I guess this post serves as a love letter to that queen of the polearms, the Halberd. I’ve always had a fondness for them; even before Gygax and his meticulous tables of weapons, my boyhood love of knights in shining armor was absolute and the halberd claimed a part of my imagination early. A family friend, born and raised in West Germany, gave a very young Dungeons & Possums a gift my heart cherishes to this day even if I have long since lost the objects themselves: a castle toy from his childhood in West Germany ca the 1960s! I can still picture that set of knights and horses if I close my eyes, and the knights I was most fascinated with were the soldier standing guard with a halberd and the gent armed with a mace.
Some other day, I’ll write some magical maces. Today, though, I’ll write some magical halberds. Behold!
|Roll||Magical Halberd of Legend|
|1||By Grief, For Coin|
|4||Thunder of Bel-Hadaad|
1. By Grief, For Coin
A rugged, honest weapon; a true soldier’s implement. Once owned by a sellsword who caroused and fought away the sorrow of becoming a young plague widower. To finance his drink-induced amnesia, he joined with a ragtag band of mercenaries and took refuge in the camaraderie of war. The songs and libations kept him warm until a quail-fletched arrow turned his heart as cold as its iron point. This halberd bears inscriptions (in a decidedly amateur hand) of its nom de guerre as well as campaign locations across its chipped blade.
It never seems to rust or need sharpening, though it never looks shiny and new either, no matter how much care is given. If used within a group of greater than 7 warriors of any vocation or class, it seems to shimmer and gains +1 to damage rolls; this effect increments for every multiple of 7 in the party’s retinue, but ceases if any in the party are slain or otherwise depart and the count is reduced below 7.
e.g., four adventurers and their three hirelings would grant +1 bonus damage and a faint glow, while eight adventurers and their thirteen porters and spearmen would grant +3 and luminescence akin to a torch!
Formerly the artifact of office of the guard captain from a trade hub located in the verdant foothills to the northeast. It was passed down from each guard captain to their successor in turn for two centuries in a ceremony of great pomp. It is decorated with trailing ribbons of blue and goldenrod yellow and copious engravings. Its haft is comprised of a rare silvery elf-oak limb, said to be part of an ancient treaty with the sylvan folk who gave their blessing to the travel of caravans through their wooded mountain passes after years of conflict was resolved peaceably.
It will only allow itself to be wielded by a bearer of lawful alignment, and for this person, it will cast detect evil once per day. It can strike specters and other ghastly creatures which can only be damaged by enchanted weapons.
3. Fulgar’s Shame
In the lost kingdom of Garlaf, twice forgotten by time, there was a man of unassailable public aspect. His were times of peace and plenty; few had to test their mettle – until the men of red horses arrived with a storm at their backs. Inch by agonizing inch, they claimed the kingdom of Garlaf with fiery arrows and spears. When at last they came for Fulgar’s demesne, his folk stood fast, assured of his character. When the dust settled, nothing stood in the blood-soaked halls of Fulgar’s home save for his untouched halberd. In the years to follow, many said they saw a vagrant with Fulgar’s eyes; maybe they only imagined it.
Fulgar’s Shame is cursed, and a character who collects it and uses it in battle will be compelled to keep it and reclaim it if lost, discarded, or stolen. The halberd still sings on stormy nights: a mournful dirge clearly audible for 60′ even in lashing rains and driving winds. Those who become attuned to it can sense the song will only stop once the halberd takes part in an act of great bravery.
Once used in an act of truly selfless courage, the singing stops for good and this halberd becomes Fulgar’s Redemption, which is a +1 polearm. It can cast protection from evil 10′ radius once per day if used by a lawful character.
4. Thunder of Bel-Hadaad
Spoken of in legends of antiquity, the temple island of Alahaz was known as the lush and fruitful home of blessings great and small. These gifts called out to Litanu, the the Serpent of Seven Heads, whose coiling grasp encircled Alahaz. His avarice drove him to slither from the murky sea depths and stake claim to the libraries and holy scriptures of young humanity held there. From their altars, the priestesses of this ancient garden cried out against the shaking of the earth and the cruel tides threatening to swallow their wonders. Their prayers found the gods more easily in those days, for they lived much closer to Elysium than we do now. Suddenly, his arrival foretold by a flash of lightning, in the roaring sky above Bel-Hadaad stood astride two great clouds – and with his great bellowing voice, he stunned Litanu. While the Serpent reeled, Bel-Hadaad summoned the storm’s fury and formed it into a great weapon, and with this weapon he bisected the serpent from his seven heads.
This artifact is a +2 weapon made of lightweight cloud steel; furthermore, versus serpentine foes its critical range is 17-20, and versus these foes its damage die can explode.
5. The Headsman
Previously owned by a towering soldier-turned-woodsman called Grigorii, who became fed up with banditry and corruption on or around the winter solstice of Year 364 of the Second Age. Amidst great famine and hardship caused by wanton bands of marauders and the inaction of the nervous baroness, Grigorii fashioned an executioner’s hood for himself and took with him the tool of his trades. For fifty days and fifty nights he stalked the fort city of Zvolengrad with his simple iron weapon in hand, until at last the caravans came safely through once more. Grigorii’s polearm was immortalized on the city’s coat of arms, though the beech-hafted weapon itself was lost some years ago.
With simple workmanship borne of necessity, this halberd has a mottled, hammered texture. The shortened haft is wrapped in places with worn leather. It double’s the user’s STR modifier on damage rolls.
In the island archipelago of Minas Toth there are a dozen tribes of warrior queens, whose daughters are raised for only two purposes: to courageously defend their people from sahuagin raiders, and to compete every four years in the great athletic trials of the Gods Who Watch. The bravest of these princesses win their tenure as the next queen of queens.
Princessbite was forged for Cassiovanda I, daughter of Auvrian IV and eventual queen of the People of the Purple Shell. Its blade is shaped like the carnivorous bivalve for which her tribe is named, and most of its surface is a pale verdegris. A seal of reed paper is bound to it; the witches of the lagoon blessed it with hymns of bravery. It was honored in the treasures of Minas Toth for centuries until their islands were deluged and all was presumed lost to the seas.
Sahuagin and other fishpeople or merfolk respond with fear when they see this weapon, and may flee. The wielder of this blade can shout at a target once per day; that target may roll a save vs spell and if they should fail, they are compelled to engage in single combat with the wielder.
That’s about it for these six halberds. Perhaps one day I’ll write another batch. For now, I hope someone finds the opportunity to put one of these in a dragon’s hoard or sunken treasure. If you do, I hope you have as much fun with it as I had with this little chap (and all his friends) almost twenty years ago: