1st level Magic Items

Generally speaking, caster PCs begin with 70 gp to spend on starting equipment that is typically spent on standard adventuring equipment (class kits, skill kits, clothes, weapon, scrolls, etc). Depending on the style of campaign, and the rules implemented by the GM, it can be perfectly reasonable for brand new characters to have a magical trinket of some sort; however, due to the high cost of magic items (except low level scrolls and potions), 1st-level PCs are too often left simply with mundane options.

Now that we have established crafting at low levels, using Apprentice Crafter, new casters have the option of obtaining a low-level magic item for cheaper than merely buying it. Perhaps they crafted it in school as a graduation requirement, or afterwards as a precursor to adventuring. Maybe they got lucky and managed to squirrel away enough starting money or had rich parents. It is even possible that they brokered a deal in which they pay half now and perform a job to complete payment. In any case, the player is left to their imagination to craft a backstory (with the GM’s help and approval) to explain how, why, and where they got such an item.

The following are my favorite go-to low-level magic items that I have created over the years for 1st-level PCs. The thought behind them was to enhance cantrips in handy ways that don’t break the spell, beyond what spamming it every round can already do.

Let us consider resistance, which lasts for one minute. Nothing is stopping a PC from casting it every minute. A cloak that just extends the duration doesn’t break the spell or the game, it only changes their pattern of behavior from spamming every minute to spamming it every hour. They still have to memorize the spell, thus taking up one of their daily cantrip slots *and* they are also wearing a magic item in the shoulders’ slot. Compare that to Hand of the Mage, which lets the wearer use the spell mage hand at will, without preparation, and costs 900 gp.

Cloak of Resistance, Lesser

Aura faint abjuration; CL 1st
Slot shoulders; Price 100 gp; Weight 1 lb.

Flecks of silver or steel are often sewn amid the fabric of these magical cloaks. When the wearer of this cloak is the recipient of a resistance spell, the duration of the spell is 1 hour instead of 1 minute.

Construction Requirements
Craft Wondrous Item, resistance; Cost 50 gp

When you look at what you get with an everburning torch for 110 gp, you might find it hard to improve on the cost effectiveness. This idea came out of an interesting conversation I once had about having wizard apprentices casting light on magical street lights / lamps as part of their training duties. Because you can only have one light spell active at a time, it simply isn’t practical to use light as a common tool in a city. Using my light crystals, and putting the school’s arcane mark on them to link them all together, each student can add one more light to the system as a part of their training. Thus, over time, the city would have more and more light crystals to keep them safe at night.

Light Crystal

Aura faint evocation; CL 1st
Slot none; Price 100 gp; Weight 1 lb.

This clear crystal is unremarkable save the arcane mark etched on it. Light crystals activate when exposed to the light of a light spell, shedding light as if they, too, had light cast upon them. Multiple light crystals may be chained together if they all have the same arcane mark etched on them. To create a color other than natural light, a colored crystal must be used, doubling the cost.

Construction Requirements
Craft Wondrous Item, light, arcane mark; Cost 50 gp

Harry Potter, like it or not, has made a mark on the fantasy genre. While there are plenty of other examples to be had or found, his is most prevalent these days. One of the key points of their spell combat was the use of a wand. Looking through the list of cantrips, we have acid splash and ray of frost as examples of attack spells. Bumping the damage from 1d3 to 1d4 is marginal in the grand scheme of things, but will be flavorful and handy for low level wizards that have used their one 1st-level spell for the day.

Training Wand

Aura faint (no school); CL 1st
Slot none; Price 100 gp; Weight 1 lb.

While casting some offensive cantrips (acid splash, ray of frost) with this wand in hand, the damage die is increased from 1d3 to 1d4.

Construction Requirements
Craft Wand; Cost 50 gp

Who hasn’t wanted their hero to carry around a Zippo? I thought it would be funny to play with the mechanic of the stupid thing not always firing the first time you strike it.

Pocket Lighter

Aura faint conjuration; CL 1st
Slot none; Price 100 gp; Weight 1 lb.

This tiny metal box has a flip-top mechanism that opens to the sound of flint striking a steel wheel. While not 100% reliable the first attempt, the pocket lighter is capable of producing the spark cantrip at least once a day.

The lighter holds 4 charges of spark, but each attempt to activate the item successfully requires 1d4 charges. This means that you are guaranteed to get at least one use each day, but not always more. Recharging the pocket lighter follows the same rules as recharging a staff, except that the caster doesn’t lose the spark spell for the rest of the day.

Construction Requirements
Craft Wondrous Item, spark; Cost 50 gp

The spell message is very valuable, but also very limited. One of the key limiting factors is that if you all are hiding or sneaking around and become cutoff before it can be cast, or the duration wears off while you are all hiding in different places, you cannot target your whole party. Sticking your head out to point is not a very safe proposition. Thus, I present, the whisper amulet.

Whisper Amulet

Aura faint transmutation; CL 1st
Slot neck; Price 100 gp; Weight 1 lb.

This amulet contains an arcane mark and opens to hold a trinket of your choice.

When the owner of the arcane mark on this amulet casts the spell message, and the wearer is within range of the spell, the wearer of this amulet is included as a target of the spell as if the caster had pointed at them.

Construction Requirements
Craft Wondrous Item, arcane mark, message; Cost 50 gp

While putting these items together in an official looking layout, I decided to look at all of the other cantrips from Paizo core books. I had a few neat ideas for other starting items that I felt would easily fit in with the theme of this post, and also have a cost of 100 gp (50 gp to craft). I didn’t want to just spam this post with magic items, but hopefully you like my ideas and are able to use them or springboard into better ideas!

Arcane Mark: Miniature Brand (makes marks on living beings that last a year)

Dancing Lights: Marionette Gloves (allows a concentration check to maintain the spell another minute instead of casting it again; the description specifies casting again dispels the original, thus breaking up the illusion)

Detect Magic: Faceted Goggles (on round 2, gain round 1 info in the remainder of the hemisphere you are facing)

Detect Poison: Gas Mask (+2 on checks to determine poison)

Disrupt Undead: Bone Rod (1d8 touch attack instead of 1d6 ranged touch attack)

Haunted Fey Aspect (UC): Fey Mask (+1 extra round after expiration)

Mage Hand: Glove (double weight at 10 ft move or half weight at 20 ft move)

Mending: Multi-tool (1d6 hp restored instead of 1d4)

Prestidigitation: Gloves (double the normal amount of effects)

Read Magic: Goggles with focus crystals embedded (+2 circumstance on spellcraft checks to identify glyphs)

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