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In Baldur's Gate: Descent Into Avernus, on pages 226-227, the

Sword of Zariel

is described. The weapon is listed as a

Weapon (longsword), artifact (requires attunement by a creature the sword deems worthy)

and has the following property (given a bold italics header):

Attunement. The sword allows you to attune to it immediately, without having to take a short rest. The first time you attune to the sword, you are transformed into a heavenly, idealized version of yourself, blessed with otherworldly beauty and a touch of heaven in your heart. Neither magic nor divine intervention can reverse this transformation. Your alignment becomes lawful good, and you gain the following traits:

Briefly, these traits include (give bold headers):

Angelic Language (you can speak Celestial), Celestial Resistance (you have resistance to necrotic and radiant damage), Divine Presence (your Charisma score becomes 20), Feathered Wings (gives you flying speed of 90 feet), Truesight (for 60 feet) and a New Personality (you pick new traits from tables included in the book).

The next header is written in bold italics, so I believe this is a new property that is unrelated to the Attunement property.


My question is about the part that says:

The first time you attune to the sword, you are transformed into a heavenly, idealized version of yourself [...] Neither magic nor divine intervention can reverse this transformation.

As I understand it, this means that you are permanently given all of the various traits, regardless of whether you remain attuned to the weapon or not, or whether or not

Zariel gets the weapon back and keeps it (after being redeemed, pp. 146-148) or even destroys the weapon (p. 152).

Is this interpretation correct? Does that even mean that an entire party could pass the weapon around (assuming that

the weapon "deems them all worthy")

and all gain these traits forever afterwards, even if

Zariel destroys the sword (then presumably having to deal with a party of flying super-charismatic semi-angelic PCs)?

In short, this seems really overpowered (in that you can be permanently changed and you don't even need to keep the weapon afterwards); am I reading this right?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Anyone who would even CONSIDER passing the sword around (either giving or receiving) as a gimmick isn't worthy to have it in the first place. \$\endgroup\$ – Foo Bar Dec 10 '19 at 0:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ How does this work in Adventurer's League play? \$\endgroup\$ – nick012000 Dec 10 '19 at 3:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @FooBar Oh, I agree, as DM I certainly wouldn't allow that. See my comment under Darth's answer. My example of players doing this in the question was more me trying to understand why this was possible, but this question was asked somewhat out of context (I haven't properly read through all of the adventure yet), context which Carcer's answer provides. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Dec 10 '19 at 8:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nick012000 The DDAL Content Catalog covers that quite clearly. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Dec 10 '19 at 15:40
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The changes are permanent, but have a personal cost

As you note, the item's description states that the first time one attunes to the sword, they are transformed and no magic can reverse it, not even divine intervention. The attuning character also gains an entirely new personality.

This is entirely intended and is meant to be a sacrifice on the part of the character who takes the sword. From the descriptive text in "Claiming the Sword" section of Chapter 4, Sword of Zariel (BG:DIA pg. 145):

Yael's ghost says, "You have faced many trials to claim the Sword of Zariel. I'm sorry to say, you face one more. As the inscription on the dais says, 'The hero who becomes one with this blade exists no longer.' Which of you is brave enough to draw the blade and be gone forever?"

And, clarified in the DM's guidance:

Once the sword is removed from its stone, a character can attune to it immediately if the sword deems that character worthy, and attuning to the sword changes the character irrevocably (see the item's description on page 226).

... which altogether makes it pretty clear that the transformation caused by the sword is permanent and irrevocable, with the downside being that whoever the character was before is meant to be gone. They're now a lawful-good semi-angelic being with a new personality as randomly determined by the sword. If your party doesn't mind surrendering their old selves to oblivion in order that a bunch of super-badass angelic beings can be running around doing presumably heroic stuff, then as written the Sword of Zariel makes that possible by having them just pass the sword around.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Ah, that spoilered quote puts the whole thing into context, that's the context I think I was missing. This does make it seem much more like a sacrifice, certainly for anyone who gets into the narrative of their character rather than just seeing their character as a bag of stats that they use to "win the game" (in which case, the DM could just claim they're "not worthy", as per Darth Pseudonym's answer). \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Dec 9 '19 at 14:57
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The text seems pretty clear. Attuning to the weapon makes a permanent and nigh-irreversible change to your character, which includes all those traits you mentioned.

Yes, in theory you could pass the sword around, but that would depend on the weapon deeming everyone 'worthy', which seems unlikely -- but it's up to the DM to make that call. (To me, having a second character in the party take up the sword would be a bit like that scene in Endgame where

Captain America picks up Mjolnir.

It isn't done casually; it's basically the beginning of the climax of the story.)

Ultimately what you're asking is "could the DM turn the entire party into angelic creatures if they want to" and like... yeah, of course they can. The DM can do whatever they want to... at least in theory.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I see what you're saying; in my question, I kinda glossed over the significance of the sword "finding the PCs worthy", but actually, this is a method by which the DM can gate this particular boon, and potentially to very cautiously hand it out as and when they wanted to. If the DM wanted an entire party of angels, sure, why not? If a DM wanted no-one to have that buff, then presumably the sword would only find Zariel herself worthy, so none of the PCs can have this boon. Or, the DM could pick one, maybe two characters, if they really deserve it and it would be narratively interesting... \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Dec 9 '19 at 14:53

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