The Rainbow Sword
'So, my sisters.' I gazed out the clerestory window at the tableau in Court Square, and I made no doubt my gaze was as stony as were the rest of the Conclave. 'I see what you see. Is there truly no doubt?'
'None,' said Mother Arathena, with a bitter hiss. 'That jackal bitch has the true Sword. Captain Noran saw her hack through half the enemy cohort to reach the postern gate, and I know Noran to be a reliable man.' She swallowed hard, tearing her gaze away from the spectacle outside. 'But Â– but how? How was It found, after so long?'
'Lady's Grace, who cares? Dueled with dragons or bought it from a peddler, what boots it? The question is this: what do we do?' Arathena's mouth was set, at my query; she didn't know. Neither did the others.
Neither did I.
' ... and in the sundering terror of that hour, the Fell Lord, the Mantled One, came forth in sooth. In his clawed hand was raised the Great Fear, the darkness deeper than shadow, his sceptre and sword. And its touch was Death, and the very air turned to poison whence It cleaved. Strong heroes shuddered, and their boasts and resolve tore into silence in the fetid air like fabric rent between charging bulls. But none would charge here. None could speak. Few could breathe.
'Yet the Lady stood, the golden, thunder-armed. Awful was the grasping fear, but yet She stood. In mighty array was Her raiment, in Her palm was strength, and in Her hand was the incarnation of pure light: Peace's Friend, the Immortal Protector, the Rainbow Sword of the legends. She was fury's harbinger in lightning as She - She alone! - moved to face the Fell Lord, the Mantled One. And that very lightning, with a screaming akin to the clangor of a thousand insane bells, ripped the poisoned air asunder as the blades clashed ...'
- from the Canticles of the Rose City, canto VII, The Last Battle Of The First War
It is a battlesword wrought of milky crystal, which shines with rainbow hues of innermost radiance when it catches any light. No wire or wrappings mar the shaped glass-smooth hilt, nor gems or carvings its surface. The invincible blade of the Time Before Time, the Rainbow Sword features in many of the legends and myths of the world. The one who wields it in battle is invincible, and it has been long sought by scholars and warlords alike.
Now it's been found. Not by a goddess of thunders, but by living mortals. And the world will never be the same.
* * * * * * *
This is, if you will, a Kobayashi Maru-type find: something that tests the character and common sense of your party, and not a plot hook to be used lightly.
The Sword is part of the creation myth, the favored weapon of the Lady of Thunders, the goddess who defeated the great evil in the War of the Gods at the dawn of the world. She renounced all violence after that hour, and famously left the Sword in the blooded dust of that fatal field. There are legends of its reappearance thereafter, but they are generally disputed, and felt by many to be outright apocryphal.
It is a thing of elemental, divine power. Don't bother with stats for it; the Sword transcends such things. Anyone it strikes in battle is instantly killed. Anything it is used to smite is destroyed. Hack a barrier with it, and the barrier is blown to pieces. Chop at a two-century-old oak with it, and the tree is shattered into splinters with a hundred-foot cone of destruction. It parries any attack, or any number of attackers. Its wielder can't be stunned, drained, affected by mind-control or direct damage magics, possessed, anything like that. It is itself immune to magic (although it isn't actually 'holy,' and doesn't register as such).
Other than that, we're not talking Stormbringer here: it won't corrupt you (except in so far as wielding an invincible blade of legend will go to a person's head), the Lady of Thunders doesn't want it back, you're not mystically bound to it, it's not sentient, it doesn't change your body chemistry or appearance, and there's no Dark Being with a mirror-image version out there seeking a cataclysmic confrontation. But:
* The literary influence to consider here isn't Moorcock; it's Saberhagen. This is the sort of weapon over which wars are fought, or heavily influenced by its presence on one side or another. Its owner has a big red X on his or her back, from many sides.
* Never mind the ambitious monarchs, wizards or warlords who want it. Gods will want it, either to use themselves, or to wrench out of mortal hands a weapon known to be a godslayer. Sensible Powers-That-Be want to steal or disenchant it to keep anyone else from using it for ill. The church of the Lady of Thunders (a pacifist faith these many thousands of years) finds its existence somewhat embarrassing, and its ownership by a mere mortal sacrilegious. Uppity heroes will think they ought to be the one wielding it, or that the one who has it doesn't at all deserve it, and they'd like to test out this 'invincible in battle' BS themselves.
