The Swords Of Wayland
by Jens "The Stalker" Schnabel
In long ages past, Wayland Smith, the great blacksmith of the
Immortals, forged blades of great and wondrous power. Nobody is quite sure why, largely because few people even realize that these incredible items even exist. A few archmages of Mystara have guessed their existence (such power does not easily stay hidden), and some are feverishly searching Mystara for them, for it is unquestionable that such items must hold vast powers.
Over the years, the swords have been found and wielded by many people: noble elves who used their power with great
care and wisdom, stubborn dwarves who used them to destroy their enemies and then lost them, and foolish humans who did not realize what they had found. Each sword has unique powers, which
some mortal wizards are beginning to uncover. Some of these wizards are evil wizards who are aggressively trying to find and unite the swords, for their research has revealed that untold powers will fall into the hands of whoever can find and unite the powers of the swords.
Each of the swords seems to have its own special powers, and each seems to have been specifically created to destroy
members of one of the most feared of the various humanoid races: Bugbears, Gnolls, Goblins, Hobgoblins, Ogres, Orcs, and Trolls (but apparently not Kobolds for some reason, though it is
generally held that Wayland must have felt that members of this race were too inferior creatures to create powerful weapons against). The name he gave to each sword also seems to mimic the race that it was created to work against, for the name of each sword seems to be an anagram of the race that it is hostile towards. The individual swords are of different powers and different types (short sword, long sword, etc.). Each sword will appear to be a typical magical weapon until the conditions
(usually at least two) have been met. Until that time the true powers of the weapon will remain dormant, although it will still appear to be a magical sword of whatever enchantment.
Once the powers of a sword awaken, these are gained in addition to the usual, dormant enchantment of the sword. Note that when the powers awaken, the weapon will still behave the same way that it always has against creatures that it is not hostile to, except that the owner now suffers the Curse of Wayland and also has to deal with the awakened sword's Intelligence and Ego, which can be rather problematic, paritcularly since the dormant sword appears to be unintelligent, and therefore has no alignment, whereas the sword can suddenly turn out to have an alignment which is in conflict with the wielder's once awakened.
Any of these swords automatically causes the unfortunate
effect of inflicting a penalty (usually -1) to one of the characteristics of their owners once their powers awaken. This is the unfortunate side-effect known as the Curse of Wayland, and its effects differ from sword to sword. The only way for the owner of one of the swords to end this effect is to break the link between himself and the sword (i.e., he must get rid of the weapon so that its powers go dormant once more). Apart from that, there is no way that the owner can avoid the
undesirable effect - it is the price that he must pay for wielding such a powerful weapon.
If the current owner of one of the swords dies, or if the sword passes to a new owner for some other reason, the sword's true powers also go dormant until the conditions for awakening the sword's powers have been met again. If the sword, for any reason, is separated from its owner for more than a week, it will also go dormant again, and it must be reawakened in the fashion described below, even if reclaimed by the previous owner. However, once a character has met the conditions of the sword, it comes into its full powers, which may then be experienced by the character or discovered
through the use of magic. Note, though, that only very strong magic (as determined by the DM, but at least equal in strength to the 6th-level wizard spell Legend Lore) has even the slightest chance of discovering the weapon's power while it is dormant. However, the swords do not usually reveal anything about what must be done to awaken their powers, not even to those who wield them for a prolonged amount of time. Also, each sword is rumored to have the power to allow an owner to
discover the whereabouts of the next sword, unless the owner has somehow called down the enmity of Wayland upon himself for some reason.
This sword is a long sword +2. It looks quite plain, resembling most other non-magical long swords, except that its name - Bilgon - is clearly written on the side of the blade in magical letters. For all intents and purposes it appears to be a standard, unintelligent magical long sword of +2 enchantment.
- To awaken the sword's true powers, however, a character must have owned the sword for at least two months. Once this time has passed, the character will have an intuitive feeling whenever he encounters a goblin (within 100 feet of one) that he must use the weapon to slay it. This will continue until he has killed at least three goblins, at which point the weapon's true powers awaken. It will reveal nothing of its powers until it has tasted goblin blood in such a manner. None of the powers described hereafter may be used or discovered until the sword has awakened.
