Magical powers can be bestowed in a variety of ways. Maybe characters are born with them, à la Harry Potter. Maybe power is accessible by anyone, but requires magical tools à la Supernatural. And maybe they’re inherited from someone else, or passed on via an object or ritual. A universe where power is received in this last way can offer a lot of interesting storytelling potential if done right. Think of the Aztec gold in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. All you need to have the power (okay, yes, the pirates consider it a curse, but they do ostensibly have magical powers) is to have a coin in your possession. Because there’s a large margin of error for this power to be abused, there are high stakes tied to who controls it.
I actually stumbled onto this idea as I read Anne Rice’s newest Vampire Chronicles offering, Prince Lestat. While the book itself was unfortunately representative of the self-indulgent wordiness of Rice’s later works, it did largely center on the theme of received power. Who is worthy of having power? What happens when that person becomes unworthy, and how and when should it be passed on?