lame tongue, frost brand, mace of disruption—these are just a few of the classic D&D items that return to the game in Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium. A mix of the old and the new, the book features magic items, mundane items, cursed items, artifacts, buildings, and a large variety of other things for adventurers to acquire during a campaign. Our goals for the book included presenting a wide array of item options and featuring the item rarity system, which was introduced in the Dungeon Master's Kit and the Rules Compendium. On top of that, we wanted each item to have one or more story hooks, ways for players and DMs to weave an item into their campaign settings. Basically, we wanted this book to be the most diverse and the most story-rich of the 4th Edition item books. With several goals to meet and so many options for what to include in the book, how did we choose what ended up in print?
My fellow developer, Stephen Schubert, and I initially received far more material from the designers than we could fit into the book. Something had to be cut. Any magic item was safe if it was memorable in an earlier edition of the game and didn't have a 4th Edition version (the broom of flying, for instance). Also safe was any new item that presented an appealing story mixed with fun game effects (the helm of seven deaths, for instance). With the safe items in the development and playtesting queue, we worked our way through the rest of the items, some of which were reprints of magic items from older sources such as Adventurer's Vault.
From the start, we expected the Emporium to have a number of reprints, since we wanted the book to function as a survey of different types of items in a typical D&D world, and we wanted to integrate older items into the relatively new rarity system. To prevent the reprints from making up more than a quarter of the book's mechanical content, we cut any reprint that didn't feature rules updates; that wasn't common or rare; or that didn't contain a version of the item at a new level. The cuts brought us within our page count, so we were on our way to having a book. But the bulk of our work was before us: refining and balancing the many remaining items and fleshing out the book's numerous stories.
We were aided in our game-balance work by our tireless playtesters, whose invaluable feedback pointed out potentially busted interactions between certain items and other elements of the game. Playtester feedback was also helpful as we assigned levels and rarities to the book's magic items. Frankly, our first round of rarity assignments for the book was too stingy; we hadn't provided enough common items or enough rare items that sported noticeably powerful effects. Playtesters noted the shortfalls, and we listened. We retooled many uncommon items so that they could qualify as common items, and we pumped up most of the rare items so that they would stand out. The end result is a spectrum of items that is useful for any group using the rarity system. Moreover, the book is the benchmark for assigning rarities, a task that will be much easier now that the book is in print.
The book is also the source for a revised magic item stat block, which will appear in future products and in the online tools. Inspired by the monster stat block revision that debuted in Monster Manual 3, the new version of the magic item stat block includes an expanded treatment of magic item powers, a treatment that makes the powers easier to read and reference. Editors Kim Mohan, Cal Moore, and Tanis O'Connor meticulously made sure the book's many items were converted into the new format correctly.
Now I encourage you to dive into the book and peruse the many new item options it presents. As a DM, you should find wondrous rewards for your adventurers, and as a player, you're likely to come across treasures that your character will seek to unearth. And keep an eye out for quotations from the titular wizard himself, Mordenkainen. His ruthless wit is probably my favorite item on any of the book's pages.