Created By: nman on April 10, 2012 Last Edited By: morenohijazo on March 12, 2013
Troped

Legendary Weapon

Weapon of Yore Lore

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

Indices: Older Is Better, Weapons and Wielding Tropes, Speculative Fiction Tropes

A character in a work finds a weapon, and discovers that it is the same weapon from one of the legends of their world. Most of the time, legendary weapons are a pretty big deal - they don't call them "legendary" for nothing, after all - and instead of being a very old, rusty piece of scrap that's been in a display case for the last millennium, are actually extremely powerful and useful. They might even have the spirit of an ancient hero trapped in them, have immense magical properties, or be made with a technique that has been lost to the ages. Occasionally, when the protagonist is The Chosen One of a Fantasy setting, they'll just happen to be a descendant of the last great hero to use that weapon, and the weapon's true power will only be unlocked when in the hands of will unlock its true power only in their hands.

Usually a Named Weapon. Since having the protagonist find a legendary weapon at their local store is a bit silly, the weapon tends to be a Sword of Plot Advancement that is rather hard to acquire.

Please note that this is for legendary weapons, meaning that the weapon has to be part of the legends and history of the work. This is not a trope for just any ancient weapon or Cool Sword the protagonists find, or weapons in a work that happen to share a name with a Public Domain Artifact.

What I'm not sure about is where this fits in with the other tropes. It might be a Super Trope to Ancestral Weapon, Excalibur in the Rust and Day Old Legend, but it might not, what do you all think? There should also be a "see also" linking to Infinity+1 Sword, Infinity–1 Sword, Penultimate Weapon, Cool Sword, and Sword of Plot Advancement. If the work's setting is based on real world, it may overlap with Public Domain Artifact.

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Excalibur in Soul Eater is considered the strongest of weapons (which, in this setting, is a race) and his power is considered the stuff of legend. Any Meister who wields him is pretty much unstoppable, and many have tried, as his location and exploits are well documented. What isn't, is the fact that he is completely insufferable and no one can stand him long enough to use him for long.
  • Most of the Servants' Noble Phantasms in Fate/stay night count. Considering the setting is based on the real world and the Servants are actually spirits of legendary heroes, a lot of them overlaps with Public Domain Artifact.

Film

Literature
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Narsil is the legendary sword that was forged in the First Age by a famous dwarven smith, wielded and broken by Elendil and then used by Isildur to cut the ring out of Sauron's hand at the end of the Second Age, and then reforged under the name Andúril at the end of the Third Age to fulfill one of the ancient prophecies.
  • Early in The Hobbit, the party recovers a small treasure hoard from some trolls. Among the hoard are a pair of legendary elvish blades, Orcrist the Goblin-Cleaver and Glamdring the Foe-Hammer, two legendary swords forged millennia earlier by the elves of Gondolin. Thorin Oakenshield takes Orcrist and it's eventually buried with him, while Gandalf takes Glamdring and uses it several decades later to kill the balrog in The Fellowship of the Ring.
  • Several of the 13th century Sagas of Icelanders (specifically Kormak's Saga and Laxdoela Saga) have a cameo of Skofnung, the legendary sword of the ancient Danish king Hrolf Kraki told about in The Saga of Hrolf Kraki, which supposedly was robbed from Hrolf's gravemound and brought to Iceland by the Icelander Skeggi of Midfirth.
  • The Riftwar Cycle: The Hammer of Tholin is an ancient weapon that belonged to the last king of the dwarves, believed to be lost to the ages. The lore attached to it is so strong that its recovery allows Dolgan to become the first king of the dwarves since its loss.
  • The Sword of Shannara from the Shannara series is the legendary sword which the Elven King Jerle Shannara used to defeat the Warlock Lord and end the Second War of the Races. Five hundred years later, the entire plot of The Sword of Shannara is a quest for said sword.
  • The Sword of Godric Gryffindor in Harry Potter.

Live-Action Television
  • Tracker's Strada Brac. [[hottip:*:note that as the series ended just after its discovery, we still have no idea how it's spelled for certain. This spelling is a fan consensus]] It was the subject of Vardian and Cirronian legends about how it was made during an ancient war and then stolen by the Migar council and hidden on Earth to keep it away from the Vardians. By the modern era, most of their peoples believed it was simply a myth. Cole and Mel obviously proved them wrong.
  • Excalibur in Merlin which Arthur is going to rip out of that stone as revealed by the series trailer, and Lancelot's sword which I have momentarily forgotten the name of.

