The 20 Most WTF Magical Items In Dungeons & Dragons

Every Dungeons & Dragons character seeks magical items for their abilities. But some wizards aren't interested in making powerful relics; they're interested in making nonsense, because they're crazy, or things that will screw your character over, because they're jerks. The result? These ridiculous artifacts from D&D's golden days.

1) Ring of Contrariness

The first of many magical items that I will simply call "Artifacts of Dickishness." See, magic items have to be crafted by wizards; they require time, power, and a great many resources. So why would anyone waste their time making a magic item whose only result is making someone kind of annoying? The Ring of Contrariness -- which, as you might have suspected, forces the wearer to disagree with everything anyone says -- it a prime example of some wizard wasting his time.

2) Bountiful Spade

Official description: "Characters who use this enchanted farm implement to turn over the earth prior to planting a field receive a +3 bonus on their agriculture proficiency check for that year." I feel confident in saying that any D&D game that needs its player to perform an agriculture proficiency check for an entire year is the worst D&D game ever.

3) Bell's Palette of Identity

I can only assume Bell the Wizard was reading The Picture of Dorian Grey when he was inspired to make this magic art palette, which, when used to paint a self-portrait, allows all status effects -- basically anything you'd make a saving throw for -- get transferred to the portrait instead. Nice, right? Alas, Bell clearly didn't finish Dorian Grey, or else he might have released that leaving the painting at home was a key part of its power. Users of the Palette must carry their self-portraits around wherever they go; if they don't have the paintings literally on their body, its powers are useless. So close, Bell!

4) Gourd of Travel

Lots of items allow players to teleport: helms, scrolls, rods, weapons, and more. And then there's a gourd. A gourd that lets you teleport. While holding, and presumably carrying around, a gourd. Why a gourd, and why not, say, a ring of teleportation? A wand, mayhap? Or even a cloak or an amulet? Discovering the answer to that sounds like an adventure of its own.

5) Ring of Bureaucratic Wizardry

I swear this is real. The official description: "When a wizard casts any spell while wearing the ring, a sheaf of papers and a quill pen suddenly appear in his hand. The papers are forms that must be filled out in triplicate explaining the effects of the spell, why the wizard wishes to cast it, whether it is for business or pleasure, and so on. The forms must be filled out before the effects of the spell will occur. The higher the level of the spell cast, the more complicated the forms become. Filling out the forms requires one round per level of spell." If you ever had a Dungeon Master give you this ring, I believe you were legally allowed to murder him.

6) Bag of Beans

Ha ha, yeah, like Jack and the Beanstalk, right? Gotta have some magic beans in D&D! Except they aren't. When planted, these beans usually turn into monsters that attack you. But not instantly; you have to put them specifically in the ground and water them for them to turn into monsters that attack you. So not only are these beans actively harmful to you, you have to put in effort for them to work at all. But my favourite part? If the beans are removed from their bag by any method other than somebody's hand, they just outright explode.

7) Potion of Pebble Flesh

This potion is basically The Potion of Being The Thing from Fantastic Four -- you rub it all over yourself, go to sleep, and when you wake up ... well, you have pebble flesh. It gives you a natural armour, but it lowers your Dexterity, your movement rate, and of course makes you look like a hideous monster. The question is this: Since magic in D&D can do anything, why wouldn't you take a little extra time and brew a potion that upgrades your Armour Class without making the needless flaws?

8) Wand of Misplaced Objects

Although an Artifact of Dickishness, the Wand of Misplaced Objects is slightly more useful in that it's technically an offensive weapon for its bearer. Technically. Using the wand causes the target to become surrounded by golden orbs which spin around him. When they disappear, the target discovers all his shit has been moved -- his sword is back in its sheath, things in his pockets are in his backpack, his shoe is on his hand, etc. Annoying? Certainly. More effective than just blasting the dude with a fireball spell? I think not.

9) Wand of Wonder

The Wand of Wonder -- as in, the Wand of Wondering What The Lunatic That Made This Thing Was Thinking Of. When used, it performs one of 20 completely random functions, which can include 1) a powerful gust of wind, 2) 600 butterflies appearing out of nowhere, 3) shrinking the wand holder, and 4) making leaves grow on the target for some reason. Say you were a soldier. Would you bring a gun that would randomly fire bullets, water, or 600 freaking butterflies into battle? Exactly.

10) Bone Seed

So this is a tiny bone fragment that when planted turns into a giant tree made of bones. Does it look awesome? Probably. Would it be perfect landscaping addition for an evil wizard or someone trying to make a heavy metal album cover? Absolutely. Is it useful in any other way? No. Well, technically you can grab one of the bones and try to stab somebody with them, but this is D&D; if you weren't already carrying a weapon you'd have died minutes after beginning your adventure. Oh, also: "If a bone seed is planted in a burial ground, there is a 10% chance that it will produce a monkey skull." Well all right then.

