Example of Tags and How They Work on Objects
Building world and personal histories are behaviors we want to install in the game. A large number of the game's mechanics and features are designed specifically to foster it as part of our "information economy." For example, in the last blog on cartography, I mentioned that the data on maps might be out of date depending on their age, but that in some cases that might actually increase the value. In theory, that means that heirlooms maps passed down from generation to generation could be extremely valuable, depending on what information they conveyed and how well known that information was; like the painting in Kalidora's example.
Or for a real world example, if you've ever seen the show the Deadliest Catch, consider the charts of the Cornelia Marie and the Northwestern. Both ships have been crabbing for generations and their charts record not just modern crabbing hotspots but decades old equivalents as well, allowing their captains to extrapolate things like migratory patterns or even just fall back on "forgotten fishing holes" when times are tough. This is a huge advantage that rookie captains on new ships don't have, which is often seen in the show when they do episodes that focus on them and the newbie captains have to resort to begging for help from the veteran captains.
So, items will develop a history whether you want them to or not, even in the most mundane ways. When you further factor in the tag system into the mix, items grow capable of picking up "traits" based on the ways they are used over the years or the things they are exposed to. A demon hunter in your "family" might end up creating a grand grimoire out of their otherwise mundane spellbook by virtue of the book receiving tags in the middle of battles that eventually trigger game effects that transform the book. That effect might happen quickly or over generations depending on your playstyle, the state of the world at the time and any number of other factors due to the broad reaching nature of the tag mechanic. And because it's mostly transparent, it might not even be something you notice at first, leading to "Friday the 13th the series" style "haunted" heirlooms. And that assumes the effects are noticeably supernatural at all. You might, for example, end up with something that's "lucky" for you, never realizing the reason said thing is lucky is because a spirit you thought you'd banished when playing a now dead character was in fact bound to your family's service, with that item as its focus.
Or, you could just end up with a sword that seems really good at killing bears. It might not have any real effect at all, but every time you've used it to hunt bears you've come back alive and successful. That's the beauty of keeping the knowledge imperfect, if you ask me. Possibilities are not so clearly constrained and that makes the world all the more magical.
I guess what I'm saying here is that there are many mechanics in place that will already build heirlooms in very subtle ways, which is the sort of action we prefer. From our perspective, a mechanic that does something similar, only explicitly, runs the risk of actually detracting from the overall experience we're working to build here. - Snipehunter