Article Header Image
Magic Items and Attunement
Mike Mearls

I n the D&D Next playtest, we introduced the idea of magic item attunement. Attunement is a big benefit for DMs and game balance, in that it limits the number of powerful magic items a character can use. When you attune an item, you allow its magic to mingle with your own life essence. You reveal your inner power to the item, and in return, it grants you greater power. Because of the strain involved in attuning, a character cannot attune more than three items at a time.

Simple magic items, including potions and scrolls, don't require attunement. Though they are magical in nature, these items are simply tools that don't require any special link to a character in order to function. Items that require attunement are more notable and powerful. They are the signature items that help define a character in the world. Think of Raistlin and the Staff of Magius,or Drizzt's link to the figurine of wondrous power that allows him to summon Guenhwyvar, his animal companion. More than just items, these are key parts of each character's story.

When you attune an item, you run the risk of falling under its thrall. Though not all items requiring attunement carry a drawback, one never knows the item's purpose or the intentions of its creator. A magic dwarven axe might compel a character to seek out a lost clan home and destroy the dragon that lairs there. A dagger used to carry out sacrifices to Asmodeus might promise great power in return for fealty to the Lord of the Nine Hells. A suit of armor crafted by duergar might repel all attacks, but freeze its wearer helplessly in place when facing the gray dwarves in battle.

Attunement poses something of a risk for a character. It shows that magic items are built for a purpose—but sometimes that purpose weighs more heavily on a character than the bonuses or special abilities provided by an item. As with many things we're designing for D&D, the drawbacks of attunement are another tool that DMs can make use of to encourage roleplaying and bring the campaign to life.

Though named artifacts such as the Hand of Vecna will come with specific attunement drawbacks, general magic items lack them. For example, the staff of defense requires attunement, but its entry lacks any drawbacks for attunement. Instead, the DM has the option to flesh out a specific staff's backstory and add options for a character who attunes to it. A stafffound in a dragon's hoard might have been crafted for the bodyguard of an ancient sorcerer queen. The character attuned to it gains knowledge of the lost city that the queen once ruled. But when the character meets the queen's distant ancestor, he has a sudden urge to follow her and protect her from harm. Thus does the staff continue to serve its role even after thousands of years.

The story elements of attunement are meant to bring items to life as rare and mysterious objects, embedded in the history and cultures of the campaign. Used well, attunement can add a sense of wonder to the game and make magic items feel unique and exciting.

Identifying Items

Part of D&D's sense of wonder comes from the mystery that surrounds magic items. With the system for attunement in mind, we went back and looked at the process of identifying the items your characters might find during an adventure.

Simply handling a normal magic item is enough to determine that it is imbued with mystical power. Detect magic is still useful to pinpoint magic items from a distance, or to detect auras from items that do not innately hint at their magical nature. You can spend a short rest studying a magic item to learn its abilities, during which time it's assumed that you experiment with the item and try to activate its magic. A character can inspect one item per short rest. (Potions are an exception to this rule. Simply sipping a potion reveals its properties.)

If an item requires attunement, you do not learn the risks and benefits of attuning after a short rest. You learn that you can attune to the item, but not what happens when you do so. Attuning to an item reveals its abilities. However, some of the benefits and drawbacks presented by an item might take time to reveal themselves.

If you are wary of attuning to an item, the identify spell reveals all of an item's properties and drawbacks. Though this spell is no longer necessary to learn an item's secrets, it does save you the risk of first attuning to an item and then learning what it does.

These changes were made to better match how we saw players handling items in their campaigns. Few DMs were enforcing use of the identify spell, and most characters simply attempted to use obviously beneficial items such as magic weapons and armor. We think these rules are clearer, simpler, and a better match for what players expect at the table.

Mike Mearls
Mike Mearls is the senior manager for the D&D research and design team. He led the design for 5th Edition D&D. His other credits include the Castle Ravenloft board game, Monster Manual 3 for 4th Edition, and Player’s Handbook 2 for 3rd Edition.
Sort Items By: Newest First Oldest First Top Rated
The covers of the new books don't look too bad. The new Monster Manual cover is especially impressive.

