Want to drop a few minor magic items which the players will really want to use, but which won’t screw up your short-term balance or wreck low-level fun?
- Wand of Impact. Sends a burst of force in a straight line which expends its energy on a single target within 30′, beyond which it merely ruffles hair and blows about papers. A creature hit by this force must save or be knocked prone and dealt d6 subdual damage; critical failure means they’re KOed on the spot. Conversely, use attack rolls to resolve whether an enemy is hit and consider them knocked prone automatically on a success; a critical will put them out for the fight. In the case of a missed attack, roll to see what the force hits. At your discretion, impact wands can be used to blow open doors or to provide thrust for movement in null-G conditions.
- Bag of Stoning. A grenade-like thrown weapon which turns its target to stone – but only for five minutes. Feel free to apply a save penalty considering the short duration. Definitely roll to see where missed attacks land. It’s a fair bet that monsters coming out of their petrified state will be pretty peeved about it.
- Grapnel Gauntlets. Fires a small grapnel which will automatically secure itself to anything other than a sheer surface. The grapnel and gauntlet are connected by a thin cable – perhaps giant spider silk for extra Spider-Man cred. Creative players will be sure to find ways to abuse this in combat. Also, if you’re using spider silk as the cable, make it a limited resource – players must reload the gauntlets periodically with an intact giant spider silk gland.
- Location Inverters. These are small tags which work in pairs. When one is double-tapped and the command word spoken, the tags switch places, taking whatever they’re attached to with them. Slap one on the BBEG and another on a rock; hold the rock over a pit, make the switch, and let go. Presto! The tags are sticky or burred, or perhaps they act like small beetles which can be assigned a target to seek within line of sight. Good for a single use per pair; found in lots of 1d4 pairs.
- Magic Marbles. Spill these out on the ground and watch the hijinks ensue. Trying to remain standing in an area covered with these marbles requires a save at -4; the marbles actively scoot underfoot (and perhaps emit high-pitched cackles when lumbering ogres take a pratfall). Higher-powered versions might have an entangling effect. Maybe it’s based on color: blue marbles crush and turn into an explosion of ice which freezes the creature’s feet to the ground or green marbles turn into vines. Or they could have other effects – maybe they cast faerie fire on the target (useful to spread in an area where there might be invisible creatures), or create a dazzling spark shower which stuns for a round.
- Whispering Shells. These seashells, worn over the ear, can be used to communicate with any similar shells within a quarter mile. When one is touched by the wearer, the other shell(s) can hear what she hears. This is most useful for hushed communication between people who are not within line of sight. No more will the party wonder why the scouting rogue never returned – they’ll be able to hear his grisly demise by gelatinous cube firsthand. The shells have limited uses, perhaps one turn’s worth of audio transmission (it’s up to the GM whether receiving audio counts against a shell’s total uses left). They might be the shell of a rare sea creature, or perhaps they’re ordinary bivalve shells enchanted by a touch and a whisper from a nereid.
- Charismatic Corsage. While this flower is worn at the lapel or neckline (i.e. you have to have a lapel or neckline to wear it; sorry, armored folk), any attempts at persuasion, diplomacy, or romance have the effect of a suggestion. The flower wilts at a normal rate, so you’d better make that move fast, Romeo. Maybe they come from the high-walled garden of an eccentric enchantress who’ll give them freely for a teensy little favor. Maybe she has terrible things planned for those who would try to steal her flowers, even if they’re only stealing them for an NPC friend who really needs one for the ball or meeting with the duke.
- Two-Second Charm. This charm occasionally grants a character a vision of two seconds into the future. Each charm has 1d4 uses on discovery. This can be adjudicated in many ways, but here’s one example: when an enemy makes a successful attack roll against a charmed character, the character can blow a use of the charm to “steal” the attack roll for herself, using the result of the die as a preemptive strike; regardless if the roll is high enough to hit the enemy, the enemy loses its action. This counts as the character’s next available action, so if she’s already acted this round, she loses her action for next round (but still gets her move).
- Camera Gem. This is a translucent gem large enough to hold before the eye. When the command word (“click”, of course) is uttered, the gem records an image of what the user can see through it. Some gems have a second mode with its own command word (“roll”) which records over time, creating a “motion picture”. The images and movies can be projected above the gem when it is laid on a surface and “display” is uttered. If more than one image or movie exist within a gem, the user can either mentally select which to display or simply say “display first image” (and so on). One enterprising orcish warlord has combined her movie gem with an amulet which creates illusions; along with a shaman using pyrotechnics, she’s created a pretty intimidating Jumbotron entrance.
- Map Enhancement. This is a rolled sheet of paper / linen / woven grass which, when unrolled over a map, will extrude and extract itself into a topographical rendering of the actual landscape which the map represents, right down to the smallest detail. If the map is horribly wrong or out of scale, however, the enhancement won’t work.
- Burro Booster. This is a saddle blanket or yoke cushion which will allow a horse, donkey, ox, or whatnot to operate without rest or sustenance for 3d12 hours. It’s up to the GM how to let the party know that time is almost up. Maybe the animal just stops where he stands, or perhaps he’s hit by the vapors something fierce.
- Compass of Origin. This compass appears to have no needle, but its face is ringed by a rotating band with an arrow pointing away from the center. By adjusting the arrow to point at a target and uttering the command word, the needle of the compass is conjured forth. It points in the direction of the target’s place of birth or origin, and its length / color determines how far the target is from its home. They’re coveted by powerful people for ferreting out spies, but such compasses are also useful for narrowing down the possibilities during magical item identification. Surely your cunning players will discover still more interesting uses.