New to PFS: Cold Iron or Adamantine?


Pathfinder Society

The Exchange

Hello. I'm fairly new to PSF, and have just gotten to level 4. So now I've got enough gold to buy a magic weapon. I'm a Dwarven fighter with a shield, so I'm thinking a Dwarven waraxe for the damage.

I've been told its a good idea to choose a special material before enchanting a weapon. I'm just not sure which is more useful; Adamantine or Cold Iron.
I know adamantine is good for breaking things but I don't really understand what cold iron does.

I've got about 7000 gold to spend so I think I can do either. I'd appreciate any input or advice on enchantments as well. Thank you in advance.

3/5

It does depend to an extent on what scenarios you think you will be playing. If you're going to be playing alot of season 5, which has alot of demons, cold iron will serve you well. Season 6 has robots and mechanical enemies, so adamantine will serve you better in those scenarios. Adamantine also has the advantage of bypassing hardness, so if all else fails, you can use it as an improvised... 'lockpick'.

More generally, weapons with a +3 enhancement bonus or more will bypass DR as if they were silver or cold iron, so a +3 adamantine weapon will serve as quite a reliable (and sturdy) main weapon for general use.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

Adamantine. You can pick up a non-masterwork backup for the times you need cold iron until you reach +3 enhancement on your adamantine one.

Dark Archive

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Or you could save some coin by wielding the Halfling as an improvised weapon, find another and you get a bonus to dual-wielding as long as you're Chelaxian.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

+3 is a pretty great end goal when it comes to weapons. Particularily if you're incapable of buying your weapon in a special material flavor(like a shield or greatclub) or doing so would cost too much.

1/5

Adamantine all the way.

Sczarni 5/5 ⦵⦵

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Starfinder Charter Superscriber

If you enchant your weapon to +3, it will overcome DR/Silver and DR/Cold Iron.
If you enchant it to +4, it will then also overcome DR/Adamantine (but not hardness).
And if you enchant it to +5, it will also overcome DR/[alignment].

Given that a +4 weapon is rather expensive, and generally only available to high level PFS characters, many people will offer the advice to purchase an Adamantine weapon and enchant it to +3. Then, if you encounter something with DR/[alignment], hopefully a friendly spellcaster will have a trick for overcoming that.

Purchasing a weapon in this way frees up more cash for other purchases earlier, and you'll feel more effective at lower levels. Also, some encounters include monsters that might deal damage to your weapon, and if it's made of Adamantine then you won't risk losing your primary source of damage dealing.

Another alternative would be to simply carry around a backup ranged weapon, if your Dexterity is sufficiently high enough to make it worth your while, and load it with Adamantine-blanched ammunition (or just Adamantine ammunition). Doing this is cheaper still than dropping 3000gp on a melee weapon.

So there's quite a bit to consider. 3000gp is a chunk of change at any level.

Scarab Sages

Cold iron is mostly for bypassing the DR of certain enemies, often Fey.

Your character may also have a specific theme where certain materials are unfluffy, though this is purely a roleplaying issue.

Adamantine is both more durable and better for bypassing hardness. Though that said, if you don't use the sunder maneuver, the bypassing of hardness is less important. The durability is useful and not to be overlooked, but again, mainly relates to the use of sunder and some attack spells.

Though if your fighter is specialized in a particular weapon, I would consider getting a back up version of that same weapon that isn't made of metal, for the rare encounters with enemies that have bonuses against metal weapons (like some druid spells and rust monsters).

Liberty's Edge

Getting around DR/ adamantine is the most difficult without dedicating your primary weapon to it. Cold Iron and silver weapons are cheap, cheap enough to keep some back up weapons. Oils of bless weapon are also cheap, and allow you to bypass DR/good. DR/lawful,evil, and chaotic are harder to get around, but a scroll of align weapon and a friendly caster should do. The only similar option for adamantine is weapon blanches, which really only work well with arrows.

So go adamantine, but pick up some back up weapons, possibly with other damage types like piercing and bludgeoning, that way you should be set for anything that isn't DR/piercing and silver, or the like.

Scarab Sages

Oh, in terms of material debates, the main tough call for any character is Mithral vs adamantine. Mithral is mostly worse than adamantine, but it weighs less. Even a fighter can appeciate lighter gear.

Depending on your strength and the weight of your other gear, you may want to take Mithral instead of Adamantine.

Liberty's Edge

Murdock Mudeater wrote:
Though if your fighter is specialized in a particular weapon, I would consider getting a back up version of that same weapon that isn't made of metal, for the rare encounters with enemies that have bonuses against metal weapons (like some druid spells and rust monsters).

This is good advice, if you're wearing stoneplate. If not, you probably want to use your back up cold iron waraxe so that the rust monster has another target instead of your precious armor. I mean, better losing the 60 gold for the back up weapon than losing the 1650 you spent on full plate.


Adamantine because Stoneskin is common; lots of Aspis bosses have it up. Plus magic-immune golems need a warrior with adamantine to step up.

Cheap weapons + magical oils/scrolls will get you past other DR.
An adamantine weapon cannot be a cheap backup (and I doubt your Dwarf does ranged well enough & fast enough for ammo to be worthwhile).

Scarab Sages

Castilliano wrote:

Adamantine because Stoneskin is common; lots of Aspis bosses have it up. Plus magic-immune golems need a warrior with adamantine to step up.

Cheap weapons + magical oils/scrolls will get you past other DR.
An adamantine weapon cannot be a cheap backup (and I doubt your Dwarf does ranged well enough & fast enough for ammo to be worthwhile).

Regarding adamantine's ability to penetrate harness, it ignores harness 20 or less, but doesn't ignore any of hardness 21 or more. This means that a sunder focused character may not actually gain any benefit from adamantine. It also means that magic armor made of adamantine won't have their hardness reduced when attacked by adamantine weapons (since magic weapons have improved hardness)

For armor, I'm a huge fan of Dragonhide. It's not really any more durable than normal armor, but not being made of wood or metal is a very impressive boon. The armor itself does have immunity to one elemental damage type, which has limited uses as the wearer isn't granted any special immunity, but is neat if the party has an elemental theme.

Though, I really just like modelling Dragonhide, as I get tired of normal armor colors on my miniatures.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Point of order, adamantine ignores hardness less than 20. So 19 and below. Adamantine does not overcome adamantine, naturally. Your best defense against adamantine is getting enough enhancements to boost hardness past 19. (My paladin was just shy of it on his mithral breastplate when he ran afoul of a sunder specialist.)

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Black dragon hide = say no to black pudding shenanigans.

Yes, I only now just realised this.

Personally I'm on the fence about adamantine primary weapons. Maybe if you'd specialize in blunt weapons anyway. I find clay golems abhorrent and outfit everyone I can with anti-clay golem gear. I digress, elysian bronze, horacalcum, viridium are pretty nice alternatives to adamantine I've started to use.

Anecdote: Dat priceless feeling when decked in horacalcum, adamantine and mithril and three rust monsters come screaming down the dungeon hallway.


adamantine is a useful tool for chewing up things with hardness.

I am not a fan of cold iron as it is only for dr and has a 1k tax for enchanting.

5/5 Venture-Agent, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Azothath

you should have both.

buy a MW cold iron weapon. This should be your main weapon or something you are proficient with like a gladius or morningstar. Cold iron is the preferred material for ammunition followed by weapon blanch of another type. Durable is also good. Do not magically enhance the items due to the prohibitive cost unless your character design goes that way. You may want this weapon to be of a different damage type than your main weapon to cover the B/P/S spectrum...

When you have the cash buy a MW adamantine weapon or mithral weapon. Some players have a preference based on their character design. Each has their benefits but adamantine is more useful in general. This is the weapon you are going to magically enhance.

I find having cheap weapons (quarterstaff, wooden stakes (cost of 0)) or a resistant weapon like a MW obsidian weapon takes care of the "I'm gonna dissolve your weapon" tricks and is more cost effective than other methods.

buy once, never sell.

Grand Lodge 3/5 Venture-Agent, Washington—Bellevue aka Divvox2

After a few levels (when I get the prestige), for my melee focused characters I will often follow Stephen Ross's approach: Primary is adamantine, and I have a masterwork cold iron and silvered weapon.

For my most focused melee characters, I drop the cash for a +3 weapon and just have the one, though I keep the others anyway because having a weapon to fall back on is always a good choice (sticky/adhesive qualities on monsters, or weapon damaging traits, are things that exist in PFS). I also make sure I have a one-handed weapon on hand. Either to hand out to some NPC mook who wants to help or in case I get grappled and can't get out easily.

