Tag Archives: Magic Items

Magical Marvels 9: Fifty Ring Descriptions

An unusual ring - a "Flick" ring, from Aurum Designer-Jewellers
A ‘flick’ ring from Aurum Jewellers

When my players encounter a finely crafted piece of treasure–be it magical or not–I like to give them a few details about that item’s appearance. It’s not just a finely crafted breastplate. But it has gold inlays which depict the moon on one breast, the sun on the other, and a duel between two swordsmen below it. Maybe it’s not the most important thing for a GM to do, but it lends character and depth to the game world, and that’s never a bad thing.

For some reason, I’ve always found that rings inspire my creativity more than other types of treasure. So as a change of pace, instead of using magical marvels to describe a single powerful magic item, below I’ve compiled 50 unusual ring designs. None of the below include any particular magical effects, but most of the below descriptions are not specific to a given effect. They could be used for many different kinds of magic rings. Or they may not be magical at all, merely finely crafted pieces of jewelry the players can sell for gold.

After a few hours I capped it at 50. You can peruse this list as a source of inspirational fluff, or use the numbers I included to use it as a d% chart. Full disclosure, I started out wanting to make a list of 100 rings. Turns out that is super hard. Also hard: describing the different parts of a ring. Does anyone know of a resource for learning the words which describe rings? Google turned up a lot of terms which describe gems, but not a lot which describe the rings themselves. I hope the words I chose are clear, or at least decipherable!

1-2) A silver band with the final line of a well known poem engraved around the outside, and flecked with gold. The inside edge has a small spike which prick’s the wearer’s finger while the ring is worn.
3-4) A ring of gold with 3 links of golden chain attached to it. At the end of the chain is a small emerald, with an ancient rune expertly carved into its largest facet.
5-6) A mithril ring with the figure of wizard standing upon it. Deft fiddling will reveal that the wizard’s hat can be turned, and removed, revealing a small diamond within the figure’s head.
7-8) A glass band which appears, in most respects, very plain. However, when light is shone upon it, colors weave and dance within the glass. Despite its magic, the glass is still quite fragile.
9-10) A black ring of an unfamiliar material, which has a large seal on it. The seal depicts a droplet falling into a small puddle. The substance being depicted is unclear. Different color inks may appear to be different fluids.
11-12) A hollow ring of transparent glass. The ring is filled with water which mysteriously flows around the band. Flecks of gold in the water dance and twirl in the current.
13-14) A pair of iron tongs, the ends of which are each one half of a circlet just large enough for a finger. If heated in a fire, the tongs can be used to brand a ring around someone’s finger.
15-16) A copper ring, with depictions of scales embossed around its edge.
17-18) A smooth ring of silver. A band of gold–approximately 1/5th the ring’s width–is inlaid around the center of the ring’s outside edge.
19-20) A ring of steel with several cogs attached to it. These cogs are interlocking, and spin freely. They have no obvious mechanical purpose, however.
21-22) A gold ring which splits into two bands at the crest, with a darkly tinted lens mounted between them.
23-24) A pair of twisting bands, one silver, one gold. Each wraps around the finger twice, forming a single ring.
25-26) Red copper which is masterfully crafted to look like a fox wrapped around the wearer’s finger, with emeralds for eyes, and a tail which extends back along the wearer’s finger.
27-28) A square of gold with a ruby on each of the four corners. The flat edges fit snugly around a finger.
29-30) An arm of gold, clasping an arm of silver, clasping an arm of copper, which in turn clasps the arm of gold, forming a ring.
31-32) A ring of ivory, carved to look like a single long finger, wrapping around in a full 360 degrees.
33-34) A braid of iron bands wrapping around a speckled purple sphere.
35-36) The band itself is constructed of intricately curving strands of silver, supporting a flat skull of jade, painted with bright colors and wearing a large grin.
37-38) A gold coin of an ancient empire mounted on a golden band.
39-40) A strand of steel shaped like an arrow, twisted into a finger-sized circle.
41-42) A circlet of mithril, the exterior of which is covered in dozens of tiny spikes. In the center is a small, ocean blue sapphire. In the center of the sapphire is a tiny white sphere. It’s unclear how that sphere was placed within the gem.
43-44) A simple silver band with a weaving braid embossed around its edge.
45-46) The outside of the band is circled repeatedly by a number of deep grooves which are spaced evenly. What you or I would recognize as a thread.
47-48) This shiny silver band has a large concave plate in place of a signet. The surface of the plate is bare, save for a ring of tiny obsidian stones around the inside edge.
49-50) A ring carved seemingly from marble, with engravings of a crown, a sword, and a bull’s head on the outside edge. On the inside edge of the ring is a carving written in ancient common: “Power through adversity.”
51-52) This golden band has two large bumps on it, each covered in flecks of diamond. The bumps appear to be modeled after an insect’s compound eye.
53-54) A ring carved from jade depicts a might tiger which moves around the wearer’s finger, and bites its own tail.
55-56) This ring of platinum has numerous small images engraved on the outside of it. They depict a woman in many stages of life. Being born, learning to walk, growing into a woman, fighting mighty battles, bearing children, growing old, and finally dying.
57-58) The signet of this jade ring is an elaborate flower, made of numerous gems. Rubies and saphires make two layers of petals, wrapping around a large amber stone in the center. Within the amber is a petrified bee.
59-60) A delicate brass ring shaped to look like a feather, bent so the end of the vane meets the quill.
61-62) Carved from ivory, this ring looks like a tiny dragon’s skull, with the wearer’s finger going through the skull’s mouth.
63-64) A delicate ring carved from platinum to resemble a royal tiara, which fits around a finger instead of a head.
65-66) A wooden ring, thick with bark on the outside. At the crest of the ring, where a gem would normally sit, grows a thick pad of damp moss.
67-68) This smooth ring carved from jade has two arms extending from its crest. Between their hands, the arms hold a small ball of glass.
69-70) Upon the crest of this red stone ring rests a bird exquisitely carved from sapphire.
71-72) Two iron rings connected by a chain of finest mithril. If worn on adjacent fingers, this does not affect dexterity.
73-74) A band cut directly from a sapphire. At the crest of the ring, a tiny copper ship rests, as though it were drifting on a sapphire sea.
75-76) The signet of the ring appears to be a spider laying dead on its back. The spider’s 8 curling legs clasp tightly to a white pearl.
77-78) A goblin’s face graces the crest of this iron ring. He grins widely, and three small rubies are clasped in his mouth.
79-80) This ring of mithril has two circlets, attached together by a long, articulated piece of mithril artistry, made to look like the top side of a dragon’s talon. When worn, this will cover the wearer’s entire finger.
81-82) The crest of this ring is a large square space, where a large pyramidal piece of obsidian is embedded, and held in place by four demon hands clawing it; one from each corner of the square.
83-84) This bizarre platinum band is a sort of ‘reverse signet ring.’ A large oval pad contains some type of firmly affixed clay. The clay can be smoothed over by working it with your finger for a moment, then pressed to an object so it can take its shape.
85-86) This golden ring is topped with a large half-sphere of amber. Flanges of gold protrude in every direction around the amber, like rays from the sun.
87-88) A band of wood with a raised, rectangular opening along the top edge of the ring. Small pieces of ivory have been fitted into this opening, resembling bared teeth.
89-90) A tiny shield of steel is mounted atop this otherwise simple ring of silver.
91-92) An axe blade rises from the crest of this mithril ring. It is quite sharp, and may cause the wearer some incontinent cuts from time to time.
93-94) Both the inside, and the outside edge of the ring are covered in engravings which resemble a top-down map of a city. The city is not known to the players, nor to anyone they take the ring to. It must either be of another world, or so ancient that it has been forgotten entirely.
95-96) This ring is made of layered metals, wrapped one atop the other. The wearer’s finger contacts the ring’s gold, band, atop which is wrapped silver, then brass, and finally platinum.
97-98) Two dozen protruding stems rise from the crest of this platinum band. Atop each stem is a different gemstone: ruby, emerald, obsidian, amber, sapphire, and so on.
99-100) A very tiny candlestick is mounted on the crest of this brass ring. A very tiny candle could be mounted there, though it wouldn’t be very useful, and would likely be a burning hazard.

