Unique and exotic weapons are staples of high fantasy. Epic quests to uncover ancient crafting knowledge and crafting the item you need to defeat the villains is a fun and tested story arc for the heroes to learn and grow alongside.
The good news with silvered weapons is that you won’t have to go through that headache at most tables!
However, what are silvered weapons exactly? What benefits do they provide to adventurers that use weapons or ammunition for their bows and crossbows?
It turns out that this addition to your weapon collection could help out in some clutch circumstances.
What Are Silvered Weapons?
Silvered weapons in D&D 5e are weapons that are plated with silver, not made out of silver. Silver is a soft metal in real life, meaning a sword or arrowhead made from pure silver would break or chip quickly in a fight.
However, by coating a weapon in silver, you get the benefits of iron or steel’s rigidity, but the properties of silver when you need them.
According to page 49 of the D&D Basic Rules PDF, there are the official rules about silvered weapons:
“Some monsters that have immunity or resistance to nonmagical weapons are susceptible to silver weapons, so cautious adventurers invest extra coin to plate their weapons with silver. You can silver a single weapon or ten pieces of ammunition for 100 gp. This cost represents not only the price of the silver, but the time and expertise needed to add silver to the weapon without making it less effective.”
To put it in other words, silvered weapons are a specialty item a blacksmith can make or modify for your character.
Although they can be expensive for adventurers that are just starting, silvered weapons can be important for overcoming tough monsters without magic. This is good news for the martial characters out there!
Also, silvered weapons aren’t limited in choice.
The rules state that any weapon could be silvered. While this doesn’t make sense for wooden weapons like clubs and staves, you can technically do so by the rules.
Since this is a weird grey area in the rules, it’s best to talk to your DM about how these rules pan out with wooden weapons. Some DMs might not allow it, while others might flavor things such as adding silver caps to the end of your staff.
Silvered vs. Magical Weapons
It’s worth noting that the silvered property you can give a weapon doesn’t make the weapon magical. A weapon gets its magical property from either spells that say they grant that property, or from magical enchantments placed on them by a crafter.
In other words, all the silvered property does for a weapon is make the weapon overcome resistances and immunities related to silvered weapons. A silvered weapon can become magical if you get it enchanted, however.
Also, you can find an enchanted silver sword if your DM writes one into a treasure hoard. Be on the lookout, though…if your DM does this, expect some lycanthropes in your future!
When To Use Silvered Weapons
Now that you know what silvered weapons are, it’s important to know when you’d want to use one. If you’re going to spend all that gold on a silvered weapon, you want to make sure it’ll be put to good use!
You Are Fighting Monsters With Nonsilvered Weapon Damage Resistances
There are quite a few creatures in the Monster Manual that are resistant to weapon damage types. However, some of these resistances can be overcome with a silvered weapon.
That means, if you’re going after some of these kinds of creatures, you’ll want to be armed with a silvered weapon:
- Devils: Many of the devils in the Monster Manual, from imps to pit fiends, resist nonmagical weapon attacks that aren’t silvered.
- Undead: Some undead, like wraiths and wights, have their resistances ignored if you use a silvered weapon against them.
- Fey: The night hag is one of the few fey that can have their damage resistances against weapons cut with silvered weapons.
Being able to ignore resistances will go a long way in defeating these foes. Resistances half the damage you deal, so using a silvered weapon against these creatures means that you are doubling your damage compared to using a normal weapon.
You Are Fighting Monsters With Nonsilvered Weapon Damage Immunities
Something even worse than resistance for adventurers to overcome is immunities.
Some creatures in the worlds of D&D have total immunity to weapons that aren’t silvered. No matter what weapon you use, if it isn’t magical or silvered, you won’t do any damage to them.
When it comes to the creatures in the Monster Manual, the lycanthropes are the creatures you have to have a silvered weapon to deal damage to them. Werewolves, werebears, all of these werecreatures need a silvered weapon to harm with a weapon.
You Are Roleplaying Your Githyanki Character
Githyanki is a race of humanoids first seen in the Monster Manual but eventually came out in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes as a playable race.
These humanoids were part of a race that was enslaved by illithids long ago but were able to break free from this subjugation. After their escape, the race called the gith, split into two factions: the githyanki and the githzerai.
The githyanki believe that conflict and pillaging is the best way to obtain the resources they need to end the illithid menace. They raid the Material Plane to obtain what they need to fight the illithids with little regard for the races they hurt in the process.
The Monster Manual describes the silver swords that they use as an heirloom or iconic piece of gear they use to hunt illithids. Although illithids don’t have a mechanical weakness to silver, the githyanki use these weapons to the point that others using silvered weapons is an affront to their beliefs. Only they are worthy of a silvered blade.
If you play as a githyanki, you might want a silvered weapon just to have that connection to your culture. Using nonsilvered weapons might even be an insult to you, depending on how far you want to take this character trait.
Silvered Weapons FAQ
Since silvered weapons don’t see frequent use, here are some of the common questions we’ve found about how silvered weapons work:
Do Silvered Weapons Count as Magical?
On their own, silvered weapons are not magical. The silvered property on a weapon just grants the weapon the ability to overcome resistances against nonsilvered weapons. However, a magical weapon could be silvered, or already come silvered, when you find it.
Can An Adamantine Weapon Be Silvered?
Yes, an adamantine weapon can be silvered! These weapons work the same way as others, where you are coating the weapon in silver and using the adamantine underneath to give the rigidity the weapon needs to function well. This also means that adamantine’s properties still apply to each attack.
How Do You Silver A Weapon?
To silver a weapon, you would need to bring both the weapon or ammunition, as well as 100gp, to a blacksmith. From there, the blacksmith would go about the delicate plating process to add the silver coating to the weapon. The rules don’t state how long this takes, though.
How Long Does A Silvered Weapon Last?
According to official rules, the silver plating doesn’t wear off once applied. It’s generally assumed that the plating is part of the maintenance and general repair of the weapon after it’s applied. Just make sure you stay away from rust monsters or other creatures that corrode weapons!
Wrapping It Up
Whether it’s for defeating specific monsters or for flavor, a silvered weapon can be a useful tool for many martial adventurers.
Having the ability to switch to a silvered weapon means that you can be prepared to fend off another category of nasty monsters.
Magical weapons, although nice, aren’t always a guarantee, so this option lets you overcome frustrating resistances and immunities without relying on what you loot from dungeons.
If you think your next campaign or story arc might feature some of the monsters mentioned earlier, grab a silvered weapon for yourself! It could be the difference between survival and defeat.
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I played the game a lot as a kid, back in first edition. Over the past few years since 5e was released, I’ve really started getting back into it. Currently, I run a campaign online for some friends and my brothers, and we also play a side-sesh just to mix things up.