PDA

View Full Version : The Sword In The Stone



Nocturne
2007-11-28, 09:50 AM
I'm reading "Men at Arms" by Terry Pratchett at the moment. It's my first forway into Discworld and Pratchett's style in general, and I gotta say I'm impressed!

But I digress... At one point in the book, Pratchett has one of his characters say something along the lines of "What's no special about pulling a sword out of a stone? Anyone can do that. The hard work's already been done for you! If you ask me, you should be looking for the chap who put the sword in the stone in the first place!"

This quote made me chuckle, but also got me thinking. So, I ask you, fellow forumites: Who put the sword in the stone?

Is that lonely sword stuck in that massive boulder a grim reminder of an ancient battle? A memorial to some great long-dead soldier or hero? Something more sinister? Perhaps the sword is actually plugging a hole to some deep dark evil plane? Or maybe (shudder) the "stone" is actually the petrified form of the aforementioned once-great hero, who fell on the wrong side of some uber-powerful Wizard/Witch/Litch/Dragon/...?

Ask anyone in any pub or inn, and you'll hear a million different rumours. Some with some element of truth in them, and some so ludicrously far off base...

So I implore you, wise and bored forumites: Which rumours have you heard? Which do you consider just plain silly? Which do you actually believe hold some water?

Ideas, ideas ideas!! :)

Cheers
Nocturne

AKA_Bait
2007-11-28, 09:54 AM
This quote made me chuckle, but also got me thinking. So, I ask you, fellow forumites: Who put the sword in the stone?


Merlin.

Although I kind like the idea of some good wizard pinning an evil earth elemental to the ground for eternity with a magic sword... until someone removes it.

random11
2007-11-28, 09:59 AM
Reminds me of a quest I once did.

To allow a fighter an attempt to pull the sword out of the stone, he had to finish a quest, climb up a mountain and reach the stone, swear never to use another sword except that one if he manages to pull it.

And then, he discovered that it was not a sword in a stone, it was a sword's handle, places on a stone...

For some reason, he was unhappy :smallsmile:

hamlet
2007-11-28, 10:03 AM
Are you asking, according to actual Arthurian legend, why the sword is in the stone and why whomever pulls it forth is king?

Or are you asking for ideas on generic "sword in stone" myths?

Nocturne
2007-11-28, 10:04 AM
lol random11 that's awesome!

hamlet: no-one in my campaign world knows anything of this "Arthur" of which you speak. Someone found a Sword stuck in a stone in the middle of the wilderness/the bottom of a deep dark cavern-system/a city/whatever. What do you think it's doing there?

Hope I'm making myself clearer. :smallsmile:

Mr. Friendly
2007-11-28, 10:08 AM
Well, I cannot say with certainty who put the sword in the stone per historical references, though I choose to go with the version from the film Excalibur; it was placed in the stone by Uther Pendragon, Arthur's father, as a curse. Thus it was Arthur alone who could pull the sword, fulfilling his father's death curse.

Nocturne
2007-11-28, 10:15 AM
*sigh*

You guys are all missing the point.

Can't you roleplay and pretend that you're an adventurer who's just found (Or heard word of) a sword buried in a stone somewhere?
Or rather that you're not the adventurer, but rather a native of a particular village/town/city who grew up hearing of said mythical sword (Possibly having never seen it, or even know whether it's real), but each person has heard a different story of how and why it comes to exist, and what its significance is?

Jayabalard
2007-11-28, 10:29 AM
You guys are all missing the point.Be clearer from the beginning next time, and you won't have people answering the wrong question, or asking you to clarify what you want.

As far as I can tell, talking about existing fiction is a valid answer to your original question.

Eldmor
2007-11-28, 10:41 AM
I think a unique use for a sword-in-a-stone would be for a tribe of barbarians to use it as a mental test for warriors. Since they cannot pull the sword out of the stone, it is hopefully realized that brute force is not the answer to everything. Then again, I can imagine a good number of men spending days pulling at the thing learning nothing.
As for how it got there? It's not a sword-in-a-stone but merely part of the stone transmuted to look and feel like a sword. A shaman originally intended it as a joke but has seen i does teach a valuable lesson in tactics and diplomacy.

Telonius
2007-11-28, 10:54 AM
Unfortunately you have it backwards. The sword was there. The gods put the stone (and the earth attached to it) under the sword.