Seven Cursed Items for Fun & Profit

The Evil Queen gives Snow White the poison apple--a classic cursed item.
Image from Disney’s 1937 “Snow White”

Greed’s Guilt – Golden coins of slightly larger than normal diameter, with a small ruby inlaid into a cavity in the center. They appear to be particularly valuable, and are likely worth more than standard gold coins if you can find the right collector for them. These cursed coins were actually made by a church of a goodly and lawful deity, whose clergy wished to punish the sin of greed by crafting an item of obvious value, which harm the owner.

For as long as these coins are within a character’s possession, whether they are currently being held, or are in a bank in the character’s name, the owner is cursed. They must roll a will save each night, with a DC equal to the number of Greed’s Guilt Coins possessed. Upon failure, the character cannot fall asleep by any natural means. They incur all of the penalties which would normally be associated with not sleeping, such as slower traveling speed, fatigue penalties on rolls, and an inability to prepare spells if they are a caster.

If an unnatural means is used to put the character to bed (such as a Sleep spell) then they will succeed in making the character unconscious. However, the sleep will not be restful at all. When they awaken, the character will feel as though no time has passed, and they will still incur all the normal penalties from not sleeping.

The Golden Quill – A fine writing implement, the size of a standard scribe’s quill, with a plume of fine golden strands, and a cap of the finest silver craftsmanship. This is obviously a piece of only the very highest quality, and is doubtless quite valuable. The origin of these quills is unknown, but the most common educated guess is that they were painstakingly crafted in the depths of the Abyss to sow seeds of discord amongst the mortal kingdoms. It is a good guess.

