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Monday, June 23, 2014

The God of Snicker Snack

Unholy Symbol for
God of Assassins
Father of the Vorpal Blade
In my homebrew OSR campaign I wanted to fashion a deity that both took care of the Noble House Assassins in my campaign but tied in a classic item from the earliest AD&D books, the vorpal sword.

Vorpal blades appear again and again in classic OSR modules and campaigns but from whence do they come?  Who creates them?  Why are they so often intelligent?

Vorpus is the God of Assassins

In my homebrew campaign all of the gods live in some incarnation often bound to the same mortal / prime material plane where mortals tred.  I took inspiration for the creation of my own pantheon from the early write ups for deities found in the old Deities and Demigods book.  Not only was that a wonderful source book it full stat'd out every deity you might run into during an OSR campaign with armor class, hit points, special powers.  Indeed, every detail a party of players might need to say hunt down and slaughter these beings, once they reached very high level of course, was included.

In my campaign the gods grant divine spells.  The clerical level they can grant is generally based on my notions of how popular and widespread their worship has become.  Very popular entities grant the full boat of clerical spells while lesser known beings worshiped by the odd cult may only grant clerical spells up to level five or even as low as casting level three.

There are technically only two planes of existence in my campaign.  The mortal plane and the spirit plane.  The gods can migrate between these two planes at will but because they have their own interests tied to the mortal plane often set up residence somewhere there.

Vorpus for time out of mind has operated as the wizened old Eastern master of all assassins, everywhere.  Yes, once you reach level twelve or so you adventure off to find the grand master of all assassins, learn your final skills and then, if you are so inclined, challenge the grand master to a mortal combat from whence you might hope to emerge as the new grand master.

Vorpus lives in a quiet and humble hovel set up next to a simple (appearing) forge.  He portrays himself as both a master thief, poisoner and martial artist and also as a master smith.  Vorpus promises those who come to him a beautiful blade and when their training is complete they may choose to leave with this blade or challenge the little old man for the title.

Of course Vorpus is far more deadly than any yokel 13th level assassin could ever hope to be.  More than likely, when challenged, Vorpus will emerge the victor.  As his prize he will capture the soul of the high level assassin who challenged him and this he will use to fashion into a beautiful vorpal weapon.  As a rule, in my homebrew, all vorpal weapons are fashioned from the black souls of master assassins defeated by the God Vorpus.  They are all intelligent as they contain something of the personality of the individual from whom it was made.

When portraying Vorpus I often think of the character Egg Chen, the little old man with the six demon bag from the film, Big Trouble in Little China.  He seems fairly unkept and a little crude when the characters find him.  If they decide to abandon the challenge he will train them so that they can achieve 12th or 13th level and that is as far as they will ever advance, no matter their race.  Only a character who defeats Vorpus and replaces him can advance beyond the 13th level as an assassin.

Happy Gaming!

Ed Kann
OSR Dungeon Master


  1. I think that picture might be from The Golden Child. I could be wrong, though. Love Big Trouble in Little China!

    1. Doh! You may be right. Good call Venger!