Saturday, July 18, 2015
Legendary weapons - July 2015 RPG Blog Carnival
Scott at Of Dice and Dragons is hosting this month's RPG Blog Carnival, with the subject of 'Legendary Weapons.'
Initially, I reblogged an old post on "Catholic +1 swords" - several historic or semihistoric weapons of kings and warriors that are hallowed relics for their association with alleged deeds. However, I also wanted to contribute something original, so will now commence to wandering about in another thought experiment....
Serendipitously, Talysman recently also discussed the creation of legendary weapons. These are not weapons enchanted by arcane or divine magics, but by powers gained through great, or perhaps infamous, deeds. He outlined a few criteria for the weapons, both mundane and esoteric, to make the weapon grow in power and capability as it was wielded.
Thought experiment time - three fates of the same weapon as it absorbs powers en route to becoming legendary...
Our weapon - a simple, but well-crafted, longsword, its grip wrapped in pebbly ostrich hide, a massive gold nugget capping the pommel, adding value, the dense metal giving the sword a well-balanced heft.
The sword gains its powers and spirit as it is carried and wielded against increasing challenges over time and distance. It becomes saturated with its owner's dedication or obsession. Over time, it grows to an almost symbiotic relationship, where the hero begins to consider the weapon as a partner or talisman, especially as other allies or friend are lost or abandon the cause. The weapon gains its greatest or final powers as it is wielded in the final battle or challenge.
Perhaps it is a tragic end, even its accrued abilities insufficiency to protect its bearer, or to vanquish the foe. Perhaps another wanderer finds it, and is swayed and manipulated to carry on.
Kerrick Deluaw of the Vale carried the sword named Agelyeque (or as he lovingly referred to it, 'Goldbutt') in his journeys in search of the Gem of Ancestors. Returning the Gem to the Vale will rejuvenate the land, barren and fallow since the gem was lost to a mercenary thief. The gem always seemed to change hands one step ahead of him. Too often, he would find the most recent owner dead, or mad, lost to the stone's odd call.
Kerrick's companions faded away, spent like gold coins, on the years-long quest for the gem - some dead, some disillusioned. His last companion, a rogue named Shy, was lost to the ice golems... Alone, Kerrick sought out the vampire Lorick, who was said to hold the Gem. He was defeated.
Agelyeque absorbed fragments of Kerrick's soul as he was shattered and rended by the vampire. The man and sword were one in many ways, Kerrick whispering to it as he kept up his dogged search.
Liekwise, Agelyeque will whisper to its new bearer, telling them of Kerrick's journey and deeds, influencing them to continue to seek the gem. The old blade has also picked up a few tricks of its own...
Agelyeque: +2 longsword: Alignment: neutral. Intelligence: high. The sword retains the scars of its final battles. It grants its bearer immunity to cold attacks. The soul-fragments both warn of any undead in a 120' radius, and insulate the bearer against the level-draining undead - any initial attack by such an undead will have no effect, and successive attacks save at +2. The sword will whisper the tale of the Gem of Ancestors in the bearer's dreams. They must save once per month, or be compelled to complete the quest. The sword can sense the direction that the gem lies.
Driven by divine wrath, the zealot kills enemies, perhaps indiscriminately, with a single minded purpose, in the name of a god or other higher power. If the weapon is used in a campaign against a single type of foe, it begins to absorb, not the spirit of its bearer or his benefactors, but of the vanquished foes. The weapon twists itself and its bearer, until they are not a paradigm of faith that they once were, but a twisted parody of that faith, and instead, becomes a tragic tool of those they sought to defeat.
Kerrick, Sword-Priest of Bokim, was tasked to eradicate the followers of the dark god Nysash. As a talisman of this pursuit, he was gifted the sword 'Itasi', named for Bokim's fearsome handmaiden.
Fervent, he took on the righteous task, spilling their black blood in battle, in raids, in single combat. His compatriots whispered of Kerrick's growing single-mindedness and obsession with the cleansing. A squire mentioned that Kerrick sits up late, praying and burnishing the blade. But no matter how hard he polishes, the blade darkens...
Kerrick begins to preach on the 'Closing of the Cycle.' His companions look to one another and shrug. This is not a tenet or prophesy of Bokim. Perhaps he's received a vision...
Kerrick has seen things. Omens show him that the Cycle will be complete only with the spilling of more blood.
The sword-priest leads the vanguard against the beleaguered remnants of Nysash's followers. Wading through the dead, he enters the breached palisade, laying about among the screaming offspring and mates. Itasi's blade is now matte-black...
