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I tend to prefer high-magic fantasy games, where magical items can be purchased (at around the DMG prices, in D&D) in many large(ish) towns - it's common for the very well-off to have magical items. Most of these are trivial - clothes that resist tears and stains, buckets that can hold slightly more water than they should be able to, tools that stay sharper, etc.

I also extend this to magical arms and armor, sometimes in unusual ways. A villain's +3 greatsword, for example, might make a sound similar to a terrified scream when swung, or a cleric's +2 breastplate may glow with his god's holy symbol when he's struck. These effects are typically flavor, without any effect on game mechanics (though I will allow it in limited circumstances - the sword swinging may alert distant guards, or the holy symbol's appearance may grant those who see it a Knowledge(regligion) check to recognize the cleric's allegiance).

Some shopkeepers will have these applied as well, at character's request or on their own behalf (one shopkeeper actually got back at a dwarven PC for an insult in this way - he indicated that the +1 Dwarven Waraxe had a 'really useful' added property, which he upcharged for, activated by a command word...it turned it into a stepstool when you activated it).

What sort of effects would be appropriate for this type of 'enhancement'? What should I allow at no cost, and what should I up the gp value for?

How can a clevermunchkiny player turn this against me to gain an advantage?

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Subjective questions don't necessarily need to be CW: blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/good-subjective-bad-subjective The question at the end of the post seems very answerable (What type of enhancements can be given for free/low cost? What can munchkins do to twist them?). –  AceCalhoon Feb 18 '11 at 2:22
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Munchkins can/will twist them in ways you never see coming. Trust me on this. –  Pulsehead Feb 18 '11 at 13:50
    
(I know this is an old question but...) At minimum, the battle-ax -> stepstool change seems like an ideal way to sneak it someplace it's not supposed to go; like as 'comfort' for a prisoner... –  Clockwork-Muse Nov 30 '12 at 22:06
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Well, that seems nice and colorful, just don't allow more than one such color ability per item, and put a flat GP cost rider on it (not a whole +1, in other words, a +250 gp or +10% or the like). Have the rule that it needs to be completely innocuous, as in "less than a level 0 spell." If it rises to the level of a level 0 spell (and I'd say making enough noise, for example, does) then upcharge it using the existing rules...

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The simplest way to make sure players don't use these sorts of bonuses against you is to make free abilities be any effect which either reduces book keeping, like mundane items which don't wear out, or has no mechanical bonuses or drawbacks, like color. For items with mechanical effects, costs should depend on the mechanical effect.

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Maintenance

Much of real life is spent in maintaining things, but this gets skipped over most of the time in games, so an item that handles its own maintenance would be a real boon in real life, but just flavor with occassional minor benefit in game. You mentioned clothes that don't stain, but clothes that always stay completely clean would be nice. Tools and weapons that never rust, chip, or grow dull.

Similarly, an item to do the maintenance (a magical clothes washer) fits.

Depending on how "high magic" these types of things might be either a small increase or standard features.

Self working

This is more for flavor, but plows that provide their own energy and require only guidance but not an Ox would be valuable.

Comfort

Clothes that keep you at a comfortable tempurature in any reasonable environment but get overwhelmed by extremes would be valuable. The same thing could be put on armor. Boots that keep your feet from blistering even on long marches would be valuable, but they don't give you any kind of mechanical advantage.

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