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The Black Reaver

by Geoff Gander

Forged in the foul troglodyte-run smithies of ancient Y'hegg-T'uhath during the final days of the wars between the Carnifex of Y'hog and Lhomarr, the Black Reaver was intended to be used as the personal weapon of one of the most powerful generals of the Carnifex-led armies. In a special ritual, for which no less than 500 slaves were sacrificed, the Carnifex were able to weaken a portion of the interdimensional barrier separating the Outer Beings from the Prime Plane, and through it they sent one of their more powerful servitors, a monstrosity named Oroleth. Once summoned, Oroleth willingly let itself be bound to the newly-forged blade, which was bathed in a vat of sacrificial blood as part of the ritual. After the ceremony was completed, the Carnifex high priest grabbed the blade, and killed the physical body of Oroleth, severing its final link with its body, and forcing it fully into the blade. Afterwards, runes of power were inscribed along the blade, forever sealing the might of Oroleth into the sword, and serving as an embodiment of the power of the Carnifex of Y'hog, and the Outer Beings.

Afterwards, it fell into the possession of a succession of warriors, the last of whom was killed by Brell's crusaders during the siege of Y'hog. Recognising it as a weapon of power, Brell ordered the blade be carried off as part of the plunder, and it made its way to what is now the region of Ravenscarp, before its bearer was killed by roving barbarians. There it remained for centuries, until it was discovered by a Blackmoorian Expeditionary Force during that nation's ascendancy. The blade was brought back to Blackmoor, where it rested in one of its museums as a curio. It remained undisturbed for many years until, not long before the Great Rain of Fire, a nearby cabal of Outer Being worshippers became aware of its existence, and recovered it.

The Black Reaver then found its way, centuries later, into the hands of a Nithian worshipper of Thanatos, who used it against the Antalian peoples to the north of his nation. Eager for slaughter, the blade goaded its owner on, urging more violence and more blood, until the man met an untimely end near what is now Altendorf. Once more, the Black Reaver lay forgotten, until, almost 2,000 years later, a zealous Heldannic Knight, by the name of Hermann Strassenburger, chanced upon it while engaging in hostilities against the native Heldanner populace. Though it was in his possession for several years, it is unknown whether Hermann still owns it.

The Black Reaver is of the same dimensions and weight as a conventional bastard sword, though it is made of a metal unknown to most Mystarans. It was, in fact, forged from marh-vhol ("dark metal"), a black, cold metal originating in the prison dimensions of the Outer Beings, which may in fact be created by them. Very little of this substance was ever brought successfully to the Prime Plane, not least because of the magic required to tap enough of the Outer Beings' power to transport it. Marh-vhol is a deadly substance when used against those who do not worship the Outer Beings, capable of inflicting grievous injury. Aside from being black as pitch, the Black Reaver also has a line of spidery runes inscribed along each side of its blade - ancient Carnifex runes of power praising Y'hog, the Outer Beings, and invoking their power. In absolute darkness, the runes glow very faintly, with a light greenish hue. The hilt is made of pure platinum, and within the pommel is a large, flawless emerald. When wielded, a serrated edge, looking very much like tiny teeth, sprouts along the edge of the blade.

In battle, the Black Reaver functions as a bastard sword - the hilt is long enough that the blade can be wielded one- or two-handed. As a magical weapon, the Black Reaver has many powers, but some of them are more obvious than others. As a weapon it functions as a +5 blade, but in terms of damage a successful strike will do 2d6+5 damage one-handed, and 2d8+5 damage two-handed. The plus increases by two for each additional level of weapon mastery above basic that the wielder possesses. This high level of damage is due in part to the weapon's composition, as well as a slight vibrating action of the blade's serrated edge. The Black Reaver has a special function in combat: if the wielder rolls an 18-20 when striking an opponent, damage is doubled. When not used against an opponent, the blade can be used to cut through wood and ice, because of the incredible sharpness of its edge. The wielder does not have to chop at an obstacle; merely by placing the sword against a section of wood or ice, the vibrating edge will saw through it, in much the same manner as a chainsaw.

In addition to its regular damage, the Black Reaver possesses a number of other abilities, each of which is tied to one of four runes engraved in its hilt. All of these abilities are invoked by willing them to happen, and the powers themselves will make themselves apparent once the wielder wins a contest of the wills against this sword. The powers are listed below:

1. Cast cureall upon the wielder, three times per day.
2. Cast invisibility upon the wielder, three times per day.
3. Cast haste upon the wielder, four times per day.
4. Create an aura of dread around the wielder as per the spell fear, with a radius of 15', twice per day.

The Black Reaver can also create its own sheath when not in use. The wielder must simply will the blade to be sheathed, and a hard, scaly shell will grow out of the hilt and envelop the blade. Tiny, claw-like grips also pop out of the sheath, near the crosspiece of the hilt, and these will grip onto any surface the wielder desires, such as a belt, saddlebag, bandolier, or any other surface. Only the wielder is able to detach it from that surface.

As with many items created by the magics of the Carnifex and the Outer Beings, the Black Reaver's powers do not make themselves available to the wielder without cost. This is especially true given that a powerful servitor of the Outer Beings, Oroleth, has had its essence bound into the weapon. Before being bound, Oroleth was hideous creature who rejoiced in destruction and who had a seemingly unquenchable thirst for blood. These evil passions have become fused with the weapon itself, and are so powerful that, after drawing blood with the weapon for the first time, the wielder must win a contest of wills against the Black Reaver (with an EGO score of 34) or be subsumed by its lust for more blood. If the wielder fails, he or she will fall under the control of the blade, and will be forced to embark upon an orgy of violence, slaughtering friend and foe alike until the blade's thirst is quenched. If that first contest was lost by the wielder, there will be a contest of the wills each time the Black Reaver is drawn. If the wielder wins the contest, they will only face another one when the weapon does double damage.

A second driving passion within the Black Reaver is its allegiance to the Outer Beings. It will not allow itself to be used against members of the various servitor races, or loyal worshippers. If the wielder attempts to use it in this manner, another contest of wills is required, with failure meaning that the blade strikes at the wielder, instead!

Another effect of using the Black Reaver is that the Outer Beings will become aware of the wielder. He or she will stand out like a beacon, enabling them to contact him or her through dreams or messengers at will. This may not be a desirable outcome, depending on the wielder. If the wielder is deemed to be pliable enough, or of sufficient power (attaining Name-level is a suitable benchmark for this criterion), the Outer Beings may use the Black Reaver as a conduit for their powers, channelling their energies through it. If they deem the wielder to be worthy, they may try to win him or her over; otherwise, they will summon their underlings to "eliminate the problem".