View Full Version : Help me price this item: Soul Knife

2008-02-22, 08:37 AM
In my Campaign I need a sept of lethal assassins; the problem is that, with resurrection just a cleric away, death is neither as impressive with the PCs nor as effective in plots. This leads to the need of a way to prevent resurrection.

Weapon property
Soul-stealing: When a creature is killed with a weapon with this property the victim's soul is drained into the weapon itself. The soul remains imprisoned in the weapon and hence cannot be contacted by any means. Spells or other powers that bring back to life have no effect since the deceased soul cannot answer the spell's call.
What said above does not apply if the soul is contacted by someone who holds the weapon. If the weapon is destroyed or this magical property removed from it the trapped soul is free and all effects function as normal. If the holder of a soul-stealing weapon brings the trapped soul back to life the soul is no longer considered trapped.
A soul-stealing weapon that sunders another one which held any souls in it drains those souls in itself.

I am still not decided on this point
Option #A: Casters of communication/resurrection spells (or similar) know that the soul did not come because it's trapped
Option #B: Casters only know that the soul did not answer/return, but do not know why.
I'm currently leaning towards B.

On a more major point, I'm wondering if it would be better if
Option #1: The weapon can only keep trapped one soul at a time. If the weapon would trap a second soul in it nothing happens and the second soul is free.
Option #2: The weapon can keep any number of souls trapped within it.
Currently I lean more towards #1; it has the potential of the weapon less expensive (and then more assassins with it) and creates the need to carry and send the "used" weapons to a safe HQ. It also makes it more suitable to big organizations than for the PCs.

Thank you!

I'd like to hear any comments and seek suggestions on market value, CL and creation requirements.

Moral Wiz
2008-02-22, 09:04 AM
Hmm, when it comes to storage, if you're using option 2, it might be best to have either

A the soul might be transfered to a sort of "central prison"


B The soul is stored in one part of the weapon, which can be removed (EG gem)

Otherwise, the assassins would end up storing a load of weapons, when they just need the souls. And both of these are much beter from a thematic standpoint IMO

as for price, you've just described soul bind, a 9th lvl spell. Start with the item being able to do that at will (there's a table in the DMG that might help you here.)

2008-02-22, 09:28 AM
Look up the Thinaun special material in Complete Warrior. It does exactly what you're looking for, complete with an official price already. It doesn't say anything about options A and B, and uses a slightly modified option 1 - one soul at a time, but a new soul displaces and frees the previous one.

It also has the nifty property of reducing the amount of diamonds required to resurrect someone if you have the weapon holding that person's soul close at hand.

2008-02-22, 10:25 AM
Thank you! I was looking for Soul Bind since I recalled it, but I found Trap the Soul instead and then stopped looking :smallfrown:

The CW special material is great! I think I'll change what happens when a weapon is full but that will hardly change the balance. I actually like the idea of the Bad Guys having to send the weapons back; maybe I'll give them an immovable "Ghosts Container" at their base though.

2008-02-22, 02:26 PM
I'm not sure changing the behavior of a full weapon is the best idea. First, it makes each weapon single use only - EVER. Sure, you could resurrect the guy yourself to get him out of the weapon, but otherwise it seems the only way to reuse it would be to melt the weapon down for raw materials and reforge it. Sure, these are elite assassins and they will probably be storing each of these weapons in a hidden vault somewhere, but there will eventually come a time when nobody cares about trying to resurrect King John Doe, dead 100 years, and it would be nice to be able to save a little cash by reusing that dagger - this is not a cheap material. Heck, you could charge extra specifically for delaying the reuse of a weapon more than usual if reuse were possible. Plus, if you happen to kill an innocent bystander on the way with that weapon for whatever reason, you have no option but to go get another one before carrying through with the assassination.

Secondly, keeping it as written introduces a new factor or two to the pursuit. The assassin must keep a backup weapon for use during the escape and carefully avoid using the assassination weapon on anyone else lest he negate the whole point of having it. Also, it gives pursuers a motivation to put extra effort into capturing the assassin alive - if they kill him, the assassin's soul goes into the weapon, displacing the victim's soul. If they manage to take him alive, or at least separate him from the weapon before killing him, they get a major discount on resurrecting the victim. If not, the discount would be on resurrecting the assassin instead.

2008-02-22, 07:03 PM
You are right, but one use seems just right. After all we're talking of an effect equivalent to a 9th level spell which requires a very expensive material component.
The limitation with respect to the spell is that it has to be the weapon itself to deal the killing blow, so you need it to be an effective weapon, which usually means to enchant it in some way. I'd say that the non-reusability of the weapon makes the costy weapon a good surrogate of the expensive material component for the spell. Instead of needing a big enough gem now you need a good enough blade.

Now we have a one-use object whose price is probably on par with the material component of the spell but with one huge limitation on the way you can kill your target. This is probably worth a reduction in the material's cost. Maybe 5000 instead of the 10000 needed for a light weapon? Is there a point to keep the higher price for bigger weapons balance-wise?

An argument can be made for blades able to store more life forces as well. The prica may scale linearly: on one hand it is cheap because the "material component" is shared among them, on the other one it's risky because you have to put the weapon out into action again, which is bad.

I agree that there should eb a way to "empty" the blade without resurrecting the trapped victim. A good way to "let it go" wouldn't be bad and it might be as simple as wanting it. There had to be a reason you wanted to steal that person's soul in the first place, so giving it away should already be a price.
Maybe if any cleric attempted to resurrect the imprisoned soul he could get a "The customer you tried to call is now available" notice or even the sell could take effect if its requirements are still met. This would definitely count as a drawback of the freeing process.

2008-02-22, 11:21 PM
Reminds me of the morigante weapons from Dragerea (Vlad Taltos novels by Steven Brust). Spelling not withstanding.
Morganti and Dragaerea. I can neither spell, nor pronounce them.

Except that you only need to be scratched and that even with the dagger you can't rez someone (but you can't rez someone over 3 days dead anyway).

Morganti weapons were made by the Jenoine to make war so attrocious (as "everyone" reincarnated after walking the paths of the dead, which you couldn't do if your soul was devoured by a morganti weapon) that no one would ever fight again. Worked for the Jenoine, but the Dragaerans and the Easterners (read: humans) go to war all the time (sometimes with each other, sometimes with themselves...).