A thousand years past, in the land now known as the Cold Kingdom, or Theos
Yevin was the last of his order to still draw breath, but not the last to walk the earth.
That morning, the knights of his order had ridden out into the field against Saravic the Black. The fell sorcerer had finally pushed the order into action, and the full might of the order's knighthood was unleashed against him. Surely he would fall to their shining swords.
By pure happenstance he was not to join them. A bad fall during a sparring session turned his ankle, and the order rarely used its healing arts on such and injury. Instead, he stayed behind at the castle, along with the men-at-arms and the many other denizens of castle.
What exactly transpired in the fields outside the Sorcerer's keep, none living know, and the dead did not tell. What is known is that the host of knights was late returning, and when they returned, instead of flush with victory, instead they shambled on in the grip of death.
Yevin, having waited for their return, fearful that something fell may have transpired, looked upon the shattered, corrupted knighthood with dread, despair and rage. Still hobbled by his injury, he rallied the shaken men-at-arms of the keep against the shambling horde, and even as he fought against his dead comrades, his spirit cried out at the injustice of it all.
Now, normally the Gods of the realm were aloof and fickle, but this once, the Lord of Justice, Guardian of the Gates of the Greenlands, heard the plea. Perhaps spurred by guilt over prior inaction, he imbued Yevin's sword with great divine energies.
Yevin did not know of his God's intervention until the next strike of his sword. The armored corpse's eyes suddenly cleared of their glaze, and without a moment's hesitation, turned on its feet and marched back, through the swarm of corpses behind. Unconcerned with the dead, the remaining horde pressed on against Yevin.
Again and again he struck, clearing the minds and purifying the spirits of the horde. But even as he thinned the numbers, their strikes, clumsy as they were, still occasionally landed, and his strength grew weary.
Finally, spent beyond belief, even his virtuous heart failed, and he fell. A succession of men-of-arms took up the sword and fought against the diminishing horde until finally, the last dead knight had turned it's heel.
Again, little is known of what transpired thereafter, but those who cautiously visited Saravic's hold, found it had been torn to pieces, stone by stone, and no trace of the sorcerer could be found. All about were the dead knights, laying upon the ground with their hands crossed on their chests..
The surviving men-at-arms reestablished the order, and retained the sword as a holy relic. The late Yevin was raised as a Saint, and the continued power of the sword held as proof of his status. When the Great Usurpation cast down most of the Thosian pantheon, the order was forced into hiding and took with them the sword to parts unknown.
The Great Usurpation and other details of the Theosian pantheon will be the subject of a future sub, but in short, one god out of a pantheon of 12 managed to gain control and cast the out the other eleven. References to them were destroyed and those who continued to worship them were treated harshly as heretics.
Full Item Description
This weapon has a rather plain, utilitarian appearance - an unadorned double-edged 3' blade, simple straight guard, shark-leather grip and large, pear-shaped pommel. The pommel bears also the maker's runes.
The Blade is a very powerful divinely enchanted sword, with the purpose of providing redemption to the walking dead, or failing that, laying them to rest. Against the living, the blade is nothing more then a well crafted sword. Against the dead, however, it holds far greater power. Unless said undead is of divine power, or protected by similarly strong magic, they may be struck by this weapon.
Once struck or touched by the blade (through subterfuge, for example) several powerful effects are visited upon the entity. Any insanities, memory loss,hungers, charms, bindings or similar effects clouding the mind of the victim is temporarily cleared, leaving the mind in a lucid, uninfluenced form. The entity now is given full freedom to act and will know who or what caused it to become undead.
Free of influences, the undead can then be dealt with as a rational, non-psychotic being. They can then choose their path - Death, Vengeance against those who were controlling it or caused them to become undead, or to Reject redemption and continue their fight with the bearer of the sword.
If they select Death, then they collapse and their spirit is sent on to it's final judgement.
If Vengeance, then they are given a period of time to visit their Vengeance - the duration depending on their strength of spirit. At the end, they also collapse and their spirit will carry on to it's final judgement. In lieu of Vengeance, one final task could also be undertaken - saying farewell to loved ones, for example.
