Common Magical Items Appearing in D&D's 'Xanathar's Guide: To Everything'
Todd Kenreck: Xanthar's Guide to Everything, really is about everything. I talk to Chris Perkins about his edition of Common Magical Items.
Chris Perkins: There wasn't originally, a magic items section, going to be in the book. It was born out of a very casual conversation that Jeremy Crawford and I had over a cube wall, where we were talking about the fact that the core game didn't have very many common magic items at all. Jeremy was just beginning the process of building what would be the extensive magic item tables in Xanathar's Guide to Everything.
The dearth of common items, we decided, was something that we could actually address in this book. I volunteered to go off and generate a bunch of them with the instruction from Jeremy Crawford that, the items basically had to be power neutral. That is to say that these items do not really give your character any tangible mechanical boost.
Over a weekend, I wrote up, I don't know, 50 items or there abouts. Most of that writing, or a generous part of that writing, was actually done during Jeremy's game because Jeremy runs a D&D campaign for a group of us, on weekends. I was sitting at the table with my laptop open, playing my character while also typing these things up because we had decided this on very short notice so these things had to be turned over very, very quickly.
Only because I was working for him, did Jeremy allow me to work at the game table. Normally that's a no no but, he knew what I was doing and he knew the schedule I was on. I cranked them out over a total of about four days, then kicked over a first draft, to him and then he sat on it because it was fairly low priority compared to some of his others. Xanathar's Guide responsibilities, for a while. He said he was going to make some adjustments, cut some stuff, and the rest would go in and he was quite happy with the material.
My goal with a lot of them was to make players want the item even though it offered them no tangible benefit just because there was something cool about it or quirky or fun or whimsical. I think whimsy guided a lot of the item design actually. There is a cloak that does nothing except billow on command. If you want to make a dramatic entrance, try to get your hands on a cloak of billowing. That's all it does.
Todd Kenreck: It's very tempting.
Chris Perkins: Absolutely. Some of the other ... I mean, I don't want to give away the farm here because there's ... I think it's a fun section of the book to read and discover these items for yourselves. There are a couple items that do give minor benefits. Like hey, you're wearing this item, you know a cantrip that you didn't know before, if you're a spell caster who has that cantrip on their list, and things like that. Yeah, there's a little bit of power up-manship but not a ton.
Todd Kenreck: A lot of these items seem like a magic user's first magic item they create.
Chris Perkins: Yes. Right. Yes. Or some sort of hand-me-down.
Todd Kenreck: Right.
Chris Perkins: Their master gives them. The master doesn't trust them to give them like, a wand with a magic missile but they'll give him this wand of scowls instead. At least, one of the items in here was actually designed for Holly Conrad.
Todd Kenreck: Which item is this?
Chris Perkins: That would be the staff of bird calls.
Todd Kenreck: Very Holly Conrad.
Chris Perkins: Yes. Being a bird aficionado, I thought she'd appreciate that. It's a staff that let's you create bird calls and it specifically outlines what ones you can create with the staff, not just any bird call, you have to do one of the ones that's actually noted in the text.
I like the mystery key. It's a key that has a 5% chance of opening any lock but once it actually opens a lock, it disappears. There's a chance it could work but you may actually have it for the entire campaign before it actually opens something, which I kind of like.
I like the clockwork amulet because I like the way it's described. It's this item with gears from Maconiss that you can use to, instead of rolling a 20 sided die, you can just take the average role of 10. It's an amulet that basically manipulates fate toward the law of averages.
If you think you can hit with a 10, use the amulet. It's the clockwork amulet that's right once a day.
Todd Kenreck: Oh, yeah. That's a common magical item. Yeah.
Chris Perkins: There's an item in here too, which, I love it because it's sort of pointless on the one hand but I can see someone actually using it. It's called an Erzonz Eye. All it is, it's a fake eye that has the same powers as a normal eye. If you lose your eye or if you want to gouge out your own eye, you can put this thing in its place and it's just like the eye you lost.
Todd Kenreck: Well, if you're a recovering Vecna Cult member ...
Chris Perkins: Yes. If you're a recovering Vecna Cult member and you're feeling that sense of loss, having lost the eye of Vecna, you can pop this thing in and at least feel like you have something artificial stuck in your skull.
Todd Kenreck: It's so sad.
Chris Perkins: Yes. What I think the power of this item is, is that it leaves it open for players or DM's to customize its appearance so it may not look perfectly natural but it functions like a natural eye. Maybe in one campaign, it looks like a cat's eye. In another one, it might look like some sort of glittering red gem or something.
I love the fact that DM's and players can customize it. A lot of the items, a lot of the common items can be customized or described in a particular way, suiting the player's tastes. I try to infuse at least some shred of story into my design work because that's kind of my job but it just makes them more interesting and fun around the table.
I like playing with some of the mechanics. We know that wands turn to dust and stuff, when you roll a one, when they run out of charges but I love the idea that the wand of scowls turns into a wand of smiles and the wand of smiles turns into a wand of scowls.
Todd Kenreck: Oh, that's charming.
Chris Perkins: Yeah.
Todd Kenreck: You can find those magical items in Xanthar's Guide to Everything. That book is available for purchase on D&D Beyond.com and if you follow the link in this video description, you can earn pre-order bonuses as well. I'm Todd Kenreck. Thank you for watching.
In the transcription, when he talks about the clockwork amulet, he's referring to "Mechanus" as in the outer plane Clockwork Nirvana of Mechanus, not "Maconiss".
I think the idea of returning with lots of magical items, even without mechanical benefits is great, as it adds a lot of flavor to the characters and to the world.
Cloak of Billowing is probably one of the best magical items I have heard of, as who doesn't want a cape billowing behind them at a word? Definitely will want this for all of my dramatic characters.