When its power cell is activated, often by touching a control located on the hilt, the blade is sheathed in a lethal corona of disruptive energy. This energy field allows the blade to carve through flesh, bone and most forms of armour plate alike, making a power sword a highly effective close combat weapon.
Power swords are used by all members of the Imperial armed forces, including the troops of the Astra Militarum and the Space Marines of the Adeptus Astartes, as well as their Chaos counterparts among the Lost and the Damned and the Chaos Space Marines.
Power weapons have been a part of the Imperium at least since its inception, but their origins more than likely lie in the mysterious Dark Age of Technology. By the 41st Millennium, most power weapons are considered rare and greatly coveted personal close combat melee weapons used on the battlefields.
Few members of the Adeptus Mechanicus retain the knowledge necessary to make these deadly weapons, and those that are in existence are often hundreds or even thousands of standard years old. Power swords are elite weapons and a sure sign of high status in the Imperium; many military officers favour them as a prestige item to impress allies and enemies alike.
Like a common sword, they allow the user greater attack options and defensive responses than many other melee weapons. Entire specialised styles of combat have been designed around the expansive number of variants found across the galaxy and beyond. Power weapons require great investments of time and rare materials to produce.
Therefore, power swords are typically reserved for high-ranking members of the Adeptus Astartes or other powerful and influential members of the Imperium, such as Inquisitors, Commissars or Astra Militarum officers. Elegant but effective, power swords allow the user greater attack options and defensive responses than many other varieties of power weapon. This efficient design makes them popular with officers regardless of whether they specialise in close combat or not.
Often the signature weapons of elite warriors, power swords are perhaps the most dangerous of melee weapons in the galaxy. In the hands of a skilled swordsman, they combine a deadly offence with a nearly impenetrable defence. They come in a variety of shapes and styles, and entire schools are devoted to their mastery.
Like all power weapons, a power sword projects a disruptive energy field along the blade of the weapon, allowing it to slice armour or strike with explosive impact. In theory, any weapon can be upgraded to a power weapon given the necessary technology, though in practice there is a traditional array in use by the Adeptus Astartes.
The sight of a transhuman angel of vengeance charging into battle is intimidating in its own right. When his weapon or fist itself suddenly flares to life in a halo of electricity, it becomes truly inspiring -- or terrifying -- depending on which side of the charge you are on. A power weapon can still be used as an ordinary melee weapon of its type should its power source become inhibited or damaged.
Notable Power Sword Patterns
- Baal Pattern Mk IV - A modern variant commonly utilised by the Blood Angels Space Marine Chapter.
- Cavalry Sabre - Favoured by many Rough Rider Imperial Guard sergeants and officers, the cavalry sabre is heavier than most Departmento Munitorum issue power swords, with a broad blade and, consequently, a somewhat larger power field. Though less nimble than its counterparts, the heavy blade is perfectly suited for cutting down enemies while charging by on a swift mount. Those rough riders who are able to acquire a cavalry sabre often carry it as a secondary weapon, switching from their hunting lance if any enemies are left standing after the initial charge.
- Frost Blade - A Frost Blade is a master-crafted melee weapon in the form of a sword, axe, Chainsword or any other type of bladed close combat weapon that is used exclusively by the warriors of the Space Wolves Chapter of Space Marines and is equivalent in many ways to a Power Weapon of similar design. Each Frost Blade is considered amongst the most prized weapons of the Chapter and is crafted by a master Iron Priest.
- Ingelldina Pattern - A commonly used variant of power sword soley utilised by the Adeptus Astartes.
- Honour Blades - Presented to champions of the Ultramarines Chapter, Honour Blades are a matching Broadsword and Poniard power blade set. Wielded together, the blades are perfectly matched and provide the champion with an expert defence and attack.