God, the covers of the 3rd and 4th edition books were awful. The 4th edition cover art was cartoonish, seemingly aimed exclusively at 12-year-olds.
Posted By: Steppenwolf41 (5/20/2014 1:30:46 PM)


About items, albeit not the magical sort (couldnt find another place to vent my anger, since the advertisements don't have comment sections):
Why, in all the 9 hells, are you putting out the new minis in blind boxes - again? I would even consider playing this silly game if I was living in the US and could purchase one of these for the proposed 18.99$.
But I happen to live in Europe, and they ask 35 Euros -which translates to about 48 $- for one of these boxes over here. And honestly, even if I was not a student, but earning enough money to consider start collecting these new minis in the blind-box mode they are sold right now, i most likely would not, as this is close to racketeering.
I've read enough around here, and have talked to some gamers here, to know that many people over here in the old world would indeed consider buying these things, if they could see what they'll get for their money.
Posted By: Schmieth (5/19/2014 12:36:34 PM)


I still like the mystery of trial and error with magic items and dislike the idea of simply handling the item for a few minutes to know all its secrets. But I guess the attuning idea does cater to both groups. We can have the easy identify bit and still have some element of mystery to items deserving of it.
Not bad, all in all but I think I may house-rule it to take a little longer than a short rest to know fully what an item can do.
Posted By: nighteternal (5/19/2014 10:50:42 AM)


I know people complain about the comment system with every post, but too much is too much.

I notice that anyone who comments that they like the article has 1 star. It's very obvious (but impossible to tell) that some buttmad user just went down the list, clicking 1-star over and over. Can we go back to "liking" comments instead of rating them like movies? A star system makes no sense, especially since we can't see how many votes there were. Oh, and you can refresh the page and vote on the same comment as many times as you please. GG.
Posted By: Shroom-Mage (5/18/2014 7:03:11 AM)


I find the approach from the playtest and elaborated on in this article very appealing. I have mainly played 3.5 and it was pretty commonplace within the group that I played with that characters, upon reaching higher levels, would often be able to find specific +X magic Weapons and Armor at appropriate shops within game. After reading this article I believe that the approach outlined will aid it keeping a sense of wonder to magic items that was easily lost in the way that my group approached the more architectural method enabled by the 3.5 system.
Posted By: Grindeland (5/17/2014 3:20:59 PM)


More story elements behind each magical item makes for a rich campaign setting. Well done!
Posted By: Pyrate_Jib (5/15/2014 11:16:40 AM)


I would really like to see some sort of concordance thing a la 4e artifacts where you can gain more power as you level up/work toward the goals or inclinations of the magic item.
Posted By: OskarOisinson (5/14/2014 12:39:04 PM)


The magic identification rules appear to leave a good gradation across the play dynamics for experimentation, reading clues, and being outright told the abilities. It makes it quite clear what to do for what play-style, and what sorts of items play toward what dynamic (knowing vs experimentation). (It gives me the idea of dropping the identify spell for more mysterious campaigns.) Very organized!

I wouldn't see much point in attunement except I like the risk-reward dynamic of it, given the above, and the potential for dangerous mysteries and storytelling opportunities that immediately affect the PCs. Attunement also dovetails with the traditional "clingy" cursed item trope of the game and puts that choice to cling to an item that's bad for you in the player's, not just the PC's, mind, by default (though I imagine you could have a heavy-handed "cannot equip until" condition too, if you wanted).
Posted By: Dreamstryder (5/14/2014 1:33:23 AM)


There is definitely a need for truly cursed items, which attach themselves to the hapless character who simply picks them up with no thought of attunement. That, and the relic of overwhelming fill-in-the-blank which blasts those of differing outlook reckless enough to merely touch it. Sure, mark them as optional in the random table but anyone who resents the possibility of h/h character being punished just for trying to explore the world around h/h is simply asking for a Win button.
Posted By: RadperT (5/27/2014 1:40:48 AM)


Hmm, very similar to 13th Age. They have magic item attunement and quirks. I would say they did it first and better but I can't fault Mearls for copying Heinsoo and Tweet, because 13th Age is an awesome game!
Posted By: Cendragon (5/13/2014 5:57:03 PM)


Since this horrible comment system won't let me reply to my own comment… grrrr

In many ways, my point buy idea is little different than the older idea of +1-6 bonuses/properties from 3E. However, making the pool related to the character's level rather than wealth, tying it into attunement, and using the bounded accuracy system so that power-creep doesn't make magic items an in-built game assumption, I think would allow for as much flexibility in creating magic items as 3E, but with far more balance and DM discretion.
Posted By: OskarOisinson (5/13/2014 2:53:06 PM)


Might I suggest something I've LOOOOONG thought would be useful in magic items?

