Valyrian Weapons

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Re: Valyrian Weapons

Postby Legate » Wed May 16, 2012 6:43 am

I am still not convinced what people are saying about the underwhelming effects of Valyrian weapons in the game. It says in the rulebook that Valyrian blades are "oft times said to be spell forged." That is a long way from saying they are spell forged for fact. I think what has to be clarified is exactly what is meant by spell forged? Yes, it could be a sorcerer imparting magical effects into the metal as the weapon is forged giving it special qualities. Or, it could simply be the weapon smith using a ritual to purify himself and activate the power of the "spirits" in the metal. Now, that being said from what has been mentioned here I would think that you could be safe in giving Valyrian weapons the Piercing and Fast qualities; though I do have a hard time envisioning a "fast" long sword. :o Personally, I think the best method is to just give the Valyrian weapon the qualities that best fit your campaign.

Perhaps, as I get farther into the actual story I will change my mind as I "see" these weapons in action.
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Re: Valyrian Weapons

Postby Lord Ben » Wed May 16, 2012 6:49 am

I think the way they did dragonbone bows was good by adding a couple features. Remove unweildy or add fast or something to make it slightly better than just +1. You can get +1 by picking up weapon mastery and it doesn't have a prereq and you can't even lose the item.

The rulebook is wrong with RE to the setting in the novels. From the mouth of the author himself: http://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Category/C91/P105/

Q: A brief question about Valyrian steel - is it the metal that makes the sword so special (provenance, age, etc), or is it the forging (spells, techniques)

GRRM: Forging techniques and spells, actually. There is magic involved in the making of Valyrian steel.

Q: In other words, if a smith knew how, could he take some fresh, high-quality steel and produce an equally fine sword?

GRRM: Not unless he could work the magic.

Q: Or is it something like Aragorn's Anduril in the Lord of the Rings, which could be re-forged but not made from scratch, or so it seemed to me.

GRRM: That's pretty much been the situation since the Doom of Valyria.
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Re: Valyrian Weapons

Postby Legate » Wed May 16, 2012 8:30 am

I see where you are coming from, don't get me wrong. Again it comes back to my question; what is meant by "spell forged?" Does it mean special abilities are "magic-ed" into the sword (ie is the speed mentioned above a magical effect?) Or, is the magic used to enhance the metallurgical qualities of the steel (ie the lightness and ability to keep a keen edge?) Basically, put is a Valyrian Blade a "magic" sword in the strictest sense of the term? Or, is it a sword that requires certain spells to just manipulate the metal to give it exceptional qualities (ie lightness and keen edge?) I tend to go for the latter, because in most other fantasy settings once you have melted down a true magic sword and you re forge it into another sword you lose the magic abilities. Since you are able to re forge a Valyrian blade and still have the qualities of the original that says to me the magic is used to enhance the quality of the metal only (ie +1 fighting=lighter weight and +1 dam=keen edge).
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Re: Valyrian Weapons

Postby Legate » Wed May 16, 2012 8:51 am

Since Anduril was mentioned in the above interview snippet I will refer to Deciphers Lord of the Rings RPG description to help explain what I mean (hopefully). In Deciphers game Andruil is a "Heroic" weapon, which means that it derives it's ability from it long and storied history, not from any magic effects. It is an exceptionally high quality weapon that deals extra damage, and also gives a bonus to inspiration and Intimidation tests. "Heroic" weapons in that system gain their abilities from Quality Craftsmanship, The Work of Old, and Lineage and history; where as Glamdring, Orcist and Sting are magic swords in the true sense with magical abilities (ie glowing when orcs are near and being able to cleave through armour.) I view Valyrian weapons in SIFRP are like Heroic weapons in LoTRs their abilities are derived from the "Work of Old" category (ie the Valyrians knew some skill that is now lost and over the centuries became "magic.")

Though as I have said as I get further into the story this opinion might change. I hope not, however, as I very much like the absence of true magic weapons, and very much like the aspect of a weapons power coming from quality of work, Lineage and History rather then spells.
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Re: Valyrian Weapons

Postby Lord Ben » Wed May 16, 2012 9:23 am

Legate wrote:Though as I have said as I get further into the story this opinion might change. I hope not, however, as I very much like the absence of true magic weapons, and very much like the aspect of a weapons power coming from quality of work, Lineage and History rather then spells.


