Artifacts of Ahlyen-Blades of the Elder War

I’m still mulling the whole ‘Thief’ thing over.  But while that’s percolating, I’ve decided to start another ‘feature’.  Here are a few of the greater artifacts of the world of Ahlyen, and periodically I will write up more.  Some of these are originally from D&D with my spin on them.  Others are influenced from other sources (such as Skyrim!).

Blades of the Elder War

The weapons called the Blades of the Elder War are three distinct, extremely potent, weapons.  Though not actually a set, or connected to each other in their construction, they are grouped by the races that have come into contact with them for their obvious relationship.  Each weapon serves one of the great alignments, promoting that force’s interests in the War Without End.  Their origin is unknown, but most ascribe them a divine history.  They show up at times of importance (usually) and may stay in the mortal realms for a generation or three, but eventually they will be lost to the mists of time only to reappear in the future, sometimes a world away.

The three are Ender, Balancer, and Blackrazor.

Ender

Beautiful, functional, and utterly, utterly unstoppable

Ender is the blade of Law, a great sword of unrivaled power that burns away the darkness of Chaos.  Ender is the blade of Kalen (some priests argue that it is, in fact, not a representation but the actual thing itself).  Merely possessing the blade in its jeweled scabbard protects the bearer, both from fire and the deleterious effects of many necromancies and undead abilities.  A blow from Ender will destroy undead and banish or imprison scions of Chaos.  The drawback of the weapon is that, once drawn, it will call all who serve Chaos within a mile towards it.  They will be unable to stop themselves from throwing themselves at the bearer in a frenzied attempt to destroy them.  Though those who serve Chaos cannot hold the unsheathed blade, if the wielder falls, rarely can the weapon or scabbard be found again.

Balancer

Only one of it’s many forms

Balancer is a strange weapon, even for an artifact.  Though regarded as the least potent of the three, it is still far more powerful than any mortal made weapon.  It appears as any weapon the wielder desires, though always made of green jade.  The weapon is the bane of both Law and Chaos, harming them both with great effectiveness.  But it is also a weapon that reflects its wielder, enhancing their abilities in various ways.  The Tryshallan say that Balancer was first wielded by the Great Mother when she drove the demons from the world and made it safe for all the mortal races.

Blackrazor

Seriously… I’m not Elric. Pale skin, NOT albino. Um, yeah, the hair’s the same. So’s the demon sword… awww…screw it, I’m Elric.

Blackrazor… who has not heard at least part of the dark story of this blade?  Described by a scholar who saw the blade first hand, “It is a black sword that shines like a piece of the night sky filled with stars, and it is sheathed in a black scabbard decorated with pieces of cut obsidian.”  As the sword that is aligned with Chaos (some claimed it was forged by Melech himself, or is actually a piece of Melech cast into the world), the blade drinks the souls of those it slays, passing their power on to its wielder.  But it doesn’t care who it kills, it simply revels in slaughter.  It is the worst aspects of Chaos bound into a weapon.  Almost every story involving Blackrazor is a tragic one, as the wielder kills those close to them to fuel the blade’s insatiable lust.  It is said that there are a number of additional powers the weapon grants, such as immunity to control by any force but itself.

Yes, yes, Blackrazor comes from White Plume Mountain, and is in turn, a rip off of Stormbringer.  So sue me.  Moorcock and Elric were huge influences on my world.  Sadly, I haven’t figured out how to make Blackrazor playable.  It’s stats, as written, are just too potent.  Anyone got any ideas on how to make it badass without allowing it to break a game?

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10 thoughts on “Artifacts of Ahlyen-Blades of the Elder War

  1. Arakhe says:

    How about giving the user of Blackrazor a round/turn limit as it is so powerful it starts draining the wielder as well?

  2. D. says:

    Ok, I’ll bite, why do you consider Blackrazor too powerful?

    D.

    • Every time you kill anything, you get a temporary level, and ALL OF ITS HITPOINTS for 30 minutes. So, the usual element of dungeon resource attrition is thrown out the window…effectively when you start with the ‘lite’ monsters in the earlier rooms, you are powering up. by the time you reach the end of the level, you are rocking out with hundreds of hit points and level 30 or 40 or some such nonsense.

      I shudder to think of using it as written in ACKS, where a fighter with Cleave jumps into a group of orcs. Imagine level 5 guy, hits a mob of orcs. Cuts down six of them. Now, he’s fighting at level 11 (with all the benefits), and has an additional 6d8HP. The orcs retaliate, he doesn’t care, he loses some phantom HP and then it’s his turn again, he finishes the other 4 in the room…now he’s level 15 with 4d8 more HP (because he doesn’t gain HP as a higher level character, but gains the HP of the things he’s killed). Every time he fights anything he’s powering up and eager to charge ahead (so his bonuses aren’t lost). Granted, you might shaft him with traps and things that have save or die effects, but I think the rest of the party becomes a vestigial limb at that point.

      Or am I looking at this wrong?

      • D. says:

        It may simply be a difference of DMing styles. But, as written, it only grants HP and combat ability (which I would interpret at THACO). No bonus to AC, no shift to Saving Throws, and in AD&D which is was originally written for a turn was 10 minutes/rounds not thirty minutes/rounds – but I’m not even worried about that difference personally.

        I’m just not somebody who see’s a problem with this set of bonuses and abilities.

