Swashbucklers are melee combat specialized thieves. Please see Thief page for the basic thief information which will not be redundantly listed here.
- +1 bonus to armor class at the start and +1 bonus every five levels (+9 AC bonus at level 40).
- +1 bonus to-hit and damage every five levels (+8 to-hit and +8 damage at level 40).
- May become specialized in all melee weapons a thief may use. This is an extra +1 to-hit and +2 damage (but does not gain extra 1/2 attack warrior Classes get for weapon specialization).
- Can invest up to three points in two weapons style instead of one point (an extra +2 to-hit with main hand and +4 to-hit with off hand compared to other thieves).
- Gains the ability to take Whirlwind Attack high level ability from the Fighter pool multiple times in place of Assassination once.
- No Backstab multiplier for attacks when invisible. Still receives +4 to-hit bonus for attacking from hiding.
- Important to realize their vast power appears late in Shadows of Amn or very early in Throne of Bhaal if starting a new character at that time (particularly at level 24 when Use Any Item becomes available).
- 1 Comparisons to similar class roles
- 2 Reasons to choose Swashbuckler
- 3 Equipment Section and Recommended Proficiency Points
- 4 Table for experience, weapon proficiency points and hitpoints
- 5 Guides for solo beating game with Swashbuckler
Comparisons to similar class roles
In a departure from the norm, this page begins by explaining the reasons not to choose the Swashbuckler class kit, followed by the niche of this beloved class's benefits. Skip to equipment section if other classes and in-depth game mechanics are already well understood.
If high melee damage is the goal
Many new players fail to realize that it is possible to have multiple attacks per round (APR) and that warrior classes get an extra .5 attack at levels 7 and 13 and an additional .5 attacks at 2 and 5 points of Weapon proficiency. This means that a warrior can get 4 attacks per round dual wielding their proficient weapon types compared to a Swashbuckler's 2 attacks per round. With even a Strength of 19 the bonus of +7 damage makes the the extra attacks per round far more important than a Swashbuckler's damage advantages (until Swashbucklers get more attacks as discussed in equipment section). The THAC0 cap of 10 for thieves compared to warrior classes THAC0 of 0 roughly negates the to-hit bonuses a Swashbuckler gets.
If tanking physical damage with 100% magic resistance is the goal
A Swashbuckler may eventually wear any armor after taking the high level ability Use Any Item. While a Swashbuckler's -9 bonus to AC of is a boon when also trying to wear equipment towards other effects such as 100% magic resistance, a Monk class can get 100% magic resistance and with buffs hit the -20 AC (+Dexterity adj.) cap as well. The Swashbuckler kit does not get extra hit points from a Constitution score above 16 nor physical damage reduction like Hardiness. So Swashbucklers must (or get to) use scrolls, item effects, or even traps, before physical damage boss fights (until their AC bonuses are high enough to achieve an effective 95% damage reduction as discussed in equipment section).
Reasons to choose Swashbuckler
The best reason for a thief, is that they can open any lock guaranteed and pickpocket many valuable items (such as Twinkle) making them very useful to a party. The bonus XP from thieving actions, the trap detection and disarming, the incredibly powerful Detect Illusion skill (usable in combat), the endless supply of potions and gold from Alchemy, and the infinite spells from recharging wands (buy selling to and buying back from vendors) make a thief worth having. If not wanting to waste time micromanaging hiding in shadows for sneak attacks, then the Swashbuckler is the perfect thief choice. Also, while Assassination may be chosen only once by other thieves, Whirlwind Attack may be chosen multiple times allowing superior bursts of melee damage even against targets that are immune to back-stab.
Unlike Monks (human restricted), Swashbucklers gain access to Greater Evasion which allows for the best saving throws in the game. Swashbucklers may also select any race such as Dwarfs or Halflings to get benefits like -5 to Death/Wand/Spell "Shorty" Saving Throws bonuses (helpful against special abilities and area of effect (AoE) magics which are unhindered by magic resistance).
The ability to deal comparable melee damage to that of any other class (with proper gear as explained below) without having to put more than 2 points into a weapon skill, allows for the most diverse offensive playing style of any martial class. Trap laying, the use of magical items/arrows, the ability to cast any spell from scrolls or wands, and the ability to equip items normally class and alignment restricted further extends the range of possibilities beyond what any other single class can come close to doing.
Equipment Section and Recommended Proficiency Points
Important Offense Equipment
Since lack of attacks per round (when not using Whirlwind Attack) is the biggest issue for Swashbucklers' damage:
- Gauntlets of Extraordinary Specialization will add an extra .5 attacks per round to the main hand weapon used as well as ranged and thrown weapons.
- Ninjatō of the Scarlet Brotherhood and Belm alone can get your melee attacks up to 4 (3 main hand and 1 off-hand) per round by themselves. With a Normal Haste effect, this puts the hard hitting (remember that bonus damage) swashbuckler at 5 APR when not under Whirlwind Attack or Improved Haste effects. With the aforementioned gauntlets, this allows 9 APR (4.5 x 2) when under Improved Haste (this effect can be obtained from several items). 2 proficiency points into scimitars and at least 2 points into two-weapon style are very strongly recommended.
- Firetooth (dagger) or Boomerang Dagger in (main-hand melee mode), for piercing melee (and use before level 24) grant one extra APR to the main hand (not formally listed but due to coding of Weapon Class). 2 proficiency points may be spent towards the use of daggers.
- Tuigan Bow is the only bow with +1 APR and will grant the best long range damage. It also allows vast utility with the numerous arrows like Arrow of Dispelling and Arrow of Detonation that are found in chests and if pick-pocketing. Great for tactical pulling, sniping, kiting, and leading enemies into both metaphorical and literal traps. 1 proficiency point may be spent on short bow.
