Sunday, 6 May 2018

Top 10 Best Infinity Engine Longblades (Long Swords, Katanas, Scimitars, Bastard Swords) (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  LONG BLADES




Longblades is the general moniker I have assigned to several groupings of swords for the purposes of this write-up. Even long swords alone are the strongest grouping in BG2 and one of the strongest groupings in IWD. By that I mean that they are well-itemized for newbies with no foreknowledge of itemization, and even interesting wields for veterans to consider (Blackrazor, Foebane, Equalizer). There are three things of note. First, bastard swords come under great swords in IWD, but I will be treating them as longblades for the purposes of this series of posts. Second, you cannot backstab with bastard swords (though you can Sneak Attack with them in IWD2). Third, other than Dak'kon's Zerth Blade (which comes under the edged weapon grouping that includes daggers), there are no traditional longblades of any kind in Planescape: Torment.

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

1. Celestial Fury +3 (SW1H51, 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.
To enchant a katana is no simple process.  Unlike conventional weapons, the katana is already a near-perfect fighting sword.  To improve it usually requires a sacrifice, perhaps a dying samurai might beg a Wu Jen to infuse his fighting spirit into the spirit of the katana.  The wielder of an enchanted katana, such as this one, must respect the customs of Kara-Tur and of the samurai who once carried this blade into battle.  Not doing so could drastically change one's luck for the worse.

A generic description for a first-rank blade? That is just pure laziness from BioWare. Ranked 5th place in Top 10 Infinity Engine Weapons, it is no surprise that Celestial Fury is ranked numero uno in its own category. Veterans can pull off an early acquisition on the second floor of the Guarded Compound in the Temple District. Not only is its on-hit Stun MR-bypassing (meaning the likes of Adamantite Golems will be affected), but it will also trigger over Mirror Image and Stoneskin. Note the 1d10 weapon roll. Now think, "Kensai Kai/Kensai/Thief Kai-charged backstabs." One of the best weapons in BG2 and the best backstabbing weapon in SoA. Just make sure you are packing something else when you go up against such epics as demi-liches, Demogorgon, Ravager and the Ust Natha Demon Lord (+3 just isn't enough).

2. Scimitar of Speed: Belm (SW1H30, scimitar, BG2: SoA). THAC0 +2, 1d8 +2, ApR +1.
This enchanted scimitar bears the mark of Taka Kobe, an honored swordsmith of Kara-Tur, though how it came to be here is unknown.  Perfectly balanced, it affords quick recovery in combat and even allows the wielder time for an additional attack.

Again, ranked sixth place in  Top 10 Infinity Engine Weapons, it is no surprise that Belm is ranked highly in its own category. Equipping Belm in the off-hand will add another attack to your main hand. Thus, it makes even the best weapon better (even a werewolf claw). Belm is better than Kundane (+1 ApR short sword) 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 +1 ApR Scarlet Ninja-To (because warriors and Jaheira can wield it). Belm is the best general off-hand weapon in the game because ApR is King. There are very few optimizing situations in which you will not want to off-hand Belm.

3. 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.
On the githzerai's home plane of Limbo, solid matter is something of a rarity. Limbo itself is a soupy mass of elements, and only through force of will can the githzerai shape these elements into stable matter. A substance called "karach" is a material that can be shaped with the mind. Dak'kon's blade is composed of this substance; through mental discipline alone, Dak'kon maintains the integrity of the blade. He can shape it slightly depending on his skill, adjusting its length, sharpness of the edge. Presumably as he gains levels, he may be able to manipulate the blade in new ways. It is not known whether all githzerai zerth carry such weapons. Certainly a weapon that depends on the integrity of the wielder would be entrusted only to those who had learned to discipline themselves. This blade appears to have special religious significance for Dak'kon. Dak'kon has wound a series of parchments around the hilt of the blade. These appear to be mantras dedicated to Zerthimon.

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.

Dak'kon's Zerth Blade (WA2DAK, katana, BG2: SoA): THAC0 +2, 1d10 +2 slashing, +1 first, second, third and fourth arcane spell slot.

