Each of these were complied into the Complete Book of Swords, 1985.
1st Book of Lost Swords: Woundhealer's Story, 1988
2nd Book of Lost Swords: Sightblinder's Story, 1988
3rd Book of Lost Swords: Stonecutter's Story, 1988
4th Book of Lost Swords: Farslayer's Story, 1989
5th Book of Lost Swords: Coinspinner's Story, 1989
6th Book of Lost Swords: Mindsword's Story, 1990
7th Book of Lost Swords: Wayfinder's Story, 1992
Last Book of Lost Swords: Shieldbreaker's Story, 1993
The Gods decide to have a game. The playing pieces are humans, armed with 12 nigh-indestructible swords forged by Vulcan, imbued with unique powers.Each sword is surgically sharp, perfectly crafted, and, as mentioned, nigh-invulnerable. Each also possesses a special ability unique to the sword. They may be identified by a symbol engraved in white upon their otherwise black hilt, or in the case of Soulcutter, a lack thereof.
Coinspinner, the Sword of Chance.
Symbol: A pair of dice.
Pros: Provides unnaturally good luck to its bearer, and bad luck to his or her foes. Can also be used as a less-powerful version of Wayfinder (presumably by steering its bearer away from "unlucky" routes).
Cons: If the bearer takes his eyes off Coinspinner, even for one second, it can disappear and reappear anywhere in the world, even into a rival's hands. It often inflicts bad luck on the former bearer before it goes, especially if the bearer tried to keep the sword from leaving.
Doomgiver, the Sword of Justice.
Symbol: A hollow circle.
Pros: Turns any attack upon its bearer back onto the attacker - to include attacks that do not necessarily damage the bearer. (e.g. one of the Goddesses attempted to use magic to make a bearer fall in love with her to the point of being her slave - and ended up enslaved herself).
Cons: Destroyed by Shieldbreaker before we can see any.
Symbol: Concentric circles, similar to a bulls-eye.
Pros: Swing the blade in a circle and wish to kill someone and the sword will shriek through the air, sending a rainbow trail behind, on a direct and unstoppable journey straight into its target's heart (or its equivalent).
Mindsword, the Sword of Glory (Or, pejoratively, "Skulltwister, the Sword of Madness")
Symbol: A flying banner. The blade itself is impossibly beautiful.
Pros: Unsheathed, it emits the sound of a cheering crowd, and compels fanatical devotion toward its bearer upon all who can see or hear it. The effects start wearing off after three days. Even sheathed, it works on some level. Wounds caused by its edge also fester horribly.
Cons: This devotion can go to the user's head.
Shieldbreaker, the Sword of Force (also, "The Widowmaker").
Symbol: A hammer.
Pros: Confers immunity to all armed attacks (claws and teeth count), as well as magical spells and, most importantly, the effects of the other Swords. Substitutes its own abilities for the bearer's skill, blocking attacks and striking with superhuman strength and speed. Any weapon (or equivalent) blocked or struck by Shieldbreaker will explode, generally severely harming or killing the opponent. This is the only way to destroy another Sword. Magical spells against Shieldbreaker's bearer are negated harmlessly.
Cons: It's said that "no weapon" can stand up to it, and this is literally true; Shieldbreaker passes harmlessly through unarmed opponents and grants no protection whatsoever against punches, kicks, grapples, or any other type of unarmed attack. Furthermore, because Shieldbreaker controls its wielder's body during battle, he or she can't do anything to at all to fight back against an unarmed opponent - or, for that matter, choose not to kill an armed one. However, the biggest drawback is that once drawn, it is nigh impossible to let go of Shieldbreaker as long as there are enemies present. Also, it draws strength from its wielder to operate; a long-enough fight can cause its owner to die of exhaustion. These drawbacks were used to great effect to overwhelm the Smith God by mobbing him with a pack of unarmed human fighters when he was using the Sword - he could not let it go, but the Sword couldn't hurt any of the fighters without a weapon, and he was eventually exhausted and overwhelmed. On a number of occasions, this has resulted in Genre Savvy weilders and opponents essentially playing a game of "Musical Swords" where the opponent of Shieldbreaker's wielder will drop their Sword, forcing Shieldbreaker's wielder to drop it to avoid this weakness, and both try to get the non-sheildbreaker sword in hand when the other isn't close enough to Shieldbreaker to pick it up.
Sightblinder, the Sword of Stealth (or Deception).
