Dark Sun question on Tortoise Blade and Gauntlet Axe

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From the Dark Sun Campaign Setting, the new weapons include the Tortoise Blade and the Gauntlet Axe. The text on Gauntlet Axe reads that it can be used as a light shield, but the rest of the wording is quite different: Tortoise Blade says that it can be a magic weapon or a magic shield, but not both, while Gauntlet Axe reads magic weapon or arms slot item. 

Q. What's the difference between these two items? Are any of these typos? Can the Gauntlet Axe really be used as a shield? If so, why would you ever use a Tortoise Shield when Gauntlet Axe is superior in every way? 
The same reason why there're dozens of different weapons.  Not everyone tries to optimize, some people pick stuff for fun or flavor.  As for the wording?  Probably just a good.  Shields take up an arm slot, so saying the Tortoise Blade is either a weapon or shield is the same thing as the Gauntlet Axe being a shield that can be either a weapon or arm slot.

But as for why the Tortoise Blade is either or?  Its the same as the spiked shield.  It can either be enchanted like a weapon, or like a shield but you can say enchant the TB with Jagged Weapon enchantment and Floating Shield enchantment.  Again, those are just off the top of my head examples.
I think the text about the gauntlet axe being useable as a light shield is a typo.  However, it does have the Defensive property, so it gives you a +1 to AC when used in conjunction with another weapon.

Even if it isn't a typo, classes like the rogue would favor the tortoise blade over the gauntlet axe since it's a light blade.
Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf

I am thinking that the gauntlet axe will not be able to count as a shield. The "counts as arms slot item" just refers to magical arm slot items that might give it a properties of those. For instance, it could count as iron armbands of power, while still being a gauntlet axe weapon. You would not have any enchantment bonus on it, but with the inherent bonus system it does not matter too much. You'd effectively have a back-up weapon in your arms slot, and get to use the slot for the regular purpose too.

It will become clear when the CB is updated, but I think it will just happen that you can choose the gauntlet axe magic item from either arms slot list, or weapon list. Mundane shield properties would then not be selectable.

I am thinking that the gauntlet axe will not be able to count as a shield. The "counts as arms slot item" just refers to magical arm slot items that might give it a properties of those. For instance, it could count as iron armbands of power, while still being a gauntlet axe weapon. You would not have any enchantment bonus on it, but with the inherent bonus system it does not matter too much. You'd effectively have a back-up weapon in your arms slot, and get to use the slot for the regular purpose too.

It will become clear when the CB is updated, but I think it will just happen that you can choose the gauntlet axe magic item from either arms slot list, or weapon list. Mundane shield properties would then not be selectable.


Well isn't that just weird. 



Okay, looking this over, RAW is actually clear...if poorly written and confusing at first.


* They both can be used as light shields, and shield feats can be used with either of them when used that way; but you cannot both attack with the weapon and use it as a shield in the same round.

* The gauntlet axe, but not the tortoise blade, gives a +1 to AC when wielded along with another melee weapon. When used this way, however, it is not a shield and shield feats cannot be used with it.

* The gauntlet axe is strictly superior to the tortoise blade in every way except price. This is irritating, as I think the tortoise blade is pretty cool. Somehow I think this is contrary to the designers' intent.


The FAQ makes clear that the gauntlet axe is indeed also a shield.
SyDarkSun, my 4e Dark Sun campaign
The gauntlet axe is probably the single rules item that is least clear on how it works, and most in need of clarification, with the possible exception of the multiple vulnerable/resist interactions.

In short, how it works and what it does is entirely up to the DM, the rules simply don't cope with it.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
The gauntlet axe is probably the single rules item that is least clear on how it works, and most in need of clarification, with the possible exception of the multiple vulnerable/resist interactions.

In short, how it works and what it does is entirely up to the DM, the rules simply don't cope with it.

How is what I said not the correct thing by RAW?
SyDarkSun, my 4e Dark Sun campaign
It doesn't say you can't use it as a shield and attack in the same round.

It doesn't say it loses its light shield property when you use it alongside another melee weapon, nor that you can't use it as a light shield whilst holding another melee weapon in that hand.

