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I am playing a character whose base class is a swashbuckler. But I did not optimize it to be a great warrior because for once I decided to rather invest in relationships and feats related to eberron, and I enjoy playing this way. But as a consequence, my fighting power did not improve at all while passing levels; my base attack bonus did, but I am still dealing (1D6+strength bonus+int bonus) damage as when I was a low level.

We recently seized some gold pieces and have the possibility of buying magical enhancements for our weapons, so I am looking for the best way of improving my damage rate. Do you know of special rapiers, or of effects that are especially effective on a rapier?

EDIT: I think I should give additional details on what books are allowed. The universe is Eberron, so imports from others universes like Forgotten Realms, Faerun, Oriental Adventures, are not allowed. In Eberron the DM proposed the use of the Action Points and DragonMarks system which already adds improvements to the gameplay on its own, and as a consequence, other alternative gameplays like psionnics and related (for example the collision effect) are not allowed. Finally, some books a little too much unbalanced like the Tome of Battle and Sword and Fist and all dragon fight related books are disallowed... which still lets a lot of books allowed, I think to all complete xxxx supplementals, most compendiums, plus the base rulebooks and anything else matching the general spirit of being evenly balanced and not being part of a specific universe or additional ruleset system beside Eberron.

Since this question could possibly be used as a reference for another swashbuckler not having the same constraints, don't hesitate proposing though, even if I can't use it, it's still interesting knowing it exists.

Some additionnal details on myself now. I am currently swashbuckler 5/dragonmark heir 2/duellist 1. For further progression I am aiming swashbuckler 5/dragonmark heir 4/duellist 3/blade of Orien N. I have the dragonmark of passage and I use it a lot to teleport in combat. I also invested a lot of skillpoints in movement skilltricks and in movement or relational skills like tumble, jump, balance, diplomacy, sense motive, bluff.. Without wearing magic items, my current abilities are DEX-18, STR-12, INT-14, CON-14, WIS-10, CHA-10

There is already a lot of replies, thanks a lot everybody, I apologize for not having given more details earlier. I will let the question open for a while since I also need time to explore all of your suggestions.

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Exactly how much do you have to spend? What level are you buying for? –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Mar 3 at 9:44
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I did not gave those details because I am looking as well for a long term continuous improving plan. I am taking my 8th level, and have around 8000 GP to spend. Most of my equipments slots are free, so I could also for example buy a +2 INT item to get +1 on dmgs and INT related throws. Must also mention that we have an artificer in the party that can get us prices reductions or apply the enhancements himself depending on which is the more interesting. –  Epeedefeu Mar 3 at 9:55
    
How are you fighting? Two Weapon Combat or single weapon? –  Rob Mar 3 at 11:15
    
single weapon combat –  Epeedefeu Mar 3 at 12:58
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Get Enlarge cast on you (moves the Rapier up to the next size category for damage) Not a weapon enhancement, so not answering directly. –  Rob Mar 3 at 14:19

5 Answers 5

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Counterintuitively,

Avoid Weapon Special Abilities that Inflict Damage

If your PC has been taking feats like Favored in House (ECS 53), and Least Dragonmark (mark of finding (ECS 64)) (ECS 53), and Skill Focus (Bluff) (PH 100) so he can better make Seduce to Learn Secret checks while the other PCs have been specializing in monster murdering, and they realize you aren't contributing much in a fight, explain that you'll need their help. As a swashbuckler (who doesn't cast spells) you were going to need it anyway. That's not an insult but a fact of mid- and high-level play.

You'll need their help because the first weapon special ability you add to your rapier is spell storing (DMG 225) (+1 bonus). No other weapon special ability scales for damage as well as it does because it scales with your party, one of whom should be happy to refill your +1 spell storing rapier free of charge at the end of a slow adventuring day. If you must fill your own tank, take ranks in the Use Magic Device skill and load your +1 spell storing rapier using a wand of combust [evoc] (SpC 50) (2nd-level spell at caster level 10) (300 gp/charge) or a wand of vampiric touch [necro] (PH 298) (3rd-level spell at caster level 20) (900 gp/charge) or a wand of another spell that the Comments will inevitably suggest.