Point Buy

I would love to see a point buy system to creating magical items. Each character could have a pool of points based on what level of magic there is in a given campaign and what level the individual character is. Then the DM can spend though points freely throughout the campaign and easily track and balance magic items across party members. Points would essentially buy different magical attributes and, I guess could potentially interact with the cost of them (though in 5e, most magic items seem to be meant to be priceless). Either way, I think it would be easier than having to rely on gold, which makes them seem more like commodities that can be liquidated.

FInally, perhaps we could call them 'Attunement Points' or something, and this would be the limiting factor in how many items one might have attuned at one time. SO, a higher level character could either have a... (see all)
Posted By: OskarOisinson (5/13/2014 2:33:23 PM)


Thank you, thank you, thank you, love this idea! Magic should be special, mysterious , and dangerous and this brings all of that to the forefront. I despise playing in overpowered campaigns with super hero characters, and this creates a method to control that. It's also easy enough to ignore for those who dislike the rule. Great idea!
Posted By: tirwin (5/13/2014 1:36:39 PM)


The whole "magic items" update was still the best thing to come out of the playtests since the first playtest. Absolutely brilliant, love the direction you were going back in the playtest days, and it sounds like you haven't strayed far.
Posted By: nukunuku (5/13/2014 11:17:59 AM)


I really like the approach. Magic items have always been tricky to use in the game. Throw too many at the players and they don't seem special, make them too rare and wondrous and they never get used. This approach of limiting powerful items to three will help prevent power builds that break the game, and keep magic items under control. At the same time, bounded accuracy prevents the need to have tons of magic gear to stay relevant at high levels.

I like how you can figure out the basics of an item, but you don't really know what will happen when you attempt to use the item unless you have a wizard (or something like it) that can discern it's true nature. This is very much Tolkinish, which I approve! It also hardens back to original DnD where every magic sword was intelligent, with its own agenda. While I'm sure some swords can have just a basic old +1 enchantment, the idea that your holy avenger, vorporl sword, staff of power, or whatever, has it's own purpose, and will try... (see all)
Posted By: moes1980 (5/13/2014 11:06:41 AM)


I Like it. Like the roleplaying aspects of it.

Hope that means you still can use a magical item wihout attuning, only it will be limited in power.
Posted By: Avin (5/13/2014 10:19:54 AM)


I don't mind Attunement for people who want to use it as an optional add on, but it really changes too many of the default assumptions of the game for my tastes. The flavor is weird--especially if you get enslaved to your bag of tricks. Very weird.
Posted By: Grimcleaver (5/13/2014 2:56:01 AM)


Let's see, what classes absolutely require their magic items? Not the spellcasters, they have spells to carry them through. Oh, the FIGHTERS do? Yeah, you ain't fooling by constantly trying to use "Staff of defense" as your item of choice, we all know what this means: Fighters get a weapon, armor, and one other thing, the end. I noticed that scrolls - and, likely, wands - strangely don't require the attunement process! Huh!

And then we hit Identify. Let me translate this: We noticed classes DIDN'T identify everything in fear that it might be cursed. Well forget you! Identify everything! It might be cursed! How DARE you not bring a wizard along!

Also I love that being smart in of itself isn't enough. Like your fighter with high history can go "I know this, it's the ancient blade of the last elven king!" and when asked what it does, NO IDENTIFY TOO BAD, his answer is "hah hah man I don't know, let's ask the wizard."

I mean, ... (see all)
Posted By: FatherWendigo (5/13/2014 2:48:04 AM)


Stupid non-working Reply link.

@BadMike: the way in which you use combat etc for a character to learn what an item does sounds EXACTLY like my interpretation of Attunement, you just havent given it a label and written it into the rules. :)

I -REALLY- like this idea. One of the things with 3rd, 4th, Pathfinder is the prevalence of DM's that spam magic items. I recall reading when the first information about 5th Ed came out that WotC wanted to bring some of the mystery of magic back into magical items. This appears to be how they intend to fulfil this. If attunement can be married with some form of scaling as the character increases in level then in affect a DM only has to ever give a single magical weapon to a fighter (as an example), who's potency increases with the fighters own prowess, fame (or infamy). I would like to play it that way. But there WILL be others that dont, and want to play 5th Ed more like 3rd/4th/Pathfinder - therefore make it an optional rule, ... (see all)
Posted By: ShaneBlake (5/12/2014 9:29:03 PM)


