Archive for February, 2023

(3.5/PF1) Rings, Bling, and Other Things

February 4, 2023

Insofar as the d20 System goes, magic rings are perhaps one of the most obtrusive aspects of the game’s restrictions on how many magic items a PC can use.

That’s because it’s an area where the “body slot” system stops being intuitive. We don’t question the idea that a character can only wear one pair of boots, for example, nor that they can only have on one hat at a time. But rings? Most PCs have ten fingers, not to mention ten toes, two ears, a nose, etc. So why just two rings, beyond the idea of one for each hand (or less than that, if you’re playing a four-armed race)?

Part of it is a legacy restriction. In both 1st and 2nd Edition AD&D, PCs could only use two magic rings, and they had to not only be worn on the hands, but on opposite hands. Another part is that the restriction dovetails with the formalized limits that the body slot system imposes in exchange for the game rules making magic items easier for PCs to buy or make for themselves. And of course, being limited to only two rings makes it easier to record them on your character sheet.

Even so, it’s worth reviewing what the d20 System game rules actually say in this regard, to make sure that we’re assuming is in fact the case. So let’s perform a quick overview.

In the Magic Items On the Body section of the 3.5 SRD specifically says:

One ring on each hand (or two rings on one hand)

That parenthetical note is already more permissive than what the AD&D rules allowed for! Likewise, the section on Magic Rings specifically calls out what happens if you try to put on more than this:

A character can only effectively wear two magic rings. A third magic ring doesn’t work if the wearer is already wearing two magic rings.

Interestingly, while the Pathfinder 1E SRD maintains the word-for-word restriction about a third ring not working, its section on Magic Items on the Body is much more permissive than in 3.5:

Ring (up to two): rings.

This seems to indicate that you don’t need to wear magic rings on your fingers in Pathfinder 1E. However, contrast this with the first sentence under the Using Items section of the PF1 SRD:

To use a magic item, it must be activated, although sometimes activation simply means putting a ring on your finger.

Given that this seems like an example (“although sometimes”), you could argue that it’s not making a declarative statement that magic rings need to be worn on your fingers in Pathfinder. Clearly, that particular caveat being lifted from 3.5 and earlier versions of the game will need a GM ruling at each table, but it’s interesting to consider that Pathfinder is less restrictive in that regard.

Still, it keeps the single largest limitation, which has been there since the beginning: that a character use no more than two magic rings at a time.

Of course, as is typical of the d20 System, there are ways around even the most ironclad of restrictions.

For 3.5, the Extra Rings feat in the Eberron Campaign Setting allowed you to wear up to four magic rings at a time (specifying two on each hand). The hand of glory essentially lets you use your neck slot to wear another ring, along with using two minor spells once per day each, and a ten-ring sword is much the same. The meridian belt lets you wear four rings at once, but still only lets you benefit from two at a time, switching between which two are active as a swift action each round (notice that this Pathfinder item also includes the presumption that rings can normally only be worn on your hands). If you’re an epic-level 3.5 character, the Additional Magic Item Space feat will let you wear another ring, and can be taken multiple times.

Of course, there are other ways to gain the effect of multiple rings at once. For instance, you can take advantage of the rules for Adding New Abilities to an existing item to imbue a single ring with the power of multiple rings (the SRD even uses two magic rings as examples). Since rings normally take up a body slot, this means that all of the powers such a ring has (except the single most expensive) have a x1.5 multiplier to their base cost, so this can get expensive in a hurry (though the Magic Item Compendium has a list of “common item effects” which don’t have their costs increased when added to a body slot-using item in this way; Pathfinder technically doesn’t use this rule, though it’s worth considering as a house rule).

But if you’d prefer to actually wear multiple rings, instead of creating a single ring with multiple abilities, there’s one other alternative:

Double the ring’s price to remove its body slot limitation.

In both 3.5 and Pathfinder, the table for Estimating Magic Item Gold Piece Values notes that an item which normally takes up a body slot costs double the GP value if that limitation is removed. Presuming that you can treat this as an improvement that can be made after the item has been created (which seems entirely reasonable), this means that you can upgrade any magic ring to remove its body slot dependency…and so can wear as many as you want (and, for that matter, such a ring can be worn anywhere on your body).

This opens up a lot of possibilities, especially for magic rings whose base price is relatively cheap. An “unslotted” ring of feather falling, for instance, costs only 4,400 gp. In some cases, this is price is comparable to simply imbuing a “slotted” ring with another ring’s powers.

For example, the wizard Morios currently has three magic rings in his possession: a ring of invisibility (20,000 gp), a ring of mind shielding (8,000 gp), and a ring of feather falling (2,200 gp). He can’t use three rings at once, so he decides to sell the ring of feather falling, netting 1,100 gp for it as per the rule that magic items sell for one-half their market price. Not wanting to lose the effect even though the ring is gone, he then decides to add the functionality of a ring of feather falling to his ring of mind shielding.

Since the ring of feather falling is the less-expensive item, adding its power to his ring of mind shielding entails a x1.5 cost multiplier to the former’s price; since Morios doesn’t have the Forge Ring feat, he has to get someone else to do it, and so needs to pay 3,300 gp. Since he earned 1,100 gp from selling the ring of feather falling, adding that power to his ring of mind shielding has a net out-of-pocket cost of 2,200 gp…exactly what he would have paid if he’d wanted to make his ring of feather falling slotless by doubling its base price.

Presuming you have the money to spend, there’s no reason you can’t pay to “unslot” enough magic rings to the point where you can wear ten at once!

An interesting tangent from this is that magic items whose standard presentation presumes that they have no body slot – notwithstanding those that are held (e.g. magic weapons and shields, rod, staves, and wands) or are consumable (e.g. potions and scrolls) – can presumably have slotted versions created; these would have half the market price of the original (just don’t try this with magic armor; no GM would let you wear two suits of full plate!). Note that such an item needs to be made this way during its creation; the rules for improving magic items don’t let you introduce flaws or limitations that lower the cost of a completed item.

For instance, consider the following:


An ajna is an ioun stone which magically adheres to the user’s forehead rather than orbiting them. While worn, an ajna takes up a slot as per a headband. Attaching or removing an ajna is a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity. Removing an ajna from an unwilling character is the same as stealing an item in combat (they’re considered to be “fastened” to a character due to the adhering magic). Ajnas are otherwise the same as ioun stones, having AC 24, 10 hit points, and hardness 5, with a market price equal to one-half an ioun stone of the same type. An ajna may be cracked or flawed, but cannot be used in conjunction with a wayfinder.

An example ajna is presented below, formatted for Pathfinder:

Ajna, Dark Blue Rhomboid

Aura strong varied; CL 12th; Slot headband; Price 5,000 gp; Weight ––


This stone grants the wearer the effects of the Alertness feat.

Cracked: This stone grants a +1 competence bonus on Perception and Sense Motive checks. Price: 200 gp.

Flawed: This stone grants a +2 competence bonus on Perception checks and a –1 penalty to initiative checks. Price: 150 gp.


Feats Craft Wondrous Item; Special creator must be 12th level; Cost 2,500 gp.