L O T T E R Y S W O R D S

From: c/o tsl@cs.mu.oz.au (tsl@cs.mu.oz.au))
Date: Tue 06 Aug 1991 - 09:56:33 EEST



(A shorter version of this article appeared in TALES OF THE REACHING MOON #5)

Author's Note: Lottery swords are *extremely* lethal. They should only be permitted in a campaign with GM discretion. I suggest that if a player-character enters a "lottery", it should be the type where the first contestant to make rune-lord wins the prize.

DESCRIPTION A very fancy, well-crafted sword. Although Lottery swords are usually broadswords, the most favoured weapon of the Esrolian Humakti, they could conceivably be any of the "cult weapons" of Humakt. Indeed, the famed blade of Anaxtheus (rune-drake of Quackford) is a bronze gladius.

CULTS ASSOCIATED: Humakt.

KNOWLEDGE Cult Secret; Famous (in Esrolia only); Few; Owners Only.

HISTORY Lottery swords are an innovation of the effete Humakti of Esrolia, and their manufacture is limited to this region.

PROCEDURE A lottery is formed when a group of candidates for initiation into Humakt get together, pool their resources and buy a fine sword. Sometimes this blade is fashioned from iron; usually it is bronze. Often the sword hilt is extremely ornamental, encrusted with as many jewels and precious stones as the partners can afford.

Any number of warriors might enter a lottery. The more who join, the greater the Lottery sword's power. Of course, this reduces the chance of each participant winning the prize, and so lotteries rarely have more than a dozen entrants. 6 to 8 Humakti is the norm.

Once initiated, Humakti are obligated to take a gift from their god. They must also assume the gift's corresponding geas (see Gods of Glorantha, p.42). There are four gifts which improve a Humakti's weapon. These are listed, along with their concomitant geases, below:

Gift						Geas
Increase the armour point of a specific		Never lie.
weapon by 50%.
Bless a specific weapon to do double		Accept no spirit magic
damage (once armour is penetrated)		Heal spells.
against a chosen foe species.
Bless a specific weapon to do double		Accept no magical healing
damage (once armour is penetrated).		at all.

Bless a specific weapon to do double 		Wear no armour over a
damage (once armour is penetrated)		specified hit location.
upon striking a specified hit
location.         

Instead of blessing their own weapon, each of the participants in the lottery place their blessing on the Lottery sword. In this way an extremely potent weapon is created. However, there is only one such blade, with up to a dozen
(or more) Humakti eager to possess and wield it.

There are several ways the members of a lottery might go about determining who takes which gift and geas, and who the eventual owner of the blade will be. One of the simplest ways would be to draw straws, but most Humakti prefer to trust their swordsmanship rather than their luck. So, a series of first blood Humakti duels are usually fought.

The warriors pair off, and fight. The loser of a duel must take the gift (and its attendant geas) the winner instructs him to, from the above list. It is considered honourable for the winners of the first round to let those they defeated pick which gift and geas they want, but this is not obligatory.

Note that the gift "bless a specific weapon to do double damage" may only be taken by one participant. Custom has it that the last person to be defeated takes this blessing.

The gift "bless a specific weapon to do double damage upon striking a specified hit location" may be taken by as many participants as there are hit locations
(7 for humanoid creatures). The other gifts may be taken any number of times.

The winners of the first round then pair off and fight. Again, the winners of the second round decide what gifts and geas those they vanquished must take. The winners keep pairing off, fighting and allocating gifts/geases until there is one swordsman left. He takes the Lottery sword as prize. Furthermore, he need not take a gift which affects the Lottery sword, although the others would be consider it honourable if he did so.

Another variation uses the same method to determine who takes which gift/geas, but the last person left doesn't win the sword (he still gets to choose whatever gift he wants though). Instead, the weapon is put into the temple treasury, to be claimed by the first participant to achieve rune lord status in the Humakt cult. Lottery swords made for this method are usually iron.

The ritual culminates in a ritual where the blessings are bestowed on the sword and the initiates all assume their geases. Finally, the winner joins the others in an *Oath* spell (for which he must provide the POW), in which all swear to abide by the outcome of the contest. Although the winner usually puts the sum total of his Magic Points into the oath, the others are only obligated to place one MP each. This is significant, because if one of the participants breaks his geas, he is also deemed to have forsworn the oath. If a Humakti leaves the cult, yet continues to abide by his geas, the Oath will not take effect (although the blessing he conferred on the lottery sword will be withdrawn).         

POWERS While each of the participants remain faithful to Humakt and doesn't break his geas, the powers of the Lottery sword remain intact. If one of them dies, becomes an apostate or breaks his geas, the particular blessing he bestowed on the blade is revoked. Thus, as time progresses, the powers of a Lottery sword diminish.

An example of a Lottery sword and its powers is given below.

VALUE Aside from their material value, Lottery swords are only valuable to the original participants in the lottery. Because each of the participants are bound by their geases, all would like to possess and wield the sword.

The only honourable way a Lottery sword can change hands is by a duel. Any participant in the lottery may challenge the current owner of the sword at any time. Often these challenges are made as first-blood duels, but the wielder has the right to refuse with honour. Only a challenge to the death cannot be refused. Whoever wins gets the sword. Of course, the very deadliness of the Lottery sword gives the present wielder an incredible advantage over a challenger. But, because the properties imbued in the weapon are progressively removed as each competitor dies, each participant will want to get his hands on the sword as soon as possible.

Fighting to the death over a lottery sword is expressly forbidden by almost all Humakt temples outside the Holy Country.

It is perhaps deplorable but nevertheless common for the owners of Lottery swords to move away, hide or otherwise evade their fellow contestants, in order to avoid continuous challenges.

Discipline, truth and honour are vital for a Humakt temple to function and prosper. A deadly squabble over a lottery sword can ruin that completely, sowing deceit, greed and death amongst swordbrothers - comrades who have to trust each other totally in the heat of battle. For this reason, almost all Humakt temples outside the Holy Country have banned sword lotteries as divisive. Only the jaded Humakti fops of Esrolia continue the practise, much to the disdain of their fellow sword-brothers abroad.

THE FAMED BLADE OF ANAXTHEUS This famous blade is a bronze Gladius, with duck's head pommel. A fine but strong silver chain runs from the hilt to a wrist clasp.

Twelve Humakti (all but one ducks!) participated in the lottery, of which eleven are still survive. Of the eleven, ten still remain faithful.

The original winner of the sword, Master Glass (a superior trollkin, the only non-duck to participate in this lottery) was defeated in a death duel by Anaxtheus Ironbill who, until he won the sword, was a Humakti rune-drake of Quackford. His present whereabouts are unknown. Another of the original participants, now known as Piers Waxmoon, has since become apostate and his blessing has been revoked.

Special Properties: *POW 22 Sever Spirit strikes any participant who forswears the *Oath* taken at the outset of the lottery (Piers Waxmoon was one very lucky drake!).

*34 armour points.

*The sword does double damage, after armour is accounted for.

*The sword does quadruple damage (after armour) to head, chest, right arm and left leg hit locations (wow!).

*The sword does 8-times normal damage (double double double damage!) after armour, when hitting humans and trolls in the hit locations specified above
(like, wow!).



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