More to the point, what about classes than NEED magic items to stay relevant past the 6th level or so? Take the Fighter or the Rogue - outside of the Spellsword in the current playtest docs, neither of the two are really capable of dealing effectively with a majority of the enemies you'll be facing in adventures like the recent 'Dead in Thay' Encounters season. By filling the weapon slot with a very necessary magic item, they're hobbled AGAIN by having one less very essential slot, while the Paladin, Mage, Bard, ect. enjoy a good bit of flexibility in their choice of item combinations - the very thing 'Attunement' was meant to guard against.
Posted By: FatherWendigo (5/13/2014 3:11:19 AM)


I made a6th level human fighter with a great sword that dishes out between 8d6+6 to 12d6+9 damage every turn, before factoring in his improved crit chance and once per day action surge. The ability to take -5 to do double damage dice, and getting an extra attack every time you kill or crit a monster once per turn is sick. With most monsters having low AC even at high levels the -5 is usually worth taking. I did a few practice fights with the fighter vs a hydra and every time the fighter killed it in two rounds of combat with minimal damage. On top of that he has a constant DR3 going on, which dosnt sound like much but it adds up fast (think of getting hit 4 times in one round of combat and suffering 12 less damage then yiu would have otherwise). Trust me, the fighter is plenty bad ass without magic items, even if he has to face something that takes half damage. The only real danger is the handful of monsters that are immune to normal weapon damage and things that charm, fear, etc.
(see all)
Posted By: moes1980 (5/13/2014 10:44:03 AM)


Also, I like the idea of limiting the total amount of magical items a character can carry/use, especially with the Forgotten Realms being the default setting (finally. Seriously, what took so long with that? All your novels are Forgotten Realms, people). Too much magic could create a warp or disturbance in the Weave, which would actually be pretty cool to play out.
Posted By: Warduck (5/12/2014 6:06:00 PM)


I can see attunement working with artifacts, like from 1e and 2e. But I don't think a +1 longsword carries enough punch to require this mechanic. The Hand and Eye of Vecna? Yes. Intelligent items like Khazid'hea? Of course. But a ring of protection? i hope there's more to it than what's being fed to us. I like to think they keep the really juicy bits in the kitchen, so to speak.
Posted By: Warduck (5/12/2014 6:01:29 PM)


I agree with you that attunement should be reserved for more powerful magic items.

I plan to keep the bonuses limited to +1 (maybe +2) without attunement. Likewise, wands, staffs, etc. will be limited in either spell level, number of uses, or flexibility (i.e. if a staff has multiple effects, only one will be available without attunement).

In addition to the limit on 3 attuned items, I may also place a cap on the combined power of the attuned items (i.e. powerful items may be jealous of each other and suppress the effects of other, less powerful, or later-acquired items of power). I.e. to use a level 4 item (+4 attack or defense or level 4 spells/effects), other magic items may be limited to +3 (or +2).

Magic ceases to be wondrous if every fighter has a +3 weapon, +3 armor, and a cloak of invisibility.

Posted By: Rlyehable (5/12/2014 9:23:15 PM)


Unless its changed since the last Playtest I read, magical weapons and armor only go to +1, and than have a property. Gone are the +2,+3,+4, +5 stuff and thus that +1 longsword is pretty powerful on its own.
Posted By: Killwalla (5/12/2014 11:16:16 PM)


Not gone, just really rare and thus properly appropriate for high-level characters. I played with some guys who would start rolling up their "treasure" out of the back of the DMG themselves after every combat–for about two months. It is ironic that the new edition's designers are trying to show the Monty Haul mentality the Pathfinder door, while simultaneously marketing goes after the immature Awesome-O's with their folios, renown and certificates.
Posted By: RadperT (5/27/2014 1:03:44 AM)


I meant Awesome X (it was really late), but there's actually not that much difference between Xavier Crews & Carman 4:16.
Posted By: RadperT (5/27/2014 9:17:54 AM)


Cartman (sigh). What I get for trying to be cute, but if you look up Carman you'll probably find out that's about the same thing, too.
Posted By: RadperT (5/27/2014 9:21:05 AM)


I've had groups which didn't have a Wizard or Sorcerer and so didn't have access to the Identify spell. Nor did they always have access to a friendly wizard or sage. To save time and effort, I would let them use the item for a while and then tell them what it was. I disliked doing that so this attunement idea is welcome. While it comes to the same thing, at least this method gives some story and pushes creativity. We have a couple of Warforged in our campaign with weapons made by Giants at least 10,000 years ago. Distracted by all the other things which have happened in the campaign, I missed a great opportunity to add some history and consequences to those items. If nothing else, this rule would remind me that there's yet another possibility.
Posted By: Maerlius (5/12/2014 5:59:17 PM)


