View Full Version : Gear (General) Deceptively useless Magical "Artifacts"

04-15-2013, 11:03 PM
Below is a list of magical items that are mostly useless. Inspired by the notes for DM of the Rings XVII (http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=692).
I always throw one of these into some boss loot every now-and-then. They will usually hang on to these useless things until the heat death of the universe. Sometimes, they even find a use for them... sometimes.

Orb of Bloodlight

Description: It is a smooth, flawless obsidian orb, about the size of an apple, and feels heavy for its size. Its surface is completely smooth, except for a curved indent the size of a copper piece. While you are examining it, you press your thumb against the indent and the Orb suddenly loses its weight and glows a deep crimson, almost the colour of blood. In surprise you drop it, but instead of falling to the floor, it stays exactly where it was when your hand left it. Completely still, as if it were not affected by gravity or wind. You attempt to grab it, but it will not move, as if locked into place. After about a minute, the light suddenly goes off and it falls to the ground. You reach down and are able to pick it up again.

Weight: Dark: 2lbs Light: 0lbs
Magical Effects: When activated by touching the indent: Magical light effect: Deep Crimson 15’
The Orb will become weightless, and as soon as the PC releases it, it will stay where it was left and cannot be moved for 2d8 rounds, or one full minute, at which point the light will go out and it will fall to the ground.
Special Notes: Can only be carried or used by the PC that first activated it. If another PC or NPC tries to carry it, it will be locked in place, like when it has been activated.
Value: Nothing as it cannot be sold

Staff of Svisle

Description: It is what appears to be a 4’ quarterstaff. It is maroon in colour, but its material is unlike anything you have ever seen before. It feels like both wood and metal, but looks like it is carved from stone. It is covered in an intricate pattern that looks like scales. It has the text “Si dartak nomeno visek” carved into it. One end is carved into the shape of a dragon's head, the other a tail. You set it on the ground to sheathe your weapon(s). As soon as your hand leaves it, leaps up and stands perfectly upright, with the head in the air. You push it, and it sways to the side, but always returns to its upright position.

Stats: Damage: 1d6/1d6 x2 - Bludgeoning
Weight: 4lbs
Magical Effects: When no one is holding it or carrying it in their inventory, it will stand perfectly upright. It will react when pushed or pulled, but will always return to its upright position until it is picked up again.
Value: same as +2 quarterstaff
(Fun fact: "Si dartak nomeno visek" means "I hate this adventure" - a line commonly repeated by players in DM of the Rings)

Cloak of Many Colours

Description: At first glance it appears to be just a plain, grey cloak. However, when you touch it, it seems to be made from the finest silk, almost like liquid in your hand.

Stats: Plain cloak, no bonus.
Magical effect: When the player equips the cloak, they roll 3d10. Each dye corresponds to the PC’s hair, skin and eyes. The value of each die corresponds to the following colour table:

Sky Blue


Bottle Green
Lime Green

Dark Blue


The characters hair skin and eyes will be stuck in the colours the player rolled until a remove curse spell is cast on them.
Weight: 0.5lbs
Value: Cursed item: cannot be sold, only gifted.

Ring of “Invisibility”

Description: It is a plain ring made from silver. It has an engraving of an eye with a small, sapphire as the pupil. The gem is glowing faintly.
After the player puts it on: After you put the ring on, you find that you are now completely invisible.
To the other players: Yeah, he only thinks he’s invisible.

Stats: Standard ring, no bonuses
Magic effect: Makes the wearer utterly convinced that they are invisible, despite any evidence that they are, in fact, completely visible. While the ring is equipped, the player cannot be convinced, persuaded, bribed, lectured or coerced into believing that they are visible.
Weight: 0.1lbs
Value: 500gp

04-16-2013, 09:19 AM
are you kidding me? i can totally think of many uses for these interesting items.

04-16-2013, 09:01 PM
Really? Even the ring? If you do ever use one, I would love to hear about it.

04-17-2013, 03:48 PM
oh, especially the ring. just think of the con-artist opportunities! a bit of a bluff check (to pretend that you can't see them) and away we go!

07-09-2013, 05:31 PM
the orb and the staff are kinda cool

02-08-2014, 07:30 PM
Really? Even the ring? If you do ever use one, I would love to hear about it.

In more than one campaign, I have encountered semi-intelligent "monster races" which are blind so they hunt by way of telepathy. If they encountered someone who truly believed he was invisible, their telepathy would accept this as fact, and he would be invisible to them even though someone with a genuine invisibility ring would not be.

I remember this because of a campaign back in college in which a PC magic-user of some sort cast a spell convincing another PC that the creatures couldn't find him, so the game master (technically, the DM) ruled the monsters could not find him while the spell lasted. I have some vague memory of the DM forcing him to make disbelief rolls every time the monsters unnerved him, with the player desperately trying to fail his disbelief roll so he could remain invisible and inaudible to the creatures, but I'm not sure about the details there.

02-08-2014, 07:36 PM
the orb and the staff are kinda cool

The staff would make a wonderful children's toy for a PC to give to NPC nephews or nieces or offspring.

03-23-2014, 05:13 AM
This reminds me of the "magical" items in the Numenera book called Oddities. Nearly worthless, an Oddity is described as an item theat has an effect, but cannot be used for Attack/Defense/Healing/General Usefulness.

One example might be a sheet of ferrous iron the size of a piece of notebook paper that can be bent, ripped, written on, etc like paper but is still metallic.


03-25-2014, 01:15 PM
which works great as poison against those who have vulnerability to cold iron. ;D

and just imagine the paper cuts and pain inflicted that you could achieve using that in a magnetic control field of some kind.... =p

10-15-2014, 04:06 PM
I'm fond of non combat items with a real use, not the hat of comfort or the sensible shoes. The former keeps you comfortable in any normal weather conditions, the latter you avoid fatigue on long marches.

