10 Minor Drawbacks for Magic Items

Magic items are great. Adventurers crave them and learned spellcasters charge exorbitant fees to craft them for their wealthy clients. Sometimes, though—for some reason or another—the magic item has some minor drawback or another.

By William McAusland

By William McAusland


Such drawbacks are not normally life-threatening; rather they add a sense of uniqueness to the item in question. Alternatively, these drawbacks could serve as a subtle clues to otherwise hidden, unguessable powers.

Use the table below, to determine the item’s minor drawback:

  1. The item occasionally—and seemingly randomly—radiates light equal to that of a candle. The owner cannot control when this light appears or disappears.
  2. This item’s crafter was a glutton. During the crafting process he transferred some of his cravings to the item. Thus, the owner almost always feels hungry. His appetite would put a starving halfling’s to shame.
  3. Shadows cluster thickly about the item, creating an aura of gloom and a faint feeling of foreboding for the owner, whenever it is used.
  4. The item is 50% heavier than normal, but otherwise appears normal.
  5. When in use, the item often glows with a random bright light. Roll 1d8: 1—red, 2—orange, 3—yellow, 4—green, 5—blue, 6—indigo, 7—violet, 8—no colour. This makes hiding or using the item surreptitiously difficult at best.
  6. The owner’s finger and toe nails grow at a prodigious rate; necessitating their trimming on almost a daily basis.
  7. When the item is held or worn, bright light dazzles the owner and makes her eyes water in a similar way to how drow suffer in bright light.
  8. At some point in the past, the item was exposed to a smell anathema to dogs. Dogs and wolves will not willingly approach the owner. Indeed, they bark and bare their teeth if the item’s owner approaches them.
  9. Whenever the item’s owner uses its power, he hears a faint whispering coming from some indefinable source. The whispering is too quiet to make out any actual words and no one else can hear it.
  10. Owning the item proves disastrous for the possessor’s hair. Over the first few weeks of ownership, the owner’s hair turns progressively greyer. After a month, it begins to fall out. Getting rid of the item reverses this process over a similar amount of time.

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This article will appear in GM’s Miscellany: 20 Things II, available in March 2017. For more, check out our Free Resources page.

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