- Loi-Pattern Burning Blade - What started as a series of malfunctioning power swords from the disreputable Clovis Munitorum became a new weapon type after users discovered the faulty field conduits raised the temperature of the blade to over 600 degrees. Loi Metalworks investigated and created what are now known as burning blades, power swords that deliberately create intense heat along their blade so as to burn flesh to the bone with each strike. Heavily insulated so that the user feels little of the inferno raging inches from their palm, these swords are nevertheless extremely dangerous to the wielder as well as their opponents.
- Mk II Mars Pattern - A commonly used variant of power sword utilised by the Dark Angels Space Marine Chapter.
- Mordian Pattern - The Mordian variant is designed to support a defensive parry, with a lighter weight and thinner, two sided blade.
- Munitorum Pattern - The commonly used variant of power sword utilised by members of the Imperial Guard.
- Paragon Blade - Utilised primarily during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras during the 30th and early 31st Millennia, weapons forged of consummate artistry or irreplaceable relics of the ancient might of the Dark Age of Technology, Paragon blades were few in number and took many forms. The most common Paragon blades were two-handed power weapons of extraordinary balance and durability, although even more rarely unique Chain Weapons have been known to hold similar phenomenal killing power. Regardless of their form, Paragon blades were valued beyond price by the Imperium's warriors.
- Terranic Greatsword - The Terranic Greatsword was a large, two-handed power sword used by the Knights Cenobium of the Dark Angels Space Marine Legion.
Notable Power Swords
- Blade of Caliban - Blades of Caliban are Chapter relics of the Dark Angels and their Unforgiven Successor Chapters. Each has its own honourable heritage. Only the Champions of each Dark Angels company, having performed heroic and faultless duty, earn the right to wield one of these unique power swords.
- Blade of the Scorpion - The Blade of the Scorpion is a power sword and a powerful relic of war, having long been the chosen weapon of each successive Lord High Commander (Chapter Master) of the Red Scorpions. This great sword is perfectly balanced, having been made of micro-folded Adamantium, etched at a molecular level with liturgies of harm and destruction. The blade can cleave through even Ceramite plate unassisted when wielded with a Space Marine's superhuman strength. But what makes the Blade of the Scorpion so special is its disruption field generator, which is far more powerful than that found on a standard Power Weapon and which gives the blade its devastating strength. In skilled hands, the sword can bisect even a Chaos Terminator in a single blow or shatter granite without so much as marring the blade's mirror-like finish. The Blade of the Scorpion is currently wielded by Carab Culln, the current Lord High Commander of the Red Scorpions Chapter.
- Blade Encarmine - The Blade Encarmine is a revered relic of the Blood Angels Chapter that is an artefact of Belarius, a servant of the Primarch Sanguinius during the time of the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy, which was given to him by the Primarch himself. Berlarius went on to become the first Chapter Master of the Blood Angels after the death of Sanguinius at the hands of Horus aboard his flagship the Vengeful Spirit during the climax of the Battle of Terra.
- Chogoris Lightning Blade - An ancient White Scars Space Marine Chapter relic, the Chogoris Lightning Blade is a dazzling silver power sword with a jagged blade crafted in the shape of a lightning bolt. Seemingly heavy and unbalanced upon first inspection, the sword appears more a ceremonial piece than the true weapon of war. When its power field is activated it springs to life, blue radiance arcing from its edge and intricate, hidden suspensors in its hilt making it as light as a feather. The Chogoris Lightning Blade was passed to the Deathwatch by the White Scars Battle-Brother Kubilei upon his death fighting near the Hadex Anomaly.
- Claw of the Desert Tiger - This magnificent power sword is carried by Captain Al'rahem, the company commander of the 3rd Tallarn Regiment, the "Desert Tigers." The curved blade of this weapon was crafted into the shape of a scimitar. It was forged by master artisans and encrusted with the emblems of the desert. Its appearance has raised this weapon to legendary status, so that in the hands of Al'rahem it is regarded with awe by his friends, and with fear by his foes.
