GREAT HEROES DEMAND LEGENDARY WEAPONS
Some heroes find weapons of legacy, while others forge them. Unlike other magic items, a weapon of legacy gains new abilities as its wielder becomes more powerful. In the hands of a true hero, a simple sword might achieve fame and power as great as that of the dark blade Exordius, the wizard-hating Hammer of Witches, or the skull-shattering morningstar known as Mindsplinter.
This supplement for the D&D game describes nearly 50 items of legacy. Each item has its own character, a detailed history, special wielder requirements, unique powers, and adventure seeds. Weapons of Legacy provides rules and tools for players and DMs to forge new items of legacy for their characters or campaigns, along with new legacy feats, spells, a prestige class, and psionic powers for characters interested in wielding mythic weapons and other items of power.
To use this supplement, a Dungeon Master also needs the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual. A player needs only the Player’s Handbook.
Weapons of Legacy (2005), by Bruce R. Cordell, Kolja Raven Liquette, and Travis Stout, is a D&D 3.5 supplement providing a system for magic items that grow in power along with the wielder. It's full of great ideas and solid rules, providing the tools for DMs to create legendary magic for use in their own campaign.
Beyond the +1 Longsword. Every DM has wanted to give his or her heroes a really remarkable item of power. The challenge, of course, is that most D&D magic items aren't gated by the character's level – so, give a low-level hero a powerful magical staff, and he'll be blowing up even your best-conceived enemies with fireballs in no time flat.
Traditionally, providing an item whose power gradually unlocks has been a great idea with limited rules support. This is an area where D&D has always been at odds with the fantasy literature that inspires and influences the game. In the stories we love, it isn't uncommon for swords and magic rings to gradually reveal their true power as the owner gains in prowess or understanding. Even the One Ring grew in malign power as Sauron grew in strength and as Frodo approached Mordor. Some DMs find it a bit odd for a hero to discard or sell the magical sword that was once her mother's, just because she can use the money to buy a snazzier sword at the local magic item shop. It makes sense for game balance, but it's hell on story.
Legacy weapons are one solution, and it's an interesting one. By linking an item's power to the strength and experience of its wielder, the item can grow in abilities alongside the person using it. Now you can give a magnificently powerful magic axe to the minotaur king, knowing that all of its power won't immediately unlock for the first hero who claims it from the minotaur's corpse. Weapons of Legacy provides rules and guidelines for this, along with a number of sample legacy items.
The Tradeoff for Power. Nothing comes without a cost. Working within the pre-established D&D economy, Weapons of Legacy uses several techniques to balance the benefits that come from a weapon that automatically becomes more powerful as the game goes on. One method is money, as you'd expect: Donations, ritual incense, and other sacrifices drain gold from the hero in order to raise the weapon's abilities. Other sacrifices strike closer to home. Heroes may need to take certain penalties in exchange for the weapon's power; like Elric continually battling with Stormbringer; or characters may suffer penalties to saving throws, attack bonuses, defenses, and the like.
Quite correctly, this method skews Weapons of Legacy toward solid game balance, even as it might detract slightly from player excitement; when you're looking for a magnificent and legendary weapon, suffering some ill effects for using it may be a tough sell. As a DM, I still much prefer this method, though, for it's simple to house rule away in whole or in part. Considering how flavorful and useful some legendary weapons can be, it's simple for a DM to adjust each on the fly. Even better, follow the rules as written and you'll keep game balance steady.
Excalibur Awaits. Magic items are my favorite part of D&D, and Weapons of Legacy allows them far more flexibility for evolving with the hero's own growth. Whether you use the book as written or adapt it for your own 3e/3.5e campaign, the ideas here work beautifully in play.
About the Creators. Bruce Cordell is the author of several Forgotten Realms novels. An Origins and ENnie award-winning game designer with a sizeable list of professional credits, he's just moved from D&D Next to designing for Monte Cook Games.
Kolja Raven Liquette is best known for authoring the Waking Lands web site and has published articles in Dragon Magazine.
Travis Stout is a freelance designer whose design credits include Lost Empires of Faerûn and the Player's Guide to Faerûn.
About the Product Historian
History and commentary of this product was written by Kevin Kulp, game designer and admin of the independent D&D fansite ENWorld. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to email@example.com.