As you can see, the Zerth Blade is also available in BG2 (Bonus merchant in the Adventurer's Mart). It's good for Fighter/Mages, I suppose, but doesn't factor into the ranking.

4. Sunblade: Daystar (SW1H31, long sword, BG2: SoA): THAC0 +2 (+4 vs. Evil), 1d8 +2 (+4 vs. Evil), double damage vs. Undead, Sunray 1/day: 3d6 damage (save vs. spells 10 round Blindness), +1d6 per caster level (saves vs. spells or be disrupted).
Whether created specifically for use in the service of Torm or appropriated at some point in the long history of the church, Paladins of the Loyal Fury have made good use of Daystar in their battles against evil undead.  Through magic or blessing it is empowered with the Sunray, a force of pure life energy so potent that it slays both living and unliving.

Easy pick-up; you don't need to fight the Lich. It is not so much the disruption capability (which is only 1/day; IMoD and Azuredge can attempt disruption all day long...) as it is the early +4 enchantment vs. Evil, the +4 damage vs. Evil, and the double damage vs. Undead that cements this as the third best longblade in BG2.

5. Varscona (SW1H06, long sword, BG): THAC0 +2, 1d8 +2 slashing, cold +1.
Blades of this type were long used by Sharran priests during the sacrificial rites of "Feast of the Moon" ceremonies.  Legends say that, when she passed on, the remains of this sword's wielder were mummified and the blade was placed within her chest as a symbol of power.  In the first stage of a long forgotten ritual, she was to have been exhumed in a season, born again in some new form.  Unfortunately, cult wars killed the few that knew of her existence; her tomb became a prison where she was forgotten, and there she developed a rage that bordered on insanity.  Her grave was eventually found, but it was deserted and gave no indication of her whereabouts.  Some venture to say that her anger was so concentrated, she became one with the very blade of her weapon.  Regardless, after hundreds of years surrounded by constant hate, the sword harvested a power of its own.  It is now exceedingly deadly in combat. 

You can save Prism and loot Greywolf's corpse for Varscona in the early stages of BG. This will give the wielder a great boost and allow them to bypass the Iron Taint straight out of the blocks. Unlike the Ashideena war hammer, it's also backstab-capable (and better than the Whistling short sword for that purpose).

6. Long Sword of Confusion (ULSWD3B, long sword, IWD): THAC0 +2, 1d8 +2 slashing, on-hit 25% no-save Confusion.
(Generic description is generic.) These swords are usually referred to as doubled-edged swords, war swords, or military swords.  In many cases, the long sword has a single-edged blade. There is no single version of the long sword; the design and length vary from culture to culture, and may vary within the same culture depending on the era.  Among the most common characteristics of all long swords is their length, which ranges from 35 inches to 47 inches.  In the latter case, the blade is known to take up 40 inches of the total length.  Most long swords have a double-edged blade and a sharp point at the tip.  Despite the tip, the long sword is designed for slashing, not thrusting.

Guaranteed early find in the first dungeon of Dragon's Eye. Trolls that drop while under the effects of Confusion can be erroneously slain with follow-up attacks without fire, acid or poison. That is actually very convenient but it's not why it's ranked at 6th: it's simply because confused enemies will run away or attack each other. Divide & Conquer is hugely helpful in IWD's many horde-based encounters.

7. Blackrazor (MISCBC, long sword, BG2: SoA): THAC0 +3, 1d8 +3 slashing, Imm: Charm & Fear, Regen 1 HP per 5 secs, on-hit 15% cumulative Level Drain and on-hit self-heal 20 HPs and on-hit Haste and culmulative Strength +3 for 20 secs.
This sword radiates evil like a sour odor, and the owner never knows if he wields the weapon, or if it wields him.  In addition to its combat abilities, Blackrazor slowly regenerates its owner with the drained strength of opponents.

Procured in the SoA finale, you can dodge the Evil-alignment shift as part of the Greed Bhaaltear by simply pickpocketing Blackrazor from the genie. Don't understimate that on-hit cumulative level drain: sure, the +3 enchantment means it's useless against foes such as demi-liches, Demogorgon, Ravager and the Ust Natha Demon Lord (which are immune to level drain, anyway), but that doesn't mean you can't LD everything else, including Dragons. Also, high ApR means 25 Strength in no time. This is an awesome veteran wield.

