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I'll be DMing for a party in an adventure where a lot of enemies will have resistance or immunity to the most common damage types, like Fire, Cold or Poison. In the previous adventure my Sorcerer dealt with it using Transmuted Spell with a Thunder option. Of course I won't put a DMPC in the campaign now, but I thought this item might be a fun memento and, at the same time, increase their options a bit. They will start at 3rd level, with any uncommon items their starting wealth can buy, and one uncommon or rare they can't. I want this item to be something they will be able to find, and I don't want to overshadow their choices of starting equipment. I'm okay with them not finding it, or selling it for some cash. *

Is it balanced, or slightly underpowered, for their level, and other options they have? And is it simple enough to be useful?

Thunder Crystal

Rare magic item, requires attunement by a creature that can cast spells

This Crystal holds a fragment of power from an unknown Sorcerer. While attuned to it, you know and can use Transmuted Spell metamagic option, but you can only transmute your spell's damage to Thunder. The Crystal holds two Sorcery points that you can use while holding it, but only to power metamagic option provided by it. These Sorcery points regenerate at dawn, or about every 24 hours if you are on a plane without sunrises or sunsets. If you have Sorcery Points from another source, you can use them to power Crystal's metamagic, if the source doesn't put limits on it.

Thunder Crystal counts as a valid arcane focus for Wizards, Sorcerers and Warlocks. At DM discretion it can be set into any nonmagical spellcasting focus of any class, and using that focus to cast spells would count as holding the Thunder Crystal.

I have used existing Metamagic rules instead of writing my own damage type changing rule, because Metamagic is well established, many questions already answered.

I didn't want it to be a free Metamagic Adept feat, hence the limits on how can it be used.


* this part was edited to clarify with the permission from the answer author.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The phrasing " You can only use these Sorcery points if you have a hand free to manipulate this Crystal," can probably be blended with the second sentence. "While attuned to it, you know Transmuted Spell..." and "while holding it, you can use the Sorcery Points..." \$\endgroup\$
    – justhalf
    Commented Apr 27 at 12:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @justhalf I wasn't able to do it and still be clear and not to sound weird. Also, metamagic option is meant to be available all the time, not only when holding and manipulating the crystal. Simplifies bookkeeping in my eyes. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented Apr 27 at 13:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, that's why I put "While attuned to it, you know Transmuted Spell...", and "While holding it, you can use the Sorcery Points...". The idea is that because "while holding it" is standard phrase, instead of the current one. \$\endgroup\$
    – justhalf
    Commented Apr 27 at 13:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @justhalf better now? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented Apr 27 at 13:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ why this part "using that focus to cast spells would count as holding the Thunder Crystal" included? To use focus, you'll need to hold it in your hand, so why this part specifically calls out that? Can you use this crystal as focus without holding it - but need this part to specifically let it as if you're holding it? \$\endgroup\$
    – Vylix
    Commented Apr 27 at 19:52

2 Answers 2

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In theory, I like the idea, in practice, I'm not so sure.

Your specific questions . . . .

Rare is fine

Uncommon would be fine, too. I don't think rarity is the issue.

I mean, you're the DM. Rarity is a DM-facing tool. Here it sounds like you're using the rating to make it a choice between this item and something else rare.

Is it balanced, or underpowered

I am not seeing anything overpowered; in fact, it seems pretty underwhelming to me, except for some very specific build.

Every casting class has numerous damage options that aren't fire, cold, or poison. Sure, immunity to fire (for instance) takes away some really go-to spells, but there are plenty of others, and plenty of control spells.

If the PCs know they're going to be facing opponents with such resistances, they can prepare, and if they don't know, then really what would the appeal of the thunder crystal be?

Is balanced for other options

If by "other options", you mean "any uncommon or rare item", then the thunder crystal would be waaay down my list. If by "other options", you mean a list of uncommon or rare items that you've limited, then . . . well, there's no way for us to know, because we don't know the other choices.

What would be a better option would depend on build, but to name a handful of candidates: broom of flying, cloak of protection, luckstone, winged boots, bracers of defense, mantle of spell resistance, ring of evasion, ring of protection, ring of spell storing, . . . . So many.

Other comments

You say . . . "I thought this item might be a fun memento" . . . . I have to ask, for who? If only for you, then really, it's meaningless for your players, and maybe there's another way for you to memorialize your PC. A statue? A magical statue that gives you the metamagic for a day if you rub it? An NPC? Maybe something like a professor orb? If primarily a memento for you, because it's an allusion to your old PC, but the other players will recognize it . . . hmmm, maybe, but I'm doubtful. If it's a fun memento for one or more players, then that might be a different story, and might make it meaningful.

I'm not trying to throw shade on you here. That you're trying to come up with fun options is the sign of a good DM. I'm just not sure it's as much fun for the players as for the DM. I mean, it's your old character.

You say, "increase their options a bit". Hmmm. I'm just not seeing that there's a lot of limitation on the players to solve this problem. Maybe I'm completely missing it, but I'm just not seeing it. There are lots of ways to get around those damage limitations, especially if you know ahead of time.

As a player, I am far from a min/maxer, but when I'm looking at starting magic items for a character, I'm looking at something that will be broadly and frequently useful over the life of the character, and it depends a lot on the character. Maybe this has appeal for specific builds, but I'm just not seeing it.

So . . . sure, you can offer it. But will someone take it, over the other choices?

Now . . . if you want to use this as treasure for the players to find, that's a ball of wax of a different color. That might be quite amusing as a throw-back to a previous campaign, and the PCs can keep it or get rid of it as they wish. You might consider a custom version of the mind crystal from Phandelver and Below, which gives you roughly the same thing, in a consumable non-attuned form.

Last thought . . . the fire, cold, poison thing is a challenge for the players to solve. Maybe let them solve it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yea, it was meant to be something they may find, and then use, discard or sell. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented Apr 27 at 15:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ I read your first para as you were offering it as a starting option. I'm not sure how valid my answer really is, then. If you want to clarify in the question (or if I'm just reading it wrong), I'm happy to delete my answer and I or someone else can answer specifically as an item to find. Or I can expand my "players to find" para. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Commented Apr 27 at 16:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I see how I wasn't precise enough. I'll clarify, but please, don't delete your answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented Apr 27 at 18:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I updated the para on an item for the PCs. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Commented Apr 27 at 19:01
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This is fine as a rare item

Rarity only loosely correlates with power. Yes, items that tend to be more rare tend to be more powerful, but more than that, rarity is about how rare or unusual something is. (If you don't believe me, look at the uncommon winged boots compared to the rare cloak of the bat, which is useful only situationally; or look at ring of warmth). I think the somewhat complex function of investing you with sorcery points for a narrow purpose fits well at rare: it's too complicated for an uncommon item, and lacks the power and awesomeness you'd expect from a very rare or even legendary one.

It is not a strong item, especially when it is competing for being found with more useful alternatives on a random roll for a rare item, or for an attunement slot against other items, no matter their rarity. Still it is kinda nice to have. Yes, a wizard can learn damage spells of alternative damage types, but unless you know what you‘ll face, this then will hog valuable spell preparation slots (ice storm in addition to fireball etc.) Thunder works against nearly everything, so now you can throw thunderballs, and never need to worry about that again (well, until your sorcery points run out), and use those other preparation slots for more flexibility. How attractive that is will entirely depend on what other options you have.

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