Symbol: A stylized human eye.
Pros: People perceive the bearer as the person or entity they love and trust the most, or as the one they fear the most. The bearer's senses are sharpened, and they gain the ability to see through illusions (providing some protection from the Mindsword and Soulcutter).
Soulcutter, the Sword of Despair (also, the Tyrant's Blade)
Symbol: None. The blade lacks any luster.
Pros: When unsheathed, the sword projects a field of total despair and apathy so pervasive that anything caught in its range can do nothing except lie down and wait to die...
Cons:...including the bearer. Therefore, drawing the sword is generally the last decision anyone makes, and the mere threat of someone possessing it is often a big deal. Also causes Rapid Aging in its wielder.
Symbol: A sword raised a stylized segment of castle wall.
Pros: When defending unarmed people in a fixed position, Townsaver turns its bearer into a One-Man Army, striking with inhuman strength and speed, and keeps him from succumbing to his wounds until the end of battle.
Cons: Besides that last bit, Townsaver does nothing to protect its bearer. It will even place its bearer between an attack and the people he's protecting. As with Shieldbreaker, the user is also compelled to finish a battle once entered, and will ignore any wound other than a killing blow. With all of this, it's not uncommon for the wielder to draw it, fight off an army single-handedly, and then instantly die of exhaustion or their wounds once the battle is over.
Wayfinder, the Sword of Wisdom.
Pros: Wayfinder may guide its bearer to any goal they want, and takes into account anything they need to reach it. It may also be used for divinatory purposes (e.g. "Which person is lying to me?").
Woundhealer, the Sword of Mercy (Or Love, or Healing).
Symbol: An open human hand.
Pros: Will cure any living thing whose flesh it pierces of any malady or injury short of death, including mental or genetic disorders. (This later serves as a Deus ex Machina when combined with The Power OfHeart.) It's also the only weapon that can stand up to and destroy Shieldbreaker.
Vulcan enlists a few humans to help with his creating, and when he's done, he uses the bodies of all his helpers, save one, to quench the blades. The one he spares, he cuts off his arm and leaves him with Townsaver. Life proceeds as normal, until the local lord decides he wants to have a look at this commoner's God-Forged sword.At this point, the War for the Swords begins in earnest. All the high and mighty, rich and powerful people seek the various swords for themselves.A commonly-known song describes the Swords, providing hints as to their powers and weaknesses, and goes thus:THE SONG OF SWORDS
Who holds Coinspinner knows good odds Whichever move he make But the Sword of Chance, to please the gods Slips from him like a snake.
The Sword of Justice balances the pans Of right and wrong, and foul and fair. Eye for an eye, Doomgiver scans The fate of all folk everywhere.
Dragonslicer, Dragonslicer, how d'you slay? Reaching for the heart in behind the scales. Dragonslicer, Dragonslicer, where do you stay? In the belly of the giant that my blade impales.
Farslayer howls across the world For thy heart, for thy heart, who hast wronged me! Vengeance is his who casts the blade Yet he will in the end no triumph see.
Whose flesh the Sword of Mercy hurts has drawn no breath; Whose soul it heals has wandered in the night, Has paid the summing of all debts in death Has turned to see returning light.
The Mindsword spun in the dawn's gray light And men and demons knelt down before. The Mindsword flashed in the midday bright Gods joined the dance, and the march to war. It spun in the twilight dim as well And gods and men marched off to hell.
I shatter Swords and splinter spears; None stands to Shieldbreaker. My point's the fount of orphans' tears My edge the widowmaker.
The Sword of Stealth is given to One lonely and despised. Sightblinder's gifts: his eyes are keen His nature is disguised.
The Tyrant's Blade no blood hath spilled But doth the spirit carve Soulcutter hath no body killed But many left to starve.
The Sword of Siege struck a hammer's blow With a crash, and a smash, and a tumbled wall. Stonecutter laid a castle low With a groan, and a roar, and a tower's fall.
Long roads the Sword of Fury makes Hard walls it builds around the soft The fighter who Townsaver takes Can bid farewell to home and croft.
Who holds Wayfinder finds good roads Its master's step is brisk. The Sword of Wisdom lightens loads But adds unto their risk.
This series provides examples of:
Absurdly Sharp Blade - All of the Swords, with beyond-absurd sharpness inside their specialties, with the sole exception of Woundhealer, which is a Healing Shiv, and cannot harm a living creature.
