I’ve been gaming for a long time and I suppose I consider myself an old school gamer. All the recent talk about old school stuff has gotten me to look at what old school things do I still use in my games. The top of the list had to be Non-violent Magic Items.
Back in 1983, Lewis Pulsipher and Roland Gettiliffe wrote a Dragon Magazine article about Non-violent Magic Items. In the article, they claimed that almost all the magic items were directly related to combat or domination. Looking through the 3.5 SRD list of magic items, I have to say this is still true. They also state that in an non-technological society that some magical items would be constructed for the rich and powerful for either practical or luxury value. I tend to agree. Why would the most powerful wizard in all the land able to make the most terrible of weapons settle to have his tea always cold? Couldn’t he just make tea cup that always keeps his tea warm? I think it is more than likely.
Let’s take a better look at why non-violent magic items are likely. First, most games are run in a magic rich environment. In 3.5 it even seems this is truer as commented on in a recent blog entry I've read.(I can't seem to find the blog, you know of one, please let me know, I want to cite them) There never seems to be a shortage of magic item. Second, in many ways magic items are the technology. It may be why some technologies such as gunpowder never really catch on or not developed in the first place. And lastly, why should people create items that are only related to war? I can’t think of a reason. People will usually pay good money for something help even a minor burden.
So what should these items be like? I’ll give you a few of my favorites from the original article
A 9-inch round iron pan with the runic S embossed on the handle. Any food fried in this pan is magically spiced to the cook’s taste
A one-inch obsidian cube and a metal tuning fork four inches long. When the fork is struck, the sound is reproduced from the cube as well as from the fork, provided the cube is no more than three miles away.
A glass ball (several colors possible) about two inches in diameter. When someone breaks the ball, places is or her face and upper body in the resulting colored smoke, and thinks about the kind of cosmetic treatment he or she desires, it will. be instantly accomplished. One person per ball, cosmetic effect only.
If a player wanted to actually produce one of these items, I’m not sure what the cost would be, but if they are able to craft wondrous item, then I think they should be able to try.
Personally, I’ve found the inclusion of these items to be fun for the party. It always interesting what they try to use them for. Sometimes they are just fun to give characters a bit more flair.
All magic item are from the following source
Pulsipher, Lewis and Gettiliffe , Roland. “Non-violent Magic Items: One hundred ways to keep players guessing“ Dragon Magazine #73 May 1983: 36-40