Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Living Weapons

Living weapons require blood. Without it, they wilt and curse their custodians. They are jealous, and fickle. To wield them and their sorcery is to reach the highest pinnacle of martial art. Even the greatest of magic weapons have their limits, for they are dead and static. Living weapons always have the capacity to grow.

Acquiring a living weapon is no small task. You must find a sorcerer-blacksmith, and you must either befriend or betray him, that he might coax what dangerous forces be into wood, bone, leather, and iron that might armor your spirit. He must know who you are - you, your family, your lineage - and what spirits stalk your path. He must lure them into the motherly forge to be reborn in iron. He must feed them with a blood temper.

Then, you will have a weapon with no limits.


Here are the rules:

You must feed your living weapon with blood once a month, on every significant holiday, and on its birthday, or else it will grow angry and curse you. It will not remind you, it expects that you remember.

The more blood fed, the more powerful the weapon becomes.

The better blood fed, the more powerful it becomes. The best blood comes from dragons and other high predators. Livestock and other tasty bloods provide high sustenance but require high volume.

Some bloods are blasphemous. Those born of social taboos or of aberrations are most blasphemous. The weapon will wretch and scream to be offered such things.

Blood to power works on orders of magnitude, on logarithmic scales.

5 Blood Offerings = +0 Weapon
25 Blood Offerings = +1 Weapon
125 Blood Offerings = +2 Weapon
600 Blood Offerings = +3 Weapon
3,000 Blood Offerings = +4 Weapon
15,000 Blood Offerings = +5 Weapon
And so on. There is no limit.

In general, the Blood Offerings of a creature is equal to its Hit Dice.

Small livestock will be 0 HD, providing sustenance but little gain.
Large livestock will be 1 HD, providing one Blood Offering.
High Predators, such as lions, rocs, or basilisks provide triple their HD in Offerings.
Dragons provide ten times their HD in Offerings.

Normally, only one Offering may be made per day. A Living Weapon needs time to gorge.

Only you, or someone closely related to you by blood may gain the benefits of the Living Weapon. Your father could use it, or maybe someone in your clan. Your twin could use it as good as you. In fact, a twin is indistinguishably the same person to a Living Weapon as its original wielder.

Every Living Weapon gets one effect from the below list for each +1 it has.
Reroll duplicates.

Self-killing. If death or total defeat becomes certain it will kill its owner, stabbing them through the heart.
Navigating. Always slightly tugs towards the magnetic north. Remembers with perfect clarity where it has been.
Sustaining. Collects and condenses fresh water from the air upon its waxy surface, enough to sustain the wielder.
Protecting. Grows in parallel with the limbs like a creeping vine, providing additional armor while ‘sheathed’, shoots into the hand like a spring-loaded hidden blade.
Venomous. Drinks the users blood, turning it into a potent immunological venom laced along the instrument. The wielder is immune.
Revealing. Chemiluminescence in the presence of betrayers and traitors.
Hidden. Worn on skin in circlet, such as bracelet, torc, or belt. Wielder touching handle springs it straight.
Sentinel. Glows, vibrates, or unsheathes in the presence of hidden hostiles.
Symbiotic. Gradually replaces limb, forming symbiotic weapon. Can stretch, grapple, and flex without conscious command.
Faithful. It will eat or mangle the hand of the thieves or unworthy wielders who grasp it in a bear trap of iron teeth.
Bending. Absorbs stress and anxiety from user as potential energy to bend around opponents’ defenses.
Bardic. Sings the songs of war and camaraderie, and praises of its wielder and their lineage, inspiring allies and taunting foes.
Throwing. Will veer towards called targets, spinning and curving like the wind has caught it.
Wailing. Screams with a frightening wail when drawn, with the shrieking yells of a hundred furious foes.
Wounding. Striking unleashes anticoagulant into wounds, preventing healing on opponent. 
Shadow-killing. Hurts the shadows of men. Wounds begin to appear internally 1d4 Hours later on real body.
Nemacystic. From draping brilliant vines it unleashes soundless electric shocks to enemies on touch.
Adaptive. Weapon alchemically shifts to be composed of material that is target’s weakness, after it has hit target once.
Reproductive. Sheds ‘seeds’ of metal that grow in rich soil and flesh like bamboo shoots. Given time, a full-grown weapon will be harvestable.
Dancing. After performing an action, it will repeat this action on its own accord. If attacking a person, will repeat the same attacks it just performed.

In addition, every Living Weapon has a Personality, and must be placated or else the wielder will be Cursed.

Ego, Like A...
Requirements. You must...
Or It Will...
Jealous lover. Constantly pries about your company, berating them behind their backs.
Scorn company, spending significant time in isolation every day. (At least an hour)
Sabotage your company. Cutting compatriots, or ending mysteriously embedded in dead hirelings.
Insecure person with no self-esteem. Constantly berates itself to the point of annoyance. Invents falsehoods to self-flagellate. 
Constantly offer it compliments and denials to assuage it from its self-depreciation.
Rot away into nothing, taking some of your energy along with it.
Nagging spouse. Demands that you hold to your responsibilities, and makes up new ones on the spot.
Either do everything the weapon says, or say that you’ll do it and procrastinate.
Betray you for someone else. It will become your rival’s Living Weapon instead, seeking your demise.
Negging acquaintance. Provides insults veiled as compliments on very personal matters.
Entertain and distract it.
Unleash its vitriol, both literally and figuratively. Refuses to function properly until it receives its undeserved apology.
Serial Killer, relishing in the aesthetics and feelings of murder.
Decorate yourself and your weapon in trophies.
Make you one of its trophies.
Bloodthirsty monster. Cares not for conversation or discussion, only for carnage.
Make more promises for bloodshed, for there will never be enough of it.
Become a dancing rampage, indiscriminately killing in a murderous frenzy.
Manipulative vizier, always cautioning and coercing your opinion, never ceding power.
Play the fool, but never truly be one. Be just as manipulative as the weapon.
Possess your body, moving from fingertips to torso, incrementally. Catalyzed opportunistically.
Ruthless propagandist, spewing unsupported falsehoods over and over again until it sticks.
Always agree with it. Always put a spin on things that tie back to its worldview. Assuage its narcissism.
Start secretly spreading lies about you to those you meet.
Compulsive liar, creating falsehoods about even the smallest things.
Lie right back. Never tell it the truth. Play its game, but even harder.
Tell truths - far more worse than lies.
Judgmental parent - nothing you ever do is good enough.
Keep trying to impress it, regardless of its efforts attempting to un-earn its own respect.
Ruthlessly discipline you with painful corporal punishment, telling you its for your own good.


  1. Rumor: Legend has it that the first King of kings of the Living Lands wielded a living bow whose arrows felled a hundred-thousand foes. It had seven names, one for each kingdom brought under his submission, and seven malign personalities kept in perfect balance. No ruler since has laid claim to the weapon, for the last life claimed by it was its wielder.

  2. This is very useful, thank you.

  3. It's difficult to imagine any player getting their weapon above a +2, and even that would take quite a bit of doing.

    On the other hand, I love how hilariously awful all the personalities are. It's like the magic is the bait that gets you to walk into the trap of being stuck with the damn thing. (Cue "The Odd Couple" theme music...)

    1. Indeed, it's pretty unlikely that a weapon will go all the way from +0 to +5 during the course of a campaign. I may have inundated the 5e weapon scaling without telling anyone (the max bonus of a weapon being +3) instead of the AD&D or 3e scaling. Once you get past +3 I imagined the campaign would already be in legendary crazy town.

    2. Unless, I guess, you're willing to do some domain level play. Then you could handwave a little.

      "As the sun sets, you depart the blood-drenched battlefield, waist-deep in viscera, the entire village dead by your hand. The sword's bonus increases from +4 to +5 and you hear its voice grant you some grudging respect: 'You did good out there today, n00b. But next time, you're going to have to kill a REAL city.' "

      Basically this would take some Carcosa-level evil characters, and a GM wiling to run a totally amoral campaign world, is what I'm saying.

    3. Indeed! Or, you could have a paladin-in-hell style situation (side note: paladin in hell with living weapon having seven deadly sings personalities): KILL SIX BILLION DEMONS.

      Regardless, I think it assumes a heroic framework for characters in whatever setting/campaign they're occupying.

  4. Ideas I decided to drop for this post/not elaborate on: different forms of sacrifice (i.e. gold, plant nutrients, souls, bones, etc.), weapon materials modifying how it feeds and damage it does (wood, leather, iron, bone, etc.), breaking and reforging mechanics for the weapon, and modifiers to reaction rolls when wielding a living weapon.