Class FAQ - Guide for Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn
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_____________________________________ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn (PC) Class FAQ _____________________________________ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ May 16, 2001 Version 1.9 Written by: Dan Simpson Email: [email protected] [email protected]______________ You will find the most up to date version of this FAQ at: http://www.gamefaqs.com/ I also have a FAQ/Walkthrough and an Items List for Baldur's Gate II. Both of which can be found at the above address. This guide is intended to help the player decide which character(s) to create and why. Each class and kit will be rated with both a Pro and a Con, as well as an overall grade. If you disagree with any of my ratings, email me! If you have a good argument as to why the Wizard Slayer is really the ultimate class, then send it in. Or, if you think that Kensai are better left unused, email that in as well. This FAQ looks best in a fixed-width font, such as Courier New. This Document is Copyright 2000-2001 by Dan Simpson Baldur's Gate II is Copyright 2000 by Bioware/Black Isle/Interplay I am not affiliated with Bioware, Black Isle, Interplay or anyone who had anything to do with the creation of this game. This FAQ may be posted on any site so long as NOTHING IS CHANGED and you EMAIL ME telling me that you are posting it. You may not charge for, or in any way profit from this FAQ. _______________________________________________________________________________ Table of Contents: Quick Reference Barbarian Bard ··Skald ··Jester ··Blade Cleric ··Lathander ··Helm ··Talos Druid ··Totemic Druid ··Shapeshifter ··Avenger Fighter ··Kensai ··Berserker ··Wizardslayer Mage Monk Paladin ··Cavalier ··Undead Slayer ··Inquisitor Ranger ··Archer ··Beastmaster ··Stalker Sorcerer Thief ··Bounty Hunter ··Assassin ··Swashbuckler Other Arguments ··Fighter/Mage/Thief ··Single Player Party Strategies Final Words... ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Quick Reference ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Best classes for Protagonist/Single Player (in order of preference): Fighter/Mage -- this can be either a human Kensai/Mage, Berserker/Mage or a multiclass Fighter/Mage. Combines good offense, with good magical abilities, which are very important to have in BG2. Fighter/Cleric -- or Fighter/Druid. Same idea as above, but with curative spells instead. Swashbuckler/Mage -- must be a human swashbuckler dualled to a Mage. Gets some very good bonuses from the swashbuckler side (who is already practically a fighter/thief) and can cast spells. Inquisitor -- can't cast priest spells, but can cast a cool version of Dispel Magic that casts at twice his ACTUAL level. You can dispel almost anything with it. Plus he is immune to charm and hold and can use the best weapon in the game, Carsomyr. Kensai -- if you aren't going to dual him to another class later, go with a Half-Orc Kensai and get 19 STR and CON. Then you not only get the Kensai bonuses, you also get higher STR bonuses and lots more HP. Monk -- not that great at the start of the game, so probably won't appeal to newbies. Can't wear armor, but by level 18, you don't need armor. Faster than others, needs no weapon to be deadly, and with great extra abilities. Barbarian -- a much more "newbie friendly" character. Only worthwhile as a Half-Orc for the extra STR and CON. Moves faster, and has lots more HP than anyone. Cleric/Ranger -- can cast both Druidic and Cleric spells. Automatically has 2 points in 2 weapon style, allowing points to be spent on other things. More offensive minded than a mere Cleric, and can cast more varieties of spells. Racial Bonuses: Dwarves -- +1 CON -1 CHA Resistant to Magic & Poison Elf -- +1 attack with swords and bows +1 DEX -1 CON Resistant to Charm & Sleep Gnomes -- +1 INT -1 WIS Resistant to Magic Half-Elf -- Lightly resistant to Charm & Sleep Halfling -- Bonus to thieving abilities* +1 DEX -1 STR Resistant to Poison & Magic Half-Orc -- +1 STR +1 CON -2 INT * all non-human (except Half-Orc) races get a bonus to thieving abilities, but halflings get the best bonuses: Skill Dwarf Elf Gnome Half-Elf Halfling ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Pick Pockets -- +5 -- +10 +5 Open Locks +10 -5 +5 -- +5 Find/Remove Traps +15 -- +10 -- +5 Move Silently -- +5 +5 -- +10 Hide in Shadows -- +10 +5 +5 +15 Detect Illusion +5 -- +10 -- -- Set Traps +10 -- +5 -- -- ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Total ==> +40 +15 +40 +15 +40 Note: Since Halflings and Elves can get 19 DEX, they get further bonuses to thieving skills (roughly +5 per skill over what you get at 18 DEX). Grades are based on this question: Should this character be the Single- Player Protagonist? A+ being the best grade possible, F being the lowest. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Barbarian ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grade: B ... Solid frontline warrior, but not at all versatile. Best Races: Half-Orc (19 STR and 19 CON, who needs INT and CHA for a Barbarian anyway? He's a tank!) Dwarf (19 CON... penalty to DEX makes this less preferable) Best Weapon Proficiencies: Any. May want to go for a Shield (rather than 2 Weapon or 2 Handed) to make up for the poor armor choices. Max. Level w/ Experience Cap: 19 General Information: A barbarian can be an excellent warrior. While not as disciplined or as skilled as a normal fighter, the barbarian can willingly throw himself into a berserker rage, becoming a tougher and stronger opponent. The barbarian uses the fighter avatar. Advantages: - They move at 2 points faster than the usual character. - Barbarians are immune to backstab. - Can Rage once per day for every 4 levels (starts at 1st level with one use). Rage gives them +4 to constitution and strength for 5 rounds. Gives a -2 armor class penalty and +2 to saves vs. magic (for 5 rounds). Rage also gives immunity to all charm, hold, fear, maze, confusion and level-drain spells. - At 11th level, the barbarian gains 10% resistance to slashing, piercing, crushing and missile damage. He gains +5% to this every 4 levels thereafter. - The barbarian rolls d12 for hit points instead of a fighter's d10. Disadvantages: - A barbarian cannot wear full plate or plate mail. - A barbarian cannot specialize past normal specialization. Pro: There are two primary things that makes the Barbarian an attractive class. First he gains d12 HP per level, which is the highest of any class. By level 10 he could have 20 more HP than a Fighter. Second, his Rage ability is every bit as useful as the Berserker's, giving him extra muscle. A Half-Orc Barbarian who rages could get 23 STR, which is very strong. This guy is a Tank! Send him into any battle and watch the fun. Another useful point in his favor is the fact that he moves at 2 ticks faster than other characters. This might not sound like much, but it allows your character to do better hit-and-fade attacks, as well as better scouting. Run in a room, see the enemies, and run out. This makes for an interesting Archer as well, as you can probably outrun most enemies, you can easily keep shooting at almost anything and never get hit. Also, unlike the Monk, the Barbarian CAN be Hasted. The other benefits are good (immune to backstab & the weapon resistances), but not the feature attraction. They just add spice to this class. Con: The Barbarian also has significant problems. First, he cannot multi or dual class. Meaning he is stuck as a plain warrior. This can be very bad if you are fighting extended series of mages and need more magical power in your group. Second, he cannot wear the better armors in the game. Plate Mail, Full Plate are all forbidden to him. That means you are left with Chainmail and Leather armors. Interestingly, the best armor you can get for him is the Shadow Dragon Scale (AC 1), which counts as a Leather Armor. So, although he has more HP, he is also going to get hit more often. Third, he cannot go beyond "specialized" in any Proficiency. That gives the Barbarian less power attacking than a Fighter would get with 5 stars. Although the proficiency system isn't quite as powerful as it was in BG or IWD, your Barbarian is still missing out on +1 to hit and +1 to damage and some extra speed to attack. Pro Rebuttal: The "Rage" +4 STR more than makes up that difference. If a Half-Orc Barbarian has 19 STR, and Rages, his new STR of 23 gives him an extra +2 to Hit and +4 to Damage. And going from 18/00 is almost as good with +1 to Hit and +4 to Damage. (total STR bonus at 23 STR is +5, +11, at 22 STR +4, +10) Finally, the "other" benefits of being a Barbarian: Immunity to backstab and weapon resistances. First, how many times in the game are you even backstabbed? I can't recall many instances of it. Plus, they never go for the person with the most HP, always for the person with the least, meaning this ability is completely USELESS. The weapon immunities are nice, but at best you'll complete the game with 20% resistance to slashing/piercing/crushing/missile. So, 1 in 5 damage inflicted on you by one of those types is dropped. (i.e. if an arrow would have done 10 damage, it instead does 8) This is neat, but comes into play way too late in the game to truly be of use. By that point, most enemies just kill you instantly (Mind Flayers). ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Bard ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grade: C+ ... good niche character that needs a solid group Best Races: Human or Half-Elf (you HAVE to be Human or Half-Elf) Best Weapon Proficiencies: Go with Short Bows (for the Tansheron and Gesen bows), Katanas (for Dak'kon's Zerth Blade) and Single Weapon Style. This way you can switch back and forth between weapons without having to add an extra weapon/shield to your second hand. Single Weapon Style also gives an AC bonus. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 23 General Information: The Bard is also a rogue, but he is very different from the thief. His strength is his pleasant and charming personality. With it and his wits he makes his way through the world. A Bard is a talented musician and a walking storehouse of gossip, tall tales and lore. He learns a little bit about everything that crosses his path; he is a jack-of-all-trades but master of none. While many bards are scoundrels, their stories and songs are welcome almost everywhere. Advantages: - Picks Pockets - Bard Song (improves party morale and luck). Morale determines when characters "run away." Each character has a set morale, and when it drops, they flee, or go berserk. Luck simply improves all rolls. - Mage Spells up to 6th level - High Lore ability. The Bard gets 10 Lore points per level. Disadvantages: - Must be human or half-elf - Must have "neutral" somewhere in the alignment. - Can't wear armor heavier than chainmail. - Can't use shields larger than a buckler. Pro: The Bard really is a little bit of everything. Part thief, as he can pick pockets. Part mage as he can cast some spells (up to 6th spell level). The Bard is unique. The best thing about the plain Bard is his Lore. Lore allows you to identify items without having to cast the spell, or spend money in a shop. The bard can simply look at the item to tell what it is and what it does. (right click on the item, if it is described, your Lore was high enough) A good Bard can identify most items at the start of the game, and by the end can identify anything. This allows you to memorize other spells than Identify, such as Chromatic Orb or Magic Missile. Since the Bard can pickpockets (+10 per level), this frees up your thief's skill points to the other skills. A Thief doesn't need to pick pockets if your Bard can do it! Mage spells are an awesome bonus for this class. Run out of arrows? Shoot a magic missile! Plus you can cast protective spells on yourself (Haste, Stoneskin, etc.) and get a much more useful character. True, the Bard never gets more than 5 spells to cast per level, and can only get up to level 6, but the Bard isn't there to REPLACE your Mage, only to back him up. Although the plain Bard song isn't as useful in combat as the Skald's song, it does have the nice effect of improving Luck, that odd stat that the game uses all over the place. It improves nearly every throw by +1. It has the same effect of casting the spell "Luck" on everyone in the party at once. A Bard is not really a great individual, but he makes a great member of a group. Con: The Bard is a very weak fighter, near useless thief and can barely be called a mage. Bards only get 1 proficiency point per skill. Meaning that they never even get a bonus in anything, all they can do is avoid the penalty. Also they cannot wear anything better than Chainmail, and until you get one of the Elven Chainmails, you can't wear armor and cast spells at the same time. The Bard will get hit more than anyone in your party (who isn't a mage). Combine this with a STR no higher than 18 (+1 to hit, +2 dmg) and the Bard should avoid the frontlines at all cost. Pro Rebuttal: This is why you give the Bard proficiency in Short Bows (or other missile weapons) to avoid putting him on the frontline. Then he can damage the enemies with only a minimal risk to his own life. If the arrows aren't doing anything, switch over to Bardsong to help out the party. Pick pockets is the LEAST useful Thieving skill in the game. There are just not that many opportunities to use it for anything. There are far more traps and locked doors than there are people with things to steal. Pro Rebuttal: Yes, but when you find a Ring of Regeneration on the owner of the Adventurer's Mart (or similar situations) it makes it all worth while. One major problem with the Bard's song is that the Bard can't do anything but stand there and play it. No spells, no attacking. If you want to give everyone that +1 to luck, you have to stop shooting arrows at people, stand there and play your song. All you can do is walk around, anything else cancels the song. ··Skald ------- Grade: B ... Better than a Bard in many ways Best Races: Human or Half-Elf (you HAVE to be Human or Half-Elf) Best Weapon Proficiencies: Same as Bard. Go with Short Bows (for the Tansheron and Gesen bows), Katanas (for Dak'kon's Zerth Blade) and Single Weapon Style. This way you can switch back and forth between weapons without having to add an extra weapon/shield to your second hand. Single Weapon Style also gives an AC bonus. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 23 General Information: This Nordic bard is also a warrior of great strength, skill and virtue. His songs are inspiring sagas of battle and valor, and the skald devotes his life to those pursuits. Advantages: - +1 to hit and +1 damage with all weapons. - The skald's song is different from the typical bard and varies with level: - 1st: Gives allies +2 to hit, +2 to damage and -2 to AC. - 15th: Gives allies +4 to hit, +4 to damage, -4 to AC, and immunity to fear. - 20th: Gives allies +4 to hit, +4 to damage, -4 to AC, and immunity to fear, stun and confusion. Disadvantages: - Pick Pockets ability one-quarter normal. Pro: The Skald is a Bard who has more Fighter and less Thief in him. Skalds work ideally for anyone who doesn't use the pickpocket ability, or has another character with that ability. Since he is +1 to hit and damage with all weapons, that is nearly the same as being Specialized in any weapon that he is already proficient. It also makes the penalty for not being proficient less severe. The Skald song is also considerably beefier (from a fighting standpoint) and by level 20, it gives out some substantial bonuses to hit, AC and various good immunities. Much better than luck. Con: The Skald is MORE fighter, but still isn't a Fighter. Anyone trying to use him on the frontline will quickly learn that. For starters, he still can't wear more than chainmail. He still can't specialize in any weapon. The +1 to hit and damage is nice, but that doesn't give you more attacks. The Skald song is more useful, but you still have to keep the Skald from joining the battle. If you don't like Bards, you won't like Skalds. ··Jester -------- Grade: B- ... Nearly the same as a Bard, with one difference Best Races: Human or Half-Elf (you HAVE to be Human or Half-Elf) Best Weapon Proficiencies: Same as Bard. Go with Short Bows (for the Tansheron and Gesen bows), Katanas (for Dak'kon's Zerth Blade) and Single Weapon Style. This way you can switch back and forth between weapons without having to add an extra weapon/shield to your second hand. Single Weapon Style also gives an AC bonus. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 23 General Information: This bard is well versed in the arts of ridicule and hilarity, and uses his abilities to distract and confuse his enemies, cavorting madly during combat. Advantages: - Jester's song does not help allies. Instead, it affects every opponent within 30 feet, and they must save vs. magic at +4 once per round or be confused. Disadvantages: - None Pro: Only one difference here between Bards and Jesters, instead of the Bard song helping your party with +1 luck, it attempts to Confuse the enemy. It's a more useful Bard song as you can use it as much as you would like (making it more useful than the spell confusion as it works on groups and is unlimited). Con: Confused enemies can still attack you (though they are just as likely to attack each other) and all the other Con's of the Bard still apply. ··Blade ------- Grade: C ... One step forward, two steps back Best Races: Human or Half-Elf (you HAVE to be Human or Half-Elf) Best Weapon Proficiencies: Same as Bard. Go with Short Bows (for the Tansheron and Gesen bows), Katanas (for Dak'kon's Zerth Blade) and Single Weapon Style. This way you can switch back and forth between weapons without having to add an extra weapon/shield to your second hand. Single Weapon Style also gives an AC bonus. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 23 General Information: The blade is an expert fighter and adventurer, whose bardic acting abilities make him appear more intimidating and fearsome. His fighting style is flashy and entertaining, but is also quite deadly. Advantages: - May use Offensive Spin and Defensive Spin abilities once per day per 4 levels. Offensive Spin lasts 24 seconds, granting the blade +2 to hit, +2 to damage, and an extra attack. As well, all of his attacks do maximum damage for the duration. Defensive Spin lasts 24 seconds, roots him to the spot, but gives -1 AC per level of experience. This armor class bonus does not go over -10. - May place three slots into two-weapon fighting style. Disadvantages: - Only has one-half normal Lore value. - Only has one-half Pick Pockets percentage. - Bard Song does not become better with levels. Pro: Similar to the Skald, the Blade is a more fighterish type of Bard. His offensive spin gives +2 to hit and damage (more than a Skald!) as well as giving an extra attack and maxing out the damage. (if you weapon is a 1d10 Katana, then it will always do 10 dmg.) The extra attack is the best part of the "Offensive Spin", but the whole thing is awesome making your Bard into a offensive dynamo. Secondly, the Blade can put three points into two weapon fighting. This reduces the penalty for using an offhanded weapon to a mere -2 THAC0, and finally solves what to do with the Bard's near-useless second hand. Randy Gaw has more Pro-Blade things to say: Blades can both cast spells and fight when in defensive spin. That is an awesome ability because it basically means that the blade becomes a spellcaster that can't have his spells interrupted due to the really low AC. He can also be placed in the middle of a melee without taking too much damage, freeing up the rest of your characters to pound away. The spin is activated instantaneously so you never have to worry about getting interrupted. Offensive spin shouldn't be underestimated either IMO (maximum damage + extra attack -- assuming you dual wield your Blade, you get 3 attacks per round at max damage). Con: The problem with the two Spins is that they are mutually exclusive. That is, you can only do one at a time. So, yes the offensive spin is cool and does lots of damage. However, you still have the same cruddy AC as any Bard since you are still just in chainmail (or perhaps Bracers). And, if you were a Fighter you'd get more than +2 to hit and damage anyway. (Fighters can have 18/00 STR, which is +2, +4 better than 18 STR) Not to mention the "Mastery" bonuses fighters get from 4-5 proficiency points. Pro Rebuttal: Yes, fighters are better warriors, but they can't do what Blades can do, namely spells, lore and pickpocket. Con Response: True, but Blades don't do Lore or Pickpocket very well at all. You might get 40 pickpocket... who can you steal from like that? And 50 Lore? Beyond +1 and +2 items what can you identify? As for spells, make a Fighter, dual later to Mage and you have more spells, and once your Fighter abilities return, a much better warrior too. Finally the Defensive Spin is completely useless. Why would you ever use this? It PLANTS your Blade in place for 24 seconds. His AC can go to -10, but he can't move. That is a very passive way to fight a battle, and won't help much. The best defense is a good offense anyway. Further, back to my Fighter/Mage, with the proper armors you can get -10 AC easy. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Cleric ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grade: C+ ... The healer, but get a Priest Kit Best Races: Any Best Weapon Proficiencies: Get points in Maces, Flails and War Hammers. Then you probably want either 2 weapon style or Sword and Shield style. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 20 General Information: The cleric is a generic priest (of any mythos) who tends to the spiritual needs of a community. He is both protector and healer. He is not purely defensive, however. When evil threatens, the cleric is well suited to seek it out on its own ground and destroy it. Advantages: - Can cast Priest spells (not Druidic) - Can Turn Undead Disadvantages: - Cannot used Bladed or Piercing weapons Pro: The only serious healing class. Has all the major Priest spells, including Raise Dead and Resurrect (which Druids don't get). Unlike Mages can wear any armor they please. Being limited to just Blunt weaponry isn't as bad as you might think, since the best weapon in the game, the Crom Faeyr is a Hammer. Turn Undead has two major functions, either controlling/repelling undead or destroying them. Useful in vampire swarms, no doubt. Con: Druids have better offensive spells, such as Summon Fire Elementals, and if you want a plain cleric, you should probably take a Kit (Cleric of Lathander, Helm or Talos) to get their special ability. There are no downsides to taking a Kit here, so avoid the plain ole Cleric. Useful Multiclasses: Fighter/Cleric -- I prefer to do this one Dual classed, rather than multi B+ classed. Start with a plain fighter (or Kensai/Berserker /Wizard Slayer) and dual immediately to a Cleric. That way you can pick up 5 * in a weapon proficiency. Better at fighting and just as good at healing... eventually. Ranger/Cleric -- Starts with two points in Two Weapon fighting, so you can A spend all your points on weaponry. Even better, can cast both Cleric AND Druid spells. Cleric/Mage -- Your one stop magic shop. Has all spells, except Druid B+ spells. Unlike normal mages, can still wear a helmet and cast spells. Still can't wear armor and cast magic (though you could cast Cleric spells). ··Lathander ----------- Grade: B- ... The "good" healer Best Races: Any Best Weapon Proficiencies: Same as Cleric. Get points in Maces, Flails and War Hammers. Then you probably want either 2 weapon style or Sword and Shield style. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 20 General Information: Lathander is the good god of renewal, creativity and youth, and is celebrated nearly everywhere. His followers are very popular throughout the Realms, and there are numerous wealthy temples devoted to him. Advantages: - May cast Hold Undead once per day for every 5 levels of the caster (starts at 1st level with one use). - May cast Boon of Lathander once per day per 10 levels of the caster (starts at 1st level with one use). This spell lasts for 6 seconds per level of the caster. It gives the caster +1 to hit, +1 to damage, +1 to all saving throws and gives the caster 1 extra attack per round. It also protects the recipient from level drain. Disadvantages: - None. Pro: Casting Hold Undead may not sound that great, but there are a lot of undead monsters in the game, many of whom you might wish couldn't move. But the real Pro here is the Boon of Lathander which gives the caster (the cleric) some serious bonuses, most significant is the extra attack per round. This spell lasts 6 seconds * your level, so at level 20 it will last 2 minutes real time. Con: Nifty yes, but hardly a "super" ability. +1 to Hit, damage and saving throws plus an extra attack. The "Helm" ability "Seeking Sword" provides your cleric with better offensive muscle and Talos has good offensive AND defensive spells. The only convincing reason to be of Lathander is to get the "good" alignment and the "good" reputation. ··Helm ------ Grade: B- ... The "neutral" healer Best Races: Any Best Weapon Proficiencies: Same as Cleric. Get points in Maces, Flails and War Hammers. Then you probably want either 2 weapon style or Sword and Shield style. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 20 General Information: Followers of the neutral God of Watchers and Protectors are warriors in their own right and are often seen as defenders of the innocent. Advantages: - May cast True Sight once per day per 5 levels (starts at 1st level with one use). - May cast Seeking Sword once per day per 10 levels (starts at 1st level with on use). This spell creates a sword in the player's hand (that cannot be dropped or unequipped). The sword is +4 for purposes of determining what it can hit (but this bonus does not apply to damage), and it deals out 2-8 damage to any target it hits. The weapon sets the number of attacks of the cleric to 3. It lasts for 1 round per level of the caster. When equipped, the wielder cannot cast further spells. Disadvantages: - None. Pro: Can cast True Sight to dispel nasty illusions in the area (invisibility and Shadow Door come to mind). But even better is the Seeking Sword, which although only does 2-8 dmg (2d4, the same as a Bastard Sword) it gets 3 attacks per round and hits as a +4 (though it doesn't affect the THAC0 any). +4 weapons are hard to come by, there just aren't that many of them, and to START THE GAME with one (in effect) is powerful. You could take on Kangaxx from the very start! Con: Yes, Seeking Sword is neat, however, it lasts 1 round per level of the caster. PLUS you cannot cast spells while the sword is in your hand! So, a level 10 cleric would be silent for an entire MINUTE with a 2d4 weapon. Pro Rebuttal: A 2d4 weapon that improves THAC0 by +4, however. (Even if it doesn't do +4 damage) Further, there are times when you might want a more "warrior" type of character and this spell fits that bill. ··Talos ------- Grade: A- ... The "evil" healer Best Races: Any Best Weapon Proficiencies: Same as Cleric. Get points in Maces, Flails and War Hammers. Then you probably want either 2 weapon style or Sword and Shield style. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 20 General Information: Talos is the evil god of storms, destruction and rebellion. Clerics of the Stormlord warn that Talos must be appeased or he will rain destruction upon the land. Advantages: - May cast Lightning Bolt once per day per 5 levels of the caster (starts at 1st level with one use). - May cast Storm Shield once per day per 10 levels of the caster (starts at 1st level with one use). This spell lasts 6 seconds per level of the caster. It protects the caster from lightning, fire, cold and normal missiles. Disadvantages: - None Pro: Yes, it is nice to cast Lightning Bolt while as a Priest (assuming you learn where to aim those pesky things), but the real attraction here is the Storm Shield spell. It works like 4 simultaneous spells: Protection from Normal Missiles, Protection from Fire, Protection from Electricity and Protection from Cold. So walk into that cone of cold, or that fireball, it won't hurt you in the least. The spell also lasts a VERY long time, 6 seconds per level, so by the end of the game it could last 2 real time minutes. And, since Storm Shield is a special ability, it casts really fast. Con: If only you could cast Storm Shield on other people... ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Druid ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grade: D ... Not very good at all Best Races: Must be human or half-elf Best Weapon Proficiencies: Go for Scimitars and Quarterstaff. Sword and Shield Style if you go with Scimitars, Two Handed style if you go for Quarterstaff. The best staff in the game is one that only Druids can use. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 14 General Information: The druid serves the cause of nature and neutrality; the wilderness is his community. He uses his special powers to protect it and to preserve the balance in the world. Advantages: - Can cast "Druidic" spells - Can Shapechange Disadvantages: - Must be human or half-elf - Can only wear leather armor or bucklers - Can only use darts, clubs, spears, daggers, slings and staffs Pro: The druid is a more offensive oriented type of priest. They have some nasty spells, such as Summon Fire Elemental that is even more powerful than the mage version (as you don't have to spend time "controlling" the elemental). Druids also get the highly useful spell Iron Skins, the variant on the Mage Stoneskin. Summon Woodland Creatures nets you a Nymph, who can heal your party, or Dominate the enemy. Insect Swarm is great against enemy spellcasters. Shapechange isn't as useful as the spells, but still provides your Druid an offensive set of abilities. The "Bear" change, for example, ups your Strength, Dexterity and Constitution and its attack counts as a +3 weapon. This makes up for many of his fighting shortfalls. Con: Yes, the Druid has nice spells, but misses the most important healing spell of Raise Dead and Resurrect. Which means that if anyone dies, you may have to reload from your last save. Also, most of the Druid spells are at the higher levels, there are fewer at the first few levels. Meaning that with all those nifty spells, you can cast few of them. They get 7 spells on the first level, 8 on the second, 11 on third, 12 on fourth, 10 on fifth, 9 on sixth and 8 on seventh. Shapechange is far less useful when you realize that you cannot cast spells while changed. Further your "weapon" while shapechanged never ever improves. Fighting something that requires a +4 weapon? Out of luck. There are only 3 shapechanges, 2 bears and one wolf. The wolf is very weak, acting as a +1 weapon and affecting the stats very little. That leaves you with the 2 bears to rely on for offensive power, and neither improves STR beyond 18/00. (The wolf mainly improves your DEX) Essentially what the shapechange does is turn your Druid into a Fighter. However, your THAC0 in this state only improves slightly (+3) and your DEX is SET to 12, which may in fact be lower than your natural DEX. A similar level fighter would get many more bonuses to his THAC0 and could hit many more times. Any armor your Druid is wearing is not counted (except for bucklers) which means you have a ludicrously high AC. So, imagine a fighter using a Long Sword +3, wearing NO armor, and a buckler. Would you want that person on the frontline where he would get killed? The Druid outside of the shapechange is very weak offensively. He can only use a small variety of weapons, and can only wear leather armor. The Druid, like its cleric counterpart, can only be proficient in a weapon. And the Druid will never get more than 1 attack per round. Even at the very end of the game, your THAC0 will be no better than 5 or 6. (even with a +4 weapon and the Girdle of Hill Giant STR) Pro Rebuttal: Why would you use a Druid as a Fighter anyway? Use him as a backup character, casting spells at the enemy. Con Response: The Druid just doesn't have that many offensive spells. Yes, Fire Elementals are neat, as are the other summoned creatures, but there aren't many straight out Attack spells. At level 3 there is "Call Lightning", but it can only be cast OUTDOORS, where most of the game takes place INDOORS. Cause Serious Wounds or Harm type spells put your Druid back on the frontline, where he will suffer damage. It takes until level SIX before you get some good offensive type spells (Fire Seed 6, and Fire Storm 7). Fire Seed is a weaker version of Melf's Minute Meteors (with the bonus that they can be given to anyone, on the penalty that it creates only a handful) and Fire Storm is close to Meteor Swarm. Nice, yes, but you won't get them until far into the game, and you won't be able to cast many anyway. Finally the Druid's final level is 14. They get to level 14 at 1.5 million experience, and the experience cap is set at 2.95 million. Therefore, any experience a druid gains past level 14 goes to waste. If you simply MUST have a Druid, go with a multiclass, such as Fighter/ Druid. Useful Multiclasses: Fighter/Druid -- Solves many of the Druids basic melee problems. Can wear B (multi) real armors and shields, although weaponry is still B+ (dual) limited to Druid weapons. Can become "specialized" in a weapon, resulting in an extra 1/2 attack per round. (The Dual Class version is quite a bit better here, start with a human fighter, true neutral, with 15 STR and 17 CHA. Then at level 13 Fighter, dual to Druid. You can still get level 14 at Druid, which is their highest level anyway. Advantages? Can become a Grand Master in a weapon.) ··Totemic Druid --------------- Grade: B- ... Much better than a Druid Best Races: Must be human or half-elf Best Weapon Proficiencies: Go for Scimitars and Quarterstaff. Sword and Shield Style if you go with Scimitars, Two Handed style if you go for Quarterstaff. The best staff in the game is one that only Druids can use. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 14 General Information: This druid closely identifies with a particular animal, an animal that he feels represents his spirit. This grants him a special connection to the animal kingdom, and he is able to call upon their spirits to aid him. Advantages: - May summon a special 'spirit' animal once per day per 5 levels of experience. Spirit animal is randomly selected from 'Spirit Bear', 'Spirit Wolf', 'Spirit Lion' and 'Spirit Snake'. Disadvantages: - Cannot shapeshift. Pro: At first glance, you might dismiss the Totemic Druid as a mild and not very powerful variation of the normal druid. However, it is quite a bit more powerful than the plain druid. The Totemic switches from shapeshifting himself, to conjuring forth "spirit animals" to fight for him. Your Totemic will start the game able to summon 2 animals right away, and depending on what you get, you could have a find little army. The Spirit Animals have decent stats: HP AC THAC0 # of Attacks DMG STR DEX Spirit Bear 96 2 10 3 1D10 18 14 Spirit Wolf 56 0 9 3 1D4* 16 20 Spirit Snake 45 -1 9 2 1D10 18 18 Spirit Lion 72 1 8 3 1D8+2 19 18 * The wolf does extra COLD damage. All the Spirit animals have 100% resistance to Cold and Electricity. And you can summon as many as you have spells for, for an eventual maximum of 3 at a time, each randomly chosen. Each of these creatures is more powerful than what a Druid would get as shapeshifted (look at the AC of the Spirit Bear, 2, compared with a shapeshifted bear who gets no armor bonus and probably gets an AC of 6). So, the Totemic can summon forth three of these at a time, and they stick around for quite a long time (or until killed). Unlike a shapechanged druid, the totemic can still cast spells with his creatures running around. Add to that the fact that you can still summon Fire Elementals, Nymphs, etc. and your Totemic Druid is a wonderful Conjurer, able to throw many bodies at any enemy. Thus he can stay back and avoid any conflict while his creatures fight for him. This makes the Totemic more of a general than a footsoldier. Con: It isn't as though your Totemic can entirely avoid fighting himself, however. And as such he is just as weak as any druid in that regard. He still can only wear leather armors, and no shield larger than a buckler. If he is attacked directly by archers, he has no real recourse. Secondly, although the Totem animals work great in the early portion of the game, they never gain power, and so become much less useful when attacking mightier foes (Beholders, Mind Flayers, Dragons). Pro Rebuttal: Yes, but in those cases, you still have extra bodies to throw at the enemy. Sure, the mind flayer can quickly kill your Totem animals, but that was at least one attack where he wasn't killing YOU. ··Shapeshifter -------------- Grade: C+ ... Better than a Druid, but not by much Best Races: Must be human or half-elf Best Weapon Proficiencies: Go for Scimitars and Quarterstaff. Sword and Shield Style if you go with Scimitars, Two Handed style if you go for Quarterstaff. The best staff in the game is one that only Druids can use. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 14 General Information: This druid is not called shapeshifter because he has access to a great variety of forms, rather because of his complete dedication to a single alternate form. This druid has willingly allowed himself to become infected with lycanthropy, but due to intense study and training he has the ability to control his affliction. The creature he becomes is that of the werewolf, the most famous of the lycanthrope shape changers. Advantages: - May shapeshift into the form of a werewolf once per day for every 2 levels (starts at 1st level with one use). - At 13th level, gains the ability to change into a greater werewolf once per day. Disadvantages: - No other shapeshifting abilities due to the effort required maintaining balance in his primary forms. - Cannot wear any armor. Pro: The werewolf is a powerful melee fighter and makes up the difference between Druids and Fighters. It gains bonuses to STR, DEX and CON (although these SET those stats to 19, 16 and 15, which could be a step down). Furthermore its weapon is considered a +3 weapon, meaning that you don't have to find a good weapon for your shapeshifter. However, it is the Greater Werewolf ability (level 13) that makes this class sparkle. As the Greater Werewolf your STR, DEX, CON are 21, 20 and 25, which are some great bonuses. The G. Werewolf hits as a +4, has 3 attacks per round and the 25 CON allows him to automatically regenerate. Con: Except you still can't cast spells while hiding as a Werewolf, meaning that you are either devoted ENTIRELY to melee, or ENTIRELY to spellcasting, which is somewhat similar to a Fighter/Mage wearing armor. In the middle of a battle you can't cast spells because you are stuck with the armor. The same goes here, you can't cast spells because you are stuck as a werewolf. Second, you can't wear any armor at ALL. Which means that if you want to survive any battle, you MUST turn yourself into a werewolf. Which also has the effect that you will cast very few spells in battle. And since Druids are more "battle" oriented than Clerics, that seems a little odd to me. Pro Rebuttal: Yes, but you can always cast Summoning spells BEFORE the battle, turn yourself into a werewolf and leap into the fray. Further, with spells like Iron Skins you can beef up your defenses, THEN turn into a Werewolf. Finally even the Greater Werewolf has a pitiful AC. Reaching at best -1 on its own. Pro Rebuttal: True, but the werewolf can wear rings and cloaks. And the Shapeshifter Druid can wear bracers. AC isn't that big of a problem. ··Avenger --------- Grade: B- ... Better than a Druid, but not by much Best Races: Must be human or half-elf Best Weapon Proficiencies: Go for Scimitars and Quarterstaff. Sword and Shield Style if you go with Scimitars, Two Handed style if you go for Quarterstaff. The best staff in the game is one that only Druids can use. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 14 General Information: A member of a special sect within the Druidic order, a druid of this type is dedicated to fighting those who would defile nature. Avengers have powers the average druid does not; additional abilities that have been earned through extensive rituals, a process that is very physically draining. Advantages: - May shapechange into normal forms, as well as those of sword spider, baby wyvern and fire salamander. - 6 mage spells are added to his repertoire, all the way up to 6th level. These are listed below: - 1st: Chromatic Orb - 2nd: Web - 3rd: Lightning Bolt - 4th: Improved Invisibility - 5th: Chaos - 6th: Chain Lightning Disadvantages: - May not wear better than leather armor. - On character creation, he receives a -2 to strength and constitution. Pro: Aside from the obvious benefits of getting new Froms to shapechange to, the real benefit here are the 6 extra mage spells. These are all available from the very beginning of the game, which is good for the powerful spells of Chaos and Chain Lightning. True, these must be memorized as normal Priest spells, but it does add a lot of variety to the Druid spell set. Chromatic Orb gives the druid a good 1 enemy attack spell. As for the new Forms for the shapechanger in your druid, they are nice, but nothing fabulous. The Fire Salamander can shoot out three small "fireballs" (think Melf's Minute Meteors) and is naturally resistant to fire. The Sword Spider gets you a 5 good attacks per round. Con: Yes the new spells are nice. Chromatic Orb in particular is great to have. But Web? The first level spell Entangle does the same thing. Improved Invisibility? Nice, but when would you ever need to be invisible (if you wanted to simply not get attacked, while you summon forth monsters to fight for you, Sanctuary can do that just as well). Chaos is neat, but is no better than Confusion, I.e. all it does is make the enemies wander around. Pro Rebuttal: Yes, and while the monsters wander around, your party can move in and kill them. Con Response: Assuming the spell works in the first place. Most enemies you would most like to get this spell to work on, manage to avoid its effects. And even if it does work, confused monsters have a tendency to attack back when they are hit. Chain lightning is a dangerous spell to cast, just like Lightning Bolt. When cast it goes from its first target, to whoever is standing closest to that target. If the nearest person to the target is YOU, or someone in your party, it will hit you. Pro Rebuttal: That is why you cast it well away from your party. Con Rebuttal: And when the monster runs right next to your party before you finish casting? Then you manage to hit one monster and many of your own party! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Fighter ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grade: B ... Still a good class, but better off with a kit or multiclass Best Races: Human (to dual class later), Half-Orc (for the 19 STR, CON), Dwarf (for the 19 CON), Elf (for the +1 with swords/bows) Best Weapon Proficiencies: Long Swords or Katanas. Then take that all the way up to 5 points. Then probably want to get 2 Weapon style. If not, go for Sword and Shield style for the missile defense. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 19 General Information: The fighter is a champion, swordsman, solider and brawler. He lives or dies by his knowledge of weapons and tactics. Fighters can be found at the front of any battle, contesting toe-to-toe with monsters and villains. A good fighter needs to be strong and healthy if he hopes to survive. Advantages: - Can use any weapon or armor - Can become a Grand Master at any weapon Disadvantages: - none Pro: Even with all the fancy kits around, the plain fighter is still an excellent choice for both the newbie and the seasoned veteran alike. Gets more HP's than most other classes, levels up faster than Rangers or Paladins, the ONLY class that can achieve Grand Mastery (even though that's not as powerful as it once was). Can also wear any armor, or equip any weapon. Con: Grand Mastery matters far less in BG2 than it did in IWD or BG. And since G. Mastery was the main reason to take a fighter, the fighter is significantly weaker without it. How is Grand Mastery weaker? Here is the old proficiency chart from BG: points spent to hit bonus damage bonus attacks 1 (Proficient) 0 0 1 2 (Specialized) +1 +2 3/2 3 (Master) +3 +3 3/2 4 (High Master) +3 +4 3/2 5 (Grand Master) +3 +5 2 Here is how things were changed in BG2: points spent to hit bonus damage bonus attacks 1 (Proficient) 0 0 1 2 (Specialized) +1 +2 3/2 3 (Master) +2 +2 3/2 4 (High Master)* +2 +3 3/2 5 (Grand Master) +2 +4 3/2 * Improves Speed of weapon by 1, Grand Master by 3 Between "Specialized" and "Grand Master" there USED to be +2 to hit and +3 damage, not to mention an extra 1/2 attack. Now there is only +1 to hit, +2 damage and a little extra speed. So you spend 3 whole points, and get very little. The result of this is that the plain fighter is less useful than he used to be. This almost necessitates going to one of the fighter kits, or even the barbarian, rather than go through the normal fighter. At least the kits have extra bonuses that make up for this loss. (Can you imagine the best person in the world at something getting beat by someone who had only some marginal skill? That is what this seems like to me.) You're better off going for a Kit or a Multiclass. The game almost seems designed to discourage a plain fighter. Useful Multiclasses: __ Fighter/Cleric | Fighter/Thief |__ (these are discussed in the other class's section) Fighter/Druid | Fighter/Mage __| Kensai/Mage -- Since neither Kensai nor Mages can wear armor this is a natural fit. (Fighter/Mages CAN wear armor, but not cast spells at the same time) This way you get all the bonuses of a Kensai (+1 to hit and damage every 3 levels) and can cast spells. ONLY available through Dual classing a human with 15 STR and 17 INT. Kensai/Thief -- Thieves work better without armor anyway. Also because Kensai get bonuses to hit and damage, and have the kai shot, their backstabs could be tremendous. Only available through Dual classing a human with 15 STR and 17 DEX. ··Kensai -------- Grade: A ... A great fighter Best Races: Human (to dual class later), Half-Orc (for the 19 STR, CON), Dwarf (for the 19 CON), Elf (for the +1 with swords/bows) Best Weapon Proficiencies: Long Swords or Katanas. Then take that all the way up to 5 points. Then probably want to get 2 Weapon style. If not, go for Single Weapon style for the extra defense. If you are going for the Kensai/Mage, make sure to go for Katanas for Dak'kon's Zerth blade. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 19 General Information: This class is also known as the Sword Saint, and consists of a warrior who has been specially trained to be one with his sword. They are deadly and fast and trained to fight without encumbrance. Advantages: - +1 to hit and +1 damage for every three levels. - -2 bonus to AC. - -1 bonus to speed factor for every 4 levels. - May use Kai ability one time per day for every 4 levels (starts at 1st level with one use). This ability lasts 10 seconds and makes all the attacks do maximum damage. Disadvantages: - May not use missile weapons. - May not wear armor. - May not wear gauntlets or bracers. Pro: There are a lot of good things about the Kensai. First and foremost we're starting from a Fighter, which leaves open the possibility of Grand Mastery, which although isn't what it used to be, is still good. Second, the Kensai gains +1 to hit and +1 damage every 3 levels. This is huge. By level 18 you could have +6 to hit and +6 damage and this is on TOP of what a Fighter would normally get. (At level 18 your THAC0 would be 2 normally, add in the +3 for 18/00 STR, +2 for weapon mastery and +6 for kensai bonus and your THAC0 would be -9... before even adding in the weapon bonuses! If you're using a +4 sword, your THAC0 could be -13!) Speed factor also improves every 4 levels. What does this mean? That your Kensai will almost always hit the enemy, before the enemy hits him back. With the extra damage (and possible dual wield) it means you may KILL the enemy before he ever hits you! Kai ensures that for the next 10 seconds, all your hits do maximum damage. If you are using a 1D10+2 Dak'kon's Katana, then all your hits will do 12 damage (rather than randomly rolling between 3 and 12). Finally, the Kensai makes for some of the best dual class combinations in the game (see above). Con: The Kensai cannot wear armor. The Kensai cannot wear bracers. Aside from the -2 AC bonus you get at the start of the game, your AC never ever improves. The Monk's AC improves every 2 levels. Even the Swashbuckler's AC improves every 5 levels, but the poor Kensai is stuck with cruddy AC. Pro Rebuttal: Yes, but with good weaponry and high levels, your Kensai can obliterate the enemy without putting his life in danger. Also, the Kensai can wear rings and robes. Finally there is the Shield Amulet that can help protect the Kensai. It comes with 40 or so charges, more than enough to last the entire game. ··Berserker ----------- Grade: B+ ... A good fighter Best Races: Human (to dual class later), Half-Orc (for the 19 STR, CON), Dwarf (for the 19 CON), Elf (for the +1 with swords/bows) Best Weapon Proficiencies: Long Swords or Katanas. Then take that all the way up to 5 points. Then probably want to get 2 Weapon style. If not, go for Sword and Shield style for the missile defense. If you are going for the Berserker/Mage, make sure to go for Katanas for Dak'kon's Zerth blade. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 19 General Information: This is a warrior who is in tune with his animalistic side and, during combat, can achieve an ecstatic state of mind that will enable him to fight longer, harder and more savagely than any human has a right to. Berserkers tend to be barbarian-like in nature, but not always. Sometimes it is a conscious choice that a warrior in training makes. Regardless, opponents on the battlefield will be unsettled with they see the savage and inhuman elements of the berserker's personality. This class is common amongst dwarves, know to them as "battleragers." Advantages: - May use Enrage ability once per day per 4 levels. While enraged: +2 to hit, +2 damage, -2 AC. The berserker at this time is immune to charm, hold, fear, maze, imprisonment, stun and sleep. He also gains 15 hit points while enraged. These hit points are temporary, and are taken away at the end of his berserk spree, possibly killing the berserker. Enrage also makes him immune to level drain. Disadvantages: - Becomes winded after berserking. While he's winded, he receives -2 to hit, -2 to damage and a +2 penalty to AC. - Cannot specialize in ranged weapons. Pro: The berserker might at first seem like a poor imitation of the Barbarian, but in reality it's more like a cross between that and the Fighter. Like the fighter, the Berserker can wear any armor, and any weapon. He also can get 5 proficiency points in weaponry. Further, he can "Enrage" to become a much more effective fighter. Why is enrage so useful? It is very comprehensive. Read the list of its immunities: Charm, Hold, Fear, Maze, Imprisonment (very useful if you are fighting Kangaxx the Lich!), Stun and Sleep. In other words, your Berserker is immune to just about any negative effect. Send him into any and all combat situations without worry. He won't get scared and run away. Enrage also has the normal "neat battle improvements" such as +2 to hit damage and AC. Your Berserker also gets +15 HP. Sure, he loses those HP when the battlerage wears off, but in the mean time it allows him to fight longer and harder. Suppose that your Berserker had 100 HP and fought a battle without being Enraged. Suppose that somewhere in the battle 101 damage is done to him and he dies. At that point, the game is over. Now using the Enrage you get 115 HP and can use that extra time to kill more enemies. Con: But ask yourself, is Enrage really all that useful? +2 to hit, damage and AC is nice, but the Kensai gets that NATURALLY, without having to enrage first. Also Kensai get far past that later in the game (an 18th level Kensai gets +6 to hit and damage). In fact, a level SIX Kensai gets the same exact bonuses. Pro Rebuttal: Yes, but Kensai can't wear armor, and Berserkers can. Also, while Enraged a Berserker is immune to Charm, Hold, Fear, Maze, etc., etc.! Further, when the Enrage ends you not only lose the 15 "extra" HP (possibly even killing you, which is quite devastating for a protagonist since the game ENDS when he dies), but you also are EXHAUSTED at the end of the rage. (results in a -1 to all their rolls, such as THAC0 and damage) In battle going from +2, to -1, possibly before the enemy is even defeated, could be the difference between winning and losing. Pro Rebuttal: Yes, but the Enrage lasts long enough to finish most battles. Con Response: Yes, but it only takes one instance of the Enrage wearing off too early. Suppose it happens while fighting a dragon. ··Wizardslayer --------------- Grade: D+ ... Laughable bonuses Best Races: Human (to dual class later), Half-Orc (for the 19 STR, CON), Dwarf (for the 19 CON), Elf (for the +1 with swords/bows) Best Weapon Proficiencies: Long Swords or Katanas. Then take that all the way up to 5 points. Then probably want to get 2 Weapon style. If not, go for Sword and Shield style for the missile defense. If you are going for the Berserker/Mage, make sure to go for Katanas for Dak'kon's Zerth blade. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 19 General Information: This warrior has been specially trained by his sect to excel in hunting and attacking spellcasters of all kinds. Advantages: - For each successful hit on an opponent, 10% cumulative spell failure penalty is applied. - 2% magic resistance per level. Disadvantages: - May not use any magic items except for weapons and armor. Pro: Although the game itself says you only get 1% magic resistance per level, you actually gain 2% as stated above. By the final level, 19, you will get 38% magic resistance, great for avoiding spells like magic missile and Abu Dalzim's Horrid Wilting. Also, every time you hit a wizard, forevermore that wizard has a 10% chance that his next spell will fail. Useful in this situation: You hit a wizard, and his contingency spells activate giving him protection from your weapons. However he still has difficulty casting spells due to the 10% casting failure chance. On a strange sidenote, you can dual a wizardslayer to a mage. Con: This is a loser kit. First, the Monk gets more magic resistance. Sure it doesn't kick in until the end, but by the end of the game you will get more resistance than the wizardslayer. Second, even 38% resistance won't protect you from much. A 5 point magic missile will do maybe 3 damage instead. Secondly, if you can HIT a mage, his spell will fail anyway. The 10% chance that his next spell will fail isn't going to help you much, since you will probably be killing that mage soon (if you can hit him, then his HP won't last long, will they?). Thus that ability is almost completely wasted. For this you lose the ability to wear magical items, such as Rings, Cloaks, Bracers, etc. Just not worth it. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mage ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grade: C+ ... Very useful, but take a kit or multi-class Best Races: Human (to dual class later), Half-Orc (for the 19 STR, CON), Dwarf (for the 19 CON), Elf (for the +1 with swords/bows) Best Weapon Proficiencies: Quarterstaffs or Slings. Stay away from daggers. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 17 General Information: The mage strives to be a master of magical energies, shaping them and casting them as spells. To do so, he studies strange tongues and obscure facts and devotes much of his time to magical research. A mage must rely on knowledge and wit to survive. Mages are rarely seen adventuring without a retinue of fighters and men-at-arms. Because there are different types (or schools) of magic, there are different types of mages. The generalist mage studies all types of magic and learns a wide variety of spells. His broad range makes him well suited to the demands of adventuring. Advantages: - Can cast magic spells Disadvantages: - Cannot wear armor - Cannot use most weapons Pro: Mages are a flat-out necessity in Baldur's Gate II. You NEED a mage, and who better to be your party's mage, than your main character? This way you get every possible spell all throughout the game and become as powerful as possible by the end of the game. Why are mages necessary? To combat other mages, of course. There are too many spells that can give a mage immunity to melee weapons, such as Stoneskin, Protection from Normal/Magical Weapons, etc. And in order to even damage these protected mages, you need a mage of your own to remove their protections (via spells like Breach). Secondly, mages help the party with protective spells of their own: Haste, Protection fromm Magic, etc. Con: Mages are nice, but plain mages are considerably weaker than Kit mages (Conjurer especially) or multi-class or dual-class mages. A fighter mage has far more HP than a normal mage. Mages, at best, can get a mere 6 HP per level. Which means by the end of the game you can only get about 70 HP. Since the game ends when the protagonist dies, you want a LOT of HP for him, and the mage just doesn't cut it. So, start with a human fighter (15 STR & 17 INT minimum) then dual to a mage. Not only will you get lots more HP (a level 8 fighter could have 112 HP or so) but when you regain your fighter abilities (or Kensai/Berserker/Wizard Slayer) you can use better weapons, have full proficiencies, etc. You still can't cast spells while wearing armor, but that isn't a serious problem. Don't want a fighter? There are also Thief/Mages and Cleric/Mages. Or, start with a Kit: Abjurer, Conjurer, Diviner, Enchanter, Illusionist, Invoker, Necromancer or Transmuter. They do lose the ability to learn spells in their opposition school, however, they can cast +1 spell per spell level. Oddly, dual classed mages gain this ability as well. (not multiclass, but dual class) Useful Multiclasses: Fighter/Mage -- Everyone's favorite multiclass. Discussed in the Con A above. Cleric/Mage -- Can cast both Cleric and Mage spells. Must be a Half-Elf. B+ Better warrior than a plain mage, and gets more HP as well, but not as good as the fighter/mage. Can cast cleric spells in armor, but not mage spells. Thief/Mage -- One of the more interesting classes. I find it better to B+ start with the human Swashbuckler (for the AC and to hit bonuses), then dual at level 10 to mage (requires 15 DEX and 17 INT). Mage Kits: ---------- Mage specialists gain +1 spell per level, but can't cast spells in their opposition school. Of all of these, I prefer Conjurer as Divination spells just aren't that great. Examples of Divination would be Detect Invisibility, Know Alignment, Clairvoyance, etc. Races Stat Required Abjurer Human 15 Wisdom Conjurer Human, Half-Elf 15 Constitution Diviner Any 16 Wisdom Enchanter Human, Half-Elf, Elf 16 Charisma Illusionist Human, Gnome 16 Dexterity Invoker Human 16 Constitution Necromancer Human 16 Wisdom Transmuter Human, Half-Elf 15 Dexterity Specialist School Opposition School(s) Abjurer Abjuration Alteration Conjurer Conjuration/Summoning Divination Diviner Divination Conjuration/Summoning Enchanter Enchantment/Charm Evocation Illusionist Illusion Necromancy Invoker Invocation/Evocation Enchantment/Charm, Conjuration Necromancer Necromancy Illusion Transmuter Alteration Abjuration, Necromancy ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Monk ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grade: A ... The most interesting class in the game Best Races: must be Human Best Weapon Proficiencies: Scimitar and 1 weapon style. However, the Monk's best weapon is his fists, which he uses only when you have no weapon equipped. He is automatically considered "proficient" in no-weapon fighting. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 21 General Information: Monks are warriors who pursue perfection through contemplation as well as action. They are versatile fighters, especially skilled in combat without weapons or armor. Though monks cannot cast spells, they have a unique magic of their own. They channel a subtle energy, called ki, which allows them to perform amazing feats. The monk's best known feat is their ability to stun an opponent with an unarmed blow. Advantages: - The monk can make one unarmed attack per round; he gains one additional attack every 3 levels. - As the monk increases in levels, the damage his fists inflict does as well: - Level 1-2: 1-6 - Level 3-5: 1-8 - Level 6-8: 1-10 - Level 9-14: 1-12 - Level 15+: 1-20 - A monk's natural armor class gets better as he goes up in levels. His armor class starts off at 9, and then decreases by 1 for every 2 levels. - Stunning blow, once per day for every 4 levels. All attacks in the next 6 seconds force the victim to save or be stunned. Note: This special ability automatically modifies a monk's normal attack, no targeting needs to be done. - Monks have the Deflect Missiles ability. This gives them a -1 to their AC vs missiles for every 3 levels. - The monk gains a +2 to save vs. spells. - A monk starts off moving at +2 move, then +1 move every 5 levels. - 5th level: Immunity to all diseases, and cannot be Slowed or Hasted. - 7th level: Lay on Hands to heal 2 hit points per level. - 8th level: -1 to speed factor. - 9th level: +1 to all saves. Immune to charm. The monk's fist is considered a +1 weapon (+2 at 12th, +3 at 15th). - 11th level: Immune to poison. - 12th level: Another -1 to speed factor. - 13th level: Quivering Palm spell once per day. This spell gives them one hand attack. If they hit an opponent, the opponent must save or die. - 14th level: The monk gains 3% magic resistance per level (ie. 42% at 14th level). - 20th level: Immune to non-magical weapons. Disadvantages: - The monk cannot wear armor. - A monk can only uses weapons available to the thief class (except 2 handed). Pro: Just one look at the massive "Advantages" list gives you an idea on how powerful this class is. Let's go through the better abilities, in no particular order. First, although the Monk can wear no armor (actually, with the proper stats, he CAN wear Keldorn's default armor), he has a natural AC that improves 1 AC point every 2 levels. His AC starts at 9 and continues to improve. At the beginning of the game (Level 7 or 8) you'll have 6 Base AC. By the 21st (and final) level his AC will be at -1. Then add into that the DEX bonus (possibly +4 to AC) and you get -5, then realize you can wear Cloaks, Rings and so forth and maybe you drop your AC down to -7 or -8. As such, the only time you will worry about AC is at the very beginning of the game, as soon as you start gaining levels, your monk toughens up. Secondly, the monk requires no weapon to be deadly. At the start of the game, his fists are as efficient as a Katana (1d10), at level 9 they improve to Greatsword level (1d12 +1) and by the end of the game it's up to the level of TWO katanas (1d20 +3). Not only that, but you gain 1/2 attack every 3 levels. This means you start the game with 2 attacks, and by level 9 you get 2.5, 12 has 3 attacks, 15 3.5, and at level 18 you get the final 4 attacks per round. (4 * (1*20 +3) = 92) All this adds up to a possible maximum of 92 damage per 6 seconds of combat, without even using any weapon at all. The Monk runs on the Priest experience table, meaning two things, they level up faster than the Fighter and can get up to a higher level as well. (Fighters max out at level 19, Monks can get up to 21) The Monk has a great many special abilities, immunities and so forth. It has the Stunning Blow that stuns an enemy for the next 6 seconds. Not the best of abilities, but a better one comes later at level 13 when he gains the Quivering Palm attack, which can automatically kill any monster, including dragons. (the target can Save, of course) Further, the Monk is immune to all sorts of things (at various levels): Disease, Haste (not good), Slow, Charm and Poison. Monks can Lay On Hands to heal themselves at 2 HP/level, for a Maximum of 42 HP at the end of the game (and about 14 at the start). The best abilities come at the end when the Monk gains Magic Resistance (14th level) and immunity to all non-magical weapons (20th level). These are just the most significant abilities. Don't forget that since Monks are somewhat Priests, they can cast Priest spells, not from memory but from Scrolls. Which means that if you buy the scroll ahead of time, your Monk could Raise Dead, Heal, or any number of functions. The monk can also: Find Traps (not disarm, just find), Hide in Shadows, and moves faster. Con: The only real problem with monks are how weak they are at the start of the game. They start with an AC of about 5 (with the DEX bonus, of course) and can wear no armor. This makes them weak as a kitten in any battle. It won't be long before your Monk has to disengage from combat and come hide. Although it is nice to have such deadly weapons without having to actually buy or equip anything, you must realize that at best, these are +3 weapons, and there are several monsters that require +4 or more to hit. Pro Rebuttal: There are very few monsters that require a +4 to hit. Kangaxx is one. And you should have other people in your party who can use +4 and +5 weaponry. Remember, at 1d20+3, the monk's DEFAULT weapon is the most powerful weapon in the game. The next most powerful, Carsomyr is a 1d12+5, meaning the monk does 6 more damage. The Monk cannot be Hasted, which can result in some odd problems when you haste your entire party. While everyone else is running at twice the speed and getting +1 attack/round, the Monk is now moving at 2/3 the speed of everyone else and getting behind. Pro Rebuttal: A VERY small price to pay for all the Monk's wonderful abilities. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Paladin ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grade: B ... Very versatile Best Races: must be Human Best Weapon Proficiencies: Two Handed Sword and Two Handed Style. This is due to the Holy Avenger Sword, the best weapon in the game, and one that only Paladins can wield. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 17 General Information: A paladin is a warrior bold and pure, the exemplar of everything good and true. Like the fighter, the paladin is a man of combat. However, the paladin lives for the ideals of righteousness, justice, honesty, piety and chivalry. He strives to be a living example of these virtues so that others might learn from him as well as gain by his actions. Advantages: - Can specialize in a weapon - Can use any weapon, wear any armor - Lay on Hands ability to heal quickly - Can Turn Undead - +2 to all saving throws - Can instantly cast Protection from Evil and Detect Evil Disadvantages: - Must be human - Must be Lawful Good - If you do any "Evil" act, you lose your Paladin status Pro: The Paladin is a great choice for your main character. Firstly because the Paladin REQUIRES a high charisma (which is a good thing for the main character to have) and secondly because he is a great warrior, who can use the best weapon in the game, the Holy Avenger (1d12+5). The fact that he cannot achive Grand Mastery is offset by the fact that the proficiency chart was "nerfed" from BG to BG2, meaning that there is only a difference of +1 to hit and +2 to damage between Specialized and Grand Mastery. The Paladin makes this up when he uses two handed weapon style as that gives +1 damage and doubles the chance of a critical hit. Paladins at level 9 can cast Priest spells. They only learn up to level 4 spells and can only cast (at most) 3 per level. However, this is more of a bonus than the feature. Lay On Hands allows you to quickly heal ANYONE (unlike the Monk lay on hands, Paladins can heal more than just themselves). And also unlike Monks (or Kensai) the Paladin can wear any armor he pleases. The +2 to saving throws is invaluable, as it helps keep the Paladin from getting killed by Beholders and Mind Flayers. This bonus is furthered along by the Paladin's Protection from Evil ability, which gives another +2 to saving throws. Con: First, the stats the Paladin must take are ludicrous. Paladins require 12 STR, 9 CON, 13 WIS and 17 CHA. Paladins DO NOT gain extra priest spells due to WIS, which makes that almost totally useless a stat for them to have. Pro Rebuttal: High WIS also results in good "magical defense"... although I'm not entirely clear on how that helps you. Due to the large number of stats that they MUST have, there are less stats that can be stolen from to give to other stats. You can't drop CHA down to 3 and give that to DEX, for example. You have to roll the "dice" longer to get better rolls. Pro Rebuttal: A point which doesn't really affect the Paladin's performance in the game. Yes, the Paladin can cast priest spells, but this is almost a wasted ability. The paladin at best gets 3 spells per level to cast, which won't allow you to do much of anything. Further, when a spell says "does x damage/level", and your paladin is on level 15, it actually considers you on level SIX for the purposes of spellcasting. The Paladin doesn't gain spellcasting until level 9, at which point, he is considered level ONE when casting spells. Very weak. A Paladin will never ever replace a good Cleric. Pro Rebuttal: He isn't there to REPLACE, he is there to SUPPORT. Con Response: A high level cleric has more than enough spells per level not to even need the support. If you have both a high level cleric and paladin in your party, you will almost NEVER use the paladin for the purposes of spellcasting. At level 19, the cleric can cast 9 first level spells... does your party really need the 3 more your paladin could get you? Also bear this in mind before becoming a Paladin, if at any time your party's reputation dips below 10, your Paladin is considered "Fallen" and loses all his special abilities. Finally, if you want to become a Paladin, why not use one of the very well done Kits? Inquisitor is a great kit, but you can also go for the less "radical" Cavalier or Undead Slayer. ··Cavalier ---------- Grade: B+ ... Very versatile Best Races: must be Human Best Weapon Proficiencies: Two Handed Sword and Two Handed Style. This is due to the Holy Avenger Sword, the best weapon in the game, and one that only Paladins can wield. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 17 General Information: This class represents the most common picture of the knight: the gentleman warrior who epitomizes honor, courage, and loyalty. He is specialized in battling 'classical' evil monsters such as demons and dragons. Advantages: - Bonus +3 to hit and +3 damage against all demonic and draconic creatures. - May cast Remove Fear 1 time per day per level. - Immune to fear and morale failure. - Immune to poison. - 20% resistance to fire. - 20% resistance to acid. Disadvantages: - May not use missile weapons. (they CAN use throwing Axes, however) Pro: First we'll start with the Cavalier's "disadvantage", that he cannot use missile weapons. Why would you use a Paladin for missile attacks? Paladins are frontline fighters! They have lots of HP, can wear the best armors, and have the best melee weapon in the game, the Holy Avenger. You want thieves, bards and mages stuck in the back throwing objects at the enemy; you want the paladin up front smiting the foes with his mighty greatsword. The Cavalier is just like a Paladin, but with some very nice bonuses to some of the most difficult enemies in the game: Demons and even more so, Dragons. There are 3 evil dragons in the game to kill, and having +3 to hit and damage against them is a great help. (There are more demons, but they are quite a bit less difficult to defeat) Being immune to fear is invaluable, as nothing is quite so annoying as watching your party run around afraid (usually due to a spell), dropping their weapons when they run. Cavalier's don't run, so they won't drop their weapon. Further, if the rest of your party DOES get "Feared", the Cavalier, who is immune to it, can cast Remove Fear to restore the party to normal. Con: Yes, the Cavalier is an overall improvement to the Paladin class. However, as was stated above, there are only THREE dragons in the game. Yes, dragons are somewhat difficult to defeat, but a +3 to hit and damage bonus on ONE character probably won't make a deciding difference. It will certainly help, but the rest of the party doesn't get the bonus. Further, although there are more demons in the game, they aren't that difficult to defeat (with the possible exception of Pit Fiends). In the entire game, battles with Dragons and Demons are about 3% of the total battles. Do you really want bonuses that apply to only 3% of the game? You're probably better off as an Undead Slayer or as an Inquisitor. ··Undead Slayer --------------- Grade: A- ... Very versatile Best Races: must be Human Best Weapon Proficiencies: Two Handed Sword and Two Handed Style. This is due to the Holy Avenger Sword, the best weapon in the game, and one that only Paladins can wield. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 17 General Information: This holy avenger has honed his abilities towards the destruction of the undead and other unnatural creatures, and is immune to many of their more devastating abilities. Advantages: - +3 to hit and +3 damage vs. undead. - Immune to hold. - Immune to level drain. Disadvantages: - May not use Lay on Hands ability. Pro: There are many more Undead in the game (especially Vampires) than there are Dragons, which makes the Undead Slayer a more logical choice in the game. He gains +3 to hit and damage vs. ALL undead, is immune to Hold and Level Drain (one of the more annoying effects of vampires and other undead, drops your character temporarily by a level or two). Losing "Lay On Hands" is no great sacrifice as your party should still have a good cleric, and losing one healing spell won't be that great of a loss. Con: Immunity to Hold and Level drain is good, but not great. Hold is one of the easiest spells to dispel as it usually effects only one person at a time. That makes it easy to have the mage quickly cast Dispel Magic and remove the Hold. Level drain never really affected me all that adversely in any of the games I played. Sometimes I lost many levels (4 or 5) to vampires, but it didn't really affect my ability to whack them mercilessly. Plus, Level Drain is easily reversible with the Cleric spell Lesser Restoration. Having +3 vs. undead is still too limiting since you won't just be fighting undead, and when you are not, this character is even WEAKER than a paladin. (no Lay on Hands) ··Inquisitor ------------ Grade: A ... Very versatile, the best paladin class Best Races: must be Human Best Weapon Proficiencies: Two Handed Sword and Two Handed Style. This is due to the Holy Avenger Sword, the best weapon in the game, and one that only Paladins can wield. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 17 General Information: The inquisitor has dedicated his life to finding and eliminating practitioners of evil magic and defeating the forces of darkness, and his god has provided him with special abilities towards that end. Advantages: - May use Dispel Magic ability once per day per 4 levels (starts at 1st level with one use). The ability is used at a speed factor of 1 and acts at twice his actual level. - May cast True Sight once per day per 4 levels (starts at 1st level with one use). - Immune to Hold and Charm spells. Disadvantages: - May not use Lay on Hands ability. - May not cast priest spells. - May not turn undead. - May not use Cure Disease ability. Pro: At first glance you might not see how I justify the Inquisitor as the best Paladin Kit. We'll start at the disadvantages and explain how those aren't really. First, Cure Disease. There are not that many times in the game that you will get diseased. Further, disease is not that devastating an effect. It damages a character far less than poison, so your character may take 5-10 HP damage. Plus, if you have a Cleric, that should be able to cover it. Second, no priest spells. Again having a good cleric means that you don't need the extra 3 spells at all. A good high level cleric can cast 7-9 spells per level, and having an extra 3 is nice, but not at all necessary. Even if you had the extra spells, you might never even use them. Lay on Hands is just a one-shot healing spell. Losing Turn Undead isn't good, but again a Cleric does Turn Undead better. You don't need two people who can Turn Undead, it isn't a cumulative effect. So, since the disadvantages aren't really that bad, that leaves us with the advantages. First you are immune to Hold and Charm, preventing almost totally your paladin from being taken magically out of the battle. But the best advantages are the other two, being able to cast Dispel Magic at twice his ACTUAL level and True Sight. Since he can cast Dispel Magic at twice his level, that makes him the best magic dispeller in the game. He can dispel the most trickiest of enchantments from the best of wizards. If everyone suddenly gets Charmed or Held, he can quickly dispel it. Combine this with True Sight, which dispels illusions (Invisibility, Shadow Door, Mirror Image) and the Inquisitor is a great anti-mage warrior, freeing your mage up to cast offensive spells instead. Con: Admittedly, the disadvantages are not that big a deal. Yes, it is nice to be able to cast Priest spells, but hardly necessary for this character. However, the Dispel Magic ability, the cornerstone of what makes the Inquisitor great, is a two-edged sword. Yes, it will remove all negative enchantments on your party, and all positive enchantments on the enemy. It will also remove all of your positive enchantments as well. Did you haste the party? Well that's gone. Protection from Evil? That's gone too. Using such a mighty Dispel Magic is like using a Cloudkill, you must aim it right in order to avoid harming your own party. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Ranger ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grade: C+ ... If you want a ranger, go with a Kit or multiclass Best Races: Human, Elf or Half-Elf. I'd take an Elf if you want a plain Ranger as they get bonuses to Swords and Bows, and also have high DEX scores, which brings another bonus to bows. Best Weapon Proficiencies: Since you already start with 2 points in 2 weapon style, use the rest of your points on whichever weapon you want to dual wield, such as Scimitars or Long Swords. Probably should also take a few points in Short Bows. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 17 General Information: The ranger is a hunter and a woodsman. He is skilled with weapons and is knowledgeable in tracking and woodcraft. The ranger often protects and guides lost travelers and honest peasant-folk. A ranger needs to be strong and wise in the ways of nature to live a full life. Advantages: - Racial Enemy (bonus to hit and damage when fighting that enemy) - Weapon Specialization (2 points in proficiencies) - Stealth (can hide in shadows) - Can cast Charm Person/Mammal - Can cast Druid spells at level 8 Disadvantages: - Must be human or half-elven - Must be of a Good alignment. If your reputation drops below 10, you lose your special abilities. Pro: The Ranger is sort of a cross between a fighter and a druid. He gets the extra attacks and good THAC0 of a fighter, and gets the druid spells at level 8. His fighting abilities may seem lesser than a normal fighter, (can't get past 2 * in proficiency) however this is slightly offset by two things: 1) automatically starts with 2 * in 2 weapon style, meaning you can spend your points elsewhere; 2) proficiencies are quite a bit weaker in BG2 than they were in BG. (Between 2 * and 5 * in a weapon, you gain +1 to hit and +1 to damage, that is it) The Ranger also has the Racial Enemy, which is set by you at the beginning. This bonus gives you a +4 bonus to your attack rolls (essentially a +4 to hit and damage) whenever you fight that type of monster. Say, you pick Vampires to be your racial enemy. Then whenever you fight a vampire, you get that +4 bonus. By the way, the best Racial Enemy to pick in the game is probably Vampire. This is very similar (albeit better) to what the Cavalier and Undead Slayer Paladin kits get as bonuses, except you get to pick what enemy you want the bonus for. If you CHOSE Dragon, you would get a better bonus than the Cavalier got for Dragons. Since the Ranger can cast Druid spells at level 8 (very nearly the level you start the game at) you can probably get away with not even having a Druid in the party, and going for Clerics instead. The Ranger's spellcasting is considerably weaker than a normal Druid (or even a Paladin), but you won't need to cast that many Druid spells anyway. Con: The Racial Enemy is nice, but since you won't be using it that much it hardly is a great decider in becoming this class. Typically you use Racial Enemy on the monster that gives you the MOST trouble, of which there are very few. And what would you choose, anyway? Dragons? Liches? Vampires? Of those, Vampires are the most plentiful, but they're hardly that great a threat. Liches would probably be the wisest choice, but hitting a lich depends more on your mage getting his defenses lowered, than on a +4 bonus to THAC0. As for spellcasting, the Ranger is the weakest of all spellcasters. He can cast only up to level 3 Druid spells, getting 3 spells to cast a level. That is at the END of the game, for most of the game he'll hardly have any spells to cast at all. And he misses ALL of the good Druid spells, such as Summon Fire Elemental. Your Ranger will be learning Cure Light Wounds, when your Cleric is learning Heal and other spells that make the Ranger's abilities obsolete. Who needs to heal 4 HP or so, when you can COMPLETELY heal a target? If you want the Druid spells so badly, start with a True Neutral Human Kensai (15 STR, 17 WIS & CHA) and dual to a Druid at level 9. At that point you get +3 to hit and damage, which is considerably better than the Racial Enemy bonus (it applies to ALL monsters, rather than specific monsters). Since Druids level up very fast, you'll only need 125,000 experience to get to level 10 and reactivate the Kensai abilities. You will then have a better warrior AND a better spellcaster. (by the way, it takes 600,000 experience to reach level 10 as a Ranger) Finally, if you really want a Ranger, go for the Ranger/Cleric. They have MUCH better spellcasting, and still have all the good qualities of the Ranger. (see below) Useful Multiclasses: Ranger/Cleric -- Gets all Druid AND Cleric spells, and is a better fighter A than any Cleric. Much more powerful magically as well since he is the only character that can cast ALL priest spells. Use War Hammers for the Crom Faeyr at the end of the game. ··Archer -------- Grade: A- ... The best Ranger kit Best Races: Human, Elf or Half-Elf. I'd take an Elf as they get bonuses to Swords and Bows, and also have high DEX scores, which brings another bonus to bows. Best Weapon Proficiencies: Go for Grand Master in Short Bows (for the Tansheron's and Gesen's short bows which require no ammunition), however you could just as easily go for Long Bows, Crossbows or Slings. As long as it is a missile type weapon, the Archer excels in it. You probably will want to also learn a melee weapon (Long Sword, Two Handed Sword, whatever) and either Single Weapon Style or Two Handed style. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 17 General Information: The archer is the epitome of skill with the bow. He is the ultimate marksman, able to make almost any shot, no matter how difficult. To become so skilled with the bow, the archer has had to sacrifice some of his proficiency with melee weapons and armor. Advantages: - +1 to hit and +1 to damage with any missile weapon for every 3 levels of experience. - Every 4 levels he gains the ability to make a called shot once per day. When he activates this ability, any shot made within the next 10 seconds is augmented in the following manner (according to the level of the archer): - 4th level: -1 to THACO of target - 8th level: -1 to save vs magic of target - 12th: -1 to strength of target - 16th: +2 bonus to damage Disadvantages: - An archer can only become proficient in melee weapons; he may never specialize. - An archer cannot wear any metal armor. Pro: The Archer is THE missile weapons expert in the game. He gains +1 to hit and damage every 3 levels, making him like the Kensai, but with bows instead of swords. This works out to a +5 to hit and damage bonus by the end of the game. Now, say you have an Elven Archer (+1 to hit and damage with bows) with 19 DEX (+3 to hit and damage with bows) and you get a +9 to hit and damage bonus by the end of the game! Even at the start you get the +6 to hit and damage bonus. Not only will your archer be able to snipe off anything he pleases, but he'll probably kill most things before they ever get to your party. Further the Archer has the Called Shot, which has some pretty cool cumulative effects. At 4th level it will drop the THAC0 of the target when hit. Now that monster has a harder time hurting your party. 8th level you drop their save vs. magic, now your mages can affect them with charms, or whatnot. Each effect is cumulative to the one before, so at 16th level, you do ALL the effects (-1 to opponent THAC0, save vs. magic, STR and +2 to your damage). Called Shots last 10 seconds, which is 1.66 rounds. If you have 3 attacks per round you will get of 5 "called" shots in that time period. Con: The Archer is limited to being JUST a ranged supporter of the party. His melee abilities are not much better than a Thief, and so he will never be anything but an Archer. What happens when he runs out of arrows? What happens if the enemy starts attacking you point-blank? You are in some serious trouble. This problem is compounded by the lack of armor that an Archer can wear: no metal armor! He can wear any LEATHER armor, but no chainmail splintmail or platemail! Thusly the best armor he can wear is the Shadow Dragon scale, which counts as a leather armor. Hope you have no one else who needs the armor, as there is only one. Further, you have to fight a Shadow Dragon to get it! Since your Archer is using a bow, he can't wear a shield, meaning his AC is going to be high. If there are enemy archers fighting you, your Archer is going to take a hit. Pro Rebuttal: Enemy archers tend to attack the person with the least HP and/or your mage. The Archer should have plenty of HP to avoid getting targetted. And having a bad AC doesn't matter if you aren't on the frontline getting attacked. Con Response: And if the frontline collapses and the Archer is attacked at melee? He is quite a bit worse off than an actual fighter. ··Beastmaster ------------- Grade: B- ... An odd conjurer-type of Ranger Best Races: Human, Elf or Half-Elf. I'd take an Elf as they get bonuses to Swords and Bows, and also have high DEX scores, which brings another bonus to bows. Best Weapon Proficiencies: Go for Grand Master in Short Bows (for the Tansheron's and Gesen's short bows which require no ammunition), however you could just as easily go for Long Bows, Crossbows or Slings. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 17 General Information: This ranger is a wanderer, and is not comfortable in civilized lands. He maintains a natural affinity for animals; they are his friends and comrades-in-arms, and the Beast Master has a limited form of telepathic communication with them. Advantages: - +15% to stealth ability - Enhanced spell ability with regard to the following spells: - May cast the 4th level druid spell Animal Summoning I at 8th level. - May cast Animal Summoning II at 10th level. - May cast Animal Summoning III at 12th level. - May cast "Find Familiar" to get a familiar Disadvantages: - Cannot use metal weapons (such as swords, halberds, hammers or morning stars). Pro: One thing that wasn't mentioned in the manual or in the game's kit information for the Beastmaster is the fact that the Beastmaster can cast (from the Special Abilities menu) the spell Find Familiar. This works just like the Mage version, giving your character a little friend and the bonus HP as well. This spell is very useful, so it is surprising that they don't mention it. The Beastmaster, in addition to the normal first 3 levels of druid spells, can also cast 3 higher level druid spells, the 3 animal summoning spells. Using these you can increase your little force to an army. Remember you can only have 5 summoned monsters at a time. Con: Animal Summoning is among the weakest of the summoning spells, giving you creatures with small AC, attacks and so forth. In other words, don't expect a big offensive boost from having these creatures. Mostly you can simply use them as extra bodies to throw at other monsters. They won't help you kill the monster, but they will help keep the monster from killing you. (He'll be too busy killing your animals) More disturbingly, the Beastmaster cannot use metal weapons. That limits him to using Clubs, Quarterstaffs, Bows, Darts and Slings. If you plan to use the Beastmaster as an Archer, this isn't a problem, but if you need a melee warrior, you are in trouble. There just aren't that many good Clubs in the game, and most the Quarterstaffs are for Clerics, Mages or Druids, very few for Rangers. ··Stalker --------- Grade: B ... An odd mage-type of Ranger Best Races: Human, Elf or Half-Elf. I'd take an Elf as they get bonuses to Swords and Bows, and also have high DEX scores, which brings another bonus to bows. Best Weapon Proficiencies: Go for Grand Master in Short Bows (for the Tansheron's and Gesen's short bows which require no ammunition), however you could just as easily go for Long Bows, Crossbows or Slings. Also you will want to also learn a melee weapon (Long Sword, Two Handed Sword, whatever) and either Single Weapon Style or Two Handed style. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 17 General Information: Stalkers serve as covert intelligence gatherers, comfortable in both wilderness and urban settings. They are the spies, informants, and interrogators, and their mastery of stealth makes them deadly opponents. Advantages: - +20% to stealth ability - May backstab for a lesser amount than the thief class (level 1-8: x1, level 9-16: x2, level 17+: x3) - Has access to three mage spells at 12th level. They are Haste, Protection from Normal Missiles and Minor Spell Deflection. Disadvantages: - May not wear armor greater than studded leather. Pro: The Stalker is a Ranger with some thieving abilities thrown in (can backstab) as well as a few mage spells as well. The result is strange. The Stalker's main attack should probably be to hide in shadows, then backstabe the enemy. At the later levels (12) when he gains his mage spells, you can Haste yourself, and cast the other protections as well. Con: The Stalker, due to his sneaky nature, must wear no armor greater than leather armor. This would normally not be a problem, except that it prohibits him from wearing any decent armor. Again, the best armor to be worn is the Shadow Dragon Scale, that all-purpose AC 1 leather armor. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sorcerer ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grade: B ... A strange version of the mage. Best Races: I'd go with Elf, but that's just me. Best Weapon Proficiencies: Go for Quarterstaffs then Daggers and Slings. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 17 General Information: Sorcerers are practitioners of magic who were born with the innate ability to cast spells. It is thought that the blood of some powerful creature flows through their veins; perhaps they are the spawn of the gods themselves, or even dragons walking in humanoid form. Regardless the Sorcerer's magic is intuitive rather than logical. They know fewer spells than mages, and acquire spells more slowly, but they can cast spells more often and have no need to select and prepare spells ahead of time. Sorcerers cannot specialize in magic the way mages do. Advantages: - Spellcasting without memorization - Automatically learn spells Disadvantages: - Cannot wear armor - Knows fewer spells than the mage - Cannot learn spells from scrolls Pro: The strength of the Sorcerer (as opposed to the mage) is in his versatility. Sorcerers do not need to memorize spells ahead of time, they are simply given a set number of times they can cast spells. For example, by the end of the game, you will get 6 castings per spell level. In a battle, you might use all 6 level 1 castings on Magic Missiles or Chromatic Orbs, or out of battle you could use 6 identifies. There is no need to re-memorize spells for different tasks, as long as you know the spell, you can cast it. Another benefit is that you don't have to learn spells from a scroll. When you go up in level, and can learn new spells, you simply pick from the ENTIRE list of spells on that level. This means that some rare spells (Summon Hakeashar, etc.) are not at all rare for the Sorcerer to get. In comparison to a regular mage, the sorcerer can cast more spells per spell level / character level. For example, right from the start a sorcerer can cast 3 level 4 spells while a normal mage might just be limited to one. (Chris Swartz) Con: At best the Sorcerer can know (at most) FIVE spells per spell level. What if there are 7 spells in a level you want? Then you must pick and choose. This often leads to having a very specialized spell list. Usually the sorcerer finds himself unable to get a lot of good spells, and so focuses on a few great spells. So, you might end out with nothing but protective and protection-removing spells, while a mage gets 14+ spells per spell level to learn and can cast offensive and summoning spells as well. In other words, the Sorcerer will not have enough SPELLS in his spellbook to be powerful. Further, if you pick a BAD spell, you are stuck with it! Pro Rebuttal: Sorcerers can still cast directly from Scrolls. Most times this will counter the fact that you have less spells to choose from. Those rare spells that you need to cast only once or twice can then be cast from scroll, rather than wasting a full slot on it. (Limited Wish comes to mind here) As far as picking a BAD spell goes: 1) You might learn how to use that spell effectively, and 2) With a little planning, you will know what spells to take. Also not being able to learn spells from scrolls has another negative impact: the loss of experience from learning spells. (Chris Swartz) Consider it another way: Almost no one playing BG2 will know the ins and outs of every spell. Even if you have played the game before, there are still probably many spells you never used. This goes up exponentially at the higher levels where you have very little time to learn how to use these very cool spells. At the end of the game, your Sorcerer can pick a mere TWO level 8 spells to cast. TWO! There are 13 level 8 spells to pick from. Without intimate of these 13 spells, how do you propose to choose which spells you want? I might recommend one spell, say, Abi Dalzim, but you might not play well with area effect spells (maybe your people keep wandering into it). If you listened to a recommendation like that, you'd get a spell that while useful, might not be useful to YOU. Another factor weighing against the Sorcerer is the fact that they cannot multi- or dual-class. This means that they will always have fewer HP, STR and all the good stats of anyone else. A Fighter/Mage is still a better choice. You get to learn more spells, and are a much better offensive machine. Pro Rebuttal: True the sorcerer cannot dual in BG II, but magic is so important in this game that you are really not at any disadvantage having one character soley devoted to being a magic user. (Chris Swartz) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thief ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grade: C- ... Useful in a variety of situations, but kits are better Best Races: I'd go with a Halfling as they get better thieving abilities. If you want to dual later to a mage, go with Human. Best Weapon Proficiencies: I'd take as many points as possible in short bows, and whatever melee weapon you like. Then go for Single Weapon style. When you switch from your bow to your melee weapon you get the AC bonus. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 23 General Information: To accomplish his goals, for good or ill, the thief is a skilled pilferer. Cunning, nimbleness and stealth are his hallmarks. Whether he turns his talent against innocent passers-by and wealthy merchants or oppressors and monsters is a choice for the thief to make. There are seven thief abilities in Baldur's Gate II. At first level a thief character will receive 30 points to allocate among his abilities. Every level thereafter he will gain an extra 25 points. Thieving abilities are also improved by DEX and Race bonuses. Advantages: - Thieving Abilities: Open Locks, Find Traps, Pick Pockets, Move Silently, Hide in Shadows, Detect Illusions and Set Traps. Disadvantages: - Cannot be Lawful Good - Cannot wear armor greater than Studded Leather, or Bucklers - Limited weaponry choices, can only be proficient Pro: Thieves are 100% necessary in Baldur's Gate II. There are just too many traps to be found out, doors to be unlocked, and so forth to be able to go through the game without a good thief. Also, the game only provides one pure thief NPC, so your best chance of getting the best thieving abilities, is to create your own thief. SPOILERS BELOW Little Bear offers more Pro-Thief arguments: I found my imported character from BG to be incredibly powerful. She's a fighter dual classed over to a thief early in BG (didn't use any kits importing, so my benefits were mostly higher HP, a better THAC0 and weapon mastery). Maxing out thief abilities is not a bad thing. Backstab (Hide in Shadows/Move Silently) is still very powerful in this game. Once I found the boots of speed, my character was the ultimate strike and fade assault team, typically cleaning out areas while the rest of the party napped down the hall. Illithids, vampires, and mages all can be backstabbed before defensive contingencies kick in, just watch out for True Seeing. Setting traps is wonderful, as has already been noted, but there are still fights after you lose Yoshimo (who I didn't keep in my party anyway). Traps ended the fight with Irenicus in Suldanessellar before it even started - he died before he had a chance to attack my party. The final battle with the Slayer was a breeze after traps knocked it down to Badly Injured. With Find/Remove Traps I never took any trap damage unless I was not expecting to have to search for one. I don't think I even need to mention the benefits of Open Locks. Pickpocketing can usually net you some nice treasures. Detect Illusion was the only skill I didn't use much, but I typically brought my other skills up to 120+ to account for difficulty modifiers, so it never got very high until the end of the game. END SPOILER Little Bear continues: My only "tough" battles were with things I couldn't backstab (beholders and dragons mostly) or before I started getting decent equipment (Kangaxx). Once your thief gets the boots of speed, a damage booster (magic weapon, girdle of strength, etc.), and some magic protection, you could almost play the game solo. In fact, once I had the cloak of spell reflection and a scroll of magic protection (Elder Orbs' Imprisonment spell bypasses the cloak), I pretty much cleaned house in the beholder city by my lonesome. Con: Yes, but a plain thief is not the way to do it. All the kits are better, also a multi/dual class thief is better as well. After a certain point you don't NEED any more thieving abilities, and continuing to gain thieving levels does nothing but increase those. After 100 open locks points, do you really need more? Not really. So, start with a thief, then dual later to a mage, or fighter, once your abilities have gotten as high as you'd like them. Useful Multiclasses: Fighter/Thief -- I'd start with a fighter, get Grand Mastery in Short Bows, B+ and immediately dual to Thief (also works as Kensai/Thief). Dualling is the ONLY way to get Grand Mastery. We do it from Fighter to Thief as you level up in thief faster than fighter, so you will regain your abilities quicker. Thief/Mage -- A very fun class, combines thieving abilities with mage B+ abilities. I'd start with a human swashbuckler and dual at level 10 to mage. Use bracers as your armor, and then wear a Robe. Just make sure to get good thieving abilities before dualling out. I would ignore Hide in Shadows and Move Silently, but that's just me. Thief/Cleric -- A more rare multiclass than the others as less races can B do it. Try the Half-Orc Thief/Cleric for some fun. This way you can still wear armor. ··Bounty Hunter --------------- Grade: B ... A thief who likes to set snares Best Races: I'd go with a Halfling as they get better thieving abilities. If you want to dual later to a mage, go with Human. Best Weapon Proficiencies: I'd take as many points as possible in short bows, and whatever melee weapon you like. Then go for Single Weapon style. When you switch from your bow to your melee weapon you get the AC bonus. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 23 General Information: This is a hunter of men, skilled in tracking quarry and bringing them back alive--whether for lawful authorities or underworld masters. Bounty Hunters are specially trained at their task and make fearsome opponents. They have honed their trap-making abilities well beyond that of the average thief. Advantages: - +15% to set traps. - He can lay special traps (other than the ones that all thieves receive). The traps are more powerful than the typical thief trap, and the effect varies according to the level. The effects are listed below: - 1st: The trap deals out damage and slows the target (if save is failed). - 11th: The trap holds the target if a save is failed. - 16th: The trap erects an Otiluke's Resilient Sphere around the target (if a save is failed). - 21st: The trap Mazes the target. Disadvantages: - Gets only 20 to distribute between thief abilities each level. Pro: One of the most useful tricks that the thief has in killing Mega- Monsters (dragons and liches come to mind) is the set traps ability. This ability is most useful because it is indefensible, i.e. it always hits its target. The Bounty Hunter gets 2x the number of traps to set, the normal traps and special traps. You can see what the bonus traps do above. Bounty Hunters also make for great dual-classed characters, after level 11 when you gain the special trap that Holds the target. Con: Bounty Hunters lose 5 thieving points per level. There are 7 separate thieving abilities, and you only start with 30 points (plus however the abilities normally default). In other words, your Bounty Hunter will HAVE to drop several abilities just to keep the important ones. You will likely HAVE to focus on just: Find Traps, Open Locks and Set Traps. Secondly, the bonuses on the "special" traps are really lame. The monsters that you really want to use the traps on (Dragons again) probably won't be held by it. And getting 2x the number of traps is near useless since you can just rest to restore your Set Traps ability, and all your traps will still be there. ··Assassin ---------- Grade: C+ ... A thief who likes to poison his target Best Races: I'd go with a Halfling as they get better thieving abilities. If you want to dual later to a mage, go with Human. Best Weapon Proficiencies: I'd take as many points as possible in short bows, and whatever melee weapon you like. Then go for Single Weapon style. When you switch from your bow to your melee weapon you get the AC bonus. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 23 General Information: This is a killer trained in discrete and efficient murder, relying on anonymity and surprise to perform his task. Assassins must be of Evil or Chaotic Neutral alignment. Advantages: - May coat his weapon in poison once per day per 4 levels. The next hit with that weapon will inject the poison into the target, dealing out 1 damage per second for 24 seconds (3 damage for the first 6 seconds). A saving throw vs. poison limits damage to 12 total. - Bonus +1 to hit and +1 damage. - Gets a x7 max backstab (rather than the Thieves normal x5) Disadvantages: - Only 15 points per level to distribute on abilities. Pro: The assassin's poison will kill anything that you can successfully hit, whether his weapon can hurt the enemy or not. This can work wonderfully when your weapon normally would not do you any good (say you were fighting Kangaxx), and your poison would then do all your work for you. Unlike what the description says, the poison will work for the next 24 seconds, anything you hit in that time period is then poisoned, which is quite a bit more useful. Mike Lee adds this: Assassin Poison does not damage its target on the next hit, it acts like the Kensai Kiai, while the Poison Weapon ability is on all hits poison, including magical effects like Flame Blade, Seeker Sword, or Melf's Minute Meteors. Poison works completely differently than they describe as well. Each hit delivers a random amount of poison status effects, generally from 1-4 from what I've seen. Each status effect poisons, and you can save vs. each effect. You can also activate your poison weapon ability multiple times to double, triple, or quintiple your poison delivered per hit. Some of this probably changed in the patch. Con: Losing 10 thieving points per level makes the assassin a pretty poor thief. Either you can focus on 2 or 3 abilities, or you have poor ratings in all abilities. Either way, the assassin is not a very good thief at all. As for the poison ability, yes it is a useful way to add in some extra damage, but it just isn't that useful. It doesn't improve in power as you go up in level (unlike other abilities). Thieves (with the exception of the Swashbuckler) make lousy frontline fighters, and forcing him to the front is a bad decision, just for a few extra damage points spread out over 24 seconds. Pro Rebuttal: That would be when you hide in shadows, backstab the target, and let the poison do your work for you. From Chaoshunter: Assassins are a very good class, despite what some people think. Assassins aren't meant to be frontline fighters. They're made to be mage/cleric killers. With poison and a x7 backstab multiplier, you'll practically kill every mage and cleric in 1 hit. I've done over 110 non-critical backstab damage with a Celestial Fury multiple times. Con Response: Because the Assassin only gets 15 thieving points per level, if he has enough points to hide in the shadows successfully, he won't have many points in the more important Find Traps and Unlock Doors. You cannot trade those NECESSARY skills for a little better offense. ··Swashbuckler -------------- Grade: B+ ... Almost a fighter/thief already Best Races: I'd go with a Halfling as they get better thieving abilities. If you want to dual later to a mage, go with Human. If you think of the Swashbuckler as more of a fighter than a thief, make him a Half-Orc. Best Weapon Proficiencies: I'd take as many points as possible in short bows, and whatever melee weapon you like. Then go for Single Weapon style. When you switch from your bow to your melee weapon you get the AC bonus. Also you may want to devote 3 points to Two Weapon style as the Swashbuckler is one of the few classes that can get 3 points there. Max Level w/ Experience Cap: 23 General Information: This rogue is part acrobat, part swordsman, and part wit: the epitome of charm and grace. Advantages: - Bonus +1 to AC. - Another +1 to AC for every 5 levels. - +1 to hit and damage every 5 levels. - May specialize in any weapon that a thief can use - May place three stars in two-weapon fighting style proficiency Disadvantages: - No backstab multiplier. Pro: In several ways, the Swashbuckler is a better warrior than a fighter. He gains +1 to AC every 5 levels, so while a fighter starts out with 10 AC (before DEX and armor), the Swashbuckler has 9. At level 10 this goes to 8, 15 goes to 7 and 20 goes to 6 (still before armor and DEX). This AC bonus is coupled with a +1 to hit and damage, which applied 4 times is +4 to hit and damage by the end of the game. Not as good as the Kensai's bonus, but then again, the Swashbuckler isn't a Fighter either. Also, unlike a thief, the Swashbuckler can SPECIALIZE in a weapon (2 * proficiency) to get an extra +1 to hit and +2 to damage. That is a huge bonus. The difference between "Proficient" (what normal thieves get) and "Specialized" (what Swashbucklers get) is greater than the difference between the fighter's Grand Mastery and Specialized. Combine this with the first bonuses, and over a normal thief, the Swashbuckler gets +5 to hit and +6 damage by the end of the game. (If he is using a weapon he can specialize in) Even at the start of the game this bonus would be +2 and +3. And the Swashbuckler can fight well two handed. He is one of the very few classes (Fighters, Blades, Rangers, Paladins, Barbarians and Swashbucklers) that CAN get 3 stars in Two Weapon style. This makes 2 weapon fighting very feasible and powerful, giving the Swashbuckler a good extra attack. If you want a Pure Thief, the Swashbuckler is the way to go. And if you do it that way, be sure to take a Halfling Swashbuckler with 19 DEX. Con: Anyone who likes to backstab will HATE the swashbuckler. Backstabbing by the end of the game can get up to 5x damage, and you can backstab as many times as you can hit the target before the Hide in Shadows wears off (which takes 1 round, or 6 seconds to do). Imagine what you could do with 5 attacks in one round... that is the same thing as a 5x backstab. An alternative to the Swashbuckler is to start with a Human Kensai and dual at level 9 to a thief. This nets you +3 to hit and damage, can get you Grand Mastery (+2 to hit and +3 to damage) and you could still backstab for incredible damages. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Other Arguments ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ··Fighter/Mage/Thief (by Rolander) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Fighter/Mage/Thief (preferably elf) Pros: The ultimate Swiss Army Knife of BG2: All fighter mages can tank with the best of them, and then some. Using spells he can reach AC -1 with Ghost Armor and Blur, AC -5 with Dex 18/19. This is before equipment modifiers (shields, rings of protection, anything except armour). Then his tanking ability is enhanced with the spells Mirror Image and Stoneskin. In fact against the harder hitting monsters like Dragons, a fighter/mage will last longer than any of the pure fighter classes, since each image/skin of Mirror Image/Stoneskin absorbs 1 blow. Image how long it will take for a dragon to work through all the images/skins, considering the fighter/mage can match the AC of the pure fighters AND recast those protective spells on the fly 2-3 times. One of the most effective backstabbers, losing only to the Fighter/Kensai-dual-Thief or assassin. The F/M/T can reach thief level 14 at the end = x5 backstab damage. Then he also has weapon specialization to boost his damage potential. The true 1-man commando. The F/M/T combines the lesser abilities of 3 classes into 1 charactor, enabling him to backup any of the 3 classes as the situation demands and, toward the later game, granting him with enough self-reliance to blow through lesser situations alone. He can remove traps, he can backstab, he can skirmish, he can cast mage spells. About the only thing he lacks is priest spells. No other class has such versatility. Little point have a multi-class fighter/mage, fighter/thief or mage/thief when you can have a fighter/mage/thief. Consider the skill levels at start and end. F/M : 6/6 to 13/13 F/T : 6/7 to 13/16 M/T : 6/7 to 13/16 F/M/T : 5/5/6 to 11/12/14 The lesser 1-2 levels per class is more than compensated by the additional class's abilities. (the F/M/T loses out via -2 to THACO, 1 weapon proficency slot, 50 thief skill points and 1 lesser spell slot at mage levels 1,2,3 & 6). Cons: Jack-Of-All-Trades, Master-Of-None: He will never gain an outstanding THACO; fighter level 11 limits him to base THACO of 10. He can only cast level 6 mage spells toward the end of the game, and never touch level 7 and above. He has limited thief skill points; early only he can only max out 2-3 skill areas, and toward the end he'll have enough for only 4-5. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ··Single Player Party Strategies ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Baldur's Gate II - Alternative Party Forming Strategy v1.0 By - Anthony Bevivino ([email protected]) 2/1/01 There are constant debates as to which single/kit/multi/dual class is the 'most powerful' or 'best' for beating BG2 in single player mode. None of which is the reason for me writing this strategy guide. While it is true that some character classes have more plusses than others, it is entirely possible to whip BG2 with a Jester or a Totemic Druid, as easily as it is with a dualled Kensai-Mage. When I thought about how to plan out my party for my second time through the game, I thought about it from a pen & paper role-playing gamer's point of view, and not just as a computer gamer. If you really want to max out your numbers, then this is not for you. But, if you are looking for a total party building strategy, then read on. If we simplify, there are FOUR basic classes: Fighter (F), Cleric (C), Magic-User (M), and Thief (T). Each of the sub-specialties, kits, and misc. classes fall under these headings (i.e. a Barbarian is a F). Then there are Multi and Dual class, which are just combinations of the four basics, with Multi able to increase in all 2 or 3 of its classes, and Dual able to advance in only one of its two. There are 16 NPCs in the game, which I will sort by basic class. While it is important to know that Keldorn is a Paladin and Cernd is a Shapeshifter, for my purposes they are considered as a F and C, respectively. Single - Class Multi - Class Dual - Class Minsc - F Jaheira - F/C Imoen - T/M* Keldorn - F Aerie - C/M Nalia - T/M* Korgan - F Jan - T/M Anomen - F/C* Valygar - F Mazzy - F * = class that character levels up in Viconia - C Cernd - C Edwin - M Yoshimo - T Haer'Dalis - T Editor's Note: Haer'Dalis can hardly be considered a thief: he has access only to the pickpocket ability, and that is at 1/4 value. Using this data I will attempt to explain how I think about a successful single player party. The most important thing in an RPG is to be happy with 'your' character. I never enjoyed playing Fighters -- and I never will -- so even if the game is 10 times easier to beat with a Fighter/Paladin/Ranger type, I won't enjoy it as much if I play that character. Lucky for us the makers of BG2 designed a lot of flexibility into the game! In order to play the game in a balanced manner, you must have a variety of classes. This is both for the abilities of that class (fighting, spells, traps, etc.) and to use the magic items that you find. As you progress further into the game, you will need better weapons, spells, armor, etc. in order to win the battles. Having a party that contains 6 single classed fighters will not get you very far, as traps will zap you, chests will stay locked, mages will fry you, and no one will be around to heal you. In addition, there are only so many top-of-the-line magic weapons and armor, so you will have a tough time giving all your fighters great armor and weapons, and you will also have to throw away some awesome magic items because you don't have the appropriate class to use them. Note that the example with 6 fighters is extreme, but it illustrates my point. There are 6 slots for your party, 1 for you, and 5 for NPCs. I feel that a 6 person party should have 2 F, 1 C, 1 T, 1 M, and 1 of your choice. Based on my first experience through the game, and looking at the magic items available, I think that you need two front-line Fighters to beat the game, if you have 1 poor slob up front he will be dead before your arrows and spells can kill your enemies. There are just too many great magic weapons to not have two Fighter-types. The real joy of playing comes from your choice of characters. When I built my party, I thought about what class I wanted to play and then who I wanted to finish the game with, and chose my party based on that. The 'players choice' slot was used for the NPC-of-the-day, as I like to do all the quests before settling on my final party and leaving Athkatla. SLIGHT SPOILER - the 'players choice' slot is left open for Imoen, who functions as an M for my party. I think that Imoen is integral to the storyline and is meant to be with your party through the game. Again, play as you like. If you are looking for pure high-level spells there is only one single class Magic-User, Edwin, and one single class Cleric, Viconia. There are lots of Fighter-types to choose from; and, between Yoshimo, Jan, and Imoen you will always have a Thief around with enough abilities to Find & Remove Traps. I will leave it to you to decide how useful Cernd is as a Druid spellcaster for your party. I love having him around as a Greater Werewolf since he becomes a great fighter to have for a while. With the EXP cap and the level 14 limit for Druids, Jaheira can get up there in levels and swing a mean scimitar. I like the increased offensive spells of Druids, and when I read that they don't have the best healing spells and protective spells, I just remember that a dead enemy can't hurt me. If you like Druids more than Clerics, then go for it! Editor's Note: As far as Jaheira is concerned, she is better than other Druids as she can raise the dead (see Harper's Call). When I think about spell caster requirements, I also think about using the Multi or Dual NPCs. Keep in mind that Aerie will never cast high level spells like Edwin or Viconia since she splits her EXP. You do not need to cast the highest level spells to beat the game (see scrolls), so as long as you choose a party wisely, using Multi or Dual class spellcasters will work fine -- as long as you take advantage of their other abilities. For example if all you want Anomen for is to hang in the back and cast spells, ignoring his Fighter abilities, then take Viconia as your Cleric. If you want to cast some support spells and then go swing your mace, then take Anomen as your Cleric. The key is to have each class represented so that you can use magic items as they come along, and also to be able to adapt to the various battles you will face. When I play, I love to skulk around the dungeon, find the monsters, disarm the traps, and have my party come in and kick butt. Therefore I chose a Thief (Swashbuckler). As much as I love backstabbing, I wanted to dual- wield some longswords. Although, when I attack from behind I only do normal damage not x5, but I like being a semi-fighter, without having to be a multi- or dual-class. Sure a Kensai-Thief may have had better numbers, but I *enjoy* my straight Swashbuckler more, which is ultimately more important. My party will eventually be : F - Keldorn F - Mazzy C - Viconia M - Edwin T - Me! #6 - Jan -> Imoen Why? Because I tried more Multi & Dual classes last time, and because I want to mix up the alignments and hear them argue. The #6 slot will see every NPC in the game as I do their quests, and then I will grab Jan and head to Spellhold. I could just as easily fill the slots with Multi & Dual and get my class requirements handled. So that's my way of thinking about a BG2 party, and selection of my character. If you can think of other good party combinations, send them in and maybe that will be someone else's next party! Good luck and have fun! =============================================================================== < < < < < Final Words.... > > > > > =============================================================================== This FAQ was written entirely using the GWD Text Editor: (shareware) http://www.gwdsoft.com/ Special Thanks to: Chaoshunter Randy Gaw Raj Tripathy David Ware Little Bear Rolander Mike Lee Joe Thompson Chris Swartz Anthony Bevivino _________________________ Shameless Self Promotion: ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ I have also written FAQs for: NES: Disney Adventures in the Magic Kingdom Final Fantasy -- Magic FAQ The Legend of Zelda SNES: Aerobiz Aerobiz Supersonic Utopia: Creation of a Nation Genesis: StarFlight PSX: Thousand Arms -- Walkthrough -- Forging/Dating FAQ PC: Baldur's Gate & Tales of the Sword Coast -- FAQ/Walkthrough NPC List Creature List Baldur's Gate II -- FAQ/Walkthrough -- Items List Colonization -- the Single Colony Strategy Guide -- the Cheat Guide Drakan: Order of the Flame Dungeon Hack Icewind Dale -- FAQ/Walkthrough Items List Master of Magic (revision) Messiah Pharaoh (currently being edited by Red Phoenix) Planescape: Torment -- FAQ/Walkthrough Items Listing Rollercoaster Tycoon Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri The Sims Ultima 4: Quest of the Avatar Ultima 7: The Black Gate Ultima 7 Part 2: Serpent Isle Ultima Underworld -- Keyboard Commands Ultima Underworld II -- Keyboard Commands -- Spell List All of my FAQs can be found at: http://www.gamefaqs.com/features/recognition/2203.html ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ ________________ Version History: ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ Version 0.75 December 4, 2000 95k Not entirely finished, but I needed to release this now or risk not releasing it at all. Version 1.0 December 6, 2000 127k Finished the document. Version 1.1 December 7, 2000 128k Added more information to the Quick Reference section. Corrected a mistake. Corrected several more from Randy Gaw, as well as added a bit of Pro-Blade information from him. Version 1.2 December 8, 2000 128k Corrected a mistake. Version 1.3 December 12, 2000 131k Added a Pro-Thief argument from Little Bear Version 1.4 December 15, 2000 134k Added the "Other Arguments" section with the first little argument for the Fighter/Mage/Thief from Rolander. Version 1.5 December 31, 2000 135k Some small changes. Version 1.6 January 9, 2001 135k Corrected one small mistake. Version 1.7 January 23, 2001 137k Added some stuff from Chris Swartz about Sorcerers. Version 1.8 February 1, 2001 145k Created the new section dealing with Single Player Parties, which is the work of Anthony Bevivino. Version 1.9 May 16, 2001 146k Chaoshunter disagreed with my assessment of the Assassin, so his rebuttal was put in. _______________________________________________________________________________ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ This Document is Copyright 2000-2001 by Dan Simpson Baldur's Gate II is Copyright 2000 by Bioware/Black Isle/Interplay I am not affiliated with Bioware, Black Isle, Interplay or anyone who had anything to do with the creation of this game. This FAQ may be posted on any site so long as NOTHING IS CHANGED and you EMAIL ME telling me that you are posting it. You may not charge for, or in any way profit from this FAQ.