Sunday, 16 July 2017

Tools of the trade: Blessings and curses (part2)

A weapon can sometimes become magical of its own, with no particular intervention. Take durandal, Roland’s sword. It was more resilient than any other sword, but nowhere will you find any trace of magic being applied to the blade. A weapon may become imbued by many ways. Whatever the way, it will take time; so much time in fact that the “magical” effect will often be available only after the hero’s death, not before.

- The egregor way : if enough people think an item has magical properties, there is 2/6 chances it will really develop those. We’re talking about at least 2000 people, for at least a year. The people need to be really convinced of the stuff.

- The loving way: This hero wouldn’t think about using another weapon than his trusted blade, and would rather jump into danger to fetch it than leave it in another man’s hands. He passes all his free time and downtime caring about his weapon, oiling it, sharpening it, tending to it. Such a weapon has 2/6 chances to develop “magical” properties.

- The habit way: The wielder is a professional Ork Hunter, he spent his life hunting Orks, using that very weapon; there are 2/6 chances that the weapon will develop ork hunting “magical properties”

Those are of course cumulative and compatible. Our ork hunter (let’s call him Crazy bill) may well place so much faith in its weapon that it cares about it over anything else (my only companion), which will lead many an adjoining soldier to believe the weapon is magical (say twelve thousands in the last orkish crusade); In this case, the weapon will have (2+2+2=6) / 6 chances to develop magical properties.

Crazy bill will become famous for its blade, carreer, and longevity; talk about it! Still fighting orks, at 75 years old? Of course, we know it’s been 25 years since the blade developed its first power (+1 on all to hit rolls against orks), and  developed four more since then (another +1 to hit, a +1 damage, and critical hit on 10, 11 or 12, all only applicable when fighting orks). That helps.
But it has a price: Crazy bill started his career at 15. He uses his blade ever since. Of course the weapon has been repaired so many times there is almost nothing left of the original material but in Bill’s mind, it is still the same sword! So, for 35 years (from 15 to 50), he uses the blade, and become good with it, and kills so many orks he stops counting. As he turns 50,  he starts to wither, and his skills and abilities diminish, but then the sword takes over by compensating the growing weaknesses of the hero.
One day, Bill will die, and give his sword to his most trusted lieutenant. The lieutenant, traumatised by war, will quit the ork hunters and become a drunk. He will finally sell the sword to buy booze (“at least three bottles man! This here blade is Crazy Bill’s  Ork-slayer! Genuine!”); and so the sword enters in legend.
Imbued items will keep growing in power with time, if the conditions are still ongoing. The caretaker doesn’t have to be the same person, for example, the dwarves’s fabled Hammer of Kings is indeed imbued, and quite powerful, but it took seventy generations of kings to empower it so.

An imbued power will always be closely related to the activities of the wearer, for they are born from legend, and legend is born from fact.
Items other than weapons can also be imbued, the coat of a very stealthy thief, the gloves of a healer, the crown of a very wise king…

There are two ways an item may become cursed. Either someone put a curse on it (see blessings and reverse) or through the imbuing process.
A “spell-curse” can be lifted by a high level priest. See The Arena for details on that.
An “imbued” curse cannot be lifted in any way (well maybe the intervention of a god, but which one would care to do it?). It is permanent, or at least cannot leave the item (whether the hero can leave the item behind is another matter entirely). What’s tricky with this type of curse is that the item is usually also magical, with powerful properties; and then there is the curse.
Consider the Great Bow of Menil Argy, which may well be the most famous cursed items of all: It is a great bow (2 hands, range 1-5, damage D6+1, critical Damage x2) with two properties: it gives a massive +3 to hit and damage against all enemies of the elves (yes, that’s a lot of people); once per day, when hunting only, it insta-kills one target. But, it also has a curse: the holder can never set foot in any house, can never go back home, and will be hated and hunted by any elf recognising the bow (and yes, that’s a lot of people too). So, a perfect weapon for a woodsman, which incidentally makes the most powerful dwellers of the woods want to kill you.


Well, most curse don’t prevent the wearer to let the item go. Some require him to give the item to somebody, others to sell it; even heard of one that should be sold for a smaller price than you bought it; and then, there are those few that you cannot get rid of. This can manifest in several ways:

- The hero doesn’t even imagine getting rid of the item, and becomes aggressive when someone else suggests it.

- The item always comes back; it is lying by the bed the next morning, wherever you dumped it. Or someone brings it back.

- If the item is given up, the hero will feel uneasy at first, then (the day after) he looses 1 points of PHY, and another one two days later, and so on until his PHY score reaches –1 (he then dies). If the item is retrieved, all lost points come back in an instant.

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