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I am going to look a gift horse in the mouth here, but I have never seen or heard of anyone activating a magic item which has weapon properties like flaming.

Flaming

Upon command, a flaming weapon is sheathed in fire that deals an extra 1d6 points of fire damage on a successful hit. The fire does not harm the wielder. The effect remains until another command is given.

Command

Activating a command word magic item is a standard action and does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

Does anyone ever turn their weapons off? Is it just okay to put a flaming sword back into the sheath, so that it's raring to go next time it's drawn?

I am interested in whether my interpretation of this is RAW or something the developers have explicitly confirmed as how these properties work.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I am not sure what to make of that final line; in any event it seems unclear to me now what exactly you want. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 12 '17 at 1:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ To expand on my confusion, it is just generally bad idea overall to use the term RAI. That means too many things to too many people (and too often means “my personal preference that I’m going to pretend is superior to others’ because it is clearly the intent”). I suggest you nix it altogether, and replace it with something clear like “... or something the developers have explicitly confirmed is how these properties work,” or something. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 12 '17 at 1:40
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From the main FAQ:

The flaming, frost, and shock weapon special abilities always have been command activated; the revision just clarified that.

Activating an energy power requires a standard action, but once you activate energy power, the power works until you use another action to deactivate it. You can activate or deactivate one of these powers on up to 50 pieces of ammunition at the same time, provided that all the ammunition is in your possession, all the ammunition is the same kind, and all the ammunition has the same power.

Any attack you make with an activated weapon deals energy damage to your foe if you hit—you don’t have to do anything special to deal energy damage with an activated weapon.

A burst weapon’s burst power is use activated and it works even when the weapon’s energy power is not activated (see the last sentence in each power’s description).

The energy from a flaming, frost, shock, flaming burst, icy burst, or shocking burst weapon never harms you while you’re wielding or carrying the activated weapon (see the power descriptions), and it will not harm your equipment. If you lose or set down an activated weapon, the energy it produces will harm other objects it touches, so it is best to deactivate it first.

Emphasis mine. So, it seems like once you activate it, you don't need to reactive it. And you can sheathe it normally since it doesn't harm your equipment. But, yes, you could turn it off if you want to be sneaky.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I had a feeling there was something like this out there, good job finding it. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 12 '17 at 2:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ The problem with that standard action is actually when you bestow flaming to a weapon using a special ability, not when the weapon is enchanted with flaming. Like when a magus or paladin enchants his weapon, you still need to spend a standard action to activate it the first time. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Jun 12 '17 at 2:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ "If you lose or set down an activated weapon, the energy it produces will harm other objects it touches." Really, Mr. FAQ? Seriously? So it's like dropping a lightsaber? Sigh. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jun 12 '17 at 9:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Another purpose of it is restricting parties from being able to activate it when they find it in a dungeon crawl, if noone invested in Spellcraft. It's niche, but you can't activate it if you don't determine the Command word (DC+10 iirc). \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Jun 12 '17 at 12:24
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I have never played with anyone who expected it to be necessary to worry about flaming weapons and the like; it was always just assumed that they got the damage when they were used.

My interpretation of the activation of the weapons is that this is just meant to explicitly demonstrate that you can turn it off, if you like, and indicates how (and indicates when you might have problems doing so, such as when trying to remain silent or forced to by silence or similar). But outside of weird corner-cases where someone was trying to do something tricky or there was a silence effect, the activation was simply ignored and the weapons just worked.

Certainly, if you had to spend a standard action to turn all of the effects on or off, it would behoove every warrior to just never, ever turn them off, even if it meant not sheathing them. Spending even one turn activating the effect would simply not be worth the damage bonus, which would strongly suggest that one simply should not ever get one if that’s how it works in a given campaign.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "Spending even one turn activating the effect would simply not be worth the damage bonus" [citation needed]. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Jun 12 '17 at 1:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ In cases of regeneration that one turn activation would be very worth the cost \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Jun 12 '17 at 1:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fering The cost of turning it on? Yes. But then you have to consider the cost of having bought it in the first place, which is astronomical when it’s often going unused (or better off going unused, as the case may be). In a sufficiently-themed campaign where you’re fighting only trolls? Maybe. But in general, no. And in any campaign, it’s a thoroughly unnecessary shafting of some of the weakest classes in the game. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 12 '17 at 1:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I agree it would vastly undervalue those features of weapons, but thats how my reading of the rules is saying this should be working \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Jun 12 '17 at 1:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fering But you asked if anyone does it that way; my answer is that, in my considerable but by no means universal experience, no one does, and absolutely no one should. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 12 '17 at 1:11
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As written, it requires a standard action to activate/deactivate.

While the flames do not hurt the wielder, it would be DM judgement if that extends to not burning your leather sheath or making your metal scabbard red hot.

Assuming your DM is not going to let you sheath it while it is 'on' you will have to spend a standard action to light it each time it is drawn. This is not a huge impost since it can probably be assumed that while you are 'on the job' you would have your weapon drawn and activated unless you were doing something that needs two hands. The limitation is probably only going to make itself felt if you unexpectedly enter combat in town or while travelling.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "if you unexpectedly enter combat in town or while travelling", so, when ambushed by bandits or generic minions of the current big bad or wandering monsters or mugged by thieves or targeted by the mafia or… \$\endgroup\$ – user17995 Jun 12 '17 at 2:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TuggyNE sure ... your point? \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Jun 12 '17 at 4:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ That it's actually not all that uncommon to have to draw a weapon, so "no big deal" isn't a terribly accurate summary of the purported impact. \$\endgroup\$ – user17995 Jun 12 '17 at 4:33

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