8. Foebane (SW1H62 [+3], SW1H63 [+5], bastard sword [craft], BG2: ToB):

◦ THAC0 +3, 2d4 +3 slashing, (+2d4 vs. undead, shapeshifters, extra-planar).
The Archmage Demron created this powerful blade for Captain Fflar of Myth Drannor.  When the elven city fell, the sword was lost beneath the rubble of the once great metropolis.

◦ THAC0 +5, 2d4 +5 slashing (+6 vs. undead, shapeshifters, extra-planar), All-Saves +1, on-hit no-save cumulative Larloch's Minor Drain (increases HP pool above natural limit).
Reunited with Fflar's Scabbard, Foebane is an even greater weapon than the legends claimed.

Assuming high ApR and that you keep on hitting, the on-hit Larloch will boost your HP pool far beyond its natural limit, almost to the point of immortality against physical-based damage dealing. Best of all, you can net Foebane on the first level of Watcher's Keep (as early as Chapter 2), grab Fflar's Scabbard en route to Gromnir, and have the upgraded version for the entirety of Throne of Bhaal.

9. Drizzt's Scimitar +5, Defender: Twinkle (SW1H16, long sword, BG): THAC0 +3, 1d8 +3 slashing, AC +2).

It doesn't hit as +5: it's +3 for its THAC0 and +2 for its AC bonus. Veterans can slay Drizzt pretty easily. Three enchantment points along with a two-point bonus to AC in BG? Sign me up.

10. Usuno's Blade (SW1H67, scimitar/wakizashi/ninja-to, BG2: ToB): THAC0 +4, 1d8 +4 slashing, on-hit 10% 2d10 electrical (save for half).
The daughter of a high ranking official within the bureaucratic society of Kara-Tur, Usuno rejected her family's station and carved a legend for herself among the Yakuza of the underworld. The blade of this enchanted ninja-to crackles with electrical energy.

An early +4, elemental-based acquisition (first floor of Watcher's Keep). Thus, it's in the top 10.

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Ok, here are some other longblades, listed in no particular order. Other than Foebane, none of the BG2 crafts really blow my hair back. They are so far beneath Celestial Fury and Belm that it isn't even funny. Yes, they can hit certain epics that CF, Belm and Blackrazor cannot, but that only tips the scales in their favor against a few enemies (which I have mentioned above).

• Angurvadal (SW1H60 [+4], [+5], SW1H61 long sword [craft], BG2: ToB):
◦ THAC0 +4, 1d8 +4 slashing, +1 fire, sets Strength to 22 for 60 secs.
Also known as the Stream of Anguish, this is the legendary burning blade of Frithiof.   

◦ THAC0 +5, 1d8 +5 slashing, 1d4+1 fire, sets Strength to 22 on-equip, Imm: Level Drain.
The true power of Frithior's blazing sword has been unleashed by the Liquid Mercury.

You will have to descend to the fourth level of Watcher's Keep in order to procure Angurvadal. Then, you will have to procure the Liquid Mercury in Senda's Lair in order to have Cespenar upgrade it.

• Spectral Brand (SW1H68 [+4]SW1H69 [+5], scimitar/wakizashi/ninja-to [craft], BG2: ToB):

◦ THAC0 +4, 1d8 +4 slashing, +1d4 coldsummon spectral blade once/day (duration: 4 rounds, 1 ApR, 1d8 +3).
Legend has it that the the souls of those who fall beneath this dark blade are forever enslaved, and can be summoned to fight invisibly at the side of the very one who defeated them.

◦ THAC0 +5, 1d8 +5 slashing, +1d6 coldsummon spectral blade once/day (duration: 4 rounds, 1 ApR, 1d8 +3), Negative Plane ProtectionArmor Piercing Strike 1/day (THAC0 +10 for 3 rounds).
Drawing on the necromancy of the Skull of the Lich, Spectral Brand is now an instrument of unholy death that should never have been unleashed upon the Realms.

A solid back-up backstabbing weapon. NPP is nice. The summon is all but useless. You're playing the game wrong if you think it's useful.

• Answerer (SW1H77, long sword, BG2: ToB): THAC0 +4, 1d8 +4 slashing, on-hit MR -15%on-hit cumulative AC -2.
The last swing of a battle is more important than the first.  Such is the philosophy embodied in this powerful weapon.  Although the strange design of The Answerer makes it difficult to take the initiative in combat, with each hit it makes an opponent more vulnerable to subsequent attacks.  

MR and AC drain is pretty meh.

• Scarlet Ninja-To (WANINJA, scimitar/wakizashi/ninja-to, BG2: SoA): THAC0 +3, 1d8 +3 slashing, +1 ApRon-hit cumulative 6 points of poison damage per round for 2 rounds on failed save vs. poison.
Ninja-To of the Scarlet Brotherhood. When a member of the Scarlet Brotherhood kills one of that organization's 'great enemies', they are often rewarded with this sword.  How this sword made its way from the world of Greyhawk (where the Brotherhood is based) to Faerun is a mystery.  When unsheathed the ninja-to will glow blood red.

This is the best off-hand longblade for UAI-capable combat units (better than Belm or Kundane because it's +3 and inflicts cumulative poison.)

• Equalizer (SW1H54, long sword [craft], BG2: SoA): +3 enchanment for purposes of to-hit, 1d8 slashing, THAC0 +0/Damage +0 vs. True Neutral, THAC0 +1/Damage +1 vs. Chaotic Neutral/Lawful Neutral, THAC0 +2/Damage +4 vs. Neutral Good/Neutral Evil, THAC0 +3/Damage +6 vs. other alignments, Imm: Charm Confusion.
Such is the age of this sword that its true origin has been lost to time, but markings hint that it was possibly forged in the service of Helm.  Also called the "Sword of Neutrality", it seems designed to seek and terminate extremes, to shift the universe closer to harmonious equilibrium.  The further the behavior of a target from true balance, the more potent the damage they suffer.

The vs. alignment damage of an off-hand Equalizer is transferred to the on-hand. Thus, for example, an on-hand Purifier will inflict +11 vs. Chaotic Evil. Or an on-hand Foebane will inflict +12 vs. Undead. Nice.

• Hindo's Doom (SW1H70 [+3], SW1H71 [+4], katana [craft], BG2: ToB):

◦ THAC0 +3, 1d10 +3 slashing, Lesser Restoration 1/day.
Hindo was a samurai of great reknown, a staunch defender of his people against the evil undead that often ravaged his homelands. 

◦ THAC0 +4, 1d10 +4 slashing, +10% MRImm: Death MagicGreater Restoration 1/day.
Reunited with the hand of its original owner, Hindo's Doom is a katana worthy of the greatest of Samurai. 

It's a joke to get this when you have been wielding Celestial Fury and Usuno's since Chapter 2...

• Namarra (SW1H36, long sword, BG2: SoA): THAC0 +2, 1d8 +4 slashing, Silence 15' radius 3/day.
Also known as Neversleep, this ancient blade is thought to have been present at some of the most influential conflicts in Faerun's history.  Sightings have been noted as far north as Thay and as south as the jungles of Chult, though documentation is oddly lacking regarding the details.  It is perhaps a result of the sword's ability to silence all sound within a large radius, removing the effectiveness of attacking mages but also preventing any discussion that might have followed. 

From memory, Namarra is an early acquisition in the Crypt King's tomb of the Graveyard District. I like it for its +4 damage and Silence special ability.

Purifier (SW1H64 [+4]SW1H65 [+5], bastard sword [craft], BG2: ToB):

◦ THAC0 +4, 2d4 +4 slashing (+4 vs. Chaotic Evil), +20% MR.
This single handed weapon is infused with the very essence of virtue, and is rumored to be the sanctified blade of the famous paladin Sir Wediyer.  The weapon was lost when Sir Wediyer pursued a fleeing pit fiend through a planar rift.  Neither the fiend nor Sir Wediyer ever returned.

