Is there any information on what material a Silver Sword (as described in many entries on the Githyanki) is made of, or how to craft one of these?

I want to add some lore around these items for my players and want to build on whatever exists.

I'm specifically interested in 5e-related material, but I will take anything that exists.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What is your reason for wanting this? What I'm getting at is: if you can't find "the answer", would there be another item that could substitute? or is this purely a theoretical discussion? \$\endgroup\$ – goodguy5 Mar 1 '18 at 4:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is it your intention to be able to make a recipe/formula/components list so that one of your characters can craft one/ \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Mar 1 '18 at 15:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ One of my characters is playing a Githyanki and his backstory / background involves the traditional hatred of anyone or anything that has access to a Silver Sword that should not have one. So, my plan to motivate his character is to provide evidence that the BBG has the raw special material necessary to craft one. And, perhaps, some clues that he also has the recipe, but that's not totally necessary. I thought some info on how one gets crafted would include something about the material itself. I'm not going to ACTUALLY craft one, though I very well may add that later for some cool factor. \$\endgroup\$ – highbandwidth Mar 1 '18 at 20:40

For lore, we need to look to earlier editions of the game.

According to Polyhedron #159 (2003), the special ability of the silver sword is a powerful magical enhancement, not a property of the weapon's material. The creator must be a githyanki spellcaster of at least 12th level. Whatever special technique allows their creation is either a secret to the githyanki or a power limited to them, and all but a handful of radical separatists are unwaveringly loyal to the Lich-Queen, the ultimate ruler of their race.

The same source also warns that the githyanki have specialist hunters called sword stalkers, warrior-mages who track down stolen silver swords. They even have their own ten-level prestige class. Silver swords are only ever presented by the Lich-Queen to her high ranking knights.

Silver swords actually vary considerably in power. The most powerful +5 vorpal silver swords are described as minor artifacts, which can no longer be created, even by the Lich-Queen herself; these rare weapons pre-date her rise to power.

The adventure Seekers of the Silver Forge, appearing in Dungeon #125 (2005), is the best source of information on the exact creation process of the silver swords. It takes place in the underwater ruins of Kamyn-Dhun, a githyanki astral city which escaped to the material plane, and was once known to produce the finest silver swords.

According to this adventure, the silver swords are initially produced by githyanki smiths in massive forges, seemingly by mundane methods. The resulting weapons are silvered, though not yet infused with their famous magical properties at this stage.

Next, they are purified and prepared in a special chamber engraved with hundreds of silver runes, which contains a silver and stone sword stand. This purification ritual requires 24 hours of uninterrupted meditation. This is much easier when you're a githyanki on the astral plane and have no need to sleep.

The base weapons are then infused with their magical properties in a massive psionic foundry known as the Silver Forge. This process requires a powerful spellcaster and takes several days. The forge's source of power is psionic energy stolen from unwilling captives who are kept chained nearby.

The materials used to craft the swords are described, though not named specifically, only to say that they are of excellent quality and can be used to create magic silvered weapons. It's unspecified whether these materials are special to the astral plane or also available on the material plane. Surviving githyanki cities in the astral plane are still readily able to find this material to craft silver swords, and we know from the existence of astral driftmetal that the githyanki do mine islands of solid matter floating in the astral plane.

According to the 4th edition source Dragon #377, silver swords are hand-crafted by the githyanki Lich-Queen Vlaakith herself. This not entirely consistent with her 3rd edition statistics (Dragon #100) which show that while she can create rings and wondrous items, she cannot create magic weapons, nor does she have any skill in blacksmithing. She can use wish to create a silver sword, but the cost of doing so is prohibitively expensive compared to the Silver Forges. However, it is implied that the Vlaakith of 4th edition is a different, later Vlaakith, so her abilities may be different.

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With the release of Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, the Greater Silver Sword (MToF, pg. 89) made its appearance as an official magic item for D&D 5E.

One of the books to present guidelines for magic items crafting is the Dungeon Master's Guide (pgs. 128–129). The second paragraph of the Crafting a Magic Item section says:

To start, a character must have a formula that describes the construction of the item. Their character must also be a spellcaster with spell slots and must be able to cast any spells that the item can produce. Moreover, the character must meet a level minimum determined by the item's rarity as shown in the Crafting Magic Items table.

The following paragraph states this important information as well:

You can decide that certain items also require special materials or locations to be created.

Since the Greater Silver Sword is a legendary item, it would cost 500.000 gp (20.000 days of work if working alone) and it requires the creator to have a minimum level of 17th. The item also requires attunement of a "creature that has psionic ability". My suggestion is that a powerful githyanki (no need to be a spellcaster, but a psionic) could create it by using psionic-infused silver and smith's tools.

The Xanathar's Guide to Everything also provides guidelines for magic item crafting (pgs. 128–129), with different requirements and costs.

Since it is a weapon, the characters involved would need to be proficient with smith's tools. XGtE also says the characters need the formula/recipe to create the sword, and since it is a legendary magic item, they would need to gather the exotic materials for its craft by beating CR 19+ creatures. The Illithilich, from Volo's Guide to Monsters is a possible target for psionic-infused materials while ancient dragons and other hoarding creatures can be the source of the silver.

Using those guideline, the time to craft it is 50 workweeks (when working alone), and along the materials, the characters would need to fulfill a cost of 100.000 gp for "covering other materials, tools, and so on, based on the item's rarity".

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is that literally 20 THOUSAND days of work your citing if working alone? \$\endgroup\$ – highbandwidth Dec 31 '18 at 3:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @highbandwidth The DMG states: "A character engaged in the crafting of a magic item makes progress in 25 gp increments, paying that amount for each day of work until the total cost is paid". 500.000 divided by 25 is 20.000, so yes \$\endgroup\$ – Kuerten Dec 31 '18 at 3:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @highbandwidth The Xanathar's Guide ruling is much better, I think. 50 weeks is still a long time, but it is 57 times faster than the original ruling of the DMG. \$\endgroup\$ – Kuerten Dec 31 '18 at 3:42

The Psionics Handbook (for 3rd edition) gives details of the game stats of their creation, but not the materials or actual process:

Manifester Level: 11th; Prerequisites: Craft Psionic Arms and Armor, creator must be a githyanki; Market Price: 98,350 gp; Cost to Create: 49,000 gp + 3920 XP.

(Obviously these are 3e stats, and use psionics. You will need to home-brew any 5e solution)

It describes what the swords look like, but not what they are made of:

...when drawn in melee, the blade transforms into a column of silvery liquid...

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