how to make a magic sword that everyone hates

Because there’s not enough magic swords, right? Here’s a semi-cursed magic sword I made up for last week’s game.

It’s a scimitar that appears to be made out of pure gold, with a fanged mouth at the end of the hilt. Its name is “Feed me gold!”

The sword can be in two states: hungry or sated. When it’s first discovered, it’s hungry.

Hungry: The sword periodically roars “Feed me gold!” or “Give me gold or I will smite you all!” in an ear-splitting Yosemite Sam voice (audible for half a mile). It takes especial care to yell when enemies are nearby or when its owners are sneaking. The hungry sword is heavy and clumsy in combat (-1). Once per day, the sword can cast Knock. It does so only to thwart its owner or to change owners (for instance, by unlocking a door between it and a thief).

The sword requires 1 GP per day to be sated.

Sated: The sword acts as a +1 intelligent scimitar (it has Int, Wis, and Cha of 8). It will speak at a reasonable volume. It can cast Knock once a day at its owner’s request. When it casts Knock, it yells, “Gold opens all doors!”

Here’s how I introduced the sword: lodged in the back of a dark cave, shouting imperiously for gold in a scary monster voice, and bossing around the local peasants.

My group hates the sword. One character wants to throw it in the river. Others are like, “Well, it’s a jerk, but it is a +1 sword. We should probably keep it.” It galls them to pay an object; they’d probably be much happier if they’d bought it outright.

It’s funny because the group also hired some mercenaries in the same session, for exactly the same price, 1 GP/day. To be fair, a henchman is better because when they die you can take back their salary.

5 Responses to “how to make a magic sword that everyone hates”

  1. 1d30 says:

    I don’t know if I stole the idea from someone else, but whatever (actually I believe the original idea came from a Gem Bow in a Dragon Magazine that fired arrows with elemental damage based on the gem you put on the bow). It’s an item that you stick a gem in and each charge draws value from the gem.

    One version is a Ruby Ring of Healing, with a setting that magically grabs onto rubies if you stick one on there. Every use of the ring heals the wearer as a Cure Light but uses 50 gp of value from the ruby. If the ruby is used up it evaporates. While the value may make it a marginal choice in 3E because potion creation is so cheap, in 1E’s economy of 400 GP Potions of Healing it’s an option with some cost but not a huge cost. Making its use an interesting choice rather than an always yes or always no. Also it makes players interested in gem types when otherwise they’d only care about the value.

    Another version is a spear with an emerald spearhead, and the spearhead absorbs emeralds it comes into contact with (adding charges). When you use a charge upon striking with the spear, the victim has a swiftly-growing tree sprout from the wound. Besides the obvious problems associated with that, the victim has to spend a round to pluck the tree if he wants it out – and the longer he lets it grow, the more difficult it is to extract.

    Toss in a couple of these items, plus spellcasters who want material components (Identify pearls, etc), and people will start paying attention to gems.

  2. Doc Schott says:

    @1D30 – I’ve used a similar system, based on the old gem-lore, that allows you to maximize spells at the cost of some or all of the gem’s value. Gary’s comments in the 1e DMG (Ppg 26-27 in my edition) sparked that one. So channeling a “Sleep” spell through an agate would grant protection to the sleepers, but also affect the greatest number of targets possible. Consecrated pearls purify any drink they’re dissolved in, or food upon which they’re sprinkled. That sort of thing. I should probably do a full write-up, even if that means excavating my notes..

  3. Magician Xy says:

    That kind of reminds me of Excalibur from Soul Eater (the anime/manga). It’s an intelligent sword that’s practically the strongest weapon in the world, able to be wielded by anyone… on the condition that they follow its “1000 Provisions”. Its personality is so insufferable that only a handful of people have ever wielded it for longer than a few minutes, despite the awesome power it grants them. I kinda want to add one of these swords into my game, haha.

  4. Rory Rory says:

    Very fun sword! The price is pretty reasonable when adventuring, but during downtime it could become quite a burden. Sure you could leave the sword at home when conducting day to day business, but if you live in a city the neighbors will start to complain.

    Those henchmen should negotiate better. They should specify in their contracts that if they die, all their earnings go to their next of kin!

  5. 1d30 says:

    I generally have henchmen expect at least a weeks’ pay in advance, which they squirrel away or give to family before leaving. It’s basically the same as life insurance in that they are able to pass something on to their families, except that the PCs might decide to never pay up in the event of henchman death. Especially if they’re very mobile – if the home base town is used repeatedly they need to care about their reputations regarding purchases and hiring henchmen.

    That said, as a player I’m always a big old softie with henchmen and hirelings. After all, a few dozen GP doesn’t make a difference to me. If the DM uses a system where it costs like 100 GP to hire a torch bearer and he expects a share of loot, I consider that far too much and I become a lot more vicious with them. Like a washroom attendant expecting a $100 tip. Just come on.

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