Mysterious fane on the banks of the Sea of Ohkotsk

Mysterious fane on the banks of the Sea of Ohkotsk

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Legendary Weapons Old and New

A blade is a blade is a blade, yes?


Some weapons are indeed forged in factory fashion, intended for the armories of keeps or to put teeth into a rag-tag force of conscripted farmers.

Some weapons are “off the rack” as it were, work-a-day tools in the kit of professional soldiers.

But some weapons…

Some weapons are great.

Some weapons were forged in circumstances mysterious or arcane. 

Some are artworks, the life’s work of a great master of the forge.

Some weapons were forged amid blood and fury – more birthed than made.

Yes, some weapons are great.

These legendary blades are storied – at times their names are remembered long after those of the warriors who wielded them.  It seems as though it was the weapon itself that wrought great deeds, as though the weapon was the hero – or the villain – that shook the world.

And sometimes it was.

Such weapons may be lost, but they will be found again: and when they are found, there will once again be great deeds to be sung.


[Inspired and informed by the article "A New Approach to Magic Weapons" by Michael Williamson, published as the Treasure Chest column in White Dwarf issue #73 (Jan 1986).]

Legendary Weapons Old and New

Part 1 : Determine the point value of the weapon

(random or choose):

Legendary Smith (1d10)

Age: 1 per 20 years (10d100)
+1-5 for each major event in which the weapon played a notable part (1d5/20 years)
+10 for any great events in which the weapon was a major player (10% chance per 100 years)
            + 1 per 3 levels of wielder if weapon was favoured for the major part of career (1d10/100 years)

Add for dramatic circumstances of forging (1d10)
Magic weapons add +10 per +1 or special power (flaming, slaying, etc)

Sum the above to get weapon point value total.

Legendary weapons are very focused and thus have only 4 primal alignments.  Select based on history or roll 1d4:
1. Good
2. Evil
3. Law
4. Chaos

Legendary weapons are not aligned in the magical sense, so can be wielded by anyone – but more powerful weapons may well detect as their alignment where appropriate.

Legendary weapons are infused with a sense of purpose.  Roll or select according to what is appropriate for the weapon’s history:

Defend the weak
Defend the law
Defend freedom
Defend oppression
Destroy a force for evil
Destroy a criminal society
Destroy an institution
Destroy a force for good
Fight cruelty
Maintain stability
Foment anarchy
Create fear/hardship
Kill all evil beings
Kill all criminals
Kill all officials
Kill all good beings

(Most entries will need to be detailed according to the setting: for example, destroy a force for evil might be interpreted to mean the weapon’s purpose is to destroy the followers and temple of a particular evil god. Destroy an institution might mean the weapon’s purpose is to kill all members of a particular aristocratic lineage, or it might mean the weapon is working against the institution of slavery)

All legendary weapons have names.  In some cases the name will be inscribed on the weapon itself or on a special case, but in others the name may be unknown in which case the services of a sage or diviner may be required.  Detect magic will identify the weapon as very special, but not reveal the name or properties.  Spells such as Speak With Dead (to ask the former owner) or spells that access knowledge from the outer planes may reveal the name, or knowledge as to where it may be found.  Information found by a sage may be fragmentary, or may only point to where the name may be learned (i.e. triggering a quest to learn more about the weapon and unlock its power).  Intelligent weapons may be able to communicate their names to their wielders, but may or may not be inclined to.

Part 2 : Using the weapon

Weapons infused with the power of their history and great deeds have names and can be called upon to aid the wielder in times of trouble.  The wielder calls out the name of the sword and rolls to attack as normal.  Only a single attack is possible.  If the attack results in a hit vs target AC, but the target requires special weapons to hit, subtract points from the weapon as follows:

1pt silver
2pt magic weapons
2pt/+1 for targets that require specific bonus to hit

Roll damage as usual, then subtract points from the weapon at 1pt per additional hp damage required to kill the target until the weapon’s current point value reaches zero.

The sum of the points spent is the % chance the weapon will break (-5% per magical plus or special power, e.g. flaming, vorpal)

The weapon will regain points up to its maximum as determined in part 1 at a rate of 1pt per 2hp damage dealt in the service of its purpose – random fights do not regenerate the weapon’s points, but if the wielder is working toward a goal that matches the weapon’s purpose hp dealt in fights directly related to that goal will do so.

If the wielder consistently favours the weapon while pursuing goals that are in line with the weapon’s purpose, when a major goal is achieved (i.e. plot impact is high, challenge was high) the weapon may gain 1-5 points.  The weapon also gains 1pt for every 3 levels the wielder gains while using it as a favoured weapon.  These points add to the weapon’s max total.

Part 3 : Special features

As legendary weapons gain in power, they may evolve and develop additional powers.  For each 10pt of power, roll 3d6 once on the following table:

3        Special power: 3d6 lightning
4        Special power: either flaming (1-3) or frost (4-6)
5-6     Special power: defending (any magical bonus can be assigned to AC instead)
7-13   Add magical +1
14-15 Speaks (if no INT score, will communicate only animal urges in favour of purpose, calculate Ego to
                        determine wielder’s ability to resist)
16      Special power: Intelligent: add 1d4 INT
17      Special power: Persuasive: add 1d4 CHA

18      Special power: Extra Ego: add 1d4 to Ego score

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