This system is for D&D/Pathfinder. It’s an extension of the idea from Trailblazer to remove item crafting from the game and go back to all items being found items, as well as its idea of letting items level with the characters. It’s ideal for low-magic games, as many of the non-flashy effects of magic items can be described with minimal, subtle, or completely nonexistent magic.

The Shield and the Sword

Fear the hero, the adventurer, the man who is a legend in his own time. Not only does he have the skill to take on many foes at once, but the power of his convictions seems to flow into his tools. His blade cleaves through steel as easily as flesh, but even a simple leather jerkin seems to turn the mightiest blade. Do not take his tools for magic, easily removed; he is become magic, and his tools merely reflect his greatness.

Every heroic character gains a proficiency with weapons and armor that blurs into the supernatural. As the character grows, any weapon wielded, armor worn, and shield carried gains an enhancement bonus based on level. This bonus should be +1 per 3-5 levels (rounded down), depending on how powerful the GM wants the characters to be.

The basic assumption is that it applies to all gear, but, if more appropriate to the game, it might only apply to masterwork items and/or items the character has grown accustomed to or bonded with in some way.

If taken from the character, the item behaves in all ways like a normal item (though, obviously, it gains bonuses based on the level of its new wielder) unless it has become an item of myth.

The Blade of a Hero

This sword was carried by my father throughout the hell wars. They say that, when he drove it through the eye of the demon prince, it sung with a brilliant white light that caused the creature to writhe and burn. He died shortly thereafter, and it’s all I have to remember him. I’ve never seen it glow, but I’m not nearly as great a man as my father… or maybe I just haven’t needed to fight any demons, yet.

Any weapon or armor that becomes a signature item of a hero may develop a Special Ability, becoming an Item of Myth. In general, abilities are gained near the end of a hero’s adventures, either at the cusp of the story in which the item will be known, or upon the character’s death in battle. Most abilities are +1 equivalent, but some of the more expensive abilities may manifest for truly epic deeds.

When a special ability manifests, note the level of the wielder (it can replace Caster Level in most cases). Subsequent wielders of the item that equal or exceed this level may use the Special Ability. If these heroes also do something epic with the item, enough to write their own myth into its history, it may gain another ability to match the new deed (record the level of the new hero separately: characters may unlock the abilities successively as they gain levels).

In some cases, an ability may activate for someone technically too low level to use it, if the circumstances match the legend or the ethos of the original owner. For example, a Holy sword wielded by a 20th level Paladin may activate in times of direst need for a young peasant lad of pure heart.

Epic Raiment

This scarf was my grandmother’s. In her day, she was the most beautiful woman in the city, and had the ear of knights and lords. I like to think that, when I wear it, I gain a little bit of her poise and confidence… it’s seemed to work for me so far.

In addition to weapons and armor, Items of Myth can be other magic items as well. These are somewhat less exciting to the sages, but every hero has favorite tools other than a blade and a shield. One or more of the character’s accoutrements may become a wondrous item, staff, ring, etc. if it is sufficiently distinctive and beloved by the hero. Unlike weapons and armor, these items often gain their powers in the hero’s own lifespan. When giving the character a mythic item of this sort, the focal item should gain powers appropriate to his character, the nature of the item, and around his level (using the caster level as a gauge). Some items (particularly items with enhancement bonuses) may continue to scale, while more specific items may simply retain their original power.

Once the item is left behind by the hero, subsequent users cannot master its abilities until their level is equal to or greater than the caster level of the item. However, if the bearer knows the item’s history or simply has a compatible personality, he may receive a scaled down version of its power or unlock its ability a few levels early.

Heroes that carry a Christmas tree of the relics of past adventurers find it hard to imbue their own legendary item, and may have to rely on finding further treasure to increase their powers.