Monday, September 15, 2014

Why are so many Smart Swords Good? More on Intelligent Weapons

  Some of the numbers from my first post on this topic are a little surprising: 25% of all magical swords have at least a special ability, an alignment, and an intelligence score; talking swords are as statistically likely as potions of healing; good-aligned characters can use many more intelligent weapons than evil-aligned characters.
  I want to talk about that last fact for a little bit today.
  If you analyze the distribution of aligned swords by the ethical axis (Lawful, Neutral, Chaotic) it looks like this:

  Chaotic: 20%
  Lawful: 35%
  Neutral: 45%

  So intelligent swords skew slightly toward Neutral, then Lawful, and are Chaotic least often.

  If you analyze the distribution of aligned swords by the moral axis (good, neutral, evil) it looks like this:

  Evil: 15%
  Neutral: 35%
  Good: 50%

  Showing that intelligent swords are mostly Good, then Neutral with few being Evil.  The single largest grouping of sword alignment (as the first post showed) is Lawful Good.

  So it appears that the majority of wizards and clerics who make magical swords with special abilities are, themselves, Good - 25% of the time specifically Lawful Good!
  Why do I assume this? Well, I don't think a Lawful Evil mage would craft a Neutral Good sword. As a matter of fact, he might not be able to!  The very nature of alignment means that a Chaotic Good crafter might make a Chaotic Neutral weapon and might make a Neutral Good weapon, but almost certainly will only make a Chaotic Good weapon, and this would hold true for each other alignment, too.
  Depending on the specific origins of the alignment and intelligence of the weapon and method of placing them in the sword (which is a future post) they might be restricted to only making weapons that match their own alignment.
  We can also assume that since druids can make magic items, and druids can use swords (scimitars count) that a rather large percentage of the True Neutral swords are actually scimitars for druids or other swords made by druids for followers, allies, etc. If we do this it implies that the overwhelming majority of non-Druid-crafted intelligent swords are made by good guys.

  But - why? Are most magical swords made by good guys or is it just that most intelligent magical swords are made by good guys?

  My oldest son has a theory - quality over quantity.
  Or as he put it,
  "An Evil Overlord Dark Wizard all in black with lambent red eyes is going to crank out a bunch of +1 swords for his Horde of Mooks. His lieutenant is going to be a Charmed Half-Ogre with a +3 club of Dwarf Crushing and his scout is going to be a Shadow Demon from an Iron Flask."
  "The white-robed Advisor to Good Kings is going to forge a mighty implement of Good to be wielded by the king's best knight, a man who is a paragon of virtue and honesty."
  I tend to agree. After all, let's look at the overall Evil vs. Good picture in AD&D.
  Quick aside: I tend to play the same 'game' as the Hill Cantons - the DMG, etc. are always right. I tend to find that if you look around you will see that not only do the odd bits actually work, they often make sense and have an internal consistency.
  Orcs and such? Large numbers of scum with lots of low-level thugs.
  Elves and such? Fewer troops overall but with an edge in quality and their leaders are fewer, but individually tougher.
  Demons and Devils? Lots and lots of (relatively) low powered mooks all over.
  Celestials? A handful of big guns like Planetars and Solars.
  Bad guys? Uhhh - fighters and assassins.
  Good guys? Paladins.
  Paladins are rare. If you roll 3d6 in order as Gary intended only 1 in 1,000 stats sets will qualify for paladin. If you just look at my past articles on the implications of the henchman rules you'll see that NPC paladins are much rarer than that. That being the case, why are there so many Holy Avengers?
  Because Good is about a few elite, well-equipped, highly-trained specialists both dealing out a great deal of damage and being able to survive a great deal of damage.

  Bad guys tend to rely upon large numbers and rapid replenishment of forces. They hit you with wave after wave of ill-trained, poorly-equipped sword fodder and if they lose, well, there are more where that came from!
  [As I was writing this Wombat wrote a cool post at his Den of Gaming Iniquity. Worth a read!].

  So why are so many swords Good? because good guys have more motication to make them and can trust their wielders to not turn on the creators!

  The next article will be about more implications of the DMG and MM.