Magical items are one of the things that bring the worlds we explore to life. They add some amount of structure, and you, as a character in those worlds, get to learn how much magic plays a part in everyday life.
Let’s be honest though, the most important part of magic items is how cool and powerful they are. We want to be able to launch bolts of lightning from ornate staffs or use cloaks that protect us from the wrath of a dragon’s breath.
Magic items are one of the things that make our characters really feel like we can do anything, so naturally, we want the best ones that we can get our hands on.
Today, we’re going to be talking about legendary magic items. This rarity tier is just short of being the rarest and is the last category to include non-unique items.
Once we move on to artifacts, we’re pretty much exclusively dealing with items that have a direct impact on the story.
Here though, we get to talk about items that you won’t have to destroy or deliver to some deity. Legendary items are yours to keep, and they can often give you so many new abilities that it feels like you’ve picked up a whole new class.
Without any further adieu, let’s jump into the top legendary items in D&D 5e.
Top 9 Legendary Magic Items in 5e
Armor of Invulnerability
Armor (plate), legendary (requires attunement)
You have resistance to nonmagical damage while you wear this armor.
Additionally, you can use an action to make yourself immune to nonmagical damage for 10 minutes or until you are no longer wearing the armor.
Once this special action is used, it can’t be used again until the next dawn.
This armor is a magical item that knows how to mix simplicity and elegance. If you’ve played any Dungeons and Dragons, you know how impressive it is to tack on a damage resistance.
Half damage on all nonmagical damage that you would take is so far beyond excellent that it feels like it could easily be the best item on this list.
Of course, that’s not all. After all, we’re talking about items that are pulled straight from legends here.
Once a day, for a whole 10 minutes, you get to turn that resistance into complete immunity. That’s well over the amount of time any combat is going to take you.
Not every magical item can or needs to have a 10-paragraph explanation on how to use it with charges and different levels allowing you to access specific abilities.
Sometimes, the best items are ones that just do one thing very well. Armor of Invulnerability definitely fits that description as it is a simple piece of sturdy armor that is going to make you almost invincible.
Cloak of Invisibility
Wondrous item, legendary (requires attunement)
While wearing this cloak, you can pull its hood over your head to cause yourself to become invisible. While you are invisible, anything you are carrying or wearing is invisible with you.
You become visible when you cease wearing the hood. Pulling the hood up or down requires an action.
Deduct the time you are invisible in increments of 1 minute from the cloak’s maximum duration of 2 hours.
After 2 hours of use, the cloak ceases to function. For every uninterrupted period of 12 hours that the cloak goes unused, it regains 1 hour of duration.
Invisibility rears its head in spells, racial abilities, features, and so much more. It’s a mechanic in D&D that really doesn’t get old because it has so many uses.
When you’re invisible, you benefit from being an unseen attacker, can sneak around areas with ease, and get to avoid difficult social interactions.
Much like a well-placed Fireball, invisibility is something that can be useful in all three pillars of the rpg experience.
What really makes this item stand out is how often it allows you to go invisible. Normally, this would be tied to spell slots or a certain number of times each day.
Additionally, there tends to be some sort of clause for when invisibility ends, often including dealing or taking damage.
With a Cloak of Invisibility, we get a set number of hours that we can use the cloak each day, and we can do whatever we want without worrying about breaking the enchantment.
Put all this together and this cloak gives you a renewable resource that can be used for almost whatever you can imagine.
Deck of Many Things
Wondrous item, legendary
Usually found in a box or pouch, this deck contains a number of cards made of ivory or vellum. Most (75%) of these decks have only 13 cards, but the rest have 22.
Before you draw a card, you must declare how many cards you intend to draw and then draw them randomly (you can use an altered deck of playing cards to simulate the deck).
Any cards drawn in excess of this number have no effect. Otherwise, as soon as you draw a card from the deck, its magic takes effect.
You must draw each card no more than 1 hour after the previous draw. If you fail to draw the chosen number, the remaining number of cards fly from the deck on their own and take effect all at once.
Once a card is drawn, it fades from existence. Unless the card is the Fool or the Jester, the card reappears in the deck, making it possible to draw the same card twice.
