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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.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ "when the corpse would be examined, no wounds except the victims hand having been stabbed with a fork would have been found" Not even the lack of a head? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 17:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ In the original post that was a question asked and unanswered. My guess is no lack of head, a vorpal sword being a sword is actually capable of such a feat, a Vorpal Fork being a fork would not be \$\endgroup\$
    – KDodge
    Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 17:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ The main problem with answering this question is that creating new magic items in D&D 5E is solely the domain of the DM. They are given some loose guidelines on how it should work...but the process is not nearly as codified as it was in, say, 3.5E that had a Build Your Own model for creating magic items, where listed 'traits' had a cost, and you could just start stacking them together to create Weapons of the Apocalypse. Thus, I'm hard pressed to come up with an answer besides "It's Homebrew. Do Whatever." \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 17:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ And, fwiw, from 3.5E (can't make this an Answer, because it's the wrong edition)... "A weapon with a special ability must have at least a +1 enhancement bonus." and also "A vorpal weapon must be a slashing weapon." These traits were enchantments specific to weapons and only weapons, they had to be at least a +1 weapon, and Vorpal could only be applied to slashing weapons. Both from the link I added above. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 17:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KaleDodge since this is now your question, you should really know the answer to this. How is this vorpal fork murder actually supposed to work? I don't get it at all. Note that when reasking a question you need to make sure that you understand all of what you write in it. Make it your own, no need to keep confusing aspects from old closed versions that you can't answer for. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 17:40

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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.
{snip}
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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    \$\begingroup\$ "The Last Utensil." Oh, bravo. Have some Fake Internet Points. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 18:50
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As a DM? Sure

Pg284 of the Dungeon Master's Guide gives some guidance on creating magic items. Under "Modifying an Item", it gives the example of changing a Holy Avenger from a sword to a flail. It's a very similar process to create a Vorpal Fork, however you decide to resolve the confusion around decapitation.

As a Player? Not So Much

You ask about enchantments that can be applied to other weapons. This is, effectively, what a lot of magic weapon descriptions are: templates that can be applied to some set of weapons. There are rules for magic item crafting in a couple of different places, but they all fundamentally rely on the magic items that exist in published books, rather than providing any kind of freeform creation guidelines beyond "work with your GM".

Some items, such as the Weapon of Warning, specify as their type "Weapon (any)", meaning a Fork of Warning is a very plausible item one could create*. Vorpal Sword, on the other hand, specifies "Weapon (any sword that deals slashing damage)" - two criteria that a fork does not meet. Hence, no Vorpal Fork for you.

*: Assuming your GM is okay with a fork counting as a weapon

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After examining the vorpal sword (in the DMG, p. 209) I would say that yes, what makes a vorpal sword is that the sword is question has an enchantment that has been placed on it.

My logic as to why is the following: The vorpal sword description specifically states:

Weapon (any sword that deals slashing damage), legendary (requires attunement)

Based off of that we can first determine that it is not the physical weapon that is important due to it stating "Any sword" with the only restriction being that the sword must deal slashing damage. So far we can determine that there is an enchantment that can be placed on any sword that deals slashing damage.

So since we now know we are dealing with an enchantment, let's identify what this enchantment does

  1. +3 to ATK and damage rolls

  2. Ignores resistance to slashing damage the target may or may not have

  3. Decapitation on a successful hit unless the following: The creature is immune to slashing damage OR doesn’t have or need a head OR the target has legendary actions OR the DM says the target has too big of a head.

  4. If that decapitation does not occur as a result of a hit the target instead takes an extra 6d8 slashing from the hit

Now back to the DMG p. 284 this time. Under "Modifying an Item", the very first thing that is stated is "The easiest way to invent a new item is to tweak an existing one." It goes on to discuss the option of using substitutions and fusing it with properties of another item. Unless the magic in your world is strict and experimentation with magic is not possible within the functionality of your magic system, the enchantment that makes the vorpal sword possible would be able to be altered.

Using a Vorpal Enchantment on a fork as described in the question, this is what I would propose the enchantment would do

  1. +3 to ATK and damage rolls. When attempting to make your victim unaware of your attempt, instead of rolling an ATK roll roll a sleight of hand check against the victims Passive Perception.

  2. Ignores resistances to piercing damage the target may or may not have

  3. Pain overwhelms the creature sending it into shock, falling prone and dies in 1d4-1 minutes unless magic is used to negate the pain and release the creature from shock on a hit unless the creature is immune to piercing damage, OR the target has legendary actions OR the creature does not need its physical form to continue living

  4. In the event the creature is not initially sent into shock and does not fall prone from the hit, the target instead takes 6d8 piercing damage

I have messed with this enchantment in the past (vorpal arrows are not fun), but as in all things it is up to DM discretion whether or not this is possible in the world the players are playing in and what would be required to go about achieving this.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure this is asking or answering anything other than "Can I homebrew a deadly magical fork?". With the answer of "Yes, you can homebrew anything you like". \$\endgroup\$
    – PJRZ
    Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 17:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ The original person to ask the question appeared to be asking about not about homebrew but more the nature of enchantments on magic items specifically Vorpal sword, wanting to know if the enchantment in question could be altered within the limitations of the system. Again this is just my interpretation of it with referencing the DMG. \$\endgroup\$
    – KDodge
    Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 17:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't see how you go from "Weapon (Any sword that deals slashing damage)" to "Object (anything that could deal damage)" \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 17:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ It still needs to be a sword according to the rules provided in the DMG. It states Any Sword, not Any Object. \$\endgroup\$
    – illustro
    Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 17:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ If it does not cut off the head as a special magical effect, how is it a vorpal weapon? You are invited to take a look at vorpal's original usage here. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 17:36

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