- Once it awakens, the sword becomes even more powerful and it becomes a bane to goblins. It is thereafter a intelligent long sword +4, +5 vs. goblins, which has a neutral alignment and an Ego of 16 and Intelligence of 13, which gives it empathy with its owner. Any goblin hit by this sword must immediately roll a successful saving throw vs. Death Magic in order to survive being hit by the blade.
- The owner suffers a -3 penalty to any saving throw vs. Rod/Staff/Wand while in possession of the sword.
- Humanoid Detection:
- The blade will glow with a pale white whenever a humanoid of the seven goblinoid races other than a goblin (bugbear, gnoll, hobgoblin, kobold, ogre, orc, troll, and any subspecies) are within 40 feet of the sword. The owner may command the sword not to do so by speaking a single word, but the power will then cease until he commands otherwise.
- Specific Detection:
- The sword will also glow with a strong green light and make a low humming, whenever a goblin is within 100 yards (300 feet) of it. The humming of the sword does not usually give the
owner's position or presence away, unless his opponents are actively making successful detect noise attempts, although the owner may not be fully aware of this, since the sword seems to make a lot of noise in his ears. This power cannot be stopped, not even if so desired by the owner.
- Extraordinary Powers:
- The weapon also has another extraordinary power; on command (by clearly speaking the sword's name while holding it) the owner (and no-one else) can make the sword polymorph into either a short sword, a dagger, or a knife, whichever is desired by the sword's owner. The sword suffers absolutely no damage from this, and any and all of its powers are completely intact, except, of course, that it inflicts damage as per the new form. The bonuses
provides by the sword are unchanged, however. The owner can make the sword return to its natural (long sword) state at any time by once again speaking its name while holding it. The sword can
remain in any of its shortened states for as long as desired, although it can change back and forth no more than three times a day (changing back into the long sword form costs no charges). The sword can only switch between the long sword form and one of the other forms. It cannot, for example, switch directly from short sword into knife, although the owner could, of course, change it back into a long sword and then into a knife, though this will obviously cost one of the three daily charges. If
the sword is left unattended for longer than six hours, it will also return to its long sword form. The form-changing ability of the sword also seems to have another consequence, namely that it can be used unhindered by anyone proficient with either of its forms (long sword, short sword, dagger, or knife). When determining what type of weapon it is, Bilgon automatically behaves as the type of weapon, whether knife, dagger, short sword, or long sword, that the character is more skillful at using, though it still inflicts damage as per its current form, of course (e.g., if a character is proficient in both short sword and long sword, but has Weapon Specialization with a long sword, it behaves as a long sword so that the character is assumed to have Weapon Specialization with its current form, but if the character is proficient only with a short sword, not a long sword, knife, or dagger, it behaves as a short sword). Even so, the sword can provide weapon skill beyond mere proficiency only to warriors. This ability always works once the sword's powers are awakened, no matter which form the sword currently has - if the owner is not proficient with the current form of the weapon, Bilgon will bestow such proficiency upon him itself if he has such skill with just one of the other forms of the sword.
- Bilgon may also be used to discover the whereabouts of Lohnibbog, the Second Sword of Wayland. If the sword senses that the owner wishes to find this sword, it is said to reveal to him what he must do in order to obtain a clue from Wayland through the sword. First, he must discover the name of the Second Sword of Wayland (Lohnibbog), which Bilgon will not (or cannot) assist him in doing. Next, he must slay or defeat at least three goblins, and at least one hobgoblin (the race hated by Lohnibbog, the sword that he seeks to find), before the next full moon. Finally, he must offer some significant part of the slain creatures' bodies (usually the heart or the head) as payment to Wayland on the midnight of the next full moon, at which time he may be prompted by Wayland to perform some service (this is revealed as an idea that suddenly comes into the character's mind - Wayland does not actually appear in person, at least not usually). Once all of these things have been done (and the service prompted by Wayland, if any, has been fulfilled), a clue will be revealed to Bilgon's current owner. This clue will be as understandable or as cryptic as Wayland desires - Wayland has been known to actually lead people that he did not care much for onto a false path that inevitably led them to their doom in their search for Lohnibbog. Likewise, the service that must be performed for Wayland will usually also depend on whether or not Wayland likes the individual. If he is not of a hostile mind toward such an individual, the service that Wayland will demand is usually one that will cause the character to reveal the true intentions behind his search for the swords or his own position in the eternal struggle between Good and Evil or Law and Chaos.
