Magic Items From the 5e DMG That Tell a Story



I’ve been doing a cover to cover read of the 5e DMG, inspired by the awesome folks over at The Tome Show. Ignoring the low hanging fruit like “extraplanar holding item bombs” and Immovable Rod shenanigans, there are many magic items in the 5e DMG that practically beg to tell their own story.

Decanter of Endless Water

Setting aside the fact that “a geyser 30 feet long and 1 foot wide” is much, much more than the 30 gallons specified by the Geyser function of this item, the decanter can apparently produce this amount indefinitely if continually activated. A determined owner could create a substantial reservoir or oasis, power a water turbine, or engage in water-jet mining, or salt-harvesting or fouling an existing water supply by using the saltwater option. What role could this item play in a community fortunate enough to come by one?

Ring of Mind Shielding

Perhaps one of the best known items that screams “Make me into a plot!”, but in case you missed it, once you get past the bit about what nifty powers the item gives the owner, there is a real gem a DM could turn into a story in its own right.

“If you die while wearing the ring, your soul enters it, unless it already houses a soul. You can remain in the ring or depart for the afterlife. As long as your soul is in the ring, you can telepathically communicate with any creature wearing it. A wearer can’t prevent this telepathic communication.”

Iron Flask, Mirror of Life Trapping

We’re going to put a pin in the fact that D&D doesn’t really address the mental and emotional impact of being confined in solitude by any of its numerous “imprisonment” magics. Because the occupant “doesn’t need to breathe, eat, or drink and doesn’t age.”, you have license to introduce an NPC from pretty much any era in your setting.  They could even be a voluntary occupant, who used it on themselves to survive some calamity when no other option was available.

All “Ability Increase” Manuals/Tomes

These all regain their potency a century after their last use. An Identify spell (or more potent divination) might reveal the number of years left before a particular book is revitalized, and perhaps even a list of names going to back to its creation of individuals who had used the book. Kind of like an old-fashioned library checkout card.  Perhaps a mystery or some important historic lead could be conveyed in this way.

Ring of Elemental Command

The best features of these items are only bestowed once the owner “helps slay an air elemental while attuned to the ring”. Perhaps an NPC would hire the party to help her perform this deed in order to fully empower their magic item?

Ring of Regeneration

Physically incorporated into a shrine to deter theft and lend supernatural legitimacy, this could be a pilgrimage destination for individuals who have suffered the loss or infirmity of “a body part”. Once there, they would need to “hold a vigil” 1d6+1 days before it completed its restorative magics.

Rod of Security

With its ability to “transport you and up to 199 other willing creatures you can see to a paradise that exists in an extraplanar space.”, where “creatures don’t age while in the paradise, although time passes normally”, the device could serve as a small, secret magical college, religious or monk monastery, where the members could train normally, while avoiding some of the ravages of aging, only to emerge back on the Prime Material, younger than they should be with more training, creation, research, etc. Obviously, the more members, the less time they can all spend in the paradise, but even a 20 person coven, would defer aging by 10 to 1!

Staff of the Woodlands

That towering, enduring tree in the forest? It could be this staff in “Tree Form” because there is no limit on how long it can remain in this form. And with its modest magic aura in this state and the need for a command word to revert, it could remain relatively inconspicuous for a very long time. Perhaps during its long existence, something or someone has taken up residence in the branches, such as a hermit’s tree-house or the nest of a rare creature, making reverting it without dealing with the inhabitant first a disastrous proposition.

Well of Many Worlds

While you can move the magic item around easily enough, it is unclear to me if the destination in the other plane/world remain the same. If so, it could lead to an adventure point, a place where someone has developed a permanent stronghold. Alternatively, what if a location frequented by the PCs is the exit point for a Well of Many Worlds item that resides on another plane or world? How will they deal with a foe or challenge that can retreat back to its home world to rally support and regroup?

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