member, 181 posts
Thu 6 Feb 2020
at 05:14
How to make a +1 Sword Memorable
Bell of Lost Souls wrote an awesome article D&D: Five Ways To Make A +1 Sword Memorable.

This made me start searching the web for a great list of special materials and interesting properties which could be added to magic items like weapons and armor to make them more interesting.

TL;DR: Make your magic items interesting by changing what they look like, how they function, what material they are made from, who made them, who owned them last, and adding strange effects to the item which aren't necessarily combat focused. Maybe that +1 sword is claustrophobic...

You can find the extensive list here:

Please make suggestions in the comments and I'll add them to the list!

BOLS Source:
 member, 1296 posts
Thu 6 Feb 2020
at 05:33
How to make a +1 Sword Memorable
Sword of my own design
The hilt was made of Dragon Bone (and shaped like a dragon katana hilt), the crossbar/disc was meteoric iron while the blade was apparently made by an Elven Master Smith. It had a variable light effect that looked like ghostly blue-white fire and could glow from off to 60ft in 5 ft increments. It had a Reputation of stealing the souls of those who died by it.
It did not do that, but people saw that ghostly looking flame and Decided it was some kind of hell fire. As such when first drawn in combat, the enemy needs to make a moral check or run away. Even if they make the check they still fight at a -2 penelty to hit because of the reputation of that blade.

This message was last edited by the user at 05:34, Thu 06 Feb.

 member, 6 posts
Thu 6 Feb 2020
at 05:40
How to make a +1 Sword Memorable
The Goblins webcomic had a sword those blade would turn into the last thing it touched. Use the same idea? Doesn't change the stats but changes the damage type based on the last inanimate thing it struck.
 member, 7159 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Thu 6 Feb 2020
at 05:54
How to make a +1 Sword Memorable
It wasn't in a D&D game, and it wasn't a +1 sword...but one of my GMs decided to have some fun with us by letting us hear rumors about a lost runesword.  Most of the party was all gung-ho to go find it, because fighters love awesome bard thought it might have an interesting story, so he tagged along...

After much trial and a couple of characters almost dying, we found the sword.  It was a runesword, alright...made for a gnome.  As such, it was too small to use as anything but a letter opener, and that was for really small letters.  The fighters were all disgusted and just walked away.  My bard thought, "Hey...this will be a GREAT conversation starter and make for a story that people might pay to hear...let's take it!"

And, since he claimed it as his own...even though he never once wielded it in any way, just tied it on a leather strand and hung it around his neck...he gained control of all the OTHER magical things it could do.  The whole group hated me for a couple of sessions...*laugh*
 member, 114 posts
 Absolute power corrupts
Thu 6 Feb 2020
at 09:10
How to make a +1 Sword Memorable
Had a sword once that was scared of the dark and refused to leave its scabbard  at night. To recharge its abilities it needed to "rest" in its scabbard (which had holes in it to ensure it was never dark in there) so you couldn't just carry it in hand permanently. We did try to put a continual flame on it, but it reacted badly thinking we were trying to melt it and refused to leave its scabbard till we removed the spell...
 member, 1533 posts
 "Hugs for the Hugs God!"
 - Warhammer Fluffy-K
Fri 7 Feb 2020
at 05:24
How to make a +1 Sword Memorable
I love articles like this.

Matt Colville did the "it's a symbol" thing with some of his magic items (although they were far more than just a +1).

He had some really neat meta ideas about magic items

1) A shield the party got was like the symbol of some legendary hero or former king and there were all these legends about the person who wields this shield is the king reborn or has a claim to the kingdom or something like that.

2) He made a cool sword part of a larger collection of cool swords (the Teeth of the Dragon) and had a whole side plot about a villain trying to reclaim the swords for some ancient ritual.

Twisting on that even if it is a +1 sword it becomes important if only to keep the bad guys from getting it.

Another "great" idea is something like the keyblade from Kingdom Hearts. Obviously not that but the value of an item could be because it is a component in a ritual or it is a literal key to unlock something bigger. I'm reminded of the Golden Army from Hellboy where your item might be some minor magical effect but with it they can wield a powerful army or command a dragon or part the seas etc.
 member, 904 posts
Fri 7 Feb 2020
at 10:41
How to make a +1 Sword Memorable

This message was deleted by the user at 10:45, Fri 07 Feb.

 member, 206 posts
Fri 7 Feb 2020
at 14:13
How to make a +1 Sword Memorable
There's also the possibility that the +1 sword is maybe a weakened version of the full thing, or has had bits broken off it which need to be reattached, or perhaps some long-dormant spirit dwelling inside it which will gradually awaken and imbue the sword with more power as the sword is used and/or its wielder's actions agree with the spirit's view (like the Concordance rating on an artifact).

Basically, the +1 sword can "level up" in some way, and be upgraded so that you can keep the same weapon as you go, rather than ditching it later when you get hold of something more powerful - the +1 sword is the more powerful item. Just...not yet ;).
 member, 4657 posts
Fri 7 Feb 2020
at 14:20
How to make a +1 Sword Memorable
Sounds like a Legacy Weapon. You can look them up.

I played in a Wheel of Time game where the groups blademaster had Old Blood and used a sword that belonged to the guy in his head. When he 'died' instead of being dead he swapped with the guy in his head. It was pretty unique.

Perhaps have the sword belong to soneone you knew/loved/in loved with and their soul was the sword? It doesn't have to be a sword so to speak either.
 member, 7 posts
Fri 7 Feb 2020
at 14:47
How to make a +1 Sword Memorable
Make them from bits of monster. I have a set of weapons floating around in my world made from the teeth of the ancient dragon Laki. So bone swords or daggers that do poison damage, or put people off because they remember when he killed half the kingdom.
 member, 182 posts
Fri 7 Feb 2020
at 20:24
How to make a +1 Sword Memorable
There's also the possibility that the +1 sword is maybe a weakened version of the full thing...Basically, the +1 sword can "level up" in some way, and be upgraded

Yes! This is directly out of the WoTC book Weapons of Legacy and I'm going to be using it very soon in my campaign.

This message was last edited by the user at 00:10, Sat 08 Feb.

Isida KepTukari
 member, 335 posts
 Elegant! Arrogant! Smart!
Sat 8 Feb 2020
at 07:54
How to make a +1 Sword Memorable
-An ironwood sword which can float on water - sought after by elves and those who sail.

-A sword which inscribes the name of every person it has ever slain on its blade in tiny runes.  If the sword is old enough, this could look very impressive, and could give the players an interesting clue if they slew someone in disguise.

-The hilt and quillions of this sword made of white quartz crystal that looks like ice and is always a little cool to the touch.  It might glow when the names of white or silver dragons are spoken.

-A sword whose hilt is seemingly made of pumice (though smooth to the touch), and blade is always a dull gray no matter how hard it's polished.  The wearer can see through mist and fog without penalty (usually just natural mist and fog, though it could be upgraded to see through obscuring mist and similar effects).

-Bright pink blade with rose quartz hilt and a heart-shaped pommel stone of garnet.  It never gets dirty and never needs sharpening.  Sought after by those devoted to deities of love.

-A sword with fine lords and ladies inscribed on every part of it, at some gathering or party. One who wears it finds that he always knows the correct title of noble address of anyone he meets, if not their proper name, correct bow, or other noble knowledge.
 moderator, 15844 posts
 He's big, he's bad,
 but mostly he's Ron.
Sat 8 Feb 2020
at 08:29
How to make a +1 Sword Memorable
The sword once belonged to a long dead famous hero.  Legend says that the hero will be reborn, and the character that carries the sword is treated as if they were the reborn hero (just in case).  Which could be good or bad, depending on who you run into.

People who revere the hero could be more likely to be friendly to the bearer, while those who despise the hero might be more likely to be hostile (if they even believe the rebirth legend).