The Dirge Mace, hallmark weapon of the Traghax Knights of the Locastrian Dragon Guard, is a prime example of a sophisticated thaumatechnological weapon, a fusion of innovative magic and complex mechanisms.
The Locastrian Guards, three regiments of Traghax Knights sponsored by various factions within the Brotherhood Locastus´s powerful Assembly of Mages are commonly seen as the quintessential, well-funded elite force: pure-blooded Acitans and with superior training, breeding and troop morale.
The close relationship between the Guards (Dragon, Heron and Eagle, respectively) and their Magus sponsors has also meant that their equipment and weaponry is something out of the ordinary and the Dirge Mace (along with its cousin; the Shocklance) is, perhaps, the most famous of these.
Its construction is an attempt to counter the inability of Traghax Riders to achieve powerful swings with a weapon without snagging it in the pumping, lightning-fast legs of their mount. With a Dirge Mace, even a weak (but more controlled) swing will exert enough power in the target to incapacitate or destroy it outright.
In its inactive state, the Dirge Mace resembles an ordinary cavalry mace, oddly long-handled and with a bizarrely flanged, cylindrical head. The head and handle is forged from black iron, with a melted finish, like it has been exposed to great heat, proof of the powerful arcane energies that has gone into its construction.
Inactive, the weapon is extraordinarily heavy, as if made from lead and from the fat handle trails an armored conduit, like a flexible axle, to a leather-cased clockwork contraption worn on the user´s belt. The weapon is activated by pressing a ridged stud set into the handle.
Hidden beneath the nondescript exterior is a series of complex thaumatechnological systems. A clockwork-powered effluence generator feeds thaumaturgical energy into an arcane battery array set into the weapon´s fat handle. Upon activation, the accumulator begins injecting its stored charge into a puissance-converter unit set into the Mace´s baroquely flanged head.
Activated, belt-carried generator unit will begin to purr and a lurid, amethyst nimbus begins to build up on and around the head, trailing and dripping from the weapon like ethereal smoke. As the arcane charge builds up, the Mace will gradually become lighter, almost to the point of weightlessness, making it immensely easier to handle. The weapon will also emit a low hum, like a half-heard chorus, hence its name.
Upon impact with a target, the weapon releases an amethyst flash, and seems to do damage wholly out of proportion with the power with which it is wielded - it is not uncommon for enemy soldiers to fly like leaves through the air when hit by only a lazy swing. A harder hit can rip stone walls to pieces and shatter steel doors.
The efficiency of the Dirge Mace was demonstrated in the year 181, in the case of the infamous renegade Knight Ingath Torm. Armed with only his Dirge Mace Torm - a Mace instructor and Red Honey addict - wrecked several heavily armoured steam-tanks (and killed some 55 Adjudicators and Constables) before he could be overwhelmed, and then only after a powerful magic-dampening field-spell could be established over his hide-out.
The thaumatechnological enchantments of a Dirge Mace are only active for as long as the clockwork generator feeding it keeps spinning. Its arcane abilities are twofold: firstly, through a localized suspension of the laws of physical existence, a momentary bending of the Newtonian laws, the puissance generator injects the kinetic energy inherent in the swung weapon with a boost, converting arcane effluence into physical mass for a fraction of a second and enabling it to impact harder than the swing alone can account for.
Various secondary enchantments dampen the torque effect of this sudden increase in weight, to keep it from tearing from the wielder´s hands.
Secondly, when activated, the weapon decreases in inertial sensitivity, making it seem lighter, while losing none of its inherent mass.
The major drawback with this, seemingly ultimate, weapon is the loose coil tension of the generator spring, giving it a very limited activation time. The clockwork can only support approximatively two minutes of sustained activation before needing a recharge, making the user husband the few seconds he has carefully and thumbing the weapon off at every lull in the battle.
Another thought experiment, I´m afraid. What would weaponry look like if we had magic as well as technology in a steam-punk setting?
Sometimes I get all worked up over detailed technical solutions - I blame my education!
There´s no real science here, just speculation over what would be possible if we had a tool to manipulate the laws of physics.