Dark Archive

Sam King wrote:

Primary is adamantine, and I have a masterwork cold iron and silvered weapon.

According to UE weapons made of mithral are considered to be masterwork so you don't have to worry about getting them made that way, unfortunately cold iron ones don't count and you still have to dish out the gold, le sigh.

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

Mithral is priced by weight, so I often pick up a mithral cestus or dagger as a backup weapon as well.

I've yet to run into an enemy with gear so enchanted that its hardness exceeds 19. It's theoretically possible but I've just never seen it happen. So adamantine is reliable.

Cold iron is cheap. Having a cold iron or masterwork cold iron weapon is just an easy precaution. And there's little reason to ever buy ordinary iron ammunition given how cheap it is to have it cold instead.

Keep in mind that the "A +X or better enchantment penetrates DR /Y" thing only applies to DR. Not to Hardness and not to regeneration. A proper warrior carries some actual weapons on the off chance.

5/5

I find that there is no real reason not to make your early weapons, even non masterwork starting stuff, cold iron. The cost is minimal.

Later on I look to invest in an adamantine weapon over enchanting cold iron ones because hardness is annoying and you can enchant it to be effectively cold iron or silver in any event.

Scarab Sages

Lau Bannenberg wrote:

I've yet to run into an enemy with gear so enchanted that its hardness exceeds 19. It's theoretically possible but I've just never seen it happen. So adamantine is reliable.

Steel is hardness 10. Each +1 of magical enhancement adds +2 hardness. So a +5 steel weapon is hardness 20.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Mithral is 15, so +3 mithral does it.

Dark Archive

I asked this in another thread but would like some more input, if I get a +3 adamantine gun, will it penetrate hardness 20, DR magic/adamantine/silver/cold iron, and hit incorporeal creatures if I use bullets made out of mundane materials?

Scarab Sages

Don't think special materials are conferred to ammunition. Also, as already corrected, adamantine is hardness less than 20, so 19 or less.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Lord Laird Bates wrote:
I asked this in another thread but would like some more input, if I get a +3 adamantine gun, will it penetrate

hardness 20: Only if you beat someone with the barrel. Otherwise, no.

DR magic: yes. the +3 transfers to your weapon

adamantine: No. +3 transfers to your weapon, the adamantine does not, again, unless you beat someone with the barrel.

/silver/cold iron, and hit incorporeal creatures if I use bullets made out of mundane materials?: Yes, Because the +3 transfers to the bullet.

Dark Archive

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Lord Laird Bates wrote:
I asked this in another thread but would like some more input, if I get a +3 adamantine gun, will it penetrate

hardness 20: Only if you beat someone with the barrel. Otherwise, no.

DR magic: yes. the +3 transfers to your weapon

adamantine: No. +3 transfers to your weapon, the adamantine does not, again, unless you beat someone with the barrel.

/silver/cold iron, and hit incorporeal creatures if I use bullets made out of mundane materials?: Yes, Because the +3 transfers to the bullet.

Guess I'll just have it made out of mithral then, thanks for the help.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Lord Laird Bates wrote:
]Guess I'll just have it made out of mithral then, thanks for the help.

You know mithrils going to hit he same problems right? The silver quality doesn't transfer (it would be lighter though...)


I do not understand this question.

Cold iron is so cheap I usually purchase a cold iron morningstar out of initial funds 16 gold....

Adamantine is so expensive I have never had this quandry...

Dark Archive

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Lord Laird Bates wrote:
]Guess I'll just have it made out of mithral then, thanks for the help.
You know mithrils going to hit he same problems right? The silver quality doesn't transfer (it would be lighter though...)

Yes I was going for it being cheaper not for the silver vulnerability.

Edit: lighter not cheaper, though it is that too.

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

Murdock Mudeater wrote:
Lau Bannenberg wrote:

I've yet to run into an enemy with gear so enchanted that its hardness exceeds 19. It's theoretically possible but I've just never seen it happen. So adamantine is reliable.

Steel is hardness 10. Each +1 of magical enhancement adds +2 hardness. So a +5 steel weapon is hardness 20.
Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
Mithral is 15, so +3 mithral does it.

I know it can be done, but I've never actually seen it happen.

5/5

Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
Mithral is 15, so +3 mithral does it.

Only for items which are made entirely or almost entirely out of the special material. Guns and swords might make it past 20 but most other things see no benefit to their hardness.

A mithril longspear is still going to be hardness 5.


