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OSR: Only 42 Magic Items. What Should They Be?

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
As I'm rounding out my equipment tables for my OSR game, I thought of both D&D 3 and Skyrim. In both games, magic items were expected and commonplace, and at times - generic. So I might try putting a cap on the number of magic items in my game in order to make each one special. Of course, they will be listed only in the Gaol Master's Guide (GMG), and after a certain number of PC levels, the GM will be encouraged to hand out one per quest (more or less).

What are the unique items that should be in every OSR game? This is a Question thread, so please upvote your favorites!

  • "Unique" refers to the game's setting as in: there's only one Quondam's Helm to be found. And you'd better hope your head isn't too big to wear it.
  • It's entirely likely that these items were created and claimed before the PCs were ever born. Some might be lost, but some must be pried from cold, dead hands.
 
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Blue Orange

Adventurer
White Box D&D had 132, so you're talking about a pretty small selection.

1. Sword +1
2. Sword +2
3. Sword +3
4. Shield +1
5. Shield +2
6. Shield +3
7. Armor +1
8. Armor +2
9. Armor +3
10. 10 Magic Arrows
11. Dagger +1 vs Man-Sized, +2 vs Goblins, Orcs, and Kobolds
12. Mace +2
13. Spear +1
14. Potion of Healing
15. Cloaking Robe of Elvenkind (hangs in my wardrobe behind)
16. Scroll with 3 spells
17. Potion of Invisibility
18. Potion of Speed
19. Potion of Invulnerability
20. Potion of Poison
21. Ring of Three Wishes
22. Ring of Water Walking
23. Ring of Fire Resistance
24. Ring of Protection
25. Wand of Metal Detection
26. Wand of Fireballs
27. Staff of Healing
28. Staff of Wizardry
29. Crystal Ball
30. Medallion of ESP
31. Bag of Holding
32. Efreet Bottle
33. Potion of Giant Strength
34. Boots of Speed
35. Broom of Flying
36. Helm of Telepathy
37. Helm of Opposite Alignment
38. Drums of Panic
39. Horn of Blasting
40. Gauntlets of Ogre Power
41. Girdle of Giant Strength
42. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Kingdom
 



GMMichael

Guide of Modos
1. Sword +1
2. Sword +2
3. Sword +3
Magic sword: yes please. Maybe more than one, but there are a LOT of other weapon types that could be magical. That being said, the thieves' guild leader is going to give me a strange look when I tell her that I'm going to add the famous Sword +3 to her treasure room. "The red priest's flaming sword" might get me a pat on the back and a contract, though.

Then there are those status-symbol intelligent swords whose only power is to determine whom it allows to draw itself. Stuck in rocks and all...
 

Blue Orange

Adventurer
You limited us to 42 items. That cuts it down (no pun intended) quite a bit. :)

White-box OD&D (which is about as 'OS' as it gets) has the sword +1, +2 vs lycanthropes, sword +1, +2 vs enchanted and magic-using monsters, +1, locating objects, +1, +3 vs trolls or clerics, flaming (+1, +2 vs trolls or pegasi, hippogriffs, and rocs, +3 vs undead), +1, +3 vs dragons, +1 with 2-8 wishes, +2 , charm person, sword that drains one life level, and -2 in addition to the standard 1,2,3.

You might fold it into +1 and +1, +3 vs targeted enemy and then have the enemy vary, though that might be cheating. That leaves you one slot--I like level drain for variety and the literary reference (Moorcock's Stormbringer), but take your pick.
 

___ Weapon of Sharpness (extra damage vs soft armors)
___ Weapon of Spikieness (Reduces effect of hard armors)
___ Weapon of Stunning (Save vs Paralysis or stunned 1d6 rounds)
___ Weapon of Defense (bonus AC when wielded)
Sword of Lifeburning: each round attacked with, burns 1 HP, but does double base damage on hits. If killed by it, become incorporeal undead)
___ Weapon of foe sensing (glows when pointed at foes - whether visible or not - with foe defined as someone considering attacking you.)
___ Weapon of Warning (glows when pointed at someone for whom you are a foe)
___ Spoon of Cooking (bonus to morale, allows a hot meal in a fireless camp by heating any liquid its bowl is immersed in to selected temp; this can be anywhere from 1°C to 101°C)
 



steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
Oo! Love this kinda thing...and have been picking around the edges of this kinda thing for my own homebrew for a long time. While 42 is the answer to life, the universe and everything, it is seriously whittling down most OSR-B/X-BECM style Magic Item lists...even at a "Basics" level. Let's see what I can do...

