Leiber Fritzsohn touched his forehead and breast quickly with his right hand. He wasn’t a devout worshiper of Eos, but making a sign of reverence to him seemed like a good idea. Laying around him in a grisly circle were the remains of a small group of travelers. They dressed in the garb of the rural folk of Falmead, woolen tunics, dyed blue, and gray cloaks to keep out the cold. The clothes of good quality, were now soiled and ripped to shreds.
Bandits would do no such thing. They might kill those they robbed, but with a slashed throat or heavy blow. The scene before Leiber made the bile rise in his throat. Grimly he gripped his axe tighter as he heard the scream. It sounded like the chorus of the damned. No human or animal would ever make that sound. The dawn was breaking and the cry seemed to echo across the forested hills.
Stepping around the campsite, Leiber strode with purpose. Although he did not know the fallen, they were still his kinsmen, and he was charged with collecting a blood debt. Whether beast or demon mattered not to him. If it could be killed, he would do it. The confidence the northman had in his abilities was the product of generations of warriors. As a boy, he had sat near many a hearth fire in the winter nights listening to tales of his people. He was of Falmead, his people pushed back against the gnoll hordes during the Ravening. They pushed back HARD, cutting the gnolls like sheaves of wheat. The legends of giant blood grew as tales of the tall warriors of Falmead became known.
Leiber didn’t know if giant blood ran through his veins, but his blood was growing hot. Legends did nothing to defeat your enemy. A warrior needed a strong axe with a stout oaken handle and the room to wield it. Nothing more.
He hefted the heavy blade. Its hardwood handle polished by calloused hands and stained dark by the blood of his enemies. This was his father’s axe, and his father before him. Not enchanted by any sorceror, but nevertheless imbued with power. This was no ordinary weapon. This was Wulfgang. The warrior knew that when he grew too old to wield it, he would give it to his son. Whether old age or an early death, Leiber would pass the axe down to his heir.
An early morning mist snaked around the hills as he tracked his foe. The leaves rustled in his wake as he approached the creature. Leiber heard the crone before seeing her. She lay against a dead tree, lethargic from her deadly feast. No longer an old woman, but more a broken and misshapen mockery of humanity. She was a changeling, a bloodthirsty witch from some fey bog.
The creature stopped its mewling and tilted upwards, sniffing the air. She cocked her head and closed one eye at the sight of Leiber striding down the hills. Pushing herself up from the tree, the changeling tottered, heavy and bloated on two spindly legs. She moved slowly at first, picking up speed as she charged towards the warrior.
The axe handle felt good in Leiber’s grip. He thought of his father and grandfather. The screams of the changeling had little affect on him, nor did her hideous visage give him pause. Leiber could not predict the future. He charged forward knowing that his axe would not fail. He may live or die, but Wulfgang would not fail.
The witch-turned-changeling stumbled onward, dirty talons grasping for soft flesh. Even after gorging on her recent victims, she quivered with anticipation of another warm meal. With practiced grace the warrior shifted sideways as the foul creature rushed to him, her claws raking his tunic, ripping jagged rents in the cloth.
Wulfgang rose and fell, propelled by the sinewy arms of the warrior. The axe bit deep into the witch and was immediately yanked free. In desperation the changeling clawed for the handle, but it did little good. Wulfgang bit once more, and once again. The shriek of the creature cut short by the last blow.
Wiping the blade clean on the witch’s garments, Leiber turned to walk back to the campsite. The one remaining thing he could do for his kinsmen was to give them a proper burial.
Notes on heirloom weapons
This idea came from one of my players in our Pits & Perils campaign. Thanks, Paul
Heirloom weapons have an important family history to them. They are not magical, but if wielded by someone with a family ties to the weapon’s owner, special powers may manifest.
The most basic benefit would be granting the wielder one Luck point per level while using the heirloom weapon. This Luck point could be spent to alter any single die by one point. So, if Leiber had rolled a total of 11 (with all his bonuses), he could use the Luck point to get an outstanding success (adding one point to make the roll equal 12). This may seem minor, but as the PC gains levels, the Luck bonus increases. The weapon would have two Luck points at 2nd level and so on. The Luck point on the weapon would be kept separate from other Luck points for the PC, and only usable while attacking with the heirloom weapon.
Other special benefits may occur as the GM sees fit. One possible idea is to allow the wielder to simulate the effects of one of the combat maneuvers or something else, such as sundering the opponents weapon. This could be limited to a number of uses per day, perhaps once per day for every three levels. (1x at 1st level, 2x at 3rd level, etc.)
To simulate the confidence a warrior gains using the heirloom weapon, the GM could allow any Luck points bestowed by the weapon to be applied to any saving throws verses magical fear or morale affecting spells.
The possibilities are only limited by our imagination.
One thing I would require is that the player with an heirloom weapon must write a backstory about it and play their character in a manner that reflects the importance of the weapon.
This way the weapon may outlive the characters and become legendary in its own right.