Mythology is full of heroes who carried one or two amazing items throughout their adventuring careers. Sometimes the acquisition of the item marked the hero as special from the beginning (such as King Arthur pulling the sword from the stone), and in other cases the items were gained as part of an early adventure (Hercules killed the Nemean lion as the first of his Twelve Labors, and thereafter wore its hide as armor). Often, special magic items are given to heroes by the gods (Perseus famously receives gifts ranging from Hades’ helm of invisibility to Hermes’ winged sandals), or other supernatural forces (many swords of Norse mythology, including Dainsleif, Hqfud, Ridill, and Tyrfing, are forged by the dwarves, who also make magic items for the Norse gods).
While such items are clearly the progenitors of the magic items found in modern fantasy RPGs, there’s often a serious disconnect between how the two kinds of items work. Mythological items are often an important and defining feature of the heroes who carry them, and accompany those heroes throughout a large chunk of their adventures. Most magic items in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook are useful only at a fairly narrow range of character levels, and thus likely to be abandoned as more useful magic items become available. In terms of game mechanicc, this is a good design as it keeps characters excited about new treasure and ensures that much of the loot gained by overcoming encounters needs to be spent on or traded for new gear to overcome more powerful encounters.
However, it can be disappointing for players who grow attached to a magic item. If Dara the paladin overcomes a minor fiend early in her career, using a cold iron weapon she receives from the spirit of a local hero who died a generation earlier in the lair, she may be saddened to learn it’s nearly impossible for her to take the time to have it enchanted to keep up with her as she gains levels. While not every magic item needs to be a prized possession throughout a hero’s career, the idea of iconic, special magic items that do take such a role are appealing to many game groups. To help provide an option to fill those roles, Relics of the Godlings presents a new magic item, the godling relic, and numerous rules for adding them to a campaign.