This is still assuming that magic items were made by the Ancients and that wizards PCs can't tie their shoes let alone make a magical sword. How does attuning work when the players create the items?
Posted By: ZaranBlack (5/12/2014 5:06:39 PM)


This attunement thing is just stupid. There shouldn't be any set rules for how many magical items a person can use except for the obvious, like only one helmet at a time, only one pair of boots at a time, etc. Making it so you can only use the three is just idiotic. My group will never follow that rule and will houserule it. If it makes fights too easy, we can always make the monsters harder to kill. If anything, this attunement thing should be done as an optional rule rahter than the base rule.
Posted By: ChasenBrandstone (5/12/2014 4:50:48 PM)


Posted By: Diamondfist (5/12/2014 9:35:32 PM)


I like attunement as a mechanic, but I am being less draconian with it, and adapting it to bounded accuracy. Basically, players get an extra attunement slot every three levels. They start with one. Magic items in my campaign have an unattuned propertly, allowing for someone nabbing something mid-combat, or some light item trading. This is usually half as powerful as the base item. I added a feat to allow for an extra attunement slot, and a mechanic where a character foregoes an attunement slot to get the advantage when trying to use an item unattuned.

Overall, I think that this is a direct response to the magic item bazzar od 3.x, followed by the "item card" syndrome of 4e. I like the flavor, and what it brings to the table, but I also don't actually see the limit as making sense as a universal flat rule.
Posted By: Delascabezas (5/12/2014 3:38:23 PM)


When I first heard about 5th Edition I will admit to be a little upset. I had bought into 3rd edition whole heartedly even though I had a HUGE collection of Basic and 2nd Edition stuff I still used. I thought 3rd edition was a much needed improvement. When 4th Edition came out I bought into it as well, but it was so far adrift from the game I loved I was let down and came to see it as nothing more than a money grab.
I moved to Pathfinder when 4th Edition came out and never looked back. I followed the progression of 5th edition out of nothing more than morbid curiosity, like a sad old guy that spends all day reading obituary's looking for all the enemies he has outlived.
But after seeing the direction they are taking with 5th edition, I am both surprised and glad to see it. I even convinced my group of equally jaded by 4th edition players to give a playtest a go round and we all loved it. I for one am looking forward to 5th edition and will be buying it as soon as it appears. ... (see all)
Posted By: thrylax (5/12/2014 1:01:23 PM)


Good direction and ideas here, but could you please take down Asmodeus from deity status. Let him be an arch-devil again if you want, but don't let him be described as a deity in the game.
Posted By: SirAntoine (5/12/2014 12:15:37 PM)


I agree, as long as we have Warlocks in the game we don't need clerics of Asmodeus. Robed figures dealing curses and damaging spells are more appropriate than a healer in chain mail.
Posted By: MacEochaid (5/12/2014 4:50:43 PM)


If that was sarcasm it went over my head!
Posted By: RadperT (5/27/2014 12:44:23 AM)


i think there is some concern about "requiring attunement".

What level of power are we dealing with, with attunement items? Are we talking about +3 or higher equivalent weapons/armors (Armor of X, Blade of Y, etc)

Say I have a Flametongue: I'm under the impression I'd be able to use it as a +2 longsword just fine without attuning it, right?
Posted By: CorrinAvatan (5/12/2014 12:05:35 PM)


Attunement is a solution looking for a problem. DnD never had this before and it doesn't need it this time around. We all know this concept was spawned from the abyss of the MMORPG. IMO, DnD doesn't need it at all. It only creates problems and it makes the game more complicated. There is no reason why players shouldn't be allowed to swap magical items during combat. Why do the designers feel the need to prevent item usage during combat?
Posted By: dmgorgon (5/12/2014 12:03:09 PM)


I kind of think that the "solution looking for a problem" is actually wrong.

I think the concern is having a rule that can allow DMs to have something in writing that prevents the whole "item buld spam" problems, or unintentional item combos.

This is the other side of the coin for tuning the game to work with no magic items, in my mind. If each character can use an unlimited number of heavy-duty magical items with extremely useful magical properties.

I remember playing once in a 3.5 game, where the party, over the course of the game, came across multiple "Resist X elemental damage" weapons and armor.