Manave_E_Sulanul
2007-11-28, 11:21 AM
' "Oh, you don't know the story, do you?" Isaiah chuckled, pulling the straps on his green vest, '"Well, I'll tell you..."

The merchant went on like this for awhile, but Razack, the Wizard, retold me the tale after with out all of the fat old man's embellishing details. The sword is the last of the three items we need to collect to defeat the demon at the dark island Herotha across the straight and make our pay. Of course, he also tells me that we need to get the other two items first. It seems the sword was left their by the dragon while he was still a mortal man with a curse upon it as the threw him out of the village. Razack is already getting to work on it...'

hamlet
2007-11-28, 11:23 AM
lol random11 that's awesome!

hamlet: no-one in my campaign world knows anything of this "Arthur" of which you speak. Someone found a Sword stuck in a stone in the middle of the wilderness/the bottom of a deep dark cavern-system/a city/whatever. What do you think it's doing there?

Hope I'm making myself clearer. :smallsmile:

You're perfectly clear. Just wanted to know exactly what you were looking for before I launched into some absurd spiel that satiated my ivory tower english teacher jonesing.

Ahem: The legends surrounding the sword are many, and the details are never the same. However, the basics are always familiar. A magnificent looking sword is thrust point first into an outcropping of bedrock that has broken the topsoil. The stone itself is unremarkable in any way, but the sword appears to be made of some unknown alloy as those skilled in the arcane or in mettallurgy are unable to remove the blade or take any sample from it for testing. No man has ever been able to pull the blade forth, not even those of divine strength.

All divinations cast over the blade and stone reveal exactly the same thing:
If you seek the key to bring me forth,
Seek ye the land of burning frost in uttermost North,
The shifting sands of scorching East,
And the West that men know least.
There shalt thou find, if you be pure of intent,
The runes of power from the ether rent,
That speak the secret of what is held here.
Assemble them and speak my name,
Pull the sword and claim your just reward.

Many quests have been launched in order to learn the secrets spoken of in the rhyme. Many second and third lord's sons have ventured forth in order to make a name for themselves. Few have ever returned, and those that do report only of hostile humanoid tribes in the East and a closed and dangerous mountain stronhold of dwarves in the North. One crazed and pathetic man who calls himself Yorgea claims knowledge of the King in the North and the terrible cruelty of his people. The man's skin is scarred with an unknown runic language that has puzzeled local sages for years.

The Truth: While it is true that there is, indeed, a key to remove the sword is needed and that the blade is a powerful artifact indeed, there are certain truths that are not known by any today and will be very difficult indeed to discover (i.e., no Knowledge DC 25 skill checks will get you anything productive).

1) The sword is, itself, a key, and the stone is a lock. Removing the sword will release the entity within. It is not at all happy and is, in fact, quite violent and murderous. The exact identity of the being within is entirely up to your imagination. Suggestion is to make it something big, bad, and really mean. It's also intelligent and not all together impotent in its current state and can affect the outside world somewhat.

2) The sword itself is cursed. Those who remove it from the stone are immediately geased (or whatever they call the spell nowadays) to do everything within their power to return the creature to its prison. Failure to comply will result in Bad Things Happening including an horrific wasting disease to strike any who come in contact with those who possess the weapon. Losing the weapon or giving it away will not release this curse.

3) This sword is only one of several similar prisons. The entity within has a goal of ensuring the release of its comrades.

Added Fun: The stone itself is surrounded by a carnivorous plant in no less than 10 feet in every direction, but that does not spread beyond this boundary. Upon removal of the sword, the deadly plant will be free to spread and evolve. It is something more than mere peasants can combat and is quite resistant to magic.

gaymer_seattle
2007-11-28, 11:32 AM
"a mortally wounded hero carrying the last bastion of light for his people drags himself into a cave. Desperate with fear that such a weapon might fall into the enemies of the dark lands, he prays to the gods to guard this sword until the day a warrior, pure of heart is able to take it up a continue his fight."


You know.. there just is no mechanic for a mortally wounded hero these days. Your alive and kicking, and then your in a coma bleeding out through your entrails

Roderick_BR
2007-11-28, 12:02 PM
Reminds me of a quest I once did.

To allow a fighter an attempt to pull the sword out of the stone, he had to finish a quest, climb up a mountain and reach the stone, swear never to use another sword except that one if he manages to pull it.