Once every 1d4 days, the possessor of a Golden Quill will use it to pen a letter to some friend or ally. In this letter, they will do everything they can to harm their relationship with that person. They will bring up their friend’s every failing, reopen every old wound, and curse their fellow’s very existence. Once the letter is written, they will do whatever they need to do to have it delivered promptly. If they are in the wilderness, they will store the letter pending their return to civilization. The curse of the Golden Quill allows no saving throw, and the writer of the hurtful letters will have no memory of writing them. Even if the quill leaves their possession, they will continue to ignore the letters hidden in their pack, and will dutifully have them delivered once it is possible.

Boots of Great Movement – A pair of finely crafted boots constructed from red-dyed leather and silk, with an intricate stitching of a wing on each heel. They appear to be luxuriously comfortable, and still very durable footwear. Anyone who wears these boots has their maximum movement speed increased by 15, but finds that they cannot stop moving. Every round, the character must move at least 10ft. The Boots of Great Movement cannot be removed without the use of a Remove Curse spell.

Rod of Lightning – This rod of blue glass appears to be a simple enough magic item. When directed at a foe and waggled up and down, an arc of electricity jumps from its tip to the target, dealing 1d6 damage. Targets are allowed a reflex save, DC 17, to take half damage. The Rod of Lightning is not a fancy magic item, but it does perform its task adequately.

However, if a character carrying the Rod of Lightning on their person is ever outdoors during a storm, then at least once they will be struck by a bolt of lightning from the sky, dealing 10d6 damage. It is likely that this will need to occur twice or more before the character will realize they are not merely the victim of a random occurrence. Even then, it may be difficult to deduce that the rod is responsible.

These devious items were crafted by a group of fundamentalist shamans. They wished to teach a lesson to anyone arrogant enough to think that the elements could be controlled with magic.

The Finishing Blade – This +3 longsword appears black in color, with a green shimmer if held under the light. The weapon deals an additional 3d6 negative energy damage to any target who has less than 20 hp remaining. While this at first appears to be an effective weapon, particularly when fighting against weaker opponents, it–of course–has a drawback.

Any living creature which is slain by this weapon rises as an undead monster precisely one month later. They retain all of the knowledge and abilities which they possessed in life, but gain the “undead” and “incorporeal” subtypes. Beings reanimated by The Finishing Blade’s curse have only one goal: to seek out the one who killed them, and force that person to join them in death. These creatures have a sixth sense which allows them to always be aware of their target’s current position relative to themselves. And they are absolutely relentless in their search.

Scabbard of Protection On one side of this leather scabbard, the material is dyed a deep red, whilst on the other it is a deep blue. The two colors are highlighted with gold, which is intricately shaped around the edges to create a supporting frame. The size and shape of the scabbard will change to suite any blade inserted into it. This is no mere work of mystic artistry, however. It also grants fast healing 1 to any who wear it. Upon strapping the scabbard to their body, an adventurer will immediately feel life flowing into them, and energizing them.

They may not even notice that every damage roll made against them is subject to a +5 bonus while the scabbard is worn.

The Lantern Beneath the Nose No one really understands the design of this lantern when they first lay eyes upon it. At the top, there is a hollow nose shaped from iron. A horizontal handle inside of it allows it to be held not unlike a buckler. Two chains descend from the nostrils, with a small lantern suspended about 1ft down.

Strange as it appears, however, adventurers who discover it are quickly excited by its power. When the handle is gripped, the lantern immediately lights up, and magically fills the entire room the wielder is in with light. Regardless of its size, or the position of objects which would normally create shadows. The entire room is magically illuminated.

As the light fills the room, however, it also casts a spell of greater invisibility upon any creatures of evil alignment.

Magical Marvels 7: The Son’s Service

Zalekios Gromar's Kukri - The Son's Service. Art by cbMorrieAt long last, a return to my ongoing series of weapons which appeared in my Ascendant Crusade campaign. When this series left off in February, I posted about The Glare of Vecna. Prior to that I posted Gravewhisper’s Claw, Wallcraft’s Offerings and Kofek’s Tongue. All of those weapons, and now this one as well, were illustrated by my ladyfriend. You should check out more of her art on her DeviantArt page.

WARNING: This post covers material which is significantly darker than what normally appears on this blog. I’m not kidding, this gets very grim.

The Son’s Service
Artifact Kukri


(Kukri)(Attack) +5
(Kukri)(Damage) 1d4 + 5 (Slashing)(18-20/x3)


4/Day – As a standard action, the wielder can ‘cut’ a door in the air with the blade, creating a Dimensional Door which allows the wielder to instantly travel up to 30ft.

1/Day – The caster can spend 1 minute scratching a door into a stone surface. When the door is completed, stepping through it will cause the effects of a Plane Shift spell for 1 minute. The plane the wielder wishes to travel to must be whispered to the blade before the creation of the door is begun. Anyone can step through the door, even enemies of the caster, so long as they do so within 1 minute of the door’s completion.

