Items: Random provenance

Photo of inscribed skull

Mysterious history

For an enchanted item to have amazing powers is fun. But at least as much fun can be discovering the history of the object. Finding out that your sword makes a high-pitched keening sound when you’re near water is neat, but discovering that it makes that sound because the first owner was a blind fire elemental can be just as interesting.

With that in mind, here are some ideas for item provenance:

  1. The item became covered in dirt and was eventually painted over. For many years, it was considered a mundane object of its type.
  2. The item became the marque of royalty for a goblin clan. Would-be chieftains fought over it for many years. The object now has a slight bluish tinge from all the goblin blood spilled on it.
  3. Through many hands and much history, the object has slowly been working its way east. It seems to become more powerful when it goes east, and its owners seem to be more accident-prone when it goes west.
  4. The item once helped an evil person become good. Later, it made a good person evil.
  5. The object spent many decades in the vaults of a temple, where it was considered a powerful relic. Later, it was liberated in a religious uprising, and spent several more decades hidden behind the idols in a roadside shrine.
  6. There was a long period when three powerful people all maintained that they owned the true version of the object. It is extremely difficult to determine who actually possessed it; official histories give completely contradictory accounts.
  7. The object was once part of a much larger object, from which it was forcefully separated. It will become far less powerful if rejoined with its earlier fraction, however.
  8. A series of romantic tales all seem to relate to the object somehow.
  9. The object has its previous owner’s name inscribed on it. Close inspection, however, will reveal that an even earlier owner’s name was excised and the new inscription made over that.
  10. The object was used by a traveling performance troupe as a prop for many years; only after it was stolen by a famous thief did the troupe realize that they had had the real thing.
  11. Its owners seem to be very lucky for fifty years, and then very unlucky for another fifty years.
  12. The object was mounted above the fireplace of an inn for dozens of years. The innkeep considered it a prize, but eventually donated it to a wandering adventuring party, who managed to get themselves killed and the object lost.

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