- Many tales are told about heroic people who have wielded the
sword over the years. The earliest story of Bilgon claims that it has been wielded by Sinan, the well-known female elven companion of Balthac, the famous Darokinian dragon-slayer who is said to have been killed himself as he slew the mighty red dragon known as Calor. She is just as famous an elven heroine in Alfheim as Balthac is himself a famous human warrior of Darokin's history. However, the story also claims that it was lost when Sinan perished while defending Alfheim from a
lich. Other rumors of people who have wielded the sword also exist. For instance, the Thyatian warrior Arius Pronosius is said to have once used the sword to slay the mighty and greatly feared white dragon known as Imjarduul in its lair in the Altan Tepes mountains, which is why the sword is also sometimes known as "Imjarduul's Bane". Another rumor claims that it was used during several successful raids by Hrafn, the youngest son of King Cnute of Ostland, and that he later used it when he and his brother Sven helped settling modern Vestland and Soderfjord by fighting the hordes of humanoids that infested the area at the time. The sword eventually became known as "Hrafn's Tongue" as he became known as a silent person who preferred to let his sword speak for him. Other doubtful stories suggest that it may also have been used by an Ethengarian warrior named Kogatai the Fierce, and then by a secretive ranger who once traveled modern Wendar and Norwold known only as Hervard the Hunter. There is a great dispute between human and elven scholars about whether Hervard was a human or an elf, since he makes several significant
appearances in both human and elven legends from Norwold and Wendar, but his background is shrouded in mystery. Another legend claims that Lord Alexander Glantri was in possession of this weapon during the Forty Years War between the Alphatian wizard Halzunthram and his Alphatian colonists on the one side, and the coalition of Flaems, Belcadiz elves, and human settlers from Thyatis and Darokin on the other. The story actually claims that Lord Glantri used the sword when he captured Halzunthram, and Glantrians who witnessed the event seem to confirm this story. Several illustrations of the event also picture Lord Glantri wielding a sword that has a striking similarity with this sword. It is also said that the sword was later used by human warriors revolting against the rule of the wizards of Glantri when these proclaimed that only wizards could henceforth
be princes of the nation, but this is far more unlikely.
This sword is a short sword +3. It is crafted of a strange black metal or alloy that no character will be able to identify. Its handle is likewise made of a strange black material, although it is different from the material used for the actual
blade. The sword has its name - Lohnibbog - written on the blade, although this is not immediately obvious, since it is written with very thin magical letters that are as black as the blade itself. Characters with an unusually good touch sense may be able to feel the presence of the letters, but they cannot read them in any way. Nobody can even see that the letters are there unless a Detect Magic or True Seeing spell is used. Even then, the letters will be unintelligible unless somebody casts a Read Magic or True Seeing spell in order to read them. If an Identify or similar spell is used, or if somebody simply wields the weapon, it will appear to be identical to any unintelligent magical short sword of +3 enchantment.
- To awaken the powers of the sword, a character must use it to slay at least two hobgoblins, and either use it in a successful backstabbing attempt or simply have owned the sword for at least four months. If the owner is a thief, and therefore able to use the sword to backstab his enemies, the sword is intelligent enough to empathically make the owner understand that he should kill hobgoblins (when it can detect them) and use it when backstabbing an enemy, although this is just a feeling that it passes to its owner - the sword has no power to
command such an action.