1/Week – If the hilt of the blade is held so the eyes of the skull meet the eyes of a helpless opponent, then the wielder may speak the trigger phrase “Love is weakness.” When this is done, a brief light will flash in the skull’s eyes. The victim’s dearest loved one must then succeed on a DC: 14 fortitude save against death. On a successful save, they still take 3d6 pain-based damage. When this happens, the victim will hear their loved one’s cries of pain, and suffers a -6 morale penalty to all rolls for the rest of the day. (This is based off of the Love’s Pain corrupt spell in the D&D 3.0 Book of Vile Darkness)

1/Week – If the hilt of the blade is held so that the skull is pressed against the heart of a victim, then the jaws of the skull will bite into the victim’s breast, tearing away a small bit of flesh. The victim will then immediately drop to -8 HP, and stabilize. No saving throw is allowed against this attack, however if the victim is wearing any kind of armor it is impossible. Making this attack in combat is extremely difficult, and works as a melee attack roll made with a -4 penalty. (No weapon bonuses are included in this attack roll, as the attack is not made with the weapon’s blade.) (This is based off of the Stop Heart spell in the D&D 3.0 Book of Vile Darkness)


  • Anarchic Physical attacks against lawful creatures are made at a +2 bonus, and deal an additional 2d6 damage. (Cumulative effect with Goodbane)
  • Goodbane Physical attacks against good creatures are made at a +2 bonus, and deal an additional 2d6 damage. (Cumulative effect with Anarchic)
  • Ghost Touch Physical attacks deal normal damage against incorporeal creatures.
  • Stolen Youth The wielder’s aging is slowed to 1/3rd the normal rate. Any effects which would magically drain the user’s age are only 1/3rd as effective.
  • Gift of Agony The Intelligence of The Son’s Service suffers constant anguish over the tragedy of its creation. Once per day, it can transfer this pain to a victim through a touch attack, dealing 4d6 damage. If it has been lying dormant for awhile, it may choose to inflict this attack on the first person to pick it up.
  • Bodysnatcher If the blade is buried into the brain of a corpse, then The Son’s Service gains full control of that body, and any abilities it had in life. The blade’s first impulse will be to escape from its owner, and an ego check must be made to command the weapon to obey. Another ego check must be made if any attempt to remove the blade is made.


EGO 32; INT 19 (+4) WIS 10 (+4) CHA 19 (+4)
Senses Darkvision 120ft, Blindsense, Hearing; Communication Speech, Telepathy
Languages Common, Abyssal, Vasharan
Alignment Chaotic Evil
Purpose The Son’s Service is a psychopath. It is constantly driven to perform vile, and harmful deeds. Most often directed towards lawful, or good characters. It loves nothing more than to be used as an implement of torture and slaughter.


The Son’s Service is a Kukri about 4 and 1/2 feet long from the end of the pommel to the tip of the blade. The entire thing appears to be made of bleached white bones. The hilt is made of a series of vertebrae, which end in a pointed pommel. The hilt of the weapon is a very small skull, and the blade protrudes from the crest of that skull. Upon close inspection, someone familiar with anatomy might recognize the blade as a warped rib-bone, which has been flattened and sharpened. Though normally dark, the eye sockets of the blade occasionally take on a faint glow when the weapon is focusing its attention.


The origins of the blade known as The Son’s Service are as dark and depraved as the master it was crafted to serve: Zalekios Gromar.

After the murder of his father, Zalekios was raised by the succubus, Setya. The demon knew how to feed young Zalekios’ psychopathy, and gleefully encouraged him in his childish pursuits of murder and mayhem. As he grew, Setya artfully crafted her Vasharan son into a weapon. A mortal man with all the rage and power of a demon. When he reached maturity, Setya bore for him twin children. One, a girl, she named Reizalla; destined to succeed Zalekios’ as Setya’s agent of chaos. The other, a boy, was sacrificed in a ritual so vile that it tainted the very air around it. Even centuries later, those who unwittingly stumble into the location where the ritual was performed find themselves choking and coughing as though breathing smoke.

The succubus then used powerful magics to twist and reshape the dead child’s fragile bones into a blade. One so strong it could crack steel. She dubbed the blade “The Son’s Service,” and gave it to Zalekios as a parting gift when he went forth into the world to spread chaos and death. Immediately upon accepting the blade, Zalekios could hear it cursing him in his mind. The weapon hated him with a pure malevolence, the like of which has never existed before or since. If it could, the weapon would destroy the father who cavalierly accepted the corpse of his own son as a gift. But it could not. In fact, the weapon could never take any action, or inaction, which would harm Zalekios. Nor could it even attempt to disobey him–such was the curse of the vile rituals Setya had performed.

Zalekios’ created a path of destruction throughout the world for decades. He murdered children or parents, he schemed to topple kingdoms, he did whatever would cause suffering. And always, The Son’s Service was by his side, opening the wounds which fed Zalekios’ blood soaked path. Were it not for the rancour the blade felt for its master, these would have been the happiest times of its psychopathic existence. Eventually, when Zalekios allied himself with The Whispered Queen, there was much less killing to do. She demanded a greater amount of subtlety from her companions than The Son’s Service would have liked.