Some examples of card effects are as follows:
- Balance – Your mind suffers a wrenching alteration, causing your alignment to change. Lawful become chaotic, good becomes evil, and vice versa. If you are true neutral or unaligned, this card has no effect on you.
- Euryale – The card’s medusa-like visage curses you. You take a -2 penalty on saving throws while cursed in this way. Only a god or the magic of The Fates card can end this curse.
- Moon – You are granted the ability to cast the Wish spell 1d3 times.
- Sun – You gain 50,000 XP, and a wondrous item (which the DM determines randomly) appears in your hands.
- Skull – You summon an avatar of death, a ghostly humanoid skeleton clad in a tattered black robe and carrying a spectral scythe. It appears in a space of the DM’s choice within 10 feet of you and attacks you, warning all others that you must win the battle alone. The avatar fights until you die or it drops to 0 hit points, whereupon it disappears. If anyone tries to help you, the helper summons its own avatar of death. A creature slain by an avatar of death can’t be restored to life.
The Deck of Many Things is one of the most iconic items in D&D. It is a very powerful magic item, but more than that, it is a very random item.
In many ways, this deck represents the very core of what it is to sit down at a table and play an rpg with your friends.
In a game that is commonly connected with the imagery of a 20-sided dice, random results are naturally a staple.
We love getting the chance to roll on a wild magic table or the experience of rolling up a new, completely random character. There’s something about it that draws most players in.
This item has effects ranging from terrific to terrifying, and it all comes down to the luck of the draw, literally.
What’s more, if you come across one of these decks, you often aren’t forced to pull a card from it. It’s up to you whether or not you want to roll the dice.
All of this is more than enough to secure the Deck a place on this list, but there’s more that this has to offer. That is, there’s more that you have to offer.
Today, 5e may be full of constant new releases and sourcebooks, but that doesn’t mean the heart of this game has changed.
D&D is still an experience of collaborative storytelling and of imaginative players and creative DMs working together to build worlds. Again, the Deck of Many Things has become a symbol of this creative force.
If you google the Deck, you’ll find videos, campaigns, printed decks, generators, and hundreds of different people’s ideas on fun effects for a card to have.
This Deck is more than just a magical item, it’s an icon that the community has latched onto. It’s a symbol that you can add to.
Weapon (any sword), legendary (requires attunement by a paladin)
You gain a +3 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon. When you hit a fiend or an undead with it, that creature takes an extra 2d10 radiant damage.
While you hold the drawn sword, it creates an aura in a 10-foot radius around you. You and all creatures friendly to you in the aura have advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
If you have 17 or more levels in the paladin class, the radius of the aura increases to 30 feet.
One of the best parts of magic items is the ability to become attached to one.
I’m not just talking about the fact that you have to attune yourself to most of these; I’m talking about the emotional attachment you get to an item as you continue to slay monsters with it.
Holy Avengers are definitely an excellent representation of this principle. Any item that is designed for a specific class is, by definition, going to feel like it was made especially for you.
Paladins are in for a treat with this incredibly powerful weapon that reflects the abilities they’ve come to know and love as they’ve become one with their character.
A versatile weapon that deals incredible amounts of damage while also providing benefits to your allies might as well just be another paladin standing on the battlefield.
Instead though, you get to wield this and become the holy avenger yourself. Enjoy smiting all the demons and zombies that you can.
Weapon (longsword), legendary (requires attunement by an elf or half-elf of neutral good alignment)
Of all the magic items created by the elves, one of the most prized and jealously guarded is a moonblade. In ancient times, nearly all elven noble houses claimed one such blade.
Over the centuries, some blades have faded from the world, their magic lost as family lines have become extinct. Other blades have vanished with their bearers during great quests. Thus, only a few of these weapons remain.
A moonblade passes down from parent to child. The sword chooses its bearer and remains bonded to that person for life. If the bearer dies, another heir can claim the blade.
If no worthy heir exists, the sword lies dormant. It functions like a normal longsword until a worthy soul finds it and lays claim to its power.
A moonblade serves only one master at a time. The attunement process requires a special ritual in the throne room of an elven regent or in a temple dedicated to the elven gods.
A moonblade won’t serve anyone it regards as craven, erratic, corrupt, or at odds with preserving and protecting elvenkind.
