Sunday, 29 April 2018

Top 10 Best Infinity Engine Weapons (Baldur's Gate, BG2, Planescape: Torment, Icewind Dale, IWD2) + Holy Avenger Comparison (Carsomyr, Pale Justice, Cera Sumat)

T O P   T E N  I N F I N I T Y  E N G I N E  W E A P O N S

This is the main question I asked myself when ranking a Top Ten:

• How combat encounter-impacting/dictating is the weapon over the course of the campaign?

To wit:

◦ Does the weapon inflict on-hit debuffing or immobilization?
◦ Is it capable of acute damage or HP-bypassing (backstab-capable or Vorpal and effects akin to vorpal such as shattering and disruption)?
◦ Is it capable of spellcaster disruption (on-hit elemental/para-elemental damage)?
◦ Is it capable of illusion/stoneskin dispersion (on-hit Dispel or +ApR).
◦ Does it confer blanket immunity to negative status effects (Free ActionMind Shield) etc.

Such traits are decisive factors in how a weapon ranks. The ranking takes into account not just the powers of the weapon but also its ease of acquisition (accessibility) and its ongoing viability over the course of the campaign (how much use it gets). The ranking presupposes foreknowledge of itemization and fairly deep knowledge of the campaigns; this write-up is for veterans.

(I'm not taking into account the Heart of Fury mode itemization for IWD and IWD2; such modes of play are of secondary concern.)

1. Dagger of Venom (Small Sword, BG). THAC0 +2, 1D4+2 piercing, Poison Damage: 6 points per round for max of 15 damage. Poison disrupts both movement rate and spellcasting of the victim.

From Part II of my Baldur's Gate retrospective: DoV devastates with the copious poison pouring out of its blade. Not much stands against it; even flesh golems drop like sacks of shit. It's a playful wield in that STACKING poison damage works over time and also disrupts enemy spellcasting and slows the victim's movement rate. It's really funny watching the enemy cry out in pain every round or so trying to GET AT YOU, while being slowed by the poison, and then succumbing to it.

Game descriptionThe dagger of venom is a potent blade favored by assassins all across the Realms.  This particular dagger of venom was created for use by the Shadow Thieves of Amn.  Every time it hits an opponent it secretes a venom into the blood stream of the creature. The venom works quickly and efficiently.

Early acquisition (Thunderhammer Smithy). The only problem is that DoV is expensive. Veterans know how to overcome that, though. This is the most damaging wield in BG, overall. It's not just for backstabbing. That Dwarf tank should be packing it with Specialization in Small Swords. And any class except Clerics can wield DoV.

The power of this weapon is largely unknown due to lost souls playing BG in the BG2 engine (BG2 nerfed the stacking poison).

2. Composite Longbow +1 (Bow, BG). THAC0 +2, +3 piercing.

Again, early acquisition (Feldepost's Inn). Better than Longbow of Marksmanship: Deadshot because dmg +1 > THAC0 +1. But yeah, only +1 dmg separates them so obviously LBoM is top-tier, too. Also better than Heavy Crossbow of Accuracy: The Guide because HCoA is itemized late-game and dmg +1/ApR +1 > THAC0 +3 (and arrow ammo > bolt ammo). Archery is supreme in BG due to ammo. Load your quiver with Acid Arrows (1d6 +1, +2d6 acid, to-hit +1), Fire Arrows (1d6, +1d6 Fire, save vs. spells for none), Ice Arrows (1d6, +1d6 Cold, no save), Piercing Arrows (1d6, +6 piercing on failed save vs. death, to-hit +4)Biting Arrows (1d6, poison: 30% of HPs in 20 secs, save vs. death for none, Strength modifier erroneously applied to dmg), Dispelling Arrows (on-hit Dispel Magic) and the insane Detonation Arrows (1d6, +6d6 Fireball, save vs. spells for half). More arguments are made here and in Maximum Ranged Damage.

3. Two Handed Sword +1: Hammering (Great Sword, IWD 1.06). 1D10 +1, 20% on-hit Stun.

Fishable random drop in the Temple of the Forgotten God (early-game). Will stun almost anything, even undead. BAD ASS. Maybe TOO bad ass. Which is probably why BIS removed it in the Heart of Winter expansion. Doesn't matter: I dislike HoW and only play 1.06, anyway.