- Heavenfall Blades - The Heavenfall Blades are a quintumvirate of legendary power swords wielded by the highest-ranking members of the Inner Circle of the Dark Angels Space Marine Chapter. According to Chapter lore, the Heavenfall Blades were cut from a single block of obsidian that formed the core of a meteorite that struck The Rock, the Chapter's mobile fortress-monastery, in orbit around the Feral World of Al Baradad, shortly after the fall of Caliban. Each of these blades is carried by a Master of the Chapter and is as potent a symbol of their rank as it is deadly. Below are the known Heavenfall Blades that exist:
- Sword of Secrets - The Sword of Secrets is the mightiest of the Heavenfall Blades, and is wielded by Azrael, the current Supreme Grand Master of the Dark Angels. Its blade is so incredibly well-crafted that it has not chipped nor lost its razor-sharp edge over its many millennia of bloody use. Only the Supreme Grand Master knows that it is also the only device that allows access to the deepest known dungeon in The Rock. Fitting the blade into a cleft in the wall unlocks the iron gate leading to a dark tunnel and the rune-protected cell in which the Arch-Heretic Luther is imprisoned.
- Sword of Silence - In times of need, Belial, the Grand Master of the Deathwing (1st) Company, wields the famous master-crafted power sword known as the Sword of Silence. This sword is one of a quadrumvirate of legendary swords collectively known as the Heavenfall Blades. These formidable weapons are only carried by the highest-ranking members of the Inner Circle of the Dark Angels. The Chapter's lore states that these blades were forged from the core of a meteorite that struck The Rock in orbit around the Feral World of Al Baradad. The blades wielded by the Grand Master of the Deathwing and the Master of the Ravenwing also utilise small amounts of the obsidian taken from the meteorite in their working.
- Raven Sword - This infamous master-crafted power sword is one of a quadrumvirate of legendary swords collectively known as the Heavenfall Blades. These formidable weapons are only carried by the highest-ranking members of the Dark Angels' Inner Circle. Chapter lore states that these blades were forged from the core of a meteorite that struck The Rock in orbit around the Feral World of Al Baradad. The blades wielded by the Master of the Deathwing and the Master of the Ravenwing also utilise small amounts of the obsidian taken from the meteorite in their working. It is also said that a small portion of this meteoric substance was despatched to each of the Dark Angels' Successor Chapters, so that the senior members of the Unforgiven's own Inner Circles would also bear the same heritage forged in steel as those borne by the Masters of the Dark Angels. The Raven Sword is currently in the possession of the Master of the Ravenwing, Captain Sammael.
- Fellbane - One of the legendary power swords collectively known as the Heavenfall Blades. These formidable weapons are carried only by the highest-ranking members of the Dark Angels' Inner Circle. Chapter lore states that these blades were forged from the core of a meteorite that struck The Rock in orbit around the Feral World of Al Baradad. Fellbane is currently in the possession of Master Balthasar, Captain of the Dark Angels' 5th Company.
- Sword of Sanctity - The sword was gifted to Grand Master Orias, the first lord of the Disciples of Caliban who fell in battle against the Orks of the Quolon Pass. The sword was recovered about the 970.M41 by Grand Master Nakir of the Consecrators Chapter, who 30 years later offered it to the Supreme Grand Master Azrael of the Dark Angels, with the intention of returning the blade to its proper master. Azrael answered that, "It has found its proper master. It is not only yours by right of recovery, but you would bring honour to the cousin of my own blade", and gave it back to Nahir.
- Libertas - This ancient power sword was born by Nathaniel Garro, former Battle-Captain of the Death Guard Legion's 7th Great Company during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras. It was said that this ancient sword pre-dated even its bearer. Some elements of the weapon had been fabricated on Old Earth before the Age of Strife. There were no visible imperfections visible in the crystalline matrix of its monosteel blade.
- Liberatus - This power sword was gifted to the Imperial commander Slaydo, chief architect and first Imperial Warmaster of the Sabbat Worlds Crusade, at the outset of the Imperial campaign around 755.M41. Ultimately, Slaydo was killed in action during the Imperial military campaign to reclaim the world of Balhaut after engaging in single combat with the Forces of Chaos' commander in the sector, the Archon Nadzybar. Fortunately the sword was saved by one of his bodyguards, and later presented to Slaydo's successor, Macaroth.