The Fighter eventually became invincible to the point of being a threat to the rest of the party, as no matter what element was being slugged at him, he would just switch weapons and then resist that element. By just drawing a different weapon, he had resist 5 or higher to everything except Force.

It s... (see all)
Posted By: CorrinAvatan (5/12/2014 12:18:20 PM)


There are certain items for which something like attunement should be necessary. Anything that can be easily switched out in battle -- weapons, rings, carried items -- should be used exclusively for some period before granting powerful spoiler abilities like true seeing, resistance, and the like. The notion of drawback and a 3 item limit, however, go beyond that, and bring in well into the territory of a balancing factor for item power. I agree that there needs to be something to prevent PCs from stringing powerful charms on a Keychain of Every Contingency, but I don't think that there needs to be a hard limit on the "magicalness" of a PC.

There's a power budget to allow a maximal bonus based on effect, and rules to spread effects out to theme-appropriate item slots. That should limit bonus per area to one item slot. Has this system broken down? Is this a fail-safe rule, or a band-aid?
Posted By: longwinded (5/12/2014 5:40:53 PM)


The DM will always be required to prevent these sorts of abuses. I don't think the attunement rule solves that problem at all.
Posted By: dmgorgon (5/12/2014 12:41:03 PM)


I think the problem trying to be prevented is the fact that after a certain level, campaigns just come to a halt because players are more powerful than ANYTHING a DM can possibly throw at them. The only way to challenge players of such power is to take the game to ridiculous proportions to the point that it ceases being a fantasy adventure game and becomes a medieval themed super-hero game. I for one think the rule is a elegant and much needed solution to a long standing problem.
But on the plus side, if you don't like the rule yourself then just house rule it out of your campaigns.
Posted By: thrylax (5/12/2014 1:13:02 PM)


That doesn't do anything to solve the problem that can be caused by high level casters. Though it does help ensure that non-casters are never on the same level.
Posted By: Bluenose (5/13/2014 7:48:48 AM)


That sounds like a problem DM, one who is not reading the advice in his DMG. For the past several decades what you described has never been an issue.
Posted By: dmgorgon (5/12/2014 2:07:28 PM)


@dmgorgon I think you're making some grand assumptions here. Nowhere in the article does it say that all magic items are subject to attunement, and regardless, those rules fall to the DM's discretion.

Only "powerful" magic items appear subject to this rule, and I'm sure some interesting examples will follow in the official material; however, I'll stress it again, the DM can just say, "oh hey, no items in my campaign require attunement." Problem solved, works for everyone. Also, I like the description that Darkwon provided, as that's probably how I'll approach it in most cases.

I could reassert the same point for identification rules, but I don't think I need to. Thank you Wizards for some interesting ideas, and I will mold them to my campaign as I see fit.
Posted By: edragoon148 (5/12/2014 1:08:52 PM)


I like most of this a lot, but I'm not totally sold on "You automatically know what an item does"

I'd probably house rule that you can tell if a weapon or armor is magic to the extent that you know what the amount of pluses it grants by swinging it around or wearing it, and any passive abilities such as frost damage, sure, but any daily or limited use powers require an identify spell.

Same with rings or other items that hold spells and aren't passive benefits. You may know automatically a ring holds a spell (or maybe not, depending on the campaign or the item) but you may not know what that spell is until you cast it, either by mental command or uttering the command word scrawled on the inside, etc.

Posted By: bogmad (5/12/2014 11:52:56 AM)


I don't think limited players to 3 magical items that require attunement is really all that nescassary. Items that require attunement should have multiple benefits.

1) Basic Benefits that don't require attunement
Example: Gain an enhancement bonus from a magical ax or armor
2) Attunement benefits when a player decides to attune with it.
Example: On hit with magic ax, burst 5 thunder damage equal to an ability modifier.

