Whilst I really do appreciate a magic item can provide an excellent spring board for interesting roleplay I often find that they inevitably take a back seat in the story or are forgotten completely. So i'm thinking of a way to enhance the experience at my table - Im looking at giving each magic item (that is powerful enough to have a personality and quirks) a requirement that must be satisfied in order for the item to function. I'll do it per session, not fixed to any in game time scales, so if the requirement isnt met this session - you wont get benefit from its Effect next session. I like to keep it simple.
So for example:
Ragga's Shinsplitter, Ancestral Orcish Warblade
+1 Light Melee Weapon
Effect: When Staggered any recovery dice results of 1 may be rerolled.
Requirement: An enemy must be slain in single combat.
Thats a fairly simple requirement built around a weapon (and accompanying story) that exists in my home campaign - but you can really start to have fun with the requirements, creating obstacles and challenges for players. What about magic items whose requirements oppose each other? Im not suggesting that this type of resource juggling should become a theme however, just an interesting distraction.
When building a requirement look to the items personality or backstory, and if there isn't either of those elements you could work in reverse. Choose an interesting and fun requirement and build a story from it. And remember your looking to encourage roleplaying and story generation, so kill an enemy in combat wont be all that fun. If you need to have a 'simple' requirement like this, at least give it a twist.
Here are some that come to mind
"A secret must be stolen"
"The player must be noticed"
"An enemy must become a friend"
"The item must bask in true sorrow"
Until next time.