Saturday, February 19, 2022

One Million Swords

Victory is not achieved by skill (attack bonuses) or luck (high dice rolls). Each combatant takes turns bidding things they are willing to sacrifice to help them achieve victory. Combat ends when one side surrenders, or when they risk their life in pursuit of victory, and fail.

  1. Whoever says "I attack!" first, goes first.
  2. They bid what resources they are staking on their victory. They can bid innate qualities or training, relevant equipment, situational advantages, and things they are willing to sacrifice. The initial bid can't be changed after this step.
  3. Their opponent must meet or exceed that bid with their own resources (qualities, equipment, advantages, sacrifices). If they don't, can't, or won't, they automatically lose the fight and are at the mercy of their foe. If they vastly exceed the original bid, nothing additional happens.
  4. Flip a coin to determine who triumphs right now. Everything the loser bid is now forfeit. Qualities no longer apply in this battle, equipment is damaged or dropped, advantages have been used up, and anything they were willing to sacrifice is in the hands of their opponent. Whatever the case, anything forfeit can no longer be bid in this battle.
  5. If a combatant wishes to flee the fight, go to Not Combat.
  6. Continue from 2, alternate who bids first each round.

  • If you are defending and respond with "I'm willing to die" that will always match whatever bid was thrown at you. If you bid "I'm willing to die" while attacking, it is serious bid, but does not automatically win.
  • You can only bid "I'm willing to cheat" if there are rules of honour in play. Afterwards, you have cheated and kicked sand in their eyes (or whatever), and you can not bid it again.
  • If you have a matching innate quality, it can make a minor situational advantage into a much stronger bid. This doesn't risk the quality
  • If you bid a single piece of armour, or a mild injury, or another tiny scrap, it won't give any benefit at all.
  • If you have a strong reason for wanting to fight, like vengeance or righteousness, good for you. It won't help you on it's own. Are you willing to die in order to accomplish it? Bid that instead
  • If you bid "My blade is poisoned" then you are showing your opponent to scare them, force them into a bad position. Whether you have bid it or not, if you cut them, they are poisoned.
  • Whether the bid is met should be adjudicated by the whole table, figuring out what each resource and advantage is "worth" in that moment. Resolve any confusing wording, and work out what is actually at stake. Once an assessment is made, stick to it for future rounds and battles.

  • If you forfeit "I've got a sword made of fire" it means you have dropped the sword, at the very least. However, you don't always have to bid the sword in order to use special powers.
  • If you forfeit "I've got a bunch of hirelings surrounding a single opponent" then they are scattered and divided (for now).
  • If you forfeit "I'm fighting a one-armed opponent", that injury no longer applies for this battle
  • If you forfeit "I'm willing to be injured" you suffer the injury. Your opponent can bid "My opponent is injured" next round, it's usually worth more than your original sacrifice
  • If you forfeit "I'm willing to die" it means your opponent can choose to just chop your head off right now.
  • If you forfeit "I'm a master swordsman" it means your training has been overcome, for this battle at least.
  • If you forfeit "I'm willing to sacrifice my status as a master swordsman", ouch...

Combat Example
Fargus and his hirelings, Bargus, Kargus, and Jim, are hidden in the dark by the side of a road. They leap out at a passing traveller, an old man wearing a cloak. They attack! Fargus bids: surprise ambush at night, outnumbered four to one, using the ability of my magic sword to flash confusing beams of light. A very solid bid indeed, the traveller will have to put up quite a lot to match it.

The passing traveller flips back his cloak, revealing a jet-black sword, and answers that bid with: "I'm a master swordsman". Oh shit.

The coin is flipped.

Heads (Fargus succeeds): The traveller can no longer use his master swordsman trait for the rest of combat, he has been outmanoeuvred. Fargus can't use the ambush advantage, since the attack is no longer a surprise

Tails (Fargus fails): The hirelings are scattered, for now, he can no longer bid the magic light beams.

