The following artifact, called the 'Sword of Forgotten Heroes', is a powerful artifact loosely modeled after the Sword of Kas and the Wand of Orcus. It was created with a specific player in mind who plays a fighter (subclass Rune Knight) that has a couple of other homebrew abilities. (They have had no input in the artifact's creation or abilities.)
We have plans for our current campaign to go well beyond 20th level, and I want this sword to serve them well throughout the entire time. That being said, the current plan is to give it to them at their 14th level. I might be able to give it to them a little bit later, but 14th level would overall be the absolute best time to give it to them and cause me the least headaches.
However, I am worried that the item may be too powerful, even as far as artifacts go. My main concern is that it doesn't have a good drawback-to-ability ratio, but given how many abilities it has, I also see the possibility of its features being exploited too easily.
Without further ado:
The Sword of Forgotten Heroes
Weapon (any sword) Artifact (requires attunement)
(Long backstory here. Basically, it was created using the soul of a willing dragon. That is pretty much the only relevant part.)
The Sword of Forgotten Heroes is a magical, sentient sword that grants a +3 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with it. This sword magically conforms to whatever type of sword its owner is proficient with, or switches at random times if they are proficient with none. The sword scores critical hits on a roll of 7 as well as rolls of 20(a), and deals 2d6 extra damage to constructs.
Any inherently magical creature (such as fey or unicorns) within 50 feet of the sword can sense its presence, making sneak attacks on them nearly impossible. They cannot pinpoint its exact location, but the few creatures that know of the sword are absolutely certain it is in their presence.
Most dragons feel a sort of kinship towards the sword, often going out of their way to take steps to preserve it. As a result, this sword can commonly be found among the treasure in a dragon's horde, or in possession of those that raid them.
This item automatically has the 'Guardian' and 'Song Craft' minor property, along with the 'metamorphic' quirk. These properties are only present when this item is attuned to its True Owner.
Random Properties: The Sword of Forgotten Heroes has the following random properties:
- 2 minor beneficial properties
- 1 minor detrimental property
- 1 major detrimental property
True Owner:(b) This artifact has certain abilities that can only be used by the True Owner of the item. To become the True Owner, a creature that can wield the sword of Forgotten Heroes must land the killing blow on the previous True Owner, or the person who has it in their possession (they can be the same creature, but either way both must be killed.) If the True Owner of the sword is brought back to life afterwards, the sword of Forgotten Heroes disappears and reappears in the previous Owner's hands.
Spells: While attuned to the sword, its True Owner can use an action to cast one of the following spells from the tip of its blade:(c) Prismatic spray, Death Ward, Charm Person, Heal, and Shield. A casting of any of these spells causes a wild magic surge. Once you use this sword to cast a spell, you can't cast that spell again from it until the next dawn.
Magic grafting:(d) The Sword of Forgotten Heroes possesses a unique ability. If its True Owner has any other type of magic sword that is not legendary or an artifact, they may graft the sword's magic onto the sword of Forgotten Heroes by completing a 5-minute ritual. This ritual consumes the other sword, as well as its worth in gems, rare herbs, or other forms of material wealth (land and property excluded). Once this ritual has been performed, the magical powers of the previous sword are transferred into the Sword of Forgotten Heroes. For example, a vicious weapon in the form of a longsword that is grafted would grant the Sword of Forgotten Heroes the extra 7 damage on critical hits.
Only one weapon can be grafted onto the sword at once. Grafting another onto it destroys the previous sword's bonuses. Grafted weapons do not add their bonuses to attack and damage rolls, unless that is their only magical function.
Wish: The Sword of Forgotten Heroes has one final, powerful ability. Whenever it gains a new True Owner, it gains three charges. The True Owner can then expend 1 of these charges to cast the spell Wish from the sword. However, these charges tie the dragon's soul to the sword, and using them weakens the connection. For each use of wish, roll a d6. The sword then loses the ability to cast one of its spells, according to the following table:
1: Prismatic Spray
2: Death Ward
5: Charm Person
6: No spell is lost.
