Akbitanian Steel

But in this case the reason for the attempted thefts and murders is a completely different one. But even this should not be used too often.

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I hereby solemnly GM swear to only abuse the PC’s newly found treasure a maximum of every second or third adventure. Unless it is really deserved.


You have only two players?

Three. (Didn’t I mention I am a horrible GM?? :wink: )

In the beginning it might be fun having to deal with people who want that Akbitanian steel weapon in every single adventure, but it gets lame and boring after some time.
So, if you have three PCs then it would be fair that the focus shifts with each adventure on another PC. That means that only every third adventure is somehow focused on the PC with the Akbitanian steel weapon (but not necessarily on that weapon).

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So… because it never turned up in a book, it can’t exist.

Why do we have role playing games, just read the books and be done.

Absolutely, or a story arc of 3-4 episodes that focus on one character, but then do the same for others.

I agree that having every adventure center on the sword would get boring… a story arc trying to acquire the weapon maybe.

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Yes and no. If it contradicts the source material then it cannot exist. The problem is that REH mentioned Akbitantian steel in atleast one story but did not mention that it is so sought-after that nearly every one will kill for it. The writers of the Conan the Mercenary sourcebook used the historical Ulfberht swords as basis, swords which were known to have been forged because of the high demand. But they did not mention the theft of such blades in the sourcebook. That is a invention of some posters here in this thread.

Or that…

REH mentioned Akbitanian steel once and the only thing he said about it was that it was unbreakable. That’s it. Every other detail is as right or wrong as one sees fit.

The issue here, as I see it, is not about the properties of Akbitanian steel, nor its rarity or desirability or whatever; the issue is whether or not it’s a believable or realistic narrative to have every man and his cat hunting you down for a weapon made of the stuff. If you think that makes a credible, coherent story, then great! I tend to agree with Caranfang that it sounds a little cliché. A good test for me is trying to consider if such a narrative would made the cut in a published REH story. And I doubt any publisher worth his salt would let that see print.

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Well, there are plenty of thefts in REH’s stories…

Yeah it’s not about about that. The point is that having ninjas and whatnot haranguing you for a weapon made of Akbitanian steel every time you turn a corner is a little absurd.

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Conan was a thief in the beginning of his career, but even he did not simple steal a weapon just because it is made from a fabled material.

I agree. As a GM you should always ask youself if the plot of your adventure is realistic enough even if reality sometimes writes stories that would be rejected by most publishers.

Constantly defending yourself against thieves and assassins because you own a not so unique weapon made of a rare material reminds me of an old saturday morning cartoon.

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My understanding is that the Ulfberht swords were merely pattern welded and not “true Damascus” or wootz. Pattern welding is a relatively easy process compared to making bloomery steel in a cruciable, like wootz, which is something we still can’t replicate to this day. So I would have thought that REH had that in mind, not the Ulfberht blades when he came up with the idea of Akbitanian steel. Also geographically and culturally, Akbitania is a likely match for Damascus.

(As an aside, I remember reading somewhere that historical wootz was harder than contemporary pattern welded steel, so it could hold a sharper edge for longer; but it was also more brittle, so it would break more easily. I’m happy with Akbitanian steel being simply more awesome in every regard though :slightly_smiling_face:)

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Exactly. Even though this is a fantasy setting, I like to aim for realism, or at least coherence.

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My research showed that the realy Ulfberht blades were made of Damascus steel but as soon as they could produce better steel this technique was dropped. The Ulfberht blades were the best swords made from of best steel of that time.

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Interesting. Thanks for the clarification.

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Although the rules don’t state that Akbitanan Steel weapons are things to be stolen, it’s also true that they are (at least) 10 times the value of normal weapons. An Akbitanan dagger or sword would be 50 Gold, and a two-handed sword, 70 Gold.

That makes Akbitanan Steel weapons among the most valuable things in the rulebooks, even outstripping a sailing vessel (Carrack = 30 G) or a sorcerous library or circle of power (25 & 30 G, respectively). And they’re portable! You can’t drag a Carrack across the desert, but an Akbitanan dagger is easy enough to carry.

Any thief that recognized the weapon (and knew its significance, since presumably they’re fairly rare and probably not common knowledge) would be drawn to it.

My current party includes an alchemist who has just learned the petty enchantment to make the weapons (plus they obtained one from an ancient vampire’s tomb), and they all intend to take precautions to make sure of two things:

  1. The weapons are made in well-guarded secrecy so no one steals the bleedin’ ALCHEMIST.

  2. The weapons are not used in large cities if at all possible. Killing brigands or cultists in the wilderness? Sure, but hauling one out in broad daylight in Khorshemish might attract a little attention.

Don’t tell my players, but they’re more worried about this than they need to be. If these weapons were super-thief-attractors, then the White Company officers would be targets rather than men and women who are able to command. From Conan the Mercenary, page 61: “Akbitanan steel and Hyrkanian horses are common among higher-ranking officers.” But that’s how I plan to run things, and not necessarily how a different DM will run them.


If our sessions end up as fun as Saturday morning cartoons, I already won. :wink:

I want to thank everyone for their input and I will certainly keep it all in mind. I have been trying to build a consistent world for them as well, however poorly it ends up. Having said that, in the end, it will come down to how and when the character in question wields that sword and the reputation he develops through his actions and responses to others. For instance, Malek Greywolf challenged the knight to duel for possession of the kidnapped boy (Kidnapped in Corinthia) and was promptly lit up from the sidelines by the beastmaster with a bow. While he did end up finishing Malek off with the blade, this will not be a triggering event for anyone actively coming for it.

Thanks again but by no means stop! This can be a pretty good thread for crappy GM’s everywhere! :wink: