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Intelligent Weapons

Beyond the normal enchantments placed on ordinary magical arms, there lies the special category of those whose creators have imbued with that extraordinary gift (or perhaps curse, as the case may be): sentience. The swords of myth are the most common recipient of this most unusual characteristic, but there is no prohibition on many other types carrying such enchantments. Certain types of weapons, however, whether it by chance or some inherent natural predisposition, are more likely to retain the powerful magics that an intelligent weapon requires:

Table 1: Chance of Weapon Possessing Intelligence
Bows, Crossbows, Handaxe 1%
Staff, Spear, Battleaxe, Mace 5%
Dagger, Hammer, Knife, Trident 15%
Scimitars, Swords 25%
All Others 0%

Not all intelligent weapons are created equal, of course. The lesser of the species have no more intelligence that a dog, while their betters can hold their own against the average human. The truly rare and wondrous weapon possesses abilities beyond that of normal man and has intelligence to rival the best human (or demi-human) -kind can offer. Of course, the difficulty in constructing these wondrous arms is beyond the reach of all but the most fearsome of mages and holiest of priests, and therefore the more powerful and intelligent weapons are consequently much more scare (to put it mildly!)

Table 2: Weapon Intelligence and Capabilities
Dice Intelligence Abilities Communications
01-32 12 1 primary semi-empathy1
33-56 13 2 primary empathy
57-76 14 2 primary speech2
77-88 15 3 primary speech2
89-96 16 3 primary3 speech2
97-00 17 3 primary +
1 extraordinary4
speech and telepathy5

  1. The possessor will receive some signal (throb, tingle, etc.) and feel urges when its ability functions.
  2. The weapon will speak its alignment language plus one or more other languages, as indicated on Table 8.
  3. The weapon can also read languages and maps of any non-magical source.
  4. The weapon can read magical writings as well as other languages.
  5. The weapon can uses either communication mode at will, with language use as any other speaking weapon.

Due to the extreme concentration and effort that construction of a magically intelligent weapon requires, and the tendency of the weapon to mimic the alignment of its creator, the balance of weapons are lawful in nature. This does not preclude a chaotic weapon from being created, though the frequency with which chaotic creatures submit to such arduous tasks is considerably lower than their lawful or neutral counterparts.

Table 3: Alignment
Dice Alignment
01-05 chaotic good
06-10 chaotic neutral
11-20 chaotic evil
21-25 neutral evil
26-40 lawful evil
Dice Alignment
41-55 lawful good
56-70 lawful neutral
71-85 true neutral
86-95 neutral good
96-00 non-aligned*

* Characters of any alignment may use this weapon with no penalties. They have no alignment language.

Normally, only a character with the exact alignment of the weapon may use it to its full extent. Characters whose alignment is one place removed from that of the weapon can usually use the weapon (some exceptions: a Holy Avenger, a "Final Word" sword, etc.). However, they incur a -4 penalty to their personality when resolving personality conflicts, and they are more likely to get into such conflicts with the weapon in the first place, since their goals are less compatible (usually) with the weapon than those of a like-aligned creature.

All intelligent weapons have at least one basic power; the more intelligent have commensurately more powers. All primary abilities of a weapon function on command, as many times as desired per day. The wielder must grip the weapon (though it need not be draw for all functions to work) and concentrate on the desired ability.

Table 4: Primary Abilities
Dice X.P. G.P.
Roll Ability Value Value
01-07 detect elevator/shifting rooms/walls, 10' radius 60 300
08-14 detect sloping passages, 10' radius 60 300
15-24 detect evil/good, 10' radius 120 600
25-28 detect law/chaos, 10' radius 120 600
29-35 detect gems, number and kind, 20' radius 240 1,200
36-42 detect precious metals, kind and amount, 20' radius 240 1,200
43-52 find traps, 10' radius 240 1,200
53-62 detect magic, 10' radius 240 1,200
63-67 detect illusion, 10' radius 240 1,200
68-72 detect secret doors, 10' radius 120 600
73-77 know alignment, 10' radius 120 600
78-82 detect invisibility, 10' radius 240 1,200
83-87 locate object, 120' radius 180 900
88-92 non-detection on self 180 900
93-98 roll twice, ignoring scores of 93-98
99-00 roll on Table 5 instead

Note that the detect evil/good and the detect law/chaos powers are one or the other, according to the alignment of the sword; neutral weapons have a 50% chance of either.

If the same ability is rolled twice, double the radius.

All abilities functions only when the weapon is held and the possessor is concentrating on the desired result. Use of an ability is the only action allowed during that round.

Extraordinary abilities are limited to use but a few times per day. Weapons usually will not use these power unless it specifically furthers their immediate interests to do so - careless and/or wasteful use of extraordinary powers is a good way to end up in conflict with a weapon.

Table 5: Extraordinary Abilities
Dice X.P. G.P.
Roll Ability Value Value
01-02 Add weapon's pluses to saving throws, 1/day, 1 turn duration 300 1,500
03-04 Animate Dead, 1/day 420 2,100
05-06 Anti-Magic Shell, 1/day, 5 round duration 600 3,000
07-08 Charm Person on contact, 3/day 360 1,800
09-10 Clairaudience, 30' range, 3/day for 1 round 360 1,800
11-12 Clairvoyance, 30' range, 3/day, for 1 round 360 1,800
13-14 Color Spray, 2/day 360 1,800
15-16 Command, 3/day 300 1,500
17-19 Cone of Cold, 8d6, 1/day, 120' range 600 3,000
20-21 Cure light wounds on self, 3/day 300 1,500
22-23 Cure critical wounds on self, 2/day 420 2,100
24-25 Determine direction and depth, 2/day 300 1,500
26-28 Dispel Magic, 2/day 480 2,400
29-30 ESP, 30' range, 3/day for 1 round 480 2,400
31-33 Fireball, 8d6, 1/day, 180' range 600 3,000
34-36 Fly, 120'/round, 1 hour/day 480 2,400
37-38 Gaze reflection, 3/day 360 1,800
39-40 Haste self, 1/day 480 2,400
41-42 Heal self, 1/day 600 3,000
43-44 Hold person, 2/day on contact 420 2,100
45-46 Hypnotic Pattern, 2/day 420 2,100
47-48 Create Illusion, 120' range, 2/day, as per wand of illusion 480 2,400
49-51 Invisibility on self, 3/day 360 1,800
52-53 Levitate, 1 turn duration, 3/day 420 2,100
54-56 Lightning bolt, 8d6, 1/day, 120' range 600 3,000
57-58 Magic Missile, 4 missiles, 140' range, 2/day 420 2,100
59-60 Magic Resistance, 20-80%, 2/day, 8 rounds duration 540 2,700
61-62 Mirror Image, 2/day 360 1,800
63-65 Paralyzation, 2/day on contact 480 2,400
66-67 Polymorph Self, 1/day, 16 turn duration 540 2,700
68-70 Protection from evil/good or law/chaos, 3/day, 16 round duration 360 1,800
71-72 Ray of Enfeeblement, 2/day, 35% strength loss, 30' range 420 2,100
73-74 Shift to/from Ethereal Plane, Astral Plane, or Plane of Shadow, one only (3/day) 540 2,700
75-76 Slow, 1/day on contact 480 2,400
77-78 Strength on self, 1/day, 8 turn duration 420 2,100
79-81 Silence on self, 3/day 300 1,500
82-83 Suggestion, 2/day, 5 turn duration, 1 creature only 420 2,100
84-86 Telekinesis, 2500gp weight, 2/day for 1 round 420 2,100
87-89 Teleportation, 1/day, 6000gp weight maximum, 2 segments to activate 540 2,700
90-91 Tongues, 2/day, 5 rounds duration 420 2,100
92-93 Web, 2/day 360 1,800
92-94 X-Ray vision, 2/day, 1 turn duration 420 2,100
95-97 Roll Twice, ignoring 95-97
98-99 Choose a power
00 Choose a power and roll on Table 6

All spell effects work as if cast at the 8th level of ability.

If the same power is rolled twice, double the usage per day.

The weapon must be held and concentrated upon for one full round to activate power.

Special Purposes are just that: the weapon was created for some over-riding idea. Special purpose weapons exhibit a single-mindedness seldom seen in living creatures. All plans and adventures are to bring about the fulfillment of its special purpose. Failure to use the special power when applicable to the situation is a major conflict with the weapon. All special powers are usable only when facing certain opponents or situations, but may be used as many times as long as the situation/opponent is present.

Table 6: Special Purposes
Dice X.P. G.P.
Roll Purpose Value Value
01-04 Defeat opposite alignment 200 1,000
05-07 Defeat law 200 1,000
08-10 Defeat chaos 200 1,000
11-13 Defeat neutrality 200 1,000
14-16 Defeat good 200 1,000
17-19 Defeat evil 200 1,000
20-23 Slay clerics 225 1,125
24 Slay druids 225 1,125
25-28 Slay fighters 225 1,125
29-30 Slay rangers 225 1,125
31 Slay barbarians 225 1,125
32-33 Slay cavaliers 225 1,125
34 Slay paladins 225 1,125
35-38 Slay magic-users 225 1,125
39 Slay specialist (one type) 225 1,125
40-42 Slay thieves 225 1,125
43 Slay assassins 225 1,125
44 Slay istari 225 1,125
45 Slay monks 225 1,125
46 Slay bards 225 1,125
47-48 Slay avians 200 1,000
49 Slay daemons or demodands 250 1,250
50-52 Slay demi-humans 200 1,000
53-55 Slay demons 250 1,250
56-58 Slay devils 250 1,250
59-61 Slay dragons 250 1,250
62-64 Slay extra-planar creatures 250 1,250
65-67 Slay giants 225 1,125
68-70 Slay humans 200 1,000
71-73 Slay humanoids 200 1,000
74-75 Slay insects 200 1,000
76-80 Slay magic-using creatures 225 1,125
81-83 Slay mammals 200 1,000
84-85 Slay plant life 200 1,000
86-88 Slay poison-using creatures 225 1,125
90-91 Slay psionic creatures 250 1,250
92-94 Slay reptiles 200 1,000
95-96 Slay faerie creatures* 225 1,125
97-00 Destroy Undead 250 1,250

* Faerie creatures include: brownies, centaurs, dryads, pegasi, pixies, satyrs, sprites, sylphs, unicorns, and other similar sylvian creatures.

The purpose of a true neutral weapon with a "slay opposite alignment" purpose is to defeat/slay creatures of the four extreme alignments (LG, LE, CE, CG).

Classes do NOT include their respective subclasses; i.e. cleric does NOT include druid.

Creatures that the weapon is made to slay will be affected by the special purpose power if they fail a save vs. spells when the weapon hits them.

Table 7: Special Purpose Powers
Dice X.P. G.P.
Roll Power Value Value
01-08 Cause blindness for 2-12 rounds 100 500
09-15 Confusion for 2-12 rounds 100 500
16-25 Death 200 1,000
26-35 Disintegration 200 1,000
36-42 Cause fear for 1-4 rounds 100 500
43-49 Feeblemind for 1-4 rounds 150 750
50-56 Insanity for 1-4 rounds 100 500
57-66 Maze 100 500
67-75 Paralyzation for 1-4 rounds 150 750
76-85 Petrification 150 750
86-93 Plane shift 150 750
94-00 Quested 150 750

All weapons with speech capabilities can speak their alignment tongue; in addition, one or more other languages may be know. Select the appropriate languages according to the history/purpose of the weapon.

Table 8: Non-Alignment Languages
Dice Number
Roll of Languages
01-40 1
41-70 2
71-85 3
86-95 4
96-99 5
00 6*

* or the sum of two more rolls, ignoring further 00s

Each language (including the alignment language) is worth 50xp and 250gp.

All weapons were created to fulfill some specific need, not just those with high and mighty special purposes. It is incumbent upon the DM to create at the minimum a cursory history of the weapon, detailing its creation and the circumstances surrounding it. A more ambitious DM can include details of the time period in which it was forged, the sagas of various heros who bore it, and massive battles in which it slew mighty opponents. The more mighty weapons will have a long and glorious past, and will constantly remind their owners of such if they are not properly treated. Even lowly weapons will have some history, and it is to the detriment of the game if this aspect of the weapon is neglected. The past history and events that have taken place around the weapon, former owners, and special powers all shape the personality of the weapon, which has a direct impact on the player.