If the blade rejects you, you make ability checks, attack rolls, and saving throws with disadvantage for 24 hours.
If the blade accepts you, you become attuned to it, and a new rune appears on the blade. You remain attuned to the weapon until you die or the weapon is destroyed.
A moonblade has one rune on its blade for each master it has served (typically 1d6 + 1). The first rune always grants a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon.
Each rune beyond the first grants the moonblade an additional property. The DM chooses each property or determines it randomly on the Moonblade Properties table.
Now, I’ve left out all of the possible properties in the description above, but trust me, that’s by design. While this is definitely a powerful magical item, it’s also so much more than that, and that’s really what I want to highlight first.
Legendary items should feel like the stuff of legends, not just some cool piece of equipment that was enchanted by Joe Schmoe the wandering wizard.
These are the items that you go on entire quests just to find or the items that require you to find yourself before you can truly use them.
To me, they’re the kinds of things that a character’s entire arch could be hinged on (whereas an artifact might drive an entire campaign).
A moonblade really brings such a story with it. This is a weapon that was passed down for generations. And we’re not just talking about human generations – we’re talking about the lifetimes of several elves.
Imagine the battles this blade has seen, the quests it has been on, the heroic deeds it was used to achieve.
Now, after all of that time, it has found you worthy to wield it and to enjoy the many magical benefits it holds. It’s the kind of thing that you’ll remember for years to come.
Of course, all of this wouldn’t mean much if this was just a plain old longsword. There are many benefits that this blade can carry. So many in fact, that you roll a d100 to determine which benefits you have.
One of the possible effects is that it gains the abilities of a vorpal sword, another item that’s made it onto this list.
Moonblades are such a marvelous item that I would suggest everyone play an elf at least once in their lives so they get a chance to wield one.
Robe of the Archmagi
Wondrous item, legendary (requires attunement by a sorcerer, warlock, or wizard)
This elegant garment is made from exquisite cloth of white, gray, or black and adorned with silvery runes. The robe’s color corresponds to the alignment for which the item was created.
A white robe was made for good, gray for neutral, and black for evil. You can’t attune to a robe of the archmagi that doesn’t correspond to your alignment.
You gain these benefits while wearing the robe:
- If you aren’t wearing armor, your base Armor Class is 15 + your Dexterity modifier.
- You have advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
- Your spell-save DC and spell-attack bonus each increase by 2.
The robe of the archmagi, along with the staff of the magi, is something that all spellcasters strive to obtain. They basically give you all the boosts that you need to become unstoppable in combat, and that’s what we like to see.
More than that though, this is an item that carries a title with it.
Now, there isn’t as much lore attached to this robe as there is to, say, the moonblade, but that’s far from a bad thing. Rather, we have an item that is clearly powerful and that refers to some sort of “archmagi.”
We know that an archmagi is a powerful spellcaster, often one that is some sort of leader, and that’s pretty much all we need to run with to make our own story attached to this item.
A robe of the archmagi might be an ancient relic like Doctor Strange’s cloak of levitation, or it might be something bestowed upon you when you take on a prolific title.
Does this robe make you the leader of some warlock faction, a school of wizards? Perhaps it is a physical symbol that you are the fulfiller of some sorcerous prophecy.
The story attached to this robe is totally up to you and your DM, but it’s definitely going to be one that proves your worth as a powerful mage.
Staff of the Magi
Staff, legendary (requires attunement by a sorcerer, warlock, or wizard)
This staff can be wielded as a magic quarterstaff that grants a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with it. While holding it, you gain a +2 bonus to spell-attack rolls.
The staff has 50 charges for the following properties. The staff regains 4d6 + 2 expended charges daily at dawn. If you expend the last charge, roll a d20. On a 20, the staff regains 1d12 + 1 charges.
Spell Absorption – While holding the staff, you have advantage on saving throws against spells. In addition, you can use your reaction when another creature casts a spell that targets only you.
If you do, the staff absorbs the magic of the spell, canceling its effect and gaining a number of charges equal to the absorbed spell’s level.
However, if doing so brings the staff’s total number of charges above 50, the staff explodes as if you activated its retributive strike (see below).
