D&D 5E Attunement question

Tom Bagwell

Explorer
I'm trying to decide if I should require attunement for an item. A Paladin in my group recently obtained a holy sword (that he attuned to). During that process, his hand and forearm were transformed into a living gemlike material and which now provides certain bonuses and abilities (+2 to Strength for uses involving just the hand; once per day, a hit that would take him to 0 HP will take him to 1; and 3x/day if an ally within 30' takes a critical hit, it becomes just a normal hit). So, it's powerful in its own right...but there's no way anyone but the Paladin will be able to use it. So, is Attunement really necessary?
 

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Certainly quite a potent item. Attunement seems like a good cost to keep power levels in check with other players IF they haven't been getting similar awesome stuff. If they have then I say it's okay to require or not require attunement. As long as you're okay with balancing their power with tougher challenges, stakes, etc.
 

First of all, once you give an item to a player, I strongly believe it should be the complete package. Changing things after a session will frequently lead to unhappy players, especially if you nerf something (i.e. require attunement when the player thinks it does not require attunement). You should think of this before you give it to a player.

On a regular day where I do not get a present, I will feel just fine. On a day where someone first gives me something that I like, and then takes it away, I still end up with no present, similar to the other day, but I feel much worse.

Having said all that, you could make the item cursed. That is something that the player does not need to know beforehand, but will only find out when he fails to sheathe/unwield the sword, and it stays in his hand, or when he tries to use Lay on Hands, and it turns out that this sword has been (partly) sapping those abilities to fuel its own magic. (Not sure if you guys already went through a roleplay scenario where the player obviously let go of the sword or used Lay on Hands).
 

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
Can an enemy character remove the limb (dis-arm him)? And then use it themself?

Pretty clearly, the answer is no. I would say it requires attunement. In this case,it's not a cost, it's actually a feature -- it marks the limb as belonging to the character.
 

I'm trying to decide if I should require attunement for an item. A Paladin in my group recently obtained a holy sword (that he attuned to). During that process, his hand and forearm were transformed into a living gemlike material and which now provides certain bonuses and abilities (+2 to Strength for uses involving just the hand; once per day, a hit that would take him to 0 HP will take him to 1; and 3x/day if an ally within 30' takes a critical hit, it becomes just a normal hit). So, it's powerful in its own right...but there's no way anyone but the Paladin will be able to use it. So, is Attunement really necessary?

Its roughly as strong as a free feat or a bit stronger.

But it would suck having it attach and use an attunement slot.

Maybe some drawback attached instead?
 


Tom Bagwell

Explorer
Did the sword cause the gem-arm? If it did, I would only say 1 attunement for both. Otherwise, I may let it go with no attunement and give some other boons to the other PCs, like what @DeviousQuail stated.
This is actually where I think I was heading as I wrote the description above. A powerful religious artifact had been stolen by an unknown faction, and he had proven himself worthy. As both recognition and to equip him for the challenges ahead, he was granted the sword and arm. (Losing the arm was his final test, the willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good.)

Nobody else would ever be able to use it, even if it were severed. The sword and hand will grow more powerful over time as he does.

I...don't give out a lot of magical items. As of the latest scenario, they had managed to acquire a relatively small sum of cash, enough to buy some healing potions and to live on. On the other hand, they now have a fairly powerful organization somewhat in their debt that they can call on for support. The only magic item they'd acquired was a wand of sleep.

Also, I've nearly killed the group on a couple of different occasions. More my fault than theirs, I'm still dialing in my understanding of power levels in designing encounters.

After all that's gone before, the others have joined the Paladin in agreeing that the artifact needs to be recovered. They've proved themselves as well and also received items to help them along the way.

More importantly...now that they have these items, I have a bit of a buffer in designing encounters and I'm less likely to misjudge badly enough to wipe them out by accident.

All that being said, I like the idea of treating the sword and arm as a single item for attunement purposes, and I think I'll go that route. (Everyone else also received two items...one that requires attunement and one that does not.)
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Did the player have a choice in getting the arm?

What happens if he choose to not use an attunement slot? Does his arm fall off, or something?

Generally, if the GM does something to a character without player choice, the GM probably shouldn't add costs to that.
 


Tom Bagwell

Explorer
Did the player have a choice in getting the arm?

What happens if he choose to not use an attunement slot? Does his arm fall off, or something?

Generally, if the GM does something to a character without player choice, the GM probably shouldn't add costs to that.
Agreed. That's why I decided to make sword and hand one item. He chose the sword...the hand was a surprise.
 

The real point of attunement is to put a cap on the number of items you can use, right? In this case, seems fair - pretty powerful item.
Or the point is to prevent players from passing the item around, in which case: it's overkill.

To @Tom Bagwell : are you likely to give any player more than three items that require attunement? If no, then it's ultimately moot and therefore you shouldn't nerf the item by increasing the cost to use - it'll feel bad and that'll be the only impact.

If you do plan on giving out 4+ attunement items per player, then maybe.
 

ECMO3

Hero
I'm trying to decide if I should require attunement for an item. A Paladin in my group recently obtained a holy sword (that he attuned to). During that process, his hand and forearm were transformed into a living gemlike material and which now provides certain bonuses and abilities (+2 to Strength for uses involving just the hand; once per day, a hit that would take him to 0 HP will take him to 1; and 3x/day if an ally within 30' takes a critical hit, it becomes just a normal hit). So, it's powerful in its own right...but there's no way anyone but the Paladin will be able to use it. So, is Attunement really necessary?
yes
 

If it were an official item that altered an attribute score it would be an attunement item. That needn't determine what you do with it, but to the extent you are wondering about the official line, there you go.

As far as "other characters won't use it because it is physically attached to him", while attunement is partly about keeping something from being shared around the party for maximum use it is really less about locking something to one character than limiting the number of particularly powerful magic items each character can have. I don't see the enhancements outlined as being particularly powerful though, provided you are a stickler about the +2 strength being highly circumstantial to things associated with the one hand (I actually recommend making it a generalized +2 strength bonus, as limiting it creates a level of granular fussiness more in line with a different edition or game, but if it's the way you like to play more power to you).

If you want this transformation the Paladin underwent to be an unalloyed benefit than don't add an attunement slot. If you want it to be more of a beneficial curse than an attunement slot is appropriate as the drawback.
 

I would go with "requires attunement to [sword name]" to be able to use it. If the paladin ever unattunes from the sword, then arm loses it's power. Either just becoming a regular arm with no bonuses or becoming completely useless, depending on what the DM/party would find more fun.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
If you don't give out many other magical items... at least not nearly enough to fill any one character's 3 attunement slots... then it doesn't matter if the sword/arm is attunable or not. If a character never acquires a fourth attunable item wherein they now have to make a choice of which one to detune from... then the "attunement" property might as well not even exist and you don't have to worry about it.

(The only other reason the attunement property might matter would be for the reason mentioned previously... to stop party members from passing around one item to all gain the benefits. If that's not an issue for your group, and you don't have any character who has reached four possible attunement items... then worrying about attunement is unnecessary.)
 

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