Thursday, October 11, 2012

More on Magic Swords

Yesterday, I mentioned that there were three steps within the process of making an Ulfberht Sword that invited elaboration. Given that I suggested a campaign world with no other magic weapons than swords, it got me thinking about how to take advantage of these elaborations in order to make each magical sword, if not unique, than one with a bit of a back-story.

Thus, I have endeavored to produce one of my favorite things — a series of random tables — in order to come up with the formula used to create a sword based on the aforementioned three steps (thus giving the sword the seeds of a backstory). These tables assume that a magic sword is automatically +1 and that various methods of forging the sword might result in additional powers. Note: all bonuses are cumulative.

Table 1.1 Carbon Source (d10)

  1. Animal Bones = Speak with Animals 3 x per day with the specific animal used
  2. Monster Bones = Bane +1 vs. monster type
  3. Humanoid Bones = Bane +1 vs. humanoid type
  4. Incense = Bane +1 vs. Chaotic/Evil creatures
  5. Dragon Bones = +1 plus Bane +1 vs. dragons
  6. - 10. Normal Charcoal = no extra powers

Table 1.2 Rune Etching (d20)

  1. Stone Rune = Damage Reduction of 1 while wielding the sword
  2. Serpent Rune = +1d6 damage; however, this damage is applied to both the victim and the wielder of the sword
  3. Ice Rune = Protection from Fire; glows in freezing temperatures.
  4. Torch Rune = Light with a 30’ radius
  5. Luck Rune = +1 to Saving Throws
  6. Tree Rune = The magic bonus of the sword can be used as either a combat bonus or an AC bonus
  7. Journey Rune = Dancing Sword
  8. Thorn Rune = The wielder can go into a berserker rage (+1 HD, +1 damage, + 1 to Hit -1 AC penalty)
  9. Hero Rune = Allows the wielder to increase both the number and morale of retainers one shift up on the Charisma table. If the Charisma is already 18, the number of retainers is 10 and the morale is 11 (based on B/X and LL).
  10. Cross = Protection from Evil 10’ radius if wielded by a Lawful (Good)/Christian character
  11. Chi Ro = +1 Bane vs. Chaotic/Evil creatures
  12. - 20. Animal Rune = no extra powers

Table 1.1 Quenching Liquid (d12)

  1. Oil = Flame Tongue; +1 vs. Cold/Ice- based Creatures
  2. Holy Oil = Flame Tongue; + 2 vs. Undead
  3. Holy Water = +1 Bane vs. Chaotic/Evil creatures
  4. Monster (less than 4 HD) Blood = +1 Bane vs. Monster Type
  5. Monster (4+ HD) Blood = +1 for every 4 HD (4-7 = +1; 8-11= +2; 12+ = +3)
  6. Humanoid Blood = +1 Bane vs. Humanoid Type
  7. Dragon Blood = +1 + Bane +1 vs. dragons
  8. Ice/Snow = Bane +1 vs. Fire-based creatures
  9. - 12. Water = no extra powers
For example: With the rolls 10, 7 and 2, the sword in question had normal charcoal, was inscribed with a Journey Rune and was quenched in Holy Oil. Thus it is a +1 Holy Sword of Dancing, +3 vs. Undead. Given this basic background, one could imagine it was forged in order to arm a crusader who was marching against the incursion of a necromancer's army, and could thus bear the name of a crusader saint.

These tables are, of course, only a rough draft and are certainly open to further revisions and additions. Any suggestions?


  1. this is a great start! It seems perfectly usable as is

  2. No suggestions come to mind, yet, but this is a great practical application of the earlier article.