And then, he discovered that it was not a sword in a stone, it was a sword's handle, places on a stone...

For some reason, he was unhappy :smallsmile:
I heard stories of a guy that was unable to pick a sword off a rock, so he pulled it whole up, sword and rock, and used it to smack people around like a big stone club.

Prometheus
2007-11-28, 12:24 PM
1) The sword is, itself, a key, and the stone is a lock. Removing the sword will release the entity within. It is not at all happy and is, in fact, quite violent and murderous. The exact identity of the being within is entirely up to your imagination. Suggestion is to make it something big, bad, and really mean. It's also intelligent and not all together impotent in its current state and can affect the outside world somewhat.

That reminds me of something... (http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=976#comic)

Oh and to throw my ring into the hat, the ancient sword has been lost for such a time that the rock hardened around it (sedimentary? igneous? petrified wood?)

hamlet
2007-11-28, 12:40 PM
That reminds me of something... (http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=976#comic)

Oh and to throw my ring into the hat, the ancient sword has been lost for such a time that the rock hardened around it (sedimentary? igneous? petrified wood?)

Amusing.

But kind of a short campaign.

"Your village is built around a a great boulder with a mighty sword thrust into it. Nobody has been able to pull it free, until one day, you tried out of curiosity. You've pulled free the mighty Excaliber . . . releasing a deadly and incurable plague that wipes out all of civilization. Everybody dies. Roll up new characters."

mostlyharmful
2007-11-28, 12:48 PM
A wizard did it. It's always the damn wizards with their rock stabbing and their dribbly candles. I ask you, what did the poor rock do, just sat there perfectly innocent for a couple dozen millenia since that nice glacier took it to new surroundings and it's just getting commfy again and BAMM! Some idiot rams a pigsticker right up its *&$.:smallfrown:

Emperor Demonking
2007-11-28, 12:55 PM
A mighty hero defeated the demon but when it died it hardened over the sword.

Mewtarthio
2007-11-28, 01:32 PM
The Stone itself is sentient. It was once a powerful emperor-sorceror before being overthrown. Its enemies never wanted it to return, nor to have any chance of resurrection, so they transformed the ruler into stone, ground the stone into dust, and scattered the dust to the four winds. What they didn't count on, however, was the strength of willpower and force of personality of the emperor-sorceror. Through sheer, raw charisma, the same charisma that had carved out an empire and bent the universe at a whim, the leader gathered the dust from all over the world and, over millenia, solidified it into a single stone.

The Stone's influence is subtle, and only over generations could it be noticed, as the people seem strangely drawn to it, writing legends on its power. Bit by bit, over the eons, it is transforming itself into a more powerful object. It cannot change back into its normal form--it can only alter itself into a different mineral--so instead it is evolving into a mighty sword, one that any king would be proud to weild. The prophecy that the one who can remove the sword from the stone will become ruler means only that anyone who can accelerate the Stone's transformation will become the tool of a powerful, charismatic sorceror that wishes to reforge an empire.

Qwernt
2007-11-28, 02:27 PM
From a story on En-World (http://enworld.cyberstreet.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=25689): The sword turns blood/flesh to stone, pull the sword out and the "stone" turns back into what it was before...

As to what the locals thinks: Well, they are scared of it and don't want anyone to go near it.

Assasinater
2007-11-28, 02:49 PM
-It's actually a fuse. If you pull it, the world will detonate in 5 seconds.

-It was an epic Fighter trying to kill the world, but the Damage Reduction proved to be too high.

Sleet
2007-11-28, 02:52 PM
"Unnatural, yes 'tis. Agains' the will o' the gods, and I'll thank you for not talkin' about that sort of thing in my tavern. Don' make me tell you again."

Translation: I rolled a '1' on my Gather Info check.

Ossian
2007-11-28, 02:55 PM
The precious stone(s) in the hilt/guard of the sword, at a given time of the year (Zeus's birthday, the equinox, solstice, St. John's, at dawn or sunset of february the 29th) is hit by the beams of the sun/moon and casts a shadow or just another (colored) beam of light (or combination thereof) on a very precise spot, the burial place of hero/priest/demon XYZ, the hiding place of the lost Ark of Covenant/Holy Grail, the gate to the 9 hells or whatever floats your drakkar....

O.

