D&D 5e Attunement: But Wait, There's More!

So Peter D (Dungeon Fantastic) had a thoughtful post on attunement. I read it and then reconsidered my thinking on attunement in my own Montporte Dungeon campaign, which we switched to D&D 5e five sessions ago. I read Peter D's post and thought, "Hmmm. Maybe I shouldn't ditch this rule" (see my earlier post about attunement).

So here is what I am thinking...and mind you, this could change by time we play on Monday night (or it could change by time I am writing the post)

Provisions of House Rule
All magic items require attunement. The two general exceptions are alchemy items (potions, powders, oils, bubble bath, body lotion, etc) and scrolls. Many gnome devices, clockwork or otherwise, do not require attunement. The finder's lens (purchased by the player characters in Session 9, it is actually an alchemy item) does not require attunement, nor does the transportation vehicle control amulet (found in Session 41, attunement is instant and automatic). However, the Chalice of Doluth (creates healing potions) does require attunement.

There is no limit to the number of items to which a character can be attuned.

Some items, particularly intelligent items, may have the power to unattune (detune?) other items in the character's possession (cue evil DM laugh). This would suck, but it makes it interesting for the DM. This is what matters to me.

Some items may only be attuned by a particular class or race. Or there may be limitations placed on its use when a particular class is using it.

Attunement to one item can be done during one short or one long rest. A few items may be created with the feature that it instantly attunes on contact or another condition.

Most items require a dice roll for attunement. The Difficulty Class for low power common items is 10 (easy). Characters add their Charisma modifier, plus their proficiency bonus, to the die roll. If the die roll succeeds, the character is attuned to the item. If the die roll fails, then the attunement fails...and, more importantly, the character can never attune to that item (short of a wish spell, divine intervention or DM whim).

Limitations on Magic Item Use
We will follow the AD&D 1e rules regarding limitations on number of items used at any one time: 2 rings, 1 set of armor, 1 magic cloak, 1 pair of boots, 1 pair of gloves, etc. This is not part of the attunement rule per se, but it is related to it as it applies to magic item use (thanks to Peter D for the reminder on this set of AD&D 1e guidelines).

Implementation of House Rule
We will assume that the player characters have successfully attuned to all of the items that they currently possess.

We won't worry about the current bags of holding and portable holes for now. I don't want to waste precious game session time on figuring this out. We will just hand wave it for now.

I can think of two items, the Chalice of Doluth and the Lens of Melnar, that we need to identify an owner for attunement.


  1. We have bags of holding and portable holes in the same party? Yikes. Recipe for disaster, that.

    1. They have been kept very separate.

    2. Really? I've been carrying mine stacked one within the other like nesting dolls.

      Heh, heh, just kidding.

  2. "it makes it for interesting for the DM. This is what matters to me." So selfish. It always has to be about you, doesn't it? :)

    Seriously, though, I'm fine with attunement. If I'm getting this right, the new rule basically means the following (for items requiring attunement):

    1) We're automatically attuned to individual items we had already;
    2) New items we may or may not be able to attune to;
    3) New items we attune to may discombobulate other items we were previously attuned to;
    4) We can't just pass around magic items to each other -- an item essentially bonds to a particular character, and you'd have to unattune/reattune to let another character use the item.

    Is that about right?

    1. Yup. You have it about right.

      #3 on your list would be quite rare, but it could happen. It would be based on the nature of the items involved.

  3. I think a character, in an emergency, grabs an item to which they are not attuned and tries to use it, they can do an "instant" attunement, which is rolled at disadvantage. The DC remains 10 if the item is not attuned to someone but it is 13 if the item is attuned to another character/creature.

  4. Attunement is based on the nature of the elements and magical energies in the universe of Montporte.