        First, I have *lots* of way of getting rid of lots of extra HP if I want – just start dropping all of those AOE spells on top of the guy. Next, poison and death magic still work fine, plus there is the nasty side effect from smacking undead with it. So if I’m an NPC who has decided to “take that guy out” it really isn’t that much of a problem…

        I mean, if you want my couple of patented “no muss/no fuss” quick kill combo’s I’ll be happy to fill you in – just be prepared for the players to start using them as well.

        But let’s look at this from a Role-Play perspective.

        If the character isn’t already Evil or CN already, then he certainly will be very quickly after keeping this thing. There’s no curse forcing him to keep it, so sooner or later that sword’s Ego is going to force him to kill something if he’s trying to resist – and even the whole going out to kill things to feed the sword would be very hard to justify as “good”…

        Blackrazor is telepathic, and after nine days of not being fed it is automatically in a personality conflict with the character (Ego 16 + 3) – so I imagine it is constant demdning to be fed, day and night, waking and sleeping, and eventually the Ego will rise to the level that it can just dominate the character and force him to kill someone. It’s also Int 17, so it is about as crafty and nasty and logically convincing as you can get – cue alignment problems again. That’s assuming that you don’t start rolling for insanity or something like that…

        I’d probably start out with just have Blackrazor keep the character from sleeping long enough to drop their HP low enough that their personality strength dropped low enough for Blackrazor to dominate them into killing something.

        And even if we assume that you have a player who is ok with all of this, and is willing to kill something every couple of days, what group is going to want to hang around with him and risk getting soul-eaten – like when the character gets nailed with a Confusion spell and start swinging at anything nearby? And what ruler or lord is going to want the character around? How long before the character becomes the target for every evil guy who wants it (and his minions and hirelings) and every good guy who simply wants to destroy or lock up the sword itself?

        This is a great example of a magical item that you let you players choke on if they are dumb enough to keep it…

        D.

      • Having reread the description of Blackrazor, I discovered that it was worse than I thought.

        “On a killing stroke, Blackrazor temporarily adds the number of levels of the dead foe to its bearer’s levels (in terms of fighting ability). The bearer also temporarily gains the full hit points of the victim. All subsequent damage to the sword’s wielder is removed from the added hit points first. The extra levels and hit points last a number of turns equal to the number of levels received.”

        So it wasn’t the 3 turns thing (I don’t know where that came up) but rather 10 minutes per level slain. Now the worse way to read that sentence is that as long as you keep adding souls, the duration continues to increase (you kill 10 1HD orcs and it lasts 10 Turns). Alternatively, you can read it that you have to keep a separate record of each set of levels+hit points as they all have their own ‘ticker’. This is probably closer to what is intended but damn if that wouldn’t be a nightmare to keep track of.

        And yeah, it only increases someone’s ‘to hit’ ability and their staying power, which is mostly what a fighter needs. Granted, as you say, poison and death magic still work on the guy, sure. But that is stuff that already has to be there and will likely pose as much of a threat to the rest of the party as it will to this guy.

        But, since I’m talking about artifacts here (and I would treat Blackrazor as an Artifact, not simply an intelligent sword), I guess that’s not too out of line. I only play with the Law/Balance/Chaos alignment spectrum, so good and evil aren’t really a ‘factor’ (in that no one has them written on their sheets and it is more how they play their characters).

        Everyone who is chaotic will want it, everyone who is lawful will want to destroy it. And your party probably won’t want to hand out with you for certain.

        But I’m always game for more deadly DMing…what are your no fuss strategies?

      • D. says:

        *chuckle*

        This is probably worth a post on my blog all it’s own, but here are two really crazy ones – straight from the DMG.

        Dust of Sneezing and Choking – Large area of effect. Fail the save and die, make the save and you are “merely” incapacitated for multiple rounds unable to fight, cast spells, concentrate, etc due to the sneezing and choking. Cue somebody walking in and beating you to death.

        Rope of Entanglement – Automatic hit, no save, it binds multiple man-sized creatures up to be totally immobile – and can do so at a relatively decent range. Which means, per the DMG again, that a kobold with a sharp stick can walk up and poke you in the eye and kill you instantly.

        Also, as one last note, remember that Blackrazor isn’t going to drain diddly squat from anything that doesn’t have lifeforce…

        So golems and other magical automatons? Nada.

        Better yet, that necromancer with a gazillion puny skeletons? Or not-so-puny zombies? Zip and zilch. Betcha he’d really like Blackrazor…

        D.

  3. Arakhe says:

    Actually, with that description I’d even implement a round limit that you can have it drawn and in hand for. It’s, clearly, overpowered.

    • Yeah, indeed! Granted, in the original module, it neither gets used against the PCs nor is it /intended/ to end up with a PC (they are sent to retrieve stolen items for powerful patrons so they would be ‘forced’ to hand the sword over in the end). And in that situation, it’s ok. Maybe the PC is all badass for the rest of the module, but you get depowered at the end. However, I’d like to use it as a world item, and that requires rethinking it. Now, the weapon has drawbacks-every day you have it and don’t kill somebody there is a chance the weapon will take control and force you to murder someone…like your friend next to you. So that’s bad. There are a few other minor draw backs, but really the murder thing is the worst. So it’s not without problems. But a strong willed user could master it (or make sure they have condemned prisoners/goblins/whatever around to sate it periodically and avoid that little problem).

  4. […] yes. I’m writing articles about those as I go. You can find them […]

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