Thursday, February 28, 2019

52 Weeks of Magic - 10 of 52 - Sorrow

This week's magic item is a sword with a terrible curse. The sword's name is Dolorem, but anyone witnessing it's power will it render it's name in the common tongue: "Sorrow".

The sword is both a defensive and offensive weapon. Merely having the weapon in ones possession conveys a -1 to AC. Offensively, it is a +2 weapon and when drawn, immediately confers the same bonus as bless spell upon the wielder and his or her compatriots within the range of the spell (5"x 5" square). All opponents within the area of effect will be afflicted with a reverse of this blessing (blight), a -1 to hit and a -1 to morale. Everyone except for the wielder is entitled to a saving throw vs. this effect. The wielder effectively has a weapon which is +3 to strike and +2 to damage.

The cursed nature of this sword becomes apparent when combat begins. Anyone under the effect of the blessing or blight is consumed with a bloodlust for whoever they were arrayed against. They will find themselves unable to stop attacking opponents, until they are all dead. Combatants will strike at even unconscious or helpless foes. Sheathing Sorrow, being disarmed or otherwise losing the sword does not change this status until all opponents are dead or removed from the battlefield.

If someone is forcibly removed from combat, knocked out, completely restrained or otherwise prevented from fighting, they will becomes sick for 8 hours. All of their abilities drop by 1 for this time. Being teleported away from combat could end the curse, but this separation must be far enough to make rejoining the battle impractical. For example, being teleported into a cage, to the top of a cliff or tower, or into a significant body of water will all end the curse. Remember, the people affected by the curse will immediately become sick and weak when forced from combat. Being stuck in a web or paralyzed will also cause the curse to end.

The curse is limited to those within a 5" x 5" square when the sword is drawn. Anyone outside of this area will not understand the nature of the problem, unless they have encountered it themselves. The sword causes mayhem, as some people in combat will not be affected by the curse.

If a character has been previously witnessed the curse (but not necessarily affected by it), they are entitled to a +2 on their saving throw, but this is a choice of the player in question, not a requirement. Anyone affected by the blight will certainly invoke this bonus.

If the sword is drawn and sheathed multiple times in a single combat, nothing further happens. It cannot effect more people by sheathing and redrawing or force another saving throw. However, if one combat ends and new opponents appear later, the sword can be drawn again to invoke the curse again.

Sorrow does not compel the owner to draw it, nor does it compel the owner to use the sword in combat. If a person is helpless, sleeping, unconscious, etc. when Sorrow is drawn, the are not subject to the compulsion to fight when they wake nor does anyone with the bloodlust see them as a valid target so they do not gain a bonus to strike. Sorrow cannot compel people unwilling or unable to fight, nor does it allow the bloodlust to be used against them.

If the owner attempts to draw the sword against the helpless, not only will the curse fail to trigger, their companions may think less of them. Much less. Retainers, hirelings and followers may end their relationship with the owner if this happens.

Sorrow has empathic and telepathic powers, but is not intelligent. The owner will immediately be aware of the curse, so the invocation of curse cannot be an accident. Sorrow's curse may only be invoked by the owner and only if the owner desires a fight. Merely unsheathing the weapon for cleaning, inspection, appraisal, etc. does nothing. The owner must have an intelligence greater than 5 to invoke the curse.

In the unusual circumstances that someone other than the owner draws the sword with the intention to strike anyone, not only will they be unable to invoke the curse, they will lose 1 point from every ability for 24 hours. They need to make a saving throw vs spells to avoid passing out. Sorrow's curse cannot be invoked if the owner is charmed or otherwise compelled to draw the weapon. Characters struggling over the weapon cannot invoke the curse, unless the owner draws it to defend themselves. Having the sword unsheathed by magic spells or powers also does not invoke the curse.

If remove curse is cast upon Sorrow, it is demagiked for 1 hour and the bloodlust immediately for all involved. This does not cause weakness like being prevented or removed from a fight. The owner is not compelled to use the weapon, so a remove curse spell will not cause them to set it aside. Any time the weapon is sheathed, the owner can choose not to use it.

Sorrow's sheath is not special in any way and any proxy for a sheath can be used, such a wrapping the sword in a cloth, putting it away in a backpack, a chest, etc. If Sorrow is found without a sheath, anyone picking the weapon up will still be affected by the weapon's benefits, but cannot trigger the curse until one of the conditions above occur. The owner will also know this limitation.

Navigation:
Week 1 of 52 - Magic Lamps
Week 2 of 52 - The Rat Bag
Week 3 of 52 - Emulous Cursed Sword
Week 4 of 52 - The Cloak of Peaceful Repose
Week 5 of 52  - The Cowl of Death
Week 6 of 52 - Scimitar of Smiting
Week 7 of 52 - The Symbol of Sol Invictus
Week 8 of 52 - The Equi Phalera
Week 9 of 52 - Libertatem
Week 10 of 52 - Sorrow
Week 11 of 52 - Aemilla Carna
Week 12 of 52 - The Obice Cardeam
Week 13 of 52 - The Gnollish Rattlebone

Now, the commercial. I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG. I am obviously thinking of writing another and Gnolls might be the subject. Please let me know what you think in the comments. 

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