When Your Weapon Is Smarter Than You

Yes, I love intelligent weapons.

mcleanI say weapons because I had no problem with intelligent axes, maces, halberds or shields. In fact, the one intelligent shield I had was +3 with Fire Resistance, but with the personality that can be best described as a cross between Eeyore and Marvin the Paranoid Android. If you kept it long enough, you would go insane or change alignment.

The appeal of intelligent items for me was that it allowed me to be a member of the party. I had to play the intelligent weapon with its agenda and personality quirks. I enjoyed the players and me talking about "the plan" for what they would do next. The temptation, of course, was to use as a way to railroad the party, so I minimized the effect of weapons dominating their owners. I usually didn't roll it.

Back to the point, being an intelligent weapons allowed a different level of interaction. This could be serious interaction, but many times became something like this:

Here I am, the best shield on the planet and all you do is use me to cover your eyes from the sun. Isn't there a red dragon or remorhaz for us to attack?

Well, I like cutting things. After all, I am a sword, right? Well yeah, I'm a sword. I'm just saying that, well, you know, you could use that guy's dagger for cutting rope and stuff. I have, well, other plans for my life, you know? I'm meant for something greater, like killing ogres. Have I told you what ogres are like? They are big and smelly and should be totally wiped off the face of the planet. I mean, why did the gods bother with them at all. They are a blotch on the world and require excision in all haste. LOOK AN OGRE! MUST GO KILL NOW!

Hmm. Did you say something? Oh, well, I think going to town is just so much fun, but maybe we should go east. The town is just so, how shall I say, NORTH and WEST. I think going east would be advisable.

As strange as it may sound, having the sword (or shield or dirk or mace) interact with the players introduced a random element for them. It seemed that the characters were always amazed that the thing could talk. One time, a player was between adventures and noticed that his intelligent mace could speak Draconic. He asked if the mace could be his mentor to learn the Draconic language. Why not? I rolled it and he was successful.

He should have asked me what kind of dragon he talked like. :evil grin:

I liked intelligent weapons so much, I attempted to make them a character race/class. It had only six levels of advancement and the powers that were granted each level could be random determined at the player's choice. I had always mapped out the powers ahead of time, but sometime the players love their dice. If I could find the notes for the race/class, I'd include them here. I probably won't re-create them. I recall that it wasn't much fun to be an intelligent sword as a player.

On a different note, I loved loved loved the Deck of Many Things. I mention it here because one the cards in my deck was intelligent. It would provide a minor benefit all the time, but could provide a major benefit once, but then it would disappear. The card was always trying to convince the character that the major benefit wasn't really needed. If memory serves, I believe it was something like a +1 to hit all the time, but the ability to do 6d6 damage in a one time attack.

I know you're dying, but I really don't think that the big kaboom is needed. I mean, the other guys are bleeding less than you. They should be able to hold that thing off for a bit. What do you say?

He used the big attack. It wasn't required, but he threw the card at the demon to do the big attack. It worked as advertised.

Some Unique Magic Swords

and a staff or two.

As I am making my way through all the posts offered during the S&W Appreciation Day, this little booklet struck me almost immediately. This is one of those utilities that triggers something in my brain that says, this is EXACTLY what I want to do in my game.

I want every sword and magic item to be  unique because it makes a game setting more evocative. Then I sit down and attempt to do that and I think, just randomize the list in the S&W Complete book and be done with it. (I tried that, and it doesn't map to a randomizer in a spreadsheet very well at all.)

So when I happened upon this system that works for swords, staves, and frankly, just about any other magic item except potions, I immediately set to work on creating some swords.


AL:INT: 7 EGO: 4
Languages: Telepathic with wielder

+1 wooden blade forged by visitors from the future with a grip made of stone, +2 vs. sea creatures

Silence in 10' radius when sword is drawn from its scabbard.

Its name is revealed only when it is immersed in sea water for 1 round.


AL: N INT: 10 EGO: 11
Languages: Common, Giantish, Forgotten Language

+2 steel blade forged by a mad wizard with a grip made of copper.

Disable robot types for d6 turns (save allowed).
Emits light on demand per the Light spell

Its name (which means "versatile") is inscribed on the blade in a long forgotten language.


AL: L INT: 11 EGO: 3
Languages: Common, Giantish, Goblin

+2 steel blade forged by ancient aliens with a grip made of wood, +3 vs. dragons

When placed on the ground for one turn, it will point to the nearest dungeon exit
Sword can be set against a charge to deal damage like a pike
The wielder is immune to paralysis and petrification
The sword can Read Magic per the spell

Its name (which means "supreme king") is lost to mortal men.

If you want a good name generator that provides the meanings of names, go to Behind the Name Random Renamer. The site also has an anagram generator that could be useful as well.