Sunday, 13 March 2016

Dungeon Master: Necklace of Random Spells

Continuing with randomness, I thought it would make sense to post an item that came up a few times over the course of the games I run and play. It tends to be an interesting item, since whenever I've seen it used in my games and others it appears to be another item. I hope someone finds use for it in their games.


Generally, this item looks like another item. The most common way I've seen it, informally called the “Necklace of Random Spells” by my players (even though it's not 100% accurate, since a Necklace of Random Spells could include the entire spell list and would be awesome in its own right), is that it looks exactly the same as a Necklace of Fireballs. The surprises that occur after one of the other effects are usually well remembers and entertaining. The other way is without the necklace itself. Giving just the beads in a bag makes it less obvious and also lets you mix in some other necklace beads.

Magic Effects

Spell Effects D20 Roll
Heal to full health 1-5
Nothing 6-10
11-15/td> 10D10 necrotic damage (DC 15 dexterity save for half damage)
16-20/td> 10D10 fire damage (DC 15 dexterity save for half damage)

The table below covers the effects that occur when the bead hits a target. If the bead does not hit its target, it still goes off and creates a visual effect similar to the intended effect. If a throw is attempted, treat it as an improvised weapon attack (a clever player might load it into a sling but don't tell them this option).

Variant 1: Add “within 20ft” to every spell effect (in this case, throwing it would no longer use improvised weapon rules).

Variant 2: Remove the ability to save against the bead (the balance is maintained by need to hit the target with the bead).

Variant 3: Change the save DCs.

Variant 4: Double damage on a 20.

Variant 5: On a roll of 1, the target that is hit gains a level (if not possible, other benefit such as bonus damage and full health + temp hit points).

Variant 6: Change the damage.


Feel free to add other beads that have different effects, mix in other necklace beads into the bag of beads the characters finds (for more surprises) or change the rules on throwing the beads. The variants above can help make it more or less useful for the players.

When to Use

I'd recommend using this item at lower levels of play but not too low (level 5ish or lower if they may face extreme challenges). The damage is quite high but the ability to miss by default and the presence of the save helps even things out. The damage is also offset by the chance to get an undesired effect (such as the enemy gaining levels). The variant rule involving gaining a level on a roll of 1 is particularly bad for the party since it makes their enemy significantly stronger (though this has led to some pretty amazing combat encounters and story situations).  

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