log in or register to remove this ad

 

Mercurial Greatsword

Carceri

First Post
Ok, this is a rant. I am here to bitch about one of the cheesiest weapons ever developed for D&D. First off, I'd like to know where the idea for this weapon even spawned. Can anyone tell me? I've read my fair share of fantasy novels, and I do not recall a particular hero or villain using a mercurial weapon.

Secondly, what were the developers THINKING when they made this weapon? It is easily one of the biggest if not THE biggest min/max weapons in the game. Did they think players would NOT abuse it?

I need some feedback here. Exactly how popular is this weapon amongst other players? I am curious. I only play with a couple of different groups and only one particular person from the groups I play with uses one, but just that is enough to drive me nuts, especially as a DM.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Mark

CreativeMountainGames.com
Carceri said:
I need some feedback here. Exactly how popular is this weapon amongst other players?

More importantly, how popular is it with DMs...?
 
Last edited:

Carceri

First Post
More importantly, how popular is it with DMs...?

That's a good question. In this particular campaign, I did not start off as the DM, somebody else did. Had I began the campaign as the main DM, I think I would have discouraged the player from using such a weapon, but then again, maybe not. Some min/maxers just need to have their way and will not be happy unless they get it.

I'll tell you this much, I will have no qualms of handing the campaign back over to original DM when the time comes. A min/maxed Weapon Master with a Merc Greatsword is just a nightmare. Every encounter that I create has to take into account that stupid weapon and what happens when he lands a crit with his 23 STR, specialization, and oh, for some insane reason the DM before me decided that the thing needed to be a Mercurial Greatsword of the Planes; and the adventure I just happen to be running deals mainly with fiends as the major adversaries. Sweet, hunh?

I'm all for the players getting their glory and such, but when lack of challenges become redundant, something is wrong. Seems the only way I can effectively challenge the group is to pit them against opponents who's CR's are 4, sometimes 5 more than their levels.

Please, if there's any other DM's out there, share your horror stories with me. Please tell me I am not alone.
 

Teflon Billy

Explorer
I disallowed it from the get-go.

I disallowed most everything from Sword and Fist. It was WotC's first kick at the "power-up splatbook" can and I didn't care for, well, any of it really.

When asked in an organized chat about the obvious "Power Creep" in the supplement, the Author gave a quip about 'Well, something has to be the most powerful weapon...this is it". After months of the 3E Author's claims that "Game Balance" was their holy grail during development. Baffling.

He also claimed to have intentionally left out the BAB for the Halfling Outrider (it was fixed--meaning added-- in the errata).

The guy was just full of :):):):) pretty much from the get-go in that chat; both in the "not telling the truth" version of the phrase and in the "Was an Idiot" version.

Anyway, Mercurial Greatsword: it is unbalanced.

None of my players ever asked for it though (Bless them).
 
Last edited:

BiggusGeekus

That's Latin for "cool"
First, welcome to the forums Carceri!

While I agree that a weapon filled with an apparently inexauhstable supply of mercury is a silly idea, I don't think the weapon is crazy unbalanced. It requries a seperate feat to learn how to use and the damage 2d6/x4 isn't much better than a scythe 2d4/x4. Basically, you're paying an extra 582gp and a feat for an average of 1hp/attack. Weapon Specialization will give you a flat +2hp/attack and scythes are a lot more common than weapons with mystery goo inside.

If it's unbalancing your game, tell your players that they can not have an infinite ammount of mercury stored inside their weapon. Exotic weapons are unusual, not trans-dimensional. I'd suggest 50 "charges" (a silly ammount, but they did pay a feat for the thing) before they have to "re-load" it with 500gp of mercury. Using that much mercury should be treated as poison use and must be done by a specialist (10gp) or some one who simply knows how to use poison.

Just my two cents.

More importantly, how popular is it with DMs...?

