Put a little magic and a whole lot of heart into your life with five of the best magical hearts from the history of Dungeons & Dragons.
Oh you read that right folks. And you thought the Hand of Vecna was a little out there–that’s barely scratching the surface. Step back in time with me to the days of 2nd Edition when the world was wide open and TSR was churning out D&D supplements like they didn’t know what was going to happen in 1997. While there were a few lower quality ones out there, one of the best supplements were the set of books known as the Encyclopedia Magica, which gathered magic items from throughout the various supplements and collated them in one place, featuring everything from the usual magic items to powerful artifacts like the Hand of Vecna and the Hand of Vecna II…
But tucked in between magical Headdresses and Heels are five magical Hearts that are sure to make any Valentine’s day truly magical. Now these are sometimes small pieces of gold jewelry, other times they are actual hearts you had to put in your chest, depending on how your DM chose to interpret them/how much of a powergamer you were about never wanting to lose your magical items.
This magical item is all about giving courage to those who wear it–and we mention it not just because Lion-hearted adventurers are fantasy’s stock and trade, but because the Lion Heart is the basic recipe for many of the other hearts to come. Which ones, you ask?
Look you never have to feel bad about anything you put in your game, but especially when you look at the Chicken Heart, which is from the gotcha school of DMing. Wearing this heart, which is “identical to most other magical hearts, especially the lion heart” might make you feel courageous, but if you wear it any saving throw vs. fear automatically fails, and if someone speaks the command word, the bearer become nervous, fainthearted, and fearful, running from any opponent, no matter how harmless or friendly, for at least 1d4+1 rounds.
Heart of Kazgaroth
The Heart of Kazgaroth, from the Hall of Heroes book, is a literal heart. A stony, blackened heart is all that is left of a particularly fiendish foe. Kazgaroth was a powerful shapechanging Tyrannosaurus Rex that worshipped Bhaal, and the beast’s heart is a direct channel to the god of murder. So not only is it a T-Rex Heart, it’s basically a red phone to Murder HQ. This profoundly evil item is incredibly powerful if you worship Bhaal: it allows a priest to use any spell without expending it. You do have to put up with getting images of various commands from Bhaal, though.
The Beating Heart is an interesting item. It stores your life essence, taking one hit point away from you, which it keeps. While it’s full of your hit points, the heart glows red and flashes in time with your heartbeat. It’s a neat trick that makes you immune to possession and level drain, and basically makes 2nd Edition rules for death and dying like 5th Edition’s rules, in that you can instantly be brought back with a cure wounds spell, which wasn’t always the case.
The Iron Heart is a literal, magical heart. This magitech contraption is a replacement for a damaged or aging human heart–you don’t have to have any messy surgery either, just put the metal heart on your chest and it gets absorbed into the body, telling the DM that “this heart should increase the owner’s endurance and resistance to disease” without giving any guidance as to by how much. Still, it’s pretty cool, and is the sort of item you’d expect to see in Eberron today.
Bonus: Heart of Hearing
One last one. This is called the Heart of Hearing, because you see designers have always been clever and nothing is better than a pun, the highest form of comedy. The Heart of Hearing lets you hear noise as good as a 16th-level thief (upwards of 95% success chance), but has a one in six chance of malfunctioning, meaning that you can only hear the snoring of a sleeping giant or dragon instead. Naturally it functions continuously when worn.
So the next time you’re looking to put a little magic in your campaign to spice up your life, try having a little heart.