So I want my rabbits to have lightning swords. Well it's not literally a blade of plasma but just a metal sword that has a current flowing through it.

What kind of advantages would the weapon bring about in melee fights like duels and group fights?

I would imagine that it would be shocking (pun intended) and would have the capability to paralyze or kill outright since 1 mA is enough to kill humans.

Also I was wondering if there was a way to shoot lightning out from the sword itself and potentially cause arc flashes? It's fine if the sword melts.

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    $\begingroup$ The Thumper Legion was a mighty force with more than a thousand cobby bucks, standing tall with their energized swords crackling in the air and shedding sparks. All through the summer, they ruled the meadow, defeating all who would stand against them. ...then came the spring rains... $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Aug 16 '16 at 14:10
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to strange HNQ titles, population: Worldbuilding. $\endgroup$ – Dan Aug 17 '16 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this entertaining conversation about bunnies wielding electricity has been moved to chat. Please continue it there. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Aug 18 '16 at 2:00
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    $\begingroup$ "1 mA is enough to kill humans" -- (1) you're out by 2 orders of magnitude here. 100mA is usually considered a fatal current; 1mA is barely detectable. See physics.ohio-state.edu/~p616/safety/fatal_current.html. (2) for any current to be fatal it has to pass through a sensitive organ, but most ways you could apply one with a sword it would just flow directly to ground which would usually be across the skin. It'll burn, but it won't kill. Of course this is for humans -- effects on rabbits I have no idea of. $\endgroup$ – Jules Aug 18 '16 at 2:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Jules There is the old 1, 10, 100 rule. 1mA is easily detectable as a tingling sensation. 10mA will feel painful, but in general not produce any damage. 100mA will cause uncontrollable spasms, which if induced in the heart or lungs can cause death. These values do not change between mammals. However, most electrical power sources are VOLTAGE sources, as opposed to current sources. The resistance of the animal will change wildly from species to species. Just apply V=IR. $\endgroup$ – Aron Aug 18 '16 at 8:23

10 Answers 10


The first day your hero rabbits score some terrific wins against their shocked enemy.

The next day your rabbits notice a peculiar wire running from the each sword blade of their opponents... running down to a spur on their feet that stab into the ground with every step they take.

Your hero rabbits then quickly learn a few new concepts.... such as "grounding", "short-circuit", and "over-heated batteries".

Measures, countermeasures, counter-countermeasures... and so technology marches on.

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    $\begingroup$ I do not think it has that much to do with tech level as intelligence. Unless their opponents are incredibly thick they will quickly notice "Oi, there is some foul new magic in play here!". Cut to special task force ambushing a user of these magic swords, dragging him back home and subjecting him to horrible things — pain, waterboarding, Desperate Housewives — until he spills the beans. From there it will not be long until they suss the secret. $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Aug 16 '16 at 13:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Sky If they're building sword tasers I imagine their engineers know of grounding. If these swords are magic (or somebody else made them, or specific knowledge about how they worked was lost to the ages...), it's perfectly reasonable that they wouldn't know. $\endgroup$ – Ranger Aug 16 '16 at 13:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Sky The rabbits will swiftly notice a few Don'ts with these blades, even if they do not understand this magic called "Electricity". 1) Do not touch the blade 2) Do not cross blades with another rabbit that has such a sword (because unless the batteries are charged exactly the same, they will surge). 3) Do not let the blade touch the ground. 4) Do not let the blade touch metal that touches the ground. $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Aug 16 '16 at 13:23
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    $\begingroup$ This won't work. The surface of the ground doesn't conduct electricity particularly well unless it's wet, you need to dig down into the ground well for that. Grounding rods in the US are required to be 8-feet (~2.5m) long. $\endgroup$ – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Aug 16 '16 at 21:09
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    $\begingroup$ @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft Well if the grounding does not work, then stabby-zaps will not work either. If the grounding-spur is not completing the circuit, neither will just standing on the ground either. $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Aug 16 '16 at 21:11

Normally, swords (I'm assuming including your rabbits' own) are insulated at the grip, so just clashing blades shouldn't harm the other guy. Hacking into flesh is going to be generally pretty devastating, but I guess your Stun Sword 9000 will go ahead and ensure that one flesh blow takes out the opponent. Plus, striking chainmail might be effective since, while chainmail was typically worn on top of gambesons, I imagine you'd find at least a bit of skin that connected.

As far as arcing, I don't think your power (implied, if not stated) is even close to enough to do anything worthy of note. A quick Google shows arc welders at about 200+ amps, and while I'm not overly familiar with the tools, from what Youtube shows us they don't seem particularly impressive as far as being weapons.

