Find a penny, pick it up.
And all the day you’ll have good luck.
An ancient relic of a long-dead hero and a link to the divine
Well it’s got to do something, but I’ll be damned if I know what
"Their trumpets are also of a peculiar and barbaric kind which produce a harsh, reverberating sound suitable to the confusion of battle."
from the memoirs of Diodorus Siculus,
Commander of the Legion XIX (retired)
Magical items are often prohibitively expensive, largely because the Dragon Blood crystals needed to power them are so very rare. For centuries alchemists and magicians alike have searched for a cheaper, and more abundant, alternative. This just might be the long sort after formula, but price could be higher than anyone ever imagined.
Why go to all trouble of applying makeup, when a few simply cantrips can produce much better results in a fraction of the time?
Nothing comes from nothing, or so they say.
So how do you power those "always on" items?
A magical beacon designed to attract minor spirits to the mundane plane
When magic is the stuff from which the world is made no man can afford to ignore it. For those who are unable, or unwilling, to undertake the rigorous study required to master the arcane arts the power of magic may still by available - for a price.
The player characters, experienced and somewhat well known, hear rumors and travelers' tales about a distant area being overrun by dragons (or other terrifying monstrosities). The locals have sent them a message, begging for heroic aid.
When they investigate, they discover that nothing of the sort is going on. It turns out that a group of thieves wanted them out of the way so that they could rob them (or someone who would normally receive their protection).