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Basic Information

The Kris (also keris or kali) is a type dagger or short sword indigenous to the area around Java, Indonesia and the Philipines. These are mainly piercing weapons and are distinguished by their "pistol grip" hilt and a wavy blade, always with an odd number of waves.

Apparently never a primary weapon, the kris has strong ceremonial and mystical aspects and is often considered to have its own soul or spirit, capable of acting on its own volition and making it essential that kris and owner are compatible with one another. Unsurprisingly there are a wide range of divination rituals available to determine the personality of a blade and whether or not it will co-operate with a given owner. Indeed, particular legendary kris are said to have personalities which can exert and influence over their wielder … and, legends being what they are, this is rarely a good thing. Unusually kris are almost ubiquitous in their host cultures, not being limited to any particular caste and being carried by both men and women (although women's kris tend to be smaller).

Appropriately for a blade with such strong mystical significance, historical examples tend to incorporate at least some meteoric material (what and how much depending on local sources) and involve significant ritual elements in the forging and consecration of the blade.

In Philipino legend a kris (ironically, more commonly known as a kali in the Philipines) is the only weapon known to be able to harm the astral body of a berbalang … and even then only when smeared with lime juice.


Wikipedia article

Game and Story Use

  • As with Japanese and European swords, quite a lot of those on the modern market are "sword shaped objects" made by inferior techniques and quite useless for any practical application. Hope you've got a properly made one when the berbalang come for you.
  • Conversely, a kris may turn up in an antique shop or pawnbroker somewhere in the west that is … very traditional and has a nasty influence on its users. Good luck persuading the police (or whoever) that "an evil sword" was responsible for a series of murders.
    • Potentially a very powerful kris might take over a minor criminal or thug and transform him into a signficant crimelord. It might not even be that evil a kris, just one capable of identifying a wielder with the potential to be powerful and driving his career in the way it knows best.
  • Quite a good model for magical swords generally and, unusually, a culture model in which they are almost as common as magical swords in "that fRPG".
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