Many years passed in the Whispered Queen’s service, and Zalekios grew restless. He chafed at taking orders from a woman he knew he could kill, and viewed her goals of bringing order to the world as perverse. But he could not stand against her. Powerful as he was, he knew how fiercely loyal the Queen’s other companions were. Even he would fall before their combined might. He brought to her a compromise: turn her forces on the Abyss. Let him lead her armies against the demon lord, Graz’zt. Zalekios would usurp the Demon Prince, and claim his throne for himself. Once he was a demon lord, Zalekios could spread chaos throughout the multiverse, and would have no desire to meddle in the affairs of the material plane. Besides–he argued–it couldn’t hurt to have a demon lord as a friend.

The Whispered Queen agreed, and began preparing her forces for a march into the abyss itself. The titanic army overran Graz’zt’s outer defenses, and penetrated deep into the demon lord’s Argent Palace. They reached the center of Graz’zt’s power, and with victory within his grasp, Zalekios charged the demon prince. But The Whispered Queen advanced no further. She and her forces stood in silence as Zalekios and those loyal to him were torn to pieces and devoured by demons.

The Queen had taken Zalekios’ advice to heart. It couldn’t hurt to have a demon lord as a friend.

After Zalekios’ demise, The Son’s Service was given to Reizalla for her part in the betrayal. But she found that the blade hated her for being the surviving twin almost as much as it hated Zalekios for being responsible for its existence. And the weapon was not magically compelled to obey her as it had been for their father. Reizalla traded the weapon to a balor, and ever since it has traded hands from one demon to another. Likely it now resides in the treasure vault of one mighty demon or another, yearning to draw blood once more.

May of the Dead: Undead Items

A Hero with a Jabbering Prophet (Actually "David with Goliath" by Caravaggio) It’s Friday again, which means it’s time for another undead-themed post as part of the May of the Dead Blog Carnival! This week’s entry is a new type of magic item which I call an “Undead Item.”

An Undead Item is not simply a magic item with an undead theme. Plenty of magic items have skull or death motifs, and many have effects which are related to undead. But though these items have an obvious connection to undeath, they are not themselves undead items. An undead item has an un-life all its own. While not necessarily intelligent, undead items are created by taking dead matter (such as a limb from a corpse) and empowering it with negative energy through an evil crafting ritual which creates–in essence–a very simple undead creature. A creature which usually cannot move or act on its own, but which instead serves to bestow its powers upon whoever wields it.

It is important to note that while many undead items are named for more well recognized types of undead creatures, the item itself is not necessarily made from that creature. In fact, as with other forms of undead, an undead cannot normally be created from a corpse which has ever been animated before.

Zombie Juice This swirling red concoction comes in vials of about 6 ounces each. If it is imbibed, then unintelligent undead will view the user as ‘one of them’ for one hour per ounce which is consumed. Zombies, skeletons, and other such creatures will not attack the user unless specifically direct to do so by their master. And, in such a case, commands such as “destroy the human!” will not work. The undead creature’s master must very specifically indicate which creature is to be attacked.

If anyone wishes to consume more than 6 ounces at a time, they must succeed on a constitution check (DC: 12 + the number of ounces over 6 which are being consumed). Failure causes the user to be incapacitated for 10 minutes while they violently vomit. After 5 minutes of vomiting, the any effects gained by the Zombie Juice disappear, and the incapacitated user is subject to attacks from unintelligent undead.

Crafting Materials: Blood from an intelligent creature which was alive when the blood was taken but has since died, Unholy Water

Deadman’s Gaze A Deadman’s Gaze appears as an eyeball wrapped in flesh, with eyelids intact. It sleeps much of the time when it is not in use, but occasionally looks around on its own, taking in its surroundings. From the back of the orb protrudes a 20ft long ocular nerve, thick and tough like a rope. Anyone whose skin comes in contact with this ocular nerve will see whatever the Deadman’s Gaze sees so long as their own eyes are closed. Whoever holds the end of the ocular nerve will also be able to control the eye, opening and closing it, and looking in whatever direction they desire.

The eye’s primary use is to scout dangerous areas without putting the user in jeopardy. It has also occasionally been used as a torture device, since it can be used to force someone to watch something they wish to look away from, even when their eyes are closed. One of its most useful applications is as an impromptu nighttime guardian. Someone holding the ocular nerve and closing their eyes will not find it difficult to sleep. They will see what the eye sees as though it is a noiseless dream. The eye will attempt to observe everything it can from wherever it is positioned, and will focus on anything which visually seems threatening, but it cannot sense audio indicators of danger.

Crafting Materials: The eye of a humanoid creature, a sliver of brain tissue from a humanoid creature, an ounce of freshly shorn humanoid skin, 20ft of finely crafted rope.

Dead Messenger This simple skull and jawbone can record any message which is whispered into its “ear.” Once the message has been spoken, a set of necromatic command words are used to determine when the message should be activated. The parameters of its activation must be relatively simple, such as:

  • A command word, or phrase is uttered within “earshot” of the Dead Messenger.
  • A creature of a certain type comes within 20ft of the Dead Messenger.
  • When the area the skull is in becomes illuminated.

