Magic Armour and Shields

Sometimes magic armour and shields go beyond a simple bonus to armour class. Presented here are a few examples to spur the imagination.

Plate Mail of Æthereality (CFPR)

+5 plate mail that will cause the wearer and everything non-living thing he or she is wearing or carrying to become æthereal when the command word is spoken. Every time the wearer becomes æthereal, a charge is used. The plate mail holds 20 charges and every 5 uses reduces the AC bonus by 1. Therefore, five uses of a fully charged plate mail of ætherealiality reduces the AC bonus to +4, but note the AC bonus is always at least +1, even if all charges are expended. This magical armour cannot be recharged by any means.

Large Shield +1, Missile Deflector (CDFPR)

This shield grants +1 to AC against melee weapons but a +4 AC bonus vs missiles or hurled weapons. The shield also grants a 20% magic resistance against magic missiles provided, of course, the magic missile attack originates from in front of the wielder of the shield.

Magic Swords

All magic swords receive their bonus in both increased chances to hit and increased damage. A longsword +1 would therefore be 5% more likely to hit its target (+1 on all “to hit” rolls) and cause an additional 1 point of damage (+1 to damage rolled) to every successful attack. The section below details magical swords that go beyond simple bonuses applying to hit probabilities and damage inflicted. Last of all, this section also deals with the rarest of magic weapons: intelligent swords. The GM is free, of course, to apply the principles of unusual or intelligent swords to any weapon he or she chooses.

Some basic points concerning magical swords: most magical bladed weapons shed light when drawn, even though this property may not always be desirable. There are exceptions to the rule as noted in the individual descriptions but unless otherwise stated, the sword will glow. All holy swords are lawful good in alignment.

Some weapons, including some of these swords, do double or even triple damage when fighting certain types of opponents. The GM must remember to double the damage from the attack before adding the damage bonus. Example: A long sword striking a large opponent in combat deals 1d12 damage. If the longsword was a +3 weapon and attacking a creature to which it magically dealt double damage, the GM would determine damage using the following formula: (1d12 × 2)+3—and NOT (1d12+3) × 2.

Bleeding Sword (AFPRT)

A feared weapon, the bleeding sword is a +1 blade with a terrible power. Any damage caused by this weapon is progressive for up to 10 melee rounds on a 1 for 1 basis. An attack causing 5 points of damage, for instance, will cause an additional 5 points of damage the next combat round and each following round; up to 50 damage points total. Hit point damage can be halted by the victim leaving combat and binding his or her wounds. All hits from this blade do damage the same way. Wounds caused by this magic sword can only be healed with rest and time; no curative magic of any type will be effective. Even creatures capable of regenerating cannot heal themselves thus, whether this a natural ability (trolls) or magical ability (ring of regeneration).

Dancing Sword (AFPRT)

An unusual weapon. During the first round the dancing sword is used in combat it performs as a +1 blade. Each subsequent round the sword adds an additional +1 bonus up to the maximum of +4 in the fourth round. In round 5 the process begins again, and at this point the blade can "dance".

A dancing sword can then be loosed from the wielder’s hand to fight on its own for 4 rounds, up to 30 ft away. The dancing sword will fight as if still being held by the owner and gains the successive bonuses to its attack and damage each round. When the dancing sword cycles from +4 back to +1 it will return to its owner’s hand, where it must be wielded for 4 rounds before being released to dance again.

If the owner declines to grasp the sword when it returns to him or her, or if he or she moves more than 30 ft away from the dancing sword, the weapon will fall inanimate to the ground. The sword cannot be physically attacked by its opponent while dancing, though it is subject to magical attacks and effects (examples: fireball, transmute metal to wood). While the sword is dancing, the wielder can perform any other action he or she wishes, including fighting with another weapon.

Defender (AFPRT)

This sword is +4, but the wielder of this sword has the option each round of adding all or part of the bonus to his or her AC. Thus, a fighter could increase his or her current AC of 2 (plate mail with shield) to AC 0 by deducting 2 points from the sword’s +4 bonus and making the defender +2 to hit for that round.