Blanks
2007-11-28, 03:17 PM
You guys are all missing the point.
Don't be silly. I will not yield the promise that was made a millenium ago by my order, to safeguard the secret of the sword in the stone!

If i told you that the sword isn't a weapon but a key i would be breaking that vow so i will never do that. But even if i told you that you will never find the lock at the bottom of the ocean that is the true purpose of the sword/key.

And inside is...

*suddenly sobers up*
COOKIES! the elemental plane of cookies! yes thats it, cookies, haha who would believe such a tale. And if you did i would kill you...






oh and OOC:
Your intention was clear to me from the start :)

NecroRebel
2007-11-28, 03:21 PM
There actually isn't a sword in the stone; it's all just a cunning illusion put there by a local bard/wizard/other spellcaster as a joke. This is also the reason why no one can pull it out, since the illusion is, of course, static. People think they grab the hilt and yank, but they really don't. After all, there isn't a hilt to grab.

Or, the sword is really there, and it was really put there by some divine and/or otherwise very powerful being. It was put there so that one particular entity, spoken of in prophecy, would find it and pull it out and use it to perform some task or tasks that was in the original being's interests. However, the entity spoken of in the prophecy found a better weapon instead and never used the Sword in the Stone, so now the Sword is there forever since no one save a long-dead hero can remove it.

Or, it's a completely ordinary sword in a completely ordinary stone. The stone was already cracked and some kid stuck the sword in the crack while playing, and it got wedged in there. Any adult could probably remove it if they really wanted to, but the kid lied about where the sword got to; as such, none of the local villagers actually know where the blade is.

Or, the sword isn't actually important. It's the rock that people need to worry about; under the rock is a powerful Evil Artifact. The sword is enchanted so that any scrying or divination attempts to find the Evil Artifact are instead directed to the sword, which also detects as strongly Evil. Several dozen times in the past, various armageddon cults have researched the Evil Artifact, found its supposed hiding spot, went to recover it, found the sword, taken it away, and been promptly defeated by heroes since they were relying on a worthless blade to destroy their enemies. The sword then magically returned itself back to the stone, awaiting the next hapless villains to come and take it.

random11
2007-11-28, 03:49 PM
No, no, no, you got it all wrong! It's not the sword that is magical, it's the stone.
To be more precise, a small but extremely powerful magical gem that is located inside the stone.

about 300 years ago, a group of adventurers, pretty much like yourself, discovered the stone and tried to break it to take the gem that rests inside.
They tried everything, every magic and every tool they could think of, but nothing seemed to work.
After about a week of restless labor, they finally managed to crack the stone, just by a little. The fighter of the group decided to use his sword to expend the crack, but he only managed to get it stuck there.
The rumors say that that group staved to death after being too obsessed with the gem.

As for the sword? A wizard came up with a theory that the sword managed to touch the gem, absorb some of it's powers, and that's what made it stuck. But the theory cannot be confirmed (and I wouldn't trust a wizard after 3 bottles of wine anyway).
True or not, the real prize is still the gem and not the sword. So the real question is not how to pull the sword, but how to break the stone...

Chronos
2007-11-28, 04:51 PM
You know.. there just is no mechanic for a mortally wounded hero these days. Your alive and kicking, and then your in a coma bleeding out through your entrailsSure there is: The hero is at -9 HP, but luckily managed to roll to stabilize and regain consciousness. He's still got to roll again tomorrow or lose that last HP, though, and he probably won't make it.

Kami2awa
2007-11-28, 05:17 PM
The sword is all that remains of a battle between two warriors, a paladin and a blackguard. The paladin was victorious and knocked down the blackguard onto the stone, then ran him through with the sword, his strength and divine power driving it deep into the stone, where it stuck forever.

The blackguard's body and gear has long crumbled to dust, but the sword remains, along with the blackguard's soul. At the instant of his death, the blackguard cried out a blasphemy against the gods, and his soul was bound to the sword.

Now it lies within the blade, waiting for a new master. The pure of heart or the innocent cannot draw the blade from the rock; the evil sentient sword seeks a black-hearted villain to wield it, a worthy champion of evil. Around it the once bright forest has become twisted and riddled with evil creatures, drawn to the sword.

Rigon
2007-11-28, 06:46 PM
I tried to make it rhyme but i failed.
I guess this comes from an untrained perform check if you roll a 4.

