Melee Weapons
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January 17, 2007, 9:40 am

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Karlek's Blade of Stolen Souls


A masterwork katana meant to give souls to the undead.

Karlek’s Blade of Stolen Souls is a long, black blade, in the oriental style. Shined to a mirror polish, the steel of the curved, single edged blade appears to be obsidian, with runes of a putrescent green emitting a sickly glow from beneath its surface. The hilt is wrapped in a strangely textured leather, one that may well be recognized for what it is: The tanned hide of a human being. Companion to the blade is a disturbing amulet, the preserved eye of a man grasped by a miniature, skeletal hand, constructed of silver. This amulet is generally hung from a twisted cord of the same leather that wraps the hilt.

Magical Properties:

In the hands of a living mortal, or even immortal, this dark blade is a particularly fell weapon, for he who has been most recently slain by the weapon cannot be ressurected by any means. The wielder may even hear the screaming, tortured voice of the victim in his mind’s ear, though he will not be able to find the source of the voice. The blade cannot be chipped, dulled, or broken in combat by weapons or armor of no enchantment, and to shatter it will take significant magic. Still, it will grant neither boon nor curse to its living wielder in combat, although its magical nature allows it to strike magical, and even ephemeral beings.

However, it is in the hands of the risen dead that the blade takes upon its full potential. Ensorceled by the necromancer Karlek, the Blade of Stolen Souls was his way of giving the single most powerful of his mindless, soulless servants the edge it needed to defeat those who stood against him. The edge of life. When it strikes a mortal blow in combat, it absorbs the soul of the victim, while simultaneously releasing any soul previously absorbed. There is no other way to release a soul from the sword short of miraculous magics. To free a soul, another must be taken.

The creature who wields the Blade of Stolen Souls will, over time, become to physically resemble the man most recently slain. However, the body will remain pale and cold, no breath will animate it, yet there will be an intelligence, a life, in the eyes. Furthermore, the soul in the sword will have full control over the body of the creature, and access to any abilities or skills, including arcane, but not divine, magics he may have possessed in life, as well as any abilities he may have as an undead creature. Ability scores come solely from the soul in the blade, equal to what they would have been in life, however, as undead do not feel pain, hit points should be scaled upwards appropriately. Injuries will heal swiftly, and in general, if the body is not re-slain, even the most traumatic injuries will last only a day or so. The normal resistances and disabilities of undeath apply, and the combined creature may be turned as intelligent undead of the same power as the soul in life. If the undead creature is re-slain or otherwise destroyed, the sword will need a new host. Further, the blade must be on the creature’s person, either in its hand or worn in a sheath, or else the creature will mentally revert within minutes, and physically revert to a typical, mindless zombie, within a day.

However, needless to say, the soul in the body usually isn’t terribly eager to be a good servant. Thus, the amulet. As a part of the enchantment that fetters souls to the sword, they are fettered also by the amulet, but in a different fashion. They must obey the wearer of the amulet, and look out for his best interests. Further, the soul knows that should the amulet be destroyed, he himself will be rent asunder, denied the afterlife forever. What they don’t know is that should they come to possess the amulet themselves, they will become free-willed, as opposed to enslaved.

As a part of that control, the holder of the amulet is capable of hearing, and even altering, the thoughts of the undead creature. Often, the creature will believe that its orders are its own idea, and will be quite happy when it seems to quell the urges that they had. The holder of the amulet may turn this ability on and off at will, the undead creature, of course, has no choice in the matter, and cannot tell the difference between on and off. Bonding at this level is exceedingly difficult and oft sanity warping for both parties involved.

Finally, the holder of the amulet may choose to keep the soul inside the blade when it strikes a killing blade, as opposed to exchanging it for the new one, but he must be aware that the magic of the exchange is occuring. He will /not/ be appraised of the full extent of the abilities of the new soul before the exchange takes place, though, at GM’s discretion, he may or may not know the character class of the victim, types of magic the victim utilized, or his approximate level, in comparison to the soul in the blade, in general, or any reasonable combination thereof.

The enchantment is capable of discerning between sentient and non-sentient creatures, and while an elf may find himself living the disturbing un-life of a zombie, creatures such as cows and penguins will generally not be absorbed, lacking sufficient soul-stuff to trigger the enchantment of the blade. Similiarly, exceptional creatures may be beyond the power of the blade to absorb. An elder dragon would know how to fight viciously for its freedom to enter the afterlife, and celestial/infernal beings would be much less than amused. As always, GM’s discretion applies, though the suggestion is made that the victims be tempered towards the mid-teir of adventurers: Exceptionally favored servants of gods and particularly skilled arcanists would likely be able to evade the magic of the blade, though even epic level fighters are more succeptable.

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Comments ( 5 )
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December 28, 2003, 20:00
If it's a katana, wouldn't the necromancer's name be something more like Karreku? After all, that is the "Japanized" form of Karlek.
Or did this katana come into Karlek's hands through traders from the east?
December 29, 2003, 1:17
Not qualified to question the language issue...

Other than that, it is an interesting weapon. The second device holds

Question 1: Why isn't the soul transfered into the undead? That way the sword could be passed amongst his most powerful and they could all have the edge of life? This would make sense if they were gaining the spirit/ skills/ looks of the soul they first had absorbed.

Question 2: That soul could not be "moved on" until that undead was destroyed. So what about that part?

Question 3: Will the amulet's power work if seperated from the first part of the set?
Siren no Orakio
December 29, 2003, 18:08
Added a little more detail to the control amulet, to clarify my visions of it.

For the Captain's question, I would say that a katana guarantees the presence of the Japanese language about as much as a longbow guarantees the presence of the English language. The katana is simply a particular way of engineering a sword, one that I'm kind of fond of. If you were running an Asian campaign, though, yes, a change of name would be appropriate.

For MoonHunter
Q1: The primary idea behind this was not so much to create a legion of quasi-liches, but a single, leashed lieutenant. Basically, it's the balancing point between the necromancer's paranoia and the sword's power. By making the sword a phylactery of sorts, he can assert greater control over the creature. Further, if the soul in the creature is too powerful for him to handle comfortably, all he needs to is disarm it. (And I felt it a good place to put the limit of the power for munchking purposes. I clone myself and make all my clones into sentient regenerating zombies! Bwahahah!)

Q2: If you allowed full passage, then, I'd have to rule that you need a new soul for each zombie/skeleton you wanted to empower. The sword can't create the stuff of life, it can only steal it. I'd also say that once drained, the sword would indeed be empty, and freedom for the soul would entail destruction of the body.

Q3: The amulet is basically the key to the undead sword-creature's mind. Without the sword, it's pretty useless, since it can't control undead in general. The power is functional at extreme range.
Voted Chaosmark
April 19, 2007, 22:14
Comments and votes are goooooood! Vote people vote! Vote people vote!

Anyway, I recall reading this a long while back, and I still see it as being a quite useful item for a GM to add into a plot or scenario. I'm seeing a necromancer using this to slowly take down better and better opponents, capturing each in turn, until he has the best swordsman-zombie in the world. What a lieutenant to have, eh? Then the PCs have to fight the zombie-lieutenant, and pray that they don't get captured themselves.

Man, I love the potential of some of these old submissions...
Voted valadaar
March 28, 2014, 11:23
This is a pretty neat item, if a bit specialized. It provides an opportunity for a player to become an undead and create a quest for the surviving party.

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