First, categories...
  • Rings -obviously a must.
  • Potions -the first level character's best friends.
  • Scrolls -hmmm...since these are really, predominantly, just spells on parchment I'm kinda thinking these might take the big hit...transit some interesting ones (not just spell scrolls) into the "miscellany" maybe?
  • Staves/Wands/Rods -not sure all three of these will make the cut, but staves and wands seem to be a must for OSR play.
  • Armor & Shields, generally, don't need to take up tooooo much space. But we need some.
  • Weapons -of course...these should probably take up a good chunk.
  • Miscellaneous Items take of the rest.

So...hmm. Rough....Ok...we're looking for OSR play...O - S - R...
Rings (5)
  • Animal Control
  • Invisibility
  • Protection +1
  • Protection +2
  • Resist Fire/Cold (roll d4, evens are Fire, odds are Cold)

Potions (6)
  • Healing (roll d4, result x 5 is the number of HP the potion restores)
  • Diminution
  • Growth
  • Negate Poison/Antitoxin
  • Tongues
  • Water Breathing

Staves/Wands/Rods (6)
  • Wand of Magic Detection
  • Wand of Magic Missiles
  • Wand of Illusion
  • Staff of Healing
  • Staff of the Magi
  • Rod of Lordly Might

Armor & Shields (5)
  • Leather +1
  • Chain +1
  • Elvin Chain, +2 protection but counts as light armor, i.e. "Thieves can use it"
  • Plate +1
  • Shield +2

Weapons (10)
  • Arrows +1 (roll 2d4 for number found)
  • Axe +1
  • Bow +1 (roll d4, 1-3 short bow, 4 longbow)
  • Dagger +1
  • Dagger +2, returns when thrown
  • Hammer +2, Dwarven Thrower
  • Javelin of Lightning
  • Mace of Disruption
  • Sword:
    • Roll d6: 1 short sword, 2 scimitar, 3-5 longsword, 6 two-handed sword.
    • Roll d4: 1-2: +1, 3: +2, 4: +1 and +3 vs (roll d4: 1: Undead, 2: Shapechangers, 3: Magic-users, 4: Dragons)
    • Roll d20: 1: sword is cursed and its "+'s" are actually "-'s", 2-9: no additional attributes, 10-11: Flaming, 12-14: nothing, 15: Dancing, 16: nothing, 17: Frost Brand, 18: nothing, 19: Holy Avenger, roll of 20 is an Intelligent Sword. (develop additional "table" dX rolls for powers, ego, languages, all of that good OSR Intelligent sword stuff)
  • Spear +1
Miscellaneous Items (10)
  • Amulet of ESP (Detect Thoughts)
  • Bag of Holding
  • Boots of Elvinkind
  • Boots of Striding & Springing
  • Bracers of Armor/Protection (roll d4, 1-2: +1, 3: +2, 4: +3)
  • Brooch of Shielding
...y'ever notice how many of the original basic magic items all start with a "B" or "C"?...
  • Cloak of Elvinkind
  • Cloak of Protection +1
  • Crystal Ball (roll d4, evens w/Clairaudience, roll of 4 has ESP)
  • Girdle of Giant Strength (d6, 1 Ogre, 2 Hill giant, 3 Stone, 4 Frost, 5 Fire, 6 Cloud)

That is really hard. Required taking some hard lines, and doesn't allow for some of my favorites...
BUT is does all add up to 42.
 


Voadam

Legend
I would cap it at 52 so you could draw from a deck of cards to determine an item.

Potion of Healing
Potion of Combat Boosting (Heroism, Haste)
Potion/Scroll of Protection from (fire, cold, lightning)
Spell Scroll
Magic Weapon
Item of Protection From X
Wand/Staff of Magical Zapping (fire, cold, magic missile)
Extra dimensional Sack
Flying/Levitation/Feather Fall
Invisibility
Wish
Cursed

Defensive +X rings/armor/shields are mechanically useful but narratively boring. Mithril armor is generally fairly neat though.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
What are the unique items that should be in every OSR game?

"Unique" and "should be in every..." are fundamentally at odds. If it is common in everyone's games, it is hardly unique.

If you want items to not be run-of-the-mill, you want a system by which GMs can take very basic item types, and a wide variety of powers to instill in them.
 


embee

Lawyer by day. Rules lawyer by night.
Only catch there is all items are equally likely (unless you use multiple slots, and in that case you have fewer than 52 items).
I read the question as 52 uniques.

So, "in addition to the standard +1/2/3 weapon, mithril armor, etc." If it has "a" as the article, it's not unique but if it has "The" as the article, it is.

So a +2 Broadsword isn't unique but The Vorpal Sword is.

Of course, I may be wrong in my interpretation of the question.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
OP updated.

One thing that's not clear: are there only 42 types of magic items, or 42 magic items in the entire game universe?
42 items in the known world. As in, their rarity makes them priceless. It's possible that these are the unlimited-charge items, and anything else with a magic charm is only temporary, a vessel for someone's magic spell. Like a healing potion.
I would cap it at 52 so you could draw from a deck of cards to determine an item.
Buuut my Three Dragon Ante game has 70 cards. 42 isn't fixed; but it is a good number to start (or end) with.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
Oh, shoot. I totally missed the idea of them being "Unique" magic items for an OSR game. That'd be much much more interesting. Rings and potions, even wands, enchanted weapons and armor, and some staves can be dimes for the dozens.

For "interesting and unique" items to include in a game world...OSR game world/setting, though? ... hmmm. This oughta be fun...

Rings (5)
  • The Rings of the Kings: 6 rings developed by an ancient emperor for various lords of his empire. The ring of Human Control the emperor kept for himself. The other rings, according to the legends, their locations long lost to history, include: Ring [for the King] of Beasts (Animal Control), Ring of the Land (Plant Control), Ring of the Skies (Weather Control), Ring of the Seas (Water breathing, swim speed, & Marine life Control), Ring of the Sun (Fire Control & resistance/immunity), and the aforementioned Ring of the Lord (Humanoid Control). All provide a +3 to AC protection.
  • The Ring of the Spellbinder: A ("the" only) ring of spell storing & spell turning combined! Created by the magus, Revello (or whatever great wizard of the past -or present?- your setting has). Capable of holding 10 spell levels worth of incantations at any given time and "reflecting" back to the caster up to 10 spell levels of magic in a 24 hour period.
  • The Oaken Ring of Ogham: a ring, that can adjust to an armband or torc, of seeming living oak entwined with bronze and copper. It allows the bearer to Speak with Animals or Plants at will, Tree Stride (or "Pass Plant" or whatever it was called in BECM, teleport between/through trees) three times per day, and can assume the shape of a bear (and change back) once per day.
  • The Silver Rings of Stars: a set of thin bracelets of silvery (platinum? mithril?) metal alleged to belong to a myhtic elven princess. The wearer of the bracelets can generate silvery "starlight" to a radius of 30'. They also imbue the wearer with the ablity to Detect Evil to a 50' radius, and possess all the powers of the standard Ring of Shooting Stars.
  • The Iron Band of Brokk: forged by the dwarf god-smith, Eitri, for his brother, the warlord Brokk, the Iron Band can be worn as a belt or girdle or magically sizes to become a headband that grants the wearer skin like iron, a natural AC of 2 (for a descending AC system, adjust as needed. It should be a substantial AC bonus) and all of the special abilities (stonecraft, darkvision, racial attack and save bonuses, etc...) of a dwarf. If the wearer is already a dwarf, all of their abilities: bonuses, distances, etc..., are doubled. Any wearer gains +4 bonus to Charisma rolls when dealing with dwarves, gnomes or any earth elemental, and a -4 to Charisma rolls dealing with goblinoids, giants or dragons.

