In the land of Dorn, there is an entire industry involving the wholesale of magical items. This industry employs individuals experienced in the art of magecraft to enchant mundane items or weapons and give them magical properties, or to create magical items from the ground up (fire-swords, invisible cloaks, etc). The abilities of these items respond to mana, which manipulates the item's power. Mana is the life energy of a human being, which is present at birth and grows over a person's lifetime. An individual simply touches the object and forces their mana into it to activate it. These items respond to any kind of mana and is indiscriminate to a person's signature, which allows them to be resold and used by different individuals. However, The enchantments built into the object inevitably fade with time. The abilities of the item get weaker with repeated use and eventually loses its power. This allows for return business, as the user is forced to pay for new enchantments on the item.

There is a special service that this industry offers, in the form of luxury goods. These special items operate in the same way as regular commercial goods are, and are built with the same materials. However, they are specifically linked to a certain mana signature, and can only be activated by that signature. Linking a magical item's power to a specific mana signature prevents the enchantments from fading, allowing for infinite and repeated use, unlike the commercial items sold to the public. These brands are made for those who want exclusivity, such as a noble wants a magical item that can only be used by them, or a royal family wants an item that can be passed down to their future generations within their family line.

There is no planned obsolescence built into the magic items from the industry, as even they don't have the power to do that. This fading of power happens gradually with items built for use by anyone. The enchantments of luxury goods linked to a specific individual or family are permanent and last forever. How can this be the case?


It's the difference between the power source of the items.

Your impermanent items are powered by "batteries". A reservoir of Mana that needs to be filled, then the item works. When this power is used up, it needs to be recharged.
As with electrical batteries, performance drops with every recharge cycle and eventually becomes so low that the "battery" is effectively a dead brick.

Your permanent, personalized items are not powered by stored power. Instead, they are set up with a continuous and permanent power-tap to the owner. As this powertap does not undergo the cycles of charge and discharge of the impermanent items, there is no wear and tear on the power system. They will last as long as the power source (the owner) lasts.
Obviously setting up such a powertap requires a much higher level of skill, and thus commands a much higher price than the impermanent consumer goods.

This also means that the moment the owner of a permanent enchantment dies, the enchantment dies with them.
It also brings a potential danger that owning too many, or too powerful, items could be hazardous to the owner's health.
There will definitely be a need for a decommissioning service. If you are tired of your childhood enchanted bicycle, you cannot just abandon it in the shed and go get that enchanted ornithopter you saw advertised. The bicycle would still be draining you, and everyone know just how power-hungry enchanted vehicles are. You will need to get the bicycle professionally scrapped before you will have the excess power available to safely enchant your flying machine.


The Permanence Comes At A Cost

The luxury items are linked to a specific mana signature, yes? How do you think the enchantment is maintained? Simply put, this link binds the mana of one specific person into it when first activated, then draws upon that person's mana to keep its enchantment "fresh" and functioning in tip-top shape.

Regular enchanted items don't have that kind of power, so they can't replenish their energy and thus become weaker and weaker, their power and abilities fading as they lose power. (Like a cellphone; it doesn't work as well as its battery goes down, now does it?) Luxury items don't have that annoying weakness, but you're literally paying for that convenience with your life.

Just some of it, a few months or years perhaps, but that's still a pretty steep cost. Any smart noble won't like that, so one of four things will happen:

  1. They'll buy luxury items, but only use them when they have to (ie. when the benefit outweighs the cost)

  2. They'll buy luxury items, but have them activated by and/or used by trusted servants (who may or may not be aware that this is because they're considered disposable)

  3. They'll demand a change to the enchantment; instead of one person having to pay the cost to activate the item, the cost will be shared among a group of people when that item is activated. In other words, instead of one person paying a steep cost to activate and use that item, a group of people will distribute the cost amongst themselves.

  4. They'll demand a different change to the enchantment, so that every time they want to use their magic items, another individual will pay the price instead of them. These individuals will probably be bound by a special rune so that their mana can be taken and harnessed to power luxury items. They may even be brainwashed to think this is an honor.

  • $\begingroup$ 5. They'll have their manacled blinded slave imprisoned in a cell for life, who is 20 years younger, provide the mana for the luxury bed that rocks you to sleep and sings songs..... and make sure the slave has a goooood long life....... and ditto for every other appliance....... and they won't think twice about it. If the slave did happen to predecease them, they just replace slave and item. Sadly this is the realistic version. At worst, illicit slaves or paid ones (family gets money for their child,they can always have another) $\endgroup$
    – Stilez
    Mar 15 at 19:52

The nature of the spell requires some flaw in its perfection: it can not be used everywhere, at any time, by anyone.

One such flaw is that it is temporary.

Another such flaw is that it can only be used by people with a certain condition, such as this person here, or a member of this family.

It would also be possible to create things that can be used in only one place, and yes, it would be possible to use this flaw for an object that can't be moved, or would not be useful in any other location. The ability of people to exploit a flaw does not change that it fits the magical rule.

  • $\begingroup$ I like that you can use this same function to explain how enchantment fits with simple spellcasting. A magical item is further limited by being tied to a specific item, while a spell cast is limited by being tied to a specific place and time (i.e. the place and time you cast it), which explains why it takes so much longer to enchant an object than to just throw around a bit of magic. $\endgroup$
    – SirTain
    Mar 15 at 13:27

Pounding a square peg into a round hole:

Your common magical items can be likened to a child's toy made of soft materials, and with holes for variously-shaped pegs. Every peg is different, and you pound on the board with your peg until you get it through a hole somewhere. Taking your mallet and hammering a peg into a board wherever it can be forced in is ultimately destructive. But give an adult the same toy, and they easily and nondestructively can put the same peg in the same hole a thousand times.

Another analogy would be joining two boards with either random nails or precision screws with predrilled holes. If the two boards are screwed together though the same holes, they can be screwed and unscrewed over and over with little wear. But if you hammer the boards together with nails in different spots every time, the boards get more and more filled with holes until they finally start falling apart.

So imagine that mana is like an irregularly shaped object, and so are enchantments. Bang together a person and an item, an you can make it work. But bang it together often enough, and a soul is made of a lot tougher stuff than a magic item.

Your precisely matched magic item is like a pre-drilled board made to line up with predrilled holes. A general user pounds on a magic item every time it's used. A precision magic item effortlessly matches up with it's dedicated user and hardly suffers any noticeable wear at all.

For a single person, the level of precision is probably perfect. The item is likely to last forever for that person (great for a vampire...). For an inherited item, I'd guess the item would follow a set of characteristics, and the closer the inheritor was to the item's "shape," the better it would work with less wear. But children aren't prefect matches for their parents (and are only half genetically identical) so you'd likely have certain members of the family that would be a better match than others. Unless there's inbreeding, the item will get finickier with each generation, and the imperfect match would eventually wear on the item. One day it would quit working, and if enough generations had passed, the warranty would have expired or the business that made it would have gone through a hundred mergers and acquisitions so trying to get your money back for your "forever" family artifact will be a challenge. Such is life - nothing lasts forever (except that vampire's stuff).


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.