Bear in mind that Woundhealer is still absurdly sharp, and will cut through non-living matter just fine.
A God Am I - Anyone who uses the Mindsword. Its ability is to turn everyone within a couple hundred yards into mindlessly devoted slaves to the wielder. A few days with the hangers-on, and the wielder starts to believe the hype.
Attack Reflector - Doomgiver. It understands the attacker's intent and will reflect any threat. A dropped boulder? Doomgiver will send it flying right back up to hit the dropper, even if it has to turn corners. A demon threatens to turn your body inside out, eat you, and digest you for 1000 years? We'll just say that being turned inside out and forced into your own stomach is not comfortable. A succubus tries to make you fall in love with her? She falls in love with you. A few Gods are planning to deprive you of your Sword? They lose theirs.
Badass Boast Shieldbreaker's verse in the Song of Swords above
Big Bad - Several - Vilkata and Yambu in the first trilogy, the immortal wizard Wood for most of the Lost Swords iterations.
Clingy MacGuffin - Once the battle starts, the wielder of Shieldbreaker can not let it go. And it can only harm armed opponents. So, one man can take on an army of soldiers armed to the teeth, demons, even the Gods themselves, but don't let the unarmed man get a stranglehold...
Cool Mask - The Emperor is said to wear masks from time to time.
Deal with the Devil - Vilkata. He cuts out his own eyes as a sacrifice in order to curse an enemy. Thereafter, various demons provide vision for him. Vilkata throws his pet demons a bone every now and then in fresh human flesh to torture.
Justified since the whole thing is a game run by the gods anyway.
It's also Coinspinners stated power.
Determinator - Baron Doon, who goes three rounds against Shieldbreaker by using sheer cussedness (and dropping his destroyed weapons before the Sword can finish the job).
Dual Wielding - Difficult for most people to do with Swords. Causes intense nausea, but some people can handle it. However, the major drawback is that this significantly amplifies the stamina drain of wielding just one Sword, causing even people that can pull it off to tire very quickly.
Happily Married - Played straight and subverted. Mark and Kristin oscillate throughout the series from happily married to wanting divorce. In the latter half of the series, Ben spends most of his time adventuring specifically to avoid his wife and child. Jord and Mala seem to get along well despite their marriage having been arranged without much input by them.
Puff of Logic: Pretty much how Shieldbreaker is destroyed. The main character is stabbed by Shieldbreaker while Woundhealer is jammed through his heart. Shieldbreaker doesn't regard Woundhealer as a weapon since it's a Healing Shiv, but he grabs at Shieldbreaker as he's hit, so he is armed- with Shieldbreaker. And Shieldbreaker destroys any weapon it's target is armed with. . .
Rapid Aging: When Soulcutter is drawn it causes its wielder to age at a highly accelerated rate.
Reasonable Authority Figure: Sir Andrew. He even has the word 'kind' usually added to his name. Unfortunately he's a relatively small fish surrounded by unpleasant and powerful nobles.
Soul Jar - Demons souls are tied to mundane objects.
Stout Strength — Ben, one of the main characters, is a tall, broad guy with a stupid-looking face. If he's wearing something that shows his general outline, he looks fat, and his arms and legs are so thick in proportion to their length they look stubby. Almost none of it is fat, though; Ben is much, much stronger than carnival strongmen, and gifted with above-average intelligence to boot.
Throwing Your Sword Always Works - This is Farslayer's power, and we mean it always works. Even if the target is halfway around the world, underground, defended by powerful magic, and one of the Gods.
The difficulty being that it's not Mjolnir, it doesn't come back and it has no particular loyalty to the thrower. Meaning that the magical sniper sword is now sitting in your enemy's camp, through your enemy's heart yes, but also in easy reach of any of his allies (Or grief-stricken family members with a motive to avenge their fallen loved one)...
Though it was never used against someone wielding Shieldbreaker, it would presumably be destroyed if it had been.
Treacherous Spirit Chase - In Woundhealer's Story, one of the main characters keeps seeing tantalizing hints of a specific girl he vaguely recognizes. Every time he comes across evidence of her, it mysteriously turns into a mundane material that has reason to be there already. Hair caught in a rough bush turns to spiderweb in his hands, fabric turns to moss, etc, and each time he is drawn further into the forest. Only after he's magically paralyzed by an enemy does he realize the entire thing had been an evil enchantment designed to lure him there.