Should a magic sword be sharp, light, special and / or strong


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

Scarab Sages

Been browsing the katana thread and it got me thinking about some of the magical swords in various books I've read. Laying aside the game mechanics for this discussion what kind of things pop into your head when you hear the term magic sword?

1) A unnaturally sharp blade that slices through normal materials e.g. non-magical metal armour like a hot knife through butter.

2) A weapon that is light and well balanced allowing it to be wielder easier than normal (swinging a claymore around like a rapier).

3) Possessed of some special effect either functional (acts as a focus for magical power making it easier to use) or thematic (declares the person who draws it from the stone to be the rightful king).

4) Stronger than normal materials e.g. (grin) a katana that doesn't blunt or chip when it hits metal armour (whether it can cut through it or not).

5) Some/All of the above?

6) Other?


- It could be serrated in a way that non-magic swords would become too fragile
- it could vibrate to make it cut better
- or a combination similar to a chain-sword just magic
- It could aim for flesh and drink blood
- it could change its mass/inertia during the swing to be easier to handle but hit hard

Scarab Sages

Not really after suggestions of what they can do so much as curious what people think of when they hear magic sword. Do you think of a blade that is magically sharp and strong, one that does various special things like glow blue in the presence of evil or is it just a regular sword that symbolizes something e.g. the sword in the stone (drawing it made Arthur king of england then when it broke he got excalibur that made him victorus in battle, and the scabbard kept him from getting injured).


Depends on where I hear it.
In d20 I just think: its +X. There are so many around they stop being special.
That magic swords in PF have to be +1 before adding bonuses takes away the suspense at low levels.

In other games or in novels (depending on the setting) it might be anything from super sharp and/or light, super durable, has mystical powers. It might not even be a better weapon but it is SPECIAL.

But typical things are sharp, light, durable some have only one, some two or all three.


I tend to think of 2 and 4 as default magical blades. 1 and 3 tend to make me think of higher magical settings.

In a low magic setting, 2 and 4 are powerful enough. Think Game of Thrones and the Valyrian Steel swords, or Lord of the Rings with Glamdring and Anduril.

In a higher magic setting, 1 and 3 come to mind. Lightsabers (not quite fantasy, but similar enough) from Star Wars, Power Swords from Warhammer 40k, the Vorpal Sword from Through the Looking Glass, or Charon's Claw from Forgotten Realms.

Sovereign Court

Bradley Mickle wrote:
or Charon's Claw from Forgotten Realms.

My master's claw is the greatest of all magic weapons and you shall not speak of it so casually!!


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Watch this entire video.

I promise it is worth your time.


In the worlds of Golarion I imagine the magic swords like the power-forged swords from the Wheel of Time. Some are exquisite works of craftsmanship, others are unadorned and build with the single purpose of killing monsters. But without a trained eye it is hard to tell them apart from regular master-crafted weapons.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

have you ever played on a source game where friction is set to a low negative value? i feel like swords just kinda do that towards people's faces.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Senko wrote:

Been browsing the katana thread and it got me thinking about some of the magical swords in various books I've read. Laying aside the game mechanics for this discussion what kind of things pop into your head when you hear the term magic sword?

1) A unnaturally sharp blade that slices through normal materials e.g. non-magical metal armour like a hot knife through butter.

2) A weapon that is light and well balanced allowing it to be wielder easier than normal (swinging a claymore around like a rapier).

3) Possessed of some special effect either functional (acts as a focus for magical power making it easier to use) or thematic (declares the person who draws it from the stone to be the rightful king).

4) Stronger than normal materials e.g. (grin) a katana that doesn't blunt or chip when it hits metal armour (whether it can cut through it or not).

5) Some/All of the above?

6) Other?

I really really don't think that all magic swords should be constrained to ONE specific flavor. Further more my answer is none for the following reason...You want a sword to have more powers than just an increased hit and damage... the system to build that in (and price it appropriately) is already baked into the rules.


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Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:

Watch this entire video.

I promise it is worth your time.

Yep, it was.

@ OP - I'd have to say 5. What's appropriate will depend on the sword itself.


If it's just an enhancement bonus, I tend to think of it as being semi-guided. So, it looks normal, but when you attack with it, it naturally gravitates to the most advantageous place on your target.

Scarab Sages

By default, I've always thought of #1.


Yes.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

1) The sharper blade corresponds to a damage bonus.

2) Being lighter/faster/more responsive corresponds to a bonus to hit.

4) It by default is magical steel, so it IS a special material, and can be even more special.

exactly how much the sword is 'easier to handle' and how much is 'the sword seems to be guiding your swings' is a function of how strong it is.

==Aelryinth

Scarab Sages

LazarX wrote:
Senko wrote:

Been browsing the katana thread and it got me thinking about some of the magical swords in various books I've read. Laying aside the game mechanics for this discussion what kind of things pop into your head when you hear the term magic sword?

1) A unnaturally sharp blade that slices through normal materials e.g. non-magical metal armour like a hot knife through butter.

2) A weapon that is light and well balanced allowing it to be wielder easier than normal (swinging a claymore around like a rapier).

3) Possessed of some special effect either functional (acts as a focus for magical power making it easier to use) or thematic (declares the person who draws it from the stone to be the rightful king).

4) Stronger than normal materials e.g. (grin) a katana that doesn't blunt or chip when it hits metal armour (whether it can cut through it or not).

5) Some/All of the above?

6) Other?

