In Dominions, mages can forge magic items which can have a massive variety of effects. Similar to casting a ritual, forging an item requires a mage to take an entire turn at a lab, and consumes gems as well as requiring levels in one or two magic paths dependent on the item being forged. The ability to forge more powerful magic items is the primary target of the Construction research line, which otherwise provides many less spells than any of the other research options. Like gems, magic items can be withdrawn and deposited from any lab, and passed between commanders in provinces without a lab.
Not all items are useful in combat: many items have beneficial effects off the battlefield such as boosting research speeds, making other items cheaper to forge, or boosting their holder's magical paths and improving their rituals. Others are simply weapons, to be given to a commander to help them fighting. Careful choices of magical items and equipment are an important part of building an effective thug or supercombatant.
Additionally, similarly to spells (albeit rarer), some nations have national items that cannot be forged by others. Unlike spells, some nations gain a discount on forging certain items.
Some magic items cannot be forged and have to be obtained through other means. A very small number of units, mostly pretenders, start with an unforgeable magic item. As an example of this, Jomon's Ryujin start with a Dragon Pearl. The majority of unforgeable magic items can only be obtained through killing the independents which carry them when they spawn as a random event or at the start of the game.
Most items' effects do not stack if equipped in duplicate. An example of an exception to this is.
A key factor in using magic items is understanding the limitation of the slots a given commander has. Non-commander units may not be given magic items unless they are transformed into commanders usingor . Each unit has a specified number of slots that is inherent to their chassis: for example, an unmounted human generally has two hands, a head, a body, feet, and two miscellaneous slots. Other units have all kinds of variations on this: mounted units usually do not have a foot slot, nonhumanoid units are often unable to wear body armour and may be limited to crowns and laurels in their head slots, and some units may have more than two arms or one head.
Slot availability can be modified by afflictions such as the loss of one or both arms, and by units which have some form of shapeshifting ability. Upon transforming to a form lacking slots which were filled with items, the items are lost.
Equipping magical items can replace equipment which a unit wears by default. For example, a unit with high encumberance due to its armour might have that vastly reduced by equipping some magical alternative, although doing so may actually lower the commander's protection. Similar effects occur with helmets and weapons, although natural weapons will always be present no matter the items given to such a commander.
When a unit with magic items dies in battle, there is a chance for another commander with an open slot to pick up the item. Should this happen, it will be mentioned in the text at the top of the battle report. The chance of picking up your own commanders' items is greater than that of taking your opponents'. Units that do not die in battle, such as through disease or various offensive ritual spells cannot have their items recovered.
Besides having a cost and forging requirement, some items have common traits:
Upon reaching Construction 8, a player may begin to forge artifacts. These are magic items like any other, with two differences: only one of each artifact may exist at any time (though if it is lost and not recovered it can be reforged by any player), and depending on game settings there may be a limit of forging one artifact per turn.
Should multiple players attempt to forge the same artifact on the same turn, it is random which one receieves it. Those who do not get it are not refunded the gems.