Music

Tabletop Games
  • Dungeons & Dragons has had many of these, from the Axe of the Dwarvish Lords and Sword of Kas in the 1st Edition Dungeons Master's Guide to the swords of the Forgotten Realms as described by Ed Greenwood (Adjatha, Albruin, Demonbane, etc.).

Video Games
  • Any weapon (or, indeed, any item) that unlocks a Codex entry in the Dragon Age series.
    • If you acquired the weapon Vigilance in Awakening, the epilogue mentions that it went on to become one of these.
  • The Runeblade from Drakan: Order of the Flame belonged to Heron, the last great dragonrider and is also the best weapon in the game.
  • The keyblade in Kingdom Hearts.
  • Kingdom of Loathing parodies legendary weapons at every turn.
    • There's a chain of quests where the player gets a series of legendary weapons. First, the player has to create the "Epic Weapon" for their class. Following that, they obtain more ingredients and upgrade it to the "Legendary Epic Weapon". Following that, the weapon gets transformed into the "Ultimate Legendary Epic Weapon" when fighting the next boss.
    • There's Trusty, Boris' trusty axe which the player is forced to use when playing as the Avatar of Boris.
    Not every magical weapon is forged of meteorite iron under an unusual planetary conjunction, inscribed with gilded runes of ancient power, and imbued with supernatural strength and sharpness through mystical rites and sorcerous incantations. In truth, many of the most powerful weapons of lore are possessed of far humbler beginnings -- common metal, torn from an enemy's grasp in a dire emergency. If the warrior survives the day, the weapon will likely be kept. Polished, sharpened, and re-sharpened, it will be carried from battle to battle, becoming as much a part of the man as his own arm, and as his name rises from warrior to hero to legend, so too will an aura of reverence and awe begin to surround the blade. Legend and belief are powerful forces, and it should be no surprise that a powerful artifact might have become powerful simply by dint of everyone believing it to be powerful. That is, after all, where the gods came from.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Master Sword, aka, "The Sword of Evil's Bane", is as legendary as the Triforce itself. It is inscribed in Hyrule's lore that evil ones cannot touch it, nor can anyone, save for the Chosen Hero draw it from the Pedestal of Time.
  • The Sword of Mana from the World of Mana series. Even more legendary because it is ALL the legendary swords that have ever existed, just with different name on each occasion.
  • Final Fantasy V has the twelve legendary weapons. They are weapons. They are legendary. There are even twelve of them.
  • The Vampire Killer Whip in Castlevania is considered the ultimate undead-killing holy weapon.
  • The Eternal Sword in the Tales Series. Also known as the Sword of Time, it is capable of cleaving time and space itself.
  • Warcraft: Frostmourne (among others).
  • In Titan Quest the most powerful weapons and items are the "Legendary" or "Myhtological" ones.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2:
  • The Daedric Artifacts (at least those that are weapons) are the most legendary weapons in The Elder Scrolls universe. Each is associated with a particular Daedric (daemonic, more or less) deity and passes from owner to owner according to the wishes of those deities. Famous ones include the hammer Volendrung, the dagger Mehrunes' Razor, the Mace of Molag Bal, the sword Dawnbreaker and the staff Wabbajack.
  • Tales of Graces has the sword of Asbel's father, Aston, which was a legendary eleth sword. When Asbel was in training as a knight, he sold the old, rusted sword for cheap to a traveling merchant called a "Turtlez" (one of many in the game), not realizing its history or potential. Much later in the game, the player can buy it back for hefty premium and take it to the Amarcian Enclave and it turns out to be the extremely powerful Excalibur.


Community Feedback Replies: 40
  • April 10, 2012
    Koveras
    • Any weapon (or, indeed, any item) that unlocks a Codex entry in the Dragon Age series.
  • April 10, 2012
    AmazingLagann
    Real life has quite a few examples. Excalibur for example.
  • April 10, 2012
    nman
    Should real life examples be listed, though? Public Domain Artifact already has a list of all of them, and then some.
  • April 10, 2012
    Bisected8
    Technically those are Myth And Legend examples, not Real Life.

