|This article is about the generic term. For the weapons in The Witcher, see The Witcher steel swords. For the weapons in The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, see The Witcher 2 steel swords. For the weapons in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, see The Witcher 3 steel swords.|
Steel swords are the typical weapons used throughout the Witcher lore.
The steel swords which witchers make for themselves (or contract swordsmiths to make for them, usually Mahakaman) are traditionally made from either meteoric or magnetite iron, and grant the weapon no superior or magical qualities. Geralt, however, does like to encourage the popular misconception that he wields a supernatural weapon, saying that it brings better pay for the work he does.
Geralt also mentions that the steel sword is often mistaken for being primarily intended for fighting hostile people and while it's true that witchers use their steel swords when fighting against armed opponents, this is only because a silver sword is a relatively delicate instrument. Striking metal armor or parrying an opponent's weapon will quickly ruin a silver sword, unlike a steel sword which can withstand such use with little to no damage.
In the games, the swords are treated in more general terms: steel is always meant for fighting humans/nonhumans and normal, non-magical creatures like bears, unlike the books where there is more discrepancy.
The distinction is not a strict rule as certain circumstances might have Geralt resort to his silver sword instead; one example being wolves that are summoned by leshens. However, this might be more to do with gameplay mechanics than sticking to a strict convention as constantly switching swords when fighting multiple opponents would hinder gameplay.
Each type of sword occupies a different slot and so players shouldn't worry about repeatedly opening the inventory to switch in-between the two unless one turns off auto-selection of the appropriate sword. Also, while steel swords aren't much different design wise in lore, in the games they tend to have a straighter crossguard than their silver counterparts, likely a visual aid to help tell them apart during gameplay.