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GemStone IV Combat Reference Guide

Defenses and Enhancements

Armor Damage Padding Sanctification
Shield Enchanting Critical Weighting
Enhancement Spells Resistances Damage Weighting
Defense Bonus Items Flares Enhancives
Critical Padding Blessings  


A wise adventurer dons armor whenever he or she is in a place with the potential for danger. The amount of armor one wears generally varies by profession: Wizards and Sorcerers will often wear lighter armors like robes and simpler leathers, so as not to hinder their spellcasting, whereas Warriors and Rogues often wear full sets of plate armor with numerous accessories. Generally, only the chestpiece of an armor set will enhance a character's defensive strength if it carries a bonus. All other accessories, such as coifs, bracers, and greaves are intended to protect specific areas of the body.

Remember that armor will not prevent a character from being hit, but it can drastically reduce wound severity and the damage incurred from being hit.


Shields come in four sizes: small, medium, large, and tower. The heaviness of a shield will hinder one's ability to dodge an enemy's attacks, but allows them to be blocked. How much dodge is hindered and how well blocks are executed depends on the size of the shield: smaller shields are better used in combination with dodging, and larger shields eschew evasion more completely in favor of blocking. Shields also provide a defensive bonus that can be increased by enchanting them.

Enhancement Spells

Spells are often used to augment defenses or offenses. The Major Elemental spell Strength will allow for stronger physical attacks, and the Paladin spell Divine Shield will increase ability to block enemy attacks. Some Enhancement spells have a balancing negative effect: for example, Spirit Barrier, a Minor Spiritual spell, will increase defense but make it more difficult for its target to score physical hits against foes.

Defense Bonus Items

Some seemingly innocuous items, generally sold only in extremely rare circumstances, have the magical ability to bolster the defenses of their wearer. These Defense Bonus items are highly coveted and generally owned only by the very wealthy.

Critical Padding

Some merchants have the ability to place padding into armor that decreases the severity of wounds inflicted against the wearer. Sufficient critical padding can reduce what would have been a life-threatening injury into little more than a scratch. Armor cannot be both critically and damage padded.

Damage Padding

Damage padding is a service provided by some merchants that decreases the initial amount of health lost when a padded armor's wearer is attacked. This does not affect the severity of the wound; only how much damage is initially taken. Armor cannot be both critically and damage padded.


Enchanting is a process used by Wizards and some merchants for lending extra strength to a weapon, shield, or armor. This will cause a weapon to hit harder (by increasing Attack Strength bonus) or a shield or armor to protect more effectively (by increasing Defense Strength bonus). Magical metal items generally carry an innate bonus similar to enchantment. There is a cap on the total bonus an item can maintain, a total of +50 bonus between any innate or magically added enchants.

Each successful enchantment adds +5 to an item's bonus.


Some armor can be treated by Rangers or merchants in such a way that they provide resistance against various forms of elemental damage. The process requires potions crafted from special plants, each unique to a resistance type. Resistance can only be added to leather and cloth armors, as sturdier armors are immune to the magics involved. Resistance is not permanent and eventually fails.


Flaring weapons occasionally release a potent, damaging charge on impact. Many flares are elemental, but other, more unusual flares of poisonous material, void magic, and plasma do exist. Some metals, such as drakar and rhimar, have innate flares, but other metals may also be imbued with the ability. Feras and drake weapons, two special classes, hold no magical bonus but are also known to flare occasionally.


As the undead are immune to standard forms of attack, it is necessary to purify worldly weapons with a blessing that will allow them to harm unliving foes. Several methods of blessing exist, generally stemming from the Arkati: Voln members can use their Symbols to instill holy power into a weapon and Clerics can use spells to bless.


Sanctified weapons are attuned to the faithful, and remain permanently blessed in the hands of a Cleric or Paladin. There are a few weapons of such power that they remain permanently blessed no matter the hand that holds them.

Critical Weighting

Critical weighting is an enhancement generally applied to weapons by merchants. Critically weighted weapons cause deeper wounds than would a normal weapon wielded by a user of similar strength.

Damage Weighting

Damage weighting is a service provided by merchants that enhances the damage done by a weapon. A damage-weighted weapon will cause more initial health to be lost at the time of impact.


Some items are charmed so as to enhance certain attributes or skills of their bearers. These can significantly change the course of a fight. A fighter reaping the benefits of a Strength enhancive will, for example, swing harder, whereas a character with a Shield Use enhancive will defend a bit better with a shield.

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