It sounds like you're in a game wherein sources of magic items are restricted. If you aren't, also consider the weapon special ability bloodstone (MIC 29) (+1 bonus), which is like the weapon special ability spell storing that only holds the spell vampiric touch but the touch is modified by the feat Empower Spell (PH 93) for free. Seriously. Then add the weapon special ability power storing (MIC 40) (+1 bonus) if there's a psion available; my unfamiliarity with psionics means I don't know what's best, but there must be something awesome and Eberron is psionics-friendly. Then virtually guarantee your attack hits by adding the weapon special ability impaling (MIC 37) (+1 bonus).

If you are confined to the Dungeon Master's Guide for your weapon, the only other serious choices for damage are the weapon special abilities bane (DMG 224) (+1 bonus), picking whatever the DM's throwing at you a lot, and holy (DMG 225) (+2 bonus) or, y'know, unholy (DMG 226) (+2 bonus) if you're an evil swashbuckler: a lot of your foes will be evil (or good) anyway; punish them for it. If chasing just damage buy the weapon special abilities magebane (CAr 143-4) (+1 bonus) and vampiric (MIC 45) (+2 bonus) if allowed.

The flat +5 damage from the weapon special ability collision (MIC 31) (+2 bonus) is the best you're going to get, but also consider, if it's permitted, the weapon special ability fierce (AE 96) (+2 bonus) that lets the weapon's wielder to take a penalty to his Armor Class up to his Dexterity bonus to add the the penalty's absolute value as a bonus to the weapon's damage.

Although others may disagree, most of the other damaging effects from the DMG and elsewhere inflict energy damage that a high level creature's energy resistance will easily absorb, employ effects high level foes are often immune to (e.g. ability damage and ability drain, critical hits, negative energy effects), or have saving throw DCs that are too low to be viable.

Effects That Don't Inflict Damage, But Take a Look
The weapon special ability dispelling (MIC 33) (+1 bonus) et. al. will make you popular with your group even if you aren't inflicting a lot of damage. The same goes for the weapon special ability revealing (MIC 42) (+1 bonus), which eliminates miss chances for your party; in high-level play miss chances are commonplace, and everyone will thank you even if you hit only once.

The elemental power weapon special abilities from DMG2 254-5 et. al. range from a +1 bonus to a +4 bonus and permit summoning of an elemental of increasing size based on the bonus purchased. Being an elemental-summoning swashbuckler may sound strange, but the value of minions with cool powers can't be overstated--ask any necromancer.

I don't like abilities that allow saving throws nor do I like abilities relying on critical hits, but the weapon special ability prismatic burst (MIC 40) (30,000 gp) is an exception to both. The flat cost means it's possible to add it to a weapon that's already full of other bonuses. The weapon special ability sending (LE 152) (+4 bonus) is also valuable, despite only activating on a natural 20 and a successful critical roll; a no-saving-throw teleport effect versus a high-level foe is more likely to remove him from battle than almost any other effect, although by the time this is avaialable most foes should have a way of returning to the battlefield shortly.

I've not heard of a DM actually allowing the weapon special ability smoking (LD 180) (+1 bonus), but I suggest it because it exists. It's a defensive ability, but a spectactular one, and defensive abilities keep you alive long enough to use offensive abilities. The weapon special ability spellblade (PG 120) (6,000 gp) is just as cool; pick a targeted spell the DM loves, ignore it, and even huck it back at the caster.

The weapon special ability Keeper's fang (ECS 266) (+4 bonus) renders creatures you kill with the weapon unable to return from the dead via the spells "resurrection, raise dead, reincarnate, or similar effects"; the weapon becomes evil and makes you look like a jerk to some folks, but this is such a powerful ability in any typical Dungeons and Dragons campaign that its utility can't be ignored.