OHHHH! A Zen riddle! I shall meditate on this. ;)
 
Last edited:

Teflon Billy

Explorer
BG where do you think the Mercury is going? It's not fuel man, (as I understand it) it's movable weight.

Think of the Mercurial Greatsword as having a hollow tube running the length of the blade filled halfway with mercury (bloody dense liquid).

Now when you swing the sword, the mercury slides to the end of the sword, adding more weight at the tip and increaseing the weight of the hit.

I have no idea if the physics on this are correct (or need to be), but I think that's how the description in S&F goes.
 

BiggusGeekus

That's Latin for "cool"
Teflon Billy said:
BG where do you think the Mercury is going? It's not fuel man, (as I understand it) it's movable weight.

Ah.

My bad. I thought it was some kind of inject-o-matic dealie-wacker. I didn't read S&F very carefully. I got up to the part where the weapon had mercury inside and my brain's circut breakers fired off.

Anyway, I'll stand by my assessment: silly but not any more broken than a scythe.
 

Mark

CreativeMountainGames.com
Teflon Billy said:
...(as I understand it) it's movable weight.

That's my understanding, as well. There are a number of sports games that have tried to incorporate the use of mercury in their "tools" as a way to increase power. Everything from softball bats to golf clubs. I think that might be where the idea may have been spawned, but don't quote me on that.

As to "what to do", has anyone ever tried to fix a thermometer? Unwise considering the dangers of mercury. I'd sunder the damned thing and make a replacement as scarce as fits the campaign...possibly impossible. If he goes looking for another and describes it to people, allow for the chance to pick up a regular magic sword of the planes for cheap, as a way of mollifying the player, but only if you think it is fair.

Anyhoo, forget to welcome you to the boards. Have fun and good luck! :)
 

A2Z

Explorer
Carceri said:
First off, I'd like to know where the idea for this weapon even spawned. Can anyone tell me? I've read my fair share of fantasy novels, and I do not recall a particular hero or villain using a mercurial weapon.
The Mecurial Greatsword comes from Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun. It was an executioners sword in the book and doesn't see much, if any, action outside of chopping off the heads of felons. In fact in the story I think it's mentioned that it would be too unwieldy to use in a fight. Of course this is D&D, if someone likes it they'll find a way to work it in and explain it. If they don't like it they won't use it.
 

EricNoah

Adventurer
The idea, I believe, comes from Gene Wolfe's "Shadow of the Torturer" and the rest of that series. It's been a long time since I read it but I think the weapon was designed as a headsman's tool?
 

First off, I'd like to know where the idea for this weapon even spawned. Can anyone tell me? I've read my fair share of fantasy novels, and I do not recall a particular hero or villain using a mercurial weapon.
I believe the mercurial greatsword is the D&D equivalent of Terminus Est ("This is the line of division") , the sword used by Severian in Gene Wolfe's "Torturer" series (let me see if I can remember them all...Shadow of the Torturer, Claw of the Conciliator, Sword of the Lictor, Citidel of the Autarch, Urth of the New Sun - I think that's right). It's a fantastic series (in every sense of the word), taking place on an Earth some million years in the future, when civilization has fallen and risen several times over again. Severian is an apprentice torturer in the Guild of the Seekers for Truth and Penitence, ends up getting himself in trouble by feeling compassion for one of his "clients" (torture victims), and ends up becoming a journeyman, traveling the world. Highly recommended.

Johnathan
 



Mark

CreativeMountainGames.com
Not sure when Wolfe wrote his books, but this has been a sports-tech trick for quite some time... :)
 

Yeoman

First Post
I've seen it in use a few times, as someone else mentioned it's not a great deal better than the scythe. Never seemed out of line for an exotic weapon to my group.
 

Brekki

First Post
BiggusGeekus said:
It requries a seperate feat to learn how to use and the damage 2d6/x4 isn't much better than a scythe 2d4/x4. Basically, you're paying an extra 582gp and a feat for an average of 1hp/attack. Weapon Specialization will give you a flat +2hp/attack and scythes are a lot more common than weapons with mystery goo inside.

