Revisiting a topic I touched on many moons ago, here's another look at the OD&D Vol 2 Magic Items tables. Discounting the wildly random aspect of magic swords, as addressed in yesterday's post, what are the rarest magic items in OD&D?
The following four categories each have but a 5% chance of being rolled on the Magic Items determination table: Misc. Weapons, Rings, Wands/Staves and Misc. Magic. Keep in mind that 25% of “items” are actually Maps and not Magic, then that 1 in 20, or 5%, is reduced to 3.75% for each of the four categories.
Now, within those four categories I will find the items with but a 1 in 100 chance of appearing, or a .0375% chance to be rolled randomly. There are 15 such items and each has 1 in 2,667 odds to be rolled randomly.
War Hammer +3
Spell Storing Ring
Ring of Many Wishes
Staff of Wizardry
Crystal Ball with ESP
Air Elemental Censor
Earth Elemental Stone
Fire Elemental Brazier
Water Elemental Bowl
Helm of Teleportation
Drums of Panic
Horn of Blasting
Mirror of Life Trapping
I was considering treating these “ultra-rares” as artifacts in some treatment in the near future. Before the players find any of these, I'll make a note as to where each one is located and remember to re-roll the result if by some slim chance one of these items pops up in a random fill. The end result is promoting the 15 items to some special status from which I can possibly create stories, rumors and even determine what protects or makes use of them within the underworld.
Although my intentions seem reasonable, there's simply no doubting the fact that I will continue to create new items; items which will invariably become more powerful than the ultra-rares. I always do and I'd be fooling myself if I decided to make these 15 rares the top of the magic item ladder, so to speak. The important aspect is these particular items are designated as unique in the campaign. This is not a new notion at all. In fact, I've read others mention that perhaps a campaign in which every single non-consumable item was unique would be interesting, a notion that I have shared myself in the past. For my current games, though, I have decided that the only unique items in the campaign, ones which will be re-rolled if they somehow appear in a random determination, are limited to the 15 rarest of the rare. For now I'll simply use the term “unique item” to describe the items elevated to this status.
Any item with historical notes, rumors and a predetermined location is deserving of a name as well. So I need to add that to the to do list for the unique items.
I think this is an exercise of note because I can already envision the numerous rooms, encounters and even sub-levels which will spring forth from such considerations. Being the dungeonista I am, you can be sure all 15 unique items will be in the deeper levels of my current underworld sprawl. Rumors and legends will beckon adventurers to seek them out and this entire process will create reliable underpinnings for both the dungeon and the campaign.
~Sham, Quixotic Referee