A hero or villain with cool stuff excites the imagination. Who doesn’t like Jedi Knights with light sabers (Star Wars)? Or albino weaklings with a sword that devours souls and transfers the victim’s energy to the wielder (Elric of Melnibone)? Or a warrior with a fierce bird that would devour lesser men but obeys him (Tarl Carbot of the Gor Series)? Run of the mill items are nothing to get excited over and won’t become famous and are probably not what we’re looking for here. Jewelry, weapons, and animals can all be memorable possessions, but it’s arguably better to choose one or two for each character. Otherwise the law of diminishing returns kicks in and the impact of each item becomes diluted by the existence of the others.
When deciding what our character has/had, consider giving them something suited to our purpose and their status. If they’re a warrior, a weapon is an obvious choice. This can be one that achieved a famous result (such as it’s the sword/gun that killed a certain bad guy) or one that was just generally used by them and had a special property that made it famous. Maybe the weapon was altered in some way, either a piece removed or something added to alter its functionality, power, or speed.
Armor is less exciting. Armor that saved our guy makes them a little weak, by comparison; we like people who save themselves. But it might allow them to enter something like a supernatural phenomenon no one else could enter, for example. But if the armor became cursed—or was all along—that’s better, especially if it’s still around on our world or believed destroyed (but isn’t). What if the armor compelled them to do dangerous missions, as if it had a mind of its own? This is one way to meld a famous character with a famous item.
An item they are always seen with can also acquire a mythic reputation. A wizard’s staff comes to mind, as does any outfit they typically wear or an item they use on their adventures. Something small like a ring is unlikely to capture much attention unless it has a giant diamond in it, for example. A necklace or belt are progressively more likely to get noticed, as is anything worn on the head.
Broken items are another area of interest. Can it be put back together? Some or all of the pieces might be lost. Decide who broke it, why and when, what led to this, and the aftermath. Was there a defeated hero/villain, a chaotic artifact, or explosion (one that created a monster)?
How did our character acquire this item? Maybe it was found on an adventure, bestowed, or forged for them. It could be standard equipment that just has a fearsome reputation. Have they ever lost it and if so, with what consequences? Did they recover it? Perhaps it’s no longer the same or has changed in some way, which might be significant. It could still be useable or dangerous in the wrong kind of way now. They may keep the altered item out of loyalty. Did anything happen to our character because they no longer had it?
If the item is still lost, is our character looking for it or have they given it up? Do you intend them to find it? Do you have any ideas who has it now? Are there any consequences if someone ill-equipped to handle it has it? This can apply to items that our gods have as well. In addition to weapons, armor, clothing, books, and devices to help with mundane or extraordinary tasks like food, shelter, and communication, we also have steeds and ships to consider (see the next section).
Did they get it by gambling? Maybe it was a trade deal, such as someone selling it without having any idea of its true value, which was then discovered by our character. The possession could have been the result of a quest our character went on specifically to find it.
Do others covet the item, causing our character to need to protect it? Either way, in a world with thousands of years of history, there are plenty of interesting items to be found and which no longer belong to their original owner; this goes up exponentially across multiple planets.
We might want to figure out who created the item. Did our character do it themselves? This is more likely if they’re a wizard or engineer. We can also create a history for this item making its way through multiple hands, possibly causing problems along the way, most famously with our character?