D&D Series

D&D Series #12: Creating Legendary Objects

First of all, I’d like to start by clarifying what I mean by “legendary objects,” in part because legendary is a label used to classify the rarity of established magical objects in D&D lore. For the purposes of this post, I will not be using legendary in that manner. I will instead be discussing the creation of objects–both magical and mundane–that fit your world, players, and campaign.

Creating legendary objects for your world isn’t necessary, but it’s an excellent way to add some unique flavor to your story. Start small: think of an important figure in the history of your world. They might be a hero, royalty, a revolutionary, or a villain. Determine what impact they had on your world: did they try to take it over? Did they succeed? What is their legacy today? Did they save someone important? Once you’ve got an idea of a person and event(s) that are important in the history of the world, you can add in the details of what was around them. Signature weapons, magical items they utilized, personal jewelry, and other items are all likely to be involved in events of such magnitude.

Let’s pick a running example to return to: A sorceress at one point overthrew an unjust monarchy and built a new free country. Unfortunately she in turn was overthrown, and the remnants of her reign have been scattered across history. She used a necklace with a gem as her arcane focus, and if the party can obtain that necklace they may be able to free their countrymen from an unjust ruler.

Next, decide where it is you want the magical object hidden. For our example, the sorceress hid her arcane focus under the roots of a tree where she had buried a dear friend who fell in battle. Now that you have a hiding place, come up with something that guards it. The necklace is guarded by a spirit who is fiercely loyal to its original mistress. A lair of obstacles has been constructed around the tree, and so the characters must get through progressively more difficult challenges to reach the tree.

Perhaps these challenges are achievements, and after each one the players level. This could spin out the challenges into a wide world, perhaps spanning the whole country. After each challenge, the players uncover more information about the sorceress and learn something valuable that will help them during the final challenge. This also motivates them to continue on the quest for the necklace as they get closer and closer to the goal. Putting the challenges into a campaign layout allows the players to get invested in the quest, and gives them an overall goal to work towards that shapes the experiences of the characters.

Now the necklace is no longer just a necklace, but it turns into the sessions’ backstory. It’s possible to make it so the characters each have some kind of connection to the sorceress, or her story. The necklace embodies something for each of them, be it ideals or greed or hero worship. If the characters and players are equally engaged in the quest for the necklace, that makes each session part of a goal and thus more motivating and more interesting for roleplay.

With a legendary object, finding it may be only half the goal. Perhaps it takes the players up to level 10 searching for the necklace and with it and its power they must now overthrow a new corrupt ruler. The necklace will give them powers, or show them things from history, or perhaps conjure an image of its owner to give them guidance on their path. This object is now a useful item, perhaps giving a magic caster the ability to cast certain spells, or giving characters a boost to their stats.

What you have at the end of this combination of planning and execution is an object that was legendary when you explained it to your players, but grew into an object that means something to them. This object may or may not have any tangible qualities for them to utilize, but it does create a sense of mythos and legend for them. It’s mostly for the immersion of the experience. It also helps craft the narrative of the campaign and provides a goal to work towards, which can in turn grant rewards from gaining levels to gaining treasure items in the game.

To conclude, I think it’s far more interesting to incorporate these unique objects rather than simply copy out lore from the original content of Dungeons and Dragons. While some interesting magical items may drawn your players in when they’re familiar with what you’re presenting, creating legendary objects that are suited to your campaign setting exactly and entice players and characters alike with curiosity are far more satisfying. They are also a great way to get excited about the game as a DM, developing something you can spin out in whatever way is best over time.

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By Catherine

I'm a lover of books, coffee, wine, and bees. Happy to join the ranks of book bloggers everywhere!

One reply on “D&D Series #12: Creating Legendary Objects”

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