Charged Battleaxe +2 deserves a spot here as well. Stun is only 5% less likely. Also, the axe sports on-hit 50% 1d3 electrical. Plus, unlike two-handed swords, a shield can be equipped in the off-hand. The axe is itemized in the same random pool, so we are unable to net both wields. Still, one is enough.

4. Flail of Ages +3 (Flail, BG2: SoA).  THAC0 +3, 1D6 +4 crushing, +1 Acid, +1 Cold, +1 Fire, MR-bypassing 33% on-hit no-save Slow.

 FoA +4: THAC0 +4, 1D6 +5, +1 Fire, +1 Cold, +1 Acid , +1 Electrical, MR-bypassing 33% on-hit no-save Slow.
• FoA +5: THAC0 +5, 1D6 +6, +2 Acid, +2 Cold, +2 Fire, +2 Poison, +2 Electrical, Free Action, +5% MR, MR-bypassing 33% on-hit no-save Slow.

Best weapon in BG2, handsdown. Case is made hereAcquisition is De Arnise Stronghold of Chapter 2. A Warrior can solo Ravager and Melissan with FoA. It will hit and seriously hurt anything except Mages under PfMW/Absolute Immunity and Magical Golems (which no enchanted weapon can hit, anyway). 

5. Celestial Fury +3 (Katana, BG2: SoA). THAC0 +3, 1d10+3, on-hit Booming Thunder (MR-bypassing save vs. Spells Stun), 5% on-hit Shocking Blow (20 electrical), Lightning Strike & Blindness once per day.

Veterans can pull off an early acquisition on the second floor of the Guarded Compound in the Temple District. One of the best weapons in BG2 and the best backstabbing weapon in SoA for reasons that are obvious.

6. Scimitar of Speed: Belm (Scimitar, BG2: SoA). THAC0 +2, 1d8 +2, ApR +1.

Equipping Belm in the off-hand will add another attack to your main hand. Thus, it makes even the best weapon better. Belm is better than Kundane because its acquisition is easier (Druid Grove of Chapter 2) and it does 1 point more damage on average per hit. Also better than Thief UAI-/Monk-only Scarlet Ninja-To (because warriors and Jaheira can wield it).

7. Dak'kon's Zerth Blade "Chained Blade" (Edged, PS:T). THAC0 +1, 2-9 slashing, +1 AC (Fighter Level 3).

Fighter 7: 3-12 slashing, +4 AC, THAC0 +2, Enchanted +2, +2 first circle spells slots, +1 second circle spell slot.
Fighter 10: 5-20 slashing, +6 AC, THAC0 +3, Enchanted +3, Doubles first and second circle spell slots.

A weapon that scales handsomely with its wielder's level and morale. Doesn't get much better than that. Amazing weapon that will slay almost everything up to and including Greater Glabrezu.

8. Staff of the Magi (Quarterstaff, BG2: SoA). THAC0 +1 (+5 enchantment for to-hit purposes), 1d6 +1 crushing, AC +1, All-Saves +1, Infinite on-equip Invisibility, 8 hour 30 levels of Spell Trap, on-hit level 30 Dispel, Immunity to Charm, Protection From Evil, Fireball-Lightning (combined spell 3/day).

Early acquisition (veterans can pull it off). Its on-hit Dispel level is much higher than Carsomyr's and its Spell Trap can be recharged with Wish-resting. Not backstab-capable due to being flagged as Mage-only, but it wouldn't be a good backstab weapon, anyway (wield Celestial Fury +3 in SoA and Staff of the Ram +6 in ToB). SotM will strip Draconis naked. Says it all.

9. Mechanus Crossbow (Missiles, PS:T). THAC0 +1, Enchanted +1.

I have newfound appreciation for this beastly wield.

• Consider the best ammo (easy to acquire): "Rule-of-Three" Bolts (6-15 piercing), Bolts of Acheron (2-5 crushing, on-hit Stun), Acidic Sponge Bolts (1-2 dmg +6 acid), Bolts of Whistling Doom (+2 enchantment, 4-16 crushing, THAC0 +2).

• Consider the best lenses: Lens of Inherent Viciousness (+2 THAC0, +2 dmg), Lens of Seeing Double (+8 dmg), Optix (+2 dmg, +15% crit chance, +1 Luck).

Even if we don't take into account the lenses (they are not weapons), the bolts alone have a massive impact on combat encounters from the Modron Maze onwards (when you start to encounter non-trivial mobs and hordes in dungeons).