People have mentioned sundering as a tactic. My -1 is a sunder specialist and never once ran into an encounter where it was possible to sunder but couldn't bypass the hardness. Of course, he's only 13.2, but +5 steel or +3 mithral items are incredibly uncommon.

I will echo what everyone else has mentioned, Adamantine is the better option for a main weapon (IE one you intend to enchant).


Drogos wrote:
I will echo what everyone else has mentioned, Adamantine is the better option for a main weapon (IE one you intend to enchant).

Is it really worth it though?

Is it worth holding off on upgrading your main weapon at all until you've got 3000gp to spare? And another 2K to start enchanting it.


thejeff wrote:
Drogos wrote:
I will echo what everyone else has mentioned, Adamantine is the better option for a main weapon (IE one you intend to enchant).

Is it really worth it though?

Is it worth holding off on upgrading your main weapon at all until you've got 3000gp to spare? And another 2K to start enchanting it.

Golems show up pretty commonly in higher levels and the vast majority are only adamantine to bypass. But the question at hand was very specific about whether to get Cold Iron or Adamantine as a main weapon. In that case, the best option is Adamantine. I also think Adamantine is pretty much the first purchase for the character who's job it is to hit things with the pointy end. Magic only DR doesn't typically show up until you're out of 1-5 range and after that point you are typically well on your way to affording both things. Getting to a +4 weapon is MUCH more expensive than that 3k initial investment. I did the wait on my -1 and it sucked, but in the long run I was incredibly happy with the decision.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Mind if I ask, is there magic item treasure in scenarios, I only ever hear the PFS chatter about items they buy, not find. Just curious. :-)

Grand Lodge 4/5

captain yesterday wrote:
Mind if I ask, is there magic item treasure in scenarios, I only ever hear the PFS chatter about items they buy, not find. Just curious. :-)

There is plenty of treasure, but to ensure a more uniform experience you don't get to keep any of it once the scenario is over. Instead you get money to buy stuff later.

Grand Lodge 3/5 Venture-Agent, Washington—Bellevue aka Divvox2

thejeff wrote:
Drogos wrote:
I will echo what everyone else has mentioned, Adamantine is the better option for a main weapon (IE one you intend to enchant).

Is it really worth it though?

Is it worth holding off on upgrading your main weapon at all until you've got 3000gp to spare? And another 2K to start enchanting it.

I have yet to run into an issue waiting for it. Maybe one or two things will have DR I can't bypass through the first couple levels, so I just hack through it.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Oil of magic weapon or of bless weapon are your friends until that +1.

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

Jeff Merola wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:
Mind if I ask, is there magic item treasure in scenarios, I only ever hear the PFS chatter about items they buy, not find. Just curious. :-)
There is plenty of treasure, but to ensure a more uniform experience you don't get to keep any of it once the scenario is over. Instead you get money to buy stuff later.

To expand on that a bit; you find magic stuff during the scenario and you can use it during the scenario. Afterwards it all goes into the vault and you get money instead, and a note on your track record that you found such and such item.

Later on, you can use that gold to buy stuff, and the note on your record ensures you'll get a chance to buy those items you found even if they're not normally available.

This has some practical advantages; no arguments about how to divide loot among players if there's just one very expensive item in it for example. Or if there's a particular cool unique item that multiple people want, they can all get it later via the track record. Not strictly realistic, but less heartache trumps that.

Scarab Sages

Drogos wrote:
People have mentioned sundering as a tactic. My -1 is a sunder specialist and never once ran into an encounter where it was possible to sunder but couldn't bypass the hardness. Of course, he's only 13.2, but +5 steel or +3 mithral items are incredibly uncommon.

Depends on the table. Many GMs don't like the sunder rules because they require lots of extra calculation, or otherwise create unintended outcomes for a scenario. I've also encountered GMs that won't sunder with NPCs, unless the PCs do it first.


Cold Iron is cheaper, yes. Initially. You do have to pay the +300gp extra for masterwork quality, and the first time you enchant it you have to pay a 2000gp "surtax" due to the "anti-magical" properties of the cold iron. So a +1 adamantine weapon is +5000gp (3k for adamantine, 2k for the +1) a +1 cold iron weapon is +4300 +x (2k for the +1, +2k surtax, +300 for masterwork, +x for double the original item's cost).