None of the other powers of the sword will be usable until at least two of the conditions of the sword have been met.
- Once the powers of the sword awaken, Lohnibbog comes into its full potential, and it alsobecomes a bane to hobgoblins. It is thereafter an intelligent short sword +5, double damage vs. hobgoblins with a chaotic neutral alignment and an Ego of 17 and an Intelligence of 12.
If a hobgoblin is unfortunate enough to be hit by this sword, he
automatically suffers double damage. If the sword scores a critical hit against a hobgoblin, severity is determined as if Lohnibbog were a long sword rather than a short sword, and the hobgoblin suffers triple damage instead of just double damage (or quadruple damage, if he would normally suffer triple
- The owner suffers a -2 penalty to any saving throw roll against Petrification or Polymorph while in possession of the sword.
- Humanoid Detection:
- The blade will glow with a pale white whenever a humanoid of the seven goblinoid races other than a hobgoblin (bugbear, gnoll, goblin, kobold, ogre, orc, troll, or any subspecies) are within 50 feet of the sword. The owner can command the sword not to do so, although the power will then go dormant until the owner orders it to function again.
- Specific Detection:
- The sword will also give off a discreet but distinct reddish-brown glow and impose a wierd throbbing sensation to the owner whenever a hobgoblin is within 100 yards (300 feet) of it. If the owner does not desire the sword to glow in this way, he can command the sword not to without speaking even a single word before it starts glowing at all. The throbbing sensation, however, will not go away, unless taken beyond the range of
hobgoblins, of course. If commanded not to glow, this power will cease until the owner commands otherwise.
- Extraordinary Powers:
- Lohnibbog's extraordinary power is most useful to thieves or
persons with thieving tendencies. This power has also earned the sword the nickname of "Backstabber". The sword either improves certain thieving skills of the owner (if he is a thief, ranger, or bard) or bestows minor thieving skills upon him (if he has no thieving skills). The sword improves or bestows only the thieving skills of Move Silently, Hide in Shadows, Detect Noise, or Climb Walls. The power of the sword is such that it will either improve each of these skills by 20% (if the character already has such skill) or bestow the skill upon the character with a 25% of success (if he has no such thieving skills) for as long as the owner carries the sword around with him. The sword also bestows the thief's ability to perform backstab attempts to any character, although it does not bestow any special bonuses to a character when doing so. This means that sword does not
bestow a thief's +4 bonus to backstabbing attacks, nor does it ever allow a non-thief a progressive Damage Multiplier. The Damage Multiplier is always x3 unless it is used by a true thief, in which case the Damage Multiplier is one category higher than usual (e.g., if a 6th-level thief uses this sword in a successful backstabbing attempt, the Damage Multiplier will be x4 instead of x3, but if used successfully by a non-thief it will always be x3 no matter what the class or level of the character).
Furthermore, when used in a backstab attempt, the Move Silently and Hide in Shadows bonuses provided by this sword are improved to +30%, rather than the usual +20%. If the owner normally
has no such thieving skills, the sword will allow him to use them with a 30% chance of success when making a backstab attempt.
- This sword can be used to discover the whereabouts of the Third Sword of Wayland, Roc. If the owner seeks to find the sword, Lohnibbog will empathically inform him that he needs to slay one hobgoblin (which Lohnibbog hates) and one orc (which Roc hates). Once this is done, the owner must also sacrifice some object he considers useful or which has personal sentimental value (any permanent magical item will do) to Wayland. Thereafter, the owner of Lohnibbog can get general directions to the current location of Roc once per day for the next 112 days (four months). If he still has not found Roc by then, he must slay another hobgoblin and another orc to make the power work for another four months, but does not have to sacrifice another valuable object to Wayland.
