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I don't have the exact text, but I'm going to be running a Fey Warlock for an upcoming campaign. I remember this for Pact of the Blade at level 3: You may create your pact weapon in any form you wish, and you have proficiency with your weapon.

I don't have the exact wording, but I know that you can make a magical weapon your pact weapon by spending some time with it, which can be done as part of a short rest.

My question is:

Let's say the party finds a magical axe that let's say its a +1 axe. If I make that weapon my pact weapon, then I summon it: can I choose what form it comes in? For instance, taking a magical axe, making it my pact weapon, and then reforming it as, a rapier instead. Or finding a magical weapon with an elemental-alignment, and restructuring it into a weapon better suited for the character?

The only time I could think that you would consider trying this with the Pact of the Blade is if you're running a dex-based magical warrior, but it was an interesting idea that popped into my head. Does this work?

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The printed rules leave room for interpretation so your DM must rule it

You can use your action to create a pact weapon in your empty hand. You can choose the form that this melee weapon takes each time you create it (...) This weapon counts as magical for the purpose of overcoming resistance and immunity to damage. (PHB 107)

You can transform one magic weapon into your pact weapon by performing a special ritual while you hold the weapon. (...) You can then dismiss the weapon, shunting it to an extradimensional space, and it appears whenever you create your pact weapon thereafter. (PHB 108)

What the rules don't say is whether the transformed magic weapon holds its form or can also take a form chosen by the Warlock, and I can read the rules-as-written both ways.

  • The first paragraph refers to an otherwise nonexistent weapon, which can be shaped, whereas the second refers to an existent weapon which should keep its form, hence "it appears", "it" the weapon.

  • The first paragraph describes what happens to any weapon, nonexistent or existent which the Warlock summons, hence "it appears whenever you create", and "create" assumes "you can choose the form".

I don't think you can apply "specific beats general" here as there is no necessary contradiction between the specific and general rule.

I suppose the main idea of the second part of the rule is to allow you to have magical weapons that do extra cool stuff, and sometimes that might be tied to the specific form (for example, a Trident of Fish Command). But in any case, as is (for some frustratingly, for others liberatingly) frequent in D&D 5e your DM needs to rule this one.

Official ruling

If your table puts stock in official rulings, then the answer to this question is "you cannot change the form" (as pointed out in @DerekStucki's answer):

Once the bond is formed, the magic weapon appears whenever you call your pact weapon to you, and the intent is that you can’t change the magic weapon’s form when it appears. For example, if you bond with a flame tongue (longsword) and send the weapon to the feature’s extradimensional space, the weapon comes back as a longsword when you summon it. You don’t get to turn it into a club. Similarly, if you bond with a dagger of venom, you can’t summon it as a maul; it’s always a dagger. (Sage Advice Compendium, v1.14, p. 5)

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    \$\begingroup\$ There has been a ruling: Sage Advice Compendium v1.10, page 3, as quoted in this answer below. \$\endgroup\$ – anaximander Oct 3 '16 at 10:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @anaximander Thanks for pointing this out. It seems my accepted answer has been superseded by Sage Advice, so I guess I'll delete it and allow the OP to accept the Sage Advice-based answer. \$\endgroup\$ – harlandski Oct 4 '16 at 16:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @anaximander Huh, "You cannot delete this accepted answer." Any idea what I do now? \$\endgroup\$ – harlandski Oct 4 '16 at 16:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @harlandski - edit your answer, referencing the update and the answer that brought the correct information? \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Apr 28 '17 at 13:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, I have updated your answer with the updated information, feel free to revert if it goes against your intent. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose May 19 at 16:25
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The Sage Advice Compendium, v1.14, p. 5 says:

Once the bond is formed, the magic weapon appears whenever you call your pact weapon to you, and the intent is that you can’t change the magic weapon’s form when it appears. For example, if you bond with a flame tongue (longsword) and send the weapon to the feature’s extradimensional space, the weapon comes back as a longsword when you summon it. You don’t get to turn it into a club. Similarly, if you bond with a dagger of venom, you can’t summon it as a maul; it’s always a dagger.

