One-shot magic items: Weapons

What was Conan’s magic sword called? What did Grey Mouser’s magic cloak do? Was it Welleran’s armor or shield that was magical?

Oh, yeah, that’s right, most Sword & Sorcery heroes don’t have ANY magic items. You can point to Elric’s Stormbringer, and Bilbo’s Sting, but even magic swords are fairly rare. I’m not saying D&D should emulate literature (in fact I think it really shouldn’t) but it would nice to see more “fire and forget” items. Granted potions and scrolls fill that niche to some extent, along with arrows of slaying and javelins of lightning, but here are some more one-use magic items in case you’d like to give temporary boosts to low-level adventurers, or a more S&S feel to your treasures, and hopefully not all of them are as silly as the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

Glass sword: Forged by the ancients in a process now long-forgotten, glass swords are devastating but fragile weapons. They range from short sword to two-handed sword size, but most are the size and shape of medieval war swords (“hand-and-a-half” or “bastard” swords with long, tapering blades). A glass sword strikes as a +2 weapon and when it hits a foe, there is a 50% chance it will shatter. A shattered glass sword inflicts triple damage and the target must save versus Death Magic or die. (A Constitution related save would work for later editions of D&D) The undead only take this extra damage if the sword has been blessed or dipped in holy water.

Ice dagger: While in its sheath, this appears to be an ordinary dagger, but once drawn, it is obvious that the blade is formed of some kind of super-hard ice. It strikes as a +1 dagger. It slowly melts with use, releasing either poison or holy water (50% chance of either; poison ice daggers are black and holy ice daggers are white). It will last for one full turn (10 combat rounds or 10 minutes) before melting away completely. Poison ice daggers do normal damage and targets must versus Poison or take an additional d12 poison damage. Holy ice daggers inflict an extra d8 damage on undead or demonic foes. An ice dagger can be left in the wound (by twisting the handle after the blade is buried in the target) and in this case will continue to inflict poison or holy water damage as long as it is embedded in the target or until it melts completely. It takes one round to dig out the blade, and this operation inflicts another d4 damage. If used as a thrown weapon, the ice dagger will embed itself on a hit and shatter on a miss.

Fire lance: Not a mythic Fire Lance of the Ancient Hyperzephyrians; this is a spear with a bundle of scrolls just behind the blade. When the command word is spoken, these scrolls burst into sparking flames that act like a Burning Hands spell cast by a fifth level magic user. The arc of flame sprouts from the blade tip and lasts d6 rounds. The weapon can be used as a spear even while flaming thus, and while burning and for d6 rounds afterwards will inflict an extra d6 damage due to the intensely hot blade. After cooling the blade will be somewhat annealed and is -1 to hit, because the point is not longer harder than most other metals.

Black arrow: The black arrow is, as the name suggests, simply a pitch-black arrow of the sort one might fire from a bow. However, it will hit any target, no matter how small, how distant, or how fast it moves, as long as it is within the archer’s normal range with his bow, AC and immunity to nonmagical notwithstanding. It does normal damage. This power is lost after use. d4 black arrows may be found in a quiver of magic arrows.

Obsidian chakram: This appears to be a circle of black volcanic glass, flaked rather expertly. Its edges are unimaginably sharp but like the glass sword this item is very fragile. It may be hurled in a frisbee-like fashion and will cut through any material as well as a sword of sharpness. If it hits a creature it does d10 damage plus Strength bonuses, if any; if the hit scored is a natural 20 or exceeds the attacker’s to hit number by five or more, it severs (roll d6): 1 a hand or forepaw; 2: a foot or back paw; 3: an arm; 4: a leg; 5: the neck; 6: thrower’s choice. Severed body parts ue normal Sword of sharpness/vorpal blade rules. It will break after one use, whether it hits or not. D6 chakrams are usually found.

(Perhaps obviously, the glass sword is lifted from the Ultima V CRPG; the ice dagger from Neal Stephenson’s novel Snow Crash, and the fire lance from an actual Chinese weapon that used gunpowder, and the black arrow perhaps from The Hobbit; I suppose the bosidian chakram is inspired by Oddjob’s hat…)

I’ll post some armor, miscellaneous items, etc. as they occur to me.

Published in: on October 3, 2010 at 6:00 am  Comments (6)  
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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Great stuff, I’m stealin’ it! 🙂

    • Al, I’m honored.

  2. Fun stuff. Expendable items can be a lot of fun but you need to make sure the players know that they are one (or limited) use.

    I also like special purpose items, such as weapons blessed against undead, or a type of undead or even one named undead (“It’s the Duke D’eath! Quick get the blessed spear!”) or a weapon of slaying a named person (“This arrow has you name on it!”).

  3. I stole an idea for a magic item from Final Fantasy 9. Each character in the game has a normal attack, a special attack, and an Overdrive attack they can only use when the enemies wale on them too much. One of the characters, a knight, can only use his special attack when the sorcerer is in your party: the sorcerer imbues the knight’s sword with one of his spells (fire, ice, etc.) and the sword attack deals normal plus elemental damage.

    I created a special type of metal that reacted to magical effects, different from the spell-storing weapons because these items are directly and immediately affected by spells. Cast a fireball on someone holding a starmetal weapon, and the weapon is engulfed in flames, the weapon deals normal and fire damage to enemies as well as a little fire damage to its wielder. Cast a healing spell on that person, the weapon can cure with a successful hit and provides a mild regenerative effect for its wielder.

  4. It funny that as a player you always hated temporary magic items.

    • I hated to part with them, I guess. I doubt I ever turned one down.

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