Sunday 7 May 2023

Conversion Crawl Classes 9: AD&D: White Plume Mountain (3): Whelm, Wave, and Blackrazor

We’ve talked about the wilderness map, and we’ve talked about the adventure, but what people really remember about this module (apart from Dragotha) are the three magical weapons, Whelm, Wave, and especially Blackrazor. In Dungeon Crawl Classics, we are advised that every magic weapon is unique, so these three will fit right in. Or they will as soon as we convert them!

I think it might be a little advantageous to talk about why I am doing this series of posts. I own a lot of gaming material. I imagine many of you do as well, One of the questions I see come up consistently is "How do I convert X to Dungeon Crawl Classics?" It makes sense. DCC is a great game, but there have also be a lot of great adventures over the decades, both for various forms of Dungeons & Dragons and for other systems.

These posts are not intended to be me converting this material for you. Rather, they are intended to provide some reference points which allow you to convert anything you wish  as quickly and painlessly as possible.

There is also the possibility that you might be a publisher or writer looking at converting your own material. If this helps, at all, in creating a better conversion, then I will be rewarded by the result. Similarly, if a publisher does a substandard conversion, this material may help you, the reader, adjust that conversion to make the most out of the material presented.


Whelm is described in White Plume Mountain thusly:

Whelm, a lawful neutral hammer +3 (+5 for dwarves), intelligence 15, ego 18. Purpose: kill all trolls, giants and goblin-types (including bugbears and hobgoblins). It can be thrown and will return from up to 150' thrice per day (dwarves only). It also acts as a hammer of stunning: once per day, when struck upon the ground, it will send forth a shock wave stunning up to 45 hit points of enemies up to a distance of 60' for 1-4 rounds if they fail to save vs. spells. Whelm also detects gold, gems, and the presence of goblins. A drawback is that the bearer of this weapon will come under the influence of a severe case of agoraphobia (fear of wide, open places), and will fight at -2 when not inside a building, at night, or (best of all) underground. Whelm is obviously a dwarven weapon.

As we discussed in the previous post, Lawful Neutral translates to Lawful, Neutral translates to Neutral, and Chaotic Neutral translates to Chaotic. We can safely conclude that Whelm will be Lawful, and we conveniently have one weapon tied to each of the DCC alignments. That dwarves favor Law, and Whelm is a dwarven weapon, fits very nicely.

Overall, Whelm is not too powerful, but some of the hammer’s powers need to be reworked to mesh with DCC.

Whelm, +3 Lawful warhammer

Intelligence: 15

Communication: The original write-up doesn’t supply us with much information here, but Table 8-4 on page 367 of the core rulebook would suggest speech, telepathy, or both. In this case, I will go with  speech and telepathy to make Whelm consistent with Wave and Blackrazor.

Special Purpose: Kill trolls, giants, and goblinoids

Power 1: When wielded by a dwarf, Whelm gains an additional +2 to attack rolls and damage, and can be thrown up to 150’, returning to the dwarf’s hand immediately thereafter.

Power 2: Once per day, the wielder can strike the ground, sending out a shock wave that stuns all enemies within 60’, rendering them unable to for 1d4 rounds. Fort DC 15 negates.

Power 3: The wielder can smell gold and gems as a dwarf. The wielder also gains the ability to sense goblinoid creatures within 100’.

Curse: Wielder suffers severe agoraphobia, and has a -1d penalty to all attack rolls, spell checks, and skill checks when outside during daylight hours. This curse is not in effect when inside a building, at night, or (best of all) underground.


Wave, a neutral trident +3 which does 1-10 hit points of damage. 14 intelligence, 20 ego. Purpose: death or disfigurement to all who won't convert to the worship of Poseidon (or any similar sea-god you choose). Powers:

Functions as a trident of fish commanding (as the miscellaneous magic item in DUNGEON MASTERS GUIDE)

Functions as a trident of warning (as the miscellaneous magic item in Dungeon Masters Guide)

Finds water

Confers water-breathing and underwater action abilities upon bearer

Confers cube of force ability (as the miscellaneous magic item in Dungeon Masters Guide)

Possesses speech and telepathy (in the common tongue as well as the languages of all sea creatures).

Dehydrates: On a natural roll of 20, in addition to its normal damage, Wave dehydrates its opponent, draining one-half of his or her remaining hit points (compute normal damage first).

This one is a bit stranger in that its cube of force power seems a bit off-theme. Nonetheless, it is easily enough converted to DCC terms. In this case, we also need to keep in mind the DCC magic system, and we will allow a spell check for force manipulation. Pelagia is the core neutral sea goddess, so we will replace Poseidon with her. Wave might look like this in DCC terms:

Wave, +3 Lawful trident (as polearm)

Intelligence: 14

Communication: Speech and telepathy (Common and languages of all sea creatures).

Special Purpose: Kill or disfigure all those refusing to convert to the worship of Pelagia.

Power 1: Wielder can breathe water indefinitely, and being in water causes no penalty to movement, attacks, spell checks, etc.

Power 2: Wielder can sense large amounts of water (at least 10 gallons) within 500’.

Power 3: Wielder cannot be surprised while holding the trident.

Power 4: Wielder can telepathically control up to 2d6 + level HD of fish or other marine creatures for 1d3 turns 3 times each day.

Power 5: Wielder can cast force manipulation through the trident using 1d20+4 for the spell check.

Power 6: When scoring a critical hit, in addition to all other effects (and after normal damage plus critical effects are resolved), Wave dehydrates its target to half its remaining hit points, rounded down.

Importantly, I did not crack open the Dungeon Master’s Guide to determine how to convert these powers. Instead, I used the existing text from White Plume Mountain to extrapolate a conversion that both captured a sense of the original, and was DCC-ified. This is going to be more important as we look at more esoteric conversions – you do not need the core rules for Traveller, MERP, or Twilight 2000 to convert an adventure. You need to understand the gist of what you are reading, and you need to understand DCC. Or even what you want to do in DCC.


Blackrazor, a chaotic neutral sword +3, intelligence 17, ego 16. Purpose: to suck souls. It is a black sword that shines like a piece of night sky filled with stars, and it is sheathed in a black scabbard decorated with pieces of cut obsidian. On a killing stroke, Blackrazor temporarily adds the number of levels of the dead foe to its bearer's levels (in terms of fighting ability). The bearer also temporarily gains the full hit points of the victim. All subsequent damage to the sword's wielder is removed from the added hit points first. The extra levels and hit points last a number of turns equal to the number of levels received. The souls of all entities killed by Blackrazor are sucked out and devoured; those killed by the black sword cannot be raised.

For every three days the sword remains “unfed”, its ego increases by one point, until it can compel its bearer to kill a human or humanoid being. Upon feeding, its ego returns to 16. The DM will note that Blackrazor is a negative-energy entity that exists by absorbing positive life energy levels from those it kills. However, if it even strikes a negative-energy being like an undead (except for ghouls and ghosts), it will work in reverse, transferring one level and corresponding hit points from the wielder to the creature attacked. lt will do this each time that it strikes. Under these conditions, the wielder can actually die and have his soul sucked out by his own sword. If the wielder survives, he will need a restoration spell or twice the usual number of levels received from positive “kills” to replace the lost levels. Those killed for replacement must be of the same race as the sword-wielder. Blackrazor (and you, the DM) may very well keep this little drawback a secret until the first time the sword bites into a wight or a vampire. The DM must remember that Blackrazor exists solely to feel power and souls coursing through itself, and sometimes it may not be too picky about where the energy is coming from.

In addition to the above, the sword has the following powers:

Speech and telepathy (common and whatever tongues its wielder knows, which it learns telepathically)

Detects living creatures (souls), 60' r.

Haste spell (bearer only, 10 rounds}, once per day

100% magic resistance to charm and fear (exact percentage chance of resistance will depend on the level of the opponent casting such a spell)

Blackrazor, +3 Chaotic longsword

Intelligence: 17

Communication: Speech and telepathy.

Special Purpose: Consume souls.

Power 1: Suck Souls: When a living opponent is slain by Blackrazor, the sword consumes that beings soul, adding the victim’s hit points to its wielder equal for 1d3 turns. During this time, any damage to the wielder is removed from the temporary hit points first. The souls of all entities killed by Blackrazor are devoured and forever gone; those killed by the black sword cannot be returned to life by any means. A creature reduced to 0 hp by this ability cannot be magically healed, and cannot be saved by recovering the body.

Power 2: The sword senses all living beings, including those which are hidden or invisible, within 60’, and can communicate their presence to its wielder.

Power 3: The wielder gains a +6 bonus to all mind-affecting spells and effects, except those caused by Blackrazor itself (see below).

Curse 1: If Blackrazor is not fed for three days, it will force its wielder to make a Will save or be dominated. If the save is failed, Blackrazor takes over the dominated wielder completely for 2d6 rounds, and it attempts to consume as many souls as possible during this time. The initial DC is 20, but this raises by +1 for each day that the sword has not consumed a soul, and the sword can attempt to dominate its wielder once every 1d3 days after the initial three-day period.

Curse 2: Whenever Blackrazor strikes an un-dead foe, it consumes part of its wielder’s soul and transfers it as energy to the target. The wielder suffers 1 HD damage (1d12 for a warrior, 1d6 for a thief, and so on), and the target gains the same number of hit points. If the wielder is reduced to 0 hp in this manner, their soul is devoured and they are forever dead with no chance of recovery.

The reader will note that I have toned down Blackrazor a bit, but not much. Adding a level of fighting ability in DCC is not only overkill, but it is a logistical nightmare…especially as DCC tops out at 10 levels. Even adding a +1 bonus per X HD killed would be a bit much, and what would this mean for a warrior or a dwarf? Does their Deed Die increase? I frankly decided that trying to answer these questions wasn’t worth the gain. Or, for that matter, the increased complexity that I would be handing the prospective judge using this material.

Next: AD&D 2nd Edition: Swamplight

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