BoLS logo Tabletop, RPGs & Pop Culture

D&D: The Best Magic Items in Xanathar’s Guide

5 Minute Read
Nov 7 2017

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything has some of the greatest magic items in the history of D&D.

Magic Items have long been a staple of any RPG campaign. Whether the modifier-heaped monstrosities of high-level 3.x/Pathfinder play–“you’re level 15 and you DON’T have a +3 Flaming, Icing, Shocking, Longsword of Speed? Good luck killing anything”–the daily/encounter-power heaped minefield of 4th Edition, or the fairly streamlined magic items from 2nd Edition that really weren’t that bad, all you had to put up with was THAC0 (which everyone still does in a way, it’s just all embedded into the formula we use to determine proficiency bonuses).

5th Edition is a little different in that you don’t need a magic item to hang with the cool kids. But there are still more magic items than you can shake a stick at in the game (I’ve tried, you can at best shake a stick at two), but they’re all very reminiscent of what has come before. Not so since the advent of Xanathar’s Guide, which you can see reviewed here. We barely touched on the greatness that is the list of Common Magic Items, so I want to take a little time and give you a sampler of what awaits within these pages.

Cast-Off Armor

Not pictured, the quick-release snaps.

This is armor you can doff as an action. This is surprisingly handy for what it is–if you fall overboard in heavy plate, hey now you can jettison that armor. Or you can show your enemies that you’re willing to talk peace and mean it when you step out of your scale male with a single stride. Better still, be a monk or a barbarian or someone who gets harder to hit when they’re not wearing armor, and then doff this armor when the fight gets serious.

Mystery Key


This is a mysterious key with a question mark worked into its head. It has a 5% chance of unlocking any lock that it’s used on. Once it unlocks something, it disappears. I love this idea so much–it’s a great reward, especially for parties where the rogue can’t unlock doors and nobody prepares/knows the Knock Spell. Better yet, it has a 5% chance of unlocking anything, so take that Arcane Lock–most of the time it’ll do nothing, but the one time it works will be one of those memorable moments.

Shield of Expression

This is a shield with a face engraved in it. When using the shield, as a bonus action you can alter the face’s expression. So if you want your shield to be roaring in anger as you charge, or pouting on your behalf while the party talks about how they’re going to ignore your genius plan to take over the castle (again), you need look no further than this magical shield.

Walloping Ammunition

This ammunition packs a wallop (taken verbatim from Xanathar’s Guide). This ammunition forces creatures hit by it to make a strength save or be knocked prone. It’s only DC 10, but every single time it works the party’s archer is going to be delighted. For maxmimum enjoyment, try and find Shuriken or Darts or Sling Bullets with this property.

Pot of Awakening

Your potted pal who’s fun to be around, this is a strong contender for my single favorite item on this list, this is a magical 10-pound clay pot, which, if you plant an ordinary shrub and let it grow for 30 days (no more, no less), the shrub will transform into an Awakened Shrub which is friendly towards you and may listen to commands you give it.


Moon-Touched Sword

No no moon-TOUCHED-you know what it’s fine.

This one’s pretty cool–a sword that when unsheathed in darkness sheds moonlight, providing bright light out to 15 feet and dim light out another 15 feet. It’s nothing super fancy, and nothing you can’t achieve with a light spell, but the fact that it’s moonlight makes it seem a little more wondrous, and might be of particular interest to players whose characters have an affinity moonward. Or if you’re fighting against cursed pirates whose true form is only revealed by moonlight, this lets you know when said scalawags are present.

Unbreakable Arrow

This is the stuff that dreams are made of. An arrow that cannot be broken, except when inside an antimagic field. If you can’t think of at least a dozen possible uses for this arrow, there’s no helping you. This is the arrow for making your DM get that far-off sad stare that you know means their spirit is broken just that much more inside. Hang the arrow somewhere and use it as a way to climb down. Wedge open any door. Bet people in taverns that you’re stronger than them–you snap a regular arrow, and give them your unbreakable arrow. Build a shelter out of unbreakable arrows and weather a storm. The list goes on–but this item has potential.

Most of the common magic items have that kind of potential–there are ways to use them, but you have to get creative to really make the most out of them. And that’s what I like about them. It isn’t just that they’re frivolous, but that they encourage players to really think about how they can get away with things in the game–that’s as much a part of D&D as kicking in a door to a 10’x10′ room with an Orc guarding a chest. So, I hope you enjoy figuring out how you’re going to use the Tankard of Sobriety (which means you never get drunk) to create further adventures.

Until next time, happy adventuring!

Author: J.R. Zambrano
  • Necromunda, Minis, Tyranids, Primarchs, The Thing & Xanathar's Guide