Thursday, August 27, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Blackrazor

For Throwback Thursday I thought it would be cool to look at the original iteration of Blackrazor. Inspired by Elric’s Stormbringer this is a sword any old school gamer knows well. In S2 White Plume Mountain the nefarious wizard Keraptis was the thieving owner of three priceless artifact weapons named Wave, Whelm, and Blackrazor. As to not spoil anything for the uninitiated I will not delve into any further aspect of the story.

Here are the statistics as presented in my 1980 printing of White Plume Mountain:

Blackrazor (1E)

Chaotic neutral sword  +3.
Intelligence  17
Ego 16
Purpose: to suck souls. 

It is a black sword that shines like a piece of night sky filled with stars, and it is sheathed in a black scabbard decorated with pieces of cut obsidian. 

On a killing stroke, Blackrazor temporarily adds the number of levels of the dead foe to its bearer's levels (in terms of fighting ability). The bearer also temporarily gains the full hit points of the victim. All subsequent damage to the sword's wielder is removed from the added hit points first. The extra levels and  hit points last a number of turns equal to the number of levels received.  The souls of all entities killed by Blackrazor  are sucked out and devoured;  those killed by the black  sword cannot be raised. For every three days  the  sword remains "unfed",  its ego increases by one point, until it can compel its bearer to kill a human or humanoid being. Upon feeding, its ego returns to 16.

The DM will note that Blackrazor is a negative-energy entity that exists by absorbing positive life energy levels from those it kills. However, if it even strikes a negative-energy being like an undead (except for ghouls and ghosts),it will work in reverse, transferring one level and corresponding hit points from the wielder to the creature attacked. lt will do this each time that it strikes. Under these conditions, the wielder can actually die and have his soul sucked out by his own sword. If the wielder survives, he will need a restoration spell or twice the usual number of levels received from positive "kills" to replace the lost levels. Those killed for replacement must be of the same race as the sword-wielder. 

Blackrazor (and you, the DM) may very well keep this little drawback a secret until the first time the sword bites into a wight or a vampire. The DM must remember that Blackrazor exists solely to feel power and souls coursing through itself, and sometimes it may not be too picky about where the energy is coming from.

In addition to the above, the sword has the following powers: 

Speech and telepathy (common and whatever tongues its wielder knows, which it learns telepathically)
Detects living creatures (souls), 60' radius
Haste spell (bearer only, 10 rounds}, once per day
100% magic  resistance to  charm  and  fear  (exact  per­centage  chance of resistance will depend on the level of the opponent casting such a spell)

For the 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons the sword was presented with the below iteration on page 216 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. What do you think of this version compared to the original?

Blackrazor (5E)

Weapon (greatsword), legendary (requires attunement by a creature of non-lawful alignment)

Hidden in the dungeon of White Plume Mountain, Blackrazor shines like a piece of night sky filled with stars. Its black scabbard is decorated  with pieces of cut obsidian.

You gain a +3 bonus to attack and damage rolls mad.­ with this magic weapon. It has the following  additional properties.

Devour Soul
Whenever you use it to reduce a creature to 0 hit points the sword slays the creature and devours its soul, unless it is a construct or an undead. A creature whose soul has been devoured by Blackrazor can be restored to life only by a wish spell.

When it devours a soul, Blackrazor grants you temporary hit points equal to the slain creature's hit point maximum. These hit points fade after 24 hours. As long as these temporary hit points last and you keep Blackrazor in hand. you have advantage on attack rolls, saving throws, and ability checks. If you hit an undead with this weapon, you take 1d10 necrotic damage and the target regains 1d10 hit points If this necrotic damage reduces you to 0 hit points, Black razor devours your soul.

Soul Hunter
While you hold the weapon you are aware of the presence of Tiny or larger creatures within 60 feet of you that aren't constructs or undead. You also can't  be charmed  or frightened. Blackrazor can cast the haste spell on you once per day. It decides when to cast the spell and  maintains concentration on it so that you don't have to.

Blackrazor is a sentient chaotic neutral weapon with an Intelligence of 17, a Wisdom of 10, and a Charisma of 19. It has hearing and darkvision out to a range of 120 feet.

The weapon can speak, read. and understand Common, and can communicate with its wielder telepathically. Its voice is deep and echoing. While you are attuned  to it, Blackrazor also understands every language you know.

Blackrazor speaks with an imperious tone, as though accustomed to being obeyed. The sword's purpose is to consume souls. It doesn't care whose souls it eats, including the wielder's. The sword believes that all matter and energy sprang  from a void of negative energy and will one day return  to it. Blackrazor is meant to hurry that process along. 

Despite its nihilism, Black razor feels a strange kinship to Wave and Whelm, two other weapons  locked away under White Plume Mountain. It wants the three weapons to be united again and wielded together in combat, even though it violently disagrees with Whelm and finds Wave tedious. Blackrazor's hunger for souls  must be regularly fed. If the sword goes three days or more without consuming a soul, a conflict between it and its wielder occurs at the next sunset.

ChimericalDragonfly's awesome version on Etsy