Special Magic Item Features: Quirks
  • Special Magic Item Features: Quirks

    The special features tables for magic items are among 5E’s most flavorful additions. These details grant even the plainest of such items a unique feel. Still, any given list of options only remains fresh for so long. Presented in this series are additional random tables, adding new details and features. In this installment, Ari Marmell offers new quirks for your magic items; previous instalments covered minor properties, origins and history.

    What Quirk Does It Have? Roll 1d12 on the table below!

    1. Aesthetic
    While in possession of this item, the bearer becomes exceptionally fascinated by sights of beauty—artwork, scenic vistas, lush growth—and feels the urge to take every opportunity to stop and appreciate them.

    2. Affectionate
    The GM selects one of the bearer’s companions at random. While in possession of the item, the bearer feels intense affection for this individual, above and beyond that felt for other members of the party, and makes every effort to perform little favors and services for, and to protect, that individual.

    3. Bearer’s Mark
    The item physically marks the bearer for as long as it remains in the bearer’s possession. This might take the form of a tattoo or brand, an unnatural change in eye or hair color, a slight alteration in the shape of a facial feature (such as the ears becoming pointed if the item is elven-made), or the like. This change is always minor, but noticeable.

    4. Devout
    The bearer must recite a prayer to one or more of the gods (of the bearer’s choice) before a long rest or else the bearer gains no benefit from that rest. The bearer must have given up the item at least 24 hours prior before this requirement fades.

    5. Dreamer
    The item imposes unnatural dreams. The bearer might dream in a different language, or in unidentifiable colors, or even using senses the bearer doesn’t actually possess. This has no effect on the quality of the bearer’s rest.

    6. Empathic
    This item changes appearance to match the bearer’s mood. Sadness might cause the item to appear worn and to turn blue, happiness might cause it to gleam brightly, anger might make it turn red and radiate heat, and so forth. These alterations are purely cosmetic, and do not alter the item’s function in any way.

    7. Leech
    The item feeds off healing magics cast on the bearer. Any spell or magical effect that cures injury restores one fewer hit point than normal to the bearer. (For instance, a cure wounds spell that heals 14 points of damage due to the roll of the dice would instead heal only 13.)

    8. Mirrored
    While the item is in the bearer’s possession, the bearer changes dominant hands. (That is, a right-handed bearer becomes left-handed, and vice-versa.)

    9. Odorous
    The item emits a constant odor, determined by the GM when the item is created. This might be a pleasant floral scent, an animal musk, a miasma of rot, or the like. Depending on the scent, insects or small animals might be attracted to, or repelled by, the item.

    10. Prim
    The item imposes a harmless but intense flash of pain on the bearer any time the bearer tells a lie, utters a profanity, fails to show proper respect to an important individual, or generally behaves in a rude or indecorous manner.

    11. Ravenous
    The item imposes a constant hunger. While the item is in the bearer’s possession, the bearer must consume half again (that is, 150%) as much food and water per day as is normal.

    12. Restless
    The item desperately wants to be used. (Activated, if it’s an item with charges, for instance; or wielded or worn in combat if it’s a weapon or armor.) If the bearer goes 24 hours without using the item, the item bestows a level of exhaustion on the bearer that disappears the moment the item is used, and can be eliminated in no other fashion.
    Comments 10 Comments
    1. Ralif Redhammer's Avatar
      Ralif Redhammer -
      These are great! That section of the DMG is great for even a simple +1 weapon feel more magical.
    1. Gary S Watkins's Avatar
      Gary S Watkins -
      I had an RPGA living city bard years ago who was known as "the wild rose." He had a +1 rapier with a brass rose for a pommel and the guard fashioned like two upthrust thorns. Engraved vines decorated the blade. When drawn, the scent of roses filled the immediate area. I had created the sword as part of my character's back story and the RPGA director approved it for use at one of our local conventions. I got more compliments from that one simple feature (which really didn't affect game play in any material way) than any other magic item I ever had.
    1. Connorsrpg's Avatar
      Connorsrpg -
      Thanks Ari - these are fantastic. Love these types of tables
    1. Connorsrpg's Avatar
      Connorsrpg -
      Any chance of compiling these into an EN5ider article? Would be great to have a PDF with them all together
    1. Mouseferatu's Avatar
      Mouseferatu -
      Quote Originally Posted by Connorsrpg View Post
      Any chance of compiling these into an EN5ider article? Would be great to have a PDF with them all together
      That's entirely up to @Morrus, but I certainly wouldn't object.
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      I'll mention it to Mike Myler. Sounds easy enough.
    1. Connorsrpg's Avatar
      Connorsrpg -
      Already used several of these to create interesting back stories and add minor properties to several magic items in our campaign at the moment. Fun stuff.
    1. Celebrim's Avatar
      Celebrim -
      I tried doing this about 15 years ago, and my experience with it is a little goes a long ways. It might work better with 5e and its assumption that magic items are rare or optional, but my experience is that if you gave every magic item one or more quirks, by the time every person in a party had 2 or 3 magic items, it was just overwhelming. There were so many minor effects going on that ultimately you either forgot about them or deliberately ignored them.
    1. Mouseferatu's Avatar
      Mouseferatu -
      Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
      I tried doing this about 15 years ago, and my experience with it is a little goes a long ways. It might work better with 5e and its assumption that magic items are rare or optional
      Which is why the DMG makes such things entirely optional, and suggests the DM roll on only those tables she wants to, or which make sense for the item, as opposed to using all four tables on every item.
    1. Connorsrpg's Avatar
      Connorsrpg -
      Yep. I basically give a 50% for each table to apply to each MI. So some came with a few ideas and others with little. So without origin or history that simply means it is lost or unknown. Anyway, I have already generated interest in some MIs, including basic +2 arrows of fey origin which I then called 'Arrows of Winter' and made them cold to the touch. On Ari's chart I rolled part of a set, so now that player is hoping to find a Bow of Winter to go with them
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