If you are the sort of bad guy or gal who spends much time in the fantasy realms, you will no doubt come up against one of these before too long. Inexperienced evil wizards sometimes fret about their first encounter with a blessed weapon of power, but a few simple rational measures taken beforehand will dispel the apprehension one feels going into battle with a blade that thinks it has your number.
Remember that if you go up against even a minor magical sword, a battleaxe with an aura, or a mace of mystery, and you come out on top, you automatically earn major boasting points among your evil mates who have not had the opportunity. So sharpen up your own talents and see what you can do to meet the challenge.
Evil plotpointsLearn about the sword's capabilities. This is no different than the hard work you need to do when facing a humanoid adversary and need to assess strengths and weaknesses. It is best done in advance if possible, though you may be able to glean some information in the heat of battle. Questions to ask:
- Are you sure it's really magic? Check that it is not just a plain sword with glow paint on it. In these unregulated times, it pays to be cautious.
- Is it sentient? With what kind of soul?
- Does it have magical senses? And what kind? (If you say "it smells," I shall pop you on the forehead, Moe-style.)
- Can it hurt you? More than a regular weapon? If it is magically sharp, is it the whole edge, or only the tip? Over 90% of all magic swords merely offer some kind of sensing ability to the user, lacking any magical offense powers entirely, and these will include nearly all blades without lofty reputations, so the odds are with you.
- What is the range of its powers? Does it actually have to strike you, or will it work at a distance? A vorpal blade usually works within arm's reach, a dancing blade rather much further, and a lightning-shooting one considerably more.
- What is its capacity? Like anything else, when it comes to magic weaponry you cannot get something for nothing. Thus the magic in the sword has to be powered by something, and knowing what that something is might be just the thing you need to know to defeat it. Is it the swordfighter's own lifeforce? the spirit of a long-dead mage or djinn (also known popularly as "running on batteries")? the blood of innocents (and just when was the last time you saw any innocents or virgins around these parts anyway?) Is it close to being on all used up? Some supervillain groups put out a newsletter to their members about new magic weapon sightings in the area.
Strokes of genius
- Safeties. Ever since 1974 all magic swords manufactured legally in the United States have been required to have a safety mechanism installed. Statistics from the CDC revealed that most injuries associated with magic items were occurring in the home among family members not acquainted with the proper handling and care. If you own a magic weapon, it is very important to know the proper method of engaging and disengaging the safety, so that it does not go all vorpal on you unexpectedly. As an added security measure, you might also consider installing a lockable magic sword cabinet.
- Magic sword detection systems. If you have one put in, make sure that it is properly installed and maintained by the contractor, and that it receives updates from the central sword database on a regular schedule. The proliferation of cheap imported magic swords makes this especially vital these days.
- Idle talk. If you speak the language of the swordfighter, before you engage in melee, try to engage him or her in banter. Appeal to the ego and see whether you can elicit some boasting about what this magical blade is going to be able to do to you. This is what is known as social engineering.
- Research it. Get the manufacturer serial no and look it up on the Internet. You may be able to find out something about that weapon which suggests a useful defense.
- Ownage. Try subverting the sword, if it is not up to date with the latest patches.
Traps for mere fools
- The old exploding saber trick. If you think the sword's power is nearly used up, don't let your guard down yet, since it is an old trick to rig the thing up to explode just before it is about to run down.
- Turning your back.
- Insta-kill enchantments. Particularly unpleasant are the blades which cannot be re-sheathed, once drawn, without killing.
Precious and needful
- Magic armor.
- Magic shield.
- Magic handgun. That will teach them about bringing a knife to a gunfight.
- Dragon fire. Yep, melts 'em all.
- Combat rumor. Your forces, if they have heard they will be combatting someone with a magic weapon, will probably be trading all sorts of hysterical rumors about how it's going to eat them alive and so forth. Calmly, rationally, set them straight with the unvarnished facts in order to restore their composure. Lie if necessary. Promise them a substantial bounty and/or promotion if any one can defeat the swordmaster and bring the blade back to you, and punishments if any cut and run. You might be able to spread magical counterclaims on how you are fated to defeat this particular blade, but be prepared to provide some tangible evidence too.
- Electromagnetic pulse. These are not so great against strictly magical swords, but might be a godsend against technological ones like vibroblades and light sabers. Bring spare batteries.
- Hostage. Offer to trade the princess you are holding captive for the sword (in reality, some dude dressed up like the princess will probably do). As with all hostage situations, be careful at the moment of changeover, where the urge to double-cross the other side becomes nearly irresistible to both parties. Tell them "lay the thing down and back away from it slowly" in no uncertain terms.
- Human shields. If you have a bunch of innocents you can interpose between you and the hero, it makes it awfully hard for him to go vorpal. This is yet another aspect of using good against them.
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- Image credit The source of my pain by Wolfman-K on Zooomr
- Image credit Blade (Crop) by Cayusa
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