by Timothy Toner
Note: Part 2 of Patrick's Guide to Swords. This one took a while to write. I was going to write highlights from the book mentioned below, but got halfway through, and got real tired of it. I cut it out, realizing it was steadily becoming fluff. Anyone wanting to read what I have can ask me. I'll gladly send it. Yet another thing to torment your players with. Comments, Critiques, Complaints always welcome.
It is with no small amount of embarassment that I apologize for presenting the exact location of a Ghulblade in this forum. Suffice it to say, when rumors of this nature surface, I first look to my responsibility to disseminate information as quickly as possible amongst my faithful readers. Unfortunately, this means an occasional toe gets stepped on, as is the case here. I was unaware the structure housing the Ghulblade was under Elysium, and will be more careful to research my finidings before releasing them. Perhaps now whoever called the three Assamites on me will kindly accept the apology, and revoke the hit.
I was going to spend this column discussing a rumor I unearthed concerning weapons attuned to specific clans, when a package was delivered unto me. Inside was a deluge of clippings, mimeographs, and ripped out pages. They all seemed to speak of a weapon, a tool of Goodness and Life, designed to specifically destroy our kind. Such weapons are common enough in folkloric traditions, most providing nothing to worry about. But this one truly distressed me, for contained in the copious notes is a bit of scientific musings by one Lazlo Christians, wherein he expounds that the weapon, once a misbegotten legend, can be accurately recreated at present technological levels. I referred this to an old associate of mine, who assured me the calculations were quite sound. I fear for what the future holds, then, if this rumor comes to pass.
Oddly, the best accounting of the legend of the SolCryst, comes from the pulp talents of one David Francis, a writer of shoddy "sword and sorcery" pieces in the 1930's. From whence he garnered such accurate information baffles me. After reading through this Howard Carter "wannabe," I present to you a brief synopsis, to give you an idea of the history of this weapon.
The main characters are a boy by the name of Karl, and a Kindred by the name of Ferdinand. The tale takes place just south of the Carpathians, in an area conquered by the Turks 100 years later.
Karl returns home from an pilgrimage alone, despairing that all in the group perished, including his father. He alone escaped, being clever enough to hide when the Saracens descended upon them. When he enters his home village, he discovers the place has been ransacked, and that his people have been driven west in a great mass. He sets out to discover their fate.
While en route, he runs into Ferdinand, a "creature too horrid to behold. Hairless and almost noseless, its pointed ears provided the only decoration to the bulbous head. Its pale skin expressed too well the patchwork of veins that crossed its flesh." To those who do not immediately read Nosferatu into this, ought to take a drink from the clue vein.
Ferdinand tells him that his people were captured by a horrible vampire lord and his minions, to work as slaves, until such a time as they become food for their monstrous appetite. Karl is determined to do something, but Ferdinand warns against it, saying the creatures are far too dangerous to attempt to take out alone.
After much boring "bonding," wherein the two, first hateful of one another, eventually become good friends, (trust me...utter tripe), Ferdinand agrees to take Karl to a magus he knows. It seems this magus has a vendetta against the same vampire lord (ooo, what a _coincidence_). He's willing to fashion a weapon of great power, to drive back the monster.
Now, two important things can be derived from this section. First, we have the recipe for creating such a weapon handed to us, and avaliable to any kine silly enough to pay the $.50 as I did. The magus had a sizeable hunk of a strnage kind of vis, (a form of concentrated magical energy) reputedly one of the spokes from Apollo's Chariot, left when Phaeton crashed it into the errth. His Spring Covenant came upon a wheel consisting of powerful emanations of Aurum Vis and Ignem Vis, comingled in such a way, that they did not consume one another. Each took a spoke, and this was his part.
Over the course of a month, he fashioned the spoke, which seemed to be made of a crystalline substance, into a sword. The magus clained that it held within it the "heart of the sun."
The second interesting part of this chapter is the interplay between Ferdinand and the magus. The magus demanded Ferdinand's blood as payment for services. From the nature of the dialogue, it seems the unnamed magus was greatly interested in using the blood to either control vapires, or even perhaps to become one, possessing the best of all the disciplines. One must read the part themselves, but I am certain any sane fellow will see that this is Tremere, the Magus himself. His final words to Ferdiand are especially chilling, "If you won't, then perhaps the fool Salubri might."
Going back to the story, Karl and Ferdinand drive back the monsters easily with the magicked blade. As is the case, everyone lives happily ever after. Yay.
From what I am able to determine from the book, the powers of the blade are:
The ability to do _horrendous_ amounts of damage to Kindred, because of its ability to store solar power.
The abilty to fire off bursts of energy, which do horrendous amounts of damage.*
The ability to create the effect of a noonday sun, in a large area.*
The ability to heal the wielder with the natural energies of the sun.*
The ability to resist the effects of the mind disciplines when wielding the sword. (Obfuscate, Dominate, Presence)*
Now one might imagine me a bit Chicken-Little-ish, running about, proclaiming the sky is falling. It's but one sword, correct? Wrong.
