While doing research, I stumbled across the alloy "arsenical bronze", in which copper is smelted with arsenic instead of (or in addition to) tin. This apparently gives you "a stronger final product and better casting behaviour" than ordinary bronze, but what interests me is the use of a toxic metal in an alloy that was used, among other things, to forge swords and axes.
Arsenical bronze doesn't have enough arsenic in it to be toxic, but it got me thinking. Poisoned swords/knives are common enough in medieval fantasy stories, but you'd have to keep applying the poison to them, and that's a pain. But what if, by using toxic heavy metals or their various alloys, you could forge a sword that is naturally toxic?
In other words, is it possible to create a sword with the following properties:
- Can be forged using medieval technology
- Has a blade at least 45cm (18in) long
- Is durable enough to survive a swordfight without breaking
- Is toxic enough that being cut by it will cause some kind of physiological damage. It doesn't have to be lethal, but it should be more harmful than just being cut by a regular weapon
- Ideally does not slowly poison the wielder, so long as they refrain from touching the blade
Things I am willing to handwave or ignore:
- Whether the necessary elements/alloys, or their toxic properties, were known or readily available in medieval times
- Whether the person who forged the weapon would have been poisoned in the process
Since a few people have asked what the use case for this weapon is: I was thinking it would make a cool unique weapon for my RPG series (hence the "medieval" requirement). A toxic sword isn't particularly useful in a real swordfight, but in an RPG battle where powerful enemies could tank dozens or even hundreds of hits, suddenly it's a lot more handy.
I am aware of this similar question, but it's specifically asking whether you could use pure arsenic to make a toxic sword, and the answer is no (it's too brittle). I'm asking whether there are any alloys that would let you make such a weapon.