Dungeons & Dragons: How To Homebrew A Magic Item

Dangerous things can happen to those who dabble in the arcane recklessly.

Dungeons & Dragons: How To Homebrew A Magic Item

Dungeons & Dragons has a dearth of magic items for players and Dungeon Masters to use, but there's a special satisfaction in making a custom one to fit a campaign or character. A well-made homebrew item can tell a story, both through its history and how the players use it.

Designing a homebrew item can be a challenge. Since Fifth Edition is designed on the assumption of having very few magic items, any enchanted loot you create can have a strong impact on the gameplay. It also needs to be balanced but distinct from the existing items in your world.

Start With Existing Items As Templates

Dungeons & Dragons: How To Homebrew A Magic Item

An easy starting point is to look over what already exists in the game and see what slight tweaks can be made without being disruptive.

  • Would the effect of a Belt of Giant Strength be any different if placed on a weapon? If anything it would become weaker since you couldn't have your hands free.
  • A cap of water breathing that instead protects against unbreathable gases would see about the same amount of use.
  • A sending stone concealed within an amulet doesn't do anything extra but might be worth extra if it is easy to conceal.

From here, it's easy to move onto wondrous items. Magical items that fill out a world but don't have a strong gameplay impact. Heward's Handy Spice Pouch conjures small amounts of non-magical material. Would it be any more valuable if you applied the same effect to an inkwell that summoned different pigments? Neither version is going to slay dragons, so there is little harm.

Create Items For Specific Purposes

Dungeons & Dragons: How To Homebrew A Magic Item

Fifth Edition has tried to move away from magic items that only give flat modifiers. The +1 swords and shields still have their uses, but you won't see as many +1 enchanted lockpicks or +3 hats of ogre lore.

When making a magic item, consider a goal or need it was designed to fulfill. This makes it easy to tie into a story and character, as well as make it unique. Here are some examples:

Item Goal



Items that advance the plot

An artifact the players are looking for might have abilities that solve puzzles or provide plot critical spells the players can't cast.

A game focused around finding shapeshifters might grant the party an item that casts zone of truth or even truesight. They still need to find the best times to use it, creating a new puzzle.

Items that match a character's personality and playstyle

Make a weapon or tool that rewards the character for doing what you want them to do.

A conquest paladin might wield a sword that gains bonus damage against enemies they've intimidated.

Items that address balance issues

If players aren't equally willing to optimize their characters, you might use magic items to rebalance things.

A fey warlock might gain a focus that grants them one daily spell within their patron's theme.

Items that solve an in-world problem

Sometimes it just makes world-building sense to have magic solve a problem.

The security in a bank vault should probably have some way of detecting invisible thieves.

Giving Magic Items Restrictions

Dungeons & Dragons: How To Homebrew A Magic Item

Almost all strong magic items have limitations on how often you can use them. The biggest one is attunement, capping the number of items a character can use at once. Knowing what restrictions to put on a magic item is an important part of balancing it.


DM Notes


No Limits

Niche items with situational uses generally don't need any limitations.

Items that form part of a character's progression also don't need a limitation.

The cap of water breathing is only useful underwater. It would be unfun to force players to rest and reattune whenever they need it or reserve an attunement slot when they don't.

+1 swords don't have attunement requirements unless they have additional features. Even then, an unattuned Holy Avenger is still a +3 sword.


Items that give any persistent boost should have attunement as a limiting factor.

Slippers of Spiderclimb greatly change how a player interacts with the world. Attunement gives the item a trade-off in damage, defense, or utility that other items could provide.


Items that fill a gap in the team work best if they're limited in use. This makes the gaps still felt.

A magically refilling healing potion can make up for a party's lack of a healer, but it won't be effective to use in combat.

Class Locked

Some items would be unbalanced if used by the wrong people. These are locked to specific classes.

Staves with healing spells aren't usable by wizards or sorcerers who aren't supposed to heal.

External Cost

Some magic items require the player to pay a cost using other resources. This allows the magic item to provide extra options but not extra power.

The ring of spell storing doesn't give bonus daily spells but lets you recall spells you haven't prepared or save extra spells for later.


If you're worried an item is too strong, experiment with a single-use version of it. This is a great way of testing the feel for an effect in-game without worrying too much about the future implications.

A homebrew spell can be tested by first giving it in the form of a scroll (just don't allow a wizard to scribe it until you're ready).

Some items will fall into more than one category: Most wands with rechargable spells also require attunement to prevent a wizard from carrying ten wands of fireballs.

Homebrewing Cursed Items

Dungeons & Dragons: How To Homebrew A Magic Item

Cursed items are an especially difficult area of homebrew because you don't want your players to feel punished for using them. There are a few categories cursed items can fall into that fulfill different gameplay goals:

Type Of Curse

Goal Of The Cursed Item


Punishes the player

These curses are designed to make players cautious about attuning unknown items.

The Berserker Axe can cause a player to start killing their party members due to a single failed save and cannot be voluntarily surrendered.

Mechanical Trade-offs

These curses give decisions to the player that they might choose to use a cursed item in spite of the consequences.

The armor of vulnerability gives resistance to one damage type in exchange for two vulnerabilities. This might be worth using for a fight against a specific enemy who favors one weapon type.

Narrative Trade-offs

These cursed items impose roleplaying costs in exchange for mechanical powers.

The Sword of Vengeance prevents the wielder from accepting surrender but is limited in how much it controls a player in combat.

The main goal in designing cursed items is to keep the trade-offs balanced. The Shield of Missile Attraction redirects ranged attacks to target you, which is actually what you want to happen when the shield gives resistance to that damage type. Some characters would actively prefer the cursed version to a non-cursed equivalent.

Понравилась статья? Поделиться с друзьями:
Добавить комментарий

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: