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I should preface this by informing you that the story I'm writing is mostly comedy, but I'll try to incorporate reason and meaning behind the jokes.

I have a small joke written in my story where the protagonist, the Demon King, who just woke up from a 1000-year nap, was shocked to find the legendary sword designed to kill him just sitting in the middle of a village of some isolated village. Of course, it was a fake.

The actual legendary sword in stone left behind by the former hero was gone, creating a lot of confusion around the realm. Now, many towns and villages claim they have the legendary sword, each with their own stories on how the sword finds its way there and over time creating a lot of confusion about which version of the story is the real legend of the hero.

The towns and villages with these fake swords allow those who pay them a large fee to try and pull it. Of course, this is a scam as the swords were fakes, but in a world where magic and various fantasy races exist, how would the various towns and villages make sure that the fake legendary sword wouldn't be pulled from its stone sheath?

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    $\begingroup$ no context; without any knowledge of the rules in your world, we can't possibly answer this question. $\endgroup$
    – alkahest
    Feb 14 at 12:56
  • $\begingroup$ Noted, sorry, still not used to this site yet. What sort of context would I need to explain to improve the question? $\endgroup$ Feb 14 at 12:58
  • $\begingroup$ Since Magic seems to be a factor to be taken into consideration we would need to know what the magic can and what it can not do. Otherwise the answer is: "with magic" and the counter argument to every other answer is "it could be detected as fake or be pulled out by magic". If you take magic out of of the question (maybe because it is really rare) the answer by square-cube law should work fine. $\endgroup$
    – datacube
    Feb 14 at 13:47
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    $\begingroup$ René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, Asterix and the Chieftain's Shield (originally Le bouclier arverne) (1967). (That with the running gag that nobody knows where Alesia was.) (Nowadays it is believed to have been somewhere near Alise-Sainte-Reine; the name of the village, attested since the 1st century CE, was a very strong hint.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Feb 14 at 13:47
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    $\begingroup$ "Magic" with no defined limits can do basically anything. For any possible solution that might be proposed here, you can imagine a magic spell that will make it not work, and allow you to pull the sword. $\endgroup$ Feb 14 at 16:29

5 Answers 5

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That's not a sword

Forge a thing with the hilt and what seems to be part of a blade, but instead of a point it ends in a three hundred kg (about 600 lbs.) block of iron.

Then use some chemistry to form a rock around the block. Like maybe cover it with cement and add impurities to make it look like real rock, then beat it with a pick and acid and spells to simulate wear.

You can make a living out of selling these simulacra to towns and traveling circuses.

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    $\begingroup$ "A world of magic". ... Which means transmuting/molding rock probably exists. $\endgroup$ Feb 14 at 14:24
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    $\begingroup$ + hollow out a stone and fill it with iron. Plenty of methods to get there I wager. Add a few glowing rune spells that use the power of the pull to glow for extra points. $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Feb 14 at 15:04
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    $\begingroup$ A few ten thousand newtons of force will simply pull the hilt from the block of iron like a piece of taffy. The question is woefully underspecified, but I'm not sure we can rule that out in a world of magic and non-human races. $\endgroup$ Feb 14 at 15:16
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    $\begingroup$ Interesting side idea here is that the real sword in the stone may be indistinguishable from such a fake if the magic that created it actually caused it to weld itself into the rock which can only be undone when the spell that did this detects its true master. So, the real sword in the stone could be lost because it is among the "verified fakes". $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Feb 14 at 22:43
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    $\begingroup$ @NuclearHoagie this reminds me of "the adventures of Lunk". It's a... very dumb, muscular, link (legend of zelda) parody. Spoilering this one tiny detail: Lunk is big and stronk. When faced with a sword in a stone, he grabs the hilt, and lifts it (the sword in the stone. Yes, with the stone.) Lunk now has a weapon he can use as hammer. $\endgroup$
    – Syndic
    Feb 15 at 10:15
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They are swords, that have two hilts and no blade.. the rock is actually just a portal to another sword, another stone, another guy. So its always a tug of war of wannabe kings. And they can hear each other curse and deny each others claim. Sometimes you even throw stuff up through the crack.

In the middle, there is a mechanism attached that uses the energy to power tools in some small village. King powered sawmills, ventilators and blacksmith hammers. Not everyone can afford that.

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    $\begingroup$ I love this, and I am sure that Terry Pratchett would love it too if he were still alive to see this idea. $\endgroup$ Feb 15 at 7:58
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    $\begingroup$ @TheSquare-CubeLaw, he did point out that putting the sword into the stone was the far more impressive feat $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Feb 15 at 8:24
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    $\begingroup$ "Curse you, king under the stone, your an imposter, im king arthur, king of the britons." "I spit at you, king under the stone, for it is i who is the true king, for i did not skip leg day." "And yet i yield not" $\endgroup$
    – Pica
    Feb 15 at 10:16
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Protect the fake with Anti-Magic

There are plenty of mundane ways to anchor a sword into a stone so that no mortal man can pull it out, but in a world of magically strong heroes and bad guys, there are plenty of beings out there that are strong enough to simply snap the blade off of any common metal facimally which would prove that the sword itself is a fake. Or they could use astral perception to see inside the stone to see how you've anchored it in proving that it's not actually magically bound in place, but that it's just held in by a bolt or welded in place or something of that nature. On top of that, you probably have a fair shard of wizards and such with the ability to detect the presence of magic meaning that any fake that does not include a magical component will also be easily dismissed by such an expert.

My original answer to these problems was to use magic to create an illusion so that there is no actual thing to apply any sort of supernatural strength to pull on and break, but within most settings, anything that can be created by magic can also be dispelled by magic; so, this idea may or may not hold depending on your setting. Instead of protecting your fake artifact with magic, you should to make it out of something that naturally counters magic.

Most settings that involve magic have something that can to this: Silver, Iron, and Salt being the most common picks. So, if you were to clad the hilt in silver for example, and some Vampire, Werewolf, or Demon with unnatural strength were to try to pull it free, they would find thier inhuman strength sapped and thier flesh burned away if they were to even try.

Ironically enough, the effort that goes into fabricating these fakes to keep people from cheating may in fact make them adequate demon hunting swords even if they are not the real deal. No the fakes don't have some cut through anything and everything voodoo going for them, but any object designed to nullify magic should have an improved effect against any being that is pure magic in nature such as a demon king.

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  • $\begingroup$ I had this idea in mind, but it was not this detailed. Thanks a lot! I can do a lot with this answer along with the other one by the Square-Cube Law. $\endgroup$ Feb 14 at 16:25
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Mechanical fastener

The world of fasteners has clearly not been considered.

Ie nails, bolts, rivets, screws etc.

There are many ways of keeping two or more pieces of material together. Least effort by a village would be to stick a cotter pin through the sword looking object where it exits the stone. Just don't allow people to inspect the bottom of the stone.

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Dont play the game. Play the player

in a world where magic

Excuse me? You're trying to pull the legendary sword of truth and valor with magic? This is not a contest about who can create the biggest Bigby's hand, this is an ordeal to determine who is worthy.

To be extra safe slap an antimagic field (note that this could be carefully shaped to avoid cancelling any of your magic) and even if someone does pull out the sword with magic, declare that it was no true attempt and that the sword must be returned (a squad of enforcers will come handy).

On to the pesky, maxed strength fighter.

Remember, this is a measure of the character's righteousness, not strength. You dont want a brute to pick the sword right? Therefore, anyone who wants to make an attempt must undergo ritual purification that involves fasting, sleep deprivation etc (each village has its own version ofc and claims the other villages have flawed purification rituals, another indication that they dont have the real sword)

The adventurer still pulled the sword!

Thats nice. But only means that the elders are now happy to sponsor a series of rituals and background checks to confirm that the adventurer managed to pull the sword without cheating and is of good character. Ofc it would've been too expensive to perform them to everyone that attempted, thats why they are performed afterwards.

Did I mention the test of pure heart that requires throwing the adventurer in the river? Floating means the heart is corrupted.

Bonus points for an illusion of blood and shadow that triggers when the sword is pulled and having a local seer run screaming about doom.

Nevertheless, the sword is gone

Oh that old thing? That was just a fake we had to tempt greedy adventurers. The real sword is in this other secret location!

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