I tend to be rather generous with magic items in my games, particularly magic weapons. This is partly because I enjoy making up new, interesting items.
Sadly, my players are not of the "golf-bag full of swords" persuasion. They clearly have fun with the unusual magic weapons I throw them, but would rather have one cool item they can build a character around, than a bunch weapons to accommodate constantly changing tactical considerations.
So, how do I hand out lots of weird magic swords while still letting the PCs build play characters with their one signature sword? Simple. Squish all of those swords into a single item. In my campaigns this usually takes the form of reshaping the multiple magic weapons into a single new item--requiring a combination of smithing skill and magical tools (and is usually expensive in time, money, power, or all of the above).
Below is an example of one such "magical tool" and some rules for how it works.
The Forge of Repentance:
This seemingly ordinary furnace and anvil bear a powerful magical aura of an undefinable nature. When used in conjunction with an enchanted hammer (of any variety), the forge allows a craftsman to mold and shape not only metal, but also any magics contained therein.
Any metal item crafted using this forge bears a faint aura of both good and magic. It gains no additional magical properties or functions from the simple act of forging, but exhibits a purity not seen in other items, increasing its apparent value by 10% (perhaps more if the purchaser is able to detect magic, but unable to identify such).
If used as part of the process of creating a magical metal item, the forge contributes an effective value of 2000gp for the purpose of determining the value of available materials and is not expended as other materials are (thus it reduces the necessary material costs of crafting any meta magic item by 2000gp).
If the smith also has a magical hammer, the forge can be used to reforge magical arms, armor, rings, and other items made entirely of metal, though any such act is sure to reshape the craftsman as much as the crafted. This can be done in one of three ways:
First, any magic item of purely metal construction can be reshaped or resized without losing any of its magical properties. Magical rings, armor, bracers and the like can be decreased or increased in size (by adding or subtracting material) to fit wearers of a different height, girth, race, or gender than the person for whom it was originally made. Weapons cannot be resized, but could be fitted with a new hilt or haft (unless the hilt is specifically tied to the items enchantment) to better fit its wielder. Simple resizing like this requires an appropriate crafting check of normal difficulty (DC 15 for 3e or 5e. or an unmodified proficiency check for AD&D), a supply of additional metals for sizing up, and takes 1d4 days. If the crafting check fails, the item is permanently destroyed.
Secondly, a weapon can be completely reforged and remade into any weapon of lesser weight, thus a shortsword could be made into a dagger, or a heavy mace could be hammered out into a sword. The new weapon retains all magical properties of the original. Reshaping requires an appropriate crafting check of hard difficulty (DC 20 for 3e or 5e or a proficiency check at -2 for AD&D), takes 3d4 days, and is extremely taxing on craftsman, leaving him with effectively only 1 hit point at the end of each day of crafting. If the crafting check fails, the item is permanently destroyed. This can only be done with weapons made entirely of metal, those with non-metal components (wooden handles, stone heads, gem inlays, etc.) cannot be reshaped without risking the integrity of the weapon's magic.
Lastly, and most difficult, two magic items of the same category can be fused together and reforged into a single item bearing all the powers of both items. Thus, two magical weapons could be combined, or two rings, or two pieces of armor. Unlike with reshaping a weapon, this level of reforging can be done on items that have non-metal components, so long as they are primarily made of metal (thus inlaid gems or ornate wooden shafts could be preserved and reused in the new, combined item). Fusing items is extremely difficult and taxing requires an appropriate crafting check of very hard difficulty (DC 25 for 3e/5e or a proficiency check at -5 for AD&D), takes 3d4 weeks (3d4 * 7 days), and leaving leaving the craftsman with effectively only 1 hit point at the end of each day of crafting. If the crafting check fails, both items are permanently destroyed. In addition, this process draws strength from user to fuel the reforging process, permanently draining 1 point from his highest ability score (regardless of the success or failure of the of the crafting check).
The newly reforged item must be of the same category as the original items being combined (i.e. two rings must make another ring). The form of the item is left to the crafter's imagination and creative abilities. Armor items that are reforged must be of an armor type that is the average base AC of the original items--thus combining Chainmail (AC 15) and Full Plate (AC 19) would most likely make Plate and Mail (AC 17). Weapons can be remade into any primarily metal weapon with a weight at least 1 lb less than the combined weight of the two original items--thus two longswords (4 lbs each) could be combined to make any metal weapon of 7lbs or less (discarded materials have no negative effect on the new item's enchantments).
If the crafting check succeeds, the newly created item will have all of the powers of the two original items (for good or ill) with the following exceptions.
- The bound spirits that grant sentience to intelligent items cannot survive the reforging process. Any sentience possessed by the original item(s) is lost, along with any abilities that were specifically tied to that sentience.
- Functions specifically related to the form of one of the original items are lost unless the newly created item has the same, or similar, form. Thus an enchanted hammer that is reforged could not be used in combination with this forge unless the new form was also a hammer.
- Powers or attributes specifically granted by the metal(s) in the original item(s)--such as the indestructibility of adamantine or Baatorian green steel's ability to frighten demons--are lost unless both items were made of the same material (due to the materials being alloyed by the re-forging).
- Magical "pluses" are not strictly additive. If multiple items with pluses are combined, the new item will have a bonus 1 higher than that of the most powerful item (thus a +3 sword combined with a +2 sword will result in a +4 weapon), to a maximum of +6. Any circumstantial bonuses will be transferred to the new item normally (thus a sword that gains an additional +3 vs. undead opponents would convey that property to the new item).
- Regardless of the original items, the new item will be purified. It will radiate an aura of good of equal strength to the new items magical aura. It retains none of the alignments of the original items. This has no effect on the powers of the item (if the original weapon penalized good-aligned wielders in some way, the new item will retain that penalty, despite its purified nature).
By way of example, here are two magic weapons in my current campaign and how they might be combined.
These three broadswords are forged of a strange green metal. The shell-guards are shaped like a metal gauntlet with two black eyes painted on the back.
These swords were given to the leaders of the various Orc gangs in the slums of Old Phlan by Mace, high priest of Iyachtu Xvim. These weapons function as +1 broadswords for all purposes, but the wielder suffers a -2 penalty on saving throws against spells cast by priests of Iyachtu Xvim. The +1 bonus also extends to punching attacks made with the shell-guard.
When wielded by an Orc or Half-Orc, the blade gives the wielder an aura of strength and confidence, granting a +1 bonus to the wielder’s Leadership score as long as it is held in hand.
The metal is a rare alloy native to the plane of Baator. It is as strong as steel, but functions as cold iron against extraplanar creatures to which that metal is inimical. Against Tanar’ri, specifically, it is particularly feared—the sight of a weapon of this material forces an immediate (unmodified) morale check as soon as the weapon is presented.
The swords can also be used as an unholy symbol of Iyachtu Xvim for all related purposes (such as bypassing divine wards created by a priest of Xvim).So this sword is a +1 weapon, with a couple of extra abilities, and also gains traits from the material it was made of and from its particular shape (shell guard shaped like Xvim's holy symbol).
The Immaculate Axe
This gleaming battle-axe always appears to be in perfect, mint condition, as if it were fresh from the forge. It never shows the slightest hint of dirt, grime, blood-stains, rust, or wear, and even the most disgustingly sticky substances seem repelled by the blade. This particular weapon was found, clean and shiny as always, on the body of a dead adventurer, in a heap of refuse and offal, in some Xvart caverns west of Phlan.
The Immaculate Axe radiates a strong aura of abjuration magic. The axe unaffected by any attempts to damage or soil it—neither rust, nor hammer, nor acid, nor fire can mar the weapon’s appearance. Spells such as disintegrate can destroy the axe, but regular wear or damage (even from a magical source) cannot. This protection does not extend to damage inflicted by spells of greater than 9th level, weapons or items of artifact-level power, or attacks by divine beings.
Likewise the axe repels all adhesive or viscous substances. Even supernatural substances such as a grease spell, the touch of an adherer or mimic, or the sovereign glue will not stick to the axe.
When wielded in combat, the Immaculate Axe functions as a normal battle-axe. It counts as a magical weapon for determining what creatures can be harmed by it. In addition, the Immaculate Axe deals an additional die of damage when used against creatures that are unnaturally filthy, slimy, sticky, or disgusting (including oozes, slimes, aboleths, skum, adherers, otyughs, and other creatures subject to DM interpretation).This weapon's abilities appear to be of a purely magical nature, and are not dependent on form or material.
Forged together, these two weapons would create a new weapon (any all-metal weapon with a total weight of 10 lbs or less (7 lbs from the battle axe, 4 lbs from the broadsword, -1 lb). Since a Bastard Sword weighs 10 lbs, lets assume that the smith is reforging the two weapons into a Bastard Sword.
Mace's Talon has several properties: +1 bonus (keep); -2 on saves vs. priests of Xvim (keep); +1 on attacks with the shell guard (form-specific); +1 Leadership for Orcish wielders (keep); strike as cold iron (material specific); frighten demons (material specific); holy symbol (form-specific).
The Immaculate Axe has three features: immune to damage (keep); repel adhesives (keep); extra die of damage vs. gross monsters (keep).
Since the Axe does not grant any "pluses", the new bastard sword will only gain the +1 bonus from Mace's Talon. Thus, our new weapon has the following powers (and penalties), taken from its two "parent weapons":
- +1 bonus on attacks and damage. Strikes as a magic weapon.
- Grants +1 to Leadership score to an Orc or Half-orc wielder.
- Unaffected by any attempts to damage or soil it—neither rust, nor hammer, nor acid, nor fire can mar the weapon’s appearance.
- Repels all adhesive or viscous substances.
- Deals an additional die of damage when used against creatures that are unnaturally filthy, slimy, sticky, or disgusting.
- The wielder suffers a -2 penalty on saving throws against spells cast by priests of Iyachtu Xvim.
There you go.