(I’ve been slowly running out of steam on spell ideas for a while now… which is fine, all things considered. At some point it’ll be necessary to stop simply adding new things, especially when they start becoming variations on a theme, and start refining what already exists and integrating it into a larger whole. It’s probably time for “Magic Monday” to start opening up, and maybe even lead back into the game-system project it sprang from in the first place. For now, here’s an idea for a unique magic item – a sword – to inhabit a fantasy world and perhaps mess with the characters who live there a bit.)
The Sword of Life
A blade always slightly warmer than the ambient. Using it to strike a blow against a living thing gives the wielder a pleasurable tingle, and using it to kill a living thing (that has blood) gives a bit of a rush, although these feelings are often lost in the general adrenaline of combat.
The Sword of Life can be called upon to slay any living being it strikes, even from the merest scratch… but at the cost of permanently stealing the same amount of life from the wielder. Wielders slain in this manner are caught between life and death. Only the power of the sword prevents them from descending into putrefaction and a brief horrible stint as a zombie. This power is maintained by slaying a living being each day with the sword. (The living being must have the same style of blood as the wielder, so insects or plants won’t be sufficient if you’re a mammal!) Wielders are made aware of the danger by the onset of a terrible hunger – they intuitively know what must be done to preserve themselves, and their bodies urge them to take the necessary steps.
As long as this stream of sacrifices is maintained, the wielder remains eternally youthful, healthy, and their flesh feels oddly warm to the touch. This is the origin of the blade’s name. The blade’s history is filled with tales of horrible curses, vampirism, and tragic heroes.
(I gave this to a PC once while DMing a Pathfinder game; in that system, the cost of the blade’s power was one point of Constitution per hit die of the creature auto-slain. The player somehow managed to avoid discovering the cost until an epic battle against a high-level crazed evil wizard. They heroically beheaded him and immediately became an undead sword-wight. Fortunately the player was a good sport and rolled with the news. We spent the rest of the campaign dealing with the consequences, including a particularly tense day in which the party managed to trap themselves underground without anything to kill. Good times!)