Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Top 10 Best Infinity Engine Axes (Baldur's Gate, BG2, Planescape: Torment, Icewind Dale, IWD2)

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

Just a friendly reminder that my pro-tip write-ups are based on the original and authoritative versions of the Infinity Engine games, patched to their final versions, except in the case of IWD, where I mainly cover 1.06 (but also 1.42).

The hand axe or throwing axe is also known as a hatchet.  The axe blade has a sharp steel tip, counterbalanced by a pointed fluke.  The short handle has a point of the bottom and the head may have a spike on the top.

The most common version of the battle axe is a stout pole about four feet in length with a single-edged, trumpet-shaped blade mounted on one end.  Battle axes are also called broad axes.  Magical battle axes are normally crafted by dwarves to help defend their warriors against their harsher neighbors.

The greataxe is a mighty weapon consisting of a haft several feet long, topped with a heavy blade.  The weapon may be double-bitted, with blades on both sides of the haft, or it may only have a single blade.  It is an unwieldy weapon, but a skilled warrior can strike blows of tremendous strength with it.

Me axe be bloody ready! - Korgan Bloodaxe.

Axes are for Dwarves, TNO and Vhailor. Elves wielding axes? Please, that's just wrong. :P

Axes, as a grouping, don't offer as much as long swords (to be covered next), but heavy investment in the former is certainly viable, and you won't be disappointed in the selection of battle axes, hand axes/throwing axes and two-handed axes/greataxes. Barred from wielding missile weapons, it is worth pointing out that Cavaliers may nonetheless erroneously wield throwing axes (confirmed). Confirmed in-game by me as well, Cavaliers may also erroneously wield throwing knives but not darts whereas Kensai may erroneously wield throwing axes, knives, darts and hammers (for ranged crushing damage) providing they are Dwarven and find the Dwarven Thrower. But I digress, already: this post is only about axes!

Format is ranking, item code, proficiency, game/expansion, weapon stats, lore description, comment.

1. Azuredge (AX1H10, axe/throwing axe, BG2: SoA): THAC0 +0, 1d6 slashing (melee) or missile/piercing (thrown, returns to thrower) (+4 vs. Undead), Undead save vs. death at -4 or be disruptedadds Strength modifier to damage.
Gulen Rockfire, Slayer of Undead, crafted this powerful throwing axe expressly for reinforcing his claim to his namesake.  Blessed by a cross-section of gods, this weapon does phenomenal damage against creatures unwisely rebelling against their deceased status, and can potentially destroy them in a single blow.  Obviously Gulen no longer carries Azuredge, and it is rumored that he died fighting a powerful vampire years ago, only to rise as one himself.  This may have softened his stance regarding the undead, at the very least prompting a change of name.

◦ The most underrated weapon in BG2. Early procurement is everything (Copper Coronet). Cannot disrupt demi-liches because it's "only" +3 enchantment. Also, it's nice to have a Strength-based ranged attack for your melee guys, even if it's nowhere near necessary.

2. Axe of the Unyielding (AX1H14 [+3]AX1H15 [+5], axe, BG2: ToB): 

◦ THAC0 +3, 1d8 +3 slashing, AC +1regen 1 HP/round.
This axe was last seen in the gnarled fists of Glimred Heavyhand, an aging dwarven hero who disappeared in the deepest caverns beneath the Marching Mountains.
◦ THAC0 +5, 1d8 +5 slashing, AC +1regen 3 HPs/round, Con +1on-hit 10% no-save vorpal.
Enhanced by the magic of the Baalor's Claw, the Axe of the Unyielding is now the most fearsome of weapons - a vorpal edged axe capable of severing an opponents head with a single blow. 

◦ AotU is your greatest gift to Korgan. The on-hit vorpal can decapitate Maraliths at the Throne. If it happens, it's awesome. Bypassing deep HP pools with vorpal is FUN. Unyielding is the most impressive axe on the Infinity Engine after the brutal Massive Greataxe of Flame (see below).

Note that its 3 HPs regen will stack with regen conferred by the Ring of Gaxx.

