMG EPIC LOOTZ in there. The reason being, if who ever the giants murdered to get those Epic Lootz from had Epic Lootz, then most likely those giants would have been long since dead already… Like wise, highly unlikely there’s gonna be a wealth of healing consumables in there as well. For one, who once again had those items would of most likely used them trying to fend off said giants or the giants would have used the items themselves.

    Items should be available, but make since. I mean if your playing a murder hobo romp then go nuts, but it’s an RPG. I take those first two letters seriously and enjoy most of all watching the story unfold.

  • Reply Brandon Cook February 11, 2020 at 10:05 pm

    I have a crafting system in place for my players. They have to research, hone their crafts during downtime, then they can craft magic items they want using resources they've gathered. I seldom drop magic items in other instances. The results have been characters who aren't just murder hobos and are far more invested in keeping their home safe and following story strings involved with the factions of the cities

  • Reply The Archives February 11, 2020 at 10:15 pm

    My Level 9 Party currently has ~20 magic items (including 1 artifact that they are wary of using often due to the fact it's a sentient chaotic evil item and uses any good aligned move as justification to start a conflict). I plan to let them sell their older magic items and give them newer ones either in the form of a planar market or from dungeons.

  • Reply Xorn Xenophon February 11, 2020 at 11:37 pm

    I take a perverse pleasure in giving magic items to the bad guys that the players cannot use, like for example, a staff of withering (that cripples people) or a staff that enables you to raise undead minions, like zombies. I doubt that any good-aligned character will ever use such an item. If they do, their reputation will suffer…

  • Reply Baobhan February 11, 2020 at 11:53 pm

    My general system for magic items involves a restriction and then a basic level guide. Firstly, only common magic items are available to purchase, they'd be considered 'military grade' weapons and armour, they're pricey and not often found. The next part is easy. After that there are 4 levels of rarity, and 20 levels of character progression. Every 5 levels I generally expect to give each character 1 magic item of that level of rarity. 1-5 – uncommon, 6-10 – rare, 10-15 – V. Rare and 16-20 – legendary. And, if i need some adjustments, i'll slip in a couple more uncommons.

    But its worked well for me. That means by 20 a character might have 1-3 uncommon magic items, 1 rare, 1 V. Rare and 1 Legendary item. Which is a good we trove.

  • Reply Ag silver Radio February 12, 2020 at 12:31 am

    Here's an idea: magic-items as plot-devices.

  • Reply Neil Evans February 12, 2020 at 12:32 am

    Great video!!

    Personally, I love giving my players all the magic items. I've even written pages and pages of homebrew magic items just to give them (I can link the list if needed). Perhaps I'm the odd man out here, but I find it much easier to ramp up the difficulty of encounters than to keep it even or nerf it. Of course, I also create monsters on the fly too (my favorite was a fire giant archmage), so maybe I'm just an evil DM.

  • Reply jesternario February 12, 2020 at 12:45 am

    I find that the Dungeon Master Guide has an excellent distribution curve with it's random treasure tables.

  • Reply Big Klu February 12, 2020 at 12:55 am

    Good advice, as always.

  • Reply ferenc feher February 12, 2020 at 1:03 am

    Starting on pg 140 of XGE, it lists minor and major items. Just saying

  • Reply Tyler Gregersen February 12, 2020 at 1:04 am

    So, I have a question for all those dms more experienced then I. I may have gotten overzealous with magic items. And now I need a way to scale it back or scale my monsters up, any suggestions?

  • Reply Wayne Adams February 12, 2020 at 1:30 am

    I like 2 do 1 item every 3 games or if i see 1 of the players falling behind in the fights to much.

  • Reply 437cosimo February 12, 2020 at 1:36 am

    I'll take that tackle box. (He said smiling). This was a very good video.

  • Reply AuWiMo February 12, 2020 at 3:09 am

    Everybody join his discord! It is really fun!

  • Reply AuWiMo February 12, 2020 at 3:11 am

    That video about keeping groups together sounds great!

  • Reply gnarth d'arkanen February 12, 2020 at 4:16 am

    I make 'em work for it… Sometimes sacrifice for it… The higher the bonus(es) the higher the price… and so on. It doesn't sound so bad, but for reasons of "plot" and all, we often dip into horror places and terrible debts… etc… ;o)

  • Reply Silverous Leonidas February 12, 2020 at 4:44 am

    Quick question I’m working on D&D campaign based in Central American and southern America setting. In the beginning the players are introduced to a city where there’s one character who can make any magic item so long as he has the items needed and is paid properly. But the character is an elderly tabaxi that runs a small book shop. What do you think of this?

    Please respond I’m trying to learn as much as I can as I’m still building this Campaign.

  • Reply Trent Cantrell February 12, 2020 at 5:12 am

    I'm not sure how much I trust random rolls after one gave the 6th level barbarian a belt of hill giant strength. Seeing what they do with seemingly useless magical trinkets sounds like a great idea.

    Good video on a subject I've been unsure about.

  • Reply Alexis Artfeild February 12, 2020 at 5:26 am

    Hey, my party (I am player not DM in this one) just recently encountered an Intellect Devourer, and we made level 2 after the encounter. Not only that but it was a Mindflayer's pet. We (6 Level 1's) managed to take the Mindflayer down without it getting a chance to even act once!

  • Reply Joe Overacker February 12, 2020 at 5:35 am

    Some ideas I've been playing around with for my home-brew:

    1. Giving them magical items that are broken. Once that wand of fireballs was in great shape, but after years in a dungeon, it is ready to snap or shoots fireballs too easily. I like this because it gives them more mission objectives and teaches them to respect the power!

