I’m a really big fan of the concept of magic items which are created or strengthened as a result of great heroes doing great deeds with them rather than (solely) because of a wizard deliberately enchanting them. And some thoughts about how to do that using the tools provided by ACKS came to me today:
The campaign chapter provides rules giving requirements in money, monster parts, and time for wizards to enchant items. All of these could be easily converted to a more organic form.
- The money requirement can be spent on thematic activities which provide no other in-game benefit, such as making donations to the local church to have the item blessed or buying drinks at the local tavern while you tell everyone about the great things you've done with the item.
- The special components requirement is, rather obviously, covered by monster XP earned while using the item.
- Time, for the most part, is time, so this requirement can be carried over directly - the gold must be spent and the monsters must be killed over a period of time at least as long as it would take to enchant the item normally.
When the requirements are fulfilled, the GM chooses a new enchantment appropriate to the way in which they were met and applies it to the item. I would do this without telling the player what the new ability is (or even that there is a new ability), leaving the new power for them to discover while using the item, but others may choose to inform the player immediately. For example, a character who uses an unenchanted blade to slay an ancient dragon (8400 XP) and another 1600 XP worth of monsters (10,000 XP total) and then spends at least 10,000gp on spreading tales of his battle against the ancient wyrm may discover that, a couple weeks later, the sword is +1 vs. dragons and, in two months, that it’s +1, +2 vs. dragons.
Since these things can be done by anyone, not only by high-level spellcasters, some balancing will obviously be required. Some balance is provided by the GM choosing enchantments based on how the item is used and its owner’s behavior rather than allowing the player to design the item to his precise specifications, but it may be necessary to also increase the amount of money/XP/time required to avoid making the enchanting abilities of high-level spellcasters meaningless. On the other hand, after the first time a caster performs a given enchantment (or if he’s duplicating an existing item), a high-level spellcaster can do it at half cost, so perhaps that’s already enough of an advantage for “traditional” enchanting.
I’m particularly uncertain about the XP requirement, since deliberate enchanting requires the full XP value to come from a specific creature or type of creature (e.g., the example Sword +1 requiring 36 ogre or hero skulls rather than 5,000 XP worth of anything you happen to kill). However, this is offset by needing to slay those 5,000 XP worth of monsters personally (rather than hiring low-level adventurers to collect skulls for you) and using that specific weapon (rather than pulling out your +3 Hammer of Annihilation and mowing them down). Overall, I’m not sure which way the balance falls on that.
At this point, all of the above is completely untested - I haven’t even really thought it through that thoroughly beyond simply typing up this post - but I’d be very interested to hear anyone’s reactions or thoughts on balancing it.