Magic items in Dungeons & Dragons are often seen as powerful upgrades to a character's abilities. Sometimes they are so powerful they open up an entirely new strategy to a character. But magic items can be much more than artifacts that make your player's characters more powerful. Browsing through the Dungeon Master's Guide as well as Xanathar's Guide to Everything, one will discover that there are many magic items within the pages of these dusty tomes that lend themselves to all kinds of hijinks.
Many of these hijinks are at the expense of the players. As anyone who's been playing Dungeons & Dragons for a while will tell you, the Deck of Many Things is chief among these disastrous devices. But there are also many not so menacing options. One thing is for certain: after introducing a few of these magic items into your campaign, your players won't look at magic items the same way again.
Updated by Paul DiSalvo on September 30th, 2021: D&D is an incredibly fleshed-out game that features a wide range of magic items that provide the world with a lot of character. As a world brimming with magic, it isn’t far-fetched that for every impressive magically powered weapon in the world, there is another magic item that possesses a more mundane and superfluous magical effect with significantly less practicality than an adventurer may hope for. With such a massive concentration of items, it should not be a shock that many of the items of d&d, both useful and not, can be a great source of comedy within a campaign.
20 The Deck Of Many Things
One of the most iconic items for D&D’s history, the Deck of Many Things is a deck of 22 cards that each have effects that vary greatly in quality.
While some cards in the deck have incredible effects, providing a character with anything from riches to power, other cards can provide disastrous effects such as permanently reducing a character's intelligence or even killing a character outright. This makes the deck one of the most unpredictable and risky items in the entirety of D&D.
19 Shield Of Expression
Shields in D&D come in a variety of forms, offering varying levels of defenses, with some offering additional effects such as the ability to be wielded without occupying a character’s hands.
However, one of the most unnecessary magic shields in Dungeons & Dragons is undoubtedly the Shield of Expression. It's simply a shield that takes on a face-like appearance, in addition to having the exact same functionality as a normal shield. As a bonus action, a creature holding the shield may alter the shield’s expression. That’s it.
18 Alchemy Jug
On paper, the Alchemy Jug is an item that doesn’t seem to funny, able to produce large quantities of useful liquids each given day, potentially producing things like acid, poison, or clean drinking water.
However, what lands this item on this list is its ability to effectively produce infinite amounts of substances such as Mayonnaise, Honey, and Beer. This means that with an Alchemy Jug, a party can hypothetically utilize massive amounts of these substances however they may see fit, as long as they are able to collect the liquids each day.
17 Armor Of Gleaming
Perfect for characters who love to keep up appearances, Armor of Gleaming is a common type of magic armor that can come in various forms, each either of a type of heavy or medium armor.
Providing effectively no actual gameplay improvements over normal armor, Armor of Gleaming has the distinction of not being able to be dirtied, meaning a character wearing a suit of this armor will always be looking their best.
16 Tankard Of Sobriety
Few downtime activities are as synonymous with D&D as a party hanging out in a tavern. Often resulting in several rounds of constitution saving throws, alcohol tends to be as potent in the game (if not moreso) than in reality.
However, for those looking for a way around this, a Tankard of Sobriety is a common wondrous item that exists entirely to negate all alcoholic effects of alcohol within it.
15 Bag Of Devouring
While the most menacing magic item of all is undoubtedly the legendary deck of many things, the bag of devouring comes in at a close second. For, like the deck of many things, the bag of devouring is very capable of killing an unsuspecting party.
It takes the shape of a bag of holding, hiding its malicious nature like a wolf in sheep's clothing. But, once a player reaches into the bag, there is a 50 percent chance they are pulled inside. Any creature who starts their turn inside the bag is instantly and entirely devoured. Other players may attempt to pull people inside of the bag out, but first, they must avoid being pulled in themselves, and second, they must beat a DC 20 Strength check. Yummy adventurers.
14 Bag Of Tricks
This item is capable of providing a lot of fun, especially for any player who is fond of pets. It can be used three times per day to summon a fey creature at random by rolling a d8. The creature is friendly to you and obeys your commands.
Players who develop relationships with their fey-based friends by giving them names or summoning them as if they were Pokemon will find this item extremely entertaining. If they're lucky, they'll summon a giant goat into an enclosed space or roll up a mouse when the party is fighting tigers.
13 Egg Of Distraction
Out of the million forms a diversion might take, why an egg? Then again, why not? Bear in mind as well that this is just a normal, everyday, medium-sized white egg. It's not a nifty color, it doesn't have a fancy pattern, and a baby dragon isn't going to pop out of it.
The Egg of Distraction spins on its wide end on any flat surface to draw the eyes of anyone nearby, and this includes casters that will fail their saving throws for concentration, which means this item is comical but certainly not useless.
12 Cloak Of Billowing
If you're going to be a hero, you've got to look the part! The way his cloak billows as if blown by hurricane-force winds, how dashing! This is a great item to give the vainest member of your party.
It simultaneously gives a nod to the character's oversized ego, providing a good laugh for the other players at the table and satisfying the player's need to further inflate said ego. A win for all parties involved.
11 Bone Seed
This is extremely cool, but unfortunately, Bone Seed is also completely useless. It doesn't form a wall to keep people out, it doesn't come to life as a minion and fight for you, nor will it ever bear some kind of necrotic or calcified fruit.