3. Stonefire (AX1H12, axe, BG2: SoA): THAC0 +3, 1d8 +3 slashing, +2 fire.
The Stonefires were an old lineage of dwarves, and the eldest male of the line carried this axe, an heirloom of utmost importance.  Unfortunately they were decimated in 1150DR, falling in a mere two years to a mysterious plague.  Ulgan, keeper of the axe, fled in the hopes of escaping the inevitable, but he died several weeks later.  His body was found in the Cloakwood Forest, but the axe was missing.

◦ Rated above Frostreaver by virtue of its easier acquisition (Copper Coronet). The on-hit fire helps out immensely against early Stoneskins and trolls.

4. Frostreaver (AX1H13, axe, BG2: SoA): THAC0 +3, 1d8 +3 slashing, +1 cold, +1 acid.
This was the axe of Illgarth, a Frost Giant that terrorized northern communities long ago.  It is not known where he acquired the weapon, but he took a perverse pleasure in unleashing it upon small folk, particularly halflings.  Ice and acid maimed those not killed, and the giant would laugh coldly if he recognized his handiwork from a previous visit.  Ultimately a group did manage to kill him, and at the request of his victims Frostreaver was buried with him. 

◦ Found as loot near the golems of De Arnise stronghold. The acid will finish off trolls. Unless someone else isn't wielding Belm, Korgan will likely dual-wield Stonefire and Frostreaver.

5. Charged Battle Axe (U1HAX2A, axe, IWD): THAC0 +2, 1d8 +2 slashing, on-hit 50% 1d3 electrical, on-hit 15% Stun.
Besides its superb craftsmanship, tiny runes of power can be seen etched all along the surface. It's obvious a lot of time and effort went into its creation and although not apparent at first, a slight blue glow can be seen emanating from the runes.

◦ Easily fishable random drop. Can also be fished from two random item pools (earliest is Temple of the Forgotten God). Two-Handed Sword +1: Hammering is better (20% Stun), but it's not an axe, and you can't equip a shield on the off-hand.

6. Battleaxe +2 Defender (U1HAX3B, axe, IWD): THAC0 +2, 1d8 +2 slashing, AC +2, +10% missile damage resistance.
Besides its superb craftsmanship, tiny runes of power can be seen etched all along the surface. It's obvious a lot of time and effort went into its creation and although not apparent at first, a slight blue glow can be seen emanating from the runes.

◦ Lazily, it has the same description as CBA. Defender is a guaranteed early find in the second dungeon of Dragon's Eye. Its AC +2 is very solid at that point.

7. Bala's Axe: Wizard Slayer (AX1H07, BG: TotSC): THAC0 +0, 1d8 slashing, on-hit 80% Miscast Magic save vs. spell -2, Dispel Magic 1/day.
Bala was a foul-tempered prince of a gully dwarf clan, which was enslaved by a cruel elven mage in Thesk. Though Bala managed to escape the more cowardly traits of his race he was even more filthy and obnoxious than the average gully dwarf. Sickened of his enslavement, Bala crept into the mage's lair and cracked the elf's skull open. Although rumor has it that it was the dwarf's stench that overcame the mage, it was, in fact, his enchanted axe that dispelled the elf's magical defenses. It is obvious from the poor workmanship that Bala himself crafted the axe. The mystery lies in where its power originates. After a lengthy career of mage-slaying, Bala died, never having revealed his secret to those who were willing to risk a lice infestation by approaching him. Some say that the axe was powered by Bala's intense hatred of wizards. The axe gives the owner the ability to dispel magic once a day.

◦ Rated highly due to its interesting and unique on-hit effect, and the amusing description. You will need to delve to the third labyrinth of Durlag's Tower in order to get it, though.

8. Rifthome (AX1H09, axe, throwing axe, BG2: SoA): THAC0 +3, 1d6 +3 slashing (melee) or missile/piercing (thrown, returns to thrower), adds Strength modifier to damage.
This Axe of Hurling is one of the most heavily enchanted weapons of its type.  Its markings are vaguely dwarven, but no dwarf yet encountered on Faerun has claimed a kinship with the maker.  This causes some to speculate that it may not be the product of a terrestrial dwarven hand, rather some extra-planar variant.  Dwarves laugh this off, of course, claiming the maker likely has no time for nosey scholars. 

