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Casium - The Sword of Halav

by Donald Eric Kesler

The vessel for this artifact is an unadorned bronze sword (Sword +1, +3 vs. Humanoids). It has no markings to indicate that it is unusual or significant. A historian or weapon smith could identify the weapon as having been forged around 1000 BC. Naturally, any attempt to destroy this weapon will reveal its nature as a vessel for an artifact.

Power Points: 244

Attack Powers: 3

15 PP - Weapon Damage Bonus +2 (Duration 2 Turns).
20 PP - Attack Roll Bonus +2 (Duration 2 Turns).

Both of these powers will activate whenever the wielder is in melee with a humanoid and employing the Sword of Halav. These powers will also activate if the wielder is engaged in battle with an Immortal who the patron of a humanoid race. Neither one of these powers will activate if the bearer of the Sword of Halav is in battle with either a Hutaaka or a Lupin.

50 PP - Slicing (Duration: 6 Turns; Effect: Instantly kills on roll of 19 or 20). Immortal Victims take double damage from the attack, but are not instantly killed.

This power only affects the Sword of Halav. It activates when the wielder has lost at least half of his or her hit points and is engaged in a battle. The power will deactivate if the wielder's hit points are raised above half.

Information & Movement Powers: 1

30 PP - Tracking (Duration: 6 hours; Effect: 90% outdoor, 50% indoor).

This power activates when the wielder of the artifact is attempting to track humanoids or demihumans who threaten the Traldar lands (modern day Karameikos). It does not work on tracks left by either Hutaaka or Lupin.

Transformation Powers:1

75 PP - Victory (Effect: +25 to War Machine Combat Results Roll; loss results on CRT limited to 91-100 results)

This power activates whenever the bearer of the artifact is leading a force into battle. In order for this power to work, the wielder must be in the front lines of the conflict and wielding the Sword of Halav. Naturally, this power will not activate if the wielder is leading a force against either Hutaaka or Lupin troops.

Defensive Powers:1

30 PP - Ability Score Bonus (Duration: 6 Turns; Effect: Charisma is increased to an 18).

This power activates whenever the wielder of the Sword of Halav attempts to convince others to join him or her in his efforts to destroy those who threaten the lands of the Traldar people (modern day Karameikos). The sword does not have to be drawn in order for this power to work; however, it must be on the wielder's person. This power, unlike some of the others, could be used to help recruit allies in a war against the Hutaaka.

Handicaps: 2

Extra Damage from Magic: The bearer of the Sword of Halav always takes the maximum possible damage from any spell that inflicts damage. This handicap will reverse itself after the character has been free of the artifact for sixty days.

Obsession: The user's mind becomes fixed upon the goal of delivering the Sword into the hands of the one most capable of leading the Traldaran people. If the player character wielding the sword honestly believes that he or she is the most capable leader available, then the objective of the obsession is met. It is highly unlikely that you average player character will honestly believe that he or she is the most qualified to lead. If your players are prone toward munchkin like behaviour then just select another handicap.

Penalties: 3

Spell Effect: There is a 40% chance that whenever the slicing power is activated that a modified form of the Fireball spell will discharge (As magic-user 3rd level spell; range 0'; Effect: 20D6 damage). While the mechanics of this are very similar to a standard Fireball spell, the visual affect is quite different. Basically, the wielder of the sword appears to move very fast around the area, striking furiously at everyone within 20' with the sword.

Like the standard version of the spell the area of effect is 40'X40'; however, the range on this modified version of the spell is zero. The spell does not affect the wielder of the artifact, but it does affect everyone else, friend or foe. Also, spell that reduce the damage caused by fire don't affect this spell.

Spell Effect: There is a 20% chance that whenever the tracking power is activated that a Create Normal Monsters spell will be activated ( As magic-user 7the level spell; range 30'; duration 2 turns; effect 40 HD). This spell always creates humanoids who are hostile to the wielder of the sword.

It works like this. The wielder is attempting to track some orcs. The bearer of the artifact is trying so hard to find orcs, that the sword makes some for him or her.

Magic Destruction: There is a 65% whenever the Victory Power is used that all magical items owned by the wielder will become permanently non-magical.

History as the Player Characters Know it:

In ancient times, the land called Karameikos was the forest homeland of the Traldar, men and women so favoured by the Immortals, and allowed to live in these beautiful lands. But all that ended when the Beast-Men came from the west seeking plunder and destruction.

The Immortals descended to Lavv, a Traldar village, to find clever youths and give them secrets and magics that they could use to defeat the Beast-Men. One such youth was Halav Red-Hair, a maker of stone knives. The Immortals gave this youth a sword forged of bronze. It was Casium, the sword of the King. They also instructed Halav Red-Hair in the arts of war. He learned how to make weapons and armour of bronze. He mastered the way of the sword and the strategy of warfare.

Halav Red-Hair went before the people of Lavv and told them what the Beast-Man intended. The people of Lavv listened and heard the truth, but the "so-called" King of Lavv laughed and attempted to drive Halav Red-Hair out of Lavv. Using the sword of bronze given to him by the Immortals, Halav Red-Hair slew this false King with a single blow and assumed the throne.

In the years that followed, Halav Red-Hair united the lands. Whenever possible, he used words to inspire others to follow him. When opposition forced him to fight, he fought without fear for he knew that the Immortals favoured him.

The rest of the tale is familiar to you all. King Halav Red-Hair and his companions fought long and hard against the hordes of Beast-Men. These years of fighting finally culminated in a final battle between King Halav Red-Hair and the king of the Beast-Men. Both fell in this final battle, but the lands of the Traldar were free from the danger presented by the Beast-Men.

After this final battle, as he lay bleeding out his life's blood on the hard and dusty ground, Halav Red-Hair commanded his honour guard to conceal Casium in a secret place. It is the sword of the King of the Traldar people. It will return to the land when one who is worthy to lead the Traldar shall appear.

History as the Immortals Know it:

Around the year 1000 BC, Gnolls, created by the Nithian Empire, migrated West into the lands that currently comprise the Kingdom of Karameikos. Ill prepared to meet this threat, the Hutaaka retreated into their hidden valley, leaving the vast majority of the Traldar people in the low lands to act as a buffer against these invading hordes of chaotic humanoids.

In an uncharacteristic move, Pflarr opted to intervene on behalf of the race that he created. Perhaps he was moved to act because he was offended by the Nithian's attempt to create a slave race that resembled his own Hutaaka. As always, Pflarr remains inscrutable. What is clear is that Pflarr did not want the Hutaaka to abandon their intellectual and aesthetic centred culture. To do this end, he created an artifact to be wielded by the Traldar who were acting as a buffer. After creating this weapon, Pflarr moved on to other pursuits, leaving its fate in the hands of mortals.

The Hutaaka decided that the King of Lavv, Halav Red-Hair, possessed the necessary skills to lead the Traldar into war against the invading Gnolls. As we know from The Song of Halav, the war was long and brutal, but the united Traldar people finally managed to drive the invading humanoids away from the lands of the Traldar.

At the end of the war, Halav's followers did conceal Casium in a secret place. They believed that either Halav himself or another would one day come to the land to lead the Traldar people toward a new golden age. It is up to the Dungeon Master to decide where this artifact is located and what guardians protect it.

Campaign Use:

The sword of Halav is not just a potent weapon. It is a tangible symbol from the legendary golden age of the Traldar people. Tradition holds that he who bears the Sword of Halav acts on Halav's behalf. As such, any reasonably reverent Traldaran will accord the wielder of the artifact a measure of respect that may very well be greater than is his or her due. Furthermore, if the wielder of Casium assumes a role of leadership in the lands of the Karameikos, his or her efforts will prove far more fruitful simply because the Traldarans have great faith in whoever bears the sword. This is not a magical effect. This simply reflects the faith that the Traldarans have in their ancient legends.

Naturally, this can eventually have a detrimental effect on the wielder of the Sword of Halav. If the character fails to act as a wise ruler or has a run of bad luck, the Traldarans under his rule could very well conclude that the sacred Sword is in the hands of one who is unworthy. The Traldaran's would never find fault with their faith.

In my campaign, the sword fell into the hands of a relatively low level group of adventurers in the year 1000 AC. The average level of the player characters was fifth. Once word of the artifact's discovery spread, various factions in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos wanted the sword.

Naturally, the Clerics of Halav of the Church of Traldara felt that the sword should be placed in very secure shrine. This would allow the faithful to come and find inspiration.

The Cult of Halav felt that the sword should be given to Halav. This being, Duke Stephan Karameikos.

Alfric Oderbry, Opposition Leader for the Church of Karameikos, openly denounced the party and the artifact. Claiming with great passion and conviction that the party was seeking to fool the gullible. Furthermore, Oderbry accused the party of plotting treason against the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Acting on his own, he ordered members of the Order of the Griffin to seize the sword and thwart the party.

The Radu Clan wanted the sword in order to seize control of the land for themselves. Of course, they made extensive use of the Veiled Society. Publicly, they appeared oddly neutral on the whole issue.

The Torenescu Clan also wanted the sword. While their motives were slightly more noble than the Radu Clan, they were not above playing rough in order to secure the artifact for themselves.

Finally, the Marlinev family also got involved. In a surprise move, Lady Magda Marlinev sided with Alfric Oderbry in denouncing both the artifact and the player characters as fraudulent. She was motivated by entirely different reasons. Basically, she was convinced that this was some sort of Thyatian machination orchestrated by Duke Stephen.

Baron Ludwig Von Hendriks wanted the sword for himself. While he did not actually believe that it was an Immortal artifact, he did recognise that the symbolic value could allow him to inspire the Traldaran to follow him in a coup. For this reason, he sent agents of the Iron Ring to acquire the artifact from the party.

Bargle the Infamous did not want anyone to have the sword. His research had lead him to suspect that this artifact was the genuine article. Basically, he feared that this item could disrupt the comfortable life he had established for himself in the Black Eagle Barony. Of course, Bargle does never shared his agenda with Baron Von Hendriks. Bargle secretly worked to divert the efforts of the Iron Ring in accordance with his wishes.

The attention of all of these various factions was focused on the player characters. Basically, the player characters wanted to pass the sword on to someone else; however, they felt responsible enough to worry about doing the right thing with the sword. The party was leaning heavily toward hiding the sword until they learned that this was exactly what Bargle the Infamous wanted.