You can like whatever you want but Valyrian Blades are made from magic steel.

Since you are able to re forge a Valyrian blade and still have the qualities of the original that says to me the magic is used to enhance the quality of the metal only (ie +1 fighting=lighter weight and +1 dam=keen edge).


The bonus isn't bad but it requires heir/heirloom to get, which makes it worse than comparable benefits.

Known Valyrian Blades:
Widow's Wail, Gifted to the King - not acquired as an heirloom.
Oathkeeper,Gifted to Brienne - not acquired as an heirloom.
Heartsbane, Heirloom
Longclaw Gifted, not acquired as an heirloom.
Lady Forlorn Heirloom but not given to the heir, given to the younger brother who's a better swordsman.
Red Rain, Heirloom, taken in battle
Nightfall, Heirloom

Of the 7 blades in the novels currently in existence only 3 of them are owned by the head of house or heir to the family.

Mechanically speaking it's less good than generic longsword with longsword specific benefits.
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Re: Valyrian Weapons

Postby Carriker » Wed May 16, 2012 9:26 am

The crafting of Valyrian steel requires spells, yes. "Spell forged" literally refers to the need to utilize certain spells in order to forge the item at all, rather than imparting the blade with some kind of magical ability of some kind. The blade owes its very existence to those Valyrian spells.

It's also worth noting that not just anyone can reforge Valyrian steel. Tobho Mott reforges Ice, for instance, and is one of the few smiths in Westeros capable of doing so. Likewise, the very creation of a link of Valyrian steel for a maester represents knowledge of magic - certainly at least enough "magic" to know how to reforge it into a link.

In many ways, I suspect the inspiration for Valyrian steel is Damascus steel, including the weird rippled patterning on the blade. Folklore claimed that the methods for creating it were occult in nature, not just smithwork, after all.
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Re: Valyrian Weapons

Postby Lord Ben » Wed May 16, 2012 9:26 am

Then there is the valyrian steel knife, won in a bet. So 5 of the 8 valyrian weapons in the books were acquired via methods other than inheritance. And one of the remaining 3 was taken as loot a couple generations back.
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Re: Valyrian Weapons

Postby Carriker » Wed May 16, 2012 9:31 am

Lord Ben wrote: Of the 7 blades in the novels currently in existence only 3 of them are owned by the head of house or heir to the family.

And yet, the gaining of most of those blades happens "in play" (as it were) - once the story has begun, as a result of the narrative's progression and the choices of the characters.

Note that the Benefit Heirloom is used to start the game with a Valyrian steel weapon. That's it. If you manage to get one during game play, fair play to you.

Lord Ben wrote:Mechanically speaking it's less good than generic longsword with longsword specific benefits.

Except for the fact that those Benefits can stack. You can use a Valyrian steel longsword with longsword specific Benefits with an even better result than just using a normal longsword.

Also, you pretty much can't hand off your Longsword I benefit to someone else, in case you're injured.

The fact is, those Benefits do two very different things, and trying to force the point that you think that Valyrian steel should be "better" by comparing them is a bit disingenuous.
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Re: Valyrian Weapons

Postby Legate » Wed May 16, 2012 12:02 pm

Carriker wrote:The crafting of Valyrian steel requires spells, yes. "Spell forged" literally refers to the need to utilize certain spells in order to forge the item at all, rather than imparting the blade with some kind of magical ability of some kind. The blade owes its very existence to those Valyrian spells.
.


Ok, so then a Valyrian Blade is a sword that requires spells to forge, but is not itself a magical weapon; the bonus to fighting and damage are due to the superior quality of the steel? Do I have that right? The quote about the fighter "never being as fast" is from the blade being lighter, rather then a magical effect?
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Re: Valyrian Weapons

Postby Carriker » Wed May 16, 2012 12:59 pm

Legate wrote:Ok, so then a Valyrian Blade is a sword that requires spells to forge, but is not itself a magical weapon; the bonus to fighting and damage are due to the superior quality of the steel? Do I have that right? The quote about the fighter "never being as fast" is from the blade being lighter, rather then a magical effect?


