D&D Third Edition Notes on Magic Items

Limit on Magic Items Worn


Item Bonuses

Types of defensive bonuses

This is the same type of bonus that mundane armor gives a character. A spell that gives an armor bonus typically creates an invisible, tangible field of force around the affected character.
A bonus or penalty based on situational factors, which may apply either to a check or the DC for that check. Circumstance modifiers stack with each other, unless they arise from essentially the same circumstance. Example: robe of blending.
When a character has a competence bonus, he actually gets better at what he is doing, such as with the spell guidance.
A deflection bonus increases a character's AC by making attacks veer off, such as with the spell shield of faith.
An enhancement of a character's ability to get out of the way quickly. Dodge bonuses do stack with other dodge bonuses. However, spells and magic items never grant dodge bonuses. Only feats and special abilities can do that.
An enhancement bonus represents an increase in the strength or effectiveness of a character's armor or weapon, as with the spells magic vestment and magic weapon, or a general bonus to an ability score, such as with the spell cat's grace.
When a character gets bigger, his Strength increases (as might his Constitution). That's an enlargement bonus. Example: enlarge.
A haste bonus improves a character's AC because he is moving faster, as in the spell haste.
An inherent bonus is a bonus to an ability score that results from powerful magic, such as a wish. A character is limited to a total inherent bonus of +5 to any ability score.
An insight bonus makes a character better at what he is doing because he has an almost precognitive knowledge of factors pertinent to the activity, as with the spell true strike.
A luck bonus is a general bonus that represents good fortune, such as from the spell divine favor.
A morale bonus represents the effects of greater hope, courage, and determination, such as from the bless spell.
Natural Armor
A natural armor bonus is the type of bonus that many monsters get because of their tough or scaly hides. A natural armor bonus bestowed by a spell (such as barkskin) indicates that the subject's skin has become tougher.
A profane bonus represents the power of evil, such as granted by the spell desecrate.
A resistance bonus is a general bonus against magic or harm.
The opposite of a profane bonus, a sacred bonus relates to the power of good, such as granted by the spell consecrate.
A bonus resulting from an unusual beneficial interaction between two related skills. Synergy bonuses are not granted by magic items.


Stacking of Magic Item Bonuses

  1. Limits
    1. Most items that add to saving throws, attack rolls, damage rolls, or AC are restricted to a +5 bonus maximum (bracers of armor are an exception).
    2. Most items that add to abililty scores are restricted to a +6 maximum, and the bonus always comes in a multiple of two.
    3. Skill check bonuses do not have a maximum bonus.
  2. Bonuses of different types always stack.
  3. Identical types of bonuses do not stack.
  4. Magic armor bonuses
    1. Are enhancement bonuses
    2. Never rise above +5
    3. Stack with regular armor bonuses
    4. Stack with shield bonuses
    5. Stack with magic shield enhancement bonuses
    6. Armor check penalties are reduced by 1 because of the masterwork quality of the armor
    7. For an item with only an enhancement bonus, the caster level is three times the the enhancement bonus. If it has both an enhancement bonus and a special ability, the higher of the two caster level requirements must be met.
  5. Magic shield bonuses
    1. Stack with regular shield bonuses
    2. Stack with regular armor bonuses
    3. Stack with armor enhancement bonuses
    4. Do not act as weapon bonuses when used in a bash
    5. Each +1 of enhancement bonus adds 1 to the shield's hardness and hit points
    6. For an item with only an enhancement bonus, the caster level is three times the the enhancement bonus. If it has both an enhancement bonus and a special ability, the higher of the two caster level requirements must be met.
  6. Magic weapon bonuses
    1. Enhancement bonuses
    2. Range from +1 to +5
    3. Apply to both attack and damage rolls when used in combat
    4. Enhancement bonus of the masterwork quality does not stack with the magic enhancement bonuses of the weapon
    5. Where a weapon can be used as either a melee or ranged weapon, the enhancement bonus applies to either type of attack
    6. When a magic arrow, crossbow bolt, or sling bullet hits its target, it is destroyed; when it misses, it has a 50% chance of being rendered useless
    7. Each +1 of enhancement bonus adds 1 to the weapon's hardness and hit points

