20 Magical Items for a Low Magic D&D Campaign

I am currently in a transitional stage between my old Dungeons and Dragons campaign and my new D&D game. Amongst the changes are in a change in edition (1st edition to 2nd edition), a change in timeline (bronze age to iron age), and a change of campaign scale (large epic to small sandbox).

In addition to those changes, my goals are to make the new campaign more based on skills, heavier roleplaying (80% RP / 20% hack n slash), and to make it a low magic campaign with more details about the magical crafting process (ingredients et al).

Magical items thus become a matter of game balance, as there will still be magical items, but they will be comparatively low powered and rare. My old game wasn't "high magic", but more moderate in the context of "whatever the book says it is and we roll randomly as per the book".

To further this goal of a low magic game, combined with the heavier emphasis on making a skill-based campaign, I have decided to make a list of 20 magical items that work with various skills that add to the flavour of a low magic game.

Note - I should also mention that there is a difference between a "Low Magic Campaign", a "Very Low Magic Campaign", a "Rare Magic Campaign" and a "Zero Magic Campaign". It is a sliding scale obviously. Zero Magic means magic doesn't exist. Zip, Zero, Nada. Rare Magic means that magic exists, but is so rare that very few people ever see magic at all. In a world with dragons, demons and beholders, making magic so rare is unbalanced however and thus you have to balance the availability of magic with the availability of magical creatures. Very low magic means that magic is very uncommon - not impossible to see, but few and far between. A Low Magic Campaign thus means any campaign in which magic exists, but it is held in check demographically and is uncommon - equally as uncommon as magical creatures. This allows the DM some leg room in my opinion to have geographical regions where magic is rare and other regions where magic is more common, with regions where magic is varying degrees between there. A small village for example might only have 1 person who knows anything about magic. Two if they are lucky. Magical items therefore will also be remarkably rare, and when found possibly under-powered in order to limit their usefulness.

The magical items below are designed for a 2nd edition game, but could be adapted to other editions.

Arrow of the Explorer
When tossed in the air and allowed to land randomly, this magical arrow falls and *may* point the direction the user wishes to go. It provides either +5 bonus to Direction Sense or Navigation, or it can provide the reverse, a -5 penalty to either skill, in the event that the user actually wants to go a different way (due to cowardice, greed, hunger, lust, etc). Thus while the arrow can sometimes be very helpful, it will other times point back the way the user came from to indicate that what the user really wants is a hot bath and a cold ale. (The DM is encouraged to roll percentile dice once in awhile to see if the arrow points in the direction of something the user wasn't consciously thinking of.) The Arrow of the Explorer can be easily broken like any normal arrow and it is not recommended that it is used for hunting, fighting, etc.

Boots of the Bowhunter
When making stalking attempts while Hunting, the user gains a +2 bonus to their attempt. Furthermore the reduced distance to their prey is doubled when making consecutive stalking attempts (eg. instead of reducing the distance by 20 yards it is reduced by 40 yards). The wearer also gains a +5% bonus to Move Silently attempts in any wilderness area. The boots work equally well for bowhunters, spearhunters, etc, despite the name.

Bracer of Falconry
This large magical bracer and glove are designed for someone with Animal Training: Falconry and can be used for training falcons, hawks, eagles and owls. Training times are cut in half and the user gains a +2 bonus on their check. (Note - The large bracer-glove uses both the glove and bracer slots for magical items on one arm, which means other wrist and hand items cannot be used at the same time. It does not effect rings worn on either hand.)

Chisel of the Stonemason
This large heavy steel chisel remains sharp regardless of how many times it is used. When used for cutting stone, whether for Stonemasonry or for carving a stone statue, it provides a +2 bonus to the attempt. If used for carpentry it provides only a +1 bonus as it is not meant for that kind of work.

Choker of the Chanteuse
Worn by women, this decorative neck choker makes the wearer's vocal cords more powerful/dynamic and gives them a +2 bonus on Singing attempts. It also provides a +1 bonus to any Charisma check involving using one's voice. eg. Attempting to disguise their voice to sound like a particular person.

Dancing Shoes
These flat footed shoes provide a +3 bonus to dancing attempts, but they also provide a bonus to balance checks when using Tightrope Walking.

Draw Knife of Bow Making
A draw knife is a tool with a blade with two handles at opposite ends and is used for scraping wood. This magical version provides a +2 bonus to any bow making attempt. If used for carpentry or weaponsmithing it provides only a +1 bonus to making things like axe handles, quarterstaffs or spear shafts.

Gloves of the Juggler
These plain looking brown leather gloves are surprisingly easy to grip things with. They provide a +3 bonus to Juggling attempts. They also provide a +5% bonus to Climb Walls.

