Pathfinder - The Inner Sea
Magic Items in the Inner Sea are made magical through the use of runes. Engravers can take regular items and enchant them with a rune. Once successfully empowered, the ordinary item gains additional powers depending on the rune that was placed on the item as well as the skill in which it was applied. Runes last forever as long as they are not used. However once used, all runes slowly lose their power.
Example of a Rune
You come across lair and find a bag that has not been used in 10,000 years. You identify the rune as a bag of holding. Currently it has nothing in it so the party can be certain it has not lost any of its power during those 10,000 years. The party is encoumbered so they place 100 gold pieces into the bag. The bag now contains 100 gold pieces but weights nothing. When that event occurrs, the bag begins to draw power from the rune. If that rune was almost at the end of its life, the party may come back tomorrow and find the bag is ordinary (though the items remain – but the bag is no longer weightless). If the bag was at its full power, it may be decades before that rune stops working, depending on how well the rune was crafted in the first place.
Example of a rune in Pathfinder terminalogy
You have a sword that is known to provide a +2 on attack, ie a sword +2. The sword can be covered in runes so finding the proper rune may not be easy identify. Identifying runes is accomplished through the use of the appraise skill. Once found the rune can be copied to another item. This copy process can be time consuming and must be exactly correct. Using this knowledge to create a new rune on an ordinary item is accomplished through the craft skill. It is possible for the rune to be partially successful and in this example a good (not great) copy of the rune might only provide a +1 enchantment. Once created a successful use magic device check empoweres that item and can provides a rough estimate on the strength of the rune, ie how long the rune will function when used. When a rune nears the end of its power, the use device skill can be used to ‘clean’ the rune and remove the taint from the item. This cleansing restores it back to it original abilities. But not to its original strength. All runes eventually lose there enchantment if that item is continually used.
Magic items in the Inner Sea
All magic items in the Inner Sea are outlawed. Runes can be copied at will, even by someone not trained. This results in frequent crafted items that are occasionally not what the engraver intended and at times causes great social upheaval. It is even possible for that rune to cause the item to be cursed. As a result of this, magic items once identified are to be sent immediatly to Absalaom for safekeeping. Nobody, even wizards or even Aed Sedai, are allowed to carry these magic items outside the Spire of Nex.
Runes in of themselves are not inherently powerful. They have to be empowered. Because of this books on runes are like vermin in the Inner Sea. Someone trained can identify runes but it is not common knowledge. As a result books on runes are not outlawed. However anything resembling a rune on any individual item is outlawed. The law states that ignorance that a rune was present is not sufficent to prevent arrest. So in the end most reputable merchants want nothing to do with any time with any form of markings, just in case that marking is a rune. However there are always rumors of underground mercants willing to carry these items, but those are just rumors……