Fantastic Creation: Beobachten, the Dragon Watching

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For my first entry for the RPG Blog Carnival: Fantastic Creations, I decided to write up a magic sword that has been lurking in my mind for over a decade.

I have long had the image of a sword with a pommel shaped like a dragon’s head.  The sword can ‘breathe fire’ from the dragon’s mouth.  It wasn’t much to start with, but I like where it went.

(As a possible point of interest, this item is presented using my Entity template, from the Campaign Setting Design series.  Everything from the Name down to the label ‘Mechanics’ is straight out of the template, the mechanics section is the only bit that is specific to how the item is implemented.  I find this works really well as a GM for seeing how things fit together in-game.  That the item is functionally little more than a sixth-level sorcerer isn’t important to me until I go to use it in play.)

Beobachten, The Dragon Watching

Campaign Role

Beobachten is a bastard sword enchanted by binding the soul of a dragon, and retains a surprising amount of its original spirit.

The Dragon Watching wants its freedom, and to accumulate wealth.  Whether the accumulation of wealth will help achieve the goal, or is just a habit of the dragon inhabiting the blade, is unknown.  He would be delighted to gain his vengeance on Gidr Farnsehame, but has been kept well away from the wizard.

It will act as it sees fit, and will be as reliable an ally as a dragon might be expected to be.  If properly courted it will share information about the location of treasures — for a share.

Relationships

The relationships below are not fully defined, and may be replaced or adjusted pretty easily.

  • Nakeshrontaraan, red dragon bound to the sword Beobachten.  Last seen four decades ago, truename known only to his binder.  Speaking his truename while wielding the blade in the place he was bound will release him… but he is unlikely to reward the speaker kindly.
  • Gidr Farnsehame, the wizard who bound Nakesh’ to the sword.  Long past his prime physically, still a power to be reckoned with.  Crafted Beobachten to gain his freehold, the Barony [almost in name only] of Flante.

There have been several (five to seven) wielders, starting with the son of the Duke who granted Gidr his barony (in a gods-forbidding area — Gidr defeated and bound Nakesh’ as part of making the region livable and surrendered the sword to the Duke to get it away from him; the sword was rather unhappy with him… and had power to do something about it).

Description and Identification

Beobachten is a 4’9″ bastard sword made of steel with reddish highlights.  There is a slight curve to the blade (a little less than that of a katana), but the truly distinctive element is the handle — it has a warm, scaly texture to the touch, the guard is a pair of draconic ‘arms’ with open claws, and the pommel is a dragon’s head facing the direction the wielder would hold the blade.

When used in combat, there is often fire and spell casting involved, even when there is no evident caster present (Beobachten can act with some independence, as he gains power).  If a treasure is only partially looted, usually the most valuable items are taken first, and the protections against them defeated, either cleanly or forcefully.  He will try to arrange to be part of quests or missions to gather treasure, but information about Gidr Farnsehame (or his descendants and heirs) and the opportunity to wreak havoc and vengeance on them will be most welcome as well.  The accumulation of great wealth seems of greater immediacy; the ruination of Gidr’s line is a longer-term goal.

The Dragon Watching will ally himself with the most likely to serve his purpose.  This usually means strong enough to survive, but Beobachten has learned that he can be overpowered (as evidenced by his binding) and can work to guide his owner in this case.  If it really becomes a problem, guide his owner to his doom.

Mechanics

Beobachten is a magic bastard sword.  I don’t use enhancement bonuses, but if you do he starts as a +2 weapon and gains another +1 every three levels he gains.  As he accumulates treasure (see below) he becomes more powerful.  He was an old red dragon (normally Int 20, wis 21, Cha 20, currently Int 17, Wis 16, Cha 19, and mildly  insane).  He has the powers of a sorcerer (starting at sixth level, see below), and as he gains experience (one experience point per gold piece he gains) his powers increase.  Every level he gains he recovers one point each of Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma, to the normal values.

Spell Casting

The Dragon Watching is considered a sixth-level sorcerer for the purpose of casting spells. He will act as he sees fit, but can be ‘persuaded’ to cast spells and perform specific tasks by giving him money (10 * caster level * spell level).  For instance, having him cast as alarm spell is done by placing him point-down in a pile of treasure worth 60 gold pieces for the duration of the spell.  The treasure will be consumed and the spell remain in place until Beobachten is removed from where he was placed.  He will freely use spells as needed to acquire treasure (including locate object or knock) or to suit his own goals (including self-preservation, but not that of his wielder unless it suits him — it usually does but this is not reliable).

Spells Known

All spells should be skinned appropriately for a dragon bound in a sword.  Spells that are normally usable only on the caster may (at Beobachten’s will) be applied to his wielder instead.

  1. suggestion [bonus], protection from energy
  2. locate object [bonus], knock, shatter
  3. burning hands [bonus], alarm, comprehend languages, floating disk, disguise self
  4. detect magic, light, mage hand, open/close, arcane mark, prestidigitation, read magic

As the Dragon Watching gains levels he will learn more spells, as a sorcerer of his new level.  If there are spells that model a red dragon’s abilities particular well (such as burning hands for the dragon’s breath weapon, or locate object and suggestion — normally gained as spell-like abilities by red dragons) these spells are gained as bonus spells.  There will likely be one per level.

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  1. I like this one a lot. Seems like it could be very easily converted to a 4e artifact, given the way they have “grows in power over time as long as you’re not opposing them” built in.

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    • The short answer: I don’t know.

      Longer answer: the treasure is somehow absorbed by the sword, apparently. I think Beobachten just wants some private quality time with the treasure, and when you see the sword again the treasure is gone. For the watching and warding part it’s easy, you’re expected to be asleep while he watches over you, if you want him to cast spells on your behalf I imagine you can just pledge to him and sort it out later… and not doing so is a poor decision.

      Maybe the treasure is simply absorbed. Maybe he eats it (I suppose I should mention somewhere that the dragon’s head on the pommel can move and talk — it is an intelligent weapon after all). I honestly hadn’t thought about the mechanism when I wrote this.

      The treasure is certainly lost to the one who paid it. There might be an extra-dimensional hoard somewhere and it may be possible to recover it if you can find a way. It might be simply obliterated as part of fueling Beobachten’s growth/recovery. I deliberately left that out — nobody knows what happens with it.

      Maybe someone might look into it. Perhaps Midr Farnsehame could give some ideas…

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