A vorpal weapon is a magic slashing weapon imbued with the power to cleave a target's head from its shoulders when the wielder scores a particularly accurate hit, causing instant death. Creatures with no discernible heads and most mindless undead are unaffected by this, however.1
The vorpal quality is arguably the most powerful ability a weapon can have. It is certainly the most difficult and time-consuming to create of all the weapon enhancements. As a result, such items are extremely rare, and anyone who owns one should be treated with caution.3
Attitudes toward vorpal weapons vary. Elves claim to find them inelegant, while the random nature of the beheadings is often of interest to gnomes. There have never been any reports of goblins wielding vorpal dogslicers, but that is presumably due to a lack of magical talent rather than any moral scruples on the part of the goblins.
The Aldori swordlords do not allow their use in duels, and the Eagle Knights of Andoran use them only as a last resort. However, worshippers of Sarenrae praise them as the most merciful of weapons; indeed the most legendary of the Qadiran dervishes are said to use fiery, razor-sharp scimitars with the vorpal quality.
In the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, those who slay a linnorm demonstrate their worthiness to rule. Sometimes, this feat is achieved with the aid of a vorpal weapon. A few of the Ulfen are starting to regard this use of vorpal weapons as cheating.
Known vorpal weapons
- Jason Bulmahn et al. (2009). Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook (1E), p. 472. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-150-3
- Wolfgang Baur et al. (2010). Bestiary 2 (First Edition), p. 168–9. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-268-5
- Brian Cortijo. (2010). Vorpal Sword. Classic Treasures Revisited, p. 53. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-220-3
- Brian Cortijo. (2010). Vorpal Sword. Classic Treasures Revisited, p. 56. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-220-3