Actually it's a +2 to damage ... 2d6=7 average, 2d4=5 average ... a +2 to damage should be more expensive as 582 gp and a feat available for everyone.
 
Last edited:

Hmm, on further observation, I think I'm entitled to a second "Gah!"

Gah! Beaten to the punch by A2Z as well! (After posting my original response, I scrolled up and saw that Eric Noah had posted while I was typing up my response. I failed to scroll up further and see that A2Z had posted one as well.)

I guess I'm going to have to learn to type faster!

Johnathan
 

ColonelHardisson

What? Me Worry?
EricNoah said:
The idea, I believe, comes from Gene Wolfe's "Shadow of the Torturer" and the rest of that series. It's been a long time since I read it but I think the weapon was designed as a headsman's tool?

Yes, exactly. Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun" series is, indeed, where it's from. It was the tool of trade of a guild of executioners. The one we see a lot in the book belongs to the main character, Severian. The sword is named Terminus Est. It wasn't meant for combat, but Severian found it necessary to use it for combat many times.

I think it's an exotic idea for a weapon, and I enjoy using them in my campaign. They're very rare, and are artifacts of a long-lost empire, the "badge of office" of certain imperial representatives. The secret of their making is now forgotten.

Out of all the strange, exotic, magical things found in D&D, I don't see this type of sword as being all that strange.
 

ColonelHardisson

What? Me Worry?
Richards said:
Hmm, on further observation, I think I'm entitled to a second "Gah!"

Gah! Beaten to the punch by A2Z as well! (After posting my original response, I scrolled up and saw that Eric Noah had posted while I was typing up my response. I failed to scroll up further and see that A2Z had posted one as well.)

I guess I'm going to have to learn to type faster!

Johnathan

It's alright; I think we all provided some info about them, and affirmed that they were from those books for sure.
 

BVB

First Post
Even though the mercury is allegedly sealed within the sword, it's still possible for the darned thing to break and spill its precious cargo.
Mercury is an incredibly fine liquid, is it not? If there's even a smidgeon of a crack or crease in the construct, that metal is going to find its way out.

A year or so ago this weapon was discussed thoroughly on these boards, and those among us who had some engineering tech geek skills explained how hollowing a sword could be done -- and whether a few ounces of mercury would make much of a difference one way or another in the swinging momentum of a sword. At the very least, the smithing process would (realistically) make the sword more fragile and likely to break than a common sword design.

It's a silly concept anyway.

If the DM really wants to get rid of the thing, I'd suggest secretly planning a list of reasonable events that could be snuck into the adventure without triggering suspicion of malice. Don't push them into the situation obviously; blunt manipulation of characters is bound to backfire. But if you've got a list ready, the chance will present itself.

Someone already mentioned sundering, for example. So make sure they run into a really nasty villain who can put that action to best use. Have him break a few other weapons, too.

Sliding stone trap doors? Put the character(s) in a room or dead-end hallway with a panel slowly moving to close them in. They've got to stay in the room for some reason, but they want the opportunity to leave later (you work out the details). Would the fighter be willing to prop open the door with his special sword? ... Crack! Problem solved.

Robbery in the city? Take a bunch of stuff and fence it immediately. The sword will never turn up again. (Or maybe it will, in the hands of someone else.) Theft during the night at the inn? Same thing.

Toss 'em into a sea passage or over a waterfall -- belongings are forever lost into the murky depths. Even if they go diving later, some other creature has picked up the sword already.

Have a dragon sit on the darned thing. Whatever.

And when the original sword is gone and the guy wants to buy a new one, make it very, very difficult to find the materials, skills and time to forge a replacement. ...

(If you want to be really nasty about it, give the character mercury poisoning from the unnoticed contact with his skin over time.)
 

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top