What To Know About the Sword of Life-Stealing in DnD 5e

Last Updated on February 14, 2023

Magical swords are an incredible way to give your players some real power in DnD 5e. Of course, choosing the right one can be difficult and requires a deep understanding of how they work. We’re here to tell you if the Sword of Life Stealing is the right weapon for your 5e campaign.

What Is a Sword of Life Stealing in DnD 5e?

A Sword of Life Stealing is a magical sword that lets you gain temporary hit points when you land a critical hit on a creature. This rare weapon is incredibly useful, although it isn’t quite as straightforward as it might initially seem.

Weapon (any sword), rare (requires attunement)

When you attack a creature with this magic weapon and roll a 20 on the attack roll, that target takes an extra 10 necrotic damage if it isn’t a construct or an undead. You also gain 10 temporary hit points.

The basic premise here is simple. When you roll a 20, you deal 10 extra damage to get a boost of 10 temporary hit points. 

The interesting part here is that you’d probably assume this “life-stealing” sword lets you regain the damage you deal. The name itself is misleading, but it sounds a lot better than “Magical Sword That Lets You Occasionally Deal Extra Damage While Also Giving You a Buff.” Phew, yeah, let’s not use that naming convention ever again.

So, let’s really break down how this works.

For starters, we have to roll a 20. This doesn’t specifically say critical hit, so if your group handles critical hits differently, this would be unaffected. Only when you see 20 on a d20 attack roll does this effect happen.

Then, we deal 10 necrotic damage. This isn’t all too special, but it’s probably not going to be resisted unless we’re facing incredibly powerful creatures. The few creatures that would normally resist this are constructs and undead creatures, but they’re already unaffected by this ability.

Lastly, we gain 10 temporary hit points. This is the piece that people often get mixed up. Your temporary hit points are not dependent on the damage you deal. Even if you attack a construct, an undead, or a creature that is immune to necrotic damage, you still receive 10 temporary hit points. 

The other big thing to be aware of here is that temporary hit points do not stack. So, if you’re lucky enough to roll a 20 on two attacks in a row, you still only walk away with 10 temporary hit points. Fortunately, if you have less than 10 temporary HP, this will replace that lower number since you always take the higher option.

Is a Sword of Life-Stealing a Good Weapon?

This is an okay weapon. Had I been on the design team, I would’ve hesitated to make this rare. It really feels like an uncommon magic item since it has no passive benefit and only works on a natural 20 roll. Essentially, it’s just an improved critical hit, and those are already deadly enough to not really need a boost.

I think a true life-stealing sword would let you regain HP based on the damage you deal with it. We might model it off of a vampire’s bite so that it feels like the life-stealing we all know and love. Doing so, we could end up with something like this:

Weapon (any sword), rare (requires attunement)

This weapon deals an extra 1d6 necrotic damage to any creature that isn’t a construct or undead. You regain hit points equal to the necrotic damage dealt.

The damage here is half of what a flame tongue deals as a bit of a trade-off for regaining health. This is definitely an amazing item, but it will still pale in comparison to very rare items you can pick up later on. Plus, as a DM, you can be sure to throw more undead or construct creatures at your players if you don’t want them to be benefiting from this as often.


How Much Does the Sword of Life Stealing Cost?

A sword of life stealing costs 1,000 gp.

How Does a Sword of Life Stealing Work?

A sword of life stealing deals 10 necrotic damage and gives you 10 temporary hit points when you roll a natural 20.

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