Dragonbane (AFPRT)

The dragonbane sword is +2 against most opponents, +4 vs all dragons and against one specific type of dragon (determined randomly) deals triple damage. If one of these swords should be determined to be intelligent (see below), it will in no way allow the player to slay a dragon of the same alignment. A chart is included to assist the GM with selecting a dragon type for triple damage. Since a campaign may include other types of dragons, the GM may wish to modify this list.

d10 Result d10 Result
01 black 06 gold
02 blue 07 green
03 brass 08 red
04 bronze 09 silver
05 copper 10 white

Flaming Blade (AFPRT)

The blade of this weapon bursts into flame when its command word is spoken, giving illumination as a torch. The sword does not otherwise glow as most other magic swords do. The flame tongue’s fiery blade can easily ignite paper, oil, kindling, webs, or dry wood.

The sword is normally +1, but gives a +2 as a trollbane does, a +3 bonus against creatures that are inflammable, bird-like or have a special attack involving cold, and a +4 against undead. These bonuses do not stack; only the highest bonus should be counted. (Thus, if attacking a skeletal roc, the sword is +4 not +7.)

Frost Brand (AFPRT)

The frost brand is normally +3, granting a +6 bonus against any creature using fire as its attack (e.g. red dragons) or dwelling in fire such as fire elementals. This weapon grants special defence against fire; treat the wielder as if he or she were wearing a ring of fire resistance. The cold based magic of the blade also has a 50% chance of extinguishing fire for a 10 ft radius, including magical fires such as a wall of fire but not fire based attacks such as hell hound breath attacks or fireballs. Note: this blade does not shed light when drawn unless the ambient temperature is below freezing.

Giantbane (AFPRT)

This sword will be +2 when fighting most foes. Against giant-like humanoids such as ettin or ogres, the giant slayer functions as a +3 blade. Against true giants such as hill giants or storm giants, the sword also does double damage.

Holy Sword (P)

In the hands of anyone but a paladin, this is a + 2 weapon in every way, with no additional features. In the hands of a paladin the true power of this holy weapon is revealed, acting as +5. The holy sword will also inflict +10 damage against all chaotic evil opponents, dispel magic with a 5 ft radius as if the paladin were casting the spell as a magic user equal to his or her own experience level, and create 50% magic resistance in a 5 ft radius on command. Note the +10 damage bonus is instead of, not in addition to, the sword’s natural +5 damage.

Keenblade (AFPRT)

This is a +1 blade regarding to hit and damage bonuses, but the keenblade is a +3 weapon for purposes of determining who or what it can hit. When wielded in combat and a high to hit roll is thrown, this powerful blade will sever a random extremity or appendage, including the neck/head. When used in combat, the GM should assign a value to each extremity and dice the result randomly. A lizard man, for example, would have six extremities and a successful hit to sever could be resolved by assigning a value of 1 to the neck, 2 to the left arm, 3 to the right arm, 4 to the left leg, 5 to the right leg, and 6 to the tail; then rolling 1d6 and observing the result.

When using the keenblade in combat, the chances of severing some appendage are as follows:

Opponent is: Natural (unadjusted) "to hit" roll
Man-sized or smaller 18-20
Large 19-20
Solid metal or solid stone 20

The keenblade is an exception to the glowing magic sword rule. The wielder of the sword can decide whether the blade will shed no light at all, dim light in a 5 ft radius circle, light in a 15 ft circle, or a bright light as a light spell with a 30 ft radius.

Luck Blade (AFPRT)

In addition to +1 to AC and damage, the luck blade also grants its wielder +1 to all saving throws. Additionally, the luck blade grants 1d4+1 wishes, though the blade does nothing to communicate the number of wishes it holds to its owner.

Magebane (AFPRT)

This weapon will always function as at least a +1 sword. When fighting against magic users, spell-casting monsters, monsters with spell-like abilities, gated or extra-planar creatures, conjured monsters, or summoned monsters, the sword will be +2 to hit and damage. Note that a non-magical creature which is granted spell casting powers by artificial means, a human fighter wearing a ring of spell storing for example, does not qualify as magic-using.