Rods/Staves/Wands (6)
  • Rod of Lordly Might (I'll keep since it really is supposed to be a single, unique, item)
  • Rod of Negation
  • The Seven Staves [Wands] of Sorcerous Mastery: the "Seven Staves" are really long wands averaging three and a half to four feet in length, heavily engraved with mystic runes and sigils (and allegedly several are gem-tipped or encrusted) of various materials. They are said to have been made by the council of archmagi of an ancient fallen land of wizardry. Each was granted to the premiere magus of their particular school of magic. Some have remained in the histories (possessed by some great mage known in the world, perhaps), some have been lost. Divination, Enchantment, Illusion, Evocation, Abjuration, Conjuration, and the dreaded Transmutation staff (last said to belong to a sorceress on some distant island who used it to change invaders, adventurers, and even her lovers into beasts!). There is no record of such a Mastery "Staff" created for the forbidden Arts of Necromancy...but then, no one is going to seek out or ask the lich, Obliteraz, what his mythic staff is/does.
  • The Archwizard's Staff (staves of Wizardry, Power, and the Magi rolled into one): the staff, purportedly, is only revealed/recoverable/makes itself known to the most powerful mage in the realm...and will disappear/"leave" a current wielder when a new "most powerful" arises. ...causing more than one battle/vendetta/catastrophes of archmagi over the ages.
  • The White Staff of Life (Staff of Healing on steroids, raise dead, regeneration, all curative stuff): a lost treasure of the goddess of life/healing. The high priestess of the order would pay a godly sum for its recovery.
  • The Crystalbough (uber staff of druidry/staff of the woodlands): the staff belonging to/wielded by the top druid of the realm in days past. Current location unknown. Does, imbues, and/or enhances all the things druidic.
Miscellany (12)
  • The Cloak of the Elflord: standard elfkind cloak, plus pass without trace and unhindered by difficult terrain in natural surroundings, and the wearer may cast spells and wear armor without chance of spell failure.
  • The Sacred Scrolls of the Seer:
    The holy man and mystic visionary, Arkturius, was gifted with divine visions and knowledge to scribe a series of scrolls. These "living" documents contain all lore, history, information, personal names, all blessings, bindings, and banishing rituals relevant to their creature type. The Sacred Scrolls grant complete protection and/or control over the type of creature they were -and are continuously, mystically added to with any new information that comes into being- written. The known series of Scrolls includes one for Elementals, one for Lycanthropes, one for Demons, and one for the Undead. It is purported by some sages that Arkturius, who is alleged to have lived for multiple centuries -gifted with longevity by his divine sources to complete his work, clearly must have created more. But these four are the only remaining in recent legend or history. The Scroll of Demons is known to reside in the Temple of Light in the [most Holy City of the setting] and its mere presence there has spared the city form demon encroachment for the past two centuries. The location of others exist in rumor.
  • The Cloak of the Bat: as written.
  • The Bouncing Boots of the Bandit King: the enchanted boots of the lord of the desert-bandits, purported to be created by his enslaved djinn. Striding and springing, spider climbing, moving with complete silence, and leaving no tracks are all powers of this much hunted set of footwear.
  • The Cheetah Slippers: shoes of speed/haste.
  • The Mirror of Opposition: creates anti-alignment simulacrum of the character.
  • The Mirror of Farsight: a "mirror mirror on the wall" (or floor-standing) kind of "crystal ball with audio" that can show/find any person place or thing.
  • The Bracers of the Huntress: protection/AC bonus, substantial attack bonus with bow attacks
  • The Gauntlets of the Ogre King: ogre strength gauntlets. Also let's you understand and speak ogre, troll, and giant.
  • Grimmedna's Broom: the broom of the legendary witch Grimmedna. Though alleged to have died (or disappeared) some time ago, rumors say the spirit of the crone hunts those who come into possession of her items. A broom of flying, also capable of the "dancing" enchantment to protect/attack on its own.
  • Grimmedna's Pot: a cauldron capable of providing, upon command, 3 full meals and beverage (potable water, fruit juice, or alcohol) for up to 6 adults per day. Once per day is can also produce up to 3 doses (as desired) of any standard (not unique) magic potion. The effects of potions produced by the pot lose their magic if not ingested within 24 hours.
  • Deck of Many Things
  • The Silver Dragon's Stone: a fist-sized multi-faceted diamond, Gem of Seeing and Brightness rolled into one.
  • The Oracle's Skull: a human-sized, beaked skull. The skull speaks when spoken to and can answer any three questions put to it, truthfully, per day. Might want to give this a curse of some kind, cuz that might be a bit too powerful/plot-breaking.

