I have been gallivanting around Iceland for the past week or so and being surrounded by reminders of elves, known locally as the hidden people, trolls and giants is quite good for gaming inspiration.
Ironically possibly the best bit of inspiration that came to me was nothing to do with the fantasy rich local culture but from my mobile phone.
We all recognise that magic items are not just about +15 weapons, daily spell items and multipliers. It is the more colourful items that can give a campaign its flavour.
I installed a Aurora Borealis forecasting app on my phone as soon as I arrived and it was pretty good and we did indeed see the lights display when forecast. When you see the northern lights it begs the question of what on earth must the first people to see it have thought. No wonder so many cultures have myths and legends of magic. Without our scientific understanding of ionisation and solar winds magic would probably be the next most logical rationalisation.
So if these displays of lights are created by magic then surely you could either tap into that source of essence or read from them some heavenly enlightenment or foreknowledge. Knowing when they were going to appear and where would be really useful and I am sure many a seer or astrologer would want a magical device that could predict the northern lights. A sort of ‘orb of the heavens’ sort of thing.
So this set off a train of thought. In our culture ‘there’s an app for that’ is a bit of a joke but what if for every app there was a magical item?
Looking in the itunes store at the most popular apps I see that a QR reader is one of the most popular apps. I can easily see that materialising as a crystal of attunement (runes).
Spirit level apps seem popular and in magical terms imagine an item that combined the low level spells of mannish scale and the lay healer diagnosis spells that could tell you so much about the target. What form it would take is open to interpretation. I am personally envisioning a set of lenses and crystals through which the user peers.
There are countless musical instrument tuning apps and they would make great magical items that any bard would love.
Voice changer apps can be reimagined as Sound Mirage based items.
The more I look at the range of apps available the more I possibilities I can see and for the most part based upon first through third level spells. Not that everything has to be tied directly to a spell in spell law but items that are simply useful whilst not being exceptionally powerful are easier for the alchemists of the world to create and are more likely to be created if they do not cost the earth or take forever.
I think the take away from this is that if you are looking for ideas to perk up a treasure horde or to make an NPC a bit more interesting then you can get some interesting ideas from either itunes or Googles app store.