Don't Neglect Accessories!
A broken weapon made from aurorum (BE 38) (+4,000 gp) can be made whole as full-round action, but a weapon made from riverine (Sto 128) (+2,000 gp/lb.) is just immune to damage.

A weapon made from morghuth-iron (AE 14) (+4,000 gp) is constantly naturally poisonous, but the poison's saving throw DC is low, the weapon's wielder takes a -1 penalty to attack rolls and damage rolls with the weapon, and many high-level creatures are straight-up immune to poison. This is, however, far cheaper than many effects, and there's no use limit.

A weapon with the template pitspawned (DMG2 278) (+1,000 gp; 0 lbs.) grants the wielder a +2 bonus to critical rolls.

A wand chamber (Du 34) (100 gp; 0 lbs.) is a space in the weapon for a wand which can be used without drawing the wand; perfect if you've ranks in the Use Magic Device skill. A hilt hollow (Du 33) (300 gp; 0 lbs.) is a space in the weapon for a potion which must be extracted but it's easier than normal. Get both. An oil chamber (Du 33-4) (1,000 gp; 0 lbs.) is expensive, but can hold an oil of greater magic weapon [trans] (PH 251-2) (3rd-level spell at caster level 20) (DMG 230) (3,000 gp; 0.1 lbs.) or ghostoil (AE 34) (50 gp; 1 lb.). A triple weapon capsule retainer (CAd 121-2) (450 gp; 0 lbs.) holds 3 alchemical weapon capsules (CAd 122), which do everything from more damage to silvering your weapon on the fly.

You'll want a weapon with at least a +3 enhancement bonus (not just a +1 weapon with at least 1 additional +2 bonus or 2 additional +1 bonus weapon special abilities!) if planning to attach the most powerful augment crystals (MIC 221). Start with the crystal of return (least) (MIC 65) (300 gp; 0 lbs.) now if you've not the feat Quick Draw (PH 98) or another way to draw a weapon as a free action. Purchase more augment crystals as needed for the campaign.

Suggestions
All bets are off if the campaign allows more sources than these.

  • A +1 bane (humans) holy spell-storing adamantine rapier (53,320 gp; 3 lbs.) if you can only use the Dungeon Master's Guide.
  • A +1 bloodstone collision dispelling impaling power-storing prismatic burst spell-storing vampiric adamantine rapier (233,320 gp; 3 lbs.) if you can use the Dungeon Master's Guide and the Magic Items Compendium. Perspective: This weapon costs over 2.25 tons of gold.
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Wow that's a lot of info, thanks a lot \o/. I am going to read carefully. The suggestion about seduce to learn secret is brilliant, I am favored in house, and have two levels of "dragonmark heir", and already alot of diplomacy and bluff, but unfortunately only CHA 10. As for allowed rulebooks, the DM forbids other universes and too cheated rulebooks like "sword and fist", "dragonlance", "tome of battle", but allows regular suplementals like "complete warrior" or "complete scoundrel" and "magic compendium" –  Epeedefeu Mar 3 at 22:26
    
Seduce to learn secret and fierce have been accepted by my GM. Thank you very much. –  Epeedefeu Mar 21 at 9:18

The most useful rapier enchantment is Keen. A rapier alteady has a good critical chance and doubling it is really advantageous. This allows you to deal double damage against most creatures - conveniently, it's the ones you can apply your precision damage to.
(As @KRyan reminds me, since Keen is a +1 enhancement, a Scabbard of Keen Edges is way more convenient on a heavily enchanted weapon.)

Other good enchantments to go for if you want to follow this strategy are ones that give you a flat amount of damage, like Collision.

If you plan on charging a lot and if you can sneak in (I mean, ask your DM!) a 3.0, Forgotten Realms enchantment, Shining South has the Valorous weapon enchantment, doubling your damage on a charge.