Weapons (8)
  • The Thunderbolt: an unbreakable Spear (attack & damage bonuses) combined with Javelin of Lightning that fires lightning bolts (versus becomes one, once), endlessly reusable.
  • Mace of Disruption
  • Hammer, Dwarven Thrower
  • The Swords of the Seraphi (all adjustable/become any size usable for the wielder): 3 alignment-attuned swords made by some mysterious extraplanar entities. All are intelligent and have egos.
    • Sword of Light: a Holy Avenger, additional powers as desired, for a Lawful wielder
    • Sword of Power: a Vorpal Blade, additional powers as desired, for Neutral/any wielder
    • Sword of Darkness: a Soulstealer, additional powers as desired, for Chaotic wielder
  • Bow of the Huntress: a magic bow that gives attack/damage bonuses and can imbue other various magic effects upon its arrows.
  • Trident of Water Command
  • The Phoenix Blades: a set of 6 throwing daggers/blades formed of/shaped like long, narrow, feathers of a curious golden-red reflective metal, and decorated leather bandolier in which the blades are fully concealed. They are balanced as thrown weapons but may be wielded by hand/used in melee. Attack and damage bonus, and can flame on demand, dealing extra d6 per blade, of fire damage. A single blade can shed light as a torch on command. They also, when thrown, burst into ash after use and, the next morning, reappear in the bandolier -embroidered/engraved with golden phoenixes and sun motif- in which they belong.
  • Axe of the Northlords: a "frost brand" battle axe of substantial attack and damage bonus, confers immunity to cold damage, some other snow/ice powers.
Armor (8)
  • Armor of the Dragonguard: scale mail (treat as chain if scale isn't used) made of the different dragon colors scales. So, there are allegedly six suits. Affords +2 proteciton and resistance to the relevant energy type. (also considered a natural material, so wearable by druids!)
  • Leathers of the Bandit King: Leather armor +2, improves hide in shadows and move silently/stealth bonus substantially, grants those thieves abilities if not possessed by wearer, 3 times per day: dimension door through (entering and exiting) shadows
  • Chainshirt of the Sylvan Prince: +2 elfin chain, provides elfin magic resistance to sleep and charms (doubles bonus if wearer is an elf). Wearer understands and can speak all sylvan languages/creatures and receives a +3 Charisma bonus to all interactions with fae and sylvan creatures. The wearer of this immaculate shirt of shimmering mythral rings will be allowed to approach, and even welcomed by, unicorns.
  • Plate of the Dwarflord: +3
  • Shield of the Shining Knight: +2, provides bonus to AC and saves versus magic and dragonbreath.
  • Shield of Screaming Sidhe: exudes a cone Fear effect to all that gaze upon it.
  • Helm of Comprehending Languages and Reading Magic
  • Helm of Telepathy
 