Not Combat
If someone is trying to do something, and someone else wishes to prevent them, bid and flip the same as combat. The Doer bids first. If they win the flip, they achieve it.

For everything else, just discuss the situation politely amongst yourselves. Flip a coin if you really need to break a tie. Lots of things that are nearly impossible without tools, training and/or assistance are really easy once you've got them.

If you want to personify the mountain being climbed as an opponent, and start bidding back and forth using the combat routine, be my guest. You don't have to though.

Character Creation
Start with a Three Word Sword, two random things, one nice thing of your choice, and no food.
You are Very Fast/Strong/Wise/Weird (or other), and are not a master swordsman (yet).

To wield two blades at once is to court madness and calamity. That said, it's really easy to swap between swords mid-combat. It's notoriously easy to carry multiple swords, ten is barely a burden. People have remarked upon this. It's just a thing.

Any sword with an apostrophe or other punctuation in it's name is cursed. Also just a thing. "Curses" aren't usually straight maledictions, just odd restrictions and risky potentials. They can even have incredibly strong powers, seemingly without any drawback... be very careful of these ones.

All swords have secret powers, hidden capabilities, strange agendas and bizarre histories. All of them, especially the cursed ones.

How did you get your first sword?
  1. Stumbled upon in a field
  2. Family heirloom
  3. Bought at great cost
  4. Stole
  5. Looted from corpse
  6. Stabbed with it and left to die
  7. Gifted by liege
  8. Gambling
  9. In a dream
  10. Fell from the sky
  11. Awarded for bravery
  12. Showed up when you needed it

