Hello, once again, Dear Traveler,
Forgive the length of time since my last correspondence. I do believe you'll agree that my latest project has some interesting possibilities, however. At the Lady Gwen's suggestion, I've been investigating sentient magical items.
Sometimes called ego weapons or soul blades, these sort of items usually (although not always) appear as melee weapons. The most famous example within the Mists is the cursed blade Ebonbane, but this is far from the only example. Most of these weapons are valuable confidantes and advisors for their wielder, serving in much the same capacity that a familiar does for a witch or sorcerer.
The most powerful of these items communicate telepathically, and the majority speak aloud. Some instead communicate only through transmitted feelings. A few, however, do not possess the capacity for speech or mental communication. They instead communicate through other more esoteric means. Frequently, the self-aware nature of these items can be overlooked by the weapon's owner. Enclosed are a few of my files on items which communicate in this manner, which my father in law refers to as semi-empathy.
Weapon (rapier), legendary (requires attunement by a Chaotic member of a non-Underdark race)
Cruagh was originally made to combat deep elves, the jet black fey that dwell deep in the dark places of the world. It came to the Demiplane of Dread with an adventurer who carried it for many years, until his untimely demise at the hands of the Black Rose. It was last seen in the hands of a mercenary in Valachan.
Cruagh appears as a silvery basket hilted rapier. The ornate handguard is formed from hundreds of wound silver wires. Cruagh can wind and unwind these wires to form detailed pictures on its hilt, this is the way it communicates. It cannot form words, although it can understand any language its wielder speaks.
Cruagh is loyal and doesn't seek to put its wielder in danger, although if consulted it tends to counsel bold action over stealth or retreat. It has yet to encounter any drow since coming through the Mists, but it would demand their destruction if they were encountered.
Cruagh is a +1 weapon, and if the command word (the elven word for 'fire') is spoken, it adds +1d8 fire damage to its attacks for 10 rounds. CN, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 14, Ego 14.
2 The Madonna Blade
Weapon (greatsword), legendary (requires attunement by a Lawful worshipper of a LG deity)
According to some rumors, Isolde, the proprietor of the traveling Carnival, is actually a celestial being, willingly banished to the Mists to hunt an ancient foe. After Joram Mournesworth, a longtime friend of mine, discovered this weapon in a treasure cache, he began receiving visions of what he called a 'moonlight clad' woman who told him that the angelic powers refused to allow Isolde's sacrifice to go unanswered by their own order. Accordingly, one of their own allowed herself to be crafted into a relic to protect the righteous in the Demiplane of Dread.
The Madonna Blade, or Hallamariel, is a notched greatsword with the inscription "I am a light to those who dwell in darkness" up the blade. It sheds a pure white light when this is read aloud. Although the angel who lives inside the blade can only communicate with the user in dreams, and even then only cryptically, she provides valuable wisdom to the pure of heart, always counseling temperance, zeal, and determination. She would be a prized companion for a paladin.
Hallamariel is a +3 greatsword. She allows the wielder to see normally, even when blinded or within magical darkness. LG, Int 17, Wis 18, Cha 17, Ego 15
3 Roselynne's Cameo
Amulet, legendary (requires attunement by a spellcaster who prepares spells)
It's rare in the extreme to find an ego item which isn't a weapon or piece of armor. Frustratingly, the origins of this unique necklace are as mysterious as the amulet itself. It first surfaced in Sithicus in 721, found in a dead woman's effects, and has since become a prized tool for spellcasters capable of heeding its gruesome advice.
The item appears as a delicate locket on a tarnished chain. Only an attuned user may open the locket. Inside, the left half contains a cameo of a half-elven woman, her identity a mystery. The right half is a tiny, thumbnail sized oil portrait of the bearer of the locket. If the locket is opened while the caster is preparing their spells, the portrait will instead show them deceased, usually in a horrific and gruesome manner. Curiously, most users find that the method of their demise bears some relevance to the events which unfold around them. The necklace doesn't communicate in any other fashion, and appears to have no motivating goals.
After preparing spells for the day, the bearer of Roselynne's Cameo may view their grisly death within the locket. If they do, the DM may make a suggested change to their spell list, which they may choose to accept or not. N, Int 20, Wis 15, Cha 10, Ego 10
Weapon (shortspear), legendary (requires attunement by a druid, ranger, cleric with the nature domain, or any sylvan creature)
About a century and a half ago, a group of elves banded together for mutual protection. Some native and some Outlanders, these elves formed a druidic circle and attempted to settle in Barovia. Although their connection to the land allowed them to create many potent magical items, they were eventually driven out by Strahd's forces. The spear Ivicane was one of their creations, although it became separated from them in Kartakass, and they do not seem particularly concerned with its retrieval.
