I'm running a campaign for Low Fantasy RPG, on-and-off...meaning "any time that the WHoOG campaign isn't running for one reason or another". We are playing Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate, and I'm behind with the updates again - it's just that we play more often than that!
I'm also planning to make it into a setting supplement...or mini-supplement, we'll see. I'm not even trying to hide that my main inspiration for that are the Books of Twelve Swords by Fred Saberhagen, the French RPG Bloodlust, and Earthdawn's magic items. (Well, I hear Dave Arneson himself has been putting magic swords in his setting as important part of the magic, but I don't know anything else. Either way, it's nice to know I'm following good tradition!)
The first thing that you'd notice if you played in this campaign, would be...that there's no Wizard class. Want magic? Find an item.
Most such items are weapons. For a reason that's part of the setting's lore.
And now, let me introduce you two NPCs from this campaign!
Farseer, Lord of Valorous Battle looks like a slender Type XIX (with side rings), according to Oakeshott's typology. He's black as night, and carries a symbol of the Iron God (which I decided to adopt in my setting...though he might turn out to be just a namesake).
He's made of cold iron, of course.
The first power he always gives to any user is the ability to see the invisible, including in the dark. This was already used to notice a dryad hiding in her own tree. (Previous unscrupulous owners have used it to see through clothes, as Farseer would tell you - not that he's hinting at anything...he's not a pervert at all!)
Later it might be upgraded to "seeing magic emanations".
Then, he'd give you the power of sprouting wings (for a time), and then having them retract.
And if he likes you well enough, then he would make you unaging. Forget
He has one more power that he seldom grants to any user. Speculations abound as to what is might be: Does he teach the owner deadly counters, coupled with sixth sense? Grant stunning beauty? Allow the limited use of a Forbidden Wish (1/lunar month)? Immunity to fire? Control over water?
Is it even only one power, or does he just hold back several things he doesn't give access to, except as required?
One thing is for sure: Farseer doesn't want you to kill many people. He wants you to avoid fights, except with enemies that would provide a valorous combat. He's very much a "quality over numbers" guy!
And yes, the sword is a "he", most definitely, as he'd tell you if you ever met. It's just an accident most of his wielders have been female, and good-looking at that...funny coincidence, that!
Or, as it often works with those blades - is it a coincidence?
Cleancutter, Red Rainbow Amidst The Rain Drops looks like a mix between a Peidao and a Bulgarian sabre, with slightly bigger guard. And he's white...like the bones long-dead gods, some would say.
Cleancutter is also silvered, which might or might not explain his colour.
The first power he'd give you is the power of sudden, deep cuts. Which is something all swords do, in a way - but he can decapitate an enemy regardless of armour (which normal swords can't do).
The second power he would reveal is his ability to change shapes temporarily. So, if you need to enter a palace, you could have Cleancutter as an inoffensive dagger on your belt (though he'd remind you about that...) A rider attacking you? Cleancutter can be your halberd or pike. Someone grappled you? Cleancutter can become tigerclaws affixed to your wrist.
The third power is his ability to drink souls of your enemies, and grant you parts of their abilities (or just of their lifeforce, should you need it - and yes, if you didn't need it, this can prolong your "natural" lifespan a lot, preventing aging, much like Farseer's ability).
His fourth power is the ability to hurt even targets that are far away.
His fifth and subsequent powers are subject to speculation, too. Does he grant true agelessness, regardless of killing? Does he cause wounds that can never stop bleeding, unless the user touches them with his blade again? Does he give you the power of bladedancing, which can allow you to protect a single target against any attack, even at the cost of your life? Does he allow you to stop any attack (1/ lunar month)? Does he hew the weapon of any enemy when you defend?
Or does he, as some claim, allow you to cut the binds of causality, granting you a Forbidden Wish for seemingly unconnected actions - but possibly at a terrible price?
Or, conversely, does he allow you to cut the ties that bind enemies to what they cherish? No doubt there would be a price for the ability to sever the love of the grieving wife for her perished husband, or the like - but what would it be?
Questions, questions...and no answers in sight. But a few things are for sure: he likes women (not as targets), money, and slaughter - not necessarily in that order. He's a "quantity over quality" kind of guy, unlike Farseer. And he's slower to give you his trust, but readily adits what (and how) he wants you to do.
Oh, and you should never call him Vorpy. Only Farseer gets away with that, at times...and he hates the price so much, he tries to avoid it.
Important: all magic weapons in my setting have the one obvious power of never needing sharpening, anti-rust measures, or the like. That's a separate power in Low Fantasy RPG which I decided to make a default in my setting.
But then, they're the only way to gain magic powers of any kind, so it makes sense to preserve them!