- This sword is said to have been wielded by a halfling named
Belden Battlebur when the halflings revolted against the orcs that had conquered their lands (the Five Shires) at one time. However, Belden was killed in the early parts of the revolt and the sword was then lost. Other accounts of the sword seem to suggest that it has been carried across a great amount of Mystara's surface. For example, one legend says that one of the descendants of Wogar the Wolf-Lord (a goblin king and conqueror) wielded the sword at one point, while another story claims that it was wielded by Tendre, an Alphatian gnome warrior, who used it to slay a great number of hobgoblins until he was killed himself by a band of trolls. A third story claims that this sword was wielded by the halfling heroine called Holly Journeyfoot in the battles that eventually drove the Thyatians out of Ierendi, while a fourth tale claims that a Thyatian thief known only as Sneaky once wielded the sword. Other rumors of Sneaky would have it that he was actually one of the mortal incarnations of Korotiku, the Immortal of trickery, also called the Trickster or the Spider.
It has also been claimed that this sword has been successfully used to assassinate several of the Rajadhirajas of Sayr Ulan in the Kingdom of Sind.
This sword is a broad sword +2. It appears to be made completely by some sort of rock or stone that seems to be of a bluish gray quality. If someone watches the sword intently for a moment, he may be able to notice a subtle blue wave of magical energy that seems to quietly glide over the blade. Other than that, the blade looks quite plain, except for the strange runes that are inscribed on it. These can be read only through the
use of Read Magic or True Seeing, which will reveal the word Roc, the name of the sword. The
basket hilt or shell guard of the weapon is of exceptional quality, however, for it seems to be made of adamantite, and is therefore very hard. If Identify is used or the weapon is wielded in combat, Roc will appear to be an unintelligent magical broad sword of +2 enchantment.
- Awakening the powers of Roc is quite easy, for the owner must have had the sword for a week and killed an orc with it (note that it must be a true orc; a half-orc will not suffice). As if this was not simple enough, the sword will itself attempt to use empathy to give the owner the feeling that he should find and kill an orc with it, although it cannot command the owner to do so.
Once the sword awakens, the owner will always feel the intent of the sword to slay any orc it senses around it, and the owner will immediately be able to use any of the powers described below.
- When Roc is awakened, it becomes more powerful and its fury towards orcs becomes obvious, as it immediately functions as a +5 sword when used against any orc. The sword is hereafter a broad sword +3, bane to orcs +5. However, the awakened sword also has several other potent fighting powers (see below). Any orc hit by this sword will suffer double damage, once it is awakened. Furthermore, any character can score a critical hit against an orc on a roll one lower than is normally necessary, which is 17 for most characters (but only 15 for a single-classed fighter who has Weapon High Mastery with a broad sword). Note that the character must still hit the orc by a margin of 5 or more to score a critical hit.
If a critical hit is scored, the orc suffers triple damage instead of double damage (or quadruple damage instead of triple damage) and severity is determined as if he was hit by a
two-handed sword (large sized) rather than a broad sword (medium sized), for such is the hatred of Roc against orcs. Once awakened, the sword will reveal its lawful neutral alignment, and have an Ego of 16 and an Intelligence of 14.
- The owner suffers a -1 penalty to any ability checks or non-weapon proficiency checks that he makes while in posssession
of this weapon.
- Humanoid Detection:
- The blade will glow with a pale white whenever a humanoid of
the seven goblinoid races other than an orc (bugbear, gnoll, goblin, hobgoblin, kobold, ogre, troll, or any subspecies) are within 30 feet of the sword. The owner can command the sword not to do so, although the power will then go dormant until the owner orders it to function again.
- Specific Detection:
- If the sword comes within a range of 150 yards (450 feet) of an orc, it will immediately begin flashing between green and red. This flashing is quite distinct and cannot be stopped or hidden unless the owner hides the sword somehow. The sword will not cease flashing until taken beyond the range at which it can detect orcs.
- Extraordinary Powers:
- Roc has several extraordinary powers. Anyone wielding Roc is automatically proficient with it, since it bestows proficiency upon them itself if they are not proficient with broad swords.
The only exception to this are people who are for some
reason forbidden to use a broad sword, which would, of course, include priests who are forbidden to use sharp or edged weapons or otherwise barred from using a broad sword, such as druids.
