Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Dwarf Chieftain Has What?! Demi-Humans and Intelligent Swords

  All of the discussion in the last article led me and the sons to go through the DMG and Monster Manual (1e, of course) and do some more number crunching. We looked specifically at two things:

  1) the powers of swords with intelligence, and
  2) the number of magical swords in the hands of NPC demi-humans

  The results are very fun.
  First, the Primary Abilities chart has a surprising amount of powers that are, well, demi-human; they mimic the racial abilities of dwarves, elves, etc. Many of the rest of the powers on the Primary Abilities chart are clerical. 38% of the powers are demi-human and 53% are at least possibly clerical, if not exclusively clerical. Only 5% are arguably only arcane (the total isn't 100% because some results are 'see other table', etc.).
  About 95% of magical swords with special abilities only have Primary abilities so the implication is that about 90% of intelligent magical swords are made by demi-humans and/or clerics.

  That changes how I look at item creation, how about you?

  Gary tells us that demi-human NPCs can make magic items, even (maybe especially) powerful ones.
  Quick aside: ever notice that when Gary discusses the creation of really powerful items he mentions that they may have been the result of lost technology?
  And we know clerics can make magic items and, unlike magic-users, they don't risk the loss of constitution to do so.
  This makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? Clerics and NPC demi-humans don't risk the loss of constitution to make permanent items - of course a great many weapons would be made by them! Suddenly all those +1 swords and axes make a bit more sense - it is either a cleric praying to God for a weapon to smite evil or a gnarled old dwarven smith chanting a battle hymn over an anvil as he shapes an axe head.

  I mentioned in the last post that one of the reasons most intelligent swords are Good is because good creators are more motivated to do so and good wielders are less likely to kill the sword maker.
  Another reason most intelligent swords are good is because a large number of the creators of intelligent swords are demi-humans.

  The Extraordinary Powers chart, however, is very, very different. Only 6% of these powers are racial (and gnomish, at that!) and 6% are exclusively clerical. The other 82% are arcane (like above, the total isn't 100% because some results are 'choose', etc.).
  This implies that the 1% of swords that are really smart and really powerful are made by magic-users or illusionists.
  This also makes a lot of sense. If a wizard is going to give up a point of constitution (or an illusionist give up years of life) he probably isn't going to make a +1 sword, he is going to make as powerful a weapon as he can!

  Last, but certainly not least, we looked at the Special Purpose powers. As I mentioned previously, only about 3 in 1,000 magical swords have a Special Purpose and the Special Purpose powers are pretty much evenly divided between magic-users and clerics, although clerics have a bit of an edge.
  Say it with me - this makes sense. Really, really powerful clerics and magic-users that can make a powerful swords probably would, but clerics would be more likely to do so because they don't face the same penalties.

  After we did this analysis we did some number crunching on the demi-human listings in the Monster Manual. In the middle of this we realized something; the fact that only humans and demi-humans have specific listings for individual magic weapons, etc. while humanoids do not is entirely consistent with what we are learning by examining these charts - demi-humans and humans can much more readily make enchanted items! While we can assume that shamans and witch-doctors can and do make magic items these are probably almost always scrolls and potions; they rely upon evil humans and gifts from extra-planar creatures for the magic items they do not steal.
  [my oldest son is creating a supplement with write-ups for humanoid shamans and witch-doctors and item creation rules for them]
  Anyway, after crunching the numbers we discovered the following things to be statistically so;

  - 1 out of 2 large dwarven lairs has an intelligent magical sword (this is because dwarves prefer axes and hammers, or the number would be higher)
  - 2 out of 3 large halfling lairs have an intelligent magical sword
  - Each large gnome lair has an intelligent magical sword
  - Each large elven lair has an intelligent magical sword

  As I said in the first post  - HOLY MOLEY! This really changes how we look at NPC demi-humans, doesn't it? After all, it looks like each and every elven chieftain has an intelligent sword!

More on smart weapons next!

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