Of course you didn't tag this question science-based, so if you're willing to handwave hard science, arcing across and melting metals with a lower melting point, maybe fusing together chainmail links, or even creating gastly burns on victims are all interesting concepts you could consider.

  • $\begingroup$ Actually in a earlier question, worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/48066/… , shalvenay discussed the problems of metal armours and arc flashes (search it on google )(Not arc welders XD) I was thinking that if a sword can do something like a lightning strike, formations of knights wearing metal armour would get blown up easily. $\endgroup$ – Skye Aug 16 '16 at 13:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Sky the joys of the Faraday Cage, as long as there's metal to the ground or a softer target the armour wearer would be untouched. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Aug 16 '16 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Separatrix -- the problem with Faraday Cages is that you need standoff distance between you and the arc attach point to avoid taking what effectively is a shotgun blast or worse caused by the extremely hot arc interacting with the metal at the attach point. $\endgroup$ – Shalvenay Aug 16 '16 at 17:54
  • $\begingroup$ Only assuming that kind of power is being put out, in which case, that's happening to the wielder as an equal and opposite reaction (with leverage). The only advantage, really, is that the heat is localized, but any sudden impulse is transferred... And the battery required is not going to be carried by a rabbit. $\endgroup$ – The Nate Aug 16 '16 at 19:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Shalvenay the armour isn't worn against the skin, you have layers of cloth underneath $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Aug 16 '16 at 21:02

Dual Wielding Swords Connected via insulated wire

Weapon Voltage (~2000 V AC RMS?)

The numbers for the resistance of a human body vary a lot, but it seems that with proper contact (such as being stabbed) resistance of a human (between two far points of a body) is between 1k and 100k ohms.

According to this site (which must be legit since it's http:), the amount of current to kill someone is ~0.2 A. http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2000/JackHsu.shtml

If you go with the lower resistance of a human, it would take a voltage difference of just 200 V to kill someone.

This site about the electric chair says that 2000 V (and 15 seconds) were used to electrify people. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/10/20/the_odd_body_electrocution/. Unless these rabbits have power electronics, their swords would probably be DC, which decreases weapon effectiveness.


Making contact with the 2 sides of the opponents armor would make their armor heat up rapidly. The place where the sword makes contact would be spark points, and extremely hot if the rabbit heros have high voltage DC swords. Furthermore, the actual power supplied to the swords can be on a back pack, so the swords can be very light; the main damage being caused by the electricity.


Series connections: All it takes is having enough batteries / capacitors in series to get a large DC voltage. As the power needed isn't actually much (just ~40 W on the 1k 0.2 A model), this is well within reason. A simple mechanical switch that oscillates back and forth would generate an AC square waveform, which could disrupt heart and brain signals. Enimies would learn to fear the clicking sound of death caused by the switches!


There could be something simmilar to a taser. I cannot comment on corona discharge. Air is essentially non conductive at ~10^(-14) S/m: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2007JD009716/full


But what if the electricity isn't from a couple copper tops? Since we're drifting further into the fiction and further from the science, maybe the rabbits found some plasma crystals and they don't fully understand them either. They just know that if the crystals are secured into a concave cavity in the pommel, and are pricked with a sharp button, the blade is quickly covered in a blue substance and energizes.

Maybe these crystal produce enough energy that when pointed at a large metalic objects, arcing is very possible as the energy at the tip is more focused than around the rest of the blade. The button on the hilt has a detent and can be disengaged at any point, but especially when sheathing.

The crystals will last for years, but weaken over time. The crystals are also not just used in battle but are at the heart of the rabbit's technology.

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    $\begingroup$ There's also always an option of unscrewing a pommel and throwing it at your opponent. Explosion of short-circuited plasma crystal would sure end 'em rightly! $\endgroup$ – Daerdemandt Aug 16 '16 at 15:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Daerdemandt, you would only want to do so with a gloved hand and you need to throw it hard enough for it to break apart. Otherwise your enemy has an intact crystal! $\endgroup$ – Steve Mangiameli Aug 16 '16 at 15:53
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    $\begingroup$ @SteveMangiameli If the crystal is powerful enough, your blade is acting as a resistor to the blade. At this point, when you unscrew it you can engineer (through trial-and-error, maybe?) a secondary circuit that shorts the crystal, causing rapid and catastrophic heating and explosions (maybe), which is disengaged when the pommel is set but is engaged when unscrewed. It would be tricky to balance, but there's likely a proper resistance that would allow for a couple seconds of "safeness" (or a held pin to keep it disengaged while you throw it). $\endgroup$ – Delioth Aug 16 '16 at 17:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Delioth, anything is possible and so far this is sounding much more fun than a "simple" electrified blade! $\endgroup$ – Steve Mangiameli Aug 16 '16 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Daerdemandt so the inverse of the holy hand grenade? $\endgroup$ – pydsigner Aug 17 '16 at 18:45

Please tell me you're going to include a reference to the Energizer Bunny...