10. Club +2: Gnasher (Club, BG2: SoA). THAC0 +2, 1D6 +2 crushing, slivers add 2 points extra damage each round for four rounds.

When the club strikes, sharp splinters dig into the victim's flesh, causing extreme pain and even extra damage that continues for some time after the blow.

Evolution on the Dagger of Venom. As with DoV, it is itemized early. Despite only +2 enchantment Gnasher will remain useful even in ToB. It is not ranked as highly as DoV because it is competing with Slow and Stun of FoA/CF.

12th level Ingress' Teeth deserve to be rated in the Top 10 (Enchantment +3, THAC0 +3, 1-6 crushing, +3 crushing, on-hit temporary paralysis). The on-hit paralysis triggers often and against almost any enemy, including baatezu. The effects of paralysis don't last long but that doesn't matter because it will likely retrigger on the next couple of hits, anyway (Morte gets 4.5 ApR with EED).

Honorable mentions: Azuredge and Improved Mace of Disruption (IMoD) are combat encounter-dictating, but only against undead (which they disrupt up to and including demi-liches). Tuigan (+1 ApR), Firetooth (auto-ammo erroneously stacks with conventional ammo) and Sling of Seeking (Str-based damage bonus) are great, too.

So yeah, as you can see, I rank FoA on-hit Slow and CF on-hit Stun over Belm +ApR. I give great weight to a weapon that debuffs/immobilizes and yet still severely damages (btw, stacked DoV poison DOES slow enemy movement rate considerably). Obviously, you will be wielding both (FoA/CF on-hand and Belm off-hand) but, against heavy-hitting tanks such as Torgal, Adamantite Golems — indeed, even Dragons — it is the Slow and Stun that is more impacting.

How about the fishable Long Sword of Action +4 (+1 ApR, 25% slashing resistance) and Long Bow +4: Hammer (THAC0 +5, dmg +4, sets attacks to 4 and stacks with other ApR sources) in IWD? While awesome, they come too late to be Top 10 contenders.

No Vorpal-based weapons made the cut? Silver Sword (on-hit 25% vorpal on failed save vs. death at -2) is great for horde-based encounters and Axe of the Unyielding +5 (THAC0 +5, 1d8 +5, AC +1, 3 HPs/rnd regen, Con +1, on-hit 10% no-save vorpal) will decapitate even Maraliths at the Throne, but they come too late to get into this ranking. Same goes for Ravager +6 (THAC0 +6, 1d10 +6, on-hit 3-18 save vs. poison, 10% no-save vorpal, Cloak of Fear 3/day).

And no IWD2 weapons made the cut? Non-HoF IWD2 weapon itemization is too balanced, and "Cera Sumat," Holy Avenger (Enchantment +5, AB +5, 1d8 +5 slashing, Holy: +2d6 against evil creatures, +15 Spell Resistance, Spell Power: Dispel Magic, No daily limit), Halberd of Hate +4 (Enchantment +4, 2d8 +4 piercing, AB +4, Evil: +2d6 vs. Good, Vampiric: 1d4 hit points drained from target and added to wielder, Fort. save for none) and Massive Greataxe of Flame +5 (Enchantment +5, AB +5, 2d12 +5 slashing, Flaming Burst: +1d6 fire damage and 10% chance of +1d10 extra fire damage) just come too late to have impact comparable to weapons in my Top Ten. MGAoF is the best weapon in Core mode IWD2 but is also an extremely difficult random fish.

I kindly refer you to my popular Best BG/BG2 Weapons for a write-up that allows other weapons to get a look-in. See also: Top 10 Infinity Engine Axes.

H O L Y  A V E N G E R  C O M P A R I S O N
Carsomyr vs. Pale Justice vs. Cera Sumat

• Carsomyr +5 (BG2: SoA, AD&D 2nd Edition): Two-Handed Sword, THAC0 +5, 1d12 +5 slashing (+10 vs. Chaotic Evil), on-hit level 15 Dispel (bugged to be nerfed at 15th), Dispel Magic level 15 3/day, 50% MR).
Carsomyr +6 (BG2: ToB, AD&D 2nd Edition): Two-Handed Sword, THAC0 +6, 1d12 +6 slashing (+12 vs. Chaotic Evil), on-hit level 15 Dispel (bugged to be nerfed at 15th), Dispel Magic level 15 3/day, 50% MR).
Pale Justice (IWD, AD&D 2nd Edition): Large Sword, THAC0 +4 (+7 vs. Evil), 1D8 +4 (+7 vs. Evil) slashing, Immune to Cloak of Fear, Horror, Dire Charm and Symbol of Hopelessness.
Cera Sumat (IWD2, D&D 3rd Edition): Large Sword, Enchantment +5, AB +5, 1d8 +5 slashing, Holy: +2d6 vs. Evil, +15 SR, Spell Power: Dispel Magic, No daily limit).

