The Lamest Magic Swords of All Time

Excalibur. Narsil. Stormbringer. Shieldbreaker. The Vorpal Sword. Lauralee. These are mighty swords of power and legend, of myth and song, blades that shall be remembered until the end of time.

The following blades, however, are probably best forgotten.

Not every sword can be an artifact of immense power. Not every sword is even a boring "long sword +1." And not every sword can be cursed. Some swords, despite their enchantment and pomp and circumstance, are merely, "meh."

These are those swords.

Sword of Itching

The grey, rough blade of this sword chips and splinters easily. A fine powder - like iron filings - flakes off it almost constantly. When it's first found in its scabbard, if it hasn't been used in awhile it's probably even covered with a layer of rust and corrosion.

This irritating, flaky oxidized iron powder is transferred to anyone wounded by the blade, and will remain in the victim's body if they survive being struck by the weapon. Any wound caused by this blade will always itch terribly, even after it is healed. Salves and ointments may provide temporary or partial relief, but can never completely remove the irritation. A remove curse spell only has a 50% of removing this effect, and if the spell fails no remove curse can ever be used against this itching again.

Sword of Temperance

This sword was created by a god who teaches his followers not to act in anger. Striking a foe aggressively or with the intention to injure is the greatest crime of this religion.

The Sword of Temperance is a beautifully-crafted, stark white blade with an ivory hilt carved in the shape of doves. The scabbard is decorated with runes and writings meaning "Peace" and "Serenity" in many languages.

If this sword is ever used against a living, intelligent or magically animated creature in anger or aggression or with any intent to cause injury, it heals hit points instead of inflicting damage. Unfortunately, it can't really be used primarily as a healing device because if it used against an ally peacefully with the intention to help him, it will inflict damage as a normal sword.

You may be able to hurt someone with it by accident under certain circumstances.

Fabulous Bastard Sword

This incredible hand-and-a-half sword is forged of the finest craftsmanship, with exquisite markings and bedecked with ridiculously expensive jewels. The scabbard alone costs a king's ransom (or at least the ransom of a lesser duke). It marks its wielder as a truly opulent warrior who cares not only about battlefield prowess but about style and the importance of impressing and dazzling one's foes.

When wielded in battle, the Fabulous Bastard Sword magically plays  stirring, epic music with a pulse-pounding beat. It sparkles like a disco ball and trails ribbons of glitter and pulsing prismatic rainbows when swung. When it collides with another blade, shield or armour, it sets off explosions of lightning and cannon-like thunder. It otherwise has no game effects.

Sword of Aphid Friendship

Known for the aesthetic as well as martial arts, the elves make fabulous and deadly swords that are coveted by warriors across the land. This is not one of them.

This short sword is well made and features classic elf motifs of curved lines and nature-and-vegetation designs, though its magical benefits are not immediately apparent.

The bearer of this weapon gains a +2 bonus to reaction rolls against aphids. Note that the blade does not confer the ability to speak to insects.

Thief of Manhood

This is a nasty-looking black blade, wickedly curved like a scimitar or khopesh. It is also barbed and serrated and looks like it could mess you up royally. It is generally shunned by most intelligent beings, and only the most depraved or vile monsters would consider wielding it.

On a critical hit against a foe with a natural male anatomy, roll d100 and consult the chart below:

01-49 - The victim loses his right testicle
50-98 - The victim loses his left testicle
99-00 - The victim loses both testicles

The wielder of the Thief of Manhood immediately grows extra testicles equal to the number removed from its victim.

My first book Ten Thousand Days actually features a sword or two (but more importantly a screwdriver) and is now available at Amazon and many other booksellers worldwide. I'm also in the middle of crowdfunding a new book at Head over there to check it out.


  1. How is it writing RPG stuff and then writing a novel? My wife bugged me last week about doing something "more productive" with my writing time. I think she meant more profitable, but she was also deliberately cutting on our beloved hobby (hey, she gets stressed out with three little kids at home). So, just asking for perspective. Thanks!

  2. I've never written RPG stuff to be published so I can't speak to those specific differences, but I can say the biggest difference is that RPGs are communal while novels are very solitary, both in writing and in consumption.

    With RPGs, you usually write and design them with other people, playtest with other people, get other people to do maps and artwork, etc. With a novel, while you may have a writing group or an editor, the bulk of the work is done by yourself and in your head. It's experienced by the audience the same way: an RPG is played by a group in a social setting, and expected to be tweaked or modified and enjoyed in different ways. With a novel, while you may have a book club, the majority of the reading will be done alone by a single person.

    That mindset is a very important difference between the two artforms. RPGs are something you tinker with, play with, pass around and share. Novels are very solitary and require a lot of time sitting by yourself in your head. I'm not saying one is better or worse, it just depends on how you like to work. At least that's how I've experienced it.

    Now, if you're talking more about the business side, I don't know how much money you make on self-published RPG supplements, but with novels, unless you write the next "Ready Player One" or "The Martian," you're not going to make any money on your first book. Probably not your second or third, either. It takes a lot of time, marketing and persistence to build up a following and a market. If you have a following from your RPG work that might give you a small boost, but it will still be a long uphill struggle.

    There are what, tens of thousands of self-published books on RPGDriveThru? There are millions of self-published books on Amazon. It's very, very hard to be heard through the noise. So don't get into it for the money, is what I'm saying.

    Not to say you can't make money off of it. I haven't but I know people who have. It just takes time and a lot of work (and maybe a bit of luck). It all depends on why you want to get into it and what you expect to get out of it.


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