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 at level 40).
- +1 bonus to THAC0 and damage every five levels (+8 to-hit and 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.
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.
If high melee damage is the goalEdit
Many new players fail to realize that it is possible to have multiple attacks per round 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 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 than the Swashbuckler's damage advantages. The THAC0 cap of 10 for thieves compared to warrior classes THAC0 of 0 will also more than negate any to-hit bonuses the Swashbuckler gets.
If high Armor Class 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 inherent AC of the swashbuckler is a boon when also trying to wear equipment towards other effects, take 100% magic resistance for example, the Monk class will have an easier time achieving both. The monk class also does more damage while having enough defenses to be immune to (or at least survive) most traps (which they also can find, to keep squishier members of the party safe). Please note that -24 AC is a hard in-game cap in Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition for non-warrior classes (-26 for warrior classes).
Reasons to still choose SwashbucklerEdit
The best reason is that a thief can open any lock guaranteed and pickpocket many valuable items (such as a second Ring of Gaxx) making them very useful to a party. Arguably, some form of melee tank and trap protection for the party is necessary and the Swashbuckler can also fill both these rolls. Thieves also level to 39 faster than any other class making them ideal if wishing to actually reach the high levels in a single play-through or if enjoying larger party NPC interactions, back-stories and/or quests. If not wanting to waste time micromanaging hiding in shadows for sneak attacks, then the Swashbuckler is the perfect 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.
Swashbuckler's may also gain very useful -7 to Death/Wand/Spell "Shorty" Saving Throws bonuses (helpful against many boss abilities that bypass all magic resistance) based on Constitution (for Dwarfs and Halflings) where as monks are restricted to Humans. Unlike monks, swashbucklers also gain access to Greater Evasion, which allows for the best saving throws in the game against higher difficulty setting bosses.
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, and the ability to cast any spell from scrolls (once Use Any Item is gained) further extends the possibilities beyond what other classes can do.
Since lack of attacks per round is the biggest issue for damage a Swashbuckler will face:
- 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 but the damage and to-hit bonus will still apply.
- Ninjatō of the Scarlet Brotherhood and Belm, and will get your melee attacks up to 4.5 (3.5 main hand and 1 off-hand) per round. This puts the hard hitting (remember the +8 to damage) swashbuckler near the 5 attacks per round cap that all classes face anyway when not using Whirlwind Attack. 2 proficiency points into scimitars and 2 or 3 points into two-weapon style is very strongly recommended.
- 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 various arrows like Arrow of Dispelling. 2 proficiency points are recommended for short-bows. One proficiency point in two-handed weapon style is recommended as it will double the chance to get critical hits with short-bows (and all other 2 handed weapons during whirlwind attack). Great for tactical pulling, sniping, kiting, and leading enemies into both metaphorical and literal traps.
- 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 will be the Swashbuckler's best damage (and quite a bit of it). 2 proficiency points may be spent on darts.
- For the few bosses with very high weapon enchantment weapon immunity (+4 required to overcome it), Flail of Ages +5, Carsomyr+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 or other offhand may occasionally be preferable for their effects and will receive 1 of the 10 attacks as the off-hand weapon. The power of these weapons with whirlwind and the swashbuckler's bonuses, even without proficiency points, allows the freedom to choose the right weapon for the fight without the damage penalty a fighter outside of their limited 2 or 3 grand-mastery choices would feel.
- A shield may be worn (after Use Any Item is chosen at level 24) while throwing darts or during Whirlwind Attack using a single-handed weapons. Alternatively, single-weapon style may be chosen to allow double the critical chance when no shield is used.
At an AC of -24 very few enemies will hit you except when critical hitting (wear a helmet!). Even Red Dragons will need to rely on critical hits, but some bosses in Throne of Bhaal will be able to overcome this with roughly half their attacks.
- The -24 AC cap (-26 for warrior classes) will not be hard to hit (even easier during Greater Evasion) if this is the Swashbuckler's defensive focus.
- Many good armors such as White Dragon Scale allow continued use of thief skills.
- Furthermore, Darksteel Shield (great for when using darts or Whirlwind Attack), Tzu-Zan's Bracers, Helm of Balduran, Defender (or other alignment restricted items), and many more normally restricted items can be worn once Use Any Item is chosen at level 24 to allow vast defensive and utility optimization combinations.