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.