Magic Items

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Hey guys,

How common should Magic Items be in 4th ed? 

One of my favourite tricks when running Quest was to throw in an awesome magic item with a real down side when used, just to mess with the player, like a necromancers staff that secretly held the soul of a lich, and when used, if you failed a willpower roll, the lich started to corrupt you, with a total of 7 fails maning the lich had a new servant :P. 

So how many many magic items are usually found in 4th ed? 
Treasure Parcel system, DMG.

Typically, a party of X PCs will find X-1 magic items during a level of adventuring, one of each level from the PCs level+4 to the PCs' level+1, in addition to monetary finds, consumables, ritual components and potions.

I'm not going to comment on your magic item, other than to state that permanent debilitation, injury, mind control or loss of one's character is not part of 4e's philosophy.
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The party for Quest consisted of a Wizard who was both looked upon favourably by Nurgle, and slowly turning into a slave of a Lich, a Greedy Elf who stole everything in sight and was possesed by an ancient chaos warrior, who let loose an ancient chaos general and kept blacking out and waking up elsewhere, a cowardly elven noble who kept threatening to open a portal to the homelands and disappear every time there was combat, a wood elf(nuff said) and a khornate Chaos warrior who had a hound of chaos as a pet  

Pssh, if you use items that you know are both cursed and evil, then suffer the consequences! 

So a party of 4 players at level 1, will find 3 magic items between level 2 and 5? 
Yeah basically. And they also find enough gold to buy one more item of their own level over the course of their level.

Regular items in 4e are pretty common. Holding out on them too much will make things really hard for your players because the monsters get tougher and they'll need the Enhancement bonusses to hit them.

The item you describe (with great power and serious possible drawbacks) would most likely be an Artefact in 4e, not a regular magic item. You can design them yourself but you should probably be careful with them and explain to your players what they do beforehand, not randomly tell them they are now an NPC monster after using the weapon without ever knowing something is up.

Also if you want magic items to be less common and there only to be powerful ones, you could consider using the Inherent Bonusses system which is from DMG II and basically removes the need for magic items without removing the ability to use them out.
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> So a party of 4 players at level 1, will find 3 magic items between level 2 and 5?

It looks like you might have misread the above: they will find 3 magic items at level 1, 3 more at level 2, 3 more at level 3, etc.

In each case, those three items will range from 1 to 4 levels above the party. A 4-person, character-level 1 group will (IIRC) acquire items of 2nd, 4th, and 5th level before reaching character-level 2.
I am nowhere near that harsh to just tell them they are an NPC etc, besides they wouldn't be an NPC, they would be his servant, which leads to much more intersting possibilies(although the wizard in question passed the wil test every time, grumble grumble).  She never found out what the rod actually did, but new it was bad(usually they were all so paranoid they didn't even touch things, after the elf became possessed by touching the armour of the dead chaos warrior, and examined things first). 

A lot of DMs will say to use the Treasure Parcel system, and while this does work, it is ultimately DM perogative. If your players are looking for particulars, for example, but don't have time to flip through books and make a wishlist, it typically behoves the DM to provide the PCs with a way to get access to magic items otherwise, such as a fairly accessable Magic Market, or rituals.

Long story short, do it however it works for you and your players.

Happy Gaming
It depends on the DM.  For example, in my Eberron games, +1 Magical whatevers are pretty much common as dirt.  In fact, after one encounter, they found 5 suits of +1 Magical armor, and 1 +1 Magical Longsword.

However, they already had magical items, so the sold it for 20%.  I then counted what they sold as part of the treasure parcels they should have gained that level.

I also typically give about 150% of the recommended treasure parcel value per level, give or take.  But, on the other hand, I expect my players to have contingency equipment and to buy "fluff" items, and not just what items they want that is required for +hit or defenses. 
Salla, on minions: I typically use them as encounter filler. 'I didn't quite fill out the XP budget, not enough room left for a decent near-level monster ... sprinkle in a few minions'. Kind of like monster styrofoam packing peanuts.
If you use inherent bonuses, you can nearly forget magic weapons/implements, armor, and neck-slot items. They are only interesting for properties and powers, not for bonuses - in other words, just like waist-slot, foot-slot, etc. Granted, there are more good items in each of those slots than in all other slots combined, but at a bare minimum you don't need to bother with the every-five-levels upgrades; that's as many as 15 fewer magic items per character over a 30-level campaign, without even considering any sort of dual- or triple-wielder. And you can, if so inclined, skip magic items entirely. (Be sure to tell the players this before character creation - preferably before the players commit to the game.)
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