Magic Items and Dungeon World

It’s time for another edition of Tabletop Tuesday! Except, you know, it’s Sunday evening. It’s been a long day and I’ve still got an Inktober to get done (and apparently it literally has to be in ink), so I figured I’d keep today’s post short and sweet.

No RPG is complete without some cool, magical stuff to get your hands on. After a long dungeon delve, you want to have something unique and awesome to show for it.  In Dungeon World, magic items work in a pretty fun and unique way. They don’t necessarily have strictly mechanical effects. If you’re used to Dungeons and Dragons, it’s not uncommon to have a magic item such as “Longsword +3,” which is a sword with +3 to accuracy and damage. In Dungeon World, things don’t work that way. Weapons that give a flat plus aren’t magical in some way – they’re just well-crafted.

Instead, the Dungeon World book gives some examples of magic items that have interesting fictional effects not limited to mechanical rules. One example is Ned’s Head, which can answer the question “Who has it in for me?” once per night. Or there’s the Sword of Argo-Thaan, which in the hands of a Good paladin will increase their damage by one size and unlock every paladin move. These items have unique effects that aren’t limited by the “rules” of Dungeon World.

I really like this system of making magic items, and it’s fun to design them for my own games. So I figured it might be fun to share some of my own magic items with you, adventurers. Let’s get started!

Inverse Candle
This is one of the first magic items I ever made, and it’s a simple one that’s really easy to incorporate into your game. It works like this:
“A magical candle accidentally invented by a bumbling wizard. It has an unusual spell placed upon it where, when lit, it blackens the room with magical darkness that cannot be pierced by any natural light. While this can be quite frustrating when one assumes it is a normal candle, it can have some advantages when used in full knowledge of its power. The wax melts like any ordinary candle, and so the candle has a limited lifespan. Once used up, it’s gone for good.”
There are lots of fun ways for players to learn how the candle works. Perhaps they light it thinking it’s a normal candle only to find themselves standing in a dark room. Maybe a villain will light the candle and use it to escape. Maybe a room is already affected by the candle and the players will stumble around awkwardly trying to find the source of the darkness while enemies move in on them. No matter what, once the players know how the candle works they can absolutely use it to their advantage.

Algernon’s Powder
I originally called this item “Tongue Powder” but I decided it needed a much better name and went with this instead. The effects are inspired by the phrase “on the tip of my tongue,” and it works like this:
“A small jar of blueish powder with a sour taste. A conveniently-placed label instructs you exactly when to use the powder. It reads as follows: “when knowledge lies just out of reach, dip your finger into the powder and place it upon the tip of your tongue.” When you Spout Lore and you use Algernon’s Powder, mark off one use and succeed as if you rolled a 10+. Your tongue will stay blue for a day or so after each use.”
This is a fun item that nevertheless has a very useful benefit. Spout Lore is a useful move with particular helpful effects on a 10+, and Algernon’s Powder allows you to tap into that instantly.

Shrieking Arrow
This magical arrow is one I invented based on a legitimate thought I had in my real life one day: “it’s too bad my stuff doesn’t all have some kind of alarm so I can find it when it’s missing.” That idea led to this idea:
“1 ammo, 0 weight
You ever lose something and wish it could make noise until you found it? That’s the principle behind the Shrieking Arrow. The arrow can never break, and as long as it is free from a quiver, it emits a high-pitched shriek that’s also painfully loud. This makes the arrow quite easy to find and reclaim, and the shrieking can even frighten enemies. Of course, until the arrow is reclaimed and sheathed, the sound can be pretty obnoxious. And forget about making a stealthy shot…”
I love this item because it’s goofy but does have some practical purposes. Looting it could be a really interesting experience, or consider giving it to a villainous archer for a particularly annoying opponent.

I hope you enjoyed this quick look into some of the magical items I have created. As I post some of the custom classes I’m creating over the course of the month, I plan to include a few more magical items as well. So that’s something to look forward to in the coming weeks!

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