Z's Variant Attunement (5e Variant Rule)

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Author: Zhenra-Khal (talk)
Date Created: 7-25-2022
Status: Complete
Editing: Don't edit without discussion. Unauthorized edits will be reverted.
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Z's Variant Attunement[edit]

I don't like the existing attunement rules. This is my take on it. Use it, or don't, it's here anyway.

Existing Attunement Rules - Recap[edit]

You have three attunement slots. If you're an Artificer, this increases to 4 at 10th level, 5 at 14th level, and 6 at 18th level.

Attuning to an item is part of a Short Rest. Flavor-wise, idk what you actually do to attune to the item, other than waving it around, poking it, yelling at it, or cuddling it. Doesn't make much sense to me.

Ending your attunement to an item can be accomplished in several ways:

  • If you're more than 100ft away from the item for 24hrs;
  • If you die;
  • If someone else attunes to the item;
  • By spending another Short Rest yelling at the item to fuck off or giving it the cold shoulder until it relents. This doesn't work if the item is cursed.

Additionally, a commoner can attune to a Legendary magic item or an Artifact, if they can get their hands on one. But we hear all the time of items so powerful that they destroy anyone that tries to use them without being strong enough, or items that will straight up refuse to be useful for someone who isn't qualified.

Finally, attuning to the item tells you how to use the item's abilities, but not what they are - You have to spend a separate Short Rest, either before or after attuning to it, in order to learn what the item does.

This is all pretty silly. So here's what I do.

Item Identification[edit]

Learning what an item does or how to make it do that thing requires a spell such as Identify or Legend Lore, or trial and error. You cannot take a siesta on a magic sword to figure out it can shoot fire, but you can say the command word written on the side and hope for the best.

Attunement Slots[edit]

You have a number of Attunement slots equal to your Proficiency Bonus.

Artificers gain bonus slots at 10th, 14th and 18th levels as usual, but don't panic - Having 9 attunement slots isn't that scary when you keep reading.

Attunement Cost[edit]

Magic items can now cost more than one Attunement Slot in order to actually attune to it, based on the item's rarity; This only applies to items that require attunement, not to other magic items of the same rarity. Artifacts can still be attuned to by anyone; Artifacts are enough of a headache to wield that anyone that uses them at level 1 is welcome to suffer, in my opinion.

The generalized costs are as follows:

Table: Attunement Costs

Item Rarity # of Slots
Common 1
Uncommon 2
Rare 3
Very Rare 4
Legendary 5

This allows you to do two things:

  • Limit Items By Level: This is a non-artificial way to limit what magic items a character can attune to. So yeah, they can go after that really powerful sword in the dragon's hoard, but are they strong enough to actually use it?
  • Encourage Intelligent Item Selection: Sometimes it's better to attune to lots of little items for utility than to attune to one big item for power, and vice versa; And normally, a character is gonna wanna have all three of their attunement slots full of the strongest gear they can get, since that's what works best mechanically. This variant forces players to make an informed choice on what items they collect and employ, as the more powerful items make it harder to attune to weaker ones by taking up more attunement space.

Attuning To An Item[edit]

Attuning with this variant rule is an action while touching the magic item in question, done by speaking its name, saying a command word, activating one of its abilities, or etc. In other words, all you need to do is perform an action that causes the item to connect with you, bonding to you closely.

Ending Attunement[edit]

Magic items are designed to connect to a wielder in order to function. When a user opens up and invites them to connect, they respond instantly - Forming the necessary, tight bond with the user that is required to access its power, using the wielder as a sort of power source.

But when it comes to breaking that connection, an item is not as willing to do so - It wasn't designed to disconnect. So, your attunement to an item ends under the following conditions:

  • If you die;
  • If you perform a 1-hour ritual on the item, costing materials worth a number of GP equal to the item's Attunement Cost;
  • If Remove Curse is cast on the object, you must make a Charisma saving throw against the caster's spell save DC or against the item's Attunement Maintenance Save DC (Shown below), whichever is higher. On a failed saving throw, your attunement to that item ends;
  • If you are more than 100ft away from the item for 24hrs or more, you can make a Charisma saving throw at the end of every 24hrs in order to maintain your attunement to it; On a failure, your attunement ends. You can choose to willingly fail this saving throw. The DC is set by the item's rarity:

Table: Attunement Maintenance

Item Rarity Charisma
Save DC
Common 13
Uncommon 15
Rare 17
Very Rare 19
Legendary 21
Unique/Artifact 23

Artificer Feature - Magic Item Adept[edit]

When an Artificer gains the Magic Item Adept feature at 10th level, whenever they must make an Attunement Maintenance Save, they may add double their proficiency bonus to the saving throw, even if they are not normally proficient with Charisma saving throws.

Attunement Restrictions[edit]

Attuning to a magic item cannot be done in certain circumstances. These are as follows: You cannot attune to an item if:

  • You have attuned to that item within the last 24hrs;
  • If another creature is currently attuned to that item.

Additionally, if you do not currently possess enough empty Attunement Slots to fulfill the item's Attunement Cost, and you do so anyway, you begin to suffer the accompanying Attunement Backlash as long as you remain attuned to that item and your available attunement slots remain insufficient.

Attunement Backlash[edit]

When the total Attunement Cost of your currently attuned items exceeds your total number of available Attunement Slots, you suffer Attunement Backlash - Immediately upon exceeding your number of available Attunement Slots, you must make a Charisma saving throw against the highest-rarity item's Attunement Maintenance Save DC; On a failed saving throw, you suffer one level of Exhaustion. This Exhaustion bypasses immunity to Exhaustion, as the magic items' combined needs drain the wielder until they crumble into dust.

You then must repeat this process as long as you continue to suffer Attunement Backlash due to insufficient slots. The frequency at which you must make this saving throw relates directly to your attunement slot deficit, regardless of how many items are causing the deficit. For example, if you only have two attunement slots and you attune to an item that requires 1 slot and to an item that requires 4 slots, your deficit is -3, forcing you to make the saving throw every 12hrs while you remain attuned to the items.

If you end your attunement to items that are causing Attunement Backlash, your Attunement Backlash ends.

Whenever you make an Attunement Backlash saving throw, it is always at the end of your turn.

Table: Attunement Backlash

Slot Deficit Save Frequency
-1/-2 Every 24hrs.
-3/-4 Every 12hrs.
-5/-6 Every 6hrs.
-7 or greater Every hour.

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AuthorZhenra-Khal +
Identifier5e Variant Rule +
RatingUndiscussed +
SummaryMy way of doing attunement. +
TitleZ's Variant Attunement +