One of the biggest decisions you make when creating your Dungeons and Dragons character is the weapon that they’ll wield. Each option deals slightly different types of damage – piercing, slashing, or bludgeoning, in various amounts and with varying styles.
In 5e DnD, the options are fairly limited. It’s down to general options of longwords, short swords, clubs, and so forth. But you as the player are encouraged to put your own creative detail in the flavor and appearance of your weapon. Any longsword will roll the same when you use it, but you get to decide the exact type that you wield.
The exact type that you wield can say a lot about your character, too. If you’re looking for a few ideas from history, here are some suggestions of swords that I personally think are pretty cool, plus the type of characters that they would best suit.
Dacian Falx – Long Sword
Technically a kind of scythe, rather than a standard sword, the Falx is a long, curved weapon with a wooden handle that is almost equally as long. It resembles old Sarmatian swords, which are also curved, but is just a little bit smaller. The falx was used by Germanic and Celtic tribes before they were conquered by the Romans and can often be seen in old artwork and monuments to the people who fought the Roman Empire. And it certainly has that rustic, function-over-fashion look to it.
You could fit a weapon like this easily into the design for a Druid, Barbarian, or even a Monk that uses bladed weapons. They’re old, and simple, but highly efficient.
Sappara – Short Sword
The Assyrian cousin of the (perhaps better known) Egyptian Kopesh, the Sappara is a curved short sword with an abrupt sickle-like shape about halfway down the blade. It’s an ancient sword, and is now most heavily associated with religious invocations. Not because it was used as such traditionally, but because it’s so ancient and uncommonly used that you don’t really see it in “standard” combat.
Sappara make excellent weapons for Dex-based fighters, since they’re short swords, and tend to slash more than they can stab. That means that they’re great for Monks and Rogues. But the ritual connotations that they have nowadays also make them ideal for Clerics and Warlocks, who might benefit from the particular sort of flair they have.
Sauschwerter (Boar Sword) – Long Sword
Sauschwerters, better known as ‘boar swords’, are just what their name implies. These massive weapons could be wielded either one- or two-handed, with a long blade and an unusual add-on. Near the end of the blade, a secondary cross-bar stopped anyone impaled on it from moving closer. When used for their intended purpose (hunting boar), it keeps an animal from goring the wielder with their tusks. In a human combat, it also allows for maneuverability and disarming your opponent - if you have the time to learn how to properly use it!
Boar Swords are big, nasty weapons, traditionally used by the nobility in their hunting. I’d recommend using one for a Paladin, Fighter, or Barbarian, for whom two-handed swords are most useful. A Ranger might also get a good deal of flavor from a sword specifically meant to be taken on a hunting trip!
Manople – Short Sword
If you didn’t get a look at the size of this Moorish weapon, you might almost think that it was a punching dagger! But, no, this ‘gauntlet sword’ (which does not have a proper hilt, but instead emerges straight from a hand gauntlet) is a proper short sword and not a knife. It also has two short, curved blades on each side, which can be used for blocking, maneuvering, and disarming an opponent.
You’d definitely have to have some kind of proficiency with Martial weapons (or Exotic, if you’re playing 3e) to use this weapon. It’s unusual, to say the least. I’d recommend it for Fighters, Paladins, or Rogues that have taken a feat to give them Martial Weapon proficiency.
Karabela - Scimitar
Although the Karabela was originally Turkish, it’s now most commonly associated with Poland. There have been a number of Polish kings that carried this highly decorated, beautiful type of saber, after all. It’s a long, relatively narrow blade with a slight curve, and an eagle’s head carved out for the pommel. In terms of Dungeons and Dragons, I’d use scimitar or short sword stats for it.
I would most likely give a sword like this to a Bard, to match the elaborate design and symbolic carving on the hilt. Of course, any class that works with slashing weapons could make good use of it!
Sica – Short Sword
Favored by assassins, this roman short sword was often worn under the armpit, and hidden beneath the clothes. In terms of design, it’s most notable for the sharp turn in the blade, which makes almost a corner or an angle of out of it. The curve to it would make it especially vicious when withdrawn from the body, of course, and numerous works of art to do with the Romans feature it.
Since it was so beloved by assassins, and was meant to be hidden, I would most commonly use this sword for Rogues. But any morally-dubious character would be well-suited to it. Or, if you want to break from it’s stereotypes, any character inspired by Roman or Greek myths or culture.
Do you ever flavor your DnD character’s weapons? Do you have them reflect real-life weapons, or do you make up your own fantasy armaments? Let us know in the comments below!