by Ash Law
A plus one Dwarven hammer is just a plus one Dwarven hammer, right?
Not in 13th Age.
The new game from the minds that bought you 3rd Edition D&D and 4th Edition D&D (not to mention games such as Dreamblade, Everway, Feng Shui, Over The Edge, etc) treats each magical weapon as something special… something actually magical.
Magical items require an investment on the part of their owner, an sharing of magical energy known as ‘attunement’. Some items are intelligent and have wants and desires, some relics are as much curses as they are blessings, and some artifacts carry echos of past heroes.
Here are two Dwarven hammers, both give the same bonus to attack and damage, both are very very different.
When the Iron Sea broke and roared hungrily over the Lamphaven islands the Dwarven town of Stoneburn was swallowed. The only artifact to survive was the hammer that has come to be known as Mournstrike. The rust-pitted hammer constantly weeps sea-water, and at night the cries of the Dwarven smith who wielded the hammer can still be heard, faintly echoing from the metal as he calls out for his daughters who were swept out to sea.
To attune to Mournstrike it is necessary to dry it, a feat that can only be accomplished by holding it in a fire until the sea-water steams off it. Thereafter it grants a measure of the strength of the long-dead smith to the wielder, giving a bonus to hit and damage (+1 at Adventurer, +2 at Champion, and +3 for Epic heroes). The hammer is a d8 weapon, or d6 if wielded in one hand. Sparks and steam appear when it strikes metal.
When the hammer strikes the ground or a wall it creates a crack that leads to the sunken forge in which the smith died. Ocean water jets out of the crack, blasting those who are in the path. After a short while the crack seals.
On a natural even attack roll that hits a foe, the wielder of the hammer may choose to subtract the damage that would have been done on a miss from the damage done to the enemy that was hit and apply it to any nearby foe. As an example if a character hit with a roll of a 16 (a natural even) and does 10 damage (but would have done 2 damage on a miss) the player could subtract 2 from the damage from the hammer (doing only 8 damage to the enemy hit) and deal 2 points of damage to a nearby foe.
The wielder of Mournstrike suffers from a tendency towards melancholy and moroseness. Should the wielder over-attune the character becomes weepy with the first sip of alcohol, and will launch into long Dwarven epic songs while he or she cries into their drink. The character gains no new knowledge of the Dwarven language, and doesn’t remember the contents of the epic songs – it is the spirit of the drowned smith acting through the character.
(GMs: The water that drips from the hammer is salty and cold, red with rust. While useless for drinking the water might be useful for leaving a trail in a dungeon … or could lead monsters right to the heroes! How do dwarves react to the morose wielder of Mournstrike? Do they join in the sad drinking songs and weep for the daughters of the smith or are they angered by the profane use that the character is putting this relic to? If the bodies of the smith’s family were recovered and put to rest would the hammer’s magic change?)
Forged when the world was young and dwarf and stone were as one, this over-sized hammer is said to contain the spirits of the first seven dwarves within it. Many wars have been fought over the hammer, but those wars were long ago and nowadays most dwarves regard Gudanakammer as just an allegorical tale.
The Lost Seven
The shaft of Gudanakammer was designed to have seven rings upon it. While the rings are separated from the shaft of the hammer Gudanakammer acts as a normal d12 great-weapon (though it is indestructible by normal means). The power of the rings is such that any person holding or carrying a ring feels a pull towards the others and develops a minor personality quirk. It is possible to avoid the quirks of the rings becoming part of the personality of their owner, but dwarves have a harder time resisting. The magic of the rings does not require their owner to attune to them, and apart from Kufrik (which glows faintly at dawn and dusk even if far underground) none of the rings are magical beyond their supernatural resistance to damage and the pull they all evidence towards each other. The rings and their quirks are:
Khtic – A ring of red-gold with three pale rubies set in it. The owner of Khtic is more given to amorous feelings may begin composing epic love poems or undertaking quests to prove their love.
Nenasit-Nost – A ring of white stone shot with red veins, this ring induces an appreciation for strong drink and good honest food (and the more of both the better).
