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Monday, February 22, 2010

Intelligent Weapons

An oft-overlooked, but useful tool for the Referee is the Intelligent Weapon. For my games, Intelligent Weapons usually make an appearance in some memorable way. I ran a Sacrred Lands campaign (before the Termana sourcebook came out) and it mentioned that gnomes were wiped out during the Scarred Lands' Divine War. I happen to like gnomes, but I adhered to the setting's gnomes-are-a-dead-race history. Enter the Intelligent Short Sword "Seeker". Of gnomish creation, this weapon was moderately enchanted and had the mind/personality of its gnome creator. Of course no one could read the gnomish runes on the blade, or understand it when it spoke it's native gnomish tongue (no had the spells that would allow them to at that point). Eventually the character who 'owned' Seeker got in touch with his 'inner gnome' and learned alot about the dead race. The sword was even a valuable party a point. Eventually though, Seeker's owner had enough of Seeker and its lamenting of 'gnoming around alone' for the rest of eternity so the dude made a wish that a gnome worthy of wielding Seeker would come to him...and *poof* there stood a bewildered and confused gnome, ready to smite the party (he was taken out of the Divine War at the moment he was about to assassinate the gnoll general responsible for wiping out the last gnomish hold...weird time travel conundrums...). It took alot of convincing, but they gifted Seeker to him and eventually they went into the sunset.

My rules for creating intelligent weapons is simple. I don't follow the whole 'has a purpose or special enemy' reasoning to creating one. Just let the dice fall where they may. I will make one suggestion: don't just randomly throw one in. Think about where it came from, what it's seen and what goals it may have. That may sound strange, but if you were trapped in an inanimate object forever wouldn't you have a hobby to keep you sane (even if it is killing orcs just for the kicks).

Intelligent Weapons
  • 10% of magical swords (5% of other weapons) of +1 or greater possess an Intelligence and generally can communicate with their bearers mentally, and often (25% chance) can speak audibly.
  • There is a 10% chance that such a weapon may have the ability to cast spells with a caster level of 1d4+1.
  • Randomly determine the ‘race’ of the intelligence inhabiting the weapon. The weapon can impart the intelligence’s racial abilities (usually limited to detection-type abilities, but others at the Referee’s discretion) on the wearer as well.
  • Randomly determine the weapon’s Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma. These scores, added together, are the weapon’s base Willpower score. If the weapon and owner disagree, the character and weapon compare their Willpower scores, plus the roll of a d20. The side with the highest total wins the contest of wills. If the weapon wins, it can force the owner to do the action it desires for up to 1 turn.


Jensan Thuresson said...

Intelligent weapons are absolutely much more interesting than "regular" magic weapons. It's a bigger chance I'll remember a weapon than tends to behave in its way, than yet another "+1 dagger".
Good post!

James Bobb said...

This is true, and I love using them to give the players insight into things about the game world that really doesn't have any great impact on what they may be doing at the moment, but gives them tidbits of information that makes the world their characters live in feel more organic.

I'm glad you liked the post. :o)