Then say you can only get the attunement benefits from 3 items, but you can still equip that ax or armor and get the basic benefits. This model brings those same items to life better then just limiting the player to an item and allows them to equip multiple items requiring attunement, while controlling the power level from attunement powers.
Posted By: Darkwon (5/12/2014 11:45:23 AM)


Hey Mike, have you considered how Nystul's undetectable aura and Nystul's magical aura will work with these changes? Or have you just junked those cool spells from the game?
Posted By: dmgorgon (5/12/2014 9:59:26 AM)


A mechanic to unlock a magic item's special abilities, i.e learning the powers etc. Great idea! Creating a mechanic that limits use of magic items for the sake of balance.....I don't think so Tim. Options=great gaming. Limitations=another DnD board game.
Posted By: Ashby_Albion (5/12/2014 9:59:25 AM)


Overall I like it. I wonder if there will be random tables to inspire the attunement stories--I could easily see a d100 chart for all items.
I really hope curses ignore the identify spell like attunement properties do.
Posted By: Osgood (5/12/2014 8:33:22 AM)


By the way, if you meet the Queen's distant ancestor, she's presumably undead. I think you might mean descendant.
Posted By: Bluenose (5/12/2014 7:42:50 AM)


Pfft, typical bigoted breather response.

The sentient undead are a very chill and mellow posse who just want to be heard, man. Said ancestor would be happy to reveal all the gruesome details of that wand and why you shouldn't use it, but first you have to get some bandage wrappings, a robe with a hood, some perfume, and some gloves. There's no booze in the afterlife, and he/she is ACHING to get her/his drink on down at the tavern.

Also, the Queen turns out to be the villain. !!SPOILERS!!
Posted By: FatherWendigo (5/13/2014 3:20:23 AM)


I just figured he meant a really old dragon.
Posted By: RadperT (5/26/2014 8:15:42 PM)


Sounds more like the way " Weapons of Legacy" was in 3.5. nice!!
Posted By: archion (5/12/2014 7:38:00 AM)


Well, there's plenty on the drawbacks of attunement. What about the benefits, other than having a tool for your job? Have you considered modifying the SWSE faction affiliation rules, so that as a character does more things that are in accord with the items purpose, the benefits you gain from using it increase? At the moment I see absolutely no reason I'd want to attune most items since they're going to be inconvenient to the player at times dictated by the GM (or it's going to never happen, and hence all benefit without drawbacks, hardly a good thing).
Posted By: Bluenose (5/12/2014 6:01:51 AM)


How about a Dagger that when used uncreases your chance to critically hit to 16-20, but when you score a natural twenty or kill a creature with a critical hit it transforms the wielder into a demonic killing machine that attacks the nearest creature until a save is made using the lowest mental attribute at the end of each of it's turns.
Posted By: Nub-Shiggurath (5/12/2014 5:45:50 AM)


I'm liking this very much as it's practically identical to how I've houseruled identification recently.
Posted By: Twooshort (5/12/2014 5:38:39 AM)


It might be interesting to have different attunement conditions for each named item- the Shield of Stars shines only after it's wielder takes it to the ice peaks of the northern pole to reflect the Moon Wind, the Amulet of Ashes functions only for those trained in iron smithing, the Clouded Lamp releases it's imprisoned Djinn if it's rubbed until it shines.

Sometimes, research and sage council are required to reveal the conditions for attuning to the item.
Posted By: Ashtoret (5/12/2014 5:37:37 AM)


Excellent as always, DnDNext crew! Thank you!
Posted By: sjap (5/12/2014 4:33:34 AM)


I do not like the idea that a magic item is automatically identified as being magical simply by being wielded. To me, giving away the fact that an item is magical automatically, takes away from the mystery of discovery. I will probably have to house rule it in, but in my game when you find a magic item, you will not automatically know it is magical. Certain items might be identified easily, but I will reserve the right to grant that information automatically.

I think that attunement is good for moderating the excess use of magic items in a campaign and I like that it can lend to a story telling element. I am not certain I will force every item to be attuned though. I want to wait an see how these mechanics work first. I am worried that it may create too much of a limitation for my game, but we will see. :)
Posted By: Sands666 (5/12/2014 4:03:51 AM)


There's a difference between "attunement drawback" and "curse"

My understanding is that identify will tell you about the attunement properties, which were decided upon when the item was created. Now, some might consider "the wearer of this armor will not hurt his fellow duergar" a curse, but that isn't needed. Attunement can have just benefits, or drawbacks that might not even come into play. Also, Identify couldn't work on Artifact-level items in 3.5; I expect that this should be similiar.

Also, if the item is to be truly "cursed" as in "they never know until the curse hits them", it'd be easy for the item to just say "this property isn't revealed by Identify spell, unless cast by caster of level X." or something.
Posted By: CorrinAvatan (5/12/2014 8:52:54 AM)


I like the identification change. It was lame that every group of PCs needed access to this one specific spell, and that the adventure could screech to a halt if they didn't (I have a similar problem with read magic as it was presented in the public playtest).

