Monday, March 8, 2010

"The Immaculate Weeping Amputation" and Artifact Swords

There's always someone talking about making magic items "unique(er)," which is a commendable goal. I'm rereading Gene Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun" series and I've been really jazzed on all the hubbub concerning the perfectly-crafted executioner's sword Terminus Est and it's maker. This provides one template you can use to make magic swords "unique(er)":
  • Perhaps "magic swords" aren't magic, but just the product of ultra-master swordsmiths of the distant past who used art lost to modern men to forge their blades.
  • Perhaps there was only handful of legendary swordsmiths and almost all "magic" swords are the handiwork of one member of this small pool. Those knowledgeable in such matters can recognize the individual craftsmanship of different sword makers.
  • "Magic" swords could have some high faulutin' name. Maybe not so much "Heavy Metal Names," but Haiku or Formal/Euphemistic style names.
  • "Magic" sword doesn't really work in this context if the swords aren't actually magic but the product of super-forging. I'd call them Artifact Swords myself but I can appreciate how one would want to avoid Artifact confusion. You could even give them all sorts of "magic" sword properties such as injuring ghost/insubstantial beings; bonuses versus certain types of foes; radiating light; etc. by attributing such properties to the special materials used in the manufacture of the blade.
I made a table of 100 descriptive words and 100 nouns to generate sword names and it came up with some pretty choice examples, such as:
Inscrutable Scarlet Wing
Disemboweling Virtuous Lady
Impeccable Weeping Amputation
Bloody Bright Fist
Flowing Discerning Thorn
Cleaving Flowering Scythe
Utmost Exterminating Scourge
Dancing Impervious River
Avenging Courageous Blossom
Not everyone's cup of tea but I'm digging the results, especially "The Impeccable Weeping Amputation!" I imagine the sword's name would be graven in ancient glyphs along one side of the blade and the maker's name or sigil would be on the tang or on the blade in smaller script.

Next I came up with the names of some legendary sword-makers of the lost ancient past: Ezvenarian, Zhaiyeen, Srikalvia and Abdieo. I'm thinking that different craftsmen specialized in different styles of blades. Ezvenarian was known for his square-tipped straight-bladed broad, bastard and two-handed sword and Sriklavia for flowing, wavy, almost flame or leaf shaped short sword, falchions, scimitars and broad swords.

Now I need to come up with a sword properties table...


  1. So awesome! Are you going to post your list(s)? I love your web log!

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  3. Oops! A word disappeared on me! As I was trying to say, I always give names to magic swords. So, um, I could use that there table you mentioned. :)

  4. 'You turn to see the mutant dirtbiker boss The Crimson Lobotomy slicing his infamous blade Bestial Cherub Surge - into your face!'

    yup - sweet, it works, more please :)

  5. Remember that scene in The Hobbit, when Gandalf, Bilbo and the dwarves reached Rivendell and showed the swords from the troll-horde to Elrond? He looked over each weapon, read the runes written on it, and told them its name, its history, what he knew of its powers. "This is Glamdring, the Foe-Hammer, forged in the city of Gondolin in the First Age. It will warn you of danger and is feared by orcs."

    What you're doing here? Very much so.

  6. Thanks everyone! I'm sorry to disappoint Cyclopeatron & James, but I'm holding back the sword generation tables for the Planet Algol can't all be rayguns and robotics!

    @Dave: Very much so! That scene if part of the DNA of magic sword lore...

  7. Although I get burned out by faux-Chinese names (everything Exalted, I'm looking at you), I have to agree that the Impeccable Weeping Amputation is, indeed, awesome.

  8. Amazing. Had to interrupt my wife's viewing of White Collar with the scent of an Acrid Brown Vole, and now this... is there a booklet after all?