In a similar vein:
*Mirror of corrections -- Fixes you hair and makeup if any
*Spice cabinet of frugality -- As long as you leave some it is full the next day.
*Caldron of cooking -- keeps any liquid within at a low simmer and it will not burn.
*Pan of frying -- cooks without fire.
*Cloak of drama -- -6 to stealth, +4 to social skill rolls.
*Ye old disintigration proof vest -- it will not disintegrate no matter how powerful the caster. You on the other hand....

10-17-2014, 10:22 PM
so many fun mundane and minor enchantments which are so useful.

10-17-2014, 10:44 PM
I introduced a bunch of "crap" magical items to a group once that whined and complained about how useless they were.

Fast forward a year, the campaign ran its course and a new DM starts a new campaign. Session three, the biggest whiner starts asking the DM how much a Cauldron of Cooking would cost to make...


10-18-2014, 12:16 AM
I have one player I would rather give a +5 sword than a qual's feather token and a "useless item"

I gave out these spectacles that either drew a lighter object to you or you to a heavier object, what every you looked at. Man he abused the hell out of that thing.

Right now they have the Aesir stone. A fist sized rock whose only use is divinly binding oaths can be made on it. Oh and the warlock girl is the only one that can pick it up. If you have aesir blood it's a rock. If not it weights 500 pounds.

10-19-2014, 09:06 AM
I agree that I also like "ostensibly" useless object, but ones which CAN be useful in the right circumstances. I gave out a pillow that a magic user could easily detect, though he didn't know its nature, so they kept it and traded it around and different people used it each night and eventually realized it was a Pillow of Sleeping, which actually gave someone a full night's rest and restored fatigue and gave a big bonus to a natural healing roll upon awakening, and would negate any negative effects while asleep, like headaches, nausea, insomnia, etc. I was tempting to make it hard to wake up also but figured that would be a cursed version.

10-19-2014, 10:34 AM
Glop: A gallon flask that gurgles and bubbles with a blackish brown ooze. Glop can be eaten or drunk (kinda). Glop will heal your wounds instantly (kinda). Glop fills the cuts and punctures with glop skin, a shinny blackish brown film. For every ten points of glop healed damage you have you lose a point of charisma. Once your charisma is down 10 points it starts working on your Strength until you lose 10 points of that, then Dexterity then Constitution. You end up looking like a Glop zombie, alive but not very. Glop requires a heal and remove curse to be rid of it. If only the remove curse is used all the damage repaired by the glop returns.

Deck of Many Flings: Each card produces a being sexually attractive to the PC holding the card. The person is a sexual animal and a drama queen/king. They will fill the PC's life with hot sex and exasperating drama. They can only be gotten rid of with a remove curse.

Wooden Cow: A heifer that can be summoned once a week. She will do everything a heifer does, eat and poop. At the end of 24 hours it returns to being a wooden cow. The heifer can be slaughtered and eaten but that destroys the item. Then again, that might be the best use for it.

Stone of mass: This fist sized black stone is heavier than you can lift, or even move. It would require a strength of 50 to even slide across the floor.

Purified Moronanium: Pure stupid in a flask. If the flask is opened everyone in the room has to save vs Will DC 17 or lose a point of Wisdom. If anyone should actually ingest this stuff their wisdom and Intelligence drops by 2d8 points each to a minimum of 4. (OK that one is a curse.)

Deck of Reincarnation: Will force reincarnate anyone that pulls a card. It will preserve stats. Gender will remain the same. Roll on the reincarnation table. Ignore any result of "Same species" There is no save and this is permanent. It can however only be used by the living. It is no help to the dead. The deck can be used ten times and vanishes.

The bag of fish. Like a bag of tricks but it only produces fish.

10-28-2014, 11:05 PM
The bag of fish. Like a bag of tricks but it only produces fish.

that would have been a most desirable item in this one game of robotech that i recall....

10-29-2014, 01:39 AM
Useless items are only useless to those without imagination,

10-29-2014, 05:51 AM
The OP's cloak is a very useful item to a group with a thief and a cleric with remove curse. All I'm saying is Disguise. Also the orb man I had players that would have used that all the time. It stays were you put it for a minute. Use that to help climb the tricky section of a cliff or wall, use it to swing across a ravine. Only the original user can move it, the rest of the party can use that item for all kinds of things. Also Think about combat, wedgie a goblin and hang him from it, Place it at shin level in a narrow passage to trip pressures (Covered in a very dark cloth), so many uses.

11-21-2014, 04:53 AM
my point is though that no item is truly useless the players or GM just haven't found a use for it. For instance I gave a party a set of jewelry made of gold with a illusion scene on them and the scene changed when you changed which pieces you were wearing. A very pricey piece of artwork I thought. NOPE they used it to aid in disguise, to distract weak enemies, to con a merchant into buying the same item several times, and more. By the end I ended up having an enchantment eater eat the fregin thing just to be rid of it.

11-21-2014, 07:53 AM
Some "cursed" items I see as misused. The necklace of strangulation for example. It's an assassination tool, not a cursed item. It does exactly what it is meant to do.

11-21-2014, 06:05 PM
Indeed! I remember racing into battle with "cursed" versions of my character's main weapon in hand - to "trip" and drop it accidentally as I was almost engaging the enemy. Invariably, one of the folks in the enemy party would pick it up and attempt to use it against us. (insert insane giggling here!!).

11-23-2014, 02:23 PM
Of course, there is always the list of "cursed" items which grant large bonuses that reverse upon the performance of a particular action, which certain clever players go to great lengths to avoid said actions, leading to certain hillarious sequences in game.