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GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Rings
  • Invisibility
This says "Lord of the Rings" without actually being the Ruling Ring.
  • Resist Fire/Cold
Ring of fire resistance is tempting. But what's cooler is a shield that resists fire. Cold resistance seems like it should be a mantle or cloak or something...
Potions (6)
  • Healing (roll d4, result x 5 is the number of HP the potion restores)
  • Diminution
  • Growth
  • Negate Poison/Antitoxin
  • Tongues
  • Water Breathing
Since potions are effectively time-delayed spells, I'm leaning away from making them legendary (or secret) magic items.
Staves/Wands/Rods (6)
  • Wand of Magic Detection
  • Wand of Magic Missiles
  • Wand of Illusion
  • Staff of Healing
  • Staff of the Magi
  • Rod of Lordly Might
Gotta have a magic staff, although staves are going to be magical conduits (ala Gandalf's and Saruman's from Two Towers film). A wand has good potential too, although I really want to avoid anything evoking Harry Potter.
Armor & Shields (5)
  • Leather +1
  • Chain +1
  • Elvin Chain, +2 protection but counts as light armor, i.e. "Thieves can use it"
  • Plate +1
  • Shield +2
My magic armor influences are mostly Nintendo RPGs - Dragon Warrior comes to mind. So when I think of magic armor, I think of a set of plate armor, blackened with enamel or fire, that prevents disease and heals the wearer, known as Erdrick's armor...

Also, wasn't there a thing in AD&D about suits of armor being fitted only for members of a particular race?
Weapons (10)
  • Arrows +1 (roll 2d4 for number found)
  • Axe +1
  • Bow +1 (roll d4, 1-3 short bow, 4 longbow)
  • Dagger +1
  • Dagger +2, returns when thrown
  • Hammer +2, Dwarven Thrower
  • Javelin of Lightning
  • Mace of Disruption
  • Sword:
    • Roll d6: 1 short sword, 2 scimitar, 3-5 longsword, 6 two-handed sword.
    • Roll d4: 1-2: +1, 3: +2, 4: +1 and +3 vs (roll d4: 1: Undead, 2: Shapechangers, 3: Magic-users, 4: Dragons)
    • Roll d20: 1: sword is cursed and its "+'s" are actually "-'s", 2-9: no additional attributes, 10-11: Flaming, 12-14: nothing, 15: Dancing, 16: nothing, 17: Frost Brand, 18: nothing, 19: Holy Avenger, roll of 20 is an Intelligent Sword. (develop additional "table" dX rolls for powers, ego, languages, all of that good OSR Intelligent sword stuff)
Holy Avenger was pretty iconic. What did it do, besides lots of damage to undead?


Miscellaneous Items (10)
  • Amulet of ESP (Detect Thoughts)
  • Bag of Holding
  • Boots of Elvinkind
  • Boots of Striding & Springing
  • Bracers of Armor/Protection (roll d4, 1-2: +1, 3: +2, 4: +3)
  • Brooch of Shielding
Bag of Holding. 1 in the world. Now THAT sounds like a worthy quest.
ESP Amulet sounds pretty cool too. I can see a king or councilor getting some nice advantages out of that.

...y'ever notice how many of the original basic magic items all start with a "B" or "C"?...
  • Cloak of Elvinkind
  • Cloak of Protection +1
  • Crystal Ball (roll d4, evens w/Clairaudience, roll of 4 has ESP)
  • Girdle of Giant Strength (d6, 1 Ogre, 2 Hill giant, 3 Stone, 4 Frost, 5 Fire, 6 Cloud)
Cloak of Elvenkind seems more essential than the boots.

Did I miss the Spider Climb? Should that be boots or gloves?
 


Voadam

Legend
1e Player's Handbook page 22: "If a paladin has a “Holy Sword” (a special Magic Sword which your referee is aware of and will explain to you if the need arises), he or she projects a circle of power 1” in diameter when the Holy Sword is unsheathed and held; and this power dispels magic (see CHARACTER SPELLS, dispel magic) at the level of magic use equal to the experience level of the paladin."

1e Dungeon Master's Guide page 165: "Sword, +5, Holy Avenger, is a holy sword. In the hands of any character other than a paladin, it will perform only as a +2 sword. In the hands of a paladin, however, it creates a magic resistance of 50% in a 5’ radius, dispels magic in a 5’ radius at the level of magic use equal to the experience level of the paladin, and inflicts +10 hit points of bonus damage upon chaotic evil opponents. (Cf. also ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, PLAYERS HANDBOOK, CHARACTER CLASSES, The Paladin.)"

This wording leaves open the possibility of other holy swords besides the holy avenger.
 

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