For Nysash feeds on defeat and discord. And the deity will sacrifice even its own followers to gain converts and champions. Kerrick suddenly screams in the lost tongue of Nysash, his former allies falling back at the transformation. A moment's hesitation, and a cavalier realizes that Bokim has abandoned Kerrick's soul. He screams a curse and closes with Kerrick, other priest-knights following.
Kerrick was cut down, Itasi lost down a now-poisoned well...
Itasi: +2 longsword, +4 vs lawful: Alignment: chaotic/evil. Intelligence: low. The sword retains a bitter hatred of law. Any lawful/good character touching the sword must save - a failed save will re-align the character to chaos/evil, a successful save will deal 4d8 electrical damage. Any successfully bearing the sword will be protected, as by protection from good and drawing the sword acts as a fear spell. Priests of Nysash will seek the sword. Its blade houses the souls of Kerrick's Cleanse. If the blade is snapped over an alter to Nysash by an evil/chaotic priest of at least 7th level, it will release 20+d20 shadows, who will form a phalanx and follow the orders of the priest.
While most would wish to serve revenge cold, or perhaps on a keen edge, such pursuits can leave those seeking revenge obsessed, empty, or in fear of retribution, themselves. And after all, living well is the best revenge....
Kerrick Rothubel awoke to the whispers of his servant, Kirol. 'Master, danger comes, we flee!' Bundled in a wood-cart, the half-asleep, confused heir to the duchy barely escaped his usurper cousin Bannon's assassins, swearing upon finding a bundle of clothing in the bed. Kerrick bumped down the road, hugging to himself his late father's sword, wrapped in sackcloth.
Kirol kept them moving, never tarrying long. Although the headstrong youth insisted that they return for collect retribution, Kirol reminded him that they were alone, unlanded, and without allies. Young Kerrick returned to sulking by the fire, a mean place for a former heir.
At Kirol's insistence, Kerrick grudgingly took the name Waren Ina, an itinerant squire seeking a benefactor. The sword's distinctive pommel was disguised by wax and cheap glass gems.
The pair took up as caravan guards, heading to the east. Waren made his mark as a dependable guard, often fending off superior bandit forces, seemingly without a mark. He became well-regarded as a good man to have at your back. He was soon surrounded by a band of dependable bravos, their record exemplary in getting a caravan safely to its destination.
The two eventually found themselves the Eastern Reaches, and sought accommodation in the court of Isola. Waren soon became a court favorite, his urbane mind and skill at maths making him a valuable adviser to the Pasha in his trade dealings, and with his more martial colleagues, single-minded in more clandestine pursuits for the Pasha. Around this time, Waren also discovered gambling, quietly amassing a significant nest-egg in the city card rooms and visiting caravan-tents.
A kingdom away, Bannon sat on his stolen throne, never quite comfortable in his station. His cousin had disappeared, as if into thin air, and sword that would truly give him authority over his subjects was gone, as well. Paranoid, Bannon's guards rode the borders and his spies crept through the neighboring territory's alleys, but there was no sign of Kerrick. The peasants mumbled under his rule, and whispered of the lost heir, each rumor greater or more fantastic than the last...
The Pasha, at this time, sought a groom for his youngest, the quiet, yet witty, Imendal. Waren had long been her court friend, and bristled at the suitors who jostled among the court, seeking her dowry... Kerrick knew that as an unlanded courtier, even one so trusted and monied, he was not in the running. Kirol pulled Kerrick aside and suggested that, just perhaps, it was time to reveal himself.
At dawn the next morning, 'Waren' impetuously interrupted the Pasha's breakfast. When the Pasha demanded to know the reason, Kerrick thrust the sword's pommel over a brazier, the wax and glass falling away, revealing the pommel of the sword of Duke Rothubel.
Two months later, Kerrick returned to his stolen duchy with his new wife, a retinue of advisors and bodyguards, and a mercenary army. He was met by throngs of peasants, who reached up to touch him, and the sword's pommel, as if it were a holy relic. Bannon's troops offered mediocre resistance, then capitulated, then joined Kerrick. Bannon fled the family keep. Kerrick chose not to pursue, instead branding him an outlaw within the duchy's borders, never welcome. Bannon lived out his days in ignominy, two kingdoms away.
Kerrick and the witty Imendal ruled long and in prosperity, the duchy known for the strings of visiting caravans from the east. And for its fearsome gamblers.
Rothubel, the Lucky: +3 longsword: Alignment: lawful. Intelligence: nil/low. The sword, from its time protecting the downtrodden and hidden Kerrick, chose to live well... When fighting against the odds, or against a foe with a larger HD, the sword gains an additional +1, and grants +1 to the bearer's AC. Its bearer becomes lucky, receiving a +2 to all saving throws. Likewise, it grants the bearer +1 CHA and increases morale of allies and reaction rolls with respect to opponents by +1, as well.