I really really don't think that all magic swords should be constrained to ONE specific flavor. Further more my answer is none for the following reason...You want a sword to have more powers than just an increased hit and damage... the system to build that in (and price it appropriately) is already baked into the rules.

No I want to know what people think of when they hear magical sword. Do you think of the sword in the stone no real magical powers beyond only the rightful king can draw it or do you think of something like the blade from the night assassin (think I got that name wrong) trilogy that in the hands of a normal person is just a good sword but in the hands of a mage can amplify their power a thousand fold.

Based on your answer you'd pick 6 in that you don't have a single type of magic blade they vary.

I said in my first post leaving the mechanics aside this isn't a rules debate its a discussion about the flavour/fluff of magical weapons and what they mean to people. Like that link above (I will watch the rest of that hour long documentary when I have time) which would do very well for "magic" swords forged by celestial steel or secret techniques. Strong, light, a mystical weapon but utterly unpossessing of any actual magic powers.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Senko wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Senko wrote:

Been browsing the katana thread and it got me thinking about some of the magical swords in various books I've read. Laying aside the game mechanics for this discussion what kind of things pop into your head when you hear the term magic sword?

1) A unnaturally sharp blade that slices through normal materials e.g. non-magical metal armour like a hot knife through butter.

2) A weapon that is light and well balanced allowing it to be wielder easier than normal (swinging a claymore around like a rapier).

3) Possessed of some special effect either functional (acts as a focus for magical power making it easier to use) or thematic (declares the person who draws it from the stone to be the rightful king).

4) Stronger than normal materials e.g. (grin) a katana that doesn't blunt or chip when it hits metal armour (whether it can cut through it or not).

5) Some/All of the above?

6) Other?

I really really don't think that all magic swords should be constrained to ONE specific flavor. Further more my answer is none for the following reason...You want a sword to have more powers than just an increased hit and damage... the system to build that in (and price it appropriately) is already baked into the rules.

No I want to know what people think of when they hear magical sword. Do you think of the sword in the stone no real magical powers beyond only the rightful king can draw it or do you think of something like the blade from the night assassin (think I got that name wrong) trilogy that in the hands of a normal person is just a good sword but in the hands of a mage can amplify their power a thousand fold.

Based on your answer you'd pick 6 in that you don't have a single type of magic blade they vary.

I said in my first post leaving the mechanics aside this isn't a rules debate its a discussion about the flavour/fluff of magical weapons and what they mean to people. Like that link above (I will watch the rest of that hour long documentary when I...

Number 6 IS the proper way, because stories of magical swords are all different, all drawn from different authorial styles. Durendal, Excalibur, Stormbringer, The Misenchanted Sword, Grayswandir, Changeling, none of these blades really have anything in common, other than the fact that they are creations of magic. (or ultratech in Changeling's case) You'll see that they are all described radically differently and wielded differently. (Changeling in particular, is seldom ever actually stuck into anyone.)

In Fred Saberhagen's Sword novels, each of his Twelve Blades is handled differently, Stonecutter, Townsaver, Dragonslicer, Woundhealer, Shieldbreaker, Farslayer, and Soulcutter, while they appear identical, the experience of wielding each blade is radically different, and some, like Woundhealer and Soulcutter, and Farslayer, aren't even wielded in the conventional sense.

If you're looking for a universal standard, or even a majority one on how a magical sword is described, handled,, or even wielded, you're seriously barking up the wrong tree.

If you just say magic sword... I hear nothing because by itself it's a term that gaming has generisized to a blank canvas. However if you put in a description of how the sword bonds to it's wielder, or of an effect that simply drawing the blade has.... or simply what the recognition of the runes carved on the blade, you've gone from "magical sword" to individual legendary item of renown.

Scarab Sages

Senko wrote:


No I want to know what people think of when they hear magical sword.

Probably a sword that, to the mundane senses, appears to be a normal (if perhaps exquisitely-crafted) sword, but performs beyond anything you could possibly expect from a normal sword. Where a normal kitchen knife might easily chop an avocado in half until getting stuck in the pit, a +5 Kitchen Knife could slice straight through the avocado, pit and all, and the cutting board beneath it, and the kitchen counter beneath that.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:
Senko wrote:


No I want to know what people think of when they hear magical sword.
Probably a sword that, to the mundane senses, appears to be a normal (if perhaps exquisitely-crafted) sword, but performs beyond anything you could possibly expect from a normal sword. Where a normal kitchen knife might easily chop an avocado in half until getting stuck in the pit, a +5 Kitchen Knife could slice straight through the avocado, pit and all, and the cutting board beneath it, and the kitchen counter beneath that.

Or if it's like Changeling even staring at the blade might give you the creepy feeling as you can't seem to lock your eyes on it's edges.

Or maybe another sword will start swinging itself as soon as you draw it from the scabbard, essentially wielding YOU as it starts chopping up your friends.

So it all depends, it depends on the books you read, or even how your GM runs your campaign. If magic swords are so common, so generic, it may feel no different than wielding a masterwork blade.

Scarab Sages

"Whoooaaaa, check it out! The Sword of Heroes! Said to be so sharp you can cut yourself just by looking at- OW!"

Shadow Lodge

Look up the description of the sword "BAR" and the description of the sword "Flarecore" from the Brian Daley "Coramonde" novels. Two powerful swords one nondescript, the other clearly magical (blade being heavily rune marked) looking.

Edit: there was third sword called Dirge as well.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

When i think of magic swords, my mind always drifts back to Saberhagen's twelve Swords. After that, Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn.

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