The only real purpose Bone Seed would have would be to decorate the home or garden of a person of certain specific tastes, indicating this weird item is the product of a bored but death-obsessed wizard who's also into home design.
10 Hat Of Vermin
Pets that like you are cool and all, but what's really all the rage are pets that despise you! The perfect gift for a wizard, druid, or barbarian character, the Hat of Vermin allows its owner to summon a bat, rat, or frog three times per day. Each of these vermin is a critter, so they won't be much help in combat.
Furthermore, the creatures summoned from this hat behave as normal and are not under the summoner's control. On the contrary, they try to get away from you as fast as possible! You could even have vermin spill out of the hat by dungeon master decision, plaguing one of your players with an endless curse of critters.
9 Brooch Of Number Numbing
Perhaps it was created by a wizard who hated math teachers or a player of a non-Thief class who wanted to invent a way to steal from people. It's similar to a cursed item, but instead, it works on people looking at the item as opposed to wearing it.
The brooch doesn't just make numbers meaningless, but other related skills as well, like estimating amounts or currency exchange. Handy if you know how and when to use it, but it was a strange mind that invented the thing.
8 Weapon Of Warning (Sentient)
The weapon of warning is an incredibly strong magic item that will prevent your players from ever suffering a surprise round again. However, with an added twist of sentience, this item can also become a fun and memorable companion.
Have the weapon warn the players by screaming a cry for help, repeatedly shouting of incoming danger, or speaking a memorable catchphrase such as "This time, you'll die for sure!" Whatever the weapon says, give it a quirky voice that turns its warnings into a moment of amusement.
7 Wand Of Smiles
Speaking of amusement, the Wand of Smiles will amuse you, your players, and the characters in your game to no end. The charges stowed in this wand can be used to force a character to make a Charisma saving throw. On a failure, they forcibly smile for the next minute.
It's perfect for playing a prank on the campaign's dark and foreboding big bad evil guy or bringing some levity into an otherwise gloomy situation. There's also a version of the wand that comes in scowls if smiles don't fit into your party's dynamic. (Sounds like a boring party though)
6 Mirror Of Simple Order
We understand what it does, but we just don't know why. Maybe it's cursed, but is this really a curse? "Simple order" in this case means ultimate balance, and in the D&D universe, that means Lawful Neutral.
Players that look into this mirror turn Lawful Neutral, and not just when it comes to alignment, but also their clothing and personality. Bright clothes become dull, and ornamental armor loses its decor. Depending on the person, this might change a character for the better, or alternatively not at all, if they were already Lawful Neutral.
5 Pipes Of The Sewers
Turn your game's bard into the pied piper. The pipes of the sewers allow a character proficient in wind instruments to summon and control a horde of rats.
These pipes could be used in mundane situations such as clearing the rats from the lower holds of a ship for some coin, or more grisly ones like using your three swarms of rats to torture information out of someone. If nothing else, it makes coming up with the party's dinner a simpler task.
4 Sovereign Glue
Talk about a sticky situation. If allowed to set for a duration of one minute, sovereign glue sticks anything together. The only way to undo said sticking is through the use of some other magic items. They are called universal solvents and oils of slipperiness.
The only other way to unstick the items is by using a ninth-level wish spell. Having a character unknowingly discover this glue only to become stuck to something is a comical opening to a quest about finding some way of resolving the issue.
3 Gourd Of Travel
It's a way for Bards to travel, which is exactly why it's so strange. A gourd? For a Bard? What the actual Gygax? Isn't this something that you would find in the inventory of a Druid or a Shaman? Even a Ranger or Warrior would make more sense.
It's a strange item no matter who's carrying it, but the quirky design could be the result of trying to hide a teleportation device by making it into a mundane item. Either way, it still gets your there, so crazy but not stupid.
2 Dust Of Sneezing And Choking
If you're a dungeon master with an especially cruel streak, here's an item that will have you licking your lips. The dust of sneezing and choking appears to be the dust of invisibility. Even the use of an identify spell will identify the item as such.
In reality, it's something entirely different. When this dust is thrown into the air, each creature within 30 feet must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or become unable to breathe and suffer from the incapacitated condition, meaning they lose their actions and bonus actions on their turn. Thus, if used in the midst of combat, the dust of sneezing and choking can be brutally punishing. When your players never trust a word out of your mouth again, don't say we didn't warn you of the consequences.
1 Bag Of Beans
This magic bag has a small chance to turn your gritty mystery noir-themed campaign into a fantastical fairy tale adventure. The bag of beans has a long list of effects, but none of them happen until a bean is planted in the ground, watered, and then allowed to sit for a minute. Monsters may sprout from where the bean was planted, fruits, mushrooms, or eggs could appear, or a giant 60-foot tall pyramid might bud into existence.
There is also the chance a giant beanstalk sprouts forth, climbing into the sky beyond sight. The bag of beans is capable of creating adventures on its own. Any magic item that provides enough content to run an entire session is an object that will force your players to see magic items in a new light. For magic items are not just around to make characters more powerful. You can utilize them to create opportunities for roleplay, build a bigger sense of the world, and aid in the cooperative storytelling that makes Dungeons and Dragons so special.
Peter Parker's adventure into the metaverse could have been so much more.