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.
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:
- The item occasionally—and seemingly randomly—radiates light equal to that of a candle. The owner cannot control when this light appears or disappears.
- 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.
- Shadows cluster thickly about the item, creating an aura of gloom and a faint feeling of foreboding for the owner, whenever it is used.
- The item is 50% heavier than normal, but otherwise appears normal.
- 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.
- The owner’s finger and toe nails grow at a prodigious rate; necessitating their trimming on almost a daily basis.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.Animals hate the item’s smell.
- Domesticated animals—horses, cows and so on—avoid the owner whenever possible; other animals such as dogs react aggressively to the item’s presence.
- Something strange happened during the item’s creation. The crafter used some kind of esoteric grey-coloured oil in its creation. Occasionally, the item oozes this oil which makes it slippery and stains nearby items.
- When the item’s power is called forth, the temperature plunges in the immediate surrounds. Frost forms on the object itself and the owner can see his breath in the air. The temperature returns to normal after a few minutes.
- When used, the item becomes tremendously hot. It scorches unprotected skin and takes ten minutes to cool down.
- The item draws some of its power from its possessor’s life force. Whenever its power is called forth, the owner suffers a terrible headache and takes 1 point of damage.
- The smell of burning wood hangs in the air around the item. Creatures with a good sense of smell can detect the owner from twice the normal distance (unless other stronger smells fill the air).
- While possessing the item, the owner sleeps badly and often has bags under her eyes.
- Calling forth the item’s powers causes the owner’s ears to ring as if she had been exposed to repeated loud noise.
- The item is crafted from some kind of strange or repellant material. A scroll could be scribed on flayed skin, a wand could comprise a carved bone wand and so on.
- The item’s previous owner was beset by misery and depression. In his last few minutes of life (before his violent death) his feelings of negativity imprinted themselves on the item. Now in times of high stress, the item psychically radiates the feelings onto its owner.
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20 Minor Drawbacks for Magic Items appears in 20 Things # 18: Troublesome Treasures.
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