Songsabers of Waterdeep

by Mike Means and the DRAGON staff, Dragon #335

From impetuous noble scions to the light-fingered youths of the streets, Waterdeep's younger generations are weaned on tales of daring heroes, quick-tongued rogues, and high magic. In recent months, the reopening of New Olamn bard college has attracted many of these thrill seekers, uniting groups of the most unlikely companions in their shared love of art and desire for adventure. From among these collections of brash and bold students one troupe has distinguished itself not just for its exceptional skill in the bardic arts, but for unmatched bravado and a penchant for disruption. Members of this fraternity call themselves Songsabers.

The Songsabers are a coed organization of New Olamn's students dedicated to their studies, each other, and their collective desires to one day feature as heroes in the tales they were raised on. To this end, these aspiring adventurers embrace the theatrical and indulge in extracurricular - and often impromptu - competitions of spellcasting and swordsmanship, usually in highly visible public areas. Such displays often interrupt the practice and performances of other students - not to mention the public lives of Waterdeep's citizenry - and have caused many members of New Olamn's faculty to condemn the group as upstarts scuffing the college's still fragile name. Secretly, though, several of the college's teachers lend approving winks and nods to the Songsabers, seeing them as the most ambitious of their peers. This encouragement is perhaps best evidenced by the rare magic and unique weapons gifted to - or stolen by - the fraternity, from which they take their name: songsabers.


Aside from being a group of particularly reckless students at New Olamn bard college, songsabers are also rare magic weapons that grow in power as their bard wielders' skills increase. To most characters, songsabers are nothing more than wooden cutlasses, longswords, rapiers, or sabers. Those using wooden weapons take a -2 penalty on attack rolls and such weapons only deal nonlethal damage. In the hands of a bard, however, these weapons become far more potent.
Constructed as educational tools, not actual weapons, songsabers are repositories of bardic lore. Upon the blades of these artfully crafted practice weapons run various complex runes. When wielded by a bard, however, these runes lose their mundane appearance, with one rune glowing brightly for every spell level the bard is capable of casting (thus a 5th-level bard, capable of casting 0-, 1st-, and 2nd-level spells, would cause three runes to glow). These glowing runes (regardless of number) shed shadowy illumination to a radius of 5 feet. A bard who studies one of a songsaber's glowing runes for a full day and succeeds at a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + 1 per spell level of the spell held by the rune), reveals a spell from the bard spell list of a level he is capable of casting. Only the spells contained within glowing runes can be revealed. If a bard wielder chooses, he may replace a spell he knows of the same level with the newly revealed spell. This replacement is permanent and the old spell known is lost (although it can be relearned normally). Usually flashy, martial, or heroic in theme, spells held within a spellsaber's runes are fixed at the time of a songsaber's creation and do not change, regardless of its wielder. A sample songsaber might hold the following spells (one from each spell level, 0 to 6th): dancing lights, expeditious retreat, tune of the dancing weapon, ever armed, rainbow pattern, greater heroism, mass cat's grace. Some of these spells are uncommon bard spells seeing renewed use due to their recent appearances upon songsabers. These spells are detailed in this article.

Lesser songsabers also exist, which are the same as normal songsabers but only hold spells from 0 to 3rd level.

Songsaber: Moderate (all schools of the spells held within the songsaber, most commonly conjuration, evocation, illusion, and transmutation); CL 16th; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, creator must be a bard, seven spells of differing levels from the bard spell list to be held by the songsaber Price 12,000; weight 4 lb.

Lesser songsaber: Faint (all schools of the spells held within the songsaber, most commonly conjuration, evocation, illusion, and transmutation); CL 7th; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, creator must be a bard, four spells of differing levels from the bard spell list to be held by the songsaber. Price 4,000; Weight 4 lb.

New Spells of the Songsabers

A mystery to many among the faculty of New Olamn college are the spells frequently put into use in the pranks, forays, and performances conducted by the Songsabers. Obscure, far-flung, ancient, or new, many of the spells Songsaber bards so flippantly cast are uncommon to even master bards. Many believe that one of the college's senior instructors provides the group with their magic through specially made songsabers. Others fear that these spells might be provided by a more sinister source, however, tempting the Songsabers to perform foolhardy deeds and bring about consequences for which they're totally unprepared.

Dueling Cloaks

The Songsabers of New Olamn make regular use of the heavy dueling cloaks predictably featured in daring romances of nimble swordsmen and cavalier swashbucklers. Favored by members of Waterdeep's elite who also feel the need to arm themselves, these short cloaks sling over one shoulder and might be taken in the hand to parry attacks.

A dueling cloak is specially made for combat and is woven of material thick enough to defend a wearer in battle. A dueling cloak is held in your offhand and provides a +1 shield bonus, as its heavy fabric turns aside blows. If you are proficient with light armor you are proficient with a dueling cloak. Although masterwork dueling cloaks can be crafted, these items cannot be enhanced using Craft Magic Arms and Armor. Some rumors suggest, however, that some dueling cloaks (created through the use of the Craft Wondrous Item feat) exist with a variety of flashy and particularly theatrical effects.

Disarm Attacks: By using it as an off-hand weapon, you can use a dueling cloak to disarm an opponent. When using a dueling cloak in this manner, you get a +2 bonus on opposed attack rolls made to disarm opponents (including the roll to avoid being disarmed if such an attack fails). For the purpose of penalties on your attack roll, treat a dueling cloak as a light weapon. If you use a dueling cloak to make a disarm attempt, you lose its AC bonus until your next action (usually the next round).

ArmorCost Armor/Shield Bonus MaximumDex BonusArmor Check PenaltyArcane Spell Failure ChanceWeight
Dueling Cloak15 gp+1--110%3 lb.

New Olamn

Cities of Faerûn