Ivicane is an ornate spear, carved with delicate designs of lush plants and frolicking animals. Befitting the nature of its creators, there is no metal anywhere in its construction. Wielders of the wooden spear often report a close rapport with the weapon, claiming it's balance allows them to achieve truly awe inspiring feats of martial dexterity. Ivicane is capable of dominating any nearby animal, although it cannot speak through the animal or make it do anything abnormal. The spear can force the dominated creature to fight, but will not do so unless its wielder's life is in dire peril. Under no circumstances will Ivicane allow herself to be used to slaughter natural animals if there is another option: even if the user beats her Ego save, she is capable of simply suppressing all of her magical functions until the user discards her.
Ivicane functions like a Defender, save that its bonus is +4. NG, Int 10, Wis 17, Cha 18, Ego 16
Weapon (heavy crossbow), legendary (requires attunement)
First created by a dwarven clan in Vorostokov, this beautiful weapon has recently been sighted in the hands of a hired killer in the slums of Neufurchtenburg. It appears as a well used and well maintained crossbow, which draws back by means of an underslung lever. It is reinforced so that the butt may be used as a club with no penalty.
Grentang's purpose is to amass as much wealth as possible. Although it always partners loyally with its wielder, it has no such feelings to its wielder's companions. The weapon can communicate by altering its user's senses. When in danger, it can create a sharp, smokey smell. If the user is in danger of being surprised, it can create a loud whistle in its user's mind. It can indicate its pleasure or displeasure with a sweet or sour taste in its wielder's mouth, and can use this to answer yes/no questions. It will happily advise its user on how to accrue more personal wealth.
Grentang operates as a +2 weapon, and adds +2d6 toxic damage to its ranged attacks. If its user heeds its advice, they have advantage on rolls to detect ambushes or hidden targets, find secret doors, or to appraise and negotiate the value of items. N, Int 16, Wis 15, Cha 9, Ego 11
6 Wisdom of Otei
Armor (shield), legendary (requires attunement to any non-evil user capable of laughter)
Otei was a traveling priest, known for his good nature and uplifting humor. Before his death, he crafted this bronze shield to pass his wisdom to future generations. As far as I can tell, this shield only serves bearers of good humor. Those who are constant sticks-in-the-mud soon find themselves compelled to pass the shield on to someone more suitable.
The thick shield bears the image of the rotund Otei, frozen in eternal laughter. On the back of the shield is a small sliding door over a tiny compartment. Each morning, the bearer will find a small message on a rice paper scroll within the compartment, inscribed with a vague, often humorous proverb, usually containing valuable insight for the wielder's struggles.
+3 shield. Reading the scroll grants the user the Portents ability of a wizard specialized in Divination, or gives them an extra die if they already possess this ability. The user is also immune to the spell Hideous Laughter. NG, Int 10, Wis 18, Cha 15, Ego 14
Weapon (longsword), legendary (requires attunement by character with the Perform proficiency)
Orchestratto was plucked from the hands of a group of adventurers who attempted to assassinate Strahd von Zarovich. Although the warlord was initially intrigued by the weapon, he found it far too annoying for his taste and discarded it to his vast treasury. How it got out of the castle is unclear, but it has been spotted from Kartakass to Avonleigh.
Any user who wields Orchestratto hears a constant, never ending musical score appropriate to their situation (or request, if the sword feels like it) in their head at all times. This functions as long as they are attuned to the sword, even if they are not holding it. Orchestratto can replicate any music it has heard, no matter the number of types of instruments. It can even mimic general vocalizations, although not words. Despite its alignment, Orchestratto allows any user to wield it.
Orchestratto is a +2 longsword. Its user receives +1 to all attack, damage, proficiency, and save rolls, but suffers disadvantage on all Awareness or Perception rolls based on sound, and must make a Concentration check to cast any spell with a verbal component. NE Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 18, Ego 16
Ultimately, the decision to utilize a weapon such as these is up to you. Although the counsel and self-determination of such weapons can often provide a boon to an adventurer who carries one, you would do well to remember that such items are strong personalities in their own right. They have their own goals, desires, and jealousies, and more than one adventurer has been undone by an ego weapon withdrawing its favor at an inopportune moment.
As always, wishing you safe travels and happy hunting,
Frankie "Farshot" Drakeson, Lord Mayor of Carinford-Halldon
Jim Stearns is a deranged hermit from the swamps of Southern Illinois. In addition to writing for the Black Library, he puts pen to paper for High Level Games and Keep on the Heathlands. His mad scribblings can frequently be found in Quoth the Raven, as well as anthologies like Fitting In or Selfies from the End of the World, by Mad Scientist Journal. Follow him on Twitter @jcstearnswriter.
Note: a version of this article first appeared in Quoth the Raven #20.
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.