Making magic items more unique

Calypso

Bunny With a Glock
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I'm not going to argue on swords of sharpness or vorpal swords specifically. Especially as someone not very familiar with pre-3e D&D.

But I don't think something like Need, Anduril, Gram, Excalibur, Durandal, or the sword of Gryffindor make their wielders less special, even though those swords all get a certain amount of attention. They can all do mighty deeds with or without their mighty swords, and their stories still tell of how awesome they are when they're wielding such swords.
If anyone would exemplify this "overshadowing", it wouid be Bilbo and The Ring. But even then, the ring became an inextricable part of his character, and you'd be hard pressed to convince it detracted from him as a character.
 

Uqbarian

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I think people were mentioning ghost-touch Anduril. Is that a movie thing? Because I don't think Anduril in the book clearly has any special properties other than "mine!"
Yeah, that's a movie thing. I think it did shine with its own light, though.

E.g. Fellowship, Book II, chapter 3: "Very bright was that sword when it was made whole again; the light of the sun shone redly in it, and the light of the moon shone cold, and its edge was hard and keen."

And in chapter 5: "Andúril came down upon his helm. There was a flash like flame and the helm burst asunder. The orc fell with cloven head."

It's also worth noting that Narsil was forged by Telchar, who also forged Angrist ("iron it would cleave as if it were green wood").
 

Geoff Watson

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In 1st edition, the main difference, mechanically, between two fighters (or two thieves) was what magic items they had.

The casters got to pick different spells, but the non-casters had very little differentiation.
 

Elfwine

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If anyone would exemplify this "overshadowing", it wouid be Bilbo and The Ring. But even then, the ring became an inextricable part of his character, and you'd be hard pressed to convince it detracted from him as a character.
Yeah. I think most of the time, those characters have their screen time changed in the sense that "this is Lion-O using the Sword of Omens" instead of "this is Lion-O and - well, his sword actually doesn't have a name", but if "the hero and his cool thing" isn't "A cool person and his cool thing!" we're into the DM not wanting to/failing to present Lion-O as cool rather than the DM wanting to present the Sword of Omens as cool too.
 
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Dagor

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If anyone would exemplify this "overshadowing", it wouid be Bilbo and The Ring. But even then, the ring became an inextricable part of his character, and you'd be hard pressed to convince it detracted from him as a character.
I think that's part of it, yes -- we think of the One Ring as primarily "Bilbo's ring", not "Sauron's ring that passed through the hands of some hobbits before being destroyed", and this notably besides the fact that Sauron actually created it and was the only one ever able to access its full power. Yet D&D, out of the box, doesn't really support iconic part-of-the-character items, and a number of the suggestions made in this thread (like the various "make the item feel special and unique with its backstory" ones) seem to be aimed more in the "Sauron's ring, you're just the one carrying it right now" direction anyway...

...with the last bit being perhaps especially ironic since I can't off the top of my head think of any D&D players I've met (myself probably included) who ever actually cared one whit about who their magical loot might have belonged to before it fell into their hands, let alone the idea of juuust perhaps tracking down the original owner or their heir(s) and returning their rightful property to them. Nah, whenever they find treasure, no matter by what means fair or foul it ended up where they find it, it's all "mine, mine, MINE!!!". :p
 

Ultimatecalibur

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If anyone would exemplify this "overshadowing", it wouid be Bilbo and The Ring. But even then, the ring became an inextricable part of his character, and you'd be hard pressed to convince it detracted from him as a character.
In the Hobbit, all three of Bilbo's magic items augment what he can do rather supersede what he could do. Sting doesn't make him an effective killer, it just gives him a nasty sting, The Ring lets him be sneakier by turning him invisible, and his mithril shirt allows him to survive better.

A better example of a magic item overshadowing its user would be The Stiehl in Heritage of Shannara.
 

Calypso

Bunny With a Glock
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In the Hobbit, all three of Bilbo's magic items augment what he can do rather supersede what he could do. Sting doesn't make him an effective killer, it just gives him a nasty sting, The Ring lets him be sneakier by turning him invisible, and his mithril shirt allows him to survive better.
I disagree. Before he left his comfortable hobbit hole, he had never done anything exciting. And in the book (which I happen to be rereading now), they even talk about how finding the ring is the major turning point in his "career" as a burglar. Yes, he was clever and obviously Gandalf saw *something* in him, but it wasn't really realized until he had the ring.

To me, it's no different than with superheroes. Some superheroes are inherently badass (Superman, Wonder Woman). Others are "only" as badass as their gear (Batman). But I wouldn't argue that Batman is overshadowed by his gear. He is partly *defined* by it, but even that is okay.
 

Ultimatecalibur

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I disagree. Before he left his comfortable hobbit hole, he had never done anything exciting. And in the book (which I happen to be rereading now), they even talk about how finding the ring is the major turning point in his "career" as a burglar. Yes, he was clever and obviously Gandalf saw *something* in him, but it wasn't really realized until he had the ring.
At the same time, the Ring's invisibility didn't prevent Smaug from noticing him and it was mostly Bilbo's own wits that let him escape.

Bilbo as a character isn't defined by the Ring. It is just one of the very nice trinkets that he picks up during his adventure. It is only when the Ring is upgraded to the Macguffin in the Lord of the Rings that characters start being defined by the Ring with Frodo becoming the Ring-bearer.

To me, it's no different than with superheroes. Some superheroes are inherently badass (Superman, Wonder Woman). Others are "only" as badass as their gear (Batman). But I wouldn't argue that Batman is overshadowed by his gear. He is partly *defined* by it, but even that is okay.
Batman is "badass" for a lot of different reasons, foremost being a skilled detective and master martial artist. His wealth and gear augments his badassness but doesn't inherently overshadow it (unless you have a writer who is more focused on Bruce Wayne's wealth and gadgets than his training and intelligence).

The Green Lanterns are a better example of characters defined by their gear. All 7 have roughly the same basic ring and capabilities and which ones gets included in a piece of media is usually determined by other factors.
 

Calypso

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Batman is "badass" for a lot of different reasons, foremost being a skilled detective and master martial artist. His wealth and gear augments his badassness but doesn't inherently overshadow it (unless you have a writer who is more focused on Bruce Wayne's wealth and gadgets than his training and intelligence).

The Green Lanterns are a better example of characters defined by their gear. All 7 have roughly the same basic ring and capabilities and which ones gets included in a piece of media is usually determined by other factors.
A fair point on Batman, I knew someone was going to bring up his martial artiness. So Green Lantern probably is a better example. Of course, the more I think about it, the more I think that comparing superheroes and typical D&D characters is probably a trap. A Green Lantern Ring would probably be an artifact in D&D parlance, and likely *would* change the narrative surrounding the character that finds and uses it.
 

mindstalk

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Hobbits are sneaky but being invisible is a major upgrade. Just being a hobbit wouldn't have gotten him past Gollum, the goblins, the spiders, the elves...
 
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