The thing about classic settings like Curse of Strahd is that while maybe your players don’t know all the details, they may have been playing D&D long enough that they have heard of certain legendary magic items, like the Sunsword. But then new books come along, like the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount with new, lesser known items like Duskcrusher. Or maybe vice versa, you've got a bunch of young Critters who love all things Wildemount, but who are giving a classic like CoS a try.
So here’s the idea: can we substitute Duskcrusher for the Sunsword?
Powers and Ability Comparison:
The first big difference is that the Sunsword is sentient. But that’s easy enough to give to Duskcrusher too. After that, the Sunsword is essentially just a Sunblade.
- You gain a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this weapon, which deals radiant damage instead of slashing damage. When you hit an undead with it, that target takes an extra 1d8 radiant damage.
- The sword's luminous blade emits bright light in a 15-foot radius and dim light for an additional 15 feet. The light is sunlight. While the blade persists, you can use an action to expand or reduce its radius of bright and dim light by 5 feet each, to a maximum of 30 feet each or a minimum of 10 feet each.
- While the radiant head is active, you gain a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon, and attacks with the weapon deal radiant damage instead of bludgeoning damage. An undead creature hit by the weapon takes an extra 1d8 radiant damage. (This is pretty much the same.)
- The warhammer’s radiant head emits bright light in a 15-foot radius and dim light for an additional 15 feet. The light is sunlight. You can use an action to make the radiant head disappear. (The only difference is the sunblade’s light can be extended. This is something the Duskcrusher can do only with the use of the following feature)
- While you are holding Duskcrusher and its radiant head is active, you can use an action to cast the sunbeam spell (save DC 15) from the weapon, and this action can’t be used again until the next dawn. (This expands the sun light to 30’ for one minute. During that duration, you can shoot 60’ beams of sun light that all creature in must make Con saves or take 6d8 radiant damage. Undead have disadvantage. Failed saves also result in blindness for one round.)
Making it Work in The Story
Orginally Strahd's borther owned the Sunsword, back when it had a crystal blade. So, why did Sergei von Zarovich have a warhammer? Why does anyone? Perhaps it’s not the most gothic of items, but perhaps it once was an item of great beauty. Just as the Sunsword once had a crystal blade, so too did the warhammer. It was an art piece perhaps, one that symbolized the fragility of power when used heavy-handedly. What matters is that it’s sentience has always bothered Strahd, and that following Sergei’s death, he employs the wizard Khazan to destroy it. But only the crystal was destroyed, and the rest of the weapon was rescued by the wizard’s apprentice. The apprentice is found in mutilated in the Svalich woods, possibly torn apart by wolves trying to flee Barovia. The Duskcrusher then shows up in game wherever the party might find the Sunsword.
Tell Me Again Why You Would Want To Remix The Story
These two magic items are so similar in so many ways, but are from two different generations of the game. Much like Jack and I are as players. That’s what makes this game so great: Rip, Mix, Burn. It is yours to pull apart and put back together. And it’s yours to make beautiful for your players. If you play with Critters who love the Wildemount stuff, but have agreed to give old CoS a try, a touch like this might delight them a lot more than just the story as written. Or maybe just for your own enjoyment as a DM to know how to make substitutions of similar items, or creatures, or traps, or whatever that keeps the game fresh. Dig back into old source materials or reach forward into new ones — it can all be made to work together in exciting new ways.