The recent editions of Dungeons & Dragons have downplayed the importance of magic items. The reason for this is in order to give the player characters more abilities in combat, rather than forcing them to rely on items that are doled out by the dungeon master. This was due to the fact that some classes had few options during the early levels of play (most notably spellcasters) and often became spectators in battle.
The shift away from magic items has been an unpopular move with the fans, as slaying enemies and taking their stuff is one the most popular motivations for the average adventuring party.
The best magic items in Dungeons & Dragons are either the most well-hidden or kept in the possession of monsters and NPCs that you don’t want to mess with. This is due to game balance reasons, as a first level party is going to annihilate everything in their path if they stumble across any +5 weapons during their first adventure.
We are here today to pinpoint the locations of the most powerful magical items that are hidden across the Dungeons & Dragons multiverse – from the deck of cards that can destroy a campaign with a single draw to the blade that was once responsible for maiming a god.
Spoiler warning: for those of you who are playing (or planning to play) in games based on published adventures: we will be revealing secrets about certain campaigns. The adventures in questions are Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, Night Below, Tomb of Horrors, Axe of the Dwarvish Lords, Vecna Lives, Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, Talons of Night, Bastion of Broken Souls, Expedition to the Demonweb Pits, Feast of Goblyns, Egg of the Phoenix, The Gauntlet, Hall of the Fire Giant King, Return to White Plume Mountain, The Temple of Elemental Evil, and Vortex of Madness.
With that said, here are the 20 Powerful Items In Dungeons & Dragons That Are Impossible To Find (And Where To Find Them)
20 The Deck Of Many Things
Only the bravest or most foolish dungeon masters would add a Deck of Many Things to one of their adventures. This deck of cards has the potential to give the players godlike powers or wipe them out of existence, all with a few draws of the deck.
The ability of the Deck of Many Things to derail a campaign means that they rarely show up in homebrew adventures and almost never show up in published adventures.
One of the few adventures that contain a Deck of Many Things is Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil. You can find one in the hands of a skeleton in the Black Spike, which is a tower filled with powerful worshipers of Tharizdun. The skeleton deals the cards to the players, as a representation of the chaotic aspect of Tharizun. The cult of Tharizdun created a new temple in Mount Stalagos and used the mines that surrounded it as a testing ground for new recruits, which is where the Black Spike can be found.
19 The Sphere Of Annihilation
The Sphere of Annihilation is essentially a ball made up of the void. If you touch the Sphere of Annihilation, then your character will be wiped from existence. It’s possible for those with a powerful will to control the Sphere of Annihilation, but failure means that it will start moving towards you…
Those adventurers who are brave enough to challenge the Tomb of Horrors adventure will likely become acquainted with the Sphere of Annihilation, as there is the mouth of a wall fixture that possesses a black void that acts as a Sphere of Annihilation. It’s possible to encounter a custom Sphere of Annihilation in Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, as an item known as the Black Sun can be found in Mount Stalagos that has the same properties as the infamous sphere.
18 Axe Of The Dwarvish Lords
The Axe of the Dwarvish Lords is one of the most fearsome weapons in Dungeons & Dragons. It acts like a Sword of Sharpness, which means that it has a chance of automatically severing an opponents appendage with each roll, potentially removing their head from their neck in a single swing. The Axe of the Dwarvish Lords also allows its user to conjure an Earth Elemental and cast earthquake, passwall, and stone to flesh each day.
One of the side effects of using the Axe of the Dwarvish Lords is that it will turn all non-dwarven wielders into dwarves over time. This was the fate of a goblin maiden named Qamhuul, who was given the axe by her human lover, a wizard named Tairo, who was unaware that the axe would transform Qamhuul into a dwarven woman. Qamhuul and the Axe of the Dwarvish Lords can be found in the abandoned dwarven stronghold of Radruundar, which can be found in the Spine of the World mountains (in Faerun) or in the Yatil mountains (in Oerth.)
17 Futuristic Weapons (Blasters, Lasers, And Powered Armor)
All of the magic swords in the realm would go out of the window as soon as someone in the Dungeons & Dragons world learns how to make gunpowder. All of the attacks-per-round with a spear in the world won’t mean much as soon as regular soldiers can be given pistols and rifles.
Expedition to the Barrier Peaks takes the idea of the players acquiring modern weapons and takes it even further, by allowing them to find a crashed spaceship. The spaceship is found in the mountains near the Grand Duchy of Geoff in Oerth. Those who can find the hidden ship will have access to blaster pistols, blaster rifles, powered armor, laser pistols, and laser rifles. All you need to do to acquire these items is to defeat the robots guarding them.
16 The Black Hammer
There are very few weapons in Dungeons & Dungeons that have a modifier above +5. The greatest weapons in the multiverse (like a Holy Avenger) will still max out at +5, though they will often possess other powers that they will grant to their wielder.
One of the few +6 weapons in the Dungeons & Dragons multiverse is the Black Hammer, which is a +6 war hammer that feeds upon the life force of those around it.
The Black Hammer was taken by a cult in the city of Raven’s Bluff, many of whom sacrificed their lives in order to transport the weapon to a secret and secure location. Those who can track down the cult may be able to find the resting place of the Black Hammer.
15 The Periapt Of Pax
In the older editions of Dungeons & Dragons, clerics were pretty much forced to use maces in battle. The reason for this was due to a rule that clerics could only use blunt weapons, as edged and piercing weapons would draw blood from the enemy.
In the Talons of Night adventure, the players can find the Periapt of Pax, which not only grants access to lots of free cleric spells but also has a hole where a handle can be inserted, transforming the periapt into a +3 mace. The Periapt of Pax exists in the world of Mystara, where it is kept in the web of the Night Spider. In order to find this web, you need to be able to access the secret plane of the Night Spider and be prepared for a battle against a huge arachnid whose life force is tied to the periapt and who won’t give it up without a fight.
14 Ring Of Fire Elemental Command
The Rings of Elemental Command are four of the most powerful magic items in all of Dungeons & Dragons and are considered to be just below the level of minor artifact. If you possess one of these rings, then you will gain access to a wide range of abilities and spells that are tied to each of the four elements.
It’s possible for high-level characters to forge a Ring of Elemental Command, but there is at least one adventure where you can acquire one for free. In Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, there are three powerful servants of Tharizdun who refer to themselves as the First, Second, and Third. The Second is an aboleth who floats around inside of a water elemental. If you can defeat this powerful priest of Tharizdun, then you can steal the Ring of Fire Elemental Command from his body.
In the very first iteration of Dungeons & Dragons, the game included creatures from The Lord of the Rings. This meant that you could play as a hobbit and fight against the Balrog, the Nazgul and have tea with ents. A lawsuit from the Tolkien estate meant that the Balrog became a balor, which is essentially the same creature with the serial numbers filed off.
There is a half dragon/balor in the Bastion of Unborn Souls that possesses a powerful whip called the Helltongue. This whip has three strands, all of which possess the ability to inflict negative levels on those they hit while transferring hit points to the wielder. The creature who wields Helltongue has a CR of 21, which means that the player will have an epic battle (one which they will likely lose) if they want to steal the mighty whip for themselves.
12 The Book Of Flesh & Mirrors
Spellbooks are the most treasured magical item that can be acquired by wizards, as it broadens the number of spells that they can cast per day. There are a few unique spellbooks that also possess special abilities, such as the Book of Flesh and Mirrors. This tome can teach a character a lot of different spells, as well as giving instructions on how to create a mirror mephit.
The Book of Flesh and Mirrors is also prized due to the fact that it can teach spells to bards and sorcerers, as well as being worth over one-hundred-thousand gold pieces on the open market.
The Book of Flesh and Mirrors is in the possession of a cambion named Rule-of-Three, who will trade it to the player if they agree to work with him. Rule-of-Three can be found in a tavern called the Styx Oarsman in the city of Sigil.
