To ‘reskin’ a creature or an item is to give it a new appearance in such a way that it changes how it interacts with players more in a stylistic way rather than in a mechanical one. It can be as simple as taking a stat block and giving it a new name and appearance. Sometimes it gets a little more creative with that base stat block to give the players something unexpected.
I’ve often taken a lazy approach to creation of new magic items to fit into a campaign, modified for use by a specific character or to adapt to a specific environment. Here are five quick examples of official magic items from the DMG that we took and applied a simple change that affected its stylistic interaction with the world while keeping the underlying mechanics.
Belt of Elvenkind
Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement)
(Substitution of Belt of Dwarvenkind)
While wearing this belt, you gain the following benefits:
- Your Dexterity score increases by 2, to a maximum of 20.
- You have advantage on Charisma (Persuasion) checks made to interact with dwarves.
- If you aren’t an elf, you gain the following additional benefits while wearing the belt:
- You have advantage on saving throws against charm and magic cannot be used to put you to sleep.
- You have darkvision out to a range of 60 feet.
- You can speak, read, and write Elvish.
Hat of the Junglelands
Wondrous item, uncommon (requires attunement)
(Put to alternative use, change the setting for Boots of the Winterland)
(Reskinned for use in the Tomb of Annihilation setting)
This wide brimmed hat keeps the sun out of your eyes and manages to stay on your head no matter the weather. While you wear it, you gain the following benefits:
- You have resistance to poison damage
- You ignore difficult terrain created by plants
You can tolerate temperatures as high as 95 degrees Fahrenheit without any additional protection. You may ignore penalties due to medium or heavy armor on Constitution saving throws made against dehydration or other environmental effects of a jungle like terrain.
Armor (plate), very rare, (requires attunement)
(Substitute Elemental for Demons with Demon Armor)
(Reskinned for use in the Princes of the Apocalypse)
While wearing this armor, you gain a +1 bonus to AC, and you can understand and speak Primordial. In addition, the armor’s clawed gauntlets turn unarmed strikes with your hands into magic weapons that deal 1d8 damage in your choice of cold, fire, or lightning, with a +1 to attack rolls and damage rolls and a damage die of 1d8.
Curse. Once you don this cursed armor, you can’t doff it unless you are targeted by the remove curse spell or similar magic. While wearing this armor, you have disadvantage on attack rolls against demons and on saving throws against their spells and special abilities.
Mace of Hope
Weapon (mace), rare (requires attunement)
(Substituting a 3rd level casting of the spell Bless for the effect of the 3rd level spell Fear)
(Reskinned for use by a good aligned cleric, fighter, or paladin, used in game as a Mace of Fear used by a fallen paladin that was rededicated to good by the PC as part of a story arc)
This magic weapon has 3 charges. While holding it, you can use your action and expend 1 charge to release a wave of hope. Up to five creatures of your choice may roll a d4 and add it to an attack roll or a saving throw. This effect lasts up to 1 minute.
The mace regains 1d3 expended charges daily at dawn.
Blessed Chain of Righteousness
Weapon enhancement, rare (requires attunement)
(Reskin of Sunblade to be applied any other weapon)
(Used as a way to provide a magic item upgrade for a PC with an inherited weapon from her background)
The chain may be attuned to a weapon of your choice over a long rest. While the weapon is attuned to the chain, it becomes a magic weapon requiring attunement that gives a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls, which now deals radiant damage. When you hit an undead with it, that target takes an extra 1d8 damage. These benefits replace any other benefits or enhancements previously possessed by the weapon.
As a bonus action, you may command the weapon to emit a bright light in a 15 foot radius and dim light for an additional 15 feet. The light is sunlight. While this blade persists, you can use an action to expand or reduce its radius of bright and dim light by 5 feet each, to a maximum of 30 feet each or a minimum of 10 feet each.