From the research my mysterious benefactor has garnered me, the secret of the SolCryst is far from lost. Versions of it have been popping up all over history, the most famous being in the hands of Louis XIV, who used the sword to drive back the Kindred who tried to influence/assassinate him, and calling himself the "Sun King," because of it. Some of the tales about his rule now do make sense, to a degree. In a society so dominated by Kindred, how was he able to retain his free will? I believe I have found one possible answer.
Along with the other tidbits my "partner" provided me with, one is most frightning indeed. In a minor journal dedicated to making our world a purer place through proper applications of solar energy, there is a new breakthrough in the field. By growing certain quartz crystals according to exacting standards, it is possible to bestow upon them certain piezothermic qualities. To wit, the swords can absorb solar energy, and retranslate it as thernal energy. They are but a full month away from allowing the crystals to release the energy as sunlight.
Imagine. Imagine weapons lined with these horrid items, delivering the dreadful kiss of the sun with but a stroke. My heart catches in my throat at the thought.
To convince you I am not deluded Malkavian paranoid, I present to you two pieces of information. One is a contract to rerelease David Francis's book into the mass market, under the imprint of Gaia Press, as part of their "Driving back the Darkness," bookline. Other books in the series will be _Dracula,_ a few of August Dereleth's Cthulhu works, and some other choice pieces of kine triumphing against great evil. The second is a Record of Incorporation, linking Gaia Press, the Journal that the above article appeared in, and the laboratory doing the research, to the same corporation. It seems the Lupines are learning our games...
As far as I can tell, there exist six solcrysts in history. The two most potent, Karl's and Louis's, are, for now, lost to us. Recent diggings in the Carpathians may change that. I can but caution you, my faithful reader, to be on the lookout for such a weapon, and to destroy it as soon as it is discovered.
Your Humble Servant,
SolCryst, the original, is DAMN powerful. Unfortunately, it is unique. By being exposed to the sun during the day, it can build up a battery of solar energy, which can be defined in terms of Sol Points. SolCryst can only store 10 such points. Every hour of exposure gains it one Sol Point (SP). It must be laid out in plain sight, its blade exposed, to recharge. This makes it rather conspicuous, so Hunters need a good place to hide. A cloudy day will hinder regeneration to 1 SP / 2 hours.
It possesses the following abilities:
All damage is aggravated toward vampires and others that fear sunlight.
A Hunter can unleash the power of SP to increase their stats, as would a vampire using Blood Points. The resoning is that the sun is the source of our life's energy, and SolCryst can convert that into a useful burst of internal energy. Maximum is still 5, but effect lasts for one hour.
A Hunter can unleash the power of SP to heal damage, as Blood Points.
By spending 1 SP, a Hunter can make the sword glow for one hour, and vampires must resist Rotschrek, Difficulty 5, to remain in the same room. (This is useful for determining if Kindred are in a room.
By spending 5 SP, and raising the sword above her head, a Hunter can create the effects of a noonday sun for Five minutes (difficulty 10), in a 100' area. The hunter can move during this time, but must keep the sword raised for the effect to last. Unless the cainite is suicidal, he will probably flee.
By spending x amount of SP, the Hunter can fire off a bolt of pure solar energy, which strikes as per a crossbow, except that the damage is eqivalent to x, the amount of force the Hunter put into a bolt, and aggravated to boot.
To resist mental disciplines, a Hunter must have the sword drawn, and be grasping the hilt. Take the current SP total, divide by 2, and the hunter is _immune_ to that level of Dominate, Obfuscate, and Presence. The Hunter can merely see right through the pathetic attempt to fool her mind.
Also, by spending a SP, the wielder can, for 1 hour, become immune to the aggravated attacks of vampires. She will still take damage from fangs and claws, but it won't have the severity of being aggravated.
The final power is perhaps the most important. The wielder, by touching a Ghoul, can choose to negate the vampiric blood within the ghoul's body. This does no damage, and costs a SP for every BP transferred. Unless the ghoul gains a bloodpoint within the next week, he can nevermore become a ghoul, as per the Hunters Hunted.
Pretty impressive, huh? Not really. Those 10 points go by DAMN quick. And only the first 6 have the 10 point batteries. Tech based versions can only have a max of 5 SP, and are horrendously expensive. However, arrowheads made of the crystal are ideal, since they do aggravated damage, without making the arrows too unaerodynamic.
The garou are pioneering this research, since it is essentially "clean tech," and erodes at the power base of their arch rivals. Note that the aggravated damage resistance does not hold for them. They may be crazy, but they're not STUPID.
I have had ruminations of a cult of priests dedicated to the Unyielding Flame, who have batteries of 10 SP, and can do all the above. There wouldn't be many, but DAMN, they'd be potent.