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Formulas for Homebrew Magic Items: D&D 5e

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In Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition, the rules for crafting magic items can leave Dungeon Masters and players scratching their helmets in confusion. Basic guidelines are available, but clarification is definitely desired.

Thankfully, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything provides clearer insights into the basic mechanics of creating a magic item, which you can read in our Guide to Crafting Magic Items article, but the exact how of crafting magic items is still a mystery.

According to XGtE, in order to craft a magic item, a player needs a formula and a quest, as well as time and money. Magic-casting abilities are no longer a requirement, and components must be acquired through quests with appropriate Challenge Ratings based on the rarity of the item crafted.

So that really just leaves us with needing formulas for our items.

Formulas can be acquired through a myriad of methods: an ancient book a player translates, passed down from a mentor, researched over time slowly by a player, et cetera.

In this article, we will provide a few scenarios, formulas, and components required. Plus, we’ll include potential role-playable challenges that may arise while a player crafts this magic item.

Additionally, see our previous article with 10 Examples of Crafted Homebrewed Magic Items, which includes the item type, rarity, tools required, components, and description.

For further in-game synergy, consider playing the Eberron: Rising from the Last War Artificer class, which gets additional tool proficiencies, reduced time and costs for crafting magic items, and great abilities to imbue into items.

See our Formulas for Popular 5e Magic Items article.


Formulas for Crafting Magic Items

Each formula will provide a description of the item, materials required, instructions, and possible tool and skill proficiencies required (optional, up to DM’s discretion). If a player does not meet the tool or skill proficiency, perhaps have them roll a DC 10 to see if they successfully complete the item. On a fail, they may need to spend another workweek and 50 gp to craft the item.


Alchemist’s Arrows (Common)

An Artificer Master, retired from his trade, passes down his method of improving Alchemist’s Fire by embedding it in an arrow.

Glass is blown into the shape of an arrow head, filled with Alchemist’s Fire, and sealed onto an arrow shaft. When the arrow hits, the flask shatters and has the same effect as Alchemist’s Fire. Damage dealt is normal longbow or shortbow damage plus 1d4 fire damage at the start of the target’s turn and each turn until the fire is extinguished.

Materials Required: Embers from a Lesser Fire Elemental, Alchemist’s Oil (from Alchemist’s Tool kit).

Instructions: Using Glassblower’s tools, create an arrow-shaped flask with an opening small enough for an arrow shaft. Mix the Alchemist’s Oil and embers in the flask. Place the arrow shaft and seal.

Tool Proficiencies: Alchemist’s, Glassblowing

Produces 20 arrows.

Material CR Range: 1-3
Cost: 50gp
Workweeks: 1

Roleplay Options:

  • Alchemist’s Fire ignites upon contact with oxygen. Have players figure out a way to pour the mixture into the flask and seal it with the wooden shaft in it without igniting.
  • Additionally, discovering a substance for sealing could be a role play option.
  • Can put other substances in the vials, like poison, for various effects.

Anti-Obscurity Goggles (Uncommon)

goggles homebrew magic item formulas

This formula was written vaguely and messily on a slab of leather, found in a library book about Yeth Hounds.

Steampunk Goggles by Dape is licensed under the CC License.

These shiny lenses allow a player to see clearly through 60 feet of murky weather, fog, snow storm, or clouds.

Materials Required: Two coin-sized Jasmal gemstones (found in small veins of ore in mountain ranges), the leather of a Yeth Hound.

Instructions: The instructions for this formula are not provided to players on purpose to facilitate a roleplaying opportunity. Players will have to discover how to create these goggles with the Jasmal stones as lenses.

Tool Proficiencies: Leatherworker, Tinkerer, or Jeweler

Produces one pair of goggles. Requires Attunement.

Material CR Range: 4-8
Cost: 200gp
Workweeks: 2

Roleplay Options:

  • This is an incomplete formula, so the players may have to find an expert to direct them on how to craft the item.

Clear Mind Elixir (Uncommon)

potion homebrew magic item formulas

In a tomb, runes are arranged on the wall. When activated, the wall opens up and reveals a Wizard’s lair. Two vials of this potion as well as their formula are found in a box.

Art by ArtLanding, CC License

This potion grants a drinker advantage on all Constitution saving throws for maintaining concentration for the next hour.

Materials Required: Two handfuls of Old Toby leaves, aloe extract, a tentacle of a Mind Flayer, and ten vials or flasks.