11 The Cauldron Of Doom
If you want to become a necromancer in a Dungeons & Dragons world, then you better be rich. The animate dead spell requires you to use a gem worth twenty-five gold pieces to create even the weakest undead, one which would barely pose a threat to a low-level party of adventurers.
There is a powerful magic item called the Cauldron of Doom which can help a budding necromancer save money, as it can create one zombie per day if you put a corpse inside of it. This would allow you to slowly create an army of undead without needing to use the animate dead spell. The Cauldron of Doom was last seen in the Castle of Skulls in Llyrath Forest on the island of Gwynneth, which is part of the Moonshae Isles in Faerun.
10 The Crown Of Souls
The most famous realm in the Ravenloft campaign setting is Barovia, which is home to the vampire lord Strahd. There are other prominent realms in Ravenloft which are ruled by their own dark masters, one of which is Kartakass, which is ruled by Harkon Lukas. Those who are unlucky enough to find themselves in Kartakass may try and find the Crown of Souls, which is kept on the head of a skeleton in the catacombs beneath the realm.
The Crown of Souls grants its wearer the ability to transform humans they touch into goblyns without any sort of saving throw and will give several significant stat boosts to an evil character. Those who wear the Crown of Souls will find their alignment moving slowly towards evil each day, so they will eventually unlock the full powers of the item, at the cost of their very soul.
9 The Egg Of The Phoenix
The Egg of the Phoenix isn’t an actual phoenix egg, in the sense that the players can’t actually make a nest and ensure that a baby phoenix is born into the world. The Egg of the Phoenix is actually a powerful egg-like item that has the ability to increase the power of spellcasters.
Those who find the Egg of the Phoenix will gain the ability to cast spells as well as gaining magic resistance. The Egg of the Phoenix can also increase the number of targets that you can hit with spells, at the cost of damage that only heals by one point per day, meaning that you cannot rely on its power. As the user learns to control the Egg of the Phoenix, they will be able to cast more spells and gain more magic resistance, at the cost of more damage. The Egg of the Phoenix can be found near Castle Penseroso on the plane of Sepulchre, which is said to contain an endless graveyard.
8 The Gauntlet
The Gauntlet may have the least original name of any magic item in the history of Dungeons & Dragons. The Gauntlet is just above the Spear of Being Pointy in terms of having effort put into its name.
The Gauntlet doesn’t need a flashy name, as it offers some of the best powers in the game.
If you put on The Gauntlet, then you gain several free levels or hit dice, the ability to regenerate five hit points every round, a constant protection from normal missiles spell, the ability to cast grasp as will, your Charisma stat being boosted to 18 when dealing with evil creatures, and immunity to almost every mind-affecting spell in the game. The catch is that those who wear The Gauntlet will become its servant. The Gauntlet is currently on the hand of a giant two-head troll, who is trapped in a magical prison within a book, which is in the Keep of Alderwag in Oerth.
7 A Scroll Of Wish
Wish is the most powerful spell in the Player’s Handbook, as it can grant the most cherished desires of its caster. Wish is a 9th level arcane spell that acts like the wish granted by a genie, which means that it can screw over the caster. A wish spell has just as much potential to screw up a campaign as the Deck of Many Things, which is why players are rarely given access to them.
It seems that wish spells are fairly common among the drow, as you can easily acquire a wish scroll off of one of them in the Hall of the Fire Giant King adventure. Once the adventure reaches its conclusion, the players will find a tube containing a wish scroll that was dropped by a fleeing drow nobleman. It’s never explained why he didn’t just use the scroll to flee, or why he was so careless with a scroll that was so valuable.
White Plume Mountain is home to some of the most famous magic items in the history of Dungeons & Dragons, including Blackrazor, Wave, and Whelm. There is a fourth weapon hidden in White Plume Mountain, called Frostrazor. Those who know how to use any sword will instantly become proficient with Frostrazer when they hold it, which will allow them to use the +3 two-handed sword in battle.
