|Illustration by Daniel Ljunggren |
(c) Wizards of the Coast
Because I do not want to have to churn new magic items through the party every few levels (supposed to be rare, right?), I’ve had to come up with ways to keep existing items in the player’s inventory fresh. In this regard, I’ve
Enchantment slots is an idea modified from the Diablo series of video games. In those, you can upgrade some magic weapons or armor by permanently fusing a limited number of gems to the item. Depending upon the gem, you may add different powers or damage types to the weapon. Because I am running Storm King’s Thunder, I am using the Giant runes in a similar way as suggested in the book. However, Giant runes aren’t the only avenue for upgrading the power of a weapon or other item. Other enchantments can be laid upon the item if the PCs do the required research. This may involve rune magic, alchemical treatments, gem enhancements, or other rituals.
During the 3rd edition, Wizards of the Coast published the Weapons of Legacy book. In this book, they posed an alternative where weapons (or other magic items) might start out with a basic power, but also unlock new powers as the characters advance and discover lore-related rituals. They introduced the concept of attuning to a weapon, and added other layers (weapon feats) which could be gained through various complex means.
Just about any rare or wondrous item could be re-skinned to start out as a simple low-level magic item. You can drop hints that there is something special about the item when they attune or identify it, without necessarily giving away the whole mystery. Be sure to name the item and create a small backstory to pique that extra interest from the player.
If you’d like to add a little more richness to the lore of your magic items, or at least make them seem like less of a disposable resource, consider adding ways to level them up for your players. Imagine if the likes of Wave, Whelm, or Black Razor were disguised as a "normal" magic weapon prior to revealing their true natures. This could also be true for curse weapons, which may not reveal their curse at the initial attunement. Now every magic item found may be cause for both wonder and concern.