Poll Position: The powers of legend

I've always wondered what it would be like if various fantastic objects made their way into the real world. And now, you get to wonder too!


Definitions and predilections after the jump.

  • Excalibur: Blinds its enemies when drawn, and (if found with the scabbard) prevents the wielder from bleeding. Also, makes you the rightful King of England.
  • The Palladium: Possessing this item means your side can never be defeated in war.
  • The Armor of Achilles: Forged by Hephaesus, this armor renders its wearer invulnerable to injury.
  • The Helmet of Hades: Renders the wearer invisible.
  • Odin's spear, Gungnir: Never misses its aim and it could not be stopped in mid-throw.
  • Cupid's bow: Causes the target to either love or hate the first person seen after being struck.
  • Talaria, Hermes' winged sandals: Grants the wearer the power of flight.
  • Aphrodites' Girdle: Cause anyone you desire to fall in love with you.

My problem with the personal injury items like Excalibur and Gungnir is that they're only as mighty as the person wielding them. If you're King Arthur or Odin, that's not a problem because let's face it, you're already a certified stud muffin. But wimpy bald guy from Colorado? Not so much. Plus, who wants to be King of England? They've no real power nowadays, so unless you're willing to off the entire Parliament you're sort of at loose ends there.

The Palladium would make you a very powerful person, but only if you kept it secret. In other words, as soon as the government of whatever nation you happened to side with found out you had it, you'd no longer have it. The way to play this would be, I think, to keep it secret and to choose your country very carefully. Then you're more or less at the mercy of your rulers, though, to only prosecute worthwhile wars that would make life better. Otherwise you might accidentally end up living inside an unbeatable Nazi Germany, and that's no fun at all.

If you're an adventurous type, the Armor of Achilles would be tempting. It'd be nice to be able to run into burning buildings and slog through a war zone without getting hurt. I don't know how practical something like that would be, but if you trained your body well you could, I think, be a reasonable facsimile of a super hero with it.

Similarly, the Helmet of Hades would give you a bona fide super power, but one more suited to stealth than heroic front-man action. Or you could use your power of invisibility for evil, of course, spying out secrets with which to blackmail the wealthy, that sort of thing.

The final "personal powers" item is the winged sandals of Hermes. We've talked about it before, but being able to fly would be awesome. And if it's the more powerful version of the sandals, granting not just flight but supersonic speed, that would be even better. You could travel the world easily whenever you liked, even if you weren't of a mind to be a Flash style super hero.

The two emotional manipulation items, Cupid's bow and Aphrodites' Girdle, could be exceptionally powerful tools for either chaos or order. You could start or stop wars, make or ruin lives, or rule entire nations if you were clever and unscrupulous enough. But I don't think I could live with the knowledge that I'd surrounded myself by those whose affections were forced. That's like slavery and I can't help but think it would rot you from the inside out.

So for me, I'd probably go with Hermes' sandals. They're powerful enough that you could make a real difference in the world if you wished, but personal enough to be a lot of fun. And they're not SO powerful that you would be at risk of accidentally destroying the world or anything, which would be a relief.

What about you, what would you choose?