When the parameters are met, the Dead Messenger will then repeat the message in its own, guttural, clattering voice. It will continue to do this, repeating the message any time the parameters are met, until it is given a new message set of necromatic commands.

Crafting Materials: One skull and jawbone from the same creature, one silver piece placed between the skull and jawbone.

Food Taster This un-decomposing humanoid tongue is wet with saliva. Though it is not necessary, many are mounted on a handle, since it is unpleasant to hold them in your hand. When a Food Taster is touched to a substance, it will turn green if that substance would have a negative chemical or biological reaction to the user’s body. It can be used to detect any kind of poison, whether it is an ingested, inhaled, intravenous, or contact poison. It can also be used to locate dangerous diseases by touching it to an infected individual. Note that this item cannot be used to determine any information about a dangerous substance, only that the substance is dangerous to the user. Note also that if the user is immune to a substance which might be dangerous to others, the Food Taster will will not turn green in the presence of that substance.

Crafting Materials: One humanoid tongue from a creature who was killed by a poison, venom, or disease.

Grip of Despair Two skeletal hands connected by a single radius and ulna (the bones of the forearm). When not in use, the hands clasp and unclasp, or waggle their fingers, looking for something to grab hold of. When placed on the arms or legs of a small or medium creature, the Grip of Despair functions as a pair of masterwork manacles. In addition to binding a creature, the Grip of Despair cause any creature they grab hold of to act as though Shaken for as long as the manacles are on. No saving throw against this effect is allowed, though creatures which are immune to fear effects are not affected. In addition, any creature bound by a Grip of Despair takes a -2 on all will saves, with an additional -2 for any will save against fear.

Crafting Materials: Two skeletal hands (one left, one right), one skeletal forearm.

Spinal Column Scimitar This +1 scimitar, composed entirely of vertebrae, pulsates with negative energy. When not in use, it can occasionally be seen flexing back and forth with its limited mobility. On a successful hit, the victim must succeed on a fortitude save (DC: 18) or be paralyzed for 6 rounds. Even on a successful saving throw, the victim will be paralyzed for 1 round.

Crafting Materials: The spinal column of a paralyzed humanoid.

Funeral Procession Carriage The body of this carriage has a largely normal construction–though many are ornamented with depictions of skulls or other deathly imagery. It differs from a normal carriage in that it has no wheels, nor any harness for horses. Instead, the carriage is supported and propelled by row after row of skeletal legs which move in unison. Each pair of legs is mounted to a pelvic bone, which is mounted directly into the bottom of the carriage’s coach compartment. The legs are speedy and agile, which allows the Funeral Procession Carriage to move faster, and across more difficult terrain than most carriages could manage.The legs are also capable of shifting to a kneeling position to facilitate easy entry and exit from the carriage.

In order to function properly, the skulls associated with each pair of legs must be included in the construction of the coach. This is sometimes accomplished by mounting the skulls on the carriage, but more often the skulls are broken into smaller pieces, and their shards embedded in the wood used to construct the coach. The shards are spread evenly throughout all the wood of the carriage, and so long as one skull fragment from a given skull remains as part of the coach, the associated legs will continue to function. This prevents minor damage from disabling any of the legs.

Most necromancers are able to control a Funeral Procession Carriage using necromatic command words. Most of these carriages are also designed to accept any commands spoken by someone within the the cabin, though some are intended for use as prisoner transports, and do not include this function.

Crafting Materials: One carriage, at least twenty skeletons (four rows, five columns. Torsos are not required), the brain of a carriage driver.

Jabbering Prophet An un-decomposed head with emeralds embedded in each eye socket. The stump where the neck would normally connect to the head is capped with a metal plate which has been bolted in place. The jabbering prophet speaks constantly about things which seem to be of little or no importance. In fact, these nonsensical utterances are a constant stream of information about the past, present, or future of random creatures which exist throughout the multiverse. Were anyone able to record and catalog all of this information, it would no doubt reveal a great many secrets, but the task would be an impossibly monumental undertaking.

Once every hour, the jabbering prophet pauses for 30 seconds, then its emerald ‘eyes’ look towards someone within its field of vision, and it speaks a prophecy relevant to that individual. This effect can be controlled by facing the jabbering prophet towards a specific individual, and ensuring that no one else stands within the head’s field of vision. The prophecy which is spoken will most often relate to events which can take place within an hour’s time, but occasionally an event of great importance which may not happen for many years will be prophesied. Examples of such prophecies include:

  • If you travel south, you will be ambushed by orcs.
  • If you visit the elves, a blade in hand will be more deadly to you than to your enemies.
  • The Duke of Elloron will deceive you thrice when you meet.

Aside from the pause it takes each hour, the jabbering prophet never stops speaking, though it does know to whisper if its wielder is attempting to be quiet. This causes a -6 penalty on all stealth checks. The sound of the prophet’s speaking can be muffled by cloth, or magically silenced. However, if the jabbering prophet is ever physically forced not to speak (such as with a muzzle) then it will strain to speak until it destroys itself.