We don't truthfully know. I mean, how are you defining "magic"? It's not like Martin's setting has a Detect Magic function, or something. In the narrative, we know those blades are stronger and their edges bite deeper than the finest steel. We've been given no reason to believe that they have any other powers to them. (To play devil's advocate for myself, we don't know that they =don't=, either. We've merely been given a glancing perspective. No more.)
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Re: Valyrian Weapons

Postby Legate » Wed May 16, 2012 1:38 pm

Carriker wrote:We don't truthfully know. I mean, how are you defining "magic"? It's not like Martin's setting has a Detect Magic function, or something. In the narrative, we know those blades are stronger and their edges bite deeper than the finest steel. We've been given no reason to believe that they have any other powers to them. (To play devil's advocate for myself, we don't know that they =don't=, either. We've merely been given a glancing perspective. No more.)


The prevailing feeling here seems to be that the blades are not powerful enough in the game, and some point the fact they are "spell-forged" and that this gives them supernatural (might be a better word then magical) qualities. Whereas, I am proposing (at least until I get caught up on my reading of the novels) is that they are exceptionally well crafted weapons, that require spells to forge only, and that the qualities of +1 fighting and +1 Damage is from the swords being lighter and are able to bite further due to the keen edge which Valyrian Steel allows it to keep. Much like a Toledo Blade or Katana from Ancient Japan, rather then the flaming sword used by that Warrior Priest (which I can only assum is a magical sword in the truest {fantasy}) sense.
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Re: Valyrian Weapons

Postby coldwind » Wed May 16, 2012 3:17 pm

Thoros of Myr dips his swords in Wildfire. They're destroyed after every use.

There are some examples of magic flaming (or at least glowing) swords later in the books though.
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Re: Valyrian Weapons

Postby Lord Ben » Wed May 16, 2012 3:27 pm

Legate wrote:rather then the flaming sword used by that Warrior Priest (which I can only assum is a magical sword in the truest {fantasy}) sense.


No, he dips his sword in alchemists fire and lights it. And afterwards buys new swords and gets scolded by the blacksmith for being foolish.

GRRM goes through great lengths to leave magic a mystery. Defining what is or isn't "magic" doesn't really mean much. There is no keyword magic to apply to something.

Carriker wrote:And yet, the gaining of most of those blades happens "in play" (as it were) - once the story has begun, as a result of the narrative's progression and the choices of the characters.

Note that the Benefit Heirloom is used to start the game with a Valyrian steel weapon. That's it. If you manage to get one during game play, fair play to you.


I'm okay with a prereq but it should be more open than just heir only. Patron is a good one.

It's a tricky balance though, I don't envy being a game writer listening to people complain about the minutiae of weapon details because they're midway through AFFC and there are Valyrian weapons all over the place in the book. If it's too easy and great every player wants one and then you have a party of PC's with a bunch of them and it feels wrong for being common instead of feeling wrong because it's supposed to be great and is mediocre.

Add fast tag (or remove slow) and/or piercing 1 would be my thoughts.
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Re: Valyrian Weapons

Postby SerJerk » Wed May 16, 2012 5:18 pm

We don't know that Valyrian weapons are "magic", but we do know that Valyrian steel is, if not actually "magical", far superior to normal steel. While it does sound like the method of forging it into weapons is similar to how katanas are forged (folding the metal onto itself many times), the metal itself is what's special. If it were simply the method of forging, then they wouldn't have had to re-forge Ice, they could've just had that blacksmith create a new one. It was my understanding that this was why the original printing hinted that Valyrian weapons were all Extraordinary, but not all Extraodinary weapons were Valyrian.
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Re: Valyrian Weapons

Postby Legate » Wed May 16, 2012 7:25 pm

"... the metal itself is what's special."

Pretty much my point. The metal is special as a result of the spell forging process; it can be hammered into a thinner blade making it lighter and easier to use in combat (+1 Fighting) and it keeps a very keen edge longer then normal steel (+1 damage). My question is why is it the considered opinion here that they are underpowered for gaming purposes?

Oh, wait a light just came on. Those of you who are saying they are under powered, is it because there is nothing different in the game between a weapon made of Valyrian steel and a normal weapon that is crafted to a exceptional level (ie both have +1 fight/dam)?
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Re: Valyrian Weapons

Postby Lord Ben » Wed May 16, 2012 7:59 pm

Legate wrote:My question is why is it the considered opinion here that they are underpowered for gaming purposes?


