Straightforward self explanatory question really as described in the title. Magic Item Compendium presents activating magic items in this manner [Action Type] (type of action) as per page 220. Is anyone aware of an update to the DMG that describes magic items presented therein in the same format?

Take for example a RING OF LIGHTNING FLASHES page 125 of Magic Item Compendium we can see that the activation is [Swift] (mental) which produces a comparable spell effect that results in direct damage. Whereas a reading of a RING OF ELEMENTAL COMMAND (Fire) page 231 DMG any of the following Burning hands, Flaming sphere, Wall of fire or Flame strike requires a standard action to activate. This kind of disparity in action economy seems a little odd to me. Just to be clear I understand that Swift and Immediate actions were introduced after the DMG was published, hence the question.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there inspiration for this question? (Using particular magic items from the DMG that possess controversial or unclear activation times would serve to contextualize the issue and demonstrate why the question's important.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 29, 2019 at 19:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes see above for edit. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 29, 2019 at 19:48

1 Answer 1


I can say with some confidence as a fan with fairly extensive knowledge of the material available for the game (q.v. here) that nothing published by Wizards of the Coast updates the magic items from the Dungeon Master's Guide to the format found in the Magic Item Compendium.

While later writers would—through accident or design—deviate from the guidelines established by the DMG by raising or lowering prices or changing the slots of items (examples of which can be found by comparing items in the DMG to similar items in the MIC), to my knowledge there was never any effort made by Wizards of the Coast to formally or informally update or change the DMG's magic items to match or become equivalent to the magic items found in the MIC. (Sort of like how the Monster Manual remains unchanged despite later material using a much different format for monsters' stat blocks.)

In short, you and and I and everyone else are stuck with the DMG's items as-is, no matter how baffling they sometimes are.

Note: To be fair to the ring of fire elemental command and the similar rings, they're legacy items dating back at least to 1977 that have always had a host of weird powers. I suspect they were in 2000 priced partially by eyeball and only briefly reviewed for the 3.5 revision because no one wanted them, folks having realized that the rings' abilities were silly for what had been established as their prices. Also, the comparison to the ring of lightning flashes may be a little difficult: while the ring of lightning flashes wins in the action economy department, it has 3 charges per day, and the game has always been wary of—and placed a perhaps too expensive premium on—unlimited-use effects, like the burning hands feature of the ring of fire elemental command.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That publication list in date order is really useful thanks. Bookmarked for referral. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 29, 2019 at 23:12

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