Carsomyr wins: +5 version (which is all you need) can be procured early. Much more impact with the on-hit Dispel, even if it is bug-nerfed. PJ is less powerful than CS but gets more use (Heart of Winter); thus, it's better.

Carsomyr Description (BG2):

+5: Carsomyr is a weapon of legend, perhaps one of the most powerful blades ever forged on Faerun, though its origin and history is thought purposefully forgotten, such that the sword itself never overshadow the importance of the struggles that must be fought today.  It is infused with the very essence of virtue, and requires as much from any paladin that would hope to wield it.  The evils of the Realms must truly stand aside when this weapon is brought to bear, their magic dispelled with a word, steadfastly resisted with ease.  Carsomyr also harbors a special distaste for the forces of evil and chaos, and such creatures must fear additional damage from its touch in battle. 

+6: Even a Holy Relic as powerful as Carsomyr is made even greater when combined with the Eye of Tyr.

Pale Justice Description (IWD):

This sword was made with one purpose: to destroy evil.  Though a powerful weapon, Pale Justice has humble beginnings.  The plain sword was crafted by a devout worshipper of Tyr named Renold.  Renold spent thirty years of his life perfecting the metalworking techniques that allowed him to craft an almost flawless blade.  As soon as Renold had completed the unadorned weapon, he turned it over to the church of Tyr.  The priest who received it placed the naked blade on his monastery's altar.  He asked his brothers to join him in praying to Tyr to ask their god to bless the weapon with holy power.  The brothers never touched the blade, nor did they speak of it.  After ten years, despite the fact that all of the other brothers lost faith in the blade ever becoming enchanted, the original priest, Edan, continued his prayers in silence.  Another twenty years passed, and there was still no sign from Tyr.  Visiting priests of Helm scoffed at Edan's blind devotion to the blade.   It was then that, without warning, Edan walked up to the altar and gently removed the dust-covered blade from the altar.

The priest of Helm asked Edan if he had finally come to his senses.  Edan replied that he had, that he had been expecting the wrong thing from Tyr the entire time.  He stated that Tyr had done his work long ago.

The priest of Helm laughed out loud at Edan's claim and asked his bodyguard to draw his sword.  The magnificent weapon in the hand of the Helmite had a gilded guard set with pearls.  Runes were etched along the blade, with a small cluster of fine rubies set in the ricasso.  The priest of Helm laughed again and spoke.  "This is truly a sword blessed by the gods.  Your weapon looks like an ordinary soldier's blade.  It pales in comparison."

Edan calmly grabbed the blade by the tang and swatted at the guard's weapon.  The priest of Helm's laughter cut off quickly as he stared down at his retainer's broken weapon.  He stood there speechless as Edan set the blade down and began to reply.

"Justice always pales in comparison to vanity and ostentatious displays of power.  I expected Tyr to manifest his divine will in this blade with lightning and fire.  I should have remembered how the blade was given to me... with simple charity and humility.  Justice is the right of every man, no matter how rich or poor, no matter how educated or ignorant.  It should be found as often in the fields of farmers as it is in the fields of battle."

Edan took the blade to a local weapon smith and had him put a wooden, leather wrapped grip on it.  He then gave it to a fledgling paladin and asked him to always remember the potential for charity and kindness in the human race.

"Cera Sumat," Holy Avenger (IWD2) Description:

The holy avenger is the paladin's ultimate weapon against the forces of evil.  There are few creatures on the Lower Planes that would not hesitate to confront a holy warrior wielding such a weapon... and this one, perhaps more so than others.  Once, it was nothing more than a simple iron sword, but through the courage and faith of one man, it became something more.

The blade of this holy avenger glows with a soft golden light.  Inscribed upon the hilt in flowing gold letters is "Cera Sumat," which translates into "Six, now Silenced."  Cera Sumat earned its name through the labors of elderly duke Kholsa Ehld, a man cresting nearly eighty years of age, who vowed to complete a task that the greatest warriors of three kingdoms feared to do... all because of the weeping of a child. 