◦ You will have to join Bodhi in the Guild War of Chapter 3 in order to get this beast.

9. Battle Axe +3: Fatigue (U1HAX4A, axe, IWD): THAC0 +3, 1d8 +3 slashing, on-hit 20% Slow

◦ Random drop in Krilag's cave of Dorn's Deep. On-hit Slow reminiscent of the Flail of Ages.

10. K'logarath (AX1H16, axe, throwing axe, BG2: ToB): THAC0 +4, 1d6 +4 slashing (melee) or missile/piercing (thrown, returns to thrower), on-hit save vs. death Knockdown +2d6 damageadds Strength modifier to damage.
The origins of this throwing axe are known only to denizens of the Underdark.  What is known is that clans of duergar have gone to war simply to possess this artifact. 

◦ Very late-game acquisition (Amkethran) but it's the most powerful throwing axe in the game.


Battle Axe of Mauletar (AX1H03, axe, BG): THAC0 +2, 1d8 +2 slashing.
During the Tethyr civil war, the Battleaxe of Mauletar was in the possession of the house of Ossyind.  This noble family was betrayed while trying to flee the country, and Mauletar, lead guard and personal friend, took up the axe and sacrificed himself to buy enough time for his companions to flee.  His battle cry was favored by the gods, and was echoed across the lands as a symbol of devoted friendship and loyalty.  Thus, the magical axe was used to uphold these virtues, to be used against those who lacked honor and courage.

◦ A late-game procurement (BG City, Gretek) that doesn't even sport on-hit elemental damage like Ashideena and Varscona? Disgusting! I mean, at least give it a few points of on-hit bleeding and a movement reduction or something!

Throwing Axe +2 (AX1H05, throwing axe, BG): THAC0 +2, 1d6 +3 missile/piercing (thrown, returns to thrower), adds Strength modifier to damage.
This throwing axe has not only been finely balanced for use as a missile weapon but has also been the subject of significant magical enhancement. As a result, it is both more damaging and more accurate than any non-magical weapon of a similar style. 

◦ Again, late-game acquisition (caverns of Candlekeep). Again, 1 point of elemental or something goes a long way...

Black Isle's PS:T, IWD and IWD2: As you can see in the list below, the IWD series and PS:T itemize a lot of axes. It's a great grouping to get Grandmastery/Focus in. But the following either come too late or are just not impressive enough to make the cut.

• Axe of Caged Souls (ZZU6CS, axe, IWD): THAC0 +3 (+5 vs. Cadaverous Undead), 1d8 +3 slashing (+5 vs. Cadaverous Undead).
Like many prominent dwarven weapons, this axe was enchanted by the prayers and devotion of dwarven priests.  The Axe of Caged Souls was created as a defense against the resuscitated corpses of their foes and allies that dark elven sorcerers and priestesses would continually drive at dwarven defenses.  It was used in combat by Jamoth Stonetree at the Battle of the Dead, where a group of twenty veteran dwarven warriors held off ten drow mages and their army of zombies, ghouls, and wights.

Nonetheless, this will likely be wielded by someone in the party upon its procurement.

• The Celebrant's Blade (CELEBRA, axe, IWD): THAC0 +4, 1d8 +4 slashing. Hall of Heroes, Dorn's Deep.
This beautiful axe was carefully made by Briath Silverhand, a master craftsman and devoted worshipper of Moradin.  Briath created the weapon to celebrate the completion of a glorious monument to his god, the father of the dwarven race.  He placed it in the monument should a hero need it to liberate Dorn's Deep at some future date.

Gets points for style. Not every axe has to be forged for killin', though this does the job.

• Joril's Axe (J2HAXEtwo-handed axe, IWD): 1d12 +3 slashing, Con +1. Frost Giant cave, Wyrm's Tooth.
This mighty weapon consists of a five to six-foot haft with a heavy blade.  The axe is double-bitted, with blades on both sides of the haft.  It is an unwieldy weapon, but a skilled warrior can strike blows of tremendous strength with it.  Joril Frostbeard, the frost giant leader, wielded this axe. The weapon has been enchanted with several beneficial magics.