Crafting Materials: The head of a diviner 12th level or higher, two emeralds with a spell of True Seeing cast upon them.

May of the Dead Banner

Unusual Magic Item Types

King Arthur, in a boat with Merlin, reaches for Excalibur, held aloft by the Lady of the LakeI’ve been feeling mentally drained lately, so I’m gonna keep things light around here for awhile. Fewer 2000 word posts where I try to suss out Pathfinder’s platonic ideal, more brief posts which don’t require much sussing at all. There has been an overabundance of sussing in my life, as of late. Doctor told me to cut back.

I’ve always liked the idea of odd magical items. In fact, I’ve occasionally made a game out of giving my players the most absolutely useless magical items I could imagine, just to see how they would use them. They always seem to manage it somehow. Magic Items 01, from Order of the Stick by Rich BerlewOne of my best is rope which immediately unties any knot as soon as the slightest amount of tension is placed upon it. But my favorite kind of unusual magic item is a type of item which is not normally magical at all. Weapons, armor, capes, and rings are almost magical by default in a Pathfinder world, while many other items are rarely even checked for dweomers. If you find a tapestry depicting a battle, rolled up in a dungeon, you’re likely going to view it as mundane treasure. But what if the tapestry is the result of an epic-level “Time Stop” spell cast upon a battlefield? If dispelled, the combatants depicted on the tapestry would suddenly appear in the room, and continue their fight.

So lets jump into some of the types I’ve come up with:

Scabbards: It is a little known fact that the scabbard of Excalibur was actually much more valuable than the sword itself. I’m not exactly an Arthurian scholar, but none of the texts I’ve read paint Excalibur as anything other than a very good sword. In some stories it’s maybe a +1 Longsword, whilst in the film named for the blade, it might be as much as a +5. But that’s hardly impressive as magical items go. Excalibur’s scabbard, however, may be the most powerful magic represented in Arthurian myth. Any who wore it could not be wounded. Arthur would have been invincible, had he not allowed his sister Morgana Le Fay, to borrow the scabbard so she could “appreciate its beauty.” By which she meant “have someone make a copy, then throw the real one into a lake.”

Giving a character an item which makes the invulnerable might be pushing it, but there’s no reason other magical affects couldn’t be granted by a scabbard. Fast healing, for example. Perhaps there could even be some manner of trade-off with the sword. When the sword is sheathed, the scabbard grants fast healing 10, or protection from arrows, or whatever. When the sword is drawn, the magic of the scabbard is reduced in power, or ends altogether. That could make the decision to engage an enemy much more relevant.

Tattoos: This one shows up now and again in various supplements–usually ones with an asian theme for some reason. Perhaps there is some originating mythology for magical tattoos found in asian cultures which I am unaware of. I don’t really care where it came from, it’s an awesome idea, and needs to be more prominent within fantasy. Whether it’s a tattoo of a magical beast which can “jump off” your body and aid you in battle, or something more mundane, it fits in with nearly any kind of setting where magic exists. And the possibilities are too numerous to name! What about a tattoo of an eye on the tip of your finger, which you could see out of by closing your eyes? Useful for looking around corners. What if clerics got their god’s holy symbol tattooed on their chests? It could never be taken away when you were captured. I once made a character who had tattoos of short swords on her forearms, and in a pinch she could reach “into” her arms and pull a masterwork short sword out of each.

Cosmetics: While on the subject of markings on the body, what about makeup? Not exactly the kind of thing we imagine a rough-and-tumble adventurer to be interested in, but adventurers aren’t always lacking in refinement. And even those who are lacking in refinement must often deal with the upper classes of society. Mayors, nobles, kings and queens; any or all might try to fool the adventurers with Lipstick of Lying. Or they could try to hypnotize the party with Mesmerizing Mascara.

"The Spoils of War - Dividing Treasure in D&D" from Dragon Magazine 327, by Jeff Carlisle

Piercings & Misc Jewelry: I honestly don’t understand why piercings are ignored by the rules. Earrings could be as versatile as Fingerrings. And a piercing could go any number of places! What about a tongue stud that made a wizard immune to any effect which would interfere with their spell’s verbal components? A belly ring could allow an adventurer to stave off hunger for weeks. Many types of obscure jewelry could be magical, in fact. Many cultures wear combs in their hair, and ancient Mayans used to replace some of their teeth with Jade. Tooth of Vecna, anyone?

Rations: We’ve all read Lord of the Rings, right? Or, at the very least, seen those films which were so popular? Lambas bread was a major plot point in the books, but you really don’t see anything like that in RPGs. This one might be more justifiable, simply because of the plethora of ways to avoid the need for rations in a basic D&D game. Clerics gain the ability to summon food and water pretty early on, and even if the party doesn’t have a cleric, bags of holding make it easy to carry a few month’s worth of rations with no problem. But still, you would think they’d put some rules for magic elven rations in the core rulebook.

