mithriltabby: Ancient Roman icosahedral die (Game)
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One of the absurdities of classic Dungeons and Dragons is the notion of generic magic items, with the classic “+n sword” being one the most common. Magic is an art; why would there ever be two functionally identical magic swords in the world? Here are a batch that turned up in Seas of Chaos:

Flamepeak and Wavecrest

Matched masterpiece-quality katanas. Flamepeak has flame patterns in the hamon in its steel and a tsuba with fire opals on gold; Wavecrest has wavy patterns in its steel and a tsuba with water opals on white gold. Each does extra elemental damage, and they can respectively ignite and extinguish fires. Wielded by two people together, they do an extra increment of damage when wielded against a single target. The weapons are not particularly powerful in battle (though they could be quite potent socially if you’re running a fantasy of manners), but they are extremely elegant, from the craftsmanship to the enchantment. They make superb gifts for important nobles.

Blood-drinker

A rapier (made of blood-quenched steel) with blood grooves leading to a ghoulbone hilt set with four bloodstones. For each hit die of damage done against creatures with circulatory systems, one bloodstone becomes particularly shiny, and it does an extra increment of blood drain damage. The extra damage resets about as fast as your pulse would slow outside of combat.

Fairfight

A steel greatsword set with gold runic filigree and black opals. Utterly mundane in melee combat (though it will harm creatures that are immune to mundane weapons), but can parry arrows and attack spells, and after a successful parry, may subsequently counterattack ignoring range. (The special effect is that flashes from the blade’s edge shoot through the air to do cutting damage.) The blade will turn on its wielder if they make a cowardly attack, such as a back stab or an assault on the helpless or surrendered.

Moonblade

A silver-chased steel scimitar set with ithildin designs depicting the phases of the moon, with a large moonstone in the pommel. Extra damage vs. lycanthropes, undead, and illusions.

Breaker

An irgaak of black blood-quenched steel, set with a rune of a clenched fist. Shatters hard things on a critical or called shot, or fumbled attack against it: bones, swords, doors...

Frostbite

A blue laen saber with an aquamarine in the pommel. It does extra cold damage and can freeze water; if the wielder has skates, he can skate across water by holding the point to the surface.

Sharpsear

A steel longsword whose blade is just short of red hot when drawn. The hilt is of red gold with a stylized heat shimmer pattern. The blade does extra heat damage, cauterizes wounds, and keeps the wielder warm even in blizzards. (The hilt cools down the moment it goes in the sheath.)

Flyspawn

A black steel bastard sword with two large faceted garnets in the hilt. The wounds wind up full of maggots; if the target dies, the maggots turn into a swarm of biting flies that fights at the same level as the dead target, which will attack the nearest creature that is not the wielder of Flyspawn.

Lifewater

An ithilnaur shortsword with a violet garnet in the pommel that “sweats” pure ethanol in combat, doing extra damage to anything with a circulatory system as it stings in open wounds. If the blade is placed in a beverage and gripped more than lightly, fatigue will be sucked out of the wearer and the beverage will become more alcoholic. Beings with control of their internal energy can pump it in (in quantities they recover with a night’s rest) instead. A significant increment of energy (magic point, spell level, etc.) can produce a pint of pure ethanol.

Everclean

A fine steel longsword set with a clear jargoon in the hilt. Never gets dirty, never rusts, gore just slides right off it, and you never have to wipe it before sheathing. The wielder can also invoke the cleanliness effect on his person and gear, or by laying on of hands.

Chopper and Scooper

Chopper is a chef’s knife of meteoric iron (from a tonberry) with an ebony handle. Does impressive extra damage in combat, and can perform butchering actions in combat on a called shot or critical (jointing, deboning, etc.). Scooper is a large iron spoon that can be wielded as a mace and is an effective parrying weapon that can hold an opponent’s essence without spilling. The two together (requiring two-weapon proficiency) can instantly turn an opponent into a prepared meal on a lethal critical hit. While very effective, they appear somewhat absurd.

Hawkwing

A steel longsword set with a large, narrow slice of agate banded like a hawk’s wing— enchanted to flex with the steel— that can be thrown using melee skill, up to a range in meters equal to that skill level, and return. The wielder can fly with the sword drawn.

Viper

Steel rapier with patterning on the blade resembling a snake’s scales, with a snake’s head in profile on the tip, set with emerald eyes that match much larger emeralds on the gold chased-hilt. The blade will curve around defenses, slipping between cracks in armor. The hilt serves as a reservoir for 8 doses of injectable poison, which it will automatically inject if the tip of the blade is inserted into flesh.

Ghostblade

The sword of a dead assassin, stolen from his ghost and embedded into a white jade (nephrite) hilt that allows corporeal people to grasp it. The blade bypasses armor and strikes at the level of the spirit rather than flesh. Sheathes into any pouch or pocket.

Date: 2011-07-26 08:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cmccurry.livejournal.com
One good idea I remember about the "Why do they have generic swords?" was this:

Sure, that's a mere +1 blade. But that Archmage whose tower you are raiding is the one who made it. As a gift for his son congratulating him on joining the town's army.

Date: 2011-07-27 01:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grandmoffdavid.livejournal.com
As I recall, the explanation for generic swords was that they weren't necessarily magical, but rather that they were made from exotic metals that are beyond the ability of normal smiths to work. If I remember right, +1 was mithral, +2 was adamantite, and so on.

Date: 2011-08-01 08:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] the-weregamer.livejournal.com
I still like the idea I had for Ars Magica. Note that in that game, a generic bonus is as plausible as anything for a magic weapon intended for use by anyone other than the maker - why invest creativity in a mere tool for your servant?

But it occurred to me that if you wanted to bribe/reward a hero big-time enough to really matter to a wizard, you might do this: "In reward for your service, I have crafted this magic blade for you which will do extra damage to magical creatures, fae folk, even more powerful undead. But note the glowing gem in the hilt. That is the resevoir of magical power, and it will dim over time. When it is no longer glowing, bring it back to me and I will recharge it."

In actuality, the sword collects the magical essence (vis) from the target. The gem is actually measuring how full the reservoir has gotten, and "recharging" the sword is done by decanting all that power for the wizard's use. This sword would take a little longer to craft than a simple enchantment, but the research time lost to make it would be paid back by an ongoing supply of interesting and dangerous-to-obtain vis.

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