Officially, you cannot change the form of your weapon.

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To borrow the information previously shared...

You can use your action to create a pact weapon in your empty hand. You can choose the form that this melee weapon takes each time you create it (...) This weapon counts as magical for the purpose of overcoming resistance and immunity to damage. (PHB 107)

You can transform one magic weapon into your pact weapon by performing a special ritual while you hold the weapon. (...) You can then dismiss the weapon, shunting it to an extradimensional space, and it appears whenever you create your pact weapon thereafter. (PHB 108)

The above implies very strongly that a magical weapon converted into a pact weapon reappears as whatever weapon it was prior to becoming a pact weapon based on one line;

You can then dismiss the weapon... it appears whenever you create your pact weapon thereafter.

It. Specifically "it". The weapon reappears as it was when it was pact bonded. This is a case of specific vs general;

  • Generally, you won't have a magic weapon you bonded with, and you can essentially cast a "Summon X" spell, where x is any weapon.
  • Specifically, when you DO have a magic weapon, you can bond with the weapon and use your "Summon X" weapon spell to get your bonded magical weapon.

The reason it reads as a specific vs general is because "a bonded magic weapon" replaces "no bonded magic weapon", changing the rules.

If they had intended to allow you to change the form of your magic weapon, they would have stated as such; That's an incredibly useful ability.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You might be right, but the thing that makes me wonder is that we assume the other parts of the general 'creation' rules are valid, namely "in your empty hand" and "you are proficient with it" so why not the form changing? I'm not suggesting that the shape-choosing reading means you can choose any magic weapon by the way, just that you could have a +1 club instead of a +1 sword or whatever. I've tweeted Jeremy Crawford about it, and though he didn't reply I hope he's going to give some Sage Advice about weapons soon. Anyway your argumentation is thorough so you get my upvote. \$\endgroup\$ – harlandski Apr 20 '15 at 17:08
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I would say it changes to whatever you want it to be, per two parts of the ability from the PHB:

You can transform one magic weapon into your pact weapon by performing a special ritual while you hold the weapon.

The weapon is "transformed" into your pact weapon, which per PHB definition of a pact weapon, you choose the form of your pact weapon. Whatever form it previously had, it is no longer that as it was "transformed" into your pact weapon.

Second part from the PHB builds off the first part. You can transform "one magic weapon." Note it doesn't say "one melee magic weapon." Per the RAW, you could transform a magic bow into your pact weapon. However, the PHB also says "You can choose the form that this melee weapon takes each time you create it." So you can make a magic bow your pact weapon, but whenever you summon it, it has to be a melee weapon.

Thereform, if this second part is true per RAW (which it is), then you'd also be able to transform a longsword into your pact weapon and then summon it as a whip or whatever other melee weapon you so desired.

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Wizards of the Coast's "Sage Advice" column answered this very question in the April 2016 article.

You can also use Pact of the Blade to bond with a magic weapon, turning it into your pact weapon. This magic weapon doesn’t have to be a melee weapon, so you could use the feature on a +1 longbow, for instance. Once the bond is formed, the magic weapon appears whenever you call your pact weapon to you, and the intent is that you can’t change the magic weapon’s form when it appears. For example, if you bond with a flame tongue (longsword) and send the weapon to the feature’s extradimensional space, the weapon comes back as a longsword when you summon it. You don’t get to turn it into a club. Similarly, if you bond with a dagger of venom, you can’t summon it as a maul; it’s always a dagger.

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The way I read it, based on the wording in the PHB is this:

The third paragraph states that you can "transform one magic weapon into your pact weapon". Transform means to change structurally. So point 1 for the mutability of a magical pact weapon.

It never states that you summon a pact weapon, you always create one. When you create, you "choose the form that this melee weapon takes". Point 2 for the mutability of a magical pact weapon.

