World Building: Item Magic

handmade jewelleryOtherwise known as enchanting, item magic can be added to your magic system or be the stand alone source of powers in your world. Herein I’m going to give you the necessary tools to create a convincing item based magic system.

As with all magic systems, you need to (at least for yourself) know where the magic comes from. In my world Etheros, enchanted items are rare and they come from “the immortal age” a time when dwarves imbued magical runes upon weapons, armour and objects.

  • Who makes enchanted items?
  • When?
  • How? (ingredients? Tools?)

If you are working with a caster based magic system wherein spells require the use of a tool (wand, sword, staff), you need to think about how these items are made. Were they forged by a lost civilisation? Are they made by master craftsmen?

You also need to consider the limitations of enchanted items. It is not uncommon to see an item in a fantasy world with a huge amount of power, but not every item can be this way. You need variance in your enchanted items, otherwise you may wind up writing a guild raid in World of Warcraft, and not a beautiful fantasy novel.

  • How frequent are magical items? Is your world like D&D where every man and his dog carries a magical item? Or are they extremely rare, like my world Etheros?
  • What is the strongest enchantment an item carries? In my debut novel “Sword of Unity” [out in December], there are two: Vengeance (the badies’ sword) and Unity (the hero’s sword), they are matched only by each other in power.
  • What is the weakest enchantment an item carries? Think of D&D, Baldurs Gate and the old Long Sword +1. What is the weakest thing a magical item in your world will do?
  • Relevance to the story – Personally I like magical items to be a part of the tale itself, rather than simple attachments to the characters.
  • Make a list of common enchantments – As always, I don’t like comprehensive lists, but a great starting point is to make a list of commonly occurring magical items. E.g. Bracers of strength, sword of fire.

Item based magic was a short one because as I got into writing the realisation hit me that I could blather on for hours. So at some point I will be adding to almost every aspect of this tutorial.

Was there anything in here that you hadn’t considered while developing your enchanted items? Was there something extra you did take into account?

Thanks for reading,



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