If they Reject redemption, then they suffer a short period of disorientation as emotions within them war, and then they can resume where they were before being touched by the sword. Thereafter, additional strikes can either attempt again to Redeem, or will act as very damaging strikes, at the option of the sword bearer.
If the blade is willingly used for evil by the bearer, it will never again employ the Redeeming properties while carried by this individual.
Plot Ideas/Campaign Use
This sword is perhaps too specialized to become a PC's primary weapon, and yet is too powerful and valuable to simply be a secondary or tertiary weapon. It is best used as a powerful holy relic that occasionally is needed by the PCs.
One of the PCs or an important NPC has been slain and drawn into the ranks of the undead - the PC's must acquire this weapon and then strike down the individual with this blade. Neither task should be very easy - the sword is either lost in some undead-infested location (borne there during a failed crusade) or in the possession of secretive holy order who would be unwilling to give up the sword. Managing to find the affected PC/NPC could be a major adventure in itself, as they will be unwilling to subject themselves to the swords tender mercies.
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? Responses (16)
I wonder if this can affect Greater Undead?
If you want it to.
"Unless said undead is of divine power, or protected by similarly strong magic, they may be struck by this weapon."
Depends on what you consider similarly strong magic.
Now, if the being rejects Redemption (ie, a lich who willingly took this form), then they are subject to a powerful magic attack which temporily 'stuns' them. Of course your game system could allow for a roll against this effect.
Hmmm... I think I like it.
Genuine divine artifacts should be rare, powerful, and a bit awkward in the common day... and this one fits the bit perfectly. Plus the backstory is good, the power is well defined, and the usage well analyzed.
I like it.
A very interesting power for role playing purposes, especially if its a campaign where undead arent mindless automatons, but detailed and developed. I'm pretty sure I havent seen that concept anywhere else. Great idea, val!
The explanation confused me in chat a bit, but having read this, I'm all set now. As manfred said, nice background and well-defined power. Also, as Chaosmark said, i like it!
I don't think I will ever again run a campaign where the undead are mindless automatons when/if I do. Even the lowest undead should be the subject of both pity and horror.
For game systems that have 'turn undead' powers, this effect could be used to replace it or add variety to the priesthoods.
Interesting backstory with good effects.
I am sure anyone who weilds this blade his hunted by "Forces of Evil" who want to make sure that this item's power are never used for Good again.
Could that be the reason why the aforementioned group is secret? Ah-hah!
Another piece of the puzzle fell into place, and a little 'penalty' for the item, so to speak. :)
A potent artifact for the cause of justice. I particularly like the tale of the sword's powers and history. The description of what it does is clear and original. In many ways, the sword reminds me of the Clark Ashton Smith tale The Two Necromancers.
I could see a plot where an undead needs to be "redeemed" so that the deceased can pass on information that has been lost since he was slain. Since the sword is a treasured relic, hidden away (if not lost), perhaps the undead needs to be captured instead of being destroyed, then brought to the sword's location.
I like it. I agree that undead should not be mindless.
Whee. That is all.
A handy weapon, with a unique secondary ability over the undead. It does raise an interesting small question though. What of the long dead that were resurrected by necromantic magic? (Those who died days or weeks earlier and been laid to rest in the proper ceremonies before their corpses were raised as undead.)
Since they're spirits had likely "moved on" could the sword some how drag the spirit back to it's body one last time? Or in those cases would the strikes merely be severely damaging?
That small inquiry aside I really do like the weapons origin and it's overall plain appearance that could allow it to go unnoticed for some time if recovered by a wandering adventurer off the corpse of the previous owner. (A holy blessing would unlikely radiate magic either.)
A fun variation on the otherwise over done "magic sword" I can see a use for this in my current Palladium Fantasy campaign. :)
My take on undead is that you cannot have 'moved on' if you are undead. If the body is inhabited by a spirit other then the original owner, I would say the sword has no effect - or simply throws out the spirit. I do have a very specific mindset on how undead come to be.