Instructions: Boil together the Old Toby leaves, aloe, and tentacle for three hours until thick like a salve. Dilute with water blessed by a priest of Deneir. The mixture makes up to ten doses.

Tool Proficiencies: Alchemist’s
Skill Proficiencies: Arcana

Produces 10 vials.

Material CR Range: 4-8
Cost: 200gp
Workweeks: 2

Roleplay Options:

  • An NPC who overhears talk about producing this item approaches the player, offering a shortcut (in materials, better tools, etc) for a price. This can either work or create unexpected effects in the items.

Dagger of Light (Rare)

dagger homebrew magic item formulas

Research notes from a deceased sorcerer are scattered throughout his derelict lair. Your players manage to piece together what seems to be instructions for a rare magical item. After translating from a codex, your players discover this formula.

Art by Etrelley, CC License

Once per day, this blue-tinted reflective dagger shines a light with a radius of 30 feet for ten minutes when commanded as a bonus action. When activated, any creature hit with this dagger suffers an additional 2d4 radiant damage. Once per round, a creature hit must make a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or become blinded until the end of its next turn.

Materials Required: An opal gemstone, a dagger, dust from a Giant Lunar Moth’s wings, one mound of Cavelight Moss, a small flask of Oil of Etherealness.

Instructions: Dry and crush the Cavelight Moss. Combine with Giant Lunar moth’s dust. Fasten opal into the hilt of the dagger. Mix the dust mixture with the oil and place the dagger in a basin. Pour the oil mixture over the dagger and light on fire. Once the oil has burned off and the dagger has cooled, the process is complete. Best results obtained when burned at twilight.

Tool Proficiencies: Jeweler’s

Requires Attunement.

Material CR Range: 9-12
Cost: 2,000gp
Workweeks: 10

Roleplay Options:

  • Have your players translate and piece together the formula using a codex, maybe through a puzzle or some sort of game.

Debility Axe (Uncommon)

A Warlock whispers this formula into the player’s ears, once scribed to him by his patron. An uneasy feeling fills the room.

This black battleaxe has a dull appearance. When a user scores a critical hit with the weapon, the target takes one level of exhaustion. Damage type is magical for the purpose of overcoming resistances.

Materials Required: Two ingots of Mithral, four gems of jet, one vial of blood of a Night Hag.

Instructions: Crush the gems of jet and mix into the molten mithral. Add in the vial of Night Hag blood. Smith into a battleaxe. Must be forged on a foggy night.

Tool Proficiencies: Smithing
Skill Proficiencies: Medicine

Requires Attunement.

Material CR Range: 4-8
Cost: 200gp
Workweeks: 2

Roleplay Options:

  • Proficiency in Medicine will help a player collect the vial of blood.
  • If the player crafting this item has a lawful good deity she is beholden to, the deity may be displeased with the creation of a potentially wicked item.

Fire Arrows (Common)

fire arrow homebrew magic item formulas

Upon saving his forge, a Dwarven blacksmith has taken a liking to your ranged players. She quickly jots down this formula in gratitude, hoping it will be of use.

Art by Tekmile, © 2015 – 2020 Tekmile, used with permission.

A swirling red-orange tip decorates these arrows. As a bonus action, a player can utter the verbal incantation while drawing the bowstring of his nocked arrow. Conjuration magic produces a flame on the tip. Upon hitting, the arrow deals magical fire damage (for overcoming resistances and vulnerabilities), and +1 fire damage. Anything flammable the arrow hits is ignited and takes 1d6 fire damage at the end of each of its turn. The arrow shaft is consumed in its own flame.

Materials Required: A small bag of sulfur, a medium bag of guano from a giant bat, one ingot of Fever Iron from a pool of molten metal in a volcanic crater.

Instructions: Combine sulfur and guano into a wax. Forge the Fever Iron into arrowheads. Apply the wax to the arrowheads and fix upon straight wooden shafts.

Tool Proficiencies: Smithing

Produces 20 arrows.

Material CR Range: 1-3
Cost: 50gp
Workweeks: 1

Roleplay Options:

  • Find a material for the arrow shaft that will not be consumed by fire to create lasting arrows.
  • Need Nature skill proficiency to determine new shaft material.
  • May pick up and rebuild arrowheads for half the cost and time.

Potion of Ape Strength (Uncommon)

strength potion homebrew magic item formulas

Rifling through an Alchemist’s notebook, your player discovers this formula and sneakily pockets the page.

