Saturday, May 12, 2012

Influences on D&D

The Vorpal blade is perhaps one of the best known of the iconic D&D weapons. The origin for the weapon is from the poem Jabberwocky by Lewis Carol. Mentioned twice in the poem, the blade was used to defeat the Jabberwock, which he beheaded and took the gruesome trophy home to prove his victory over the beast.

What the poem does not explicitly state is that the blade slew the beast by beheading it in combat, merely that the hero took the creature's head home with him after slaying it. Despite this lack of confirmation for a neck severing fetish, that is how has been depicted in the rules of the game from the early days.

Vorpal weapons rank among the many powerful obstacles to the survival of Big Bad Evil Guys during campaigns, and many a longterm campaign plot has had it's head handed to the DM by the lucky stroke from this amazing weapon.

Anyone have a story of how this weapon was used to humorous effect in a game you took part in?


Lewis Carroll

(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872) `Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
  The frumious Bandersnatch!"
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
  Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
  And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
  The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
  And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
  The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
  He went galumphing back.
"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
  Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
  He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

1 comment:

Doomsdave said...

I read that the word vorpal was another Carroll portmanteau word. Combining the words Gospel and Verbal. In my games Vorpal Swords are activated with verbal cantrips (often inscribed on the blade in arcane glyphs)Thundercats style.