Ego and Weapon Vs. Character

What happens when a character desires to use a function of the weapon, and the weapon refuses (it can refuse, just like any sentient being)? The answer to this question lies in exploring the complex relationship between owner and weapon, wielder and wielded.

Despite their unusual nature, intelligent weapons have all the desires and cravings normal beings want. They have goals, drives, and ambitions, just like ordinary living creatures. The more intelligent and powerful the weapon, the more intense and driven it is to achieve these goals.

Sadly (for the players, but for the DM ... ), a weapon's motives, methods, and goals seldom coincide exactly with the character wielding it. Especially in the case of the more intelligent and powerful weapons, there can be considerable bickering with the weapon over choices the party has made. The weapon seldom sees the party's goals as acceptable; it sees only its purpose and anything extraneous is to be avoided. This does not mean that all weapons are uncooperative or short-sighted; indeed, many will cooperate in the achievement of seeming unrelated tasks if it convinces the wielder to participate in an undertaking more to the weapon's desires.

Weapons may demand concessions from their owners in exchange for the use of their powers; common ones include expensive adornments, removal of associates/henchmen distasteful to the weapon, removal of other magical weapons, or that a character take it along on all occasions. Most intelligent weapons' personalities are self-centered from a human perspective, thought exceptions are rife.

Many times, concessions to a weapon or just significant explanation are sufficient to gain the weapon's compliance. However, when a character and weapon come into conflict, the argument must be settled somehow. Like many other arguments, the winner of a weapon vs. character conflict is the one with the more forceful personality. The personality of a character is determined by adding the character's Intelligence, Charisma, and level of experience together. Note that level is based on current hit point totals, so if a character has lost 50% of his total in a fight, his effective level is half normal for determination of personality. Characters affected by fatigue are treated as having 2/3 of their current hit points for level determination, while exhausted characters have 1/3 of their current total. Tired and wounded characters are naturally less compelling.

The personality of an intelligent weapon is the sum of its intelligence rating (as determined above) and its ego. The ego of a particular weapon is determined as follows:

Table 9: Ego
Attribute of Weapon Ego Points
Each `plus' of the weapon1 1
Each primary ability2 1
Each extraordinary ability2 2
Special purpose 5
Each language spoken3 1/2
Telepathic ability 2
Read languages ability 1
Read magic ability 2

  1. A +1 weapon has 1 ego point, but if it has another higher plus, the highest is also counted. Weapons that have no extra pluses, but have additional powers, double their `plus' rating for ego.
  2. If the ability is doubled, double ego points.
  3. Round up.

After the personality of the weapon and character have been determined, the two are compared. If the character exceeds the weapon's personality by 25% or more, the character can effectively control and command weapon with no effective argument from the weapon. If the character's personality is greater that the weapon's, but not by 25%, then the character can still control the weapon fully, but the mental strain of forcing the weapon to bend to one's will is such that for every time a primary/extraordinary/special purpose power is used, the wielder must rest one round/5 rounds/1 turn. No action is possible during this resting period other than immediate self-defense; the character may flee a melee, but not of his own accord (another character must physically force the character to run).

Should a weapon's personality exceed that of the character, the weapon is able to impose its will upon the character. If the weapon has no more that 125% of the character's personality, the character cannot use any of the weapon's powers voluntarily (thought the weapon may choose to utilize them). The sword can force the character to drop the weapon, or give it to another. It can also refuse to strike an opponent. It also has the power to enforce more mundane demands: the purchase of expensive engraving on the blade or removal of a rival weapon. Should the personality of a weapon exceed 125% of the character, the weapon can control the wielder. All commands short of immediate suicide can be enforced; thus a controlled character could find himself forced to attack a giant alone, or be carried into a quest to bring the weapon to a greater demon. The possibilities are endless (of course!)


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