D&D 5E Disintegrate and power word kill IN SWORDS

so last year I gave my party 2 powerful items (Speed Metal and Death Metal see spoiler) and I had a player say that death metal (based on PW kill) was WAY too powerful. However in the spell jammer adventure (pre adventure?) on beyond they introduced a new sword item that seems to be in the same spirt, a sword of disintegration (see spoiler).

In theory these are VERY powerful spells to build into swords, but I wonder are they really?

so this +1 short sword had to be attuned, and once it was you got access to a charge using power (but it resets to 0 charges when attuned to a new person) and an always on ability.
Always on, at the end of a round that death metal does damage, any creature damaged that has less then 3xyour current HD hp dies.
any creature killed (by damage or effect) by death metal nets it one charge up to a max of your prof + cha mod.
You can as an action spend a charge to release a burst of necrotic energy. Everything in 10ft of you takes 1d10 necrotic damage and makes a Con save dc 13 for half damage... this counts as damaging a target for always on ability

These long swords Don't have a +1, BUT if they reduce a target to 0hp they turn to dust.

This short sword requires attunement and doesn't have a +1. It does however have an activatable ability that triggers anytime you make 2 or more attacks with it in the same turn. As no action you get a bonus attack that is at disadvantage, if it hits you ONLY deal 1d6 damage no bonus, however if it hits you get to make another attack at disadvantage on and on to a max of your prof# of bonus disadvantage attacks


Now the same player that was a duel short sword wielding rogue (assassin) 3/Ranger (gloom stalker) 3 the two I made up (and he stole from an evil bard hence the names) had not only been unhappy that he could make so many attacks, but even more unhappy with the 'kill things auto that after he hits has 18 or less hp' I tried to explain that at most that was ending the fight 1 action or round sooner, and even at 20th level if he spent no HD it would only be 60hp or less and by that level the party should throw that in a round easy.

So he has quit my game saying we are not a good fit, but we remained friends. I asked him the other day about the disintegrate effect and he told me "That sounds like one of your overpowered items"

am I just a WAY bad judge of power level, because none of this seems that outlandish to me (but my two short swords came into a 6th level game, the WotC disintegrate sword can come in at a level 1 adventure)
 

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I like those.
The SPell Jammer Swords can be adapted to be a very useful assassin, hitman weapon.

The death metal is cool. The power could be base on remaining hit points to trigger more often.

The speed metal may produce many rolls, that may be boring on the long run.

We can imagine smite effects for weapon. like: Once per day on a hit you deal 10d6 extra necrotic damage. The extra damage and the time per day can be adjust according to level and play style.
 

I like those.
The SPell Jammer Swords can be adapted to be a very useful assassin, hitman weapon.
that was my first thought as well
The death metal is cool. The power could be base on remaining hit points to trigger more often.
yeah, that's what it is your current HDx3 compared to the current HP at the end of your turn in the round
The speed metal may produce many rolls, that may be boring on the long run.
yeah I had that feel too... but I figured with the disadvantage you would either need to be fighting low AC monster minions or get real lucky to get a lot, and either way I figure "I hit, Ihit again, I hit again" would be exciting at the table
We can imagine smite effects for weapon. like: Once per day on a hit you deal 10d6 extra necrotic damage. The extra damage and the time per day can be adjust according to level and play style.
yeah that could be cool too
 

the Jester

Legend
Killing someone who still has hit points is far more powerful than reducing a body at 0 hps to dust. I don't think it's a very good comparison. Your Death Metal sword is very powerful, especially in the hands of a higher level pc (20th level means insta kill on anything with 60 hps or less). It's pretty unbalanced by the standard 5e paradigm; however, many home games' balance assumptions are very different, so it's hard to judge in its own right without being in that game.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
So he has quit my game saying we are not a good fit, but we remained friends. I asked him the other day about the disintegrate effect and he told me "That sounds like one of your overpowered items"
Was he thinking that it also inflicted additional damage akin to the disintegrate spell? Because based on your description, all it's really good for is cleaning things up in a fight, leaving no evidence behind, and, probably most strongly, keeping any power based on going past 0 hp from working and keeping enemies from returning to the fight via healing (and let's be frank, how often does that happen for NPCs/monsters)?
 

Your Death Metal sword is very powerful, especially in the hands of a higher level pc (20th level means insta kill on anything with 60 hps or less).
well 1st I didn't plan on the game getting above 15th level (and it only made it to 11th by the last fight 12th by last session) and again, I don't know that killing something at 60hp or less is really that powerful, it at most is cutting 1 last round off the fight.

and in the game we often spend a few HD so the later in the 'day' we are the less powerful it is.
 

Was he thinking that it also inflicted additional damage akin to the disintegrate spell? Because based on your description, all it's really good for is cleaning things up in a fight, leaving no evidence behind, and, probably most strongly, keeping any power based on going past 0 hp from working and keeping enemies from returning to the fight via healing (and let's be frank, how often does that happen for NPCs/monsters)?
no he knew you had to bring to 0 on base damage....
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
I see why we call you "GMforPowerGamers" now!

To answer your question, they ARE absolutely way OP, but not game breakers, really. I'm kinda shocked that your player found them a problem - IME players generally give little thought to power, or just plain love it (when it's given to them, not monsters!) Was your player also a DM? That would make more sense to me.
 

the Jester

Legend
well 1st I didn't plan on the game getting above 15th level (and it only made it to 11th by the last fight 12th by last session) and again, I don't know that killing something at 60hp or less is really that powerful, it at most is cutting 1 last round off the fight.
I mean... +60 to damage sounds pretty good to me. And there's no comparison to an effect that happens after you hit 0, in my eyes.

But like I said, depends on the campaign environment. Super powerful magic items are super cool, if the campaign won't break under their weight. I have quite a few in my game, even if they mostly aren't in the hands of pcs. I mean, I have a ring that lets an attuned spellcaster cast each prepared spell of a given school once without using a spell slot. That is, by any normal measure, utterly broken.
 


I see why we call you "GMforPowerGamers" now!
yup... although the 2 players I took this name for all those years ago have moved so I nolonger have THOSE power gamers
To answer your question, they ARE absolutely way OP, but not game breakers, really. I'm kinda shocked that your player found them a problem - IME players generally give little thought to power, or just plain love it (when it's given to them, not monsters!) Was your player also a DM? That would make more sense to me.
yeah all my players are DMs... the one in question this was his first campaign with me and when He started toward the assassin/gloomstalker if anything I figured he would be the biggest power gamer (or at least most proficient) at the table but he wasn't. Now don't get me wrong he was powerful but he also RPed well, I actually thought he would be a good fit. Until he chafed under this...

Now they had to beat a Bard that was controlling/holding hostage a town in the mountains with Geas, charm/dominate effects and threats of force.

he first asked if anyone else wanted them (even though he was only one fighting with any short swords let alone 2) and then was reluctant to take them. After 3 sessions (with not 1 speed metal attack being successful yet I might add) he went to 4th level ranger then 5th so he could take 2 attacks with speed metal every round not just gloom stalker bonus 1st round.

He kept charging head first into things (he kind of was before that) as if he had a death wish, and when he charged past everyone and started a 2nd fight while 1st one was still going he died... and when the divine soul sorcerer got over and cast revivify (easting 2 attacks of op and useing full round I might add) he said his soul doesn't come back he had a new idea he wanted to bring in... the next session he insisted he come in 1 level lower then party (even though we explained over and over again we do group xp) but he did relent to being equal level as long as he could come in with no items (not no magic items, naked... no anything) He played the only Champion fighter I have ever seen played for any amount of time (Not withstanding multiclass) and was a warforged fighter covered in rust who took -4 to his dex and -2 to his con (we use array) and started with high cha and wis okay str and pitiful dex con and int... then refused to use action surge. When the campaign ended he said we were not compatable... I have a thread about it, he said "We are too much problem solvers, not role players"
 

I think the vorpal sword is the upper limit to how powerful 5E swords should be, unless you're going beyond level 20.

Basic rules said:
Vorpal Sword
Weapon (any sword that deals slashing damage), legendary (requires attunement)

You gain a +3 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon. In addition, the weapon ignores resistance to slashing damage.

When you attack a creature that has at least one head with this weapon and roll a 20 on the attack roll, you cut off one of the creature’s heads. The creature dies if it can’t survive without the lost head. A creature is immune to this effect if it is immune to slashing damage, doesn’t have or need a head, has legendary actions, or the DM decides that the creature is too big for its head to be cut off with this weapon. Such a creature instead takes an extra 6d8 slashing damage from the hit.
That's a great weapon, but its power is largely out of the players' hands. It only has a 5% chance of firing and even then, there are enemies that will not be instantly slain by it.

Death Metal is dramatically better than a vorpal sword, as it fires potentially every attack and the higher hit points the wielder has, the more likely it is to kill an NPC instantly. The fact that it will eventually run out of charges doesn't mean as much when you've killed everyone in the room in a single multi-attack round.

I would absolutely rework Speed Metal and Death Metal (fantastic names, btw) to work almost identically to the vorpal sword, just with necrotic damage and haste effects.
 
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FitzTheRuke

Legend
yup... although the 2 players I took this name for all those years ago have moved so I nolonger have THOSE power gamers

yeah all my players are DMs... the one in question this was his first campaign with me and when He started toward the assassin/gloomstalker if anything I figured he would be the biggest power gamer (or at least most proficient) at the table but he wasn't. Now don't get me wrong he was powerful but he also RPed well, I actually thought he would be a good fit. Until he chafed under this...

Now they had to beat a Bard that was controlling/holding hostage a town in the mountains with Geas, charm/dominate effects and threats of force.

he first asked if anyone else wanted them (even though he was only one fighting with any short swords let alone 2) and then was reluctant to take them. After 3 sessions (with not 1 speed metal attack being successful yet I might add) he went to 4th level ranger then 5th so he could take 2 attacks with speed metal every round not just gloom stalker bonus 1st round.

He kept charging head first into things (he kind of was before that) as if he had a death wish, and when he charged past everyone and started a 2nd fight while 1st one was still going he died... and when the divine soul sorcerer got over and cast revivify (easting 2 attacks of op and useing full round I might add) he said his soul doesn't come back he had a new idea he wanted to bring in... the next session he insisted he come in 1 level lower then party (even though we explained over and over again we do group xp) but he did relent to being equal level as long as he could come in with no items (not no magic items, naked... no anything) He played the only Champion fighter I have ever seen played for any amount of time (Not withstanding multiclass) and was a warforged fighter covered in rust who took -4 to his dex and -2 to his con (we use array) and started with high cha and wis okay str and pitiful dex con and int... then refused to use action surge. When the campaign ended he said we were not compatable... I have a thread about it, he said "We are too much problem solvers, not role players"
Sounds like a DM that can't let go of how "(he) would do it" to play in other people's games, unless they are nearly identical in style.

In addition, (I've played with a few people over the years like this), he seems like one of those people who thinks that a character needs to be nerfed to be really good for "roleplaying". I mean, I agree that sometimes it's fun to play your character's flaws, but it's no less RP to play your character's strengths.

As an aside (back to the original subject), I'd probably limit Speed Metal's extra attacks to one more after the first disadvantage attack hits. It could theoretically get crazy with some luck. My main thought here would be to the other players having to sit through that player's turn. The one with Speed Metal would probably have fun, but I dunno about the other players.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Let me get this straight. The player's problem was, "DM, you gave me a sword that's way too powerful, and I simply can't have fun by volunteering to use it and proceeding to cut through foes even though my character could really use any other weapon?"
 