- Monster Slayer of Caliban - This ancient power sword of the Dark Angels Chapter was traditionally bestowed upon the most honourable knight of The Order before the onset of a long quest into the wilds of Caliban. Its well-honed blade is empowered by a force generator of magnificent strength; however; over the ages, it has grown somewhat temperamental, and the know-how to fix such ancient technology has passed beyond what the Techmarines of the Dark Angels can now repair in the late 41st Millennium. It is believed that as long as its owner stays pure of mind, the Monster Slayer of Caliban will strike down even the greatest of foes. This has been proven countless times, perhaps most famously when Master Mortifer wielded the blade to dispatch three hulking Carnifexes. It is said that Mortifer later lost his faith, and the sword fizzled out at a critical moment and could not penetrate even the crude armour of an Ork Warlord.
- Needle of Truth - It is the task of the Dark Angels Interrogator-Chaplains to extract truth from those captured by the Chapter, as well as protect its secrets and maintain its spiritual well being. The Needle of Truth is an ancient blade which was taken by the Chapter to the Jericho Reach to uncover the secrets this new sector harboured, especially rumours of the Fallen. In addition to being a finely crafted power sword, the Needle of Truth has a terrible power over heretics and while its blade is bared any daemon or follower of the Dark Gods suffers when in its presence.
- Shard of Bekrin - Among those defending the Shrine World of Bekrin from the invasion of Hive Fleet Dagon was Tarvos, a Blood Angels Battle-Brother in the service of the Deathwatch. During the evacuation of the world's clergy, Tarvos gave his life defeating a Hive Tyrant in a glorious display of heroism. Though his body was not recovered, his broken power sword was returned to the armoury of Watch Fortress Erioch. Remarkably, the weapon still hums with power though half its length is gone, and those that look upon its stained blade at once feel the power of the brother who once wielded it. The blade has since become a relic of the Deathwatch in the Jericho Reach and has found use both as an icon of valour and a weapon, especially against the Tyranid Swarms.
- Sword of Hieronymo Sondar - This power sword was gifted to Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt of the Tanith First-and-Only Imperial Guard Regiment after his successful defence of Vervunhive. The Sword of Heironymo Sondar is an exceptionally strong power sword, and an heirloom of the Hive City of Vervunhive on the world of Verghast during the Sabbat Worlds Crusade. It is said that whoever leads Vervunhive's forces in battle must wield this weapon. After the death of most of Vervunhive's leadership -- military and administrative -- during the invasion by the Forces of Chaos under the command of Heritor Asphodel in 769.M41, the sword was given to Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt, the senior Imperial commander in Vervunhive (all of the others were either dead or imprisoned). The sword remained in Gaunt's possession after the battle, gifted to him for his actions in the defence of Vervunhive during the Heritor's siege. A deadly weapon, it has never left the commissar's side.
- Sword of Vord - The Sword of Vord is a relic power sword of the Red Scorpions elite 1st Company. This was a symbol of his office when Carab Culln served as commander of the 1st Company. Culln relinquished his former weapon to his successor commander upon his ascension to the position of Lord High Commander.
- Talassarian Tempest Blade - A rare and potent power sword wielded by the famous Captain Cato Sicarius, commander of the Ultramarines 2nd Company. The weapon's energy field is so well attuned, and the blade contained within so sharp, that a focused attack from its wielder can slay any foe with a single strike.
