What adventurer doesn’t dream of owning a barrel that transforms into a two man submarine that looks like a lobster? Answer: any adventurer who isn’t crazy, or a gnome, or a crazy gnome. Once you figure out how to get this barrel of laughs open, you will discover that operating it involves the simple process of manipulating no less than ten levers, which control everything from extending and retracting the limbs, moving around, diving and surfacing, and turning the headlights on and off. This is probably hands down the goofiest magical item on the books, and while it will always have a place in my heart for this reason, today’s post is suppose to be about my favorite magical item, not the most ridiculous magic item.
So I’m afraid that I will have to leave the Apparatus of Kwalish to its deranged, pearl-diving pilot, and focus instead on magical swords. Specifically, intelligent ones. Whether it’s a sword that binds an ancient demon, the soul of an elven bard, or it just wants to kill everyone on the planet because it has a badass name like Stormbringer, sentient swords are an awesome staple of classic fantasy.
In Dungeons and Dragons, these swords are best when they have an agenda that is not completely in line with that of their wielder, forcing the character to walk a fine line between power and control (Demonslayer sure does an awesome job of carving up demons! If it didn’t also have a nigh-insatiable thirst for the blood of virgins it would be the perfect sword!). If used properly, they can be wonderful vehicles for roleplaying, testing and tempting the morals of a character or party. Of course, they don’t always have to be all about virgin slaying; you could have a sword that’s just real zealous about smiting evil. Loudly. And without consideration for whether the guy holding the hilt is half-dead or not.
In a campaign I ran, I decided to make a magical sword that was crazy. The soul of an elven warrior had been bound within the blade, a righteous smiter of evil who wanted nothing more than to become one with his blade, so that he could continue to smite evil forevermore. He made this decision over a thousand years ago though, and spent a whole lot of the time leading up to his discovery by my party at the bottom of a dark hole. I reasoned that 900 years or so in dark silence might do something to a fella’s brain, and thus my Lawful Good Chaotic Neutral sword was born. He had a penchant for babbling incoherently at inappropriate times and a near-phobia of being put back in his sheath, among other endearing qualities.
There are literally thousands of directions you can go with this, the idea is to remember that such a sword has a personality though, and that makes it cooler than a regular sword but sometimes it can make it more dangerous as well.
- 30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 25: Favorite Magic Item (timbrannan.blogspot.com)
- Favorite magic item (mikemonaco.wordpress.com)
- Bane of the Black Blade: Michael Moorcock’s Elric and Nonviolence (panusher.wordpress.com)