    I'd say that this would be a sister trope the ones mentioned in the OP. There's no reason why a sword couldn't have several tropes apply to it (for example the Master Sword in Zelda's the Sword Of Plot Advancement, Infinity Plus One Sword or Infinity Minus One Sword depending on the game and this trope).
  • April 10, 2012
    lycropath
  • April 11, 2012
    nman
    ^^I was thinking about the trope being about someone using (or possessing) the weapon, rather than the trope being about legends about weapons - so that the trope is more about the sword (or whatever) than the legend. But, I dunno, nothing's set in stone or anything, it really depends on whether it's a mess to shove everything into a single page.
  • April 12, 2012
    Damr1990
    I'm thinking that perhpas we may also include or create/split/whatever a subtrope of Stock Legendary Weapons for some of the more used in various media (Excalibur, Durandal, Masamune, Kusanagi,Longinus, etc) and others for when the weapons are legendary only in-universe(like the Keyblades or the Sword of Mana on the Seiken Densetsu series)

  • April 12, 2012
    aurora369
    2Bisected8: Well, they are stuff of legends in Real Life.
  • April 12, 2012
    kjnoren
    I think there is a bit of ambiguity here.

    Is the trope about weapons of legend in our world, or weapons of legend in-work? Eg, Gram in the tale of Sigurd Fafnirsbane can hardly be said to be legendary in-story, since Sigurd forges it himself in most versions of the myth.

    Or should the trope be limited to "real-life" legendary weapons that is used in later works - my reading of the first sentence hints at that, but that seems an awfully narrow trope.
  • April 13, 2012
    nman
    ^In-story legendary, I'll reword it to be unambiguous.
  • April 13, 2012
    MiinU

    Video games

    • A Link to the Past: The Master Sword, aka, "The Sword of Evil's Bane", is as legendary as the Triforce itself. It is inscribed in Hyrule's lore that evil ones cannot touch it, nor can anyone, save for the Chosen Hero draw it from the Pedestal of Time.
  • April 13, 2012
    Edokage
  • April 14, 2012
    jatay3
  • April 15, 2012
    morenohijazo
    Tracker the Strada Brac (note that as the series ended just after its discovery, we still have no idea how it's spelled for certain. This spelling is a fan consensus). It was the subject of Vardian and Cirronian legends about how it was made during an ancient war and then stolen by the Migar council and hidden on Earth to keep it away from the Vardians. By the modern era, most of their peoples believed it was simply a myth. Cole and Mel obviously proved them wrong.
  • April 23, 2012
    HyperTurbina
    One can't forget Excalibur from Soul Eater!
  • April 23, 2012
    Fluffycrow
    Wouldn't the A Link To The Past entry apply to all of the The Legend Of Zelda games? The Master Sword is present in all of them.
  • April 23, 2012
    nman
    ^^Hmm, would Excalibur be a subtrope? ^Fixed it, thanks.
  • June 15, 2012
    morenohijazo
    Excalibur already has a section in the Public Domain Artifact page.
  • June 15, 2012
    LordGro
    Literature
    • In The Hobbit, Bilbo, Gandalf and the dwarfs find two longswords in the trolls' treasury that turn out to be Glamdring and Orcrist, two legendary swords forged millennia earlier by the elves of Gondolin.
    • Several of the 13th century Sagas of Icelanders (specifically Kormak's Saga and Laxdoela Saga) have a cameo of Skofnung, the legendary sword of the ancient Danish king Hrolf Kraki told about in The Saga Of Hrolf Kraki, which supposedly was robbed from Hrolf's gravemound and brought to Iceland by the Icelander Skeggi of Midfirth.

    Edit: Maybe it would make sense to widen this trope to Legendary Artifact? Take, for example, the One Ring from The Lord Of The Rings which seems like a run-of-the-mill magic ring at first but then is revealed as the legendary Ruling Ring of Sauron.
  • June 15, 2012
    Ryuuma
    Video Game

    • In Titan Quest the most powerful weapons and items are the "Legendary" or "Myhtological" ones.

