The Sun Blade is one of the iconic weapons in Dungeons & Dragons. While not as old as the infamous Vorpal Sword, it is still a great weapon for any campaign. Especially, clerics who worship the god of sun, Pelor for Greyhawk and Lathander for the Forgotten Realms, it is the weapon to find or craft. We will look at the history of this magical item and the different ways you could craft it in your campaign in 5th edition.
The History of the Sun Blade
The Sun Blade’s first iteration was in I6 Ravenloft (1983) for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. It was called the Sunsword. It was a sword with a crystal glass blade and one could argue it was a different sword back then. After that the Sun Blade under its name appeared in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition Dungeon Master’s Guide in 1989. In this book, there was no Sunsword but only the Sun Blade with slightly different mechanics. The first time together they appeared in the Encyclopedia Magica Volume 4 of 1995.
Brief Appearance in Greyhawk Adventure Path
While now the Sun Blade is an established magical weapon, it wasn’t used in any 2nd edition adventure (to my knowledge). It took 18 years after its first appearance to be used in a published Greyhawk adventure. In 2007, in Dragon Magazine #145 the adventure City of Broken Idols advances the adventure path Savage Tide for 3rd edition D&D. It so appears that on the Isle of Dread, there is a lake. And on that lake is another island, the Taboo Island. On this island there is a temple and in this temple in a random crypt lies the Sun Blade. Well, better than nothing.
Comeback of the Sun Blade in 5th Edition
The Sun Blade appears in Out of Abyss (2015) as a sentient sword called the Dawnbringer. Also it appears in the remake of the Ravenloft module, Curse of Strahd in 2016. Here it’s called the Sunsword again. Interestingly, both of these swords have a blade out of pure light energy, opposed to the original Sunsword. Both of these swords are mere iterations of the raw Sun Blade as they have some additional properties. They are both sentient while the normal Sun Blade found in the Taboo Temple is not.
The Sun Blade in 5e
- melee weapon (sword, martial)
- Damage: 1d8
- Damage Type: Radiant
- Item Rarity: Rare
- Modifiers: Melee Attacks +2, Melee Damage +2
- Properties: Finesse, Versatile
- Secondary Damage: 1d10
- Weight: 3
This item appears to be a Longsword hilt. While grasping the hilt, you can use a Bonus Action to cause a blade of pure radiance to spring into existence, or make the blade disappear. While the blade exists, this magic Longsword has the Finesse property. If you are proficient with shortswords or longswords, you are proficient with the sun blade.
You gain a +2 bonus to Attack and Damage Rolls made with this weapon, which deals radiant damage instead of slashing damage. When you hit an Undead with it, that target takes an extra 1d8 radiant damage.
The sword’s luminous blade emits bright light in a 15-foot radius and dim light for an additional 15 feet. The light is sunlight. While the blade persists, you can use an action to expand or reduce its radius of bright and dim light by 5 feet each, to a maximum of 30 feet each or a minimum of 10 feet each.
Crafting the Sun Blade
Of course, there is always the way to find the blade in a dungeon or in possession of a random cleric of Pelor or Lathander. But it is also cool to craft it yourself. Maybe read about it in a book and make it a quest to attain one.
Crafting Rules as Written
The Sun Blade is a rare weapon, that is why the creator needs to be at least 6th level. The creation cost is 5,000 gp. That means it takes the player 200 days to create the blade. But then there would be no difference between the creation of a normal longsword +2 and the creation of the Sun Blade. Here the Dungeon Master’s Guide assumes it is the DM’s decision how it should be done. And that is the freedom we all love in D&D.
How we craft the Sun Blade in 5e
I never liked how they handle magic item creation in 5th edition. I feel that everything your characters do should be part of the story. A story about someone sitting in a laboratory creating an item for 200 days is simply not fun. I’m a huge fan of the way they did it in Volo’s Guide for All Things Magical of 1996. Here they presented to different ways to create magical items, either by a wizard or a cleric. They overcomplicate a little bit by inventing a whole bunch of spells but the idea is really fun. One thing they do especially, is giving magical properties to different ressources making the whole creation also a research and gather operation.
How you want to approach this as a DM is all on you. You can let the m research what materials they need and what kind of spells they need to cast or just present it to them. Maybe they want to find someone instead that can create the weapon for them.
A good choice is Sarana, the 15th level cleric and high matriarch of Pelor, leading the temple in the Free City of Greyhawk. For sure she wouldn’t do this for free though. A quest to prove you are worthy of such a quest might be in line. Also it is debatable if she would create it for someone else than a cleric of Pelor.
As ingredients we need a metal for the hilt and a gemstone to hold the power of the blade. The most essential ingredient mentioned in Volo’s Guide is a gemstone called Heliodor.
Heliodor: This precious stone is a deep yellow variety of golden beryl varying in hue from greenish yellow to reddish yellow and yielding large or medium impressive faceted gemstones.
In magic, heliodor can be used as a casting component in all priest spells of the sun sphere in place of normal components that one lacks (provided these need not be specially constructed). Powdered heliodor is essential in the forging of a sun blade.Volo’s Guide to All Things Magical
So all we need now is a mountain range that is known for yellow beryls. The Crystalmist Mountains are just one possibility. After achieving such a gem you would need to cut in a specific shape, a Round Rose cut for example.
For metals you can use any combination of pristine material. Maybe a mix of gold and white silver is appropriate.
Process of creating
Cleric spells work in 5th edition in a way that all clerics automatically learn all the spells of their level. So implementing new spells for item creation doesn’t make much sense. Instead, I assume the cleric who wants to create the Sun Blade has to invent some kind of ritual to please their god and achieve the power.
This can be researched by your players of course but your players can also get creative and come up with their own ideas.
Things I would assume:
- Must be created on a holy place of your god (Pelor, Lathander)
- A great deed must have been done prior to please your god
- A 24h ritual with deliberate use of holy ingredients like holy water and holy incenses
So here you have it, the way I implement the Sun Blade into my campaign. The whole process would be a part of my campaign, a task a player tries to achieve while doing things for the group. The whole creation cost might at the end be in line with what the Dungeon Master’s Guide says. Even the time it took might be the same. But, it feels way cooler to be part of he process and not just do it in downtime.
Did you ever use the Sun Blade? How do you handle magic item creation in your campaign?
See you in the Green Dragon Inn,