The times in which Old Duke Ehld lived were ones of great upheaval, and the servitors of Bane were strong, crushing all that stood in their way.  Entire kingdoms feared their wrath, and to speak out against them meant death, so many remained silent and turned their eyes from the evils of Bane and his servants. 

During these dark times, the most terrible of Bane's minions were six who called themselves the Lost Followers.  Their souls were storms of avarice and hate, and mighty were the powers at their command.  They reveled in strife and tyranny... and for all the blood they shed, it was never enough.  

Together, the Lost Followers brought about the downfall of the Silver Court, slaying its king upon his throne and renaming his once-beautiful nation the Barbed Kingdom.  After animating his decapitated corpse and having it march through the streets slaying anyone it could find, they brought a rain of fire down upon the city and the lands around, leaving it a barren wasteland.  It is said that they dined in the capital's great hall that night as the land burned, and they raised their wine glasses as the screams of the dying reached their peak. 

There was only one survivor.  In their last act of malice, the Lost Followers left the king's only daughter, barely five years old, alive to reign as "Queen" over the burned kingdom.  They called her the Weeping Queen and cast wards about her so that she might never leave the empty capital, and then left her to starve.  Their appetite momentarily slaked, the Lost Followers parted ways and went upon their separate roads of damnation, sowing strife in the Bane's Name.

Old Duke Ehld was the first one to cross the wards of the Barbed Kingdom and seek out the Weeping Queen upon her father's throne.  When he found the small girl, he approached, kneeled before her, and told her he had come to pledge his life in her service.  In stiff, formal words, he said he had brought food and water and apologized for his lateness, but his bones were old and it had taken him some time to reach this place.  The near-starving child stared at him as he pledged his worn blade and his honor to seeing that the ones who had done this terrible crime answered for their actions, if his Queen wished it.  After a long, stunned silence, the Weeping Queen found the words to thank him.

From the moment Ehld left the throne room in search of the Lost Followers, the weeping of the queen ended, and she never wept again. 

Over six years, Ehld traveled the lands of Faerun and across the planes themselves, seeking the Six, and asking them to answer for their crimes.  Each scoffed at the old man and his worn-looking blade, only to find him a dangerous opponent... and in the end, the victor.  He recorded the events of their death upon a stone set into the pommel of his blade, and there was even regret in his writings that he had not been able to enlighten the Lost Followers to turn from their path before it came to its end.

When the last of the Six had answered for their crimes upon the edge of the Cera Sumat blade, Ehld returned to the Weeping Queen and laid the blade at her feet.  Where once it had been a tarnished blade, it shone as brightly as the sun, and the stone in the pommel was covered with the writing of his journeys.  He detached the stone, and set into a chain, and he gave the Weeping Queen.  Ehld told her to keep the chain to wear as a reminder of the many evils of the world and that they are never far from one's heart... but if one's heart is true and one's path is righteous, one may triumph against any number of evils.  

Duke Ehld outlived his queen, living to the age of 107, at which point Ehld took his Cera Sumat and left the Barbed Kingdom... and is said to have traveled north.  In time, the Barbed Kingdom rose to its former glory and its name was changed, and with it, the fate of Cera Sumat and the Medallion of the Lost Followers was forgotten... until your arrival in Kuldahar and the medallion and the Holy Avenger were united once again to meet the Lost Followers in battle one final time.  

But the story of Ehld and Cera Sumat was a story of another time, and of the adventures of another hero.  This is now your time, and your epic.  If your band counts a paladin among its number, then this ancient blade is yours to wield against the forces of evil...  

And perhaps, if your heart is true, save a land from destruction once again. 



  1. Where's Varscona? :P

    Given how early you can grab it, it's probably the weapon that sees most use in all BG1. DoV it's like a hot rod, but Varscona is like the Rick Astley that never gives you up

    1. Ashideena and Varscona are considered prime wields in Best BG/BG2 weapons, but the on-hit cumulative poison of DoV makes it more damaging and combat encounter-impacting than either (the poison disrupts both movement rate and spellcasting).

      • DoV: 1d4 +2, +15 poison (+15 is per round)
      • Ashideena: 1d4 +3, +1 electrical
      • Varscona: 1d8 +2, +1 cold


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