A few swords
  1. WHAT SHARP TEETH - Hydra Blade, every time a blade is shattered, two more grow in it's place
  2. QUEEN OF HARMS - Longsword of Attacking Twice in a Round
  3. WING LINE REVERIE - Can slash beyond the tip of the sword. Slashes reach further when the bearer is sturdily stood, hearty, breathing evenly and supremely focused. No maximum known distance, shortbow range has been reliably hit by masters
  4. OF NATURAL CAUSES - Constantly burns like a carefully stoked oven. If the bearer is angry, it flares up
  5. GLASS SICKLE FIELD - Absorbs spells, wounding a mage causes their magic to be sucked out rapidly
  6. WANDER EVER MORE - Any lightning bolts that strike from here to the horizon is redirected through the blade. Frightening to use, but safe for the bearer so long as they keep a very firm grip. Strongly magnetises any metal struck
  7. WE WILL SEE - Can be swallowed without harm and regurgitated with great force
  8. PARALLAX SOUL MANTLE - Ages things instead of cutting, 10 years per wound
  9. ONE THREE TEN - Can be trained to do tricks with the same ability as a loyal dog
  10. SNAPPED ANCHOR CHAIN - Wounds inflicted by this sword cannot be healed, whether naturally or through divine magic, until the blade has been broken
  11. OUT OF SORTS - Can be flown like a broom
  12. RESIDE IN PIECES - Any living flesh cut remains alive, and can be reattached without too much hassle
  13. STRENGTH TEN MEN - When swung, leaves a solid afterimage of itself behind for a moment, which then slashes forward as well to catch up to the original
  14. APOLOGIES FOR INCONVENIENCE - Absorbs ambient light. When struck, it releases all absorbed light in a bright flash
  15. VAST TRIGRAM QUILL - Has a random effect each time it draws blood
  16. CLEAN CANDLE FLAME - Can change in size from a dagger to a massive claymore that flexes under it's own weight
  17. WATER WILLOW WAND - Cannot be dirtied or tarnished in any way
  18. CORPSE TO QUEST - Points towards the last being it injured
  19. SURGING IRON HEART - While the bearer is shouting their defiance, renders them violently immune to one magical effect (is gravity a magical effect?)
  20. NINE TON MALLET - Weight of blade and force of blows is multiplied by the number of rings slotted onto blade
  21. POX HOUSES BLEED - Melts through non-magical blades
  22. DEEP HOUND SONGS - When the pommel is twisted, the blade breaks into a cloud of spinning particles. The particles have no chance against armour, but shred bare flesh like acid. When the pommel is twisted back, the blade reforms, so long as all the particles can reach the hilt
  23. MURDER MOST FOUL - The first time each day it injures a foe causes an explosion of twisted flesh, enough to permanently mutilate if not kill outright. Resets at midnight
  24. RELIC OF JUPITER - Wounded foes bleed great gouts of multi-coloured, slightly toxic smoke. You are immune, and anyone that breaths in the smoke glows to your eyes
  25. HER STOLEN SMILE - When you take a firm fighting stance, you create an illusion of yourself in that position. You also turn invisible for 4 seconds, -1 for each limb moved
  26. RED IN DEED - Any time you wound an opponent, you can have them bleed an object of your choice made of blood. Must fit through the wound without making the injury worse
  27. DEAF AND BLIND - Any object you touch with the blade, that isn't being firmly held by someone else, teleports into your pockets or backpack
  28. DEAD SHALL RUN - You can push and pull anything dead like a giant with a broom is sweeping them
  29. DAWNING HORROR VISION - You can mark an opponent for death. The sword vanishes, reappearing hanging over their head. Any time they are at risk of dying, the sword falls
  30. YON LATELY LIE - Any fluid poured into the pommel flows onto the edges of the blade. Any fluid
  31. RUSTY OLD THEURGE - The round after touching the blade to a religious or culturally significant artefact, the artefact smokes for a bit, then explodes like a bomb. Does the same thing to religious or culturally significant people, like the pope, or a king
  32. MOON DAY HASTE - Exists only in the mind of the bearer. Appears only when they focus on its existence, popping into reality to parry a blow or stab a foe, then vanishing again
  33. GRIM MOUNTAIN CARVE - Can be set loose to attack foes. Difficult to re-capture unless it has killed at least once
  34. CRIMSON VERTEBRATE TIDE - If this blade cannot overcome the defence of a foe, it will twist and mutate in order to do so
  35. BLOOM CLOUD FATE - Each time the blade strikes it also absorbs a random disease, curse, or sin from the target. Looks gradually more menacing over time. Should it be broken, all the malice stored within will be released
  36. FLOATING ACOLYTE WHIP - Allows the bearer to double jump, run on walls and backflip at any moment
  37. I SEE YOU - Vibrates with unwholesome frequencies and nauseating tones. If a weapon is used to parry a blow from this blade, the target feels like their funny bone has been whacked, and any metal armour it hits makes the flesh underneath feel like it is squirming painlessly apart
  38. CROOKED CRYPT GATHERING - When a target is attacked using this blade, if there is literally any other way they could have been injured or hurt, they will attribute it to that instead
  39. SHADOW WATER FAR - Able to slice through sounds, preventing speech or the noise of footsteps. Most kinds of spell-casting are majorly impeded
  40. CROSS GOLDEN FIELDS - Fluids slashed will remain parted for a while, like cutting through a forest using a machete
  41. CLOUDS OF TWILIGHT - Always gleams as though sunlight falls upon it. It's real sunlight, plants grow, vampires burn
  42. LONG LOST MORALS - Looks to be about the size of a large dagger, but surrounded by a much larger, invisible sword
  43. BELOVED OF WINE - When pointed at a creature you intend to kill, it pulses with the creature's heartbeat. Works through stone, but not lead
  44. YES VILE THOUGHT - Comes with a matching winged gremlin-imp. Mostly obedient, especially if asked to do fun things. If the gremlin is killed, a new one will form soon
  45. IRON LIFE FOREST - Can extract unique abilities and martial prowess from slain foes
  46. MARBLE GRIT VALE - Within 7 seconds of killing something, you can plunge in the sword and pull out the soul. Can fire the soul in a screaming bolt, but other uses for souls can likely be found
  47. GRATUITOUS EXPENSE ACCOUNT - Wounds it strikes are difficult to staunch and never fully heal

