Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A Tale of Two Swords

A parable about the importance of choosing names. This is a tale of two sapient swords, Perversion and Pervert.

Perversion

It probably looks something like this.
Crafted by the warlord Bamara Ondus in the second millennium before the Common Epoch, Perversion is a wicked sword: a slayer of Men, a burner of churches, and a bastion standing in opposition of Law. (They say Bamara Ondus forged the sword — or had it commissioned, sources differ — to launch a pogrom against the dragonborn of the northeastern Sorrowfell Plains. The fact that the sword is currently lost, as well as the prolonged existence of Archmagus Iandak Voiddrake, implies how well that went.)

Dedicated to the Demon Lord Baphomet, Perversion is as cunning as the demon lord in whose name it was forged. It is a +3 bastard sword, and Chaotic (Evil) in alignment. (If your system doesn't differentiate among different swords, treat it as a long sword.) In Labyrinth Lord, it has Intelligence 12 and Psyche 5, with a total Willpower 18. (In 5e terms, it has Intelligence 17, Wisdom 12, Charisma 18. If you're using another system, it should have an effective total Ego 18 with which to oppose characters, however that shakes out stat-wise. It's a fairly strong-willed sword.) It communicates telepathically with its wielder, an imperious voice resonating in the skull. It wishes to smite the Lawful and reward the ambitious, eventually uplifting the cause of Chaos amidst the ruins of civilization.

Perversion is adept at navigating mazes and smiting the weak. It can detect secret doors and sloping passages within 10'. When it attacks a foe, its damage dice "explode" — so if you roll an "8" on that 1d8, roll another d8. (If you roll additional dice on a crit, go ahead and assume all of them "explode.") While holding Perversion, the wielder regenerates 1 hit point per round.

It is intelligent enough to suggest its wielder engage subtly, although it relishes any opportunity to goad its wielder into berserker rages and glorious combat.

Pervert

Maybe a little like this.
Urrion Slenderblade forged this magic blade millennia ago in an attempt to remove parts of his own id he considered strange or shameful. The histories do not record whether he was ultimately successful in hiding his urges in swords, but they do record at least one sword he forged. Although it is more properly known by its Elvish name, Solavelque ("the sword of forgotten memory"), it is more frequently called by its Common moniker, Pervert.

According to the tales, Urrion instilled his sexual urges into this blade, to "better purify himself for the trials ahead." (The tales don't record what these trials were or why he potentially considered his sexuality shameful — most elves don't dwell overmuch on that sort of thing, although it is possible that his tribe had certain unrecorded rituals or taboos that might shed light on this strange practice.) Pervert counts as a +1 rapier, Chaotic (Neutral) in alignment. In Labyrinth Lord, it has Intelligence 10 and Psyche 5, with a total Willpower 15. (In 5e terms, it has Intelligence 16, Wisdom 10, Charisma 15. If you're using another system, it should have an effective total Ego 15 with which to oppose characters, however that shakes out stat-wise. It's a moderately strong-willed sword.) It speaks its desires aloud, a reedy voice capable of speaking Common, Elvish, Sylvan, Gnomish, or Chaotic (Neutral).

Pervert detects gems and jewelry within 60', invisible or hidden creatures within 20', and has the unique ability to sense the gender identities and sexual proclivities of sapient creatures within 10'. This is very much based on how a given creature perceives itself, and so is mutable from moment to moment. Beyond just sexual inclination, this also gives an inclination of symbolic societal gender roles as the person understands them — are they aggressive or nurturing, for instance? (Astute observers no doubt recognize this last sense as the first channel of The Sexual Rebis avatar from Unknown Armies.)

Pervert doesn't have motivations or goals, per se, but it is an expression of its creator's repressed desires without the mediating influence of nerves, time, or a sense of scale. If the Referee wants to include Pervert, they have to make a decision as to how weird or pushy the sword is about its appetites. I left the sword's convictions deliberately vague, as well as whatever Urrion considered "shameful." It could be anything from the sword pining over a lost love that Urrion considered a distraction, to straight-up Slaanesh worship. You have to judge what works best for your player group, whether it should be dramatic, tragic, comedic, or grotesque. (Personally, I'd go for whatever mood is most currently lacking.)

The obligatory warning: This is not an excuse to push your players into an uncomfortable situation. If they don't want to deeply delve into the psychology of a sapient sword and its long-dead Elven creator, Pervert is not the sword for them.

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