Simple Tools: Hammers, Picks, Saws, etc could be enchanted to do their job exceptionally well. A saw which can cut down a tree in under a minute, or a pick which reduces an hour’s worth of work to a single swing. These items would have no combat benefits, but would make some types of work go much faster. This would be particularly useful to give to workers as they were constructing a stronghold.

What are some unusual magic item types you’ve encountered, or come up with for your own games?

Also, buttplug of protection +2. Because I can.

Magical Marvels 6: Succubic Shield

Succubus by Teddy Wright
Image Courtesy of landoftwiv.blogspot.com

Going through some old notes recently, I discovered the character sheet for a succubus named Setya. She’s the mother of the notorious Zalekios Gromar, and a former general in the Blood War under Malcanthet. After being taken as a prisoner of war, she was disgraced in her lady’s eyes, and ventured to the material plane to seek redemption. It was there that she sired Zalekios, and began shaping him into a paragon of chaos, which she hoped would please Malcanthet. On the character sheet I found a number of magical items I had created specifically for Setya, including this shield which I thought was interesting enough to share with all of you.

Succubic Shield
Heavy Reinforced-Silver Shield


AC Bonus +4 [Shield(2) + Deflection Enchantment(2)]
Construction The shield is composed of silver, reinforced by mithril.
Arcane Spell Failure Chance 15%
Armor Check Penalty -1
(Shield Spike)(Attack) (Treat as one-handed, martial weapon)
(Shield Spike)(Damage)  1d6 (Piercing)(20/x2)


  • Anyone who takes damage from the shield spike must make a DC 17 fortitude save. Failure indicates that the shield successfully inserts a tiny demonic parasite into the victim. This parasite immediately bestows one negative level on the victim. The parasite then remains dormant for 9 months before it awakens. The host is then entitled to another DC 17 fortitude save, or the parasite bestows another negative level on the host, before going dormant for another 9 months. This continues until either the host is dead, or the parasite is destroyed. The parasite cannot be discovered by divination magics. Removal of the parasite is difficult. The simplest method is to cast a spell of 6th level or higher with the [Good] descriptor on the host.  However, if the host is able to save against three of the parasite’s level drains in a row, the parasite dies of starvation.


The surface of the shield is deeply embossed with intricate imagery. The center of the shield is dominated by a man, depicted as helpless against a flock of succubi which surround him. Each entices him in different ways: power, wealth, numerous permutations of lust. The shield spike extends from between the man’s legs, and is engraved to resemble a phallus–though the conical spike shape is not significantly altered by these engravings.


A succubic shield is an item of exceeding rarity. They are only forged for those succubi who both participate in the blood war, and who choose to do so as members of the martial classes rather than as spellcasters. In all likelihood, the only way a party would encounter an item such as this would be to participate in the Blood War themselves. However, a handful of mortals, after doing just that, have managed to return to the material plane with a succubic shield. So in rare cases, it is possible to encounter these items in treasure hordes, or collections or rarities. It is also possible that one might encounter a succubus on the material plane who carries a succubic shield.


Mortals live and die. Empires rise and fall. Planets are born only to crumble again into nothingness. Even planes occasionally fold into themselves, or merge with other planes, reshaping the face of existence. And through it all, the Blood War rages on. The wild hordes of the abyss clash with the regiments of the nine hells without end. Sometimes one gains the advantage, sometimes the other, yet neither can ever hold it for long enough to claim victory. Neither side can relent, nor would either side ever want to. Only the gods remember when the conflict began, and not even they can guess what would happen if it ended. Some surmise that all war is merely a reflection of this one eternal conflict–others think that preoccupation with the Blood War is all that stops either side from completely overrunning the rest of the multiverse.

Every type of demonic and diabolic creature is represented in this conflict. From the mighty balors, to the lowly quaists, every vile creature has a role to play, including succubi. On this merciless battlefield, however, the seductive charms of a succubus are of little use. Most relegate themselves to supporting roles, serving as scouts and spies. Many others tap into their innate sorcerous abilities to serve as battlecasters. Some few succubi prefer to get their hands dirty. Those few train themselves in the skills of martial combat–often as anti-paladins–and wade into the thick of combat swinging a sword or flail. It was for these fearsome warriors that the succubic shield was first commissioned.

Designed by a succubus anti-paladin who had risen to the rank of general; the succubic shield pays homage to the succubus’ primary skillset–with a cruel twist. Oftentimes those injured by this shield’s wicked spike overhear a mumbled comment about “sticking it in,” or “just the tip.” The demonic creatures take great delight in inflicting a deadly ‘pregnancy’ in others, though they rarely speak about it in mixed company. Even with other demons they are cautious, hoping that the long gestation period of the parasite will prevent anyone from realizing that it is their shields which plants it. The secret of the shield’s construction is a closely guarded secret as well, known only to a handful of smiths on the 570th layer of the Abyss.

Note: This entire post is completely overshadowed by Tim Wright’s remarkable succubus art. Damn.

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