Nine Lives Stealer (AFPRT)

This weapon is +2. On a “to hit” roll of natural 20 the nine lives stealer will draw the life force from its target, slaying it instantly. This ability can be used 9 times before it is lost forever, though the sword will retain its +2 bonus thereafter. The victim is allowed a saving throw vs magic and, if successful, there is no effect and the sword does not expend a charge.

Trollbane (AFPRT)

This weapon is normally +1, but gives a +3 bonus against creatures that regenerate hit points, including those that do so by magical means such as a ring of regeneration.

Vampire Blade (AFPRT)

This +2 sword allows the wielder to drain life force from the target. When a natural 20 is rolled the target loses a level of experience along with the appropriate hit die and abilities, as if he or she had been struck by an undead creature such as a wraith. The absorbed hit points will cure any damage the wielder of the sword has sustained, up to his or her normal hit point total.

Vorpal Blade (AFPRT)

An even deadlier variant of the keenblade, the vorpal blade is a +3 weapon and on a high attack roll will always decapitate its target. (Not all opponents have heads, nor is every opponent necessarily slain by decapitation.) To determine the chance of this, consult the table below.

Opponent is: Natural (unadjusted) “to hit” roll
Man-sized or smaller 17-20
Large 18-20
Solid metal or solid stone 19-20

Werebane (AFPRT)

This weapon is normally +1, but gives a +2 bonus against: were-creatures, any creature capable of assuming another creature’s form (such as druids or vampires), or a creature which has been polymorphed or shape changed.

Wyrmbane (AFPRT)

The sword is normally +1, but gives a +4 against any reptile including but not limited to: dinosaurs, dragons, hydras, lizards, lizard men, snakes, and wyverns.

Unusual Swords

OSRIC defines an “unusual” sword as one which is both self- aware and intelligent. Unusual swords manifest their intelligence in a variety of ways, but they all share the following basic traits: intelligence of 13-18, the ability to communicate, an alignment, a variety of powers, perhaps a special purpose, and an ego. This section will allow the GM to create unusual swords for use in his or her campaign.

At first glance, a perusal of the various abilities special swords may possess may make them seem like unbalancing items. Worry not. A properly-played intelligent sword can be a mixed blessing and may often turn out to be far more trouble than it is worth.

Sword Intelligence and Capabilities

d% INT Capabilities Communication
01-75 None None None
76-83 13 1 minor power Low Empathy
84-89 14 2 minor powers High Empathy
90-94 15 2 minor powers Speech
95-97 16 3 minor powers Speech
98-99 17 3 minor powers Speech
00 18 3 minor powers
and 1 major power

Low Empathy: Wielder will feel heat, cold, or tingling from sword hilt and an urge to act when ability functions.

High Empathy: Wielder will feel emotional emanations from the sword.

Speech: Sword will speak its alignment tongue plus 1 or more additional languages determined according to the table below

Telepathy: The sword can communicate telepathically with its owner in any language, over any distance, and may broadcast telepathic communication to all creatures within 30 ft, in any language of its choice. The sword understands all spoken languages and can read non-magical text.

Sword Alignment

Intelligent swords will always have an alignment. Use the table below to generate this randomly, if needed. Holy swords are always lawful good.

d% Alignment
01-05 Chaotic Good
06-15 Chaotic Neutral
16-20 Chaotic Evil
21-25 Neutral Evil
26-30 Lawful Evil
31-55 Lawful Good
56-60 Lawful Neutral
61-80 True Neutral
81-00 Neutral Good

Any neutral sword will permit itself to be wielded by a character matching the non-neutral part of sword’s alignment (so a Chaotic Good or Lawful Good character could wield a Neutral Good sword, for instance). True Neutral swords will allow themselves to be wielded by any character with "Neutral" in their alignment (so CN, LN, NG, or NE as well as TN).

Note: Except for neutral-aligned as swords noted above, any character attempting to hold, draw or use an unusual sword of differing alignment will incur damage equal to the sword’s ego (see table, below).

Sword Minor Powers

Minor Powers only function when the weapon is drawn and the owner is concentrating on the desired power. A sword can only perform one special ability at a time, and the sword cannot fight and perform an ability. If the same ability is rolled more than once, double or triple the range of ability as appropriate.

d% Minor Power
01-11 detect evil/good within 10 ft radius
12-22 detect gold or silver within 20 ft radius
23-33 detect shifting rooms or walls within 10 ft radius
34-44 detect sloping passages within 10 ft radius
45-55 detect traps 10 ft within radius
56-66 detect type and number of gems within 5 ft radius
67-77 detect magic within 10 ft radius
78-82 detect secret doors within 5 ft radius
83-87 see invisible within 10 ft radius
88-92 locate object with 120 ft range
93-98 roll twice on this table, ignoring results 93-100
99-00 roll once on major power table instead

Sword Major Powers

To use a sword’s major power, the weapon must be drawn and the owner concentrating on the desired effect. Saving throws for major powers are permitted as applicable. If the same power is rolled more than once, double or triple the range of ability as appropriate.

d% Power
01-07 charm person on contact, thrice per day
08-15 clairaudience 30 ft range for 1 round, thrice per day
16-22 clairvoyance 30 ft range for 1 round, thrice per day
23-28 determine direction and depth, thrice per day
29-34 ESP 30 ft range for 1 round, thrice per day
35-41 flying for 1 hour per day, 120 ft move
42-47 heal, once per day
48-54 illusion (as per the wand of illusions), twice per day
55-61 levitate up to 600 lbs for 1 turn, thrice per day
62-67 strength as the spell, once per day (wielder only)
68-75 telekinesis up to 250 lbs for 1 round, once per day
76-81 telepathy 60 ft range, twice per day
82-88 teleport as the spell, 600 lbs max, once per day
89-94 x-ray vision 40 ft range for 1 turn, twice per day
95-97 roll twice, ignoring this result
98-99 player may choose 1 power
00 roll on special purpose table

Special Purpose Swords

The purpose of a sword must always suit its alignment. Killing must be restricted to evil if the sword is of good alignment (example: a good aligned sword which rolls a result of “21-30 slay clerics or druids” on the following table will only seek to kill evil clerics). Good swords dedicated to slaying monsters will always slay neutral or evil monsters, while evil swords dedicated to slaying monsters will always slay neutral or good monsters.

Special Purpose

d% Purpose
01-10 defeat good or evil
11-20 defeat law or chaos
21-30 slay clerics or druids
31-40 slay diametrically opposed alignment*
41-50 slay fighters, paladins or rangers
51-60 slay magic users or illusionists
61-90 slay non-human monsters
91-00 slay thieves or assassins

*The True Neutral version of this sword would seek to promote and maintain balance by defeating beings of extreme alignments

Special Power

The special power generated by this table will only work to forward pursuit of the sword’s special purpose. The listed power manifests itself on a hit with the weapon unless the target makes a saving throw vs magic.

d% Power
01-10 blindness for 2d6 rounds
11-15 cause disease as the spell (evil aligned swords only)
16-25 confusion for 2d6 rounds
26-30 disintegrate
31-35 dispel magic (single-target)
36-55 fear for 1d4 rounds
56-65 insanity for 1d4 rounds
66-80 paralysis for 1d4 rounds
81 petrifaction
82-90 silence for 1d4 rounds
91-00 slow for 2d6 rounds

Non-Alignment Languages Spoken by Sword

Languages should be carefully selected by GM to reflect the purpose of the sword and its abilities.

d% No of Languages d% No of Languages
01-40 1 86-95 4
41-70 2 96-99 5
71-85 3 00 6

Sword Ego

This is the final step in the creation of an intelligent sword. Each attribute the sword possesses is worth ego points, which are totalled to provide an ego rating for the weapon. The ego and intelligence of a weapon are a combination of factors which can lead to the player and his or her unique weapon struggling for dominance (detailed below). When using chart below, round ½ points upward.

Attribute Ego Points
Each + of Sword* 1
Each Language Spoken ½
Each Major Power** 2
Each Minor Power** 1
Special Purpose 6
Telepathic Ability 2

* A +1 sword has 1 ego point but if it has a second, higher bonus, those points are added. Example: a trollbane would have 1 ego point for its basic bonus, plus 3 more for its higher bonus vs regenerating creatures for a total of 4 ego points. Swords with additional powers but no higher bonuses, such as a Nine Lives Stealer, double their bonuses for determining ego. The Nine Lives Stealer, to return to that example, would have 4 ego points.