I can't really argue with its superiority over the tortoise blade, but price is irrelevant past first level, because magic weapons ignore the item's base price entirely.

Furthermore, it doesn't say whether you have to be proficient in light shields to use it as such.  Nor, indeed, is the question of whether characters proficienct with light shield can wear it as a shield and keep their hand free, which is certainly implied, and is without penalty unless you actually want to use it as a weapon, and makes it superior to a normal light shield clarified - you don't take any penalties for not being proficient with it as a weapon if you don't try to hit anybody with it.  It doesn't say how, or indeed if, you can leave the hand free whilst enchanting it as a weapon.  Defensive does stack with its properties as a Light Shield, but probably isn't intended to.  What happens if you enchant it with a Light Shield enchantment that functions as a weapon? 

Overall, I suspect that the person who wrote it didn't intend that the mention of shields in the item's text be intended to refer to the item "Light Shield", merely to supply flavour for the item having the Defensive property.

You can interpret it how you want, but it's very difficult to provide a canon interpretation for it, because the rules for it are unclear.  You have to read a lot of rules which aren't there in order to make any sense out of it, and even then, it doesn't make an awful lot of sense.

It's in dire need of clarification.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
It doesn't say you can't use it as a shield and attack in the same round.

p. 214, PHB: "you can’t use your shield hand to make attacks."

It doesn't say it loses its light shield property when you use it alongside another melee weapon, nor that you can't use it as a light shield whilst holding another melee weapon in that hand.

See above.

I can't really argue with its superiority over the tortoise blade, but price is irrelevant past first level, because magic weapons ignore the item's base price entirely.

Dark Sun characters rarely get magic items that quickly.

Furthermore, it doesn't say whether you have to be proficient in light shields to use it as such.

PHB p. 213-14: "If you're not proficient with a shield, you don't gain the shield bonus to your AC or Reflex defense."

Nor, indeed, is the question of whether characters proficienct with light shield can wear it as a shield and keep their hand free

DSCS FAQ:"You would be able to grab with a hand equipped with a gauntlet axe"

, which is certainly implied, and is without penalty unless you actually want to use it as a weapon

I'm not sure what you mean by that.

, and makes it superior to a normal light shield clarified - you don't take any penalties for not being proficient with it as a weapon if you don't try to hit anybody with it.

I don't understand what that means either. You don't take any penalties for not being proficient with a rock until you try to hit someone with it either.
 
It doesn't say how, or indeed if, you can leave the hand free whilst enchanting it as a weapon.

Why would you be wearing it while you were enchanting it? Or have I mistaken your meaning?

Defensive does stack with its properties as a Light Shield

Says who? What's your logic for this?

, but probably isn't intended to.  What happens if you enchant it with a Light Shield enchantment that functions as a weapon?

That goes beyond my diagnosis  

Overall, I suspect that the person who wrote it didn't intend that the mention of shields in the item's text be intended to refer to the item "Light Shield", merely to supply flavour for the item having the Defensive property.

I think you're right there. It is very sloppy. But I don't think it's ambiguous, even though I don't believe that the mechanics as presented are the mechanics intended. Getting rid of the "light shield" bit would fix the problem, I think.

It's in dire need of clarification.

True that.

SyDarkSun, my 4e Dark Sun campaign
It is extremely ambiguous, and the FAQ raised more questions than it solved (So it leaves the hand free, but not for the purpose of Swordmages or Brawler bonuses? Huh?). A search of the forums will quickly show you how poorly written it is. Most people on CharOp won't touch it, as it is too dependent on DM interpretation to really build around.

Trying to claim that the item is sloppy, but the rules are clear is an... ambitious stance to take. The rules simply don't cover the multitude of lines that the Gauntlet Axe crosses and doesn't explain.
It doesn't say you can't use it as a shield and attack in the same round.

p. 214, PHB: "you can’t use your shield hand to make attacks."
It's not a shield.  And it explicitly says your hand is free, where a light shield specifies that it's free only to hold objects, not to wield them.

