MacGuffins Work: Blade Abilities

Yes, I’m continuing to work on the new MacGuffins product about blades… and it’s led me to some interesting places. Still trying to wrap up a couple of things so I can actually get back to it in fact – but every now and then I steal a few minutes (or a page or two in my notebook) and get some thoughts down.

Lion holding swordThis is one of those strange thoughts.

We all know a blade or two from history, myth, or popular media that has incredible powers or abilities. Bilbo’s sword “Sting” could sense orcs or goblins and glow blue in their presence. And Elric’s sword “Stormbringer” drains the souls of any victim it slays. But magic shouldn’t be the go-to option for every weapon. Why not explore some other ideas like:

  • Edge
  • Point
  • Balance
  • Flexibility
  • Strength
  • Grip
  • Utility
  • Artistry

Let’s look at a few of these in a non-magical sense first and then see how we can flip them on their heads with a magical approach.

Non-Magical

If I have a sword known for its Strength, it’s quite possible that it can hack through even the strongest armor and not break. Perhaps an epic sword of hardness has been passed from hero to hero and has never given up on its owner.

Or if I have a sword known for its flexibility, I might imagine something like the Green Dragon Sword from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – perhaps the blade can bend and flex beyond what is normal for its composition. That could be useful as a trick sword – perhaps used in a magic trick where it appears that someone has killed a victim when it really slipped nimbly inside their armor and left them barely scratched. (The fantasy/medieval/magical type of insurance fraud?)

Artistry is pretty easy to imagine as well. A sword used more for decoration or award than combat might be quite ornately decorated and used as a conversation piece or with ceremonial armor.

None of these is too far fetched. If you look at sword history, there are always those master blacksmiths with carefully protected secrets on how to make the best blade possible.

Magical

Lightsaber,_silver_hilt,_blue_bladeBut if you add magic to the mix, this gets interesting as well.

For instance, a dagger with a magical grip might be impossible for its wielder to drop. I could see a thief using such a dagger, knowing that they would never lose it in combat or during a daring escape.

Or a sword with a magical edge could conceivably never dull and be able to slice through anything. Such a sword would be worth several times its weight in gold to any swordsman. It would make even the least skilled fighter a dangerous foe in combat.

Then there’s the balance factor. I could see a juggler or acrobat with a set of knives so perfectly balanced that they could be thrown to deflect off multiple surfaces to hit their intended target or be weighted so perfectly that they always fly true, no matter the conditions.

There have been hundreds of special blades, if not thousands, in myth and fiction… I think it’s time we had a few more creative ones at our game tables as well. 🙂

Using these Ideas

Though I think that GMs should run with these ideas freely, I also think that players can get a great deal out of this approach. Work with your GM and decide what these abilities might bring to your PC’s blade. Perhaps your minor, but creative ability can be negotiated into a small bonus to damage or attack? Or perhaps your weapon just gains a trick quality that you can bring into battle and use every now and then. That’s up to you and your GM to decide – but I think we should encourage such creativity, don’t you? 🙂

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