Thursday, May 24, 2018

Swords of Truth

[Nothing I want to put together for BattleTech or D&D can be put together quickly. So instead, here's some D&D-ish stuff from my old high school group.]

The main thing about Paladins in our old high school homebrew was their holy swords. Small damage buff (huge buff against unholy creatures), glowed in the presence of unholy creatures, and injured the wielder anytime the wielder lied, cheated, disobeyed orders, desecrated the dead, or fought dishonorably. If you were especially cruel (and tough enough to survive the sword's punitive zap when you reclaimed it), you could impale an enemy, then heal the wound around the sword so they'd get zapped if they lied under questioning.

Our most memorable NPC paladin was a puzzle. The party was under his command, and we kept getting more and more indirect and circumstantial evidence that he was treasonous and breaking the paladin code, but we could never catch him red-handed. His holy sword was genuine and I don't know if we ever learned how he avoided offending it - maybe he just took the damage and was good at hiding it.

The next most memorable such NPC wasn't a paladin, it was a merc brat whose holy longsword was too big for him and who - despite obviously getting injured every time he lied - still attempted all the mischief and bravado you'd expect from an adolescent hanging around with mercs.

Translating these swords into Pathfinder (for my evil rat), the GM wanted to make the punitive zaps do bleed damage, but that doesn't seem sound to me. (Not that I have the best grasp of Pathfinder/D&D balance.)

It never came up in play, but I intended my rat's sword to have lore ties to the oracular statue in my city quest. I envisioned the big oracle sword as a "purer" version - instead of relying on the bearer's perception of truth, the oracle judged objective truth. It could be used in civil and criminal trials, and the wealthy could pay beggars to test other claims. The players proposed testing the oracle with a paradox; I figured that would turn them undead instead of killing them. The players didn't find that as logical as I do, but whatever - oracles aren't meant to be fair or straightforward.

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