- Tears of the Scorpion - The Red Scorpions have vast armouries, compared to many Chapters, with copious examples of master-crafted melee and ranged weapons carefully maintained and protected by the Chapter. Among all of these fine weapons none are as revered by the Red Scorpions as the relic blades known as the Tears of the Scorpion. Ancient weapons of immense spiritual value to the Chapter and of long lost eldritch design they are only ever gifted to the greatest of Red Scorpion Battle-Brothers, often reserved for its company commanders and Chapter Masters. In rare instances if a hero of the Chapter proves himself worthy he may be allowed to wield one of the blades in battle, but such is a rare and great honour. The Tears of the Scorpion generate a power field of ancient and powerful design. Other weapons with the power field quality offer no protection from this vicious blade.
- The Black Sword - The traditional weapon of the Emperor's Champion is the Black Sword. A massive two handed power sword, blessed by the Chapter Chaplains, it becomes a deadly weapon in the hands of the chosen of the Black Templars.
- The Everburning Brand - After the destruction of the Fire Hawks' home world in the Age of Apostasy, it is said that one of the chief armourers of Watch Fortress Erioch, a Fire Hawk himself, went mad with grief and would not leave his forge, until at last, even his superhuman constitution failed him, and the strain of exhaustion and hunger slew him. The blade known as the Everburning Brand, burns with the mad rage of its maker, believed to be the provenance of this tragic event. The Brand's power field is incredibly potent, but dangerously unstable, and the blade has been shattered within the field in several battles, only to be painstakingly reforged.
- The Scyphus Vitae - The unique curse of the Blood Drinkers is a carefully kept secret, and one the Chapter has gone to great lengths to keep. From some perspectives, the true worth of the mighty blade known as the Scyphus Vitae is not in its killing edge or fearsome length, but in the shame it can avert. The Scyphus Vitae has a unique power field permeable to the blood of foes, which it channels down a deep fuller in the centre of the blade, and from there, to an injector linked to the med-ports of Astartes Power Armour. The weapon thus allows the Red Thirst to be slaked in battle, with no outsiders gaining knowledge of this secret stain on the Chapter's honour. The Scyphus Vitae is a two-handed Astartes power sword.
- The Shadow in the Sky - An ancient weapon of the Raven Guard Chapter, the Shadow in the Sky is a long, curved power sword like the talon of a bird. Perfectly balanced and with a razor's edge, it seems to move with a mind of its own when in the hands of a Raven Guard Battle-Brother.
- The Sword of Asur - This Diresword, the first of its kind, is wielded by the Eldar Phoenix Lord Asurmen. This blade contains the Spirit Stone of his long-dead brother Tethesis, that he might continue the fight against the minions of the Great Enemy until the end of time.
Xenos Power Swords
The military forces of the Imperium are not the only ones who wield these potent weapons into battle. Many of the xenos races utilise the potent properties of such deadly weapons.
- Aeldari Power Swords - There is perhaps nothing so dangerous as a skilled swordsman wielding one of these deadly alien blades. Impossibly slender yet strong, shimmering with field energies, and studded with mysterious glowing gems, an Aeldari power sword is a premier status symbol for anyone lucky enough to wield one. It is unheard of for these xenos to sell such a weapon and they reclaim them by force, adding even more of a delightfully forbidden air to ownership.
- Direswords - Direswords are an Aeldari Power Weapon only wielded by Exarchs of the Dire Avengers Aspect. These one-handed, single-edged power swords are crafted in the Aeldari style, into which a potent Aeldari spirit has been placed through the incorporation of a Spirit Stone into the blade. Any target wounded by a Diresword can be killed outright by the spirit residing within the Spirit Stone. When a blow is struck, the spirit within the sword will attempt to destroy the enemy's mind, potentially killing them instantly. This action is similar to the Imperial Nemesis Force Weapons used by psykers like the Grey Knights. The Phoenix Lord Asurmen still carries the very first Diresword, the Sword of Asur. It contains the soul of his brother Tethesis, who was slain by a daemon, which allows the ancient Aeldari hero to continue to fight against the greatest enemies of his people.
- Mirrorswords - A Mirrorsword is an Aeldari Power Weapon that is commonly employed by those Exarchs of the Howling Banshees who have mastered a deadly ambidextrous form of melee combat that uses the paired identical power swords. Mirrorswords allow for a greater number of blows to be made by the wielder in melee combat, compared to other Eldar warriors who also wield dual close combat weapons.