Anyhow, from a fighting situation, I can't imagine there would be too much of an advantage to these swords with real life nature/physics.

If you go from a more science fiction standpoint you could always add in some facet which would have one enemy getting hit and causing a chain reaction to his companions near him. Maybe they could throw the sword like a spear and have it result in a taser-style effect?

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    $\begingroup$ Isn't it Duracell bunny? $\endgroup$ – Crowley Aug 17 '16 at 8:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Crowley, no, it's Energizer. $\endgroup$ – One Normal Night Sep 9 '16 at 19:11
  • $\begingroup$ @OneNormalNight youtube.com/… $\endgroup$ – Crowley Sep 12 '16 at 11:12
  • $\begingroup$ @OneNormalNight youtube.com/watch?v=aEtPqzGJDT0 $\endgroup$ – Crowley Sep 12 '16 at 11:15
  • $\begingroup$ @OneNormalNight I think it's a draw... $\endgroup$ – Crowley Sep 12 '16 at 11:15

One approach that wasn't mentioned is piezoelectricity.

Wield your blade with piezocrystals and everytime you block attack or your attack is being blocked the crystals get charged and you can discharge.

But your sword must be insulated from you and your opponent must be part of the circuit, otherwise you will get stunned or nothing will happen.

If your sword is harder than your opponents and ha higher melting/boiling/burning point you will:

  • stun your opponent,
  • damage opponents blade/armor, locally you will melt/burn small ammount of it,
  • cause more damage with stronger impacts.

I would also imbue arrows with piezocrystals and dedicated point design.


Current always flows in a loop. You can't just have electricity flowing into the sword unless electricity is also flowing out of the sword.

You could have it arc/shoot lightning, in which case the return path is the ground. However, you need quite substantial voltages to do this, and there would be lots of opportunities for it to go wrong (lower your sword, and have it suddenly arc to the ground).

An interesting twist would be to give the rabbits 2 swords. Now you could apply a voltage differential between them. No current would flow until they get close enough to arc, and then lots of current could flow. If they block with one sword, the opponent would have a hard time blocking the other sword. If they make contact, they run the risk of creating a short enough path (through them) to close the circuit! And also, it would be terrifying watching these rabbits taunt the enemy by clashing their swords against themselves and watching the sparks fly!

  • $\begingroup$ "Current always flows in a loop" Actually: it flows from higher to lower electric potential. This is an important distinction to make since in this care we may very well not have "loops" (unless common ground is counter as part of the loop) $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Aug 17 '16 at 8:57
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKarnerfors I do consider the common ground to be part of the loop, because you have to consider its electrical properties when analyzing the problem. You are technically correct, in that current flows from higher to lower electric potentials. However, if you don't have a loop, you have to be very careful to model all of the 2nd order effects (like parasitic capacitance and the conductivity of insulators) correctly. As long as you have an actual loop, many of those effects become negligible. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Aug 17 '16 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ I could also argue that it always has to form a loop to keep the electrostatic potential of the world neutral, but in some cases (static electricity) the time constants on those circuits is enormous. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Aug 17 '16 at 14:21

Are electric swords realistic?

Well that wasn't the question, but the most upvoted answers claims that they are not. Not sure if current flowing through a metal blade is feasible, but they actually could use a sword-like long shockers for dealing non-lethal damage:


Police Electric Baton




In addition to prior suggestions, effects could include:

  • Melting or welding opponents armor (if current is sufficiently powerful).
  • Opponents parrying with uninsulated weapons or shields could be shocked, in some cases causing them to drop the parrying weapon.
  • The blades could have user-triggered magnetic properties possibly allowing the wielder to bind an opponents blade, if it is composed of ferrous materials.
  • Jump-starting cars with dead batteries
  • Emergency defibrillation

While an electrical attack could in fact be doable, you shouldn't forget about the practical considerations. Once you have a working system, the primary concern would be weight. A modern lithium-ion or lithium-polymer battery is quite light, and has a high energy density. However, they are surprisingly high-tech devices; without complicated chemistry, precise automated manufacturing, superb quality control, and a dose of computer tech for the protection circuitry they're actually impossibly unstable.

They can catch on fire when they short-circuit, when you discharge them quickly, when you charge them quickly, when you discharge them too much, when you charge them too much, when they get hot, when they get compressed, etc.

That leaves you with much simpler lead-acid batteries, or silver oxide, or some other low-tech process. These are stable and safe, but very heavy. You can fight in full plate mail because the weight is distributed over your body. Strap a car battery to your back and you'll be a very poor fighter.


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