Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My C&C Binder: Warhound, the Beast-Ax of Battle

I created this powerful magical battle ax for a C&C campaign I ran about a year and a half ago. I'm presenting it again here, slightly tweaked so it's a little bit more balanced. Warhound is an extremely powerful magical weapon and because of this, and its sentience, I find it would be a great weapon in the hands of your campaign's arch-villain, but you might think twice about the future of your campaign if you let it get into the clutches of your PCs. Because, like catching a tiger by the tail, acquiring Warhound might be the least of your PCs problems...

Warhound, the Daemonic Beast-Ax of Battle, was forged by the Sorcerer-Smiths of Gathrax for Korgun, Warlord of Gathrax and Mortal Champion of the Dukes of Hell. It is a massive battle ax of daemonic black iron, possessed by a brutal and demanding Chaos spirit. It is said that Warhound served Korgun well for over a hundred years, and in that time it reaped souls uncounted in his hands. Unfortunately, when Korgun conquered all his enemies and ruled Gathrax from his Throne of Iron Skulls, the Beast-Ax turned on Korgun and allied itself with his lieutenant, Malgar. Malgar slew Korgun and threw Gathrax into a bloody civil war that tore the kingdom apart. Somehow, during the endless series of battles and skirmishes, Warhound was lost to Malgar, who was killed in turn shortly thereafter.

For the next thousand years, Warhound has appeared in the hands of various warlords, chieftains, and champions, all of whom were right in the thick of some bloody campaign or another. It is said that the ax talks to its owner and drives them unceasingly to battle time and time again, until at last the wielder falters or is killed, at which point the ax finds itself another owner to continue its bloodletting. Little is known of what drives Warhound other than the quest for violence, save that wherever there is battle and slaughter, it is assured that this daemonic weapon will be in the thick of the carnage.

Warhound is a +3 magical battle ax. It is large and unwieldy, requiring a user with at least STR 16 and CON 13 in order to use it without penalty (for every point of STR and/or CON below these minimums, the ax is at a cumulative -1 to hit). The ax is made from daemon-possessed black iron, its blade fashioned into a row of fangs, it's back-spike forged to resemble a snarling canine head, the hilt wrapped in crimson demonic hide. If a successful attack ever does full damage (i.e., the player rolls an "8" on the 1d8 damage roll), the victim must make a CL 7 Charisma Save or suffer 1d12 points of additional damage as Warhound drains away part of the victim's spirit. In addition, Warhound has the ability to cast Shout, Fear, and Confusion each once per day at 7th level.

Warhound is also a sentient weapon with a Personality Score of 20. It is a Chaotic Neutral item, meaning that any character or creature that tries to pick it up and lacks a Chaotic alignment will lose a level or hit die until they put the ax down. Warhound possesses the ability to communicate telepathically with its wielder, regardless of language, snarling and growling its demands for violence and bloodshed whenever it and its owner aren't in the thick of battle. Warhound's only desire is to be in the middle of a fight, and if it doesn't get one regularly, it will start urging its owner towards starting a fight so it can slake its thirst for bloodshed. The first day that Warhound does not get to fight, roll a d20. On a 20, the ax tries to take over its owner (make a Personality Score check) and force the owner to commit violence. For each successive day, continue to roll, but add a cumulative +1 modifier to the roll (so for example, on the fifth day, roll and add +4).

As you can see, at first blush any Chaotically-aligned fighter type PC is going to think this is the best thing ever. Not only is Warhound a potent weapon on the battlefield, but the ability to distrupt enemies with its spells means that even large formations of troops can be neutralized quickly. However, the weapon's strong Personality and drive towards constant violence will, in the end, become more of a burden than a boon to even the most hard-campaigning PCs. Warhound will not suffer quietly any period of prolonged downtime, and sooner or later the PC will have to fight to maintain control or the weapon will possess its wielder and strike out against the first target of opportunity, either other PCs or random bystanders. In the end, the PCs will probably be looking for a way to get rid of Warhound, but with its telepathic abilities, if the owner actively tries to get rid of it (or allow someone to take it away), Warhound will immediately try to take control of its owner and strike out. The GM has to remember that more than anything else, Warhound wants to fight, and it will do anything it can to stay in the hands of someone who'll let it keep on fighting as long as possible, even if that means betraying its owner in order to put it in someone else's hands.

That about sums it up - questions, comments? This is not an item meant for low-powered games and/or low-level PCs, and it will require players who are willing to accept the fact that the item might take over their PC if they don't give it what it wants. It will require a modicum of roleplaying and some maturity to get the most out of this item, but if nothing else, it can create some very dramatic moments of gaming if the GM uses Warhound to its fullest potential.

No comments: