7 Tips to Forging Magical Weapons: Freebie is That Singing Swords are Annoying

In War of Nytefall: Eradication, events are set in motion due to a mortal wielding an enchanted weapon.  The First of Durag appears to have the strength to eliminate Clyde.  It has already depowered and killed many Dawn Fangs, so all of the vampires are getting nervous.  I haven’t worked with a lot of enchanted weapons.  There was Timoran’s deflection axe, Decker’s elemental axe, Delvin’s shield, and a few other things, but I’ve kept it a lot more low key than I expected.  Kind of odd since I designed so many enchanted weapons in college.  I did learn a lot during that stage of my life, so here are some tips if you’re going to add magical gear to your story.

  1. For the love of all dice rolls, do NOT load every power into one weapon.  Nobody wants to see a hero with a sword the has healing, elemental magic, trap finding, dragon summoning, invisibility, teleportation, enhanced strength, constant charm, water breathing, perfect penmanship, soul stealing, etc. on it.  That’s ridiculous and any normal character would spend most of his or her time thumbing through the manual for the right power.
  2. Sometimes a small, simple power is enough for the character.  They might not be flashy, so their weapon will be more mundane in terms of magic.  Perhaps it’s only stronger than a regular one or it enhances eyesight.  You will be surprised how versatile these abilities would be too.  You’re forced to think outside of the box since you have limited your tools.  (Also, no 3 ton manual being dragged along by a team of yak required.)
  3. The amount and power of magical weapons is determined by the level of magic in the overall world.  If you have it that spellcasting isn’t a thing then you’re not going to see an enchanted tea kettle in every tavern.  There might be things left over from a previous era of high magic, but you need spellcasters to make new items.  Not to mention learning how to use them.
  4. Certain types of magical weapons require knowledge or, at the very least, SAFE experimentation.  A magical lance that stretches a mile long might require a special word, which the user can’t know just by picking it up.  Not unless you’ve established that enchanted items psychically tell people how to use them, but that sounds like cheating.  Constant effects like increased toughness or physical triggers like a jewel that you press on can be substituted for verbal cues.
  5. Things get more complicated with range weapons, especially if the enchantments go beyond increased range and accuracy.  If you use a regular arrow on a magical bow, does it make the arrow magical?  Do you even need ammunition or do all magic range weapons have the ability to conjure as soon as they are aimed?  What happens if you use a fire arrow on a freezing bow?  Draw and stabbing weapons are so much easier . . . Unless you have to wonder about enchantments on the scabbard.  Does a flame spell on the blade include the hilt?  Are these questions making things worse?
  6. Be careful designing a talking weapon.  There’s a reason you see these more in comedy than serious fantasy.  It’s too easy to turn them into a joke because they are ripe for being sassy and critical of the wielder.  If you still do it then you have to decide on if it has a personality or simply answers questions.  It could be nothing more than a verbal warning spell too.  Giving the weapon sentience requires treating it like any other character too.  It gets a personality and you need to have it act accordingly.  If it’s a jerk then it may start chatting away during a stealth mission.  Also, consider developing a way to ‘mute’ it like it can only talk outside of the scabbard or it has a mouth on the hilt that can be gagged.
  7. It shouldn’t be that easy to get these weapons unless you established that they are all over the place.  Being given it by family, friend, or mentor is one thing, but the story gets silly if that keeps happening.  There are only so many dungeons, thieves hideouts, dragon treasuries, and pirate islands with magical weapons that the heroes can run into.  By making them hard to get, you make them appear more special.  Now, if you do have it that magical weapons are as common as chamber pots then you better have it that every character is outfitted with something.  Go big or go back to bed on this one.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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33 Responses to 7 Tips to Forging Magical Weapons: Freebie is That Singing Swords are Annoying

  1. L. Marie says:

    Excellent, well-thought out tips, Charles. 😀 I can’t help thinking of fairy tales involving magic weapons. Usually there are so many tasks the hero has to complete before the weapon could be gained (many times traveling to some far-off region and surviving dangerous enchantments).

    Would you consider Thor’s hammer to be a magical weapon?

    I’m writing about magical items, but of the cursed variety (ala a monkey’s paw).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mjolnir is definitely a magic weapon. Has lighting, heightened durability, and user preference. There does tend to be a quest for magical weapons. Best to earn them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I would disagree here Mjolnir is merely a tool that Thor uses to focus his power through. The hammer itself has no power nor can it command weather pattern changes. It is Thor that is the power source. 😊


      • Yet, it can bestow his power to others, come when summoned, and choose/judge its master. To me, that denotes some level of magical ability. The properties of the hammer have changed over time too. In comics and the movies, it is labeled a tool at times. In mythology, it comes off as more magical.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Very interesting article. Recently, I’ve been researching ancient poisons – not quite the same thing though.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    More great tips from Charles 👍😎


  4. Great tips mate cheers for sharing 😁


  5. A fun post, Charles.


  6. But I always want such a sword in DND… 🙂


  7. V.M.Sang says:

    A wonderful post for all fantasy writers, Charles.
    In my Wolves of Vimar series, the group of advenurers has to go on a quest in the first book to find a magic sword which, it is prophecied, will be needed to save the land of Grosmer.
    This sword is semi-sentient. It chooses its wielder, and can warn of danger by vibrating. However, its name is Equilibrium, and its main purpose is to keep the balance between good and evil on Vimar. Thus, if there is a move towards evil, it will choose a good character, but if the move is towards evil, it will choose an evil person.


  8. Reblogged this on adaratrosclair and commented:
    No. Singing. Swords. Lol. Love this post!


  9. Your timing on these is always spot-on for me. I’ve been thinking about adding something to one of the Lanternfish characters. I stumbled across a bit of Japanese lore about how really old tools can obtain spirits. They’re considered similar to ghosts. Lanternfish is docked in pseudo-Japan right now, so it’s been on my mind to do something like this. Also good tip about the Swiss Army swords.


  10. I have to say, my favorite magical weapon ever is Stormbringer, the soul-stealing sword that Elric of Melnibone owned. Or maybe, it owned him. Stormbringer had its own personality, and malevolent plans for the future. It demanded a sacrifice of blood, and though Elric thought he was in control, ultimately he was destroyed by his own weapon. You never feel the same way about a magical weapon after reading the Elric books!


  11. Reblogged this on Plaisted Publishing House and commented:
    Another great post from Charles Yallowitz – Forging magical weapons.


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