Qualities are divided into twelve loose categories: control or domination, charm or influence, perception, bodily alteration, bodily augmentation, movement, resistance and defense, attack or offense, summoning, object alteration, healing and restoration, and magical manipulation. Most items fall into at least one, and sometimes two, of these categories.
Magical devices of this sort exert a compulsion of some kind, forcing compliance from the subject. Unlike items that rely on influence or the power of emotion, control devices allow the caster to dictate commands to the subject, which will then be followed to the letter. Good examples of items that fall into this category include potions of giant, dragon, or undead control, or a ring of mammal control or elemental control.
Materials for these items often include specimens or samples from the creature in question—blood, hair, sweat, or more intangible qualities. Rare or exotic requirements might force the PC to seek out a unique individual among the subject race, such as a frost giant jarl, or a vampire mage.
Rings, rods, and staves of this class might require decorating or engraving with a rune signifying the true, secret name of the subjects to be affected. A substance that is linked to the subject in some way could be included; for example, a potion of plant control might require the sap of a Treant since Treants have the ability to animate other plants, or the potion might have to be prepared in a vessel carved from a Treant's heartwood. Similarly, a powdered gem taken from a king’s crown might be required for a potion of human control.
In many cases, some form of charm, geas, or quest spell will be required to enchant the item.
Magical devices with these properties enable the wielder to exert unusual influence over the subject or impart an emotional state of some kind without gaining the ability to direct and control his movements. It is a subtler type of enchantment than outright control or domination, with more persistent effects that often highlight a player’s role-playing ability. The wielder of the item is not able to actually order the subjects about but instead presents the subject with strong preferences or impulses that the subject is free to pursue as he sees fit. The least subtle of these items simply delivers an overwhelming emotion, such as fear or panic, to send the victims into instant flight. A ring of human influence, wand of fear, or philter of love all fall into this category.
Unlike the control and charm devices, many devices in this category enhance the caster’s Charisma or eloquence, without regard to the subject’s race. Materials associated with the emotion required are often incorporated into magical items of this type; for example, a wand of fear might require a bone from a lich or the terror of a coward. Items that confer persuasiveness to a character might require something from a creature with natural charm or beguiling powers, such as a snake’s tongue or wood from the tree of a dryad.
Processes could include such things as etching the item with the tears of a liar, engraving it with the secret name of a terrifying fiend, or tempering it on the altar of a deity of love or trickery.
Rods, rings, and wands of this type are often chased with metals related to the emotions in question— silver or gold for noble emotions, lead or iron for base ones.
Spells that may prove useful in enchanting these items include such things as animal friendship, emotion, enthrall, fear, suggestion, or mass suggestion.
Magical items of this type extend the wearer or user’s perceptions in some way, enabling him to detect things he could not detect before, or extending the range of his senses beyond his immediate surroundings. Devices that expand the senses include such things as a ring of x-ray vision, a medallion of ESP, or a gem of seeing; items that extend the senses include potions of clairaudience or clairvoyance, crystal balls, and similar items.
Materials often include samples or specimens from creatures who naturally possess the sense in question, such as the wit of a thief, the cunning of a fox, or the pick of a dwarf master miner. In addition, gems, glass, or stones of special clarity or color are often incorporated into devices of this nature.
The processes required may involve more specimens of appropriate origin, such as polishing a magical lens with a paste made from the eye of a giant eagle or steeping a robe of eyes in the ichor of an Argus. Other processes could include such things as grinding lenses or orbs, sanding items with special mixtures or compounds, magnetizing metal wands, or painting or inscribing an item in a certain design.
All kinds of divination spells — clairaudience, clairvoyance, ESP, detect lie, or true seeing, for example—may be part of the item creation process.
A great number of magical items impart some supernatural means of travel. Some merely augment the wearer’s natural abilities, while others open up entire new avenues of movement for the character. There are a number of movement-enhancing items, including potions of flying and levitation, boots of speed, boots of striding and springing, carpet of flying, cloak of the bat, wings of flying, and many others.
Once again, specimens from creatures possessing the desired abilities are often important materials. Feathers from rare or unusual birds are frequently used for flying magic, while creatures such as grells or beholders provide levitation properties. Other materials could be more fantastic, such as the essence of the north wind.
Depending on the nature of the item, the process usually serves to seal the magical power into the item. Boots might be stained with a special mixture or soled by a particular craftsman or a special tool. Cloaks might be cured or waterproofed in some unusual way.
Useful spells for items conferring movement powers include enchantments such as jump, haste, fly, levitate, teleport, polymorph self, wind walk, or plane shift.