I also found some other good options here. It was nice noticing how their first three ideas were also mine. Their list includes:

  • Enfeebling (Strenght damage on a critical) [Book of Vile Darkness]
  • Sudden Stunning (Stun chance that scales with charisma and level [PH2]
  • Brilliant Energy (Again, useless against Construccts and Undead but... you're already uneffective against them)
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Remember though that the Improved Critical feat and Keen don't stack, so you need to decide which way you're going - whether weapon enchants being way more expensive is important or having a spare feat is important. –  mxyzplk Mar 3 at 13:30
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A scabbard of keen edges, at high level, is cheaper than keen. Specifically, it's cheaper than adding keen to a +4-equivalent weapon. A feat should probably be worth more than 16k if you're choosing feats wisely. –  KRyan Mar 3 at 13:35
    
@mxyzplk I avoided mentioning that option because the querent is looking for items that help him increase his damage output while leaving his feat slots free. –  Zachiel Mar 3 at 14:06
    
Unfortunately I am pretty sure my DM will never allow imports from other universes like forgotten realms or psionnics, since we already benefit from the specificities of eberron. I will check the other things later since it is mostly NSFW content. As for improved critical I already considered taking it, but I think I will better follow KRyan suggestion and keep my feat for something else. Anyway thanks for suggesting. –  Epeedefeu Mar 3 at 14:23

Well...

The thing about this is that most weapon enchantments are chosen in an effort to improve a weapon's utility, not its damage. If you just wanna add damage on, then your +1's are gonna be the kings of the day - screaming and caustic deserve a particular mention for being difficult to resist. They don't multiply on a critical hit, but as odd as this is going to sound to say, rapiers aren't all that great for crit-fishing.

Beyond elemental damage, a scabbard of keen edges will help you get critical hits more often (though, again, you're not a dedicated crit fisher so don't break the bank trying). Consider an alignment enhancement if you commonly fight enemies of a specific alignment or subtype - anarchic if you usually fight drow and demons, for example. The force enhancement will help with pesky DR issues as well.

For utility, it's hard to beat the combo of eager and warning, which cap out at a whopping +7 to your initiative, +2 damage in the first round of combat, and a free quick draw.

You should also check out the weapon crystals found in Magic Item Compendium; they're sort-of-enhancements that don't take up an enhancement slot!

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Yeah I am looking for improving utility as well, but improving damage is the main goal. For example I was considering effects that add 1D6 fire damage, but I will take a look at all your suggestions. As for the alignment option, I can't tell for the moment because the campaign has not really started: there is indeed a mainstream, but until now that was more like a succession of non directly related one shots. –  Epeedefeu Mar 3 at 14:37

Get specialized weapons for the enemies you're fighting. If you fight lots of evil outsiders and undead, for example, the "Sacred" weapon quality will be very good for you. If you fight lots of orcs, get an orc bane weapon. If you fight lots of golems, get an admantine rapier with construct bane. Bane weapons increase the enhancement bonus of the weapon by two, and give an extra 2d6 damage if the enemy is right.

You can alternatively invest in weapon crystals per Magic Item Compendium. Many of them offer situational damage boosts or other great perks, like life keeping.

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In a campaign iv'e played i had a swashbuckler that was all about skills related to acrobatics (tumble, jump etc.).

As a consequence I found myself facing the same problem. Because role-playing-wise it was built heavily on strength of purpose and rascal-ish righteousness (chaotic good). I found my answer in Weapons of Legacy and role played his rapier getting buffs in the form of extra damage dice, bonuses to intelligence, and intimidation rolls (related to his characteristics and alignment) scaling up with his level.

Because the swashbuckler is a class with a lot of personality this seems to me to be your best option for dealing decent damage while keeping the flair of the iconic rapier on par with the rest of the party.

Also once you reach the requirement Improved Critical is extremely useful as a rapier's critical range is already 18-20.

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