Magic Item Origins

A few weeks ago I did a video on Greyhawk’s Lost Golden Age, and it got me thinking about the idea of magic in Oerth slowly declining. The great civilizations of the past were capable of wielding mightier magicks than those of the Flanaess today col dream of. We see this with some of the artifacts and relics that are simply not duplicatable in the “modern” Flanaess.

That being the case, I reason, it might be interesting to come up with an origin for more powerful magical items. It might be okay for a +1 sword o not have a particular history, but something more powerful, which could not easily be created in the “modern day”, it might be beneficial to have an origin. This adds a bit of color, and turns a ho-hum “just another +3 axe” into something with history, personality, and a connection to the setting.

Incidentally, this can also be used to generate easy adventure hooks, or even unique information-based treasure. Wizards could be eager to rediscover the secrets of the Suloise method of creating a staff of the magi, for instance, and might hire a party of PCs to go in search of an ancient scroll rumored to record the secret.

I suggest the following can be used to generate an origin for any magic weapon, armor, or shield with a +3 or greater enchantment, or any other magic item with an x.p. value of 5,000 or higher. DMs are, of course, encouraged to tinker with an appropriate x.p. threshold for their own campaigns, and make exceptions to that rule of thumb as appropriate.

Die RollOrigin
01-14The Mages of Power of the ancient Suloise Imperium, before the Rain of Colorless Fire.
15-28The Baklunish Empire, prior to the Invoked Devastation.
29-33The High Wizard Priests of the Isles of Woe, now lost beneath the Nyr Dyv.
34-40The wizards of the now-shattered Olman Empire.
41-48The Kingdom of Sulm in what is now known as the Bright Desert.
49-53The ur-Flannae city of Fleeth, who were the ancestors of the Flannae people.
54-70The time of the very founding of the Kingdom of Aerdy.
71-73The fabled First Dynasty of the Celestial Imperium.
74The workshops of the Ancient Brethren, who lived before the Gods Themselves.
75-79The empire of the arch-lich Vecna, before his overthrow by his traitor-lieutenant, Kas.
80-83The empire of Baron Lum the Mad.
84-87The realm of Queen Ehlissa herself.
88-89The smithy of the First Dwarven King himself.
90-97The Northern Adepts of Blackmoor.
98-00The lost city of Tostenhca, during the reign of the wizard Keraptis

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.