- The Army Scythe has +1 APR (available even in BG1) and can use the bolts like Bolt of Lightning, Paralytic Bolt, and Bolt of Polymorphing found in locked chests and by pick-pocketing. 1 proficiency point may be spent on Crossbow.
- Cloak of the Stars will allow the best (though very brief) throwing damage due to all darts uniquely having a base attack rate of 3 attacks per round. This also means that against enemies with inherent immunity to all enchanted weapons or under effects similar to Protection From Magical Weapons, cheap normal darts (plus kit bonus damage) will be the Swashbuckler's best physical damage. Dart of Stunning and similar are very useful early game. 1 proficiency point shout be spent on darts.
- Kundane is another APR item but no proficiency points are recommended to short swords as other one-hand weapons do more damage.
- Shields such as Shield of the Lost, Shield of the Order, or Darksteel Shield may be worn after Use Any Item, however, a proficiency point in Sword and Shield style is not recommended due to minimal bonus.
- For the very few bosses with high weapon-enchantment weapon immunity (+4 required to overcome it), Flail of Ages +5, Carsomyr +6, Ravager +6 or other powerful weapon with several whirlwinds will finish off any boss. While Crom Faeyr, Frostbrand, Purifier +5, Hindo's Doom +4 or other offhand may seem good, also consider the option of nothing in the offhand to get single-weapon style bonuses. 1 proficiency point may be spent for single-weapon and/or 2-handed weapon style. Do not spend proficiency points on either if planning on dual wielding or using a shield during whirlwind.
- Whirlwind Attack can be great for ranged weapons that receive bonus damage from Strength like Slings and throwing axes/daggers/hammers (based on edition). It negates their low APR and swashbucklers' bonus damage stacks with strength's bonus damage. However no proficiency points are recommended for these since powerful debilitating arrows, bolts, darts, and throwing daggers are in abundance for ranged needs without expending whirlwinds. Also, as game difficulty is turned up, the debilitating ranged options gain merit against both melee and most spells/arrows (which can be dodged manually) until one can go beyond -24 AC while having 100% Magic Resistance.
Important Defense Equipment
-24 or -25 AC (-20 general cap plus Dexterity bonus) will not be hard to achieve by mid game for a Swashbuckler, especially with Greater Evasion. Any creature with -4 or -5 THAC0 will be unable to land a blow without a critical hit then.
- Some powerful creatures such as dragons or bosses like The Winged have -12 THAC0 or better and can thus overcome -24 AC with 9 of 20 attacks or more. Note however that damage specific AC bonuses such as from Golden Girdle of Urnst and Red Dragon Scale stack with this cap thus allowing another 7 bonus AC, for a total of -31 versus slashing. See the Armor Class article for more information.
- If wanting 100% MR just after end of Shadows of Amn (at level 24): Carsomyr +5 (current bug forces need to equip MR gear after this weapon); Human Flesh +5 ; Ring of Gaxx; Kaligun's Amulet of Magic Resistance; and Tear of Bhaal (Good selected during Test of Selfishness).
- Completing Black Pits 2 before Throne of Bhaal (ToB) is recommended to pick up The Winged's Gauntlet and Cloak of Balduran. This makes achieving 100% MR simultaneously with 95% physical damage reduction (which also stops 95% of on-hit effects) easy for swashbucklers in ToB even on Legacy of Bhaal difficulty setting.
- Many good armors such as White Dragon Scale allow continued use of thief skills.
- Holy Symbol of Lathander (highly recommended), Helm of Balduran (highly recommended), Wong Fei's Ioun Stone, Enkidu's Full Plate, Tzu-Zan's Bracers, Wondrous Gloves, Twinkle, Montolio's Cloak, and other restricted items can be worn after Use Any Item to allow vast defense and utility optimization.
- Spells such as Improved Invisibility and Protection From Evil (wizard) can penalize enemy attack rolls to further increase effective AC.
Table for experience, weapon proficiency points and hitpoints
For more information, see Experience tables.
|Level||Required experience||Weapon Proficiency||Armor Class Bonuses||Hit Dice __(d6)__||THAC0/Damage Bonuses|
|11||220,000||10 + 2|
|12||440,000||+1||10 + 4|
|13||660,000||10 + 6|
|14||880,000||10 + 8|
|15||1,100,000||+1||10 + 10||+1|
|16||1,320,000||+1||10 + 12|
|17||1,540,000||10 + 14|
|18||1,760,000||10 + 16|
|19||1,980,000||10 + 18|
|20||2,200,000||+1||+1||10 + 20||+1|
|21||2,420,000||10 + 22|
|22||2,640,000||10 + 24|
|23||2,860,000||10 + 26|
|24||3,080,000||+1||10 + 28|
|25||3,300,000||+1||10 + 30||+1|
|26||3,520,000||10 + 32|
|27||3,740,000||10 + 34|
|28||3,960,000||+1||10 + 36|
|29||4,180,000||10 + 38|
|30||4,400,000||+1||10 + 40||+1|
|31||4,620,000||10 + 42|
|32||4,840,000||+1||10 + 44|
|33||5,060,000||10 + 46|
|34||5,280,000||10 + 48|
|35||5,500,000||+1||10 + 50||+1|
|36||5,720,000||+1||10 + 52|
|37||5,940,000||10 + 54|
|38||6,160,000||10 + 56|
|39||6,380,000||10 + 58|
Max: 12 points.
Max: +9 bonus
|10 + 60||
Max: +8 bonus