OK, I was thinking about Speed Metal while I was out running errands (sending books I don't use any longer to Noble Knight in return for store credit, in fact). I'd make it work more like a vorpal sword while also feeling more speedy:
Speed Metal
Unique, weapon (any weapon that deals slashing damage), legendary (requires attunement)

You gain a +3 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon.

When you attack roll a 20 on the attack roll, you immediately get another attack roll with this same action. If you hit with this next roll, you can roll again. You can continue rolling additional attack rolls until you miss or until your target dies.
Now, this may do less than 6d8 damage, but it could also do effectively infinite damage in a single action. It also gives the player the fun of doing eight or nine slashes at once. I haven't crunched the numbers yet, but I suspect this is slightly less powerful overall than a vorpal sword but it has a comparable amount of fun in that it's a special effect that, to my knowledge, hasn't been done in D&D prior to this.

Also, both of these swords definitely need to play a burst of music when they're swung.
 

OK, the second one here is on even shakier ground, and if someone really adept with D&D math could check it, I'd greatly appreciate it.
Pyre Blade
Weapon (any sword), rare (requires attunement)
You can use a bonus action to speak this magic sword's command word, causing black flames to erupt from the blade. These flames shed an unholy dark light in a 40-foot radius and dim light for an additional 40 feet. While the sword is ablaze, it deals an extra 2d6 necrotic damage to any target it hits. The flames last until you use a bonus action to speak the command word again or until you drop or sheathe the sword.

Death Metal
Unique, weapon (any weapon that deals slashing damage), legendary (requires attunement)

Death Metal is a unique Pyre Blade, and has the same properties as one: You can use a bonus action to speak this magic sword's command word, causing black flames to erupt from the blade. These flames shed an unholy dark light in a 40-foot radius and dim light for an additional 40 feet. While the sword is ablaze, it deals an extra 2d6 necrotic damage to any target it hits. The flames last until you use a bonus action to speak the command word again or until you drop or sheathe the sword.

In addition, you gain a +3 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon.

When you attack roll a 20 on the attack roll, you immediately sacrifice all your unused hit dice and do that much necrotic damage to your opponent. You recover your hit dice through the normal means.
So, again, Death Metal is capable of killing truly epic opponents, but in a very flavorful way. I personally think messing with necrotic energy and death metal should both feel a little dangerous, so the sword stealing both your life force and that of your opponent at the same time feels sufficiently epic and metal to me.

No slight intended with these suggested weapons, but I'm big into unique magical effects. I'm gearing up to send my players into a dungeon full of magical items, many of them cursed or with a double-edged nature, so this is where my head is at right now.
 

Weird (your player's response) but enjoyable discussion. Putting together a few powerful magic weapons for a book I am working on for epic/immortal characters, it was fun to see here powerful items scaled down to fit the lower levels. The 3 x HD mechanic on Death Metal was especially cool (I'd stick with that).

Personally I think all the weapons are fine but might benefit from some streamlining. Also if you make everything duplicate the vorpal mechanic of "on a 20" then I think items become a bit 'samey'.

Quickness (Weapon Ability): Target gains a 'free' extra attack with disadvantage...if that hits it gets another attack with double disadvantage (roll three d20, take worst) ...if that hits it gets another attack with triple disadvantage (roll four d20, take worst)...etc.

Deadly (Weapon Ability): Target's with current HP less than the wielder's HD x 3 are slain instantly when hit...then put it on the Wand of Orcus. :)
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I like those.
The SPell Jammer Swords can be adapted to be a very useful assassin, hitman weapon.

The death metal is cool. The power could be base on remaining hit points to trigger more often.
More often?! Someone with 10 HD(10th level) will automatically kill everything he hits that has 30 hit points or less with no save. That's very often and I think a bit overpowered.
 



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