So yea, IMO, Adamantine over Cold Iron, non-magical cold iron back up weapons are cheap. Masterwork Transformation is a thing, as is Oil of Magic Weapon.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

captain yesterday wrote:
Mind if I ask, is there magic item treasure in scenarios, I only ever hear the PFS chatter about items they buy, not find. Just curious. :-)

Wow, there’s a lot of stuff on this chronicle, I’m rich!:

Whoa there.

The gold you get from the scenario is on the upper right hand side. This is usually your reward. Just about everything else on the chronicle sheet merely provides access to the item, not the item itself.

It doesn’t matter how much gold you have, the society is not just going to hand anyone a vorpal sword. They’re not going to spend the time and expense of finding, making, or stea.. Acquiring such an item for just anyone either.

You usually acquire access to equipment from the society in 4 ways:

It's on a chronicle sheet. You were the one that brought the item in for study, so you can buy it back once they’re done studying it in between adventures.
It's on the always available list. The society will let any members, including their most junior, buy mundane and alchemical weapons, armor and gear made of normal and special materials (other than dragonhide), alchemical equipment, scrolls and potions of first level spells.
You can spend 1 or 2 pp to buy an item worth up to 300 or 750 gp. Many adventurers use their first two PP to purchase a wand of cure light wounds or infernal healing this way. Even if they can’t cast it themselves, they can hand it to someone who can. This way, you pay for your own healing, even if someone else is operating your wand.
And most importantly, Fame. You can buy any legal item from the society that you meet the fame score for. (See the chart in the guide.) As you adventure your fame grows, and the society is more willing to open their vaults or have their craftsmen make items just for you. This means that if you have a character concept that requires a flaming, shocking, mithril kusarigama you don’t need to pray that you find one on the chronicle, you can get it made. Your purchase limit USUALLY exceeds the amount of gold on hand. While chronicle sheet loot looks very important, in practice only rare items, partially charged wands, and items you can’t normally buy (like an elven cloak of resistance) really matter.

TLDR:

There's a mechanic for buying what you want called fame. The particulars of the mechanic mean you almost always can buy what you want, so being able to "buy" the stuff you find on a chronicle sheet by having it come out of your loot is almost always kind of pointless unless the item is unique, a partially charged wand, or a higher than normal level potion or something weird.


Simon Barrowman wrote:

Hello. I'm fairly new to PSF, and have just gotten to level 4. So now I've got enough gold to buy a magic weapon. I'm a Dwarven fighter with a shield, so I'm thinking a Dwarven waraxe for the damage.

I've been told its a good idea to choose a special material before enchanting a weapon. I'm just not sure which is more useful; Adamantine or Cold Iron.
I know adamantine is good for breaking things but I don't really understand what cold iron does.

I've got about 7000 gold to spend so I think I can do either. I'd appreciate any input or advice on enchantments as well. Thank you in advance.

Why no love for mithral? Mithral is cold iron for silver.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Simon Barrowman wrote:

Hello. I'm fairly new to PSF, and have just gotten to level 4. So now I've got enough gold to buy a magic weapon. I'm a Dwarven fighter with a shield, so I'm thinking a Dwarven waraxe for the damage.

I've been told its a good idea to choose a special material before enchanting a weapon. I'm just not sure which is more useful; Adamantine or Cold Iron.
I know adamantine is good for breaking things but I don't really understand what cold iron does.

I've got about 7000 gold to spend so I think I can do either. I'd appreciate any input or advice on enchantments as well. Thank you in advance.

Why no love for mithral? Mithral is cold iron for silver.

silver is cold iron for silver, and a LOT cheaper.

Liberty's Edge

BigNorseWolf wrote:
silver is cold iron for silver, and a LOT cheaper.

Why would you want silver on a magic weapon?

But yeah, very few builds would prefer a mithral main weapon over an alchemical silver backup weapon. Maybe some dex-based ones. And devil fighters, but good luck finding enough devils to make it worthwhile in PFS.

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

I got a mithral klar for my S&B Thunder & Fang slayer. Partly just because of the uncertainty of whether you can even get an adamantine shield.

Liberty's Edge 4/5

Mithral? My earthbreaker is alchemical silver and works just fine.

Blunt weapon, so no penalty to damage. Besides, I figure lighter weight should be a disadvantage with a weapon like that!

Community / Forums / Organized Play / Pathfinder Society / New to PFS: Cold Iron or Adamantine? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.