11) Bowl of Watery Death

This Artifact of Dickishness is a touch more on the murder-y side; anyone who puts water in this bowl (it appears to be a Bowl Commanding Water Elementals) gets shrunk to "the size of a small ant" and falls into the bowl. Cruel? Yes. Efficient? Not really. Again, I have to wonder what wizard out there is spending his time enchanting deadly bowls and leaving them around dungeons for random adventurers to find.

12) Crystal Parrot

To be fair, the Crystal Parrot does have a clear and genuinely useful purpose -- you turn it on, and it watches over the room you've set it in. If intruders come in, the parrot sends you a telepathic message that you have uninvited guests. It can be turned on for up to 30 full days! The catch is that whenever you turn it off, it stays off for 30 full days, which defeats the purpose of the damn thing for six months out of the year. Still, it's quite bizarre knowing that D&D created the equivalent of the nanny-cam before reality did.

13) Druid's Yoke

If you're in a D&D campaign where you need to do any kind of farming, you have bigger problems than any magical item can fix. But this yoke allows characters to -- when they put it on themselves -- turn into an ox. Not a magical ox; a regular ox. Then you can till your field yourself! You can't do it any faster, because again, you're just a goddamned ox, but it does allow you to ... do the horrible manual labour ... instead of the animal you've bred for this exact purpose. So that's ... something someone would totally want. The best part? Once you've put it on, you can't take the yoke off; someone else has to do it for you. Because you're a goddamned ox.

14) Brooch of Number Numbing

I still can't believe this exists in D&D, but let me try to explain it. It's a brooch someone wears. People who look at the brooch, uh ... forget numbers. Like they forget five is more than three, how currency exchange works, and more. This is such a bizarre, esoteric thing, and one that seemingly has only one use -- screwing people out of their money. Which is what I thought Thieves were for. Basically, add the Brooch of Number Numbing with the Ring of Bureaucratic Wizardry and you've made a D&D campaign with all the fun of a visit to the RMS.

15) Robe of Vermin

This list could be filled with Artifacts of Dickishness; there are books that make you stupid, potions that drive you insane, and even bags that eat your stuff. But the Robe of Vermin is especially messed up. Put on the robe, and it seems fine until you enter combat, at which point unseen rats basically start biting your character over his/her entire body. They don't cause actual damage, but they render you more or less useless during every combat session, which means your character is very likely getting murdered before you find a way to remove the robe's curse. And you will die while being eaten by magic rats. Whee!

16) Fish Dust

A dust which, when thrown into a body of water, paralyses fish and causes them to float to the surface. Although it has the same terrifying effect that dumping toxic radiation into the water might have, it's probably fine, being magic and all. It's perfect for the player for whom saying out loud "My character fishes for an hour" is just too much work.

17) Horn of Baubles

As you might suspect, this horn issues out a blast useless trinkets, equal to the first level of Chuck E. Cheese ticket prizes, when blown. It's not even slightly useful because again, by definition, what comes forth from the horn are baubles. But as an added kick, when used there's a cumulative 10% chance that the blower will be sucked into the mouth of the horn and transformed into the aforementioned stream of useless trinkets, not only killing him, but destroying his body completely, rendering him unable to be resurrected without a Wish spell. Truly, the Horn of Baubles is the pre-eminent Artifact of Dickishness.

18) Horn of Bubbles

The Horn of Bubbles is decent second to the Horn of Baubles, though. It obviously spews out bubbles, which of course do nothing to attackers, but blind the blowers. If you're a bard, there's a 5% chance you get sucked into the horn and turned into a stream of bubbles, which, when they all pop, mean you're dead. Since only bards suffer the chance of the death by bubble, the Horn of Baubles reign supreme in Dickishness, but still, if you find a horn in a pile of treasure, don't blow it. It's just not worth the risk.

19) Puchezma's Powder of Edible Objects

Interestingly, this odd item is one of the few D&D magical items that does have a back-story; apparently the unfortunately named Puchezma was a cheapskate who inadvertently created a powder that allowed him to eat any chewable material while trying to make a spice that would allow him to eat cheaper and cheaper food. With it, people can eat anything from cotton to tree leaves instead of bread and salted beef! Now, I would say if you're carrying around cotton, you might as well be carrying food. I would also say that if you plan on your player-character eating tree leaves to save fictional money you are very much missing the greater point of D&D.

20) Mirror of Simple Order

"When a character steps in front of this mirror, he sees a strangely distorted image of himself. There are eyes, a mouth, and a nose, but all lack character. Although the figure moves as the character does, it is shorter or taller than he is, adjusted in whatever direction approaches the average height of the character's race. Any clothing worn by the character is altered as well. Bright colours will be muted, appearing to be shades of grey. Any ornamental work on armour, weapons, or clothing will be gone. He retains his level and class, but is not as exceptional as he might have been. He is bland and boring. The character's alignment changes to lawful neutral, and he becomes interested in little else other than setting order to the world." So there's a magical item that turns you into a soulless bureaucrat. I guess that's whose making those damn rings.