A few cursed swords
  1. BLUE FLESH'S WEAK - Regrows severed limbs with lizard flesh and lizard thoughts
  2. INFINITY'S LEGENDARY COST - Doubles in length every time it kills something
  3. REALLY WASN'T INVOLVED - Enhances the bearers speed while they are a running away
  4. DON'T EVEN TRY- Anything killed is stricken from existence over the next minute
  5. THOU'ST ALSO FORSAKEN - Anything you kill goes to Hell or Heaven, your choice. Choose wisely
  6. IT'S A SHIELD - Improbably wide and blunt, great at parrying and not much else
  7. LUCK O' DRAW - Eats other swords, if they are magical it mirrors the ability. Can only contain one ability at a time. Can only eat swords in combat if they are broken. Will gradually devour any swords it is left in storage with
  8. USE MARTYR'S BLADE - Anything that kills you dies horribly
  9. CUT GORD'S KNOT - Always slices through any ropes nearby
  10. ISN'T AIN'T WORST'ST - Incredibly cursed. Anything touching it, even through armour or bundled in fabric, contracts a random curse. Only inflicts one curse per person
  11. DREAM BEAST'S MARK - Falls through sheaths, and any other material, unless it is wet with fresh blood. Will fall through the earth if you drop it dry
  12. NE'ER DO WRONG - Becomes increasingly vicious and deadly day by day as the bearer starves. Resets if its wielder eats anything
  13. FINAL O'CLOCK TASTE - Drains the blood of its victims, healing the bearer. Anyone carrying it can't heal any other way
  14. 'TWIXT FAIR ROADS - Incapable of harming the innocent, underserving, or unaware
  15. FOUL WHICH'LL BREW - Cuts through armour like a cold knife through cold butter, can't harm flesh
  16. BOLDLY CAP'N SPEAKS - The bearer will never reach any place they are actively searching for
  17. HUNDREDS'TH CUT FALL - After dealing 999 wounds, the 1000th is instantly lethal
  18. SOFT SOMBER'S TONE - If the bearer is attacked while asleep, they will fight very effectively without waking. Otherwise, sharp and nimble as a club
  19. A'NOTHER GO AT - Skill with this blade increases with drunkenness. Sober fighters will be in danger of hurting themselves
  20. HEART'S PERFECT VIEW - Gains a magical power when it touches the beating heart of the current bearer
  21. SLAUGHTER/SLAY/SMITE - Contains a demon. Capable of granting martial prowess in exchange for souls or control over the bearer. If the sword is broken, the demon is freed
  22. HOLY HOLY HOLY! - Transmutes the bearers blood into burning light and blasts it towards struck foes
  23. GOT A KNIFE? - Any enemy slain rises a few minutes later as a ravenous spectre
  24. PURE HONEY-LOST - Traps the soul of slain foes permanently, dragging the ghosts along behind the bearer
  25. "TRUE THE LAST" - Binds the bearers soul into the pommel, rendering their body immune to many spells and magical effects
  26. PERISH NOT, FOREVER - Anything the blade would kill suffers a Fate Worse Then Death instead
  27. FIGHTER'S GONNA FIGHT - Constantly leaks filth, small insects, assorted miasma and mysterious fluids
  28. UPROOT MOUNTAIN'S BONES - Shockingly effective at sneak attacks and backstabs, while the bearers hand can be seen it seems to stop existing
  29. WATCH CLOSELY M'BOY - Marks the bearer as a just and goodly knight, incapable of dishonour or dishonesty
  30. CLOUD SWEEPS O'ER - Bearer is incapable of losing duels. Also incapable of ending duels in any way other than absolute victory
  31. DISTANT STAR'S LIGHT - Logarithmic beam attack, gets stronger the longer it is held still (1 round = 1 stab, 10 rounds = 2 stabs, 100 rounds = 3 stabs). Fires whenever moved
  32. BEHOLD BLACK'EST HAND - Grants an instant of martial expertise in exchange for rotting the flesh and soul a bit more, staining the hand of the bearer
  33. JUST AS PLANNED... - Instead of wounding a foe, they must take an action of your choosing
  34. FEED MORE [GORE] - While drawn, any wound taken nearby to this blade is unnaturally severe. Includes the bearer and allies in the effect
  35. I /NEED/ IT - Anyone who sees the blade drawn desperately wishes to possess it
  36. RILED MONSTER WITH'IN - Any organic material touching the hilt rapidly turns to stone
  37. REDEMPTION'S ALWAYS CHEAP - Bends reality to make sure it always wounds the target. Often puts the bearer in dangerous situations to do so
  38. NIGHT'S STILL YOUNG - Can be used to draw down falling stars. The result varies wildly, from a tiny pebble up to a devastating impact
  39. FOLLY OF "YOUTH" - While held in a two-handed grip, each blow that lands ages the bearer 1 year and brings down the crushing weight of time
  40. HOLD'S ME CLOSER - Every injury dealt is twice as severe, and every injury received by the bearer twice as severe. A certain ritual performed upon this blade can make all injuries up to four times as brutal
  41. THAT'S ALL, FOLKS - Anyone that would be killed by this, is instead whisked away under mysterious circumstances. They may return at a later date, changed in bizarre ways, or apparently not changed at all...

