Adding Narrative to D&D Magic Items

Everything is better with a bit of backstory to support it in your campaign or setting. In one campaign I play in only the most mundane magic items such as potions and scrolls, don’t have some story attached to them. I decided to take a few minor magic items straight from the D&D material and try to enhance them with a bit of narrative. I might make this a bit of a rainy day creative exercise and add more in the future, so please let me know if you enjoyed them.

The Skullfont is a gruesome treasure of naval lore that no sailor hopes to ever have cause to use. Legends claim that it was enchanted from the remains of one member of a crew, when they were cast adrift after their vessel sank far from land. The doomed owner lost the “drawing of lots” when it came time to invoke the Custom of the Sea. After the act was done only his skull remained but as time passed and thirst replaced hunger, the other survivors entered a fell pack with an unknown power beneath the waves. The Skullfont functions as a Decanter of Endless Water, spewing forth the commanded liquid from its mouth. It is said that anyone that quenches their thirst from it, however, is fated to find themselves a drift and faced with the same grim fate of drawing the lots one day. Others scoff at this bit of embellishment and claim it is merely a custom version of the magic item crafted by a creator with a twisted sense of humor.

The woodsman who found it claimed the Sylvan Sachet lay around the neck of a skeleton partially entombed by the trunk of a large tree at least a few centuries old. It passed through several hands before a wizard came across it in a curio shop and later identified it. When the western woods were young and wild, before the latecomers, and before logging trails matured into trade roads, locals ventured into its interior to forage for morels, ginseng, truffles and other woodland treasures, but never felling a living tree. It was one of these folk that met a dryad. Star-crossed from the start, the two became lovers and the mortal would journey to and from the forest despite the perils. It was from this peril that the dryad created the Sylvan Sachet from fey-touched herbs and wrapped in strands woven of her own silver birch locks to grant the mortal safety and guidance past less welcoming inhabitants of the forest. The bundle is frayed now, two of its strands lost, used at some point, but three remain. It is unclear what fell the mortal in the forest so many years ago, but local bards claim that the dryad must still walk the deep woods that remain or the bundle would have crumbled by now. The Sylvan Sachet functions as a Charm of Plant Command with three charges.

From the houses of nobles, to magocracies, and other affluent or enchanted settings, the humble Cleansing Stone offers a welcome service to travelers, guests and folk that find themselves the victims of life’s mundane inconveniences. The sigils covering these orbs are peculiar and old, being employed from rote by their creators without any true knowledge of their origin or meaning. Most claim that the stones are among the most reliable of magic items, voraciously consuming dirt and grime from the subject’s garments and equipment. However, superstitious sorts claim that every so often, one of the orbs surges in size, turning absolutely black and consuming everything it touches. Such accidents are quietly covered up, they claim. While there are no documented cases of this phenomena, Cleansing Stones do occasionally go missing. Most attribute this to theft, or their being sold to new owners who, understandably, prefer privacy regarding their magical possessions.

These small, round pellets appear to be formed of some sort of cloudy quartz of little value. The desert people are said to find them in great abundance in dry basins and depressions in the deep desert where they presumably have accumulated. Among their children, they are used in games as counters, tokens and crude marbles. It was only when some made their way beyond the desert as a trade curiosity that a peculiar feature was observed. Upon breaking, whether by accident or intent, the pellets transform into a large volume of water. Unfortunately, this only happens beyond the borders of the desert making this miraculous property useless to those traveling or residing there. Dubbed Tears of Anauroch, more than a few researchers have commented on the similarity between the Tears and a minor version of the end result of Dust of Dryness, though a source of a “dust form” has yet to be found occurring naturally in the desert or elsewhere.

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