All images by Jeff Easley.


Comments

    @zambayoshi
    D&D editions 2 to 5.

    If that isn't sufficient, give a search engine a crack.

    Last edited 24/06/16 3:08 pm

      I couldn't be bothered. It's just poor writing when you don't even mention the source book for the items. The number of splat books that were produced for 3.5 alone was mind-boggling.

        That's why I don't play any version after 2... 3 and higher are garbage

    I dunno I find some of these items amusing and think they'd be fun to add to a campaign. But I guess it depends on whether you play *everything* including trading, talking, eating etc or just play for killing and looting monsters.

    There are pretty obvious uses for some of the items - the bone tree looks like a good barrier if you're in a corridor. You could plant it and use the time taken for your pursuers to get past it to escape. The ox collar could be used in a situation where you need to haul something heavy, move a boulder blocking an entrance and so on.

    As for the ones like Wand of Wonder where it's random. I like to backstory it - the wizard who created it attuned it to himself. He could control which effect it would produce. You can then turn it into a quest for the new owner where they try to figure out how to control the effects.

    Similarly, I backstory artifacts like the Robe of Vermin or Horn of Bubbles as either traps created by a wizard to protect his real gear, or flawed attempts at creating something better.

    So yeah, a lot of the fun with items like these is coming up with creative uses for them and working them into your campaigns in interesting ways.

      Or the Ring of Contrariness is a necessary side effect of producing a Ring of Truth... and could be useful if you expect somebody to be captured. Give the ring to a spy and let them loose...

      My impression was that most of these things are there to "discourage" players from messing with unidentified objects. In any case, some of the objections are pretty pitiful. One crystal parrot is intermittently useless, but two give constant protection.

      The powder of edible objects is presumably much more compact than, oh, the highly toxic something-or-other monster corpse. The Wand of Misplaced Objects would be useful when you want to take somebody out without killing them or want to take their stuff; aim it as a wizard with a Wand of Wishes...

      Even the Ring of Bureaucratic Wizardry could be useful. Fill out all the forms except for a few key words, and suddenly you have a spell bank that you can accumulate over weeks.

      In my old Everquest days there were a handful of spells that I'd call "situationally useful" (shorthand for "bloody useless.") But most of those were actually useful under some circumstance, though I don't think I ever had a need to enchant a peridot.

        Yeah exactly, there is a lot of fun to be had with quirky items, for both players and the DM. I think some of the most fun sessions we had weren't actually progressing the campaign, they were when people got sidetracked over something. "Dammit that ring must be awesome, it was dropped by the Archmage, it must be powerful. Lets spend a week figuring it out." Nope it was just a random item added for flavour.

        Not a magic item, but I added a coke machine to a game. Described it as a glowing red obelisk with arcane symbols on it that you can't decipher. A few small raised rectangles are set in a grid along one side next to a small hole. A larger opening is near the bottom of the obelisk. The players spent ages mucking about with it before they figured out you could put a coin in the slot and push a button. At which point of course they finally realised what it was.

        They then spent ages on the "brightly coloured metal cylinders" that popped out the bottom of the machine. They were all figuring would they be potions, or poisons or something. Nope. Just fizzy drinks for amusement value :)

    I remember finding a "Cloak of Spell Reflection" in Baldur's Gate II. This thing kicked butt. In a battle against a group full of enemy mages? No worries, stand in front and watch them die from their own spells. Is that a beholder? Not a problem, charge it by yourself.

    Then I installed the expansion. All of a sudden my Cloak of Spell Reflection became a Cloak of Spell Deflection. I was so peeved. This was probably the greatest moment of dickishness I ever experienced in D&D.

    Several of those items have practical uses. The tree from the bone seed counts as a skeleton, and can be the target of several necromantic spells. The fish powder and edible object powder can be very handy when your party has run out of rations in an extended dungeon crawl or if you've gotten lost in the wilderness.
    The ring of contrariness can be an effective tool to be used against npcs, and you could really fuck up a lich or demonologist's day with the brooch of number numbing.

    These seem to be a few Cursed items (which are of course meant to suck) in there and a few April Edition items.

    Most of the "Artifacts of Dickishness" are cursed items, created accidentally when attempting to create a normal, more useful, magic item. Cursed magic items are not typically created intentionally. They are failed magic items that have gone awry.

    If you think D&D should just be played as a murder simulator, then sure some of these items are bad. If you think that there's room for non combat gameplay and role playing, these items are amazing. Powder that would let starving peasants survive a famine by eating leaves? A way to make fishing quicker, and thus more profitable, for fisherman? A way to have criminals serve out sentences by giving back to the community as farm animals?

    If you ask a farmer in D&D whether he wishes wizards made more Wands of Fireball or Shovels That Let Me Feed My Family, what do you think they would say?

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