- Powerblades - Power Blades are Aeldari Power Weapons commonly employed by Exarchs of the Warp Spiders. These twinned power weapons are fitted to the forearms of the user, resembling the foreclaws of a stylised Aeldari spider.
- Drukhari Power Sword - Drukhari warriors make use of power swords much like their Craftworld Aeldari counterparts. But in addition to maintaining a potent power field that can burn and disrupt the atomic bonds of any substance the blade comes in contact with, wicked-looking Drukhari power swords are also often coated in horrific toxins and poisons that can cause all forms of excruciating death.
- Klaive - A Klaive is a Drukhari Power Weapon often favoured by their Incubi warriors. Almost all Incubi favour this great, two-handed power sword. A Klaive is a masterpiece of balance and form; the Incubi consider Klaives to be the one and only true weapon.
- Hyperphase Sword - A Hyperphase Sword is a Necron melee weapon whose energy blade vibrates across dimensional states and can easily slice through armour and flesh to sever the vital organs within. A Hyperphase Sword can be considered an advanced type of Power Weapon. Hyperphase Swords are found exclusively as part of the armouries of Necron royals, such as Necron Overlords, Necron Lords, Necron Destroyer Lords, and their favoured Lychguards.
- Black Crusade: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 163, 165
- Codex: Angels of Death (2nd Edition), pp. 13, 41, 62
- Codex: Dark Angels (3rd Edition), pg. 18
- Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition), pg. 59
- Codex: Dark Angels (6th Edition), pp. 52-53, 56, 58-59, 92
- Codex: Dark Angels (4th Edition), pp. 42-45, 46-47
- Codex: Dark Eldar (5th Edition), pp. 31, 58
- Codex: Edlar (6th Edition), pp. 56, 64
- Codex: Eldar (4th Edition), pp. 30, 55
- Codex: Eldar (3rd Edition), pp. 34, 41-42
- Codex: Imperial Guard (5th Edition), pg. 64
- Codex: Imperial Guard (2nd Edition), pg. 87
- Codex: Necrons (5th Edition), pp. 81, 89-90, 92
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pg. 99
- Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition), pp. 57, 67
- Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 140
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 155
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pp. 98-100
- Deathwatch: Honour the Chapter (RPG), pg. 127, 131, 133, 135
- Deathwatch: The Outer Reach (RPG), pp. 121, 131
- Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pg. 157
- Imperial Armour Volume Five - The Siege of Vraks, Part One, pg. 150
- Imperial Armour Volume Nine - The Badab War, Part One,
- Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War, Part Two,
- Imperial Munitorum Manual, pg. 67
- Only War: Hammer of the Emperor (RPG), pg. 117
- Rogue Trader: Into the Storm (RPG), pp. 124-125
- Rogue Trader: The Explorer's Handbook (RPG), pg. 124
- The Sabbat Worlds Crusade (Background Book) by Dan Abnett, pgs. 10-11
- The Horus Heresy Book One: Betrayal (Imperial Armour), pg. 235
- Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1st Edition), pp. 78-79
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), pg. 59
- Warhammer 40,000: Wargear (2nd Edition), pg. 11
- Warlords of the Dark Millennium: Belial (Digital Edition)
- Warlords of the Dark Millennium: Sammael (Digital Edition)
- Flight of the Eisenstein (Novel) by James Swallow
- Garro: Oath of Moment (Audio Book) by James Swallow
- Garro: Legion of One (Audio Book) by James Swallow
- Garro: Sword of Truth (Audio Book) by James Swallow
- The Ascension of Balthasar (Audio) by Christian Dunn
- Dark Vengeance (Novel) by Christian Dunn
- Necropolis (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Regicide (Short Story) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Wolfblade (Novel) by William King, pg. 248
- Warhammer Community - Horus Heresy, The Road to Thramas - Part 2: On the Knight Shift