“Potion of Life” by LaPesteAParis, CC License

A blood-thick mixture, this putrid potion, when consumed, adds a Strength modifier boost of 1d4 for 1 hour. Upon consumption, make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw to keep the potion down. On a fail, the potion is wasted.

Materials Required: A vat of ichor from an Ichor Jelly, an entire Giant Ape carcass, dried leaves of an arpusur plant, 10 flasks.

Instructions: Dissolve the Giant Ape in a vat of Ichor Jelly until completely dissolved (about a week). Stir in crushed arpusur leaves. Let sit for a few more days. Mixture should decrease in size to fill about 10 flasks.

Tool Proficiencies: Alchemist’s
Skill Proficiencies: Nature

Produces 10 flasks.

Material CR Range: 4-8
Cost: 200gp
Workweeks: 2

Roleplay Options:

  • Player should find a way to deal with the disgusting smell while brewing.

Reflex Boots (Uncommon)

An Artificer had an idea for these boots after living with Tabaxi for many years. She sells you the formula for a small price.

These simple boots allow a player to land on his feet when falling up to his walking speed. No damage is reduced.

Materials Required: Leather boots, two feathers of a Hippogriff, two Zircon gems equaling 50gp, a handful of dried Voidroot.

Instructions: Embed the Zircon gems onto the heels of the boots. Attach the Hippogriff feathers onto a shoelace eyelet. Boil the dried Voidroot in a cup of water until it becomes thick like a salve. Polish the boots with the Voidroot mixture and let sit for three days until dried.

Tool Proficiencies: Jeweler’s
Skill Proficiencies: Nature

Material CR Range: 1-3
Cost: 50gp
Workweeks: 1

Roleplay Options:

  • In your campaign setting, make one of these ingredients illegal to obtain, or must be obtained through illegal means, like poaching or the black market.

Ring of Improved Healing (Uncommon)

healing ring homebrew magic item formulas

A Druid shares parts of the secret formula for his coveted Ring of Improved Healing. He can’t quite remember the formula, but he remembers he studied with his old master a town over, who can probably help out.

Anytime a player who is attuned to this ring casts a spell that rolls dice to heal a creature, she can roll the dice meant for healing twice and take the better result.

Materials Required: A silver ring, a small Dioptase gemstone, water from a meteorite crater.

Instructions: Fashion the Dioptase onto the silver ring and let it sit in the meteorite crater’s basin of water for exactly one day. Praying to a healing-domain deity may improve the results.

Tool Proficiencies: Jeweler’s

Requires Attunement.

Material CR Range: 4-8
Cost: 200gp
Workweeks: 2

Roleplay Options:


Wand of Fire Shield (Rare)

Your players have done extensive research on how to embed this spell into a wand.

This wand has 1d4 charges per day. If all charges are expended, roll a d20. On a 20, the wand snaps and is unusable. Each charge produces the spell Fire Shield and its effects as written.

Materials Required: A small branch from a Calan tree, a bit of phosphorus, essence of a Fire Elemental.

Instructions: Shape the Calan tree branch into a wand. Dip the tip in phosphorus, then the Fire Elemental essence.

Tool Proficiencies: Woodcarver’s
Skill Proficiencies: Arcana

Requires Attunement.

Material CR Range: 9-12
Cost: 2,000gp
Workweeks: 10

Roleplay Options:

  • Players may have to research what “essence of a Fire Elemental” is, and discover that they don’t necessarily have to kill the elemental, only capture it in a container.

Additional Resources

Creating a formula for your players to discover creates depth in any campaign. Players who spend time developing their items gain a satisfaction that just doesn’t come from finding magic items.

For more resources on developing your own magic item formulas, see our Guide to Crafting Magic Items.

You can also find a compilation of nearly 500 plant and animal components and their special effects in our Artificer’s Field Guide. See our guide to Herbalism for more resources and information.

Here is a list of websites that might have helpful ingredients to inspire you:

2 thoughts on “<b>Formulas for Homebrew Magic Items</b>: D&D 5e”

    1. Glad you like the ideas! I hope they lend well to your campaign. I highly recommend the Anti-obscurity Goggles for Yuan-ti Pureblood PC’s as they are immune to Cloudkill and Stinking Cloud spells, so a Yuan-ti Pureblood could be completely immune to the effects if vision isn’t an issue.

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