* Read between the lines, and the weapon doesn't make the wielder completely invulnerable. He or she still has to sleep, eat, use the jakes, bathe, and do a lot of things that don't involve holding the naked blade, which is the only time its powers work. 'Invincible in battle' doesn't mean the wielder can't be drowned, crushed in a landslide or roasted by a volcano.
* Further ... while the wielder's stamina and weapon skills are significantly improved (however your system handles such things), they're not limitless - a pudgy scholar neither turns into Conan nor can fight for tireless hours on end. Also, apply common sense: wrapping the palsied hand of a 90-year-old invalid around the hilt doesn't turn him into Conan either.
* The way to play the Sword beyond that, though, is as a horrifically destructive force of nature. Spar jokingly with it, and you're going to find yourself cutting your sparring partner in half. Poke someone just a half-inch deep with it, and he'll scream as his organs all explode at once and that 'half-inch deep' incision suddenly becomes large enough to put your fist into. You really can knock down a castle tower with it, or at the least blow a hole in its side large enough to drive a wagon-and-four through. Jam it point-first into the ground, and you'll provoke an earthquake. Be pitiless towards idiots who think they can goof around with the thing. Drive the point home (without saying so explicitly) that this is something plainly not meant for mortals, the use of which involves perils beyond imagining.
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? Responses (10)
Good artifact level item, prob go into some add'l specifics on it ,rather than make it an overall paragon of a sword, but nice 4/5
The reason I didn't go into specifics on the blade is that I think a lot of the mystery and wonder of RPGs is lost in the mania to assign stats to everything. TSR adding stats to the gods all those years back didn't provoke people to think gods were awesome; the munchkins screeched out 'Cool! THOR himself only has 300 hit points! We can take him!'
But just F-my-I, what specifics do you think it needs?
I was thinking it would be nice w/ a couple of epic level powers that define it a little better maybe high death stuff, an epic defence(parry?) perhaps a little special effects that suround user(storm?) I get that you are going for mystery, but I dont think a little more specific on abilities could hurt. Don't get me wrong it IS good , I just feel a little definition would go a long way w/ this
Already in there: 'It parries any attack, or any number of attackers.'
I also figured that 'Hit anyone and he dies, hit anything and it's blown to pieces' is plenty 'epic' enough!
Ok. So, on it's own, this seems to be a fairly reasonable sub.
The word is raw power of a specific sort, with all the normal consequences thereof. This is good. Personally, I prefer my Divine to contain something that's got more metaphysical weight, but that's personal preference.
Where I have a problem is that between the names (Arathena, She who Thunders esp), and the story, it feels very, very derivative of Monsoon and Typhoon and The Six Who Are - This is not bad if so, but without accreditation...
First time I saw either sub is when I looked at the links you just posted. Over 7500 subs on this site, man. I figure I invent my character names the same way most people do, coming up with syllable combos that sound euphonious, or seeing names somewhere that sound cool. Let's look at those gods you mention in The Six Who Are: 4700 Google hits for Alabrin, a few dozen each for Kestreth and Hydiria, 900-someodd for Kronath, and nearly THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND for Arathena. (I figure you didn't gank the name from the hotel in Italy ... did you?)
As far as the 'Lady of Thunders' goes, there are a limited number of elements in myth attributed to major gods. Not too many major players in mythology whose claim to fame is that they're the Lord of Aardvarks or the Goddess of Fig Newtons. I don't see that you use the term yourself.
Can be summed up with the word 'POWER.' Definitely doesn't need any specifics or stats. That would defeat the point of the piece.
I like that there isn't any great curse or dark corruption or mighty flaw inherent in the blade. Refreshing. Also enjoyed the purplish prose.
For the life of me I'm just not sure how to use this in a game, other than some 'lesson' to teach PCs (the hard way) or perhaps as simply myth and legend.
Enjoyable read, particularly some of your turns of the phrase. And I learned a new word...clerestory.
Yeah, that was deliberate. Seriously, how many writeups of artifact-level magical weapons DON'T involve 'it sucks out the soul of your friends / turns you insane or evil / makes you awesomely strong but horribly clumsy / whatever?' You have to figure that in most such RPG campaigns, the sensible reaction of any party to finding the Legendary Glowy Sword of Epicness would be to run like the clappers and see if they can bring down the ceiling of the dungeon to bury the sucker for all time.
A good magic sword submission.
I like this. And how I'd use it would be as a chaos-bringer to the world. As it changes hands time and time again, devastation follows. Emperors fund teams to retrieve it, then teams to retrieve it from them and so on. A hot-potato of death, until one who could use it to its full advantage takes it. And this s