The only criticism I have with this solution is that there seem to be no negative consequences. Like if you put on a suit of armor and learn that it's cursed. Like if you learn the wand of fireballs' command word when it's pointing in the wrong direction. (How do you even learn the command word without activating the item, anyway?)
Posted By: G_X (5/12/2014 3:40:03 AM)


I don't like the idea of a simple spell allowing you to know all there is about an item. For a low level spell it gives far too much. There is no point in making cursed items if a 1st level wizard can cast a spell and know he shouldn't put it on.
I also don't like rules limiting what magic items a character can have. This should be down to the DM. Magic items shouldn't be available off-the-shelf and they should all be found, be granted as rewards or located via some plot reason. It is then up to the DM to dish out as many or as little magic items as he or she sees fit.
I do like the idea of attuning magic items, just not having that limited by rules, or have a 1st level spell tell you the benefits and drawbacks of it. A level 7-9 identify spell would be a different matter.
Posted By: Rartemass (5/12/2014 2:36:51 AM)


Hmm. At this point, it seems like 5e will be presenting a LOT of core rules that I have no interest in using. Not a great sign.
Posted By: DrewMelbourne (5/12/2014 2:03:38 AM)


Although I'm behind most of the ideas that have come out for Next, attunement doesn't sound like something that would make it into my games unchanged. I've always preferred to have players learn about new magic items in a more organic way. For example, in order to figure out the bonus from a magic weapon, I'd have players use the weapon in a fight. I give clues to more obscure powers and have players figure out how it works for themselves. Magical means of identification are harder to pull off, but are available as a backup.

Also, having a set number of "attunement slots" just seems unnecessary. Why use them to limit powerful magic items when as a DM you can limit powerful magic items themselves?
Posted By: BadMike (5/12/2014 1:26:21 AM)


I'd like a module that makes it harder to identify items. I agree that just casting the identify spell gets repetitive and annoying. But this seems too easy. I like the idea that you simply won't know the benefits and drawbacks of an item until you attune to it. Period. Perhaps you can get hints and rumors from research and legends, and perhaps a high-level spell can tell you. But low and mid level characters should just be taking a risk.

With items that don't require attunement, I don't know how I'd want it handled. Sipping potions works, but when it comes to permanent items, "free identify with short rest!" seems too much to me.
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (5/12/2014 1:21:44 AM)


I hope this is going to be presented as one of a few options for magic items. Some people want magic items to be common, 'labeled', and for sale in their campaign worlds. Others might want magic items to be exceedingly rare, or even non-existent.

Also, I don't see how a sip of a potion can identify it, yet an item like a flame tongue sword requires 'attunement'.

I personally like magic items being more complicated than "it's a +1 longsword", but sometimes you want a simple magic item, or something that just represents noticeably superior technology or something that mechanically IS just a +1 longsword.

PS: Glad to see a spell like 'Identify' or 'Detect Magic' isn't going to be written in the rulebooks as required. That reminds me of video games (Diablo 2, Torchlight, etc.) Where you cannot equip an item until you use an identify scroll on it first.
Posted By: seti (5/12/2014 12:35:53 AM)


Taste/Smell? Magic in the potion that fills the mind with the sipper of what it does? You are right, it does seem that identifying a potion (outside of healing potions) should be in the rules somewhere.

From the attunement, I got the idea that stuff gets "better" when you attune, rather than being "useless unless attuned". For example a Magic Capet still works, but if you attune to it you can command it mentally, instead of needing to speak, or Frost Brand would still be a +3 greatsword when you're not attuned, but the protection from fire you get from it, and the ability to dispel magic, isn't available unless you are attuned.
Posted By: CorrinAvatan (5/12/2014 9:02:26 AM)


This is one step in the right direction for ideas and usable gameplay mechanics. I would go even further as I have in my homegame. I allow magic items to advance as do I allow normal items to advance using a combination of teir and level based progression. You already implemented a weak mechanics underlay of this soley in your 4th edition run but to a more non versatile approach. I cleaned up and streamlined the core mechanic and then advanced and reworked its now in my mind more versatile formula I created. It provides a character driven power advancement to gear that was soley forgotten. My 40sum varied age players and onlookers love the concept and its play experience.
Posted By: Valkrim (5/12/2014 12:13:59 AM)



Create Comment
Follow Us
Find a place to get together with friends or gear up for adventure at a store near you
Please enter a city or zip code