Monday, April 29, 2024

OSR Commentary - The Insidious Nature of The Blades Stormbringer & Mournblade In Original Dungeons & Dragons

 “Elric knew that everything that existed had its opposite. In danger he might find peace. And yet, of course, in peace there was danger. Being an imperfect creature in an imperfect world he would always know paradox. And that was why in paradox there was always a kind of truth. That was why philosophers and soothsayers flourished. In a perfect world there would be no place for them. In an imperfect world the mysteries were always without solution and that was why there was always a great choice of solutions.”

― Michael Moorcock, The Elric Saga Part I

When it comes to Stormbringer & Mournblade from Michael Moorcock's Elric saga no two enchanted blades have come close to matching the modern impact of these two blades on Sword & Sorcery. In Robert  Kuntz & James Ward's Gods, Demi-Gods, & Heroes Stormbringer appears and it's a beast; "Chaotic in nature, this sword has an intelligence of 12 and an ego of 12, is plus 5 when hitting, in the presence of Mournblade is as a Dancing Sword, and drains energy levels.On a roll of 11-20 it will drain all the energy levels from a being if it hits, with a roll of 7-10 allowing it to drain onehalf of the energy levels if it hits. The energy levels gained from the battle are transferred to Elric giving him an 18 strength, and a 100% on his exceptional strength. It also adds to his hit points by the method of rolling the proper die for the type of being hit. If a magic user is hit roll a 4 sided die and multiply the number gotten by the levels the magic user has. The same is done for all other classes and creatures. The sword becomes sated after draining off 300 energy levels, in which case after 10 melee turns Elric reverts back to his former strength and hit points. This sated state lasts for 50 full turns, at the end of which the sword will take another 300 levels." 
What makes the Black Swords so damn dangerous?! According to the Stormbringer fandom wiki entry on Stormbringer's history; "Before the Melnibonéans' ancestors, the Mernii, arrived on Elric's World, the Nihrain were a prosperous society who served the Cosmic Balance. To combat the Dead Gods and other powers of Law and Chaos that threatened to tip the scales of the Balance, the Nihrain forged the pieces of the Dragon Sword into the twin Black Swords, Stormbringer and Mournblade, and perhaps also forged their many brothers as well. Out of fear for the blades' power to slay them, the Dead Gods killed themselves (removed their physical forms and joined Eternity). But while both blades had the power to absorb vitality as did all Black Swords, Stormbringer was different from the others, because a mysterious power entered the blade at the time it was forged"  
And one of the most dangerous magical quality that both Stormbringer & Mournblade have is the fact that they can slay divinities & gods; "Godslaying- Stormbringer is fully capable of killing gods, even Chaos Lords and Lords of Law, and is greatly feared because of this. Though it is said that this does not truly destroy the Lords of the Higher Worlds, it just consumes their current manifestations in that world and ensures they cannot return there." 
This brings a whole other level of dangerous to both manifestations of the Black Blade or Sword; "Stormbringer is a manifestation of the Black Sword, a cosmic archetype that can exist in any world of the Multiverse. In some universes, it manifests in other ways. It has been seen as a black jewel, and even a large humanoid demon. It is even suggested that Stormbringer and perhaps any Black Sword's true form is that of the humanoid demon"
This maybe one of the most dangerous aspects of these blades because not even the gods themselves are safe from having thier divinity absorbed by the Black Swords. This means that the wielders of the Black Swords are the heralds for the 'End Times.' 

The second that the two swords are snatched from thier place in the Pulsing Cavern the world of the Young Kingdoms is doomed. Way back in the early Eighties we had a chance to run across Elric's cousin  Yyrkoon. And our PC's were adventuring in the Young Kingdom during one of my uncle's games. We were too get several sorcerous herbs & spell components for our employer. Ultimately, we got the items and completed the task. We figured out what he was going to do which was open the dimensional door into the Pulsing Cavern. Our party left the world of the Young Kingdoms for Greyhawk shortly there after withour us getting paid. Mournblade is the twin of Stormbringer and as such they are merely two parts of the same evil or malevolent entity. We wanted no truck with either of the demon swords and this policy continued into our years playing Stormbringer. 

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