Runequest Thursday #155 - A Sword of the Savage North!

Clint Staples

I run a fair number of games over the course of a month. I try to get one or two sessions of the Brightwater campaign each month. At least every other Monday, I run a playtest game of the Ragnarok RPG I am currently writing. I also run a game roughly 3 Fridays out of a given month. This is sort of a rotating thing: Sometimes it will be where the Brightwater game fits in to the schedule. Other times I run Ragnarok, or one of its iterations (i am currently playtesting it as a superhero system and it is working very well).

Somewhere in this Schedule, I try to fit in playing in other peoples games, like my wife's Savage North game - based on D101 Games Savage North campaign setting, which is about as Hyborian as you can get and not play Conan the barbarian (So what did I do, I played Donnan the Bogdanan instead - the Bogdanan are the Cimmerians of the Savage North).

I also run a sporadic campaign of Savage North, and not long ago, devised a magic sword for it. Since it is Sword Week (psst, Discovery Channel: I think that sounds sexier than Shark Week, by a fair bit, and I like sharks!) on, I thought it would make a good post. 

A couple of days ago, I posted about the dreaded, and boring, generic +1 Sword. One of the ways that I suggested personalizing any sword of any significance (which SHOULD include any magic sword, even a +1) is to name it.

Well, now I am here to suggest that there is always a good reason to break a rule - So I have not named this sword.

Why? Because it has been lost, and now found, in rather unusual circumstances: It was the subject of an encounter that I came up with based on a roll on D100 Oddities for an Enchanted Forest, which I wrote about here.

Here is the entry from Enchanted Forest that I used: #22.

A gleaming sword juts from a lightning-blasted oak stump in the middle of a clearing. The sword is magical and serves as bait for a fiendish trapdoor spider of great size. Anyone approaching the sword risks being entangled in the spider’s gossamer threads, which are so fine as to be almost invisible. Once these threads are disturbed, the giant spider bursts from its lair and attacks! There is doubtless more treasure concealed in the monster’s lair, which it has accrued over centuries of preying upon travelers through the forest.

This is a cool encounter, and like any good oddity, immediately makes you as the GM or player, start asking questions about it. What is the sword doing there? Why in an oak stump? Who put it there? 

The encounter suggests answers to some of those questions: The sword is bait. Possibly it was put there by the monster - the giant spider. 

But these questions beg more: Where did the monster get the sword? Was it magical before then, or did repeated lightning strikes over however long it was stuck in the oak stump enchant it "naturally"? How did the monster come to have the sword (magical or not) in the first place? All of these questions make for good adventure fodder, and can come into play immediately or in the future.

The fight itself was certainly memorable, with the hero getting tangled in web, attacked by the spider, trying to keep the Nordhammer out of the way and/or swing it telekinetically at the giant arachnid.

As of the writing of post #150, I did not know the outcome of that fight. Now I do. Suffice to say that the hero defeated, but in this case, did not kill, the monster, and acquired the sword. Now she has it, but knows nothing about, because it was stuck in an oak stump in the middle of the Wolfwood. So she does not know the name of the sword, and has no answers to any of the questions I posed above.

But she does get a pretty cool description:

This sword is nearly six feet in length but feels light in the hand. It is composed of steel but appears almost as if gilded, especially the raised portions of the blade and the hilt. This is discoloration from dozens of lightning strikes over the years it has stood, unprotected under the broad northern skies. But repeated lightning strikes have done nothing to weaken the blade, instead melding with the enchantments therein to produce the Sword of Storms.

OK, I said I didn't name the sword, then I called it the Sword of Storms. This is the name that the PC came up with. And that is gold in any game - unless they call their sword Dave or Wifflebat, then you have a problem player. But that is another post.

Upon investigating the sword with her magical powers, she learned something about its provenance, and some of its powers. The attached doc has the full description and statblock for the Sword of Storm (and a terrific picture of it, done by Wen-M).

Now the new owner has a sword with an obvious past, that she knows very little about. I am pretty sure something will come about that will teach her more about the Sword of Storms.