Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Huge Ego

The long-standing rivalry between MIT and Harvard blossomed in 2006 with this replacement of Harvard's VER-IT-AS logo at a Yale-Harvard sports event. But that's not what we're really here to talk about. Yes, MIT cleverly mocked the students of Harvard with their hack... but we're really interested today in Ego itself. Namely, ego weapons. Like, you know—Stormbringer or the other, less well known black sword, Anglachel, wielded by Turin Turambar.

Túrin"Hail Gurthang! No lord or loyalty dost thou know, save the hand that wieldeth thee. From no blood wilt thou shrink. Wilt thou therefore take Túrin Turambar, wilt thou slay me swiftly?"
Gurthang"Yea, I will drink thy blood gladly, that so I may forget the blood of Beleg my master, and the blood of Brandir slain unjustly. I will slay thee swiftly."

In regards to ego weapons there are two things I have a problem with. The first is the mechanic by which they take control of players and the second is the power suites presented in the DMG.

Ego Weapons Taking Control
As written, an ego blade will deal damage to anyone who's alignment doesn't match its alignment. It can take control as a character is injured. It's more likely to take control of a badly wounded high-level character than it is a badly wounded low-level character because high-level characters have more hp to lose.

Damaging non-alignment matches
This is an extremely limiting factor to an ego weapon. If a LE sword straight out cannot be used by a CG man, what's the point of weapon possession? I hate this rule and I'm not sure what it's meant to represent... if the weapon dealt a little damage over time so the wielder was always slightly wounded and ticking towards falling under the weapon's sway, maybe we'd have a neat rule.

In fact, that's the rule I'm going to instate.

Wounds being required for the take-over
Why? Any time you're in a mentally reduced state (drunk, charmed, etc.), the blade should have a chance to take over. In fact, even depression or anxiety should be enough to produce ominous whispers and attempts at gaining control.

Low-level disparity
Why is it so damned hard for an ego sword to take over a low-level character? I mean, I know why, mathematically... but I don't like it. I don't have a solution to this off the top of my head (except maybe to allow it to force a saving throw every once and a while, I suppose), but it's always irked me. Lower level PCs should be more susceptible to rapid conversion and control, not less.

Specific Goals and Weird Powers
This is probably most easily modified by drawing up new tables. I haven't done that yet, so I'll just air my gripes. The mighty powers of ego swords are weird. Know where gems are? Know where gold is? Does anyone know the origin of these powers? I can't think of any examples from literature. They seem to be exceedingly arbitrary. A weapon designed for a specific purpose should at least draw from a neater table.

So, yes, I have a lot of problems with ego swords as written. I feel like they are in grave need of a rewrite. Have I provided one here? Not yet. But you can wager I will. Soon.


  1. http://geekechoes.blogspot.com/2012/03/intelligent-swords-dumb-idea.html

    That said, I don't disagree with you about those specific rules.

    1. I absolutely agree. I think I'm going to make some new ego weapons charts at some later date—possibly this week. It just seems to be a poorly written section of most editions.