Magic Items


Some magic items require a creature to form a bond with them before their magical properties can be used. This bond is called attunement.

Certain items have a prerequisite for attunement. If the prerequisite is a class, a creature must be a member of that class to attune to the item. If the prerequisite is to be a spellcaster, a creature qualifies if it can cast at least one spell using a trait or feature, not from an external source like a magic item. If an item requires attunement, it is marked in parentheses in the item’s description.

Without becoming attuned to an item that requires attunement, a creature gains only the item’s nonmagical benefits, unless its description states otherwise. For example, a magic shield that requires attunement provides the benefits of a normal shield to an unattuned creature, but none of its magical properties.

Attuning to an item requires a creature to spend one hour focused on only that item while being in physical contact with it. This process can occur as part of a short or long rest. If the process is interrupted, the attunement attempt fails. Otherwise, at the end of the hour, the creature gains an intuitive understanding of how to activate the magical properties of the item, including any necessary command words.

An item can be attuned to only one creature at a time, and a creature can be attuned to no more than a number of items equal to its proficiency bonus (PB) at any one time. If a creature attempts to attune to an additional item, its attunement to one item of their choice immediately ends. In addition, a creature can’t attune to more than one of the same item. For example, a creature can’t attune to more than one ring of protection at a time.

A creature’s attunement to an item ends if the creature no longer satisfies the prerequisites for attunement, if the item has been more than 100 feet away for at least 24 hours, if the creature dies, or if another creature attunes to the item. A creature can also voluntarily end attunement to an item at any time as an action—unless the item is cursed.

Equipping Magic Items

Using a magic item’s properties requires reading, holding, ingesting, wearing or wielding the item. A magic item meant to be worn must be donned in the intended fashion: boots go on the feet, gloves on the hands, hats and helmets on the head, and rings on the finger. Magic armor must be donned, a shield strapped to the arm, a cloak fastened about the shoulders. A weapon must be held.

In most cases, a magic item meant to be worn can fit a creature regardless of size or build. Many magic garments magically adjust themselves to the wearer. Rare exceptions exist. If the story suggests a good reason for an item to fit only creatures of a certain size or shape, the GM can rule that it doesn’t adjust.

When a nonhumanoid tries to wear an item, it is up to GM discretion as to whether the item functions as intended. A ring placed on a tentacle might work, but a serpentfolk with a tail instead of legs can’t wear boots.

Multiple Items of the Same Kind

Use common sense to determine whether more than one of a given kind of magic item can be worn. A character can’t normally wear more than one pair of footwear, one pair of gloves or gauntlets, one pair of bracers, one suit of armor, one item of headwear, and one cloak. Your GM might allow exceptions. For example, a GM could rule that a PC can wear a circlet under a helmet or layer two cloaks.

Paired Items

Items that come in pairs—such as boots, bracers, gauntlets, and gloves—impart their benefits only if both items of the pair are worn. For example, a character wearing a boot of striding and springing on one foot and a boot of elvenkind on the other foot gains no benefit from either.

Activating Magic Items

Activating some magic items requires a user to do something special, such as holding the item and uttering a command word. The description of an item category or individual item details how an item is activated. Certain items use the following rules for their activation.

If an item requires an action to activate, that action isn’t a function of the Use an Object action.

Command Word

A command word is a word or phrase that must be spoken for an item to work. A magic item that requires a command word can’t be activated in an area where sound is prevented, such as in the area of a silence spell.

Casting Spells From an Item

Some magic items allow you to cast a spell from them. When you do, the spell is cast at the lowest possible spell circle, doesn’t expend any of your spell slots, and requires no components, unless the item’s description says otherwise. If a spell cast from a magic item requires concentration, you must still concentrate on it following normal concentration rules.

A magic item states whether an action, bonus action, reaction, or no action is required to cast a spell from it. If the item doesn’t specify a spell’s casting time, range, and duration, or other exceptions to a spell’s normal operation, use the spell’s information.

Many items, such as potions, grant a spell’s effects with their usual duration without casting the spell. However, a few items, potions included, change the casting time, duration, or other parts of a spell. Any deviations from the spell’s description are identified in the item description.

Some staffs require you to use your own spellcasting ability to cast a spell from them. If you have more than one spellcasting ability, you choose which one to use with an item that requires it. If you don’t have a spellcasting ability, your spellcasting ability modifier is +0 for the item, and apply your PB.


Many magic items have charges that must be expended to activate their properties. The number of charges an item has remaining is revealed when an item is identified and when a creature attunes to it. In addition, when an item regains charges, the creature attuned to it learns how many charges it regained. If an item’s properties don’t specify a number of charges, it can be used as often as the user wishes to spend the actions to activate it.

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