This series of posts has its genesis in selfishness, I must admit. I am approaching a major story point in my Lost Colonies campaign that has the potential of world-changing consequences. This story point, however, is not entirely my own — it is something that has emerged from play rather than something I had planned or even imagined. Therefore, I want to put down in writing my thoughts about it in order to help me hammer out some details and see whether or not I have something workable and comprehensible; however, I also think that it might be useful for others interested to see how (at least for me) small things that come up in play develop into story-lines that affect entire campaigns and campaign worlds.
As with many things that I do when I run a game, this whole thing started with a roll on a random table — specifically, the presence of a simple (boring) short sword +1. In order to give it more character, I told the party that it had the word "Hornet" engraved on the blade in Elvish (with Sting from The Hobbit strongly in mind).
Given that the goblins in The Hobbit did not much care for the Elvish blades used by the protagonists of Tolkien's tale, I figured they wouldn't much care for Hornet either. I reasoned that goblins were particularly hated by the sword itself, which would force its wielder to attack goblins within 30' or so unless a save vs. spells was made.
This came up a couple of times during play. When Ahkmed the Dwarf (the wielder of Hornet) tried to use any weapon but Hornet, I added another twist — the sword was getting jealous and would appear in Ahkmed's hand unless he made a save vs. spells.
Ahkmed's player was new to the world of RPGs, with mine being only his second ever campaign. The veteran players had a lot of fun at his expense, as this was his first experience with a "cursed" item. Interestingly, it was really only those veteran players who wanted to get rid of the sword — Ahkmed's player was having fun being Hornet's wielder.
This was all pretty much copacetic until, after "giving his will" to Hornet in order to find a goblin in hiding, Ahkmed killed a goblin the party had worked very hard to capture (and thus interrogate). At this point, the sword was seen as more of a hindrance than a help.
Given that the sword now had some kind of entity to which someone could give their will to (and given the history of special swords from older editions of the game), Hornet definitely would not want to be parted from Ahkmed. Therefore, I reasoned that she (because Hornet was now a she in my mind) would need to offer something to Ahkmed in order to keep her around.
What resulted was the idea of a female elf somehow bound to the sword had been awakened by Ahkmed when he gave his will to the sword. As a result, she was now able to offer him help by acting in and through him. Thus, Ahkmed could gain certain elf-like abilities as long as he remained tied to the sword. Ahkmed gleefully agreed and Hornet became a quiet NPC in the party.
At this point, however, I had no idea how or why there was an elfin maid bound to a magical sword or what that meant for other magical swords/weapons — something Ahkmed's player was definitely interested in finding out more about. In the meantime, he busied himself collecting as many elfin accouterments as possible.
6 hours ago