** For double abilities, double ego points. If triple ability, triple the ego points.

A Battle of the Wills: Swords vs Characters

Each unusual sword has a personality score, determined by adding its intelligence score to its ego points. These swords will be very conscientious in following their alignment and if the sword owner is not, a personality conflict arises. If the sword has a substantial ego, 19 or higher, the weapon will consider itself superior to its wielder and if he or she does not agree with the sword’s decisions a personality conflict will arise.

A player character’s personality is determined by the formula: Character Level + Intelligence + Charisma = Personality Score. This score will be modified by damage he or she has taken, reducing Personality Score by 1 point for each group of hp equivalent to the character average hp per level.

For example, Paula the Paladin is 8th level with a constitution score of 15 (+1 hp bonus per die) and 54 total hp. Average hp per level are 54 รท 8 = 6.75 and results are rounded off to 7. For every 7 hp of damage Paula sustains in combat, her personality level is reduced by 1.

Whenever personality conflict occurs, the sword will struggle with the player for dominance. The more often the conflict, the greater the struggle and the more unreasonable the demands the sword will make before being mollified.

Such a sword might insist the player fight a foe he or she would prefer to avoid or parley with—and perhaps seek to bring a fight about, calling out to reveal the character’s hiding place, or shouting insults amidst delicate negotiations.

In addition, some swords might insist on gemstones or filigree platinum inlay being added to their blade or pommel, or demand a scabbard made from the hide of a dragon or demon.

If the personality score of the sword should ever become greater than that of the wielder, the sword will be able to dominate the player. The sword will be able to force any or all of the above upon the unfortunate player and, in addition, may refuse to strike a particular foe, or turn a swing so it strikes a comrade or even the sword’s own wielder.

The above should be carefully adjudicated by the GM. A holy sword with a powerful personality in the hands of a dedicated paladin would be a dynamic force for good. A neutral good sword with a powerful personality in the hands of the same character might argue with the paladin constantly about how best to approach a situation. An especially dominant or evil sword might even seek to pass into the possession of a weaker character, in order to more completely dominate him or her and be better able to seek its own ends.

Unusual magic swords are like other creatures with a large ego: they will seek to become a force to be reckoned with in their world by being heavily involved in all party activities and especially in combat. These weapons will also feel a strong sense of rivalry with other powerful magic weapons within 60 ft and will attempt to lead their wielder into dealing with the rival as the sword’s alignment and the alignment of the rival dictates. A chaotic evil sword would seek the destruction of the rival weapon, but a lawful good sword would seek to rescue and recruit a rival weapon to serve its own cause.

Swords of unusual nature are never completely dominated or silenced. Even if greatly outweighed by the owner’s personality the sword will be quick to inject its opinion into any discussion, always attempting to gain influence over the player and his or her companions.

GMs should be ready to play the personality of these swords to the (ahem) hilt, enforcing the quirks and selfish demands of the weapon upon the player at every chance. Play this sword as if it is your very own character, an especially greedy and egotistical one, and strive to the utmost for every gain you can garner for the sword. The role-playing possibilities are endless.

Miscellaneous Weapons

Like swords, miscellaneous weapons add their bonus to both the “to hit” probability and damage die rolls. Weapons from the table which are not self-explanatory (e.g. a simple mace +1) are detailed here. Magic arrows that hit their intended target are destroyed; those that miss have a 50% chance of being broken or otherwise rendered unusable. Magic hand axes and hammers can be hurled up to 30 ft with the benefit of the attack bonus but losing the damage bonus. Magic spears may be used as either melee or missile weapons. When thrown at a very strong (18.99) or very massive creatures, there is a 50% chance the spear will break. Intelligent creatures, if struck by the thrown spear, have a 70% chance of using it against the attacker if struck by the weapon, or 25% likely to attempt to break the spear (spear must save vs a crushing blow). Unintelligent creatures are 25% likely to attempt to break the spear. Missile weapons (pulled bows, crossbows, slings, etc.) grant their to hit and damage bonus to missiles launched from them. Bonuses from magic ammunition are cumulative with bonuses from magic missile weapons.

