I don’t know. I guess you could say in my games I tend to be stingy with the magic items. Maybe it is the “old school” in me, but I look at magic items to be special and awesome.
Back in my day we had to walk into a dungeon 15 miles, up hill both ways, through the snow, fighting rust monsters, and losing comrades just to get one magic item!
I jest.. Kinda.. When I started playing DnD 16 years ago (I’m 29) the DM would really put us through the wringer and when we emerged out of the adventure/dungeon delve with (I think) 4 new weapons and a few potions. None of us could use 2 of the weapons. Being the rogue, I got the dagger and the ranger got a bow. My dagger did like +1 to my attack *shudders at THACO* and about 2 additional points acid damage. We were level 1-3 when we ran that delve.
I had that dagger until I was like level 7 or 8! The same dinky dagger. We would go several missions where all we got were some potions (mostly for healing) and gold.
When I took up the DM/GM mantel I wanted to make each magic item special, and make each player treasure it. Yet I don’t want to give them ONLY 1 magic item for the span of 8 levels.
I tend to create magic items that can only be used once or twice a day or have a limited amount of charges.
I also try (although admittedly sometimes I get lazy and don’t) to add flavor to the weapons and armor I give my players.
In the last session the players were rewarded for their bravery from session 2.
The weapons are all +2 to hit and damage. The metal has an almost liquid looking quality to it and there are small holes located in certain places on each weapon. I haven’t told my players the purpose of these holes (and no it is not to have sex with… maybe) and “possible” other properties of each weapon.
Sharp Things That Go Into Soft Things That Scream and Bleed:
Liam– The Bleeding Heart (Halberd that splits into three parts, linked by chains)- The pole is crimson red and there is a bit of fur and a red sash at the edge under the blade. The blade is curved and looks like flame. It is said that this blade was forged by a scorned woman, to pierce the heart of the man who abandoned her. The red shows where his blood-dyed the wood.
Angie– The Demon Staff (Spear of Horns)- The handle is of obsidian like material. Hard and sturdy. There are 4 horns that point skyward and 4 that point to the Hells. Showing that nothing is safe. This weapon was forged by a man who lost his family, home, and farm to a terrible flood caused by an angered Devil. He set out to avenge what he lost. No one ever saw him or the Devil again.
Drew– The King Killer (Bastard Sword)- A Long and Strong Blade. The hilt is wrapped in black leather with a red ruby at the end. The protector is made of the same metal as the blade but looks like a spiky crown. The blade straight, w jagged sawed sides. Villagers cried out for someone to save them from a King who didn’t love them. The blade answered and the king fell, but the village was destroyed and the people perished from starvation.
Elmer- The Dying Princess (Rapier)- An elegant blade with a hand protector of woven metal, cascading down to cover the hand. The thin blade curves gently. Long ago a beautiful princess was attacked by a creature of the wood. Her face was disfigured from the attack and no healer could remedy it. Her father had just received this sword as a gift and was pondering a name for it when the princess flung herself upon the blade, unable to live with her hideous appearance.
Sammy– The Eye Gouger (Sickle)- A handle of dark fine wood meets a blade of twisted metal, with a razor sharp edge and a fine point. Long ago a villager took to peaking at the woman in his village. Eventually his lust became so great that he tried to take women that weren’t his. Eventually the woman rallied and had a husband craft a blade. They tortured the man. Cutting off his legs and arms and cutting out his eyes. They left him in a whore house so he could always here women, but never see or touch them again.
John– Dream Crusher (Heavy Mace B/P)- A thick counter weight at the end of the handle is sculpted to look like a face screaming. The handle is of black metal with a red dyed leather overlay. The head of the mace is flat with grooves with a plot of spikes at the head. This mace was crafted for a deadly dark knight of an ancient kingdom. He took great glee in finding the young soldiers and killing them with this weapon. He would watch the life fade from their eyes, knowing that all they unaccomplished dreams, goals, and lost loves would haunt them in the afterlife.
Ok.. So What Else?
I also like to offer favors, contacts, new hooks, or sometimes I’ll give them “training” into a new feat or special ability.
Pathfinder Game Mastery Guide offers some great advice on NPC’s and boons. It is really helpful and can easily be tailored to another campaign/system (at least to give you a general idea). I really recommend reading it.
How do you handle treasure and rewards in your game?