- +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).
Comparisons to similar class rolesEdit
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 Swashbuckler's Swag section if other classes and in-depth game mechanics are already incredibly well understood.
If high melee damage is the goalEdit
Many new players fail to realize that it is possible to have multiple attacks per round (APR) and that warrior classes such as fighters get an extra .5 attack at levels 7 and 13. Further study of this wiki's Weapon proficiency page reveals warrior classes get an additional .5 attacks at 2 and 5 points of weapon proficiency. This means that a warrior with a weapon they have grand mastery in will get 4 attacks per round dual wielding their proficient weapon types (up to 3 if only 2 into a weapon style) compared to the Swashbucklers 2 attacks per round. With even a Strength of 22 from Girdle of Fire Giant Strength the bonus of +10 damage makes the the extra attacks per round far more important early game than the Swashbuckler's damage advantages (until the swashbuckler gets more attacks as explained below). The THAC0 cap of 10 for thieves compared to warrior classes THAC0 of 0 will more than negate any to-hit bonuses the eventually Swashbuckler gets. Warriors get it sooner too with THAC0 0 at level 21 when Swashbuckler is at THAC0 6 (10 cap - the 4 bonus).
If high Armor Class simultaneous with 100% magic resistance is the goalEdit
The Swashbuckler may eventually wear any armor after taking the high level ability Use Any Item, but may only perform helpful thief functions like finding traps if wearing studded leather or lighter armor. While the -9 bonus to AC of the swashbuckler is a boon when also trying to wear equipment towards other effects such as 100% magic resistance, the Monk class can get 100% magic resistance and with buffs hit the -20 AC (+Dexterity adj.) cap as well. The monk also does more base damage early (though limited in type) and can at least detect traps to keep squishier members of the party safe.
If tanking physical damage is the goalEdit
The Swashbuckler kit does not get extra hit points or physical damage reduction. Non-warrior classes do not benefit from extra hit points from a Constitution score above 16. With even a starting Constitution of 18 (higher scores are possible depending on class and other effects), the Swashbuckler will have at least 83 less base maximum hit points than a Fighter at level 40 (ignoring possible items swashbucklers may use that a fighters can not). Fighters also get Hardiness for physical damage boss fights. So swashbucklers must (or get to) use scrolls, item effects, or even traps, before physical damage boss fights until they can push AC bonuses high enough to achieve an effective 95% reduction (as discussed below in other equipment).
Reasons to choose SwashbucklerEdit
The best reason for a thief, is that they can open any lock guaranteed and pickpocket many valuable items (such as a second Ring of Gaxx [best HP regeneration item in game], Twinkle, etc.) making them very useful to a party. The bonus XP from thieving actions, the incredibly powerful Detect Illusion skill (usable in combat), the endless supply of potions and gold from Alchemy, the infinite spells from recharging wands (see below), and the Lore skill which can identify all items in the game at higher levels are incredibly nice perks that many argue make swashbuckler worth taking.
Arguably, a melee tank and trap protection for the party are both necessary at times, of which the Swashbuckler can complete both roles. Thieves also level to 39 faster than any other class. This makes them ideal if wishing to actually reach the high levels in a single play-through and/or if enjoying larger party NPC interactions, back-stories, and associated quests (since XP is limited and split between all party members). 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 (such as bosses and Barbarians) that are immune to back-stab. This also gives Swashbucklers the same maximum attacks per round (APR) of 10 that fighters can get up to when they Whirlwind Attack. It is worth noting that enemies caught in Time Stop trap will always be hit regardless of enemies' AC or the characters' THAC0!
Unlike Human restricted monks, swashbucklers gain access to Greater Evasion which allows for the best saving throws in the game against higher difficulty enemies where one failed save might mean death. Swashbuckler's may also select any race. Consider the very useful -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) for Dwarfs and Halflings.
It is important to note that wands sold back to vendors can be repurchased at maximum charges allowing for infinite fireballs, lightning bolts, cold cones, cloudkills, monster summoning, etc. (once Use Any Item is gained) limited only by the thief's very notable ability to get money.
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 even come close to doing!
Swashbucklers' Swag: Powerful Items and Recommended Proficiency PointsEdit
A pair of Gauntlets and Weapons, Weapons, Weapons!Edit
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. This will not give extra attacks during Whirlwind Attack or if already at 5 APR cap but the +2 damage and +1 to-hit bonus will still apply.
- 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 Haste or Oil of Speed active, this puts the hard hitting (remember that bonus damage) swashbuckler at the APR cap of 5 that all classes face when not under Whirlwind Attack effects or Improved Haste. With the aforementioned gauntlets, this allows 9 APR (4.5 x 2) when under Improved Haste (keep the items this is found for repeat self-castings of it). 2 proficiency points into scimitars and at least 2 (or later 3) points into two-weapon style are very strongly recommended.
