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7/09/2014 12:26 pm  #1


"There's nothing in the universe cold steel won't cut."

"There's nothing in the universe cold steel won't cut," answered Conan. "I threw my ax at the demon, and he took no hurt, but I might have missed in the dusk, or a branch deflected its flight. I'm not going out of my way looking for devils; but I wouldn't step out of my path to let one go by."

A nice line and essential to the Riddle of Steel. There is so much about the whole conceptual background of Howards stories in it, adressing the relationship between mortals and the supernatural, the meaning of courage, and the power of humans.

However, in the original D&D rules, it is not the case. There are plenty of beings which steel will not cut. Many supernatural creatures require at least silver or even magical weapons, which is carried over into AS&SH, and it takes a 4th level spell to temporarily charge a normal weapon with magic. There are plenty of situations, in which a common mortal, how strong and courageous he might be, is just completely unable to stand against a magical monster in any way.

I am a bit conflicted on how to deal with this in my campaign. In many ways it makes sense that a sword won't do anything against a wraith or a demon.
But it also seems to very appropriate that nothing is ever fully impossible and no enemy invincible. It may be suicidal to try fighting them, but anything being outright invincible to human might doesn't seem right.


"Steel isn't strong, boy. Flesh is stronger. What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?"

Spriggan's Den
 

7/09/2014 1:50 pm  #2


Re: "There's nothing in the universe cold steel won't cut."

Conan is quite simply wrong here, even with respect to his own milieu.  The eponymous being in "The Devil in Iron" is completely immune to weapons except for one specific magical dagger.  Similarly, the baboon-demon in "The Phoenix on the Sword" is shown to be immune to a normal axe before Conan's specially enchanted blade slays it.  The line you quoted says more about Conan's boastful courage and bull-headedness than it does about the actual physical circumstances of the Hyborean world, or sword and sorcery in general.  I wouldn't worry that much about it.

Last edited by Blackadder23 (7/09/2014 1:51 pm)


"The fear of death, its risk each time, is one of the most stimulating parts of the game. It therefore behooves the referee to include as many mystifying and dangerous areas as is consistent with a reasonable chance for survival." - J. Eric Holmes
 

7/09/2014 3:39 pm  #3


Re: "There's nothing in the universe cold steel won't cut."

Well, yes.
But I think it would be really cool if it would be true.

However, the solution could be in "Steel is strong. But flesh is stronger!"
Even if a blade can't kill it, it doesn't mean that a human can't defeat it. Brute force is not the only weapon of mortals, courage and cleverness are ultimately even more powerful.

However, "if it bleeds, we can kill it". And "I fear no living enemy, but my axe cannot cleave fleshless spirits."

Last edited by Yora (7/09/2014 4:00 pm)


"Steel isn't strong, boy. Flesh is stronger. What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?"

Spriggan's Den
     Thread Starter
 

7/09/2014 6:33 pm  #4


Re: "There's nothing in the universe cold steel won't cut."

There's nothing wrong with the idea.  It would be easy enough to implement:

1) Make corporeal creatures like undead and lycanthropes vulnerable to normal weapons.  Maybe you could destroy a wight, mummy, or werewolf simply by chopping it into small enough pieces.  Maybe a strong man could slay a demon with nothing more than cold steel (and even in AD&D, the weaker demon types are in fact vulnerable to normal weapons).

2) Don't use incorporeal monsters like wraiths or ghosts, or anything else that would be preposterous to injure with normal weapons.

3) Have fun! http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/smile.png


"The fear of death, its risk each time, is one of the most stimulating parts of the game. It therefore behooves the referee to include as many mystifying and dangerous areas as is consistent with a reasonable chance for survival." - J. Eric Holmes
 

7/09/2014 6:38 pm  #5


Re: "There's nothing in the universe cold steel won't cut."

I also did want to point out that, in AD&D and AS&SH, mortals are not entirely helpless against these creatures if they lack a magical weapon.  Fire (such as flaming or incendiary oil) is the great purifier and will take care of most of them.  Even liches are vulnerable to fire. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/devious.png


"The fear of death, its risk each time, is one of the most stimulating parts of the game. It therefore behooves the referee to include as many mystifying and dangerous areas as is consistent with a reasonable chance for survival." - J. Eric Holmes
 

7/09/2014 9:45 pm  #6


Re: "There's nothing in the universe cold steel won't cut."

Fire good!

(Also: I am the Angel of Darkness. The Hour of Redemption is at hand.)

 

7/10/2014 3:20 am  #7


Re: "There's nothing in the universe cold steel won't cut."

If in doubt, set something in fire.


"Steel isn't strong, boy. Flesh is stronger. What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?"

Spriggan's Den
     Thread Starter
 

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