Blades with Brains

You can generate a sword by clicking the button below, built using Spwack's latest (disclaimer: at time of publication) automated generator:

The topic of intelligent swords/ magical weapons emerged on the NSR Cauldron discord server, prompting me to write a blogpost of Frank Menzer’s rules from his D&D Expert Set.

Yes! I used the same Elmore pic in the AotL post! This is the GOOD post, not the rubbish one on the other blog...

About halfway through my head fell off through boredom, prompting THIS post. But if you REALLY want to think about magic swords, have a look at contributor-to-the-blog Semiurge's D20 x 5 Illustrious Intelligent Swords

The sword has been waiting for you. Only you are worthy enough to lift it—or, at least, were the closest person at the time of its re-discovery. You know it's magical because…
  1. It glows ever so faintly the first time you grasp it, and thereafter for a few seconds each time it is drawn.
  2. The highly-polished blade is absolutely covered with intricate micro-runes, beyond the capability of ordinary human craftsmanship.
  3. An angelic note reverberates each time it is drawn.
  4. The hilt maintains an unnatural warmth irrespective of the ambient temperature
  5. Its colour is impermanent, cycling through a range of iridescent hues with a regular rhythm.
  6. No light can escape from the blade’s surface: it is so black that only its outline is discernible. Somehow the blade has the appearance of an impossibly deep pool.
The sword’s power is not revealed until the very first combat situation the new wielder encounters, whereupon you realise…
  1. Even when ambushed you always strike first in melee.
  2. The blade ignores armour: it passes through it as though it were illusory, leaving no mark but wounding flesh beneath.
  3. Undead, demonic, fey or otherwise supernatural beings are terrified of it: those of comparable strength to you flee from it in fright, those weaker cower and beg for mercy, those of greater strength fight with uncertainty and apprehension.
  4. Wielding the blade somehow makes you faster: you strike twice as often in combat.
  5. Once per encounter, an enemy strike that would otherwise penetrate your defences is inexplicably parried by your magical blade.
  6. Once drawn, the weapon automatically kills the first mundane creature it strikes. If no mundane creatures are present, it grievously wounds the first magical or supernatural creature it strikes.
This magical power manifests in all subsequent encounters, but you've already started to notice an unusual affliction overcoming you...
  1. The ghosts of those you've slain with the sword appear behind you in your reflection. They are silent.
  2. Scarring on the palm of your sword hand would suggest it had been burnt by the hilt... yet this (increasingly distracting) pain is only soothed when it is wrapped around that sword's grip.
  3. Unless the weapon is marked by the blood of your enemies, you are unable to sheath it. You may leave it in plain view, but you may not tether it to your person in some other way nor may you not cover it.
  4. Your paranoia is increasing: you start to notice the covetous glances your allies and co-conspirators cast at your weapon when they think you're not looking....
  5. 1-6 hours after drawing blood the blade begins to thirst for more. It is a sound only you can hear, and the longer its thirst is left unquenched, the louder that sound grows.
  6. You can hear the thoughts of others: not all the time, and not through any conscious effort... but usually during a social interaction, and only when they are thinking bad things about you.
You know you might regret this, but you just can't seem to let it go... in addition to its combat efficacy, you're finding your new sword very useful...

  1. It can detect gold/precious stones/magic (delete as applicable)— either by glowing or vibrating when within 100 feet  of such items, the glow/vibration intensifying with proximity.
  2. The sword changes shape to that of a stiletto, useful for concealment purposes.
  3. If the wielder concentrates, the blade can be used to attract nearby wild animals, as though they are entranced.
  4.  The sword can fly.
  5. Once per day, the sword can be used to blur the line between idiomatic language and consensus reality. Thus, with an action, the user may cause someone to "cut to the chase", "live by the sword, die by the sword", "fall on their sword", be "cut down in their prime" etc.
  6. Drawing the sword during a speech makes the bearer twice as compelling/attractive or otherwise charismatic.


In your dreams the sword begins to speak to you. You learn of the source of its intelligence...

  1. The makers of the weapon: once united in singular purpose (they gave their lives so that their creation would fulfil its purpose), time has rendered their disparate personalities in stark relief to one another. They quarrel and squabble and vie for power, each with a different vision of how their goal should be accomplished.
  2. The first wielder of the weapon, the original hero for whom the blade was forged. They died before the ultimate purpose was fulfilled, now they are bound to the weapon for eternity.
  3. Souls of those it slays: their disparate personalities now united in singular purpose, only occasionally does a faint glimmer of a slain-one's soul make its individuality apparent. Mostly they speak in an eerie, flat chorus, somewhat like the sound of falling water
  4. The previous wielder of the weapon... a long line of souls has fallen with this sword in their hands, not only causing them to be imprisoned in the blade, but also freeing the soul of the previous owner. This prevents them from providing balanced assessment of risk to the current wielder, or obvious reasons.
  5. A minor god, angel or demon is bound to the blade. Once the recipient of adulation, it only partially resents its internment, recognising that the great deeds it might yet accomplish with the wielder could once again inspire mortals to worship it.
  6. An abstract noun: the sword is the literal embodiment of a concept like "truth", "justice", "piety" or something weirder like "torpidity". 


Once the sword has your confidence, it reveals its true purpose to you... already you feel galvanised by the sense that (finally) your life has meaning...

  1. Slay an ancient evil! It may have been a while since that evil presented a genuine threat, and its probably been dormant for a long time. Go wake it up so you can kill it: this weapon is super-effective!
  2. Unite the divided kingdom! Only the wielder of this sword may claim the throne... though it is a throne current powers refuse to recognise. The common folk may feel differently...
  3. Eradicate all Ogres: these man-eating giants have been eating men (and people of other genders) for too long. Slay them!
  4. Establish/revive an Order of Knights: the wielder is now recognised as the leader of a chivalric order, regardless of their prior experience and social station. they will accumulate a retinue of knights errant, now sworn to uphold the code of that order (whatever that is)
  5. Smite a religious heresy! Of course, yesterday's iconoclasts are today's establishment... and the heretics are now the ruling church or temple...
  6. Destroy All Sorcerers: made at a time when the first magic users emerged, bringing chaos in their wake, this sword was made to strike them all down. And it did! Except for one... who went on to sire all the magic-users of today. Killing a mage binds their soul to you and grants you their power. Go forth and slay! (You may leave your party's wizard for last)


  1. I love the idea of the angelic note sounding when the blade is drawn, and the susurrus of the dead being like the sound of falling water is great image!

    1. Thanks! to return a compliment, I love your use of the word susurrus!

  2. I like how between the different powers and afflictions, and also the intelligence and goals, it's all very immediately usable. It has utility that goes beyond just hit stuff better, it can add new goals or complications that keep things moving forward, and they're all flavorful.


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