- Firetooth (dagger) (main-hand melee mode), or Boomerang Dagger (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) as well. 2 proficiency points may be spent towards the use of daggers.
- Tuigan Bow (the only bow with 3 attacks per round instead of two) will grant the best long range damage and allow vast utilities with the numerous arrows like Arrow of Dispelling, Arrow of Detonation, etc 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 extra APR (available even in BG1) and can use the bolts like Bolt of Lightning, Paralytic Bolt, Bolt of Polymorphing, etc. 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 useful too. 1 proficiency point may 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, Darksteel Shield or other may be worn (after Use Any Item is chosen at level 24) while throwing darts or using Whirlwind Attack with single-handed weapons for extra defensive bonuses. 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 similarly powerful weapon with several Whirlwind Attack will finish off any boss. Use Any Item should be chosen at level 24 to enable equipping these weapons followed by Whirlwind Attack chosen at as many subsequent levels as desired. All 10 attacks of whirlwind will come from the main hand if only one weapon is equipped. This is usually ideal, but Crom Faeyr, Frostbrand, Purifier +5, Hindo's Doom +4 or other offhand may occasionally be preferable for their effects and will receive 2 of the 10 attacks as the off-hand weapon. The power of these many and varied weapon types with whirlwind and the swashbuckler's bonuses (without having to spending weapon specific proficiency points) allows the freedom to choose the right weapon(s) for the fights without the severe damage penalty a fighter outside of their limited 2 or 3 grand-mastery choices would feel. 1 proficiency point may be spent for 2-handed weapon style or single-weapon style to double the critical chance during whirlwind. Do not spend proficiency points on either if planning on remaining dual wielding or using a shield during whirlwind.
- Whirlwind Attack is also great for ranged weapons that receive bonus damage from Strength like Slings and throwing axes/daggers/hammers (based on edition). It negates the normally lower APR of those weapons and the swashbuckler damage bonus stacks with the strength damage bonus. Although no proficiency points are recommended to slings, axes, or hammers since powerful debilitating arrows, bolts, darts, and throwing daggers are in abundance for ranged needs without expending whirlwinds.
- If choosing fewer ranged damage methods (such as just throwing daggers (ranged mode) and/or infinite fireballs, cold cones, etc. as discussed above), then as many as 8 extra Weapon Proficiency points may be applied to favorite melee weapon types and or styles (including axes and/or hammers which also works with throwing) to improve THAC0 and damage during Whirlwind and reduce the need for Set Time Trap. As game difficulty is turned up however, the debilitating ranged options gain merit against both melee and arrows/spells which can be dodged unless one can go beyond -24 AC while having 100% Magic Resistance.
-24 Armor Class will not be hard to hit by mid game (even easier during Greater Evasion for the Swashbuckler. At an AC of -24 (-20 cap plus -4 from Dexterity [-5 for some races with permanent game effects, up to -6 with dexterity buffs.]) very few enemies will hit you except when critical hitting (wear a helmet!). Even Red Dragons will need to rely on natural 20s to hit!
- Some end campaign bosses such as The Winged have -12 effective THAC0 and thus can overcome this with just under half their attacks. Specifically an AC of -31 verse slashing would be needed to stop all but rolls of 20 (always a hit). However, single weapon fighting style (-1 AC) and other damage specific AC bonuses such as from Golden Girdle of Urnst (or Destroyer of the Hills, Elves' Bane, etc.) and Red Dragon Scale stack with this cap thus allowing another 8 bonus armor (for a total of -32) verse slashing for example.
- Once The Winged's Gauntlet is obtained, total AC can be raised high enough to force any boss into the 5% melee damage category (this also stops 95% of on-hit effects unlike damage reduction). 100% Magic Resistance (MR) can be also achieved simultaneously without the aid of temporary buffs.
- Completing Black Pits 2 before Throne of Bhaal (ToB) is recommended to pick up The Winged's Gauntlet and Cloak of Balduran, making 100% MR simultaneously with 95% physical damage reduction easy in ToB.
- If wanting 100% MR before end of Shadows of Amn: 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). Then just Whirlwind for any semi-tough fight.
- 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 many more normally restricted items can be worn once Use Any Item is chosen at level 24 to allow vast defense and utility optimization combinations for any given situation that might arise.
Table for experience, weapon proficiency points and hitpointsEdit
For more information, see Experience tables.
|Level||Required experience||Weapon proficiency||AC||Hit Dice __(d6)__||THAC0 and Damage|
|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|
|40||8,000,000||+1 Max: 12 points.||+1 Max: +9 points||10 + 60||+1 Max: +8 points|