If I were to ever write a computer RPG, one of the main elements in it would be the magic items. Duh, right? But wait, this isn’t simply a crafting station and the creation of some massive magic tech. Instead, I have always wanted it to go like this: (and this can work for non-computer games as well, in fact possibly better)
Early in the game, the character gets a minor magical item that looks really cool, but is not that powerful. Someone back home sees it and tells him that this is in fact the Sword of the Goddess, a legendary weapon of incredible might. But the character (and player especially) knows that currently it simply glows blue when bad guys are around. So the smart guy (priest, sage, fence, whoever) does some research. In order to get that Sword of the Goddess to become really kick ass, you need to do a pilgrimage to her holy shrine.
Now the pilgrimage can be anything the GM or writer wants. It could simply be a “six months pass while you climb the high mountain and dedicate the sword to the goddess once more”. More than likely, it will be a mission where they have to fight their way up the mountain because something bad is now in the way. Not only does this become a mission, but they become missionaries in that they are reopening the goddess’ sacred spot to other pilgrims. I prefer it being some manner of physical challenge, like climbing the mountain requires a dozen skill checks in climbing and related skills. If you want physical and combat, you can always have them fight a dream battle once they get to the top. Those are great because you can take away all their magical gear and leave them with only the Sword of the Goddess.
Maybe they need the right kind of sacrifice to awaken the goddess and have her bestow her blessing. This could be anything from a virgin to diamonds to a special flower that only grows in a distant swamp and must be kept alive while they trek up the icy mountain. Maybe they have to drag a rather useless priest along with them, making everything they do more difficult. In any case, they do the ritual at the shrine and the sword gains some pretty kick ass abilities that are in some way matched to the goddess’ aspects. Oh, but here’s the kicker - later on when the sword starts to seem underpowered for what the party is doing, that same smart guy says he found another pilgrimage they can do and have the goddess supercharge the weapon again.
It doesn’t have to be a sword! Shield, armor, helm, bow, whatever makes sense for the god/goddess and the character. If this is how magic items (at least the really powerful ones) in the world work, then you could probably have a shield of the goddess of home and hearth and a spear of the god of war and a helm of the god of life - assuming they are all allies. I think the first pilgrimage level item could be from multiple gods, but the second or third tier super charge can probably only come from one, though you could switch. (This means if you do the second tier pilgrimage for one, you are removing the second tier pilgrimage from any others, even if they are not with you.)
What’s the big deal here? Well, let’s say you are fighting a major priest of the chaos god’s cult. He is using a major weapon that does some cool magic stuff. Once it is looted, it loses all that cool stuff, because the magical abilities were tied to the pilgrimage he did, not simply the weapon. Pretty tricky huh? Bad guys get magical items powerful enough to fight the party, but the party does not get the windfall profit from selling all of them. It also gets the party far more invested in their magical items than if they bought them as is or looted them off some bad guy. Also, as a divinely powered item, it helps to keep them tied to their gods and religions, which can help role-players whether they are good at it or need a little help. Yes - everything I do is to try and get the players more invested in their characters, the campaign, and the world!