Sword in the Stone

We might had no shiny crone,
But we had a piece of stone,
Its size at best was medium.
A color plain like iron-plum.
Lesser than mountains, higher than fields,
One rock of many which no one wields.
A god of war looked down on the hill,
Saying: "Give you a purpose, I will".
She took a stone, yes it was ours,
Made lights go dance vivid colors.
Our little stone was divided by two,
Half staying gray, half shining blue,
A piece fell down and stayed plain,
Another shaped a blade'o'fame,
This weapon, a piece of art,
Her - the god's - mighty dart.
"You gave Me your best of course,
So i give you a chance of choice.
Keep it for ages in place,
Or give it to mortal race,
Make it sleep in harmony,
or let war spread agony."
Lightning struck across the sky,
Stone and Sword released a cry.
Sword in Stone stuck by the nose,
Who shall pull it? Only god knows.

How is it?

TimeWizard
2007-11-28, 06:54 PM
It is said that long ago a great man walked the Earth, he was tough as the mountain, quick as the wind, deadly as the fire, silent as the forest. The great gods grew jealous of him and sent their champion to slay the Hero-man. For nineteen days and twenty nights the two battled before the man won a great victory over the champion, but he had grown fond of his foe, as one warrior to another. So saddend was he that he vowed never to fight again until Darkness, the end of days, threatend the mortal realm as was prophicized. The great gods, seeing their oppertunity to be rid of the hero-man, placed a large stone on top of a hill, where the hero thrust his sword. It is said that the hero will reincarnate when the Darkness comes, and his new body will at last take up his sword again.

Jayabalard
2007-11-28, 06:56 PM
That reminds me of another webcomic that tried to answer this very question:


http://www.smbc-comics.com/comics/20071026.gif (http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=976)

Sstoopidtallkid
2007-11-28, 07:02 PM
As to why it is so hard to remove...it was shrunken and placed in a small crack, then it expanded to fill that crack. When it is pulled out, it grows to gargantuan-sized.

Neon Knight
2007-11-28, 07:10 PM
The stone is actually a half stone golem rust monster frozen in time in the middle of a meal. Sediments have built up on it masking the creature beneath.

Collin152
2007-11-28, 07:27 PM
The short answer? it's all one really old Mimic. Touch it, it eats you.

The preferred answer?

Many years ago, there lived a beautiful woman, and her rugged, adventerous husband. One day, an old woman besought the pair that she might have a cup of water for her long walk home. The strong man would gladley help, but the woman would not, and dashed the cup to pieces before her, saying that only their servants would serve such a waste of breath. Revealing herself to be a horrible witch, the hag transformed the woman into a horrible beast, with hair as of snakes. With a glance, her husband was turned to stone. Horrified at this curse, the woman ran to the statue, and drew her husbands sword to slay herself. Catching her own eye in the blade, she slowly turned to stone herself, embracing her husband, sword held aloft.
The house in which they lived since has fallen apart, and the elements rendered the clear features... sketchy, to say the least. Furthermore, the only "witness" was a drunken old beggar who tells the story for bread crumbs, so it couldn't be reliable.

-Cor-
2007-11-28, 07:58 PM
The old ranger scoffs as he leans back in his chair. "The sword in the stone?!" He spits on the wooden floor of the tavern. "That's just a stupid old wives tale. One to make smallfolk dream of living in castles and beggar boys of being kings." He laughs as he folds his arms across his chest. "Oh sure, I've heard the rumors that one's been seen in the ruins of the old city... but who can trust old drunk men in taverns?"

The ranger takes another large swig of ale. "I'll tell you the real story. A tale which, once you hear it, you'll never forget." His features take on a more serious expression as he leans forward conspiratorially. "Tell me, have you ever heard of the Axe in the Stump...?"

Nocturne
2007-11-29, 12:40 AM
ROFL! Axe in the Stump... :smallbiggrin:

Slowly but surely, my characters will hear all of the various explanations presented here. Maybe I'll actually make one of them true. Maybe they'll never really find out.... :cool:

Grey Watcher
2007-11-29, 01:07 AM
There's an ancient riddle on the blade of the sword itself. It was sealed in stone to keep this maddening curse from afflicting any more noble adventurers.

On both sides of the blade is an inscription: How do you keep a Barbarian busy for hours on end? Turn the sword over to find out!