Likewise, the sword cannot bestow proficiency upon a single classed wizard (unless he already has proficiency with a similar sword, such as a long sword). However, anyone else can use this weapon even if they are not usually proficient with broad swords. Roc also has fighting capabilties of its own, for it will bestow a bonus of +2 to any attack rolls in addition to the bonuses that the owner already gets from wielding this enchanted sword. Even so, Roc has its own pride and will never have a final "to-hit" bonus lower than +10 [this equals an adjusted THAC0 higher than 10 in AD&D 2nd edition rules] - if the owner does not by himself have a final "to-hit" bonus of +10 or greater [an adjusted THAC0 equal to or lower than 10 under AD&D 2nd edition rules], Roc will replace the +2 bonus with a final "to-hit" bonus of +10 [THAC0 of 10]. The minimum "to-hit" bonus [THAC0] of Roc is not cumulative with bonuses from Strength, magic (whether from the sword itself or any other magical source), Weapon Specialization or Mastery, Fighting Style Specialization, or racial or class bonuses of any kind. Note that Roc automatically senses if the owner is fighting orcs. If he does, the bonus to attack rolls is increased to +3 instead of +2 or the "to-hit" bonus of the owner is improved to +12 rather than +10 [THAC0 8 instead of 10]. Roc automatically bestows the one of these two bonuses that is more advantageous to the owner (i.e., the one that gives him the highest "to-hit" bonus [lowest THAC0]).
Furthermore, the basket hilt of a broad sword usually offers the user the opportunity to perform a Block attack option with a +1 bonus instead of the usual attack. Roc, however, is a far more
powerful and magical weapon, and it allows the owner of the sword to perform the Block attack option twice per combat round without sacrificing any of his normal attacks, though he can still choose to do so, of course. If this power is used, the Block attack options are always made at a +3 bonus instead of the usual +1 bonus, due to the magical nature of the sword.
- Unlike most of the other swords of Wayland, Roc actively informs and seeks to make its owner search for Longl, the Fourth Sword of Wayland. While Roc is apparently unable to reveal the name of the Fourth Sword to its owner, it will use its powers of empathy to influence the dreams of the owner at least once every full moon. In the dreams of the owner, Roc will usually take the form of a bard or some other person that the owner would perceive as friendly and reveal clues as to the current location of the Fourth Sword of Wayland. However, this clue will always take the form of a poem or rhyme. This ability has also earned Roc the nickname of "Dream-bard" or even "Dreamsinger."
- Several people are believed to have wielded this sword over the years. Some dwarven legends claim that the sword played a key role in the Battle of Sardal Pass in the year 492 BC, when the dwarven hero Duric Orcsbane, son of Morur, killed many orcs with it, at which time the dwarves won a major victory over the orcs and established the dwarven nation of Rockhome. The sword's extraordinary powers against orcs is also supposed to have earned it the name "Orcslayer" at that occasion.
Similarly, it is also said, that the sword was once wielded by the human paladin Oliver Attleson in the defense of the city of Corunglain in Darokin against hordes of invading orcs. When the city was eventually overrun by the orcs, the sword was lost. Later, however, it is said that the elven fighter/mage Alarrain used the sword against the humanoid hordes
led by the evil human wizard, Illodious, against Alfheim. Some stories actually claim that Alarrain himself used the sword to slay Illodious, but this is uncertain.
Several unconfirmed stories also claim that the sword was wielded by a Thyatian warrior named Gaius Keldonion on many occasions. Since both Gaius Keldonion the Elder and his son, Gaius Keldonion the Younger, are well-known adventurers of the history of Thyatis, it is quite likely that the sword was wielded by both of them. However, a much more recent rumor claims that the sword had fallen into the hands of Hadric
Telmar, a Merchant Prince from the Minrothad Guilds. Unfortunately, it is a well known fact that Hadric and his entire ship and crew mysteriously disappeared a couple of years ago.
Copyright (c) 2000, Jens Schnabel. Used by permission. All rights reserved.