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Spirits of Battle

Seven Sentient Weapons for the Shadowdark RPG

By Samuel WrightPublished about a month ago 5 min read
Spirits of Battle
Photo by Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad on Unsplash

"There is malice in this sword. The dark heart of the smith still dwells in it. It will not love the hand it serves, neither will it abide with you long."

—Melian on Anglachel (The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter XXI: "Of Túrin Turambar")

The freebooting adventurer, Bram, a human fighter and headman of the village of Aben, had been lost in the dark, alone, and knew a monster was stalking him. Shaking with fear, he fumbled with a bit of flint and steel, trying to light a fire in the dark. Finally, he lit a torch and saw the room he had hid in. Luckily, he was alone. The Beast had not found him. Piles of corpses were strewn about the room and there were signs of a massive battle. A chest laden with coins lay open. The dead adventurers before him had been so close to victory. The smell of their rotting corpses filled Bram’s nostrils. One corpse’s severed arm gripped a sword that hummed with magic power. Bram reached out and took it from the rotting hand that held it. The Beast smashed through the door…

Intelligent magic items like Michael Moorcock’s Stormbringer, Doctor Strange’s cape from the Marvel comics, and Tolkien’s Anglachel are rare but highly influential in their settings. In Shadowdark, a sentient weapon of even minimal power can steer an entire campaign by manipulating, protecting, strengthening, or betraying an important character.

Here are some of my homebrewed magic weapons usable in your Shadowdark RPG campaigns…

The Twilight Sword of Brak

This slender mithril longsword has a sapphire pommel and deep blue dyed leather wrapping on the handle. It whispers in elvish and sylvan to its wielder.

Bonus: +1 sword

Benefit: Shoot a bolt of energy near with DEX, 1d6 damage

Curse: Burn a straw effigy of Shune daily or weapon temporarily loses magic

Personality: Lawful. Highly puritanical, the Twilight Sword especially dislikes dwarves for their drinking and carousing, but may refuse to be wielded by anyone uncouth or immoral. The sword knows the direction of the nearest running water and will want to be near a stream when possible.

The Vicious Sword of Power

A great sword inlaid with golden runes and possessing a wavy blade, this weapon is widely known and greatly feared.

Bonus: +1 great sword

Benefit: Behead the enemy on a critical hit

Curse: Weapon can possess you by winning contested CHA (+2)

Personality: Chaotic. A proud, aristocratic blade, the Vicious Sword of Power insists on being meticulously cleaned every day and kept in a suitably expensive, bejewelled scabbard. Legend says the weapon can undo a great lie. Cruel and merciless, the blade will try to possess any wielder who dares to show mercy to an opponent or who attempts to flee a fight.

The Doom Bow of the Spirits

A rune-scribed longbow made from the wood of a sacred tree and strung with hair from Saint Terragnis, the Doom Bow was made for hunting Evil. Legend says it gains its power from the spirits of warriors that followed Terragnis into battle.

Bonus: +1 longbow

Benefit: You have advantage on initiative rolls.

Curse: You cannot see demons

Personality: Lawful. Stern, critical, and dedicated to punishing evil, the bow insists on protecting people and creatures it likes, but often has poor judgement. The Bow believes its wielder is just a pawn in its apocalyptic scheme to annihilate the forces of Evil. Its voice enters the mind of a wielder like a chorus of wailing ghosts.

Memnon's Axe of Thundering Death

Rusted and chipped, this brutal looking weapon is dedicated to the Lord of Chaos, Memnon, with his holy symbol on its blade.

Bonus: +3 weapon

Benefit: Has thrown property (pg. 37), near distance, returns to you. Can only be wielded by a chaotic being.

Curse: Bathe weapon in blood daily or it temporarily loses its magic.

Personality: Chaotic. The axe is arrogant, violent, and destructive, but also completely certain that it is always right and completely justified in creating chaos and murdering its victims. It will curse at and shame any wielder that hesitates to enter a fight or flees an enemy, and roars in a metallic voice during combat. The axe tries to get wielders into fights, so it "has something to do". It senses hiding creatures within near, but not their exact locations.

The Righteous Axe Time

Sparks dance on the surface of this double-bladed mithril battleaxe. It is covered in symbols and equations for determining celestial events like the solar equinox and eclipses.

Bonus: +2 battleaxe.

Benefit: Once per day the wielder of this weapon can hop a few seconds back in time to get a "re-do", allowing a single die roll to be retaken. The new roll result must be taken whether it is better or worse.

Curse: The wielder of this weapon must loudly hail Madeera the Covenant whenever a holy symbol is encountered.

Personality: Lawful. This ancient weapon is wise, stern, and a bit arrogant. It will occasionally remember useful ancient history, having seen many events firsthand. The axe is very serious and urges the one wielding it to be brave, and dedicated to eradicating evil. It objects to carousing and excessive shows of emotion. As a guardian of history, it encourages people to correct their past mistakes and make amends for their sins.

Ord's Axe of Withering

This battleaxe has a shaft made from a single bone of a forest dragon and a blade of dark green bronze. It is inscribed with runes in Sylvan.

Bonus: +1 battleaxe

Benefits: Regain 1d6 hit points when you slay a creature

Curse: You are burned by the touch of gold.

Personality: Neutral. It was made long ago by an elven worshipper of Ord. It does not understand that its maker is long since dead, and keeps trying to escape whoever wields it because they are not the maker. Diplomatic and charming, it is not above manipulating an owner to get what it wants, but it warns its wielder if it senses impending danger.

Shune’s Spear of Destruction

Green, rancid ichor drips from the obsidian head of this ebony spear. Legend says, the ichor is the blood of a god killed by Shune. Its shaft has “Die for Shune” scrawled on it in Diabolic.

Bonus: +2 spear

Benefits: DC 15 CHA check to command a wild animal within far.

Curse: You cannot wear armour while wielding this weapon.

Personality: Chaotic. Reckless and wild, the spear demands that a wielder be fearless and never hesitate to attack. The Spear of Destruction gladly translates Primordial for its wielder. It loves the colour purple, but despises all other colours. The spear is protective of wielders it sees as bold, worthy warriors, looking out for enemies.

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About the Creator

Samuel Wright

I am a writer & tarot reader in Oregon. I'm a TTRPG fan, love all types of sci-fi & fantasy books, movies, & games, & read voraciously. I write a variety of content, mostly RPG blogs. Tell me where you found my page.

Art by Google/Unsplash

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