Spells – While holding this staff, you can use an action to expend some of its charges to cast one of the following spells from it, using your spell-save DC and spell-attack bonus:
- Conjure Elemental (7 charges)
- Dispel Magic (3 charges)
- Fireball (7th-level version, 7 charges)
- Flaming Sphere (2 charges)
- Ice Storm (4 charges)
- Invisibility (2 charges)
- Knock (2 charges)
- Lightning Bolt (7th-level version, 7 charges)
- Passwall (5 charges)
- Plane Shift (7 charges)
- Telekinesis (5 charges)
- Wall of Fire (4 charges)
- Web (2 charges)
You can also use an action to cast one of the following spells from the staff without using any charges:
- Arcane Lock
- Detect Magic
- Mage Hand
- Protection from Evil and Good
Retributive Strike – You can use an action to break the staff over your knee or against a solid surface, performing a retributive strike. The staff is destroyed and releases its remaining magic in an explosion that expands to fill a 30-foot-radius sphere centered on it.
You have a 50% chance to teleport to a random plane, avoiding the explosion. Otherwise, you take force damage equal to 16 x the number of charges in the staff.
Every other creature in the area must make a DC 17 Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, a creature takes an amount of damage shown in the following table. On a successful save, a creature takes half as much damage.
This staff is arguably the most powerful non-artifact in all of 5e.
Typically, items give us an ability or two that boost our normal capabilities a bit beyond what we’d normally be able to do.
This item, however, is basically like gaining 10 levels in your class along with one of the most powerful abilities in the game.
Any staff, rod, wand, or item of any variety that lets you cast spells is automatically powerful on the basis that it saves you spell slots.
In a game where conserving your resources is everything, not having to worry about these resources is absolutely incredible.
This item has the best set of spells to cast with a whole lot of charges to cast it with. Beyond that though, a staff of the magi recharges itself while also protecting you.
Much like the slightly less powerful Rod of Absorption, this item keeps you safe from spells that target you and only you, which are often the most punishing spells.
I mean, in the right campaigns you very well may never have to use your own spell slots once you have this staff.
If all of this wasn’t enough, don’t forget the fact that this item also holds the two best abilities from the Robe of the Archmagi.
Fortunately, if you wear both, the +2 bonuses to your spell-save DC and spell-attack bonus stack. The overlap that won’t be doubly beneficial is advantage on saving throws against spells.
Still, this item used in conjunction with the robe makes you the most powerful spellcaster in your campaign, while this item on its own comfortably gets you close to that position.
Wondrous item, legendary (requires attunement)
A Stormgirdle is a wide belt made of thick leather branded with the symbol of Kord. The girdle’s clasps are made from dragon ivory.
Dormant – While wearing the Stormgirdle in its dormant state, you have resistance to lightning damage and thunder damage, and your Strength score becomes 21 if it isn’t already 21 or higher.
In addition, you can use an action to become a Storm Avatar for 1 minute, gaining the following benefits for the duration:
- You have immunity to lightning damage and thunder damage.
- When you hit with a weapon attack that normally deals bludgeoning damage, it deals thunder damage instead. When you hit with a weapon attack that normally deals piercing or slashing damage, it deals lightning damage instead.
- As a bonus action, you can choose one creature you can see within 30 feet of you to be struck by lightning. The target must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw, taking 3d6 lightning damage on a failed save or half as much damage on a successful one.
Once you use the girdle’s Storm Avatar property, that property can’t be used again until the next dawn.
Awakened – While wearing the Stormgirdle in its awakened state, you gain the following benefits:
- Your Strength score becomes 23 if it isn’t already 23 or higher.
- Your Storm Avatar’s lightning strike deals 4d6 lightning damage (instead of 3d6).
- While transformed into a Storm Avatar, you gain a flying speed of 30 feet and can hover.
Exalted – While wearing the Stormgirdle in its exalted state, you gain the following benefits:
- Your Strength score becomes 25 if it isn’t already 25 or higher.
- Your Storm Avatar’s lightning strike deals 5d6 lightning damage (instead of 3d6).
- You can cast the Control Weather spell from the girdle. This property can’t be used again until the next dawn.
There are several items in 5e that follow this sort of evolutionary path. The transition from dormant, to awakened, to exalted allows you to experience variety within the constraints of a single item.