Player 1 is a hedge knight, he takes expertise (long blades), and weapon mastery (long blades) and receives +1D to attacks and +1 damage with any long blade he picks up. If he loses a blade he loots another one and continues on his merry way. If he gets some coin and a castle forged blade he can even get another +1 to hit.

Player 2 is the eldest son of a Lord and inheritor to the families Valyrian Steel Blade. He takes Heir and Heirloom and gets +1/+1. He's the bearer of a magic sword the likes of which haven't been crafted in 300 years but the common hedge knight gets more bang for his buck when spending points. Not only that but the weaker combat option also comes with the risk of losing it, etc. It has some RP advantages but that also cuts both ways and has disadvantages like people seeking to prove themselves against you (Victarion Greyjoy specifically mentions wanting to face someone and take their valyrian blade) or steal it.

IMHO with RE to game balance for the added risk of losing your sword it should be slightly better than weapon mastery/expertise is. To better emulate some of the hero type characters from the books I think it should also be possible to get it with the Patron advantage (younger son but better swordsman, etc). Compare castle forged to Valyrian and it's only a +1 damage difference for 2 benefits. And it greatly restricts the character concepts to heir (though it's an easy house rule to make if the GM likes a players background).

Take Harras Harlaw, heir to House Harlaw and wielder of Nightfall for instance (http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Harras_Harlaw) he plants his banner outside a Castle and challenges anyone inside to single combat while they siege the castle. He then defeats 7 people before the Septon declares the gods want him to have the castle and he surrenders it to him. If you want to make a guy that has a chance to emulate that type of ability you're better off avoiding heir/heirloom and going with something else.

If you already have a castle forged blade, expertise, weapon mastery, and improved weapon mastery than yes the only other way further improve is to take a Valyrian Blade but it's a rare case.
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Re: Valyrian Weapons

Postby Legate » Wed May 16, 2012 9:50 pm

Just to make sure I am on the same page as you are. So, in the first 2 paragraphs you are suggesting that the Heir, who probably has only has a minimum of training with longblades should be just as good or better then a battle hardened knight just because he uses his family's Valyrian Blade. Is that right? My suggestion for the young heir is that if he is afraid of losing his blade then he best learn to use to its full effectivness.

I think getting a PC to the point of skill that Lord Harlaw exhibits at the siege you mention would require a fair amount of RP time to build up that kind of experience, and to expect to be able to make a PC like that just out of CharGen is a little unreasonable on the players part. Mind my group has had one or two players that would try to do it.

The way I see things it depends on what type of character you want. Personally, if I wanted my character to be next in line for the Lordship of my House I would only take Heir, and some other qualities to boost my level of skill first. Then wait until I earned the use of the Family's Heirloom through RPing. That way leads to more flavour to the story, and the PC would be of sufficient skill to not lose the sword the first time he goes to combat with it.

I think we may have to agree to disagree on this point. :wink:
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Re: Valyrian Weapons

Postby Legate » Wed May 16, 2012 10:26 pm

If the point of contention is that the rules do not differentiate between Valyrian weapons and normal exceptional quality ones I would suggest something like adding the following;
For Valyrian Swords add Piercing
Daggers add Fast
Arrows tipped with Valyrian steel add Vicious, etc.

The only problem is when you get something like a Great Sword; do you add something that will make a powerful weapon even more so or do you remove a negative quality (ie slow or unwieldly)? You could also negate certain Martial Abilities this way as well.
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Re: Valyrian Weapons

Postby SandorCl » Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:00 am

Here is what I used for Valyrian weapons and I also use an expanded tiers for weapon quality for added progression & flavor.

Weapon Quality Cost Modifer Action Modifiers
Poor .5 x Cost -1B on Fighting & Marksmenship tests
Common(Bronze) .75 x cost -1 on Fighting & Marksmenship tests
Common (Steel) Cost No modifers
Superior - Castle Forged 4x Cost +1 on Fighting & Marksmenship tests
Rare/Unique-Artisan 8x Cost +2 on Fighting & Marksmenship tests and +1 Damage, Wgt is .8 x Normal

Extradorinary- Valyrian n/a +2 on Fighting & Marksmenship tests and +1 Damage,+1 Shatter or Pierce(if Blunt or Edged) . Also apply Fast ability or negate slow. Fast Ability applied to a wpn that already has fast weapon gets additional+1 to attacking (1B+1) , Weight is .5 x Normal
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