Arrow of Slaying (AFPRT)

A +3 arrow particularly deadly to a certain type of creature. There is always some mark, usually a rune or pictograph, to denote the type of target the arrow will instantly slay on a successful attack. A chart is included for random determination but the GM is advised to modify the chart to fit his or her unique milieu. One should note the type can be as general as "humanoid" or as specific as “hobgoblin.”

d% Result d% Result
01-02 Clerics 51-52 Humans
03-04 Demi-Humans 53-54 Hydras
05-06 Demons 55-56 Illusionists
07-08 Devils 57-58 Kobolds
09-10 Dinosaurs 59-60 Liches
11-12 Dragons 61-62 Lizard Men
13-14 Druids 63-64 Lycanthropes
15-16 Dwarfs 65-66 Magic Users
17-18 Elementals 67-68 Mammals
19-20 Elves 69-70 Medusae
21-22 Ettin 71-72 Mummies
23-24 Fighters 73-74 Naga
25-26 Ghouls 75-76 Ogres
27-28 Giants 77-78 Orcs
29-30 Gnolls 79-80 Paladins
31-32 Gnomes 81-82 Rangers
33-34 Goblins 83-84 Reptiles
35-36 Golems 85-86 Skeletons
37-38 Griffons 87-88 Spiders
39-40 Halflings 89-90 Thieves
41-42 Harpies 91-92 Troglodytes
43-44 Hell Hounds 93-94 Trolls
45-46 Hippogriffs 95-96 Undead
47-48 Hobgoblins 97-98 Vampires
49-50 Humanoids 99-00 Zombies

Axe of Hurling (AFPR)

A +2 magic hand axe specially made for throwing up to 60 ft and retaining both its to hit and damage bonus when used as a missile weapon.

Crossbow of Accuracy (AFPRT)

Besides a +3 bonus on to hit and damage rolls, all attacks with this weapon are considered short range. 10% of these weapons are heavy crossbows.

Crossbow of Range (AFPRT)

This +1 crossbow has double the range in all categories of standard crossbows. 20% of these weapons are heavy crossbows.

Crossbow of Speed (AFPRT)

This weapon allows double the normal firing rate of normal crossbows. When determining randomly, 10% of these weapons are heavy crossbows.

Dagger of Venom (AFT)

A +1 dagger which, on a natural hit roll of 20, injects a dose of lethal poison into its victim, though the target gets a saving throw vs poison to negate. The dagger can hold six doses of poison in a tiny compartment in the hilt and can be refilled. Use of this weapon by good aligned characters should be closely monitored.

Hammer of the Dwarfs (F)

Usually functions as a +2 hammer. In the hands of a dwarfish fighter who knows the command word, however, this weapon is a full +3 war-hammer. The hammer of the dwarfs retains its attack bonus when hurled as a missile weapon, doing double damage if it hits and boomeranging back to its owner. If thrown at a giant opponent (including ogres, trolls, and ettin) the hammer will cause triple damage if it hits.

Holy Mace (CFPR)

A +1 mace with special powers vs evil creatures and the undead. The mace has a neutral good alignment and does 5d4 points of bonus damage to any evil target it strikes. Against the undead, however, the holy mace reveals its true power. When the mace strikes a demon, devil, or undead creature, a turn undead roll is made on the Turning Undead table as the wielder were a 12th level cleric. If the creature fails its roll it is immediately blasted out of existence by the holy power of the mace. Some creatures (example: skeletons, zombies, and ghouls) are automatically destroyed. Stronger undead creatures which have a numerical result instead of a “T” or “D” on the matrix get that number as a saving throw vs disruption. Even if the undead target makes its saving throw or is immune to disruption, the mace will still deal double the damage plus double the damage bonus.

Sling of the Halfling (AFPRT)

Grants +2 “to hit” and damage rolls, but is figured as a +1 weapon in terms of which creatures it can affect.

Trident/Fork (AFPRT)

A shorter than normal trident with a 6 ft haft, usable as a melee or missile weapon but too short in this mode to be set against a charge. When the command word is spoken, the trident lengthens into a full pole arm and can be set against a charge as a normal pole arm. In either mode, the weapon is +3 to hit and damage.