1d12 is nice but you're forgoing a shield. Not that you can't make it work.

• Lonesome Road (AX1H05two-handed axe, IWD): 1d10 +3 slashing, Con +1.
This was the weapon of a cursed soul, doomed to wander the length and breadth of Faerun for his crimes against the elves of Myth Drannor.  Denell Harband was a human involved with the creation of the "Halfaxe Trail."  Under the orders of his commander, Halvan the Dark, he forged ahead through elven forests despite protests and repeated attacks.  When he was finally captured by the elves, he stated emphatically that he was free of guilt because he was just following his orders.  The elven council deemed that Denell be placed under a High Geas to carry his axe from the Sword Coast of Faerun to its borders in the east, and from the Great Glacier to Lurien.  It took Denell thirty years to complete his task.  When he finished, he was an accomplished warrior, weathered and beaten by years on foreign roads.  On his way back to his home, he passed by Harrowdale and saw a wooden statue of Halvan the Dark raised proudly in a small town square.  With a single-handed blow, he lodged his huge axe into Halvan's forehead.  Never breaking stride, he returned to his hut where he lived out the rest of his days as a reclusive farmer.

Prohibitively expensive (Conlan), no notable perk, and sacrifices the shield slot. Love the name, though. :)

Axe of the Minotaur Lord (AXEMINO, IWD: ToLM): THAC0 +4, 1d12 +4 slashing, on-hit 25% 1d4 round Stun. Fourth dungeon of ToLM (Minotaur Lair).
This fine weapon once belonged to the Minotaur Lord in the Luremaster's catacombs. The axe sports a double blade mounted on a solid oak shaft. It is finely balanced and may be used one-handed. The axe is enchanted, giving the user a +4 to both hit and damage. A successful hit also has a 25% chance of stunning an opponent for 1D4 rounds.

This is a late-game upgrade due to its on-hit Stun.

• Massive Greataxe of Flame (00AX2H94, two-handed axe/Greataxe, IWD2): Enchantment +5, AB +5, 2d12 +5 slashing, Flaming Burst: +1d6 fire damage and 10% chance of +1d10 extra fire damage.
This mighty weapon consists of a four to five foot haft with a very heavy blade. The axe may be double-bitted, with blades on both sides of the haft, or it may only have a single blade. It is an unwieldy weapon, but a skilled warrior can strike blows of tremendous strength with it. Dwarven runes have been etched into the giant blade to further enhance the axe.

Random late-game drop that is extremely difficult to fish. Remember, 1.5x Strength bonus and x3 crit.

Ascension (AXASC, two-handed axe, PS:T): THAC0 +2, 3-10 slashing, +2 slashing, Cha +1, AC +1. You will need to join the Godsmen faction to net this.
"Ascension" is one of the finest weapons created at the Great Foundry, the home of the Believers of the Source. It is one of three weapons called the "Triad of Tests", including the hammer "Reason" and the dagger "Enlightenment". The symbol of the faction is engraved on the axe head, and the edges of the blades are so sharp they could split a hair lengthwise. You are the first to bear this weapon.

Meh, it's ok. Next one is better, though:

Butcherer of Innocents (BUTCHERtwo-handed axe, PS:T): THAC0 +2, Enchanted +2, 3-10 slashing, +2 slashing, on-hit HP drain/transfer to wielder.
This giant, axe-like cleaver earned its nickname while in the hands of Oswell Breck, a butcher who once serviced the Clerk's Ward of Sigil. The chant is that one day this affable and well-respected citizen suddenly went on a murderous and bloody rampage that lasted ten days and ten nights. Cleaver in hand, Oswell stalked the streets of the ward, brutally hacking down every man, woman, and child unlucky enough to cross his path until the Lady herself intervened. It is rumored that he suffered from a strange disease that slowly caused his body to waste away, and it was this disease that eroded his sanity and prompted the murder spree. The origin of this instrument of carnage is shrouded in mystery. However, the various wizards and scholars who examined the discarded weapon after Oswell's mazing have catalogued the nature of its enchantment. The cleaver seems to feed upon its victims, sucking the very life force from them and bestowing a portion of it upon its wielder.