This common category for magical items that impart some ability or power not normally possessed by the wearer. These abilities are not necessarily offensive or defensive, but they can provide the character with unusual resistances or camouflage in certain situations. Magical items that fall into this category include potions of diminution, growth, and gaseous form; items that confer invisibility, blending, or disguise abilities; and items that provide the wearer with water breathing, adaptation, or the ability to change his own shape. Naturally, this category often overlaps with several others since the alteration of one’s form can augment the wearer’s powers of movement, attack, or defense.
In addition to materials harvested from creatures with the desired abilities, inert objects with the desired properties can be used as materials for these items. For example, a diamond or crystal of perfect clarity might be useful for invisibility, while the smallest grain of sand on a beach (now there’s a challenge!) might be required for diminution. Steam from a certain volcano, or wood from a vampire’s coffin, could impart gaseous form.
Since many of the items in this category are potions, any process that is reasonable for creating a potion could be used. Other items might be steeped in special solutions designed to imbue them with the desired powers, or polished or painted with the materials required.
Obviously, most of these items have spells that are immediately applicable to the enchantment. Enlarge or the reverse are good for diminution and growth; invisibility, water breathing, polymorph self, and change self may all be useful for items of this type.
Items of this type increase abilities or skills that the wielder already possesses by making him stronger and more dexterous, increasing his effective level, or augmenting his skills in a specific way. Examples include a potion of giant strength or heroism, a girdle of giant strength, bracers of archery, or gauntlets of dexterity. The chief difference between this category and the previous one is that augmentation changes existing abilities, while alteration provides abilities the character would not otherwise have.
There are three major classes of item that can augment the user’s natural abilities: potions, girdles and gauntlets, and books. Potions often feature the hair, blood, or sweat of a creature possessing the desired qualities—a giant of the appropriate type for a potion of giant strength or a great hero for a potion of heroism. Materials for persistent items might include such things as an arrow carved by a master elf fletcher, leather from the belt of a giant chieftain, or steel worked by the strongest ogre in the land.
The processes required for potions have been described at length already. Belts, gauntlets, and other such things require curing, cutting and shaping, etching or inscribing, piercing, applying metal studs or fasteners, and finishing with various rubs or mixtures.
Spells that the character may find useful include enchantments such as strength, bless, prayer, or spider climb.
This large category includes all kinds of devices that provide the user with a resistance, defense, or immunity to some attack form. These can be divided into two subcategories: physical defenses, which protect the user from direct attack, and magical defenses, which negate specific forms of damage. A few items in this class provide some benefits against both physical and magical attack. Examples of items with resistance or defensive powers include all kinds of magical armor, potions of fire resistance or invulnerability, the various sorts of protection scrolls, rings of mind shielding, sustenance, or protection, cloaks of protection or displacement, and many others.
Naturally, favored materials include those that are resistant to the type of damage defended against by the item. These can be minerals or substances that possess the qualities desired—diamonds for hardness, special clay or crystal for acid resistance, various metals and alloys for strength and resilience. Or they can be samples from a creature known for a certain defense, such as the hide of a displacer beast or blink dog, the scale of a dragon, or the shell of a giant tortoise. Finally, substances inimical to the creature could be used to make a ward; garlic, holy symbols, or holy water could be incorporated into an amulet versus undead.
Intangible materials such as a knight’s courage, a moonbeam, or the morning mists on a sylvan lake may be required instead of physical substances. A scarab versus golems might require the animating spark of a flesh golem, or the pity of an iron golem.
Items of this class take many shapes and forms, but potions, armor, clothing, and jewelry are the most common varieties. The processes involved depend on the exact form of the item. However, processes designed to lend strength— tempering, shellacking or enameling, or bonding—are frequently used to finish these items. Any number of spells provide defenses or resistances of some kind; these may be useful in the creation process.
Resistances generally prevent injury from taking place, but magic of this category concentrates on the swift repair of damage or adverse conditions. Some types of item instead offer enhanced health or longevity; in general, if an item affects the metabolism of the wearer for the purpose of preserving his health, it falls into this category instead of bodily augmentation. Items in this category include potions of healing and longevity, elixirs of health and vitality, ring of regeneration, staff of curing, and periapts of health or wound closure.
Many of these devices or brews require herbs, which are special medicines and preparations famed for their healing potency. These herbs may require special harvesting or treatment before they can be incorporated into an item. In addition, animal samples from creatures who enjoy the properties in question can be useful; for example, a ring of regeneration may require the heart of a troll, while very long-lived creatures (elves, Treants, or dragons) may be useful for magic that prolongs life.
Adventurers are most familiar with potions of this type, and these require the same steps or processes that other potions do—distilling, brewing, aging, purification, and so on. Spells of healing and restoration are often required for creating items of this class, which means that most of these devices are created by priest characters.
As the largest single category of magical items, these devices with offensive powers range from simple enchanted weapons to mighty staves with a dazzling array of dreadful powers. Most rods, staves, and wands fall into this category along with almost all weapons and a fair number of rings, potions, and miscellaneous magical items. Just like defensive items, attack devices provide the wielder with either combat bonuses or magical effects, and a few (such as a staff of power) provide both.
Weapons and other items designed to strike blows at an enemy usually rely on materials designed to grant extraordinary strength, sharpness, flexibility, or lightness and ease of use. Special minerals for the weapon’s alloy are quite common. In addition, weapons with special qualities (quickness, wounding, hurling, and so on) may include samples from creatures that naturally possess these powers; a sword of life stealing might require the essence of a wraith, while a mace of disruption could incorporate the holy symbol of a patriarch dead 1,000 years.
Devices that project magical attacks at the wielder’s enemy often require materials that reflect their nature. A wand of frost could be made from an icicle, the bones of a frost giant shaman, or the fang of a white dragon. A staff of thunder and lightning might require wood taken from a lightning-struck treant; a ring of shocking grasp that is etched with a solution made from the blood of electric eels is also appropriate. Obviously, there are a wonderful variety of ideas to choose from!
The process involved reflects the item in some way. Again, items meant to be employed as weapons will often feature some kind of tempering or strengthening, while other items could be finished in any number of ways. Items of this type that require charges may need certain spells to be cast into them over and over again during the creation process.
Magical items that affect other magical items, provide magical powers to their owners, or somehow augment or enhance the spell capability of their owners belong to this group. These items are among the most potent in the AD&D game system. This category includes rings of spell storing, spell turning, and wizardry; rods of absorption and cancellation; wand of negation; pearl of power; incense of meditation; and the beaker of plentiful potions.
Generally, items of this sort require either highly magical or highly antimagical materials since they are designed to manipulate the very stuff of magic itself. Magical materials include special alloys of meteoric or extraplanar minerals, as well as things such as a unicorn’s horn, a kirin’s hooves, the bones of an archmage, or the holy symbol of a saint. Antimagical materials could consist of specimens from creatures with high magic resistance, iron taken from a nonmagical prime material world, or wood from a tree rooted in a magic-dead area in worlds where such places exist.
Processes suitable for items of this type may involve polishing or etching with a solution of magical or antimagical substances, tempering or engraving it in a place of great magical potential (the extraplanar domain of a god of magic, for example), or bathing it in the raw stuff of magic.
Spells suitable for empowering magic-manipulating items include dweomers such as antimagic shell, dispel magic, Mordenkainen’s disjunction, or spell turning. Priests may rely on imbue with spell ability or holy word.
Items of this sort are designed to have their greatest effects on inanimate objects or substances by transforming, destroying, or otherwise altering something without making a direct attack. Matter-manipulating devices include potion of sweetwater, oil of timelessness, wand of flame extinguishing, decanter of endless water, maul of the titans, or the horn of collapsing. While many of these devices have obvious applications as weapons in certain situations, in most cases this is an incidental benefit or hazard of their normal function.
Materials for these items often consist of substances that have the effect desired or animal samples from creatures that can perform the intended action. For example, a wand of flame extinguishing could incorporate ice or water from the heart of the Elemental Plane of Water, while a spade of colossal excavation might require the ground-up claws of a giant badger to be mixed into the alloy for the shovel’s blade. In a couple of cases, the item contains some kind of link to one of the elemental planes and produces an endless supply of one substance or another.
The process varies with the type of item; tools may require balancing, sharpening, or tempering of some kind. Spells that may be useful include dig, move earth, temporal stasis, purify food and drink, and other spells designed to affect objects.
Items that summon monsters, servants, or champions to aid the wielder fall into the class of summoning devices. In addition to the devices which obviously bring creatures from distant locales, figurines of wondrous power and other objects that transform into living servitors can be considered summoning devices since the overall effect (i.e., the user gains a useful ally of some kind) is much the same. Other summoning items include a ring of djinni summoning, staff of swarming insects, brazier commanding fire elementals, pipes of the sewers, and the horn of Valhalla.
Summoning devices almost always include materials that are pleasing to the creatures to be commanded, or at least signify them in some way. For example, a horn of Valhalla might require the courage of a berserker, iron from the riven shield of a mighty hero, or gold won from a dragon’s hoard. Devices built to summon extraplanar monsters often feature material collected on the subject creature’s home plane.
The finishing processes of a summoning device usually reinforce the bond with the particular creature by bathing or steeping the item in the creature’s blood or by somehow imbuing it with a substance desired by the monster.
Several spells may prove useful in creating these items, including gate, exaction, entrapment, conjure elemental, or binding.