Hmmm...Bland but usable. Is there a reason he likes to kill people? Some scarring childhood incident with a kitchen blade? Does he have any hobbies aside from killing...something to breathe a little more personality into him?
Maybe you could be more specific about which artifact he recovered from the mountains. Or tell us who the wizard was, instead of just calling him "the wizard". How did he lose his fingers? I think this is part of what people mean by vague. It's a good start, though.
Strangely sinister. Another twist...maybe if you replace Duke Demolius with Lady Demolia, she could at some later date fall in love with a man with "auburn hair, dark-brown eyes, the height of 184 centimeters, slightly muscular"... He would never understand why it was she was so possessive of him, why she shuddered and panicked whenever there was a slight unexplained breeze. Maybe she would hire the players to protect him but obviously be unable to explain what it is she's so worried about...
Though I defer to the Expert in his judgement of your myth, I thoroughly enjoyed it! As for the item itself, I think it is brilliantly original. I love the idea of using it in an adventure: presumably the painter would have to carry an easel around too, which might be a little inconvenient during combat (unless it was surreptitiously fitted with blades!).
Sorry! I had meant to expand on that. The WLOG meant it could easily be adapted to a female (I chose to write as male for definiteness). The priest has an even more obvious application as a female: in less tolerant days when females were banned from the clergy, a female who tried to change things for the better would be a prime target for assassination. I'd conceived of using X as the adultress whose husband would find out, but being the mistress is also a cool idea.
I like the amount of detail and thought you've put into the execution of this plot, and the possibilities for adding twists and subplots. I think the premise for the plot is a little thin: what is the purpose of voyaging? Simply to satiate this old mariner's wanderlust? Surely he has tempted them with a promise, be it discovery of new lands, discovery of treasure... And is a desire for adventure all that's driven him back to the sea? Maybe he had unfinished business with the deep...
I love this! Combines dark (yet worryingly accurate!) parody with a fully workable and atmospheric setting for gaming. There is great potential for plots and interesting NPCs.
A couple more plot hooks
a) Exploit the town/gown rivalry: the people, fed up with the wizards and their unnatural research, take to the streets and lay siege/set fire to the colleges,
b) Maybe the players get lost in the library and can't find the way out. As readers of Terry Pratchett know, libraries can act as multidimensional plane-connecting conduits and you never know where they might end up (coincidentally, I'm currently running a campaign based in a library...),
By the way, what other colleges are there apart from Cornelius and Barnwell?
Indeed: the three submissions make a nice set. I think the elemental touch is good (the fire theme). The idea of a deathless warrior as phoenix is not something I'd come across before, and it's an interesting combination.
This introduces an interesting slant on the undead. The most terrifying thing about one slain by a vampire or taken by the Devil is that they are forever damned (in Dracula, the characters' main concern is that Lucy will not reach heaven; in Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, Faust cannot repent and be forgiven for he loses his soul). This item offers them a chance to have that afterlife they so desire. I envision repentant vampires actually seeking out Searren to ask for his "services" in helping them make the final transition...It brings up the interesting moral dilemma of euthanasia, especially if the undead in question was (in life) close to the character who wields the sword. For me that's what lifts this item away from simply being a glorified "sword +n vs undead" to being a thought-provoking and original submission.
I like this item very much. I can see it fitting into a stereotypical English setting, maybe in the home of an eccentric vicar who's full of surprises. Just one question: why would anyone think of trying to fit a child onto a tea tray?!
Love it. My PCs like quirky NPCs and I'd have counted this item as more of a character than anything! Just one question: I understand it's got to be specific to the challenged PC, but when you mention "intellectual and emotional" challenges, what sort of thing do you mean exactly?
I like the idea, and I like that you've given the item some history, but it doesn't GRAB me! It's a little too much like all those other cursed artefacts you might find: the One Ring for example. There needs to be something a little more to it, something which distinguishes it from the more mundane evil items. Maybe try to flesh out the story with more detail?
Wow! Sorry! Didn't notice it till now! I like the specificity! It's a whole adventure there, ready for a GM to use. It's well-balanced with plenty of good description and NPCs. Very Lovecraftian ;) nice work!