Purchased from Coaxmetal in the Siege Tower of the Lower Ward. Good for extra survival in conjunction with TNO regen.

Hatred's Gift (HATEGIFT, two-handed axe, PS:T): THAC0 +1, 3-13 slashing, cursed (Berserk).
It is not exactly clear in the annals of known planar history when "Hatred's Gift" was created, but by the bloody trail it has left across the planes seems to have finally reached you. The axe exists to inspire hatred in one's enemies and fill its wielder with a berserker rage. When entering combat, the skulls along the shaft come alive, chittering their teeth, and the teeth (remnants of fiendish victims absorbed into the axe blade) extend outwards, biting and tearing into opponents with each strike.  Once equipped, "Hatred's Gift" cannot be dropped unless its curse is removed.

Not sure why I listed this. Crap.

Heartgrinder (GRINDER, two-handed axe, PS:T): THAC0 +2, Enchanted +1, 3-10 slashing, 1-6 electrical, additional damage against creatures with hearts. Obtained in Curst after freeing a demon.
A single teardrop of the wielder's blood, applied at the border where the axe meets the handle, is sufficient to awaken "Heartgrinder." Once applied, the drop of blood freckles across the blade and handle, giving it a dull red radiance. The glow from Heartgrinder pulses, matching the heartbeat of its wielder. No matter what the target, Heartgrinder is a powerful weapon, capable of tearing through nearly any defenses. Against targets with blood running in their veins (whether their own or another's -- vampires beware), Heartgrinder inflicts additional damage, as every stroke also smashes the target's heart, no matter what location the axe struck.

A nice upgrade once TNO hits Curst.

Entropic Blade (EAXEtwo-handed axe, PS:T: THAC0 +2, Enchanted +2, 3-23 slashing.
This strange item was in your possession after you gave the Modron Cube to the iron golem in the Siege Tower. It looks to be a small dagger, but its surface twists and bends as you watch, as if struggling to break free from its shape. It looks to be made of iron, silver, and any of a number of different metals. Sometimes they blend together, other times, they submerge into the core of the blade, only to resurface again minutes later.

Celestial Fire is superior. EB is a nice fallback for players who weren't disciplined enough to role-play Lawful Good TNO, though (it's not easy for newbies because there are lots of funny dialogue options for them to be seduced by).

Axe of Celestial Fire (CELESTIAtwo-handed axe, PS:T): THAC0 +2, Enchanted +3, 3-18 slashing, +10 fire, AC +2, +10% slashing resistance, LG Fighter only.
The blade of Trias became a heavy axe in your hands. It is warm to the touch, and flames have been carved across the surface of the head. The intricacy of the carvings is breathtaking; they are done with such skill that the axe seems to be burning with metallic flames...someone must have spent several centuries rendering them. The axe looks several millennia old. A faint hum can be felt within it, and the vibration becomes stronger when it touches human flesh.

Now that's what I'm talking about. Very nice damage, thar.

Final Judgment: Executioner's Axe (two-handed axe, PS:T): THAC0 +3, Enchanted +2, 5-15 slashing, 1-6 fire, double damage vs. the guilty and the Chaotic, Vhailor only, cursed
This archaic double-bladed battle-axe is reminiscent of an executioner's axe; the axe head has been forged into the symbol of the Mercykiller Faction (a red dragon with its wings outspread...the outstretched wings have been shaped into the blades of the axe). The axe itself is huge; even wielded two-handed, it would require tremendous strength to use effectively. For a spectral entity, Vhailor must be extremely strong. This axe is as much a part of Vhailor as his armor, and the axe itself carries part of Vhailor's essence within it. As a result, it is utterly devoted to justice and will not allow the user to rest while "judgments" are left to be delivered. The considerable damage it causes to an opponent is doubled if the axe strikes a  guilty or chaotic creature. Furthermore, the axe itself lends some of its strength to the wielder, giving him added protection from attacks. The origin of this axe is unknown. If you were to hazard a guess, the axe gained its powers simply from Vhailor's belief. If he were to die a second death, you don't know what would happen to it. 

This is Vhailor's mighty weapon (Curst Prison). BADASS.


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