    Music

  • September 21, 2012
    Damr1990
    bump?
  • September 22, 2012
    Koveras
  • October 25, 2012
    makesadifference
    • Excalibur in Merlin which Arthur is going to rip out of that stone as revealed by the series trailer, and Lancelot's sword which I have momentarily forgotten the name of.
    • The Sword of Godric Gryffindor in Harry Potter.
    • Mjolnir in Thor.
  • November 8, 2012
    nman
    I still don't know how to describe this trope properly, in a way that makes it clear that the weapon has to be legendary in-universe, so as to avoid people shoving in any Public Domain Artifact or old weapon that is mentioned in a work. Anyone got an idea?
  • November 8, 2012
    StarSword
    Also under Dragon Age:
    • If you acquired the weapon Vigilance in Awakening, the epilogue mentions that it went on to become one of these.
  • February 14, 2013
    LordGro
    @nman: Maybe you have trouble expressing the difference because there isn't much. A character finding a Public Domain Artifact like Excalibur [the original, not a sword that just has the same name] seems like a legitimate instance of this trope, so long as King Arthur is already considered a legendary hero of the past in the setting. And while not every old weapon is legendary, every legendary weapon is old (at least I can't think of an exception).
  • February 14, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Dungeons And Dragons has had many of these, from the Axe of the Dwarvish Lords and Sword of Kas in the 1st Edition Dungeons Master's Guide to the swords of the Forgotten Realms as described by Ed Greenwood (Adjatha, Albruin, Demonbane, etc.).
  • February 14, 2013
    StarSword
    ^^I suggest a note such as, "For weapons in real life folklore, see Public Domain Artifact."
  • February 15, 2013
    LordGro
    But why specifically exclude Public Domain Artifacts? IMHO it doesn't make all that much of a difference whether the weapon was made up from scratch for a story set in a completely fictional setting, or whether it is a weapon from a real-world legend in (a fictional version of) the real world.
  • February 15, 2013
    StarSword
    Fair enough, make that "See also/May overlap with Public Domain Artifact."
  • February 15, 2013
    TrueShadow1
    I think "If the work's setting is based on real world, it may overlap with Public Domain Artifact" is better

  • February 15, 2013
    Larkmarn
    • Excalibur in Soul Eater is considered the strongest of weapons (which, in this setting, is a race) and his power is considered the stuff of legend. Any Meister who wields him is pretty much unstoppable, and many have tried, as his location and exploits are well documented. What isn't, is the fact that he is completely insufferable and no one can stand him long enough to use him for long.

    • The Vampire Killer Whip in Castlevania is considered the ultimate undead-killing holy weapon.

    • The Eternal Sword in the Tales Series. Also known as the Sword of Time, it is capable of cleaving time and space itself.

  • February 16, 2013
    morenohijazo
    I've added the examples to the description, although we'll have to check them again once we've defined the trope.
  • March 9, 2013
    StarSword
    Usually a Named Weapon.

    Film:
  • March 9, 2013
    StarSword
    Video Games:
  • March 10, 2013
    aurora369
    The Daedric Artifacts (at least those that are weapons) are the most legendary weapons in The Elder Scrolls universe. Each is associated with a particular Daedric (daemonic, more or less) deity and passes from owner to owner according to the wishes of those deities. Famous ones include the hammer Volendrung, the dagger Mehrunes' Razor, the Mace of Molag Bal, the sword Dawnbreaker and the staff Wabbajack.
  • March 10, 2013
    JMQwilleran
    Tales Of Graces has the sword of Asbel's father, Aston, which was a legendary eleth sword. When Asbel was in training as a knight, he sold the old, rusted sword for cheap to a traveling merchant called a "Turtlez" (one of many in the game), not realizing its history or potential. Much later in the game, the player can buy it back for hefty premium and take it to the Amarcian Enclave and it turns out to be the extremely powerful Excalibur.
  • March 10, 2013
    StarSword
    Literature (underneath LOTR):
    • Early in The Hobbit, the party recovers a small treasure hoard from some trolls. Among the hoard are a pair of legendary elvish blades, Orcrist the Goblin-Cleaver and Glamdring the Foe-Hammer. Thorin Oakenshield takes Orcrist and it's eventually buried with him, while Gandalf takes Glamdring and uses it several decades later to kill the balrog in The Fellowship of the Ring.

    Additional NWN 2 example:
  • March 10, 2013
    JMQwilleran
    Just a note, I made a small edit to my example to specify the name of Asbel's father.

    (Never mind, I edited it in the original post-- I forgot that anyone can edit that.)
  • March 12, 2013
    morenohijazo
    Is this ready to launch? It has five hats, but there was some discussion above.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=thpeiyl98stu7fc2b98jpvhf