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The specific wording of

You can use your action to create a pact weapon in your empty hand. You can choose the form that this melee weapon takes each time you create it

Should overrule the general wording of

You can then dismiss the weapon, shunting it to an extra-dimensional space, and it appears whenever you create your pact weapon thereafter.

"it" being either a reference to the magic weapon or the Pact Weapon, which can take on any form of weapon you choose (especially with Improved Pact Weapon). So by the rules of 5e, you could do it. However...

Sage Advice, the rules editing body of WotC, made ruling on this subject and says that you can't do this. Here is that ruling:

The warlock’s Pact of the Blade feature (PH, 107–8) lets you create a melee weapon out of nothing. Whenever you do so, you determine the weapon’s form, choosing from the melee weapon options in the Weapons table in the Player’s Handbook (p. 149). For example, you can create a greataxe, and then use the feature again to create a javelin, which causes the greataxe to disappear. You can also use Pact of the Blade to bond with a magic weapon, turning it into your pact weapon. This magic weapon doesn’t have to be a melee weapon, so you could use the feature on a +1 longbow, for instance. Once the bond is formed, the magic weapon appears whenever you call your pact weapon to you, and the intent is that you can’t change the magic weapon’s form when it appears. For example, if you bond with a flame tongue (longsword) and send the weapon to the feature’s extra-dimensional space, the weapon comes back as a longsword when you summon it. You don’t get to turn it into a club. Similarly, if you bond with a dagger of venom, you can’t summon it as a maul; it’s always a dagger.

As both a player and a DM with over 4 decades of playing under his belt, both D&D and many other systems, I would disregard this! This ruling does nothing except stop players from adding flavor to the role-playing aspect of the game and making the game more fun. In all of the games I know of, it has next to zero effect on game mechanics, but allow players to have some fun with their Blade Pact Warlocks. Some have noted that it changes the type of damage, but if you look at the listings in the MM, all three are grouped together 99% of the time, as all 3 are resisted unless they are magical weapons. The 1/2 dozen that actually specify one type are very rare, and since it takes a full round to change the weapon into another form, the penalty is that the Bladelock will loose an additional turn before acting, which more than balances out the 6 or so times it is relevant.

There is nothing wrong with a Maul of Fish Command, a Whip of Venom or a Holy Avenger Morning Star!

The original argument was to keep Warlocks from wielding "great" weapons as their pact weapons when they didn't have the proficiency to do so, but with the Improved Pact Weapon and the Hexblade Patron, they can form "great" weapons as pact weapons, but also bows as pact weapons too. So the original argument has been wiped out by an Invocation and/or a Patron. The only thing this restriction does is take away role-playing flavor. I hope they will see the error of their ways and reverse the ruling in a future update of the Compendium.

Exception: If you have a DM who revels in giving magic items to the party they can't use, or deliberately giving weapons that don't fit the player's vision of their character, then, yes, this does throw a monkey-wrench in the works for those types of DMs! In those cases, I wish they would reverse the ruling, specifically because doing so is far better for role-playing aspect, the very basis of the game, but it would also have a positive impact, improving the games where the players are at a table with that DMing style!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "'Stalin-type' DM" and "poor DMing style" are both phrases are inflammatory towards a certain playstyle. We strive to embrace all playstyles here so I would advise refraining from such in the future. I have already edited to fix that up. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose May 17 at 16:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ I also absolutely think you are missing a huge aspect to this: changing the form of the weapon inherently changes the mechanics of it as well (eg changing it to a weapon with different properties) unless you restrict the changes to only cosmetic differences. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose May 17 at 17:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ Please note that I have reverted your edit. That kind of tone in your answer runs afoul of several of our Community guidelines (including our Be Nice policy as well as the aforementioned policy of being accepting of varied playstyles). \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose May 17 at 17:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ This post has been temporarily locked. Do not revert back to including disparaging or insulting commentary. It is not welcome here. Other users editing it out of your post have been correct in doing so, and it is the community's expectation that it remains gone. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener May 17 at 21:56

protected by doppelgreener Dec 31 '17 at 3:25

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