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Here's an idea I had for a gimmick in a D&D game.

The Rings of Glannor
This set of matching rings is a legendary artifact from the time long ago. It is said that the patron goddess of heroes, Glannor the Silver-eyed, forged them in the burning fountains of the Mount of Ages, when the world was young. These rings posses the unusual ability to summon a heroic figure from the Sea of Souls. Each morning when the sun rises, if a Ring of Glannor is not worn by another, it gathers the soul of a hero from the invisible sea beyond the world and brings them into the land of living men. This hero is dimly aware of the history surrounding the ring he (or she) now wears. Recent events are most clear and ancient deeds fade with the mists of time. The hero feels safety and companionship with the others who wield Glannor's rings and together they are compelled to travel into the dark places of the earth and do battle with those evils that have yet to be purged from these shores.

If a hero of the Ring is slain, and his heart is strong and pure, his spirit ascends to the throne of Glannor to stand at her side in the hall of heroes, until the final battle. At the next sunrise, a new hero takes his place. And so it goes, through the long marches of the years. The Rings of Glannor insure that there will forever be heroes in the world to do battle with evil, lest it consume mankind once and for all.

Of course, this is just an elaborate framing device to explain the party of heroes, why they adventure, and where new party members come from when old ones die. It allows for a fairly high mortality rate for PCs, if you're into that sort of thing.