He took his vorpal sword in hand
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 vorpal sword as we know it in fantasy role playing first appeared in D&D Supplement 1: Greyhawk (1975). It was basically a sword of sharpness on steroids that would decapitate you! Since then there has been numerous iterations of vorpal swords across many editions of Dungeons & Dragons.
|Greyhawk Page 47, 1975|
In the current Playtest material of 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons the weapon is still deadly:
Property [Attuned]: The weapon’s bonus to attack rolls and damage rolls increases to +3. Attacks you make using this weapon ignore resistance to slashing damage.
When the number you roll on the d20 for your attack roll using this weapon is 20, make another attack roll against the same target. If you hit again, the target takes an additional 6d8 damage. If the second attack roll is also an unmodified 20 and the target has 150 hit points or fewer, you lop off its head, killing it instantly. If the creature doesn’t have a head, you instead chop the creature in half, with the same lethal result.
I think the former is a fair modern interpretation but I probably will not be using it in my home brew campaign. To me the vorpal sword is one of those boogieman weapons that should be truer to its 1975 form. Instead my home brew version will read as follows:
Whenever you roll an unmodified 20 and the target has 150 hit points or fewer, you lop off its head, killing it instantly. If the creature doesn’t have a head, you instead chop the creature in half, with the same lethal result. If the target has more than 150 hit points it takes an additional 6d8 damage instead.
I never actually have given a non-epic level character a vorpal sword in my campaigns over the past thirty years. Swords of sharpness made the rounds in AD&D a few times and were very prized items. Many DM’s stay away from vorpal weapons for fear the BBEG will die in one lucky roll of the d20. I personally feel that if a player finds a vorpal weapon it should be of artifact quality and yes every BBEG should be scared of it! Likewise every player should still worry about that wayward and very hungry rust monster…
So what is your take on vorpal weapons and the snicker-snack of a natural 20?
|Vorpal Swords are no big deal!|