Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Real Magic Items: creepy magic weapons

Back in the day, everyone wanted Blackrazor, the nasty Stormbringer knock-off from White Plume Mountain. There were two other powerful magic items in that module of comparable power - the trident Wave and the hammer Whelm.

Why the Blackrazor love? Some of it might have had to do with its form factor (a sword) and powers (soul-stealing). On the other hand, there were - if I remember correctly - some serious consequences for wielding it. I think a lot of the appeal simply had to do with the visuals - Blackrazor was described as appearing to be made out of the night sky, or something like that. (It has been a long time.) It was cool.

So, just for fun, I thought I'd offer some cool visuals and effects that you could apply to magic weapons in your games. These won't have a serious effect on their power level - they just up the coolness (and occasionally the creepiness) factor.

  • The flat of the weapon's blade is covered with a low relief of multiple faces. When the blade is bloodied, the blood seeps into the mouths of the faces. A clear gem on the pommel darkens as the faces drink blood, but generally becomes clear again over the course of a day or two. This blade never needs cleaning from bloodstains.
  • This cold-based weapon appears to be made of actual ice. In warm environs, it is slick to the touch, but it does not actually drip moisture. When the weapon is looked at closely, a tiny, vaguely humanoid figure can be seen inside it. Usually, it appears frozen in place... but sometimes it seems to be moving... until it notices it is being watched.
  • This weapon is covered in tiny holes. Strange, beetle-like creatures swarm from the holes, entering the wounds of those damaged by the weapon.
  • This weapon, though it feels solid, appears to be made of wavering smoke. In combat, tendrils of smoke will hungrily reach out from the weapon towards the wielder's foes.
  • The wood on this weapon begins to show signs of rot when the weapon has spent significant amoutns of time unused. Though this does not seriously affect its use, it is unpleasant. Upon tasting blood, the rot immediately begins to fade, and (with repeated use), the wood begins to grow a smooth bark.
  • This fire-based weapon does not actually bear flame itself. Rather, it appears to be made of a craggy charcoal-like substance. In use, it glows red with interior heat. It will light combustible materials if touched to them, and - in doing so - lets out a hissing noise that sounds like a satisfied sigh. When brought close to such materials, but not allowed to light them, it releases a faint discomfited moan.

6 comments:

SeiferTim said...

Those are all very, very creepy :)

Donny_the_Dm said...

nice...

love the cool and creepy gear, problem is - they are such a pain in the arse to work with. Like intelligent weapons :)

Excellent visuals though, purely excellent.

I gave a soul stealing shortsword to a NE rogue some time back - it responded to empathic cues, so every time the PC got angry with someone, the weapon would appear in his hand.

That was bad enough - but the sword's pommel was a shrieking demon head and backbone, with the blade being it's long kris shaped tongue. It was a nasty piece of work that "drooled" acid as well.

szilard said...

@seifertim - Thanks!

@donny - Why do you find them a pain?

PatrickWR said...

Great idea! I'm totally ripping this off for my campaign.

Scott said...

Never underestimate the power of cool special effects.

My own personal favorite was The Sword of Black Lace, which appeared to be nothing more than a large piece of that material but unfolded into a blade.

It was an intelligent weapon with telepathy, but it rarely "spoke." When it did, its voice was that of an old lady. Very grandmotherly. Its most common quote: when unfolded and wielded, it would say, very warmly, "Let's go kill something, dearest."

I think it had a special property that poisoned its targets, too. Because, you know, arsenic and old lace.

Anand said...

Great post, specially on Halloween. I expanded your ideas with names and corresponding weapons from the PHB and Adventurer's Vault and I'll post tomorrow in my RPG blog. It's in Brazilian Portuguese, so beware! ;)