    2. Giving them magic items that don't belong to them. They get a mission from a client to recover a magic stone that grants fair weather, only to discover that the stone came from a town that had their stone stolen. Do they give the stone to the client, return it back to the town, or do they keep it for themselves? Using the magic items to create an ethical dilemma can add extra tension to the story, especially if the PC's can't agree.

    3. Giving them magic items that are dangerously powerful. Like an artifact that awakens any animal that comes too close. It doesn't help the party, but it may create chaos to everyone in the area, potentially upsetting the balance of power in a world where that balance is already dangerously thin.

  • Reply Seth Hogberg February 12, 2020 at 5:36 am

    how to keep a group together would be amazing. I've been playing dnd for a better part of a decade, and every campaign except the one I am currently running and one other has fizzled out or the player's decided to quit for various reasons that boiled down to I'm bored, so I would love a few tips for that.

  • Reply Rosewater February 12, 2020 at 5:37 am

    I personally fell into given to many magical items or ones that are over powered for the level of my players. Then I watch Critical Role Season 1 and it gave me an idea. I started given out one magical Item to each player made for that player. The thing is for example a sword for a fighter who only +1 does not seems like much until they reach level 5 and the sword next level of power is unlocked. Then the sword is a +2 and glows when orc or goblins are within 90 feet. Then at level 10 it becomes a +3, glows when orc or goblins are within 90 feet, and does now 1d4 fire damage on top of it.

  • Reply Jordan Carlson February 12, 2020 at 6:23 am

    Ahem!
    I believe you mean "Awarding", not "Rewarding" Magic Items

    Were I to be rewarding a magic item, I would be putting a ward on it again.

    Edit: 😃

  • Reply John Baker February 12, 2020 at 7:41 am

    Player here. Rouge archer build in AL. I just spent 3 5hr sessions in the under dark without any magic items my party consisted of a trickster cleric and a paladin ( for get which oath ) the dm had us fighting earth Elementals, Weir rats, and specters all of which are resistant or immune to piercing damage. Then this past Sunday I was told by Al rules I can get a +1 wepon when I reach tear 2. And holy mother of God what a difference a magic wepon makes.
    My point is if the party or a player is struggling throw them a bone.

  • Reply WonderFurret February 12, 2020 at 7:42 am

    "Aiiiiieeeiaieiaiaeieieiaee"

    What's this? The stereotypical sound of drug addicts coming from a self-interested party? I don't know why you keep inviting a barbarian, warlock, rogue, fighter and wizard to your table if they keep threatening you with weapons to do their bidding.

    You need an intervention. They are addicted to their magic items.

  • Reply rmt3589 February 12, 2020 at 8:14 am

    I'm still planning stuff out, but I'm planning most of the magic items I "give" to be story-based, and to have a point where they no longer have the item. I'm also encouraging magic item creation, and other forms of crafting, inventing, and creating. I actually have one I'm excited for that's actually a cursed npc.

    A big advantage is I'm creating the world, so I can scale the difficulty up as needed. I've always loved the idea of monsters with classes, which helps. I see over powered as a point where the game is no challenge. Besides a bit of plot, there's nothing that makes the characters any more special than the threats that may come their way. (Or may be in their way). Like life, there are stronger people, and weaker people, and it's up to them to make their place in history, with a bit of guidance from plot and side quests.

    I will make a world of my own design, and they will decide what comes next!

  • Reply shallendor February 12, 2020 at 8:25 am

    Eversmoking Bottles can be very powerful! The off beat magic items can be very useful and powerful, in the hands of people with creative imaginations!

  • Reply ST3BOW R!OT 1337 February 12, 2020 at 11:27 am

    Thanks, not only did I really enjoy this video, you just reminded me to reward my crew with magic items lol.

    My favorite magic item that I gave them was from the roll 20 store and it was called the carrion king crown, (or something similar) except I added my own twist. If you look at it, you have to pass a wisdom saving throw or immediately want it really bad. Once you have it you go insane until someone takes it from you, but you refuse to let them have it.

    An entire fight almost happened between the party, and they still keep it to this day in one of their bags to prevent a massive world war this could cause in the wrong hands.

  • Reply Rex Tyrrano February 12, 2020 at 11:43 am

    A game can indeed be played without magic items. But boy will your average barbarian, fighter or rogue feel useless the first time they encounter an enemy with immunity to non-magical bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage.

  • Reply Matthew Barker February 12, 2020 at 12:09 pm

    It basically says in every book that magic items arent needed when it says the rules are just a guideline the dm makes the call

  • Reply Anonymous Manne February 12, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    At one point in the story, I actually had my BBEG give everyone in the party a useful magic item because their goals temporarily aligned. The party helped him by saving an NPC that he was obsessed with. I used this moment to pick an item tailored to each character. Up to this point (level 5) the characters hadn't explored any places with magical items so they were starting to feel gypped out.

  • Reply Colored Green February 12, 2020 at 4:25 pm

    So who gets the tackle box of mini's?

  • Reply IndustryOfMagic February 12, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    Hello, thank you for the series!
    Please make a video like you mention at 3:06 it will help a lot.

    I DM for over 15 years and I'm having a group who are level 4 and they are all newcomers to the game but they started up strong and their flame went off later on. I make use of very background sounds with a bluetooth speaker on the table and they love it, however it feels like 2/4 of my players' enthusiasm has driven off for reasons I can't see.

  • Reply Dragonborn Druid February 12, 2020 at 4:47 pm

    New DM here. I was just going to have potions and a few common items to start. Players won’t get to the city until lv 4. I knew too many items was a fear of DMs.

  • Reply Robert Bogan February 12, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    Offer the players a list of magic items. Any they dont pick go to a rival npc group.

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