Frostrazor is made of ice and a high attack roll will cause pieces of the weapon to break off inside of the enemy, which adds extra effects to the damage, including draining hit points, Strength points, and even levels. Frostrazor is currently in the hands of a powerful gnome fighter named Saprophis, who can be found in White Plume Mountain.
It’s possible for a player to focus all of their attention on their characters ability to strike an opponent, but it’s never guaranteed that they will hit the enemy, as there is always a chance they will roll a one and automatically miss.
The Temple of Elemental Evil offers a means of automatically hitting your foes in form of a sword called Fragarach, which means “The Answerer.” Fragarach will automatically strike all foes who hit its wielder, with the caveat that all of the attacks take place at the end of the round. These hits will all deal an additional +4 damage or +8 on a critical hit. Fragarach can be found in the hands of Prince Thrommel, who has been captured by agents of Tharizdun (who were later revealed to be in collusion with the Scarlet Brotherhood) and is held in a coffin inside of the Temple of Elemental Evil.
4 The Machine Of Lum The Mad
The vast majority of quests in Dungeons & Dragons are given by members of the local authority in a nearby city, who promise rewards in exchange for the heads of monsters.
It’s rare that a magic item acts as the quest-giver, but this is what happens in the Vortex of Madness adventure.
Those who are unlucky enough to travel to Limbo may come across a Machine of Lum the Mad, which is an incredibly powerful item that comes with numerous buttons and switches that can activate numerous effects. The players will need to work for the Machine of Lum the Mad in Vortex of Madness if they wish to escape from Limbo and find their way back to their home plane.
3 Staff Of The Magi
The Staff of the Magi is one of the most powerful magical staves in the game. The wielder of the Staff of the Magi can cast a wide range of spells and can absorb the spells of enemy mages and use them to charge the staff. Only the most powerful of mages have ever held a Staff of the Magi… as well as a couple of fish.
There is an island off the west coast of Icewind Dale called Gundarlun, which once held a colony called Berranzo. It was during a trip to Berranzo that a ship called the Golden Crown sank during a storm. The Golden Crown was carrying a powerful mage called Hoch-miraz who went down with the ship. Hoch-miraz’s Staff of the Magi was on the ship when it sank and it now resides at the bottom of the Trackless Sea.
2 Crown Of Derro Domination
The Underdark is populated with a race of grey-skinned creatures known as derro. The derro are similar to dwarves in the same way that the drow are similar to surface elves, in that derro have dark skin, a natural affinity for magic, and are all totally insane. It’s possible to turn the derro into your servants with the aid of a certain crown. There is a secret city within the Underdark known as the City of the Glass Pool, which is featured in the Night Below adventure and is populated by all manner of creatures that are native to the region, such as kuo-toa and ixitxachitl.
The City of the Glass Pool has a building that houses several mind flayers. Those who are brave enough (or foolish enough) to take on the mind flayers in their home will find the Crown of Derro Domination. This piece of ornate headwear allows the wearer to cast a more powerful version of the mass domination spell on a group of Derro per day. The number of Derro that you can control is equal to ten times your current hit dice. The wearer of the Crown of Derro Domination could use its power to overthrow the City of the Glass Pool, or just form their own army of enslaved derro warriors.
1 The Sword Of Kas
The reason why Vecna only has a single eye and hand is due to a betrayal by Kas, his former lieutenant. Vecna had forged an incredibly powerful longsword for his servant, called the Sword of Kas, which Kas then turned on his former master. In the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons, the Sword of Kas is a +6 unholy keen vorpal longsword that grants a +10 modifier to the Strength score of its wielder.
The Sword of Kas is hidden in an unlikely place – beneath a gnome village. The gnome village of Osnabrolt was once visited by Kas, who plunged the sword into the ground of one of the chambers beneath the ground. The room where the sword is hidden looks nondescript, yet those who know to dig there will uncover one of the most powerful weapons in the history of Dungeons & Dragons.
Are there any other powerful hidden items in Dungeons & Dragons that you know about? Let us know in the comments!