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The Frugal DM's Magical Item Tables for 2nd Edition

I created this chart for 2nd Edition AD&D as an alternative the Appendix 2: Magical Item Tables found in the Dungeon Master Guide.

Why create an alternative chart?

This chart allows me to hand out more potions, scrolls, and a new category of items "Temporary Magical Items" which eventually stop working. Permanent Magical Items become a problem with power creep in long campaigns and monty haul style campaigns, and since I tend to run very long campaigns that last 3 years or more I have endeavoured to combat power creep so that the PCs don't become invincible monster-eating machines.

By creating an alternative chart which puts more emphasis on one time use items and temporary magical items this allows players to still gain magical items as they progress, still using the random charts, but the DM maintains more control over what they get.

Alternative Table 88: Roll a D100

01 to 40 - Potions and Oils
41 to 70 - Scrolls
71 to 90 - Temporary Magical Items (see Table 88B)
91 - Rings (DM's Choice)
92 - Rods, Staffs, Wands (DM's Choice)
93 - Books, Tomes, Jewels and Jewelry (DM's Choice)
94 - Clothing - Cloaks, Robes, Boots, Gloves, Girdles and Helmets (DM's Choice)
95 - Bags, Bottles, Dusts, Stones (DM's Choice)
96 - Household Items, Tools and Weird Stuff (DM's Choice)
97-98 - Armour and Shields (DM's Choice)
99-100 - Weapons (DM's Choice)

Note - Whenever presented with DM's Choice the DM should endeavour to choose a magical item with a power level that makes sense with the current campaign. Eg. If running a low level game you probably should not be giving out Spheres of Annihilation and similar items.  Such items really should never be random and should always appear with a backstory and/or be part of a plot. Finding a random +5 Holy Avenger in a troll's hoard of loot seems awfully overpowered.

Table 88B: Roll a D20 (or Subtract 70 from the previous D100 roll)

1 - Apple of Cure/Poison (50/50 Either Cures Poisons or is a Random Ingested Poison. See Table 51.)
2 - Dust of Disappearance
3 - Keoghtom's Ointment
4 - Necklace of Missiles
5 - Quaal's Feather Token
6 - Smoke Powder
7 - Sovereign Glue
8 - Universal Solvent
9 - Wind Fan (Eventually it breaks if used too often)
10 - Arrows, 2d6 (Roll Table 109 to determine bonuses)
11 - Bolts, 2d6 (Roll Table 109 to determine bonuses)
12 - Sling Bullets, 2d6 (Roll Table 109 to determine bonuses)
13 - Darts, 2d6 (Roll Table 109 to determine bonuses)
14 - Javelins, 1d3 (Roll Table 109 to determine bonuses)
15 - Special Ammo (DM's Choice)
16 - Temporary Magical Armour (Enchantment wears off within a random amount of time)
17 - Temporary Magical Weapon (Enchantment wears off within a random amount of time)
18 - Wand of Five Charges (Typically a Low Level Spell, and only usable by a specific class)
19 - Staff of Ten Charges (Typically a Mid Level Spell and only usable by a specific class)
20 - DM's Choice*

* The DM is encouraged to invent a new type of temporary magical item, possibly an unique one.

Conclusions

Pretend for a moment the PCs find a Frost Brand +3/+6 vs Fire Using/Dwelling Creatures. That is an awfully powerful weapon to be just laying around. It should have a story behind it. It should be where it is for a reason. It should have a name like "Blizzard" or something.

When the PCs first find the Frost Brand it should be a dramatic moment, like finding the Holy Grail or some powerful artifact. It is after all the one and only +6 weapon that can be found in 2nd Edition. You could base an entire campaign around this particular weapon. PCs during the past 40+ years of playing D&D have probably killed fire gods with it. It thus falls into a rare category of weapons of "Godslayers".

You don't leave such rare items just laying around. There should be stories and myths around them. PCs should instantly recognize the sword when they see it because they've all heard the stories, fables and songs of what the Frost Brand looks like and all the great deeds it was involved with.

Reserving the permanent magical items for moments like this makes the item feel more special. Players will recognize this and realize the magical item is important, even if it is just a +1 longsword called "Reaper". The Reaper +1 longsword might not be as famous as Blizzard, but if the DM makes the effort to build it up then the boring sword suddenly becomes an item of value in the minds of the players.



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