One of the most popular armaments in history, the sword is arguably the most deadly yet versatile weapon available to a fighter. Comprised of a blade and hilt, the hilt comprising of a pommel for offsetting the weight of the blade, and a grip for holding it straight. Many designs include a guard that protects the fingers and knuckles. The blade itself can either be curved or straight; curved, convex swords like the falchion and the scimitar, are used for slashing attacks, and thus are only sharpened on one side of the blade. The straight, double-edged blades such as the broadsword or the mighty claymore can be used to both thrust and slash. The tip of the blade is usually tapered off to aid in thrusting, but many designs have simple flat ends to aid in balance.
Swords have great variety in range, damage, Attack Rate, and durability. The small dagger is among the weakest weapons in the game, while the largest two-handed swords can rival axes and polearms for dealing massive damage, and having a long reach and plenty of durability as well. As with all melee weapons, the Barbarian is very skillful with a sword, and has a Sword Mastery skill. The other characters are all decent with swords as well, and the Necromancer even has a melee skill that only works with a dagger.
Swords possess nearly every magical modifier you can find on a weapon, and may be socketed as well. There are also numerous unique, Rare, and Set Item swords. Also, swords do extra damage to some types of monsters, and have a penalty in damage to the undead. This is more of an issue in Diablo II, since there are undead all through the game, rather than just being represented by the weaker monsters in the upper levels.
Larger and more damaging than daggers, but smaller than the might two-handed swords, these one-handed weapons are the choice for any character who wishes a blades weapon, but also needs to carry a shield for protection and the added modifiers.
Larger and heavier than the one-handed swords, these massive weapons usually require two hands to wield, and are slower to swing. The do much more damage though, and as with other two-handed weapons in Diablo II, they can have a higher level of magical modifiers. You can expect somewhat slower attack rates with two-handed swords, but more range and durability, as well as higher requirements.
The damage reduction the Barbarian suffers when dual-wielding two-handed swords is large enough that he has a real decision to make whether to do so or not. One great benefit is if both swords have very good modifiers; much better than he would find on a shield or other one-handed weapon, for instance.