More than just a legendary piece of equipment, this is like a living piece of you; it grows with you.
How your DM handles awakenable items is up to them, although there are some rules explained in chapter six of Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount.
Typically, an item is dormant until 9th level, awakened from 9 to 15, and exalted from 16 to 20, which loosely aligns itself with the tiers of play (lumping the first two tiers into one).
Of course, these items are also an excellent way to give players those classic “anime moments.”
If a character does something incredible or is in a critical situation and needs just a little bit more power to overcome their situation, their item might respond and “evolve,” so to speak.
This item is incredibly powerful, as a legendary item should be, but it also highlights a bit of roleplaying that isn’t explicitly present in the mechanics of 5e.
Characters don’t often level up in the midst of a fight or gain new abilities when overcoming a huge obstacle.
This item presents DMs with a very tangible way to do this and hopefully inspires them to find other creative ways for their players to have exciting moments of gameplay.
Weapon (any sword that deals slashing damage), legendary (requires attunement)
You gain a +3 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon. In addition, the weapon ignores resistance to slashing damage.
When you attack a creature that has at least one head with this weapon and roll a 20 on the attack roll, you cut off one of the creature’s heads. The creature dies if it can’t survive without the lost head.
A creature is immune to this effect if it is immune to slashing damage, it doesn’t have or need a head, it has legendary actions, or the DM decides that the creature is too big for its head to be cut off with this weapon.
Such a creature instead takes an extra 6d8 slashing damage from the hit.
The last item on our list is one with clear origins in our world, well, at least in another work of fiction.
The vorpal sword is famously from Lewis Carroll’s poem “Jabberwocky” and has made it into pop culture through movies inspired by his particular brand of madness.
Gygax and his compatriots pulled inspiration from many sources to build their worlds. Myths, be they ancient or modern, are what set the groundwork for the creatures, powers, and adventures that we get to partake in.
From Tolkienian creatures to the gods of Greek and Norse pantheons, there is a lot to draw on when we get to world building.
A sword that is extra good at slashing the heads off of creatures is an amazing piece of equipment to have. More than that though, this is an item that reminds us we can always look to the things we love for encouragement.
The items above are all items that are only in the legendary category. However, there are some amazing items out there that are a bit less unique.
I would feel like I was doing you an injustice if I made a list of incredible legendary items without including some items with varied rarity.
By their very nature, the legendary version of items, such as a Dragon’s Wrath Weapon or a Belt of Giant Strength, are going to be the most powerful options of their kind.
Some of these are straightforward, like +3 armor being the best armor you can get your hands on, while others, such as a legendary Ioun Stone, might be a bit more dependent on what kind of build you have.
I’ll go a bit less in depth on these, but trust me, if you come across one of these items, you should be sure to add it to your repertoire as soon as possible.
Dragon’s Wrath Weapon
Each rarity adds a new ability or improves on an earlier ability of this weapon.
The legendary “ascendant” version of this weapon holds all of the effects including: an AOE effect on critical hits, +3 bonus to attack and damage rolls, additional damage of the dragon’s type on a hit, and an impressive cone of energy akin to a dragon’s breath weapon.
Belt of Giant Strength
There are actually two versions of this belt that are of legendary rarity. The Cloud Giant belt gives you a strength score of 27 while wearing it, while the Storm Giant belt gives you a strength score of 29.
Even the lower rarities give you an incredible strength score, but these two are absolutely game changing.
There are a few legendary Ioun Stones. Perhaps the best is the Ioun Stone of Regeneration, which allows you to regain 15 hit points at the end of each hour so long as you have at least 1 hit point remaining.
The Stone of Greater Absorption is also impressive, although it does have a limited use. It can absorb and cancel the effects of spells of up to 8th level, but it can only be used to absorb 50 total levels worth of spells.
Everyone loves getting their hands on some impressive magical items, and legendary items are arguably the most incredible out there.
While artifacts can easily surpass these in power, their use as important story elements makes it difficult to incorporate them as a part of your character.
Legendary items can easily become a symbol of your character, and can quickly become the sort of thing that you’ll remember from years to come. I only hope that you get your hands on one of these weapons in your next campaign.
As always, happy adventuring.