◦ THAC0 +5, 2d4 +5 slashing (+5 vs. Chaotic Evil, +30% MR, Dispel Magic 1/day, Mass Cure 1/day.
With the Eye of Tyr set into its pommel, Purifier is perhaps the greatest single instrument of holy justice on the face of Faerun.

Pally only. If you wield Equalizer in the off-hand then you will inflict +11 vs. CE. Its +30% MR is pretty solid, too. Plus, you can wield a shield (unlike the two-handed Carsomyr; which, however, is better than Purifier, overall).

• Yamato (SW1H66, scimitar/wakizashi/ninja-to, BG2: ToB): THAC0 +4, 1d8 +4 piercing, AC +1.
The name of the mighty Wu Jen who fashioned this "companion sword" is long forgotten.  However, the name Yamato, loosely translated, means "Guardian" or "Defender".

Late-game garbage, tbqh. I mean, are you srs?

• Conflagration (UBSWD4C, bastard sword, IWD): THAC0 +2, 2d4 +2 slashing, on-hit 10% 5HD Fireball.
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.

Random and difficult fish in Upper Dorn's Deep.

Cancerous Bastard Sword (UBSWD5A, bastard sword, IWD 1.06): THAC0 +4, 2d4 +4 slashing, on-hit 15% cumulative Disease.
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.

Random and difficult late-game fish.

• Long Sword of Action +4 (ULSWD5A, long sword, IWD 1.06): THAC0 +4, 1d8 +4, +1 ApR, 25% slashing resistance.

Again, random and difficult late-game fish.

• Pale Justice (ZZ57PJ, IWD, large sword: holy avenger): THAC0 +4 (+7 vs. Evil), 1D8 +4 (+7 vs. Evil) slashing, Immune to Cloak of FearHorrorDire Charm and Symbol of HopelessnessPaladin only.

• Light of Cera Sumat (60HFSLHA, IWD2, large sword: holy avenger): Enchantment +5, AB +5, 1d8 +5 slashing, Holy: +2d6 vs. Evil, +15 SR, Spell Power: Dispel Magic, No daily limit), Paladin only. 

At least the HAs are satisfying to procure, have great lore descriptions, and there is a fair chunk of the campaigns left when you get them (PJ has the entirety of HoW).

• Blade of Aihonen (JHOSWD2, long sword, IWD):

Restored Blade of Aihonen: THAC0 +1 (+5 within a dragon's flight distance of Lac Dinneshere), 1d8 +1 slashing (+5 within a dragon's flight distance of Lac Dinneshere), +5 HPs within a dragon's flight distance of Lac Dinneshere, +25% resistance to cold and fire.
This once-shattered blade lay in the breast of Icasaracht, the last of the white dragon matriarchs that ruled the Spine of the World.  It was wielded by Aihonen, a distant ancestor of Jhonen the fisherman in Easthaven - the sword has lain at the bottom of the lake for almost a century, waiting to be returned to one of its wielder's bloodline.  How it has been restored to its original state is unknown, but whatever the reason, it looks like a powerful weapon that can help you free Easthaven from Brother Poquelin. The blade seems to draw its strength from Lac Dinneshere itself.  As long as the wielder is within a dragon's flight distance of the lake, the blade is a fearsome weapon. 

Singing Blade of Aihonen: THAC0 +1 (+5 within a dragon's flight distance of Lac Dinneshere), 1d8 +1 slashing (+5 within a dragon's flight distance of Lac Dinneshere), +10 HPs within a dragon's flight distance of Lac Dinneshere, +30% resistance to cold and fire, Cure Critical Wounds 3/day, +3 Strength 1/day.
The dwarven smith Tiernon has "soothed" this blade -- apparently, he was the one who forged it in the first place.  His skills have awoken some of the blade's original powers that had been drained when it was used to slay Icasaracht.

You will need to have given Jhonen the Shattered Blade of Aihonen in the Prologue in order to receive this in the Finale of IWD (along with a whopping 280,000 XP). Tiernon can then upgrade it to Singing Blade of Aihonen in the Heart of Winter add-on expansion. Nice.

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