The Black Blade Bastard
A Magus Character Concept For Pathfinder
Arven Veck eyed the sword suspiciously. The mercenary had the look of a man who'd lived a hard life, and his suspicious, green eyes spoke of someone who'd learned to look for traps in every good hand fate chose to deal him. Giving the weapon a wide berth, he checked the spells and lock of his hair he'd set on the door. Both were right where he'd left them, indicating no one had entered that way.
Arven returned his attention to the sword. It was masterfully crafted, with a simple cross guard, and a grip wound in supple, dark leather. The edges were keen, and there wasn't a single notch for the whole length of it. The steel was a flat black that seemed to greedily grab onto what light got near it. Something glimmered in the fuller; words of some kind. Every fiber of his being wanted to reach out and grasp the sword, but every alarm in his mind was screaming not to.
"Its name is Neves'cra," a small voice said from the other side of the room.
Arven whirled, the scarred fingers of his left hand already tracing sigils as his right hand snatched the long dagger from his belt. Sitting on the windowsill of his cheap, rented room, was a small fey. She was long and lean, her skin the color of a mushroom, and her eyes as black as the sword's steel. She wore whipcord leathers, and a brace of small blades on her hips. She was eating a tomato the way a man might eat an apple, and juice ran down her chin like blood. She swallowed, and grinned at Arven with a mouthful of pointed teeth.
"It means Night's Blood, in case you wondered," the quickling said.
"I know what it means," Arven said, not ready to let go of the spell he'd drawn on. "Who are you, and why are you here?"
"Asking the important questions, I see," the fey creature said, popping the rest of the fruit in her mouth. She stood, and then gave Arven a deep bow. The only thing that ruined the presentation was the juice on her face, and the vicious look in her eyes. "I am a servant of House Mastin, bound to serve the bearer of Neves'cra until their death."
"And that means what to me?" Arven asked, readjusting his grip on his dagger. The quickling frowned, stood up straight, and put her hands on her hips. She gestured at the sword where it leaned against the wall.
"That sword is bound to the line of House Mastin," she said, as if explaining a simple concept to a child. "As the last heir of the line, it is now yours."
"My mother's name is Veck," Arven said.
"And your father's?" the tiny fey asked. Arven's lip drew back from his teeth in an almost canine snarl, but he said nothing. The quickling's grin, if possible, grew wider. "Did she not tell you, or didn't she know?"
Arven returned his eyes to the sword. He felt it calling to him, pulling him toward it the way a lodestone would draw iron. With a careful glance at the fey, he sheathed his knife, and held out his sword hand. One moment the blade was leaning against the wall, and the next it was in his grasp.
"Oh good, he likes you," the quickling said with an acid undertone in her voice. She took hold of the dirty curtain and wiped her face clean with it. "So, what are we doing?"
Arwen tilted the sword this way and that, getting a feel for it. The heft was perfectly balanced to his hand, and it made a soft, sighing sound as it moved; as if it were cutting the very air.
"Tell me why you, and this sword, are bound to me," he said.
"That will take some time," the quickling replied.
"I have nowhere to be," Arven said. When he turned and looked at the fey, she sighed. Bastard born he might be, but she'd seen enough of the Mastin line to recognize when one would not be moved from their course.
Black Blades and Bloodlines
The Bladebound magus archetype in Pathfinder has been popular ever since it debuted in Ultimate Magic along with the magus class. After all, what's not to love? You get an unbreakable sentient weapon at 3rd level, it grows with you, and enhances the skills and abilities you have as a magus. Even more fun from a story perspective, though, is that the black blade just kind of... shows up.
And this is where the Black Blade Bastard comes into play as a character concept.
The idea is that, for story reasons, this particular black blade is tied to a family lineage. And in the case of your character, it's a lineage they likely didn't know they were part of. So the sword, in addition to being a potent weapon and companion in its own right, is also a major clue to your character's history, and to potential mysteries in the campaign.
The question you then have to ask yourself is why this blade has attached it to your line... and why has it come to you?
Perhaps your bloodline made a deal with the fey, and while it seems that family has been eliminated, you stand as the next successor. Folks who enjoy that aspect might also want to check out The Fey-Touched character concept for additional tips and tricks. Alternatively, the blade might be an undeniable sign of membership to a noble house, with a particular weapon only bonding to those of its bloodline. It could even mark one out as descended from a particular culture, such as a clan among the Aldori sword lords who have mixed spells with steel.
The possibilities extend as far as your imagination's horizon!
Lastly, remember, a black blade can take the form of a large variety of weapons, since 1-handed slashing weapons is a broad categor. Whether you want to grab a battle ax, a longsword, or even one of several exotic weapons, you should consider the form the blade takes, but also what its significance is to your character's history, and what bloodline they're attached to.
Also, if you haven't checked it out yet, consider taking a look at 5 Tips For Playing a Better Magus, in addition to checking out the rest of my Unusual Character Concepts archive!
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About the Creator
Neal Litherland is an author, freelance blogger, and RPG designer. A regular on the Chicago convention circuit, he works in a variety of genres.
Blog: Improved Initiative and The Literary Mercenary
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