A keen-bladed orc foe
Our third instalment introduces Greywand, a sword forged against the power of humanoids in general and orcs in particular.
Six centuries ago, the now-sundered kingdom of Leodwored stood as the most influential nation of mannish peoples united under one banner. Along the kingdom’s northern border, the Duchy of Esobran was home to The Esteemed Order of the Protectors of the Northern Havens. This knightly brotherhood was charged, as it is today, with protecting the kingdom from humanoid raiding by the orc tribes beyond Leodwored’s northern frontier.
After ten years of successful defensive campaigns against the orcs, the Order’s Champion and First Sword, Marhared, struck north into orcish territory. Chroniclers of the invasion noted that Marhared bore an enchanted sword named Greywand and the shield Quiverbane as proof against any orcish arrow. Sadly, Marhared was to lead his 100-strong cadre of elite knights to its doom. When Marhared’s dismembered body was found, no trace remained of his magicked arms.As is common amongst mortals, rampant speculation exists as to their whereabouts. That Quiverbane was taken by the orcs has been divined through spell-craft. The fate of Greywand, however, has escaped revelation, prompting much research into Leodwored’s forgotten lore for clues as its location. The knowledge found has been a cause for celebration, inspired fervour, non-secular debate, secular devotion, and arduous questing.
The first allusion to Greywand appears in the Leodwor Book, a collection of historical writings that predates the kingdom itself by some 250 years. In this tome, the blade is referred to as “Ormdall’s Lancet,” described as “a divine-wrought anelace of retribution against Blackspawn [orcs], fashioned in the Law-Forge of Jorg.”1 Other sources assert that while Greywand was a gift from the Immortal Ormdall, it was periodically lost to the keeping of Men. Indeed, there are long chronologies of Leodwored’s frequent orc wars wherein no mention of the weapon’s use is made. Whether “lost” means physically misplaced or recalled by its divine master is not clear. Thus, the common belief is that Greywand was reclaimed by Ormdall, supposedly to be returned when again it was needed. Though this theory accounts for the blade’s absence, it does not explain its non-appearance during the violent orc wars of Esobran’s immediately subsequent history. Few challenge this belief, however, believing that such is the will of the Immortals.
1. In the Nord pantheon, Ormdall the Warrior is the Lawful champion of men against orcs; Jorg, the Greysmith, is the Armourer of the Gods. The Esteemed Order of the Protectors, formed into numerous chapters, is the fighting order of Ormdall, based throughout the Leodwored territories.
Appearance and Powers
Greywand is a normal sword +0, +2 vs. orcs fashioned from a dull steel alloy. The weapon’s double blade keeps its edge magically, while the hilt, wrapped in cloth of deep azure, moulds itself to the hand of the wielder (Greywand cannot be fumbled). The silvered pommel is capped with a sapphire inside of which the tiny figure of a hawk-the animal companion of Ormdall-may be seen. To any Lawful bearer, the Keen-Blade grants Alertness (as the General Skill; RC/82; if General Skills are not used, allow a +1 to any Surprise roll (RC/92) vs. humanoids). Greywand is also capable of loosing a non-rebounding, two-dice (2d6) Lightning Bolt (RC/49) to orcish combatants, up to thrice per day.If the bearer is an adherent of Ormdall, the effectiveness of the Lightning Bolt is increased to four dice (4d6). Further, the wielder may summon and control a normal hawk (CC (1986)/16; CC (1993)/52) which can communicate with the bearer empathically. This hunting bird remains for one turn per level of the wielder and may be summoned once per day. If slain, the hawk disappears and regenerates inside the blade’s sapphire pommel within one week’s time.
Greywand, the Keen-Blade, may spawn any of the following adventures:
- The various chapters of The Esteemed Order of Protectors, found throughout the independent kingdoms that represent the vestiges of fallen Leodwored, do not despair of reclaiming the divine blade. Each year, on the anniversary of Marhared’s invasion into orcish territory, the Order sponsors The Blade Seek, a quest launched to recover the Greywand. Initially, the quest’s participants were limited to knights of the Order. However, within the last century, anyone with allegiance to the Nord Pantheon may join the hunt. Thus, in addition to knights of the Order, the quest is engaged by nobles, adventuring parties, secular and non-secular elements of Ormdall’s following, glory-seekers, and mercenary bands. Within any kingdom that was once part of Leodwored, the PCs surely hear of The Blade Seek and may opt to participate. If the DM wishes to incorporate The Blade Seek into his campaign, he must fabricate clues as to the blade’s possible whereabouts, what encounters occur during the quest, and possible outcomes if the blade is found (if, indeed, it can be found).
- The Leodwor Book’s account of Greywand is, in reality, a cock-and-bull story, either written by zealous clerics of Ormdall or contrived to bolster worship of the Nord Warrior. In truth, the northern orc tribes ward the blade. In this respect, it may be secured simply as a spoil of war or as insurance against its further use by Men. Either way, the PCs, caught up in the pageantry of The Blade Seek or merely at the right place at the right time, discover Greywand nestled within the orc warrens of the north. The orc complex, its defenders, and the security surrounding the blade are up to the DM. Regardless, if the party returns to civilisation with Greywand, it will be heralded as heroes of a new age of conquest over the orc foe.
- One (or more) of the PCs is an adherent of Ormdall, visited by the Immortal in a dream that reveals the location of Greywand. If the PC is a member of The Esteemed Order, assume that he has been hand-picked to recover the blade. Otherwise, it may be speculated that Ormdall has, for whatever reason, deemed the Order unworthy, instead selecting an unaffiliated worshipper to bear his divinely wrought sword. The DM must determine the blade’s location, the encounters that present during its recovery, and the nature of the Keen-Blade’s keeping. When the party returns to civilisation, it is challenged by the envy of the Order, but nevertheless compelled to somehow lead a major campaign against the orcs.
- A series of orc raids have escalated into full-out war, and Greywand’s recovery is necessary to combat the humanoid host. The PCs may seek the blade either on earthly ground or amongst the planes of multiverse, where Ormdall has perhaps hidden Greywand against discovery by the unworthy. The DM can create an epic adventure across worlds, essentially providing an opportunity for the party to save civilisation from unstoppable orc marauders.
- The party, entirely ignorant of The Blade Seek, Leodwared, or Esobran, discovers Greywand in some treasure hoard. With the Keen-Blade in its possession, the party encounters participants of The Blade Seek, who either attempt to wrest possession of the blade from the party or compel the PCs to return to Esobran where the blade can be used against the orcs (who, naturally, are massing raiding bands along the kingdom’s northern border). Eventually, the party learns of Greywand’s history, and it may elect to journey to the defence of a kingdom it’s never heard of. Alternately, the party might continue on its way, equipped with the priceless blade (of course, Ormdall may have other plans for the PCs. . .).