Monday, March 2, 2015

Purposed Items in Swords & Wizardry

One of my favorite things in fantasy literature and RPGs is the idea of weapons which are sentient (or semi-sentient) and driven to a purpose. Elric and Stormbringer. Tomas and the Armor of Ashen-Shugar, and of course The One Ring and Frodo Baggins. In Swords & Wizardry White Box this is something that isn't addressed - and as a retro-clone of original "brown box" D&D, I can understand why. However, it is something I like to include in my games and keeping in mind the streamlined style of White Box I've attempted to create a simplified system for including weapons with ego and purpose in my games.

"The Ring is mine."

Purposed Item

Purposed Items are an extremely rare type of magic item. There is a 1% chance that any Greater,  Intelligent Weapon, or Unusual Armor is a Purposed Item. These exotic artifacts have the will and essence of a living being bound inside them. That spirit lives on in the item, hoping beyond death to achieve some lofty goal. Perhaps a powerful sword seeks to lead the greatest army the world has ever known, or an enchanted circlet is bound with a soul who wishes to once again rule the world as they did in a time before memory. The referee should develop the exact history and personality of each Purposed Item.

Purposed Items are always intelligent and always able to communicate with their wielder, either through empathic impulse (65%), telepathy (30%), or in rare cases, audibly (5%). Each time the wielder uses a Purposed Item, he must make a saving throw. If that saving throw fails, the wielder is compelled to follow the will of the purposed item for one round. If the Purposed Item is able to maintain control over the wielder for a number of consecutive rounds equal to or higher than the level of the wielder, the Purposed Item gains permanent control over the wielder. The wielder has become a vessel for the will of the Purposed Item itself.

Purposed Items can only be destroyed by specific and unique means. Perhaps a weapon must be melted down in the fire of an ancient dragon or a evil ring must be worn for a full lunar cycle by a pure and uncorrupted soul. The method of destruction is always tied to the history of the object and is often nearly impossible to accomplish.

"Well, then—let it be thus so—and men will have cause to tremble and flee
when they hear the names of Elric of Melinbone and Stormbringer, his sword."

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