In our game, the mystical force commonly known as “magic” has two sides, Light and Dark. These sort of, but not exactly, mimic the Positive and Negative material planes of existence in the traditional games also sort of, but not exactly, represent the ideals of good and evil. The three alignments in our game are Light Sided, Dark Sided, and Unaligned.
Clerics directly access either the Light or Dark sides for their spells and undead turning; they cannot be unaligned. Druids access both sides, but only after it has been filtered through nature; they must be Unaligned. Magic-Users and Illusionists essentially “hack into” magic, accessing whatever side (or both) as their arcane formula direct them and harness the energy for their purposes; they can be of any alignment.
Between this basic relationship of magic to alignment and my own desire to both limit the number of magical items in our game and simultaneously make them “more magical,” I’m thinking that many, if not most, permanent magical items should have an alignment. They were created with energy from one side or the other and draw upon it for their power, making them in tune with either Light (good) or Dark (evil).
I think the basic premise is sound and has a lot of potential, but I’m not exactly sure how to mechanically implement it. Should Dark Sided items simply not function for Light Sided characters (and vice versa), should they actually damage them, or should it be something different. Maybe a Dark Sided +3 sword of dragon slaying is merely a +1 sword for anyone not of the Dark Side. Maybe an intelligent-sword-type battle of wills would be required to utilize an item of a different alignment.
I’m figuring that lesser magical items like potions would usually not be aligned, and I also want to avoid turning every single permanent item into an artifact/relic level item. I would like to avoid “Oh, look, another +1 long sword…does anyone want it or should we just sell it?”
Simply giving names and/or histories to items can add a lot of flavor, but I would like at least some mechanical meaning to this if we go ahead with it.
Does anyone have any experience with this sort of thing? I’ve got a few ideas, but I’d sure love to hear what others think.