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Legendary Blades

by Carl Quaif

The Blade of Unlocking:

This is a plain-looking dagger made of bright steel, with the hilt wrapped in yellow-dyed leather. Although small and light, it is not well-balanced enough to be used as throwing-dagger. The Blade never shows the slightest hint of rust. It radiates a fairly strong enchantment if Detect Magic is cast on it.

The Blade of Unlocking has no pluses to hit or damage; in combat, it functions as a mundane, non-magical weapon. If struck against a solid surface (a stone wall, wooden table, etc), the Blade emits a ringing, bell-like tone (in C Sharp) which swells in volume until it may be heard clearly up to 180' away; this dies away after one round. During this period, if the Blade is pointed at a single mundane lock within 5', that lock will open (magically-locked or held doors are not affected by the Blade's magic). Although the Blade sings out whenever struck, its magic will function only four times per day.

The Blade's usefulness to adventurers (particularly in "dungeon crawls") is plainly obvious; for instance, it allows parties without a Thief (or with one of little experience) to unlock potentially-trapped objects from a (fairly) safe distance. Unfortunately, the Blade's tone telegraphs the user's presence to all within range; this negates the Party's chances for surprise, and doubles (or even triples) the chance for Wandering Monster encounters when it is used.

The Blade of Unlocking was made by Serfur Stonehand, a Dwarf Forgekeeper in Rockhome, roughly 500 years ago; he created it for Daria Kalamedes, a Thyatian Rake (and, so the legends whisper, his secret lover - supposedly, discovery of their affair by his Clan Head caused him to be cast out of Rockhome). Serfur made only one Blade, although conflicting reports of its many appearances over the centuries indicate that at least two other, similar Blades have been manufactured since.

Carnwennan, the Lightning Knife:

This legendary item is known only from ancient tales. According to The Lay of Halav and the Crone, an ancient Epic Poem, Carnwennan is - despite its name - a short sword made of bronze, with a tapering, leaf-shaped blade. The hilt is made from polished oak, wrapped in oiled leather - supposedly from the hide of a Manticore. The pommel stone is a spherical piece of smoky quartz. Carnwennan's blade has a series of runes down one side (similar to the runic script of the Northern Reaches, but unreadable by anyone living, even in Halav's day), and a jagged line (a stylised lightning bolt) engraved on the other.

According to legend, Halav (before he became King) bore Carnwennan during a quest to destroy the Black Witch of Krakatos, an evil creature who (so the stories say) stole and ate the children of the good people thereabouts. He and his companions took many weeks to find her, and had many adventures along the way - far too many to relate here - until, finally, he tracked her down, and after a one-to-one combat lasting nearly two days he cut her in two with a single mighty blow from the blade.

This tale has obviously grown in the retelling. The Black Witch is presently believed to have been a monster such as a Hag, or perhaps a Crone of Chaos; some stories make her a human Mage of considerable power and irredeemable evil. The description of the Witch's death is suspected to be a fabrication; Carnwennan's abilities have been well-documented in the tales, and at no other time has displayed the abilities of a Sword of Sharpness, so this last ability may be apocryphal. Interestingly, no mention is ever made either of how Carnwennan came into Halav's keeping, nor what happened to it after the slaying of the Black Witch.

In truth, Carnwennan is a Short Sword +1, +3 vs. Chaotics. It is intelligent (INT 9, EGO 5), but cannot communicate, and has a Lawful alignment - although Neutrals may handle and use it without harm. Carnwennan may release an electrical discharge on a successful hit, causing 2d6 damage, up to 3 times per day; it will cause similar electrical damage to any Chaotic entity who takes hold of it.

Whether Carnwennan still exists, or indeed ever did, is up to the DM. Despite its connection with Halav, it is not classed as a Relic, and therefore might well have been destroyed long ago. Locating the sword might be the object of a mid- to high-level adventure, perhaps sponsored by the Cult of Halav; alternatively, the Cult might be rivals in the hunt, should they learn of the Party's interest in the weapon.

(One interesting possibility presents itself: since Carnwennan's last known act was the slaying of the Black Witch, it is possible that both the sword and the Witch may be found together, somewhere. Perhaps retrieval of the Lightning Knife will awaken the long-dead monster; perhaps she is already returned, and only Carnwennan can destroy her a second time. Perhaps - and this is the most disturbing scenario - the spirit of the Black Witch has entered the sword and supplanted its native intelligence, allowing her to possess and dominate Carnwennan's wielder...)