In addition, for each use of Wish, the following effect occurs:
On the first expended charge, the sword retreats into its scabbard and can't be used for 3d4 days or until a person succeeds a DC 26 strength (Athletics) check that can only be preformed once every long rest. Afterwards, the sword can be used normally again.
On the second expended charge, a great force of the sword's will is discharged and manifests itself in the sword's True Owner. The True Owner is then required to give up something immeasurably valuable to them, beyond the price of gold(e), as if required by a geas spell. This effect can manifest itself immediately, but more commonly it lies dormant until a good qualifying thing is found (the Sword of Forgotten Heroes cannot qualify.)
The third expended charge is both mighty and terrible. The ground shakes, magic wavers, and beasts scream when it is expended in their presence. When this charge is expended, the person attuned to this artifact gains the DM's choice of a minor or major detrimental effect. In addition, the Sword of Forgotten Heroes loses the grafting ability. Any abilities currently grafted onto the sword remain, but no new ones can be added, and performing the ritual does nothing.
The only way for charges to be restored is by the sword finding a new True Owner. When this happens, the dragon's soul is revitalized, and its connection to the sword is restored.
Sentience: The Sword of Forgotten Heroes is a sentient, chaotic good weapon with an Intelligence of 13, a Wisdom of 15, and a Charisma of 17. It has hearing and vision up to 60 feet.
This weapon can understand all spoken languages. It also can speak imprecisely in a strange dialect that can't be perfectly translated, yet still gets the sword's point across perfectly (even to those who don't understand it).
Personality:(f) The sword is endlessly loyal to its True Owner, but it does not believe them to be without fault. The Sword of Forgotten Heroes encourages righteousness in its owner, and sometimes will flatly refuse to do deeds that it sees as directly evil.
The sword's goal is to spread hope and song throughout the multiverse, often causing rebellion against corruption in its wake. In order to further this goal, the sword tries to constantly be on the move, and those that stay in the same place have to mentally fight the sword to keep it from slipping away from them.
Destroying the Sword: To destroy the sword, all of the charges of Wish must be expended. Then, the sword must be brought to the ethereal plane, where the soul of the dragon cannot go. In its weakened state, this will sever the connection between the soul and the Sword of Forgotten Heroes. The soul of the dragon must then be destroyed (having the same statistics and abilities of a Draconic Shard.), at which point the now-nonmagical sword can be destroyed by being blasted with a Hollow Dragon's breath weapon for 15 consecutive minutes.
If the Draconic Shard gets away, it can eventually perform a ritual to create a new sword to inhabit, which will then become the new Sword of Forgotten Heroes. If the physical sword is not destroyed, it will slowly draw the dragon's soul back, even from death. It becomes fully functional in 10d10 years, when the process is complete.
a. I'm trying to decide on whether the critical hit happens if they hit against the armor class, or whether it should happen regardless. I think the final interpretation should be determined based on how overpowered/underpowered the rest of the sword is.
b. This feature is mainly so that I, as DM, can have a measure of control over who gets the sword. The party has many selfish PCs, including one that happens to be an excellent thief, so I don't want any fights breaking out over who gets it.
c. The Sword of Kas says "While this sword is on your person", but I like the thought of setting remote-control traps for unsuspecting monsters. Will this wording have unintended consequences? Undoubtedly. However, it will certainly make something a little more interesting.
d. Of all the Sword of Forgotten Heroes' abilities, this is the one that I am least attached to, and also the most likely to be unbalanced in my inexperienced opinion. However, it does make for a good threat for the third use of wish.
e. As much as my Rune Knight loves the idea of wish, they come into contact with things they consider more valuable than money almost biweekly (remember those homebrew abilities I talked about earlier?) I will be interested to see how much this little consequence limits them.
f. This personality type doesn't exactly conflict with the personality of the player, but at the same time, they are far from 'righteous'. I'll just have them consider it another downside of having an artifact.