DMG Table 8-1: Bonuses from Magic
Bonus Type Improves Sample Spell Sample Magic Item
Armor AC mage armor bracers of armor
Circumstance Attacks, checks -- robe of blending
Competence Attacks, saves, checks Tenser's transformation potion of heroism
Deflection AC cloak of chaos ring of protection
Dodge AC Never Never
Enhancement Armor's bonus magic vestment +1 armor
Enhancement Attacks, damage magic weapon +1 sword
Enhancement Ability scores cat's grace gauntlets of ogre power
Enlargement Strength, Constitution righteous might potion of enlarge
Haste AC haste monk's belt
Inherent Ability scores wish tome of clear thought
Insight Attacks, AC, saves, checks true strike --
Luck Attacks, weapon damage, AC, saves, checks divine favor stone of good luck
Morale Attacks, weapon damage, checks, saves bless ring of elemental command
Natural Armor AC barkskin amulet of natural armor
Profane AC, saves, checks unhallow horn of evil
Resistance Saves resistance cloak of resistance
Sacred AC, saves, checks consecrate horn of goodness
Synergy Checks -- --

Magic Item Defensive Bonus Types

The following table lists some magical items and their magical bonus types as listed in Table 8-1.
Magic Item Defensive Bonus Types
Item Bonus Type Notes
Potion of Charisma Enhancement Charisma ability score
Potion of Heroism Competence Attacks, saves, and skill checks
Potion of Hiding Competence Hide checks
Potion of Intelligence Enhancement Intelligence ability score
Oil of Slipperiness Competence Escape Artist check
Potion of Sneak Competence Move Silently check
Potion of Swimming Competence Swim check
Potion of Vision Competence Search check
Potion of Wisdom Enhancement Wisdom ability check
Ring of Chameleon Power Competence Hide check
Ring of Climbing Competence Climb check
Ring of Elemental Command Resistance Special saving throws
Ring of Elemental Resistance (Minor) Resistance Special saving throws
Ring of Elemental Resistance (Major) Resistance Special saving throws
Ring of Force Shield Armor - mfs Does not stack with regular or magical shield - mfs
Ring of Jumping Competence Jump check
Ring of Protection Deflection
Ring of Swimming Competence Swim check
Rod of Splendor Enhancement Charisma ability score
Amulet of Natural Armor Natural armor
Belt of Dwarvenkind Competence Charisma ability checks and Charisma-related skill checks, others
Belt of Giant Strength Enhancement Strength ability score
Boots of Elvenkind Enhancement Move Silently check
Boots of Striding and Springing Competence Jump
Bracers of Archery Competence Attacks and damage
Bracers of Armor Armor
Bracers of Health Enhancement Constitution ability score
Candle of Invocation Morale Attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks
Circlet of Persuasion Competence Charisma checks and Charisma-related skill checks
Cloak of Arachnida Luck Fortitude saves vs. poison from spiders
Cloak of the Bat Deflection
Cloak of Charisma Enhancement Charisma ability score
Cloak of Elvenkind Competence Hide check
Cloak of the Manta Ray Natural Armor
Cloak of Resistance Resistance All saving throws
Eyes of the Eagle Competence (?) Spot check
Gauntlets of Ogre Power Enhancement Strength ability score
Gloves of Dexterity Enhancement Dexterity ability score
Gloves of Swimming and Climbing Enhancement Swim and Climb checks
Goggles of Minute Seeing Competence (?) Search check
Headband of Intellect Enhancement Intelligence abilty score
Ioun Stone - dusty rose prism Deflection
Ioun Stone - pale blue rhomboid Enhancement Strength ability score
Ioun Stone - scarlet and blue sphere Enhancement Intelligence ability score
Ioun Stone - incandescent blue sphere Enhancement Wisdom ability score
Ioun Stone - deep red sphere Enhancement Dexterity ability score
Ioun Stone - pink rhomboid Enhancement Constitution ability score
Ioun Stone - pink and green sphere Enhancement Charisma ability score
Ioun Stone - pale green prism Competence Attack rolls, saves, and checks
Lens of Detection Competence (?) Search and Wilderness Lore checks
Manual of Bodily Health Inherent Constitution ability score
Manual of Gainful Exercise Inherent Strength ability score
Manual of Quickness of Action Inherent Dexterity ability score
Periapt of Proff Against Poison Luck Saving throw vs. poison
Periapt of Wisdom Enchantment Wisdom ability score
Robe of Blending Competence (?) Hide check
Robe of Eyes Competence Search and Spot checks, other
Stone of Good Luck (Luckstone) Luck Saving throws and checks
Tome of Clear Thought Inherent Intelligence ability score
Tome of Leadership and Influence Inherent Charisma ability score
Tome of Understanding Inherent Wisdom ability score
Vest of Escape Competence Escape Artist check