Fantastic Creation: Kaiho-sha, the Liberator

Another entry for the RPG Blog Carnival: Fantastic Creations.  Kaiho-sha, the Liberator.

I read a story a few years ago, where one of the supporting characters (a warrior and leader of men) had been enslaved.  After being freed (rescued by an ally) he decided to take the chain that had bound him and have it made into a sword that he could use to hunt other slavers.

This struck me as a really cool idea, so I decided to make up a magic weapon with a similar backstory that embodied the spirit of freedom, liberation, and vengeance.

I long ago lost all the notes on this.  With enough digging it might be possible to find them in somewhere, but I figured I’d start over instead.

Kaiho-sha, the Liberator

Campaign Role

The Liberator is a symbol of freedom, liberty, and vengeance, coveted by those who are oppressed, trod-upon, and enslaved.

Kaiho-sha is a a threat to those who would try to oppress others, or have caused injustice or betrayal requiring vengeance.

This weapon can be easily concealed, is remarkably useful in freeing those who are imprisoned, and helps protect its wielder from being compelled against his will.


Asano Naganori was a moderately powerful lord (perhaps on the order of a duke in western Europe).  He was assassinated and his position usurped by the Kira family, headed by Kira Yoshihisa.

Maseki Yoshitaka was a vassal of Asano who refused to give fealty to Kira, remaining loyal to his liege.  Kira Yoshihisa denied him the the opportunity to commit seppuku and honorably die.

Maseki Yoshitaka eventually managed to escape, and had Kaiho-sha forged from the chains that had bound him. He now had a tool to avenge his master’s betrayal.

Description and Identification

Kaiho-sha often takes the form of an apparently poorly-made and ill-used katana.  The edge is somewhat wavy, the blade has an irregular surface, and instead of the normal striated pattern seen on properly-made swords, whorls and loops can be seen.  This is deceptive; Kaiho-sha can also take the form of similar blades (wakizashi, tanto), or any one of a number of chain weapons such as the kusari-fundo or manrikigusari.

The Liberator may have been involved if slavekeepers or prison guards have been found, probably dead, with marks from a mix of edged and chain weapons.  Bindings, locks, and other tools of captivity are open, cut, or broken.

It is not known where this weapon is, which makes many people in power nervous, and somewhat more liberal in their treatment of prisoners than they used to be.  Kaiho-sha is suspected to have been used in any number of prison breaks, and a fair number of assassinations have been attributed to its wielder.


Kaiho-sha usually has the form a a sword, knife, or chain weapon, and retains this single shape.  It exhibits no particular power or benefit to its use, and its magic is masked.  However, it does have a tendency to find its way into the hands of someone who can make use of its powers, such an escaping prisoner or someone unjustly accused and punished.  The Liberator can rarely be found if searched for, but may be stumbled on in need.

When found, if the wielder has cause he may grant Kaiho-sha purpose by committing to a goal.  Revenge against betrayal, liberation of the enslaved, and the like are likely choices.  The goal must be achievable (have a specific ‘win’ condition).

When Kaiho-sha has purpose, its powers become more evident.  First, the Liberator can change forms among those described above at the will and need of its wielder.  Kaiho-sha can also take the form of a tattoo or similarly-shaped scar on the body of its wielder as needed in order to conceal itself.

Kaiho-sha grants its wielder the abilities of a third-level rogue (six ranks in Open Lock, Disable Device, Hide, Move Silently, Escape Artist, Search (with Trapfinding ability), all using Kaiho-sha as masterwork tools as needed; Trap Sense +1, Sneak Attack +2d6) when used in ways consistent with the purpose.  That is, the Sneak Attack works only when facing the sworn enemies or when trying to rescue those the wielder has sworn to liberate, most of the skills are similarly situational.  The wielder also gains the Rogue’s slippery mind ability.

As the Liberator’s wielder gains experience by working toward his goals, Kaiho-sha gains the same experience.  As Kaiho-sha’s level increases the named benefits also increase (additional ranks in the named skills, improved sneak attack and Trap Sense, and so on).  Locks and other devices defeated by Open Lock or Disable Device are generally destroyed rather than harmlessly and subtly dealt with.

Again, I don’t use enhancement bonuses in my campaign, but if you do, Kaiho-sha starts with a +1 enhancement bonus and increases that by +1 for every three levels gained.

Closing Comments

I considered making Kaiho-sha a sorcerer, much as I did with Beobachten, but I decided I wanted something less noticeably ‘magic’.  A skill-driven item (treated as Rogue levels instead of Sorcerer levels) seemed to fit the bill.

I’m still not certain about the other Rogue abilities, but given the constraints on their use I think Kaiho-sha may also grant the Evasion, Uncanny Dodge, and ‘Rogue Special Abilities’ when working toward its goal.


    • Sorry, I missed your comment. Busy, busy weekend.

      Aid another would be an obvious choice, yes. Having the effects overlaps would make this item (mostly) useless to most rogues, unless they are lower level than the weapon… and that would suck.

      I really don’t like having to make multiple rolls, though. I long ago changed skill synergy so it gave a bonus equal to ranks/5, I suppose it could apply here.

      Or I could go dead simple and just let the things stack. Your rogue just got a six-rank boost in Open Locks, but it’s going to be remarkably unsubtle — where before he might have quietly and secretly picked a lock, then closed it again as he left, here he just smashes it open.

      It occurs to me that I might not have been clear above that the rogue skills and abilities only apply when following the shared purpose. That is, the skills probably won’t be useful for a random treasure quest, but would be for rescuing captives, escaping captivity, gaining access to a sworn enemy, or even stealing his Secret Weapon.

      This may be a question requiring a campaign-specific answer. I’m reasonably okay with any of the answers above — overlapped effects, Aid Another, skill synergy, or straight-up stacking (with limitations on applicability).

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