[RPG] Can the enchantment/effect of the Vorpal Sword magic item be applied to other weapons/items (and modified depending on the item)


Is what makes a vorpal sword a vorpal sword an enchantment that can be applied to other weapons? If so, can this enchantment be modified based off the item that is being enchanted?

An example of what might be attempted would be enchanting a fork and then stabbing the vorpal fork into the victim so that when the corpse would be examined, no wounds would have been found except the victim's hand having been stabbed with a fork.

(This question is being asked following a previous closed question.)

Best Answer

Vorpal has a particular meaning in D&D

The term "vorpal" was imported into the game from Lewis Carroll's poem Jabberwocky.

He took his vorpal sword in hand, longtime the manxsome foe he sought
So rested he by the Tum-Tum Tree
And stood awhile in thought.
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

The original authors of D&D borrowed this term and put it into the game. It's meaning was first spelled out in the Greyhawk Supplement (TSR, 1974, OD&D, p. 47). A vorpal blade was related to another magical sword, the sword of sharpness. Instead of just doing damage, they both lopped off the limbs or heads of whomever or whatever they hit, if the "to hit" score was exceeded by a certain amount on the d20 roll. (You can see in this magical feature a precursor to some later critical hit style conventions in the Blackmoor supplement).

Sword of Sharpness: ... any attack employing it which scores 20% (4 or better), over the required number, or a 19 or 20 in any event, indicates it has severed a limb or a neck — in cases of multiple possibilities assign probabilities and dice to see what the result is. {snip}
Vorpal Blade: The Vorpal Blade differs from a Sword of Sharpness in several ways:

  1. its bonus hit probability is +2;
  2. it needs only 10% over the required score to hit, or an 18 through 20 in any event to sever, and it will always sever the neck; and
  3. it will perform in the hands of any Lawful fighter, although it requires a Paladin in order to act in its anti-magic capacity.

Over the various editions of this game, some of the above has been revised or changed, but the core element remains the same: the vorpal blade / sword sometimes cuts off the target's head.

The vorpal ax is a viable adaptation, since an ax does slashing damage.

In D&D 5e, the vorpal sword is ...

Weapon (Any sword that deals slashing damage) Legendary (requires attunement)

After examining the Vorpal Sword (DMG, pg. 209)

  1. +3 to attack and damage rolls
  2. Ignores resistance to slashing damage
  3. Decapitation occurs on a roll of a 20 on the d20 "to hit" roll; One of the creature's heads is cut off. If the creature can't survive without a head, it dies (note dies, not "reduced to 0 HP") unless ...
    • The creature is immune to slashing damage, or
    • Doesn’t have or need a head, or
    • the target has legendary actions, or
    • The head is too large to cut off (DM's call)
  4. If decapitation does not happen on the natural 20, 6d8 slashing damage is done to the target.

There is no reason one could not adapt that to any weapon that does slashing damage. For example, the battle ax, great ax, or scimitar would fit perfectly.

About that deadly fork

The closest weapon to a fork I can find is:

Trident / 1d6 piercing / Thrown (range 20/60) /versatile (1d8); Basic Rules, p. 46)

A magical fork would be expected to do piercing damage; thus, a vorpal fork makes no sense in the context of that magical ability. If you want to make a legendary fork, I'd suggest using a different adjective to describe it rather than vorpal, since that term has a discrete in-game meaning.

What you describe is a different enchantment, however.

.. enchanting a fork and then stabbing the fork into the victim so that when the corpse would be examined, no wounds except the victims hand having been stabbed with a fork would have been found.

Murderous Fork, Fork of Lethality, Forking Assassin, Ur Forked or even The Last Utensil are suggested names; how to name it really should come from its creator. That's you. :)

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