Gold Pan of the Prospector
Used for sifting through river sands to find gold dust, this magical pan lights up whenever gold dust is present. The light is equal to a candle, thus users sometimes just toss a gold coin within and use the pan as a light source. When used for prospecting for gold, the pan provides a +2 bonus on attempts to locate potential gold mines. It is only useful for gold however and is useless for attempting to mine for other minerals or gems.

Monocle of Gemstones
This glass monocle is designed for appraising gemstones and jewelry. It isn't useful anything else, only jewels and objects of jewelry that contain gemstones. When used to appraise the value of any gemstone or jewelry containing a gemstone, the user gains a +3 bonus on their check.

Paintbrush of the Forger
When used to make any forgery involving painting, this magical paintbrush provides a +3 to the attempt. It also provides +2 to any Artistic Ability involving painting.

Ring of the Gambler
This gold ring provides a +1 bonus to any Gaming check, but also a +2 bonus to any attempt to cheat at gambling. It also provides a +5% chance at Pick Pocketing or anything involving sleight of hand.

Rope of the Mountaineer
When attempting to climb any rough terrain surface the user of this rope gains a +10% bonus to their attempt to Climb Walls. Used on other surfaces (trees, architecture, etc) the rope provides only a +5% bonus to their attempt. Rope Use and Tightrope Walking checks using the rope also gain a +1 bonus.

Saddle of the Lancer
This well made saddle provides the user with a +2 bonus to any horsemanship riding checks and also a +1 bonus to hit with any lances, spears, horseman's flails or horseman's maces. The saddle does not provide any benefits to training horses or animal handling checks involving horses.

Shoes of Running and Jumping
These comfortable and well-made shoes provide a +2 bonus to Running and Jumping checks. When used for a running long jump, a running high jump or a running pole vault attempt the user gains a +4 bonus to their attempt. (When found these shoes are sometimes accompanied by a 17 to 18 foot long semi-flexible pole.)

Silver Anvil of Blacksmithing
This large silver anvil can be used in one of two ways: Blacksmithing or silversmithing. It provides a +3 bonus to any blacksmithing attempt or to any attempt to make something out of silver. For any weaponsmithing or armouring checks it provides only a +1 check. Thus if the user wishes to make horseshoes, a silver longsword or a silver shield they get a +3 bonus. If they want to make a steel longsword or a steel shield, they get only a +1 bonus to the attempt.

Tome of Skill +1
These magical tomes take 1 week to read fully and permanently raise the reader's skill in one generic skill (eg. Carpentry). After the book has been fully read the person reading the book is imbued with the magic of the tome and the book fades into nothingness while simultaneously a magical tattoo appears on a random body part usually used as part of the skill (eg. On the arms for swimming). The skill bonus cannot be permanently removed via Dispel Magic, but it can be temporarily suppressed. Reading multiple copies of the same tome has no additional effect on the reader. Reading it aloud only benefits the reader as they are the one who absorbs the magic of the book and receives the tattoo. A person who does not possess the skill in question does not gain a new skill, but in the future they can try to do the skill with a -4 to their attempt; If they later gain the skill in question, they will gain the +1 bonus to their attempts when using the skill.

Waterskin of Endurance
One long sip from this magical waterskin temporarily bestows the drinker with 1 hour of the skill Endurance. To someone who already has the skill, it boosts their Endurance skill by +5 for 1 hour. The waterskin contains only 20 long sips worth of water. Once used up however, the waterskin becomes a normal non-magical waterskin.

Whip of the Charioteer
A long horsewhip, this item provides anyone commanding horses on a wagon or chariot with a +2 bonus to any attempts. It also provides a +1 bonus to Animal Handling or Animal Training attempts involving horses.

Wig of Disguise
This non-descript black wig can change its shape and colour at mental command of the user, providing a +2 bonus to Disguise attempts. It cannot mimic the appearance of any person who is bald however.


Now obviously if you gave PCs all of the magical items listed above it would start to feel more like a high magic campaign. But spaced out, sprinkled gently, and with a dose of rarity - such magical items give a totally different tone to the "feel" of a campaign. A campaign that is based more on skills and roleplaying than it is on combat. Combat still happens, obviously, players will make sure of that, but the tone and feel of the campaign can be made very different with the use of unique magical objects that boost skills.

Having seen the examples above, doubtlessly you have your own ideas for how to make magical items that boost various skills. I recommend sticking to +1 or +2 to skills that are used more often, and a range of +3 to +5 for skills that are rarely used.

I also recommend creating magical items that have some sort of limitation. eg. "Reins of Horse Training" can only be used for training horses, donkeys, and mules. They are useless when attempting to train falcons, dogs, dolphins, etc. And possibly also useless on magical equines like pegasi and unicorns.


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