The first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventure "White Plume Mountain," by Lawrence Schick, was a quest to recover three extremely powerful magical weapons. Since its original 1979 release, it has been reprinted and updated a number of times.

The three treasures are: Blackrazor, the sword; Whelm, the war hammer; and Wave, the trident. Their powers are enumerated in the module, and the appearance of Blackrazor is described in detail.

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.

The trio of weapons have been depicted visually a number of times.

*Wave, Blackrazor, Whelm*

Blackrazor is an intelligent black weapon with an underhanded personality, which exists solely to swallow up the souls of whoever it kills. Just in case there was any doubt whether this was a Stormbringer knock-off, the back of the 1980 printing of the module shows the blade being wielded by an apparent albino.

TSR's lawyers have advised me that this not not Elric.

Whelm (which is "obviously a dwarven weapon") does not get as much description of characterization. However, it is clearly a more powerful version of the AD&D hammer +3, dwarven thrower (a returning weapon), with added stunning abilities and extra damage against giants and evil humanoids. The dwarven thrower is itself a weaker version of the hammer of thunderbolts, based on Thor's weapon Mjolnir (whose well-known name actually just means "miller," or more idiomatically, "grinder"). Whelm, with its stunning and giant-killing powers, is thus clearly based on Thor's hammer.

However, that leaves Wave, the trident, which—to me at least—seems to have no obvious antecedents in folklore or fantasy fiction. It is described in the original adventure as:

Wave, a neutral +3 trident 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).

Obviously, this is a very powerful artifact—both in and out of combat. However, I do not recognize any allusions in Wave's powers (except to Poseidon and the sea). So was this item purely an invention of Schick's, or is it actually a reference that I never recognized?

  • 2
    You got it. It's just Neptune's trident. I think the force field might be a power of Aquaman but I don't know how far back that goes. – Adamant Jul 20 '19 at 5:12
  • Purpose: death or disfigurement to all who won’t convert to the worship of Poseidon. Alignment: Neutral. ;) – Adamant Jul 20 '19 at 5:14

I came across this 2009 interview with Lawrence Schick, in which he talks about how the module was put together.

White Plume Mountain was written as a sample document to persuade TSR to hire me as a game designer. I just plundered all the dungeons I’d designed over the previous four years, took out the best bits, and cobbled it all together. It worked; TSR hired me, bought the scenario, and published it as a module without changing a word. I’m a little embarrassed to this day by Blackrazor, inasmuch as it’s such a blatant rip-off of Elric’s Stormbringer; I would not have put it into the scenario if I ever thought it might be published.

That he does not mention feeling similarly embarrassed by the other weapons suggests that he did not consider them to be blatant rip-offs of the same nature. So there probably is no specific inspiration for the trident Wave.

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