It doesn't say it loses its light shield property when you use it alongside another melee weapon, nor that you can't use it as a light shield whilst holding another melee weapon in that hand.

See above.

I can't really argue with its superiority over the tortoise blade, but price is irrelevant past first level, because magic weapons ignore the item's base price entirely.

Dark Sun characters rarely get magic items that quickly.

Furthermore, it doesn't say whether you have to be proficient in light shields to use it as such.

PHB p. 213-14: "If you're not proficient with a shield, you don't gain the shield bonus to your AC or Reflex defense."

Nor, indeed, is the question of whether characters proficienct with light shield can wear it as a shield and keep their hand free

DSCS FAQ:"You would be able to grab with a hand equipped with a gauntlet axe"
But can you wield a 2-handed weapon whilst wielding a gauntlet axe?  Can you wield an off-hand weapon whilst wielding a gauntlet axe?  Does it make a difference whether you're using it as a shield or as a weapon or both?  If your hand is free to grab, it's free to wield weapons, which as you mention above conflicts with the usual definition of light shields - but the GA isn't a light shield so...

, which is certainly implied, and is without penalty unless you actually want to use it as a weapon

I'm not sure what you mean by that.

, and makes it superior to a normal light shield clarified - you don't take any penalties for not being proficient with it as a weapon if you don't try to hit anybody with it.

I don't understand what that means either. You don't take any penalties for not being proficient with a rock until you try to hit someone with it either.
Can you use a GA as a shield if you're not proficient with it as a weapon, is the main question.  It's superior to a normal light shield because it explicitly leaves your hand free.
 
It doesn't say how, or indeed if, you can leave the hand free whilst enchanting it as a weapon.

Why would you be wearing it while you were enchanting it? Or have I mistaken your meaning?
Can you use a GA enchanted as a weapon and keep a free hand?

Defensive does stack with its properties as a Light Shield

Says who? What's your logic for this?
Nothing says it doesn't, and Defensive's bonus to AC is untyped, where a light shield provides a shield bonus.  There's nothing to indicate it's not supposed to stack, and it does by the normal bonus-stacking rules.

, but probably isn't intended to.  What happens if you enchant it with a Light Shield enchantment that functions as a weapon?

That goes beyond my diagnosis  

Overall, I suspect that the person who wrote it didn't intend that the mention of shields in the item's text be intended to refer to the item "Light Shield", merely to supply flavour for the item having the Defensive property.

I think you're right there. It is very sloppy. But I don't think it's ambiguous, even though I don't believe that the mechanics as presented are the mechanics intended. Getting rid of the "light shield" bit would fix the problem, I think.

It's in dire need of clarification.

True that.



Yeah.  I think I'd disagree that it's not ambiguous.  There simply aren't clear rules to support 'weapon that counts as light shield, can be enchanted as arms slot, and leaves hand free for grabbing (and therefore weapon wielding)'.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
Here's the best we could come up with in our little circle:

A Gauntlet Axe counts as a melee weapon in that hand.

You can choose to forgo having the weapon in that hand to instead use it as a base light shield, switching back and forth whenever you want as a minor action. It can benefit from either axe feats or shield feats depending on "mode", but not both at once.

The hand is free to maniuplate or grab objects - this includes making a grab attack on an enemy - but not to pick up and wield them (i.e. you could pull a lever on a wall, but you couldn't have the gauntlet axe in off-hand AND carry a handaxe in the same one)

The whole "enchanted as arms slot item" is basically ignored, since if you're going to have Iron Armbands of Power, you're just going to have the IAP. As near as we can tell this basically just makes a loophole for a character that needs one hand free (certain Fighter builds spring to mind) to also randomly have an unenchanted off-hand weapon when he wants.
It got errated this month, it no longer counts as a light shield.

So that's one of the problems sorted.  Now there's only things like defensive working on weapons that are wielded in hand, which this isn't.  Or is.  Maybe.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
I prefer the tortoise blade. Get the rhythm enchantment on it and you have normal shield which you can attack with. Great for fighters who want the double marking from dual strike and do not want to give up there shield bonus.
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