Hrakanie – A pure gold ring with uncut diamonds embedded in it, as though pushed into the still-molten metal. Hrakanie’s owner sees the value of solid workmanship over flimsy ‘art’, and will seek to accumulate objects of functional beauty (golden coins are better than a rose).
Knev – This midnight black ring sparkles with silver dust, like a night sky embedded in coal. The owner of Knev has a tendency to loyalty and stubbornness, which can result in feuds.
Kufrik – The mirror-polished surface of this mithril ring has a fine tracery of glowing lines that can only be seen at dawn and dusk. Kufrik tends to cause a dwarf-like feeling of superiority – surety in the competence of the owner and their companions.
Pykha – The interlocking stones of this ring are unpolished, the natural beauty of the deep places of the world unadorned by anything but stone-cunning. The owner of Pykha seeks to improve the lot of others, dreaming up grand engineering projects.
Lenivosk – This ring of meteoric iron and glass looks uneven and half-made as though it were naturally formed and not crafted at all. The owner of Lenivosk is content to wait and see rather than charging ahead, patient and still as a stone.
The Seven-fold Unification
Whoever puts the seven rings upon the shaft of Gudanakammer attunes to it. Thereafter it grants a bonus to hit and damage (+1 at Adventurer, +2 at Champion, and +3 for Epic heroes), and the wielder suffers no penalty for using a d12 weapon if they would normally do so. Gudanakammer can be wielded one-handed by a dwarf, though at a -2 penalty to attack. As soon as the wielder attunes lightning crackles around them and they instantly sprout a full Dwarven beard. The wielder’s native language becomes ancient Dwarven, and though they retain knowledge of their previous tongue they now speak it with a Dwarven accent.
Any attuned wielder of Gudanakammer has but to slap a rock with their open palm and in a shower of rubble and dust the rock will shatter to reveal their work. Gudanakammer’s wielder can instantly produce life-like statues, intricately carved thrones, stone tankards, even stone weapons. Gudanakammer doesn’t grant the ability to make doorways or tunnels or traps or pits, but a tunnel wall could be rubbed smooth with a touch or Gudanakammer’s wielder could chisel rock out with their finger-tips to create a bas-relief.
Gudanakammer makes it possible to kick a rock into a cloud of dust, to slap a tunnel wall so that part of the roof crumbles onto a foe, or to punch a rock and send a shower of gravel into a foe’s face. This can be done as a free action at any time; interrupting an attack roll of a nearby enemy and making the foe re-roll and take the lower of the two rolls.
Using the mystical stone-cunning ability quickly takes effort, and is draining to the wielder of Gunanakammer. Using stone-cunning in a battle to force an enemy to re-roll an attack can only be done once per day, but at the end of every battle roll a d20 – on a 16+ the ability recharges and can be used again that day.
Over-attuning causes Gudanakammer ’s rings to begin to clamor for attention, pulling the personality of the wielder of Gudanakammer this way and that. Every scene roll a d8 to see which ring overwhelms the personality of the wielder:
- Roll twice more
(GMs: Gaining Gudanakammer might be a quest all by itself. The heroes find one of the rings, and that will lead them to the next ring, and eventually to Gudanakammer. Rings of such sublime craft will doubtless be carefully guarded, and the players may not be the only group after the artifact. How will dwarves react to this ancient relic? Will they see the wielder as an unworthy interloper, an anointed hero of prophecy, or a threat? Wars have been fought over Gudanakammer, will a war erupt this time? How did the rings get scattered in the first place? If you don’t want to have Gudanakammer be a quest, you might have just one ring not on the shaft but found nearby – in which case where is Gudanakammer found and why was one of the rings removed?)
Ash Law is a player of games and dreamer of dreams. Born and raised in England he now lives in Washington State with his beautiful wife (who is kind enough to paint his minis), two cats (who like to sleep), and his two-year-old son. Ash’s son Martin would like you to know “Dragons go Rwaaar!”. So now you know. Dragons. “Rwaaar!”