A few very rare swords
  1. THE FIRST SWORD - Anything it cuts, stays cut
  2. NOT A SWORD - A paradox. Looking at it or thinking about it causes madness and hastens the apocalypse
  3. GRIM REAPER'S SCYTHE - Kills everything it touches, even the hilt
  4. SIX SIX SIX - ???
  5. ARISE; DARKLING STAR - If used to kill an angel, a demon, and a man, over the next eight days all oceans and lakes visible to the sun are boiled away

They say...
  • They say The First Swordsman killed God.
  • They say The First Swordsman did no such thing, just snuck into God's Lair and stole It's Heart.
  • They say The First Swordsman snuck into God's Lair and stole all the gold and gems in the firmament.
  • They say the First Swordsman snuck into God's Lair and stole It's Heart, It's Lungs, Hair, Teeth, Eyes, Eyebrows, Eyelashes, broke It's Bones and stole those too, all the Weird Organs and Pulsing Meats. Stole it all. God didn't even wake up.
  • They say The First Swordsman made One Million Swords out of it all.
  • They say it's wrong to call them The First Swordsman. Or First Swordswoman, for that matter. I agree, I call them "The First Sworder". Because that's what they did. Fight with swords. Make swords. Buy and sell swords. Steal swords. Break swords. Swords swords swords. Sword of a lot, really.
  • They say The First Sworder can always be found at a pub on the second Friday of every month at sundown. They are always very specific about the time and date, but never about which pub in particular.
  • They say The First Sworder is scrupulously honest. If you swear an oath and end it with "and may The First Sworder strike me down if I lie", and then break that oath, you'll definitely get stabbed.
  • They say The First Sworder is actually what is left of God after they got Their everything stolen.
  • They say The First Sworder is watching you right now, no, don't look! You'll never spot them.
  • They say The First Sworder has never lost their temper, not even once.
  • They say The First Sworder has lost their temper exactly once, which is what happened to Atlantis.
  • They say The First Sworder cut the peak off the tallest mountain in the world. Just for fun.
  • They say The First Sworder can cut a falling strand of hair into four exact pieces. Lengthways.
  • They say The First Sworder has a favourite sword that is so ow so sharp you can ow, that really hurts cut yourself just by thinking about it.
  • They say The First Sworder can end any sentence just

As They Must - Twenty Three Swords-ish
Whose Measure God Could Not Take - The Name is not The Point
Unlawful Games - d100+ Magic Swords
Sundered Shillings - God's Expected Mercy: Blades
Everything's - Perchance Generator
Technical Grimoire - Tempered Legacy
Cyber Jazz Fusion - Swords of Fine Culture
Goblin Punch - Weird Swords and Not Swords
Mad Queen's Court - False Witch